Monday, March 30, 2009

Don't throw that away!

Being on a budget (UGH!) you learn to look at things differently. And I am looking at things very differently.

Before we were on a budget, I could open the fridge and see container after container of leftover food. And on trash day, container after container would be dumped in the trash. No lie, one week there was 13 containers to be thrown away. Not good.

Now I look at how can this be used again viewpoint. We used to not eat the two pieces of bread at each end of the loaf. Chuck didn't care for the heel and the one next to it was too stale, so 4 slices got thrown away with every loaf. Not anymore. Those pieces work good for toast. No complaints either, hmm, makes me wonder.

Well, I made sauce the other day with sausage in it. Turns out a pound of Italian sausage was too much for the amount of sauce I had. Ok, cool it off, bag it up, freeze it for another meal.

I had made way too much meat sauce for dinner one night. Generally I would put it in the fridge, forget about it and end up throwing it out. Not this time, cool it off, bag it up and freeze it. And I needed it for dinner one night. Perfect

I made meatballs for dinner one night last week. I only had enough meat for about 1 meal of meatballs. Most likely with spaghetti or sub sandwiches. Well, Chuck and I headed out and went to Save-a-lot and found French Bread. That works, and for $1.29 it was cheaper than buying rolls that will sit in the cabinet and get moldy. So, we had dinner one night, and turns out that Chuck and PJ had dinner the next night. Eric and I were too sick to even think about eating. French bread, meatballs and whatever cheese they could find, and dinner.

I am learning as I am going along. I hate being on a budget, but I don't buy more than what we need. Eric gets about 6 slices of roast beef for lunch, I bought provolone for cheesesteaks the other day, 6 slices of that is so much cheaper than the 18 slices in the dairy. And I already had the cheese for the week, so why buy too much.

I find myself more at UGO (United Grocery Outlet) or Save-a-lot shopping. There are some things that are sacred and we have to buy name brand. But there are some things that store brand will work just fine. I compare prices everywhere and even buy the Sunday paper at the $1 store, I save .35 each week on that.

But more than anything I find myself looking at the dinners that I make. Making sure if there are leftovers that either the boys take it for their lunch or we have it for our lunch some time over the next few days. I notice that I don't over buy on things. Unless they are buy one get one free.

I make a list every week and stick to it like glue. So, in the long run groceries cost about $75 a week. Nothing gets thrown away anymore either.

Watching every penny is not easy, but it is worth it.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Making some more changes

My dad has written a book and I am proofing it for him. It is one of those healthy eating type books, you know, the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat type book. It isn't too bad, very informative. Although I don't agree with all that it is in there, I don't have to, I did agree on one of the things he mentioned.

When we go shopping, it is best to stay around the perimeter of the store. You know, produce, meats, dairy. Stay away from the aisles of the rest of the foods. We all know that the boxed stuff has preservatives in them, and we all know, it isn't good for us.

So, this week shopping, I did just that. I stayed around the perimeter of the store. I only went down 2 aisles, bread and snacks. But the snacks I bought, a bag of peanuts in the shell.

I started out at the deli, as always, and got my lunch meat. Boar's Head, all natural lunch meat. No preservatives, no fillers, just lunch meat. Then I hit the produce, strawberries, grape tomatoes, cut up cantalope. So far, so good. Chicken was on the menu for dinner this week, picked up a whole chicken for .79/pound. On to the next area, dairy. Cheese, milk, sour cream, cream, yogurt (20 for $8.00). Picked up tortilla chips, only 3 ingredients and 2 loaves of bread. I was done.

Instead of hitting the aisles that have all the stuff in it. Instead of going up and down the aisles looking for stuff, I hit all around the store first. Before I knew it, I had everything I needed. Snacks as in strawberries, tomatoes, cantalope, peanuts and yogurt. I had all the dairy for breakfast and lunch. I had one dinner, that was all I needed for the week.

Check out and see what all this cost me this week. Well, it wasn't nearly as expensive as I thought it would be, $44.65 for everything. I did have to hit UGO for eggs, $1 a dozen, load up on them. Easter is coming you know! And a few more little things. All total for the week, $57 for my entire week. Without hitting the processed foods. Not bad, I think this is a change that we all can get used to!

