Thursday, December 22, 2011

Hello, all...

It saddens me that I haven't posted in over a month as it is basically the only thing I do for me.  In the last month, I have tackled finals (4.0 for this semester!!!), gotten ready for next semester to start, taken care of a daughter that had her ear tubes, tonsils and adenoids taken out, been without water when our septic system failed (still not completely fixed, why do these things happen when the ground is frozen?!?), had a husband almost cut a leg off after removing a deck from over top of our septic system (stupid previous owner) and much, much more.  I am tired...I am sick.   Litteraly, my immune system could only cope so long with no sleep and uber stress, so here I am at Christmas with an upper respiratory infection.  Sigh.  Everything in my life is house, my laundry, my sanity (mostly my sanity), but slowly and surely, things are getting better.  Personally, I look forward to 2012 and hope it is a bit easier to deal with than 2011 was.  Anyone feel as I do?  Christmas is always my favorite time of year, but shamefully, I want this one to be over.  My preparations have been presents are wrapped, but not prettily, my house is decorated, but not up to par, I've done little baking, watched no Christmas movies, etc.  The things that get me in the spirit have not happened around here.  Despite my apparent grumpiness, I do wish everyone here a genuinely Blessed Christmas. 

No matter what we do or don't have materialistically, this season is full of promise and hope for me.  Let us never forget the true reason for the season!  Merry Christmas!

Monday, November 21, 2011

As we enter the holiday season....

The last week I have struggled...God has been leading me in a direction that isn't easy.  I am not a person who enjoyes confrontation-at all.  God has been preparing me and calling me to do things that scare me.  He seems to be saying to me in the upcoming season of celebrating the birth of his son, he wants me to give love....not just to give love through gifts, but to share more of him.  I have been praying and studying and everything has become so clear.  You see, if we truly experience the love of Christ, a love that he willingly spreads wide and encompasses all that is, has been and ever will be, we should want to share at all costs. 

We put so much time into making sure we buy the "perfect gifts" for our family members.  We buy coordinating wrapping paper and bows, we fuss over our decorations, spend huge amounts of money...y'all know the drill we all do it.  Imagine if we spent that much time and energy making sure of our loved ones salvation.  If you love someone and haven't shared the love of Christ with them, are you loving them at all?  Is it superficial?  True love will cross the boundaries of fear and embarassment and call you to do things you aren't sure about!  I would like to ask my blog followers to do two things in the next week.  First of all, take some time to be truly alone with GOD and just listen.  Now, I know how hard that is.  In my house, my Five year old is attached at the hip....make time.  Sit in a closet if you have to...allow yourself to be intoxicated by his holy spirit.  Allow your love tanks to be filled with the love that covers sin and ask for him to show you his will for your life.  I can promise you it might seem strange, even scary, but it is renewing. 

Secondly, I ask that you reflect on the real reason for this upcoming Christmas season.  Sometimes I forget that my relationship with Christ is extravagant.  In our never ending quest to "one up" our neighbors, we lose sight of the luxuries we have in him that are free!  True friendship, unending love...the list goes on and on.  Will you share true extravagance this season or will you try to capture the ways of the world?

Monday, October 31, 2011

The Laughing Cow...

Light, French onion that is.  Has anyone tried these?  They are wonderful.  Creamy and delicious with only 35 calories and with 8% of RDA of Calcium!!  I bought a little round of these jewels about a week ago and I am hooked.  They are the perfect little pick-me up and are oh so good with some buttery crackers.  There's also pretty good without crackers....some people might eat them with their fingers.  I don't know who would do that, just saying.  I've been wondering why I've avoided trying these for so long and it probably was the 35 calorie deal.  I mean, most low-fat dairy products are pretty gross.  Believe me, there's nothing low-fat about the taste of this product.  Check it out!

Friday, October 28, 2011

A simple, yet indulgent treat!

I'm gonna clue y'all in on my favorite snack.  It's quick, easy and so good.  You only need three things and about 30 seconds to make this.  Sounding good so far right?  Cinnamon graham crackers, marshmallows and Nutella should be kept in any home at all times.  Seriously.  If you have not tried Nutella, you have not lived and I firmly believe it should be on everyones bucket list.  I'm thinkin' by now you've figured out that I am making a glorified s'more and you would be correct.  I've really never gotten the whole smore fascination.  For one, I do not like Hershey's chocolate--it is mediocre at best and it never seems to to melt quite right, it either seizes or stays semi-hard and melted around the edges only.  Then you have the plain-jane honey graham crackers, to me it's all just so-so.  Part of the lovely experience of camping out, but not something to eat regularly.  One day, I decided to build an "Ina Garten" smore.  You know, to take a standard recipe and take it over the top.  I decided to use cinnamon graham crackers because happen to love the taste of cinnamon and chocolate together.  Next I started thinking about the chocolate and decided to try was an instant success.  I just don't know if it can be improved upon.  So give it a try and tell me what y'all think.  I think you will be making these often :)

Ahh, what a simple cast of characters...gotta love it!

Take a generous amount of Nutella (or in my case the Kroger knockoff with macadamia nut chunks) and schmear it on....

Add your mallows are stick in the microwave for about 15 seconds on high.  You may have to experiment a bit, but make sure you do not overdue the time as the mallow will get hard.  Nobody like hard marshmallows!  You want to take this baby out when the marshmallows start to melt.  You won't have any trouble doing this because you will be standing right in front of the microwave watching in anticipation any way!

And finally, the end result.  Wow!  So good.  Nutella is wonderful and I use it in a lot of different ways.  It is amazing on top of Breyers strawberry ice cream, eaten directly from the spoon when no one is looking and it pretty tasty when schmeared all over your hubby on your anniversary weekend.  Oops, forget that last line!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Another Anniversary post :)

Probably will be my last post for a few days as the end of week/weekend will be a bit crazy.  Unfortunately, my babygirl is having a few health issues and will need a bit of surgical intervention asap (prayers are appreciated).  My actual anniversary is on Sunday and we have tentative plans, but I fully expect them to change.  Change is okay....even if we are huddled on the couch watching a movie while nursing a sick babygirl, life is good.  Anyways, few things in my life are as important to me as food, but music is right up there at the top.  When I think about my hubby, several songs are special to me....I'm gonna share them with you!  Again, I'm gonna go with the twelve theme again ;)  Aren't I so imaginative!?!  Lol.

12.  Hold me- Jamie Grace and Toby Mac.  I just love this song and even though it is fairly new, this song makes me think about when my husband and I were dating and were young and carefree.  Take a listen here.

11.  God Gave Me You-Blake Shelton.  First of all, I feel Blake Shelton's music.  He is amazing.  This song makes me think about how my hubby can right almost any bad mood I have.  When I am sick, he comforts me, when I am off course in my faith, he sets me straight.  He is the one I go to when I have a problem and he never lets me down.  listen.

10)  It's Your Love-Tim McGraw and Faith Hill.  This song was played in our wedding and I still love it!  Here's a link for your listening pleasure.

9.  I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing-Aerosmith  This was also a wedding song and I can still picture our pastor tearing up because he had never heard the song before-he loved it!

8.  At Last-Etta James  This song has long been a favorite of mine.  It's just amazing and has such an intimate feel.  Wow.  And no, Beyonce can not do it better, sorry!

7.  Let's get it on-Marvin Gaye  Seriously, who doesn't love this song and think about their love when hearing this?  I'm thinking this needs no explanation, so just take a listen.  Do try to control yourself!

6.  Kiss an Angel Goodmorning- Charlie Pride  Charlie Pride and his silky smooth voice=pure love.  It's a great song and my hubby think he rocks this song out, so he sings it to me often.  It's sweet and I will forever love having it sang to me.  Whether or not he actually sings it well, is our little secret.

5.  Zac Brown Band-Free.  You know, this song means a lot to many different people.  For me, it symbolizes the kind of life we enjoy.  We aren't huge on all things materialistic.  We don't need a lot to get by and are happy with our little family of three.  This is an awesome song.

