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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Jesus Loves Me This I Know for the pictures tell me so

In exactly five days little miss Teensy will be two...TWO!! I can not believe it. One of her greatest pleasures is to be in Bible Class and sing, especially now that her Momma is teaching her this quarter. These pictures were taken on Sunday and show just how much she loves her Bible Class. No need for comments, the pictures say it all.









Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Holding hands


This morning when I woke up I woke up resolved, I had made my mind up before I went to bed that I would have a certain attitude and be committed to a certain attitude. I would be lying if I said that I'm excited about the decision that my fellow Americans made. I'm not going to grab a stick and start a revolution, or talk to everyone I know about how horrible this situation is and what in the world are we going to do. That really wouldn't be very productive, now would it, nor would it solve anything. Instead I think resolution is in order. Especially as a Christian who has three small sets of eyes watching my reaction and my attitude. It's especially true when things don't go the way "I" want them to go, should I pout and scream and call forth doom and gloom? Not at all. I think I should be resolved to pray for this country and those who lead it. I should be resolved to pray for the leader of this country no matter what. I want my new President-elect to be safe and protected. So, I'll pray for him and pray that his leadership is a turning point.

I know that this election will be the topic of discussion as long as I live, it is truly one for the history books! There is no doubt that it was an historic election. I can remember feeling a sense of apprehension when my candidate didn't win the last time (1992) and looking back made a critical error in not praying for my president. I don't want to be guilty of ignoring some one's need for prayer based on the fact that "he's not the one I wanted to win."

It's over now, we move on, nothing has changed in my daily routine. As I drove to work this morning it really struck home with me that nothing in my normal routine has changed or possibly will change. Would have, could have, and should have are all things that have no power other than the power of distraction. If you are reading this today and feeling somewhat like I do, look out for yourself and pray for your president, he's going to need it. Pray for every member of government as Christ prayed for the members of His government that were crucifying him! We, Christians, are called to stand out and be different, let's not be different by being ugly and rude and not supporting the person we didn't choose.

Freedom is a sweet, wonderful and under appreciated liberty. I hear the bells of liberty ringing and know that the founding fathers of our country would be proud of the process and revelling in the ability our country has to give opportunity to all who seek it.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

These little piggies

Miss Emma woke up a little early on Monday and spent some time with Dad. She sang and played in our master bath while I was getting ready for work. I noticed that she had torn her big toenail and didn't want it to go into the quick so I sat down and said, "let's clip clip." She knows the drill when it comes to clip clip.

"See this nail? That can give you a boo boo, Daddy is going to clip it so you won't get a boo boo." I decided to go ahead and give her other toes some attention and clipped all 10 little piggies. Baby feet and baby toes just shut me down. They are the most precious, wonderful, delicious thing in all the world. Love those baby toes, especially when they are attached to my kiddos!

"Emma...one day you'll get to paint your toes pretty." I opened Kendra's make up drawer and pulled out her hot pink nail polish and said, "see this is pretty." Emma was illuminated and very excited at the thought, "pittty...pitty toes." Overcome by the moment I just went ahead and painted those little piggies. She galloped and clopped around the house saying, "pitty toes" the whole time. When Kendra got up, Emma ran over to her and said, "Momma...pitty toes." She was super proud of her toes!

This little girl just gets deeper and deeper into my heart more and more everyday!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Cow Patty Pond

Titus had Fall Break last Wednesday through Friday so Kendra and I decided to get away and go to Silver Dollar City. It has become our all-time favorite escape, we just love to go there and wander the day away. Of course going "home" means the logistics of seeing family comes into play and we have to do our best to get in our time with Mom and Dad My parents are divorced, have been since I was 21 We had a great time at the city, even though one day is not enough time to get everything in. Our family really needs at least two days. Titus was bummed because he only got to ride the train one time, we usually ride it a minimum of 3 times, which means we do the Mine Ride that many times as they are right next to each other.

I talked to Dad and told him we would be coming down to see him on Saturday afternoon. "Maybe Mr. T and I can go to the pon
d." My Dad, who loves to fish, is thrilled beyond his ability to express that Titus loves to fish with him. Dad doesn't get excited about much, but going fishing with his Grandson is one rare glimpse of him excited. When we got there Titus wasted no time in letting Dad know that he was ready. I had not even turned the van off before, "Poppa! Poppa! Let's get our pole and go fishin'" "I go to Poppa?" Levi was wanting in on the action. "Oh buddy, Poppa doesn't think he can handle both of you." My Dad has never changed a diaper in his life and has no clue what Levi is saying because his hearing is poor. Those two things are reason enough for him to leave Levi home with Graham and Mom. I decided to go along with them so Levi could go which made him very happy.

We drove about six miles to my Dad's friend, Schmidt's farm. My entire life I have never know any of my Dad's friends first name, just their last name which is kind of bizarre...is that just in my family? I don't call any of my friends by their last name. Anyway, this farm was in a very rural and remote area. "Turn here." "On this...path?" "It's their driveway, just turn in." It was a very bumpy, narrow, mile long path that led to their house. I could think of nothing other than how in the world they made it in and out of their house in the rain and snow and ice. I just couldn't get that wrapped around my brain. I noticed a sign that said, "Beware of Dog" and I usually like to heed such warnings. "Rock is a good dog." "You mean the one to beware of?" "That's just to scare people off." Turns out that Rock was a sweet, laid back black lab that belonged on this rural farm. Just pull up here on the grass out of the way.

"Where's the pond?" "We have to follow the trail to the pond." Call me crazy, but do YOU see a trail? I took this picture because I knew there was a blog post in the making. As Dad began to walk I did notice somewhat of a winding, worn, trail-ish path. I would not have found the pond had it not been for my Dad. This was not a horribly long walk, maybe a 1,000 feet or so. I almost forgot that there was a barbed wire fence to traverse before getting to the wooded area. I'm not a rugged Pioneer anything! I climb stairs, not fences. Why did the fence builder not put a gate up? I'm kind of a big guy, not as big as I used to be, but still 6'3" and 2noneofyourbeeswax is big. Dad stepped on one wire, then lifted the wire above it to make an opening. "Climb through." "Why don't they have a gate?" "Just climb through!" Needless to say, the first thing caught on this day was ME...by the fence. Snagged top and bottom, "you need to work on your fence climbing Son." "Very, very funny tell your friend he needs a gate."
There is something magical about seeing your Dad walk with your boys to participate in one of his most loved activities. When I became a Dad I hoped that my children would know thier Poppa and love him without reservation. My Dad is a great Poppa and my boys love him to death, Emma is in love with him too and next year this picture will have a bowed up Tom girl running ahead of them all!

The above picture is the cow pasture
just on the other side of the wooded area. You had to walk through this gate [now there's a gate!] to get to the pasture after going through the wooded area. Dad is holding Levi because cow's live in this pasture. And while the cows were not even remotely interested in being around us and were far, far away, the...shall we say...evidence of their presence was ALL around. Huge cow patties I'm talking about cow poop! were all over the place. "Dada...look mud!" "DON'T STEP IN IT LEVI...THAT'S NOT MUD! THAT'S POOP FROM A COW!" This completely undid my phobic son. He refused to walk any longer, why is any one's guess. Maybe he thought the poop would just jump on him or something, I don't know. All I know is he was OUT on walking on the ground that was covered in poop. "Poppa...hold me...dhat poo poo get me!"

The pond was really big. I was in charge of casting for Levi and Titus was hanging out with his Poppa learning from the master. I cast into the water, "We catch a fish da-da?" "I hope so, we have to reel it in." Levi began to call at the top of his voice, "Here Nemo! Here Nemo!" The goal was to cast the lure, which had a bobber attached, into the pond and slowly reel it in. Not too fast, not too slow. That's the part I never get, what is that speed? If you know, you know, if you don't you spend your entire day casting into water and getting nothing but carpal tunnel. By some miracle the first catch of the day was from Levi's pole! "You got a bite, bub! You caught a fish! Let's reel it in." Levi gave me the pole, it was that or throw the thing into the water and run away--fast. I finally reeled in the fish and lifted it out of the water, "Get dat away from me! I don't want dat fish, peas top da da. " This was followed by a blood curdling scream. Levi had finally, painfully made the connection that all of this casting into the pond would result in this slimy, yucky fish attached! He was out. Dad came over quickly excited that Levi had caught his first fish and the first fish of the day. He thought that standing by the fish would some how help him over the fear of touching it. NO such luck. Levi was, as you can see, standing as far away from the thing as possible. "Peas top put dat back in the wahter."

