Welcome to our adventures. I try as best as I can to document the happenings here in our family - everything from the shenanigans to the spiritual, from the kid to the kitchen, from the cat to the catastrophes. We believe that adventure can be found in everything we do...even in the mundane tasks of the day. When we set our minds on things above in gratitude to God, we find the strength to approach life with a sense of purpose & adventure. The adventure may not always be what we have planned...but isn't that what adventure is all about?

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Greetings fellow Americans (and those of you from faraway places like Burma, Turku, Surabaya and Petah Tiqwa that manage to randomly access my page through Bloggers "next blog" functionality).

I thought this would be an appropriate Thanksgiving post picture, don't you? It has absolutely nothing to do with my post (neither does my title for that matter). But hey, sometimes it's ok to just go a little coo-coo crazy, right?

I've stopped a few times during the day to ponder what I would post in celebration of the Thanksgiving holiday. I had a nice little list all lined up of all the things that I'm thankful for in my life...the same things that alot of you are thankful for as well, I'm sure. But, ahhh...I grow weary of being so predictable.

Sometimes I get uncomfortable in the comfort of my blessings (yes, brace yourself people, it's going to be one of those posts). Please understand - I don't want to diminish the things that I'm thankful for...they are gifts to me from the providential hand of my Heavenly Father. But it is possible to practice and experience thankfulness while being aware of those in this world that suffer more than we could possibly comprehend. Sometimes it's in that awareness that we come to more fully appreciate the real treasures in our life.

Recently I came across a book - the reading of which brought tears to my eyes and shame to my soul. Tears, because I saw pictures and read of the suffering and oppression of a people group. Shame, because I knew so little about it even though it has been going on for years. I had my excuses for not knowing...but once you know something, you are responsible for how you handle the knowledge. Isn't that what they mean by "knowledge is power"? Maybe I'm wrong, but the way I see it is...when you know something, it can have the POWER to change you.

I'm not here to give you a history lesson, a sermon or a "talkin' to" (maybe you'd disagree). But if this one gal from Middle Tennessee could possibly lead one person to be slightly more aware then they were before, then I will have exceeded my goal for this post. Maybe I should have higher expectations...maybe I should expect that every single person reading this post would take 15 minutes to step away from the turkey and get outside their comfort zone to think about something not so comfortable. Hmmm...

The book I've referred to is entitled, "Voices of Sudan". The following quote comes from "Collective Lens", a blog that promotes social change through photos.

Published in 2007, David Johnson’s Voices of Sudan portrays the daily life of the victims of the ongoing Genocide in Darfur. While visiting the Darfur region, Johnson took a large number of photos, and when he returned home to the United States he was motivated to help the situation. “I told myself, ‘I must do something with these photographs,’ and that something turned into this book. I pray that this book helps to restore a voice to the Sudanese by causing two things to happen: people will be informed and hearts will be provoked to reach out and help the Sudanese.”

Here is a short video that details the book:

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This article gives a background on the Darfur Genocide.

Human Rights Watch has a good section on its website highlighting Darfur. The video on this link has some stirring images and information.

This .PDF file is heartbreaking. It contains drawings by children of Darfur, as well as background on the drawings.

In addition to the atrocities that are occurring there in the Sudan, there are serious problems arising from the refugees that are fleeing the country. Click here for a video from CBN that highlights that.

The International Christian Embassy, Jerusalem (ICEJ) is addressing the Sudanese refugee situation through a program entitled, "Operation Hope".

It was an ICEJ table during my lunch break one day that I found the "Voices of Sudan" book. It was at that table where I shed tears and promised myself to be more aware of things outside of my little world.

Our precious children could sit by pumpkins with their angelic smiles and grow up never knowing the true wealth of the lives they lead. We can make our lists of blessings for our blog, groceries for our feasts, to-do's and to-don'ts...never considering the oppression and suffering that occur beyond the four walls of our thoughtfully decorated homes.

Knowledge is power.
Monday, November 24, 2008
I confess that I don't know much about the group behind this video ("Advent Conspiracy") - but I can't argue with their message for this Christmas season:

So what do you think??

I'm taking G.I. Joe with the Kung Fu grip back to the store...

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Dear TAOCA Readers...I have a special treat for you today. Here with us in the studio is Mike Amaro. Mike (who has blogging privileges here any time he pleases) picks and chooses his blogging appearances very carefully so as to make the most impact. It's always a pleasure to have him...please help me welcome him to the posting position...........MIKE AMARO!

