Wednesday, February 29, 2012

showing a little leg

For the last few years, Wednesday has been teacher t-shirt day at school. Each year we get a faculty t-shirt. These shirts have our "theme" for the year. It makes for a comfortable mid-week outfit. Occasionally I have one of those weekends where I forget to wash the shirt, or a week where I just can't find it. I know it's a little crazy that I wouldn't be able to find something that I wear every week, but it happens. Any way, have you gotten the idea that Wednesdays make for an easy "get ready" day.

All Wednesdays are nice. But today - this particular Wednesday - was GRAND.

Not only was it a t-shirt day, but I also wore capris and flip flops. Capris and flip flops people. No, I don't believe that I'll get to wear flip flops for the rest of the year. But knowing that flip flop days are coming just tickles me - all the way down to my freshly pedicured toes.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


It's in the books. But I haven't quite recovered. Our UMY state conference was held in Rogers this year. If you aren't familiar with Arkansas cities and towns, just picture our the top left hand corner next to Oklahoma and Missouri is cut the state in half diagonally from that corner to the bottom right hand corner...back up just a bit and there you'll find us. It's a long, long, long drive. On a bus. In hurricane force wind gusts. With no radio. Well okay, maybe the wind wasn't quite at hurricane speeds, but it was blowing really hard.

Friday around lunch the kids and I checked out of school and met Brooke and Caleb at the park for lunch. We thought it would be a good idea to eat outside - you know, let the kids blow off a little steam before enclosing them in vehicles for four hours. Not such a great plan. That hurricane wind was cold. And it would blow you lunch away if you weren't careful. It just hurried the kids along with their eating - didn't take them long to finish and get back on the bus.

We hoped to drive to at least Conway before stopping for a bathroom break. We made it to Little Rock. We made it to Mayflower. We made it to Conway. But around Morrilton, I had to stop. My shoulders were killing me from fighting the wind while driving. We found a truck stop just off the highway, and everyone unloaded for a quick trip to the restroom and stretching of the legs. Everyone had a good laugh at the boys who found the bathroom cologne - a quarter a squirt. Of course, Chan comes out with a big wet circle right in the middle of his chest, and Caleb laughing that Chan smelled like an old man. Turns out that Caleb put up the quarter for the squirt, and Chan stood directly in front in the machine not leaving any room for the spray to spread at all. The way it smelled; it's a wonder it didn't burn a hole in his shirt and scar his chest!

Then we loaded the bus to discover that it wouldn't start. Turns out the starter had been recently replaced, but not connected properly. An easy fix, if the mechanic remembers to disconnect the battery before reconnecting the starter. We sat in that parking lot for about 3 1/2 hours.

Long enough to take naps, play cards, wrap hair, have snacks, nap again, lose phones, and eat dinner.

Finally we were on our way again. We reached Rogers much later that planned, checked into our hotel, and headed straight to the convention center where the conference was held.

We got there just in time for Funzies.

And our kids made sure to get front row seats.

This is only our second time to go to this conference, and we had several who were going for the first time. And our kids were front and center for an amazing praise and worship session.

It was pushing midnight by the time we got back to the hotel and ready to do our group devotional. And probably around 2 a.m. by the time we got to sleep. Saturday was an early morning - we had 8:00 duty at the district booth. Then morning worship, workshops, lunch, shopping, workshops, dinner, worship, and breakout sessions.

Take a close look at some of those eyes...

These kiddos were TIRED. And they still had a few hours to go that night.

Can your tell that smiley there in the middle is about to cross the silly border.

She crashed for a few minutes just before we went back to the hotel.

But this one just got plum goofy! These are her self portraits.

She had us all rolling. Everyone was ready to head back to the hotel, but somewhere along the short route they caught a second wind. And it was another late, late night.

Sunday morning we headed back to the convention center for our final worship and communion. Have you ever taken communion with 1500 people?

The drive home was quiet. Very quiet. But they are ready to go back again. And I'll happily pack my bags and go with them. When they talk about feeling the Spirit move within them, when they run to be at the front for worship, when they come out of worship wiping tears, I am more than happy to give up a few hours of sleep, and I'll drive around the world to help them feel that again.

