Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and is looking forward to a prosperous New Year! May 2010 bring us new opportunities, new friends, new adventures, new travels, and perhaps
even new direction for our lives.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Virtual Christmas Cookie Swap



You are cordially invited to

a Virtual Christmas Cookie Swap!

Simply post your favorite Christmas cookie recipe in the comment form below, then check back frequently to see other recipes posted!

By the end of the week, we will have exchanged many new recipes. Print them for later or come back and check them out when you're ready to bake.

Merry Christmas Baking!

Snowball Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
¼ cup sifted powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon water
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup chopped pecans

Cream butter and sugar in large bowl of electric mixer. Blend in vanilla and water; add flour and mix well. Stir in nuts. Shape into small balls (use ½ teaspoon measuring spoon). Bake on ungreased baking sheet at 300 degrees for 20 minutes. Cool thoroughly on pans. When completely cool, dip in frosting and roll in coconut. Freezes well. Yield: about 4 dozen, depending on size.

Frosting
4 cups sifted powdered sugar
½ cup milk or cream
½ teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
Dash salt
Gradually add milk to powdered sugar, blending until smooth. Stir in vanilla and salt. Dip cooled cookies in frosting, then roll in coconut.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Great Gift Idea

Bulldog Brittle

1 ( 1-pound) box Keebler graham crackers
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
½ cup margarine
½ cup butter
½ cup sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet (10x15-inch) with foil. Cover with graham crackers, leaving space between crackers for liquid to spread to bottom and sides. Sprinkle nuts over graham crackers. Set aside.

Combine margarine, butter and sugar in heavy bottom saucepan. Bring to a rapid boil, stirring constantly. Boil for 2 minutes. Pour immediately over crackers and pecans. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until mixture bubbles and begins to turn golden in color. Cool completely. Break into pieces. Yield: approximately 64 pieces.

Its Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas!

Today THE tree went up - all 9 ft of it! For months now, I've "lobbied" for a new, slim, smaller tree. (Of course, you understand that "lobby" is code for nag!) It didn't happen. The big tree came out of the shop and emerged into the house - again! It takes an entire day to put it together and decorate it.I lost count at 700 lights. It takes an engineering degree to make it fit into our living room without taking over the entire floor space. (Did I mention that neither of us has that particular degree?) But, after much discussion and many design changes, it is up and as close to the wall as possible, leaving some room for toddlers, dogs and family to gather and open presents! And, as much as I hate to admit it, it is beautiful!

Tomorrow, the rest of the decorating will get done. Snowmen will fill every bare spot and table top and snowflakes will accompany them! We're even supposed to have REAL snow on Sunday morning! Most of my Christmas shopping is done (yet to be delivered by Mr. UPS). I'll soon start baking cookies.... Yes, indeed, its beginning to look a lot like Christmas on Windy Knoll!!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Is it really almost December??

Where did November go?? I could swear it was October just yesterday!I've spent more time painting this month than cooking! Remember those New Year's resolutions? Lets see... take a Greek cooking class - done! Learn to paint with water color... class taken - far from done on that one, but a good start! Wine Babes are selling great! Holiday orders are coming in so well that I started another blog (www.handpaintedwinebabes.blogspot.com) to take orders. Sure hope sales continue, or everyone I know will be getting wine glasses for every occasion!!!

Tomorrow is the day for my VIP guest to arrive! I will go to ATL to fetch her and bring her to the mountain! That should be a hoot- I doubt she's ever seen a place like this! Most people who have known me in "other lives" are astounded over where we actually live! But, she'll love it, no doubt! After all, she's my "champion" - she'll like everything!

I spent all afternoon in the kitchen. We could feed a small army from our fridge! She's a "foodie" too, so we'll have fun eating and comparing notes.And this time next week, I'll say, where has the week gone??? My, how time flies when you're having fun!!

So that you don't feel left out, here is the cookie I made today. My dear cousin shared her version with me last Christmas and I hate her for it! Its "to die for" delicious and sinfully rich! ENJOY!!

Cranberry Bliss Bars (just like at Starbucks!)
1 cup butter (2 sticks, melted)
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons orange extract or vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 cup craisins (dried cranberries)
3/4 cup white chocolate chips
FROSTING
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons butter, softened
3 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon orange extract (or vanilla)
TOPPING
1/3 cup craisins, chopped
1-2 tablespoon grated orange rind
1/3 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 teaspoon canola oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (325 for a glass or dark pan). Prepare a 10x15 by lining it with parchment paper or use a non-stick spray.

BARS: Melt butter; cool slightly. With an electric mixer, beat together melted butter and sugars 3-5 minutes until light; gently blend in eggs and orange extract. Add the flour, baking powder, and ginger and beat briefly. Add the cranberries and chips, stirring just until incorporated.

Spread thick batter in prepared 10x15 pan. Bake 350 for 23-24 minutes until light brown and a skewer tests clean. Don't overbake. Let it cool completely. NOTE: If you use a 9x13 pan, the bars will be thicker and will take 27-29 minutes.

FROSTING: Blend cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Add orange extract and confectioner’s sugar and beat until frosting is fluffy and spreadable (adding 1 t. milk if needed). Spread evenly over COOLED bars.

GARNISH: Use a zester to remove rind from an orange; sprinkle zest over frosted bars. Chop 1/3 cup Craisins coarsely; sprinkle over frosted bars.

DRIZZLE: Mix white chocolate and oil in a glass measuring cup. Microwave 1 minute; stir until melted. Use a fork or whisk to drizzle the white chocolate diagonally across the bars.

Allow one hour for the white chocolate to set before cutting. **To make signature Starbuck triangles, cut into 20 large squares (5 cuts by 4 cuts with the knife). Then cut each square in half diagonally to create triangles

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Fall is fleeting

Just a few days ago I posted pics of the beautiful fall colors outside our windows... well, today the mountains are almost brown! The leaves swirled in the gentle breeze today like multicolored snowflakes. It's sad to see them go so fast... fall is, indeed, fleeting. And with it went October and soon November. Next week we go to the beach, then to Kelley's for Thanksgiving (plus a few days in advance for kitchen duty) then home to dust and dash back to the ATL airport to pick up a VIP guest.

I feel as though my Mother is coming to visit (and wish it were so, but she's been gone for 8 years). I've scrubbed both refrigerators, the oven, cabinets, floors, baseboards.... a belated spring cleaning! Yes, the house has been neglected - I'd rather paint any day than clean. Now, I'm paying the price!

Ohhh, but it will be such fun! The VIP guest and I have been friends since 1973 - that's 36 years!!! Longer than some of you are old - including both of my children. She and I were co-workers in Jax, Fl at my first professional job and she taught me the true meaning of "professional". Years later, when I taught high school Home Ec, I told all of my students that everyone should have someone in their life who loved them unconditionally, who lifted them up and told them continuously how "special" they were. This VIP guest is and always has been THAT person for me. I can't wait to see her.. its been 13 years since we've seen each other. But she's the kind of friend you pick up the phone and call several times a year its just like your last conversation was yesterday.

Do you remember the round we sang in Girl Scouts "make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and other gold".... This one is solid gold!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Flavors of Fall


We're at the peak of fall color in the mountains! My only regret is that it doesn't last longer! Fall is my favorite time of the year... the color outside my window as I write this is a brillant display of reds, golds and oranges with a BRIGHT blue sky (umm, Carolina blue maybe??). The house smells like cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and all the other good winter spices. Its cool enough outside to make it cozy inside. Yesterday, I spent time on the deck painting with my water colors - a feeble attempt to capture the color. Then, a long lazy afternoon of reading (thanks to Cousin Carol) in a sunny spot with the sounds of football in the background as Bill sat glued to his recliner and mesmerized by the TV.


Foods of fall should be a cookbook in itself.... warm baked Soft Ginger Cookies, Apple Dumplings, Apple Crisp, Autumn Vegetables and Pork Roast, Baked Winter Squash.... and on and on... now, what to cook today?? How about....


Roasted Pork with Fall Vegetables
For all you non-root veggie lovers - substitute peeled acorn and/or hubbard squash for the rutabaga and turnip roots.


2 small onions, peeled and quartered
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 cup cubed peeled rutabaga
1 cup cubed peeled turnip roots
2 cups cubed sweet potatoes
1 (16-oz.) package baby carrots
1 (2 ½-pound) boneless pork loin roast
2 tablespoon chopped fresh sage (or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried sage)
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1 teaspoon pepper
1 cup chicken broth
½ cup dry white wine (or apple juice, cider or more broth)

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Heat 1 ½ teaspoon oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté 8 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring frequently. Remove onion from pan. Add remaining oil and vegetables to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring frequently.

