Friday, December 16

Shhhh! It's A Secret

I am lucky enough to live in a neighborhood where many of my closest friends live.  This year I decided to give homemade gifts to them.  I thought about the normal caramel popcorn, assorted cookies and fudge, peppermint bark, etc. but it just didn't feel right.  Then I remembered something my mother used to make every year at this time.  HOMEMADE KAHLUA!  It's the perfect gift because Lord knows we like our happy hour around here!
If you are like me, you love anything coffee flavored.  It's easy, so go ahead and try it for yourself.  This is what you'll need

I sent my husband for the vodka and this is what he came home with. 
 Might not have been the brand I would have picked.

4 c. water
3 c. sugar
5 oz. pure vanilla
2 oz. Kava instant coffee
1 qt. vodka

Mix sugar and water and heat to dissolve (DON'T BOIL)
Combine vanilla and coffee and add to water.  Pour into a gallon pitcher and stir in vodka.  Let stand for 2 days.

While you are waiting, go to World Market and get some fancy bottles.

After you have washed and dried the bottles, use a funnel to fill the with Kahlua.

Once they are all filled, add a pretty tag (with a coffee martini recipe) and an ornament and "Voila!" Easy homemade Christmas gift.

Thursday, December 15

My Nativity Scene(s)

Here is a quick peek at BOTH of my Nativity scenes.  The first was a wedding gift from a dear family friend.  She made it herself in a ceramics studio.  It has quite a lot of pieces.  There are more animals in it than you see in most scenes, which I suppose is fitting; they were in a stable after all.  There are two camels, four sheep (if you count the one across the shepherd boy's shoulders, a cow, and of course, Mary's donkey.  I especially love the angel that hangs above the entire scene.  It is a good reminder to me that there are always angels among us.  I must confess that I get very agitated every year when my children understandably want to help me put it out.  I am terrified that one of the pieces will be broken.  I know, I know; the pieces could be repaired, but the thought of the clunk and shatter as one of the pieces is broken is almost too much for me to bear.  Here is a look at the one I've had the longest and was a gift from Marian.

My second Nativity scene was a gift from my grandpa shortly before he passed away.  Again, he made it himself in a ceramics studio.  It is much smaller, both in the number of pieces and its physical size.  I love how it appears to be made of pewter.  Even though this scene is equally as precious to me, it is the one that I always put down low for the kids to look at and touch.  The main reason for this is that I can hear Grandpa Bob saying, "Jenny, let them play with it, there isn't anything there that can't be fixed."  Here is a peek at it.

So there you have it; my Nativity scenes.  Both of them equally beautiful and handmade by people I hold dear.  Merry Christmas everyone!

This post was inspired by Mama Kat's Pretty Much World Famous Writer's Workshop.  Go ahead and link up too!

Thursday, December 1

Note to Self

Advent Conspiracy from International Justice Mission on Vimeo

I'm so guilty of this compulsion to spend at Christmas.  This year for Advent I will try to remind myself of this little video each day.

Monday, November 21

Grandma's Recipes

She will be 97 on Christmas Eve.
She helped raise many of her 15 siblings.
She raised 5 of her own children.
She has 20 grandchildren.
She has 29 great-grandchildren.
And one on the way.
She has never driven a car.
She and my youngest daughter share a middle name, "Lorene."
She worked for years as a cook at McCollum Hall at the University of Kansas.
I wish she would have been the cook when I lived there!

We fight over her gingersnaps, we covet her snickerdoodles, her quesadillas are heaven, chicken and noodles just aren't right without her homemade noodles, and spending the night at her house brought the extra perk of getting a fluffy pancake as big as your head for breakfast.  I'll admit I don't use her recipes as often as my family would like, but thanksgiving calls for a couple of the favorites.

Let's have dessert first, shall we?

