Snapshot Memories
I wish very often that my eyes could be a camera. I see so many perfect snapshots throughout my day - the migrant workers sitting in the early morning sun, waiting to pick pumpkins; that would have been a beautiful photo. Or, if I could have captured Eliza's beautiful smile when she first saw me this morning, her clothes perfectly rumpled and sleep lines carved into her skin; Daniel walking down the sidewalk hand in hand with Judah and Eve... There is so much I see that I wish I could capture with a camera. Instead they turn into memories.

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Here are a few word snapshots of my day...

Money scattered all over the road, a bright pink envelope, and me picking it all up - thrilled that I remembered I put it on the top of the car so I could turn around and find it. God doesn't always answer our prayers the way we want Him to, but I am very thankful He answered this one the way I had asked.

My face when I found out we are getting a new neighbor; a look, I'm sure, of panic and hopeful happiness.

A man at the Commissary tipping his hat at me. I don't believe I have ever had a hat tip in my direction before. The hat tipping and subsequent "Good Morning, Ma'am" may have taken place because of the dirty, dirty look I shot his way. He was smoking near my car and it was blowing all over me and my kids. I don't take kindly to that. Though, now that I think of it, I did have my sunglasses on so said dirty, dirty look probably went unnoticed.

The look on Eliza's face when I helped her play a chasing, screaming, laughing game with her older siblings. It was beautiful to see her thrill at being able to play in one of their games.

The anticipation in the eyes of the little boy running to give his mother a beautiful rose I snipped off a bush for him. I might have yelled "Make sure you tell her you love her!" as he was headed towards home.

And not actually from today but one that keeps re-playing in my mind's eye: Judah's sweet face when I asked him if he was lying about spilling water...

"Did you spill the water, Judah?"

"No, Mama."

"Are you lying to me, Judah?"

"Yeth, Mama." His face was upturned, looking at me in complete sincerity. I can't help but smile when I think of it.

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Do you have any snapshot memories you'd like to share? I do hope so, because I would love to read them.

*Post from 1 year ago today: Flower Girl Slideshow
About Those Portraits...
Ya'll had some questions for me, didn't ya! I'll answer them since I am in a generous mood. I sure wasn't earlier! Something about a napless two year old, a very emotional five year old, a fussy nine month old, and a Daddy who had to go to school at 5:30 just didn't put me in a very giving mood. Now that Daddy is home (early, I might add!), and all of our children are asleep, my normal Andrea-ness is restored.

Susie
wanted to know if I print any of my pictures...

I do, occasionally. I have plans for printing a lot of them since I hit the jack pot in the frame department at Hobby Lobby a couple of weeks ago.

Susie also wanted to know if I am the "mommy with red hair" at school.

I don't actually know. I think they probably call me "the baker" since I bring in something delicious and homemade every single Friday. But yeah, they probably do call me "the redheaded mommy." I can never stay anonymous with my hair this color!

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A whole BUNCH of you wanted to know who took the pictures.

I did, with a tripod but without a cable release. It was me behind the camera... me running to the huddle... me hopping up... me running to the camera... me behind the camera... me running back to the huddle... rinse and repeat. I was exhausted by the end of it!!


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Kim wanted to know my aperture.

It was set at 1.4 for all of them. Because it is so pretty that way. AND... there was golf stuff (the NERVE!) in the background that I didn't want to be seen.

Jen E wanted to know if I could fly to New England to take her family's portraits.

Jen, 6 months ago I wouldn't have had to fly because I was living in New England. Now I'm only a plane ticket away! {smile}

Boy, I sure am missing Vermont right now! The leaves, the cider, the fall smell, the maple syrup, the beautiful frosty mornings, the leaves, the leaves, the leaves.

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A couple of you wanted to know how Daniel could get his face to look like it does.

He has a rubber face. Plain and simple.

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And I love him deeply. Rubber face and all.

*Post from 1 year ago today: An Age Old Lesson for a Four Year Old
Family Portraits
Eve is "Star of the Week" in her classroom, starting tomorrow; this honor precipitated a family portrait session. Sounds nice, right?

Um, can I be real clear here... this was HARD work. Three kids to wrangle into a somewhat presentable position and actually stay there?? And then, SMILE? Not so much. But, we did have fun and I was able to capture quite a few really fantastic photos.

I know you're wondering where we found all the GREEN in NEW MEXICO!!

Well... We may have hijacked a hole at the golf course for our photo session, but, thankfully, no one came around to actually use the course for, you know, golf...

We, of course, had to take a serious, everyone smile, photo for her poster:

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Believe me when I say, this was the best one.

But, after all the seriousness we had to take one photo that really captured what we are as a family:

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SILLY!

Poor Eliza. I'm pretty sure she's wondering how she scored so well in the family placement lottery.