Monday, March 16, 2009


Oh my Sandra Lee Money Saving Meals is just wonderful. The 3 recipes I have tried, have been divine. Divine in the budget sense and divine that they were a hit with the family. And if anyone knows my family, they are picky!
As you know, I will post the recipe as is, and then I will post what I do to it and the cost, both ways.

1 cup precooked potatoes with herbs and garlic
1 cup chopped leftover ham, pork, turkey or shrimp
1 cup shredded Colby/Jack cheese blend
4 eggs
1 1/2 cup milk
1 tsp salt free all purpose seasoning (Mrs. Dash)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray 9 inch glass pie plate with spray.
Add potatoes, leftover meat and cheese to prepared pie plate. Set aside. In medium bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, salt free seasoning, salt and pepper. Pour into pie plate. Bake in preheated oven for 35 -40 minutes or until eggs are set in center. Let cool on wire rack for 5 minutes before serving.

Cost as listed:
precooked shredded potatoes $2 - $3 depending on store
leftover ham Depends on your leftovers
Shedded cheese $3.29 for 2 cup bag
Milk $2.50 a gallon, you figure that out
4 eggs .50
All purpose seasoning $2.50 for a 1.75 oz bottle
salt and pepper we all have this at home.
Total according to recipe Approx $6.00 for this as is

Now, how I make this and what I use

2 whole potatoes, washed and shredded through food processor. Keep in water until ready to use. Squeeze out all water when ready. I salt the potatoes before putting them in the 8 x 8 pan
6 cooked breakfast sausage patties, crumbled
1 cup shredded cheese, I buy the block cheese. Generally store brand
6 eggs
1 1/2 cup milk, add some cream
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper

2 potatoes, shredded through processor approx. .31/lb
sausage 1.19
cheese (6.16 for 2lbs at Sam's0) .76
eggs ($1 doz at UGO) .50
milk and cream .30
My total cost for dinner 3.06
I get about 7 servings out of this, so it comes to .44 for each serving. That is with one leftover for Eric's breakfast.
I served this is Pillsbury Grands Biscuits. They cost me .59 cents due to the $1 coupon. So, it was 3.65 for our dinner.

So, until next time, my budget savvy friends and family, Les bonnes tables (good dining)

"Daddy, I want ride on the mower"

These are the words from PJ. "I want to drive the mower." Well, his feet won't reach the pedals, so the answer was no. "Daddy, I want to go for a ride on the mower." For the longest time he begged for a ride.

Now, the weather here has been iffy at best. We really have had a wet Spring, which is fine with me. I don't care either way. Actually, the more it rains, the better tips are in the delivery business. So, I don't really care.

Right after we got the mower, Chuck took it out to mow. He wanted to beat our neighbor in getting the yard cut first. So, he took it out, mowed the yard and found out that the bagger line was clogged, so out came the pressure washer to clean everything off.

I had to go over to the neighbor's to see a quilt that she made and when I got done, this is what I saw:

I guess PJ talked his Daddy into taking him for a ride. And several times around the yard was their plan. All I noticed was the smile on PJ's face. You could see it across the yard. He was so happy. He would fly by, "hi Mommy!I am going for my ride." Yes, I can see that son.

Chuck said the other day about how much he missed out on. How much he wanted to do with the boys, but just couldn't. He had to make labor at work, he had to fill in for someone, he had to go here and there for work. It was all work, all stress, no life, no family moments, no family fun. Now, he can pack the truck up and take the boys and my dad or his dad fishing. Three generations spending that time lost together. Me, I will be happy for a day at home, alone. But still, he realized that life was all work, no play. He missed out on basketball games, football games, soccer games, plays and practices. He was tired of missing out on life and not living it.

I know what is most important. It isn't making your employer richer. It it making your life richer. It is having a life with your family. Chuck realized that he missed so much and he doesn't want to miss anymore.

Our first major job

A few weeks ago, we got the bright idea to tape our fliers to mailboxes. So, we did 2 neighborhoods in one day. The next day the Post office called and said that we can't do that. It is Federal property and that is not allowed. Ok, I can understand that. But if it is Federal property, why do we have to buy the mailboxes, and upkeep them. Why don't they replace a faulty mailbox when needed? Funny, just like the government, I pay for something and they own it. So, we learned from that and didn't do it again.

