Thursday, December 31, 2009

A look at the year ahead...

I am not one to make resolutions for the New Year. So much of the time, when I have done such things, well, what is that saying? "I told God my plans, and He laughed"? Yes, that would be my motto...

Here we are, at the start of a new year, and since I am not going to make resolutions...I will instead, make a list of "general suggestions" for myself, and the things I hope to accomplish (it has such a nice ring to it--"general suggestions"...kind of like the way some folks look at the Ten Commandments, but hey, let's stay on topic, shall we? ;-) ).

Suggestion #1-finish decorating the main rooms of the house. Now, this is a seriously complicated, multiple part suggestion...dare I list what it entails? Okay--just so you know what I'm facing here...
Part one, I have to paint. I have finally chosen a paint color. Ironically, it is the exact same color I used in the adjoining dining room! I had actually gotten samples, of a couple of shades of blue. But there is no way that they will work on such a large scale, on my wall. The color I will be using is a sunny shade of yellow. Not too bright, not too brown, it really is a good, almost "neutral" yellow. It goes very well with the red furniture I already have in the house, and the fabric I have long had for the valances over the windows in those rooms...
Part two, valances. I will be mistreating my windows, a la The Nester. I could sew them. That'd be nice. But you know what? I've got five children, two hands, and a sewing machine at one end of the house, while all of the children are at the opposite end. Not a good combination. So, the less time I spend fiddling with fabric, needles, and thread, the better. Now, since I have the fabric, I need to actually *do* something with it. And, get some curtain rods. I keep hoping to find some in the thrift stores, but so far, no luck. I am almost to the point of purchasing thick dowel rods, and some sort of finial to screw into the end. I cannot find anything I like well enough, in my price range. So I am beginning to think that there is no way around making my own.
Part three, new futon covers. Gotta have those. The one we have, is as old as the futon (which is older than #3, who turns 6 this coming spring. While the cover has borne up well, under the wear and tear of our family, it has been finally relegated to the "only in cases of throw up and imminent arrival of relatives" duty. It has only one way it can be put on and used, thanks to the artistic endeavors of #3, and a sharpie. Sharpie doesn't come out very well, did you know that? Yeah. I tried. No luck. Since I want to be able to change the cover out, for the change of seasons, I'm going to end up needing two--not right away, but two of them will not be cheap. Regardless of color/style. I'm going to opt for a solid, since my valance material is very...patterned. I'll add other patterns and prints in the pillows.
Part four, which really ought to be part 3B, is new pillow covers for the bolsters. I'm obnoxious, though, and I like numbers and lists. :-) Especially since a futon cover will cost me at least $100, and the bolster pillows, close to as much for the pair. It will be a multi-event operation. The bolsters, however, will at least need to 'go' with both covers reasonably well. I may end up buying two sets, one for each futon cover, but not right off. Of course, one of my children, which one, I don't know, decided that those scissors that Mommy (that'd be me) keeps up high and away from small fingers, would be a great thing to use, to slice through one of the bolster covers we have. The slice is not, however, on the cover that has the smear of mommy's lip gloss, that someone was trying to hide...and failed. Lip gloss doesn't come out well, either, by the way...just in case you didn't already figure that out.
Part six--figure out what to hang on the doggone walls. I have one large, solid wall in this family room. You can see it below, in the pictures of my Christmas tree. Once the tree goes to its storage for the next year, the rocking chair will be moved into that location. I would like to put some thing on the wall, under the tray I have already hanging there. And I want to hang something on the other side of the red dresser, to fill in that blank wall space. I've got a few ideas, that I will hopefully share as I work on the room. Bear with me if it takes a while to get there.

You'd think that that'd be enough. But we all know that I can write out something and it looks like it will take three months to do it...but we all know better than that. I mean, painting will take a couple of days, probably. Gotta move heavy bookshelves. UGH. Hanging a couple of things on the wall? Not very long. Mistreatments, ditto, probably a single afternoon, maybe two. Futon and pillow covers are more a matter of money, and shipping time, than anything else. Not much work on my part, in that regard...

The next big room? My bedroom. I soooo want to get that painted, and my desk and sewing areas arranged in there. We'll need a bigger mattress (OH YAY!!!!), and I have a good deal of hands on projects to do--painting the walls, painting and 'antiquing the dresser and bed, getting the mattress, making valances for the windows and the bathroom getting dolled up to match...I am sooo looking forward to it! I need to get some storage set up in my crafting closets (there are two, believe it or not!), which already have things in them, but they need organization and I need shelves for that...lots of things to hang on the walls, of course.

I'm trying to not make this house some cottage fantasy on feminine overdrive. The bedroom will be in "bold" pastels, if that makes any sense at all. I'll make sure to get some pictures up of the fabric, and paint colors, as I go along. If I remember. LOL. You don't want to see my room now. It is far from the restful, peaceful, oasis it *ought* to be. It is more the "please put that on my sewing table/nightstand/in the closet" catchall, that I go in once, or twice, a day. Maybe. LOL. But I still want it to be nice. It is a large room, between the bedroom, and the master bathroom, the master "suite" runs the entire width of the house. NICE. Much bigger than our old bedroom, in our NC house. I also need to get El Husbando a new nightstand, as well as chair for him to sit in, to put his shoes on. Something upholstered, and nice, but not too expensive. I may end up taking that upholstery class through the local "continuing ed" program. Expensive, but probably cheaper for me to learn how to do it myself, and reuse the skills over and over again, than to buy material and have someone else do the work.

So I have a list of decor projects. Not including the standard "keep the house clean, organize things better, finish the wool shawl I started working on last year, try to lose weight" type of decor projects. Yes, the shawl and weight loss are decor projects, when you are at home 99% of the time, you want something NICE to look at, when you pass one of the mirrors...or when you finish scrubbing the toilets and are able to stand upright once

I'd like to get to work on putting out some flower beds out front of the house, but because of the geese, that will have to wait until we can fence in an area. And fencing isn't cheap, especially the pretty, durable kind. It has *got* to be durable, thanks to the "winds that come sweeping down the plains" We had 40-60 mph winds just this last week, in the Christmas Eve snowstorm. Those are rareish, at least in this part of the state, but they are something that happens every now and again, especially in spring and summer. So, that being the way things are, its best to be prepared.

I left my English cottage garden back in North Carolina, where we had really lovely soil. Deep, rich, and perfect. Shade, some sun, but lovely all around.

Here we have clay and unremitting sunshine. There are very few places where shade is enough to keep those shade loving perennials alive during the hottest months of the year, when the sun bakes man, beast, flora, and fauna without regard to financial status, rarity, or expense. Not to mention, trying to lighten the soil, so we actually can grow something in this clay. Since most of the by-products of the chicken coop end up in the garden, I'm not sure what I want to do about the flower beds. I think I will start off working up near the mailbox, with some daylilies and iris, daffodils and such. Something that will naturalize, spread, and not require a whole lot of maintenance or effort on my part. I want it to look nice, but if I don't want to spend a lot of time/money I don't have--and I know you all understand *that*!

Anyway, folks, what are your "general suggestions" for yourselves, this year? Do you have house plans? Lifestyle changes? Or are you pretty happy with where you are, and are just looking to expand on that?

Regardless of your plans for the evening, or the upcoming year, I pray you will have a safe, and happy, New Year's Eve, and new year...

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Not to party..and an economic ramble...

Well, I was able to get in touch with everyone or their answering machine. We canceled. Not enough people are going to be able to come, sense going through it all. I will, however, be trying again in the next month or so, because I may as well try, try again! :-)

Now, leaving that topic behind, we did in fact get more snow. Not much, however. It melted overnight, which is fine. It is nice to have it slooowllly soak into the ground. Some still ends up in the ponds, of course, but even though we had a wet spring/summer/fall, late fall into early winter has been very dry--not good for the wheat farmers. Not good at all, especially given the poor crop that they had this last year, when they had drought, and then late freezes. Killed crops all over. And not just wheat--peaches, nuts, you name it. They were all affected.

So this year, we are praying for bountiful crops. And not just the farmers. All the us need to be praying too. There were crop failures across the board, from wheat, to corn, to soybeans. The fruit and nut crops in California are toast, thanks to the enviromental folks' insistence on cutting off the water to the central valley. Not to mention many many other crops reliant on that if things are expensive where you are now, stock up as you can--they aren't going to be getting cheaper. And if you have the means and wherewithal, plan a garden. Container garden, even if you cannot do anything else. Every little bit helps. And it is far better for you.

I know that many of us know that the economy stinks. So many folks out of work, some who have not been able to find anything in so long, that the unemployment benefits have run out. Unfortunately, I don't see that getting any better, any time soon. Not that I am some great economist, but honestly, look at the policies being put into place, legislation, court cases where the judiciary is legislating, the international economic outlook is bad, just based on markets..but taking a look at the food situation--so many crop failures, not just here in the US, but overseas as well? Folks, things are going to get ugly. Please, buy some extra food, put up some stuff while it is available at a reasonable price...cause I don't doubt that soon, it will be completely UNreasonable. Or not to be had for any price...

I'm not sure if any of the rest of you have noticed, but there is inflation going on right now. We're already seeing it, in sneaky ways. Where manufacturers charge a dollar more, and reduce the size of the packaging--sometimes, so subtly, that you don't notice it until you really LOOK. A friend of mine, a year ago, purchased some biscotti from Sam's Club. Got the same package this year. But the biscotti inside the package, are 2/3ds the size that they were last year. And she paid more (she keeps receipts, given her line of work). I've seen it--in the diapers I buy for #4 & 5. (I'd go to cloth, but oh, no. These two are regular little firemen, iykwim!). The Walmart brand has been my 'go to' purchase for them. They were reasonably priced $13.98/box of 82. A few months back, they changed the packaging, just a bit. I didn't notice it, until I got home, and sat the new package down on one I had bought previously. It was smaller! And then I looked at the amount of diapers in it...they had dropped the number of diapers, to 70. And I knew, when I had picked them up, that they had bumped the price up a dollar, to $14.98. So now, I am paying $15...for fewer diapers. Given that 12 diapers is a day's worth for us around here, and I know that that would be a good two days' worth, for someone with only one baby, this is significant, especially if you are on a tight budget and can only buy what you *need*, and only enough to get you from one paycheck to the next. Used to, one of those boxes would last me close to two weeks. Now? I'm lucky if I can stretch it to a week and a half. It does add up...

