Thursday, January 29, 2015

Everybody's got a water buffalo

Back when our nephews were just wee little boys, one of them heard the veggie tale water buffalo song and he WANTED a water buffalo.  He said, "Everyone else has a water buffalo, I want a water buffalo!" (similar to the lyrics).  As families often do, we picked up on that line - "everyone else has one.  I want one!" and used that line quite often when one of us was wanting something that others had (if you were to ask mark or my children about this, they would probably look at you with a blank face but if you were to ask Grandmother - she would remember!)

There is a farm right outside the city limits of Columbiana . . .and they have water buffalo, I meant to say, they have a small herd of bison.  The farm itself looks so lovely.  I want to go and walk around their lake (probably dodging bison poop) just to see it up close.  

It just happened to be an incredibly gorgeous January day in Alabama and I drove down to Columbiana to visit my friend, Shawn in order to buy some things at her cute store - Peddler's Creek.  I was watching for the Bison on my way into town and saw them . . so on the way back out of town, I rolled down my window, placed my thumb strategically on the "take photo" button of my phone, held my arm out the window and my eyes on the road ahead (yes, I did!), and snapped away.  I wanted to share these water buffalo with you because surely you want a water buffalo, too! (I know they are bison, the story is much better about water buffaloes!  Of course, since I had my phone, not my camera with a giant lens, all you see is trees.  But if you could look closely, there are bison among those trees and they are cool!

just fyi -- there were a whole lot of pictures . . .and I'm only sharing a few!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

"Be Mine"

I am indeed happiest when I am creating !!  I'm sure there are things that make me happier - time with family and friends; talking about Jesus and the scripture - especially fun facts to know and tell that fill in some of the blanks!  I really love to have a craft project going at all times and since I now work seven, I mean five days a week, I don't always have time to make things.  We've been in our house since June and on the surface, my craft room looks pretty good.  In reality, I have NO IDEA where anything is located.  I was going to organize it this winter, but this winter is quickly slipping away from me!  I was able to find red and pink and white cardstock and some pink ribbon and over the weekend, I used my trusty silhouette cameo to create a valentine banner.

I cut the basic flag shapes out of red cardstock.  I made the scalloped edge hearts with white.  I then layered a red polka dot heart on top of those two pieces.  At that point, I cut the letters out of pink cardstock and glued it all together (I had to BUY glue sticks because I had NO idea where they are located in this house!!).  I hung it up and you couldn't see the pink letters at all.  You had to walk up to the banner to tell there were letters at all.  Laura suggested that I cut another set of letters and I did - out of white cardstock.  I layered the white on top of the pink and if you look very closely, you can see that I placed the white letters so that you could still see a hint of pink behind - sort of like a shadow.

I'm much better with paper than cookies evidently.  We had box lunches at a recent meeting from Lunch Box Express.  Sandy O'Kelly, in our UMC conference office recommended them and if you need lunches - Lunch Box Express is the way to go!  Very reasonable prices and delicious - yes!!  We had snickerdoodles as our dessert and they were yummy so I googled "recipe for snickerdoodles" and made some.
Are you laughing yet?  At the point where I removed the cookies from the oven, I googled "why are my snickerdoodles flat and stuck together?"  Do you know why?  My baking soda was old!!  It is not really old, but it was evidently not doing its thing.  I have a repertoire of baked goods that I make well and as of this baking, I think snickerdoodles are not on that list!  They tasted good.  Mark took them to work in a baggie and people ate them!

