Saturday, September 29, 2007


Today is my grandmother's 90th birthday!

Nana is an amazing woman. I am so lucky to have her genes running around in my body!

She is a beautiful, funny, smart, loving, interested, devout woman.

I cherish the stories of her life that she shares with me. She has helped build so many, many wonderful memories in my life.

Nana and Poppop's marriage was the best testament to everlasting romantic love that I have ever witnessed. She is always full of advice for me, and her other grandchildren, about how to keep our marriages strong (always wear lipstick & always wear a pretty nightgown to bed are my favorites).

Nana has 2 children, 7 grandchildren, and 16 (soon to be 17) great-grandchildren. She is well loved!!

Nana is coming to my mom and dad's for a visit this week. I can't wait to see her and give her a huge birthday hug. She has requested her favorite cake from me - White cake with lemon filling and coconut icing. We'll spend a couple of days shopping, visiting, and of course eating really great food.

Nana with her 16 great-grandchildren:

Happy birthday Nana! I love you more than I could ever say!!!!!!!!

Friday, September 28, 2007


I made one of my favorite soups for dinner tonight. I won't lie to you and say that it is everyone's favorite, but we all ate it, and some of us really enjoyed it. Many people who I've made this for before have asked for the recipe, so I know I am not the only one who thinks it's delicious. I made a double batch, but I'll give you the recipe for the single.

Roasted Winter Squash/Apple Soup:

1 large butternut squash (about 2 1/2 lbs)
2 onions
2 firm, tart apples
3 cloves garlic
2 Tbls olive oil
salt, pepper, chili powder
4 - 5 cups chicken broth

peel and seed the squash and cut it into chunks

peel and quarter the onions (I only had one very large onion tonight so that's all I used. It was fine. I think 2 per batch is a little much for our tastes)

peel the garlic

peel, core, and quarter the apples

toss all in a roasting pan with the olive oil and spices to taste

roast in a 400* oven for 45 minutes or until all veggies are very soft.
stir every 15 minutes

Cool slightly - put into blender or food processor to puree in batches - add some broth to make pureeing easier

Pour into a large pot. Add enough broth to make it the consistency you like.

Heat, serve, and enjoy!

This soup keeps really well in a crock pot so it's great for a party or holiday buffet. It also freezes great so go ahead and make a double batch to enjoy later.


Thursday, September 27, 2007


Tommy and I made one of our favorite desserts this afternoon.

It is really easy to make and tastes amazingly delicious.

Give it a try!

It needs to be made ahead of time and makes a lot of servings, so it's a great choice for when you're having company over. You don't need to wait for company though, because it keeps fine in the fridge for a couple of days and the leftovers are wonderful.


2 3oz pkgs instant vanilla pudding (I buy this in bulk and I think I use 1 cup dry mix)

3 cups milk

8oz cool whip (I use homemade whipped cream that I sweeten slightly with powdered sugar and vanilla)

1 box graham crackers

mix pudding mix and milk
when it starts to thicken, fold in whipped cream/cool whip

lay graham crackers out in a 9x13 pan (I break some up to get them to all fit in a single layer)

top with 1/2 pudding mix

make another layer of crackers

top with second 1/2 of pudding

make a last layer of crackers

1/3 cup butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
4 Tbls milk or cream

mix butter with sugar and cocoa until well combined
stir in milk until it is the right consistency (it needs to be a little softer than regular icing)

spread on top of the crackers

cover and refrigerate for a couple of hours before you dig in to give the crackers time to soften

This is pretty rich and you can get by on serving small portions to make it last. It packs great in lunches too.


Monday, September 24, 2007


Our weekly menu:

Monday: Tacos and Caramel Apple Salad

I have been using the recipe for taco filling from the Hillbilly Housewife website. It is really delicious! Much better than the taco meat I used to make.

