Riverbend Ramblings

~Riverbend Ramblings~
The days are long, but the years are short.
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Wednesday, January 31, 2007
WFMW~ Laundry Tip
I am always on the lookout for ideas that will help "lighten the load" in my laundry room. I sometimes get frustrated trying to figure out the best way to care for our clothes: hot/cold; permanent press; low heat/high heat/no heat, etc. And how in the world am I supposed to convert the Celsius temperature on the tag to Fahrenheit? I'm not in math class; I'm doing the laundry!!

The fabric care tags on clothes are designed to ensure that each fabric is taken care of properly. Unfortunately, you practically need a Ph.D. to interpret the fabric care symbols. Since I don't have a Ph.D. in laundry technique, I taped a cheat sheet inside a cabinet door above my washing machine that shows the symbols and what they mean. This has also been a big help to 8 year old Bookworm who has laundry duty twice a week.
You can print out a chart of your own here.
For more WFMW ideas, head over to Rocks In My Dryer.

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Tuesday, January 30, 2007
My to-do list for this week is quite long and filled with all of those things that must be done to keep my house from slipping into chaos. I have that feeling I get after the house has been looking really nice for a few days, but then things just seem to start falling apart. It's amazing how that happens! One or two stray items are left out where they don't belong, and before I know it I have a huge mess to deal with. I can't blame this entirely on the children; I'm bad about leaving things out, too.

My goal for today is to put out the small fires that have sprung up. The little girls are busy playing dress up, so I'm going to go through their dresser drawers and do some purging while they are happily occupied. Right now they have clothes all over the floor. Bookworm and Mickey Mouse went through their own dressers yesterday which was such a help! I also have some work to do in the master bathroom. I started a project in my linen closet the other day and have yet to finish it.

I hope to update my Tackle It Tuesday projects in a couple of hours. What are you tackling today?

O.K., 4:00 has arrived. The girls' room will have to be finished tomorrow since I have a toddler taking a nap in there right now. However, I'm pleased to announce that the linen closet is now accessible!

I have had a cardboard box full of picture frames sitting in the bottom of the closet since we moved into our house 18 months ago. Today I took all of the frames out of the box and removed the photos from the frames. I put all of the photos in a file folder to keep them safe.:) Take a look at this frame; does it not have "1976" written all over it? Sorry, Mom, this one has to go! (Not the cute picture of me, just the out-dated frame.)

I was able to salvage 4 frames to use around the house, but the rest of them are on their way out the door. I think I'm going to start a little savings envelope and designate it "frame fund."

After cleaning out the bottom of the closet I was able to relocate some of my scrapbooking supplies. Now that everything is easily accessible, hopefully I'll find some time in the near future to do some scrappin'. Here's the linen closet post-tackle.

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Monday, January 29, 2007
Menu Plan Monday~ January 29th
We have some busy evenings this week, so I've planned some very simple, no-fuss meals. Ground beef was on sale this week, so you'll see a lot of ground beef on the menu. :) Tip~ When I purchase large quantities of ground beef, I usually brown all of it at one time. After it has been rinsed and drained, I put 1-2 pound portions in freezer bags. It only takes about 20 minutes to cook it all, and I don't have to spend time browning each batch and cleaning up a messy pan each time I prepare a meal. It's a real time saver!

I really enjoy browsing all the great menu links at Laura's each week and finding new recipes. I found a recipe for Lazy Potato Soup on a Slow Cooking Thursday link that I'm going to try this week. Blogging can be so helpful! :)

Sunday: fried chicken tenders; oven roasted potatoes; green beans

Monday: spaghetti and meatballs; garlic toast; salad

Tuesday: hamburgers; French fries; applesauce

Wednesday: lazy potato soup (can't wait to try this one!); fresh baked sourdough bread

Thursday: tacos w/all the fixins'

Friday: Pizza; salad

Have a great week!