We did get one phone call out of all the fliers we got out. A woman wanted her gutters and downspouts cleaned. Now, my first thought was, "ok, this is easy, clean the gutters out, wash out the downspouts." Boy was I ever wrong! HA! HA! HA!

Chuck went over to the house. Looked at the job, priced it out at $75 and came home to tell me all about this. Turns out I was VERY WRONG! She wanted the outside of the gutters washed, under the gutters washed and all around the downspouts washed. WOW! Chuck tells me that they aren't that high off the ground, we can get to the easily and it won't be that bad.

The Monday after we got the pressure washer we headed over there. Buckets, pressure washer, trailer with lawn mower, chemical and goggles. We get started and all of the sudden the hose blew right off the fitting. What the heck? What happened? Well, that put a damper on the job. We had to head to Home Depot and get another hose, gee whiz.

Get back to the house, try a different chemical, nope, didn't do the job, and then go back to the other chemical. The house cleaner was the best, but brown hands and nails are not what I prefer. We scrubbed the front of this out, and I mean scrubbed. Washed, scrubbed and rinsed, repeat.... Turns out the gutter paint in the front of the house was stained from not being cleaned for a few years. And you could see exactly where the water would run over. She wasn't happy with that, but the next step is bleach, bleach is white, gutters are cream. Do you see something wrong here?

Finally, we get one side done. Off to the smaller gutter on the side of the house. I looked at it and shook my head. It was literally brown with mold. I thought that it would never come clean. I was wrong, it was easier to clean than the ones up front. The downspout came out cleaner too.

At one point the owner came out and asked about how things were going, "Well, I want to make sure that the downspouts come out nice." She was more concerned about them and not that much about the gutters.

After about 3 1/2 hours, we got done, cleaned up everything, put everything back where we found it, made sure the dirt and chemical was cleaned up. I loaded up the truck and the trailer, Chuck collected the pay. I was too tired to do anything else.

We stopped to get water and then off to the place where we bought the mower, a blade came loose, so we had to get that fixed.

I have to admit, I was never so happy to see a shower in my life! I was gross and sticky. I wanted to be cleaned up, scrubbed up and washed up. Chuck had Eric help him unload the trailer, and help him back it up. One word of advice, never let Eric give you direction in backing anything up!

Boys and their Toys

I think the saying is true, "Whoever dies with the most toys, WINS!"

Ok, since Chuck and I decided that we were gonna start our own little business, the 'toys' have been accumulating. We bought a trailer, mower, some window cleaning supplies, and buckets. We have looked at backpack leaf blowers and new weed eaters too. But we came home the other day with a pressure washer. We looked over and over at these things. Chuck did his research and finally found the one that he wanted.

So, Saturday we head down to Northern Tool and he looks at all of them, me, I wander around the store looking at everything. He looks at this, talks to someone about that and then finally decided on the one that he wants.

Now, pay for it (ugh!) and load it up (ugh!). Go home and unload it (UGH!).

Chuck was putting it together, so I stayed inside until further notice. I know better, I will stay out of the way completely until all the mess is cleaned up and put away.

He gets everything up and running and realized that he didn't buy the hose to attach the wand to. Ok, so, go out to Ace and get something, but not the one that he wants. He gets home and gets started on the walkway.

So, of course, I have to try this out too. I never used one, so I might as well learn what to do. It wasn't too hard, but I did get soaked when I worked with this thing. And it is a lot of pressure to be holding for a period of time.

Well, don't you know Eric had to pop his head around the corner and see what was going on. "Can I try?" Ok, sure why not, it is only the walkway. Well, you have to understand Eric and the way he thinks. He has ADD, and only takes his pills during school days. Or when really needed at school. So, he get out there and starts out nice and slow.

And he does just fine for a few minutes, then he starts getting in a hurry. "Son, slow down. You are missing spot." "Oh, ok" and then he slows down, then gets in a hurry. It was fine, it was our walkway and he just wanted to try it out.

