Saturday, July 22, 2017

2nd Annual Fish Fry

We hosted our second annual fish fry last weekend.  We planned the party for July thinking there would be no rain (last year we had a monsoon on the night of the party in the spring) . . .you aren't going to believe this, but it happened again!  We had our courtyard ready and all of our outside porches ready . . .but no go! 

I've been using my three tiered basket for all sorts of centerpieces!!  You can see the box of gummy worm "bait" on the right behind the basket . . .you have to have bait!

I used all sorts of fish for decorations!

I made the bobber banner last year and saved it in a drawer in the craft room . . .and ta-dah!  If we have a third annual fish fry, you will see it again in 2018!!

See that bass peaking out of the watering can?

Some people have to use fake antlers but we don't!  My whole decoration scheme was red and white and I asked Mark to buy bobbers . . .and he brought home orange and yellow ones!  You would be so proud of me . . .I didn't say, "why in the world did you buy that color?"  I said, "thank you!"  Y'all this was a rare occurrence for me . . .my words seem to fall out of my mouth before I can catch them.  Thank you Holy Spirit for the clamp on my lips!  Not a single person said, "why do you have orange and yellow bobbers when everything else is red and white?" 

I found these cute fish in a local shop.  They are still sitting on the mantle just because they are fun!

More fish, more red and white, and cute fishing hole signs were located in the plant in the entry hall.

I love using this box . . ALL. THE. TIME.

I color copied the fish and cut them out and glued them to small dowels.  I used my same little bottle vases inside the big box.  I found the fun cattails, etc. at . . .drum roll please . . .THE DOLLAR TREE!  Granted, I probably have $20 worth of Dollar Tree weeds and cattails in the centerpiece but it was so fun to create.

We served beer and lemonade.  We used the little table right outside the door on the screen porch for drinks.  We used this cute picture of Mark and George fishing as part of the decoration.

I love my door hangers created by Marcy Hill.  I have one for all three doors.

I thought I took a few pictures of people - the most important part but there are no pictures on my phone.  My friend, Terrie, took this picture of the guys that are close church friends.  Oh my goodness - these men are all so special to us!!  Our kids were here and that was fun and we invited our next door neighbors.

Why do we have a fish fry?  Mark loved catching fish from the farm pond so we end up with an abundance of fresh fish so . . .why not share??  We keep the menu simple - a few appetizers, Asian slaw, hushpuppies, fish.  Two people brought wonderful desserts.  We told our wine drinking friends to "bring their favorites" . . .

What a fun night!  Mark and I love to entertain and we make a good team . . .and it helps to have lots of fresh fish!  (Mark and Glenn fried bass, snapper throats that Allen - second from right above - caught.  Mark also made gumbo that everyone declared the best gumbo ever with quail, Alabama crawfish, nitrate free sausage, lots of okra, etc.  - the gumbo was one of the appetizers and we served it in small 8 ounce cups)

We feel so very blessed - to have fresh fish in abundance and to be surrounded by wonderful friends.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Showers of Lemons!

A few weeks ago, we hosted a bridal shower for our friend, Brooke.  Her colors for the wedding are yellow and gray so I decided to use those same colors for the shower decorations.  I started thinking about all things yellow and decided to use lemons!  Costco has large bags of lemons for $7-8 per bag.  I bought four bags and used them everywhere -- even in the powder room!!

I moved my three tiered basked from the island over to the cooktop and filled it with lemons (and left the bananas because they are yellow, right??).  I made a big loopy bow from yellow and gray ribbons.

I have pictures of the table and food from several angles.

I served lemonade (of course!!) and water with lemons.  I used my champagne/sherbet glasses to serve yellow jelly beans!!  I ordered sandwiches from a local place called "Ouslers" -- they make chicken salad, pimento cheese, and cream cheese and olive sandwiches -- yum!!

The bride's new last name begins with an "H" so I bought this for her new front door but used it as a fireplace decoration.  We've used those little yellow pom poms for multiple parties now.  I keep hanging them in a closet until we need them again.

