Friday, December 30, 2016

Saying Goodbye to Christmas 2016.

New board games.  This one is Splendor, which we all enjoy.

Christmas Eve gluten free sugar cookies. 

Our Christmas tree in our cozy (crowded especially at Christmas) living room. 

 My porch post snowman.

Rudolph on the front door.

We've already eaten the cookies and played the board games and soon we'll be taking down the decorations and starting 2017.  I hope that this year is full of good changes and not bad ones like last year.  2016 was hard on all of us, but we are okay right now.  We had a good Christmas and we've started making/hearing about wedding plans for our oldest son and his fiancee.  

Monday, December 26, 2016

A little late, but ...

I hope that each of you had a Merry Christmas!  We did.  I teared up a little when passing my Mom and Dad's house after leaving my mother-in-law's house, but at that point, I was so tired and I had had a good day, so the tears were minimal.  Also, I had prepared myself for it all week and was ready.  It's hard celebrating your first Christmas without either parent.  :-(  Add to that, my son and his fiancee not getting to be here and it was kind of hard to think about but at some point on Christmas Eve I decided to just enjoy what is and the four of us here lit candles, baked cookies, made chili and settled in for an evening of Christmas movies, church and new board games.  We ended up having a really good time.  We played board games again last night.  We've played 2 of the new ones and have 3 more new ones to go, so that's good.

I also got the Sims 4 for Christmas but I can't play it yet.  It needs, apparently, about 3 days worth of downloads and updates.  :-(  We're working on that now.

We've got another celebration tomorrow with my brother and his girlfriend and our favorite aunt so today we're getting ready for that.  

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas preparations and roof repair.

Here's a couple of better pictures of the roof, showing the damage.  We have a tarp on it now so we can take our time getting estimates and actually getting it repaired.   Christmas things this week included getting the shopping done (okay, I have one more thing to get today!), knitting and mailing a pair of socks (my daughter did this one), and attending the Christmas play and singing in the cantata at church and attending the Christmas celebration at the school my daughter teaches at.  It's Christmas eve and other than one small trip to town to get one thing, we're ready for the holiday.  Grief is making an appearance for me as this is my first Christmas parentless and my son's not coming home, but I guess I'll make it.  Such a difference a year has made in our lives.  

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

So ...

Saturday night, this happened.  We have 3 holes in our roof and 1 in our deck.  Fun times.  

Friday, December 16, 2016

Getting ready for Christmas.

We've got board games group today, which I like, so I'm glad we're doing it.  My daughter's school where she works is involved in getting ready for their Christmas program so she's going to go and help them rehearse this morning and then go to board games and then back to work for her regular shift and then she'll have half an hour until the Christmas program starts, so it's a super long busy day for her.  She's doing so well with this job, thriving in it and it's so nice to see.  :-)   Youngest son is enjoying his year off from doing school and trying to get some creative projects done and also trying to decide what to do about college.  He was accepted into University of the Cumberlands and got his acceptance letter this week, but now does not want to fill out the scholarship applications because they ask for personal narratives.  :-(  I'm not sure how we're going to get around that.  He may end up at community college because of it and really, that's fine.  It wasn't me that wanted him to go away to school in the first place, it was him.  I've done a little work for a transcription company this week.  The pay is abysmal but the work is not bad, I guess.  I am still looking for a job.  I'm not looking very forward to Christmas this year, since my mom has gone to heaven and my oldest son is not coming home, so I'm feeling kind of like this guy.
 So, anyway.  Here are some pictures from this week.
Crocheted Pokemon for one of the kid's friends.

This picture somehow got a weird, blurry picture of Cosmo's face also in it.  It's kind of freaky.  Really, he's cute.

Little ceramic tree that was my moms.

Porch post snowman that I got at the Christmas bazaar.

Rudolph door decor I got at last years' bazaar. 

Cat on the roof.  This is Zelda.  

Stockings are hung.

Freckles who is according to my kids, the canine version of me  - she's middle aged, chubby, sometimes crabby, not the most patient of people and has an underbite which is what I had braces for back in the day.  :-)

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Busy Week.

