Saturday, July 31, 2010

To Grandmother's House we go . . .

We actually do go to Grandmother's house . . .almost every Sunday after church. (this week, we actually went to the Dragon - but that is not a normal Sunday!) This was last Sunday at lunch. Over the years, we've played cards with our children while either waiting on lunch or after. Here is a picture of George playing cards with Grace. All of our kids know how to play poker!!

They are discussing who won the hand - I believe George had 2 Aces and 2 queens . . .can't remember what Grace had.

This is where all the cooking takes place. My mother-in-law is a great cook. She cooks an amazing roast beef! I can't remember everything she served last week, but I do remember that we had squash casserole. She usually has a meat, a starch, two veggies and a salad. There are always rolls and there is always, always, always dessert!! Lunch on Sunday is a tradition in our family. (and it is actually a "coveted" item . . .one friend of ours wants another invitation - we've tried to get her to put "Sunday Dinner at Mrs. Susie's" in the youth auction at church, but we haven't been able to convince her. Yesterday, Laura and I were talking about how we need to cherish each day with Grandmother (I've never called her mother or Susie or Mrs. Elliott . . . usually I call her Mark's mother! Since the children were born, I call her grandmother just like they do!)
Grandmother is on the left. Mark is carving some more roast beef and Bill (Mark's younger brother) is serving his plate. While the kids were growing up, we had a table full on Sundays - there are four of us and Grandmother and Bill and Rebecca and George, Alice and Grace. When both Glenn and Laura were living in Auburn, we had many quiet Sundays - if George and Alice and Grace go to Clopton (Alice's hometown), then it would be just Grandmother, Mark and I (because Bill and Rebecca don't usually arrive in time to eat with us). We've loved having Laura live back at home so that we have her with us on Sundays. Sunday lunch at Grandmother's house is definitely a tradition!

Kristi's birthday

I love working at Trinity UMC. I love working there for many reasons but one of them is because I get to work with people like Kristi. We've worked together on and off now for over 6 years (she took a maternity leave in the middle of that time). Kristi is a great friend . . .and she had a birthday last week. Here she is in her office surrounded by all of her surprises. Donna gave her the cutest picture frame and a candy jar full of miniature candy bars. Ann gave her a really cute sleep shirt. I gave her a lunchbox and some other treats. Here is a picture of her surprises. Can you see the picture frame? I think we could make those - it is covered in newsprint (made in India and an Indian newspaper! but we could use the Birmingham News or the Black and White) and then there are these really cute felt flowers and cut outs in a bird shape with felt underneath. I didn't do a very good job of explaining that but I promise it is really cute. Donna finds the cutest gifts!
We will use any excuse to order lunch from Franklin's Homewood Gourmet and a birthday is a great excuse. The baby bleu salad with chicken is wonderful!! I hated bleu cheese until I had it on this salad.
I think this is a great picture of Jeanne (I was trying out my new camera!). Isn't she pretty? She was at the "party" along with all of our other co-workers. (she is another sweet friend - see what I mean? It is just a great place to work surrounded by all these neat young adults!)After eating our healthy salads, we had to have birthday cake.
Happy birthday, Kristi! I hope all your wishes come true!!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Does anyone know her story?

Can you see her? Tucked up against the tree? She is there every single day whether it is 105 degrees outside or whether there is snow on the ground. Her clothes change with the seasons. When it snowed this winter, she actually had on a fur coat. At Easter, she was holding either an Easter basket or an Easter purse (couldn't tell from the road). She sometimes changes positions in the rock garden. My sister, Becky and I have wondered about her. We would love to know her story. Is she simply a "scarecrow lady" to frighten away some critters or is she in memory of a lost daughter? Anyone know her story?

hyperventilate? me?

Yes, I did hyperventilate this morning at 4:30 when our 10 foot long mirror fell from the wall. The crash was one of the loudest sounds you can imagine. The sound was so loud, that I actually thought our upstairs had crashed through the ceiling of our bathroom. After screaming, I jumped out of bed and flipped on the bathroom light to see this:
Then the strangest thing happened. I could not catch my breath. I was trying to scream and trying to breathe and couldn't do either one. Laura is my hero. She grabbed me and shoved me into a chair, ran into the kitchen and grabbed a bag and shoved it into my face and yelled at me, "Breathe, Mother!"

