Saturday, December 31, 2011

The last birthday of the Year

Today is the picky one's birthday; Harry is 15.  He will be practicing his driving starting in a few days, so y'all better be on the lookout.  Just kidding, he's going to do great. 

I love that child.  He makes me laugh.  I'm going to send you over to my other blog to read about Harry and why he makes today is so special.

Happy New Year!  May the Lord bless you all in 2012!
~ashley

Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy Birthday to Honey Daddy

Today is big Hopson's birthday. He's 41, even though he claims he's not having any more birthdays. I asked my mother-in-law if she could believe the baby of the family was 41. She didn't want to talk about it, and then laughed. For his birthday he is heading into the woods.  He is taking 1/2 the clan with him, so hopefully if they see a big buck today, Elizabeth will let her daddy shoot it. 

He's been in the woods most of the week & looks like it.  He has that rugged look about him, and I have to admit that I like it.  He doesn't look like a CPA, he looks like a cowboy.  I hope he has a wonderful time on his birthday in the woods.  There will be no birthday cake, and there will be no presents.  The CPA wants less spending on his birthday, so that's what he gets, and since he's not getting any older he doesn't need a cake.  I think I'll make him some German Potato Salad instead.

Happy Birthday Honey Daddy!!! We love you!
~ashley

Thank you Pinterest!!!

I made the best appetizer last night.  (and it was easy, which you know I am very pro.)  I pulled the recipe off of Pinterest.  I'm not addicted to Pinterest, but I do like it.  It has great recipes, cute outfits, funny sayings, life sayings, ways to make your own detergent, you name it, it's on there.  For those of you not on Pinterest, you make your own 'board' (it is kinda like a ebullitin board) and you pin thing onto your board.  You also name your board.  I'm a little kooky so I decided to have fun/weird names for my boards.  And yes, it does make me happy.

My food board is called 'Feed Us Please!'  I made the cheddar bacon ranch pull apart bread last night to go with my brother's homemade chili recipe, that the picky one LOVES, and well as they say, a picture's worth a thousand words.

The completed pull apart!

And the completed pull apart.
Of course I didn't follow the directions.  You know I have to add my own flair to it.  I've named mine the Sourdough Pull Apart.  The fam demolished it in about 10 minutes.  I have to say it was good & I'm planning on make some more for New Year's Eve & New Year's Day to have with our black eyed peas & turnip greens.  :)  I'm super excited.  It will be a super yummy day.  I pray y'all are having a wonderful Christmas break and that you have a very Happy New Year!

Y'all be blessed beyond measure,
~ashley

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas Y'all

I just wanted to wish y'all a very Merry Christmas!  Ours has been wonderful.  We went to Tampa the week before Christmas to spend time with my brother and his wife.  We will be adding a new baby to our family in January!!!  (Not by me, thank goodness.)  I can't wait.  It's been 9 1/2 years since we've had a baby in the fam & we for sure need a new one.

While in Tampa we did some wonderfully fun things.  We went to a fun place called AirHeads; a massively big place that's full of trampolines that are all connected.  It's too much fun.  Of course my children love it.  They were flipping & twisting all over the place.  I was mistaken for a 28 year old!!!  Can I tell you how good that made me feel since I'll be 40 tomorrow.  :)

the fam in our gorgeous wetsuits


We swam with manatees.  Too cool for words.  There was a male that followed us around wanting to be scratched.  He would swim around us giving everyone a chance to love on him.  They are so beautiful & getting to pet them in their environment was amazing.  The water was a little cold, 72 degrees to be exact, but besides that, A OK.

Thursday night we went to see the Huseman Family Light Spectacular.  When they say it's a light spectacular, they mean a light spectacular!  68,000 lights set to 23 different songs.  It's incredible!  I had a great time watching & videoing some of the songs.  The Huseman's personally welcome every person who stops to watch their lights, and they give them a candy cane.  They also delivered almost 1000 pounds of food to a local Tampa charity.  What a great ministry they have. 

one candle shared
one candle

Church was amazing...I cried as usual, but I did something I've always wanted to do...take pictures during the service.  I took a picture of our pastor after he lit his candle, and then after all the candles in the sanctuary were lit.  

