Friday, December 30, 2016

Goodbye 2016, Hello 2017

I've been thinking about 2016 these last few days.  It hasn't been a bad year really but it hasn't been a great year either.  Its been good, that is, up until these couple of weeks.  We found out before Christmas my brother Tony has cancer. I'm not going to lie, when I saw the message I broke down and I broke down hard.  I knew absolutely nothing except that he had cancer and was being referred to MD Anderson.  We now know he has esophageal cancer and it appears the cancer has been caught early.  More testing today will determine that and what treatment will be best.  Most likely it will be radiation and chemotherapy. The doctors are very positive and talk in terms of curing his cancer.  Tony's attitude is great.  He's ready to kick this cancer in its ass.  He has an army of support and prayers right behind him.  We are all right here with him to give him whatever he needs.  With that being said, we are all ready to say goodbye to 2016 and hello to 2017.  We are ready, hopeful and thankful for many new days ahead.  Cancer puts your life in perspective.  Makes you see what's important and what isn't. I saw something the other day that said...

365 new days.  365 new chances.

I like that a lot.  I like the start of a new year.  Fresh start.  Not sure why a new year does that to everyone when we should get up every day with a fresh start.  I totally get it though, some days are easier than others. Positive thinking helps and I'm trying more every day.

I want to share this picture of me with my siblings we took Christmas Day.  Its rare you get all of us together for a picture but I'm glad Tony suggested it.  I think this one turned out pretty great....


Friday, December 16, 2016

Hank & Christmas

Hank the Elf finally made his debut late last week. The weather had been horrible at the North Pole so he wasn't able to travel before then.

He hasn't done anything too crazy...but has made Bella laugh a few times.

She really liked the snowflakes he made...

And when he decided to prop himself up on the rooster...

Yesterday he made a grocery list for us, or should I say for him!

He was hanging out in the tree this morning. Bella still loves to get up and see what he's done each day.  One day earlier this week, he hung himself upside on the Christmas bell hanging in the doorway.  Bella said, "mom, he did that last year" in a tone like she was appalled he hadn't done something new.  I told her that he probably just likes hanging upside him a new perspective on things, sees things differently.  She was okay with that.

Christmas is drawing closer and I am very, very close to finishing my shopping.  I have the kids done but still need something else for my sister and a gift for a friend.  I really wanted to do something different for both but I'm finding out that "something different" is harder to find than I anticipated, especially when I don't know what it is I'm looking for.  ha! I also need to quit thinking a gift is not enough and that I need to add more to it.  It is enough.  It's perfect.  I'm trying but while my heart wants to give, give, give, my pocketbook is screaming no, no, no!!  

Other than that I am super excited to be off for a glorious 10 days.  I want to cook, bake, watch Christmas movies in my jammies with a sweet girl snuggled up with me, eat popcorn, look at Christmas lights, sleep in, be lazy...all of that and more.  Just to be away and have some down time will be very nice indeed.    

Monday, December 5, 2016

Homemade Beef Stew

This is one of those recipes that I never got from my mom.  I watched her make it but never really made notes.  I can remember bits and pieces of how she did it but I'm not certain.  It was a dish that when I was married, she would always call me to say "I'm making stew for supper if you want to come over".  If the ex-husband was working, he was lucky because he didn't like stew.  However, if he wasn't working, tough nuggets for him because that meant he was eating a sandwich or McDonald's because this girl was going to her momma's for supper!  Over the years I had always wanted to try and make it.  When I was first married, I made all things simple.  If recipes called for a lot of directions and prep, I would avoid it.  If I thought it was hard, I would avoid it.  Key words being "if I though it was hard".  I laugh at myself now because those recipes don't scare me now.  I've come a long way baby.  Not that mom's beef stew was hard, but it required a little more and plus, mom would make it often enough when it was cold so I could enjoy it then and the ex didn't like it so I avoided dishes he didn't like.  I also naively believed my mom would be around forever.

