Monday, July 25, 2016

Pantry Clean out and Blue Apron

When we put a contract on our house (two years ago - really - we've been in the house two years!!), I didn't realize that our new house did not have a pantry.  On the day we MOVED into the house, I realized that we had no pantry!!  How did I miss that very important fact????  We have this little closet under the stairwell and I purchased shelves and organizers, etc.  The problem is that the shelves get "junked up" so fast.  I clean it out and in just a few weeks, it is messed up again.  About twice a year, I have to do a major clean out and re-organize everything and throw away expired items (because I can't find them to use them!).

I forgot to take a true before picture (life must be really boring this week if I'm blogging about reorganizing my pantry!!).  Here is the picture of the empty pantry.  There is a little "secret" (not anymore!) door that truly goes up under the steps and Mark put a "let's get organized" small bookshelf in the space for my cookbooks.


There was this much stuff on those shelves!


Finished!  I took this picture using Mark's phone because it was sitting on the counter.  His phone is old and the pictures are not as good as with the Iphone 6!!!  You can't see what I'm going to tell you about but can you see the shelf with the campbell's cans (just barely in the bottom of the picture)?  I went out to the garage and got a 1 by 6 (or a 2 by 4) or some piece of wood and placed it along the back of the shelf.  It is just high enough and sturdy enough and I lined canned goods all the way down the back of the shelf.  Really helped!!


On an entirely different topic (it is about food!), we've also been ordering a few boxes of food from Blue Apron (they are not paying me to write this and have no idea that I'm blogging about them!)

I had heard of pearl couscous but had never eaten it.  This was a shrimp dish that could have been better - my fault - should have added the whole spice pack.  Blue Apron says that each meal serves two people but Laura was home and we all three had a nice size serving.  Mark says this was one of his least favorite meals we've received (once again - my fault entirely).


Mark and I both loved this meal -- empanadas with lime creme fraiche - so good!


I'm pretty sure I've blogged about those two meals because my words sound familiar in my head!!

This last meal was chicken and green beans and tinkerbell peppers (sooo cute!!)

over rice.  I loved the little peppers!!  This meal was quite tasty!  All of these meals have really nice names describing the items, etc. but I can never remember what they are called!!

As of right now, we aren't scheduled for a delivery anytime soon . . .but I'm watching the menus!

What's happening in your world on this Monday?

Sunday, July 24, 2016

God is Good

So . . . .this weekend is the She Speaks conference in North Carolina.  You can read about my experience at She Speaks in 2013 starting here (and then several more posts).  That weekend in July of 2013 was a life changer for me.  Do you know that I keep in touch with the two women I met in the hotel?  Facebook is so good for those kinds of friendships!!  I would LOVE to have been there this weekend but I was able to get a tiny taste of the weekend.  Yesterday, my friend, Linda, sent me a text that Lysa TerKeurst's key note address (sermon) was available for a limited time on the Proverbs 31 app - First 5.  I was not home at the time so I couldn't listen . . .but when I got home, I pulled out the ironing board and ironed for an hour as I listened to her.  It was amazing.  I was transported back to that giant meeting room.  I would iron and listen and then I would run to the kitchen and write down notes from what Lysa said.  I once again felt like a sponge just soaking in words from God.  Here are just a few of her amazing quotes:

1.  Don't let today's reaction become tomorrow's regret (omg - I love that!)
2.  I KNOW that God is good.  God is good to me.  God is good at being God.  (such a simple but profound statement and one that spoke DIRECTLY to my heart.)
3.  We all have a story AND THEN we have a story we tell ourselves.
4.  The tweaking of us by God in private is the saving of us in public.
5.  A line turns into a lie turns into a label turns into a liability (the words others say to us or we say to ourselves -- oh my goodness)
6.  What I know must dictate what I see.  Otherwise, what I see will violate what I know.
7.  We must not let the words of others (and sometimes our words) became the words of OUR story.

Some of the points from her talk are from her new book (you can pre-order on amazon)

Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely


(I just pre-ordered it!)

She always does such a great job of taking a story from the Bible with a female involved . . .and weaving those words into an amazing message.  She talked about Abigail.  I now feel like I know Abigail . . .and I could just see those caves in Israel where David hid out so the scripture was jumping and alive!

