Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Whooosh!

...in the blink of an eye, Christmas was gone. But what a glorious time we had!
We were a little fearful that the trip would be a "long" one when our DD only wanted to sing one verse of "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" over and over and over and over again. When Dad and I tried to make that one verse more entertaining we were reprimanded and forced to sing it "the right way" over and over... We arrived home in the wee hours of Christmas Eve morning and, after a brief nap began the holiday's festivities. My DH, Dad and I headed out Christmas Eve to go hunting at "the poor farm". Unfortunately, we weren't very successful that first evening.

Christmas day brought more than we could have wished for. Everyone received wonderful gifts and the children had a blast playing with theirs, including opening up "Salon James". DD received a beauty pack with a battery operated hair dryer. We caught a pix of our DS playing beautician to his sister.

My grandparents, an uncle, and two great-uncles came over later that day for dinner and we had a wonderful time visiting with them.Friday the guys and I left Nanny home with the kiddos while we went hunting again. After not seeing diddly that morning we were blessed to get several deer Friday evening. Yeah! We have meat! Of course, the guys gave me a bit of a hard time cause during our downtime (around lunch) I sat around in my camo/hunting gear and pulled out my knitting (a scarf for my SIL). (pix is our obligatory heading out to go hunting photo that Mom always takes. Please note that it is about 4:30 am-ish and not only am I not awake but I've not had NEAR enough coffee!)

Saturday was a family fun packed day as Mom's side of the family got together to celebrate Christmas. It was SO great seeing everyone (we had to cancel last year's gathering due to bad weather). Many laughs were had and catching up was done...and much eating of many yummies of course.

Sunday we had to head back our house (so we missed seeing all Dad's side extended family). We made a pit stop in Fort Worth to see my brother, SIL, and nephew. Court had fun playing with his cousins and they LOVED seeing and playing with him! It was a bop in/bop out visit but I'm so thankful for the little time we were able to spend with them.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Just What He Asked For

When I asked my brother what he wanted for Christmas, he noted that anything red, black and/or white would be wonderful, with anything to do with Texas Tech, a plus. Well, he was apparently a good boy this year cause he's getting everything he asked for. Ha ha..

As usual, I was working up until the last minute on Christmas gifts this year and finished Rhett's late last night (we leave today for Christmas with my family up in the Texas Panhandle). I'm SO excited about how his present turned out, I can't wait for him to see it and I SO hope he likes it.

I made him an adjustable, felted guitar strap with Texas Tech logo embedded on the back side and an image of his and dad's tattoo on the front of the strap. Working from nothing but an idea in my head, it turned out exactly as I'd dreamed it would.

Fisherman's Wool in natural (that I had stashed) and Lion Wool in black and red were used to knit this strap. I hand felted it and then hand sewed it to the black webbing (for stability and adjustability).

Hot Coffee, Warm Fingers

We leave this afternoon/evening (Tuesday) for Christmas in the Arctic Tundra of the Texas Panhandle. I finished weaving in the ends and sewing seams on the last of the knitting projects (that had any hope of getting done) for gifts this year. I made a couple of coffee cozies. The first one is the Flirtation Cozy (which I LOVE) and the other is a modified version of the knit coffee sleeve. I modified it by adding the tuck-in wrap from the flirtation cozy. I knit these using some beautiful Earth color Cashmere blend yarn I had in my stash. They were for my grandparents who may be the only people I know who drink more coffee than I do.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Playing Santa, Poop in the Potty & Mayhem

Reading the title for this post you may be thinking, HOW can those three things possibly go together. Well, welcome to a day of my life.

This morning found my children having had stripped the red pillowcase off my son's pillow and stuffed the pillowcase with various toys from their room. They were taking turns lugging around the bag of toys and playing Santa. Whomever was Santa at the time would inquire of the other what did they want for Christmas. Once the desired toy was mentioned, "Santa" would dig through the pack and find a toy that matched. What fun they were having. They were so sweet and innocent and cute and funny... If only that could last. Alas, as is typical with my children, the cuteness wore off as the day went on.

We were blessed enough to have access to a hydraulic log splitter (for 1/2 the cost thanks to sharing the rental with a friend) for the afternoon. Now when we agreed to split the rental we'd yet to learn how extremely cold it was outside. A whopping 27 degrees had us bundling up in our long johns and hunting overalls, gloves and hats to work outside splitting the wood we'd obtained early in year from felling our largest oak (it was doing house damage and sadly, had to go).

We came inside at one point to warm up a bit only to find that our son had FINALLY pooped in the potty YIPPEE...He's doing a jig in the bathroom buck naked and with a completely RED face/neck. That's right... the kids got into my lipstick and painted their faces and necks COMPLETELY with it. They were SOLID red all over their faces and necks. While there was a little lipstick on things other than their bodies, I AM thankful it wasn't like the last time this happened. Still, it was chore getting it cleaned off them. (Not as bad as the dry erase markers they colored themselves and their chairs with last week... My son STILL has a big blue mark on his belly that will NOT come off. Anyway, I digress...

My DH gets the kiddos cleaned (as best he can with scrubbing and a bath). We were SO torn between being SO excited about the poop in the potty yet being so frustrated at the lipstick everywhere. URG. Well, kids went down for a nap and we went back to splitting wood.

We'd come in to check on the kids when they awakened from their nap and they were quietly playing with one another so we went to finish the splitting of the wood. During this time, my children decided that having gotten into the baby locked drawer with my makeup earlier wasn't nearly enough "fun" for one day so they proceeded to open the baby locked cabinet underneath and get into my nail polish. Yes... I said nail polish. Candy Apply Red, to be exact. When we came in to check on the kids and call it a night for wood splitting, we found my darling boy all excited to show us his "pretty" toenails and fingernails. Sister had painted them for him. In turn, he'd painted hers. Needless to say, hers didn't look nearly as well as his did, but that is beside the point. I spent the next little amount of time scrubbing nail polish off all surfaces while my DH had to give our precious daughter yet another bath. You see, in addition to the nail polish, she'd decided to almost empty the hairspray onto her hair and used their toothpaste as her hair gel.

As Bill Cosby said in one of his old routines, "The beatings will now begin".... Ahhhh. Just another day in the James' household. I'm trying to give homemade gifts for Christmas this year.... which one of my children would you like?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Here One Minute, Gone the Next

Well, the kiddos were too busy curling up in blankets with their hot cocoa to think about going outside. Which is okay with me 'cause it is COLD out there today.

While there are a couple places where a little snow can still be seen around the yard, it did, for the most part, disappear by morning. I don't know why I thought it would all still be here considering it was a record 81 degrees here yesterday. Oh well, it was still fun to see while it lasted and I'm grateful that it didn't affect the roads for morning commuters.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

80 Degrees in the Morning, SNOW at Night

So it is about 20 minutes to midnight and I SHOULD be fast asleep, but I'm not. Instead I'm writing about the fact that it is SNOWING outside right now. Late morning today, it was about 80 degrees. Now, it is snowing. This afternoon it was quite blustery and by earlier this evening, it was getting down right nippy. After I'd come in from having covered all my plants, there came a rain storm which turned into sleet. Now, it is snowing. Have I mentioned that already?

I can't wait to see the kids' expressions in the morning when they see the white on the ground. Granted, it isn't going to be enough to build any spectacular snowmen or have fantastic snowball fights and will very likely be gone in a flash, but for tonight and early tomorrow morning, we have snow.

Well, I need to get to bed and probably should dig out the kiddos' gloves and coats to have ready for them in the morning cause I know there will be no stopping them from going outside to play in this, what is to us Austinites, foreign substance called snow.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Wait for it....

What a hectic week. My parents made the trek down early to help us prepare for our DD's 4th bday party. As usual, we put them to work! Dad helped my DH repair some missing panels on my greenhouse as we were going to be getting a freeze one night and we all got most of my plants moved into the greenhouse or covered to protect them from the winter weather. The guys also got the lights on the Christmas tree. Mom kept über busy cleaning the house for us and helping to decorate the tree and the house for Christmas. (While we are hoping and planning on making our annual trek up north for Christmas, on the off-chance we don't get to, I wanted it to feel like home for the holidays.)




