Friday, November 30, 2012

She just won't do it

She won't cooperate for photos , and telling her to "act natural" makes it worse...
 Also, it makes no difference to her that my sister wants a photo of the two of them...
 For whatever reason, she can't do it.
 The expressions are absolutely priceless...
 Until you grow weary of it...
You might get one or two that are halfway decent.
 By then, everyone is yelling at her to
I guess what you get with backyard photos is pure authenticity!
Well, and an aunt who will record it on her blog for all eternity...

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Unstuffed Pepper Casserole

This was a very easy and filling dish!  Kudos to Kraft.  I get a lot of good recipes from their website. 
 Unstuffed Pepper Casserole

1 lb.  lean ground beef  (I used Italian Sausage)
2 green peppers, coarsely chopped
3 cloves  garlic, minced
2 cups cooked long-grain white rice
1 jar  (24 oz.) spaghetti sauce (I like Newman's Own)
1-1/2 cups  KRAFT Shredded Italian* Five Cheese with a TOUCH OF PHILADELPHIA, divided
Pre-heat oven to 350ºF. Brown the meat with peppers and garlic in large skillet; drain.   
Stir in rice, spaghetti sauce and 3/4 cup cheese.

Spoon  into 2-qt. casserole sprayed with cooking spray; top with remaining cheese.
Bake 25 min. or until heated through.
 Wow.  Look at all that cheese!
I served with a salad made of spinach, mushrooms, and olives and it all disappeared. 
Like magic! I will  be making this one again.

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Monday, November 26, 2012

Mealplan Monday #36 with Darling Darla

A pretty girl I lunched with at Panera:...
 and her alter ego "Darla".
 They really aren't all that different!  Both sassy.  And silly.

Monday - Taco Rice (using up leftover rice with some cheese, taco meat, black beans), salad
Tuesday - Chicken (unsure as to how to fix...suggestions?)
Wednesday - Eggs, bacon, biscuits, OJ
Thursday - Pumpkin Ziti
Friday - Deli sammies and chips (boys camp)
Saturday - YOYO
Sunday - Leftover Thanksgiving freezer meal

Oh, my.
So glad both of her are enjoying college!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving morning, 2012

Such a beautiful day outside and in - the house is sleepy and warm and smells so good.  The turkey is brined and ready to roast, the briskets are thawed and ready to be smoked, all of the sides dishes await reheating, Chex Mix is set out, drinks iced in coolers, table set... and The Girl, Scout, and I are going to the Turkey Trot with Aunt Melissa. The most wonderful holiday of the year is here!  Let the feasting and fun begin!

So once in every year we throng
Upon a day apart,
To praise the Lord with feast and song
In thankfulness of heart.
~Arthur Guiterman, The First Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Family photo nostalgia

Back in the 70's I had a sister who worked briefly as a photographer's assistant.  I guess that's one more connection Scout has to that line of work...anyhoo, she talked her boss into taking a formal picture of all my mother's children as she had never had one photo taken of all eight of us together.  Most of us are half-brothers or sisters to each other.  So, here we are (were):
This picture was taken in 1977.  It seems odd to me that we weren't arranged by height or by group.  We ended up looking like the hodge podge of people that we really are, so in a sense, it's a very authentic photo.
Jeannette is my oldest sister.  She pierced my ears when I was 11, after I  had finally wore her down with begging.  She lived in Houston and I remember being so excited to move to Galveston from Lubbock so it wouldn't be so hard to see her and Sherry any more.  She had two children, Doug and Deanna.
Sherry is the next to the oldest.  She called in sick to work one day and rushed me up to the admissions office at UT when I received a rejection letter - I was panicked.  Thanks to her help, I got hings ironed out and was accepted.  She has two children, Raul and Jean.  She and Alene always cut up together.
Alene.  No one calls her by her real name, but me.  I think it's a shame, really, since her nickname is from an old joke of my mothers'.  I vote we stop calling her "Pete".  Her real name is so much prettier.  She has a hilarious sense of humor and makes me laugh.  She is the "baby" of group #1 and always tells me she loves me.
She is the mother of James and Christine.
Kenneth, very quiet, kept to himself.  I don't think we ever had a conversation, and I regret that.  He died almost 14 years ago.  I was one of the last people he spoke to and I carry a burden of guilt. He is the father of John and Phillip.  
And the brother to:
Margaret (Maggie).  A  smart businesswoman and sweet sister.  She used to make up bedtime stories for Melissa and I.  She has a vivid imagination that has served her well in her professional pursuits, as she is able to see the possibilities in things and bring them to life.  I think she was pregnant in this photo - she has three children: Matthew, Jason, and Amber.
I am the oldest of my group.  I was 16 in this picture.  Running behind that day, I had no time to put on makeup or fix my hair.  But I remember being glad I was seated next to Jeannette, who was the sister I  looked up to most.  My hair wasn't really red - I used to dye it, frost name it.  It was always in a a state of experimentation.
 Melissa - just a year younger than me.  This was taken probably just before she ran away from home.  I wish I had tried to persuade her to tough things out.  High school is so hard for some.  We were inseparable as children and people thought we were twins for a long time.  She was always stylish, put together, and coordinated.  Like a model!  She has Ashley and Olivia.
 Kurt, the youngest.  I don't think he was too cooperative for pics that day.  He would have been 11.  I seem to remember my mother being frustrated and irritated - but she always was, with Kurt.  He never married and probably never will.  Has no kids.  He lives life on his own terms and is really only close to Melissa.
What is it about birthdays, or other family occasions, like the holidays, that make us take these sentimental trips?  I look at this picture and see many things: possibilities, but lost chances.  Luck, and yet hard work.  Hard times, but health and happiness.  All rolled into one.  It's all in how you look at a family portrait - you see what you remember, but also what you don't.  Something to think about when we are taking our Christmas card pics tomorrow, no?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Mealplan Monday #35 and my kitchen topiaries