Tuesday: Texas Style Breakfast Casserole - Homemade wholewheat toast - fruit plate

Wednesday: Beef and Noodles - Tossed Salad with ranch dressing - steamed cauliflower

Thursday: Roasted Squash/Apple Soup - Homemade wheat rolls - Cheese and Fruit

Friday: Homemade pizzas

Saturday: Stuffed Shells - Tossed Salad - Homemade Italian Bread

Sunday: Roasted Chicken - Mashed Potatoes - Corn - Green Beans - Dinner Rolls

It's not gourmet food, but it's yummy & satisfying, and it's homemade!!


Sunday, September 23, 2007


I am so excited that fall is finally here!

It doesn't necessarily feel like fall right now. We had to put our air conditioning on yesterday it got so hot and humid. The nights are getting much cooler though, so I know the heat is not going to last for too much longer.

We only have a couple of trees in our yard showing any signs of fall, but of course I went out and took a couple of pictures to share. There will be many more to post in the coming weeks. I think it is the prettiest time around here.

I planned out my weekly menu this afternoon while I was watching the football game (I'll post the menu tomorrow). One of the desserts that I am planning on making sometime this week is called "Frost on the Pumpkin Pie". Isn't that an awesome name? How could I not try it!
In honor of the first day of fall, I thought I'd post the recipe tonight. I promise to post a picture of it later when I actually make it.
The recipe comes from a Gooseberry Patch cookbook called "Fall, Family, & Friends"

1/4 cup butter, melted
1 1/2 cup gingersnap cookies, crushed
15-oz can pumpkin
1 pint vanilla ice cream
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
8-oz container of cool whip:thawed

mix butter and cookie crumbs together and press into an ungreased 9" pie plate
combine pumpkin, ice cream, sugar and spice
blend until smooth
fold in whipped topping
pour into crust
freeze for several hours
let stand at room temp for 20-25 minutes before serving

I imagine that I'll reduce or leave out the powdered sugar and I'll probably make fresh whipped cream instead of using cool whip. A topping of some more crushed cookies will probably be called for too. I'll be sure to post how it works. It sure sounds good!

Happy Autumn!!

Monday, September 17, 2007


Billy's driving! He went and took the written test for his permit last week and passed on the first try. Now he gets 6 months to drive around with Doug and I.

This is our 3rd teenager learning how to drive. It really is getting easier! When I got in the car for the first time with Sarah, I thought for sure that I would never make it out alive. No offense Sarah!! It was just my first experience driving with one of my precious babies.

It is an awesome responsibility teaching someone to drive. I am so happy that it is Doug and I teaching the kids and not some random driving instructor! We get a minimum of 50 hours of our teenagers undivided attention. It is such a great opportunity to talk to them about being safe, considerate, respectful, and patient. Values that we think are important in a driver, and are missing in so many who are on the roads today.

Billy is really having a blast driving! He's been looking forward to it for a long time. He is pretty relaxed behind the wheel. Maybe it has something to do with the countless hours he has spent behind the wheel of our riding lawn mower!

While we were driving over the weekend I saw this beautiful view and just had to have Billy pull over so that I could take some pictures. It is in the parking lot of a local shopping mall. You never know where you'll find amazing beauty!!

Finally, I have been given a "You Make Me Smile Award" by a blogging friend Bren . Thank you Bren! I love reading other people's blogs and am inspired by so many of them. Bren has such a friendly way about her in her posts. I feel like I've known her for a long time.

I never would have believed it if someone told me a couple of years ago that I would be making friends on the internet. It always seemed like such a shady thing. A thing to warn your children against doing. Well, I have met so many wonderful friends lately on the internet, who I feel like I know better than some of my "in real life" friends. I am thankful for the opportunity to widen my horizons without having to leave my wonderful home to travel all over the country!

Who knows, maybe some day, I'll take a road trip and meet a few of my new friends.

Thursday, September 13, 2007


Boy time flies! I can't believe it's been 4 days since I posted.