Chuck goes out there again, shows him what to do, how to move and how fast to go.

And we go through the same thing all over again. But no harm, no foul. He was curious on how it work and wanted to see what he could do.

Now the funny thing was watching PJ use this thing. Ok, when I have taken PJ to the carwash, I have literally seen him pull the handle and get lifted off his feet. This time was about the same. He is so small that any kind of pressure knocks him over. Too bad I didn't get any pics of that.

So, now to practice on our house, becasue we had a job on Monday to use this thing on, and I sure didn't want to ruin anything on someone's house.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

PJ's Pillow

This is the title to my story that I want to have published to a book. It is a cute little children's story. I am really happy with it and the way that it came out.

I have looked for a publishing company and found one that I thought I would be pleased with. I was hesitant for a while in sending it in. Rejection is not my strong point, so I don't take it well. But after much thought I sent it in to this one company.

I emailed it in, got an email stating that it would be two weeks before I would hear anything from them. Ok, I could wait, I waited this long, so what is another two weeks.

Well, while I was at work on Friday, I received a voicemail stating that they accepted my story, but I needed to get the illustrations in. And when I got home, I got the email stating the same thing. I did send in some of the pics that I had, and then they would give me a deadline on when the rest needed to be in.

Ok, now, I am beside myself over all of this. Number one, I was willing to wait the two weeks, number two, is this really that good for them to call me right away?

I made my calls and talked to everyone about it, I was thrilled. But then I got a message, a very wonderful message from a friend of mine. She was hesitant about sending this out to me, but I am so glad she did.

She took some time to research this publishing company and requested for me to do the same. So, I did. And it didn't take me an hour to realize that this company is a scam.

The Washington Post published an article about this one company. This company does things the old fashioned way, they don't feel that the author should pay for the publishing, they do it for you. They also pay you an advance. All sounds real nice, doesn't it? Nope, it doesn't go that way.

Their advance, after you sign a 7 year contract, is $1. Yes, you read that right, $1 that is all there is to that one. WOW! So,if Random House wants my book,they have to go through this publisher to get the rights. All for $1. If things like that happen, this publisher in the long run makes their money this way. WOW again!

They also don't have to sell your book to places like Amazon, Books-A-Million or Barnes and Noble. They choose which ones will go out in the public. The other books, they post in "their" store and you have to search, hunt and peck for the book you are looking for. Also, since they are a vanity company, libraries will not carry the books.

Gee, once I read all of this, I had seriously thought twice about this. And it didn't take all that long to realize that this is just a scam. They paint a picture that is amazingly welcome, of course that is how they drag you in. But it is sad that they do this to people that really think they have a chance to become something.

I spent the better part of yesterday morning researching publishers,from A - Z. I found 6 or 7 that I can send an unsolicited manuscript to. Ok, I can handle this. And then I will go from there.

If nothing happens, I can always make a few books, and give them away as gifts. It may work better that way anyways!

Singing or Screeching

I work every Sunday, so therefore I don't have a chance to get to church. I do miss it, but I know that right now, I have to work on Sundays. It is fine with me.

Now, since I do work on Sunday, I have a chance to listen to some of the local services on the Christian radio station. There have been some churches in the past that have been outstanding and I end up listening to the messages at home. And there are some that I have turned off because they weren't all that good. I really enjoy the variety in the messages and the churches. There was one in Delano TN, a small town church, the pastor was as country as can be. Excellent messages. Then he went off the air. I miss those services.

Anyway, over the past few weeks I have been listening to a local church worship, choir and message. They only get an hour, so sometimes I miss most of the message.

A few weeks ago, during the choir, I noticed something. The woman that was singing with the choir had a very nice voice, she sang wonderfully when she was singing solo. Wow, the voice that God gave her, she used it marvously. But when the choir started behind her, she sang so loud, to stand out from the choir, that her voice screeched. And I mean she screeched like something I never heard before.

