Sunday, January 30, 2011

Poor Sad Mama Henley!

We have had a wonderful weekend at Mama Henley's house. It has been a weekend full of friends, lacrosse games, good food, and pirates. Last night after I cleaned up from dinner and was ready to CRAWL into the bed, I decided to start the load of whites that had been accumulating in our washer all day long. I added detergent, moved the dial to hot water, and started our washer. Off I went to bed for a much needed night of rest. I do believe God has a sense of humor, so as soon as I fussed at one of our girls for not knowing where her Bible was before church, I couldn't find mine. I looked EVERYWHERE. Ever-so-gracious and one who is not prone to fall apart emotionally AT ALL (note the sarcasm in my type!), I did just that. I looked everywhere and couldn't find the cute Lilly bag that was holding all of my Bible Study stuff, including my Bible, so then I fell apart. Completely.

Our sweet children and my caring husband were all waiting for me in the car. I made us all late. Some of the children got out of the car to help me after I told DH, "I just can't go. I can't find my Bible and the whole house is a wreck and I just can't go because now I don't feel like going and I can't find my Bible and now we're going to be late and I won't be able to concentrate because I will be obsessed with finding this bag! And I know I didn't leave it anywhere because I remember having it at the kitchen table and the house is a wreck and no one made their beds well, including me, and I just can't go. I just don't feel like going any more now that I am so completely behind!"

My ever-patient husband calmly replied, "You'll feel better if you go and you need to be a good example for the children, so let's just go." I hurried around the house one last time and then gave up. Well, I sort of gave up because I asked DH to stop at the children's school so I could double check the office. It wasn't there.

I am so glad he encouraged me to go to church because our sermon was wonderful! I really was fed while I sat in church, and while our Hurricane did a good job of distracting me, the missing bag did not. Needless to say, I returned home and looked everywhere once again and still could not find my bag.

This afternoon I was going to move clothes to the dryer when I found my bag. It was IN THE WASHER. It was IN THE WASHER that ran last night as a full load because the bag was hidden in there and made the load look full. It was washed with hot water and I accidentally ruined everything in it... my Bible Study binder, my Bible, a brand new library book, a magazine, and some stationary. The good news is that I had removed my calendar and work from the bag,so they were spared. I cried and our sweet girls put all of my things out in the sunshine to dry. All is not lost, God protected my calendar and work items. I can buy a new Bible and beg a friend to let me make copies of the Bible STudy work. We did not suffer a flood or fire, and everyone is healthy. I just feel foolish for not seeing it. I learned that I often fail at showing the children how to react in a 'crisis' and that I need to pray through my responses to little things in life!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Mama Henley is the Last Woman in America Who...

Mama Henley is the last woman in America who does not have a cell phone with texting. I do not have a qwerty keyboard, a cute pink Blackberry, or an I PHone. I just have my good ole beat up Samsung. Thankfully my contract has been up for 2 years and no one "owns" me. I can walk over to any phone company and become a new customer. So, that's where you come in! What phone do you have? Do you love it? Why do I need texting? I am attached to my computer. Is that not enough? How much do you pay per month for texting and internet on your phone? I am trying to avoid huge monthly fees.

Do you think I should get the new I Phone? As much as I love all Apple products, will I Love it?

Also, hubby mentioned buying me a Kindle or Nook over Christmas but decided to wait. Why do I need those? Can you get library books uploaded for free on Kindle or should I stick with hardback books? Tell me tell me. Mama Henley needs your help!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Detective Mama Henley Reports...

Yesterday I ventured out to Target while everyone was in preschool. Armed with my coupon binder, I was ready to rock n' roll. The deals beckoned me to their aisles. I completed my shopping in time for one quick errand before I needed to do the preschool pick up. As I headed out into the parking lot, a young girl with a tattoo at the base of her neck came towards me. She seemed to be about to approach me to ask me something when she diverted her attention to a nearby elderly couple. My instincts told me that she was asking for money or a ride and for some reason, my sense of fear was heightened. This is not unusual for me, as I do tend to be paranoid, especially after a neighbor's rabid cat attacked me and I had to live with an IV for a month. Throwing grocery bags in the car, I kept my eyes on the young girl. She was cute but something was awry.

