Friday, December 28, 2007

History of German Chocolate Cake

Mrs. Mordecai commented on my post about German Chocolate Cake...

"Once my family had a German exchange student and she said there was nothing
German about it. She thought there was sauerkraut on top!"

I watched a TV show one time about the history of the German Chocolate Cake and found it quite interesting because I had always thought it was a recipe from Germany. Lo and behold, it's NOT!!!

Here's what What's Cooking America says about the History of German Chocolate Cake...
German Chocolate Cake is an American creation that contains the key ingredients of sweet baking chocolate, coconut, and pecans. This cake was not brought to the American Midwest by German immigrants. The cake took its name from an American with the last name of "German."

1852 - Sam German created the mild dark baking chocolate bar for Baker's Chocolate Company in 1852. The company name the chocolate in his honor - "Baker's German's Sweet Chocolate." In most recipes and products today, the apostrophe and the "s" have been dropped, thus giving the false hint as for the chocolate's origin.

1957 -The first published recipe for German's chocolate cake showed up in a Dallas newspaper in 1957 and came from a Texas homemaker. The cake quickly gained popularity and its recipe together with the mouth-watering photos were spread all over the country. America fell in love with German Chocolate cake.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

German Chocolate Cake...

German Chocolate Cake. Aaahhhh. My very favorite cake in all the world IF it is made by my grandmother. All the other recipes cannot compare to the heavenly sweetness of this cake when Grandmother used to make it!! OOOH BOY!!!!

My Uncle Burt and I always had a little unspoken competition going on for Grandmother's German Chocolate Cake. She made one every Thanksgiving and he used to always beat me in the race to have the first luscious bite. My grandmother actually hid the freshly made cake one year so that I would be sure and be the first one to taste the cake. She and I carefully tiptoed to her hiding place, she pulled the cake out and A PIECE WAS MISSING!!!! Grandmother gasped out loud and then we heard Uncle Burt laughing hysterically. He had found her secret hiding place!!!! Rats.

These days, however, even though my grandmother doesn't feel like making her yummy cake, I do my best to copy hers. She told me the "secret recipe" is actually inside the box of the Baker's German's Chocolate box!!!! I follow the recipe to the letter. It smells like Grandmother's and even LOOKS like Grandmother's, but I am 100% positive that she does something special to hers to make it extra delicious.

Grandmother isn't doing well these days. She's now 88 years old and in a nursing home. She doesn't always remember you when you walk in to visit and she doesn't pay attention for long, but she's still here and still cute as a button. She has created some wonderful memories simply through the love she has shown in her homemade food for her family. I am blessed to come from a long line of really good cooks.

What kind of recipe do you have that brings back wonderful memories of family? I would LOVE to hear about them!!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas!!!

Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child. While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. "This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased." When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, "Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us." So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart. The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.

Luke 2:1-20

Merry Christmas everyone!!!

Friday, December 21, 2007

3 weeks and 1 day...

3 weeks and 1 day... that's how long it's been since I've blogged. OH DEAR!!!!

I'm still here, just BUSY!! I know, I know, I'm not the only one that gets super duper busy this time of the year. It just seems like Christmas really got here quickly this year!

What have I been doing since I last posted? Well, I actually was at my parents' house when I last blogged. I don't know if y'all remember or not, but I asked for prayer for my mom in the beginnging of November. I stayed with them for a week after Thanksgiving to hopefully help them out a little bit. Elizabeth and I were blessed to be with them a week. I don't think we were much help at all, but it was wonderful being able to do anything at all for my parents. Even in their very difficult times, they still praise the Lord. What a testimony their lives are!! If y'all think about it, please keep praying for them. With my mom having to deal with the pain after shingles, this is a VERY long road to recovery.

After we returned home, things have been a whirlwind of activity. We bought our Christmas tree and decorated it. This is Elizabeth's first Christmas and it makes me sad to think that last Christmas she was sitting in a bed, all alone in the orphanage in China, never having heard about Jesus Christ. But this year we get to celebrate Jesus' birthday TOGETHER!!!!

She wasn't too sure what was up with the tree, but now she LOVES it and enjoys playing with all the low-hanging ornaments (child safe ornaments!!!).

Mr. U and I celebrated our 9th anniversary on the 12th of December. 9 years!!! WOW!!! When I think of our married life, it has FLOWN by!! He is such an AWESOME man of God and I cannot believe that I am the lucky girl that got to marry him!!! WOOOHOO!!!!

Joshua will turn 20 (yikes!!!) this coming Sunday. Twenty. Where has the time gone? When Mr. U and I met, dear Joshua was a small 10 year old boy. I immediately fell in love with him when he wanted to snuggle up next to me and tell me all about his life. He has become such a wonderful, godly man. Some girl is going to be INCREDIBLY blessed one day to become his wife. (Good gracious!!! I'm crying now just thinking about that!!!!).

This is Joshua. He's going to kill me for sharing his picture, but good grief!! He is one cute guy!!! How could I NOT share his photograph? :)

It's still going to be a whirlwind of activity around here for a while, but I wouldn't change it for the world. I LOVE being with my family and I love all the busyness that comes from making our house a home. I LOVE being Mrs. U.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Frugal Children's Entertainment...

The other day I mentioned that I had let Elizabeth be "entertained" by the TV while I prepared many things in the kitchen for a church event. I really needed to focus on what I was doing, so I let my little sweetheart watch Dora. Okay... so I let her watch it a few times. Ahem.

