Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Imperfectly Beautiful Pillow

I teased you with fringe. I teased you with fabric. Okay, enough suspense. Here's what I did with that fabric and fringe.

First, let me remind you where this fabric came from. If you remember in this post I told you that the fabric was from my old mattress that had been in my Grandparents' house. When I say old, I mean relatively speaking. I mean, it's as old as I am. In mattress years, that's ancient. In human years, not so much. But I digress. So I had this fabric from 1970 and I needed to find some fringe to match it. I thought I was going to have to go with a solid color, but a trip to Hobby Lobby changed my mind quickly. I couldn't believe how well this stuff matched my fabric. I was doing silent (okay, maybe not completely silent) "Woo Hoo!'s" down the aisles of the store. See how pretty this fringe is against that fabric? Anyway, I brought it home and started to work. Now, I thought about hot gluing everything together but I have two dogs who eat everything, so I thought if I didn't want my pillow eaten up for the hot glue hors d'oeuvre I'd better break out the old sewing machine for this project.

I have a love-hate relationship with my sewing machine. See, my college major was Home-Economics with an emphasis in Interior Design. Which means I sewed a lot for four years. You'd think I could remember some of it. Well, some of it I do. Most of it I don't. A lot of good my well-paid-for education did me. I think I fell out of love with it because I had a task-master for a teacher. Dr. Diamond (not her real name...I will spare her good name here...the ones who graduated with me or close to me know exactly who I'm talking about) was very strict on us Home Ec. majors. She would stand over me and my sewing machine and tell me, "That's not good enough, do it again!" I remember one jacket that was my pride and joy, a beautiful, deep amethyst cropped wool jacket that I thought I had sewn exceptionally well. Dr. Diamond had been gone while I finished it, and I had it hanging in her room for her inspection when she returned. Fully expecting an A, I walked in and she began her tirade about how this seam was wrong, and this corner was crooked, and blah, blah, blah. I was devastated. She gave me a B. But you know what? I wore that jacket with pride, because I had made it with my own two hands. It still hangs in my closet to remind me of what I am able to accomplish, but it also reminds me of how I was hardly ever good enough to earn Dr. Diamond's praise.

Fast forward to a few days ago. I was nervous to try sewing again, thinking I wouldn't do it "right." But I stuffed the fear down enough to start on my pillow, hoping I would remember enough to get by. I started by pinning the fringe on one side of the fabric, then sewing it on. I can't tell you how many times I stuck myself with those pins! Then I began to sew both pieces of fabric together. Because the fringe made one piece very bulky, it was extremely hard to keep the line straight. I kept hearing Dr. Diamond over my shoulder..."That's not good enough! That seam is so crooked! Tear it out and do it over!" And then I would hear The Nester's sweet voice (or what I imagine her voice to sound like) saying "It doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful!" And that's what kept me from ripping it out and giving up. I finished it with a little hole in the side to squeeze the pillow form through, then hand stitched it shut. It was a little loose (meaning I had a little more room than I needed for the pillow form), but both my Sweet Husband and I thought it turned out beautiful.It's not perfect, by any means. But I just realized that no one else in the world has one like it and no one ever will. Even when I make one for my sister it will not be exactly like this one. It's a unique memento to remind me of time spent at my Grandparents' house.Now it sits in my house. I think it fits just fine.

Monday, July 28, 2008


When The Nester first posted this idea of having every one do a post about what they have in their home that is imperfectly beautiful there were so many imperfect things I could have posted about. Not so sure about the beautiful part, though. However, I did come up with a couple of ideas I wanted to do...you can read about those here.

I wanted to show you the finished products. What started out as this: Has turned out as this: I love it. I will eventually do another one with the robin's egg picture in it, but for now I love this one.

And I finally finished this project:

But...I really think I'll explain that one in more detail in another post. I will leave you with this, just to whet your appetite:

I know, I'm such a tease. But I realized I had a lot more to say about it than I really wanted to write here. I'll tell you what, since I didn't give you that, I'll give you something you haven't seen yet.

