Friday, December 31, 2010

Farewell '10

So long 2010.... hard to believe another year has passed us by. It was definitely a year of challenges, changes, and uncertainty, in more ways than one. Valerie and Veronica had an exciting year full of milestones. They are just growing up and changing so fast.

I hope to continue my goals from 2010 into 2011. De-cluttering being a main one. I did really well last year and got rid of a lot of useless stuff. If it has a use or will possibly have one later on, keep it. If not... I see no reason to hang onto it. In the past year, I passed on all sorts of things to someone in need of it. Of course we accumulated more stuff to take it's place... but I will gladly give something away to someone who will use it rather than have it sit here doing nothing. We. Really. Need. To. Do. Something. About. The. GARAGE!!!! It is horrible.

My other goal is to continue on with the diet and exercise routine. I have fallen out of the routine these past few months. All the cookies we made did not help!! I plan to go back to eating no dairy (more on that later) and going to the gym on a regular basis. I need to find something new to do on off days from the gym.... On an average day I usually take between 8,000 and 13,000 steps with 7 hours of activity. Not enough to make a difference. Maybe I will try to be closer to the 13k steps every day.... All after New Year's dinner tomorrow, of course.

Now that we have our new upright freezer, I'd also like to do more freezer meals. I did it for a while but with limited freezer space it was an aggravation. I can cook two of something then freeze one for another time. Less time in the kitchen, less worry about what to cook, and more time for the kids! I just need to keep an inventory of what we have in the freezer and update it as I take stuff out.

Wishing you all a happy 20011!! Happy New Year!! Be safe tonight, everyone....

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Count down

Sixty-four days 'till Disney~ yeehaw! Plane tickets have been bought, car rented, and our condo is reserved. I'll be sending in the balance next week. I made all our dining reservations long ago, so we'll schedule our park days around that. Other than that I don't have much of a plan..... yet. I need to figure out how much of the closures and construction are gonna affect us, if at all. I still need to buy our park tickets too.

It's also time to start thinking about Veronica's birthday party. I can't believe my baby girl will be four already. I still think of her as being 'too little' or just a 'baby.' Anyway, I want to have a small party for her before we leave for Disney since we'll be at the Magic Kingdom on her actual birthday.

Only one more day left in 2010.... counting down until 2011.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Poor old Skooter is not looking very well these days. This was taken on Christmas Eve and I'm sad to say he probably won't see another one. He has been extremely needy for a while now telling me that something is off. I can't really say what is wrong, if anything is indeed wrong. He is a fifteen year old fur ball, so maybe his age is getting to him. I do think he possibly has something wrong with his teeth. I'm on the fence about bringing him to the vet. I know here they are likely very different, but my experiences in Morgan City was that their first response was always wanting to put the animal to sleep. One example is we found a kitten who needed medical attention so we brought it in. Their recommendation was to kill it because it was skinny, had eye infections, and had fleas. We brought it there to help it not kill it!! That cat was a great pet and lived another 12 or 13 years. Another time it was one of our beloved long time pets that had something minor wrong with it. Anyway, Skooter seems to have lost some weight and is nearly completely deaf. He follows me around yowling and wants constant attention. Some days he seems livelier than others though. I guess my biggest fear is the vet will want to do some fancy procedure and Skooter will either be worse off or not survive it. Had that happen before to elderly pets too. Skooter was my Mom's cat and I really don't want anything to happen to him until it is his time.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Photo shoot

Quite a while back we tricked the girls into going on a photo shoot. I told them we could go to Lumen Christi and they could roll down the big hill. Then got excited and said that they could wear their brand new Christmas dresses!! It worked and they had a ball... and I got some decent pictures of them.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Nothing to see here... move along

I thought about not posting today. But the end of Holidailies is near so I figured I'd ride it out, even if I have to post about nothing.

Veronica went to school today. Clint, Valerie, and I went furniture and appliance shopping. The girls are in need of headboards for their beds. They've both had just a metal frame for years, with the intention of getting real bed frames 'soon.' Valerie is using a chest of drawers that was mine, so it's a good 25+ years old. Veronica has her clothes in a chifferobe. It's an awesome piece. It was my grandparents' and dates back to the early 1900's, if not the late 1800's. My Dad went through a lot of trouble painting it white, replacing the mirror, and replacing the glass knobs for Valerie's arrival. We passed it on to Roni when the time came. The tiny drawers were fine for baby clothes, but now it's huge waste of space and just not practical. I'm not sure what to do with it now... But anyway we found headboards and chests for a reasonable price so I think we are going to get them.