I didn't take a picture of my most recent baking adventure.  I should have.  On Saturday, I decided to make King Cakes.  I was going to use Southern Plate's recipe.  I have tasted this king cake and it is good (my friend, Lori is a much better baker than I - she made king cakes for our Bible study using this recipe!).  I took the frozen bread dough out and put it on a paper plate to thaw . . .all three loaves . . .because I was going to make one cake to take to Sunday School and I was going to make two more to give away to neighbors.  Heck - I even purchased a whole bunch of green, gold and purple glitter sprinkle thing-a-ma-bobs.  Guess what?  I promptly forgot about that bread thawing and I went out to run errands and buy groceries.  When I got back home, there were those loaves . . .they had risen up beautifully (I was supposed to shape and fill the dough before allowing it to rise!) . . .yes, they had risen up beautifully and were all three stuck together and all three WERE STUCK TO THE DADGUM PAPER PLATE!  I had to take my bread knife and saw them away from the paper plate.  I sprayed my brownie pan (9 X 13) with pam and plopped those stuck-together loaves into the pan and preheated the oven.  I had the largest three hump loaf of bread you have ever seen!  Once again, it tasted good, just like those ugly snickerdoodles. Mark loves bread so he has really enjoyed it. He came in on Saturday night from a long weekend at the farm with very little to eat (he took a banana and two packs of peanut butter crackers for his three meals!!) When he came in, the house smelled wonderful (nothing like baking bread!!) and there was a gigantic loaf of bread and one hungry man! There is only one piece left.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Favorite Food Bloggers

I love to cook - plain and simple.  I really love to cook and for people to love to eat what I cook!  I've always been a collector of cookbooks (until we moved - Salvation Army received a wonderful selection of cook books when I was packing!!).  As we were packing, I realized that most of the recipes I use these days come from three of my favorite food bloggers/writers.

I love the recipes from Stephanie at Plain Chicken; and Ree at Pioneer Woman (I did keep Ree's cookbook . . . no, I don't know any of these but feel like I can call them by their first names and feel like we are friends - even though they have no idea I exist :-); and last, but certainly not least, is Christy at Southern Plate (she did comment on my blog one time!!)

We have been a part of the same supper club for over 10 years now and so I love to try out new recipes on those folks (they will love me anyway!).  I was in charge of the appetizer last weekend and pulled a recipe from Plain Chicken for some roll-ups.  I made one slight change to her recipe.

Here is the recipe as I made it:
1 large can of chicken breast - drained (the ounces varied at the store - anything from 11 to 13 oz -- I used swanson 12.5 ounces)
1 8 ounce block of cream cheese - room temperature (picture shows two blocks - only use ONE)
6 Tablespoons of salsa - I used medium
several good shakes of Frank's hot sauce (added this because it just didn't have enough zing!!)

Put drained chicken, cream cheese and salsa in bowl of mixer and blend (you could probably do this by hand or in a food processor - my handy dandy kitchen aid mixer sits on the counter so that was easiest for me).  I did it in the mixer because I wanted a smooth texture.

At this point, I tasted it and didn't think it was spicy enough so I looked in the cabinet and found a new bottle of Frank's.  I didn't measure the Frank's - I just splashed it in.

Spread this mixture on flour tortillas - this recipe makes enough for about 8 tortillas.  Roll up and wrap in wax paper (twist the ends) and place in fridge.

About 20 minutes before time to leave our house, I whipped out the electric knife and unwrapped one roll up at a time and sliced (on a cutting board).  Each slice was about 3/4 inches.  I had enough slices to cover a medium sized platter.  Every single piece was eaten!!  I love when people eat my food!

Tonight I made lasagna for our Tuesday night Bible study group.  I used Pioneer Woman's recipe.  I've made it several times before and it is indeed THE BEST . . .just fyi - I tripled the recipe which will be enough to feed 25 people.  I do not triple the spices.

I use Southern Plate recipes all the time, too!

So . ..where do you find your favorite recipes?

Friday, January 23, 2015

I'm happiest when I'm creating . . .

Yes, I have a mess on my island.  Yes, I am creating.  Yes, maybe I am playing!  Yes, I am indeed happiest when I am creating!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Family comes in all shapes and sizes

I would bet that you already know this for a fact.  Friends and family come in all shapes and sizes!
I feel like we have made an effort to spend more time with friends and family this year. (of course, as I am re-reading this, I'm thinking to myself - no, we didn't!!  That was the plan!!  It is ridiculously hard to schedule time though.  I thought that when we hit "middle age" we would have lots of leisure time but seems like we are busier than ever!!)

So just who are these friends and family members?

