Friday, October 25, 2013

Fall - the best things about my [least] favorite season

Welcome to this week's Friday Five. If you are new here, Friday Five is nothing more than a short (hahaha) list of five random(ish) things. They might be favorites, thankfuls, pet peeves, or frankly whatever else strikes me on any given Friday. 

I'm going to be blunt and honest: I HATE FALL! Sorry to yell about it, but even when you give it a pretty name like Autumn, this season of death and I just don't get along. I'm a summer girl - sunshine, long days, and warm nights. However, I am going to take a possitive approach to this, my least favorite season, and rather than dwell on the things I don't like about it, today I am going to dig deep and share five things that I DO like. 

Ready? Okay. Here goes: 

1. The fall colors in my garden. - There aren't many things I love more than a full, blossoming flower garden. And, as the majority of my garden colors start to fade, I am grateful for the foresight and planning that went into planting fall-bloomers as well. It almost makes the death of everything else in my yard bearable .. almost. 

2. Driving with the sunroof open.  - I have one requirement when purchasing a car... okay, that's a lie, I'm a pretty particular consumer, but there is one thing I will not compromise on: my sunroof! Now, in all fairness, if I could accommodate my family in a Jeep, the sunroof would become a mute point because, hallelujah, the whole roof comes off (and that's better than just a roof-window any day!) But, for the sake of our current family needs, the sunroof option is the only way to go. And when the fall sun shines, opening up the roof to a beautiful blue sky and fresh, crisp air will put an instant smile on this girls face. :-)  

3. The daily excitement of seeing my children's creativity and/or ingenuity. - Not that they aren't creative or ingenious during other parts of the year, but during fall (October in particular) I get the daily experience of seeing those minds at work. We have a cute set of blocks that sit so unassumingly on our mantel. By design, they are supposed to spell out the word "SPOOKY." By my children's design, however, we are granted the opportunity for new word (and often a little chuckle) every single morning.

4.Backyard Bonfires - aka: Roasting Marshmallows- Because we live in a neighborhood that has, in recent years, had its fair share of wild fire scares and evacuations, we've chosen, for the sake of keeping our neighbors' anxiety in check, not to burn fires in the hot, dry summer months. As soon as things cool down a bit, however, the bonfires are on! Now, short of being a family of pyromaniacs (which we may or not be...), I am one of the few adult women who actually LOVE roasted marshmallows. S'mores? Eh. Go ahead and keep your graham crackers and chocolate. All I need is the sugary goodness of a golden, warm marshmallow and the hypnotic company of dancing flames. 

5. Hot Apple Cider - One of the few indulgences I discovered when I went sugar free, was the delight of a nice hot mug of unsweetened cider. Like most of my food choices, I don't like it too spicy. Just a little cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove. So simple, yet so satisfying. 
Photo courtesy

Friday, October 18, 2013

Sometimes You've Gotta Rearrange the Furniture -

It's been dancing around in my mind for a while. This thought - no, NEED - to change things up a little bit. It's the very thing that drives my husband crazy. "Why can't you just leave it alone? What's wrong with it the way it is?" I wish I had a simple answer, but all I can do is shrug my shoulders and smile. 

I need fresh. I need color. I need to move the furniture every now and then. So, in honor of the 2nd Birthday of my Kreating Krazy blog, I say...

 Out with the OLD! 

And in with the NEW! 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Turning Tables - When the Teacher Becomes the Student

I knew it would happen eventually - or, at least, I hoped it would. That Monday morning email when you realize this child of yours - the sweat, tears, and joy of your last umpteen or twenty years, actually paid attention to something or someone along the way.''

 "Dear dad,"  - I note the intended receiver with much delight. Yeah, it's nice to know that maybe he thinks mom already has stuff figured out... or, perhaps he's just too polite to tread on my pride just yet. Whatever the case, I smile at the sentiment and take a moment to lavish in the irony of it all.

"I wonder if..." - Gently working his way in, my young elder begins his thought. Well played, my son, I silently applaud, hoping he learned that technique from me. My applause ends quickly, though, as I realize that, although I'd like it to be, gentle tact is typically not my style. I'm a bull-by-the-horns kind of girl. Maybe I should work on that. Perhaps it'll be the subject of his next letter.

"Things happen for a reason... There is always something to be learned."  Wait a minute. Stop the presses. Is that...? Could it be...? Why yes, I think those are... MY WORDS! Or at least a derivative of them. "Look for the lesson," that's what I've told my kids since they were in diapers. Okay, maybe not diapers, but at least on training wheels. Pretty much the same thing, though... right?

They're good words. I give him a nod of approval before realizing what he really just said. Translation: "Dad (and mom), you are now the student and I am the teacher."