In another example--the size of cans of tuna. A while back, not that long ago, really--tuna was in 6 oz cans. Now it is 5. And some folks have reported seeing even smaller cans--for the same price as the old 6 oz cans! Sugar, used to be in 5 pound sacks. Now, it is 4 pounds--and you are still paying an arm and a leg. I counted myself blessed to luck into a sale locally, for 4lb sacks of sugar for $1.50-1.59 each. Between $.375 and $.40 a pound. Walmart, has their "Great Value" brand, for $2.98 for 5 pounds. $.60 a pound!

The sugar crop was one of those that took a pounding this year, btw, folks, so be forewarned, prices aren't likely to go down anytime soon. If you are like me, and bake, or can, and know you will need sugar this summer--buy it now. Put it in a rubbermaid tote in the bottom of a closet. Seriously. You'll thank yourself later, when you have to take two and three looks at the price on the shelf, and sugar is through the roof.

Our farmers, all over the US, took a real beating this last year. The mono-culture method of farming, prevalent since WWII, has become a real liability now. These farmers, deeply in debt for seed, equipment, herbicides/pesiticides, fuel, and the like, are now in real trouble. They didn't have a crop this year, in many places, and in some, barely anything of salable quality. Now they are in hock, and their farms are being sold at auction, just so that they can pay their debts. If they will be able to do that. Family farms are being abandoned, simply because of a single year's crop loss...

Now think on it...permit me to indulge myself in a bit of a rabbit trail, here..

If there weren't enough successful crops this year, to feed a good many people...if the farmers who attempted to grow these crops, are not farming anymore, thanks to their overwhelming debt loads, and the ground is lying fallow...and so no new crops are being planted for *this* year...are we not in WORSE shape, than we were previously? Fewer growers, fewer things actually being grown, equals fewer things being harvested. Fewer things being harvested, leads to less food making it to the markets--whether as fresh, frozen, canned, or processed. If it isn't there, it isn't there. Now, supply/demand says that we'll see the demand increase...even as the supply dwindles. And the prices will reflect that--the companies will charge what they CAN for the food, because they know that people cannot live without it. People *do* have to eat. Period. We can do without cable, we can do without cell phones, or land lines. We can do without eating out, or going on vacation. But we cannot live without food.

This is just food. Prices per barrel for oil have gone up, to almost $80/barrel as of my last check. So petroleum products go through the roof, too, thanks to the passed on costs of manufacture--this will cross all over the market, since we need fuel to get the non-petroleum based products to market, too. Any and all products created at any point with any form of petroleum (everything from plastics, to inks, to cosmetics, to clothes) are going to see a big rise, as well...since we not only have the transportation costs, but the costs of the petroleum going into them as an ingredient.

And so the prices are GOING to rise. There's just no way around it. And yet...yet...the government insists that prices haven't risen. That there is no inflation. That there won't be any inflation...

Hm. Is the Emperor naked? Who is the man behind the curtain, and why does he want us to not see reality? How much worse is it, than I have seen, and talked about here?

I hate the feeling that I am being manipulated. I hate knowing that the powers that be, out there, are pulling strings, trying to get me to watch the right hand when the left hand is off doing something nefarious, freedom-infringing, and certainly far more important...the big question to me, is, if they want me to look here...if they are continuously trying to draw my/our attention to this 'big event' or that, where else do I look. I almost feel like I've been out wandering in the woods at night...and come across someone doing something illicit. They don't shoot put their flashlight beam right into my eyes, while their "associates" clear out with whatever it was they were doing/getting into--causing me to be temporarily blinded to their activities. And by the time my vision is clear, the signs of activity are gone, and all that remains is the aftereffects. I cannot "prove" illicit activity, but I can darn well deduce from what is left, that something hinky was going on.

So yes. I am angry. I don't know what to do next, but I do know, "do *not* look into the light. Look away. Check around the area--see what is going on "behind the scenes". Don't read the front page, read pages 15-20, of your newspaper. Follow their trails. Overlay the information, like it seems our government security forces cannot do. See what really is going on, and see what they do not want you to see...and then talk about it.

Because I am sick and tired of being treated like a child who is incapable of understanding. I am sick and tired of my government, and its lackey's, telling me I have nothing to worry about...that Uncle Sam will take care of me.

Because I know that the way he wants to take care of me, involves the invisible, yet substantial, chains of slavery...of subjugation...of servitude. And I want nothing of it. Get your greedy mitts off of me and mine, "Uncle"--believe me--I am teaching my children about you. And the tricks you pull. And your vile scheme to overtake our liberties, to have us hand them over on a silver platter, and with nary a thank you, take those precious, God-granted freedoms, and throw us all into some socialistic nightmare of a future.

No thanks. Keep your chains. Keep your servitude. Keep your mindless obedience. For all that I have undying faith in my Creator, you, most certainly, are not He. And I will not surrender to you. I will not let you take me and mine. I will fight you to my last breath...I will not let you take this blessed freedom, this sweet liberty, no matter the cost.

For those who propose such things as good and beneficial for all--I will pray for His mercy on you. May a spiritual 2 x 4 whomp you upside the head before it is too late. And to paraphrase a friend of mine's blog title/header--may you willingly fall to your knees before the Lord, lest you be shoved to them.

And may His mercy, and goodness, fall on us all. For I fear we will need it sorely in the new year to come...

Monday, December 28, 2009

To party..or not...

Now, you all know I have posted before, about the need for building greater community networks. To build a 'net', in your local area...that I have posted about hospitality, and how cocooning ourselves away in our own homes, not reaching out, but spending our time before the tube, or the computer, doesn't do anything to build up those ties that bind...

Trying to take my own advice, El Husbando and I decided to have a party on New Year's Eve, nothing late, mind, just a quiet evening get together, with plenty of food, and just take the opportunity to get to know the neighbors better. I hand delivered the invitations to everyone...a total of six couples. It pains me to admit, that of the six couples, one told me right out that they could not come. I appreciate that very much. Because not ONE of the other five couples, has let me know whether they are/are not coming. Not one word. Not a phone call (and yes, the information was on the invitation, right beside the typed RSVP).

I understand, that the holiday season is a busy one. I really do. I know how terribly crazy my life was last week. However, it takes what, two minutes? to make a phone call...two-three minutes to say "we cannnot come, so sorry", or "We'd love to come, can we bring anything? We're so looking forward to it". The lack of consideration is mind-boggling. Not only that, it is potentially very painful, both personally, and financially...

We're not financially over-endowed. We have five small children, and we're on a limited budget. Times are tight all over. I cannot afford to spend money on food that will not be eaten. Especially, food for a party that will need to be eaten very shortly. Even if it isn't expensive on a per-ingredient level, it does add up.

And that's not taking into account, that it is kind of insulting. I wonder, are they coming? Do they not want to get to know us better? I specifically put on the invitation, that we really wanted to get to know our neighbors better. To have an invitation--a hand-delivered one, no less, ignored, basically...well, I just don't know what to think. Have we somehow insulted people? Is this just the way people are, now, so inconsiderate that to say "yay or nay" is beyond their capability?

I always try to let people know whether we can come or not. And if we have to cancel, I make it a point to do it asap, so that they are not purchasing food for us that we won't be there to eat. It is just good manners, and consideration for others. And it hurts that apparently, I'm the only one who thinks so, around here.

The worst part is, I don't even have a phone number for many of them. Lots of people out here are not listed, so getting phone numbers is a sketchy thing. You have to KNOW someone before you get their phone number, apparently. And so, I cannot get them on the phone to ask, "Are you coming?"...I'll have to make another trip to see for sure.

And while I am very interested in getting to know my neighbors, and eager to better our acquaintance, I have no desire to appear, desperate..if that makes any sense.

Have any of you been in this situation? I mean, really, not ONE person has called to say yes or no? I don't know whether I ought to buy 'party food', or not! I've got some already, but there are other things I was waiting on, since I didn't know how many folks would be coming for sure. Now, I'm what, three days out, and I *still* have no idea...

It is very frustrating, and disappointing.

But despite this, I am not going to let it stop me from trying to be hospitable. I am thinking we will try once a quarter, to get people together. Once a month would be good, but I cannot bear the burden that often...even simple dinners get expensive when there are more people to feed. And besides, people *do* have other things to do than come to my house, lol. I'll just keep trying, and maybe I'll have better luck next time. A couple of months to 'lick my wounds' will be enough time, I think. People will be more inclined to look for something 'different' to do of an evening, come mid-February, long after the winter holidays, and before spring lightens things up with warmth and flowers...

Wish me luck!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Ugggggghhhhhh I can't believe I ate the whole thing!

The whole pan of green bean casserole, that is. Over a period of 2 1/2 ish days. I love green bean casserole, but only get permission to make it on holidays (not that El Husbando gives me a strict menu. But he doesn't care for it, and I rarely make more than two sides per meal. And so, if I am making green beans most of the time, they had better be with onions and bacon. Not with soup and french fried onions on top! ).

