Thursday, October 30, 2008

Show and Tell Friday

I wanted to share my little log cabin in my backyard. I say it is for the boys, but really it is for me! I have a desire to one day live in a log cabin in the "not so woodsy" woods. I love the idea of living in a beautiful log cabin. I don't want it to be too rustic. I love the idea of people being thrown off a bit by walking in and seeing beautiful traditional pieces in a log cabin.

I saw this log cabin as an investment. My boys and their friends can play in it while they are young. I can use it as a potting shed or for storage later. It has a little loft in it that kids love to climb into.
A neighbor friend down the road built it. I think he had a blast building it. He never built one before, but he did an excellent job.

The best part of camping...not camping

Men love fire. Last year we got a fire pit for our backyard much to the delight of my men. This year after the hurricane we drove around in our little Honda Civic looking for wood all of one Saturday afternoon. We would hollar if we saw something that looks like it might be burnable. Then we would hurry and drive over to it (someone else might get it for goodness sake). Then we all got out and evaluated it and loaded it. I'm sure we were quite the site. Our trunk open and loaded down with wood. I even got two logs for my backyard "woodsy" theme. Everyone was happy.

Well on the first somewhat cool evening this year the boys begged to burn some wood and roast and toast anything they could. I dragged out the marshmallows and we all had a grand time. I'm not a camping type of gal, so this is as close as I get to it. When the mosquitoes get too bad, I can go into my house. If I get hot, I can take a shower in a clean shower. When I am tired, I can lay in my comfy bed. I lived in the woods during my teenage years. Take it from me, getting back to nature is highly overrated. I'll take good old civilization any day. Yeah progress! Now if you will excuse me, I'm going to go plug something in.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Show and Tell Friday

I love these candle holders. I love the way the amber beads glow when I light a candle inside. It makes my house feel cozy. It was made by my good friend's mother who is more talented than she admits. She is an amazing artist. I admired these in my friend's house and I was gifted with two of them. I treasure them because they are so gorgeous and made by someone I love.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A delicious and thrifty meal using up leftover meat

We love to Barbecue. (What we call Barbecue in this part of the country is really grilling to the rest of you. So excuse my southernism.) We sometimes have a leftover piece of pork chop, steak, chicken or sausage. I get so excited when we do because then I get to make one of my favorite Cajun meals... Jambalaya. If this economy is squeezing your grocery budget, this is a great way to squeeze back!

Now you don't have just use leftover Barbecue, any leftover meat will do. Roast, baked chicken... Next time you have some leftover meat, tear it into small pieces and put it in a ziplock bag, label it "Jambalaya Meat" and freeze it. When you have a nice amount of different types of meat, pull out the bag of meat and this recipe to make what will become a family favorite. It's easy, fast and delicious.

Cajun Jambalaya

Pieces of raw deboned chicken (white and dark) from ½ of a chicken
1 lb. smoked sausage diced
(you can also add pieces of pork if you like – brown with the chicken)
OR just pieces of leftover chicken, sausage, beef and/or pork. The more variety, the merrier.
1 c. shrimp cut into small pieces (optional)
2 Tbl. Olive Oil
2 Tbl. Roux (you can buy a jar of this at your store and keep in the fridge) *I have been making it without the roux as it seems someone always ends up with a mouthful of roux. Yuck! If you use it, make sure you don't use it in the crockpot and mix it in very well in your pot.
1 medium onion, minced
1 clove garlic, crushed
3 ½ c. chicken stock
½ t. celery salt
½ tsp. thyme
½ tsp. Tabasco
1 Tbl. Tony Chachere’s
1 Tbl. parsley
¼ c. of green onions, minced
2 c. raw Basmati Rice

Season chicken with salt & pepper. Brown chicken and sausage in olive oil in heavy pot. Saute onions & garlic. If you are using only leftover meat, begin by sauteing onions and garlic in oil by themselves. Add chicken stock, shrimp, salt, thyme, Tabasco, parsley, Roux* and Tony Chachere’s. Make sure your Roux gets dissolved in the water so you don't have chunks of it in the final product. Add any leftover meat at this stage.* When water comes to a boil, pour in raw rice. Let mixture come to a boil again, stir thoroughly to combine all ingredients. Cover and simmer on low heat for 30-45 minutes, until rice is tender. Add green onions and cook for 5 more minutes. Enjoy.

*This is a great way to use up leftover meat and gives each jambalaya a slightly different taste. Barbecue meat adds an especially nice smoky flavor to the dish.

