Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Our Christmas Eve

We went to Jimmy's parents house for lunch on Christmas Eve.  Both Jimmy's brother, Russ and his sister, Jenny and their families were able to attend too.  We enjoyed a delicious meal, and then we exchanged gifts.  It was fun and festive.
Here are some pictures from the day.

Later that night I gave the children their annual Christmas Eve gift.  They always guess what it is before they open it!  
This year they were store bought…..I just never found the time to sew…..

 What could be inside??

 Surprise!  Matching pajamas!

All dressed and ready for bed!

Monday, December 30, 2013

The Johnson Christmas Party

Last Monday night we hosted a gathering for Jimmy's family.  I cooked chicken vegetable soup and taco soup, and I provided the paper goods and drinks.  Everyone else brought an appetizer or dessert, and we enjoyed a fun evening of food and fellowship.  Our dear friends Kelly and Lynn and their four children joined us.  They were honorary Johnsons for the evening!  
Here are some highlights of the night.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Catching Up

What a great week of celebrating it has been!  We have had so much fun beginning last Friday night.  Jimmy has been off all week (until tonight), and that has been so much fun!

I have several events and pictures to share……here are the first few events.

Sugar cookie decorating.  As long as I can remember, I bake sugar cookies from the same recipe, and then I let my children decorate them.  When they were younger, they basically just dumped sprinkles on them, but now that they are older, the cookies turn out beautifully.  

We saved cookie decorating until Olivia got home from college, and the only time we could squeeze it in was last Friday night at 10:00 PM.  But we got it done, and here are some pictures.

Last Saturday we celebrated Christmas with my parents, my brothers and their families, and my grandmother.  We gathered at my brother Ryan's house.
As I reviewed the pictures, I saw that we did not have pictures of everyone that I could post (you know no one wants to share their picture when their eyes are closed or they are making a crazy face).  So here is a sampling of the fun day!

 It was so hot!  On December 21!
The kids enjoyed playing basketball.

 My daddy and his mother, Momo.

 Johnson (my nephew) and Momo
 Amanda (my sister-in-law) and my nephew Davis

 The boys playing pool.

 Uncle Ryan (my brother) giving Sam some pointers.
Wesley (my nephew), looking on in the background.

 My daddy

Clay, Jimmy, Sam, and Bounds (my nephew).

Our next gathering, the very same day, was at Jimmy's Uncle Fred's house.  He and his wife Dianne had recently renovated Jimmy's grandmother's house, and they hosted a housewarming for all the Johnsons.

 enjoying supper

 more people eating BBQ

 some of the cousins in the hallway
We were actually under a tornado warning for part of the evening.  We herded the children into the hallway, and I stayed close by there too.  The men hung out in front of the TV weather, and everyone was checking their phones.
Everything was fine!  We had lots of rain, but thankfully, no storm damage.

On Monday, we had a surprise visit from the Sanders!  They brought us a treat and sang a Christmas carol for us.  Jimmy took Greg for a 4 wheeler ride, and all of us girls enjoyed a short visit.

Also on Monday, Olivia made her gingerbread house.  We had a friend over, and he made one too.  They turned out beautifully!

 Olivia with her gingerbread house

 pretty, pretty house!

Daniel with his gingerbread house.

Just a sweet picture of sisters!

Monday's fun continued on into the night!  We hosted our annual Johnson Christmas Party, beginning at 7:00 PM.

Pictures and recap to come!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Tis the Season to be Jolly

We have had such a fun and busy week!  I think I have done everything that I needed to do.  We have baked all the goodies, including decorating homemade sugar cookies until 11:00 PM one night!  I have all of my presents wrapped, but the children are still crafting and wrapping.  Everyone loves to have a nice surprise for his or her siblings.

We celebrated Christmas with my side of the family yesterday.  It was a HOT day, so the kids enjoyed playing outside.  We had lots of fun, and Leah and Sam have been playing with their new Stuffies all day.  Jimmy took lots of pictures, so hopefully I can share some of those soon.

Yesterday we also attended a housewarming at one of Jimmy's uncle's home.  More fun with cousins!

Last week we saw Frozen.  We all enjoyed it immensely.  We ended the evening with dessert at Cracker Barrel, and that was fun too!

Running--I ran twice last week.  Three miles on the treadmill on Monday, and 5.85 miles outside with Jimmy.  That was such a pleasant run!  And then on Friday, I met Leanna for a planned 9 mile run.  However, it was raining, and since neither of us has a marathon to run in the near future, we decided that we did not want to run in the rain.  So Leanna just got inside my car, and we visited for about half an hour.  And then we went home!  A fun run that wasn't.  I really don't have firm running plans for this week either, but the week after Christmas I plan to get serious again.  I am running a half marathon on February 8, so I need to be prepared for that.

Enjoy your holiday week.  I am looking forward to the excitement with my family this week.

Monday, December 16, 2013


We have enjoyed having Olivia home so much!  We have already baked three different holiday goodies, and yesterday we delivered 40+ buckets of treats to members of our church family.  We plan on cooking one or two things today.  Also, the children have their final piano lessons for the semester this afternoon.  That means that Sam has one last session of running errands with Mama this afternoon.  While Julie, Clay, and Leah are at piano, Sam and I run all over town, marking things off my list.  He does not enjoy this too much!  But I usually try to buy him a treat of gum or a candy bar or something at a check-out counter each week.

Saturday I attended our annual Ladies' Brunch and Ornament Swap.  This is always such a fun event, and this year was no different.  Grown ladies can be very funny (and sneaky) when playing dirty Santa with beautiful Christmas ornaments.  I got a very large ornament that I hung in the doorway between my kitchen and my den.  It is red and green and sparkly.

After the brunch, and since I was fortified with lots of coffee and mocha punch, I planned to finish my Christmas shopping.  I had a typed list, organized by store.  Unfortunately, everyone else in northeast Mississippi had the same idea and town was crowded!  It was crazy!  I made it to Sam's, Walmart, Lifeway (where I had to park in the O'Charley's parking lot because there were no parking spots left at Lifeway!), and then the mall.  Only I did not even get to every store on my list in the mall.  Nor did I get to the Dollar Tree, Trails and Treads, or Kohl's.  It was 5:00 PM when I decided that I needed to go home to cook supper.  Normally it takes me 10-12 minutes to get home from the mall.  Saturday at 5:00, it took 45 minutes!

Thankfully, sweet Olivia had prepared supper.  She is so happy to be at home doing all things domestic and crafty!  She has worked on the puzzle I bought for her, made a snowflake mobile, crocheted gifts, and read for pleasure.  All of my children are staying busy crafting presents for each other and for for other people too.  I have wrapped and wrapped and wrapped, and thankfully everyone in the family has helped me too.  I love Christmas gift wrap and ribbon!

I plan to run 3 miles this morning.  I have rested since December 7th (the crazy, freezing cold marathon!)  I have requested to switch my registration for the Mississippi River Marathon from the full marathon to the half marathon.  I am not mentally up for marathon training right now.  Or really physically either--I need to reserve my energy for full-force homeschooling beginning January 7th.

I also plan to finish my Christmas shopping today.  Surely, town won't be as crowded today!

One last Holiday Hint:  If you are giving a gift that needs to be charged, consider charging it before wrapping it.  If you charge it the day before you give it, chances are it will be ready to be used right out of the box.  I also insert any needed batteries into toys and games before I wrap them.

Friday, December 13, 2013


Olivia is home!

She got home about 10:20 last night.  Jimmy drove to the airport to pick her up, and we all stayed up watching Les Mis (the concert DVD, not the movie) and shelling pecans while waiting for them to arrive.  Speaking of pecans--we are almost through shelling them.  What a project!  Jimmy's dad brought us a very large box FULL of cracked pecans.  We will finish them today, and I should have enough pecan halves in my freezer to last me a year!

Today's plans include my weekly grocery shopping, wrapping some presents, keeping the laundry going, beginning our holiday baking and working a new Christmas puzzle.  It is 1000 pieces!  I set up a card table in my kitchen earlier this month just for puzzles.  Jimmy and the children have already worked two puzzles, but this new one will be the biggest challenge of all!

Olivia was sad that she has missed 12 days of Christmas, but I assured her that we would be celebrating in full force the entire time she is home.  As soon as she wakes up (and I'm sure I will be back from Kroger before she awakens) we will begin the holiday fun!

Here is my upcoming menu.  I tried to plan as healthy meals as possible since we are baking Christmas goodies.  I am sure there will be lots of sampling going on!

Friday: roasted new potatoes, broccoli, asparagus
green beans, bread

Saturday: lunch--enchilada bake, supper--quinoa salad,
oven fries, green salad

Sunday: rice and beans, salad

Monday: lentil and chickpea curry

Tuesday: pesto pasta, salad

Wednesday: Julie cooks

Thursday: skillet refried beans, taco fixings

A Running Update:
I have rested since last Satuday's marathon fiasco.  I am still unsure of my upcoming running plans, but I will begin something on Monday.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Holiday Baking

My project for today is to buy all the supplies needed for my holiday baking.  I already have purchased the containers to put the goodies in.  Olivia comes home tonight (yay!) and I want to have everything all ready for us to cook tomorrow!

Last night I began making my list.  However, I could not find all of my Christmastime recipes!  I had them all typed in one document and saved on our computer that crashed a couple of years ago.  I did have a printout of these recipes, but only 2 pages were in my recipe binder……I have no idea where the other pages are!  So, I searched the archives of my blog and found the missing recipes.  I am going to retype the recipes and save them on my laptop.  I am also going to post them below so that I will have them readily available.

Christmas Recipes

Neiman Marcus Cookies
2 cups butter
2 cups sugar
2 cups brown sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
4 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
5 cups blended oatmeal (measure oatmeal first, then grind to flour in a food processor or blender)
24 oz. chocolate chips
1 8 oz. Hersey bar, grated
3 cups chopped pecans

Cream butter and both sugars. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix in a separate bowl the flour, salt, baking soda and powder, and oatmeal flour. Slowly add to the butter/sugar mixture. Add chocolate chips, grated Hersey bar, and nuts. Drop by spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet. Bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes.

Bumpy Cookies
1 pkg. vanilla candy coating
3 cups mini marshmallows
2 cups crunchy peanut butter
1 jar roasted peanuts
4 cups rice krispies

Melt candy coating in microwave following package directions. Stir in peanut butter. Mix all other ingredients in a large bowl. Pour candy/peanut butter mixture over and mix thoroughly. Drop by spoonfuls onto waxed paper. Allow to cool and set for about 30 minutes.

Rice Krisipe Goodies
1 cup light Karo syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup peanut butter
6 cups rice krispies
1 bag chocolate chips
1 bag butterscotch chips

Heat karo syrup and sugar over medium low heat until melted and blended. Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter. Pour mixture over the rice krispies. Press into a greased 9 x 13 baking dish. Melt chocolate and butterscotch chips together in microwave. Spread over rice krispies. Place dish in refrigerator for about 30 minutes. Cut into small squares. Store at room temperature.

Reindeer Food
1 bag milk chocolate chips
1 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup butter
1 13 oz. box rice chex
3 cups powdered sugar

Melt chips, peanut butter, and butter in the microwave. Stir to combine. Pour over cereal, stirring gently. Pour powdered sugar over all and toss gently. Spread onto waxed paper to cool. After completely dry, store in air tight containers or bags.

Seasoned Oyster Crackers
1 box oyster crackers
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 package Ranch dressing mix powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. dill weed
1/4 tsp. lemon pepper seasoning

Mix oil and seasonings in a large mixing bowl. Add box of crackers and toss to completely coat.

Sugar Cookies
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup softened butter
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. almond extract
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda

Cream butter and sugar. Add egg, vanilla, and almond extract. Mix. Gradually add the flour and baking soda. Divide dough into 4 discs, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate. Chill for at least 2 hours. Preheat oven to 375. Roll cookie dough onto a floured surface and use cookies cutters to cut into desired shapes. Bake cookies for 8-10 minutes. Move to wire racks to cool. When cookies are completely cool, decorate with royal icing.

I follow the recipe on the back of the meringue powder can. You can buy meringue powder at Walmart or Hobby Lobby. All you need in addition to the meringue powder is water and powdered sugar. We divide the icing into small bowls and use food coloring or paste to color the icing a variety of colors.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Enjoying Your Children

I have a post today at The Homeschool Classroom.  It's about the days being long, but the years being short regarding raising children.  The time really does pass quickly.  Olivia has finished her finals and has survived her first semester of college!  She flies home tomorrow afternoon.  We are so excited!

I spent yesterday cleaning my basement and wading through the boxes and bags of gifts that I have bought.  I organized my gifts, my ribbon, and my other wrapping supplies.  I actually began wrapping gifts today!  Yesterday we also attended our Spartan Skating Christmas party, and then I joined Lynn and Leanna and all of our children at Kelly's office for pizza and hot chocolate.  Then we walked a block to watch the Tupelo Christmas Parade.  IT WAS COLD.  And it is just a little too close to last Saturday when I nearly froze to death for me to enjoy being outside in the cold again!

Today's fun included cleaning the upstairs (this took us quite a while!) and then we watched Emmet Otter's Jugband Christmas while shelling pecans.  We weren't through with the pecans when the movie ended, so we began The Christmas That Almost Wasn't.  After 2.5 hours of shelling pecans, even while watching Christmas movies, the kids were weary of pecan shelling!  So even though we were a only little over halfway done with the huge box of pecans my father-in-law brought us yesterday, we called it a day.  We plan to finish shelling tomorrow!  Thankfully, the pecans are already cracked, so it's not as hard as it could be.

I'm off to wrap more presents!

Don't forget to click here to read about enjoying your children while they are still living at home!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A Fun Service Project

Way back in October, during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I began my now hopefully annual sewing service project--drain bags and comfort pillows for mastectomy and reconstruction patients.  I posted pictures of this project last year, but I can't remember if I posted the directions.  I will include them today.

I invited Leanna, Julie, and Megan to help.  Megan and Millie Janalee came over one Saturday and spent the entire day sewing (and visiting too!).  On that day Julie, Megan, and I cut out all of the pieces for the 72 drain bags and the 72 comfort pillows!  That's a lot of cutting!  Earlier in the week, I took the rolls of ribbon to Spartan XC practice, and several of the mothers cut all of the ribbon for this project.  Then we began sewing, serging, ironing, and turning.  And while we made a dent in the project, it was nowhere near finished. Such is the story of most of my great ideas and projects--they take way, way longer than I ever anticipate.

But not to worry!  I recruited Leanna to help with the sewing, which she happily agreed to.  She completely sewed, stuffed, and finished 36 pillows!  That was a huge contribution!  Julie and I made the other 36 pillows plus finished the drain bags over the course of three or four weeks.  I mostly sewed in 30 minute sessions (using my timer!) when I could find the time.

I enlisted Leah, Sam, Julie, and Clay to assist with pinning on the safely pins and bagging the bags and pillows.  Then, finally, on the second Monday in November, I delivered the finished project.  I divided the bags between the Women's First Resource Center and the Breast Care Center, both located in Tupelo.

I did not meet my goal of finishing and delivering this donation during the month of October, but that's ok!  Women have breast cancer surgery all twelve months of the year! 

Here are some pictures.

 supplies on my crafting table

 fun fabric!

 a close-up of how we attached the ribbon to the inside of the drainage bags

 finished, packaged sets

 a pillow

a drain bag holder

Here are the instructions--I am copying and pasting an email that I sent to a friend last year who requested these directions.  They really are easy to make!  

I did not have a pattern.  I just layed out the drain bags and pillow that the hospital gave me when I had my mastectomy and measured them, adding 1 inch to the length and width of the pillow for 1/2 inch seams and adding 1.5 inches to the length and 1 inch to the width of the drain bags for seams and to turn down the top edge of the bags.  We cut our pillow pieces 9" x 11", and the drain bag pieces 7" x 9".

We just cut two pieces for each bag and pillow.  We used a cutting mat and a rotary cutter.  I bought a yard of each different fabric--buying fabrics in sets of two coordinating colors.    I also bought matching rolls of satin ribbon.  You need two pieces of ribbon for each drain bag, and one safety pin per bag.  The bags are tied into bows or knots so they are hanging at the correct height for the patient, and then they pin the ribbon knot/bow to their bra strap.  You will also need polyfill stuffing for the pillows.  They need to be stuffed lightly.  It is not like you would stuff a pillow for your sofa or bed...just a thin layer for comfort--they are placed in the underarm area for general comfort, or on the side of your breast when you want to try to lie down on your side.  I am guessing we stuffed them about 2-3 inches thick.

We serged the top sides (the 7 in. side has the open top) of the drain bags before sewing them together.  Then we placed the two sides right sides together and sewed around the sides and bottom.  Iron down the serged edge one inch to the wrong side.  Turn the bags.  we used two ribbons per bag, cut to 18 inch lengths. We caught them into the seam as we top stitched the outside top of the bag.  (See photo above).

 The finished pillows are a little bit smaller than a spiral bound notebook, and the drain bags need to be able to hold 2 drains each and their tubing---the drains are about the size of your fist, but they are not that filled out.....they are squeezed when emptied and then they fill as fluid drains into them.  Two drains fit in the bags we made just fine.  Some women only have one drain per side.

We packaged our sets with two pillows and two drain bags per set inside 2 gallon zip lock bags.  I tried to choose happy, brightly colored fabrics. The drains bags will only be used by the patients for a week or so, but the pillows may be used for months.