Saturday, September 27, 2008

Happy Fall Y'all!

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I went to my first Holiday Market of the season - so to me, that makes it fall, even if it IS still just under 90 degrees outsite. (Can you perhaps guess from the photo what we bought, today? LOL!)

My site counter reached 1,000 visitors, today. WOW! 1,000 visitors in 3 months. I'd love to hear from some of you. You can click on any post and leave comments or I'm also trying out a new Tagboard Feature in my sidebar, you can also leave comments, there.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Dinner: Grown Up Grilled Cheese/Panini

I haven't posted any recipes in a long while due to the hurricane. Now that the kids are back in school I am back to work so I made an easy dinner, tonight. I first made these sandwiches a few weeks ago, they were a big hit with my family. Ethan is so enthusiastic about these that he was asking me to make him another before he had finished the first half, he ended up eating his entire sandwich plus half of mine! And I had been afraid he might be put off by all that green... Silly Mommy.

I have been doing a bit of grilled sandwich research (surfing) this morning. Lo and behold I came across this quote about the Monte Cristo sandwich (YUM!) On Wikipedia

"The first well documented appearance of the Monte Cristo sandwich is on menus at the Blue Bayou and Tahitian Terrace restaurants at Disneyland's New Orleans Square in 1966."
The Blue Bayou is where I have enjoyed most of the Monte Cristo sandwiches I have consumed and I have to say that they are WONDERFUL!

Pesto Mozzarella Grilled Cheese

I got this idea from Tyler Florence on the Ultimate Rainy Day Episode of Tyler's Ultimate. But he made pesto from scratch - I'm sure homemade pesto would be even better, but this is the quick and easy weeknight version & I have trouble finding fresh basil in large quantities, so I'm using prepared pesto.

Loaf of Sourdough Bread
Tub of Prepared Pesto Sauce (find it in the refrigerated pasta section)
Mozzarella Fresca (Fresh Mozzarella it's with the specialty cheeses and usually packed in liquid - it's much softer than standard Mozzarella which has been aged.)
Olive Oil
1) Slice Mozzarella and Bread if not pre-sliced.

2) Spread pesto sauce on insides of bread, top one side with mozzarella slices and assemble. Brush one side of bread with olive oil (it actually tasted butterier than using butter!)

3) Place sandwich oiled side down on heated iron or griddle. Brush remaining side with oil.

4) Now in order to press the sandwich you will need something with some weight. Here is what I did. Top sandwich with a sheet of heavy duty aluminum foil, place the flat bottom of a cookie sheet on top of that (large flat surface that will press down on all the sandwiches) and top that with something heavy (I used my cast iron skillet or you could use some heavy cans.) Grill until browned and flip. When both sides are toasted remove to cutting board and cut sandwich in half.

Tips: On the TV show, Tyler used a nice artisan Sourdough and cut it into thick slices and grilled it on a Panini press. I found that when I tried to use my grill pan and weight with thick sliced bread, I did get those pretty panini grill marks, but only the ridge part of the sandwich browned, and the bread was too thick for the cheese to get warm enough to melt.
I did much better with both browning and melting using sourdough pre-sliced by the bakery (thinner uniform slices) and toasting the sandwiches on a flat griddle - still pressing the layers under under foil, cookie sheet, and cast iron skillet. You could easily make this a Tricolore Sandwich by adding slices of tomato. (The word Tricolore refers to the Italian flag: red, white and green - In Italian Cuisine dishes with these three colors are also described as Tricolore.)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Give Thanks Thanksgiving Card

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All Supplies by CTMH
Stamps: Give Thanks, Stoneware Texture
Ink and Cardstock Colors: Pansy Purple, Autumn Terracotta, Goldrush
Colored Using Waterbursh with ink pads and watercolor pencils

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

20 Mile Trek

I spent 2 hours of today getting Ethan's medication. The pediatrician's office building has not yet re-opened after the storm so she is working out of a satellite office out-of-town. It's a 20 mile round trip on surface streets (no freeways go out that way from here - going on the freeway would be the long way around.)

