Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thanksgiving Preparations

Wish I'd Done That: Let your kids make the place cards for Thanksgiving. I love the ones with an Oreo cookie. Stick candy corn in the filling, use some icing to make a face (or just write guests' names) and set at every place setting. If the kids do the arranging, no one can blame you because they've got to sit next to crazy Uncle Fred!

We're looking forward to AA coming home today (fixing lots of meat for him), and Wordgirl is coming in tomorrow.
I'm so excited to have them home in front of the fire with us. We all enjoy a fire in the fireplace and a great college football game on TV.
Please pray for Ace's mom, Kathy. She's been in the hospital in Ft. Smith since Thursday. An accelerated heartbeat that they are monitoring. We were going to go pick her up tomorrow, but she won't get out of the hospital until Thursday.
So, it's just the 4 of us for the big day.
We'll head over to Ft. Smith for the weekend to see what's going on.
I'm being flexible about meals/lists/stuff; I'm really proud of myself! I love the planning and prepping for big meals.
I'm off to make the cornbread and biscuits for the dressing. I like to leave them out on the counter drying for a day or two.
Ace is smoking the birds (3 turkey breasts and one whole one) Wednesday. He does it once; and does a lot. Then, we have plenty for Christmas too.
Count your blessings. The simple things in life are more special to me this year. Love on your friends, tell your family you love them, and eat a piece of pumpkin pie for me!

Monday, November 24, 2008

32 and Counting

Wish I'd Done That : My friend and business partner, Laura, has a great suggestion for keeping kids quiet and occupied during church. She gave her kids pipe cleaners, and they could make all sorts of shapes and people and whatever. They didn't wear out, and kept them quiet. Brilliant!

32 and Counting
Rather than a Thanksgiving meal, our church focuses on missions during the month of November. We are an action church who go out and evangelize and serve. During the past year, we've been to Nicaragua, New Orleans (yes, they still need help!), the Gulf coast for all the hurricanes, Mexico, and other places near and far.
The Sunday before Thanksgiving, we have a missions banquet where we make an offering to support missions around the world and at home. We review where we've been this year, and look forward to the next.
For the last 2 years, I've been in charge cooking for the mission banquet. This year, we made 32 pumpkin pies for dessert. I've never made that many pies, but Mitzi prepped my ingredients, and over the course of a few hours, turned out this:
Wow, that's a lot, even when you start cutting them all up to serve. Nothing says Thanksgiving like pumpkin pie!
Laura decorated for the banquet. She made this "earths" last year. Just a glass bowl painted with textured paint, and then joint compound to form the continents. They are really great, and look marvelous.
I'd encourage you to focus out during the holidays. Look for others to bless. Give generously to those in need.
Getting ready to start cooking tomorrow. What's your favorite Thanksgiving food? I'm going to have to go with the dressing.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Earrings, and other lost things

Wish I'd Done That: Try a coat/mitten/hat swap. I always thought my friends' kids had coats my kids could wear. I know mine outgrew coats at an amazing rate, they don't get worn out, and still had lots of good wear in them. In these days of recycling, try it!

Last night at overflow (our youth group), I noticed one of my earrings was missing. I was irritated, since I'd only worn them 3 or 4 times. I'd been trying on clothes at the mall, and I assumed I'd lost it there. After church, I was tempted to return to Dillard's to check the dressing room, but I was just too lazy. I wanted to get home to a new book I have. I also almost threw away the earring, but slipped it into my purse instead.
When I got home, I went upstairs to put on my pj's, went into the bathroom and there on the counter was the other earring! I'd talked to lots of kids and adults, and no one commented on the one earring!
Did they think I was making a fashion statement? Or, as I suspect, have I joined the ranks of the invisible "old people"?
I can't believe I went around with one earring. I remember I picked one up to put on, and then wandered off, distracted by who knows what?
Ace loses things all the time. However, they are usually right in front of his face. His TU sweatshirt, for example. He said he couldn't find it, but it's right in the center of his closet. I used to go look for stuff, but I was only enabling him to continue his lazy looking! Now, I figure, if he wants it, he'll look harder......
Is that wrong?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Party Time!

