Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year!

Wow! It's hard to believe that 2007 is drawing to an end. When I think about the fact that we're almost a decade into the 21st Century it's hard to fathom. I remember sitting in a classroom during 3rd grade being asked to make predictions about what life would be like 20 years in the future.

And yes, that particular year has come and gone with very few of my predictions occurring. I was convinced that cars would be programmable. We'd just get in, tell the car where we wanted to go and it would take us there while we conversed with family or friends, slept or did whatever. Needless to say my predictions were way off....then again...maybe not so much. Maybe they were simply ahead of their time.

We now have cars that will contact the EMS for you, guide you when you are lost, make phone calls to whomever you desire....and yet we don't have self driving cars, but perhaps that is a good thing. After all, we have televisions that record themselves. Games for children that require no physical activity and so many other technological things that take our focus away from what we really need to be doing. The last thing we truly need is another item to "make our lives easier." So programmable self-drivable cars are something that I hope we shall never see.

With that said, this next year is going to be an amazing one! Our baby is steadily growing and will join us in 7 1/2 short months! She/he is now the size of a blueberry and is growing over 100 cells a minute in her/his brain!!!WOW! It's hard to imagine that this little one has grown this large already from two small cells.
Josh and I are going to travel and spend time getting just enjoying each other before our family grows. I'm going to try to become more involved in the church and the community and we are going to finish our house!

My dreams for the new year are to spend more time with my family and friends. Less time spent on technological items...sometimes I believe I'm fairly anti-modern technology for technology's sake. This includes many of the items associated with our upcoming child. Would you believe I'm considering making all of the baby's "food" even after the baby is eating things other than breast milk? And I'm contemplating using cloth diapers!? What can I say...I just want to make sure we have the best for our little one and I'm not convinced the best is necessarily the most advance technologically nor the most expensive.

So with that ramble are my dreams and resolutions for 2008.

1) To read with my husband at least 3 times a week

2) To have a family night or date night each week that we turn off the TV and do things like those we so enjoyed while we were dating. I had no cable at my house so we talked and spent quality time together rather than vegging out.

3) To save adequately so that I can take 6-8 weeks off with our little one without it costing us too much in the long run.

4) To take a special trip with my husband, to take a special trip with my niece and Momma, and to spend some quality time with my Nanny Netta before our little bundle changes our world.

5) To make the time to work on my Children's books the Michael Edwin that we can read to our little ones from books that his/her Momma wrote.

I wish you all a wonderful and blessed New Year! And I also hope that you will find the time to be introspective about what desires and dreams that you have for the new year. Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Christmas Bustle

The Christmas shopping is finished! School ended (FINALLY!!) on Thursday and I spent all day yesterday running from store to store...but I had fun. I do so enjoy picking out things that I know that my loved ones desire.

I was surprised how long it took, but a little after six I pulled into home...lugged in the packages, boxes and bows. bows. And I began to wrap all of the gifts for our families and friends. My wonderful husband came in a few hours later and found me still working on this project. So he helped me finish wrap up the last few. What would I do without him? Possibly, I'd still be wrapping.

Then today, we slept in! It was so nice!!!! I do believe our "little apple seed" makes that much more easy to find sleep appealing...although the apple seed is growing quickly and will be the size of a sweet pea in two days. WOW! Time sure it going quickly. It's hard to believe I'm almost six weeks into this forty week journey.

Anyway, after sleeping in, I ran to the store to take care of some last minute things , and came back to discover that my dear husband was ready to go Christmas tree shopping. YES!! We have the most wonderful Christmas tree this year! It's not terribly tall, or terribly short. It's just right.Yes, we are very much like Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

Back to details about the tree, it's a Douglas Fir and so soft. There's no bad side and we didn't have to cut branches off the bottom. Plus our angel fits perfectly on the top. So who could ask for more?There is no doubt this tree is perfect! It fits in the space allocated for it and we both get to look at it as we come and go. Even Abby, Rachel and Shayne have started paying attention to it...but who wouldn't? It just smells and looks SO good.

We had a blast decorating the tree. Josh put on the lights. We opted for the colored ones. I know that the clear are much more classy, but the colored ones are just SO much fun....and I' m in a have fun mood.

Speaking of I placed ornaments upon the tree, I discovered I have ones that belong to both my sister and my Daddy. I'd not realized I'd lovingly ransomed these, but perhaps that's a good thing a little leverage never hurt anyone when it comes to holding Christmas tree ornaments jokingly hostage. Speaking of hostage ornaments, the ones that were the most fun to apply had to be the candy canes!

