Sunday, December 24, 2006

Sunday Hymn

May your Christmas be filled with the joy of the season!

Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee

1. Joyful, joyful, we adore thee,
God of glory, Lord of love;
hearts unfold like flowers before thee,
opening to the sun above.
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness;
drive the dark of doubt away.
Giver of immortal gladness,
fill us with the light of day!

2. All thy works with joy surround thee,
earth and heaven reflect thy rays,
stars and angels sing around thee,
center of unbroken praise.
Field and forest, vale and mountain,
flowery meadow, flashing sea,
chanting bird and flowing fountain,
call us to rejoice in thee.

3. Thou art giving and forgiving,
ever blessing, ever blest,
well-spring of the joy of living,
ocean depth of happy rest!
Thou our Father, Christ our brother,
all who live in love are thine;
teach us how to love each other, l
ift us to the joy divine.

4. Mortals, join the mighty chorus
which the morning stars began;
love divine is reigning o'er us,
binding all within its span.
Ever singing, march we onward,
victors in the midst of strife;
joyful music leads us sunward,
in the triumph song of life.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Christmas Tour - Part 2

The Christmas tour continues in the family room. This tree is loaded with Hallmark ornaments that my mother had collected since 1974. There are dated ornaments for every year as well as Collectors only pieces. These mean a lot to me because many of them I remember from over the years. The gold satin ball toward the top is one of the ones from my grandparents' tree. While all of the old ornaments bring memories, the best of all are the ones that my boys have made. It is so fun to see their faces as they put up ornaments that they made in past years.

The guest bathroom is home to my grandmother's ceramic tree. Did your relatives have a ceramic tree with the removable colored bulbs? I think just about every home in the 70's had one. I have the one that belonged to my mother in the kitchen. It amazes me that the boys think these are just the coolest thing.

The stockings are hung on the bar, underneath the snowman collection. The mantel is not designed in a way that we could screw cup hooks in order to hang them there. I just can't justify spending the money on three more stocking hangers, so for now they hang here. I don't think they look too out of place, since the previous owners had made the fake rock wall.

The view of the family room from the upstairs landing. The Santa collections somewhat overwhelms the fireplace, but Bobby really liked them all put there. On the armoir, the Three Wisemen look down. They were another gift from my MIL. I really like the folkart look. The bottom half of each wiseman depicts part of the nativity story.

We also have two nativities in the house. The first is in the foyer, it is my mother's Precious Moments nativity. The other is in the breakfast room, it is the nativity by Willowtree. I love the simple lines of the folk art set.

I hope you liked the tour. It has been fun decorating our new home for Christmas.

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Tour - Part 1

I saw some other blogs doing a Christmas tour and I thought it was a great idea. This way family and friends that don't have the opportunity to come visit can see our home decorated for the holidays. So grab a cup of your favorite hot beverage and come see our decorations!
Welcome to our home. The nutcrackers at the door were a new addition for the new home. Cowodie loves nutcrackers, so these make him especially happy.

When you come into the foyer, this is the first thing you see. My mother had collected gold ornaments as well as other Christmas collectibles, this tree is for her. The red balls are porcelin with Norman Rockwell Santas painted on the face of the ornament, I combined these ornaments, red berries and 166 gold ornaments for a beautiful tree. Many of these ornaments had never been displayed, mother continued collecting even after she quit putting up a tree.

Close up of the gold ornaments and Rockwell Santas.

Off the foyer is the formal dining room. My mother-in-law blessed us with the red hurricanes, when lit they cast a lovely light in the room.

As you go up the front stairs, there is an art niche where this minature tree resides. My grandmother and mother both collected the minature ornaments. It was fun to put the ornaments on this tree and remember my family.

That is all the pictures that blogger will let me post, so the tour will continue in another entry.

Gingerbread House

I bought one of the prepackaged gingerbread house kits for the boys to decorate. They anxiously awaited the day when we would have time to complete the project.
Smoda and Cowodie are ready to go. I have to say, I loved this kit. The assembly was so much easier than kits we have done in the past. There were troughs in the white tray that held the pieces as they dried. It was great.

Speedy B was not real happy to have to share the house with his brothers. He thought that each should have their own to complete, or at the very least he should be in charge because he is the oldest. He did not like having to get his brothers opinions. Can you tell????