We're all recovering from the weekend of parties celebrating Billy's 16th birthday. Our gift to him was a new mountain bike. He didn't even ask for one so it was a complete surprise. He loves to go on really long bike rides on the trails around our farm. His old bike has been broken for a long time. He's been using a bike that someone trash picked for me a couple of years ago. My bike is a street bike so it's not particularly suited to the kind of riding that Billy likes to do. He was SO excited when we gave him the bike. It has gotten a ton of use already. On Tuesday he had fun taking a long ride in the rain. Imagine my happy surprise when he came home and washed and dried the bike!!

Billy had 2 parties over the weekend. The first one Friday night was with his friends. He had 16 kids over for pizza, chips, fruit, veggies and dip, lots of candy, and this amazing birthday cake.

I got the recipe here . It is a chocolate torte. It was sinfully delicious. I made two because we had quite a crowd. We only ended up eating one at the party, so we have thoroughly enjoyed the 2nd one all week. The blog that I found the recipe on is my favorite blog I have ever read. If you enjoy reading blogs, it is one you should definitely check out if you haven't already. You can find it here .

Billy's second party was on Sunday and it was with my family. We had a wonderful time visiting and eating as usual.

Billy picked the menu:

Oven-fried chicken, roasted potatoes, macaroni and cheese, steamed broccoli, candied carrots, and dinner rolls. DELICIOUS!!

Instead of a cake, he requested pies.

My mom made pumpkin and shoo-fly and I made apple. I have eaten a little of each and would have a very hard time picking a favorite!

Finally, I want to share with you the newest member of our motorized vehicle family. A new (to us) Ford 9N tractor. Doug bid on it on EBay and won on Sunday night. He and a friend drove 2 1/2 hours each way last night to pick it up (and only got pulled over by the police once).

We've been without a tractor for many years. The old one died a long time ago and we've never been able to replace it until now. Needless to say, Doug is out in the driveway working on it now. It has a couple of problems, but with parts from our old one, I'm sure Doug will make it as good as new in no time.

Okay, now for the most exciting news yet...............I am wearing a sweatshirt! It's actually chilly tonight! Yeah!!!!


Monday, September 10, 2007


Wow! Where do the years go? My 3rd child is 16 years old! We'll be going sometime this week for Billy to take the written test for a driving permit. Wow!

In honor of Billy's 16th birthday, I present to you 16 interesting, cool things about Billy.

1. He is really tall and really skinny.

2. He is known as "Billy" "Bill" "Willy" "B" "Biddy" "William" and sometimes when I really want to get his attention "William James"

3. He had a blankie that he called an iggy. I think it is still in his dresser drawer. It no longer holds any resemblance to a blanket.

4. He "drove" my van when he was 2 years old and crashed into a car and a truck in our driveway. Thank the Lord, no one was hurt except the cars.

5. He can juggle.

6. He was the first person in our family to be able to solve the rubik's cube.

7. He is a lacrosse goalie and used to be an ice hockey goalie.

8. He likes to ride our horse Jasper.

9. He has bright red hair.

10. He LOVES to golf.

11. He LOVES to sleep.

12. He still eats like an infant (a little bit every hour and a half)

13. He can do amazing flips on our trampoline (see picture above)

14. He plays the guitar.

15. He's twitchy!

16. He is a wonderful, friendly, fun, funny, loving son. We love you Billy!!!!


Thursday, September 6, 2007


Okay, so it's been four days. I have been trying to get back into some kind of routine after our vacation. It's not been too easy! I really need to work on some kind of schedule for my days. Even if it's a loose schedule, I think it will help me not to feel like I am running around in circles never really accomplishing anything. Billy and Tommy have gotten back to their school work and the extra activities are beginning to start.

Before we say goodbye for good to summer though I wanted to post just a couple more pics of our wonderful vacation.

Did I mention, we enjoy LOTS of great food on our vacations? Our family is not shy about our joy of eating. We enjoyed all of our meals together.

My brother and his precious son Mason on a morning walk at the beach.

A really cool creation that Andrew made one afternoon. Look close and you'll see that he used all different kinds of crab shells.