We have wanted to remove this wallpaper for quite some time and a few months ago, I asked the decorator (my friend, Cindy Davis-Davis Designs) for a quote for painting our bedroom and this bath . . .guess we will be doing it sooner rather than later! As always, Mark also came to the rescue. He rolled one of those giant garbage cans right into our bedroom and scooped up all that broken mirror. He then dragged the shop vac up the basement stairs and vacuumed everything. I wiped everything down with Windex and swiffered the floor. . .all before 5:30 a.m.!! Needless to say, we will all be going to bed early at our house tonight.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Lights! Camera! Action! I finally bought a new camera!!

I've been saving my money . . .a few dollars every payday because I wanted to buy a new camera. I've looked at Consumer Reports on cameras. I've asked everyone why they own certain cameras. I've used a Canon Rebel for years but it is getting harder and harder to get film developed into pictures. I also love the ability to load the pictures on the computer (immediately - I love instant gratification). I've been using Mark's little hunting camera which is a Nikon Coolpix and it is a great little camera. I could drop it into its camoflage case and drop it into my purse . . .but I wanted my own. AND I wanted a Canon like my trusty Canon. Yesterday I bought this!!

Friends and family - I apologize in advance. I've always loved to take your picture. I have a feeling that I'm going to be doing that much more often. I'm so excited - I'm like a kid with a new toy!!

Two yummy meals in one weekend!!

On Friday night, we met 4 other couples at the Pita Stop for dinner. I only have a picture of one couple . . but it is a good picture! Two of our very best friends in the world, Phella and Guy. We visited for several hours over wine and dinner. Mark had a seafood omelet and it was huge. Dona had a vegetarian omelet. Kim had a rack of lamb!! Several of us ordered chicken kabobs. This is the way they serve all of their kabobs and a few other things also. They have stacks and stacks of these Pyrex casserole dishes in their kitchen (you can see them on your way to the bathroom).
There is a Greek salad on the left complete with a cube of feta cheese. On the right end, there is wonderful rice. The little silver container on the backside holds hummus - the best in Birmingham in my opinion. They always have an orange slice, a couple of fresh pineapple triangles and a wedge of cantaloupe topped with a cherry. You can eat there in the middle of winter and the cantaloupe is delicious. Of course, there is some yummy pita bread. Across the top is the big skewer of chicken.
Tonight I cooked some of the veggies from the Farmer's Market. I never fry - ever . . .except once a year when we have some fresh okra. Mark and Laura will eat it boiled or pickled but I only like it fried. Marion Wilson is an older lady at church and she taught me how to fry it and it is soooo good. I stir fried some of the squash in olive oil with a little red bell pepper and mushrooms. I can't believe it but I didn't have a single onion in the house so I missed that in the squash. You can see my beautiful peas!! My goal this year has been to learn to eat cooked greens . . .so yes, there on the plate is a small serving of turnip greens. Definitely not the same kind of meal as last night, but equally delicious!

Penguin bag

Isn't this the funniest little backpack? Perfect size for toothbrush, toothpaste and deodorant!! I won't tell you who this belongs to . . .might embarass him.

Have I told you how much I like pink eye purple hull peas?

I should say that this was my first trip to the Farmer's Market this season . . .but I actually went last weekend . . .but they told me that they don't take checks anymore. I know this is crazy but I almost cried. I was ready to buy my bushel of peas and couldn't! I've written a lot of checks at the Farmer's Market over the years - I promise I'm good for it . . .but evidently everyone is not. So since I'm off on Fridays, I decided to try again. I went early Friday morning before the crowds. I love the Farmer's Market. I guess it is about a 25 minute drive from our house. It is located in a different part of town and several of our friends always say, "you go to the farmer's market . . .by yourself?" Yes, I love peas that much! But also, maybe I'm just naive but I'm not afraid. I actually feel pretty safe. I didn't buy any watermelons because Glenn brought us two more from Auburn - I think one weighs more than the last one . . . remember it weighed in at 44 pounds!! The watermelons just look so pretty stacked together.
I love the smell and the way everything looks. I love the old-timey scales where you can weigh your squash or beans. I love the bright colors.

