Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Fall Favorites

I'm linking up with Joyce over at From this Side of the Pond - She is awesome to write these questions each week!

1. Just your weekly mid-week reminder that it's fall y'all and it's my favorite. I love nearly all the flavors of fall but let's weigh in with an either or today...pumpkin or cranberry? May I love both, please? I love food made with pumpkin – not fake pumpkin flavoring. I also love cranberries – especially in a recipe we make for Thanksgiving – it is apples and cranberries with an oatmeal topping. Hot apple cider or pumpkin spice latte? I don’t really like hot drinks but if it is really cold outside, I would enjoy a hot apple cider. I’m not much of a pumpkin spice latte fan and the main reason is that I don’t drink coffee. Cinnamon or maple? Cinnamon! Apple or pear? Once again, I love both – apples and pears!! Ginger or sage? I drink a diet Canada dry ginger ale almost every night so I guess I love ginger BUT I love dressing (not stuffing – I live in Alabama) at Thanksgiving and I love that taste of sage!! Carrot or butternut squash? Butternut squash all the way – my husband’s family has a farm a couple of hours away. There was a farmer who used part of their property for his cows and he would plant gardens and share the bounty. He always planted butternut squash and we have always made a casserole with the yummy “meat” of the butternut squash– it is a sweet casserole sort of like sweet potatoes but not so heavy. I read an article last week that Libby's pumpkin is actually butternut squash! I don't know if it is true or not . . .but . . .. Yes you have to choose. What's a favorite dish made with one of the flavors listed here? I have to say turkey and dressing with all of the traditional sides so I would have several of those flavors! The turkey is fine but I love dressing. I love it so much that one year my mother-in-law made it for my birthday in JUNE! Sometimes we bake it in a 9 X 13 glass dish but our favorite way is to make it in individual muffin tins – each piece has a lot of crusty edge! I should be embarrassed that I wrote so much about food but I love food 😊

dressing "muffins" from last Thanksgiving
my first attempt - My mother-in-law's are prettier

2. Do you miss traveling? In this season of almost no travel do you think you've grown anxious or fearful about traveling again? Or has all this staying home not going anywhere made you restless to get out and see the world? My husband was able to travel out of the country with me in February and we had a wonderful time. We arrived home about a week before things started to shut down in the US. We had a second trip scheduled for this year to Italy and Germany and that trip was rescheduled for 2022. I must admit that I’m a little fearful right now but I can hardly wait to be able to travel safely again. Mark and I are both healthy now and have the means to travel and I want to be able to do that together. What book have you read or what movie have you watched that has inspired you to travel? I recently read a couple of novels set in Ireland and I’ve always wanted to go to Ireland. The other night, my husband was watching one of those shows set in Alaska and they showed the Northern Lights. Seeing the aurora borealis is on my bucket list and seeing that tv show made me want to go there soon!

3. A time you felt like you were 'flying by the seat of your pants'? Explain.  I feel like we’ve been flying by the seat of our pants since March! I had never been on a zoom call and have now taught Sunday school via zoom, facilitated our study with young professionals via zoom, attended meetings and taken lots of notes via zoom. Also, we are meeting outside in a park under a pavilion each week with those young adults and each week I feel like we are flying by the seat of our pants because the weather in Alabama can change in a matter of hours. We've been really lucky so far - the weather hasn't been too rainy nor too cold.

4. Do you struggle with road rage or are you more of a 'Sunday driver'? Do you like to be 'in the driver's seat (literally and/or figuratively speaking)? Road rage all the way. I usually talk to my sister while driving to work (hands free!) and I’m always telling (yelling?) people to get out of the way or I’m saying (growling) something like, “you wouldn’t believe what this person just did!” I prefer driving because I get car sick very easily!!

5. Something you've recently 'put the brakes on'? Well, we haven’t eaten in a restaurant since February. I personally think the hardest “brakes” were when everything shut down and we didn’t see my husband’s family or our kids or grandkids for weeks. That was sheer torture.

