Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving, also known as Thanksgiving Day, is a harvest festival. Traditionally, it is a time to give thanks for the harvest and express gratitude in general. Thanksgiving dinner is usually celebrated by a gathering of family members. Whatever your plans may be, I hope your holiday is safe and enjoyable. Remember also to count your blessings. Mine are health, family, and home. Although my list is brief, these precious blessings are my life. If all goes as planned, our family will have grown by two new babies before the holiday weekend is over.

For now, my busy day begins. Doughboy is still snuggled in bed while I'm preparing for today's gluttony. My daughter Jamie and her family will join us later for dinner. It is tradition that Doughboy and I host Thanksgiving dinner and Christmas Eve. Many thanks to Starwood Gal...I am trying three of her fabulous recipes for today's dinner. If you haven't visited her blog, you're in for a taste treat. Her blog is filled with treasured family recipes that have simple ingredients and are easy to follow.

Today's menu is...

Roasted Turkey
Sausage, Apple and Walnut Stuffing
Cheesy Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes with Roasted Shallots and Garlic
Corn Pudding
Sweet Potato Casserole
Classic Green Bean Casserole
Flaky rolls and butter

Dessert is lovingly prepared by Jamie - a chocolate cheesecake and carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. I'll be sure to take photos and post tomorrow.

Enjoy the holiday...and if your plans take you away from home, have a safe journey.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Get Out The Vote

It's time to exercise your constitutional right to vote!

No, I haven't completely lost my mind... and yes, I know the BIG election is behind us. But please go to Kacey's blog site at Wine On The Keyboard to cast your vote for this month's photography contest. I'll even make it easy for you by clicking on the link here. Even if my photo isn't your first choice, that's okay because you can choose up to three (that's 3) photos to win.

In case you don't remember, my photo features a tiny pair of pink baby shoes that I bought for our soon-to-be-born grand-daughter Ava. Click here to see the photo again. But please, please vote before it's too late. Your great-grandmothers and grandmothers who marched for the women's suffrage movement would be proud of you!

Okay, I just made that up. They probably wouldn't care if you vote for my photo, but I would greatly appreciate your support... thank you!

Baby It's Cold Outside...

...but it's cozy indoors. I adore lazy weekends. Doughboy and I dined (I use the term loosely) at Waffle House Sunday morning. It's funny...until I moved to the south, I never even heard of Waffle House. You either like it or hate it. It happens to be our favorite breakfast hangout because it's the one place I am assured of looking better than the waitresses...even on my worst day. I mean no disrespect toward the wait staff at Waffle House. They are the salt of the earth and work their butts off. I'm just talking about our local Waffle House establishment. This particular Sunday I didn't feel like the whole shower, fix hair, and put on makeup routine. I washed my face, brushed my teeth, combed my hair and donned my favorite Margaritaville baseball cap to cover the mess. Life is good.

It was a glorious day. The brilliant blue sky made a lovely backdrop to the brightly colored leaves stubbornly clinging to branches. It grew warm enough to leave open the back door for as long as the sun was on that side of the house. Kady snoozed in the warmth of the wood deck while her siblings preferred the cushy comfort of Thomasville furniture. Snobs.

I cleaned in preparation for Thanksgiving and lit candles around the house for the ambiance as well as the fragrance. I love the scent of candles almost as much I enjoy a clean house. The latter doesn't happen often in my world, unfortunately. I stripped all the bedding in the kid's room including the baby crib. I want everything to be clean and ready for Ava's arrival. We're on baby watch right now. Because we'll probably have the boys next weekend while mommy is busy delivering their baby sister, Doughboy and I took full advantage of our empty nest lifestyle. We sat by the outdoor fireplace in the mid afternoon until it became chilly. We then went to the movie theater to see Quantum of Solace (the recent 007 flick). Don't waste your money or time. However, in fairness, I was never a fond of James Bond movies unless it starred the debonair Sean Connery. Other than The Changling, that we saw last weekend, there wasn't much else from which to choose. We should have stayed home and had another drink in front of the fire.

