Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A Haunting view

I'm going to go ahead and say know i'm right!

I had no idea how much science goes in to the trick-or-treating process. You have to be home and ready at 5 or earlier so the kids can get out before dark. And, in some cities if you live on "Halloween Alley" you cant get to your street for hours. I also feel like there is a cycle to this halloween process.

birth to 5th grade - trick or treater

6th-8th grade - helper

9th-12th grade - too cool (for really anything in life!)

college - tip toeing on the "I really want candy but just last year when I was with my old friends, I was too cool for this"

20s before kids - waste of time...and why are all my favorite channels invaded by zombie and vampire movies

20s with kids - rush and get them ready so they can throw a fit and not really enjoy this costume bc its too scratchy

30s - drive to "the neighborhood" in the swagger wagon and let your kids knock on doors (at what age do you graduate from walking to the door with them, to standing at the end of the driveway, to sitting in the car while they get out?)

40s- you think its cute to see all the costumes and remember your kids

50s - its starts over and you do the whole process with your grandkids and then let them eat too much candy and then head home to leave them with their mama on a sugar high

60s- you sit in the front yard in your folding chair with the bowl in your lap and make the kid walk all the way over to you and then ask them what they are and make them say trick-or-treat before you even think about giving them 2 evenly distributed pieces of the the cheap candy you bought. You know kids dont like peppermints, right?

70s - you start giving prunes and peanuts and wonder why no one stops at your house any more

80s - you cant remember what day of the week it and and you keep mini candy bars around all year long because you want to give your grandkids something when they come see you or you want to bribe other kids to be your grandkids because those ungrateful little brats never show up.  And, you are curious why one random night in October there is a line of minivans down your street.  You check your calendar and remember oh yea, I knew I forgot something at the store today! 

I'm just saying. 

(favorite Halloween - not sure where little goldilocks is)


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Sunday drive

Many have posted this weekend about the fall foliage in this part of Arkansas and after my Sunday, I had to jump in the mix.  As I drove Hwy 7 on Sunday North from Russellville, I was amazed at every winding turn in the road. 

Seriously, there are some breath taking views. While I had my camera with me, I found that the best views were in places where you couldn't pull off the road. You just had to take it in as you wound your way up the hill. 

I think it a lot of ways, memories are like mental photographs.  You just take a snapshot of a moment with your mind and keep it there. 

This is absolutely my favorite time of year.  I love the smells, the colors, the flavors.  I love the symbolism of the changing leaves.  The visual representation of a hard summer and preparation for winter.  I love how nature describes what we go through in life.  I love that you find the most beautiful places off the beaten path and that the undercarriage of the foliage in these valleys bring breath taking moments.

For the record I'm building my Arkansas bucket list.  The following have just been added to the mix.  Anything else that should be on there?
  • Boxley Valley (accomplished on Thursday)
  • Elk in Ponca (accomplished a couple weeks ago- still want to see "Mr. Hollywood")
  • Jasper, AR (accomplished last week)
  • Ozark Cafe (accomplished 2 weeks ago)
  • The Glory Hole
  • Hawksbill Point
  • Alum Cove
  • Falling Water Falls
  • Pedestal Rock
  • Kings Bluff
  • Mystic Caverns

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

food for thought

Gotcha....this one is not a recipe.  I guess its a recipe for something, but not like the others ones I've shared this week. 

I've come across a couple articles this week that I thought I would share.

What Successful People Do with the FIRST Hour of Their Day. - a website I don't get to spend nearly enough time on

Why do I sneeze when I pluck my eyebrows (according to O mag)? Do you sneeze when you tweeze (according to Dr. Oz)?

And, as an uninformed voter in Benton Co. AR, he who has the biggest signs doesn't always get the vote! Ballotpedia may help.

Fall Foliage in Arkansas is approaching peak (like this weekend before the cold front!). If you are not spending some time outside these days, you are missing out big time! Take a stroll or better yet a drive, you might be surprised what you see!


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

apple dumplings

After our Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk on Saturday, we had some apples and oranges left over.  I had totally been craving those apple dumplings that you make with Mountain Dew.  So, I snagged a couple to bring home and experiment with. 

Here's the recipe I used for inspiration and tried to just do it with the ingredients I already had at home.

Country Apple Dumplings
Original recipe makes 16 dumplings

2 large Granny Smith apples, peeled and cored
2 (10 ounce) cans refrigerated crescent roll dough
1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 (12 fluid ounce) can or bottle Mountain Dew ™

1.Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9x13 inch baking dish.

2.Cut each apple into 8 wedges and set aside. Separate the crescent roll dough into triangles. Roll each apple wedge in crescent roll dough starting at the smallest end. Pinch to seal and place in the baking dish.