Place pork roast on rack coated with cooking spray; place rack in shallow roasting pan. Sprinkle roast with sage, ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Arrange vegetables around roast; sprinkle vegetables with remaining salt and pepper.

Bake at 400° for 50 minutes or until meat thermometer registers 160°. Remove pork and vegetables from pan.

Place pan over medium heat; stir in broth, wine and mustard, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve with pork and vegetables. Yield: 8 servings.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Its feeling more "fallish" every day!


The weather today was cold and damp, but that makes it feel even more like Fall. Granted, the clear "Carolina blue" skies are preferred, but with the leaves getting more color each day, it still feels like Fall!
We have fresh apples! Crunchy, crisp, tart, sweet and ooooohhhh so good!
Many thanks to our dear friends for thinking of us and bringing us our first bag of this fruit of the gods. Nothing makes it feel more like fall than fresh apples. Even Murphy, our dog, loves them! When I slice through one, he's at my side in a flash, waiting on a small bit to fall his way!

I'm not wasting much, so poor Murphy is out of luck. But, I will be making favorite apple recipes... starting with something like this....



APPLE BUTTER ICE CREAM PIE with WARM CINNAMON APPLES

1 cup graham cracker crumbs
¾ cup finely chopped toasted pecans
4 tablespoons butter, melted
3 tablespoons firmly packed dark brown sugar
½ gallon homemade style vanilla ice cream, softened
½ cup apple butter
½ teaspoon ground apple pie spice
½ cup chopped toasted pecans
4 tablespoons butter
4 Fuji (Pink Lady, or other crisp tart apple), peeled, cored and thinly sliced
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup maple syrup (or pancake syrup)

Combine graham cracker crumbs, pecans, butter and brown sugar in a medium bowl. Mix well. Press mixture onto bottom and up sides of 10-inch spring form pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until set. Set aside to cool completely.

Spoon half the softened ice cream into the cooled crumb crust. Combine apple butter with apple pie spice. Top the ice cream with half the apple butter mixture. Swirl into ice cream with a sharp knife. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup pecans. Repeat with remaining ice cream and apple butter. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup toasted pecans over top. Return to freezer overnight or until ice cream is firm.

Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a large heavy skillet. Add apples and cinnamon; sauté until apples are almost tender (about 8 minutes).
Stir in maple syrup and cook until mixture is sticky and apples are tender. Remove from heat and set aside.

To serve: Cut Apple Butter Ice Cream Pie into wedges. Top with warm apples. Serve immediately.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Baking makes your house smell scrumptious!



Pumpkin Muffins
Add raisins, chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, walnuts, cranberries, etc to this recipe for additional flavor!

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons pumpkin-pie spice
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup fat-free buttermilk
1 egg
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup applesauce

Preheat oven to 375°.
Lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flours, granulated sugar, and next 5 ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk.
Combine pumpkin and the remaining ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add pumpkin mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Spoon batter into 16 muffin cups coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375° for 20 minutes or until muffins spring back when touched lightly in center. Cool muffins in pans 5 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pans. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Fall is coming!!


The leaves are beginning to turn .. reds first, followed by a burst of gold, then yellow and orange. The weather is predicted to be cooler this week just in time for the John C. Campbell Folkschool's annual Fall Festival (http://www.folkschool.org/). Over 200 crafters (really talented folks, not crappy crocheted toilet paper cover makers) will set up for Sat and Sun. Music on 2 or 3 stages, all kinds of food - from Beans & Cornbread (a mtn thing) to kettle corn (Sorry you won't be here Ginger, but I will eat some and think of you!). If the weather is nice, it will be a great day to stroll through the woodsy paths and finger the beautiful craft work... jewelry, pottery, paintings, weaving, carving ... The smells of the food will waft through the crisp air and make even fried potato ribbons appealing.

Stores and houses have begun to set out fall displays of pumpkins, mums and corn stalks. After church the kids from the Learning Center sold pots of huge mums full of blooms about to explode into a mound of color. Who could resist - the kids or the flowers ?


I'm ready for a change of season. What's not to love about fall? The colors outside our windows change daily, there's no more "yard" work to do, and it's a season of food-based holidays! What more could you ask for???
Our door is always open and the coffee pot is on.. come on up and enjoy a mountain fall.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Back to the "real world"

Ahhh, the let down after vacation has hit! So, I've been staying as busy as possible... I've read 2 books (thanks, Shelly!), sewn ribbon on 5 curtain valances for Kelley (thanks for giving me your odd jobs!), tested recipes for GA Ag Dept (thanks to Marcia for keeping me "gainfully employed" for 6 years now!), crafted a birthday gift for my cousin (thanks, Carol, for being like a sister to me!) and played with modeling clay... NOW, what shall I do tomorrow?????

One of the recipes I "tested" was a "keeper" (according to Bill), so I'll share it with you. As the weather gets cooler, you'll want to try this one!

Chicken 'n Dumplins
2 cans chicken breast (or 4 chicken breasts, cooked and chopped)
2 cans cream of chicken soup ( or one each cream of chicken and cream of celery)
1 (32-oz.) box chicken broth
4 cups water (or chicken broth, suit yourself)
2 chicken bouillon cubes (salt free)
1 stick butter (NOT margarine)
2 teaspoons Paul Prudhomme's Magic Poultry Seasoning
2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
1 teaspoon pepper
1 package frozen dumplings ( Mama B's Frozen Dumplings in the bread section of the freezer), open the package while frozen and gently separate the dumplings

Bring all the liquids and seasonings to a boil in a LARGE saucepot. With mixture boiling, add dumplings, one at a time so that the mixture continues to boil. GENTLY stir to separate dumplings as they tend to stick together.
Lower heat and simmer for 25 minutes or until dumplings are tender and done. Gently stir in cooked chicken. Stir and taste. If needed, add more chicken broth, butter and/or seasonings. Yield: 8-10 servings.

Refrigerate the leftovers; add water or chicken broth to reheat. The mixture will be a gelataneous blob when cold. Don't worry, just add water and stir over low heat until it loosens up!

I'm very sorry to have to say this, but these are BETTER than any my Mama ever made!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Bon jour!


Oh! What a glorious trip! Paris part was my favorite. Too many bus rides with other American tourists on the river cruise. But, we saw things we would not have seen otherwise like the Normandy beaches, the American Cemetary, Honfleur, Giverny and Versaille. Now, I can check those off my "Bucket List".

Everyone should have a "Bucket List". Mama would have called it the "Bus List" because she always said she wasn't ready to "catch the bus" yet, there were more things she wanted to do.
Guess where I get the travel gene?? Anyway, my "Bucket List" seems to be growing. Every time we check something off, we add more! Mama was right - there is a lot to do in this old world!

Tonight, I surprised Bill with dessert crepes. Chocolate - his favorite! In Paris I bought this neat little simple wooden tool to spread the crepe batter in the pan. It makes crepes so thin you can read the newspaper through them... yummy!! You can make them, too. Even without my special spreader tool. Just pour a small amount of batter in the pan and twirl (the pan, not you!).

Dessert Crepes
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar


Combine wet ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk until well combined. Slowly add dry ingredients, whisking well after each addition to dissolve lumps. You can make ahead and refrigerate batter until ready to cook the crepes.

Butter a shallow pan/skillet. Place over medium heat. Pour in 1/4 cup batter and twirl!
Let crepe cook until top is almost dry. Flip over (crepe, not YOU!) and cook on second side.
Spread with jelly, jam, Nutella, chocolate spread etc.. Fold in half. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, fold again into fourths. Serve while hot! YUUUUMMMM!

Honestly, these are NOT hard to make. Just practice twirling!!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Here we GO....



We're OFF on another adventure! Our flight leaves Saturday from ATL. We arrive in Paris @6am on Sunday morning. Sunday afternoon we board a river cruise in le Harve near Normandy and cruise down the Seine River back to Paris - 8 days on the river, stops at Giverny, Versaille, Rouen, etc. Then 3 days in Paris at a small hotel near (?) the Eiffel tower. We return to the mountains Sept 10.

See you when we return!! Au Revoir!!!!!!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Voice from Above

You know how I've stresssed about the family over the past 8 months. We've all prayed and tried to pray them through this "crisis". I need to share this with you.

While sitting in church a couple of Sundays ago, I was (as usual) petitioning God to PLEASE intervene and help them get back on their "feet". My patience was running out and I was beginning to have that "Now, look God, you really NEED to DO something to help them" attitude. Just as certainly as I can hear Bill's voice or George's (our preacher) voice, I heard a voice in my head/heart say ," I AM taking care of them. They are safe, they have their health (I kept Laurie safe from the deer) and they have what THEY need." End of conversation. God spoke to me very clearly.

