Monday, November 23, 2009

Photography - Sun Flare/Wash

This week I thought I would join in on I Heart Faces weekly photo contest. This week's challenge is sun flare, sun burst, sun wash. I took this photo of my youngest son three weeks ago and love the effect the sun had on it. This is straight out of the camera, no Photoshop work at all.
See more images at:

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A Visit to the Pumpkin Patch

Nothing says fall like Gourds!

For more great views of the outdoors, visit A Southern Daydreamer!

Occasional Comments

Each month, I write a column for the magazine where I work. It is usually about my boys or stories from my life growing up. This morning, I posted many of them to my blog including the two to follow. To read more, click on the label below or on the girl waving to the right. I would love to hear back on some of your own stories or thoughts.

Occasional Comments

Editorial by Shaila Creekmore as printed in the May 09 issue of Jonesboro Occasions.

I heard the words coming out of my mouth, but I couldn’t stop them. And even as they passed through my lips, in my mind I was thinking, “I cannot believe I’m saying this.”

“I don’t care what (Timmy’s) momma let him bring to school. I’m not (Timmy’s) momma, I’m your momma and I said no.”

There it was, another one of those things our parents said to us that we swore we would never say to our own kids. Oh the rules we break. Our very own rules. Before we know it, we have become our parents.

My husband and I have now become pros at the worst of these little sayings. “Because I said so,” is now a common phrase at our house. With a five-year-old who constantly asks why he has to do something he’s been told to do or why he must stop doing something, I hear it ringing through our house several times daily.

I used to believe that I would never give my children such a simple answer; that I would always stop and explain every detail as to why they must do or not do something. But a few years ago, I heard a preacher explain that while at times we must explain such things to our kids in order to teach them, at other times the child must just learn that some things ARE just because we said so. As the child, they must learn to do what we ask simply because it was asked of them and that because we are the parent, we make the decisions. This made a lot of sense to me.

But the list of things we would never do includes more than what we say. I will never use the television as a babysitter; I will never feed my child chicken nuggets twice in a day because it’s easy; I will never bribe them with candy in church to keep them quiet; I will never let my child play a video game in the middle of a restaurant; I will never send them to grandma’s for the weekend just to get some quiet … I, in fact, have done all of those things.

I have even broken one of the biggest rules on the list of things I said I would never do, let them sleep with me. As we picked out a crib before my oldest was born, my dad said, “It’s a waste to spend all of that money on a crib, he’ll just sleep with you.” And I in all of my expectant parent wisdom replied, “No, no. He won’t be sleeping with us. He has his own bed and he’ll sleep in it.”

Our first night in the hospital, I wouldn’t even let my husband lay him in the bassinet beside the bed. When he tried to take that sweet, little sleeping baby from me to lay him down, I burst into tears and said, “He can’t sleep in there. He needs me. He’s never been away from me.” Now, looking back, maybe that was the hormones talking, but I slept all night with him asleep on my chest.

When we came home, he slept beside me for weeks on end. Slowly we transitioned him to that beautiful crib we bought, but I had to eat those words I had spoken to my dad just months earlier.

Even now as I have become a constant rule breaker, I hear myself saying “I would never let my child do that.” I guess that means I probably will.

A Case of the Gimmes

Editorial By Shaila Creekmore, Illustration By Brittney Guest as printed in the Nov. 09 Jonesboro Occasions.

As we walked into the toy store I announced, “Remember, we are here to buy a gift. You will not be getting anything today.”

Within five minutes, Samuel had already announced a small list of things he wanted or “needed” and Tyler was walking around carrying a toy as if he already owned it.

Need is my favorite. He really needs - not wants - the 500-piece set of Zoobs at J. Christopher’s or a new Bakugans at Walmart to go with the other dozen he already has at home. But I guess to a kid, new toys really are a need.

We have a saying in our house when these little needs arise: “You have the gimmies.” The term comes from one of the classic Bernstein Bears books, “The Bernstein Bears Get the Gimmies” in which Brother and Sister Bear want everything they see and throw tantrums when they don’t get what they want. But Mama and Papa solve the problem by teaching the cubs about a budget and how to appreciate what they already have.

This time of year is especially difficult for our household on this matter because everyone in our family of four celebrates a fall birthday quickly followed by Christmas. Our weeks are filled with birthday parties, trips to the toy store and gift buying. And as the closet doors and toy boxes burst at the seams, I continue to hear “I want…”, “I need…”, “Can I have…”

Mercifully in the middle of it all, comes Thanksgiving. A holiday with no presents and a time to remember and to be thankful for what we already have.