The kids had fun helping to decorate the tree but my DS discovered just how tiring a job it is.




In addition to cleaning, cooking and decorating, my mom helped me pull together decorations to make a woodland fairy wonderland for my DD's 4 year bday party on Saturday. We were very tickled with how everything turned out. We had flowers and wood vines and "fairy" lights and tulle...it was a perfect little setting for our fairy themed bday party.


A mistake I made this year was not decorating the cake on Friday night. I did bake the cake and even worked on making some flowers but as I was already running behind, they weren't going to have enough time to dry and transport from the paper to the cake so I decided I could just pipe them directly onto the cake...no problem. Well.....with everything else going on to get ready Saturday, having to decorate the cake was, well, a little much on my plate, mostly due to the fact that I'd practiced piping the flowers on the nail, which spins, and when piping them directly on the cake, I couldn't tilt the cake and/or spin it (when doing the sides) like on the nail. Urg. I did get it done, and on time, but not without a few head spinning episodes. It all turned out well though, and it tasted yummy (which is the main thing)!

The FUNNIEST part of the day occurred while my DD was opening her gifts. As she'd unwrap each gift, she'd say, "Wait for it...wait for it". We were rolling with laughter. I don't know where she got that phrase, but it was funny.

We were fortunate enough to not only have my parents here but also my brother and his family. We took advantage of this reunion to take a family photo.

After everyone had left, my family sat around and enjoyed some wonderful time together. I got to spend some much appreciated time with my new little nephew (who's 8 months old now..holy cow) and my brother kept busy playing with my kiddos.
Between playing with Barbies with both kids (I don't know how I got just the boys in this photo, but it cracks me up) and playing "wheelbarrow" with my son, my bro did a good job wearing them out. His funny quote of the day was when he was was heard hollering, "Let's go accessorize!" to my DD (referring to dressing up Barbie in some new things he'd snuck off to get for her).

Sadly, my brother, SIL, and nephew had to return home. Our night wasn't over yet though. Well, my mom's wasn't anyway. Before bed, my mom rolled my DD hair so she'd have lots of curls for Sunday. DD had been beggin for this. Unfortunately, as soon as she went to bed, she pulled them all out so no curls the next morning.


Despite the lack of curls, however, our little 4 year old still looked like a little angel Sunday morning in her new outfit from Nanny & Granddad.

Whew...what a trip. One bday down, one more to go. This next time, I'll try to have everything done the night before the party. Hey, I'm already ahead of the game. I know what I'm doing for the cake... Stay tuned.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Gobble Gobble

Okay, so I wrote about our Christmas Tree before I spoke to the Thanksgiving holiday. That is just how my brain seems to be working these days.....scattered. I hope you will bear with me. We'll take you back to the Christmas holiday shenanigans at the James' house very soon.

As has become our tradition, we had Thanksgiving at my in-laws. 17 friends and family gathered together on Thursday to give thanks for the blessings in our lives. As always, the food and fellowship were wonderful and everyone had a great time.


I was excited to use a old green "candy bowl" as part of this years' decor (centerpiece). I'd gotten it from my mom years ago and absolutely love it. A couple other goodies I've collected over the years made up the rest of the decor for this years Thanksgiving table. Figuring out how to "undo" the napkins proved to be a source of fun as well...a couple references to Jeff Dunham's Achmed the Dead Terrorist were used to explain how to "unroll" the napkins which, inevitably, led to several laughs from a few of us. Took longer than I'll admit here to roll those things and only a split second to "pull the 'fuse'" and place them in one's lap.

I'm very thankful to have a wonderful family - mine AND my husband's, healthy children, and for the blessings I'm bestowed each and every single day, be they big or small. I hope everyone who reads this had as wonderful a Thanksgiving as we did.

Making the Tree "Handsome" & Eager to Decorate

So the waiting for Dad to put the lights on the tree is apparently far more than the kids can stand. Last night, while we were outside putting up lights on the house, they got their hands on the craft scissors and our DS decided he needed to, as he put it, "make the Christmas tree handsome" by cutting some of its branches. Our DD opened a box of ornaments and put them on the tree...all in one little bitty group. We've swept up the pine needles and put up the surviving ornaments (unfortunately, there were a few casualties) so we can string the lights but we did get a little pix to share of our children's first ornament hanging adventure.

The Biggest, Most Beautiful Tree Ever!

The other day we were looking to set up the Christmas tree but couldn't find it anywhere. Even a trip to the inlaws to look in their attic turned nothing. We were going bonkers trying to remember where we'd stored our larger Christmas tree. While talking to my mom later that day and sharing our confusion on the location of the Christmas tree, she reminded me that we'd given the tree to them last year. THAT'S RIGHT!! As soon as she told me, I remembered (of course, I guess that goes without saying, huh?)

Well, since I'd already rearranged the furniture so I could have a Christmas tree in the front window, Sunday after church, we took the kids to get a Christmas tree. After inspecting several, we picked one, brought it home and set it up. Not had a real tree since I was a kid and the smell has me all giddy and feeling like a child once more. While the kiddos were there when we bought the tree, we didn't set it up in the house until they were down for their naps. Upon waking they were excited about the gigantic tree in the living room.

DS: "Woooow. It's cool"
DD: "It is the biggest, most beautiful tree. This is the bestest Christmas ever!!"

The kids are correct. It IS cool. It IS big. And it IS the most beautiful tree. We've allowed it to "rest" and will hopefully be putting on the lights tonight. Of course, seeing how this tree is larger than what I expected, we'll probably have to make a run for some more lights and possibly more garland. My mom is bringing us some more ornaments to fill it up. I've only got ornaments for a small, slim line tree. The tree gracing half of my living room right now is far from small or slim. I LOVE IT!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Cold Nights, Warm Dinners

Cool nights lately have had me in the mood to cook warm, satisfying, comfort foods. So far, they have all be hits with us. Just in case you find yourself on a cool night wondering what to cook for dinner, I've decided to share a couple of the newest recipes with you.

Savory Venison Stew
In the current issue of "Homegrown: Good Sense Organic Living for Texas" I found this scrumptious recipe from the Broken Arrow Ranch in Ingram, Texas. (My changes/suggestions are in italics.)

1 lb. Broken Arrow Ranch Venison Stew chunks, cut into bite-size pieces (I used ground venison as that was what I had handy.)
1 bay leaf
1 tblsp pickling spice (wrapped in cheesecloth)
1 cup coarsely chopped onion
1/8 tsp garlic powder (I used fresh garlic..several cloves worth cause, well... we like garlic)
¼ tsp ground black pepper
2 carrots, 2 celery stalks, and 2 red potatoes, cut into ½ “ pieces (I didn't have red taters around so used russets)
2 chicken bouillon cubes
2 cups water
1 tsp red wine vinegar
1 8oz can tomato sauce

Spray a nonstick skillet with vegetable cooking spray and quickly brown the chunks on all sides. Wrap the pickling spice in cheesecloth and tie with a string. Slowly simmer all ingredients for 1 ½ hours or until venison is tender and vegetables are cooked. Remove cheesecloth wrapped spices before serving. We served it with cornbread, of course. A wonderful blend of some of my favorites, it was a mix between pot roast, stew and sauerbrauten.

Lentil Chili
Recently, a co-worker passed on this recipe. Upon first glance I was thinking, uhhhhh... I don't know about this. Went ahead and tried it and by-golly, she was right... it is delicious!

2 t. olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 T chili powder
1 T ground cumin
1 t dried oregano leaves
1/8 t cayenne pepper
4 Cups water
1 cup lentils (the dry beans), rinsed
1/2 cup tomato puree (I used diced tomatoes from the can)
1/3 cup plus 2 T chopped green onions
cheese
Polish Sausage (or similar), chopped up


Heat oil in heavy, large saucepan (like a 3 qt.). Add onion and saute 2 minutes. Add garlic and saute 30 seconds. Add chili powder, ground cumin, oregano leaves, and cayenne pepper - stir 30 seconds. Add 4 cups water, lentils and tomato puree. Increase heat and bring to a boil, skimming off any foam from surface (I didn't see any foam when I made it). Reduce heat to medium and simmer until lentils are tender, adding more water by 1/4 cupfuls as needed if dry, about 30 minutes. Add sausage. Stir in 1/3 cup green onions. Season chili to taste with salt and pepper. Divide chili among 4 bowls. Sprinkle with remaining green onions and shredded/grated cheese and serve.

