Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The difference in men and women . . .and how they spend birthday money

Men and women are just different.  In lots of ways.  Some that are obvious.  Some that we won't discuss.  I think men and women are different in the way they shop.  Mark hates to shop.  He detests shopping for clothes or gifts.  I think he enjoys shopping at Bass Pro Shop for toys.  For his birthday, he received a check from his momma . . . and I gave him two gift cards to Bass Pro Shop.  On Saturday, he came in from working in the yard and got dressed and said, "I'm going shopping."  Imagine my jaw dropping to the floor!!!  He was gone for quite a while and when he returned, he had purchased something he had been wanting for a long time.

Mark bought a white river fly fishing rod and an Orvis reel.
I don't know about you, but when I purchase a new toy - some scrapbooking materials or some new fabric, I come home and begin to "play" with my purchase.  Mark did the very same thing.  I realized he wasn't in the house . . .and I walked out on the deck and found him backyard fishing again.
He was enjoying his new purchase!!

Look at his determination and concentration!!

Monday, August 29, 2011

The church with the red door

We were sitting in our living room on Friday night and Mark said, "I want to go to the Pita Stop." I said, "let's go tomorrow night." I sent a text message to Dona and asked if she and Gary wanted to meet us. Her response was, "sounds like a plan."

The Pita Stop is a restaurant that is practically on the UAB campus. They have the best hummus in town. They have shrimp kabobs that are to die for. They serve them in a giant Pyrex dish with fresh fruit and Greek salad and hummus and pita bread. Really yummy!!

Cute picture of Dona . . .the guys are already chatting and we can't seem to move from the sidewalk.  You can't see in the window behind Dona . . .but if you could, you would see a conference room table with a "dead as a doornail" cactus on the table.  I believe that the office was the office of a corrupt politician . . .who has been "put away" for a while.  This is an excerpt from the article in the newspaper a couple of years ago:  accused of using a local charity's coffers as his own "personal piggy bank,"So and so was led away in handcuffs by two deputy U.S. marshals after a federal jury in Birmingham found him guilty Wednesday of 97 counts of mail and wire fraud."  I think he is in jail for about 20 years . . .it looks like no one has been in his conference room since he was sentenced back in 2009.  I've never seen a plant quite as dead!!  (this had nothing at all to do with this post . . .)

There is a church across the street that I love. I've never been inside but I love the red door!!! As we were leaving home, I grabbed my camera so I could practice a little.

The church looks really small from the outside. I'm not even sure of the denomination . . .maybe Episcopal? I think it would be neat to say, "I go to the church with the red doors."  (just looked up info about the church on google - it is indeed Episcopal - St. Andrew's Episcopal . . .here is a statement from their webpage - made me laugh!! - "We are a liturgical, high church (smells and bells!)" -- I had heard that said about a church before but never heard a church say it about themselves!!)

We really have some beautiful old buildings around town but I've lived here for my whole life and so often, I just don't even think to "look."  One of our young adults moved here from another state and he is always going to our tourist attractions . . .and I always realize that I've never been to that attraction before.  I've been trying to look around with new eyes!!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

A brilliant idea . . .if I do say so!!

First of all, I'm not sure if these "rolls" are carried all over the country or just in the south. These are Sister Schubert's blueberry rolls and Sister Schubert is actually from Alabama! She made rolls for an event at her church and then started making more and more rolls and now she is famous!!

We just finished a study of the seven deadly sins in our Sunday School class and we have a guest speaker next Sunday so I needed a "stand alone" kind of lesson for today. Years ago, we played Bible trivia one Sunday and it was quite funny. I decided it was time to do that again. So I decided I had better feed folks, too! We stopped at the Pig in Bluff Park last night on the way home from dinner and purchased three pans of Sister Schubert's rolls - one pan of blueberry and two pans of "pigs" (little sausages inside a roll). I got up this morning and popped them into the oven while I was getting ready for church. We leave home around 8:00 a.m. and church starts at 8:45 and then Sunday School is at 10:00. Everytime we have taken food, I find it so hard to keep the food warm. I've used my pyrex carriers with the heated pads but I needed some way to transport three pans.

