Sunday, November 30, 2008

Growing Up

My newest baby is getting to be a big girl. I was looking back at the pictures of when she first arrived in June. She was such a tiny little peanut. Now she's getting big and beautiful, with a definite attitude.

Brooke took these pictures with hopes to send one in to a contest. Of course, she couldn't just take pictures of Kallie. Libby might be jealous.

Oh, those eyes!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

It's 3 PM on Thanksgiving Day.... you know where your turkey is? Here's mine!

Steve's family eats Thanksgiving Dinner at High Noon. In fact, Steve's mom called me at 10:30 this morning saying she was STARVING and couldn't wait until time to eat! Since this was the first Thanksgiving I've hosted in the new house - and only the second Thanksgiving I've EVER hosted - I wanted to take loads of pictures. But I forgot. :::sniff, sob::: So you get my AFTER Thanksgiving pictures!

By 3 PM, we had eaten, cleaned the kitchen, finished taking the meat off the turkey carcass, and I had him in the pot making stock! Here's the cleaned up kitchen....

On my bar below, you can see the pies and other things that didn't have to be refrigerated, covered and lying in wait until we descended again for supper.

And here is my dining room. It was beautifully set with my china and my grandmother's silver. Now all of that is back in the china cabinet and the linens are in the laundry room.

And poor's where she spent Thanksgiving afternoon and evening..... my bed, lying amongst the cats and tissues, because she caught a terrible cold while working as a counselor at "horse camp" earlier this week. It takes Louisiana a while to really get "into" winter - instead, it dips a toe in periodically and we have temperatures ranging from hot to cold and back to hot all within less than a week's time. And everyone comes down with a malady known as "The Crud" because of it.

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. It is my favorite of holidays (and I've been crazily avoiding all the radio stations who have prematurely been playing Christmas music - it makes me feel like poor Thanksgiving is getting pushed aside). Here are a few of the things I'm thankful for this year....

  • my faith - how people make it without Christ, I do not know;
  • my family - how blessed I am with a wonderful husband and great kiddos, my parents and all my siblings, as well as in-laws who love me as though I were a daughter;
  • the members of the armed services who selflessly put themselves in harms' way for our country's sake - thinking of them today brought tears to my eyes;
  • and last, but not least, I'm thankful to be FINISHED building this house! Whew! It took way too long!

What's Cookin'?

Here's my contribution to our Thanksgiving menu:

Steve's mom made:

  • ham
  • sweet potatoes
  • her cornbread dressing
  • fruit salad
  • pumpkin and cherry pies

Steve's sister, Susie, made Brussels sprouts and his other sister, Connie, and her husband brought homemade wheat bread and loaded mashed potatoes.

For recipes, you can click on some of the things above - I've linked to my old recipes or those that are online. The cookies were okay, but not my favorite. They were sort of plain - I think I expected more of a cranberry taste, and I couldn't taste them at all. The molasses overwhelmed them.

I combined recipes for my turkey and it was delicious and juicy. Here's what I did:


1 cup kosher salt

1 cup granulated brown sugar (I just had it and had never used it - you could use regular brown sugar)

4 lemons, quartered

6 sprigs of thyme

4 sprigs of rosemary

small handful of peppercorns

1 15# turkey

First, I dissolved the salt and sugar in 2 gallons of water on the stove, just heating the water enough to melt everything. I used a big brining bag from Williams-Sonoma. You could also put the turkey in any non-reactive container, such as a large stock pot or clean bucket. If your turkey is larger and you need more brine to cover the turkey, use 1/2 cup salt and 1/2 cup brown sugar for every additional gallon of water. Add the lemons and herbs, zip up the bag and put it in the fridge. I put mine in an ice chest with ice because I needed the fridge space for other stuff. Anyway, let the turkey sit in the brine for 24 hours or so, turning the bird over halfway through.

You'll need some turkey broth for the gravy. Heat 1 tbsp vegetable oil in a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Add the turkey neck, heart, and gizzard to the pan and saute just to brown, about a minute. Add:

1 large carrot, coarsely chopped

1 onion, coarsely chopped

1 large stalk of celery, coarsely chopped

1 small bay leaf

Saute the veggies and bay leaf for about 2 minutes. Then add...