3.Melt butter in a small saucepan and stir in the sugar and cinnamon. Pour over the apple dumplings. Pour Mountain Dew™ over the dumplings.

4.Bake for 35 to 45 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden brown.

Substitutions that I used:
-I only had red apples.  I peeled and cored them and they were perfect, but green apples are the best!
-I had some of that Walmart brand peach lemonade in the fridge.  It was flat, but worked just the same.  I think you could use apple or orange juice as well. I've also made it with 7up or Sprite before.
-It is hard to get all 16 of the dumplings into one 9x13.  They do poof up and will touch each other if you try to put them all in one pan.  So, I usually split them between 2 pans so they are prettier when you serve them.  That's important after all!
-I also served it with ice cream, but french vanilla cool whip would be yummy too.  Or, they are super rich so just by themselves would work as well. 

I feel like Mix and Match Mama would be proud!!!


Monday, October 22, 2012

Homemade Marinara

Yesterday, I posted about the Sausage, Spinach and Ricotta Calzones that I made over the weekend.  I was completely inspired by an episode of Pioneer Woman that I watched on Saturday.  This is the problem with me watching Food Network...I always get inspired and want to make some version of what I see....guess that's the point!

PW's marinara sauce is listed here in case you want to be inspired as well!!!

KP's marinara sauce

1/2 pkg frozen seasoning blend
1 T olive oil
1 T minced garlic (or more, I dont really measure)
3 C roasted tomatoes
1 1/2 C chicken broth
basil paste
salt and pepper

Earlier this summer I made a couple trips with my sister and mom to East Texas to pick tomatoes from my Papa's garden.  He fell and broke his hip and was in rehab until 2 weeks ago, so his amazing garden had to be tended to while he was away.  It was fun because we had TONS of tomatoes to play with and try new recipes.  Of course with it just being me, I couldn't use up the tomatoes fast enough.  I knew sometime in the winter months, I would make soups or other dishes so I decided to cut them and roast them.  I froze them in ziploc bags to I could pull out small portions at a time.  This was the perfect moment!!
I also keep chicken broth in my freezer.  Anytime I have to boil chicken for a recipe, I add bullion and other spices and freeze it for later.  I love having homemade chicken broth vs canned anytime possible.  It's annoying to have a bunch of random containers in the freezer, but when it comes time to make sauces or soups, I'm so grateful!

So, I pulled 2 bags of tomatoes and 1 tub of chicken broth from the freezer and put in a bowl of hot water to defrost.

Saute the seasoning blend in olive oil until the edges of the onions start to brown. Add minced garlic and stir together let sit for 2 minutes.  Pour in the chicken broth and de-glaze the bottom of the skillet, scrap all the yummy goodness off the bottom from sauteing the onions.  Add in the tomatoes. Stir together to mix.  Boil down until you get the desired thickness.  Add basil. 

Normally, I would go for fresh basil, but I recently bought a tube of basil paste when they were out of the fresh for another recipe I was doing.  Its proven to be a concentrated blend and makes the same effect of fresh without all the chopping! 

Sprinkle in the sugar, salt and pepper.

(at this point, you can decide what texture you want.  I sliced the tomatoes before I roasted them so they were kinda a "crushed" texture.  If you want your sauce smoother, wait for it to cool and pulse in the blender.  Or, you can use an immersion hand blender.  I kept mine kinda chunky.  Another thing to keep in mind if you use fresh tomatoes is that roasting them brings out a natural sweet flavor so you may omit the sugar just to keep it from being too sweet.  And, the peeling will roll up and be tough, so you may want to pull that from the frozen tomatoes before you add them in to make the sauce.)

Serve with Calzones or over pasta. 

Buon Appetito!


Sunday, October 21, 2012

what had happened

You see, what had happened was.  After I got home from our Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk yesterday morning and spending the afternoon with my aunt and uncle at the craft fairs (still sporting my hot pink leggings I might add), I came home and decided to chill and see what I had saved in my DVR.

So, I came across a couple recorded episodes of Pioneer Woman.  And, I was done.  Quickly I found myself making a grocery list and checking to see what I had in my pantry and fridge.  Surprise, most of it was already here. 

So, after watching this episode, I decided to make my own Sausage, Spinach and Ricotta Calzones with homemade Marinara.

You see, her recipe for calzones and marinara, looked completely manageable.  The problem was when I put my feet on the ground I could barely walk (I was up at 4 am after all).  However for once, no fast food sounded good and really cooking is so cathartic for me that I knew I had to get to the store quickly!

I'll try to list what I did below.

