Sunday, November 30, 2008

Escalloped Scallops

Making an appearance but once a year, this is the side dish most looked forward to at Thanksgiving time in the S house. The recipe came from a friend long ago. Thirty years ago to be precise. It has stood the test of time and won a place in our hearts and tummies.
For those that love seafood as much as my family does, I am sharing the recipe for this superb casserole.

Scallop Casserole
2 pounds bay scallops ( the tiny ones. The large scallops do not do well. Oh, and not frozen.)
1 4-sleeve package Ritz crackers
2 sticks butter
salt and pepper
1 quart half and half
Butter a 2-quart casserole and set aside.
Rinse and drain the scallops.
Coarsely crush 1/2 sleeve of crackers and place in the bottom of the casserole. Add 1/3 of the scallops, dot with butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add another layer of crackers to cover the scallops and continue layering scallops, butter and crackers until you get to the top, ending with a hefty layer of Ritz.
Pour half and half over the top of the casserole until it barely reaches the top. Cover and bake in a 350 degree oven for 45-50 minutes. Remove the cover for the last 15 minutes to allow the cracker topping to crisp. Serve hot.
This makes enough for 16 guests as a side.
I would have taken a picture, but when I finally thought of getting the camera out, it had all been consumed!
There's always next year.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Brainiac's Daughter.

I helped my sister, Gayle, create her Etsy shop today. Please stop by and visit and let her know what you think.
I just love her whimsical little elves. They are so cute and make me smile.

This is The Big Guy, otherwise know as S. Claus.




This mischievous little elf is ready to pelt someone with snowballs.
Or at least stand by as you throw them!

So, pop on over to Brainiac's Daughter. Go. Now! Quick!

Oh, Brainiac is our dad.

My Heart Is Full

Thank you all for your sweet words about Bentley. It is comforting to know that I am not alone in my grief for a pet. I am still finding swirls of his hair under furniture and in the corners. I am little by little sweeping them away. The missing him, however, stays.
Having a three year-old here the past few days has certainly eased the mood in my house. She is the cutest darn thing ever. I asked her yesterday morning if she had had a good sleep. "Oh, yes, I did." was her reply. How can you not love a kid like that?!
Gayle, Bruce and the cutie-pie went to Stone Mountain last night, to enjoy a bit of Christmas, Georgia style. It was a drizzly night but that did not spoil the excitement for them. I asked said cutie what her favorite thing was. "Buying the tickets!" I can absolutely see why. It is through the little gate of the ticket house that you see the magical sight that awaits you. I can only imagine the anticipation she was feeling. Christmas through the eyes of a three year-old is the only way to fly.
We will be going later in Dec., when Nathan comes home from California. It would not be the same without him.
Today is craft day here at the S house. It is rainy and a bit chilly- the perfect combination for creating things of a Ho-Ho-Ho nature. You have to see the adorable elves my sister has made. I will post a few pictures on my blog later so that you can do just that. I am doing my best to convince her to start an Esty shop. If I am successful, I will post the link.
I'm the big sister, so I am sure I will be able to twist her arm. ;)
Have a happy weekend, dear friends!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Goodbye, Beloved Friend.

Bentley-1997-2008


Yesterday, on a rainy, cold Monday, I took Bentley for his last ride. We went to the vet, where he was given a shot that let him drift into an endless sleep.
Bentley had cancer, and not wanting to see him suffer, we chose to end his life. It was the hardest decision I have ever had to make.
I stayed with him in his final moments, stroking his head and whispering to him how much I loved him. He was my shadow for so long, that I can still sense him nearby.
The house feels emptier today. I miss him laying under the table in the family room, standing beside me waiting for a bit of my breakfast, lying at my feet while I sew. His presence is everywhere and no where.
My heart is broken in a place I did not know I had. It hurts terribly and I hope that one day I will be able to think about him without crying, or wishing I could bring him back.
I am taking comfort in the fact that he, a creature of his Heavenly Father, is in a special place with Him. I have always thought that pets, when they die, wait for their owners. I hope that is true, because I cannot imagine an eternity without his companionship. I wanted to stay in the room with him forever, not wanting to let go yet knowing that it had to be.
As I said goodbye, I left him with a kiss and a whisper, "Wait for me, okay?"
I know he will.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Happy Birthday, Scott Joplin

I love Scott Joplin's music. From the jaunty tunes to the tinny tinkling of the piano, it will surely bring a smile to your face and a spring to your step. Be sure to scroll down and pause the Christmas music. The combination of the two is a bit disturbing. :)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Disheartened.

