Sunday, August 10, 2014

A Family Outting :: The Greater Longview Delta Waterfowl Banquet

My husband and my eldest son are avid duck hunters, so when I discovered that our local chapter of the Delta Waterfowl Foundation was hosting a banquet this past Saturday, I just had to get tickets. Goodness, my guys were excited!

A national organization, Delta Waterfowl's mission includes sustaining habitats, supporting conservation, and promoting the sport of waterfowling. The group focuses on drawing youth into duck hunting through yearly programming and hands-on activities. In addition, Delta Waterfowl provides predator management, offers sustainability programs like Adopt-a-Pothole and Build a Hen House, and the Waterfowl Heritage Fund.

At the Greater Longview Waterfowl Banquet, attendees were greeted with logo camo ball caps and the opportunity to win several different types of prized packages, guns, live and silent auction items, as well as the general raffle items. Participants were encouraged to purchase raffle ticket packs and specialty drawings for duck hunter packages, deer hunter packages, mystery gun chances, and more. In addition, other games like Pluck-a-Duck were offered to further enhance the evening.

Youth in attendance were given a camo ball cap and an entry into the youth gun drawing. For any youth not winning one of twenty-five giveaway guns, they received a Buck Gardner duck call and a Hunter's Specialties camo bag. While my boys didn't win a gun, they were thrilled to have received all the of neat things presented to them by the chapter. My youngest especially loved his duck call!

After a catfish and chicken dinner, the silent auction wrapped up and the live auction began.  One of the cutest auction items happened to be a pedigree Labrador puppy with two months of training. He was adorable! We bid on a few items in the live auction, but they soon surpassed our budget. However, I did win a silent auction item and surprised my husband with it! All money raised from this event will go back out into the community to promote Delta Waterfowl's mission and help with the Wounded Warriors, as well as purchasing lifetime hunting licenses for future youth and college scholarships.

This was a well organized event and I highly recommend anyone looking for a great evening supporting a fabulous organization mark your calendars for next year! While you wait, be sure to become a member of Delta Waterfowl and enjoy all of the yearly programming and activities your chapter puts on. Our family is looking forward to becoming new members this year!

Act of Kindness :: Buckner International Shoe's for Orphan Souls

I believe, that whenever possible, we should help those who need help. Sometimes that may be in the form of monetary donations, hands-on services, emotional support, tangible items, or simply friendship. Anyone may need assistance at anytime - meals for a grieving family, donations for a medical necessity, helping fundraise for a variety of reasons, and even just lending an ear. We may give to our family, friends, community members or even complete strangers and non-profit organizations which champion a plethora of causes. I do believe whenever we are called to be thoughtful, caring, and supportive in our communities, we need to answer.

I oftentimes share acts of kindness with our homeschool group hoping to engage families and youth to be more community service minded; my boys are no exception. We routinely see a need and try to fill it or at least do our part to lessen someone else's burden. Our family really believes that helping others is a part of life.  

Earlier this month, I wanted to set up a shoe drive for Buckner International's Shoes for Orphan Soul's Ministry. This is a fabulous service project for groups to do together and I highly recommend starting one in your community. However, I found out two weeks ago that Buckner was collecting shoes for our community's impoverished children through our local Lifeway Christian Bookstore and Chick-fil-a, so I decided to rally the troops and give-back locally. Shoes from this donation would be supplied to the Junior League of Longview in their annual school supply drive where area youth would not only receive necessary school supplies, but also a uniform top, new shoes, and a hair cut.

Several of our homeschool families participated and I was completely pleased with their efforts! The boys and I did some shopping for our family and another and then delivered our purchases to Lifeway. While this was a simple monetary/tangible goods donation, my kiddos took careful time to select the shoes they thought would make a boy or girl happy to wear. They were careful to stay within our donation budget and visited many stores before finally making their purchase. Not only did this act of kindness help other children, it taught my boys how to be price conscience, how to stay within a budget, how to think of others, and how good it feels to help someone else.

What are some ways you encourage your children to be good stewards in their community? Do you have a favorite organization or activity you give to each year?

Friday, August 8, 2014

Grand Opening Celebration :: The Toy Place, Tyler, TX

Next Saturday, one of my favorite toy stores, The Toy Place, (formerly known as The Knowledge Nook of Longview) will be celebrating their Grand Opening in Tyler, Texas. Included in the festivities will be a photo opportunity with Elsa and Olaf, Frozen craft activities, toy demonstrations, prizes, give-aways and more! You don't want to miss welcoming the newest toy store to town!

Located in the same shopping center as Jason's Deli, Nothing Bundt Cakes, and Starbucks, The Toy Place aims to please! Owners Paul and Brenda Allegrezza will be on hand to meet and greet new customers. The Allegrezza family has been providing toys to children for the past nine years and is eager for The Toy Place to become a household name. The store offers thousands of products from the best manufacturers including LEGO(R), Ezyroller, Madame Alexander, Hape, and more.

Offering birthday and Christmas registries, free gift-wrapping and custom orders, The Toy Place should be your first stop for holidays, birthdays and random Tuesdays!

