Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Hundred and One (1-16)

I love Enger’s descriptions of The Hundred and One. If you’ve ever seen the Broadway musical “Annie Get Your Gun” or the more recent movie “Hildalgo” then you know what the old west shows were reported to be like. Apparently The Hundred and One was just such a show; sharp shooters, monkeys and elephants, saloon brawls and indian attacks at 6 pm nightly. What a place! No wonder Hood was determined to get there.

Speaking of Hood….why is he using an alias? And how old is he? Do we know? Did I miss that line? At first I thought he was 13 or so, but I don’t think they would’ve taken someone that young with them. Maybe he’s 16. I don’t know. He’s obviously old enough to be a skilled mechanic and old enough to fall in love. But he’s immature in many ways too. His desire for praise, his sullenness and his amazing ability to lie without compunction or premeditation show his youth.

I can imagine how exciting that underwater ride in front of his girl and all of the vaqueros must have been for Hood. What teenage boy wouldn’t want to pull off the most dramatic feat in Hundred and One history? How quickly he went from hero to goat after that, though. Why did he run after punching Ern Swilling? No one would have accused him of murder had he stayed. They all saw the action and knew that the fall, not the punch, broke Ern’s neck. Maybe he ran because he was already running from something else?

Poor Ern. I love these lines about the ill-fated German actor.

“…nature had been ridiculously kind to Ern Swilling—besides his marquee appearance he was strong as a bear with the easy world-beater genetics we were
all to encounter in coming years.”

And then after the accident.

“…he got his first grip on the transformed world; on the fact that he was no longer a sought quantity or screen actor but a handsome young paralytic with no prospects whatever for fame or wealth or for that matter much of a lifespan.”

Medically speaking, I don’t quite understand the whole bit about helping someone breathe by tying a tube around their neck, but nevertheless I think we were all a little relieved when that tube slipped and Ern was released from a life of institutionalized agony.

The Hundred and One seems to have misfortune clinging to it. After Hood’s unfortunate accident and Ern’s untimely demise the entire place is flooded. Buildings are destroyed and livestock killed. Everyone is marooned inside the damp boarding house….including Charles Siringo.

I can’t say that I was surprised the he showed up, but I was shocked that he was Jip, Darlys’ old beau from the Hole in the Wall. How does Glendon keep running in to these people? Texas is a big place, but Glendon runs in to old friends every other day. Apparently he had (and maybe still has) a soft spot for Darlys and not much love for Jip. I don’t know if Siringo really doesn’t remember Darlys or if he does not want to reveal that he and Jip are one in the same. So is he really an outlaw that became a Pinkerton agent or a Pinkerton agent that was undercover as an outlaw named Jip? I don’t know but I suspect that he is 80% outlaw and 20% law man.

As a matter of fact, he isn’t a law man at all anymore. He has no authority whatsoever to arrest Glendon, but I doubt that makes Glendon any safer. Siringo probably wouldn’t hesitate to shoot him on sight, or at least detain him and turn him over to the local authorities in hopes of a large reward…or some major publicity. Maybe Glendon already knows this. I wouldn’t be surprised if he does.

I wasn’t sad that Darlys shot Siringo and I love how the narrator (Monte) just assumes that we know Darlys was the shooter. I fervently hoped that he was dead, but I knew he wouldn’t be. I never suspected that Monte would become Siringo’s personal nurse though. In some ways I’m shocked that Monte could sit there day after day and care for the old man, but on the other hand I know that Monte has a big heart and an even bigger sense of duty and honor…almost to a fault.

That sense of duty leads him to even offer Siringo a ride to the train station. I can’t help but think that that is a big mistake. We’ll see.

Thoughts on “The Fiery Siringo” coming tomorrow.

Friday, November 28, 2008

What's In a Name

I recently found this site that will tell you what your name means. Here are my results. As you can see it isn't 100 % accurate.

What Crystal Means

You are very open. You communicate well, and you connect with other people easily.

Yes, usually.

You are a naturally creative person. Ideas just flow from your mind.

Well, that's true.

A true chameleon, you are many things at different points in your life. You are very adaptable.

Very true. Only Brian knows the real me. I'm good at being what other people want me to be depending on the situation.

You are wild, crazy, and a huge rebel. You're always up to something.

BUZZ! Way off the mark.

You have a ton of energy, and most people can't handle you. You're very intense.

I do have a lot of energy but I don't think I'm intense.

You definitely are a handful, and you're likely to get in trouble. But your kind of trouble is a lot of fun.

BUZZ! Still wrong.

You are a free spirit, and you resent anyone who tries to fence you in.

You are unpredictable, adventurous, and always a little surprising.

I'm somewhat adventurous but I don't think I'm unpredictable or surprising.

You may miss out by not settling down, but you're too busy having fun to care.

BUZZ! This is the opposite of me.

You are the total package - suave, sexy, smart, and strong.

I'm only two of those four. You guess which ones.

You have the whole world under your spell, and you can influence almost everyone you know.


You don't always resist your urges to crush the weak. Just remember, they don't have as much going for them as you do.

Well, that is way off. I almost always resist my urges to crush the weak.

You are a seeker. You often find yourself restless - and you have a lot of questions about life.

To a degree.

You tend to travel often, to fairly random locations. You're most comfortable when you're far away from home.

I do love to travel, but I like being home too.

You are quite passionate and easily tempted. Your impulses sometimes get you into trouble.

Wrong again.

You are usually the best at everything ... you strive for perfection.

They've obviously never seen me bowl.

You are confident, authoritative, and aggressive.

Am I aggressive? Am I?! Hey, I'm asking you a question!

You have the classic “Type A” personality.


You are relaxed, chill, and very likely to go with the flow.

Ummm...isn't this the opposite of the previous statement?

You are light hearted and accepting. You don't get worked up easily.

Sadly, no.

Well adjusted and incredibly happy, many people wonder what your secret to life is.

I hope that's true.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Advent Conspiracy

This year I am thankful that we are simplifying our Christmas and focusing on what really matters.

You can too.

See how here.......

Happy Thanksgiving!!
To see more expressions of gratitude head over to Internet Cafe Devotions and follow the links.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Holiday Cheer

{Pssst.....don't forget to join me tomorrow for a day of gratitude with the women from Internet Cafe Devotions}

You've got to see this hilarious Thanksgiving E-Card I got from my cousin.

My kids made me play it three times in a row for them and they laughed and laughed and laughed.