Nathan and the girls (Miriam, Lydia and Charis are all young adult women but I think we are all girls somehow) hosted the Harris family Christmas gathering this year.  We always get together on Christmas Day Night.  Mark and Nathan were busy putting "cake gravy" all over their desserts and we were busy texting pictures of said "cake gravy" to our nephew, Thomas in Delaware trying to make him jealous (Thomas is a freshman in college at University of Alabama but was in Delaware for the holidays).  Cake gravy is not really gravy at all but it is basically the boiled custard used for homemade ice cream . . .not frozen . . .but big hunks of vanilla ice cream (from the store) dropped into the punch bowl with the custard.  I know it sounds weird but believe me - it is good.  I just looked back to last year to see if I had blogged about cake gravy but we were in the midst of some hard times in January and February of last year.  Mark and Thomas decided last Christmas that they were going to make it, bottle it (or can it) and sell it.  I thought they were quite silly about it last year but the Smith girls (Miriam, Lydia and Charis) told us this year that they laughed so hard about cake gravy . . .and that conversation gave them something funny to talk about during the midst of a difficult time.  We miss Nancy.  Plain and simple.  We miss her so much so I know that Nathan and the girls and her momma and her siblings miss her even more.  I was so proud of all of them for hosting this year.

Nathan was pouring cake gravy all over his dessert plate.  I think he is the first one a few years ago to put the custard (cake gravy) on top of his cake (I believe it was coconut cake that year!). . .and Mark quickly followed suit.

Family not only comes in all shapes and sizes but also all ages.  Not many families can brag that they have two such beautiful matriarchs.  Mark's momma - Susie - is on the left (just fyi - I think I've said this on here before - I have never called her Susie in my life.  I call her either Mark's momma or grandmother.)  Aunt Mary is on the right.  Many people think they are sisters but they are sister-in-laws.  Aunt Mary was married to Uncle Billy - Billy and Susie were siblings (along with Uncle John and Aunt Margaret).  Grandmother (Susie) has outlived all her siblings.  I know that was boring to anyone who was reading.  Sorry!!

Bill and George are in the dessert line.  I actually had to scroll back up and look at Mark's shirt to make sure this was George.  Sometimes it is a little freaky being married to an identical twin!!

There were several children at the family gathering this year.  They are/were all so cute. . . .and so very busy!!  Constant motion!  David's little boy had a long talk with Laura about Christmas nakins (yes, I meant to spell it that way - say napkin without the "p" - that is how he pronounced it.)  Laura used his nakin for some reason or another and replaced it with a paper towel.  He promptly informed her that she had not handed him a nakin but a paper towel . . .and it certainly wasn't a Christmas nakin.  He NEEDED a Christmas nakin.

Friends and family also come in all sorts of genders.  Who knows what these men were discussing . . .football, perhaps?

so family does come in all shapes and sizes, ages, stages, gender.  I went back and pulled this picture of Phella and Nancy and me at Nancy's last birthday party.  Phella is not "related" to us at all but I feel like she is my sister.  Family comes by blood (like the picture of my sisters, stepmother and me down below) and family comes by marriage (like Nancy and George and Bill and the girls) and family comes by choice (Phella).

This Christmas, time with family was good.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Green Bean Goodness

Trying out a new green bean recipe - combining a couple that I found online and then making some changes.  I think I'll call my recipe "Green Bean Goodness."

I decided that it would be easiest to make these in my electric skillet.  I love my electric skillet - I use it all the time!!

This is not a healthy recipe but I'm making it for the young adults and it is going to fee about 25 people so we aren't talking about a large serving per person.

