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Saturday, November 27, 2010

Biggest bang for your buck and your Community!

   Two owners of local retail shops in the Tupelo area recently told Jim that their family owned and operated businesses will not make a profit this year.
   Our Sunday School prayer list has a family who had to close their family business this past week.
   A close friend told me her husband's business, which his parents own and employs many of their family members, is really struggling. She now must put her little boy in childcare and return to work.
   Maybe one little family spending a few of their hard earned dollars at a few family owned and operated retail shops won't make much of a difference during this holiday season, but a few families could make a little bit bigger impression.
   It could mean a Christmas bonus, Insurance premiums for one more year, or even your neighbor's salary.
   Sure, the ornament I bought from the local gift shop down the road cost about three more dollars than it would have at my beloved Hobby Lobby, but this business won't turn a profit this year, and maybe, just maybe, if I shop there, maybe my friends will too, and then their friends too! Get the picture...hint, hint!
   My point being, when and where you can, support your local merchants and put the money back into the pockets in your community.
   It's really easy to do. Need some ya go...
1.  If you are out at the mall, check out those locals who rent booth space down through the middle of the corridors. Sometimes there's a church or civic group selling fresh baked goods.
2.  Get out! Get away from the popular shopping malls and centers and head to the boutiques. I recently needed some boots. My first thought was to head to Charlotte Russe in the mall and grab some cute ones that a million of other girls would have, with the help of a distracted teenager who would rather be anywhere but there. But instead, in my agenda to shop local, I headed downtown to Voe's Boutique, who just happened to have all her shoes on sale 25% off, I got great customer service from a person who actually enjoyed her job, and found the cutest pair of boots and a sweater on sale too!
3.  Get Online! Ask your friends about online boutiques! My friend Stephanie is a stay-at-home mom of 2 with one on the way this week!  She sews matching mother/daughter aprons, bibs, burp clothes, dipee/wipee bags and soooo much more and sells them at Ruffled Charm, her online boutique!
4.   Give a gift card to a locally owned restaurant versus a national restaurant chain.
5.   Gena Nolan makes these incredibly detailed and personal  charmed necklaces, bracelets and other jewels. She gives half the cost you pay to St. Jude Research Hospital in Memphis, TN. Give her a call or email, tell her I sent you that way!

6.  Neatest idea ever...Buy gifts that have a meaning and where your money actually goes to help a cause you are passionate about. Here's three of my favorites...
   -The Scopel family is selling this really cool t-shirt to help raise money to adopt possibly, 2, children from Uganda. 
Visit Amy's blog here and read her story, and see for yourself.
Embraced In Love

   -I've been following the Weimer family for some time now.
The love  for God and her children Heidi Weimer, the mom, has is very encouraging and inspiring as a mom. When I feel like I have a hard day with just my 3 little ones, I think of Heidi and think of the struggles she is going through. Check out her blog and their fight to "find" their Ethiopian daughter, Eden.

They have these cool "One Family" t-shirts! 

Shop local!!!!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

They will love this Meatloaf, I promise

   The Crown Restaurant in Indianola, Mississippi, put a new spin on meatloaf. They plopped the big ole glob of meat down into a pastry and baked it in a cocoon.  When I tried the new style about a year ago, little did I know the hit it would be in my house!
   When Taylor, the eldest son who says he doesn't like meat, saw me place the meatloaf into a pie crust and put it in the oven. He asked if it was cake...Why, yes son, it is...It is meatloaf cake!
   Tell any child that anything is cake, if they don't know much of a difference, they'll eat that stuff like it's nobody's business! Sorry, no money back guarantees.
   To make this scrumptious concoction, all you need is a meatloaf mix,  2 lbs. of  your meat of choice (mine is ground turkey), and a pie crust.
   To mimic the Crown's and Taste of Gourmet recipe, I swap out the bread crumbs for Whole Grain Oats!!! Try it, I dare you. You will comment with many thanks!
(If you want to order the Taste of Gourmet mix for yourself, here's a link to my friend Laurie, who can help you out with that! Click here)

If I have one on hand, I use one of those rolled pie crusts. I just roll it out thinner. Place it in your loaf pan, leaving the extra hanging over the edges.

Place your meat mixture inside the pie crust.

Wrap remaining pie crust over the top, sealing any open areas.