I think I caught three or four fish, which brought the amount of fish ever caught to a whopping 6. Titus hit his lucky streak and began to catch fish. I got a kick out of Titus because he thought every bump, every wiggle or ripple of the pole was a bite. He is really focused when he's i
nto something and he was into catching fish. The picture to the left is Titus first fish. Dad called it a bluegill, but Titus never got the hang of calling it that. "Poppa this bluetail...bluefish...what did you call it?" Bluegill are fun to catch because they resist. Catching fish is fun, it's the moments in between that drive me crazy. Titus had no problem getting the fish off the hook and throwing it back in the water. He eventually caught six before the boredom consumed him. "Let's go, Dad. I'm getting bored." There really wasn't much to do after that other than go home. I figured I didn't want to force him to stay longer than he was ready to preserve the love for this sport.

On the way back through the pasture Titus sang this:

Yippee Ci yeah
Cowpatty! Yuck!
I'm glad my boys have their Poppa and memories of fishing with him. These will last a lifetime and give them something to long for with their children. Only their Poppa, me, will be cooking and not walking through cow laid mine fields to ponds to fish. At least not as far as I can see.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Lord said...




Sunday was Noah's Ark day at church. Titus was really into the construction of the Ark and all of the details that went along with that. At lunch he told me he had drawn up some blue prints of the ark and would like to build an Ark when we got home. I agreed, having built 750 arks in my nearly 20 years of Children's Ministry work, piece of cake. I'm not sure what there is about Titus and his ability to completely dupe me into thinking what I've always done is what we will do at this particular moment--we didn't build just any ark...we had to build a 3-D ark that could house all of Levi's Little People Nativity animals and Mary and Joseph who would play the part of Noah and his wife. I was hoping that Titus would ask me who Noah's wife was and I would immediately tell him, "Joan...Joan of Ark" but it never happened. I'll save that tired old joke and keep it for later use.

Building an Ark in our house with the materials on hand was the challenge. We didn't have a supply of craft sticks (thank you Lord, the glue would still be drying) or shoe boxes...no, we had Kendra's supply of Scrapbook paper, scissors, Titus' blueprints, and a glue stick. My attempts to streamline this process went unsuccessfully, "Dad...I'm not trying to be angry at you, I'm...well I'm just not sure you are following the blueprint. I have it right here." Pressing on, with 6 year old mechanical engineer in charge. We built!

The first thing we did was build up the sides of the Ark. I folded the square scrapbook paper, carefully selected by the engineer because it looked the most like the wood that Noah used, "Titus how do you know what the wood Noah used looked like?" "DAD...my teacher told me and I saw the picture for myself in the Bible!" [thunk] "Sorry, just asking." The engineer and I laid down a floor, to match the roof--of course, and then folded about an inch of the side paper, gluing it to the floor. That made a good size U shape.

Next came the strips of paper we glued across the top of the boat to keep it from collapsing upon itself. It was pretty wobbly, but the strips of paper were enough to keep it all held up. After we glued the strips of paper on the top we had to make the roof, and glue more sides on the roof, "Dad, if there's no wall on top Noah and his family will get wet...it's going to rain for 40 days!" I'm really glad we were staying true to the exact specifications and needs for our Ark. After all, civilization lies in the balance of this boats ability to float!

After the top and sides were constructed, and the walls for Noah's house were built I had to think about how in the world I was going to get the sides of the boat to stick? I couldn't glue the razor thin edge of the paper because it wouldn't stick. What to do...what to do? Eureka! I took the square of paper, carefully cut by the engineer to be exact in size, and folded about an inch of the piece, gluing it on the floor. I made a flap which folded out and in and kept the sides pretty secure. Would the engineer buy it? Would the engineer be willing to accept that these sides are not secure and permanent? "Hey Bub, I put the sides of the boat he had excused his self to go to the little boys roomon for you. I made them fold down so...so you could put your animals in easier." "Thanks Dad, that's a great idea. The door isn't big enough for my animals, this is great."

The door was secured shut by one of Emma's hair clips. That engineer of mine! Beautiful, wonderful, creative imagination! You can barely see the pink clip, but it's there. After the animals were loaded into the Ark, Titus put it on his skateboard and played Noah for close to one and a half hours--the whole time we were at home between morning and evening worship services.

I don't know that this boat will survive the week, but I do know that the hour and a half we spent working on his creation, from his blueprint WILL last my lifetime of memories. Spending time with Titus as he opened his imagination up to full throttle is so fun to watch. His level of concentration when he is in full construction mode is unparalleled and a wonder to behold. I just am amazed at this creation of God. It gets me all excited to think about the wonderful things I'll get to do with Levi and Emma. Although Levi is my right hand in the kitchen, loves to crack those baby chicks!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Tripped out

Growing up my Mom and Dad were friends with one couple, Rodger and Nancy Schmidt. Rodger and Nancy lived in town and we lived outside of town in the pink asbestos tile house on Route 1. The Schmidt's would come over and play cards, or Mom and Dad would go over there and just hang out, sometimes we would all go over as a family. Rodger was a Forestry agent and Nancy worked in the office of a paper company in town.

Nancy and Mom decided to join Weight Watchers and commit to go to the meetings each week to help each other out. My wife does Weight Watchers today and let me tell you it has come a LONG way from 1975. Mom had to weigh every single item she put in her mouth which mostly consisted of tuna fish. I don't think that Mom stayed in it for long.

On one of the night's that Mom and Nancy were at their meetings, Dad and Rodger were tasked with keeping my sister and I alive until they got home. There was a Monday night movie coming on and Sis and I were looking forward to watching it. Dad and Rodger were going to hang out in the kitchen and talk about whatever they talked about. Sis and I wanted to munch on some popcorn, so Dad decided to pop us some popcorn. We popped the corn on the stove until I was a teenager. We had a glass bowl that we used for our popcorn because it held a batch of corn perfectly.

Our house was set up like a shotgun house. When you came in the front door you were immediately in the living room, my sister's room was to the right of that. If you kept walking straight through the living room you were in what we used as a family room, and then just beyond that was the kitchen. Mom and Dad's room was off the family room and our only bathroom connected Sis's room and Mom and Dad's room. I had a teeny tiny room off my parent's room. Our TV was in the living room.

Our kitchen table was up against the wall, which meant we always had to move it out for us to eat dinner. It was right by the door that led to the family room. Rodger was sitting at the place where Dad always sat with his legs stretched out, arms folded. Rodger always kind of grossed me out because he produced an inordinate amount of spit and usually had this white spit string connected to his top and bottom lip. As he talked it would stretch out then go back down. Not fun to watch but unavoidable to stare at!
I had the bowl of popcorn and was walking into the living room all ready for the movie. As I was walking Rodger moved his foot and tripped me. I am not graceful and do not rally from those kinds of things with any type of agility which mean I fell face forward with the popcorn bowl in hand. The bowl broke and apparently I slit my left arm through a big piece of glass, cutting it.

My left pinkie had a gash from the first crease to about a 1/2 inch into my palm. My elbow was opened up like a smile, white bone sticking out and all, about 8 inches. "Oh my God, Son!" "Oh crap!"

"LESA GET TOWELS NOW WILL CUT HIMSELF!!"

"What happened...oh no, Mom's going to kill you."

"Get the damn towels now!!!"

"[Rodger] I'm so sorry are you ok?"

The heavy trail of blood from the kitchen into the family room was now pooling up and towel after towel was not stopping the bleeding. I think I was in shock because I don't remember ever crying one time. Maybe I should go with pure toughness and true grit? Who'd believe that, I was is shock."

"Lesa you stay here for your Mom. Rodger go start the car we have to go to the hospital. RODGER GO GET THE CAR!!"

"Right car, on my way."

"Daddy is he going to die? I'm scared Dad."
"Sis it's going to be OK, just wait here for Mom and tell her what happened. We'll be home as soon as we can."

We lived about 20-25 minutes outside of town and arrived in about 8 minutes. We lived in a small town and our hospital didn't really have an emergency room. Rodger pulled up to the South entrance. At this entrance of the hospital you had to climb two flights of stairs to get to the floor that led to the after hours care place. Dad made those 50 plus steps in about three bounds. He wasn't going to lose his only son, still bleeding like crazy.
Mom and Nancy showed up from their meeting and walked into the house to find my sister on the couch pale and a stream of blood that led from the front door to the kitchen with a large pool of blood in the family room. My Mom's first thought was that a robber had broken in and killed me and Dad while Rodger hid in the closet and sis hid under her bed. Mom's good at keeping a calm head and not jumping to conclusions like...say...murder--NOT.

