Sunday, October 19, 2014

ELC'S Top 10 Favourite Signs It's FALL At Our Country Casa!

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Those of us who live in North Central Texas love, love, LOVE Autumn/Fall! We've had it with hideously hot, stifling, horrible weather. Stick a fork in us. We're DONE.

Yes, TLC is completely, totally, FOREVER OBSESSED with Autumn. (That's one of the millions of things this Mama loves about her.) But My Sweet Hubby (MSH) and I need/adore/cherish Fall, too. For him, it's the beginning of having to mow (whether it's our lawn or pastures) every ten days to two weeks. Rather than every week. (Well, pastures are only mowed three to five times a year. But they are a big job that takes many hours when they require attention.) For both of us, it's the time of cool, crisp, simply delightful mornings and evenings. (It can still be quite hot at mid-day and in the afternoons in our neck o' the woods. Even in the typically "winter" months.)

Although we normally put out about forty pumpkins, this year we decided to cut back a bit. I think we've kept it to 20ish medium to large pumpkins. (I don't really count the tiny/small ones.) I have spared y'all pictures of all 20. You're quite welcome!

Here, then, are the signs around our place that it's Fall:

Hope each and every single one of you have had a lovely weekend...wherever in the world you are!

Punkin Smooches, Darlings...

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

TLC's Top 10 Favourite Signs It's FALL At My House!

As most of you know, I ADORE this time of year. It makes me so happy. Crisp air. Crunchy leaves. Pumpkins GALORE. What's not to love?

I wanted to share --via photos-- the Top Ten Signs You Know It's Fall at Casa de TLC.

Here we go!

1. Our own personal "Pumpkin Patch" in our front garden:

2. The new-this-year iron pumpkin on my porch from ELC's local HEB grocery store:

3. My FAVOURITE Pumpkin Scentsy Warmer ("burning" cozy scents like "Autumn Harvest" and "Cedar Cider") and the YUMMIEST "Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin" candle from Bath & Body Works--both make my home feel quite "zen":

4. My sparkly "BOO!" sign from a local store in my Hometown:

5. Pinecones and a damask pumpkin:

6. A simple, rustic, burlap pumpkin:

7. Mini creamy white pumpkins and tiny pumpkin pie pumpkins (complete with those cute, little, twiggy curly-qs!):

8. Seven eclectic pumpkins, perched on my hearth (I suppose I should have made this #7!):

9. My "Trick-or-Treat" sign sittin' on my mantle (and all of the precious fabric pumpkins I've collected from here and there--"there" being the ones I've "borrowed" from ELC!):

10. My new FAVOURITE pillow--a sweet gift from My Sweet ELC (don't you love the word "gather?"):

Happy Fall, Y'all!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

ELC's TOP TEN Favourite Things About 10-10

Last Thursday, TLC and Little Leighton (LL) came to the country for a 2-night visit. My Sweet Hubby (MSH) and I cleaned, shopped and got all of LL’s toys out the day before. We waited, anxiously, all morning long, for them to come up the hill!

Friday (10-10) morn, MSH had to leave for Ft. Worth for errands and a lunch meeting. TLC had a hair cut and color in town and also had to leave early. That left LL and I free to play and play and PLAY! Which we did.

From the moment TLC and LL arrive until they leave, and except for meals, naps and bedtime, LL is One Busy Little Bee! It’s been three weeks since her last visit. She always acts like it’s been six months—running around in “her” room, checking out the toys in the master bedroom and my office, looking for Morty, The Cat, and talking to Buddy Bear, The Dog. MSH and I savor every single second she’s here.