4.  You and Me Going Fishin' in the Dark-Nitty Gritty Dirt Band  First of all, who doesn't love the NGDB?  This song floats my boat and describes the perfect "date night" for me and my hubby.  Love it!

3.  Love song for a Savior.  Jars of Clay.  So this is not a secular song and doesn't really describe our love, but before hubby and I were officially date (we were very interested!), we attended a Christian concert together with my youth group and were able to see the Jars in concert.  When this song was performed, I felt a stirring in my heart telling me my hubby was to be mine.  It scared me!  It took me a while to talk to him about this and he told me he had felt the same.  A match literally made in heaven.  This is "our" song.

2.  So This is Love-Disney (Cinderella)  "So this is the miracle that I've been dreaming of..."  The song is that a word?  This was actually played in our wedding too.  Allow yourself to feel wooey :)

1.   Before introducing number one, it must be said that these are in no particular order at all.  I just added as I had that "OOOOHHH" moment and as they popped into my head.  It's really quite hard to narrow a song list down to 12, but I just did the best I could, dang it!  Anyhoo,  my final pick is Kiss Me, Sixpence None the Richer.  I just love it, it's happy and I love that after 12 years, a kiss from my hubby makes me feel like I'm still 17!  Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A top twelve for my hubby of 12 years....

Almost 12 years!!  Our anniversary is 4 days away and I decided he might just be important enough to blog about ;)  I met my hubby almost 13 years ago at the tender age of 17 and let me tell ya, I was not ready to be hitched.  Little did I know after four dates and two weeks, my heart would be his.  Disgusting, isn't it?  We were engaged in two months and my parents surely wanted to die.  As a parent of a little sweetie, I just can't even imagine what they went through, not do I want to attempt to empathize with them.  Our engagement was a bit longer....18 months.

My husband is about as country as they get....I was always attracted to the country boys.  They were always so fun....not full of themselves and really down to earth.  They were usually respectful and kind and what you saw was what you got.  Did I mention most farm boys had natural tans, nice muscles and big ole' farm trucks?  Lol.....I'm a sucker for boys like that!  Lol....anyhoo, my husband fit the category well!  He's never been afraid of hard work, loves the Lord with all his heart and is an amazing daddy.  He is real.  It's pretty safe to say he floats my boat on a daily basis....(think Kangaroo Love!!!).  As I was saying earlier, he is very country.  Now, I grew up on a farm, y'all.  I drove tractors, worked in tobacco, whatever needed to be done, but I wasn't anywhere as country as him.  His southern drawl is so strong it's scandalous, he can totally rock a pair of chaps, he can do it all :)  Seeing as we are getting ready to celebrate our anniversary, I thought I would do a list of 12 reasons why I love him more now than I did then....

12)  He is the only man I know who can rock Navy cologne.  It stinks on most people, but his body chemistry + Navy is amazing.

11)  He reaches for my hand first and often...sigh.  He is not afraid to hold my hand in public and initiates it often.
10)  This is somewhat related to 11, but it is so big to me I think it is worthy of it's own number.  His hands are rough and strong.  He is a hard working provider and his hands reflect that.  NO sissy, smooth hands for me.  GROSS!

9)  He like a good chick flick now and then.  Mr. Macho wouldn't openly admit this in his circle of friends, but he loves to watch a chick flick with me every so often!!

8)  He is my best friend.....he's not ashamed that I am his.  My hunny is the first to admit this.

7)  He tries his best to make my dreams come true.  If I want something, he makes it happen if possible.  He REALLY listens when I talk and will get me something I mentioned casually in a conversation months before just to make me happy.  I am always shocked and most often, I have forgotten even mentioning the item.

6)  He tells everyone I'm the best cook he's ever known...and he means it ;)  He told me after we married he always thought his momma was a good cook, but he was convinced he was wrong about that...aww!

5)  He is committed.  This needs no explanation.  I am blessed.

4)  He will forgo shaving for a few days every now and then because he knows I like stubble.

3)  He reads Dr. Seuss books to babygirl religiously because he knows she loves them.  He hates Dr. Seuss.

2)  He is adamant we pray together as a family every night before bedtime....he is a man that is secure in his faith.

1) Finally, every year for our anniversary, he sings me our song at 6:43 pm....the exact time when we were pronounced husband and wife. 

Now you see why he floats my boat?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Picky, picky eaters :(

I struggle on a day to day basis with a household of picky eaters.  Grr...I'm sure I'm not the only one, but it gets annoying to say the least.  Babygirl, started off loving all vedgetables and fruits.  I never worried about her nutrition because she would eat ANYTHING I put in front of her.  Heck, she had never even had a hotdog until she was two (wretched things!).  What her grammy gave her when I wasn't looking is unbeknowst to me and I choose to not think about it ;)  Somewhere around the age of Four, she started deciding she no longer liked anything healthy.  Now, it's an absolute struggle to get her to eat decently.  This is surely a typical kid thing, but I hope and pray she changes back into her old self!  I refuse to let her eat things that are fillers only!  My hubby on the other hand, likes all fruits and vegetables, but he is so picky about how things are prepared.  He doesn't like cheese, anything spicy- really he likes his food bland.  He likes canned biscuits much more than homemade and he doens't like sausage in his gravy.  WEIRD!  Despite the fact that he has been a southerner his whole life, he has some strange eating habits.  I'd never allowed myself to think or dwell on their pickyness until I started thinking about bloggable recipes.  Every single recipe I make is changed in someway to suit their preferences.  This week, I decided I was going to start cooking a meal one night a week that is just the way I like it.  Selfish?  I don't think so and my man and babygirl can eat or go hungry!  Lol.  We'll see how this goes!  I"m going to include a recipe below that is easily changed up.  You can use any combination of cheeses that suit your taste or even make this when you have a bunch of cheese you need to use up!

Homemade pimento cheese

4 ozs. Velveeta cheese (no substitutes), softened
1 1/2 cups shredded colby cheese, divided
1 small jar diced pimentos, undrained
1 tsp sugar
pinch of salt
1/8 tsp pepper
Miracle whip to taste (no substitutes)

Start off by making sure your cheese is room temp first.  I set mine out about 1/2 hour before I'm ready to use them and it works well.  Room temperature cheese will mix cannot do anything with cold velveeta!  Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix with a hand mixer until everthing is combined.  When I say Miracle Whip to taste, I usually use  about 2/3 of a cup.  I realize this might be a bit heavy for some, so just play around with it.  I like my end result to be creamy.

*Some things in life are too good to mess with, when I say no substitutions on MW and Velveeta, I mean it!!!  They are far superior to any other brand, either store brand or name brand, that I have found.  I'm all about saving a buck when I can, but this is not a place I can do it!

*If, I were making this for my hubby, I would use sharp cheddar instead of colby.  It def gives the mixture more of a bite.  Sometimes I will use half colby and half sharp.  You can really use any kind of cheese you like!  Do try to grate your own cheese, it really is better! 

*Consistensy is important to me and you may have noted that I wrote in that the cheese should be divided.  I like Pimento cheese to be creamy, but I don't want it to be mush either, soooooo.......I mix everything together and add 1/2 cup of shredded cheese at the end and stir it in with a spoon instead of a mixer.  This allows a bit coarser texture.

Pimento cheese is a staple in the South and it is so good with a hot bowl of vegetable soup or chili

Monday, October 17, 2011

Out of the mouth of babes....

Well, not exactly babe, my babygirl is almost 6 (I must come to terms with that!!), but she still pulls some pretty cute sayings out of her hat every now and then.  Babygirl was born premature and was born to a mother who already had an adoption plan in place for her.  Only premature by a couple of weeks, she needed no additional care and was taken to the newborn nursery immediately.  My husband and I went straight to the hospital when notified of her birth, but unfortunately, she spent 12 lonely hours in the nursery-alone.  She had no one to bond to, hold her close or whisper "I love yous".  Don't get me wrong, her nurses were wonderful, but they are not able to provide the care that a mother gives.  It's always broken my heart when I think about her laying in that nursery in a bassinet while all the other babies were in their mothers rooms.  As soon as we were able to bring her home, my husband and I began practicing Kangaroo Love.  For those of you who are unfamiliar, Kangaroo Love is skin to skin contact.  We would sit in the recliner with her in her diaper only and lay her across our chests.  We would cover up with a soft blanket and she would cozy up and fall asleep.  It was precious and I really believe it helped to create a strong bond.  Studies have shown that Kangaroo Love is very effective and doctors recommend it highly. 