I attended a church for a few years, I loved it there, but the Lord had other plans for me, so I ended up leaving. I miss the people there dearly, but I know there is a reason for me going somewhere else. Anyway, they have a wonderful worship team and they work together nicely. However, there is one woman, Melanie, that has this amazing voice. A voice that she uses to glorify God. She doesn't shout or screech to be noticed.She doesn't have to and she doesn't intentionally stand out from the rest to be noticed. She has a big voice and she has wonderful control over this big voice. To her, her worship is just that. It is worship to the Lord, it isn't worship for herself. Oh how I miss her voice. But I never once saw her draw the attention to herself when others were singing around her. She never tried to sing louder because she was getting the glory. She knows that the glory is the Lord's and no one elses.

I have a group of friends that have been singing for years. Each one has a very unique voice. Each woman has a talent that they have been blessed with. Now, I know that the youngest one has the loudest, strongest voice. She is so blessed. But when the choir is backing her up, she doesn't start screeching or straining her voice to be heard. She uses her voice to magnify the Lord. As do the rest of her sisters. They all know that they have been so very blessed with amazing talent, they use it for the Lord, because they know where it came from. I admire both of my examples.

But it really bothered me that this one woman, week after week, got up there, sang without the choir wonderfully, but strained, screeched and scratched her voice when the choir started just to be noticed.

Whatever happened to the day that we all sang together? Not to be noticed by anyone. But to glorify God with the voices that he gave us. I don't sing anymore because of someething that happened years ago. I will sing in the choir and I try to keep my big mouth toned down, but sometimes I get carried away. I don't do it for the attention, trust me, that is the last thing I want. I just do it because I know that my talent is from the Lord. See, He doesnt' need to shout, strain or screech, because He hears me no matter what.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Another budget friendly meal coming your way

OK, I have to admit, I love the Sandra Lee cookbook. It really has some very good ideas and the stuff is so good too!
Creamy Penne Pesto Bake
8 ounces penne pasta
1 1/2 cup Alfredo sauce
1 jar (5 oz) pesto sauce, Classico
1 can (13.75 oz) artichoke hearts, drained and rinsed
2 cups shredded Italian cheese blend
2 packets (6 oz each) grilled chicken strips
1/2 cup roasted red peppers
1/4 cup Italian bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 tsp olive oil

Preheat oven to 375, Lightly spray 2 1/2 qt casserole dish with spray. Set aside
In a large saucepan of boiling salted water, cook pasta for 1 minute less than directed on package. Drain and set aside
For creamy pesto, in a meduim bowl, stir together Alfredo sauce and pesto, set aside
In a large bowl toss to combine artichoke hearts, Italian cheese blend, chicken and roasted red peppers. Add cooked pasta and creamy pesto; using a rubber spatula, fold together until well mixed. Transfer to prepared casserole dish.
In a small bowl, combine bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese and oil; sprinkle over paste. Bake in preheated oven for 30 - 45 minutes or until golden brown.

Ok, now here is what I did to it. I bought the Alfredo and looked around for roasted red peppers. I never did find them, but it worked out nicely for me. I didn't look at the sauce when I bought it, turns out, I bought Roasted Red Pepper Alfredo sauce. PERFECT.
I don't buy the grilled Tyson chicken in the bag, that stuff is outrageously expensive. So, improvise. Grill the chicken yourself!
Instead of buying shredded cheese, I purchased Polly-O mozzarella. It cost more for you to buy the already shredded stuff.
And I purchase a small jar of artichokes, drained and rinsed them, chopped them myself.

Total cost of everything.

Classico Roasted Red Pepper Alfredo, bogo free.... 1.29
Classico Pesto sauce, 10 oz jar 1.29
Ronzoni Penne (only used 1/2 box) bogo free .60
Polly-O Mozzarella(16 oz, only used 8 oz) 2.50
Chicken Breast (3 breasts) 2.69
Artichokes 1.30
Total 9.67

Now, since I didn't use everything, this is how my meal breaks down

Classico Sauce 1.29
Pesto, only used 5 oz out of 10 oz jar .65
Ronzoni penne, only used 8 oz out of 16 oz box .30
Polly-O Mozzarella only used 1/2 of the 16 oz 1.25
Chicken Breasts (got on sale at Sams for 2.69/lb) 2.69
Artichokes 1.30
My total cost 7.48
Which means that each of us ate dinner for $1.50 per serving. We each had the initial serving and went back for a bit more. Turns out that there was enough for someone's lunch the next day. So, for 5 servings, I paid $1.50 per serving for a dinner that was very good.
Big difference when you have to add everything up and see how much you really spend.
This way makes me more creative with dinners.
So, enjoy and save money.
Until next the next budget friendly dinner, Les bonnes tables (good dining)

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Budget Friendly Dinner

Ok, I have tried before to post some of the recipes, but I got side tracked and forgot about posting some stuff on there.