We were lucky to be at the beach during a full moon. Because of this, we had wonderful sand bars each day. We'd wait until the perfect moment and then move all of our chairs out there and pretend like we were on our very own island until the tide came in again.

Andrew, our fisherman.

Okay, time to move on and think about fall.

Football season starts tonight!!

Sunday, September 2, 2007


It seems like I can only post 5 pictures at a time. I tried to pick a good assortment. I'll post more tomorrow.

We had an amazing time on this vacation! We had PERFECT weather. It was totally relaxing and rejuvenating. We are so blessed to be able to get away like this together.

We spent hours on the beach every day.

The wonderful, generous couple who we rent the house from took our family out on their boat several times. They took the kids tubing behind the boat 2 different times. I rode in the boat one of these times and was really scared. I'm not really a boat person! Doug and the kids went on a long sightseeing boat ride one afternoon. They went fishing for croaker and spot another day. While they were out that time, they were treated to lots of sightings of mama and baby dolphins swimming right next to the boat! One evening Doug, Andrew, and Billy went out with the owner of our house to go snapper blue fishing. Apparently they had the time of their lives!! It sounded REALLY scary to me, but I am so thankful that they had this great opportunity.

We enjoyed tons of bike rides, LOTS of ice cream, card games, mini golf, regular golf, watching the ferry cross back and forth all day long, great food, watching movies, playing playdough, digging holes in the sand, collecting shells and pretty rocks and basically revelling in our get- away.

We're already looking forward to next June when we'll be going back.

Saturday, September 1, 2007


I am so excited that September is here. It's not officially fall yet, but to me, once September begins, summer is over. Fall is absolutely my favorite season. It was still a little warm today, but the temps tonight are supposed to go down to the mid 50's. Once I saw that prediction this morning, I decided it was going to be the perfect day to have soup and bread for dinner. During the winter we have soup at least once a week. I've really missed having this simple supper.

Hamburger Vegetable Soup
Lynne's Cornbread
Fruit Salad

My cornbread recipe comes from my good friend Lynne. It really is the best cornbread I've ever made or eaten. Most people who try it agree with me.

Lynne's Cornbread:

3/4 stick butter - melted
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup sour cream
1 cup corn meal
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cups flour

mix all ingredients together
I've baked this in a square pan, a large round pan, and muffin tins.
Use whatever you want.
Bake @ 400 degrees until done. Depending on the size of your pan, anywhere from 20 - 30 minutes. Delicious! Thanks Lynne!

The soup is one of our favorites. It's really tasty. Very kid friendly too (even Tommy likes it).

The recipe is from a really great cookbook that I used to take out of the library all of the time. Last spring I found it in the gift shop of a restaurant and bought a copy for myself. The stories that go along with every chapter are very interesting. If you are a person who, like me, loves reading about food as much as eating it, you'd probably love this book too.

You can order the book for yourself from amazon: here

In the meantime, if you'd like to try this soup, here's the recipe:

Hamburger Vegetable Soup:

2 Tbls butter (I leave this out)
1 onion chopped (I used a half of a large one)
1 lb. ground beef
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 cup diced carrots
1/2 cup diced celery
1 cup diced potatoes
2 cups tomato juice
2 cups milk (I know this sounds weird, but it really is delicious)
1/4 cup flour

Brown meat and onion in butter. Add remaining ingredients except milk and flour and cook until vegetables are tender. (Sometimes I use a crock pot and sometimes I cook it on top of the stove)
Stir in 1 1/2 cup of the milk
Bring to a simmer
Combine the flour with the remaining 1/2 cup milk. Stir until smooth.
Add this to the soup and continue to simmer until thickened.

This tastes wonderful the next day too.

I know everyone probably was expecting some vacation pictures in this post. Well, I am really having trouble deciding which ones to post. I took 204!

As soon as I figure it all out, I'll post them to share.

Have a wonderful evening. I hope you're all enjoying some cool temps too!