Long story short, I was telling babygirl all about her birth and how we used to hold her.  She thought the concept of Kangaroo Love was hilarious!  Out of the blue she ask "Mom, do you and dad ever practice Kangaroo Love on each other!?!  She thought she was being pretty funny and enjoyed the flush of my cheeks immensely.  About that time, my hubby walked in the room and I told babygirl to ask him.  Being the typical man, my hubby says "anytime we get the chance!".  HAHA!  Babygirl and my hubby continued to laugh at my expense, but it was a cute moment.  Hopefully she won't go to school today and talk about mommy and daddy practicing Kangaroo Love! 

Friday, October 7, 2011

Tell me one again who I am to you.....

Does the title sound familiar?  I'm thinking it does if you listen to CCM at all.  This is Jason Gray's new song.  I just love Jason Grays testimony and his music.  He is so real, I've seen him in concert in Louisville and he just touches my heart.  For those of you who do not know, his life has been filled with adversity and he is frank about it.  One of his main issues is a speech impediment...he stutters quite badly.  As a singer myself, I cannot imagine how this problem has impacted his life.  Through it all, he has been a light for all who hears his music and his last release is not different.  Listen here if you like.  Sometimes we need to be reminded just who we are in Christ.  We are children of the KING!!!  We were so important that we were uniquely made in his image....isn't that amazing?  If that wasn't enough, GOD sent Christ, his only son, to die for our eternal promise.  Even on our lowest days, when we feel lost, we should reflect on the love Christ holds for us.  I am thankful for being able to rely on GOD's holy word for instruction and encouragement in my daily life. 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

I'm still here...

Sorry for the lack of posting.  My babygirl and I have been enjoying her fall break.  We haven't done a whole lot, but we have done everything together and that is the main thing.  We have went to the lake and fed ducks and geese, had picnics, snuggled on the couch and watched know, the things we don't always take time to do when school is in session and hectic.  I however, have not been on fall break.  It has been soooo hard to find time to study and do my assignments!  To make matters worse, this week and next week are midterms :(  Ack!  As usual it always comes at the worst time (is there a good time!?!?)  My GPA after this week will probably take a  I have several posts lined up for next week, so stay tuned!  as for now, we are heading out to grow our family a bit.  We are adopting a sweet, male Shih-tzu and we hope he is a good fit for our family!  Pictures to come later....he is a doll!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Pray for me...

No one said being a Christian was fact, it's the hardest thing I've ever done.  The closer you get to GOD, the harder Satan works in an effort to default your beliefs.  Most days I'm so thankful that I am not who I used to be; thankful that I see things in a different light.  Up until this point, being a Christian has not involved a lot of sacrifice on my part.  Even before being saved, I was, according to the world, a pretty good person.  I've never been drunk, never done an illegal drug, tried to live a moral life, etc.  I had more good going on that bad.  In the last month or so, one of my lifelines (seriously) has been a point of conviction in my life.  MuSiC!!!  Oh, how I love music.  There's nothing that can get me through a day like a good country song.  A song about hitting a back road, or the unique sound of George Strait's voice....I could go on and on.  Country has always been me...but lately...well, I just can't stand what country has become.  Nearly every song is pathetic.  I've always loved me some Alan Jackson because I thought he was pretty true to his roots, but if you pay attention to his songs/videos, alcohol and a practically naked woman/women are always included.  Some of the titles of the newest songs need no explanation.....Country girl (Shake it for me), One more drinkin' song, etc.  Heaven forbid, I EVER see my little girl shakin' it for some stranger who is lookin' her up and down.  I'm just done with letting this music filter into our lives.  I'm done with having to switch a song before a cuss word comes on, done with only listening to certain cd's when she isn't with me...DONE!  What's good for the goose is good for the gander.  It's gonna be sooo hard, I just love the sound of country music!  Grr....I guess I will be listening to more bluegrass, more contemporary christian and more oldies.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Apple butter...

Apples have been of the highest quality round these parts this year and I have been trying my best to take advantage of that.  I've frozen homemade applesauce and cut apples--a bushel's worth.  Now I've moved onto making apple butter.  As much as I like to can, it's odd that I had never before made this delightful treat.  My husbands mom seems to have made "the best", but sadly her recipe seems to have died along with her.  My grandmother's recipe just doesn't float my boat, so I began to look elsewhere.  I finally decided to try making a crockpot butter because it is sooo darn easy.  Let's face it y'all, if we can come up with an easy way that tastes pretty good, we have to go for it!  Who has time to slow cook apple butter on the stovetop for hours?  Not I!  I searched until I came up with the following recipe:

2 tsp of cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp ground cloves
1 1/2 cups apple juice
2-50 oz jars of unsweetened applesauce
4 cups sugar
3 lbs of peeled diced apples

Simply combine all and cook on low for 12 hours.

I tried this recipe to the letter the first time.  I typically do unless I see a glaring problem...I like to give the original recipe a chance.  Well, this one was grody.  It was waaayyy too spicy for my families liking and too sweet.  The color did turn our to be a rich, dark brown and it could'nt have been easier, but it just wasn't perfect.  Seriously, why use wonderful apples if you can't even taste them over the spices?

So, I made another batch.  This one is muuuuch better.  Again, if you like your apple butter full of spices, you might love the first recipe.  To each his own.

1 1/2 cups apple cider
2-50 oz jars of unsweetened apple sauce
4 lbs of Golden Delicious apples
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch salt
1/2 tsp ground cloves

The apple cider has so much more flavor and is worth the effort if you can find it.  Most people have no issues this time of year, but I must admit my little hokey grocery store didn't have anything other than apple juice :(  Sigh.....I also want to note that Golden Delicious apples are naturally sweeter than say a macintosh or a granny smith.  Either of which would be excellent choices, just make sure to adjust your sugar accordingly.  It was a matter of personal taste that I added brown sugar.  I just love the flavor it imparts...adds such depth and richness so I considered it to be a win-win.  I actually cooked this for about 13 hours.  You may also notice extra other words, the butter looks like runny you know what!!!  Just leave the lid off for an hour or two with the crockpot on low and the extra water will evaporate. 

I encourage everyone to try this need not have any experience in the kitchen to conquer this one!  If, the butter isn't canned properly, it must be frozen or used with three weeks of refrigeration.  I haven't taken the time to actually figure up the caloric content of a serving, but I can tell you it's a pretty guilt free indulgence :)  Have I mentioned the smell?  My house smelled like heaven while this was cooking!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Diabetic lemonade...

Considering that my original lemonade recipe is my most viewed post, I thought I would give you a good recipe for all the diabetics out there.  My mother is a diabetic and she came up with this trick years ago and I use it several times per week.  The recipe couldn't be more simple and it is surprisingly good.  Start off with Crystal Light lemonade mix-----stick with me, I know the mix is horrible!  Take a fresh orange and slice half of the orange into thin rounds.  Put the rounds into the lemonade mix and squeeze the remaining half of the orange adding the juice into the mix as well.  Give everything a stir and refrigerate for an hour or so.  I don't fully understand how this works, but the fresh orange juice makes this concoction taste homemade....there is absolutely no taste of aspartame in this AT ALL.  Maybe it's the essential oil in the rinds, maybe it's just the thought of fresh juice being in the mix...whatever it is, people never guess this isn't fresh squeezed.  Even my extremely picky, borderline diabetic husband loves it.  The mix states the caloric content of a serving as being 5 calories.  I would think you would raise that to around 10 or so.....fine by me!  Lol. 