What can I say....Daddy and I have stolen these candy canes from each other's trees for more years than I can count. He even got Josh in on our game last year. But it will be a LONG drive for him to remove the candy canes this year. So I think they'll just have to enjoy my tree....
But then on the other hand, since I know he enjoys them so much maybe we'll let them visit his tree, though. I guess he'll just have to wait and see...

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Waiting for the Christmas Season

Our stockings are hung, our Christmas wreaths are properly place. The Christmas decorations are set out. Our Christmas letter has been written and is waiting to be mailed. Our plans to put up and decorate our Christmas tree have been made, but school has not yet ended. One more day, I keep telling more day of school. I'm not sure who is more ready to be out for the holidays, the students or the teachers. But I know I AM!
I've very excited about this Christmas Season this year. In fact, I can't remember a Christmas that I was this excited or this anxious to have it arrive. I've gotten more of my Christmas shopping finished than usual. I'm planning to finish the rest up this Friday, once I finally get out for Christmas vacation.

Perhaps, I'm so restless because I know what a big Christmas this is for us. Josh and I are celebrating our first Christmas together as husband and wife. Therefore it will be one that lives in our memories forever. And we are also finding ourselves very conscious of the fact that it will be another first in a LONG line of firsts. Next year, I will be anxious for Christmas because it will be our little baby's first Christmas. And to be honest, I can hardly wait!!!! :)

Nor can I wait for this Christmas. My cousin called the other day and my Aunt and cousin are going to bring the little cousins with them to play with Annie, Gabe, and Danny. It's going to be so much fun watching them all together, playing, laughing, singing and unwrapping presents. They are my little angels and the light of Josh's and my lives.

Family means so much to both of us....and perhaps that why I believe that's it not simply that the weather has been just right for Christmas! Of course, I'm dreaming of a white Christmas, but not holding my breath. The cold weather will suffice. But rather that some of this extra excitment for Christmas comes from knowing that I have a constant companion this Christmas. One that will bring so may changes into our lives, and so much joy. So yes, I do believe knowing about this little appleseed sized person, is making all of those old Christmas stories and Christmas traditions seem all the more special this year.

However, I think there's an added element of specialness to this Christmas, because it's the last one that we get to be simply Aunt Betty and Uncle Josh. I think we both want to savor each and every last moment of that as well. Which makes the moments with our niece and nephews so much more special. But even with that said, I do hope they all matter what happens, nothing will change our love for them and we'll always have an open heart, a willing ear and yes, even an open door if they need it.

So come Christmas...we're ready...and bring all the miracles that you may.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Storks, buzzards and lemons

This last Thursday, my dear husband I got some of the most exciting news of our lives. I took a pregnancy test and got a positive result. So it appears that the stork will be paying us a visit mid-August. We are so excited and can hardly wait! I do believe that my wonderful husband has been telling people as quickly as he can...and those he's not told, I have. Everyone is ecstatic.

Now we get to go through the interesting part...pregnancy. I've obviously never experienced anything like this, but I am thankful to discover that a good friend of mine is also going through this too. So it's nice to have a friend to share all the strange moments and adventures of pregnancy with.
I have to admit, I'm looking forward to all of these adventures, well...not morning sickness...but the rest of it. :) Speaking of pregnancy adventures though...I feel like I'm already experiencing some. I don't want to bore you, so I'll hit the highlights only...the main ones being fatigue, I do believe that I could fall asleep anywhere and cravings. . Oddly enough, I can't stand french fries right now (normally a favorite of mine, I usually love anything with potatoes) But maybe I'd still like baked fries, I've not tried that yet and I do know that the grease from the fried ones is repulsive. However, I have a new love....LEMONS!!!! Yes, lemons!!!

This craving is followed by a close second and even more strange one...cottage cheese and Rotel tomatoes mixed together. Yes, I know it sounds strange, but it's really, really good. I had it this afternoon for a snack.

Back to the lemons, tonight as I was preparing some vegetables I got some lemon juice on my hands. WOW! It was I promptly began to squeeze the juice out of the lemon and suck on it. Strange as it may was exactly what I wanted. So when my dear husband and I sat down to eat supper, there on my plate along with my veggies and pasta and bread was half a lemon! :) Yes, I devoured it and my understanding husband just watched me and said, so you are "lemons" huh?

