Monday, January 18, 2010

Some of My Favorite Things...

I have always loved cookbooks. From the time I was a little girl flipping through the pages of my mother's binder-style "Better Homes & Gardens" cookbook, I loved to look at the photos of the finished dishes and scan for dishes that appeared particularly appetizing. I READ cookbooks like some people read fiction!!!

I was so enamored with my mother's cookbook that she bought me my very first cookbook of my own - and I still have it!

I am particularly fond of this one, which I received as a wedding gift some 28 years ago. The author, Jane Justin, was the wife of the founder of Justin Boots, and it was from this cookbook I learned to make meatloaf.

Eddie Dale has definitely fostered my love of cookbooks. Now this is the cookbook I gave him our first Christmas together, so now it's kinda mine by association. Tom Perini is special to the two of us because my husband proposed to me at Tom's steakhouse in Buffalo Gap, in front of a roaring fireplace in the back room! A cowboy and a romantic!

I am a huge fan of Jan Karon's Mitford series, having read every single one of her books and salivated over the many sumptuous dishes described in tasty detail. My dad and I share a love for her wonderful storytelling and he gave me this beautiful book. I love this cookbook because it intersperses bits of the stories in with the recipes. I still don't have the courage to attempt Esther Bolick's Orange Marmelade Cake!

Junior Leagues across the South put out some of the best cookbooks anywhere on a regular basis. I found this one published by the LaGrange, Georgia Junior League in a shop in Fredericksburg a few years ago and, although it has no photographs, it has some of the best Southern recipes - particularly desserts.

I absolutely adore Paula Deen - her cooking, her style and sense of humor, her spirit and spunk. My sister gave me this book a couple of years ago for Christmas and it is chocked full of great food and Paula's amusing and touching anecdotes. I just love it!

The most recent addition to my collection is one of the most fantastic cookbooks to have ever been published, in my opinion at least. She may not be Julia Child, but Ree Drummond, aka The Pioneer Woman, put this baby together all by herself and it's a masterpiece. From the photography to the tasty and practical recipes, it is an absolute gem and I can sit and look at it for hours!

Something else that makes it special is that is autographed to me! I don't live anywhere near where a book-signing was held by this amazing woman, but Eddie Dale mailed it to her and she signed it and mailed it back in time for me to get it for Christmas!

As I am packing these books away, I realize that they are among some of my most precious possessions. They have taught me not only to cook and provided the inspiration for tasty food for my family, but they have brought me endless hours of enjoyment.

Do you have some favorites in your cookbook collection that you would like to share? I'd love to hear about them!

Bon Appetit!!!


Sunday, January 17, 2010

Let the Countdown Begin!!!

Counting down...11 days until we close on our little cottage in Abilene and begin the move! Literally, we are beginning the move on January 28th, the day we close. We take our first load down that morning. Should be a fun day, huh? But our reward will be sleeping that night in our new home.

Our place in the country here is looking pretty "nekkid" since we've started packing. Most of the pictures and wall hangings are down now.

But, seeing this cleared expanse of wall reminds me how much I love this color - Laura Ashley Olive 4.

The bookcase and hutch are bare.

Boxes are stacking up, mostly in the Texas Room.

We have cleaned out, purged and organized.

We have accomplished so much this weekend and Eddie Dale is looking pretty proud of himself! We have the cellar cleared and ready to load. We filled every box we could put our hands on. We filled the back of our F250 with another load of trash and found many items to donate to local charities.

And we have a lot of hard work ahead of us when we arrive in Abilene. There is soooooo much to be done at our new home - painting, flooring, new ceiling fans and light fixtures, decorating...I'm tired just thinking about it.

Never mind that the move itself is daunting! I'm having trouble comprehending just how much stuff two people can own! And we're moving ourselves roughly 268 miles down the road. (God bless U-Haul!!!)

We're experiencing so many emotions, truly a mixed bag! It's exhausting to prepare for the move; it's sad to see the bare walls; it's exhilarating to see all the crap that is finding its way out of the house.

But, above all, it is exciting to be preparing to go home!

Hanging in there....


Friday, January 15, 2010

It's a Little Sad.....

to be packing up in preparation to leave this house that has been such a wonderful home!

Since it's only 13 days until we need to be in Abilene to close on our new house, we decided to get started with the packing process. First off, we scored some boxes at a local liquor store while we were in town today. I love these size boxes because I can put heavier objects, like books, in them and they are small enough that they won't be too heavy for me to lift.

