Friday, December 31, 2010

As 2010 Comes To An End

I want to thank each of you for your visits to my blog this past year and for the wonderful comments you've left.

I want to thank those of you whose blogs I've visited most every single day. Each of you are so very special and I feel as though we have become friends. I've laughed and cried with you and I've prayed with and for you too.

From our Oklahoma home to yours

AD and I want to wish you a very Happy and Blessed New Year!

However you choose to see the old year out and the new year in, please be safe and I'll see you soon!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Memories

Many bloggers have posted some of their favorite Christmas memories.

Here's some of mine. Sorry, there are no photos because I've just been too busy to find the ones that go along with them.

1. In 1972 one of the local photo shops started taking photos of children with Santa very early - like November 19, which happened to be Son's 2nd birthday. Taking advantage of getting a birthday and Christmas photo at the same time, I put Son in his overalls and a t-shirt (it was warm that year) and off we went. While sitting on Santa's lap, Son had a bit of an accident. The photo is great - there's just this dark blue spot on his overalls.

2. The year Son was in kindergarten and we went to see Santa at one of the shopping centers. Santa asked Son how old he was and if he was in school. Son replied he was in kindergarten and Santa asked what his teacher's name was. When Son told him, Santa said, "Well, you go to Wilson Elementary" and then started talking to Son about the principal of the school among other things. You'd think that would pretty much make a believer out of Son but when we left, as we were walking across the parking lot Son asked me who Santa was. I asked him who he thought Santa was and he paused before saying, "I think he's my dad." I couldn't lie to him and told him he was right but not to say anything to any other children. He thought about that for awhile before saying, "I really like dressing up for Halloween. Let's not tell Dad I know so he can still dress up like Santa at Christmas."

3. The year Daughter was 3 1/2 she was Mary in our church pre-school's program. The shepherds, Mary and Joseph walked down the center aisle to the front of the church. The Wise Men came in from the side and up one level from the manger. Well, our miss Mary decided that one of the Wise Men wasn't doing something right as they were coming in so she hiked up her robes and climbed up to the level the Wise Men were on and proceeded to tell the Wise Man what he was doing wrong. My cheeks could have rivaled Rudolph's nose in color. Years later I can laugh about it.

4. The year G3 walked into the house upon arriving and told me that his dad said my plastic snowmen were "cheesy." One thing led to another with Son saying that they were as bad as "those awful pink flamingos people put in their yard." Now if you've been reading my blog very long you know we have a thing about flamingos here and that's how it all started.

5. Last year's big Christmas snow. That's one I won't soon forget.

#1 through #4 are amusing Christmas memories. #5 - not so much.

Next year and in the years to come I'll remember that this year was the year I was introduced to the following song. It says a lot and has become one of my favorite Christmas songs. If you haven't heard it, I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. You can read more about the song and how it came to be at here.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Two Candy Recipes

Monday I made a couple of batches of candy. Both are fairly quick and easy to put together if you have a candy thermometer.

The first one I made is Praline Pecans. The list of ingredients are: 1 cup sugar, 1 cup packed brown sugar, 1/2 cup water, 2 tablespoons honey, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 3 teaspoons vanilla extract, 1/4 teaspoon rum extract and 3 cups pecan halves.

In a heavy saucepan combine both sugars, water, honey and cinnamon. Stir to combine, then bring to a boil over medium heat. DO NOT STIR. Insert a candy thermometer into the syrup and heat until the thermometer reads 240 degrees F. (Soft Ball Stage).

Sorry but I didn't get a picture of that last part. 

Remove the pan from the heat and add extracts. Cool to lukewarm without stirring.

When the mixture is lukewarm, beat it with a mixer for 2 to 3 minutes our until creamy. Then stir in pecans until coated. You need to work quickly before the candy hardens too much. Turn onto waxed paper (the mixture will be a bit sticky) and separate into small clumps.

Cool for a few hours or until dry and sugary. Store in an airtight container.


The second recipe is for Caramels. My older sister gave me this recipe years ago and people always seem to enjoy it.

The list of ingredients is: 1 cup butter (or margarine), 1 pound brown sugar, dash of salt, 1 cup corn syrup, 1 (15 ounce) can Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. If desired, chopped pecans can also be added.

First melt the butter in a heavy, large saucepan.

Stir in brown sugar until it's melted.

Add salt, corn syrup and Eagle Brand milk. Stir well.

Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thermometer reaches 245 to 250 degrees F. (Firm Ball Stage).

Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Chopped pecans can be added at this time if desired. I use 1 and 1/2 cups chopped pecans.) 

