Friday, April 13, 2012

Happiness is...

A bunch of beautiful, fragrant roses and other plants picked from the yard and placed in an old milk bottle...weathered board and batten siding on one of our old farm outbuildings...and a lovely, sunny Southern spring day. Happy!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

2012 Guide to Groceries under $250 a Month Ebook by Budget 101


Check out this new ebook from the folks at Budget 101.

"In the “2012 Family Guide to Groceries under $250 a Month" the author outlines how and where to cut grocery expenses to get spending under control while opening the consumers eyes to little known dirty manipulation tactics employed by retailers to seduce unsuspecting customers into spending sprees.

For many people struggling to maintain a budget, the cost of groceries is the only major expense in their control that can be drastically reduced without feeling a negative impact on their lifestyle. Liss explains in detail how to make simple changes that will not only pinch pennies, but help pinch Benji’s too!"

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Brick Walkway--Part of the History of My Home

This post was originally written several years ago as part of a 'Show and Tell' series, and the photos are old. The shrubbery and flower beds are so different now, but I thought it would be fun to post again.

When we were in the process of gutting and remodeling my grandparent's farmhouse in 2000, my husband had to knock out the brick chimney in the center of the old part of our house in order to implement the new floor plan. Now to let you know, this chimney was never part of a fireplace. Instead, it was the hidden chimney that vented the heating stoves in three different rooms. But when my grandparents had gas heaters installed in later years, the chimney was no longer needed as the heating stoves were removed. The round holes at the top of the walls where the metal pipes once came out and connected down to the heating stoves were covered with metal ‘plates’…and that’s what I remember as a child.

When Chad started the ‘gutting’ process, he painstakingly took out the chimney, brick by brick, or at least chunk by chunk! LOL I asked him if we could knock the mortar from each brick and stack them up for a future project. Now, I am the queen of coming up with ideas, but the following through…well, that’s another story. But he humored me, and took the time to do what I asked, probably thinking that those bricks would still be sitting there twenty years later!

But I surprised him (and myself)! I hauled those bricks, wheelbarrow by wheelbarrow, around to the front of the house and laid a brick walkway from the porch steps out to side driveway and near the picket fence and arbor. I used a ‘basket-weave’ design, and I think it turned out great for a first try. The ground was fairly level, so I didn’t have to do any grading…I simply laid the bricks. And so far, after almost seven years (now 10 years), it’s still in pretty good shape. The bricks, of course, have ‘settled’ some, but otherwise it looks the same. As with everything else, I go for the ‘cottage’ look, and in my opinion, the simple little brick walkway provides the front of our home with old-fashioned appeal. Plus, whenever I walk on the bricks, I remember that they once played an important part in keeping my daddy, aunt, uncle, and grandparents warm and cozy inside their little home.

(The photo at the very top of my blog gives yet another angle of the walkway if you scroll back up to look.)

My house has a lot of family history, and I feel blessed to live here. I like to imagine my grandma hanging out her clothes on the clothesline or putting a big plate of biscuits on the table for my hard-working farmer grandpa just in from the fields. I like to imagine my daddy as a little boy, playing marbles in the yard.

Now I see my own children playing in the yard, and I have the privilege of serving up good country cooking in the very same kitchen my grandma used. I like that!

Monday, April 4, 2011

My Children, Two Phone Calls, And An Exhortation

I had originally written this post in April of 2007, and it is about what happened on my husband's birthday that year. I (hopefully) learned a good lesson that day, and I thought it was worth revisiting! Just keepin' it real!

The Lord has His ways of getting our attention and reminding us of basic spiritual and biblical principals. Sometimes He uses people to convey His message, and sometimes He uses other forms of communication. But in any case, He WILL succeed!

The other day, I had not one, but two, of His ‘reminders’…and all in one afternoon. But in my case, He used my children and two accidental phone calls as His instruments. The result: A good old helping of humble pie and an exhortation to remember the importance of a meek and quiet spirit…even during the hectic and busy times…and even when our children are trying our patience!

