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Nov 28, 2008

Keepin' It Real - Good Times, Tom Turkey and Ted

We shared an early Thanksgiving meal with my folks in MS a few days ago. Once home in Florida, however, it was just the 5 of us around the dining room table Thursday. Okay...6, I can't leave out Ted - the WonderPUP. Although he did not have a chair at the table he did wait patiently for a little deep fried Tom.

One Fine Man, TechSon, Skate-Boy & Guitar Girl hammin' it or turkeyin' it up for the BlogCam...
Most of our meal is on the sideboard behind Guitar Girl. Once again, my favorite dishes were Mother's cornbread dressing and my sweet potato souffle with praline topping!
Pst! I have a secret fantasy - of a picture perfect Holiday meal. It involves everyone dressed in their holiday finest, the table beautifully set, the food hot and ready to serve at the same time, a perfectly carved turkey, pleasant conversation, no one leaving the table until everyone is finished, and the dishes washed and put away in record time! But I realize my picture perfect ideal will probably not happen. Because there's a little issue called REAL LIFE!
Nevertheless, what we have is still fine by me. But in the interest of keepin' it real, let me point out some of our realness. I suspect you might be able to relate...
Keepin' It Real moments: Notice the giant Tervis Tumbler One Fine Man is using. And I whisked away Guitar Girl's Diet Pepsi bottle before I took the picture. (Even though I do have a set of crystal goblets.)
TechSon finished his meal first, as usual, holiday or no holiday.
'So glad there is no smell-a-blog because Skate-Boy was out skateboarding moments before we sat down to eat.(I did make him wash up and change his dirty shirt!) And the male people all wore T-shirts!
Alas, my turkey carving skills need the help of Bobby Flay or Alton Brown, or at least the Publix poultry guy. (Oh well, you can't see how I carved it once it's between 2 pieces of bread spread with Hellman's! Like I said, Keepin' It Real!
Not so picture-perfect, but I'll take it!
Here is our Fried Tom below. Thanks to our Neighbor I didn't do anything to it but prepare it for the deep fryer. Nice! Old Tom looked pretty handsome before I came at him with the carving knife!
Deep Fried Tom rubbed with Creole seasoning...

And introducing Ted the pekingese...Wait for it, wait for it...(turkey, that is).
Later in the day our friends from NC came by for apple cake w/caramel glaze, coffee, and faith-filled conversation.
Although my picture perfect idea of Thanksgiving Dinner hasn't happened yet, still you can't get much better than a day filled with faith, family, friends and food!
And that is keepin' it real ~ good!
So what were your keepin' it real moments on Thanksgiving Day? I'd love to know. Do tell!

Nov 22, 2008

Twice as Nice - Our 2 TG dinners!

We're back from a quick trip to visit with my parents in MS. Sunday we shared an early Thanksgiving meal: turkey, dressing, chicken & dumplings, black eyed peas, turnip greens, and sweet potato souffle. My mother makes the best chicken & dumplings and cornbread dressing. (This is my plate. Forget the turkey-I'll take the sides!)

Today I will be cleaning house, and prepping for our TG meal. It will just be the 5 of us here for an early dinner and then later in the day our wonderful friends from NC will be dropping by for a visit. Guitar Girl's beau will be making an appearance, also.

Tomorrow's menu: deep fried turkey (our neighbor deep fries his and ours - Thanks, neighbor!), cornbread dressing, sweet potato souffle, corn, vegetable saute, and mashed potatoes (for my boys).
We'll have dessert when our friends arrive: fresh apple cake & ice cream (for the birthday girl), cookies & cheesecake. There will also be a puff pastry appetizer available for snacking.

How do you prefer to prepare your bird? Baked, smoked or fried? (Sounds like the title for a reality show, huh?) Do Tell!
For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food,
For love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.
--Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)
Photography by Linda Charlene

Nov 21, 2008

Friday's Fave 5 ~ replacing my Friday's Favorites!

1. Cheese grits - On Fridays I don't teach classes, so this morning I got to fix my favorite breakfast comfort food - cheese grits (don't even think about making instant). And to all ya'll nawthenuz, if you don't like grits, you just haven't had them fixed right!
2. A really good BOGO - Yesterday I went to Publix and bought one Hellman's Light and got the other one free! Sadly, Publix is now an enabler in my addiction to stockpiling the Hellman's. But what if I run out of Hellman's for all that leftover turkey next week and we can't make sandwiches? You tell ME, what would I do then? I get the sweats just thinking about the possibility...

