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Jun 29, 2009

Birthday On Honeymoon Island

~How I spent my birthday ~

~Swinging on a beach swing on Honeymoon Island with my HONEY~

Admiring the view while rocking in chairs on the upper back deck of the Nature Center at Honeymoon Island

Laughing because one of these gulls dropped a little "gift" on TechSon's head. Thank goodness he was wearing a hat!

~ Playing Nature Photographer ~

~Swinging "high & fast" as SkateBoy pushed us in the Beach Swing~

~Happy my 3 guys wanted to make me happy on my birthday~

One Fine Man, TechSon & SkateBoy (on swing)

Growing older is best done in the company of those you love the best!

Jun 25, 2009

A Woman's Woman

~My friend and partner in ministry, Alisa~

~My friend, Vikki~
~My long-time friend, LaDon~

~My friend and Bible teacher, Ruth~

~My daughter, Audra~

~My friend, missionary & photographer, Linda Charlene~

Sometimes our influence is felt more by what we don't say, what we don't do. Over the years, I have often been a listening ear to those who would unburden themselves. I consider that a high and holy privilege.

When someone chooses to be vulnerable and confide in you, it is of utmost importance that you discipline yourself to hold that confidence in trust.

You've heard the phrase, "a man's man."

It's often used to describe the kind of man other men enjoy being around. I want to be "a woman's woman" ~ the kind of woman who protects and covers the "sisters" ~ the kind of woman who keeps confidences close to the heart ~ the kind of woman who refuses to participate in gossip, foolish talk and vulgarities.

When you build up, refusing to knock down (no matter how subtly), you are a "woman's woman." When you encourage the giftings and abilities of other women, you are a "woman's woman." When you share good news, good opportunities, a good shoe sale or a good recipe, you are a "woman's woman."
Woman 2 Woman: I have been working out using the 30 Day Shred for 11 days now. See my sidebar for daily updates. Let me tell ya, if you want to firm up fast and lose inches quickly, get the 30 Day Shred. You'll thank me!

Jun 23, 2009

Delicious & Kind of "Healthy" Banana Pecan Muffins

I have made these twice in 2 weeks and am making another batch today. They are a keeper recipe. Everyone in the house loves them even though I adapted the original recipe to make it a bit healthier.

I'll put the original recipe and then my tweaks for healthier muffins.

Banana Nut Muffins
~original recipe~

1 1/2 C all-purpose flour
1 C chopped walnuts
1/2 C toasted wheat germ
1/2 C brown sugar
1 T baking powder
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 ripe bananas, mashed
3/4 C milk
5 T melted butter
1 egg
Cinnamon sugar (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 400*. Fit 12 muffin cups w/paper liner. Coat each w/cooking spray.
2. Mix flour, walnuts, wheat germ, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg in large bowl. Stir in bananas, milk, butter and egg. Mix just until blended.

3. Using an ice cream scoop, fill muffin cups evenly w/batter. Sprinkle w/cinnamon sugar, if desired.
4. Bake muffins until a skewer inserted into centers comes out clean, 20 -22 minutes. Cool 1 minute, then remove from the muffin pan and cool on a wire rack.

My Tweaks for a healthier version

Sub flour like this: 1 C self-rising flour & 1/2 C whole wheat. Skip the baking powder and sub 1/2 t salt for a shake of sea salt.
Sub walnuts for pecans b/c that's what I had in the freezer.
Sub nutmeg for a couple of shakes of pumpkin pie spice.
Sub 3/4 cup milk for 2/4 cup 2% milk and 1/4 cup buttermilk. (I would have used all buttermilk but only had a 1/4 cup left.)
Sub 1/2 C brown sugar for almost 1/2 C honey.
Sub 5 T of butter for 4 T of butter & 1 T of unsweetened applesauce.
I didn't top w/cinnamon sugar.
I only put nuts in 1/2 of the muffin batter b/c one son doesn't like nuts.

For more tasty dishes, click here!

Jun 19, 2009

1 Day of Cooking Ahead equaled 4 Sunset Trips to the Beach

Remember all that cooking ahead I did last week? Angela asked me in a comment, "What do you plan on making with your beef, chicken and beans?"