It was my husband’s birthday, and I wanted his birthday supper celebration to be special. But I didn’t plan very well. That afternoon, instead of readying the house for his arrival home from work and getting a head start on cooking, I was scurrying to one town to get our car tags before we had to pay a penalty. I also needed to pick up a few items in another town that I’d ‘forgotten’ the night before when I went grocery shopping. Plus, a couple of the children wanted balloons and streamers. I also needed to stop by the bank before it closed. And to top it off, I didn’t know if I’d even be home before my husband…and remember, supper wasn’t even started yet. The two youngest children were also extremely whiny and fretful from no nap (once again, my poor planning). All of this hurrying to and fro was not making for a very peaceful Mama! I admit my nerves were a bit (!) stretched and I wasn’t long on patience. No excuses here…just the plain unvarnished truth.

In a futile attempt to get the baby to hush, we handed him the cell phone to play with. Um…not a good idea unless you turn it off first. Without us knowing it, he hit the speed dial button to one of my friends. Here was the conversation that was taking place in our van at that time:
Me: "John, hush."
John: (For the gazillionth time) "Waahhhh! I want my sucker!"
Me: "John, hush!"
Erin: "John, we’re heading to the bank. We’ll get a sucker."
John: "Waahhhh! I want my sucker!"
Me: "John, I will specifically ask for a sucker."
John: "Peas, Mama."
Me: (MANY decibels louder and with much irritation)…"JOHN. IF. YOU. DO. NOT. HUSH. YOU. WILL. NOT. GET. A. SUCKER!"
John: "Es, Ma’am. Es, Ma’am. Sniffle Sniffle."

Now, instead of all of this escalating yah-yah, I could’ve calmly and rationally handled the whole situation and administered appropriate discipline as needed…all while possessing a meek and quiet spirit. But no, I was the frazzled mom tearing madly down highway trying to get to the bank before it closed.

Then all of a sudden…R-i-n-g!
Me: "Hello!"
Friend: (Laughing) "That was quite an interesting conversation I just heard."
Me: (Cringing and face beet red) "Um, really?"
Friend: (Still giggling) "Uh-huh. I just got a glimpse into the window of the (our last name) world."
Me: "Um….I hope I didn’t say anything too bad."
Friend: "Well, let’s just say that when I heard the raised voice saying, ‘If you don’t hush, you WILL NOT get a sucker’…I figured I better hang up!" (Still laughing)

You would think after that little embarrassing episode, I would’ve learned my lesson. But nooooooo…. Fast forward to finally getting home…right before my husband pulled in. And let me set the stage here. One of the twins was staying home doing more spring cleaning. Almost our whole living room was out on the front porch, because she wanted to really deep clean, dust, and vaccuum without anything in the way. And because we were focusing on other areas of the house, the kitchen was a TOTAL wreck…as in, there was not ONE surface that was cleaned off in there. The sink was full of dishes, and I was frantically trying to get the lasagna concocted and in the oven. And two of the children are wildly trying to blow up balloons and hang streamers in the living room before Daddy drives up. You know, in the room where much of the furniture and knick-knacks are still out on the front porch!

Husband drives up. He has to navigate around the coffee table at the top of the porch steps, nudge beside an end table, and step over the magazine rack to successfully make it to the entrance. Door slams in his face. "No, Daddy! Don’t come in yet! We’re not ready!" LOL Can you imagine? His children won’t let him in the house because they are ‘surprising’ him, and his wife is running around the kitchen like a maniac, hair flying in all directions, ugly look on her face as she is trying to get his favorite meal in the oven…fussing at anyone who cares to listen!!! Happy Birthday, Honey! LOL

So the soupy lasagna is finally in the oven nowhere near to being ready. I think..okay, we’ll change the order of things and give him his new coffee maker…so he can use it after supper to make coffee to go with his chocolate birthday cake (that still isn’t finished)! "Have a seat, Honey, and I’ll get your present!" (Happy smiles through bared teeth)