I had to go back to the area where Hobby Lobby is on Tuesday, so to kill some time before I ate lunch with my sweetheart I spent an hour or so roaming around. I found a frame on sale and bought some felt to go in it. Why? Well, ever since this post from Kimba, I have wanted to do something with my sand dollars I found on the beach in Gulf Shores, Alabama a few years ago. They've been languishing in my dresser for three years, poor things. So, I finally decided to do something about it.

I took the glass out of the frame, put the black felt in the back, and very gently hot glued three of my sand dollars to the felt. I thought three would be nice since there are three in our family. How do you like it?

I really like how the white sand dollars stand out against the black felt. I also love how there are two bigger ones and one smaller one, just like my Sweet Husband, me, and Kiddo. Here's a closeup of the three of them together:

I love sand dollars. They are so pretty. I don't even know what they are. Shells? Skeletons? Does anyone know? I'm sure if I really wanted to know I could Google it but if I find out they are actually crab throw-up I probably wouldn't think they are as pretty. Maybe I don't want you to tell me. How could I see this as anything but beautiful?

So that's what I've been up to the past few days. Instead of blogging, it would seem. Sorry it's been a bit since I've posted anything, and I even skipped my beloved "My Husband Rocks!" post. He came home dejected thinking he had done something wrong. Bless his heart.

I'll fill you in on that "tease" in a few days. It turned out so much better than I expected. I'm excited to show you!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Sunday Morning

Psalm 66: 1-9, 20

Shout with joy to God, all the earth!
Sing the glory of his name; make his praise glorious!
Say to God, "How awesome are your deeds!
So great is your power that your enemies cringe before you.
All the earth bows down to you; they sing praise to you,
they sing praise to your name."


Come and see what God has done,
how awesome his works in man's behalf!
He turned the sea into dry land,
they passed through the waters on foot—
come, let us rejoice in him.
He rules forever by his power,
his eyes watch the nations—
let not the rebellious rise up against him.


Praise our God, O peoples,
let the sound of his praise be heard;
he has preserved our lives and kept our feet from slipping.

Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer
or withheld his love from me!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Deja vu

A few years ago my husband got the idea in his head that he wanted a bird. In the house. We had already been down this road with a little cockatiel named Aussie. Windi (our 11 year old Sheltie) hated her guts. So of course, Momma (being me) hated her. No, I didn't hate her. I strongly disliked her, and the feeling was mutual. The little birdie brat would bite my ear, or finger, or whatever appendage she could get a hold of whenever I was trying to be nice to her. Through various circumstances (the main one being me whining that Windi was too traumatized for us to keep the bird), we gave Aussie to some friends at church who took wonderful care of her.

Fast forward a few years. Sweet husband wanted another bird, but one that didn't require as much socialization as cockatiels and other parrot-like birds require. He saw an ad in the paper for a guy selling doves. This was right up his alley, he thought, and I decided I could handle it, too, since the pretty cooing would be nice instead of the annoying squeaks and squawks of the other bird. So, since the guy selling the doves said they really needed to be sold in twos and if we were lucky we might get some baby doves out of the deal, we came home the proud owners of two very pretty doves, whom we named Jonah and Belle. We really couldn't tell the gender of either one of them, but we were hoping. Pretty soon we figured out that we had a matched set when we found eggs in the cage. Oh, the joy! Baby doves!

One thing the dove seller didn't mention (or maybe he did and I wasn't listening) is the fact that doves are extremely, um, for lack of a better term, prolific. Pretty soon we realized that we were going to be blessed many times over with babies. They kept "increasing their number" as King James would say. And kept increasing. Until finally there were 17. Yes, I said 17.

Now, before you have visions of doves flying all over my house (and all that comes with that vision...ahem), let me say that they were all in the office where my husband had built a kind of aviary where they all had plenty of room and were contained in that area of the house.

Soon after realizing we were creating a new ecosystem in our office, it came to my attention that having that many birds in one area (which happened to be my Pampered Chef business area) was not doing my allergies any favors. I stayed sick for about 6 months without realizing what was causing it (duh). When the light bulb finally flickered over my head and I realized what was causing it, we quickly took the huge cage outside and my house was mine and my family's again.

Why am I relating this story to you? Why do I feel compelled to share?

Oh, I don't know...


Excuse me...I need to take a Claritin.

