December 22, 2007

More recipes

One thing I like about blogging is that my blog can serve as an online recipe box. This is really handy for me when I am away from home and want one of my recipes. I've added a couple this morning that are great for party food. This is my favorite type of food to prepare and these recipes are always requested anytime I serve these dishes. Both of these are adaptations of Pampered Chef recipes, so they are really quick and easy. Enjoy!

Shrimp Stuffed Mushrooms

Yield: 6 Servings

1# mushrooms, stems removed
8 oz. cooked salad shrimp
1/3 C grated parmesan cheese
1 lemon
2 t parsley flakes
1/2 C chive & onion cream cheese spread
1/2 t dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, pressed

For crumb topping:
4 t butter
1 clove garlic, pressed
1/4 C dry bread crumbs

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees F
  2. For shrimp filling, chop shrimp. Place in mixing bowl. Add 4 teaspoons lemon zest and parsley flakes. Mix together. Add parmesan cheese, cream cheese spread, mustard and garlic. Mix well.
  3. Stuff mushroom caps with shrimp filling.
  4. For crumb topping, place butter and garlic in microwave safe mixing bowl. Microwave on high 20-30 seconds until butter is completely melted. Stir in bread crumbs. If mixture is too wet, add more bread crumbs.
  5. Place mushrooms into a baking dish with the filling side up.
  6. Sprinkle with crumb topping.
  7. Bake 18-20 minutes or until topping is golden brown and filling is hot.
  8. Serve immediately.

Sweet & Saucy Meatballs

Yields 10 servings

40 meatballs (I use the frozen pre-made kind from the grocery)
1 8 oz. can jellied cranberry sauce
1/4 C ketchup
1/4 C orange marmalade
2 T packed brown sugar
1 T worcestershire sauce

  1. Prepare meatballs as directed on package.
  2. In medium sauce pan, combine last five ingredients. Heat until sugar is melted and all ingredients are mixed well.
  3. Add hot meatballs, stir.
  4. Simmer on stove for 5-10 minutes
  5. Serve hot

December 21, 2007

Fab Find

If you've read my 100 list, then you know how much I love santa decorations. So, it should come as no surprise that I fell instantly in love with this.

It is handmade from vintage fabric. How incredible is that?

I purchased this from a husband & wife team from Cincinnati at Christmas Village last month. I was amazed by all of the wonderful things she makes out of vintage fabrics. They don't have a website, but you can email them here if you would like to make a purchase.

December 20, 2007

103 years ago today... great-grandmother Olive gave birth to a baby girl who would one day become my fathers mother. She named her Ona... no middle name. After giving birth to 13 children, she had since run out of ideas for middle names, so Ona Mowrer it would be.

I have been blessed in my life to have had two wonderful grandmothers. Both smart, skillful and independent women. Today, I celebrate what would be Gramma Ona's 103rd birthday. She left this world 4 years ago in October and I think of her so often and miss her tremendously. I have very few regrets in my life, but one of them would definitely be that I didn't spend as much time with either of my gramma's during my early adulthood.

There are so many things I love about my grandmother.

She was a trailblazer and never even realized it. Unlike many young women of her day, she graduated from high school. She married a few years later and had three boys: Gerald, William and Lawrence (my father). During the height of The Great Depression she and her boys were abandoned by her husband. Being a single mother in those days was looked down upon, but she was committed to raising her boys. In an era where women did not work outside the home, she took a job as a seamstress in a shoe factory, where she worked until the factory shut down and she retired some 40 years later.

She was green before it was cool. She grew her own vegetables, baked her own breads, recycled everything! She was definitely a "waste-not, want-not" kind of lady.

She was a domestic diva long before Martha Stewart was even born. I swear she could cook, bake, grow and sew anything. I loved learning from her.

Some other fun facts:

  • She loved yoga.

  • She walked everywhere. She never owned a car or had a driver's license.

  • She cut her grass with a manual push mower (no gasoline powered mowers for her) until she was in her early 90's.

  • She put out a big garden every year and tended to it each day.

  • She loved to wear a little sun/bucket hat.

I think my fondest memories of her relate to my birthday and a special tradition she began. As a little girl, each year for my birthday, she would bake me a lamb cake. It is a homemade angel food cake baked into a lamb shaped pan. It's frosted with 7-minute icing and coconut flakes. I can recall so vividly getting that big box in the mail. Dad would put it on the table and carefully cut it open, causing all of the real popcorn to come flooding out onto the table. For the rest of my life, this will always be my favorite birthday cake. I am blessed to have her special pan and her hand-written recipe for that cake.

Happy Birthday Gramma! I love you and miss you!

Happy 39th Anniversary to Mom & Dad!

