Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Greater Vision...

In about fourteen hours, it will be 2014.  A New Year. While TLC and I try to wrap our minds around this fact, I discovered a prayer written by Billy Graham. It was printed in the Saturday Evening Post Society in 2008. As you read it, you'll believe, we're certain, that it is timeless.

"Our Father and our God, as we stand at the beginning of this new year, we confess our need of Your presence and Your guidance as we face the future.

We each have our hopes and expectations for the year that is ahead of us--but You alone know what it holds for us, and only You can give us the strength and the wisdom we will need to meet its challenges. So help us to humbly put our hands into Your hand, and to trust You and to see Your will for our lives during this coming year.

In the midst of life's uncertainties in the days ahead, assure us of the certainty of Your unchanging love.

In the midst of life's inevitable disappointments and heartaches, help us to turn to You for the stability and comfort we will need.

In the midst of life's temptations and the pull of our stubborn self-will, help us not to lose our way but to have the courage to do what is right in Your sight, regardless of the cost.

And in the midst of our daily preoccupations and pursuits, open our eyes to the sorrows and injustices of our hurting world, and help us to respond with compassion and sacrifice to those who are friendless and in need. May our constant prayer be that of the ancient Psalmist: 'Teach me, O Lord, to follow your decrees; then I will keep them to the end' (Psalm 119:33).

We pray for our nation and its leaders during these difficult times, and for all those who are seeking to bring peace and justice to our dangerous and troubled world. We pray especially for Your protection on all those who serve in our armed forces, and we thank You for their commitment to defend our freedoms, even at the cost of their own lives. Be with their families also, and assure them of Your love and concern for them.

Bring our divided nation together, and give us a greater vision of what You would have us to be. Your Word reminds us that 'Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord' (Psalm 33:12).

As we look back over this past year, we thank You for Your goodness to us--far beyond what we have deserved. May we never presume on Your past goodness or forget all Your mercies to us, but may they instead lead us to repentance, and to a new commitment to make You the foundation and center of our lives this year.

As so, our Father, we thank You for the promise and hope of this new year, and we look forward to it with expectancy and faith. This I ask in the name of our Lord and Savior, who, by His death and resurrection, has given us hope both for this world and the world to come.

Amen."

Thank you, Rev. Graham.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Texas Caviar

January 1st is THREE days away, and you know what that means? Time to get your black-eyed peas ready! (Note: The Kroger in my neck of the woods is already out of the "name brand" cans. We had to scour the store to find the generic. We Southerners don't mess around with our black-eyed peas -- BEPs, for short.)

When I was younger, I was not a fan of BEPs. ELC had to force-feed me one spoonful on New Year's Day to assure my "good luck" for the upcoming year. Many times, My Sweet Dad would make a big ol' pot of BEPs on the stove -- with lots o' bacon (how could I NOT love them with bacon? cRaZy.) and maybe a few jalapenos thrown in, for good measure. I don't specifically remember what year my parents decided they would shake things up a bit and make "Texas Caviar," but let me tell you something, I instantly became a lover of BEPs.

I wanted to share this family favourite recipe with Y'all and wish you the LUCKIEST 2014!

Texas Caviar
(I like to serve mine as a "dip" with Fritos but you can also just shovel 'em in -- sans chips!)

4 cans black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
1 red bell pepper, medium diced
1 green bell pepper, medium diced
1 package Italian dressing mix made to directions -- except use cider vinegar in place of the water and add 2 extra tablespoons
Pinch of garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste

Prepare dressing. Mix ingredients together. Best if you can let this sit overnight in the fridge. We've found that it's also a good idea to drain the liquid off of it, at some point, before serving. It can get a teensy bit too runny if you don't do this.

This year, I'm also adding a can of "fiesta corn." I like to live on the edge. Hominy is quite delish in this recipe, too. Other yummies we've included, over the years, are: black olives; green olives; black beans; Roma or cherry or grape tomatoes; and, last, but not least, those important jalapenos.

Bottom line: Don't hesitate to BE CREATIVE!

Note #2: These BEPs would also make a cute gift -- served in a mason jar wrapped with a pretty grosgrain or burlap bow...SWEET.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Here It Comes...

2014...Four Days and Counting...YIKES.