Butcher day!!!

It's the simple things that make me happy, really it is.  For the last few months, I have been going to a local butcher and buying all the meat needed for a months time.  The amount of money I save is HUGE.  So huge that I've paid for my deep freeze in just two months....amazing.  We, like most families probably, consistently use 4-5 cuts of meats the most and those are the ones I stock up on.  Our local butcher is fabulous....the meat is so fresh and the flavor doesn't even compare to what is available in chain stores.  Plus, as y'all know, I live in a very rural area and I just love having a well-stocked freezer.  Today, I spent 57 dollars and here's a pic of what I got after dividing everything.

I realize it's pretty hard to tell what is what so here's the breakdown:  6 lbs of ground beef (lean) for 1.99/lb, 4 lbs of boneless skinless chicken breast for 1.79/lb, pre-sliced pork loin for 1.99/lb (I think I had 7 lbs), boneless sirloin roast 2.89/lb (3 lbs), 2lbs of fresh sausage 1.00/lb.  I also got one lb of sliced bologna (1.89/lb), one lb of chipped turkey (3.79) and one lb of chipped ham (3.79) and 1/2 lb sliced colby cheese (not sure of the price on this one!).  For those of you who don't know, lunch meat freezes beautifully as long as it is low-fat.  If you find a good deal, buy extra and freeze it.  Just allow a full-day per lb for the meat to defrost when ready to use.  As you can see, I got an amazing haul for the amount of money I spent.  My family of three will eat on this for a good month......Going to your butcher and buying in bulk is very much worth the investment of time.  I maybe spent fifteen minutes dividing and packaging the meat into usable portions.  25 lbs of meat for 57 dollars!  I forgot to add a lb of slab bacon in the grand total :)  I encourage everyone who enjoys hunting for a bargain or who needs to cut back on their grocery expenses to try out your local butcher!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Good and stinky...

I know y'all are wondering what gives with the title.  Well, let me tell ya.  In the last week I have cooked, greens, cabbage and salmon patties.  Shew....Febreeze can't even take care of the smells.  My house has a very open plan and I can't keep kitchen odors confined to the kitchen.  The best thing I have found is to take the rind of a lemon, lime and orange and simmer them in water on the stove top.  The essential oils release and they offer a nice, light citrusy smell.  I do this a lot....sometimes daily.  We like stinky  I am going to share my recipe for salmon patties.  Baby girl loves these and I make them for her a couple times per month.

Start off by taking one can of salmon and remove bones.  The removing of the bones does not thrill me...I would gladly pay more for the bones to already be history!!  Once this chore is done, place in bowl and add one large egg.  Take two pieces of stale bread and tear into small pieces-this will be mixed into salmon mixture.  You will need 1/2 tsp each of garlic and onion powders.  It would be perfectly acceptable to use fresh minced onion and garlic here.  My family doesn't like raw onion and garlic much at all.  When making salmon patties, the inside is only warmed through, so you will chomp down on crunchy pieces of onion and garlic....ick. 

I also have 1/2 tsp of salt on my plate  You are ready to throw bread and seasoning in with salmon and egg mixture.  Mix together very well.  Mixing well will serve to purposes-one to break up any small bones that were missed (always happens) and to also incorporate the bread well.

Because my mama always did, I add approximately a TSP each of mustard and ketchup.  As an afterthought, I added about eight grinds of pepper as well.  Mix again until combined and form into patties.  I shape mine a bit smaller than a hamburger and usually end up with six.

At this point, many people add a crust...I do not.  If you chose to add a crust, you could do cornmeal, cracker crumbs or panko.  I think a cup of panko with a tbsp of Parmesan cheese might be pretty tasty.  Just make sure you dip your patties in egg first to help the breading stick.  You are ready to drop your patties into a 1/2 inch of heated vegetable oil.  I have to honest...I brown the fire outta these.  A super dark crust will make these extra crispy and delicious.  You have to trust me, mine end result looks burnt, but doesn't taste burnt in the least.  After pulling from the hot oil, I rest the patties on a double layers of paper towels for a couple minutes to absorb extra grease.

Is anyone else Christmas shopping yet?

I have officially started.  Usually, I am done by the end of October and while I haven't set any specific goals for myself (lol), have started buying.  The last day of school for myself is Dec. 3rd and I intend to be done with shopping completely by then so I can truly enjoy my time off.  Goodbye micromanaged, getting up super early, running to school twice per day...all of it.  A 4 week reprieve will be greatly appreciated!  Anyhow, one of the perks of shopping early, is not having to deal with crowds and getting good deals.  Yesterday after dropping baby girl off at school, I went to Belk (one of my favorite stores) and found some amazing deals.  I was able to get my husband four Chaps button up shirts for 24 dollars total!  I also picked up two incredibly cute beaded cuff bracelets.  Seriously, I want them for myself, but they will be nice smallish gifts.  They would be perfect for babygirls teacher and instructional assistant, great little stocking stuffers...the ideas are endless.  I am suddenly kicking myself for not buying every stinking one of them :(  Can you guess how much I paid for these jewels?

Well, originally they were 15.99.  I paid 2.74!!  What a steal.  I've found when I find something like this, it's best to snatch it up.  I keep a Rubbermaid container in my closet for such buys.  These would be perfect for stocking stuffers, Secret Santa gifts, gifts for piano, dance or school teachers, etc.  I think I just talked myself into going back and buying more!  lol.  Right now is actually a great time to start shopping as most stores are offering good deals with the weather change.  People are updating fall wardrobe and discounts are deep to encourage that!  This year, more than ever, I will be looking for good deals.  We all need to be good stewards of what GOD blesses us with...there's just no reason to spend a fortune or even go into debt for the Christmas season.  We are to celebrate the birth of Christ...not to distract ourselves with more financial worry!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A huge part of my day....

So this post is a bit off the wall, but I thought it would be appropriate to post about something that consumes a major part of my day....the car rider pick-up line at my daughters school.  In the mornings, things aren't so bad.  A couple of local police officers direct traffic and I make it in and out in less than 15 minutes.  The afternoons, however, are not so fun.  I've found parents are so immature and selfish.  Quite frankly, no wonder so many children are little terrors these days....they learn these traits from their parents as far as I can tell.  Parents are supposed to line up two by two around a loop system until they approach the pick-up area and we are then supposed to drive single file.  Does that happen gracefully?  NO!  Everyday rivals a nascar race.  People are shaking fists, cutting each other off, flippin each other the bird.  I shouldn't be shocked, but honestly, I see something that blows my mind on a daily basis.  Parents start lining up an hour and a half before school lets out for the best spots.  I'll be honest, I thought this was ridiculous until I had to deal with the chaos that occurs towards the back of the line.  Sooo, I now get there early and sit in my car for an hour.  What do I do for an hour, well inevitably I need to pee.  This poses a problem as the entrance doors of the school are always locked.  I would have to walk a country mile to the front of the school and actually go to the office and check in before I could pee!  Geez!  So, let me introduce you to my bathroom.....

Yes, the porta-potty is a godsend for us car-rider parents.  Gross, but oh so necessary!  If, I am not running for the porta-potty, I can be found doing any number of things.  Things that would surely embarrass my daughter, but what she doesn't know can't hurt her.  I give myself mini-pedicures and manicures, makes lists (grocery, to-do, etc.),  I text a lot.  Note:  most people that know me well know I'm a very infrequent texter.  If you suddenly receive several texts in a row from me, you can bet I'm in the pick-up line.  Lol.  I study.  A lot.  I actually do a lot of my college reading in the car.  If I'm a really lucky girl, I will read a book for pleasure.  I also listen to my music appreciation cd's and interpret music as according to my assignments.  This is a funny one because my windows are always rolled down due to the heat and I can only imagine what others are thinking when they hear music from the Middle age, Renaissance and Baroque periods blaring from my car!!!  Opera anyone?  lol.  I try not to sing along to further humiliate the family :) 

The things we do for our children! 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A simple womans daybook

Outside my window- The weather is FINALLY moderating and it is a glorious day.  The temperature is nearing 70 and the sun is shining!  Praise GOD!  I actually rearranged my great room so I could put my computer desk beside a window!