Pour candy into a buttered 9x13" pan. (I sprayed my pan and lined it with parchment paper so that 2 of the ends extended over the edges. That way I could just take the whole slab of candy out of the pan later.)

Once the candy is cool, cut it into pieces and wrap each in a piece of waxed paper.

It was much easier for me to take the whole slab of candy out of the pan before cutting into pieces.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Goats

We do live in the country but we don't have any animals other than our 4 dogs.

I do have several friends though that blog about their various animals and when I saw this YouTube video I knew I wanted to share it with all of you.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Santa Came A Little Early This Year

Santa stopped by yesterday to bring AD this for Christmas. He (Santa) said he had to bring it a little early because it wouldn't fit in his sleigh.

Somehow I think the gifts I have for AD are going to pale in comparison.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Buck Stopped Here

Last winter when AD started leaving feed out for the deer we had lots of does visit but not one buck.

This year a buck stopped here - a few times.

I'm sure glad he made it through deer season!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Bull-Nose Corners

A couple of days ago or so I was reading one of my favorite blogs, Eat, Fart and Bark. She is one busy, talented lady! And she has 3 growing boys (which probably has a lot to do with the name of her blog.) Anyway, they are in the middle of a room remodel. In her last post she mentioned that she used a 'plastic corner bead' in the room and liked how it finished. She also said she now knows what to do with the corner edge in her kitchen, family room, and stairway.

I commented on the post saying that when we built our home we had the corners where walls meet bull-nosed and how well I liked them. (When G1 was just a toddler we were babysitting him and he ran smack dab into one of the corners in our hallway, split his head open and had to have I don't know how many stitches. If that corner had been finished with a bull-nose G1 would have probably only come away with a nasty bump on his forehead.)

Anyway, I got a comment on my last post asking if I'd post some pictures of the bull-nose. I really thought we were talking about the same thing, but maybe not, so here are some pictures. The material that is attached to the corners to give the edge a rounded effect reminds me somewhat of PVC pipe.

Our walls are textured and this is what the corners looked like after the texture was applied.

And this is what it looks like after it was painted.

I also mentioned in my comment the only drawback to the rounded corners is that when there's a corner between two different rooms and the rooms are different colors, one has to have a pretty steady hand (or painters tape) to make a nice line that separates the colors.

You can see what I mean if you look on the left-hand side of the above photo. Our living room is a desert sand color and the breakfast area and kitchen are a shade of green.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Combining a Science Project With a Christmas Cookie

Today Lanyardlady had a Cookie Baking Day with her daughter. You can read about it here and she's included a wonderful recipe for Cranberry White Chocolate Cookies too.

After reading about her day I decided to tell you about the last time I baked a cookie.

When we returned from Branson last Sunday afternoon G2 asked me to help him make a model of a plant cell. We tossed around ideas of materials to use. Play Dough was mentioned, styrofoam was another consideration, but in the end cookie dough and candies won out.

G2 called his mom to see if she had a roll of cookie dough (we had to get it done Sunday night and so pre-made cookie dough would be a big help). She didn't have a roll of cookie dough but she did have a package of Gingerbread Cookie Mix. He ran home to get it while I pulled sprinkles, regular and mini M&Ms, orange slices, and sliced almonds out of the pantry and some left over frosting out of the refrigerator.

G2 put together some labels using toothpicks, papers printed with the cell part names and tape while I mixed up the cookie dough. Once the cookie was baked and cooled, we went about putting it altogether.

G2 received an A on the project and he told me some of the kids in his class enjoyed taste-testing his plant cell model. Much better than styrofoam or Play Dough, I'd say!

I've also got more cookie baking coming up this week!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

"A Blog With Substance Award"

Yesterday a.k.a. Gramma passed on the above award to me! I so appreciate the thought. It's always nice to be recognized.

Along with thanking the one who recognized your blog, the recipient is also asked to sum up their blogging philosophy, motivation, and experiences using five words.

So, here goes -

My philosophy about blogging is to write about things and places that I find interesting. I've learned a great deal from other bloggers that I might never have known if it weren't for the topics they write about.

My motivation came after reading blogs for several months. I'd read about lots of places I've never been, found WONDERFUL recipes to try, and just learned lots of facts I'd never known. I wanted people to know about some of the things that make my little corner of the world special and since I love to cook, maybe pass on some recipes that I've used over the years.

My experience in blogland has been nothing less that wonderful. I've made many friends I would never have known otherwise and just enjoy their "virtual" company most every single day.

The last thing on the agenda is to pass the award on to some deserving bloggers. This is the hardest part of all because there are so many out there. Some bloggers prefer to have their blogs remain "award free" and I truly understand and respect their wishes.

