Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Blessed Beyond Measure: Farewell, My Good and Faithful Friend...

Blessed Beyond Measure: Farewell, My Good and Faithful Friend...: Cady Jo (1999-2011) Her leaving my life came suddenly. Fine one morning and terribly not herself the next. Running around like the hyper dog...

Farewell, My Good and Faithful Friend...

Cady Jo (1999-2011)
Her leaving my life came suddenly. Fine one morning and terribly not herself the next. Running around like the hyper dog she was one day, and not running at all the next. Such huge changes in such a short span of time. Leaving her in good hands, but knowing there was only maybe a 50/50 chance of her making it. In the end, there would have needed to have been a decision to put her down because of all the tumors they found in her belly, but God knew I would have struggled to make that decision and made it easier on me by just having her stop breathing.

There was no way to know - no indications - that she would be with me one day and gone the next.

I miss her....terribly.
I remember bringing her home 12 years ago as a pup from the Hall County Humane Society. She and her sister were both there, but Cady picked me out and I brought her home. I had just lost my dog of 5 years, Timber, the week or so before, and loved him so much that there was an empty void and very quiet spot in my home. Cady helped me get over that hurdle.

Over the years, she brought me great joy and also moments of great frustration. Those frustrations centered mainly around when she would get loose and run like the wind through the field next to the house, on her way to the cul-de-sac to the south of us, searching out for other doggie playmates. I don't recall how many times I would hop in the car, drive the short distance, and find her. And then tempt her with the open car door and the offer of "going for a ride".

And she loved to ride in the car! She knew when I got a certain smiley leash out, that we were going somewhere! And she got excited! One of her favorite spots was the local dog park about 2 miles from where we lived in Gainesville (GA). She loved interacting with the other dogs and checking things out. Me, I loved letting her off leash and getting to see her run. It was a thing of beauty to me!

She was my companion on road trips back and forth between GA and PA. Always on the lookout, perched on the console, looking to see where we were headed! Our last long trip was 2 years ago, when I moved from GA back home to PA. She was such a trooper, riding in the U-Haul truck...which was a big jump up for her...I had to give her a boost to get in! Not like riding in the car!

(The guy in green is my former boss and good friend, Scott Borg - His wife, Marcia, took the pics. She is one of my closest friends!)

What do you say about a faithful companion, a wonderful pet who offered unconditional love, who loved to have her belly rubbed, her chin scratched, and would let you know when she wasn't done with you loving on her? She was like a kid to me and her passing has been hard at times to deal with. I haven't yet gone through any of her things and am waiting for a day when I feel strong to do that. She was my dog, my pet, and also, my companion.

I know, because of my experiences with her, I will get another dog one day. But there will never be another Cady. She is/was one of a kind. And isn't that really how God sees us, too? As genuine, one-of-a-kind creations that He loves unconditionally? I'm grateful to Him for giving her to me and allowing me to be her "mama" for 12 years. I have, indeed, been blessed beyond measure to have had her in my life.

Well done, good and faithful dog....well done!

Monday, August 29, 2011

End of August Ramblings, Recipes and Roadtrips

Ok, so I know I didn't post any pics with yesterday's blog of what I've been up to around the   house. So this one is to make up for that!

I've kept busy with work (surprised? No??) and have been working on a few projects as well as taking a few little short roadtrips around the area. So that's whatcha gonna get today....LOL...don't you love that slang?

First up.....I'm making progress on the Christmas present quilt wall hanging!!!! YEA!!!! It's not done yet, but getting closer!!!!
It's taken a few months to decide what I wanted to back it with and I finally settle on red that matches the thread in the embroidery. I used a fusible batting (you use an iron to mesh the front and back layers together) in between, pinned it together, and sewed with my machine around the squares.

