Monday, April 30

Quick N' Easy Cucumber Dip

If you're a lover of cucumbers and onions, this will do the trick. I throw one 8 ounce package of Philadelphia Cream Cheese, 1 large cumber, and an onion or two into the food processor. Blend, then chill till it sets up a bit. Spread on garlic crackers or melba toast.

Marvelously cool and refreshing... especially after a day of visiting or working in the yard. (Please note I have added an updated photo of Dark Hollow at bottom. JB has become just a tad anal with the mowing of our 6? 8? acre yard.)

Saturday, April 28

Bacon Wrapped Kabobs


I know the photo doesn't look like much, but I assure you, these little appetizers are marvelous.

The larger ones are actually bacon wrapped baby portabellas, generously slathered with Stubbs spicy barbeque sauce.

The slightly rectangular-in-shape ones are bacon-wrapped pineapple chunks.. also slathered in BBQ sauce.

Of course, what's in the middle is just jumbo grilled shrimp. I marinated it in Italian dressing for a couple of hours before slipping in on the skewers.

The bacon I use is Louis Rich Turkey bacon. Full slices for the shrooms and half slices for the pineapple chunks. I use Turkey bacon because it is healthier without sacrificing flavor and also because it doesn't have the fat that regular bacon has, so you don't get flame ups (fire!) while grilling.

Good stuff, I promise and very quick to throw together. One guest who normally doesn't eat mushrooms, put away 4 or baby bellas!
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Friday, April 27

Let There Be Light

Momo once told me that I have the ability to see beauty in the simplest things. My MIL also once said it doesn't take much to make me happy. I guess they're both right, because I am absolutely thrilled to have this new basement door.

Just to clarify, it's not NEW. It used to be the kitchen before we replaced all the doors and windows. I saved it with the hopes of persuading JB (my other half) to cut it down to fit the basement. The old basement door was horrendous and had no window (unless you want to count the inch or so gap all around it). It also would not stay closed unless it was locked.

Our home is over a hundred years old and even the tiniest improvement is so well accepted.

Thursday, April 26

Happy Birthday Momo!

On the back of this picture, my Grandma Craig had written "... age 9. Premier, West VA."

Who would have thought this innocent looking little girl would one day be the love of Pop's life and Momo to 4 children, 14 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren?

She was also one of 19 children. Can you imagine that?

Wednesday, April 25

Here's Looking At You, Kid

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I had quite an audience yesterday as I began planting the garden. My Georgia Collards from last year are flowering and attracted many bumblebees.

Tuesday, April 24


This photo is about a hundred years ago, when I had little girls and lived in the burbs. They both seem so delighted with the dandelions.

I spent quite a good deal of time digging up dandelions yesterday. I am delighted that I have this wonderful forked tool that makes the chore a bit easier. In spite of this, I am still sore across the shoulders and the back of my legs. It reminds me of something my Jessica always told me.

"Bend at the knees, please."

Sunday, April 22

Too Much Mind On My Time

This delectable treat is made with Baker's Microwavable Dipping Chocolate. At $1.84 a carton, it turns strawberries into a sinful treat.
To achieve the double dipped look pictured here, my husband did the bottoms of the strawberries by inserting toothpicks in the tops, dipping--then putting the toothpicked strawberries, standing on their heads, into a block of styrofoam in the refrigerator. Once chilled, he removed the toothpicks and put the strawberries, right side up, for upper drizzling.

I didn't sleep well last night, waking every two hours or so for a trip to the bathroom and to refill the water glass I keep at my bedside. I stepped out on the deck two or three times to run Jake off the porch. Once outside I'd look at all the stars. My racing mind wouldn't let me get back to sleep. I was busy planning what chores I needed to do on Sunday.

Realizing that I MUST sleep, I stepped back inside. The house was quiet with the exception of my other half blowing on the couch (he sometimes snores, but more often than not, he blows). He's recovering from a dry socket!