The elderly couple must have refused to help her. She walked away and then began hysterics. She talked on a cell phone, put her hands to her head, and made lots of distressing motions. Again, it seemed planned and rehearsed. It did not look like someone who was really in despair. I have no idea why I felt this way, but I did. She approached more people, acted hysterically, and then asked the next person. It just didn't sit well, so I found a Target employee who was eating lunch outside and asked her to ask the manager to come out and see if this young girl needed help. My feeling was that if she was truly in trouble, she would walk in the store and ask for help. Instead, she was canvassing the parking lot.

I drove around so that I could determine if she needed help or if she was faking it. Articles in the paper recently have discussed the rise in panhandling and the fact that several of the panhandlers, specifically the young ones, make $100 or more an hour and then DRIVE HOME. A man gave the girl some money and then a second man came towards her. I thought that he, too, was going to give her money. Instead he took the money, took her phone, and must have said, "Let's Go!" because she followed him and jumped in the DRIVER'S seat and drove to the far corner of the parking lot where they sat next to another white Sedan. Her car was a Toyota Camry. I left the parking lot at this point for fear that they realized I was following them. As I drove off, I called the Target store manager to report that her parking lot had solicitation going on that looked suspicious. She explained that the parking lot has a "no solicitation" rule, so even if the girl was indeed in trouble, she could not solicit like that.
All of this reminded me that these are weird times and that it's okay to doubt the sincerity of someone who asks for money. We should all be careful AT ALL TIMES and in ALL PLACES. I pray that this young girl will get the help she truly needs.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Tuesday's Tip!

This is a fun time of year where you may be going to Gasparilla to see the fireworks, or a trip to Disney may be on your bucket list for early 2011. If so, this Tuesday's Tip will help YOU! Whenever we are going to be somewhere fun at night with the children, I go to the Dollar Store and buy the neon glow-in-the-dark bracelets and necklaces. They even have glow in the dark princess wands and guns! If you're at the circus, the fair, a parade or Disney, people will be selling fun glow-in-the-dark toys that will break tomorrow. Your little one will BEG for one! If your bag is filled with fun neon necklaces, then you can just whip them out and your child will be thrilled, while your wallet stays full!
Happy Tuesday's Tip!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Treasure Chest Cake

Happy Gasparilla, Friends!

We are SO excited to attend the parade today with our friends and family! Gasparilla is such a fun time for our fair city. Admittedly, jolly rogers are not my favorite accessory, but they sure are cute during Gasparilla! Our house is decorated with wreaths and beads and beautiful hand-decorated jolly roger ornaments and hand towels. It's fun to be festive. Today we'll don our pirate apparel and leave super early for the parade and its surrounding entertainment. We can't wait!

To get into the spirit, we made a fun pirate treasure chest cake last night. We began this tradition last year when we made our first treasure chest cake. I have learned that I am not necessarily a neat cook, so I'm sure you can make your cake look even better than ours. The fun part of this cake is filling it with candy treasures. I had fun going to the Dollar Tree to buy candy necklaces, ring pops, gold candies, gummy worms, gummy coke bottles, wax bottles, et cetera to go inside our treasure chest.

I found this fun recipe on!!!
1 baked 13- x 9- x 2-inch cake
6 cups chocolate frosting - One container of store bought frosting will work
Edible treasures, such as chocolate coins, Rolo candies, chocolate almond kisses or Necco Wafers
Red Fruit by the Foot
Mini jawbreakers
Candy jewels, such as candy necklaces and rock candy and ring pops!

Cut a section approximately 2-inches wide in the center of the cake. The two remaining 5 1/2- x 9- x 2-inch rectangular pieces will form the bottom and top of the chest.

Slice the 2-inch section on an angle to form two long triangular wedges. Place the wedges on the bottom half of the chest, about an inch apart. Both wedges should face the same direction (tall end toward the front of the cake) as they will support the top of the treasure chest and keep it propped open.

Then frost the bottom half of cake, including the wedges.

To add further support for the top of the chest, stand a few large gold coins under the lid.

With the "hinged" end (left side of photo) at the back, place the top of the chest on the bottom and frost.

Wrap the fruit leather straps around the chest and press mini jawbreaker "nails" into the frosting alongside the straps. Fill the chest and the surrounding area with edible treasures and jewels.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Our Bug and Buddy

When our Bug was born, we thought she was the most wonderful baby in the whole world. Of course we thought that same thing 2 years earlier when the three most wonderful babies ever were born. DH and I were enamored with Bug from the start. Compared to three babies, the Bug was easy. She was a happy baby. She was just so happy that DH and I always said, "Our Bug is just happy to be here." You see, it was a miracle that I could have a baby without a lot of poking, prodding, et cetera in a sterile operating room. The Bug was the miracle we had prayed for, hoped for, and had been told would never happen. She was given to us without medical intervention.