Completed house. Looks rather festive doesn't it? I thought they did a great job.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Texas White Trash

I have a few things on my TT that have already been completed, whew! Several of you have asked for the recipe for Texas White Trash. It is an easy recipe that always gets raves.

Texas White Trash

4 cups cheerios
4 cups rice chex
4 cups pretzels
2 cups pecans or walnuts (The Texas state tree is pecan, why on earth would you use walnuts??)
2 pounds white chocolate or white almond bark

Combine cereals, pretzels and nuts. Melt white chocolate. Pour melted chocolate over dry mix. Stir well to coat. Pour out on wax paper to harden. I typically begin stirring in the bowl and then continue to combine once I have poured it out on the counter. Everything just doesn't get covered when it is in the bowl. Be sure to spread it out, otherwise you will have big clumps of candy. Store in an airtight container.


Mid-December Dishcloth KAL done

Well, after frogging it three times on the first day, it is finally done. I must say it was a great learning tool. The pattern has both ssk and p2sso stitches to make a lacy pattern. I used Peaches and Cream in Shades of Green, once again lighting is my nemesis and I can't get a good shot of the color!
Beth asked me on my last dishcloth post why I knit dishcloths, that is a very good question. I began my knitting journey with dishcloths... quick, easy to learn and very useful. For years though, that was the only thing I had the courage to knit...patterns scared the peewaddle out of me. Obviously I did not do real adventurous dishcloths!

Now I am learning to knit socks and that has given me the courage to try new things. I have now made shawls, scarves, felted slippers, socks, and hats. I have a purse project in the works and a baby blanket that needs to be done by February. With all that in mind, I still enjoy dishcloths. I guess because for me it is a project that will be done in a couple of hours and I use them. If you are a knitter and haven't tried dishcloths yet, may I suggest one as a quick project. And much the same as handknit socks, once you have had a good scrubby cotton one in your hand it is very hard to go back to store-bought ones....they just aren't the same!
By the way......this is my 100th post! Becca asked me if I was going to do something special to recognize it. I thought about it, but then I thought in Bloggityville 100 is such a small number, I will wait until I hit the 500 mark or 1 year whichever comes first. Hope you are enjoying my has been a great release for me. Oh, did switch to the new Blogger, hopefully you will see some new features soon.

Thursday Thirteen #7

Thirteen Things I Need to get done before Christmas

1…. Finish knitting Smoda's hat. I only have 1 1/2"done...need at least 5".

2.... Buy Christmas gift for my father-in-law.

3.... Wrap all presents, that's right all. I haven't wrapped even one!

4.... Complete one other knitted gift. It is a dishcloth knit along and I get the last rows in the pattern today.

5.... Clean the is coming here.

6.... Grocery shopping, not only do I need items for Christmas dinner, we are out of basics like eggs.

7.... Take Speedy B. to a consulation to improve his batting...even in the off season baseball is a part of our lives. Is there an off season??? The season officially ended in November, we had batting practice twice a week in December and practice starts back up January 10th! Good thing I like baseball.

8.... Make Texas White Trash. That's a candy, not your neighbors!

9.... Go out of town to visit relatives on Christmas Eve....there goes one day that I could get things done here.

10... Wash the Christmas china and crystal...MIL is coming no way could we eat on paper. My granny would roll over in her grave if I even suggested paper anyway.

11... Get things for the boys stockings.

12... Make the boys matching pj bottoms for Christmas Eve. Do you see this happening???

13... Sleep would be nice.

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!
1. chupieandjsmama

2. Jane

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Roses from my Man

RacerDad likes to surprise me every so often with beautiful flowers. He has the best eye when it comes to selecting roses and typically the ones he chooses will last for two weeks. This time he was disappointed, these rose were purchased on Saturday and have already fully opened. I told him I wasn't concerned...the way these have opened, they are absolutely gorgeous and they have all opened at the same time to be quite a feast for the eyes!

3D Snowflakes - Christmas Craft

When cruising blogs yesterday I came across a really neat Christms craft at Lolly's. I have always made snowflakes, the traditional....fold and cut and hope you don't cut one of the "arms" off. The 3D look really peaked my interest, so today we followed the tutorial and made these snowflakes.

