Tuesday, November 29

:: How Many People Does It Take to Fry a Turkey? ::

So...how many people DOES it take to fry a turkey?
In our family it takes a village....specifically 8 adults and 1 child. All giving their various opinions and tips at once. I'm pretty sure Cannon anticipated a nice, quiet Thanksgiving day by the turkey fryer. But, it turns out that a) we didn't have enough oil (thankfully E came to the rescue and rushed to the store to by more) b) according to CC said oil cost too much and c) our thermometer was about 100 degrees off, all resulting in a dream for him that was never realized.
It did however make for a pretty fun activity on Thanksgiving day at the River. I don't remember laughing that much in a long time. Aunt Linda was busy showing us pictures on her iphone of what could happen if we filled the oil too high (we're talking a seriously big grease fire). Tappy and Glorio were telling us the thermometer was wrong and we were just soaking the turkey in oil (as it turns out-they were right). The thermometer was 100 degrees off.
When the turkey finally came out of the fryer it seemed almost a miracle that it was cooked at all. It was worth all the fuss though - it was 18 pounds of deliciousness. I think we've started a new family turkey frying tradition.
After all, it wouldn't be Thanksgiving without a turkey debacle a la Christmas Vacation.
And we enjoyed a beautiful afternoon by the water, just hanging out by the campfire and on the Kubota (we are in Alabama after all).
I hope you had a fun Thanksgiving too!
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Tuesday, November 22

:: A Crafty Christmas ::

Thanksgiving seems to be skipped over as the Christmas season starts earlier and earlier every year. The pilgrims don't ever seem to have a chance! Poor guys. And here I am contributing to the problem by blogging about Christmas already. But I can't help myself. It's all Pinterest's fault. So many cute ideas...so little time. First up, Painted Salt Dough Ornaments!
You will need:
-1 c Flour
-1/2 c Salt
-1/2 c water
Pour all ingredients in a bowl.
Mix it up.
Roll it out.
Use your favorite cookie cutters to cut out shapes.
Use a straw to create holes in the tops for the ornament ribbon. Then place in the oven and bake low and slow at 2oo degrees for 2 hours or more until hardened.
The next day Parrish went to work painting each ornament for one of his preschool classmates.
He lovingly picked a certain shape and color for each person and had me write their name on the front in paint pen after his basecoat was dry.

I painted a few of the smaller circles with gift tag messages to tie to the tops of Christmas packages.
On the back I wrote the name of their class "Energetic Elephants" and the year.

I wrapped each ornament in a cellophane Christmas gift bag filled with red and green m&m's. Sweet P will hand these out to his school friends next month.
Here is a picture of my Christmas mantle so far (please don't tell anyone I am doing this so early-it's kind of embarassing-I have scoffed at people like me in year's past and here I am joining in!) Anyway, I made the metallic Christmas trees pictured on the mantle from old magazines! (I learned this from a Christmas with Southern Living book I was flipping through at Glorio's last year)

Here's how you do it. First, gather old magazine in various sizes (I used Southern Living and Readers Digest).

Break the spine of the magazine and turn to page 1. Fold the page from the top right hand corner to the middle (as seen above).

Then take the bottom right hand corner and fold it to the middle again.

Next, turn the bottom "tail" up so it is even with the remaining pages of the magazine. Repeat this process for every page (yes, this can get a little tedious - I suggest doing it in front of a favorite show so you don't give up and throw the magazine out the window) until you have a tree like this:

I thought the colors of these magazine trees were cool as-is for the right decor, but I decided to spray paint mine with metallic spray paint for a glamorous twist. In a particularly girly moment I even dusted some glitter on top.

The disclaimer here is that these trees will most likely only survive one Christmas. I don't see them making it un-crushed in a tupperware bin until next year, but it was a fun project nonetheless. Now I just need to add some fresh greenery and our stockings.
In a final burst of crafty inspiration I fashioned these Christmas trees on our front porch out of tomato cages from Walmart. You're probably asking yourself how on earth I came up with the idea to turn tomato cages into Christmas trees and the answer is, I have no idea. Except that I had been looking online at grapevine cone-shaped trees for days. I wanted to wrap the pine garland around them, but they are pretty pricey and I didn't want to spend that much. Then Parrish and I walked into the garden center at Walmart and were greeted with stacks of tomato cages perfectly shaped like cones, the right height, and at $2 verses $80 per tree, they fit the pocketbook a little better than the grapevine version.
I took them home, added a coat of red spray paint, perched them on top of my stone planters, wrapped and wired the garland on top and finished them with a burlap "bow" at the top. Not bad for about $8 worth of materials!