My daughter called us today, just as we walked in the door from church. She has been in Hilton Head with friends, celebrating birthdays. A girl's getaway weekend.
With a tremor in her voice, she told us that someone had slashed her tires at some point during the night. All four of them.
My mom mode kicked into high gear as I listened to her relay the details of what had happened when she discovered them. Thankfully, a sheriff's officer was driving by and they waved him down to report the crime. He jokingly said to my daughter, "Gee. You must have really made someone mad." She responded that she did not know how as she was not from there and had not spoken to anyone other than her friends. All they did was go to the beach and walk, then went to dinner. And someone decided that her car needed to be damaged.
The car had to be towed to the local WalMart and she needed to have money wired to her as soon as possible so she could pay for the new tires. $300 worth of new tires.
I am in disbelief that someone would randomly come and stab some one's tires. What possessed them to do such a thing? Did they think of what would happen when it was discovered? Did they think of the consequence of their action? How it propelled us into a frenzy of trying to scrape together the money on a Sunday and have it wired to her? Did they think it was funny? Or cool?
It isn't.
How does someone damage another's property with such blatant disregard? Had the same thing happened to them, I wonder how they would have felt. Shocked, violated, angry, hurt? That is how my daughter felt. And now, she is waiting to have new tires put on her car at the WalMart. I am grateful that she was not there when the tires were damaged. I am grateful to the sheriff's officer who came to her aid. I am grateful to the woman at the WalMart service center for taking such good care of her.
I cannot wait for her to come home, so I can give her a big hug. And tell her the she cannot go anywhere again.

On a happier note, we have three darling kittens (thank goodness no more), all with cinder kisses upon their heads. They are sweet and adorable and Baby Jude is being a very good big brother. These new babies will make my daughter very happy and will, I hope, take away the sourness of this weekend.
I think I'm going to go take a peek at them myself.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Oh, Mama, Part Deux

Apparently Merideth had not completed her delivery of kittens. There are now three and I think at least one more to come. Oh, dear!

Oh, Mama!

Merideth must think she's the Christmas Cat. (ho ho ho) Three months and three days after giving birth to Baby Jude, she delivered these two little sweethearts. Her white cat genes are incredibly strong, don't you think? I do not know their genders yet, but as soon as I do they will be receiving names.



Merideth, I feel your pain.




Now, for a production of an inanimate nature- Voila! The complete Mr. Snowman!


I want to gobble him up, he's so darn cute. He will shortly be placed atop his permanent home- a sweet box that will be filled with treats for someone special.
So, as you can see, there are big doin's at the Smith household today. I'm off to unfreeze the hen's water. It's too blasted cold today! It was 19 degrees when I woke up this morning! In Atlanta! This is just too much.
I think I will stay in my nice, warm craft room today.

Friday, November 21, 2008

WIPs and Flora's Toad-In-The-Hole

It has been as busy as Santa's workshop in my craft room lately. Paper clay has been molded into cute little snowmen, charm squares stitched together into a huge bag for the Smith Family Christmas Eve gift exchange, ribbons and bows now bedeck ordinary items making them look festive for the holidays. It is a beehive of activity and I am very happy.



This is one of the snow people. Isn't he cute? He's all glitzed up for Christmas with sparkly glitter and staying warm with his earmuffs.