Anyway, Cyndi over at Modern Christian Homestead offers a GREAT way to keep your children occupied while you are in the kitchen!! I LOVE your idea, Cyndi! And it's frugal to boot!! Thank you SO much for sharing your creative and VERY FUN idea!!!!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Help with a picky eater...

Thankfully, I am VERY blessed so far that Elizabeth is NOT a picky eater. However, I know LOTS of mothers daily battle with their children and food. Recently, quilt2day left a comment on this blog post and said ...
Now, any tips on getting a 4 year old boy with a picky-eating streak to eat such dinner, ahhhh! We keep praying the Lord will deliver him from his dislike of all foods that are mixed together (ie, casseroles, soups, stews, etc).

For those of y'all that have dealt with and WON the battle with a picky eater, what kind of advice can you offer her? Any great tips that you can share to encourage her AND to get her son to venture out with food?

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

I wanted to wish everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving!!! Enjoy the day with your family!!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Icing...

You know, yesterday when I mentioned that I had taken Pumpkin Bars to church, I linked to some recipes I found on All Recipes (LOVE that site, by the way). However, I only used those recipes as a guide. Teehee! You know I just HAD to alter the recipe, right? Here's the actual ingredients and amounts that I used to make the Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Icing (which were a HIT, by the way!!!).

Pumpkin Bars
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups white sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice*
4 eggs
1 (14.5 ounce) can Pure Pumpkin (I use Libby's Brand)
2 teaspoons baking soda

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 12 x 16 cookie sheet (with sides) OR 2 9 x 13 pans.
-Mix all ingredients until well blended.
-Bake for 25 minutes. Cool and frost bars with Cream Cheese Icing.

Cream Cheese Icing
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
2 sticks butter, softened
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups confectioners' sugar

Cream together butter with the cream cheese. Then stir in vanilla.
Next, add the powdered sugar, slowly, keep beating until mixture is smooth.

*To make your own pumpkin pie spice, click here.
Oh, and there's no photograph of these because they were ALL gone!!!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Busy, busy, busy!!

Today has been one of "those" days. BUSY!!!!!

Our church is having a Thanksgiving service tonight. Afterwards, we'll have refreshments. I am taking sausage balls and Pumpkin Bars (which are more like cake) with Cream Cheese Icing. YUM!

It seems like it took me FOREVER to get these prepared this morning. I was doing laundry in the middle of it all, too, so that's probably what made it feel like it was taking so long.

And poor Elizabeth, I was so busy this morning that all I could do was turn on the TV and hope she would play by herself. I HATE turning the TV on and letting it "babysit" her, but I, in fact, did that very thing this morning. We rarely turn TV on for her, wanting her to read, color, RUN, PLAY, IMAGINE!!! Perhaps she viewed this morning as a special treat???

Tomorrow brings more baking as my mother-in-law has requested sugar cookies (with icing) and pound cake to go with her Thanksgiving meal on Thursday. I love any excuse to bake, so thank you dear mother-in-law!!

Any suggestions for a better way to occupy Elizabeth while I am busy in the kitchen? Any help would be greatly appreciated!!

Also, I would LOVE to know any special treats that you are making for family and friends for Thanksgiving!!

Friday, November 16, 2007

A good meal...

On the menu for today is Pasta e Fagioli and Savory Cheese Rolls. Both are simple to make and both please my family.

Pasta e fagioli
1 pound ground beef
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup shredded carrots, about 2 large
2 cups dried shell pasta
2 14.5-ounce cans beef broth
2 14.5-ounce cans diced tomatoes, undrained
28 ounces spaghetti sauce
1 16-ounce can dark red kidney beans, drained well
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce, optional
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or 1 tablespoon dried
1 teaspoon garlic salt

Saute beef in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until browned.
Drain and set aside. Heat olive oil in same pot and add celery, onion and carrots. Saute 5 minutes, until vegetables are tender.
Meanwhile, boil pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
Return beef to pot. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes. Stir in pasta and serve.

Makes 12 servings.

Savory Cheese Rolls
1 cup plus 2 T luke warm water
3 cups bread flour
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 T dry milk
2 T sugar
2 t Italian seasoning
1 1/4 t salt
2 t yeast

For bread machine- Measure all ingredients out and place in your bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Set on "dough" cycle. When finished, divide dough into even pieces, roll into desired shape and let rise for 30 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes until the tops of the rolls are golden brown.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Blogger trouble...

Is anyone else having trouble posting on Blogger today? I cannot get any photos to post.


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I love to cook...

I LOVE to cook!! I remember being in the kitchen with my mom when I was little and "helping" as much as any 5 year old can. Then the teenage years set it and, boy, was I selfish!! I remember my mother asking me "How in the world are you ever going to cook for your family if you never help me cook now?" My answer? "Mom, I'll just read the directions."

Okay, so I was Miss Smarty Pants and not very honoring to my mother. I've repented, believe me. When Mr. U and I married, I had to call my mom SEVERAL times a week to ask her (what are now) simple cooking questions- "How long do you boil chicken?", "How long do you boil eggs?", "How in the WORLD do you cook fresh green beans???" and on and on and on. Things I would have learned had I been less selfish and continued under the tutelage of my mother.

Mr. U and I married in 1998 and around that time Food Network was just starting to become popular in my area. I remember watching The Iron Chef and thinking "NO WAY am I cooking that for my family!!!" Then I discovered Rachael Ray and I was in heaven!! Between what I remembered from my mom when I was young, calling her on the phone almost daily for cooking help, and watching Rachael Ray, I have learned to cook- and I LOVE it!!