"Oh my God...what happened here!"

"Mom...mom...Will is hurt bad...he cut his arm and bled and bled."

"Where is he where's your Dad."

"At the hospital."

I was rushed into an exam room and the Doctor on call was called. It was Dr. Olive, the resident allergist. He was a full fledged Doctor, but didn't really work on anything other than allergies. As he walked in he saw me and said, "what happened here.?"

"He and cut his arm when the bowl broke he was carrying. Is he going to be ok?"

"Oh yes, we'll take care of him."
"It's going to be ok, bud. The doctor's going to fix you up."

I always and still do have complete and total lack of fear when I'm with my Dad. He takes every care and concern away and i just feel safe and invincible. Dad was stroking my hair back and holding my hand. I was on the crunchy paper of the exam table just bleeding.

The doctor came back in and put three shots directly into the open wound on my elbow and two shots in my pinkie. "Let's give this a minute to deaden then I'll come back to stitch you up." When he came back in he told Dad I should turn away and look at him until it was sowed up. The beauty part of this is that I watched the whole thing in the reflection of my Dad's glasses.
I wore a bandage for about two weeks or more, maybe more. Dr. Olive did a really bad job stitching up my pinkie and now I can't completely close my pinkie and you can see a fold at the bend of my pinkie right at the palm. There are times that my pinkie will tingle and feel like it's asleep. I don't want to get surgery done to fix it because I fear it might make it worse.

As a 5 year old who just went through this horrible thing, it made it all better when my Robba took me to McDonald's for a Big Mac and fries...royal treatment for a royally horrible experience.

The pictures are of my elbow scar and pinkie scar as of today. As you look at my hand that is as far as I can close my pinkie to my ring finger, you can also see the crease, I wasn't bending my finger in this shot.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Suasage Cheddar Chowder

This is the time of year when the mood for soup hits. Head on over to Spoon by Spoon for a great soup, Sausage Cheddar Chowder.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Down...Set...Munch! Munch! Munch!

I'm still trying to get Spoon by Spoon integrated into my brain, so bare with me and come on over to see about a great dip--I'm not talking about my Sister either, although she is a dip and a great person so she's a great dip too, just not one that we'll talk about here.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I spring you spring we all spring for scoops!

Come over to Spoon by Spoon and find out what all the fuss is about.

Friday, September 12, 2008

I have a new friend

It's Spoon by Spoon my new blog dedicated to nothing but food. I may go on a tear about a restaurant, post a recipe, talk about spring loaded scoops, food stuff. I'm excited about it, too. I hope to do a series, inspired by other blogs called, "cook the book", in which I cook recipes from my favorite cookbooks. I love cookbooks and reading them is a delight.

I've posted my first recipe there and hope you stop by. Tell your friends about me too, love to have them join the fun. Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

I'm SO buying a ticket!


I just don't know how much more I can take. It all started when I was awarded a great...award for my blog from Sherri at Tied Up In Ribbons which was so, so nice. Then, if that weren't enough, by the blessings of cyberfriendships and networking, Cindy who owns the Dove's Nest in Waxahacie, TX awarded me a cookbook from her restaurant that I've been wanting for ever. I was thrilled to know that this cookbook is on it's way to ME from THE author! Too much to handle, just too much. That book is in the care and custody of the USPS and I hope I am not among the casualties of dropped mail. I can't wait!

I had mentioned that I should buy a lottery ticket because the week was just so fun and wonderfully going my way. Well, hang on to your hat because it gets better!

This afternoon as I was eating my BowlAppetite! for lunch all the ladies, except one who is home with a migraine--ouch sorry for that and hope you are feeling better Jamie--, came into my office and handed me an envelope. I was wondering what was going on...it wasn't my birthday or my anniversary...I hadn't been fired (I didn't think) so it was all very curious. The card was a thank you for the support, friendship and work I do with them as part of our team. Very sweet card. But, there was waiting inside a beautiful piece of paper which read:

Will, You are a star with us!! You will soon be receiving the latest and greatest cookbook of all times--BAREFOOT CONTESSA BACK TO BASICS.
Can you believe it. Can you believe how sweet and awesome and kind that was of them to think of me and enough to buy me that book. It's being released on 10/28 and I can not wait to get it. I just can't wait. The good thing is I'll have already read and digested the Dove's Nest and be all geared up for another book.

I'm so buying a ticket this week. This is just great, absolutely great. I'm thrilled, beyond words thrilled that these two babies are coming home with me--soon.

I have decided to launch (listen to me say the word, launch like some mogul) a new blog called, "Spoon by Spoon" which will be a blog dedicated to nothing but cooking and cooking related duke. [Duke is what I say to mean stuff pertaining to] I hope to get some good pictures of food, the process of making said wonderful food, and just chat about it. I love reading food blogs and love even more cooking and such. I plan to definitely make recipes out of each of these wonderful books, and think I may work my way through the cookbook I wrote. There are just so many great recipes out there to make.

Now, here's the question...friends. How does one who has two blogs make each on connectible? Is that even a word? When I post on Spoon by Spoon I'll just post and have a link on Teensyand the boys? Two blogs, what am I thinking.

If I win the lottery, the next blog post will be from the Homestead in Hot Springs, VA. This is my dream vacation. I went there about 10 years ago and man oh man was it nice. I still remember everything about it and have longed to return. It's just wonderful and beautiful and the food...oh the food was delicious. It's my #1 spot for a dream vacation. I'll be staying in the presidential suite or a month long vacation. Kendra will be at the Spa having all kinds of people rub her in ways she's only dreamed of. That girl loves a massage! Pedicures, manicures, those rock things...she'll be in hog heaven. Me, I'll be wandering and eating, watching people and wondering how a place like this can actually exist.
Hasn't this been a fun week! It's not even over yet and it's a fun week.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

I'd like to thank the Academy


Actually I'd Like to thank Sherri from Tied Up In Ribbons for honoring my blog with it's very first award! I have to tell you that this has been a banner week for my blog. First I was given this award, which is awesome. I'm not used to getting awards so this was something that really touched me. Thanks Sherri for reading my posts and even more for remembering me enough to give me an award. How great was that? Second, I found out that the author of the cookbook I've been wanting for over ten years is actually coming to my house. That's right the author read my post and is sending me the cookbook! That's two, count them, TWO wonderful things to happen all in a week. Maybe I should decide to buy a lottery ticket this week...hmmm.

Awards don't usually come my way. I can remember in grade school getting these awards for most polite and stuff like that, but never anything given to me based on effort or merit. The fact that I wasn't a jerk and actually feel compelled to be nice and not ugly brought me that award. I lived most of my grade school life scared to death of people and socializing. I was a really shy kid and didn't really ever mix it up with a group. If a group of kids were playing in a center I never felt the compulsion to join them. It just wasn't in me. As a matter of fact, to this day I don't walk up to a full table and join in, it's just not in me. I would rather sit at an empty table and let those who join in, join in. That's kind of a freaky thing isn't it, or is it? I'm not very extroverted. There are aspects of my job which require me to be extroverted, but it is certainly not natural. I have total empathy and instant compassion for those children who just don't fit in or find it hard to assimilate to a setting--they are me and I get it.

When I was in 5th grade we had a spirit week type thing and one of the days was Best Dressed. It was on the last day of the week and the whole school was in an assembly for those who made the cut for best dressed. I decided to wear a suit. I went all out, no holds barred on this day. I even took a bath! This suit was a heavy weave, double polyester job. Light tan plaid, with a dark brown matching plaid tie. I thought I was the epitome of style and fashion. As a matter of fact I even wore brown socks! I think every single person in the school was shocked by the fact that I bathed, had socks that weren't white, and wore a tie! I was 10 and wearing a tie...at school...WHAT WAS I THINKING.