Y'all - God is good.  God is good to me.  God is good at being God!
p.s. She Speaks or Lysa Terkeurst nor Amazon even knows I'm writing this so I'm not getting any free books, etc.  I was just moved to tell y'all!!!

Friday, July 22, 2016

SOME PEOPLE DESERVE A CELEBRATION (IN ALL CAPS!)

Last Sunday, we had a celebration at our house -- a celebration in honor of my mother-in-law's birthday.  We had a big celebration last year - you can read all about that celebration here.  She doesn't want anyone to know how old she is but let me tell you that she looks excellent for her age and she is far more mobile and healthy than most people!!

She cooks lunch for her children and grandchildren every single Sunday!  On her birthday (and a few other times a year!!), we try to give her a little break.

Our salad course was a wedge salad.  I had forgotten how much better lettuce tastes than bagged salad.  We had thick cut bacon crumbled on top; along with feta cheese; and finely chopped tomatoes and we served it with Thousand Island (I know most people do blue cheese and blue cheese dressing . ..but not our family)



Sweet little granddaughter was a guest at the party.  She is my mother-in-law's first great grandchild!!


We even had balloons!  Balloons are fun no matter how old you are!


We had more than balloons - we had presents, too!!


We were sitting around waiting on everyone to arrive.  We had all been to church and Sunday School so it was nice to have a moment to catch our breath.


I posted a picture of the cake on facebook and a lot of people have asked about it.  You make it in a springform pan -- cut ice cream sandwiches into fourths - one cut longways and one cut across.  Line the springform pan with waxed paper and spray with pam.  Then line up those little quarter pieces of ice cream sandwich all the way around the edge.  Then I used my little food processor and made crumbs with oreos and mixed in just enough milk to hold it together.  I patted that into the bottom of the pan.  Put pan in freezer for one hour.

At the 45 minute mark, get out ice cream.  I used a pint of Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla, a pint of Blue Bell cookies and cream, and a pint of Blue Bell butter pecan (one of my mother-in-law's favorites!!)
After the ice cream sits out for about 15 minutes, get the crust out of the freezer.  Dump the first flavor of ice cream into a bowl and stir it until smooth.  Pour into crust.  Repeat with other two flavors.  I thought I could omit the bowl and dump straight into the crust.  Did not work.


Now spread a 16 ounce container of softened cool whip on top.  I then spooned caramel topping all over the cool whip and I put one oreo in the center and pecan halves around the cake (she loves nuts - especially pecans).  Freeze until about 15 minutes before serving.




The birthday girl gets to blow out the candles on her cake (we even had birthday napkins and little birthday plates for the cake!)



Before lunch, we took a family photo using my camera on a tripod.  I set it to take 10 pictures and I won't show you all of them (but they are quite humorous).  This was one of the best ones.  I'm married to an identical twin and they have a tendency to show up places dressed in the same clothes (totally unplanned!).  It is so wonderful to me that Emma has a great grandmother to hold her in the picture!

Happy birthday!!


Thursday, July 21, 2016

Roadside Assistance


As I was driving to work this morning, I was stuck behind this tow truck.  He was actually going to the same exit (where I was headed) to rescue someone.  As we motored along, I was struck by the words "Roadside Assistance" and by the shape of the thing-a-ma-bob on the back of his truck.  I'm sure it has a name - car lift, perhaps?  I have no idea.  Anyway, whatever it is called . . .it looks like a cross.  I've been calling on God a whole lot lately - seems like even more than usual.   As I was driving, I had many thoughts -- one was how lucky I am that Mark works at a car dealership.  When my "change oil" message pops up, I tell Mark and he drives my car to work and gets the oil changed.  He is pretty good about getting our cars regularly maintained.

I don't know why the little car was stuck on the side of the road this morning but the driver had to call for help.  So often in life, we (I) wait until we are (I am) in a dire situation to "call for help" and then we pray.  What if I kept my spiritual life "regularly maintained" like our cars so that when crises happen . . .I don't have to call for Roadside Assistance?  I try - I really do.  I read my Bible.  I pray.  I attend Sunday School and church.  I (we) give.  I (we) serve.  What is missing?  I think one of the things goes back to that trust issue . . . do I trust God to show up when I call for help?  I don't have an answer - I'm just thinking through my fingers!!

I do know that Jesus loves me - yes, he does!  I do know that he never leaves me nor forsakes me.  I do know that I am loved by him!

