Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy Twenty Ten!!!!

We had big plans this New invite a few friends over, fondue, and make complete fools of ourselves playing Guesstures. But my immune system had other plans. Wednesday morning I woke up with a raging sore throat and head cold. And I have whined like a 2 year old since. I planned to press on but when I received a text from one of our guests that her son was vomiting with fever, we decided to cancel. Dang. Next time.

My super spectacular, Culinary Institute of America graduate husband, decided the show would go on here at our he set out shopping and returned to transform (dimmed lighting and all) our house into The Melting Pot.

Complete with Coq Au Vin and Yin Yang Fondue and all!

My waitsline will never be the same. We had a wonderful time here as McManus Party of Five, but we did miss the fellowship with our friends. Next Year. For sure.

I'm not sure if I plan to work on resolutions this all seems sort of pompous in light of the fact that tomorrow I will sit with a friend as she mourns the loss of her mom...just diagnosed with cancer in early November....released into the hands of Jesus New Years Eve morning...that Sunday I will sing the funeral of a woman so many thought would be in their Holiday photos many years to come...after all, we are not promised our next breath.

Perhaps I need to be more focused on and live better in the moment I'm given...learn better to treat it as the last moment I'm afforded with the ones I love. Perhaps I need to be less distracted on the fluff of life and more focused on things that will matter eternally...perhaps we all do. Perhaps.
Besides my yearly resolutions always have something to do with a gym membership and losing 15 pounds.
Why? See photo above.

1 Corinthians 2:2 "For I decided that while I was with you I would forget everything except Jesus Christ, the one who was crucified."

HAPPY TWENTY-TEN friends!!!! May your moments be rich with life and love!

"The object of a New Year is not that we should have a New Year....but that we should have a new soul" -G. K. Chesterton

Christmas Memories 09'

With the help of three of the cutest elves I could find, I managed to get my bake on this Christmas...and by doing so I'm sure I've managed to get my weight on as well. I'm gonna be honest here folks ...I have NO IDEA why I bake the things I do at Christmas time! Half the things I bake, no one in my house even likes...just traditions that have been passed down I suppose.

So this year I decided to lighten my baking load by ditching the pain in the you know what to make and never eaten peanut butter balls and coconut bon-bons and instead asking the family to pick one thing they would like mom to make for Christmas.

Tyler? Peanut Butter Fudge- Hands down every time
Maggie? Sugar Cookies with frosting
Aidan? Peanut Butter Crackers dipped in White Chocolate
Adam? Peanut Butter Blossoms

I was afraid I had eaten the entire pan of these all by my lonesome...but my sister reassured me that she had eaten one...phew!

Christmas Morning was wonderful here...the man with the bag certainly delivered.

The kiddos requested Mario Kart as a group gift.

It was an iPhone Christmas for Tyler ...and Adam
Aidan requested a digital camera...and he has since been torturing us with the video function.

Maggie requested Art supplies...she received an Easel, multiple sized and shaped canvases, brushes, and paints.

I was actually able to surprise Adam this year (he knew about the iTouch)...usually I'm not so hot at it...he on the other hand rocks at surprises...this used to be a lot easier to do when I worked and he didn't know where every penny was going. But this year I was able to get him a Keurig coffee machine (we affectionately refer to her as "Kay") without our checkbook ever skipping a beat. And he we can't stop using it! It is so snazzy that I dare say it would make even a non-coffee drinker wanna brew their own cup o' joe.

I received the Prime Lens I had longed for since last Christmas...and it's a tradition in our house that Adam gets Maggie and I gift cards to the mall so that we can have a "Mother/Daughter After Christmas Day of Shopping" together. We started that last year and Maggie lives for it! I also got a Clarisonic Facial Cleanser it. I just knew that as cold natured as I am, this would for sure be the year of the Snuggie...But this year for me could easily be referred to as "The year of the scarf"....I think I got 8...or joke. Where do I keep them? Hang? Drawer? Paid storage unit? Seriously, where do you keep yours? Any ideas would be appreciated greatly.