We bought an upright freezer today also. We have a chest freezer but I am tired of digging to the bottom to find what I need. Plus, a few years ago during Hurricane Gustav everything in the freezer defrosted. There are cracks in the freezer lining, so all the yuck leaked into the cracks and it has smelled funny since. The new one will be here for New Year's Eve.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Post Christmas

Christmas was over in the blink of an eye.

All the prep work, excitement, planning, gift buying... over and done.

My Dad came to spend the night on Christmas Eve. We had our party fare of chicken salad sandwiches, cocktail sausages and meatballs, deviled eggs, and chips/dip. We danced with the girls to Christmas music, took pictures in front of the tree, and opened our gifts. I could wrap up just about anything and I think they would be thrilled to death. I never thought they would be so happy to receive bed sheets and slipper socks!! I didn't really buy many toys from us ~ I left that up to Santa. They do love the authentic Russian nesting dolls Clint brought back from his last overseas trip.

Valerie slept in our bed and my Dad took hers. It's usually not bad but she woke up about 2:30am and wanted to get up! It was close to 5am when she went back to sleep. Yawn! When they did get up at 7am ~ were they surprised!! Santa had put together my old Barbie Dream House. Zu Zu Pets and Furreal Friends are their favorites, second to the 28 year old Barbie house that is.

I wore my Mom's favorite Christmas shirt on Christmas Day. I think she'd like that I kept it.

We had a great Christmas dinner with all the fixings plus some. Diet starts again soon! I know sometimes big families are more trouble than it's worth, but it does make me sad sometimes when I hear of everyone else's plans to visit relatives. Parties, food, people, excited kids, and gift exchanges. My kids will never know any of that. There's no one to go visit or do presents with or have parties with. They'll never know what it's like to walk into a house full of people and holiday cheer. They'll never have anyone surprise them with gifts since aside from us, their Godparent is the only person who remembers them. It will always be just us. No one calls or visits. I didn't have any of that either, so I guess that is part of why I feel like we're missing out on something. It was always the three of us - me, Mom, and Dad. Now it's the five of us, which isn't much different.

On the other hand, however, it is nice to be able to stay home and nothing is rushed. It's quiet and we do as we please. We let the kids play with their toys and there is no schedule.

Today I hit Wal-Mart at 6am and bought a ridiculous amount of clearance stuff. I bought Veronica some birthday gifts and quite a few things for myself. I think I may go back tomorrow.

Family picture

Dressed in new nightgowns ready for Santa!

This is a perfect representation: Valerie and Veronica - to the "T."

A peek at Santa's surprises

Somehow she knew was was in that box: her new green blanket

They played Barbies all day long!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!!!

Merry Christmas, everyone. May your day be blessed!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas Eve!!

I can't believe it's Christmas Eve!! Valerie and Veronica are just bursting with excitement. We've had to scold them to stay away from the presents about a hundred times already!! LOL! I know they are just anxious but still! Tonight we'll have our usual Christmas Eve party (just for us) and open gifts under the tree.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Oaks

Monday night we took a drive to New Orleans to Celebration in the Oaks. Clint and I first went over 10 years ago, way before we were married and it has been a yearly tradition ever since. It was a little on the cold side (which probably didn't help the kids' coughs!) but we had a fun night. The girls' Nanny and Parain came with us and the kids had a great time together. The lights are so pretty!! I do miss the driving tour and carriage rides. Hopefully one day they will bring them back.

I can't believe Christmas Eve is tomorrow!! The house is full of excitement, in spite of the sickness. I'm hoping both girls feel better tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Birthday Girl

Unfortunately, first on our birthday agenda was a visit to the doctor's office (again.) Thankfully we were in and out in less than a hour. Valerie's lingering cough of 3 weeks had seemingly worsened over night, so I decided to put birthday plans on hold bring her in. I felt so bad. She already gets shortchanged being that her birthday is so close to Christmas, and now she was sick! We got new meds for this darn resistant bacterial infection so hopefully this will finally take care of it. While we were gone, I had Clint blow up balloons, put up streamers and decorations, put her gifts and cake on the table. My Dad, Clint, and Veronica were waiting when we walked in and yelled "surprise!"

We took Val for a birthday lunch at Chic-Fil-A, then to Party Pad to jump. At home we sang happy birthday and had red velvet cake.

She keeps saying she can't believe that she's six! Me either, my sweet girl.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Happy Birthday!!

I can't believe it's been six years since I first held you in my arms. What an amazing adventure it has been watching you grow into such a sweet little girl. Happy Sixth Birthday to the sweetest, most thoughtful, WONDERFUL little girl I know! Love you with all of my heart. XOXOXOXO

My Sweet Valerie, forever doomed to receive birthday gifts in Christmas wrapping paper!!

ETA: And guess who woke up sick this morning? Ugh!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Sunday, December 19, 2010

What's up Holidailies?