I picked 3 bloggers to recognize. They are:

Parsley at Seasons of My Mind
Bren at Grace on the Narrow Path and
Bobbi from Gracie Owns Me

Each of these lovely ladies have much to offer on their blogs. Drop by and say hi! I think you'll enjoy meeting them.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Christmas In Silver Dollar City

If you read yesterday's post you know that AD, G2 and I went to the Dixie Stampede on Saturday morning and then went to Silver Dollar City later in the day.

We arrived about 3:30 and it was pretty cold. The picture above was taken just after we went through the turnstile and just before you enter the "City." It's one of my favorite picture spots. G2 took the photo because he didn't want his picture taken.

I headed straight to the back of the park to see if there was a chance I could get in to see Silver Dollar City's production of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol while AD and G2 went to see what rides were open. (Like I said, it was cold and sometimes rides will be shut down due to the temperature.)

The theater or Opera House, as it's called, holds lots of people and the next show was at 3:45. From past experience I really knew I didn't have a chance of getting a seat 15 minutes before the show. And I was right. This is one of the most popular shows at Silver Dollar City and there's ALWAYS a line.

The line for the 5:45 show was already forming although some people thought they were still in line for the one at 3:45. Silly people! So as the word started getting around that there would be a 2 hour wait - in the cold - for the next show, the line started to shrink putting me closer and closer to the head of the line.

I've seen the production many times (in fact one year I actually stood in line to see it twice in one day) but it's just so outstanding - in my opinion and the opinion of many others - that it's well worth the wait.

You meet some really nice people standing in line and this time was no exception. As the temperature dropped and the wind picked up we passed the time talking about lots of things. The people I happened to be talking to had tried to get in to see the show last year but wasn't able to stand in line so they were determined to see it this year. I told them they wouldn't be disappointed. I didn't see them after the show so I don't know what they thought but I can't imagine them thinking they'd wasted their time.

This is my favorite part of the whole show. The Ghost of Christmas Present is a hoot! She's not the original Ghost but her performance was every bit as good as her predecessor's.

Once inside the theatre I discovered the battery was low on my camera. Ugh! So I limited myself to only a few photos. You have no idea how hard that is for me! Flash photography is strictly prohibited so I did the best I could.  (And it does "snow" inside the theatre at the end of the show.")

I immediately saw this sight as I came out of the theatre. I wish my photo did the scenery justice. Silver Dollar City decorates with millions of lights - and that's not an exaggeration.

At the front of the park there's a huge tree that is lit every night starting at 6:00. Music plays and the lights dance up and down the tree to the music. It's quite a sight to behold.

There's also a short parade a couple of times a night. We really weren't planning to stay for the parade because of the cold but as we were trying to leave the park we were told we couldn't go "up the hill" because the parade was coming. G2 said we might as well stand there and watch it.

Santa Claus always leads the parade.

And it always ends with a float that is entitled "The Greatest Gift of All." Very appropriate in my opinion.

AD and G2 did ride the big roller coaster called Wildfire earlier in the day but when the temperature dropped and the the wind really began to howl the big, outdoor rides were shut down. They rode a few "inside" rides and even stopped into the Carousel Barn where Santa visits with all the children. They stopped in to warm up but said they didn't stay long. The barn was packed with kids waiting to see the jolly old elf.

We really wanted to ride the Christmas "Sing-a-Long" train but we just couldn't stand the cold any longer. It's a great train ride. The train ride is always in the park but at Christmas it turns into the "Sing-a-Long" train. Christmas music plays while everyone sings along to old, familiar Christmas songs. As it makes its way around the park there are many light displays to see.

Then about half-way through the ride, the train stops at "Grandpa's house" and he's there, sittin' on the porch rockin' in his chair. He greets everyone and then proceeds to tell the story of the very first Christmas. It brings tears to my eyes just typing this.

Once the story is told the train proceeds on its way back to the train station with everyone singing along again to the music.

So that was our day at Silver Dollar City. If you've never visited the City and you're ever in the area, it's a fun time. Lots of things to see and do. They have a saying there - "You've got a great past ahead of you."

Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas In Branson

Some of you who have been visiting for sometime know that our family loves going to Branson, Missouri.

AD and I had been planning a Christmas trip to Branson for sometime. This past weekend was the one weekend we would be able to make the trip.

Back in the summer G1 and his girlfriend made a trip to Branson with us. G2 wasn't able to go that time so he went with us this weekend.