4 cups low-salt chicken broth

2 cups water

Bring to a boil; lower the heat to medium-low and simmer until the stock is reduced to 4 cups, about an hour, adding chopped turkey liver to the pan during the last 15 minutes of cooking. Strain the stock into a large measuring cup or clean pot. Separate the meat from the veggies. If you like giblets in your gravy, then chop them and take the meat off the neck and chop it up. If you're like me, you'll pull all this meat off to give to your Standard Poodles.

After your turkey has brined, you'll preheat the oven to 325°, remove the turkey from the brine and rinse well in cold water. Pat dry with a paper towel inside and out. Place breast side up in a heavy roasting pan. Mix 1 stick of butter with 1 tbsp sage and 1 tbsp thyme and a little salt and pepper. With your hands, loosen the breast skin and rub half of the herbed butter under the skin. Rub more on the outside of the bird. Save the rest - you'll melt it and use it for basting. Stuff the inside of the turkey with a lemon or orange, cut into 1/8ths, 1 large onion, cut into 1/8ths, 1 stalk celery, cut into 1" pieces, 1 large carrot, cut into 1" pieces, 2 bay leaves, 2 sprigs of thyme, 2 sprigs rosemary, and 4 sprigs parsley. If you have some fresh sage, shove it in there, too. I didn't have any. You'll also need about 2 cups of chicken broth for basting.

Roast the turkey in the oven for approximately 2 3/4 - 3 hours, basting turkey every hour with alternating stock and melted herbed butter, until internal temperature is 165°. Let rest for 20 minutes.

For gravy:

Pour off pan juices from the turkey. Skim off the fat (there will be a lot because of the butter). Place the roasting pan on 2 stovetop burners over medium heat and heat the pan juice and 1 cup turkey broth and 1 cup white wine to deglaze, scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the remaining cup of broth and bring to a simmer, then transfer to a measuring cup. In a large saucepan, melt 4 tbsp unsalted butter. Stir in 1/4 c flour and stir constantly, making a light roux. Add hot stock to the roux, whisking constantly, then simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes. Add giblets and neck meat to the gravy if you so desire. Or feed it to your Standard Poodles. They will love you for it.

I think the hit of the day was the apple pie, though. I sent a plate of leftovers to the manager of our barn, including a big slice of each of our pies. He called me today and said because of the apple pie, he cleaned all three of our horse stalls out for us! I may make him pie every day! :::grin::: This received rave reviews from everyone - it was delish. It is from a 1997 Better Homes and Gardens magazine. I've saved it all these years. Why didn't I make it before?

Crunchy Caramel Apple Pie

1 recipe Pate Brisee (Short Crust Pastry):
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon granulated white sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, chilled, and cut into 1 inch (2.54 cm) pieces
1/8 to 1/4 ice water

In a food processor, place the flour, salt, and sugar and process until combined. Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal (about 15 seconds). Pour 1/8 cup water in a slow, steady stream, through the feed tube until the dough just holds together when pinched. If necessary, add more water. Do not process more than 30 seconds.

Turn the dough onto your work surface and gather into a ball. Divide the dough in half, flattening each half into a disk, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for about one hour before using. This will chill the butter and relax the gluten in the flour. On a lightly floured board, roll dough into a 12" circle. Transfer to a deep dish pie plate. Trim and crimp edges as desired.

Mix together 1/2 cup sugar, 3 tbsp all-purpose flour, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/2 tsp salt. Take your handy dandy Pampered Chef Apple Peeler/Corer/Slicer and slice up 6 Granny Smith apples. (If you don't have a handy dandy Pampered Chef Apple Peeler/Corer/Slicer, you need one. Call your Pampered Chef consultant today. Seriously!) Toss the apples with the sugar/flour mixture until the apples are all coated, then turn into your pastry-lined pie dish.

Sprinkle with the Crumb Topping, which is a combination of 1 cup packed brown sugar, 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 cup quick cooking oats. Cut into this 1/2 cup butter until it resembles coarse crumbs. Cover the apples with this yummy mixture. To prevent overbrowning, cover edge of pie with foil. Bake at 375° for 25 minutes.

