Saturday, June 27, 2009

Trailer Life

Until I met Jeff, my experience with recreation vehicles was nothing more than theoretical. I thought a nice motor home would be a great way to have a family vacation out west, especially driving across the country. Several years ago I talked it over with a co-worker and she agreed that her family would love to take a trip like that and how much better it would make traveling with their two young children (ages 8 and 3 at the time) so I made up my mind - at some point in my life I would take an RV vacation.

When I met Jeff, I became much more involved with the life of the RV community than I ever could have dreamed. Heck, I really didn't know there was such a thing. I thought the point of these lovely homes on wheels was to be independent and do your own thing and not have to worry with travel groups and all of that hassle. My vocabulary has since increased to include words like "travel trailer", "pop-up", "slide out", "fifth wheel", "park model", "C class", "toy hauler", and many others. And the best part is, I can explain them all to you, or at least the basics of them! 

Almost all the members of Jeff's family own travel trailers, and most of them have memberships at Mountain Lakes Resort on Lake Guntersville. His grandparents have taken several big trips with theirs including several cross country trips and even a venture to Mexico. They have a lot of great stories, and it's an easy and relatively cheap way to have a family getaway. 

"Our" travel trailer is technically owned by his mother, but we have our own membership at Mountain Lakes and Jeff has the truck to tow it, so it's a joint venture. The first time I stayed in it at the lake was an interesting experience, but all in all I have to say I enjoy it. It's a 1990 model so it's pre-slide outs and is therefore a bit "cozy" The newer ones give you more room to relax and you can get a few more people in them. 

This year I ventured with Jeff to the RV show, and it was an experience. The "show" was very small and rather disappointing - only a few dealers came and they probably had a bigger selection at their lots. The biggest draw was the discounts if you bought one during the show. We looked at several and found a style that was rather unique but was a good fit for both of us. We won't be making a purchase anytime soon, but I do still visit the catalog from time to time. 

I don't know that I will ever be totally sold on having the trailer as the primary mode of vacation. I still like hotels and am not a huge fan of driving long distances, but I can see the appeal and I definitely enjoy the possibility of weekend getaways. I'll probably take advantage of it in the fall and winter as a quiet place to get away and work on sermons without distractions. 

I'm interested to see where trailer life will take me next!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Call me old fashioned, but I think setting the table is an important skill to have and something that a person should pay attention to. Don't get me wrong, I love pizza in front of the TV as much as the next person. But there's just something nice about a pretty table. 

Perhaps I am a snob and a perfectionist, but there is a right way and a wrong way to set a table. There are diagrams and descriptions all over the place so it's not a hard thing to learn. And once you learn it, there's really not any good excuse for not doing it right. This becomes especially important when it comes to entertaining. I have a pretty broad definitions of "entertaining" and that is any time you have someone who is not a resident of your home come in, particularly for a meal. I may relax this understanding later, but this is where it stands right now.

I know that because I'm a little OCD, I probably make a bigger deal out of some things, but it really does make a difference in the whole environment of a meal, whether it's for 2 or 20.

When we were preparing to host one of Jeff's family Christmas events last year, I went out and bought 24 buffet plates (they were at the Linens N Things going out of business sale so I didn't spend a ton!) and several tablecloths. I really wanted covers for the folding chairs, but I may have to get those this year. The night before the party I set to work setting the tables. We were expecting about 16 people, so there were 2 folding tables, the kitchen, and the dining room to set. I literally set every place with silverware, a napkin, and a glass. Every table had a centerpiece. I put a lot of work into making it look nice. I didn't have enough plates or glasses for everyone's to be identical, but I did make sure that every table had all the same pattern. I put a lot of time and energy into making everything look nice. And through it all Jeff looked at me like I had two heads! He was used to a much more relaxed atmosphere involving paper plates and whatever forks you could find. But it all looked really nice and it really set the tone for a much nicer party.

