Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Football and Fiction...What More Can You Ask For?

You all should know by now that I have a great love of fiction books. I like all kinds of books, but fiction is my favorite...and humorous fiction is even better! It's no secret around here either that Susan May Warren is one of my favorite fiction writers. (And not just because she sends me Starbuck's Gift Cards and Pop Rocks in the mail!) :) I love everything I've ever read of hers, and I especially love when she's funny. I've probably said this about her Josie Series before, but reading her books are like reading some of my favorite blogs. They are real and often her characters are thinking exactly what I would be thinking in the same situation.

And, if you've read here for any amount of time, you should also know that I am a HUGE football fan. I love many different sports, but football is the only sport that I will watch no matter which teams are playing. I love to watch Andy Roddick play tennis, and I try to always watch my Astros, and my Spurs. I watch NASCAR, but only the events that Jeff Gordon participates in. But I will watch anybody play football.

So imagine my delight when I went to my mailbox, and found The Great Christmas Bowl by Susan May Warren! The Sub-title reads: "One mother's hilarious quest to serve up the perfect holiday" Have you been there? I know I have! As a mom, I always want everything I plan to be perfect...don't you?

A few years ago, I read The Worst Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson to my kids during the week between Thanksgiving and Christmas. This year, I plan to read The Great Christmas Bowl instead. :)

It's the story of a mom who (although grudgingly at times) does everything she can to make those around her happy while learning the true, biblical meaning of the word "hospitality". It's funny, yet powerful in teaching the reader this lesson as well.

If you're looking for a fun yet purposeful story to share with your family this year, or a great Christmas gift for a reader you know, this book is a fabulous choice, and I highly recommend it!

Share your Favorite Christmas Story and Recipe!

Do you have a favorite Christmas Story? How about a favorite family recipe? Share your memories with the Great Christmas Bowl family! Click here to submit your story and recipe, and YOUR post will be featured here, on the GCB blog! Then, download the entire recipe book at the GCB Tea Party, Saturday December 5th! While you're there, you can also read the stories and recipes that have already been submitted.

If you submit a story and recipe, be sure to come back and leave a comment letting me know, so I can go and check it out!

Monday, September 28, 2009

It Was a Beautiful Wedding...

...the bride's colors were a lovely shade of aqua blue with hot pink accents. All the bridesmaids were dressed in aqua blue strapless dresses with a wide hot pink band at the empire waist level. The accent tables were covered in aqua blue with a wide hot pink band around the top. The tables that had white cloths had hot pink roses on them.

And this is the groom's cake she had me make...

That's right, a red and black Texas Tech themed cake! Fortunately, she did use white rose petals on this table so there was no immediate clashing going on. :) (You can click on the picture to enlarge it if you need to.)

The original idea came to me because she was planning to decorate the groom's table with pictures of she and her man at Texas Tech University...where they met...and fell in love. She thought that a Texas Tech cake in the center would be fitting. But, she wanted cake for 75 people, and seriously, I love my niece, but a Texas Tech cake that big goes against every Longhorn bone in my body. :) So I came up with the idea of making a Texas Tech yearbook, and adding photos of the two of them in the yearbook...that way, all I had to do was put a little Texas Tech logo in the corner--it gets the point across without being too offensive. :)

So, she sent several photos for me to choose from, and I picked what would fit on the cake, and that I could come up with catchy-yearbooky-phrases for.

It really was a beautiful wedding, and the bride was gorgeous. I'll try to post more pictures from the wedding later in the week, but the girl is out of dance class now, so I've got to get home and get supper on the stove for the family.

Tomorrow, I'll tell you all about "The Great Christmas Bowl"...

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

If Yesterday Was "Ugh"...Then Today Is Just "Blah"

Now THAT got you all excited to read today's post, didn't it? :)

I am feeling a bit better today than I did yesterday ear-throat-infection-wise. (I love how you can add hyphens, and come up with all new compound words whenever you feel like it...at least in Blogland anyway.) But surprisingly enough, it's raining...again. I KNOW! Deep in the heart of Texas where we spent our entire summer as well as the end of our spring season with temperatures well above 100 and not a drop of rain for months, it's been raining for days...and it did it a couple of weeks ago too...so it feels like it's been raining for weeks. And as much as I am enjoying the 60 degrees, and being able to wear my fall clothes (because they are my favorites), I don't really enjoy the rainy days. Especially when I can't curl up on the couch with some apple cider and a good book, or a movie, or even a DVR full of my favorite tv shows. No, life has had to go on as usual, and I'm sick, and it's raining, and everything is muddy, and dirty, and BLAH.