Along my trek thru traffic-y areas (mainly from a few major intersections with signals still out) I DID notice the beautiful cloud formations. As I sat in the drive-thru at the pharmacy I marveled at them. Texas clouds form so fast you can WATCH them forming - it's like time-lapse photography only it's not time-lapse - it's real time real life. With big giant clouds like this I think we may be in for a thunderstorm... but then the clouds move so fast (we must have a lot of wind at higher altitudes) they might blow off somewhere else before they drop rain or thunder.
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The Same Moon That's Shinnin' Down On Me...

I don't know why it was so funny to us, but for years it was a private joke between my mother and me. It's from the charming little movie Tammy and the Bachelor starring Debbie Reynolds. While gazing up at the moon it becomes apparent that Tammy has fallen in love with Pete (engaged to someone else) when she sighs with all her heart and says, "Just think, Miss Renie, that same moon that's shinnin' down on me this very moment, is shinnin' down on Pete's tomatoes!" It was so tragic and ridiculous, you couldn't help but laugh. I don't know how it became a quotable quote for us, but it did. Sometimes as a reminder not to take life so seriously, sometimes just out of the blue for no good reason... it never failed to make us laugh. I've tried to explain it to other people over the years, but nobody ever finds it as funny as we did. It was just our thing. Well, truthfully in the beginning it was just my Mother's thing, and over time it became OUR thing. (I've added the song Tammy to my playlist at the bottom of my Blog, I wish I could have found the original Debbie Reynolds version from the movie.)

When Ethan was 2 we lived in a neighborhood where the houses were very close together. You really had to search the sky to find a spot where you could see the moon in between the rooftops, but Ethan's upstairs bedroom had windows that faced 2 ways and usually we could see the moon from there. Before going to bed every night we had to look out the window and find the moon, he would not settle down for the night until he had said goodnight to the moon.

When I moved to Texas away from my parents and friends, I missed them so much. Less than a month after our move when the September 11th attacks grounded all planes, the distance between me and my family came to feel insurmountable. The sky is so big in Texas, you can see forever and I never have any trouble finding the moon in the big, wide sky. One night gazing up at the moon, I remembered that silly saying from the Tammy movie. It changed from campy, funny, to a thought of comfort. I could look up at the Moon in Texas and my family just might at that same moment be looking up at that same moon. After that for several years after we moved I went outside every night to "greet" the moon. Somehow it helped me feel at home until I felt at home in my new home.

So it has been a number of years since I developed my affinity for the Moon, since it became a kind of touchstone for family and for peace. So now I've tried to explain, and understand for myself, just why.

This picture of the moon was taken September 14 on the second night after Hurricane Ike.

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CLICK HERE for Take Flight Owl Card with Moon

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Rustic Trail Park Pages II

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Click Here to see the other set of pages from this same day.

All supplies by Close To My Heart
Paper Packet: Rustic Trail
Ink and Cardstock Colors: Bamboo, Cocoa, Olive Dutch Blue
Stamp Sets: It's A Boy, Beauty Seen
Layout Design is Balanced Blocks from the book Cherish by Close To My Heart

Schools Re-opened Today!

We are one more step closer to back to normal. The kids went back to school, today. They have been out for 11 days! Imagine all the happy Mama's all over town.

Must fly, self has hair appointment at 1. Marvelous self-indulgence at this point, getting hair cut.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Supermarket Re-opens!

My local supermarket finally re-opened, yesterday! I hear they have not yet stocked a lot of things like milk and eggs and ice, but they are OPEN at last after being closed for a full week.

Robert reports that the broken pole hanging over the road has been repaired and the traffic signal out at the main road was blinking red last night. Perhaps it will actually be functioning today!

