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Top Ten Posts for 2016 – Most Popular

Top Ten Posts for 2016 – Most Popular

What a fun year here at OutAndBack!  Thank you for stopping by, reading a while, and cheering me on!  Here are the ten most popular posts for 2016 (based on number of views).

1.  Electric Pressure Cooker – YES!  My initial foray into the world of electric pressure cookers.  I started with the Farberware model; here’s what I thought of it.  (Coming soon:  a post comparing this to the Instant Pot that I purchased later.)

 

2.  Michael Ann’s Kitchen  Day One of the Write 31 Days Challenge.  Welcome to my kitchen!  Let me show you around!  You’ll find the complete list of posts in this series here.

 

3.  One Carly, Three Ways  LuLaRoe posts have been VERY popular this year!  LuLaRoe fans abound, and for good reason!  If you’ve not succumbed to the LuLaRoe world yet, Carly is one of their wonderful dresses.

 

4.  Style Perspectives: How Would YOU Wear It?  I linked up with the fabulous ladies at The Blended Blog for this one.  We styled a blazer, tank/t-shirt, and jeans.  Easy peasy and FUN!

 

5.  Currently – December 2016  Each month I link up with Anne at In Residence for her “Currently” posts.  The topics change every month.  This is a fun post to write AND a fun way to quickly check out bloggers I don’t know.  The variety of responses each month always amazes me!  Beautiful Thomasville, Georgia featured prominently in this “Currently” post.

 

6.  In the Beginning  This was Day 2 of Michael Ann’s Kitchen, my response to the Write 31 Days blogging challenge.  On this day I shared what Mama taught me about being a successful cook.  She knew what she was talking about!  (Do you suppose my kids will ever say that about me?!?)

 

7.  Capes!  This post is nearly a year old now, and it’s cape season again!  Check ’em out and see what you think!  (I like THIS cape post a lot better!)

 

8.  The Letter R and the Elephant  Yes!  THIS is one of my favorite posts of the year!  Funny, funny story!

 

9.  Cozy Fashion for the Holidays  LuLaRoe fashion hits the Top 10 again!  This time I styled LuLaRoe leggings and linked up (again) with The Blended Blog.

 

10.  Fall Fashion Find: A Casual Dress  Wow!  Another fashion post and another link-up with The Blended Blog!

 

So, I’m curious.  Did YOUR favorite post(s) make the top ten?!?  Leave a comment and let me know!  I plan to list MY favorite posts tomorrow, and most of them ARE NOT on today’s list!  (You KNOW you’ll need to come back tomorrow, right?!?  HOW will you ever sleep tonight?!?)

 

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DIY Advent Wreath

DIY Advent Wreath

Christmas is coming!  Christmas is coming!  It’s a wonderful time of year, and it can also be a hectic time of year.  Several years ago our family began observing Advent as a way of  slowing things down and focusing on Jesus, the REAL reason for this amazing season.

Here’s a great little video that gives a quick overview of Advent.

As you saw in yesterday’s post, we got our Advent wreath set up and lit the first candle yesterday, the first Sunday of Advent.  Our Advent wreath is not very traditional, but I like it a lot.  Here’s how I made it.

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I used a glass pie plate (some years I use a white dinner plate) and poured some glass stones on it.  Since I happened to have a mix of clear, blue, and green stones, that’s what I used.  While these aren’t traditional Christmas colors, I like them.  For me, the clear stones represent Jesus’s purity,  and blue and green seem like regal colors.  I added one red stone as a symbol of His sacrifice.  You could choose different colors if you’d like.

Sometimes churches use candles of different colors, one for each week of Advent.  Some use purple and pink, and others use blue.  Usually there is one white candle in the middle of the wreath to represent Christ.  I like to burn the candles every evening, so I opted for four tea lights instead of regular candles.  That way I can easily replace them and keep burning them.  I snugged four little glass tea light holders into the stones and placed a tea light in each of them.  I do have one white candle in the middle.  It sits in a candle holder that sits a little taller than the tea lights.  We’ll light that one on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning.