Author's note 7/25/08: To clear any confusion, yes, we had REAL doves that we took out of the house. Hence the beautiful dove in the picture at the top. She was our favorite. I just thought the similarity in the situations was a blog post waiting to happen. : )

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Seeing People

A couple of Sundays ago our pastor preached a message that made me cry. It wasn't a horrible, convicting sermon, just one that made me think, and if I think too much, I usually cry. Maybe I hurt my brain when I think too much.

He gave us this challenge...to see someone as a person that Jesus died for...

Even if the person is not very pretty, or doesn't wear today's style of hair or clothes. See those people as someone Jesus gave up His perfect home...perfect home...to come to this earth and be so brutalized He wasn't recognizable.

See the people who are "invisible" as people that Jesus came to die for. He came because he loved them so much He couldn't stand the thought of spending eternity without them. The people who are your checkout lady at Wal-mart who is having a bad day. Or the hundreds of people you never even see in traffic every day. Or the dude in the drive-thru with his pants hanging down to his knees. He died for them. He DIED for them.

Sometimes it's easy to see the "beautiful" people as lovable, or worthy of Jesus' love. Easy on the eyes, has a beautiful voice, whatever. Well, they must be worthy people, right? As pretty as they may be on the outside, their hearts may be just as full of junk and heartache as one of the "unlovable" ones. We need to see them as people He came to die for as well.

You know who else we need to change our mind's eye about? People who get on our nerves, make us mad, or even who have hurt us. Just because of this doesn't mean Jesus doesn't want them to come to Him. His forgiveness is a precious gift He longs to bestow everyone.

Can you see others like that? Can you see each person, no matter how beautiful or how unlovely, as something God exquisitely crafted? Now let me ask you this...can you see yourself like that?

Can you see yourself as the one that Jesus gave up perfection and angels' adoration to come to this sin-wrecked earth to be abused and killed? Can you see yourself as the one that He can't stand the thought of living eternity without? Can you see yourself as the one He wants to wrap His forgiveness around like a warm blanket on a cold night? Or, because most of us are sweltering right now, can you see yourself as the one He wants to refresh with His peace?

Can you see yourself as one who, like David, would say, "How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!" (Psalm 139:17-18)

Bro. Rick said on that Sunday that we all have a price tag. It's 3.16. I'll let you think about that one, and if you can't figure it out, please let me know and I'll fill you in. But doesn't that sound cheap? On the contrary...it's priceless.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Sunday Morning

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD,

"plans to prosper you and not to harm you,

plans to give you hope and a future.

Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me,

and I will listen to you.

You will seek me and find me

when you seek me with all your heart.

I will be found by you," declares the LORD...

Jeremiah 29:11-14

Friday, July 18, 2008

My Husband Rocks! Friday

How does the week go by so fast? I can't believe it's Friday already! Not that I'm complaining or anything. As it is Friday, it's time for another installment of My Husband Rocks! I'm not complaining about that, either!

This week my husband rocks because he encourages my creative side. Although he does get frustrated at times with my blogging, like when he'd rather me come sit beside him and watch t.v. instead of being glued to the computer, he knows how much creative inspiration I get from all of you. He has graciously given me a spot in the kitchen to set up a craft table...not that it's a permanent location. He saw my creative thoughts churning and wanted to make sure I had an outlet for them. He allows for my Dollar Tree bird obsession, and has even made something to make painting them easier, which I will post a picture of in a minute.

When I come upon something that may be too hard, or I think I can't do, he will not let me continue with those negative thoughts. "You can do anything you want to, Heather!" are his words when I give all the reasons why I can't. He knows I'm afraid of not doing something "right." If I'm not mistaken, he has even uttered The Nester's mantra..."It Doesn't Have to be Perfect to be Beautiful."

Since my Kiddo is with my Mom this weekend, we (okay, I) decided not to cook and went out for supper. He suggested we walk it off in Lowe's. I groaned because I didn't really relish the thought of standing around looking at lumber for his and Kiddo's project, which is what I thought he wanted to do. He only needed to look for something for work, totally unrelated to the project, so after he was done with that I remembered I needed to pick up some things. By the time we left the store his arms were laden with spray paint cans, a nozzle something-or-other, little decorative tiles, a dowel, and some kind of caulk. I didn't have the forethought to grab a basket on the way in, silly me. So the only benefactor of the trip was the person who was least likely inclined to enjoy it. That was a Jane Austen sentence if I ever heard one.