Just last week, I noticed that our pantry's cereal supply was at a dangerously low level. We're talking two boxes of Cheerios, one box of Kashi, and one box of Smart Start. I half-expected an alarm to go off along with a bright flashing red light when I ventured into the pantry and made this ghastly discovery. Fortunately, our stockpiling shenanigans have not progressed to that level.

You have to understand something about the cereal situation here at Club Amaro. On any given day, there will be two boxes of cereal that are open and available for breakfast consumption. One of those is usually a box of Cheerios. The other is something other than Cheerios. Call it the "Cereal Special of the Week". This week, it has been Smart Start, one of my personal favorites. I'm one of those people that just can't eat Cheerios and milk, I gotta have a bit of sugar in there. To that end, Smart Start fits the bill nicely. Cheerios and Smart Start, a neat little cereal combo.

Now, being married to the Great Coupon Master, I've learned a thing or two about the coupon business. Rule #1: when you are running low on a particular item, report this immediately to the Chief Shopper (who also happens to be the Great Coupon Master). Or, write it on the dry-erase board if the CS is not within earshot. The CS will begin looking for the right sale to match up with the right coupon(s). Which leads to rule #2: Never, never, never, buy a box of cereal without some sort of coupon and/or BOGO offer.

"Kristin, we're down to four boxes of cereal. Do you have any coupons for cereal?" I'm thinking to myself, "Whoa? Where did that come from? Did I just say "coupons?" But I have lived with, trained alongside, and learned from the Great Coupon Master. I have come to appreciate the Way of the Great Coupon Master. And all of the lessons she has taught me will not fail me in this, the hour of my great need for Cheerios and some other box of non-Cheerios.

Fast forward to last night...the Great Coupon Master has located two coupons for Just Bunches. Each coupon is two bucks off one box. Score! But wait, it gets better because Publix just happens to have a BOGO sale on...you got it - Just Bunches! Double score! And to top it off, the Great Coupon Master has tasked me to make a quick run to the store to pick up the cereal because the coupons are about to expire.

Talk about pressure! I've got to make sure I get this one right. Fortunately, this is about as close to a coupon slam dunk as one can get. Surely I can't flub this one up. I go to Publix, pick out three boxes of Just Bunches, and make sure to present the two coupons to the checker lady. Imagine my delight when she tells me, "That'll be $2.32 - you saved $9.82, not bad!" Yes, there's a special satisfaction one gets when the checker lady herself congratulates you on your coupon prowess.

Which leads me to Rule #3: make sure to blog about your savings and if at all possible, include a picture. I even figured out how to do that. I think I just made The Great Coupon Master proud.
Yeah, that's right folks, I'm officially a Coupon Commando.

Peace, BOGOs, and Just Bunches,

SECRET MESSAGE: I'll see you on the 15th!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

a digitally altered rendition of my favorite neighborhood tree

As with anything in life, those things that mean so much to us usually come with a price. Although I'm still finding myself awed by the beauty of my fall tree colors, winter is knocking, coming to steal my lovely greens, golds, oranges and reds. He is not waiting for me to get my fill of trees teeming with beautiful leaves...AT ALL. The yellowing grass is taking each leaf prisoner. Branches are making themselves highly visible. No longer hidden, they are proudly displaying their barrenness. All these things are signs of the upcoming season...one that this San Diego native is not ready to embrace. I want my trees back.

15 years in the Bay Area only slightly prepared me for the dirty little secret that Middle Tennessee would reveal to me today. Now those of you from places like Chicago, Buffalo and North Dakota will probably laugh at me (as soon as I can get to my point). And those of you reading from my hometown may wag your finger at me and say, "told ya so". And that's ok. I love my location...even with its dirty little secret.

So what's the secret? What's the price I'm paying for my trees? It's 19 degrees outside right now, people. Yeah. That's not a typo. 19, Nineteen, NINE + TEN, TWENTY - ONE.

The last two days it's never gotten above 42ish, I think. This is a whole new reality for me. One that involves socks, mittens, scarves and I may even have to break down and buy some ear muffs. I hear you people from the Midwest laughing...just keep making fun of the San Diego native girl...you'll get yours...just wait.

Ahhhh...but those trees. Those trees would never turn if it wasn't for that crisp fall air. There's a price to pay...as there is for most things that are worth anything. The key is finding contentment where you are, whatever price you're paying.

The apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the Philippians, "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength." Now I don't know if Paul had a winter scarf or not, but I still find inspiration - and challenge - in this verse.