Monday, February 27, 2012

how about a quickie

The last week has been crazy for me. I left home last Tuesday morning, went to work, left work and went to Little Rock for a two day committee meeting. Came home for a few hours Thursday night. And then left Friday morning for a weekend youth convention in Rogers. There was no time at all for blogging. I thought that I would be able to post something Tuesday and Wednesday nights, but the wi-fi at the hotel was horribly slow.

But Wednesday was such a beautiful day that I decided to go for a walk at the Big Dam Bridge. When on my way there, I decided to make a quick at a flea market/junk place. The night before I had picked up a few spring things to add at home. And just before I left the junk place, I found a robin print. For only 15 bucks. I grabbed it knowing just where I wanted to hang it at home.

But I didn't like the old, honey pine color of the frame. And it was dinged up pretty bad. I knew that I could give it a coat of paint and change the look fairly easily.

And the more I thought about it and looked at the picture, I decided I just didn't like that 1990 "country blue" mat around the print. But the more I looked at the actual print, the more I liked those robins.

So, when I got out of my meeting a little earlier than expected on Thursday, I decided that if I hurried, I could do a quickie and remake this print into something much better.

I took it all apart. Gave the frame a paint job with a "hammered brown" spray paint. Put a few coats of a springy yellow on that yucky mat. Cleaned the glass. And put it all back together.

There was already a print hanging in the spot that I wanted to hang my new print, so I didn't have to do any work there.

Look at the difference of the before hanging in my kitchen...

And the after hanging in the same spot.

sorry for the glare

It's amazing what a bit of paint can do! And I love the yellow mat with this print.

This robin print is my new favorite. I love walking by and catching a glimpse of it. At first I thought it would be great for spring, but I'm now thinking it may stay all year.

These pictures don't do it justice. I'm telling you it was a quickie. I was only home for a couple of hours that day. I did the painting, left again, and then came back late that night and put it all back together so that I could hang it before leaving for the weekend.

This project makes me wonder just how many times I have walked away from something I really liked, when it could have been easily transformed with just a bit of paint. And what else do I have that could be painted "hammered brown" withoug too much effort - I'm loving that frame.

Do you have a quickie project that could be done with just a coat of new paint?

Monday, February 20, 2012

how would you rate it?

I sit here this morning enjoying a President's Day break from school. I must get up and moving soon - it's going to be a busy, busy week for me. I've got a two day Benchmark committee meeting in Little Rock in the middle of the week, and then a weekend youth conference in Rogers. I'll leave straight from school tomorrow, come home on Thursday to switch bags, head out again on Friday, and return home, exhausted, sometime Sunday evening. Today I have to get laundry done and bags packed.

But I'm ready to face the busyness. My weekend was good. My Sunday was great.

Last year our church and community were in constant prayer for Mrs. Clara as she started her recovery from a liver transplant; yesterday she sang a special in church. She looked beautiful and healthy and a bit blurry - many of us were looking at her through thankful tears.

And then UMY at night. We had so much to discuss - last minute info about our upcoming trip to Veritas 2012. T-shirts aren't here yet. There is a one bag limit. Times for leaving and returning. Where we'll be staying. All on top of our lesson.

Brooke and I were a little disappointed when we realized that several of the kids weren't coming. Some were out of town for the long weekend. Some had gone to WinterJam. It just all landed on one night - the night we needed everyone there. That's the way it goes sometimes.

And then the lesson started. And we realized that even in this (especially in this?), God was in control. I was cleaning up after supper as the lesson started. I could hear the kids naming the things that are important in their lives and then ordering them 1-10. Of course, they put God at the top of the list. But there was some discussion about where everything else fit. And then someone mentioned that God doesn't want to just be at the top, separated and isolated; He wants to be a part of it all. Shortly after that I was able to join the group. We discussed our personal relationship with God - on a scale of 1-10, where would you rate your relationship? And that's where it really kicked in. Honest answers from everyone. Discussions about the difference in praying our words and listening for God's words and knowing that you are in God's presence and wondering, hoping, longing for that feeling again.