Hope you enjoy!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Mini Me

The other day, someone commented on the pix of my DD in "The Next Top Chef" post, noting that it was a pix of me as a little girl. First of all, she's a lot cuter than I but she does resemble her mama a lot. Unfortunately, she's inherited some of my stubbornness (which I rightfully inherited from my Dad and Papa. LOL) as well. Still though, she never ceases to crack me up...EVEN when she's being mean to her little brother.

While I will say that my brother used to be mean to me more than I him, I do acknowledge the fact that I did my share of abuse towards him. I can also say, however, that I NEVER did to him what my DD did to my DS last night... although I'm a little disappointed that I never thought of such an idea.

The kids are SUPPOSEDLY in bed going to sleep. DH and I are trying to watch a movie when we hear horrible cries from our DS. I rush into the kids' room to find my DD sitting on top of the toy box, all proud of herself. DS is nowhere to be seen. It is then I realize that he's IN the toy box. Upon opening the box, we find our DS CRAMMED in the toy box, with all the toys in there as well (so he's in like a sardine), with a blanket on him. He's NOT having fun and was scared in the dark (and I'm thinking pretty darned uncomfortable as well). As I lift him out and try to comfort him I ask why he got in the box in the first place. "Hadley told me to. She said it was a surprise." It sure was!

In the meantime, my DH is asking our DD, "Did you NOT hear your brother crying to get out?" Her response..."NOoooooo." Good grief. When he asked why she did it, she responded that she "can't like little brothers anymore". Oh sweetie, you are in trouble cause you're stuck with him for a very long time.

Five minutes later they were best of friends again. It was a very funny and sad sight though. DS may never want a surprise again. Oh, what am I saying... they have already both forgotten about the whole incident already...but I won't.

I Cast All My Cares

One of my favorite songs, especially when I'm troubled, is "I Cast All My Cares Upon You".

A few weeks ago our pastor was speaking to this subject and noted that oftentimes, there are those of us who are, like, "Okay, God. I am faithful that you will take care of and provide for us. I cast all my cares upon you and trust that you will watch over us...BUT if you need any help..." I laughed when he said that because I, unfortunately, am one of those people. As much as I say I'm handing things over to God, I constantly find myself questioning things and trying to stick my fingers in his business of taking care of me.

My prayer right now is that I will let him do his work...without my "help".

Those of you that know me and my family know that things have been difficult, as it is for many right now. We are blessed to be all healthy and together but we are praying that God will lead us through this difficult time and help us see what doors he opens. I told my brother earlier that I need prayers in seeing what God wants for us cause if he's not slapping me in the face with it, I'm kind-of stubborn.

No real reason for this post other than to request prayers that we'll allow God to do with us as he will and for me to see/listen to him and keep my meddling hands to myself.

To everyone who currently has us in your prayers, we can't thank you enough!

Monday, November 17, 2008

How to Make a Muddy Mud Ball

Just in case you were wondering how one makes a "muddy mud ball", I thought I would share the instructions I just heard my DD giving my DS.

"First you get a lot of dirt in your hand. Then you go and put your hands in the dog water. Then you throw the water and dirt between your hands and that's how you make a muddy mud ball!"

Now, I'll admit that my DD had a lovely, perfectly round ball of mud. My DS, however...not so much. Rather than having a little "muddy mud ball", as my daughter calls it, he himself is a muddy mud ball of sorts. The whole "throw the water and dirt between your hands" was apparently a little vague in its instructional detail. He's covered in mud and very upset that he doesn't have a muddy mud ball like his sister. As I type this, he is out chasing his sister around the yard in an attempt to get her muddy mud ball.

I'll deal with them in a little bit... first, however, I have to give the dogs some fresh water.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Next Top Chef

Despite my loathing reality shows, I do find myself watching one... Bravo's "Top Chef". Tonight was the new season's premier episode and, as always, I enjoyed watching what dishes these chefs were able to pull out of thin air. Little do the show's competitors know, however, that the James' household actually had THE "top chef" working in OUR kitchen tonight.

Our DD wanted to help with dinner so I put on one of my Granny's old smocks, that I remember wearing when I was a little girl visiting her and Papa, to protect her pretty white dress (that she's refused to take off for two days - even sleeps in it...very soon it will walk itself to the laundry) and gave her a spoon. She very carefully stirred our homemade pasta sauce for tonight's spaghetti meal.

She loves to help in the kitchen and is on her way to being a wonderful cook!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Sleepless in Seattle

Actually, I'm sleepless in Texas. It is 3:50 am and I've been up for about 30+ minutes. Same thing the last night and a few other nights recently. What's worse, is I should be out cold as I had to take some mega painkillers earlier for cramps from you-know-where and they always send me to la-la land, but here I am... awake. I'm TIRED. I'm yawning as I type this. I tried to knit for a bit but I'm too tired to do that (mainly cause I don't want to completely screw up my lace pattern I'm currently knitting due to an inability to accurately count in the wee hours of the morning)...and yet I'm awake. URG.

I'll hopefully doze back off in a little while..probably JUST before my alarm goes off. I can tell already, I'm gonna need a nap today.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Time DOES Fly

With the hustle and bustle of the kid's first Halloween where they went trick-or-treating, the football party we had on Saturday where we had to watch UT's devastating loss to Tech, and my being in the middle of a new product offering launch with my work...well, it almost passed us by. We DID remember but with everything else going on, it didn't get the attention we'd initially talked about.

Doesn't matter though.. I'm still very thankful, and lucky, to have been married to my wonderful husband for the past 5 YEARS. Together 8, married 5, 2 wonderful kids and a blessed life...

My, my, my....Time does fly.

Belated "BOO"

If you recall in a previous post, our DD was going to be a ghost for Halloween and my DS was set on being a "boy". Well, while our DS remained steadfast in his desire to be "just a boy!" our DD changed her mind on being a ghost. Instead, she wanted to be a fairy princess and she was the most beautiful fairy princess in all the land.

This was the first year that the kids did any trick-or-treating and the first house was PRICELESS! The kids knocked on the door and as SOON as the handle began to turn to open the door they were already hollering their "trick or treat"s. However, the homeowner had plans of their own and not realizing they had two toddlers on their first trick-or-treat outing, at their first door ever, opened the door wearing the blood dripping costume from the movie Scream. Scared the living daylights out of the kids! They jumped behind me and it wasn't until the home owner took off their mask and apologized tremendously that the kids reappeared to get their treats.

What were their father and I doing during all of this? Well, besides my acting as a hiding place, we were ROLLING with laughter. Okay, it was sad. They did get mighty scared but THAT was funny.... I don't care WHO you are.

They were unharmed and enjoyed hitting a few more homes before we had to get to the Halloween Party at Alan and Nickie's.

Of course, it took a little while to help them to understand that pretty much everything was "just a costume" at the party, including the eyeball that was dangling out of its socket. My poor baby girl...she was SOOO worried for that man who "hurt his eye" and "needed [me] to drive him to the doctor so they could glue [the eye] back so the man would be able to sleep." That was just one of her solutions for that particular Halloween prop-lem.

All in all it was a good night and the kiddos provided some fun entertainment for the adults, including when my DD announced that they (the little kids who were dancing around in the back yard without music...and on sugar highs) didn't need songs to dance to cause they were "dancing to the music in [their] hearts". We didn't know whether to crack up laughing, cause she said it in all seriousness, or gush with the "oh how swweeet" comments. I think there was a little of both.

Anyway, I hope everyone had a safe and BOO-tiful Halloween.

Friday, October 31, 2008

October Garden Hoe Project at MY HOUSE!

First of all, a HUGE thanks to Naomi for her generosity in taking pix of the project for me since our camera was on the fritz.

