Thursday, January 19, 2017

Neighborhood Cats

We have several cats in our neighborhood that wander through our yard daily. They don't seem to be strays, so I'm thinking each of them belongs to someone but is allowed out of the house.

When we moved in almost two years ago, there was a single black cat with a white stripe down his front that would come to our backdoor once a week (usually on Wednesdays...go figure) looking for food. I started giving him small bits of cooked meat from time-to-time, and over a period of months, his appearances became more and more frequent.

Soon, it got to the point where he came running over anytime I started cooking, even when the doors and windows were completely closed. One day, another cat started doing the same thing. This one was completely black. They would show up at different times, and they were always begging for food.

Earlier this year, a sweet little black cat with white paws and a white nose started appearing. His meow sounds like the cry of a baby, so you can imagine how startled I was when I was upstairs and heard it for the first time. He doesn't beg as much as the others do, but when he does, I almost always give him something because he's just so cute.

A couple weeks ago, he approached the backdoor, and the original cat, clearly not approving, came rushing over. The original cat stepped right up to the door and lunged at the other one when he tried to come up next to him. This went on for a few minutes, as the cute cat slowly inched his way closer to the door. They both eventually left.

Last weekend, we were watching the Green Bay Packers vs. Dallas Cowboys football game. We were having trouble getting the channel we needed, so we cracked the door open and put the antenna outside. (We don't have TV service.)

About an hour into the game, Mr. Handsome shouted, "Cat!" and we both rushed over to the door to find that the cute cat with white paws had managed to push the door open and was halfway into our house. I gently pushed him back and pushed the door closed as much as I could.

For the next two hours, he tried to open that door. He would stick his little white paw inside and try to squeeze his way in. I couldn't help but take a couple pictures. We kept putting things in front of the door, but he kept pushing them out of the way.

Of course, we would have loved to bring him in and pet him, but we're just too concerned about fleas. Mr. Handsome's family had a battle with fleas when he was a kid, and it took a very long time to get rid of them.

Despite our refusal to let him into our house, the cat with white paws often sits by our front door waiting for us to come outside. He always brightens my day. We have seen a few other cats around (one that is a beautiful tan color), but they have never approached the door. Do you have cats in your neighborhood?

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Road Trip Entertainment?


We have family that lives several hours away (although we have some relatives nearby, too), so Mr. Handsome and I do quite a bit of driving. Consequently, we're always looking for new forms of road trip entertainment.

On shorter excursions, we talk, turn on the radio, or plug our phones into the headphone jack and play Pandora, but when we take longer treks, we often find ourselves searching for other forms of entertainment. Mr. Handsome enjoys listening to mysteries and spy thrillers, although it can be difficult to find books that aren't heavy in language and inappropriate content.

While we were on a road trip with Mr. Handsome's family over the summer, the crew was getting a little antsy, so I came up with the idea of putting a Tim Hawkins comedy DVD into a computer and then plugging the computer into the van's headphone jack. It worked, and before long, everyone was howling with laughter.

This fall, I started scouring Amazon for comedy CDs and came across a few that looked good. The one pictured above is clean, family-friendly comedy with a Christian bent, and it turned out to be quite entertaining. Each of the twenty routines are three to five minutes long. And I was able to purchase it used for only a few dollars.

Do you have suggestions for clean road trip entertainment?

Monday, January 16, 2017

Music Themed Bridal Shower

I just came across these photos and realized I hadn't yet shared them with you. A few weeks before Mr. Handsome's youngest brother married Sarah during a beautiful December ceremony on the East Coast, his grandmother threw a wedding shower for Sarah.

The shower was music themed, as Sarah is a professional, classically trained musician. Everything was very beautifully done! I wasn't able to attend because Mr. Handsome had to work that weekend, so we couldn't make the seven-hour drive, but my in-laws sent me photos.







The game they played was created by Mr. Handsome's grandmother. Guests had to finish the story using music related words. In case you want to try it, I posted the answers as a comment below.

Music for the Shower


The ______ to a perfect day is to have everybody in _______.

As you arrive at your wedding, may you ________ into the church on _________ with your family there to __________ you. Rumor has it that you will be wearing __________ on your feet with __________ on your toes. Your wedding planner will greet you and __________ in with ideas from her _________.

Your wedding planner will remind the groom to ____ _____ and not to fall to ______. It is difficult to have a wedding if the groom is __________. Also, be sure your groom knows you want the best man to be a __________.

