Thursday, January 3, 2013

A Momma's Heart

New Year's Day morning I was enjoying a quiet moment in the kitchen while making a cup of tea when I heard footsteps on the stairs.   Any of you who have a two story home and children know,  footsteps on the stairs can warn you as to what is ahead...A sleepy, not ready to start my day child, or a "I'm in a hurry because I forgot something or am late" child, or a "you aren't going to believe THIS" child, or, as these footsteps warned me, "I have some horrible news to tell you" child. 

A friend lost her small child in an tragic accident the previous day.  My heart was immediately broken and I cried out "NO!" as the truth sank in...the little one was gone too soon.  Then, my heart found comfort when I told myself, instant death means instant heaven.  Still, all week I have been struggling with the fact that this sweet family will not have that precious little one to hold, their lives are forever changed.   In days past, this friend and I would have most likely lost touch when she moved away from the town where we both once lived to pursue more education and then got married, and began her family.  Technology has allowed us, instead, to keep in touch and for me to "watch" as she announced her pregnancy, birth, and then each birthday of her little one.  So, even though I never actually met this sweet child I feel as though I was blessed to see so much that normally I would have missed.  This child LIVED!  I amazed as I look through pictures and watch a video that have been added by the family at how many adventures such a wee one could enjoy.  Obviously, the momma and daddy have embraced parenting and are training up their children in a way to be admired.  As these types of events usually do, it has caused me to examine my own parenting.  Although my children are adults, my momma's heart was reminded to be present as much as I possibly can.  Life IS short and we know not what tomorrow holds. 

In preparing for my preschool class Sunday school lesson (I teach 4 and 5 year olds) I was researching and stumbled upon a blog.  I wish now I could remember the name of the blog as I do always want to give credit where credit is do but since the author's name is attached I think it is right to share this.  It made me stop and think of each child I am blessed to have in my life and the responsibility I have to each them.  I hope it speaks to you as it did to me.  It is my prayer that these my friend and her husband know deep in their hearts that they did outstanding with their "thirty seconds".

"What can we do with thirty seconds? What can we not do with thirty seconds!... [Suppose] your little child looks out the window and sees a collie. 'What's that?' he asks you. You have five options, which will each take about thirty seconds to make stick:

1. We can tell him, "Look, baby, Mommy has to get dinner."
2. We can tell him, "That's a bow-wow."
3. We can tell him, "That's a dog."
4. We can tell him, "That's a dog called a collie."
The fifth option is to tell him that it is a dog called a collie and then go on to tell him thirty seconds worth of information about that animal...

How sad it is that we put information into a computer with great skill and great precision and put information into our children's brains in a hit-or-miss, slip-shod, and often untruthful way."

-Glenn Doman

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Years Eve fiesta with a Southern twist

Our family spent New Years Eve in our usual way...safely at home.  I was going to say "quietly and safely at home" but that wouldn't be accurate as we actually brought 2013 in with a BANG!  More about that in a minute. 

I decided to make enchiladas for dinner and added a couple of dishes that have a decidedly Southern twist.  After posting some pictures to Facebook and Instagram I had several requests for my recipes so just thought I would post them here for all to enjoy. 


This is my twist on a recipe I found in The Pioneer Woman Cooks cookbook for Simple, Perfect Enchiladas.  (pages 176-178)

 The Sauce
2 tablespoons Canola oil, in a pinch I have used Olive and Vegetable oil but Canola is best.
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 large cans (28 oz each can) of enchilada sauce
3 cans chicken stock or chicken broth
salt and pepper
1/4 cup fresh cilantro chopped

Make a rue over medium heat using the flour and oil.  Whisk together and bring to a full bubble for 5 minutes, whisking constantly.  Add in the enchilada sauce, chicken stock, salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer.  I allow this to simmer while I prepare the filling.  Be sure to stir often.