 
The difference between the two is amazing.  The sharing the Love of Jesus takes on a whole new meaning when you see 2400 candles lit, just from the one.  How blessed I have been this year.  I pray you feel God's blessings everyday!!!

Merry Christmas & y'all be blessed beyond measure,
~ashley


Monday, December 19, 2011

Breath...Just Breath PS

I have to add this commercial because it's just too funny!  Merry Christmas, Game On!

Breath...Just Breath...

Today is 6 days until Christmas...everyone take a big deep breath in.  Hold it.  Now release it slowly.  Repeat 2 more times to keep calm.  I'm calm...you know I am...  There is only one present that hasn't come in...I ordered it black Friday, have emailed the company twice, and am hoping it comes in within the next few days.  If it doesn't, I think it (and I) will be OK, because it's for Hoppy, and he's pretty easy going.  Knowing my luck it will be delivered to the house while Henry is at home.  Santa has decided to use UPS to deliver stuff that Harry and Hoppy have asked for.  Thanks Santa, you're killing me.  (Just kidding, it's all good, I'm just glad I'm not fighting Christmas crowds.) 

I can't believe the season is almost over; it feels like it just started.  I love everything about Christmas:  the decorations, lights, family & food.  They make me happy.  Because Elizabeth has so many late dance classes this year, I have been able to enjoy the Christmas lights more than ever this year.  Our little dance carpool loves to look at the lights too & those girls are funny! 

To those of you who are traveling for Christmas, please be safe.  We are looking forward to spending time with extended and immediate family and celebrating the 3 birthdays we have in the next 12 days.    (Harry will be getting his learner's permit in the first of January, and he's already a mack daddy driver in his own mind.  It will be interesting to see how he does on his permit test since he hasn't studied one iota.)  One more day of school until all the little chicks are done...the next 36 hours are going to be going on full throttle, but also full of Christmas Cheer!

I hope you all have a wonderfully Merry Christmas!
Be blessed beyond measure,
~ashley

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

12 Days and Counting

Well, in 12 days it will happen...I will turn 40.  I don't feel like I'm getting old, I just feel like my numberical age fits my psychological age.  I've been the matriarch of my family since I was 25, and at 25 you're still a little stupid.  Not quite as much as when you're a teenager, but pretty close.

I have one trepidation about this birthday.  It's the beginning of the decade that both my parents died.  I told someone my goal is to make it to 50, and that's not a lie.  I do hope to make it to be an old albiet very active grandmother.  Hopson's parents are in their 70's and their social schedule rivals that of any teenager's.  They are active and fun, and I have decided that I'm going to be the same way. 

In honor of my 40th year, starting on my birthday, I'm going to take 365 days of pictures.  A year in the life....  It's for postarity's sake for me.  I want to make the most of everyday, and hopefully by taking pictures that will help.  I hope you will join me on my crazy year of pictures!  Right now though, the laundry is calling my name, and one of the dogs threw-up in Elizabeth's room, so I better get busy doing what I do best.  :)

If you want to see the pictures you can click on the tab, starting December 26th, that will take you to my year in pictures.

Y'all be blessed beyond measure!
~ashley

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Should it be called Tebowing?

I'm so tired of the whole Tim Tebow controversy I could spit.  I'm sick and tired of commentators tearing him down for bowing in a prayer of thanks.  I hate the term 'Tebowing'.  I wonder if Tim does too?  There have been many players, in many different sports, before him who have given thanks for what God has allowed them to accomplish in sports; either by pointing or kneeling in humble adoration.  So why pick on Tebow?

Is it because no matter how hateful, I do mean hateful, the different people are to him, he continues to be humble, and quick to listen and slow to speak.  Is it because he makes them take a long look in the mirror and think they are not being the man God has called them to be?  Maybe it's because he's winning and giving glory to God; he's not taking all the the credit for winning a game; or they just plain don't like him.  I don't know, but I'm sick of it & I'm sick of him being ridiculed for his faith.

I know many have seen how Tim is acting and wondering if this guy is for real.  I think he is.  He's been in the spotlight since he was in high school, and he's now 23...that's 5 years to slip-up, but he hasn't.  Either he's a great actor or he is who he says he is, a true follower of Christ.

