Saturday, December 31, 2011

Cranberry Crockpot Meatballs

Cranberry Crockpot Meatballs

1 14 ounce can of jellied cranberry sauce
1 12 ounce bottle of chili sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
approximately 50 meatballs

 Turn the crockpot to high and dump the cranberry sauce, chili sauce and brown sugar in the pot.

Stir those ingredients to combine.  At this point, you could also add in some pineapple juice, apple juice, maple syrup or other flavor.  I had none of these, so mine are going to be the basic recipe which is yummy on it's own.

Now pour in your meatballs and stir gently to coat them with the jellied-goodness.

Put the lid on your crockpot and cook for at least an hour, but honestly you can go as long as you need.  Just be sure to check on your meatballs and turn the crockpot down if necessary.  If they seem to be getting too sticky, you can add in some liquid to loosen them up again.

These meatballs are great over rice if you need a quick meal or you can serve them up with some toothpicks as individual appetizers.  I hope you enjoy.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Paul opens the fourteenth chapter of Corinthians with these words:  "Pursue love".

I am not sure what that means in a practical sense.

What does it look like to pursue love in my relationship
    with God?
             with my husband?
                    with my children?
                            with my friends?
                                      with my church?

Pinned Image

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Approaching a New Year

I confess that I have a love/hate relationship with the week between Christmas and the New Year.

Mostly hate.

Am I the only person who spends this week evaluating my life and believing that everything needs a serious upgrade for the new year?

That all things are possible?

Last year at this time, I thought I would take a picture and post it everyday.  I think that lasted about fifty days.

This morning, I am convinced that I should set up an online calendar system for my whole family to use.

What is the balance between striving to be a better person and wasting time on mundane goals that don't profit anything?

I long to hear God's voice over my life during this season.  What would He want from me this next year?  How can I grow to look more like Him - not just more organized.  Or thinner.  Or happier.  Or popular.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Annie Sloan Chalk Paint Chair

I have been reading so much about Annie Sloan Chalk Paint lately that I wanted to give it a whirl.
There are only two places in Tennessee that carry it.  I purchased my at The Back Porch Mercantile located in a store called Ironic in Knoxville, Tennessee.  It's a great store with lots of fun metal pieces.  (I should have taken some pictures, but I am sure to return, so that's for later.)
You must know that I am really good at buying lots of new craft products for a great project, only to let them sit around unused.  I give you my 365 photo project as example 'A'.  (Once I decided I wanted to quilt.  That didn't work either...)
So knowing this about myself, I purchased only one can of paint and one of the available waxes.  I said "No" to all the lovely colors and chose this shade of blue:

I have had this chair forever and never done anything with it.

And here it is after painting and waxing:

I can see why everyone is raving about the ASCP. (How cool am I to use the abbreviation?)  It is very easy to work with.  The distressing part was much easier than it is with latex paint.

Now the problem is, everything paintable in my house is going to be blue!

Do you buy tons of supplies for craft projects that you never complete?

Thursday, October 13, 2011


I have no photo to post today.
I haven't had one for some time now.
But I have a friend who has started writing and his thoughts made me realize how much I missed this online journal.
As if I need another thing to do.

Was my 365-project a failure?

I long to not be paralyzed by the possible.
What can you do today (or tomorrow considering the time) that may not turn out perfect, but is better than nothing at all?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Day Fifty-Nine

In my mind I have been composing an "I'm sorry" blog post for a few days.
I have been searching for the photo to post.
Rehearsing the words.

I have come to realize it is not the blog I have neglected.
Or the photos.
It's a grateful heart that I have abandoned these last days.

It is in the deliberation of choosing something to capture in pixels that I notice the things around me for which I should be truly grateful - sunrises, chocolate pudding, hard work, technology, growth - none of these profound in their impact, except to remind me how blessed I am.  And by becoming "too busy" to photograph these moments and share my overflowing heart with fellow sojourners I have become too busy to be grateful.

So today I clarify my project goal.  It's not to capture three-hundred-and-sixty-five photos worthy of an Ansel Adams display at a fancy museum.  The goal is not to be "read" by hundreds or discovered as the next best blogger.
No, the goal is to cultivate a thankful heart.

Monday, February 21, 2011

How To's Day

The problem:  I needed something (anything!) to hang above the bed in my freshly painted master bedroom.
The challenge:  Come up with something different and inexpensive.
The inspiration:  Thanks to my 365 photo project, tons of unused landscape photos on my hard drive.

