Thursday, May 26, 2022

BEAUTIFUL PLACES IN ARKANSAS...

 My Mother had a big birthday recently, and my sister and I started taking her on little road trips every 5 years, so it was time for another!  Mom had hinted a few times about a gardener on public television, P. Allen Smith, who has a farm/home tour in Arkansas somewhere...so I researched and found out more about it several months ago.  So that became our destination!

We stopped in Fort Smith for lunch and a tour of Miss Laura's house.

Miss Laura's is the only bordello on the National Register of Historic places.  It's got an interesting history and is filled with beautiful period furniture.  It also serves as an Arkansas visitor center. We drove on to West Little Rock where we stayed in a VRBO.  

The next day we headed out into the hills past Pinnacle Mountain to Moss Mountain Farm, P. Allen's home.  Mom was so excited!  We were greeted with this amazing old post oak tree by his home.  Turns out he selected that spot to build the home because of that tree.
The home is only about 20 years old, but made to look old.  We toured inside and also the gardens outside.  All of it was very beautiful and interesting!









After touring the home and gardens, we enjoyed a wonderful lunch!


P. Allen came in after lunch and did a Q & A about roses!

The next day we went to do some things in Little Rock - the Esse purse museum was so interesting!  It had a lot more than purses. It was all about fashion through the decades.  My mother felt like she had taken a walk down memory lane!  Nearby we ate lunch and enjoyed some of the gift shops.

The Old Mill is in a lush park near downtown.  It's claim to fame is that a scene from the movie "Gone With The  Wind" was filmed here back in the 1930's.  



We went to the Bernice Garden on Sunday to see the Farmer's Market and the sculptures.  It was a nice way to end our weekend!  



It's always fun to do a little road trip with family!  





Wednesday, May 18, 2022

RECREATING A FAVORITE SALAD FROM ISRAEL...

 At the end of our Israel trip, we had a couple of days in Tel Aviv and got to spend a couple of hours at the Carmel Market!  It was amazing!  I had researched good restaurants nearby and found Schlomo & Doron, a high rated place for hummus, so we went there.  It was literally a hole-in-the-wall, but we could tell it would be good from the people already eating and the line that formed right after we ordered.  We didn't know what to get besides the hummus trio, so we ordered a market salad.  Turned out we liked the salad better than the hummus!  I took a picture and tried to recreate it here at home.  Here's my recipe!  



Isn't it pretty!  






Tuesday, May 3, 2022

TOUR OF ISRAEL WITH A SIDE OF COVID...

 I had always planned to travel to Israel and see biblical sights "someday."  After The Hubs got turned on to the BEMA discipleship podcast, and found out the host also takes groups to Israel for a study tour, he was ready to go!  We started planning to go with his brother and sister-in-law about a year ago.  It was interesting to me as the host had homework for us to complete, to get more out of the trip.  I actually really enjoyed it! 

Trip day finally came in March after much preparation! We had to have special paperwork filled out to enter Israel, in addition to a negative Covid test 48 hours before we left and upon arrival at the airport.  All that done, we got down to enjoying the sights, the teaching from our host and our Israeli tour guide, and getting to know the 50 others on our bus who all love BEMA discipleship and Jesus! 

Our host and teacher - first lesson at the Standing Stones

Honestly, the community we had on the trip was a great benefit I did not anticipate.  It was like being at church camp for 2 weeks!  We had connected via a private Facebook group before the trip and our host would occasionally post informational videos on there for us.  So it helped to see all the folks from all over the US +2 foreign countries that were going on the trip.  We all really bonded during the two weeks.  I made a friend from Ohio and we took selfies together every day!

Me and my friend from Ohio

We traveled from the southern tip of the Dead Sea and the desert to the green hills of Galilee where Jesus spent most of his ministry.  We saw the caves of Ein Gedi where David hid from Saul and the caves near the Dead Sea at Qumran where the Dead Sea scrolls were found.  We trekked through fields, up hills and in caves for lessons.  A boat ride on the Sea of Galilee was surreal to think about Jesus taking the same route. We saw the most likely place where the Demoniac was healed and the pigs ran off the cliff into the Sea of Galilee.  We saw a lot of ruins and beautiful green hills and valleys.  Oddly enough, Jerusalem was not my favorite.  It is a big city with lots of people and lots of guesses of where Jesus might have actually been.  And according to archaeology, so many civilizations are built on top of one another who really knows?  But it is interesting to see the geography of the land, preserved ruins of ancient cities, and how Judaism and Christianity has impacted this place.  

Camels in the desert!


Site of an ancient city - Gamla - where many battles were fought

Temple of Pan at Caesarea Phillippi

Synagogue remains

Taking a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee!

A lesson in a cave like Jesus could have been born in...

On top of Masada, Herod's masterpiece

Ruins of Bet Shean

Floating in the Dead Sea (me on the right)

The Hubs and twin brother at Ein Gedi

The Hubs developed a cough after the first week and declared it, a "cold."  Several days later, I thought I had allergies to something that was blooming.  Sure enough, when we were tested the night before our flight home, we were positive for Covid.  No one else in our group was.  We had all worn masks on our bus.  Who knew?  We didn't feel that bad.  But we had to quarantine.  

We had gotten trip insurance thank goodness!  We also had a woman from the tour company to walk us through the necessary steps needed in this situation.  After we were tested we were immediately sent to our room and someone would bring us dinner.  We were taken by ambulance the next day to the official Covid hotel.  I was hoping for a balcony, but no such luck.  We were required to stay in our room for 7 days or be fined.  The room was somewhat dingy, but not horrible.  We had a gorgeous view of the Mount of Olives and Mount Zion. Meals came to our door 3 times a day.  It was always interesting to see what our Kosher meals would be!  After a couple of days, we fell into a routine and kept ourselves busy exercising, washing clothes in the bathtub, playing cards, watching the world outside our window, watching TV and checking social media.  Our son even sent us a puzzle and pie via an Israeli delivery service!

