Comfort in my Mac n Cheese

I love comfort food.  Love! Love! Love!  I think high on my list are chipped creamed beef on toast - when I am sick, Hot Chocolate - when I need love in a cup, and soup - when I want to eat some and feel like I ate nothing.  But the queen of the list has to be this mac n cheese recipe!  Maybe it is a more sophisticated throw back to my college days of the Kraft kind, or maybe it is the colors mixed together --- who knows.  All I know is that it is delish, I can eat the whole pan, and I pay for it the next week.

2 cups shredded Monterrey jack cheese
2 cups sharp Cheddar cheese
1/4 cup parmasean cheese
1 qt. heavy cream
1 16 oz package of rigatoni noodles
pepper to taste
salt to taste

cook the noodles, mix the cheeses together reserving 1/4 of mixture.  Mix 3/4 of mixture with heavy cream, pepper and salt.  Poor onto noodles mix well.  Poor into lightly sprayed dish.  Spread remaining cheese on top.  Cover, cook 35 minutes on 350.  Take off cover, cook until brown and bubbly.  (cooking times may vary)


Its' a good day!

Today was a great day!  An answer to many prayers.  Ideas are flowing like a fountain and the notebook is tired of being written in.  I am so excited and can't wait to share!  I hope it is well received and enjoyed by all!  I am so excited I'm going to bust!  


Well, fry my okra

Okra.  Never heard of it until I moved to the south.  Did you know that you can pickle it, put it in casserole, and fry it?  When fried, okra suddenly becomes like candy.   What a delightful little veggie that most over look.

                                                                     Source: huggingthecoast.com via Heather on Pinterest

But okra has been hit by the American recession just like gas at the pump.  Did you know that a pound of okra cost more than a pound of chicken today?  What?  All I wanted was the famous side dish to accompany our country fried steak.  I just didn't know that I was going to have to dip into my kids collegee fund to buy it. Seriously, to feed six people a serving of fried okra a piece I needed 2 lbs of okra which in turn cost me a 10th of our grocery budget!

                                                                         Source: timvidra.blogspot.com via Heather on Pinterest

While the price was hard to stomach (haha), the end result was worth the financial sacrifice.  
Now if I can only fit in a run tomorrow to equal out the bucket of okra that I ate.  


Don't write the weekends away

I usually don't post on the weekends.  It is hard to find the time to gather my thoughts and get on paper.  Maybe if I got one of those cool dictation devices that dr's carry around?  Then some nice lady somehwere could transcribe my thoughts for the world.  Like today for instance, while cooking dinner I decided that one day I should give a stab at stand up comedy.  I even had jokes in my head.  Wait, that might be scary. 

 So for now I will scratch the dictation device and leave my readers happy 5 days a week:).

But while I am here - it is time for a shop update!


I'm broke

It's been a month of pumpkin spice lattes.  I LOVE them!  But if the fall continues this glorious way, I will spend my children's college savings on coffee.  I can not do that.  Pumpkin spice latte intervention must take place!

So, I began the search for superb recipes and I thought I would share.

                                                                  Source: cooklikeachampionblog.com via Alicia on Pinterest

                                                                           Source: momadvice.com via Becky on Pinterest

                                             Source: skinnytaste.com via Stephanie on Pinterest

                                Or maybe this one...... it is the sugar free version (not too into that)

Creative Writing

Fourth grade is full of creative writing assignments, just about one everyday.  The artist loves being able to express herself and to see her dreams on paper.  When she writes, there are no limitations to where the story will go.  Last week she wrote a story about Trick or Treating while flying!  

                                                          Source: ticklishfromadistance.blogspot.com via Joanna on Pinterest

I loved creative writing in school too.  I thought when I became an adult I would have the opportunity to live out those dreams.  It took me a summer to realize that is a LIE!  How dare we raise children to believe that they can be anybody, that they can see dreams come true, and that they will do anything they want?  Play is not an option.  This is real life and it is not going to be a glittery as you dreamed it would be.