Jeff's mom and I both have a thing with dishes. We love them. And although she has always only had service for eight in any of her patterns, I was taught to do service for twelve. Given the size of their family I am actually quite shocked by this because they have twelve just from with Jeff's grandparents, the five kids, and their spouses without listing any of the grandkids, their spouses, or the great-grandkids. She got new dishes for her birthday in service for eight because that's what she asked for. But just before father's day, she went out and got four more because she really liked them. And it made for a very nice dinner because there were ten of us there for dinner and we could all use the same "real" plates. They were square Corelle, not fancy china but pretty. But once you added a nice tablecloth and cloth napkins with napkin rings, suddenly these "everyday" dishes looked absolutely beautiful and it was a very elegant table setting.

Little touches make a big difference. It doesn't mean you have to spend a lot of money, but invest in a few nice things and spend a little bit of time and you can be amazed at the difference it makes!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Tybee Island Photos

I enjoy photography for several reasons. I think the biggest one is that it's a creative outlet or me. I know that none of what I do is technically brilliant or terribly creative, but I enjoy it and am pretty proud of what I do.

Most of my favorite pictures are those that capture moments of genuine emotion, unique perspective, and simple beauty.

I really enjoy taking photos of nature because I always feel close to God in nature, and my pictures serve as a reminder of those feelings and occasionally inspire me.

I will probably take two or three of these photos, blow them up, frame them, and hang them in my hall bathroom. My colors are ivory and dark brown so I may also convert them to sepia tone, but I'm not sure. Thoughts would be appreciated.

Sunday, June 21, 2009


One of my new toys is a tiny deep fryer. I know frying stuff is not healthy and I don't intend to use this super-frequently, but I do sometimes make homemade onion rings or fries. I really hate pulling out the big pot and filling it with oil and doing all that, if for no other reason than it's a mess to try and clean up. So I'm excited about the new fryer. It looks like a tiny version of a restaurant fryer, with its own little basket and everything. (Miniature size anything and I will probably fall in love with it. Look at my dog!)

Anywho, last week I decided to be adventurous and make homemade chimichangas. It's not that it would be any cheaper or quicker or better for me to make it at home, I just thought it would be something fun to try. My first adventure was trying to make the shredded chicken cooked in the red sauce with peppers and onions. I think it came out pretty well, but I think I can do better next time. 

As the chicken finished and my oil was heating in the fryer, I pulled out the flour tortillas and began trying to roll. I'm not much of a burrito eater, so my technique could use some work. The first one fell apart on me, so we had to eat the shredded tortilla and re-wrap the filling. Attempt number two looked a little funny because one edge flared out and got all puffy, but it held together and was pretty darn tasty. Attempts two and three were pretty darn impressive if I do say so myself, but I discovered toothpicks helped hold my wraps in place. The last one started to flare out a little on one edge also, but all in all I was very pleased with myself. 

Next time I'm going to try my hand at homemade tortilla chips. Something tells me I'll never buy a bag at the store again!

Coming soon: crocheting, photography, meatloaf, and table settings

Friday, June 19, 2009


I first started knitting when I was probably 7 years old. It wasn't "real" knitting, it was a very small loom that came in a kit intended for making Barbie clothes. Well, I loved knitting with the loom but never got around to making the doll clothes. Unfortunately I couldn't come up with anything to do with the little ropes I was creating, so that was the end of that.

While I was in college, I found some much larger looms and was able to use them to make a little hat and scarf. I didn't ever really get around to doing much more than that, but I have intentions of getting there.

During my first year of Div school I learned to knit with needles along with half the other females in our class. The problem is that I started after everyone else and never really learned how to start it. A friend started my scarf for me and showed me how to do the basic stitch and I picked it up pretty quickly. I got about a quarter of the way done with it, but it was in really sad shape (I didn't start with a good type of yarn) but since I didn't know how to get started, I couldn't start over!

