Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Gifts for Christmas

Gifts for Christmas

This time of year I almost get giddy …oh who am I kidding ….I DO get giddy with excitement about all the things I am going to make for Christmas…cookies, sauces, dinners, ornaments, Christmas morning breakfast and whatever else my little mind can come up with. This year is no different. Since we have been out for snow, my living room has been a virtual Michael’s. I have posted some of the crafts I have had fun with….the recipes will come later. I hope you are inspired to make your own creations.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Home:Dedicated to the BEST Father-in-Law Ever! Jimmy Clark


I was listening to Neil Diamond’s newest CD this week and was so moved by a song called “Feels Like Home”. There was such a tenderness and humbleness in the melody and words of the song. The song got me to thinking about “home” and what that means to each of us. Over the years many songs have been written about home. “Take me Home Country Roads”, “Home on the Range”, “There’s no Place Like Home”, “I’ll be Home for Christmas”, and “Sweet Home Alabama”, just to name a few. This year Miranda Lambert put out a song called, “The House that Built me”.

I thought a lot about that last song and could relate to so many of the lyrics she sung about memories of growing up at home and how those memories made her who she is today. My own childhood home no longer exists. The old home was torn down and burned to make room for my brother’s new home. It had to be done, because he had a family now and the old home just was not what a family needed anymore. Now that home is up for sale because my brother has moved away….but that does not take away the memories of my childhood home. That home will exist forever in my heart and memory where my Mom and Dad were young, my brother and sister and I were outside playing and our pets were running right alongside of us and the whole world lay ahead.

Lots of time when folks pass away, we hear they have gone home. One of the dictionary’s definitions of home is: a place of origin: the place where something originated ….sounds to clinical or sterile to me. I do believe that when we leave the Earth we go to our Heavenly Father’s Home. His home….but what about the home we left behind?

When my father-in-law passed away, my daughter Erika dreamed of him two nights in a row just after his passing. The first night she said he wanted her to keep singing and he wanted her to be happy for him…the next night she said he told her all about his Welcome Party….not his Welcome home party…..I can understand that….He loved his home and his family and that was home to him. I am not saying he would come back if he could because I know he is happy and is healed…but I am saying Home is the hilltop where we will spread his ashes in the springtime when the mountains are blooming and coming to life.

One last thought…I have never liked dusk ….I should clarify that and say I have never liked dusk when I am away from home….that is the time of day when folks are coming home or have made it home …where the family is gathering …the day is done and all are together. I don’t even notice it when I am home…but when I am not …I notice and it is a lonely feeling.

Home is many things to many people….May it always give us peace and rest and like a loving parent welcome us with open arms.

                                                             My Home:  Where They Are!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Job Well Done

Last night I was driving home and I was already feeling lonely. Have you ever just had that lonesome feeling and don’t know why? My husband calls it the Hank Williams Sr. syndrome. I did not have any reason to be feeling lonely, I had a great first day back at work, it was wonderful seeing all my friends at work and the halls were buzzing with excitement for our returning students. I had spent a great evening with my folks and had some good home cooking – so I really didn’t have any reason at all for feeling blue. Then as I rounded a familiar curve I saw them…slow down funeral. Mr. Leon Cabe had passed away. His yard was full of cars and a soft yellow glow came from inside the house where I knew there was probably a mix of emotions going on. He had been sick for some time but that had not stopped him from being outside.

I never knew the man, I only knew of him. My husband’s family knew him and all spoke highly of him. I had heard and had pointed out to me over my few short years in Franklin, the fields that once were planted by Mr. Cabe. Acers and acres of them. Those fields now only grow hay for the cutting.

Like I said my only personal interaction with Mr. Cabe was the times I would pass him on the road in the cool of the morning or late into the evening. But I liked seeing him walking on the road and I would wave-sometimes he would wave back and sometimes not. I admired him if you will, because of his legacy of growing big crops. That says something about a man or woman. I think there is character in that.

I find it ironic that he waited until the end of the planting and harvest season to make his next journey. I couldn’t help but smile as I passed his house where I would no longer see him walking past, that God would welcome him home and say, “Good work my faithful son, come in and rest awhile”.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

How many of you remember going to an elder’s house when you were young and seeing a big chocolate cake ready for the taking? It seems that there was always one at a church supper or a homecoming. Golden layers of delight all covered in a rich chocolate icing (nobody called it frosting then).

