Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Sawyer Says

Okay, you probably know by now that Billy and I are huge Lost fans. After we finished watching all of seasons 1 & 2 from the public library's DVDs, we moved on to watching season 3 online. We're hooked and can't wait until season 4 starts in February. And just this morning I read where Lost may be affected by the writers' strike.

At the beginning of the strike, news was that Lost would be okay since season 4 was airing so late. This morning I read that if the strike isn't over soon, it may not air until 2009!

I know people are going to complain about the possibility of the season being delayed and make threats to not watch when it does air, but can a true Lost fan really do that? I may be disappointed, but I like the show enough to wait. And I'll definitely be watching when it comes back on. There are too many unanswered questions to just quit.

In the meantime, I'll just have to start checking out seasons 1 & 2 from the library over and over again until it airs just so I'll get my fix on all my favorite characters. Or I might just have to break down and buy all 3 seasons. They're definitely worth having. Plus, there's so much going on in each episode, you're bound to catch several things you missed out on the first time around.

I'm going to have to bookmark the Lost page on There's all sorts of info on there, including this: Sawyer Nicknames Quiz. We love Sawyer! He's definitely grown on us since the first few episodes. I always look forward to hearing his sarcasm and his nicknames for everyone. I can't say that I have a favorite nickname he's used because he's used so many, but I remembered enough to score 81% on the quiz. Some of the questions are from episodes we haven't seen yet, so I'll have to take it again after we've finished with season 3.

What are some of your favorite Sawyer moments?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

10 Best Games

Today's Ten on Tuesday list is the 10 Best Games - video, board, card, etc. Since I've already made a list of 13 computer games, I'll stick with board and card games today.

1. Apples to Apples - I love this game! I've played it with anywhere from 3 to 9 people and it's always a blast!

2. Nerts - Billy doesn't like this card game, so I have to play it with my parents and my sisters. It's like a speed version of group solitaire.

3. Balderdash- This is a hoot! You come up with crazy definitions or explanations for random initials, people, movies, etc. Always lots of laughs, but you need to have a lot of imagination!

4. Scrabble - Classic.

5. Scattergories - Another classic. Bible Scattergories is fun too, but quite a bit harder. Especially when playing against a seminary student... :o)

6. Phase 10 (and Phase 10 Dice) - I love playing this with Caleb now. He loves games as much as I do. This was his first "big person" game to learn. Once I've been playing the dice game for a while, though, it's hard to switch gears to the cards again.

7. Whoonu - Caleb got this Cranium game last Christmas and we've really enjoyed playing it. You select a card from the four in your hand that you think the "Whoozit" likes best. When all players have submitted their choices, the Whoozit ranks them from least to most favorite. You get points based on your ranking.

8. Trivial Pursuit - So many versions - and I like most of them! My head is full of random facts, so trivia games are perfect for me... I was just thinking the other day how Billy and I need to watch all the LOTR movies, then play our LOTR Trivial Pursuit. Maybe that'll be something good for our New Year's Day party...

9. Mancala - This is a great strategy game for two people. Travis and Wendy taught us to play at a game night our small group had about 6 or 7 years ago.

10. Scopa - (Italian for "sweep") Glenn and Amy taught Billy how to play this card game at that same game night. Scopa cards are hard to come by, but we finally found some. I think we got them on eBay.

Since I'm on a roll, I'll go ahead and add a few more. Then I can count it as my Thursday Thirteen, too.

11. Pocket Farkel - Mr. Ginger and PoMonkey gave us this for Christmas one year. It's a tiny dice game housed in a film canister. It's not like Yahtzee, and there's some strategy involved. It's addicting! I bet Caleb would like this game...

12. Rush Hour - Caleb got this game for his birthday a few years ago. You place little plastic cars on a grid, then move them up and down or back and forth to get a particular car out of the traffic jam. It's a great logic game, but can sometimes be frustrating.

13. Cranium - I can't forget this one! It's not my favorite, but I do like to play. It's been a while. Maybe that will be a good one for New Year's Day...

There are so many more that I didn't include (Imaginiff, Scene It?, Loaded Questions, Rook, Planet Hollywood, etc.), but I need to stop now. What are some of your favorite games?

