Monday, October 31, 2011


What a wonderful evening with Family tonight!

Put together an impromptu dinner of simple "hamburger stew" late this afternoon.  Opted for store bought jalapeno cheese bread, corn muffins and thumbprint cookies to keep the stress levels down since this was kinda "last minute".  Grabbed a few extra pumpkins while I was at the store. Then Bonnie, Ben & Bethany, Sam, Mom and Daddy gathered at our house......and we had a terrific time!  

Pumpkin carving commences on the back porch

We had wonderful, mild weather for being out of doors
In comparison to last year, it seemed we had quite a few kids come to the door for treats.  We just about ran out of candy!!!  I had to bring out my secret stash of snack-size Heath bars for the last few kids.  (I guess that's probably a good thing....)

This is how our porch looked at the end of an evening of carving........

Kinda spooky, huh? 

Hope you've had a fun time with your loved ones this evening!

A big BOO to you!!!


Sunday, October 30, 2011

When To Start???

I was sitting here this morning, looking at the calender.....Thanksgiving, followed closely by December, is just around the corner.  I am trying to stay focused on the "holiday" right before us - Halloween.  But, my thoughts are already racing towards the next decorating bonanza.....

Our tree - 2010
 The dilemma for me always boils down to "when" to start the Christmas decorating!  Unfortunately or otherwise, I generally start putting out Christmas decorations out and decking the tree prior to Thanksgiving.  My twisted logic tells me that if I can have everything done prior to Thanksgiving, I will then be able to fully enjoy the four-day weekend without being in the throes of stringing lights and garland. 

Somehow, the special Joy that is the spirit of Thanksgiving seems to get overlooked.  Shouldn't we still have signs of Autumn and the abundant harvest adorning our home as we stop for the day with Family and simply give Thanks?  Instead, it has turned into a pre-Christmas escapade, with all eyes focused on the debut of this year's tree and tiny lights.  It's almost like we're doing Christmas twice....

And so I am contemplating how to proceed this year.  When to start the Christmas frenzy......

When do you start turning your thoughts towards Christmas???


Thursday, October 20, 2011

At the End of the Day.......

Such a busy, hectic day!!!  And I still have so much to do!!!  If you see a  crazy lady darting around with patches of her hair yanked out, it's probably me. 

I just realized, in all my rushing around, I have not even eaten today!  My tummy is reminding me of this by twisting itself into knots. 

Yet, I sit here at my computer....thoughts swirling and crashing around in my head, competing for that coveted spot at the front of the line. 

And....I breathe.  Slowly.  Deeply.  In and out....trying to calm my rapidly beating heart and still my mind....

For just a moment.  Of Peace.

God is blessing me, Friends.  Truly, He is!  My business is coming right along and the work of many weeks and months is coming together.  It's just all coming together at the same time!  And the pace is frenzied. 

A cool head is essential in the Real Estate business.  So many details to remember.  Lots of loose ends to tie up neatly and behind the scenes.  So easy for it to all unravel if the ball is dropped.  I realize that people's Dreams depend upon the quality of my service to them. 

And so I sit and try to compose myself....organize those wily, frantic thoughts into some semblance of order and priority. Perhaps this action - just stopping and committing these words to print - will help me to achieve the energy and calm I need to finish this day.

Lord, help me to be still and listen for your voice.  Guide me and bless me with your sweet spirit of calm.  Give me focus and multiply my efforts.  But, above all, Thank You for all that You have already done to bring me to this point.  Your grace sustains me.  It is enough.  

Hugs to you all.....


Monday, October 17, 2011

Comfort Food and Cooler Weather on the Way.....

I think today was probably Summer's "last hoorah" around here.  The temperature rose up near 90 degrees....but, change is definitely on the way.  It should really start to cool off tomorrow and be down around 40 by the time we get up on Wednesday morning.  Yippee!!!

We got some wonderful rain last weekend, so maybe that moisture combined with the "cold" will help bring about a bit of colorful Autumn foliage.....maybe.....

Oh, how I wish I could look out my front door and see a view like this......


Seriously, I would be in Autumn-maniac Heaven!!!

