Thursday, December 31, 2009
2009 will be a year to remember for Eddie and me. More particularly, December, 2009 will stand out in our minds as the month when our lives took a giant shift in direction. On the Friday before Christmas, Eddie lost his job. We officially joined the ranks of those struggling with unemployment, trying to figure out how we could make things work from this point forward.
We are fortunate in that we have some savings, but we live in a small town in the Panhandle of Texas and jobs like the one my husband had are few and far between. I am blessed with a wonderful job as a legal assistant. My hours are flexible and the pay is good for a town of this size. But, Eddie was the big breadwinner, allowing my earnings to be used for fun, discretionary spending.
For the last two weeks, we have just been adjusting to the situation in which we find ourselves. We have done a lot of soul-searching and crunching of numbers and come to the conclusion that we need to make some major changes. We will have to radically change the "Plan" on which we had based our goals.
First off, we found ourselves questioning whether or not we should stay in Pampa. We have no more family living here since Eddie's youngest daughter went off to college in Oklahoma. The job situation is bad here, as is the economic situation overall. So, in the last few days, we have reached the first major decision in this new journey: we are going to relocate to Abilene. That's right, we will be moving back to my hometown. This is actually a silver lining to the storm surrounding us...we will be close to both of my parents, my daughter and her children, and one of my sons. Eddie has a sister living in Abilene, too. So, we will be close to family and in an area that is not as economically depressed as Pampa.
Of course, there are many, many steps to relocating. We have to sell this house we have grown to love. We will have to find new jobs. We will have to adjust our lifestyle greatly in the process. There is so much work to be done that it borders on being overwhelming. Yet, my heart beats with hope and optimism, eagerness to step out on this journey.
I will be chronicling this adventure here at Janie's Porch. The up's, the down's, the high's and the low's...you will be privy to all of it. Eddie and I have discussed it and agree that this is a great way to keep everyone informed and journal our lives during an exciting, yet tumultuous, time.
The fact that we step out in faith right here at the beginning of a new year, 2010, almost transcends belief. Isn't it wonderful that we have the opportunity to begin a chapter in our lives at the beginning of a new year? As we ring out the old and ring in the new this year, we are truly embarking on an epic adventure!
My prayer for you this year is that you will know God's peace and strength in your life when you face challenges.
With great hope...
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
We have finished the shopping. There are only a few last gifts to wrap and place under the tree. I still have a bit of baking to do, but the fudge is made. (Are you reading this, Daddy?) And now I have a bit more time to be still and reflect on the true meaning of this most holy of holidays...
Christmas will be different for us this year. Eddie and I have had some pretty big changes come upon us this last couple of weeks. There are big, life-changing decisions to be made and, although Christmas is in some ways the worst time of the year to have this happen, it is also the time of year when perhaps we are most receptive to God's reminders to us about what is truly important in Life.
Amid all the hustle and bustle of what Christmas has come to mean to the secular world, it is too easy to get caught up in the commercialism of the season and forget about the most precious Gift of all.
"For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." - Luke 2:11
What a miracle the birth of Jesus was! God's only Son, come to Earth as a Man, to walk among us and pay the ultimate price for our sin. Imagine how wondrous must have been that humble birth in a stable; how bright the star leading the Way; how sweet the singing of the angels; and how precious the feel of a newborn baby in Mary's loving arms. Oh, don't you wish you could have been there?
My prayer for this season is two-fold:
* Deep Gratitude and Thanksgiving that God is teaching me so much more about the true meaning of Christmas, and
* Bountiful Blessings to all my Family and Friends, that they, too, will know the tremendous Gift bestowed upon them by a loving Father.
Take the time to savor the special moments of the Season! Enjoy time spent with those you love, the gifts, the lights, the traditions...but seek the stillness, the quiet, the joy...and listen for God to speak to your heart.
Warm Christmas Hugs,
Saturday, December 19, 2009
First off, I couldn't find any tiles here in our little town, so I asked Eddie to pick some up at Lowe's when he went over to Amarillo. I specifically asked for 'matte finish' tiles and these were the only ones he could find that he considered 'matte finish'. Uh, they weren't smooth...more like tumbled stone, kinda uneven...and I wasn't sure how they would work.
But, I forged on. A trip to Dollar General yielded some pretty tissue paper. The instructions I had seen called for cocktail napkins with a design that would fit on the tiles, so I was 'making do' again when I went with the tissue paper. But, at this point, I was beginning to get a vision in my head of how my project might turn out, even though it would be somewhat different from what I originally planned.
