Friday, December 11, 2009

The Christmas Card Tragedy of '09

Hello. My name is Morgan, and I am gaudy. I love anything that sparkles. I like things that shimmer and shine and I absolutely, without a doubt, 110% adore glitter. If they made glittery caskets, I would ask to be buried in one. I know…gaudy. I truly believe that Elvis and I were woven of the same thread. When I was little, my mother was a hairdresser. Maybe the appropriate term is beautician. Anyway, she did hair and nails and sometimes, we would visit her at work. My mom has told me, on more than one occasion, she had a customer that was just as gaudy as I am. She had long red finger nails and wore lots of make-up and enough jewelry for five people. I would sit next to her and was in complete awe of her. I would say to my mother “Mom isn’t she beautiful”. In other words, I like a little flash. With that being said, my Christmas tree is bathed in ornaments and baubles of glitter and gold. Sparkly and dangly. Shimmery and shiny. I search high and low for ornaments covered in glitter, and sequins. I love little glittery embellishments, etc. They just make my heart happy. I could sit and stare at a sparkly tree forever. Remember my tree from last year?

Well, it’s a baby tree. We have moved and traversed all over town and 3 different “homes” in the last 3 years and I was not at all prepared to put up a big tree. So, my mom ran and got a 4.5” tree from Hobby Lobby. It was cute, pre-lit and assembled in less than an hour. Per-fect! So, I ran all over town to get some new (smaller) ornaments to go on it and rushed home to decorate it and all was well with life. This year, unfortunately, I am not having the same luck. The tree is up but it resembles something closer to Charlie Brown’s Christmas than Elvis’. It makes me so sad! The ornaments that I bought especially for that tree have disappeared. I have no idea where they are. I have searched high and low and back again. I can’t find them anywhere and I refuse to go out and buy new ones. I can find all of the ornaments that go to the big tree, but I don’t feel comfortable putting them on this smaller tree because they really are larger than should go on this tree and they are all nice, expensive ornaments that my mother used on her trees and I don’t want to mess those up. So, we have a tree up with lights and a pretty red, glittery tree skirt with about 10 ornaments on it. It makes me upset, every time I look at it. To the Christmas card dilemma… I wanted to take Christmas pictures this year. I haven’t in two years and I really, really wanted to this year. I even bought Darren a red and green plaid Ralph Lauren shirt at Ross for $10 and I found a red shirt for $9 so I just knew our Christmas card mojo was all cranked up. Then, we could never find time to make it to JC Penney. We’ve had professional pictures done twice this year, so I was kind of yearning for the fake fire next to the leaning Christmas tree that makes all Christmas card pictures classic. So, although I was disappointed with our near miss – I came up with plan B. We would take them at home, next to a real fire and a leaning Christmas tree. I could make a little green bandana for Coco and we would be ready to rock ‘n roll. And this is where the Charlie Brown Christmas tree comes into play and thats just not the picture perfect Christmas tree, now is it? So, unhappily – I moved on to plan C. Which is to buy beautiful, glittery Christmas cards like I have done the last two years. So, off I went on a new mission. To Ross, and to Hobby Lobby and to Wal-Mart and to Marshall’s and to Tuesday Mornings and to Big Lots and guess what? Half of those places didn’t have a single Christmas card with glitter. A few of them had some that I didn’t like. Oh, the disappointment. So, I went back to Tuesday Mornings and bought 80 “cute” Christmas cards for $19. At least they were cheap. So, with all the enthusiasm I can muster – I am working on my “cute” Christmas cards and trying hard not to cry. So, if you get a glittery Christmas card in April with two fat kids and a dog sweating in red and green – go with it. It took a lot of work to pull it off!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas...

Friday was so much fun! It was cold and windy and IT SNOWED right here in Houston, TX! It really felt like Christmas.

It was really hard to concentrate on work! So, we spent most of our time at the window watching the flurries!

Then, we ventured outside to get some pictures in the flurries!
Not long after this, it started coming down harder and so we decided we better head home since all of Houston would be a mad house of crazy drivers on the road!

I was stopped at a light, and looked over and this is what McDonald's looked like. Isn't it pretty?