I also got an email this morning saying that power is back up at the church.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

It's A Party Card

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All supplies by Close To My Heart
Stamps: It's A Party!
Colors: Kiwi, Breeze, Archival Black

Not Yet Normal After Ike

Having the power restored has been HUGE. It's so nice to have phone service, light, air conditioning, TV, and Internet again. We are certainly more comfortable but life is not back to normal, yet.

I am trying not to go out on the roads as the traffic signals are still out and I live near a major, busy road and it is very dangerous with the signals out. People who have returned to work must brave these conditions and wait in long lines for fuel in order to get to work. My local supermarket has not re-opened. The schools are still closed... looking at the district website it says kids will be out thru the rest of the week, but it does not actually say that school will resume on Monday. It says,
"Other obstacles include the delivery of supplies and food products to the district, as well as nonfunctional traffic lights that would interfere with the safe and timely delivery of students traveling to and from school.
The district will remain closed until schools and facilities are safe for students and staff members."
There was just an update on our church website saying "Sunday morning service will be held at 10:30 am regardless of power." from this I gather that the church must be without power. Many families are still without power. A news report today at 12:30 said that a million "customers" (57%) are still without power. We have loaned out our generator to another family now that our own power has been restored. We are trying to move forward but things certainly are not yet back to normal. Please continue to pray for all the people affected by this storm.

Family Photos, Crafts and Kitchen Creations
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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

We Have Power!!!!

It's 6:22 PM day 4 since the storm. We got power again late this afternoon! I have never been so happy to flip a light switch in my life! Telephone, Cable and Internet just came back up in the last few minutes.

Family Photos, Crafts and Kitchen Creations
Check out my blog, I'd love to hear your comments!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Ike Area Photos

Got Robert's Laptop online trying to upload some photos.
These are photos we took just on our way to and from lunch yesterday in a local strip mall. Just this short trip told us that our neighborhood was lucky. Or rather that we had some special protection, thanks everyone for your prayers!

Still no power. Weather is cooler today which is very welcome.
School is out until Thursday. We appreciate everyone's continued prayers.

Click Photos for Larger View

Sunday - Nearly Every traffic signal had at least one part hanging down into the street by a wire. Signals still are out.

Sunday - Trees broken and twisted are everywhere.

This Power Pole is snapped at the base, we are on opposite side of divided road. Driving out to lunch we had to go UNDER it only thing holding it up is that it is still attached to the power lines. We think this will delay our power getting back up even longer as they are not yet even restringing wires, much less setting new poles.

Long day

Still no power. Saw a lot of damage when went to Lunch. Signals all out. Long lines 4 gas. Broken power pole suspended out over road only held up by power lines. Want 2 stay home until is better. No ice 2 b found have been giving it away 2 neighbors as fast as freezer makes it. Hear fema truck at local high school tomorrow will have ice. 12:48 am via cell phone

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Lunch out

Local businesses open heading to Skeeter's 4 Lunch w neighbors. Hope this means we will have power soon 2. Schools closed until Thursday. 1:30 Sunday via cell phone.


The generator went out early this morning. Robret & Micah think water got in with gas in rain last night. Finally up running with awning pavillion over it 11:30. Generator powering our fridge & neighbor's fridge have charged cell phones for several neighbors. Cold front expected tonight lower temps welcome. See's candy still good! LOL got guys to remove boards from 4 windows dayligt at last, was tired of using flashlights by day. Have not heard anything about school closures for Monday but sure must be closed. 11:50 AM via cell phone.


Thunderstorms most the night. No new water at wet window. Mosquito bites. Slept downstairs, not as hot. Rain n lightning continue. 5:45 AM via cell phone.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Saturday night

Power still out. Told to boil our water. Dinner w neighbors bacon tomato on BBq griddle. Began 2 rain. Ate under awning. Much more damage on other streets. Roof off one house nearby. Yard fence missing next street. Many homes n cars damaged by trees n limbs. Area schools bad shape. Heard power up cole's crossing @ 3 .PM. Prep 4 bed. Chained generator 2 swingset in yard. G,nite all thnx 4 prayers! 11:19 PM April via cell phone.