Never fear, we'll get to her soon enough.

*Post from 1 year ago today: Eve's First Day of Preschool
The "Andie" Bag
So there I was casually browsing J.Crew's sale; I was checking out the handbags, because I do love a good bag, you know. I don't have any but I love them just the same. I was checking out the Peyton bag (in Almond Flame, thanks), hatin' the Provence large straw bag (gag... that bag is horrid), totally diggin' the "Frankie" bag (in Cherry Guava, naturally) when my eyes fell upon this:



The "Andie" bag. Right there in bold type... It's my bag! My bag! With my name! And, it's red! Of course. Anything else would have been sacrilege to the name Andie, though I do see it comes in charcoal also. Funny, it just happens I am wearing a charcoal colored shirt today so we're all good.

I love everything about this pretty little bag; but how could I not, she's my namesake. So feminine, shiny, and soft, but you can plainly see she carries herself with a little bit of sass...

Unfortunately, the price tag does not follow in the footsteps of all things GREAT about the bag. I forgive J.Crew; they got everything else right on the money.

I have a BAG named after me, ya'll!

No, I'm not a narcissist.... Really.

*Post (rant) from 1 year ago today: When Is Thanksgiving Going To Be Here
Buy One Get One Free: Cinnamon Roll and Honey Oatmeal Whole Wheat Bread
This is such a simple recipe; simple but not quick. It's worth the time, though. These cinnamon rolls are deeply satisfying and very filling. I made mine yesterday and warmed them in my oven for eating this morning. It worked out perfectly.

For these cinnamon rolls I use my mom's bread recipe as the base. This bread recipe is really, really special; my mom has been making this for as long as I can remember and I have been making it for over seven years myself. It's the only bread recipe I ever make, it's that good.

If you would like, you could make half of the dough into cinnamon rolls and the other half into regular rolls; truly, this is the most versatile recipe you could wish for.

Case in point, earlier this week I made this bread recipe and used half for cinnamon rolls and half for mushroom garlic cheese rolls. I just sweetened up the cinnamon roll part with a half a cup of sugar.

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This will be the base recipe for the cinnamon rolls.

Honey Oatmeal Bread:

Mix in your biggest bowl:

3 cups oats (I use 2 cups rolled, 1 cup quick)

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

3 tablespoon salt

6 Tablespoons oil

4 Tablespoons wheat gluten (this is optional but it will make your rolls nice and fluffy!)

Pour over top of mixed dry ingredients:

4 1/4 cups boiling water

3/4 cup honey

In a 4 cup measurer, mix gently and let rest for 5 minutes:


3 Tablespoons yeast

1 1/2 cups warm water

1 Tablespoon honey

Directions:

Mix the dry and the first set of wet ingredients together; let it cool to lukewarm (110-115 degrees). Add in yeast and water mixture. Mix well.

Add in:

5 cups whole wheat flour

5 cups white flour

Stir in flour.
Turn dough onto a well floured surface.
Knead dough for about 5 minutes, sprinkling flour over top as needed.
Continue with this process until the dough is smooth and not sticky.

Wash your big bowl and place 1/4 cup oil in the bottom.
Place dough into bowl, turn dough over and rub so that it is covered in the oil.
Cover bowl with a clean kitchen towel and let dough rise in a warm place until doubled.

Once your dough has risen, punch it down and divide into 4 pieces.

Roll out your first piece into a rectangle - about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick.
Spread 4 tablespoons softened butter evenly onto dough - make sure to get all the way to the edges!
Cover entire rectangle with 1/2 cup of cinnamon/sugar mixture (mixture: 2 cups sugar to 1/2 cup cinnamon).

*This is optional - I always do this because I love the flavor of honey: squeeze about 1/4 cup honey over the top of cinnamon/sugar mixture in a zig zag pattern - don't spread with a knife!!

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Roll long ways - towards your body. Cut rolls about 2 to 2 1/2 inches wide.
Place rolls into cake pans with melted butter in the bottom. I fit about 8-10 rolls per pan.

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Continue this process until all the dough is used.

Cover and let the rolls rise for about 20 minutes. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes or until set in the middle.


PHEW!! Anyone still around?

These rolls are really good, you won't regret the time spent, I promise!!

Labels:

Timeless Toys
I love the "old" toys. You know, the ones that I use to play with; all things Fisher Price, the classic play kitchens (I found one at a garage sale for 15 dollars), Sit n' Spins...

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I found this Sit n' Spin at a church rummage sale for one dollar. I wouldn't have paid more for it - it's pretty gross looking. But, the thrill I had when I saw it! As a child I use to spin on mine like nobody's business. I was a pro. And now, my children spin on one just like mine. Ah, sentimentalism at it's best.