I got a Hobby Lobby gift card for a wedding gift, so the first thing I bought was a long knitting loom (I think it was called a "knitting board") and some good, sturdy yarn plus a kit to teach myself to crochet. Well, the crocheting still needs some serious work, but one thing I did learn was how to get a project started. Out of curiosity I tried it on my knitting needles and it worked like a charm. After a small test patch that came out great, I got started on my first project on the long loom.

My first project, a dishcloth, was officially finished this morning. It took me a little while to figure out how to finish it in a way I liked, but once I did I was quite proud of it! When I really sat down and worked on it, it only took me about a day and a half to get it done. 

The next project is to do another dishcloth, this time on the needles. I'm also thinking of trying to do some throw pillows for the living room. We'll see how that goes! 

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Cooking 101

I have been cooking for as long as I can remember. I know for a fact that my kitchen adventures started when I was two years old, right when my brother was born. My mom wanted to make it a point of spending some one-on-one time with me every day. Since she went back to work when John was 8 weeks old, that time was preparing dinner. I'm sure I was in the way more than anything, but I loved it. The kitchen has always been a wonderful, safe place for me because of that. My adventures in culinary creativity started not long after I learned to read and found out what cookbooks were. These were almost better than storybooks because they let me combine several of my favorite things - reading, creativity, and food!

When I was in high school, I discovered the wonders of food network and those wonderful TV people who told me it was ok to not just follow a recipe and to change stuff up! I started to learn what herbs and spices went well with which foods and even discovered a few new foods I never knew I liked. It was great.

Most of my culinary creativity was put on hold when I went away to college because there is only so much you can do with a microwave, a blender, and an illegal george foreman grill! When I came home I did some cooking, but most of the time I was just lazy and enjoyed eating mom's cooking. When I went to divinity school I got my first apartment and started cooking again, and being a little more creative with some things. 

Now it's three years later and I am happily married so I am now cooking for two. It is great because it keeps me motivated and I don't have the room for frozen dinners, plus I rarely have to eat leftovers if I don't want them!

One of our family staples growing up was chicken casseroles. Ironically, one of my new favorites is a casserole I had never tried until just before we were married! It's a very simple baked chicken and rice that has become our standard whenever neither of us is in the mood for anything in particular or want something easy.

Here is the basic recipe. It's very easy to customize however you'd like.

1 1/2 c. uncooked rice
2 1/2 c. water (you can use broth, but you've got a lot of other flavors going on so you don't really need it)
1 can cream of chicken soup (or cream of anything really, whatever you like!)
1 packet onion soup mix
2-3 chicken breasts, cubed
Herbs to taste - I use basil, thyme, and parsley from the garden or a little bit of cajun seasoning if we need a little kick. (you don't need salt because of the onion soup mix)
You can also add your favorite frozen vegetables if you need a bit of color and something healthy.

Mix everything together in a casserole dish, cover, and bake 60-90 minutes at 350 degrees

See, does it get any easier? I'm going to try my hand at a mexican version in the next week or two. I'll let you know how it goes!

Brand New Me

Seeing as how basically everything in my life has changed recently, a new blog also seemed appropriate. 

Week three of married life is going very well. It's not been without its challenges, but I am happier than I have ever been. We're still learning one another's routine and learning to live together but we're both trying so it's been a good learning experience. 

I'm going to try to leave work out of this, except where it relates to my domestic diva-ness.

So why am I aspiring to be a domestic diva? I think on some level it's something I've always wanted to do and be, even if I didn't always have a name for it. 

Right now I have a few areas in which I am currently working and exploring. Those are cooking, housekeeping, caring for the dogs, scrapbooking, knitting, reading, gardening, and photography.

They're not necessarily distinct because they're already starting to cross over a little bit - I'm growing basil in the garden that I am using to make pesto, I took some really neat photos at the beach, and I'm going to blow them up and hang them in my hall bathroom, and I'm knitting some dish cloths and hoping to try a blanket next. 

So basically, this is my life!  Hope you enjoy it!