The instructions called for 6 square pieces of paper any size from 4" to 10". My sample that I made was from an 8 1/2" square, while it was beautiful it was a bit much to handle and I knew it would be cumbersome for the boys. I cut their squares 5" for the ones in the window and we all thought that was the perfect size.
Cowodie and Speedy B enjoyed the craft. I had already cut the squares for them. It took approximately 20 minutes for them to each construct one snowflake. Though they enjoyed making the snowflakes, they were done after one. It was too much of a process for the 5 year old, he passed on the activity after a few minutes.

The look is very pretty and different from the ones we have made for years. I will plan on doing them again next year. Let me know if you give them a try!

Masterly Inactivity

Masterly inactivity...the art of letting a child simply be is one of the blessings of a Charlotte Mason education in our home. The book Home Education from the Original Homeschooling Series by Charlotte Mason states:

"The resourcefulness which will enable a family of children to invent their own games and occupations through the length of a summer's day is worth more in after life than a good deal of knowledge about cubes and hexagons, and this comes, not of continual intervention on the mother's part, but of much masterly inactivity." p. 192

I am fortunate to witness this truth many times a day. The boys have always been able to entertain they like to have an occasional audience or wish to tell me of their adventures. But I have never heard the words, "I'm bored" come from their mouths.

Yesterday, while I was supervising Speedy B's math lesson, Smoda came and asked for the dominoes. He then wondered if it would be okay to bring some of his wooden train set downstairs. I began to wonder what type of a mess I would walk into in the foyer. Cowodie had finished up his work and disappeared to help with the construction. Next thing I knew all three boys were involved in a masterpiece that included building blocks, wooden train and dominoes. The premise was that the train would come down from an elevated track, run into the dominoes and begin a chain reaction.

The track....would the plan work?

Proud architects!

The train did accomplish the beginning of a chain reaction, the boys found that their track made too sharp of a turn and so would not complete the tumble down. The joys of childhood!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Works for Me - Sonic Gift Cards

I have a hard time with filling birthday party bags. I admit it, this is an area where I am not "supermom". As a matter of fact, I worry over the party favors more than the rest of the party. First of all, what to put in them? Let's face it most of the items on the party aisle are worse than Happy Meal toys....they break as soon as you get them home or they get lost in the bottom of the toy box. I hate to put candy in the bags as well. Then there is the cost, the total spent per bag can add up quickly.

My boys went to a party this summer and the mother did the smartest thing. She gave each child a gift card to Sonic. You would have thought they received pure gold. The opportunity to go to Sonic and choose whatever they wanted!

With Smoda's birthday so close to Christmas I borrowed the idea from my wise friend. All the guests were as excited as my boys had been when they received theirs. Works for cards as party favors!

Visit Rocks in my Dryer for other helpful tips.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Monday Morning Recipe

When Cowodie was little he would not eat meat of any sort...milk he would go through gallons, but no meat! One evening I made the following recipe and he stood beside the counter as I carved the meat taking as many bites as I would feed him, much in the same manner as a baby bird. Roasted chicken is not one of RacerDad's favorite things to eat, but he makes an exception with this recipe. As he said that night..."if he will eat it, make it every week!"

Sticky chicken is a very simple recipe that is moist and flavorful. I have yet to make it for someone who does not like it. Don't be scared off by the amount of pepper, it is not hot...right Mrs. M.?

Sticky Chicken

Make a dry rub of:

4 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Massage this rub onto one whole chicken, under the skin, on the outer skin and inside the cavity. Refrigerate overnight. Put a quartered onion in the cavity, then place chicken in a roasting pan. Bake at 250 degrees for 5 hours. After the first hour the chicken will begin making juices, baste frequently. The pan juices will begin to carmelize and become darker in color.

Godly Heritage

Three friends have lost grandparents in the last two weeks. In each case, the grandparent was a believer with a strong personal relationship with Christ. I have enjoyed listening to my friends share the testimonies of their loved ones. I have been encouraged to see the legacy they left behind...Pastors, Sunday School teachers, Deacons, Elders, awesome teenagers.

God promised Abraham that for his faithfulness, Abraham's decendants would be like grains of numerous to count. In much the same way, God has blessed each of these families to the third and fourth generation with godly families.