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Typically you light one candle each Sunday of Advent.  (The second week of Advent we’ll light two candles, and so on.)  Each week has a different focus.  The candles might represent Hope, Love, Joy, and Peace.  Or Expectation, Joy, Hope, and Purity.  Or Prophets, Mary, Joseph, and Shepherds.   You get the picture!

The materials for this kind of Advent wreath are easy to find and not expensive at all.  Look around your house first.  You may have everything you need already!

The Advent wreath acts as a reminder to remember what Christmas is all about.  I need visual nudges like that!  To take it all a step further, I like to read Advent devotions each day.

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This year I’m reading God Is in the Manger:  Reflections on Advent and Christmas by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  Bonhoeffer knew a thing or two about waiting.  A large part of this book was written when he was in prison in Germany during World War II.  I’m looking forward to reading his thoughts on the season.  He lists the focuses of each week as being Waiting, Mystery, Redemption, and Incarnation.

Another book I’ll be picking up during Advent is Max Lucado’s Celebrating Christmas with Jesus: An Advent Devotional.  This book uses passages from several of the many books he’s written.  (God Came Near is my favorite Christmas book ever!)

A great, FREE, online resource for daily readings is d365.

If you have kids, I highly recommend reading Jotham’s Journey with them during Advent!

Does YOUR family observe Advent?  What special things do you do to keep the potentially chaotic Christmas season under control?  Please share in the comment section below!

 

 

Thanksgiving Baking & Forgetting Rule #2

Thanksgiving Baking & Forgetting Rule #2

I’m totally laughing at myself right now, so I just HAD to come over here and leave a quick note!  Remember those basic rules of cooking that my mom taught me?  Yep.  I just went and totally blew #2: read the recipe all the way through BEFORE you begin!

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I’m making Southern Living’s Ambrosia Pudding Pie for Thanksgiving.  My pumpkin pies are already baked and cooling on a rack, so I started in on the ambrosia pudding pie.  First step:  make lemon curd.  COOL!  I’ve never made that before!  I work through those steps and then read, “Chill for 4 hours or up to 3 days.”  WHOOPSIE!  Thankfully I have plenty of time this afternoon, so it’s all good, but this could have been quite the tragedy!

I’ll just let the curd cool whilst I move on to making Texas Sheet Cake Cookies.  I won’t make them too big this time.

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If you still need a quick, delicious pumpkin pie recipe, I shared Grandma’s recipe here!

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Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!  Let’s count our blessings whilst we prep for this great holiday!

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Chinwag #1: Of Kittens and Wrap Skirts and Recliners

Chinwag #1: Of Kittens and Wrap Skirts and Recliners

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Hey there!  Grab a cup of coffee and pull up a chair!  It’s time for a chinwag!

“Chinwag” is one of those fun words we picked up when we lived in England.  It means “a friendly conversation, a chat.”  I contacted one of my English friends (Hi, Mary!) yesterday to make sure I had the definition and connotation right.  She confirmed that it truly does mean just a chat, not a mean-spirited gossip session.  Yay!

First up I have to tell you about my perfect weekend!  Don’t you love those?!?  Last Friday my husband was off work, and the weather was finally feeling slightly autumn-ish, so we headed out to the range to shoot for a while.  He had fun breaking in two new guns, and I had fun watching HIM having fun with that!  I stuck to the pistols.  My accuracy was less than stellar, but I enjoyed the time anyway.  I’m still fighting a flinch when I fire.  I’m working to get past that, but it’s taking time.

