Saturday, September 17, 2016

Pumpkin Muffin Recipe

What better way to start off a Saturday, than pumpkin muffins!  My friend Candice shared this recipe with me years ago.  They are so moist and yummy.  I made a batch last week to share.  Emma and I delivered 4 plates of them to family and friends.  This recipe makes about 24 muffins.  I plan on making more today for my college girl to take back to the dorm tomorrow.  

3 cups flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp soda
4 eggs
2 cups brown sugar
2 cups canned pumpkin
1 1/4 cup oil
1 1/2 cup chocolate chips

In a large bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, salt and baking soda.  In another bowl beat the eggs, sugar, pumpkin and oil.
Stir wet mixture into dry just until moistened-don't over stir!
Fold in chocolate chips.
Pour into greased or lined muffin tins.
Bake at 350 for 15-18 minutes.  Remove to wire rack to cool.
Makes 24 muffins.

Sunday, September 11, 2016


I mentioned in my first post here that we had been through a very rough year and a half.  It's not over yet.  We're still praying for a miracle.  Most of the time I'm pretty optimistic.  I like being the person who smiles all of the time and who likes to laugh.  I love laughter.  Sometimes though, especially when I wake up in the middle of the night, I succumb to despair.  There have been moments when I thought I just couldn't handle anymore. I would curl up and cry and ask God, "Why?  Why do I have to go through this?  I've tried to do everything right."   Have you ever felt that way?

It's been during those times that I've been reminded of a few things.  First of all, I'm not the only one going through a hard time.  It's amazing how God has brought other people into my life to love on me and support me and my family.  Secondly and most importantly, look what Jesus went through for me.  I KNOW he didn't deserve it.  He was everything perfect and kind and good.  He endured for me.

That is why we never give up.  Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day.  For our present troubles are small and won't last long.  Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever.  So we don't look at the troubles we can see now; rather we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen.  For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.  ~2 Cor 4:16-18

I also like what Charles Spurgeon says about difficult times, "Though the harrow go over and over your soul, and the deep plow cut into your very heart; though you be maimed and wounded, and left for dead, yet if the Spirit of God do it, it is a blessing indeed."

I have to keep reminding myself to not give up.  God has a plan.  Recently a friend made this sign for me.  I hung it in my bathroom so I'd see it right before I went to bed and first thing when I awakened in the morning.  It's a reminder to me.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sister, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. ~James 1:2-4


Keep enduring.

I will continue to wait on God.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Alzheimer's Awareness Month-thinking of my momma

September is Alzheimer's awareness month.  This is something very personal to me.  My Momma is 69 and has severe dementia (Alzheimer's is a form of dementia).  When she was in her late 50's she started having symptoms-not remembering recipes that she'd made for years, forgetting her way home from my house, etc.  At first, I refused to accept it.  I just thought there had to be something else wrong that we could fix.  My dad took her from doctor to doctor, sometimes travelling hours to an appointment.  They all came to the same conclusion-dementia.

Things have progressed quicker than we would have ever expected.  Just to give you a glimpse, now she requires 24 hour supervision.  She can't bathe herself or dress herself.  She's totally incontinent.  She walks and walks until she is totally exhausted then starts leaning and will eventually fall if not caught when she goes to sleep.  To get her to eat, you have to keep one foot on her chair to hold her still.  

This is not my Momma.  She always had her hair fixed and her nails done.  Her clothes were ironed and neat.  Her house was spotless!  She was always welcoming and always had home-cooked meals on the stove.  The 2 of us talked on the phone multiple times a day.  Every Saturday we went shopping together.  

Dementia is awful.  I've lost my Momma, yet she's still here and I have to see her all of the time. I'd like to think she still knows me.  There seems to be a glimmer of recognition in her eyes when she sees me.  She never says my name, yet she will hug me back when I hug her.  

A few years ago, I felt this was more I could handle.  Then I was reminded of 1 Thessalonians 5:18 Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.  That's when I reevaluated.  What a blessing to still have my Momma, despite her condition.  I just needed to love her where she is and help in whatever way I can.

My girls and I go over weekly to clean for my dad.  He doesn't ask us too, it's just a way I feel I can help.    As I said before, Momma liked a clean house.  This is a way I feel I can honor her.  I scrub and bleach and sweep.  My girls help without complaining.  We hug on her as she walks by.  We bake for her (to try to help her gain weight) and pick flowers to place on the table because I think she might enjoy their beauty.  

Just recently my dad was shown a fidget quilt or busy quilt and he asked me if I could make one for Momma.  Of course I could!  I love to sew and I would do anything that might help her.  The whole idea with this is to give her something to keep her hands busy.  I had everything I needed to make it right here in my home.  I used bright colors, because they are her favorites.  

First of all, I included some sentimental items.  My Granny (who I adored) loved to make yoyo's.  I thought maybe these would jog Momma's memory a bit and maybe give her a happy feeling.   The chenille would add another texture that would maybe stimulate her.  

After much research on Pinterest, I added several other squares that I thought might stimulate her and help with all of her nervous energy. 

I sewed a pocket with some keys.  This was actually the first thing she went for!

Then I knew she must have beads.  Momma loved jewelry.  This is actually the second thing she played with.  

I also included some lacing.  Being sure to sew the laces down securely so they wouldn't get lost.  

Last was a book that shuts with velcro and a zipper (off to the left).  Not pictured is a square with lace to move around, 2 satin hearts with ribbon tails to add even more texture and a bath pouf!  Just because it was pretty and feels good.  
I quilted around each square then added stippling on the boarder.  This was an act of love for me and also therapy.  I'm so hoping  Momma will get pleasure from this little quilt.  On the other hand, it helped me feel proactive with this awful disease.  I've felt so helpless, yet now this may bring a bit of happiness.  

