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Thursday, December 31, 2009

What a Year!

As 2009 comes to an end I am reflecting over the amazing ride it has been. There have been ups and downs but like always the ups weigh out.

By far the most amazing part was on January 26Th when Henry Patrick Miller graced our lives and changed them forever. This year we have seen Cameron develop into such a little man. He loves being a big brother. He has embraced Kindergarten with an amazing yearn to learn more and more each day. Mr. Miller continues with the Big Green Tractor company and closes the year as "Employee of the Month". Congratulations sweetie, you deserve it! As for me I have had the time of my live on this roller coaster we call life. I am a SAHM and loving it, sewing and cooking and most of all writing again. It is amazing what you can do with this book of life if you just take the time and look for the simple pleasures that it has to offer.

Starting tomorrow we are joining the cause for "Change" , check it out and see what you and your family can change for the environment. Instead of a resolution think of it as a change. One change, one month at a time. I will share our change with you all tomorrow.

As our time here in Valdosta and 2009 comes to an end, I want to Thank all of you for your continued support. Here is to a great 2010 and many Warm Wishes and Blessing for your New Year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A taste of Southern Hospitality

During my years with Starbucks I had the pleasure of working for a gentleman that I am proud to call my friend and mentor still to this day. Mike showed me so much about being a Manager and now that we have both left the "BUX" we have kept in touch and are still friends. I have also had the pleasure of getting to know his amazing wife, Susie and 2 beautiful children, Mikey and Madeline. Mike now is the Banquet Manager for the Gaylord Opryland Resort in Nashville. When I told him we were coming through on our way to Valdosta and asked if they could meet for dinner he said he could do one better and asked us to stay at the Resort. We had never been and it was worth the splurge.

This Resort is amazing. It is 5 acres under one roof and has over 11,000 species of plants in there. Of course Mr. Miller was loving that. Mike took us on a great tour and Cameron and Maddie did great together. Susie and I decided that in 20 years we could defiantly be in laws.

This is what we saw when we drove in.

I think this is the biggest tree I have ever seen. Mike said people line up for hours just to get pictures in front of it.

Junior Mint in front of the Poinsettia Tree. Cameron didn't want his picture taken.

They had an amazing outdoor Nativity. There was an audio that re told the story.

The lights continuously rotate in the hotel. I loved how the staff and everyone you met said "Merry Christmas" and not just "Happy Holidays"!

Thank you Mike, Susie and the Gaylord Opryland Resort for a taste of true Southern Hospitality and a bit of the Christmas Spirit.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas PJ's

We have a tradition at Green Acres with Christmas Jammie's. This tradition started with my family when I was a little girl. Every Christmas Eve we would go to Church and when we came home we got to open one present. This present was always new PJ's for Christmas morning. After we would open the presents my Dad would read the "The Night Before Christmas" and "How the Grinch Stole Christmas". We would then leave our cookies and milk for Santa and of course carrots for the reindeer and then off to bed we were sent. Now as a parent I understand why you want your precious little ones to be fast asleep.

This year was a little different for us. First, being away from home and secondly the Church service didn't start until 10pm. The Deacon and Pops serve at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Valdosta, Georgia. It is a darling church, very warm and welcoming. We started the evening with our traditional dinner of heavy snack foods and wine while the Deacon and Cameron opened the last window on the Advent calendar. We had the boys open their PJ's before Mass and that way they could wear them to church. This is customary at St. Barnabas on Christmas Eve. We went to church and Henry did great, he stayed awake through the whole Mass. Cameron didn't like the trumpets so much so Mr. Miller and him stayed out in the vestibule for the majority of the service and then migrated to the Urban Farm Truck where Cameron fell fast asleep. I checked on them after Communion and there they were with the windows down and Mr. Miller was listening to his new Buffett CD. Of course it was 65 and beautiful out, far better than the blizzard conditions at home.

The church hosts a lovely reception after and we took the kids home and put them to bed so Santa could get to work. It was a great Christmas Eve and the PJ's they were darling. Don't you think?