I am making a choice to be one voice who supports Tim Tebow and the Broncos.  I support him because his walk and his talk match.  I support him because he's someone I would want my boys to emulate, and my daughter to marry.  He puts Christ first and everything else is secondary.  God has given him talent (...even though the commentators hate his throwing motion etc, let's not forget he did win the Heisman Trophy as a sophomore no less.) and he uses that talent to the best of his ability.  He demands excellence from himself first and then asks others to follow him in excellence, and guess what, they usually buy-in to what he says, and they follow him. 

I'm proud of Tim Tebow.  I hope he continues to win, because he will point to the One who gave him the ability to do these things.  But, if they lose, I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Tim will continue to give glory where glory is due...to our Lord Jesus Christ.  God be with you Tim!  Romans 5:1-5 

Thanks for letting me rant guys!
Y'all be blessed beyond measure,
~ashley

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Christmas Comfort Food

I love Christmas comfort food.  There are so many things I cook this time of year that reminds me of my mom & MeMaw.  I wish they were alive so I could show them some of the things I've accomplished as a cook.  I feel close to them in the kitchen.

One of the things my MeMaw made that was mack daddy were her Cheese Straws.  I've tried the ones from the grocery store, and they're ok, but not like homemade.  (they're a little dry, have a kind of funky taste & they're not spicy enough for me...just in case you were wondering)  The good thing about cheese straws is that they are not hard to make.  It takes longer to cook them than anything else.  It's also fun to let your children get involved in the cooking.  Mine usually fight over my cookie press.

Tonight Hoppy was the only one at home for a little while & when I asked him if he wanted to press the cheese straws out, he jumped at the chance.  I love it...he's 17 and still wanting to help in the kitchen.  Makes my heart soar...and laugh...he was holding my cookie press like a gun at one point.  I couldn't snap a picture fast enough to catch him.  Crazy kiddo.

There is NOTHING healthy about cheese straws.  Hence, comfort food.  In the past  I've made them with a gluten free flour, and they're not that bad, a little gritty, but passable.  (add enough butter & cheese to anything and it will be palatable.)   I had fun watching Hop press these out.  We did a small batch so it didn't take too long.  There were perfect and so yummy.  I would love to know some of your favorite Christmas comfort foods.  Merry Christmas!



Merry Christmas & be blessed beyond measure,
~ashley

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Smelly Smelly Boys

Oh.My.Goodness...

I think something has died in my laundry room.  No, I'm being serious.  It has to be one of the nastiest smells ever.  You know what it is...teenage boy.  (who "kept forgetting" to bring home all his football workout clothes to get washed for about a month)  I should have been alerted to this when he asked to take a can of Lysol to school to fumigate his football locker.  I honestly don't know how the coaches deal with the smell.  All I know is that it's a good thing I'm not pregnant because I would have barfed all over the place.  Yuck!

I was wondering how I was going to get the stinch out of the clothes.  I knew this smell would not come out with regular clothes detergent even if I boosted it with OxyClean.  It was that bad...

...But then I remembered a beautiful little orange container I have in my laundry room.  It's called Dead Down Wind.  I bought it about 6 years ago for the boys to wash their clothes in before they go hunting, and it takes ALL the smell out.  I have used it before when Hop brought home stinky football clothes, and it worked great then, but this was a whole new level of stink, so I decided to put the DDW to the test.  You'll be happy to know it passed with flying colors!  All the nasty guy smell came out of the clothing...I can't say the same for the pads.  (I'm going to hit them with a different spray, and hopefully that will help.)  I really was shocked and very excited, and knew I needed to share this wonderful information with all moms with stinky boys in their house.  I have bought it at a local hunting/outdoor store, but you can also buy it online, or check their site for retailers near you.

The smell is now...dead down wind!  :)
Y'all be blessed beyond measure,
~ashley

Monday, December 5, 2011

Bring ON the Food

I love my annual Supper Club Christmas Party.  I have a fun crazy group of friends.  There are always gag gifts somewhere in the mix:  Mystique, the blown glass statue, and the farting Santa are some that have made their way into the mix over the past few years.  Stories from years past and the funny memories that go with them...AU/Georgia Tech game to you Ashley M.! 