Maybe I just needed a little reminder today . . .a tow truck with a cross shaped thing-a-ma-bob and the words "roadside assistance."  (yes, taking pictures while driving is not safe - I snapped about 10 -- if the poor driver was looking in his mirror, he probably thought I was a nut!!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

NO pictures today - just words . . .lots of words!


It's Wednesday -- join up over at Joyce's blog and answer some questions.

1.  Pokemon Go...your thoughts? Are you playing? Do you even know what it is?
Yes, I do know that Pokemon Go is . . .no, I’m not playing BUT the park in front of our house was a stop  (maybe still is?).  I looked out the front door the other night and there sat a car in the pouring rain . . .with their phones out . . .trying to capture him/it/her.

2.  What was something you collected as a child? Do you still have that collection? If you're a parent what's something your own children collected? Have you ever camped out, stood in a crazy long queue, or paid a ridiculous sum for a 'collectible'?

I collected thimbles – why?  I have no earthly idea!  I had a little wooden box that hung on the wall with little tiny slots for thimbles.  I do not have the collection and I have no earthly idea whatever happened to those thimbles.  Both of our kids collected Beanie Babies and YES . . .we stood in line when the Hallmark store got a new shipment.  We were going to be rich some day from those collectibles.  Of course, they played with them so they weren’t really collectibles.  When they went off to college, we bagged them up into those vacuum bags where you “suck the air out” . . .they stayed in the closet for several more years and then we finally donated them to the church to be used as prizes in a carnival!  Laura also had a few Madame Alexander dolls and she had a million Barbies and she had a nice collection of American Girl accoutrements.  Glenn collected baseball cards and maybe a few Pokemon cards.  For a while, he also collected state quarters.

3.  "Collect moments, not things"...tell us about a moment you've added to your collection this summer.

I feel like we’ve added so many moments this summer.  Having a new grandbaby is so special!!  Mark has been going to her daycare every day instead of eating lunch . . .he rocks her and gives her a bottle.  That is a memory . . .a moment in time!

4.  What's something collecting dust in your home right now? Any plans to do something about it?

I have way too many things collecting dust right now.  I have a wonderful craft room filled with awesome scrapbooking supplies but I do not have time to scrapbook!!  I don’t like a lot of tchotchkes (this is the correct spelling!) sitting around so I don’t have too many of those collecting dust.
Speaking of dust . . .I’m highly allergic to dust . . .so I’m not supposed to dust . . .which means I get to keep a maid (hopefully for a few more years . . .Mark keeps telling me the things we have to “give up” when we both retire . . .thank goodness I still have at least 8 more years before retirement . . .if I don’t get fired for laughing too much!!)

5.  A favorite song relating to time?

When I read this question, I immediately thought of “Time In a Bottle” by Jim Croce . . .but I don’t really like that song.  How about “Does Anybody Know What Time It Is? by Chicago?  Another oldie!!  I really loved Time by Hootie and the Blowfish . . .

6.  What’s been your most frightening or your most interesting encounter with wildlife?

Years ago, a chipmunk got into our house.  Mark was out of town and the kids and I were trying to capture it with a laundry basket and a shoe box . . .and a broom!  I remember running like a crazy woman through the house and I’m pretty sure we were all three screaming!!
There was another time (Mark was again out of town!) and before he left, he had put a “have a heart” trap in the backyard.  We caught a huge raccoon.  Glenn was a teenager and he and I had to go outside and figure out how to let it go because we didn’t want it to die . . .and Mark wasn’t home.  That thing hissed at us!  We finally got the “gate” open and we ran off and so did he (or she?)!!

7.  On July 20, 1969 Apollo 11 Commander Neil Armstrong set his foot down on the moon. If you could travel to the moon would you go? Why or why not?

We went to see The Martian last year (I know you said moon!) and after watching that movie, I think I could go to the moon BUT I think I would have to take a lot of Dramamine and a lot of Ativan.  I assume that at some point, there will be excursions to the moon.  How weird . . .it might get crowded like the beach!

