• Family,  Good Things,  Stitching

    Dog-gone Giveaway

    Yesterday I got a completely fur-brained idea that I'd try to get a fall photo of the dogs together, all sitting on my front porch.

    This was a complete fiasco.

    When I opened the front door and called for them, they immediately obeyed, and the raucus sound of 12 clawed paws stampeding across the kitchen floor was enough to make me want to change my mind and just photograph the quiet pumpkins instead. Nevertheless, I pressed on, willing myself to be patient with the beasts, knowing they were just thrilled to death that I was allowing them out in the front of the house instead of out back.

    I let them get some of the wiggles out by running from driveway to driveway, sniffing what they may, and I called them back. They all ran up onto the porch like good little hounds, but that's when the trouble began…

    "Friday, sit!" Friday sat, but Tasha jumped up to nip at him bc he was being a brown-noser.

    "Tasha, stop!" Tasha stopped, but Missy lunged at her neck, growling like Cujo bc I had spoken to Tasha and not to her.

    "Missy, quit!" Missy quit, but Friday got nervous that he was still sitting and hadn't gotten a treat for it, so he got up to sniff at Missy.

    "No, Friday, sit!" Friday sat, but Missy again lunged for Tasha's neck, growling like Cujo bc I spoke to Friday instead of to her.

    "Missy, that's enough!" Missy looked at me adoringly, but Tasha jumped up and tried to nip Friday bc he was being too compliant and refuses to get in touch with his inner samurai, as she has done.

    It was then that I got the idea to get their favorite treats: Wheat Thins. I opened the door to go back inside to fetch them, and all the dogs came running in after me. When I tried to lure them back outside, only one at a time would follow me, darting out onto the porch, but then running back inside, hoping I'd follow them so they could eat their treats inside the house. Back and forth, back and forth we went, trying to convince each other that inside or outside was better, and I finally gave up and decided to just take each of their photos as they'd come to the door.

    Mind you, with each photo I'd have to dole out a Wheat Thin, and then the next pooch would take their place…

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    (She would die of embarrassment if she knew her face was that dirty.)

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    The sun was quite bright on one spot of the porch…

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    If you haven't already gotten the Boris chart, I'd like to give one away! I'll also include a couple of treats for your pooch! Just leave a comment IN THIS POST, and I'll announce a winner on Saturday.

    In the mean time, I'm going to go photograph the quiet pumpkins.

  • Family

    My Dad

    I love my dad. I think he's the best dad in the whole world.

    One of my fondest memories from my childhood is when my dad would come home from work and I'd hide under his desk, waiting for him to spot me. I always thought my hiding spot was very original.

    When he spotted me, he'd walk out of the room.


    Somehow, I thought that was going to be a fond memory.

    Now this one is a fond memory… I always knew I could ask my dad for anything. So when I had trouble with homework, I knew he'd be willing to help me. I remember many nights, approaching him at his desk and saying something like, "Hey, Dad? Can you help me with my homework?"

    "What do you need help with?" he'd ask.

    "Um, well, I can't figure out what 4 x 4 is."

    "Well what is it?"

    "Um, well… um… 16?"

    "Is it?"

    "Um, well… yes?"

    "Okay then."

    After blinking a couple of times, I'd leave, not sure if I should be relieved that the problem was done or confused by all the questions.


    Now that I've thought over that memory, all I can do is blink a couple of times.

    I've told this one before, but maybe it was the time he was watering the lawn with the jet-sprayer, and I ran up to him, screaming like a kid with rabies bc my feet were covered in ants from a nest I'd just stepped in. As I jumped up and down, wild-eyed and foaming at the mouth, pleading with him to help me, he looked at me and wondered why no one had ever fully explained the birds and the bees to him and simply turned the jet-sprayer on me, soaking my shoes through. Then, without a word, he went back to watering the lawn, and I left, hiccuping my tears back and wondering if he'd been honest about 4 x 4 being 16.

    All kidding aside (although all of those stories are true), my brother and sister and I love our dad with all our hearts. He has always been our ideal of what a God-given father should be. He has loved our mother with all his heart, and our family is extremely close-knit bc of his devotion to God and to us.

    I brought him a pear cobbler today, bc it's his favorite dessert. He had come home from work for lunch, so I took a few pictures of him while I was visiting. I always found my dad to be very handsome when I was little, and that hasn't changed.

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    Come on, Mom, stop hiding…

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    Mom dad email

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    A very happy birthday to you, Dad. I love you.

