Sunday, January 31, 2010

Update on "The List"

Earlier this month, I posted the following list of goals. I've made progress on some of them and am adding others. It's always fun to chronicle progress towards accomplishments, so the last day of each month I plan to do a reflection and update the status of each item on the list! Here's January's check!

1. Take a self-defense class: I've researched this, but haven't moved forward.

2. Pay off medical bills: TOTALLY FINISHED!

3. Go to Chicago: I've research this, but am not sure anyone else can go...don't want to go by myself, so we'll see what happens here.

4. Go skydiving: Mom may go with me! Wow! I've done the research and we'll see what happens with Mom's decision...

5. Take a course on gun safety, get a license to carry a gun and purchase one: This has been temporarily put off. a) It's pretty expensive b) Having a gun in home causes many conversations to happen...

6. Re-take the GRE (long story) and work HARD at completing my Master's degree: GRE has been taken and I'm set to graduate in December of this year! Whoo-hooo!

7. Go cash predominantly (I'm not sure cash only is even an option anymore): I'm currently practicing this one. It's going well, and I like it!

8. Go on a mission trip: I'm in communication to try to set one up for this summer. We'll see what the Lord has in store!

9. Plant things (I'm being vague on purpose) in my garden: Umm, it's winter time. Not really the time for planting... :)

10. Cook more regularly: I've been cooking each weekend and using those meals throughout the week. I cook some during the week too, but primarily on the weekend.

11. Figure out why my wifi doesn't work at home: Yeah, no.

12. Use everything in my pantry before going grocery shopping: If you've read the blog at all, you know I've been moving forward on this one! I'm allowing myself to buy perishables (meat, produce, dairy), but nothing else. It's been fun, challenging and a money-saver!

13. Re-read the Proverbs 31 woman study...focus hard on the character traits the Lord leads me too: I haven't started this one.

14. Meet Angie Smith: Going to Nashville is a possibility over Spring maybe.

15. Visit Crosspoint Church: If I go to Nashville over SB, then this is the plan.

16. Meet Brandi and Pete Wilson: See #14.

17. Meet the first few requirements in Dave Ramsey's list of 'acting your wage' (I'm using my own words here): Yep! :)

18. Pay off Television: Yep!

19. Work out more regularly: Yep!

20. Post more regularly: I've posted more this month than any month last year! I think that qualifies! :)

That's what I can think of right now. I added granted the three I added are ones I've already accomplished, but isn't that the fun of adding to a list? So you can mark them off? :) I may add more later!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Livesays

Tara and Troy Livesay have been living in Haiti for 4 years. They have brought in several doctors, nurses, PAs and other medical personnel since January 12. This is Tara's post from today.

No place for politics

Something very odd went down with unicef yesterday. We were instructed in writing to pick up patients from the Comfort ship. When our driver got there to get the people there were unicef vehicles taking them to some camp. The unicef folks were not talking, they were just large and in charge. I'd love to believe somebody just got their wires crossed, but I'm not so sure. Something smelled wrong about it. The Comfort ship went to the work of getting us patient names, details, lists and a time to come get them. Clearly they were unaware of what was about to happen.

The problem is, giant worldwide organizations have power, and they have policies. Giant organizations are so giant that they cannot see the forest for the trees and they cannot see the individual person with the individual situation. We all know power corrupts. The unicef we're seeing is not as interested in putting people/children first as it is in setting policy, precedent, and moving forward its own political agenda. I've watched people get up in arms and say that it is wrong to not support this long-standing and "worthy" organization. I recognize that will likely happen again here. We can easily agree to disagree if need be.

We're simply stating that the policies and procedures are a long way off from meeting real people where they are. (And things are not what they appear to be. Not at all.) The anti-adoption rhetoric is maddening. Kids abandoned to an orphanage by their birth parent PRE earthquake are now being held in Haiti thanks to pressure placed on the Haitian government by the giant and powerful unicef. It is asinine and lacks all logic.

We are all for legal, careful, smart adoption. None of us want to see children taken from a birthparent that wants to raise them. That would be a terrible thing. The fact is, unicef is openly anti-international-adoption and what is happening now is nothing more than political grand-staning and a massive power trip. And all at the expense of children with waiting and approved families abroad.

For more thoughts and a specific story, read this.

Large powerful organizations with money can "encourage" and "convince" and put the pressure on ... and a government in crisis will bend to the will of a single powerful organization.