6. Insert your own random thought here.  We go all out in our neighborhood for Halloween. Our neighborhood is a “destination” trick or treat spot – really! We have sidewalks throughout and people drive into the neighborhood and park and let their kids trick or treat. We have all ages – moms and dads carrying newborns where the whole family is dressed in costumes (with bags for each person in the group – no matter the age) all the way through older teenagers. It looks/sounds like a movie set - sort of like the trick or treat scenes in Hocus Pocus. We usually give out 1200-1500 pieces of candy. This year, I’ve made about 400 individual bags with 3 or 4 pieces of candy in each bag which is sealed with a pumpkin sticker. I’m going to set up a table at the bottom of the steps and put out about 100 bags at a time. I’ll be sitting up at the top of the steps saying “please take just one.” I laughingly told someone that I was a little worried that some person would come through and literally take everything on the table and swipe it into their bag. My friend said I should buy a big watergun and if anyone tried to do that, I could squirt them! I’m still chuckling about that! Will you have trick-or-treaters in your neighborhood even with covid? Will you do Halloween differently this year?

some of the trick or treaters from last year

Our house decorated for 2020 - almost everyone
in our neighborhood decorates



Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Just Desserts

1. Linking up with Joyce over at From This Side of the Pond for HodgePodge Wednesday. Let's start things off right...Wednesday is National Dessert Day. What are we having? How often do you  make/serve dessert? Store bought or from scratch?

I don’t think I realized that there is a National Day for just about everything! If I ate desserts, I would want my mother-in-law’s German Chocolate Cake. It is like NO OTHER German Chocolate Cake. It even deserves capital letters! There are 3 layers with the wonderful coconut custard filling between the layers and then the whole cake is iced with a homemade fudgey type icing. I have made it before and it takes several hours to make because of all the different steps. I rarely make dessert for just the two of us. Rarely as in almost never. I do love to bake and take to others and it would be scratch all the way. Funny story – the first year that my husband and I were dating (1982?) and his birthday rolled around (just fyi – we had only been dating a couple of months). I ordered a special cake from the bakery and had a fisherman put on top and thought it was so special. I kid you not . . .he looked at me and said, “I don’t eat cakes from a store.” That is totally the way I remember it. It does seem like he ate a piece to be nice but didn’t take the leftovers!! AND I STILL MARRIED HIM 😊 (pictured below - German Chocolate cake on the left, pound cake with white icing in the center, caramel cake on the right) The one dessert that I like from a store is Key Lime Pie from Costco - they make a great Key Lime Pie!

2. Slow as molasses, icing on the cake, that's the way the cookie crumbles, have your cake and eat it too, half-baked idea, that takes the cake...which phrase might be applied to something in your life in recent days? Explain. 

The passing of covid is as slow as molasses. I wish it would go away but I don’t think that is going to happen anytime soon.

3. Something that's 'easy as pie' for you to do?

This is totally random but I’m great at searching for things on the internet! Hubby was gifted two beers from a neighbor. Mark loves this new beer. He drove down to Hop City and the guy said he had never heard of the beer and it was not sold in Alabama. He called Beer Hog and they said the same thing. We texted the neighbor and asked where the beer was purchased. It was a gift! I sat down at the computer on Friday night and typed a few words into the search engine and within minutes, I said, “We can buy the beer at Trader Joe’s!” Now this is the funny part . . . Mark is a beer connoisseur and usually will only drink craft beers made in the south. The new beer is $4.99 for a six pack at Trader Joe’s. Just in case you are interested, it is Boatswain HLV ale. 

4. Are you someone who likes to 'sugarcoat' news you think might not be well received, or are you more of a tell it like it is and let the chips fall where they may? Do you like to receive your news the same way you give it? 

This is a really hard question. It is evidently not as “easy as pie” for me!! I think I like to sugarcoat news but maybe I just blurt it out. I am southern to the core, so I do try to soften things somewhat. I think I prefer to receive it “like it is.”

