Sunday, January 30, 2011

Winter Paradise

Truly, we live in paradise!  Although I was raised in Pennsylvania where we were never bored in the winter, I'm finding it hard to beat the winters in South Florida!  We met a couple families at nearby Halpatiokee Park and enjoyed God's creation via long meandering trails that eventually led to beautiful waterways.  The boys were like magnets to the water.  What better way to spend a Saturday afternoon?  We live about a mile from the beach, but that isn't all Florida offers!  This is the other face of Florida:  woods, critters, bike trails, cypress and Australian pine trees.  I love it.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Long Live the Vikings!

Christmas money comes in handy if you save it for the after Christmas sales.  The "littles" have had their eyes on these "How to Train Your Dragon" viking battle kits for months, now.  Today we discovered two of them on the clearance shelf for less than 1/2 of the original price.  SCORE!   
They were more than happy to open their wallets!

You don't think I would let them play with the toys without testing them first, do you?  
I mean, these things can be DANGEROUS!   
The toys passed inspection, but the jury is still out on the question of whether or not these toys are safe in the hands of 4 and 5 year old boys.  However, no blood was shed today, so it's all good!  Wait....there WAS blood shed today.  Eli sliced his foot in the woods (barefoot...doesn't the boy listen to me?) while building a fort for the vikings.  But that's another blog.  

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Bee in My Bonnet

I love stumbling across new blogs.  I love the ideas I find in these blogs!  I love the GIVEAWAYS I find at these blogs!!!  What could be better that finding both in one blog?  Check out the adorable stuff HERE.  Enter for your own chance to win a sewing pattern from 

So, instead of doing what I SHOULD be doing...

(putting these guys in bed)    


Want one of these babies?  Well, my daughter does, and she has a chance to win one!  (with your help!)
Go to THIS link and vote for Rebecca!!  Please?  She's a few votes shy of the most votes and the drawing is in 10 days!  Your votes will help make her a happy, happy gal!  (Her profile says "Beginning the Journey by Allana Martian)  How exciting it would be for her to win! 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Valentine Fun With Oatmeal Canisters!

We have all made these Valentine's Day shoe boxes, right? 
Time to think outside the "box"!  Stay tuned!

Wordless Wednesday

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Mulan Madness

"Mom, we can't find Mulan!"


Well, let's just say that I'm glad I ran into this timely blog today (not that I'm a neat-freak, 'cause anyone who knows me, knows I'm CLEARLY not THAT), and this blog was a real blessing, too. Thank you, Lord for providing me with what I need before I even ask!

Creative or Obsessive?

You've never shopped a Goodwill until you've shopped one with Zack! Everything in the store that's made of clear glass or plastic, can be used as some sort of aquarium or fish tank in his opinion.
"Can I get this, Mom? It would make a great..."

"Let me guess", I usually interrupt him, "a fish tank?"

I found this tiny self contained beauty on my kitchen window sill. Zack put it there so the sun could encourage algae growth. It's small, so I'll tolerate it. How small? See the penny? And the tiny snail inside? This is the packaging that his iPod shuffle that he got for Christmas came in. Re-purposed as a tiny aquamarine world. So cute. :-)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Neckless: The Audry Amaka Story

I love books! Who doesn't? It's a longstanding dream of mine to have a wall of well-stocked bookshelves in my family room someday. As of yet, I don't have the family room, bookshelves or even the books to fill them. So.... Did I mention that I love the library? Well, I used to, anyway. Maybe it's just our particular library, but I have a hard time finding GREAT books for Nate and James to read. So.... I was THRILLED when a certain young man named Brent Vernon published his first book, because I was sure it would be good. I was even MORE thrilled when I discovered how FANTASTIC this book is!

Written AND illustrated by Brent, Neckless is about a little giraffe who is born without a neck. (Hence, the name of the book.) Cute, huh? The book is full of tongue in cheek humor. It's full of adorable artwork. It's also tall on life lessons. (pun intended) "Take what you have and do something good with it." That's the lesson learned in this book which is 31 pages long.

