Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Wednesday HodgePodge

Answer the questions and link up -- 
Have you ever had to wear a uniform? If yes, tell us more. Did you love it or hate it?
Let’s see . . .we ordered Trinity shirts a few years ago and we were going to wear those to work . . . didn’t really catch on.  The last time that I remember wearing a uniform was in middle and high school PE – Lord, have mercy – that sure does date me.  I hated those uniforms.  Of course, I DO NOT have a picture of me in one of those uniforms but I found a picture of one online for your enjoyment!! 

April 22nd is Earth Day. What is one thing you do personally to be a good steward of planet Earth.
I don’t litter!  We have a Parkway that runs beside/into/out of our neighborhood.  There are hiking trails all around and every weekend, people just throw out their bottles and paper all over the parkway.  Why, oh why, would you litter?  I just don’t get it.  I should do a lot more to be a good steward of our earth.

Brown rice, quinoa, or couscous...your healthy grain of choice? How often are one of the three on your menu at home? Given a choice between white rice, brown rice, wild rice, and fried rice which would you go for?
I normally LOVE couscous but several months ago, I made my favorite concoction – box of couscous cooked in chicken broth, add a can of rotel and a can of drained and rinsed black beans – heat through and top with grated cheese.   I had some weird stomach thing during the night and threw up (I HATE to throw up!!!!!!).  I haven’t wanted couscous since then!!!  I like brown rice.  I want to try quinoa but haven’t yet.  I love fried rice from the local Chinese restaurant!  I also like white, brown and wild.  My favorite way to cook rice is to melt a little butter in a skillet.  Add the correct amount of long cooking rice and some chopped onion.  Stir continuously and let the onion and rice brown (it will BURN in a hurry – do not walk away – can you tell I’ve done this???)  Add beef broth or chicken broth (depending on the main course) instead of water.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and cook for the allotted time.  When you brown the rice, it brings out this wonderful nutty flavor!!

In your opinion, who has the best job ever?
That is a very interesting question.  I almost typed, “I do!”  Maybe that is my answer.  I get to work in a wonderful environment with mostly great folks.  I get to laugh a lot and I get to help people know Jesus.  I know you might wonder how I could do that in my role as “just” an assistant . . .but I talk to all sorts of people every day.

What's a situation in your life currently requiring patience?
see #4 . . .I talk to all sorts of people every day.  Need I say more?

Do you live your life around the days of the week?
pretty much!  We host a large group of young professionals in our house on Tuesday night and I teach/facilitate a large adult Sunday School class.  I keep a running list of things to do.  Saturday mornings are final prep on the Sunday School lesson.  I usually spend several hours on the lesson.  Saturday afternoons are for grocery buying.  Sunday mornings belong to Trinity UMC.  Sunday afternoons, I prep food for Tuesday nights and I preview the DVD for Tuesday night study and prepare the questions and agenda.  Monday night and Tuesday afternoon – cook, etc. for Tuesday nights.  Wednesday, I work at the office and then crash when I get home.  Starting on Thursday, I start gearing up again for Sunday.

In a nod to the A to Z challenge happening around town this month, what 'R word' best describes your April?
Restorative?  Reflective? Hearing Jen Hatmaker was wonderful and I am still pondering her words.  Brian and Nathan’s sermon series on Taboo topics has been excellent.  I started to type RAINY because it seems like the old saying, “April showers bring May flowers” has been spot on.  I must admit that I googled adjectives that begin with R.  There is a website with the name  I just found it.  Can you believe it?  How about rascally? Or rapturous? Or how about repulsive?  Hahahahaha.  There is a lady that attends our church and she always had a saying for every month – like audaciously awesome April.  She would breeze through the office (now I’m laughing about the breeze part – she always wore so much perfume that we could smell her when she entered the building on another floor – I AM NOT KIDDING) and take care of her business and as she was leaving, she would turn around and say, “have an . . . insert words that begin with an A – admirable, perhaps? Or adorable. . .April.”

Insert your own random thought here. 