Grandma's handwritten recipe

I usually make two; one with a traditional crust and one with a graham cracker crust.  Now Grandma makes a mean meringue the likes of which I have not mastered, and that's what she tops hers with.  I default to whipped cream.  Here is her pie crust recipe if you don't have a favorite of your own:

The story on this, correct me if I'm wrong Mom, is that my 3 yr. old self proved my excellent cutting skills on Mom's recipe card while she was on the phone.  I like to think she was on the phone with Grandma getting advice on the recipe, but I'm not sure that's true.
Okay, on to dinner.

This is my own newly married handwriting, but I promise I was taking dictation directly from her.  A few things I'd like to point out:
  1. I'm sure hers was originally made with bread she had baked herself the day before, not Wonder bread that may or may not get slightly toasted in the oven depending on my mood and time constraints.
  2. That means sometimes it takes a little more than a loaf to soak up enough of the chicken stock.
  3. Like a good speech student of Mr. Bigham, I must remember to assume my audience has never made dressing before, and needs to be told to tear the bread into pieces and place in the baking dish.
  4. Mix the rest of the ingredients together, except butter, and pour over the torn bread.  Mash it slightly to make sure all the bread is moist.
  5. I always use more than 1tsp. of sage because I love its flavor.
  6. I use real butter instead of margerine and I just slice the stick in pieces and place them randomly over the top before baking.
Good luck with all of your Thanksgiving cooking!

This post was inspired by 
You can find out how to participate too right here.

Monday, November 14

So I Did

We were having a glass of wine and she said, "You know, you should paint your dining room orange."

So I did.  How else should one spend a weekend when the husband is out of town?  

Monday, November 7

Where The Workers Get Distracted

What's a girl to do when there is yard work to be done?

Distract the workers of course!

Turnabout is fair play, right?

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy...

Monday, October 17

Epic Roadtrip

We left home on Thursday with an empty truck and trailer and a full tank of gas.  We had maps and sunscreen, bungies, straps and tarps. We headed south through Kansas and Oklahoma towards the mother lode of flea-market shopping in Canton, Texas.

It was a trip we had talked about taking for years.  Giddy with excitement, we made lists of all the things we were on the lookout for...cabinets and tin ceiling tiles, old ledger paper, vintage textiles and jewelry.  The list went on and on.  Our first stop found us in Pittsburg, KS, a mere hour from home.  Old toolbox anyone?  Load it up of course!

We shopped our way through Oklahoma, stopping at any place that caught our fancy.

Unfortunately, this place wasn't open for the day yet but that didn't stop us from exploring the outside!

You know this is on the list of places to return to!
I'm embarrassed happy to report we had to make a stop in Tulsa to drop our first load at Jana's daughter's house for fear we may not have enough room for the treasures we just knew we were going to find...

it's a good thing we did, because boy did we ever find treasures!

And I found kettle corn!
There were lots of things we didn't buy...

But just a few that we did!

We returned home late on Sunday with a full truck and trailer and an empty tank of gas.  We had treasures, and ideas and projects to start, stories to tell and memories of new friends made along the way.
Let me tell you, if ever you need just a little jolt to your creativity and sense of adventure, head to Canton, TX for First Monday Trade Days.  I assure you it won't disappoint!

Saturday, September 10

Songs That Make Us Sing Saturday

I haven't posted on Saturday for quite a while, but this has been an especially patriotic week around our small town and I'm sure the same is true most everywhere in the United States. Tomorrow marks the 10th anniversary of the attack on America at the World Trade Center, The Pentagon, and an open field in Pennsylvania. While I can't even pretend to know what it was like for those who were right there in the middle of it, I know it changed me. I could never understand how my parents could remember exactly where they were and what they were doing when JFK was shot. After 9-11 I absolutely understand how you remember where you were when the world stopped turning:

You can play along too.  Check out The Mommy for all the rules and to link up!

Wednesday, September 7

Small Town Celebrations

Small towns celebrate big.  This is how we spent our Labor Day.

Waving Flags

High School Band


Fighting for Freedom

Patriot Riders

Waiting for Candy

Family Floats Full of KU Fans

Floats Full of Lifetime Residents

Red Hat Ladies

Cool Cars

Carnival Rides

Good Food

We have lots to celebrate in this country...God Bless America!

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