5. Something you did recently that made you feel like a 'smart cookie'? 

I can’t think of a thing! I did have to learn a few new skills when I was working from home so I watched youtube videos! I learned how to dump an excel spreadsheet into labels! Last weekend, I took my sewing machine apart and fixed it. I must admit that the sewing machine repair did involve a finger gash, blood, a not-so-nice word, a bandaid and a feeling of stupidity in the middle. But I did it!

6. Insert your own random thought here. I'm going to share two random thoughts. I wrote this down last week when we were studying the book of Ruth (in the Old Testament) with the young professionals. Two people facing a common dilemma make different choices - no one should judge which is right and which is wrong because we might never know all the circumstances. We were talking about Ruth and Orpah when Naomi told them to go back to their own people. Orpah obeyed Naomi and went home. Ruth chose to stay by Naomi's side (whither thou goest). Looking in with a judgemental attitude might lead us to believe that Orpah made the wrong choice. But we can't judge because we don't know all of the facts. I think there are a lot of situations in life like this. Someone makes a decision that we don't necessarily agree with and we immediately think, "well, they made the wrong choice." Not necessarily. So take a moment and stop and take a deep breath and try not to judge others.

On a lighter note, I walk around 5:30 a.m. The sky has been spectacular. This morning, the moon and one of the planets were both visible right above the sunrise. My cell phone takes great pictures but not in the dark. Can you see the light at the horizon? The light ALWAYS wins. His mercies are new every morning and I am so glad!

Sunday, October 11, 2020

God's Table

Do y'all remember back in March and April? Remember when the pandemic first hit? We all thought it would be over soon, right? I personally thought that we were going home for 2 weeks and then everything would be back to normal. Ha! 

While I was "safe" at home, my friend, Mollie, started a driveway ministry to feed the hungry because when we were all safe at home, what about the folks who live on the streets? When we were told to wash our hands, what about the people who had no place to wash their hands? Folks were invited to make sandwiches, boil eggs, buy snacks and toilet paper and drop them in my friend's driveway. This project took off because people were looking for a way to do something in a time where we all felt paralyzed! I wanted to make sandwiches but imagine my shock when I signed up for Shipt and placed my first few grocery orders and there was no bread, no peanut butter, nor jelly available in the grocery store. After the first couple of weeks of mass panic buying, I was finally able to purchase all I needed for a couple of loaves of sandwiches each week. I continued to do that for the first 6 weeks or so. 

Now where am I going with this especially since the title is God's table? On the first morning I was able to have the supplies and make the sandwiches, I started early - 5:30 or 6:00 in the morning. I spread waxed paper on my island. Actually, I washed my hands for a really long time and put on plastic gloves and THEN I spread waxed paper on the island. I opened the peanut butter and it smelled yummy. I then opened the jelly and the smell of the jelly literally brought me to my knees and brought tears to my eyes. Here I was "safe" at home and couldn't go to church, YET when I opened the grape jelly it smelled just like communion. While making sandwiches for those who were hungry, the one who called himself the Bread of Life met me at my kitchen island and reminded me that he is always with us - even in a pandemic. I hope the memory of that smell and that thought will stay with me forever because it was so powerful that morning. God's table smells like grape juice and grape jelly.

Then came the long months of church online. I have never been so thankful for Brian, our senior minister, and so many other staff members who have brought church right into our homes. We have continued to worship the living God while sitting on our sofas, or at our lakehouses (not us!), on our screen porches (yes!), and wherever we might be on Sunday mornings. We always have communion on the first Sunday of each month and our pastoral staff has worked hard to help us celebrate that holy meal while at home. We've used crangrape juice and mini saltines - it works. Don't judge me for the Stella Artois glass. It is one of my favorites because a good friend gave it to me. God's table can include mini saltines and a Stella Artois glass.