The Bug was born in the year 2003 when many of our friends were also having new babies. It was a fun time to be a mama to a little baby. Her playgroup had over lots of babies in it, and most of them were second born babies. From birth, she was drawn to a baby boy we'll call Buddy. You know his Mama and I didn't have a thing to do with their friendship. We didn't arrange it one little bit. No. Never. NEV-AH.

Well, Bug and Buddy became closer friends than his mama and I ever imagined. They were friends and co-conspirators. They played together, laughed together, ate together, and cut hair together the day before preschool pictures. Our Bug is not lacking in personality, and neither is her Buddy. They are quite a PAIR. They just seem to enjoy each other, not in a romantic way at all. In fact, we've never pushed that with these two because what 3 or 4 year old needs to worry about marriage? What we have encouraged is their sweet friendship. It really is sweet. Special. Unique. I mean, she never worried about wearing her bathing suit in front of him with that cute little belly of hers!

These two have enjoyed playdates and birthday parties together. They never tire of one another's company.

Buddy's not even afraid to wear a little gloss for the Bug. Well, 4 years ago he wasn't afraid. He probably wouldn't do it now that he's a big boy.

One of the most difficult parts of our move was that Bug had to leave behind her 4 best friends, including Buddy. It was heart wrenching. She just loves her friends. Bug and Buddy spent some nice afternoons at Pullen Park before we had to move.

Don't you just love how much fun they have together?

At Christmas, we stopped by Buddy's house to see him and his precious family. They are dear friends and we have missed them! None of us could understand why Buddy wouldn't come out and say hello to the Bug. She finally went upstairs with all of the children and they played and talked a little. Suddenly she was shoving money in my hands and telling me she didn't know what to do but that Buddy had given her the money.

"Oh, sweetie, we can't keep Buddy's money. That is so sweet but this is $6!!! That is a lot of money. I am going to give it back to his parents." She nodded and said, "I know. He doesn't need to give me anything."

I gave his Daddy the money. Buddy was still not acting like himself so his daddy went to check on him. Buddy's daddy came back and said, "I now know why Buddy was hiding. He was so upset because he did not have a Christmas gift for Bug. He told me that he couldn't not give her a gift but that he had not had time to shop for her. He wanted to give her something so he gave her his money. He gave her ALL of his money. So, if you've ever doubted his intentions for your daughter, you should know that he gave her every last dime he had!"
We all sighed a collective "Awww!!", and I wiped away some tears. Is that not the sweetest thing ever? Buddy gave our Bug everything he had. May it be so in all of our relationships. May we ALL give all that we have.

Tuesday's Tip... Gasparilla Pirate's Rum Punch!

Aaargh... Maties!
It's that time again! Tampa will be invaded by pirates this Saturday, January 22, 2011 for the Children's Parade! Are you mateys ready? Just in time is a Gasparilla Pirate's Punch Recipe! Those who don't want the bang can enjoy Hawaiian Tropic's red punch with sprite!

Gasparilla Pirate's Rum Punch

1 part rum (Bacardi rum works just fine)
1 part cranberry juice (50 ounce bottle)
2 parts orange juice... the best kind is Tropicana with pulp
Mix all of the ingredients together and serve! I also like to add some Coco Lopez to it or use a little coconut rum to make it taste very island-y!


Saturday, January 15, 2011

New Favorite in the Kitchen

I love to cook. There are certainly days and even seasons where I do less of it, but on a good week we eat all of our meals at home. Hospitality is a gift DH and I share. We love to have others to our home, and try to do so as often as possible. Some of our favorite evenings are spent at home with a good meal and a game or deck of cards to entertain everyone following the meal. Great memories are often forged around the dinner table!