Here is Audry just after she is born. Don't you love her mama's expression when she sees that her beloved daughter has no neck? Do you know what a Black Mamba is? You will after reading this book that's not just for girls!

Without reading the book, I knew it would be good. So when Brent announced on Face Book that the book was ready for purchase, we rushed over to his mom and dad's house to get our very...own...signed...copy. Yay! Then we headed over to Winn Dixie for groceries but had to sit in the truck and read the book first! I see children's books in Brent's future! One can hope, right? So, adding to his talents of singer/songwriter/puppeteer, Brent can definitely add successful book writer! I hope someone donates a copy to our local library. It sure could use it!

Did I mention Brent is from our sleepy little town? I have known him since 8th grade. My little fame by association claim. YOU CAN GET YOUR OWN COPY here.

Monday, January 17, 2011

You See.....I See

You see.....what I'm about to have for lunch or dinner. Wrong! (in fact, I had roast beef, mashed potatoes and corn, none of which came out of a can, so HA! Don't hate me.) I don't buy this stuff, mainly because of words on the back like monosodium glutamate, mechanically separated chicken (what?), and tocopherols, to name a few. My spell check doesn't even like those words.

I served this to my dear client for dinner. She wasn't feeling well and this is all she wanted. Hey, she's 91! What the Dear wants, the Dear gets, even if it includes MSG! I almost threw out the empty container. Glad I didn't!

I see.....a 15 ounce container with snap on lid complete with air holes! Perfect for a bug or insect! Boo-ya! Nate and James are gonna love me when I pull this baby outta my hat cupboard! Maybe I should wait until I collect two of these before I unveil? Double the love.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Re-Purposed Sundress

"Mom, what should I do with this dress? It doesn't fit me anymore!" These words were from my daughter who was cleaning out her drawers and closet. Usually, she will pack away a few bags of clothes to give to her cousin, but THIS dress.....well, she couldn't part with it! She wore it a few times with a cute little white sweater and it looked very sweet on her. One look at it and I felt like Gru in Despicable Me. "Light bulb!" Doesn't it just look like it longs to be re-made into an apron? Well, it did to me. Rebekah agreed to that idea happily, knowing it would give her a chance to wear it over and over in the years to come. I took it to work with me and got right to...well, work!

I think this was one of the easiest projects I have ever done. I cut off the entire back of the dress, just inside the seams on the front. I opted to leave in the lining, to make it more absorbent for drying wet hands. I attached one big pocket, made by using a big piece of the back of the dress. A cute ruffle was made from the discarded back lining. Then I sewed a seam down the center to divide it into two pockets. To close the side seam, I turned the whole thing inside out and sewed the side seam including the pocket sides, with right sides together.

When the pocket and sides were done, I cut the length of the dress to a more appropriate apron length and hemmed it. Rebekah purchased a package of pink bias tape thinking it was ribbon knowing it would be stronger than ribbon, and I used it to create back ties.

White lining from the back of the dress was used to make a white ruffle for the top of the pockets.

There it is! I can't tell you how many times she has said, "Mom, I LOVE this apron!" (I'll post an actual picture of her wearing it soon.)

Answers, anyone?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

A New Perspective

There have been times in my life when the road feels rough and stretched out endlessly before me; choices have left me feeling confused and I just want to stop and get off this merry-go-round called "life".

With a little change in perspective, might I feel differently? Are there helping hands assisting me when I least expect it? Am I surrounded by friends who care? Is there a loved one walking along quietly beside me?

I need to take time to see the beauty in God's creation around me. It really is the little things that shout the nature of God's character!

Even though the climb has left me weary, I will always keep looking up. If I look down, I'll only see "da-feet".

I'll find the support I need by taking the time to see what's already there: the smile of a precious child, a warm embrace, a change of scenery that refreshes my soul, a memory shared with a loved one.

I might feel like I am teetering on the edge, but the Bible promises me in Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

Daddy Loves His Gal.

And I'm glad he does!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


I have a new name! Let me introduce myself. My name is ALLaboutANA. See the Allana in there? See the Ana at the end? Ana is my "friend". She tells me what to do, and I do what she tells me to do! I'm all about her! She has told me that I need to talk about my wonderful parents in my blog, so that's what I'm doing now.