Wish I'd Done That: Choose a nondescript day, and make it special. Get out your best dishes, a nice tablecloth and the good silver and crystal. Set a nice table; use a centerpiece and candles. Your family will feel special, and you'll get to use your good stuff. Don't worry about serving a fabulous dinner (although that would be great); the idea is to do something different. In fact, it would be crazy to buy the fast food meal and serve it on china! This lets your kids use the china, and learn to be careful with mom's crystal. So what if something gets broken? This stuff is meant to be used. Don't put off the "special" occasions; make your own. Even if you don't have china, you can make the dinner special by putting candles on the table, gathering flowers from the garden, or just make an artistic centerpiece of sticks from the bushes. Whatever you do, just make it different from the normal hum-drum. Recently, the Lord's been showing me that you shouldn't postpone special things or doing the extra something you want to do.
It seems really trite, but build a fire when you want one, use the good china, buy the Harry and David pears.
While we are at a point where we have some extra to spend on special things, I'm not talking just material things. Take the time to read that book, visit someone lonely, start a poker night.
I'm in two groups from church that celebrate birthdays of the members. It's really an excuse to get together, laugh and have a great time getting to know one another better.
We all know people who say "someday". Let's be the ones who say "today".

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Wish I'd Done That: When my oldest, Wordgirl, was about 2 or 3, she began to be afraid to go to bed. She thought there were monsters or "bad guys" hanging around. We weren't sure what to do, but one day Ace brought home this guy:

Wordgirl named him Aloysius. We weren't sure where she got this, but when she was older, she said it was Snuffleupagus's name (from Sesame Street).

Aloysius was a Super guy. He could look in the closet for the bad guys, he could see under the bed. Mostly, he protected a little girl who had a fabulous imagination. Imaginations are great in the daytime, but at night, they can be the enemy.

I thought Ace was a genius for coming up with a wonderful solution. Wordgirl had Aloysius for a few months or a year; just enough time to get through that stage.

He's a little worse for the wear, but if you were a 20 year old dinosaur, you might look rough too!

Try this idea if your little ones are having trouble at night, or any time. Aloysius travelled with us in the car, but mainly, he protected our house.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Refrigerator Ramblings

Wish I'd Done That: My friend, Opal, suggests making sure your movies of kids' activities are not all lumped together. Keep birthdays separate from holidays, recitals, etc. She's right. All of mine are lumped together. Wordgirl and AA should have separate "videos" of their lives......Great idea!
My Refrigerator
Does yours look like this? I used to have alphabet letters and crayon drawings. Now, I've just got pics and coupons. I do have some great magnets Laura made years ago.
There are pics of my kids, my nieces, and my whole family. It's a happy reminder of times together and how important it is to treasure times together. You never know when circumstances will change.
I was reminded of this again this week. One of the guys who worked for Ace had a heart attack and died last week. He was only 52.
Since turning 50, I've been concerned about leaving a mark on others. What difference have I made in my life?
That can only be measured in eternal things, so I'm trying to concern myself with making that eternal difference. Ministering to others, using my spiritual gift of service and administration.
This week, our church is celebrating being thankful by having a missions dinner. We are a mission-oriented church, so we are looking outward into Eternity by investing our offerings on spreading the Gospel of Jesus. A group of us are cooking for 250. I love doing stuff like that: the camaraderie of fellowship in the kitchen! Then, we take an offering that is strictly for mission work.

Upcoming recipes:
The "famous" sugar cookie recipe, Julia's cranberry salsa, and other tips for a lovely holiday season.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Holiday Beginnings

Wish I'd Done That: A hint for the holidays.....Let your kids help with giving to those less fortunate. Have them shop for the Salvation Army angel, or let them choose items to fill the Samaritan's Purse Christmas boxes. Find out info for the Christmas boxes at: http://www.samaritanspurse.org/. Kids will love picking out stuff for others, and it's a great way to show children their blessings. Use it for a geography lesson, too!