The past few years my friend Lisa G. (who is a phenom in the kitchen!) and I have catered our CP.  It's cheaper and it's a chance to bring out our creative side and see if we can make a gourmet meal as inexpensive as possible.  I have to say that we aren't too shabby.  I like it too because we can eat off of fine china.  We only use it a few times every year anyway, so it's a chance to use it again!  Yea!

You know my obsession with Paul Prudhomme's different Magic products.  This summer we used them A LOT.  They are just so yummy, and well, I decided I wanted to break it out for one of the dishes I made for the dinner.

I did the sides this year.  We had:  Beef Tenderloin, Fresh Green Beans with Vinaigrette Dressing, Feta Mashed Potatoes, Baked Apricots, rolls, Red Velvet Cake, and Chocolate Cake.  Below is the finished plate.  Lisa made beef tenderloin, and it was divine!  You almost didn't need a knife to cut it.  It was beautiful.  I was tempted to pick-up my plate and lick it once all the food was gone.  (you'll be glad to know I didn't, it was just a fleeting thought...)




This is the centerpiece on the table.



 I hope the above recipes give you another idea of dishes you can make this Christmas season.  Bring on the food!!!

Y'all be blessed beyond measure,
~ashley

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Why I love Santa

December 1997
There is only one Santa.  I first met him 14 years ago this December.  Hop was 3 and Harry almost 1; my mom was in the end stages of metastatic melanoma; and I was totally stressed out.  Just thinking about those days will bring me to tears.  Staying up 24 hours a day for several days in a row will do that to you.  All I really wanted to focus on was having a Christmas with my sweet little boys, reading Christmas stories, telling them about why Christmas is so special for us, but I was focused on taking care of my mom, except for 1 morning.  For one morning, I was going to just be a mommy to my boys and have a Christmas memory with my little family.

I bought us tickets for a breakfast with Santa and Mrs. Clause.  Not only did we get to see Santa, but he and his wife led us in Christmas carols.  It was the highlight of the season for me.  I needed that time with Hopson, Hoppy & Harry.

Fast forward 14 years...
December 2011
Breakfast with Santa, THE singing Santa and Mrs. Clause.  This time though, Hop is 17, Harry almost 15, Elizabeth 11, and Henry 9.  (aren't they precious?)  A few more kiddos added to the mix, and the older 2 a few years older.  Where has the time gone?  How did my children get so big?  What a blessing they are!  I love the Christmas season.  I love what it means.  It's the moment in time that was perfect for The Word to become flesh.  When Jesus took off his princely robes of heaven and took on an earthly body.  Without Christmas, there is no Easter.



I talked to Santa this morning, I told him about that December day 14 years ago, and how it was the day that made my Christmas.  You know what he said?  "Give that girl your camera & have your picture made with us."  I love Santa. 



Mommy with Santa & Mrs. Clause
May your days be merry and bright & may you be blessed beyond measure,
~ashley

Friday, December 2, 2011

One of These Things is NOT like the others...

One of these things just doesn't belong.  Can you tell me which thing is not like the other, all before I finish my song.  Love Sesame Street!  I grew up watching it, and when my children were old enough to watch it, I would watch it with them.  Happy memories!!!  Remember the Ladybug Picnic?  Classic!



The reason I thought about that song is because I have been craving Butternut Squash Bisque for YEARS!  Yes, I said years.  I had it at a local restaurant, and they haven't made it since the first time I had it, about 2 years ago, so I finally broke down & made it myself.  Can I tell you that I think if the boiler had been big enough I would have submerged myself in it.  Oh my it was good, and warm, and creamy, and even better as leftovers.  I had it for breakfast & lunch the next day. 





But I thought about the shape of a butternut squash and it reminded me of something else I used to watch with my children...VeggieTales!  Notice my little friend on the back right...I always thought he was a gourd, but he's a butternut squash!!!  Love me some VeggieTales.  :)  Now onto the soup...