So, I'm going to France and NOT worrying. HE is in charge, not me.
Their OK is not mine, but they will be OK.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Lessons from a Two-year Old

Alex (our 2 yr old grandson) and I "bonded" this Saturday while big brother, Daddy and Grandpa went to Conservation Day from 7am-5pm. It was a learning (or re-learning) day for me... surley I knew all this once upon a time.
Here it is in a nutshell.
In a two-year old's world:
NO is the answer to any question.
MINE is the claim to anything in sight.
"Done !" signals that he is DONE with a toy, food or me.
Words are strung together and spoken a mile a minute, preparing me for France next week, where I will also not understand a word but will smile and nod agreement.
He never stopped moving - even when standing still.
We watched a 3 minute Elmo segment on Sesame Street 79 times (in a row). I'm not sure whether to be thankful for the DISH DVR or shoot it.
Meals are eaten in 2 bite increments, making breakfast, lunch and dinner all run together, until he is DONE with any or all!
Making laps around the house, down the hill, back up the hill and across the driveway 46 times is a great way to get exercise and kill some time.
A styrofoam pool "noodle" swung at the emergency pull cord on the garage door can entertain a 2-yr old for hours! And since we have 4 different colors, that's 4 hrs of entertainment.
Naptime is a NO, until finally, with a pillow on top of his entire body, he managed to find the one spot of sunshine on the king size bed and fall asleep, sweating profusely the entire time.
When a 2 yr old wakes from that hard fought nap, the smile peeking around the corner of the doorway is angelic.
I realized that I'm too old to do this every day, but what a glorious privilege to have this child here alone for a few hours. When he turns 21, we'll consider letting him stay overnight without Mom & Dad!!!!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Friday Musings...

Total ramblings today....although musing sounds better!

Brian, Riley and Alex are coming tonite. Tomorrow is the BIG Conservation Day event in the mtns. Riley (along with 499 other boys) will get to shoot a BB gun, bow & arrow, fish and see exhibits including a taxidermist (sure hope he doesn't demonstrate!). It will be a great father-grandfather-son day! I'll stay home and babysit Alex, age 2. THAT should be exciting!!! I'm so happy that the boys are coming. Brian hasn't been here since Christmas. Thats too long.

Our Paris trip is all consuming as schedules are being worked out, plans finalized, restaurant reservations being made (did you know you can do that online for Eurpoean restaurants at www.thefork.com ???) and packing plans changing daily as Bill constantly monitors the weather forecast! I have 3 seasons of clothes out and ready to be packed when we finally figure out the temp range. Sounds like a raincoat will be essential... what else is new for us???

And in the middle of next week, my "baby girl" turns 29! And she thinks she feels old! HA! So, birthday cake is in the works (she'd rather have Eileen's cake than mine - and that's really OK- especially this year with my plate full!), early birthday gift bought and used, plans made for going a day early to ATl to celebrate birthday and leave our dog with the kids. WHEW! I hope I can finally sleep all the way to France!! My brain is tired- too much to remember!!!!

BUT, I wouldn't trade any of it!! I'm thankful for all the excitement!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Worth the work for this recipe

Warm Vegetable Salad
Giada De Laurentiis

2 whole red peppers
1 1/2 pound assorted red and white new potatoes
3/4 pounds green beans, trimmed and halved
1 bunch scallions, sliced
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped oregano leaves
1 lemon, zested and juiced
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the broiler. Place the red peppers on a foil lined baking sheet. Place the red peppers under the boiler. Turning every 2 to 3 minutes cook the peppers until the skin is
isblistered, about 8 to 9 minutes total. Place the blistered peppers in a plastic bag. Seal the bag and allow the peppers to sit for 10 minutes to allow the skin to separate and to let cool.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the potatoes and cook until tender, about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove the potatoes to a cutting board. Add the green beans to the pot. Cook the green beans until tender, about 3 minutes. Remove the green beans to a large bowl. Slice the potatoes in half while still warm and combine them with the green beans in the large bowl.

Remove the peppers from the plastic bag. Peel off the skin from the peppers. Slice the pepper flesh into wide strips and remove the seeds and veins. Place them in the bowl with the potatoes. Add the scallions, parsley, and garlic and toss to combine.

In a small bowl combine the oregano, lemon juice and zest, and white wine vinegar. Whisk in the olive oil. Stir in the salt and pepper. Toss the warm vegetables with the herb vinaigrette. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Keep praying....

"Stuff" never seems to end. Laurie, my daughter in law, hit a deer today. She's ok, kids were not with her, but her car is a mess- not driveable. Of course, they only have liability insurance. Brian is still without a job. And it goes on and on and on....

I keep praying, but its getting harder and harder to wait for answers.

Tomatoes everywhere......

Spicy Tomato Jam
Serve with cream cheese and crackers, as a dip for seafood or on burgers.

3 pounds plum or Roma tomatoes, peeled, cored and coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons lemon juice
¼ cup cider vinegar
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes, more or less, as desired
¾ cup sugar
¼ cup firmly packed brown sugar

Combine all ingredients in heavy bottom Dutch oven. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat to low. Cook, uncovered, for 1 ½ -2 hrs or until desired degree of thickness. Stir occasionally to prevent scorching. Spoon into jars and refrigerate. Yield: approximately 1 ½ to 2 cups.

There were no directions for canning/processing, so I think it safest to refrigerate. It won’t last long enough to spoil!! :)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Martha, Elizabeth, Caroline, Grace

Today I am my mother and my grandmothers. I'm even my former mother-in-law. I'm in the kitchen preserving food. I can hear and see my mother doing the same thing. I think of her as I peel tomotoes, cut corn off the cob, cut okra and oven blanch it for frying using her "secret" method. I close my eyes and smell the fresh beets grandaddy grew and grandmother canned. They smelled like the earth they came from. When she finished, they were immersed in sweet and sour pickling liquid. The color was that of jewels - the ruby red of my precious ring lost forever.

I wonder as I work, what will my children and grandchildren do in their lives that will make them think of me? What is that one thing that they will find themselves in the midst of when the thought comes to them that this is just like Mama did... I find myself with those thoughts a lot lately. Maybe its age, maybe its living in the mountains - a simpler life - like my grandparents and parents. I know, without a doubt, that whenever Riley says "Actually...." he will smile and remember how we laughed at the number of times a day he and I say it without thinking! Beyond that, what will be my legacy? I'll never know. I'm sure Mama didn't think sweating over corn and tomatoes would bring her memory so close to me. I'm glad I had hard working women in my life. I hope my children will, at least, remember that about me, too.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

THE Best Chicken Recipe

Cheesy Basil-Stuffed Chicken Breasts
Serve with orzo or over rice and you've got a company meal!

4 ounces whole-milk mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/4 cup fresh basil, minced
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3 garlic cloves, minced
salt and pepper
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (6-8 oz each)
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 slice bread, torn into quarters
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
toothpick or wooden skewer

Adjust oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 425 degrees.

Combine the cheese, 2 Tbls. basil, cream, lemon juice, 2 teaspoons garlic, 1/2 tsp salt, and pepper to taste in a medium bowl.

Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and cut off any fat. Cut a pocket in the thickest part of the chicken breast and gently work the knife back and forth until the pocket extends down into most of the breast.
Scoop one-quarter of the filling into each breast. Seal the opening by threading a toothpick or wooden skewer through the chicken about ¼- inch from the opening.

Transfer the stuffed breasts to a 13 by 9-inch baking dish and spread evenly with mayonnaise.

Pulse the bread in a food processor to coarse crumbs, about 8 pulses. Toss the breadcrumbs with 1 teaspoon garlic, 2 Tbls. basil, and 1 Tbls. EVOO. Sprinkle the crumb mixture over the chicken, pressing lightly to adhere.

Toss the tomatoes with 1 Tbls. EVOO, 1/2 teaspoons salt, and pepper to taste. Arrange tomatoes in the baking dish around the chicken. Bake until the crumbs are golden brown and the thickest part of the chicken registers 160 degrees, about 25 minutes.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Grilled Eggplant Salad

Grilled Eggplant Salad
More Mediterranean influence! Won't you be glad when we get back from Paris and I start French cooking??

1 (1pound) eggplant, cut crosswise into 1/2 in thick slices
Cooking spray
2 cups coarsely chopped tomatoes
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon basalmic vinegar
2 teaspoons capers
1 teaspoon EVOO
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 garlic clove, minced

Preheat grill.
Lightly coat both sides of eggplant slices with cooking spray. Grill 5 minutes on each side or until tender. Cool. Cut into quarters. Combine with remaining ingredients. Toss and serve at room temperature. Yield: 4 servings.

86 calories for 1 1/2 cups.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Grandma, I'm a litte grumpy ....

