Currently {September Twenty Sixth}

Oh this weather!  I like to go out on my front porch, after the kids have gotten on the bus for the morning, with my coffee and a throw cover and just sit.  Taking it all in.  Breathing in the cool, crisp air and just relaxing.  So here's what I've been leading, following, sipping, thinking, and smiling!

I've been leading Rowan down the journey of Crayola discovery.  She absolutely loves to color.  Every color is "blue", but hey she's only two.  We're working on it.

Following... this seems like a good prompt to talk about the Fall shows that I will be faithfully watching!  Do you have shows that you just can't miss?!
Show schedule

I'm almost ashamed to admit that I bought coffee creamer.  I discovered when I made my own creamer that I didn't have a container large enough. I got some International Delight Southern Butter Pecan.  I have now begun a campaign to find a way to make that stuff on my own.  I've been sipping my coffee with more of the creamer than the coffee!

I've been thinking a lot about Christmas.  A hold over from last week.  It's nearly October and I feel like I haven't started soon enough.  I miss the convenience of Wal-Mart layaway.  Yes, I know they've "brought it back" for Christmas, but it isn't the same.  Too many restrictions.  *sigh*  I'm over thinking and stressing myself out.

I'm smiling because of the accomplishments of my two older children.  My son made the middle school basketball team again this year, I got a call from the band director praising his talents on percussion (with encouragement to continue band next year in high school), and my daughter received All District band music to begin practicing.  I'm so proud of them.

learning, growing, buying, loving, wishing

Currently is a weekly feature hosted by Randalin of Harvesting Kale and Lindsey of OT and ET.

It's Fall Y'all!

I make no secret that Autumn, Fall, whatever you want to call it, is my absolute FAVORITE season of the year.  It's crisp, cool, perfect temperatures.  *sigh*  Perfect.

We did a little of this, a little of that.  Mostly house stuffs, but we did manage to sneak off to the broke down park next to our house.  We live in a very rural area and the park is supposed to be maintained by the community, but it's in a sad state.  The grass is overgrown, the buildings are poorly maintained.  It's a mess.

Luckily most of the play equipment is shaded and the grass doesn't grow too quickly so we enjoyed a little old school metal slide fun!

The big plastic slides are just missing the mark when it comes to the Slide Velocity Factor. Not to mention the sheer sensation of fear when climbing to the top.

Obviously that fear is lost on my two year old.

Currently {september nineteenth}

I completely flaked out and forgot to post a currently post last week.  So I'm going to merge them...

Last week the prompts were needing, reading, wearing, picturing, and expecting.  This weeks prompts are changing, remembering, needing, cleaning, and feeling.

Reading.... *sigh*  I am so far behind in my reading goal for 2013.  I'd have to read 3 books a month to made it to 25 before the end of the year.  I've read 13 so far, but wow, this year has really flown by so quickly.  Last week I finished up the Beautiful Creatures series.  I wasn't ready for it to be over, but it ended well.  Luckily, the authors are creating a new series called Dangerous Creatures, with an e-novella to be released in December.  Currently I'm reading The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater.  It's not going too well.  I'm only a couple of chapters into the book though so I'll reserve complete judgement until I'm done.

I'm wearing way too many yoga/pajama pants and slouchy tshirts.  Most of my clothes don't fit anymore and that by itself should be enough motivation for me to get off my ass and workout.  The "baby" is two and I really have no excuse as to why I still haven't lost that pregnancy weight.  I have shame.

I keep picturing a remodeled bathroom.  I stalk the Lowe's store.  I stalk the Lowe's website.  I have planned it to death.  Please tell me that DIY tile is a good idea.

The season's are FINALLY changing.  I know that the official start of Autumn isn't until Sunday.  I don't care.  I want my Fall weather.  The Harvest Moon from last night was absolutely beautiful and made me yearn for October.

I'm needing to get back on a meal schedule.  At the end of the school year last year, we had meal planning down to a science.  This year it's just been all out of whack.  We are eating things that aren't good for us and I can feel it.