November 26, 2007

Back to Life

It's been an awesome weekend! I thoroughly enjoyed Thanksgiving... seems like forever ago, though. As soon as we finished up the feast, I had to get busy getting everything together to set up for the flea market.

We (mom and I) got the booth set up Thursday night, so we could just walk in Friday morning and get down to business. It was a fantastic weekend. We were so busy I couldn't believe it. I moved all of my equipment, so I was printing on-site and it was CRAZY. I had taken quite a few pre-printed things for cash and carry, but everyone seemed to want something special instead.
I couldn't believe how well I did... totally surpassed my expectations, which is awesome!

The only down side is that I am physically tired. I could use one day of rest, but I've gotta go in to work today. I have a big project that has to be finished up this week and it's going to take some pushing to make that happen. So, it's back to life I go.

How was your holiday weekend?

PS-Be sure to check out the website later this week for an inventory sale. Lots of cute stuff for Christmas gift wrapping. Last day to order for Christmas is December 7!!

November 21, 2007


I have always enjoyed Thanksgiving. Unlike most other holidays, this is one that is really not about material things. It is about being with special people and taking time to count your blessings.

The past year has been a struggle for us financially. I have become increasingly frustrated with this lately. I find myself being caught up in jealous thoughts about what others have... or more importantly what we don't. Frankly, it's been a lot of feeling sorry for myself.

Last weekend every local news station as well as the local paper ran articles about the shortage of food donations at the local rescue mission. This organization feeds, shelters and clothes a majority of the Nashville homeless population (many of whom are mentally ill). I was saddened to hear that for the first time since they opened their doors, that they would not be able to feed everyone on Thanksgiving Day. They were several hundred turkeys short of what they needed and were desperate for donations of food and/or money.

My first thought was that I really wished there was something I could do to help. I mean we don't seem to have a surplus of money these days. I just couldn't get the food shortage off my mind. Sunday it came to me. I CAN do something. I may not personally have the ability to donate, but there is another way. I can use my influence at my full-time job to make a donation.

Monday morning I went to the grocery, purchased four cases of fresh turkeys and headed down to the mission. When I arrived, there was a line of vehicles on both sides of the street waiting to pull into the donation center. My heart was full, knowing that so many others were there to make sure that even if it was only for the hot meal, that everyone would have something to be thankful for.

When it was my turn to pull in, I got out and three homeless men greeted me with big smiles and a warm hello. I said "I've got some turkeys for you," and we walked to the back of my car and the look on their faces when they saw those cases of turkeys was the best thanks I could have ever received. As I walked back to get in the car one man thanked me again and said "have a blessed Thanksgiving." At that moment, I knew I would.

As I drove away it occurred to me that I need to be more thankful for the blessings in my life. I may not have all the treasures in the world, but I have clean clothes, a warm home to come to at the end of the day and I never have to worry about when I will get my next meal. I am so blessed and as pitiful as I think my life may be sometimes, so many have it much worse. I hope that I never forget that or the joy I felt on Monday doing something as simple as delivering turkeys.
More Than A Day

As Thanksgiving Day rolls around,
It brings up some facts, quite profound.
We may think that we're poor,
Feel like bums, insecure,
But in truth, our riches astound.
We have friends and family we love;
We have guidance from heaven above.
We have so much more
Than they sell in a store,
We're wealthy, when push comes to shove.
So add up your blessings, I say;
Make Thanksgiving last more than a day.
Enjoy what you've got;
Realize it's a lot,
And you'll make all your cares go away.
By Karl Fuchs

A Blessed Thanksgiving to All!

November 19, 2007

Thanksgiving Feast

Like many of you, I'm gearing up for Thanksgiving. Once again we are hosting the festivities at our house this year. I love to entertain, so I don't look at this as a chore at all. I am really looking forward to every little detail. It is a treat for me to do the shopping, polish up my great-grandmother's silver, break out the china and give my fun kitchen gadgets a good work-out. Thursday can't get here soon enough for me.

The Menu
Oven Roasted Turkey
Sage Dressing
Mashed Potatoes & Gravy
Squash Casserole
Chilled Broccoli Salad
Apricot Casserole
Fresh Cranberry Relish
Yeast Rolls
Pumpkin Pie
Pecan Pie

What are your plans for the holiday?

Apricot Casserole

This is a great recipe that I got from my mother-in-law. It is an amazing dish that we always prepare for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Enjoy!