My oldest sister, Glenine, has experienced a great loss in the last week.  Her husband of 51 years died.  He had been suffering from dementia and other illnesses and had been living in a nursing home for over a year.  They’ve decided to wait several weeks before having a memorial service.  She lives about an hour away and I’ve mailed things and ordered food from  I haven’t been to see her yet and I’m going to go right after Sunday School on Sunday.  Our study last night was a continuation of ASK IT by Andy Stanley.  He talked about our time and about how small deposits of time add up over the years.  I’m going to ask her on Sunday if she would like to meet for lunch once a month.  We can spend a couple of hours together once a month and make those small deposits of time add up.  I hope she will agree.  We haven’t lived in the same city in many years and there is a 13 year difference in our ages.  She was already married and out of the house by the time I was 5 so we haven’t spent much time together over the years.  I work full time now and she is retired.  I was raising twins while she was working full time. (her two children and I are closer in age than she and I are – she has a granddaughter who is only 6 months older than my children).  Andy Stanley’s words last night hit many of us squarely between the eyes.  How are we spending our time?  Are we spending it wisely?  His question is “In light of your past experiences, your current circumstances, and your future hopes and dreams, what is the WISE thing for you to do – with your time?”  There have been times in the past where I just couldn’t spend my time with her, my current circumstances include a full time job and many other responsibilities . . .my future hopes and dreams include no regrets.  The WISE thing to do would be to try to schedule a time together each month.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Gingerbread with lemon sauce

Over the years, I have eaten many things as an Elliott that I never had as a Walls.  My mama was a good cook and made homemade desserts,etc. so I wasn't deprived by any means!!  It may be that my momma died when I was so young that I just don't remember.  I'm pretty sure she (nor my granny) ever made this dessert.  I LOVE it and so does Mark.  I can actually still remember the first time that Mark's mother served it.  I LOVE the taste of fresh lemons, but don't really like lemonade all that much.  Is that weird?  When I was pregnant, I threw up lemonade and haven't liked it much since then!  (yes, I realize it has been almost 29 years - I just can't get over it!!)

The gingerbread part is two boxes of gingerbread mix.  I didn't know my wonderful mother-in-law ever used a boxed mix for anything!  She said you can't make homemade any better than this.  To the two boxes of mix add all ingredients listed on the recipe on the box (you know like eggs, etc.).  Also, you need to add a heaping cup of raisins and a heaping cup of chopped pecans.  Bake as directed.

The next part of the recipe is absolute deliciousness.  Look at my handy dandy lemon juicer.  I told my sister that the only one I could find in the store was plastic.  She found one at an antique store and bought it for me and brought it from Texas!!

I bought an entire giant bag of lemons at Costco.  They were full of juice.  Imagine the smell in my kitchen.  Heavenly.  I wasn't kidding - I love fresh lemons.

Here is the recipe for Lemon Sauce - by Susie Elliott via the joy of cooking.  I'll type the original recipe and put our changes out beside it.  Just fyi - we cut the gingerbread into generous squares.  Place the square of gingerbread into a BOWL and ladle on the lemon sauce - the more the better.

Lemon Sauce
1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar (we use 2 cups)
1 T cornstarch (we use 1/4 cup)
1 cup water (3-4 cups - start with 3)

Combine these three ingredients and stir constantly over a low flame until thickened.  In about 5 minutes, remove the sauce from the fire.  Stir in:
2 to 3 T butter (we use 1 stick)
1/2 t grated lemon rind (we use at least 2 teaspoons - make sure you don't get down into the white part - bitter)
1 1/2 T lemon juice (we use 6 Tablespoons or more) - don't buy bottled - use real lemons!!
1/8 t salt (maybe a tad more)

Serve warm sauce over gingerbread.  Put the extra in a gravy boat to pass around the table.  Enjoy!! (Mark thought this lemon sauce would make a great mixer for bourbon - just fyi - it didn't work!)

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Hodge Podge Wednesday

Linking up today – Hodge Podge Wednesday – I have no clue why I enjoy these questions so much, but I do!

Speaking of April 15...what's the most 'taxing' thing you've done recently? 
The last 12 + months have actually been somewhat taxing. Let’s see . . .One of my closest friends (actually family member) died in February. I got a “promotion” at work . . .but the person whom I replaced died . ..and we miss her every day. I was only able to train with her for a few hours so EVERYTHING has been new to me this year. I’ve worked with not one but two senior ministers since June of last year (lucky for me, they are both great!). Right in the middle of all of that, we put our house on the market. It sold within the first week. We put a contract on a house and someone beat us out of that one. We found a brand new house and bought it and moved 22 years of stuff (Salvation Army received a bounty of goods from us!!). 