Monday, November 26, 2007


Caleb learned to ride on two wheels the day after Thanksgiving. Once he got the hang of it, he didn't want to stop - and he grinned from ear to ear the whole time he was riding.

For more interpretations of "two", check out Photo Friday.

Menu Plan Monday #8

I took last week off from cooking since we were going to be traveling. I didn't want any leftovers hanging around in the 'fridge while we were gone, so we had quick-fixes. I had one sweet potato and one baking potato left and didn't want them to go bad, so we shared them last Monday night. Jacob and I had baked potato with butter, Ranch dressing, and Tony's; Billy and Caleb had baked sweet potato with butter and brown sugar. I don't remember what we had Tuesday night...

We had chicken & sausage gumbo Wednesday at Billy's parents' house. It was delicious! For dessert we had my birthday cake - brown sugar pound cake. It was soooo good, very mild. I couldn't eat much of the icing; it was too sweet.

Our Thanksgiving menu consisted of turkey, ham, cornbread dressing, sweet potato casserole (2/3 topped with pecans, 1/3 topped with marshmallows), corn casserole, broccoli cheese casserole, green beans, green peas, candied yams, cranberry sauce (whole berry and jellied), cranberry relish (which I totally missed!), rolls, a marinated salad, and black and green olives. For dessert there was pecan pie, Nanny's fudge pie (old family recipe), fudge, pumpkin cheesecake trifle, two fruit salads, and brown sugar pound cake. Pre-lunch, we all snacked on cheese straws; after dessert, we all snacked on spinach dip with pretzels and chips. (I feel like I'm forgetting something, there's so much to remember!)

Friday night we ate leftovers; Saturday night, burgers and fries.

Last night after we got home, I was really in the mood to have Chinese food delivered, but I couldn't find our old take-out menus and I couldn't find any local restaurants online. I didn't want Billy to have to get out and pick something up from Panda Express since it was raining and he had been driving in it all day, so we had chili cheese corn dogs.

Here's the plan for this week:

Monday: Chicken Pot Pie

Tuesday: leftovers

Wednesday: Billy's First Prize Chili (Are you jealous?!?)

Thursday: leftovers

Friday: take out from Panda Express (I'm really wanting some Mandarin Chicken!)

Saturday: potluck appetizers (Our small group from church will be meeting for our combination Thanksgiving/Christmas gathering. Billy thought it would be a good idea for everyone to bring their favorite holiday appetizer to share. I'm going to make my Hot & Spicy Artichoke Dip, but I can't decide if I'm going to take toasted French bread slices or crackers for it. I'd like to take something else, too, but I'm not sure what.)

Sunday: sandwiches

For more menu inspiration, check out I'm an Organizing Junkie.

Friday, November 16, 2007

I didn't see that coming!

That should be the tagline for Lost. I didn't see that coming! Billy and I have said that at the end of many episodes - and often during them. There have also been some moments where I have been so intensely focused on the show that something happens and makes me jump!

We've finished watching the first 2 seasons and are now watching season 3 online. We'll definitely be caught up in time to watch season 4 when it begins in early February. It comes on Wednesday nights at 9 p.m. (CST), so we've decided to temporarily give up CSI: NY when the new season of Lost starts airing. It's that good.

Neither Billy nor I can remember a television show that had us so entranced. In fact, we're wondering what we're going to do when we can only watch one episode a week instead of several...

You've got to check this out!

Billy was searching on iTunes Saturday evening and found the band ApologetiX. They're great! They're like the Weird Al of Christian music! We listened to several music samples and kept saying how we had to share them with some friends we know would love it: Taran, PoMonkey, Mr. Ginger, Jay and Allison,... I think Cindy and Geeding would get a kick out of them, too!

If you like music from the 70's, 80's, and 90's, you've got to check them out. Listen to some samples on iTunes. Read some lyrics. Laugh and sing along.


Rough-riding, July 1, 2006

The boys love to ride in their Jeep at Billy's parents' house. Jacob is so strong-willed and independent, I was sure he'd have been fighting Caleb for driving rights. Instead, he'd rather ride shotgun all the time. I'm sure Caleb's too big for it now, so I guess Jacob will have to learn to drive if he wants to ride anymore.