I wanted to use a found object of some sort, so I made a trip to my parent's storage building. You can find similar pieces at junk stores, antique markets, yard sales, flea markets or maybe your parent's house!  Be on the look-out for any piece that catches your attention.  This is a method, not a recipe, as the saying goes!(Bonus points if you get it for free or find it in the trash!)
 I found this old wood door.  I liked the lines and it had character.  I also liked that it had four panels.  Did I mention it was free from my parent's house?  Just checking...
The four panels reminded me of the four seasons.  Could I come up with four photos that represented each season?  My wheels were turning!
Back at home I made a quick scroll through my photo organizer.    I came up with about twenty photos that I liked.  However, I must have something against Spring, because there were no photos to represent that lovely season. I ran the Pioneer Woman's black and white action on the seasons that were represented. This way they would look similar in the project. 

Something you must know about me:  I am an obsessive-compulsive, perfectionist who has no patience.  I know, I am a walking oxymoron.  It completely ruins lots of projects.  Waiting on photos to arrive really stretched my limits. 

The first thing I did to the door was give him a quick shop-vac. (Not sure why, but the door is male.)  Don't scrub too hard or you knock off the character!  I just didn't want spider webs hanging above my head.  (That's what corners are for at my house.)  I made a call to my local hardware store and had them cut four pieces of plexi-glass five by seven inches. 
A trip to my guy's workbench turned up eight rusty nails that would look perfect to hold the plexi-glass in place.  (Note to self:  might want to update tetanus shot.)

For my project, I tapped a nail in the bottom and top of each section of the door, right at the place where the plexi-glass edge would be.

See how the plexi-glass slides under the edge of the nail head?  That's what will hold your picture and your covering in place.  So make sure you leave the nail partially out of the wood.  Here's what it looks like with all four pieces in place:

Next was a way to hang the door.  It wasn't too heavy, but I didn't want to run the risk of it falling off the wall onto my head anytime soon.  Remember how I told you about my oxymoronic self?  Well, I refuse to hang anything that requires two nails.  The whole level, straight line thing just baffles me.  I opted instead for two screw eyes on either end and a picture wire stretched between them.  Yes!  One nail!  Instantly straight!

See?  Just twist it in and you are good to go...

Stretch the wire tight and wrap it around itself.  Lift up your piece by the wire to make sure it holds correctly.

(Insert long wait because of snow storm that made my pictures which normally arrive in two days not arrive for six!  Ahhhhhhh!!!!!)

Slide your pictures under the plexi-glass and you have a great picture frame/piece of art! 

Here's mine in it's new home.  Note the missing season of Spring?  I promise as soon as some buttercups or tulips bloom I am going to replace it.

Speaking of which, that's one of the great things about a found piece of art that you create with your own photos.  As you want, you can change out the pictures to reflect the season, your mood or your improved photography skills.
Here are two other found objects that I have used to display photos

An old window...
A piece of iron gate that I've had forever.

 I framed our family's Christmas cards from the last few years and hung them by some string from each of the points. (Don't tell my mom, but I just took this down today...yikes!)

   My next project is a spring mantle, inspired by The Lettered Cottage.  I'll keep you posted!

How do you use your photos?  I hope everyone will share some ideas.  I plan on making a blog book at the end of the year, but why wait?  It's a challenge to get those photos off your computer and into use in your home.  Immediately!
Blessings Friends,

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Monday - Tuesday - Wednesday

Thank you, Tracy.  I needed that.

Here's a couple of quick catch-ups and a more lengthy one:
Day Forty-Five
This is a project I have been working on to hang above the bed in our master bedroom. I found with the 365 project I am ending up with a lot of still life photos that I want to use.  This was a reclaimed wood door that I made into a frame. I plan to do a whole post on how I did it in hopes of getting reposted on

Day Forty-Six
 We are enjoying the sunshine here and so are our cats.