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Saturday, January 27, 2007
Arlene tagged me with the Six Weird Things meme a few days ago, but I've been having a really hard time with this post because I think I am a very normal person. I don't have any quirks. I am mildly OCD about organizational things around the house (although Mr. C might argue with me about that), but nothing really stands out about me. After racking my brain, here are the slightly weird things I've come up with. 1) I have been known to put mayonnaise on my tacos. However, I have gotten out of the habit since the rest of the family thinks that's gross. Now I use sour cream instead so that I can be normal. 2) I am a phenomenal lip reader. I don't even have to think about it. If I can't read someone's lips, then sometimes I have no idea what they are saying. While many people read lips just to be nosey, I do it because I cannot hear. Seriously, I have a 50-60% hearing loss in both ears. I've had hearing aids since I was in the fourth grade. Fortunately, I'm so good at lip reading that I don't even wear the hearing aids any more, praise the Lord! When I outgrew my last pair quite a few years ago we never spent the money on new ones. 3) I am extremely left-handed, and the only thing that I knowingly do right-handed is iron. I can't use a fork with my right hand, but I can maneuver a very hot electronic appliance on delicate fabric with it. 4) I can lift my 6'4" husband (who weighs 100 pounds more than me) off of the ground and put him in an airplane spin. That makes me the girl of his dreams. 5) My eyes are magnets for typographical errors. While I know that I make typos on this blog from time to time, I am very obsessive about correct grammar and punctuation in my everyday life. I can't tell you how many books and articles I've read that have typos in them. It drives me nuts! If I had a job outside the home, I think that I would want to be an editor's editor. These people get paid to find mistakes, yet they miss them! 6) I am a romantic pack-rat. You don't know what that means? When I was in the 9th grade and Mr. C was in the 12th grade, I had the biggest crush in the world on him (still do!). I had a tendency to spy on him. One day after school he was putting on a new pair of cleats before ball practice, and I saw him throw the empty shoe box in the garbage can. I unobtrusively tiptoed over to the garbage can and retrieved a small piece of the cardboard box with the shoe size written on it. I wanted a piece of something that belonged to him. I still have that little piece of cardboard almost 17 years later. See, I'm not all that weird! If you haven't shared your oddities yet, consider yourself tagged. Please leave me a comment so that I can visit you and see how normal I really am. :o)

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Thursday, January 25, 2007
Another Apron Contest :)
If you are looking for a bright, cheerful apron to add to your collection, check out this one. This would be a great apron to give (or receive :D) for Valentine's Day! Connie at Smockity Frocks is giving away one of these apons to the winner of her apron contest. It's not too late to enter; the contest ends at midnight, and the winner will be announced tomorrow.


Slow Cooking Thursday~ Salsa Chicken
Here's the recipe for Crockpot Salsa Chicken that I mentioned on this week's menu. This dish is so simple to prepare, and my kids love it!

Crockpot Salsa Chicken
3-4 boneless chicken breasts
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups salsa
1/4 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
8 oz. cream cheese, cubed

Combine corn, beans, and 1/2 of the salsa in the crockpot. Add chicken breasts and top with the remainder of the salsa. Cook on LOW for 3-4 hours. Mix in the cream cheese about 15 minutes before serving. Top with cheddar cheese and cook about 5 minutes more, just long enough for the cheese to melt.

I serve this with rice or tortilla chips and a salad. Sometimes I omit the cream cheese and add extra cheddar instead. Enjoy! If you're looking for more slow cooker recipes, visit Sandra's.

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Tackle It Tuesday~My Junk Drawer
On my last shopping trip I picked up all of these baskets for $3. Laura isn't the only one who goes nuts over storage containers.:) I knew that I could use them somewhere around the house. Oh, I just couldn't wait to find a new home for them!
It didn't take me long to put them to use. I recently discovered that I have created a junk drawer in my dresser. That's right--in my dresser! Yesterday I decided to tackle that drawer and make it functional. Here's a "before" picture.

I found CD's, two wallets that I haven't used in a while, empty jewelry tins, a cell phone charger, photos, and a ton of receipts. One of the receipts was from our first trip to Wal-Mart when we moved into this house 18 months ago. Time to throw it out!