4 - 15 oz cans Apricot Halves, drained
1 - 2# bag light brown sugar, divided
1 box Ritz crackers (or any variety of buttery snack crackers) crushed & divided
1 stick butter (no margerine) cut into 1/4" pats

  1. Spray 9 x 13 x 2 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Arrange half of the apricots on the bottom of the dish.
  3. Cover apricots with half of the brown sugar.
  4. Cover brown sugar with half of the crackers
  5. Arrange half of the pats of butter on top of crushed crackers as evenly as possible.
  6. Repeat steps 1-5 for 2nd layer.
  7. Bake at 300 degrees for 1 hour.

November 09, 2007

Seeing the Light

I can hardly believe it has been almost three weeks since my last post. Where does the time go? The days have been hurried and hectic, but I am so thankful that it seems (knock on wood) that things are starting to even out a bit.

Riley is feeling great. Such a weight has been lifted by his recovery. I feel very blessed and thankful that everything went so well. His new vet is wonderful. The pathology report was very good. All the cancer is gone and most likely, we won't be faced with this again.

I had a so-so showing at the flea market a few weeks ago. I was in a shed last month... sales are always much better when I am inside. I have an inside booth reserved for November, so I am looking forward to that. I need to re-think my display and package more cash & carry merchandise.

I just returned Tuesday from five great days in Newport, RI. I was there for a women chefs conference. Such a great group of women! We had a fantastic time. The winery tour was amazing and just got me even more excited about planning my trip to Sonoma Valley.

Mom is coming into town tomorrow for the weekend. On the agenda: pedicures, Christmas Village, yummy dinner out and football. Can't wait!!

What are you doing this weekend?

October 20, 2007


He's home and recuperating. There will be lots of resting and relaxation for this sweet guy for several more days. Now, we just pray for a good pathology report!

October 19, 2007

Heavy Heart

Today, my heart is heavy and my mind is filled with worry. I've been feeling this way for several days now. It has been a very tough week. Filled with emotion, fear and many tears.

My Riley has cancer. This is the first time I have written those words. There is something profound about seeing it in print. I got the news on Monday and since then have been going through many scenarios in my mind.

Yesterday was the lowest of the lows so far. I completely fell apart on my way to work. I am not ready to say goodbye to him yet. I still need him so much and I want him to be happy and healthy again. I phoned the vet and she put me at ease, which I really needed.

He is undergoing surgery today. His doctor will be removing the growth from the left side of his face. She is optimistic that she will be able to get all of it so that no other treatment will be necessary. Oh how I hope that is the case.

Say a prayer today for Riley. He (and his momma) need all we can get.
UPDATE 3 p.m.
Riley has made it out of surgery and "is doing just fine". Will be heading out to pick him up and take him home in about an hour. Can't wait to see his sweet face!!
UPDATE 6 p.m.
We are home. I can't tell you what a sense of relief I feel to have him back here with me. He has had a tough day and is very groggy and somewhat disoriented from all the meds. Now he is resting in the cozy comfort of our bed... his favorite place to nap.

October 16, 2007

Greetings from the side of the earth!

I've not been around much lately and I'm sure some of you think I've fallen off the side of the earth. Not so, just lots going on these days.

The Nashville Flea Market is coming up Oct. 27-28, so I'm scrambling to try to get new displays made and ready. My product line has really grown in the past 12 months, so my old set up just won't work. As if that's not enough, I also signed up to do an open house thing on the 27th. It was originally scheduled for the 20th, but the host had to change the date. Luckily a friend of mine is going to work my booth there. The bummer is that now I have to put together two sets of sample displays in short order.

I've been popping in to check on several of you, but haven't done much commenting lately. When I'm pressed for time I would rather read than comment. Bear with me, I hope to be back in the swing soon.

I wanna send a shout out to sweet, sweet Carlo! You are always so great to check in and make sure everything is okay. Your thoughtfulness is much appreciated!

October 05, 2007

Isn't she lovely?

You can find her and some of her little friends right here. Go check it out!


I love comments on my blog and thought I'd never NOT like getting comments, but I've been getting some *spam* comments lately. So... I've switched to moderated comments, which means that it might take a little while for them to appear.

Keep talkin' to me! I love to hear what you have to say.

October 03, 2007

it's a good thing....

It's pink week over at Good Things - Stationery with Style. Go take a peek!
I've also made some changes to the color palette here on my blog. I'll keep this up until November... then who knows what will strike my fancy!

September 28, 2007

Yankee Candles

I dont' know about you, but I absolutely love Yankee Candles. They have the best candles with lots of great scents, too. I thought I would share a coupon I received that is good through this Sunday either in their stores or online. It is a buy 2 get one free deal. A great way to stock up on all the great new fall and holiday scents.

Have a great day!

September 26, 2007


We made it back safely from our weekend getaway. Had a great time and took tons of pics. Will post a suitable update soon... got to get all the pics uploaded first. Why does that have to take so long!