I had a brilliant idea.  The moment that I removed each pan of rolls from the oven, I quickly wrapped the pan securely with foil.  Then I slid the first pan down into the bottom of my crockpot.  Perfect fit!!  I wrapped the other two pans tightly in foil and slipped them on top.  I put the blueberry ones on top since they have icing and I didn't want the weight of two pans of "pigs" on top smushing the icing to the foil.

Look at that - three pans of rolls - perfect fit!!
I popped the top on the crockpot and Mark carried it to the car.  When we got to the church, we plugged the crockpot in and turned it on low.  After church, I removed the first pan and it burned my fingers!!!  Perfect!!  They were as hot as if they had just been removed from the oven.  I actually chuckled to myself thinking of how many times I've carried Sister Schubert's rolls and tried to keep them warm . . . and it was as simple as one, two, three!!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Preachers? Celebrate life? Yes!!

Just in case you haven't noticed or for some reason you don't know this about me . . .I love a party. I love a celebration. I love to laugh. I love to eat. We were talking at work the other day and felt like we needed to celebrate something (which of course, is actually just an excuse to take a longer lunch break and eat some good food - hee hee). I said that I would send out an email to all the staff and as I was typing the email, I realized that three of our preachers had a birthday in August (or maybe even four of them). One of our preachers just finished all her treatments for breast cancer and is cancer free!! One of our preachers just returned from three weeks out of the country. Those all sound like reasons to celebrate to me!! So we planned a celebration.

Our celebration was held in the Holy Grounds Cafe area which is in our youth building. It is just the right size for all of us to gather and we have an ice machine and serving tables, etc.  The Dollar Tree has the best deal on balloons and I pre-ordered 15 smiley face balloons - they just scream celebration, don't they?  When I stopped on the way to work to pick up those balloons, they also had some that said, "Today is your day" or something like that so I bought one for each of the ministers.
Let's see . . .who is waiting in line for the food?  That is Haley on the left.  She is our Communications Coordinator and she does such an awesome job.  Haley is talking to Jeanne (our Assistant Children's Director) whose baby is due in about six weeks (I think we might need to celebrate again!!) and Karen, who is also pregnant (she is our director of lay involvement).  Ann is next.  Ann is my "boss" and she is also the business administrator.

Here are three of our ministers - from the back.  I was having a hard time getting photos of folks.  Suzanne is on the left - she still has on her wig in this picture but this week has been coming to work wigless and she looks so cute.  She has little short dark hair all over her head.  We are so very happy that she is cancer free.  She is an amazing minister with a heart of gold . . .and more importantly, a heart for God!!   Drew is in the middle - his birthday is in August and if you check out a previous post, you can see him at my house celebrating with Mark.  Drew is our minister over evanglism and young adults.  I work directly with Drew and am enjoying getting to know him better and better.  Our church is his first major appointment out of seminary and I think we are doing a good job of teaching him about ministry in a large church.  Listen to me saying "we are doing a good job" - but in reality I guess that is true!!  On the right is Bobby and I do believe his birthday is this coming Monday!!  Bobby is our minister of visitation.  He calls and visits all of our shut-ins and those who live in retirment homes and nursing homes.  He is only in the office about three days a week but all of those folks really love him.  He brightens many days for many folks!!  His wife's name is Twink and I think that is the cutest name ever.  She is just as cute and matches her name well!!
Here is Mack. He is our minister of administration (or something like that - I should know since I work there!!) He is over our maintenance crew and our kitchen among other things. He and Bobby are both retired United Methodist ministers who are serving part time on our staff. Here is a picture of the front of Suzanne. Isn't she beautiful? God's light just shines through her in amazing ways!!
Our maintenance crew was all over in one corner. That is David sitting in the back and Fred toward the front. Fred is in charge of all of the maintenance operations at Trinity. He recently repaired my air conditioner in my office and has made me a much happier middle-aged woman. Some folks think that you could hang meat in my office now because it is so cold . . .but I'm LOVING it!  David is sitting up on a platform so that is why he looks so much higher/taller than Fred.
You know I couldn't write a post about a celebration with talking about the food. We ordered our BBQ from Moe's BBQ and it was delicious. A church member is part owner and we do love to support our church members. I made oriental brocoli slaw and Ann brought baked beans and two different folks brought potato salad. We  had (and ate!!) the biggest platter of deviled eggs you have ever seen!!  We also had chips and dip and desserts. The food was yummy and I had fun taking this photograph. I told several folks yesterday that I would love to be a food photographer.