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Part 2

WE MADE IT! 2 days and 1036 miles later the Miller's have invaded Valdosta, GA! We got on the road by 10 on Tuesday instead of 9 but it was worth it. When I started the Urban Farm Truck Mr. Miller had Willie's "On the Road Again" followed by "Georgia" keyed on the Ipod. I thought I would wet my pants I was laughing so hard. We had beautiful weather. We stopped in Nashville for the night and visited with great friends and stayed at the Opryland Resort. All I can say is "Wow"! Wednesday we headed south again and got here around 7 last night. Lets just say we were all ready to get out of the car and Mama needed a glass of wine. Thanks Pops and Decon for granting me that wish.
I hope everyone had safe travels to get over the river and through the woods.

Monday, December 21, 2009

"like a band of gypsies we go down the highway..."

Yep, you guessed it the Miller's are "On the Road Again". We are leaving in the morning for Valdosta, Georgia. We are going to see the Deacon, Pops and Gigi. Maybe I should have titled this "Over the River and Through the Woods"? We are driving you know. We are supposed to go to Nashville the first night and then by Wednesday evening we will be in Valdosta.

Why is it when you pack for Holiday travel or should I say any trip with Children you feel like you are taking enough for an army? I cannot believe all the BSE (Baby Survival Equipment) that one needs. Plus the Big Red Tote of gifts, a separate bag to take into the hotel tomorrow night, port-a-crib, stroller, a duffel for the boys and one for us. Thank God for the Urban Farm Truck, I think with all the stuff in the back we should be good for extra weight if we hit bad weather. Does it ever get easier, I am referring to travel with children?

We are planning to be home by New Years Eve but that is still up in the air. Wonder Mutt is at the "pet spa" and Delani is being taken care of by Tony and Ms. Kristi. Have I told you how wonderful our neighbors are? Well even if I have I don't think you can say "Thank you enough!" My gratitude also goes to my Mom for coming back to Kansas City for the 3rd day in a row to help me get ready to leave town. She was here Saturday so Mr. Miller and I could go to Ms. Stacie and Reuben's wedding, Sunday for my family Christmas, and then today originally for Cameron's stage debut of "A Starry Night" at St. Thomas More. She must have felt the concern in my voice this morning when she asked how the packing was coming along because before I knew it she said I'll be there after lunch. She ROCKS! I love you Mommy! THANKS!

I will be checking in throughout the week but it will probably be Thursday. I will let you know A. if we made it as a family of 4 and B. if I think I will ever do this again.

What are some of your holiday plans? I would love to hear them. Whatever they are enjoy and remember the true meaning of the Season of CHRISTmas, because without him where would we be? Blessings to you all!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Gifts for Baby Jesus

I particularly love the swaddling cloth and picture of the manger.

This is Cameron's artwork for today. I think it sums up how God intends us to live our lives taking care of one another. Cameron's gift for the Baby Jesus is a bottle of formula. He told me he chose that because he would be hungry and we would need to feed him. OH, how I love that little 6 year old of mine. Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Swedish Shortbread

One of my favorite childhood memories at Christmas has always been baking with my Mom. I have a Scandinavian background and of course have always loved the food that goes with. Maybe part of why I have to make some lifestyle changes in my diet! Ha Ha Ha. When we moved to Topeka we joined a Lutheran Church that held a Smorgasbord every year and my Mom and her best friend, Diane would always bake cookies along with Rice Pudding and Potato Sausage. One of the cookies was a stamped Swedish Shortbread. Talk about melt in your mouth. I have not made these in years and I decided to try to make them Gluten Free this year and I used the Pamela's All Purpose Baking mix. They turned out great. If you don't need GF just substitute regular flour. Thanks to my sister Kristin for getting me the recipe.

swedish shortbread

1 cup butter

1/2 cup sugar

1tsp almond flavoring

2 cups flour or GF Baking Mix

(optional food coloring for holiday)

Mix until crumbly. Break into small balls, roll in sugar. Place on greased cookie sheet. Stamp (dipped in sugar) with cookie stamp, I found mine in Lindsborg, KS or use bottom of glass. Bake at 350 degrees until edges are just slightly golden brown.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas Treats

I have shared many times about how much I love our neighborhood. I love the special bond that our little corner shares. We have 2 families that have lived in these homes since they were built, 2 families with older children than us, 1 family with Cameron's little buddy, Jack and our darling newly married couple across the street. I feel so blessed to be here with them all. Cameron and I baked this weekend and made cookies for the neighbors. I decided the best way to package them was in jars, Cameron agreed that it was a good way to recycle. Leave it to my little guy to bring in the recycle angle to gift giving. I always have random jars under the sink so I filled them, tied ribbons around them and put labels on them. Tonight I filled my basket and away we went. I have had so much fun sharing the Christmas spirit and visiting for a few moments with everyone. I shared with Mr. Lee and Ms. Ruth across the street I was referring to this Christmas as our Walton's Christmas, Ms. Ruth agreed. We are all taking to heart what really matters in this world, not the big screen or new video game that you want, rather it is your friends and family or "stones" that you surround yourself with. I hope you all are enjoying the season as much as we are.