What Christmas crafts do you do with your kids/family/friends? I love hearing new ideas and being inspired by other people's creativity, so do tell!!

Oh yeah, and Happy Thanksgiving!

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Thursday, November 17

:: How Sweet, Indeed! ::

I have been on a roll this week-cooking three nights in a row something other than boring spaghetti or baked chicken. I wish I had had the forethought to snap some pictures as I went along because these recipes were not only delicious, but soooo mouth-wateringly (is that a word?) pretty.

My friend Terri turned me onto a new food blog and she wasn't kidding when she said I'd be on it for hours drooling and then inspired to cook, cook, cook.

Anyway, wanted to pass along this link to How Sweet Eats and the recipes I've tried this week that I would highly (HIGHLY) recommend, including:

-BBQ Chicken Burgers (I substituted Mr. P's white BBQ sauce instead of traditional red sauce, used bad-for-the-waistline but oh-so-good for your taste buds Publix french hamburger buns, havarti cheese on top instead of gouda and peppery arugula instead of romaine)

Terri made us a pot of the How Sweet Eats Shrimp and Corn Chowder and it was mouth-watering, too.

Just wanted to pass that along. If your bored with you're weeknight cooking like I was, check it out! I promise you'll be inspired.

Parrish and I have been busy working on a few Christmas crafts that I'll post as soon as I manage to load the pictures to my computer!

Wednesday, November 9

:: It's Not All Bad ::

We survived the one-year mark and as expected, the anticipation of the day was worse than the day itself. At home we planted some beautiful sweet olive bushes from Aunt Christy in memory of our sweet Olivia and some beautiful pink trailing snap dragons at the cemetery. Thank you to all of you for your visits, notes, food, cards, and special gifts - they helped make a really awful day a little brighter.

I've started this week with a renewed sense of hope. Part of it is relief over getting through November 6th, but because we missed her the same that day as we do on all others in truth, it was just like any other day for us. But I guess the day looming ahead of us was hard, so I'm glad to have it in the rearview mirror for a while.

This brighter outlook has made me realize that I may not be painting the entire picture of our life here on my blog. You see, I've discovered that I tend to write most often when I am sad and anguished. I have always loved to write, and doing so is cathartic when I am feeling down.

I want you all to know that it's not all bad. There are still moments of great happiness and joy in our day-to-day lives.

Parrish cracks us up at least 10 times a day with his witty remarks and out-loud thinking. Example-he and his friend were playing at our house the other afternoon and decided to have a pretend wedding and the convo went something like this:

P: Kaden, Do you want to be the girl?
K: No.
P: Well, do you want to be the boss?
K: Yes.
P: Well then, you have to be the girl.


Other "good" things:

-Cannon loves me so well...he is supportive and loving, trusting and thoughtful. We have walked through this fire together and our love and respect for each other has only grown.
-Family who would move mountains for us and hurt with us.
-Friends who distract us when we need distracting, make us laugh when we need laughter, or just listen when we need to vent.
-Complete strangers who have walked similar paths of loosing children who have reached out to us in such specialways
-Olivia's light shining bright throughout this world.

Every day there are highs and there are lows. Sometimes it's minute to minute, sometimes day to day, and sometimes week to week, but we give ourselves permission for that. The main thing I want you to know is that we still have joy. We are still blessed. We are down, we long for Olivia, but we are not out. We still have hope for our future. We are not Job, although at times it has seemed like it. As we move toward Thanksgiving we are counting our losses, yes. But we are also counting our blessings.

I think it is sometimes hard for people to imagine how we still "live our life." I know I've had similar thoughts about others who have suffered great losses. But really, what choice do we have? We have to live - the choice lies in HOW we live. Whether we live crushed and bitter or we live in hope, love, and complete trust that "he is before all things, and in him all things hold together." Colossians 1:17 We know nothing good can come of bitterness taking root, so we choose to live the latter.

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
Hebrews 11:1