Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Old Gray Mare ... Not What She Used To Be

Several years ago my Saturday routine went something like this: sleep in until around 8:00, grab a cup of coffee and a quick bite to eat, tackle housecleaning with gusto. In those days my house was clean and polished and the weekly laundry completed by noon. I even had energy left to enjoy the rest of the weekend!

This morning my routine looked like this: slept in until around 7:00, leisurely enjoyed two cups of coffee in front of the television, ate breakfast, had a third cup of coffee, partially cleaned the house. As in emptied the dishwasher, cleaned the kitchen, 'swiffered' downstairs floors, cleaned one bathroom, and dusted downstairs. All in the time it used to take me to clean the entire house. By the way, I didn't have a great supply of energy oozing out afterwards either!

I asked my husband "What happened to that girl you married who could clean the house top to bottom in three hours?" He answered truthfully, "She was thirty plus years younger!" A fact that I am increasingly reluctant to admit. The able to do less part, not the younger part! My age has never been anything I've been depressed over.

However, it is frustrating to accomplish less in more time. It seems I am always leaving things undone because there are not enough hours in the day and energy left to do all I need and want to do. That, for me, is a negative issue to deal with as I grow older.

On the flip side, although the years have drained some of my energy, reduced my stamina, and slowed me down it has also given me more wisdom, patience, compassion for others, and understanding. I am slower to judge and quicker to stop and talk to someone who needs a listening ear. I am more likely to leave chores undone in favor of spending time with family and friends. I am much more interested in taking time to cook with my grandchildren than I am in having a spotless house. That leisurely start to my day this morning? It was more important (and fun) to spend the time with my husband than to stress over scrubbing my house.

And so I come to the latter part of a wonderful Saturday. The house is clean enough and I am not too tired to enjoy the rest of my evening. Our best friends are coming for a supper of leftover chili with chips & salsa on the side. (She's bringing dessert...Yeah!!) I have energy and time for the most important part of life...spending time with the ones I love.

Next time you feel like your get up and go got up and went...think about all the wonderful things that have replaced it. I really don't miss it at all.

And that old gray mare? Thank God, she is NOT what she used to be. She's just continuing to get better.

Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding? Job 12:12 (NIV)

The glory of young men is their strength, gray hair the splendor of the old.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Quick & Tasty Supper

I am blessed to have a husband who enjoys cooking. He learned a lot from his mom who, I am sure, was more than happy to share her kitchen with him! Since both of us have worked full time jobs since before we married, it was critical for the health and well-being of our sons to have a Dad who could put a healthy and yummy supper on the table. I have been the recipient of some of that good cooking the past few days. From baby back ribs on Sunday, to white beans and cornbread last night and fried catfish tonight....well, let's just say I am one spoiled chick! (I was a partner on 2 of those meals, by the way. We also enjoy cooking together. BIG SMILE)

It is not a usual week to have big meals two nights in a row. There are many more nights when we both come home too tired to spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Being empty nesters, it can be way to easy to zip through the drive through to pick up quick and UNhealthy food. Not good for our waistlines or our hearts. So I love coming up with quick and nutritious meals that we can put on the table quickly.

This week's Tasty Tuesday recipe is one of those. We both love brats or smoked sausages with sauteed onions & peppers. The usual method of serving said meal was piled on a bun. At the end of a particularly tiring day, I was faced with a shrinking pantry and two very hungry people. In my fridge was a package of turkey smoked sausage and some bell peppers. No buns but I did have brown rice and whole grain pasta in the pantry. And so this recipe was 'born'. It was a huge success (meaning BOTH Larry and I like it!) and has become a favorite go-to when time is limited.

Try it out and let me know what you think. (And if you have any tried and true quick & easy recipes that you don't mind sharing....leave a comment below.)


1 lb smoked turkey sausage (I use Eckrich brand)
1 each green, red, yellow and orange bell peppers
1 large sweet onion]
Tony Chachere’s Spice & Herb Blend
Spaghetti or Rice

Cut peppers and onion into thin strips and place in a lightly oiled 12” skillet. Cover and begin cooking over medium low heat. Add ½ cup water which will help to steam the vegetables.
Slice sausage in round pieces (like coins) and brown in medium hot skillet.

Serve over cooked spaghetti noodles or rice. Top with Tony Chachere’s seasoning to taste. This particular blend gives you a good spicy taste with less heat and salt than their regular Cajun Spice. When I cook this, I usually fix both spaghetti noodles and rice since I prefer spaghetti while Larry likes rice.

Hugs, (and happy cooking)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Hopes and Dreams Misunderstood

Hope is birthed in a mother’s heart at the same time a child is conceived in her womb. Hope for a future filled with happiness, love, and success. Many times it is hope for a better life for her child than what she experienced growing up. Her hope is rooted in good intentions. However, it is not always revealed in ways that support it.

Dreams, on the other hand, can’t be tied to a time schedule. They sprout in our hearts at different times in our lives. Little girls seem to naturally dream about one day being a bride but other dreams are specific to the individual, her personality, gifts and talents. Some dreams are so fragile that we fear speaking of them, afraid someone’s negative opinion will somehow steal our dream and with it, our future happiness.