Well, Angela, you asked. I 'm answering. These are the meals I prepared and I still have some rice left in the freezer. I also baked a batch of applesauce muffins. Our pup ate well, too. I made "gourmet" doggie food, adding some of the unseasoned beef or chicken and brown rice to his dish. 'Licked the bowl clean! (Pup, not me!)

Chicken/beans/rice enchiladas
BBQ chicken pizza
Chicken & bean quesadillas
Black bean & cheese quesadillas
Chicken salad
Black Beans over Rice with smoked sausage

More cooking ahead to come for me: Another whole chicken, beef roast, dried limas, banana pecan muffins (sweetened with honey only)

Question: What do you prepare in bulk to save time later for enjoying something like this?
1 Day of Cooking Ahead = 4 Sunset trips to the beach!

Jun 16, 2009

Life's A Beach

I've been going to the beach as often as possible lately. I like to go close to sunset and walk for an hour. It's so relaxing and breezy. By that time it's much less crowded, too, especially on a weekday.

I like to watch the birds as they move in and out of the tide dipping their beaks for seafood.

There was lots of this "hair" lying around. I think it's pretty so I created Blondie.
SkateBoy created a bearded sandman with a leaf for his Speedo. Apparently the sandman is a runner.

TechSon and One Fine Man walk together.

After a walk, Bella~Mella sits on the sand to enjoy the sunset.

Sunset on Sandkey...my favorite beach.

Jun 15, 2009

Shred Day 1 - 2 & Melissa Makes Brunch

Day One of the 30 DAY SHRED: Guitar Girl (my daughter) and I decided to start the 30 DAY SHRED this morning. She bought the DVD yesterday and we moved the coffee table out of the way first thing this morning. Guitar Girl is training for a triathlon and ran her first 10 mile loop Saturday. The last marathon (and only one) I ran was a few years ago and it was a 1/2 marathon (13.1 miles). It was a proud moment for me and I would like to do one again this fall.
So...Guitar Girl is in training for the triathlon and I am in training for living the rest of my life as flab-free as I can get while also having a life!

If you are doing the SHRED, I would love to hear how it's going for you and what your results have been.

Update for Day 2 of the SHRED: It was early and still dark when Guitar Girl poked her head in my bedroom and in a hushed tone whispered, "It's time."
"Coffee," I mumbled.
I arose, muscles begging to be left alone, donned my sports bra and running shoes, grabbed my weights and the SHRED ensued.
P.S. In addition to the sports bra and shoes, I also wore running shorts and a tank top. ;>)
At 9:00 last night I was watching The Next Food Network Star (TNFNS). "My Girl Melissa" finished in the top 3 after preparing a Mother's Day Brunch. After a bit of drama, and what seemed like jealousy on the part of another contestant, Melissa was still safe!

Melissa D. ~ stay at home "cooking" mom from TX

If "My Girl Melissa" ends up going home, then I may be cheering on Jamika.

Official photo & bio from http://foodnetwork.com
Jamika, 30 (Atlanta, Ga.), a certified personal chef and businesswoman, loves exploring international cuisines in the kitchen. Family, friends, and clients rave about her bold twists on traditional dishes, especially those of her Caribbean heritage. Innovative style, sassy personality, and inspiring tenacity are Jamika's key ingredients to the magic she produces in the kitchen.
View Jamica's video here.

Jun 12, 2009

A Lot of This for A Lot of That

Summer Cooking Ahead for Fun At A Moment's Notice
Today I prepared 3 pounds of ground beef, a pot of brown rice, a pound of dried black beans, boiled a whole chicken and made applesauce muffins. The rice and beef are in the freezer, the black beans are simmering in the pot and the chicken is waiting to be shredded. Oh...and the muffins are already disappearing.

So I can have a tasty dinner ready quickly.


So at a moment's notice I can go here:

and enjoy this:

and watch him:

and look for these.
(this photo by Linda Charlene)
How are you scheduling your summer for joy at a moment's notice?

Jun 8, 2009

Souper Summer ~ A Recipe

< For more Tasty Tuesday dishes, click on the button.

Soup ~ It's not just for cold weather. I serve it all year long.