one pound bacon - chopped into 1 inch pieces
1/2 cup chopped onion
brown onion and bacon in skillet - don't cook until done but cook until not "so raw" looking - you know what I mean?
drain 6 # can (yes, I said a 6 POUND can - actually, it is something like 6 pounds and 7 ounces . . .I really could use two tonight but only have one) and one regular can of cut green beans (I added what I had in the pantry!!)
add to skillet
melt one stick butter in microwave safe dish (I use my four cup glass measuring cup to melt butter)
add 3/4 cup brown sugar (it was really a HEAPING half cup -- why don't they make a 3/4 cup measuring cup?  So many recipes call for 3/4 cup and I don't like using the glass "one cup" for things like brown sugar)
add 6 T soy sauce
add one teaspoon minced garlic (I buy it in the jar)
stir butter, soy sauce, brown sugar and garlic together
pour over green beans
gently stir
Add a little salt and a few good shakes of black pepper
put lid on electric skillet
cook one hour
remove lid
cook until juices begin to caramelize and bacon continues to crisp (the green beans actually started shrinking . . .I cooked that long)
(p.s. - these were a hit - not a single green bean for leftovers!  They received the "thumbs up" from several of the young adults!!)

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Dirty Santa - December 2014 - Trinity Young Professionals

Great night of fun!  Presents under the tree - $10 or less . . .
At the end of the night, I was the new owner of a jar of homemade hot chocolate mix and two miniatures of Baileys - YUMMY!
At the end of the night, Mark was the proud owner of a chia pet which he re-gifted on Christmas morning to our son, Glenn!!  (shhh!)
At the end of the night, Julie Lynn was the proud new owner of a Guy Fieri skillet with the words, "love, peace and taco grease" written on the inside of the skillet (I bought that and thought it was too cute!)
Mark wrapped up a set of car keys for a brand new car . . . that just happened to be sitting somewhere totally smashed to smithereens . . but it was a brand new car!  He had added a bottle of wine and his motto was that you could indeed "drink and drive" safely because those car keys weren't going to get you anywhere!
I can't remember what Laura had at the end of the night - maybe a bottle of wine??
We had some fun gifts!!

That is Hunter in the tacky Christmas sweatshirt and Santa hat.  I kept seeing him out of the corner of my eye and I kept thinking to myself, "Santa is here!"

Maybe Julie Lynn didn't end up with the cute skillet after all . . .here she is opening another present!!

A good time was had by all (I think!!).  I can't imagine our lives without this group of young adults.  So many of them have become "our kids" - we enjoy our Tuesday nights so much!

Saturday, January 17, 2015


Mark and I started dating back in the summer of 1982 (I think that is right!!).  1982 is the same year that a new sitcom entered our tv watching -- The name of the tv show was Cheers.  Cheers ran from 1982 to 1993 and I swear we have probably watched all of the episodes at some time or another.  I always thought that cozy bar was a rather neat place and I loved how everyone in the bar always yelled, "Norm" when the character played by George Wendt entered the bar.  The theme song was rather "catchy" at the time, too.

Making your way in the world today takes everything you've got.
Taking a break from all your worries sure would help alot.
Wouldn't you like to get away?
Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name
and they're always glad you came
You wanna be where you can see
our troubles are all the same
You wanna be where everybody knows your name.

We all want that a little bit, I think.  We want to be known.
We now live in a neighborhood with a restaurant/pub by the name of The Boot.  We usually eat there about once a week and we've been doing that for about a year now.  I think that The Boot is probably one of the main reasons we chose this neighborhood.  We would eat dinner at The Boot and then drive around the neighborhood and look at the houses.  We fell in love with the neighborhood.

We ate at The Boot last night and it is such a popular place that there is usually a line out the door.  The last two weekends (I ate there with  my friend, Mary Elizabeth last weekend), one of the employees has come to the line and asked for parties of two so we were seated rather quickly.  The employee took our name and put it on a table (she even drew a smiley face).  I was thinking that I wished they knew our name.  Silly, isn't it?  They know our faces - as a matter of fact, Mark ordered a new menu item and the girl working at the front  (oh my goodness - I just realized that I don't know any of their names either!!  I must take time to learn their names!!) taking orders, said, "next time y'all come in, I want to hear his thoughts on the steak sandwich." (it was delicious, he said!)

I realize that I have rambled all around in this post - where am I going?  In Isaiah 43, we read, "Do not fear, for I have redeemed you.  I have called you by name; YOU ARE MINE."  Last night, I immediately realized (after my glass of wine had worn off) that I wanted to write this down.  God knows me by  name.  If I were to enter into God's restaurant (forgive me for taking such liberties!!), he wouldn't have to ask my name, he would open his arms wide and say, "Lisa!  I'm so glad you are here.  Let me show you to your table."