At this point, I evidently stopped reading the recipe, because in typing it here, I realized I skipped a whole step. My pie was only half-baked! LOL! I did NOT cover the edge of my crust with foil, but just opted to watch it. Because my crust wasn't over browned, I was good. Now when reading the original recipe, I see that I was supposed to REMOVE the foil and RETURN THE PIE TO THE OVEN for an additional 25 minutes! ROFL!!!! SO, you can just take it out and eat it "half baked" like we did - and everyone raved over it - or try putting it back in! Whenever you take it out (half-done or fully done), sprinkle it with chopped pecans (I omitted this because my MIL cannot eat pecans) and drizzle the top with 1/4 cup caramel ice cream topping. Because it's just not sweet enough. :::snort::: If you make it fully baked, tell me how it turns out.

I'll be chuckling over this all night long......

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Ladies in Waiting

Yesterday we went on a field trip to the opera. It was good, but the rowdy public school children surrounding our group made it difficult to pay attention. I corrected children who did not belong to me MANY times (and even one teacher because I thought she was one of the naughty children - oops!).

We don't go on many field trips, but this week we had two. Today we ALL (Steve included, which was a treat) to the Renaissance Festival with a group of homeschoolers. A fun time was had by all.

Steve and one of the boys in our group tried wearing a different hat. Hmm...maybe not, guys.

Of course there was jousting.

P. got a bird's eye view! Aren't we glad Steve came along?

Brooke decided to be a Lady in Waiting. She enticed her friend and her sister to join her.

Is this my cowgirl? Really?

Morgan looks so thrilled. Not!

Teeny looked like a lovely gypsy lady.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

A Letter to President Elect Obama

****Disclaimer****The following post is my opinion. I can state it. This is MY blog. You may disagree with me, but if you leave me an ugly comment, it will be deleted. I moderate my comments.

Everyone who knows me knows I'm a poodle person. Standard poodles. Owning three myself makes this an obvious statement.

I belong to a Standard Poodle email group. After last week's election results, someone posted that the Obamas were on the lookout for the "First Dog" and, because of one child's allergy issues, they were perhaps looking at a Doodle - a something crossed with a poodle. I shot off a reply saying I hoped he didn't. I have NOTHING against mixed breeds. But I do have a big problem with people breeding two dissimilar breeds ON PURPOSE (not a "father jumped the fence" issue) and then selling the "designer dogs" with very high price tags. If you want a mixed breed, go to the pound. Or get one of the puppies someone is giving away in front of WalMart. Please don't pay $1000 or more for a mongrel. If you're going to spend the money, get a well bred Poodle or well bred SOMETHING.

Today I discovered a letter from the Golden Retriever Club of America. They have written a letter to President Elect Obama. I hope they mailed it to him. I wanted to post it here, because it says it very well.

Dear President-Elect Obama,
It is well known that you have promised your children a puppy when you move into the White
House. Due to consideration of allergies, it is rumored that the selection may be a Goldendoodle.
As President of the Golden Retriever Club of America, the largest AKC member breed club, I
discourage this choice as well as the selection of any deliberate crossbreeding of AKC breeds.
The current fad is the production of “designer” dogs, most of which are bred without consideration of genetic problems and sold to consumers at outrageous prices.

There are several AKC breeds which are less likely to exacerbate allergies; these breeds may be
found at A Parent Club rescue is also an excellent source
for dogs that, because of varying circumstances, may need a new home. This can be a
wonderful opportunity to obtain a nice dog, with out going through the trials of puppy hood.

I would like to share with you a statement which is published on our web site at
The Golden Retriever Club of America is dedicated to the health and welfare of the Golden Retriever breed while conserving the original breed function - that of a "working retriever." A purebred dog offers to his owner the likelihood that he will be a specific size, shape, color and temperament.

The predictability of a breed comes from selection for traits that are desirable and away from traits that are undesirable. When a breed standard or type is set, the animals within that breed have less heterozygosity than do animals in a random population. The Goldendoodle is nothing more than an expensive mongrel. Because the genetic makeup is diverse from the Poodle genes and the Golden Retriever genes, the resultant first generation (F1) offspring is a complete genetic gamble. The dog may be any size, color, coat texture and temperament. Indeed Goldendoodles do shed. Their coat may be wiry or silky and may mat. Body shape varies with parentage but tends to be lanky and narrow. Behavior varies with the dog and within a litter with some puppies poodle-like in attitude and others somewhat like the Golden Retriever.

The Golden Retriever Club of America is opposed to crossbreeding of dogs and is particularly opposed to the deliberate crossing of Golden Retrievers with any other breed. These crossbreds are a deliberate attempt to mislead the public with the idea that there is an advantage to these designer dogs. The crossbred dogs are prone to all of the genetic diseases of both breeds and offer none of the advantages that owning a purebred dog can afford.