Now they are running around quoting it.


These Are A Few of My Favorite

Do I have to pick just one?

It's not possible.

I'll just have to submit...well...several.

Bread Pudding (and more recently Chocolate Bread Pudding) is probably my favorite dessert of all time, not just because it is warm and moist and delicious...mostly for sentimental reasons. My Grandma taught me how to make it and it was one of her favorite desserts too.

I'm not much of a cake eater usually but this Tuxedo Cake makes me swoon. Who wouldn't faint over 3 layers of made from scratch chocolate cake filled and covered with real whipped cream and then drenched in ganache?

But the dessert I make most often and enjoy the most is cheesecake. I've already share the recipe for Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars so today I'll share the recipe for the cheesecake I'm taking for our Thanksgiving meal.

Cranberry Cheesecake

1 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 cup cranberry juice
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries

1 cup graham cracker crumbs
3 Tbsp. sugar
3 Tbsp. butter, melted

4 pkgs. (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
3 Tbsp. flour
4 eggs
1 cup eggnog
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract

In a sucepan, combine the first four ingredients; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cook and stir over medium heat for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat; set aside.

In a small bowl, combine cracker crumbs and sugar; stir in butter. Press onto the bottom of a greased 9 inche springform pan. Bake at 325 for 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add four and beat well. Add eggs; beat on low just unti lcombined. Add eggnog and vanilla; beat just until blended. Pour two-thirds of the filling over crust. Top with half of the cranberry mixture (cover and chill remaining cranberry mixture). Carefully spoon remaining cheescake filling over top.

Bake at 325 for 60-70 minutes or until center is almost set. Cool on wire rack for 10 minutes. Carefully run a knife around edge of pan to loosen; cool 1 hour longer. Refrigerate overnight. Remove sides of pan. Spoon the remaining cranberry mixture over cheesecake.

Hope you enjoy it!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Jack Waits (1-17)

Finally, a nice meaty section to examine.

Well, this time around we find out that Glendon was a foster child, for lack of a better term, and a thief.

"No, it's what I always was, it just weighs more, this time around."

Monte seems to want to believe that Glendon is a good person and can atone for all his former mistakes but Glendon keeps trying to make it clear to him that he is indeed not a good person at all. Monte is reluctant to give up his romantic notions about Glendon's past and his future. Maybe the fact that Glendon prays...even over stolen food, is what gives Monte hope.
In fact, the description of Glendon's "salvation" experience pretty much says it all.

"He [Glendon] uttered the prayer a number of times and cried several times, feeling the mercy of God pour out like a cleansing oil upon his limbs, and late in the day he arose and ate a sustaining meal of frijoles with side pork and rode out from the Hole with his friends and robbed the Union Pacific as it climbed the Wyoming foothills."

He wants to change but he feels powerless to do so. He is just one of many who are repentant but lack the real devotion to makeover their lives.

The series of events with the snapping turtle was interesting. First of all hauling a snapper around in a small boat, even if he is surrounded by rocks, does not sound like a smart thing to do. But I guess it paid off in the end, as the snapper drug one of their pursuers down to a watery grave. (And by the way who was that? Not Siringo. But who?) Maybe the snapper was paying them back for not cooking him alive (as Monte suggested) and giving him the chance to be free.
I loved it when, after seeing the "bad guy" drown in the river with the turtle pulling him down, Monte says,

"Belatedly it seemed my finest virtue was the distance I had maintained from
death; now I had this freight to carry and no place to lay it down."

I feel exactly the same way, although I didn't come to the realization belatedly. I've always known how blessed I was to never have experienced the death of someone close to me. My Dad's best friend was the closest person to me to have died (and young and tragically, at that). I always knew that I was, fortunately, missing out on a normal human experience. But when my Grandpa died last year I joined the club; the gang of people that travel the earth with only a portion of their hearts because some small (or maybe large) segment has already moved on to heaven. It is a weight to carry that can't be laid down and it makes death seem closer and ready to strike again at any minute.

At the beginning of this section Monte says that he crossed the line when he stepped off the Davies dock to follow Glendon once again, but I disagree. I think at that point he was still just following his curiosity and was swept up in a sense of adventure. After all several times after that he considered turning back. I think it was when he saw his reflection in the window at Revival that he crossed the line. When he identified himself as someone who looked, "capable", "wary", and "of dubious intent", someone that Grace Hackle would admire instead of the "well-meaning failure, a pallid disappointer of persons, a man fading" he was hooked. He could never go back to be being a struggling author after seeing the fugitive outlaw hidden within himself.

As with any line written by Leif Enger there were several great descriptions in this section.
If you've ever driven through Kansas you immediately identified with these passages:

"Plain describes it nicely, both as grassy tableland and unadorned prospect. It's wide and there you have it. To one born amid forest and bluff on the upper Mississippi, Kansas is so wide and its sky so flat it's disturbing."

"I still hungered for a hillside or building to break the tedium. Sculptors call this relief and they are right. I learned to take pleasure in the windmills spinning bravely along the route, announcing farms."

"Before the windmill there wasn't no Kansas."

I'm uncomfortable with all of that open land too. And no radio stations for miles. I'm also uncomfortable with the dry West. Driving for miles and seeing only the smallest bit of dusty olive green in an endless see of brown is disconcerting. I need green in my life. Even in winter there is still some green around here.

I also loved the description of Siringo's demeanor.

"...[he] propped himself in the position of Visiting Bard and told stories."

So, who was in the boat that tried to run them down? What do you make of the name Jack Waits? How do you like the book so far?

Oh, I guess I didn't event mention Hood Roberts, but I like him and he's now my number one suspect for "so brave, young and handsome". What did you think of him?

Potato Dumpling Soup

One of my favorite sources for recipes are the Midwest Living and Southern Living Magazines. My aunt subscribes to both of them and hands them down to me when she is finished. I didn't realize for a while that they often have the same recipes. I had actually cut out and saved the recipe for this soup twice. Once from each magazine.

It sounded good on paper and it is good. As in rich and creamy and delicious good. It is a meal all by itself and is perfect on a cold winter's day. The magazine says that it is a favorite of diners at Kroll's restaurants throughout North Dakota. I can believe it. They need stuff like this to get them through the winters up there I'm sure.

I hope you enjoy Potato Dumpling Soup.