 


It's not hard to make, just a little time consuming.  I've never peeled a butternut squash, but I learned a trick that made it so much easier because the skin is very tough.  After you cut off the top & bottom you microwave it for a few minutes to soften the skin & then it slides off like butter.  (It also smells yummy while it's cooking in your microwave!)  Next scoop the membrane out and cut it up into chunks.




As I was cutting the squash up I allowed the onions to cook.  I actually cut-up a fresh onion, and didn't use frozen ones.  Aren't you proud?  You should be, you know how lazy I can be.  If you don't like onions, don't use them.  The next batch of soup I make I think I'll try it without the onion to see what it tastes like.  I'll let you know...







Once the onion is done cooking add in your chicken broth and squash.  Cook until squash is tender.  Simmer it, don't boil it, the squash is fragile. 








Once the squash is done cooking, gently spoon it out and put it in a blender or food processor with a some broth.  Puree the mixture until it is creamy.  If your blender/processor is having a tough time pureeing the mixture, add a little bit more broth.  When it's finished processing, add it back to the liquid in the boiler and add heavy whipping cream and nutmeg. 








And here is the finished product! 
Isn't it beautiful?  And shiny?  And wonderfully delicious?

It's happiness in a bowl.  I think I'm going to have to make a grocery run today for another squash.  This soup makes me happy and warm.  I know my boiler is not pretty for this picture, but I didn't care, because I had a bowl right after I took the picture.  Let me know if you try to it & what you think.

Y'all be blessed beyond measure,
~ashley

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

What is Pinterest?

Well, I'm going to be finding out hopefully soon...but until then, I saw this on the site & loved it, so I thought I'd share it with y'all.  I'll be posting a new recipe soon, so until then...

...y'all be blessed beyond measure!
~ashley

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Traditions

This year was the first year ever we haven't hosted Thanksgiving.  It was a little wierd but also very nice.  We had a wonderful time in Tupelo spending time with Hopson's family.  Hopson's oldest brother, wife & 3 children live there.  Their 3 children are the same ages as Hoppy & Harry, and it is a hop, skip, and a jump for Hopson's parents to drive to have dinner with the family.

The basic ingredients

My sister-in-law, Sandy, is a wonderful cook.  (she also sets a beautiful table!  Southern Living needed pictures of her table.)  We had a lot of oh so delicious, traditional foods:  turkey, dressing, different vegetable casseroles, cranberry sauce, rolls, and of course, various desserts.  Because we didn't host this year Hopson didn't get one of his favorite dishes:  German Potato Salad. 

In the almost 18 years we have been married, he has always had German potato salad with Thanksgiving.  I know what you're thinking...German Potato Salad for Thanksgiving?  Hopson asked for it when we were first married, and to be the wonderfully sweet newly married wife I was, I fixed it for him; and it became a tradition.  To make the fam's Thanksgiving complete, I made them the GPS today.


After I added the German vinegar
Today while I was cooking, Harry totally cracked me up.  You need to know that Harry LOVES bacon.  He would eat it with every meal.  So, I'm cooking the onions and bacon, and I had just added the German vinegar, which will clear out your sinuses if you get a little whiff of it, and Harry says:  'Oh, bacon!'  He popped a bite size piece in his mouth & immediately spit it out with a 'UHG' sound.  He asked me what I put on it to make it taste that way.  I just giggled and told him it was the vinegar.  He said it scared him & ruined a perfectly good pound of bacon.  Crazy Harry, he makes me laugh. 

Everyone one else was very excited.  So with our leftover turkey, homemade mayonnaise, and veggies, we now have some German potato salad.

Y'all be blessed beyond measure & War Eagle,
~ashley

The final product






Friday, November 25, 2011

Oh Sweet Success

Yea, third time's a charm!  Here's the finished product...

My MeMaw's homemade Mayonnaise
I didn't even wipe the bowl to make it pretty, because I'm hungry & am going to eat!

Blessings!
~ashley

Really? Really...

Yes, really!  My goodness, I'm frustrated.  I've made my MeMaw's homemade mayo 1000 times, at least, and for some reason I've tried twice today to make it & both times it has turned back into oil.  Do you have any idea how frustrating this is for me?  I just want to bang my head against the wall.