Meanwhile, children and people in crisis are not being served, cared for, or respected.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Family and School

I went home last weekend for some good family time!

We went to Rockfish. I'd never been, but it's one of my parents' favorite restaurants. It was yummy!

Angela and Trudy

Mom and Dad

Angela is a Wii fanatic. She absolutely loves Wii Sports! She did this...

...most of the weekend! :)

Arisa and Kento are kids I tutor every Tuesday. I've tutored Arisa for 3 years and started tutoring Kento this year. I love them!

I started back to grad school this semester! I was reading before class yesterday and came across a little education humor!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Another recipe :)

I promise I won't only blog about recipes, though I know it's seemed that way lately.

I don't even have pics this time. Sorry! :(

I used my remaining pork tenderloin tonight and made a yummy dish that I can use for lunches this week.

I cut the pork tenderloin into 8 pork chops. Then I sprinkled one package of Knorr's Vegetable Dip seasoning on one side of the pork chops. I turned them over, careful to press the meat into the seasoning (because some fell off while turning.) Then I sprinkled one package of Knorr's Vegetable Dip seasoning on the other side. I baked them at 350 for 30 minutes. It was so flavorful! Very yummy!

I recommend it!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Help for Haiti

My heart has been absolutely broken for Haiti over the last week. The pictures are breathtaking and seem almost as if they cannot possibly be real.

photo: CNN

But they are.

All of them.

The stories that are coming through. The terror. The horror. The absolute destruction.

We throw words around in our culture today to the point that the meaning of those words has dulled.

Absolute Destruction.

I know many of us are having trouble with our own budgets. I know we have had to cut back and make changes in the way we live life.

photos: FoxNews

But we have a roof. Most of us own a car. We eat three meals a day. Our pantry and refrigerator are full and we have 20 restaurants within 5 minutes of our home.

My heart is burdened to go to Haiti. Right now they are asking only medical personnel to come. And I 100% understand and respect that. Right now, they need our prayers. And they need our funds.

Compassion International and the American Red Cross are two organizations that are well respected and make it oh, so easy to give. I urge you to dig deep and donate. Simply click on the links and follow the easy steps. It only takes a few minutes!
I chose to donate through Haiti relief via Compassion International because I sponsor a little boy there and feel ties with them already.

I've read other blogs and they're doing matches and giveaways of large amounts of money. I certainly don't have a blog audience of a large magnitude or the bank account to give a large amount of money. However, any amount of money helps.

For every comment left on this post, I will donate $1 to Compassion International specifically for Haiti relief. All you have to do is leave a comment.

Prayers are most definitely needed!

What a Weekend!

A weekend in pictures...with captions. (You didn't really think I could refrain from saying something, did you!?)

Julie's birthday was Friday! We did NOT serve this.

Umm, yeah. I messed up.

We did have a blast though!

I got a wine rack from my parents for Christmas. It was fun to fill it and then promptly empty it for Julie's party!

Saturday, I've already blogged about, so I'm not including any pics today. =)

Sunday morning dawned bright and early so I could go cheer on my friends!
I'd never gone to the marathon before, so made some rookie parking mistakes. I enjoyed watching this guy though as he ZOOMED by!

But eventually, I got where I was supposed to be. Way to go Melody and Julie!

Sunday night was quite emotional. Bill, my Bible Study teacher, read us a bit about a missionary's life from her blog. We're focusing on the Walk of Faith and going through Hebrews 11. This week we were talking about Joseph and Bill decided to read a little of a modern day Walk of Faith. It started off normal...just like our own life. A few entries in and we realized this was last week from a Haitian missionary. Many hearts were breaking in the room as all of us quickly figured out that this woman's life went from 'normal' to absolutely tilted on her world's axis in a matter of moments. That was at 5:15. At 6:30, our church service began and, as I'm sure most of you are aware, this Sunday was Sanctity of Life Sunday. As a believer in Jesus Christ, as a woman with a desire for children, as a sister to a woman with Down Syndrome, as a human being living life on this Earth, these statistics broke my heart. Did you know that 90% of pregnancies where Down Syndrome is diagnosed end in abortion? Did you know? There are so many more heart stopping numbers, but that is the one that branded itself into my brain and on my heart.

I knew of a Sanctity of Life March on Monday morning and decided to go.