Despite being in the middle of the kitchen remodel, I had the Garden Hoes over the first Saturday in October for a huge project! We cleaned up and mulched the pond garden and we built a beautiful herb and iris bed in front of my garden. It didn't "sound" like a big project in my imagination but, like the kitchen remodel, it got bigger and bigger as we went along. Probably the most time consuming part of the project was removing a miniscule amount of the fill rock that made up the majority of the ground. After removing 5 wheelbarrows full of rocks from the tilled ground, we called it quits, added compost and finished the project.

We forgot to take a "before" photo but remembered pretty early in the day. Here is Naomi tilling up my rock ground in preparation of the bed.




It is beautiful and I can't wait until next year when all the iris come up and, hopefully, bloom amidst all my herbs.

Many thanks to all the Garden Hoes for the awesome job!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Wait Is Over!

FINALLY! We have some pix of the kitchen remodel to share with you! Now, we are NOT completely done yet. We still have all the quarter-round to put up and all the trim to do, but since the majority of the work is done (and we had access to a camera), we wanted to share with you a peak of the new kitchen.

There are several groups of before and after photos for you to view (smaller pix are the before, larger are the after). You'll have NO trouble figuring out which is which. LOL. Sorry for the non-perfect quality of some of these photos. The "before" pix were taken with our mobile phone camera and there was apparently some spots on the camera lens for the "after" photos. To see any photo better, you can just click on the small photo to see it full-size.

It is like watching a remodeling show on HGTV. You see it before and then *poof* you see the after. Since I've got a ton of pix in this post already, I've not included any of the "in process" pix we were fortunate enough to get of me scraping up the old linoleum, or Ray ghostly white from sanding and spraying paint or, as mentioned in a previous post, Ryan getting stuck in some of the cabinetry. Ya know... all that stuff that makes a remodel so much FUN and memorable.

Well, without further adieu...










We are SOO happy to be on the home stretch of this remodel. And we couldn't have done it without the help of our friends and especially my parents who spent 10 days slaving away to help us get this remodel done before the James' Family Reunion. Thank you Mom and Dad!!!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

My Nephew is 7 Months Old Already!

Holy cow! Where does the time go? I can't wait to see this little guy again. He's growing up too fast!

Look At the Pretty Flowers Mommy!

So before I could track down a camera to take pix of the new blooms I finally got on my Esperanza, or Yellow Bells, plant that I got from Naomi and my white Plumbago (that was supposed to be blue), my DS decided to pick them!

"Look at the flowers, Mommy...they are SO pretty" he said. It was all I could do to agree with him rather than comment how pretty they would have looked had he left them on the plant for us to enjoy longer than a few minutes before they wilted/got squished...

Oh well, pretty they were and I was so thrilled they bloomed. Also in bloom right now are my indigo spires sage, red hibiscus, blue plumbago, coconut lime coneflower, jewel of opar, confetti lantana, purple lantana, Mexican Heather, pink skullcap, Bat-Faced Cuphea, Cigar Plant, marigolds, and several of my salvias.

This beautiful fall weather we've been having has had me wanting, so badly, to go and plant seeds but I'll have to wait until next spring for all that. I did, however, do an inventory on all my seeds and have been doing some seed/plant trading with other gardeners around the country. I'm going to have to figure out where I'm going to plant everything. That should keep me busy enough over the winter months.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

James' Family Reunion

What fun! The entire James' clan got together this past weekend for a family reunion...all 24 of us from all over the country. It was so wonderful having the entire clan together. And, as it has been four years since we were last together, there were three new additions to the family, my DD and DS and Ginger (DH's sister) & Jamie's baby DD.

Festivities began Friday night with a spaghetti dinner at Rob, I mean "Carl" (haha), & Celeste's (DH's sister). Afterward's DH's sister, Vicky, came to stay the night with us and we all got the bright idea that we could be "young" again and stayed up visiting until 5:30 in the morning. URG... THAT hurt the next day. Young we are not...at least not in the sense that we can attempt all-nighters.

Saturday late morning, due to our having stayed up WAY too late the night before, we made it over to Mom & Dad's for breakfast and then headed back home to get ready for Saturday afternoon/evening's festivities. My DH smoked brisket, ribs, chicken, sausage and mushrooms. We had tater salad and coleslaw for the sides. All was totally yummy! My hubby can cook up a mean BBQ. But there was more! We celebrated Dad's birthday as well! All the family got together and got him a Wii for his birthday! How fun!!

To top off the excitement of the night we all sat around the television and watched the Longhorns victory over Missouri. GO HORNS!

Sunday found my DH taking Vicky and Laura (our niece) to the airport and then he visited over at Mom & Dad's with some of the other still-in-town siblings before coming home where we spent the rest of the day comatose on the couch.

It was so wonderful to see everyone and we are thrilled that the entire family was able to make it for this get-together. Additionally, we are SO thankful to our friends and family who helped us SO SO much in the preparation of this event. Naomi, who not only spent a day working in my yard with me (see Garden Hoes project), but loaned us a trailer for all the remodeling trash and some lawn chairs so people would have a place to sit. Mike for coming over and slaving away with my Dad and DH in laying the floor in the kitchen and helping with putting in some of the cabinets and the microwave. And most importantly, my folks who busted their behinds to help us have a finished kitchen (see remodel post) and a clean, beautiful home for the reunion. We can't thank you enough!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Über Busy

Just because I've not posted for a couple of weeks doesn't mean nothing has been going on. Ah contraire! The James' household has been a hotbed of activity. Unfortunately, since our camera bit the dirt we went from having hundreds of pix a month to zip and are unable to share pix of what we've been up to. Good news is that thanks to some friends and family, we should have some pix coming along soon to share with you. Of course, they are all pix taken once the demo was completely done and all the walls were rebuilt, but you'll get to see the kitchen remodel soon... I hope.

As if remodeling the kitchen weren't enough, we've been very busy with yard work as well. A new flower bed and much yard clean-up have the outside of the house looking better each day.

Keep your britches on... Hopefully, we'll have some sneak peek photos coming soon! Keep the prayers going. This "lipstick on a pig" remodel blew into a complete overhaul and has, in true remodel fashion, been hogging up way more of our funds than allotted and WAY more time than I thought. We were supposed to be DONE by today at the latest... now, with the way things are going, we'll be still working during the reunion.

Yup, that is right... the James' family reunion is this weekend and Saturday will find us with a full house. Thankfully, my parents love me SO much that they came down last Wednesday afternoon and have been busting there tails helping us to get this kitchen done and done beautifully!

Gotta run for now.. grout is going down.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Houdini He is NOT

Don’t worry, Houdini. You’re job is safe. This was one of those moments where I REALLY missed having a camera, although my DH told me there was no time to take a photo. My response was that we’d HAD to have made time for a pix if we had a camera that worked. What am I talking about having wanted a picture of and what’s this about Houdini’s career being safe?

We’d removed the cabinets that were along the wall where the stove is so I could sand them outside. They were lying on the backside so the door openings were facing up. Well, I’d gone and laid a tall pantry on top of them so I could sand it as well. This pantry covered the entire cabinets. Now, on the top and bottom of the small two door cabinets that were above the oven vent there was a hole (for the vent itself). The hole closed to the vent was a little larger than the hole in the top of the cabinet that was connected to the vent tube in the ceiling. These two holes were the ONLY open areas of the cabinets (seeing how I’d put the pantry over the side where the doors went).

SO… my little Houdini wanna-be apparently crawled into the tiny cabinet space through the hole on the bottom of the short cabinets and once completely inside that little coffin area tried to climb out through the hole on top of the cabinet. Remember where I mentioned that the hole on top was smaller? Apparently, he only got his head and one arm through the top hole before becoming complete STUCK. He’s screaming and hollering and scared to death and our DD comes inside to tell her daddy that her brother is stuck. HOWEVER, she is taking her sweet time in relaying this information. When she finally tells my DH that our son is stuck, my DH runs to the rescue. He had to move the pantry off the cabinets so he could extract our little man from the cabinet door opening as he was, in fact, stuck good in that little hole. So much for being Houdini and escaping the kitchen cabinet.