It's OK to be tired. Riley (age 8) came home from overnight camp and said, "Grandma, I'm a little grumpy.." . What he meant was he was so tired that he was a little grumpy. I feel the same way today. Nothing is going as planned. I'm still trying to get my house in order after renovations. Every time I think I've got a mess cleaned up, a room straightened and ready to clean, something else comes up. Today, for instance, I took something to the walkout attic to store it and found evidence of a mouse's visit!!! YIKKEEESSSS! I hate mice!!! I'm just thankful that I didn't find the mouse! So, instead of cleaning downstairs (once and for all!), I took everything out of the attic, went to Dollar General to buy lots of plastic storage tubs then spent hours packing them and returning everything to the attic!! WHEW! I'm so tired, I'm a little grumpy, too!!!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Lord Provides and We Divide

Our neighbor down the road has a big garden. Proudly, at least once a week, she proclaims "The Lord provides and we divide"! And with those words we become the lucky recipients of fresh squash or corn or beans or cucumbers or whatever is in abundance from her garden on that day. In return, I share my meagar offering of cherry tomatoes or hot off the stove Squash Fritters. What a wonderful system!

Real life is like that. Those with abundance and blessings share with others. Maybe its just a kind word, a simple prayer, a smile to a passing stranger. Maybe, in this day and time, its a job lead or networking to connect people in need with people in the "know". The Lord provides and if we divide those blessings they will come back to us in multiples in ways we don't expect.

Look for ways to share. You will be blessed. Those with whom you share will be blessed. Be willing to accept from others. It's God's plan.

Friday, July 17, 2009

It's Blueberry Time in the Mountains!


Lemon Tart with Blueberries
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
2 cups blueberries
1 cup whipping cream, whipped to soft peaks

Preheat oven to 350°F .
Combine flour, butter, powdered sugar and salt in a food processor. Pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. (Or use a pastry cutter as you would when preparing a pie crust.)
Turn out into a 10-inch tart pan. Press even onto bottom and sides of pan to form a uniform crust. Bake until crust begins to appear dry, about 20 to 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, whisk together sugar, eggs, lemon juice and lemon zest in a large bowl. Pour into warm, baked tart shell. Continue baking for 20 minutes, or until filling has set. Remove from oven and let cool to room temperature.
Serve tart topped with blueberries and whipped cream.
Makes 10 servings.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Aunt Ruth's Squash Fritters


The first time I made these, my husband ate 12!
Need I say anymore???


Aunt Ruth's Yellow Squash Fritters

2 cups chopped yellow squash
1 cup chopped onion
1 egg
½ cup + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
¼ to ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
Oil for frying

Combine all ingredients and stir until moistened. Heat oil in a large frying pan.
Drop mixture by tablespoonfuls into hot oil. Fry until golden brown, drain on paper towels and serve while hot.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Revelation 3:8

"I see what you've done. Now see what I've done. I've opened a door before you that no one can slam shut. You don't have much strength, I know that; you used what you had to keep my Word. You didn't deny me when times were rough.

One Door Closes .... Another Opens


This came to me today via e-mail from one of my "oldest" and dearest friends. I thought it well worth sharing as many of us are going through uncharted waters.


Revelations 3:8


When God leads you to the edge of the cliff, trust Him fully and let go. Only 1 of 2 things will happen, either He'll catch you when you fall, or He'll teach you how to fly! The power of one sentence! God is going to shift things around for you today and let things work in your favor.


Have a blessed day and remember to be a blessing...

Friday, July 10, 2009

Wine Babes PS

All 3 of these "babes" sold in less than 2 hours at the Classic Swan!
Let me get more wine glasses to paint on and get busy!!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Wine Babes




My newest creation... Ok, I found them on a website, but mine look nothing like the other ones! Of course, mine are much cuter!! LOL!!!
Hope you like them. They're going in the Classic Swan Gift Shop in Murphy (I hope, if Judi likes them, too!) and for auction on Aug 8. to benefit the Murphy Library. I'll also take orders for personalized ones!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Ahhh... the sweet taste of summer!

GRAPE TOMATO “SALAD”

2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
2 pints grape tomatoes
6 green onions, sliced
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
½ cup chopped parsley
¼ cup fresh basil, chopped (Do NOT use dried basil!)

Add olive oil to a large skillet. Place over medium heat. Add garlic, tomatoes, onions, and cook until tomato skins burst. Remove from heat and add remaining ingredients. Toss and serve immediately. Yield: 4 servings

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Start off July 4th picnic with a BANG recipe!


SHRIMP CORN SALSA

1/4 cup Fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3/4 pound medium shrimp (can be frozen), peeled and chopped
1 (15-ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
1/3 cup Vidalia onion, finely chopped
1 avocado, cubed

Combine ingredients and refrigerate several hours or overnight. Serve with scoops or pita chips.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Good news!!

The good news today is that Brian and Laurie's house is safe from foreclosure and Brian goes tomorrow to finally complete paperwork for a job. This has all been a long time coming and full of challenges and pitfalls, but now it is done and they are on their way to a better life.

Thanks to all who have helped, who have prayed with and for us.

The last "challenge" was that on Friday the Post Office had lost the registered mail containing the check headed to the attorney to stop foreclosure proceedings. Through a lot of prayer, tenacity on the part of our Postmaster, and insistence on our part, the check was found and sent to its destination. Mark up anther gray hair or ten for me!! Don't mess with my children... you'll see another side of me!!!!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Adventures of Riley and Grandma


Monday, June 22, 2009

Roller Coaster Days

The past few weeks have truly been the "best of times and the worst of times". The entire family has been on an emotional roller coaster. Just when we thought we were over the worst and approaching the end, the "roller coaster" took a sharp turn and plummeted down an unexpectedly steep drop. It took our breaths, shook our teeth, made us want to throw up and then it was over. In the time it took to make the plunge, we were back on track and can see the end of this track. I, for one, will be more than happy to exit this ride.

All the while we were stuck on the ride, our friends were "on the ground" encouraging us and cheering us on. It made such a difference. It gave us hope and let us know no matter how tough the ride, they were there for us in the end. We stumbled off the ride and into their waiting arms. What comfort. What love. How lucky we are. God has blessed us richly.

I'm headed for a bench in the shade of a big oak tree. For just a little while, I want to sit back and watch. Maybe I'll ride the carousel... someday soon.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A fun almost 2 weeks~!

Grandma is getting worn out, but Riley is having a blast!! We've had 4 nites of Vacation Bible School, Riley spent the nite with friend's grandson, Wyatt, we all went to Fun World (similiar to Chuck E. Cheese), we've have had house guests for 3 days (with 2 wild kids his age of their own) and today we played in Fire's Creek. Skipping stones, discovering a mud puppy (crawdad), and wading in the freezing water were all fun. Now, we're off to the pool for swimming then his 4th swim lesson. Riley and Grandpa Bill built a yard toss game and have started putting together a model car. AND Riley's going to get to stay an additional week. What a great summer!!!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Answered Prayer!

Amazing! Absolutely amazing! Today, after 6 months without even a hope of one, Brian was offered a job! Praise God! There is no other answer... absolutely... without a doubt, this is answered prayer. There have been so many people praying for them that it boggles my mind. We are soooo very blessed to have such wonderful Christian friends. Thanks be to God for answered prayer and for good friends. I am humbled and grateful. Amen and amen!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Prayer

Prayer is the only answer, no matter the question. We all know it, but living it is the hard part. I'm praying that God will show Brian and Laurie HIS will for taking care of their family, keeping a roof over their heads and food on their table. At this moment, none of us can see the plan. We are trying to understand and keep our faith... its hard... really hard... pray with us.
Pray for us.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Muffins, muffins, muffins!

Riley and I made these for breakfast today. He ate 4 - guess they passed the taste test!!!

Strawberry Muffins

Quick, easy and yummmmy!

2 cups Bisquick
1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup cooking oil
1 (6-oz) carton strawberry yogurt
1 cup chopped fresh strawberries

Combine Bisquick, sugar, eggs and oil in large mixing bowl. Stir in yogurt until ingredients are wet. Gently stir in strawberries. Spoon into greased or paper-lined muffin pans. Bake at 400 degrees for 18-20 minutes. Cool and spread with butter. YUMMMMY! Makes 12 muffins.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Can you say RRRBBBBITTTT?

OK, these are just too cute! Cake mix, can of frosting, green gumdrops, white chocolate chips and a dot of black gel icing...
What fun!!!

This brings me to the week ahead- Vacation Bible School - Camp E.D.G. E. (experience and discover God everywhere). And a 2 wk visit from our 8yr old grandson, Riley! OH, I can hardly wait!!! We're going to have sooo much fun!!

Will keep you posted, as much as possible! But, wouldn't these frog cupcakes be perfect dessert for VBS???