But, alas, I live in Central Texas and mesquite and mulberry trees just don't "turn" those beautiful colors.  They simply go from green to brown, with maybe a day or two of mustard thrown in for good measure. 

At any rate, in anticipation of the cooler weather headed our way, I got the ingredients together and had Eddie "dump" a meal in the crockpot this morning.  Chicken Taco Chili......I'm salivating just smelling it waft throughout the house since I arrived back from the office.  I found the recipe online and it's definitely "a keeper"!  (See the original post at

If you want to give it a try, here ya go: 

1 onion, chopped
1 16-oz. can black beans
1 16-oz. can kidney beans
1 8-oz. can tomato sauce
10 oz. package frozen corn kernels (I put a little more than this - we like the corn!)
2 14.5-oz. cans diced tomatoes w/chilis (Rotel - we like the spicy stuff)
1 packet taco seasoning (I use reduced sodium variety)
1 Tbsp. cumin
1 Tbsp. chili powder
24 oz. (3-4) boneless skinless chicken breasts
chili peppers, chopped (optional)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (topping)
Combine everything but the chicken and cilantro; stir it all up in the crockpot.  Place chicken breasts on top.  Cook on low for 10 hours or on high for 6 hours.  Half hour before serving, remove chicken and shred.  Return chicken to the crockpot and mix it all in; let simmer for last half hour.  Top with fresh cilantro.  
Also very tasty topped with a dollop of sour cream, some crushed Tostitos and grated cheese.  Friends, this is COMFORT FOOD at its best....and so super simple to make!!!  Doesn't it look yummy???
Warm hugs.....


Sunday, October 9, 2011

Ghosts of Autumns Past....

My love of "Everything Autumn" came naturally.  I do believe it was fostered by my parents when I was a child.  I have some very special memories that point the way to the beginning of my love affair with Fall.....

In particular, I can remember going for long drives out in the country when I was little.  On Sunday afternoons, my mom and dad would load us up in the car to head out southwest of town, into a little ridge rising out of the earth that is known as Steamboat Mountains.  (Now, I fully acknowledge that these are not really "mountains", more like little foothills.  But, they are a break from the flat lands where Abilene sits perched.)  And, so we would head out for Daddy to "blow the soot" out of the car (translation, give the motor a good run for it's money). 

In the Fall, when the leaves began to change, Mom would arm herself with a small hand saw and when we would get away from town and into the heavier foliage, she would have Daddy pull over to the side of the road and she would take her saw and cut off a few small, low-hanging branches from the oak trees.  These were her favorites ~ just as the leaves were beginning to turn a rusty red.  When we got back home, she would arrange artfully them in an old metal milk can that she had gotten at a local antique store.  She painted and antiqued the milk can a dull colonial red and decoupaged an eagle across the front.  (Did I mention that some of our furniture was the mid-century-popular "Early American"?)  Now, that was really a "Martha Stewart" thing to do before Martha was even a glimmer on the horizon! 

Oak leaves shimmering in the Indian Summer afternoon

(After Thanksgiving, we would head out again and my parents would cut boughs off cedar trees and lug them back into town, where Daddy would carefully wire them onto the wrought iron porch support and then weave our only strand of outdoor lights throughout the greenery for the holidays.  But, that's another story entirely....)

As for Halloween, well, it was a wonderful season at our house.  Oh, we didn't have a whole lot of decorations.  And we sure as heck didn't get to drag them out on the first day of October!  But, we did have paper decorations that Mom would take out a few days prior to October 31st.  One year, my Aunt Dorothy added substantially to our collection with some truly vintage paper decorations, and even some old-fashioned "noisemakers", that my cousins had enjoyed when they were younger.  Most everything came from the "five & dime" store, but we would tape the black and orange tissue paper garland and decorations up around the front porch, or in our front bedroom windows.  Remember these?  We used them year after year.....and I really wish I had them still!

Honeycombed paper pumpkins

A trip to the grocery store yielded a big pumpkin for carving.  Daddy would enlist our help to scoop the seeds and guts out of the pumpkin, but he usually did the carving.  Our only choices were "happy jack-o-lantern" or "scary jack-o-lantern", but he loved making them really snaggle-toothed!