While I feel sorrow for my friends, I am joyful knowing that these wonderful people had the indescribable experience of hearing our Lord and Savior say "Well done, my good and faithful servant".

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Smoda is 5!

In amidst all the hustle and bustle of last week, my baby turned five. It is hard to believe that I truly don't have a baby anymore. When I pointed this out to Smoda, he put both hands on my cheeks, looked me in the eye and said "you will always be my baby mama". Melts my heart!

Happy Birthday Smoda!

Sunday Hymn

Last year I remember my MIL talking of a hymn she would be singing in church. I had never heard of the hymn and didn't think of it again until I was looking through our book, Come Let Us Adore Him, for our Christmas hymns to ponder in the coming week.

Cecil Frances Humphreys was the hymnwriter. She and her husband, the Rev. William Alexander, were quite a dynamic duo in British Christianity. Her husband was the Bishop for all Ireland, but her song writing eclipsed his fame. Mrs. Alexander had quite a heart for children ..teaching Sunday School, helping establish a school for the deaf and founding a Girl's Friendly Society.

Mrs. Alexander, after encountering a boy who was having difficulty understanding the Apostle's Creed and portions of the Catechism, began to mull over writing simple little hymns to explain the phrases and truths of the Christain faith to little ones. Some examples of her work include, "All Things Bright and Beautiful", "There is a Green Hill Far Away" and today's post "Once in Royal David's City".

Once in Royal David's City

Once in Royal David's city
Stood a lowly cattle shed,
Where a mother laid her Baby
In a manger for His bed;
Mary was that mother mild,
Jesus Christ her little Child.

He came down to earth from Heaven,
Who is God and Lord of all,
And His shelter was a stable,
And His cradle was a stall.
With the poor, and mean, and lowly,
Lived on earth our Savior Holy.

For He is our childhood's pattern;
Day by day, like us He grew;
He was little, weak and helpless,
Tears and smiles like us He knew;
And He feeleth for our sadness,
And He shareth in our gladness.

And our eyes at last shall see Him,
Through His own redeeming love,
For that Child so dear and gentle
Is our Lord in Heav'n above,
And He leads His children on
To the place where He has gone.

You can listen to the tune here.

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Friday, December 15, 2006

Wool-ease Bell Lace Sock

I have completed my first sock using Socks That Rock. I have loved using a premium yarn. This colorway is Xmas Rock heavyweight and it is so bright and cheerful. I need to find another place to take pictures so that you get the full effect.

The pattern, Wool-ease Bell Lace, is an easy one. It works up quickly and is great for those of us new to knitting socks. It does make a slightly slouchy sock, so if you like your socks to always look neat and tidy this may not be the pattern for you.

I do need to do some research. I have now made three socks and each one of them have the same problem. They are perfect until I put them on, then a little ladder appears at the toe and at the top of my foot. There are no dropped stitches, I have checked. As my dear sweet husband points out...I have a fat foot (and I call him sweet???). My ankle is not fat, but I wear wide shoes so I am wondering if I added some stitches in before I begin the gussets if that might help? Any suggestions? I am not sure how many stitches or how I should add them so they would be the least obvious.

Slipper Socks complete

I am not sure if this counts as a pair of socks or not, but even so I have completed another knitting project. They are a Christmas present and I had many nervous moments as to whether they would turn out. A friend suggested the pattern as a quick and easy project that would teach me more about sock construction. For me they were not as quick as I expected, but I am much more comfortable turning the heel, completing the gussets and doing the graft on the toe. I think the second pair (and third and fourth) will be much quicker. All three boys informed me they would like to have a pair, obviously this will happen after Christmas!

Here the knitting is complete, but they are not yet felted. I couldn't imagine them being very warm, yes they are wool, but they seemed so thin. The felting process caused much more stress than I thought. Since they are a gift, I wasn't sure exactly how much to shrink them. The boys laughed because I kept taking them out of the washer to check their progress. The first two washings, there was not much change. The third cycle really made a difference.

Completed slippers! I was amazed how thick they became. I think they will be quite warm. The picture doesn't do the color much justice. I used Cascade Quatro yarn. It is four colors - teal, blue, navy and black, just beautiful.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Amazing Accents

I saw this quiz over at Mustang Mamma's blog and thought it kind of fun. Where do you fit?