One of those spectacular gifts Adam gave was 8 tickets to see The Rockettes Christmas Spectacular at The Grand Ole Opry downtown. Adams mom, my mom, and her fiance were able to join us as one big happy family! We first toured the beautiful Opryland Hotel (yes, you Blissdom '10 attenders are in for a real treat!)...check out that tree! Then moved over to the Grand Ole Opry house for the show. The show was phenomenal...the Rockettes themselves were beyond impressive...the Nativity emotional (yes, I cried)...the memories wonderful!

Hope ya'll had a wonderful Christmas too! :-)

"And whatever I do, may it always bring Glory to You"

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The many names...

...of Ashley...

Daughter...Sister...Friend...Aunt...Ash...Ryan (her middle name..which she hates for some reason)

No matter how she's referred to, she will always be my "little sister." Although sometimes she feels more like my own. I was 9 when she came into the world...and from the time I can remember I simply wanted to be a mom. She was my very own real life baby doll. I can remember getting off the school bus and rushing in to pull the rocking chair in front of the TV to give her a bottle while watching the Carol Burnett Show. I even changed her diapers and let her sleep with me...there was that time she threw up spaghetti in my waterbed though...pretty sure that was the end of that arrangement.

She swears that I was mean to her when I was a teen....I believe's just I truly don't remember...and it kills me to think I ever was...but, nonetheless, I'm sure I was a jerk. I do remember once not wanting to have to drop her off at Kindergarten when I was driving to High School...I'm sure I thought that was way uncool...and she cried as she was made to get on the bus...and I cry now envisioning it...Sorry Ash. Really.

Then she became the teenager and would drive me nuts when I would come home for visits...we had numerous fights over her room being messy and her refusing to take her laundry up to her room off the stairs when I'd ask... I can remember one really bad fight we had outside on the porch once...although I can't remember exactly what it was about...something to do with going to Chuck E. Cheese and her leaning her seat back too far when she drove. Once we even fought so bad that we both ended up crying. Funny how those things don't matter I can't even remember why I was ugly to her. And how once again I feel bad just thinking about it.

All I know is that now she is 25 and I am 33 and although the digits in our ages will never get any closer...the gap is closing relationally. She has grown into a beautiful, intelligent, thoughtful, giving, woman ...full of stubbornness beyond comprehension contagious laughter. And I don't tell her nearly enough how proud I am of her.

This Christmas she and her boyfriend, along with my mom and her fiancee', spent Christmas here at our house. We ate way too much food...enjoyed making fun of each other way too much...played Guesstures way too late...and had way too much fun. It really was a wonderful time. I look forward to the Christmas' ahead we will spend with our families.

I was extremely touched by the gifts Ashley gave us this year and wanted to share. Maybe even inspire.

She gave each of her nephews (Tyler and Aidan) and her niece (Mag) a new pair of Toms Shoes. If you are not familiar with this company click the link...for every pair of shoes you buy...a child somewhere in need gets a pair too! They were a hit with the kids...and it's a good feeling knowing someone else is benefiting as well.

And for Adam and I she handed us a card that read "A donation has been made in your honor this Christmas to St. Jude's Children's Hospital" Even the card was made with recycled paper!
Those were the kind of gifts that keep giving and I was so proud to call her my sister in that moment.

Still am. :-)

"And whatever I do, may it always bring glory to you"


Trendy Turqouise Purse: $36.95
Multicolor matches everything scarf: $23.95
Precious Purple Boggin: $17.95

Getting all three for $19: PRICELESS!

"And whatever I do, may it always bring glory to you"

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Process

My camera is bogged down still with Christmas photos...especially since my family gave me my new Prime lens on Christmas poor Canon...I pretty sure I heard it sigh when I last put it down. My house is still a wreck from having family stay here...and my laundry pile runneth over. So much for uploading and editing right now...that will have to wait...besides who can think about washing bedsheets and unloading the dishwasher when your new Wii Fit Plus keeps calling your name every time you walk by?!?!