We have told the kids not to play on the cabinets. Guess we should have also told them not to play IN them either.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

What Do YOU Want To Be?

My kids were discussing Halloween this morning and I asked my DD what she was going to be for Halloween. She was having a hard time thinking about it so I asked if she were going to be a princess or a ghost or a...

DD (interrupting me): "ooooooh! A ghost. I'm going to be a ghost!" Brother, what are you going to be for Halloween? Do you want to be a prince...or...a (thinking) dragon?! (I have NO idea where those choices came from)
DS: I'm going to be a BOY!
DD: You already ARE a boy. What are you going to be?
DS: I'm a BOY!!
DD (to me): Mommy, brother says he wants to be a boy, but I'm going to be a ghost and I'm gonna SCARE the boy!

I don't know. Maybe is was one of those had-to-be-there things, but I was ROLLING with laughter. Good news is that, at least at this point in time, my only costume I have to create is tossing a sheet over my DD. That's easy enough. HA.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Guess Who's Coming to Town?

One of my all time favorite comedians, Jef-fuh fuh Dun HAM dot com, otherwise known as ventriloquist Jeff Dunham, will be performing in Austin on October 2nd! I've already told my hubby he may have to treat me to a month early anniversary date.

Some 18 years ago (eek... that was a long time ago), I was on the University Programming Board at Midwestern State University. We attended a conference where we watched gobs of comedians, magicians, musical acts, etc so we could determine who we wanted to book to perform at our campus. Jeff Dunham was one of those acts we saw. He and Peanut had me laughing so hard I couldn't breathe.

His most recent show which aired on Comedy Central a few weeks ago, featured Jeff, Peanut (who Walter has described as a "Muppet on crack"), José Jalepeño "on a stick", Achmed the dead terrorist, cranky ol' Walter, and Melvin the not-so-super hero. Apparently, he's also added Sweet Daddy Dee and Bubba J to his group of crazy puppets. I've yet to see them, but I'm sure they will be as painfully funny as the rest of the gang.

Anyway, I realize his humor isn't for everyone and the fact that my fave comedian is a ventriloquist is something some may find odd, but I was just so excited to learn he's going to be doing a show here, I had to share the news.... Nnneeeeoooowww

"Sometimes Accidents Just Happen"

Conversation had last night:

DD: Mommy, Daddy, I have to tell you something... I went tee-tee in my panties.
Us: Honey, why did you do that? You know how to go potty like a big girl.
DD: Sometimes accidents just happen!

Couldn't argue with that. We were rolling with laughter though.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Numbers Finally Match

After having taken a few deep breaths, I had to frog a lot of the sweater. Went back a couple rows before the eyelet increase, thinking that it had to be around there somewhere that I'd gained those 10 extra sts I mentioned the other day. Unfortunately, doing so only uncovered some of them. The rest somehow magically appeared over the course of just regular knitting (and my obviously not paying attention to what I was doing). Having already ripped out 1/2 of the work, I was not in the mood to rip back to the beginning so after a zillion times counting and recounting the various stitches and finding, I think, where I had some extras tucked in, I started knitting again - this time strategically decreases the necessary number of stitches to get me down to the 235 I needed.

After a count and re-count, just to be sure, I had it! Yippee... After a careful round of eyelet increases (spaced according to my own math which anyone who's read this blog knows means trouble typically), I counted a couple times again. As called for by the pattern, I was up to 282 stitches on the needle and, to the best of my ability, they are properly spaced between the raglan increases. Can I get an AMEN?!

Now I've just got to do about 7 rows of garter stitch (in all my free time between work, family, and remodeling with the deadline QUICKLY approaching) and then I get to begin my lace pattern again!

This is supposed to be a very simple cardigan, I don't know why I had so much trouble. Hopefully, the worst is behind me and I can knit up the remainder of this sweater without too many more hiccups. (Crossing fingers that strategically placed decreases to get me down to correct number doesn't screw up math down the line.)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Rip-it or Rig-it?

That is the question... Things were knitting up so beautifully on the February Lady Sweater I'm trying to make for my mom. I got all the raglan increases done, added in the eyelets, and got my extra rows added. Got three rows into the gull lace pattern when I realized that the extra stitches I had run across in row one of the lace pattern weren't my imagination. I frogged back to the pre-lace section only to discover that I wasn't 3 sts off, but rather 10. SOMEWHERE, I'd added TEN sts to the garment. Fortunately, since the lace is a 7 st repeat, I could feasibly make it so that there are only 3 add'l sts that I need to "hide". That is very tempting. I mean, it won't screw up the look of the sweater really, and besides, it is for my mom and she'll love it no matter what, right?

PROBLEM is that if I decrease those 3 sts, I still have 7 extra sts floating around....somewhere. While that doesn't affect the lace pattern (just gives me one more repeat), it DOES make it a WEE bit difficult in knowing where to separate the sleeves. I'm TRYING to look and count and look and count and see if I can finangle the stitch numbers in my favor. I fear, however, that I may have to just frog the thing back to kingdom come and start anew. Having already frogged almost 1000 sts, I'm not excited about frogging another couple thousand. URG.....

At this rate, I'll NEVER finish this sweater. I'm quite torn on how to proceed at this point. (insert huge sigh here). I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Itsy Bitsy Spider

Too stinkin' cute is what it was! My DS, who is 2.5 yo, was sitting in the living room floor this morning singing "Itsy Bitsy Spider" to his own music. He'd stuck one end of a rubber band type thing between his toes and was holding the other end in one hand and was "plucking the string, as it were, to make the music for his serenade of "Itsy Bitsy Spider" to all of us. When we applauded his performance, he commented that he was making music!

It was so cute! Of course, five minutes later when he decided to make a different type of music in the form of shrieks and screams, we weren't as impressed. Oh well, it was precious while it lasted.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Bigger & Bigger

Just when you (or rather just when I) think the demolition part of this remodel is almost done and the putting back together stage will begin, we decide to rip something else out completely and start from scratch...usually another wall. That was, yet again, the case recently when my DH was working on the stove and what will be microwave electrical wiring. Rather than just making a hole where we were doing the immediate work, out came some wall cabinets that we weren't planning on removing and the entire wall behind the stove area.

Now, it has been decided that instead of tiling over the old counter top (which we can NOT remove in its entirety due to the original construction), we are going to pull the laminate off - that also goes half-way up the wall - and, yup, start over. The good thing is that we'll have a fresh palette on which to lay the countertop, the bad news is that this will be yet more demolition.

I'm SO ready for us to get on to the part of the remodel that you can SEE versus all this destruction part. I don't care that "prep is the most important part of the process". Prep is NO FUN.

Add to the ever so fun equation that we have two young toddlers running about and, well, remodeling a major room in a house you are living in WITH young ones running around leads to MUCH excitement... and exhaustion. Anyway, that's what's going on in the "Days of Our Lives"....We have our own little soap going on.

Enjoying every little thing you do in your kitchen, be it cooking a beautiful meal or just making some PB&Js, and just be thankful you aren't staying at my house right now!

Recipes, Science Fiction & Gardening

You are probably thinking to yourself, "WHAT do those three things have in common?"

Not long ago I got a card to send to a friend that had a quote from Rita Rutner that read, "I read recipes the same way I read science fiction. I get to the end and think....that's not going to happen!"

While I feel that way about my cooking, I also feel the same way about my gardening. I see these beautiful pictures in books and magazines and I drool over a friend's yards but try as I might, when I attempt to accomplish a certain look or grow a certain plant, well, my thumb tends to be more brown than green. People keep telling me that old adage of "1st year sleeps, 2nd year creeps, and 3rd year leaps". Unfortunately, with the way I seem to be with plants, I'm forever going to be in that 1st/2nd year phase.

Some plants I can bring back to life and they seem to be happy but others, typically the ones I want SO badly to do well, struggle and suffer a long and painful (I'm assuming from the way the look) death.

I keep telling myself it has been a hard summer and THAT is why my garden(s) aren't happy. I"m just going to keep feeding myself that line. In the meantime, Happy 1st Day of FALL and happy gardening, no matter your skill level.