I am thinking-how busy this week is going to be, but how extremely blessed I am to be able to stay home and take care of all our needs.  Sometimes being home full-time can be frustrating, but it really is the best for our family.

I am thankful-my husband being sensitive to my needs.  Being home full-time, I don't feel like I can buy myself things like I did when I was earning a salary.  My husband knew I had been eyeing a particular camera lens (that I did not need) and he bought it for me!  Today will be a wonderful day to try it out!

I am going-nowhere until I have to pick babygirl up at school.  We will then rush home and do homework and supper and then head back to school for grandparents day!

I am reading-a chapter in my music textbook and two chapters in my communication textbook.  When in college, reading for fun goes out the window.

I am hoping-for a weekend getaway.  I love road trips!

Around the house-I am hoping next week will allow me some time to do some painting.  This week, I have deep cleaned the great room and put up new curtains.  Makes the whole house feel so much fresher.

A few plans for the rest of the week-schoolwork, housework, youth, prayer service at church on Thursday night, a specialist appt for my hubby and a specialist appt for my babygirl.  Hoping the weather will cooperate so we can camp out this weekend.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Checking in....

Today I am so busy I can barely breathe and I don't have much time to post.  I'm working hard to get my schoolwork under control so I can place my attention on the chaos our week will hold.  We have appointments every night after school and if makes me feel grumpy, very grumpy.  Not to mention we are all being plagued by allergies right now.

I just want to briefly talk about something that has been on my mind lately.  I am not going to complain or rant or rave...not even a bit.  I am sad.  Have y'all noticed how songs being played on Christian radio sound very secular?  For example, take a minute and listen to this song.  The song is catchy and upbeat and I really like the sound of it...honest, I do.  The problem I have is that the Lord is mentioned casually a few times and nothing about the song screams "Contemporary Christian".  I have no problem with the style of the song and I do not believe sacred music need be reverent, hymn-like or calm.  Pop and rock music with a Christian stamp is so needed in this world and I support it, but a person should have no problem identifying it from other more wordly artists.  Am I alone here?  What about Revelation 3:16, and what GOD tells us about being lukewarm?  How many of us are going to be "spit out of his mouth" for being mediocre in our walk with him?  Am I making a big deal out of this?  I don't think so, and as Christians we should be concerned with anything that doesn't appear absolute.  Again, I am not bashing Ms. Jamie Grace.  I think she is fabulous and I'm sure she loves the lord with all her heart, I just wish these upcoming artists would consider their witness a bit more.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Where were you?

As a child growing up, I distinctly remember hearing my parents and grandparents talk about particular events that shook them to the core.  I can't tell you how many times I have heard my mother talk about the assassination of JFK and the death of Elvis Presley.  It always seemed that she remembered every detail so vividly...exactly where she was when she heard the news, what she was wearing, who was with her, etc.  Every time she told the story, it was as if she was reliving the experience emotionally.  Personally, I never understood where she was coming from.  Until September 11th, 2001, that is.  How vividly I remember being at work and answering a personal call from my then 82 year old strong, patriot of a grandmother.  Her voice was strange and shrill as she explained that one of the world trade center towers had been hit.  We were still on the phone as the second plane hit and it became obvious terrorism was the cause.  I felt lost.  How could this happen to us? The United States of America had always seemed exempt from such occurrences.  It was just unfathomable.  At work, we had no television or internet access, so we were glued to the radio listening for bits of information.  We would not fully understand all that had happened until reaching our homes that night and seeing the utter devastation on our television sets.

The sights were horrific.  I believe at 21 years of age, I began to fully understand what the term empathy really meant.  I had not yet been married two years, but could only imagine how so many new widows were feeling.  Children had lost a parent/parents, homes were destroyed, jobs were lost....nothing would ever be the same.  As awful as those images were, I couldn't pull myself away from the television.  It was consuming, one couldn't get away.  Somehow, 10 years later, we are still consumed.  Maybe we should be, we should never forget.  Our guards cannot ever be let down again....closing our eyes will not make things better.

Cube steak: so much more than I ever imagined.

For me, I've never cooked with much cube steak.  I've always considered it to be a cheap, tough cut of beef.  Other than making the occasional country fried steak, I've never used it.  When my daughter came along, I started making steak fingers (same as country fried steak, but cut into long strips) because she loved them and I could get some red meat into her.  Babygirls chronic anemia caused me to start keeping cube steaks around.  For me, they are just so-so, but babygirl and my hubs wolfed them down along with the typical sides of mashed potatoes and gravy.  On a positive note, it was an easy and cheap meal, so I never said much.  Recently, I have become a huge fan on The Pioneer her, love her blog and love her style of cooking!!  She makes a sandwich that she loving calls "The Marlboro Man sandwich".  The Marlboro Man is her nickname for her husband, Ladd.  Ladd is a tough, hard-working rancher who is a meat and potatoes man all the way.  Sounds like my  I decided to try the sandwich and oh my goodness, I simply fell in love.  Seriously, y'all.  It shouldn't have been that good....nasty ole' cube steak, 2 lbs of butter (maybe a touch of an overstatement) and lots of Worcestershire sauce.  How could that possibly be good?  I just don't know, but it is.  Here is a link to her recipe

Some of the pros of this recipe are:  It takes about 20 minutes start to finish, which I love.  It's pretty cheap....cube steak is about 4 bucks per lb and this feeds 4-5.  Seasoned salt, worchestershire sauce and fresh garlic and onion don't set ya back much either.  As for the bread, I like using fresh bolinos from Wal-Mart bakery and they are like 1.60 per six.  As for the cons, well, if you are not a very active rancher, these have waaay too many calories for the average bear to burn off.  The amount of sodium in these babies is pretty crazy as well.  Bottom line:  don't make too often or these will increase your bottom line.  I make them no more than twice per month and I anticipate these like a child on Christmas morning.  It.Is.A.Sickness. 

Above is the real deal in my real kitchen.  You don't need a 3000 dollar camera to make this look!  Above picture is taken with my old D80, no natural light and a 150 dollar lens.  No retouching or editing....:)  And yes, I think my bokeh is quite acceptable!  Oh and BTW, I really don't change PW's recipe at need for it :)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Confession time: Clothes shopping.

Hows about another non-food related post?  I do not like to shop for clothing.  I hate it, actually.  Shopping for my daughter has always been more manageable.  At the age of Five, she has turned into a diva overnight.  Strangely enough, this happened about the time she started school-which is a whole other post in itself.  It has become necessary to build her fall wardrobe very quickly.  I thought we would have another month or so to do this, but we have gone from continuous 90-100 degree days to days with highs in the upper 50's.  Sooooo....we made a trip to the mall.  Clothing was to be purchased for babygirl and myself.  All of my fall clothing is too big and I desperately needed a few things myself.  The trip was a disaster.  Babygirl now hates anything I like and vice versa.  The experience was so frustrating and we do face a few non-typical limitations.  For one, babygirl is very girly and yet, traditional at the same time.  She loves to wear cute, long dresses, doesn't like character tees (thank goodness) and happens to be very petite for her age.  It's so hard for her to find something like she wants to wear that will actually fit properly.  In the past, we have had pretty good luck at Old Navy, but to be honest, I am so fed up with their lines.  Maybe I am the only one, but I have noticed a HUGE amount of inconsistency in their sizing.  Not to mention the quality issues.  I have had major shrinking, fading, peeling and the most annoying problem of small holes developing in the paper thin materials.  Does anyone else have these issues?

A friend of mine recommended The Children's Place to me and I decided to order a few things last week online.  I found the pricing to be very good.  At the time I ordered, a sale was going on plus a 15% online coupon and free shipping.  I was able to get her six shirts and three pairs of socks for 53 dollars!  I was pretty dang happy about that.  I was very pleased with the styling of their clothing overall and the quality is very, very good.  The cotton shirt arrived with a very soft and substantial feel and best of all.....babygirl loved them!  Yay! 