For now I am...who knows what the pregnancy will bring as I go through it though....I suspect more cravings and aversions will come and go and I will do my best to fill you in on them and any other big surprises that this pregnancy brings.

Finally, let me tell you about our afternoon surprise this afternoon in the park. Rachel and Shayne were very excited to arrive at the park because we'd missed out outing yesterday due to time consuming errands. So today when we approached the park we noticed that we'd missed the announcement that a turkey buzzard gathering was taking place, there were over 50 of them present. Most of them flew away, except for one. Rachel had the honors of chasing that buzzard away. I've never seen anything like it and I have to admit that they all made me quite nervous. They were circling and circling as we walked around the park. Jogging has ceased for the time being (due to my condition) but we still had a grand time (even if it was unnerving to have to Buzzards circling overhead). After making a couple rounds throughout the park, we decided to give it back to them...and off we went. I certainly do hope that the buzzard convention turned out to be the grand success it started off as, before we visited.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The Eve of the Feast of Saint Nicholas

Tonight, I will be celebrating the Eve of the Feast of St Nicholas Day. I cannot remember a time that I did not celebrate this wonderful day. Nor can I imagine ever thinking that Santa Claus was simply a person that brought children presents. I owe that to my parents and to my great-aunt, Nanny Netta.

And, I've come to understand as I've grown in age that Santa Claus was formed from many similarities that St. Nicholas' possessed, the two remain separate in my mind and heart. Although I do realize what a brilliant and wonderful man St. Nicholas was and know without a shadow of a doubt how very real he was and how very real his spirit continues to be. It is true that, his spirit lives on today...especially during this celebration of his own special day.

I can hardly think of a day more special to me. When I was small child my Great Aunt, Nanny Netta, wrote a poem for my cousins and me about this night. She did not want us to forget the way that this evening is to be celebrated. Nor did she want us to ever lack the knowledge of the religious aspects of this time of year, nor the Saint Nicholas.

So she dedicated the poem to us. As I grew up, my Momma dutifully pulled out this poem each year. It's attached to piece of green yarn and hung it to our front door. I can still remember the excitement that I felt over knowing that not only was St. Nicholas day coming soon, but also that my Nanny Netta cared enough about me and my cousins to write this poem for us.

I may slightly misquote the poem, but the essence of it is this...

A little while 'fore Christmas, 'fore Santa comes to call,
a tall and bearded, saintly man will come to visit all the
boys and girls who love him and who try to do what's good,
the ones who've asked God's blessing and have done the things they should.

This night our saint is searching for the shoes of many feet,
Who walk along the path of God and leave their footprints in his name.
So kneel tonight and say your prayers and at the break of day,
you'll find a great surprise: Saint Nicholas passed your way.

He touched your feet, and touched your hands,
as he knelt beside your bed, and so you'd use them wisely,
he traced a blessing on your head.

But he wanted you to know he'd been there to visit you.
So before he turned to leave, he left some goodies in your

So tonight, I find myself pondering our poem anew and wondering how I can best bring my husband into celebrating this lovely tradition, of remembering St. Nicholas and the things he's done. This occasion is a particularly relevant time to do so....and as I ponder it occurs to me that perhaps tonight, St Nicholas (with some help from his little friends) should leave my dear husband some goodies in his shoes, and a copy of my best memory of this poem.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Madrigal dinner and Advent Decorating

Yesterday, Josh and I stepped into Christmas preparation mode (Advent) a day early. He began his day by mowing the grass and cleaning off the roof. While I began my day by working on the grocery list and deciding what meals we would have for the month. I honestly enjoy sitting down and doing keeps us from having the same things over and over.

After Josh finished working outside he moved inside to help clean and I began the hunt for my Advent wreath. I found it!!! So I can hardly wait to begin lighting candles this evening and singing "O Come O Come Emmanuel" my hubby's favorite carol and the one we Episcopalians frequent during Advent.

My decorating frenzy continued throughout the afternoon and we have many signs of Christmas already speckled about our house. No tree yet, of course, we'll wait until later in December to do that...but many of the other things are up. The nativity scenes without baby Jesus present. He'll appear on Christmas Day. The wise men and shepherds still have a way to travel to reach the nativity scenes but Mary, Joseph and the donkey are there. :)

So keeping with the Christmas spirit we headed off to a Madrigal dinner. It was fun. I'd never been to one of those before!
A Madrigal dinner is a Christmas dinner from the Middle Ages that was hosted by the Queen & King for the Lords and Ladies of their court.
And yes the King and Queen were present (the mayor and his wife).

