Friends, sorry I've been M.I.A. It's been a very busy summer. The picture here is of me at our Shake It Up Cafe VBS. It's a long, tiresome week that I compare to sorority RUSH. We're in and out of town a lot too. But perhaps the biggest reason why I'm not on here blogging is because I'm back to writing for the paper. And when I write for work, the last thing I want to do in my free time is write some more. I'm also reconsidering the direction of this blog. What do I want it to look like, feel like and be? Perhaps you can give me feedback and let me know what you enjoy the most?
I probably won't be around much, so I wanted to let you know, just in case you missed me :) I hope you have a great rest of the summer. I will probably return when football season starts back up. That's when I become a football widow (wink).
Until then, God bless you!
Here is a true summertime favorite, Gelatin Poke Cake. A friend from church made this for potluck. Recently, I made it for a ladies group. It's super yummy, moist and easy to make. This recipe can most likely be found in church or community cookbooks. I found mine online at Duncan Hines
1 Small Box of Strawberry Flavored Gelatin or other favorite flavor ( You could do orange and do a pineapple/coconut topping with the whipped cream).
1 Box Duncan Hines White Cake Mix
1 1/3 Cups Water
1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil or Apple Sauce
1 Cup Boiling Water
1 Cup Cold Water
1 Container Light Whipped Topping
Sliced strawberries or sprinkles for topping
Prepare the cake mix as directed on the box and pour the batter into a 13" x 9" greased baking pan. Bake as directed.
After it is baked, take it out and allow the cake to cool.
As the cake is cooling, you can prepare the Jello.
To do this, dissolve package of gelatin in 1 cup of boiling water. Then, add 1 cup of cold water.
Now, you want to take a skewer (some people use a fork) and poke holes all around your cake. Pour the gelatin mixture evenly over the cake. Now, cover and put in the frig for a couple of hours to set.
When you are about to serve the cake, top it with the whipped cream and berries or other decorations. Enjoy!
Yesterday marked the 2 month anniversary of the terrible outbreak of tornadoes in the South. Today, I watched workers put a new roof on my neighbor's house.
Authorities have said that three tornadoes started in our little town...an F1, F3 and F4. On April 28th, my son and I spent much of our day sheltered in a coat closet.
Waves of warnings went on throughout the day. But it was the last round of the storms that hit us. A good friend who is a meteorologist gave me a heads up two days earlier about the rash of storms that were going to hit. The day of the storms, he updated me when to take cover on Facebook. Brian warned me that the later storm would be the worst one of the day. Our cable went out around 6 p.m. and we lost our TV and computer. We still had our lights. Just after 8, I was putting Ben to bed when our lights flickered and our TV did a weird zap thing. I heard the wind blow really hard against the wall I was leaning against and something inside of me told me to grab Ben and go. My husband met us in the hall and told us to get in the closet quick. My ears popped and I heard the wind howl along with snapping of branches outside. It was all over in under a minute. When we emerged from our closet, we were scared of what we might see. But we were blessed, our roof, walls, windows were all there! We walked over to a big window in our living room and saw the transformer outside blow. It looked like the 4th of July right in our front yard. Later, we discovered that a phone line snapped in two also. By then, all of our lights were out and we went around the house with our flashlights. Adrenaline rushing through our bodies, we were excitedly going through the house making sure it was OK. Then, we headed outside to check on our neighbors and see if we could see what happened. By then, it was pitch black outside and we couldn't see a thing. Early the next morning, we saw the damage.
(Literally knocked off it's rocker)
(City and County crews were on the scene right away)
(Our yard...and our driveway is under there somewhere)
(One of several phone lines)
The Weather Channel along with other authorities said we were hit by the start of what turned into an F4 tornado that ran up the mountain and into the next town, killing four people. For the rest of the week, friends from church stopped by and helped us clean up. When he saw our house, my friend's son said angels were all around us and the church.
I felt that was probably the best answer and most reassuring thing I heard that day.
Here are pictures of that day. I have tried to match up pictures of today to compare.
(Looking at our house and our neighbor's, street view)
(These were replaced in a couple of days!)
(No more house....
There was a barn there as well, but the storm blew that away, so it's not in either picture.)
(There was once a line of Bradford Pear trees between us and our neighbors. This was the only one left after the storm. It's not there anymore either)
And here are some other pictures that I didn't know where to place in this piece, but they are interesting.
(I was told this was an 80 year old tree)
(One of our maple trees that I hope we can save. I cried when I saw how badly damaged our trees were. It use to be HUGE. And in the fall, it has the most brilliant color. It seems silly that I cried over trees when others lost so much more.)