3. Holiday themed kitchen towels - what can I say, I get a thrill from textiles. (I finally had to put my foot down (on a rug, no doubt) about my penchant for buying rugs - I'm serious.)

4. Christmas music! Now while I am dismayed at how Thanksgiving seems to have been totally overlooked in retail, I do love me some Elvis singing Blue Christmas.

5. Fridays off from teaching so I can clean house and catch up - Okay, truth, Fridays off from teaching so I can pretend I am going to clean house and catch up.

Nov 20, 2008

Wings To Soar

Perhaps you've noticed and maybe even wondered about the wings in my sidebar. At first I even had the wings in my header but it made it hard to read my quote Thoughts Soar with Words for Wings...

For many years, I have had an affinity for the symbolism of wings. A friend reminded me a few years ago that when I was a pageant contestant in our college days, my personal question from the emcee was, "If you could be any animal, what would it be and why?" I had totally forgotten all about the question much less my response. But my friend didn't forget. She said my answer was, "I would be a bird because then I could soar." Now while I don't care much for airline travel, I do enjoy those flying dreams I have on occasion. Right above the tree tops! And for home school science, I enjoyed the study of birds way more than my 3 students.
Recently I bought some framed bird prints for my bedroom and I have a few cool bird figurines I enjoy using for tablescapes.

But the reason I am drawn to wings is because it speaks to how Jesus freed me. He broke chains, bonds, and the gravity of sin and fear and set me free to soar! Even higher than the tree tops! While sometimes the dictates of culture and religiosity would clip the wings of women, it is Jesus who says, spread your wings and soar!
You see, when the wings of a bird in flight are widely outstretched, it circles round, rising without a single wingbeat, as if lifted by some invisible hand, higher and higher until it disappears from view. The beautiful dance it seems to be performing is known as soaring.

WINGS is an acronym that God gave me on a little walk and talk we shared one afternoon. I am a Woman In God's Shadow who soars high not in my own power but on the current of His love which sets me free to soar!

The beautiful photo above is by my friend, L~C, who has graciously offered me the use of her photographs. Many of her pieces of art have a spiritual connotation that draws my heart to the heart of God. I especially love this photograph because of the wings...do you see them?

But those who wait upon God get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles...

I'd love to hear how Jesus has given you wings to soar! Do tell.

A Soup~erb Give-a-Way!

Carol, at I Throw Like a Girl has a simply souperb give-a-way! I wanna win it! So I'm posting and linking ~ which should be called plinking! Go there. Comment! If I can't win it ~ I hope you do! Really, I do. If you win, try out my potato soup recipe ~ you'll have a headstart on the ingredients.

Nov 19, 2008

How Do You Spell Thanksgiving?

At THANKSGIVING I am thankful for:

Even though there is no M or D in Thanksgiving - Mom & Dad, thank you for modeling Christ in our home and in your ministry as you blessed so many lives!

What will cause Thanks~Giving to rise and swell within your heart this season?

Nov 18, 2008

What's For Dinner? Slow Cooker Potato Soup

Jennifer at Smelling Coffee posted a recipe for ZESTY POTATO SOUP on Monday.
I'm trying out Jennifer's recipe the next time I need a quick and tasty potato soup.
But since I already had all the ingredients needed for my Southern Living Slow Cooker Potato Soup, that is What's For Dinner esta noche en mi casa. I guess it's just a potato soup kind of week!

Homestyle Potato Soup

1 (14 1/2 oz.) can chicken broth

4 cups peeled, cubed baking potatos (about 2 lbs) I scrub mine & leave peels on.

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup thinly sliced celery

3/4 cup thinly sliced carrot

3 T butter, cut into small pieces

3 garlic cloves, minced

salt/fresly ground pepper to taste

1/4 cup flour

1 1/2 cups milk

7 T shredded sharp cheddar cheese (optional)

1. Place first 9 ingredients in 4 1/2 quart slow cooker; stir well. Cover w/lid; cook on high-heat setting 1 hour. Reduce to low-heat setting, and cook 4 - 5 hours or until vegetables are tender. Increase to high-heat setting.

Just after adding the first 9 ingredients (above)

Ready for the flour/milk addition (left)~ 25 minutes to thicken up (right)
2. Place flour in a bowl; gradually add milk, stirring w/a whisk until well blended. Stir into soup. Cook, uncovered, 25 minutes or until thick, stirring frequently. Ladle into bowls; sprinkle w/cheese and add more cracked pepper, if desired.