My point in relating that story is this...he loves to encourage my creativity, even if it means walking around Lowe's with his loony wife going "Oh, wait, I need this, too!" Or, "No, that's not the color I want, let's look for another thirty minutes." Okay, I didn't say that, but he understood it.

Thank you, My Sweet, for giving me an outlet. Thank you for understanding that I need something to occupy my time besides laundry and school books and Wal-mart. And thank you for building me this:

I mentioned in a comment or post or something that I might be able to sweet talk my husband into making something to make painting the cheap cheep birds a little easier. It didn't take much sweet talking. Asking him if he'd please build something is like asking me if I'd please eat some Apple Dumplins (and yes, I did leave off the "g" because I live in the South and that's the way we pronounce the food group "dumplings").

I sat down at the computer for a few minutes after we got home and heard his drill whirring away. Thinking he was working on the Kiddo's project, I didn't think anything of it, but then he came in with two of these and I was so happy.

The dowel is just the right size for placing the bird on top of it to paint, and I can paint them without getting my signature fingerprints all over them.

Sweet Husband of mine, You Rock!

Now, the rest of you head on over to Katy Lin at The Great Adventure to check out other chickies who think their husbands rock, too.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

I've been tagged and awarded!

When Rachel awarded me the other day it made me smile, but I didn't think I could pass it on because I don't know 7 people. Well, I know there are "rules" to passing on these awards, but who says I have to follow them? I'm such a rebel.

Then Katy Lin tagged me and that was it. I knew I had to start passing some stuff on. So, here are the rules to the various and sundry things I've got to pass on...

First, the award rules...
1. Put the logo on your blog. (check)

2. Put a link to me (who awarded it to you) on your blog also.(check again)

3. Nominate 7 other bloggers for the award and put links to them also on your blog.

Not seven, but here goes...

  1. Brandi @ Shack on the Rocks. She and I have been chatting up a storm the past few days. She's probably sick of me by now.
  2. Lisa @ The Sparrow's Song. She is a real friend of mine and I love reading her stuff, not to mention laugh at her misadventures!
  3. Allie @ The Pink Potpourri. She has daily categories that are thoughtful, funny, and informative...all of which I thoroughly enjoy!
  4. Well, I don't have a #4. So I'm breaking the rules. But anyone else I might put on here has already received it. So, we'll stick with three. Three is a good number. Right up there with seven.

4. Finally, leave a comment for those you've nominated - so they know they've received a special award.

Now, onto tagging. Here are the rules...

1. Link back to the person who tagged you.

2. Post these rules to your Blog.

3. Share 6 unimportant facts about yourself.

4. Tag people at the end of your entry. (again, I'm rebelling...I'm tagging before I'm facting)

I might add a couple, but if your name is listed above, consider yourself tagged as well! You didn't think you could get that award without having to work for it did you? Just kidding. I will also tag...

  1. Susie @ Bienvenue...
  2. Katie @ Three Blondes and a Redhead
  3. Trixi @ Making it Our Home

Now, for the six unimportant things about moi...

  1. My Kiddo is gone for the weekend.
  2. I have 10 bird feeders and none of them have bird seed in them.
  3. I love watching Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.
  4. My favorite restaurant is Outback Steakhouse.
  5. I love to ride horses.
  6. I got my hair cut yesterday.

Thank you, Rachel and Katy Lin! You both are the beeest! (Said with Nacho Libre accent)

Monday, July 14, 2008

Tissue Paper Decorations

Ever since I did a giveaway of a tissue paper decoration a few weeks ago and showed the pictures of the prize in this post I've had people ask me how I do them. Since they take a while to bake I haven't had time to make one since I duh-leted the pictures of the original one until now. Did you like how I spelled "duh-leted?" Yeah, I made that up myself. Go me.

So, while sweet hubby and kiddo were busy working on their project Saturday, instead of laundry or cleaning or anything truly necessary, I did this sweet little decoration for an equally sweet friend that has been waiting patiently for me to get my tail in gear. So here you go...