And finally, Day Forty-Seven
Today I received an AARP card in the mail.  And you know what, it made me happy.  Not because I am old enough to be an AARP member - I have several years to wait.  In fact, the small group of high school girls that I lead a Bible study for on Wednesday afternoons were shocked that I was (gasp!) 38!  Now that I think about that for a little while, I'm perplexed, frankly.  Do I not look 38?  Or do they think that 38 is really THAT OLD?  Hmmmm.... I may have to revisit that discussion.
No, the reason getting an AARP card in the mail made me smile was it means I am alive.  Earlier yesterday I received a phone call telling me that an acquaintance had died unexpectedly due to complications during back surgery.  Her son and mine have played sports together for years.  We have gone out to dinner together.  She has been in my home.  She brought Kate presents when she had surgery.  She was my age.  A young mother of three.  A wife.  A talented EMT and teacher.  It is the sort of tragedy that catches your breath.
So yes, AARP people, I am getting older.  And yes, several years from now I will be old enough to carry one of your cards.  And while I am not at that age now, I will treasure your letter because it means that I am alive and as my sweet Grandmother says about growing older, what's the alternative?
I, for one, will breathe today.  And enjoy life.  And try to remember to not get so bogged down in the details that I forget to be thankful for another day. 

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Day Forty-Three

Week two of Portuguese class for Kate and her best friends ended with brunch at Noshville. 
How do you say "cream soda" in Portuguese?

Friday, February 11, 2011

Catch-Up Day

Bear with me as I catch up on posting this week's pictures:

Day Forty
Hello, we are the Officer family and we are Hershey's Syrup addicts.  Seriously, how many bottles does one family need?  Apparently at least six.

Day Forty-One
I actually got Sam to help me with some shots for my photography class.  I think he looks so handsome.  Kind of angry, but handsome none the less.

Day Forty-Two
The life of a dog.  Must be nice.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Day Thirty-Nine

My Dad rode with me to Knoxville today to pick up my vehicle.  (It has been at the dealership for warranty-work for over a week.)
Dad needed to stop at Kroger to pick up some of his special coffee that you can't find anywhere.
On the way in the door, there was the most beautiful bucket of lovely pink and blue hydrangeas for sale.  He bought me (and Mom) a bouquet.  It has made my cold, snowy world quiet lovely.  Thanks, Dad!

A couple of photo notes:
The texture is from here - a freebie!  I have been wanting to have a pretty flower picture to try.
Today's lessons from the Workshop was about using the rule of thirds in your photos.  To that end, I am trying to be more intentional about slowing down and looking for the best point to focus.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Day Thirty-Seven (I think?) Oops...Thirty-Eight

I knew it was inevitable that I would lose count of my days.  Numbers are not my thing, which could explain why God knit me together with a banker.  So, thank you, blog friends, for your kindness in not mentioning how terribly off my day-counting has been this past week.  Wow.  I confess I would not have even noticed had it not been for reading all of your well-counted blogs.  Oh well. 
The plans I had for today were changed.  I ended up with some free time that I did not expect.  Yipee for me!  I realized that when I am home by myself at lunchtime, I default to my Mom's habit of eating and reading at the counter.  Thanks, Mom, for the bad habit of eating and reading.  I must admit that after a stressful week it felt lovely to relax munching on fruit salsa with cinnamon chips while reading my first lesson in The Photographer's Workshop

On that note, I give you today's picture(s).  The lesson today was on composition and being intentional about how you compose a shot - looking for distractions, etc.  After I took my first lunchtime picture, I looked around at the space and realized how much clutter was in the background. 

A little straightening up and a change of angle...

Still not a perfect picture (it's a stool for goodness sake) but I can see the benefits of slowing down long enough to be intentional about the composition as opposed to just shooting away!

Saturday/Sunday Catch-Up Days 35/36

We hosted a Super Bowl party last night for our Sunday evening LIFe group.  Saturday and Sunday our family worked together to prepare the house and the food.   My family showed great kindness by participating in the preparations, even though they would have been perfectly happy with a semi-clean house and a bag of chips. 

Friday, February 4, 2011

Day Thirty-Four

Quick, what movie is this line from? "They're so friendly. Don't you think daisies are the friendliest flower?"

I must disagree.  I think tulips are the friendliest flower.  I love tulips.  If you want to do something kind for me, give me tulips. 
Kindness is showing someone they are valuable by how you treat them.