Sausage, Spinach, and Ricotta Calzones

1/2 pkg frozen seasoning blend
1 T olive oil
1 pkg HOT breakfast sausage Italian Season, dried basil, salt, pepper 16 oz Ricotta cheese grated Italian cheese blend asiago cheese (left over 1 in wedge),grated 2 eggs 1 pkg frozen spinach, thawed and drained 2 rolls refrigerated pizza dough   Preheat oven to 400.
Saute seasoning blend in olive oil until the edges of the onions begin to brown.  Add in sausage.  Brown meat.  Sprinkle with Italian Seasoning and basil.  Stir together.  Pour out onto paper towel lined platter to drain meat.  Let meat cool before adding to filling.  
In a separate bowl mix cheeses, eggs, salt and pepper.  Thaw spinach and squeeze out as much water as possible.  Stir into cheese mixture.  Add sausage and blend all together.    
Lay out pizza dough and spread thin to even layer.  Cut into 4-quadrants.  Place portion of filling in center of each quadrant long ways so you can fold over the top to the other side.  Leave a 1/2-inch edge of the dough for sealing.  Fold one side over the other.    
Fold up corners to seal.  Seal edges with fork.  (you can use an egg wash on the top of the dough before you transfer to baking sheet - I did not, but PW did!)  
Transfer to baking sheet.  With the pizza dough, they don't poof up much, just need a little room to breathe.  Bake at 400 for 8-10 minutes.  The bottom will be soft, so you may want to cook until the top is fully brown.   

You can serve with Marinara sauce, Ranch, or whatever you prefer.  They do refrigerate ok.  I just turned mine over on the baking stone and "warmed" it for 15 minutes at 350.  This helped the soggy bottom to toast up and was just as yummy the second (and third!) time.    Hold on to your britches, I'll share the marinara sauce I made tomorrow!      


Saturday, October 20, 2012

FAQ on the pink stuff

In honor of our Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event this morning, here's the rest of the story from my "think pink" post last week.....

I recently came across some FAQ's on breast cancer.  I'll be honest, the more I read the more curious I became as I realized there were lots of things I didn't know.  As I read through these, I knew that I had to share them.  I think they are questions we all have and are afraid to ask so we don't feel stupid or because we don't know who has the answers.  I don't have answers, but I have access to the people who do!!! (insert the American Cancer Society!!!)

Before you read further, let me say this.  Breast Cancer is the most common form of cancer FOUND in women, excluding skin cancer.  It is also 98% CURABLE when detected and treated early. 

Here's what I'm saying.  If you could prevent a house fire by not leaving your oven on while you are gone all day, you would turn it off.  If you could keep your water bill from going up by not running a faucet all night while you are sleeping, you would.  If you could loose weight by cutting out one coke a day, you would think about it!  Hear me....if you are not getting your annual mammogram and doing the necessary things to determine if you are at risk for breast cancer or catch it early, you are hurting yourself and those around you who love you and want to share life with you.  Getting your annual check ups (that goes for all of them for men and women) is IMPERATIVE!  Your kids, spouse and friends will thank you later.

A few years ago, I read the book Why do men have nipples? It was a cheeky medical view to several questions that we may have all pondered, but were too afraid of the cookies that would come if we googled the answer!  I kinda  feel like some of these breast cancer facts are the same thing.  Being curious is not a bad thing, especially when it comes to knowing the facts that could save your life!

1. How many women are affected by breast cancer?

An estimated 226,870 women in the United States will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in 2012, and 39,510 women will die from the disease this year. Among women, breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed non-skin cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death after lung cancer.

2. Is breast cancer the most common cancer among women?

Breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer among women, excluding skin cancer.

3. What are the Society’s recommended guidelines for the early detection of breast cancer using mammography?

Based on an expert panel’s review of the historic and recent evidence, the Society recommends that women at average risk should begin annual mammography at age 40. Women should have an opportunity to become informed about the benefits, limitations, and potential harms associated with regular screening.

4. Does mammography save lives?

This year alone, an estimated 39,510 women will die of breast cancer. And while mammography is not perfect, getting a high-quality mammogram is currently the most effective way to detect breast cancer early. Mammography can identify breast cancer before physical symptoms develop, when the disease is most treatable.

A steady decline in breast cancer death rates in the U.S. since 1990 (2.2% per year between 1990 and 2007) has been attributed to early detection by mammography and improvements in treatments. For women under 50, the drop has been particularly strong, at about 3 percent per year. The percentage of women 40 years of age and older who reported having a mammogram within the past two years increased from 29% in 1987 to 70% in 2000. Although this percentage declined by 3.4% between 2000 and 2005, thereafter, it has remained relatively stable (66.5% in 2010).