I have this memory of me standing on the stage in front of the entire school thinking, "why in God's name did I do this... I never in a million years thought I would be picked" The faculty panel had us all walk up and show them our attire. One teacher asked to see my tie more closely so I leaned down and held the tie out so he could see it. Turns out the kids in school who made fun of me had a whole arsenal of ammunition after that and really poured on the torment. I was used to being made fun of, it really didn't bother me because I really could have cared less about what they thought of me. Had I care I would have been devastated, but I really had no desire to be in their company or their friend and their opinion of me didn't matter one iota. Looking back I can see how that drove them crazy, my indifference to their stupidity, because I never reacted to them. I didn't know I was doing the right thing, I just didn't care if they were here or there they meant nothing to me.

I wound up winning for best dressed 5th grade boy. The honor bestowed upon me was just that, the honor of being best dressed boy. No certificate...no name in the paper...no shiny new car or life time supply of Rice-A-Roni, just the title. I felt a sense of pride deep within, just knowing that I had accomplished something made me feel great.

Now that I am an adult I find that I'm more sensitive to what others think about me. I've really ridden a roller coaster in my relationship to this blog and those who read. There was a phase when I felt that comments would identify this blog as a making it's place in cyberspace. I'm beyond that, sort of. I also signed up for Google Analytics which is this cool little widget thing that shows page views, what posts are most popular (Playing Opossum is the most viewed-who knew), etc. I haven't ever hit the 40 mark on visits, but I'm into the 500's on views, so that's kind of good. I'm resigned to being a blogger for the sake of telling stories and know that there are tens of people who read this blog weekly if not checking it daily. So I tell the stories that come to me and I'll have a great time doing it. I just need to channel that part of me in 5th grade that was immune to the taunts of others because I wasn't influence by them in any way.

Having said all of that I would like to share with you my TOP 5 Favorite Blogs, and hope that you will stop by and visit them soon. They really are great.

5. Ramblings of a Frantic Home Cook

This blog is a hoot. I love the way she writes and really love the food she makes. I have adopted her Amish Snickerdoodles as the snickerdoodle recipe of choice. Snickerdoodles are one of the most sentimental cookies in my life, my Mom's favorite, and the recipe I've always made is the recipe I know she loves. These babies, though, bumped them right out of the place. This is a great food blog. As a matter of fact, I would like to make my blog a little more food oriented, if that's ok.
4. Memaw Bakes Memories
This blog is great, too. I love how Memaw writes and even more that fact that she is doing her part to call us to be better people, on account. Her posts are all about her life and what's going on in her world. She has poignant posts, funny posts, general things about her life, but she digs deep to make her writing meaningful. I can tell she is pouring out her soul and connecting to her audience. I don't really know how Memaw found my space, but she commented which led me to go to her blog--we had the same format for a while-and I've been hooked ever since. She's in my Google reader and I always read her posts, usually try to go visit her blog and comment when I can. But I do read every post the minute I know it's up. Memaw is also the winner of my only Giveaway-ever. She won a cookbook that I wrote. When you visit, say I said hello.


3. Author Suzanne McMinn (Chickens in the Road)
I can't say what attracts me to this blog, but I really can't stop reading it. Suzanne McMinn is an author (aren't you glad I have the uncanny ability to point out the obvious? You are welcome) who writes romance novels. This website is dedicated to her journey back to her family homestead and her homestead state. She lived in a 100 year old farmhouse for a while and built her own home, which is really nice. Now she tells the ups and downs of establishing a farm--out of nothing. I get a kick out of reading her stories involving the addition of chickens, goats, a huge dog named Coco, and also the rest of the stories about her children. One very interesting thing about her is that she identifies her regular stars by number (Her sons, 15 & 17, her friend 51, and then Princess--the only girl child). It's a kick. The recipes that she posts sound good, and are really nostalgic Appalachian recipes that touch a part of my history with food. My Granny was an Appalachian cook. She is curious but I think, if I knew here we'd be friends. It's a lot of fun and a great place to see--she posts daily. I found her via my #1 favorite place to go. She sponsored a link on this page and the name was curious. One visit later I was hooked.
2. Posie Gets Cozy
I really want to be Andy and Alicia's friend or relative. She has the most exquisite writing style and I find myself reading her posts over and over. I was completely crushed when her dog, Audrie, contracted cancer and passed away suddenly. It just ripped my heart out. This was her baby, her child, and I mourned with her as she wrapper her heart around the grief she felt. She is the most accomplished seamstress, kneedleworker, quilter I have ever seen. It's just a great website. She also posts delicious food recipes, and has some super interesting crafts that I really wish I could make. When Mildred first directed me to her blog, Andy Paulson did a guest post about egg rolls I still want to make, I read posts from the very beginning to current and haven't missed a day or a post yet. As a matter of fact it was Andy Paulson's post about egg rolls that inspired Mildred to want to post which made me want to post and so it's all Andy Paulson's fault/credit that I'm blogging. Worth your time, even if you find you aren't interested in her craft. She writes the most beautiful posts, I love her wording. It is her craft at writing that I admire the most.


1. Confessions of a Pioneer Woman
This is my hands down absolute favorite blog--hands down. I've followed this blog ever since I knew blogs existed. I've read every post, studied every picture, salivated over every recipe. Her blog has been radically transformed from several sites to one mammoth site that is amazing. She incorporates a cooking page, photography page, home and garden page, and general page. I love reading about her punks, her husband who she adores, and her antics. She has led quite a life let me tell you. She has a way of telling a story that draws you in and connects you to her life. You may as well be sitting on her leather sofa in the middle of her ranch drinking coffee, it's that familiar. I've laughed out loud which I don't do often when reading. She hosts contests and I always enter hoping to win, but when over 10,000 people enter her contest your chances are slim and none! I get keyed up when I know I'll be away from the computer for a couple of days because I'll miss the Pioneer Woman! I'm hooked, like a fish. It's really great.


There are many other blogs I read, I really need to put that thing on the side of blogs I like so you can go shop around. It's really fun to browse blog land. You can copy that award to your page, if you want, or not.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Still holding my breath


My enthusiasm over Ina's cookbook release, next month is overshadowed by the MOST amazing surprise and I am just thrilled! In this post I mentioned my long, long, standing desire to possess, "The Dove's Nest" cookbook. It's one of those things I have no clue why I never bought it because I have wanted it for years.

Last night, as I was reading through email posts, after a VERY long day, I was shocked to see three comments on my blog posts!!! Comments...on my blog? Memaw is really the faithful lone commenter on my posts, so to have three was just amazing. [Thanks Memaw for dropping a comment my way, for some reason it does matter to me to have comments left, even though it's not why I write, it is certainly something that I look forward to.]

Two comments left were from Sherri, who has been reading my posts for quite some time, came by way of Mildred. Her blog is great, she's super talented and her new blog format is Awesome. Click on over and see all of her amazing work, it's really cool. I've added her to my Google Reader--can I just say I love that thing!-and will be reading her pages for faithfully. The third post/comment blew me away and made me tear up! It was from...are you ready for this? It was from the Owner of the Dove's Nest and this is what she had to say:

"I am Cindy Burch, the owner and author of The Doves Nest Restaurant and cookbook in Waxahachie, Texas. A friend sent me the link to your blog and I am thrilled that you love my recipes. As a thank you for posting my book on your blog site, I would love to send you your very own copy. Please send me your address and I will ship a copy to you ASAP. Thanks again and I hope you can visit us in Waxahahcie soon. We were listed in the May issue of Southern Living as one of the best exits off Interstate 35...from Oklahoma to Laredo. So come on down.....
www.thedovesnestrestaurant.com"
I have to say I was stunned and moved to tears. This is huge...to me who NEVER has this happen. I'm just absolutely positively thrilled and excited that I'm getting this cookbook! And it's coming from the author, who will put it in an envelope and mail it and send it to me!!! I just can't believe it. So, I will now eat my words and say...I'M GOING TO WAXAHACIE,TX JUST TO EAT AT THE DOVE'S NEST! I can't wait to go. First on my list is to, locate Waxahacie, then the rest is down hill from there.

Sherri at Tied up in Ribbons also gave me an award for my blog...its' a good month for this blog! I'm trying to figure out the etiquette to accepting awards and all that, I'm really new to blog land and I don't want to offend the hand full of people who read my posts. Sherri, how do I do it? What do I do? Show me the way.

I will for sure be telling you ALL about this book when I get it. I'm holding my breath!!



Friday, September 5, 2008

Who let the DOGS out...


