Monday, November 29, 2010

An "Out of the Box" Thanksgiving

Happy Monday morning - and the beginning of that five week "fast" until Christmas! Well, maybe not. But I do hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and gained, at least, a pound to show for all the effort that went into those meals!

We did something totally different this year - and it worked! I had struggled and struggled with trying to create new traditions...or, at least, trying to do things a bit differently. Without Tyler here - and Jordan not even being able to come home - things are NOT the same and we needed a change. But I had a hard time giving myself permission to "not follow the rules." We didn't even have turkey, folks! But, I must admit, it was a great day.

Reflecting back, we all agreed it was a really good Thanksgiving. Hubbie does not like turkey. Never has. (That's a bummer because I love turkey and we could have it a lot more than once a year....) My daughter is a vegetarian and so, you can begin to see how the traditional turkey feast really was not what everyone was wanting.

But we do love breakfast. And breakfast carbs:) So we started our day with brunch...and homemade belgian waffles!

Not just any belgian waffles I have to say.....these were topped with vanilla bean Hagen Daas ice cream, hot apples, just a drip of syrup and whipped cream! If you're thinking ice cream on waffles (like I did at first), then you haven't tried it! It was devine. Thanks to Kristine for the suggestion - AND for the waffle iron. (so have to get one of those!)

With our bellies full....we all sorta felt like this!! (and, yes, her head is burning hot but she is in bliss - what a goof!!)
Once we all aroused from carb-induced stupor, we headed to the mountains for hiking. All week long, those nay-sayer weathermen had threatened showers for Thanksgiving, but they were wrong. It was a perfect day for hiking. We used to hike alot when the kids were small but it has been awhile and, truly, we all had forgotten how much we enjoyed it.
Don't get me wrong....we are not hard-core climbers by any means. Much more wanderers in the woods - but we love it. And so do the pups - even the little one:)
Obviously, posing with the little guy is alot easier than trying to coax the big one to "Come here. Sit. Stay. Smile."

The views and landscapes were beautiful. Probably can't appreciate that with my photos but take my word for it.

You could see for miles down into the valley.......................

Yes, the pups are little spoiled!

The best part was simply being together. I love you guys.

Monday, November 22, 2010

My Wishes to You....

Dear sweet friends..and those few random family members who read, too....:)

I hope each of you have a beautiful week with your own families and friends. These holidays are as unique and individual as each of us but, however, you spend your Thanksgiving, I pray that it is a blessing to you. As well, I pray that we will each make the time to truly reflect on all God's goodness to us - and to purposefully thank Him.

I pray that those who will have very special loved ones missing around the dinner table this Thursday that your heart will be encouraged and that God will give you extra grace. Those empty seats can be painful...but God's grace is sufficient even on these days.

And for those serving our country and protecting our freedoms, I pray each of you know that we at home are grateful - and we thank you - and hope that your Thanksgiving will be blessed as well.

Bloggy friends - take lots of great pictures! - and I will look forward to hearing all about your Thanksgiving fun, blessings and blunders:) next week! Each one of you are a special blessing to me.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Thanksgiving Pasts

Friday's Favorite Five.....

and, this week, five of my favorite Thanksgiving memories -

1 - Road trips to Aunt Daisy and Uncle Rob's house each year as a little girl. They lived in Charlotte, just like all of my mom's family did, and each Thanksgiving we would pack up and head south. The cookin' was a southern as their accents....and I loved 'em both! Aunt Daisy's house was not very big but we could pack it full of family. The best part was having a "kids' table" which was in a totally separate room from the adults. We were cool for sure. And, usually, Uncle Rob sat with the kids because he was totally cool.

2 - Aunt Wilma's Feather Biscuits. Truly, there are no descriptive words adequte enough.

3 - Thanksgiving 1989. One of the very rare Thanksgivings that we did not spend with my parents. It was just Hubbie, me and sweet little Em (she was just one). We had planned to visit some seniors in the nursing home...just walking around, visiting. What we didn't plan on was SNOW that year. For Thanksgiving! We bundled Miss Em in her little pink snowsuit and headed out. She was adorable and the hit of the day at the nursing home. And the snow was perfect.

