Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Menu Plan Monday - October 25

Okay, I'm a few days late on this. I'm also a few meals short. Last weekend's bad weather led us to cancel our planned grilling night. Thankfully I hadn't thawed out the meat yet! But since I had already done my grocery shopping and didn't feel like getting out again, I'm making do with what we have on hand.

Genghis Grill - We had another coupon for two free kids' meals with the purchase of one adult meal, and Billy had accumulated enough "punches" on his card for one more free meal. With our water to drink (since their soft drink prices are outrageously high), the four of us ate for the price of one! Score!

Biscuits & Jelly
Not creative, I know, but after our long day of flu shots, getting glasses for Caleb, finding Halloween costumes, and other things, I didn't have the desire to do anything more than that. I didn't even feel like microwaving precooked sausage patties...

Even though the boys and I are taking a field trip to Cici's Pizza this Friday, it's necessary to make pizza this week. I bought mushrooms to saute with onions for our steak Saturday night, so now I have to find something to do with them. I have pizza sauce, cheese, onions, peppers, and the ingredients for dough, so I might as well use them up. Unfortunately we're slap out of black olives. :o(

Lasagna, homemade Italian bread, salad
Well, this was planned for at least! A friend of mine from church had spinal fusion surgery and our class is supplying them with food for a few weeks. I'll be splitting my lasagna in two and taking half to them on Friday.


sandwiches/hot dogs
This is our final night to host the home team for our LOTR series. Since I'll be busy preparing the evening's snacks (taters!), supper will have to be quick and easy.

We'll be at church for our annual Harvest Festival, so we'll probably pick something up while we're out. Otherwise we'll just have a quick sandwich when we get home.

So, it's a blah week around here as far as food is concerned. I have several things on my list that I'd like to make before long. Maybe I can get them all worked in over the next two weeks.

For more meal plan ideas, check out I'm an Organizing Junkie.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Random Dozen - October 21

Linda at 2nd Cup of Coffee has gotten a little help from Linda at Mocha with Linda for this week's Random Dozen. Sounds like a good collaboration just from their names and the names of their blogs! :o)

The first seven questions were posed to me by Mocha with Linda in a tagging meme, which I answered here. Since you can click over and read them there (if you want to), I see no need to rewrite all that here.

1. Do you prefer to read the book or see the movie?
2. What is your favorite holiday and why?
3. Which do you like better - the mountains or the beach?
4. If money were no consideration, what vehicle would you drive?
5. What is your favorite cold-weather beverage?
6. How do you communicate most often with your friends: phone, email, text, face-to-face, or Facebook?
7. How do you receive your mail? Mailbox on the porch, at the end of the driveway, down the street, or post office box?

Now for the new stuff!

8. Of the four basic personality types - sanguine, phlegmatic, melancholic, and choleric - which is your strongest? Which is your least evident? (See definitions at the bottom of this post.)

First off, I have to say I don't like the names of those terms. They sound like words to describe the sick or the depressed.

Now that's out of the way, I'll go with phlegmatic. *cough, wheeze*

9. What do you miss the most about being 20?
When I was 20, I was in college, still living at home, and working part-time for spending money. Being carefree and spending time with my friends was fun, but I don't miss arguing with my sisters (who were 10 and 12 at the time and knew how to push my buttons), keeping up with my studies (in the several majors I kept changing to), or dating. I'd definitely rather be where I am now than go back.

10. How long from the time you get up, does it take you to get ready to walk out the door in the morning?
Since I'm a stay-at-home mom, I'll answer this as a Sunday morning question: an hour and 45 minutes. That includes showering, washing and combing out my hair, dressing, putting on makeup, getting the boys up, preparing breakfast, and eating. On days I don't have to wash my hair, I can be ready to leave the house in an hour.

11. Who handles the car maintenance and pays the bills in your family?
Billy does most of that. I take the car in for oil changes, inspections, etc., but if the check engine light comes on, I let him know. He also has his own system worked out for paying bills.

12. For those in the US, how many states have you visited? For those outside the US, how many provinces/other countries have you visited?
Hmmmm... I'm going to have to check a map for this one... That would be 21. Or 22 if I've ever been to Illinois. Or 23 if I've also been to Wisconsin. I'll have to ask Mama.


Personality type definitions courtesy Wikipedia:


The Sanguine temperament personality is fairly extroverted. People of a sanguine temperament tend to enjoy social gatherings, making new friends and tend to be quite loud. They are usually quite creative and often daydream. However, some alone time is crucial for those of this temperament. Sanguine can also mean very sensitive, compassionate and thoughtful. Sanguine personalities generally struggle with following tasks all the way through, are chronically late, and tend to be forgetful and sometimes a little sarcastic. Often, when pursuing a new hobby, interest is lost quickly when it ceases to be engaging or fun. They are very much people persons. They are talkative and not shy. For some people, these are the ones you want to be friends with and usually they become life long friends.