I did a thorough purge and realized none of those things needed to go back into the drawer. Hmmm, so, what should go into the drawer? I decided to put my everyday jewelry in it. It's so much faster to just reach in the drawer and grab what I need instead of getting out my jewelry box (which is kept on a shelf far away from little hands) where I keep my "good" jewelry. I placed a piece of non-slip fabric in each basket to keep everything in its place. Here's how the drawer looks now.

One of the boxes was just the perfect size to keep the little girls' jewelry in. That works much better than them keeping it in their rooms.:)

To see more great feats of accomplishment, visit 5 Minutes for Mom.

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Monday, January 22, 2007
The Getaway
For those of you who have patiently waited on pins and needles (yeah, right!) to find out the answer to my riddle, your wait is over!

Did you figure it out? I've never seen watery particles congealed into white crystals in the air falling to the earth before. For those of you without a dictionary, that's SNOW! Mr. C sought to remedy that this past week when he had me pack suitcases for our family so that we could head North a bit in search of... SNOW!!!

We hit the road after our Wednesday night prayer meeting and arrived at the Dillard House before midnight. Mr. C had reserved a lovely suite with a fireplace. Three of the kids shared the fold-out couch while Bookworm opted for pallet on the floor.
We awoke the next morning to find ice. Everywhere. Now, those of you who are accustomed to (and sick of) ice will not find this amusing, but we were just as tickled as could be to find the doors of the Suburban frozen shut. The kids were so surprised to see icicles hanging from the truck. Mr. C carefully removed the sheet of ice from his window so that he could see.
We had breakfast at the Dillard House restaurant. I've heard people rant and rave about this restaurant for years, and let me just say that you have never really eaten Southern cookin' until you've eaten at the Dillard House. I think even Paula Deen would agree with me on that one. :)

They serve the food "family-style," so everything is brought out to the table in bowls and platters. I can't even begin to tell you what all we had for breakfast (definitely grits with biscuits and gravy), but you can see part of the meal in these pictures.

We were absolutely stuffed after breakfast. Unfortunately, none of the forecasted snow presented itself :(, so we decided to head about 40 miles away near Lake Toxaway, NC. We have some friends that own a huge Christian retreat on the top of Cold Mountain (yes, the one the book was based on). The owners graciously gave us the code to get through the security gate even though no one was home. It took us about 1 1/2 hours to make it those 40 miles along winding mountain roads. We then made the six-mile drive up Cold Mountain. We saw lots of frozen waterfalls along the way.
When we arrived at our destination, we were a little disappointed that instead of falling snow there was just a light "wintry mix", whatever that is. So, we decided to take a walk around and show the cabins to the kids. When we reached the chapel building, we saw this.
Yes, those are some very small piles of SNOW!!!! Apparently the rain had not washed these piles away yet, so we took advantage of them and had a little snowball fight. We only missed the actual snowfall by a few hours. The kids were absolutely thrilled to be able to pelt their Daddy with snowballs.
We continued our walk before leaving the mountain. We followed the path of a small train track designed for the "kiddie train" at the camp. The large cabin is the main lodge where the owners reside. It was once the vacation lodge for E.M.Backus, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and some other smart, rich men from the early 20th century. It is on the National Register of Historic Places. We look forward to going back for an extended visit during the summertime so that we can hike further up the mountain and visit some of the waterfalls and lookouts.After the ride back to Dillard, we were ready for supper at the Dillard House. We were so stuffed after our huge breakfast that we didn't even eat lunch, so we had worked up quite an appetite. We weren't disappointed. I think I counted 17 different foods that were brought out to our table. We saved the leftover biscuits and ham for our breakfast the next morning.
Here's a view from the dining room and one from our hotel room.
We enjoyed a fun evening in our hotel room in front of the fire and headed home the next morning. Mr. C was so sweet and took me to several antique stores on our leisurely drive home. My kids are probably the only kids I know that enjoy antiquing. I was a good girl and didn't buy a thing. :) We made a quick stop at an outlet mall to go into a Lodge ironware store. Mr. C bought me a new cast-iron skillet which I've already enjoyed using.