Less than a mile past the McDonald's, stopped at another light - this is what everything looked like outside my window! Everything was covered in white!
I've never actually seen snow (other than this and a few flurries over the years) so this was really special. I passed a Christmas tree stand on my way home, and all of the trees were flocked. It was magical!
We spent 90% of the weekend inside, wrapped up in blankets, next to the Christmas tree and a roaring fire, eating soup. After all, we are used to wearing short sleeves and flip flops in December so this bit of cold was quite a change for us.
Friday night, I made Baked Potato Soup and Saturday I made Beef Stew. Both were delicious! I put the stew in my crockpot about 10am Saturday morning and we ate dinner about 7, so it had plenty of time for the flavors to blend and the meat to get really tender. You could cut it with a spoon! It made so much that my crock pot was full so we ate it again on Sunday! I just make it the way that my mom always did (except she just made it on the stove and let it cook all day).
Beef Stew
  • Beef Stew Meat (I use 2 pounds)
  • 4 or 5 Potatoes, chopped
  • 5 Carrots, chopped
  • 4 stalks of Celery, chopped
  • ½ an Onion, chopped
  • 2 cans of stewed tomatoes
  • 3 cups of Beef broth
  • garlic powder, salt and pepper

Turn your crockpot on and start warming it up. While its warming, clean your vegetables, wash and peel your potatoes and then chop everything up. Just a rough chop - its going to cook so long that if you dice everything, its just going to turn to mush. I season the meat with salt, pepper and garlic powder and then put it in the bottom of the crock pot. Then, I pour the beef broth over the top, pour in the tomatoes and then add all of the vegetables and potatoes. Season again and mix all together. I cook on low for 10 hours and just check on it every few hours. When the meat is cooked, you can check the broth and see if you need to add any more seasoning. About 30 minutes before its done, I make up some cornbread, which more times than not, consists of Jiffy Cornbread mix. It turns out wonderfully if you make it in a cast iron skillet, but the kids might like it if you make it in muffin pans.

All in all, its an easy and delicous meal for a cold night!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Baby It's Cold Outside!

Well, it is officially snowing in Houston, TX. Now, if it would just stick - it might actually feel like Christmas. We have been preparing for our "Winter Wonderland" but having fires, eating lots of soup, snuggling on the couch and then snuggling in bed with sweaters and lots of blankets. Its hard to snuggle by yourself, so I recruited this cutie to snuggle with me.

Isn't she so cute? Her dad bought her a new sweater, for the cold weather.

You can tell that she was less than thrilled to ve having her picture made that early in the morning and she REALLY didn't want to get out of bed! She is a snuggle bug! Hope you all stay safe and warm today!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Post Thanksgiving

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. We did! I had another camera/cord/uploader situation. Ha! Like I have said before, its the store of my life! Anyhow, we had a great time - lots of good food and drink, friends, family, games and fun! We are already looking forward to Christmas (kind of). In a "we love Christmas but not the rush to buy lots of presents no one really uses we wish we could just drink cocoa and snuggle and watch Christmas movies" kind of way! I don't have anything too exciting to post about, but I did want to show you a Fruiturkey I made on Thanksgiving for my nephew, Matthew. For the record, I don't think he was nearly as impressed as I was.

So, I totally bought strawberries to use too and forgot to use them. I'm pretty sure they are rotting in my refrigerator as I type this. I got flack for not using a pumpkin for his body - it being "fall" and all. I was too cheap to buy the red bell pepper I needed to make that little hangy thing off his beak but in my defense - red bell pepper is $2 EACH and seriously? I'm just not going that route. I mean, afterall, my mom made a pretty good hangy thing by cutting a red plastic solo cup that we ALREADY HAD. Resourcefulness - it's what I'm most thankful for! Because these two things TOTALLY go together, I decided to cut my hair. All of it. Off. Ok, I might have exxagerated just a bit, but my husband doesn't think so. We had a slight communication problem. For three hours. Apparently, my hair means a lot - to HIM. He was slightly upset that I chopped it all of, without mentioning it to him. And I use the word slightly as a gross understatement. Then, after I chopped it all off - I decided to change the color, because why not rock the boat after he is already upset. It's kind of how I roll. And not at all because I'm an instigator. I'm from the school where hair on my head is MINE and as long as it grows back - its gravy! So, it is now, chin length and "Dark Burgundy Brown". You read right folks - burgundy. And I love it, for now.