  • Good Things,  Holidays,  Home


    Last week I had the task of dog-sitting my parents' hound, Major, while my parents were visiting the rest of our family out of state. Before leaving town, my mother had made sure to pull out all the autumnal stops, and when I turned the key and walked through my parents' door, I was immediately greeted by the familiar smell of home – warm vanilla and caramel and apples. My parents' home always smells the same (delicious!), and the way my mother decorates for the season is so cozy, no one ever wants to leave!

    So I got it in my head that I, too, wanted to decorate for autumn, and promptly headed to Hobby Lobby. I mostly wanted a new centerpiece for my dinette table, but since I am very much centerpiece-challenged, this endeavor proved most difficult for me. "I wish I could just put things somewhere, and make them work like my mom does!" I thought. Seriously, my mom could scrape a dead racoon off the street and turn it into the most astounding, beautiful floral arrangement you've ever seen.

    Not that she'd go anywhere near a dead racoon. Or the street, for that matter, since she's always home quilting or stitching or working or texting my dad to say that she's pretty sure he wants Arby's for dinner.

    Anyway, when I was perusing the aisles in Hobby Lobby, I finally decided to stop over-thinking everything, and just BUY something already. I have a tendency to walk around the store with something I love, and then by the time I'm finished walking the store, I've thought up 35 different reasons why I shouldn't buy it, and I end up leaving empty-handed. I was determined this was not going to be the case this time, and I ended up purchasing a 3-tiered stand that I honestly had no clue what to do with. "But it looks like something my mom would buy," I thought. So I bought it.

    As I drove home, I began thinking about what my mom would put on it, and then my buyer's remorse started turning into something a little happier… Here's what I ended up with, and I really like it!

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    As a matter of fact, I liked it so well, I took pictures from every angle!

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    After I was finished with the table, I moved on to the rest of the house. I decided I would decorate with all the Halloween models that were collecting dust in my dungeon basement. I had to do some rummaging bc they're all stuffed away in boxes, but I managed to find quite a few and got them upstairs.

    Grim Gourds in the entryway…

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    Dead Man's Chess over the fireplace, next to Halloween Hornbook and Salem Sisters…

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    Here's mean old Emma Nettles…

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    And here's the next tombie sampler subject, watching me decorate…

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    Here's Ghoul, right behind one of The Boney Bunch figures from Yankee Candle…

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    Btw, this is the newest addition to my Boney Bunch figures (truth be told, I only have 3 of them), standing in front of Garden of Eerie…

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    Amos Figg… (his wife, Tillie, is hanging just above)…

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    (Btw, Mom got me hooked on these holiday candles by Bath and Body Works. This is one of my favorites! I also purchased a few more in Christmas scents, but I'll wait for the weather to turn brittle before I light them.)

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    I even placed a couple samplers in the bathroom. I thought Mehitable's epitaph was fitting for the back of the toilet…

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    (There's my first Boney Bunch figure, above, gifted to me by my mom as a fall present a few years ago!)

    And here is Salem Sisters II on the wall nearest the sink…

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    Sophie loves the seasonal towels in my parents' bathrooms, so I decided to surprise her with one…

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    However, she decided to hang it on top of the crown towel my friend Chris got for me, which almost got the little Halloween towel returned to the store. 😉 Just kidding, Sophie!

    Finally, here's one of the Blackbird Designs ornaments I stitched a few years ago to hang on my wire tree in the entryway. I have a few of them, and I love them all! (Who doesn't love Blackbird Designs?)

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    I had so much fun decorating this year! The pumpkins are on the front porch, the mums are blooming their burgundy best, and I even hung my Thimbleberries quilted pumpkin doorhanger on the front door. I can't wait for Sophie to start bringing home her artwork from school… the days of fingerpainting projects are gone, sadly, but I'm sure she'll have a new school masterpiece for the refrigerator this year. 🙂

    I'm sure Mom would be proud of my fall decorating this year. I had fun with it, just like she always seems to. As a matter of fact, the only time I didn't see her having fun with decorating was when I was very little, and I'd bring home my school masterpieces.

    But that's what my therapist is for.

    Happy Decorating!

    P.S. My sister got into the season, too!

  • Crazy Kids


    Sabrina has a new love interest.

    He's cute, charming, plays the guitar beautifully, and likes cars.

    He also loves photography, and shoots a Canon 40D, so Sabrina is welcome to marry him if she likes.