The ________ of the ceremony is usually a member of the church ___________.

When you place your _______ on your finger, it is a _________ that you are no longer going through life _________.

Some couples ______ _____ as they leave the ceremony.

A good choice for the meal for your reception is ______ ________. Make every effort to keep the groom away from the _______. As you look at your gift table you will notice that many people have taken time to _______ their gifts.

It is always risky to have the best man __________ a toast. If it is too long, have your maid of honor ready to _______ in.

As you leave for your life together, it is our wish that you will have ________ happiness and ________ stress.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Mayan Rice Recipe

While we were in Mexico, we enjoyed a traditional Mayan lunch of chicken, pork, rice, beans, vegetables, homemade tortillas, fruit, and hibiscus iced tea. Mr. Handsome and I agreed that it was one of the best meals we had ever had.

When we returned home, I was inspired to make traditional Mayan rice. Although it doesn't taste identical to the rice we had in Mexico (there is still a flavor I'm missing), we both really enjoyed it.

Here's the recipe, as promised. Have you ever had traditional Mayan food?

Traditional Mayan Rice

Ingredients:
1 cup brown rice
2.5 cups chicken broth
1 green pepper, chopped
1 can black beans, drained
1/4 onion, chopped
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
Salt to taste

2 chicken breasts
1 Tablespoon butter
1/8 teaspoon ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Directions:
In a large stockpot, combine rice, chicken broth, green pepper, black beans, onion, and 3-4 garlic cloves. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil, and simmer covered for 40 minutes.


Just before 40 minutes is up, cook chicken in a skillet with butter, ground pepper, 1/2 teaspoon salt, cumin, 1 clove garlic, oregano, and crushed red pepper.



Mix chicken into rice, and simmer for an additional 10-20 minutes (until rice is fully cooked). Check frequently to make sure pot does not boil dry. (Add additional chicken broth if needed.)


 Add salt to taste, and serve plain or with tortillas.


Thursday, January 12, 2017

East Coast Wedding Pictures 2

On Sunday, I posted photos from my brother-in-law's rehearsal dinner and wedding ceremony. You asked for more snapshots, so here are some from the reception immediately following the ceremony.

The cake was made by Mr. Handsome's cousin. She is in her early 20s and is a professional baker. Her cake is out of this world. I asked if she wanted to share the recipe, but she said she wants to keep it a secret. Boy would it be wonderful to have though! (The cupcakes I posted to my Facebook page were also made by her.)



I took these pictures before guests arrived because I knew you all would want to see photos of the tables. My sister-in-law did a wonderful job.




Just under 200 guests attended the wedding.


Mr. Handsome is the oldest in a family of seven kids, and he was the best man. His speech was top notch. The perfect balance between funny and sentimental.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Car Seat Ponchos


Over the holidays, we visited with lots of friends and family we hadn't seen in a while. It was wonderful. On New Year's Day, we had breakfast with a young mom who has two little girls and one on the way. She is a full-time mommy who also teaches music lessons.

As she was bundling her kids up to go home, she showed me the matching car seat ponchos she had sewn for them. I was intrigued, so she explained how they work. Hers are made of two layers of fleece, and she puts them on her children when they load up into a cold car. The ponchos fit nicely over car seats, and kids can easily remove them if they get too warm.

Pretty genius idea, isn't it? This post isn't an advertisement, but if you're as intrigued as I was and would like one or more car seat ponchos (either for your own kiddos or for a gift) my friend would be more than willing to make them for you. She can make them with one or more layers, depending on the climate.


Monday, January 9, 2017

'Priceless' the Movie

Over the weekend, Mr. Handsome and I had the opportunity to screen Priceless, a movie that was in theaters last fall and will hit the stores on Valentine's Day (February 14th). Have any of you seen it?

Inspired by true stories, the film is a drama that portrays the horrors of human trafficking. The main character, James (played by Grammy award-winning Joel Smallbone of the band For King and Country) is a man who has made a few wrong turns since his beloved wife passed away and his inability to support his daughter caused social services to remove her from his care.

Desperate for a new beginning, James finds one in an unlikely place. He naively accepts a job hauling unidentified "cargo" and inadvertently steps into the middle of a human trafficking ring. When he realizes what is happening, James makes the decision to risk his life to save the girls who are being exploited.

Priceless is by no means a lighthearted film, as human trafficking is a very real issue that is estimated to enslave more than 20 million victims worldwide. However, the film brings much needed awareness to this atrocity and will hopefully encourage individuals and organizations to join the fight against human trafficking.