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

I have no random thought today.  Let’s see . . .We are having VBS at our church this week –
Cave Quest – and we’ve had 450 or so kids from ages 3K through rising 3rd graders in the building.  Those kids are amazing.  Our church staff is so talented and makes learning about Jesus interesting and they make the stories from the Bible come alive!  My sister attends a MUCH smaller church in Texas (I thought everything was bigger in Texas??) and they are also having VBS this week and they had a LIVE camel named Humphrey (get it – hump??) come to visit.  I want a live camel at our VBS!!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

warning - photo overload!! 2nd, 3rd, and 4th . . .before the month is over -- I'm going to capture this!!

I decided to document this for my own memories . . .because Lord Help ME . . .anyway . . .
we had a really nice fourth of July weekend this year.  We started celebrating on Friday night with our friends at dinner.  You can read about that dinner here if you missed it and are interested  (I know - only about three people read my blog - my sister, maybe my sister-in-law, and a couple of church friends!).

So what did we do with the rest of our weekend?  On Saturday, we drove down to Lake Tuscaloosa and spent a wonderful day with our close friends.  We SWEATED.  I drank more water that day than I have in a long time because it was so HOT but it felt so good.  You know what I mean?

Mark never (or rarely) goes to any body of water without a fishing pole and this day was no exception.  He caught a gar.  You can read about gar here.

He also caught a catfish.  He also left his bathing suit at home and had to borrow one (see the hint of yellow???)

It was truly a gorgeous day!  Looking at the picture makes me want to be right back there RIGHT now!!


On Sunday morning, we went to church and I helped serve communion -- love love love!! In the late afternoon, we attended our block party.  Our neighborhood usually has a HUGE fourth of July party with golf cart parade and pie competitions, etc.  This year, no one stepped forward to chair the committee so . . .no party!  Two of my neighbors decided we needed to have something so they reserved the pavilion in front of our house and bought a bunch of hot dogs and baked beans and invited everyone on our street.  It was another scorcher - HOT!!  It was nice meeting some of our neighbors.  Mark has met all of them . . .I think he might be more of an extrovert . . what do you think?





Mark visited with lots of folks!!


I don't have a picture of my peanut butter pie but everyone loved it!


On Monday morning, the actual fourth of July, we got up and packed our stuff and headed to Mollie and Roger's house on Lake Mitchell.  First stop was Durbin's in Clanton.  Mark immediately commandeered Emma!



She was happy to see her Pops!!



Look at all those ladies!  Lauren, Lydia (holding Emma!), Sally and Peggy Sue!


This is Bill fishing with . . .guess who brought fishing stuff?? Mark!!


I rarely am in the pictures because I always have a camera . . .but I had my picture taken with sweet Lydia!  She reminds me so much of her momma and I miss her momma so very much!!


The guys were down there talking about  . . .guess what?  fishing!



This was Miss Emma's first fourth of July celebration.  It was surreal to see my "baby" sitting there giving a bottle to his "baby" . . .I can still see all of the kids sitting out on this very same porch . . .where did the time go??


I know this is silly but I LOVE the boat parade!  I will run to the top of the boat house if I see the boats coming!  I will wave at every single boat like a crazy lady!!


Lydia made an amazing cookie cake - she is so talented!!


Bill has Parkinson's and so Glenn was helping him after he caught a fish!!


I had to ride in the back seat to and from the lake.  Mark wanted to drive his pick up truck and Laura needs (worse than I do!) to ride in the front seat.  We always pick up Bill at his house so Bill and I rode in the back seat.  Yes, I had to take drugs.  We were surrounded by coolers and fishing poles and everything else imaginable!

It was crazy that we got home around supper time and cleaned up and went to bed . . .and then got up on Tuesday morning and went to work!

It was a great weekend - start to finish!!


Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Wednesday HodgePodge



Do you find yourself influencing your world, or is it more the other way around? 
I imagine the world influences me . . .but I don’t like those words when I type them.  As a Christian, I try to live in this world but to keep my heart and mind on spiritual things – you know there is an old saying about being a spiritual being in an earthly body (or something like that . . .I should probably look it up . ..but I’m not going to do so!)  Maybe I have some influence.  My young adult children are rarely influenced by my opinion – neither is my husband!!J.  I am one of the older employees in our office so I do have some institutional memory that might influence someone or might influence a decision.  I teach an adult Sunday School class and facilitate a young adult study . . .maybe I have some influence but I am not really sure.