4 - Lunch at the Marriott. For several years, before Tyler died, we always went out to dinner for Thanksgiving. We went to the Marriott and it was grand. We always had a group and everyone would dress in their holiday finery and the whole experience was wonderful. The grand piano in the atrium. The enormous and seemingly endless buffett of fantastic food. The hours gathered around the table with family and friends. Even the obligatory family photo...complimentary in the lobby.

5. I tried to find a couple of those family photos - but no luck on short notice. Then, I was hunting for the adorable ones of Emily in that pink snow suit. Of course, no luck. However, I did come across this (rare) family shot of my parents, my brother and me. There really are not too many of these type shots - taken once we were adults. So, although it has nothing to do with is my fifth favorite five.

This was taken October 1989 (a month before the snowy Thanksgiving) and again in Charlotte:) I am pregnant with my Jordan. And my brother, mom and dad look perfect. I want this snapshot "stuck" in my memory!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

God, Mold Me

Its Thankful Thursday! Not a usual thankful post for me as I am keeping a running list on my sidebar this month. I know several who are keeping up with this "challenge" for the month of November....aren't you enjoying it? It really is good to purposefully list out our blessings each day. I'll admit some days the devil really wants me to think I'm having a "no blessing today" type of day - but he is wrong! God is always good.

Now I'm just wondering if it would too silly to list "peppermint chocolate chip milkshakes" as a blessing:) Seems several of you have already discovered this yumminess. If you haven't...what are you waiting for??

I did have a thought today. Recently I viewed a video from Florence Littauer - quite the humorous lady! - about her "silver boxes" or encouraging words. I have actually read the book and when the video began, I was somewhat disappointed thinking that I had already heard this. Oh my...there was so much more. She shared much of "her story" and some of the paths and journeys that God has taken her through - especially as a mother. I won't give it away here (but it is well worth reading) but there have, indeed, been some very difficult trials and valleys for this lady. I do not remember any of this from reading the book - but, my, what a new perspective and respect you have for a speaker after you hear their story.

And I have begun to notice something. Speaker, writers and other "well-known" Christians that I enjoy and admire - and I think are really leaving an impact and influence on others - all seem to have some very difficult days and years in their testimonies. Do I think that you have to have suffered deeply or endured tragedy in order to be used by God? No. But I am coming to believe that very often it is in those deep valleys that God can most effectively mold us and grow us into more - even the most - effective servants for Him.

Looking back over the most difficult times in my life...and in preparation for those times that may lie ahead, perhaps I need to be asking "why me?" or "why this?" alot less and crying out, "God, use even this" much more.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Lucky Me

So, what is the only thing better than going to lunch at Chick-Fil-A with your sweetie??

Going to Chick-Fil-A with your sweetie...and they are giving out samples of their holiday Peppermint Chocolate Chip milkshakes!! And I'm talkin' a junior size cup as a sample!!

It was devine. Lunch with Hubbie - AND the milkshake!!:)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Stand Firm

Tuesday morning and that means Bible study! Always a great way to start the week..or, at least, keep Monday's momentum going:) Just wanted to share a quote I read a few days ago that has been with me ever since. It is from Charles Stanley's In Touch magazine - a monthly devotional that has been a tremedous blessing to me.

With regard to the daily spiritual battle that each of us who claim to be Christians is involved in, Dr. Stanley writes, "Victory demands more than floating through each day." Oh my. Each morning I must purpose to fight my flesh and stand firm against the devil and all that he hopes to use in order to defeat me. And then throughout the day, I have to walk close with my savior in order to be victorious.

Every day is a new day. And a new battle. But God's mercies are new every morning as well and victory can be mine. Stay in the fight, my friends.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Planning for the Ladies' Trip

Outside my window...yet another beautiful day!! Really this fall has been gorgeous. I think I am getting lulled into thinking this could actually last. Yeah right. I sure would be thrilled if the nasty weather could hold off for at least another three weeks - the first weekend in December is our annual Ladies Day Out Christmas Shopping Trip. Last year, we returned home to our cars covered in inches of snow - picturesque maybe but not alot of fun while cleaning off parking spots and de-icing cars in order to get home. I'm praying for nice weather this year:)

I am thinking...about the final preparations that need to be made for the day trip. I really enjoy this part of the planning - just so I don't overlook anything!