I asked him the other day if he was going to play with the Jeep when we're there for Thanksgiving next week. He said no because there are probably spiders in it. I told him I bet Papaw would get them all out for him. (Hint, hint, Papaw. Please check the fort, too.) ;o)

Check out more "travel"-inspired photos at Photo Friday.

Creamy Mushroom & Barley Soup

I've been following along with my soup-night plan pretty well. For various reasons it doesn't always end up being Wednesday night, and I missed one week, but that's fine. Of the 13 Soups I want to make this fall/winter, I've made 6: Vegetable Beef Soup, Chicken & Dumplings, Baked Potato Soup, Taco Soup, Chicken & Sausage Gumbo, and Creamy Mushroom & Barley Soup (in that order).

The Creamy Mushroom & Barley Soup was a new recipe - a combination of one I found at All Recipes and some of my own tweaking. Click the recipe link for the original; here's my variation:

6 Tbsp. margarine
4 c. chopped Baby Bella mushrooms (One package of pre-sliced mushrooms will do.)
3 green onions, finely chopped
1 large clove garlic, pressed
4 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 (14.5-oz.) cans chicken broth (or use your own if you have it)
1/2 c. quick-cooking barley (I added 3/4 c., which seemed a bit much.)
1 pint half-and-half
Tony's (to taste)

Melt margarine in 4-qt. soup pot over medium-high heat. Saute mushrooms, green onions, and garlic for about 5 minutes, or until soft. Mix in flour until smooth. Gradually stir in chicken broth. Bring just to a boil and add barley. Cook, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes. Reduce heat to low. After boiling ceases, stir in half-and-half; season with Tony's. Continue stirring until soup is heated through, but do not boil.

This soup was really quick and easy - and it has a wonderful flavor! With the barley, it's very filling, too. I doubled the original recipe, and we had enough for Billy to take leftover soup for lunch today. Billy, Jacob, and I loved it; Caleb wasn't impressed and didn't eat much of it.

We paired it with some Sunflower Bread from Panera Bread. I really wanted Asiago Cheese Bread, but they were out by the time we got there. I didn't want Tomato Basil again (which we had with our Baked Potato Soup), so I asked the lady helping us if she had ever tried Sunflower. She hadn't, so she offered to let me sample it. She put the loaf in the slicer and gave Caleb, Jacob, and me each a thick slice. The crust was crispy and sweet; the middle was soft and nutty. Caleb and I loved it. Not surprisingly, Jacob didn't. He likes nuts, but not mixed in things. I told her I'd take the rest of the loaf, but she insisted on slicing the other remaining loaf for me instead. Then she loaded us down with 6 huge cookies - for FREE! She said they had baked a little too long and would only have been put out if all the other ones had sold. We ended up with 3 Chocolate Duet with Walnut cookies and 3 Chocolate Chippers. They were a little crunchy, but still really good.

Tonight we'll use the extra package of mushrooms I bought, along with black olives and mozzarella cheese, on some delicious homemade pizza. I can't wait!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Please join me in my nerdiness.

By testing your vocabulary and learning new words, you can help feed the hungry.

The sponsors that appear at the bottom of the screen have signed on to donate funds to help the United Nations provide Free Rice to poverty-stricken countries.

I've played the last two days, donating about 2,400 grains of rice. Yes, I'm a nerd. I love word and vocabulary games. I like to try to take apart each word, to examine the prefix, root, and suffix, to determine its meaning. I've been hovering around levels 37 and 38. I've got more to do with my time, but the nerd in me finds this too much fun to ignore. At least I'm helping someone out while I'm doing it.

ht: Bag of Nothing

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Yesterday morning I opened the front door to unlock the screen door. Something scary was on the screen door handle, but I wasn't exactly sure what it was. It looked like it might have been a locust shell, but not quite. I shut the front door and left it alone for a while.

Not long after, I opened to door again to check it. I was going to use a shoe to knock it off the handle, then go on about my business. It had moved to a different spot, still near the handle. Ugh! It was a big, fat, ugly spider! I would've guessed its body to be about a half-inch by three-quarters. I shuddered and whimpered about what I needed to do. Then I shut the front door again and went to get the large can of Black Flag insecticide.

Jacob had woken up by this time and was sitting on the couch watching all the goings-on. "What are you doing?"

