Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving Redux

Thanksgiving was a success.

Thanks, in no small part, to my husband and mother-in-law.

Everyone arrived safely even though it was snowing.

Andy had the ENTIRE day off and the ski slope opened the next day.

I only got a little frazzled because my kitchen is too small and I need more counter space. In reality my kitchen is large compared to other apartment kitchens, but I need a lot of space.

I went totally overboard and made way too much food, but that was alright because that meant people could take a bunch home and we still had plenty of leftovers.

The floor didn't fall in from all the extra weight (like Andy predicted it would).

The menu consisted of: Appetizers - a cheese ball and crackers, a cheese and meat tray, pumpkin dip with ginger snaps. Dinner- Maple brined turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans, stuffing, corn, roasted acorn squash, stewed apples, homemade dinner rolls. Dessert - Apple pie, pumpkin pie, pecan pie, cupcakes, brownies, sugar cookies.

Some photos of the day:

Before most people arrived and
before I got flustered
Checkin' the bird
Betty Crocker
The spread
(The cupcakes were kept hidden
until the last possible moment)
Brunswick pauses for a moment to say,
"Mom! We've been invaded!!!"
The whole group

The rest of the weekend was peaceful and mostly uneventful. We don't shop on Black Friday because 1) Andy hates crowds and 2) years of working in retail have given me a complex about the day and I avoid it at all costs.

We did go out on Saturday night to get out of the house for a bit. The town and shopping centers were actually calm by that point so we didn't feel like we needed a nap afterward. While we were gone Milton had a temper tantrum. Details to come.

I haven't been hungry since Thursday afternoon, but for some reason I can't stop eating. My stomach is about to stage a revolt!

How was your holiday?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Pilgrims want to know...

White meat or dark?


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The most wonderful time of the year!

It's Thanksgiving week and I'm in full on prep mode.

Posting will be sparse this week because for the first time Andy and I are hosting for Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday.

I'm totally in my element right now. Fall is my favorite season and Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. So of course I don't do quick and easy. I generally don't do quick and easy for most celebrations, but for Thanksgiving I tend to go over the top.

Today I'm cleaning and making a few things that can be refrigerated for a couple of days. Tomorrow is full steam ahead on prep work so Thursday I can slow down and enjoy myself and our company.

I'll post our menu and some pictures after the big event, but don't expect much before then.

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday with your families and friends.

Update: I saw New Moon twice this past weekend and I'm not ashamed to admit it. I'm totally one of those girls.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Why I love Karma

Photogenic Friday is canceled this week. Partly because I don't really have a good picture for it and also because the following story was too good not to share.

Andy has an irrational fear of the litter boxes the bunnies use. Gutting a deer? No problem. Bunny poop? Mortal fear.

I mean, they are kind of yucky, but they are a necessary evil. When he empties them (like twice a year) he pulls his shirt over his nose, turns his head in the opposite direction and makes gagging noises. Sometimes I make him do it just so I can laugh at him and then tell him how much new born babies like to poop.

What? I'm just preparing him for the future.

So anyway, today Andy took a half day off of work to go do manly things in the woods. He came home to eat first and get some things he needed. He was being really sassy. We spent a good amount of time bantering with one another back and forth. We like to give each other a hard time, but today the sass was heavy.

He was kind of getting on my nerves.

All his things were gathered and then he remembered that he'd forgotten his camouflage hat. He took it off the hook on the door and put it on the table.

Now, there are many things that I do that Andy doesn't like. I'm not saying I'm perfect, but we aren't talking about me. We're talking about him, and I hate it when he puts his hats on the table. They never get washed and he wears them until they either a) fall apart or b) have a visible layer of slime on the inside.

I expressed my distaste about the hat on the table.

I'm sure he had some kind of earth shattering sassy response for me, but he was stopped short. He took off the hat that he was wearing in order to shake it at me, but had forgotten that his sunglasses were on his hat. They flew off his hat, across the room and landed directly into the litter box.


I told him he got what he deserved and he told me I was going to wash his glasses.

Oh no I wasn't!

Really I was. I had no problem washing his glasses. I just wanted to see him squirm.

He said he couldn't wash them because they were "covered in fecal matter dust."

I'm still laughing and it's been an hour.

Finally I caved, but not before I told him it was a real shame he wouldn't be able to use his glasses again because they were nice and kind of expensive.

I let him take his death march over to the sink before I intervened.


Happy weekend!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

"I'm over vampires"

Andy has had enough.