Beef Filling
2 pounds ground beef, cooked and well seasoned with salt & black pepper.  This is a great time to use up those bags of frozen left over ground beef from tacos or other recipes.  I always tend to make more than I need and freeze what is left over so I may or may not use more than 2 pounds.  I really just eye it.  Drain off all fat.  Add 1 chopped up medium sized onion, 2 large cans of green chilies ( I think they were 10 oz cans),  a lot of fresh garlic...about 4 tablespoons, and a good dash of cumin and Cayenne pepper.  Cook all together til the onion is transparent. 

I use corn, not flour.  I buy the big bags at Sam's Club and just make the enchiladas until I run out of sauce.  Or sometimes I run out of filling first.  Other times, I just make enough for the 4 of us and freeze the left over sauce and filling for a different time.  Just do what works best for you!
In order to roll the enchiladas you have to heat the tortillas first.  I do this by layering 10 in a paper towel and microwaving for about 30 seconds.  You can also fry them in oil until soft and flexible but this is time consuming and I don't think the flavor changes either way so I use the fast method. 

I use A LOT...a whole lot!  I bought a big bag (8 cups)  of shredded Co Jack and another of Sharp Cheddar (4 cups). I mixed them up in a big bowl then divided that into a smaller bowl so that just in case I didn't use all the cheese my cheese and sauce wouldn't mingle.  This is a messy dish!

Assemble and Bake
Use a 9X13 baking dish (or bigger if you have one). Spread a little sauce in the bottom.  Now, is the messy part!  Grab a warm shell, put some meat filling in using a large spoon (or do like I do, use your hands), cover with cheese, and roll.  Place in baking dish with the folded side down.  Sometimes I even spread a little sour cream over the meat before I cover with cheese.  Continue until you have made all the enchiladas you and your family can eat.    For cheese enchiladas skip the meat mixture and use double the cheese as the filling.  I bake the all cheese variety in a different dish. I used 3 baking dishes last night.  Once you have filled a baking dish, pour some sauce over the tops (use a little or a lot, it's up to you) and sprinkle with more shredded cheese.  Cover with foil and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes.  Remove foil and bake an additional 5 minutes. 

With more cilantro, black olives, and green onion if that is what you like.  I leave mine family prefers them that way. 

Right away with sour cream, salsa, and any side dishes you enjoy. 

whew!  Typing all that out took almost as long as making them!  I hope you enjoy!

Now, for the Southern twist!  Superman has very few "rules" but one of them is that our family must have black eyed peas(BEP) on New Year's Day (NYD).  My family never ate them so after we married I would choke down one to make him happy each NYD.  My daughters did the same once they were old enough to eat them. Or they fed them to our doggies. Anyway, after we moved to NC I ate some at a church function ( I AM trying to embrace the Southern culture/way of eating) and they were AmAzIng!  So, I have made them each year since using dried peas and a ham hock and found I like them!  I guess the canned black eyed peas heated just didn't do this bean justice!  This year, I found 2 ideas on The Pioneer Woman's blog and decided to add them to our Fiesta!  I know what you are thinking, but you made those on New Year's EVE not DAY.  Yes, but I made so much that I wouldn't have to cook on NYD and we would still be able to eat our BEP AND Superman would be Happy! Win, Win!

Hot Black Eyed Pea Dip I made exactly as the recipe called for so I won't post the entire recipe, just a pic of mine.  You can visit The Pioneer Woman and make it next time you are looking for a great dip!

Black Eyed Pea Salsa 
For this, I found several on Pinterest and on The Pioneer Woman so I made mine using those as examples.

1/2 cup canola Oil
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons white granulated sugar
1 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 teaspoons ground mustard
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
fresh ground pepper

6 stalks celery, chopped in small bits
1 bunch of green onions, chopped in small bits
1 whole red bell pepper, the whole thing chopped in small bits
2 whole jalapenos, seeded and chopped in small bits
1 heaping cup of chopped cilantro
2 cans black eyed peas, drained

Mix the dressing. I used my Measure, Mix, and Pour from the Pampered Chef.  It worked great!  Mix the veggies in a bowl.  Pour the dressing over and stir gently.  Place in fridge for about an hour or til chilled.  Serve with chips.  YUMMMY and colorful!

We discovered these chips when the grocery was out of our favorite Hint Of Lime and have to say, we think these are delish! Full of flavor!