What can I say, we had a blast. There was a servant to announce our arrival and Lord and Lady Briones! There were rules clearly posted about not wiping your hands on the table or putting your elbows on the table written in Middle English. The little wenches served us our meal, sold flowers for a dollar (the one at the top of the message is the one my dear hubby bought for me). Additionally the wenches and servants provided entertainment. But entertainment was not the entire focus...those attending the meal did have to follow the rules because there was a pillory present in case anyone misbehaved and unfortunately there were those that had to be arrested and taken to the pillory. Finally there were those selling favors during this dinner. For $2 you could send a kiss to someone through a wench or jesteras well as being able to send an insult or complimentfor merely a dollar. A merry time was had by all.

Christmas carols were abundant as was the food. Josh had both a full turkey leg and porkloin rib in addition to his soupy potatoes and vegetables. All of these were eaten in traditional mid ages style, with not silverware to be found. That probably was one of the coolest things about the dinner. And yes, I look forward to attending a Madrigal dinner again next year. So I encourage all of you to see if you can find one in your area. It's an excellent way to get into the proper spirit....

Thursday, November 29, 2007

You're a mean one Mr. Grinch

A few days ago, I began thinking about the Christmas holiday season and trying to figure out what all my husband and I could do together to make this holiday more of our own. Obviously, some traditions, we will carry over from things that we've done individually and in meshing those together combined with new activities we will hopefully begin building our own Christmas traditions.

This last year we set up the holiday visitation extended family will be visited for Thanksgiving and we'll spend the days preceding Christmas and Christmas day celebrating with my husband's family. But the smaller things, the little ones that make Christmas special in it's own unique way are the ones that have truly been on my mind lately.

Things such as building an Advent Wreath together and singing "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" definitely made the list of things that I suspect we'll do together while preparing for this season of Christ's birth.

But another idea that crossed my mind was of all the fantabulous (yes, I know this isn't a word) Christmas cartoons that air this time of year and among those cartoons my favorite being, "The Grinch who Stole Christmas"!

I could hardly contain my excitement last night when I realized that it was the evening that the Grinch would be on. Of course, my techno-savy husband insisted on tivo-ing the Grinch so I'm certain we can watch it any time we please....but the fact that the TV stations were airing last night was thrilling.

So after a nice evening of Bible study...and a Eucharistic service at our church, we hurried home to finish cooking supper (more like warming it up since I'd started much earlier in the evening) and sit down to our family meal.

After supper my wonderful husband even helped me clean the kitchen!!!! WOW! I'm not sure who had more fun watching it last night....the hubby or me...but regardless I do believe we both have that classic just about memorized. Nothing beats wholesome cartoons such as that one with such a wonderful message that Christmas is NOT about commercialism, etc....

I thought as I watched it, I wonder if people today would create a cartoon about something like this for the general public and decided it probably wouldn't happen, but was thankful that 40+ years ago someone did, because I know that so many people were enjoying last night just as I was....after all...who can help but singing when that bass voice begins, "You're a mean one...Mr. Grinch..."

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Running with dogs

You know I never really thought that married life would change me all that much. Motherhood? I absolutely expect that it will...but married life? Not so much. However, it has. When I look back even the few short months that I've been married I see many changes in my routine. Let me see if I can explain....

This time last a single person I could probably be pulling into the drive way of my country home...looking for my dogs...scrounging...maybe going for a walk...picking grapes, looking for food...or who knows what...but these days my schedule is much more predictable.

And as such...I've found that the routine is actually kind of comforting. Each afternoon, after arriving home...begin preparations for supper, start a load of laundry...straighten up the living room or other areas of the house and begin to prepare to take the dogs to our makeshift park. I call it makeshift, because it's not technically a's an abandoned lot where the old hospital used to sit. But it has a make shift track (probably the old drive way around the hospital) and a crumbly parking lot...but it works for Rachel and Shayne and me. It's our park and we LOVE our time there.

Shayne's favorite activity of the day is playing ball...and so for 15 or 20 minutes each evening...I stand throwing Shayne his ball...he catches it...or chases it...brings it back and again we repeat the cycle.
Rachel loves the park because it reminds her of our country environment (the one she grew up in). So she chases squirrels....smells for bugs and dashes through the woods. She's even found an old drainage ditch to go swimming in. And each evening after Shayne and I finish playing ball we walk around the park with Rachel. Oh and lest I forget it...the most savored activity that the park provides are the HUGE mud puddles. For several days after it rains there are almost pond size (not in depth but in breath) mud puddles to splash in and lie down in. So Rachel and Shayne look forward to those too.