That was the inspiration for this cake and I combined several old traditions into one amazing cake all from scratch. The icing is the old fashioned kind that you may remember as boiled frosting- the golden layers are tradition but I made them smaller and more of them like the applesauce stack cake- Give it a try I bet you will love it.

Golden Layer Cake with Chocolate Icing

1 cup unsalted butter

5 eggs

1 cup whole milk

2 cups sugar

½ tsp kosher salt

2 tsp vanilla

3 cups sifted cake flour

1 Tbsp baking powder

Let butter, eggs, and milk stand at room temp.

Preheat oven 350

Grease and flour 8 or 9 inch cake pans (you will need 6 or 7 layers)

In large bowl beat butter on high for 30 seconds

Gradually add in sugar-beating well

Add eggs one at a time beating well after each addition

Beat in salt and vanilla

Combine flour and baking powder

Alternately add with milk to butter mixture

Spread batter into prepared pans (approximately 1 cup per pan)

Bake 15 min or until cake pulls away from sides of pan

Cool in pans for 5 minutes

Remove from pan and cool completely

Chocolate Icing

5 cups of sugar

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

½ tsp kosher salt

½ cup butter

1 12 oz can evaporated milk

½ cup whole milk

2 tsp vanilla

Combine all ingredients and cook over med heat- bring to a boil

Boil gently for 4 minutes

Reduce heat and if you have a candy thermometer cook to 230 degrees about 15 – 20 minutes

Remove from heat and stir in vanilla

Allow to cool

Icing will be pourable

Assemble cake- pour icing between each layer letting excess drip over sides of each layer until completed.

This casserole was a taste sensation- my family loved it and I am going to put it on the Christmas brunch list- served with the peach salsa is perfect to drizzle on each bite.

Sausage, egg, cheese and grit casserole

1 cup quick cook grits

4 cups water

3 eggs

1 pound of sausage cooked and drained

1 red pepper

1 med onion

2 cups cheddar cheese

½ tsp salt

Cook sausage and drain- set aside

Cook grits in water about 5 minutes

Sauté pepper and onions until tender

Combine sausage, peppers, and onions then add to grit mixture

Beat eggs and add in stir to combine

Stir in 1 cup of cheese

Pour into greased casserole dish and top with remaining cheese- bake for 30 minutes 350 – 400 or until middle is set

Allow to set for 10 minutes

Peach Salsa

4 ripe peaches

1 clove garlic

½ fresh lime squeezed

Cilantro (to taste)

Salt (to taste)

Cumin (1/2 tsp)

Combine and allow to chill

Serve with casserole

Monday, August 16, 2010

Back to School Dinner ideas

It has been a while and I must admit I sure have missed doing this blog. I love sharing ideas and all the while creating a memory for my kids. So today I have two great recipes to share with you and photos of my other than cooking creative outlet.

The recipes are two that I have tested and they are delish. I am sharing them not only because they are so good and easy to make but also because they freeze well. With school beginning back, I always look for good tasting and good quality foods that I can fix for my family after a day at school for all of us. I do not have a photograph of these recipes but I highly recommend that you try them.

Brown Sugar Meatloaf

• 1/2 cup packed brown sugar

• 1/2 cup ketchup

• 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef

• 3/4 cup milk

• 2 eggs

• 1 1/2 teaspoons salt

• 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

• 1 small onion, chopped

• 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

• 3/4 cup finely crushed saltine cracker crumbs


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 5x9 inch loaf pan.

2. Combine all ingredients and place in loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour.

If you are freezing it – cool in pan and then remove and wrap in clear plastic wrap- then foil and freeze

When serving – allow to thaw – place back in loaf pan and heat through at 350 – combine ketchup and sweet baby rays raspberry chipotle barbeque sauce and top meatloaf – bake for additional 10 minutes- really good

I like to do this when I find ground beef on sale and double the recipe

King Ranch Chicken Casserole

1 lg onion chopped

1 lg green bell pepper chopped

2 cups chopped cooked chicken

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 can cream of mushroom soup

1 can diced tomato and green chilies

1 tsp chili powder

½ tsp black pepper

½ tsp garlic powder

12 6-in corn tortillas

1 8 oz block cheddar cheese shredded

Sauté onion and pepper until tender

Stir in chicken and next 6 ingredients-remove from heat

Tear tortillas into 1 inch pieces, layer one third of tortilla pieces in 13 x 9 pan coated with spray- top with one-third chicken mixture and one-third of cheese- repeat layers twice