Day Thirty-Five

There are days that I am grateful for technology and days that I wish I could disconnect from the world.
Being in constant contact with anyone and everyone has positive and negative impacts in my life.
For instance, when my dad was having open-heart surgery and we spent days upon days at the hospital, all the texts, phone calls, and facebook messages helped curb the feeling of isolation.  (Positive)
When I am alone in my car, I tend to default to calling someone instead of cranking up my worship music and talking to God. (Negative)
When I am alone in my car, I can call my best sister-friend who lives eight hours away and catch up.  (Positive)
When my kids are ready to be picked up, they can instantly reach me.  (Negative - Just kidding... sort of)

But tonight, I was very grateful for technology for two reasons:
1.  Sam's Geometery teacher (also a best friend) text me to let me know that Sam made a 97 on his first major test in her class!  If you remember this post, you know that is such a victory for him!
2.  Sam found himself in an awkward social situation this evening.  He was able to text me for help getting out of it.  It was low-key, so he did not feel "un-cool" and I could be the "bad guy".

So while in some ways I envy a dear friend who has no cellular device, I suppose for now I will continue to use mine.  However, I do pray that I know when to turn it off and focus on more important things in my life.  I suppose that is true with all technology.  Wasn't it Paul who said that all things were permissible but not all things were profitable?  He goes on to say that he "will not be mastered by anything."  (1 Corinthians 6:12)  As much enjoyment as I get from photography, food, the computer, blogs, boards, etc.  I long to not be mastered by anything but God.  Praying the same for you this morning.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Day Thirty-Two

(It suddenly becomes harder to count the days off the top of my head!)
Today was another of those proud-mom moments.  Sam is taking a Communications Technology class this semester.  One of their first activities is publishing the school paper this month.  Sam has been calling businesses all over town to get advertisers for the paper.  Today one of the local banks called him back on his cell phone.  He had the most mature, professional conversation with the caller.  His grammar was appropriate, he was polite, he provided sure answers, he took her name and number with a promise to call back tomorrow with the answers he didn't know.  I was so proud! 
Disclaimer:  Texting while driving in Tennessee is against the law.  I cannot imagine what taking photographs with my dslr would get me!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Day Thirty - The Future?!

This video game at our church youth facility made me laugh
Apparently 2015 is the "future"!
Does anyone else feel old?

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Overcoming Public Fear

I do not like to take photographs in public.
There, I have said it.  Pitful, isn't it?
I don't know why I feel this way.
I absolutely love being on our farm with my camera where it is quiet, isolated, and calm.  I can breathe.
I love taking pictures of food on my counter.  There I am free to climb on chairs, turn the lights on bright, move to a window - be creative.
When I "have an audience", I can't breathe.  I want everything to go quickly and perfectly.  I don't want to draw attention to myself.  I find it difficult to be creative.
I really am not like this in other areas of my life.
I teach in front of people all the time.  Sure, I get nervous, but in a good way.
I have been watching you fellow 365er's who take these cute pictures of your families at the park or the mall or the cupcake store.  It has brought out a strange mix of envy and determination in me.
I want to get over my dislike of taking pictures in public places.
With that in mind, I took my camera with me on our family outing to Blue Coast Burrito this evening.  And I used it to take some pictures. 

Mind you I didn't stand on any tables or get ultra-creative, but I did take some pictures.  That is a step for me.
If any of you have dealt with this fear, I would really enjoy hearing how you overcame it.  Or maybe it would just be nice to know that I am not the only one...

Friday, January 28, 2011

Day Twenty-Eight

One of the ladies in the Bible study I host on Fridays is a vegetarian.  This has stretched my culinary skills greatly in the last few years.  This week I was determined to try a recipe that I would normally look past.

I saw this recipe for Butternut Squash Soup on the BakedBree blog.  Throwing caution to the wind (pretty dramatic for squash) I whipped up a batch for lunch.  Oh my, can I just tell you that you must try this recipe?  It was creamy and just a little sweet and warm and delicious and EASY!  Go - now- buy squash.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Day Twenty-Seven

I am so very excited about the package that just arrived at my house:

my notebook for the Karen Russell Photographer's Workshop.  I am auditing the course and it starts next week!  The notebook is full of details that make me smile:  she signed my name and her's inside the book, she included a pen, and it matches perfectly with the website.  I am giddy with anticipation.  Of course, it helps that I have a general passion for three-ring binders.