Now, before you think "glutton"!...well, maybe a bit. But I had some for lunch and dinner on Friday, lunch and dinner on Saturday, and lunch and dinner today (I said I like the stuff, didn't I?). And now I have one fewer pan to shoe-horn into my refrigerators. I am going to be breaking down the sweet potato casserole into a smaller package, since there is only a little of it left. Woohoo! One down, one to go!

But of course, there is still the enormous turkey sitting on a platter in my fridge. Yeah. That is getting sliced and diced tomorrow. Some of it will be bagged and frozen, some will be cooked into broth and canned up for soup use later on. Some will be sliced and used for sandwiches for El Husbando to take to work later this week. It will all get taken care of..whew. Thank goodness.

Of course, I've got a ton of things to do this week--we're hoping to have a party on New Years Eve--we're still not sure if anyone will come, and if so, who. But, we'll be sitting around with our bells on, and food laid out for eating. Whether anyone shows up, oh well! :-) Of course, I'm not sure how much food to make. We didn't invite a huge horde of people--6 couples, and one of whom told me right out that they wouldn't be here, as they will be out of state visiting family. So, I know of a couple of people who won't be here. Nothing from anyone else. Wish they'd use the RSVP number I put on the bottom.

It seems that no one uses them, or responds to them anymore. I like having people over. If I am not going to have anyone show up, I'd like to know now, though, before I go to the trouble of really thorougly cleaning the house again, setting up a buffet table, etc. Not to mention the food to purchase and make into something.

When you have parties, do you put an RSVP on there? Do people use them? Do they let you know? If you're invited, do you let them know asap, or do you wait til a few days before said party? Am I old-fashioned, for expecting folks invited, to let me know? Especially since I said things like "we'd like to get to know our neighbors better" on the invitations? It is kind of hard to not take a complete and total lack of response personally.

Of course, I realize that this is the holiday season, and many people are very busy. But a two or three minute phone call isn't that difficult to make, even for me, and I've got a very busy household, Christmas time or not. I just I completely out of line expecting folks to call/stop by, whatever, to let me know that they won't be coming? Or is this just the way people are? Even people you would expect to have better manners than that?

Anyway, I do hope that your plans for New Years Eve--whatever they may be--are settled, and will be fun. I pray for a blessed, healthy, and financially stable new year for us all...and I do hope that you will return the favor, as we've got a lot of stuff on the table financially in the first three months of the year--a potentially substantial pay raise/promotion for El Husbando, our tax returns, and the sale of our home in North Carolina. All of which are very vital for the ongoing financial stability of our family--it will be a great blessing to be out from under a good deal of debt (our plans include paying off the majority of our non-mortgage debt with the proceeds from the taxes and sale of our home). So obviously, your prayers are very much needed, and very much I'll say thank you in advance, and ask that you continue to pray as you think of us, through the first quarter of the year.

I'll be posting more tomorrow. I've got quite a bit spinning about in my head these last few days. Not much silence and quiet to pursue those lines of thought, however, and I hope that with El Husbando heading back to work tomorrow, things will 'normalize' a bit, although we'll be starting to write our thank you notes...which should be interesting...wish me luck..

Friday, December 25, 2009

How to cook a turkey so good your husband wants one once a month...

Seriously, folks.

Brine that turkey. It is, quite frankly, the simplest, easiest, most time/cost effective way of making a moist...tender...flavorful bird, that you can imagine. Keep in mind, I am not a baster, a clock watcher (well, I am if I have other casseroles and such to go into the oven, but still), or any of that nonsense.

1/2 c brown sugar
1 c kosher salt (the recipe originally called for 1 1/2 c, but when I tried that at Thanksgiving, we found it to be too salty)

Dissolve the brown sugar and salt in a quart of hot water (I put the water onto the stovetop in a sauce pan, add the sugar and salt, and stir with a fork til I cannot feel anything gritty). Once that point is reached, I added rubbed sage, whole black peppercorns, whole bay leaves, and garlic paste. And boiled it for a minute or two, then turned it off.

In the meanwhile, I had finally maneuvered that behemoth of a bird into a VERY large (to my mind) stock pot--the sort you use for frying turkeys, or cooking up a REALLY big batch of chili when your entire family is visiting...including cousins...

Pour the brining solution over the turkey. Now, pour cold water into the container with the bird....until the bird is submerged. I goofed, and Mr Tom was only "mostly" submerged. A portion of his flesh right around his neck region remained above water, but it was the best I could do, short of enlisting the help of El Husbando and his bad back, and the mandatory presence of a 22 qt pressure canner pot. No thanks. One huge pot to clean was enough, thank you....

I put a lid on the pot, and left it on the counter (no way I could have moved it). He stayed cool enough all night there, but if it had been any warmer, I'd have moved him to the sun room (totally poor name--it is on the north side of the house, we don't heat it, and it stays COLD...but I digress). Anyway, keep that sucker COLD as you can, overnight. Let the sugar and salt do their work, the spices and herbs work their way into the very cell structure of this formerly feathered denizen of the poultry yard...and wait...

I pulled him out (no rinsing, ladies!), put him into the pan (he BROKE my roasting rack! I get to go buy a sturdier one after the first of the year), and slathered him up with butter. You should have heard was awful....rubbing the softened butter in, asking him how his "holiday season" had been--as if it were a client and I a masseuse....I even did voices..."So, how are your holidays going, sir?"..."Wellll, not too bad so far..."...."OH, don't worry, because now you will end up on my table, BWAHAHAHAHAHAAA!".

Yes. I am strange, I admit it. I even "replayed" it for El Husbando, who came to see why his wife was laughing like the mad scientist in a grade B 60's sci-fi movie. He got a good chuckle out of it, as I progressed to sprinkling our now silent "friend" with a wee bit more kosher salt, and some ground black pepper, on top of the now buttery skin. Tent over it with aluminum foil, and pop it into the oven. I usually pull the foil off about 30 min prior to our believed "oven ejection time", as to get a good crispy skin layer, as well as a good brownish color.

This was delightful. The white meat was tender...MOIST....flavorful. If I had needed more convincing, after our experience at Thanksgiving (I didn't), I wouldn't need it now! We are planning to always brine our turkeys from now on, and maybe our roasting chickens, too.

I can, as you can tell, *highly* recommend brining your turkey. Just make sure it is thawed first. And remove the gibblets and neck, unless you WANT them brined...check inside that cavity (something I have forgotten to do from time to time...sigh).

It was a wonderful day, a wonderful meal, and I hope you will give brining a chance. I seriously had next to nothing to do to that bird, and it was done....

Let me know--have you ever brined a bird? What do you put into the brine, as far as herbs, spices, fruit juices....??? Inquiring minds want to know...


Well, the presents are opened (I think it took a whopping 15 minutes from start to finish!). The trash is mostly picked up. The turkey is in the oven (since it will take about 5 hours, and we want to be eating around 2, *is* a 20+lb bird). The casseroles were made yesterday, the dough for the crescent rolls is rising in front of the fireplace, the cake is frosted and on the stand, I've got the pie dough just about ready to go into the pan. Let's see...I turned the crock pot back on for the green beans for El Husbando. I need to devil the eggs, set up the veggie tray, and get the casseroles coming to room temp. Oh. And the rolls need rolling and shaping up.

I've gotten a second load of dishes done this morning, already, and I'm on load two through the washer, too (the children were given a ton of clothing, and it all had to be sorted and washed asap, before it ended up sneaking in with a load and staining everything). El Husbando had a rough night (thanks to the weather affected back pain), and so he is laying down for a nap. I'm mostly keeping an eye on the twins and the bread dough, and trying to keep the fire going just right.

Hopefully, the weather that slammed us yesterday hasn't caught too many of you in its grip. We're still locked up tight here, although #1 went out and pranced about, wearing a dress, tights, pants over the tights and under the dress, some of her daddy's heavy military socks over the tights, rain boots, a coat, gloves....she wanted to go out, so she got to also bring in a bunch of firewood (wetish, but it is drying off in front of the fire (plus there's plenty of heat in there, and it still burns pretty well).

For all that the sun is out and shining, we'll be lucky to see 26 degrees today, so we'll likely be keeping close to home for a while yet. No chance of my going anywhere today or tomorrow. And possibly Sunday, but we'll see. We were supposed to have some friends come over to visit tomorrow, for desserts and coffee. I'll have to call them this afternoon and see if they are going to risk it, or not (they only live two miles away, but it is over some rough roads in good weather/conditions).

I'm tired already, but we'll have to see if I can get a nap later today. Unless El Husbando's back clears up, I'll be pulling another "all-dayer" :-) Maybe I can manage to go to bed earlier tonight.
Our company from up north won't be coming--they got hit with the weather, and would be driving straight through the worst of it, to come down here. No thanks. No sense risking it, as much as we'd have loved to have seen them. So it will be a nice, relatively quiet (well, five children and weekend...

God bless, and I pray your Christmas was a beautiful one. Gifts may be few, but the best gift of all, came wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

Gloria in Excelsis Deo!

To God be the glory for the greatest gift the world has ever known...a gift reviled, abused, broken, and finally, crucified, for the sins of the world...

May God forgive us all, for helping pound the nails. May He forgive us our sins, and help us to go and sin no more.

And may we all strive, to be a shining example of the love of Christ, His mercy, in this world (I'll leave the justice to Him).

May all of you have a blessed and spiritually fruitful Christmas.

From the Off to the West yours....

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Let it snow!!!

We are in the part of Oklahoma (okay, most of it was, lol), that was slammed by that lovely storm that moved through the center-north of the country. We have drifts in our yard. We had 40mph gusts (and up) throughout the day.

My children are thrilled. I will admit, they weren't permitted outside today--too much ice and wind. I went out, to feed the birds, and get their waterer filled, and to run to the mailbox (1/10th of a mile each way, and it felt like an eternity). The lock on the gate was frozen over. Definitely not something I wanted to tackle, so I ended up going through the pipe fence, rather than climbing the gate or forgoing getting the mail into the box. I am sure my mail lady appreciated it ;-) Poor T. Out driving these back country roads, in this weather? Ugh.