A person who is choleric is a doer. They have a lot of ambition, energy, and passion, and try to instill it in others. They can dominate people of other temperaments, especially phlegmatic types. Many great charismatic military and political figures were cholerics. They like to be leaders and in charge of everything.


A person who is a thoughtful ponderer has a melancholic disposition. Often very considerate and get rather worried when they could not be on time for events, melancholics can be highly creative in activities such as poetry and art - and can become occupied with the tragedy and cruelty in the world. A melancholic is also often a perfectionist. They are often self-reliant and independent; one negative part of being a melancholic is sometimes they can get so involved in what they are doing they forget to think of others.


Phlegmatics tend to be self-content and kind. They can be very accepting and affectionate. They may be very receptive and shy and often prefer stability to uncertainty and change. They are very consistent, relaxed, rational, curious, and observant, making them good administrators and diplomats.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

October 2010 Book List

35. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

I read The Hobbit a few years ago and enjoyed it immensely. My original plan was to read it, then follow it immediately with The Lord of the Rings, but by the time I had finished, I needed a break from Tolkien's writing. I've seen the movie trilogy several times, but what spurred me to finally read the book was that Billy and I were going to lead a discussion of LOTR with our small group. Some parts of the movie still confused me after multiple viewings, and I thought the book would clear things up for me. It did, but I also realized how different the movies are from the book. A few characters were left out altogether, some minor characters had bigger roles in the movies, and part of the end of the book was omitted. Another big issue the movies don't show is the passage of time throughout the story. Seventeen years passes between the time Frodo receives Bilbo's ring and he begins his quest to destroy it.

The book begins with Bilbo Baggins preparing for his eleventy-first birthday. During his party, he disappears from the sight of all, then shortly leaves the Shire forever. At the grey wizard Gandalf's urging, he leaves behind his precious ring, the One Ring wrought by the evil Sauron thousands of years earlier, the one ring he found when he was lost in the caves with Gollum.

Gandalf is suspicious of the ring, and after many years of studying its history, he realizes how powerful it is. Sauron's evil is growing, and the threat of doom for all of Middle Earth is looming. Sauron knows where the ring is, and he's determined to get it. The only way to defeat Sauron is to destroy the ring. The only way the ring can be destroyed is for it to be thrown into the fires of Mount Doom where it was made. And so begins Frodo's quest.

Three hobbits join him: two relatives, Merriadoc "Merry" Brandybuck and Peregrin "Pippin" Took; and his gardener, Samwise Gamgee. Along the way they are joined by a ranger known as Strider, who they later find out is Aragorn, the heir to the throne of Gondor. After Frodo is seriously wounded by one of Sauron's Ringwraiths, the group travels to the elvish village of Rivendell, where Frodo's wound is healed and he is reunited with his Uncle Bilbo. Before they continue on their journey, four more join them to form the Fellowship of the Ring: Boromir, a captain of the steward of Gondor; Legolas, an elf and close friend of Aragorn; Gimli, a dwarf; and Gandalf.

The rest of the book chronicles the Fellowship's breaking, Frodo and Sam's continued journey, and the efforts of the remaining Fellowship members to draw Sauron's attention from the whereabouts and final destination of his ring.

I enjoyed reading the book and seeing where/how it differed from the movies, but it also provided a good reinforcement of the story in areas I had been confused. By the time I was about one third of the way through The Return of the King, the final "book", I was ready to be finished. The copy I have is 1008 pages, and I was weary of it. Once the story reached a certain point, it seemed to go on too long, but the very end was interesting. The movie doesn't show what finally happened to Saruman, the once -white wizard, and his minion, Grima Wormtongue. You'll have to read the book to find out. :o)

36. There and Back Again: An Actor's Tale by Sean Astin

I guess I needed to decompress from The Lord of the Rings slowly since this was my next book. :o)

Astin is brutally honest, almost to a fault, in this book about his struggles with acting before, during, and after his role in the amazing Lord of the Rings movie trilogy. At times he seems unnecessarily hard on himself, but he's honest about his flaws and how he feels about them. He's also not what one would expect a grown-up child star to be like. His childhood wasn't glamorous as people would like to imagine. It seems he was brought up in a relatively "normal" home in spite of all the trappings of Hollywood and fame.

He also provides in interesting look into the lives of his fellow LOTR costars as they lived together in New Zealand for so long. They were all each other had and their bonds, some stronger than others, grew to be like that of family. Astin was the only actor to bring his wife and young child along, and while that tended to separate him from his fellow cast mates, it also provided him with support the others didn't have - and it allowed him a unique relationship with Peter Jackon and his family since their children often played together.

In spite of the movies' successes, Astin still struggled with his feelings worth as an actor. He describes his conflicting emotions as he was nominated for awards, then didn't win. He seems to have come to terms with who he was and who he is, and he's working on developing who he wants to be.