Or is it?
                                                                     Source: joyfolieblog.com via Alysia on Pinterest

While as an adult, the story may have a few different factors thrown in but can we still write it to be as wonderful as we dreamed?  Do we spend more time drowning in doubt than flying from house to house to Trick or Treat?  Are we our own ball and chain?  Do we ever stop to realize that there are dreams far greater than we could have written ourselves, but that there is a co-author next to us with pen in hand?  If everything in life was perfect and fell into place just as we wrote it out to be -- wouldn't that be a really boring book?


Parents should not read blogs

Really, my mom read my blog the other day and called all worried.  Remember this post -- The Girl Won't Eat?  Well, seems that mom is concerned that my poor little neglected (HA!) fourth child will wither away and not a soul will notice.  I loved my mom's concern but the suggestion that I make her her own meals made me pass out!  Making one their own meal would get the big three spinning on what I could make them.  Then, before I know it, I am making 6 meals a day a sitting - no way!  Mutiny on this ship will not be tolerated!

                                                                               Source: doecdoe.blogspot.com via Brooke on Pinterest

My parents just don't understand the purpose of this blog.  
The purpose....

One, to tell a story 
(apparently I have some interesting things to say). 

Two, to entertain myself (easily accomplished). 

Three, to make you laugh
 (again apparently I live a very humorous life). 

Four, to spread joy 
(is that a Coke commercial waiting to happen or what?).

Fifth, and finally, to make money.  
Yup, you listen to my stories = I make money.  
Look up Proverbs 31 -- that is where I am coming from.  

So, trying to explain to a nervous grandmother that I was really more worried about my constant excuses to make brownies over my daughter's lack of appetite just did not set in.  My mother will come around eventually.  The Beatles, diaries, crepe dresses = her generation.  Cell phones, blogs, reality TV = my generation.  I have to give her a break.  

But in the meantime, continue to read and go to sleep knowing that she has started eating again :)


I do all My Own Stunts

Seriously, I do.  I am a one woman show.  Can't you see my cape?  In between parenting four children, feeding the cat, taking care of a hubby, laundry, homework, and life I create my own patterns. I sew my own items.  All those adorable little wallets, headbands, flower pins, tote bags, and ipad cases that you can find in the 
Sew Four shop I created with tons of time and
 (I wish I could seriously say) patience.  

Ruffle Headbands

Ipad Cases

Large Wallet with 
Two Pockets

Ruffle Scarves

Sure, I download patterns to make Princess P's cute little boutique clothes. But most of the time I do not even follow the those directions.  Most of my educators friends, who I love, would probably diagnose me with some type of disorder.  I think this would be one circumstance that I am happy with a disorder.  

Due West HOliday Fair

I am getting so excited!  
The Due West United Methodist Holiday Fair is in 6 weeks!
I can not wait! 
I have fantastic ideas for my space!
Super fun!
If you are near Marietta, I would love to see each of you there!

Due West Holiday Fair
Saturday, November 5th
10 -2:30 p.m.

Tons of Vendors, raffles, and silent auction.  

Come get your ruffle on!  


The girl won't eat

I have never had huge children.  Well, except for the architect - he is really tall.  But seriously, all of my children are made solely of bones.  I feed them.  They just probably don't get the junk that builds the kids that America sees today.  Who knows?

But Princess P - she will not eat.  Its' not that she is a picky eater - she just won't do it.  For about two weeks now I swear the children goes on about 100 calories a day.  I have tried ketchup, yogurt dip, cutting food into the shape of kitties, playing airplane, and even considered standing on my head.  I have offered her everything under the sun and still - no.  

In the end, this situation produces is a super cranky almost two year who drives her mother to eat brownies from the pan.  Princess P won't eat so I guess I will just pick up the slack for her.  
If this continues there is sure to be a shortage of brownies in the world.  


Time to share a deep secret

Oh, what is it?  You know you want to see my skeletons in the closet.  Yup, you are dying to know.  Well, this one is actually, well..... I will let you decide.