Then, this "ad" was posted on social media. Drive through communion. I wanted our family to be in one car and to drive through together but as always happens . . . the best laid plans don't often work out. I was stressed and drove through communion by myself. 
Brian, our senior pastor and my friend, met me at the car window. We were both wearing masks. He asked what he could pray about for me and I asked for prayers of peace. I have no idea what words he prayed but I know that God showed up in my car that Sunday morning. Communion-to-go cup with a crappy wafer (I'm sorry - they are really nasty) was the best meal I have had since February. It was a meal not for my stomach but a meal for my heart and soul. It was a meal for my mental health. God's table can be out in the middle of a parking lot.

Last Sunday, was my first Sunday back in the sanctuary of our church. We have to make reservations and numbers are limited. There were around 100 in worship last Sunday. We sang (with masks and spaced far apart) and we prayed and we worshipped together. Our pastors each took a basket of those communion-to-go cups and walked between the aisles and handed each of us the body and blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and it was good. It was so good. God's table can be in the big sanctuary with pastors carrying baskets of communion-to-go cups.

So whether it is the smell of Welch's grape jelly while helping to feed the hungry or crangrape juice with mini saltines or communion-to-go cups with crappy wafers in a drive through or in the sanctuary, the pandemic has made me realize how BIG God's table really is. We try to put human limits on God and we try to understand him with our feeble minds and all the while he is reminding us to come to the table and feast with him. God's table is big enough for all of us. ALL.OF.US.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Wednesday Hodgepodge

This is week four for me for answering the hodgepodge questions by Joyce over at From this Side of the Pond. One week soon, I'm going to be brave and write something without prompts!

1. What's one part of your everyday routine you'd be better off without? 

Eating snacks??? I’ve been doing WW (formerly known as Weight Watchers) for quite some time and have lost a considerable amount of weight. I try to plan my snacks accordingly but some days . . .I would probably be better off without them! (before on the left and last week on the right) 


2. October 5th is/was National Do Something Nice Day. So what did you/will you do? 

Hubby and I host a study for young professionals each week and since we’ve been meeting outside (covid), I’ve enlisted some of our staff members to help by teaching a week here and there. I made tiny pecan pies and brown sugar brownies and packaged them in clear bags tied with orange tulle and delivered them yesterday to everyone who has been a speaker. I think that was a “do something nice.”

3. What question do you hate to answer? 

How much do you weigh? Seriously! I’ll tell anyone that I’m 62 years old but I do not want you to ask me about my weight! (see answer to question 1 – hahahaha!)

4. Do we have control over technology or does it have control over us. In that same vein, have you watched The Social Dilemma (available on Netflix) and if so what did you think? 

I have not watched The Social Dilemma but I have heard about it. I’m pretty sure that technology has control over us. Almost everyone I know has their phone handy at all times (including me).

5. What are three small things that make your day better? 

Kind words, sunshine, a sense of accomplishment – I know some of you are going to have some wonderful answers to this question and when I read your answers, I will smack my head and say, “I should have thought of that!”

6. Insert your own random thought here. 

Our 4 year old granddaughter spent the night with us on Friday night. My hat goes off to all grandparents who are raising their grandchildren. I think (and hope) that God gives grandparents who are raising grandchildren an extra measure of energy and creativity and extra everything they need. Pops is a much better “player” and the two of them can imagine some of the craziest things. I’m the one who is awesome when she wants to color or read 😊.

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Wednesday Hodgepodge

Thanks again to Joyce for the Wednesday Hodgepodge questions. Visit her blog and copy and paste the questions and your answers in your own blog and then link up with everyone else!!

1. When is the last time you experienced nostalgia? 

My mother-in-law has one of those photo frames where the family can send pictures to her. Sometimes when I’m sitting there and those pictures flash up on the screen, I experience nostalgia. I think of those times when my children were younger and I think of the fun we had. For a few moments, I wish we could go back to those days . . .and then I remember how hard it was with twin babies!! Some of the pictures are when our kids were in high school and college. Even though we had lots of drama, I loved those times when all of those young adults would sit around our table and laugh and talk. I guess what I'm saying is that I am sometimes overcome with nostalgia when looking at pictures!