The first line of the song was, "making your way in the world today takes everything you've got."  This whole last year has taken just about everything I've got.  The thing is .  .when I've used up all my "stuff," there is room for God.  You know - you might do this, too.  We try to do it all on our own.  Like a little kid, we push God to the side and say, "I do it!" (haven't you heard a toddler say it just like that??)

Making my way in the world today has taken everything I've got
Taking a break from all my worries (I realize as I'm typing this that I really don't have that many worries) sure would help a lot!
Sometimes I want to go
Where everybody knows
God does.  He knows me by name and I am his.  I can rest easy knowing that!! 

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Charles - Charlie - Chuck - Upchuck

Back in September or early October, Laura adopted a rescue kitty.  We thought he was three years old but it turns out, he is more like five years old.  This poor kitty has had the worst time.  Some previous owner decided to have Charles de-clawed . . .but his claws just keep growing back.  I can't tell you how much money Laura has spent at the vet . . .and how many antibiotic shots he has received.  (shout out for Dr. Frederick at Alford Animal Hospital - she is THE BEST!)
Anyway, here he is when we first realized he had a problem (he was bleeding all over our new house and new furniture - see the beach towel - everything in our house is covered in beach towels . . .still . . .and this is January!!!  I didn't know they made "cones of shame" for cats.  It looks like a "hair cut cape" to me!  He had a hard time walking in it at first but mastered it very quickly! (his toes are still not totally healed!!)

Yes, he jumped up onto the bar stool.  He thinks he is a people (yes, I know that "people" is not correct . . .but he is a cat!!)

He is really a sweet cat.  Still slightly afraid of people.  He will sit on Laura's back or beside her on the sofa and he will ALLOW us to pet him.  What Charlie really likes to do is EAT.  Bless his heart, he is considered overweight and HE LOVES TO EAT.  (he also loves to sleep - but sleep requires a snack and a bath before hand)

He is begging - literally begging - for turkey.  He can stand on his hind legs and practically dance for a piece of turkey lunchmeat.  Mark can't stand for him to cry because he is hungry.  He only eats dry (DIET - THEY MAKE DIET CAT FOOD!!!!) diet cat food and he is only supposed to have about a half a cup a day.  At least our house has stairs so he has been getting lots of exercise.

He loves sitting outside on our screened in porch but he wants someone to sit out there with him and will cry if we don't!  He thinks there is something hiding underneath the grill.  I went over there and looked . . .didn't see a thing!!!  He watched it intently for about 30 minutes!

I was sitting on the sofa and he jumped up beside me.  Closer!!  He was trying to help address and stamp cards with me.  He probably thought it was something to eat!  (you can see that the sofa is covered with an old blanket!!)

He has provided much entertainment.  He loves sacks and boxes.

He loves tissue paper.  I'm sure he is thinking, "they put that paper down JUST for me!!"

This is the closest he has come to sitting with me.  I was in the recliner and he hopped up on the arm.  He really is a handsome boy!

Charlie will be moving out (along with Laura) in the middle of February.  I think we will miss him!