I'm really wasn't exactly sure what a dry socket entailed until yesterday morning. I did research and turns out, it just means the clot that usually forms after a tooth is pulled has been dislodged.

Momo and Pop always told me that if I kept my tongue out of the hole left from my missing tooth, the new one would be gold. Of course, I never got any gold teeth. Come to think of it, I don't know (even as a child) why I'd want one! I guess they were using that parental psychology to get me to do what was in my best interest.

I can think of times I pulled the same stunt on my daughters. When they were very small, I told them the locket I wore around my neck contained a fairy. A magic fairy. And we must never open the locket or she'd fall out.

Concerned for the safety of my precious little girls, I told them they had better always buckle their seat belts in the car. I warned that if a policeman stopped us, and they were unbuckled, he'd whip their bottom. (They have a healthy respect for the law to this day.)

Momo always told me that if I ate the burned french fries ( or whatever was a bit too done) that it would make my hair curly. You can bet I ate all I could hold. No curls. (In Momo's defense, she had four little ones and a husband that was always on the road. She really is a good cook.)

What parental psychology did you hear as a child? What are you telling your own children?

Friday, April 20

The Fine Art of Letting Go

The following is reprinted from Daily OM:

Parenting asks us to rise to some of the most difficult challenges this world has to offer, and one of its greatest paradoxes arises around the issue of attachment. On the one hand, successful parenting requires that we love our children, and most of us love in a very attached way. On the other hand, it also requires that we let go of our children at the appropriate times, which means we must practice some level of nonattachment. Many parents find this difficult because we love our children fiercely, more than we will ever love anyone, and this can cause us to overstep our bounds with them as their independence grows. Yet truly loving them requires that we set them free.

Attachment to outcome is perhaps the greatest obstacle on the parenting path, and the one that teaches us the most about the importance of practicing nonattachment. We commonly perceive our children to be extensions of ourselves, imagining that we know what's best for them, but our children are people in their own right with their own paths to follow in this world. They may be called to move in directions we fear, don't respect, or don't understand, yet we must let them go. This letting go happens gradually throughout our lives with our children until we finally honor them as fully grown adults who no longer require our guidance. At this point, it is important that we treat them as peers who may or may not seek our input into their lives. This allows them, and us, to fully realize the greatest gift parents can offer their offspring -independence.

Letting go in any area of life requires a deep trust in the universe, in the overall meaning and purpose of existence. Remembering that there is more to us and our children than meets the eye can help us practice nonattachment, even when we feel overwhelmed by concern and the desire to interfere. We are all souls making our way in the world and making our way, ultimately, back to the same source. This can be our mantra as we let our children go in peace and confidence.

Tuesday, April 17

Quick Thinking College Students

I spent the bulk of the evening listening to the accounts by students of Virginia Tech. I'm amazed at how well these young people handled themselves in such a horrific situation... how quick thinking and logical.

During each interview, reporters made (what seemed) repeated attempts to initiate animosity towards the school or the area. However, each student interviewed seemed only angry at the gunman for this senseless massacre. Overall, the students felt the school had done what they felt was best given the amount of time and circumstances. Each really loved the school and the area, in spite of what had happened.

I am so very proud of this group of young students for pulling together and keeping their heads in this time of crisis. Some actually jumped out windows to escape the gunfire, while others found shelter behind closed doors.

After the day they had had, they braved the cold to share information with the world in interview after interview. Bless their hearts for what they have been through in the past 24 hours. And bless their hearts for what is to yet to come.

Sunday, April 15

Playing Fetch

How does an almost blind dog play fetch? He listens well and travels a known path.
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Saturday, April 14

Suck It Up & Get It Done

I faced the music, so to speak, yesterday and did placement tests so I could make my third attempt at completing my college education. The results were as I had expected. The majority of my classes will transfer. But I still have to do 4 maths. I hate math.

