Showing posts with label Guest Blogging. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Guest Blogging. Show all posts

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Guest Blogger - Leanne, from Teacht Duigan

Each of my guest bloggers are local friends or family who have graciously agreed to share a little bit on my blog this week.  I am so thrilled Leanne is sharing about her fun St. Patrick's party.  I have an extra special place in my heart for her and Alan.  When I worked at the County Clerk's office, theirs was one of the first Marriage License I was trained on and when I met her later through the theater, I remembered her because she and Alan were super sweet when they got their license.  She blogs irregularly at Teacht Duigan - and I'm saying that because I'm always encouraging her to blog more!!

My name is Leanne.  

I am married to an Irishman (Alan)– like, he came from IRELAND to marry me.  

He left his gorgeous, green country sides to move to Texas.  Brown grass, crazy weather, ‘Everything’s Bigger’ Texas.  That’s love my friends! When we got married, we decided that we would have a St. Patrick’s Day party.  I mean – he’s Irish…we kind of HAD to.  I make traditional Irish dishes, we teach traditional Irish dances, and have good ole international fun.

Last year we moved into a smaller house.  I worried for months about the party and we even talked of cancelling it.  Then we decided that what better way to celebrate one of our favorite days than with our friends…in our small house.  We invited everyone we could think of, thinking some would come.  My friends – we opened our doors crammed about 50 people in our house.  The line for food wrapped around the living room, down the hall, and into the kitchen!  People ate in the living room, front yard, back yard, and in the hallway.  You know what I didn’t hear one time?  No one said anything about the cramped situation.  They came anyway!

*I was there, this isn't even 1/4 of the people*

Each year we decide on a budget of what we will spend for the party.  This includes any new decorations and all the food.  The first year we did the party I struggled to stay on budget because I was going to do it all.  Last year I decided that I would provide the main Irish dishes and asked people to bring desserts and sides and drinks.  And bring these things they did!  We had so much food (which was good due to the number of people!).  I worried that people would think it rude that I asked them to bring things, but you know what – no one complained.  In fact, I think they enjoyed helping out.

At our party, when everyone has eaten we teach two Irish dances.  My sweet husband plays his accordion and I teach the dances.   This year we were excited to find out some friends brought their own instruments knowing Alan would be playing. They jumped right in with the music making a little band.  Because they had brought their things with them, we were also able to introduce our friends to some of our favorite traditional Irish songs! (I am hoping to purposefully add this bit to the party agenda this year!)  You’d never believe it – but I had worried about the dancing, as our house didn’t have anywhere to teach the dances.  We ended up dancing outside.  In the dark.  We had a ball – and the only thing one could hear was laughter and conversation – no complaints! 
*I have to interject and say how much fun this was, not one thought to any of her worries as a guest*

All of this to say, March is coming.  Oh, I know it’s only January – but my head it already reeling with ideas for our party this year.  I’m already planning menus and bands and dances.  I’m looking forward to inviting friends and deep cleaning decorating the house.  My advice to you (and myself)?  Relax.  You don’t have to be Martha Stuart.  I mean, she’s nice and her things are beautiful and I WISH I had her kind of budget.  But I don’t…and I don’t sweat it. 
So your house is small?  Invite everyone anyway…cram them in and let them spill out.  Let them join in the fun when they bring things (their instruments) - you never know where it will lead!
So your budget is small?  Choose your focus dishes and invite your many friends to have a part in the party.  Assign everyone a kind of dish…or let them use their creative juices.  They’ll be glad you let them have part.
Most of all – have fun.  Don’t try to be perfect…be YOU! 
Oh – and DON’T forget to wear something GREEN!
…an Irish recipes for you to try this year…

Irish Soda Bread:

Ingredients:4 cups all purpose flour, plus 1/4 cup
1 teaspoon baking soda1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 cups buttermilk, plus 2 teaspoons


Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Pour 4 cups of flour into a large mixing bowl.  Add baking soda and salt and stir with a fork to combine.  Add 2 cups of buttermilk and stir with a fork until well blended.