So far, this post has been all about the celebration and just some "fun facts to know and tell" about our staff. I also just want to say that I think our church is such a wonderful place to worship God and to serve in His name and to grow in His grace. Not only can I say those things as a long time member, but I can say them as a staff member also. We offer something for every age and stage of life. I truly cannot imagine my life without my church family. Back when our kids were small, Mark was offered a job opportunity out of town. After much prayer and thought, we actually turned it down because we could not imagine leaving our church family. This middle-aged mom loves God and loves her church and her church family and even loves her job working in that same church!!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

let the celebrations begin!!

Mark's birthday was on Sunday . . .but we started celebrating last Tuesday. I made a huge cake for our Tuesday night group. I had the 'bright' idea to make two chocolate layers and two yellow layers because we were going to celebrate not only Mark's birthday but Drew's birthday also.  Mark loves chocolate and Drew loves yellow/white cake.  I used two 9" pans and two 8" pans . . ."thinking" that it would make this really cool cake.  My mother-in-law has since informed me that there needs to be several inches difference in the pan . . .I had already figured that one out!!  I made a 9" chocolate and a 9" yellow and repeated in the 8 inch pans.  So this cake was actually two whole cakes.  I layered them and put cream cheese frosting in between the layers.  It was one of the ugliest cakes I have ever made yet I was strangely proud of the cake!!

We needed balloons for our celebration. I love balloons!!

We also needed lots of candles!!
I had to convince our birthday boys that they did indeed need to blow out the candles!!
This cake might have been the ugliest cake ever but it was evidently delicious because our group ate the entire cake!!!
Our celebrations continued throughout the week. On Thursday night, we had reservations at Hot and Hot Fish Club. We had never eaten there before but had heard wonderful things about the restaurant. We even took Mark's momma to celebrate with us. The restaurant is known for their tomato salad. It is made with three slices of heirloom tomatoes and a wonderful aioli and black eye peas and corn and fried okra. Sounds like a weird conversation but oh my goodness, it is wonderful. I wanted to take some photos but I only had my big camera and I thought it would be obnoxious. For our entree, I had a fillet that was to do for!! The sauce was spectacular. Mark had duck and stone ground grits and figs. He said that it was the best meal he had ever eaten in a restaurant. Mark's momma had red snapper. On Friday night, I cooked a wonderful meal of fresh veggies that I purchased at the local farmer's market. We had stir fried squash and zucchini and I cooked boiled okra for Mark (no, I do not eat okra cooked that way!!). Mark said that he didn't want me to make another dessert so I bought coconut Popsicle for him. We continued the celebration into the weekend . . .but I left my camera at my mother-in-law's house so that post will have to wait!!

Monday, August 22, 2011

two new yummy recipes!!

I've made two new recipes this month . . . and both are "party foods." My friend, Kristi, shared this recipe with me. Her husband is the salsa maker at their house. Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman, made up the recipe. Then Kristi's husband made it. Kristi doesn't make anything with more than five ingredients. Right???? She told me about the recipe and I stopped and bought the ingredients on the way home. I, too, love cilantro so I added a lot . . .and I loved it . . .but those who don't like cilantro thought it was yucky! Can you believe it? Here is my bowl of salsa at supper club . . .here is the link for Ree's recipe (I feel like I know her so surely I can call her by her first name.) Maybe some day I'll figure out how to type, "see the recipe HERE" and you can click on here and go straight to the link but for now this will have to do:

I also cut a recipe out of the local newspaper. I think the name of the recipe is savory pull apart . . .or something like that. It is incredible. I made it for the teacher's snackroom during VBS and they told me it was good. I made it for our supper club and oh my goodness, it is so good.