What American accent do you have? Your Result: The West

Your accent is the lowest common denominator of American speech. Unless you're a SoCal surfer, no one thinks you have an accent. And really, you may not even be from the West at all, you could easily be from Florida or one of those big Southern cities like Dallas or Atlanta.

The Midland
North Central
The South
The Inland North
The Northeast
What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Winding Yarn

I am about to come to the conclusion that I need a swift and ball winder. Most of my yarn had been purchased at my LYS and of course they will wind it for me. Then I discovered the joy and availability of specialty sock yarn....Lorna's Laces, Mountain Colors, and Socks that Rock to name a few, these I have purchased online as they are not readily available in my area. I didn't think about them being in a hank as opposed to a ball, just never crossed my mind.

One night I decided to do a swatch of Lorna's Laces. I went into my stash and pulled out a lovely shade but it was a HANK. I couldn't get dear old RacerDad to hold the yarn for me, so I sat with my feet spread far apart on a footstool to hold the hank and began winding. By the time I finished, my knees and ankles were so sore! I didn't learn that time, I wound yarn for my next project the same way. This time the yarn was a bigger hank and it took quite a bit of time. I thought I learned my lesson that time.

Today I wanted to start a pair of socks for a yahoo "easy sock" group. I had some STR in X-mas Rock colorway - heavyweight. It would be perfect. My knees were not up to the task today so I figured I would put my dear sons to work.

Cowodie took over when Speedy B got tired. He was a very willing helper.

Speedie B was my first swift. As you can tell by his grin he was not real happy doing it. I have to laugh, the boy is a catcher in baseball and can catch three games in a day without complaining. Holding the yarn, he lasted 5 minutes before themoans started!

The hank that started it all. Isn't it lovely?

The boys are very cute swifts and in the case of Cowodie very willing to help. Honestly though I don't know if I can wind too many more balls this way. Speedy B complained, Cowodie dropped the yarn, Smoda played "limbo" between myself and whoever was holding the yarn. As Speedy B pointed out, 350 yards is longer than 3 football arm got tired of winding!

So if you know of a good swift and ball winder please let me know. I have looked at the ones in the Knitpicks catalog, but honestly I have no idea quality of products.

Happy Birthday Spot!

Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday dear RacerDad, Happy Birthday to you! Or as he is now called "Spot".

Today my sweet husband turned 39. He had a wonderful day and must have been very good this year because he had a bang up birthday.

His eye is getting much better. Almost all of the swelling is gone but the colors are now very vibrant. He was very fortunate, the doctor said if the ball had hit 1/2" over it would have compromised his eyesight.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Thursday Thirteen #6

Thirteen Childhood Memories

1. My mom was a 21 year old divorcee when I was 4 years old. Of course she dated and one of the men she dated was pretty clever. I always wanted to ride in the front seat between them...this was in the days before car seats. One evening, when I got in the car I noticed a beautiful doll in the backseat. When I asked who the doll belonged to, this gentleman stated "It belongs to the girl who rides in the backseat." I got in the backseat faster than anything!

2. I remember getting my tonsils out and wanting Taco flavored Doritos as soon as I got home.

3. Riding in my Papa's Frito Lay truck. He called it Bessie and would let me stand beside his seat and watch him shift the gears.

4. Spending the summer digging tunnels and caves in the root system of a tree my Papa had pulled out of his front yard. That one tree provided hours of entertainment for the neighbor boy and myself.

5. Going to Kindergarten and being informed that my name was not Julie-Lynn, but Julie... Lynn must be my middle name. I would not believe my mother that the teacher could be wrong so I became Julie. I have always hated that.

6. Watching my Papa tally his receipts at the end of the day. He had an old adding machine that you punched the numbers in and then pulled the handle down. I have that machine now and my boys are fascinated by it, like I was. I played with that machine for hours. I also have the receipt that shows he bought it on time in 1954 paying $125 for it, a small fortune!

7. Being the flower girl in my mother's wedding. I thought I looked so pretty. I had a Peter Pan haircut and wore a maxi dress in a lovely shade of avacado green. Looking at the pictures, what was stylish then is hideous now!