Whew! What a whirlwind 48 hours! Although I didn't see snow actually falling, I did get to see some on the ground, so...mission accomplished! I am so glad that my hubby had the great idea to take this trip. He is such a thoughtful husband and daddy!

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Menu Plan Monday

Last week's menu was curtailed due to our impromtu trip, which I'm working on an update about for those of you playing along. :) I've moved a couple of missed recipes to this week's menu plan.

Sunday: Roast beef; scalloped potatoes; creamed corn; fried okra; biscuits

Monday: Spaghetti; tossed salad; garlic toast

Tuesday: Crockpot Salsa Chicken (I'll post the recipe on Thursday); tortilla chips

Wednesday: Meatloaf; mashed potatoes; green bean stir-fry

Thursday: Hot dogs; french fries

Friday: Pizza; tossed salad

I hope you all have wonderful week!

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Thursday, January 18, 2007
Can You Figure This Out?
We're on a mission!

Last night after church Mr. C wisked me and the children off in search of something I've never seen before. I've been waiting to see it for 30 years.

Will we find it?

Here's a clue:

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Kendra wrote an excellent post titled "What Non-Homeschoolers May Not Know." Since I'm a homeschooling mom, her post got me thinking about how blessed I am to have a great support system. Our extended family is very supportive of our decision to teach our children at home. I know that they would do whatever they could to be a help if we lived closer. As a pastor's wife, I am thankful that the people at our church do not place unreasonable expectations on me. They realize that my days are spent schooling my children, and they do not expect me to "do everything." They respect our schedule. I've never actually had anyone make a negative comment to me about our choice to homeschool. Most of the time the only reaction I get is, "How do you do it all?" My reply is, "I don't!" As Kendra mentioned in her post, a homeschooling mom can't do it all! Sometimes, though, I feel that I should be able to be SuperMom. After all, I am home almost all of the time. I want to live in a spotless house and prepare three feasts a day, but that isn't reality for me. I don't feel pressured by others, but I am guilty of placing pressure on myself. Too often I lose sight of the fact that I have the most wonderful day-job in the world; I get to spend all day teaching and training my kids! While it's not at all a glamorous job, it is one that will have a lifelong impact on my precious children. We have "bad days" when school just doesn't go well or someone is really in need of an attitude adjustment (sometimes it's MOM!), but when I take a breather and think of my children's moldable minds and spirits, I am so thankful to have them at home, even if the house is never perfectly clean, the laundry basket is never empty, and I don't get a break until they're all fast asleep. If you homeschool your children, remember that you don't have to meet the expectation of others. If you are doing your best with the time God gives you each day, the needful things will be accomplished. Some of you reading this may think that homeschooling moms just sit around all day realaxing. If you "traded jobs" with them for 48 hours, I think your opinion would be forever changed. If you know someone who homeschools, ask the Lord to show you how you can be a blessing to them. If you don't do anything else, at least pray for homeschooling families. My family needs all the prayer we can get! :o)


Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Yesterday afternoon we enjoyed spending some time together as a family. The kids have been begging to ride their bikes lately. They haven't been able to ride them at our home because we do not have a flat surface for them to ride on. We headed to town so the kids could ride their bikes in the church parking lot.

The temperature was close to 70 degrees, so the kids worked up a sweat in no time at all. Lil' Nut tried riding on Curly Girl's bike, but she couldn't quite get the hang of it, so she spent most of her time on the playground. Mr. C took the training wheels off of Mickey Mouse's bike. He continued to practice on the grass, and he did a very good job! We had a great time together, and we are already looking forward to our next "Bike Day".

After spending a couple of hours outdoors riding bikes, you would not believe how much food the kids ate at supper. Seconds wasn't enough; a couple of the kids wanted thirds! It's amazing what some fresh air and rigorous exercise can do to one's appetite!