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 egg, slightly beaten
2/3 cup milk
1 Tbsp. butter
1 med. onion, chopped
2 med. potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 14 oz. cans low sodium chicken broth
2 bay leaves
1 1/3 cups whipping cream, half-n-half or light cream
1 1o 3/4 oz. can condensed cream of chicken soup
1/4 tsp. pepper

1. For dumpling dough: Stir together flour, salt and baking powder. In a separate bowl mix egg and milk. Add to flour mixture and mix well. Cover and set aside.

2. For soup: Melt butter over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until tender. Add potatoes, broth and bay leaves. Bring to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Drop rounded teaspoons of dough into the soup (don't worry if dumplings touch). Return to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 10-15 minutes or till potatoes are tender and dough floats when done.

3. Combine cream, chicken soup and pepper; add to potato mixture. Cook and stir 5 minutes or till heated through. Remove bay leaves.

Makes 6 side dish servings or 4 full servings.
For more great kitchen tips and recipes head over to Tammy's coming to you from Seattle, Washington.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Old Desperate (1-6)

"Why was I a slave to sentiment when it failed me so reliably?"

Its kind of nice to hear a man feel this way. I feel like sentiment fails me daily because the people around me (mostly males) don't get it. It is sweet to see how much Monte and Susannah love each other.

I must say that I was pretty surprised when Franco recognized Glendon on the train and told the policeman. I thought they might get a little further on their journey before the law caught up with them. I had already assumed that Glendon was a former train robber from the riddle he told Redstart in the first section. He said that he had been on 10 (?) trains that had been robbed but he had never had a single thing stolen. That screams train robber to me.

I was equally surprised when Glendon jumped from the train and left Monte alone. I didn't see that coming. Nor did I imagine that Monte would go home with the detective and enjoy his time there. I see that we are getting a little of the same idea that was present in "Peace Like a River"; the idea of a policeman as someone that you naturally dislike and run from but the realization that they can be very charming and kind men if you just get to know them.

I loved Monte's review of "The Pestilence of Man".

"...a number of momentous ideas, namely that war is difficult, and that poverty
is difficult too; in fact, that much of human experience is marked by
difficulty. I don't remember who is at fault."

It sounds like a few books I've read; so preachy that at the end of it you can't even figure out where it all began and what you are supposed to do about it. It kind of makes me think of "The Grapes of Wrath". The basic point of that book seems to be that governments are cruel and life is crueler, with no hope of change. Sounds rosy doesn't it?

Well, that's it for this section. More on "Jack Waits" coming up soon....maybe tomorrow. Let me know what you thought.


My sister already finished the book and said she liked it more the further along she read. She also said she didn't like Glendon's character and that the parts of the book that don't' involve him are the best parts. She also said she wasn't sure who "so brave, young, and handsome" refers to. So keep an eye out for those ideas as well.

Manic Monday

Friday, November 21, 2008

This is What I'm Talking About

Several of you have asked me how teaching Sunday School is going.

Well....I'm in my 6th week now teaching on materialism and stewardship and it's going.....OK.

I enjoy it and preparing the lessons has really helped me to examine my beliefs and firm up my position on certain topics. But I had no idea people would be so resistant to the idea of using God's money for His purposes instead of for their own.

I related how I hate my master bedroom because it is incredibly ugly and not completely finished and mismatched and stained, etc, etc, etc, but that I can't justify remodeling it when that money could be used by God to do so much for His kingdom. Having a nice bedroom would only benefit me and my husband, for a while until it went out of style, but God could use that money to change someone's life for ETERNITY. Who would choose the bedroom?

Well, apparently all kinds of people. I got arguments like, "But you'll rest better and feel more relaxed if you have a nice bedroom" and "As long as you aren't going in to debt to do it and you aren't taking food away from your kids to do it I don't see anything wrong with it". I even had one lady say, "Look, I've got a bunch of left over paint from my family room in my garage. You can have that and at least paint it a nice color." Some people seemed down right upset that I was "suffering" with an ugly bedroom and said flat out that I should paint it.

Apparently all of the discussion about the difference between wants and needs went in one ear and out the other. A child in Haiti needs vaccinations. I want a pretty bedroom. Which do you think God cares about more?

When I got to the lessons about Earth Stewardship and the way our greed for material possessions adversely effects the world God gave us to sustain us it got even uglier. I was pretty discouraged after last week. I wasn't getting the point (the point being that we need to be appreciative of the money and resources God has given us and use them, but not overuse them, being sure to provide as much as possible for those less fortunate instead of just stuffing ourselves) across and frankly I felt a little bit attacked. I have one more lesson to sum it all up and show the class how seeing money, oil, electricity, wood, etc as gifts from God not "certain unalienable rights" meant to be consumed as fast as possible, makes us more grateful and giving people.

And then this morning I came across a link to a real life story that completely sums up what I have been talking about all along. Read this story of how one family helped the poor at great personal sacrifice and became rich in the process. (Note: Pay attention to the amount given by each family in the church.)

I couldn't have said it any better.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Holiday Traditions

If you've noticed the flashing button on my sidebar you probably know by now that today kicks off a months worth of posts about the Holidays.

I'm participating in a Holiday Expo sponsored by Internet Cafe Devotions. Every Thursday I will be sharing another aspect of the holidays here in the Grove home. If you want to check out the tips, stories and recipes from the other contributors just click here and follow the links.

Now, to get started....

Before I begin I must tell you all that I am doing this post in secrecy. My husband considers Thanksgiving to be the best holiday of the year and feels that it gets majorly overlooked because of it's position between Halloween and Christmas. He does not allow us to acknowledge the Christmas season in our home (no decor, music, etc) until after Thanksgiving. So....I have to do this post on the sly and hope he doesn't find out about it until it is too late. Sorry, sweetie.

Now, to really get started....

One of my favorite traditions happens way before December 25th. Every year on the first or second weekend of November I gather with 20 or 30 other friends from church and we make our own homemade Christmas cards. And I'm not talking about 10 or 15 cards here. Some years I've made 80 or 90 cards! And here is the best part....its all FREE. Yes, completely, totally, 100% FREE!

A wonderful lady in our church offers these card making days as a ministry. She provides all of the stamps, ink, paper, envelopes and tools you could ever need...and she doesn't just do it at Christmas. We meet for one weekend every other month to make cards to our heart's content. I make all of my own birthday, get well soon, sympathy, Valentine's Day, Easter, Halloween and Thanksgiving cards too. (I'll obviously use any excuse to send a card.) But the Christmas weekend is special.