Fast forward to December 4, 2016.  Its cold and rainy out and my children are at their father's for the weekend.  It's the perfect weather and opportunity to make beef stew.  I still didn't have enough bits and pieces of my memory to make stew mom's way but there is Pinterest and cookbooks.  I found the recipe below on Pinterest and decided this would be the one I wanted to make.  Part because the picture looked a lot like momma's stew and part because it was titled "Classic Homemade Beef Stew".


1 1/2 - 2 pounds beef stew meat, cut into 1 inch chunks
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/3 cup flour
1/2 tablespoon cooking oil
1 large onion, diced into large chunks
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup tomato paste
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
4 cups beef broth, homemade or low sodium
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried parsley
3 Russet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1 inch chunks
2 carrots, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 star anise (optional)
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
salt and pepper to taste


1.  In a large ziploc bag, combine flour, salt, pepper, onion powder and thyme.  Add meat and shake until well coated.

2.  In a large dutch oven or pot on medium high heat, add cooking oil and brown the meat on all side for about 5 minutes.  You may have to work in batches so you don't crowd the meat.

3.  With all the meat browned, toss in onions and garlic.  Cook and stir 2-3 minutes until onions are translucent.  Add tomato paste and balsamic vinegar.  Stir in beef broth, worcestershire sauce, bay leaf, rosemary, dried parsley, potatoes, carrots and celery (and star anise if using) and stir to combine.

4.  Bring to a boil, then turn down to low, cover and simmer for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

5.  Combine flour with 1/4 cup stock or water, whisking until there are not lumps. Turn heat back to high and stir flour mixture into stew and cook until stew has boiled and thickened.

6.  Adjust seasonings if needed and serve hot with fresh parsley.

Now for Missy's adjustments...
I did not include the star anise.  I have never heard of this and it was optional so I opted to not include it.  Saw a picture of it in the picture but chose not to use it.

I also did not include celery.  Instead, I used bell pepper. I remember mom put bell pepper in hers, confirmed by my siblings, so I was going to use it in mine.

Little story here...I made my list of ingredients I needed, went to the store to get them, came home and began to prep.  Going down the list...balsamic vinegar?  Where the hell did that come from?  Crap. I don't remember seeing that?  So I get dressed and run back to the store to get the vinegar. I get home, change back into my comfy clothes and get back in the kitchen to finish and discover I missed the cloves of garlic as well.  Screw that, I'm not running back out again, I will use garlic powder.  And that is what I did.  So here is my lesson learned, double and triple check your recipes and ingredients before heading to the store!

After I combined everything, I didn't think there was enough juice so I added about 1/4 cup or so of water.

I followed the recipe as instructed combining everything at once even though my gut and memory remembered momma never adding the potatoes at the same time because they don't need to cook as long as the carrots.  I should have followed my gut.  The potatoes ended up being a little too soft so I definitely make that adjustment next time, adding them in about halfway through the cooking process.  Other than that, this stew was delicious.  It wasn't momma's but it was a good reminder.

Oh, I also didn't add the fresh parsley at the end. If I were cooking for family or a date, I would have for presentation but for me...I don't need it.  Ha!

If you like beef stew and looking for a good recipe, I encourage you to try this one.  Its sooooo good!! Perfect for a cold day.

Have a good one y'all!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Welcome December

Its December y'all and that means it needs to be cold outside.  I'm so over the 80 degree temps.  Normally I wouldn't complain about the 80's however, it is now December 1st so its getting a little ridiculous.  It would be awesome if we could see something beautiful like this...

There was that time in 2003 or 2004 I think it was that it snowed Christmas Eve and we woke up to a very white Christmas.  That was amazing.  

Isn't that just beautiful?  

I will settle for this....

But if Mother Nature changes her mind...I'll take the snow too!!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

My Monkeys

Gush....I love these two more than anything else.  I hope they know that I really do try to make the best decisions regarding them and give them everything I can.  

That tall young man next to me is 17 and still calls me Mommy, everywhere and in front of anybody.  That little girl standing in front of me calls me Mom, Momma and sometimes Mother.  Rarely does she call me Mommy anymore and it bothers me more than I really care to admit.  Christopher is even baffled by it. 