I took a picture of the family room because it is rarely this clean!!

Here is the basket from another angle.  I used my box that I normally keep on the dining room table - wrapped yellow ribbon around and made a bow and added some lemons - viola!

I even put lemons in the Waterford bowl that sits nestled inside the REAL antlers (we don't have fake antlers!).

Her (their) hashtag made a great banner!  I had the invitation propped against the lamp and the "party favors" were in the metal tub (more yellow and gray ribbon!!).

Hey Kat Bakes made the cookies and I made cute "Love is Sweet" labels for the bags.

Even the wreath on the front door had lemons (these were fake!).

I bought letters at Walmart and painted them to go along with the color scheme.  I purchased great fruit and raw veggies at Publix and I bought cheese straws from East Lake UMC.  In the picture above, you can see the little tiered round tray on top of the wooden box . . .those are baby bites from a local bakery.  They are sooooo good.  I toasted pecans and served cheese cubes with cubes of ham, turkey, salami, etc.  I placed the cheese/meat items on a tray inside the wooden box.

Once again . . .it is so rare that everything is perfectly clean that I just had to snap a picture.

Sweet bride in the middle and sweet daughter on the right.  My hair was HORRIBLE that day!  It was hot outside and I got up and took my shower and did my hair at 5:00 a.m. because the party started at 11:00 and I needed to get that out of the way but by 11:00 my hair was looking sad!!  The party was not about me (nor my sad hair!) but about this beautiful bride to be!!

The flower girls were big helpers.  They opened LOTS of the presents.

This sweet bride is a part of our family - she and Laura have been friends for several years and she was active in our Tuesday night group.  We tell people that we "claim" her as one of "ours" -- so it was such a pleasure to host a party for her.  She is lovely on the inside and on the outside!

What a fun shower of lemons!!  (p.s. did you know that when lemons mold, they have actual powdery hairy stuff growing out of them!!)

Hodge Podge - on time again!

Linking up with Joyce for Wednesday Hodgepodge!

1. Growing up, were you close to your grandparents? Tell us one or two specific things you remember about them.
I was the youngest grandchild on my dad's side of the family and I never felt like I was "anything special" - does that make sense?  We spent a good bit of time with my dad's parents and I remember sitting on their front porch and hearing the summer night sounds.  I remember celebrating Christmas Eve at their house with other cousins . . .and my grandpa had a tendency to give bags of groceries to each family.  As a kid, that was weird - as an adult, I totally get it.  Times were probably hard.  People were proud.  A Christmas gift was easy to accept.  My mom didn't drive and I remember my grandpa having to pick me up at school one day when I needed to check out . . .because of the cramps . . .and how mortified I was!  When my mom was diagnosed with cancer, my dad's parents stepped in and did whatever they could (I was a teenager).  The funniest story would take too long to type but it involved my middle sister and me.  We were spending the night and my granny thought my sister had sneaked out (she didn't!).  We laugh about that one often.

On my momma's side of the family, we only knew her mother.  My Granny George had put my mother in foster care due to some crazy things.  My momma and Granny George made peace at some point. I remember driving to Granny George's house (it is only a few miles from where I live now but it was an all day trip back then!).  She didn't have indoor plumbing and I remember using the "slop pot" and thinking it was horrible (but fascinating!).  I remember sitting on her front porch and eating saltine crackers.  I actually felt special to her though we saw her far less.  She sent flour sacks to my mom and I had some shorts made from those sacks. She sent a bobble head dog to me and I thought I had died and gone to heaven.  I also have a quilt that she either made for me or had someone make.

As I've typed all of this I have realized that I don't think I have a single picture of me with any of my grandparents! How sad!

2. What's an item you were attached to as a child? What happened to it?
I had a stuffed animal (monkey) and he had a plastic banana attached to his hand.  I evidently carried him everywhere and chewed on the banana.  I assume he was thrown away at some point!  I think I have a picture of me holding that monkey buried deep in my house (who knows where??).