If freezing – wrap in plastic wrap and place in freezer

Allow to thaw- bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes until bubbly

With the King Ranch Chicken Casserole I serve refried beans topped with salsa and cheese, I also serve yellow rice with cheese melted on top and sprinkled with fresh cucumber and tomatoes. I highly recommend a rice cooker- I bought mine for 13.00 (Black and Decker) Great for doing rice – put in all ingredients and let it cook for about 20 minutes

For the meatloaf – I bake small potatoes the night before and then slice them in half top with real bacon bits and cheese – pop them into the oven while the meatloaf is cooking – very delish. I also serve sugar snap peas that you can steam in the bag – open them up and sprinkle some real bacon bits on them.

Both of these meals taste great and feed a family – they do not cost lots of money – and can be fixed quickly after a long day.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Amazing Fish you need to try it

Orange Roughy in Puff Pastry with Coconut Milk Crab Cream Sauce

4 Orange Rough Filets each about the size of a deck of cards

2 sheets of puff pastry



1- 2 tablespoons of butter

2 tablespoons of lemon juice

Fresh dill

1 egg beaten with 2 tablespoons of water (egg wash)


½ of a 14 oz. can of coconut milk

4 oz cream cheese

1 small can of white crab meat

2 tablespoons of butter

1 tablespoon of lemon juice

2 tablespoons of fresh parsley chopped

½ teaspoon of salt

Sear fish filets in butter and remove from pan

Cut each pastry sheet into 4 triangles

Drizzle lemon juice on filets

Place one filet on one triangle of pastry

Salt and pepper to taste

Top with fresh dill sprig

Place another triangle on top of filet and seal edges

Place in greased baking pan and brush with egg wash

Bake at 400 for 30 minutes or until puffed and golden brown


Melt butter in sauce pan

Add in coconut milk and cream cheese

Stir until combined

Add in crab meat that has been drained

Stir in lemon juice and salt

Pour sauce over puffed pastry and enjoy


Perogies (feta and spinach) with tomatoes, onions, garlic

Cook Perogies according to package directions

Melt butter (1/2 stick of butter) add 1 onion sliced – cook until tender

Chop fresh tomatoes and add to onion mixture

Crush a clove of garlic and add to mixture

Pour over perogies

Jasmine Rice

Cook rice and then stir in the remaining coconut milk

Top with fresh herbs of your choice

Thursday, July 8, 2010

White Chicken Spaghetti

4 chicken breasts - boiled and chopped into chunks- you can use whole chicken pulled from bone
1 onion
1/4 cup chopped green pepper
2 1/2 cups of cheddar cheese shredded
2 cans of cream of mushroom soup
thin spaghetti broken into pieces

boil chicken and remove to chop
place spaghetti into broth from chicken and cook until done but not over done
chop onion and green pepper and saute until tender
drain noodles add peppers and onion
combine well
stir in cream of mushroom soup and 2 cups of cheese
pour into baking dish (13x9 works well)
top with remaining cheese and bake at 350 to 375 until bubbly

This is really good :)

I have put photos of my apple pie on the blog because I really like this style- it was easy to cut into slices like pizza and eat cold- just make your favorite pie crust and fill with your favorite apple mixture - pull up the edges and bake - if you want the crust recipe just send me a note :) really flaky

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Delish Summer Veggies

I love this time of year (not for the heat) but for my garden and the local produce stand.  Dinner is packed with a punch of amazing flavors and I just can't wait to try more- Below are three great dishes that we had for dinner - one is in the former blog but worth mentioning again.