One of my new favorite ingredients is PANCETTA. Pancetta is an Italian bacon that has been cured with salt and pepper. It is much saltier than bacon. It is delicious! You buy pancetta in the deli section at the grocery store. Ask for a size 2 slice. At Thanksgiving, my dear friend, Rachel, who is an incredible cook, made the best appetizer! It was pancetta with arugula, goat cheese, and figs. I believe the recipe below is similar:

Pancetta Crisps with Goat Cheese and Figs
Makes 12

12 thin Pancetta slices

12 Arugula leaves

12 tsp. soft, fresh Goat Cheese

Fig jam or preserves

6 fresh Figs (You can substitute 6 plump dried Mission figs or 12 small fresh persimmon wedges)

You can add chopped thyme on top if you so desire

Fresh ground pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place pancetta in single layer on large rimmed baking sheet. Bake until crisp, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool 15 minutes and transfer to platter. I have also cooked pancetta in the pan like you cook bacon and that also works well. I love the little rounds it makes!

2. Top each slice with 1 arugula leaf, 1 teaspoon of goat cheese and 1/4 teaspoon of jam.

3. Depending on the size of your figs, top with 1/2 a fig. (The figs I purchased were large, so I used 1/6 of a fig per appetizer). Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper. You may want to add the thyme as well.

Bon appetit!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Two Terrific Years in Tampa

Has it really been two years? Was it 2 Christmases ago that we decorated our tree with our Christmas cards because we didn't have time to pull out all of our ornaments when we would be packing right after Christmas?

Has it been two years since dear friends gave us a going away party that we'll never forget?

Have we owned a painting by artist Shade Maret for two years? Sometimes it's hard to believe, and other times it feels like Tampa has been home for so much longer than just 2 years. Can I really not have a Raleigh Times salad whenever I want it?

Was it really two years ago that all of our worldly belongings were packed in boxes and moved to our driveway to be loaded onto a large truck for their transit to Tampa? Did we really stand in our driveway and hug our sweet neighbors and friends goodbye? To this day we have not had better neighbors than our old ones!

How did we ever have our last meal as Raleigh residents with the whole extended family? Did we eat or just cry in our pizza? How on earth did we load up all 7 of us, a dog, a computer, our sterling silver, all of our home movies, our wedding album, and special pictures of the children, fit all of it in one amazing Honda Odyssey minivan, and drive out of my parents' driveway? I'm not sure how we did it. But I do know that God was with us through every mile that we drove and every time that we stopped. Again. I'll never forget getting out of the car to take pictures at the first Florida rest stop. The temperature had completely warmed up and we began to strip layers of clothing. It was sunny and beautiful and WARM!

How were we brave enough to drive those 12 hours and then move into a local hotel for the week? How did we wake up on time to meet our new church family? God gave us the strength. Our first morning was filled with funny happenings, but look at how quickly our children made lifelong friends!!!! Can you believe that their best friends are in this first picture that we took after church? Despite the fact that we had a child vomit in the parking lot, I called someone a whore when I misunderstood their last name, and we smelled like dog doo, we still managed to make some friends! God does have a sense of humor!

How did our sweet 7 year old triplets bravely enter a new classroom where they doubled its size and knew no one? God gave them strength. He prepared them in ways we could not. They fit right in like they had always been at the school. God makes children so much more resilient than adults!

How did our little tiny 5 year old, Bug, face a whole new preschool all by herself? I don't now how she did it! She had never seen the school, we did not know her teacher, we did not know even one person at her school. But she did it. God gave her the strength and the personality to cope. She went right in and started making friends, just as our Bug always does. She left her very best friends in NC, and she did not immediately make new best friends. However, over the next year, she made wonderful friends and now has best friends here. We are so grateful.

Did our 5 monkeys really swim in January? Now that we are thin-blooded Floridians, I don't think they could do it! However, we happily obliged them when we arrived in the Sunshine State. We still love our pool. We are so grateful for this home. Most of all, we are grateful for the many countless ways the Lord has blessed us here. We never desired to leave our home in North Carolina. We were quite content. Sometimes the Lord has different plans for us. We knew we had to follow Him, and we're so glad that we did. Happy Two Years in Tampa!!!!!!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Tuesday's Tip!