September 2010 Book List

I haven't read any new books this month, since I'm still plugging away at The Lord of the Rings. Hopefully I'll finish it soon!

Tag! You're It!

I've been tagged! Linda at Mocha with Linda tagged me to answer 7 questions she came up with.

1. Do you prefer to read the book or see the movie?
While I do love movies, I almost always like the book better.

2. What is your favorite holiday and why?
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because mine and Billy's families come together at one place and spend the day together eating, talking, playing games, etc. It's a relaxing way to spend time together before the busyness of Christmas sets in. (For us, Christmas is a whirlwind of traveling to spend time with both families and getting back home in time to rest up before the "normalcy" of life sets back in.)

3. Which do you like better - the mountains or the beach?
I definitely like the mountains better. The beach is okay, but I don't like sand in my hair and clothes or the feel of seaweed between my toes. I prefer the scenic mountains with its woods, streams, and waterfalls. It's a perfect place for seclusion for an introvert like me.

4. If money were no consideration, what vehicle would you drive?
This is easy - a maroon 2010 Chevrolet Camaro!

5. What is your favorite cold-weather beverage?
Last winter I found and fell in love with Nestle's Chocolate Caramel cocoa. It's perfect topped with a large dollop of whipped cream. (I'm not much of a tea drinker, and then I only like iced sweet tea. I can't stand the taste of coffee.)

6. How do you communicate most often with your friends: phone, email, text, face-to-face?
It's a sad fact: email (and Facebook). I don't like the phone and rarely use it. I don't know which of my friends text, but I do text a lot with my parents and sisters. I prefer face-to-face, but being a homeschool mom who lives at least 20 minutes away from my friends, we're not able to get together whenever we want to.

7. How do you receive your mail? Mailbox on the porch, at the end of the driveway, down the street, or post office box?
We have a mailbox at the end of our driveway. Several years ago we had one in a large postal unit box in a cul-de-sac across from our street. That was inconvenient, though I know it made work easier for our mail carrier. A friend of mine gets her mail delivered through a slot on her door. It was quite a shock when a small group of us was visiting her and we heard the mail drop to the floor behind us.


Now I'm supposed to come up with seven different questions and tag seven people. If I tag you, you're not obligated to participate; if I don't tag you and you want to answer the questions, feel free to do so in your own blog or in my comments section. I'd love to read your answers!

Here are the questions:
1. What hobby do you most enjoy, and how did you get involved with it?
2. If you had to spend one month in any area of service at your church, what would you choose?
3. Sweet or savory?
4. What is your favorite soup?
5. What was your favorite school subject?
6. What was your college major? Do you use it currently, or do you work in a different area?
7. If you could compete on any game show (either traditional like The Price Is Right or Jeopardy! or "reality"-based like The Amazing Race or The Biggest Loser), which would you choose and why?

I'm tagging the following people:
1. Cindy at Notes in the Key of Life
2. Lindsay at Larsita. Random Thoughts. - I know you have some time! Get back to blogging, girl!

Hmmmm... That's all I can think of! Cindy still blogs, but Lindsay hasn't in quite a while. All my other blogging friends have quit, most likely because of Facebook...

Monday, October 18, 2010

Menu Plan Monday - October 18

Last week went mostly according to plan. Then Wednesday, when I finished mopping, I sat down for a quick break and completely forgot to cook my chicken for that night's gumbo. Since we were at the state fair all day Thursday, I didn't feel like cooking when I got home - plus after the corny dog and the funnel cake and all the samples, I needed something very light. Friday night Billy surprised us with dinner out - at Jason's Deli. I got my new usual, the Mediterranean Wrap with a side of fresh fruit. Perfect!

This week I'm hoping to get back on track, but I'm going to have to revise the menu I made out last week. I forgot to add certain ingredients to my shopping list...

Chicken & Sausage Gumbo - finally!

Popcorn Shrimp
(Knorr) Parmesan Noodles

Breaded Chicken Tenders
Fiesta Corn
Green Beans

Turkey Club Sandwiches


We've been waiting for the weather to cool down enough for Billy to grill meat for the week, and once it did we were too busy on weekends to do it. I'm so excited to finally grill our steaks, burgers, chicken, pork chops, and hot links!

Lunch: Burgers & Sweet Potato Fries
Supper: sandwiches

I'm really looking forward to planning next week's menu around our grilled meat selections! I even have a new recipe or two I want to try.

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

Friday, October 15, 2010

Flashback Friday: Show Me the Money!

Linda (Mocha with Linda) wants to know about money in this week's Flashback Friday.

How was money handled in your family when you were growing up? Were your parents savers or spenders? What are examples of ways they saved or splurged? Who paid the bills? What, if anything, did they teach you about money? Did you have an allowance? Whether received as an allowance or through other means such as gifts, when you had your "own" money, were there restrictions on how you spent it? Were you paid for making certain grades on your report card? Did your parents tithe or give money to the church on a regular basis? What about other charities? How old were you when you got your first checking account or credit card? How has the way you were raised impacted your handling of financial issues today?