Since it was just a short weekend trip we didn't take our 5th wheel. Like anyone else I want to stay in a nice, clean place but I just hate spending a lot of money on a hotel - especially since we're just there mainly to sleep.

There are quite a few nice, inexpensive places to stay in Branson but I was able to find a GREAT deal on a 2 night stay at one of the resorts in Branson. And it was cheaper than the place we usually stay when we don't take the trailer!

It had an exercise room which G2 

and AD tried out. Actually, I even tried one of the machines but there aren't any pictures as evidence.

They also had a game room with an air hockey table

a pool table and a Foosball table. (I'm not sure if I spelled that last one quite right.) Since we didn't arrive until later in the evening on Friday, we spent some time in the game room.

G2 was the big winner of the night. He beat AD at both air hockey and pool. I played him a game of pool too and of course, he easily won that too. Umm - in my defense, I haven't played pool in years and years and years.

one of the Dixie Stampede horses

Our original plans were to go to Silver Dollar City on Saturday morning but I really wanted to go to the Dixie Stampede too. They have a wonderful Christmas show with a live Nativity, including camels that the Wisemen ride in on!

Silver Dollar City was going to be open from noon to 9:30pm.

The weatherman predicted COLD weather on Saturday! I called the Dixie Stampede and there was a 12:30 performance and there were still seats available. So we I made the decision to get the tickets and go to the show and then we'd go to Silver Dollar City later. The main reason for me to go to Silver Dollar City was to see the lights anyway and arriving a bit later would be fine.

Photography of any kind is prohibited so there aren't any photos but of course the show was wonderful as always.

If you've been to the Dixie Stampede before you know there's always a friendly competition between the "North" and the "South". At Christmas it's between the "North Pole" and the "South Pole."

We like to sit with the "Southerners" but we had to go with the "Northerners" this time. They were the better seats - not that any of the seats are bad - but these were just closer to the action (on the second row).

(Note to Angela: I didn't notice any bad animal smells.)

Oh, and the North won that friendly competition. Early on it didn't look like we would but the North passed their candy canes quicker in the last competition and we won!

Tomorrow I'll tell you about Silver Dollar City.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Great Show!

Every year for the past several years the oil company that I retired from has a Christmas show for the employees.

Being retired, I don't qualify to get tickets for the Christmas show anymore. But AD, who also retired from the same company at the same time I did, went back to work for them part time. I'm not sure if that qualifies him to get tickets or not and he hasn't worked in a few weeks, but one of the guys he's worked with for years wasn't going to be able to use his tickets and offered them to AD.

It was a good show and we had a good time. Can you tell who the entertainment was? Probably not. We were sitting wa-a-a-a-y back in the auditorium. Well, not as far back as some folks, but far back enough that I wasn't able to get a good close shot of the guys.

One of the attributes of the Community Center is that the accoustics are excellent and the group sounded great.

Oh yeah - I haven't told you yet who the performers were. If you like country music you probably know the name Diamond Rio. Yep! Diamond Rio was the entertainment and they put on a fine show.

AD and I enjoyed a good evening!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

So I Got Sidetracked

Yesterday I posted that our pre-lit tree had a couple of strings of lights go out and we had to buy a couple of short strings to take their place. AD thinks this is the last year for this particular tree but I just hate having to buy another one. Maybe if there are a bunch left over after Christmas and I can get one on the cheap then it won't be so bad.

Anyhow, I kind of got sidetracked from doing any decorating. I've been meaning to do a post about marshmallows for awhile now and I started playing with the ones I had in the pantry.

Mini marshmallows are great for hot chocolate or to top off a sweet potato casserole.

Regular sized marshmallows are great for roasting and making Smores. They also come in handy to disguise dog pills so the dog in question will take their medicine - unless of course you have a dog like our Smoke who can smell medicine a mile away and will turn his nose up at anything trying to harbor it.

Then there are the ginormous Giant Roasters that Campfire brand marshmallows are putting out. Have you seen them in the stores? If you toast them just right they get soft all the way to the middle - and the middle is a long way in on these puppies.

There seems to be an abundance of "flavored" marshmallows on the market now - chocolate, strawberry, caramel and these French Vanilla ones. Now maybe it's just me but other than the chocolate ones, I can't tell that any of them taste any different than regular marshmallows.

So this is what I did yesterday - well, not the whole day - but I sure had fun creating snowmen from the marshmallows. I like playing with my food.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Header Photos

You may have noticed that I finally changed the photos on the header making my blog a little more Christmas-y.

The first photo is of some Christmas decorations I bought a few years ago in an after-Christmas sale. They almost look like antique cut glass but that's not the case.