Still good

Power may stay out as long as weeks. Cell service still up. Wet carpet near one Upstairs window entry point uncertain as yet. Wind Stopped still raining.

We're good

Eye passed 6 lost a lot of shingles. Strong winds n rain continue. Power out. Generator 4 fridge on now. Via cell phone 7:51 AM


Power out 12:49. Eye over downtown now. 65 mph winds here. Post from cell email.

Ike Updates

12:45 - Ethan chatters constanlty and is thirsty or one thing or annother. I remembered that we haven't filled the bathtubs with water, so am upstairs waiting for them to finish filling up. The rain is driving on the windows.

12:03 - Sat out in driveway with neighbors for about 20 minutes watching the clouds and flashing colored lights in the sky. Never figured out what those were exactly. Came in when occasional rain turned to spray. Are trying to get some sleep for a few hours, now. Wind is whisting outside but no more than a regular storm at this point.

Neighbors behind us left out their trampoline, BBQ and all their lawn furniture. The dad was out there bouncing on the trammpoline while I was taking sunset pictures. It steams me that we cleared our yard and could end up with damage from their stuff. Oh well, what can you do?

11:12 - Began eating the See's Candy I got for my anniversary. When the air conditioning goes out, it will melt and I'm not wasting a perfectly good box of See's. Just about to go outside and sit in the driveway with the neighbors. Still not rain. Lights just flickered again, but power didn't actually go out.

Tornado shelter/closet under the stairs.
So spacious for the 3 of us! LOL!

We can really hear the wind getting pretty strong, now - 3 power outs but it has come right back up again.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Ike Updates Here

Friday 10:06 PM
We just lost power for the first time, it came right back up but no telling how much longer we will have power. Right now it's getting windy out but it has not yet begun to rain. The eye is still supposed to come pretty close to us, may even go over us, but we are not going to be on the dirty side.

Friday 5:20 PM
News is now reporting that Ike has a 500 mile wide wind field. That is the area that will experience tropical storm force winds and above. Max projected wind speed for my zip code is 78 MPH.

Projected Wind Speeds By Zip Code
This site is unavailable as I'm trying to check it, I think there is too much traffic becuase it's featured on one of the local news stations right now.

I'll update here as long as I am able - once the power goes out I won't be able to do that anymore.

Friday 12:10
We're starting to see some clouds, and we're having gusty winds.

Friday 11:30 AM
A little good news (for us) the storm turned a bit in the night. At least now we will probably be on the clean side. We'll still have hurricane force winds and lots of rain. They are saying everyone in the region is going to get that because this storm is just so wide. I think they were saying hurricane force winds 100 miles out and Tropical Storm force winds another 200 miles out. Something that big is just unfathomable. We have battened down the hatches. They've told us to get all our prep done this morning because we're going to start seeing rain soon. Landfall is expected between 2-4 AM Saturday morning. I hear there are places in Galveston where the first floor is already under water. If you look at Galveston on a map, you'll understand why they don't want anyone on that island fort this storm!

I took pictures of the house all boarded up. (I've now posted these bellow.) Robert is cutting boards now to board up some windows for the neighbor and we're nearly done moving everything from the backyard into the garage. The house feels so gloomy and depressing with the windows boarded up... but I know once it starts to howling I'll be so glad for those boards.

We boarded up all the windows downstairs except for the back door - couldn't figure out what to nail into - the window in that door is Plexiglas. We also couldn't cover the big window above the front door - it's a big arching thing.

Ike Photos

Click photos for larger view

7:57 PM it's getting windy - it's getting dark so these will be the last pictures for tonight.

7:30 Looking North - still some blue sky showing thru.

7:30 Sunset looking West.