In America, many children don’t have a true understanding of what it really means to “need” something. Needing a new Hot Wheels car really pales in comparison to children in other countries who need clean drinking water and have never even asked for a new toy because it would never even occur to them to do so.

In the mist of all the gimmies in our house, we work to teach our boys about these true needs that other children have, how lucky we are to have the things we have and how to be giving. One of the ways we do this each year is through Operation Christmas Child, a ministry of Franklin Graham’s Samaritan’s Purse.

For the past several years, our church, Highland Drive Baptist, has participated in the program that sends shoeboxes filled with toiletries, toys and candy to children around the world who would never otherwise receive such a gift. In fact, many of these children have never received a Christmas gift at all.

Each November, I have the opportunity to take my children shopping so that they can pick out items to fill our shoeboxes. Samuel also now colors a picture or writes a letter to the little boy who will receive his box. On Shoebox Sunday, Samuel gets to carry our boxes to the front of the church to place on the altar with all of the other boxes donated or packed during our Vacation Bible School week.

My husband and I have also had the joy of going to Atlanta to one of the distribution centers to help prepare boxes for going overseas. The first time I went, I explained to Samuel that I would be helping send the boxes we packed to the little boys for whom he had packed boxes. For months afterwards, he asked me about the little boys and if I thought they liked the toys we picked out.

This year we have another opportunity to teach about giving. Our church has recently partnered with a children’s home in Mexico and we will be packing and sending shoeboxes for specific children in the village around the home. But instead of our boxes going to the children in the home who already receive numerous gifts, the children at the home will take our boxes to the children of the village who would likely not receive anything. A double blessing!

There are many other ways to help teach children about giving to others, such as the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree ministry, making cards for patients in a local nursing home, or taking cookies to elderly shut-ins. The idea is simply teaching your child to be thankful and to think of others. 

Monday, November 16, 2009

Pork Stew

I LOVE this recipe! It's easy and so yummy, especially in the winter. And it's even better the second day. The recipe comes from my Pillsbury Complete Cookbook and unlike most recipes, I made no variations. Ingredients:
1 T. oil
1 1/2 lb. boneless pork loin, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1 (14 1/2 oz) can ready-to-serve chicken broth
1 C. water
1 med. onion, cut into 8 wedges
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. dried marjoram leaves
1/8 tsp. pepper
10-12 small red pottoes, quartered
1 1/2 C. sliced carrots
1 C. frozen sweet peas
1/2 C. half-and-half
1/4 C. all-purpose flour

Heat oil in 4-quart saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat until hot. Add pork cubes; cook 3 to 5 minutes or unitl browned, stirring occasionally. Add broth, water, onion, salt, marjoram and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 20 minutes.

Add potatoes, carrots and peas. Return to a boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer an additional 15 to 20 minutes or unitl vegetables are tender.

In small bowl, combine half-and-half and flour; blend until smooth. Gradually stir into pork mixture. Cook and stir over medium-high heat until mixture is bubbly and thickened.
This week I am adding this favorite recipe to 4 weekly blog parties - because it's just that good! Check all 4 out for great recipes: Friend Making Monday,Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays, What's for Dinner Thursday, and Foodie Friday !

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Out of the Box Stir Fry

I wish I could make really good, homemade stirfry, but I've kind of come up with my own quick version that I enjoy sometimes for lunch. I like to make this when I have chicken left over from supper the night before.

I start with cooking a box of Rice-A-Roni rice, stirfry flavor. While that cooks, I pull the chicken apart into small pieces. Once the rice is cooked, I throw in the chicken and let it simmer. Then in a small skillet, I heat a little oil and scramble a couple eggs.

Once those are cooked, I add in the rice to the skillet and stir often while it cooks. As it cooks, pour in soy sauce - as much or as little as you like. Cook until the rice begins to crisp just a little. Sometimes I also add in a little broccolli. Fresh or frozen, I cook it in the microwave until tender. Then add into the skillet toward the end of cooking the rice. Not quite like my friend from Japan could make, but easy and tasty all the same.

For more great recipes, visit Foodie Friday and Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Skillet Lasagna

This has become one of my favorite recipes over the last few months. It is my own variation on a Pampared Chef recipe. The PC recipe is good too, but I just simplified mine a little and it's still just as good. It is as good as lasagna made in the oven (my husband couldn't even tell the difference), but is much easier and faster.