I'm amazed at how busy I've been keeping with no job, but of course, it's holiday season and I've been working on some things with my health.  Hopefully when I do get a job I'll be in good shape.  I've been saw a dietitian to help with weight loss and yesterday I saw a physical therapist to help with my knees.  I sprained my left knee really, really badly a long time ago and now that's come back to haunt me.  I am hopeful that I can get the muscles around it strengthened and so I will be able to avoid surgery.  I had surgery twice last fall and I really never want to do that again, if possible.  :-)

We're keeping busy with Christmas activities, doing things at church and with both of the 2 local homeschool groups we have been associated with over the years.  We had a Christmas party with the bigger of the 2 groups on Tuesday and there were 66 people there!  That's crazy that there are that many homeschoolers here but I think it's great.  As you know, I am largely in favor of homeschooling for most families.  :-)  The big kids group I was helping supervise played human foosball and board games while the little kids did Christmas crafts and watched Charlie Brown Christmas.  It was fun.   We'll be getting together with the other homeschool group next week.

We've been practicing for the Christmas cantata at church.  We love choral singing and it is very good for your health and its especially fun to sing Christmas music.  My daughter also got asked to help with the Christmas play so she's doing that.

We're still working 2 days a month at the little store where we sell our crafts.  We had to go up there yesterday and put our crafts back in --- we had taken some of them out for the Christmas bazaar.  Sales aren't fabulous this month, but we might make our table rent.  :-/   Nonetheless, my daughter enjoys doing it, so we are staying, I guess.  I whine about it every time we have to go and work.  :-P  We'll have to figure out how to work during Christmas break at the school she works at.

We have no idea when/if my oldest son and his fiancee (did you note how I slipped that in; they got ENGAGED!)  will be able to come up and visit for Christmas so we don't know when our Christmas celebration will be.   I'd be okay with going down and meeting them halfway but I am not sure how our money is holding out with all the Christmas shopping, so probably not.  

Speaking of Christmas shopping ... if you've been reading this blog for long, you know I whine and panic about it every year, but this year I haven't ;  I've just gotten it done.   I'm kind of excited about it.  

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Now, switching gears again.

For a long time we were doing home improvements, using the visitors as an excuse to get a bunch of things done around the house and now that's all done.  I still have some cleaning I need to do in my bedroom, the master bathroom and the laundry room and I plan to do that, but now there's not as much of a sense of a deadline to get it done.  So, we are doing some other things; starting to think about maybe getting ready for Christmas, filling out college and scholarship applications and sending ACT test scores, singing in the choir for the Christmas cantata, a Christmas bazaar this weekend, Christmas shopping with my old homeschool group, a Christmas party with my new homeschool group, a board game day and the thing I seem to do most, putting the dogs in and out and in and out and in and out.  I keep busy.

Speaking of our dogs, my daughter painted this picture of Cosmo at her art class.

I may also have gotten a job last night, part time.  A company called me to transcribe documents for them and they are going to give me a chance.  Hopefully that will go well.  I am proud that my husband can support us without me working, but I need something to do and we need money for the extras and the unexpected (vacations and vet bills, basically).  So we'll see how that goes.

As I fill out the college applications, I am sitting here worrying how my son's dysgraphia will affect him at college.  I hope that he will be able to get accommodations.  I probably need to take him to get him tested to verify his dysgraphia so he'll have something official.  This extra year between high school and college makes this whole process easier, giving me time to get all of this done.  I'm thankful he stayed home this year for that reason and also because if his going away to college had happened 2 months after my mom passed away, I just don't think I could have taken it.  ;-/

Saturday, November 26, 2016


Thanksgiving sandwich.   Yes, it does have a moist maker.  :-)
We had a great Thanksgiving. Our oldest son,, his girlfriend and her parents came Wednesday night and left this morning.  while they were here, we had 2 Thanksgiving meals and lots of leftovers, played a bunch of games and got to know each other a bit.   It was great.   We had so much fun and shared so many good times, it was hard to pack it all into just a couple of days.   Everyone was tired, but it was like vacation, you get exhausted but you feel like it is worth it.  

My family camped out in the living room last night due to my daughter's bedroom being used by my son's girlfriend, my youngest son having to share with my oldest son and not being able to sleep in the new again bunk bed with someone else moving around and making the bed squeak and my husband needed to sleep in the recliner because he had fallen and bruised his ribs.  

