Saturday, February 28, 2009

Our Fun, Busy Weekend

February 29th...Your 5th Anniversary...Congratulations!! Wishing you both a relaxing, refreshing, and fun weekend together!

As for PawPaw and MawMaw...we are having a great time stepping into your roles for a few days.

Friday, February 27, 2009

"The Four Ingredient Cookbook" Comes Through Again

This chicken dinner comes from a book that I resort to often, "The New Cooking With 4 Ingredients Cookbook". Now, lately I have been discovering some mighty fine cooks and bakers in my tour of the blogging world, and I do share this recipe with some hesitation, as I am realizing the talent and skills involved in creating many scrumptious looking dishes. This, my dear friends will probably not be a recipe that you grab your pen for. But, on the other hand, it is a very tasty, quick, easy and requested recipe that I use even for dinner guests. I decided to post this dish because you may have limited time, and a mind focused on bigger issues, this evening when it is time to cook dinner.

Here is the simple recipe. I use butter instead of margarine. I bake in a preheated 350 degrees for an hour, so as to not dry out the chicken.
I pound each chicken breast half with a meat tenderizing mallet, before adding the cream cheese, butter and salt.

This Knorr's rice goes well with the chicken. It cooks in 7 minutes and is creamy and delicious. I serve the chicken breast on top of a mound of rice. I add a fresh garden salad, and if desired warm rolls, and dinner is ready. For me this works. I like having friends over, but time is often limited.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Hometown Hospitality

In our hometown where quite a few of our childhood memories took place, there is a special Cafe' along the Main Street. It has been there for close to 15 years, open most days of the week, serving breakfast, lunch, dinner and many an evening ice cream snack, to all who walk through the front door.

Just driving past the welcoming sign, makes one want to stop and visit. During Spring, Summer and Fall, beautiful flowers and greens grace the front landscape.

Once inside the front door, one is immediately drawn to the warm, inviting atmosphere of the beautifully decorated cafe'. "Ice Cream" is definitely the theme...everywhere ice cream memorbilia is displayed, including large ceramic ice cream cones on the fireplace mantle. The feel of the place, is that of a down home ice cream parlor, where local people come to visit with friends. In the background, music of the fifties, sixties and seventies can be heard through the sound system.

On many a cold winter evening, we have sat at tables in this location, thankful for the warmth of the fire.

In the last few years, the enclosed sunroom was added, supplying room for more tables and chairs. In this sunroom, one truly gets the feel of the garden. Surrounded by windows, one can sit and take in all of the carefully planted landscaping outside. Inside, water can be heard rippling through the contained rock garden, enclosed with white lattice woodwork and tiny white lights.

The food...oh, it is all so delicious!! We have been eating here for years, and always we leave content with the meals that we just ate. Whether it is breakfast, lunch or dinner, the food and service has been consistently great!! My husband's favorite dinner is the "Fajita Pita". My favorite is their garden salad and the sweet potato fries(served with a small container of maple sryup).

Desserts are their specialty! Ice Cream desserts to be specific. Whatever ice cream choice you make, you can be sure it will taste and look equally good. The pretzel on top is one of their signature additions, as well as the M & M found in the bottom of each ice cream cone. Good food, good service, welcoming atmosphere and friends to talk to...perfect needed break in our fast paced daily lives. Hopefully, you have a Squire Side Cafe', in your hometown. By the way, you might be interested in knowing that the talented photographer Uncle of mine, that shares many of the outstanding photographs on my blog, is the owner and creator of this cafe'. He, along with his family and dear friends create the warm hospitality of the place. One wonders how some people are blessed so many talents. His wife(my aunt and lifelong friend) is credited with the fascinating decor. So you see...this is more to us than just a Main Street Cafe'.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Unthanked People

"When William Stidger taught at Boston University, he once reflected upon the great number of unthanked people in his life. Those who had helped nurture him, inspire him, or cared enough about him to leave a lasting impression. One was a schoolteacher he'd not heard of in many years. But he remembered that she had gone out of her way to put a love of verse in him, and Will had loved poetry all his life. He wrote a letter of thanks to her. The reply he received, written in the feeble scrawl of the aged, began, "My dear Willie." He was delighted. Now over fifty, bald, and a professor, he didn't think there was a person left in the world who would call him "Willie". Here is that letter: " My dear Willie, I cannot tell you how much your note meant to me. I am in my eighties, living alone in a small room, cooking my own meals, lonely, and, like the last leaf of autumn, lingering behind. You will be interested to know that I taught school for fifty years and yours is the first note of appreciation I ever received. It came on a blue-cold morning and it cheered me as nothing has in many years." Not prone to cry easily, Will wept over that note. She was one of the great unthanked people from Will's past. You know them. We all do. The teacher who made a difference. The coach we will never forget. The music instructor or Sunday school worker who helped us believe in ourselves. The scout leader who cared. We all remember people who shaped our lives in various ways. People whose inflluence changed us. Will Stidger found a way to show his appreciation--he wrote them letters." ----story by Steve Goodier "Unthanked People" "Blessed are those who give without remembering and who receive without forgetting." --unknown