I left about 12:00, because Melody found her car was officially totalled and she only had one more day of a paid rental car. We both had the day off work, so we went to three dealerships and test drove several cars. We then decided on one and Darrick met up with us to start the negotiating.

She left with this beauty!

And then I went home and crashed from a fun-filled weekend!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Call Me Goofy

I don't care if its silly, but I've really been having fun with my camera lately. Its still a point and click job, so its not the camera per se, but I'm still having fun!

I got a hair cut this morning!

I'd like to grow it out, so it was just a trim. I love, love, love my hairstylist. He's just great! He had to cut off enough to keep it healthy, so growing it out means going a little shorter right now, but I like it. =) (I took several silly pics in my car, but in the interest of self-preservation, I'm not including those =)

Here's a pic from last night to see a comparison.

Then I went to pick up my boots. The entire heel was about to come off the right boot and the little tips on the bottoms of both heels needed replaced. I've had them 8 years, so I definitely didn't mind $26 in maintenance! I LOVE these boots!

Have you ever tried dark chocolate covered cranberries? Yumm!

A pedicure was next on the stop for the day. I went with a color I've previously sworn I would NEVER try...

GREEN! (official nail polish color: electric eel)

Genesis and I went walking this afternoon. (This pic is from last week. I forgot to take one today.)

And then I came home and cooked! I'm keeping to my personal challenge and it's been fun! (Again, I know this is silly. I don't care. It makes me smile. =) And it's super stewardship!)

I had pork tenderloin in the freezer. I cut some of it into pork chops

and marinated it in Jack Daniels for about 20 minutes. (I'd prefer to do it longer, but this wasn't really preplanned, so I didn't have time.)

Then I sauteed onion and garlic in a light olive oil

before adding some beef broth and 2 cans of mushroom steak sauce.

I let it cook for about 5 minutes and then added a corn starch and water mixture to thicken. The pork chops went in next

and the final touch was a can of diced Italian style tomatoes. Just a little Italian seasoning for flavor and cook for about 25 minutes.

It was wonderful!

(PS: Now, I'm out of
Does my challenge include whiskey? Hmm...)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Show Us Your Life: Diets, Exercise Programs, Weight Loss

Kelly at KellysKorner (see blog list in right hand tool bar) does a Show Us Your Life post every Friday. Last week's was New Year's Resolutions. This week's is Diets, Exercise Programs and Weight Loss. I'm certainly no expert and I've gotten off the wagon the same number of times I've climbed ONTO that wagon, but this is what I TRY to stick to. OK, OK. This is what I know I SHOULD stick to. Some days I do better than others. :)

Weight Loss is divided into 2 categories: Food and Exercise

So I'll break my post into those 2 categories. Then I'm including a YUMMY recipe. I don't have any pics on my work computer, but may be able to add one (some) when I get home.

Food stuff:

~25% of your daily caloric intake should be at breakfast
~50% of your daily caloric intake should be at lunch
~25% of your daily calorie intake should be at dinner


~No rice, no refried beans, no flour tortillas, and ABSOLUTELY no chips.

~You need a high amount of protein. The total grams needed is decided based on your BMI.

~If you're going to drink, stay with red wine, white wine has more sugar. Margaritas are almost entirely sugar. If you're going to 'splurge' and have a margarita, do it before 3pm!

~Eat every 3 hours. Try to have some kind of protein for your snacks...(nuts, light cheeses, yogurt)

Exercise Stuff:

~The best time to work out is first thing of a morning, on an empty stomach. Do 20min of cardio, then drink a tall glass of water with lime or lemon squeezed in it. Then eat breakfast (a really good breakfast is oatmeal and two egg whites. I hard boil several eggs at once, then peel two as I need them) A really good cardio workout is jumping rope (It's HARD! I can't do it for twenty minutes yet...but I'm working up to it!!!)

~Work out 5-6 days a week. two days with weights and cardio, three days of just cardio (at least)

~Crunches can be everyday! (there are all different types of crunches, you want to work your lower abs, your obliques and your upper abs in each ab routine....the whole routine can be just five minutes)


Some food tips...

~buffalo burgers are really good, really high in protein and taste a lot like beef (and can be found at most burger chains...Fuddruckers has them, etc.)

~I have an absolutely delicious vegetarian chili recipe that I'm including below. The first time I heard about it, I wrinkled my nose. I promise, it's really good!! (Men and women I've served it too all rave about it!)