When did you last take a taxi somewhere and where was that somewhere? 
I think the last time I rode in a taxi was when I was a child. My mom didn't drive (never got her driver’s license!) and I think we took a taxi to the doctor a few times. We usually walked to the bus stop (3 blocks away) and rode the bus. I may have ridden in a taxi back in my first career days with AT&T when I traveled some. 

What's something you can do today that you couldn't do a year ago? 
I can talk to brides without hyperventilating! I didn’t really hyperventilate but when I took over this job, I found out that ONE of my job duties is to schedule weddings. I have to book them on the church calendar, get the marriage license from the couple, collect the fees, etc. I’m a tad more comfortable taking care of wedding business today than I was a year ago. 

How often is chicken (in some form or fashion) on your menu at home? Which of the following would you most like to see on your table tonight....a chicken salad sandwich, your mom's fried chicken, a Chick-fil-A meal, Cracker Barrel's chicken n' dumplings, a roast chicken dinner with all the trimmings, or 'hold the chicken, I'm a vegetarian'...? 
We eat a lot of chicken. Right now, a Chick-fil-A meal sounds really good . . .though roast chicken and mashed potatoes sounds pretty yummy, too!! 

What was your favorite television program when you were a kid? What characters do you remember the most? 
hmmm. . .I watched Dark Shadows every day after school. Now I can’t watch ANYTHING with a vampire in it. I have nightmares about Vampires!! I also remember watching Marcus Welby, MD and Gilligan’s Island and ... oh, I loved Petticoat Junction. I wanted to live there in the hotel with them. My sister found a DVD set of Petticoat Junction a few years ago and gave it to me for Christmas! 

What was the last piece of 'art' you made? 
I am ALWAYS crafting. Right now, I’m working on banners, etc. for a baby shower that I’m hosting on the 25th. I’ve made several other baby shower banners lately and I made invitations for the baby shower. Just this morning, I painted the polka dots onto a big E for the front door.  In 2013, I painted/crafted a picture for each family unit in our Sunday School class. They were similar to this (but smaller).

What frustrates you most about the Internet?
This may sound silly – but the thing that frustrates me most is when we “lose it” – I hate when the internet goes down for any reason at home or work. I get overly frustrated (I might need to work on that!!). I also hate unfriendly websites. 

Insert your own random thought here.
Jen Hatmaker spoke at our church on Sunday. She was in town to speak at a women’s conference at a local Baptist church and we were able to book her “on their coat tails.” She spoke during the Sunday School hour (and again at 1:00) and there were several times when she was speaking that I wanted to burst into applause (that has happened to me recently in worship, too! – you have to understand that I’m not a “raise your hands” in worship kind of girl so for me to feel that way is pretty big. Did I clap? Heck no! But I thought about it.) She is on fire for doing the work of Jesus and she is an excellent speaker. I will be facilitating her newest study – Interrupted – during the month of May for three Sunday School classes. I’ve been reading the book and it is really good. p.s. I’m really nervous about facilitating – I’ve been teaching the same Sunday school class for 22 years. They put up with my mistakes, etc. After hearing Jen (why yes – we are on a first name basis!! I wish!!) speak on Sunday, I walked out to my car and said out loud, “Sweet Jesus, what have I gotten myself into?” (that was a prayer!) I am unworthy to facilitate this material but that means that Jesus gets to shine, right?

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Hodge Podge Wednesday

1.  Besides leftover Easter Candy, what is something currently kept in a basket at your house?  A cat, perhaps??  Let's see . . .we moved into a new house last summer and I don't know if we kept any baskets.  Yes, we did!  There are some baskets in my craft room - they hold an assortment of items from a label maker to a canvas painting of an angel . . .There are two baskets in our upstairs loft area.  They are empty.