Monday, September 15, 2008

From Blah to Beautiful

This past Saturday was our September Garden Hoe workday. We headed out to Naomi's to build a flower bed on one side of her home. To see the transformation, check out the post on our Garden Hoes blog.

Funny, how Naomi didn't comment on my singing and dancing... Quit laughing. We were working HARD and I needed to "rest". It was, as always, a super fun day and the result was stunning! I can't wait for my Garden Hoes work day (in October).

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Teething..... Again

My poor baby boy. As if being 2.5 years old wasn't hard enough, my DS started teething a molar late yesterday. We were a big happy family out running a couple errands when, as though someone flipped a light switch, Ryan began screaming that his mouth and ear hurt. At first we didn't know what the problem was. All we knew was that our little baby boy was in intense pain, NOTHING we did could console him or get him to quit screaming at the top of his lungs in the store.

While I felt bad that someone was going to have to put away the items that we had in our shopping cart, and frustrated that we would have to make another trip to get the items, our main concern was getting our baby home. It was as we were pulling into the drive that I put 2 and 2 together. Teething! URG... I'd enjoyed that little hiatus we'd had with no new teeth coming in.

Dose of the BEST teething medicine in the WORLD, Hyland's Teething Tablets, and a little pain killer/fever reducer and all was well... for four hours. That little cry crushes my heart. He just woke up from the start of his nap earlier screaming that his mouth hurt. Couple teething tablets and he told me he was going to finish his nap... which is good, cause he's got a little fever this afternoon of 101.6 and needs to sleep that away.

I need to go and make sure my DD is actually taking her nap (which is doubtful since she recently decided that she "can't sleep during the daytime anymore") and check on my little man.

To anyone else who reads this and is suffering with a teething child right now, my prayers are with you..and your little one. Here's hoping you BOTH get some relief and rest.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Kitchen Remodel.... Demolition Begins

After a zillion ideas as to what we wanted to do with our hideous little kitchen (from blowing out exterior walls and completely gutting the thing to just paining, I THINK we finally came up with a plan that will result in a beautiful and usable kitchen that we can enjoy for many years. That said, today demolition began. The bar/island that was built to never be removed got sawed and yanked out. The overhead cabinets, soffit, and the entire wall of sheetrock were the next out. Now it is the daunting task of removing this mega glued on 30+ year old worn out and brittle linoleum... Keep checking back for updates on the kitchen remodel! (Oh, and unfortunately, you won't be getting pix for a while of this project (probably going to be a good thing) as our camera croaked and we've not gotten a new one yet. URG... Life without my digital camera? I don't know how I'm going to survive!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

We ALL Scream for Ice Cream!

My kids can't hear their father or I tell them not to color on the walls or beat on one another but they have Superman's hearing powers when it comes to picking up the faint sound of the ice cream truck's Greensleeves playing blocks away. Psycho is a "mild" term for what happens next. They go nuts running and screaming at the top of their little lungs for mommy and daddy to "Come Here!! It's the ice cream truck. HURRY!!!".

When we don't catch the ice cream man, it isn't a pretty sight. On the occasions we do catch him, we have some very happy (and in the end, filthy and sticky) kiddos. Here's the kids on one of the "good" days!

Guess What the Mailman Brought?

How exciting! My Knittinghelp.com Summer Swap package arrived. It was from MommaG who lives in Canada. There were lots of goodies in this package...for the entire family!

I received 2 knit washcloths, 2 boxes of chocolate wafer straws, the most adorable frog wind chime (who has already found a home in my garden), beautiful stitch markers which will be great when I'm knitting with my larger needles, a cute plant stake that has a frog on a watering bucket, 2 skeins of "The Perfect Knit" Glitter Knitting Yarn in a pale blue color, and two skeins of Sidhar Luxury Soft cotton yarn (DK weight) - one in a pale blue and the other in white.

My DH received a key ring and a Canada utility knife.

The kids received their own Canada tote bags which were filled with suckers bearing a pix of the Canadian maple leaf and they each received a crocheted stuffed elephant. One was a "girl" elephant with a pink bow to match her eyes and the other was a "boy" elephant with blue eyes. The kids loved their gifts and have been toting their totes and elephants all about. As for the suckers, I'm TRYING to ration them out...mainly to help make sure I don't end up with kids bouncing off the walls and sucker sticks stuck to everything.

Monday, August 25, 2008

When It Rains...

it pours... We continued to get some good, much needed rains through Saturday. Everything is really greening up for the first time all year. DH's going to have to get the lawnmower working again soon so we can mow for, like the 2nd time this year.

Unfortunately, not all that poured was good. I'd just posted about the passing of an old friend and we received another call Saturday that one of our brothers-in-law had passed suddenly and unexpectedly. It is believed to have been a heart attack but the family requested an autopsy to make sure. This has caught the entire family off guard, obviously. We are waiting to hear from Ray's folks, who flew out yesterday, as to when services will be so that my DH can make arrangements to attend the funeral and be there to support his sister and niece who have endured this sudden and tragic loss.

I can't even begin to imagine what I'd do in their shoes and am so very thankful that, at least today, I don't have to know. Our hearts and prayers go out to the family.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Danny Roy Young 1941-2008

It was 13 years ago that I met Danny Young. I had just started at Greywolf and the guys took me to the Texicalli Grille for lunch, a small, eclectic restaurant Danny owned and ran. That became one of my long time favorite places to eat. Not only were the sandwiches OUT OF THIS WORLD (as were the rest of their dishes) but they made the ultimate "Double Double Chocolate Milkshake" (My mom will attest to that!) and REAL sodas...and THAT wasn't even the highlight of dining there. The BEST part of eating at the Texicalli was getting to visit with Danny.

As if owning the Texicalli weren't enough, Danny was also the long-time unofficial "Mayor of South Austin" and a mighty fine washboard player for the Cornell Hurd Band.

I just got a call awhile ago that, even as I type this, I still don't believe. A man who personified life, energy, happiness and was the type of person that many people could only be in their dreams, passed away Wednesday of a heart attack. He was 67. I am at a loss for words. Austin has lost a truly wonderful part of itself in the passing of Danny.

Photo by Nuevo Anden.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Singing in the Rain

After weeks of being in a drought, we have been blessed today with a GLORIOUS long rain! It has been raining for a couple hours thus far and the sound is just heavenly...I find myself "singing in the rain"!

I know I complain about the drought and 100+ temps and then post pretty pictures of things in my gardens. You're wondering "how bad can it really be?" Well, I'm here to tell you it's all about the magic of digital photography and cropping which allows me to show you only what looks decent...and not show the rest of the plant and other plants all around it in different stages of death. Even my DH has said that people who don't know me and just see my blog probably think I have this beautiful, lush garden that even I would drool over and instead...

This is the hottest summer on record for this area in 80 years. With the heat and drought... Well, let's just say that I'm glad you can't see how all my plants REALLY look every afternoon in the 100+ temps we've been enduring for weeks.

Maybe after all this wonderful rain, things can perk up a little bit and I can take a pix then...as usual highlighting the good parts of what my brown thumb has done versus the distressed and/or dead aspects.

Did I mention it's RAINING! Yippee!

Hanging Around

"Mommy! Daddy! Ryan's stuck in the kennel!"

Upon hearing these words I thought the kids were playing in the dog kennel again and for some reason just couldn't get the latch undone. This, however, made no sense to me because they undo the latch all the time. I walk out with my DD to see what "stuck in the kennel" meant to her and as soon as I saw what she meant, I broke into a run to rescue my little guy as he was near the TOP of the 8' kennel with his feet stuck in the fence and was hanging on for dear life upside down.

Apparently my little monkey decided to climb the kennel fence and then couldn't get back down. He was so very scared and upset. We "rescued" him and explained why we don't climb fences. We'll see how long that "experience" sticks with him before he tries that little stunt again. (We've already told/prepared ourselves that he will try it again sometime. Just a question of when.)