But, sadly, all the cooking shows these days seem to cook pretty much the same things. I'm not saying I'm an expert cook, but I LOVE to learn new methods instead of the "same old same old". I used to tape my favorite cooking shows and watch them in any spare (and rare) moments. But nothing really excites me anymore about the cooking shows.

Thankfully, Food Network has a new show on called The Gourmet Next Door with Amy Finley and I LOVE this show!!!!! Amy seems to really want her viewers to learn more about cooking. I can't wait to see more of her shows.

Also, I just discovered that PBS has Julia Child videos ONLINE!!! You can view her cooking with guest chefs for free!!! I remember my mom watching her show a few times and I remember her voice, but I've never watched an episode of her cooking shows. I love that I can watch her online. Wow! Modern technology!!!!

What about you? Do you enjoy cooking or is it something you do because you have to feed your family? How did you learn to cook? I would love to hear from y'all!!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Chicken Enchiladas in Cream...

I found this recipe years ago in a magazine. It's been so long that I don't remember what magazine it came from!! But I DO know that this is easy, delicious and something my whole family just loves!!!

Chicken Enchiladas in Cream
3 cups cooked, diced chicken
1 (7 ounces) can salsa verde
1 (4 ounces) can chopped green chilies
10 flour tortillas (8 inch diameter)
2 1/2 cups of cream *
2 cups shredded cheese **

Mix chicken, salsa verde and green chilies in a bowl and spoon mixture evenly into the 10 tortillas. Roll up and place them in a prepared 9x13 pan. Pour cream on top and sprinkle with cheese. Bake 45 minutes at 350 degrees until golden and most of cream is absorbed.

* I have used half and half instead of cream and had equally delicious results.
** In this photo, I used 1 cup of cheddar and 1 cup of mozzarella. Yum!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Miss Laurie's Smart Guide to House Cleaning ...

I stumbled across a WONDERFUL website recently. The website is called Miss Laurie's Smart Guide and Miss Laurie has a DVD on, get this, a common sense approach to cleaning your home!! How great is that??? How many ladies do you know that could benefit from a DVD actually teaching them HOW to clean and WHY things should be done certain ways?

Here's what the website says about the DVD...
Whether you're clueless about cleaning or just want to learn more, here's a common sense approach to cleaning for your own home or a home you care for.

-Organize your cleaning time and tasks.
-Learn the specifics needed to attack the kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and laundry.
-Don't fire your help (the kids, your mate or your maid) them the video!

Remember, it's a great gift for high school grads, new brides and grooms or a messy mensch.

Okay, so I am not just telling y'all this because it sounds like a neat DVD or anything. I'm telling y'all this because I HAVE the DVD and LOVE it!! Miss Laurie offers soo many practical tips and cleaning tidbits. The only thing I didn't like about the DVD was that it was too short! LOL!! I love learning about taking care of my home and Miss Laurie had such wonderful ideas and helps, I could have sat and watched about a lot longer!!!

I've already started using some of Miss Laurie's tips. Y'all just head on over and visit with Miss Laurie. A DVD on how to clean your home- I LOVE IT!!!!

Thank you, Miss Laurie, for sharing this with us!!!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Dressing for the Winter Months...

The weather here in my area has gotten rather chilly lately. While I am quite happy to be leaving the hot, humid days of summer behind us (finally!!!), I often find myself unprepared in my wardrobe for the winter months.

Two posts I've come across lately have greatly encouraged me and given me goals in my wintertime shopping. Tammy has shared about Wearing Dresses in Winter and Mrs. Wilt has shared Fall and Winter Wardrobe Basics.

I wear dresses and skirts only and I really appreciate these two ladies taking time to share with us about their wardrobes- keeping warm and the "basics" of a warm wardrobe. So, no more aimless shopping for me! I am using them as my shopping guides this year!! Thank you ladies!!

Friday, November 02, 2007

Made Over Chicken Tetrazzini

Oh y'all!!! I made a delicious recipe!!! I found it at the Kraft Foods website. It's called Made Over Chicken Tetrazzini and it is yummmmmy!!! So yummy, in fact, that I forgot to take a picture of it!! It's all gone now and there's not a noodle in sight.

Made Over Chicken Tetrazzini

1/2 lb. (8 oz.) spaghetti, uncooked
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed
1 medium red pepper, chopped
2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
4 oz. (1/2 of 8-oz. pkg.) PHILADELPHIA Neufchatel Cheese, 1/3 Less Fat than Cream Cheese, cubed
1/4 cup flour
1 can (14 oz.) fat-free reduced-sodium chicken broth
3 Tbsp. KRAFT 100% Grated Parmesan Cheese, divided
1/2 cup KRAFT 2% Milk Shredded Reduced Fat Mozzarella Cheese

PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Cook pasta as directed on package. Meanwhile, spray large nonstick skillet with cooking spray. Add chicken, peppers and mushrooms; cook and stir 5 min. or until chicken is no longer pink. Remove from skillet; set aside.

PLACE Neufchatel cheese, flour and broth in skillet. Cook and stir with wire whisk until boiling. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer 5 min., stirring frequently.

DRAIN pasta; return to saucepan. Add Neufchatel cheese mixture, chicken mixture and 2 Tbsp. of the Parmesan cheese; mix well. Spoon into 2-qt. round casserole dish; cover with foil. Bake 25 min. Top with mozzarella and remaining 1 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese; continue baking, uncovered, 2 min. or until mozzarella cheese is melted.