Saturday, January 10, 2015


I woke up this morning and thought, "I sure would like to have a biscuit for breakfast."  I can still remember my granny (my daddy's momma) making biscuits when we spent the night with her.  She had this old green metal "piece of furniture" (I use that loosely because I'm not sure what it was!!) in her kitchen.  One panel pulled down and opened a bin of flour.  She would mix her biscuits there on that metal counter before placing them on an old cookie sheet (or seems like sometimes in an iron skillet???) and putting them into the oven.  I asked her to show me how one morning (I was probably about 12 years old) . . .it was some of this and a pinch of that . . .needless, to say, I never learned how to make her biscuits.  She died many years ago - just a year or two after our mom died.  So . . .this morning, I was going to make angel biscuits.  The original recipe calls for 2 cups self rising flour and one cup of sour cream and one cup of butter.  I thought I had all the ingredients.  Imagine my surprise when I opened the sour cream container and SOMEONE had been using it unbeknownst to me.  I just happened to have some left over buttermilk from New Year's Day (I DO KNOW how to make excellent cornbread - my daddy taught me!!).  I scraped all the sour cream out of the container and put it in my one cup measuring cup and filled the cup the rest of the way with buttermilk.  I had no idea whether it would work or not . . .but I do remember that Granny would use either "sweet" milk as she called it or buttermilk in her biscuits.  Guess what?  It worked!
2 cups self rising flour
1 cup butter - room temperature
one cup of sour cream/buttermilk mixed together
Preheat oven to 400
Grease muffin tins (big or small)
Combine butter and flour in bowl until you have everything incorporated.  It will look almost like a bunch of butter and flour pebbles in your bowl.  Add sour cream/buttermilk mixture and stir gently.  If you mix too vigorously, you will have tough biscuits!  Fill muffin cups and bake at 400 degrees.  I made 12 regular sized muffin biscuits and it took about 13 or 14 minutes in my oven.  I checked them every five minutes.

This was the finished product!  They don't look like my granny's biscuits but they sure were tasty!!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Blessing

When you saw today's blog title, I'll bet you thought I was going to talk about my blessing jar again.  Right?  Wrong!

Does your family have a favorite movie?  Do y'all have a movie that you quote quite often?  We love watching Christmas Vacation every year (multiple times!). . .and this is one of our favorite dialogues in the movie:

Clark: Since this is Aunt Bethany's 80th Christmas, I think she should lead us in the saying of Grace.
Aunt Bethany: [turns to Lewis] What, dear?
Nora Griswold : Grace!
Aunt Bethany: Grace? She passed away thirty years ago.
Uncle Lewis: They want you to say Grace.
[Bethany shakes her head in confusion]
Uncle Lewis: The BLESSING! (can't you just hear his voice???)
Aunt Bethany: [they all pose for prayer] I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands/ One nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
Clark: Amen.

What blessing did you teach your children when they were young?  We always said,
God is great.
God is good.
Let us thank him for our food.
By his hands, we all are fed.
Give us Lord, our daily bread.

We all prayed that until just a few years ago every Sunday at Grandmother's house, too!

When our kids were in elementary school, they learned all sorts of other blessings.  One of my favorites was sung to the superman tune!
Thank you, God, for giving us food.
Thank you, God, for giving us food.
For the friends we meet and the food we eat . . thank you, God!

At some point, they learned the Johnny Appleseed prayer.
Oh, the Lord's been good to me,
And so I thank the Lord,
For giving me the things I need,
The sun, the rain, and the apple seed

The Lord's been good to me.

Now, we all just pray as we say the blessing but we still always say something like:
Bless this food to the nourishment of our bodies and our bodies to your service.  It just fits! :-)

We have this really long empty wall in our kitchen . . .see it below.  The wall is to the left of the island.  (I have no idea what Mark is doing in this picture nor do I have any idea of why I snapped this picture!  This might be the night that we hosted supper club at our house.)

So I decided that we needed a blessing on that wall (now do you see where I was going with my Christmas Vacation story at the beginning????)

Mark brought a pallet home for me and Glenn took it apart and nailed it back together.  I painted a base coat of tan paint on the pallet (similar to the wall color).  Then I cut letters out of vinyl using my silhouette cameo.  I very carefully placed the letters on the pallet and painted around them with some of the leftover paint from the dining room.  The paint is much more vibrant on the walls!!  I let it dry and peeled off the vinyl . . .and the letters weren't dark enough.  Imagine my surprise when I came in from work on Christmas Eve.  Laura had painted each letter blue and had freehanded a dove and some swirls and a star in the top corner.

My giant BLESSING is ready to hang on the wall.  I love this blessing.  I wish we had known it when the kids were growing up.
Bless the food before us,
the family beside us,
and the love between us!

We feel like everyone that eats at our table is family!

If Aunt Bethany came to visit at our house, we could tell her to just read the blessing on the wall!!