Holidailies has been up and running for a couple weeks now. This year seems... slower, for lack of a better word. Very few visitors, few comments. I usually try to leave a comment on most of the blogs I read. And I try to remember to vote up the ones I do read also.

Which, I am not crazy about the voting part. I'm not caring much for the reddit format either. I've tried to get used to it, but it isn't a good fit for me. Or maybe I'm missing something. It just doesn't seem easy to navigate, and I know I'm not seeing a lot of posts. I don't like clicking on the tabs to find the posts. I've noticed that once your post drops to another page, you're pretty much done and get no readers. It took me a while to realize I had to click the "what's new" tab to see the new posts! I miss seeing a short summary of each blog so I'd know right away if it was something I was interested in reading or not. I miss the Best of Holidailies entries, too.

I like that there is a 2010 Holidailies to participate in.

However, the whole reddit format is making me rethink participating.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Moo Ho Moo Ho!

This morning we had breakfast with "Santa Cow" at Chic-Fil-A. Lots of little girl drama before we left, but they settled down once we got there. We all took pictures with the cow and enjoyed breakfast. The girls got to play with a few friends in the play area too.

Veronica seems to be feeling better. Still coughing but not as bad. Myself, on the other hand, is coming down with whatever she had. I don't have time to be sick! It's Christmas week! Isn't it crazy that Christmas is a week from today?!

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Soup aka the Navy Bean Soup Recipe

The most popular post on my blog is the one about my Mom's soup. Nearly every single day, someone searches for "Navy Bean Soup" and ends up here.

Originally posted for Holidailies in January of 2009 and repeated last year, following the Holidailies tradition, here it is once again:

One of the things my Mom made often in the winter was bean soup. It was always after Christmas or Easter, the only two holidays we baked a ham. I think on a rare occasion my Mom baked a ham for Sunday dinner just so she could have it to make the soup afterwards! Clint baked a ham at Christmas and put the bone and leftovers in the freezer. He got it out today and decided to make bean soup. I haven't tasted it, so who knows if it's as good as Mom's.

(shhh -- but probably not!)

Anyway, it reminded me of a story to share:

Does everybody know who Chef John Folse is? I'm sure all my cooking friends do!!

Well, many years ago John Folse visited Morgan City for a cooking demonstration. Everyone was asked to bring a family recipe and the story behind it to enter into a drawing. My Mom loved John Folse and watched his show faithfully. Of course she went. I don't remember where I was. I must have aerobics or some other plans... I didn't go with her. My Mom wrote down her Navy Bean Soup recipe. It was something my Grandma made often and passed down. There was no real "recipe", since it was something they just threw together.

Anyway, the recipes were all put into a box and at some point, John Folse reached in the box and pulled out a recipe. Right away, my mom recognized her piece of paper!! Yes, he pulled her recipe. She couldn't believe it. I don't remember the details if she got to go up and meet him or what. I think she got a gift basket.

But, since her recipe was picked, it was going to be published in John Folse's next cookbook. And my Mom was going to get a free copy when it became available. Months later, sure enough, she got her cookbook in the mail. And sure enough, there was her recipe. Of course they embellished her story a bit so it sounded more 'cajun' (haha!) but her name and recipe are published. We were so excited.

Then... years later.... she got a call from John Folse's cooking show. They wanted her to prepare her soup ON his show! They would tape an episode in her kitchen, with John Folse himself. And my Mom, being who she was, turned them down!! I think they called at least twice. She said there was no way she'd let anyone show her rinky dink junky kitchen on TV!! Can you believe it... she said no!! I wish she would have done it.

But anyway, the cookbook is somewhere at my Dad's house. It's a nice piece of family history. If I can get my hands on it, I will scan and post the pages with my Mom's recipe. I was able to find the index page on Amazon:

Navy Bean Soup - Joyce B. Russell

Navy Bean Soup
1 pound dried navy beans
1 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 cup diced tomatoes
1 cup diced potatoes
1 cup chopped cabbage
1/2 cup elbow macaroni
2 cups diced ham
1/2 cup sliced green onions
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 tsp. salt
black pepper
hot sauce (optional)

Method: Rinse the beans under cold running water. You may wish to soak the beans in cold water overnight to cut the cooking time by one-third. Place beans in a large cast iron dutch oven and cover by two inches with cold water. Bring to a rolling boil, and reduce heat to simmer. Cook approximately one hour or until beans are tender, stirring occasionally. Add onions, celery, tomatoes, potatoes, cabbage, macaroni and ham. Blend well into the bean mixture and cook 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. You may need to add water to retain desired consistency. Add green onions and parsley. Season to taste using salt, pepper and hot sauce.

Note: When stirring beans during the cooking process, mash approximately 50% of the beans, pressing with the cooking spoon against the inside of the pot. This will give the navy bean soup a creamy consistency.