I, on the other hand, have not. I've had a thing for vampires since the first time I saw The Lost Boys. Swoon.

Unless you've been living under a rock lately you've noticed the recent surge of vampire mania in television and movies.

Last night when a commercial came on for New Moon Andy looked over at me (squealing and clapping in anticipation) and told me he was done. No more. He refuses to be my enabler any longer.

I have to say he's been really tolerant. Because I'm not just into the Twilight saga. Any movie, show or book about vampires will usually hold my attention - at least long enough for me to determine if it's worth my time. Any time at all is too long for Andy.

So I'm trying to get my fix on the sly. I watch what I can online. Books are easier because Andy doesn't read them with me. He can pretend they are about something else.

But I need a date to go see the movie. Who's in? I'm willing to wait a bit to avoid as much of the tween frenzy as possible.

In the meantime I'll just get my jollies from watching The Vampire Diaries online. (I also have a weakness for teen television dramas. Shut Up! I'll grow up when everyone else does!)

What's your guilty pleasure?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The amazing flaming oven II

Last January I posted part one to this saga. If you read the original post you'll see that I promised to put up part two a couple days after the first part. So, here we are ten months later and a couple days have finally come to pass.

For several years the ski slope has hosted an event for local skiers called Monday Night Race League.

Businesses sponsor teams and each Monday for six weeks the teams go and race. It's all in good fun and everyone has a grand time hassling each other about who is getting better results week to week.

Andy's company participates in the league and so a lot of the employees race for them.

One Monday last season a couple of our friends were having a hard time finding someone to watch their kids that night and they were going to have to bring them to the mountain to watch the races. Both parents participate in race league and their regular babysitter had canceled at the last minute.

Since I don't ski, I don't participate in the race league and I don't go to cheer people on because you have to purchase a lift ticket to do so. $50 each week to watch people race down a hill is not in our budget. This leaves me alone on Mondays so I volunteered to come stay with the kids while their parents raced. It was company for me and they were guaranteed to have more fun at home than stuck in the ski lodge. Little did we know how much fun they'd have.

So that evening around six I went over to their house. This was the first time I had met either of the girls. Their dad had talked about them a lot and I'd seen them, but we hadn't spent time together. Their parents took the time to tell them how mean I was and how I would string them up by their toes if they did anything wrong. They took their parents threats so seriously that the youngest, B, who is 5, said, "You're not really mean are you?" shortly after her parents left.

Nine year old M has a take charge sort of personality and proceeded to fill me in on how their household worked. Then she decided that she wanted something to eat and had me make her a bowl of soup and some hot tea. Neither of which she ate. It had been snowing pretty heavily for a couple days and this was their second or third day home from school. They'd been snacking on and off all day because what else is there to do after you've been stuck inside for three days?

Their mom promised them that they could make cookies with me that night. They had a pack of premade break-away cookies in the fridge. I tried to coax B into eating something nutritious, but she was ready to bake the cookies. So I got out the pan and turned on the oven.

You should know that they had just finished remodeling their house. As in, hadn't even started paying the new mortgage yet. They had a whole new kitchen and living room with crazy tall ceilings. They installed two ovens in the kitchen. The top oven was a convection oven that also had a regular electric function.

The girls told me they had only used the top oven so far and I should use that one, so I did. While I understand the concept of a convection oven I don't have any experience using one and it would be a serious let down to burn the cookies so I just turned on the electric oven function. While the oven was preheating M and I rummaged around the kitchen for things to decorate the cookies with and B arranged the cookies on the pan. She ate one of the dough balls while I was watching and I'm pretty sure she sneaked another behind my back.

We were about ready to put the cookies in to bake when I hear "Oh my gosh!" from M. I looked up and her eyes and mouth were wide open while her finger was pointing behind me. I look back and there was smoke coming out of the oven. Curious.

It wasn't a lot of smoke. I thought maybe they'd just had a little grease spill that was burning off. So I opened the oven door to see what was amiss. The oven had a pan that completely covered the heating element. That was something I'd never seen before and I guess it's a new thing in ovens to help protect the bottom. The smoke was coming from underneath the pan but I couldn't get it to lift up so I could see. I'm still not terribly worried because all I see is smoke. I wanted to give it a minute to see if the smoking stopped before we did anything else. But wait! Did I just see a flame come up from underneath the pan? Uh oh! Definitely a flame.

