Monday, March 28, 2011

Random thoughts

Just look at the gorgeous sunrise I saw on my way to work Friday morning.  It’s finally daylight when I leave in the mornings now! 

I couldn’t help myself.  I pulled over on a side road to take this picture.  It only made me a little late for work.  Fortunately, my boss understands.  Smile

When I got back home, this is what I got to do Friday afternoon.  Look at the gorgeous blue sky.  Ahhh…Spring!
IMG_6184A good wife always drives with the flashers on and follows her husband while he’s driving a tractor so no one comes over the hill and hits him.  Of course, someone could hit me instead but we won’t go there.

Saturday I had the day at home by myself, which is a rarity, so I buried myself in the sewing room.  That is, after I put soup for supper in the pot, made cornbread, a cake to take to work on Monday and cleaned the house. [sigh].  Once I did finally get to the SR I was able to complete my part in Baby Ella’s crib bumper.  My friend Joyce embroidered the name on her fancy dancy embroidery machine & I put together the cover on my semi-not so fancy machine.

Bumper in bed

(above photo courtesy of DIL

I also finished a few bibs


and another hat.
I’m on the home stretch.
I only have one more baby project to finish. 

The other two grands came for a visit on Saturday night so Mom & Dad could have a date night which could be the last for awhile once Baby Ella makes her appearance.  We so enjoy our grandchildren!  They sure can make us laugh and we can’t hardly wait to add another comedian to the troupe!

And last but not least I have a need to tell you about a movie we watched last night.  First of all, did you know you could rent movies off of Amazon?  Slick, I tell ya!  $3.99 for a 24 hour rental and you can watch it instantly.  Technology, I tell ya!  We watched “Get Low” with Robert DuVall, Lucas Black, Bill Murray & Sissy Spacek. 

Get Low cover
“Get Low” is a PG-13 drama with just enough humor thrown in to make it a joy to watch.  Bill Murray had a line regarding snowflakes in July(I won’t give it away) that had me chuckling yet this morning in the way to work.
”Get Low” has an interesting storyline for sure. It’s loosely based on a true story that took place back in the 30’s in East Tennessee.
A big take away for me was the realization how people build their own personal jails trying to runaway from shame and fears or maybe because they feel it’s a punishment they deserve after they’ve messed up. I think we all do that from time to time.  Maybe not to the extreme that Robert Duvall’s character did but we still do.  When all we need to do is take those shames and fears to the cross to give it all to Christ and receive the freedom only He can give.  If you get the chance, definitely give “Get Low” a shot.  It’ll be worth your time. 

Have a good week!

Monday Pile update

The pile is getting smaller day by day.  The 40 degree highs we’ve had the last few days and forecasted for this week aren’t helping it any.


The bright side is no new snow has been added to it!

So Jeanne (March 24) and Mr. Phil (March 25 – he even threatened to come move it so I would think it was gone and he would win. AGHAST I am! Winking smile  Cheaters never prosper, don’t ya know!) are out of the running. 

And Steph (March 29) unless we get a heat wave overnight, I think you’re out of the game too.  Sorry guys. 

We still have a lot of dates in April to go yet. 

I know you’re riveted to your computers so stay tuned for further updates! Smile

Monday, March 21, 2011

Good stuff’s a comin’

In any spare time I’ve had which unfortunately hasn’t been much, I’ve been sewing, sewing and sewing some more.

We have a new granddaughter coming soon you see.  We can’t wait to meet Miss Ella Rae.  Miss Ella is due to arrive April 21st but using my grandmotherly wisdom. (I am 50 now so I can be grandmotherly and have wisdom, right?) I don’t think she’s going to wait that long to make her appearance. 

I have a set of bibs and an afghan to complete yet and I’ve already made burp rags and a hat.  Then last night I finished these two receiving blankets and another hat.


Both of these are a brighter pink than they photographed.

And if a new baby isn’t enough, we have more good stuff comin’!

See these two?

IMG_4925They have finally set a wedding date!  Joe & Kristen have been together since 2002 and on Saturday, June 4th we’ll celebrate their marriage with them at casual backyard BBQ and car show. 
What?  You’ve never heard of a car show wedding before?  Really? Smile 
A big chunk of their world revolves around cars and car shows so what better way to celebrate their new life together than to have a car show at their celebration! 
We’re so excited for them.