Grilled Veggies

1 bunch of asparagus snapped into 3 inch pieces
1 red pepper cut into thick slices
1 red onion (from my garden)
1 patty cake squash (not sure the real name) or you could use any squash
kosher salt
black pepper
olive oil
cut up avacoda and place on top of grilled veggies
sprinkle with fresh herbs of your choice (I had fresh dill and cilantro)

grilling pan

prepare all veggies toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and grill in the grilling pan until done (only takes about 5 min) cut up avacoda and place on top of grilled veggies

sprinkle with fresh herbs of your choice (I had fresh dill and cilantro)

dress with a balsamic vinegar dressing  1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1 garlic clove, a little salt and pepper-

Grilled Salmon Packets (got this idea from my friend Niki)

4 nice salmon slices
small heirloom cherry tomatoes yellow and red
fresh dill
fresh cilantro
lemon juice from 1 large lemon or 2 smaller ones (mix with 2 tablespoons of olive oil)

place each piece of salmon in a piece of foil that has been buttered
top with tomatoes cut in half
fresh dill sprig
fresh cilantro (your taste)
drizzle with lemon juice and olive oil

close up packets and grill for about 7 minutes ----melt in your mouth good

Heirloom tomatoes with peach balsamic dressing and goat cheese
variety of heirloom tomatoes sliced

1/3 cup white balsamic vinegar
1 clove of garlic minced
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp olive oil
1/8 tsp salt
1 ripe peach peeled and cut into chunks
fresh basil about 3 tbsp chopped
goat cheese

combine vinegar, garlic, basil, oil, sugar, and salt - whisk until combined
stir in peach chunks pour vinegar mixture over tomatoes and crumble goat cheese on top ...serve and enjoy

Friday, July 2, 2010

Heirloom Tomatoes

I have a wonderful, wonderful ...did I say yummy fancy but easy way to serve heirloom tomatoes on a hot summer day or evening.  I have no stories for you this post..even though I could go on and on about how tomatoes used to taste compared to  today's varieties but I won't.  You can find heirloom tomatoes at most produce stands or farmer's markets or you can even grown them yourself.  This is a refreshing dish that your will love.

A variety of heirloom tomatoes sliced
1/3 cup white balsamic vinegar
1 clove of garlic minced
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp olive oil
1/8 tsp salt
1 ripe peach peeled and cut into chunks
fresh basil about 3 tbsp chopped
goat cheese

combine vinegar,  garlic, basil, oil, sugar, and salt - whisk until combined
stir in peach chunks

pour vinegar mixture over tomatoes and crumble goat cheese on top ...serve and enjoy

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

White Chocolate Cake

This was an amazing cake...when it is baking it smells like those candy shops you walk into while on vacation...and the best part. tastes like you are eating everything in the store when you take the first bite....make this cake you won't be sorry!!!

White chocolate cake

1/3 cup white chocolate (the white baking chocolate)

1 cup of butter, softened

1 ½ cup of sugar

4 large eggs separated

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 ½ cups of sifted cake flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 cup buttermilk


White Chocolate Frosting

¾ cup sugar

2/3 cup evaporated milk

6 Tbsp butter

3 Cups white chocolate chips

2 ¼ tsp vanilla extract

For Cake

Microwave chocolate in a glass bowl 30 seconds at a time until melted.

Beat butter and sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy.

Add egg yolks, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add melted white chocolate and vanilla.

Sift flour and baking soda together; add to butter mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture.

Beat egg whites at high speed until stiff peaks form. Gently fold into batter. Pour batter into 13 x9 greased and floured sheet pan- (you can do three layers – but the cake is so moist – it can fall apart easily)

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes or until a wooden pick is inserted in center and comes out clean. Cool in pan.

For Frosting

Bring sugar, milk, and butter to a rolling boil in a heavy saucepan. Boil for 1 minute- pour over chocolate and vanilla. Stir until chocolate is melted. Cool 15 minutes and beat frosting at high speed with mixture 7 minutes, or until completely cool – then spread over cake.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Father's Day

Father’s Day

This Father’s Day, I decided to cook a large meal for the Daddy’s in my life instead of looking for one more flashlight, shirt, or gimmick of some sort. A good meal together with family can be a long lasting memory and more special than something purchased. The three daddy’s I have in my life are my husband Gregg, my Father-in-Law: Jimmy and my own Daddy: Paul. I would like to say something about each of them. First there is my husband Gregg, he is one extraordinary man. When we first met 10 years ago, I was attracted to him but feared there would never be a relationship develop because I was almost nine years older than him and was already the mother of two children, one with Down syndrome. He soon proved me wrong, he fell in love with me and the kids and has been by my side along with OUR three kids ever since. He is a great role model and truly the best daddy I have ever known.