Superman ran an errand while I was cooking and brought home some fun with a BANG!  Hopefully, we didn't wake the neighbors with the fun but weren't they pretty?! Superman says, "sometimes it is easier to ask for forgivness than to ask for permission"  ;)

Ally and Mary Lou were the only two who weren't camera shy this year.

Happy New Year to you and yours!  May 2013 be a Year of Increase for you and your family!

How did you celebrate the end of 2012 and beginning of 2013?  Be sure to leave me a comment, I love to read each of them!


Thursday, September 13, 2012


Two essentials for the beach...a great hat and your favorite drink!  I wanted to show you a photo of my Lifeproof case but found it impossible to take a picture of my phone with my phone ;)

The new iPhone5 was unveiled yesterday.  Honestly, I am more than thrilled with my iPhone 4 and have no desire to upgrade but Superman is ready for his contract to allow him to upgrade.  I know for certain that when he does get his new phone he will already have a Lifeproof case on hand, ready to protect his investment. 

My family surprised me with my white iPhone (remember when "white" was new and exciting? to me, it still is) and I immediately ordered an Otter Box in bright green to protect my new, favorite toy.  It arrived quickly, something like 3 days.  My Sunshine gal had to help me get it on my phone and I thought, Oh now my phone is forever protected and this will last a long time.  Not so lasted about 8 months.  I am not one who drops her phone often or is particularly hard on my electronics so I figured I got a lemon.  During this time, I had visited the Apple store for some help with the "cloud".  The employee helping me noticed my broken case and shared with me about how wonderful "this new lifeproof case is".  I was in OK at the time and couldn't find it at a local store so just settled for another Otterbox, thinking I would get back to NC where I could mail back the broken one and get a refund.  Life got in the way, and by the time I was able to mail it back, the 1 year warranty expired. I was now the "proud" owner of two Otterboxes, one of which lasted 8 months and the newest one lasted all of 2 months.  Blah!

In July we had some friends over for dinner and the husband was showing mine his Lifeproof AND the video he had made of his kiddos swimming UNDER water!!!  He told us how even at the beach his phone stayed water and sand proof.  I was SOLD! I knew I wanted that case but hated to spend another chunk of change.

My girls and I were at Best Buy in August and I spotted an entire row of brightly colored LIFEPROOF cases!!  I was so excited to see one in red, my favorite color!  I was going to ask for an exchange (as I had purchased my 2nd Otter from Best Buy) when I realized I had left the pesky clip at home.  A few days later Superman and I returned to the same store where I was delighted to find that they were more than happy to give me full credit on my broken Otter in exchange for a Lifeproof!

A few reasons I think my Lifeproof is the BEST case for my iPhone:

RED! my favorite color, but they have lots of bright colors from which to choose. 

BEACH! proof, really 100% blowing sand and water proof.  I have not had the problem of condensation build up between the screen and protector that I constantly had with the Otter. 

HAIR!  my  hair no longer gets hung up on the silicone part of the case. 

Just to be fair about the Otter Box, Superman has had his iPhone for about 1 1/2 years with the same Otter Box that he purchased the day he bought his phone and it still works perfectly.  He does tell me that the first thing he will purchase for his iPhone5 is a Lifeproof case :)

Oh, and Lifeproof makes the same great case for your iPad and iPod too!

What is your new favorite product?

thanks for stopping by...

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Cookin Up a Storm!

Cooking is relaxing.  Well, at least to ME it is relaxing!  Today I spent the day "cookin up a storm" while watching The Help.  It is my new go-to movie when I want to watch something but need my mind to concentrate on the task at hand.  Since both of my daughters are now working and Superman is self employed, meaning he rarely works 9-5, I have to have a meal ready for one of them to eat at odd times during the day and evening.  I was stressing over this task until I remembered Investment Cooking, a concept I have taught many times at Pampered Chef shows.  So, today was Investment Cooking day and once again, cooking is FUN!!!

A couple of friends asked me to share one of the meals I often make on Investment Cooking day.  I hope you enjoy it too!!