Lots of good stuff a-comin’ in the Miller family for sure!

Snow pile update

For those of you playing along…the pile is getting smaller but not very quickly.


More dessert auction pictures

You can read yesterday’s post for more background on this dessert auction.

Here’s a few more pictures.

As you walked in you were greeted by this table loaded with 24 unbelievable desserts.

The checkerboard cake you see in the front raised $230.  The Toffee Trifle in the bottom right corner brought in $350.  The Scarlet Strawberry Pie in the top left corner went for $350 as well.

How cute are these Tuxedo Strawberries? 
They raised $175 and were delicious.  How do I know that?  The table that won the bid was willing to share.Smile

Check out this fun little lady bug that sold for $110.
Case-IH fans paid $230 for this cute cake. How fun would this be for a little boys birthday cake?  The tires were made out of donuts!  The things people think of.
This cake was called “Nuts about Music”.  It was loaded with toasted macadamia nuts raising $300.
This coconut cake looked so elegant.  Sometimes simplicity is best, isn’t it?  to the tune of $260.

I thought these parfaits were a wonderful idea.  There were 8 different ones sure to suit all the unique tastes at your table. $675
Isn’t this present pretty?  It was a chocolate chiffon cake wrapped in marshmallow fondant. $260
This one amazed me the most though.  It was a French chocolate and vanilla layered cheesecake topped with a tower made completely from white chocolate.  Amazing!  $360.
I didn’t hear a grand total for the evening but am guessing the ministry came out pretty well plus we all had a blast in the process.  That’s the sign of a great fundraiser. 

I hope you enjoyed the pictures and I didn’t make you too hungry. 

I think I’ll go eat some sugar now!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Dessert Auction

Friday night we attended a fundraiser for Deer Ridge MinistriesDeer Ridge is the work project we participated in during December & January. You can check out the project on my previous blog posts.

 Deer Ridge provides week-long retreats for pastors and their spouses free of charge. 

As part of their fundraising, they host an annual prime rib dinner and dessert auction. 


Patrons purchase dinner tickets, desserts are donated and then auctioned off prior to dinner.  It’s a good thing it’s prior to dinner because after a person stuffs themselves with all the delicious prime rib and accompaniments they wouldn’t pay near as much for the desserts.  Do it while everyone is hungry!  Now, that’s a good plan!

Most tables pooled their money together so they could pay a higher price.  There were 24 desserts and 21 tables so some tables ended up with more than one dessert.  Nothing went for under $75. 

My friend, Jodee
and I created and donated four desserts.  This was our first year baking for the event and we’ve now decided four desserts might have been a pretty big first bite (no pun intended).  We’re already thinking only two for next year. Winking smile

We made….
Molten Chocolate cupcakes which netted the ministry $170.

Our Toffee Cheesecake brought in $300.

Red Velvet Cake which we covered with black fondant letters and displayed on a typewriter to go with the evenings theme of “What’s black, white & red(read) all over? – Deer Ridge News!”
This cake brought in $300 as well.

But the top price we got for what we brought which was also the top price for a dessert that evening was the Cream Puff Cake we made.
This little beauty brought in $850!  Utter Craziness!

All in all, from what we made the ministry gained $1620!  And there were still 20 other desserts to be auctioned off.

Our table of nine people pooled our resources and purchased this rich brownie pizza cheesecake with red raspberries and plums on top for $260.

and also ended up with this

bowl of homemade hand dipped chocolate covered cherries & organic coffee for $75.  DH was running up another table and got “hung”.  Is getting “hung” with chocolate covered cherries a bad thing? 

The fun thing was after dinner and the auction was over, the tables all traded around what they bought so if there was something you really wanted a taste of, most people were willing to share. 


to be continued tomorrow with pictures of the some of the other desserts……

Rainy Lazy Sunday

We woke to a thunderstorm this morning.  What a wonderful sound it was as opposed to the howling winter winds and subzero temperatures.

It just might be a lazy kind of day today.  Tippy’s has a head start on the laziness factor.


For those of you who haven’t made a guess as to how long this pile of snow is going to be around,IMG_6101

please do so by tomorrow night, March 21st 6pm CST.  I’ll be cutting off guesses at that time.  See the initial post on this contest here.

