Friday, January 31, 2014


In conversation the other day with a fairly new member of our church and community, she admitted how friendly everyone is, yet no one seems to have room in their life for more friends.  This CRUSHES me, but then I realize I'm guilty too.  People smile, nod in agreement, and are helpful for a moment, but when it comes time to spending time to really get to know her and the family, she's feeling lonely.  She is outgoing with a pleasant personality, and volunteers in several ways, so she has plenty of opportunities to make friends.

I wonder, for those of us who have lived in the same place for a long time, who have our circle of friends, who have found our niche, if we don't realize we are shutting people out sometimes?  Are we so busy that we don't have time to make a new friend?  Do we feel that we have enough friends to keep up with that we don't have room for any more?  It hurts me to think that my beloved church family might not be that to someone else.  Truth is, FRIENDSHIP TAKES TIME.

It's an issue bigger than myself and there's no solving it, except for me to do what I can.  My way may not be like your way.  I have never really gotten into "doing lunch" - just my habit from years of trying to cram my "to-do" list into the time my kids were in school, and also eating a simple lunch of few calories.  I like my schedule!  But, I do ask people to join us for a meal after worship services, participate in women's activities at church and encourage others to join in, etc.  I hope in the future as I become an empty nester that I will find more opportunities for friendship.

Recently I heard about a service that two older Christian ladies do together.  They are fairly new friends, and one is a widow.  Once a week, they pick someone from church to go encourage.  They make a goody bag to take.  They phone them and ask if they can visit, and also ask if they can get something from the store or buy a Sonic drink for them.  Sometimes they even bring lunch and eat with them.  I know because my mother was the recipient of this special visit from them.  Only later did I find out it was a weekly ritual!  What better way to get to know other people and be an encouragement as well!

Everyone needs friends.  People in transition especially so - and newcomers are at the top of the list.  Even though I haven't moved to a new town since I was 5 years old, I know it's important.  We all feel lonely from time to time.  How can we help out newcomers? Things I thought of:

1.  Slow down - take a few more minutes to really talk to them.
2.  Offer to take them to your favorite local coffee shop or restaurant.
3.  Get their phone number and call or text when you think of them.
4.  Find a common interest and ask them to join you in that.
5.  Find out about opportunities that might help them - our church has several welcome classes available.

Bottom line:  
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you!  
Luke 6:31

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


A parent volunteer made these last week and Michelle wanted the here it is!  Should've known it was from Southern Living.  I really liked them even though I'm not a coffee drinker.  
(click on photo to make it larger)

Monday, January 27, 2014


The great performances in Follies...

The kids...
The senior men who my son led so well...and so graciously invited to our house :)

And yes, even the work!  

Friday, January 24, 2014


It's been a week and it's not over yet!  Two shows to go!  My senior's last Follies talent show - found out this week that this is the 35th annual show!  It started a few years before I graduated and has just gotten bigger and better!  (I also didn't realize not all high schools around here do a talent show) We've got such a great variety from song numbers to skits, sign language with rap music and Irish dancing!  The senior girls and senior men's acts are a fairly new tradition and are always interesting - open to any senior willing to show up to practice.  Senior men's act also gave my son a chance to work on his leadership skills - funny how they start to respect what their teachers do...
I've been their mama this week, taking care of the feeding of 135 kids.  Such a blessing for me and I love how many parent volunteers show up to help and bring yummy desserts!  I get to sample a few and let me tell you this mocha cupcake was so good and so cute - that's a chocolate musical note on top!

Gonna miss the energy here!  I've got one more show to go - the musical - but that will only be about 60 kids or so, so that will be a breeze!

Monday, January 20, 2014


Just one of the reasons having my son around is so interesting...he keeps me up on all the hip new things...apparently one of the newest food crazes from NYC is CRONUTS.  It's some kind of wonderful cross between and croissant and a donut.  He and his friends decided they would attempt to make some by youtube!  It's a 5 hour process...and a 3-day weekend is the perfect time to try it.
I got up this morning to find these beauties on the kitchen counter...

Friday, January 17, 2014


A family favorite, made in my new casserole dish!

Chicken Enchiladas

4-5 cups chicken breast, cooked and shredded
Cream of chicken soup
Small can green chilies
13 oz. Evaporated milk
8 oz. Velveeta cheese
16 small flour tortillas

Heat soup, chilies, milk, and cheese.  Add chicken breast to the mixture.  Spoon 2 tablespoons into the middle of tortilla and roll gently, placing it into greased pan.  Bake 25-30 minutes.  Serve with guacamole, sour cream, and salsa.

Chicken Enchiladas, UPGRADED

4-5 cups chicken breast, cooked and shredded
Cream of chicken soup - Healthy request
Small can green chilies
13 oz. Evaporated milk - 2 %
4 oz. 2% Velveeta cheese
Laughing Cow Queso Fresco lite- 6 triangles
16 small corn or corn/flour mix tortillas

My main upgrade here is cutting the cheese in half.  I did that by adding the Laughing Cow cheese for flavor and spread it on each tortilla before spooning in the chicken mixture.  I've also made the conversion to plain Greek yogurt for my sour cream.  Next time I should make my own cream of chicken soup and chop my own green chilis!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014


or so I'm told!  Funny how neither my husband or I like coffee or even owned a coffee maker until last year, and our two oldest kids are CRAZY about it.  If that's not rebellion, I don't know what it is...
I caught my college kid working on his art the other day.  By the way, that's all he wanted for Christmas - coffee stuff!  Here's his toys - a reconditioned coffee grinder, a gooseneck kettle, and an electronic scale.  I just hope he pays that attention to detail when he's taking care of me in my old age!  :)

The art of the pour over

One must keep a journal about coffee making...