Last night Titus and I went to a Pizza Party for a program Country Lane Elementary has called "Watch D.O.G.S.". I first saw this when we were filling out the myriad of papers and forms at Orientation--there were a lot of papers! I saw this D.O.G.S. and was immediately curious and signed up to be part of it. The Country Lane PTA is sponsoring this program but gave no other information about what it was. All I knew is that fathers and father figures were encouraged to volunteer one day a year to work with the school.

It was really great to see Titus get all excited upon seeing his new friends. Friends whose parents I didn't know, friends who did not attend the church where I work, friends...honest to goodness classmates. It was cool. He was running around the room, "Dad, there's Gracie...can I go say hi?" "Sure." "Dad, there's Connor...can I go say hi?" "Sure." "Dad move over Connor wants to sit by me." "Ok" I got to meet Patrick, Connor's Dad. Titus was working the room and living it up. I also heard other kids call his name and wave, he enthusiastically waved back and said hi. There was a part of me that was sad that I am missing this part of Titus life, but the other part of me was really, really excited that he was being himself and working the crowd.

I digressed. Back to Watch D.O.G.S. This is a national initiative sponsored by the Fathers.com website. The acronym stands for Dad's Of Great Students. Basically this program was inspired by a father whose child was in the horrible Jonesboro, Arkansas school shooting and wanted to do something. You can read about the nightmare on that campus here. This Dad started a program in which Father's and Father figures work one day of the school year and patrol the school, added security basically.

It's just one more feather in the cap for this school. I'm very impressed with all of the efforts that this school is going to to make themselves rise and be an empowering place in which students and families are called to be more, expect more, and do more in their town. It's a warm blanket in this cold world.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Meet the Teacher


Last night Kendra and I went to our very first meet the teacher night at Country Lane. We were anxious to "meet" the teacher to say the least, well I was but I'm so easily keyed up by new experiences it's laughable. We got there twenty minutes early and didn't go to the room because we didn't want to interfere.

It's not been the smoothest start to our public school experience, but we are holding out hopes that the hill won't be quite as steep as it's been. It's nothing that the school has done, just the way we, well ok Titus, are adjusting to a school environment and the rules that come.

Mrs. Dunnam is teaching Titus, and has been very impressive. We have been in an almost daily email conversation with her about how we can help improve the adjustments Titus is making in class, at home. After last night I was even MORE impressed with her and saw the passion she had for teaching kids. My love for this school increased exponentially after last night--I'm so please that we live in the area that allows us to go to Country Lane.

One of the most impressive elements of our school is their Expectations curriculum which is being taught school wide. Here is the description of the expectation model, from the Country Lane wed page:


" The Great Expectations® teaching methodology is an eclectic approach to teaching that encompasses the very best of what is known about teaching today. Drawing from many learning theories, teachers do whatever it takes to teach students through an integrated holistic method. Students become self-directed learners, productive citizens, effective communicators, critical thinkers, and cooperative contributors in the classroom as well as society."
The basic tenants of this model, again taught school-wide are:

"All Children Can Learn

Building Self-Esteem

Climate of Mutual Respect

High Expectations

Teacher Attitude and Responsibility

Teacher Knowledge and Skill"


Is it just me, or is this impressive? I'm very impressed with this teaching model. Mrs. Dunnam said that every student will learn eight expectations and be able to recite them, as they will be living them. As a minister, I know that anything I want children to really, honestly, learn must be modeled before it's absorbed, applied, and implemented into their life.

I really can't say I remember my school, South Elementary, being concerned about this--character development. I have good memories of my school and loved it, but just don't remember ever hearing about citizenship and responsibility, etc. I'm so glad that my children will be influence by educators and in an environment in which accountability for actions, attitudes and expectations are clearly in place and modeled by all staff.

Kendra and I are looking forward to being involved with this school and will most likely be neck deep involved before too long, but that energy will not be wasted because I know this school is more concerned about Titus being a good human than it is about a test score. What a relief.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Hold Your Breath!

Can I just tell you that I'm about to pop! Ina Garten is quite possibly my all-time favorite TV food personality. There was a time that Paula Deen was that person who stood on the pedestal of perfection, but she has fallen off. I still like her and still love her when she goes back to the recipes that inspired my love for her.

In spite of Paula's evolution into stardom, Ina has evolved and yet not changed. She has continued to stay the course and allow what she wants to shape her into being the Barefoot Contessa. My stomach is rumbling with that awkward confrontational feeling I get, please understand that I'm not slamming Paula Deen, I just see a huge difference in how each have embraced the celebrity endorsements.

I'm not a reader. The only book I've ever really read is the Bible (so that would be 66 books, right?) because I'm just not a reader. My Mom is a reader. Having said that, if you give me a cookbook I'll read it cover to cover and absorb every recipe trying to figure out how I can change it to suit my tastes. Do you do that? Do you change a recipe the minute you read it, knowing just how to make it your own? I've read hundreds of cookbooks and even more recipes, thousands of recipes. There's just something about cooking and putting together ingredients that make me feel inspired and full of hope. Love to cook.

Ina's cookbooks have a warmth that make you feel like you are reading your favorite Aunt's cookbook that she mailed you, "in advance" [Ina, if you happen to stumble upon this post and fell the compulsion to mail your...favorite nephew and autographed copy please do not hesitate] she has a great style of writing that invites you into her heat and opens you up to the passion that compels her toward another cookbook. The photography is worthy of a coffee table book and gives you great photographs. Some cookbooks make me feel like another person made the dish, say a food stylist, then dolled it all up like a Glamour shot, it's not real. With Ina's photographs I feel like she made the dish, handed it to the photographer and said, "it's ready."

There are some recipes in her cookbooks that I don't have any desire to cook, as it's not in my palate, but there aren't many of those. I've made several of her roasted vegetables, creme' brulee, brownies, cheesecakes, you name it. I just avoid the dishes that seem exotic or "gourmet" and any that have "ocean" things (salmon, shrimp, tuna, fish blech) just not a seafood fan.

I'll have to count my change and shake the couch out to see if I can come up with $35 plus shipping to get this book. Her web page is advertising the release date and offering a signed book...a signed book...to know that Ina Garten touched my book and signed it...actually put her hand on the page and signed her name...well I'd be giddy just giddy. Not as giddy as when Kendra and I were on our honeymoon and I hit a jackpot on the $.25 slots--that was giddy.

I have few vices and do few things to distract me from the schedule and routine commitments of my life. I don't follow, enjoy, or play sports. I don't "hang out" with anyone other than my wife and kiddos. I just don't do anything except pine away for cookbooks and cooking--that I love. Oh yes, and Ventinonfatnowhipwhitemocha's please stir that's a vice I crave and love love love. There's one other cookbook I've wanted for over 10 years and I just haven't bought it, I've dropped it in many an in basket on Amazon over the years, but never have bought it, why? Exactly, why? I guess it's the guilt I feel of indulging in something strictly for myself. I do that...a lot. I'll pick something up and walk around the whole store just waiting for the time to purchase and get it home only to be overcome with guilt and lay it down secretly, skulking out of the store. I start feeling guilty when I rummage through a store for more than twenty minutes, just looking, because I feel like I should buy something. It's a problem. Just add it to the list.

The Dove's Nest is a restaurant in Waxahachie, TX. I've never been to this restaurant or to Waxawhatever, but I have read this cookbook and devoured many of the delicious recipes within. I'd love to go to this restaurant, but won't make a trip to just do that. Someday. Maybe. My friend and fellow foodie, Kay Runnels who was my favorite person on staff at Heritage/Midtown had this cookbook and let me read some excerpts. I was and have been hooked ever since. To get this cookbook would be amazing. Why I haven't bought this book remains a mystery. Isn't it really cool looking, I just love this french Provencal style. Would love to have my kitchen look just like that (minus the live chickens and bunny running around).

I have started a wish list at Amazon.com and if I ever win the lottery I'll buy it right up. I have to start playing the lottery and get over this feeling of guilt.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Creative Cooking: Five Gallons of Bacon Gravy coming up!

Growing up my sister and I were always at odds with one another. We fought quite a bit and it usually got out of hand as my parents were gone most of the time. Sometimes the fights got really ugly, but usually I would just back off because...well because she was tough as nails and could kick my tail!

When she got engaged, on the night she graduated High School, and began to plan the wedding I was thrilled at the thought of having her out of the house! I couldn't wait to get rid of her! She got married in August and I was finally free of the oppression. I was uninvited to the wedding...on the DAY of the wedding...because I refused to part my hair. I had a Beatles hair style and I agree that I looked like a dork, but that's how I rolled in 1984. I had showered and washed my hair for the occasion what more did she want! Mom and Dad made her take it back, she did reluctantly but reminded me of just how much she hated my guts.