Neither of the girls saw the flames, but they were both trying to see into the oven. Immediately I turned off the power and asked M if she knew where the baking soda was. She did and it took her a few minutes to find it. The flames were becoming more and more frequent. Not good. While M is looking for the baking soda B has pulled over a step stool so she can get a good look inside. She isn't upset, just curious, but it's all I can do to get her to back up so she doesn't burn herself on the open oven door.

M finds the baking soda and runs back into the kitchen (it was in the laundry room) to give it to me. They must shop at Sam's club because it was the biggest box of baking soda I have ever seen. As soon as she gets to me she sees a flame in the back of the oven. This is when I realize that M is not so good in a crisis situation. B is still fine which I think was because she was taking her cues from me. I wasn't panicked so neither was she. Her sister was a completely different story. M is in full on freak out mode. I told her it would be fine we'd just put some baking soda on the fire and it would go away. My reassurances didn't help much.

But at this point the small amount of smoke has multiplied and begun billowing out of the oven filling the kitchen and living area with the crazy tall ceilings.

Another problem. The protective, and immobile, pan along with the giant box of baking soda is making it difficult for me to get anything down to where the fire is. In an effort to try to calm M down and give her a task I told her to call here parents and see if they knew how to take the pan out of the oven. I didn't want to worry them, but clearly the fire wasn't spreading and I did need to put it out. So she called. Neither of them knew, but told me to call them back if I couldn't get the fire out.

A couple minutes later and I still can't get the baking soda to the oven. The smoke is multiplying, B is still on the step stool watching me, and M is having a complete atomic meltdown. I'm going to have to scrape her off the floor when this is all over.

Their dad calls us back and says, "Just pour some damn water down there!" I ask if he's sure because all my instincts cringe away from pouring water onto what could be an electrical fire. Not only do I not want to destroy their new house, I also don't want to die over a small oven fire. He promised that as long as the oven was off we were safe, but I still made him stay on the phone with me while I did the deed. Fire extinguished!

We hung up the phone, but the excitement wasn't over. M stopped panicking about the fire, but then realized that the house was full of smoke and proceeded to freak out about that. I told her to calm down and help me open the windows. I asked them if they had any rotary fans and they did. M got a tall fan out of one of the bedrooms and we put it in the kitchen to help pull some of the smoke out of the rest of the house.

M is gagging and choking while we open all the doors and windows. Did I mention it was snowing? And that it was about 10 degrees out?

About half way through our task it occurs to me that one of the girls might have asthma and this smoke is not good. Since B didn't seem bothered by the smoke and M was the one gagging I asked her if she had asthma. I can't begin to describe the different emotions that crossed her face in five seconds time. She was already upset about the fire and the smoke in her house and after I asked her that she self diagnosed herself and clearly thought she was going to die at any moment. She started scratching and grabbing at her throat and in her froggiest voice said, "Oh my gosh! I don't know! Do you think I have asthma? I think I do! I have asthma!"

This whole time, while M and I are opening windows, B has planted herself behind the rotary fan and is singing into it at the top of her lungs. Clearly she didn't have asthma. I didn't know the song at all, but they told me later it was something from High School Musical. Except B couldn't remember anything except the chorus so for about 10 minutes I'd heard the same three lines over and over again as sung from a five year old behind a rotary fan.

All this for some dang sugar cookies.

I turned around so M couldn't see me stifle a laugh and told her that she was going to be fine and just to help me finish opening the windows.

It didn't take long for the smoke to go out and M calmed herself right back down. B finally stopped singing and we all decided to give up on the cookies and eat oreo's instead.

The rest of the night passed without incident. When their parents got home they told me they hadn't used the electrical feature on the oven before that. So I guess I broke it in for them.

The next day their dad told me that after I left M said, "Dad! You lied to us! She wasn't mean at all! She was cool!"

Monday, November 16, 2009


Remember how much the bunnies love apples?

A while back sharing got to be too much for them so I took their apple and cut it in half. Peace was restored in bunny land!

The night I got home from the baby shower I took an apple out of the centerpiece and put it on the floor for them.

(I know what you're thinking. No wonder we had gnats if I'm just leaving fruit lying in the living room floor, right? But really, the gnats never noticed the fruit on the floor. They really didn't care for the bunnies or their stuff.)

Anyway, back to my story.

That was Saturday evening. I thought for sure the bunnies would attack the apple and it would be gone before bedtime. Once they saw it they nudged it around with their noses a little, but then walked away. Resisting temptation.