After leaving the Farmer's Market, I stopped by Weight Watchers and weighed in for the week. I lost 1.6 pounds this week - have to stick with it . . .wedding is coming soon.
(how funny that there is a van in both the farmer's market picture and the WW picture - van driving folks must run lots of errands on Fridays when I do :-) I couldn't stay for the meeting because it was about 104 degrees outside and I wanted to get all this lusciousness home! I bought ten pounds of already shelled peas, lots of beautiful yellow squash, peaches, tomatoes and okra (which I called Okry when I was growing up - I had no idea it was okra until I was a young adult!!)First order of business was to get those peas in the freezer. I brought the water to a boil and dropped some in for 3 minutes. I had peas all over my kitchen :-)
The peas need to boil for three minutes in order to blanch them.
But you want the cooking process to stop immediately so you have to cool them rapidly - ice in the sink; ice on top of the peas.

Then I spread them out on clean paper towels on a cookie sheet to cool a little bit more. Aren't they pretty?

Then I put three cups in each bag. I had enough for 12 bags of peas for the freezer (except we ate one tonight!!) I forgot to tell you about cleaning the peas - you have to pick out any little pieces of shell or dirt or yucky peas (common sense I guess).

A pretty good day's work for my day off!!

Monday, July 19, 2010

You were born . . . long ago, long ago, long ago

On Sunday after church, we celebrated my mother-in-law's birthday. I'm not being disrespectful with the above title . . .I'll explain in a minute. I was able to use the plants from last Sunday's shower to create a new centerpiece. The addition of balloons made it a little more festive! Here I am cooking. We had a yummy lunch. I was cooking squash and corn on the cob and twice baked potato casserole. (Mark took this picture of me and I just realized once again that I have to stick with Weight Watchers!!!!)
Mark was in charge of the grill - cooking pork tenderloins.

Here is a picture of Susie (no, I don't call her that - I call her "grandmother" just like our kids do!) Isn't this a cute picture of her laughing?

Laura was our designated candle-lighter.

We purchased the caramel cake from Edgar's Bakery. She is such an excellent baker that we can't compete . . .so we have learned to order her favorite.

Here she is "making a wish" as she blows out the candles.

Yeah - her wish will come true!!

She received cards and gifts and surprises. Uncle John, her only living sibling, sent her the funniest card. It was one of those "singing" cards and when you opened it, the man sang, "You were born long ago, long ago, long ago." Every single one of us opened the card and listened to the song and laughed out loud.

I believe it was a successful birthday lunch! It was nice to cook for her - she cooks for us every single Sunday. We eat lunch at her house every week after church! I love how we sit around and tell the same old stories over and over and they get funnier and funnier over the years. Oh, and by the way, we don't "really" know how old she is - but we KNOW she looks and feels great for her age :-)

44 YUMMY pounds!!

Glenn bought a watermelon for us at a market in Auburn. He paid only $5.00 for this huge melon. We weighed it just because it seemed so very large. This watermelon weighed 44 pounds and it was delicious!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Wise thoughts

I follow the caringbridge sites for several children who have cancer. I had never even heard of a caringbridge site until I took on the job of publishing our church prayer list twice a week (several years ago now). This morning, I read something that I thought was so wise. This is written by the daddy of a little girl with cancer . . .who has major recurrence and so far, no treatment options left.
He said, "Our journey has brought us from the lowest of valleys to the highest of mountaintops. One of the analogies that I have used before and love is this. The reason there are shadows in the valleys is because the light is on the other side of the mountain. The reason some people feel they are surrounded by nothing but shadows is because they have stopped walking. Psalm 23 says "though I WALK through the valley". The lesson to be learned in the valley is to keep walking. Don't set up shop in the low place. It will only be low for a little while. The mountaintop will have new perspective, new lessons, and refreshing light. God has a way of teaching us in any situation we are in if we will only tune our ears to hear what He has to say."

What wise words from a wise daddy.