Cheeseburger Soup

2.5 pounds of ground beef, browned with garlic.  I also season the meat at this time.

1 large yellow onion, chopped

5 celery stalks, chopped

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon dried parsley

5 cups (or more) chicken broth (I use the store bought, but I keep telling myself I will make some stock to have on hand)

4 or 5 large turnips, peeled and diced...before you say TURNIPS?! trust me, they are incredible cooked this way.  I told my family they were Irish Potatoes (not a complete lie) and they ate them up!  This is my man's favorite soup!!

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup sour cream


your favorite shredded cheese, I use co jack

In a large stock pot, saute the onion and celery in a little butter.  When they are tender, add the chicken broth and turnips.  Boil until the turnips are tender but not mushy.  Add the seasonings and the ground beef.  Boil a few more minutes then slowly add the heavy cream.  Allow to simmer til you are ready to serve.  Just before serving, add the sour cream.  Heat through.  Ladle into bowls and top with your favorite shredded cheese.  This soup reheats very well.  It is also a great meal to prepare and then pour into a crock pot to keep warm and ready to eat when you arrive home after a day out.  Just prepare a tossed salad and dinner is ready!

This recipe was given to me by friend who doesn't think cooking is relaxing.  She would much rather clean up the kitchen while I cook.  We make a great team in the kitchen!

I know what you are thinking...what does this picture have to do with Cheeseburger Soup?!

This picture was taken about a year ago in Oklahoma.  Meet (bottom row L to R) Shana, Danielle, Ally. Also, (top row) me, Natalie, and Sheryl.  We had just watched The Help   (the movie I was watching today while I was cooking) and wanted to take a picture of all of us since we are rarely all in one city.   Sheryl, my friend who would rather clean up than cook, lives in Istanbul, Turkey, and is the one who shared this recipe with me. 

As you can see, this is the perfect picture for Cheeseburger Soup!

What cooking challenges are you encountering since summer is almost over?  Please leave me a note, I love reading each one!!

Kiss The Cook~

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Back to Blogging!

Last year at this time, I was preparing for my final back-to-"school" year.  This year I am back-to-blogging!  My previous post was supposed to be the start of a commitment to post two or three times a week. As you may have noticed...that didn't happen!  Right after we finished helping my friend clean her beach houses (see my last post, Home Sweet Beach Home) our summer whizzed past!  Another unexpected, fast trip to Oklahoma and several sets of company later. I am back to my commitment to post, regularly!

Just a sneak peek into our summer...please stop by again soon for more Summer Fun!

 One of my favorite ways to spend a spring evening...a wienie roast at a friend's house!

 I have to apologize for the quality of these pictures...all were taken on my iPhone and this is obviously a self portrait.  While in OK, I was subpoenaed to testify at a trial.  My dear friend offered to accompany me and we joked that we had better take a picture for my blog.   A little piece of advice...ALWAYS pack a going-to-court dress!  I pack for a wedding, a funeral, a GNO, and a date night whenever we head to OK for an extended period of time but had never even thought of needing a dress to wear to court!  Thankfully, all my anxiety was for naught, I wasn't even called to the witness stand!

 Downtown T-Town (Tulsa) taken from our excellent seats at the new, perfectly located for the optimum view, Driller's Stadium.  After the baseball game an incredible fireworks display took place.

 Although I had lived in the Tulsa area for 20+ years I had never experienced the Jenks Herb Festival.  When a friend invited me to tag along with her and her step mom I jumped at the chance! 

 These ladies are the best friends a girl could ask for (minus 3 who were preparing to send a young lady off to Africa).  We are so blessed that even though I live in NC and one lives in Istanbul, Turkey, we see each other at least twice a year and always eat at PF Changs for our GNO. 

 A day on Skiatook Lake with my man's on his cousin's boat.  We have spent hours on this lake making memories with family and friends.

 The REAL reason we traveled to OK.  Allyson graduated with her fellow home educated friends who she literally grew up with since the age of one.  Here, Andy is presenting me with flowers in honor of Hudson Academy completing the girls' high school education. 