2.  "The greater danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it." Michelangelo Buonarroti
So which one are you . . .the one who aims too high, or the one who aims too low?  Have you ever seen the Sistine Chapel?  Did you know Michelangelo's surname prior to answer this question?
I don't think I aim high enough sometimes.  I think I need to make a bigger and better (and higher!) list of goals but I sometimes have a hard time seeing the big picture.  It is great that I get to work with people who aim high . . .I get to go with them!!
I've never seen the Sistine Chapel but I sure would like to see it some day. Regarding the last name, I just googled Michelangelo, the teenage mutant ninja turtle, to see if he had a last name.  I watched it so much with my kids when they were young that I thought surely his last name would be the same.  Not.

3.  April 7th is National Beer Day.  Wonder how that is celebrated?  Do you like beer?  Have a favorite?  If you're not a beer drinker do you have any recipes you enjoy cooking that call for beer?
I don't drink beer.  I wish I liked it but I don't.  My husband (and kids) LOVE beer.  Mark's new favorite beer is Miss Fancy's Tripel - made in a local brewery.  Read about it here.  It is interesting!!  I used to make great fried mushrooms and the batter was beer batter.  Yuuuummmy!  You dipped them in a horseradish sauce.  I need to find that recipe and make some!!

4.  When did you last travel somewhere new?  Tell us where?  How'd it go?
Well dang - I haven't been on a good trip in quite a few years.  Summer before last, I did drive to North Carolina (by myself) for a really cool conference.  It was great.  I was proud of myself for driving that far by myself.  I made some new friends.  I learned a lot.  I NEED to get out more!  I wanted to go to a conference in Las Vegas this year for administrative assistants who work for senior pastors of large churches BUT we have a work conflict.  Isn't there something humorous about having that type of conference in Las Vegas?  I've been there once.  I've been to most of the Virgin Islands -- St. Martin; St. John.  I've been to Puerto Rico and to Nassau and to a good many different states (mostly as a chaperone on youth choir trips!!).  That is about the extent of my travelling.  I would love to go to Panama and Africa on a mission trip with our church before I'm too old.

5.  The value of ________________________ is greatly overrated.
wow - that is hard.  How about . . the value of SOME CLOTHING LINES is greatly overrated.  My husband went into a store the other day and he told me later that this company thinks awfully highly of their shirts.  (high $$)

6.  What's a pet peeve of yours when it comes to restaurant dining?
I can name a couple . . .one would be poor service in an expensive restaurant.  It doesn't happen often but it does happen every once in a while.  I, too (like a couple of other bloggers), struggle with unruly children.  We have twins and they were not very good in restaurants . . .so we didn't take them often.  We kept taking them to less expensive, loud places until they learned to behave.  We recently dined at Hot and Hot Fish Club for our kid's birthday.  There were six of us and we were pretty loud.  Chef Chris Hastings came to our table and introduced himself and I apologized because we were so loud.  He informed us that he wanted the patrons of the restaurant to have a good time and that we weren't too loud!  My point is that we didn't have any little children with us and we were still loud :-)  (those of you that know us well know that several of us are loud)

7.  It's Poetry Month (really?  I didn't know that!!) . . .share a favorite poem, either the title, a few lines you find meaningful, or the whole kit and caboodle.  I was asked to read this at the funeral of the mother of a friend (actually three sisters and I were friends).  It is the only poem that comes to mind at this moment:
Gone From My Sight
by Henry Van Dyke
I am standing upon the seashore. A ship, at my side,
spreads her white sails to the moving breeze and starts
for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength.
I stand and watch her until, at length, she hangs like a speck
of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.

Then, someone at my side says, "There, she is gone"

Gone where?

Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast,
hull and spar as she was when she left my side.
And, she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port.

Her diminished size is in me -- not in her.
And, just at the moment when someone says, "There, she is gone,"
there are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices
ready to take up the glad shout, "Here she comes!"

And that is dying...

Death comes in its own time, in its own way.
Death is as unique as the individual experiencing it

8.  Insert your own random thought here.  We started a new Bible/book/DVD study last night with our group of young adults.  The title is Ask It by Andy Stanley.  The first lesson was really great.  We had over 20 people last night and we had some great discussion.  The group is for those in their 20's, out of college and not married.  Mark and I have been hosting this group (people have come and gone and even come back again) for over 5 years now.