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Gift That Takes A Week To Open

If you ever happen to find yourself in a situation where you want to give a gift to someone who has a long hospital stay, or is attending college far from home, or is moving cross country, and you are unsure what to give, this may be an idea for you. At a local pharmacy you purchase a plastic pill case with the days of the week printed on it. You will find that there are many different sizes of these cases, but I prefer the bigger ones. They are only a dollar or two. Pictured above, is how I took one of these simple, plastic containers and dressed it up for giving.

I first of all chose a color scheme, purchased two colors of tissue paper, and a pack of attractive stickers. I cut 4x4 squares of tissue to fill each of the compartments with. Then I cut pieces of tissue paper the size of each small lid, and glued each piece to the lids with a glue stick. I added a sticker on top of each lid, and the shell of the project was complete. How quickly the transformation was made!!

Now I have the fun of filling each compartment with little gifts for the person that I have in mind. Each day they will be able to open a lid and find something special from you, to remind them of your love and thoughts for them. Above, I have pictured a few of the gifts I use; a beautifully beaded book thong from Border's Books, a tiny coffee decorated card with money inside for a coffee drink at Starbuck's (or wherever), in some compartments I fold papers with messages from my heart to them (such as verses, letters, poems...), small packs of candy(whaterver their preferences), quarters for the laudromat if they are in school, a pair of earrings...the list is endless. What makes this gift unique, is that they open only one lid a day, giving them something to look forward to the next day. When you are far from home, or facing an extended hospital stay, this may help to encourage hearts.

So, there you have it, one simple, plastic pill holder...but filled with love, care and treasures to brighten someone's life. To present this to the recipient, I wrap it in clear cellophane and add a color coordinated bow and a card with instructions on when to start(the upcoming Sunday), and to only open one day at a time!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Our Saturday Afternoon Excursion

Located in Booth's Corner is a big, fascinating Farmer's Market. On Saturday afternoon my husband and I visited this market. The drawing card for this particular market, was the fact that we have family members who own and operate stands within the market. Actually, five individual cousins and their families operate five of the stands. What a special privilege this was for us. The big, attractive stand pictured above is owned and operated by my cousin and her husband. One could see very quickly, the popularity of the fresh meat stand, by the number of people waiting in line, to make purchases. Clean, well lit glass cases showcased all of the fresh beef and pork one could possibly want. As we stood there waiting to purchase, our list of wants was growing. We were told that each week of market, all of the meat is freshly cut. What an operation!

The owner of the stand was kind and helpful to us, taking time to explain behind the scenes details that take place in running a stand like this. For both my husband and I, this was truly an interesting education.

The beautiful artistically arranged produce stand, was the next visit we made. This stand is owned and operated by our cousin's son and his wife. The attractively arranged fruit made one want to buy one from every display. Unfortunately, we did not take pictures of the lunch that we ate, at the next one of our relative's stands. The aromas alone would have drawn us to this restaurant, not to mention we were told they make the BEST cheeseburgers and crab cake sandwiches ever!! Our cousin's oldest son and his wife run this successful operation, feeding the many people waiting in line. We each had turkey burgers with lettuce and tomatoes. The servers were friendly and the seating area was cozy and clean.

Another cousin and his wife. own the pet stand. We could tell right away upon arriving in this area, that this was also a popular place to be. Big, glass display cases gave clear viewing of some of the cutest little puppies ever!! One could hear children begging their parents for one of the adorable pets, as they watched them rump and play in front of them. Here my cousin holds one of the adorable little guys up to us, stealing our hearts immediately. You can tell that his love of these pets has created another successful stand, in this busy market.

His beautiful, friendly daughter was so helpful in showing us the pet store's many displays. Above, she is holding a football jersey for puppies. In fact, all of the clothing displayed above, was created for dogs of different sizes. I never saw anything like it! There must be some mighty fine dressed dogs in this state. The display included fancy dog dresses. Quite interesting!

The next stand that we visited was something one would not expect to find in a farmer's market. An elegant and inviting Boutique, owned and operated by our cousin's wife. One was drawn into this shop by the beauty alone, not to mention the skillfully decorated space and the huge inventory. Tiny lights graced the area, along with the sounds of water fountains and soft music playing. There was so much to see in this boutique, and all of it was so artistically displayed. Jewelry, clothing, purses, many home decor pieces, outstanding floral arrangements done by owner and her mother, cards and seasonal ornaments, were for sale.