Soup's On!

Behold ~ The Beauty of Soup!
The picture up top is from the Southern Living Slow Cooker Cookbook - 123 Luscious Recipes to Come Home To

Nov 17, 2008

Monday Magnificat ~ The Living Water Waits

Once Jesus was on His way to Galilee. But, the Scripture says, He needed to go through Samaria. This need was not a geographical consideration - not a shortcut. The ONE who was sent of God, who spoke the words of God and had the Spirit without limit was divinely led to Samaria.

Why? For an encounter with a Samaritan...a Samaritan woman...a woman with a past... spilling into her present.

He sat by the well. Waiting. She came seeking water.

He asked for a drink and she argued with him over whether He should even be speaking to her. A Samaritan. A woman. With a past. With a present.

He offered her a chance for a drink of His water. Living Water.

The woman said to Him, "Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw." Jesus said to her, "Go, call your husband and come here." The woman answered and said, "I have no husband." Jesus said to her, "You have well said, 'I have no husband', for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly."

The Living Water and the Water Seeker wade deeper in discussion.

Then the Water Seeker with the past spilling into the present left her waterpot and went into the city, and said to the men, "Come see a man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?"

But the Living Water did not tell the Water Seeker everything she ever did. Yet what He did tell her revealed the source of brokenness in her life. Her past and present relationships colored everything so that there was nothing to her any longer but the brokenness of past spilling into present. To the Water Seeker - that was her all.

The Living Water chose to reveal what He came to heal. He needed to go through Samaria to keep a divine appointment. And so He went. And so He sat. By the well. Waiting for the Water Seeker.
(John 4:1-42)
* Excerpt from a Bible study I wrote entitled Spirit-Filled ~ Spirit-Led

My Monday Magnificat? He fills the seeker! For this, I utter my praise.

Magnificat - an utterance of praise from the Latin magnificare - to magnify

Nov 14, 2008

Friday's Favorites ~ In Every little Thing, Give Thanks!

Speaking ~ Teaching ~ Inspiring ~Motivating ~ it's one of my Favorite things to do!
Last night I had the privilege of speaking to 85 women at a combination Thanksgiving~Christmas event dubbed Thanksmas. I love opportunities to motivate, inspire, or teach women. But last night was all about fun and entertainment!

My presentation was based on I Thessalonians 5:18 ~ In everything, give thanks. While that scripture often gives us pause to reflect on the BIG things, the ETERNAL things, that we are thankful for, I tweaked it a bit and suggested that In Every little Thing, Give Thanks!

I asked each woman to take one minute and make a list of the little things, the small slices of life, the minor matters, the trivial tidbits, the tiny treasures that are worthy of her gratitude.

Time's Up!
Then I shared my list of 10 little things that I am thankful for. With each one, I inserted a little humor as I told why I am thankful for each triviality.

If a woman listed the same item as one on my list, my Christmas Elf (Guitar Girl) gave her a small gift bag with a tiny treasure! In this way I incorporated the THANKS in THANKSGIVING and the GIVING OF GIFTS in CHRISTMAS.

#1 on my list was COFFEE!

The first hand that went up with coffee on her list received a small bag of coffee...and down the list we went while the thanks and giving continued!

What an honor to stand before those beautiful women...all with a story of their own of thankfulness, gratitude and giving.

It really was a night of THANKSMAS!

I would wish you all a Herry Thanksmas, but that just sounds bad!!!

Just a little postscript~ Several women decorated tables with either a Christmas or a Thanksgiving theme. See the table I did below ~ A little Thanksgiving, of course!

Nov 12, 2008

Sometimes It's The Little Things

How about a little input? Can ya help a sistah-speakah out? I am speaking at a ladies function which is a combination Thanksgiving/Christmas event.

Here is where you come in...all 3 of you!

Aside from the big things that you are thankful for; you know what they are. What are some of the small things that, while not on your short list (a little joke there), cause you to be thankful?

One of mine is pictured above. Dark chocolate in small packages. Another is that first drink of coffee in the morning! Both brown things...hmmm.

What about you? What are the little things you are thankful for?

Nov 10, 2008

Nah....it's not an obsession. Or...is it?

A picture's worth a 1000 ~ make that 43 ~ words!

