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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

New Artwork


Well....I'm finally doing it! After getting some important professional feedback....I'm finally going to go out on a limb and submit a children's story that I have written! We'll see what happens. All they can do is say they aren't interested in my story. What do I have to lose? As an inspiration from the story along with staring at Austin's ant farm, I came up with this picture! Let me know what you think. Give me some feedback! :) You can click on the picture for a larger view. I did all the painting digitally.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The New Car



Here is a picture of our new wonderful car. Who says you can't find a great used car! They exist, you just have to be patient! It's strange getting used to driving a stick shift again! But it is fun! Sure glad that it does have cruise control though! :)

More Car Pictures




At Last, A Second Car!






We are very very very very...and I can't stress enough of the very.....thankful to have a second car at long last! We purchased a 2003 PT Cruiser! It is a five speed which will help with the wear and tear on the engine...and bring better gas mileage. The boys really like it. Wesley pointed to our other car (the corolla) and said, "I don't like that car". That's good because that's what the boys and I will be driving around in while Eric is at work. I was super excited to get a cheaper used car that was actually in great condition. It even has cruise control and leather seats. This car is going to be an amazing blessing for us. This has to have been by far the nicest car buying experience that Eric and I ever had. The guy we bought the car from is actually a dealer that mostly does old muscle car restorations. My little brother Brian would have been in hog heaven if he could have seen all the cars. He actually showed us around and we got to take a few pictures of the cars. Austin even got to sit inside a hummer. One of the cars was purchased from the movie set of GONE IN 60 SECONDS. It had actually been crashed for a stunt in the movie and he restored it. I am posting the pictures here mainly for Brian's enjoyment. This guy is the owner of Toy Box of Columbia. He does some fantastic work on the cars. He said the whole restoration process can take up to 18 months. He even said that if Brian (my little brother) is up for a visit we could bring him by for a tour of the cars!

So here are the pictures. These were taken with the cel phone, so the quality isn't great, but we still got a few good shots! Enjoy! Later I will get some pics of our new car up. It has been raining outside so that will have to wait for now!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Gardening, Baking, and Car Searching

We have had a lot of things going on! The biggest and best news of all is that God has answered our prayers. We have closed on our other house that we had been trying to sell for a year. Our buyer had numerous situations and delays with his financing, but it finally came through. We are so thankful to have that done! Now that we are out from under that house, we are trying to find a car that fits into our budget. With the gas prices ever rising and less people selling their cars with low miles, finding the right used car has been an obstacle. We are blessed to have a family member that has a dealership. He is helping us find a car that will hopefully best serve our needs and not break our budget. That means being patient, but in the end I think it will be worth while. I'm doing my best to be patient and trust God to meet our needs. I'm not going to be impulsive about car buying. Sharing one car while we worked together at a children's home was very easy. Since leaving there a little over a year ago, only having one car has been an extreme challenge. There were days when I was depressed about not having a second car. But, I keep seeing challenges that others have faced. I have repeatedly had to ask God for forgiveness for not having a thankful heart for all the many blessings that I DO HAVE. Having a second car would be a huge blessing, but it's taken me a while to learn be patient and remember the numerous things I do have to be thankful for. What am I thankful for?
1. God's grace and love
2. God providing me with a husband who is a dream come true! I knew that from the moment I met Eric! Eleven years later, that's still the same!
3. Our wonderful family members too numerous to list them all! But, I do have to mention that my mom is also one of my best friends and she's the one who taught me about Jesus all the years I was growing up...and even now in my thirties!
4. Two wonderful healthy sons
5. A nice home in a great neighborhood
6. Eric's secure job that he loves
7. Selling our other house
8. Being able to work part-time instead of full time (giving me more time with our boys while they're little)
This list could go on and on. There are so many things to be thankful for.
this list could go on and on!
So this blog is out of order with my title.
We have decided to start a home garden because of the ever rising food costs. Hopefully our garden will grow! We have planted some plants that we picked up at Wal-mart. To start we have: yellow and zucchini squash, Watermelon, cantaloupe, Roma tomatoes, red and green bell peppers. We have the seeds for some lettuce, corn, and green beans. Hopefully we can get those seeds going soon! I hear green beans are fairly easy to grow! We'll see! I have some potted plans of spices..and so far those are doing well! I have been enjoying fresh spices in our food! I'll have to get some pictures of our garden on the blog soon!

I also need to post some of the recipes I've tried lately. I made whole wheat bread in the bread machine. That came out pretty well. I made some cookies called Chocolate Wows. The name is right because that's what you say when you taste one. They are that good! One of Eric's bosses gave us a recipe for fettuccine alfredo. I made it on Friday. It was so good. It was better than what I've had at Olive Garden and I love their recipe! So when I get a chance I add these recipes.
That's about the latest on things from our neck of the woods!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Chocolate Cake Cravings






I have been on a baking kick for a couple of weeks now. I think it's because I've realized that it's a healthier alternative than the store bought stuff. Yes, it still has sugar....but, it's still better than shortening and high fructose corn syrup. At least what I make is made of natural ingredients!

I held out for about a week after having made the apple pie. I figured that's not completely terrible. The weather is also warmer. That means more outside time to get some exercise with the kids. This is how I justify eating the sweets. I made homemade bread and chocolate cake today. I'll plan to be a little better using moderation this time! I won't have cake for breakfast. I limit myself to only eating pie at breakfast! :)

I actually decided to share the recipe and pictures of this cake here on the blog. It came out really good. It's a little different kind of recipe since it doesn't actually use eggs. Austin licked the frosting mixer paddle clean. Then when he had a slice of the cake, he actually ate the whole thing. That's how I know he likes it! He's not the biggest cake fan, but this one had his approval. Even Eric, who doesn't like cream cheese, didn't notice it in the frosting...(hopefully he's not reading this) Sorry Honey, if you are!!! :) He really liked the cake as well!