I LOVE gangster movies.  You know the good mob kind when they shoot people.  I must admit that I often turn my head during the blood part but the suspense, the tangled web, the leaders intrigue me.  I am talking about Scarface, Goodfellas, Carlito's Way, Casino, The Godfather.  While I sew sweet little boutique beauties I watch Italian and Latino men fight it out on the streets of Vegas and New York.

                                                                                Source: cafepress.com via Heather on Pinterest

Now for the funny part.  You had no idea I was doing it.  I actually quote these movies in my everyday life.  You have no idea and it leaves me with a delightful internal giggle.  Like whenever someone new (or old) meets Princess P I am often found saying, "say hello to my little friend."  Didn't see that one - did ya?  Or when the occasional, OK daily, annoyance of a person crosses my path I often find myself remembering out loud "to keep my friends close and my enemies closer."  Take a look at my friends list and determine this one for yourself.  Oh, and my favorite politically incorrect quote for when people complain something isn't fair -- "Capitalism is when someone else is getting screwed" (that was the PG version).  I love capitalism but seriously that is so true.

                                                                         Source: browneyedbaker.com via Shannon on Pinterest

So the next time I see you and say that you might want to consider "buying some new cement shoes" -- apologize quickly, you might be in trouble.  :)


Pinterest is creepy.

Pinterest is creepy.............................................................

                                                                                     Source: google.com via E. on Pinterest

Don't get me wrong, I could spend a whole month in front of the laptop drooling over the pictorial goodies I find.  Forget the fact that it links you to valuable websites chalked full of tutorials and ideas.  It is really as close to heaven on earth that a person like me can get too.

But knowing someone is following me is just not right.  Can they catch me in my bad habits?  Did they hear what I just said?  It is about as scary as the Burger King Guy showing up.  

Getting emails about it is just wrong too.  Seriously, do you really want to know what burlap wreath I plan on making for the Christmas season?  Or that I love pictures of peanut butter and jelly?  Does it make a difference in the world if I "pin" a cute purse to my board?  I am waiting for the IRS to realize what a valuable tool Pinterest is and take it over to track me.

                                                                                    Source: etsy.com via Mary on Pinterest

You know what else kind of erks me too?  How do you say "Pinterest"?  It is Pin-ter-est?  Or could it be Pint-E-rest? Maybe in the south it is Piiiiiinntteerrrrrr -est?  Because you know in the south everything has extra syllables.  On the same token, there could be someone up north referring to it as the "I don't care how the hell you say it website just leave me the hell alone?  Hmmmmm.  It took me about two years to learn how to say Etsy and I am not even sure that I do that right.

                                                                                Source: honeyandcheese.com via Charlotte on Pinterest

All I know, is for as much as it creeps me out I will continue to use it!  In the meantime though, I am going straight to GoDaddy to buy the www.pinterestrehab.com web domain - there will be money in that shortly, I am sure!


The Park Run

It was beautiful out this morning!  I loaded the princess up in the van and headed to one of the best parks with a rocking asphalt trail.  It is the best park to run when pushing an extra 30 lbs. while trying not to pass out.  

                                                                           Source: chrisvonada.com via Heather on Pinterest

Princess P and I started with a five minute walk, no biggie.  Then came the run part.  I was determined to finish 4 today (although P only lasts 3 at the most).  A half mile in there was a slight incline in the trail - I thought, "Heck no!", I will walk the hills.  I wanted to make this an easy workout.  

But then I saw him, a man walking backwards.  He was holding a cane -- not using it and walking backwards.  What?  Really?  But as I got closer I saw another man walking in front of him.  They were partners.  The man walking forward had obviously suffered some type of stroke.  His right hand was unusable, he drug his right leg along.  His smile was infectious.  There was a spirit of determination that surrounded him.  His friend was unwavering in his support.  It was beautiful.  