Compared with the problems you will face when you assume office, the selection of a pet is very
minor. However, this choice will have a far-reaching effect in the dog community. I urge you not
to endorse the crossbreeding of any “designer” dog, especially Goldendoodles, by bringing one
into the White House.


Dianne Barnes, President and the GRCA Board of Directors

Well said. Very well said.

Friday, November 7, 2008

How Kittens Homeschool

1. Homeschooling kittens like to start the day with a cup of coffee and a quick check of their email.

I was just sitting cross legged in my chair and Kallie jumped up and laid across my leg. Although I do think she wanted to be close to the coffee cup. She loves to get in my coffee.

2. Kittens like to check the Instructor Guide to make sure they are finishing all their assignments. Kallie was being tutored by Libby, who obviously is an expert.

3. Kittens like to suck a friend's finger while doing their math. Sometimes math can be overwhelming and finger-sucking can help calm you down.

Kallie is a big-time finger sucker. She loves to suck your fingers at night and will hunt under the covers for your hands if you perhaps think you are going to hide them from her. Trust me on this.

4. Kittens always make sure to incorporate naptime in their home school. Naps are good for brain development. Trust Kallie on this one.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

New Bed for the Boss

Last Saturday, OUR new bed arrived. That evening, I took some pictures, but haven't had a chance to post them. This is the first brand new bed Steve and I have ever bought since we've been married (more than 23 years).

Steve was first to try it out.

Do you think he likes it?
Now we need covers to actually FIT it! Do you have any idea how much king sized sheets cost? :::gasp::: I had no idea! Good thing I just got a job!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Baby Shower

My friend and co-Stampin' Up! addict - I mean demonstrator - Kim is having a baby. A third Stampin' Up! person (who is also a Ginger) and I decided to give her a baby shower. The shower was last Sunday, but I'm just getting around to posting this. Sorry. I've been busy.

Here is the card I made for her. I've wanted to make this card forever! The little babies are suspended in the punched window with a length of cord - two babies are cut out and glued back to back with the string in the center, then the cord is taped between the white card and the colored cardstock. The background stamping on the pink and yellow pieces doesn't show up, but it did in real life. I promise.

This scrapbook layout was our last Hostess Club layout. Because our family never takes pumpkin pictures, I knew from the moment I decided on this layout that it would be Kim's.

The shower was a crafty shower. I made scrapbook pages for her to simply add photos to (this is the only one I thought to take a picture of). Others made baby blankets and cards. And one wonderful person brought her an insulated tote filled with frozen dinners! Every new mom needs a friend like that!

Suspended Baby Card Recipe: Stamp Sets: Retired sets Occasionally and Double Line Doodles. Cardstock: Whisper White, Pretty in Pink, Barely Banana, Certainly Celery. Inks: Basic Black Craft. Accessories: Crystal Clear Embossing Powder, Stampin' Markers in Pretty in Pink, Barely Banana, and Certainly Celery, Square Punch, Silver Cord, Stick Strip to hold the whole thing together.

Pumpkin Page Recipe: Stamp Sets: Retired Newsprint Alphabet. Cardstock: Brilliant Blue, Old Olive, Pumpkin Pie, Kraft, Naturals Ivory, Chocolate Chip. Ink: Close to Cocoa, Chocolate Chip, Pumpkin Pie. Accessories: Hemp Twine, Coluzzle Cutting System to cut ovals for the pumpkins. Oval punch and scoring blade for making leaves. Old Olive button and scrap of patterned paper for hidden journaling box.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

On the McDonald's Side

Did you do this today?

You better!

I voted right after getting up this morning. I had to wait about 45 minutes in line because I live on the McDonald's side. Yes, you read that right. When the line finally got into the school cafeteria, there was a large pole with two signs. One pointed to the left that read "This line if you live on the Burger King side of Hwy. #." The other sign pointed to the right said "This line if you live on the McDonald's side of Hwy #." LOL! This is Louisiana, people. We don't need to know no stinkin' "east" and "west."

Okay, in smaller letters, it did say east and west. And, for those who are DYING of curiosity, the line was longer for the McDonald's side of the highway. I guess those folks are just more civic minded than those Burger King guys.

Oh - and did I remind you?