Crockpot instructions:
Add everything (except shrimp and green onions) to crock pot. Low heat for 3 hours.
Don't use roux in the crockpot. It doesn't mix well. If you are adding shrimp and green onions then in the last hour turn crockpot to high. Add shrimp and green onions and stir in. High Heat for 1 hour.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

How to throw a Cookbook Recipe Tasting Party

Well, I think I have finally officially recovered from hosting the Cookbook Recipe Tasting Party. I tried to do a lot of preparation well before the party day, but I still ended up doing quite a few things the day of because some stuff just can't be done far ahead of time.

Why not throw your own party? You can adapt the Cookbook Recipe Tasting Party in several ways. We just happened to be putting one together for our homeschool group to raise money for our Benevolence Fund so we cooked our favorite recipes from those we submitted. But, it would be fun to get a group of ladies together and make your favorite recipes from various cookbooks or all purchase one cookbook and make an item from it. You could do the same for a recipe website. A website like actually rates the recipes, so you could have your friends cook the best recipes from different categories. Or your friends could make their favorite dishes from their own recipe box and then print off several copies of the recipe for people to take home.

Here are some hints to make the party go off without a hitch.

Get with your friends and find out what they would like to make. Make sure you have a nice balance of salty and sweet foods.

Ensure you have a way to keep hot foods hot throughout the party. I like to use crockpots for soups and other warm dishes. Remind food contributors to bring utensils to serve.

Send out a series of e-mails reminding everyone about the party 2 weeks, 1 week, 4 days and 1 day before. Attach a map to your house or give a link to Google map.

Have a doorprize. I found a cute apron and matching potholders. They weren't expensive and went along with the theme.

Use nametags. I'm horrible with names and this is a lifesaver.

Use foam or paper cups for the soups. This is a tasting party. Bowls encourage people to take too much.

Use a permanent marker to put names on the beverage cups so everyone can find their own cup after they set it down.

Write the name of the dish and who made it on a cute little recipe card next to the dish.

Several days before the party, start putting ice from your ice maker in large ziplock bags and put in your freezer. This ensures you have enough ice for the party without having to buy ice.

In the summer, turn down your thermostat to about 76 the morning of the party and cool your house down. Lots of bodies = lots of heat. If it is winter, don't make the mistake of making your house too toasty. It will warm up fast with lots of people milling around your house.

Make a beverage station with all the cups and beverages in this spot. Put out an ice bucket filled with ice and tongs. If you will serve coffee, put out spoons, sugar and a variety of sugar substitutes. Put some ice in a pretty container and put your creamer in it. Don't put your napkins in this area. Someone always spills and your napkins will be ruined.

If kids will be at the party, set up "stations" for them. We had a Lego station, dress up station, magic station (my son performed some tricks) and best of all we had a cookie decorating station in the kitchen. I made some of my lemon butter cookies and cut them out in cute fall shapes. I found the perfect cookie cutter set by Wilton with acorns and leaves. I put out two icing containers and two large containers of variety sprinkles. Put out plastic knives or spoons for the kids to spread the icing on and let them go to town. I put out napkins for the kids to put under their cookies while making them.

Lemon Butter Cookies

4 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. softened unsalted butter
1 tsp. baking powder
2 c. sugar
1/4 tsp. baking soda
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbl. grated lemon peel
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 Tbl. lemon juice

Sift dry ingredients into bowl. In mixer, cream butter. Add sugar a little at a time. Beat in eggs. Beat in lemon peel, lemon juice and vanilla. Shape the dough into a ball; divide it in half and transfer to a sheet of waxed paper. Pat each half into a 1/2 inch thick disk and wrap in waxed paper. Chill for 2 hours.Preheat Oven to 350. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Let chilled dough soften at room temperature for 10 minutes, until it call be rolled. Roll between sheets of lightly floured waxed paper to 1/8 inch thick. Cut out with cookie cutters. Bake for 7 to 8 minutes or until the edges of the cookies are a pale golden color.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Wearing Many Hats Lately

The last few weeks have been a little crazy around here. I haven't had time to blog and I miss you my little blog... sniff, sniff.

I've been doing some work for an attorney friend. He's a packrat and his office consists of piles and piles of paper accumulated through many years and no filing system. Scary. He also allows me to bring my boys who do their schoolwork in the conference room while I work nearby. I know... I am very blessed. I'm so very thankful to have this work. This is my Christmas money and it is going straight to the savings account.

My husband is also attending college in his quest for his civil engineering degree. I feel like a single parent most of the time.