She was ALL smiles!!! 
The Pioneer Woman launched her new cookbook with a party at the Cain's Ballroom, a Tulsa icon. I had never been to the Cains so my dear friend Rhonda joined me for a fun night.  I will post more pictures and details soon!

No trip to Oklahoma would be complete (at least to me) without at least one trip to Williams-Sonoma.  At the Utica Square location this cute chef has been carved out of a dead tree. 

I'm so glad you dropped by!  Our trip to Oklahoma was full of adventures and I can't wait to share more of them and details of some of those shown above so be sure to return often!

Tell me about your summer...did you explore some new, exotic location or did you have a staycation?


Monday, May 21, 2012

Home Sweet Beach Home

OH it is good to be home!  My daughters and I have just returned from a two month trip to our hometown in Oklahoma.  While we had a great time with friends and family it is just good to be home!

I have so many fun memories to share with all of you and can't wait to blog about my daughter's graduation and our home state.  This week we are embarking on a new beach houses!  My sweet friend owns a beach house cleaning company and with the holiday weekend approaching she has found herself short staffed.  My girls were more than excited when I asked if they would be willing to take this week and help her out.  So tomorrow morning we will be up early (6 am!) to head to OIB to get cleaning. 

Thanks for your faithful following...98 of you stopped by last month and I didn't even write a new post!  I promise to have new posts up by next Monday!


Saturday, March 10, 2012

Change is GOOD! least I keep telling myself that this week. 

On Tuesday, my little Sunshine gal finished all of her school work to earn her high school diploma.  Yes, I know it is only the beginning of March but when she sets her mind to something, she can accomplish it!  Wanting to finish high school before heading to OK to prepare for her graduation with her friends that she grew up with was top on her priority list. With that goal in mind, right after we started back to school after Christmas break she has been working extra hard.  On her last day of "class" she completed 5 lessons, 3 quizzes, and 3 tests.  I don't know who screamed the loudest, my daughter or myself!  As she was rejoicing in her hard work (she made straight A's all through high school) I was realizing that my "job" of educator had come to a very abrupt and anti-climatic end.  Or had it?  After all, my baby is still only 17 with much to learn about life and I plan to be available as she takes her first steps into this new season.   Titus 2:4  commands us as women  "That they may teach the young women to be sensible, to love their husbands, to love their children." KJV  I may add a "student" here and there to include other younger women besides the two amazing daughters that God blessed me with, so in reality, my "job" will never end.  

Sunshine gal thinks coffee should be enjoyed as often as possible.  I promised her that the day she finished school we would head to Starbucks right away.  Natalie went along too and Ally's friend met us but didn't want a coffee...can you imagine? Truth be told, he just wanted to purchase his own as he went back a bit later & ordered one too.  We gobbled up that brownie so quick I had to take a picture with just a bite of it left. 


As if finishing high school wasn't enough for one week, she also bought her first pair of heels and opened a checking account this week.  Whew, it was just about enough to do me in...but I reminded myself that when we "train up a child in the way they should go, they will not depart from it"(paraphrased) and that this is exactly what is supposed to be happening in her life.  She might be kinda mad I shared this picture since her toes weren't painted perfectly but I just had so show off these rockin heels.  Such a different choice of footwear from her normal Converse!

I thought the nice lady who helped her open her checking account might think home educators are really weird if I pulled out my iPhone and took a picture of the process so I will share with you Sunshine's dream car.  We came out of the orthodontist office on Wednesday (another event as this was her last check up since having her braces removed) to find this beauty parked right next to me.   She just loves VW vans and bugs.  This is truly the car she can see herself driving for the rest of her life and I so enjoy teasing her that after she is married she can fill it up with grandbabies for me!  But for now, we dream of her driving it with her puppy, Little Lulu, hanging her head out the passenger window while she drives with her long hair flying out the driver's window.  Hey, a girl has to have a dream!

Thanks for letting me share my wonderful, yet full-of-changes week with you.  How was YOUR week?  Did you have any life changing moments?  Or was it just your normal routine, which I personally happen to love, kind of week?  Either way, PLEASE leave me a comment.  I so enjoy that you took the time to drop by and love reading your notes!