This walk with dementia has taught me how to love my momma where she is (and others where they are).  Also to find joy in the moment and never, ever take anything for granted.  I'm so thankful for my momma.  I know too that God has allowed me to go through this for a reason.  It's a growing time.  


Monday, September 5, 2016

3 Weeks Abroad in a Carry-On

When I first married, I had only traveled to a handful of states and out of the country only with the Army.  When our youngest was 2, we set out for Europe for a month.  Boy did we have lots to learn!  First of all, we over packed...seriously over packed.  We not only had the 2 year old, but a 7 year old and 9 year old.  Oh, and we traveled exclusively by train to 4 different countries.  You live and you learn.  Now 10 years later with passports full of stamps, we're a bit wiser.

First lesson was only to use carry-on bags.  I don't even know the number of times the airline has lost our bags.  One trip was when we were in Colorado with 2 extra children to go skiing and no coats because the bags were lost!  Also, when traveling by train, it just doesn't make sense to bring big, heavy bags.  I know, I've been there.  You are personally responsible for finding a spot for your bag and getting them on and off the train with no assistance (in a matter of minutes).

I've learned how to condense what I take and make pieces work together.  I should have said earlier, I'm no fashionista...not at all!  I just want to blend in and look relatively pulled together.  I've also learned that when going to other countries to not wear bright colors or prints.  When in doubt, wear black.  Always.  I've never gone wrong with that from Europe to South America to Canada.

I thought I'd give you a look at what I packed for this last trip to Europe with my girls.  I should preface this by saying that we were doing a lot of outdoor activities.  Nothing fancy at all.

Here are my 2 favorite bags.  I've had my Brookstone rolling bag for years!  It has been the best thing.  I've purchased other bags and they've always had issues.  Not this one.  Plus, so much fits inside!  What do you think about the Duluth shoulder bag?  I love this bag!  It is so functional.  Maybe not fashionable, but very useful.  First of all, it has a pocket that slides over your rolling bag handle.  This is so nice when your running through the airport because your bag doesn't slide off.  Secondly, it has a ton of pockets!  Seriously a place for everything including an iPad or a small laptop.  I use this bag to hold my iPad (with the Kindle app so I don't have to bring books), my travel Bible and journal (not pictured),  headphones,  a travel size umbrella (I have needed it on several trips, plus mine has a strap to hook onto your purse), a note book and pen, sunglasses, ear plugs and eye mask and a  reusable bag (lots of countries charge you for shopping bags.  I always bring my own.) Most importantly are my snacks.  lol!  Tied on the outside of my bag with a Coach scarf is my pillow-a necessity for a long flight.  

Another thing in my Duluth bag is my water bottle.  I drink a lot of water and I especially get thirsty on long flights.  On this trip, we were renting a car and then going to be doing lots of walking.  I didn't want to have to buy water every day.  Instead we purchased these collapsible Platypus bottles.  They're BPA free and hold up to 1.0 liters!  Perfect for traveling.  

Of course, all of my liquids needed to be easily accessible so I put them in my Duluth bag.  I packed all the liquids inside a plastic bag.

Besides the typical toiletries, I also packed essential oils.  The ones I always take on trips are Di-Gize-for stomach issues, Lavendar-to sleep and for skin irritations, Thieves-congestion and colds, Pan-away and Deep Relief for muscle aches and headaches and Stress Away for obvious reasons and because it's my favorite.  

Now onto my Brookstone bag.  Here's what's inside:

We were in Europe (Switzerland and France) in May.  We experienced a wide range of temperatures, mostly chilly though for us southern girls.  

I packed all casual clothes.  3 long sleeved shirts and 2 short sleeved.  These were all thin fabric that was easy to rinse out in the hotel room and then hang to dry.  

I had 3 pairs of jeans-skinny, black and straight legged.

2 dresses that were only worn in Bordeaux because it was too cold in Switzerland.  I paired the first with my denim jacket and the striped one with the white button down, tied at the waist.

The black North Face was worn almost daily!  It was the most practical item that I brought.  As I said earlier, the denim jacket was worn with the dress and the scarf was only worn on the plane.  

Now for the shoes.  I go for comfort with shoes, all the way!  The 2 pairs of flats are Lucky Brand.  They are the most comfortable flat I've ever worn.  Very cushy inside.  We did lots of walking and my feet never hurt in these.  The leopard pair are almost worn out, but I just love them and they really liven up my black, blah outfits.  The platinum pair were new for this trip and go with absolutely everything.  Plus these shoes take up hardly any room in my luggage.  Now onto the LL Bean boots.  I almost didn't bring them.  Then I found some space in my bag.  I am SO glad I included them!  The day we visited Rhinefall it was cold and raining.  My feet would have been wet and frozen in anything else.  

These little compression bags were a life saver!  The large bag fit my jeans, spaghetti strap shirts and PJ's.  The smaller one held all of my tops and underthings.  This was my first time to use these.  I'll definitely buy more!

I always bring along this little cross body Coach bag.  It matches almost anything I wear, looks cute and is oh so practical.  The red Duluth wallet is a must!  It clips to the inside of your purse and has slots for your credit cards (with a leather strap that snaps over and secures them in place), a spot for your license and a zipper pocket for your cash.  

The rest of my make-up and accessories fit in these bags.  I also have this handy flat iron bag that  a friend made for me.  

So, there you have it!  Three weeks in a carry-on for the practical traveler who doesn't have any "fancy" destinations.  What do you think?  I would welcome any ideas for my future trips.