I ask you to please say some prayers for that young man above, prayers to make good decisions, the right decisions.  Prayers to study hard in school, try harder.  Prayers for responsibility and not bad judgement calls.  I am still so proud of this kid but dadgumit, he has made some choices recently that has left me completely disappointed, confused and questioning myself as a parent.  All I can do is continue to pray and talk to him.  I think and hope he has his head on straight now.  We shall see.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Turkey Leg Everybody!!!

I am extra thankful and grateful for all the many blessings I have received this year.  I am also thankful for some of the hardships that have come my way.  I have learned in my 44 years that they only help me to grow and indeed make me stronger.  Its not always easy to see it at the time, but I always find the lesson in it.  

I extra thankful for these guys right here...

I hope y'all have a wonderful day filled with lots of family, friends, food and fun!  Cheers!!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Dammit Doll

My boss showed me a dammit doll his daughter got for him.  He thought I'd get a kick out of it.  I told him I LOVE dammit dolls and have one of my own but she was much bigger.  His is just a baby one (wink).  I brought my beloved dammit doll with me to work today.  I was surprise at how many people didn't know what a dammit doll was but let me tell ya, once they found out, they were in love!

These things are wonderful.  My poor doll took a beating today by a lot of my co-workers.  She even got a beating from me earlier when I hit my knee square on the edge of my desk. Boy did that hurt!  

I think she's going to hang out with me at work the rest of the week, get some workouts in. If you don't have a dammit doll, you should get one.  You don't have to get a big one like mine (it was a gift) but the little ones work just as well.  :)

Monday, November 14, 2016

Fall Paint Party

I went to my second wood painting party Saturday night and just like the first, it was so much fun! The party was at a sweet little coffee shop in Sweeny called The Java Lounge.  I had a pumpkin white chocolate latte and it was so, so good!  I even like it better than an PSL from Starbucks.  Sure wish Angleton still had a coffee shop in town.  I know someone who would love to open a shop but can't make it happen.  Perhaps in the future, it will work out.

For the seasonal signs, we are allowed to use different colors.  I had originally chose a different saying because I couldn't picture this one in all one color.  I soon found out we would be allowed to use several different colors so I quickly switched to this one.  I love how it turned out.  

Getting there was a little more tedious than the last sign I made.  That pumpkin alone made me super nervous.  So much so that I ended up getting a little help with the stencil on that part.  I'm seriously considering a party in February or March.  I'm invited to another the day after Thanksgiving but I'm not sure I can make it.  Its another holiday party but this time, they'll be painting Christmas sayings.  I need to decide pretty quick if I'm going to make it or not.  

I also wanted to show y'all a leaf my sweet girl found Saturday morning.  
We were sitting on the porch enjoying the cool morning when she squeals....

"A heart-shaped leaf mommy, just because I love you"

Monday, November 7, 2016

Smokin' Hot

Y'all....I wish this was a post about how smokin' hot the guy was at the gas station I just came back from or how smokin' hot it is outside on this 7th day of November (seriously) but its not.  Its about how smokin' hot mac n cheese can get in a microwave without any water and set to cook longer than its supposed to.  I wish I were kidding, but I am not.  I decided I needed to document this event from last week.  Not that I'll ever forget, the lingering smell alone won't let me but the sheer panic on Bella's face will live with me forever.