Friday, August 15, 2008

Skull Stole Pattern Now Available

The Skull Stole pattern is now available! This one is for Jeanie who doesn't already have enough in her Ravelry que to knit. :o) This pattern uses the lace chart I mentioned in my "Ahoy Matey" post earlier this month. I've just counted up the necessary stitches and repeat numbers (of course, if you read my "2+2=3" post you may be a little concerned about my counting abilities) to allow you to knit up this little "jewel" so that all the skulls or skulls & crossbones face the appropriate direction.

You can download via the link provided in this post or by clicking on "Skull Stole" in the Free Patterns section on the sidebar.

Happy knitting, Jeanie and anyone else who wishes to knit this treasure of a stole.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

2+2=3

Yeah, I know... those numbers don't add up. THAT was what I encountered when I finally hung my new, totally gorgeous drapery panels in my living room!

Despite measuring and counting everything a million times, I STILL managed to screw up, royally. Finished panel length + 3.5 inches for the top casing and hem + 3.5 inches for the bottom hem. Got the top casing sewn (minus the top ruffle) and had put them up (just so I could feel like I'd finished something even though I still lacked the hem and top ruffle element) and HORROR!!! I realized, once up on the wall that the drapes just barely brush the floor BEFORE the hem has even been done. (and before the ruffle at the top which would raise them even more so they aren't going to be getting that after all which is fine with me).

So my drapes don't get a hem. I MIGHT be able to figure out some way to piece fabric back on that I can then hem up but I screwed up SO bad. My DH said it doesn't matter and not to worry about it. Obviously, after 8 years together he still doesn't know me that well. Not worry about it???

WHAT??? WHERE??? HOW??? I'm SO upset. Simple stinking drapery panel and I completely messed up. Anyway... They look good from a distance. Just don't look at the bottom. Fortunately, the bottoms are hidden behind the couch.

AAAAUUUURRRGHHHHH! What's worse is that it didn't HAVE to be that way... I got a little extra fabric just in case my numbers were off, which after the number of times I calculated it, they shouldn't have been. Shoot me.... Just shoot me now. The ONLY thing I can think is that when I had all that fabric (gobs and gobs) laid out on my cutting board that I miss-marked, somehow, my cut line and when I cut the second panel to match the first...wha-la.

So...the drapes are "done". Just don't look at them closely or your see they have no hem on the bottom... at least until I can figure out a non-hideous solution. Just another day in the life/mind of me.

New Pets

"The kids have some new pets." When I heard my Dad say that to me (while kiddos were up at their Nanny & Granddad's last week), my first thought and my response was sarcastically, "Oh. Ray is just going to LOVE that." "RAY's the one that found them!" was the next thing I heard.

Great... just what we need. WHAT did he find? I mean, we have already two toddlers and often watch a 3rd for some friends. We have two large dogs of our own and often dog-sit Max (another BIG dog). Additionally, we have a few frogs and then our goldfish out in the pond area. How many more feet do we need traipsing around here? Well, apparently eight would be the answer to that.

We've held off naming our TWO new "pets" as we weren't sure they would live, but survive thus far they have so I guess I should introduce them. Still nameless, although the kids are quite busy thinking up possible names, we now have two baby red-eared slider turtles. They are only a couple to three inches across on the widest parts of their shells and have become quite used to us. We have them in a contained habitat right now so they can become acclimated to their new home, which we've read helps prevent them from running away. We have to clean their container often but doing so allowed me to snap a pix to share with you while they were chillin'.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Splash Day

Our church held a Splash Day this Sunday for the kiddos. K-5th graders came to church in their swimming gear and got to play on inflatable water toys during their Sunday School. Since the inflatable toys didn't need to be returned until later in the day, after the 3rd service they opened it up and it was a family picnic/all kids play time.

Needless to say, our kids absolutely loved it. Once we mastered the art of waiting our turn in line there was no stopping them! They had some practice at Groom Day playing on the inflatable water toys so they weren't afraid of anything. Slipping and sliding and climbing on slick air-filled water mountains was second nature to them.

One of the funnier moments from the day involved Ryan and FreezePops. Hadley had one, barely. I had a couple, cause who doesn't like those things. Ryan, however, had I don't know how many. Everytime I blinked he had a different color pop in his hands. Was I losing my mind? Nope. I caught him, after he'd sucked all the juice out of the pop (but leaving behind the frozen part) setting his uneaten pop on the table and walking over to the lady handing out the pops and requesting "one more". After several times of asking for "one more" she and I caught onto his game. We just found it funny.

It was a nice time for the family and a great way to wear out the kids!

Welcome Home

My most wonderful family made it safely home Saturday night from Nanny & Granddad's house. Everyone was WORN out as it was not only a long drive home but they had had a eventful week. In addition to attending Groom Day (and making a HAUL on the parade candy) the kids also attended VBS at my parent's church and kept very busy with projects with their Nanny, including their grass hair people. These little "people" were even funnier than I thought they would be when Mom was telling me about them.

DH called when they were about 30 minutes from home to tell me they were making better time than they'd thought. Yes they were! I was trying to finish the living room drapes and get them up and thought I had an hour left, not 30 minutes. Needless to say, only one drape made it up and even that one isn't finished. At least it gave a little of the effect I wanted though.

All the hard work was worth it for those couple of minutes prior to the kiddos ripping through like a tornado. Both the kids and my DH were pleased with the results, especially my DH who just wanted to crash and having a clean home to do so in was icing on the cake.

I'm SO glad my little family is home. I had forgotten what it was like to step/trip on toys while walking through the house and finding Granddad crackers (aka Cheez-itz) smashed to bits by the toy hammer all over the sofa and...

Thursday, August 7, 2008

"Design on a Dime" Meets "While You Were Out"

While my family has been out of town this week visiting my folks I've been busy (when not at work) doing some things around the house. Unfortunately, I have yet to get to ANY of the items on my to-do list like cleaning out the kid's toy box and closet, cleaning/re-organizing the office, cleaning our bedroom... I HAVE been doing a few little "While You Were Out" activities. Hopefully, my DH will love them so much he'll ignore the fact that I've not touched laundry or mending. I've still SO much to do and the family comes home on Saturday. I'm SO excited about having them come home but need more time to get things done. Oh well, I'll finish what I can.

What have I been up to, you ask? Well, even if you didn't ask, I'll tell you anyway. If you read my "Mama Mia" post you'll see what I was up to over most of the weekend. On the inside of the house I focused my attention to the living room and kitchen. With the sheetrock up on the one wall that has been bare studs for longer than I'm going to mention, I decided to hang some artwork. Granted, we still have to tape and float, prime and paint all the walls (in living room, dining and kitchen) but even without paint yet, they look great! Oh and I FINALLY decided on the paint color for these three rooms... Aged Amber. It goes so well with the furniture and accessories. I can't wait to get it painted...but I will..for a little longer, anyway.

So, I started out by painting the inside of the front door. When I post before/after pix at some point, you'll see why that was, as Martha Stewart says, "a good thing". I hung some art on a couple of walls, rearranged a couple pieces of furniture & decor, and purchased a TON of fabric for the panel drapes I'm going to sew for the living room window (hope DH doesn't mind I didn't get his input on the drape fabric). I am HOPING to get the drapes done before the family gets home. They are an olive color and are just divine! Even better was that I got the fabric 50% off!!! That is the ONLY way I could have done it and still much less expensive than buying pre-made.

In the kitchen, I cleaned out the cabinet we are using for our pantry and painted the interior white and also cleared the top of all the junk and put some decor up there. I cleaned out the junk drawer (after almost two years, it was past time cause it was junky), cleared the top of the fridge and was able to put some decor up there and I LOVE it! Moved some kitchen cabinet items around as well as some countertop appliances. DH won't be able to find anything for a few days. All that gave me much more workable counter space (and cabinet space).

I've still lots of cleaning to do but I'm very excited about the little progress I've made thus far. We'd been holding off doing things around here cause we bought this fixer-upper with the intention of doing quite a bit of remodeling. Unfortunately, the pocketbook hasn't allowed us to do what we want ... yet... so I'm making the best of things for the time being. With the exception of the drapery fabric (which was 50% off in case I didn't mention that yet. Hee hee) and a little craft paint, everything was stuff we already had stored away. Now THAT's "Design on a Dime".