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Eliza was circumspect in her note taking. Of how to spin and what happens when the spinning goes awry. Like this:

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Seven Pans of Cinnamon Rolls
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Seven pans of cinnamon rolls... My house smells like Heaven, I can assure you.

My mom's simple Honey Oatmeal bread recipe sweetened up a touch, butter, cinnamon and sugar mixed, more butter and you have yummy, sorta healthy, very filling cinnamon rolls.

If you have a sweet tooth like me you could drizzle just a bit of icing on the crusty tops... Is there anything better on a sunshiny morning? I think not.
Unbelievably 9 Months
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Pumpkin, meet Pumpkin - aka " Punkin' ".

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Both of you are 9 months old today. Well, to the "Pumpkin" that is orange, it is your proverbial 9 month birthday. Today is your day to be born - your umbilical cord is being cut; it's harvest day! Yay for you! Or something like that. But, I don't want to talk about you, I want to talk about my pumpkin, Eliza Dove...

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I can't believe it's been 9 months. This is undoubtedly my favorite baby age; I love the vibrancy, the sweet awareness, and the excitement for life! There is laughing, lots and lots of smiles, chattering, crawling, plenty of personality... What fun it is to watch Eliza be. She is my constant companion, my heart. I love her, I love her, I love her.

Each day is better than the last; yesterday I had this vision of 2 year old Eliza. And, I do know exactly what she is going to look like, baby Eve and baby Eliza are little clones. In my mind's eye I saw this bouncy little girl with two sprouting pigtails, following after me everywhere I go. It was such a happy thought. I love life with Eliza, she is my sweet thang. My sweet thang with absolutely no teeth. No worries! They'll come soon enough, until then I will continue to love the gummy look.

Happy 9 months, baby girl. We all love you T-H-I-S much!

*Post from 1 year ago today: Tuesday Recipe - Morning Glory Muffins
The Home vs. Stay Question
To go home or not to go home. That is the question that has been rolling around in my head for the last couple of months.

We thought Daniel would be deploying this winter so the home vs. stay question has been in the forefront of my mind. I had pretty much determined I was going to stay put so that Eve could continue in school; it seemed as though things would be simpler that way.

But, now that Daniel probably won't be deploying until next summer, the home vs. stay question is viable again. Truly, there are good things about both, though in my opinion there seem to be more good points to going home. And, as far as home, I mean where I grew up and my parents live.

The biggest hurdle to going home would be packing up my house and putting it in storage. And then what about the housing on the other end? I wouldn't have any "stuff" to put in it. But, oh how my heart longs to go home. The moving hurdle gets smaller every time I think about it.

At home my kids would have everything they need and want - except their father, which, honestly, they aren't going to have in either place. I could enroll Eve in the private school I attended, Judah could go to preschool, I would have my dad around to be a father figure in their life - this was sorely missed on Daniel's last deployment - I would have friends, a church, my in-laws would be much closer, and maybe I could even go back and work at the salon, if they would take me. Oh, and I would have a health food store and a co-op again. Hallelujah!

But, we'd be moving again, and it's rough on kids. The upheaval of Daddy leaving, moving to a new place... I don't know.

Just some thoughts rolling around in my mind. Any opinions, ideas, suggestions?

*Post from 1 year ago toady: One Year Later
(I had no idea what my post from a year ago was about until after I had written today's. How timely.)
Finding Peace in the Glow
White is growing on me.

I can't believe I am at this place. I love color, I adore it. I can't get enough of it. But, these bright, white walls are growing on me.

I'm crazy.

I have always loved bright rooms; the more windows, the more light, the happier I am. I can't stand dark. Give me light! And I know, I can achieve a bright room with any number of paint colors. But, since deciding to not paint I have become peaceful with my white walls.

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The brown curtains I just returned to Target were lovely. But, they made my livingroom so dark. I tried to love them, I really did. But, there was no gauzy, beautiful curtains fluttering in the breezes...

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No beautiful sunshine shining through.

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No sweet baby girl playing in the early morning dashes of sunshine.

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I have white walls. And I like them. Someday I will have my own house; a house I can color up the wahzoo, and I will love that too. But, for now, I will be peaceful in my glowing home. And if I really need a douse of color I will go visit my friend April, who lives just down the curvy sidewalk. She has a beautiful, painted home.
A Few Weekend Pictures
It was a busier than normal weekend, but it was good nonetheless. In my mind, the weekend starts on Friday. Friday just seems like an easier, quicker, more fun day. Thus, my weekend pictures start on Friday. And yes, they are all of my kids because why not?

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Friday Judah and I washed his beloved sheepskin; I have to catch him in a particularly generous mood, otherwise I can just take a hike! He doesn't part with his sheepskin on simply a whim, you know. But, he was feeling very generous so off it went into the washing machine; he kept a careful eye on the process though. The end result was one extremely happy boy and a fluffy, clean, and bright looking sheepskin. I wish I could have captured a photo of Judah toting his freshly washed sheepskin up the stairs for his nap time. It was classic.