You will need some sort of cookie or baking mold. Not like muffin or cake molds. These have to be thin so that the paper can dry sufficiently. I use my Pampered Chef molds and I also found a snowflake mold at World Market for winter decorations. You can find a plethora of molds on eBay if you don't have any. Or you could just forget it all and buy some of mine if I ever get the courage to put some on Etsy.

First, preheat your oven to 200 degrees F. Next, get some tissue paper sheets. Please tell me you know that I'm talking about tissue paper and not toilet tissue. When I was looking for this stuff in bulk I went to two very large stores and asked if they had bulk tissue paper. Both stores directed me to the aisle of huge bundles of toilet tissue (and good grief, we live in the South...we say toilet paper, people!). I wanted to go slap some toile on those people and tell them to get a life. Of course, then they would have been confused between toile and toilet.

Ooh, look, something shiny! Sorry, that's my way of saying I'm getting just a tad distracted.

Back to my instructions. The sheets of tissue paper should be about 20 x 22 or so. The general size you find in the bundle you get in the gift section at the store. By the way, Dollar Tree sells them. For a dollar, no less. I'm going to have to start buying stock in those guys. And if you can catch them, sometimes Sam's sells huge bundles of them. Only don't ask a worker where they are. Ahem.

Man, am I ever going to get around to posting this thing? I seem to be really distractable today for some reason. So here's a picture to help me stay on track...

They don't have to be all pretty and straight, either. I couldn't find my stash, so I just used some crumpled pieces I had taken from a gift bag. Rip the paper into shreds. No rhyme or reason, just rip it up and put in a blender. Make sure you get it smooshed (yes, that is a word, even if I made it up) down to make sure all the paper comes in contact with the blades. Please make sure the blender is unplugged when you're doing this. See the little plug in the left side of the picture? I'm being a good example.

Then add about 1 1/4 cups water to the paper, making sure you pour all around the paper to get it all good and soaked:

And then put the top on and blend for about 20 seconds:

Then when it's good and blended strain it in a mesh strainer or colander. When most of the water is gone you can squeeze most of the rest of the water out.

When you get most of the water out you're ready to put it in your mold. And Please don't look too closely at my fingers or you will see how much I don't take care of them. Which you will immediately do because you people are gluttons for punishment.

This is kind of the tricky part. You have to be patient and be willing to work with the pulp a little for it to spread all the way over the mold. I just sort of drum my fingers over it for a few minutes to get it completely covered. My dogs think someone is at the door when I do this which means they bark their heads off. Oh, the joys of living with Shelties. Ooh, look! An action shot!

See the trivet or whatever under the mold? I like to put something that will keep the mold in place while I'm spreading the pulp out. This helps me not lose my temper.

If you think you won't have enough pulp, keep spreading. And if there are some places where the mold is peeking through, you might have to take some from another thicker spot to cover them.

After you have all the pulp spread out, blot it with a paper towel to get more water off of it. This helps make sure it dries all the way without needing to leave it in the oven too long.

Okay, now it's ready to go in the oven! Check it after about 1 1/2 hours, and if it's not pulling away from the sides and not getting brown spots on it check it after another 15 minutes or so. If it's getting brown spots on it you need to go ahead and take it out because you don't want the paper to burn. When it is completely dry, it will pull away from the sides like this:

And will come up easily from the bottom of the mold. If it doesn't, just leave it in the mold for a little while and it should pull up easily. And the finish product...

Ta-da! Isn't it pretty? I love the pineapple design...it is the symbol of hospitality, did you know that?

Now you can pull out the ol' hot glue gun and pretty it up even more using ribbon, beads, whatever you like. I just like a simple ribbon on this one:

The next one I'm going to do will use another design and use pink and green ribbon for a baby girl's room, and I can't wait to start working on it! I've made so many of these and each one is as individual as the person I give it to.

I hope the recipient of this pretty heart likes it and knows that it comes from my heart.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

God is Good

You are good and do only good...