This bag was made with Mary Engelbreit charm squares (7.99), a half yard of sale fabric (so long ago I don't remember, but not more than a dollar or two), a vintage button from my stash and some twill tape bought on clearance at Michael's for .99 the roll. I maybe used 1 foot which came to maybe 5 cents worth. Why all the amounts? Because we have a $10 limit on gifts. So, if I figure in what the tax would be on ten dollars, I came within the allotted amount and made something really cool as well.


How perfect will this be carrying a nice big picnic quilt? Or maybe laundry? Or beach towels? Or groceries?
Yeah, I'm pretty sure that I am going to choose my own gift bag. ;)
Now for Flora's toad-in-the-hole. When I get home in the afternoon, the girls are lined up at the door of their pen waiting to get out so they can forage. Usually they beeline right for the pile of leaves in a little woody area. Today was no exception and lucky Flora unearthed a toad right away. Oh, poor thing. Before the others knew what she had, she made hay and ran. Hazel spied her in her hurriedness and took off after her. Flora, not wanting a repeat of the snake misadventure, held onto the toad for dear life. Zigging and zagging through the yard, she managed to fend off Hazel, and now the other girls, who were in hot pursuit. At the last minute, Flora made an extraordinary move- she went right to the hen house. Bravo, Flora!! She is now dining on fresh toad. Gag.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Christmas Is Coming....

and gifts are being made!! I love altered composition books and thought a few Christmasy ones would make wonderful gifts.
In my craft room are two little pixies I found in an estate sale. They are adorable and perfect for Christmas. They each had a turn having their picture taken and then I printed them on card stock and cut them out.



Here they are decorating two Jolly Jottings composition books that can be used for keeping lists, writing down Christmas memories or even noting naughty incidents. You know, just to keep the kids on their toes!!
Quick, easy and adorable. Those are my kind of gifts!!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Saunter, Swagger, Swing.

This morning, as I was traveling back home from taking JA to work, I noticed a young man standing at the edge of the road. My first thought was that he would see me coming and stay where he was. He didn't.
He was dressed in black, pants pooled about his feet, jacket slung low on one shoulder and his red hat cocked to one side. Head down he began walking slowly across the roadway. I am certain he knew I was coming and yet he carried on as if he had no regard for his own safety or the speed at which I was traveling. I quickly stepped on the brake pedal and came to a complete stop- three feet away from him.
There were a few things I noticed about him that disturbed me. First, he could clearly see that there was no one coming behind me. Why did he not wait? Second, he never looked at me. Not once. Even as I was stopped in front of him, he looked straight ahead. Third, he never flinched. His life was in danger and he kept slowly walking across the road and swung himself up onto the median wall.
I could only think that he was challenging me, to see if I would stop or swerve out of his way. This was a young man in possession of the height of arrogance- You will stop. You will yield to me. Intimidation must be his contant companion.
I was so shocked and angry I could not even lay my hand upon the car horn. Had I done so, I wonder what his reaction would have been. Was he seeking that? Did he want me to get out and shout at him so that he could retaliate in some way? I will never know. I just sat there silently.
I do know this much- this is a young man with no regard for himself or others. Who feels that he is in charge of his surroundings and is used to getting his way. There are quite a few words I could use to describe him; brazen, bold, arrogant, confrontational, uncaring, disrespectful, self-centered.
Perhaps that is a snap judgement on my part though. He may be none of those. He may have thought he had enough time. Maybe he did not look at me because he was embarrassed that he chose to cross in front of me and he didn't flinch because he just wanted to get out of the way. The answer to that question will remain unknown.
But for now I am grateful that I saw him, that I did not sneeze or answer a phone call or adjust the radio and that I was able to stop, giving him three feet between life and death.
Three feet. It is not very much.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Quick Gift.

One of my favorite quick gifts is a beginner crochet kit. I include a Brittany crochet hook, some yummy yarn and MaryJane's Crochet Basics downloadable booklet.