Monday, June 1, 2009

Gardening in the mountains

A few weeks ago, I shoveled horse manure while my dear husband ran the gas powered tiller. Does anyone else see something wrong with this picture? Today, while my dear husband was in "town", I shoveled gravel and rocks after hoeing my little garden. Anyone else seeing a pattern here? Need I even mention the words "sore muscles"? Ohhhhhhh my aching arms, back, legs, you name it and it hurts!

In another few weeks (if we're lucky!) I'll have an abundance of veggies and it will all be worth it... and if I keep repeating that all night, maybe I'll fall asleep counting my green beans!

I planted 6 different kinds of tomatoes... several are marked, the others are your best guess! I started off with good intentions... not sure where I strayed. Oh, well. When they turn red, we'll eat them! I know for sure that there is a Mr.Stripy, heirloom variety. The tomatoes are, you guessed it, striped! I'll post a photo of this for sure.

My little garden includes 2 types of eggplant, yellow squash, zucchini, red pepper, yellow pepper, and cucumbers. Oh, yes, bush beans and runner beans. If you're picturing a large flat garden, think again! Reality is a terraced, fenced garden with 4 levels on a sloping hillside.The fence keeps out rabbits, an occasional deer, wild turkey, and bear! Welllll, I guess if the bear REALLY wanted green beans, the fence wouldn't do much to stop him.

Friday, May 29, 2009

A story with a lesson for us all....

A little girl had been shopping with her Mom in Target. She must have been 6 years old, this beautiful red haired, freckle faced image of innocence. It was pouring outside. The kind of rain that gushes over the top of rain gutters, so much in a hurry to hit the earth it has no time to flow down the spout.
We all stood there under the awning and just inside the door of the Target. We waited, some patiently, others irritated because nature messed up their hurried day. I am always mesmerized by rainfall. I got lost in the sound and sight of the heavens washing away the dirt and dust of the world. Memories of running, splashing so carefree as a child came pouring in as a welcome reprieve from the worries of my day.
The little voice was so sweet as it broke the hypnotic trance we were all caught in 'Mom let's run through the rain,' she said. 'What?' Mom asked. 'Let's run through the rain!' she repeated. 'No, honey, we'll wait until it slows down a bit,' Mom replied.This young child waited about another minute and repeated: 'Mom, let's run through the rain.' 'We'll get soaked if we do,' Mom said. 'No, we won't, Mom ... That's not what you said this morning,' the young girl said as she tugged at her Mom's arm."This morning, when did I say we could run through the rain and not get wet?"
'Don't you remember? When you were talking to Daddy about his cancer, you said, 'If God can get us through this, he can get us through anything!'The entire crowd stopped dead silent. I swear you couldn't hear anything but the rain. We all stood silently. No one came or left in the next few minutes. Mom paused and thought for a moment about what she would say. Now some would laugh it off and scold her for being silly. Some might even ignore what was said. But this was a moment of affirmation in a young child's life. A time, when innocent trust can be nurture so that it will bloom into faith.
'Honey, you are absolutely right. Let's run through the rain. If GOD let's us get wet, well maybe we just needed washing,' Mom said.Then off they ran. We all stood watching, smiling and laughing as they darted past the cars and yes, through the puddles. They held their shopping bags over their heads just in case. They got soaked. But they were followed by a few who screamed and laughed like children all the way to their cars. And yes, I did. I ran. I got wet. I needed washing.
Circumstances or people can take away your material possessions, they can take away your money, and they can take away your health. But no one can ever take away your precious memories...So, don't forget to make time and take the opportunities to make memories everyday. To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven.
I HOPE YOU STILL TAKE THE TIME TO RUN THROUGH THE RAIN.

Cherry Pie Time

We have a tart cherry tree in our yard. The cherries are red, ripe and luscious, albeit TART! This recipe is DELICIOUS! If you don't have tart cherries, use sweet dark cherries and reduce the amt of sugar in the cherry filling.





Fresh Cherry Cobbler
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
4 cups pitted tart cherries
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar (original recipe 1 tablespoon, being a good Southerner, I increased it to 1/3 cup)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons shortening
1/2 cup milk

Preheat oven to 400degrees. Combine sugar, cornstarch, cherries and almond extract in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and boils. Continue to boil and stir for 1 minute.

Pour fruit mixture into a 2-qt ungreased baking pan. Place in oven while preparing topping.
Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in large mixing bowl. Cut in shortening until mixture resembles large peas. Stir in milk and mix just until soft dough forms. Drop dough onto cherries in about 6 or 8 dollops. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until topping is golden brown. Serve warm with (of course, homemade) vanilla ice cream.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Lets cook something good today....

GRAPE TOMATO “SALAD”
Yummy with grilled steak!

2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
2 pints grape tomatoes
6 green onions, sliced (or 1 Vidalia onion, chopped)
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
½ cup chopped parsley
¼ cup fresh basil, chopped (Do NOT use dried basil!)

Add olive oil to a large skillet. Place over medium heat. Add garlic, tomatoes, onions, and cook until tomato skins burst. Remove from heat and add red wine vinegar, salt & pepper, parsley and basil. Toss and serve immediately. Yield: 4 servings

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Saturday Morning Beach Time

Saturday Morning Beach Time

Neon green, sunflower yellow, azure blue umbrellas flapping gently in the morning breeze

Children squealing with glee as the waves tickle their toes

Scent of coconut floating on the breeze from tanned young bodies sprawling on the sand

Gulls swooping over the water searching for brunch

Sun sparkling across the water and dancing to shore on the crest of waves

Waves rolling gently then crashing to shore drowning out conversation

Perfectly satisfied with this place in time, I sit, staring mindlessly at the unfolding scene as the morning stretches lazily into afternoon.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Picnic Salad

Orzo with Garbanzo Beans, Red Onion and Basil
Here’s another one of those great serve-at-room temperature recipes. It’s actually meant to sit around. Orzo looks like rice, but its pasta. Feel free to substitute rice, if that’s what you have on hand.

4 cups chicken broth or water
1 ½ cups orzo
1 (15-ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
¾ cup chopped red onion
½ cup chopped fresh basil
¾ cup Red Wine Vinaigrette
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Bring the broth (or water) to a boil in a large, heavy bottom pan over high heat. Add orzo. Cover and partially cook, stirring frequently, until the orzo is tender but still firm to the bite, about 7 minutes. Drain the orzo in a strainer. Transfer orzo to a large, wide bowl and toss until the orzo cools slightly. Set aside to cool completely.

Toss the orzo with the beans, tomatoes, onion, basil and enough vinaigrette to coat; you may not need the entire ¾ cup. Season the salad with salt and pepper, and serve at room temperature. Yield: 6 servings.

Red Wine Vinaigrette
½ cup red wine vinegar
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons honey
2 teaspoons salt
¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup extra virgin olive oil

Mix vinegar, lemon juice, honey, salt and pepper in a blender. With the machine running, gradually blend in the oil. Season the vinaigrette with additional salt and pepper, if desired. Yield: 1 ¾ cups.

Happy Memorial Day


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Beach Fun!

What a great location! On Sat afternoon we were at the finish line for a race of about 16 catamarans! Sitting on our 2nd floor balcony, we had a front row seat! It was a site to see!!!

On Fri nite we experienced the annual "Beach Bum Parade" through Tybee Island. Hundreds of locals lined both sides of the main drag armed with water canons and 55 gal drums of water! As we drove by (on our way to find seafood for our 1st dinner), they shot us repeatedly! Guess 2 " little old ladies" in a red convertible VW embellished with daisy decals was a fair target! Thankfully, the girls at check-in cautioned us to put the top up for the evening!!!! Lynda would NOT have been amused with a water logged interior!!! As we settled in for a nice dinner, the actual "parade" started with "floats" set on flat bed trucks and more water canons... shooting back at the crowed along the street... in the end everyone was wet - except us!!

We had a great 3 days at the beach despite less than perfect weather, ate our fill of fresh seafood and even indulged in a frozen drink - sadly, without umbrellas (the drinks, not us!)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

We're headed to Tybee Island


My "girlfriend", Lynda, and I are going on a "Thelma & Louise" trip to Tybee Island, GA. We promise not to murder anyone (unless necessary) and definitely will not commit suicide. However, we ARE traveling in her convertible VW bug, Daisy Mae. Our intent is to laugh a lot at nothing, eat as much seafood as we can hold and have a great time! See you next week

Double Chocolate Brownie Recipe

Double Chocolate Brownies

4 (1-ounce) squares unsweetened chocolate
¾ cup butter or margarine
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
½ cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup coarsely chopped Georgia pecans
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (Ghirardelli are best!)

Preheat oven to 350°. Combine chocolate and margarine in a large glass mixing bowl. Microwave on HIGH for 2 minutes or until butter melts. Stir until chocolate melts completely. Stir in remaining ingredients.