I am thankful for....a fun day with a girlfriend on Friday. We went to check out restaurants for the shopping trip. Oh, the sacrifices I make:)

I am wearing....RED! I am enthusiastic about that because it is not black and white. I have to wear any combination of black and white to work and lately I'm feeling that is all I wear. Even all those white shirts are beginning to get old:) Gasp.

I am remembering...some silly memories of Tyler. Sometimes I don't know where these memories come from - but we were out to dinner the other night. Nothing fancy or super special. We were at TGIFs and Hubbie and I both remembered (almost at the same time) how much Ty used to love the ribs there. That boy just loved ribs (which, by the way, he totally did NOT get from his mother...gross!). Then we (enjoyed) remembering a vacation to Charleston and Tyler wanting to order a full rack of ribs. We tried to talk him out of it - he was just a skinny little guy...but, apparently, with a hollow leg. He ordered them and ate the entire plate. Again - gross. But he LOVED it!! Not only the ribs but the fact that he could eat with the big dogs:) Its a guy thing, I guess.

I am Costco - woo hoo. I don't have a membership to any of the warehouse stores. I did at one time but emptying out the nest totally changes your need to buy in bulk. Today I am shopping for the ladies' trip. Totally fun.

I am lists and ideas. Its that time.

I am put a serious dent in my Christmas shopping this week.

On my mind...several senior ladies at church who are seriously ill and/or hurting. They need much prayer - and comforting from the Holy Spirit. One had a fall and has several broken bones. Another has a serious mass in her abdomen that cannot be treated. She is 95 and quite ready to move on to Heaven but she is in a lot of pain and, of course, her family is hurting.

From the kitchen...nothing exciting. Poor Hubbie.

Around the house....I put out some Thanksgiving things. They look cute - all the little pilgrims:)

Plans for the week....Christmas shopping, I suppose, if I want to make that dent in my list!

One of my favorite things....a Hoops and YoYo card that I bought a friend for Thanksgiving. She is a huge Hoops and YoYo fan. I, on the other hand, can only take small doses but this card is a HOOT! One line..."we're so thankful that....we're all getting fat!" (Ok, so its funnier if you hear them singing it!) :)

Friday, November 12, 2010

To Sweeten Your Weekend

I hope everyone had a great Veteran's Day.....maybe enjoyed some time with hubbies or others that might have been off from school or work:) I actually worked but Hubbie was off and was able to not only get the van serviced (boring and glad I didn't have to do that chore!) but also to spend some time with a friend - something he rarely can do. So, it was all good:)

I did do a little baking when I got home last night...and, I have to admit the pan is already half empty this morning (and no it was not all me!!) These bars are a keeper - and they are made with Splenda...woo hoo!! Make some this weekend - and have a sweet one!!

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bars (see they even sound yummy!)

1 3/4 cups flour
1/4 chup Splenda brown sugar blend
1/2 cup Splenda sugar blend, divided
1 cup old-fashioned oats
3/4 cup light margarine (totally used butter)
8 ounce block fat free cream cheese
3 eggs
15 ounce can pumpkin
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 cup chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350. Line 13X9 pan with foil and spray with PAM.
2. Combine flour, brown sugar, half of the white sugar blend, and oats. (Can also include 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans here but I did not have any and it was fine either way.) Cut in butter with a fork until mixture is crumbly.
3. Press all but one cup of crust mixture into prepared pan.
4. Bake 15 minutes. Allow to cool.
5. Beat cream cheese, eggs, remaining white sugar blend, pumpkin and spice until well blended.
6. Pour cream cheese/pumpkin mixture over the pre-baked crust and sprinkle with the remaining one cup of crust mixture and the chocolate chips.
7. Bake for 25 minutes or until set. Cool and lift from pan with foil to cut into bars.

I enjoyed mine with a nice serving of whipped cream. Naturally:)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thank You to the American Soldier

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Boys

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday. I'm going with "almost" because I can never seem to share a picture without saying at least something! Ha. Anyway, this is a recent photo of my nephews...who not only are getting way too big but also recently moved to California. One of the cool things about moving is taking weekend trips to really cool places.

Like San Francisco!!