Christmas in the Texas Country was WONDERFUL. Lovely. Fun. Quite memorable. My Sweet Hubby (MSH) and I shared the day with family and good friends. MSH fixed a scrumptious meal of turkey, dressing, mashed taters, mashed sweet taters (that truly are more like a dessert), green bean casserole (a family favourite), yeast rolls, pecan pie and apple cobbler. Heaven. (Yes. I realize I'm one lucky woman/wife/person. I do a lot of the cleanup. I try to earn my seat at MSH's delicious table!)

Little Leighton (LL) had "Santa" at her home Christmas Eve morning. Then "Santa" here at our casa on Christmas Day. Of course, she's seventeen months old. Not quite sure what the fuss is all about. We all played it low key--just a couple of semi-big (for a tiny girl) gifts and a couple of sacks with goodies. I think TLC will do for LL what we did for her--as she grew up. She'll try to teach LL it's never about the gifts that we receive. It's always about the gifts we give. First, however, even before "gifts," it's about the celebration of the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

We're fast approaching the end of The Nines, too! As y'all may remember, TLC and I committed to doing nine posts per month this year. We've not discussed our 2014 blog goals yet. We did great, I feel, on getting our "nine" posts. We've been not-so-great at our Yummies and Yeehaws. I'm guessing we'll try to commit to getting back in the groove with those.

Have a Fabulous Friday and Wonderful Weekend, wherever in the World you are!

smooches and hugs...
ELC

Sunday, December 22, 2013

grapefruits and mullets...

Although I’m extremely pooped and need to put my old head on my pillow, I’m compelled to respond to TLC’s questions about my questionable backgrounds in the two old photos of her in her preceding post: twinsies.

First, let me take this opportunity to go back a few years—about 49. I was probably about ten years old when I became a kid who wished she had a camera. There were all kinds of cameras back in the Stone Age. I don’t remember “disposables” making an appearance until I was probably in high school—or early college. But there were cool cameras marketed for kids and I always wanted the latest model.

Cameras were a gift you tried to finagle out of your parents for your birthday—or for Christmas. The problem with asking, and receiving, a camera was the future cost of film. And then the processing of said film. And it wasn’t just the actual processing—but also getting your film to the person or place that was going to process it for you. That required transportation. Gas. Time. In short? Cameras could be an ordeal. Therefore, I didn't know much about, or own many, cameras until my early married years.

Apparently I wasn't born with an "eye"for what would/does make a good photograph. (I was destined to be quite nearsighted and maybe that's why I have issues with depth perception?) I never took a photography class. Never bought or borrowed a book on photography. Guess I should have tried harder, TLC. I think you would admit I've become better at noticing what's in the background. (I do adore my iPhone camera. I can take twenty pictures of Little Leighton and delete eighteen of them with the speed of a 40-year-old!)

The picture of TLC “standing on her head?” With the lovely box of grapefruits in the background? I’ll just say it took me two full days, while stranded during Icemageddon last week, to locate this picture. (It was a complete accident that I finally found it. Be grateful, Ms. TLC.!)  I’d love to retake that one. (Actually, I’d love to retake thousands of pictures I took during the first twenty years of our marriage. I’d also like to have the money back for all of the pictures I’ve ended up throwing away. On our first trip to Hawaii, in 1978, I took thirteen rolls of film. I had to process them one at a time (due to the expense) over a period of about six months. I threw half to 2/3rds of those pictures away about six years ago when I discovered them in a box at the Barn apartment. There were endless shots of the same sunset. The same flowers. Ocean. Scenery. Sheesh.)

The picture of TLC standing by a water faucet and Junior’s (our Basset Hound we loved for ten years) water bowl? Again, I concede, this was not a pretty place to take a picture. But the expression on TLC’s face? Priceless to me. The fact that I know that was Junior's bowl? Touches my heart.

You Younguns simply don’t understand how lucky you are to have so many options available to you as you document the stories of your lives. Fantastic cameras, including video cameras, in your cell phones. Editing abilities. Phone Apps that make your pictures look like a professional took them. Photo Shop. Instagram. Shutterfly. Wonderful, helpful, FABULOUS tools to insure you won’t have a picture, in your future or your child’s future, that has unwanted grapefruits, a water faucet and/or a dogbowl in the background. (Not sure I can guarantee your child won't have a mullet! TLC was hair-impaired for so long, I was thrilled she finally grew some. Wasn't about to have it cut until it was completely necessary. And I don't believe we had, or I knew of, the word "mullet." Teeheehee.)

As pitiful as my photography skills were in these two pictures, the memories mean everything to me.