Shipping was also very fast.  If my next transaction goes as well, I think I will forever be converted. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

I'm behind on all my chores, so why not blog?

The title says it  My husband has been working oodles of overtime and I have been managing all aspects of our household, going to school full-time, juggling one Dr appointment after another and I just can't seem to get caught up.  My laundry is suffering, my house is horrible and my schoolwork...oh my schoolwork.  It makes me want to cry.  Normally, I am ahead and in good shape, but right now that is not the case.  So, why am I blogging and not working?  This morn I have already taken two tests, completed two discussion board posts and completed a 600 word assignment.  I am due a break! 

I trust everyone had a most wonderful Labor Day holiday.  We had a good time overall.  We made a long trip to visit a cousin in the hospital, went to Mammoth Cave for a tour, caught a play, went to Nashville and went out to eat a couple times.  Last night was the first time all weekend I took time to cook a good meal.  My choice was soup-I know y'all are shocked by that one ;)  Glorious vegetable soup!  Here's my recipe. 

one medium onion, diced
one lb of ground sirloin (quite often I use leftover chuck roast that has been shredded)
1/2 lb sliced carrots
1 cup frozen lima beans
1 cup frozen corn
1 small can petite diced tomatoes
3 beef bouillon cubes
4 cups tomato juice
4 cups water
salt and pepper to taste
1 large can veg-all homestyle cut vegetables

Begin by sauteing onion in a small amount of olive oil.  After onion is translucent, add beef and brown.  Drain any grease that you might have.  Add rest of ingredients and simmer for at least 30 minutes.  This really is so tasty and VERY easy.  I like to simmer for an hour or so and serve with cornbread, sweet tea and apple tart.  This makes 8-10 servings and is even better the next day!  This can also be thickened and turned into Shepherd's pie if you like that kinda thing, I don't but some do!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

My epic strawberry cake failure....

My father-in law just celebrated his 70th birthday and since his wife isn't the best cook and certainly isn't the baker, I volunteered to make him a cake.  Knowing that he loves strawberries, and knowing that I had been wanting an occasion to try out a particular recipe, I got to work.  A few months ago, I bought a cookbook written by Johnnie Gabriel.  Johnnie has a lovely cafe in Atlanta and her name has become popular for couple of reasons:  her food is pretty tasty AND she is Paula Deen's cousin.  First of all, Paula Deen doesn't do much for me....her food does even less.  I just don't think she portrays the typical southern cook and most of her recipes are just mediocre.  When I glanced through Johnnie's cookbook for the first time, I noticed the recipes were a bit more elegant...maybe a mixture of Paula Deen and the Barefoot Contessa.  Here's a picture of the cookbook.

 I will say that the photography is excellent and I would recommend the book for the dessert recipes alone.  The first recipe I tried was a rather involved strawberry layer cake with cream cheese icing.  My first mistake was not listening to my momma.  Throughout the years, momma has told me on numerous occasions that a boxed cake mix simply cannot be improved upon.  Momma was right.  This cake involved sifting, creaming, adding cream, milk and buttermilk, butter AND shortening and beaten egg whites.  I'm afraid the end result tasted eggy and was too delicate.  The layers fell apart on me.  I'm not going to give you the recipe to the cake because I honestly think you would be better off to use a regular yellow cake mix and add 3/4 cup of chopped fresh strawberries to the batter and bake as directed.  As long as you end up with three nine inch layers, you will be good to go.  I am, however, going to give you the recipe for the cream cheese icing because it was among the best I've ever had.

You need:

1 1/2 sticks of softened butter, salted
1 1/2 packages of cream cheese
3 lbs of powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup of chopped fresh strawberries.

Make sure you cream cheese and butter are softened and whip together.  Slowly add powdered sugar and combine.  Add vanilla and combine.  Gently add strawberries and fold them in.  When I first gathered the ingredients for the icing, I thought the ratio between the butter/cream cheese and powdered sugar was off.  Do not fear, the icing will be thicker than normal, BUT the extra liquid from the strawberries will thin the icing.  You need to start off with a super thick icing to get the right consistency.  This will give you enough icing for a 3 layer nine inch cake (and lots of taste testing!). 

It really is divine.  The recipe also called for brushing each layer of the cake with simple syrup.  I think that would be an especially good addition on a boxed cake mix layer.  To make a simple syrup, simply combine one cup of sugar with one cup of water.  Heat to a boil in a heavy saucepan and boil for three minutes.  Allow to cool before brushing onto your layers.  Ice the cake and enjoy.  Below is a pic of the finished, floppy product.  You can't really tell in the picture, but the back of the cake was a mess.....completely fell apart.  What did I do...I served the cake anyway.  Just like life, perfection is overrated and the cake was still pretty tasty.

Happy baking!

Fall is almost here....bring on the soup!

Fall is my favorite season.  The crisp air, lovely changing leaves, colors...etc, I just feel so alive during this time of year.  I doesn't hurt that I love fall foods.  Food becomes more hearty and soups are suddenly desired again.  I don't know about y'all, but I love, love, love soup and make some type of homemade soup once per week.  My favs are cream of broccoli, chili, white chili, vegetable and tomato bisque.  Yummy!  My hubby isn't a big fan of soup other than winter and that breaks my little heart :(  Fortunately, he will eat taco soup year round.  It is quick, easy and oh so tasty.  Pretty dang healthy too!  It's a win-win.  I'm going to share my recipe with y'all today...I bet everyone has these ingredients on hand.  This recipe freezes well and will make 8 very healthy servings.  I like to serve this with crushed Frito Scoops, sour cream and shredded Mexican blend cheese on top.  My toppings make me a bad girl and the soup is delicious without them, but a girl only lives once, right?  A piece of cilantro would make a bright, pretty garnish as well.

First, cut up a small onion and saute in a bit of olive oil.  Saute until onion is translucent.

Have I mentioned yet that this is a one pot meal?  Somehow, one pot meals always taste better.  Lol.  Next, add one pound of ground sirloin and brown.

Drain off any grease if necessary and add  two cans of light red kidney beans.   Of course, any type of firm canned beans would be fine.  Also add a can of canned corn (I prefer the extra sweet white variety, but just use whatever you have on hand.)  

 I add  1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp freshly milled black pepper, 1/2 tsp cumin , two cloves of garlic and one packet of taco seasoning.  My family turns their noses up at extra heat, but this recipe would be great with the addition of cayenne or a tsp of adobo sauce.

Last but not least, add three cups of tomato juice and three cups of water.  Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.  I like to cook this for 30 minutes of so to let all the flavors meld, but really, it should be fine after 15 minutes or so.  Quick, easy and very economical. 

Note:  All the acid from the tomatoes can be downplayed by adding a tsp of sugar towards the end of cooking.  I actually like the way the sugar enhances the flavor and my acid reflux thanks me as well!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

I am still alive....

Just barely, though.  The last month of my life has not been good.  Why, you ask?  I have had dental problems.  Big ones.  Never before have I had a toothache and I never want one again.  Long story short, I am the queen of dental hygiene....I mean I love it so much, I'm making it my career.  I see my dentist faithfully, I floss...I do everything I'm supposed to do.  It seems I have failed in one area-wearing a mouth guard.  It seems that not wearing a mouthguard for my clenching and grinding bit me in the butt.  Please y'all, if you are told to wear one.....wear it.  Don't worry about it feeling weird, don't worry about your husband making fun of you, don't worry about anything of the sort.  Just wear the darn thing. 