My Father-in-Law, Jimmy has truly been like a second daddy to me. I feel I could tell him anything. He is always there for us no matter what time of day or night. There have been many nights when one of the kids needed to go to the ER with some sickness and all I had to do was call him and he came and stayed with the other kids until we got back home. One recent memory was when Shade was in the hospital for 4 days with RSV. Gregg and I were so tired after being awake with Shade night after night because his oxygen would drop and alarms would go off and we would have to wake him up and get him to cough. The first night home we were so scared because there were no alarms to wake us if his oxygen dropped so needless to say we were basket cases and again so very tired. Jimmy volunteered to come and stay with us all night and he did- we were able to sleep while he checked on Shade all night. What a special man and I will not ever forget all he has done for his family.

My own Daddy, Paul Hoxit My daddy and I have battled since I can remember. We could not be more different in our views, nature, or opinions and to be honest he has been a hard man to love on many occasions. He drake really bad when I was little and I can remember my mom having to leave with my brother, sister and me until he would sleep off a drunk. He was a very violent man when he would drink-not to us kids but to my mom and that was hard to watch and very scary. A child does not bond with a parent when those things are witnessed. He finally did stop drinking but the damage was done to our relationship sadly. That is just how it is sometimes. He had reasons for drinking and they were bad reasons, things he has seen and done in Vietnam. There are good memories and I choose to remember those these days. I will share a few: We always had food on the table and clothes to wear, our house was always warm and he always made sure we were covered up on those cold nights. There were also fun times. We grew up on about 70 acres of property and most of that was fields or woods. Many Sunday’s we would go for a family walk complete with the dogs. We would hike up to the top of the mountain. Me and my brother and sister would gather sticks, leaves, rocks, or anything else we thought was magical. There was also a small valley that was filled with fallen leaves. We would slide down that valley in the leaves with our dogs laughing all the way. Sometimes we would find a grapevine and swing on it. What fun that was. There were also the stories he would tell us, like the ones where he fought with Blackbeard the pirate and how we were really related to him. He still laughs about that- and how we believed him. There were rides on his back- while he was on all fours – and Sunday drives. That is the daddy I want to remember and I hope as time passes I will remember more of those magical hikes, stories and Sunday drives. I feel sad about my feelings and know that I mourn what could have been.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Old Dogs and Barbeque Sauce

When thinking about a story to write this week – I wanted to talk about old friends that add so much to our families- our pets- and in my case or my memory I should say ….an old dog named Bullet. I also came across a marvelous barbeque sauce that I wanted to share because it is barbequing time, so I have decided to combine both. I hope you enjoy!

As long as I could remember when I was little Bullet was our family dog. He was a beautiful collie (just like Lassie). We rescued him from an uncle who was going to shoot him. He did not understand a dog like Bullet because he had nothing but hunting dogs. Boy oh boy did he underestimate Bullet (more about that in a minute). I was probably about five years old when we got him. It was love at first sight with this dog and our family. We loved him and he loved us. There are not many photographs of us during those years that Bullet was present. Always sitting in the middle of the crew- our sun kissed arms wrapped all around him.

He was also very protective of us kids – mom or daddy could not spank us outside in his presence- he would growl- and saved us from a hickory switch for a few more hours. Every summer the copperheads were plentiful and he would find them long before we had a chance to happen upon one. I remember one time, daddy was going to the spring to check on our water in the reservoir, Bullet ran ahead of him sniffing the ground and all of the sudden Bullet started barking and growling and then…..he grabbed a copperhead and started slinging it back and forth with a force that tore that snake to bits. One of which went flying into my daddy’s face…now you know some went into his mouth. He started spitting and throwing up and cussing the dog. That story offered much entertainment through out the years. There were many other times when he would protect us from stray dogs that came onto the property, to strangers who took our road by mistake and would find us kids out playing in the yard.

Through the years this faithful dog was there sharing his love and gentle spirit. I was 17 the day he died. He had been going down hill, he was old and in the latest winter of his life. My daddy could not bear to see him suffer anymore and decided to put him down. He did it himself and to this day I don’t know how he had the strength. I know it still haunts him. I could not be there to see him buried either. Daddy had to do that too- he buried him beneath a beautiful dogwood tree and he left a legacy much richer and sweeter than any hunting my uncle ever owned.