My other half told me math would increase my capacity to learn. No doubt. Anything that you have absolutely no interest in--when tackled--is a real brain challenge. We're programmed with our likes and dislikes. We know what excites us and what disgusts us. And the bulk of the time, we are the boss and make the decisions. Maybe I'm put out because someone else is running the show and telling me what classes I must have in order to complete my degree.

I'm not even sure why, at this point in my life, I feel compelled to finish. I just feel like this is what I need to do.

Inspired by a sense of outrage, Jane Stillwater, a 64-year-old self-described "flower child, 4o years later" ate peanut butter sandwiches for months to save for a ticket to Kuwait. She then convinced a small Texas newspaper to help her secure press accreditation and boarded a troop transport to Baghdad.

This grandmother, with no formal journalistic training, reports from Baghdad via blog. (You can see all posts here.) Her local city councilman had this to say,"Having know her for many years and seen her do things that nobody else would think of taking on... she's a pretty irrepressible force of humor and passion."

I can't think of any better compliment.

Thursday, April 12

Momo and Pop's 54 Year Secret

Momo shared her secret with me. I have done my best to encourage her to respond personally, but she is hesitant, for whatever reason.

Nonetheless, there are those of you who have expressed an interest. So I am relaying the information as it was expressed to me.

Momo says most of the time she loves Pop dearly...
" And then there's other times", she said rubbing her thumb and index finger together, "I'd just like to squish him like a bug".

(Turns out, we all have that type of marriage, don't we?)

Water Chestnut Pea Salad

Cool and crisp, this provides a very delicious way to get your veggies!

2 medium carrots
1 pkg frozen peas, thawed (16 ounces)
1 can sliced water chestnuts, drained (6 ounces)
2 green onions, sliced thinly
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup ranch salad dressing
6 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Place carrots in serving bowl; add the peas, water chestnuts, onions and cheese.

Combine the salad dressing, bacon and pepper. Mix well. Chill until serving.

Wednesday, April 11

And On The Third Day, We Slept

This handsome fellow, Elijah Blue, has just recently decided his first potty break of the day should occur between 3 and 4 am.

He has planted himself beside my bed and stared me awake. Ever felt the intensity of someone staring at you? Perhaps it was the squeaking and sneezing, coupled with the staring that woke me.

At any rate, I stumble out of bed, gather my slippers and bathrobe and head to the east stoop. He's out the door like a greyhound at the track. Lord have mercy, I am so glad I let him out!

After he's out, I go to the kitchen...may as well make coffee since I'm up. I really wish I were one of those people who could go back to sleep, but I'm not. Once I'm up, I'm up for the duration. Besides that, I can't go back to sleep until Blue is back inside...

I always cut on the big floodlight in the backyard so I can see him running from behind the studio, around the garden, over to the guest house and back up the west side of the house. Once I see him heading my way, I go around to the kitchen porch on the north side of the house and cut that light on.

The lights are more for my benefit. Blue has limited vision is his left eye and no vision in his right. We had been here a few years before this happened so he became comfortable with the surroundings. If you were to watch him running around in the yard, you'd have no idea his vision is impaired. Maybe...

He puts on a really good show. Reminds me of the figure skaters who hit the ice and then swiftly get up and act like it was all part of the routine. He occasionally bumps into things, backs up, and decides on an alternate path. Bless his heart.

Bless his heart, indeed. After 2 days of this crazy 3 in the morning stuff, my other half and I decided last night that we're not to going to let Blue nap so maybe he'll sleep longer and we can sleep longer. So last night, everytime Blue went belly up, we called him. Everytime Blue wanted to go stretch out on his pillow, we called him. By 9 pm or so, Blue's getting a bit weary having missed out on some good quality nap time since his humans won't leave him alone. This whole scenario is so very reminiscent of a new baby in the house!

I finally turned in about 10:30 when my own lack of sleep had taken its toll. But the miraculous thing is, I woke up to the sneezes and squeaks of Mr. Blue at 5:30!!!