I do plan on making this dish again for my family but I will make just a few changes. Why oh why I must change every recipe is beyond me. Sigh. But, change it up, I will.

Here's my future changes...
-I will season the chicken with salt and pepper when I put it in the skillet with the peppers and mushrooms. The chicken had no taste and needed seasoning.
-I will put 2 cloves of garlic in the skillet when I am cooking the chicken, peppers and mushrooms. Again, it needed "something" and, for my family, garlic is it.
-I will use 16 ounces of chicken broth instead of 14 ounces. It needed, in my opinion, just a little more liquid in it. It came out a tad too dry for us.

If any of y'all happen to make or already have made it, please let me know if y'all made any substitutions.

And frequent commenter, Bob's Wife, let me know if you try it, too!! :)

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Please pray for my mom...

Please pray for my mom. She has had severe rheumatoid arthritis for several years and had several surgeries for joint replacements. She is pretty much always in pain. Through it all, she is the godliest lady I know.

Last week, her hip started hurting very badly. My mom NEVER says she is in pain. Well, she said her pain was 10 on a scale of 1 to 10!! So that meant she was in BIG pain!! Turns out, she has shingles.

Last night (Wednesday night), she was getting up at 1:30 to go to the bathroom and fell. She has broken her hip and hit her head pretty badly and has stitches. She broke her hip in 3 places and they need to do surgery. They can’t do the surgery right away because she is on coumadin to thin her blood (she has blood pressure issues, too). She is in MUCH pain.

My dad has very bad health, too, and is at the hospital, worried and exhausted. Please pray for him, too.

My sweet parents are only 65 (dad) and 62 (mom).

Finally settling back in...

Ahhhhh.... home... I LOVE being home! The older I get, the more of a "homebody" I am. Anyone else that way?

We went to Callaway Gardens in Georgia last Thursday and got home Sunday. It was beautiful there!! I hadn't been there since I was in middle school so it was sort of a trip down memory lane for me (goodness, that makes me sound old!! HA!!!).

My parents decided a few months ago to take our family, my sister, and my brother and his family to Callway Gardens. They rented one of their villas. It was fun with all of us staying together and even more fun out sight-seeing all over the beautiful gardens. Oh, and my brother's daughter is only 1 1/2 months older than Elizabeth so the two of them had a big time playing together.

This week so far has been catching up on laundry (WHY do you wear more clothes when you are on vacation?????? I'll never figure that mystery out!!!) and doing regular housework. While I very much enjoyed being away, I missed the little daily things I do around our home to tidy it and keep it homey.

Ah, it is SO good to be home!!!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Whew!!! Life's been busy lately!!

Whew!!! Life's been SO busy lately!! Last weekend, Mr. U's father and mother came to visit us. It was wonderful getting to spend time with them. Whenever we go visit them, other relatives are always around so we hardly ever get them to ourselves. :)

Tomorrow we are leaving on a little family vacation for a few days. We are going to be staying in a villa that has a kitchen, so I've been trying to get some food together so that we don't have to eat out all the time.

I do look forward to being gone a few days and r-e-l-a-x-i-n-g!!!! Church is starting to head into a busy season with the holidays coming up. It'll be nice to catch our breath for a few days.

So, I'm sorry I haven't been able to visit your blogs lately. I have checked Julieann's because I've been worried about the fire in California being near her family. If you or a blogger you know is near the fire or their home is IN the fire, please let me know. I want to PRAY!!! I cannot imagine what it must be like to see flames like I've seen on TV.

Have a blessed weekend, y'all!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Yes, I've had my "vitamins"...

Just in case anyone was wondering, I have had my "Fall vitamins". Today, as a matter of fact.

Have you had your "Fall vitamins" yet?

Surely these MUST hold some special nutrients for Fall, don't you think? Tee hee!!!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

A handwritten letter...

Ladies, when was the last time you received a hand written letter? When was the last time you sent a hand written letter?

Why not take some time this week to sit down and write a note to a dear friend or family member. There's nothing like opening the mailbox to find a letter from a friend!!!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Pastor Appreciation Month...

Most of y'all have already heard by now that October is Pastor Appreciation Month. So, when was the last time that you thanked your pastor for following the Lord and leading the sheep in your church? Write him a note of encouragment, tell him how thankful you are for him and is faithfulness to the Lord and PRAY for him!! Pastoring a church is a hard job and pastors deal with so many issues that the majority of church members don't know about. He needs your encouragment and your prayers, so please tell him how much your family appreciates him.

I found a wonderful link at Revive Our Hearts entitled "31 days of praying for your Pastor". This would be a great tool to use to lift your pastor up in prayer!! Why not start today!!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

It's finally here!!!

Look what I found waiting for me in my mailbox yesterday!!!

Yes, Victoria Magazine is in full swing and I am one happy lady!! Oh and their website has wonderful treasures, too! I can't wait to spend time there, too!!

So, you all know what I am going to be doing today!!

Friday, October 05, 2007

Do you wear cleaning gloves?

Okay, so I do not normally wear cleaning gloves... but when I saw the super cute gloves that Kim and Aggie were wearing, I knew I needed to find some!!!

While I can't find their exact gloves, I did find a website with adorable cleaning gloves! It's called ComfyBath and the gloves are called Gloveables (how cute is that?). So in case anyone is interested in purchasing something besides the standard yellow gloves that we can find at any store, we now have a choice!!