About those t-shirts we are waiting for - Brooke and I let the kids plan what they wanted for the design. They are very simple. A cross and flame on the front left shoulder and on the back a Bible verse. Chosen by the kids. With no fluff. No artwork to distract for the words.
Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.
1 Timothy 4:12
And what an example they are!

And if you still don't believe that God is in control of it all, let me just give you this. We left church last night with our minds on our personal relationship with Him and longing to make it better; we are returning this weekend to our statewide youth conference. Since our first visit to Veritas last year, the kids have been ready to go back - always speaking of how they felt God's presence at the conference last year. And last night's lesson that worked to focus our hearts and minds? It probably should have been done about two weeks ago. But one Sunday a few weeks back we had some bad weather that forced us to cancel youth and send the kids home early with no lesson done. And then last Sunday, Brooke and I were just wiped out after a full weekend of banqueting and let the kids know that we wouldn't be meeting for youth on Sunday night.

I never cease to be amazed.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

pintrest is turning me into a pioneer woman

Not THE Pioneer Woman - just a plain old ordinary pioneer woman. For the last few months I've been using body and hand scrub, gifts from my friend and my sister. For Christmas, many of the gifts I gave were handmade. And this weekend I made my own laundry detergent. All of these inspired by pintrest. Does someone have a board for decorating a sod house? Even better - building your own sod house? I feel just like Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Homemade laundry detergent was pretty simple. My sister made a batch several weeks ago. She likes using it and has convinced me to give it a try. Like my ancestors, I had to do some hunting and gathering. Actually, that was the hardest part of the process. I went to get the needed ingredients and came back with only one of the three. The next week, I tried another store - nothing. After about three or four attempts, I found the ingredients. Now I only needed a bucket. I went to Lowe's and forgot to get it. Then I went to Walmart and couldn't find the lids or anyone to help me locate them, got frustrated and left. On another visit to Walmart, I tried again but still couldn't find lids or help. I decided to just ask Lovey to bring me one of his buckets. He told me that he would - two weeks later and still no bucket. This week I finally found lids with the buckets at Walmart. When I brought it in Lovey said, "I had you a bucket ready." Really, doesn't do me a bit of good if you never bring it home! I just smiled and told me that I decided to just buy one. I'm sure Laura never had these problems with Alfonzo.

Finally, I had all of the needed ingredients and equipment. I followed the recipe here.

First I grated 1/3 bar of the Felsnaptha soap into a large pot.

I used a the fine grate side of a regular cheese grater. The soap has a clean, almost lemony, smell.

sorry for the blur - pioneers don't have time to worry about focus
I added 6 cups of water and turned on a medium heat. While the Felsnaptha was dissolving, I realized that I should have taken a picture of the soap before cutting it. So here's the bar - with 1/3 of it missing. It soft enough to cut easily with a large knife.

After the Felsnaptha dissolved, I added the Borax and the Arm and Hammer Washing Powder (1/2 cup each). And stirred until everything dissolved.  Then it's time to move everything to the bucket.

Pour 4 cups of hot water in the bucket and add the soap mixture.

These two  were very curious. With all the baths Lucy has taken this week, she was probably worried that I was mixing some new concoction to wash her.

Stir in another gallon plus 6 cups of water and let it sit for 24 hours.

Almost half of a 5 gallon bucket filled with detergent for just a few bucks. My sister made hers around Christmas, she shared some with her daughter and some with my daddy, and she is still using the first batch. It lasts a long time.

And now the cows need milking, and I have to get busy on my next project. My next DIY post will cover how to tan and cure your own bearskin rug. And that bear is not going to skin itself.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

this week's new recipe

Wednesday night (before the Pepe Le Pew fiasco), I was trying to decide what I would cook for our Friday night gathering. I had almost decided to do baked shrimp, but then found a link to The Pioneer Woman's Spicy Whisky BBQ Sliders - and I knew I had to try it. And it counts as my new recipe for the week.