Nervous about Christmas.  That's how I'm feeling.  Since my husband started a new job earlier in the year (and with that a pay cut), I'm worried about gifts.  Likely the only people getting gifts will be our children.  We're really scrimping and saving where we can, but it's really a paycheck to paycheck world around here.  Not to mention that my oldest is getting braces on Monday.  AHHHHH!!!!

leading, following, sipping, thinking, smiling

Currently is a weekly feature hosted by Randalin of Harvesting Kale and Lindsey of OT and ET.

Pumpkin Pound Cake

Original post from September 26th, 2011:

I'm happy to share this recipe.  It was simple and only took an hour to cook.  It's not too pumpkin-y, not too sweet, but a perfect combination of bread and sweetness.  Y'all will love it, I promise!

Pumpkin Pound Cake
Serves 12-16.

What y'all need:
  • 1 cup granulated sugar 
  • 1 cup brown sugar 
  • 1 cup canola oil 
  • 3 eggs 
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda 
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves 
  • 1 package instant vanilla pudding mix 
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin puree 
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting 

 How y'all fix it: 

In a large bowl, combine sugar and oil until blended. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, cloves and pudding mix; add to egg mixture alternately with pumpkin, beating well after each addition. Transfer to a greased bundt pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 60-65 minutes or until toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack. Remove from pan and cool completely. Dust with confectioners’ sugar.

I followed everything except for the confectioners' sugar.  I made some icing to drizzle over the cake instead.  Except I made it too thin and it didn't really turn out the way I wanted.  So we just ate it without any topping at all!  Again the kids really liked it even knowing it had pumpkin in it!

Perfect Weather

This weekend was the most beautiful weather we've had all Summer.  Maybe it was because it was in the 70's.  Maybe it was because it felt Fall was arriving.  Maybe I feel this way because Fall is my favorite time of year.  Regardless, if I could have 365 more days of this weekends weather, it wouldn't come soon enough.

On Saturday I took the kids to the high school for the BCHS Home Show.  Marching band is FOR SERIOUS around here y'all.  Our high school band advances to state competition every single year.  The band director is amazing.  Not only does he teach high school band, but also middle school and 5th grade beginning band at two different elementary schools.

Butler County High School Marching Band - 2013 - The Art of Strategy

Both of my older kids are in the middle school band. Kaia plays the flute, Neil is my drummer. Last year, and again this year, the middle school played the National Anthem at the home band competition. Some in the crowd were confused because our middle school band looks like a high school band. They have a 210 member band this year!! That's more than the high school at only 130.  It may be that I'm a bit partial, but I thought they sounded excellent!  Best National Anthem ever.

Don't they sound awesome?!

Sunday was our 13th wedding anniversary.

9-15-2000 copy
September 15th, 2000

We didn't have a big wedding. We barely had a wedding at all to be honest. We just got up one day and decided we were going to go get married. We began dating in high school so we've been together for about 18 years. We spent our anniversary cleaning our house. Yep, that's how we roll.

This week the weather isn't going to be as cooperative as this weekend, but I have high hopes for next weekend.  Plus... only six more days until the Autumnal Equinox!

Pumpkin Spice White Hot Chocolate

That's right folks!  It's time for pumpkin flavored everything!!  I thought I'd revisit a recipe or two from the archives.  First up, pumpkin hot chocolate!

Original post from September 17th, 2011:

Since it's become very Fall-like around here lately, I decided it was time to start looking for more Fall-like recipes!  Pinterest is awesome for this (as well as basically everything else under the sun).  I found this great recipe for Fall hot cocoa at Good Life Eats.
Fall Hot Cocoa

What you need:
  • 4-5 cups of milk
  • 12 oz. pkg of white chocolate
  • 4 teaspoons cocoa powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup pure pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/8 teaspoon all spice
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

How to make:

In a lrg saucepan, combine 2 cups of milk with white chocolate and cocoa powder.  Stir over medium heat until chocolate is melted and combined.

Whisk in puree, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, allspice, and ginger.  

Add the remaining milk, one cup at a time until you like what you see.  (It was about this time when I realized my pan wasn't quite big enough...)

Top it off with some whipped cream and a sprinkle of nutmeg!

Really very easy and warm and yummy!  I think next time I may use a bit less pumpkin puree though.  It was a bit... um, gritty?  Gritty isn't really the correct word, but it's the closest I can come up with.  Everyone liked it (even the kids!).  A great drink for warming up!