You are welcome to join the Hodgepodge on Wednesdays and link up on this wonderful page.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Hodge Podge Wednesday

1.  In honor of the date . . .when were you last sent on a "fool's errand"?  A couple of years ago, my husband asked for a banana tree for his birthday and then he mentioned it again in the fall.  I thought - aha!  I know what to buy this man for whom it is so difficult to buy a gift!!  A banana tree!!  What fun, right?  So I called every single nursery -- e.v.e.r.y. o.n.e. - and asked if they had any banana trees in stock.  NO ONE had a single banana tree.  At Christmas, I told him how I had wanted to please him and wanted to buy the banana tree as a surprise.  I told him how I had called all around looking for one.  He started laughing . . .see below for what he really wanted!

2.  Peter Rabbit, Bug Bunny, The Energizer Bunny, The Easter Bunny, Rabbit (Pooh's friend), White Rabbit (of Wonderland fame), or the Trix Rabbit . . .which of these "famous" rabbits can you best relate to right now?  How about the bunny that runs out of battery power when he is up against the Energizer bunny???  You didn't include that one!!  This is Holy Week.  I'm on staff at a LARGE church.  One of our wonderful congregants died last night.  We have church services every day this week and 7 services are planned for Sunday!  Actually - I'm going to BE the Energizer Bunny this week - I'm going to keep on going and going and going and going WITH a smile on my face!!

3.  When did you last find yourself scrambling to get something done?  Good question.  I try not to wait until the last minute to get things done because I HATE scrambling.  I like to plan ahead and get things done ahead of time so that we aren't scrambling.  As I was typing, I did think of two recent scrambles.  Our office closes at four on Fridays.  One of our Senior Pastors (I'm his assistant) met with a non-church member on Friday at 3 to plan a funeral.  I typed the funeral bulletins and made 100 copies and was still out the door at 4.  Yesterday, our minister of music emailed me at 1:40 and needed a postcard to be produced and mailed.  I leave at 2 on Tuesdays to get ready for Tuesday night Bible study (cook, prepare, etc.).  I told him that I couldn't do it but then decided to compete against myself . . .I made the postcard in publisher, made the copies, ran the labels from the database and attached labels and postage and had five minutes to spare!

4.  Last time you were up at the literal crack of dawn?  Why?  Last time you stayed up all night?  Why?  Heck - I get up at the crack of dawn most every day.  It is still dark outside and I see the sun rise - does that count??  I stayed up most of the night last Thursday night with leg cramps - oh crap - I should erase that - makes me sound old!  Last year, the night before we had to have our sweet cat, Snug, put to sleep . . .we stayed up pretty much all night with him.

5.  Crack a book, crack a bottle, crack a joke, crack an egg . .. which have you done most recently?  I love to read, so I'm always reading but most of the time on my kindle.  We served wine to friends on Saturday night - so I cracked a bottle.  I love to laugh but I am a horrible joke teller - I tend to forget the punch line!!  I made deviled eggs on Thursday night for supper so I cracked some eggs!  I win - I did almost all of them!

6.  What is your favorite part of a typical weekend?  Tell us why that's so.  I LOVE the whole weekend.  I love that moment right before four o'clock on Friday afternoon.  I feel like a little kid on the last day of school.  I love going out to eat with friends or having friends over.  I love not having to set the clock for Saturday mornings (though sleeping late is just until 7 or so!).  I love our church - our preachers - our music - our Sunday school class - our Jesus!!  (though I will admit that it is hard to make myself get up and get dressed on Sunday morning after being here all five days -- BUT ONCE I'M HERE - I love it!!

7.  What's something I'd find on a bookshelf in your home?  Other than a book, I mean!  We have a small antique bookcase in our loft living area upstairs.  There are a few old books but I also have a piece of pottery from the Wadley, Alabama potter.  I also have the hand cross that I was given when I was the Lay Director on an Emmaus Walk.  There are a couple of photos in frames on one shelf.  On top of the bookcase, is a little wooden church.  There is also a big, gold, wooden E.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.  Let's see . . .I am so happy that spring is here.  I wish that I did not have allergies so that I could just stay outside all the time.  We have these wonderful porches - three to be exact - and I love sitting outside.  I told Mark the other day that I love coming home in the afternoons to our HOME.