Now, go take a picture of a cherished family member. Or a friend. Or a sunset. Or some flowers. You’ll be laughing with someone ten, twenty, thirty years from now about that picture. Maybe crying a teensy bit, too.

(Less then three days until Christmas! Wwhhhaaaattttt? Less than nine days until 2014! Unbelievable. Seriously.)

Monday, December 16, 2013

twinsies

I'm sittin' here, sippin' my hot cocoa (ELC has me officially hooked on Swiss Miss "Sensible Sweets" Diet Hot Chocolate with Jet-Puffed Miniature Marshmallows -- and, FYI: hot chocolate should be equal parts cocoa and marshmallows in my book. ELC learned this the hard way last Thursday night as we settled in to watch Debbie Macomber's "Trading Christmas" movie on the Hallmark Channel -- well, technically it was on ELC's DVR -- po-TAY-toe/po-TAH-toe. She only gave me 8 'mallows. I wanted 24. Lesson learned, ELC. Lesson learned.) and realizing I never shared these pictures ELC found last week when she was trapped during Icemageddon 2013. I think it's official:

Little Leighton is my twin!

This first picture (that's me on top -- with the interesting grapefruits in the background) shows us both "standing on our head," a term ELC and My Sweet Dad coined when I would be toddlin' along, mindin' my own business, when one of them, or one of my four older brothers, would randomly shout:

STAND ON YOUR HEAD!

Apparently I would stop what I was doing and, you guessed it, "stand" on my head.

I'll just pretend they were laughing with me and not at me, since we now do this to Little Leighton!

Exhibit A:


ELC, would you like to elaborate on the massive amount of grapefruits in a cardboard box?

I know it's a smidge hard to see in this next picture (I'm on the left -- by the lovely water faucet and dog bowl), but I'm fairly certain LL and I share the exact same "squinty" grin -- complete with wild hair! (In fairness to LL, this was taken post-nap/pre-brush, and she has significantly less of a mullet than I did.)

Exhibit B:


ELC, would you like to explain that water bowl (and my mullet)?

Here's hoping your Monday was far more MERRY than manic!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

wonder...


Is there anything more wonderful than seeing Christmas -- its magic and sparkle -- through the eyes of a child?

Have a blessed weekend!

Monday, December 9, 2013

day four...

My Sweet Hubby (MSH) and I are stuck. Literally. Inside our home. It was exactly four days this afternoon—at about 3:00 p.m. CST. Actually, I’ve been out to take a few pictures. MSH’s been out and over to our Barn and Barn apartment about four times each day. To check on our cat. Morty. Who does seem to be appreciative. Truly. (And worry not—he’s warm and toasty!)

Saturday and Sunday mornings, MSH showered over at our apartment. We have an “aerobic” septic system. (There’s a different kind at our Barn and apartment.) The sprinkler heads were frozen by Friday morn and he turned the pump completely off that afternoon. Meaning: No laundry. No long showers. No flushes—every single time. CONSERVE. Our key word. (However, yesterday he turned the pump on for a few hours, allowing me to do two loads of laundry. I have four more to go. Who knew clean undies would be so valued?!?)

BTW: Not to fear—I have showered. But major fast. It’s been four days of no makeup. No big Texas hair—just a brush through in the mornings. Mostly jammies. So for someone who, after 47 years of wearing makeup and fixing BIG hair and constantly complaining about how tired she is of it all, you’d think I’d be glad I could have a significant break from these routines. Shockingly, at this point, this morning, I’d like to have a LONG, hot shower. I’d like to wash my hair, fix it, and put some makeup on. I’m dreaming of a burger, tots and large Diet Vanilla Coke from Sonic. Yes. Yes, I am. No. No, it's not happening. We're probably perched up here for at least another day. Possibly two more.

I’ll let TLC recap her experience with Little Leighton (LL) during Icemagedon. ASAP. She’s basically trying to get through the long days in their maison. (LL has technically not been out of their casa since last Wednesday—when she and I went for a walk to the Duck Pond. Fortunately, at sixteen months, she’s not quite understanding how bored she is!)