I guess his little body clock just needed some fine tuning.
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Tuesday, April 10

Wasted Days & Wasted Nights

The fat cat has distorted my sofa permanently. Weighing in at 20 pounds, he spends his days nuzzling the catnip and his evenings wheezing on the couch.

(Seems this is not uncommon among cat owners. See Imperatix for her story.)
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Monday, April 9

Easter Monday or HAPPY DAY

I was often teased that I'd use any excuse to celebrate. I guess it's the "Pollyanna" in me (let's find a reason to be happy).

When you have small children in the home, you relish the giggles and smiles. You want them to be happy, so you spend the largest majority of your time and energy preoccupied with that concept. I remember once making a "Happy Day" cake for my girls, with the full understanding that sometimes you just can't wait for the next birthday.

I feel like my two daughters should have quite a few good childhood memories, and a varied assortment of family traditions. My own childhood memories and family traditions still provide a wealth of information for me... good feelings, points to ponder and amusement.. like that groovy Easter pic yesterday.

I don't know how they plan to use all this information, but I have faith they will figure that out. When they were growing up, our family time was consumed with all things adolescent girls deem life sustaining... the sleepovers, band and orchestra concerts, tennis and softball, ballet and jazz.... I was counting on raising well-rounded thinking young women.

See, that's the thing. We always hope that we have provided enough information, afforded enough opportunities, established the best morals and integrity...

That's how you show gratitude for the gift of a child, right?

Sunday, April 8

Have A Groovy Easter

Yep, that's me in the middle. Judging by the look of delight on my face, I'm guessing I'm the only one who still believed in the Easter Bunny.
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Friday, April 6

The Winds of Change

Here's one of my "big dogs" adapting to the cold wind.

She's usually sprawled out on the hillside looking like she's just killed over for her morning nap.

Yesterday, when Mother Nature decided to trade our 80 degree temps for something closer to 45, Lucky felt more inclined to take shelter from the wind behind the remnants of a stump.

Thursday, April 5

The Chicken

I have been asked by many for this quick and tasty chicken marinade. It's the only one I have ever found that transforms "yard bird" into a tantalizing treat. You can't mess it up. No matter how you cook it after using this marinade--which takes all of 20 minutes or so--doesn't matter! It always comes out wonderful. (but it is especially good grilled!)

Chicken Marinade:
8 Tbsp olive oil
8 Tbsp soy sauce
4 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 cloves garlic, minced or whole
2 tsp thyme
3 whole cloves
dash pepper

Put all ingredients into a bowl large enough to accommodate about 2 pounds chicken.

Tuesday, April 3

We're Celebrating At My House

No new recipes (but I have a few good ones in reserve, if you're interested). We dined on leftover meatloaf. I was just too damn pre-occupied with leftover situations from the weekend and beyond to delve into the cookbooks for something more exciting. Sorry.

I have a wonderful Southern Living meatloaf recipe (which rivals my other half's mother--although that was never my intent!) and I'd be more then happy to share. I just never thought of meatloaf as something special. It's more like a "what's at the bottom of the heap" recipe.

I'd much rather have something with some real flavor. Plus, with all I've read lately, I really don't feel good about any recipe that calls for red meat. I think I'd much rather have some brain food (fish). I'm ready for some Shrrimp Scampi or a shrimp stir-fry with a dab of my pear honey.

Anyway, I decorated for Easter.

The other half could care less, but--he'll work around it, if it makes me happy.

This little chickie ensemble used to take Jeni Rae days to get arranged just right.

Sunday, April 1

Why Ask Why?

We enjoyed a dinner of Taco Stufffed Pasta Shells last night while watching back-to-back episodes of house makeover shows. What is it about these shows that provide so much interest for women?

What I should be asking is why is a comfortable home so important to women when it is obvious that most husbands could survive (and be happy) in a tent?

I see this as yet another example of God's sense of humor.