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Have I mentioned that Eliza is a champion crawler now? No? Probably because my heart is broken over the whole situation. Anyways, Friday evening I was in the kitchen making dinner; Eliza was crawling around, going between the kitchen and the livingroom playing with toys. Suddenly it was suspiciously quiet. All parents know what that means.... I quickly went to check; I found her in the livingroom stuffing her face with a snack that had been abandoned by one of her siblings. She is priceless I tell you. Just priceless. And she loves to eat.
Oh, by the way, do you see the mosquito bite on her face? There were actually three of them. I was SO MAD at that mosquito. I stomped up to her room, flyswatter in hand; I closed the door and hunted that evil thing down. When I found it I killed it so badly it died twice. Nobody messes with MY baby and gets away with it. Nobody.

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Saturday found us in Lubbock doing a little shopping. I had some curtains to return to Target. The ones I returned were lovely curtains; a rich brown, nice pattern and texture, but honestly I love sheer white ones the best. So, that's what I bought instead. We also went to the health food store and the grocery store. It was uneventful but nice. The way home was even nicer because there were naps involved.

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Today was pretty good, no it was very good. Daniel took the girls to the zoo; Judah had to stay home and have room time because he disobeyed and lost his priviledge of going on the fun trip. Bummer for him! I cleaned like a madwoman for two hours; it was wonderful. We then had a quiet afternoon of naps, a movie, and a brake pad change for Bessie. This evening was a great dinner of Chicken Enchiladas made from Kim's recipe. They were so very, very good. The kids had ice cream bars for dessert because Eve didn't receive any tallies at school this week. Go Eve! It was a good day here at our house.

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Who needs a lawn mower when you have an Eve; she was making a bed for herself out of grass. Whatever floats her boat, I say. She was happy in her imagining and I had fun watching her creativity. Daniel was happy because he no longer had to mow.

That was our weekend in a nutshell. It was good, busy, productive, clean, and yummy.

Here's to a good new week for me and you!

A post from 1 year ago, yesterday: My Little Ham
The Story Hands
She came up to me while I was in the Commissary parking lot, insisting that she just had to see my baby.

She was small with dyed red hair that had just a bit of white roots showing. She wore the perfect glasses for an elderly woman; they were perched sprightly on the end of her nose and showed me bright eyes that were just beginning to grow dim. Her voice was soft yet commanding with the New Mexican accent I hear so often. Her clothes were colorful and age appropriate; she was just right.

"Oh, she's beautiful" she exclaimed. She clucked at Eliza, smiling with her whole face. She exclaimed some more over my daughter's beauty then rubbed her soft hand on Eliza's equally soft hand. Her love for babies was so evident to me.

She then turned her attention to Judah, asking if Eliza was his baby. Judah enthusiastically nodded his head in affirmation, pleased that someone finally realized that Eliza was indeed his baby. He showed her his car and she feigned fear that he was going to run her over with it.

"But you wouldn't do that, I can tell." she said. Judah just smiled at her from behind the thumb he was sucking.

I asked her if she had any children.

Four children, she said. And fourteen grandchildren. She birthed three girls and one boy. Far apart, she let me know, so that each child was walking by the time the new baby arrived and could get her own milk.

I asked if she had always lived here and she said no, no, she had grown up in Northwest New Mexico. She and her husband had moved to our town so she could go to college. She went to school for preschool education when she was 54 years old and loved every minute of it. After completing college she taught preschool until she was forced to retire. She seemed quite sad about that.

I asked her about her growing up years - did she have a lot of siblings? She was the youngest of twelve. She told me how her growing up years were wonderful; her home was filled with love and fun. She told me how she and all her siblings thought her mother was the greatest cook in the world. She learned to cook under her; burritos, tacos, and so much more... As she described it all to me her hands moved in the motion of years of burrito rolling. Nothing went to waste, she said. Nothing. She then, so thoughtfully, gave me tips on how to use left over potatoes - bless her heart.

As she was talking I saw the love for her life shining in her eyes; she hadn't lived halfway, of that I could plainly see. She went on to tell me about the tiny schoolhouse she and her siblings attended; about how she would help the cook make lunch and in doing so she would procure for herself an extra bit of food.

She threw her head back and laughed at that memory.

But then it happened; she started to tell me that she had four children and fourteen grandchildren. She told me where she had grown up and why they had moved. I realized she had a slight case of dementia. It brought such sadness to my heart. She was smart as a whip - well spoken and kind. I nodded my head and continued in the conversation as if I had never heard that information before.