So, I decided that I needed a couple of things to perk myself up today. 1) A Caramel Apple Spice from Starbucks--courtesy of a gift card from Susan May Warren 2) Something to either remind me what an amazing blessing it is to be a mother or Something to make me laugh.

So Caramel Apple Spice? CHECK!

And as for being reminded of blessings or laughing out loud, I decided to go with both! The following posts were written by two of my favorite bloggers who just so happen to be related to each other! The first reminds me of why I love being a mother, the second makes me laugh...and inspires me to do a better job at keeping my house clean! Sometimes, I stay away from these two particular blogs because I can begin to feel completely inadequate at mothering, teaching, housekeeping, and even blogging for crying out loud! But, on days like today (or weeks like this week) they are comforting friends that help to get me back on track.

So, if you need a reminder of the magic that is motherhood, come with me to In the Midst of It and read the first blog post I ever read, and one of my all-time favorites My Tattooed Soul.

And if you just need a good laugh and a swift kick in the pants, come with me to A Chelsea Morning and read another of my all-time favorite posts, I Febreze My Dog.

Or if you have the time, do like I'm doing, and go read both!

And if you can fenangle yourself a Caramel Apple Spice from Starbucks...I highly recommend that too! :)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Did I mention yesterday that I was having an issue with my ear?

Well I am.

And I finally went to the doctor today, and it is infected....sigh.

Needless to say, I'm not feeling very well so I think I'll take a break today and instead of writing here on the blog while the girl is dancing, I'll go and catch up with some of your blogs...something I don't get to do nearly enough of lately!

I started antibiotics today, so hopefully I'll be in a better frame of mind for writing tomorrow. :) At least I have the season premier of NCIS to look forward to from my couch tonight!

Oh, and while I am here, I have a question for all of those out there who are smarter than I am.

When I go to my Google Reader...which I love...most of the blogs I read have the whole post there on the reader, but some of them only have an excerpt, and I have to click to the actual blog to read the post. I generally use the Google Reader when I'm reading on my phone, and while I can access the blogs, they take FOREVER to load on the phone. Does anyone know if there is a setting that I can change to enable full posts to show up, or is that something the blog writer has set on their end?

And if that last paragraph made no sense to you, you probably can't answer my question anyway, so just ignore me and move on. :)

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Weekend in Review

Hello Blogland. I hope you all had a great weekend!

Football-wise, mine was great! Both my Longhorns and my Texans won this weekend...WOOT!

I made my standing "UT Football Season Cookies" and other assorted goodies on Friday for my friend's tailgate party, but I totally forgot to take pictures...again. Sorry about that. Truthfully though, you've all seen my longhorn game day cookies many times before, so even though I do different ones on different occasions, you have pretty much seen them all.

On Saturday, Ben and the boys had a Trial's Motorcycle competition. They were here in town for a change, so the little kids and I were able to go out and watch them. Ben and Benji got off to a slow start, and finished 3rd and 6th in their respective classes, but Jon had a great run and won 1st place for his class. :)

Generally, Jon has at least one really good wreck during a weekend competition. He didn't have any this weekend, but he did manage to fall out of a tree...sigh. He was finished with his run and wanted to get up in this tree to watch the other competitors from a better angle, and the branch gave way as he tried to swing up onto it. He was still in full riding gear, including his helmet (thank you Jesus!), so he escaped with a decent road rash on his back and some bruising, but nothing major. I think he'd be safer staying on his motorcycle! How often do you hear a mother say that? :)

Other than that it was a pretty quiet weekend at the Casa de KidsandCakes. I've got some sort of ear issue going on, and planned to go see the doctor about it this morning, but woke up feeling much better, so I decided to give it one more day and see how it is tomorrow. All the pain is gone, but it still keeps closing up on me and it makes it hard to hear anything. Not to mention that it makes my own voice sound so loud in my head, that I've been talking very quietly. The kids keep having to ask me to repeat myself which is really frustrating!

This week promises to be another busy one. My niece is getting married on Saturday, and I'm making the groom's cake for the wedding. There is also another Longhorn home game this weekend, so I should be making the cookies and things again, but I'm going to have to see how my week is going before I agree to that with the wedding and rehearsal dinner also on my plate.