Next, I got some little felt pads in the hardward department of WalMart and a fresh bottle of ModPodge and spray polyurethane. The original directions called for cork to cover the bottom of the tiles, but, alas, I couldn't find any cork in this town either!
After covering the work surface of my dining room table (my most favorite crafting surface), I was ready to get busy!
I just cut squares of tissue paper and used the ModPodge to cover the tiles, top and sides. Once that was dry, I gave it two more coats of ModPodge, brushing the surface in one direction on the first coat, and across the other way on the second coat. See how it gives the finish the look of canvas??
After these dried overnight, I took them out to the garage for a couple of thin coats of spray polyurethane. After letting that dry overnight, I used hot glue to set the little felt pads on the corners of coaster bottoms. There's no way those little suckers are coming off!
Finally, on the third day, I put sets of four coasters together and tied them with pretty wired ribbon. I even used those little dollar store bells on some of the bows.
Voila! A perfect little gift for someone special at Christmas-time.
I was pleased with how these turned out. They aren't quite like the ones I had seen online, but I still like them. Just goes to show ya that you can use what you have (or what you can find) to modify a craft project and make it your very own!
Wishing you and yours a season filled with love and wonderful new memories!!
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Now that the kids are all grown and pretty much on their own (Eddie Dale and I have seven between us, ranging in ages from 18 to 29), there is so much I miss:
* The pitter-patter of excited little feet scurrying through the house.
* Finding bits of sticky candy cane here and there.
* The necessity of finding new hiding places for presents.
* Pictures with Santa and Christmas programs at Mother's Day Out and school.
I even miss all that penny-pinching and budgeting it took to help Santa out each year when the kids were younger!
I recall the simple traditions we had when there were little ones around. On Christmas Eve, I always prepared a big pot of stew and a skillet of cornbread for dinner. Then, after baths, the kids were dressed in warm and fleecy footy-pj's and loaded into the minivan. I would pop in a casette tape of Christmas music and we were off to cruise through town, looking at lights and scanning the skies to spot the red glow of Rudolph's nose. Upon arriving back home, we would open the presents under the tree and set out a plate of cookies for Santa (with a nice big carrot for the reindeer) and try to settle down enough to sleep.
Christmas mornings were joyous with children in the house, indeed! After the rush to the tree to see what wondrous things Santa left (I personally know that Santa had a very difficult time deciding whether to come to our house right after the children fell asleep or wait until morning and try to catch them still sleeping!), I would begin the preparation for a feast at midday. It never failed that there were toys scattered from one end of the house to the other and someone was always under foot as I rushed around the kitchen, but I wouldn't trade for those times.
Now, don't get me wrong! I love the traditions that Eddie Dale and I have established since we married six years ago. We still go look at the light displays and listen to Christmas music, just not always on Christmas Eve (thanks to his wacky shift schedule). And now we usually have all the pups loaded into the truck with us instead of kiddos. I still bake, and go all out with the decorating, and listen to Christmas music too loud! And I still love to sit in the floor with my grown children as they open each present, oohing and aahing (I just need help getting up!).
The Holidays have changed for us, it's true. But that's not a bad thing. Christmas is just a bit slower, perhaps a little less frenzied. We are reminded in different ways of the Blessings of The Season. Although I cherish those moments from Christmas Past that stand out in my memories, I treasure the moments of Christmas Present that will be my memories in Christmas Future.
What kind of special traditions do you have with your loved ones? Are you chasing little ones and hiding presents? Or are you at a place in your life when you slow down a bit and reflect a little more? Each stage in this journey known as life is unique and special. My holiday wish for you is that you find all the joy where you are in your life - right now.
Special Holiday Hugs,
Monday, December 7, 2009
We are under three weeks on the CoUnTdOwN to ChRiStMaS...can you BeLiEvE that?!?!? I've been out there in BlogWorld, busily perusing all the fabulous ideas for crafting and decorating. So many Fabulous and Fantastic Ideas...I'm going into "sponge-mode-overload" trying to soak them all up!
I really haven't had just a whole lot of time to craft in recent years, but I wanted to show you a few of my FaVoRiTeS for this year. They're not all homemade...they're not all terribly crafty...but they all WoRk for Me!!!