Four or five times she told me about how many children she had. All I wanted to do was hug her but instead I asked if she would let me photograph her hands. I needed the memory of her.

"My hands?" she said, looking at them with fresh eyes. Yes, your hands, I told her. I gently held one and told her they were perfect.

"Oh, they have arthritis." she said sadly. I insisted they were perfect, because to me they were.

She agreed to let me take a photo, asking how I wanted her to position them. Maybe like this, I said, laying my hands over one another. She did so after adjusting her rings.

I took the pictures and showed them to her.

"Hmmph" she said, not at all pleased with the wrinkles and creases and the look of arthritis. I told her they were beautiful. She wasn't convinced, but that was okay. I knew they were beautiful and perfect in every way.

Unfortunately I had to go, I needed to get into the store and do my shopping. The kid's naptime was quickly approaching and their current good behavior was going to swiftly decline into the dark territory of bad behavior if I didn't get a move on.

I never did get her name but it didn't seem to matter. That would have been just a formality. She made a deep imprint on my life and that is what mattered.

This lovely woman gently laid her hand on my arm, looked deep into my eyes and reminded me to enjoy my children; love on them because they grow too quickly.

I needed to hear that; I needed to hear it from a woman who has lived and loved long. Earlier that morning I had prayed that God would bring just the right person into my day for me to photograph; she was perfection. Absolute perfection.

And that, my friend, is the story of these beautiful hands.

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What Was I Thinking?
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I'm not really sure. Daniel calls this my Mona Lisa self-portrait.

Take a good, long look at my hair... I brought the rock n' roll to school today. Poor Eve.

I think I was thinking how much I wished it was Friday instead of Thursday. I am so glad that it's nearly the weekend.

Happy almost Friday to you all!

(Yes, my hair really is that red.)
Yes, you can be VERY upset with me now...
I know, what is this? A photoblog??

Man, this is hard for me....

I let you down. I told you I was going to bring in the "Peace" picture to class but I didn't.

It was a last minute decision. I was having such a tough time picking just five pictures to take with me into class, I had to make the hard decision to let that one go. But, I couldn't NOT tell you. That would be lying.

Lying = Not cool.

I'm really sorry. I deeply appreciated all your votes and the time you took to comment. It meant SO much to me, just ask Daniel.

Will you forgive me?

Do you want to see the pictures I took with me... IF you're still here, that is. I may have alienated some readers. Darn.

Here they are in the order they were plastered on the huge screen:

The Blue Door:

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The teacher liked it, but he said the lighting was too harsh. He said I should have waited until the whole door was in shade.

The Story Hands:

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I'll tell you her story soon.
My teacher loved this one; he said, again, the lighting was a bit harsh but the detail. Oh, the detail... It was good.

Tire Stacks:

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My teacher was thrilled that I thought to take a picture of tires (it was actually Daniel's idea). He said the composition was awesome and that over all it was a great picture. Thankyouverymuch.

Field of Wheat/Grass/Something:

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Great reviews.

The Rancher's Wife:

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She was beautiful on the big screen. Just beautiful. The only portrait of the whole night. He said she needed a little brighter lighting - but I think she's perfect. The problem is, he's the teacher and I'm not. So, next time I'll go for a little brighter lighting. She was a BIG hit. Except there is nothing big about her, except her heart, perhaps.
I'll tell you her story, too.

So, overall it was a good night. I was told my composition was right on, this made me feel better because I feel that is a really big struggle for me.

Seriously, I was so nervous; I thought I was going to puke. But, thankfully, I didn't. I must say, I am glad that's over.

But what's really important is: Are we still friends?

*Post from 1 year ago today: Part of you, Part of me
WWWAT: Beginnings and Endings

It's WWWAT time again! This week is "Beginnings and Endings." The picture I chose is the perfect image of this theme, for me.

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In this photo my Great Grandfather is 99 years old - Eliza was 4 months old.

The two of them... they are like bookends. One is fresh from Heaven, newly created with life stretched out before her; the other is longing to walk back through Heaven's gates, longing to be held once again in our Father's arms, and looking back on a life well lived.

Beginnings and endings.

Both joyful, both necessary; knowing this doesn't erase my wish that Grandaddy could be here to watch my little girl grow up. But, my heart takes comfort in the knowledge that he'll still be watching, thankfully from a much better place. He'll even be able to hear my children laugh, because in Heaven his ears will be closed no longer.

To join in, visit Rachel at The Adventures of an American Mum.

Happy Wednesday, all!

*Posts from 1 year ago today: Daniel and Tuesday Recipe: Caramel Corn
Vote Take 2!
And this is where I sound like your Optometrist:

"Put your chin here, look straight ahead, now tell me... which one looks better?"

"Number 1 or Number 2?"

"Number 3 or Number 4...?"