(Strangely, the smallest middle tree had the least amount of damage)
(Our neighbor's garage was blown away.
They had a brand new 1-week old riding mower in there! Guess what, the mower was just fine.)
(The garage was blown to the other neighbor's yard)
The Chattanooga Times Free Press has written several stories about survivors and the towns hit. They had a heartfelt piece in Sunday's paper about those who were killed. Here is a link to part of the story Chattanooga Times Free Press "We all lost so much." Here is another part of the story that really touched me: "Precious Lives"
There is a sweet lady at our church who always makes this lemonade for every pot luck or special event that we have. We have come to expect Ms. Mildred to make this lemonade and are disappointed if she doesn't make the event. Try it, I'm sure you will love it too.
1/2 c sugar
2 packets of Sweet-n-Low
1 can Sprite
1 Lemonade packet (she gets hers from Dollar General)
Fill the rest of the pitcher with water
Stir well and chill
You will want to serve it soon because of the carbonation from the soda makes it fizzy and fun to drink. Enjoy!
For those of you who don't know, I'm a Certified Lay Speaker in the United Methodist Church, which simply means that I can help fill in with Bible studies, preaching, etc. Today, Gerald let me preach for him. I was really excited last month when he gave me the thumbs up to do it. But this week, as I tried to prepare to write it, my world had a million things happen at once. My mom was hospitalized and was very, very sick. At once point, I thought she would never get out, it was that serious and scary. Then, we went to Annual Conference, held at Lake Junaluska in North Carolina. While there, I tried to go to a coffee house with my husband's laptop to work, but my mind was on Mom. It wasn't until about Tuesday that I heard that she would be okay. Then, we got home and my son got sick. He's still sick. Luckily, my husband helped step in and we tag teamed to watch Ben. Surprisingly, today's sermon went pretty well. I am only going to share the very first part with you, because they are memories of my dad. And this is one of my ways to celebrate him and tell him I love him. By the way, he was at church today, and I made him cry! :)
"Lessons Learned From Dad"
There is a book called the "5 Love Languages"...it tells about how people give and receive love and there are 5 main ways they do this
Acts of service
and Words of Affirmation
Gerald's is Acts of Service. He feels the most loved when I do the dishes at home because that is usually his job. So I asked if I could preach for him today as part of his Father's Day gift.
Gerald is a great dad. He and Ben have a bond that is different than the one Ben and I share.
I had a really hard delivery, had to go back to the hospital and then I was on 6 weeks of bed rest.
So Gerald had to dive into the deep end of fatherhood and learn how to swim quickly. He did it all from rocking Ben to changing diapers.
Today, when Ben gets hurt, he will run right past me and into his daddy's arms. That's where he is comforted.
When my dad was diagnosed with stage 3 prostate cancer last summer, my world fell apart. As an only child, I'm very close to my parents. And I wanted Ben to have a chance to know my dad and have memories of him. After I heard the news, I was flooded with my own memories and thoughts about what he means to me.
Dad taught me to enjoy the ride.
His favorite motto when I was growing up was "He who dies with the most toys wins." And Dad tried to live by that.
We had a Jeep and would pile in it to ride in the high desert of Southern California. Being in California meant we had beautiful weather most of the time, so Dad had motorcycles too. And either myself or Mom would hop on the back and we would go to the coast or mountains or desert to explore. Dad also liked to show off his classic cars in car shows.
My dad has a great sense of humor.
He was my partner in crime when I was growing up. We loved to jump out from nowhere and scare Mom. It may be why she has a heart problem today!
And one year for April 1st, he helped me concoct a plan to get my friends. He wrapped up my arm to make it look like I got hurt. And all day my friends carried my books, took notes for me in class...they even tied my shoelaces! And at the end of the day when we were saying good-bye, I waved to them and said "Bye! Happy April Fool's Day!"
My friends flipped! And at the end of the day when Dad got home, he wanted to know every detail and laughed. My parents still tell that story to people today.
My parents were always there for me when I was growing up. No matter what kind of trouble I got into, they were there to bail me out.
When I was a teenager, I carried a quarter in my shoe. Today, kids have cell phones. But car phones were attached to the car and were the size of bricks back then. And not everyone had one. So I carried a quarter in my shoe in case I needed to call home.
And I did have to use it one time. My friends and I were at McDonald's hanging out when they all decided they wanted to do something more fun, but I thought that fun would be trouble. So, I went to the pay phone to call my parents.