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That evening we went to the cinema to see the new Jack Reacher movie.  Okay.  I have to stop right there and ask why in the world did they cast Tom Cruise (for crying out loud) as Jack Reacher?!?  In the books (yes, there are books) Jack Reacher is 6 feet 5 inches tall and 250 pounds!  His sheer size is a HUGE factor in the stories!  ANYWAY.  Back to MY story.  Gene and I went to our local cinema to see the new Jack Reacher movie and discovered that the cinema has upgraded to recliner seating!  WHAT?!?  Seats are now assigned, and/but they are WONDERFUL!  This might not be so great for those of you who go all Sleep Mode as soon as you put your feet up, but we liked them A LOT!

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Saturday was another gorgeous day.  We had been invited to a special party in Jacksonville, Florida (more on that in a minute) for that evening, but we decided to head out early and make a day of it.  We ate lunch at Popeye’s (a guilty pleasure of ours!) on the way down and then headed to the Jacksonville Zoo.  We hadn’t visited it in a few years.  We enjoyed walking around and watching the animals and the kids, none of whom we were responsible for!  (I’ve decided that going to the zoo without kids is both a little sad AND a wonderful, beautiful thing!)

That evening we enjoyed a great anniversary party for friends of ours!  Michael and Sheila were celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary, and Sheila’s parents were celebrating their 50th!   They renewed their vows, committing to keeping up the hard work that marriage requires.  Yes, I got a little choked up!  This marriage thing is something special, something to treasure, for sure!  I LOVE dressing up, and Gene, bless his heart, was a really good sport about it!  You can read more about the party on Sheila’s blog!

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My handsome Gene and me!
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Me and my glamorous friend, Sheila!

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We spent the night at a great hotel in Jacksonville then nipped back up I-95 to take up our posts as greeters at our church and to celebrate our church’s 16th birthday!  God stories and worship abounded!

Then came Monday!  Ah, Monday!  LOL!  I present for your entertainment the condensed version of my leaving for work Monday morning!

  • I decided to wear my amazing, upcycled sari, wrap skirt.  Since it is a wrap skirt, it has long ties.
  • Our kitten repeatedly jumped up, grabbed the ties, and pulled on them, slightly loosening my skirt.
  • I ignored said kitten and focused on gathering my Tervis of tea and travel cup of coffee.
  • The kitten tried to scamper out the front door with me, but my mad ninja skills kicked in and I blocked her escape.  Victory!
  • Also, my skirt got caught in the door.
  • Oh, did I mention I had just touched up my fingernail polish on my right (dominant) hand?
  • I managed to get my skirt out of the door and noticed that it was even more loose now.  (Yeah.  Wait for it!)
  • I juggled my purse and beverages to the car, opened the door, leaned in to put my coffee in a cup holder so I wouldn’t spill it, and poured copious amounts of tea from my Tervis onto the front seat.
  • Simultaneously my skirt…well…let’s just say I had a *slight* wardrobe malfunction at this point!  Thankfully Gene had backed my car into the driveway the night before, so I was shielded from the world by my car door, my car, his truck, and multiple layers of clothing (since it was a brisk 50 degrees, and this is Georgia, so we must bundle up).  I just cracked up laughing!
  • A frantic search for napkins or paper towels then ensued whilst I was trying to get my skirt wrapped again AND trying not to mess up my fingernail polish!  HA!  It really was hysterical!

Oh, goodness!  Sometimes all you can do is laugh!  To close this out I’ll share a photo of the kitten (Mattie) and the sari wrap skirt.

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Thanks for stopping by!  What’s been going on in YOUR world lately?!?  Leave me a comment, and we’ll keep the chinwag going!

 

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Currently…

Currently…

It’s time for Currently!  Here we go!  I am currently…

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Discovering:  Well, REdiscovering just how clever the movie Alice Through the Looking Glass is!  I posted a review of the movie when it was in theaters, and now it’s out on Blu-Ray.  This is an excellent movie on every level.  It’s a feast for your eyes, your ears, and your heart!

 

Celebrating:  Meeting a big goal!  I signed up for the Write 31 Days blogging challenge, and I did it!  I wrote my series, Michael Ann’s Kitchen, and posted every single day of October!  As is typical when we push ourselves to do something hard, I learned a LOT!  I learned tons about blogging in general, WordPress, and the powerful tools available to me via remarkable apps like Canva and Pic Monkey.  I’m exhausted, and I’m exhilarated!