Spoon batter into a greased 13x9-inch baking pan. Bake at 350° for 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from oven and cool in pan. Cut into squares. Yield: 24 squares.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

My Prayer for Brian and his family

Lord, I don’t know why we always think we can do things on our own. Please empty me of myself and fill me with You. You alone have the key to solving all the situations that arise in my life. Help me to remember to come to You first. Amen.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Charlie, The Crazy Cardinal


The cardinal is the state bird of NC. Charlie, the crazy cardinal lives with us. At 6:30am EVERY DAY he flies at top speed into the large window in the living room (imagine a very loud THWACK). Like a cartoon character, he slides to the deck, then does it over and over and over again! He looks dishelved and worn, far from the regal photo seen here!
The first few times were amusing. The first few months were entertaining. At year two and counting he is not amusing, attractive nor funny. He's just annoying! He gets at it earlier every day and continues until I get out of bed and turn on lights. We've tried flashing the camera in his face - just made him more tenacious. We've tried shooing him away - he goes to another window. We can't shoot him - he's the state bird! We thought he was hungry - now he has a "wife" and I'm certain soon to have "baby Charlies". Lets hope he doesn't teach them his tricks. Meanwhile, Murphy, the Schnauzer, and I are up everyday at the crack of the cardinal on the window!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!


May your day be filled with warm moments, soft kisses and bear hugs from those you love!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

An Old Friend!





I found an old friend today. One who has been with me down rough roads and smooth sailing, sloshing through puddles on rainy days, dancing in the street, walking on the beach, running after puppies, tiptoeing through grass wet with dew, catching fireflys on a summer nite. I bought them more than 10 yrs ago in the Keys. They're not pretty (and never claimed to be!)

My feet slid into them and found the familiar worn spots. The soles are separating, the buckles rusted, the footbed stained with paint, sweat, mud and goodness know what else! Yet, I can't bring myself to toss them out!

Isn't it wonderful that we have friends that are like my old Birkenstocks? Comfortable, welcoming, been through thick and thin with you and still make you feel good! Aren't we so lucky????

Monday, April 20, 2009

Yuuummmyyyy!

MAMA’S BUTTERSCOTH BROWNIES
1 (1-pound) box brown sugar
2 cups Bisquick
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup chopped pecans

Mix well by hand and pour into greased 9x13-inch baking pan. Bake at 350˚ for 30 minutes.
Note: You can add chocolate chips (or other flavor chips) before baking.

Busy weekend!

Whew! It was a very busy weekend, but such fun! We saw baby Vicki - Mama, Daddy and baby are all fine. Didn't get to see little brothers, but will see them soon, I hope! Then we visited with Bill's old friends, one of my friends from years ago in Florida AND went to Sarah & Jared's wedding! WHEW!

Kelley and Zach were wonderful hosts for our extended house guest visit. They made us feel right at home in their cute house. It has so much personality - just like them!

I look forward to seeing more of the children - especially the little ones!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

We're going to see the baby!

Tomorrow we're going to see the baby! I'll take lots of pictures and post all of them! Get used to it.

Then we'll go to Sarah and Jared's wedding. It seems like we've waited forever for this one! Yeahhhhh! THE day is finally here. Its been such fun to see these girls grow up and become the young ladies that they are and find these wonderful young men to become their life partners. I'm so proud of each of them.

It should be a fun weekend!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Our first granddaughter has arrived!


Victoria (Vicki) Annette Turk has arrived! She joined her 2 big brothers, Riley (8yrs old) and Alex (almost 2) today, April 14.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Springtime recipe

One of the joys of spring time eating is an abundance of fresh asparagus. Try this recipe for a real treat! Make your own fresh bread crumbs by whizzing 4 slices of white bread in the food processor then spreading in a flat pan to dry in the oven.

Asparagus Gratin with Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese

3 quarts salted water

24 medium-size asparagus spears (about 1-1/2 pounds)

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

2 tablespoons fine plain dry bread crumbs

1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted


Bring the salted water to a boil in a large saucepan. Trim the woody ends from the asparagus stalks. With a vegetable peeler, peel the bottom half of the stalks. Add the asparagus to the boiling water and cook until tender but still crisp, about 6 minutes. Drain well.


Meanwhile, in a small bowl, toss the cheese, bread crumbs, and lemon zest together until blended.


Preheat the broiler. Arrange the asparagus stalks in a single later in an 8-inch square or similar-size flameproof baking dish. Drizzle the asparagus with the melted butter and sprinkle an even layer of the bread crumb mixture over it. Broil about 4 minutes from the heat until the bread crumb mixture is golden brown, about 3 minutes. Serve hot.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

He is Risen!

Our hymn in church today was "He Lives!".
"I serve a risen Saviour, he's in my heart to stay....
He walks with me and talks with me
Along life's narrow way....
He lives! He lives! Christ Jesus lives today!"

AMEN

Saturday, April 11, 2009

After the storm

Did anyone else feel the connection between the storms of last night and the fact that it was Good Friday? Good Friday, the day Jesus was crucified, the day the heavens turned black. I found it unsettling. I approach today with a feeling of emptiness and despair. I worry about my children. I worry about the economy. I worry about my inability to make it better for them.

I could sit down and cry with depression. Maybe this is how the disciples felt.


I did not sleep last nite for examining over and over in my mind every decision I've made since 1972. Every move, every change that affected my children and my failed marriage to their father. If only I could go back and do over so many things. Would life be better for us? I'll never know. Its painful to re-visit the old hurts.

Save your breath, I know I have much for which to be thankful.

I KNOW that God forgives us. I KNOW that Jesus died on that cross so that we can be saved from our sins. Tomorrow, I KNOW that we will celebrate his resurrection. Tomorrow, I need to KNOW that my children will be OK.
My heart knows it is so, my head needs a sign.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Easter Sunday

Easter Sunday brunch calls for something fun and easy. This recipe fits the bill! Serve these rolls along with omelets (made to order), fresh fruit and a cup of really good coffee - yuummmm!

Honey-Pecan Roll
Refrigerated crescent rolls are the base for this easy sweet roll.

1 (8-ounce) package refrigerated crescent roll
1 cup finely chopped pecans, divided
¼ cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 Tablespoons butter, softened
Honey

Open crescent rolls and spread out to a form a rectangle. Roll dough to a 14-x-9-inch rectangle, pressing perforations to seal.
Combine ½ cup pecans, sugar and butter in a small bowl; stir well. Spread over dough. Roll up jelly roll fashion, beginning from long end. Pinch ends to seal. Place seam side down in a crescent shape on greased baking sheet. Brush with honey; sprinkle with remaining pecans.
Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 10 minutes; slice and serve warm.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Crafts and other things

The baby shower for Laurie was great. She is HUGE. Brian was afraid security in Wal Mart would stop her for attempting to steal a basketball!
From the back, she is tiny. But, OH MY, the baby is quite obvious when she turns around. She got lots of nice things, pretty things and necessary things. They'll be fine.

It was nice to be able to spend the nite at Kelley and Zach's without being in the way. Peanut enjoyed it, too. He had a crate reprieve for a few hours as I left mid morning on Mon. I shopped my way home, enjoying being the only customer in the stores at 10 on Monday morning!

Now for more craft time at home. Got to run to "town" for supplies and help. I'll post pics of my project - a small "thank you" for the friends who have shared baby "hand me downs" for our baby girl!

Update on our "walk and talk" time. Two of us walked Monday afternoon, 4 of us walked in the cloudy, cool morning today. We're up to 2 miles each day and trying for 4-5 days each week.... give us a hand for tenacity!!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Busy days

First, the "ugly cookies". Haman's Ears. I made them for the ending class of a 9 wk Bible study on Ester. The study, with Beth Moore, was amazing. The cookies required a consultation with my Jewish friend, Esta (derivative of Ester?) and much consternantion on my part as I struggled with the dough. After googling the image, I realized that most of the homemade ones were as ugly as mine! LOL! The class loved them and ate all but 3! Perfect end to a study about providence and a reversal of destiny!

The rain is back. The basement doors are leaking and the downstairs carpet is wet!!! Ahhggghhh! This house has been a challenge from day one and continues to be. Thank goodness for our wonderful friend and contractor, Mr. Frank who will come to our rescue and replace 2 "French style doors". Happy Anniversary! Oh, well.... what else can we do???

It rained out our "girl talk and walk" today, but I got on the treadmill and did my 2 miles anyway! Good for me!! Praise, praise, praise!