I was blessed with a new cousin today. My cousin Kristine had a beautiful baby boy. It just makes my heart happy with all new births. How wonderful to be born in the same season as our Lord.

Blessings to you all!

Friday, December 11, 2009

2 Weeks...Oh My!

OK so I just realized we have 2 weeks until Christmas and I have so many projects to finish. We are busy, busy, busy. I even have Mr. Miller cutting fabric! I do love that it is going to be a handmade Christmas at least most of it!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Post It Notes...Decisions

Lately I have been wondering again if I am indeed doing the right thing by staying home. Mr. Miller and I have had many a discussion on this period in our lives. Decisions and options have come to us and yes, God I am seeing the "post it notes" again. I am not at liberty to discuss in depth but I feel at peace for the first time with some of the options.

"Do you want to be counted wise? Here's what you do: Live well, live wisely, live humbly. It's the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts." James 3:13 The Message

"Our Lord understands our limits. He realizes our struggles. He knows how much pressure we can take. He knows what measures of grace and mercy and strength we'll require. He knows how we're put together. Frankly, His expectations are not nearly as unrealistic as ours. When we don't live up to the agenda we have set, we feel like He is going to dump a truckload of judgment on us. But that will not happen. So why do we fear it could?"
-- Hope Again

I am not sure but these passages out of one of my devotionals really spoke to me this morning. Thanks Chris. I felt that I need to share these with you as many of you might be feeling some of the same doubts in your day to day lives. I am asking for your thoughts and prayers during this time and transition in our lives here at Green Acres, there are some exciting things about to happen. Blessings to you all!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Comfort Food - Gluten Free Pumpkin Corn Muffins

We had our first snowfall last night. Cameron waited all day for that snow! He was home with me for the Feast Day of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. Wow, all of these Holy Days and Feast Days are something new for me when it comes to school! Cameron and I decided to make Taco Soup and he wanted muffins. I spent some time on the Internet and found a new "gold mine" of Gluten Free recipes. visit Karina she is amazing. I found these Pumpkin Corn Muffins. Look at them, don't you just want to roll around with them? THESE ARE AMAZING! They were so moist and really reminded me more of a pumpkin muffin than a corn muffin. Make them you won't be sorry. Mr. Miller broke his up in his bowl and put the soup on top of it. Mine didn't make it to the bowl. Cameron loved them and Junior Mint was a continuous "mm mm".


3 large organic free-range eggs or Ener-G Egg Re placer for two eggs

1/2 cup olive oil

3/4 cup pumpkin puree

3/4 cup organic light brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice

1 cup organic stone ground cornmeal

1 cup gluten free flour mix or gluten-free pancake and baking mix( if using pancake mix omit 1 tsp of baking powder and the baking soda)

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Preheat oven to 350, line muffin tin with 12 cups
Whisk eggs until frothy, add olive oil, and puree. Mix well with whisk. Add brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and pie spice mix and set aside. In a separate bowl add all dry ingredients and mix well. Add your dry to wet and mix until a smooth batter. Fill your muffin cups and bake for 20 -25 minutes on middle rack until muffins are golden and firm to touch.

Remove and leave in pan for 5 minutes and then put on rack. Best when warm, but good anytime! Store in freezer bag in refrigerator or freezer. You can take and heat as needed. Henry and I shared one with Low Fat Strawberry Cream Cheese this morning. They were just as pleasing.

I had to show one more picture. You want these right now don't you?

This recipe makes 12 muffins and they are worth 4 points each. I am going to try making them with apple sauce and see how they turn out. If made with apple sauce they come down to 1 point. My soup is the classic Weight Watchers Taco Soup for 2 points per 1 Cup serving. Therefore the muffins a 4 points each were not so bad.