Ooooh, the "M" word! Thankfully I had good role models growing up. My parents were both savers, though Mama spent more than Daddy. My sisters and I never lacked for necessities, and we frequently got new things like clothing, games, dolls, books, etc., but big ticket items like game systems, bicycles, etc., were saved for special occasions like birthdays or Christmas.

Daddy paid the bills, handed out the allowance, etc. I remember when I was in college, he would give me a certain amount of money per week. That included money for eating out, for gas, etc. When it was gone, it was gone. He even went so far as to figure how many miles per gallon my car averaged, how many miles it was to and from school, and any errand mileage I might use. I also had extra money from babysitting that I'd use for special things - a new outfit, an extra night out with friends, and so on.

Mama bought most of my clothes, but there were limits on what I could get. If I wanted the current "in" pair of blue jeans, Mama would pay what a "regular" pair would cost and it was up to me to pay for the rest. I don't think I ever owned a pair of the hottest brand because I didn't want to give up my money for that. I survived just fine wearing the less popular brands of clothing. Thankfully I wasn't a popularity hound, or I might've spent my high school years broke.

I'm pretty sure my parents tithed regularly. When I was little, Daddy would hand me a little money to put in the offering plate as it was passed. I don't know what charities my parents gave to other than the usual church programs: the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. Now Mama sponsors a child or two through Compassion International, and she helps work their booth at concerts and other events. I think she also participates in Samaritan's Purse's Operation Christmas Child.

One thing that stands out to me about Daddy is his Christmas list. He always puts something practical on there like socks or a belt, but he also wants us to spend the money we would normally spend on him and buy something for someone in need - making a donation to the Salvation Army, buying something for someone on an angel tree, sending a soldier a care package, etc. All he wants is a card with a picture of what we gave. I have yet to remember to do something like that. I get so caught up in the busy-ness of the season that I forget. It shames me. Since I'm thinking about it right now, I should go ahead and put that under his name on my list for this year.

I was in college when I got my first checking account. Daddy helped me set it up, taught me how to keep a check register, and showed me how to balance my checkbook when my statement came each month. It wasn't that I was stupid about those matters, but he wanted to be sure I knew how to keep myself out of financial difficulties. I'm happy to say he never had to bail me out of anything. He also gave me a lot of cautious advice when I got my first credit card later on. Of course I waited until I had a job other than weekend or summer babysitting. I knew I needed some steady income for that privilege.

I'd like to say that I've been as cautious as Daddy taught me to be. Unfortunately I do have debt, but it's manageable and my credit score is high. I'd like to be debt-free one day, but it'll take a while. I read Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover a few years ago, and I really liked his approach. We've done a few things to start reducing our debt, but not to Dave's extremes.

I'm in the process of getting my own jewelry business set up. When I resigned from The Pampered Chef in January, I had a few hundred dollars in my business account. I turned that into a jewelry business account and have used what's in there for my supplies, replenishing it with money I've made on sales. I'm trying not to use my credit card for anything, but if I need to, I'll transfer money from my business account to our personal account to cover it. It's worked well so far, and I plan to keep it that way.

In my personal life, I'm pretty frugal. I save (and save and save) my birthday money until I find something I absolutely must have, and then I only spend a little of it. I'm very choosy. I started clipping coupons and shopping sales, saving a little money that way. Planning a weekly menu helps me save, too, since I plan the next week according to the current week's sales and only buy what's on my list. Okay, sometimes I buy something that's not on my list, but that's infrequent. When ALDI opened, I started shopping there, just a little at first until we could see what their quality is compared to their savings. It only took a few weeks before I was doing the bulk of my weekly grocery shopping there instead of Wal-Mart. The savings are incredible! I'm still brand loyal on a few things, so I do still shop Wal-Mart (and Brookshire's when they have exceptional sales - like this week!).

I also clip restaurant coupons. When we want to eat out, we look through my coupons before making a decision. One great coupon we used recently was from Genghis Grill, where two kids eat free for each paid adult meal. I have one more of those coupons, which expires on Oct. 31, and we "earned" a free bowl on our next visit. Since we'll all order water to drink, the only thing we'll be paying for is one adult meal!

Another way we're saving money is by switching our cell phone plans. Our AT&T contracts for our iPhones recently ran out and we were going month-to-month. After a little research, my husband found a better deal with a different carrier. We still have our iPhones, but now they're more like iPod Touch gadgets with all the Internet capability - as long as there's a wireless connection. That way I can still play my games, use my grocery list program and calendar, take quick pictures, etc., but we're paying almost $100 less for service on two less fancy phones. Every little bit helps!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Multitasking Mama

A friend of mine recently blogged about taking a Monotasking Challenge. What? A monotasking challenge, where for one day (or hour) you put your complete focus on the tasks at hand, each in its own turn.