I thought they must be full and they would get to it the next day.

The lonely apple sat, uneaten, on the floor all day Sunday. They both nudged it a little more, but otherwise paid it no attention.

Monday rolled around and I was beginning to think there was something seriously wrong with it. It was a little bruised because it had fallen out of the basket and rolled around, but they'd never had a problem with bruises before. They usually attack apples with serious vim and vigor.

I decided on one last ditch effort to entice them with the apple. They had never said no to a treat before and I was begging to take their disdain personally.

So that afternoon I took the apple into the kitchen and cut it in half thinking that the stronger smell would convince them that this apple was good eats and not poisoned after all.

As soon as I walked back into the living room, before I even put the apple back on the floor, I had four beady little eyes staring up at me.

Once I put it down they each took a half and the apple was gone before dinner time.

The little punks had waited nearly 48 hours for me to cut the apple in half. They weren't sharing. No way! No how!

Back when they still shared.
Keeping guard.

Andy has always said that I spoil them, and now I know he's right. Just don't tell him that okay?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Photogenic Friday: Bug genocide

Did you know that the title box on blogger doesn't do spell check? I have to double check things in the text box or look it up to make sure I'm spelling my titles right. It's annoying.

Moving on.

This is what my kitchen looks like right now:

Want to know why? Of course you do!

Andy and I have recently been having a bug problem. Andy says they are fruit flies, but I call them gnats because we don't have any fruit out on our counters. Don't fruit flies have to eat fruit to live? These bugs just live off air. I'm not kidding.

We have gone through several cans of raid and reached a level of cleanliness in or home that I didn't think possible in a rental. Still, the bugs thrived. We've been more diligent about cleaning up after ourselves in two weeks than we have or entire marriage. It's probably the only good thing that has come out of this bug invasion. I'm hoping we formed a habit.

So anyway, like I said, these bugs eat air. I promise it wasn't the bunnies that kept them around. The bugs generally avoided the bunny cage and litter boxes. It wasn't because we're pet owners.

Something had to be done. We were about to lose our ever loving minds. Also, we're hosting Thanksgiving in our apartment in two weeks and we can't have our company being dive bombed by gnats while they are eating.

Seriously. Dive bombing gnats. They started that a couple days ago.

They had reproduced in our apartment so many times that this "new bug generation" wasn't afraid of us. They didn't even fly away if we tried to squash them. They just flew a couple inches over and landed next to our hand. It was getting scary.

So last night Andy bought these fogging bomb thingies. That brings me back to my kitchen. Remember my kitchen?

The entire contents of my kitchen is in either a trash bag or saran wrap to protect it from the bug killing juice. Can I just tell you how fun it was to do that? Who wants to come help me put the kitchen back together?


No one? Really?

I have my worries about our clothing and bedding. Andy says everything but what we eat off of is fine. I'm not so sure. I think I'll change the sheets tonight just to be sure. It's time to break out the flannel sheets anyway.

In case you're wondering, no we didn't leave the bunnies in the apartment. Andy celebrated the first annual "Bring Your Bunny to Work Day" today. Let's hope it's the only annual "Bring Your Bunny to Work Day" day.

They're fine and healthy as can be, though very happy to be home. Pissed off doesn't begin to describe their attitude towards sitting in their cage at Andy's office for most of the day.

Oh, one more question. If you won't help with the kitchen, how about coming to help clean up all the tiny little bug carcasses?

::more crickets::

You people have no sense of adventure.

Happy weekend!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Ornament centerpiece how-to

I've been making these ornaments for a few years now and I always get asked how to do it. The process is really simple once you get the hang of it, but it's easier to show someone than tell them.

So this time when I was putting them together for Julie's shower I photographed the steps.

Here it is:

First, cut out 20 circles. They all need to be the same size. You can use just paper or incorporate photographs into the ornaments like I did with these.

In the picture you can see the beginning of two different ornaments and the cutting system I used. I used two different sized circles for the ornaments I made this time, but I've made them much smaller than this. Keep in mind that the larger the circle the larger the ornament.

*Click the photos to see a larger image*

Next you need to fold the circles. I have cut out a guide to help myself fold them more quickly. I place the triangle (equilateral) in the center of each circle and simply fold around it. I use a paper creaser to help make the folds more defined.

After you've folded all your circles you're ready to start assembling your ornament. I like to lay it out to see how it might look when I'm done and to make sure I don't have any matching circles next to each other.