How was your weekend? Did you do anything exciting?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

I love yanking Kady's chain. Not literally, of course. But what else is there to do on a lazy afternoon? Here's Kady Elise (a/k/a Kady Bug) as she watches Doughboy install our new TV. At first she feigns interest.

Her interest quickly dissipates. "Um-hm...I'm still awake."

"Yup...I'm paying attention. Just call if you need my help."

"I'm not sleeping... just resting my eyes...for a sec."

Kady? Are you asleep? Kaaaady!

If you weren't sleeping, then why do you have bed head?

Yup... I love yanking her chain.

I hope your weekend is restful.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Twilight The Movie

I awoke in the early predawn hour of 6:00 with all the excitement of a 5 year old going to Disney for the first time. Today is the day I see the movie release of my favorite book Twlight!

Inching my plump rump to the edge of the bed, I cautiously tested the temperature of the wood floors with my toes. The chilly floor boards made my toes curl like those of the wicked witch of the west after the house fell on her. "Munchkins, fetch my ruby slippers!"

I searched in the darkness for my sheepskin lined slippers - the ones Doughboy gave to me last Christmas that are two sizes too big. Oh well...big or not, their cozy softness is quite welcome on cold mornings like today. As Doughboy slumbered, I jumped into the steaming hot shower and made myself presentable. We had picked up my very-very-pregnant daughter by 8:45 to arrive at the movie theater to claim first seating rights. I had the forethought to pre-purchase our tickets so waiting in line was unnecessary. Doughboy was the only male in the sea of fellow Twilighters - what a trooper he is! I think he tagged along for the free popcorn.

So, was the movie disappointing? Heck NO! But it really helped to read the book first. The movie stayed quite true to the book and it was exhilarating to see the characters spring to life. If you are one of the millions who read the book, the movie doesn't quite capture everything that Bella was thinking. After all, the book is written in the first person from Bella's perspective. The special effects weren't distracting or over-the-top and the characters were believable. The chemistry between Edward and Bella was amazing while keeping it real from the author's perspective. It is definitely a movie I will buy when the DVD is eventually released. Hopefully there will be a sequel.

Okay, fellow Twilighters... did you see the movie? What did you think? Thumbs up or thumbs down?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Tag - You're It!

I was tagged by Starwood Gal for a bit of fun. It is an interesting way to share a little information about me and learn something about my blogging friends who are willing to play along. Here we go...

8 TV Shows I Love to Watch:
1. Dancing with the Stars
2. Pushing Daisies (this show has been cancelled – sniff)
3. Ugly Betty
4. Samantha Who
5. Private Practice
6. Grey’s Anatomy
7. Desperate Housewives
8. Travel Channel

8 Places I Love to Eat:
1. Chili’s (especially the Presidente Margaritas)
2. Downtown Grill
3. Applebee’s
4. Gino’s East (Chicago thin crust pizza)
5. Portillo’s (another Chicago eatery)
6. Melting Pot
7. Sundried Tomato
8. Pascal’s

8 Things that happened yesterday:
1. Awoke at 5:30am to get ready for work
2. Spent waaaay too much money during my lunch break on Doughboy’s Christmas gift
3. Went to daughter Jamie’s house after work for free dinner (she's a great cook!)
4. Played with grandsons Ayden and Jameson
5. Prepared dinner for our three canine children
6. Washed and dried a load of laundry
7. Blogged
8. Telephoned Doughboy to say goodnight

8 Things I Love about Fall:
1. Colorful leaves
2. Cooler temps
3. Jeans and sweaters
4. Art & craft festivals
5. Halloween
6. Thanksgiving dinner
7. Baking
8. Burning leaves

8 Things on My Wish List:
1. Sell our previous home for asking price
2. Healthy economy
3. Nikkor 85mm portrait lens
4. Lose 50 pounds
5. Better health
6. Retirement (me)
7. Retirement (Doughboy)
8. Win Mega Millions Lottery largest jackpot in history

That was fun! Consider yourself tagged and send me a link to your Crazy Eights reply. Have a safe and enjoyable weekend and try to keep warm :)

Kid's Room Part Deux

I started this blog more than a year ago when we bought our new home. There was daily action on construction of the pool and poolhouse, and decorating inside. Because Doughboy's job takes him away from home Monday thrugh Friday, he was missing all the activity and wanted a way to keep informed. I never expected there would be other readers. I apologize for the boring topic of this post, but Doughboy has asked to see Mike's progress on our grandchildren's bedroom.