About a month after being married the realization set in that she was married and that she was alone most of the time and that it wasn't as much fan as June Cleaver had made it out to be. One of the biggest drudgeries of her life was that of cooking. She hated to cook and has hated it ever since. I love my sister, but the girls is challenged in the kitchen. Her husband, Doug, has a Mom that is a great cook so I'm sure he was adjustign to life in his house with a bad cook. Sis just couldn't pull it off. She could pull off breakfast and they, often times, ate breakfast for dinner. It was also cheap and they were flat broke!

On one occasion when she was planning her breakfast dinner she decided to really go over the top and serve gravy. Bacon, biscuites, gravy, scrambled eggs what more could a husband want from a young, beautiful wife? One problem, she didn't have a clue how to make gravy. She didn't call me ( granted we had come a LONG way to being friends and liking each other by this time, but I could make gravy!) or my Mom, or my Grandmother, no she called the MIL because she thought her new hubby would love gravy just like Mom made.

"Vera? this is Lesa, I'm making gravy for dinner..."
"Gravy? Oh, are you having roast for dinner, how nice."
"No, no roast I'm cooking breakfast for dinner we are having-"
"Breakfast! For dinner?"
"Yes. Anyway I need to know how to make bacon gravy."
"...Ok. Is the grease in the pan?"
"Yes."
" Well honey, just sprinkle flour over the hot grease until it gets kindly thick, then add milk and bring it to a boil until it's thick and that's it. Don't forget to add salt and pepper."
"That's all you do?"
"That's it."
"Ok, well, thanks for your help."

My sister had fried a whole pound of bacon and thus had a pound's worth of bacon grease in the skillet. Vera failed to check on how much bacon grease there was in the skillet and my sister, being completly oblivious to the ratio required to achieve bacon gravy didn't think about asking, didn't ask. A pound of fried bacon will yield up to 1/4 cup of grease, maybe more. Bacon gravy requires maybe a tablespoon. There are 16 tablespoons in a cup! My sister was about to make eight times the amount of gravy she needed. She added about two cups of flour before it started getting thick enough to add milk, a gallon of milk! My brother in law was home by now and starving to death. My sister had used every pot, pan, and skillet in her kitchen and it was still not thick enough to make the right amount.

"I'm starving!"
"Honey, I'm working on it...dinner is almost ready."
"What are you doing?"
"I"m making gravy."
"Just get it out here, I'm starving."

The biscuits that were covered with gravy filled her plate. Doug, not wanting to hurt her feelings ate very single bite of the revolting sludge that she called gravy, and complimented her on it! And a half pound of bacon along with some scrambled eggs. No milk though because it was used up in the gravy making process.

About 2am my brother in law became sick. Sicker than he has ever been in his life! He had eaten so much gravy...bacon grease diluted with flour and milk...that he became violently ill. He vomited for almost a solid hour. He was sick, friends, sick as a dog. My sister called Vera, again [she did finally learn to NOT call Vera] and informed her that her son, her baby ripped from her home by this brazen hussy, had become ill. No less than thirty minutes later Vera was on the door step (they lived in another town) crying her eyes out. Black tears streaming down her perfectly done made up face. She had saltine crackers, sprite, and chicken soup for her baby and pretty much tended to her baby while my sister learned how to get...uh..."bacon grease, flour, milk, biscuites, milk, and eggs that have been partially digest by her husband" out of the carpeting that led to their bathroom.

My brother in law, 24 years later, is still not eating gravy-bless his heart. My sister has mastered a few things and managed to keep her family alive. She and I do talk about cooking on occasion and I've walked her through a couple of recipes, but I make sure I know how much of what we are dealing with. Bless her heart.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

I'll take that Hot Pink number!

Tomorrow marks the first week of our entry into Public School as Titus, our oldest, has begun kindergarten. Last week we only had one day of school, which is rather odd to me but, "who am I?" So far I would have to give the whole experience a B+. As far as the teacher Titus has, and his class, that's an A. I'll explain the rest (you were afraid I would weren't you?)

Country Lane is one of, it not the biggest elementary school in Broken Arrow. There are currently 1,000 students at Country Lane, which is fine, except each of those 1,000 students have PARENTS! On the same piece of land there is also THE middle school for the district, which has I can only imagine how many students, AND they are just completing a new building to house ALL of the 5th and 6th grade students. It's astonishing, really. Even more astonishing is that these, soon to be 3 schools have made ONE entrance, that's right one.

We live close enough to drop Titus off and pick him up from school each day. We were issued this hot pink number to put into our car so we could get 129 when we rolled up (he's a number!). The drill to pull as far forward as possible, until the teacher stops you, then have your child put into your car and pull off. When and only when you pull all the way forward will you and four cars behind you get your children. This is clearly stated and clearly the way to keep things smooth as there is one way in and one way out. Of course there are parents who feel like they are an exception or order and muck up the whole dad gummed process. Kendra waited in line from 3:20 until 4:15 because there were morons not following the rules.

I think if I were the principle I would have to go up to these no participatory parents and not allow them to be in the pick up line any more--it's over! "Sir, hi, I'm the school principle here and we are trying desperately to get these children picked up so we can go home and see our families. You have cause serious delays in this and we are no longer allowing you to pick up your child, I'll take that hot pink number. If you child doesn't ride the bus, you are welcome to park and come check your child out." Wouldn't that be great?

The whole school is magnetically sealed. The doors all lock by magnet and NO ONE is getting into the building before 8:30--NO ONE. I had to take snacks to school as part of our agreement to help Mrs. Dunnam (Titus' teacher) out. Titus had also not been relieved of his school supplies and was toting them to and from every day. I wanted to walk these into the room, set them down, and walk out--that's all. Let's just say that's not what happened, thus the deduction in points.

It seems that if there are two secretaries in the Elementary school office, then one will be sweet, helpful, and kind while the other is pissy, belligerent, and rude. This was the case at Country Lane. I would love to have a sticker that I can wear the first month that says, "New Parent...Be Nice." that way Miss Pissy would know to call up all of her grace and patience and fake the nice for five minutes.

"Can I help you?" "Yes, I'm here to sign in so I can drop off snacks and supplies for my son's class...and also need to drop him off at the gym to wait for school." Miss Pissy vaguely points to a corner to which I turn my glance in that direction. "Sign in." I knew I was supposed to, but didn't know WHERE in the office. I signed in turned and went out the door to the hallway and tried to pull the door open to get into the school. It wouldn't budge. I looked into the office where Miss Pissy was with a, "push the button and let me in." look...nothing. "You have to wait until 8:30 to get in NO ONE gets in until 8:30." Why didn't she just say that before! I stood at the door and pulled on it?

At 8:39 as I sat there staring at her she looked as Miss Nice, "can HE go take that stuff to the classroom or not?" "Sir may I help you?" "I'm just trying to drop off these supplies for my son, and leave him in the gym so I can get to work." "Thank you for doing this. Why don't you just leave these things here and I'll take them to her room. Who was it?...thank you. If you would, please take your son to the gym, if you would go outside. Thank you." "You are welcome." It really wasn't that hard, Miss Pissy could have done that at 8:15!! The snack weren't delivered until 2 HOURS after snack time!!! GRRRRR. I won't be doing that again I can assure you!

Part of me wants to be involved in the school and part of me doesn't. I know I will, and Kendra too, but I just don't' know how much. Now if they need someone to take pink numbers...SIGN ME UP!!!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

First things first.

Yesterday was, "Meet the Teacher" day at Country Lane Elementary for our oldest boy, Mr. Titus Andrew. He's starting Kindergarten on Friday and will be in testing today. Not sure what they will be testing, but I feel confident that my little boy is more than ready to start school. I'm not sure I'M ready for him to start school, but he's ready especially after yesterday.

As we walked the halls of his new elementary and Kendra's and my new elementary (in which we'll be lurking about until Teensy gets our of 5th grade which will be in about 9 years...I'll be on a scooter by then I'm sure) I couldn't help but be reminded of my days in school and the excitement of the first day of school. For me, it was a big event not because I would meet new friends or make new friends, but because it mean school lunch, new clothes, new supplies, and the bus ride with Matt, my one and only elementary friend.