"I've got to kill a really big spider." I shuddered again. Chills ran up my spine and down my arms. I took the cap off and took aim from as close as I dared to get. I soaked that spider! It started moving, but it didn't die. I fired again and again and again. (No joking!) Still, it stayed there.

Finally I got brave enough and hit at it with a shoe. I missed it, but got enough of its web to make it fall. Dropping the shoe, I squealed quietly and danced around and shuddered. Jacob was getting a kick out of all this, sitting there safely on the couch. I grabbed the shoe again. This time I hit it, dropping the shoe again in the process.

The spider curled up, tangled in its dangling web, and swung back and forth. I squealed and danced and shuddered some more. My arms were covered with chill bumps, but they were fiery-feeling, not cold.

Jacob asked me, "Did you kill it yet?" Then he joined me in my stare-fest. I was trying to decide what to do next.

About that time, Caleb came walking around the corner. He saw the can of bug spray on the floor and asked what I was doing. I pointed out the dead spider to him, and he joined us in watching it sway back and forth. I shuddered again, but my squealing and dancing were done.

We stood and watched for about a minute or so, then I grabbed the shoe once more and used it to flip the latch on the screen door, unlocking it for later that afternoon when Billy came home. The spider, still curled up, hung there.

I considered opening the door and knocking it outside, but I had used up all the bravery I had. I decided Billy could knock it off when he got home. (He did.) Caleb decided he would check the day's temperature on instead of our outdoor thermometer, which is right outside that door.

This morning, when I went to open the door again, I was extra cautious. I shuddered and fiery chills ran up my back and down my arms again. I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw there was no spider clinging to the handle of the screen door. I casually flipped the lock and closed the front door again.

A little later it was math time. Caleb was also cautious. He wouldn't open the door himself, but called me to do it. I told him I had already checked, that there was no spider on the handle. I opened the door and started to step out.

There was another big, fat, ugly spider! It was hanging in the center of its web, built on the side of the front "porch" between the bricks and the post where our thermometer hangs. I shuddered and those fiery chills swept through me again. Ugh! This time I left it alone. My bravery hadn't recovered from the day before. I shut and locked the front door. Caleb check the temperature on again.

I've peeked out the window several times, and every time that big, fat, ugly spider has been hanging there, waiting... And I shudder and get the fiery chills.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Menu Plan Monday #7

Monday: 10-Minute BBQ Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches, seasoned fries

Tuesday: sandwiches (I have a meeting.)

Wednesday: homemade pizza (If there's some left over pork, I might use it on one...)

Thursday: Creamy Mushroom Soup, bread from Panera (I really hope they have a loaf of Asiago Cheese Bread...)

Friday: leftovers

Saturday: leftovers

Sunday: sandwiches

For more menu inspiration, check out I'm an Organizing Junkie.

Pie and Praise

We'll be having our annual pre-Thanksgiving "Pie and Praise" night after AWANA Sunday night. This year they're asking people to bring two pies - one to share and one to sell. The pies for sale (a minimum $10 donation for each one) will benefit the church benevolence fund, which is used to take care of families in our church during times of need.

Last year I made a Chocolate Pecan Lattice Tart. This year I'm thinking about making a couple of sweet potato pies. I made my first one last fall and we really enjoyed it. I'm considering topping them (or at least the one for sharing) with some chopped pecans, but I haven't fully made up my mind on that yet. What do you think?

Friday, November 9, 2007


from the "Underzone" at the Dallas Zoo

Snakes scare me to death. I usually hyperventilate when I happen upon one, which isn't very often - thank goodness!

Taran, do you remember our college mission trip to Memphis? You and I were teamed up to canvas one part of a neighborhood. As we were walking along the sidewalk, I bent over to look at a small stick lying in our path. (Why?!? I have no idea!) Only it wasn't a stick; it was a baby snake. I started hyperventilating, but calmed down once we were past it. When we made our return trip, you had me stay back while you walked ahead to see if it was still there. Once you found it, you told me to cross the street. Thankfully the rest of our walk back to the church was uneventful.

I've managed to overcome some of my fear of snakes. I can actually look at them when I go to the zoo now. And I touched one this spring when the boys and I went with my mom and Seth to their local zoo. Caleb and Jacob went right up and touched it; I had to work up to it, and I probably won't do it again. (It was surprisingly soft, though.) I think my mom touched it, too, but Seth wouldn't.