With skies that look like this …..


(Disregard the piece of cardboard laying in the yard. Sad smile)
There’s no telling how long the pile will last. 

I’ll be taking an updated “pile picture” early this week so you can see the progress.  Yup, things are that slow here in the Midwest that we’re watching snow melt. [sigh]

Friday, March 18, 2011

Thank you Beverly!

Look what was waiting for me when I got home from work yesterday!

I won a giveaway over at “The Beverly Buzz” for a Bath & Body gift card.  I thought that was all she was sending me but instead there was a large poufy envelope on my doorstep. 

Look at all the fun stuff! 


A beautiful soft red scarf, a nice little diary book, a sparkly bracelet, a lovely note and a gift card to Bath & Body!  Moonlight Path Shower Cream is my favorite!

The scarf and bracelet were made by Beverly’s daughter Lauren.  Check out Lauren’s “The Crafty Pirate” Etsy shop here.

Thank you so much Beverly!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

How long will it take to melt contest?

Yes, that’s right I’m having a “How long will it take to melt?” contest!

See this dirty, grimy pile of snow?


The truck is an S-10 pickup truck if that gives you a perspective on the size.  This pile, located outside of the building I work in is at least 10 – 12 feet shorter than it initially was plus it stretched to the light pole. 

The ultimate question is…how many Northern Illinois Spring days will it take to melt it completely?  The last few days have been nice and sunny with temps in the 50’s but it still dips down to below freezing at night.  And you never know, we could even have more snow yet which would add to it or days of warm rain that would melt it faster.

Are you willing to take a guess?  There just might be a prize involved for the winner.  Of course, we don’t have a correct answer yet.  We won’t until the pile is melted.  But that’s okay because I haven’t thought of a prize yet either!

So, come on and play along, will you?  To enter, just leave a comment with the date that you think the pile will be totally gone.  It’s that simple!

Ready, set, go!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Lucky Hodge Podge

Welcome to Joyce's "Lucky" Hodge Podge.

and this week's answers are.....

1. What would you do if you found a pot of gold? Let's pretend that pot of gold is worth exactly $1500 (which would actually be more like a cup of gold at current values). Anyway, let's also pretend you have to spend it as opposed to making a donation somewhere. Now, tell me what you would do with that cup pot of gold?
I have always wanted to take our kids and grands away for a few days in the mountains. It’s one of those things that’s been in the back of my mind for a long time but haven’t been able to act on it due to the cost.

I could use the $1500 to rent the cabin, pay for their fuel (or maybe only part of it the way fuel prices are rapidly rising) to get there and the groceries for the week. Anytime of the year would be good but I especially would like to do take a trip in the fall, maybe over Thanksgiving.

So Joyce, when are you sending the map to find that pot of gold???  It would make me ever so happy if you did.

2. Do you celebrate St. Patrick's Day in any way, shape, or form?
Not really. I usually make a batch of corned beef and cabbage at some point for DH. It’s not my favorite meal but he likes it.

3. Have you been bitten by the Spring Cleaning bug? What spring cleaning job most needs doing at your house? What spring cleaning job are you most dreading?
I can’t wait to start Spring cleaning. We a corn stove for heat. I love the heat it throws but it’s really dirty and dusty. To clean all of that up and wash down walls is a task I never mind doing in the spring as it feels so nice & clean when I’m done.

The job that needs done the most and I’m dreading the most is one in the same. Windows! I can’t stand dirty windows but in the same turn, absolutely hate washing them. It’s such a never ending battle. As soon as they’re washed, they’re dirty again!

4. lime-shamrock-sage-forest....your favorite shade of green?
Lime, sage & forest all work for me! You can keep the shamrock green though.

5. Thomas Jefferson once said, "I'm a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it." So... do you believe in luck or do you believe we make our own luck?
I don’t really believe in luck but there are some people who always seem like the sun is shining on them in whatever they do. Either that or it’s the only side they let others see.

Prayer, God’s blessing and hard work is the way for me.

6. Monday (3/14) was Pi Day. Get it? 3/14 is Pi Day. Those math types are so clever, aren't they? Since I'm not one of them tell me what's your favorite piE (the edible kind)?
Lemon Meringue all the way baaabbeee!