So you are left with my "mindless ramblings"

Yesterday I headed out to church the same way I typically do on Sunday myself...coffeeless...and running about 15 minutes behind schedule for worship practice. As I hopped in my husbands car fully prepared to throw it in reverse and floor it praying there are no, up at 6am out walking the doggie by 7, neighbors in my path I quickly realized there was a problem with my plan.

The entire car looked like this...

All six windows in fact.

Doing what any other normal supremely impatient person, that needed to be on her way fast, would do...I cranked the heat...put in on defrost...and hit the rear defrost as well....then I proceeded to push the wiper fluid button and turn the wipers on hoping to clear out a spot big enough to see through. BIG MISTAKE!

All that accomplished was creating a whole 'nother sheet of ice across the whole windshield. I didn't give up there though...I had the grand idea that if I rolled my windows down, I would be able to use my side mirrors to back out of the driveway...and my back windows to determine whether or not I would be driving into oncoming traffic. The plan was brilliant. Not.

Only when I managed to back out, did it hit me that now I was in the middle of my road...and could not see through my windshield. My need to "go" and "hurry" caused me to overlook my biggest obstacle....the fact that I still could not see what was ahead of me.

I managed to pull myself over to the curb, turn on my hazard lights, and wait....until there was a small clearing in the ice big enough to peek through at the very bottom of my windshield of course.

As I made my way on to church it occurred to me what I had just windows were covered in that must go through a process in order to that must melt in order for me to see the path in front of me clearly. Yet I took it upon myself to try to manipulate and rush that process in order to have things my way...I was not content...or even remotely ok with waiting...I was so determined in fact that my desire to "move"....and make a way for myself....clouded my thinking until I had placed myself in harms way.

The Lord began to speak to my heart on that ride to church yesterday ....about Being Still... Being patient...and Trusting in His process.

In my spirit I felt Him asking me....

"How many times do you do this Talysa?...blindly jump ahead of me and my plans for you...try to find a window when a door won't open...try to fix a problem on your own and create a whole other set of problems for yourself just because you are too impatient to wait for Me and trust that I will make a yourself on a path I did not chart for you...possibly even putting yourself in harms way...all the while finding yourself just like you were in this car earlier...helpless, blind, and unaware of what lies before you...for I alone know the plans I have made for you...where I want you and when I intend for you to get there...I alone can see past the process you are so quickly trying to avoid or manipulate...I alone know what I intend for you to learn about My ways...about others...about yourself...while you go through the must learn to be patient...wait on the process...and know who I am."

What a work in progress I am...sometimes I wonder how He would ever tolerate me for much longer than a day...even as I shared this with my husband tonight he interrupted me to ask "Why didn't you just wait?" seems so simple...yet I struggle so much with trusting and believing that God is who He says He is...with truly accepting and trusting in the words of Jeremiah 29:11...not just memorizing them and hanging them on the walls of my house...I'm just so thankful that He does not leave me unfinished. That He is there...always the process...refining...and defrosting.

"And whatever I do, may it always bring glory to you"

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Upside Down

This video was played during our Christmas Eve services tonight...amazing...I had to share. Enjoy ya'll! And Merry Christmas!

Upside Down from Pace Hartfield on Vimeo.

"And whatever I do, may it always bring glory to you"

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from our house to yours! May your homes be filled with peace, family, wassail, laughter, and the joy of the birth of our Savior and His great love for us....and may all the goodies we eat produce no fat. :-)

Adam, Talysa, Tyler, Maggie, and Aidan

"And whatever I do, may it always bring glory to you"

Here We Come A-Wassailing

Here's a little recipe for you to enjoy this Christmas....this was given to me by an elderly lady (we miss you Miss Jane) in our old is well over 100 years old...and it is fabulous. I make this every year...for parties and such...but it sits simmering on our stove all day long on Christmas Day with a ladle ready for scooping up a mugful. Before being given the recipe, I was clueless about Wassail...and faintly remember mention of the word in "Here We Come A-Wassailing". So we did like any Homeschool family does...we looked it up!