I got a comment on my Facebook from a friend who tried the Vidalia Onion Casserole. She used the original recipe rather than my version, but she did a mixture of different cheeses. She said, "It Was To Die For!" :) She put it on ribeye steak....yumm!!! I'd love to hear if anyone else has tried it and how you used it. So leave me a comment and let me know if you do try it.

I think that's about it for my weekend. How about you? Did you do anything fun this weekend? Did your favorite football team win? Leave a comment and let me know!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

It's Been a Busy Week...

The new homeschool year is in full swing at our house, and since little Dave was added to the list of active students in my house, I've been having quite a time trying to fit everyone in! This week went a little more smoothly than last week, but it's still pretty crazy. And with Maddie starting up dance classes 4 times a week now too...I'm not sure I'll ever get my head above the water!

If you have been wondering about the fact that I have actually posted something for the past 4 days in a row, that would be due to the dance classes. Three afternoons a week, I am up here with her for an hour long class, and then one class a week is only 30 minutes. So, I figured out how to tether my cell phone to my netbook and run the internet from the phone onto the netbook, and while she dances, I write drivel!

However, there are no dance classes on Fridays or the weekends, and so I will warn you now that those days will be spent trying to catch up on things at the homestead, so I'll be scarce again until Monday. You can, of course, always keep up with me on Twitter. If anything exciting happens....or if a commercial makes me angry....it will show up there! (I believe Jack-in-the-Box was the subject of my last Twitter-rant.)

The problem I'm having today is that I have absolutely nothing to tell you of any interest at all!

I guess I could tell you why I'm boycotting Blockbuster....not an exciting story....but a rant too big for Twitter at any rate.

Okay, here's the story....

My boy rented a video game from Blockbuster. When the date came to return the game, I specifically asked the boy to check the case to make SURE the game was inside before I drove all the way over there. (The Blockbuster close to our house didn't have the game, so his dad took him to a store further away to rent it, and the idea of driving all the way over there for nothing was not appealing to me.) The boy brought the case to me and assured me the game was, in fact, inside.

I took the game to the Blockbuster, and before I stuck it in the return box, I double-checked to make sure that the game really was there....because I've had that boy for awhile now. Satisified that the game was inside, I returned it, looked around the store for a bit, and went on my merry way.

A week or so later, I got a phone message from Blockbuster informing me that I had returned an empty case...WHAT????????

So, I began to doubt my memory...because it has been known to fail me at times, and I made the boys go through every single disk and case in the house to look for that game....it was not there....reaffirming my faith in my memory skills.

I called the Blockbuster, and informed them that there must be some mistake because that case was checked twice and the game was in there when I returned it.

"No ma'am. I have an empty case here with no game. You must have misplaced it."

Aargh! So I told her that we had torn apart the house, and it wasn't here. I was sure that it was in the case when I returned it, but since she wouldn't believe me, what was I supposed to do next? She told me to come in and just pay for the game. Again...aargh! The game happened to be an older one, so the price was only $4.99....I think we paid more to rent the stupid thing!

So I headed up there a few days later to pay them....

"That will just be a $5.40 late charge."

"Fine, but what about paying for the game itself?"

"Oh no, there's just a late fee, the game was returned 2 days ago."

"Um, what? It wasn't returned by me...I tried to tell you people that someone else had your game!"

"No, you must have found it and brought it in."

"Um, NO, I didn't."

"Well then, it must have been your husband."

"Um, NO, it wasn't."

"Well, it had to be one of you, because you returned an empty case, and you owe us $5.40 late charge."

And that my friends is why I will no longer give my business to Blockbuster!

And I hate to end on that bitter note, but the girl is out of class already, and I must get home and get dinner on the table! Anyone else that wants to rant about something, feel free to put it in the comments! Misery loves company and all that jazz! :)

Have a great weekend, and I'll see you all on Monday!


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Surprise...Another Cake!

I have 2 friends at church, who I actually met when I was about 11 or 12 years old, but we became reacquainted recently when they began coming to the same church I attend.

Anyway, the husband is an amazing artist and he makes the most magnificent banners for our church sanctuary. So when his wife called and asked me to make his birthday cake, I knew it was going to have to be something different than I've ever done before.

We knew he'd like a cross and lots of bright colors, but as far as a design, there was no plan. I remembered in the back of my head that I had seen a cross cake done in what looked like stained glass before, and I thought that might be a good way to use all those bright colors without using flowers and other "frou-frou" decorations.