6:00 PM Looking North - no rain yet, here.

Boarded Up

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Yesterday (Thursday)- it was over 100 degrees while we were working.
We were able to use Plylox clips on all the windows with brick.

How do you get all your patio furniture PLUS a Van into the garage?
You load everything you can INTO the van including the Charcoal Grill.

You can see the sky is already getting dark about 1:00 PM on Friday.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Staying In Place

We are not in a mandatory evacuation area.
We are being told to Hunker down.

Local News Online can be found at

Ike Tracker

Pray for the region.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Treasure Life Silhouette Cards

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All supplies by Close To My Heart
Stamp Sets: Treasure Life, Say It In Style
Colors: Black, Bamboo, Desert Sand
Silhouette Paper Packet
On the striped paper I random stamped leaves in Bamboo Ink and sponged the edges with black ink. Ribbon is from the Black Ribbon Round. I also used a black bigger brad, paper flower and sparkles.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Take Flight Owl Halloween Card

I love this card. My favorite thing about it is the moon, how the layers overlap and how it is cut off at the top.

I did make this card last year so it was hard to remember what I did, but I had a lot of questions about how I got the owl to look like this. So I went back into my stamp room with the card and fiddled on my desk pad to figure out precicely which colors I had used on the owl. I stamped the owl on Colonial White Cardstock - that is part of why he looks richer, it's not stamped on stark white. I stamped him in Chocolate Ink - (also a richer, warmer look than black ink.) Then I scribbled his feathers here and there to kind of shade him up a bit with a Bamboo Marker. Originally I was trying to make him (her?) look like Hedwig but I found the browns worked better for getting a good look on the owl with these papers so I let go of that concept. I colored his eyes with a Garden Green Marker. His feet and beak are Autumn Terracotta Marker. The branch was chalked I sponged the edges of the tag with Terracotta Ink, this helped the tag look less flat and disguised the fact that most of the owls body was the same color as the tag.

All Supplies by Close To My Heart
Stamps: Take Flight, Frightening Fun, Tag Stamp
Enchanted Paper Pack
Colors: Colonial White, Autumn Terracotta, Sunflower, Pansy Purple, Olive, Garden Green, Bamboo

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Dinner: Maple Orange Chicken Breasts

I made this tasty new recipe on Saturday night. This recipe is from a special publication (magazine) called America's Test Kitchen Fast & Fresh 64 suppers 30 minutes or less. I decided to try this recipe first because it called for fresh thyme and I still had some in my fridge from making Lemon Dijon Chicken.

I have found that recipes which require a quick sear on the meat in a fry pan and finishing in the oven, are easy on me and generally quite tasty. I used a nice heavy Lodge (American Made) cast iron skillet. Food in a non-stick skillet can not rival the lovely browning you get in cast iron. browning tastes good and builds flavor. Think of a plain piece of white bread & butter, it's OK, but toast it, get it nice and brown - and it's even better. Pan sauces take advantage of all the flavor you usually leave in the bottom of the pan, all those flavor packed little brown bits.
So enough snobby food talk. On to the recipe!

Maple Orange Chicken Breasts

1/2 cup maple syrup
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
4 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts, halved crosswise (hmmm I missed that detail)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1) Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 475 degrees. Whisk maple syrup, mustard, zest, vinegar, and thyme in medium bowl. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.

2) Heat oil in large heatproof skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Cook chicken, skin-side down, until well browned, about 5 minutes. Turn chicken skin-side up and transfer skillet to oven. Cook until chicken is deep golden brown and cooked through, about 15 minutes (it took about 25 minutes with the whole chicken breasts.) Transfer chicken to plate and tent with foil.

3) Wearing oven mitt (pan handle will be very hot), pour off any fat in skillet. Add maple mixture to pan and cook over medium heat, scraping up any browned bits, until thick, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Off heat, return chicken to skillet and coat with glaze. Serve with mashed sweet potatoes.