After reading that post, I started thinking about it. I thought a little about it while I played a game on my iPhone. I thought about it some more while I was loading the dishwasher after supper, between segments of The Biggest Loser. I thought about it even more while I was brushing my teeth and getting ready for bed. And it was still on my mind this morning while I was getting the boys' breakfast ready, putting on a load of laundry, and preparing their books for school.

I've been multitasking for so long, I don't know if I can monotask! I do know if I monotask in my rocking chair, I'll go to sleep. It happens every time. It's almost like I must keep my hands busy while my brain is busy (or pretending to be) or I'm not functioning.

Let's look at my average day:
*I pray (usually) while I shower.
*I read while I brush my teeth.
*I check my email while I make my bed.
*I read/answer emails while I scan news headlines on the Internet.
*I read in the mornings before the boys get up - between rounds of Words with Friends on my iPhone.
*While the boys are getting up, I'm fixing their breakfast, getting the day's laundry going, and putting away clean dishes that dried overnight. Between bites of my breakfast, I'm wiping the counter and getting the boys' school books ready for the day.
*While the boys are working on independent work, I load the dishwasher, keep the laundry on track, do any other chores, and help with any problems they have with their assignments. Then they play while I check their work and get their next subjects ready. This same pattern continues throughout the school day.
*After they've finished with their work, I sit down for a little while to rest and read or play a little on my iPhone. Then it's back to work on whatever is on the agenda for the day: vacuuming, sweeping/mopping, dusting, cleaning bathrooms, etc. All while that is going on, I'm thinking over what I'm blogging, what I'm reading, the next week's menu and grocery list, plans for the weekend, etc. I stop here and there to email someone or check Facebook or grab a quick snack or blog a bit (like now, while the boys' bathroom and entry are ready and waiting to be mopped).
*In the evenings, I cook supper and grade the boys' afternoon work or play a little Words with Friends. After supper, I usually watch something on TV while I clean the kitchen. I'll read while getting the boys rounded up for showers, homework, and bedtime.

And on and on and on. It's "normal".

I'm so tired when I go to bed at night that I usually drift off immediately - even if I ended up taking a nap sometime that afternoon. If I happen to wake during the night, I'll usually go back to sleep. But on those occasions when I just can't, I'll start thinking through my prayer list and praying for whoever comes to mind. Before long, I'm off in dreamland again. Too soon, it all begins again.

So, in contemplating Leslie's "Monotasking Challenge", I keep seeing where I could monotask, but I wonder if I'd ever get it all done. Then when I think about it a little more, I think how much a better job I'd be able to do if I would just focus on that one thing and not divide my attention.

I might take her up on her challenge. Not for a day just yet, but I think I could do it for an hour.

Now it's time to mop those floors while I think on this some more...

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Random Dozen - October 12

More randomness from Linda at 2nd Cup of Coffee.

1. Is there a word which you initially mispronounced? Were the circumstances in which you made the faux pas embarrassing? By the way, that's not "foax pass." (I know you know that. Just jokin' with ya.)
I'm sure there are some words I mispronounced accidentally, but I can't think of a specific example. I know of one I probably mispronounce on purpose - and that's because I don't like the way it's usually pronounced: hydrogenated. I hate hearing it pronounced hy-DRAH-gen-a-ted. I think HY-dro-gen-a-ted sounds much better, so that's how I say it. If it's wrong, so be it. That doesn't embarrass me. I know there's another word in that category, but I can't think of it right now...

2. How do you feel about the use of texting shortcuts and trends? (ex: "I've got ur notes. Get them 2 u 2morow.")
Being a former English teacher, I can't stand texting shortcuts. Too often, that carries over into actual writing. When I see those shortcuts and typos, I cringe and take out my mental red pen. I refuse to use them. Okay, I will use LOL and BTW. They aren't gross misspellings or shortcuts. They're acronyms. :o)

3. Tell me about your high school senior picture. Please feel free to post.
My high school senior picture was probably the best school picture ever. I wasn't wearing glasses and my hair wasn't cut Dorothy Hamill-style. :oP I know I have a copy around here somewhere...

4. This was accidentally left out of the list.

5. Share a high school or college homecoming memory.
Homecoming... Well, I wasn't much of a social butterfly in high school, and our small commuter college campus didn't have homecoming. I guess my best homecoming memory would be just going to the games and cheering on our team. Watching the homecoming court was always fun. I never really wanted to be on it until my senior year, but I knew it wasn't likely.

6. Linda at Mocha with Linda wants to know: "Do you prefer sunrises or sunsets?"
While I'm up before the sunrise most days, the only window that faces east is the boys', and they're usually still asleep. (We homeschool and they don't have to get up until 8:00.) For that reason, I'd have to say sunsets. I especially like them now that we live out of the city. We see panoramic sunsets now!