They are wonderful parents and I don't get to see them as often as I would like to. We had Thanksgiving together (at ANA's house, of course) and I'm looking forward to seeing them in a few weeks! (Can't wait!!) I snapped this great shot of them at a local park this past Thanksgiving, after Dad took quite a few family pictures for me (and a few pics of the ground, too) He took the picture you see in my header.

So, Dad and Mom, you may not appear very often in my blog, but you are always and forever in my heart! (ANA did NOT tell me to say that. I truly mean it.)

Happy, Ana?? :-)

Brace Yourself!

Braces...the gift that keeps on giving. Things were light for Rebecca (who, by the way, has asked to change her name to Rebekah, and will hereafter be referred to as such, until such a time as she changes her mind) under the Christmas tree this year. Her gift came in the form of metal in the mouth. So far, Rebekah is the only of our children who's teeth didn't get the message that they were to grow nice, straight and even. A money whooping will set them straight! We should have done this last year, but didn't know how things would go financially...hindsight.

This is a pretty good before shot. You can see her naughty teeth.

Dr. Bradford setting in the brackets.

All set, waiting for the glue to completely dry.

It has now been 4 weeks, and wowza! What a difference already! Rebekah is blessed that her teeth are moving so quickly and easily! Go back and look at the first picture! Merry Christmas, Rebekah, AND.....Happy Valentine's Day, Happy Birthday, Easter, Christmas 2011...etc. (How long can I milk this?)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Boys 2 Men

Little boys. This is the second time in the last week that James has hurt "that" finger. And of course, he has to show it to me! How do I explain what that "sign" means? He is only 4 and he thinks the moon is a moom. And that Batman has a soup. (suit) Innocence doesn't last forever. I think I'll kiss the boo-boo and let it go for another year.

Men. My man. Wonder what's got him riled up? Could it be that his only daughter is almost 16? Beware, boys. Be VERY afraid. Next thing he'll be doing is writing names on the bullets.

Two recipes in one day!

Tonight I'm going to a Soup Party! Guess I'm taking soup! A good standby...Potato Leek. What you see, is what you get! Red potatoes, 3 leeks chopped, some parsley and salt for seasoning. Boil.

A handy utensil, the soup ladle! I had to buy an new one, because "I" left my old one in the woods after using it to dig holes and only the Lord knows what else. Or maybe one of my boys did that. I can't remember anything important these days and believe me, ladles are important! I have been doing without one for about 6 months now. When my old one turned up dead (cracked) I knew it was time to stop hoping it would turn up in the toy box and decided to break down and buy a new one. Thank you, Winn Dixie for your overpriced ladle.

Anywho, here is the finished product, mashed with a potato masher, and with about 6 oz. cream added.

Ready to go to the soup party! Just as soon as I get off work.....

Wake-You-Up Sunday Roast

Sunday afternoons are for napping, right? In our house, there is almost always somebody taking their weekly Nazarene Nap. I drink a cup of coffee before church to stay awake, but after lunch....there's nothing sweeter than a Sunday snooze. Coffee is for the mornings, but this recipe calls for coffee in the roast! You heard me right! When I heard of this recipe from a friend, I had to try it. "Rich, dark gravy" is how she described it to me and I was hooked.

Here's how:
Sear the roast in a skillet

Because I have two young ones and a couple older picky eaters, I process a whole onion and a few mushrooms in my food processor and cook it for a few minutes in olive oil (or butter) until translucent.

Here's the "wake-you-up" part. Add a cup of coffee to the roast in the crock-pot! (I did about 4 cups the first time I made it, but found it to be too bitter. Next time I'll do 1 cup.)

Season with this.

Put it all together in your crock-pot and simmer on low until done. I did mine overnight.

Remove roast from gravy. Shred and remove fat. Thicken gravy with cornstarch and return meat to gravy. Serve over rice or potatoes! (brown rice shown here)

Really, really yummy! The coffee in it wasn't enough to keep me from missing my Nazarene Nap, either. ;-)