3. When you look out your window, do you see the forest or the trees (literally and figuratively)? Explain.
From the front of the house, I see a park with some trees.  We live in a planned neighborhood and we each have one tree planted in front of our houses.  The park is lovely - like a HUGE front yard (that we don't have to maintain!!).  From our back window, I see our lovely courtyard with three small trees and pretty plants.
Figuratively, hmmmm a little of both.  Sometimes the forest is so dense it is hard to see the trees.

4. Do you like sour candies? Which of the 'sour' foods listed below would you say is your favorite?

grapefruit, Greek yogurt, tart cherries, lemons, limes, sauerkraut, buttermilk, or kumquats 

I do like most sour things.  I love grapefruit but can't eat it because it interacts with a medicine that I take.  I love Greek yogurt!  I actually have cherries in my lunch today.  I adore lemons and limes.  I like sauerkraut ok - we grew up eating "weinies and kraut" as a main dish and I like it ok on a hot dog.  I like to cook with buttermilk BUT WOULD NEVER DRINK IT - yuck!!  I've never eaten a kumquat.

greek yogurt parfait

Have you ever eaten a kumquat? What's your favorite dish containing one of the sour foods on the list?
I've never eaten one and I'll have to think about my dish . . .lemon bars! margarita! Cherries - raw or in yogurt parfait!  Buttermilk - CORNBREAD!!

5. July 1st marked the mid point of 2017. In fifteen words or less, tell us how it's going so far.
crazy BUSY, good, exciting, stressful!  I can't make a sentence!

6. Insert your own random thought here.
Love on your people.  Do you hear me?  Love on your people.  Don't have regrets.  Love on your people.  My step-mom died on Friday night (please feel free to read this post).  I wish I had spent more time with her.  I wish I had told her more often that I loved her.  I'm glad she is not in pain and
is with Jesus.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Birthday and Father's Day all rolled into one!

I'm only a month behind!  How could that be???  My birthday was in the middle of June and we celebrated by eating at Moss Rock Tacos and Tequila.  The best thing I had that night was the watermelon margarita.  We weren't impressed with the food AT ALL and that makes us sad because we love having a favorite restaurant within walking distance.

I received several fun gifts for my birthday (most are not pictured!!)  Glenn and Lauren gave me a "nice" band for my fitbit so if we are attending a wedding, etc. . . .the fitbit is incognito!!
They also gave me some other things (not pictured).

My friend from church, Donna, gave this watering can to me.  I love it!  I actually have it on my mantle at this moment.  Wasn't it clever how she put flowers in it and did the curly ribbon on the handle?

Another sweet friend gave me this hummingbird feeder and it has truly been the gift that keeps on giving.  I need to refill it today.  The hummingbirds love it and we have so enjoyed watching the birds.

Here are two of my favorite fathers with a strong willed little girl!  We celebrated my birthday and father's day at the same time  --  my momma always said that I was my daddy's father's day gift that year!

He loves this little girl which makes me love him even more!

I try to get as many pictures as possible of this sweet girl with my wonderful mother-in-law.

Mark's momma always has to make a cake for every birthday!

We tried to show Emma how to blow out the candles.  She looks just like Laura and Glenn in this picture (sometimes it is uncanny!).

She wasn't impressed!

Friday, July 14, 2017

In life, in death, in life beyond death, God is with us. We are not alone. Thanks be to God!

These words have been on a never ending loop in my head since last night.
"We are not alone, we live in God’s world.  We believe in God: who has created and is creating,     who has come in Jesus, the Word made flesh, to reconcile and make new, who works in us and  others by the Spirit.  We trust in God.  We are called to be the Church: to celebrate God’s presence, to love and serve others, to seek justice and resist evil, to proclaim Jesus, crucified and
risen, our judge and our hope.  In life, in death, in life beyond death, God is with us.  We are not alone. Thanks be to God."

The part that I've been saying almost like a mantra is "in life, in death, in life beyond death, God is with us. We are not alone. Thanks be to God."


I wasn't going to tell anyone about this because I'm not the one who needs sympathy.  I don't need meals or cards but all day my fingers have been dying to put this into words.  Maybe for memory?