7. That same date (3/14) was also the birth date of the late physicist, Albert Einstein. I bet he knew the value of pi. What do you think is more important and/or valuable in life...intelligence or common sense?
Both are valuable but I’d take common sense anyday over intelligence. Working at a college, I see my fair share of highly educated people who can't  find their way out of a cardboard box. However, I’m fortunate that most of the people I work directly with have both common sense and intelligence and are a true pleasure to be around.

8. Insert your own random thought here...
Thinking ahead to my weekend…we are going to a fundraiser Prime Rib dinner and dessert auction for Deer Ridge Ministries on Friday night. Deer Ridge is the ministry we participated in a work project at over the Holidays. You can read more about that project here, here and here. Tomorrow afternoon, my friend Jodee and I are making four desserts for the auction. So, I’m thinking about how we’re going to display those desserts.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Mardi Gras Hodge Podge

It’s Hodge Podge time with Joyce over at “From this Side of the Pond”….

“Happy Shrove Tuesday or Fat Tuesday or just regular old Tuesday!

Here are this week's questions for our weekly Hodgepodge...answer on your own blog and then hop back here tomorrow (Wednesday) to link with the rest of the party go-ers.

It will be like our own little Mardi Gras...see you there!” 

I have to laugh at this a little bit at Joyce’s reference to Mardi Gras.  My memories of Mardi Gras aren’t necessarily “party” memories.  We’ve inadvertently taken a few of our mission trips to New Orleans during Mardi Gras week.  We finally got to the point that we would schedule around going during that time because it was near impossible to do our construction work with stores being closed, etc.  In fact the first year we were there was the February after Katrina hit.  We stayed in a FEMA camp out in Chalmette and on Fat Tuesday/Ash Wednesday, no one came to pump out and clean the shower and toilet trailers because it’s a holiday for the New Orleans folks.  Picture this (or maybe not) 800 volunteers and residents in a camp and the bathroom trailers haven’t been pumped out in two days.  All I can say is it wasn’t pretty.  I’ll spare you the details. 

On to the Podge!

1. The season of Lent begins on March 9th this you participate and if so, in what way?  
Our church fasts at the beginning of the year so I don’t typically give anything up during this time but I do celebrate our Risen Savior at Easter.

2. Traditionally pancakes are eaten on the day known as Shrove Tuesday which is the last day before Lent (March 8th this year). So....butter and syrup? Blueberry? Chocolate chip? ewww, no thanks!! What's your pleasure when it comes to eating pancakes?
Butter, syrup, whipped cream and any kind of berries work for me!

3. Spring is coming. (It is coming, right?) What's your favorite springtime flower and do you suffer from seasonal allergies? Two questions I know, but they're lightweights.
My favorite isn’t technically a flower but more of a branch.  Pussywillows!  I can remember walking home from elementary school on one of the first warm spring days and seeing them popping open.  Whenever they come out in the spring, it always takes me back to those times.

4. "Our opinion of people depends less upon what we see in them than upon what they make us see in ourselves." Author unknown. Agree or Disagree? Why?
I try (notice I said try) really hard to not judge people because everyone has a story to tell of some sort and are the way they are because of life circumstances be those good or bad.  However, I frequently fail miserably on the “not formulating an opinion/judging” scale most of the time.  In fact, tonight I called someone a weasel!  It was a man DH has had dealings with over the years.  I’ve never trusted him and I doubt I ever will.  See there I go again! Still trying…..

5. Since it's "March" and also the season of Mardi Gras....have you ever been in a parade? 
A recent parade I was in was supporting a good friend on her mission to stomp out breast cancer and spread the word about early detection.  You can read about it here.

What's the best parade you've seen?
A few years back we took the train into Chicago for the Thanksgiving Day parade. 
thanksgiving parade

What a great way to spend Thanksgiving Day!

6. You would jump up and down and shout for joy right now if someone told you___________?
That I could retire tomorrow with full benefits!  You couldn’t hold me down or begin to wipe the smile off my face.  Smile

7. How clean is your car on the outside? Inside? Is there junk in your trunk?
oohhh, ouch!  Right now the outside of my car is full of salt and road grime from the lovely winter we’ve had.  It’s supposed to be warmer this week so I might actually be able to wash it without the fear of the doors freezing shut.  The inside is relatively clean though and the only things in the trunk are cooler bags and reusable grocery sacks.