5. Can men get breast cancer?

Breast cancer in men is rare, but it does occur. An estimated 2,190 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012 and approximately 410 will die of the disease. Currently, there is no technology to detect male breast cancer early. Men should be aware of how their breasts normally look and feel and should discuss any changes with his health care provider.

6. Who is most at risk for developing breast cancer?

Several factors contribute to the risk of developing breast cancer. Aside from being female, age is the main risk factor. As age increases, so does the risk of developing breast cancer. In fact, two out of three invasive breast cancers are diagnosed in women age 55 and older. Modifiable risk factors that are associated with a lower risk of breast cancer include breastfeeding, moderate or vigorous physical activity, and maintaining a healthy body weight. The use of alcohol is also clearly linked to an increased risk of developing breast cancer. The risk increases with the amount of alcohol consumed. Compared with non-drinkers, women who consume 1 alcoholic drink a day have a very small increase in risk. Family history and genetics also contribute. Weight gain during adulthood and being overweight or obese are risk factors for postmenopausal breast cancer, as are having a personal history of breast cancer, certain types of benign breast disease and several hormone-related factors.

7. What effect does a family history of breast cancer have on a woman’s risk of getting the disease?

Women with a strong family history of early breast cancer – two or more close relatives diagnosed before age 50 – are at increased risk of developing the disease. However, the majority of women diagnosed with breast cancer have no close relatives (mother, sister or daughter) with the disease, and most women with a family history will not develop breast cancer.

8. Why is early detection important?

Numerous studies have shown that early detection – having a yearly mammogram – saves lives and increases treatment options. The five-year survival rate for breast cancer is 99 percent among individuals whose cancer has not spread beyond the breast at time of diagnosis.

9. What is a mammogram?

A mammogram is a low-dose x-ray procedure that enables doctors to see the internal structure of the breast and possibly detect breast cancers that cannot be felt. These smaller tumors are more likely to be confined to the breast, meaning treatment is more likely to be successful.

10. When should women have mammograms?

The American Cancer Society’s current breast cancer screening guidelines are as follows:

• Yearly mammograms are recommended starting at age 40 and continuing for as long as a woman is in good health. Women with serious health problems or short life expectancy should discuss ongoing early detection testing with their health care providers.

• A breast exam should be part of a periodic health exam, at least every three years for women in their 20s and 30s and every year for women age 40 and older.

• Women should know how their breasts normally look and feel and report any breast change promptly to their health care providers. Breast self-exam is an option for women starting in their 20s, and women should be told about the benefits and limitations of breast self-exam.

The American Cancer Society recommends that some women – because of their family history, a genetic tendency, or certain other factors – be screened with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in addition to mammograms, starting at age 30. (The number of women who fall into this category is less than 2 percent of all the women in the United States.) Women who think they are in this category should talk with their doctor about their history and whether they should have an MRI with their mammogram. They may also call the American Cancer Society for more information about screening.

11. What should women do to stay well and reduce their risk of breast cancer?

Women can help reduce breast cancer risk by choosing to make healthy lifestyle choices to stay well. Many studies indicate that being overweight increases the risk of breast cancer among post-menopausal women , so all women should strive to maintain a healthy weight. In addition, moderate to vigorous physical activity among both pre-menopausal and post-menopausal women has been shown to decrease breast cancer risk .

Weight control and regular physical activity are also important for breast cancer survivors. There is convincing data that obesity is associated with breast cancer recurrence , and data from a large study of breast cancer survivors showed that higher levels of post-treatment physical activity were associated with a 26% to 40% reduction in the risk of recurrence and mortality . Healthy lifestyle choices such as maintaining a healthy weight, getting regular exercise, and limiting alcohol intake are important steps to helping reduce your risk of breast cancer.

Compared with non-drinkers, women who consume 1 alcoholic drink a day have a very small increase in risk. Those who have 2 to 5 drinks daily have about 1½ times the risk of women who drink no alcohol. Excessive alcohol use is also known to increase the risk of developing several other types of cancer.

12. Does mammography detect all breast cancers?

While mammograms detect the majority of breast cancers, they are not perfect and fail to detect about 10 to 20 percent of breast cancers. Women with negative mammograms who find a change in their breast should be certain that their breast change is evaluated by their doctor.

13. Is mammography the only technology currently used to screen for breast cancer?

Mammography is the standard tool for early detection today. Other imaging techniques, however, are under investigation. These include MRI, positron emission tomography (PET), and ultrasound. Some of the techniques are currently used to follow up on suspicious findings from a physical exam or mammogram or along with mammography in women with increased risk for breast cancer.