I'm beginning to think about holiday cooking. Less than 2 weeks 'til Thanksgiving! We have a smoked turkey (Ace is in charge of that), cornbread dressing, mashed potatoes, etc. Something my mom made was a frozen cranberry salad. I love it for the holidays, but it's also really great in the summertime.

Mom's Cranberry Salad

1 can cranberries (jellied, or with whole berries)

6 oz. cream cheese, softened

1 cup crushed pineapple, drained

1 - 1 1/2 cups Cool Whip

3/4 cup chopped pecans

Whip cream cheese until smooth. Add other ingredients. Pour into 9 inch freezer-proof dish. Freeze. Before serving, set out of freezer about 15 minutes to soften slightly. Great!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Veteran's Salute

Wish I'd Done That: Get an American flag and fly it for all holidays: Memorial Day, Flag Day, Veteran's Day. Your kids will get a sense of how important our country is to you. Let them help with the whole ceremony of hanging the flag. Teach them about how to fly it, when to fly it, etc. Don't fly it at night, or in the rain. Teach them to respect the flag by your actions.

A friend from church sent me this link. It's a group of school kids singing The Battle Hymn of the Republic.

It was a great encouragement to me in these uncertain days of a new administration, bad economy, problems in government.

I know it will bless your heart, and encourage you, also.

Thank a veteran today for their sacrifice.

God Bless America!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Computer Problems

Wish I'd Done That: I always bought my little ones' clothes one year ahead. I could sort of predict their sizes, then I'd shop at the end of the season for the next year. If I made a mistake, I gave it away as a birthday gift!

I HATE Computers!!!
Last week, I had a glitch or something with my Outlook Express. I couldn't access my mail for our website, www.laurasartin.com. Now, since it's coming close to the shopping season, I want to be able to get and fill any orders that come in. For some inexplicable reason, it wouldn't accept my password, and I got that dreaded error message: "There was a problem logging onto your mail server" I decided to try to fix it myself - I need to learn these things, after all.
OK. I tried. Followed the "help" stuff from Outlook; the whole 9 yards.
(I never read directions for anything, so you can understand that this was major for me to follow the steps from something technical.)
Yesterday, Donna called about a prayer request, and I happened to ask if she had a computer person in her house. (Her husband, James, is REALLY great at that)
He got on the phone to try and help. He even came over to work on the machine himself. No luck.
I finally emailed (on the other account) my website guy, Jared. He asked for my password, and I gave it to him.
He emailed me back that he'd had success; I should try myself using my password. (I'd already done this, of course)
I typed in the password, and of course, it worked! Why?!
I just don't get it.
Anyway, to all you computer geniuses out there ~ way to go. I don't get it, but I'm glad you do......
Praying for Sharon, Chris, Mattie, our kids in Iraq/Afghanistan, and our great country.

Monday, November 10, 2008

My Life in Cups

Wish I'd Done That : WordGirl and Double A got on the bus for the 2 mile ride to school at our mailbox at the front of the house. Before I let them gather with their friends, I prayed with them on the stairs inside the house. We prayed about a test, friends, special projects, or just a simple prayer of protection and peace. I know God blessed them in those moments, because I know He blessed me. Pray out loud with your kids every day for the things that affect them.

Coffee Cups
I love to drink coffee. 5 pounds of Dunkin Donuts regular roast beans come to my house every three months or so. I love the ritual of grinding and making coffee in the morning. Best of all, I love to choose the mug I use every morning. I have my favorites. Here's one of Ace's favs. WordGirl gave him this when she was in the 1st or 2nd grade. Our elementary school had a fund-raiser where kids could choose inexpensive gifts for their family. She gave Ace this mug. It's worn out, but even tho it's faded, we can't throw it away! Who could?