The Fireplace Without Fire

Our living room is fairly large, but it's what I like to call wonky.  We have a dark red brick fireplace that is off-center next to a doorway.  It is a functional fireplace, however, we've never used it.

The flue is nearly impossible to open.  Though you couldn't tell that from the amount of wasps that somehow manage to find their way into the house.  Even though the top is capped off with just a small, covered stove pipe sticking out, when it rains, we get a leaky fireplace.  All of this has led us to wall off the opening with a piece of plywood.  Not ideal, not pretty.

This isn't the biggest problem.

The hearth is about 9 inches tall.  Made from the same dark red brick that makes up the rest of the fireplace. With the most squared off, pointy corners.  For the past year, I've bypassed untold heart attacks because I'm always certain that Ro is going to fall head first into one of the corners and lose an eye or suffer brain damage.

Friday night, it all happened in slow motion.  She was running across the living room floor and she tripped.  I just knew we were about to head to the emergency room.  Somehow she managed to just graze her forehead across the edge.  But that was all it took for us to decide we were done talking about putting a cushion on the hearth.

Time for our monthly trip to Lowe's!  (and Hobby Lobby!)  A 2x4, a sheet of plywood, screws, 2 yards of fabric, and some foam padding later...

I've never covered something with fabric like this.  I could definitely use some practice.  I feel so much better now knowing that there is two inches of padding between her head and that dangerous corner.

I'm still entertaining the idea of painting those bricks white.  I guess that's a project for next month!

Yes, I'll Take Some Coffee in My Milk

I'm not exactly a coffee aficionado.  If it's just a plain up of black coffee... ick.  Not a fan.  I require a cup of milk/creamer and sugar with a splash of coffee.

Store bought creamer can get pretty expensive.  On average, a bottle is around $3.  I can go through at least two of those a week.  Last week, my MIL posted a website to my Facebook page with do-it-yourself creamer recipes.  A quick look at her site shows that WOWZERS this post has been pinned on Pinterest more than 900 times!!

Firstly, let me tell you that you need a LARGE container. I reused an old creamer container, but it wasn't the larger size so I had an excess. Luckily my in-laws live in walking distance so I took my extra to them.

The base ingredients are as follows:

14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1 3/4 cup of milk or cream (any kind of milk - 2%, whole, soy, almond, etc. OR half & half, heavy, etc.)
    --The more fat content the creamer the mix.

I chose to use heavy cream instead of milk, but I'll tell you now that I think it's too thick.  Next time I'll get half & half.  I also couldn't find a few extracts that weren't imitation.  I suppose if I had been shopping somewhere other than Wal-Mart, I would have found "real" extracts.  I chose to make the Eggnog creamer.  Mostly because I forgot the chocolate syrup.

replace milk in base recipe with equal amount of heavy cream
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons rum extract
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

I mixed the sweetened condensed milk and heavy cream in a 4 cup glass measuring cup.  I took a couple of tablespoons of the mix and warmed it in the microwave then added the ground nutmeg to make sure it would mix well.  Then added it back to the measuring cup and stirred until it was combined.

Next add the extracts and stir, stir, stir!  Done.

I don't think it tastes like eggnog.  It tastes like those awesome butterrum flavored Lifesavers!  Mmmm.... butterrum.

There are 23 different flavor recipes on her page.  A few that I'm excited to try next...

-Almond Joy
1-2 teaspoons coconut extract (or sub coconut milk or cream of coconut if you heat it first, strained, in place of the milk & extract)
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoons chocolate syrup

1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract

-Peppermint Patty
2 tablespoons chocolate syrup
1 teaspoon peppermint extract

Now go forth, my fellow coffee addicts and make gallons of flavored creamers for a fraction of the cost!

Here Forever

Earlier in the week, I met with my friend, Cam, to do a little hanging out.  We never fail to hit up Barnes & Noble.  I arrived a little before she did and managed to find a book about the history of the county where I live.

I discovered that the first elected judge of our county is buried in the cemetery across the road from my home.  I hadn't had the opportunity to look for him, but realized that yesterday's Photo a Day prompt from Fat Mum Slim was perfect for a trip to the cemetery.