Are you familiar with Which Wich? (a sandwich restaurant) They have really good vegetarian sandwiches. I get the one with a black bean patty and add salsa for my 'dressing' and lettuce and's delish!

I'm not the 'vegetarian' type of eater, but really and truly these meals are good...and if I can enjoy eating the food and it's healthier for me, then I'm all for it!

~ Snacks:
Yoplait light yogurt
light baby bel cheese (they're round and covered in wax, found with the sliced cheeses/cream cheeses in the grocery store)

~The key is preparation! I cook on Saturdays or Sundays for lunches for the week. Fish is a really good meat, a good source of protein, too! You can buy frozen fish fillets at Kroger or HEB (At mine, they're in the freezers directly beside the meat department, not with the other freezers where the ice cream and frozen meals are found) They're super easy to bake and taste great warmed up!

~Fresh spinach is yummy. I buy two big bags of it (found with the bagged salads) wash the spinach in cold water (basically, just dump the bags in a sinkful of water and swish) then pick up the leaves with your hands, let most of the water drain off and stick it in a dutch oven. Put the lid on and make sure its sealed; then cook with just the water on the leaves! The spinach steams this way. and only takes maybe ten-fifteen minutes!

~Sweet potatoes are one of the best vegetables, high in all the nutritional value, but low in all the bad stuff HOWEVER it is still best to eat before 3pm!

~If I'm not doing fish, I'll cook chicken in a skillet on the stove, choose a seasoning (I like basil/oregano) and brown the chicken. Then I'll have it for lunches served on a bed of spinach with a sweet potato. If i don't have spinach, I'll do asparagus.

~Best vegetables:
cauliflower (um, I don't eat this)
sweet potatoes
black eyed peas
red/yellow/orange/green bell peppers (R/Y/O are really expensive and I don't like I don't do much of these)

OK, that's what i can think of for right now.

Vegetarian Chili Recipe
2 T canola or olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium celery stalk, chopped
1 medium carrot, chopped
2 garlic gloves, minced
2 cups whole kernel corn
3 (15 oz) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15 oz) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
2 (14 oz) cans diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (10 oz) can Ro-tel, undrained
1 cup medium salsa
1/2 cup ketchup
1 (14 oz) can reduced sodium vegetable broth
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1 (1 oz) package chili seasoning
1 t chili powder
1 t ground cumin
1/4 t paprika

Heat oil in a stockpot over medium heat. Add onion, celery, carrot and garlic; cook until onion is translucent, about 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Increase heat to high, add remaining ingredients.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, stirring frequently, until vegetables are tender and flavors are blended, about 40 minutes.

Flavors improve if the chili is refrigerated overnight. It also freezes well!

(My own tips: I don't put in carrots or kidney beans. I let simmer a little longer, but keep it on low instead of medium. I like corn, so I put in a little more than 2 cups. I usually do 2-3 stalks of celery.)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

In prayer

Pete Wilson is a man I greatly admire. I've never met him, but I read his blog and occasionally listen to his sermons.

He writes this post about the tragedy in Haiti.

Let's get on our knees and pray.

Let's also stand up and go! I've been desiring to serve God through missions for awhile now and have lately been praying for Him to make a place known. Right now Haiti is screaming for help. They need help now. They need help six months from now. They will still need help in a year. Lord, stear us in the path You would have us to go!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Not for Sale

Amy wrote an excellent post about human trafficking. Did you know all these statistics?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Thank You, God!

Do you ever feel like you're wrapped up in a ball of yarn and someone keeps rolling so you get even more tangled up? Then all of a sudden, a pair of scissors appears and cuts through everything and you're free!!!!

That's what happened to me today.

Let me back up. (Just a bit..."Concise, Alyssa. Be concise!")

Dec. 21 I found out I had to reapply for grad school, that the deadline to apply was back in October, there's a SLIGHT possibility the dean will sign it this late and that my previous GRE scores were no longer valid. My advisor emails me the application that is required.

Last Monday, I registered to take the GRE.

Saturday, I took it and improved my scores!

Monday, I have an appointment with my advisor to take my application in to her.

Sunday night, I go to my files to pull out a copy of my transcript from OBU. Umm, I don't have one.