I still think of him often and truly have never gotten attached to a dog like him since. When I heard the Miranda Lambert song, “The House that Built Me” and the line that says “ My best dog is buried under that old oak” I thought of Bullet once again, and could feel his soft fur that I so many times snuggled into. The pain in my heart was still there in the missing part- but the rest of me smiled- remembering my old friend.

2nd Part
Sweet Maple Barbecue Sauce
2 tablespoons of butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cups of ketchup
1 cup vinegar
1 cup real maple syrup
½ cup orange juice
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons ground mustard
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoons of salt
½ teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
½ teaspoons paprika

Melt butter in sauce pan and cook onions and garlic until tender- then combine all other ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Memories of Food

Some of you know I have been entering videos for the Paula Deen - Real Women of Philly Contest...and she ask us to share our first cooking experience and I honestly cannot remember it but I do have memories of food and below are some of those,,,I would love to hear yours so let me hear from you.

Food…it comforts us, it sustains us, and it brings us together. It seems that many of my most memorable moments in life have an aspect of food attached that I can remember…but the strange thing is …I can’t remember my first cooking experience and ladies, I’m not that old. These memories are both glorious and heartbreaking and still hurt my very soul to remember and to be quite honest; I do not care to have that particular food anymore. That is how powerful memories and cooking can be. The first memory that I have of food was eating watermelon when I was young…now you know you are country when your daddy buys a big watermelon and it becomes a family event. Every summer when the first ones would appear at the fruit stands my daddy would buy one and we would call all the cousins and granny to come over and eat it. Us kids ran all over the yard with watermelon juice staining our faces and what clothes we still had on…it was hot in the Summer Mountains. The next memories of food were when it would come November and it was hog killing time (I know that sounds harsh but remember my ancestors were farmers and the land kept them alive). I did not participate in the butchering part but boy I loved the taste of that fresh tenderloin. Other memories included going ginseng digging with my granny. When dinner time came around (that’s what she called lunch) we would find us a cool spot in the woods and she would open up a mason jar filled with pinto beans she had left over from supper (that’s what she called dinner) pieces of cornbread, fresh tomato, cucumber, and onion. Nothing tasted any better. Of course there were the holidays and breakfast at my granny’s house. She cooked on a wood cook stove until she passed away. You have not tasted biscuits or gravy until you had tasted my granny’s. Blackberry cobblers, blueberry cobblers all fresh because we picked them. I have a few scars to prove it. There were also times of sorrow that resonate in my memory and pull along smells and tastes. I was eight years old and my momma was in the kitchen frying chicken. I remember she had flour all over her hands. The phone rang and she received the news that her 28 year old brother, my uncle had been killed. The phone dropped and so did she. That was a dinner never finished. I can still see the grease bubbling up in the frying pan. Food has been in my blood you might say. I am from a great family of cooks, old fashioned cooks and my style of cooking is not what my granny would have done and she probably would not even like it very much. My background is humble. I can’t quilt or knit which are also parts of my heritage, but I can cook and I believe in the power of cooking- it brings people together and loves them up really good.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Love for a Daughter

Eighteen years ago my life changed with the birth of my daughter Erika. Now I know that is the case with any new changes or it should because you have been given a priceless gift that requires your devotion. However, Erika required more...and I don't feel bad about that. It was November 15th around 8 in the morning and my water broke- I was a bit nervous because she was not due until December 12th and I was not ready but guess what ...ready or not here Erika came. I was in labor for 18 hours and it was not bad at all-and I had her without and epidural. I had a normal pregnancy with no problems and no one knew that she had down syndrome- I was only 24 so I did not have the risk factors usually associated with having a downs baby.

The minute she was born she did not cry, she just looked around and when they placed her into my arms and I looked into those pools of dark brown- I knew she was special. I did not know at the time that she did not have the energy to cry - her little heart would not let her. Of course I was heart broken- I knew what children with disabilities went through- I had no idea what she would be able to do. Again, I was heartbroken. I wanted my daughter to have the future I had always imagined and I knew that was not going to be the case.

We went home after 2 days in the hospital and I still was unaware of any heart defect. I took her back to the dr. to confirm the downs diagnosis and that is when the doctor discovered her heart condition- WOW! the next 3 months were a whirlwind of emotions. Long story short : Erika was 6 lbs 2 oz when she was born and at 3 months she was only 7 lbs - she was not thriving and needed open heart surgery or she would not live. Once again my heart was broken but I no longer felt sorry for myself for having a downs baby- I prayed to God that he would save my baby.