I'm almost completely over the sickness. I still have a cough, but other than that I am feeling better.

Between being sick, business travel and vacation, this is only my 6th day in the office all month. I am so far behind. Needless to say, my stress levels are through the roof, but I am trying my best to deal with that.

I haven't posted about the item of the week in a while, so thought it was about time to remind you to check out my website every Wednesday for a great new half-price special. The beautiful design below is only $5 for a set of 12 this week!

September 19, 2007

Weekend in New England

Thanks to all of you who have sent emails checking on me the past few days. I am alive. I am feeling better. Most importantly, though... I'm leaving for vacation in an hour!
We are hopping on the 4:15 flight into Providence and from there we will drive about two hours to Eastham, MA. I can't wait for a few days of fun and relaxation. This is my first visit to Cape Cod and I'm very excited. I love the beach, so I think this may be exactly what I need. We'll be back Sunday and hopefully I will have a lot of things to post about.
Have you been to the Cape?

September 14, 2007

running on empty

This, my friends, explains it all. I have not posted for 13 days. I can't believe it. I really hate "wo is me posts" and try, as much as possible to not do them myself, but I have got to have an outlet!

Life seems to be kicking my butt lately and it is taking quite a toll. All the stress, lack of sleep and running (not the excercise kind) has manifested itself into a nasty virus. I've been coughing horribly for three days. I went to Minute Clinic this morning to try to get some relief only to be sent away with a transfer of care form. My blood pressure was so high that they could not treat me. I have never had high blood pressure and it has never been a concern for my physician.

Since I couldn't get in to see a doctor, I went to an urgent care clinic for Vanderbilt hospital. Fortunately my BP had started to come down some, but was still quite high. They were unable to prescribe anything that would cure what ails me. So from there I was off to the pharmacy for some cough syrup and Advil PM. I just woke from a heavenly nap.

This whole experience has been a huge wake-up call. I've got to make some life changes. I need to learn to manage or eliminate stress as much as possible. I've got to rest even if it isn't convenient and I've got to live healthier even if it doesn't sound like fun.

September 01, 2007

happy birthday to me

Today it happened. I officially turned 34. So far the birthday celebrations have been great. Rich and I had a great night out last night with my parents who came into town earlier in the week for a last Titans pre-season game.

I've been blessed and surprised by some great birthday good mail. I will post pics and do a more thorough recap on Monday. Rich is taking me out for birthday breakfast, then I'll be meeting my BFF Lisa for a mani/pedi. We'll finish the day with a Vanderbilt University football game tonight. Busy day!

What are your plans for the holiday weekend?

August 29, 2007

New Look

Hopefully you've noticed the changes to the look of my blog. The basic white was getting on my nerves. I have developed a bit of an obsession with the pool/red/chocolate color combo, so I figured I would just incorporate that into my blog.

What's Up?

It's been a week since my last post... and for good reason. Things have been pretty hectic! I think it's important to document everything, but am ready to move on to fun stuff, so please bear with me and this bullet-point list.
  • My husband called me last Wednesday at 5 p.m. to tell me that his doctor had scheduled him for surgery to remove a kidney stone the following morning. I quickly cleared my calendar at work and headed home to get the full scoop.
  • We spent all day Thursday at the hospital for his outpatient surgery. He was groggy, goofy and in a lot of pain, so I stayed home with him on Friday.
  • I scored great deals for a new laptop, new printer and RAM upgrades. So now I'm blazing fast! I love it.
  • Have spent the last several days getting the new computer up and running. Thank heavens my old laptop (which isn't really that old) had a DVD burner, so that made file transfer a breeze.
  • Getting ready for alot of busy-ness over the next 3-4 days. My parents arrive in town tomorrow for the Titans game. They are staying over to celebrate my birthday on Friday night. Going for mani-pedi's with my BFF on Saturday... her treat for my birthday. Vanderbilt college football on Saturday... and a big group dinner on Sunday to celebrate my birthday.

What's going on in your world?

August 22, 2007


Seems I can't get enough of this card swap stuff. I just completed my second swap. This was arranged by a local scrapbook store. I had to make 26 cards, so I doubt that I participate in theirs anymore. That is just too many cards.

I'm not nearly as jazzed about this design as my last one. The theme was 'get well'. I had lots of ideas, but they all ended up being very elaborate and considering how many I had to make, I scaled things back and went very basic.