Mike Sheperd has finished his magic on transforming the walls of our grandchildren's bedroom into a marvelous southwestern scene. Mike is an amazingly talented artist whom we have used in both our present and previous home. One of our favorite areas that Mike has touched is the pool house where our family gathers on most summer days. Click here and on the Pool Label here for other examples of his talent.

Anyway, I couldn't be more pleased with the finished transformation of the walls in the kids room. I tried to take photos, but the room is dimly lit and I really needed to change to my wide angle lens. To enter the kids room, there are three steps up to a small alcove. Mike painted the walls of the alcove to resemble weathered wood planks. The metal sculpture leaning against the wall will be hung when Doughboy comes home for the weekend.

AJA Ranch is above the door as you enter the room - it stands for Ayden, Jameson, and Ava.

The longest wall in the room has been painted as if you're standing inside a barn or stable. The barn door is open to reveal a scene outside. I was very precise in describing the way I wanted the scene to look. Little Ava isn't born yet, but I wanted to show her with her brothers in silhouette against a twilight sky.

They're sitting on a fence rail watching a cowboy on his horse.

I'll try to get better photos this weekend when a) the light is better, b) I've changed my lens to wide angle, and c) Doughboy has helped me push all the furniture back in place. It's fun to watch the progress. I'm very excited to have it completed in time for Ava's arrival, but that's being overly optimistic. I'd be happy if it were finished by Christmas. Oh has been more than a year with the room undecorated. A few weeks longer won't hurt. But everyone who knows me understands that I have no patience once I begin a project. It's one of many faults.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Catching Up

Time always flies amazingly fast for me, but even more so lately. There is a lot happening in our lives...two new grandchildren are making their arrival within the coming week; decorating is progressing in the boy's room; and preparations are in full swing for Thanksgiving (assuming Ava's arrival holds off until after the holiday).

Doughboy and I traveled to the Chicago area last weekend where we visited our old neighborhood in Batavia and attended the Antique Slot Machine and Jukebox Show in St. Charles. I found three items I would have bought from the show, but Doughboy stood firm on his word to "look but not buy". What a buzz kill.

We ate at our favorite pizza parlor - Gino's East. There is nothing like Gino's thin cracker crust pizza coupled with a pitcher of cold draft beer. We also dined twice at Portillo's for the bext Italian beef in the world. I was ecstatic to see they ship anywhere in the U.S. Yummmmm! I'm a Wisconsin girl at heart and my taste in culinary arts are limited to basic food. I'd rather spend my money on something tangible than dine at expensive restaurants. Blue jeans, pizza and beer suit me just fine!

After cruising through the aisles of the slot machine event, we drove north to another of our favorite destinations - the quaint town of Long Grove. I couldn't resist buying a new sweater for Leo from the Dog House. It cost more than any sweater I would buy myself, but he loves it. Other purchases were cute finds for baby Ava and a bottle of Riesling wine for Doughby and I to share at home this weekend. It's fun to travel, but there's no place like home. With a click of my ruby slippers, I was back home in Georgia while Doughboy traveled to Pittsburgh.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Kacey's Photo Contest

Kacey, over at Wine On the Keyboard, is having another photo contest (click here for a complete description). Rules for this month's submission are:

1. Send a link to any photo you want. Hence the "shooter’s choice"

2. It must have been taken in the last 3 months. (sept, oct, nov)

3. You have until Wednesday, November 19th to send the link to Kacey.

Her photo contests are always fun, even though I have never won. I decided to enter a photo that is near and dear to me with two new grand-daughters making their arrival within the coming week. If you like my photo, please visit Kacey's blog and submit your vote. Thank you!