 2. September 29th is National Coffee Day. Do we need this? Ha! So are you a coffee drinker? If so how many cups per day, and tell us how you like it. Is there a recipe you enjoy that calls for coffee as one of the ingredients? 

This week has been full of National days – daughter day, son day, coffee day! Hubs loves coffee! I don’t drink it. Now . . . if there was a National Diet Pepsi day, I would be all over it! I drink way too many of those because I love them!! We do have a couple of recipes -- We have some rubs that have coffee in them that we put on meat for the smoker. I also have a killer coffee punch recipe that has chocolate ice cream in it. I’ve made it for several morning parties such as bridal showers or baby showers. It is delicious and decadent. Maybe I’m feeling nostalgic as I think of that coffee punch!

 3. Do you find praise or criticism to be more motivating? Explain. 

Praise all the way! I’m a number 1 on the Enneagram and I am my own worst critic. I have a constant voice in my head telling me all the things I have done wrong! I sometimes have a hard time believing praise BUT I do love for someone to tell me I’ve done a good job at something. Sometimes I desperately need praise. That sounds so bad as I type it!!!

 4.  What's a television series you keep coming back to and re-watching? Since there are no new shows right now . . .we have been watching old series. We watched the entire series of Chuck during the pandemic. We didn’t watch it the first time around. We watch old Friends episodes sometimes and old Seinfield episodes. My mother-in-law watches old Gunsmoke reruns!!! I’m embarrassed to tell you what we are watching now – it is quite ridiculous! 

 5. As the month of September draws to a close give us three words to describe your mood. Happy for cooler days. Hopeful that they will find a vaccine for Covid soon so we can return to family and friend gatherings. Excited because our church is opening back up for limited number in person inside worship.

 6. Insert your own random thought here. I scheduled an appointment with a friend who has a side photography business. She is going to come and take pictures of us with our kids and grandkids in November. Mark and I were gifted a mini session with another local photographer (who is awesome, too) several years ago and had pictures taken with our first granddaughter. I’m looking forward to having pictures with both girls . . and of course, with our kids, too!!

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Wednesday Hodgepodge - Fall!

Answering the questions from Wednesday Hodgepodge. Joyce always asks such interesting questions!!

1. It's fall y'all. What's something you love about this season and also something you don't? 

I’m going to start with the thing I don’t like – ragweed! We have lots of it in Alabama!

Now, on to things I like about fall in Alabama. Our weather is usually wonderful! October is normally a fairly dry month with blue skies and pleasant temps. Mark and I took a drive to the northern part of our state on Friday and it was perfect weather to be outside!

2. When you think of the colors of fall, which one is your favorite? Is there somewhere you could easily day trip to see the leaves in all their glory? Will you?

Orange – not only is it a great fall color, but it is one of the colors for our team – Auburn Tigers! I think we could daytrip back up to North Alabama and see leaves in all their glory! Some years, we have great fall leaves right here in our own town. I don’t know that I will daytrip again this fall but it would be nice! 

3. What's one thing you've let 'fall' by the wayside during this season of staying home and staying away? I feel sort of like our friendships have fallen to the wayside and I hate it! We are normally fairly social people and due to covid, social engagements have been few and far between. We’ve invited friends over to sit on our porch for an evening beverage two or three times. Another couple has invited us to come and sit on their porch two different times and that is about it. Normally, we would have dinner out with friends at least once or twice a month and we would be together with our supper club friends once a month. 

4. If you're wearing a sweater is it most likely a cardigan, crew neck, v-neck, or zip up hoodie? I am one of the hottest natured people you will ever meet. I own three thin cardigans. I do not even own a crew neck or v-neck sweater and just thinking about wearing one makes me itch!! I love a good soft sweatshirt hoodie!! I actually have one in my office. Sometimes during the summer, the air outside would be so humid that the air conditioner in the office would make it feel sub zero. Some of my co-workers even kept a blanket in their office!