Bake according to the directions on your meatloaf recipe.
And be prepared to be amazed! 

Without a doubt, this meatloaf delivers a yummy, delicious, scrumptious...all of the! I usually pair it with a veggie topped with shredded cheese.
So now, when I tell my chillins' that we are having meatloaf cake for supper, they actually cheer. Even though, Taylor still asks for his meatloaf cake, without the meat! 
Bon Apetit!


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Be one of those who learn from others' mistakes...

    It was supposed to be an uneventful lunch playdate with Taylor's best bud Tyler. But it soon, became anything but that!
   As the boys bounced out of the car, I realized Andrew didn't have any shoes. I sat my diaper bag down on the curb beside me and I placed the shoeless child in the driver's seat while I looked for any sign of them in the back seat. "Don't touch anything!"
   There they were, on the other side. I ordered Taylor and Tyler to play in the flower bed while I resolved the issue. Each time, 3 to be exact, that I made it to the other side of the car to get the shoes, Andrew had locked the doors. The third, and final time, I dug my keys out of the diaper bag and marched over there and unlocked the door myself. He's 2, it is to be expected.
   I placed the keys on the seat while I adorned Andrew with his sporty silver and red tennies. We counted to three and he hopped out onto the ground. I closed the door and grabbed the door to retrieve the third child. Locked. hmm...that little...
   I dug around for my keys in my diaper bag that was still sitting on the curb. Still keeping an eye on two 4 year olds and a 2 year old playing in the Chik-fil-A flower bed, I see that the keys are still laying on the seat where I had placed them while socking and shoe-ing Andrew.
   It's okay, Carrie Ann's only a little fussy. What in the world do I do? Jim didn't have the spare key and was headed into a meeting. Tyler's mom, Deanna,  had locked her keys in her car before and told me to call the police.
  She was right! The Tupelo police directed my call to the Fire Station and before I finished my conversation I could hear the sirens blaring from the new fire station just down the road. "Good grief ma'am, are they sending a fire truck?" To which she kindly and swiftly replied, "Yes ma'am, they will be right there!"  I was mortified. Deanna was mortified. The boys, all three of them, were excited...What's that sound?
  Visions of what was about to take place ran through my head. I leaned my head against my car and shook it. They are going to use the jaws of life to get this little angel out of my car. Who, by the way, had no idea she was in there all by her lonesome. I should have taken her sweater off of her, it's probably hot in there.
   They arrived alright, bright and loud. Lights and sirens. The boys loved it!
   I was so embarrassed. My car was a mess. I felt like the worst mother ever. Standing there, blaming it all on my middle child!
   Naturally, I'm a drama queen, but I was oddly calm. I kept wondering when the "freaking out" moment would come. When the tears would pour. Or maybe, I'm just getting good at catastrophes by now!
   While these guys shimmied and pryed their way into my passenger side door...{of course I took pictures!}
This guy entertained the little guys...It didn't take much, all he had to say was, this is my truck! 
Taylor even entertained him a little...
And this little princess had no idea what all the fuss was about! 
She even slept through the alarm going off! 
Safe at last! 
Moral of the story...learn from others' mistakes and if by chance you don't, have OnStar installed in your car or call the fire department, they'll be there in a jiffy!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Trash to Treasure

   I have this place in my bathroom underneath my counter that needed a new purpose.
   For the last two years it has been home to one of the many bouncy seats in our house. Admittedly it makes the best place to place a napping or playful baby while a busy mommy gets a much needed shower. I just pull it out and I can see baby and he/she can see me.
   I've been begging Jim for something else to go there. When I was pregnant with Carrie Ann, I decided a little vanity stool would look great there, plus give me a place to sit while I am drying my hair or putting on my make-up. 
   A little over a week ago, I was down at my dad's house. I was looking through some of his closets and look what I found on the top shelf of the bathroom closet!!!
I know, exactly what I was thinking... It's perfect!!!
    This was my mama's little seat that she always used in front of her dresser. It reminds me of her and her perfume that she always wore. With my dad's permission, I swiped this great find and lugged it all the way back up here to Tupelo, right to my bathroom! 
   It's exactly what this little space needed! I cleaned it up and washed the cushion, which I am sure hadn't been washed in more than 20 years. So, bye-bye bouncy seat for now. Carrie Ann really didn't like you all that much anyway. I hope that this little stool brings as many sweet memories to my children as it did for me!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

It's Pizza Night!