Last week when I picked up my daughter from daycare, she announced that she was super hungry and could not wait for me to get supper ready so she was going to fix her a cup of mac n cheese when we got home.  No worries because she has done this many times before. We got home, I went to my room to change into my I'm home from work comfy clothes and then needed to make a quick phone call to Scott, aka honey or maybe its best friend now?  Anyway, I finished up and was coming down the hallway when Bella comes flying out of the kitchen screaming "its smoking mommy, its smoking".  I turn the corner to the kitchen and boy was she right, it was smoking!  I have never seen that much smoke POUR out of a microwave before but there it was.  I opened the microwave to find a black, charred, still smoking pile of what used to be a mac n cheese cup.  I closed the doors to the back rooms and opened up the windows and doors in the kitchen and living room because the smoke was thick and awful.  I texted my friend who just happens to be the Fire Chief to see if there was anything else I could do to get the smoke out of the house.  He immediately called me to see how bad it was and after a 5 minute discussion about my options, one that included sirens, lights and EMS, I opted for the less attention getting scenario which involved him and couple guys bringing a fan over to help suck the smoke out.  Mr. Smarty Pants thought it would be funny to pull into my driveway and flip his lights on for about 20-30 seconds just to mess with me.  No attention there however, when the firetruck arrived, that got my neighbor's attention.  We got the fan set up and was able to let it run for about 10-15 minutes before they got a real call and had to leave.  Those minutes really helped and I appreciated them helping me out.  We lit candles and I sprayed the house down with Febreze.  I left the windows open for as long as I could stand it-again its November and we are smokin' hot here.  This past Saturday was the first day we walked into the house and didn't smell the smoke.  However, if you open the microwave, that is a different story.  Eewww!  I want to take it out back, plug it in and let it run for a while to help get the smell out.  Its quite disgusting.  I have even looked at a new microwave, one that Bella can work a little easier.

Upon talking with my daughter later, I found out that she had already made one cup of mac n cheese and was on her second because she was just so hungry.  Not only did she forget to put water in the second cup but she set the timer for 5 minutes.  The current microwave has a dial, no buttons for setting the time.  Sometimes it can be difficult to get the exact time.  You can't even set it for 30 seconds because it won't turn on.  I've looked at microwaves off and on over the last few years but always talked myself out of it.  This one sister gave to us when we moved into the house because we didn't have one and she didn't need this one.  It has served its purpose.

My sweet girl laid down next to me later that evening....
Bella: Mommy, I'm so sorry for smoking up the house
Me:  Its okay honey.  The most important thing is that you are okay.
Bella:  But the house smells yucky now.
Me:  The house will be okay too.  We will all be okay.  The smell will go away in time with a lot of Febreze and scented candle.
Bella:  Okay (as she snuggles up into me)

For your viewing pleasure, my firemen in shining armor leaving for their real call.  I'm totally not making light of them having to leave to go on a call.  I appreciated them taking the time out of their evening to come help us out, and at their insistence. Kudos to them for all they do!


Friday, November 4, 2016

God Is Good

Yesterday was one heck of an agonizing day.  Leading up to this day was a week and a half of pure worry.  It tested my faith and my strength.  Both of which needed some nurturing.  A huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders and I have taken many sighs of relief.  I love my kids and my family more than anything and I am so very thankful for this journey, this path of life I have been given and I am embracing it.  Yesterday was a tough reminder of how precious it is.  It was also a good reminder that all those little things are just simply that, little.  I had a scare and it was big enough to shake me up again.  I am grateful.  I am happy.  God is good.


Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Halloween 2016

Halloween 2016 is in the books.  That is very hard to believe. Even harder that Thanksgiving is right around the corner and Christmas is a couple streets over.  Time is a flying.

I had asked the kids if they wanted to carve pumpkins this year.  Christopher was an "I don't know, maybe" and Bella was a very enthusiastic "YES".  Friday after work, I had to swing by Kroger to pick up some prescriptions so when I picked up Bella, I told her we could pick out her pumpkin for carving, but that we wouldn't carve until Saturday.  My girl picked out her pumpkin and proceeded to tell her pumpkin how very lucky she was to be picked by her, that she only chooses the most beautiful pumpkins.  She also told her pumpkin that it was soon to become even more beautiful after we carved a very special picture out of it.  Precious.  Saturday came and my girl chose an owl for carving.  Mommy ended up carving because I just wasn't okay with her using a very sharp carving tool so much to Bella's excitement, her job was to scoop out all the seeds after I was done.  

I was pretty impressed with my work since this was my first "fancy" carving.  I've only previously been limited to the standard jack-o-lantern face carvings. 

We lit our carved pumpkin as well as all our other lanterns on the porch and enjoyed them all.  
It was awesome. Something about this time of year with lit candles and lanterns is just soothing to me.  Unlike most, I love it when the time changes and the days are shorter.  I feel totally justified changing into my pajamas as soon as I get home and lighting a candle.    

Monday I left work an hour early to get home and get to daddy's before all the trick or treaters made it out. His neighborhood is very popular place on Halloween so I wanted to get there before it got crowded.  

