Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Six Months Ago

We arrived in Minnesota six months ago today. Sometimes it feels like we've always lived here and some days it's very clear that we're still the newcomers in town. We know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Lord moved us here for a purpose - even if that purpose was just to move our kids to a school where the teachers actually care about them and the principle is visible EVERY DAY around the school either greeting kids in the morning or helping in the crosswalks in the afternoon. We've met some really incredible friends who have helped make the transition here a little easier when we're missing our family and friends in Georgia.

I have to admit that I am a little uncertain about the holidays. Starting tonight with Halloween, the kids are looking forward to visiting all of our friends on our block to get candy and visit for a little while. It's supposed to be cold though, so I don't know how long we'll stay out. We'll be going back to Georgia for Thanksgiving and already it looks like the trip is going to be too short! Christmas is the kicker though. Christmas has always been huge in my family - a whole day of being together, eating, opening presents, eating, watching movies, eating...You get the idea. But, we'll be in Minnesota this Christmas. I hope it's at least a white one. The kids would love that. And we'll still get to see my family, thanks to modern-day technology, as they hook up the webcam to my dad's movie theater screen and we connect ours to our TV. It won't be the same, but at least it'll be as close as we can get!

Anyway, in celebration of our six months here, I thought I would list ten things that I've learned about life in Minnesota in the last six months.
1. When the cashier asks you if you want to "drive up" at the grocery store, it's not for a donation - they really will carry your groceries out to your car, which you drive up to the curb! You better believe I'll be doing this when it turns cold!
2. Hog manure aka fertilizer - STINKS!
3. You can get a 3/4 pound Dragon burger at the local steakhouse for a whopping $6.50
4. Walking your kids to school is better than watching them get on the bus or driving them in the car any day - even in the rain!
5. Nothing beats summer on the lake in Minnesota!
6. I can pass a written driving exam, even at 30.
7. In a small town, people know about you before you know about them!
8. We've learned more about our neighbors in the six months that we've lived here than we knew in the 3.5 years in Suwanee.
9. You can WALK to the doctor's office when it's only 3 blocks away :) Definitely beats the hour + drive to John's Creek for an 8:30 a.m. appointment!
10. There are lots of great flea markets, yard sales and consignment stores where you can find some REALLY great bargains!!!

If you want to experience small town Minnesota life, just give us a call - we always have room for more!


So, my last post generated a lot of questions - mostly people wanting to know my super secret recipes. Just kidding, but there were some requests for my recipes, so here are the bread, pancake and Christmas ornament ones.

Bread Machine Bread:
1 1/2 cup warm water
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 Tbsp. honey
1 1/2 tsp. salt
4 cups bread flour (I usually do 2 cups bread flour, 2 cups whole wheat flour)
2 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
Makes a 2 lb. loaf in a bread machine.

1 large egg
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup milk
1 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
3 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
Beat egg in medium bowl until fluffy. Beat in remaining ingredients just until smooth. Heat griddle or skillet over medium heat or to 375. Grease griddle with butter. For each pancake, pour slightly less than 1/4 cup batter onto hot griddle. Cook pancake until puffed and dry around edges. Turn and cook other side until golden brown.

Christmas Ornaments
1 cup ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground allspice
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 c. applesauce
Mix together dry ingredients. Add applesauce a little at a time. Mixture should have the consistency of playdoh so you are able to work it in your hands. If it is too dry, add 1-2 tbsp. applesauce; too wet, sprinkle surface and mixture with cinnamon. Roll out between waxed paper and cut out with cookie cutters. Poke hole for ribbon hanger. Air dry 4-5 days or set in low temp. oven overnight.

Monday, October 22, 2007

8 Random Cooking Things

I've been tagged by my friend Kathy to list 8 random things from my cooking life. They may not be all that interesting or informative, but here goes...

1. I mostly use Pampered Chef products. That's right. I'm still stringing my Pampered Chef business along, mostly for the free or cheap products. My favorites would have to be the Forged Cutlery, Garlic Press and Executive Cookware.

2. I love to use fresh garlic when I'm cooking. I made a pork loin last week and had to wash the sheets the next day because of how our house smelled :)

3. I make homemade bread now - no store bought stuff for us! We bought a bread maker shortly after we moved in because of how my friend Robin talked about her bread maker and how much she saved buy buying bulk flour, etc. and then making her own. We love it!