Monday, November 10, 2008

So You Wanna Be A Cowboy

We have been living in our new home a little more than a year. Until the day our previous home sells, which isn't likely to happen any time soon, funds are tight. This translates to a meager budget when it comes to decorating. The three upstairs bedrooms remain unchanged from the time the movers put the furniture in place. We have no visitors so there isn't a mad rush to do anything.

With the soon-to-be arrival of our new grand-daughter, I am feeling a push to get the kid's room finished. The biggest challenge was to select a theme (I always need a theme to help gel my ideas). Not too babyish...something that will grow with the kids...but not too mature. I get my best ideas from Pottery Barn, but admittedly I get a lot of help from my decorator friend, Denise. She is a genius at selecting fabrics, paint colors, and coordinating all the accessories. And she acts as the general manager while I'm a half hour away at work. She is truly a master at her craft.

Here's the basis for our theme. It started with bedding...

...and this is the look we're trying to achieve.

The painter started today and next week Mike, a spectacularly talented artist, will do his magic creating a scene on the walls. The wood blinds are ordered and Suzy, a whiz at transforming fabric into works of art for the windows, is busy at work. We already have bunk beds and matching dresser, crib, and changing table. But I am checking my e-mail daily for this treasure to go on sale.

I want a safe, cozy room for our grandchildren to enjoy. Up until this past summer, Ayden was too young to stay overnight away from Mom and Dad. Now it's second nature for him and he cries when he has to leave us. All too soon his little brother Jameson will want to have sleepovers. Not all of us can fit in our bed, so it's time to create a comfortable place for them to sleep and play. I'll post pictures of the progress as their room takes shape. I can't wait to begin planning Ava's bedroom. Just kidding, Doughboy...don't have a coronary!


I am a nester and enjoy - no, LOVE - being at home. It takes something really important to get me away from home for any length of time. Doughboy is a collector of antique slot machines. To make him happy requires very little, and he rarely asks anything for himself. Therefore, when he asked me to attend the Antique Slot Machine and Jukebox Show in our old stomping grounds of St. Charles IL, how could I say no? The same show occurs in the spring as it does every fall. Last year we added two more slot machines to our growing collection making the total number in our collection at 18. I must admit they are very pretty and each one has a unique history, such as the Bellboy.

Before moving to our new home last September, our previous home showcased Doughboy's collection beautifully. Now they are sitting in our unfinished lower level awaiting the time we sell our old home to come alive again. Here are a few of Doughboy's prized collection taken before we moved...

Even if we don't find a slot machine this coming weekend - one that we simply can't live without - it'll be fun to scour our old neighborhood to see what has changed. Living near Chicago had its perks, but we don't miss the cold winters and s-s-s-snow. Brrrrr! And the food - don't get me started on all the great restaurants we miss. Yum - Pizza Uno and Portillo's are two places we always visit when we return to Chicago.

P.S. Thanks, Jamie, for puppy/house sitting while we are gone. At 8 months pregnant with two boys, maybe you'll get some much deserved sleep :)

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Surviving Ayden

Ayden's sleepover with us began earlier than expected. His little brother was sick and Jamie was concerned about exposing Ayden to Jameson's stomach virus. After scooping up Ayden, we went to lunch before our movie date to see Madagascar 2. We had a little time to kill before the movie and I had the bright idea to peruse Toys R Us for a game to play later that evening. Ayden was on sensory overload - he dashed through the store like a junkie on crack. We didn't make it past the aisle of battery operated vehicles as Ayden came to an abrupt halt in front of the Polaris Ranger Rzr. I guess it was only inevitable that it go home with us. Ayden was wired throughout the movie. Sitting still was a monumental feat as visions of riding his new "Jeep" was a higher priority than watching the cute characters of Madagascar. We barely made it into the driveway before Ayden and Bumpa had the box ripped open and parts strewn all over the garage. The testosterone was flowing abundantly, but I stood my ground. I was given decal duty. Humpf!