We have wassail and lots of treats to eat. There are door prizes every hour and we stamp cards for 6 hours on Friday night and 8 hours on Saturday. We try new ideas and copy out of magazines and off of each other. We laugh and joke and work our fingers to the bone. I usually make several different styles because I get bored making 60 of the same card.

Here are three of the nine styles of cards I did this year:

At the end of the weekend my back is killing me but I've got all of my FREE handmade Christmas cards, complete with decorated envelopes, ready to go. It is really an awesome tradition and my friends and family enjoy getting my special cards every year and I have a blast making them. What could be better?

Come back next Thursday to share in our day of Gratitude.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Persecuted Church Update

There is another update on The Persecuted Church up at We Are THAT Family.

If you've been following the story of this family from Uzbekistan and their ministry you'll want to check it out.

If you haven't read the story yet you really should. It is amazing. You can find links to the entire story over on Kristin's blog.

A Thousand A Day (Chaps. 1-11)

By the end of the first paragraph I could tell this was a Leif Enger book. The voice coming out of the pages reminds me so much of the narrator of Peace Like a River. He even uses the word "pard", which I think came up several times in the cowboy story in that novel as well. And did this sound familiar to any of you who read Enger's first novel:

This [novel] was about a boy who shoots two intruders in the dead of night and straightaway flees the Law. I had it in mind that the boy become a dangerous western hero along the pattern of Tom Horn. His would be a life of wild horses, of slender escapes, of comrades laid in shallow graves!

I love Monte's descriptions of himself and simultaneous jabs at other authors who may indeed be living "in a hospital for the insane or on a tramp steamer or in Madrid", and therefore consider themselves more literary.

Common blots aside, I have none of the usual Big Artillery: I am not penniless, brilliant, or an orphan; have never been to war, suffered starvation or lashed myself to a mast.

It reminded me of that line in "Singin' in the Rain" where, upon learning that he is fired, Cosmo, the pianist, replies, "Oh good. Now I can start suffering and go out and write that symphony."

I also already like the relationship between father and son that is apparent in this novel as well. The name Redstart is certainly strange but I'm betting it will have a significance later on. It almost seems like an Indian name to me. We'll see if being named after a bird has any significance in the boy's life or not.

Why do you think Monte was so eager to talk to the man in the row boat? A complete stranger. Would you ever stop a complete stranger and let him in to your house? Or have supper with a complete stranger that your son brought home with him...a grown man at that? I can't say that I would ever consider such a thing, but maybe that's why I don't have a very adventurous life.

I was surprised to find that Monte had sold, and is still selling, a successful novel. He describes himself as such a...well...loser. Why was Martin Bligh such a success and why can't Monte repeat the process with a second book? I'm assuming we'll discover the answer to that as we travel along with Monte and Glendon.

It was interesting to see how easily Monte was swept in by fame and flattery from his publisher. (What does it mean that his diction was described by some to be "purple"? I didn't understand that.) I also found it ironic that one of the symbols of his success was his boat. Isn't that so true? People today think that owning a boat that they take out twice a year is a status symbol. Although, I doubt many of them are content with just a row boat, but the idea is the same.

Susannah and Monte seem to have such a nice relationship, but I was sad to find out that he was lying to her about his book. She seems like the type that would understand his writer's block. Why do we hide our failures from the people that we love the most...the people that will undoubtedly overlook them and love us anyway?

From reading the jacket of the book I knew that Monte would "run away" with Glendon but I was shocked that it was Susannah's idea. See? She did accept Monte and show him a way to get his writer's brain going again. I really like her. I hope the story continues to follow Susannah and Redstart as well as Monte and Glendon.

What do you think Glendon's vision of his wife on a horse across the river means? I'm sure it will have a significance later on, as will the boats. I actually think that rivers and boats are going to be very central to this story throughout, but I could be wrong.

Based on the dedication of the book "to the brightest colors I ever saw" and to Monte's description of Susannah's moods and their corresponding colors:

You should know this about my wife: colors are as strong spirits to her. Yellow makes her insouciant, reckless, caustic. The brighter tints of orange render her nearly dangerous. It it's a quiet, confiding talk you're after, by all means wait until her palette is stocked with cooler, more seafaring shades.
I think colors may be a recurring theme as well.

So let me know what you think about this first section and then let's read on and see what happens. A post on "The Old Desperate" coming in a couple of days.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Let the Master Teach You How to Multiply

My sister got Ryker, my 9 year old, Yahtzee for his birthday. He had never played the game before, but he was eager to try it.

That first night we played it three times because he loved it so much...and so did my 5 year old....well for that matter so did my 2 year old, but for different reasons. She's in to anything that involves making lots of noise and thowing small objects.

Anyway, Ryker was really getting into it and starting to catch on to the stategy. The longer we played the more self sufficient he became, and I realized that he was learning something even more important than game strategy. He was really learning his multiplication tables. He started out by asking me what his score would be for 3 sixes and when I stopped answering he resorted to adding 6 plus 6 and then using his fingers to figure out what 6 more was, but after a while I heard him shouting out, "4 fives. That's 20 points."

Since that first night we've played three more times and he's got the multiplication tables 1 thru 6 down pat. If he can just remember what a full house and a large straight are then he'll be a Yahtzee expert...just like me.

Umm....actually I've come in dead last in all 6 games we've played so far. Yes, even behind the 5 year old. I've never been a strong math person, but really, this is ridiculous. Maybe I'll hit my stride when we play with the whole family over Thanksgiving Break...or at least maybe I won't completely embarrass myself. No trips to Vegas for me, that's for sure.

Using Yahtzee to teach the multiplication tables work for me. For more great Works For Me Wednesday tips go to Rocks In My Dryer.

Interesting LInks

Here are some interesting posts I thought you all might enjoy:

Pink Paper Peppermints: Building Cozy (you won't believe it)

Keyka Lou: You Can Recylce Anything....Even a Dog Collar (for thrifty pet lovers)

Rocks In My Dryer: A Letter to the Paparazzi (it'll just make you laugh)


Sincerely, Crystal (owner of a baby "mountain" since 1999)*

*You'll understand that if you check out that last post.