Tomorrow is a shopping trip to the city! Hurrrahhh! Watch out ATL, here we come!! Up at "dark thirty" and back by early evening (maybe before dark?). It's always fun to touch, feel and smell things in the city!
And good to come home to NO traffic!! You guys can have that part!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Lighten Up

Spring Vegetable Salad with Buttermilk Dressing

WW POINTS Value: 5

Buttermilk is naturally low in fat and therefore is a great base for this creamy dressing. We drizzled it over salad but you can also use it as a dip.

1 1/2 cup(s) asparagus, cut into 2-inch lengths
10 medium baby carrots, halved lengthwise if thick
1 cup(s) sugar snap peas, stem ends snipped
1 medium English cucumber, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced
1/3 cup(s) buttermilk
3 tbsp reduced-calorie mayonnaise
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp table salt
1/4 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
2 tbsp chives, fresh, sliced (or green onions or NOT)
2 tbsp dill, fresh, chopped ( or 1 tbsp dried)
6 cup(s) mixed baby greens
4 oz semisoft goat cheese, crumbled

Bring a large skillet half full of water to a boil. Add asparagus and carrots; cook 1 minute. Add sugar snap peas; cook until vegetables are crisp-tender, about 1 to 2 minutes more. Drain, rinse under cold water until cool and drain again. Put vegetables in a medium bowl and add cucumbers; toss to mix.

In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk, mayonnaise, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper until smooth; stir in chives and dill.
To serve, place 1 1/2 cups of salad greens on each of 4 salad plates. Place about 1 cup of vegetable mixture in center of each; drizzle each with about 3 tablespoons of dressing and 1 ounce of goat cheese.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Class Reunion Time

Confession time... my 40th high school class reunion is April 24 in Marion, Alabama. That is enough motivation to get me walking every day! Probably too little, too late, but I do NOT want to look like a "mountain woman" when I see folks I haven't seen in years. Funny thing, the women will be recognizable, not so for the men. Ha! Most of them will be balding and paunchy - maybe.

Here's a "blast from the past"

How Much things cost in 1969:
Year End Close Dow Jones Industrial Average 800
Average Cost of new house $15,550.00
Average Income per year $8,550.00
Average Monthly Rent $135.00
Average Cost New Car $3,270.00 Toyota Corona $1,950.00
Gas per Gallon 35 cents
Alarm Clock from Westclox $9.98

News headlines from 1969:
Richard Nixon becomes President of the United States

250,000 march on Washington in protest at the Vietnam War

The first man is landed on the moon on the Apollo 11 mission by the United States and Neil Armstrong and Edwin 'Buzz' Aldrin became the first humans to set foot on the Moon. and the famous words "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." will become part of our history

Golda Meir of Milwaukee, Wisconsin , USA, becomes Prime Minister of Israel

The US institutes the draft lottery to determine draft into US Forces for Vietnam War

Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) Established

Chappaquiddick Affair Senator Edward Kennedy driving a car plunges into a pond and a body of a woman passenger is found in the car

Members of a cult led by Charles Manson murder five people August 9th

Hurricane Camille hits the Mississippi coast killing 248 people

Wal-Mart incorporates as Wal-Mart Stores, Inc

Charles de Gaulle Resigns as French President

Rising Inflation is a worldwide problem

Woodstock attracts more than 350,000 rock-n-roll fans

The US Supreme Court rules on Stanley v. Georgia declaring "The State may not prohibit mere possession of obscene materials for personal use".

The U.S. Air Force closed its Project ( Blue Book ) concluding there was no evidence of UFO's

Thursday, March 19, 2009

We're walking

"The Girls" are walking! Two mornings in a row - that's not much, but its a start! 1.5 miles on our local walking track where you can see the mountains, hear the birds sing and dodge the red worms on the track. Ahhh, life in the mountains...


Tip for the day:
Next time you walk, watch your arms and legs. If you take short steps, you are more than likely not having your arms swing much. Or if you are taking good sized (comfortable) steps and your arms don't swing much, don't be alarmed. Most people (and I do mean most) have 'tight' Latissimus Dorsi muscles that have become weak because of over-worked/stressed upper Trapezius muscles. Next time you walk, try to swing your arms a little bit while keeping your shoulders down and locked in place (not letting them move up/down/side to side). The more the swing, the more your Lat's work and the better your posture becomes. Your Lat's are one of the muscles that, if strong, holds you up very tall and relieves most back pain. Do your best to check yourself out when you walk, and swing those arms a bit to enhance that posture!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Playing in the dirt again!!!!


Just think, digging in the dirt now can produce an abundant crop of wonderful fresh tomatoes this summer!!! Yuuummm, I can taste them now! Sprinkled with fresh basil, drizzled with good olive oil and a splash of balsamic vinegar.....surely heaven must have vegetable gardens.
Today was a beautiful day for digging in the dirt! Too early to plant, but just the right time to move a few things around, share plants with a friend, and get ready for spring! I'm happiest when my hands are caked in dirt and my shirt smells like sweat! What a dainty girl I am - NOT!!!
If only we could plant now... but alas, our last frost date is May 15... seems like a long time to wait. I'll have to be content to dig when I can and dream about veggies and flowers......

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St Patrick's Day!

May the luck o' the Irish be with you today!
May your day begin with rainbows and end with joy.
May the winds blow evil away and bring happiness to your doorstep.
And may you have more friends and blessings than you can count!

God bless you!


Irish Coffee Brownies

1-1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup Irish Whiskey
2 tablespoons instant coffee crystals
1 cup chopped walnuts
2-1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon Irish Whiskey
1-1/4 teaspoon vanilla
3 to 4 tablespoons brewed coffee
Chopped walnuts (optional)

1. Heat sugar, butter or margarine, and 1/2 cup cocoa powder in a large saucepan over medium heat until butter or margarine melts, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add eggs and 1 teaspoon vanilla; beat lightly just until combined.
2. Stir together flour, baking powder, and baking soda in a bowl; set aside. Stir together milk and 1/4 cup whiskey; stir in coffee crystals. Add flour mixture and milk mixture alternately to the chocolate mixture, beating by hand after each addition. Stir in nuts. Pour into a greased 15x10x1-inch baking pan.
3. Bake in a 350 degree F oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack.
4. Meanwhile, for the Irish Coffee Glaze, stir together sifted powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 tablespoon Irish whiskey, and 1-1/4 teaspoons vanilla. Stir in 3 to 4 tablespoons brewed coffee until of drizzling consistency.
5. If desired, sprinkle with additional chopped nuts. Makes 36 brownies.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Recipe note ...

I made this recipe for dinner last nite using an eye of round roast. It has less fat and is "more healthy" than a chuck roast. It was very good! The beef will shred after cooking for 8 hours. Great for you working folks or us busy crafters!!!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Let supper cook itself

Slow Cooker Barbeque Beef

1 (3 pound) boneless chuck roast
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
salt and pepper to taste
1 (18 ounce) bottle barbeque sauce


Place roast into slow cooker. Sprinkle with garlic powder and onion powder, and season with salt and pepper. Pour barbeque sauce over meat. Cook on Low for 6 to 8 hours.

Remove meat from slow cooker, shred, and return to slow cooker. Cook for 1 more hour. Serve hot.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The end of the beginning...

I just returned late yesterday from my last trip to help the kids with the BIG move! Peanut is now officially the guard dog of the mansion and they are reasonably settled. I was amazed at all they have accomplished! They've really worked hard to get so much done in such a short time. Kel has pics posted on her blog. It feels like "home"! Now, I hope they will slow down a bit and enjoy it!

As for me, I'm slowing down and recuperating! With a few rainy days ahead, I may do nothing!!! LOL! Those of you who know me well, know that is NOT going to happen!

St. Patrick's Day is Tues! We're invited to dinner Mon. and Tues. nites.... now to find appropriate recipes for an Irish girl to take...hmmmm. I'll share what I find!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Easy Recipe for Quick Dinner

This is a great "comfort food" recipe. You can buy packages of cooked, cubed ham at the supermarket. Recipe doubles easily for a 9x13-inch baking dish.
Ham and Potatoes
1 ½ cups cooked, cubed ham
3 cups diced cooked potatoes (Yukon Gold are best)
¼ cup margarine
½ cup chopped onion
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
Salt & pepper, to taste
¼ teaspoon dry mustard
½ cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese
8 crushed Ritz crackers
1 tablespoon melted margarine

Place ham and potatoes in shallow 1 ½ quart baking dish. Melt ¼ cup margarine in large saucepan; add onion and cook until transparent. Blend in flour, stirring constantly. Cook for 2 minutes. Gradually add milk and cook, stirring until thickened. Add salt, pepper and dry mustard. Pour mixture over ham and potatoes. Sprinkle with cheese. Combine crushed crackers and melted margarine; sprinkle with additional cheese. Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes or until bubbly.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

5 Days Later...

and more than a few sore muscles! The kids are well on their way to being ready to move into their house. I forgot to take my camera, so go to Kelley's blog to see before and after pictures! It really is transforming into "their" house. I was happy to help.