14. Are breast cancer screenings covered by insurance?

The Affordable Care Act guarantees women access to proven preventive services such as mammograms and cervical cancer screenings, both in new private insurance plans and in Medicare, with no deductibles or copays. Additionally, most states require that Medicaid provide coverage and reimbursement for the early detection of breast cancer.

15. When should women perform breast self-examinations? What if they detect a lump?

Women should always be aware of how their breasts normally look and feel. If a woman chooses to do breast self-examinations, she should do it regularly, preferably monthly. Beginning in their 20s, women should be told about the benefits and limitations of breast self-exam. While research does not show that doing breast self-examination reduces breast cancer deaths, the exam may provide self-awareness and heightened sensitivity to important breast changes. If a lump is detected, a woman should see her health care professional as soon as possible for an evaluation.

16. What are the signs and symptoms of breast cancer?

Breast cancer can be detected by the appearance of irregular images on mammograms. Other signs include persistent breast changes, such as a lump, thickening, swelling, dimpling, skin irritation, distortion, retraction, scaliness, rash, ulceration, pain and tenderness of the nipple, or spontaneous nipple discharge. During a breast examination, lymph nodes in the armpit and above the collarbone may be felt for enlargement or firmness, which might indicate the spread of breast cancer.

17. Are there opportunities to get involved and help in the fight against breast cancer?

Through the Society’s many breast cancer programs, there are numerous ways to help save lives from breast cancer year-round. Families and friends of all ages can participate in one of the Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer® walks, or other events such as Relay For Life® or DetermiNationTM. Other volunteer opportunities include driving patients to treatment and providing one-on-one support.


Additionally, people can join the Society’s advocacy affiliate, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action NetworkSM (ACS CAN), and help advocate for important legislation and public programs that increase access to breast cancer screenings, outreach and education, follow-up care and treatment for all Americans.

Please visit for more information, and to find out how to get involved in the fight against breast cancer.

Kushi LH, Byers T, Doyle C, et al. American Cancer Society Guidelines on Nutrition and Physical Activity for cancer prevention: reducing the risk of cancer with healthy food choices and physical activity. CA Cancer J Clin. Sep-Oct 2006;56(5):254-281

Weight control and physical activity, vol. Vol. 6. Lyon, France: International Agency for Research on Cancer, 2002.

Weight control and physical activity, vol. Vol. 6. Lyon, France: International Agency for Research on Cancer, 2002.

Holmes MD, Chen WY, Feskanich D, Kroenke CH, Colditz GA. Physical activity and survival after breast cancer diagnosis. Jama 2005;293(20):2479-86.

  I listed it last week, but if you are intersted in more information beyond what you read above, here's a good resource!


Friday, October 19, 2012

like mama made it

Today is the last day of the BLOGtober Fest challenge with the Arkansas Women Bloggers.  And, today is all about fall recipes. 

I've really wrestled with which ones to include.  So, I'll go with a variety of things from my memory, mom's recipes, must haves and my new found Pinterest loves.

1.  The one thing that I absolutely must make every year is Pumpkin Dump Cake (yes you can use pumpkin pie spice instead of all those individual spices).  Its my signature dish if I ever had one.  And, the one thing that makes it better than anything is sharing it in the floor of JPAC with my favorite buddies during Tiger Tunes (I'm having withdrawals can you tell?)  Also, you must serve it with French Vanilla Cool Whip if you can find it!

2.  My best friend, Heather, makes the most amazing Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread this time of year.  Its the kind of stuff you just cant stay out of!

3. For Thanksgiving, we get a Greenburg turkey.  They are the most amazing things.  Slow cooked and smoked with Cajun spices- goodness from Texas!  So, my mom saves the carcass after my Uncle Ray carves it on Thanksgiving morning and boils it down in the crock pot when we get home to make broth for Tortilla soup.  When I say its amazing, I mean you cant get that smoky flavor in the broth any other way.  This is a fall and winter staple at our house. 

Tortilla Soup

2 14.5 oz. cans chicken broth
1 lg onion, chopped
4 C cooked, chopped chicken or turkey
2 14.5 oz. cans stewed tomatoes 1 10 oz. can Rotel
1 16 oz. jar salsa 1 10 oz. cream of chicken soup
1 tsp cumin, chili powder, and garlic powder
1 med zucchini, chopped 2 C shredded cheese
1/2 C chopped cilantro

Cook chicken or turkey. Bring to a boil, onion and broth; boil for 5 minutes. Stir in turkey or chicken and next 5 ingredients. Simmer 30 minutes; add zucchini and cilantro and cook 10 minutes more. Top with tortilla chips and cheese.

Mom used 2 cans rotel and more salsa. Also cook chicken with seasonings and wait to add zucchini and cilantro to each serving instead of main pot.