Sprinkle remaining 1/4 flour onto work surface.  Pour dough out onto work surface.  Knead dough, working in flour as needed, for about one minute until dough is no longer sticky and forms a smooth round ball.
Cover baking sheet with a piece of non-stick aluminum foil and shape into loaf.  To shape into shamrock as pictured: break dough into 4 pieces.  Shape 3 pieces into hearts and the 4th into the stem. 
Brush remaining 2 teaspoons of buttermilk over the surface of the dough. Bake for 20 minutes then rotate pan 180 degrees to ensure even browning of the bread.  Bake for an additional 18-22 minutes until crust is a deep golden brown.  Allow to cool for one hour before serving. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Please be sure to go enter the giveaway, only 3 more days!!

Friday, January 31, 2014

Guest Blogger - KarenTrina Childress

I am very blessed to have Karen guest blog for me this week!  I have learned so much from her and am happy to introduce you to her blog KarenTrina Childress.  Karen is a homeschooling mother of a large family, a fellow theater pal, and absolutely full of practical wisdom!  


When Kathryn asked me to guest post, I asked her for ideas about what she would like me to talk about. On my blog, I sometimes post about travel and have mentioned family camping trips. This appealed to her, so reminisce with me about a trip my family took from Texas to Pennsylvania in September of 1994. This is Part 1 of the trip. You can find Part 2 on my blog next week. Part 2 will cover the places we visited on our trip.

Before my children became involved in a lot of fall activities, we would take two week driving/ camping vacations. We are members of AAA. Tour Books and Camping Books provided to AAA members were and are a wonderful trip planning tool. I suppose there is an app for that now, but I still prefer the books. I always planned our trip in advance, looking for interesting places to visit and kid friendly camping spots for our trips. Anything that AAA lists as a 'must see' has always been more than worth the visit.

Our destination for this trip was determined by the fact that my parents were headed to Pennsylvania to settle my grandmother's estate and assist with the auction. We often traveled with them on vacation and had not been east, so the planning began.

We had just graduated from tent camping to pop-up camper camping, which allowed us to pack some necessities and staples in the camper and made the one-night stays much easier to pack up the next day.

We prefer to stay at state parks and recreation areas. It is usually quite scenic at these locations, some have playgrounds, and most have nature trails. Most are not right off the highway, but close enough to merit the stop.

Dillon State Park in Ohio provided a scenic place to relax after our first long day. The children were able to run and play and get rid of some energy from being in the car. A big perk of traveling in September is we rarely ran into crowds and often had camping areas to ourselves. It is like our own camping resort!  

We spent the next two nights camped at the Mill Bridge Campground in Strasburg, PA in Pennsylvania Dutch country. There was a wooden playground right next to our campsite that was perfect for the children. At this camping area, we were once again reminded why we love traveling after everyone else has gone back to school: most of the other campers are retired people. We have noticed that retired travelers love interacting with our children, and the children enjoy talking to them.

This camping area was a very fun place to stay. We took day trips to the surrounding area.

We spent three nights at Colonel Denning State Park.

We chose this park based on its proximity to my grandmother's house. It turned out to be a gem. Aside from the vault toilets (not my favorite for a three-night stay), it was a beautiful location with nice hiking trails, plus we had the place to ourselves! This place doesn't have showers either, but we showered at my aunt's house when we were in town.

Beech Fork State Park was an unplanned stop due to some miscalculation on my part. This is where the AAA Camping Book came in handy. I suppose smart phones would fill that role now.

We usually stop before dark, but this day we drove longer than usual and it was dusk when we set up camp. Fortunately, there was a small playground to occupy the children while we made camp. Unfortunately, there was a mud puddle under the swings and my two year old found it.

A shower took care of that problem and the gallon zip top bags came in handy for the muddy clothes. This was a nice campground near a little mountain lake. It would have been a lovely place to spend a day or two, but we pressed on.

Fort Boonesborough State Park was our next stop. We had planned to tour the fort, but it was not open the two days we were there. (note: always check hours of operation) The gift shop was open and the boys bought coonskin caps. Every boy needs a coonskin cap, right?

The campground did have a very nice playground that included a stagecoach, fort, teepee, steam shovel, and log cabin. This kept the children occupied for most of the afternoon. We also enjoyed one of the nature trails around the fort. The children agreed this would be a fun place for a summer vacation to take advantage of the junior Olympic-sized swimming pool complete with waterslide, misty fountain, and children's area.

Kentucky has so many wonderful state parks. Pennyrile State Park and Forest was another overnight camping spot where we could easily have stayed a week. Lots of nature trails, lovely playground, a pool, and lake. It would also be a photographer's paradise. I'm thinking I should put another trip to Kentucky on my travel list.