TLC and I have reminded each other, by text, every couple of hours, for four days, that it could be worse. We could have no electricity. We could have little food. We could be forced to brave the elements and dangerous “Cobblestone Ice” (Yes. A new term we've been told was coined here in Texas. Meaning ice that is like cobblestones when one is looking at it or attempting to drive and/or walk on it.) to get to a job that demands we be present. We have deep, true, beyond sincere gratitude for all of those people who MUST get to work: doctors, nurses, policewomen and men, firewomen and men, EMTs, airport personnel, bus and train personnel, gas station peeps, etc. Even grocery store owners and employees trying to keep their businesses open so others can have food and water. God bless their hearts and souls.

For a little sympathy: Please enjoy a few pictures of what it’s been like up here on our hill in North Central Texas (Be sure to keep in mind, this is NOT snow--it is solid, hard, scary ice.):

Looks like snow. Solid ice. 



See the little bird? 

Our hill! Solid ice.
(The speed limit sign was put up when we built our home--
Too many trucks were heading down too fast.)

From Facebook

Stay cozy and warm, Wherever in the World you are, Dear Friends...

p.s.: I'm officially out of Diet Dews, Hershey's Bliss White Chocolates and my Kroger's Mini Cinnamon Rolls TLC gifted me last Thursday. We're almost out of milk. I never had cocoa. I'm completely over this.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Icemageddon

Yesterday afternoon, in North Central Texas, we had our Second Wave of sleety/bitter cold/icy weather hit. Some creative person has penned this event Icemageddon. Clever, right? The First Wave, a couple of weeks ago, was not too terribly paralyzing, although My Sweet Hubby (MSH) and I were stuck up on our hill for two nights/three days. (We have a really steep road that is partially paved and sealed. When it’s wet with rain or ice, it can be treacherous. Fortunately, because MSH is retired and I can make my schedule for my part-time work the way I need it to be, we have the luxury of staying in. Happily “trapped.” We cherish this lovely option.)

I’d gone to TLC’s casa Wednesday morn. She had a doctor’s appointment and I had a “Grammy Nanny” appointment with Little Leighton (LL)! I was spending one night. LL and I played and played and napped and laughed and sang and played some more. Heaven. All the while I was makin’ my memories with My Grandbaby Angel Girl, I was hearing that the Second Wave was inevitable. By the Way: Our Dallas/Ft. Worth Weather Peeps have placed themselves in some pickles the past few years. Several times, they’ve made us all overreact with fear, based on their wild predictions of tornadoes and storms—Rain and Ice and Snow. Oh MY. We mostly agree—it’s probably wise to be overly cautious—especially when it comes to tornadoes and ice/snowstorms. However, we seem to find ourselves fairly skeptical.

Even though TLC and I live two hours away from each other—about 110 miles one way—we’re considered to be in the same geographical region—that of North Central Texas.  Yet our weather could not be more different. Like, WAY different. A lot. TLC’s city has received significantly more rain that we’ve been blessed with out here in the “sticks.” Yes, all of Texas is still in a drought. Our country home is located in an area that is a tidbit more “droughty” than TLC’s.  Despite our distance, we watch the same TV stations for our weather reports.

The “experts” were predicting the precipitation, in the form of sleet and ice, would hit early Thursday evening. It would be coming from the Northwest. MSH and I live west/southwest of TLC. MSH and I agreed I should be safe if I left TLC's home by 12:30 yesterday to head to our home. And I did. Well, okay. It was 12:34 when I drove away from her curb.  I hit icy/sleety rain an hour into my journey. (Sigh. Well, 1:30. 6:00ish. Close enough, Weather Wizards.) There was some white-knuckling as I held on to my steering wheel for dear life. I’m certainly no scientist, but the roads had evidently been warm enough for several days—allowing even the bridges and overpasses to be only a teensy scary. My white-knuckles came from other drivers speeding past me. Like fools. Crazy, insane fools. Endangering all of us trying to keep our cars from being wrecked. As well as our bodies. Makes me nUtS.

I literally got home in the nick of time. As I drove up our hill and into our garage, a steady amount of sleet started falling. I breathed a sigh of relief. MSH helped me unload (I’d taken enough clothes to last for three days—in case the weathermen and gals were quite off on their time-line of pending doom.) I went straight for my jammies and got on our couch! Drug myself off to have some chicken taco soup for supper. Then got off, again, to drag myself to bed. I’m not going to lie. I got back on said couch first thing this morning. Until two hours ago. Yes, I could be a professional “slug.”