7. What is something you have not done that you desire to do?
I'd like to take a photographic tour of Europe. I'd like to go on a photo safari in Africa. I'd like to take cooking classes for different ethnic cuisines.

8. If you could come back [in another life] as an animal, which would it be?
Definitely a giraffe. :o)

9. Where were you 10 years ago? Please feel free to elaborate more than just your physical location.
Ten years ago, we were living in Bossier City, LA, in a fairly new house we had built. I was a new mom, and I was teaching 8th grade science at Evangel Christian Academy, after teaching all subjects for 5 years at the much-smaller Trinity Heights Christian Academy. That was a year of many adjustments. I'd like to say I've grown a lot since then - physically (LOL!), mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

10. When you are proven to be correct in any contentious discussion, do you gloat?
It depends on who the discussion was with. In most cases, I'd say no, but there are some people I can't help but gloat in front of. That's so wrong.

11. What is your favorite food which includes the ingredient "caramel?"
There's no one favorite, so I'll mention the ones I really like. Caramel is great with apples. I love Snickers candy bars, caramel ice cream topping, and turtles.

And speaking of mispronouncing, it drives me nuts when I hear anyone say "carmel".

12. From my 17 year-old daughter to you: "If you could be part of any fictional family, which family would you choose and why?" (She's so cute. And clever.)
I'd have to choose Karen Kingsbury's Baxter family from the Redemption, First Born, and Sunrise series. Those were some of my favorite books because the characters we so real to me. They could've been my own family. My second family choice would be the Ingalls family (even though they were fictionalized) of Little House on the Prairie because I felt like I could fit right in with them when I read those books. Not surprisingly, my choices of families are from books, not television.

I'd love to read your answers! You can leave them in my comments section or link to them in your own blog.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Menu Plan Monday - October 11

Last week was a little crazy and the few things I had planned got pushed over to this week, making this week very easy to get ready for.

Chicken Lo Mein
Mini Egg Rolls
Crab Rangoon
ALDI had several Asian food items on special the week before last. If these are good, I'll probably pick up some more for Sunday evening's International Missions Dinner. Our class was assigned Asia, and since I have AWANA that afternoon, I need something quick and easy!

Dirty Rice

Chicken & Sausage Gumbo


Biscuits & Gravy
Scrambled Eggs
This was Caleb's breakfast supper request from two weeks ago that I never got around to cooking. I have since been to Wal-Mart, though, so I have frozen biscuits and a country gravy mix on hand and don't have to try making any of it from scratch.

We're hosting a missionary family for our home team dinner that night. They requested Tex-Mex, so Paula and Deb are making enchiladas, and Deb is going to bring some bean dip and chips. I have a good recipe for Spanish Rice, so I'll make a double batch of that and provide some guacamole, salsa, and drinks. One other couple might be coming, in addition to our missionary family, so I guess they'll be responsible for dessert.

International Missions Dinner Buffet, provided by the different adult Sunday school classes at church.

For more menu plan ideas, visit I'm an Organizing Junkie.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Flashback Friday: Games & Puzzles

Linda at Mocha with Linda has posted another great set of questions! Are we soul sisters? :o)

Did you play many games when you were growing up? What were they? (Include outside games as well as board & card games.) Who did you generally play with? Did your entire family play games or just the kids? Were there any traditional games your family always played? What were your favorites? Are they still around today? What about puzzles? Was that a popular pastime at your house? Were puzzles saved for holidays or did you do them any time? Were they set out for anyone to work or just one person?

Boy, did I ever play games growing up! You name it, I probably had it - except for Mousetrap. :o) - or played it. Candyland, Monopoly, Yahtzee, Scrabble, Pit, Uno, Skip-Bo, Trivial Pursuit, freeze tag, hide & seek, bike races, tug-of-war, hopscotch, jacks, jumprope, softball, volleyball,...

I'm sure I played board games with Mama & Daddy before my sisters came along. As they got older, we all played games together. Even now, we play games when we get together. Oh, and we play Words with Friends with each other on our iPhones all the time now. When a group of church friends would come over, we'd almost always end up playing Uno, and sometimes my parents would join in. I remember playing a lot of outdoor games with my neighborhood friends when I was in elementary school.

I also played softball with a city league for two years. I spent most of that time daydreaming in right field, but I learned a lot about the game anyway. I turned out to be a pretty decent player when I was a young adult. I didn't play - or want to play - on a college team or anything, but I could hold my own with the other church league ladies. I graduated to left field, center field, and eventually to short stop, which I loved! The worst position I ever played was catcher. I hated squatting and I had an irrational fear of getting my head knocked off by the swinging bat. I haven't played softball for probably 11 or 12 years now, and I really miss it. I'd love for our church to get a team up next spring. I'd play, but I don't want to organize it.