Ok, so as you can tell - I am really horrible at pictures. But you get the gist. Well, that just about sums up our exciting Thanksgiving. Or all of it that I want to write today because it's cold and Thursday and you know, stuff. Hope all is well with everyone!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Turkey Day from The Fountain Family!
May you remember all the ways that God has blessed us and may we be thankful for them today and always. God Bless & Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Mystery Host Pampered Chef Party!

In case you haven't been paying attention... we only have 30 days until Christmas! Still have Christmas shopping to do? No worries - I am here for you! Why don't you take a look at my online catalog and tell me what you'd like to order and I can have it delivered to your door!

Be a part of my Mystery Host Catalog Party!

I am taking orders from now until Saturday (11/27) morning at 10am. Once I get all of the orders in my system, I will put the names of everyone that ordered into a hat and draw a name that morning. I will call or e-mail you to let you know that you have won.

You'll earn a host special, free and discounted products, and free shipping and a 10% discount on all Pampered Chef products you order for the next year...just for being a valued customer! You won't even have to leave your home! What a great way to shop for Christmas and earn more Christmas presents for yourself or someone else!

Tell your friends, family and co-workers about this great opportunity. If they order (and say that you referred them), their name will get entered into the drawing and you will receive another opportunity to win! Want to order online? Enter "Morgan" "Fountain" as the host name and add your order to this show. When I select the winner, I will change the host name from my name to the winner's!

Want another opportunity to be the winner? Blog about this party - you'll get an extra entry for anyone that orders from me and found me from your blog!
One more chance to win? How about 3? Refer someone to this party and if they place an order AND book a party for January or February - I'll put your name in the drawing 3 extra times!
You can't beat that!
Happy Shopping!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Homemade Strawberry Jam

A couple of months back, Pioneer Woman did a couple of posts on canning. Specifically, jam. Strawberry jam to be exact. I have been wanting to try my hand at canning for awhile now, so after reading her post - I decided to try it out. I finally made the jam this weekend. Now, all of you know I am not a photographer and I really should leave the picture taking to Darren, but I got all excited to tell y'all how easy it was to make this jam, I took pictures to show you. Ok, here is the recipe:
Homemade Strawberry Jam
  • 5 cups strawberries, hulled and mashed
  • 7 cups sugar
  • 4 tablespoons (fresh) lemon juice
  • 1 package powdered fruit pectin

First, you want to wash and hull (remove the green, leafy part) the strawberries. Or talk your husband into doing it and gripe at him to "hurry up already" while you watch him and call it "bonding". Place the hulled strawberries in a bowl or on a baking pan and mash them up with a potato masher. You want small strawberry pieces, but you want to them pretty fine. Measure out 5 cups, and put them into a pot. Add 4 tablespoons of juice from a large lemon. Turn on the heat to your pot and bring strawberry/lemon juice mixture to a boil.

While you do that, put your jars in a big pot of water and put it on to simmer/low boil. Its great if you have a canning pot and rack, but I don't and it worked just fine - you just don't want your jars clanking around all willy nilly. Lay them down if you have to. You want them to get heated so that the hot jam doesn't bust them, but you don't want them to bust or crack while you are getting the jam ready.

On another burner, put the lids (not the screw part) in a small pot and get them to simmering as well.

Then add the 7 cups of sugar to the strawberry mixture (measure it out before hand so that you can add it all at once). Mix together to incorporate. Leave the heat on high and bring the mixture to a strong rolling boil. The kind of boil that doesn't calm down when you stir it with a spoon.

Add half a pat (tablespoon) of butter, to help reduce the "foam" that will start to form on the top of the strawberry mixture.

Then, just mix it in with your spoon.

Then, mix it in with your spoon and let it get to boiling again!

This foam will form on the stop of the mixture. Just use your spoon to get as much of it off, as possible. I recommend that you save that discarded foam, for later.