So far today we've finished our lessons, washed and folded 2 loads of laundry (still needs to be put away-), and I've gone to the gym. All in all, it's been a good day!

I need to go get the last batch Cream Cheese Delight cookies out of the oven. We had three new families visit our church on Sunday, so today I'm baking some cookies that we'll deliver to them this evening.

I think I'm going to sneak a couple of cookies and enjoy them with a cup of English Breakfast Tea before choretime.


Thursday, January 11, 2007
My Little Man

My little man turned 7 today! Yep, a Y2K baby. I thought I'd share a few things about Mickey Mouse with you. The pictures above were taken a few months ago when everything was still green, but I wanted to share them with you because they really capture his personality.

Now for the low-down on the birthday boy:
**He is very loving. He loves to snuggle. He won't ever think that he's to big to give hugs and kisses, and I'm so glad about that.
**His hair is the most beautiful shade of red. We have no idea who he gets it from. I've heard it can skip five generations.
**He is thoughtful. He lets his three sisters borrow his action figures all the time to use as husbands for their dolls.
**He is named after his grandpa. No, his grandpa does not live at Disney World!
**He cleans the toilet in his bathroom every morning--by force, not choice! (His future wife will thank me.)
**He can't stand to be barefoot. He wears socks all the time.
**He's all boy, could spend the whole day exploring in the woods, and is dangerous with a slingshot or bow & arrow.
**He does an unbelievable impersonation of Yoda's voice (from Star Wars). Very talented young man, he is.
**I love him. Lots. More than he'll ever know.

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Crystal is searching for Frugal Friday home decorating ideas, and mine involves candles. If you read this post, you know that I love scented candles!

I recently started using a candle warmer to burn my jar candles. Candle warmers can be very inexpensive. I picked mine up for less than $5. To us a candle warmer, simply place a jar candle on the warmer, plug in the warmer, and turn it on. A candle warmer ensure that the whole candle is used because there is no burning through the center of the candle, which is what usually happens when burning a candle with a flame. So, I get to enjoy the entire candle because all of the wax is used. This saves money and avoids wasting candle wax.

Here are some other reasons I like using a candle warmer:

~ There is no flame. I don't have to worry about one of my curious, creative children burning themselves (or burning down the house!).
If I forget to unplug the warmer before going to bed or leaving the house, I don't have to worry about a fire starting.

~ There is no soot, which can interfere with the scent and leave unsightly marks on the jar, walls, or ceiling.

I think that a candle's flame adds a lot to a room's ambiance, so I do like to burn them the "traditional" way, too. I can always use my candle warmer to burn the wax at the bottom of the jar when the wick will no longer do the job. :)


Tuesday, January 09, 2007
Keep Movin'!
We've had a gym membership for several months, but I haven't been since the middle of October----yikes!

I started back again a couple of days ago. My goal is to go the the gym at least 3 days a week.

I know that running is great for improving cardio health, but 30 minutes on a treadmill/elliptical machine seems like 4-ever!!

Here's what works for me and protects my mind and ears from the trashy music at the gym. I use a walkman and tune it to one of the TVs at the gym. Time just seems to fly by while I'm watching Paula Deen whip up some biscuits and gravy, which leads me to this question: Why do people watch cooking shows at the gym while they are exercising to lose weight and stay fit?

For more healthy tips, visit Rocks In My Dryer.


Backyard Beauty
Yesterday Curly Girl discovered that one of our camellia bushes is in full bloom--in January! We've had unseasonably warm weather lately, so I think that my garden is confused.
We did have a pretty good freeze here last night. We're still holding out hope for some snow before the winter is over.

Here's a view of the beautiful blue sky and our frosted front lawn. I took these pictures early this morning when Buddy went outside for his morning romp. He didn't stay out for very long; I think his little paws were freezing!

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Cooking VS. Shopping
The quote on this apron sums up my life in the kitchen: "Born to shop. Forced to cook!"