8. Insert your own random thought here.
It’s really hard to come back to work after being gone for a week’s vacation. Tonight when I left the piles on my desk were starting to go down so I’m making some headway finally.

Now this is what I call growing old gracefully!

A friend of ours sent this link to us.

Love it!

Monday, March 7, 2011

When the cat’s away the mice…

trash decorate the cat’s office!

I quietly slipped out of town last week to celebrate my mid-century mark birthday in Tennessee.  I naively thought it could pass without much fanfare.  Knowing the guys I work with, I should have known better.

This is what I saw when I opened my office door this morning. 


Part of the mess is just the paperwork & mail that stacks up while one is gone but the rest of the mess are jabs gifts from my co-workers.

There was cake that my boss made himself.  How many bosses do that?

and 50 of all kinds of things…tea bags, paper clips, Qtips(for cleaning all the wrinkles-nice, huh?), pennies, Hershey’s Hugs, Ghirardelli chocolates, Dove chocolates, Tootsie Pops, a 50 page notepad so I don’t forget things, computer CD’s & cases, quilting pins, coupons for 50 free manicures in our Cosmetology Department(yea!) and even 50 rolls of toilet paper.

Little did they know how timely this is as I’m on a liquid diet today for a fun little test tomorrow.

And of course, 50 balloons all over my floor!  Too bad the Grands didn’t stop by today, they would have had a riot with all of them.
P3050002I work with some crazy people who are truly like family.  I never had any brothers but I now have a hallway full of them!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

A few vacation faves


IMG_5942No trip to the south is complete without a stop at Sonny’s BBQ.

IMG_5965Foggy morning on Foothills Parkway

IMG_5963We stumbled across the Bush’s Bean factory in Chestnut Hill, Tennessee.  Who would have thought learning about beans could be so much fun?

IMG_6015Sunset over the Maryville valley from Foothills Parkway.


Tellico Plains Bakery – another great stop.  Their cherry turnovers are the best! 
Do you notice a food theme going on here?  You’re just lucky I didn’t take pictures of Chick-Fil-A or Backyard Burger.  Smile 

When in the south a person HAS TO eat at the places we don’t have up here in the great white north!

IMG_6041Cades Cove – such a peaceful place

A church in Cades Cove

Welcome to my new home! Smile 
What a fun little cabin in the Cove.

IMG_6077A few trees were already blooming making us really hungry for Springtime.

IMG_6081The view from an overlook north of Bean Station on 25E in northeast Tennessee.  Wouldn’t it have been more appropriate for Bush’s Beans to be located in Bean Station than Chestnut Hill? 

A few other things we learned during our trip…

*Don’t go to Sonny’s BBQ at 1:00 on Sundays – busy, busy, busy.

*Curvy mountain roads are no fun when it’s dark and raining.

*Tornado warnings are just as scary in Tennessee as they are here in the Midwest.

*The Titanic exhibit in Pigeon Forge is well worth the time.

*When they tell you a time share presentation will only last 90 minutes and if you’re there longer than that it’s because you want to stay, THEY LIE! (but we did get free Titanic tickets out of the deal)

*A southern accent is very easy to pick up inside of a week’s time.

*Lid’l Dolly’s in Pigeon Forge is a scary place.  I swear the eyes of the dolls followed me as I wandered through the store.

*Food is overpriced in Pigeon Forge.

*There are way too many flashing billboards in Pigeon Forge.

* We don’t care for Pigeon Forge. (can you tell? – sorry Dolly)

*Brussel sprouts fixed with a sweet-sour sauce and bacon are yummy!

*I’m too cheap to pay $7 per day at a resort to use their Wi-Fi.

Tennessee wineries are wonderful.  Hillside Winery Black-n-Blue baby!

*Chick-Fil-A really is as good as they say.

*Donna’s CafĂ© in Madisonville is a wonderfully, friendly place to eat lunch.  It’s pretty amazing when you show up at a place once a year, they remember you and ask if you want your usual table.

*Southern folks are very friendly and helpful.

*We never tire of the Appalachian Mountains!