Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Hodge Podge

Joyce is back at writing the Hodgepodge questions this week which we all appreciate! You can copy the questions and answer on your own blog and link up here or you can answer in the comments below. 

From this Side of the Pond
1. When it comes to gift giving are you more of a 'create something from scratch' or a 'buy something in a shop' kind of giver? Tell about a favorite homemade gift you've given or one you've received. I used to enjoy making handmade gifts. I have found that some people don't appreciate a handmade gift. I crossstitched a poem for my in-laws when we were newlyweds and I crossstitched some ducks (like Mallards) for Mark when we were dating. Mark's aunt Margaret made stockings for all of the children in our family. My husband and his first cousins equal 12. She made stockings for the children of all of those 12. Actually, my sister-in-law and I finished two of them because Aunt Margaret had died. I'm not sure if we did one for the youngest niece or not. That is going to bug me.

2. Do you have the 'gift of gab'? Is that a blessing or a curse? Yes, I can talk to just about anyone. My husband truly has the gift of gab and now he has visited the Blarney Stone so he has it double. When I was younger, it was often a curse because I would make straight A's plus a C in conduct because I couldn't keep my mouth closed. It would make my daddy so mad. As I've aged, I can keep my mouth shut most of the time when needed but I can still talk and laugh with the best of them!

3. What's something you have going on that you need/want to 'wrap up' this month? I don't have a good answer for this question. We will "wrap up" our Tuesday night group for the year after our Christmas party two weeks from tonight. I'm going to take 3 weeks off before we start again. I need to "wrap up" regarding Christmas gifts. I haven't even started my shopping.

4. A food you love that is 'wrapped' in some way? I almost just typed bacon. Anything wrapped in bacon is good. Have you had bacon wrapped green beans? Yum! If I still ate sweets, I might say a Reese tree. That peanut butter is certainly wrapped in chocolate and that was one of my all time favorite sweets. I love a good roll up or a good pita pocket sandwich and those are both sort of wrapped up.

5. December is upon us...share something here (quote, verse, poem, song lyric, your own thoughts) related to the word hope.  One year, I used Romans 15:13 on our Christmas cards -- May the God of hope fill you with all hope and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

6. Insert your own random thought here. I work on a church staff - remember? We had a meeting today mapping out from now through Easter. It sometimes takes my breath away. Everyone else wants to celebrate from now until Christmas but I don't begin Christmas until we go to the candlelight service on Christmas Eve and then I'm ready to celebrate. Does that even make sense?

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Thanksgiving recap

I want to jot down some thoughts before I forget everything!
Thanksgiving 2021 was much better than 2020. We were able to include a few friends plus our daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter #2 were able to join us this year. Last year, they had covid!

I bought two new tablecloths at Target and they were $15 each - score! I have lots of tablecloths but not two that match. I need the 120" length on the big table and I bought the shorter one and folded it in half for the card table. 

In case you can't tell, I love pilgrims. I have quite a few pairs. I love Thanksgiving. The centerpiece below wasn't quite finished. I added pumpkins on the back side and more leaves.

Mark smoked a 14 pound turkey for us on his Pit Barrel Cooker. It was really good. I also bought a ham from the Honeybaked Ham store and we enjoyed both.

I think this was my third time to host Thanksgiving. I finally nailed the dressing. I used a blend of my mother's recipe and Mark's mother's recipe and it was just right. I forgot to take a picture but we make it in muffin tins so each piece has a little crust. I hope I can recreate it next year. My mother-in-law doesn't put sage in hers and I love sage. I used 2 pans of cornbread, about 6 biscuits, a bag of Pepperidge Farm seasoned stuffing (looks like croutons). I did the onion and celery in the food processor so that you don't have chunks but you have great flavor. I also added poultry seasoning, salt, and pepper, along with broth and eggs. I greased the muffin tins the old fashioned way - I used Crisco. Some of the first ones stuck but for round two I sprayed with pam. Next year, I need to use Crisco and pam. They popped right out.

I made the gravy, a green bean casserole, and deviled eggs and everyone brought something. Everything was delicious.

Here we all are around the table. The third person on the left is my sweet 96 year old mother-in-law. We weren't sure we could get her here and in the house but we did. Our daughter went and spent the day with her since we didn't have a sitter and helped her get ready. We had plenty of men to help her in and out of the house.

Our good friends joined us and they brought a hostess gift for me - a giant bottle of Grey Goose! It is my favorite.