For those of you interested in the details...
Cardstock: Starch White by French Paper (card), Positively Pink and Tempting Turquoise (Stampin' Up!), Cougar White
Stamp Pads: Basic Black and Positively Pink
Markers: Pretty in Pink, Positively Pink and Tempting Turquoise
Stamp Sets Used: Little Hellos and Polka Dots & Paisleys
Ribbon: 7/8" grosgrain from Ribbon Factory

Next up: Birthday Card swap. Only six of these to make, so I may get a little crazy!

**Have you done anything crafty lately?**

August 20, 2007

Crop Til You Drop 2008

I love this event. It is so much fun to plan and even more fun to experience. I'm half-way sold out for my 2008 Winter Retreat. It is just over five months away, and spaces have been selling like hotcakes. Last year I didn't sell out, but I don't think that is going to be the case this time around. I'm getting started early and most of the planning is done since it's basically a carbon-copy of last year.

Have you gotten this far and can't figure out what I'm talking about? So sorry! Let me explain... I plan and host a weekend crop/crafters retreat each year. About 40 crafty ladies gather at a state park just south of Nashville for the first weekend in February. We get the fire roaring in the lodge and crop. til. we. drop. It is loads of fun and I can't wait.

If any of you are interested in joining in the fun, you can get more details and register online here.

Did you know...

... that if you change your email address for your blogger account, comments left on your blog don't automatically follow? It's true! I was on my blog earlier linking to my fave blogs when I saw that I had seven comments on my last post. Huh? I never got an email about them!

So, if you change your email addy, be sure to go into Settings in your Dashboard, click on Comments and update that email address as well. Thanks for all the sweet comments on that post you guys. I feel like a total dummy for not knowing they were there until today.

August 12, 2007

Trick or Treat, Smell my Feet - Part 1

So I signed up for my first ever card swap. I thought this might be a fun way to put to use all of those stamp sets and supplies that have just been sitting around. I love to make cards, but aside from my stationery, I hardly ever take the time to do it. The swap I signed up for was for Halloween cards and this is the design I settled on. Turns out, I only have two stamps that are Halloween related.

Here is the design I came up with, and I love how it turned out. It uses printing, stamping and watercolors for the graphics. I love this color combo for Halloween. Below is my stack of completed cards. I will pop these in the mail in the morning. Next month, I will get a pack of with five cards, each made by a different person.

** Have you ever participated in a card swap?**

August 08, 2007

Welcome to the blogosphere

I would like to give a big welcome to my friend and sorority sister, Shannon. She has just started her own blog. She kicked things off with two very important announcements. Ya'll drop by, say hello and make her feel at home.

inspiration: it's a good thing

One of the things I love most about the internet is what seems to be the endless sources of creative inspiration. I have been piddling around on splitcoaststampers the past few days looking for ideas and inspiration for my Christmas cards, when I stumbled upon a blog address that has me completely pumped and ready to create!

Image property of

This is just one example of the incredible things she has on her site. I love her cards, too. It's killing me to have to sit here at work when all I wanna do is make some cards.

Speaking of... I just signed up for something new today. It's a card swap. I've never done this before and I'm actually pretty excited about it. I will make x number of the same card and send it in, and will get back a card from each of the other participants. I am hoping that this will be a great way for me to build up my supply of cards. I'll post my version when I finish, so stay tuned.

August 07, 2007

Happy Birthday

Today is my niece, Danee's 10th birthday. So in honor or her special day, I wanted to share ten things that I love about her.
  1. She loves to learn and try new things.
  2. She is so very quiet and sweet.
  3. She has a terrific sense of humor for someone of her age.
  4. She enjoys reading and reads well beyond her grade level.
  5. Shares my love for paper and crafts.
  6. She is a low maintenance kid.
  7. She loves being a part of our family.
  8. She is perfectly happy to hang out with me.
  9. Her skin is flawless.
  10. She gives great hugs.

Coming Undone

For those who follow my blog, you know that I have been working on this afghan for my neice's 10th birthday for quite some time. Well, today is her birthday and I am very disappointed to report that it looks like I'll have to start over on this little project.

I was doing the last bit of finishing work last night and found that several of the pieces were coming undone. Apparently I am not tying it off well enough. This yarn is very soft and slippery, so that may be part of the problem.

As you can imagine I was completely disgusted by this last night. What a let down. Oh well, like I told my husband, it's just time and money and I have plenty of both. Oh how I wish that were true.

July 30, 2007

There's No Place Like Home

After ten days on the road, it sure is good to be home. My travels have taken me to Orlando, Florida and Columbus, Ohio. I am very tired, but so happy to be back. I'm off to work this morning. I'll try to post about my adventures later this week.

July 18, 2007

Vacation Sale

Orders placed from July 18 - 31 will not begin shipping until August 1, 2007.
We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.
During this time you will be able to place orders and email us with questions.
We will respond to all inquiries within 24 hours.