I love soup. Ham soup. Potato Soup. Mexican Chicken Soup. Chicken & Black Bean Soup.
The first time I made soup I made a Ham Bone Soup. When our family sat around the table eating bowls of soup that I made from scratch, I felt like a real GROWN-UP woman. A woman like my mother. Mother always made the best suppers. Growing up we didn't call the evening meal dinner. We called it supper. When Mother made Ham Bone Soup for supper, she always made cornbread to crumble in it. So that's what I do when I make Ham Bone Soup.

Mother never made Black Bean Soup. But I do. And this is it. Serve it with tortilla chips. Make it and you'll feel like a real GROWN-UP woman. This is another easy-peasy quickie, unlike the ham bone soup. But still, pretty souperb!

Chicken & Black Bean Soup
from Southern Living, April 2005
1 small onion
1/2 green bell pepper
1 tsp. hot oil
4 cups chicken broth
1 (16 oz. ) jar spicy black bean dip
2 (16 oz. ) cans black beans
2 cups chopped cooked chicken
Toppings: sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, diced tomatoes, avocado slices
Serve with tortilla chips.

Dice onion and bell pepper; saute in oil in Dutch oven. Whisk in chicken broth and bean dip until smooth. Bring to a boil and stir in black beans (rinsed & drained). Add the chicken and cook until heated through. Serve each bowl with your favorite toppings.

Now this is how I do that recipe. First of all, I don't measure. I saute as much onion as I feel like dicing. I don't have the patience for fine dicing, so I just chip it up and call it "rustic cooking." (And I don't want to wash the food processor!)

I use Newman's Own Black Bean & Corn salsa b/c that is the only "black bean dip" I find at Publix.
I boil chicken that has the bone and the skin because it is more flavorsome than skinless/boneless and then I use the broth from that. You can see my broth in the picture above. See how rich it is? I boiled extra chicken and froze the remainder of the broth for future use. Since the bean dip has a bit of corn, sometimes I add a little more corn. Sometimes I don't have enough black beans so I use pinto beans or kidney beans. Also I serve the soup over yellow rice or brown rice. The only topping I put on mine is some chipped up raw onion.

*Convenience factors: Of course, you can use a rotisserie chicken and canned broth. Or if you are boiling boneless/skinless chicken breast add a bouillon cube to the water to make broth. Or try Better Than Bouillon chicken base. It comes in a small jar and should be on the same aisle as the canned chicken broth or bouillon cubes.

What kind of soup do you make? Do you enjoy soup in the summer?

It's Baaaaack! ~ The Next FoodNetwork Star

I don't watch Lost. I don't watch 24. In fact the whole 24 thing is totally Lost on me ;>.
But what I do watch from the comfort of my bed and propped against pillows is....THE NEXT FOODNETWORK STAR! And it's back, people!
(That's me up there pretending to be a FoodNetwork Star. Read about it here.)
When I casually mentioned to my husband, while jumping up and down followed by a backflip, (Not really. I didn't actually jump up and down.) that TNFNS was premiering this Sunday night, he asked, "Why aren't you on that show?" Bless that man!

My dejected reply, "They don't have home cooks. They have chefs, culinary students, restaurant people and such..."

But...TAH DAH!!! Enter Melissa d'Arabian, stay at home~cooking~mom from Texas.

(photo from Food Network)

Official Bio from The FoodNetwork site: Melissa, 40 (Keller, Texas), pairs her varied culinary and life experiences to provide food lifestyle solutions and approachable recipes for today's families. As a stay-at-home mom to four young daughters, she efficiently budgets time and money to prepare the finest in fresh, home-cooked meals every day. Melissa finds culinary inspiration in family, friends, cooking classes, and world travels.

In the first challenge, she made the dessert for a catered event. Her dish was Apple Tarts.

Melissa lists her "food specialty" as Family Cooking At Its Finest.

All I have to say to that is this: Amen & Amen.

Can I get a witness? So until I have cause to change my mind. Which I might. Cause you never know with reality tv, my vote is for Melissa. And isn't it kind of spooky that our names begin with the same first 3 letters? And our last names begin with the same first letter. Except hers is a lowercase "d."

To see Melissa's audition video, go here. In her video, Melissa says cooking with interruptions shouldn't be a problem for her.

No problema for me, either!