Rated PG-13, Priceless is certainly not suitable for young children. Parents showing the movie to their teenagers should exercise caution and be prepared to answer difficult questions.

Although emotional and heavy, Priceless has a very good ending, and Mr. Handsome and I are both glad we watched it. It breaks my heart to think of all the innocent victims who are being exploited by human trafficking, and I am hopeful that Priceless will spur us all on to take a stand against this terrible injustice.

Priceless can be pre-ordered on Amazon.com, Walmart.com, and forkingandcountry.com. The movie trailer and "Priceless" music video are embedded below.





Photo/videos property of Roadside Attractions

Sunday, January 8, 2017

East Coast Wedding Pictures 1

As many of you know, my brother-in-law got married a few weeks ago. The wedding was a beautiful Christmas affair on the East Coast.

I recently posted photos of the hairstyles that myself and two of the other bridesmaids wore, and you requested that I share more snapshots from the weekend. Here the are! More coming soon.

The first two are from the rehearsal dinner, and the second two were taken at the ceremony. The last picture shows the church when we first arrived. We put the poinsettias, altar, and two chairs in the back room because the wedding colors were green and gold (not red).

We didn't need to add extra decorations to the stage because it was such a beautiful chapel on its own. After the ceremony, it took us less than 10 minutes to return the church to the way it was before the wedding.

Mr. Handsome and me at the rehearsal dinner

Tables set up for the rehearsal dinner 
(With immediate family and relatives who had driven from faraway, we had about 60 guests.)

Mr. Handsome and me after the wedding ceremony

The church

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Homemade Bread Success


Over the past six weeks, I have made many attempts at homemade bread, and I think I'm finally getting the hang of it. It's all thanks to my loyal readers who shared such helpful advice on November's "My Homemade Bread Failures" post.

I read through all your hints and printed off every recipe you suggested, and I have now made three tasty loaves of bread that actually rose. (Imagine that...bread that rises!) The recipe I ended up using is Simple Whole Wheat Bread from allrecipes.

I still have some work to do on the presentation of the bread. (Let's be honest...the top is a little flat.) But it's light and fluffy, and it tastes great. Mr. Handsome and I have especially enjoyed eating it with our homemade apple butter.

Thanks again! You are the best readers a blogger could hope for.



Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Enjoying Nature


I mentioned last year how much I enjoy taking winter walks. There's just something about the crisp, fresh air that puts a person in a good mood.

Even when it's below freezing, I try to spend at least a few minutes outside every day because it gives me a boost of energy, clears my head, and helps me sleep better. That being said, I definitely don't like being cold, so in order to fully enjoy a winter walk, I always make sure to have proper attire.

Over the weekend, I went on a stroll through the woods with some friends. The trail used to be a rail bed and features an old railroad bridge that has to be at least 100 years old.  Encountering pieces of history like that always make me ponder the days gone by. Do you have any neat nature walks/historical sites in your area?


Monday, January 2, 2017

Crock Pot Hot Chocolate Recipe


Now that we're well into winter, it's time to bring out the hot cocoa (also known as hot chocolate). I've always been picky about my hot chocolate. I'm not a huge fan of the store-bought mixes, so I usually just make my own with milk, cocoa powder, and sugar.

At our New Year Eve's party, a friend shared her homemade hot cocoa recipe with me and showed me how to make it. It's delicious and oh so easy to prepare. We used a crock pot, but you can use any similar slow cooker.

Crock Pot Hot Chocolate

Ingredients:
1-1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1-1/2 teaspoon vanilla
6 cups milk
2 cups chocolate chips (milk, dark, semisweet, or a mix)

Directions:
  • Combine ingredients in crock pot, and stir.
  • Cook on low for 2 hours (until chocolate chips are fully melted) stirring occasionally.
  • Serve with whipped cream and marshmallows.


Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year!


Happy New Year! We rang in 2017 at a party with 20 friends and family members. We ordered pizza and filled ourselves with leftover treats from my brother-in-law's wedding reception. We also enjoyed some delicious homemade crock pot hot chocolate (recipe coming tomorrow).

The college football bowl games were on in the background, but none of them went our way, so that was a bit of a disappointment. We played card games (Euchre, Up and Down the River, and Golf), Bananagrams, Rummikub, and a group game called Fish Bowl. When the clock struck 12, we did toasts with sparkling grape juice and sang the doxology hymn. How did you celebrate?