More than 1/3d of our driveway was iced over completely (as in, even the gravel was submerged) at 1pm, and that was before the really bad weather hit. So you can imagine how bad it is now. Christmas Eve Vigil Mass, as well as the Christmas Day masses have been canceled, for safety reasons. Unfortunate, but we had already decided that there was no way we could make it, even if it had gone on as scheduled. There are parts around here, supposed to get up to 11inches.

We can use the moisture, but still...whew.

Regardless, we will have a white Christmas. And that is enough of a rarity, anywhere, to make me smile at the thought.

Now, I must get back to my regularly scheduled "frantic Christmas Eve" activities (still have the yeast rolls to set up, as well as breakfast, finish the wrapping, and get myself to bed...and it's 1030 already...ugh!).

Hopefully, you have been able to breathe a bit...enjoy yourselves, if you can!

God bless....

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Windows...I have clean windows...

Okay. So the northeast US got slammed with a blizzard. There is something similar coming this way, in the next day and a half. And this morning, I was on a stepladder outside, cleaning my windows. With a squeegee. And a spray bottle. And a few other implements.

I took the screens down. And scrubbed the storm windows, the inside windows, and had my oldest vacuum the screens out, as well as the window wells.

And so now I have clean windows. REALLY clean windows. SPARKLY windows. All the better to watch the snow fall/fly Christmas Eve and into Christmas morning.

I live in Oklahoma. And the winds are strong, and frequent. The dust on the gravel roads, as well as the dust coming up from the fields, sticks to everything. And there are a large number of flies (especially given the fact that we don't have a lot of cattle, the chickens are a goodly distance away from the house, and we keep the carport and areas around the house, pretty well scraped up), all summer long. So by the end of fall, and all the harvesting, the windows look a fright. Its like looking through a peephole into a sandstorm--only there's not sand blowing.

So, in a fit of housewifely energy, I decided today was the day. I mixed up my special window cleaning blend (I used an old gallon vinegar jug, specially labeled now with "WINDOW CLEANER" on it in big black bold permanent marker letters, to hold the solution, btw).

2 c rubbing alcohol
1/2 c ammonia
1 tsp liquid dish detergent (NOTHING WITH BLEACH!--bleach and ammonia make a toxic gas, it WILL kill you)--I used my GreenWorks detergent, btw

Pour all of those into your gallon jug, and add enough warmish water to fill it up. There ya go. Use a funnel to pour some of it into your spray bottle (label it, please!), and away you go!

I bought, several years ago, back long before we moved here, a squeegee, a lambswooly cover for scrubbing, and the extender handle for them both. I had some serious windows in my old home. Here, we have some good sized windows, as well, but I had yet to clean any of them since the children tried to "help" by cleaning the dining room windows with a muddy broom last fall--"But it LOOKED clean, mom!" was what they said, when I asked about the use of the muddy broom...sigh.

So my windows, between the muddy broom, time, and standard Oklahoma window wear and tear, needed a serious cleaning. So, I grabbed my spray bottle, the squeegee, the wooly scrubber, a yellow nylon scrubber (the kind you use on teflon/no stick cookwear?), and a lint-free cloth. And I went to work. It didn't take really long to clean them (far longer to get the screens out, actually. Dang things were TIGHT!). Spray on, use the wooly. Spray again, use the scrubber, and then, the squeegee. And then the towel. Just to make sure I got it all up, so there were as few streaks as possible.

And let me tell you, these windows, are C-L-E-A-N! I still need to finish the inside of the two other bathroom windows, and the bedrooms, but the big windows are all pretty much done. Whew. And since they are the ones in the main rooms of the house, well, I'm not too upset that my knee gave out (something about kneeling ON the sink edge, to clean the inside of the kitchen window, will do that for you) before I finished.

In more, and slightly less interesting news, I did finally get my Advent-themed Christmas cards out--two days before Christmas. LOL. Sans a picture of the children, since the only one I was able to get, involved #4 screaming inconsolably--he looks like he is smiling, but it is just cause he is inhaling while he screams. He's talented that way!

Somehow, I have to get some pictures taken that actually look GOOD. I promised my grandmother a picture of the children, a BIG picture (she is losing her vision to glaucoma pretty rapidly, on top of already being mostly deaf), and so it had better be GOOD, because *everyone* who walks into that house will be expected to see and admire it. And it isn't even my grandmother's house, it is my aunt's. My grandmother takes over her immediate surroundings, and I'd really rather not make my poor aunt hang a picture of a screaming child on her wall, if only out of love for her. :-)

I know I got a lot done today, but with my knee not liking me much, and the storms coming in tomorrow, early on...well, I've got a long list of things to do. I have to make sure to get the chickens' feeder refilled first thing, and their waterer into the coop, so they won't have to wander around in the inclement weather any more than is absolutely necessary. Peep is still too young to be getting chilled that much. And since he/she is still with us, I'd like to keep 'em healthy. :-)
I have presents to wrap, homemade crescent rolls to start, fudge to make, a burnt sugar cake to make, a stocking to finish making, Mass to attend (assuming the weather isn't too bad--we've got a 20+ minute drive each way, and on slick country roads, I'm none too keen on driving it if I don't ABSOLUTELY have to...We'll have to see what weather conditions are like tomorrow late afternoon/evening...oh. I have a turkey to brine. A fire to keep going all day, a few more Christmas cards to get in the mail (the printer stopped wanting to print today--it was being cantakerous on me, as it does off and on) once I get the letters to print, a letter to an old friend who is still following the traveling gypsy known as a "husband in the Army", stockings to fill, etc, etc.

I don't suppose any of you want to come and help, do you? Please? Pretty please?

And I *may* be having company show up mid-Christmas Day (a BIL and his girlfriend), for the weekend. So I need to be able to have my lunch/dinner time flex a I'll likely make as much of the food in advance as I can, and reheat whenever it looks like it is getting close (except for the turkey. That'll have to be ready when it is ready, iykwim).

Wish me luck, folks. I'm figuring I'll be on here tomorrow, if for no other reason than to schedule a nice Christmas day message, and change over the playlist. :-)

God bless, and I hope you are better prepared than I am!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Slavery, subjugation...and how to resist it

Soon enough, ladies and gentlemen, we will be under a form of slavery. Soon enough, all across this land, every single person in this country (okay--all except for those working for the federal government), will be under the slavemaster's whip.

The health care legislation currently moving through the US Senate, is well on its way to making us all slaves under Massa Sam (he used to be Uncle Sam, but if he's wielding a whip, I doubt any one of us would grant him that benevolent name)...We will be working, and paying...MANDATED by law, to pay, for "insurance" we won't have. We will not have the right to opt out. We won't have the right to say "no thanks, I'd rather pass". We will be required to purchase insurance. Under penalty of law. A law which, by the way, will end up in all of us being under a single-payer system, run by our massa.

Do any of you not know this? That the payments start *immediately*, yes, IMMEDIATELY!--and yet no one will receive "benefits" for more than four YEARS? Oh yes, boys and girls. You will be shelling out, and shelling out, and shelling out...for NOTHING. And we will not just be paying for you, and I...but we will be paying for every single one of the illegal aliens who have flooded our country. And their families that are in the process of being brought over by "chain migration".

Slavery folks. We'll be "workin' for the man", alright. We'll be slavin' away, paying for the medical care of someone we've never met! Robbing our children and grandchildren, of not only their right to make a living, but also of their right to self-determination. If you don't want insurance, don't buy it. But after this vote...after it is signed into law...we won't have a CHOICE, folks. Our children will be FORCED to buy something. FORCED. To BUY something. Do you get that? We are being forced to purchase law. FORCED. Now...where, in the constitution and the Bill of Rights, does it give the government the RIGHT to require you to PURCHASE something? Last time I checked, it wasn't in there. Last time I checked, that would not be listed among the bill of rights, or any of the amendments thereof. We are a people that, once upon a time, went to war because we didn't want to pay taxes on paper (among other things). Taxes, I might add, that proportionately, are FAR lower than what we pay today? People DIED because they didn't want to pay taxes to a government, and wanted representation to go along with their money.

Given the current activities in Washington, as compared to the feelings running across the country, it appears as if once again, we have a government taxing its people, while not representing them. And before you say "well, they were elected". They may have been elected, but these 'elected officials' in DC are only there for themselves, by and large. In days of old, if they had done something like this, of this magnitude, they would be AFRAID to go home. They'd have been tarred, feathered, and very likely, find themselves running to escape the gallows or lynch mobs, complete with torches. They would not have DARED to do such things.

And yet we have, for the most part, a group of individuals in our Congress who are such panty-waists, that they cannot FIGHT. Very few of the minority party have stood up and said NO NO NO. Very few of them have come out and said, "BRIBING senators to cast their votes for/against certain legislation is WRONG" (if not illegal). Where is the outcry? Where are the folks from Nebraska, and Connecticut, who are starting a recall effort?

Thanks be to God, we have some great senators, from the state of Oklahoma. Senator James Inhofe, and Senator Tom Coburn....both good men who have been splitting the fights (Inhofe has been tackling the horrid Copenhagen/global warming/cap and tax insanity, Coburn, as a doctor himself, has been dealing with the health care debacle)--but they are united in voting against this absolute monstrosity of a piece of legislation...

Now, given that acts of violence are frowned upon both in law and Christian morality, and since my senators are not so much to blame for this nonsense (although if I was Sen Nelson, Sen Dodd, any of the others voting on this mess, I'd be seriously consider a prompt retirement far far away from my "home district", out of fears of violence from outraged, 'finally had enough' constituents--NOTE: I do not advocate violence against our elected officials....I strongly encourage anyone feeling pushed into a corner, who feels that violence is the only way, to seek help, and do not act on your feelings. Please!)...knowing that...what should we, as morally conscientious, yet outraged citizens, do, to protect ourselves?