Do any of you wear cleaning gloves on a regular basis? If so, how long have you been wearing them to clean?

(And yes, those are the cleaning gloves that I want!! TOOO CUTE!!!)

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Vision Forum...

I LOVE to read!! I love to curl up with a good book and get lost in the pages. Be it homemaking, historical fiction, biography, cookbooks or Christian fiction, I LOVE to read!!

One of my favorite places to purchase books from is Vision Forum. They have wholesome, Christian literature that is encouraging, challenging and uplifting. They have wonderful sales, too!! When one of their catalogs arrives in the mail, you will find me all alone, s-l-o-w-l-y pouring over the pages to figure out what newest adventure I want to go on through the pages of a book.

I just LOVE to read!!!

What about you? Where do you like to purchase your books? Do you LOVE to read, too??

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Taco Soup...

This is the recipe for the Taco Soup that we had yesterday. My sister-in-law gave me this recipe and we all love it. It's easy to make and pleases everyone who eats it. This freezes well, too, so doubling it would be a great idea!!

Taco Soup

2 pounds ground beef
2 onions, diced
1 package taco seasoning*
1 (15 ounce) can Great Northern Beans, rinsed and drained
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
1 large (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 small (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 cup chicken broth
Cheddar cheese, shredded
Sour Cream

In a stock pot, brown ground beef. Drain if it is greasy. Add diced onions to the beef as well as the taco seasoning. Cook about 10 minutes over medium high heat until onions start turning translucent. Stir in beans, corn, tomatoes, tomato sauce and chicken broth. Bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer. Simmer about 30 minutes until all the flavors are combined. When you serve it, top with cheddar cheese and sour cream.

This is also very good on top of fritos!! YUM!!

*I did not use a taco seasoning package. I always make my own. Here's the recipe I use.

Taco Seasoning Mix
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

"Depending on how spicy you and your family like your dishes, use as little or as much as you want."

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Just a quiet day here...

I just love walking outside in the mornings and being greeted by these happy morning glories!!! The Lord is SO sweet to give us such beautiful things to look at and be reminded of Him and His creation.

Today is going to be a rather quiet day around our home. Just normal household chores to be done- Elizabeth's laundry, vacuum the house, clean the master bathroom. For lunch today (lunch is our main meal of the day), I am making my sister-in-law's Taco Soup. YUM! And I just may make Kelli's Maple Cookies. They look SO delicious!!!

I look forward to days like this that aren't so busy. I get time to read more, make a few phone calls to friends I haven't spoken with in a while, and I will take time to read some of the deeper, more meatier blogs that I don't always get around to.

So, what are you up to today? Is it a busy day in your household?

Monday, October 01, 2007

How to eat a biscuit...

Choose the biscuit that you would like to eat.

If you cannot pick up the entire biscuit, carefully pick up a piece in your hand.

Take a bite of your biscuit.

Enjoy eating your biscuit (but please try to keep your mouth closed while you are chewing).

Eat only as much as needed. You do not need to finish the entire biscuit if you aren't that hungry. Oh, and mommy will happily clean up your dishes. :)

Friday, September 28, 2007

My parents...

I am so blessed. This past Sunday, September 23, my parents celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary. 40 YEARS!!!!! Can you believe that?

In a day and age of quickie divorces, these two have stayed the course. They haven't had an easy time, either. Aside from the fact that they had three children (two of which are very strong-willed!!!), both of them have dealt with major health issues. They could have easily given up and walked away thinking, "I deserve better than this!", "I don't have to do this kind of stuff!", "I want to be able what I want to do!!!". But they haven't. They have truly modeled a godly marriage to my brother, sister and I.

Are they perfect? No. But they sure have given me an earthly example of what unselfish love looks like. I am so blessed, indeed.

I love you Dad and Mom!!!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Healthier cleaning products...

A dear lady left a comment on one of the posts yesterday asking for recommendations for safe, non-toxic cleaning products while she is pregnant. PLEASE forgive me, but I do not remember who asked! I cannot find the comment either! Oh dear!!

I did a little research and it all led back to my favorite cleaning ingredients plus a fresh smelling ingredient- vinegar, baking soda and lemons!!!

Here are some sites that give wonderful information about cleaning with these products:

Vinegar Tips

27 Ways to Clean with Baking Soda

3 Homemade Natural Cleaning Products

Vinegar, Baking Soda and Lemon Cleaning Resources

As with anything, please check with your doctor or midwife before using any products while pregnant.

Happy cleaning!!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Passionate Housewives: Desperate for God

Oh ladies!!!! A wonderful new book will be out soon!! Jennie Chancey (Ladies Against Feminism) and Stacy McDonald ("Raising Maidens of Virtue") have collaborated on a new book entitled "Passionate Housewives: Desperate for God".

Here's a little bit about it from Mrs. McDonald's blog...
Have you struggled to reconcile God’s vision of virtuous womanhood with worldly myths that marginalize and mock the role of the homemaker? Do you wrestle with cultural messages that demean the homemaker’s calling and exalt instead the emotionally androgynous power-woman—the wife whose worth is measured only by the degree of her ambition, the shape of her body, or her money-making skills? Such is the image of the “desperate housewife” that the modern media, culture, and feminism are promoting with great energy.(You can read more here.)