I'm the patient who says: Number 3... Wait, maybe it was number 4... Wait, no, it was 3... Can you show me them again, please...?

Yeah, I'm a favorite, I'm sure.

Anyways, number 1 is familiar, isn't it? It was voted "Most Popular" in the last voting session. But how about photo number 2? Are you feeling that one?

Which ever one you all pick as your favorite will be the one I take into class with me tomorrow night.

Oh, I thought you might want to know I put on my big girl panties yesterday and asked an older woman I saw if I could take her picture.

Anyone proud of me??

I'll tell you the whole story once I edit my picture...

Now, tell me which one would look best on the big projection screen tomorrow night...

YIKES! A projection screen! I am nervous!

#1

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#2

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#3

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#4

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Ha! I tricked ya with Number 4, didn't I!
A Simple Lunch
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I ran out of bread on Saturday so creativity has been the name of the game. Today we had warm, soft, heart-shaped biscuits topped with cheese for lunch. It was delicious.

Sometimes, having to get creative can yield very yummy results.

Here is my Northern Girl's Biscuit recipe.
Dreams, Wrinkles, White Balance, and Pumpkin Pie
I'm so weird. Really, I am.

Okay, I have these dreams... You know, the ones at night... These dreams happen as often as I actually dream, which turns out to be not that often, I'm more of the drop into bed exhausted and don't move until the alarm goes off type.

Anyways, I have dreams where I can't find something - something I know, that I know, that I KNOW where it is.

Take for instance my dream last night: I'm trying to find the white balance control on my camera. And I know where it is! I am quite familiar with camera's menu. But I couldn't find it and I was feeling so very frustrated!

I was trying to photograph the faces of two older gentlemen...

(Which in real life I want to do!)

...I was taking so long to find the lens I wanted to use that the day turned into night. This meant I needed to adjust my white balance for indoor lighting but I could not find my white balance button. I was feeling upset; I was so excited to have these men sitting before me, with just the right faces to capture with my camera. They were perfect; full of wrinkles, and stories, and LIFE.

I never did find that stinkin' white balance. But, when I woke up I pictured my camera in my head... Of course, I knew right where was. Ugg. Anyone else have dreams of this nature?

All this to say: I want to photograph an older man or woman's face for my class in Wednesday. But I am having the hardest time working up the nerve to ask a random person.

Would you ask? If so, how?

My inquiring mind would like to know.

*Post from 1 year ago (yesterday): Pumpkin Pie for Breakfast and (Healthy) Pumpkin Pie Recipe
Photograph: Vote Now!
I have my first assignment due this week for photography class!

Part of me is saying: Yay!!

The other part of me says: "Oh, CRAP!"

Our assignment is this: Take 5 photos of something that interests you.

Pretty broad, wouldn't you say. There are limitations, such as: no pictures of children, spouses, anyone else's art, cows, and ducks.

Apparently my instructor has seen one too many farm animals.

Today I took my first photo intended for class exhibition. But, I need your help. I have 4 photos of the same subject but each with a different angle. I want to know: which do you like best? If you want to tell me why, please do! If you just want to vote, please use either: 1, 2, 3, or 4 in your comment.

Also, I am open to constructive criticism of my photo. But, please be nice; I am learning, okay. Love you.

Here we go!

#1

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#2

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#3

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#4

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P.S. I think the dust adds interest. There is even a spider web for the really nosy ones.

Good bye.
A Cup of Coffee
Do you remember how I told you I don't consume caffeine when I am nursing? I bet some of you thought I was a crazy woman!
Well, I started eating chocolate again awhile ago, because really, a girl can only survive so long without it. I ate a little, watched to see if it affected Eliza, found out it didn't and from then on.... no holds barred.

I have continued to restrict my coffee intake because I have found, over the course of three babies, that coffee kills my milk supply. It dehydrates me, and while nursing exclusively I just can't do that to my baby. But, now that Eliza is eating lots of food and nursing less I have let the thought of drinking coffee again wander into my mind.

Today was the day I took the plunge. In a post earlier this week I mentioned how I was hoping this week would be less busy for me.

Not happenin'.

This morning I have found myself gazing off into outer space more than a few times. My body is about two steps behind my mind, and my mind is about 2 steps behind where it needs to be to function in my world of small children.

I am tired. T-I-R-E-D. Anyone else?

I decided a cup of strong coffee would do this girl some good. I was excited! I whipped out my coffee grinder, poured some of my precious coffee beans in there and whirred away!

Drip, drip went the coffee! My house was smelling delicious. I stood in front of my coffee maker holding my cup in great anticipation. Geez Louise, it is hard waiting for enough coffee to fill my cup!
While doing the waiting thing I got distracted with the kids so the coffee maker was actually able to finish the whole way before I took my cup. I do believe that was a first! I am a coffee stealer from way back.