I was drawn to this to display because of the color of my favorite colors. Our visit was memorable. It was a privilege for us to step into the market world of our cousins, and to now have a new appreciation for the management, knowledge, skill, and time that fills their days on a weekly basis. So totally different that our weekly routines.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

What Can I Do?

These pansies remind me of my dear grandma. Every Spring I would bring her a fresh bouquet. She loved pansies. It has been close to a month since she went to Heaven. I was thinking so much of her today. I found this piece in a book yesterday and it fit in perfectly with how I felt during our visits, the last few weeks of her earthly life. "There isn't much that I can do, but I can share my bread with you, and sometimes share a sorrow, too-- There isn't much that I can do, but I can sit an hour with you, and I can share a joke with you, and sometimes share reverses, too-- There isn't much that I can do, but I can share my flowers with you, and I can share my books with you and sometimes share your burdens, too-- There isn't much that I can do, but I can share my songs with you, and I can share my mirth with you, and sometimes come and laugh with you-- There isn't much that I can do, but I can share my hopes with you, and I can share my fears with you, and sometimes shed tears with you-- There isn't much that I can do, but I can share my friends with you, and I can share my life with you, and oftentimes share a prayer with you." -Author unknown, "From You Gotta Keep Dancing".

Saturday, February 21, 2009

"Crispy Waffles" For A Saturday Morning Breakfast

Saturday morning breakfast is my husband's favorite. It is the only breakfast of the week that he gets to eat "big". This morning I made Belgium waffles, which rates right up there in his list of favorites. My dad introduced us to Belgium waffles many years ago. His favorite way to eat them was with ice cream in the an ice cream sandwich. One year for my birthday I received an electric waffle maker from Williams and Sonoma. Most times the plates of waffles that I serve look like the one above. This morning I served a plate like the one below.

This time I added peaches that I froze last summer, sprinkled them with powdered sugar, and finished with a small dollop of whipped cream. He said this may be his new favorite.

These peaches that I thawed from the freezer, are one of the most used of my frozen foods. Last summer, on one of my visits to a neighboring farm, I picked up an extra basket of peaches. They were exceptionally sweet peaches. I peeled them, halved them and then took my potato masher and mashed them, but only partially. I added some sugar. Since they were so sweet it did not require much(just according to taste). I dished it into plastic containers and froze it immediately. Over the winter, I thaw these peaches and put them over waffles, pancakes, I top pieces of yellow cake with vanilla pudding, the peaches and whipped cream, or I scoop vanilla ice cream, the peaches and add crushed shortbread cookies, and a dollop of whipped cream. All of these selections are so easy and taste so good! Like eating fresh peaches all year around.

The recipe that I use year after year for these waffles, I discovered in a "Vera Bradley Cookbook". The recipe was shared by Barbara Bradley Baekgaard, President and Co-Founder of Vera Bradley. Here is her wonderful, simple recipe; In one big bowl you add, 2 cups of baking mix(I use Bisquick), 1 egg, 1 1/3 cups of club soda, 1/2 cup of vegtable oil. Combine and mix with a wire whisk until smooth. Pour into a preheated waffle iron. Bake until golden brown. Serve with your favorite toppings. I was told that this recipe works for pancakes, if you do not own a waffle iron. I never tried it though. When my daughters were in high school, we would sometimes have "waffle bar parties". We would make the waffles, and include toppings for the friends to choose from; vanilla and chocolate ice cream balls, chocolate syrup, fresh strawberries, and chopped nuts. It was always a hit and a simple way to feed lots of teenagers.

Friday, February 20, 2009

A Little Humor For Your Friday

"Sitting on the side of the highway waiting to catch speeding drivers, a state trooper saw a car puttering along at twenty-two miles per hour. He thought, This driver is just as dangerous as a speeder! So he turned on his lights and pulled the driver over. Approaching the car, he noticed that there were five old ladies-two in the front seat and three in the back-wide eyed and white as ghosts. The driver, obviously confused, said to him, "Officer, I don't understand, I was doing exactly the speed limit! What seems to be the problem?" "Ma'am," the officer replied, "you weren't speeding, but you should know that driving slower than the speed limit can also be a danger to other drivers." "Slower than the speed limit? No, sir, I was doing the speed limit exactly--twenty-two miles an hour!" the old woman said a bit proudly. The state trooper, trying to contain a chuckle, explained to her that twenty-two was the route number, not the speed limit. A bit embarrassed, the woman grinned and thanked the officer for pointing our her error. "But, before I let you go, ma'am, I have to ask--is everyone in this car okay? These women seem awfully shaken, and they haven't uttered a single peep this whole time," the officer said. "Oh, they'll be all right in a minute, officer. We just got off Route 119." story from the book "Expresso for a Woman's Spirit", Pam Vredevelt.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

