Monday, January 31, 2011

To Do: Subway Art

I've actually had this project done since Christmas break, but just was able to give my bff, Sophie, her gift this past weekend. (And she is a blog reader, I had to wait to post this accomplishment). I also can take no credit for this idea. Two of my sisters have followed my addiction and bought their own cricut cutter. Sharolyn had made a similar subway art sign for Christmas and after seeing it in her house, I knew it was something I had to make for Sophie (who actually the first to introduce ME to the all of this is her fault!)
Sophie is just a wee bit more mushy than I. Ok, more like a lot! Last year I made her a photo book telling the story of our year together. Both of our families had just separated, as they moved from SC to Alabama, and we followed just weeks later to Arkansas. The photo book brought her to tears. So how would I ever top that? I didn't, but hopefully now she'll know that even though we are 402 miles apart, she is still my best friend! And these words are exactly why.
Directions: All words were cut out with the cricut. Friend was cut out using patterned paper and shadow. Words were then just modge podged onto plate.

Darn Squirrel!

So much for my hopes of beautiful paperwhites coming up soon...

To Do: Make a horseshoe

Arkansans picture this when they think of horseshoes:
Illinoisans picture this when they think of horseshoes:

The other night I had a craving for a horseshoe so I made my version--which even though it has the same heart attack effects-- it does not have nearly the same taste. But needless to say, it still hit the spot!
A horseshoe is basically a piece of Texas toast that is toasted, topped with a hamburger patty, french fries, then cheese. And because that just wasn't enough, we add a little bacon too. Technically, our smaller version (1 toast, 1 patty) is considered a ponyshoe. Other versions of the horseshoe include ham, chicken strips, corned beef, walleye, grilled chicken--you name it!
The horseshoe was invented in Springfield, Illinois. (Yep, even wikipedia says so, so it must be true). Darcy's Pint has the absolute best! Here is what their's looks like (thank you google for having images of everything!). Their secret recipe homemade cheese sauce has a beer/worchestire taste to it that doesn't do my canned cheese justice. That cheese also has painful effects, but it's worth it I swear.
Sure there is things I miss like Darcy's horseshoe, but things I don't miss like the snowstorm of 2011!!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

To Do: Clean Car

Yesterday, me and just a few other people had a great idea--Since the sun was shining and the thermometer read 60, it seemed like the perfect day to give the car a bath. The recent snowstorm (ha--flurries!) that shut down schools, sent us home from work early, and likely wiped out the milk shelves at Dollar General also meant that the roads were covered with sand, and maybe a little salt. Not sure, but my car sure was a mess. Anyway, this reminded me of a great story from one of my best buds (and former co-worker) from South Carolina, Stacey.

Stacey was born and raised in the small town outside of Simpsonville. The farthest she has traveled (besides a mission trip) was Myrtle Beach. She just had no reason to leave South Carolina (that I agree with). Lucky for Stacey, her desk was sandwiched between two darn blonde Yankees. Here is photo of me with Stacey and Molly (1 of 9 followers! Go Molly!)

Don't get me wrong, Stacey is extremely smart! She kicked our butt at work--and I'm proud to say that at the end of December finally was able to adopt a baby girl--Hooray! But geography--not Stacey's forte'. She once talked about Illinois being "out west." But my ultimate favorite story went like this:

Molly: Bob has to get a new truck.

Sara: Why?

Molly: Because the salt from Michigan has really ruined it.

Stacey: Oh, the salt in the air from the Great Lakes?

Molly & Sara: (laughing like crazy)

And that's just another example of why I miss my days spent with Stacey and Molly! I haven't seen them since this summer when we traveled to Tennessee for Molly's gorgeous outdoor wedding (hince the sweat!). The other blonde in the photo was my boss, Christy.

Miss you guys!!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

To Do: Make Cherry Yum Yum

Note: Wrote this last Sunday, but computer was not allowing me to download pictures. I was hoping to upload them later, but they ended up having to be deleted.

Holiday weekends for us usually mean either a roadtrip or a house project. This weekend, it was the lucky draw of house project :) It's been on our to-do list ever since our first home inspection, but once it got colder out, we new it was time to blow more insulation in the attic. Fun it was! Let's just say my plans for the rest of the night include eating a late dinner (on purpose), taking an excedrin, watching Desperate Housewives, then some zzzzz's.