I so look forward to reading this book!! The only problem is that I have to wait about a month until it comes out- oh dear!!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Crock Pot Lentil Soup

We LOVE lentils here in our home and I was so excited to try a recipe from a friend. She makes the BEST lentil soup!! Her secret? Ham hocks.

Now, I know that most of y'all probably don't think twice about using ham hocks in cooking. But I've never used them before and, quite frankly, I was a little scared of them. I'M NOT JOKING!!!!! They are used a lot in Southern cooking, and though I am Southern, my mom never used them in cooking. I just didn't know what to do with them.

Well, I'll tell you what!! I definitely know what to do with them now! They flavored this soup sooo beautifully! If you haven't used them before in cooking, try it! You just may LOVE the flavor!!!

Crock Pot Lentil Soup

1 bag of Lentils, rinsed and soaked overnight
1 onion, diced
4 stalks of celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 cloves of garlic, diced
2 smoked ham hocks
5 cups chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste

Add all ingredients to crock pot. Set on low and cook for 7 hours. Serve with fresh baked rolls.

6-8 servings

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Simple Pleasures...

Don't you just love it when you are "walking" through blogland and you come across a post that just makes you smile?

Recently, I read a post entitled Simple Pleasures over at Hope in Laodicea. Here, the author, Ingrid Schlueter, talks about how the simple things in taking care of her family make her so very happy.

I love this quote,
"There’s something in most women that God placed there that if given the chance, really thrives on the simple work of serving our families."

The entire article is so encouraging! Be sure and take time to read it.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

What a lovely day!!

This morning, Mr. U and I decided to go to a local park for our morning walk. Elizabeth was MORE than happy to get out in this cool weather and enjoy her stroller. The temperature was 58 degrees when we arrived and the skies the clearest blue.

After we walked, we headed over to the children's play area. Mr. U held Elizabeth and slid her down the slide. Then he climbed to the top of the slides and gently let Elizabeth slide down to me. I grabbed her about 1/3 of the way down the slide (it was a short slide, too) because I was worried she would be scared. Silly me. She was all smiles and held her arms out to daddy to slide again!!! We'll be heading back to the park soon so she can slide more.

As we were leaving the park, I spied the first "official" sign of autumn- the leaves!!! Finally I found some leaves around here that have changed to their glorious fall colors!! Yippee!!! Now... I just need a hot mug of apple cider and I'll be set for today!!!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Fall is on it's way!!!

The weather this morning is a sure sign that fall is on it's way. HOORAY!!!

I walk two days a week with a dear friend at a nearby school. We were both quite surprised this morning when arrived at the walking track to find how chilly it was!! Shivering, we walked and talked and were both VERY excited to have left those 100 plus temperatures and have this lovely cool weather to welcome us outside.

The windows in my home are wide open right now and I can smell that nice "outside" smell drifting in on the breeze. Today is a busy day with homekeeping duties, meeting good friends for lunch and running errands, but I am SO happy to be doing these on a much cooler day!!

What are your plans today?

How is the weather where you are? Can you tell that fall is on the way?

Friday, September 14, 2007

How Clean is Your House?

Just to let you know, our family is usually a little behind times when it comes to TV shows. So I won't be the least bit surprised when y'all tell me that you've been watching this show for years!! What show? "How Clean is Your House?" on BBC America.

Last night was the first time I had seen the show. These two ladies, Kim and Aggie, went into a DISGUSTING house to help the lady get it cleaned and taught her how to keep it clean. I was shocked that the house was soooo dirty!! However, I loved learning the cleaning tips they gave (like using lemonade to remove hard stains in the toilet!!!). They really gave the house a good scrubbing and the lady was SO happy with the end result.

Another interesting thing I learned about was about...well...I hate to share such icky things... but... dust mite fecal. UGH!!! Kim and Aggie kept referring to all the germs that dust mites carry and how they leave their fecal (albeit microscopic) all over the house!!!! MY STARS!! I could barely go to sleep last night!! All I could think of was the dust mites on my pillow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I have no idea how this dear lady's home got to be the horrible condition that it was, but, ladies, make sure that you are taking care of your home so that it never gets to that point! Please!!!!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Just in case you've ever wondered...

Just in case you've ever wondered, when a recipe for roasting chicken breasts says to "rinse and pat dry" each breast, please do so.

The recipe was simple.
"Rinse and pat dry" chicken breasts. Place them in a roasting pan and drizzle 2 teaspoons of olive oil over them. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in a 400 degree oven 45-55 minutes until juices from chicken run clear.

I learned a hard and smelly lesson this morning. I thought "Why should I pat the chicken dry? It's going in the oven. The heat from the oven will make the water evaporate." WRONG!! Why? Because when you roast chicken in the oven, you always use some olive oil, too. The mixture of oil and water in the oven caused a whole lot of smoke!!!! There wasn't enough smoke to make the smoke alarms go off (thank the Lord!!!), but the oven is VERY dirty from the chicken popping all over the place!!!!

So, the chicken breasts are finally done. They don't smell nor do they look funny. All that's left for me to do is to do is to let the chicken cool down and shred it.

Oh, and clean the oven. Can't forget to do THAT today!!

Lesson learned.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Yes, I am alive...

Hi y'all! Yes, I am alive and well. I just needed a little time off from blogging. I do apologize for not sharing that beforehand. Very rude of me indeed. Please forgive me.