Hellooooo...while writing this post, I was fixing breakfast for, newly released from school, kids who rolled out of bed at 10 a.m. Talk about blogging with interruptions...I mean cooking with interruptions!

So, did you watch TNFNWS last night? Who is your fave?

In honor of stay at home~cooking~moms everywhere, I'll be posting a recipe for a delicious black bean soup. Check back for that!

Is it just me, or is it hot in the kitchen?

Jun 5, 2009

A New Life Lines post & Friday's Fave Five ~ Cooking tip to a Thank you

To read my Life Lines post, "Your Plans ~ God's Purpose," go here!

For more Friday Fave Five's, click on the tulips!
This week I made chicken enchiladas ~ a favorite dish! There are so many enchilada recipes so I am not including mine today but I would like to share a tip with you. When I am assembling my chicken enchiladas I dip the flour tortilla in the chicken broth before adding the chicken mixture to it. Don't leave it in to soak, just give the "flours" a quick dip. It adds flavor and makes the tortillas more tender.

I visited a nearby thrift store Monday and found 6 white cloth napkins to add to my favorite growing collection. Using cloth napkins saves money and makes even a sandwich for lunch seem a bit special. I got four like the one on the left for $1. The 2 embroidered ones were .50 cents each.

At the same thrift store, I found a Southern Living serving dish. Dishes are one of my favorite things to purchase!
This dish is just the right size for a side dish for our family of 5. It was $3.49.

Guitar Girl, our favorite daughter, had a paying gig at a local place. She played for 3 hours and made a nice little sum. They've asked her back and this is a great way to help out with college expenses. She'll have her B.A. in journalism in 2 years. When she graduated from high school last May she already had a year's worth of college classes completed, thanks to dual enrollment. Yeah....we're proud!

I teach (part time) high school Spanish and Literature at a private school. Yesterday was my last day and last night was the honor roll and graduation ceremony. I had the privilege of reading scripture and praying at the beginning of the graduation ceremony. This is a card from one of my students. My favorite line is..."Thank you...for helping me find a better understanding of God..." (No, spelling doesn't count here, sweet student.)
Have a beautiful Friday. You're favored of God!

Jun 2, 2009

Life Lines ~ Guard Your Heart

Proverbs 4:23 instructs “Keep your heart with all diligence for out of it spring the issues of life.”
To keep means to guard, protect and maintain. The first strategy in keeping your heart is to guard your heart. A guard is set in place to protect something of value.Is anything more valuable than your heart—that which represents your inner self?

Dr. Caroline Leaf, author of Who Switched Off My Brain? writes, concerning the heart, that science has caught up with the wisdom of Scripture. “Your heart is not just a pump; it also acts like a mini brain.”

As we look through Scripture, we often see the heart portrayed as the seat of thinking, emotion, and the dwelling place of the Lord and the Holy Spirit.

Proverbs 23:7 records, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.”

In Luke 5:22 we read that Jesus perceived the thoughts of men and questioned what they were "reasoning" in their hearts.

Jesus said of Himself that He “searches the minds and hearts Revelation 2:23.

"Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?" I Corinthians 3:16.

So how do you guard your heart? Scripture indicates that by taking our requests to God through prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, the result is peace—the guard of our heart.

Philippians 4:6-7 “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."

Anxiety is a sure path to a troubled heart but there is an antidote to anxious thoughts. When fear threatens to hijack your heart and terrorize your thoughts, present your requests to God by means of prayer in an attitude of gratitude.

In addition to making your requests, try asking God for a different perspective on the circumstances. Often a shift in viewpoint changes the whole picture!

Then, look for ways to be a blessing to someone despite your present situation. You don’t have to “have it all together” before you can be a godly influence on another.

Finally, give generously in the midst of a trying time. According to “Dr. Mel,”* generosity relaxes the tensed muscles and worry lines produced by anxiety.

So give!

Give a donation, a smile, a kind word, a pan of brownies!

May the supernatural, impermeable, impenetrable peace of God guard your heart today.
( *I'm not really a "doctor" I just play one at home thus my family's nickname for me. ;> )
Excerpted from my Life & Style topic "Guard Your Heart." Interested in a Life & Style conference? Go here.