4.  With deer season upon us, I know you guys are always looking for something new.  This is my favorite way to eat deer at home.  Its perfect served with green beans and yellow rice.

Spicy Deer

1 pkg. Taco Seasoning                                                           1 lb. deer fillet
11 oz jar salsa                                                                        ½ C peach preserves
2 T oil

Place taco seasoning in large Zip-loc. Add deer. Shake around until all the meat is covered. Fry in oil. Blend together salsa and peach preserves. Place deer in baking dish and pour over salsa mixture. Heat thoroughly.

5.  Corn Dip - while we are carving the turkey on Thanksgiving morning, mom always sets out snacks.  Yes, this is after we've had waffles for breakfast and before we dive in for lunch, but if there ever was a day for eating, its THANKSGIVING!  Its not always corn dip, but its usually some sort of dip or cheese ball and crackers or chips.  And, sometimes its more than one!
(cant do a food post without this little beggar being involved!)

Pretty much anything on this board or this board also serve as perfect fall recipes!!!

My favorite memories involve gathering around a table.  Usually food is involved, but I love the discussion that comes from just sharing time together.  And, the older I get, I've learned to love the kids table even more!!


Thursday, October 18, 2012

auction reminder

Just a reminder that the auction for the Turners ends Friday at 10:00 p.m.

  • To see the item I'm aucitoning, click here.
  • Also, I'm donating 50% of sales this month from K Cutie Designs.
  • To see the master list of items being auctioned, check here.

Thanks for continuing to pray for this sweet family as their hearts heal in only ways God can do!


Blogs from the past

Today's BLOGtober fest challenge is to post, re-post or revisit blog posts from the past.  So, I thought I would do a Top 5:

(not sure the definition to create my "Top 5", not necessarily the most popular, most liked, or most visited - but maybe for me, they are my version of the 5 point walk down memory lane!)

  1. Tuesday, March 25 (posted Friday, March 28) - my very first blog post 2 days after finding a mass in my neck that turned out to be the beginning of my cancer journey
  2. Relay for Life (posted April 26, 2008) - my ultimate definition of community
  3. Italia (posted Sunday, March 15, 2009) - a post about my trip with my sister to Italy.  She trained and ran a marathon in Rome in my honor.  - apparently I was not smart enough to post anything beyond a link to my pictures when I got back.  My how things have changed!
  4. Wisteria Lane Adventure (posted, April 12, 2010) - a fun spring adventure road trip with my camera and the open roads of South Arkansas
  5. New Adventure (posted, Sunday, August 7, 2011) - the official launch of K Cutie Designs
There were some others that I probably should have featured instead.  But, for me and where I am today, these are my selections.

Whats your favorite post from the past?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

BLOGtober fest: Traditions

So, today's topic is Fall Traditions. 

I feel like rather than talk about our specific traditions, I thought I would instead tackle the topic of TRADITIONS.

I'm a product of a traditional environment; in every sense of the word.  I personally believe that kids thrive on traditions.  For me, it falls in the same category as a schedule for your baby.

I love predictability, something to count on, the comfort that comes from "knowing" and "expecting".  And, ill be perfectly honest that I'm not a fan of change or changing traditions.  Its probably something that comes across as a fault.  It does make me fall into the "well, we've always done it this way" category.  Which, with family traditions may be ok but when that pattern of behavior seeps over into other parts of life I have to remind myself to throw a toddler style temper tantrum. Change can be good and often time turns out to the avenue to a new love, vantage point, friend, passion, etc.

You see, as a kid, I learned early that having something to "count on" was so healthy.  I know my parents set boundaries, but the reward of that environment was having a constant, thriving home life.  one where love was spelled out with consequences and rewards. Where family nights were every night, not just a point we made to have together once a month. Where home cooked meals developed our love language and quilt forts were our favorite way to spend the weekend.

And still within this environment, we had all kinds of traditions.
-Halloween, as you learned yesterday was the night we dressed up and went to church to the fall festival
-we carved pumpkins
-we dipped Nutter Butters in white chocolate to make ghost
-We begged mom to take treats to our class for harvest parties and usually she showed up to the party instead of just sending then to school
-we gathered as a family for thanksgiving-on Wednesday evening, my grandmother always put a pot of vegetable stew on and everyone could have a bowl with homemade cornbread as they arrived at her house.
-we had the full spread for lunch and while the women cleaned, the men would gather in the living room and watch football and play dog pile.
-as the kids got bored, or if the game was bad, we would meander to the back yard for our own game of football or "rides" in the wheel barrow (serious probably my favorite moment ever fall)
-in the afternoon, my mom always planned an afternoon snack project and a craft activity.  All the grand kids would bake something.  she would give the instructions and we would do all the work.  It was of course usually some sort of gooey chocolate dessert, but we still ask when we show up to thanksgiving what the afternoon snack is
-at night we would gather in the living room and play games or the kids would go to sleep on the cots while the parents stayed up and played the "Newly Wed Game".  Once we were old enough to stay up for that, they quit playing...I think there were too many "married people" secrets revealed!
-on Friday, my granddad would smoke Hot Links and Hamburgers and we would have all the trimmings before everyone began to disperse.