There are just some things you hate to run out of. For me, it's the Hellman's. Make that Hellman's Light. In fact, I'm almost out of toilet paper, but as you can see, I'm good on the Hellman's Light!
What do you stockpile?

Nov 9, 2008

Monday Magnificat - More ME in HIM

A white-tailed deer drinks from the creek; I want to drink God, deep draughts of God. I'm thirsty for God-alive.
I wonder, "Will I make it ~ arrive and drink in God's presence?" (Psalm 42:1-2, MSG)

Lately I have been asking God for a lot of input in my endeavors. I know...that sounds like the normal way to live a Christian life. But what I mean is this: I crave God. I thirst for Him. I hunger for more Him and what I have discovered is the way to have more Him in me is to offer more me to Him. I want more than a drink...I want to wade in deep. Deep in God.

To God I want...To be more available. To be more attentive. To be more intentional.

To others I want...To be more approachable. To be more vulnerable. To be more Me in God.

You're blessed when you've worked up a good appetite for God. He's food and drink in the best meal you'll ever eat. (Matthew 5:6, MSG)

My Monday Magnificat? He is both the bread of life and the living water. For this I utter my praise.

Magnificat - an utterance of praise from the Latin magnificare - to magnify

Nov 7, 2008

Friday Favorites - It's Almost Thanksgiving Day

My favorite holiday is only 20 days from now! I have always enjoyed Thanksgiving because it is filled with faith, family, friends and food. How full of good feelings can one day be ? (Unless, of course, it's Christmas.)

But Thanksgiving has all the good feelings of Christmas without the stress that is sometimes a part of the gift-giving process. We mostly celebrate Thanksgiving in the traditional way...family members join for fellowship and food and food and food. Did I mention the food part?
Years ago when my two brothers and I were teens, our family of five had an unusual menu on Thanksgiving Day. One of us suggested that, instead of the traditional fare, we have Tex-Mex on Thanksgiving! (Why? I have no idea.) Instead of turkey, dressing and sweet potatoes, we ate tacos, burritos, rice and beans. It was out of the ordinary and a break from tradition, but as you can tell-unforgettable!

My favorite Thanksgiving dishes are Mother's delicious dressing, my sis-in-law's side dish (green bean or broccoli casserole), and my sweet potato souffle. For dessert, Mother makes a couple of pecan pies and I usually add a carrot cake or a buttermilk pie.

Thanksgiving Day traditions at our place: One Fine Man always runs the Turkey Trot 5 K; we watch at least one Christmas movie; we play games (scrabble, etc.); and we eat more pie!

Tell me, what are your Thanksgiving Day traditions? I'd love to hear all about it!

Nov 6, 2008

Thumbs Up 2 - Mac & My Trash to Treasure

Today's Thumbs Up 2 goes to Mac.

This is Mac. He works at Crispers. Mac has to be one of the friendliest and happiest people I have come across in a while! When my friend, Vikki, and I went out to lunch on Halloween, he took our order and continued to check on us throughout our meal. Always with a smile.

Maybe he was smiling because of the hilarity of his Halloween costume. Mac came as trash. But under that disguise, Mac's true personality shone clean through. With his friendliness, helpfulness and good humor on display, Mac is a real treasure!

Now I don't claim to know anything about Mac's heart or what his relationship is with God.

But what I do know is this. A long time ago I went from digging through the trash heap of life to seeking the treasure in God's Word. Perhaps you, too, have experienced digging around in less than the best...looking for acceptance, affection and value in a pile of trash. As for me, God's grace picked me up, dusted me off and took me on a treasure hunt. The hunt takes me through His Word where I often find nuggets and, at times, chests overflowing with treasure! God's Word is a treasure trove. Follow it and you will live a rich life. One of depth and Holy destiny.

Listen to this:

Good friend, take to heart what I'm telling you; collect my counsels and guard them with your life. Tune your ears to the world of Wisdom; set your heart on a life of Understanding, That's right-if you make Insight your priority, and won't take no for an answer, Searching for it like a prospector panning for gold, like an adventurer on a treasure hunt, Believe me, before you know it Fear-of-God will be yours; you'll have come upon the Knowledge of God (Proverbs 2:1-5).

Every Thursday I do a Thumbs Up 2 post. Of course, Mac didn't know that. The ironic thing about Mac's pose in this photo is his "thumbs-up" gesture. See it up there?

So, Mac, (even in your "trick-or-treat" trash costume) YOU are a treasure and my thumbs-up 2 you!