My two year old keeps saying, "Mommy, you've got shoes and purses on your tummy!"

Although I enjoy cooking and spending time with my kiddos in the kitchen, there are some days I really would rather be scanning the sales racks at the mall, LOL!

This apron was a Christmas present from my dad. When I told him that it was too pretty to wear because I didn't want to mess it up, he told me that I had better wear it because it cost way more than he thought an apron ought to cost. -: I've worn it several times, and it's still stain-free. I don't know how much longer I can keep it that way.

If you're wondering why my pretty little head has been chopped off in the picture, 5 year old Curly Girl was my photographer.

Do you have a favorite apon? Enter it in Barbara's apron contest.

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Monday, January 08, 2007
Candle Heaven
I took these pictures especially for Susan P. since I know that she's such a big candle lover, too! :)
I was blessed to receive an abundance of Yankee Candles for Christmas from Mr.C and the kids. Mr. C picked out the blueberry candle all by himself (I'm so proud of him!). I noticed that the kids chose lots of "spring-themed" scents. I'm using one of my new plug-ins in the kids' bathroom, a place that needs to smell flowery (if you catch my meaning).
While we were on vacation I went to the after-Christmas sale at the Yankee Candle store. Yes, I have a real weakness here. I knew that the jars would be buy-one-get-one-free, but I had no idea that I would find these pretty votive holders for just $1! I also found some re-fills and the Christmas gift set for 50% off.
I think that I have enough candles stashed away to last me the entire year. In fact, I'm having to de-clutter a cabinet so that I'll have a place to store them.

Now, which scent will I enjoy tonight while I lounge in a bubble bath? Decisions, decisions, decisions...

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Menu Plan Monday
Meal preparation is soooo much more fun when you have a plan! I haven't made out a weekly menu for the past couple of weeks due traveling and a busy holiday schedule, so I'm looking forward to getting back into my "normal" routine. Here's my supper menu for this week.

Sunday: roast beef; scalloped potatoes; squash w/onions; fried okra; cornbread

Monday: crockpot chicken breasts; rice; broccoli w/cheese sauce

Tuesday: tacos

Wednesday: scrambled eggs; pancakes; turkey bacon

Thursday: meatloaf; mashed potatoes; stirfry veggies

Friday: pizza; fruit cocktail

Thanks to Laura for hosting Menu Plan Monday. :)

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Saturday, January 06, 2007
Thought for the Day
Matthew 5:16 "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."

Let's bring glory to God today by our life. Remember, someone is watching you! (Even if it's only those in your own home.) Are you giving your Heavenly Father a good name?


Friday, January 05, 2007
Happy Birthday, Copper's Wife!
One of my blogging friends, Copper's Wife, is celebrating her 50th birthday. Her blog has been hijacked by her sweet children, and they are posting lots of good stuff about their mom. :)
Congratulations, Copper's Wife, on reaching the half-century mark!


I stumbled across a site that has some wonderful helps for homemakers. I can't endorse all of the content yet because I have not had the time to look at everything on the site, but so far I've been impressed with the free printable forms for housekeeping and shopping lists. There are also quite a few budget tips. Check out Cindy's Porch and let me know what you think. :o)


Thursday, January 04, 2007
I'm back! The past two weeks have just flown by! We are home again, and I have spent the past two days trying to get things back to normal (whatever that is) around our home. In an effort to keep from getting overwhelmed with all of the unpacking for the six of us, I have only brought one suitcase into the house at a time. It has helped me to stay focused on putting everything in its place instead of piling clothes everywhere. Today I continued unpacking and made a trip to the grocery store to restock the refrigerator. I got a little bit side-tracked and reorganized some of the kitchen cabinets and cleaned out the refrigerator, but I felt much better afterward. Tomorrow I will start taking down the Christmas decorations. I'm sure most of you already have yours put away, but my kiddos are still enjoying the lights on our Christmas tree. It's good to be home again, and I wish you all a healthy, happy 2007!