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

I've had several requests lately (since we made homemade pizzas at Ryker's birthday party) for my whole wheat pizza dough recipe. I actually got the recipe from a Weight Watchers Cookbook. It is simple but does take some all yeast breads do. Here it is:

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough


2 tsp active dry yeast

1/4 cup lukewarm (105-115) water

1/4 cup flour

Pizza Dough

1/2 cup fat-free milk

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup whole-wheat flour

1/4 tsp. salt

1. To prepare the sponge, in a large bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the water; when the yeast looks wet, add the four and stir hard. Cover loosely with a damp towel and let stand at room temperature about 40 minutes.

2. To make the dough, stir the milk in to the sponge. In a medium bowl, combine the flours and salt. Add to the sponge and stir to blend.

3. Lightly sprinkle a work surface with flour. Turn out the dough; knead until it becomes elastic and resilient, 10-12 minutes.

4. Spray a large bowl with nonstick cooking spray; place the dough in the bowl; cover loosely with a damp towel and let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in volume, 45-60 minutes.

5. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Punch down the dough; lightly sprinkle a work surface with flour. Roll out the dough to a 14" circle; transfer to a pizza pan or large baking sheet. Arrange the toppings of your choice on the crust. Bake until lightly browned, about 10 minutes.

For more tips and recipes head over to Tammy's Recipes.

Monday, November 17, 2008

It's Here

My copy of the book has arrived.

Review and discussion on "A Thousand a Day" (parts 1-11) coming later this week.

Stay tuned.

Manic Monday

For more great demotivation go to

Friday, November 14, 2008

America Recycles Day

As promised I have a very special post for today.

My own recycling mentor, Linda, is guest posting on my blog.

She has recently launched her own blog, How to Be Green in Greenville, and wrote this great post on the positive impact recylcing can have not only on our planet, but on your own life.

So I hope you enjoy her post and go check out her blog for more great recylcing and green living tips and encouragement.

Lately I have been reading some very negative view points about recycling and how it really doesn't save much of anything. Some nay sayers comment on how much contamination goes into recycling facilities and ends up costing more time and effort than its worth. For example, a contriband plastic bag or shredded paper gets caught in the machine, and it causes the facility hours of work to free up the trapped waste, costing the facility more money than they will ever receive.

Other negative views state that the companies that sell us products packaged in all these containers that need to be recycled, are footing the responsibility to us, the consumers, to clean up their mess. They say, "don't recycle," then maybe these companies will take more responsibility for their messes.

I say this. A lot of people can spend a lot of time griping and arguing about many details pertaining to recycling. One could spin endlessly trying to decided, "should I, or shouldn't I," and never get a black and white answer. Like everything, the system is not perfect. There is contamination in recycling facilities, and people do waste a lot of time and money dealing with the "glitches".

I don't think, however, that these negative friends are taking into consideration the ripple effect that recycling can have on a person's life. By choosing to take action, and to "just start," despite all things that point to why you shouldn't, you will make a difference - for the planet, for yourself, and for others.

Personally, I can attest to this. Our recycling has had profound effects on our lives. We became more mindful of the waste in our lives, and of our own indifference. We live, as Americans, a very shallow, consumeristic lifestyle that says, "it's ok if it's not just right, or too old, or broken, or just outdated - throw it out. You can always get something else". Just seeing the mountain of "trash" that would have been going into our trash cans, was enough to give us pause. "Where is all of this cardboard coming from?" We had no idea that we threw out so much cardboard. "Are we really buying all this stuff?" Lots of children's things are packaged to death, with lots of excess cardboard.

Another example of this was with the cans. "Why are there so many cans? When did we stop eating real food? What does "fresh" taste like? What does our money support if we are not buying locally? Are our eating habits supporting unethical practices abroad?"

Well, I could talk a lot here about this road, but I will keep it short as not to sound too preachy. That's not my intent. Here is a little of our road. Recycling led to less spending... led to realization of consumeristic lifestyle... led to putting God back into first place in our lives... led to releasing our money to God... led to giving like never before... led to relief of poverty over seas and locally ...led to greater desire to give... led to realizing how our actions impact the poor globally... led to wanting to change more...led to composting...led to gardening... led to desire to can our own food... led to greater thankful perspective on the bounty that the earth provides us all... I could go on.

The point, recycling is so much bigger than the actual act. It's that, plus a lot more. Then, when you add the other two Rs of Reduce and Reuse, the impact is even greater. December will be the end of our year of buying nothing new. Another result of the road afore mentioned. Our spending is unrecognizable. We reuse more, and we reduce our trash just by buying less- less packaging.

Yes there are problems with recycling. Yes you could argue that it's not worth it when you throw in all the glitches. But when you look at the global picture of the change that occurs within yourself and your actions, and the impact that you have on friends, family, and biggest of all, your children, there is no question that it is effective, transformative, and in fact, DOES make a difference.

And if you don't buy any of that, buy this---It's just the right thing to do. We don't trash our homes, why would we trash God's earth, the very thing that gives us life and sustains us?

Please join with people all over our great country and make November 15th, America Recycles Day, the day that you begin your journey on your own road. See for yourself what a difference you can make!

Teaching Compassion

Ahhhh, Christmas approaches.

The season of peace, joy and love "I want", "I want", "I want"......

This year we are not playing that game. We are turning our focus away from ourselves and on to God and his work, his plan for us. In my continuing effort to emphasize giving more and wanting less to my kids we are doing a few different things this holiday season.

#1: We aren't exchanging Christmas gifts with my family or each other. We decided just to spend time together skiing as a family. The kids were a little disappointed at first, but the closer it gets to the actual trip the more excited they get. They know that they will still get presents from the other side of the family, so that probably softens the blow a little bit.

Most Christmas gifts are fun but they are also useless. Someone spent a lot of time and money buying us something that, while we will enjoy and appreciate it, we don't really need it. We have more toys and clothes than we could ever use, and aside from food, that's all we need. So Christmas gifts just become another symbol of our selfish desires for unnecessary junk in our lives. We are simplifying here and that is the first step.

#2: We are filling an Operation Christmas Child shoebox. We are having fun finding things from around the house (new, not used) to put in the shoebox, like toothpaste, soap, a shirt, some socks, etc. I also found an unopened can of playdoh and several brand new pencils laying around that we put in the box as well. We've taken one small shopping trip where we spent $3.20 on some small toys for the box as well. We plan to include a note and a picture of our family in the box, too. We're also including a self-addressed stamped envelope so that our new friend can write to us if he wants to. (As an added bonus, Samaritan's Purse is also providing a barcode that you can put on the top of each box so that you will receive notification of the final destination country of your particular box. Isn't that cool?)