Start shopping now....

Shopping Cart Updates:

The shopping cart has now been updated to allow for coupon and voucher codes. This allows me to offer % off specials and gift certificates (coming soon)! In addition, you can now pay by major credit card directly on the site, or you can continue to utilize Paypal, whichever you prefer!

Have a wonderful day!


July 14, 2007

Precious Moments

Last night, Rich and I went to the ball park, where my BFF Lisa was going to get the surprise of her lifetime. Her boyfriend, Jon had invited all of their family and friends to join them for what she thought, was a fun night at the game. But, actually, he wanted her to be surrounded by those who love her most, as he asked her a very important question.

I captured the entire event on camera. It was fantastic! They were invited up to play "Name That Tune" at the end of the 4th inning. The song in the video below is the song from the 'game'. It was a great night and I can't express how exciting it was to be there and see this happen.

July 06, 2007

Advice for DVD Slideshows

Anyone have any experience with this product?

It is Ulead CD/DVD PictureShow 4

A few years ago I put together a DVD slideshow, but used a different software. I want to create another slideshow again and was thinking about purchasing this software. It looks easy to use and is very affordable (only $30). Before I made a purchase I thought I would see if anyone has any opinions about this. Please email me or leave a comment if you have anything to share.

July 05, 2007

good things - item of the week - July 4-10

item of the week

Preppy Stripe Address Labels

Add some style to your mail with our Preppy Stripe Address Labels.

This week, each set of 90 is only $3.75. Use our color palette to create
your perfect color combination!

Sales runs through July 10, 2007 - Shop now

June 28, 2007

good things | item of the week | june 26 - july 3

Hey guys! I've been in Dallas for five days, so I'm a little late in getting info posted about this week's item. Click here to check out the great savings on mix & match notes!

June 18, 2007

Learning to Swim

For the past month, we have been fortunate to spend our Sundays swimming and picnicing with Rich's family. I have always loved hanging out at the pool, but as I've gotten older, it has become more difficult to make time for this indulgence. I am so glad to now have a weekly 'appointment'.

My neice, Josie, is such a joy. She really is such a sweet and pleasant child. It is a rare occasion when she is in bad spirits, so spending time with her is always a good time. She is one month away from her first birthday, and she is getting bigger and stronger everyday. For the past several weeks, she as been perfectly content to float around the pool in her little froggie float. But this week, she wanted to be in the pool with the rest of us. I caught her as she was trying to climb out of the frog.

I happened to have a pair of water wings that I had used a couple years ago when my nephew came for a visit. So we put them on her and it wasn't long before she had figured things out. As soon as she learns to keep her mouth closed, she'll be a pro! Here is one of my favorite photos of the day. She was really having a great time swimming over to me. And I love how you can see her mom cheering her on in the background.

June 14, 2007

Flag Day 2007

O say, can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight
O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave

On the shore, dimly seen thro’ the mist of the deep,
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected, now shines on the stream
’Tis the star-spangled banner. Oh! long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion
A home and a country should leave us no more
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation,
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the Heav’n-rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our Trust"
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
-Francis Scott Key

June 13, 2007

good things - item of the week - june 13-19

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June 12, 2007

SPT - As American as Apple Pie

This week, Lelly challenged us to look to our surroundings to find bits of Americana. Over the weekend, I took a fun little get-away to the birthplace of Rock-n-Roll. It doesn't get much more American than that!

Graceland Mansion

I have not spent much time in Memphis. I think I've been there 3-4 times throughout my life. It is honestly never high up on my list of places to visit. I have been wanting to go to Graceland for several years, but just never made it there... until now.

A few years ago, a photo from my childhood reminded me of my love of Elvis. As soon as I saw that photo, I was remembering the hours and hours I spent in my room listening to my Elvis records on my little record player. I would jump and dance around on my bed getting lost in the music.

My visit started by waiting in line for tickets. I was by myself, while Rich was playing in a golf tournament. As I was waiting, they made an announcement that there would be a 90 minute delay from the time you purchased tickets until you could take the shuttle across the street to the mansion. For a split second, I thought about leaving... I didn't want to spend my entire afternoon there, but I stayed and I am so glad I did. I purchased the Platinum Pass and convinced the person at the ticket counter to honor my $3 off coupon even though I had left it in the car.

My ticket gave me access to some other exhibits that I am really glad I got to see. First, I went to see the airplanes. The Lisa Marie was the larger plane and what he used to travel on tour. I walked through the plane. (Flash photography is not allowed in any of the exhibits on the property, so I have a lot of blurry photos). Lots of cool stuff in there... 24K gold plated seat belt buckles, one room with blue faux suede bedding.