Then we stopped by a local U-Haul vendor and found this great paper for packing! I just love this much better than newspaper. We bought two 10-pound boxes and I only used about half of one box today.

Today's portion of the packing project took about two hours. I used every single box we got our hands on today and was able to pack everything in my bookcases, all the framed photos and 'knick-knacks' from around the house, most of the smaller framed items off the walls and everything off my hutch. I also got down most everything from around the top display shelf in my kitchen.

All in all, it went pretty smoothly and I'm ready to tackle the cellar tomorrow. Now, there is a lot of CRAP stuck down in the cellar...most of it has been there since we moved in five years ago and didn't have a place to put it. I'm thinking there is probably a trip to a dumpster in our future for tomorrow!

Although it's been a bit sad to put things away today, it's been exciting, too! More than the signing of a contract, packing up our belongings makes the move seem so real. It's the tangible evidence that our lives are moving forward - literally.

More to come tomorrow!


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

One of the Little Perks....

There have been so many blessings to come out of the situation we have found ourselves in since Ed lost his job last month!

* Family and Friends have surrounded us with love and a sense of support and encouragement.

* We found the courage to take the leap of Faith and relocate to Abilene - something we have been "talking about" and "planning on" for some time!

* God led us to a house we love in Abilene and opened the door for us to buy it - and He led a family to buy our house to become their new Home.

But, one of the most unexpected little blessings has been one of my favorites - I have discovered what is like to have a "Housewife"!!!

Okay, okay...I know that sounds somewhat sexist, but let me explain.

Since Ed isn't working right now, and we find ourselves in a state of limbo before we move, he has time on his hands. Right? And I have been working extra hours so I have had less time than usual for taking care of the things around the house that are usually "my territory". But, my hubby, being the awesome kind of man he is, has completely picked up all the slack on the homefront!

Let me give you a few examples:

* Laundry - CHECK!!! Outside a few questions about "sorting", this little chore has now become his. And he is doing a fantastic job! How terrific it is to find clean linens, all folded and put away...aaahhhhh, it is downright bliss.

* Cooking - CHECK!!! Ed has always been great about getting in the kitchen and planning and cooking, but he has even taken to having lunch for me when I come in at noon. Way better than take-out, girls!

* Running errands - CHECK!!! Grocery store, bank, odds and ends, here and's like having a clone of myself to take care of all the miscellaneous stuff that needs to be done!

* Vacuuming and mopping - CHECK CHECK!!! This is my personal favorite - of all time! You see, I wanted all wood and tile flooring in this house because when it's clean, it's really clean, right? Little did I realize the amount of maintenance that would be involved. But, now Ed has it covered! From cleaning out the vacuum to swiffering, mopping to replacing throw rugs...he has it down pat!

So, do you see now why I say I feel like I have a "housewife"???

It has been wonderful to have someone else to pick up the slack on the daily chores. The fact that my husband has done this with a cheerful heart and a willing attitude - without even being asked - reminds me how fortunate I am to have him as my partner in life.

Now, I know that once we get moved, settled in Abilene and he finds a job, the roles will go back to the norm. But, I am certainly enjoying this while I've got it! Wouldn't you?!?!? It's nice to have the roles reversed for a while.

And, more importantly, I have learned what Ed is capable of doing around the house! This has truly been an eye-opening experience. I now know that I don't have to be Superwoman. If I need help around the house, I can ask for it and know that he can get the job done - and done well!

So, for what it's worth, there's my take on one of the little perks that I find in my life these days. Beyond a perk, it truly is a blessing to me - a daily blessing for which I am so thankful!

Learning to take it one day at a time.....


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Janie Finds a New Porch!!!

What a busy three days we have had!

We traveled to Abilene on Thursday afternoon in frigid temperatures to resume our house hunt. We braved sub-freezing temps again on Friday to get out and look at several houses there we had been scouting online. B-b-b-b-r-r-r-r! Here's a little tip for any of you trying to sell a house - always leave the utilities on when showing your house! We went in to all sorts of houses, but the ones that were vacant and had no electricity (i.e., no heat) were not very appealing.

After seven houses, we were ready to go back to one we had already fallen in love with when we looked at it the Monday after Christmas. Bless our realtor's heart, she was a good sport about trekking around in the arctic temperatures (with a nasty headcold, no less) to show us all these other properties when we knew in our hearts we were going to make an offer on the one she had already found for us.