Here're my favourite things about 10-10 (Because you’ve been waiting patiently, for days, for this, right?):

  1. Once MSH and TLC were gone, LL and I finished up a good breakfast of oatmeal and strawberries. While I washed dishes, LL played in her/The Guest Room. It’s right by the kitchen, so it’s easy to keep an eye on her. Since she currently runs (or as she says, “Zooms!”) everywhere (“I zooming, Gwammy!”), we all have to be ready to stop what we’re doing and follow her. She came out of the bedroom with her stroller and (doll) diaper bag. She told me she was going to “Go see the ducks, Gwammy!” (This is what she and I do when I’m at her home—we do this A LOT!) I asked her if she wanted to take one of her “babies” in the stroller, as it was empty. She said, “Yes, Gwammy. I get Sweetie!” We decided the “pond” would be in Grammy and Pa-Pa’s room. When we got in there, I suggested that the rug, by our French doors, serve as the “pond.” We always take a Ziploc bag of bread when we visit LL’s ducks. I got a baggie and some of her “pretend” bread and then thought of the two ducks in our tub that she plays with during bathtime. We put them on the rug and VOILA. A duck pond extraordinnaire. She had such fun! I’m confident this will be a new “regular” thing we do at some point during a visit.

  1. I tried to sneak off to put in a load of laundry. It took LL approximately 15 seconds to realize I wasn’t in our room. “Gwammy? GWAMMY? Where are you?” she loudly says as she “zooms” around trying to find me. Can you tell I adore the way she says “Gwammy.”

  1. We read books in “her” room. She sat in my lap and listened to every single word I said. Of the five books we read, we read two twice. I’d read them ten times each if she wanted me to. Fifty. I would.

  1. Once TLC got back home, we caught her up on our shenanigans and then started to think about lunch. I also needed to get our dinner prepared and in the fridge. I’d figured out how I could make my Hot Chicken Salad “gluten-free.” We sat LL up on the island and she watched, intently, as I cut up the grilled chicken and TLC cut up celery and red bell peppers. She asked for some of everything. I got her some Ranch dressing so she could dip the celery and bell peppers in it. Lunch on the island instead of in her high chair? Scandalous. She thought it was grand.

  1. At breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks that occur while in a high chair at the kitchen/dining room table, LL reminds us “Buh-wessing?” (LL uses the letter “W” for her "L's" and “R’s." Sometimes, if I’m having a teensy bit of trouble understanding what she’s saying, I substitute the letter “W” in there somewhere and can figure it out 98% of the time!) We typically start her out on something like toast or a salad or some fruit while we’re getting everything together. As soon as we’re all seated, here comes LL's "Buh-wessing?": “God is great. God is good. Let us thank Him for our food. Amen.” We all say it loud and proud! She says every word with us. It makes me get tears in my eyes. If she has “seconds,” or when it’s time for her to have a cookie or some kind of dessert, she’ll say: “Buh-wessing, again?” Yep. We do it again. We figure we can never, ever thank God enough for everything we have. At Our 10-10 Special Island Lunch? We said our buh-wessing.

  1. After a great nap, TLC and I surprised LL with a trip to The Pumpkin Patch at Lone Star Family Farm near Stephenville, Texas—about 16 miles from our home. It was hot—this is Texas—but it was FUN. We took lots of pictures at their cute little “photo spots” they’d set up. LL saw a charming cow (or it could have been a bull!)—in a pen. Eating hay. Two horses. Two corn mazes (We didn't have time to do either one.) We went on a hayride—a flatbed wagon of hay bales pulled by a big tractor. Although a tidbit dusty, it was worth every minute of the experience. We were actually the only three on the hayride. That made it quite special. Y’all know how we like to pretend we’re “Royal.” It's now a treasured memory!

  1. After dinner, LL entertained TLC, MSH and me on the back porch. She sings the ABC song and misses not one letter. She dances. She twirls. She giggles. She makes silly noises. She laughs out loud and with gusto. She's a hoot.

  1. Bathtime has always been a favourite time of the day for LL. MSH and I have a big garden tub with lots o’ toys. LL gets into her own little world and needs no entertaining. She’ll occasionally ask me if I’d like a “latte?” (She can say that “L!”) I, of course, think her lattes are the best I’ve ever had. Could she think I’m really tasting the bubbles? Hmmm. I don't know.