However, today I decided to put a new spin into our daily routine. I added jogging. I've gained quite a bit of weight since I started dating my dear husband and would like to lose a bit of it before I become pregnant (or gain weight from pregnancy). So...I experimented today and told the puppies that today we were going to run all the way around the park a couple of times before beginning any of the other activities. They LOVED IT! Around and around we ran....Rachel sprinting...Shayne lopping and me slowly trudging along. And I have to admit...watching my babies prance and smile as we jogged together gave it a whole new element.

And thinking about that I realized...that I'd like to continue this tradition when I have children...dogs and all....I can just see myself pushing the baby stroller around *our* park....running with dogs...and bonding as a family....even more closely and creatively than we all envisioned it.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Interactive games and homemade dog biscuits

I hope that everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I know that we certainly did. Amazingly it took us only 10 hours of driving time, each way. And honestly, I enjoyed that time alone with my husband. We sang songs together, read parts of a book outloud, watched movies and just talked.

When we finally got to Helena, we sat around with family and recalled old times. Then on Thursday we did that some more and while listening to my Great Aunt tell me stories about my Great-Great Grandfather...we ate our Thanksgiving dinner. I was so pleased with how many people we had in attendance at Thanksgiving this year. There were 4 dining room tables full. It was so good to see some cousins that I'd not seen for the last ten years or so.

But, I do believe though that the day after Thanksgiving is just as special for me as Thanksgiving day, when we travel further into Arkansas and visit with my first cousins and Aunts and Uncles some more while we celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas all rolled into one. Josh told me on our way home that this day was even more special to him, than Thanksgiving itself. And it was on this Friday evening that Josh and I had the pleasure of playing the Weii for the first time. It was really fun and interactive. Gina and Terry had one so we stayed up late Friday night, playing brain age, boxing, bowling, playing tennis and just bonding.

I particularly liked the boxing, but also enjoyed the bowling. The boxing was fun because I could pretend that I was actually boxing my husband. He claimed I was doing it wrong because he said I should aim for the television, but it was just as much fun to aim for him and I actually won one round doing it that way. On the bowling I discovered I'm a better pretend bowler than a real one, but also that I could move my arm in such a way that I'd send the bowling ball flying backwards toward the audience (on screen). That was quite funny. :)

And I think one of the coolest things to me was how Weii engaged the whole family and got everyone off the couch so that it becomes truly interactive family experience. I think that activities such as this that the whole family can become involved in are part of what makes families so healthy. Josh and I talked for over an hour about how wonderful Gina and Terry's boys are and how Gina and Terry definitely seem to be doing many of the right things when it comes to raising a family.

And truly it's many of the smaller things that they do, that make this difference. One of those being the way that they spend so much quality time together...another being the way they celebrate the simpler things in life. And yes it is always amazing how the smallest things can make such a huge difference in the way that we view our days isn't it?

Another example of the small things that I truly enjoyed this weekend was getting recipes from my Aunt Gina and Uncle Terry. One of them was for a butternut squash lasagna (I'll share it sometime in the near future). The other was for dog biscuits. Gina told us a story about how when she'd been in a more domestic mode had made dog biscuits for all the dogs in the neighborhood and packaged them up with a label from Star Angel (their dog). Gina said many of the neighbors wrote back (from their dogs) thanking Star for her kindness. How cool is that?

In today's world, where our animals have become so much a part of our families it only makes sense to me that people would want to celebrate with their pets. So yesterday evening, Rachel, Shayne and I began a dry run on making dog biscuits for our friends pets. Shayne and Rachel were the test tasters of course. And they heartily approved of the recipe I used, however the icing still needs some work so I believe that we may have to try again sometime soon...until we have it just right to give out for Christmas. Don't you know Shayne and Rachel are heart broken??

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Turkey Song...

I do believe that Thanksgiving is my absolute, most favorite time of the year. Yes, I realize that was a terribly grammatically incorrect sentence, but still it stands true. And I wonder sometimes why so few people give Thanksgiving the respect that it deserves. Is it because there are no Thanksgiving songs...or should I say almost no Thanksgiving songs. I remember with great delight learning "The Turkey song" when I was in high school.

Here are the words:
" If God can love turkeys,
then God can love you.
'Cause you are a turkey,
and I am one too."

