Wednesday, August 31, 2011

For weeks they have been asking when they can make the cupcakes...

I informed them that now was the time.  They were so excited!  But, like is so often the case, the two oldest ones got sidetracked, leaving the youngest to tackle the project by herself(with my supervision of course).  She was as proud as punch!  She stirred and stirred.  She separated the cupcake papers.  She was on her own and she was thrilled.

 By the time the cupcakes were ready to decorate, two more were added to the process.  I demonstrated the first one, and they promised that they had it down.  They were all ready.  Can I tell you, there was chocolate icing everywhere.  I had no idea what all this simple adventure would involve.

Seeing how seriously each one took their responsibility made me smile.   At this point, I did cut off the top of the bag, something I should have done before, but I was too busy wiping chocolate icing off of EVERYTHING...including my elbows:) 

A few years ago, I had purchases a pack of "tool" christmas tree ornaments at The Hobby Lobby store in Texas, on a visit with our daughter.  I had this exact idea in mind when I made the purchase.
We washed the tools, and laid a tiny piece of plastic wrap on top of five of the cupcakes, and placed an ornament on top.  Added some candles and the project was complete. 

Three little ones were pleased as can be.  Finally, their project was finished.  They could not wait until they could surprise the recipient with their culinary skills.
Why would I have tackled a project like this with three young children?
Why would I have been content to take the next few "hours"(not really), to clean up my kitchen? a special guy is having a birthday.

Tonight, they all will celebrate "him" together.  When dessert time comes, they will be ready.  Hopefully, he doesn't see this post before then:)

Our birthday greeting to him,  "Age is merely the number of years the world has been celebrating YOU!
Happy Birthday dear son-in-law!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Lately I have been thinking alot about the act of true hospitality.  So many people in my life have influenced my concepts of hospitality.  I am so thankful for all I have learned from family and friends, in many real life lessons, the true concepts of what it means to be hospitable.  I have books that I have scoured on the subject and have learned much from what was in their pages, but my most valuable lessons came from actions I saw lived out, in my own life, and quite honestly, I think that I could recount each one of them in detail to you, if there was time, because they made an impact on my life.

"Hospitality is a gift.  It is a gift that says to the person to whom it is given, "I care about you."
~ It is tiny dishes of ice cream to a young child, unexpectedly offered to them, when they were hot and tired.  I personally was present when this gesture was made, and to this day, I marvel at this woman's kindness.

~ "Hospitality" is an unexpected tray of ice water offered to you, when you are in the midst of wedding photography sessions on a hot, summer day.  Again, it is shared by someone who cares deeply, and recognized a need.  I sure do admire those who just seem to always see a need and jump to meet it.  How refreshing it is to be around that type of personality.

"Hospitality" is when you have eaten all of your cookie, and the cute little girl beside you, shares the rest of her cookie with you.  A rare moment I might add...but truly hospitality at it's finest.

~  I am not sure this precious picture fits into this category of "hospitality", but it certainly did warm my heart to watch this little one giving the eager goat, her handful of feed.

~  "Hospitality" can take place anywhere and on any occasion.  In the midst of a hot, evening playtime, when one's mother graciously supplies a big container of iced cold lemonade.  Lots of little thirsts were relieved by this act of kindness.  After all her day held on this particular day, if I would have been her, I would have been curled up in the hammock from exhaustion.  Not her, she was serving everyone in her sight.

"Whether hospitality is extended to one's family or to other guests, at the core of good hospitality is how much you offer healing to the wounded spirit, encouragement along a difficult path, and hope where hope has long disappeared.  Food, atmosphere, and even material gifts of clothing and money are just useless tools until they are ignited by the love spoken of in 1 Cor. 13:3, which declares;  "If I gave everything I have to poor people...but didn't love others, it would be of no value whatever."~Elizabeth R. Skoglund

"Hospitality" is always a gift that we offer others, and it always says, "I care about you." 

Yes, there are times in life, when one might want to offer a touch of elegance to someone's day, but mostly hospitality shows itself in so many small, thoughtful, caring, and unexpected ways, and most always blesses those on the receiving end.

As I watched the devastation of natural disasters on the television screen, over the years, I have observed on a first hand basis, acts of caring hospitality shared with many of those most needing the love and care.  In fact, today I observed on the television, an American Red Cross worker, offering a gift of hospitality to one who suffered losses, during Hurricane Irene's revenge. 

I want to be reminded daily, "that the smallest deed is better than the grandest intention."