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Ahoy Matey!

My KnittingHelp.com Surprise Theme Swap partner, Jes from San Diego, received the package I sent to her and I think she liked it!
I'd learned that she loved pirate stuff and one of her favorite colors was light blue (and that she gardens a little!), so a "treasure chest" I would make for her.

Unfortunately, after much scouring of the internet, I couldn't find anything I really liked that would work in Southern CA. Similar to here in Austin, there is little need for massively bulky chunky items as we just don't get that many extremely cold days typically. Unlike here in Austin, though, San Diego does get some cooler evenings. With that in mind, and not being able to find what I wanted, I took a lace chart of some skulls and crossbones and figured out how many/how much was needed to make a Skull Stole (one where all the skulls would be facing the correct way). If you would like, I invite you to download a copy of this pattern and knit up this little treasure for yourself.

I wish I'd taken a picture of the swatch I knit as it was pretty cool, even though I, personally, am not a big "skull" fan. Anyway, I finally got everything together and sent to her. Besides her intro letter, "treasure map" (aka pattern), gold coins and jewels, and "pearl" stitch markers (including a precious "black pearl" marker), I sent the most scrumptious yarn that was ever so difficult to part with. Jes didn't want any wool yarn so I found a couple of skeins (just enough for the stole) of Knit Picks Alpaca Cloud yarn in Horizon.

Although I went over budget on this package and was worried a few times about the package coming together, I was very pleased with it and hope that Jes enjoys knitting up her treasure!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Living the Single Life

...for the week. DH took the children up north to spend the week with Nanny & Granddad. I wanted to go as well but had to stay and work. Bummer, I know. Not to fear however, as I've got a "to-do" list of projects a mile long and know that, even with all this "free" time, I'll still not get them all done.

The first night they were gone was Friday night. Hubby called me about 8:30 so I could tell the kiddos goodnight "before [I] hit the town". Pathetically, I was already in my jammies and watching really bad 80s movies on the tube. That little fact gave my DH quite a chuckle. Both Saturday and Sunday nights were pretty much the same. No wild woman here....at least not out and about wild. As for what I've been up to here around the house...keep watch in future posts!

I do miss my babies, but knowing they are having LOTS of fun with Nanny & Granddad makes it all better. They are going to VBS there in Groom this week and my DH is helping my dad with some "requires help" projects at the building he's renovating downtown.

The ONE Plant...

..that I didn't put the "Liquid Fence" on last night was, of course, destroyed by the dogs come this morning. Urg. Fortunately, I think I was able to salvage enough of it..... we'll see.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Mama Mia

"Here I go again"...getting MORE plants.

What a WONDERFUL Saturday I had!!! With Ray and the kid's out of town my friend Naomi took me out for the day. We had a fantastic Vietnamese lunch at Sea Dragon. Our conversations on foods we've eaten and/or will never eat led to hot vin lo (which is a soft boiled duck egg containing a partially developed duck embryo. I KNOW... YICKY!! So Naomi is telling me about this dish she heard of and I'm not believing her so she asks our waiter when he comes by about it. Not only did he confirm that this "delicacy" was, in fact, a real dish but he'd eaten some just the night before! Webster's dictionary defines delicacy as 1. Luxuriousness 2. Indulgence 3. Something pleasing to eat that is considered rare and luxurious. I define delicacy and stuff you are NOT supposed to eat.

With our bellies full, we hit the 10-75% off sale at Red Barn Nursery and both stocked up with some fabulous plants.. I know... JUST what we needed - more plants...LOTS more plants. It was SO fun!

I glanced at my watch to see that we were going to have to boogie if we were going to catch the matinee showing of "Mama Mia", a movie both our husbands had NO desire to see (I've NO idea why). I'd never been to the Alamo Drafthouse for a movie. What FUN! And the movie ROCKED!!! All the actors did a fabulous job and this movie has already received the ranking of being an all time fave (along side "The Princess Bride" and "Drop Dead Fred"). The only "bad" part was during the end credits when my corneas were burned out. There are just some things Remington Steele/James Bond shouldn't wear. LOL! Seriously, it was a GREAT, laugh so long and so hard that you cry movie! See it... see it again.

After the movie, we made one more stop for plant shopping and then buzzed out to Naomi's for a bit where I got a couple more wonderful plants!!

On my way home, I stopped by some friend's house and got a couple plants from Rose! Needless to say, I've got plants coming out my ears now... and I'm loving it! Now I've gotta get them all planted, so I better run!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Veggie Garden...Take 2

With the complete lack of rain and record-breaking high temps this past spring, the vegetable garden just never had a chance to do anything. Fortunately, here in Central Texas we get a second growing season and I'm planning on taking full advantage of it.

Pulled the all but dead and non-producing tomato plants as well as the dud cucumber plants. As the jalapeños weren't good and hot this spring, I'm still debating on pulling them as well. We'll see.

To help with the scorching sun and blistering heat, we attached some shade cloth over the garden. Makes walking, or rather crawling, in to do/get things a little challenging but, if it helps (which it seams to be doing) I don't care. Don't have as much a variety of produce as I did for the spring planting but hoping what we do have will come up strong and produce much. I'm itching to do some canning!

Okra (planted from seed in spring) is doing well and producing. No one in our family eats okra but my dad and a friend both like it so I decided to give it a shot.
Green beans (transplants from my boss' garden) are finally starting to grow. They had a minor setback when a rabbit feasted on them a few times eating the plant almost to the ground. It has some flowers though now so hopefully I'll get to have some beans soon!
2 different types of Climbing Spinach - both are still pretty small but have been looking better since the sun shade cloth went up. We'll see how they turn out.
Chili Pequin plant needs to be transplanted. It has been getting crowed by the jalepeños and okra but is doing well.
Jalepeños may or may not be pulled and new ones planted. They just aren't as hot as we like them.
Poblano Pepper is producing but they are little peppers. I should have planted more of these as I've yet to have enough at any time to make my most yummy Creamy Poblano Soup.
Tomato plant babies in a couple of heat loving varieties including "Solar Fire" are off to a strong start. I don't know how well they will can but right now, I'll just be tickled to have some maters. I'll attempt the heirlooms and such again next spring.
Herbs continue growing strong. The herbs I'm currently growing include: Mediterranean Oregano, Lemon Balm, Garlic Chives, Garlic, Purple Ruffle Basil, Thyme, Rosemary, Sweet Basil, Catnip, Dill, Spearmint, and Sage.

I got some swiss chard babies the other day and those will go into the ground. I'm also going to try some more spinach and cucumber seeds as well.

Anyway, that what's growing in the veggie garden right now. Happy gardening!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

14th Annual Pond Tour a Success!

Someone recently asked what my role was in the planning of the pond tour this year and instead of hearing THAT question, my brain translated it to "what are you?" to which I found myself singing, "I'm a little teapot..." Yeah, it is very good thing that the pond tour is finally over 'cause my brain is TOAST!

I was only able to make it to 14 of the 28 locations this year but had an absolutely wonderful time! I SO wanted to just pluck some of these ponds/yards out of their present location and place them in my yard. SOOOOOO beautiful they all were and I'm very thankful to those who were kind enough to open their yards to between 400-600+ people this past weekend. Also, huge thanks to all the volunteers who gave of their time so selflessly to help make this year's tour the success it was. I'm also so very tickled that my parents were able to visit with us this past weekend and join us on the tour.

Despite only making it to 1/2 the stops, I still managed to take almost 300 photos. (Okay, it's not as bad as it sounds. Our camera has been acting up and so there were many photos that I took several shots of so as to, hopefully, guarantee at least one would turn out. Anyway, I wanted to share some of the photos from this year's tour with you. I've got it pared down to just a few of my favorites and also tried to keep them water garden related (you find yourself taking pix of all types of things... plants, critters, etc...). I know, it LOOKS like several photos, but really....when you're talking about a few out of 300 what did you expect?

I hope you enjoy these pictures as much as I enjoyed being a part of this year's pond tour.