My "Best Find" for this year is this beautiful red vase, which I picked up for $7.99 (nope, that's not a typo!) at Ross. I couldn't believe my luck when I spotted it AND got my hands on it before my Mother did!!! I simply filled it with a couple dozen old silver glass balls (already had these, don't we all?) and - voila - a beautiful piece that really makes a statement!
Next project: We had a need for a large centerpiece for the dining table that can be easily picked up and moved. I recently purchased a simple brown wooden serving tray at WalMart that I knew I wanted to use a the base. I took a cheap 9-foot artificial garland and wrapped it around a couple of times and shaped it to fit snugly down in the tray. Left-over silver beads and ornaments were just draped and snuggled into the greenery and a trio of silver candlesticks nestled in the center completed the arrangement. I just love the way this turned out and it's soooo easy to just grab it and move it when we need the table space!
Finally, I unwrapped these little pinecone trees I crafted a couple of years ago. I had the tiny clay pots, leftover from a project years ago, and transformed them with silver spray paint. Pinecones, gathered from our property, were simply tipped with glue, using a spongebrush, and dusted with silver glitter. A little dried spanish moss was tucked in the base and a pinecone hot-glued on top of that. How simple!
I made about a dozen of these one evening and have tucked them here and there as accent pieces to finish out little vignettes. Great fillers!
So, there you have it! These fun and simple decorations - some made and some bought -help brighten our country home for the Holiday Season.
You know, at this Special Time of the Year, Eddie Dale and I are feeling truly BLESSED. We have a wonderful home, our health, our awesome Family and Friends...too many BLESSINGS to list.
I wish for each and every one of you Abundant Blessings during this Season of JOY!!!
Check out other great DIY projects from BlogLand over at: http://asoftplace.net/
(Sorry, Kimba, can't get your button to load up over here!)
Saturday, December 5, 2009
Okay, so it took the two us the better part of two days (and Eddie working alone an extra afternoon) to git 'er done....but, just look at it!!! WE'RE ALL LIT UP!!!
Isn't it GRAND?!?!?! And oh so FABULOUS?!?!?!
We have a herd of deer grazing on the knoll in front of the house....
(Do NOT look at the electrical cords hanging from the deer....just pretend you do not see them!!!)
And a polar bear, complete with trees and presents....
And Frosty the Snowman....
And Lots and Lots of LIGHTS!!!!
So, we can just bundle up...and sit back and sip from our cuppa hot cocoa...and enjoy the view from the Porch!!!
Season's Best Wishes!!!
Thursday, December 3, 2009
It took me the better part of two days to sort through all the plastic bins, put together and shape trees, hang lights and garlands, and place all the ornaments...but, it's done! Now Eddie and I can sit back and enjoy the Christmas wonderland by treelight and candlelight.
In the living room, we have two trees. The main tree has its place in the corner by the piano. It branches are filled with many special ornaments, tipped with glass birds, shimmery poinsettias, and red and gold glass candles (my favorite Dollar General find this year!).
By the front window, we have our special Texas tree. It holds all the ornaments we have picked up from around the state and our western and Texas-themed ornaments. This is a treasured collection to two lovers of Texas History!
Our old-fashioned ranch house has the front door in the kitchen/dining area. We just love the welcome this provides and have placed a tree in the window right next to the door. Besides its candy-themed ribbons and bright red and green balls and glass beads, it is loaded with wooden ornaments, tin cookie cutters and many of the old-fashioned flocked ornaments I collected as a child. To top it off, candy canes are hung on the branches to be taken by visitors to our home (or one of us if a craving for peppermint strikes).
Back in my pink girlie retreat, a small alpine tree hung with aqua and blue glass balls sits atop my grandmother's cedar chest. I found some beautiful taupe ribbon with silver and aqua shimmer to top this little tree.
I love having a little bit of Christmas in every room of the house! I placed one of my grandmother's dishes filled with red, green and gold glass balls on the the dresser. The light from the lamp and a yummy-smelling candle reflect off the glass and add just the right touch.
Now, the porch hasn't undergone its transformation yet. Eddie has already begun stringing lights all around the trees and fences. This weekend, we will take out all the yard decorations and string multi-colored lights and white icicle lights around the roofline. Deer, snowmen, snowflakes and even a polar bear will make an appearance. And our house will be visible once again from the loop at the edge of town!
I'm linking up with Deck the Halls - http://www.thoughtsfromovertherainbow.blogspot.com/ - where you can get lots of great ideas and inspiration!