You know, you always need to listen to Mama. And MY Mama says that sponges are huge breeders of germs. She noted that a recent study found that sponges often have MORE germs than the toilet seat they are trying to clean. Can we say a collective, "EWWWWWW!!!!". Yuckers. Anyhoo, Mama has the perfect solution to kill those germs. Wet your sponge and ring it out so that it is damp. You do not want it to be dripping wet. Place the damp sponge in your microwave and put it on high for 2 minutes. This kills all of the germs on your sponge. You should do this DAILY. Once you open your microwave, you will find that any dirt in the microwave has been loosened because the damp sponge becomes a sauna of sorts for your microwave. The loosened food spots are now easier to clean and you have a damp sponge in hand that is is disinfected and ready to do more dirty work! Isn't Mama smart?!
Happy 1/11/11!!!!!!!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Our Sweet Baby Angel

We had quite a scare this weekend. Our little angel, Hurricane, was put to bed on Saturday night and then came downstairs asking for milk. DH & I were selfishly looking forward to a date night with a movie a friend had loaned us. We asked our little Hurricane to go back to bed. As she walked up the stairs, she tripped and fell. We heard a loud cry. Bless her heart. DH reached her first and picked her up. Blood was pouring out of her precious mouth. We realized she had bit her tongue. I tried to look at it, but I wanted to pass out. She had bit it all the way across with multiple lacerations. It would not stop bleeding. Thankfully my dear friend rushed over so that I could ride with DH to the Emergency Clinic.

I was panicked by the time we arrived at the clinic. She was continuing to bleed, and we were all very afraid. It looked horrifying! The nurse brought us a pale pink tongue-colored ice pop for her to put on the tongue. You do not want a color that will mask the injury until the doctor has seen it. I sang songs like "Jesus Loves Me", prayed, and cried. DH kept telling me I needed to be strong for our sweet baby. The doctor finally came in the room. He examined her tongue and assured us she is going to be okay. He explained that she had a moderate wound and that it actually had good placement. We praised God that it was not severe (Trust me, you do not want to see anything more severe than this!). He said that he would not try to put stitches in in since it was not clipped on the side and that it would heal on its own. We thanked the Lord over and over that she is okay! The bleeding finally stopped after 2 ice pops. She came home on a diet of very soft foods only and no salt. Her tongue has healed in amazing ways. Thank you, Lord!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Frugal Finds for Dinner

Eating at home often saves time, money, and calories! We love family dinner at Mama Henley's house and try not to miss one. Thankfully our move to Florida has allowed us to focus more on this grand old family of 7. Feeding a big family is no easy task as it's hard to find meals that please everyone while not eating Chick Fil A nuggets 6 nights a week! Therefore, I have started trying to make meals that make one child really super happy while most everyone else will eat it. I rotate so that everyone enjoys their favorites at some point during the month.
Coming home after a week away means lots of extra laundry and gifts to put away in a new home. We've been cleaning house, putting away the last of the Christmas items, and washing lots of clothes. I have also been trying to cook at home every meal. Last Monday night we had the frozen PF Chang's entrees. Tuesday morning I cooked 4 pounds of ground beef. I cooked 2 of those pounds with chopped onion and the other without. Cooking all of your ground beef at one time saves a lot of time! Sometimes I freeze some of the cooked ground beef, but this week I was able to use all of it.
The ground beef cooked with onion was used to make spaghetti sauce. I brown my beef and then add things like oregano, basil, garlic powder, chopped green peppers, chopped carrots, diced tomatoes, a little Maldon sea salt, and tomato sauce. I usually add a really big container of store bought spaghetti sauce as well. The brand depends on what is in our garage pantry! I buy pasta and pasta sauce on sale. We have not found a huge difference in taste. I probably had $3-4 in extra ingredients and $6.00 in the 2 pounds of ground beef. At most our meal cost $10.00. All 7 of us had spaghetti and then I made a spaghetti pie for some friends. I even had a little sauce leftover! So $5.00 for one meal for 7 people is great plus the $5.00 to feed our friends a spaghetti pie!
The other 2 pounds of cooked ground beef was used to make tacos on Wednesday night. Our children LOVE tacos. I have quit buying the store bought taco seasoning because it is cheaper and better for you to make your own. There are no preservatives when you make it yourself. I brown the meat and add LOTS of chili powder, some cumin, some garlic powder, and a little red pepper if we want it to be spicy. After the meat is cooked and covered in these spices, I add at least 1/2 cup water just like you do with the seasoning packets. I just shake the chili powder until it looks right and the tacos always taste great! We love to dress up our tacos with cheese, guacamole, sour cream, salsa, black or refried beans, et cetera. I made a taco salad over spinach and arugula and added some of the jasmine rice from Monday night! I usually just buy tortillas, but I had a really cheap soft taco kit from a buy one/get one free deal, so we used those tortillas for this meal. Since all of the toppings are things we keep on hand, this meal only cost around $7 or $8!
Thursday is a full day for our family with lots of activities. I am not home to start dinner until after 6pm. Therefore, dinner has to be prepared in advance or cooked when we walk in the door. This week I decided we would actually eat our leftovers rather than just say we were going to eat them! Some of us had pasta with red sauce or spaghetti sauce and others had tacos! Of course we had fruit and salads with our meals as fillers. All in all, it was a frugal week of eating at home!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Ahoy there, Matey!