I'm going through a blogging slump. Last week I found myself thinking "I should blog!!" but then couldn't, for the life of me, come up with anything to blog about. I think I just needed a mindless week to do my day to day jobs, put Melissa & Doug puzzles together for the millionth time, play with the Tupperware Shape-O ball yet again and just watch Elizabeth have a joyful time eating spaghetti and meatballs while feeding HERSELF!!!!

So, here I am, back and semi-refreshed and ready to visit y'all's blogs!! I'm still in a fog about what to blog about, but I'm sure if the Lord wants me to share something, then He will make it clear.

Have a blessed day and be SURE and spend time with the Lord today!! What an honor it is to be able to open His Word, sit at His Feet and truly KNOW the Creator of the World!!!!

Friday, August 31, 2007

Silly procrastination...

What does this picture of Elizabeth have to do with this post? Nothing. I just think she's adorably cute and wanted to share!! :)

Do y'all ever procrastinate about anything? My son and I have referred to ourselves as the king and queen of procrastination. HAHA!!

Yesterday I did two things in our home that I have put off and put off. First I needed to clean above the door frames. You know that little section above that door frame that sticks out from the door? I have noticed dust up there and it's been driving me NUTS looking at it. But, of course, I noticed it LAST WEEK and just yesterday finally cleaned it off. LOL!! And you know what? I cleaned that part of every door in our home and it took only about 20 minutes to do it!! Just two quick wipes was all it took above each door frame and ta-da they are clean!!!

The other job that I've been putting off is washing our windows. In the past, I have said that mopping is my most dreaded part of cleaning. Nope. I've discovered that I washing windows is worse!!! That would definitely explain why I haven't cleaned our windows since JANUARY this year!!! Oh my!!! And before that it had been TWO YEARS since they were last clean!!!!!! Yes, it's true!!!! So, I have decided to mend my ways and put myself on a monthly window cleaning schedule!!! When they are cleaned more often, it's MUCH easier to clean them!

Anyway... I started cleaning the windows and I cleaned all of them in our house in about 45 minutes!!! That was MUCH faster than I had anticipated! I was very happy to be done with cleaning them AND that it was much faster that I had expected!!!

So... what dreaded task have YOU been putting off? Tackle it today!!! I bet it'll take a whole lot less time and energy than you think!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Physical Demands of Homemaking

I am FAR from in shape. In fact, I need to lose a good bit of weight. I've been trying to exercise several days of week. Do I like exercising? No. Do I like that it is good for my body? Oh yes! And I want to be healthy so that I can care for my family until I am 100 years old or more!!

I really enjoyed reading Elizabeth's post entitled "The Physical Demands of Homemaking: Specificity of Training" over at A Merry Rose. After I read the article, I was motivated to get up and exercise! I want to be better at my tasks as a homemaker and exercising is a way to accomplish just that.

Do you exercise? Why? Do you feel that it helps you as your role as a homemaker?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

My weekly cleaning schedule...

I LOVE having a clean home. But in order to HAVE a clean home, I must first clean it!! Haha!! I know, that's a no-brainer, but for someone who used to despise cleaning, it wasn't a fun process to learn.

When I was growing up, I have to admit, I was a horrible help to my mother when it came to cleaning. I don't know how she survived my complaining all the time. I would do jobs half-way just to get through them. I am sure that I frustrated her beyond belief!! She must have prayed for me A LOT because I've come a looooong way from dreading cleaning to actually looking forward to it!!!

The main thing that has helped me come to enjoy cleaning is a schedule!!!! I have a weekly schedule that keeps me focused and there are only a few things that I do each day so that I'm not completely overwhelmed. When Mr. U and I first married, I used to do all my cleaning on Monday so that I would have the rest of the week free. Well, I eventually started loathing Mondays because I was doing SO much cleaning in one day. So for me, that didn't work, but having a schedule does!!

Here's my basic schedule. I say basic because it is subject to change at any time. If I find out someone is stopping by, I may change my vacuuming days around or even have to launder clothes the next day... you get the picture.

Sunday- the Lord's Day

Monday- wash Mr. U's and my clothes

Tuesday- vacuum entire house, clean master bathroom, wash Elizabeth's clothes, bedding and towels

Wednesday- mop kitchen, wash master bedroom sheets and towels, wash Joshua's sheets and towels, scrub shower walls, scrub bathtub

Thursday- wash Mr. U's and my clothes

- vacuum entire house, clean master bathroom, dust master bedroom, wash bathmats in both bathrooms, wash all trashcans

Saturday- enjoy family time :)

Daily I do things like wash the kitchen counters, sweep the kitchen and eating area, make the kitchen sink shine (ode to FlyLady), and declutter any areas that seem to be building a pile of clutter!!!

The whole family has jobs, too. Joshua makes sure that he keeps the hall bathroom and his bedroom clean as well as dusting the living room and taking out the trash (daily). Elizabeth... well... Elizabeth is learning to pick up toys and put them back where they belong. Even Mr. U will lend a hand. He puts away the dishes in the dish drainer every night. (When we first married, Mr. U asked me what job he could do to help me out. I didn't know what so he suggested putting away the clean dishes because he knew that it wasn't my favorite job! How SWEET of that man!!!).

What about you? Do you have a basic weekly cleaning schedule? If so, please share it! I would love to have a post one day linking to all of your cleaning schedules!! What fun!

Giveaway- Super cute bag!!

Y'ALL!! Giveaway alert! And it's for a super cute bag!! Head on over to Musings of a Housewife and enter! Oooooh!!! Cute bag for fall! I would LOVE to win this!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Where the king lays his head...