We should start pressuring our local (state level) legislators to pass legislation that effectively makes this legislation coming from DC, null and void. Can they do that?!?!? Well, YES, they--actually, we, through our leglislators---can do just that. It has been done time and again in the past. A recent example would be the nullification in 30 states of the "Real ID" program. Oklahoma, praise God, was one of those states. The fact that those 30 states have officially passed 'Null and void" legislation, has pretty much made the national level legislation, completely null and void. If no one participates, then there is no way to "enforce" it nationally.

So. Can we do that with this "Obamacare" travesty? YES WE CAN! And we SHOULD. We should stand up, as one people, as one voice, and tell those...persons...passing DC, that we do not want it, we will not have it, and we will NOT PAY FOR IT!

Now, for those who think that it is just fine and dandy that everyone will have medical, folks. NO. Do you understand what is at stake here? We know that insurance companies--private companies--set the rules for those they decide to cover. we *really* want the government--which has shown that it is led by leftist militants, by communists, by socialists---telling us, how we should live? WHERE we should live? What kind of work we can do? What we can eat, and how much? How much we can weigh? How many children we can have?

For folks who are all about "choice"...let me tell you. You won't have any under this regime. Our rights, such as they are, even now, are better than the hellishness we will be subjected to under this bill, and the others like it, coming down the pike.

DC isn't listening. MAKE THEM LISTEN! Start calling, start writing, your state level government. Start writing letters to the editor, to educate those who may not be aware, that we can, in fact, declare this leglislation null and void...Tell everyone you can, that they do *not* have to be forced to take this nonsense. That we can all stand up...and with one voice, say "NO MORE!". Most of those in DC, are concerned with their re-election. And well they should be. They should be VERY concerned. But unfortunately, we all know that once this garbage is passed into law, we will be highly unlikely to ever get it off of the books. So our best chance, is to make it null. Waiting for the elections, and voting these...people...out of office, isn't going to help much--dollar short, day late kind of thing. Not for this legislation. I still think we ought to remove them from office, as quickly, and as overwhelmingly as possible. However, we have GOT to start moving and getting our state level legislators aware of our desires, as far as nullifying this once it is passed.

Yes, this time of year is completely overwhelmed, with the holidays, traveling, guests, etc. For those of us who are not traveling, nor having relatives coming in, now is a FINE time to sit down, and write an email, AND a letter (hand write it--it gets there attention)--and then call after the New Year. Seriously. Do not let them sit there and do nothing. We don't elect any of our legislators so that they can sit there picking their teeth, and congratulating themselves on getting elected. No, we elect them to legislate. We elect them to protect our interests. As soon as this nonsense is signed into law, which will likely be by mid-January, we need to have already been "on the ground, running" for a couple of weeks. This...baloney...still has to go back through the House and Senate, after the powers that be, hammer out their final agenda--I mean, their final solution...wait, sorry. Final BILL. Yes. That's it.

Folks, type up an email and send it off to your local legislator asap. Fire it off today. Follow it up with a call after New Years. And then, write one up, by hand, and let them know, in polite, yet firm terms, that you do not want this garbage forced down your throat. That you do not want to be required to sign on to this, that you do not want the government mandating that you buy anything....

Yes, I am angry. Fortunately for them, *not* at my local legislators or Senators/Reps from OK (Dan Boren, I am not happy with you, but you are not "mine"....what on earth are you people in Tulsa THINKING?!? I don't care WHO his daddy was, the man needs to go!). I am angry that despite every indication that more and more and more people are angry, do not want this...the senators are moving ahead.

May God have mercy on them, because I do not believe that their constituents will...

And to any national level legislators reading this (hahahaha), I'd just stay in DC if I were you. If you do go home...don't go gallivanting around town. I'd be pretty sure to buckle down and stay home and spend my time figuring out how I was going to explain "selling my vote" to an enraged majority of my constituents.

Monday, December 21, 2009

MMMMM. Saltine toffee

Some folks call it cracker candy. Some call it saltine toffee. Whatever the name, the stuff is legendarily good--and easy easy easy to make. Seriously folks. It is EASY. If it weren't for the possibility of a sugar burn, my 9 yr old could do it!

One sleeve of saltine crackers
1 c of butter
1 c of brown sugar
1 12-16oz bag of chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Open the package of crackers and lay the crackers out in a single layer on a cookie sheet (a jelly roll pan or deep cookie sheet works best). I line it with aluminum foil, some people use a silpat, for easy of cleanup, before putting the crackers on it.

Anyway, then melt the butter and sugar together into a small saucepan, bring it to a boil over med-hi heat, and let it boil for three minutes (you'll want to stir it so it doesn't end up burning!). Once you've hit the three minute mark, turn off the heat and pour the sugar/butter mixture over the crackers. Then, quickly, put the cookie sheet into the oven, for 5-6 minutes. When the time is up, remove the cookie sheet, and sprinkle the chocolate chips over the hot sugar. Wait 5 minutes, and then gently spread the hot chocolate over the entirety of the pan. Set the pan aside to cool (for faster cooling, use your fridge. Otherwise, it takes forever). Once it is cool, you can break it into chunks for eating, gift-giving, eating, parties, eating...well, I think you get the idea.

Some people like to sprinkle a light bit of sea salt over the top (it plays up the chocolate and the caramelly goodness. Some folks prefer it plain, some like nuts. If you are going to put a topping on it, do it after spreading, but before you get it thoroughly cool (you all know this, but sometimes those things we "assume" people know, bear repeating for the newbies).

Seriously, yummy stuff, folks, SO easy to make in large batches, for gift-giving or general eating.
Line your gift giving packages with waxed paper, or foil, so that the package isn't ruined by the chocolate (it will get soft and melt if left in a warm place).

Try it, if you never have before, and let me know what *you* think....

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Enchilada Casserole--the results

I forgot to take pictures (sorry!). It tastes good. Salsa will work as the enchilada sauce. I recommend trying it with mild salsa, though, esp if you are feeding it to a mixed crowd of children and adults (or even if you don't like spicy food).

We used the sour cream, but didn't need to add any more salsa, and we didn't have any avocadoes, or such, in the house. The avocadoes would have been nice, as a palate soother, considering how spicy this turned out, but weren't a real necessity.

In other words, try this! It is good, and relatively easy. And, if you make a big batch of Mexican meat mix, you can freeze some for another meal, and make this dish that night (plus, if you've got little hands to help, you can have them help put it together, by grating cheese, and sprinkling it on).

Menu tonight: Enchilada casserole!

I've had a hankering for some Tex-Mex lately, and being short on money and reasonably long on pantry/freezer, and time, I decided that this was something I ought to make myself (although going to the best local "Mexican" place sounds wonderful right cooking, no cleanup...siiiigggghhhh).

On a message board I frequent, I found this wonderful-sounding recipe for an enchilada casserole. So, seeing that El Husbando is tired of eating soup (we've had chili, vegetable beef, and chicken noodle, in one week, lol), I am making something more substantial for dinner tonight.

Here's the recipe:

1 1/2 lbs grd beef
2, 10oz cans red enchilada sauce, divided
1 1oz packet of taco seasoning mix
1 4oz can diced green chiles
1 c salsa (to your own taste preference)
4 c shredded Mexican blend cheese (we just used colby jack)
24 6inch corn tortillas
sour cream, avocado, lettuce, tomatoes, and more salsa (condiments for the end)

Preheat the oven to 350. Spray or grease a 9x11 casserole dish.

In a large skillet, brown the ground beef. Drain, and then add 1/2 of one can of enchilada sauce, the taco seasoning packet, the chiles, and the 1 c of salsa. Mix thoroughly, and simmer together for about 5 min.

Assembling the casserole:

Pour the remaining 1/2 can of enchilada sauce from the first can, into a shallow dish (NOT CASSEROLE DISH!). Spread about 1/4 c of the meat mixture into the bottom of the casserole dish. Dip 6 of the tortillas into the shallow pan, covering with enchilada sauce, then layer on top of the meat, making sure that the tortillas overlap a bit. Cover the tortillas with more meat mixture, a layer of cheese, and then drizzle with some of the enchilada sauce from the second can. Repeat process 2 more times, then dip the last 6 tortillas into the remaining red sauce, layer on meat and cheese. :-)

Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil, and bake for about 30min, or until bubbling. Remove foil, sprinkle with more cheese, and bake another 5 minutes or until the cheese has melted. Let casserole stand for 5-10 min before cutting into it.

Note: This is the recipe as it appears on the forum. I have no enchilada sauce, unfortunately. So I just used more salsa. A LOT more salsa (it was homemade, so I'm not too worried about it, lol). I will let you know how that substitution worked out for me, lol.

I will also attempt to post a picture. But we shall see how well that turns out, too. :-)

Hopefully, your weekend has been a nice and slow one, and you are not among the millions on the east coast of the US being slammed by a blizzard. I pray you have power, and water, and food enough to last you until you can dig out.

Many prayers for those trapped in the great white frozen north...

Friday, December 18, 2009

How to deal with difficult relatives...and other matters requiring Christian charity

Do you have a relative you'd much rather not have? One you cannot understand why the good Lord chose to pair up with you?

Well, you're not alone. Most of us have at least one relative (close, distant, whichever--there's usually one in each generation of any given family), that we've got absolutely nothing in common with, aside from the genetics (and you'd wonder about those, if the resemblence between the two of you weren't more obvious).