Monday morning, I fax in a request for an official transcript to be mailed straight to UH and an unofficial one to be faxed to me immediately. I don't receive it in time to go to my advisor, so I reschedule for Tuesday.

Monday night, I remember there's an application fee and realize I am ALL OUT OF CHECKS! Yikes! I order new checks, but they take 10 days to arrive.

Okay, so we're caught up to today.

I talk with a co-worker and she offers to write the check for me. I get online to see the app fee and realize I also need 3 letters of recommendation, a resume, a 1-3 page Goal Statement along with appropriate cover letters for all. Umm, yeah. At 1:30 I find all this out! (Did I mention my principal is out sick and another admin is home with a sick child? 3 letters of rec? Oh, sure! Do you see the ball getting more tangled up?)

At 4:00, I leave school with all paperwork in hand. (A few strands of the yarn have been cut through at this point.) Mind you, I'm supposed to meet with my advisor at 4:00 and it's approximately a 45 minute drive. I'm also supposed to be privately tutoring close to school by 5:00, then tutor another student at 6:45.

Oh, but there's more.

I call the 6:45 student to reschedule for tomorrow because he's a 1st grader and we really can't bump it back any later, because a 6 year old can only stay up so late. At this point, I realize I programmed the number incorrectly in my phone. Our school phone system is not working so I can't call them. I try to walk my mom through logging in to my email account, but my fingers remember the passwords better than my brain and I gave her the wrong one...over and over and over that didn't work. I finally get a hold of another teacher who looks up the phone number and I call and reschedule.

I make it to UH at 4:45 and my advisor looks at NOTHING but my GRE scores and we walk down to another office for a person to click through a few screens on her computer and say 'yep, it's doable.' (WHOOO-HOOOO! Thank you Lord! Those yarn pieces are being snipped at about now!) And we select 3 classes for me to take. That's 9 hours and I'd been a little leery of that, but at the same time I really want to finish this degree and 9 hours this semester is necessary to be able to graduate in December.

Are you ready for God's grand finale?

Two of the three classes I'm going to take this semester are being offered to only one other student due to Special Arrangements and we're only going to meet every other week for approximately 30 minutes per session! Seriously! How great is that!?

Not only do I learn a lot, work on independent study assignments, drive across town less often and build a rapport with MY ADVISOR because she is the professor in BOTH of those two special classes, but I also get to keep ALL of my private tutoring students which is FANTASTIC for the extra income it provides. I had been scared to even pray for the tutoring aspect, just assuming there was no way and obviously hadn't even THOUGHT of this arrangement, but GOD did it ALL!

Praise Him! I got in the elevator and did a private little dance and squeal that the other elevator inhabitant was privy too. We laughed and I took a huge sigh of relief as I felt all those yarn pieces break away. Thank you LORD!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Holding to my Personal Challenge

Keeping with this post, I am only cooking things that I have on hand. I am allowing myself to go to the grocery store for perishable items only: meat, bread, vegetables, milk. I am not allowing myself to purchase canned goods, boxed goods, bags, etc.


Because I have a pantry full of perfectly good food and I need to use it! My thinking is that this will be cost effective and pretty much Proverbs 31 woman. (Yeah, I just thought of that last part...but it's true!) I don't need to go off a recipe where I need five or ten things when I could simply make something else for which I already have everything!

Case in point: I texted Julie on Thursday to see if she wanted to come over for some tortilla soup. It was leftovers, but we're close enough friends I was okay with that and it was a cold day so soup was definitely a good option. However, I didn't have any chips. You have to have chips with tortilla soup! So the thought of running to the store flits through my mind. "Wait! You have crackers and sliced bread. You could make toast. You do NOT need to go to the store."

Now, it turned out Julie didn't come over that night, but I did eat tortilla soup for dinner. I tore a slice of bread into little pieces and put it in my bowl of soup. It was really good!

Tonight, I made some pasta for dinner and lunches for next week.

I used green onions, bell pepper and garlic. Added some white wine, cream of mushroom and cream of celery soup. Let it simmer while the pasta was coming to a boil. Then combined it all together and added a little marinara. It was great!

Earlier today, I had washed a carton of strawberries and blackberries. I don't usually combine those fruits, but decided to do so today. I sprinkled a little sugar on top and put them back in the fridge to chill and to give the strawberries time to masticulate in their juices.

Voila! Dinner! :)

Out with the Old...