Dad came and got me. They always told me that they would pick me up wherever I was without questions.
When I was picked up, Dad told me he was proud of me for choosing to come on home and trusting him.
Dad has a lot of great qualities
I can trust him
He wants the best for me
He makes quality time for me, even now when I'm all grown up. He's here today!
Dad taught me that when you are given something, you take care of it.
When I was given my car, before I got the keys, my dad made me read the Owner's Manual from cover to cover. Then, he gave me a test! And to keep the privilege to have the keys, I had to wash my car inside and out weekly.
He wanted me to appreciate something that was valuable.
You know, our Heavenly Father has all these attributes too. The Bible is full of wonderful stories about people's relationship with him. But even today, people can tell you what he is like.
He wants us to enjoy the ride while we are here on earth.
No matter what kind of trouble we get into, he is there for us.
He has a great sense of humor.
Quality time is important to him
We can trust him - he comforts us.
God listens to us.
He wants the best for us
And when He gives us something, He wants us to take good care of it.
The sermon goes on, but I just wanted to share a piece of today's message. And here is the end, I'd love to hear about your memories and the special men in your life.
I am blessed to have a great dad. But I also have a great husband, wonderful uncles, memories of a loving grandpa, and sweet men here at church who look after me.
Who are the great men in your life? As we remember them, I want to encourage you to call them and let them know they are special.
When I'm with Ben, I think he is so cute. And my heart swells with so much love for him. And I think, if I love my child this much, how much more must our Heavenly Father have for us?
So let's take a moment to remember the World's Greatest Dad - our Heavenly Father, who loves us always and has given us so much. Try to find a way to celebrate Him today.
Our first full day back from all our coming and going was yesterday, but it took me today to finally sit down and make out this week's menu and go shopping. Here is what we have on the menu: For tonight, I got a Rotisserie chicken from the Deli Department at our store. Aren't those the greatest? When I arrived, I asked when the freshest would be ready, I was told 45 minutes. It took me that long to shop, so I walked out with a hot one! After I divide it between my family, I save a bunch in a bowl (you know, all the little pieces that you can pull off ) and save it for tomorrow.
chicken, corn on the cob, baked potato and watermelon
Southwest chicken soup with leftover chicken, can of corn corn, diced tomatoes, mixed beans, Ranch dressing packet, package of taco seasoning and whatever else sounds good at the time.
We just got home from a long two weeks mostly away from home. I say mostly because when we were at home, I was either at a friend's baby shower or at the hospital with my mom (who was very, very sick, but is now home getting better there). We came home to nothing in the pantry or frig that I wanted. Then, I remembered something my friends make for our Bible study group: Homemade cinnamon tortillas. Super easy to do too.
Here's what you need:
Tortillas (I cut up 3, but I think 1 or 2 would do just fine)
Pam or other spray oil that is butter flavored
Sugar or Splenda
Cut your tortillas in pieces
Arrange on a cookie sheet and spray with your butter flavored oil
Generously sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar/Splenda
Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes or until they look toasted. Warning, if you are really hungry for a snack like I was, the amazing scent is almost too much to bear. I couldn't wait to get my hands on the chips! Kinda think of it, if you are trying to sell your home or are having people over and you want your home to smell good, bake some of these babies up.
In the past, I've had these when they are cooled. But they are really yummy warmed up and fresh from the oven. These keep pretty well in an air tight container for later snacking.
When Ben was 2, a good friend who I grew up with was telling me about classes her son started taking when he was 2...cooking classes! I was so surprised. I didn't realize a little one could pay attention so well and would actually do good in the kitchen. So I tried it out. You know what? Since we tried it out, he has been my little helper ever since. He loves to bake.
Try it with your kids.
First, get everything set up like they do on cooking shows that you watch on TV. Get everything pre-measured and in containers that little fingers can grab. I even crack open eggs and put them in a plastic mug so it will be easy for him to dump.
Next, get your child so they are at a level that is easy for them to work. Here, I have Ben set up on a high stool up against the counter top. It may be easier to put them in their high chair or at the family dinner table.
Then, I point to whatever the recipe calls for and let him put it in the bowl. He likes to stir the mixture too.
The best part is licking the spoon afterward, but make sure there aren't any raw eggs in your mixture. Raw eggs can contain salmonella and make you sick.
When it comes to putting things in the oven or taking it out, that is for grown ups or big, big kids to do. Always be cautious with little people around an oven...and teach them to not play with the door.
Have you tried to cook with your little person? How did it go? Do you have a favorite thing that you make together?