Do I sound like I know of what I speak? Well, I do. I have a relative like that. One I'd just much rather *not* deal with. One I'd rather just...forget. But I cannot. Cause they call. And they email. And they make demands. And more demands. And complain about the way we choose to do this, or that, or the other. Being polar opposites on 99.9% of the issues that come up in life, doesn't make getting to a plateau of common ground, any easier. In fact, as I'm sure you can imagine, it just manages to inflame already 'sensitized' personalities, until every meeting or conversation, is likely to end in a flare of anger or hurt feelings on one or the other. It makes it difficult indeed, to end each call on a positive note, because so much of the time, I just don't want to 'go there'. I am short on time, short on energy, and this person does not fathom what life is like in my shoes. I don't have time to sit and talk, I don't have time--or the desire--to listen to how they think I should raise my children (not to mention how many I should have), or how I should worship our Creator....

To be honest--and there's a lot of honesty in this post--I'd much rather just avoid their calls completely. Or hang up when they start getting irritating. But where is the Christian charity in that? I cannot be an example if I end every conversation with a slammed shut phone, and a dial tone. Maybe they'd get the point, maybe not. Maybe they'd realize that "gee, every time I get to telling her x,y, and z, she gets 'cut off' . Hmmmm". But given past history, I doubt it.

Part of me wants to tell them I am not at their beck and call, obliged to answer a phone every time it rings. I want to tell them to leave me, and mine, alone. Not to call, not to email, not to leave messages on my voice mail, telling me I need to change it because they don't like the tone. Look, fine, you're a relative. I get that. And I get that you supposedly love my children. I also get that for some reason that God only knows, He stuck the two of us together in a blood relationship...that I don't want to be a part of anymore.

But we are bound by blood. Bound by the family we share in common. Bound by a shared partial history. My children would be the poorer, in some respects, without this relative. But the challenges to my Christian charity, are immense. I suppose that, in itself, is why I have been "saddled" with this particular relative. To force me to exercise more charity in my dealings with chisel away at my...well, whatever it is that that would chip away at! I suppose all sin eventually comes down to pride, although pride seems an odd one, when this person regularly suggests/does things that are outside of the boundaries of Christian morality, and they do not tolerate discussion of where we feel differently, and why. Our morals and beliefs, our reasons for living the way we do, are considered joke fodder, something only a moron would go along with, or "alright for those who really believe that way"...morality is subjective...

Fortunately, our move to Oklahoma has placed us outside of the ready reach of this particular relative. We've not seen them since before our move. So, almost two years. But while distance has removed them from physically being here, the phone calls and emails do tend to make more problems. The phone calls appear out of nowhere. The text messages likewise. And the emails.

Combine our different beliefs on so many important issues (and morality is a *very* important issue, and to me it isn't subjective, it is objective, and there is no gray), with someone who likes to drink, and whose behavior is boorish in the extreme when they imbibe too much (and being so far away, I cannot always tell when they have been consuming alcohol), and you have a recipe for disastrous communications and an even more strained "relationship" than what was there before.

And so I have put their number on "refuse". I can do nothing about the text messages, but so far, they have not been an issue, since a large, earth-shaking run of them this last weekend. In a way, I wish that this relative would contact me. But on the other hand....the silence is perhaps best. For now, at least. My feelings are a touch too raw, yet, to move on so swiftly.

My main concern, is not for them, or even for me. It is for those relatives in common...who don't realize, yet, the stricture I have placed on future communications with this other relative. And they *will* be upset. And they *will* be hurt. And there will undoubtedly be a second round of fireworks when they do discover the vastness of the gulf between said relative and myself, and the fact that I am not again trying to keep a rickety bridge intact, but am instead, letting that bridge fall into the bottomless pit below. I have maintained it, and maintained it, at great cost to myself and my family, and I will no longer do so. Not out of pride. More out of self-preservation.

I know we are to love as Christ loves. And I know we are called to see those who trouble us, with the eyes of Christ, who died for all of us--not just the agreeable, likable folks, but the cantankerous, demanding aunt, the deaf, blind, manipulative as all-get-out grandmother, the brother who drinks too much and then makes passes at his sister-in-laws....all of them. But sometimes, a separation seems to be required. While it has been hard to see this relative, sometimes, through the eyes of Christ, I know, even then, that scripture instructs us to shake the dust from our feet, when we take the good news to those who will not hear it. And I think, in some small measure, that applies to our personal relationships, one-on-one, as well. I have tried to lead by example--they have wanted no part of what Christianity has to offer (unless it comes with a "Get out of hell" card with no strings attached). They have wanted no part of traditional faith and morality. They have berated and denigrated such things in not only my presence, which pained me greatly, but also in front of my children (whom they protest to love, and yet, have called them freaks, because, among other things, we homeschool them). I must protect my children. How are they to deal with a relative who says "I love you", and then turns around, and tell them that they are weird, bizarre, not normal, because they don't go to a brick and mortar schoolhouse on the bus "like everyone else"?

Protecting my children from such people would be a no-brainer, if they weren't relatives. And so I have come to the conclusion that there is just no way around it. For the good of my family, this relative must be--at least temporarily, placed on the "Do Not Call" list. Was it easy? No. Will it be easy? No. Does it make me happy? No, it does not. I wish that things were different, indeed I do. But I cannot, and will not, subject myself and my family to it anymore.

If I am doing wrong, I beg God's mercy. If I am right in my actions, I still beg for His mercy, as I am all too well aware that I need it, more than even I think I do. I ask for your prayers, for myself, for this relative, and for those we love in common...that this seperation will prove fruitful for us both, and that we will come out the other side, the better for it. It is hard, this Christmas season, to have this on my mind. But it brings home the fact that my home is truly not here. And that my family is far greater than the one I was born into, the one I married into almost 15 yrs ago, and even the wider family of friends and neighbors. For my family is the Bride of Christ. And my body does not abandon one part when it is in need. It acts much as our bodies do, circling the wagons, and defending and protecting the wounded part. And so, I beg you, to circle the wagons. Encircle me, and my family, with your prayers to Our Lord, as we go through this time, at the end of one year, and the beginning of another...that we might emerge from this, stronger than ever.

Thank you....

Thursday, December 17, 2009


Pound cakes. Two, big, beautiful, pound cakes. By candlelight, no less! The cake on the right is going to the speech therapist--Christmas trees. The one on the left, the "Cathedral"pan, is going to Mom (no, not my mom. She's in Atlanta. "THE Mom", as on "Shoved to Them". Go check her out if you haven't...she's a hoot, when she's not making you cry...

This hulking monster of a fireplace (I think the thing is probably five feet deep from the front to the back wall, and the firebox will fit 2 1/2 ft logs in back, and 3 fters up front), is the first thing you see when you walk in the back door. Please pardon the odd light effect. It really is quite lovely...that black line, is the vent for the blower. Let me tell ya..that sucker will heat up the HOUSE (all except the master bedroom at the other end of the house). And considering the size of this house, well, that's quite a feat!
Now, we're in the kitchen. Imagine a big box, with cabinet on all four walls. That's my kitchen. There are two 'holes' for doorways--one into the dining room, which is partly the view you have here, and another into the front hallway...and three "windows". One actually *is* a window (you shall see it in a minute. The other is this large bar/passthrough "thing" we have. Additional serving space for parties, is what I call it. For once, it is clean. And pictureworthy. It is the prime dumping ground, of all the flotsam and jetsam of life. Enjoy it now. It is this clean about once a quarter (or more often, if we are having company). This is where El Husbando sets his "stuff". The silver dish, is the actual sterling piece I picked up at the thrift store in NC (I would have packed that store up with our household goods if I could have). For less than $3, I believe. The bowl is a new piece my mother sent for a Christmas gift (hi mom! See!? I'm using it!). The hurricane "thing", well, the marbles change as the seasons/holidays do. Very versatile piece, that it has red and green glass marbles in it.
This is the mini-tree I mentioned. And the nativity scene. That's a vintage handkerchief. It's just the right size for serving as a doily here. I cannot remember which one I used last year, so this one will do, in a pinch. This was the best picture of this tree I got. Something about the lights just does NOT photograph too well. By the way, this is on the opposite end of that bar/counter/window "thing" we have. The other side is what "ought" to be the formal living room, but it's really our schoolroom. I'm glad you cannot see it right now--it needs help...
The kitchen window--this one's real, and even has glass in it! LOL. Two small apothecary jars (thrifted, tyvm!), mini ornaments, and Epsom salts as fake "snow". Holy family votive (electric window candle behind it. I'm thinking of draping some icicle lights across the top of the window/curtain rod, but I'm just not sure yet. Maybe next year.