We spent several weeks at Duke University and they did an amazing job with Erika- her heart was repaired. Now you see why I have to be a Duke fan!

The next few years of her life were hard- she was sick alot with respiratory issue and in and out of the hospital but she grew stronger each year. School was hard - I had to fight for her a few times but it was worth it. She has meant so much to the kids at school that have known her- and I have had many people say - they think her class is more empathic because they have known Erika.

Having said all this - I just wanted to share that this precious precious child went to her Junior prom last night and was beautiful...the heart that would not let her stay awake long enough to drink her bottle when she was a baby... allowed her to dance 2 straight hours last night.

She danced like no one was watching...and did not care what others thought...she did not postpone joy...and lit up the room with her presence.

What a journey!!!!and I look forward to more!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Apple Pie and I am Sorry

Do you ever get in a bad mood? I mean a really bad mood? Things that don't normally bother you ...seem to drive you crazy and you stew and stew until you want to blow your top! Well I had just one of those days last week. Life got hectic- we had to have a new roof put on our house (it is an cottage/farm house that is about 80 years old and it needed a new roof). When the builders started tearing off the old shingles they found much work that needed to be done and $9000.00 it was done beautifully - just more money than we had anticipated. The next thing was a situation with my ex husband that I do not even want to discuss. It seems that the events just kept piling up and it made me grumpy and caused me to have a poor outlook on life and not be so nice to people around me (friends and family). Now having said this - I have reflected upon that bad day and feel terrible. Things like this poison my soul -they really do - I also am thinking if I took my last breath today - what would my son remember most ( a grouchy, petty mom)that is certainly not what I want. So this is my declaration: I am going to live my life as if my children are modeling their lives after mine. I want to be a friend to all and offer a helping hand when I can and even when I can't.

So if I hurt your feelings last week or made you feel sad - please forgive me and have a slice of this delicious apple pie. Love, Me!

•8 ounce(s) of Philadelphia cream cheese (softened)
•1/4 cup(s) of brown sugar
•1 tsp. of pumpkin pie spice
•1 can of apple pie filling
•1/2 chopped apple
•1 tsp. of lemon juice
•2 tbsp. of brown sugar
•1/2 cup(s) of chopped pecans
•1 cup(s) of sharp cheddar cheese (shreadded)
•1 9 inch deep dish pie shell
1.Bake pie shell according to package directions about 10 minutes and let cool
2.Mix cream cheese, brown sugar and pumpkin pie spice at medium speed until blended
3.Spread cream cheese mixture in pie crust
4.Top cream cheese mixture with apple pie filling
5.combine chopped apple, lemon juice, remaining 2 tbsp. brown sugar and nuts together and spoon on top of apple pie filling
6.Cover top of pie with sharp cheddar cheese
7.Place under broiler until cheese melts for about 1 minute (watch carefully so it will not burn)

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Happy Mother's Day

My Mother’s Love

My mother’s love
Has seen me through the best and the worst of times

When Sadie Abernathy laughed and said my eyes were funny,
And I go picked last for kickball again,
And I forgot my only line in the second grade pageant,

My mother’s love enfolded me

When I built a house of cards that stood for twelve minutes,
And I was elected sixth-grade class president,
And I put an airplane model together all by myself,

My mother’s love celebrated with me

When Danielle O’Connor broke my heart,
And I missed the basket that would have clinched the finals,
And our dog Tiger didn’t wake up one morning,

My mother’s love grieved with me

They say that cries for Mother
Can be heard on the battlefield
Long after a war has ended

And I ask you…

Is it any wonder?

The spelling "Mother's Day" was trademarked in 1912 by Mother's Day International Association founder Anna Jarvis, who was very specific about the apostrophe, as she wanted to make sure the day was for each family to honor their specific mothers, not just a broad celebration of all mothers.

Though the modern traditions of the holiday (card and flower gifts) began in the United States, Mother's Day is celebrated throughout the world on a number of different dates.