You buy a loaf of sour dough bread. The recipe seems to work best if you can find a round loaf that is sort of tall. Use a good bread knife and make "slices" about every inch or so but don't cut through the bottom crust. After cutting in one direction, make slices across the bread in the other direction. Place thinly sliced sharp cheddar cheese in each of the "cuts" going both directions. Use a good cheese - don't buy plain old singles. Then open a 3 ounce package of "real" bacon bits (not the fake ones) and sprinkle in all of the "cuts" - pulling them gently apart as necessary. Now melt a stick of butter (use the real thing) and add one tablespoon of dry ranch salad dressing mix. Pour slowly over the top so that the butter runs down in those same "cuts." Wrap tightly in foil and heat in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 25 minutes. Serve on a tray and "pull apart" each piece. Our group of 10 ate a whole one . . and loved it!!!!!!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Dreaming . . .and coveting????

If you know me, you know that I love to cook and entertain. I have a functional kitchen but I would love a HUGE kitchen with an island and granite countertops and one of these stoves . . .in red!! Isn't it wonderful? My stove would match my mixer!!  Look at the picture - they even have a dutch oven . . .and it is red!!

I found the picture with the red stove on pinterest . . .so it is a "dreaming" picture . ..but look at this picture.  This is my friend, Kim's, new kitchen.  Isn't it beautiful?  She has the stove . . .but it is not red!!  When I see the picture from pinterest, I dream.  Seeing this kitchen in real life makes me covet . . .which is a dadgum sin!  I'm actually thrilled for Kim - so glad that she has this dream kitchen (see more pics below) but I want one, too!!  I could just blow the back off my house and gut my kitchen and make it bigger and better and I could make the family room larger and on top of all that, we could add a bathroom upstairs for Becky!!  Did you see how quickly I switched from coveting to dreaming????
Look at the island . .. it is 12 feet long . . .ahhhh!  I can seat 20 at my kitchen table and dining room table.  Imagine (I'm dreaming!) if I had this kitchen and family room.  I love dreaming!  It is kind of fun!!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

remember those grocery sacks full of groceries?

Dinner on a Tuesday night includes dessert . . .of course, we start with the best part first! Some nights, Mark eats only dessert because he loves his sweets so much!!  This dessert was incredible.  One was blueberry cobbler and the reason it looks like it does  . . .it decided to slide and leak in my car . . .blueberries and juice . . .on the seat . . .in the crack of the seat . . .in the floorboard behind the seat . ..but enough was left in the pan for some yumminess.  Angela made the cobblers - one blueberry and one cherry.  This was a different recipe.  The "crust" tasted like sugar cookie dough.  I emailed and asked for the recipe.  You will never guess the main ingredient in the crust in a million years.  I will tell you that it was delicious.  Oh - you want to know about the crust?  It is white bread.  Yes, you read that correctly.  This crust is made of white loaf bread and it is wonderful.  Just white bread?  No, of course not.  White bread and an unbelievable amount of sugar and some butter.  Lots of sugar and butter.

We serve buffet style every week - right from the pots on the stove and from platters and bowls on the counter. I realize that this is not the prettiest way to serve but it is the easiest.  Our menu included grilled chicken, fresh purple hull peas and a mashed potato casserole that will make you slap yo' mama! We always have salad and rolls (with most meals).

Mark was (and always is!) our grillmaster for the evening (and he always does a great job!) To grill chicken breasts for 20-30 people requires two grills. He had this many on the gas grill.
And  he had this many on the charcoal grill.  Our friends, Hayden and Jan, moved out of town and left their grill in our basement . . .sure has come in handy!!
Now you know why my grocery cart was so full of groceries!!  If we cook at home, we can feed everyone for $125 or so a week.  If we order out, it is more like $200.  We usually cook because most of these young adults can order in or eat in a restaurant any time and so they really appreciate a home-cooked meal and also because we want to be good stewards.  We sure do love hanging out with these young adults every Tuesday night and this middle-aged momma loves feeding them.  There is just something so satisfying about cooking a meal and having folks eat the food and enjoy the meal.

Monday, August 15, 2011

If you don't stop making me laugh, I'm going to wet my pants!!