If you've never participated in Operation Christmas Child you should. It is a great way to help children around the world through an organization you can trust. It is also a super way to teach your own kids about poverty and our responsibility as the wealthy members of the planet to help those less fortunate. I use this time as a way to emphasize giving instead of receiving. The kids are going to have to give away 2 of their stuffed animals (barely used) to put in the box as well....they just don't know it yet.

#3: We are reading the stories from the Compassion Bloggers that just returned from the Dominican Republic. Compassion International sent a group of bloggers to the Dominican to observe the organization there and interact with the children in the program. These people then write about their trip and let the blogosphere know about all the good that the organization does. There are dozens of heartwarming stories and hundreds of pictures from all of the bloggers, but the one we are reading was written by a child. Nick Challis went on the trip and wrote his own blog about his experience. It is clearly a child's voice coming through the screen and my boys can relate to his feelings and experiences. I hope that this will be yet another exposure to the poor and needy in our world that we need to pray for and help in any way possible. I hope that it makes my children see how incredibly blessed they are to have all that they do, and grow in them a spirit of compassion and giving.

If you'd like to read any of the accounts of the trip here are the sites to check. (In most cases these link just take you to one post in a series so look around for more posts on each site.)

Melanie from Big Mama
Mary from Owlhaven
Marlboro Man from Pioneer Woman (yes, THAT Marlboro Man)
Jennifer from 5 Minutes for Mom
Brian from A Simple Journey
Shaun from Shaun Groves Shlog (yes, THE Shaun Groves)
Nick from Challies Jr. (our child correspondent)

#4: I am signing us up for a time to ring the bell for the Salvation Army. Standing in the freezing cold collecting 59 cents in the course of an hour in front of our small town grocery store will hopefully show the kids how hard it is to support benevolent organizations and how important it is to give to charitable works so that they can reach out to the people that need it when we can't.

I hope that all of my efforts pay off and my kids ask for less realizing how much they already have. My goal is to make them content with what they have....or less than what they have. When they see that lived out in us and in other people around the community and around the world I think they'll get the message.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Get Started!!

Saturday November 15th is America Recycles Day!

If you have been considering joining the recycling bandwagon this would be a great time.

Start reducing, reusing and recycling along with a bunch of other Americans on November 15th.

And don't forget to check back here for a special weekend post about recycling on Saturday too.

Another Blow to My Self-Esteem

Every Monday I volunteer at the elementary school. I alternate between Ryker's 3rd grade class and Cainan's Kindergarten class.

In Kindergarten I usually sit in the back of the room and call the kids back individually for some special one on one instruction. Depending on their level, I drill them on letter identification, sight words, rhyming sounds, etc.

This week I was helping a very cute little girl read a simple story. I read the story and then she would echo back after me, pointing to the words as we went. When we finished the story I said, "Great job reading. Can you please tell Will to come back to see me now?"

And her reply was, "You remind me of my grandma.....that died, " and then she scampered off to find Will.

Aaaaaaaaaagh!!! Blast you, forehead wrinkles!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Speaking of Books......

I've been asked to start a book discussion on my blog by some eager readers.

I love reading and discussing why not?

Starting next week (hopefully, if my copy comes in from the library) I will be hosting a weekly discussion of Leif Enger's latest book So Brave, Young and Handsome.

Here is an excerpt from the front jacket flap of the book:

One of Time magazines top-five novels of the year and a New York Times bestseller, Leif Enger’s first novel, Peace Like a River, captured reader’s hearts around the nation and sold over one million copies. His new novel is a stunning successor—a touching, nimble and rugged story of an aging train robber on a quest to reconcile the claims of love and judgment on his life, and the failed writer who goes with him.

In 1915 Minnesota, Monte Becket—“a man fading, a disappointer of persons”—has lost his sense of purpose. His only success long behind him, Monte lives a simple life with his loving wife and whipsmart son. But when he befriends outlaw, Glendon Hale, a new world of opportunity and experience presents itself.

Glendon has spent years in obscurity, but the guilt he harbors for abandoning his wife, Blue, over two decades ago has finally lured him from hiding. As the modern age marches swiftly forward, Glendon aims to travel back into his past—traveling to California to seek Blue’s forgiveness. Beguiled and inspired, Monte soon finds himself leaving behind his own family to embark for the unruly West with his fugitive guide—a journey that will test the depth of his loyalties, the inviolability of his morals, and the strength of his resolve. As they flee from the relentless Charles Siringo, an ex-Pinkerton who’s been hunting Glendon for years, Monte falls even further from his family and the law, to be tempered by a fiery adventure from which he may never get home.

With its smooth mix of romanticism and gritty reality, So Brave Young and Handsome often recalls the Old West’s greatest cowboy stories. But it is also about an ordinary man’s determination as he risks everything in order to understand what it’s all worth, and follows an unlikely dream in the hope it will lead him back home.

I chose this book because:

1. I've been wanting to read it.
2. I read Enger's first book, Peace Like a River, and absolutely loved it.
3. Everyone else I've talked to loved Enger's writing as well.
4. One of my eager readers wants to read it too.

So, if you are interested in joining us all you have to do is pick up the book at your local library or book store. You can purchase it for $8.22 at If you live in my area there are approximately 15 copies available through interlibrary loan. There is also an audio book version out there if that is more your style.

Once you have the book...start reading. I'll post on each chapter and then the comments section will be open for you to add your own insights about the story. Feel free to make comments, pose questions or list favorite quotes. I will post at the rate I read...which is relatively fast....but you can read at your own pace and read the posts as you get to them. There is no rush. If you read faster than I do you are out of luck. Sorry.

Each post that is a book discussion post about So Brave, Young and Handsome will have this picture at the top.

This will let my regular readers (who are not joining in on the book discussion) know that they can skip this post and move on to the next one.

This is all just an experiment. I've participated in blog book discussions before but I've never hosted one, so we'll see how it goes. We may have to tweek things as we go.

I hope you can join us.

Bookless and Bored

I'm between books. I hate that.

I just finished The Grapes of Wrath (read my review here) and my next two books haven't come in from the library yet. In an effort to be more financially responsible and have fewer material possessions I do not have any books in my home that I have not read. And I'm not a re-reader.

So that means that my few moments of peace and down time are filled with TV. Yuck! There really isn't much on that I want to watch and sometimes I just feel like reading anyway, even if there is an interesting show on TV.