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Robin, over at "All Things Heart and Home", has the most wonderful idea for a holiday link-up party to cover all the holidays, Thanksgiving through New Year's! She is truly one of the most talented bloggers around and I hope you will take a few minutes to head over and check out her terrific blog and the party!
Since Thanksgiving hits first, I am revisiting this post from the night before Thanksgiving of last year. It's one of my favorites because it includes a simple, but oh-so-yummy, recipe for pecan pie! Give it a try.....I guarantee you will not be disappointed.
Thanksgiving is upon us. A time to count our blessings...to be with loved ones...and savor every moment!
And speaking of savoring....I just finished my pre-holiday baking and it smells absolutely HEAVENLY at our house!!! I've got the cornbread and biscuits ready to build some dressing around the turkey tomorrow. Eddie baked two pumpkin pies, bless his heart! Brownies with walnuts are cooling as I finally sit. And I made two of my favorite old-fashioned pecan pies. This recipe is the same one my mother used when I was a little girl and it's fail-proof, super easy, and TOTALLY YUMMY!!!
You will the following ingredients for one pie:
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 stick of margarine - melted
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 cup pecan halves (this just works better than chopped pieces)
1 9-inch deep dish pie shell (uncooked)
Beat or whisk the eggs. Add sugar, corn syrup, melted butter, vanilla extract and mix thoroughly. Stir in the pecans, blending them in well. Pour into the pie shell and place on a cookie sheet or shallow pan in 350 degree oven for about 40-45 minutes. The pie is done when golden brown and the middle stops jiggling!
Now, I cheat...I always use frozen pie crusts! I just don't have the patience, the time or the knack for making pie dough from scratch. And the rich, gooey filling in this pie, combined with the delicious pecans, will overcome the shortcomings of any store-bought pie crust! TRUST ME!!!
With all this baking going on, you're probably thinking I have a house full of guests for dinner tomorrow. Nope. It will just be me, Eddie, my Dad (who drove in from Abilene) and Ed's youngest, Kenzie (who is home for college for the holiday weekend). Like alot of empty-nesters, our children and siblings are scattered so far and wide, it's hard to get everyone in one place. Once the young 'uns get grown, they marry and we have to learn to share time with in-laws. Besides that, Eddie is working night shift through tomorrow night, but we get to head to Abilene on Friday morning to see lots of FAMILY!
Until then, we'll be stuffing on the traditional Thanksgiving feast and giving thanks just to be together!
Wishing all of you a warm and blessed day with loved ones!
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Then something amazing happened. In a weak moment, I allowed my mother to convince me to let her prepare a cup of coffee with her favorite french vanilla creamer for me. The first few sips....still bitter. About halfway through the cuppa joe, though, the taste changed. I don't know if my tastebuds have just matured or if it's really the creamer, but it started to taste kinda good. I finished that cup and didn't look back.
Now, I've discovered International Coffee's French Vanilla Cafe instant cofee and look forward to a cup each morning. I discovered that the cappucino machine at Taylormart has the most yummy french vanilla cappucino and that has replaced my morning diet coke on the way to work. I can't wait to check out Starbucks this weekend while we're in Abilene because there's a shop just down the street from my Mom's house. I keep hearing about this pumpkin flavored latte and have to try it!
Oh, my! What has happened to me?!?!? Mother, dear, you have created a monster! A caffeine-craving coffee junkie!!!
Weird thing is that I want to share this new-found love of mine. I keep trying to get Ed to taste the different flavored coffees, but he merely shudders and makes a face. He doesn't understand...he doesn't realize what he is missing. And, to think...just a couple of short weeks ago, I was just like him....I just didn't know what I was missing....
Sunday, November 22, 2009
* I'm thankful for a wonderful husband who continuously shows me just how much he loves me.
* I'm thankful for three terrific children who make my life complete.
* I'm thankful for three precious grandchildren who add so much joy to my life.
* I'm thankful for the wonderful relationship I have with my parents and their continued good health.
* I'm thankful for my sister and her new family and the happiness they have found.
* I'm thankful for wonderful friends, both old and new, who make life more fun.
* I'm thankful for a warm, comfortable house that we have made a home.
* I'm thankful for my job, including the challenges and sense of accomplishment it brings.
* I'm thankful that I live in a country where we can still disagree with our president and I pray that doesn't change.
* I'm thankful for each morning that I wake up and each night that I lay my head down to sleep.