When I mentioned the idea to his wife, she told me that he actually MAKES STAINED GLASS items himself! Can you say, "PERFECT!"?

So, I hit the internet looking for a picture to use as an example to get me started, and I came up with this design.
The cake itself is red velvet with a bright white buttercream icing. The "glass panes" are made with colored piping gel and outlined with black buttercream mixed with silver petal dust. The bright white buttercream allows the gel colors to remain pure rather than cloudy or muted. I piped the "beads" with the bright white buttercream mixed with an edible pearl glaze to help them stand out just a bit. The scroll work was also done with this mixture. The dove is painted in black buttercream on a fondant disk that was allowed to dry until firm.

Oh, and pay no attention to the dates on these pictures...my son changed the batteries in the camera for me, and I forgot to tell him he'd need to reset the date! I only just noticed that when I posted the picture! :)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Funny Story

Those of you who know me in real life will probably remember that my husband, Ben, wore the same glasses for the past 10+ years. He's not a big fan of change...ahem.

Anyway, a little over a year ago, he needed to get his prescription updated, and consequently had to get new frames as well. When we went to Lenscrafters to choose the new frames, he immediately gravitated toward those that were similar to the ones he had. I kept trying to get him to branch out and try some different styles, but he just kept resisting.

When I asked the lady working there if she had suggestions for him, she chose a pair that were TOTALLY different and looked wonderful on him! He hemmed and hawed for awhile, but eventually decided that they did look good, and he would get them. (Yippee!)

Fast forward to just last week...

My number 2 son, Jonathan, came to me after Youth Group last Wednesday, and told me that he had had trouble reading the Bible that evening. He said the letters were blurry, and he had gotten a headache trying to read it. I asked him if it had happened before, and he said it had, but since he was just reading to himself, he didn't really care---if you know Jonathan, this should not come as a surprise to you...ahem.

So, on Thursday, I called the eye-doctor and scheduled an appointment for him to have his eyes checked. They concluded that he was mildly farsighted and had astigmatism in one eye, and that while he could see fine, this condition causes eye strain and after doing his schoolwork on the computer along with the reading and writing assignments, by the time he got to youth group, his eyes were worn out. The answer to this issue was to give him glasses to wear whenever he is on the computer, reading, or doing any other "close up" type of activity.

We headed to the Lenscrafters to pick out his frames, and the same lady who had helped Ben find his glasses was working that day. She led him to the kids' frames, and he looked at a couple of different styles. She looked at him, and pulled out a pair that she thought would look good....


I started laughing, because of all the kids, Jon is just about a carbon copy of his dad. If you look at Ben's childhood pictures, you will see Jon...

And here are the clones...aka Thing 1 and Thing 2....now all Jon needs is a mustache! :)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Vidalia Onion "Sweet Texas Onion" Casserole

I do believe that I promised y'all some “Vidalia Onion Casserole” goodness a little while back….and I’m finally going to deliver!

Now this obsession-o-mine all started one Sunday afternoon when someone posted on Twitter that they were "so thankful for the ladies church for making Vidalia Onion Casserole"….and my mouth began to water.

So I immediately googled “Vidalia Onion Casserole” and discovered a veritable cornucopia of recipes for “Vidalia Onion Casserole” I chose this particular recipe because it looked like it would be the easiest to prepare, and was easily adaptable to my stupid diet restrictions…humph!

I have taken a few lessons from Barb, and will be posting my own “healthier version” of this recipe in tutorial form…with pictures! Now, you can use the original recipe at the link above if you like, but if you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or you know, chronic kidney disease...you're welcome to try out my version! :)

When I was touring with “The Trinity Singers” to try to recruit students and funds for my college, I had the privilege of tasting the renowned Vidalia Onion at a Baptist church somewhere in Georgia, and so I knew that it was a larger, sweeter variety of onion. Therefore, when I went to my local H.E.B. and didn’t find any Vidalia Onions, I decided that “Texas Sweet Onions” would work just fine…and they do.