Bella went as a cat again this year...

Her cousin Brady went as a catcher.  God bless him, he wore every piece of that equipment through the neighborhood as we went from house to house.  He was a trooper.  He would take off the helmet every now and then but put it right back on when he got ready to walk up to a new house.

There were only two houses that scared Bella enough that she stood her ground at the end of the driveway and waited for Brady to come back. In both cases, the owners were kind enough to see she was scared and brought some candy out to her.  One of them had a mask on and took it off so she could see he was just a nice normal guy.  Good people right there.

Before we headed home, I had my niece take a picture of me with my sweet goblins.

One lucky mommy right there. 

Friday, October 28, 2016

From The Fair

We wrapped up the Brazoria County Fair last weekend and I was kind of glad to see it go but also sad because truthfully, I do enjoy our fair.

Before I get started with all the week long festivities, let me share with you Toot Marie's artwork that was chosen for the fair.

She placed second and was super happy.  I was so proud of my girl.  I love her animals.  This was the best picture I could get because they displayed her artwork waaaay up top.  Short girl problems!

The week started out with my niece and nephew participating in the calf scramble and I am proud to say, they both caught a calf!  Brandon took a beating but he won out in the end.

Brandon with sponsor.  

And with me :).  
The kids were with their dad this particular weekend so they missed the scramble. 

The next night was Kenna Bug...

Here I am with the previous night's calf catcher.  He had a huge bruise on his leg and a few scratches but other than night, he was good.

With her sponsor...

And her godmother :)

And now with me and her Mommy.  
Can you tell we're related?  Lol

The following weekend, I decided to try my hand at not one but two contests.  The last couple of years, I have entered the Rice Plus Cook Off.  In this contest, you can make a main dish, side dish or dessert but it must have rice in it.  The first year I made rice pudding and finished second.  Last year I placed first with rice zucchini muffins.  This year I wanted to try a rice pecan pie.  Even I was skeptical so I did a test run and had my family taste test for me.  I got a thumbs up so I decided to go for it.  The fair also has a Kitchen Pride Bake Off so I decided to see how I would do there.  It is a much larger crowd and a lot more entries.  I baked two rice pecan pies and let me tell you, I was not feeling it.  To top it off, when I took the pies up to the fairgrounds, I entered the Rice Plus contest first, then walked over to the Kitchen Pride contest.  The gal there was taking my information down and asked what kind of pie I had.  I told her and she asked if it had rice in it.  Yes ma'am it does so she tells me that I should probably take it next door to the Rice Plus cook off, I wouldn't have as much competition there.  I kindly told her I had already entered a pie there too, just wanted to see how I would do here.  Guess I showed her because this girl right here not only took 1st Place, but received an Outstanding ribbon and was Grand Champion of the Bake-Off.  

Look at those pretty ribbons...

And the winning pie!

Here I am getting my picture taken with Brazoria County's Little Miss and Little Mister 

It wasn't until we left that I realized what I had done.  Tony even told me he didn't understand why I kept asking how many pies were entered because I had won the WHOLE BAKE OFF!!  I was the GRAND CHAMPION!!!  Finally!  I found something I'm good at.  I have a talent!  I do enjoy baking.  I enjoy baking for others. Its relaxing and good therapy!

Later that night I spent some time chasing this girl from ride to ride...

 I have to say she had the time of her life. She loved getting to do the rides at the carnival.  She was laughing, squealing, jumping up and down, waving her hands in the air just having a good time.  

After we finished rides, we walked back to the cook off area.  We didn't have a team this year but some close friends did so we were still able to hang out there.  Bella had some friends across the way so she would spend time playing with them running back n forth.  Ronnie Milsap was playing at the arena that night so Tony stayed back at the camp while I walked over to the arena to hear Mr. Milsap.  Oh my gosh, he was awesome!  So glad I was able to see him.  My pictures aren't good at all...

And with that, I will close out this year's Brazoria County Fair.  We had lots of fun and look forward to next year to see what it brings.  I know we'll have at least two heifers to show, or rather...Makenna and Brandon will!