The back door is to the left. That's our card wreath. Without all of ours on it, it is a wire form, with antique cards on metal, and that big glass glitter. I got it at a Junior League Holly Day Fair in North Carolina. Wish I could have gone this year...the "Joy" statuette has a small blue LED bulb at the top. This was a gift from my mom....the year before last? I think? I know I was there to get it....but it is hard to remember...see mom, I'm using something *else* you gave me! Oh--to the right of this picture, you can just see the cord for the lights on the above window shelf and garland. The pictures of that window just didn't turn out, so you won't get to see it in it's entirety. Sorry. I think you'll just have to cope! Oh--those two golden glass Christmas trees were an after Christmas Target buy about 4-5 years ago. Wish I had bought a few more.
This is the view of the family room, from the dining room window area. You can see the Papa Bear chair (the big reddish brown one), the Mama Bear chair (to the left of the picture--its actually a lovely paisley design fabric), and the couch. And my "oops, I forgot about the tablecloth on the end table" table between the chairs. LOL I think you all will forgive me for not having the perfect house. You can see my $40 thrift store handpainted antique European dresser to the left there. You'll see more pictures of it in a bit. The rocking chair to the right of the picture, is the one I got at my parish's rummage sale waaaay back when, in NC. And my thrift store wool winter jacket I have had for probably 10 years now, slung over the back. That's also another angle view of the fireplace. It is huge, I'm telling you. Those weird blueish splotches on each side of the crucifix, are the attempts I made at sampleing colors for the room. I'm going with the yellow in the dining room (which you will see momentarily). As it is one big room, and I'm eventually going to hang some valances--have the fabric, not the rods!--I've decided it is better to go with the same color, rather than trying something new. I *love* this color. It was a Valspar color from the mid-late 90s, called "Ivory Castle". It's NOT white. It's NOT ivory. It's yellow.
Here's the dining room. The color doesn't show up very well in this picture. But here you see my "real" china cabinet to the left, my entertainment center masquerading as a china cabinet to the right (I moved that puppy by myself, thank you, and let me tell you, it is HEAVY! Oh--those are the large apothecary jars that used to sit on the dresser in the family room (that red one, near the Christmas tree? yeah. That one---it used to sit where the entertainment center with pretensions of grandeur now rests). And yes, that is a vintage Christmas tablecloth. I *think* I snagged that one at a yard sale, but it was so long ago, I cannot remember. Thrift store, yard sale, something like that. I try to keep my eyes open...well, when I'm awake, that
Ah, yes, here's the red dresser. And the Christmas tree. With the tree skirt my mom made me underneath (see, mom...okay, okay, you get the picture now, right? I *do* use the things you give me, on occasion!). The huge wooden thing on the dresser, is a large Christmas pyramid that El Husbando and I bought in Germany, the first year we were married. We lived up the road from a nutcracker factory. I've never been big on nutcrackers, but I *am* HUUUUUGEEEEE on Christmas in general. So this baby--the biggest one that they sold, and it was 65 Deutsche Marks, at the time, so it wasn't cheap (figure $100 to replace, if you could)--is now out and on display. We lit it the other night, and it was flyyyiiinnnngggg around. That really bright thing next to it, is a lamp. But not just any lamp. It is one of those large, heavy marble table lamps that cost a fortune, when you can find one? Well, while this one needs a new shade, it is pretty, it was local (no shipping!), and it works (which is more than I can say for the other one I got at the same time/same store, but that's actually going to be an easy fix, when/if I get around to it). Yes. I got it guessed it...a thrift store, here in OK. I think I spent $35 on the pair. The mirror is one from my grandparents' farm in KY. Man, I miss them....

Folks, that's the end of the tour (for now!). I actually also managed to get about 35 envelopes addressed and stamped today, and letters folded and inside them. I printed up, and delivered all but one of the invitations to our New Year's Eve Party (having Christmas fall on a Friday, makes it harder to plan around. More people taking the long weekend to visit family). Got the Christmas picture of the children taken (with much wailing and gnashing of teeth--and that was just ME!). And made a grocery store trip. If you have a store selling "Best Choice" items, check them out--ours is selling the Best Choice 8oz cheese for 3/$4, their 4# sacks of sugar are $1.59, they have canned veggies (the usual three suspects) for 2/$.88, some of their hams are down to less than a dollar a lb, and the 10# sacks of Best Choice potatoes, are $1.50. Eggs are $1.25/dozen for larges. Some seriously good deals. So, if you have such a retailer, check them out, and see if they are running a "December to Remember" sale. I'll probably go back again in a week or so.
The last two batches of molasses cookies are ready to go into the oven (I doubled the recipe. And each one makes a goodly number of cookies--so consider yourself forewarned!). They are tasty, delicious, and not difficult, once you get over the whole rolling them up in waxed paper (I had to use freezer paper, as I had forgotten I was out of waxed paper). I'm almost done baking the molasses cookies, but the sugars are going to *have* to wait til tomorrow. There's no way I am cutting, glazing, and baking those tonight. It's already 830 here, and the girls are headed to bed...and this is a big "project" for no sense doing it myself.
God willing, you've had a productive day today, too. If not, well, get up and get moving tomorrow (if you can). Even if you just dust something, you'll undoubtedly feel a bit better about life. And who knows, once you get going, maybe you'll get energized to do something else..and then something else..and before you know it, the day is gone, the house is clean, and all is well in your little corner of the world.
At least til the husbands and children come home. And then...well. We all know what happens then, don't we? ;-)
Have a good night, friends. May dreams of molasses cookies waft through your heads. Wish me luck with my busy day tomorrow, and please pray for safety on the roads (lots of construction the way I am headed).

Today is baking day...

And I don't mean, the gentle, couple loaves of bread baking day. No, this is the beginning of the great Christmas baking/candy making extravaganza that is my life this time of year.

Just as a rundown, here's what I'm making today...

2 Cream Cheese Pound Cakes--one for a certain other blogger I happen to know in real life...(hi, "Mom"!), and one for the children's speech therapist (she has five children, too, so I'm sure it will be eaten shortly!)
at least one batch of Molasses cookies
more than a couple batches of sugar cookies...

The pound cake recipe, is one I found years and years ago in a Southern Living Annual cookbook. I cannot remember the year, however. But it was one of their highest rated I tried it. And from everyone I have ever given one too, it has been very well received...I'll post the recipe a little later...I use my Christmassy bundt pans (there are some very nice ones out there, even the pans that do the "minis" if you don't want a huge cake, but want to make a series of small ones instead, say for a party, or lunchtime get together). I've made the investment in a wide variety of Nordicware pans, for different occasions. Not just the standard baking pan....I've got several with hearts, one of the Cathedral pans, the Christmas tree pan....of course I've got the standard baking pan...El Husbando kind of rolled his eyes years ago...he didn't say too much about it. But now, I've got adequate storage space in my kitchen (yay!), so I've been able to keep them handy and user-friendly (I still want to figure out a way to better organize them, but we'll get there eventually, right?).

The molasses cookies...sound delicious. Plus, I have a bunch of molasses I rarely use. So, what better thing to do with them, and make cookies? The recipe is from Suzanne's website, Chickens in the Road. Lots of good, old fashioned cooking on that website. I always end up hungry after I've visited there. I'm not sure if that is a good thing or not, but I've made a couple of her recipes and enjoyed them immensely. Yum. I'm looking forward to getting a bite of one of these cookies.

The sugar cookies are from Ree's website (y'all *do* know who Ree is, right? The one and only, Oklahoma's home girl, Pioneer Woman?)...I don't have alot of decorating 'stuff' (for some strange reason, I buy things, and they end up wandering off with the girls, and being consumed or played with in such a way that I can no longer use them). Color me peturbed on that. Fortunately, Ree's recipe has a recipe for a egg yolk egg wash for the cookies, that gets baked on, so minimal post-baking decorating is needed. Thank goodness!! I don't have time for that mess...

Later, I'll be making fudge, and saltine toffee, and likely some sugared nuts. And yes, I'll be sharing some of this bounty with friends nearby (not that any of them read this, yet...).

I've already gotten a preliminary invite for our neighborhood party typed up. I'm waiting on an opinion from El Husbando (I love being able to email him attachments at work--it makes it soooo much easier to get his opinion on things without having to wait for him to get home of an evening). Hopefully, I will be able to start getting those out today. We'll have to see when El Husbando gets back to me, though.

The Christmas letter is typed up, and I dug out the paper to print it on, this morning. I've got stamps. I need to get it printed up later today, though. I want to get envelopes addressed and stamped and ready for filling. I'm planning on taking a picture of the children either tonight or tomorrow, once I can get them all clean at the same time (this, this is a rant for another day!). Tomorrow is speech therapy day, and so we'll be gone all day long. Seriously. But we'll have fun, regardless, and hopefully I will be able to get everything done that I need to...

In case you need a little 'something' to brighten your day, or just feel like you're in the mood for a little baking, here is a rundown of the recipes I am using today...

Molasses Cookies:
Sugar Cookies:
Pound Cake:

You could do like I am doing, and get the cakes going first, as they take so long, and then get the cookies mixed up and "chilling", that way, you're maximizing your time use. Something we can all do a bit more of this time of year, in particular. Because we *need* more time in our days!

Hopefully, this evening, I'll also post some pictures of the decorations around here. Keep your fingers crossed for a good sunny day, as the flash makes everything look "off", and I've not figured out how to disable it... :-)

God willing, all of you are having a great day, and with 8 days until Christmas, you are still remembering the reason for the season, the commemoration of the birth of our Savior. God bless....

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Yes, another post

I want y'all to go check out PW's post in her cooking section today...

I soooo wish I could do some cookies up like this. But my copier is an HP. :-( So I'd have to pay someone. And I *really* don't have the funds to buy the paper, and still pay someone on top of that, no matter how cute they are...

Yesterday and today

Mercy Maud, y'all, I *knew* I needed to clean my house, but I had NOOOOO idea it was this bad! Yesterday, let me see..what did I do yesterday? Oh, yes, I unpacked, washed in my "Green Clean" (from Clorox) dish detergent, rinsed in vinegar water, carefully dried, stacked, and put away (after inventorying) my antique china. I have a lot. I think, however, that there is more of it packed in different boxes. I will have to search. I am pretttty sure I have some more serving pieces.

But regardless, I have it done. I also managed to get the school room cleaned up, and kept up with the rest of the mess. Not to mention making a pork roast, with potatoes, carrots, and onions. I didn't eat it until late, as #1, #2, and I went to church for our parish's Advent Penance service. What basically happens is priests from all over the diocese converge onto a parish, and hear confessions, after scriptural readings, and a homily (a sermon based on the readings, for those who don't know what a homily is). This was a big event, as it was #2's very First Confession. She remembered everything, from what she told me, except for the fact that "I sometimes get mad and hit my sisters and brothers" (sometimes? SOMETIMES? What planet does this child LIVE ON? LOL :-) ). We're working on that...