My Mom's (embellished!) story behind the recipe:

"Since my grandmother and mother were unable to read or write, recipes would have been of little use to them. So they cooked the way people before them had cooked, back to the dawn of time, I suppose. They cooked from memory. When you think about it, that's really quite a skill. You have to remember every ingredient of a recipe and how the end product tastes. It also means keeping a mental catalog of herbs and spices and their effects on flavors so accurate that you can add the proper amount without resorting to measuring spoons or cups. Of course, after a while everyone learns to cook their favorite dishes from memory - as I do this one. But imagine having to do it every time! This, by the way, is the 'special' version of mom's soup - the one she fixed as a treat when we had leftover ham. In the everyday version, she used salt meat."

Joyce B. Russell
Morgan City, Louisiana

Thursday, December 16, 2010

No foolin' this 3 year old

My Moms' group had our annual cookie swap play date today. Everyone brings 4-6 dozen cookies and we all get to take some of each kind home. Fun! All the moms brought a small gift for their child and we had Santa visit hand them out. Santa arrives and Veronica says, "That's a girl pretending to be Santa! That's funny!" Can't get anything over on her!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

My Stash

One day I would like to get rid of the stash of medicine on my kitchen counter. But no, it won't be any time soon. Once again I am home with a sick little girl. This is the sixth time Veronica has been sick since October. My poor child hasn't had more than a week of being well in almost three months!! On the other end of the spectrum is Valerie, who is hardly ever sick. (Although she has a yucky cough and probably has the same thing Veronica does right now - bronchitis.) It was the same last year. As soon as the cold weather hit, Veronica started getting sick back to back. And it didn't clear up until spring.

There's got to be a way to give Veronica's immune system a boost. Kids get sick and some things just can't be prevented. This is just getting to be a bit much. She eats fairly well, gets rest, takes vitamins. I bought some Flintstone immunity vitamins today. Figured it can't hurt to try them. I'm just at a loss at what to do. I don't know if there is anything to do. I just want Roni well and happy!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Speaking of Christmas pictures..

Here we are way back in 2003 - our first married Christmas - at my Mom's house. We were going to my office Christmas party.

December 2004. How things had changed!! We had just made one year in the new house. We were anxiously awaiting Valerie to make her appearance!

And here we are a few weeks later on Christmas Eve with brand new Valerie. She was 3 days old.


December 2006. Valerie, Clint, me plus 1/2!

We are now a family of four! 2007


Christmas Eve, 2009

Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas pictures

Every year after we put up the tree, we take a family picture for our Christmas card. That was part of the reason we put our tree up so early - so I could order our50 free Christmas cards from Shutterfly. You wouldn't think it would be that difficult for the four of us to sit still for twenty seconds while the camera's timer snaps 10 decent photos.

Well.... let's just say it was quite an ordeal trying to get the kids to sit still and smile and look at the camera. Finally, I told them I would give them each a dollar if they sat still for a few pictures. It worked! No big smiles, but they at least sat quietly and looked at the camera.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Decorations on the tree...

I absolutely love, love my Christmas tree. It was a steal last year after Christmas. I luckily wandered into Hobby Lobby and they had just marked all the Christmas stuff down to 90% off. Huge beautiful trees. $600 trees at 90% off!! Last year we got our first real tree and it was $50 that we put on the road after Christmas. I got a 8 foot pre-lit beautiful tree for $60 that should last for years . Yes I know some of you have heard this story several times but I really, love my tree! And love that it was cheap! It has white lights but we like colored, so we added a few strands LED lights we bought for the real tree last year. And Clint did clip about a foot off the top so we could put a star and not worry about it touching the ceiling! Isn't it pretty??

That's actually my dining room. We moved the breakfast area table to the garage and moved the (nicer) dining room table in the breakfast nook.

For years we had a cardboard Christmas fireplace when I was little. I ran across one in a catalog the first Christmas we were in our house and had to get us one. That was 6 years ago and well worth the $10 I paid for it! I got the little ginger bread dolls the same year on my very last day at work. It was the ladies' Christmas luncheon/gift exchange. I was 9 months pregnant with Valerie, so winning these dolls with "2004" on them was perfect. The kids love them and they almost never stay on the fireplace.

Here's a peek at my small Christmas village. A good bit of it belonged to Clint's Mom. The nutcracker came from an returned/exchanged wedding gift!

I started displaying all the previous year's Santa pictures on our piano. I like seeing how much the girls have grown. Amazingly we only have one crying Santa picture from when Valerie was two.
My table, but of course the red place mats don't exactly stay on the table!!

Here's Harvey once again, hanging out on the window latch.

And the outside lights! Clint only decorated the porch this year due to his hurt shoulder.