I've been out of high school for 35 years - how could that be possible?  Surely it has not been that long!!  Inside I still feel young . . .but goodness gracious, how could it have been 35 years ago?  (since the title of my blog is "musings of a middle-aged mom" . . .guess that is a clue that it has indeed been that long!!)  Our class had a 10 year reunion back in 1986 and I was very pregnant with twins and we had a 15 year reunion and I attended that one - actually helped plan it.  On Saturday night, there was a multi-class reunion and I decided to attend.  I actually didn't mail my money until the day after the deadline because I just couldn't decide whether I wanted to go or not.  I was smart . . .I emailed and sent facebook messages to two friends and said, "I'll go if y'all will go . . and let's not take husbands."  Smart choice!!  I hate to go to those things by myself and I didn't want to make Mark go - to me, that kind of social setting is so awkward because you want to talk to your old friends but you can't leave your spouse just sitting there!  (actually, there were a lot of spouses sitting at the tables by themselves!!) I drove to Kaye's house and we all rode together.  I think my driving probably scared them half to death . . .and I'm usually a good driver.

Within moments of entering the lobby, our friend Ann arrived.  Ann and Kaye and Faye and I all went to church and school together.  We also "caught up" with one of our teachers - she taught us all how to type!!

We had several other class members who were present that night but they had slipped out the door before we had our class picture taken.  You have to understand that it was 10 p.m. when they started the pictures . . .and well, some of us are old. 

Here we all are milling around waiting on our orders from the photographer and we were still trying to locate a few other class members in the crowded "party room."

I don't know what I'm telling Ann back there but I sure am talking - are you surprised?

Who knows what Faye and I were laughing about but we laughed all night.  You can see the tears in Faye's eyes and the "sweat" (or should that be "glow") on my brow - that is what happens when you are our age.  Faye even brought a fan in her purse.

The food was actually good but they gave us the tiniest plates I have ever seen. They were cute little clear six inch rectangle plates. I put three tortilla chips on my plate and those three chips covered half the plate. It was probably a really good thing because that way I didn't overeat!!

The music was good - we had a couple (or maybe three?) live bands.  Terry is the lead singer in one of the bands and he was diagnosed with cancer four years ago and this was his first time to be back with them.  He sounded amazing.  Ray is a member in one of the other bands and I grew up spending so much time at his family's house.  They were all good.

It was amazing to me - though I don't know why it was amazing . . .the folks who were warm and friendly in high school, were the same warm and friendly folks 35 years later.  Then there are those who weren't warm and friendly 35 years ago . . .and I'll let you fill in the blank.

Some of us had a hard time remembering folks.  Yes, we had on nametags but they should have printed them in a HUGE font :-)  I think that one of the younger classes printed the nametags . . .they must not need reading glasses yet!!  One person came up to Kaye and said, "do you remember me?"  Kaye stood there for a second and then said, "remind me!"  I just kept saying that there sure were a lot of "strangers" in the room (and there were since it was a multi-class reunion).  Kaye and Faye are identical twins and Kaye was talking to one old friend who called her by name.  She said, "how did you know which one I am?"  He replied, "I read your nametag."  Now I know these aren't that funny to a reader . . .but I want to remember . . .and if I don't write it down I'll forget.  I'm laughing as I type these words!!

Toward the end of the evening, several of us started laughing (again!!) and we were trying to talk over the band and we laughed harder and harder because we couldn't understand each other. You know that you are either hanging out with young pregnant women (which we aren't) or middle-aged women when someone says, "stop making me laugh - I'm going to wet my pants!!"

It was a good night with good friends and lots of laughter!!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

no wonder my back hurts on Friday night!

Does anyone else fill up a grocery cart like I do? Look at that! All of the sacks wouldn't fit back in the cart so I tied them onto the handle. The young man who was my "checker" was amazed at my ingenuity.
Since we feed all of those young adults on Tuesday nights, my cart is always full . . .and for a middle-aged momma that is actually a nice feeling. I love feeding people.
I did actually have a couple of extra things this week - a couple of big Rubbermaid (or some other brand?) tubs but that worked out just fine because I stacked lots of groceries into the tubs.

This is a random silly post and for that I apologize but I was looking through my most recent pictures and saw these!!