I find now, that as I learn of the traditions other families did, I mention them and sometimes we are able to work them in - things like Advent, pumpkin patches, road trips, tailgating, family photo cards, making gingerbread houses.

However, I struggle with the thought of a "new tradition".  As our families have grown, grown up and changed the traditions that fill this time of year have changed as well.  It is something you kinda know is always coming, but you can never anticipate.  Over the last couple years, we have changed how we do holidays.  Its hard.  And, I think I put pressure on my mom to make some predictability in our holiday.  Its not fair, but its a monster that was created.  And, my parents work hard to make holidays perfect.  I think the next generation waits for grand kids to come and develop traditions around them.  And so, the cycle begins again and makes my point complete. 

As an adult, I find myself looking at tradition in a different way.  Where as a child, I wanted the fun and predictability that came from these traditions, now I want the legacy and family intimacy that comes from shared moments together.  I think you as you grow older, you realize how life changes and how to take everything from each moment given.  I love the big family prayer that happens when we gather in the kitchen before Thanksgiving dinner.  Its sad that it takes that moment for us to reflect on our year and find what, in that moment, we are grateful for.  (I cry!)

But, here's a question, how long do you have to do something together for it to be a tradition?  I think tradition comes from an exclusive repetition of years numbering more than 5, but really I think tradition falls into categories.  You know like an "old family tradition", or "my family always", or "when I was a kid", or "our new tradition".  Just curious how deep a tradition has to be for it to stick. 

As I close, here's my challenge.  Create tradition.  Don't be afraid to start a new tradition this year and try to establish something you've always wanted to do.  Be grateful for parents and families who have built tradition for you.  Carry on tradition.  Involve yourself in traditions.  Establish them.

Where I come from, tradition = memories and memories really are the only thing we carry for a lifetime.


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

BLOGtober Fest Day 2: Halloween Breakdown

Its funny to even say this, growing up the daughter of a staunch Baptist man.  But, Halloween brings some of my favorite memories. 

From the very first year of my birth, we always dressed up for Halloween.  I wish I could have my dad guest post the story of my first Halloween. (I'm going to work on that  right now!)  But, we planned early for our Halloween costumes.  And in true Pittman style, we didn't buy those costumes on an aisle in a superstore.  Oh no, we made them. 

My grandmother sewed our earliest costumes, and then once I acquired a Singer of my own, these little fingers that I use to type, made costumes.  I like think of it as early breeding ground for K Cutie Designs!  And, if I'm being honest, everything I sewed back in the day was really a costume, I was just dumb enough to wear it on say my....first day of 7th grade.  That should be an idea for a as a 7th grader.... pink framed glasses with rose tinted lenses, bangs tall enough to compete as a Venus fly trap.  An over sized black t-shirt with a panel of sports ball fabric down the left side and culottes in the same coordinating fabric.  Seriously the units I wore every other day of school would have been so much better.  Such and awkward and terrible stage.  I tell myself we all went through it to make it better (and, after attending a wedding rehearsal for most of my friends and seeing those slide shows, I'm convinced I'm not that far off!)
I digress.

Halloween was always a fun time.  I actually discovered when trying to make my senior slide show that the only family photos we had growing up, other than the occasion Olan Mills complimentary 8x10 from the church directory, was Halloween night. 

(lest you be confused...this is not Halloween)

My mom was always involved in planning the fall festival at our church.  And of course you can't show up to your own party without your party dress on!  For us, that typically meant a bear, clown, cowboy, Bob the Tomato or Minnie Mouse costume.  (my dad sure was a good sport!) We LOVE to dress up.  Still do.     

Even now, we talk every year about what my mom, sister and dog (yes dog, she is now part of the theme) are going to dress up as.  I'm not so much the dresser-upper on Halloween, typically bc i don't have any where to go.  Who wants to be the creepy 30 year old lady dressed up by herself when the kids come to the door.  Creeper!

Halloween now typically means a few friends stopping by with their kids and then I turn off the front door light.  (I know..boring..) But, buying the good candy is expensive and I would rather not do yucky candy that to just leave the light on because.  However, my new neighborhood has lots of kids so I better get crackin! 