8. Moving away from my grandparents' house to my step-father's trailer. I called every day for several weeks crying for my Papa to come bring me home. My grandmother later told me it was everything she could do to keep him from coming to get me.

9. My grandmother was a telephone operator for a hospital in Tulsa. I would get to go and listen at the switchboard as she answered the phone. Sometimes she even let me plug the cords in to connect the call.

10. Going to the judge's office when my step-father adopted me. I never knew that my real father was sitting in the outer chamber waiting for his turn. I found that out later, when I was 20 and met him for the first time.

11. Having my birthday on Easter the year I was 7. My uncles thought it would be fun to give me a rabbit for a present. It came in a shoe box with no food. My stepfather ended up building a large hutch, I always thought of it as the rabbit hotel. It had an enclosed part as well as a "screen porch". I named the white rabbit - Snowball, not real original. She lived for over 7 years, rather long for a rabbit.

12. Watching Snowball wear a halter and hop about on a long leash while we lived in the trailer. She had free run of the backyard when we moved to our house. I would let her out to hop around and then put her in her hutch in the evening. It was so funny to see her laying in the middle of the yard with our beagle snuggled up next to her. Evidently he didn't realize he was a hunting dog.

13. The gold satin balls and gold tinsel that decorated my grandparents tree. I still have 5 of the satin balls. They are nothing special and after 40 years they are starting to be a little fuzzy, but they are always the first ornaments I put on my tree.

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!
1. (leave your link in comments, I’ll add you here!)

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Works for Me - Cookie Kit

My secret sister at church gave me a wonderful gift, a cookie kit gift basket. This would make a great gift for any family with young children. My boys can hardly wait for us to get started.

In the basket was a prepackage sugar cookie mix, a tub of buttercream frosting, cookie cutters, sprinkles and cookie writer gels. This could easily be adapted for any holiday. A fun afternoon with my boys baking - works for me!

Go to Rocks in My Dryer to see other Works for Me participants.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Tackle It Tuesday Meme

Well for today's Tackle it Tuesday I am being really raw. I can't believe I am going to show this. I love to cook, I don't mind cleaning up....but I hate to clean my stovetop. I think part of it is because it is gas and I am afraid of what type of cleaner I can use. Part of it is I always get called away to do something else, but the biggest part is I just don't like too. So here is the ugly truth...please don't think too badly of me.

I don't know if you have one particular burner you like to cook from, I do. Of course it is the one that gets the nastiest. Gross!

Now lest you think too badly of me, I do wipe up every night after I cook. But I don't scrub. This burner is particularly bad because my son spilt some tomato soup on the burner.

After almost an hour of soaking in bleach water the gray covers were very easy to scrub. I used a combination of soft scrub, sos pads, hot water and a knife to scrape the cooktop. It looks amazingly better. I did have another shot of just the burner, but for some reason Blogger won't let me post.

Please scroll down and look at my curtains. They were last week's tackle. I got them finished!

To see other Tackle it Tuesday participants go here.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Monthly Dishcloth KAL Day #4

After completing 41 rows, the pattern is obvious. This has been fun! Each morning I receive an email with a certain amount of rows to complete. The first picture shows the pattern better.

But for you to see the pretty color of the yarn, I had to do two shots. For some reason the flash and the color of the yarn were not working out!

Piano News

Cowodie participated in his second piano recital yesterday. He did wonderful. RacerDad and I are both very proud of his progress. He is starting to take piano very seriously, practicing more each week. His only disappointment is that his instructor will not give him Christmas music. The instructor is wanting to just continue along in the books.

We did find a "new to us" piano this weekend. Our piano has been in a sad state since we received it. My mom purchased it for the boys 4 years ago. It was not an expensive piano and it had not been taken care of by its previous owner. We were thrilled to have any piano at the time and it was a true blessing to our family. But as time went on and Cowodie played more it became obvious that we needed to invest in a better instrument. The final push we needed to make the decision was the piano tuner. He told me after tuning the last time we would do better to spend our tuning money on a new piano. Next week the piano tuner will move our new Kimball studio piano into our home. It needs to be tuned, but even with that it sounds so much better than our current one!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

What Kind of Knitter Are You?

You appear to be a Knitting Guru. You love knitting and do it all the time. While finishing a piece is the plan, you still love the process, and can't imagine a day going by without giving some time to your yarn. Packing for vacation involves leaving ample space for the stash and supplies. It can be hard to tell where the yarn ends and you begin.
Take this quiz!


Monday Morning Recipe

This is a repost of an entry on my old blog....

Divinity - I love the memories this particular candy brings to mind. It has brought me joy, frustration and many laughs. My earliest memories of Christmas include this heavenly confection. This was one of the candies that Grandmother and Papa always made - along with fudge and those chinese noodle/butterscotch things (never can remember the name of those). The divinity at Grandmother's ended soon after Papa died, she couldn't stir them the last little bit - it was too difficult. Homemade divinity became a Christmas dream.

When RacerDad and I shared our first Christmas together I called Grandmother and asked for her recipe. She gladly sent me the "receipt" along with a note that she had gotten the recipe from school, maybe in 1942. Thus began my frustration with divinity. It became my nemesis. I would follow her directions explicitly and end up with a marshmallow cream-like slime. I would beat until my arm would be ready to fall off to no avail. I would have RacerDad beat (his arm is much stronger than mine) - still no divinity. I began to think that maybe divinity could not be made in Texas, Grandmother always said you needed a cool crisp day - no humidity, for it to turn out right. That had to be the reason - I am a decent cook, I can follow recipes.

Christmas season 1998 will always come to mind when I make divinity. It was our first year in our own home. The house was beautifully decorated. It was a new era in our lives, so of course the divinity would turn out. I waited for the "perfect cool, crisp day" and naptime. Speedy B was 2 and asleep on my bed. Cowodie was 6 months and napping peacefully in his crib. The weather below 30 - no clouds. I gathered my ingredients and the hand mixer (RacerDad had pointed out that we had this modern convenience why not use it?). I began. Things were looking good, each stage followed with good results. Then came the final beating - according to Grandmother this must happen outside in order to get the right consistency. So I went outside. I began the final beating by hand out on the patio. I began to get cold and my divinity looked no different than it had in the house. I figured just a little longer - five more minutes, no change. Once again, divinity had won. I turned to go into the house and found that the pole had fallen into place in the sliding glass door. I was locked out. My babies were asleep in the house and I was locked outside in the cold - in shorts and houseshoes. No phone to call RacerDad. No neighbors at home. Panic set in. As I wandered in the front yard, by this time looking slightly crazed, one of our male neighbors drove up. Bless his heart he came to help me and didn't make any comments about my locking myself out of the house, or wearing shorts and houseshoes outside on such a cold day. As we walked around the house looking for the easiest way in we passed by the sliding glass door. There stood Speedy B crying and looking for me - now not only was I a failure at divinity and a nut for going out improperly dressed, I was a terrible mother! I started crying too. The sweet neighbor was able to calm Speedy B down enough that he was able to lift the pole out of the way. Speedy B became the rescue hero of the day.

One more year without divinity! I determined that I would not try it again.

The next year, my best friend, the wife of the man who rescued me, brought me a big shirt box with a bow. Upon opening it, I found a box full of DIVINITY. She then had the "nerve" to tell me this was her first attempt - it was beautiful, perfect and delicious! I couldn't believe it. I was as good a cook as my friend. I follow recipes. Why could she make it and I couldn't?? So I asked her - where did you get your recipe? She just followed the one out of the Betty Crocker cookbook. Dare I ask for this recipe? Dare I try yet again? What if it failed, could I live with the disappointment?

My dear friend shared the recipe that I am posting here. I am pleased to say that this recipe has never failed me. I still have the recipe my grandmother sent me - it is one of my treasures written in her own hand. Maybe one day I will try it again -

2 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup karo syrup
1/2 water
2 egg whites
1 t. vanilla
1/2 cup nuts opt.

Combine sugar, syrup and 1/2 cup water in a medium saucepan. Cook and stir over medium high heat until the mixture boils. Reduce heat to medium. Cook without stirring to 260 degrees (10 to 15 minutes).

In mixing bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Tips will stand straight up.
Pour syrup mixture in thin stream over egg whites while beating on high. Continue beating on high speed three minutes. Scrape sides occasionally. Add vanilla. Continue beating on high until the mixture looses its gloss (5-6 minutes).