I am hosting a recipe tasting party tomorrow. It should be a blast. I still have several things on my list to do to get ready, but I'm getting there. I learned a long time ago to start setting up for a party about a week in advance. Do a little cooking and freezing about a week before. Putting ice from my ice maker in ziplock bags. Do shopping several days before. I have had my tables for the drawing and nametags set up for some time now. If I leave everything to the last minute, I'm too exhausted to enjoy the party.

Today I'm setting up stations for the kids who come. Cookie decorating station, Lego station, dress-up station... I find it is better to spread the kids around to different rooms each allocated to different activities. It keeps the kids entertained and less likely to fight.

I'll blog later about what a recipe tasting party is and how to set it up, but for now I say "see ya later".

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Make a "drive-through" for a friend

I have a dear friend who is a single parent of three children. She works and while she is an excellent cook, has little time to do it now. I was thinking about her and how I could bless her. She enjoys my cajun cooking, so I knew the gift of a healthy meal during the week might help her out. Because her kids have homework and afterschool activities a mid-week supper at our house was out of the question. I thought of a "drive-through" dinner. She can pick it up and bring it home and enjoy with her family. We found a day that worked for her and arranged the pick up time.

The menu is:
Roundsteak & Gravy over Basmati Rice
Buttered corn
Salad w/tomatoes, carrots & avocado
Homemade French Bread
Mini-pecan pies

I made the French Bread last week and had two loaves in the freezer. I made the mini-pecan pies yesterday. The recipe makes a huge amount so we shared with our neighbor and we have plenty left. The rest of the menu is easily made the day of.

I am making enough for my family also so my friend and I will share a meal together although we are enjoying it in separate houses! That makes me smile!

Another thing I insist on when making food for others is putting it in disposable containers. Why make the person go to all the trouble of washing your dishes and then having to arrange to return them to you? You can get some great ones at the Dollar Store, so I stock up.

I'm telling you all of this to encourage you to do the same. Pick someone you know that needs a meal this week. Maybe it is someone that just had a baby, is ill, is elderly or works. Just double your regular recipe and share. You will bring a smile to someone this week!

I thought I would share the recipe of the mini-pecan pies. This is a great recipe for weddings, appetizers, or a tea party with your gal pals. The mini size is fun for kids and would be adorable at a kids tea party. The recipe was given to me 11 years ago by a sweet friend who watched my baby boys while I worked. She was such a blessing to me and I love her dearly. Sometimes she would have a treat for me to take home to my family. This was one of those yummy goodies she made. Beck, I love you!

Miss Becky's Mini-Pecan Pies

Preheat oven 350

1 - 8 oz Philadelphia Cream Cheese
2 sticks of butter (1 c.)
3 c. flour

Make into small balls. I use slightly less than a small melon baller can hold. I also use the mini-muffin tins. You can use paper liners or grease and flour. I recommend liners. Put the ball into the paper lined tin. Shape into a crust. Do not bake until the filling is put in.

1 c. chopped pecan
1/2 stick butter (1/4 c.)
2 1/3 c. brown sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
dash of salt

Mix filling ingredients together. Put 1 to 1 1/2 tsp. in each crust. It made 58 pies for me. Bake for 22 minutes at 350. Let them cool thoroughly before removing paper liner. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Why do preacher's kids rebel?

A few people have asked me to write about being a PK. I've found it so hard to do this. You see, as a PK you just naturally protect your family no matter what is going wrong. You see so many attacks from others on your family that you feel like somehow it is your job to protect them. Then you get tired of doing it. Then you get angry that you have to do it at all.

I don't know that my family was the typical preacher's family. At least I don't want to think it is so. I realize that preachers and their wives are human and make mistakes.

Our home was not a place of love. It was not a soft place to land. It was a facade. We were expected to obey. To put up a good front for those in the congregation. We also traveled to another church and did the music ministry. So many people looked up to my parents. My sister and I knew what others saw wasn't what we saw behind closed doors. I think this is why my sister and I rebelled and suffered in our own lives. Thankfully, I found the Lord on my own. My sister has not.

My mother ruled our home. Whatever she said needed to be done was done. My father never questioned her. Even when what she was doing was wrong. He never stood up to her. Discipline wasn't done correctly in our home. What we suffered at the hands of our parents was undoubtedly abuse. I am quite convinced that my mother suffered from mental illness. At least I hope that was it. The one person that should have stood between her and my sister and I, failed us miserably.

I have struggled with being a good parent myself. It is hard to be a good parent when it has not been modeled for you. God has modeled good parenting for me right in the Bible and I am learning from His example. It would have been so much easier if it had been modeled by my parents.