For Dinner Again...Upon Request

I do not know how you do dinner in your home but, for us if there is a favorite on the part of my family, it is requested often. The simplicity of this meal is a bit embarrasing to share, but my husband told me that I must share it with you, my blogging friends. So, just in case you are looking for a quick, simple and inexpensive dinner, and you like tacos...this may be one to try. In the refrigerated section of the grocery store, I purchase this container of "Chi-Chi's" ground beef taco mix. I open the sealed plastic topping and put in the microwave for a few minutes(I forget exactly how long, possibly 5 minutes).

Onto a jelly roll pan I empty a bag of nachos(I think it works best to use the bite size), add the hot taco beef mixture over the top, and a bag of shredded cheese(mexican mix, or sharp cheddar, or whatever your preference). At this point I put in the oven, on the top shelf, and broil until cheese is totally melted.

Remove from oven, add chopped lettuce(unless you only have a bag of baby greens, the reason for the different shades of lettuces on the picture), and chopped tomatoes over the top. Serve with taco sauce and sour cream. At this point, my family transfers this to individual dinner plates, adding the salsa and sour cream, and mixing it together. Somewhat like a big taco salad. See, it is almost too simple, but the taste is so good(to us)!! Can also be used for an appetizer, or as in our case...dinner.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Endless Giving

This poem written by Helen Steiner Rice, is dedicated to all of the mothers out there, who continually give and give of themselves to their families. Hopefully, it will encourage your hearts that may be very tired tonight.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

These Flowers Don't Need Water

Since I have been blogging for almost a year, I am sure some of you have come to realize my true appreciation for photography and for flowers. When the two of them come together as they have many times, I find myself trying to find ways to display them rather than keeping them stored in the "My Pictures" file of my computer. Above, are six gorgeous, up-close photographs of flowers captured by my Uncle's camera and stored in my file. Since" Spring" seems to be just around the corner, I decided to share with you an idea for displaying their beauty. I copied each of the photographs on regular computer paper, into the 4 x 6 inch size.

I took six plastic water bottles from Target.

I cut out each 4 x 6 inch photograph, and glued it on to the uncut end each individual paper, then I cut off the end where the photo had been. I put double sided scotch tape on the two ends of the paper and wrapped it around the plastic water bottle.

I added a bright pink ribbon, cut name tags out of plain white index cards, punched a hole in the top, and tied a drinking straw onto each one. Now I can display the beauty of each of these exquisitely created flowers, whether at one of my casual dinners, at a picnic, a birthday party...however I choose. Whether I choose to use a centerpiece of fresh flowers to compliment these decorated bottles or not, the table will still be brightly decorated . This concept can be used with photos of a loved one, at a birthday party, or photos of any theme you may be using for a party or a picnic. Definitely, an inexpensive, very simple, and quick way to use photographs plus add pizazz to any casual occasion. Just looking at these brilliantly colored flowers makes me so excited for "Spring" and the new growth that will soon begin to break forth.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Celebrating Good Coffee and Great Friends

It is very early in the morning as I enter the kitchen, flip on the light, and immediately push the "on" switch of the coffee maker. As the smell of the coffee fills my kitchen, I slowly start the wake-up process. For me coffee is far more than a simple beverage. The very aroma of fresh-ground coffee beans carries with it a whole bundle of feel-good sensations: warmth, comfort, friendship, relaxation, hospitality, intimacy.

Here is the coffee display that graces the wall of the entry way into my kitchen. Gifts from dear friends who just happen to know me well, possibly because they too are fellow coffee drinkers. "Come over for a cup of coffee, " we say to our friends. What we really mean is, "Let's spend some time together talking." An invitation for coffee is synonymous with an offer of friendship; it means we want to take time to get to know each other better. In our culture, drinking coffee together has somehow become one of friendship's building blocks, a small and casual ceremony that brings us closer to each other. " ---paragraph from "Coffee Talk", author unknown

"One of the most beautiful qualities of true friendship is to understand and to be understood." --Seneca "When friends meet, hearts warm." ---Proverb Thank you dear God for all of the special coffee breaks that I have with friends...whether for 15 minutes or the rare ones that last for hours is one of my most treasured pasttimes.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

More Captured Beauty From The Florida Coast

I am sharing a few more of the photos that my Uncle captured with his camera, a few weeks ago. on while visiting his brothers. Looking back over the pictures, as I have many times since receiving them, I thought they were too good not to share them.

My Uncle...the outstanding photographer and his dear wife. Thank you for adding pleasure to our Sunday afternoon, with your skill in photography.


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