Friday, December 31, 2010

Are YOU Ready?

It's hard to believe that 2010 is already drawing to  a close.  On this day last year, after having several problems during her pregnancy, the doctors decided to put Amanda into the hospital and induce labor.   Little Ellen was born shortly before midnight and she is one of many blessings we are thankful for this past year.   God has been good! 

Now, it's time for me to look ahead to 2011.  I had planned to use our time off for the Christmas season to get a reading list prepared for Ferrell and actually look through what had been done and what needs to be completed this next semester.  Guess What?  I didn't get any of that done.  Guess What?  I still haven't!  Guess What?  School starts Monday!   I know that I won't get much done today, because we'll be leaving with the band at 4:00 this afternoon headed to New Albany for a singing there.  I may be able to work on it a little bit tomorrow, but since we'll be leaving with the band on Sunday morning headed to a church in Iuka for their morning service I will be spending a big part of tomorrow preparing food to carry with us to meet the needs of family members with food sensitivities. 

While I am looking forward to the New Year, I am really not ready.  How on earth I could let it slip up on me is beyond comprehension, but it did.  Oh well, I guess we will start out with the basics next week and hopefully I will have time Monday to do some review and preparation.  We'll see.

As for the rest of my plans for the New Year?  Well, I really haven't made any.  I don't do New Year's Resolutions and while I do have some ideas for things that I would like to accomplish this next year, I haven't taken time to really sit down and think them through.  I think that I will take some time this upcoming week, (when everyone else is back to their normal routine) and work on my goals for the upcoming year.   It will be easier when everyone's work schedule is back on track and when we have a routine.  I am able to focus much more clearly when we have a daily routine in place.  Even when it gets disrupted (which it does regularly), it is still much easier when I know what SHOULD be going on.  Are YOU ready for the New Year? 

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Not for the Squeamish

I've mentioned before that people quite often think of me as being a little strange.   Well, for the most part they are probably right, but my strangeness is one of those things that I can live with just fine.  My most recent "strange thing" has been rendering deer tallow.   My son-in-law, Alan,  killed a deer the other day.  He took it to his Dad's to skin and cut it up.  While they were in the process of cutting up the deer Alan made the comment to his Dad (jokingly) that he should bring all of the fat to me so I could use it in making soap.  He told me that the more he thought about it the more he realized that if he brought it home to me I would probably do just that.    So guess what?   Alan arrives home that evening with a bucket of deer fat, which he presents to me with a proud smile.  Well, I don't know about anyone else, but if my dear son-in-law brings me a gift of deer fat, then of course I'm going to put it to good use :)   I've never rendered fat before, but decided that it couldn't be that complicated and of course it wasn't.  Here's a picture of some of  my recently rendered deer tallow all ready for soap making!

I guess I should have put a warning that this post is not for the squeamish.  I understand that not everyone get's excited over a plate of  fat, but for me I'm thinking that's one soapmaking item I don't have to buy.  I don't use animal fat in all of my soap products, but I do use it in some of them.  It's relatively inexpensive and readily available which is a big plus for me.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Day

It was such a blessing to be able to have my whole family together, including my parents, this year.   We ate, opened presents, ate, visited, ate, enjoyed showing off our presents, ate, I think you get the picture :)    In spite of colds, croup, and an emergency room visit, our day was pretty great.  Maybe it was due to the chaos, but we didn't take very many pictures this year.  I thought I would post a few of Rachel with her Princess tent.
This is me sitting in the Princess tent with Rachel.  She wasn't happy until everyone had a turn sitting in there with her.

Uncle Caleb had a turn in the Princess tent with the girls!

Can't forget Uncle Heath!   The look on Rachel's face makes it worth all of the contortions it took to get in there.

This is a hat and scarf set I made for Rachel.  I tried to get a picture of her wearing it, but couldn't keep her still long enough for a good shot :)

Poor little Ellen was feeling really bad so we only got the one picture of  her.   She did enjoy playing with the wrapping paper later though.  

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Desperate Times


Have you ever heard the expression that "Desperate Times call for Desperate Measures?"  Well, this is one of those times for me.  I woke up yesterday morning with an extremely sore throat and by early afternoon I was running a fever and had a really bad headache.  This is not the time of year that I want to be sick (really I don't want to be sick anytime of year, but especially not this time of year) and combine that with the fact that my youngest grandaughter has an appointment with a pediatric cardiologist in Tupelo on Monday, well, let's just say I don't want to be sick.  Since Amanda has asked me to go with her to Tupelo I decided that I need to attack whatever this crud is, (and fast), because I know that I don't need to go into this clinic of child heart patients while running a fever, coughing, and sneezing.  If it had not been the weekend I probably would have gone to the doctor, but since it WAS the weekend I searched through all of my herbal remedy books and searched the internet and here's what I've been doing. 