This was a really simple recipe....and came out quite well. It's from one of the Taste of Home Cooking magazines.

Cake
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1/3 cup baking cocoa ( I used Hershey's Special Dark Chocolate)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups water
3/4 cup oil (I like canola)
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons vinegar

Frosting
1 small package cream cheese (3 oz size) softened
1/4 cup butter or margarine softened (I used butter)
2 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup baking cocoa (I used the regular kind for this)

For the cake combine the first five ingredients in a mixing bowl and blend together. Then add the water, oil, vanilla and vinegar; mix well (batter will be thin). Pour into a greased 13 x 9 baking pan. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. When I baked it, it seemed to take slightly longer. Cool completely

For frosting, in a mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter. Add the confectioners sugar, cocoa, salt, milk and vanilla; mix well. Spread over the cake. I added the sugar one cup full at a time and mixed before I added the cocoa and then added the wet ingredients. It just seemed easier to get the frosting well blended that way.

If anyone decides to try this recipe, you'll have to let me know how you liked it! I think this will definitely be a recipe I make again. The frosting was so quick and easy to use!





Friday, April 4, 2008

Austin Bowling

Here's the other video of Austin bowling
video

more fun pictures



I do have to admit that my blog is turning into my virtual scrapbook! :)

Thursday, April 3, 2008

P.S.

Just a note that if you want to hear the sound on this video clip you'll need to turn off the sound on my slide show from my earlier post...otherwise you will hear the music at the same time. It's all a matter of personal preference. I love music....so I can't help but to put music with my slide shows! Sorry! :)

Family Fun!

We did it! We went bowling in place of a backyard hotdog roast! We had a great time! Austin and Wesley both did really well. Wes bowled the whole game! Not sure if he enjoyed playing on the steps or bowling more! He did tire himself out! That was definitely a bonus!
I still need to add the video of Austin! It takes awhile to upload each one! So check back for the other one! :)
video

Cocoa Loco

Unmotivated

Today I am very unmotivated. The weather is once again dreary and chilly. It's that wet cold rainy type of weather that just makes you want to take a long nap or lounge around and read a good book. That is not reality though. That is just an idea of the most enjoyable way to spend this type of day. The kids are a bit tired of this weather too. They'd prefer to be outside playing and enjoying warm spring weather. I'm surprised to actually see that we have flowers in the flowerbed coming into bloom. It seems like the colder days have far out numbered the warm ones.
I'm using the cold wet weather as an excuse for not accomplishing the things on my to-do-list. I'm disappointed along with Austin. We were hoping for some good weather today. I'm off tonight and we had plans (weather permitting) to roast hotdogs in a small backyard campfire. Austin has been asking to do this for several weeks now. I even got the hotdogs and all the stuff needed, including a weanie roasting stick, the makings for smores, and some old fashioned rootbeer. Just for Eric's benefit I even picked up some smoked brats. It looks like we'll have to put those plans on hold. We'll have to see what happens this weekend. Our backup plan is to try and go bowling. We'll see how everyone is tonight. I'm hoping we can do some sort of fun family activity. It's been a while....and I could really use some type of family fun night!

I have been very bad about what I have been eating lately. I'd like to continually just blame all these things on the bad weather. On Sunday I picked up stuff to make sundaes. I had all the toppings! Yes, whipped cream too! Then on Wednesday I baked an apple pie! I made it with the strussel topping. Lots of butter and sugar! I can at least say that I made the crust with canola oil! So the crust part wasn't loaded with the bad stuff! Just the topping! Eric and I each had two slices! They were small slices! :) Once after dinner, and once before bed. Why am I being so honest about this on this blog? Can anyone relate? Does anyone else make dessert and then eat two helpings of it? I'd like acknowledge that I worked very hard at the store and worked up the appetite for the second serving after returning from my job. The worst part is today I was thinking about how I have all the ingredients around the house to make a chocolate cake. At least I have mastered baking deserts without hydrogenated oils! I should at least get brownie points for that! I'm going to try my hardest and not bake anything else for at least a week or so. We'll see how long I can hold out!

Other news, we have found a poodle we have taken in. He's a little guy about 10-12 pounds. I was hoping we'd find someone that had lost a dog. He's really a pretty good dog. He's neutered and house trained. I can't figure out why someone isn't looking for him. He seems like he was the unlucky victim of a dog dumping. We've been calling him Cocoa Loco. Wesley says that the "little tiny doggy is my friend". He's so cute with animals. He reminds me of myself when I was little. He is drawn to animals. Even the creepy crawly critters. I can remember before I knew any better, enjoying creepy crawly things that I would find in the yard, with the exception of roaches and spiders. I've been a bit phobic of those! I was a Florida kid. In Florida you have critters of all sorts year round thanks to the warm weather. It's funny to see a bit of yourself in your kids. Makes you wonder, is it just a kid thing? Or is it in the genes?

Here is a picture of the pooch we found. Petey would like to play a bit more, but the little guy has his guard up. Petey outweighs him by quite a bit!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Creative Imagination



Our boys are very imaginative! Austin had an assignment to draw a picture in his journal to go with this writing assignment. Well....once he finished the picture....he decided to draw some extra details on his face! Then Wes asked if he could draw on his face. I opted to use some of my eye makeup on him instead of markers! I asked Austin if he was worried that the marker wouldn't come off his face. He said, "Don't worry, Mom. I read read the package. It says the markers are washable." You have to give him credit for doing the research first! Of course I'm always one to take advantage of a good photo opportunity! :)