Anyway, I decided to make one of our favorite meals tonight. Steak, twice baked potatoes, green beans, and for dessert...cherry yum yum (as it's known in the Ervin household). I finally secured the recipe from my mother-in-law so I thought I would share.
Cherry Yum Yum

Part 1:
1. In small bowl, mix together:
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter, melted (see tip below)
  • 3 cups graham cracker crumbs
2. Pour half of mixture into pan. Reserve other half.
Part 2:
1. Following directions on package, whip together until peaks form:
  • 2 envelopes Dream Whip
  • 1 cup cold milk
2. Add to this mixture:
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 package cream cheese, softened
3. Whip till blended. Pour half of Part 2 over Part 1 in pan. Reserve other half.
4. Pour 2 cans of cherry pie filling over whip topping. Layer remaining whip topping, then remaining crumbs.
5. Chill till cold.
I only make 1/2 of the recipe for just us. Matt probably wouldn't mind if I made the whole thing and he had to eat on it all week!
Tip: I recently learned a tip about melting butter. Did you know that to prevent the butter from spattering all over the microwave when you are melting it, you just cut it up! My friend, Sophie's, mother-in-law taught me that those Alabama girls!

Friday, January 14, 2011

To Do: Volunteer

Volunteer? Yep, you heard me! Crazy I know, but someone actually wanted my help. And I'm so glad they did--I love it!

Starting in maybe November, I decided to contact the local homeless shelter, which I had previously toured for work, to see if they needed volunteers. They replied within hours and asked me to come right away. I really had no idea what to expect, and really had no idea how much I would enjoy every minute.

Our House is one of the most fascinating programs I've heard of. The CEO grew up with a rich, lawyer father but is clearly compassionate and determined. Instead of just giving the homeless a handout, the homeless must work to live there. The shelter maintains a savings account for them with their paychecks and teaches them how to transition to getting on their own. One advantage the residents have is that the shelter offers a cheap child care (approx $80 per week). Many who work in the child care do or have lived there themselves. When I go to volunteer, I work in the child care--rocking or feeding babies, reading, playing dress up, etc. Did I tell you I love it? I go every other Friday for about 3 hours. I truly wish I could go more often. The shelter also provides a dinner (all donated), has family housing, and job training, and a summer camp (where we went and did Girl Scouts last summer with the girls).

Today I was a little sad to find out that my two babies that I loved on in past months had moved out. This is Na'Kita from their facebook page.

She was the best snuggler. I of course wonder where she went. And I hope she is warm. Most of all, I hope she is happy and has a good life.

This is a photo of another buddy, Sam.
He's so darn little, it's hard not to just love this little guy. Sometimes he can be a handful, but I would take him home in a heartbeat! And usually Sam is dressed to kill--he was hot this day and took off his preppy sweater. Today he was even sporting boat shoes.

Today I sat with a small toddler who was just there for her 2nd day. She wanted to be held and the teacher was glad to pass her off for a bit. I didn't mind! And the teacher kept telling me thanks and that she really needed me today. Right there is why I wanted to volunteer! She may have needed me, but I need them too. They just put life in perspective and make you grateful for what you got.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

To Do: Make Cheesy Corn Chowder

There is something about the cold and snow that makes me start craving my favorite soup. And since I have plenty of extra time today thanks to another snow day, I decided it was time to make up half a batch. I would have made it yesterday but didn't realize I was low on milk and trust me...milk is not easy to come by in Arkansas when snow is forecasted! Plus, I needed an excuse to use my new stock pot. I sort of got it for Christmas. It was on my wish list--does that count? I used my Wal-Mart gift card from work to buy this Paula Deen pot. I doubt I ever make that much soup, but it sure looks pretty.
Anyway, I'm sharing with you today one of my favorite recipes. I got it from the Taste of Home magazine in 2008. If you like corn, potatoes, and cheese, you will love this too. Don't let the word chowder scare you off.
I am sharing the original recipe. I generally only make 1/2 since Matt refuses to try this.
  • 6 bacon strips, chopped
  • 3/4 cup chopped sweet onion
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 2 1/2 cups cubed peeled potatoes (I used 1 can of diced potatoes and added after carrots cooked)
  • 2 cups sliced fresh carrots
  • 2 teaspoons chicken bouillon granules
  • 3 cans (11oz) gold and white corn, drained
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 7 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 5 cups milk
  • 3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup Velveeta
In dutch oven or stockpot, cook bacon and onion over medium heat until onion is tender (I also cook till bacon is crisp). Add the water, potatoes, carrots and bouillon; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until potatoes and carrots are tender. Stir in corn and pepper. In a large bowl, whisk flour and milk until smooth; add to soup. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened (I think it takes more like 10 min). Reduce heat. Add the cheeses; cook and stir until cheeses are melted. Yield: 15 servings (3-3/4 quarts)

Monday, January 10, 2011


Watching school closing scroll across the bottom of the t.v. reminded me of a blog I've intended to write up for months. There's nothing like seeing Flippin schools and Dumas that makes you laugh about some of the town names in the great state of Arkansas!