When I was in college, Mama and I would go to garage sales almost every weekend. I'd always look for games and jigsaw puzzles. I remember I had a huge stack of puzzles in the top of my closet. Since they took some time to work, I only did them on school breaks when I could spend hours at a time working on one. I've never been able to just put together a few pieces at a time. When I got married, I got rid of all my old puzzles. I just didn't have the space for them. Since then we've gotten some for the boys, and I always end up spending too much time poring over them.

Billy and I had quite a collection of games before we moved to TX, but since we were moving from a house to a much smaller apartment, we had to get rid of some. Since we were planning on being away for only 2 years, the ones I couldn't bear to part with went into storage. Seven years and more space later, we're still in TX. I'm not sure if we've gotten them all out or if some are rotting away. I've gotten new games to replace the old ones, though.

Some of my current favorite games are Apples to Apples, Scrabble, Scattergories, Balderdash, Loaded Questions, Words with Friends (iPhone - my user name is ch4pterfour if you want to play), Nines (cards), Phase 10 (cards), Phase 10 Dice, Farkle (dice), Mexican Train (dominoes), and various types of solitaire. I'm sure I'm leaving something out!

The boys have quite a love for games as well. I'm not sure how many games they have on their shelves in their room, but there's not much space for anymore. We've recently gotten rid of some of their games for younger children like Hi Ho Cherry O and Candyland, but they're always being replaced. Some of my favorite games of theirs are Blokus, Whoonu, and Apples to Apples Junior. I'm so glad they like to play games as much as I do!

What are your favorite games?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Random Dozen - October 5

This week, readers supplied Linda at 2nd Cup of Coffee with questions for the Random Dozen. Except for the two bloggers I read regularly, I've deleted the blog names of those who sent them because links weren't provided, and I didn't have time to look for them. You can find them on Linda's post, though.

1. If you had a theme song that played whenever you walked into a room full of people, what would it be?
Honestly, as much music as I listen to and enjoy, when someone asks me a question about music, I draw a blank. I can't think of anything to answer this question. I'll come back to it if anything comes to mind.

2. Which of your shoes are your absolute favorite, and which are of the object of your most painful shoe-buyer's remorse?
This one seems familiar... Favorites are determined by the season. Spring/summer: flip flops. Fall/winter: boots. Worst shoe purchase: cute brown high-heel slip-ons. They didn't fit right and my feet hurt after about 10 minutes. I no longer own any heels.

3. Tell about your favorite birthday celebration that you've personally experienced.
Unfortunately what I tend to remember most is that someone is almost always sick on my birthday, so going out to eat always happens late. One year it didn't happen at all. (I'm talking about the dinner with just Billy and the boys and me.) Still, I love when family comes in town to visit and we end up going out to eat together to celebrate.

4. If you were a flavor of ice cream, which would you be?
Chocolate Peanut Butter Chunk. I don't think that describes my personality, nor do I see how a flavor could describe anyone (other than maybe vanilla), but it's my favorite flavor.

5. Cindy Swanson of Notes in the Key of Life asks: Have you ever had a crush on a movie star? Who was it, and are you still crushing?
Of course I've had crushes on movie stars! Who hasn't?!? Let's see... Orlando Bloom, Shemar Moore, Josh Holloway, Alex O'Loughlin,... Oh, and Johnny Depp! I only crush when I watch. Out of sight, out of mind.

6. Glasses or braces--if you had to wear one, which would it be?
I'll keep my glasses, thank you. I'm so used to wearing them, it's almost (almost) like they're not even there. Plus, I have some really cute ones now. :o) Thankfully I have straight teeth (without the help of braces), and I wouldn't want that pain.

7. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
I'd live somewhere quiet and peaceful, but not too far away from the city where I could have access to whatever I need/want. I'm partial to mountains.

8. If money were no obstacle, what would be the perfect birthday gift to receive?
I have no idea! I have a hard enough time coming up with birthday ideas for my family - and with spending any birthday money I get from them.

9. What is your favorite birthday meal?
Anything I don't have to cook for myself! I like too many different kinds of food to choose just one favorite. But I do have a favorite dessert that I rarely get - and this year I'm going to make it for myself for my birthday. (Yeah, yeah, I know what I said...) Coconut Cream Pie!

10. Do you still send hand-written thank you notes?
No, though I should. I don't take the time to hand-write much of anything. I know people who do, and I admire them for it, but I'm not motivated enough to do it myself.

11. Linda from Mocha with Linda poses this question: What is something you've done that you never thought you'd do?
Well, I never thought I'd like living in Dallas. In fact, when we were getting ready to move here, I was dreading it. Now I love it and I can't imagine living anywhere smaller.

12. Mount Rushmore honors four US Presidents: Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Roosevelt. If you could add any person to Mount Rushmore, who would you add and why?
Any person or any other president? Honestly, I don't know who I'd honor from either group. This is another deep thinking question that I'm drawing a blank on. I don't (usually) like to answer these flippantly. I'm going to "borrow" another answer I saw and say Billy Graham. (Thanks, Linda! Great answer!)