Then, shake the excess water off your jars, and with a wide mouth funnel, start pouring in the jam, one cup at a time (it makes it easier and less messy that way, trust me). Ok, I know that you are staring at that jam splatter on my counter thinking "trust her, its not as messy that way? there is the messy proof, right there". But, I assure you, you would be picking out the one clean spot in a bright red, strawberry, sticky mess of a counter if I hadn't done it that way.

Continue until you have all of the jars full (leave about a fourth of an inch from the top). Then, run a butter knife around the edge of the jars to get all of the air bubbles out.
Put the lids on and seal them (do not tighten the screw lids). Then, stick them back in the boiling water for 10 more minutes. Then, turn the heat off the water and leave them for 5 more minutes.

Remove them from the water and let sit out on the counter (un-touched) for 24 hours. After 24 hours, you can tighten the screw band if you need to and then you are good to go.
Then, I like to get some cute fabric and cut it into a square and place over the top of the jar and then tie it with a cute raffia bow. It's cute, it's simple, it's homemade and it's delicious and everyone that you give it to will love you!
I plan on giving a jar out with a cute little Thanksgiving card, to all of my guests at Thanksgiving. And remember that discarded foam or that sticky pot you cooked the strawberries in? They are just sitting there, waiting for you to enjoy them! It's not as "pretty" as the jam you just made, but its just as delicious!

Yes, yes that is a finger mark where I swiped some jam and "tested" it, right out of the pan.
It will definitely make you talk your husband into going out and getting a loaf of bread at 9 at night so that you can have a nice piece of toast and strawberry jam "gunk" before you go to bed.
Not that I did anything like that, I'm just saying...

Friday, November 20, 2009

Show Us Your Life - Pets

Kelly at Kelly's Korner is hosting "Show Us Your Life - Pets" today and of course...I couldn't resist an opportunity to post (more) pictures of my baby girl Coco.

December 6, 2008
That was the day that I picked Coco up from the breeder. We haven't had her quite a year, but oh how she has made herself a part of our family! Pretty much, our world revolves around her. She is our fur kid and our precious baby girl! I know, I know - I'm sure it will change when we have "real" children, but for now - we enjoy spoiling her rotten.

She is a genius, plain and simple. She is very smart and is easily trainable. We have been very good about training her on certain things and unfortunately, were lazy in other areas.

She was completely 100% potty trained in 4 weeks, she rings a bell to tell us that she needs to go outside, and she has been completely crate trained since the first month she was home with us. She sits and lays down and she walks on a leash, well - she prances on a leash. She loves every single person, animal or child that she comes in contact with. She is great to take the the store, run errands or to play dates. It doesn't take her long to make "friends".

She has energy when you do and is lazy when you are. She loves being outside when its nice and inside when its rainy and cold. She snuggles, loves naps and steals kisses anytime she can! She does struggle with seperation anxiety, but is getting better with age.

She wants to be right in the mix of things and is very nosy. She has an attitude and a personality that is matched by no other person or 4 legged creature I have ever met. She has completely stolen our hearts and taken over our home and I absolutely, completely adore her and wouldn't have it any other way. She started out as a Christmas gift from Darren and has turned into the best gift our little family could have asked for.

We love you Coco!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Happy Anniversary!

I think the best way to say this, is to recall the words to the song we played during our first dance...

If you know all about passionate kisses,

And long walks in the dull day sunset,

If you've ever been held up so high on a pedestal,

That there's no more line between what's real,

And what your dreams are made of.

Then you already know my love,

You've already filled my soul,
You know what I'm thinking of,

Cause you already know my love.

Love's been known to be a game of chance, But I'd like to think of this as more than that,

And if you know all about passionate kisses,

And long walks in the dull day sunset,

If you've ever been held up so high on a pedestal,

That there's no more line between what's real

And what your dreams are made of.
Then you already know my love,

You've already filled my soul,

You know what I'm thinking of,

Cause you already know my love.

I can't say there's a hundred percent chance

That this will turn into a storybook romance,

Hell, we might not even make it through the first dance

But I bet the odds are pretty damn good,

That if you dreamed of what it's like to be loved right

And held tight, then I'm telling you, you already know my love. Happy Anniversary Sweetheart! You have made me happier than I ever could have imagined. I can't wait to spend many more wonderful years with you!