The next step in the process has been to pin the edges to create a border.....I finally got that done Saturday morning!
The next step is going to be creating the tabs to go along the top for a rod  to go thru so it can be hung. Not sure when that will happen exactly, but once those are done, I can then proceed to the final stitching around the edges of the quilt. Oh, see that little funny thing in the lower right hand corner? That's where I put my initials and the years (yes, years!) it was done. This is a project that has taken me almost (but not quite!) two years to complete! It also lets me know which part is top and bottom! ☺

Cooking......hmmmm....let's see now....I've made a few new recipes! First up, Chocolate Cobbler!
This was actually super easy to make, but I must admit when I first was putting the ingredients together in the baking dish....I had my doubts about how it was going to turn out....let me show you what that looked like!
Yeah, I had my doubts about how that was gonna ever cook up into something edible! But it did! It reminded me of a warm pudding cake in the end and was tasty both warm and cold! Here's the recipe!

Chocolate Cobbler

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a 9x13 glass baking dish, melt two sticks of butter in the oven.

2. Meanwhile, in a bowl, mix together:
1 1/4 c sugar
1 1/2 c self rising flour
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 c milk

3. Once the butter is melted, pour the batter over the butter. DO NOT STIR!

4. In a separate bowl, mix:
1 c sugar
6 Tbsp cocoa powder

5. Sprinkle on top of the batter. DO NOT STIR!

6. Pour 2 c boiling water
on top of that (agan, DON'T STIR!).

7. Bake for 30-45 minutes until you have a nice golden brown crust. Serve warm. Great with ice cream.

*My tips*: If you find you don't have any self rising flour, you can do what I did and use the following in place of the self-rising flour:
1 1/2 c flour
3/4 tsp salt
2 1/4 tsp baking powder

I plan on making this one again, but the next time, I think I will use less butter as I felt it was a little greasy for my taste. But it was very good!!!
Yesterday morning, I was up early and  cooking by 5:30 am! My cooking is now done for a couple of days, but I did try a new recipe or two! First up, I relied on Betty Crocker (thanks, Betty!) and made double chocolate bars from a couple of her cookie mixes. Super easy and simple and tasty! Here's the finished product:
*BTW*, I bought the mixes on clearance at Walmart for just $.75 each....half price!

Next up: What was in my slow cooker yesterday! (Recipe will follow!)
Slow Cooker Ground Beef Barbecue

1. Place 1 1/2 lbs lean ground beef (I used a 1 lb pkg) in a large skillet over medium heat and cook until brown, breaking up meat as it cooks, about 15 minutes. Drain excess grease.

2. Place cooked meat,
1/2 large onion, chopped (I love onion, so I used a whole one!)
1 clove garlic, minced (or 1/2 tsp already minced garlic)
2 1/2 stalks celery, finely chopped
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 1/2 tsp cider vinegar ( I didn't have any cider vinegar, so substituted (after online research) 1 tsp of white vinegar)
1 Tbsp prepared mustard
2 Tbsp firmly packed brown sugar
1 3/4 c ketchup
into slow cooker and stir to combine.

3. Set the cooker on Low, and cook for 6 to 8 hours.

Can I just say.....it smelled heavenly out in my kitchen yesterday morning?  I think this one is also a winner. I can use it just like sloppy joes...or they even suggest you can use it as a hot dog topping! Yum!!

I love finding new recipes and a couple of sites that I recommend are http://www.allrecipes.com/ and http://www.justapinch.com/. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
One of the things I really like about the allrecipes.com site is that you can, if needed, adapt the recipes. For instance, the original recipe for the slow cooker recipe above served 20. That, for me, was too much! So instead, I put in for 10 servings and got the recipe you see above. There are numerous internet cooking/recipe sites out there and that just means more ways to be creative with cooking in the kitchen! My idea of a great time! ☺ And cookbooks….need I say more?!

Travel...I made a trip over to the Knox area earlier this week after having a place called Sharp Shopper recommended to me. It was a beautiful day out, I had the day off, and was in the mood for a drive! (I just remembered...this was the day of the East Coast earthquake that I didn't feel!)
This place was cooooooooooool!!!!! They don't have the same items in all the time, but what they do have, they have really good prices on! It's a big building, clean interior (clean bathrooms, too!), friendly staff.....and some really good bargains. You have to check the expiration dates on things, but they have everything from canned goods to paper goods, to candy, to frozen things, veggies, deli meats.....a nice selection. And easy to find!!!! Not far off of the Knox exit on Interstate 80 - it's gonna be a place I go back to again!