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Seven Deadly Sins

Did you know that I belong the a United Methodist Church? Well, I do . . .and our Bishop for the North Alabama Conference is Will Willimon. We have been studying one of his books.

We've talked about pride and envy and anger and we've talked about sloth and greed. All of those have been fairly interesting but yesterday's lesson was about Gluttony. I started the lesson by telling the class that I was much more qualified to teach the lesson than the bishop because gluttony is a sin that I commit every day. It was actually a very hard lesson for me to teach . . .standing in front of that group of folks who could look at me and see how overweight I am . . .but I firmly believe that God uses me and speaks through me and I think that is the only way that I was able to talk about gluttony. To be honest, when I first read the lesson, I wanted to cry. I also must admit that I haven't exhibited any gluttonous eating since I read the chapter.

The Bishop pointed out some interesting things about gluttony. He said that it is not just overeating. Gluttony also encompasses anorexia and bulimia because of the focus on food. Too much focus on anything can be gluttony. Too much tv. Too much entertainment. Too much alcohol. Too much spending. He said that little word, "too" is the difference. In gluttony, it is the excessiveness that is the sin – excessive consumption of A.L.L. things as well as excessive attentiveness to food.

The true face of the sin of gluttony is that we can desire something more than we desire God. Food and entertainment become more valuable and more important to us than spending time with God. According to Willimon, most Christians spend seven times more time on entertainment than they do in reading the Bible and attending church. I'm actually surprised that number is not higher.

The list of seven deadly sins was composed a long, long time ago. But our culture has shaped how we think of overweight individuals today. Willimon says this, "“For most of us, the repulsive thing that gets us about Gluttony is not the sin but the fat, that blobulous bane of middle-aged existence, that to which Americans are succumbing in alarming numbers. Gluttony is an outrage against our ideal body image, not infidelity against God. For most of us, the “sin” in Gluttony is in the resulting ugliness and possibly ill health, but mostly ugliness. Little there is in the Christian faith that makes ugliness a matter of sin."

My friend, Amy posted a picture on facebook the other day. One picture showed the organs of a woman at an ideal weight. The other picture showed the organs of an overweight woman. It was not a pretty picture. Gluttony - the food kind - is not a good thing. Don't you hate it when you teach some sort of lesson and the lesson is just for you? That is how I feel about this lesson and seeing that picture on facebook.   But even more importantly, I must admit that the lesson helped me in lots of ways . . .to see that Gluttony is much more than just overeating.

Here is the picture of the overweight person . . .not a pretty picture.

This middle-aged overweight momma has a lot to think about . . . .

Saturday, August 6, 2011


Last year I received a gift from my friend, Lynn. It was an unusual gift (which I love!). She gave a jar of these to me!

I am actually trying to remember if she brought me the jar of these first or if she brought it to my house as an appetizer and then my family had such a fit over the deliciousness of the appetizer, that she then brought me my own jar. (that was a horrible sentence but it is too early on a Saturday morning to correct it!)

The appetizer is simple. Open an 8 ounce package of cream cheese. Pour about half this jar over the top (I like to chop them up a little). Serve with crackers or chips. Mark and Laura (and I think Becky and Matt, too - when they were visiting) have been known to just get a little cream cheese and put it on a plate and put some jalapenos on top and have their OWN personal appetizer. The recipe is simple. The problem is that you can only purchase these candied jalapenos in Texas . . . .at only certain Buc-ee's stores.  (what is buc-ee's, you ask?  This is from their website:  Buc-ee’s is the theme park of gas stations — not just for its size but because there’s something for everyone, and you’ll all leave happy.  Another person wrote on their website that Buc-ee's is the Oz of gas stations.  You can obviously fill up your gas tank, buy food, buy souvenirs, buy clothing, get your car washed and buy candied jalapenos all in one location - why have I never been to a Buc-ee's?)

My friend Lynn just went to Texas . . .and she brought two jars to me. We are set for a while. My family will be happy. Thanks Lynn. (yes - my sister, Becky lives in Texas and lives near a Buc-ee's . . .her store doesn't carry them - you have to go to a BIGGER Buc-ee's . . . she is going to have to come and visit us in Alabama to get some :-)