This step is simply to satisfy my obsessive need for order. If you want you can just start gluing. Whatever floats your boat.

You want to make the center of the ornament first. Line up ten circles in a line and glue the folded tabs together. I use craft glue that dries clear. Elmer's works fine too. Once they're all secure circle the line and glue the two ends together to form the center of your ornament. Like so:

You will have ten circles left. Choose five and glue the tabs in a circle to create the top of the ornament. Repeat this step with the remaining five circles to form the bottom. This is what the top and bottom should look like:

Now place the top piece on and position it the way you want it. Glue the tabs together all the way around. Repeat with the bottom piece.

Viola! You're ornament is finished. Set it aside to let the glue set up.

When all of your ornaments are assembled and the glue is dry it's time to string them.

This is how I do it, but if you want something simpler you can just punch a hole in one of the tabs and string a ribbon through that.

I do it this way because I'm obsessive and anal and I can't bring myself to punch a hole in any of the ornaments I just made.

Take a piece of wire and give it a loop on one end. I use a piece of floral wire folded in half and twisted so the ends don't get in the way.

Cut a length of ribbon that is long enough to thread through the ornament when it's folded in two. Thread the ribbon through the looped end of your wire.

Now, the ornament will have small holes where the points of the triangles meet. Stick the wire in one and then out the other side. Pull the ribbon through.

Tie the two ends of ribbon in a knot so it won't slide through the ornament.

Now the ornament is ready to be displayed and enjoyed!


For the whole centerpiece I just filled the bottom of the bucket with foam (floral foam is cheapest) and stuck the branches into the foam. You want to use branches that have been cut recently. At first I tried to save a branch and use ones that had already fallen off. That was a mistake. The dead branches were brittle and broke easily so I was left with a big stick in my centerpiece.

Once the branches were in place I covered the foam with fake moss and pilled on the apples. Use real apples; they give the weight that you need to counter balance the branches and they stay put better. Plus when you're done with the centerpiece you can eat them!

These ornaments are great for gifts! At then end of the shower I gave them to Frank and Julie.

They also are a good way to use up old greeting cards that you can't bring yourself to throw out. I used our wedding cards to make them the first time and they make a great sentimental addition to our Christmas tree.

Give them a try. They really aren't that hard!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Leaf vase how-to

I made this smaller centerpiece as an extra to use at the shower. It worked out perfectly because the chandelier over the food table was too low for the big centerpiece.

This is one of my favorite ways to decorate!

First you need two cylindrical vases

Clearly, the small one is much shorter so you need some way to prop it up so the tops of the two vases are almost level

I had some floral foam scraps lying around so I trimmed them to fit and then used a toothpick to hold the pieces together.

Place the smaller vase inside the larger one. Now it's time to fill it up.

I didn't get a picture of the filling process because I needed both my hands.

Basically just get some fake fall leaves in various colors/sized and fill in the crack between the two vases. I filled in about half way up before I put the smaller vase back in the larger one, then filled around it.

It takes a little time and effort to make the leaves look right, but I probably spent a total of 10 minutes on this project.

When you're done this is the result:

You'd never know there was a smaller vase inside!

Fill the bud vase with the flowers of your choice. I got these mums out of the clearance bucket at the local grocery store. Yes! They are real!

I have also done this with candy corn. Just pour the candy corn (or any small candy - m&m's would work great) into the bottom of the larger vase to hold up the smaller one. Then fill in as needed.

Like I said, this is one of my favorite fall decorations and the possibilities are endless for the holidays. I think I'll do it with candy hearts for Valentine's Day!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A few more shower photos...

Yesterday, just after I hit publish, Julie posted some photos that she took at the shower. Here you go!

A close up of the monogrammed cuppies
Mina diggin' her bouncer
Bonnie and I with the guests of honor
Me, my grandmother, my mom and Mina
Ma-maw and Nana with Mina
Julie asked my mom to be Mina's Nana
It pretty much made her day
Possibly the sweetest picture on the planet

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Baby Shower

The baby shower went off without a hitch.

Frank, Julie and Mina took home quite a haul at the end of it.

Seeing them again was so nice. I haven't seen Mina in person since she was born and she has changed so, so much. But not so much that she wasn't still small enough to cuddle.

They gave me a DVD season of The Office as a hostess gift and Andy and I have been working our way through it-watching all the special features as we go. Julie knows me so well!

Here are some photos of the details and the day.