Today was another fun day. I got the bar in the kitchen cleaned up, completely, two more Nativity scenes out (I thiiink I have five?) one in the kitchen, and one on the counter in the guest bathroom. Also got a small tree out and decorated--it is SOOOOO cute!!! Snowflakes and stars, some mini-glass ornaments...precious! And white lights...always white lights. Anyway, I eventually got around to letting the children put "their" ornaments on the main tree--we have family ornaments, and then there are the ornaments that the children will take with them when they move out and have a tree of their own. My parents give them one each year, and so do we, so they should have *quite* a collection by the time they are grown. Better than having to start from scratch!

And then...I decided to clean off the globes on the ceilings fans in the dining room and family room. And clean the blades. Ladies...we all know, that when we leave the windows open, in the spring, summer, and fall, that we are letting dust in. We know this. But in some ways, it creeps up on you gradually, until you don't remember what bright light was, and only know the dimness of the barely noticeable light being emitted by the four 60 watt bulbs over your head...

Today I found out. Oh. My. Goodness. They look so CLLLLEEEAAAAANNNNNN!!!!! And my sink, well, the sink was absolutely filled with the nastiest water. BLECH! But hey, my globes are clean--all eight of them. The fan blades all got vacuumed. My vacuum cleaner got emptied and the beater bar got the hair cut off of it for the second time in as many weeks.

We got the vacuuming done, three loads of laundry, a load of dishes washed and put away and the dishwasher reloaded. Dinner is leftovers--chili, or pork roast from last night. I've got a fridge with large pots in it, they *shall* be emptied! LOL. I was planning on baking today, but really, it just was *not* going to happen this afternoon. Tomorrow, yes, I will be baking. At least two of my cream cheese pound cakes (one to go to the Mom, and the other to go to #2 &3s speech therapist) and some molasses cookies, too. Maybe--just maybe--some sugar cookies. For decorating. But we shall see precisely how insane the children drive me, and how early that "critical event" occurs, during the day tomorrow.

I will be taking pictures of the house, in the next few days. I still haven't gotten the new garlands made, much less put up. I have typed up the Christmas letter for this year. I need to print it off. And take a picture of the children, to get copies of...First, though, I need a total card count..sigh. Wish me luck--I need to go peruse my address book...

Are you baking much this year? Are you giving gifts of food, or something usable, instead of a gift card? Or are you simply limiting the gift giving to those you really *want* to give something to, and not those to whom you feel "obliged" by workplace, or other custom?

Regardless, you have my best wishes as we head towards the final turn in the Advent season, as my oldest three have proudly announced today--only 9 more days!!!!!! Even the two year old can point to the 25th on the calendar !

And now, ladies, I am off to have something to drink (not as strong as I'd like, but it is early hours yet. ;-)

You have *got* to watch this--too precious for words!


Monday, December 14, 2009

Almost finished...

Today has of those days...which seem to occur most frequently around holidays, and the much-anticipated visits of critical family/friends.

Let me give you a rundown...

After Mass yesterday, DH and the dc started bringing the boxes of Christmas decorations over from one of our 'shop' buildings. We have 9 or more boxes of Christmas "stuff" (one is the fake tree all by itself). It doesn't seem like much, until I have them all piled into the carport. I started off easy...with the garland I made up years ago--inexpensive 'fir' garland, wrapped with a red 'berry' garland, wrapped with white lights, wrapped with gold wire ribbon (all of those are wired TO the fir garland)...and then, finally, plastic ornaments are wired on. I have three of them, about 7 feet each. I made them for our much smaller old home, and so now, I need more of them. Good thing I bought extra materials, because I am going to need it to finish decorating *this*

So I got those lovelies up, and plugged in...put the little candle lamps into the windows in the dining room and kitchen, and pulled out a few other things to put out last night. I had taken down all of the fall decor finally yesterday afternoon and packed it that was another "to do" marked off of the list.

But today dawned. And El Husbando wanted his tree up. He didn't *say* it, so much as *looked* it. I think you wives know what I mean! Not to mention, that I was being hounded by my seven year old every hour on the hour "Can we put the tree up NOOOOOWWWWWW????". We actually did do some schoolwork today, but then the "fun" began.

Now, you ladies know how much fun it is to play house...move furniture this way and that, try and decide how you like it--when someone else is doing the moving. But today, it was all me and the children. We decided that we wanted to surprise Daddy, by having the house as decorated as possible today...

I'd go into more detail as to what decorating entailed, but let me just give you a short

1)unloaded and moved two 4x8 bookshelves fully loaded (most shelves double stacked). Those suckers are HEAVY. They were flanking an old weathered painted drop leaf table El Husbando had brought down from storage after we moved here (before we closed out that storage unit, thank goodness!). Now they are in the corner...I just wish we had more of them! We have SOOOO many books...
2)unloaded and moved the red corner entertainment center, from the family room, near the fireplace, to the one corner in the dining room, where it will--God willing I can get the boxes over here--begin a new life as a china cabinet tomorrow, when I unload and unpack my antique china into it. That involved removing the dead tv, satellite box, dvd/vcr, the entire cannibalized collection of board games that have been utterly demolished by certain young people who shall remain nameless, but go by the numbers 1-5.....and assorted pieces of the green pottery I have collected for close to 20 yrs now, that had been residing on top (they are now, too, in the new location. But I'm thinking I'll be moving more stuff around soon).
3)moved the red dresser from the corner of the dining room where the entertainment center/china cabinet now stands, and moved it into the dining room (into the place where that dropleaf table had been.
4) moved the dropleaf into the dining room under the large window (it is close to 7 feet wide).
5)washed my collection of apothecary jars and pillar vases in warm vinegar water, and had the dds unload the summer's decor of seashells (yes, I know, but I never found enough pine cones and nuts to replace them come fall)
6)put up the tree. Oh, I vacuumed before I did that. Got said tree completely decorated mere moments before DH pulled up.
7)poured some Epsom salts into the bottom of my now-dry jars, and filled them the rest of the way with leftover pretty ornaments. Some vintage, some not. Some I got at the thrift store a few weeks ago. The apothecary jars are flanking the Advent candleholder, on the dropleaf table in the dining room (all except the two smallest, which are now in the kitchen window).
8)Got out the whirligig thingee El Husbando and I bought 14 yrs ago, the first year we were married, when we were stationed in Germany. We've used it...once? I think? in all that time. But I set it up on the red dresser, in front of the antique mirror from my grandmother's farm, and next to my thrift store find marble table lamp (Needs a new shade, but I'm trying to decide on what color). I want to do a few other things on that dresser top, but I can't decide *what* precisely.
9)pulled out some small red, green, and gold mercury glass looking votives I bought and put away for such an occasion, and put them into the kitchen window.
10)went out the first shop, and looked for my luck. Since that is where I *thought* it was, I am somewhat perturbed. This was after dark, and since the other shop isn't electrified, well, I'm not going out there to dig in the dark. I suspect I know where it is, but tomorrow (during the day) I'm going to give the first shop another look, before I go on to the second. I did find my punchbowls and cups, though, so I know where those are and can dig them out pretty easily/quickly when needed...
11)made dinner. Nothing fancy, but it was hot, and it was fresh, and it was FOOD. :-) Homemade jalapeno-cheddar 'game' sausage, mac and cheese, buttered corn, egg noodles...I ate sausage. And more sausage. It was sooo good.
12)the usual day-to-day, laundry and more laundry and more laundry, dishes and more dishes, know what I mean...

And I am sore. Very very sore. I don't move furniture often...and now I remember *why*....

I'd post pictures, but the camera is in the other room, and I am T-I-R-E-D right now. I'm going to sleep well tonight. Tomorrow, I'm going to go locate my china and get it into the house so I can wash it and put it up, unpack a box in the first shop that has some of my other decorative items in it (that I've been looking for unsuccessfully for MONTHS!), pull a box of baby clothes out for a friend whose dd is expecting her first this spring (hi, S!), make some more garlands and get them up, and try and think of what remains of my decorative "stuff" that I can put to use here and there in the house, now that I have the room/space/NEED to "decorate" it more...

Finally, I will say, I have been vindicated. All those years I was buying and putting away Christmas decorations because I *knew* we would not always live in that house (1100 sq ft is fine when there are 2, or 3, or even 5. But combine 7 people, homeschooling, a military career, hobbies that require SPACE, and a packrat/cottage oriented/homemaking nutjob--that'd be me, by the way!--and you've got a recipe for some tiiiiigggghhhhht quarters!). We've got 3 times the space now (oh, thank you Lord Jesus!), and a gazillion times the acreage. The Lord is merciful! And now I get to use those decorations, pictures, and furniture that DH was always "discussing" in that "why on earth do you have *this*?" voice (again, you wives know what I mean...).

God willing, I'll get this family room painted after the first of the year. I'm not going to get it done NOW, that is for sure. I wish...but between time, energy, and money...well, it is just going to have to wait.

When do *you* decorate? We kind of decided by default. I pushed it as far as I could, but the day finally came when the family would wait no more. Fortunately, it is far into Advent...Gaudete Sunday...the rose candle, don't you know. A day of happiness, in the midst of a penitential season, as we pass the halfway mark...

Do you have any particular traditions this time of year? We have not really gotten many, mostly due to El Husbando's frequent deployments. The one we did have (going to visit Santa at the Square and then eating pizza at the local pizza shop there on said square with my mother, in my hometown--won't be happening any more, as we won't be within reasonable travel distance for our 'traditional' pre-Christmas family get-together. We will have to start some more, but I'm not sure *what*, and I am looking for ideas...

So please share--what do *you* do? When--and how--do you decorate your home? Do you decorate outside, or just inside (we are confining it to indoors, mostly because no one driving by will see any yard decorations, and to "do" the house, would be cost prohibitive--not to mention, a pain for me to put up and take down)? Tell me what the pre-Christmas time is like where you are...