4. I usually procrastinate about what's for dinner until the last minute. I like to plan so that I don't have to make a million trips to the grocery store, but I always forget to take something out in the morning...

5. I love to bake! Enough said!

6. I make my kids pancakes from scratch almost every day. It's their new favorite and now they don't like the ones from the package at the store. Fine by me - less preservatives this way!

7. I'm the master of simple and delicious! This was a compliment someone gave me just last week!

8. I bake my own Christmas ornaments every year. You know, the ones with lots of cinnamon and spice so they make my house smell so nice.

There you go! Now I'm passing it on to Deanna, Lori and Melena!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Dancing Diva!

Ashlyn had her dancing debut last Thursday at the high school football game. She did a great job, and I think her teacher was very smart to keep the dance so short. They had only practiced four weeks!

Uncle Monte flew in just in time for the game and Britney's uncle Jerry and aunt Mel ran (literally!) and got there just in time for the performance.


Friday, October 12, 2007

Impractical = Romantic?

I'm reading the book Kid CEO by Ed Young right now. Overall, I think it's a really good book so far - nothing earth shattering yet, but good basics all parents need to be reminded of occasionally. I'm about halfway through and so far, it's felt more like a marriage book than a parenting book. One of his main points is that as parents, we need to put our marriages first - not our kids. Kids have a place in the family and we need to honor our covenant of marriage instead of putting the spotlight on the kids.

Anyway, I was reading the chapter yesterday on Sex Builders and Sex Busters. One of the things he mentions time and again is to make sure that you date your spouse. "What you did to get her is what you need to do to keep her." What struck me in the last part of the chapter was his discussion of romance.

You see, I'm a romantic at heart. I always want the fairy tale. But, I married Britney, who is NOT very romantic. He tries, but it's just not in him. AND, I love him in spite of that and appreciate the times he does try.

Here is a quote from one of the last paragraphs in this chapter. "If you look up the word impractical in the dictionary, one of the synonyms is romantic." I died laughing when I read that because my husband is the complete opposite of that. Almost every decision we've made, I've heard the words "but this is more practical." Say for example, driving an SUV vs a mini van. Obviously, mini vans are more practical when it comes to gas mileage, etc. But the romantic in me wants to throw that out the window and get what I LIKE!

I guess my challenge to all of you (and ourselves too) is to pursue your spouse. Don't become a statistic. Be a little impractical every once in awhile. It's what God made marriage for!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Fall Is In The Air

I love fall. I don't remember many "falls" in Georgia. I just remember the 90 degree days immediately turning into 50 degree days. The colors there are beautiful though. I'll never forget my L-O-N-G drive down GA 400 when I was working and enjoying the beautiful leaves.

Fall here is different. It's beautiful in a different way. Britney always told me that Georgia only had 2 seasons - Summer and Cooler :) Now I understand what he meant. The weather here has been a little rainy, which is not very good for the farmers trying to harvest. But the weather has also been beautiful on those days when it's not raining. Like today - sunny, clear blue skies for as far as you could see (which is usually at least 10 miles because it's pretty flat), and temps in the 60s. Right now it's about 52 outside. Perfect weather for sweaters and football!

We look outside and gone are the green fields of corn and soybeans. A lot of the fields have been harvested, so they're mostly dead stalks and black dirt - a little bleak. But that bleakness is redeemed as soon as Carter shouts at the top of his lungs, "Mom! LOOK! A Combine! And! Tractors! With! Wagons!!!!!" That makes all of the bleakness worth it.

Oh yeah and as for football - the Adrian Dragons are 5 and 1. They play again on Thursday night when Ashlyn's dance team will dance at halftime. Don't worry - we're going to video it and I'll post a link to it as soon as we get it downloaded.

Toto Tequila and Mrs. Mary Toosteal

A couple of weeks ago, Britney and I were invited to a murder mystery party. This was our third one and we felt like old pros :) The best part for me is dressing up...I'm not much of an actress. But, the people at this party were all great at it and made it pretty easy!

The setting was the opening of a speakeasy in Chicago in the 20's. "Toto" was the Big Boss from the mob in New York. "Mary" was the wife of a congressman who was looking to run for president, hence the lack of flapper costume.

I won for best costume, which was a huge surprise for me, considering I spent less than $20 for everything Britney and I needed!