The favors
"Caramel Apple" Popcorn balls
How-to found here
The centerpiece
We put it on the mantle because the chandelier
was too low over the table
The ornaments are made with photos
from Mina's birthday and
the banner says her name.
Monogrammed cupcakes
The food spread.
My co-hostess, Bonnie,
did all this food (except the cupcakes)
She was wonderful!
Mina with her PapaDaddy swaddles the best
Frank put the bouncer together after they opened it
so Mina would have a place to sit
This is the first photo I have with Mina
We didn't get one of us in the hospital
The best present!
Julie's mother passed away two years ago.
She was an amazing seamstress and she always made
quilts for new babies in their church.
Some of the ladies re-gifted their blankets so
Mina could have something from her Grammy.
There are some other photos floating around out there on other cameras. I get an F for not charging my camera battery and it died about halfway through. So I'll post a couple more when I get them.

While I was putting everything together I documented some of the craft how-to's on film (or memory card). I'll be posting those throughout the week. Stay tuned!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

I'm up to my eyeballs in craft projects...

Getting ready for someone's baby shower this weekend.

I'll be back Monday with pictures from the shower and how-to's of some of the things I'm making.

Happy weekend!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Not box cake

Last year on Andy's birthday he insisted that I make him a cake from a box. He said that was his favorite and it's what he wanted.

With much wailing and gnashing of teeth I complied. Not to be outdone by a cake from a box I fancied things up a bit.

Still, it goes against the baker inside of me to just whip something up out of a box. It causes me serious pain.

Don't get me wrong. I certainly see the advantage to box mixes, but they are so much better if you throw in a little something extra, just to make it your own.

This year I wasn't taking any chances. I found the recipe and told Andy what I was making him for his birthday cake. See the difference there? I didn't ask him, I told him. And I told him while he was busy at work, then I went out and bought all the ingredients before he could realize what just happened.

So here is the finished product. One of our friends called it "chocolate cake concentrate."

There is some serious chocolate going on in this thing, but it's really, really good and worth the effort.

I only ran into one problem and that was with the ingredients. The filling called for mascarpone cheese and it turns out that isn't exactly a high priority item around here. So I substituted cream cheese and the result was delicious.

I highly recommend serving it with a scoop of mint chocolate chip ice cream to help cut the richness. Also, start with a small piece. Trust me!

As far as I know the birthday boy was pleased. I just hope he knows that box cake is not likely to make another appearance in our kitchen.

Monday, November 2, 2009

I would like to thank the academy...

I've been trying to think of something good to post today because this post is a mile marker for this blog. This is my 300th post! Whoa!

What on earth could be good enough for number 300?

Then when I logged into blogger this morning my question was answered for me by Jamee.

She dropped me a line to let me know that she'd nominated me for an award. My first ever on this blog! Awesome!

Background: This award is given to bloggers that are "Back in the Saddle" of life. This may be someone who is undergoing medical treatments, restarting his/her life, resurfacing after a tragedy, or someone who is just trying to sport a new attitude. Recipients have an attitude of a fighter, strive to be a winner of the battle, and show determination.

Rules: Post the award's graphic, background, and rules on your blog. Explain how you are "Back in the Saddle" again, and then pass the award on to at least four other bloggers who are "Back in the Saddle" just like you. Make sure you let them know that they have been given this award, and ask them to pass it on.

Jamee wrote some really sweet things about me on her blog, so head on over there to read her comments. I'm truly honored that she thought of me for this because some days I feel like I've fallen off the saddle again. Staying positive through the aftermath of my car crash is often a real challenge. It's so nice to have someone acknowledge my effort. Thank you Jamee!

My nominees are:

Megan The picture of a wonderful wife and mother. Megan shares her personal struggles and triumphs on her blog, making those who read it want to strive to be better.

Susan She and her husband overcame their struggles with infertility to welcome their sweet little boy last March. Though life isn't perfect her blog is a constant reminder that every day offers something to celebrate.

Amber Where do I begin. This family is such a pillar of strength and Amber has made such an effort to reach out to me these past six months even while dealing with her own personal tragedy. She is handling life one day at a time and reminds us all to hold our loved ones dear.

Casey Between her struggles with infertility, helping her husband through law school and battling her inner demons, Casey is still a rock star! She is honest about how hard life is and that is what makes her so endearing.

It's amazing how an online community can mean so much to a person. People you don't know personally put their lives on display for you every day. I often find that it's a lifeline for me when I've exhausted every other outlet.