My washing machine quit working awhile back. Aaron looked at it and was pretty sure it was the motor, so Jill called Sears. It was going to be two weeks before they could come out, which wasn't as bad as it sounds because I was just a week away from going home for I could do laundry there.

The Sears repairman was supposed to come between 10 and 2 on Dec 29, so I left my parents' house at 5:30am in Plano to make it to Houston in time for the beginning of the window. We all know repairmen's reputation...usually late? But sometimes they're early...which means not in the window. Either way, I wanted to be there. I arrived home, unloaded my car (a feat unto itself) and began unpacking, sorting, taking down Christmas, putting away packages I'd bought in 'day after' sales, etc.

At 3:30, he finally shows up. His comments? You were scheduled for 3:30, so I'm right on time. Yeah, well...

After he fiddled with it and looked around, he decided the machine needed a new transmission and motor (Aaron was right!) and it wouldn't be cost effective to fix it.

The little green sticker means "Replace me, please!"

The Sears man said, "They'll call you in 2-3 days and ask you what store you're closest to and then you can go pick one out." Jill and I are the efficient type though, you see :) She said, "Why do we have to wait for them to call us before we can go pick one out?"

So a few days later, I have a new washing machine! It's a little bigger and that caused a little problem at first, because the lid couldn't stay up by itself and the machine rocked into the dryer's frame when it reached the wash and spin cycle, thus creating lots of noise! So, you definitely didn't want to be here when it was washing! Jill and Aaron left a little while ago having taken the dryer down (Yikes!) and adjusting the frame and then pushing the washer back and putting the dryer back up.

Bottomline, I have a new washer!


Thursday, January 07, 2010


I'm taking the GRE on Saturday. Long story short: I was in grad school. I took time off. I have to reapply. My former GRE scores are too old. I have to retake it. (LJ, how's that for concise!?) :)

I signed up for the test on Monday and immediately downloaded some free practice software. I went straight to the math practice, since that is where I would need the most help. I started reading from the screen and quickly decided to print it out. It was 69 pages. Since it's been a few years since I needed to know the necessary formulas for finding the shaded area of a circle with a triangle inside it, or anything else about triangles for that matter...

...let's just say I've spent some time brushing up.

I would work some problems and then go to a co-worker when I didn't know how to precede. I made it to Edie, Barbara, Mary, Kari and Cindy. Yep. This is going to be a group effort!
I can't just memorize formulas. I have to understand where the formula came from and how to use it and why to use it and the application of it. Which means I ask lots of questions! :) And use lots of scratch paper!

About 5:45 last night, I decided to take today off. My kids were taking a practice TAKS test today, so it was an okay day to miss. I went up to church, found a conference room in the library and spread out my things.

I completed those 69 pages and moved on to a GRE book that Arshunda let me have. :) I still need to review for the reading and writing section, but I'm feeling pretty good about the test overall.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Drum Roll, Please!!

Dun, Dun, Dun, Dun DUN!!!!!!!!

I just wrote the last check to pay my last medical bill! I am TOTALLY finished!


Monday, January 04, 2010

Another Step in Patio Progress

Tom came over on Tuesday to help me cut down the last part of the tree. Well, when I say help I really mean he came over and used manly tools and did it all by himself while I watched. Sadly, I didn't have my camera so no pictures, but here's a before, middle and after. :)

This is the patio not long after I moved in. The tree in question today is the one on the far right, by the fence, that looks a lot like a bush, but is, in fact, a tree. :)

I used pruning shears and a saw to cut down as much of it as I could. I was able to get all of it, but this. The picture does not do the stump justice. It's about 24" tall and about 6" in diameter. The roots were pretty deep, too. Tom tried a shovel at first and decided a pick axe was needed, but it took some time for us to gain access of one of those.

We had to dig up the cast iron plants and move them out of the way, but put them back once the trunk was gone. There is a tall tree right outside my back fence and it's difficult to keep up with the effects of Fall (especially if you just don't even try for a few weeks...ahem.) So please excuse the leaves!

Seeing as how we're in winter and it's supposed to hit 29 tonight, I definitely don't plan to plant anything in the very near future. I am excited though that my garden is now ready for me! :) I do plan to get some pretty rocks and start with preparing various areas for future planting. I haven't decided what to plant. Flowers? Bushes? Groundcover? Herbs? I've done some research and want some color, but haven't made any firm decisions yet.