 

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From my birthdaypalooza last week!  More about the cake here.

Starting:  Well, REstarting a concerted effort to make wise food choices and to exercise.  I’ve been off my game for a while, and then Hurricane Matthew threw me for a loop emotionally (even though we made it through just fine).  That emotional exhaustion plus two birthdaypaloozas (mine and my daughter’s) plus the Write 31 Days challenge totally upset my apple cart!  It’s time to right the cart and get back on the wagon.  (Oh dear!  My tired is showing!  Moving on…)

 

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My daughter and me on Sunday, October 30.

Wearing:  Let’s talk about what I’m NOT wearing.  The temperatures here in Coastal Georgia are STILL pushing 90 degrees.  In November.  Ugh.  So I’m NOT wearing my beloved hoodies, boots, or jackets.  It’s sad really.

(Well, there WAS that weekend camping trip last month near Chattanooga, Tennessee when the temps dipped to just shy of freezing!  Bliss, I tell you!  And, yes, we tent camp.  Stay tuned for more about that trip!)

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Googling:  More electric pressure cooker recipes and charts.  I wrote about how much I’m enjoying my pressure cooker several weeks ago, and I’m still loving it.  I’m considering buying an Instant Pot because (1) I’d like to see how it compares to my Farberware pressure cooker, and (2) some days I’d like to have TWO of them to use!

That’s what *I* am up to these days!  How about you?  Let me know in the comment section!

I’m linking up today with Anne of In Residence and Catherine of A Short Blonde.  Be sure to see what THEY are currently up to as well!

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A Post-Halloween Chuckle

A Post-Halloween Chuckle

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My daughter is an incredible artist/writer and a beautiful, lovely woman.  The way she paints with words stuns me every time, and BOY, can she make me laugh!  Did I mention she’s an introvert?  She was a riot last night during trick or treating (which totally stresses her out).  She decided SOMETHING needs to change.  I present for your consideration, her (hysterical) proposal!

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I Did It! #Write31Days

I Did It! #Write31Days

Wow!  I’m sitting here in a Halloween carb coma–I blame the Moon Pies, pork lo mein, and Dairy Queen Pumpkin Pie Blizzard that may or may not have been consumed tonight–and I’m thinking back over the last few weeks and what I’ve experienced.  Some of my expectations of this Write 31 Days challenge proved to be accurate, but I was surprised by several things!

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Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!

I’ll be back later tonight for a wrap up of Michael Ann’s Kitchen, but for now, HAPPY HALLOWEEN!  Have a great, fun evening!

We’re ready for our neighborhood trick or treaters!  #halloweensouthernstyle

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Vintage Cake Plates

Vintage Cake Plates

“Vintage” seems to be the word of the week!  I’m learning a lot about myself by doing this series.  Apparently I like vintage things more than I thought!

Today I want to show you how I use vintage cake plates in a new way. My wonderful mother-in-law gave these to me a while back, and I’ve had fun incorporating them into my kitchen.

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The larger one anchors my favorite corner in the kitchen!  It sits beside the stove and holds my olive oil and vinegars, pepper grinder, and salt pig. I like the way it lifts them off the countertop.

Then I snugged in my autumn leaf plate which I use as a spoon rest and my larger salt pig which holds nutritional yeast.

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That vignette makes me smile every time I see it!

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I use the smaller cake plate on my kitchen island to hold random, small objects that need a temporary home.

Hooray for using pretty things in unexpected ways in the kitchen!

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If you’re curious about my salt pigs, check out my earlier post, What IS a Salt Pig Anyway?!?  (Aren’t they cute?!?)

Thank you for stopping by today!  This is Day 29 of Michael Ann’s kitchen, a special series for the Write 31 Days challenge.

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