Am I content in any and every situation? Are you? Just a little something to ponder while I'm waiting for my electric blanket to pre-heat.

love & mittens,

ps: the image for today's post is a digitally altered version of one from my tree photo shoot. My friend Julie over at The Land of Lost Luggage has inspired me (and given me a homework assignment to boot!) with her digital alterations and mixed media art. This is my first attempt - and, maybe not up your alley - but I kinda dig it. Wanted to share it with my peeps.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Today Abby woke up with bacterial conjunctivitis...that's doc talk for Pink Eye. Poor thing - she was not happy. We actually went to the clinic (her Pediatrician was closed for the day) and the doctor prescribed some antibiotic eye drops. She is not a fan of the drops and - oh goody - I get to give them to her. Four times a day for the next seven days. Calgon, take me away!

Well, instead of Calgon we did Cat Head. Cat Head Biscuits, that is.

Grandpapa turned us on to the Cat Head concept many moons ago when he would refer to Grandmama's cat (Miss Ellie) as "Cat Head Biscuit" Come to find out, CHB's are biscuits that are about the size of a nice little cat head (clever, huh?). Who wants to bother with actually rolling out dough and making circles...how BORING!! Cat Heads rule. And you gotta have them with a nice pat a butt-uh - and of course, Jelly (just like Grandpapa).

It was cold, cold, cold and rainy today - a perfect afternoon for makin' messy in the kitchen.

Before we could start, we had to get all our ingredients together.

2 1/4 cup self-rising flour
1 1/3 cup buttermilk (you can use regular)
1/4 cup oil

And, about 1 or 2 Tablespoons butt-uh to melt and rub around the skeelit. Pre-heat oven to 3 Fiddy (that's 350 for those of you not in my language world).

my soux chef and eager taste tester await the results

Mix your stuff.

Knead your business.

Divide into 8 little cat heads and put them in the buttered up skillet. Note: CHB's taste SIGNIFICANTLY better if cooked in your NaNa's hand-me-down-seasoned-to-perfection skillet. Ah yeah.

Stick those bad boys in the oven (350 degrees) and bake for 25 minutes. After they are done, brush the tops with a little butter and hit it up in the broiler for 1-2 minutes.

And you got yourself some nice little cat heads...

And now comes the good part:

Hope you get you some Cat Heads soon.

love and a pat a butt-uh,


SECRET MESSAGE: Happy Birthday, smell my feet!
Thursday, November 13, 2008

This picture has absolutely nothing to do with anything I'm about to write, but how cute are these tights, huh? If they made a pair my size I would totally wear them.

Actually, I really don't have anything to write. I just wanted to post that picture of my darling offspring.

But, since I'm here, I may as well dedicate my post to a man affectionately known in this house as, Grandpa Harv. Today is Grandpa Harv's birthday. So in honor of you and your birthday, Harv, I'm calling this post "Trout and Pancakes".

And you people who just read that and went, "eeeewwwwwwuuu....YUCK!" you have NO idea what you're missing. This family loves Trout and Pancakes and we MISS them dearly, as well as those we shared it with.

Not only that, but Abby loves to eat the eyeballs...don't mess with the eyeballs...she will fight you over the eyeballs (just ask Uncle Mookie).

love & cute tights,

SECRET MESSAGE: Happy Birthday, old man!
Monday, November 10, 2008

Yesterday the fam decided that gas prices being what they are ($1.94/gallon at last fill up) that we could afford to take a nice long drive and explore outside the city limits. We drove south and were delighted at the colors we saw on the freeway alone! I know, I know - shut up already about the colors. It's who I am, love me or don't.

We ended up in this town called Sewanee which is home to the University of the South. Now I have never been back east during the fall, or visited some of the historical colleges that exist. I'm sure those places are breath taking many times over. But I was in awe of this campus! Most all the buildings were done in stone. Of course, there were trees galore to provide a stark contrast to the drab colors of the buildings.

To add to the feel of the day, it was VERY chilly and overcast...I would say about 42 degrees or so. The kind of day that makes you want to curl up by the fireplace with a cup of joe.

Of course in our little 2003 Camry there is no fireplace and no cups of joe...but, there is silliness (ALOT of silliness) and a temperature control. That works for me. This is a picture of my 2 people making silly in the car after lunch. Oh this is just the tip of the ice berg...I can't explain it - it's only something that can be experienced.

For more pictures of our Sewanee Adventure, check out the Dropshots

On another, more money saving note...