I woke up one morning with unbearable pain.  Called my dentist as soon as they opened and couldn't get in for Eight days.  Since I loved him, I knew I would tough it out.  I did and ate lots of tylenol.  Hopefully my liver faired well...the jury is still out on that one.  Anywho, I finally make it to the dentist and the news was bad.  I had cracked a tooth due to the clenching.  Probably had been for some time and it wasn't visible on x-rays.  The tooth had been decaying from the inside out.  Needless to say, I required a root canal and having my mouth open for so long caused my TMJ to act up terribly.  I have been a mess.  No eating, sleeping, talking, has been horrible.  Thankfully, the pain has pretty much diappeared and I feel somewhat capable of facing each day.  For those of you who have never had the blessing of a root feel nothing during the procedure.  It is almost pleasant, but afterwards.....OH MY GOODNESS!  Lets put it this way....I have NEVER taken a pain pill in my life, but I couldn't have made it through this without them.  Seriously, the pain was so bad my thoughts were completely irrational. 

I appologize for being gone for so long and have missed it.  Maybe now I can get back into a routine and begin to blog again.  My sweet hubby bought me a new lens that does a pretty sweet job photographing food :)  This lens is super sharp and is a 1.8f....that excites me so!  Stay tuned, y'all.  Coming soon is my mommas famous chicken and dumpling and all.

Monday, August 1, 2011

So stinkin' hot...

It has been miserable here.  We are on day 33 on 90+ degree temps and brutal humidity.  Despite my best efforts, my yard is dying, my garden is shot and well, I feel grumpy.  Grumpy might be an understatement.  In fact, I'm sure if you were to ask hubby or baby girl, they could come up with other not so nice words to describe me.  Watching the weather channel tells me that the Ohio Valley isn't the only area of the country suffering.  The heat wave is covering much of the United States......So, I was thinking if y'all are like me, the thought of preparing big, heavy meals every night is overwhelming.  It makes the house hot to use the stove and oven and then more heat is produced by running the dishwasher.   Needless to say, cooking hasn't been happening so much.

This past weekend, I stopped at my favorite local butcher and took advantage of several sales.  Considering the fact that I am 35 miles away (gasp if you want, but I am 30 miles from everything), I usually only go about once per month.  They happened to be having a sale on honey ham and I had them chip two pounds for me.  I very seldom keep lunch meat at home...I usually bake a whole turkey or ham and do my own thing.  The 98 degree temps have changed me.  Extreme heat has a way of pushing thoughts of excess sodium and preservatives out of my brain.  I simply didn't care....

For our family of three, two lbs of meat is a lot.  Luckily, it freezes beautifully and there are a million and one different ways to use honey ham...and the meat was a steal at 2.59/lb.  The tightwad in me couldn't pass it up!!!  Now, I will not say that they are especially nutritious or low fat, but they fill the bill when the family is hungry and something light and easy are needed.  Here are some ideas that our family loves.

Hot Ham and Cheese
I realize this is a staple, but use a good quality Swiss cheese and make mini-sammies with King's Hawaiian bread and you have a pretty good sandwich.  We prefer the savory butter variety for hot ham and cheese.

Breakfast for supper is always an easy and well received meal.  Our fav combo is honey ham with sauteed shallots and baby bella mushrooms.  American cheese doesn't hurt anything either.  Serve with fresh fruit and you have a complete meal...pretty inexpensive too.

Ham Rollers
My daughter loves to make her own sandwich with tortillas, ham, cream cheese and thin tomato slices.  Simply layer, roll and slice into 1 inch rounds. 

Chicken Cordon Bleu
Even though this is baked, it is baked for a short period of time and is fairly simple and great served with a side salad.

Really, there are so many meal ideas.  You can take a simple tossed side salad and add ham and make a complete meal....I could go on and on.   Hopefully some of these meal suggestions will help you beat the heat and keep your cool. 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

A letter to my daughter...


In six days, you will be a kindergarten student.  We have been anticipating this day with mixed emotions since we first laid eyes on you.  It seems like yesterday, we received the call of your birth and in a flurry of activity and emotion, drove like crazy people to see your precious face.  You were tiny and perfect, soft and cozy and in need of our nurturing in every aspect of your life.  A precious gift from GOD in every way.  You stole our hearts that cold day in January and at 1:29 in the afternoon, when I held you for the first time, my heart was made complete. 

The last five years have been wonderful.  We've nursed your boo-boos, laughed at your crazy antics until we were gasping for breath, prayed for your renewed health, been in awe of your abilities despite such a rough start in life and most of all.....loved you with reckless abandon.  We have done everything possible to provide an enriching that is as colorful and happy as the one you have provided us with.  We've watched as you've embraced every challenge and mastered things well beyond your age groups.  Your compassion and faith in GOD rivals that of most adults and children of all ages are drawn to you.  In my eyes, you are one of GOD's greatest masterpieces.

You are about to embark on a new chapter in your life.  You will surely meet adversity, be tempted and tested in your faith, shed tears, gain and loose friends and go through more trials than you can possibly imagine.  My prayer for you, baby girl, is that you will meet each trial with strength and faith.  My mind is awash with questions.  Have we prepared you properly both socially and academically?  Have we made the right decision about your school?  Will your teacher accept you for who you are?  My heart tells me you are apprehensive and share my fears.  Am I doing enough to quiet your fears or are you feeding of the apprehension that I work so hard to suppress?  My promise to you is that I will make mistakes and I will shed tears, but I will ALWAYS act in a way that I feel is best for you.  My decisions will be formed out of love and much prayer.

There may come a time when you are embarrassed of us and feel that you don't need us anymore.  My mind says that is okay while my heart screams for my baby!  Please be patient with mom and dad....and never forget how much we love you.  Momma has always told you that love makes people do foolish things and parents are most certainly not exempt from that. 

Most of all, I want you to know how proud we are of you!  Your best will always be enough. 


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Bittersweet changes

Tomorrow, baby girl (and her daddy and I) will be attending kindergarten launch day.  I am filled with a mix of dread, sadness, excitement, wonder and disbelief.  Can someone say "I NEED A NERVE PILL?"  Seriously, the day is here far too soon and I am struggling with my emotions.  It seems like yesterday I put my eyes on her for the first time.  So wrinkly and new and a wee bit premature.  She was helpless and couldn't live without me.  My how things have changed.   As much as I celebrate her milestones and increasing independance, it's hard.

Many changes have been expected and some have been downright shocking.  I was not prepared for her to already be embarrassed by her parents.  We can no longer hold her hands, hug or kiss her in public and she is even turning out to be our fashion consultant.  Mom's outfits usually meet her approval, but dear old dad is another story.  Overnight, she has turned into an eye-rolling, hands on hips, cringing mess.  Who knows what will happen when she is around other children.  Now I'm an eye-rolling, cringing mess. SIGH!  I'm sure our adventures are just beginning.

Luckily, I love her new teacher, love her school and have many good friends who will checking in on her from time to time.  Her pink bookbag is monogrammed as is her lunchbox, her clothes are oh so stylish and she is tickled pink.  Hopefully some of her excitement will rub off on me....please, let it rub off on me.  I hope and pray she doesn't see right through my optomistic, excited front.  I am nothing but counterfit right now.....purely counterfit.  I want my BABY back!

Now that I have sickened y'all and embarrassed myself, I will end this pathetic post...:)  Of course I will update later in the week!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Deviled eggs

My chickens have been busy, REALLY busy.  Despite 96 degree temps and ungodly humidity, my flock seems to be flourishing.  Long story short, I am getting way more eggs than I can handle.  This afternoon I decided enough was enough.  Deviled eggs are a wonderful way to use up a bunch of eggs.  Older eggs do tend to work better....fresh eggs are very hard to peel as the membrane is hard to separate from the eggs. 

Oh how I love good deviled eggs.  Oh how I loathe mediocre deviled eggs.  You know the type...the pasty, tasteless, and with a thick, lumpy filling.  It makes me shudder.  For me, the secret to a good deviled egg is a smooth, light filling with a bit of zip to it.  A balance of richness, sweetness and tartness.  When I say light, I do not mean light in  Do not be confused--a good DE will be high in fat!!!

Start of with as many eggs as you like (for the sake of this recipe we will use 8).  Put eggs in saucepan and fill with cool water until eggs are covered.  Bring the eggs up to a boil and boil for one minutes.  Cover the saucepan with a lid and turn off heat.  Let eggs sit for 15 minutes before putting them in cool water.  This is the BEST way I have found to make hard-boiled eggs.  The yolk is tender but completely cooked and the white is firm but tender. 