Yeah, I know he didn't out right say it, but that's what's happening here. Sheesh, the boys barely been out six weeks and he's already turning the tables?

It's a testimony of experience. Lessons quickly learned. Maturity ever building. He's on the right path, and for that I am proud.

Humbled by his growth, I take a personal inventory. Perhaps I better start preparing myself now. I have a hunch that sooner or later more of my words will come back to bite me. Or teach me, as will more likely be the case.

"Dear mom," the letter will probably say, "take a step back and tell me what's wrong with this picture."
(Oh, heaven help me when that day comes! Hopefully I can come up with something better than some juvenile snarky reply... but then again... *shrug*)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The cost of kindness

My girls and I had just come out of the grocery store when we noticed an elderly lady struggling to get her car to start. It was literally pouring buckets outside, so as I sat in the dryness of my car watching her, I really hoped that she would get the thing to start. 

No luck. Every time she turned the key, the whole car shook like it was possessed. As much as I didn't want to get soaked, I knew I couldn't leave her stranded in that parking lot. Now, you and I both know that my auto mechanic experience is pretty limited... I mean, lets face it, I don't know much beyond the basics! But, that didn't matter. I was determined to help however I could. 

I was pretty certain that it wasn't her battery, and when I approached her window and saw all the dash lights burning brightly, my suspicion was confirmed. There was a clicking sound that reminded me of when the starter when out on one of my vehicles...Yeah, not a whole lot I can do about that, but when I saw the broken expression on her face, I knew I had to do something, even if it only made her feel better. 

Immediately, I had the impression to ask her to pop her hood so I could try jumping her. Knowing it wasn't a battery problem, I felt silly making the suggestion, but I followed the prompting anyway. I told her to stay in the car and, as the rain soaked through my shirt, I hooked up the jumper cables then had "Awesome One" turn the key to my car. 

With the lady's car hood open I could see the entire engine block shake so bad it looked like it would jump right out of the frame. It was almost scary to be standing in front of it. Still not knowing what the problem was, I said a prayer in my heart as I scanned the shaking, non-compliant engine for an answer. Now, I don't know what a perfectly functioning engine should look like, but as I watched hers, I knew it was wrong. Three of the 4 spark plugs jiggled so loosely I don't know how they managed to stay in place. Again, I felt silly for hooking her up to my battery, but, as she cranked her key and pumped her gas, that little extra boost from my car seemed to make the difference.

After a few minutes her car roared - and when I say roared, I really mean ROARED! - to life. I counseled her to get to a shop asap, then closed her hood and sent her on her way. I don't know how much help I actually was, but in that crowded parking lot, I'm glad I took the time to try. Not a single other person seemed to notice her and, as I thought about my own grandma, it broke my heart. Many walked by, but only one took the time to help. 

Isn't that what this is all about? Not just the act of helping someone in the rain, but life in general: Helping Heavenly Father's children, even when we don't feel capable! This word, KINDNESS, has been on my mind almost constantly for the last several weeks. Kindness. Service.... Love. I look at the world and wonder how things got so off course. Ultimately, I've concluded, it boils down to a lack of kindness. Somehow selfishness has taken over and kindness has been kicked to the curb. Yeah, I know, kindness isn't always convenient  We're all busy, aren't we? Things to do, places to be. I get it. But is it really that hard to be kind? 

We've been working on it a lot around our house. This concept of not just recognizing other's needs but of actually stepping up to help each other. Acts of service - both silent and not-so-silent - have started to fill our walls. We are working on looking beyond our own wants and even beyond our needs and focusing more on what others might need... and, you know what? It's not a sacrifice at all. In fact, its been quite rewarding. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Creamy Caramel Apple Dip

  • 16 oz. cream cheese
  • 1/2 Cup powdered sugar
  • 1 jar caramel ice cream sauce
  • 1 bag Heath Brickel Toffee chips or  about 1 C. Chopped nuts 
  • Sliced Gala Apples (or apples of your choice)  

1. Mix cream cheese and powdered sugar together.  Spread onto platter (I use a 9" glass pie plate). 
2. Pour caramel sauce over cheese mixture, spreading evenly. *Do not mix in with the cream cheese mixture. 
3. Sprinkle Heath/chopped nuts on top.  
4. Slice apples and layer them around the outside of the platter. 
*Tip - to keep your apple slices from browning soak them in a bath of water and lemon juice (a few tablespoons) for atleast 10 min before plating.

Caramel apple dip
Wish I could take credit for this photo, but we were
 too excited to eat our dip to remember to take a photo!
This one came from
(her recipe is different than mine, but it looks a lot the same)

Friday, October 11, 2013

Reasons to pick up a book

Welcome to this week's Friday Five. If you are new here, Friday Five is nothing more than a short (hahaha) list of five random(ish) things. They might be favorites, thankfuls, pet peeves, or frankly whatever else strikes me on any given Friday. 