Last year I took some pictures of things on our tree. This little elf has been in the family since our kids were little - long before the Shelf Elf story came about.

Son built the little Nativity out of popsicle sticks when he was 5 or 6 years old. It was a project for his youth group.

The last photo is just a little decoration that sat on our chest of drawers last year.

As I type this AD has gone to WallyWorld to get a small string of light for our lighted Christmas tree. Seems a couple of the strings that came attached to the tree are now non-working. Then I'll begin decorating the tree.

More pictures to follow in the days to come.

Monday, November 29, 2010

What an Experience This Would Be

I received an email today with the link to this video and just had to share it with my fellow bloggers.

How incredible it would be to happen upon a group like this!

Monday, November 22, 2010

16 At Last

Happy 16th Birthday, G2! I hope all your dreams come true.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

It's Almost Cookie Time!

My friend, Lanyardlady, is gearing up to spend the day with her daughter making holiday cookies for their friends and family.

I love making cookies for the holidays so I'll be checking her blog on Sundays for any recipes she cares to share. I'm sure she'd love for you to stop by too.

When I read her blog entry yesterday evening I immediately thought of the incredible recipe I found for gingerbread men last year. You can go here to see it or I've added it below along with a couple of slight changes I made to the instructions - just as personal preference.

I made the small gingerbread house and men shown above and I must say they were by far the best gingerbread cookies I've ever eaten. I'll be making them every year from now on.

The two changes to the instructions I would suggest are -  (1) it says to roll the dough out to 1/8 inch but I like my cookies on the soft side so my dough was rolled to about 1/4 inch thick.

(2) instead of rolling the dough out on a floured board or counter top, I use equal parts of flour and sugar that have been mixed together. It keeps that flour-y build up off the bottoms of cookies.

Here's the recipe:

Gingerbread Men

1 (3.5 ounce) package cook and serve butterscotch pudding mix
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
In a medium bowl, cream together the dry butterscotch pudding mix, butter, and brown sugar until smooth. Stir in the egg. Combine the flour, baking soda, ginger, and cinnamon; stir into the pudding mixture. Cover, and chill dough until firm, about 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Prepare baking sheets by greasing them with a little shortening or by applying a light coat of non-stick spray. On a floured board, roll dough out to about 1/8 inch thickness, and cut into man shapes using a cookie cutter. Place cookies 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven, until cookies are golden at the edges. Cool on wire racks. 

Friday, November 19, 2010

Ten Times Four

Last month we celebrated Girlie's fourth birthday. It was a fun time!

Today, at exactly 1:18pm, Son (Girlie's dad) will be 10 times older than Girlie. (Check out what a cute baby he was back in the day by clicking here.)

I tried to find a nice way of saying, "Happy BIG 40, Son!" and this is what I came up with. Afterall, it's better than saying Son is 20 times older than G5.
But maybe an even nicer way would be to compare Son's age to Mickey Mouse. Mickey turned 80 yesterday.

Have a great weekend everyone! You too, Son!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

One Yummy Recipe

Most people who know me know that I love to cook. The recipes I look for and use are down home recipes, comfort foods if you will.

There are some things I've just never tried using.

Puff pastry is one of those things.  A week or so ago I found a recipe that looked like fun on Picky Palate. It involved puff pastry, Nutella and marshmallows. Easy enough for someone using puff pastry for the first time.

The name of the recipe is Nutella-Mallow Pillow Pockets. And it is SO simple. The first thing to do is to remove the two pastry sheets from the box and put them on the counter to thaw. I put them on waxed paper to thaw.

Next, unfold them

and cut each one into four equal squares - well, as square as you can get them.

Get out the Nutella, a bag of mini marshmallows and some sugar. The original recipe calls for granulated sugar but I used raw sugar instead because the granules are a bigger.

Approximately 2 tablespoons of Nutella are spread to within 1/2 inch of the edges of each square and I did just that.

Let me say here that these are VERY rich pockets. I think in the future I'll cut the Nutella back to 1 tablespoon or so per puff pastry square.

Next, top the Nutella with 10 to 15 mini marshmallows.

Fold over each square to make a triangle and seal using the tines of a fork. Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

Oops! I forgot to take a photo of the next step. Mix 1 egg white with 1 tablespoon of water and brush each triangle with the mixture. Sprinkle with sugar.

Bake in a preheated 350 degree F. oven for 22-25 minutes or until the pastry just turns golden.

Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes. The pillow pockets can be sprinkled with powdered sugar but they are good with or without it.

That was my first experience with puff pastry. I think I'll be trying other recipes using it sometime soon.