On a side note, how often (or do you) change your blog layout?  When I started this blog in December, I had no idea where to begin.  I don't want to change it too often, but I was getting tired of the dark brown and wanted something a little more cheery.  I took the title photo this morning and just loved the colors.  I wanted to incorporate it into my blog because it makes me smile.  The quote on top of the picture was the song playing on my ipod while I worked.  For a person who doesn't like change very much, I seem to be doing lots of it lately.  I have even changed how I do laundry

Do those of you who have been blogging for awhile have any pointers for a newbie?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Day 26 - Chocolate Yumminess

I am posting a comfort-food recipe that made our family's evening.  I have tried many of these chocolate cobbler recipes and this is the best one I have found.  It is super easy and has just basic pantry ingredients.  Don't let the "runniness" make you nervous.  It bakes up nicely on top and finishes with a lovely chocolate sauce.  I hope you enjoy it sometime soon!
Chocolate Cobbler
From Taste of the South Winter 2007
1 ¼ cups sugar, divided
1 cup all-purpose flour
7 tablespoons cocoa, divided
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup milk
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 ½ cups hot water
Garnish:  vanilla ice cream or whipped cream
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a bowl, stir together ¾ cup sugar, flour, 3 tablespoons cocoa, baking powder and salt.  Stir in milk, butter and vanilla; mix until smooth.  Pour batter into an ungreased, 8-inch-square glass baking pan.
Stir together remaining ½ cup sugar, brown sugar, and remaining 4 tablespoons cocoa.  Sprinkle this mixture evenly over batter.  Pour hot water over top – do not stir!
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until center of cobbler is almost set.  Let stand for 15 minutes.
Spoon into individual dessert dishes.  The cobbler makes its own chocolate sauce in the bottom of the pan.  Spoon sauce over each serving and garnish with ice cream or whipped cream.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Day Twenty-Five

One of the fun photography things I do involves promotional work for a local store.  It stretches me to photograph inanimate objects (sometimes much more enjoyable), shoot indoors under poor lighting, and figuring out ways to capture their creative displays while also showing details of the items they are selling.  Today I got a shot that I really liked. 

Again, I must say "thank you" blog friends for your encouragement to stick with this project.  I already feel like I am understanding more about the creative and technical sides of photography.  Through sharing your photos and your comments, I am growing.  And that was the goal all along.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Day 24

Kate cut this out of her school paper this afternoon:

I love that she loves organization things, too.
I also find it funny that she marked out "pack your lunch" and "set alarm".  Wonder why?  :-)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Twenty-Three Reasons Why I Hate This Coat Rack

Just kidding...I am not going to list twenty-three reasons why I hate this coat rack.  But I could if I wanted. 
I have to say, I love our house.  We bought it eighteen years ago (it was my engagement ring, for goodness sake!) and it has been through too many major remodeling projects to count.  We have invested so much of ourselves in this place.  It really is home.
Having said that, I am frustrated at the moment by this little gathering spot of clutter at our kitchen door.
I am fighting the urge to completely change the whole area.  However, it involves moving my large desk with all my computer gear, the internet connection, etc.
How do you deal with inside-the-door clutter?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Day Twenty-Two

Poor Sig.
He was hit by a car late last year.  He is now doing physical therapy at the vet's office twice a week.
How funny is that?  I have a dog in physical therapy.  We drive a dog to the vet's office and leave him all day for physical therapy.  Twice a week.  Are you getting the picture?
Here is Sig's main problem:  he thinks he can't use the leg that was hurt.  The vet says his leg is fine, but Sig isn't listening.  So, in an effort to make him use his bad leg, which is really a good leg, they wrap up his good leg and make it a bad leg, forcing him to put weight on the bad/good leg.  
(Are you keeping up?)  And it really works.  He uses the bad/good leg just fine, as long as the good leg is bound up.
But...Sig is not fond of this process and wastes no time chewing through the bandaging to release his good leg.  At which point he begins limping again.  So guess what the vet's answer was yesterday:

I bet you could see that one coming - the lampshade.

Sig's predicament made me think about one of my favorite scriptures:
Cease striving and know that I am God... (Psalm 46:10)
It's probably one of your favorites, too.  It's on a lot of plaques and journals and cards.  (I am thinking of taking a field trip to my local Christian bookstore and counting the number of times this verse appears.) 
But here's the kicker:  I don't really live this verse out.  I just think it sounds nice.  I'm more like Sig on most days.  I chew and gnaw on things; causing problems for myself with all my worrying.  God says, STOP striving and KNOW that I AM GOD. 
I wish He would just give me a lampshade.

All our fret and worry are caused by calculating without God. - George Muller