This is the mug I got in Chicago in May when Double A, Ace and I went to visit WordGirl. We went to Oak Park to see all of Frank Lloyd Wright's buildings and museum there. I love the Guggenheim-ness of it! (I know, it's blurry, but you get the idea....)
This is from Lake City, Colorado. My family had a mini-reunion 2 or 3 summers ago. I always like to bring a mug home as a souvenir. I love this since it reminds me of a gorgeous place, and a special family time together.

This is a Chicago trip from years ago. The summer after WordGirl graduated from high school, we made a quick trip there. We'd never been there, so we did the museums and parks, and Navy Pier. Little did we know our oldest would head up there 4 years later to grad school. I love the Impressionist wing at the Art Institute of Chicago.

This is from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC. Ace & I went there for our 25th anniversary in 2000. What fun! I love NY!

Now, for the saddest moment........This was my very favorite mug until I knocked it off the counter and broke it. I got it in London at the National Museum. While we were over there, to fool ourselves into thinking things cheaper than reality (the dollar was weak against the pound), we pretended things were priced in dollars, rather than pounds. (2 pounds to the dollar, then) Anyway, this mug was china, and a replica of Picasso's Sunflowers. It's the perfect size, and the china is so nice to drink from. Oh, well. Clumsy......I knew it would happen some day, but I still hate that it's broken!

Friday, November 7, 2008


Wish I'd Done That: From the very beginning of your children's lives, take them to church with you. Kids don't learn by what they hear, but what they see. When they see your faith as an important part of your life, they will believe what you say. God does miraculous works in the lives of children; let yours experience Him from the start of their lives.

Just talking to my sis who's just moved to Texas. Things are going well there, but she's off today to see her first grandchild, Maddi, who lives in Oklahoma. Maddi is 3 months old, and a really good, darling girl!
We were talking about God's blessings in our lives, and I was thinking. Why?
Why do some of us experience loss and grief? Some of us get cancer and have to go through difficult struggles. Some of us have terrible work problems, or get laid off. Others prosper, are healthy, and seem to have it all.
Why should God choose to allow me to have a lovely life, while my friends struggle with many problems?
I'm not more spiritual than others, I'm not worthier; so, why?
I'm sort of having "survivors" guilt today. I don't know why I've been so blessed.
My life isn't perfect, but God has blessed me beyond what I deserve.
The Calvinists believe we are "chosen". Why are some, and not others? I've a difficult time believing that, because of John 3:16. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Who is whosoever, if not all of us?
As our country embarks on these dark times, I'm afraid for the United States. What does the future hold?
I know Who holds my future, but....
God is in control; He weaves the parts of live into a beautiful tapestry I cannot see.
Praying for my family, friends, church and country....

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Happy November!

Wish I'd Done That: Make sure your kiddos get outside every day. You don't want a bunch of pasty-faced kids living in your house. Of course, this may necessitate you leaving the friendly confines (forgive me, World Series hangover....) of your homestead. Get out there with them; play a gave of tag, or just ride the bikes around the block. Come on, it'll be fun!This is our sugar maple last week before we left. While we were gone, it turned a gorgeous red and the next day, all the leaves flew off in the Oklahoma wind. We missed it all, but the gold was really great, too.
I know you all know that TU lost to Arkansas Saturday, and are just too nice to bother me about it. (sniff) We didn't play well, but....We saw Double A, dropped off lots of home cooking, and headed off to Branson for some fun at Big Cedar.
My friend, Dr. Ruth, recommended this place, so that was good enough for me. I didn't know it was "Bass Pro" does resorts, but that's what it was.
It was gorgeous there.

One day, we went in to Branson, and took a spin on the Lake Queen, a boat on Lake Taneycomo. A nice 1 1/2 hour trip, and they let me drive!

Here's Ace on the terrace at Devil's Pool, a restaurant on the property. Notice Table Rock Lake in the background.

Outside our room, a waterfall was a popular spot for photos by everyone on the place. We heard the water at night, and it was really great.

The view from our patio...

Looking up towards our lodge...We sat up there most nights and watched the sun go down over Table Rock. So relaxing.....I recommend it.
God is in control. Let's see how He manifests Himself in our country's politics.