So what's a person to do?

Laundry. Dishes. Scrapbooking. Sewing. Bathroom cleaning. Dog bathing.

Yeah, yeah. Besides all that.

Read blogs!

Yep, I've found an awesome romance novel on a blog to read. The writing is excellent and it is just full of cliffhangers at the end of each episode. Even is a true story. You've gotta love that.

For many of you this will come as no surprise because this is probably one of the most widely read blogs on the planet, but for those of you who are a little late to the game (like me apparently) here is the scoop.

The Pioneer Woman, in honor of their 11th anniversary last year, wrote an entire series of posts about her relationship with her husband. From the first moment they met until.......well I don't know when, becasue I haven't finished it, yet. It is a hilarious and touching story about a city girl on her way from LA to Chicago to continue her high powered law degree who unexpectedly falls madly in love with a cowboy. A real life working cowboy. With a ranch and everything. There is a dog death, an obsessive ex-boyfriend, a lot of cows, a semi-truck, a car wreck and a heap of huggin' and kissin'. And get this.....the series is entitled, "Black Heels to Tractor Wheels". Isn't that cute?

Ree (the PW herself) has been writing posts in the series sporadically for a year. Lucky for me there are dozens of them already so I don't have to sit on pins and needles and wait for the next one to show up like her daily readers did. Judging by their comments they were getting a little obsessive themselves as they begged for another installment that would answer all of their burning questions. (Oh my goodness! This is a soap opera isn't it? Only without the amnesia and long lost least so far. Oh well, I like it and I'm gonna keep reading it!)

A friend had told me how exciting the series was but I had never taken time to read it until just the other night when I was out of reading material. I laid in bed with Brian's laptop for two hours and did nothing but read those old posts. I loved it! I didn't want to stop and go to bed (when he got home from the Elder's meeting at 11:45 pm!!!!!, but that's another topic). Now I can't wait for nap time today so that I can see what happens now that Ree has wrecked her car while giving her future mother-in-law a ride to a cattle drive. Did I mention it is the first time they have ever met each other? Yeah, I told you it was funny.

Click over and read a few episodes.....but make sure you have plenty of time because you won't want to put this book away from this know what I mean.


Is 8:30 too early for nap time?

For more great tips check out Works for Me Wednesday at Rocks in My Dryer.
BTW: If you are interested in joining me in a book discussion blog check out this post.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Potluck Pleaser

As the holidays approach we all have gatherings that require us to bring along a hot dish. I personally almost always bring some sort of yeast bread or rolls or a cheesecake or another dessert....mostly because that's what I like the best and other people don't seem to want to make that kind of thing.

But, homemade bread and super rich cheesecakes are not necessarily easy on the budget. I've recently discovered a cheap potluck dish that is easy to make and pleases the crowd. My friend Lucia made this for a cast party we attended and everyone raved about it. And all of the ingredients cost just a few cents (except the bacon). It takes the standard baked beans just a little further. I give you Lucia's Bean Bake

Lucia's Bean Bake

8 slices of bacon (cooked and crumbled)

1 c. brown sugar

1/2 c. cider vinegar

1 tsp. dry mustard (or 1 Tbsp. regular mustard)

1/2 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. garlic powder

4 large onions

3 15-oz cans of beans (choose any combination of the following lima, butter, kidney, white, pinto, black, green)

1 15-oz can of baked beans (not pork'n beans)

Mix sugar, mustard, garlic salt, salt and vinegar. Place sliced onions & vinegar mixture in pan. Cover and cook for 20 minutes. Drain all beans, except the baked beans. Place in a 9x13 pan. Cover with vinegar/onion mixture and crumbled bacon. Bake 1 hour @ 350.

For more Kitchen Tips and recipes head over to Tammy's Recipes.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Friday, November 7, 2008

Sugar Rush

At Grandma and Grandpa's Place.....

...there were always a lot of sweets....not necessarily for us. Mostly for Grandpa. But he always shared.

Grandpa had a massive sweet tooth. As a matter of fact the sweets had claimed most of his teeth and for many years when I was little he had only his two eye teeth left (and he was only 50 years old!). He finally lost those too and got a nice set of false teeth....that he only wore to church and for eating meat. But I digress.

Grandpa should have owned stock in Hostess. He loved Hostess pies the best but he appreciated all of their products. There were always half eaten pies wrapped up and laying on top of the fridge, accompanied by one of those two packs of the square cinnamon rolls with the gooey cherry filling in the middle. What are those called? Next to them there would most likely be a few candy bars, too.

But one of Grandpa's all time favorites was the Oreo cookie. He ate Oreos every single day. He would break 4 or 5 of them up into an aluminum glass filled with cold milk and then eat the whole soggy mess with a spoon. (I still eat my Oreos that way to this day.) He loved Oreos so much that we started giving them to him for Christmas. What else did he need? What else would he enjoy more? Someone even gave him an Oreo throw pillow that looked just like the blue Oreo package, that adorned his chair for years.

Then one day he just stopped buying them. He went cold turkey. We couldn't believe it. Where were the Oreos!? They had gotten too expensive. Yep. If there was anything Grandpa loved more than sweets it was a bargain. And despite his great love for that creamy center he wouldn't over pay for it. So that was it. I never saw him buy an Oreo again...and we're talking years with no Oreos.

(Of course we are talking about the man who only 2 years ago bought a motorcycle that only had one handle bar because it was a great deal. He claimed he could find a one armed man to buy it off of him.) His search for cheap forms of sugar took him down many paths actually.

I was there in person for his experiment with diet soda. Grandpa's drink of choice was always Pepsi. He called it his "medicine" and made a great big "ahhhh" sound after each swig. But Pepsi wasn't on sale this particular week, Diet Pepsi was. So what is any cheap sugar-aholic gonna do? Buy Diet Pepsi and put sugar in it, of course.

Yes, long before Diet Coke and Mentos was ever thought of, I saw what a tablespoon of sugar dumped in to a bottle (remember glass soda bottles?) of Diet Pepsi would do. It was like he'd been shaking that bottle for half an hour. It immediately started fizzing and spraying all over Grandma's kitchen. Of course Grandpa thought that was hilarious. I wonder what he did with the other 5 bottles in the pack? I'm sure he didn't drink them. Diet and Grandpa did not get along at all.

Despite his great love for all things sweet, when asked which food he would choose if he knew he could only eat one thing for the rest of his life his reply was, "Gravy."