May I humbly offer some advice as a Preacher's Kid to those in ministry.

  • Ask God to help you be a good parent. Know that God has given you your children as your primary ministry. That means that sometime church work will go undone in order to spend time with your kids.

  • Hug your child. Tell them you love them and are proud of them. Hug them again.

  • Admit your mistakes to your children and others. Tell them the stupid bonehead things you did in your life and how God helped you overcome it. You are not perfect. You are not fooling anyone by pretending to be. If you don't, it could have devastating consequences. Kids think that God will not love them or forgive them because YOU never did anything stupid like they did. They will respect you for being honest and human.

  • Be the same at home and in public. Be careful you aren't putting on a "mask" when you leave the house (I'm struggling with this one).

  • Realize that it puts a lot of pressure on a kid to be the one everyone looks at all the time as the example. Many are rooting for them to fail. Talk to them about this pressure.

  • When you kids mess up (oh, and they will by the way), let them know they are still loved and precious.
I guess that is good advice for any parent, but please understand that PK's grow up under the microscope of a congregation and problems are magnified many times over. We feel the pressure to live up to a standard whether it is told to us or not. Satan also takes a special pleasure in messing with PK's. I feel a special empathy for PK's. Many rebel because they can't live up to the pressure. Some rebel because they see the different "masks" as hypocrisy.

I hope this gives you a little insight into the life of a PK. Pray for your pastor's kids. Pray for your pastor and his wife. If you are a preacher, make sure your kid isn't the one to write a blog on the problems of being a PK.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

How to Gild a Pumpkin

Gilded Pumpkins are an elegant fall decorating idea and a snap to make even for the craft phobic.

The idea is not to gild the entire pumpkin. A little goes a long way.

I love this "Treasure Gold" gold wax. It is sorta the consistency of shoe polish and easy to use. You can get it at most craft stores. You can use a paper towel (an old T-shirt works better). Rub it in the wax. You don't need a lot.

Spread out some newspaper under your pumpkin. Start at the top of the pumpkin and put the gold wax in a crack. Continue the process in each crack. In the deeper cracks, go farther down to the middle of the pumpkin. For shallow cracks, only go a little way down the side of the pumpkin. When you cloth starts to run dry, go back and smear the gold around using an up and down motion. You don't want to cover the whole pumpkin. I also do the bottom because I think it looks nice. Be sure and let it dry on before you put it on your floor.

Little pumpkins do well with gilding.
You just have to be more careful not to
be heavy handed with the gold wax.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Show and Tell Friday

It's Show & Tell Friday. You can join in the fun at

Here is my favorite teapot. It goes with my Johnson Bros. Friendly Village set.

I fell in love with this VW. It looks like the one my parents had.

This is a plate from the "King's Arms Tavern" that we ate at on our trip to Fredericksburg. What a fun trip! Great food!

Hope you enjoyed my portion of show and tell! Come back soon ya'll!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Dance of the Hummingbird

Enjoy a peek through my kitchen blinds at the Hummingbird feeder in my Kitchen Garden. It is so relaxing to sit with a cup of coffee and watch the hummingbirds in the morning. Grab a cup and enjoy the show!

This little dove took a bath and got all tuckered out. Here he is taking a mid-day nap.

This is my herb garden in the backyard. I just planted the fall herbs, so they are still growing. I have Green Onions, Apple Mint (for tea), curly parsley, Lavender, Rosemary. I also just planted Broccoli, Lettuce & Purple Hull Beans. Purple Hull beans are so neat. They are purple string beans that turn green in boiling water. Cool!

Look real careful at the picture below and you can see the baby lettuce just breaking the surface.

Here is one of the first satsumas our Louisiana Satsuma tree has produced. We have four (4) total this year. One of each member of the family! They should be turning orange soon and ready to eat.

Here is our dog, Tug (her full name is "Tug at your Heartstrings" since that is what she did to get us to take her home). She is on a mission to catch the fat squirrel in our backyard. We put out corn, peanuts and other squirrel delicacies, but sometimes Mr. Squirrel likes to nibble from the bird feeder. Tug is a hunting dog at heart and she smells the unmistakable scent of squirrel. We had to quit feeding the squirrel for a while because Mr. Squirrel was bringing his cousin with him. Look below and you will see his cousin. The Hurricane wiped out the tree we think the cousin was living in so the cousin relocated to another yard. We are back to feeding the squirrel much to delight of our dog.

Yes it is big black rat.


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