Books are a plentiful peace of our household fiber. Though I prefer a good, hold-the-pages in your hand, smell the paper, feel the weight of it, kind of book, most of the books I've read lately exist in a digital format on my Kindle Paperwhite. My husband's books are mostly audio ones on his iPod. 

Regardless of the format of your book, there is always a reason to have one around. Here are five of my favorites: 

1. Escape - Whether your life is boring, stressful, or just plain normal, it never hurts to just step away for a chapter or two. Reading can take an ordinary day and make it extraordinary. It can sweep you away on exciting adventures, hold you to the edge of your seat, and even take you away from your troubles.   

2. Adventure - I've never jetted in a high speed boat down the St. Lawrence River south of Quebec while tracking Russian operatives. I've never swam the English Channel or ridden a bike through Paris. I've never climbed an air-conditioning shaft, parachuted off a CIA plane, or high-jacked a train while attempting to ditch a trail of foreign ops. But I've read about it... and therefore, in my mind at least, had the adventures of a lifetime!  

3. Friendship - I like people. You know, the real, breathing kind of people. But, the next best thing is fake people... no, not the kind of phony's that leave you wanting to strangle their existence, but the kind of made-up ones that exist within the pages of a book. Whether its fiction or non-fiction that catches your fancy, there is usually a friend to be found sandwiched between the covers. Granted, that new friend's life is probably way more exciting than yours is, but it's probably more messed up to. 

4. Travel -  Not only can a good book fill a gray day with sunshine, it can also transplant you from a hot summer morning to a cold winter night in Russia! Or Switzerland, New York, Mexico, California, or even some made up place in some made up universe. The destinations are limitless!  Disclaimer: I've never met a book with an actual teleportation system, but if I did, it'd probably be way out of my budget anyway. Fortunately, however, imagination is free. 

5. Learning - Not just about people and places and things, though that's nice. But also (okay, now this is going to sound like the geeky literary type that I am) about words, literary dynamics, sentence structure, rhythm, and a whole plethora of other stuff that helps me be a better writer. 

Friday, October 4, 2013

Pickers, Voices, Losers, Hoarders, and Reno? Just a few of my favorite things.

Welcome to this week's Friday Five. If you are new here, Friday Five is nothing more than a short (hahaha) list of five random(ish) things. They might be favorites, thankfuls, pet peeves, or frankly whatever else strikes me on any given Friday.

In case the cooler nights and changing vegetation wasn't clue enough, the new line up on TV is a pretty sure sign that Fall is upon us. Now, I'm not a lover of Fall nor am I a huge follower of TV programming, but there are a few shows that I enjoy. So, in honor of the changing leaves, today's Friday Five is a list of the top 5 shows I like to watch. (And, unlike most of my other Friday lists, this one is in order of my favorites!): 

5. This is a toss up between Property Brothers and Income Property, both of which air on HGTV and are about designing, renovating, and ultimately creating diamonds out of rough real estate. I dream of someday doing a little real estate dabbling of my own, but in the mean time, I'll just have to settle for watching these three men do it... And, as a little bonus, the hosts aren't too bad to look at either.

4. Hoarders - Now I'll admit this A&E show isn't for everyone. The premise is this: find hoarders and try to get them the help that they need to make their homes a healthy environment. We are not talking pack-rats here. These are full-blown, barely a path to crawl through, garbage on the floor, mold and mice and who-knows-whats, kind of homes. Gross? Yes. Fascinating? You have no idea. Part of my OCD is a need - and actually a love - for organizing. I'd love to crawl into one of those homes and clean it up. Crazy, I know.

3. Biggest Loser - To me, this is more than a show about weight loss. It's all about the power of the human spirit. We've watched it as a family for years. From healthy living to mentally conquering your setbacks, there are so many lessons to learn from it.

2. The Voice - If you haven't heard of the Voice, perhaps you've been living under a rock. What I like most about this show (besides the play between Blake Shelton and Adam Levine) is that unlike most singing/talent competitions, there are "coaches" rather than "judges." It's not about tearing people down but about lifting them up. I love how they have something positive to offer even the most struggling of performers.

1. American Pickers - Oh yeah! Pickin' through junk to find treasures. What can I say, I'm a junkie for junk, or as the trained eye calls it: vintage. One of my favorite episodes was when they stumbled upon an old cowboy with a collection of authentic Navajo stuff. They "picked" (purchased) an old, authentic, hand woven Navajo rug exactly like one I inherited from my husbands grandma! I thought it was a treasure before, but now I know what a gem it is and look forward to keeping it in the family for future generations.

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