Eddie's interpretation of "happy jack-o-lantern"

I distinctly remember going over to the TG&Y and getting new boxed costumes one year......

This version of the popular clown costume is from 1973.
The earlier costumes, circa mid-1960's, were simpler - only red, blue and yellow - no orange or green what-so-ever!
 They came complete with the little plastic mask, which was difficult to wear for any length of time without sweating your face off!  Mom got Jill and I the cheerful clown costumes ~ and both in a size big enough to wear over our regular clothes in case it was chilly.  For some reason, getting those store-made costume really stands out in my mind.  I must have been about 7 years old, maybe 6, but I still remember the shiny, cheap fabric in yellow, red and blue.  Looking back, we must have looked like miniature Bozo's, but we were so proud! 
One year, about 1970, we hosted a Halloween party in our backyard and invited friends!  Mom cut little pumpkin invitations out of orange construction paper and Daddy did the printing.  We passed them out to our friends at church and school.  Before dark on Halloween, everyone came, in costume, to the back yard, the clothesline festooned with orange and black crepe paper and hanging decorations.  We bobbed for apples and had popcorn balls. 

Bobbing for apples!

We had 3-legged races; we dropped clothespins in bottles; we raced with dry pinto beans balanced on butter knives; and we even had relay races where we had to bust balloons by sitting on them.  I will never forget that party ~ as long as I live.  It didn't really cost any money; the food, decorations and games were very simple.  But, it was so much fun!  It was all over when darkness fell and everyone's parents picked them up and took them home for trick-or-treating in their neighborhood.

Gosh, the memories just pile up and press me to bring them forward ~ take them out and reflect on them.  And, obviously, many of them revolve around this time of the year.  That is probably why Autumn is just about my favorite season. 

Do your memories come flooding back this time of year?  Is it the time of year when all the senses seem to kick in and contribute to a sense of nostalgia when you get a whiff of a candle burning the inside of the pumpkin, or feel the crisp chill of an Autumn evening, or hear the dry rustle of tissue paper decorations?  What brings it all back for you???

Feeling Fabulously Fall-ish....


Monday, October 3, 2011

Shifting Gears....

I hit the weekend at a dead run!  My "to do" list was a couple of miles long, so I got an early start on Friday afternoon and just didn't slow down....

After getting up early to do my errands and shopping on Saturday morning, I progressed to house cleaning....and lots of it!  In between trips out to move the sprinkler in the front yard (yes, it was on my list!) I vacuumed, dusted, changed sheets, picked up, put away, moved loads of laundry from the washer to the dryer....I'm exhausted just remembering. 

Then, I unloaded the bins of Fall decor, which I had drug out of the storage shed earlier.  Into the evening I worked, placing this pumpkin here, that garland there.  And I finally moved on to the front porch.....

It did not get the royal treatment that it did last year, sorry to say.  There is a much simpler, more selective "look" going on out there.  But, the results were fine....and I was just too pooped to take out the camera and begin to record it all. 

Yesterday morning, I resumed my tackling of the list.  Car washed, vacuumed, polished....all done.  Continue on the laundry.  Can someone please explain to me how two people generate so much laundry?!?!? 

I was making great headway on the list of projects when I just ran out of steam.  My body started aching, the right side of my face was throbbing.  A sinus headache got the better of me, so I switched gears and curled up on the bed with a book.....only to doze off after a few pages. 

After that little siesta, I just couldn't get my ooooomph back.  My body just wouldn't cooperate.  It was trying to tell me something.....screaming at me, "SLOW DOWN!!!" 

This morning, I awoke feeling less than stellar.  I took the dogs out in the early morning darkness, then crawled back between those soft, clean sheets and drifted in and out of sleep.  While Eddie readied himself for work, I dozed.  The dogs returned to their spot beside the bed after he left for work and dozed with me. 

Sometimes, I wonder why I push myself so hard.  I have always had a real struggle with just being still and giving my body, and mind, some much needed rest.  Down time?  It's vastly underrated!  And, it's a necessity.  And, so today is down time for me......

The list will still be there tomorrow. 

Resting up....


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