Ginger root tea (ginger is a warming herb and helps stimulate the immune system as well as increasing blood flow.  It's also helps settle the stomach.  I usually add a little bit of peppermint (fresh or dried to my ginger root tea. )

Cinnamon tea (soothing to the throat, decongestant, and also a warming herb)

Cough Syrup (made with licorice, mullein, and thyme)

Raw onion and garlic (I made a salsa using fresh tomatoes, raw onion and raw garlic with lime juice, salt and pepper to eat with tortilla chips.  I ate the WHOLE thing by myself.  Needless to say my family is staying far, far away from me:)  Onion and garlic both have anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties so I figured they would be good, but I cannot stomach the garlic tea.  It's much easier to eat this way.  Also, I boiled a potato with onion, mashed it up and added raw garlic to that.)

Garlic Foot Bath (Several cloves of garlic chopped into a small pan of water.  Bring to a boil and let steep for about 15 to 20 minutes.  Pour into a shallow pan and soak your feet for about 30 minutes.  I don't know if  the garlic had anything to do with it or if it was just the hot water, but I began to feel better in a short period of time.)  (The foot bath is supposed to help draw out lung toxins.  It's also good for athletes foot.  Just thought I would throw that in there :)

I don't know if what I have is just a brief sinus thing that would be gone within a day without doing all of this or not, but since the flu and strep have been making rounds through our church I decided to take action.  Today, my sore throat is almost completely gone and I have no fever.  I'm still drinking the teas and also eating some raw onion and garlic.  My head congestion is gone and my nose isn't running.  The only real thing I have going on today is that after eating all of the raw onion and garlic, as you can imagine, my stomach isn't feeling all that great.  Nothing major and ginger root seems to be helping that.   Anyway, it looks like, unless I get worse over the course of today, that I will be able to go with Amanda  to Tupelo tomorrow.   Maybe it's all in my head, and maybe these things didn't help as much as I think they did, but I feel better and that's all that counts.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Simple Cough Remedy

I thought I would share a couple of the simple "home remedies" that we have been using to help fight against colds the last few months.

Cough Syrup

1 quart water
1 tbsp. licorice
1 tbsp. mullein
1 tbsp. thyme
1/4 to 1/2 cup rice syrup, fruit syrup or honey.  (Honey is not recommended for children under 2 years)

Bring all ingredients except syrup to a boil, remove from heat and let steep for 30 minutes.  Strain.  Return to heat and simmer.  While warm stir in syrup or honey.  Let cool.  Give 1 tbsp. as needed.  Store in fridge.

If you have it you can add slippery elm or rosehips too.

We put a little of this in a cup of juice for the girls and it seems to help with their runny noses and coughs.  They just sip on it all day.

Cinnamon Tea

4 sticks cinnamon
4 cups water

Bring to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer for 10-15 minutes.  (The longer it simmers the stronger it gets.)   We use this for a sore throat and mild congestion.  (It also makes the house smell wonderful)

Always make sure when using home remedies that you aren't allergic to them or taking any medicines that will not mix well with the herbs.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Plans & Preparations......Finally!

For some reason this year, I have, for the most part, NOT had the Christmas Spirit.  I don't mean that I'm not grateful for the birth of our Savior, or that I don't know the real "Reason for the Season, but that I just flat out have not had the energy to focus on all that goes along with it.   In the past we have always decorated within a day or so after Thanksgiving, but this year I seriously considered not decorating at all.  I might not would have if it had not been for little Rachel's excitement whenever she would see someone elses decorations.  I just couldn't let her come to "RoRo's" house and not have a tree.  So we finally decorated this past week. 

Usually by now I have already done a lot of baking and menu planning for Christmas Day, but so far I have done NO Christmas baking and have only today figured out (sort of) what we'll be having Christmas morning.  I still have all of my gift wrapping to do, but have thankfully finished all of my shopping (I hope).    I am praying  that somehow I will get a mysterious burst of energy today and will be able to do the gift wrapping and that while I am wrapping I will begin to feel a sense of excitement that will carry over until Christmas Day.  That could happen, right?  Well, anyway, here's a look at our simple Christmas Day Menu.