One of my favorite things about Tampa is that the winter blues never have a chance to begin here. As you begin taking down your Christmas decorations, you must start facing forward and planning for Gasparilla. Gasparilla now takes place over two weekends with a Children's Parade the weekend of January 22, followed by the crazy Gasparilla on January 29th. Virgin eyes should stay away on the 29th! The whole city unites for these fun events and doors are decorated with pirate wreaths and homes have pirate decor. You may remember that I made a pirate cake last year.

As I took down our very dead Christmas wreaths, I happily replaced them with our oh-so-tacky but oh-so-festive Gasparilla wreaths. I started to put away our hot pink tinsel tree until I realized it would look fabulous with beads thrown all over it. I saved last year's beads so that I would have plenty for decorating purposes. The children loved throwing beads at the pink tinsel tree and at our front hall mirror. It is fun to be festive!

While in one of my favorite local stores, Baby Sweet Pea, I overheard some women talking about what they'll wear to all of the YMKG events. I learned that gold is the color to be seen in this year. What fun the ladies will have in choosing their dress for the Captain's Ball and other events!

Of course, I love focusing on what the children will wear. My favorite children's line of all time is called Two Friends. Sadly they have had to retire due to the busy demands of life with children. Thankfully, Mama Henley's girls can STILL wear their pirate dresses from a few years ago! If not, I have been perusing the web for great ideas for your little one to be fashionable at the parade! I'll see you there!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Miss Nancy Minds Their Manners

You all may remember that I wrote a post in May 2009 about the most fabulous Manners Camp in Hertford, North Carolina. Real life Nancy Rascoe is ever a Southern Bell. At 74 years old, she taught our triplets about manners, life, and fun in the rivah (river). They learned how to set and clear the table for dinnah (dinner), how to shake someone's hand and make introductions, and how to answer the telephone. Miss Nancy and her staff of Mr. Peter, Miss Blue, and Miss Anna were there to charm, love, and teach our precious little dahlins. At the end of the week, parents answered a handwritten invitation for tea by returning at noon on a Friday for tea and a presentation. Let me just tell you, seeing your child at Manners Camp simply melts your heart.
My heart was not the only one that melted. The fabulous duo of Martha Daniels and Caroline Paxton managed to make a documentary film about Miss Nancy and her Manners Camp houseparties. It is a modern day look at the South. Miss Nancy runs her camps in the summer, but her real work happens as a volunteer at the local elementary school during the school year. She is a true Southern lady, and I am privileged to know her. The talented Martha Daniels and Caroline Paxton have done an AMAZING job of capturing Miss Nancy and the precious children that have entered her life. You will love this movie!
Our son loved Miss Nancy and her camp so much that he requested to attend it TWICE. He did! In fact, at age 9 1/2, he said he would LOVE to go back! We recently watched the documentary on DVD Our family laughed and cried! We had a room full of grandparents, aunts, uncles, and baby cousins who watched this captivating film. If you love the South, are a fan of manners, or appreciate a true work of art documentary, then you need to order a DVD TODAY!
As always, the Southern Documentary Fund is a great place to donate to keep our southern culture alive! If you would like to order a DVD for your own enjoyment, Martha Daniel has offered a great deal for TODAY ONLY. The DVDS are usually $25 each. She is offering them for $18 per DVD and that includes tax and shipping. You will need to SEND check (not Pay Pal
online) to Martha Daniel at Daniel Design Associates with their name and address to:
Daniel Design
132 Candlewood Road
Rocky Mount, NC 27804
Questions: 252 813 9103
Hurry, because Martha only has a few copies left before she is sold out until her next big order!

Tuesday's Tip

Wow! December is over and I can hardly believe it. I will certainly miss the daily influx of Christmas cards with smiling faces of our friends and family. December is my favorite month to go to the mailbox. January not-so-much! December = happy smiling faces and January = bills bills bills!
However, December tends to be so FULL. We all find ourselves racing from one thing to the next no matter how hard we try to simplify. It just happens. While I opened and enjoyed every single Christmas card, I have not had time to really sit down and peruse each one in depth. So, this January I will keep our cards out. They are in a cute gold star basket. Each night we will chose a few cards and share the story of that person or family and then we will pray for them. What better use for these cards than for them to be prayed over for their year. None of us knows what tomorrow holds and we can never pray enough for those we love. How do you use your Christmas cards once Christmas is over?