In this incredibly slow economy and Chuck deciding that starting our own business would be good, I have to come up with some budget friendly meals.

I hate the word BUDGET. It really isn't in my vocabulary, but it now has to be. And it really puts me on edge to be on a BUDGET.

But, it also makes me think of what I can make with what I have at home. And I sit and add up how much this is costing me to make and to feed the family. At this stage in the game, the boys aren't big eaters. They love good cooking and enjoy a good dinner.

Before all this went down with Chuck quitting his job and wanting to start a business, I bought another cookbook. I love cookbooks. But this was a wise investment. Very wise!

I bought "Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade Money Saving Meals." Now, to be honest with you, I would watch her show and thought how crazy is this woman to make things from the pantry, truely Semi Homemade stuff. Really, I wouldn't watch the show. But once I tried a few of her recipes, well, she is on to something here.

I tried this a few weeks ago and we all liked it. Of course in this house, adjustments have to be made. Make it once, and then the next time fix it to our standards. For those of you that don't know, my boys (all 3 of them) are SPOILED!

So, this was the first that I tried out of the new book, and we all seemed pretty happy with it

Creamy Spinach Ricotta Pasta
1 lb rigatoni (a box)
1 can (15oz) of diced tomatoes w/ basil, onions & garlic
1 C frozen chopped onions (I lessen them or just take them out.)
1 box (10oz) frozen chopped spinach (Box)
2 1/2 Cups of jarred Alfredo Sauce (I used the 4 cheese Classico alfredo - 1 jar is 15 oz)
1 1/2 Cups ricotta cheese - entire container; used part-skim - Since you don't use the entire 2 1/2 cups of alfredo it is ok to use the entire container
1 t garlic salt (garlic salt doesn't agree with Chuck, or he may not agree with it. So I use minced garlic and then a tsp of kosher salt
1/2 t black pepper

1/3 C dry bread crumbs (I used the seasoned italian ones)
1/4 C grated parmesan cheese
1T olive oil

1. Heat oven to 425. Coat 13x9 pan w/ nonstick spray.
2. Bring large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta. Drain & return to pot. Stir in tomatoes & onions.
3. Microwave frozen spinach. Squeeze out all moisture & chop (if not already).
4. While water is boiling, make sauce in a *large* bowl. Add in alfredo sauce, ricotta, garlic salt & pepper. Stir. When spinach is ready...add it in too and Stir again.
5. Add pasta (w/ tomatoes & onions) to bowl & stir again.
6. Place the pasta mixture into the pan.
7. Mix together the breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese & oil w/ fingers in a small bowl. Then crumble over the top of the pasta (in pan).
8. Bake & ENJOY!

This was a hit. We had it for leftover lunch the next day. Be careful though, don't eat too much, that spinach will mess with your system. HA HA

I think that this cost about $7 to $8 for the entire meal. You count that we each had seconds, that is 8 and then the 2 for lunch, that is 10 servings. So, what, .70 to .80 a serving. That works for me.

I think that if people really took the time to look at a meal,they can make it for rather reasonable. I don't buy the convenience foods, the boxed potatoes or the premade stuff. I make most of everything myself. It is better for the boys and we enjoy it more.

I should teach a class, the government would love me. Save them some welfare money in the long run!

A visionary journey through glass

I finally had a Saturday off. I missed those Saturdays where the boys and I got the chance to go, take off and do something. Seven months without a Saturday off, of course I had 2 days off a week, but Saturdays always proved to be a good tip day. Until recently, sales are down, work is slow. So, in that case, I cut myself back to 19 hours a week, I will get at least 17 hours a week. That works for me, I can help Chuck out getting business and working on our business.