As my grandmother said in her note to me - good luck!

Sunday Hymn

One of my favorite advent hymns is O come, O come, Emmanuel. I love the Gregorian chant style and the words are so plaintive, begging Jesus to come. While the verses have a melancholy feel, I can't help but experience the joy in the refrain.

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
and ransom captive Israel,
that mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, thou Wisdom from on high,
who orderest all things mightily;
to us the path of knowledge show,
and teach us in her ways to go.


O come, thou Rod of Jesse,
free thine own from Satan's tyranny;
from depths of hell thy people save,
and give them victory over the grave.


O come, thou Dayspring,
come and cheer our spirits by thine advent here;
disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
and death's dark shadows put to flight.


O come, thou Key of David,
come,and open wide our heavenly home;
make safe the way that leads on high,
and close the path to misery.


O come, O come, great Lord of might,
who to thy tribes on Sinai's height
in ancient times once gave the law
in cloud and majesty and awe.


O come, thou Root of Jesse's tree,
an ensign of thy people be;
before thee rulers silent fall;
all peoples on thy mercy call.


O come, Desire of nations,
bind in one the hearts of all mankind;
bid thou our sad divisions cease,
and be thyself our King of Peace.


O come, O come, Emmanuel,
and ransom captive Israel,
that mourns in lonely exile
hereuntil the Son of God appear.


Homelife Hazards

We all know that parenting has its pitfalls, life is not as easy as we would like to think. But who knew that a father would need hazardous duty pay? RacerDad took Speedy B to a batting cage to work on his hitting today. RacerDad has done "T" drills and soft toss in the cages with the boys since they began playing ball. Balls have come back at him, but fortunately there have never been any accidents....until today. Speedy B hit a foul ball that hit the side wall of the cage and instead of the wall absorbing the hit, the ball deflected off a corner. RacerDad thought the ball went up, instead, it came back at him. The result is below.

Plants are another thing that deserve hazard insurance at our home. I have a confession to make. I kill plants. Not intentionally of course, I love plants...especially african violets. For some reason, their care slips my mind. Oh, I start off with great intentions. I may even be able to keep them alive for a few months. But eventually, I forget about them. I will see them and think "I need to water them, I'll do it in awhile". Of course, "awhile" doesn't come for days. My current victims live in my bathroom window. A great window, perfect light. I see them everyday when I take my shower. It is very inconvenient obviously to water them while I am in the shower. Inevitably, I will forget them once I am dried off. These poor violets are on their last leg. They have lived with me about 4 months.

I did take them into the kitchen and pull their dead leaves off. I gave them a good soaking and hopefully have revived them to live for a little longer. I need someone to be my "plant conscience" and ask ever so often...."so have you watered your plants this month". If I can answer the phone, I am evidently not in the shower so they would stand a fairly good chance of getting a drink!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Second Sock Syndrome

I have heard of SSS, but I thought it referred to the inability to finish a pair of socks. That may be so, but in my case second sock syndrome is quite different. I have made a pair of socks, the first sock being easy to complete and relatively quick. The second sock in that pair was not so easy. It had to be ripped out, not once, but twice. Finally the pair was completed and all was well. Or so I thought.

I am halfway through my second pair of "socks". This pair will become felted slipper socks. Please note I said halfway through. The first sock was a breeze to complete. I believe it took three days of on and off knitting. No problem, I should finish the second sock just as quickly right? It was taking forever for me to get the cuff completed. I knew I had to knit 11 ridges before continuing on, it was slow going, but I perservered. Last night I finally finished the cuff. I pulled out my pattern and I had done 8 ridges too many. How could that be? I pulled out sock number one and sure enough, I had done way too many. Oh well, I thought I would just rip it out. Ripping went well....all the way to the beginning. I lost track of what I was doing and ended up ripping too much.

It took me over an hour to cast on 36 stitches, divide between my dpns and begin again. Everytime I would do row 1 the whole thing would fall apart! I felt like I had never knit a stitch in my life! It was so frustrating. Finally at 1:00 a.m. I was able to get it to work correctly. The cuff is done, I am almost to the heel. Now that I am paying attention to what I am doing it should go smoothly. But can I say I am almost afraid to try another pair of socks!