"The term "Wassailing" refers to singing carols door to door. "Here We Come A-Wassailing" is an Old English Wassail song to wish "good health"...which is what the word "wassail" means. According to Readers Digest, the Christmas spirit often made the rich a little more generous than usual and a band of beggars and orphans used to dance their way through the snowy streets of England, offering to sing good cheer and to tell of good fortune if the householder would give them a drink from his Wassail bowl or a penny or a pork pie...or let them stand for a few minutes beside the warmth of his hearth. The Wassail bowl itself was a hearty combination of hot ale or beer and spices and mead. Just alcoholic enough to warm the tingling fingers and toes of the singers."

There is no alcohol in our rendition of Wassail so if you make this and end up dancing on the tables, or telling your neighbor that you hate her cat, you only have yourself to blame....or maybe the Rum Balls. I hope you get a chance to whip this up for your family this year...and if not you can at least add it to your recipe box for next year. Enjoy!

1 Gallon Apple Cider
1 Large (46oz. I believe) can of Pineapple Juice
1/2 tsp. Nutmeg
2 Cinnamon Sticks
1 lemon zest
Mix, simmer (hotter the better to me) and serve!
"Love and Joy Come to You
And to You Your Wassail Too
And God Bless You and Send You a Happy New Year
And God Send You a Happy New Year!"

"And whatever I do, may it always bring glory to you"

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

It's beginning to feel....

...a lot like Christmas
The past two weeks seem a blur but boy have they been fun. We ended our Tutorial semester with an Elementary Christmas showstopper in which Maggie had two parts...her music class opened the show with "Jingle Bells" on the recorder...and her Drama class presented "Christmas Hang-ups"...a story about a group of misfit ornaments. Maggie was a hula girl ornament (see her hook?) that the family had picked up in Hawaii. In the end they all learned the true meaning of Christmas and it was a very sweet performance. And I feel blessed to be part of a group that would end the show with a call to accept His gift He so freely extends to us all.

The whole Elementary Drama Class

Maggie with Mrs Beth and Mrs Amy...the Drama it just me or does my daughter not look like more like a young lady in these pics than a little girl? don't answer that...I'm not taking this well.
Mag's and Mrs. Natalie (her favorite teacher) her Music teacher this semester.
Sunday night our Small Group leader/Kids Sunday School Teacher/Friend/Fellow Homeschooling/Pediatrician and his wife hosted a Christmas Party at their home.
Let's just get this out of the is gorgeous...straight of of Pottery Barn...and I am full of envy. There. Also, let me just clarify..."NO HUMANS WERE PERMANENTLY BLINDED BY THE HIDEOUS FLASH IN THESE PICTURES!!! No more. I will just have to lug around the Rebel from now on and force myself to learn to adjust to low lighting and even if I had to use the flash it would have to work better than this. OK, we may move on now.
We had a fabulous time of fellowship, dessert (gained 5 lbs I just know it), and fun. Seriously I almost needed to rub Ben Gay on my jaws when I got home from laughing so hard. My heart feels so full of love and joy when I think of the friends and encouragers God has placed in our lives.
Clay and Amanda....I could not express here how much I love these two...and I can't even put my finger on why or how it happened...but somehow they have become so special to Adam and I. Ever have people in your life like that? Where you just kinda sense it's God's design and for a far greater purpose that you met?
They are young...funny (that's an understatement)...very much in love...parents to two adorable kiddos...and another on the way...and living as Missionaries to college students in Mexico. I heart them.
Mag's manages to sniff out a baby within a mile radius. I see a small fortune in babysitting in her future.
A perfect way to start off Christmas week!
"And whatever I do, may it always bring glory to you"

Saturday, December 19, 2009


...and my desperate...shameless...attempt to win it....McKMama has outdone herself this time folks...go check out her and her, mom to 4 under 5, mad photography skills, mom to a miracle, obsessed with orange, self out.
"And whatever I do, may it always bring glory to you"

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Strap Happy

I just about had my socks blessed off today by my dear friend remember her right? The poor guinea pigs sweet family that I shot a couple of weeks ago...with the ridiculously photogenic kiddos? Yep, that's her.