Our local needlework shop carries Brittany hooks and needles, but you can order them from a list of shops on the website. I love how fancy they look, and the wood is soft in your hands.
Laminating the pages of the book (stuck back to back so it makes 5 pages total) keeps them safe from spills or tearing. A hole punched in the upper corner allows a ribbon to be threaded through keeping them all together.
All of these things, nestled in tissue and tucked in bag make a thoughtful and useful gift, especially for girls just learning to crochet.
Quick, easy and a lovely little gift for under $20 (or less, depending on the yarn.)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Book Makeover.

Have you ever found the perfect book for a gift, only to find that someone, long ago, had left their mark on it?
I discovered these two sweet books at the Goodwill and I thought they would be a perfect gift for a little girl that is coming to visit at Thanksgiving. Her name is Mia, and she is the 3 year-old daughter of my sister's boyfriend. I cannot wait to meet her.
The little girl who owned these books wrote her name and age in them. Cute, but I really don't want to leave it there. What to do, what to do........



Going through my scrapbook papers, I chose two that coordinated with the book covers. I measured the inside cover, cut the paper and glued it in with my yummy glue stick. One of my favorite things to do is to add a graphic black and white check as a little pop.



Voila! "New" inside covers that are bright and cheery, and unwritten upon. A vintage book plate adds just the right touch. Thank goodness little LeeAnn did not write all through the book!


I can't wait to read these vintage gems to Mia.

Clean.

I thought I would spare you the vision of the before version of the bedroom. But, here is the after in all of its glory!! Clean, spare, ready to be decorated in a way that will make it our own little haven. Get a load of that floor- spotless.




I'm a bit tired of the mismatched decor we have lived with for years on end. Careful thought will go onto the new look. It may take me a while, but the adventure is going to be fun.

This is the before of the craft room. Oh, dear. What a mess! Every surface covered, not even a place to sit.


Here is the after. Ah, that's much better. And look- the chair is cleaned off!


This part of the craft room is waiting for a makeover. My children gave me two rolls of Cath Kidston wallpaper for my birthday two years ago. I think it's time it went on the wall. Up until today, you could not even walk in this part.



After cleaning both rooms, I have accumulated four large garbage sacks for the Goodwill, and three large bags of trash. Really, who keeps trash lying about? Apparently, I do.
Thank you for your advice on keeping our bedroom neat as a pin, and for letting me know that I am not alone in the toss-and-clutter method.
I will keep on top of things. If not, I will certainly hear about it from the hubs. He likes it clean after all.


Monday, November 10, 2008

The Abyss.

There is a place in my home that collects things. Things that, when they are brought to this place, disappear. Are you wondering where this place is? It is........my bedroom. I know, I know.
Apparently, I have a problem. A huge one. It has been a part of me for as long as I can remember.
It started out innocently enough. Friends called to say they were coming over for a visit and I flew through the house like a witch on a broom collecting things that did not belong out and about. Opening the door to my bedroom, I shoved these things into any available space I could find. Some of them have never been seen again. That's how bad I am!
My husband does not say a word, which only compounds my guilt at using our bedroom like a garage. I cannot even tell you the last time that it was neatly decorated and a place where I want to be instead of plowing through crap to get to the bed. I believe the word is never.
Today I began the process (yes, it is definitely a looong process) of cleaning out and organizing in the abyss. Oh, dear. Clouds of dust erupted from every flat surface. Items that once lay on tables and chairs in the rest of the house gathered dog hair and dust bunnies on the floor around them. As you can see, I am being graphically honest here. "Keepin' it real!" as the Pioneer Woman would say. I am hanging my head in shame.
It isn't that I want my bedroom to be the garbage dump of my house, it just happened to turn out that way. I look longingly at photographs of bedrooms in magazines and drool over crisply made beds, candles illuminating the walls, dreamy curtains blowing in the breeze and an afghan tossed casually (and stylishly) over the end of the bed. My afghan lies in a heap on the floor.
I think I have lost focus. I also think I have too much stuff. Really. I am working on that.
Here is where I need your help- What are the things that you do to make your bedroom a haven? I am so in need of one.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Fresh From The Hen House

When Autumn comes, I break out one of my favorite breakfast recipes, Autumn Apple Omelette. It is a heavenly, decadent breakfast that can be eaten only once in a while.
Starting with three eggs, courtesy of Mavis, Flora and Blanche, I beat them well without addition of water or milk. Pure, eggy goodness is what is required here.