Psalm 119:68


You are good when You protect me in a life threatening accident

You are good when You send me the man of my dreams

You are good when You create a solution before the panic arises

You are good when You take the cancer away


You are still good when my security is shaken

You are still good when a second child never arrives

You are still good when something precious must be sold

You are still good when some dreams never become reality


Life with You is good...no matter the path it takes

Saturday, July 12, 2008

It's a Smith thing

Growing up in the family I did if you didn't have a few inside jokes you just weren't living. I've been thinking a lot of my family over the past couple of days for some reason and wanted to pass on some of the inside things we shared. Only not the explanations. Just the "punchline," if you will. It won't make a lick of sense to you, unless of course, you fall into one of these categories:

Girl Cousin over the age of 43:

Pizza subs

'86 Corolla: My dream car

Slave labor =)

Sister or Girl Cousin between the ages of 39 and 42:

"How about a nice bowl of chicken soup?" "NOT CHICKEN SOUP, TUNA SOUP, TUNA FISH SALAD!"

"Old man, you know...shpllbbt"

"I do my job every day!"

"Get out of here, Gerald!"

Girl Cousin between the ages of 38 and 39:

"Flippah! FlippAH!"

"Anoshnurshnah...and all of a sudden I heard..."

"I wanna marry huh, dad!"

Boy Cousin between the ages of 36 and 37:

Moon boots and highwaters



Girl Cousin between the ages of 36 and 37:

Bathing in Prell

Waking up to your cousin having deposited her supper all over her, you, your bed...

Matching 70's tube tops

Boy Cousin between the ages of 29 and 31:

"I told you I'd be back, didn't I?"



Girl Cousin between the ages of 25 and 27:

1,323 pictures drawn of me and for me

Your favorite babysitter

All of the Above, as well as any member of the Smith family not recognized:


Now, it's your turn. If you leave a comment (and I REALLY hope you do), leave me just a line from one of your family's private jokes or inside things. Don't explain, just leave the line. I think I'll laugh even harder if you don't tell me what it means.

And you thought I had such thought provoking thoughts. Serves you right.

Friday, July 11, 2008

My Husband Rocks! Friday

I'm so glad Katy Lin at The Great Adventure started this Friday tradition. It always reminds me to think about why I'm so in love with my husband. This week is no exception.

And speaking of My Husband Rocks! Another girl who thinks her husband rocks, too, is having a giveaway for the next few days. And is it a good one. A Hoover Wind Tunnel Bagged Vacuum Cleaner, no less! Woo hoo! I hope I win. Having two Shelties is not conducive to vacuum cleaner health, so we stay in need of a new one. So head over to Sarah Mae's place at Like a Warm Cup of Coffee and join in the fun! Now, on to the rockin'!

My husband rocks because he puts up with me. No matter how bad I get on his nerves, he still loves me. Not that he doesn't want to knock me in the head sometimes. Like when my condition of nightowlism surfaces. What is nightowlism? Well, it is akin to insomnia, but unlike insomnia (which I sometimes get, too), I actually want to be awake. With insomnia I want to be asleep. Both of these conditions require one of two things...either I turn my lamp on to read, or I get up and blog or watch t.v. All of which bugs my husband to no end. He says he doesn't sleep as well when I'm not in the bed with him. I can sort of understand that, since I don't sleep well at all when he's away from home, but maybe that's more because I'm just sure there's an ax murderer just outside the window waiting for me to fall asleep to pounce.

Then there are the times that my hormo...ahem....emotions are not on an even keel. Oh, Lord, how thankful I am for my patient husband. I cringe to think of the times I've put him through blech all in the name of a good hormonal imbalance. Bless his heart. No, really. Bless. His. Heart.

(You know in the South you can get away with saying anything if you put "Bless his/her heart" at the end...like, "She gained a lot of weight after the baby, bless her heart." Or, "She just can't cook like her Momma, bless her heart." Only when I say bless his heart this time I really mean it)

How thankful I am for my precious Man. I love him more than I can say. And even if he never told me that he loved me (which he does every day), I would still know it because of how he loves me.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Italian Chicken Pasta Toss

I am always open to new recipes. If I think something looks good, I'll want to try it out on my family. My family...well, they are not always as open to new things. So when I told my husband about the new recipe I was trying tonight, he said "I'll try it...I'm not too optimistic, but I'll try it." My 8 year old son was about the same..."What does it have that I don't like raw?" Raw? It's not raw, it's cooked, and I told him that. "I know, but what does it have that I don't like raw?" Okay, whatever, I told him a few things and he rolled his eyes. Sigh...oh, why didn't I just fix roast and potatoes and forget this "Let's eat healthier!" thing? Oh, well.