Dinner the first night was at a completely gluten free restaurant, Wheatless in Bowling Green, Ky.  

Sweet potato pie.   Yum.  

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Painted rug.

I got a 40 something dollar rug from Walmart in a pecan color and used some Waverly stencils  (not exactly this one, I can't find it on Amazon) in different colors with acrylic.  I'm not sure if it needs a few more circles or not, but I don't have time to do it before our visitors arrive.  I'm a little hopeful that as we set the couch edge on the rug and time passes, it will lay down better.  :-/    I think it looks better stenciled than plain, but I'm not sure I like the rug in general.  Still, you can't beat 40 something dollars for an 8 x 10 area rug.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Bathroom reveal.

Our bathroom is painted and has a new shower curtain.  Originally when we moved in our whole house was builder's flat white paint and I was pregnant with the youngest when we moved and was very soon afterwards put on bed rest and then I had 3 kids aged 5 and under and then when the baby was 10 months old my husband lost his job and we couldn't afford very many home improvements.  At some point, I used some leftover lavender paint from my daughter's room and gave the bathroom a coat of paint.  Then later, I stenciled some words on it;  hope, love, etc.   Then a couple of years ago when my son brought home 2 friends for spring break, one of them put up signs underneath my words that made it say things like love hurts and hope floats.  I thought it was funny and left them up.  But finally, I had enough.  We went to Lowe's and got some paint.  It's a little bit more green than we thought it was going to be, but I like it.  The shower curtain just made it, in my opinion.  So here it is, our less than 40 dollar bathroom makeover.

It needs the bath mat smoothed out a little and the hamper has a lot of laundry in it, but I don't feel great today, so this picture will have to do.  :-)

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

A Happy Gluten Free Thanksgiving.

I first went gluten free 7 years ago this November, a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving.  By the time Thanksgiving rolled around, I was already feeling so much better and there was no way I wanted to eat gluten, even to celebrate one of my favorite holidays.  I have been experimenting with recipes since then and these are some of the best I've found.

The main dish, the turkey.  Isn't that already gluten free you ask?   Not necessarily, which is weird.  Some of the prebasted turkeys will have wheat products in them.  Read the label.  Also, if you are not the one cooking the turkey, ask questions about how it is prepared, whether it is basted, has gravy  etc.  I found out last year that my mom-in-law puts "a little bit of flour" in the cooking bag to keep the bag from sticking to the turkey.  (She's recently stopped doing that, thank goodness.)  

I have really been experimenting with stuffing this year.  I love stuffing, but to me, it means a simple cornbread sage stuffing.   Here's the recipe I use.
1 package Pamela's cornbread mix, baked and crumbled, NOT putting sugar in it as directed.
1 large stalk celery, chopped.
1 small or 1/2 of a large onion.
3 tablespoons poultry seasoning or sage.
A sprinkle of onion salt.
1 cup chicken broth or broth from your turkey.

Crumble cornbread and mix all ingredients together, press in a 13 x 9 pan and bake at 400 degrees for about 20-25 minutes.  It doesn't need to cook, exactly, just kind of toast and blend the flavors.
You can take your grandma's recipe and adapt it to use a gluten free bread or cornbread.

Potatoes and other vegetables..
I usually just cook the potatoes and mash them with butter, salt and milk (Lactose free milk and margarine if my oldest son is home).
But if I'm feeling fancy, I might make scalloped potatoes.
Yes, potatoes are naturally gluten free, but the boxed scalloped potatoes contain gluten and most of the cream of something soups contain gluten, so you really have to think before preparing your gluten free food.  

Fortunately, this is easy and wonderful.
8 potatoes sliced thin - you don't have to peel them.
1 can Progresso creamy mushroom soup - which is gluten free.
1  1/2 onion
a few sprinkles (very light) of garlic salt.  Check the label on this, it may contain wheat.
10 slices american cheese or 1/2 cup cheddar cheese. 

Layer in 13 x 9 pan and bake 1 hour at 400 degrees.

Cover with foil. 

Bake at 375°F for approximately 1 hour or until potatoes reach desired texture.
For a crispy top layer, uncover during the last 10-15 minutes of cooking time.  

Other veggies can be prepared as long as they don't contain any toppings made with wheat products.  Casseroles are notorious for their cracker toppings!  What about some nice corn on the cob? 