Our daughter and her family stayed from Wednesday through Friday morning. She and our daughter-in-law took the girls to a "you paint" pottery place on Wednesday afternoon. I can't wait to see their finished projects.

Granddaughter #2 pictured below with our giant cat, Harvey. Look how her little pony tail looks sort of like his ear - both on the right side. She lay down beside him and said, "Can you say meow?"

After they left, I rested and puttered. I cleaned out two drawers in the bedroom - my sock drawer and my earring drawer. Both are very organized now. I also straightened up our closet but I'm not going to show a picture because it is not very neat. We share a walk in closet and it is just not quite big enough. We make it work.

On Saturday, we did a couple of errands together. Mark had a gift card at a local beer place called Hop City. Hop City just happens to be down the block from one of my favorite places, Frontera. While he was beer shopping, I was looking at all of the fun things at Frontera. My family is always talking about Big Foot so I had to snap a photo and send to them! They had Big Foot to go in your yard in 3 different sizes.

We also went to Trader Joe's. I love that store.

On Sunday, we went to church and then I taught Sunday School. The lesson was on Tamar -- and we talked about how God used all sorts of people in the lineage of Jesus. Jesus didn't come into a perfect world for perfect families.

We then headed to my mother-in-law's house. She lives just a few minutes from our church. We had packed up all of the leftovers from Thursday and had them in the fridge. We reheated everything and ate turkey and dressing and gravy one more time.


Sunday, November 28, 2021

Sunday Stealing Questions

Thanks to Bev at Sunday Stealing for the questions each week. This week’s questions were stolen from mantelligence

1. What is the craziest, most outrageous thing you want to achieve? I would love to travel to every country in the world. I’m 63 so this may not happen. My other goal is hopefully going to happen. I’ve mentioned this on my blog before – I’m going to take a class at a local junior college beginning in January – Sociology. My first goal is to complete my 2 year degree. I have a good many credits that are still good from when I was young. After I get my 2 year, I would love to go on and complete my 4 year degree. If I were younger, I would go to seminary after that (which is pretty outrageous).

2. Have your parents influenced what goals you have? My mom died when I was a sophomore in high school and I was about 25 when my daddy died. I do hear my daddy’s voice at times (not literally). I can hear things he “taught” us about life. I think my parents would be proud of me.

3. What is a fashion trend you’re glad went away. My mother-in-law and I were just talking about this the other day. I am so glad that shoulder pads went away and I hope they never come back.

4. What word or saying from the past do you think should come back? I think “cray cray” for crazy was a great word but my daughter shut me down hahahaha! I think I probably say things all of the time that are outdated.

5. What do you bring with you everywhere you go? I take my phone pretty much everywhere I go.

6. Is there such a thing as a soul? I believe we each have a soul.

7. Is there life after death? I definitely believe in life after death.

8. Do you think there will ever be a third world war? I would hope NOT but history has a tendency to repeat itself. We are so divided in our world today that a third world war would probably not be a surprise. 

9. What smell brings back great memories? This is not my normal answer but I was actually thinking about this smell this past week. We live in the south and where we live has its own “scent”. When we were in Red Rock Canyon, the smell was so different. I remember Mark and I actually had a conversation about the smell. Mark had a meeting in Las Vegas about 20 years ago and we rented a car and did some sight seeing. It was a fun trip.

10. How would you like to be remembered? I would love to be remembered as a philanthropist but since we aren’t “wealthy” . . .I don’t think that will happen! I would love to be remembered as a good mom, a good wife, a great friend, someone with a great laugh, and most importantly of all, a lover of Jesus.

11. What kind of music are you into? I’m all over the board when it comes to music.

12. What is the biggest surprise of your life? I think the biggest surprise might be the wonderful life I live. Last night while Mark and I were eating dinner, he reminded me once again of all our many blessings in life.

13. If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be? French fries – not even a complete sentence – just French fries!

14. Where is the most awe inspiring place you have been? We visited the Cliffs of Moher this summer – pretty amazing! This is not my photo - this one is from

15. Describe your life in six words – blessed with more than I deserve!

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Book Reviews

I read all of the time. I have books loaded on my kindle so I can read wherever I am - either on the actual kindle or on my computer or on my phone. I normally read thrillers or mysteries but I usually lurk on the edges of our neighborhood book club Facebook pages and read what they are reading. My sister is also in a book club in Texas and she often shares what they are reading. This encourages me to read other genres.

I mentioned this book recently and I highly recommend it.