After eggs have cooled and are peeled, put all yolks in a food processor.  This is very important and the only way I have ever been able to get a smooth, lump-free filling.  Add 1 tsp (or more to taste) of apple cider vinegar, a pinch of kosher salt, 1/8 tsp freshly ground pepper and 1/3 cup Miracle Whip (no substitutions!!!).  Give ingredients a whirl until nice and smooth.  Your end result should be light yellow and the consistency of pudding.  You may need to add more Miracle Whip, but I think you will like the end result.  There are many ways to make this recipe your could add chives, dill, cheese, really anything that suits your taste.  These eggs will become your staple, I'm sure of it.  They are perfect!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

What a week!

This last week has been hectic!  I've been freezing corn, peppers and squash; digging potatoes, etc.  It's been dangerously hot and that means much more care for our outdoor animals, not to mention watering the garden and flowers twice a day.  Baby girls new teacher made a house visit one day, we've had two Birthday parties to attend, my Birthday was this week, Vacation Bible School prep has been going on, shew....I could go on and on.  It's been that kind of week.  Quite literally, I've been working from sunup to sundown with little down I haven't been able to blog until now.  The funny thing is, now that I have a moment, I am at a loss for words.  All week, I had "blogable" thoughts running through my mind and they have disappeared along with my sanity.  Lol.

Without being too specific, we have also faced a couple of potential health crises this week.  Emotionally, I have been struggling.  My healthy, sole bread-winning husband came to me last week with a major concern that rocked my world.  There was nothing for me to do but begin making specialist appts and PRAY.  I've always felt that prayer is one of my spiritual gifts, but when the issue at hand is so life changing, I didn't know how to pray.  Praying for God's will takes on a whole new meaning when it's YOUR husband, YOUR everything, the love of your life.  What if GOD's will didn't include a miraculous healing, what if his will didn't coincide with my own.  Oh make things worse, my husband ask that no one know what was going on.  Our pastor was told and that was it.  I had no one to go to but GOD.  It was going to have to be enough....I knew it was enough, but I'd never had to rely completely on my faith before.

As I began to study and pray, I got a whole new meaning out of a couple of verses I was already familiar with.  The first verse if Philippians 4:6.  Do not be anxious for anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to GOD.  I also found a great deal of comfort in James 1:2-3, 6.  My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into trials.  Knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.  But let him ask in faith, without doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.

Do you ever feel like you are being tossed about in the sea of life.  I certainly do!  More specifically, there have been times in the last week that I have felt hopeless.  Through much prayer, GOD began to speak into my heart some simple truths.  Fully surrendering our lives to him is the only way we will ever live a joyous life.  Until we truly surrender ourselves and our families to him, we will constantly struggle with strife, fear and insecurity due to the things of this world.  We can only control our health, wealth and happiness to a certain extent.  We may eat organically, watch our weight and still lose a battle to melanoma, we may live frugally and contribute to 401k and find ourselves unemployed and losing everything.  We can allow ourselves to worry ourselves into a tizzy or we can lay all our problems at his feet and BELIEVE that he will guide us as he sees fit.  In the last week, I have realized that if we give our problems to GOD, he will give us an answer we can live with. 

Wednesday, I accompanied my husband to a specialist and was at peace.  Sitting in the waiting room, I thought to myself that this must be the peace that passes all understanding.  Had to be, I mean normally, I would have been literally sick with worry.  Sleep would be out of the question, I wouldn't be eating, would be throwing nerves would be shot.  As he left me for his exam, I smiled and said "Everything will be fine".  He smiled and said "Yes, I know god has healed me, I can feel it."  If I"m being honest, I normally would cringe inwardly when hearing those words.  To me, it's always been a phrase that's proclaimed after a good outcome.  Who's to say God has anything to do with it!?  I'm ashamed to say that the old me, the me from a week prior has probably shamed GOD many, many times.  James 1:17 tells me that "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the father of Heavenly lights, who does not change life shifting shadows.  Wow.  Shifting shadows.  To me, I think of Satan lurking in the darkness making things appear good while he seeks to destroy.  Our GOD does not lurk in the shadows, he is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.  When my husband walked backed out in the waiting room, I knew GOD had made everything right.  His specialist is watching a situation, but honestly believes we have a benign situation.  My hubby wasn't even sent for any testing.  As we linked arms and walked out to our car, I was thinking about how we really are conquerors in Christ.  When I was thinking tumor, he was saying cyst, when I was thinking financial devastation, he was allowing only a minor inconvenience, and when I was thinking surgery and treatments, he allowed a brief exam.  I am in awe of such an awesome savior and truly believe we were allowed to go through this because of me.  My hard head couldn't be penetrated unless he came through my husband. 

If you are like I was and constantly struggling with fear and worry, I ask you to study these verses and humble yourselves toward GOD.  Ask him to help you trust him completely and he will.  It is refreshing, humbling, exciting and scary at times, but worth every minute.  The only advice I can give is to hold on, because if you are like me, he may have to take drastic measures.

Blackberry dumplins

A few weeks ago, my family and I went to a blackberry farm and picked til our hearts were content.  Well, almost.  It was 96 degrees and we picked til we gave out, really.  We managed 5 gallons.  After freezing them, I have been on a mission to find the PERFECT recipe.  I've found some good ones, but this one that I'm fixing to share with y'all is a family favorite.  When I tell people Blackberry dumplins are the best way to eat blackberries, I get several different reactions.  They range from looks of disgust to curiosity.   The dish is simple, yet complicated....rustic, yet elegant and I promise you won't be disappointed in the end result.  That being said, my mommas is better than mine and I can't figure that out, but nevertheless, mine is pretty good.  Also, I don't normally post a lot of pics with my recipes, but with this one, it was a must.

First, start with two cups of blackberries and 1 cup of sugar in a saucepan.  You will need to add some water and I added two cups.  There's no specific will just need to watch the amount of juice you have when adding the dumplins.  You can easily adjust at several different points. 

Bring the berries and sugar up to a slow boil and allow berries to break apart and create a luscious, cranberry colored syrup.  Should take 5-7 minutes.  I even used frozen berries and my cooking time didn't change.

See what I mean?!  Wow.  Many recipes call for straining the juice at this point.  It's perfectly acceptable to do and please do if if you feel like it.  This woman does not strain her blackberry concoction because frankly, the texture of the seeds does not bother me (or my tummy) and I do not want to do anything to make this recipe take longer.  The sooner I can plate this up the better!  Keep your berries and juice simmering while you make the dumplins.  Combine 1 cup of self-rising flour with 2 tbsp of butter and cut in until butter is the size of peas.  Add enough milk to make a sticky dough.  I would say around a 1/2 cup.  Again, this will depend on several factors, especially humidity.  Our humidity has been hovering around 80%, so I have to use less liquid than most.

When dough leaves sides of bowl, you are  ready to pour out onto a well-floured surface.  Oh how I love to work with dough!!!  After kneading a few times, you will have a perfect little ball of dough!

Next, roll out dough to an 1/8" thickness and cut into squares.  Hopefully yours will be less irregular than mine...I still think my Five yr old did a pretty dang good job!

Drop dumplings into your simmering juice and cover and cook for 20 minutes.  NO PEEKING ALLOWED.  This is soo important.  I am no good at no peeking, so I make sure my pots and pans have glass lids.  I am a cheater when it comes to food ;)

This is what your dumplins should look like as soon as you drop them.....but in 20 short minutes you will have this....

If you want to be a really bad girl like me, feel free to spoon them up while they are still steamin' and pour cold heavy cream over the top.  I cannot stress how wonderful this is.  A scoop of vanilla ice cream doesn't hurt the experience either.  Whenever I make this recipe, I can't help but feel like my momma is standing next to me in the kitchen.  This is true Southern cooking at its finest.