Today when she stopped by to get her Photo Cd, she also came bearing gifts...completely unnecessary but greatly appreciated and gladly accepted (and quickly devoured) gifts.

I almost did a little jig in my foyer when I pulled this snappy little camera strap out of the bag! I mean look at's chocolate brown...perfect...and a couple of different shades of blue...double perfect. I have wanted one and even mentioned it to my husband but he would have been clueless if it couldn't be purchased at Wolf thank you, thank you Jessie! Tonight I am strap happy and it truly is perfect. Did I say that already?

And for every ounce of perfect the strap was....these Mexican Wedding Cookies were every bit as delish! And she even shared the recipe with me so I could share it here with you all...she's sorta nice that way. They only slightly derailed my attempts to eat better today...I only had I stopped counting at five two. Let me know if you make these...but don't say you weren't warned folks...they are a bit like eating a baby Angel.

Mexican Wedding Cookies

2 Cups All Purpose Flour

1 Cup Pecans, Finely Chopped

1/4 Tsp. Ground Cinnamon

1/4 Tsp. Salt

1 Cup Butter or Margarine, softened

1/4 Cup Granulated Sugar

1/4 Cup Powdered Sugar

2 Tsp. Vanilla

Additional Powdered Sugar (approximately 3/4 cup)

Preheat oven to 350 Degrees. In a small *batter bowl combine flour, pecans, Cinnamon, and salt. Mix well and set aside.

In another batter bowl beat butter and sugars on Medium until creamy. Add vanilla; beat well. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture; beat on low speed just until dry ingredients are incorporated.

Use small *scoop, drop level scoops of dough onto *baking stone. Bake 12-14 minutes (depending on the size of your scoop) or until cookies are set, not brown. Place on cooling racks. Cool 5 minutes. While cookies are still warm, roll in additional powdered sugar. Cool completely.

Small scoops yield about 4 dozen.

*This is a Pampered Chef recipe so if you do not have the batter bowls, or scoops, or baking stone, feel free to use whatever you have instead. I'm sure they will be just as delish!

"And whatever I do, may it always bring glory to you"

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Like Buttah!

I was already dreading baking for a solid 10 of the 12 days of Christmas like I always know, for the Sunday school teachers, the neighbors, the garbage man, the Recycling man woman....and the list goes on and on and on. And this year I even have a whole Worship team that I have to bribe bake for. So you can imagine how pleased I was to stumble upon this
suh-weeet little idea over at Darby's! Cinnamon Butter!!!!!
start by washing your jars...
Double the recipe and mix butter, cinnamon, honey, and powdered sugar
pour into cute little washed Mason jars...found mine at our local grocery store, Kroger... Wal-Mart says they are seasonal.
...tie with ribbon....add tags...
and VOILA!
By clicking Darby's link above you will get the exact recipe. Which I followed to a tee. Mostly because the neurotic little voice in my head told me to...but also because I'm clueless about these things. It was so good I insisted asked my hubby to run to Publix to buy us some biscuits to go with it. Biscuits...Cinnamon butter...need I say more? Well, I might need to say Weight Watchers very soon.
I think that when I make my next batch this week I will either add another stick of butter...or decrease the honey. I'm not a huge honey fan...I like it but in small doses. Plus adding a whole 'nother stick of butter...that just might send my thighs over the edge.