This book was named one of the best books of the year by the Washington Post. This historical fiction novel is based on the true story of J.P. Morgan's personal librarian. Belle, the librarian, is actually a black woman who is light skinned and she crafts a white identity. I love what the authors shared at the end of the book. They were both real and honest. 

I, a white woman of privilege, take so many things for granted. This is not a book that "preaches" at you but it is a book that will make you think.

I also read this book and I recommend it, too. I think I downloaded it after reading a review on Preppy Empty Nester (maybe?).

This is the first time that I have read a book by Beatriz Williams and I think I will have to read some more. Our Woman in Moscow is also historical fiction. As a child, I remember hearing whispers of things happening in Russia and whispers of people who were said to be communists. One of the reasons I was drawn to the book is that two of the main characters are twins . . .since I'm married to an identical twin and we have fraternal twins, I'm almost always game to read about twins.

Let me tell you about two more. I think this book was an Amazon Prime first picks choice.

This book is a "thriller." I like a book that keeps me on the edge of the seat. Barbara Nickless did a good job of keeping the identity of the killer a secret . . until she didn't. At First Light is set in present day and includes Vikings, ritual murder, birds, music, and riddles -- among other things!

I also love a book that can make me laugh out loud. Janet Evanovich's books do that for me almost every time. 

I read the reviews online and this book got horrible reviews. I just love Stephanie Plum and her crazy family - especially Grandma Mazur. Yes, the book is similar to some of her other books and I can agree with some of the things the naysayers wrote in their reviews BUT the book made me laugh out loud and that is always a good thing.  

What have you read lately? Do you have a favorite genre? Do you have any recommendations?

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Thankful Sunday Stealing

 Thanks to Bev for the Sunday Stealing questions each week!

1) What teacher are you most thankful for and why?  What did you learn from him or her? When I was a senior in high school, I took honors English. Our teacher taught us so many things that I still use today. She wanted us to enter the world knowing the difference between their and there. She wanted us to know when to use I at the end of a sentence and when to use me. I hear this used incorrectly ALL of the time.

2) What’s the season you’re most thankful for, and what’s your favorite part of each season? I love November and if the temps could stay in the 60’s or 70’s with sunshine and the days were a tad longer, I would be truly happy! I do love summer, too. Spring in Alabama is gorgeous but I can’t be outside due to allergies. I take shots and pills but spring wins in our battle each year.

3) What electronic device are you most grateful for, and what does it add to your life? I love my iPhone and my apple watch. I love that I can track my steps and keep up with my exercise minutes. I also admit that I love being connected . . .according to my husband, way too much.

4) What musician or type of music are you most thankful for? I don’t “know” music well. I love the old hymns and the new hymns. I am thankful that some people are smart enough and musically inclined enough to put scripture to a tune.  I enjoy Christmas music – after Thanksgiving, please!

5) What are you most grateful for that brings beauty to your daily life? Nature all around – green grass and blue skies in the summer, brightly colored leaves in the fall. Even the bare branches of winter have a stark beauty. Spring – see above – gorgeous in Alabama! We have azaleas, crepe myrtle, hydrangeas, and many more lovely blooming flowers. Today I swept my mother-in-law’s deck. She is 96 and her chair looks out over her deck and backyard. It was bothering her that leaves literally covered her deck. I went outside to sweep them off and even the dry and crinkly leaves that have already turned brown have beauty in them.

6) What philanthropic cause or organization do you feel thankful for? I’m thankful for our church. We have a food pantry and a sharing table each week and we are feeding about 1400 people every week. We provide Christmas to lots of folks through our angel tree. Yesterday, I wrestled a bike into the back of my car by myself. A 3rd grade girl needs a bike and I found a pink one!

7) What foods are you most thankful for? I’m thankful that we have food to eat period. (see above about 1400 people needing groceries). I’m thankful that we can buy fruit of all kinds and vegetables galore in order to have a healthy diet.

8) What local store or restaurant are you most grateful for?  How does it contribute to your quality of life? This is a tough question. Walmart is definitely not local but we have one just a couple of miles from our house and we can find just about anything we need there. We used to have a restaurant “The Boot” within walking distance to our house and we were very grateful for that restaurant and we still miss it.

9) What book are you most grateful for, and why? As a Christian, I should say the Bible . . . so I’ll start with that. I’m grateful to learn about Jesus and how he wants us to live. I’m also grateful for several books I’ve read over the last year that have opened my eyes to the living conditions of others.