So anyway, I chopped and sliced and diced and stirred and cooked and shredded my little heart out. And let me say, it was a hit. My sweet, new-recipe-wary husband loved it. I believe his exact words were "This one's a keeper." Okay, my 8-year old didn't quite love it that much because all of the vegetables in it he absolutely detests except one. He did like it, though, and I'm confident he won't complain the next time I make it. As long as I go easy on the zucchini and bell pepper on his plate.

Now, to the nutritional value...I looked (after the fact) at the calorie content, and it's only 190 calories per serving, and it makes 6 servings. We ate plenty and had enough for leftovers (I can't WAIT for lunch tomorrow!) and sweet husband and I were completely satisfied. Kiddo, of course, would love to chow down into a Sonic milkshake right about now, but the two grown-ups are good.

Okay, on to the recipe (and I'm sorry I don't have a picture. I wasn't sure we'd like it and I was so busy cutting and all that jazz if I'd tried to take pictures I am absolutely sure I would have cut a finger off. Buy the cookbook listed at the end and you'll see it in all it's colorfulness. Is that even a word?):

Italian Chicken Pasta Toss

6 oz uncooked bow tie pasta (about 3 cups)
2 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 small onion, chopped
1 medium zucchini, sliced
1 small yellow or red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1/2 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch strips
2 tsp. olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, pressed (minced)
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. salt
grated Parmesan cheese (optional) (not really)

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and keep warm. Dice tomatoes, slice zucchini, chop onion, cut bell pepper, and cut chicken into 1-inch strips. (I made it more interesting looking by cutting my zucchini with my Pampered Chef Crinkle Cutter.)

Heat oil in stir fry pan (or nonstick skillet) over medium high heat until hot. Press garlic into skillet. Add chicken and stir fry 5 min. or until chicken is no longer pink. Reduce heat to medium and add onion, zucchini, bell pepper, peas, seasonings and salt. Stir-fry for 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, and stir-fry for another 2 minutes or until heated through, stirring gently.

Remove from heat. Stir in warm pasta. Grate Parmesan cheese over pasta mix. Serve immediately.

Yield: 6 servings
Nutrients per serving: Calories 190; Total fat 3 g; Saturated fat 0 g; Cholesterol 20 mg; Carbohydrates 27 g; Protein 14 g; Sodium 430 mg; Fiber 3 g.

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 1 1/2 starch, 1 meat (1 1/2 carb)

And, let me just say, when that garlic hit that hot olive oil, mmmmm-MMMM! Man, it was smellin' good. It was very pretty and like I said before, very satisfying.

This recipe is from The Pampered Chef(r) Casual Cooking: Easy Recipes for Indoors and Out. You know how I lurve Pampered Chef. This is a great cookbook. It also has one of our favorite salads in it: Strawberry Spinach Salad. And as low calorie as this recipe is, the page before it is Monte Cristo Sandwiches, which have 430 calories and 17 grams of fat per serving. Yeah. We love that one, too. What can I say?

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Say it ain't so!

Sigh...one of the things about ending school at the very beginning of May is the ugly reality right after 4th of July that school is a month away.

Yesterday A Beka was in our area and a friend and I went to get what we needed for the coming year. And while I love getting a head start on buying his books, mooching borrowing from my friends, making sure we're ready...I just don't want to be a grown up just yet. I want to sleep late, not have a schedule, do as I please...oh, wait...I homeschool! I can still do all those things!

Just kidding. I try (that is the operative word) to stay on a schedule during the school year. But I digress. There is still so much of summer left to do, like go to Kat's for a swim, Kiddo's camp, spending time at Grandmother's, visiting his cousin. What have we done all summer? I feel like it's flown by, and I don't have anything to show for it.