This is a very easy and simple baking...minimal cleaning up.

Like Buttah!

"And whatever I do, may it always bring glory to you"

Christmas Tour of Homes '09

Merry Christmas...and welcome to our home! Let me just say I love whoever came up with this idea...I have always thought myself strange for getting a thrill out of staring into houses at night just to see what color they painted their living room...or what kind of lighting they use....maybe this makes me weird...that's the opinion of my husband at least...but obviously someone else felt the need to cure their nosiness with a virtual peek into the lives of others...and I say thank you!
Let me just preface this tour with the fact that there is nothing fancy here...just an accumulation of the past 13 years as a family. I did things REALLY simple this year...I was inspired to see the beautiful in what was already laying around my fight the perfectionist within and NOT clear out Targets Christmas section...what can I say? The Nester has that sort of affect on me. The withdrawals were brutal....but it was SO worth it! Even though the pace of life has picked it always does this time of year...I sense a whole new peace of mind that comes with trusting my own instincts...doing what makes me happy and not what my neurotic brain tell me "has" to be done..or trying to mimic what everyone else seems to be doing. Slowing the pace (and the spending) down. I hope you have been inspired this year as well to invest in the things of this world that matter most and to relax and lay aside those that do not. Grab a cup of coffee and enjoy a stroll through our world.
This is the view from our neighbors house across the street...I'm pretty sure they now think I'm extremely vain...or just extremely strange.
For years I have overlooked the greenery and landscape all around me and opted to make bows for my mailbox....this year I used tree clippings from our tree and these beautiful berries (have no idea what they are) that are on a bush in our yard. Then I tied a gold ornament onto the greenery.
There was a time when we lived in the North that we actually used this sled...and it graces my porch.
Come on in!
We keep our Nativity in the need to send out an "Amber Alert" for baby Jesus...the tradition in our house is that baby Jesus does not get put out until Christmas morning...Overlook the dust bunny please.
This is our Advent Calendar...I purchased this on clearance last year at Target and we use it to put a family activity in for each day...maybe reading a book...maybe watching "It's a Wonderful Life"...maybe driving to see Christmas lights. This has been so much fun and the kids LOVE this!
The tree. Oh the tree....I have a love hate relationship with this tree...Maybe it has something to do with the fact that it refused to stay standing and had to be decorated three times...caused Maggie's baby ornament to be broken...and had to be bungeed to my french doors...maybe. Anyhoo, this tree has no theme...or then again maybe it does...depends on how you look at is covered in ornaments either made by my children or purchased somewhere we have visited while traveling. And I love it this way.
And since my husband discovered that we had a faulty tree stand and that we would not in fact need to bungee cord our trees to doors in the future, I have now talked myself out of buying a nice big pre-lit on clearance after Christmas.
I have 3 Angels atop the tree...each made by my kids at different times in their lives...the one on the very top my now 13 year old made in Kindergarten.
This is our Jesse Tree. This was our first year doing this and it has been wonderful and very engaging as a family...but I'm pretty sure that if we were living in Old Testament days we'd be the black sheep of our clan since we are now a few days behind....again! :-/
I'm still a little obsessed with Word.

I have an antique dresser that I keep in this room and I've always hidden the detachable mirror behind it...I was inspired to whip it out as is and place it on my mantle...and I simply adore it there...feels very colonial to me. So I decided to decorate the mantle in the same manner. I clipped the same mystery berries that I placed on my mailbox and tree clippings and other greenery from my yard and a few pine cones...I meant to spray paint those and some nuts gold but never got around to it...maybe next year.

Peace. Joy.

This is the antique dresser I mentioned above...I call this the "Table of Christmas Past"...a picture for every Christmas...I may need a bigger table soon.

I pray you have enjoyed your coffee and spending time here with us...I can't wait to peek in your windows too! It's legal this way. :-)
May you have a very Merry and Blessed Christmas!

"And whatever I do, may it always bring glory to you"

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