I wasn't exactly sure how many people would be here, but I knew I would need more than the twelve sliders the original recipe would make. I used a 5 lb. package of lean hamburger meat, and got 32 or 33 sliders. I sprinkled the patties with Famous Dave's Steak and Burger seasoning.

the magic ingredients
I browned the patties in batches (until almost done) and then because I was cooking many and wanted to keep them warm, transferred them to my dutch oven.

waiting for sauce
 The last few patties were transfer to another skillet to finish cooking. I knew that there were be a few kids here that wouldn't want the spicy sauce.

these will be regular sliders for the non-spicy crowd
Finally I had a skillet full of bits and pieces - because I used lean ground beef there was very little fat; I added a bit of olive oil to brown the onions. And I chopped two medium onions for this large batch.

look at the brown bits mixed with the onions - yummy
When the onion were nice and soft, I added the whisky - the whole bottle. And OH. MY GOODNESS! Why have I never cooked with whisky? When that whisky hit those lovely browned onions, the smell was amazing. I will definitely be using onions and whisky in more recipes. Maybe onions and mushrooms with a reduced whisky sauce for steaks?

Sorry, I got distracted just thinking about the possibilities. After the whisky, I added the bottle of barbeque sauce. I love Sweet Baby Ray's any flavor, but the Raspberry Chipotle is one of my favorites. I decided it wasn't enough and added another bottle of plan bbq sauce. After adding the jalapeno slices, I poured the sauce over the patties waiting in the dutch oven and let it all simmer for about 30 minutes.

wish you had scratch and sniff
Lovey came in at about this time. I could hear him "mmmm - mmmming" all the way into the kitchen.

While the sauce simmered, I split the buns, buttered them, placed them on a large cookie sheet, and when we were ready to eat I just popped them in the oven to toast them up.  Unfortunately, I got so wrapped up in the eating that I didn't take any pictures of the assembled sliders. As a matter of fact, I completely forgot about my camera for the rest of the night.

**I wasn't compensated in any way to mention the products  pictured here. The Pioneer Woman, Sweet Baby Ray, and Famous Dave do not know me. But I'm sure they would love me if they did. I'm fun! 

Friday, February 17, 2012

lucy mercer meets a movie star

Lucy Mercer, Great American Cat Wrangler.

When last you saw her, she seemed so calm, so peaceful, so lazy. But...

Lounging in the sun on a lazy morning.

She has grand adventures. I've written about some few of them. Here. Here. Here.

Like all great American heroes, she has a sidekick who joins her on many escapades. Here. Here. Aaaannnddd Here.

Like all great American heroes, she has garnered a small following. She has groupies -those who love to be in her presence. Just a few weeks ago, I had a Silpada jewelry party. Several friends came - most for the jewelry, but a few for Lucy. My little blonde preschool neighbor came in excitedly asking, "Where is you pony?" She meant Lucy.

And like all great American heroes, she sometimes has a run-in with the rich and famous. Or at least as close to the rich and famous as we get in south Arkansas. Unfortunately for us, this week she crossed paths with the famous Pepe Le Pew. Emphasis on Le Pew.

Wednesday night she wanted to go out just before bed time. Lovey warned her that she had to come right back in - she's been hanging out really late this week. (Monday night Jus was outside looking for her at about 11:00. She slept in the laundry room that night because she was so wet when he finally got her inside.) Jacob went out with her but came right back. I knew we had a problem when she wasn't back within 10 minutes.

After about 20 minutes Lovey went out to hunt her down and drag back. I grumbled when he knocked on the front door instead of just opening it and bringing her inside. When I jerked the door open calmly opened the door; he simply said, "Smell."  With one whiff, the Pew part of Pepe Le Pew filled my nostrils. I quickly packed her an overnight bag (pillow and a blanket) and sent her to the chicken house to sleep.

Like many celebrity encounters, Lucy, as well as the rest of us, won't soon forget the day she met Pepe Le Pew. We are reminded with each breathe - uh, sniff. And if you come to see me any time soon you will be able to experience a bit of the excitement yourself when you step into the laundry room where we tried to wash away the memory - three times so far.

And now I've got to go find a skunk - before Lucy finds him again.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

i got sunshine on a cloudy day

The weather here in Arkansas has been a perfect match for my mood lately.