Choose a nice, crisp apple and cut it up into pieces, peel included-that's where a lot of the vitamins are. (This part of the recipe makes enough for two small omelettes.) In a sauté pan, place 1T butter and 1/4 cup water. Add the apples along with 2 T dark brown sugar, a pinch of ground clove, 1/8 tsp freshly ground nutmeg , 1/2 tsp cinnamon and a pinch of salt. Cook over medium heat until apples are just fork tender and the liquid has formed a dark syrup that coats each piece like spicy silk.




Make your omelette, slide it out onto a pretty plate and slip the apple mixture inside one half and fold the other half over. Now here is were you can make any additions, like grated sharp cheddar cheese or, believe it or not, a tidge of peanut butter. Just not both together, ok?




Pour yourself a cold glass of milk, sit back and enjoy one of the yummiest, warming bites of comfort food you have ever eaten.
Speaking of comfort, I won a giveaway over at The Joy of Nesting, Pattie's blog. She sent me a lovely package of traditional Mexican fabric swatches, a beautiful patchwork bag, tiny flash cards that have the words in Spanish (so that I will now know what I am talking about) and a folk art cross.



I love each and every piece that came to me. Thank you so much, Pattie. They have sparked my imagination and I cannot wait to begin creating with such sweet gifts.

Now, go make an omelette!!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Jury Duty.

That is where I have been for the past three days. My very first time serving in this capacity. How do I describe it to you? Scintillating? Maybe not. Thrilling? Um, no. Riveting? Definitely not. Mind-numbing, boredom inducing? Yes.
Not my fellow jurors. No, they were a lot of fun to be with. But the process (if you could call it one) was excruciatingly s.l.o.w. Sit and wait, take a short break, sit and wait some more. Ad nauseum.
We were quite a diverse group. There were a few teachers, a builder, moms (me included), a financial planner, retirees, young and old, men and women.
We sat in what proved to be the coldest location in the court house. The woman at the desk delighted in informing us that there was nothing they could do about the frigid air blowing from the vents. The donning of sweaters was de regeur and even then it was still cold. But, we had claimed that room as ours, bonded together as a group and nothing, freezing temperatures included, could make us move to a warmer locale.
The crackle of the speaker would bring a voice listing a series of numbers of potential jurors and we each held our breath waiting to see if one of us would be among them. I was number 150. My hopes were not that high that I would be called early on.
I believe that during my three days at the Henry County Courthouse, I drank my weight in diet Coke, munched on a few granola bars and wore off the calories consumed by crocheting granny squares. I almost wasn't even allowed to do that.
Coming in on Monday, I spied a woman knitting an afghan. "Perfect!", I thought. I would be able to work on my squares. Tuesday morning found me going through the security line with my knitting bag only to have someone say, "Stop! Scissors!" Whoops. My tiny embroidery scissors. I forgot they were in the bag. I had to relinquish them to the top desk drawer.
The security guard then asked if I had needles in my bag. I pulled out my crochet hook to show him. My wooden crochet hook, without a point.
"We're not supposed to let you in with pointed objects."
"Really, I saw a woman knitting yesterday and that is the only reason I brought mine today. And the hook is not pointed and it's made of wood!"
" Well, it's still pointy and her needles might have been plastic."
"So is the pen in my purse."
"Oh, alright. You can take it in with you. Will you be crocheting today?"
"Yes and thank you." Seriously, why else would I have six skeins of yarn and a crochet hook? To tie people up and poke their eyes out? Do I look like someone who would come armed with a handmade weapon and a nefarious intent? Criminy willikers!
The third day of my adventure finally brought me to a court room, where I was dismissed as a potential juror because I knew someone in law enforcement. Back to the jury pool for me. I found myself feeling a bit disappointed. It would have been interesting to see how the process works in real life, without the cleverly scripted dialogue and scenes found on television.
Hours more passed by, lunch was consumed, baby gifts purchased during a break and then back to the refrigerator for a few more hours of boredom. Everyone was getting antsy.
At four-twenty pm, we were released of our duties, and sent home with a "Thank you." from the woman behind the desk. Surrendering our traverse juror tags into the bucket, shoulders straightened, bounces came back to steps, we filed out of the courthouse into the lazy afternoon sun and wended our merry ways home.
I hope that I don't get called back for a very long time.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Altered.