Since I did need to alter the recipe to accommodate my low-sodium, practically-no-dairy, low-fat diet, AND since I didn’t use Vidalia Onions, I’ve decided just to rename this recipe completely, and I call it:

Texas Sweet Onion Casserole


4 large Texas Sweet Onions
1 sleeve of “Ritz ‘Hint of Salt’ Crackers” ( real life saver for the low-sodium dieter!)
¼ cup (½ stick) of “Smart Balance 50/50 Butter” (all the butter flavor without all the fat and cholesterol!
2 tablespoons of Coconut Oil (it has less of the "bad" fats, and more of the "good" ones, plus it has a nice sweet flavor)
Grated Parmesan Cheese
“Butter Flavored Crisco Cooking Spray” (or whatever non-stick spray you prefer)


Slice onions thin (I cut my onions into fourths before slicing so I had smaller pieces….just my preference)

Add butter, coconut oil, and onions in a large saucepan and saute over high heat until onions are translucent, soft, and just starting to brown. (Normally, I just use my 14” skillet, but I had loaned it to my neighbor for the evening. J ) This will take about 20-25 minutes…generally.

Crush the crackers until they resemble coarse bread crumbs. (I used a Ziploc bag and a rolling pin the first time I made this, but I used my food processor this time!)

Spray a 2 quart Casserole Dish with non-stick cooking spray.

When your onions are ready, add ½ of them to the bottom of the casserole dish.

Top with ½ of the cracker crumbs, and lightly sprinkle a layer of Parmesan cheese over the crackers. (Because I can’t have much cheese, I just used the Kraft version in the shaker, but I am willing to bet that if you can eat cheese, that REAL GRATED PARMESAN would be amazing!)

Now add another layer of onions, crackers, and Parmesan cheese and bake at 350 for about 25 minutes or until the cheese is brown and toasty! I put the Cooking Spray and Parmesan in this picture because I forgot them in the ingredient photo, and I didn't want them to be left out. :)

Now, this dish is categorized as a side-dish, but at our house, we tend to use it more as a condiment. J

We put it on top of pork chops, steak, meatloaf, and on this particular evening, on baked chicken. YUM!

As you can probably guess, there is a lot of casserole left over when it is only used as a condiment…and THAT is all part of my plan people. For the next week, I will enjoy the leftovers in various forms. Of course, if there is any chicken left, there’s that, but I also top my Spanish beef and rice dish with it...

...and my FAV is to make a plain baked potato and put a healthy helping of the casserole on top and stir it all together. It totally makes up for not being able to eat a loaded baked potato (no sour cream, no cheese, no bacon…you get the point).

So there you have it, my latest culinary discovery! If you decide to try it, please come back and leave me a comment... especially if you come up with something else I can eat with it! :)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Is Life at Your House "Boy-sterous"?

"Raising boys isn't easy. Life with them is loud. If it's quiet, they're probably up to something. Boys are messy, competitive, fearless, and proud. Living with them pretty much guarantees that you're in for an adventure."

Does that paragraph resonate with you? It does with me! As the mother of three boys and only one girl, as well as the wife of one large boy, it rings extremely true for me.

I grew up in a house with only sisters, so this "boy's life" thing is completely foreign to me. When I was received Jean Blackmer's book Boy-sterous Living I was ecstatic. In this book, Jean relates stories of mothers and boys. A few of them brought tears to my eyes, most of them had me laughing out loud, but all of them made me nod my head and say to myself, "YES! That's EXACTLY what it's like!"

Reading Boy-sterous Living felt like getting together with other moms and sharing stories. It was therapeutic, and eye-opening, and fun all at the same time!

If you have a house full of boys, or even if you just enjoy a good story, you will LOVE this book!

Have your own funny stories to share?

CONTEST: Enter your grossest or funniest moment as a mom of a boy (No boys? That’s okay – we still want to hear your story!) and you could win movie tickets and a snack for you and a friend to escape! Share your story by emailing your entry to amy@litfusegroup.com or posting it on the Moms of Boys facebook page!

Want to know more about Jean Blackmer?

About the author: Jean is currently the Publishing Manager for MOPS International and she's been free-lance writing for 16 years. She has been published in a variety of local and national publications, including: Guideposts, MomSense, Today's Christian Woman, Christian Parenting Today, American Girl, Proverbs 31 Woman, Chicken Soup for the Mother and Son Soul, Chicken Soup Cookbook for the Busy Mom's Soul, Focus on the Family's Teen Phases, Guideposts Miracle Series, and others.

She also co-authored her first book, Where Women Walked: Powerful True Stories of Women's Perseverance and God's Provision. (Tyndale/Focus on the Family, 2004) This book was nominated for a Gold Medallion Award.

Jean graduated from the University of Colorado in Boulder with a Bachelor's (1987) and a Master's (1992) degree in Journalism. She lives in Boulder with her husband Zane; three boys, Josh, Jordan, and Jake.

Author website: http://www.jeanblackmer.com

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