From there it was off to the car museum. This was a really nice exhibit... definitely a walk down memory lane. I found two vehicles that instantly reminded me of Kristi C. I wonder which one she would choose? A little trivia about the Pink Cadillac... Of all of his car's that was the one his Mother loved best, so he never sold it.

1960's Willy's Surrey Jeep
Elvis purchased this Jeep on July 12, 1960. It was used
by they gate guards to drive around the property.

1955 Cadillac Fleetwood
One of the few cars Elvis kept from his rise to stardom.
He often referred to it as Gladys' car (his mother)
because it was her favorite.

The last exhibit to see had many of his be-dazzled stage costumes on display. My first reaction upon seeing them was my surprise at how thin he must have been. I have since read that even at his heaviest, he was around 250 pounds... which sadly, isn't much these days. Each of these were hand-made and the beadwork was really incredible. I couldn't believe how many different costumes there were - and they knew when they were worn and for what concerts. I wonder who was responsible for keeping up with that?

Surprisingly, it was time to head to the Mansion. It sits directly across the street from the rest of the property. They load about 20 people up on a small bus and away you go through the famous gates. From the other side of the street, the brick entrance looks like it had been painted and then sand-blasted, but as we drove through the gates, I could see that they had actually been written on with paint pens. Fans had written messages on the bricks. I wish now that I had walked down to the gates to get a photo.

I got off the shuttle, put on my little audio headset, and headed up the steps and through the front door, which is where I saw this photo hanging to the left just as you entered the home.

Seeing this brought things full-circle for me. Seeing the photo of Lisa Marie, hanging there - in the same place that her Father last saw it made everything real. This was about a real home, and a real man whose life came to a quick and early end nearly 30 years ago.

The second floor of the home, which has remained the same since he died, is not open to the public. I learned that Elvis did not allow guests onto the 2nd floor. He would entertain them anywhere else in the house, but the 2nd floor was his private area and they have kept it that way all these years since his death.

For the remainder of the tour, I tried to really take it all in. From the green carpet ceilings in the jungle room, to the mirrored ceilings in the TV room, to the walls lined with Gold Records, I was reminded one thing for sure. Elvis definitely had an interesting sense of style.

Yes, this really is the ceiling.
Can you believe that I picked this same color for my bedroom
when I was four? I blame it on the 70's.

Not wanting to be outdone by President Nixon, Elvis had
three televisions on in the TV room at all times... so he could
watch all three channels at once. My how times have changed!

Just a small glimpse of a few of the gold records that hang in the "Hall of Gold"

My favorite part of the tour was seeing this piano. On the morning of his last day in this life, Elvis sat at this piano and played and sang. Seeing this as I was hearing him sing How Great Thou Art was a powerful experience.

Final part of the tour is a walk through what Elvis called Meditation Garden. This is where Elvis is buried alongside his parents and other family members. Fans from around the world continue to bring and send flowers. What an incredible impact this one man had on our World!

If you are ever planning a trip to Memphis, and want to visit Graceland, here are some suggestions.

  • Look online to see if the Visitor's Bureau has any coupons.
  • Parking is $6 and they only take cash (I had to leave and go find an ATM)
  • Make reservations at the ticket counter - you bypass the long lines.
  • Definitely do the larger tour - otherwise you are stuck killing time in the half-dozen gift shops.
  • Prepare to spend at least three hours. You can take as long as you like on the tours.

See the rest of the pics here.

June 10, 2007

Beer Bread

1 (12 fluid ounce) can or bottle beer (can use any carbonated beverage)
3 cups self-rising flour
3 tablespoons white sugar

1. In a large bowl, mix together the sugar and flour. Add beer and continue to mix, first using a wooden spoon, then your hands. Batter will be sticky. Pour into a 9 x 5 inch greased loaf pan.
2. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees ) for 50 for 60 minutes. The top will be crunchy, and the insides will be soft. Serve topped with butter or cheese spread.

Corn Pudding

5 eggs
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup milk
4 tablespoons cornstarch
1 (15.25 ounce) can whole kernel corn
2 (14.75 ounce) cans cream-style corn

1. Preheat oven to 400 Degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease a 2 quart casserole dish.
2. In a large bowl, lightly beat eggs. Add melted butter, sugar, and milk. Whisk in cornstarch. Stir in corn and creamed corn. Blend well. Pour mixture into prepared casserole dish.
3. Bake for 1 hour.