Now, this isn't a fairy tale, ladies. I'm talking real life here. "The king" is your husband. "Where he lays his head" is, obviously, your bed. What about where he lays his head??

After reading Mommy Bee's post over a month ago entitled A Heavenly Bed, I've been on a mission to make the place where Mr. U, the king of our home, lays his head more comfortable. Mr. U works so very hard. When he is resting at night, I want him to sleep well.

Mommy Bee's post has been swirling around in my head for a while now. The first step I took was to purchase a fluffy mattress pad!!! I was looking online at different mattress pads and knew I could never afford the super nice one I was eyeing. I did, however, find a very fluffy and comfortable mattress pad at Target!!! I put it on our bed last Tuesday night and Mr. U said the bed is very soft! He didn't realize how hard the bed felt before we put this new mattress pad on.

This is only my first step in making our bedroom more comfortable for Mr. U. I love him so much. He is such a good, kind, loving, godly and SUPER SMART man!! I want to take extra special care of him!! After all, he is the king of our home!! :)

Friday, August 24, 2007

We're going on a picnic...

Okay, well, my family isn't going on a picnic and neither am I, for that matter. I am hostessing the ladies fellowship at our church in September and I have chosen the theme of "Picnics". That sounded fine and dandy at first. It actually sounded kind of FUN even. But now... I'm lost. What kind of decorating do you do for a picnic when the picnic is going to be indoors with ladies of all ages? We can't very well sit on the floor, nor can we have any three-legged races. (HAHA!! Now that would be fun!!!)

If y'all have any ideas or suggestions, please feel free to share them. I did think of red-checked table cloths and purchased them already. But how else can I decorate (with a small budget, please) to make it nice for all the ladies??

I do have the guest speaker all lined up for the night. Shhh. Don't tell any of the ladies, but our beloved pastor is going to be the speaker!!! He's the most talented, most godly, most HANDSOME pastor I've ever met!! (Please see my profile in the "About Me" section on the right.)

I look forward to any help/advice y'all can give!! :)

Thank you in advance!!!

Photo found here.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Making Iced Tea...

Many of us Southerners LOVE iced tea. For fun, I would love to know...

-which brand of tea does your family prefer to drink?

-how much sugar do you add to a gallon of tea?

This should be fun and interesting!! :)

Oh, I suppose I should answer, too! We currently use Luzianne (decaf) and I prefer 1 1/2 cups of sugar, but Mr. U prefers only 2/3 of a cup of sugar in his gallon of tea!! LOL!!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Mexican Chicken Soup and Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread

While I am VERY well aware that temperatures are soaring in most parts of the US right now (it's been in the 100s everyday for about 3 weeks here), when I discovered this recipe for Mexican Chicken Soup, I just HAD to make it.

Ina Garten, also known as the Barefoot Contessa, made these two recipes on her show recently. Her original recipes can be found here and here on Food Network. Typical me, I had to change the recipe around a bit because, well, simply because I can!! LOL!!

Here's my version...

Mexican Chicken Soup

3 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
2 cups chopped onions (2 onions)
1 cup chopped celery (2 stalks)
2 cups chopped carrots (4 carrots)
4 large cloves garlic, chopped
2 1/2 quarts chicken broth
1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes in puree, crushed
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander seed
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves, optional
12(6-inch) fresh white corn tortillas*
For serving: sliced avocado, sour cream, grated Cheddar cheese, fresh chopped cilantro and tortilla chips

Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the onions, celery, and carrots and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, or until the onions start to brown. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the chicken broth, tomatoes with their puree, jalapenos, cumin, coriander, 1 teaspoon salt , 1 teaspoon pepper, and the cilantro, if using. Cut the tortillas in 1/2, then cut them crosswise into 1/2-inch strips and add to the soup. Bring the soup to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 25 minutes. Add the shredded chicken and season to taste. Serve the soup hot topped with sliced avocado, a dollop of sour cream, grated Cheddar cheese, extra fresh cilantro and broken tortilla chips.

*the corn tortillas dissolve in the soup and is a thickener for the soup.

Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 cups milk
3 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melteds, plus extra to grease the pan
8 ounces aged extra-sharp Cheddar, grated, divided
1/2 white onion, finely diced
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced

Combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the milk, eggs, and butter. With a wooden spoon, stir the wet ingredients into the dry until most of the lumps are dissolved. Don't overmix! Mix in 2 cups of the grated Cheddar, the onion and jalapenos, and allow the mixture to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking pan.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top, and sprinkle with the remaining grated Cheddar. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool and cut into large squares. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Yield: 12 large pieces

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Yummy breakfast...

Mmmmmmmm... smoothies!!! I LOVE smoothies!!

A friend gave me a bunch of fresh fruit this past Sunday. She had taken it to church for a monthly fellowship and she had a lot left over, so she asked me if our family would like it. Like it? We LOVE fresh fruit! And it was already peeled and chopped, too!! Some of it will be used right away and some of it I can put in the freezer for later.

For our smoothies this morning, I threw some canteloupe, honeydew, pineapple and grapes into the blender and blended them up. Next I put in about a 1/4 of a cup of plain yogurt. While that was blending, I drizzled in some honey (taste it to see if it is the sweetness you like). You can also add some ice cubes to make it colder. Yum!

I used fresh fruit, but this can also be used with frozen as well for an extra cold and refreshing smoothie. I shared another smoothie recipe last summer. You can read about that here.

What did YOU have for breakfast this morning?


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