Thanksgiving is this week!  I can't believe how quickly it has sneaked up...the BEST holiday of the year in my opinion  (:  The menu this week is rather simple, as a lot of prepping and cooking happens on Wednesday and Thursday.  And I have so much shopping to do...but I spent 10 minutes last week crafting something cute for the kitchen window seat:
Little potted pines!  I so love terra cotta pots and burlap  (:

Monday - Scalloped potatoes with ham, salad
Tuesday - Dr. Martin's Mix, hot bread
Wednesday - Mom's Birthday!  Mom and Dad out, boys get freezer pizza and a movie.
Thursday - Breakfast is cinnamon rolls, bacon, gingerbread cocoa
                    Lunch is Thanksgiving Meal
                    Dinner will be turkey sammies
Friday - Turkey Soup for dinner, smoked brisket with all the trimmings mid-day
Saturday - Dad grill?
Sunday - Spagetti and Meatballs, salad
Oh! Here's how I made my little pots:
  I started with a cheapo "pine table tree" from Big Lots.
Got a medium sized terra cotta pot (new) - but if I had empty older ones I would have used them - I love the patina on old terra cotta...
Set a can of tomatoes inside to help my little tree stand taller!
Stuffed newspaper all around it to stabilize it and fill the space.
Added in some natural spahgnum moss.
And tied a sprig of my burlap ribbon on the top, which I folded over the make it stubbier... 
I think I will add the garland above this window and keep it simple on decor in here.  Whatcha think?  Gotten bit by the holiday decor bug yet?

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Friday, November 16, 2012

Scout's photography wall

Last week I hauled all of the Christmas decorations out of the storage boxes to see what I had, what I needed, and what direction to go with decor.  I felt a little overwhelmed, I have to I pulled out what I wanted to use, made my list of what to buy, then put it all in an out-of-the way place until the day after Thanksgiving.
 It doesn't look like so much here, but this is just the portion I saved out. Even so, I hope to keep it simpler this year.
Next up, I wanted to focus on adding to and spiffing up the photo collage in Scout's room.
Hubby had brought home some some very well made metallic frames from his office - you know the ones with screws and plates holding them together?  A pain to disassemble, but nice and solid frames.  Just needed a change of paint color.
I used a spray paint/primer combo - longer drying time, which is bad for impatient painters like me, but nicer not to have to sand or prime separately. I just spread out some gigantic trash bags on my patio and got going.  I worked on it off and on all morning.
The dark steel finish color is  perfect for his room and the nature of the photographs.  By adding the larger frame, I was able to make the arrangement a little less stiff and predictable.  The prints are a mix of color and black & whites.
 I put a little bit of that sticky tack under the corners of each frame so they wouldn't shift around on the walls.
 Here is a peek at his work:

I'm a little biased about it - I love it.  Although he does mostly nature photography, I hope he can take the family pics for the Christmas card this year.
This gallery wall is a work in progress as we change out the prints every so often.  Now back to my list - several other projects to do before the holidays are here!  What about you? Got any non-Christmas decor projects lined up?


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