July 14th is National Tape Measure Day...the device was patented on this date in 1868. When did you last use a tape measure? Do you always know where to find one in your house? Tell us one way in which you feel blessed 'beyond measure'. 
How in the world do you find out these fun facts to know and tell?  Do you have an app that tells you something special about each day?  I am so amazed that there is even such a thing as National Tape Measure Day!  I’m always measuring something – from fabric to paper to space.  I usually keep a tape measure in my purse and in my desk and I keep a yard stick in the laundry room and a ruler in my craft room (along with another tape measure!!).

I needed that question about blessed “beyond measure” because I’ve been looking for blessings over the last few days.  I am blessed beyond measure with good health and an awesome family and a new grandbaby girl and a job I love.  I am blessed beyond measure with good friends – a couple of those friends love me warts and all (I don’t have any warts but you know what I mean!).

The Plaza Hotel (Eloise), The Land of Oz (The Wizard of Oz), Narnia (The Chronicles of Narnia), The Hundred Acre Wood (Winnie the Pooh), Wonderland (Alice's Adventures in Wonderland), or Never Never Land (Peter Pan)...which storybook land (on this list!) would you most like to visit and why? 
I love them all.  Do I have to pick just one?  There are six storybook lands on your list.  Couldn’t I visit one every other month?  Please!  I think I might choose Never Never Land with Peter Pan or maybe I would choose The Hundred Acre Wood . . . it sounds so very peaceful.

Where and when do you get your best ideas? 
I get most of my best ideas in the middle of the night!  Really!!  I think my mind finally slows down enough to just think over the things I have seen throughout the day.  I like to find an idea – be it in a magazine or pinterest or some other website – and make that idea my own by changing it to suit my taste.

So what have you been watching on TV this summer? Anything good?  
This weekend we watched My Big Fat Greek Wedding Two and I really enjoyed it.  Mark watched with me but I don’t think he enjoyed it NEARLY as much as I did.  I never get to pick what we watch so I really really enjoyed the movie.  Laura was home and she and I watched some of the Olympic trials – we watched some track and field events and the gymnastics and really enjoyed both!  (I actually don’t watch a lot of tv – I have three or four shows that I enjoy.  Mark watches lots of “boy tv” so I read or look at facebook, etc. just so we can be in the same room at the same time.

'Don't swim for an hour after you eat', 'Dog days of summer', 'Knee high by the Fourth of July'...choose a summer saying from the list or share one of your own, then tell us what image or memory comes to mind when you hear it spoken.
“You need to either go outside or stay inside, but STOP slamming that door.”  I can hear my parents saying that to me when I was a kid.  Back then, we didn’t have central air throughout our home.  We had a window unit in the front of the house and one in the back of the house.  It is hot in Alabama in the summertime and they were trying to keep that cool air inside!!

In a single sentence, sum up one life lesson you've learned.  
Don’t grab onto an electric fence when the power is turned on!  (you probably were asking for a serious answer – that’s all I’ve got today!)

Insert your own random thought here. 
I think I’ve mentioned this before.  We have signed up for a few Blue Apron boxes and have really enjoyed cooking together.  We received a shipment on Saturday.  On Sunday night, Laura was home so we cooked while the thunder storm raged around our house.  The dish was a shrimp and pearl couscous dish and I didn’t put all the seasoning on the shrimp because I was afraid it would be too hot (one recipe was hot previously).  I SHOULD have put all the seasoning on the shrimp.  It was an ok dinner – but not my favorite – BUT it did stretch three ways easily.  I don't usually like any kind of tomato based sauce cooked in with my shrimp but this was such a small amount that it was good.


Last night, it was once again raining (doesn’t really matter – just thought that was odd!) and we made the beef empanadas.  We really enjoyed those.  It was my first time to make empanadas and I loved how the pastry was so flaky.  We also had a cucumber and tomato salad (neither are Mark’s favs) but you made a dressing with lime juice and olive oil and it was delicious.  The other thing included in our box was crème fraiche.  You added lime zest and lime juice to the crème fraiche . . .oh my goodness, it was good.  Mark always asks the waiter at the Mexican restaurant to omit sour cream so I thought he wouldn’t eat the crème fraiche . . .he loved it.  It was so delicious on the empanadas.  We scraped the bowl completely clean!  (explanation for the little pile of meat . . .at the end of the recipe, it said something like this, "there will be extra filling" -- I looked at Mark and said, "well, let's just put it on our plate."  Why didn't they include another empanada wrapper??)