We worked well past dark to finish assembly of Ayden's Jeep

I put the decals in place and all was finished in time for Ayden's bath. His first words upon waking at 6:00 a.m. were, "Is my Jeep done charging?"

After a quick breakfast with the Payne's, it was time for Ayden to take his Jeep for an inaugural drive on the cart path. Jamie and I sat in the back seat of the golf cart so we could take a thousand or two photos (hence the reason for out of focus shots).

Ayden was focused on keeping his eyes on the road. Ayden? Ayyyyyyden!

Ayden is fidgeting with the radio. Yes, it comes with an AM tuner. Jeez! I wish there were toys like this when I was his age. Ayden, keep your eyes on the path ahead of you!

Ayden, stay focused! Notice where he's NOT looking.

Oh least they had fun!

Crossing the bridge was challenging, but he did it! Jameson looks doubtful.

I think it's safe to say they had a ball driving their new Jeep! Don't you wish you could be a kid again?

Friday, November 7, 2008

Ayden's Saturday Sleepover

When I get up and ready for work in the mornings I’m in my zone. With Doughboy working in Pittsburgh, I’m alone during the work week. I have my routine beginning at 5:30 a.m. and am faithful to the clock. After feeding the pups and watching the morning news, I am in the shower by 6:15. Makeup, hair, and clothes are done by 7:00 and I am out the door by 7:20-7:30. Not much varies Monday through Friday. Therefore, this morning was “off” by the ringing of the phone. My immediate reaction was to suspect the worse. Is my 8-month pregnant daughter okay? Has something happened to the boys? Doughboy? I answered the phone with a timid “hello” as I braced myself for bad news.

Jamie: Mom? Ayden has something to ask you.

(there is a shuffling sound in the background as she hands the phone to my four year old grandson)

Ayden: Mimi?

Me: Yes, Ayden. What’s wrong?

Ayden: Mimi? Can I have a sleepover with you and Bumpa Saturday?

(I am much relieved at this point and would have agreed to anything)

Me: Of course you can sleepover, baby. Would you like to see a movie? Madagascar is playing.

Ayden: No, I already saw Madagascar. We have that moodie.

Me: No this is a new Madagascar, movie. Just like you have a million Scoobie Doo movies, this is a different Madagascar movie.

Ayden: Great! I’ll see you after school, Mimi! (pause) Oh…I love you! Bye Mimi.

I absolutely ADORE that little boy! True, I am a pushover when it comes to Ayden. I love his little brother, Jameson, and will no doubt be wrapped around Ava’s finger someday soon. But the bond I have with Ayden is special. I can’t explain why.

I remember sleeping over at my Grandmother’s house when I was a little girl and still had the same thrill spending time with her when I grew into adulthood. I miss her incredibly and my heart breaks a little during this time of year as I remember losing her on Christmas Eve. As long as I am breathing, I vow to give our grandchildren wonderful memories to recall when I am gone. This isn’t a morbid thought really. I don’t plan to go any where soon. I just want to love and spoil them as much as I can while I'm around. That’s not so bad, is it?

If I’m not too busy, I’ll take photos of Ayden’s sleepover to share in a weekend post. We’re sure to have lots of fun and cuddles!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Starr's Mill

One of the most known historic landmarks in Fayette County Georgia is Starr's Mill. It has graced the covers of countless magazines and is a popular attraction for families and photographers. Click here for photos taken last year (sans baby Jameson who slept through the entire photo shoot).

For readers who are unfamiliar with Starr's Mill, the property was part of the 1821 Land Lottery that was held at the State Capital in Milledgeville. John Askew, of Jasper Georgia, was the first to own Land Lot No. 129 in District 4 in Henry County, this became part of Fayette County in 1821. He sold the land to Hananiah Gillcoat. When Gillcoat died in 1825 the property was auctioned at public outcry on April 17, 1827. It changed owners several time through the years until it became a county park.

This year I met the Payne's on a picture perfect Sunday in an attempt to gather the family for a group photo. This was much more difficult than it first seemed. The boys were wild with excitement and Jameson wouldn't sit still for more than two seconds. I did my best. Here's a sampling.