Location: 4905 S. Broadway Tyler, TX
Phone: 903.581.5100

Little Adventures of the Day to Day :: Harvesting Grapes in the Vineyard

Ever so often, I get the opportunity to check something off my Master List, otherwise known as the bucket list to most individuals. This week, I did exactly that!

One of my friend's recently moved to California, near our old stomping ground, and we've missed her family terribly! She sent me a message  earlier this week offering a chance to pick grapes at her vineyard since the fruit was ripe and there was no one to harvest. Of course, I squealed and immediately replied, "Yes, I would love too!"

Jake and I went out mid-week to check on the fruit and to see how it was faring with the birds and the Texas heat. The minute I stepped between the rows of vines, I no longer felt as if I were in East Texas, but somewhere magical and far away. There were no sounds except for the birds and bugs and whatever tromping noises my husband and I made as we walked through the grass. There was a slight breeze and the sun, while hot, was nice on my back as we clipped grape bunches from the vines.

The wine grapes were sweet orbs of glistening nectar beckoning me to pick more!

There is something soulful about completing a task you've always wanted to accomplish, but weren't quite sure when and where. I think I may have had a huge grin on my face the entire time I was in the vineyard. I appreciate the opportunity my friend offered me and I am thankful.


Sunday, August 3, 2014

Experimental Recipes :: Blue, Oh So Blueberry Muffins



3 Tablespoons of melted butter
1 Cup of milk
1 egg

1 Cup of all-purpose flour
1 Cup of cornmeal
1/2 Cup of sugar
3 Teaspoons baking powder
1 Teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 Teaspoon salt

1 Cup of blueberries, hand-picked are always better!

Let's Begin:

Heat your oven to 375 degrees F. Grease muffin pans or use parchment liners. I like to use non-stick spray.

Mix together all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Beat together the butter, milk, and egg in another bowl. Make a small well in the center of the dry ingredients and then, pour the wet ingredients into it. Using a large spoon, combine all the ingredients quickly by folding, until all ingredients are moistened. The batter should be lumpy and not smooth.

Spoon the batter into the muffin tins, filling each about two-thirds of the way fill.Bake for 20 minutes or until nicely browned. Let them rest for about 5 minutes before taking them out of their tins.


These are extremely quick & easy and can be prepared before the kids are ready for breakfast. My boys devour them in a matter of minutes, so I always have to hide a couple for myself! Enjoy!

Weekly Goals, Cinderella, a Lime Tree, and a Recap of Last Week!

Weekly Goals for 8/4/2014-8/10/2014

Summer Fun
  • An evening out with Jake - Here's hoping this week's date doesn't have us back in urgent care!
  • A movie break with friends
  • Crew Work Day for As You Like It***
  • Back to ArtsView for one more week of Cinderella! My eldest son got to play Prince Charming on Saturday for a photo shoot!
 *** For those who don't know, this Summer, I've directed our homeschool group's first annual Theatre in the Park performance of As You Like It. Many of our students performing have never had acting experience so I really wanted to bring the theatre to life for them. We have some seasoned players and our cast and crew span from 7 years to 16 years old. It has been a wonderful experience! This week, we're working on the finishing touches for the set for a performance at the end of August. ***
Around the House

  • Organize under the master bedroom sinks
  • Organize all the school supplies
  • Plant my new key lime tree ~ Isn't it adorable!!!
  • Hang photos 
  • Help boys select recipes for their cooking class - Italy is this month!
Planning - both of these are back on the list this week as I still have more to work on them before I can cross them off!

  • Homeschool book sale
  • Grand Opening for the Toy Place 
  • Continue Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv  
  • Begin The Language of Bees by Laurie R. King ~ I'm really excited to start this book! I've had it in my possession for a little while and I've been waiting for the perfect time to read it!
Just Me
  • Garden work
  • Study up on Soccer
  • Back to the Gym
  • Blog articles
  • Thirty-One schedule set for Fall   


Weekly Goals for 7/28/2014 - 8/3/2014

Summer Fun
  • Chase hot air balloons with my boys!  We had a lot of rain this week, so most of our ballooning was sparse this year!
  • Have a birthday party for the youngest : )  I always love birthday parties and this one was fantastic! I've never seen so many children play soccer for the first time and enjoy themselves so much!
  • Take a swim
  • Enjoy ArtsView's summer camp Cinderella! Last week was a busy week of costuming and prepping the set. This coming week, we will have some last minute items to finalize!
  • An evening out with Jake Not quite the evening out I had hoped for as we landed in the urgent care clinic on Monday for stitches...ugh!
Around the House
  • Dust....achoo!
  • Wash windows
  • Fertilize and prune the roses
  • Organize the garden cabinet
  • Strawberry Lemonade I didn't get too this one, this week!
  • Fresh Blueberry Muffins Sharing the recipe with you all!
  • Homeschool book sale
  • Grand Opening for my favorite toy store
         I've worked on both of the above goals last week, but they will carry over into this week as there is more to be done : ) 
  • Buckner International's Shoes for Orphan Soles drive
  • Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv
Just Me
  • Create an inventory/expense spreadsheet for my Thirty-One consulting
  • Work on blog articles
  • Hit the gym