I lost one more pound this week for a total of 6.5 lost.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Out of the mouths of babes...

I had something else completely on my mind for today's post but Cameron caught me off guard yesterday and I just have to share this story.

I was getting ready to go to a Bridal Shower for one of my sweet friends, Stacie. Stacie is an amazing girl. I had the privilege of meeting her 4 years ago when she came into my Starbucks location and applied for a job. I knew instantly that she was leaving that store not only with a cup of coffee but a job. She is probably one of the most honest, sincere and loving women you would ever meet. She has an amazing heart and love for Jesus and Children. In fact Stacie spent the first 6 months of 2009 in Africa working with orphans. I just love this girl. OK so back to the story,Cameron asked what I was doing and I told him I was going a Bridal Shower for Miss Stacie and Cameron asked me 2 questions. "Mama what's a Bible Shower?" and " Mama, if its a shower why are you getting dressed to take a shower?" You just gotta love them.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Cameron's New Passion

Cameron has recently discovered the joys of artistic expression. Until this year he could not focus to stay in the lines. He loves anything to do with artwork, especially coloring. I have discovered many websites with free printable coloring pages. He also likes to do his own expressive drawing.

A couple of weeks ago Grampie and Grandma came from Houston and they took us to the Crayola Cafe and Store at Crown Center. He was in heaven. Not only could he just color but he got to meet one of the illustrators of Batman. Cameron loves Batman.

He has even shared with Daddy and Henry.

I hope that he can continue with this new love. We find it to be a way to redirect him when needed. It is also a nice activity at night before bed, it is calm and relaxing. Last night he crawled in my bed with his colors while I was crocheting and he drifted to sleep in about 15 minutes. Bliss!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Chocolate Pecan Pie

OK I know its a day behind but I was so excited about my esty shop that I felt the Chocolate Pecan Pie could wait. OH once you taste this you might argue the order of importance. I will first say I did not make my own GF pie crust, I bought it pre-made from Whole Foods. It is in their freezer section in packs of 2 already in a tin and frozen. I needed a deep dish crust so this is how I solved that dilemma. I let them thaw and put both together in a ball and re rolled them out. I learned from that you can't overwork GF pie crust since there is no gluten in it and it is true. I lined my deep dish pan and had enough left over for a quiche for dinner that night. This recipe is awesome. I can't say enough about it. It is a Paula Deen and you know my love for her.

chocolate pecan pie

1 (9-inch) unbaked pie shell
2 cups pecan halves
3 large eggs, beaten
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup dark corn syrup
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons good-quality bourbon
3 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Cover bottom of pie crust with pecans.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and melted butter. Add the corn syrup, sugar, bourbon and the chopped chocolate. Stir until all ingredients are combined. Pour mixture into the pie shell over the pecans and place on a heavy-duty cookie sheet.
Bake for 10 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F and continue to bake for an additional 25 minutes or until pie is set. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.

This pie was amazing not only after Thanksgiving Dinner but for breakfast the next day. Yes, Deacon it is perfect with a cold glass of milk or hot coffee. I hear it calling our names over Christmas.

Do you see the yummy bits of chocolate in this? I just thought I would give you a close up!

Even with all of the extra calories over the Holiday I maintained, didn't lose, didn't gain. I consider that an accomplishment, especially with a desert like this.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Well I did it! I finally opened a shop on etsy. You can now find some of my favorites that I have started sewing. Please check it out. I also have a link in my sidebar. Let me know what you think. I will have more to list in the coming days. I have people ask all the time if I sell the things I make so I decided "what the heck" lets give it a try.

Here are just a few of the items listed.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A brief preview...

OK Deacon here you go. This is but a brief preview of the "Exterior Illumination Project" that "Clark" aka Mr. Miller has been working on, and yes he owes everything that he has learned to Pops and the Deacon. With Mr. Miller it usually has to start on paper with a tape measure and then at least 24 hours of discussion between us. We still are not finished. I know those of you who know Mr. Miller probably want to know if the Ghosts of Christmas have been here, and the answer is " I don't know" but I will take his enthusiasm. Along with that of a 10 month old seeing a Christmas tree for the first time and a 6 year old satisfaction of a job well done.