10) What act of kindness has made the greatest difference in your life? I cannot wait to read some of your answers. This is another tough question. My husband has extended numerous acts of kindness to me when I didn’t deserve it. 

Right before I hit publish . . .I remembered a story of great kindness. It may not sound like much but it was truly special. After my divorce I was broke - yes, I was broken emotionally but I was also broke financially. Seriously. I didn't have any extra money. It was my first Christmas alone and I didn't even have the money for a Christmas tree. That was not something I was going to ask my daddy to purchase. I was sad about being alone and I was sad about the stupid tree and I think I started crying at work one day and Mel, a wonderful co-worker and friend, brought me a Christmas tree stand and bought me a tree.

11) What challenging experience has ended up changing your life for the better? I was married for about 18 months when I was very young. He left me (another story for another day) and actually is no longer living. I thought my world had ended. I have been married to Mark for over 37 years now and I can’t imagine my life without him. We live a nice comfortable life. We have a lovely home. We have traveled together. I’m not sure I would have had a comparable life with my first husband.

12) What vacation are you most grateful for? I’m usually most grateful for the vacation I’m on at the moment. Our trips to Israel and Ireland would definitely be near the top of my list. Israel is technically a working trip for me but I’m so grateful for all I have learned and experienced.

13) Name three days in your life that you feel especially grateful for. I’m grateful for our wedding day, the day our twins were born, our son’s wedding day and our daughter’s wedding day. Yes, I know that is a list of four events.

14) What product do you use on a daily basis that you most appreciate? Can it be clean water? Is that a product? We definitely pay for it. Clean drinking water is something we often take for granted. I’m also thankful for toilet paper! Ha! That is definitely a product!!

15) What, from this year, do you feel most grateful for? I feel very grateful that we are able to gather together this Thanksgiving and include not only immediate family but those friends we consider family. Our dining room table will be surrounded with love on Thursday and I am indeed very grateful. I've been working on my centerpiece for our dining room table. I can't decide if I want to leave the antlers or not.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

The week BEFORE Thanksgiving Hodgepodge

Thank you to Joyce for the questions! Answer on your own blog and connect with us or answer in the comments below!

1. It's often said we should be grateful for small blessings. What is one small blessing you are feeling especially grateful for today? On Tuesday I did the devotion for our staff chapel (I work in a church) and it was about gratitude. Being grateful is on my mind! I'm thankful for the sound of the clothes dryer running in the background. I know that is random but I'm going with it!

2. How do you feel about leftovers, not just on Thanksgiving but after any meal? Favorite thing to make/eat using your Thanksgiving leftovers? I meal prep on Sunday afternoons for my lunches so I guess those are leftovers . . .we definitely eat leftovers at our house. My husband would eat them far longer than I . . .I throw them out much quicker than he would. I love the dressing (some of you may call it stuffing - this is Alabama and it is dressing) on Thanksgiving and it is even better left over!! I love making soups with the leftover turkey!

3. Sherwin Williams unveiled it's 2022 Color of the Year-Evergreen Fog. Are you a fan? Would I find this mid-tone gray green shade anywhere in your house? Does your house need painting? Inside or out? What one space is most in need of a paint job? Are you a do-it-yourselfer or do you hire a professional? Lots of questions in this one question! I'm not fond of colors with lots of gray. Gray makes me feel gray. I just looked up Evergreen Fog and it is very gray on my screen. If I visited you and your house was painted this color, I would love it - seriously. I just couldn't live in it day after day. We've had the outside painted in the last year or so. Outside is good. We've continually touched up the inside but last week I told Mark that some of it needs repainting. We've done some of our own painting but it sure is nice to hire a professional - if you can find a good one who is reasonably priced. 

4. What is one aspect of the way you were parented that you are grateful for today? I typed out an answer to this question and then reread the question and my answer would have been totally incorrect! My mom died when I was a sophomore in high school and my dad died when I was 25. I'm having a hard time remembering how I was parented. We had to help around the house - I remember my sister and I standing at the sink washing and drying dishes. My mom was active in church and she took us to church and I'm glad she did that. I wish they were alive so I could ask them how they parented us!!

5. Write an acrostic for the word-thankful (update: I misread . . .and used Thanksgiving!!) - let me be honest. I am a horrible acrostic writer. I read other ones and think "why couldn't I come up with that!" 

Thankful . . .and I am thankful for

Home - a home far better than I ever dreamed I would have (and Hodgepodge!!)