  Over the last week, I have been on a mission to clean out my fridge, freezer and pantry. Jim's family will be here for Thanksgiving and I have to make room for all the goodies that we'll be making.
   Last weekend I cleaned out our fridge, ridding it of leftovers and everything that I had successfully grown. I checked expiration dates and scurried to put some things in the freezer. My pantry was full of tied off bags of ends of loaves bread pieces and about 3 boxes of lasagna noodles. Who needs 3 boxes of lasagna noodles?
   I like to keep odds and ends when it comes to food. If I am in the mood for oatmeal cookies, cornbread, or pecan crusted chicken, it feels good to be able to go to my pantry and pull out those ingredients.
   My supplier on the other hand, i.e. Jim, doesn't agree. He likes to see the bare shelves. Clean, clutter free pantry and find things on a moment's notice. NOT ME! {I think if he was really honest with himself, he'd be really glad I had two different types of flour and 2 extra bags of chocolate morsels when he got a sweet tooth and was itching for a dessert!}
   I find a sense of security and peace from knowing I have plenty of food. I'm pretty sure this has counseling session stamped all over it. But I'm serious. I'm trying to overcome it and I think this week I have come a long way! Our security only comes from one place and it shouldn't be food!
   When I went grocery shopping this week, I got the necessities and perishables...milk, bananas, lettuce, cereal, yogurt and butter. I figured I could make do for a week with all I had stock piled!
   So over the last week I've treated my family to tuna and goldfish, goulash, spaghetti O's and apples, oatmeal with whatever frozen fruit I could find in the freezer, a fresh bag of dried cranberries, muffins and some funky seasoned potato wedges that no one liked. Today for lunch there was mini-corndogs, mixed veggies with cheese and yogurt.
   Yesterday, I managed to scrounge up some chicken stuffed with spinach, feta and pine nuts (yes, I just had those things lying around), Decaf sweet tea, Sister Schubert's whole wheat rolls, whole cranberry sauce and stir-fry vegetables that I steamed. Sounded so good we invited the neighbor over who brought some Kraft Homestyle Macaroni!
   So now, the day before grocery shopping day, and my fridge is brighter than ever, the shelves are bare. The light shines all they way down to the apples in the bottom drawer! My pantry is looking better... I'm down to just 2 cans of corn, a box of Uncle Ben's wild rice, a few cans of vegetables and tomato sauce and still wondering how I can use all of those lasagna noodles before Thanksgiving.
   I am so glad it is Sunday and pizza night!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Growing like Weeds!

When I called my good friend Amanda of Reflections by Amanda Smith to schedule our yearly family pictures, the scenario in the above photo is exactly what I had in mind. 
I wanted to post it right over there to the right, just to show you what everyday life really does look like in the Brown household. 
I'm usually holding Carrie Ann, Taylor is always tugging me in a different direction and Andrew, he's usually being drug along, with his 'I hear you, but I'm not listening' attitude!

This little girl, who turned 9 months old yesterday, is still wearing 3-6 month old clothes and on this particular day, was all smiles and full of character!

This train track runs right through downtown Summit, Mississippi, where Amanda's studio is located. These two handsome guys could NOT wait to play on it. 
All I could do was cringe at how dirty those baby blue pants of Taylor's were getting.

If you look closely, you can see how they looked by the final pictured...UGH!!!!
Taylor's Bebbi had this stuff...
And after a few washes and one treatment with Grandma's Secret Spot Remover...those pants don't have a trace of the railroad track anywhere on them! (You can get this at Hobby Lobby or Hancock Fabrics)

Her daddy makes her smile so big! 

This little stud muffin turned 2 this past July, and wouldn't crack a smile the entire morning. We had talked about it for weeks, he is used to having his picture taken by me all the time. He was just bound and determined to not let us get a single peep at those pearly whites. 

You always wonder what went into a photo session to get some pretty amazing results. This not only epitomizes this day, but pretty much everyday.
Amanda was dying to use some new props for her time with Carrie Ann. My typed words wouldn't do these next few photographs justice...

Amanda, thanks for all your hard work. You definitely have an eye for the perfect shot and never cease to amaze me with your skill and talent! Keep up the great job!

Make Time Stand Still