Phone rings.
Friend: "May I speak to Wesley?"
Elisabeth: "Wesley, telephone."
(I tear out the room in my haste to get the gift. Wesley leaves the kitchen and disappears into his room, so I assume he’s off the phone. Um…don’t make assumptions.)
Me: Wesley, come on. We’re giving Daddy his gift. Wesley, where are you?"
Wesley: I’ll be there in just a minute, Mama. I’m looking for something."
(Finally, the stress of the day catches up with me big time, and I HAVE HAD ENOUGH of children who apparently aren’t minding their mama. By the way, is that burning garlic bread I smell??!)
Me: (Gritting teeth) "I DON’T CARE WHAT YOU ARE DOING! GET IN HERE RIGHT THIS VERY MINUTE! WE. ARE. GIVING. YOUR. DADDY. HIS. GIFT! NOWWWWWWW! (I think there was a growl in that last word)!
Wesley: (Enters room with pale face and points to the waiting phone receiver…that IS STILL OFF THE HOOK …and connected to friend!) When he picks up the receiver, silence…obviously hung up on the other end. I probably scared our friend half to death…especially since my yell-fest was right beside the telephone! What kind of mother am I??!!! I’m sure our friend was thinking…I’m glad that’s not MY mama! Poor Wesley! LOL

I sort of threw the coffee pot box into my husband’s lap with a quick "Happy Birthday" and hurried to call our friend back to apologize! Yes, it was definitely one of ‘those’ kind of days and after some contemplation, I learned a few things!

I would never ever talk to my friends or acquaintances in a hateful or impatient tone of voice…and how much more important is my family??!! I’ve often heard that ‘character is who you are when you think no one is looking.’ Yes, that’s correct. But true character is also who you are in front of your children! Sometimes, I need to carefully examine my character! I do realize that there is a time to deal with disobedient or fussy children, but there are proper avenues for that. Losing my temper shouldn’t be an option. In all things, self-control.

Also, no matter what level of stress or irritation I may be experiencing, the Lord still commands and exhorts me to have a meek and quiet spirit…no excuses! It is of great price in the sight of God! (1 Peter 3:4) My children are my treasures. I need to treat them as such! And I want them to remember a mama who was patient, loving, and kind. That’s the legacy I want for them. I want them to remember me as one who drew strength from the Lord during the trying times and valiantly tried to crucify the flesh. Oh, how I fail in this area so many, many times!

Even though it was an extremely embarrassing and humbling experience for my friends to inadvertently hear me lose my temper at my children’s expense via telephone, there is Another who hears me all the time…24/7. And He’s much more important than any other. I need to remember His presence, His teachings, and His exhortation for me to strive to lead a godly life. I need to pray for His guidance and mercy, every day, every hour. Without Him I am nothing!

That’s the lesson I learned, and I thank the Lord for loving me enough to get my attention…even though He had to recruit my children, some unsuspecting friends, and a telephone to do it! He is faithful…may I be as well!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Strawberry Cobbler


4 cups cut up strawberries
3/4 cup water
1 3/4 cup sugar
1 stick butter
1 3/4 cup self rising flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place berries in a 9×13 greased baking dish. Mix water and 3/4 cup of the sugar; mix well and pour over berries. Mix flour, butter, and the rest of the sugar until crumbly. Sprinkle on top of the berry mixture. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown. Optional: serve with ice cream.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Decorating With Old Windows

We live in my grandparent’s remodeled 1930′s farmhouse. This is the house where my daddy was raised, and where I spent MANY happy hours with my grandma. My grandpa died when I was three, but I remember him too. I grew up right next door, and I was in and out of this house all the time. My mama jokes and says that my sister and I would find out what she was cooking for supper, then ask my grandma what SHE was cooking for supper. If we didn’t like the supper at our house, we just made ourselves at home out here! LOL

Anyway, I have a personal ‘relationship’ with my house. You can see other posts and pictures here, here, and here showing special things about it. But I love using old things to decorate, and things that have a special significance to my past and heritage are even better. So when we gutted and remodeled the house back in 1999 and had to replace all the old windows, we kept all of them out at the barn. My mama and daddy had plans for some of them too. Below are a few pics of some of the things that we’ve done with them.