Even though my husband's journal says we stayed at the Blue Sky RV Resort in Mountain View, AR, it wasn't memorable. We do have pictures of Blanchard Springs, which is not far from Mountain View. I would recommend making a base camp at Blanchard Springs and then enjoying all the area has to offer.

Even though Mountain View can only be accessed by twisty mountain roads, it is a scenic area with a variety of activities.

Remembering all these wonderful state parks and camping areas has made me want to visit them again. Hopefully you have been inspired to plan your next camping trip or camping vacation.

I would be remiss if I did not mention that my husband is the most organized camper I know.  He has packing and unpacking down to a fine art.  He usually does most of the cooking when we camp, which helps make the trip more enjoyable, too.  

Karen will post part 2 of this trip at her blog next week.

Please remember to enter the giveaway and if you need some gift ideas or want to pamper yourself - go visit For Goodness Soap!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Guest Blogging - A Love Story & The Prayers of Students = Triplets!!!

*My sister-n-law Heidi graciously agreed to share about her family with us.  She is a wonderful mother and a talented Music teacher in addition to director of our parish Children's Choir.  I met her when she and Phillip began dating, so I got to see their story unfold when we didn't know the happiness that was to come.  I am so blessed to be living close to her now that we are back in Texas.  I am only sad that my children could not start off taking her music classes as babies - they are absolutely wonderful.  More information about that here:  Little Musicians*

My name is Heidi, and I am blessed to call Kathy my sister-­in-­law. My husband, Phillip, is one of Pete’s brothers.
 Phillip and I have been married almost 13 years. Kathy asked me to write a post about our family, so here goes! Phillip and I first met in 7th grade. We really just had classes together and became friends. We shared an interest in choir and sang in several choirs together throughout our school days. In 12th grade, we started dating. When we first began dating, he told me right away that one day he would be a Catholic priest. I told him that was fine because I knew we would both go off to college in a year, and we’d probably go our separate ways. Well, we ended up dating 3 years straight. During the 3rd year, he felt he needed to pursue seminary, and I knew it would also be good for us to try traveling down different paths. It was difficult, but God was with us in our separate journeys. And so, another 3 years went by where we did not date. After the 3rd year of going down different roads, I received a phone call from Phillip. He was at the airport coming back from Rome during spring break. I was teaching 1st grade at the time in a Catholic School. He wanted to see me that night, but I told him I was busy (I had a date!). I met with him later on, and we both decided he needed to finish his current year of seminary and then see how we both felt (and where God was leading us both). To make a long story short, Phillip finished out the year but did not feel God was calling him to continue pursuing the priesthood. We started dating again, and then we got engaged. 

The next school year, Phillip also got a job at the same Catholic School, I was teaching at.  He began teaching middle school math and science. I was still teaching 1st grade, and we got married that school year. After we were married, many of Phillip’s middle school students would pray each morning at school, that we would have identical twins! Phillip had two sets of twins in his class. They were very fervent in their prayers. Phillip and I soon discovered we were blessed with a pregnancy. Little did I know that those children’s prayers would get answered, and then some! When I was 20­weeks pregnant, at our first sonogram, we were told we were having triplets! Neither side of our families seemed to have multiples in them. We decided that God definitely heard the prayers of Phillip’s students, and we jokingly said that we could have been blessed with triplets also because we kissed the Blarney Stone in Ireland on our honeymoon! Carrying triplets was a little scary with all the complications that could occur. However, I made it to 34 weeks. We were blessed with 2 identical boys and a little girl.

 When we first had them, I joked that Phillip and I dated 3 years, we broke up for 3 years, and then he gave us a gift of 3 beautiful babies. We also had a tremendous gift of help from family and friends for many months. We even had to move out of our 2 bedroom apartment (we had signed the contract on it when we thought we were pregnant with one baby), and purchase our first humble home. 3 babies, 2 adults, and 1 cat just don’t fit into a tiny 2 bedroom apartment! Now, we have 5 wonderful children. Our last two pregnancies were both singletons, and we are blessed to have 3 boys and 2 girls total. The doctor had told us when we had triplets that since it was so rare, we would probably not have multiples again. I just thank God for our family. I certainly don’t deserve all He has given us. I am eternally grateful for my husband, my children, and all of my family! Thank you for letting me share our little story!

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