At this time, TLC, Her Hubby and LL are chillin’. Literally. Praying their electricity doesn’t go out. A couple of hours ago, 240,000 homes in the Dallas area were without power. It’s supposed to get down to 18 degrees tonight. No heat? Not good. MSH and I also pray we won’t lose our electricity. We have an all-electric home. (At least TLC and Her Gang have a gas fireplace they could sleep in front of, if necessary! We do have a fireplace and firewood—if we get desperate. As much as we love a nice, cozy fire, we’ve discovered the rest of our home becomes super frigid when MSH builds and maintains one in our Great Room. Hence, no fire unless we have an emergency heat shortage.)

As I type this, I’m watching a big group of Cardinals (about 15 of 'em—that’s big to moi)—males and females—looking for the seed we put out as often as possible, in six birdfeeders, at the back of our home. I have a perfect view of their swooping dives and carefree escapades from my office. It looks like a Hallmark Christmas card out there. (I do love me some Hallmark Christmas cards, folks.)

You might be thinkin' I’m bored. I'd agree. This is long. Ridiculously long. I shall end. If you happen to be somewhere toasty (anywhere above 40 degrees), please say a little prayer for all of the States affected by Icemageddon. There're many. We’d be grateful. Truly.

Heading for a hot cup of tea. Actually, I hope I find some cocoa! I'm pretty sure I need chocolate.

Smooches, Sweeties Everywhere!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

My Favourite Things: Christmas Decor Edition

I decked my halls this past weekend. I wish it was acceptable (and not considered lazy) to leave Christmas decorations up all. year. long. I ADORE this time of year -- it genuinely makes my spirits bright.

I wanted to share a few (okay, NINE -- you know that's our "theme" this year) of my favourite and most treasured pieces from my little holiday collection.


I love this little sled I lean up against my fireplace. This year, I added a little sparkle to it with a sprig of glittery evergreen (thank you, Michaels). I can't quite remember where I purchased it -- I think it might have been in our beloved Granbury. Or perhaps Canton. 


I adore my stockings holders. My husband, on the other hand, doesn't understand why one of the reindeer is facing the opposite direction. I did that on purpose, of course. I like to be different and live on the wildly festive side!


I covet this sweet Santa on a rockin' reindeer. I inherited this from ELC. I asked her earlier if she remembered where she found this. She could only recall she purchased it on sale. Well, there you go. She will have to arm wrestle me for this if she decides she'd like it back one day.


This little snow globe is so special. My Sweet Dad (MSD) gave me this two Christmases ago. It was a surprise -- the loveliest surprise. It plays pretty music. Little Leighton loves it, too. She would give up Elmo for a week if we would just let her hold it. Silly Girl.


This is the most meaningful and powerful (if ornaments can be powerful -- which I think they can be) ornament in my possession. I cannot even believe ELC let me have this. The "original" Leighton -- the one we are all named after -- ELC's Nana -- my Great-Grandmother -- LL's Great-Great-Grandmother -- made this beautiful bird. I love the colors and sequins. I can't wait to give this to LL someday to hang on her own tree. WOW. How amazing will that be?


I actually made this cute ornament about a week ago (thank you, Shutterfly). I decided I would start a new tradition of "making" ornaments featuring a picture of my precious daughter each year. Look at that wittle-bitty-itty baby! I can't believe how much she's changed and grown. She makes Christmas extra MERRY.


Do y'all remember these ADORABLE Hallmark reindeer from ages ago? I loved them as a little girl -- I actually have the stuffed/doll versions on display in LL's room. ELC found these ornaments awhile back -- though I'm not sure where. I guess a Hallmark! They make me remember how very excited I would get when ELC and MSD would get our Christmas decorations down. ELC and I would decorate the tree (while listening to The Carpenters' Christmas album) and MSD would hang our outside lights. 

That sweet little owl behind them was a fabulous gift from January last year -- she made it! She's so super talented.


This ornament was purchased on my trip to Fredericksburg with ELC the weekend before I found out I was pregnant with LL. We bought it at a fun store in Llano, Texas. I, of course, had to have the "5." ELC has the "6." I saw the complete set -- all 12 -- at St. Helen's -- one of my favourite stores on the Square in Granbury. Hint. Hint, ELC -- sure would be nice to have the other 11. Stocking stuffer, methinks?


I love my burlap "Vintage Christmas" pillow (via My Adobe Cottage) perched on my bright blue chair (thanks to my Chair Painter, aka: MSD).

Now I'm off to sing a few more fa-la-la's before I settle down for a long winter's nap. 

Merry (early) Christmas to all and to all a good night!