First of all, a preacher friend of my mama and daddy’s used some of the windows to build this conservatory. Now I WANT one too!

Now, here’s another idea that I got from Angie over at The Happy Homebody.
After scraping off excess peeling paint, I stained one of the windows with a nice Italian sage green, backed it with burlap, and propped it over my mantel. Then I used some ribbon to coordinate with my living room colors and hung a nice ‘Home Is Where Our Story Begins’ sign in front. When I decorated for Christmas, I hung a wreath and a seasonal sign that said "It's A Wonderful Life" that my daughter painted for me.

One last photo. I propped one of the old windows (peeling paint and all) up on a small entry table beside my front door. I know it looks rather bare here, but since this photo was taken, I've used it to display seasonal decorations such as wreaths, garlands, signs, snowflakes, etc. I LOVE it!

We also have some old outbuildings from when this house was constructed. One is a pump house, and I have plans to repaint it, and hang one of the windows complete with window box underneath on one side. That project is right up there with repainting the picket fence! Sigh…..

Decorating with old's a good thing!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Nonfiction Monday: P is for Peach--A Georgia Alphabet

P is For Peach: A Georgia Alphabet

Written by: Carol Crane

Illustrated by: Mark Braught

Published by: Sleeping Bear Press

  • ISBN 13: 9781585360468
  • ISBN 10: 1585360465

Sometimes you just find a book or series that makes your heart beat a bit faster, and you know you’ve hit a resource jackpot! That’s how I felt as I was browsing the non-fiction shelves in the juvenile section of our regional library last week. A picture book with a beautifully illustrated cover of a peach tree caught my eye, so I pulled it off the shelf for a closer look. I was so excited to find that it was P is for Peach: A Georgia Alphabet by Carol Crane, and I quickly started flipping through the pages. All I can say is WOW—a geography/history/alphabet book all in one! And of course, being a Georgia gal AND a history/geography buff, I put it in my ‘check out’ stack with a sigh of contentment and a feeling of anticipation!

Sleeping Bear Press has found a niche for educators, homeschoolers, elementary school students, and state history enthusiasts with their wonderful series, Discover America State By State. A few other book titles in the series include:

L is for Lonestar: A Texas Alphabet

S is for Sunshine: A Florida Alphabet

T is for Tar Heel: A North Carolina Alphabet

L is for Last Frontier: An Alaskan Alphabet

P is for Peach is the perfect book to introduce young children to the alphabet AND the wonders and natural splendors of Georgia, but it also contains thorough information appropriate for older children and adults as well—no fluff here! In fact, according to the Sleeping Bear Press/Gale website, here is a description of the book:

“As you travel through the Okefenokee Swamp, keep an eye out for Tiger Swallowtails and Brown Thrashers, and be sure to pick some Yellow Confederate Daisies before taking a nap under a Live Oak Tree. This is the Georgia that becomes a wondrous reality within the beautiful rhyming verses of Carol Crane and the colorful images of Mark Braught. At the same time the rhymes entertain and inform younger readers, Crane's in-depth expository text will appeal to older ones, creating a two-tiered teaching tool for educators in the Peach State and across the country.”

Carol Crane has done an excellent job compiling information and fascinating facts about Georgia, and the illustrator, Mark Braught, adds much to the book with his gorgeous and vivid illustrations. Well done! I like this picture book so much, that I plan to purchase a copy for my own state history bookshelf! And an extra bonus? There is a free teacher’s guide on the Sleeping Bear Press/Gage website to go along with this book and the others in the series as well. I plan on using the book and the teacher’s guide to add more interest and variation to our Georgia history studies.

For more information about P is for Peach, or any of the other Discover America State by State books, check out the website above. Highly recommended!

For more great Nonfiction posts, head on over to Practically Paradise, (the host for today's round-up).