I shared a version of this on Instagram, but every photo gets cropped to square. Not always the version of the photo you want people to see.  Yes, I laid down in the cemetery.  No, it's not the first time.  Cemeteries are interesting places.  Full of history.  I liked the contrast of old against the backdrop of the new.

I looked over all the headstones, but I was unable to find Judge Austin.  I'm currently looking into the history of the cemetery for that.  However there are several markers that are just stones like Mr. or Mrs. S.A. Carson above.  Most have nothing etched on them.

I plan on returning to purchase the book. I'm interested in knowing more about the history of the area. And finding Mr. Austin.

Currently {September Fifth}

What, what?! It's September!

Just a few more weeks until my favorite month of the year... squeeeee! Yes, I did squee about it. Until then... here's what I am currently growing, buying, earning, judging, and embracing!

I am growing anxious of the Summer season to transition into Fall.  Fall is my absolute favorite time of the year.  Winter is too cold, Spring is too wet, Summer is too hot.  Fall = perfection!  It goes without saying that Halloween is also my favorite holiday.

School is just starting for several areas of the nation, but for us, it's been a month.  Just long enough for the fundraisers and activities to come around with their hand out.  We've been buying chocolate bars for band, as well as 2 each of a band sweatshirt, polo shirt, and pep tshirt.  The school has already sent home notice that yearbook sales will be starting soon and that school pics are next week.  Basketball is about to have their annual shoot-a-thon to raise money so we don't have to pay the full price for the new shoes, socks, warm-ups, and backpacks for the season.  Basically, I'm broke until next year.

My new little coffee maker is earning it's keep!  I only drink one cup of coffee every morning.  I've been purchasing the premade cappuccino mix for a long time, but it was becoming fairly expensive.  I was eyeing a Keurig machine, but what the hell man?  $100+ for a single cup coffee maker?  Plus those K-cup packs are not cheap.  Solution = a $15 coffee maker and a small $5 container of Folgers Hazelnut ground coffee.  No filters needed because this inexpensive coffee maker comes with a permanent filter!

I am having a very difficult time not judging these government officials who insist that we must punish Syria.  NONE OF OUR BUSINESS.  What has happened/is happening to the Syrian people during their civil war is a tragedy.  My heart goes out to those families who have lost loved ones, but it is NOT the United States job to police other nations.  These men who are so gung-ho to start yet another war with a Middle Eastern country can't even find the time to balance our own nation's budget, manage the insane price of gas, find a solution for affordable health care in our own country.  And what about Detroit?  How about we stay out of other's people's business for once and tend to our own problems?!  And while I'm judging... I'm just going to say that fast food employees deserve a fair wage and benefits, but $14-15 an hour is the single most RIDICULOUS thing I've heard in a while.  People go to college and start jobs making less than that. And now Wal-Mart employees are striking for higher wages.  As a former Wal-Mart employee myself,  I say to you... shut the hell up!! This nation has become a nation of lazy ass people who think they deserve something they haven't worked for.  It's embarrassing.

Embracing my lack of domestic energies.  The household duties get out of control with the quickness!  I'm currently on a mission to find an easy to follow and efficient schedule of cleaning.  One that is toddler friendly because you can't leave this stinker alone for a second.  She is a coffee thief. =)


Currently is a weekly feature hosted by Randalin of Harvesting Kale and Lindsey of OT and ET.

Life Lines

Blurred Lines

I'm a victim.

A victim of using my phone to take photos. Photos of what are turning out to be meaningless things.

Meanwhile, life is passing me by.

Every year I vow to print out family snapshots once a month. Every year I vow to take a family photo every season.

Every year... I fail.

What's worse is that I now find that I barely have any photos of my children to print out at the end of the year. Yesterday I was unloading all the photos from my memory cards (a couple of days ago I did the same with my phone), only to find that my memory cards were filled with images of food I had planned to blog about or last December's Christmas photos. It's September and I've barely photographed anything with my actual camera.

The camera I paid hundreds of dollars for. The camera that just sits on a shelf collecting dust now. I have abandoned The Precious.

How did I get here? I caught Smart Phone Syndrome and I wasn't even aware.

And it SUCKS. When it's time to print this years photos, I'll have nothing.  I remember a time when I didn't go anywhere without my camera.  My actual camera.  I have to find my way back...

Before my children are leaving for college and I've not photographed them in years.