Sorry for the extraordinarily tiny pictures. I was having a problem with Blogger loading my photos so I shrank them on Photobucket. I may have gone too far.
Anyway- Inspired by the lovely Dawn's nature journal, I created one of my own. Using a rather tatty antique photo album I bought in Kentucky, I glued, stamped and bejeweled to my heart's content.



This is the locking mechanism- now a simple ribbon that catches on a beaded pin.


Hmmm, this is the little niche at the back of the book. I tore away all the loose paper and glued together ten pages to make this little space for a nest and a feather, along with other bits and bobs.

Blank pages created from vintage fly leafs from an old book. I love their creamy color.




The page on the right holds a pin from long ago, perhaps one worn to a dance or an evening soiree. The page on the left says "comfort", something we all desire.



A chipper little chickadee sparkles and shines next to another blank sheet.




Mementos from a happy past.



Little Birdie, whose journal I believe this is. Is she not a doll, dressed in her billowy dress and jeweled crown?



The spine of the album, newly repaired and embellished.




The cover. You just know that something beautiful will be found inside.
I have yet to decide what I will do with this little gem. It is awfully pretty and looks fabulous on the dresser in my living room. But, it may need to go live with someone else. I'll let you know.
Oh, and one of these days I will figure out why Blogger puts my pictures in reverse of the order that I upload them in. But, they are here for you to enjoy, backwards or forwards, nonetheless.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Zombie and the Vampire.

That is who came to my house last night to trick-or-treat. Only two children dared venture out into the night to collect a few morsels from the candy bowl.
They were quite surprised to receive a large handful of candy each from me. Being as they were the only costumed cuties to arrive on my porch, I felt they deserved a generous portion.
"Dig in, kids. No, really- take more."
I have noticed over the past few years that far less children are dressing up and walking their neighborhoods for Halloween. More and more, their parents take them to their church for a "trunk-or-treat" or to a local mall or even grocery store. Our Kroger had a lovley event planned for families, with a cake walk, face painting, cookie decorating as well as candy giving last night.
I remember when my children were small, I would spend weeks on end creating costumes for them. Halloween was eagerly anticipated and my children loved going to door after door, ringing the bell and trying to be as cute as they could be in order to get, perhaps, one extra piece of chocolate.
My oldest son's first Halloween came when he was three months old. I dressed him in his little blue pyjamas and tied on a little mouse hat I had made from his dad's sweatshirt. A small string of the sweatshirt made the perfect tail and he looked adorable. Everyone who came to the door of our apartment was much more interested in him than in candy, for about a minute. Then they were ready for a treat.
Successive Halloween's found my children dressed as; a clown, an aquarium, an acorn, a rabbit, the White Rabbit, a mummy, a mad scientist, Belle, the Red Queen, a scarecrow, a duck, a pirate,
the girl from Titanic, and quite a few more. The costumes are long gone, some given away and some lost when we had a fire a few years ago. But we still have pictures and our memories are strong and clear.
I miss having my door bell rung, hearing the excitement in the voices as they try and guess what will be given out this year and the rapid retreat of small feet down my porch as they hurridly move to the next house.
My decorations stay in boxes under the house now. Not because I don't want to decorate, but more because, for me, the magic is gone.
Would the person(s) who stole Halloween please give it back? There is a zombie and a vampire who would like to experience it still.