Growing up, we didn't really trick-or treat.  We would go to a few houses right by our church where we knew the people and then we would rock the carnival.  I loved going up to the fall festival.  I loved playing all the games, working a game station with my mom when I got bored and then fight with my dad who was always trying to sneak Snickers out of my bucket! 

Oh the bucket!  Getting a new "basket" to carry my candy in was almost as important as buying a new lunch box every year (notice the pattern of containers to carry food...insert fat kid joke!) As I grew in maturity in my costumes, I couldn't just carry a plastic pumpkin with a hole in his head.  No, it had to stay with the "theme".  Oh did my parents ever tolerate me!

I do remember however that my dad would barricade our front porch from intruders while we were gone to the church.  Those durn hooligans!  Part of the Pittman way is to worry about things that need not be worried about.  I'm sure his antics were warranted.  You know people play big pranks on Halloween to the people who have an empty driveway and no light on out front. So, we would have the biggest scare of the night when we would go bounding up to the door when we finally returned home, only to forget that some random piece of plywood had been roped off to some random finding on our front porch to keep people away from our front door.  I mean there were times that said piece of plywood had eggs on I guess he was on to something, but some how "rigging" the front porch from being intruded on will always be part of our evening ritual.

I also remember when my mom would get those fancy orange trash bags for the yard with the jack-o-lantern faces on them.  I used to think it was so cool to have a "pumpkin patch" in our front yard.  Now, I realized that's a little game parents play with their kids to get the first fall leaves cleaned up.  I cant wait to be a parent and try some of these tricks!
I noticed last night that the kids across the street from me have filled the tree in their front yard with lunch sack ghosts.  My mom was always so patient with my desire for craft projects.  Whether it was lunch sack ghosts, pumpkins, paper mache pumpkins or the ghosts you make from cheese cloth, Halloween brought the first wave of holiday craft projects around our house.

Clearly all things worked because I have the best memories of those nights. 

(oh and these pictures, don't even begin to compare to the ones I don't have electronically.  And, my mom doenst need to know I posted all these!)


Monday, October 15, 2012

BLOGtober Fest: Day 1

So, BLOGtober fest begins today. 

What's the topic you ask? 


Really, these two topics in one day - oh so much to cover? 

First, I need to say that I LOVE fall.  Its my favorite time of year.  I love what happens to the trees, the smells, the colors, the weather, the holidays, the natural opportunities to gather with family and friends.  It really is the perfect time of year. 

As for fashion, fall brings the opportunity to layer up!  I love cardigans, they truly are my favorite article of clothing.  Fall brings the perfect time to wear rich warm jewel tones and then to layer with more.

(original photo here)

Scarves - Yesterday, I visited a church that meets in a movie theater.  Which, meant I got to wear jeans.  Which, meant I could wear my riding boots.  So, I rocked it.  I found a great deal on scarves at Francesca's when I was in Branson a couple weeks ago and found the perfect scarf.  Its very similar to this one, just imagine shades of dark coral and teal.  I knew it would work perfect with my mustard v-neck tee from Target. 

(original photo Anthropologie)

Color - For me, fall is all about the color.  Jewel tones galore - mustard, dark coral, painted desert, heather purple, and emerald. More often than not, I'm a Target girl.  I love those racks at the back with the 30%, 50%, 75% off signs.  There are always little treasures that I can find left over.  I love to take great basics and add a pop of color or trend to them.  Lately, I've found myself walking the aisles of TJMaxx.  Its great to be in "the city" and be able to just "pop" in on "my way home"!

(original photo here)

Riding boots - I know they kinda seem overdone.  But, I love how you can just throw a pair of boots on, stuff you pants in them and suddenly, its feels so polished.  I have a great pair form JC Penny that I got last year.  I had a certain type in mind that I wanted and I waited all season to find the perfect pair.  Maybe that explains why I love them so much.

(photo from google images)

As for decorations, there are almost always pumpkins on my porch come the first of October.  This past weekend, I found some great Heirloom pumpkins at the Bentonville Farmer's market.  Yes, I paid more than I had planned to.  For some reason, pumpkins have been priced really low this year at the supermarkets and I had planned to snag one a couple weeks ago, but really, who wants to lug a pumpkin to your car (one more reason I need a man in my life!).  None-the-less, there was something about buying a pumpkin from a local farmer knowing that it had been picked with his bare hands and then driven to the middle of the town square.  Really the perfection of fall.

Yes, my porch needs some mums, but that will come.  Does anyone else have trouble deciding what color mums to buy?  What do you base the color you choose on?  Is it the color of the brick of your house?  The color of your front door? Whichever one is not damaged when you finally make it to the store? Do you always go for yellow?  I mean really, how do you decide?