After seeing what was on the market, we were more than eager to make an offer on 897 Davis, a darling little "cottage" only four blocks from the house where I spent my childnood. We were thrilled when we heard back from the realtor at 10:00 pm that the Seller accepted our offer for two reasons: 1) we heard from our realtor that we had a solid offer on our house in Pampa Friday morning; and 2) we had already scheduled a home inspection for 10:00 o'clock the next morning. That inspection, I am happy to say, went very well. So, we are truly under contract on both houses!

This experience has been most overwhelming. In our wildest dreams, we never imagined that things would happen so quickly! In this economy, at this time of the year, in our situation, this has truly been an answer to so many prayers!

I will be posting more photos of the new house soon! There will be plenty of "before and after" pictures, trust me. Closing date is set for January 28th, so it won't be long until Eddie and I are busy making this little cottage our very own. We are of the frame of mind that this will be our last house - the home that will shelter us through to our final days together on this earth.

Thanks to all of you who have sent words of encouragement and lifted a prayer for us. We can truly see God's Hand in everything that is happening and we are trusting Him to lead us on to our new home!

Warm Hugs,


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

"On the Market"

After two full days of painting, scrubbing and purging, we were finally able to invite the realtor in to photograph the house for her MLS listing. As of yesterday, the standard "For Sale" sign sits at the end of our driveway and we have embarked on the tremulous adventure of selling our house.

I have mixed emotions at this point.

Relief - that the push is over to prepare the house for "showing". It was a lot of work and the results are very gratifying.

Excitement - because we have made the decision to go ahead and begin the house search in Abilene. I can't wait to get home and be close to family and old friends again.

Worry (and yet cautious optimism)- about selling the house. After doing lots of looking around and research, I am confident that we have the best house to offer for this price range here in town. And on the first day on the market, our realtor had three calls from realtors in Amarillo wanting to know when the house would be available to show. But, we all watch the news and read the papers. It's a buyer's market out there and the economy around here is sluggish.

Stress - because I hate not being in control of everything. Face it - it IS stressful working all day and keeping a house clean when you have a husband and three dogs running around. 'Tis no easy task, you know, and thank goodness Eddie is a great help in this department!

Gratitude -I have heard from so many friends and the wonderful words of encouragement and support have given me a sense of peace and security!

While I am anxious to have this part of the journey behind us, my goal is to move through the process with a positive attitude and a faith that is a witness to the Source of my strength.

Oh, and did I mention that my house looks absolutely fab-u-lous?!?!?

Counting my blessings....


Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year's Day, 2010

Well, here it is. 2010, in all its newborn glory. And we are off to a running start around here!

Sorry to say that we didn't stay up last night to welcome in the new year. Nope, we were all snug in bed before 11:00 pm because we are still catching up on our sleep from the holidays. But the extra sleep paid off because we had the energy to get a heckuva lot accomplished today.

Come Monday, our house will be on the market...a big "For Sale" sign out in the front, folks. So, this 3-day weekend is devoted to getting the place in tip-top shape.

We started in the kitchen by cleaning out cabinets and packing up some of the gazillion pots and pans we really didn't have room to accomodate. Scrubbed down cabinets, organized our cookbooks, put fresh paper on the shelves and did touch-ups on the paint. Wow! I wish we had done this sooner because it just sparkles...feels so good!

We moved from there into the mudroom/washroom and reorganized the cabinets, putting in new shelf paper and touching up more white trim paint. Now when prospective buyers come through and are tempted to peek in cabinets, they will think I am superbly organized. Ha!

Eddie put a pot of pinto beans seasoned with smoked ham on to simmer this morning and we made a skillet of cornbread and oven-fried potatoes for supper. I know, I know...the tradition is to eat black-eyed peas on New Year's Day, but my husband just abhors black-eyed peas. It's a shame, too, because I could eat a big ol' pot of them all by myself. But, the pintos turned out very tasty and the cornbread and taters were absolutley divine. Guess we have started our own little New Year's tradition.

So, this was day one of the push to get this place ready to sell, and it went very well. We are definitely ready to hit the floor running again in the morning for day two. Working as a team, the two of us can accomplish anything!

A special thanks to all of you who have sent words of encouragement and support my way! It means more than you'll ever know.

Wishing you much happiness in the New Year!!!


Capturing a Magical Light

After several gray days of frigid temperatures, along with a bit of ice and a flurry or two of snow, the sun shone brilliantly on New Year&...