European Glass Lizard, Louisiana Purchase Gardens & Zoo, Monroe, LA

Lizards are supposed to have legs, and this one had none. To me, that's a snake! It looks kind of happy, doesn't it?

For more interpretations of "dangerous", check out Photo Friday.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

13 Pictures from the Dallas Arboretum

I don't know what happened to make this so tiny! It was bigger when I first posted it. Click "View all images" to actually see them.

Now it's back to normal. Go figure...

Tiny again. I can't figure this out! Okay, if the slide show is showing up really small on your screen, click "View all images" to see what's actually there. If it's big enough to see, you've hit the jackpot!

First off, I want to apologize for the music. Try as I might, I couldn't get it off my slide show. If you like it, great; if you don't, just mute your speakers. Maybe I'll figure all that out before I put together another slide show. Well, I figured out how to get the music off!

I took the boys to the arboretum last month so they could visit the pumpkin patch, the hay bale maze, and The Amazing Chocolate Tree (which turned out not to be so amazing after all). After wandering around for an hour and a half, we finally found the chocolate tree exhibit. We passed it up in our excitement to get to the pumpkin patch and hay bale maze, which were right next to it. I guess I was looking for a huge tree. It ended up being a series of exhibits showing the process of making chocolate, from the pollination by tiny insects to the roasting, grinding, and melting of the beans to the final product. At one stop there were 5 different items to sniff and identify: cocoa beans, coffee beans, vanilla pods, cinnamon sticks, and peppercorns. That was my favorite part. We were all looking forward to the end, where everyone was supposed to get a free sample of Dove chocolate. Not happening. There was nothing. The boys were greatly disappointed. I wish they wouldn't advertise that as part of the exhibit if they aren't going to do it.

The boys forgot all about not getting their chocolate sample, though, when we happened upon the Texas Pioneer Adventure. They thought it was the best part of the day. They got to go inside a Native American teepee and see (and touch) the animal skins hanging inside. They got to climb inside a covered wagon. They were also able to go into 3 pioneer cabins and see what kind of furniture and toys people had way back when. Thankfully that's a permanent exhibit.

In the 4+ years we've lived here, I can't believe I never made it out there until then! I did try to go once by myself in the summer, but the day I had planned to go ended up being rainy so I changed my plans.

We're definitely going to make more trips out there. I'm thinking of getting a membership so we can go whenever we want, and so we can take our families there when they come visit.

I'm eager to see how they'll have it looking for Christmas. Maybe we'll go out again in early December.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Menu Plan Monday #6

I know I'm a day late. It couldn't be helped...

There were some changes last week. We ended up staying home for the weekend, so Friday night I cooked spaghetti and meat sauce and garlic bread. I made more than I had intended: we had leftovers Saturday night, then I had leftovers Sunday night and yesterday for lunch. There's about one serving left for tonight's loser. The winner gets the leftovers from last night. Unfortunately there's not enough for everyone... So, what did we have last night? Read on!

Monday: Crock Pot Steak with Mushroom Gravy, Mashed Potatoes, Steamed Broccoli

Tuesday: leftovers
The boys will probably have peanut butter crackers with apple slices, a few slices of lunch meat, carrot sticks, and chips. They have that for lunch quite a bit, but since we ate out today, they'll enjoy having that tonight. It's one of their favorites.

Wednesday: Chicken & Sausage Gumbo

Thursday: leftovers

Friday: Chili Cheese Corn Dogs, fries

Saturday: Cheese pizza for the boys and the sitter; Billy is taking me out for my birthday (which is actually Sunday). We may go to a new Japanese restaurant that just opened nearby... I hope it's like Shogun back home!

Sunday: sandwiches (AWANA night)

For more mealtime inspiration, check out other menu plans at I'm an Organizing Junkie.

Friday, November 2, 2007


Today's Photo Friday challenge is strength.

Carousel at Dallas Zoo.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

One Thing I Don't Like About Cooler Weather

Cooler weather means bulkier clothing, which means my loads of laundry get bigger, which means I now have to wash and dry 5 or 6 loads a week instead of my usual 4.