Awesome view out our window

On the 7th day, we got the green light to go and headed to Tel Aviv!  We were excited to spend the weekend there by the beach, eating WHATEVER we wanted and walking around freely!!!  It also made a lot of sense, being closer to the airport and waiting for an email to come in from the Ministry of Health.  It turned out pretty well - we got to Tel Aviv in time on Friday to enjoy the Carmel Market.  We ate some delicious food and gelato.  We walked the beach too.  Saturday we walked about 15 minutes down the coast to Old Jaffa port.  It's a photographer's dream!  Loved the old city and the fishing port that is one of the oldest in the world.  

Olives at Carmel Market
Old Jaffa

Tel Aviv high rises from Old Jaffa

So many picturesque doorways in Old Jaffa!

Our 3 week adventure finally ended on Sunday when we got to fly home.  It was a wonderful learning experience in many ways.  And exhausting and spiritually challenging.  Praise God we weren't too sick when we got the dreaded Covid!


 


Tuesday, March 8, 2022

RASPBERRY CHEESECAKE COOKIE CREATION...

I hosted a wedding shower recently, and had asked the bride what kind of goodies she liked.  We tried to make all her wishes come true with this spread!  She said she liked Chocolate chip cookies and berries.  

We had blonde brownies, chocolate chip cookies, berry cups, pink flower sugar cookies, and raspberry cheesecake cookies! I had the idea for raspberry cheesecake cookies when I tried a new icing recipe with cream cheese in it, and it seemed way too rich.  Then I decided to try it on a very plain sugar cookie and topped it with a raspberry and Voila!  Raspberry cheesecake cookies.  They were pretty and delicious!  Here's the recipes:


Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies

8 oz. cream cheese

2 sticks butter

3/4 cup sugar

2 3/4 cup flour

1 t. almond extract 


Mix all ingredients and chill overnight.  Roll out and cut into shapes.  Bake on middle rack in a 400 degree oven for 7-8 minutes.  Try not to let the edges brown.  Frost when cooled. 

I used this recipe for frosting from Pinterest and added a few drops of red food coloring into it to get the pink hue.  I used an M tip and piped it onto the cookies in a rosette shape.  These cookies do need to be refrigerated because of the cream cheese in the frosting.  

Finally, about an hour before the party, I rinsed raspberries and let them dry on a paper towel.  Then I carefully pushed one into the middle of each cookie.  They were beautiful and tasty with the tart raspberry and the sweet cream cheese frosting on the plain shortbread type cookie.

The whole table - I got this fun picture with the groom and all the hostesses!  He had arrived before the bride at the start of the shower and we thought it was funny.  They're a sweet couple.  




 

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

ORANGE BEACH IN WINTER...

 We are kind of creating a tradition heading to the Gulf Coast each winter for a couple of weeks (snowbirds in training?) and this year we chose Orange Beach, Alabama.  The Hubs worked and we squeezed in a lot of fun between his responsibilities. 


This was our second time in Orange Beach.  We picked a small-ish condo.  We like the small ones because we like the idea of less people and no lines at the elevator.  We like to get privately owned VRBO places that seem well cared for and have fresh furnishings.  That's what we got this time at The Breakers.  It wasn't fancy or brand new, but it was nice, with a magnificent view of the ocean!  We found ourselves with the balcony doors open most of the time.  Pretty great in January!

We did a lot of the same things we did last time we were here - daily walks on the beach, hiking and biking the Hugh Branyon Backcountry trails.  We did find a couple of new things we loved, though:  

A short drive away you can hunt for dinosaurs along the highway in Elberta!


Near the dinosaurs there is also "Bamahenge." It's pretty big - see me in there?

Part of the Hugh Branyon trail in OB

Along the Jeff Friend trail

We reached the lagoon at the end of Jeff Friend trail!

A new Paula Deen restaurant opened in nearby Foley since we were there last time.  We had to try it out and opted for lunchtime.  It's the same menu as dinner but cheaper, of course.  We also got $10 off using a tourist book coupon we picked up at a local grocery store.  Score!  The biscuits were delicious!  I think that and the broccolli casserole were my favorite things about the meal.  

YUM

Buzzcatz is a coffee shop that we frequented often - they have a Happy Meower (Hour) and sell their cookies 1/2 price!  I think we tried all the different kinds by the end of our time there.  :) We went to another great fish place, Doc's Seafood Shack.  We were told by a local that is the best fried shrimp in the area. - fresh, handbreaded - not from Sam's!  It lived up to the hype!  

We shared this - the fried shrimp is buried under all that!

In the meantime, I re-organized my recipe album and did some reading.  I shopped one day and discovered a family owned supermarket (Rouses) that I liked that had a lot of Cajun specialty foods and King cakes!  I visited an artists gallery that houses about 50 local artists' works, Prosperous Pelican, and then enjoyed a little variety store called Al's 5 & 10 - it reminded me of the old TG&Y variety store I grew up with in OK.  

Another fun thing about the Gulf Coast in winter is that they are getting ready for Mardi Gras! 
I got this mini raspberry filled King Cake at Rouse's Market.  
 

See ya another time, Orange Beach!

I love this new tradition we've started - if you're an emptynester what kind of getaways do you do?



P.S.  I always like to find fun places to eat or see along our route and this time on the way home we stopped in Baton Rouge.  We ate lunch at Elsie's Plate and Pie.  It was pretty delicious, too!