What treasure have you found in God's Word lately? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

My friend, Vikki, and me. Out to lunch (literally, not figuratively!)

And if you knew me well, then you'd know I like to take pictures of food. So just for grins, here is what I had at Crispers (Mac-endorsed of course!) The description is below just in case you are menu-challenged like I am...ah...but that's another post for another day.Bistro Vegetable Sandwich 5.49
Crisp lettuce, tomato, red pepper, red onion rings, crunchy cucumbers, fresh basil and spinach artichoke spread followed by smooth red pepper pesto and topped with the nutty flavor of avocado served on our hearty multigrain.

Nov 5, 2008

Purpose, Plans, & the Power of the Holy Spirit

To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven...(Ecclesiastes 3:1)
God moves on an eternal time table that is not always readily evident to His people. He works within seasons, and time frames for His own purposes. And yet, He is also a God of the suddenly. Don't be surprised when in a certain season, out-of-the-blue, comes one of God's suddenly-s.
When a suddenly occurs, it may be a bit of a shock but don't let it take you by surprise. Have you ever jumped into a pool on a summer's day? The cold water is shocking but you are not surprised by it.

Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails. (Proverbs 19:21)
It is right and good to plan. It is necessary for it gives direction and allows you to set priorities. However, yield some white space on your agenda for the purpose of God to prevail. This may mean you have to readjust from time to time. (See Monday's post Plan B.)

This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, Says the lord of hosts. (Zechariah 4:6)
Zerubbabel is representative of a person chosen by God, from whose yielded nature God causes to flow life, leadership,and ministry. In this verse, might refers to military strength, and power refers to one's own ability. But spirit is the power of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer who yields to the purposes of God.

The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord, Like the rivers of water, He turns it wherever He wishes. (Proverbs 21:1)
We should never look to physical strength, political power or our own personal ability to carry out God's purpose in His kingdom. At this present time His kingdom is an invisible, spiritual kingdom. Jesus said, "The Kingdom of God is within you. " (Luke 17:21)

In this season, at this time, and for His purposes - go ahead and plan, yield to his prevailing will and do it all in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Nov 3, 2008

Saturday the Macy's in my mall had a fashion show with Clinton Kelly from TLC's What Not To Wear. He was very funny and had a great rapport with the audience. Fortunately I remembered to take my camera! Unfortunately I forgot to get the battery out of the charger! Clinton took questions from the audience and moderated the Fashion Show.
The Season's Trends
Ruffles - tuxedo shirt type ruffles and gentle ruffles on the cuffs of sleeves

The Color Purple
Gray - especially as a neutral

Plaid - Clinton wore a gray plaid jacket over a striped shirt in shades of purple. ('Can't believe I left my battery home - but I'm not bitter.)


And, yay!!!, shrugs are still in! I love a shrug!

More tips from Clinton:
If you wear a colored shoe, carry a neutral bag and vice versa.
Have a few great outfits that fit well instead of a multitude of ill-fitting pieces.
Layers add interest to any outfit.
Regardless of heel height, pants should be a 1/2 " from the floor.
(This is my personal pet peeve: high heels with pants that are too short!)
Lastly - ban the T-shirts! Wear blouses instead!
Soon to come - my personal tips for what to wear if you are a short-y like I am!
I have embraced my shortness and actually wear flats sometimes. Check out my new flats I wore while teaching today. (Alfani on sale for $24)

Psst...Do me a favor...pretend the grout on my tile floor is clean!

Monday Magnificat-PLAN B

Do you ever wonder why sometimes your Plan A doesn't work out like you'd thought it would? I can look back to specific times in my life when I truly believed in my heart that I was doing the right thing in following my Plan A only to soon realize that I needed to adjust and move on to Plan B. So why not Plan B from the beginning?! Then that could have been Plan A!
Maybe it's because I would never have willingly gone down the path of Plan B. Sometimes Plan A is all about getting to Plan B...yeah, let that one sink in a moment. It seems to me that the A in Plan A could often stand for Adapt. Plan Adapt. And Plan B? Well, that's just got to be Plan Better! Oh, but not as in you should have planned better. Rather, as in it's a better plan.
'Works for me!

My Monday Magnificat? *Even though I plan my way, the Lord directs my steps! For this I utter my praise.
*See Proverbs 16:9.
Magnificat - an utterance of praise from the Latin magnificare - to magnify