On This Date In 1979:
There were no entries in Grandma's diary for November 1st through November 14th. It was the middle of harvest and Grandma was busy with her classes, I guess. So here is the entry from October 29th, 1979:

"Washed clothes and took care of the kids (my sister and I). They ate dinner with Bill at the field. They played out a lot and took a long nap. Tim picked 1100 bushel of corn, Shannon hauled for Irvin Sager."

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Happy Birthday X 2

With a birthday right between Halloween and Election Day what is a 9 year old boy to do?

How about have a Chocolate Truffle Cheesecake with a vote on top for which costume he should dress up in for the party? Ingenious.

Yes, Ryker's party guests had to vote (there were ballots next to the cake) for whether he should wear his Iron Man or Indiana Jones costume during the party.

He always dresses in costsumes for his parties...I guess because they are usually the day after Halloween. But this year he was conflicted about just which super hero (oh yes, in our house Indiana Jones is a super hero) he should be.

When the votes came in Indy won by just one vote, but being the kind kid that he is he wore both costumes during the night so that no one would be too disappointed.

Yes, I know. You are thinking that Ryker had a fresh pumpkin pie for his birthday. That's true. He had two parties. One with my side of the family and one with Brian's side of the family. It is just too many people to have all at once.

My side got to vote and eat Chocolate Truffle Cheesecake (Ryker's special request) after a weiner roast. And Brian's side got to have fresh pumpkin pie and make homemade pizzas (again Ryker's special request). They were not treated to any costumes however, except for Cainan's appearances as Batman and Optimus Prime...but that is such a regular occurence that I'm not sure anyone even notices any more. I know I don't.

It was a fun, but crazy party weekend that left my house trashed and Ryker praying, "Thank you for all of my presents, even though I know that's not what's really important. Thank you that my family was with me."

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Recycling Baby

I guess all of my reducing, reusing and recycling efforts over the past year have really made an impact on my kids.

Not long ago I turned on the faucet to fill a big soup pan that was sitting down in the sink. I then left the room for a minute. It wasn't long before I heard Cainan shout, "Who's wasting water?!"

Not two days later I was watching as Kinley played with one of her dolls. She put the doll in her high chair then got out some play food and started to feed her. She picked up a little pretend box of corn flakes, dumped them in the doll's bowl then marched right over to the closet, opened the door and threw the box into the cardboard recycling bin.

It makes a mommy proud.

And on that note, if you would like to have your very own reusable Target shopping bag go here for details.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

May The Best/Cutest Man Win

Well, the polls haven't closed yet but our family is firmly divided in this election.

When the ballots were cast at school yesterday our sons did not agree on who should be our next president.

Ryker voted for John McCain because he read a story about how he was in the military and captured by the enemy. He felt like this made him a "great man".

Cainan voted for Barack Obama because he "had the nicest face".

Anybody got a better reason to vote for either one of them?

Me neither.

Fresh Pumpkin Pie

I still haven't used all of my apples up yet so there will likely be another apple recipe here next Tuesday, but for a little bit of a switch I thought I'd give you all a pumpkin recipe.

Ryker requested a fresh pumpkin pie for his birthday. By fresh I mean made out of a pumpkin that he picked out of our garden. It really isn't as hard as it sounds and in tastes delicious.

Even if you don't have pumpkins in your garden a lot of places will be selling pumpkins for next to nothing now that Halloween is over. You can pick one up and surprise your family with a homemade pie tonight. Or you can also make the pumpkin pie filling and freeze it until you are ready to make your holiday pies.

Here is how you do it.

1. Cut the top and the bottom off of your pumpkin and scrape out the seeds, being careful not to scrape out too much of the flesh.

2. Peel the pumpkin with a potato peeler and then cut it into 2 in. square chunks.

3. At this point you have a couple of options. If you have a pressure cooker you can dump the pumpkin chunks in there with a little water and let it start pressuring. Once it gets to full pressure just let it cook for 10 mins. and then cool it off and you're ready to go. If you do not have a pressure cooker you can lay the pumpkin chunks on a cookie sheet and bake them in a 350 oven until they are bright orange and extremely soft. This may take up to an hour. Just poke them with a fork to test for doneness.

4. When your pumpkin is soft use your electric mixer to mush it all up into a pie filling consitency. You will need 2 cups of mashed pumpkin for this pie recipe, so reserve that out and then put the rest into freezer containers and let it cool before you place it in the freezer.

5. That's it! Now proceed with your favorite pumpkin pie recipe or use this one.

Fresh Pumpkin Pie

2 cups fresh pumpkin, mashed
1 can evaporated milk
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
1/4 brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg

In a mixing bowl beat eggs. Add milk and vanilla. Combine sugars, cinnamon and nutmeg in a bowl. Add to egg mixture. Stir in pumpkin. Beat until smooth. Poor into prepared crust. Bake at 425 for 15 minutes. Then reduce heat to 350 and bake for 30 additional minutes. Remove from oven when filling is set. Let cool. Refrigerate.

Warning: This pie will not look like a regular pumpkin pie made from canned pumpkin. It will not be dark orange and may even look more like a custard pie than a pumpkin pie. That orange coloring is added to canned pumpkin. But yours will taste just like the pumpkin you are used to...only better.

For more great recipes and kitchen tips head over to Tammy's Recipes.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Manic Monday

I know I've used this one before but I thought it was appropriate for the eve of the election.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Aldi vs. Wal-Mart

In case you've ever wondered if shopping at Aldi is really worth the hassel....

Shannon at Rocks In My Dryer did an item by item price comparrison of Wal-Mart and Aldi and posted the results in spreadsheet format on her blog.

Check it out here.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Reading List

I've been a little behind in my reading list lately but I recently got it all caught up.

If you haven't noticed, I have a list of all of the books I've read in 2008 on my sidebar. I also have a link there to the reviews I have written about those books. If you like to read and like to see what other people are reading then you should check it out.

Click here to see my complete list of book reviews.

And here is a sneak peek at the books I would like to read next:

The Wednesday Letters by Jason F. Wright
The Shack by William Young
Glimpses of the Moon by Edith Wharton
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski
So Brave Young and Handsome by Leif Enger
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Grupery
The Rain Before it Falls by Jonathan Coe
The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai
Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
The Innocent Man by John Grisham

Let me know if you've read any of these and if they are good or not. I don't really know much about any of them except that they were recommended to me in one way or another.