I never understood the love that my own mom had and has for me until I had my first born. I remember well the night after Erika was born. I was experiencing a number of emotions from her birth. It was only she and I in the room because everyone else had gone home, and as I held my sweet baby girl in my arms and looked into her dark peaceful eyes I suddenly was overcome with how much my mom loved me. I called her at that very moment and thanked her. Our mother’s may not be perfect and might make mistakes but we do too with our own children, so love them with all your heart and cherish the time you have because many are wishing they had their mom’s on this Mother’s Day! Enjoy this tribute to all Mother’s:

Lessons from the Master

Once when Mom was hurting,
I felt all squishy inside
No one told me that moms cry sometimes

I climbed into her lap
And clasped my arms around her neck

Then I patted her back
And whispered that it would be okay
Just like she does when I’m hurting

She must have forgotten how well it works 

Note to God

Mom always tells us that even though
We didn’t grow in her tummy we grew in her heart

That God planned for us to be a family
Long before the world began;
And that our birthmothers were part of that plan too

We were talking it over the other day
And we’ve decided that even though
Mom didn’t grow in our tummies

(We’re still trying to figure out where she did come from)

She must have been growing in our hearts all along
Because no she’s ours forever
And we wouldn’t have it any other way

Note to God: Nice Work!


Up in the attic, opening your boxes
Of war letters
Old Christmas card
And forgotten photos

You’re everywhere

Out in the garden, handling your tools,
Uprooting stubborn weeds,
Raking back the soft earth
And planting some lilacs,

You’re everywhere

Down in the kitchen, following your recipe,
Measuring the spices
Layering the casserole
And setting the timer

You’re everywhere

I reach for the phone to call you
Before remembering ….you’re gone

What you’ve left behind
It a legacy I couldn’t understand before

I understand now

And I’m blessed to day
And so thankful, mom
That even though you’re gone
You’re still right here

You’re everywhere!

All poems written by Steven Layne

Monday, May 3, 2010

Mornings in the Mountains

I wrote this little story because I love mornings - and I strated thinking about all the chracteristics of the morning and wanted to share my thoughts. I hope you enjoy it.

Smoky Mountain Mornings

Mornings are unique.
Mornings are different.

Morning lights the streets of Venice Italy with a golden glow.
As the street vendors open their shops, smells of fresh breads, pastries and flowers fill the air.

An Alaskan morning may not arrive for a long time. A very long time, and when it finally does, morning stays awhile.

Mornings by a New England seaside are vast and mysterious. The wind is wet as the sun rises in the great divide between the heavens and the sea.

But…in the Smoky Mountains, mornings are the grandest of all. Mist wraps the mountain tops and valleys in a translucent softness.

Dew has settled on the spider’s weaving making the nightly creations look like diamond jewels cast off as night has gone to sleep.

And in between the valleys lie sleepy little towns whose mornings are like a favorite, comfortable memory. The traffic moves slow, when it moves at all. Streetlights go out one by one as dawn sweeps across the sidewalks. The smell of coffee brewing seeps under cracks of old wooden doors that have memories all on their own.

In the deepest, darkest parts of the Smoky Mountains- mornings are quiet. Mornings are mysterious. Shards of bright light perforate the boughs of the tallest, strongest pines.

Mornings in the Smoky Mountains beckon small animals into places the day will not allow.

Mornings in the Smokies cast a particular spell on early seekers, as it glides across gentle hills and jagged mountains.

Ordinary sunrises transform into extraordinary events-throwing off bright yellows and pale pinks.

Mornings glow and illuminate until all traces of a velvety night have disappeared.

Mornings in the Smokies have followed lasting winters, summers, autumns and springs in a most splendid way.

Mornings are unique. Mornings are different.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

OH MY Gosh!!!!! Creamy Sweet Onion Soup

Ok folks this is a soup to die for- I came up with this recipe so it is a Pauletta original!!!

1 8 oz package of cream cheese
1 can of cream of celery soup
1 can of cream of chicken soup
1 can of chicken broth
1 cup of half and half
1 loaf of french bread sliced and toasted
2 large sweet onions
1 stick of real butter
1 cup of shreadded mozzarella cheese
1 cup of shreadded swiss cheese

melt butter in pot, slice onions into slices and cook in butter until done- if the butter starts to burn add 1/2 cup of water at a time until onions are done and then let onions brown - the water will evaporate and the butter will still brown onions.

remove cooked onions from pot and combine cream cheese, soups, broth and half and half. Stir until cream cheese is melted. Stir in onions and heat through. Place soup into oven proof bowls and top with bread that is then topped with cheeses. Put under broiler unitl cheese is melted.

It is so good - please try it :)