In her Marta’s Legacy series, Francine Rivers skillfully weaves the story of five generations of women and how misunderstood hopes and dreams create a wall between mothers and daughters. I easily identified with the characters, understanding the mothers’ love but not the way they displayed it. I found myself relating to the daughters’ pain as they felt rejected and unloved. I ‘watched’ as the wall grew thicker and higher when a daughter appeared to love her grandmother more than she did her mother. At times, I felt like a therapist listening to two sides of a broken relationship. I wanted to yell out at them, “Talk to each other! Tell what you are really feeling! Stop ignoring the problem and get it out in the open!”

Francine has a knack of creating fiction that mimics life and she has once again excelled with “Her Mother’s Hope” and “Her Daughter’s Dream.” It made me stop and think about my own relationship with my mother. Though she has been gone now for over eleven years, I still miss her. I loved her dearly and still do.

But I know our relationship had its own walls created by misunderstanding and communication differences. I now wonder what her unspoken hopes for me were and how that affected the way she parented. I wonder how my responses impacted her. Did she feel rejected or devalued? Or did she know how much I loved and respected her? Although we did not always agree or have the same outlook on life, I always knew her love was unconditional and sacrificial. She lived it out loud every day in her actions.

I wish I could tell her.

But I can’t.

However, I can live the remainder of my life making sure I tell those I love how I really feel about them. I believe I need to talk to my adult sons about their childhood, making sure I don’t leave even a remnant of a wall between us. Changing misunderstanding to understanding. Paving the way for future generations of parents and children to be more open in their relationships. Granted, there will always be somewhat of a communication gap between generations. It is part of our genetic makeup. But too many hopes and dreams are never realized because of simply misunderstanding one another.

Will you join me in tearing down some walls?


P.S. By the way, I highly recommend you read these books!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Easiest Sticky Buns

Time for another recipe on 'Tasty Tuesday'! Since I began my weekly recipe postings with a breakfast recipe for the younger folks in my family, thought this week I would move up to something the adults around here really go for. Again, I do not suggest these are healthy and nutritious but there are just times when ya gotta splurge! (However, I only make these when I have a crowd to serve 'cause I could sit down with the whole pan and a pot of coffee and......let's just say it could get ugly!)

Sticky Buns

1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 bag frozen roll dough (24 balls)
1 small box cook 'n serve butterscotch pudding mix
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 stick REAL butter

Spray bundt pan with cooking spray. Sprinkle pecans evenly in bottom of pan. Add frozen roll dough. Top with pudding mix, brown sugar, and chunks of butter.

Cover loosely with plastic wrap which has been lightly coated with cooking spray to prevent sticking. Place in COLD oven overnight.

The next morning remove bundt pan from cold oven. Then preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place pan back into oven and bake for approximately 25 minutes. Allow to cool briefly (around 5-10 minutes)before transferring to serving plate. ENJOY!!

I guarantee these are the easiest and best sticky buns ever!!! People will think you slaved over them for hours.

...until next Tuesday, hope you have a Tasty Week!


Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Mid-Winter Thaw

Mmmmm. The warmth of the sun and rising temps today did more than melt the mounds of snow and ice. It also melted the dreariness that had settled into my spirit.

I know that I am not alone in relishing this mid-winter thaw. Everywhere I went today, people were smiling and commenting on the beautiful weather. Cars were lined up at all of the local carwash businesses waiting their turn to wash off the salt and road grime from their cars. (Alas, mine was not one of them. Each time I thought I might squeeze in a clean up, it seemed the lines were even longer!) I saw lots of folks out walking and jogging. After weeks of winter this brief hint of spring is a welcome gift, one to savor and be thankful for.

Of course I know winter is not over. We still have a few weeks to go before we can truly say below freezing temps and chances of snow are gone for good. However, days like today are bright spots that keep me going. They lift my spirits and give me renewed strength to face the next onslaught of winter. Instead of bemoaning the fact winter is not over, I rejoice in the beauty of today. I accept the gift.

When I am facing a winter in my soul, I believe God sends the same bright spots of hope to strengthen me for the continuing journey. But I have to recognize them for what they are. It is my choice. I can continue to moan, groan and complain about my circumstances, questioning why God isn't changing things to my liking. OR I can look for and be thankful for the rays of hope He sends. They come in many ways, perhaps through a phone call from a friend or an uplifting song on the radio. Maybe it is a smile from a loved one or a warm loaf of bread delivered from that special cook.

I've experienced each of these and more. They were reminders that God loves me. He doesn't leave me to wander through a soul winter alone, without hope.

I wish I could tell you that I go through all of my trials with a continuous smile on my face, praising Jesus. I really wish I could.

However, I am more apt to pull up a chair and have a pity party, with or without company. I tell God I know He is in control and He is working it out, then moments later find myself again in despair over the 'no end in sight' trial.

Today's mid-winter thaw reminded me to be more pro-active in looking for His moments of warmth and sunshine in my soul winters.


Be still and know that He is God, the Giver of all good gifts.