Now I'm back home in NC with their dog, Peanut. He and I returned on Wed. after a short stop in Canton for groceries at Publix. Peanut was a good traveler except when I tried to listen to Andrea Bocelli... he did NOT like the music, so back to radio and we were OK again!

I've come home with a terrible head cold, probably from breathing the polluted ATL air~! Now, I shall go rest and get ready to go back on Monday after they move in, take the dog to them, and help do some unpacking....

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The BIG day is almost here...

Tomorrow, Feb.27, the kids close on their first house. What a glorious day! I'll be going down to help paint and clean so they will be ready for the big move on Monday, Mar.9.

If you don't hear from me, its because I'm too sore to write!! I should have been in training for this!!! What was I thinking??????

Wish them luck! Wish me stamina! Before and after pics to come!!!!!

I love my children soooo much!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

'09 Travel Plans


We're FINALLY booked for our '09 trip. Its been a "challenge" getting all the pieces together. We started out with just the two of us traveling to France, then our group grew to include 2 other couples and 2 single ladies, all of whom I dearly love! I'm terribly excited to have a group to travel with, Bill, not so much. Oh, what the heck... he'll get over it or we'll leave him to fend for himself in Paris!


Did I tell you we're flying to Paris, taking a "bus" to Normandy, boarding a small ship for a Viking cruise down the Seine River back to Paris, then staying over in Paris for 3 nights before coming home. The hotel in Paris is a little boutique hotel near the Eiffel Tower. We've requested a view room but of course, that may mean leaning out the window to actually see the tower! Who cares! We'll be in Paris!!


Those of you who followed my e-mails on our trip last year to Europe remember me speaking "Sesame Street Spanish" in Barcelona. Well, if I don't get on the stick and learn a few French phrases, it will be "Sesame Street French, too!!! Our trip is Aug.29-Sept.9, so I have time!!!


And ohhhh, the food we will eat!! Guess I'd better get on the treadmill soon, too!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The JOY of Grandchildren!

Psalm 23:6 "Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."

Today, Feb. 22 is my oldest grandson, Riley's, birthday. He is a "big 8 years old" as he tells me. I can hardly believe it! It must have been just yesterday that he was born and I held him close and told him of all the fun things we would do together... can that REALLY have been 8 years ago??? What a joy these 8 years have been with him. We've played, painted, planted, read, built, cooked, attended Bible school and hugged a lot over those 8 years. This is a child wise beyond his years with a heart that loves everyone. He is a joy and a blessing. He is my "goodness and mercy". He is my buddy!

And since Riley is 8, it means that my Mama died 7 years ago. It was 2 wks after his first birthday that she left us. This is a bittersweet time for me. I rejoice in this small life that brings so much joy and happiness yet a part of me still misses my Mama. There is a part of my heart that still holds her dear and wishes that she could experience the love of this child. I'm sure that she looks down on all of us and watches over our every move. Just as sure as I am that God, our loving Father, watches over each of us every minute of every day.

May our loving God continue to watch over Riley so that we can celebrate many more birthdays with him! Thank you, God, for grandchildren to keep us young and parents to remind us that we are always someone's child. Most of all, that we are all God's children.

Monday, February 16, 2009

This is the BEST eggplant recipe I've ever tasted. It's a keeper!!! If you don't have gratin dishes, put the whole thing in a shallow casserole dish. I used leftovers the next day for a panini - yuuummmmm!

Eggplant Gratin - from The Barefoot Contessa

Good olive oil, for frying
3/4 pound eggplant, unpeeled, sliced 1/2-inch thick
1/4 cup ricotta cheese ( or mozarella, if you don't have ricotta handy)
1 egg
1/4 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup good bottled marinara sauce

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Heat about 1/8-inch of olive oil in a very large frying pan over medium heat. When the oil is almost smoking, add several slices of eggplant and cook, turning once, until they are evenly browned on both sides and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Be careful, it splatters! Transfer the cooked eggplant slices to paper towels to drain. Add more oil, heat, and add more eggplant until all the slices are cooked.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together the ricotta, egg, half-and-half, 1/4 cup of the Parmesan, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.

In each of 2 individual gratin dishes, place a layer of eggplant slices, then sprinkle with Parmesan, salt and pepper and spoon 1/2 of the marinara sauce. Next, add a second layer of eggplant, more salt and pepper, half the ricotta mixture, and finally 1 tablespoon of grated Parmesan on top.

Place the gratins on a baking sheet and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the custard sets and the top is browned. Serve warm.

Rated: 5 stars out of 5

Thursday, February 12, 2009

RENEWAL... a short story for Valentine's Day


She wriggled her toes in the cool damp sand. The early morning breeze blew across her upturned face. She stared absently at the emerald green waters of the gulf. Soon the breeze, warmed by the sun, will blow across the beach crowded with noisy children escaping multiplication tables and spelling tests. However, for now, the beach was hers. Sharp cries from delighted gulls swooping down on their unsuspecting breakfast pierced the quiet of the morning. As the waves lapped at her feet, she saw the outline of yesterday’s sand castles. Maybe the children will build them again today. With a deep sigh, she leaned against the hard back of the wooden chair. By mid morning, the hotel staff will offer pillows and umbrellas. Sitting on bare wood in the early morning was all the comfort she needed. She closed her eyes and memories rushed over her. They met here, many years ago.

She was young with sun kissed skin, eyes bright with expectation. He was handsome, tall, and dark from months of working outside. They met on this very spot, or at least one close by. They could see nothing but each other and feel only the promise of years of happiness. Ah, they were young and in love. It felt so good; it felt so right.

Theirs was a fast courtship, a strange word today, but correct in all its implications. He met her family; she met his. They went to movies, dances on Saturday night and church on Sunday morning then afternoon picnics with their friends. They talked for hours about everything and nothing. They were inseparable. No one was surprised when he gave her the ring. It all seemed perfect.

Then the war came. Before they could be married, he left. She never forgot the outline of his shoulders beneath the uniform as she watched him walk away. She held fast to her dreams, believing that one day he would come back and they would live the life they planned. She knew that he was the great love of her life. There was no doubt that he adored her. Time and distance cemented their love as both wrote long letters, sometimes more than once a day. One day there were no more letters. There was no explanation. At first, she kept writing daily, hoping that her letters would reach him. After a year with no word, she wrote weekly. Then one day she stopped writing. She could not go on. Her heart broke with every word she wrote. If she stopped writing, perhaps the pain would go away. She never heard another word from or about him.

That was over 40 years ago. She lived a busy but lonely life. If she kept busy, she did not have time to think about it. He was one great love in her life. Some nights he came to her very plainly while she slept. She woke with a familiar feeling of love and comfort. In the morning light, she realized it was only a dream.

As she sat on the beach, she felt the loving gaze of his deep blue eyes, his gentle touch, the shape of his fingers, the curve of his neck, his long lanky legs, she thought about all for which she had to be thankful . Many never know the great love of their life. She counted herself lucky to be one that had loved, if only once. The sun warmed her body but not her soul. She moved to the shade of a rainbow colored umbrella. Closing her eyes brought him back to her. With the sound of the waves lapping on the shore, she found peace and was renewed again.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The House


I finally got to see (in person) Kel and Zach's house - a dream come true for them! It's cute as a bug, in a quiet neighborhood and has room for them to grow into. I'm so happy for them! God did good - he saved the best for them when the time was right, just as we knew he would!

There will be things they can do to make the house fit their lifestyle and personalities and that's the fun part! I'll help them paint.. I actually like to paint.. instant gratification! It will be fun to see the transformation as they move from newly wed apt dwellers to "settled" homeowners! I have no doubt that they are ready for the next step. I'm so proud of and for them!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Cabin Fever!

I' ve been out of touch lately. Consumed with cabin fever, house mania (thanks to Kel and Zach) and generally bored out of my mind.... I was reduced to sitting and staring aimlessly out the windows at the bare trees.


Thank heavens, I had a renewal of energy along with a spurt of creative juices which moved me to the craft room to pick up my paintbrushes. After a rusty start, I painted 4 wine bottles this week and sent out a notice to friends and family that I'm once again in the "painting for bucks" business.

Where else in this economy can you get a personalized, hand painted, gift for $10??? Ok, so after looking at websites, I realize I'm under priced, but the main objective is to give me a purpose for getting out of bed. Forget getting rich! LOL!! I forgot that dream another lifetime or two ago!




Here are a few samples, if you're interested, contact me and I'll paint for peanuts. I can also paint on wine glasses, decanters, pitchers, old windows or whatever! Make me an offer... challenge me!


thesoutherncook@yahoo.com