Counting my Blessings

We’re going to be hosting the dinner tomorrow, and we’re lucky to have almost all of Haus Meister’s extended family with us.  While I don’t have to do all the cooking, I am roasting a 19lb bird and I have committed to a number of pies, not to mention colcannon, asparagus, and the sweet potato casserole.  And oh, the cranberries…. so I should be baking something right now instead of sitting in front of the screen…. Riiiight.

But I have a lot of fun pictures I’ve been waiting to share and now is a good time.

I’m just so thankful for this rowdy bunch of hooligans.


They make me rethink my “comfort zone” — for instance, this handsome guy with the toothsome grin JUST lost his second molar. As in, just now came up to me and motioned to his mouth where it was dangling on it’s last gasp and can I just say that extremely loose teeth make me squeamish?! His brothers are the type that will chase after me to show off their loose teeth while I scream, but he doesn’t like it any more than I do (chalk it up to extreme oral sensitivity) and so he waits to ask for help only if he thinks he needs it.  One day he came up from the basement with blood on his face and I ran downstairs expecting broken glass or something but no, he had had a tooth loose and never mentioned it. Just threw it away. Buuuut that’s neither here nor there.  The point is, I swallow my squeamishness and help yank the tooth.  And then I think I’ve made progress until someone tries chasing me with a loose tooth again….


They make me realize the wonder of God’s creation by asking a zillion questions I can’t always answer without pulling out a book–or Wikipedia.  They make me value my Faith by giving me the chance to pass it on, and help me rejoice by living it themselves.


They amuse me with a hundred fantastical stories a day, especially those made up on the spur of the moment to hopefully distract me from the fact that I’ve just assigned him a chore…


They wear princess dresses for “school pictures.” They inspire me with their enthusiasm and creativity and make me really really wish I could knit faster and that my sewing machine worked again. ;)


They challenge me a hundred ways a day, stretch me further than I thought I could go, and always always always keep me on my toes.

Because honestly, you can’t script moments like these:

(No, no one had the wine.  But we definitely started storing the box wine in a different place after I caught that!)


They keep me laughing.


They keep me smiling.


They melt my heart.  Even as they tear up my house.

And I’m especially thankful for the handsome, loving man who helps keep everything around here, including me, running smoothly.  :)


Every Recipe has a Story



Obligatory autumnal picture for a Thanksgiving recipe. I’m not Pioneer Woman, and sadly do not have a picture of my casserole.

Last week, my sister-in-law texted me for this recipe. It’s been part of most of my Thanksgivings, and when menu planning comes up, someone usually asks me to make it…including a mistake.

Let me explain. Way back in ’99 when I graduated from high school, I bought a recipe book and began jotting down favorite recipes from Mom’s collection. Somehow or other, when I copied this one, I was negligent to separate topping ingredients from the casserole ingredients! I suppose I assumed I would remember, but I didn’t, and one year I added an extra cup of sugar to the casserole. I was a huge favorite with my sisters-in-law that year.

So here, for posterity, is my mother’s Sweet Potato Casserole recipe.

(Also because I’m certain sure I’ll someday wish I had a digital copy….)

3c cooked & mashed sweet potatoes
1c sugar (+ 1c brown sugar if you want to replicate my now-legendary mistake)
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup melted butter
2 eggs
1tsp vanilla

1c brown sugar (do not omit even if you’ve added 2c sugars to the casserole)
1/3c melted butter
1c flour
1c chopped pecans or walnuts

Preheat oven to 375. In a mixing bowl, combine sweet potatoes, sugar, milk, butter, eggs, & vanilla. Mix well and spoon into a lightly greased 2qt casserole.

In a smaller bowl, combine brown sugar, flour, pecans, & melted butter, mixing well. Sprinkle over sweet potato mixture in the casserole dish.

Bake at 375 for 45 minutes or until golden brown.

No one will blame you if you eat this for breakfast the next morning. At least, I won’t. ;)

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real} November Edition 1


Today was one of those quiet, perfect November days where you can tell the daylight is waning but it was just so beautiful being outside in the coolness, listening to the wind’s attempt to finish off the leaves.  Come to think on it, it’s the first sunny afternoon in about three weeks that I haven’t heard the hum of a leaf-blower in the background.  And as you can see from these action-shots of Miss M, we still have our yard to remedy.  Oy.

Happy (except for the dreading the eventual need to rake/leaf-blow/uncover yellow grass.)



Yes, for looking at these photos I realize just how bad it’s become. This was last week, and I know I can’t see that much grass right now.


One sunny afternoon shortly after the colors peaked, I was able to get a few photos with “the good camera,” and I’m glad I did because it rained for days before and after these pictures.



Fun on Hallowe’en


Carving (well, they’re scooping out) the pumpkins that didn’t rot–except my favorite one, that is still whole and gracing the porch until after Thanksgiving:


Best purchase of the autumn.  It didn’t melt on us!



Our “Pumpkin Moonshines,” as Tasha Tudor would say. I have to be careful using that phrase, though, as it would have quite a different connotation in these here parts. ;)


Two princesses with their Daddy, Gandalf (Rascal), a storm trooper in a tunic (Dino) and a mini trooper (Miss M!), and a random Ninja we picked up on the side of the road (no really, it’s Rascal’s best friend).