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Mmmmm... It was perfection. All that I had hope for and more. It's just too bad that "more" didn't include erasing the bags from underneath my eyes!

Oh, I have missed you, beloved coffee. I have missed you very much.

What's your favorite brand or flavor of coffee to drink? Do you like your coffee black or do you doctor it up?

Or, perhaps you are a tea drinker. My favorite tea is Choice Decaffeinated Early Grey. Which, by the way, also makes some killer sweet tea.

*Post from 1 year ago today: Pain
D For D and Tuesday's Recipe: Grandma Chips' Coffee Cake
If you are so inclined you can vote for me here. Thank you, thank you!

We've had a mini hiatus from Dessert for Dinner. It's been a sad time for us all. Thursday nights have felt so typical and boring. But, with Daniel TDY and the kids having tandem colds, something had to give. But now we are healthy, together, and that means... DFD is back!

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Dessert For Dinner tonight was Banana Splits. And boy, were they a HIT! They were neither elaborate or perfect but the kids didn't care. They were thrilled to have multiple scoops of ice cream and chocolate sauce. On a banana no less. The sprinkles nearly put them over the top! Life doesn't get much better than that when you are 5 and 2! Eliza skipped out tonight, though I did give her a taste or two of mine.

Alright, moving on to my Tuesday recipe on Thursday.

Technicalities, technicalities.

This is my Grandma Chip's recipe for Coffee Cake and it is evil. It draws me in with it's beauty, it's ridiculous moistness, it's perfect crumb, the addictive taste of cinnamon and sugar.... I could eat the whole pan.

No matter who I serve this to it is always devoured. This Coffee cake is sure to be a hit no matter who you are feeding!
For me it will be teachers. And because I really like them I might even bring some of my awesome and favorite Vermont coffee to compliment the cake.

I have been making the staff at Eve's school a special Friday treat. The first week it was Chocolate Chip cookies, the next was Brownies, and tomorrow it will be Coffee Cake. I also made Lemon Scones one week but that was on a Wednesday. Wow, were those were a huge hit!

Anyways, coffee cake.... Here we go!

Oh, by the way, I'll include a picture tomorrow after I make mine.

Okay... really, really, here we go:


Coffee Cake

1 cup softened butter

2 cups sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup (8oz) sour cream

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

For the topping(mix together):

1 cup chopped nuts (optional, of course)

1/4 brown sugar ( I use raw sugar)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions:

Cream together butter, sugar, and eggs until light.

Add in: vanilla and sour cream

Mix in: flour, baking powder, and salt.

Spread half of the batter in a greased and floured 9x13 pan.

Sprinkle with half of the topping mixture.

Spread the rest of the batter over top.

Sprinkle with the remaining topping mixture.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes.

Be prepared to have your house smell like you would imagine Heaven's kitchen to smell. It's divine - the smell, the taste, everything.

Enjoy with some delicious coffee, if that's what floats your boat!

Labels:

Someone Loves Me!
This morning I was reading Rachel from The Adventures of an American Mum's post talking about DivineCaroline's Love this Site Awards. I was so thrilled to read that she was nominated for an award! I kept reading and she mentioned I had been nominated for an award also.

What?!

Someone nominated me?!

I was so excited! But then I started to panic because my one black, sexy, fancy dress is still taunting me from it's place in my closet. I haven't even ventured the let's just try it on for kicks thing yet. If I did I would wind up in bed, with the shades drawn, eating pounds of chocolate and watching old, sappy movies.

What was I going to wear??

But then I remembered! I don't have to stand in front of anyone and blow air kisses while wearing a fancy dress and too high heels (is there such a thing?). I can accept my nomination wearing my everyday clothes and my barefeet. Perfect

Right now I have this many votes: 0

And I am totally good with that. Someone nominated me! That was the excitement for the day. But, should you have the burning desire to vote for me you can go visit my nomination at DivineCaroline's.

If you do vote, thank you so very much! I would make you cookies if I could. And thank you to the person who nominated me. You made my day! No, my week! No, my life!

Today I am trying to catch up on some blog stuff, I am going to go have lunch with Eve since Daniel's home, work on a meals menu, try and figure out some sort of daily schedule that will work for me, and hopefully take some pictures. My poor camera is looking woefully at me begging for use.

Have a great day all. Hopefully I will be back later with a Tuesday recipe.

Hey
! Thursday and Tuesday both start with a "T." That's got to count for something, right?!

*Posts from 1 year ago today: Best Friends and Tuesday Recipe: Chicken Nuggets
Memories
This afternoon found me in the garage looking for a particular item. Finding anything specific is a labor intensive job when it comes to our garage. We have boxes from moving that are labeled a certain way, but when we unpacked and organized we re-labeled some boxes. Needless to say, looking for an item is a lesson in things not always being what they seem to be.