On my way back, I stopped off at Trader Horn in Clarion, which, in my opinion, is another interesting store. (Trader Horn is also where I picked up the embroidery project from earlier in the blog!)
What a beautiful day it was....gotta love that blue sky!
I loved the ivy growing on the silo across the road from Trader Horn. It reminded me a little bit (only a little bit!) of the kudzu that had grown around my home in Georgia! So, yeah, just had to take a picture of it!

While I was out and about, I had fun playing around with the camera taking pictures of me....LOL...I was hoping to come up with a new profile pic for Facebook. Here's some of what I got!

While at Trader Horn, I picked up a couple of $1 decorations for fall to hang out on my porch!
I already had the welcome hanging….I just added the “I Love
Fall” deco to add some fall color that is gonna come sooner than we know! I like how it looks!
The other little hanging is in honor of my niece and her hubby and all those who have/do serve us. Becky and her hubby Frank are both in the Army and Frank is now overseas while Becky is at Fort Hood in Texas, serving and raising their daughter, Liliahna.

Here's what they look like together:

Well, that’s about it for today. I need to finish some other tasks before I get some rest before my shift tonight. The internet was acting weird yesterday afternoon/evening, even though the router shows I have connection, Internet Explorer was a different story! I'm happy I'll be able to post and share these with you today!
Be blessed beyond measure, stay safe, and may the peace of God rule your heart and mind!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

August, Sweet August...and...Turning 55....and....No Regrets!

I ♥love♥ the month of August....it's the month I was born! Yeah, a little prejudiced about the eigth month of the year. Just a little! My birthday falls almost smack-dab in the middle of it and, this year, I turned 55. Half a century plus five. Wow, there are days I feel at least that old (and then some!) and others, in my mind, I'm still back in my 20's and 30's!

I celebrated by doing a little shopping and then being treated by my friend Pam to dinner at a local Chinese restaurant, China Wok. She was such a trooper as she tried my favorite Chinese dishes....Mongolian Beef and Hot and Sour Soup! Mongolian beef brings back many happy memories of time with friends in GA when we would go to the local Sun Garden restaurant. Good food and good friends and good conversation....all great things!♥

 Instead of cake, I opted to have cheesecake (and chocolate cheesecake, to boot!) for my birthday. I'd thought about rhubarb pie, but wasn't able to find any rhubarb, so.....cheesecake, it was!  Pam and I sat on my living room floor and talked and laughed and played with Cady. Simple things often have a way of making one smile and good times with a great friend is one of those life pleasures I truly treasure and enjoy! It was a great day....and I had a ton of Facebook birthday wishes that just made my day!♥

I've been thinking lately about "if-I-had-known-then-what-I-know-now", what would have I done differently? What I had no way of knowing then is that I would develop the interests and skills I have now. If I had, I would have taken business classes, gone to business school and then to culinary school, or at least taken cooking classes. But that's not how life went. But....ya know what? No regrets.

I believe God orchestrates our lives, has full control over everything but allows us to make decisions along the way that will shape who we become. I'd have loved to have married, been a wife and mom, raised at least half a dozen kids. Instead, I'm single (and OK with it!) an aunt to 14, a great aunt to 3, and have numerous "children" around the world that I've had the awesome privilege of playing an important role in their lives. That singleness allowed me to move to GA for ten years, allowed me to travel to other countries and witness God at work. No regrets.

Over the 55 years, I have found that I can be alone but not lonely. And yet while I am alone, I'm not truly alone as God is with me. I am in a season right now where I really don't know what God is up to and it's probably just as well I don't have a clue. I'm trusting that He has a reason and a purpose in where I am, what I'm doing and if I hold on tight to His hand, He will walk me through everything that comes my way. No regrets!

My friend Pam and I were sharing with each other yesterday over the phone, encouraging one another with the Word of God and it was a great time of fellowship.  I am especially encouraged, even today, by parts of Philippians 4:

 4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

 8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

 10 I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

 19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

I cling to His Word, trusting He has brought me this far and He will continue to walk with me as I seek to follow after Him! I pray this encourages your heart today as much as it has mine! May you be blessed beyond measure....now and always!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Say, Hey, Good Lookin'....Whatcha Got Cookin'?

I'm in the midst of three days off and the weather outside is kind of gray and damp and I love it! The grass in the yard is brown in spots and the rain is much needed to perk them back to their normal state of green! Altho....I have noticed.....some of the *weeds* have not suffered at all from the lack of rain and I may need to get the weedeater out soon! Crazy, but true!

Today, I'm just going to share about what I came up with in my kitchen for dinner. It started off with my thinking about what needed to be used up from my freezer and what I could prepare from those items. Here's what I came up with!

There were some frozen loaves of bread as well as cinnamon rolls in the freezer, so I put them out to thaw and raise early this morning. Today hasn't been too hot, so I was able to bake them this afternoon....and so, just to make your mouth water.....

Here's the end product for the bread....
and the rolls!!!!

While I was at it, I also made ravioli today, starting with a meat sauce! It turned out great! I took a pound of ground beef and cooked it up.....
Gotta love my crockpot and food processor!!!!!
 I added to the beef mixture some finely processed celery, onion, and carrots (gotta get those veggies in there somehow!)...and added a nice zesty spaghetti sauce and slow cooked that for several hours.

As the bread and rolls were in the oven baking, I cooked up the ravioli and added it to the sauce mixture. Here's the final result (it's yummy!!!!!):

And for desert - I couldn't decide between chocolate mousse and fruit salad, so I made both. LOL, that is, after discovering that I had no white milk in the house! So I used chocolate milk instead! (I don't go through a lot of white milk, so I only buy a half gallon at a time....and even then, I have a hard time using it up....methinks I may need to find some recipes that call for milk more often!).

Here are the results for dessert!
Today, this was just a simple mix of mandarin oranges, pears, peaches and pineapple chunks in their own juices. Love fruit!

The chocolate mousse has got a crumbled chocolate cookie topping!

There ya go....what was goin' on in my kitchen today!

May you be blessed beyond measure....always!!!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Road Less Traveled

I've been keeping busy with work lately as they've scheduled me for more hours than usual. I'm not complaining, though, as that little "extra" income always comes in handy! Keeping busy, though, means I haven't had a chance to blog for a wee bit!

Last Friday, I attended a Relay for Life fundraiser put on by good friends, The Donahue clan, aka "Poppy's Angels". I've know the family for hmmmm....a long time.....since *I* was a teenager! LONG time ago! LOL! Anyways, one of the daughters, Colleen, has cut my hair in the past (OK, way in the past, but I'm not going back that far!) and had offered to cut my hair since my "regular" person, Christy, retired the beginning of July. I said yes, of course, as finding someone to cut your hair that you trust is not always an easy thing to do! We women can be picky about our hair, ya know! And who cuts it and how!

Here's the before picture:
And now, the after:
It's shorter, cooler, and easier to style! LOL...Colleen had it all styled up great for me and I went home and went to sleep before work. Needless to say, it did NOT look like this when I woke up! I'm still working on making it look like she did, but am happy with the results, even if I don't make it all stylish! Thank you, Colleen! Great job and a very worthy cause to benefit the American Cancer Society and in memory of your poppy,  Mr. Dave!

Sunday, on my way home from work, I thought of a few lines from an old poem by Robert Frost:
The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that, the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

It was the last few lines that I actually was thinking about as I went on a round about way on my drive home.Rather than take my usual route home, I went, instead, for a drive along some back roads. Something different to do and something for a change of pace! Changing things up sometimes can be a good thing and rewarding! To me, it was like going on a mini-vacation or a mini-road trip! FUN!!!
 I was in search of....OK, I admit it....flowers! Black-eyed Susans, to be exact! AND I found them and some others, so indulge me as I share with you my latest finds! (OK, I love taking pictures!)

Even the trees and underbrush are beautiful....at least in the eyes of this beholder!

The picture taking didn't stop when I pulled into the driveway. I thought of how my porch sometimes is like a little retreat area for me on those cooler mornings. A great place to sit and read and think while the birds are still singing their morning songs and the dew is still on the grass and life hasn't quite started to make it's noises that distract from the peace and quiet. So the next pictures are from my front porch!
A quiet place to sit a spell
Some of the things I'm reading and my journal
Another view of my Adirondak rocker (a birthday gift to myself about 3 years ago....My friend Marcia and I spent a wonderful day together when I lived in GA searching for an Adirondak chair for my home - we found this one at a Cracker Barrel restaurant!)
I don't have a green thumb, but have managed to keep these two flowering plants alive so far this summer!
See? Still green! Not dead yet!!!!
Ah, my mowing shoes.....they've seen alot of grass and mud....but are still able to do the job! And live outside the front door, where all good mowing shoes should stay!

And last, but not least, my companion on the porch, who always wants to "go out"! Whether it's to go "potty", for a walk, or just to lay out on the porch...she's always ready to "go!"
Cady has that grin already, knowing that just behind that door are new smells to sniff and places to explore that, oddly, she explored the last time she went out! But, hey, she's happy, not to mention great company on a cool morning on the front porch!

Well, that's it for today! Just sharing some of my pics and what I've been up to! The weather is to get very warm the later part of this week, although, to be honest, it's already been too hot for me! But God is still watching over me, caring for me, and I thank Him for the blessings He gives!

Well, I've rambled on enough for one day and will take my leave. The coolness of that front porch is calling me to come out and visit before the heat of the day warms things up. And I know a certain canine companion who would love to joing me! May you have a day that blesses you beyond measure!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Pics of Projects in Process

Life keeps you hopping at times, doesn't it? Thought it was time to sit down and write again, so here I am, and with pictures to share as well.

Last week, I decided to wash the tablecloth from the kitchen/dining area table. What to put in it's place? Hmmmm....I had an inspiration! Why not use one of my throws for the top of the table that matches the colors in my kitchen?! So, that's what I did!
The one in the picture was a Christmas gift from my cousin Barb a number of years ago. I love the colors and what's on the throw. And I loved the idea of using something I already had!

Have been on the search for more natural beauties in my neighborhood.....Look what I've found!
Gotta admit.....I was so excited to come across these sweet peas!!!!
Yesterday's treasure on the way home!

Took a trip to DuBois yesterday to visit the newly expanded JoAnn's Fabrics in DuBois. I enjoy going to craft stores like Hobby Lobby (my fave!) and Michael's and thought that a short trip to DuBois to check out JoAnn's would be a great way to spend some time on one of my two days off this week. I found some good buys and some ideas!
50 cents apiece! For placemats!
I have some ideas of what I want to do with these....a future project, for sure!
Maybe using some of these pretty ribbons on the placemats....or in making cards...or wall hangings?
Christmas is coming! It has become a tradition for me to make an ornament for each of my nephieces (nephews and nieces) and their spouses and my great-nephieces at Christmas. I saw these yesterday.....I have some ideas....what kind of ideas crop up in your mind? LOL...I will need to start these soon as I have a LOT of them to make! With tender loving care, I might add!

I was so delighted to hear the rain early this morning, a very gentle rain. I sat out on my enclosed porch for several hours and finally finished embroidering a wall hanging I started earlier last year. Here's the finished embroidery project:
I bought the batting for this yesterday and have an idea of how I want to back it. Once I have all the materials, I plan to machine quilt it and turn it into a wall hanging. Someone in my family will be getting the finished project for Christmas. I'm so much closer to being done, now that the embroidery is done! ☺

Another project in the works for my own home:
This will eventually become a wall hanging....it's just in the planning stages right now. Buttons and a placemat...not sure where my imagination will take me with this one!!

Last picture of the day is of Cady.....sleeping the morning away on the end of my bed. Never knew I had the camera in my hands or she would have jumped off the bed!
Peaceful, isn't she?

Speaking of sleep.....I will close and post this so that I can go get some rest. I've got a 5 day stretch this week, so getting some shut eye before that late night shift is important!

Hope you enjoyed the pics and seeing some of what I've been up to!

May your day be full of peace and may you always be blessed beyond measure!