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Sharing Good Food Is Love

I've been thinking lately of how much cooking is a part of my life. It extends far beyond simply putting a meal on the table to provide nourishment. Plain and simple, it is an integral part of the fiber of life.

From basic meals for the two of us to the family feast of Thanksgiving and everything in between, for me cooking and sharing food is a way to share love. I remember my days of learning how to cook. I've had my share of undercooked, overdone, bland, over get the picture! But those were few as, through trial and error I actually became a cook. I used to marvel at those women who managed to cook up mouth watering treats without measuring a single ingredient. That was until I cooked family favorites so many times that I could do it in my sleep. Somehow the right amount of seasoning is added everytime with no measuring spoon in sight. Then there are other dishes that I would never attempt without the recipe. Some of my cookbooks display the evidence of that with their smudged pages and a bit of dried ingredients ground in.

Since this blog is about sharing my life, I figured it would be good to share a few recipes from time to time as well. Maybe you will see something you would like to try. Or perhaps one of my recipes will prompt you to share one of yours. (One can never have too many recipes to try, you know!)

For my Tasty Tuesday kickoff I thought I would share something that is a favorite for my grandchildren. If my oldest granddaughter or her little brother is visiting for breakfast, they love for me to fix french toast. My recipe probably doesn't differ much from yours.

2 eggs, beaten
1 cup milk
1/2 Tablespoon cinnamon
1 1/2 Tablespoons powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
6 slices thick bread (I use Kroger brand 'Texas toast')

Blend eggs and milk together. Add cinnamon and sugar and beat until well blended. Add vanilla. Pour mixture in a shallow bowl. Dip bread in mixture, allowing it to sit for several seconds on each side to absorb the liquid. Then place bread on a hot griddle or in a non-stick skillet. Cook about 1 minute on each side, continuing to flip over until desired degree of browning is obtained.

Serve with additional powdered sugar and cinnamon to sift over the top if desired. My grandkids will sometimes ask for maple syrup but mostly love the sweetness of the powdered sugar. This recipe is easily doubled (or tripled if cooking for a crowd!) I think the key is using thick bread. My daughter-in-law makes yummy from scratch wheat bread which would be delish!

Anyhoo.....give this a try on Saturday morning. (Maybe tomorrow morning if you are snowbound!)

The most important thing is to share a meal with those you love. You'll be creating (or continuing) a legacy of love.


Saturday, February 5, 2011

Who's Tired of Winter?

It appears the Winter of 2011 will go down in history books as one of the snowiest winters on record. All across the country folks are seeing back to back snowfalls, some for the first time in years. The daily weather forecast is dreaded instead of anticipated. Whether it is yet more snow to shovel or the seemingly endless dreary cloudy days,  a common thread is heard in many conversations. "I am tired of winter!"

Winter being my least favorite season to begin with, this year has been a definite challenge when it comes to keeping a positive outlook. When everyone around me is talking about the next snowfall, I try to tune out the conversation. Almost as if I don't talk about it, then it won't happen. Fat chance, hey?

The arrival of February changes my perspective a bit. I can tell myself spring arrives next month (funny how that makes such a difference). Seed catalogs begin arriving in the mail and simply by browsing through the pages, I think about the warm sunny days ahead and my garden abloom with assorted flowers. For you see, I know that spring always follows winter. I know that the seeds and roots that, for now, lie dormant beneath the frozen ground are simply awaiting the warmth of spring to send their new growth upward. The physical reality of changing seasons can not be denied.

Likewise, the spiritual reality of changing seasons in our lives can not be denied. There are times when we feel like we are walking through a never ending winter season. We see and feel nothing but dreariness, as though we are enveloped in a dark cloud. But the same God who designed the flow of changing seasons is the same God who cares for us through the changing seasons of our lives.

I can not physically see the new blooms that will appear in my garden in a few months but, based on what I have seen over several years I know that they will be beautiful. Each year my garden evolves. Some plants return like old friends, others are divided and shared with friends. Then there are spots where I place new plants, eager to see how their addition affects the overall beauty of the garden.

When I find myself in a spiritual winter season, I can't possibly know how God is going to bring me through it and what beauty awaits on the other side of it. But by remembering His faithfulness in previous dreary seasons, my hope is rekindled and strengthened. I am reminded that He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. His love has not grown cold, His mercy and grace are as bountiful as ever.

And so, just as I choose to tune out the 'gloom and doom' conversations around me about one more winter storm, I also must choose to tune out the 'gloom and doom' conversations I carry on in my mind when it seems I am stuck in a spiritual winter. Instead, I will choose to remember my God's past faithfulness. I will recount the ways He has blessed me. I will stand on His promises that He will continue to do so.

Until then....I wait for spring!

Are you traveling through one of those spiritual winters? I invite you to get out your own seed catalog and look at the pictures. As you do, think about the blessings that God has showered on you over the years. Just as the pictures of colorful flowers and enticing vegetables remind you of sunnier days ahead, allow your remembrances of God's past faithfulness in your life bring a smile to your face and a brighter outlook in your heart today.

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