  1. It’s quite the process to get LL’s jammies on. She’s still in diapers. So there’s that. Then she needs a saline nose solution every night. For on-going congestion. TLC has done this almost since she was born, so there’s really no fussing from LL about it. TLC will let her hold that container when she’s done. Friday night LL said: “Gwammy, this is gwuten-fwee!” Oh. My. Bless her precious little heart. TLC is educating her about her medical situation. Which, of course, is an excellent idea. Jammies. Teeth-brushing. (In cold weather, the final step is getting her hair blow-dried. Right now, in Texas, it’s not cold. In fact, it's still darn hot. Sigh.) LL isn’t a huge fan of brushing her teeth. She has to be reminded that Daniel Tiger brushes his teeth. And Elmo. And Abby. And Sofia, Doc and all the Disney Princesses. Eventually, when The Bedtime Process is complete, it’s time for books. Three, to be exact. Two prayer books and a Ladybug Girl.

  1. Saying good night to LL is THE BEST. She’s super-cuddly and loves a hug and a smooch. She says: “I wove you, Gwammy.” Sigh. My heart smiles bigger than Texas.
Hope Y’all have had a FABULOUS day…and that this week will be full of peace, joy, wisdom, magic and some sparkle here and there!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

TLC's (and LL's!) Top Ten Favourite Gluten-Free Goodies

Since Little Leighton's (LL) Celiac diagnosis, and with the help and research of My Sweet Mom and Dad, we have become quite the gluten-free (GF) connoisseurs. If there is any blessing out of what has been quite the hellacious summer, it's that LL is young enough to not notice the difference between gluten-full and gluten-free. It also helps that GF foods have come along way--not just in taste but availability, too. (We now just need the price of these items to come WAY down. Gosh, they are expensive!)

For my first "Top Ten," I thought I would list our current favourite GF staples/snacks! This list is in no particular order, and it's important to note that I would honestly eat every single one of these products, even if we didn't have to--they are THAT GOOD.

1. Tate's Bake Shop Chocolate Chip Cookies. I have found these at my local Market Street grocery store, but Trader Joe's has one that is practically identical. They are buttery and crispy and delicious.

2. Annie's Cocoa & Vanilla Gluten-Free Bunny Cookies. These are LL's snack staple--she takes them to Sunday School and Preschool, since she can't have the snacks they provide.

3. Pirate's Booty. We CRAVE this stuff!

4. Justin's Maple Almond Butter. It is definitely pricey but worth every dollar. We love the texture and flavor. LL's Preschool is peanut-free, so she takes an almond butter sandwich (on GF bread).

5. Boulder Canyon Hummus Chips. This is my latest and greatest Costco discovery. We are obsessed with these! They are light and crunchy.

6. Earth's Best Gluten-Free Broccoli and Cheese Nuggets. I had actually purchased these before LL's diagnosis (without realizing they were GF) as a tasty way to sneak in extra veggies. She wouldn't touch them then, but, lo and behold, she truly likes them now. However, I am careful with these because we have to watch LL's lactose intake. Many, many Celiacs need to also be dairy-free, too. LL currently drinks lactose-free milk which has helped tremendously. (We are beyond grateful to our GI doctor who helped me figure this out!)

7. Trader Joe's Soft-Baked Snickerdoodle. This is an ELC and My Sweet Dad (MSD) discovery. In the first few weeks after being released from the hospital, LL requested these 24-7. Because we desperately needed her to gain weight, we let her eat them whenever she wanted. Yes, even at 5:00 in the morning. They are fluffy, pillow-like cookies! Delightful.

8. Katz Gluten-Free Powdered Donuts. (The Glazed variety are just as scrumptious!) Dare I say better than Mrs. Baird's? Quite possibly. We have "Donut Tuesdays" at our house every week. I count down the days! ELC and MSD have found these at Central Market. I located them at my local Sprout's. They're in the freezer-section.

9. Udi's Cinnamon Raisin Bread. An excellent breakfast option, but I also made LL's almond butter sandwich using this bread today to slightly "mix-up" her school lunch.  She really enjoyed it! (We've also found that the Udi's brand of breads--all varieties-- is our favourite.)

10. Sabra Classic Hummus. LL cherishes "dips!" Ranch (Hidden Valley is GF). Guacamole. She especially loves dipping red bell peppers into hummus--an excellent way to sneak in a little extra protein, fiber and Vitamin C!

Even if you don't need to eat GF, I hope you'll give some of these a try! I think you'll truly be pleasantly surprised at how yummy they me on this.