Our first Saturday off together was very nice. I spotted in the Chattanooga Free Press on one Sunday an advertisement for The Knoxville Museum of Art. They had an exhibit from Josh Simpson . It was free and I thought that this would be a good experience for the boys. I wasn't sure about Chuck going, but it turned out, we had a family outing.

Living in Knoxville for 4 years, I didn't know what all was up there. We didn't really explore that much because of the fact that Eric was little and he wouldn't have enjoyed so much of the stuff that we do now.

We packed a cooler and took off to Knoxville. We took Cumberland Ave straight up so PJ could see the University. And ended up at World's Fair Park.
For those of you that don't know the story, Knoxville was the site of the World's Fair in 1982. They built this sphere that is still visable from the interstate. This is actually the closest I have been to it.

So after lunch we headed inside. I really thought that it was going to be busier than what was there. Turns out there were several other exhibits that we got to see while we were there. This year the musuem is offering free admission. So, why not take a trip and go see something different.

I spotted this as soon as we walked in,
I was amazed at the size of it. Very different painting.

So, while we were waiting for the bathroom break
PJ sat to watch the upcoming events ,
Our first stop was the Josh Simpson's exhibit. It was amazing! I thought the glass work was outstanding. He had planets and the earth. Wonderfully done, tastefully done too.
This is Saturn. He made 100 of these, only 1 survived. The other 99 broke in the process.

These are MegaPlanets.

I saw all sizes of the Earth. He had paperweight size in the gift shop. PJ had a chance to look at them. He held them and spun them around, looking at every little detail.

And off to the other exhibits. The only one that I couldn't take any pictures in was the room about East TN. The pictures in there were from mid 1800 to the late 1990's. They showed the different eras in art and the different styles too. This was the one room that PJ wanted to go and see. He saw something on the screen as we were waiting and he just had to see it.

I am interested in art, some forms interest me and I see a man, woman and child. Eric spotted the child and then I noticed it.

This cracked me up, From a distance it looked very 3D. Getting closer to you, you could see what the pic was all about. "Ladies Man" was the title, and the little things on the wall were wine corks with the woman's name under each one. One had a ? on it. I liked looking at it from across the room, the look it gave was fascinating.

This one I took for my friend Johanna. She works in mixed media and instantly I thought about her.
I couldn't use a flash in the museum, so I did the best that I could.

We took our time around the place. There were dancers downstairs, and an exhibit of dioramas.
The Knoxville Museum of Art's Thorne Rooms are among America's most well-known miniature diorama groups. The Thorne Rooms were developed in the 1930s and 40s by Mrs. James Ward Thorne, Chicago, who loved dollhouses as a child. After extensive travels in Europe where she collected miniature furniture and accessories, Thorne had over two dozen miniature rooms created by cabinetmakers from her own drawings. They were made in a scale of one inch to one foot. She painted and stained woodword, papered walls and made textiles for the rooms. The rooms were displayed in several World's Fairs. In 1933-1934 they were displayed at Chicago's Century of Progress Exposition. In 1939 they traveled to San Francisco's Golden Gate International Exposition, and in 1940 they wre displayed at the New York World's Fair. (
Ok, no one was really interested in this, but me. I loved my dollhouse when I was little and to see the work that this woman did was amazing to me. Although it was just a dollhouse showing, it was work that she did that made her happy.

The camera didn't work so well on these, but you get the idea.

The day was gorgeous, we took a small stroll around the outside of the museum to look at the very different art work out there. I am not for modern art, because my eye doesn't see what others see. I think Eric saw something in this, he is much younger and sees the world through youthful eyes.

Me, I spotted this building! The blueberry vines were crawling up the side. I was more impressed with that than I was with the art work.

Our last stop was a room of modern art. Ok, so it didn't impress me. But it did impress Eric . He talked with Chuck about what he saw, or what he thought he saw.

I thought this was a little different, at first, I thought it was charcoal on canvas, nope! Pencil on paper, torn and thumbtacked to the wall. Ok, my kids can do this, but it was cool to look at.
And another piece of art, I thought it was neat to see, something different

I took this picture for my friend, Kristin. I went to high school with her and I thought of her as soon as I saw this. Very different and unique, just like she is. I love her dearly for that personality too.