1 lb ground beef or turkey
1 T. Italian seasoning
1 jar spagetti sauce - any flavor you like
1 jar of water (after you pour in the sauce)
8 lasagna noodles
1 (8 oz.) container fresh whole milk ricotta cheese
1/2 T. dried parsley
2 oz. Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 tsp corsley ground black pepper

Place meat in skillet on medium-high. Stir in Italian seasoning. Cook until browned, breaking up pieces as it cooks. Once meat is browned, add in jar of spagetti sauce. Fill jar with water and add to pan. Stir until it is all blended. Break lasagna noodles into 3 peices each and add to pan. Cook on medium-high allowing to come to a slight bowl.

Meanwhile in a small mixing bowl, mix togther the ricotta cheese, dried parsley, Parmesan cheese, mozzarella cheese and black pepper. Set aside.

Once noodles begin to get soft and the sauce begins thickening, drop cheese mixture by the spoonfuls all over the top of the pasta. Cook on medium until sauce has thickened and cheese is a little bubbly. You can top with a little more Parmesan and mozzarella cheese if you like.

For more great recipes, visit Foodie Friday and Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Blog Crazy and Halloween Treats!!

I have been blogging like crazy the last couple days, both here and on my family site. The fall is always busy for us, so I've been trying to get it all blogged at once! If you haven't been here in a couple days - keep's all new!!

I had to show the Halloween treat buckets I made for Samuel's class.
I found the little buckets in the Target dollar spot, 2 in a package. I cut the spider shapes in black and white vinyl, black pumpkin faces, BOO in white vinyl and then each of their names. I then added tissue paper and inside was tucked candy, plastic bugs and a halloween pencil.
Where the name was placed was based on what design was on each one and how long their name was. Some I was able to put on front and others I put the name on the back.
If you have a Cricut and are wondering about the Pumpkin face, I just cut triangles for the eyes and then a moon or crescent shape for the mouth. I then hand cut little notches for the teeth.

Wacky Sacks

Using an idea from Somewhat Simple, I made this simple little craft with the boys on Friday night. I had some orange balloons and when I saw her tutorial, I thought the orange balloons would make a quick Halloween craft.
I pulled open the top of the balloon as much as I could while Samuel stuffed the balloon with play dough. I used 1 can of play dough in each balloon.
Then we topped off the balloon with green pipe cleaners and drew on faces with permanent marker. However, we found that the marker easily rubbed off. I didn't really find a solution to this problem but the boys love playing with them.
You may remember doing something similar with corn starch when you were a kid, but the advantage to this is that you don't have a big mess to clean up when the balloon gets a whole. Simply take the play dough out and place in another balloon.
When they kids are done with them, cut them open and the play dough is still fresh and ready to play with.

Who's That Pumpkin in the Window??

I found this really cute and easy idea in a magazine (Family Fun, I think). When I saw the pictures, I thought...I have the perfect front porch window to do that!

You simply use tissue paper to make the design. Cut the eyes and mouth out of black, tape it to the window and then completly cover the window in orange tissue paper. The secret is simply leaving your lights on.
A view with the flash, so that you can see the size of the window and the front porch. The kids coming to the front door really liked it.
A view from the street. You can see that it was really visable.
I did it the day before Halloween so it could be seen the night before and on Halloween night. I took it down the next day. A short-run decoration, but it only took me about 30 minutes or less to do, so totally worth it.

All Things Loved in October

These are all the things we loved about October! It is one of our favorite months around here! We love fall, football, birthdays and Halloween. To read more about our October, visit our family blog at

1. Early in the month, I visited Samuel's class during community week to speak about what I do in my job. I talked to them about the different jobs at the magazine and what I do, including writing and photography. They each got a copy of the magazine to take home and they were really excited to look through them.

2. Tyler turned 2!!!

3. Samuel's school fall festival. It was a lot of fun and made a lot of money for the PTO's projects for the year.
3. Birthday Parties! We had a family birthday party for the boys between their two birthdays.

4. HDBC Picnic. Our church host a family picnic each fall. It's always fun to get together and for all the kids to be able to play together outside of church.
5. Red Ribbon Week and 50th Day of School Sock-Hop.
6. HDBC Harvest Festival. A beautiful, fun day! Our church's annual harvest festival that is free and open to the community. We had around 1,200 people attend (our church has around 300 for services on Sunday morning!)
7. Carving Pumpkins!

8. Trick-Or-Treating...and all that candy!
Blog Widget by LinkWithin