                                                                                Source: mth2011.tumblr.com via Heather on Pinterest

I picked myself up and start off running again.  Hills or not, I would keep going!  I had to stop feeling sorry for myself.  But about ten short minutes later - I was there, in another lull when suddenly behind me I heard a lady laughing like she had never laughed before.  Oh good God, was she laughing at me?  Nope.  She walked right past me giving her friend a high five and screamed, "I just walked 5 miles!".  She wore a t-shirt that said - you think I'm fat?  You should have seen me 100 lbs ago!  She was determined and her friend was unwavering in her support.  

                                                                           Source: lifeisbeachykeen.com via Heather on Pinterest

I picked myself up to start running again with my silent friends alongside, I finished the 4 miles - not stopping to feel sorry for myself in my inadequacies but encouraged by the silent partners of determination God had sent that day.  
                                                                    Source: sportygirljewelry.com via Heather on Pinterest


Blank Chaos

                                                                         Source: ahnini.tumblr.com via Heather on Pinterest

That's been me lately. Nothing to say, finding it hard to sew, can't even keep a mile straight. So discouraging.

                                                                Source: femmenamala.blogspot.com via Heather on Pinterest

Keep Calm Carry On 

I am doing that just fine. In fact, not much seems to rattle me lately. I keep busy (I have four kiddos). The is a certain quality about me that is awkward. I just work well under pressure. Not that I am asking for pressure but I just seem to produce what I love during those times. Wait, what am I saying? There is no way I need a fire right now - literally. But maybe, just maybe, a spark. Not too many sparks otherwise my days will look like this....

                                                                            Source: thaneeya.com via Heather on Pinterest

So Lord, I know you are listening please just answer. Ignite in me a passion driven with direction. Let me be intentional about all I do or think. Let it be fruitful in your name. AMEN.

                                                                           Source: shortquotes.org via Heather on Pinterest


Will you remember?

My dad talked about it like it happened yesterday.  He was down the block at the deli helping the owner shelf loaves of bread, white bread to be exact.  He remembers that the TV was on in the store backroom.  The owner never had the TV on.  All the sudden dad saw a rush of men go to the backroom; he tried to stop them since they weren't allowed in there.  He remembers standing amongst those giants as the suddenly turned white, their faces fell, as the heard the news that President Kennedy had been shot.  

Interesting story but there is no way that I would have, or want, a story like this to tell my children or grandchildren.  Nope, those kind of things just don't happen.  You see, attacks are just something we read about.  It happens in countries too far to reach.  That is just the way it is.  And to tell you the truth, in my little bubble, I am perfectly OK with that.  

But somewhere, someone, decided that I would remember just where I was, what I was doing, and what I would do after it happened.  Can't say I want to thank them for that memory.  

I was home and not working.  At the time I spent my days sewing purses to sell for our adoption.  We knew there was a baby somewhere far away waiting for us.  I spend days giddy with anticipation for her arrival.  

The phone rang.  I can't even remember who it was. Are you OK?  is all I heard.  OK, yup -- sitting in my living room and eating breakfast - why wouldn't I be OK?  I turned on the TV and saw Peter Jennings and the second plane hit the towers.  Nope, not happening in my country I thought - this must be some TV prank.  Then they crumbled.  I heard the number 50,000 shouted across the screen.  Still not happening in my country.  I refuse to believe it!  I watched, I listened, I shouted - why!  

Then word came that the Pentagon had been hit.  One of my longest friends, Alison, was newly engaged to Dave, a Jack Bauer or sorts -- who worked in the pentagon.  No one could get in touch with him.  No one knew if he was OK.  

The phone rang all day.  Someone told me they were sorry that a plane hit "my city".  You see I am from Long Island.  But really the planes hit in three seperate places while striking the entire country at the same time.  People called to say - I love you.  Really, does it take a plane hitting a skyscraper for that to happen?  I waited to hear from my friend in MD.  And I did.  All she had was an email - "I'm OK." it read.  

I didn't loose anyone on that day.  I live in Georgia -- there were no planes flying overhead, no curfews, no people protesting places of business.  My life went on as normal.  Or did it?  Someone stole a bit of my innocence that day.  They tarnished my faith in people.  That is something never fully repaired but slowly returned over time.  