Several folks we know are walking in a valley right now. Sometimes Mark and I can walk with them and hold their hands. Sometimes we can't. But Mark and I aren't important - what is important is the fact that God is in the Valley and he is on the Mountaintop and HE is with us every step of the way. Friends - keep walking - don't stop in the low place.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Drill bits & vise grips & BBQ = Fun Tool Shower

I met my friend, Phella when she was pregnant with Michael and our twins (Glenn and Laura) were just six weeks old. We've been friends ever since then. Our boys have also been friends and have even roomed together during parts of their time at Auburn. Now both boys are getting married - I can't believe they aren't little boys anymore - they are men! Michael and Laura are getting married in August and we were honored to host a "Tool and Gadget Shower" for them yesterday. Here is the cute couple along with all of the hosts & hostesses. (I think they will have the cutest red headed kids!!). From the left front - Of course, Laura and Michael. Then Bonnie and Laura Mc and I'm sort of hidden behind Laura and Dona and Kim. Our hubbies are in the back - Scott (belongs to Bonnie); Mark behind me; Allen -hidden behind me (belongs to Laura Mc); Dave (belongs to Kim and Gary (belongs to Dona). We've been in a supper club with this group plus Guy & Phella (Michael's parents) for years!! I've written about all of them before - we are family!! Once again, all of my pictures are in a weird order. Michael & Laura opening gifts (which was actually at the end of the party!)
A cute picture of Kim and Laura. Such sweet friends!

I think we had 40 (ish) people - for a lunch of BBQ, baked beans, potato salad, cornbread, chips & dip, watermelon and desserts. We removed our sofa (put it in the basement for the weekend) and I borrowed two big round tables from someone. David and Tina and Laura and Glenn and Lauren and Debbie were at this table. (Centerpieces on the two round tables were caladiums in galvanized pots and I wired inexpensive tools to flower picks and placed them in the dirt. There was shredded red paper around the base of the pot and I sprinkled nuts and bolts and washers around the table - I am describing all of this because I searched high and low for examples of centerpieces for tool showers and couldn't find anything!!!)

Let's see - Our daughter, Laura is on the left, then Lauren (our future daughter-in-law) is next (and no, you aren't confused - the bride for the shower is also Laura and then there is Laura Mc - one of the hostesses and what makes the whole thing even crazier is that our daughter, Laura was in a wedding on Saturday night - that groom's name was Michael and his bride, Lauren!!! - isn't all of that crazy?) - okay back to the folks in the picture - Glenn and Kaylor and Porter and Kevin. Glenn and Kaylor (son of Laura and Allen) and Michael have been friends for years. They have all roomed together at various times while living in Auburn.
This is the centerpiece in the dining room. I started with a Craftsman toolbox. I placed a small white tablecloth (which was folded into a triangle) into the box. Then I used three plants - an autumn fern, ivy and a Bromeliad for color! I used various things from my kitchen to build up the height of the plants (tucked under the white cloth). More screws and nuts and bolts and washers were sprinkled around like confetti and I placed a Stanley hammer, measuring tape and screwdriver on each end of the table.
We used a picnic theme for the food and plates and tablecloths. Bonnie and Scott did a great job tying the raffia around the napkins and "silverware." We used a picnic basket as the holder for the plates and "silverware." There is a red check cloth folded and draped over the basket and the "silverware" is stuffed into cute red buckets.

Here is a close-up photo of one of the toolbox centerpieces. I found the levels at The Dollar Tree. I wired them to a floral pick and placed in the dirt. I also found some paint scrapers and screwdrivers and wire snips and paintbrushes and wired those into the plants also. That splash of blue and red color is rope - seemed like a good thing to put in a toolbox. You can see a few of the washers sprinkled on the cloth.

I loved our wheelbarrow full of coke and diet coke. We found the ones in the little glass bottles. Now this is going to sound crazy, but the cokes were Alabama cokes - they had little Crimson Tide circles on each one. Michael (the groom) is a DEVOUT Auburn fan. The state of Alabama has a fierce football competition between the University of Alabama and Auburn University. I knew that I couldn't serve cokes with those Crimson Tide circles . . .so I found Auburn stickers and covered over each circle on each bottle. Since it was a tool and gadget shower, I added the plastic rakes and shovels to the wheelbarrow. It was appropriate to serve these on the back deck but it was about a million degrees outside and the ice was melting quickly!!

Here is a close-up of the centerpiece on the dining room table.

What a wonderful day to spend with friends and family!! May God richly bless Michael and Laura as they are married next month - may they be surrounded by wonderful Christian friends forever!!