Are you tired of this? Please feel free to leave anonymous comments telling me to jam it. But I tell you I love shouting about my deals from the mountaintop of my blog. Here is a shot of today's booty-licious CVS deal. It includes:

* 1 bottle of StIves Mineral Therapy Body Wash
* 1 can of Garnier Fructis Hairspray (Anti-humidity, to keep the 'fro tame)
* 1 bottle of Palmolive w/ Oxy
* 2 bottles of Colgate Total Whitening
* 1 tube of Rimmel mascara.

I had coupons for each item. I paid $4.01 out of pocket and got $10 back.


Someday I may post a picture of my hall closet which boasts labeled bins containing neat stacks of my stockpiled booty. Yes, I know. Organization. It's a sickness, really.

love & Sewaneeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!


SECRET MESSAGE: Happy Birthday!!
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Mike took Abby to her first football game. The Blue Raiders of MTSU played the ULM (that would be the University of Louisiana MONROE!!) Warhawks. Ahem...the Blue Raiders won.

Abby & Mike joined M, B & K for a kind of father/daughter day...Mom got to stay at home and troubleshoot an application issue resulting from a server migration. YEE HAW!

Abby enjoyed the game alot (she ran into 2 other of her friends from school). It was fun listening to her recap the game. It was even more fun asking her what something was called to see what she would say. "The baseball player would run with the ball and get a home run"

Friday, November 7, 2008
Listen...can you hear it??....what's that noise??

It's the gentle sounds of my brand new Trader Joes grocery cart rolling through the freshly waxed aisles as I pick up cheap, kitschy, specialty items from the shelves.

Nashville TJ's is open....


Now we'll see if I can shop TJ's without waking the sleeping tiger that is my coupon conscience.


love & a bag of Pirate's Booty,


SECRET MESSAGE: Can we please watch Adaptation....???
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Today I decided to take a drive around town and photograph trees.

I know that I spent way too much time recently talking about how much I love, love, love fall. Well, I think my "full blown love affair" with fall has turned into psychotic, maddening obsession. The reason is the trees, man. THE TREES!!!! I've almost got into 23 accidents on the road because I CAN'T STOP LOOKING AT THE TREES!

The bursts of color that my eyes are seeing right now are making me crazy. The reds, the oranges, the yellows, the maroons and yes, even the greens. I can't decide which I favor. Sometimes, I like me a nice solid colored tree...just standing by itself.

But then there's the mutiny color pattern...that's where MOST of the tree is a solid color except for one little area that's decided to go off and change into a different color.

I saw one today that was full-on yellow - there was the one part that was burnt red....it just made me crazy. I couldn't take a picture of it either because there was nowhere for me to stop the car. Believe me, if there was even a piece of gravel that I could have pulled over onto to get the picture, I would have (as it was, I took my life into my own hands getting some of my pictures from today). Later on in my photo shoot, I just started sticking my camera out the window while driving in an attempt to capture some trees that were not quite on my path.

After I got home from my photo shoot, I took a few pics of trees on our property. An older gentleman was walking the hood and we started chatting. I felt the need to explain to him what I was doing standing in the street taking pictures of trees. He told me that he has lived here all his life and that if I loved what I was seeing now, just wait. "This ain't nuthin'" he said. WHA? I don't know if I can take more color. I wish that I already had my new big girl camera...

Back in the comfort of Club Amaro, I found myself gazing out the kitchen window. One of my backyard trees is just starting to pop...now I may actually have to start doing some dishes so I can stare at it.

It was nice to have a little time to take in some nature and not have to think about red or blue or Rock O. Bama (how Abby says his name). I hope you are finding your own way to get a little peace from the craziness of this election season.

Feel free to check out Dropshots for more of my tree pics.

Love & a nice red orange yellow maroon green tree,


SECRET MESSAGE: Juss tell me when da numbah seven come by.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
It's been awhile since I've gone Coupon Commando on the blog, so I thought I'd post a quickie. I'm not so thrilled with this CVS excursion because it was rushed. I realized this afternoon that one of my $10 ECB's was going to expire today. YIKES!

Below is a picture of my booty from this evenings trip. I got all the stuff you see below for FREE, plus I made 50 cents. Actually, tomorrow I can change the 50 cents to $5.50. Reason being, I misread the candy deal and got the wrong bars - I will exchange them tomorrow for the correct ones (they are the same price) and then get my $5 ECB's back.

Don't freak out - I'm not keeping the candy...

Free stuff rules.

Love & Hershey's