Sunday, August 28, 2011

I rarely post on a Saturday evening and then again on a Sunday morning, but I thought I'd let you know that all is well in my part of the world. 
A strong wind continues to blow, but the rain has slowed down considerably.
Church services were cancelled today.  Many in our county are still without electricity. 
As a result, we find ourselves with some free, quiet time together.

I noticed two birds calmly going about their business, tending to their nest, oblivious to the intense winds that continuely were blowing the limbs of the tree.  They weren't worried or troubled by the wind.  Great lesson for me as I watched these special little creatures.

Despite the strong wind, the roses outside my back door, continued to share their beauty.  They too, seemed unaffected by the stormy conditions around them.  In fact, the raindrops just added to their loveliness.
I guess it is rather obvious that I like roses:)

"A quiet morning with a loving God puts the events of the upcoming day into proper perspective."
~ Janette Oke

Thanks for stopping by and all your caring comments.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The weekend of "Hurricane Irene" has been interesting.  The most of what we will experience from this storm, will happen in our overnight hours tonight.  It has been an overcast, wet day for us, and has changed many plans. 
With our plans changed, we visited our daughter and son-in-law's home, ate dinner together, and just enjoyed being together.


We ate pizza...


fresh tomatoes from the garden, mozzerella cheese drizzled with balsamic vinegar...

and a warm peach pie, made by the dear neighbor lady and delivered to us.  It tasted so good!  What a kind gesture on her part.
This afternoon, our daughter discovered some exciting finds at the local Goodwill store.  The dessert plates above, were one of those finds.  Lucky her!

Another find was this battery operated Barney.  He danced, sang, and laughed and he cost $2.00.  The little ones were so entertained, and spent the evening playing with this purple friend.
Who would have thought that $2.00 could bring such joy:) 

How many people who went through this storm, will hold thoughts of a dancing Barney in their 2011 storm memories?

I got to spend time with my little buddies.  They will have no recollection of "Irene" years from now.  Not necessarily on this picture, but they are looking more alike than ever.

Speaking of "Goodwill"...our oldest grandson made quite the find today, with these brown plaid slacks.  He promises to wear them during the first days of his senior year, this week.  Always, a trend setter in his own right:)  I told him that my dad had a pair just like them about 30 some years ago.  We will see if he actually does wear them:)


As we drove home, we found ourselves wondering what it would be like for us in the overnight hours, when the storm will be close to us.  Everyone is stocking up on groceries and water.  Now we watch and wait.   My heart goes out to those who have and will face the brunt of this storm.

As I lit my candles this evening, I heard that over one million people on the East Coast are without electricity tonight and many have experienced far reaching affects.
I am so thankful for everything tonight, especially God's loving care over us, through it all.
It certainly is proving to be an interesting week. 

Friday, August 26, 2011

My sister and brother-in-law hosted a local wedding reception for their son and new daughter-in-law, last weekend.  The wedding took place in Kentucky a few weeks ago, but since many of the family and friends who live locally were unable to attend, they planned this special dinner.
The colors  of the evening were black/white/and aqua.  Centerpieces were crystal bowls borrowed from family, filled with water, clear floating baubles, white floating candles and white flowers from farm gardens.  I think it was an elegant, yet simple, inexpensive way to dress up the tablescapes.

I'm sharing a few pictures that my neice captured of the centerpieces.

White linens, black and white damask paper plates, napkins and cups made up the total tablescape.

Beautiful candles graced the placecard table.

The newly married, young couple were warm and gracious in welcoming those present.
The wedding ceremony was previously videotaped and shared with the guests.

The groom's younger sister and brother were a vital part of the evening.  In fact, these photos are compliments of this lovely girl.  Everyone was happy to be a part of the evening's activities and waited in line to congratulate the dear couple.

Last weekend we were enjoying this special event.  This weekend we have no idea what the days will hold.   The focus is on "Hurricane Irene" and what all her visit will hold for us, on the Eastern Coast of the United States.

Thanks so much for stopping by.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A brilliant idea that I discovered years ago when my girls were in high school.
During sports events the refreshment stand would sell "walking tacos".  They were always a hit, and sold well.
A bag of tortilla chips that were crushed and the ingredients of tacos were added to the bag.  A plastic spoon and napkin made it complete.
Last evening, I served this for dinner, and I will share the very simple recipe with you, just in case you ever want to serve it to your family or friends.