Apparently when you turn eight, it is no longer cool to smile when being photographed. Just ask a ten year old, and you will get the scoop. :)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Enough Already

Tuesday, again. And off to Bible study which is always a great way to start the week....ok, one day short but you get the idea. Its been a whole week since election day. I was thinking about last week's elections.....and, then, how the craziness has already started. Newly elected representatives all declaring they know exactly what "the people" want; but the only ideas I ever really hear these polictians support are very vague thoughts that are basically "anything opposite of what he supports"!

Around our town, there has often been a favorite saying among our avid football fans. "I cheer for the Redskins and any team playing Dallas!" I don't really know why we cling to this tradition of rivalry with the Cowboys and I don't suppose any of those die-hard fans do either but it is what it is. And that type of cheering is fun - and funny! - with football, but the leaders of our country have to have more of an agenda than simply "against whatever the other party stands for." The constant finger pointing, name calling and incessant effort to only undue what has been done (without a solution to replace it) is not fun, funny or even effective.

And that is my soapbox for today:) Let's be diligent to pray for our leaders...the newly elected ones and all the others in office as well. One side note - one candidate here locally that I was so hoping to see get elected...lost. By five hundred votes. Hundreds of thousands of votes and he loses by five hundred. That is like training for months to run the Marine Corps Marathon, running your heart out...and losing by 22 seconds. Ugh. That hurts.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Heavenly Sunlight

My Simple Woman's Daybook: November 8, 2010

Outside my is sunny, and clear and cool. It is supposed to warm up nicely today - the makings of a perfect fall day.

I am much I enjoy all the windows in this new house. Our previous house was an "inside unit" townhouse and although we never thought it seemed dark or lacking in sunlight - little did we know how glorious morning sunlight pouring in from all sides really was!! Just one more reason to LOVE the morning!

I am thankful for....the sweet friends I have made while blogging. I was so touched by sweet comments, and even email, from many friends last week when I was MIA:) and unable to find time to blog. Most of you I have never met in person, and probably never least not this side of eternity:)....but you are friends, nonetheless - encouragers along the way!! I am blessed to have "met" all of you.

I am snugging feels so good in the mornings (especially these cool ones)!

I am remembering....Thanksgivings from years past. So many great memories....both as a little girl and then the years when my own children were the little ones! How quickly time goes by. I pray that Erica is finding wonderful ways to begin traditions with Miss Riley.

I am get my haircut tomorrow - and not a minute too soon! And hopefully Mr. Rascal will get one as well (just not at the same salon)!!

I am reading....Life:Beautiful magazine. I really do enjoy this magazine.

I am create new traditions for the upcoming holidays. Not as easy as it seems it should be - any hints???

On my mind....several very serious, and rather urgent, prayer requests. My heart is so heavy - but I am remembering what a "big" God we serve.

From the kitchen....we have made banana bread and pumpkin spice cookies lately and will be making pumkin bread today. And I wonder what's up with my diet??

Around the house....dust. Again. And we are tackling the windows this week - let that sunshine really shine in!! And then I might break into song..."Heavenly Sunlight..Heavenly Sunlight. Flooding my soul with glory divine." (pretend I didn't just squeak out that high note there!)

Plans for the week....could it actually be a quiet week?? That would be nice:) Maybe - just maybe! - I can get some more of the cruise pictures posted!

One of my favorite calls with Jordan!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Thanks for Checking on Me.....

Better late than never..I guess. It has been almost an entire week since I last posted and I thought I'd simply wait until next week for a new post - but, I just can't help myself. I miss my blogging friends and I miss "keeping updated"! A bit back, I started a part-time job...just a few hours a week and just to keep me busy. It has been awhile since I have been working and I must say the paychecks are fun:) They support my HomeGoods habit...but those few hours a week have really thrown me for a loop as far as getting into a new routine - and my time on the computer as really taken a back seat. I am still working on the details of a new routine - I THRIVE on schedule - but I totally indeed to be blogging regularly. I have enjoyed visiting my friends this evening and catching up:)

I noticed a couple friends have running lists of blessings building on their sidebars for the month of November.....and I had planned to do something similar. I know I'm behind but I think I will catch up and join in. So much to be grateful for...and the perfect month to purpose our hearts to do so. (Now, let's see if I can get it added to the sidebar....)

Happy first week of November, friends. Hope your "thankful month" is off to a beautiful beginning:)