My parents never let me wear the new clothes until the start of school. "Those are for school...no you can't wear them." I would always get three new pair of jeans, seven shirts, two packs of underwear, two packs of socks, new shoes, and a belt. We usually went to Sears for clothes or JC Penny. I can still remember the smell of my room with all those newly dyed clothes fuming up the place. Oh how I loved that smell. I didn't want to wash my new clothes before I wore them because I wanted people to know I had new clothes. I almost always got t-shirt (not many with printed stuff just basic colors and stripes) and not polo type shirts. My jeans were those Sears tough skin jeans. I found this photo of an ad in the Sears archive. I owned one of those leisure suits...hey it was the 70's and Dennis Weaver (McCloud) was cool!
Toughskin jeans are a phenomenon, let me just tell you. I think they are made with barbed wire and steel cable because these suckers are super...well tough. Wearing toughskins new was an experience because they were stiff as all get out. When you sat down in your toughskins they would sometimes pinch your parts and boy did that hurt, especially the back of your thighs. No matter the pain I had new jeans and was going to show them off. The flip side of this is that you have to wash toughskin jeans no less than 650 times before any fading begins to occur, and another 3004 times before they begin to feel worn in and comfortable. Kevlar has nothing on toughskin. My jeans were bright blue, no other color was acceptable because they wouldn't be blue jeans now would they?
Every Sunday my Dad would read the lunch menu for the week to me and I hung on his every word. "Monday: Pizza, golden buttered corn, cookie, milk." "MMMMMM" "Tuesday: Chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes, cream gravy, seasoned greed beans, congealed salad, milk" "OH MMMMM that will be a good one can't wait for Tuesday." I went on like that every Sunday until 5th grade. I loved school lunch. I loved that every little thing was in it's own little compartment. I loved those lunch ladies all dolled up in their white suits. My lunch ladies all wore their own aprons and not the plastic ones of today. They were so nice, but I had the meanest nastiest grandmother--ever so lunch ladies seemed like Marry Poppins to me!
Me and sis always had to get ourselves up and ready for the bus. Mom and Dad were long gone by the time we rolled out of bed. My dad, in elementary school, would always lay out my clothes on the recliner. He laid them out as if someone had been wearing them and disintegrated. I could probably have figured out which sock to put on which foot and which shoe went on which foot, but it was really cool to know my Dad did that for me. I am pretty sure he ironed them everyday because I now know how he is about wearing clothes that aren't wrinkled and I must say I am the same way. Except when I go to Mildred's because she only owns an iron that's been converted to crafting purposes...and I'm sure she's given up on her ironing board long ago for more space to keep her duke.
I hope Titus has a great experience at school. I plan to be a presence at the school, helping in his classroom, helping with PTA and other things at the school. I just don't want to drop him off and be gone, I want to be there. I plan to have lunch with a lot and just spend time with him, when he doesn't' have time for me. That will be ok because I'm going to love watching him not have time for me. I wonder if a mother bird feels pride in watching their babies fly for the first time? I'm going to love watching him fly and at the same time my heart is going to be in sheer agony knowing that this little boy...this baby I bathed and lubed up and fed and took care of everyday before he went to Miss Diane's house is no longer.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Madeline my madeleine


I've been intrigued...OK obsessed with with Madeleine cookies for the past couple of months. I have seen them, they are shell shaped cookies that look like yellow cake, and wondered if they were tasty or not. Then I heard or read about someone making cornbread Madeleine's and that was it...I had to get me one of those Madeleine pans. Thus enters the problem in that I don't buy things for myself. Since I've lost weight I have had to buy clothes that fit, but I just don't go out and buy myself things. I'll go pick them up and walk around with them but put them down and skulk out of the store.

I'm doing a dessert buffet for JBF 24 hour workers on Tuesday and had the menu all planned when I found out one of the owners, "everything sounds good, but I was thinking more fingery things." [thunk]Back to the drawing board. I want people to have things they don't normally get and I immediately thought about Madeleine cookies. You can change them up with just a tweak of the ingredients and all the blog posts i read made them sound super simple to make. One problem--you have to have the pan. Off I went to Williams-Sonoma and $54 later i had a Madeleine pan ($14)...all in one zyliss zester grater microplane and some Key lime lemon curd (for another recipe it was on clearance). I'm super excited about the zester grater thing--too cool. I was pretty excited about the pan, too. Mine is silver, bright shiny silver.
As I typed this post and scoured the Internet for pictures (thanks Williams-Sonoma for supplying the photos. Please visit their site and purchase something.) I realized I had been spelling Madeleine wrong...imagine that! It is spelled m-a-d-a-l-E-i-n-e which would explain the bizarre recipes and even worse pictures. I'll have much better luck researching the recipe with people who know how to spell the thing!
The recipe I found (with the wrong spelled name) was good. It's the one I'll post today. I highly recommend you getting yourself a Madeleine pan...these suckers took all of 20 minutes from start to finish to make that's it! I'm so excited about trying cornbread in them. More on that later.
Here's the recipe for Madeleine cookies. if you don't have a pan...you can cook these babies in a muffin tin (mini or not) and they turn out the same you just can't call them Madeleine's...you'd have to call them by her evil little sister's name...Agatha.
5 T. butter (melted and cooled)
1/2 cup flour
1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1 egg
1/3 cup sugar
1 t. vanilla
1 t. grated lemon zest (or lime, or, orange, or you get it)
Powdered sugar for dusting.
Preheat oven to 375 (if your pan is dark go with 350). Spray pan with non0stick spray (I use the flour/nonstick spray).
In a medium bowl: sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl: add egg, vanilla, zest, and sugar and mix until blended. Add flour to egg mixture and mix until blended. Slowly add your melted butter and stir to combine.
Spoon a heaping tablespoon of batter into each mold. Bake until puffed and golden around the edges (about 12 minutes) 10-15 minutes. Remove from pan and dust with powdered sugar. Now go to a closet and eat the whole batch. I used my small ice cream scoop because it's exactly a tablespoon (yes...I measured) and worked great. I had maybe two tablespoons of batter remaining, but didn't mess with it. You'll want to fill the molds to 2/3 full.
I've seen pictures with these babies dipped in chocolate. This made one batch of 12 large cookies.
Try these. If you have ever eaten a tea cake and said to yourself, "i wish it were crispier...and shaped like a shell" then you'd be in luck. Seriously, though they are good and do remind me of tea cakes (the good kind, not the ones that will absorb all of the saliva in your mouth and shut your salivary glands down).

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Is anybody out there...

I'm so sorry it's been so long since my last post. It feels as if I should reintroduce myself, but hopefully you have been reading your top favorite posts in lieu of new posts. I hope to be getting back to the regular posting commitment I had started before summer came up and slapped me in the face. It was more of a Wrestle Mania 15 Smack Down. I can't remember a summer in which I've been this busy, this frantic, since I started doing ministry in 1991. I usually have the thoughts that most people have who are under pressure, "am I doing what I am supposed to do?" and can cautiously say that these thoughts have been coursing through my synapses with more regularity this summer than ever before. I will ignore them because next to being a Multimillion Dollar lottery winner, this is the only job I would really ever want to have.

The church where I work is a bustling, busy, scurrying here and there church always busy and always doing something. I've never seen anything like it. Usually I have down times in which I'm not as busy, but not here. I'm always planning, organizing, and executing something. I have this commitment to excellence in what ever I do, which I expensive and time consuming, and causes me great stress, but totally worth it. "Worth it"...remember those words Miss Sharon?

As I type these words I am constantly distracted by what else needs to be done and what else I need to be doing, so I can't really purge the the thoughts I have because I am always wandering away to another place to think of another thing that needs to be done. I know that there is a time which is coming when I will be put to ease and that is Sunday, September 7th. It's when our church launches it's Three Worship services, I'll be providing children's programming for all of those services. Getting read for that is very time consuming--ALL CONSUMING! There are a lot of thoughts trying to get out of my head, knocking on the door if you will. I hope to get them free.