Some of these were tough! But I really don't want easy questions, so they were good. Do you have answers - or suggestions - for any of them?

Friday, October 1, 2010

Flashback Friday: Let's Play!

This week at Mocha with Linda, the Flashback Friday topic is childhood toys. I've got lots of these memories...

What toys do you remember from your childhood? What did you like to do to entertain yourself? Did you mostly play inside or outside? Did you ride a bike all over the neighborhood? Play baseball in the backyard? Basketball in the driveway? Did you have to "get permission" to play at a friend's house, or were you and your friends back and forth between houses all the time? If you had siblings, was there a distinction between your toys and theirs? Did you "inherit" any toys from older siblings? What were the "fad" or "must-have" toys of your generation? Did you parents buy them? Was there a toy you always wanted and never got to have?

One of the earliest toys I remember playing with was a ride-on inchworm. It was green and accordion-like, bent in an S-shape. I think it had a yellow seat, and the critter had yellow antennae and big eyes. I also had a dark brown toy box with white plastic piping that I always took off and put back on. The "lid" was made of two sliding chalk boards that I could take out (or leave in) and write on. And I remember a little metal "stove" and a tea set.

When I was older, I loved playing with Barbie. I only had a few "Barbie" dolls, but that's really all I needed. I had a case with tons of clothes in it. My grandmother would make them for me. One year for Christmas I got the Barbie townhouse. Daddy was too busy to put it together for me, so I finally got the instructions out and did it myself. I had more fun arranging the plastic inflatable furniture in the rooms and riding Barbie up and down the elevator.

Some other great toys around that time were my Easy-Bake Oven and Fashion Plates. I actually made a few things with the oven. I remember making a little cake and decorating it with tiny pink icing flowers. Another time I made a pan of brownies. Fashion Plates was great, too. There were several plastic plates that had raised tracings of shirts, pants, skirts, etc. You'd choose your style, lay the plates in the inset area, lay a piece of paper on top, close the lid, and use the length of a black crayon (in a cute little plastic holder) to make the pattern. Then you could flip the plates over and use the textures on the back when you colored in the clothes. I spent many hours designing a paper wardrobe for Barbie.

When I was a preteen and a young teenager, I loved playing with Merlin and the Atari. Pac-Man was my favorite game, with Breakout running a close second. (We always liked to watch Mama play Breakout because she'd sit on the coffee table and slide from one end to the other while moving her paddle around to stay under the ball.)

When I was alone, I'd entertain myself with books. When I had friends to play with, we'd do all sorts of things. We'd swing in someone's backyard or ride bikes from one house to another. We'd run into the pasture nearby and climb on the hay bales, then go home itchy. We'd pretend we had houses under the low-hanging limbs of the magnolia trees or the wisteria bushes, and we'd hide there and watch what went on in the neighborhood. We'd play beauty pageant (and I always lost). Sometimes we'd paint rocks with clear fingernail polish or watch our crayons melt in the sun. Or we'd play jacks or hopscotch or jump rope.

When I was in junior high, we moved out to the country. Then I started entertaining myself a lot more. I didn't have friends my own age to play with. The boy next door was older and was into heavy metal. He was nice, but we didn't have anything in common. No one else close to my age lived on my street, so I shot hoops in my driveway, read books, or played Trivial Pursuit by myself. (No one wanted to play with me after I had started memorizing the answers.) My social life existed at school and at church.

My sisters are a lot younger than me. Back then, I was the bossy babysitter and they were the annoying kids I couldn't get away from. We had our good moments, though. I'd use their LEGO Duplos to build a rambling course of a game board. We'd each choose a person to represent us on the board. Lindsay's person had black hair and a red shirt; Melissa's person was blonde; mine had reddish-brown hair and a green shirt. We'd take turns rolling a die and moving around the board. They thought that was the best game ever, though there wasn't any object to it but to move from one point to another. There were no hidden dangers or cards to draw that might tell you to move back three spaces. Just the fact that it was made with LEGOs made it exciting.

It was when my sisters were little that Cabbage Patch Kids became all the rage. They had several each, and they came with names like Xavier and Rupert or something similar. I think they each had a look-alike.

The only thing I remember wanting that I never got was a Mousetrap game. I'd see the commercial for it and think it looked like the greatest game ever. I don't know why I never got one for a birthday or Christmas gift. Nor do I know why it stands out in my mind so much. It's apparently something that's been brought up several times, though, because my sisters bought me a Mousetrap game from a garage sale a few years ago. Most of the pieces were there. I think the only things missing had been replaced with similar items that worked in a pinch. The boys and I set up the game and tried to play, but we found that if things aren't set up precisely, the trap gets set off accidentally in the middle of someone's turn. We were all a little disappointed. I think the newer versions are better constructed, but the boys aren't interested in getting one, and I don't need one.

What were some of your favorite childhood toys?