    They went on a pumpkin patch outing a few days ago (the day after our family went), and had their first kiss. A friend was there to document this momentous occasion, and I'd like to share it with all of you to see…


    I sort of snagged that photo from Sabrina's Facebook album (with her permission to blog it, of course), and ran across another one, even more curious than the one above…


    Can someone please explain this to me? What are these children doing when we parents are not around to supervise?

    Anyway, Sabrina has a new love interest.

    And I think he's udderly adorable.

  • Crazy Kids,  Family

    Bumpkin Fun

    When the girls were really little, one of my favorite things to do each fall was to take them to the pumpkin patch for hay-rack rides, pumpkin-picking, and sugar cookies. Many years later, that simple pumpkin patch has grown into an enormous country-folk attraction, offering everything from haunted houses to pony rides, with hot dogs and turkey legs (and sugar cookies) at every turn.

    Last week was the opening week of Vala's Pumpkin Patch, and since the weather was perfect, we 5 Stewarts headed out.

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    The girls found a plastic duck race wherein each participant had to pump water as fast as she could to get her duck to "swim" the fastest, all the way to the end…

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    After the race, we realize that Mike had disappeared… and soon found him several yards away, stuffing a hot dog into his face before any of us could as him to buy us one…

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    Sabrina and Sophie decided to give the giant jumping pillow a try next…

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    This one cracks me up, bc Sabrina looks like an underwater genie…

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    Oh, the perils of long hair!

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    Again, we asked, "Where is Mike?"

    "Where is our loving, strong father?"

    "Where is that stud-muffin manly-man husband of mine?"

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    I honestly believe he had no idea we had found him.

    Sabrina and Sophie decided to join him, and I had to laugh at my Sabrina… she waffles bw being the fun-loving child that still wants to play on a jungle gym, yet when she realizes she'll be 17 soon, she decides that if she's going to play on a jungle-gym, she must look glamorous while doing so…

    Mike, on the other hand, doesn't know that he passed 17 many years ago.

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    I noticed a man sitting on a bench nearby, singing to his baby. It was the most precious thing, watching him in his own world, completely charmed by the bundle in his arms. Although everything in me was telling me to hush, I decided to ask him if I could take his photo. He was a little startled, but he agreed when I told him that I just thought it was the sweetest thing in the world to see, and I wasn't a crazed stalker…

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    Of course, maybe he wouldn't have been so startled if I hadn't looked like this:

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    Of course I'm kidding. This was inside a little shop – with LOTS of orange lights! – and we were all having fun trying on masks and looking at the creepy souvenirs.  Although the background is the only thing in focus, I like it bc of the woman's expression behind us as Sabrina is sneaking up on me…

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    (See there? You have no need to fear the Grim Reaper, bc that's all he's going to do to you anyway.)

    Mike suddenly showed up, when he realized someone was taking pictures…

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    Sabrina's second attempt at terrorizing a family member (it's hard to see, but she's wearing an enormous gnarled hand)…

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    Bre was happily trying on Halloween accessories behind Sophie…

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    Here is the photo that was intended for my October banner, but the light in the shop was too difficult to work with…

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    Back outside…I love this old car!

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    Clearly, Sabrina takes after her father…

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    Turkey legs! The rest of us had chili dogs and bottled root beer – and sugar cookies. 🙂

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    It was a pleasant time, as it always is at the pumpkin patch. We left with a huge bag of kettle corn to share on the ride home (I'm still finding popcorn kernels on the floor of my car), and we're already excited to go back again. (Okay, I can't really speak for Breanna, who is probably in her dorm, furiously practicing her duck-racing skills rather than studying for exams.)

    Before I go, I'd like to share one last disturbing photo with you. It's of Sabrina, on top of some sort of dirt pile, pretending she had just climbed a huge mountain. However, Sabrina is not the disturbing part of the photo. Can you guess what is?

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    It's been almost a week since we went to Vala's, and I imagine Mike has no idea we even left.


  • Good Things

    A Beautiful Fall Day

    What a wonderful day it's been! I've been decorating for fall, stitching, creating my own spice mix for apple cider, enjoying the aroma of Yankee Candle's Autumn Leaves, making my new blog banner, and Mike just called to say he's bringing home lunch. Hallelujah!

    Fall tp

    Btw, if you're interested, here's what I put in my cider today… this will do for about 2 or 3 mugs:

    2 tsp. sugar
    1/4 tsp. cinnamon
    A pinch of… nutmeg, ground cloves, ground ginger, and… chili powder!

    Trust me. 😉