My heart has been heavy with worry about my Dad's. First, Kendra's Dad has been facing some very serious health issues that are threatening his quality and length of life. My prayer is that he takes the very necessary steps to stay committed to the regimen that the doctors have prescribed to give him quality of life. Second, my Dad. He's having surgery on Thursday (I'll not be able to be there as I have a trip planned for my kids to OKC--ack!) and while it's "routine" there is not routine surgery in our family. The last time we had a routine doctor's visit, Emma Richele was cut out of her Mom's tummy! We don't' really have routine anything! My Dad and I are closer that we have ever been and I'm just not ready to not have him in my life or have my kids not love on their Poppa. I will regret the remainder of my days that I didn't have the Dad I've had these past five years all of my life. How I would have been different I'll never know. I have one of the sweetest women in all the world as my wife. I love her so deeply I cant' even begin to tell you where the end of that love is...I just can't see it. To comfort her in her sorrow over her Dad is just too much at times for me to bear. Pray for complete obedience and healing. Amen.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Do not adjust your monitor...

Sunday 56 campers, six counselors and I joined the rest of the campers, counselors, and ministers at Camp Impact at OC. It is a great camp for 3rd through 6th graders. This year there are right at 300 campers which is a big camp for us in this environment.



I used to eat every meal in the campus dining hall and over the years became accustomed to it's...unique flavor. There were some really great things, it's a short list, like the peanut butter bars which I could have eaten 100 of. When the peanut butter bar lady died so did the peanut butter bar mojo--they were never the same. My breakfast of choice for the first 5 years of camp was a bowl of frosted flakes, which I love. I ate that until I got into a bad batch of milk and it turn me off the cereal at camp thing. It always tasted sour to me for some reason. You don't have to keep licking a skunk to know it's going to give you stinky breath! On to my next phase of breakfast; biscuits and gravy. I had those for nine years. Every morning two biscuits and gravy, coffee, and then water for the road. Two years ago I gave up on them because it was just not good for me to eat that kind of stuff...I did kind of like them. As much as you can like peppered gravy (re hydrated) and frozen biscuits.






Lunch and dinner were usually disappointing meals as the meat was some kind of processed pressed and coated substance. Nuggets, patties, strips, fingers...they were all the same just in a different shape or form. Not so good. There was one day when the served Turkey with yellow gravy. I knew the next day would always be tetrazzini day because they could use the left over turkey from the day before. On a scale of 1-10 (10 being the worst) I'd say their food is about a 4.8 at best. Just not something that you love and crave for your next birthday dinner.






Last year I couldn't even bring myself to eat one thing at any time. It was just too gross. I opted instead for a Jimmy John's sub sandwich every day. The bread is baked fresh everyday and the meat is really good. Not that I loved eating a sandwich everyday for lunch and dinner, but hey, it was better than the school food. I probably should feel bad about it, but I don't not even a little bit bad about it.
The place was just across the street and allowed me to get there quick and fast. I tried to vary the things I ordered, but in the end i was just happy to eat these sandwiches instead of chocking down the camp food.


I don't think the food would be all that bad, if it were freshly prepared as it was, "back in the day." Everything today was a shade of white or yellow: Golden Chicken Nuggets, mashed potatoes with white gravy, corn, taco stack stuff. As I was walking by the dessert table I was stopped by what i could not believe. It really did gobsmack me to see this...this...thing on a tray over which the sign, "you asked for it." hung. Tell me, was this a threat? Here you are gentle reader: A marshmallow coated, fruit loop and marshmallow cube. I just couldn't believe it. The cube would move with the tongs as if the cube were alive, but man oh man was it not a sight. I didn't care if people laughed at me i was going to take a picture of this baby. It just stunned me to say the least.


I'll keep you posted on the interesting food creations over the next few days. I'm off to see if anyone has passed out from a sugar induced coma.. Did I mention they have an Icee machine?



Thursday, June 12, 2008

This hit the spot

[ This beautiful picture is from Tastespotting, posted by, "gottalittlespacetofill.blogspot.com". I didn't have my camera...I mean phone...handy.]

Summer is a crazy busy time for me and my family. Wednesday night's are especially hectic as we have 7 PM Bible Class at church. I usually work all through the day, pulling 12-14 hours, and don't stop just to attempt staying ahead of the game.

We usually have a Wednesday night meal at church and my family eats there because it's the easiest thing to do, not necessarily the most delicious mind you. Kendra called and asked if I wanted to join her at Taco Bueno for dinner with the kids, "...I had a big lunch today and I'm not really that hungry, just run through the drive through and get me a coke and I'll be fine." Translation: I hate Taco Bueno and can't really stand the thought of eating there--too gross for me. "Are you sure?" "Yes, thank you I'm sure." About twenty minutes later she pulls up with Wendy's--now I would have gone for Wendy's! Thunk.


Needless to say by the time we got home I was really hungry! Titus wanted to ride his bike and I didn't deny him this one love of his life. We were only outside maybe 20 minutes and it was time to go in and get ready for bed. Chubbers went down, Emma went down, and Titus was hungry. "Dad, what'ca makin?" "A cheese quesadilla." "Can I have one for after my shower?" "Sure." I had scoured the fridge and pantry for something to eat and came up with nothing that wasn't involved and I was ready to eat NOW! That's when cheese quesadilla came to my mind because it's fast...filling...and really good. Sold.


Titus likes his Quesadilla straight forward with just cheese and nothing else. I usually like to add shaved ham or something to the mix to give some more flavor. But what to do? Spice cabinet. I had recently bought some Fajita seasoning to make beef fajitas for a church pot luck, the recipe I was using called for fajita seasoning and I found this bottle at the store and had some left over. Not a bad plan I must say.


I decided to sprinkle some of this seasoning on my quesadilla and see what happened. The most prominent flavor coming through for me in this seasoning is cumin, which I love, so if you aren't a huge cumin fan I don't think this is for you. I can see me putting this on corn for a mexi-style side dish one night, or in refried beans to kick up the flavor--ok just give it flavor period. I'll be keeping this seasoning blend in my pantry for a while especially after the terrific results I had with the quesadilla.


Cheese Fajita Quesadilla


2 8" flour tortillas

1/2 cup shredded cheese

McCormick Fajita seasoning

Butter

Place a small skillet over medium heat. While the skillet is heating, butter one side of each tortilla. Place the tortilla, buttered side down, in the hot skillet and immediately add the shredded cheese. Shake fajita seasoning over the cheese. Place the remaining tortilla on top of the cheese, buttered side up. Cook for 1-2 minutes or until golden and crispy. Flip over and cook 1-2 minutes more until golden and crispy.

I cut these into fourths and had some sour cream and salsa to dip. They were delicious! I could have eaten more than one, but resisted. Of course, you can use any size tortilla you want, and you could add an endless list of ingredients to this.

I also wanted to make you aware that Kraft is marketing hormone free cheese. I jumped on this bandwagon when I saw it. It's really good, not loss of flavor or texture, just a loss of all the weird stuff mass dairy farmers have been feeding cows for years. Why do they do that? This is what the package looks like. I think that Kraft is ONLY making hormone free 2% cheese now, but I could be wrong. Kendra has also found and loved Weight Watchers cheese, it's pretty good but not Kraft. I would still rather grate my own cheese like I did when I was a kid, but I just don't want to hassle with the mess. True it's much better, but not that much better I must say.

Here's an idea for you. Have a Quesadilla party! I jsut thought of this a few paragraphs up. You would need to borrow two or three griddles (you could use electric skillets) so everyone could whip up their quesadillas quickly. All you would need to have on hand are tortillas, and butter, plus cheese, and then have folks bring their own topping to add to the quesadilla bar. Chorizo, grilled sliced fajita beef or chicken, onions, mushrooms, peppers, ham, spinach, artichokes (I just thought about an artichoke spinach quesadilla: spinach, nutmeg, swiss cheese, and chopped artichokes--yum) just leave it up to the imagination of your guests. Then have salsa, guacamole and sour cream for the condiments and you have a party! Sounds fun.

One more recipe for you:
Fajita Marinade


1 bottle Kraft Italian dressing (15 oz I think, it was the "regular" sized one)

1 T Fajita seasoning (or one packet if you can't find the shaker bottle)

1 T cracked black pepper

In a zip top bag, add all of the ingredients, whisk with a fork. Add chicken breasts or beef and marinate for two hours up to overnight. Grill and slice for great fajita flavored meat.

This marinade is awesome! You aren't saying, "man this Italian dressing is really great!" You can't tell it was Italian dressing--promise. I like to use flank or skirt steak for my fajita beef and always use chicken tenderloins for my chicken. They cook super fast and I don't have to worry about under cooking them. You could use thinly sliced ribeye or sirloin steak if you wanted to.

Give this quesadilla a try...you wont be sorry. Man...I'm hungry!