Monday, January 3, 2011

Frugal Finds for Dinner

It's January. Your heart is full, but your wallet is not. Perhaps you ate like a queen during the month of December. You ate well, attended many a party, and gave and received fabulous gifts. January 1, 2011 rolled around, and you realized it's time to reel it all back in. Perhaps you've put yourself on a spending freeze or you're vowing to be healthier in 2011. We could all stand to do both of those!
At Mama Henley's house, our move to Florida has really put our lives in perspective. Knowing God and enjoying Him is our first priority. Our next priority is the 7 people who live under this roof. We've enjoyed lots of good family time, and one of our favorite times together has always been dinner together. In the past two years, we've eaten at home more than ever. Now don't get me wrong, I love nothing more than to sit and be served and to not have to clear the dishes and put away leftovers. However, reality is that it is smarter to eat at home than to eat out. It saves money and is often healthier.
Last night we drove in from a 12 hour drive. I did not make it to the store today in time to buy dinner. However, I have always been a planner and a girl who is not afraid to store some food. In situations like today, it pays off. I knew that I had plenty of delicious jasmine rice on hand and that our freezer contained some BOGO (buy one, get one free) PF Changs entrees. Voila! We had dinner. We simply warmed the beef and chicken dishes in the skillet, cooked the rice, and poured milk for the children. Using my coupons, I am guessing we did not have more than about $6 or $7 invested in our dinner that served all 7 of us with some leftover rice!
This month I will try to tell you ways that we are cutting back and eating at home!

Pennywise but POUND FOOLISH!

We had a wonderful Christmas filled with great times with both sides of the family. For that, we are thankful. For the 12 hour ride to NC and back, we're just thankful we made it. Sometimes I wish we could just push Georgia and South Carolina out of the way and be home. Whew. We're thankful to be home, sleeping in our queen sized bed instead of 2 twins! Ha!
During our brief trip to NC, we planned several visits and lunches and dinners with family. We had a great lunch with my mother's brother, and we looked forward to a huge visit with 22 of us on my father's side the following day. In fact, we had planned the lunch and made reservations for the 22 of us before Christmas to make sure it would all happen. My aunt and her children and their spouses and children all traveled 2 hours to be with us. While they were making their trek to Raleigh, we received an email that our lunch destination had to close due to an emergency situation: the main water main had broken and was being repaired. They had no water service and had told all of the servers and cooks to stay home. We quickly formulated a plan to eat somewhere else.
We've always loved Midtown Bar and 115. They said they could accommodate all 22 of us in their back room. Perfect. I called back to see if they have a Children's Menu. The person who answered the phone said that they do not but that the children could order a burger. I went online to discover that the burgers are gourmet $10 burgers that my children won't eat. They like little think burgers, not big adult burgers. So, I asked DH to run by Chick Fil A where I bought chicken nuggets with the intention of buying sides like chips or french fries or fruit at the restaurant. I was not trying to cheat the restaurant; they had 15 paying adults plus the sides for the children. It was our family Christmas lunch; revenue was guaranteed!
The server immediately told me I would have to hide the bag and use plates. I told her that would be fine. I figured they'd have plates for the side dishes anyway. We had two long tables of 11. Apparently an assistant manager came to my father and told him that the restaurant was going to charge $5 PER PLATE for the children to eat the nuggets in their restaurant. My father quietly explained that he was not going to pay $30-35 for children to have a plate and that we would have to leave if the manager chose to force the issue. Believe it or not, the manager would not waive the plate fee. The manager allowed TWENTY TWO PEOPLE to walk out of an empty restaurant at 12:30pm on the Wednesday after Christmas. There were maybe 2 or 3 other small tables. They had set up our tables with water and linens and they LET US LEAVE. IN fact, they basically ASKED us to leave!!!! All over $30!!!!! So, Midtown Bar and 115 lost a huge lunch tab on a day the restaurant was DEAD over $30. And that, my friends, is pennywise and pound foolish! As you can imagine, this dear struggling restaurant will never see Mama Henley's face again. There are too many good places to eat that are more than willing to accommodate their diners. Good luck, Midtown!