Fruit Tea

2 family size tea bags
½ C sugar
1 can frozen orange juice
1 can frozen lemonade
1 can 12-14 oz. Apricot nectar (or pineapple juice)

Bring 4 cups water to bowl, add tea bags and steep for 10 minutes. Remove tea bags. Add sugar, stirring to dissolve. Pour sweetened tea mixture into one gallon pitcher. Add orange juice and lemonade mix, stir until well blended. Add apricot nectar, stir. Fill pitcher with water to measure one gallon. Mix well. Serve chilled or over ice.

Blue Cheese Ball

4 ounce crumbled blue cheese
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese...don't soften much
½ cup apricot, peach or pear preserves (I use peach)
1 tbsp onion powder
1 cup sliced almonds

Combine first four ingredients using stand mixer with paddle attachment until smooth and well blended. Drop onto large piece of plastic wrap to form ball. Put almonds in separate bowl. Unwrap plastic from ball and roll it in the almonds to cover. Wrap in plastic, chill for 1-2 hours before serving. Serve with a variety of crackers.

Hearty Chili

2 pounds lean ground beef
2 cans Del Monte chili style diced tomatoes
2 cans chili beans
2 packs chili seasoning (hot or mild)
1 medium onion chopped
1 bottle beer (may substitute with 1½ C water)
½ C chopped cilantro
1 finely chopped jalapeño pepper (optional)

Stove Top Instructions
Brown ground beef and chopped onions in large pot. Drain grease. Add beans and tomatoes, stir. Add chili seasoning and beer, mix well. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Add cilantro and jalapeños. Continue to simmer for at least two hours before serving.

Serve with sour cream and shredded cheese.

Crock Pot Instructions
Brown ground beef and chopped onions in large pot. Drain grease. Transfer meat and onions to crock pot. Add beans and tomatoes, stir. Add chili seasoning and beer, mix well. Add cilantro and jalapeños. Set crock pot to medium heat and allow to cook for at least 4 hours.

Santa Fe Soup

2 lbs Ground Beef
1 lg Chopped Onion
2 pkg Ranch Dressing Mix (dry)
2 pkg Taco Seasoning Mix
1 can Black Beans
1 can Kidney Beans
1 can Pinto Beans
1 can Rotel
1 can Diced Tomatoes
2 cans White Corn
2 cups Water

Cook meat and onion until meat is browned. Drain off grease. Put in soup kettle and add seasoning mixes. Add remaining ingredients (including juices). Stir well. Simmer for two hours. If your mixture is too thick, you can add more water to desired taste & consistency.

Sparkling Lemonade

1 can frozen lemonade
2 Two-litre bottles Ginger Ale

Combine lemonade and ginger ale in large punch bowl. Stir until well-blended. Toss in ice cubes and sliced lemons if desired.

Strawberry Vinaigrette Salad Dressing

½ cup sugar
½ cup finely chopped onion
½ cup red wine vinegar
1 tsp salt
½ tsp dry mustard
1 cup canola oil
2 Tbsp strawberry jam (May substitute raspberry, blackberry or blueberry jam.)

Combine sugar and onion. Mix Well.
Add dry mustard and salt to sugar & onion mixture. Mix Well. Allow to sit for a few minutes to allow onions to start to break down.
Add red wine vinegar. Mix well.
Using a food processor (or blender) puree mixture for one minute.
Add strawberry jam. Puree for two minutes.
Keep pureeing while slowly pouring in canola oil until the dressing has emulsified (oil & vinegar no longer separate). This should take 2-3 minutes.
Keep in refrigerator in air tight container. Mix well before serving.

Chilled Broccoli Salad

1/2 C Red Onion (finely chopped)
1/2 C Celery (finely chopped)
1/2 C Raisins
1/2 C Pecans (chopped)
1 C Mayonnaise
1/4 C Sugar
3 T Red Wine Vinegar
8 slices bacon, crisp-fried and crumbled
Florets and tender stem portions of 1 bunch broccoli, chopped

Combine the bacon with the broccoli, onion celery, raisings and nuts in a large bowl and mix well. In small bowl, mix mayonnaise, sugar and vinegar, pour over broccoli mixture and mix well. Chill covered for one hour or longer before serving.

Serves 6-8

Note: I typically make this the day before so the broccoli becomes a little more tender and the flavors mix together.

June 07, 2007

Walking in Memphis - The Preview

Rich and I are heading out Friday morning to spend the weekend in Memphis. This weekend the PGA is there for the St. Jude Classic. My company sponsors the tournment, so I am going to represent the company while Rich plays in the Pro-Am. This is the first semi-vacation we have had in well over a year.

I have a list of places to see while Rich is out playing golf on Saturday. This is perfect timing for this week's SPT Challenge. What could be more American than Elvis Presley? Hope to have many pics to share. Have a great weekend!

June 06, 2007

good-things * item of the week * june 6-12

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