This song is just so true! Yet, Thanksgiving means so much more than simply turkey and dressing. As we all know it's also about being thankful. But, for me Thanksgiving is even about more than that. It's a celebration of family, friends and fellowship.

I honestly could not imagine Thanksgiving any other way than this...every year (with the exception of one) my family loads up on Wednesday morning before Thanksgiving and begins our pilgrimage to our roots. We travel the majority of the day, observing the sights and spending quality time together, playing the license plate game, singing songs, arguing, sleeping and just being together. After the day long pilgrimage we are all ready to fall into bed after reaching our abode for the evening. Usually this is a plush bed and breakfast, that my family has reserved the majority of the rooms in. At least that's the way it was when I was a child.

As my cousins and I have grown older the family pilgrimages have grown for many of them few and far between. Our numbers have dwindled and fewer and fewer of my family members have been willing to make this trip. In fact, we only had about twenty people present last year when I first introduced my husband (then fiance) to this tradition.

Thankfully, this year due to my Great Aunt's ingenuity we will have at least 60 present. Why the change? Simply put, because my Nanny Netta (great aunt) asked everyone to make the effort to be at Thanksgiving at her house this year.

I cannot believe how excited I am that we've all answered her plea. You know...Christmas morning itself has nothing on Thanksgiving, for me. I'd much rather spend this time with my cousins, and Aunts and Uncles and niece and nephews than open a million present.

Perhaps the real things that we should be thankful for are intangible, rather than the things that we all get bogged down in. Yet so many of us do end up being thankful that we have more than the person next door or the guy living down under the bridge. Yet, as that catchy song reminds us....if God can love turkeys....and those turkeys don't spend time comparing possessions with the Joneses (or the other turkeys) maybe that's why...we all need to be reminded of how blessed we are.

Have a safe and happy, Thanksgiving. And above all remember, be Thankful for all that you have especially those around you this holiday season, because I know I will be.


Sunday, November 18, 2007

Weekend wanderings

After reading several friends blogs, I've decided that I'd like to join this exciting world of blogging. So here goes... wish me luck on my first attempt!

What a weekend this has been! My wonderful husband I are truly blessed. Literally! This Friday, we had a house blessing and I absolutely loved having all of the people from church here. Our priest called Thursday evening to let us know how many people we should expect and the number of attendees ended up being about 10 more than that!! But each individual that arrived was someone who meant the world to each of us!!!! WOW! I worried a little bit about seating and food since we had so many extras show up, but shouldn't have. It all worked out. We had more than enough food, wines, desserts and seating. :) In fact we ended up with lots of left overs (especially desserts and wine).

Then yesterday, my dear husband headed off to a conference for work and I was blessed by having the time to go work in the yard with my church friends. This is the first work day that I've attended in quite some time. I really enjoyed it...
Then when I got home, I discovered that our dogs Rachel and Shayne had uncovered a bit of a brick walkway in our yard. Neither my husband nor I had any idea it existed. So off to the hardware store I went to purchase a hoe. Hoe in hand I worked diligently for over an hour clearing dirt and grass and weeds off of our newly discovered walkway. It did not turn to be as large as I'd hoped that it would be...but my arms are thankful for this. It's about six feet long and has the nicest brick patter. I'll try to post a picture of our new walkway soon so that you can share in our excitement. Once it was cleared though...the image of this walkway made all of the work worthwhile, even if my allergies are giving me hell today for having done so much work outside yesterday, but c'est la vie.

So I decided to turn my interests in doors after my outdoor adventures and have been perfecting my bread baking skills. I attempted two different breads yesterday and had one turn out pretty good. It would have been better, I think, if I'd put the ingredients in, in the right order. So I'll try that again soon. In the meantime; however, here's the recipe. I hope that you all have as much fun playing as I did.

Amish white bread

2 cups warm water
2/3 cup white sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
6 cups bread flour

In a large bowl, dissolve the sugar in warm water, and then stir in yeast. Allow to proof until yeast resembles a creamy foam.

Mix salt and oil into the yeast.
Mix in flour one cup at a time.
Knead dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth.
Place in a well oiled bowl, and turn dough to coat.
Cover with a damp cloth. Allow to rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
Punch dough down. Knead for a few minutes, and divide in half. Shape into loaves, and place into two well oiled 9x5 inch loaf pans. Allow to rise for 30 minutes, or until dough has risen 1 inch above pans.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes.