yogijen

Blog about my thoughts, feelings, interests and my life

Spelling Bee Champ in the House!!

Only two boys left…one was mine. Here we are all over again. I felt my heart rate escalating, my breath quickening and my nerves going crazy. What’s happening, you ask? Why the 3rd grade spelling bee!  To understand this post I must fill you in on its history. Just last year my son was in the same county-wide (district) spelling bee (but for 2nd grade)…it was down to him and another kid, Mason. C missed a word and Mason finished in first by spelling his two words correctly eliminating C from the competition. C walked away the 2nd place winner and as parents, we were elated, thrilled, proud and so excited for C.

But like I said, here we were all over again…except this time it was down to C and Matthew. I was rocking my knees franticly as I remembered the year before. It was happening all over again. The other kid, Matthew, was an awesome speller just whipping out those letters to every word like he was the one that actually came up with the spelling for them. I was so nervous and excited, but C was calm and cool. I remember being so impressed by his ability to stay calm under the pressure. He would look at me and smile as his eyebrows lifted. All I could do was smile back and give him a confident, reassuring look.

What was that? Matthew missed a word? My first thought was poor Matthew. I would not even be able to think of words, or letters for that matter, under all that pressure. While I take a deep breath C stands up, takes a second or two, and starts spilling out…”K – I – N – S – M – A – N.” Shew!!!!!!! He spelled Matthew’s word correctly. But to win, he had to spell another word. The bee facilitator gave out his (hopefully) final word. Already standing, Colin waits, thinks and then delivers the following letters…”L – A – N – C – E”.

He did it!!! He won the 3rd grade district (county-wide) spelling bee!!! He was so happy and excited! I was very, very proud of him! Good job, C! Matthew was an excellent speller…all the kids were. After all, they are leaders in their own classes, at their school and in their county.

We were so proud of C for his hard work! People are still coming up to him asking him if he was the kid in the newspaper who won the spelling bee. He delivers a grin calm and cool.

C with his Dad after winning 3rd grade county spelling bee.

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2011 in Review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,300 times in 2011. If it were a cable car, it would take about 38 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Turkey (not Georgia) on my mind…

Southern Deep Fried Turkey

Waking up with turkey on your mind and realizing it is only November 3rd makes for a very long couple of weeks. Only 21 more days until Thanksgiving. I LOVE this holiday! I start my cooking the night before Thanksgiving as soon as I get home from work. What is the first thing I cook? Red Velvet Cake. I dedicate Wednesday night to baking only. I also prepare the homemade frosting (cooked on top of the stove) and then place it in the fridge until morning when I am ready to ice the cake. Thursday morning, I prepare my broccoli casserole, pasta salad (just for Granny) and anything else I might have time to cook. While I am cooking, T and the kids are watching Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Around noon we head over to my grandmother’s house for Thanksgiving dinner. My brother, Chris, is the best at deep-frying the turkeys. Yep, that is what I said…deep-fried turkey!! It is a real southern treat. I have relatives traveling in from New Jersey and North Carolina that I know will fall in love with Chris’ fried turkeys. I am looking forward to spending time with the relatives and eating Chris’ delicious turkey.

We spend the entire day at my grandmother’s house eating, watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, NFL football, eating again, looking through all the Black Friday ads from the newspaper in order to plan our Black Friday shopping trips, playing 6-man Rook, eating yet again, and vising with family memebers. I look forward to this holiday because I love being with my family for the entire day…we can stay inside, take off our shoes, eat all day, laugh, play cards and just have a great time together.  My kids enjoy this day with their cousins the way I enjoyed it as a kid. Makes me smile.

Granny’s Thanksgiving Day Menu:

2 Deep Fried Turkey Birds

Mashed Potatoes

Green Beans

Glazed Carrots

Fresh Corn

Sweet Potatoes

Broccoli Casserole

Mom’s Dumplings

Old-Fashioned Stuffing

Noodles

Pasta Salad

Deviled Eggs

Vegetable and Fruit Tray with Dip

Granny Rolls (just your regular Brown ‘n Serve rolls – my cousins from NJ named them)

Desserts:

Red Velvet Cake

Pumpkin Pie

Southern Pecan Pie

Snicker’s Cheesecake

Rice Krispy Cookies

If you are preparing your first Thanksgiving meal for your family, you might want to check out some of these helpful blogs/websites:

* Annie’s Eats cooking blog

* Pottery Barn Party Planner

* Williams-Sonoma

Now I have really done it, turkey isn’t the only thing on my mind…Granny’s stuffing covered in noodles, Kim’s carrots, Mom’s dumplings and so on. Mmmmm….the countdown is on…21 more days. Happy Turkey Day, Y’All!

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Finally, a chandelier for the dining room…

Illuminating our house is not an especially quick, easy task…I am picky, very, very picky when it comes to major (or at least what I consider to be major) purchases. I consider a new chandelier in the dining room to be a major purchase since it does require one to spend hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars. Even though I did find the perfect chandelier (only $1,800.00) while visiting the mountains in Tennessee, I had to look elsewhere for one I could afford. Luckily, I was able to purchase a chandelier from Pottery Barn for $233.00 on sale. I know I will be very satisfied with my new chandelier as I am always pleased with most anything from Pottery Barn. Plus, they have excellent customer service!

Dining Room Chandelier from PB

We currently have three other vintage chandeliers in our home now, so I was really wanting to stay close to the style of those fixtures. Over our kitchen table is a crystal pendant along with two birdcage chandeliers in the entryway and hall bathroom. For years I have been searching for a chandelier for our dining room, but could never find one I liked. And I REALLY liked the $1.800.00 crystal chandelier in Tennessee, but that is way out of my price range. It was beautiful!

 
However, I can be pretty patient when I am looking for that one and only, perfect item; the item I just can’t pass up or walk away from and end up relentlessly saving my dance/yoga money to buy.
 
A friend on Facebook suggested I look once again at Pottery Barn’s chandelier collections…she had bought one and loved hers. So I decided I would take another look at PB and very glad I did. This is the chandelier that caught my eye and immediately I knew I could see this hanging over my black, custom built (by my cousin, Jay) dining room table. My dining room is one of my favorite rooms during the Christmas holiday so I am crazy excited to get this chandelier in its place.
 
Now I can cross off “Find a Dining Room Chandelier” off my long, long house list!! Finally!
 
 
 
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Game of Thrones addict here…

Ok, so I am hooked to this new show on HBO called “Game of Thrones”. Have you been watching it? Start right now…do not wait any longer. It is a great series and HBO never seems to let me down! (I am also a Trubie fan, too.)

I should have known it was a series, but I honestly never thought about it until I read where a friend had posted on Facebook the show is based on books by George R.R. Martin. Addicted to the new show, I just had to order the books on Amazon. There are many characters I am already crazy about like Arya, Bran, Jon Snow, the Direwolves, Ned, Khal Drogo and Daenerys. I even like the “Imp” named Tyrion for some reason although I have a strange feeling he is not to be trusted at any point.

I have to watch the show a couple of times to catch things I missed the first time, but right now T is the only person who minds.  These kinds of shows (and books) are just not his cup of tea.  I am so much like my Dad.  🙂  I grew up watching Star Trek and Battlestar Gallactica sitting in my dad’s lap.  He also took us to see every Star Wars made when I was a little girl. 

Oh, I can hardly wait….I am looking forward to Sunday night for Episode 4, and of course, reading my books!!!

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Is she my third child?

I always wanted a third child even though T was never really on board with that concept.  So, when Paisley joined our family, I never realized she would actually think of herself as a person, too.  Let me explain. 

 Ya see, when E is in her room playing or making up dances, Paisley thinks she has to be right there with E doing whatever she is doing.  It is fun to watch her try to figure out how to dance around the way E does.  When C is playing basketball in his room, she thinks she should play too.  The only problem is when Paisley stands on her hind feet she becomes taller than C, and well, he doesn’t really like that.  When both the kids run outside to play on the trampoline, the girl goes nuts running from the back window to the door in a panic as to why she isn’t out there with E and C having so much fun!  Then, when I am lying on the couch she wants to get up there with me, and when T is outside, she thinks she should be outside playing soccer with him.  And ya know what?  She is right! And we love it!

 

Paisley even thinks when we sit down to eat dinner we should share our food with her.  Nope, we are not going there…we are not giving in to those big brown eyes.  In a two week period I had made 2 batches of cupcakes for school parties and events.  Well, my Paisley girl is quite sneaky when it comes to stealing cupcakes, or licking the icing off of the cupcakes.  One night she licked the icing off of 5 cupcakes!  The other time she was able to pull out the cupcake from liner and never once tore the paper…I found it under the table intact.  Under the table is her hiding place where she thinks no one can see her.  It was like Paisley walked over to the counter, lifted out a chocolate cupcake with buttercream frosting, peeled down the sides of the liner and savored each bite.  Then she went back for 3 more cupcakes.  At least she likes my baking, right?

 
 

She can even smile for the camera!

 

 

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Lucy…(sniff sniff)

Lucy is our 13 year-old Jack Russell Terrier.  Yep, she has been with me longer than T and I have been married.  When I moved out of my parent’s house, T was still in college about an hour away, and I did not want to live alone.  So, I began looking for a “mini” watch dog, and when I found Lucy, that is exactly what I got!  She barked at everything…leaves falling, birds landing in the yard, the mailman, the car driving by, and the squirrels running amok.  She protected me very well from so many dangerous things. 

T and I married, and over a year later came our daughter.  Lucy protected her, too.  She let E squeeze her, kiss her, and chase her with not one single growl.  I really think it was having Lucy around since E was born that created the dog lover E is today. 

Lucy has been dealing with fatty tumors for a couple of years now, and well, one has been found in her mouth under her tongue.  This oral tumor seems to be causing Lucy her troubles and not the fatty tumors, but it seems there is not much of a solution.  So, we are gonna have to put dear Lucy down.  It breaks my heart to lose two dogs within a year, but we must do it for her sake.  She has given me thirteen wonderful years, and I don’t want her to be in anymore pain. 

I know my children are sad, as expected.  They have known this dog their entire lives…she has been there since they were ever born.  My son told her last night as he got down on his knees looking Lucy in the eyes, “No matter what, I will love you forever.”  He is trying to be strong, since he claims Lucy as his dog.  (I let him claim her since he really did not have a dog.)

Over the course of this week, I will have to pull myself together and say good-bye to a special friend.  Thank you, Lucy, for all the fun memories of your supreme jumping skills, and I will never forget you playing games or chasing the red laser light, which made you go nuts.  We will never forget how you can devour food in one gulp although we will never understand why you do not like to chew your food and savor the flavor.  Thank you for loving this crazy family you were chosen to be with.  We will always remember you and keep you close to our hearts!  Just like Colin said….

“No matter what, I will love you forever!” 

 And then some. 

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Vegetable, Herb Kinder”garden”

Here I go again…starting something I have absolutley no idea about what I am doing.  Gardening.  For the past several years, I have wanted to start a garden out behind our house.  We live in town in a subdivision where the houses sit closely together, so in the past I never felt brave enough to tackle the challenge.  After several years of mulling it over in my brain, I think our backyard is a perfect place for a garden.  Our neighbor across the street has a nice garden, and I know we can do it too.  Besides, it will be fun!  Right? 

I have asked Daddy to help me with calculating the garden measurements utilizing the small area we have, as well as the garden as a whole.  I want not only vegetables, but also an herb garden.

I tell ya, just knowing I am gonna be eating something I grew in the ground with (lots of) God’s help, just excites me to my core!  I am so excited to start this garden.  Gardening ourselves will give us more money throughout the summer, as well as eating healthier!  Plus, we can get away from technology and the tv to work together as a family.  I hope that we can produce enough from the garden that some can be given away. 

In the vegetable garden, I plan to grow green beans, broccoli, green cabbage, lettuce, carrots, zucchini, yellow squash, onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, corn, strawberries and blackberries.  In the herb garden, I would like to grow basil, Italian parsley, cilantro, mint, chives, thyme, oregano, and a few others. 

Martha Stewart has an excellent source of gardening tips and articles on her website on the subject of planning a garden from the get go.  I am sure I will be a frequent visitor to her website.  Use your public library to check out books on the subject, too.  I just checked out (well Travis checked it out for me) a book by Williams-Sonoma’s “Cooking from the Farmers’ Market”, and it breaks down every single vegetable and fruit you can think of, along with delicious recipes using the vegetables from your garden or a local farmers’ market.   

Williams-Sonoma Cooking from the Farmers' Market

I have also taken the notion to check with the Farmers’ Almanac about the best time to plow and cultivate the soil, and the best time to plant. 

I plan on documenting this gardening challenge so I will be sure to share the experiences, tips, etc, on this blog.  That is , if I can grow anything!  I am excited and nervous all at the same time.  If all goes well with the garden, I hope to have my grandmother teach me how to can and make homemade blackberry jam! Mmmmm.

Wish us luck!

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Give fish (and peace) a chance?

Fish is becoming a quick favorite around our house.  I have been trying to eat healthier, except McDonald’s French fries are still so hard to resist!  I hate those things, but I really love those things.  Ahhh…I am doing it again…snap out of this French fry trance!!!  I know, I know, this post is not about French fries, but about fish!  Let me take a deep breath so I can pull myself together.  1. 2. 3. Inhale. Exhale. Good. Focus.

Ok, I think I am ready…back to fish.  Do you have a favorite fish?  How do you like it prepared? How often do you eat fish, and I don’t mean tuna salad?

For me, I love tilapia!  If you are not a real fish connoisseur, but you are willing to have an open mind when it comes to fish, then I strongly encourage you to start out with tilapia.  Tilapia is a white fish with mild flavor.  I usually broil it in some olive oil and spices.  Mmmm.  I enjoy tilapia on the grill, but I usually have to grill is it in aluminum foil since the filets are thin.  I do not have a fish basket yet, but it is quickly rising to the top of my wish list. 

Tilapia filets are usually thin so cooking them is quick and easy, about 6-10 minutes.  You can also bake or fry the filets, but if I can grill or broil, then they are my first and favored methods.  The smoky flavor from the grill or broiler adds to the fish, deeming the fish irresistible.  At least it is for me.  I am trying to incorporate fish into our weekly menu starting out once a week.  Then, I hope to move it up to 2 times a week, and so on, broadening my repertoire of fish to cook along the way, too.

The tilapia species are herbivores, which mean they only eat plant life, feeding mostly on plankton.  This is why the fish is a lean, healthy fish.  For more facts about tilapia, click here.  I highly recommend trying tilapia!  I wonder if tilapia and French fries would taste good together???

Peace out.

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Daddy

I freely boast and proudly admit I grew up a “daddy’s girl”.  My daddy is a pretty special person to me.  We have our own secret language, which no one knows.  They think they know, but they don’t.  Daddy always knew how to make me feel so special as a young girl, and he always knew when to put me in my place, too.  As a young girl and teen, he would sing, “Here she comes, Miss America” as I would slowly walk down the staircase of our house.  It always made me smile.  I am smiling now just thinking about it. 

My dad’s name is Earl Jr., or Jun, or Daddy.  He is the 2nd oldest child (oldest son) to my grandparents, Earl and Louise.   He had two sisters (who passed away with polio at early ages) named Mary Ann and Lana Kay, and he has three brothers, William, Ricky, and Ben.  Ben is the same age as my older brother, Chris, so Ben was like a brother to me growing up. 

Daddy, age 61 - Christmas 2010

Daddy is a musician.  He can sing, play guitar and piano.  He is very artsy, and very smart.  He is a very talented artist, whether it is in music or art.  He has many oil paintings hanging up in his home, which he hand-painted.  There is one oil painting in particular which my brother, Joey, and I argue about who the painting belongs to.  Joey says Daddy gave it to him, and well, I say Daddy gave it to me.  It is probably Chris’s, my other brother. 

Being awakened at 8 am on a Saturday morning to the banging of the piano was a weekly occurrence at our house.  I was so annoyed by it as a teen, but it is something I remember about my dad and once again, I smile.  I am reminded how blessed I am to have such a talented father and just having a dad who loves me so much. 

Music is my dad’s passion.  I wished he could do it for a living because he loves it so much, but that just wasn’t in the cards for my dad.  He is an accountant by day for a local underground cable company where he has worked for over 30 years.  Since he isn’t able to be a full-time musician, he travels every week to local nursing homes singing hymns and gospel songs.  Occasionally his group will be asked to sing at socials, church revivals, benefits, or even campaign parties. 

Not only can he sing, paint, work with numbers, but he is quite handy, too.  He can wire electricity, or work with concrete.  He can do all sorts of things on his own.  His versatility and skills are some of the many things I love about him.

Daddy has been married to my mom for 38 years.  He was also married to Deborah before my marrying my mother.  Together, he and Debbie had a child…my older brother, Chris.  Debbie passed away from a brain tumor when Chris was 2 years old.  He later married Momma.  She adopted Chris and then they had me and Joey.  Joey and I are 15 months apart, so I was kinda left with Daddy alot when Joey was born.  It is hard to say whether or not Joey and I being so close in age was the reason for Daddy and me to be so close.  No one can truly know these things.  I think regardless, Daddy and I would still have the same relationship. 

A few more tidbits about my dad I would like to share:

1) I have never, ever in my whole entire life heard the man curse, use fowl language, or take the Lord’s name in vain.  I totally love this about him and I am so proud that I can say that!  How many people can?

2) He does not have one single white or gray hair in his head, and no, he does not color his hair.

3) He never talks gossip or ill of anyone.

4) He looks like George Strait.

5) He loves Tootsie Roll pops – he stashes them in a secret hiding place.

6) He wears lots of Western shirts, and looks good in them, too!

7) He takes Mom dancing just about every Friday night…country dancing.

8) In the mornings, he watches TV with the sound turned off.

9) He loves for you to sing with him.

10) He is one of the sweetest people I have ever known.

I love you, Daddy!

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