Last night I received a phone call.  It was one of those phone calls that you know is going to bad news.  You know it before you answer it. . . . let me back up.  It is a long story.

My mom died when I was a Sophomore in high school.  When I was around 20 years old, my daddy married again - a lovely Southern lady by the name of Joann.  They were married for five years . . .until his death.

Fast forward over the next 30 years or so . . .we saw Joann at Christmas time.  Back when the children were small I would invite everyone over for a get-together around Christmas time and she would always come.  She came when Glenn and Laura were newborns and I have a picture somewhere of her holding one of them.  Later on, I took the kids to see her several times when they were young.  She had moved from our town to a town about an hour away to be near her sister and family.  We exchanged birthday cards and Christmas cards and we chatted on facebook and . . . we didn't do a good job of keeping in touch like we should.

I talk to one of my sisters almost every morning as I drive to work.  Just yesterday morning, I said that we needed to do a better job of keeping in touch with Joann.  We talked about her for a few minutes and the conversation moved on.  All day yesterday I felt an urgency to get my work completed.  I thought it was just because we were going out to dinner last night and we have friends coming over this weekend.  Instead it was for this reason:

Joann's sister called to tell me that Joann was diagnosed with cancer two days ago and was given only a few days to live.  I texted a co-worker because I was waffling about whether to drive an hour to see her this morning.  Did I need to miss work?

I called Sis (Joann's sister) early this morning and asked if I could come and she said yes.  She called me back while I was getting dressed and said that Joann was now unresponsive.  I quickly dressed, jumped in the car, and drove for an hour and 15 minutes.  I once again felt a sense of urgency.

I arrived to a quiet hospital room.  Joann's sister (who is on oxygen herself) sat quietly by the bed.  Sis no longer drives and her husband died this year.  A friend has been picking her up early in the morning and driving her to the hospital.

I pulled a chair up beside her.  She was holding Joann's hand.  Sis removed her hand and said, "here - you hold her hand."

First of all, I'm not a crier.  Second of all, I knew I was going to be sad but didn't expect to cry.  Just FYI - I did cry. Several times.

Sis and I sat there and talked with Joann and held her hand.  I told Joann that I loved her.  I told her that it was ok to go be with Jesus.  I reminded her that she taught me to eat peanut butter toast (which I still love!).  If we dirtied a glass, she washed it before it hit the sink.  She put up with me when I was a very bratty young adult.  She let me borrow her "evening bag" many years ago and there was cash in it -- because I might need to take a cab home from a date.  She met me before work one morning when I was working full time and going to school at night to give me money for books one semester because I could either buy books or groceries.  I stayed in her quiet hospital room for about an hour until more relatives arrived and I got in my car and I drove an hour and 15 minutes back to Birmingham.

Those words have been in my head all day today.  In life, in death, in life beyond death, God is with us. We ARE NOT ALONE.

I shared with Sis about "thin places" where heaven and earth meet.  I said that Joann had one foot with Jesus and one foot in the hospital room with us (if this is not theologically sound, so be it - it is comforting to me).  JOANN IS NOT ALONE - though she can't speak; though she is unaware of what is going on around her - she is not alone.  God is with her.  He is with us every single moment of our lives and beyond.

Yesterday Joann was still alert.  She has been very active in her community.  She has volunteered faithfully in the library.  She has served in local politics.  She loved Jesus and was active in her church. 

Sis told me that yesterday there was a steady stream of people -- from the mayor to the fire chief and everyone in between . . .and they told Joann that she had lived a good life.  They told her how much she meant to them.  They told her they loved her.  I was told that some of those big strong men even cried.  All of those affirmations were wonderful - how awesome to hear words of affirmation on your last alert day but OH MY GOODNESS - she is getting ready to hear Jesus say to her, "well done good and faithful servant."

I haven't had an update on Joann this afternoon but I'm assuming she is still in that thin space - her eyes are fixed on Jesus.  He is going to make her whole.  I can't imagine what she is going to stir up in heaven.