Sunshine wore a “fur” coat over her pink princess gown, and Princess only realized she’d forgotten her crown when she was half-way through trick-or-treating.  Miss M decided on her own that she wanted to be a stormtrooper instead of Cinderella.  Not only is she a little short for a stormtrooper, but her curly hair and fancy pony-tail holder were visible from the back since she only had a mask! Too cute!

The Ninja’s family has a standing invitation to come trick-or-treating in our neighborhood since theirs is pretty scarce.  This is the third year we’ve done it together and we look forward to many more (the rest of his family was inside when we got the picture).



Pippin & Merry!

They are reminding me nightly that they just don’t like it when the temperature drops below 50.  They also don’t like it when the deck and stairs have leaves on them.  They don’t like it when the leaves are wet (as if I could do anything about a solid week of rain!) and their paws must touch them.

Laziest Dogs of the Year.

It didn’t help that Pippin was stung by something pretty awful on Labor Day.  Haus Meister was stung twice in September as well, while mowing the lawn.  We can’t be sure because we didn’t see it at the time, but days before, Rascal and I had noticed this Demon Ant from Hell–I mean, Velvet Ant–in our yard and after the stings I discovered it was not really an ant but a ground wasp.

Whatever it was put Pip’s leg out of commission for a good long while.  Two trips to the vet ruled out infection, and he’s doing all right although he still limps a bit.  The sting also had the unexpected effect of slimming him down, unlike his incredibly obese brother there.

 Oh Merry, if only you would get off the deck for more than five minutes and run around every now and then! But that brings me back to the outside temperature.  And wet leaves.  And the fact that they are at my back door right now with baleful looks begging me to let them in.  Leaves are falling on the stairs, after all….

Eighteen months!

She runs! She climbs! She screams if she’s not getting her way! She’s learned how to tantrum and say “no”!  But she also hugs and kisses and waves “bye,” runs to meet you, shares your candy, twirls to dance, and smiles like crazy.


She’s our Littlest, and she’s 18 months old today!


{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real} Another October post!


I love October!  Things just seem to click into place in October.  We more or less have our school schedule down pat now, we’re happily ticking off our list of projects, and the kids know what they’re going as on Hallowe’en. ;)  The weather is so much less oppressively humid and even cooled enough this week for the heat to be on at night!

We’re still plugging away at our home improvement projects.  Sometimes it’s just moving a picture to another room, and sometimes it’s laying the extra wood from the hardwood floor projects down in the stairwell.


We also acquired a new bed for our room.


It doesn’t exactly keep the toddlers out, but we’re a tad less crowded when they arrive.



New furniture in the mail = CARDBOARD BOX HOUSES!




Star Wars Overhype, anyone?


The children wanted to carve pumpkins the first week of October.  Of course I talked them out of it.  No one wants half-rotten pumpkin faces festering on their porches, after all. Unfortunately, though, I guess I could have let them carve a couple of them….


They rotted without our help.  Next year, all pumpkins need to look like the one at the top of the stairs!

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real} Mid-October


We closed on the Old Haus on Sept. 29.  That chapter of our lives is now closed as well, and I’m pleased as punch that if we had to wait four years for this, at least the buyer is precisely who we hoped for–someone who was actually looking for a house of our “vintage” and who fell in love with the arched entryways and all the other little 1940s quirks. We hope she and her daughter have many happy years there.

In the meantime, we’ve been busy now doing a million projects around here that were on the backburner until the house sold! Not to mention the daily stuff, like work, chores, childrearing, and homeschooling. :)

Pretty & Happy

Okay, we think our baby gets prettier every day.  Littlest is still littlest (there seemed to be time when she’d pass up Posey Pie, but Posey had a growth spurt and still inches her out…by an inch or two).  We also call her the “feisty little one” (influence of Star Wars), and if we weren’t already set with princess dresses, I’d send her Trick-or-Treating as R2D2 just for kicks.


Since October crept up on me, I hadn’t gotten many Fall decorations out until last weekend!  And still, someone had to bring in something a little early. This is a well loved animated Christmas thingamabob from Hallmark in 2006.  It sings and plays music and blinks lights.  There’s supposed to be some penguins but those migrated a long time ago.


And she LOVES it.  She hugs it and drags it around the house.


Morning, noon, and night.


Last Wednesday, one of my best friends and I headed out to the used bookstore because that’s what we do on our Mom’s Night Out.  We’ve “closed” the store twice now.  It’s becoming a bit of a tradition to be lingering in the aisles looking for one last treasure while the voice on the com is saying “Please make your way to the front, the store is closing in ten.” In the last five I finally found where they moved the old Pleasant Company/American Girl books and nabbed the entire original Felicity set, five Kirstens, two Mollys and a Samantha.

The boys told me next time to bring something home for them.

And guess who waited up for me?


He did let me pass.

The Gandalf wig/beard arrived in the mail two days later.  He’s wearing the Santa beard from last year. ;)



Picture of the Month.  TK-42Dino and TK-42Miss M do school on a Friday. Yes, we’ve already had to duct tape his helmet.


After 12 years of marriage, we have bought our first new (not consigned, secondhand, previously-owned by family, or garage sale) couch.


Thank you, IKEA, for this easy to assemble treasure.


Now to clean the basement before the first fire of the season.  No, that’s not dust, it’s flour.  When Miss Sunshine decides she wants her trains to run into snow, she creates it at the expense of my pantry.  But do you see my glorious Wodehouse collection? Second bookshelf, the one on the right.  We have now reached three full shelves (top 3). Give or take a book.