Ham & Bacon Quiche
Mini Ham & Biscuits
Cinnamon Rolls
Cranberry Bread
Sausage Balls
Applesauce Muffins
Spiced Cider


Potato Soup
Tortilla Chips
Ham or Turkey Sandwiches


Chex Mix, Pudding Cookies, Haystacks, Brownies, and Fruit

As I mentioned in a previous post, we just graze for most of our meals on Christmas Day.  I put the food out and everyone helps themselves whenever they get the notion.  It makes for a much simpler and relaxed day for Mom. 

Saturday, December 11, 2010

My Christmas shopping is now complete! Well.....almost!

I am happy to say that my Christmas shopping is now complete!  Well, not completely complete, but so close.  I have been slipping the last two years.  Up until then I would always have all of my Christmas shopping done by August with the exception of a few stocking stuffers and  a few homemade gifts.  The last two years though, I just cannot seem to get it together.  Thankfully, I finished up the last of my "necessary" Christmas shopping online yesterday.  I will probably still pick up a few little things here and there and since I also have a precious grandaughter with a birthday coming up at the end of this month, I'm looking for a few bargains for her special day.

We usually have our family Christmas on Christmas Day before lunch.  Everyone (Amanda and her family, as well as my parents) come over and I have a variety of breakfast foods, along with a variety of finger foods and several crockpots of soup.  That way everyone can eat whenever they want throughout the day and we aren't spending a lot of time in the kitchen.   Amanda and Alan usually leave in the early afternoon to spend time with his family.  The rest of us just hang out together (occasionally we will have visitors) and simply "graze" for our meals.   All in all it makes for a very relaxing Christmas! 

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Frugal Tip

After discovering that my middle son needed to be on a gluten free diet it became necessary for me to "re-learn" how to cook using ingredients that had never been  staple items in my kitchen before.   One of those ingredients is cornstarch.  Thankfully, he is not allergic to corn so I use cornstarch to replace flour regularly if I want to make gravy, fry chicken, make cream of soups, etc.)  Well, those neat little plastic containers that the "Argo" cornstarch come in are wonderful for kitchen use.  Since we use so much cornstarch I have an abundance of those little containers and I have had a hard time making myself throw them away.  Soooo, I decided I needed to find some good uses for them.  They are great for a number of things, but I use use them mostly for storing my dried herbs and homemade seasoning mixes.  I also use them for our herbal salves.  Here's a picture of them on one shelf of my kitchen.  I have many, many more of these nifty little boxes on other shelves in my kitchen and I use them to store a variety of herbs and spices, such as:  dandelion, comfrey, plantain, peppermint, catnip, chamomile, lavender, blessed thistle, mullein, licorice, cinnamon, fennel, fenugreek, thyme, sage, oregano, rosemary, nettle, basil, chili seasoning, and taco seasoning, to name a few.

The openings are large enough so that I can clean the container and the label peels off very easily.  The outside surface is large enough that I can label each container with the item stored in it and usage information if needed.  They come in two sizes.  The smaller ones that I have stacked there and if you look to the right you can see part of a larger container.  I know that everyone would not like to have bright blue and yellow boxes stacked in their kitchen pantry, but for me it works.  Have a great Wednesday!

Monday, December 6, 2010


We finally got our Christmas decorations put up this evening, thanks to a lot of help from my wonderful sons.  Rachel came over to help hang the candy canes.  She only broke two, which she then cheerfully shared with her doting uncles :)  I'm not too sure that she didn't have a little encouragement to break them, since the boys had been begging me to let them eat some of the candy canes all evening :) 

Rachel was very serious about her candy cane hanging duties!   If you look closely you will see that there are quite a few candy canes on the bottom portion of our tree. 


After the frenzy last week to get everything ready for the Christmas Market Festival in Eupora, this week is starting off calm.  I finally feel rested this morning and ready to face another week :)  I guess my focus now is to get this house cleaned up and all of my craft and soap supplies packed up and put away.  Hopefully, we will have a full and productive week of school, since, with the exception of independent reading on Ferrell's part, this will probably be our last week before January.  It just gets tooo hectic this time of year with the family band (working on Christmas material for the holidays), work schedules (holiday retail sales), church activities and planning our family Christmas.    Well, it's time to get busy.  Hope everyone has a great Monday!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Christmas Market Festival

Amanda and I were invited to share a booth at a local Christmas Market Festival today and since it was our first time to have a table at an event like this we were excited.  It took quite a while to get everything packaged and labeled, but at day's end we were quite pleased with the result.  Amanda and I had a good day and are planning to attend more craft fairs in the future. 

Our table at the Christmas Market Festival in Eupora, MS.