We all have so much to be thankful for, here in our land of plenty. It's a shame that most of us only think about our blessings during the holiday season, when it should be something we do daily. I am as guilty of this as anyone else.
So, I'm making an extra effort to remember my blessings and be thankful for even the little things on a daily basis.
I wish each and every one of you a Thanksgiving filled with family, friends and all that you love!
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Wanna know what's sexy in my book? Lean in...a little closer now...c'mon, you know you want to hear what I'm about to say...A MAN WHO COOKS!!! Now that is the epitome of SeXy!
A man who really knows his way around the kitchen was a novel idea to me. All my life, I was surrounded by women who were whizzes in the kitchen. Mymommy could whip up just about anything in her tiny little kitchen. MaMa could fry chicken like no one else. My mother cooked everything from Thanksgiving dinner to the most scrumptious chocolate chip cookies in our little house on Blair Street. But, the only memories I had of a man cooking were my Dad grilling steaks on a barrel-turned-grill out on the patio.
Well, when Ed came into my life, my whole way of thinking on who really runs the kitchen was turned topsy-turvy. Sure, this man was always talking about cooking and recipes, but I was skeptical. The first time he offered to cook for me, I turned in my order for fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy with rather low expectations. Not only did he prepare a delicious meal, he aced it! And stole my heart. From there, he introduced me to some wonderful new dishes like blackened catfish, homemade fettucini alfredo, grilled pork tenderloin with raspberry chipotle sauce...and the list goes on and on.
What makes Ed a ChEf, as opposed to just a cook, is that he is absolutely fearless in the kitchen. He creates his own sauces, seasonings and rubs. He loves to make as much as possible from scratch. He utilizes the grill for vegetables and side dishes. He blends flavors and ingredients and uses dozens of kitchen "gadgets". He's an artist with food, creating culinary masterpieces!
Yikes, I'm sounding like The Food Network. But, it's all so true!!!
And trust me when I say it's the ultimate "turn-on" to have a man preparing a meal for you. Even more so I jump in there and we cook together! Working as a team in the kitchen and then sitting down to enjoy the fruits of our labors is a prime example of marital bliss.
So, men, listen up! Want to know a sure-fire way to impress a woman? Win her heart? Watch Food Network. Read some cookbooks. Get in the kitchen and practice a bit. I guarantee if you make the effort, you will reap the rewards!
And to you, Ed, I'll continue to clean the kitchen as long as you continue to cook for me!
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
I want to introduce you to an amazing woman. Her name is Bonnie Leigh Butler Isenburg. She is wife to Rusty and mom to Madelyn (age 8), Trayden (age 5) and Ansleigh (age 3). She is a Grievance Quality Technician at the Blue Cross Blue Shield facility in Abilene. And she is my daughter!
I admire Bonnie for so many reasons and I thought I would share just a few of them with you here:
* She is a beautiful young woman. Just look at that smile...and those blue eyes...she sparkles and lights up any room she walks into!
* She is a devoted wife and mother. She stays up late, even after putting in a full day at work, to bake cupcakes for her kids' class when there's a special occasion.
* She devotes time to her church, working with the Youth, because she has a special burden on her heart for young people - especially those struggling through the awkward teen years.
* She is a rabid New Kids on the Block fan! If she weren't happily married, I have no doubt she would be stalking Joey McIntyre.
* She is a loyal mate to Rusty and works hard to make their home happy, comfortable and a refuge from the outside world.
* She has a strong sense of family and tradition and always makes time for family gatherings - even if it means shuffling from one set of grandparents' house to the next with toddlers who haven't had a nap.
* She has overcome some real obtacles in her life. Last year, she broke her leg over the Memorial Day weekend. She had to wait from Saturday night until the following Wednesday, with her severely fractured tibia in a temporary splint, before it could be surgically set with a metal rod. Even though the doctors warned her she might have a permanent limp, she coped with splints, crutches, a walker, intense pain and a household with two kids to run - and made a remarkable recovery. She doesn't even have a slight limp!
* She is a selfless friend. Just ask her best friend, Amber, who lost one of her infant twins, Aiden, less than three years ago. Bonnie took off work, drove to Fort Worth and spent countless hours consoling her friend, helping out with Alex (the surviving twin) and even holding vigil over Aiden while he was on life support for several days.
I admire Bonnie for her spirit, her gracious nature and her commitment to life. I love Bonnie as a daughter and a friend. I'm thankful every day that she is a part of my life!
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