3/4C pineapple juice
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 tsp plus 1/3C granulated sugar, divided
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp salt
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, partially melted
1C unseasoned mashed potatoes
4 1/4C all purpose flour
In a measuring cup, combine warm water (roughly 115°F), yeast and 1/2 tsp granulated sugar. Allow yeast to proof.
Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer, add remaining ingredients. With mixer on low, add yeast mixture. Slowly increasing speed to medium, continuing to mix until ingredients are well combined.
Transfer dough to a lightly greased bowl. Cover and allow to rise in a warm location for 90 minutes or doubled in size.
Prepare a 9x13-inch pan with parchment paper or lightly greased.
Divide dough into 16 equal portions. Shape into a ball, placing seam side down in prepared pan. Cover and allow rolls to rise for an additional 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake rolls for 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned. Serve immediately or at room temperature. Store remaining rolls in an airtight container for up to several days.
Mashed potatoes may be seasoned with butter and cream or milk, omit any other flavorings or seasonings for the purpose of making these rolls.


Fudge Pie.

1 cup white sugar
1/3 cup gluten free Bisquick.
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
Beat together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, butter or margarine, eggs and vanilla in a medium-size bowl.   Put in pie pan you've sprayed with non-stick spray.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until set. Allow to cool to room temperature. 

Crustless sweet potato pie.
Sweet potato - cooked without salt 4 cup, cubes
Sugar - Granulated (sucrose), 2 cup
Milk - Nonfat (fat free or skim), 2 cup
Eggs  6 large
Butter - Unsalted, 5 tbsp
Vanilla extract  2 tsp
Cinnamon, 2 tsp
Pumpkin pie spice, 2 tsp
Salt 2 tsp
Pamelas Products - Gluten Free Baking Pancake Mix, 6 tablespoons (Or baking mix of your choice)

Mix with mixer until it is smooth-ish. :-) Pour into 2 pie pans and bake at 350 for 1 hour, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. This pie only has 223 calories per serving, whereas a quick google search tells me that regular sweet potato pie with crust is 300-400 calories a serving. You won't miss the crust, trust me. :-)
Caramel apple dip
1 8-ounce package cream cheese-softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
Mix the two together until smooth.
Pour into a pie plate or small baking dish.
Pour a 16-ounce container of caramel dip-found in the produce section-over the cream cheese mixture and spread all over the top.
Top with Heath chips found in the baking aisle.
Refrigerate until serving.

Blackberry Cobbler
2 cups sugar
1/3 cup butter
2 cups flour (I use Pamela's gluten-free)
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 cup milk
2 cups blackberries
2 cups boiling water

Cream 1 cup of sugar with the butter; add flour, baking powder, salt, and milk; mix well. Pour into a 12x8x2 baking pan (or an 8-9 inch square pan if you've halved the recipe). Pour blackberries over batter. Sprinkle remaining sugar over berries. Pour boiling water over top. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes or until golden brown.  Serve with vanilla ice cream.  

Jam Cake

3 large eggs
3/4 cup softened butter
1 cup white sugar
1 cup strawberry jam
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups Cup4Cup gf flour
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan with parchment paper.
In a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light. Add eggs, one at a time, scraping sides of bowl to incorporate all.
Add jam and mix again.
In a small bowl, combine the gf flour, baking soda, salt and spices. Stir well.
Add dry ingredients to egg mixture alternating with the buttermilk.
Beat until batter is smooth.
Pour batter into baking pan, and bake for 35 minutes.
Remove from the oven and cool.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Hanging mirrors.

I've wanted these mirrors up for a couple of years.  I thought it would look cool in our living room and draw the eye up .... but now I don't know if I like them or not.  Trying to live with them for a while and see.

 The mess beneath them was going to be moved to the bedroom but is probably not now.  hopefully it will be tamed at least .   :-p

Friday, November 11, 2016

Dressing up a present.

I needed to wrap a slightly irregularly shaped baby gift and I was at the end of the last roll of non-Christmas wrapping paper .   when I finished wrapping it, it did not look good .   I decided to make a little painting to decorate it a little .   I has to look on pinterest for ideas since everything I draw is girly, but I am pleased with the results .


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