I will remember where I was that day.  I will tell my children and their children that story - over and over again.  Because while they might not understand now, I do not want them to forget.  


The perfect gift - adoption

**** This past weekend, we celebrated a decade with the artist.   I wrote this 2 years ago for her  8th birthday.  I revised it to celebrate her 10th birthday.*******

Today is not only a celebration of Nina's life but the life of a woman who unselfishly 10 years ago today walked into a hospital alone, gave birth to a perfectly health baby girl, and left a few hours later still alone. I will probably never meet the amazing woman who took a very scary journey to a country not her home just to make sure that my daughter would have the life she deserved. I am not sure what circumstances led to her arrival in Moscow but know that the nine months before this day she made a series of important choices that I will forever be grateful to her for. She is an amazing woman! 

When my daughter was born 10  years ago, a pregnancy termination in a hospital in Russia cost 25 US dollars. Home termination is free and common. In Russia is not uncommon for a woman to drink, do drugs, or smoke while pregnant. Our birth mother had no support system and was young but my daughter was born healthy. 

So, in the Cloudt house September 4th is a day of celebration; a day to celebrate our daughter's life, a day to celebrate the life of a very special woman, and a day to celebrate God's promise that he knows us before we are born. Let's remember in the future to support those who might be making one of the hardest decisions of their lives - to UNSELFISHLY give life to another human being no matter the personal cost. Thank you God for our birth mothers - please bless them and protect them!


Well, Ruffle my Crepe Paper a tutorial

The artist was turning 10 - a big birthday!  We couldn't just settle for the crepe paper right from the package.  Oh no, we had to go big, well ruffly big!  So here you go birthday girl, only your mama would take the time to ruffle crepe paper.  

Crepe paper streamers 
ruffle foot for sewing machine 
(supplemental instructional available)

1. unwrap the crepe paper

2. position the crepe paper under the presser foot

3. set tension on high (9), set the stitch length on the longest
4. turn needle into crepe paper
5.  Sew - it is very important not to go too fast on this one.  The crepe paper is very delicate and could rip easily.

6. Stitch 

Idea - you could double up your paper, put on color on top and one the bottom and stitch at the same time.

For those of you without a sewing machine or ruffle foot, take a needle and thread make long stitches. Pull the stitches as you go to ruffle the paper.  

I think its' super cute.  


Labor Day

Growing up in the Northeast Labor Day weekend basically marked the end of summer.  The beaches changed, shops closed on Fire Island, Ice Cream was just a memory and school started.  

Source: lolitas.se via Kim on Pinterest

Since about the beginning of May I have waited for Labor Day with the same anticipation a 6 year old waits for Christmas.  I have dreamed about it.  I have looked the calender over and over counting the days.  Oh Labor day, you took so long to get here but thankfully you did.  

You see, this has been a summer -- the summer of circumstances I call it.  This summer, Michael was forced to make a decision between doing what is right or what pays more.  Thus, we took a huge pay cut. In the process, we saw relationships we value change.  We lost family.  Our son had his beloved pet die in his arms.  Our first baby (a sweet Husky named Dakota) died after a long battle with puppy cancer.  People we thought were friends walked away.  We spent most of the summer grieving.  

                                                                            Source: flickr.com via Bonnie on Pinterest

But time on the asphalt is an opportunity to clean out the noise and to commune with God.  Was it really just a summer of loss or was it a summer of growth?  Is my husband a happier person in his new position - yes!  Did the forced change create in him a man that will lead a company with values and intergrity - yes! While we will miss our family and "friends" who decided to check out, their decisions have allowed us to recognize real relationships - blood or not.  The summer we had the opportunity to witness the almight power of prayer!  We realized that we were given the gift of spending a really good 14 years with a great dog.  Our son learned what authentic love is.  

                                                Source: flickr.com via C on Pinterest

So Labor day, I am glad you are here.  Summer 2011, I am glad you over.  As much as I like to forget you- I am blessed to be able to remember .