Walking Tacos

1 1/2 pounds of lean ground beef, browned and fat drained
3 TB of water
1 envelope taco seasoning mix
1 15oz. can of black beans (drained)(optional)
6 single-serving-sized bags of tortilla or corn chips (whatever brand and flavor you choose)
2 cups of shredded lettuce (I used mixed baby greens)
1 1/2 cups of shredded cheese (whatever flavor you choose) ( I used shredded sharp cheese)
2 medium tomatoes, diced
1 avocado, diced (optional)
1/2 cup of light sour cream

~With the browned ground beef still in the skillet, add the can of black beans, 3 TB of water, and taco seasoning.  Combine and heat thoroughly.
~Gently crush the chips inside each individual bag.  Once the chips are crushed, cut open the top of the bag.
~For each serving scoop taco meat/bean mixture into the bag.  Top with your favorite taco toppings, which may include cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, avocados and sour cream.
~Using a spoon, stir the chips, taco meat and toppings together.  Serve with a plastic spoon for a meal-to-go.

You can line these on a tray and serve at a picnic or dinner.
They taste so good!

Along the same food line, this is a nugget of personal info about me; 
I could easily pass up the temptation of eating sweets like this cupcake, candy, or problem for me.  But...

 ...if bags of these kettle cooked chips were placed in front of me, I fall.  I am not advertising for any company, it just so happens that this local company in my part of the world, has perfected their kettle cooked variety to the point, that temptation for me is great:)  The lowfat kettle cooked chips are exceptional!  In fact, they are my favorite and I would not know they were lowfat, if I didn't see the bag.  I only discovered the sweet potato chips recently, and approached them skeptically, since I have been disappointed by the taste of sweet potato chips that I had tried in the past.  But, these are so good!  I think they would taste good, warmed and served with ranch dressing.  I can tell you, that I will not be stashing bags of these in my home, for very good reason.

One more piece of personal info I want to share, and that is, I just discovered this line of uniquely beautiful greetings cards with touches of glitter, by American Greetings.  They are created by Taylor Swift, a country music singer.  Not only can she sing, she is so creatively artistic.  "Walmart" is where I found her line.  The "thank you" card above seems perfect for me to share with you today.

With earthquakes and hurricanes making big news around here, I know this is an insignificant post, but I hope you liked the diversion.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

It started out as a brisk,clear, beautiful day.  The cool of the morning was the best reminder of the next season that was ahead.  My husband remarked, that he thinks it is the most perfect day we have had all summer.

The fresh watermelon at breakfast tasted sweeter than ever.

Early in the afternoon, I saw on the computer that there was an earthquake in Colorado and informed my husband, since we have family in that state.  We were investigating the facts about that one, never thinking that we would be the next ones to experience our own earthquake.
And, experience it we did(fortunately on a mild level).
Certainly does give one an unsettled feeling to feel the earth moving under one's feet.  It took me a while to process it all, as I'm sure it did for everyone who experienced it.
But... the evening, the little ones, oblivious to the day's events, were relishing their play time in the neighboring lawns.   As I watched them, so carefreely running and playing, I was reminded of the innocence of youth.  They aren't troubled by the day's happenings, and neither do I want to be.

I read a quote recently that I found to be profound.  "See each morning a world made anew, as if it were the morning of the very first day;...treasure and use it, as if it were the final hour of the very last day."   ~Fay Hartzell Arnold

Great advice for me as I face another new day today.  Hope it is a good one for you!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

If you find yourself with a cup of coffee or tea one day...
If time is short and you want to whip up something good and simple to make in no time...
I might be able to help.
I found this recipe in a past copy of "Southern Lady" Magazine.  I made them a few times, and my testing committee has approved.
  Maybe you will too.

The only changes I made, was to use raisins instead of craisins, and I added 1 teaspoon of vanilla to the batter.

I bought the packs of "Apple Cinnamon" muffins at Walmart.  So inexpensive.

We like the taste of old fashion oats in our muffins.

I made these a few months ago.  They served as small gifts for each lady at a beautiful luncheon that I was blessed to attend.
The white paper bags were purchased in a huge pack from the grocery store and serve many purposes for me.

I dressed the bags up with a stamp, a dollar store sticker, and a touch of glitter.
Just in case you ever find yourself in need of quick, easy and delicious.
They do freeze well too.
Thanks for stopping by today.

Monday, August 22, 2011


Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word,...

a listening ear, an honest accomplishment, or the smallest act of caring...

... all of which have the potential to turn a life around."      ~author unknown

He is tough, yet tender, and that is why he is so loved around here, by all ages.

Kindess matters...always.

(photos taken out of my kitchen window, unbeknownst to the two of them)


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