It's not that Illinois doesn't have crazy names. I mean I lived just miles away from Boody! Arkansas reminds me of home when I see: Urbana, Salem, Clinton, Farmington, Jacksonville, Hillsboro, Cerrogordo, Batavia, Belleville, Danville, Mt. Zion, Elgin, El Paso, Morris, Monticello and even Albion (who knew there was more than one Albion in this world...though Illinois' is surely one-of-a-kind!). And to really remind me of home, there is Decatur and Meridian (the name of my high school)!

If you are looking for a baby name or want to get your picture by a sign with your name, then you may want to visit all the towns named after people: Alexander (the town where my address says I live), Carson, Emerson, Marshall, Jordan, Curtis, Byron, Lacey, Marianna, Cecil, Dixie, Noland, Harriet, Quinn, Leslie, Rudy, Rupert, Allison, Ben, Bruno, Rhea, Jericho, Douglas, Ida, Alicia, Burdette, Aubrey, DeAnn, Nathan, Jerome, Ivan, Delaney, Hector, Norman, Jean, Joy, Immanuel, Elizabeth, Kirby, Leonard, Leslie, Chester, Marie, Marcus, Joan, Elaine, Jennette, Wesley, Taylor, Morgan, Lynn, Shannon, and Jericho. Whew--That's a lot of people! Some people are extra special and got their name within the town, such as Billstown (sort of selfish!) and Carroll's Corner (I'm intrigued to know if there is more than 1 corner in this town). Wait, I forgot to mention that Barney originated here. Maybe not the show, but 800 people call it home. There also is town for the famous cat, Garfield and yet another, Dora.

There are towns named after animals: Bear, Beaver, Deer, and Fox.

I've got so many places around the world to see, but in the meantime, maybe I need to just travel to: Jerusalem, Palestine, London, Paris, Havana, Scotland, Vail, Tokyo, Little Italy, Sweden, or Moscow, Arkansas.

Which town would you choose?

  • Pansy or Daisy or Tulip?
  • Heart or Romance?
  • Petty View or Pitts?
  • Combs or Nail?
  • Calamine or Healing Springs?
  • Almond or Tomato?
  • Snow or Hot Springs?
  • Manila or Blue Mountain?
  • Calmer or Delight?
  • Marked Tree or Big Fork?
  • Hooker or Cash?
  • Ozone or Process City?
  • Bragg City or Okay?
  • Camp or Casa?
  • Center or Center Point?
  • Guy or Reader?
  • Bragg City or Ratio?
  • Brightstar or Bright Star?
  • Strong or Success?
  • Samples or Ratio?
  • Wiseman or Quitman?
  • Butterfield or Possum Grape?
  • Whistleville or Plumerville?
  • Dogpatch or Stamp? (for all you Bingo fans!)
  • Gin City or Busch?
  • Barber or Bald Knob?

Some people think Arkansans can't count, but at some point they got to Figure Five, Fifty-Six, and Number Nine. Seriously?

But finally, I leave you with my awards for the top 10 towns in Arkansas:

10. Beverage Town--I'm betting it's not in a dry county.

9. Waldo--We looked all over the dang world and all along Waldo was hiding in Arkansas!

8. Greasy Corner--Who wouldn't be dying to visit this place.

7. Hicks Station--I bet they get laughs when they tell people their address out loud.

6. Gassville--I would think you would just be paranoid to fart here!

5. Best--Hi. My name is Sara and I live in the Best town in Arkansas. Ha!

4. Sweet Home--Can't believe they didn't write the song to say "Sweet Home, Arkansas!"

3. Weiner--Weiner is just one of those words that still makes one giggle even past age 8.

2. Blue Ball--Again, speechless!

1. And my favorite town....Nimrod. --No matter how smart you really are, no one will believe you!

Gotta love Arkansas!!