And just in case you were wondering, I never did find what I was looking for.

But what I did find was some other things that made me fantastically happy. I found memories! I found pictures of Daniel and my first home in Alaska - not all the pictures but a lot - I found pictures of our wedding taken by others, I found pictures from the days preceding our wedding, I found pictures from that first year of marriage and life in Alaska, even some pictures from when we first moved to North Dakota. I was, and still am, stoked! Unfortunately I didn't find the pictures I took of the mountain outside our apartment - it was the perfect shape of a woman's breast. It made Daniel and I giggle every time we would see it. And because we are incredibly mature... we named it.

I don't know if anyone else has this happen to them, but my memories from that period of life together feel fuzzy. Like it was a different life. I looked at the pictures (which by the way we were childless and you could totally tell, there were exactly 12, 873 pictures of our cat Shelby) and I remembered so many moments in our life. It was like someone gave me those years back today. I think I have gotten so involved in the life of child-rearing that I have forgotten how it all began. I remembered this afternoon what a fantastic beginning it was.

Oh, and I totally forgot what a rockin' body I had. Sheesh! I had it going on!

I also found some journals and other miscellaneous items that brought back waves of memories. Ironically in one journal I had written a single page; on that page I lamented about how I had really fallen behind on my journaling and how I was totally going to regret that someday.

Today was that day. Oh, what I wouldn't give to read about my daily life in those early days. Seriously, I can't remember them. I have snapshots in my mind of certain events but the day in, day out stuff is not recallable. I think having three babies in somewhat rapid succession shorted out something vital in my brain.

That may be the reason why I am so thankful to have found those pictures this afternoon. The thirty minutes I spent looking through the photos reminded me of who I am, who I married, where I have come from; of life. My life. Our life together. And it made me feel as though seven years of marriage, three babies, four moves, and three different jobs can be considered an accomplishment. We've come a long way, baby.

Perhaps I can coerce Daniel to set up the scanner so I can scan some of the pictures I found. Just don't hold your breath, okay. I barely know what my name is anymore...

Wait, it's Andrea. I read it in a journal today....
Takin' Care of Business
I know, this is going to be another laundry post, but I just can't help myself! I had to follow up on my post from a few days ago. I enjoyed reading every one of your responses, though my mom's cracked me up the most.

This is what I chose for my first laundry detergent experiment:

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There was a few factors: Price, quantity, name, and smell. The price was right at just over 5 dollars.; the quantity said 64 loads per bottle; the name was familiar; the smell was light and pretty.

I had Gain in my hand but at a bit over 5 dollars for 24 loads... I couldn't justify it. And the smell was iffy - it was the lavender something or other one. I looked at Tide - I love Tide, but it was too expensive at 6 something for the same load amount. Plus, I wanted to broaden my horizons a bit. I know Tide works great, but is there another brand that would work just as good for me with a smaller price tag?

Did I mention I was at Walmart? I don't think I did. The Commissary is closed on Mondays and I needed to do laundry that day. I stood in that detergent aisle for far too long, but this is serious stuff! Well, kinda.

Moving on to fabric softener....

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A little while ago I was sent Snuggle with Fresh Release fabric softener and dryer sheets to review. I am a die hard Kirtland brand softener fan. But, I thought, what the heck, I'll give it a whirl.... I loved the Snuggle Fresh Release. It really does keep the smell in a lot longer than Kirtland's. I tried it on my sheets, my kid's clothes, and my towels. My sheets smelled beautiful for the entire week. My towel was fresh smelling at every use, and my kid's clothes still had a faint smell of the softener at the end of the day. Now that is saying something.

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For kicks I tried the Snuggle brand regular softener against the Fresh Release; and my humble opinion is the Fresh Release works way better. The bonus was the bottle lasted quite awhile for me even with the large amount of laundry I regularly wash. I found I didn't need to use quite as much to get the nice smell and soft clothes.

Honestly, I didn't see a whole lot of difference between my Bounce dryer sheets and the Snuggle ones, though both work great. We live in a very dry climate and I'm guessing the real test will come this winter. I do have to say I did like the smell of the Snuggle Fresh Release a bit better. But, that may be because I am somewhat bored of Bounce's scents.


I'd like to know, now that you've told me what detergent you use, what your favorite combo is of detergent, softener, and dryer sheets.

Do you use all three together? I do, but I'm a bit obsessive about smell and feel. I am decidedly not a line drying fan, though I grew up that way. It was something about the spiders hiding in the clothespins and the rough feel of the clothes and towels that really turned me off. I prefer artificially perfumed and softened laundry.

Oh, and those long comments totally ROCKED MY WORLD! I'm your biggest fan.
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