In life, in death, in life beyond death, God is with us.  We are not alone.  Thanks be to God.

My sister Becky and Joann

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Hodge Podge - written in a punctual manner!!

Linking up with Joyce over at From This Side of the Pond!

1. When was the last time you chatted with a neighbor? About what? (sharing that last bit is optional)
Let's see . . .I can stand on my porch and talk to our neighbors on either side . . .my last "words said out loud" to a neighbor were in the alley behind our houses on Saturday.  We talked to one person about a death in her family and we talked to another family about the water problem in their back yard.  There is a wet weather spring in their back yard and it is causing all sorts of problems.
We can sit in our rocking chairs
and talk to the neighbors while they
are sitting on their own porch

This is the other side of our porch -
we have sweet bay magnolias that create a screen of
sorts but if I wanted to talk to our neighbors on that side,
I certainly could do so!

2. River, lake, ocean, or waterfall...which one are you most like and why?
That is a hard question . . .sometimes I'm like a rushing river - running hither and yon - doing 14 things at once.  I love the ocean so I'm trying to think of how I might be like the ocean - rolling in and rolling out.  Oh I know . . .I'm loud like the ocean!!  You know how sometimes when you are on the beach and you try to yell at your family to get their attention - y'all don't do that?  Maybe I'm standing in the water and I see some fish or something and I try to yell and get their attention but they can't hear me over the waves!

My view on the fourth of July

3. July 13 is National Delaware Day. Ever been to Delaware? Delaware is called 'the first state' because it was the first to declare independence from the British. What's your state's nickname and does that moniker make sense to you? If you were in charge, what nickname would you give your home state?
I've never been to Delaware which is really a sad thing to type!  Mark's sister, husband, and boys live in Delaware (boys are spread out in different cities now that they are young adults but Delaware is home base).  I've got some Southwest points - I should fly to Baltimore (wonder if SW flies into Philadelphia??)  and get Susie to pick me up!  Laura and I have been talking about going to New York over spring break -- Susie lives close enough to go into New York for the day.  (and nephew is doing his residency in New York)

4. What dish did you contribute to the last pot luck meal you attended? Do you have a go-to recipe for pot luck suppers?
We actually had pot luck at lunch today at work!!  (I'm writing on Tuesday - Pot Luck was on Tuesday after staff meeting).  I took lasagna (pioneer woman recipe - best ever!) that I had made and frozen.  I often take Asian Slaw (a favorite!) or honeybaked Turkey breast slices.  I've also been known to take cheese grits or hashbrown casserole to a pot luck.

my lasagna on the left in the crockpot

5. What is your number one tip for a brand new parent?
Just love love love that baby.  They truly grow up so very fast.  My next piece of advice is to make sure your family is in church (once the baby has had first shots and is cleared by the pediatrician).  Don't be sporadic attenders - go every Sunday unless someone is truly sick.  Live your faith by example.  Another piece of advice (yes, I know you asked for only one but I'm on a roll) would be to sleep when you can.  Take a nap when baby is taking a nap.

So I just have to throw in a couple of pictures of our sweet grandbaby wearing hats . . .these hats were mine!  The funny shaped lace hat was from a wedding - I was the flower girl - it is over 50 years old (I think I was four).  She loved it!  The other hat was from an Easter outfit when I was probably 10 or so . . .so it is pretty old, too!!

6. Insert your own random thought here.
I need to write a post about my birthday and about the fourth of July and who knows what else.  I've been really busy between hosting a wedding shower (I need to post about that!) to hosting a Fish Fry this coming weekend and everything in between -- weddings, work -- I do work full time!, teaching Sunday School and hosting Tuesday nights.  Maybe I'm a waterfall right after a rain - going full speed ahead!! (when you are hired onto our church staff, we usually tell the new hire - "don't panic - it is going to feel like you are trying to drink from a firehose at first" . . . thinking about the waterfall made me think about the water hose . . .sorry for the tangent.

Which one are you? river, ocean, lake, waterfall?  and why?