5. What's your secret to dealing with change? Change is hard. I hope someone can share the secret to dealing with it!! We’ve been using the word “pivot” at work – when we are going one way and we can’t continue in that direction due to covid numbers, we pivot. I think we have dealt with so much change over the last six months. One way I have dealt with it is to exercise. I have exercised (stationary recumbent bike and a walk) every single day.

6. Insert your own random thought here.

I mentioned our little day trip last week. We were supposed to be at the beach but that didn’t happen due to Hurricane Sally so on Friday we hopped in the car and drove north. We looked at all of the houses that sat perched on the side of the mountain. We bought lunch at the Wildflower Café and ate on an old-timey concrete picnic table right on the bluff. We went to DeSoto Falls and DeSoto State Park . . .and we drove home and had shrimp tacos for dinner!

One more thing -- our neighborhood goes all out for Halloween. I spotted this on my walk yesterday and actually jumped about a foot -- surely this is a big foot skeleton!!


Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Wednesday Hodgepodge -- Old!

1. What's one thing you learned at the ripe old age of whatever age you are now? I feel like I’m always learning something new and one of the reasons is because almost everyone in my office is younger. I had never participated in a zoom call until this year and now I feel like an expert (not really but I certainly know how to use it!) 

2. I read here a list of foods that can help you look younger- extra virgin olive oil, green tea, fatty fish, dark chocolate, vegetables, flaxseeds, pomegranates, avocados, tomatoes, spices, bone broth How many of the foods listed have you tried? How many do you eat regularly? Your favorite from the list? 
I’m not sure I’ve had bone broth before . . .I just googled bone broth and found a handy dandy chart that explained the difference between broth, stock, and bone broth. I have cooked a hambone with some meat still clinging to it and saved the “liquid” to use in red beans and rice. I guess that is sort of bone broth?? I’ve consumed all of the others. Green tea makes my stomach hurt so I don’t drink it. I love avocados and I didn’t like them at all until I was a grown up. 
3. Something you miss from the 'good old days'? When were the good old days anyway? We are supposed to be in Orange Beach, AL right now but Hurricane Sally blew through there early this morning and it looks like one of our favorite places on earth has suffered devastating damage. My heart hurts for all those who live there year round and those who own rental properties and for the stores and restaurants. Covid has already done a number on everything this year and now to add a hurricane on top!! When our kids were young (middle school), we booked 3 condos every summer for a week and my husband’s immediate family all went down together. We’ve been looking at some of those pictures and our son (almost 34 now) said, “those were some of the best days.” I think those might have been the ‘good old days’ for us.
old photos of the cousins at the beach

Our son, now all grown up, carrying his daughter down the same vacation pier.

4. What are two or three of the most rewarding things to be found in growing older? I get to be me! I don’t worry nearly as much about what other people think about me. I am who God created me to be – sometimes funny, often quirky, sometimes grumpy. I don’t feel that pressure to “keep up” with everyone else. The best part is getting to be a Gran to two beautiful girls! I love hanging out with our kids and their spouses and I love to play with the girls! 5. What's your favorite part of your life right now? I do love those grandkids! I also love that my hubby and I have hung in there since 1984. We made it through some tough years. He is now working only 3 days a week and will finally be able to travel with me (if covid ever goes away). We were able to experience Israel together in February. The first two times I went, he was unable to go and I had a great time but it was so awesome seeing everything through his first time eyes. 

Mark at the Western Wall

6. Insert your own random thought here. I think I’m ready for soup weather and I think we might have some of that weather next week. I live in the deep south and we will probably still be wearing shorts at Thanksgiving (I should say that I will still be wearing shorts at Thanksgiving – probably not anyone else!) BUT it is 69 degrees right now and next week, the highs will be in the 70’s and lows in the 50’s!! We will have a touch of fall and I think I’ll have to make soup. I've actually decided to make soup in the crockpot tomorrow!!