I've worn a jacket or coat everyday this week. And on Monday, I put it on every time I went outside. And it was my big coat. I even put on my jacket to do afternoon duty yesterday. I rarely have to wear a jacket for afternoon duty.

And today just before time to go home, I put my jacket on in my classroom. I. Never. Do. That. I don't know if it's the crud that keeps hanging on or the damp that just won't go away this week, but I've been cold several times in the last few days.

This evening while I was cooking supper and waiting on the guys to come in, I glanced out the back door just in time to see the sun light up the treeline.

The picture just doesn't do it justice. It was foggy. And the sun reflecting of the bare trees was beautiful. 

I grabbed my camera and went into the yard to take a picture. Without my jacket. In short sleeves. And it felt warmer than it had all day.

It's just amazing how a little sunshine can change things.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

the anti-valentine or you are not the boss of me

For the last two days my creative writing students have worked on anti-valentine projects. They wrote anti-valentine's sayings for candy hearts. And then they wrote acrostic LOVE poems.

And I truly enjoyed their finished products. This year I've been quite the cupid-killer.

It's not that I'm anti-holiday. I'm not anti-love. And I think it's truly stupid that single people get upset because of the focus on couples during Valentine's day. If you don't want to celebrate a holiday, then don't.

I don't want flowers. I don't expect diamonds. I do love Godiva chocolates, but Lovey doesn't do computers, so I know he would never order online. Tonight Lovey and I had hamburgers and frozen french fries for supper - in front of the TV. I hate fighting the crowds to go out for supper. And he asked for burgers when I gave him the option to chose something else.

But I swear, I'm not anti-love. I love my husband. I just don't like to be told when to celebrate that love.

I don't like mother's day or father's day or grandparent's day.

My anti-Valentineitis is all about me not liking to be bossed around.

That's why I let Lovey buy me a Valentine's present a few weeks ago when I hosted a Silpada party. Because if the gift comes on an ordinary day, then no one bossed me into anything.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

turn out the lights

The last couple of weekends have been very busy. Who knew Valentine's would be more hectic than  Christmas? First a weekend full of school dances and then a banquet at church. Both fundraisers; both very successful; both loads of fun.

At the Valentine's banquet, we always play a few games. This year Chan and I searched NBC's Minute It To Win It site for some new game ideas.

Baby bottle rattle involved LOTS of gumballs. Instead of a timer, we made it a race to see who could move the gumballs from the one bottle to the other the fastest. The trick was to hold the bottles almost sideways to move the gumballs faster.

Chan found Hanging by a Thread. It was challenging! Each player was given sixty seconds to hang as many nails as possible on the fishing line. Bryan added a little pressure to Mr. Jimmy after he had gotten one nail to hang.

Things got a little dicey with this game - we paired up father and daughter to compete against mother and son-in-law. I tried this several times and never got the five dice stacked - this family was very competitive and stacked dice quickly.

The youth kids not only served, but were assigned jobs during the games too. Laynie and Megan modeled this game of passing a lifesaver from spaghetti noodle to spaghetti noodle.

And then the real competition began. We had a great laugh during this game.

And we ended our night with the traditional "Not So Newlywed" game. It's a classic and always fun.

My brother, sister-in-law, and their oldest

Lovey, his brother, and mother

Baby Jus and his sweet girlfriend. Last year Just was part of the youth. I think it's great that he came back this year to support the youth group.

Hannah is part of our youth group - she worked and provided some of the entertainment. I've never gotten to see her dance. She did an amazing job. On carpet. In a tiny little area. Amazing!

My sister and friend Kelly. They were part of the kitchen crew and worked the entire night. And thought they were staying behind the scenes. But I couldn't let that happen.

And after two weekends of running, today I'm not feeling so great. My body always knows just when it can cave to germs. After the party was over last night, and I was driving home, I could feel the germs winning. I came in, grabbed some sinus medicine, and collapsed on the couch.

This morning Lovey made himself and Jus some pancakes. I opted for just coffee. And the couch.

Apparently, the critters feel about the same way I do. They haven't moved much at all this morning.