Except for some really cute birds. Oh, yeah, that's what I've been doing. And reading Jane Austen. And watching Jane Austen movies for free from the library.

Chicks, chick lit, and chick flicks. Okay, it hasn't been all wasted...

Not to throw a damper on anyone's summer, but all you homeschool peeps out there, when do you plan on starting back?

Monday, July 7, 2008

Hen Party (or, Kimba, this one's for you!)

Ever since reading this post on Kimba's blog, A Soft Place to Land I have wanted to find a little birdie to fix up and decorate with. I knew she got him at a dollar store but wasn't sure which one. Imagine my glee when I went to Dollar Tree one morning and found a whole shelf full of those tacky little birds!

Since I knew my bestest bud, Kat, would like one, too, I bought two little birds. When I got home I realized that I had grabbed two different styles, one of which was not like the one Kimba had. Since I am such a stalker and she's probably going to be very afraid of me after reading this post, I went back to the store and almost returned the "wrong" style, but thought better of it and just bought another little bird.

Came home, spray painted my heart out, and came up with this cute little hen party.

As cute as this is, this birdie bunch will not be together for long because I've promised my sister the "wrong" bird, and of course I'm taking one of the "right" ones to Kat's when I steal blueberries visit next week.

Don't look too closely, though, or you'll see my imperfectly beautiful fingerprint on Carlyn's bird

Which of course just made you look. Before she gets back from her vacation and picks up her little chicky, I'm sure I'll attempt to prime and paint that spot. Or maybe I won't. Maybe I'll call that my signature. Yeah, that's it.

Anyway, in case you're wondering how I did these, all I did was spray paint white primer on them, let them dry, then spray painted them glossy white. And added my fingerprints here and there. Well, not on purpose. I did really well priming and painting them since I had rubber gloves on (oh, my husband is going to have apoplexy when he reads that since they are NOT made from rubber but from some substance I can never remember but should since I'm married to a safety glove man) and could hold them by sticking my fingers in the hole in the bottom of them. That just sounds wrong, but you know exactly what I mean. But when it came time to set them down, I had to do it as gently as I could, even if that meant fingerprints here or there. I bet if I asked really sweetly my husband would build me a dowel kind of thingie to set them on and that way they could stay there after they were painted and I could go about my business without being stuck with a bird on my finger. That sounds bad, too. Maybe I should just quit while I'm ahead.

Thank you, Kimba, for your inspiration and for your welcoming spirit!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

I Lurve Fireworks!

I don't know about you, but the Fourth of July is just not complete for me without some fireworks. Even if it's just a couple of sparklers in the back yard, I have to see some fireworks or I don't feel like the holiday was celebrated appropriately. So, after stuffing ourselves and our small group so full we could hardly move, we dispersed to go to whatever celebration we wanted to. We chose Snowden Grove in Southaven, because it's always a good show there.

Next year we plan on going back to the same spot we had this year, only we'll take the pickup and put the chairs in the bed. As it was, we were in the parking lot of the Parks and Recreation Department along with a gajillion other people who didn't want to walk into Snowden Grove proper.

Kiddo and I sat in front of the van while my sweet husband took over a hundred pictures of the show. Some of them were so good it looked like a professional had taken them. Here are a few for your viewing pleasure (not like you haven't seen some just like these)....

And my personal favorite...

I love the sparkly stars! This was by far the best we've seen at Snowden. Not only can I not hear the National Anthem sung on the Fourth without tearing up, I can't watch fireworks on the Fourth without tearing up. Does that make me a crybaby? Well, so be it. I admit it. I'm a crybaby. But I just get so ding dang patriotic I just can't help myself. Now, my son, well, he has had a problem with fireworks ever since he was a toddler. I have a picture of him sitting with ear protection (like the ones airline workers wear) on while sitting in my Mom's lap when he was two. He doesn't require the ear protection anymore, but he still gets a little anxious when it gets really loud, like it did the other night. It was almost overwhelming to me, so I can imagine he was having a hard time sitting in his chair, not hopping over to my lap. I loved it, though. The louder the better!

I love my country. I love how we celebrate our freedom. I pray that the Lord keeps His hand over us as a country founded on His principles. I think as Christians, that is one privilege we should never take for granted.