 Fancy-schmancy coffee grinder - I tried to tell him 
I could get him a hand grinder for about $12, but he wasn't interested...

Monday, January 13, 2014


Well you know it's a slow day on the blog when I post about my foot's best friend, but this product has truly been WONDERFUL!  It will heal your cracked heels!!!  For years I had dealt with cracked heels, painful at times, and never found a product to cure it.  I'm long overdue in thanking my roommate from college who is a doctor in recommending it to me last summer!  She told me I would have to be faithful and put it on twice a day and I can't say that I've done that, but I put it on daily and it works like a charm.

Friday, January 10, 2014


Every once in a while we have an ice storm around here, which I like to think of as God's way of pruning - taking some of those useless dead trees and limbs out.  Thankfully I have a couple of lumberjacks around to take care of them.  It also resulted in an opportunity to do a good deed for a single mom with a wood burning fireplace.  My boys got  out there and split that wood and cut it into pieces that would fit into her fireplace.  Our loss, her gain. She was thankful - I was thankful- to have it up and off my yard!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

LOSING 15 BY 50...

That is my goal! (Yes, I live by catchy phrases) This summer I will be turning the big 5-0, so that is some motivation for me to buckle down, eat right, and lose this annoying extra weight I've been carrying around!  I have established a pretty good exercise routine, so I know that's really not my problem.  I just love to eat, and I eat too much.

Another big  motivator is that both my boys will have graduations this year - college and high school - Woohoo!  You can bet there will be lots of picture taking going on, so I want to look good!  So those may be vain reasons but at least they are making me serious about this stuff...

One of my "tricks" that I've come up with after scouring Pinterest for ideas is this jar.  I found inspirational sayings and put them on there to remind me to have patience and that it will be worth it!   I get $$ daily for losing and maintaining that loss - of course I have to take $$ out if I gain.  At the end of the month it will be fun money to spend!  You might think it's funny that a few dollars would motivate me, but it's more of a daily reminder and I'm really wanting to fill it up.  It's a game I want to win - by losing!

So, no bringing me brownies this week...or any other time in the future...

Monday, January 6, 2014


Tuna salad has been a staple in our house as our Saturday lunch for years.  I never really liked it growing up but eventually did, with enough mayo and sweet pickles added.  My upgrade involves fresher, local eggs, sweet pickle relish with no added high fructose corn syrup, and crackers with no sugar!  Here's our original version and the UPGRADE:

THE basic recipe:

Tuna Salad Sandwiches
3 Cans of Tuna, packed in water, drained
3 eggs, boiled and chopped
Miracle Whip lite, to taste
Sweet pickle relish, to taste

Eat on toasted bread, or with crackers.  My favorite is Wheat Thins.
Even better if you have sliced apples or grapes with it!

Our UPGRADED recipe:

3 Cans of Tuna, packed in water, drained
3 eggs, boiled and chopped, bought from a local farm
Miracle Whip lite, to taste
Sweet pickles, grated, to taste  - no HFCS like in store-bought

Eat on Wasa crisp bread, broken up like crackers!
Eat with sliced apples or grapes.

It's not easy to pass by my beloved Wheat Thins but the facts are too obvious to ignore.   Wasa has less than half total calories and sodium than Wheat Thins.  It also has zero sugar.  I'm not saying I'll never eat Wheat Thins again, but I'm trying to make the swap!

Have you got any tips for me on this one?

Saturday, January 4, 2014


Maybe my favorite of the year!  Not what you think of when you see Stephen King...loved this time traveling book!  It's long, though.    The main character travels back in time to try to prevent the assassination of JFK.  I think it really was interesting to me because he describes America in the early 60's so well.  It gave me a snapshot of what the world was like when I was born in '64.  

This book is really an interesting read and makes me think perhaps I was too easy on my kids!  Too late now.  But they still love me.  Interesting thoughts and practices on parenting.

If you like books about Africa, you will probably like this.  I learned a lot about the culture and how a woman traveling alone in Africa makes her way through it.  But it's more about a personal journey of self-acceptance and complexities in marriage.

Recommended by my friend the amazing reader - a great easy read for anyone wanting to improve their health.  Many of his tips you have heard all your life but he gives it more meaning.  This is one I just almost want to buy so I can continue to refer to and put the tips into practice.  Or, you can go to his website and take the 30 day challenge! This book inspired me to UPGRADE!

Thursday, January 2, 2014


Maybe you make a new year's resolution, or a goal.  Or maybe you just think about making some life improvement.  Following a trend in our culture with one word titles for just about everything, I've come up with my new word for this year:  UPGRADE.  I have to give the credit to my daughter, really.  Sometime in November we were talking on the phone about a nutrition class she was taking through her yoga studio.  Included in the class was a tour of Whole Foods and recommendations for products to replace our fatty, sugary unhealthy food choices.  I agreed with her and told her of a recent change I had made in a standard meal at our house, and she said "YOU UPGRADED!  That's what they call it in my class.  Don't say diet food, say you made an upgrade!"

I really like the whole idea of the word UPGRADE.

  In terms of UPGRADING your life, it's a step up.  Doing something better than what you did before.  Trading in the old for the new.  Telling yourself when it's hard that this is a good choice.  Whether it's a diet, or habits or time management, give yourself an UPGRADE because you are worth taking care of...maybe it's your relationship with God, maybe a financial goal, whatever it is that you feel in your heart needs to be attended to, do it.  Call it an UPGRADE.

So you may see this word occasionally on the blog this year.  I've decided to UPGRADE a few family recipes and meals to reflect better choices.  This is going to be a little more effort than my Soup of the week feature I did last year!  That took some time choosing a recipe, buying ingredients, and of course, making it, but this will require a little more thought and acceptance from the family of these changes.  Should be fun.