A day to be together with loved ones

Neighbors who are great

Knowledge - isn't it wonderful that we can keep learning no matter our age?


Good food and God's grace

Icing - though I don't eat it anymore . . .Icing is good!

Victory in Jesus - really that was what popped into my head -- also, Vaccines - yes! I got my booster last week.

Ideas, Icemakers, Imaginations, and Ibuprofin - I imagine I'll need some of all of those

Nachos, Navel Oranges – good grief – what else begins with N? (this may be my worst one)

Grey Goose - shhh! I may really need this on Thursday night.

6. Insert your own random thought here. I would love to hear about Thanksgiving menus – what does your family eat on Thanksgiving? Do you eat lunch or dinner? I think there will be 12 adults and 2 children around our table. I think I’ll add the card table to the end of our large dining table.

Our menu as of this moment is:

Turkey and dressing and gravy

Honeybaked Ham

Green bean casserole

Sweet potato casserole

Asian Slaw

Relish tray – pickles, olives, pickled okra

Canned cranberry sauce – whole berry plus the other one (I don’t eat it but the rest of the family prefers the canned??)

Pumpkin pie

Pecan pie

Another dessert made by a friend who will be joining us

Something else (not sure what yet) made by another couple joining us – I’m thinking a green vegetable? And rolls? Any other ideas?


Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Weekend Recap

What a weekend! I worked on Friday and picked up last minute groceries because our daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter #2 were arriving later on. They met one of their friends for dinner and got here just in time to bathe E and put her to bed.

Saturday morning dawned bright and early and they met friends at the zoo. I decided to stay behind and do prep for our dinner.

I booked our friend who is a photographer to join us late in the afternoon. She took family photos for us and I can't wait to see them. She came in and joined us for beverages and snacks while I put the food in the oven.

Our kids plus one spouse all have November birthdays. We celebrated this way last year with photos in the afternoon, dinner, cakes, and presents. I didn't take a single photo. I'm going to be honest - I was soaking up every single moment of having both of them and their families in our home.

Granddaughter #1 enjoyed playing with the box.

She would get in and fold her little self up into a ball and her daddy would tape the box closed. She would then pop out of the box.

She did it for granddaughter #2 and it was cute!!

I love these girls.


For dinner we served cranberry chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans wrapped in bacon, and salad followed by German Chocolate Cake and Funfetti Cake.

On Sunday morning Mark and I were up bright and early and headed off to church. I taught our adult Sunday School class and then headed back home while Mark went on to his mother's house.

We drove the golf cart up to Moss Rock Tacos and Tequilas and grabbed a quick lunch. I am NEVER a day drinker but I did have a Mimosa - yep, I did.

After gobbling up our lunch, we headed home because our daughter was hosting a baby sprinkle for her friend. Do y'all have sprinkles where you live? You have a baby shower for the first baby and a sprinkle for the next one. They usually have a theme - like bring diapers and wipes or children's books. It is not as big as a shower. We were able to host it in the pavillion in front of our house and it was a glorious day. Laura's co-hostess had a migraine so my son-in-law and I helped run everything out to the pavillion. Our house is the one with the red brick chimney in the background. When the party was over we helped clean up and Laura and her family loaded the car and headed home - about an hour and 45 minute drive.

mother-to-be on the left and
her mother on the right

Mark and I exercised some and I did laundry, etc. and then at 6:30 we headed to a neighbor's house for supper club. Our neighborhood has the coolest thing - you sign up and they divide everyone up each month (not in December) you go to a different home. You also have to host a couple of times. We have participated in 2. We were a host home in September and we went to a neighbor's house on Sunday night. Both have been so much fun and we've met folks that we didn't know at all. Both times we ended up having connections with different people in the group - mutual friends from outside the neighborhood, etc. The host home provides the main dish and simple beverages - tea, coffee, water. Everyone else signs up for a different portion of the meal. I took the appetizer and I wish I had made a picture of the finished tray. I made a new cheese ball that had pecans and cranberries and scallions and cream cheese and white sharp cheddar. It was so good! I also had two other cheeses and lots of crackers. Here is the cheese ball prior to rolling it in pecans and cranberries (dried).

I'm going to be honest - by last night (Monday) I had worked all day on the back of such a busy weekend and . . .I was tired to the bone! I rode the bike and ate leftovers and that was about all I could manage!!

What did you do this weekend? Anything fun? I don't think we have anything to do this weekend except I will be teaching Sunday School again.