I've been finishing up the Christmas decorating so everything can get to the right temperature. (this is crucial to the making)  The tree has the pre-requisite 5 million strands of lights, the tables are festive, the last few doodads are out, and I just need some homemade mayonnaise for my food.

I think I'm being impatient.  It's like I'm learning to make it all over again.  I think the day I learned I went through at least 8 eggs and 8 cups of oil in the process.  One wrong move and the whole thing will fall.  It's quite tedious.  We have leftover turkey, dressing, and sides from yesterday that are screaming for homemade mayo.  The fam is asking for it too, and I so want to give it to them.

I'm also reliving when I made a cake out of a box and it fell.  Yes, I know you're wondering how that happened, but you know I don't like to measure anything...so that's pratically how it happened.  I can't remember it all, I'm blocking it out, but I don't think I used my mixer either. I found out much later that a cake needs air to help it poof in the oven.  It would help if I had read all the instructions...duh.  Baking is frustrating.

Well, I'm going to check my bowls, because it's getting close to dinner time, and we're hungry.  I just realized I didn't eat lunch because I was waiting on homemade mayo.  Oh well, here goes nothing.

If it turns out this last time I'll post a picture at the bottom of this post.

Merry Christmas & y'all be blessed beyond measure,
~ashley


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Ahh, Brotherly Love

When ever the older boys want something from Hopson or me you can always tell because they start with:  "Oh great and wonderful mother, who is wise and kind..."  I just start giggling, what do you expect me to do?  I usually know what they're going to ask, depending on the time in the year, but I love it when they agree on something and they both (or all 4) will come to ask me something.

Last night I received such a request.  Since they were not doing anything in school, they humbly asked to be checked-out from school today.  I promise Harry needs to be an attorney.  I start thinking about if it's a good idea to check them out & he has 5000 reasons why I should.  8 times out of 10 I will initially refuse their request, but I hesitate millisecond & you can see the hopefulness on their faces.

calling shotgun
I gave in & checked them out, I mean, they really weren't doing anything.  We went to get Henry from school since Elizabeth was coming home from a granddaughters trip to NYC.  I ended up taking all the boys out to lunch.  As you can imagine, when I'm driving, riding shotgun is a premium.  Harry didn't necessarily call it, but he ran and jumped in the front seat to lay claim to it.  Now, I'm not one to stir, but I asked Hop if he was going to allow his younger brother to sit in the front.  The result was hilarious.  They were scuffling and laughing, I was laughing & trying to get a picture that wasn't blurry.  I love it when my boys get to rough-house and laugh. 

Yes, I said I like it when my boys rough-house.  I let them throw balls in the house (but please be careful of my lamps), run, wrestle, and whatever else boys like to do. (bodily functions are not excluded, but time and place please)   When they're out in public or at a friend's house I expect gentlemanly behavior, but a man's home is his castle, so I have 1 king & 3 princes who have marked ever inch of this house.  Elizabeth & I just shake our heads; laugh at their antics; and remember to check the toilet seat before we go to the bathroom.

I hope you all have a wonderfully blessed Thanksgiving!  We're going to Tupelo to have dinner with Hopson's oldest brother, his family, and my in-laws.  I know I will have TONS of stories.  When we all get together, craziness ensues, but there's lots of laughter.

Y'all be blessed beyond measure,
~ashley

Monday, November 21, 2011

Romance Killers

I have decided that children are romance killers.  Hopson and I are so busy taking care of them we forget that before they were, it was just us.  Now, he was working a ton & I was in grad school, but it was still just us.  Our lives were boring, now that I think about it, but it was easier for us to be romantic.  Dancing in the kitchen to James Taylor's Greatest Hits; sitting together and not feeling the need to talk, but just read or watch tv...among other things.  Now we have to make sure teenagers are not lurking around the corner just to kiss each other.  Heaven forbid they see us smooching...they might die from embarrassment. (how do they think they got here?)

He's a good lookin' cowboy
I remember when I met Hopson.  We were on a double date with different people.  I thought he was quick witted and had awesome pecs.  After just meeting me once, he remembered my name.  He says he asked me out in late May/early June, and I stood him up, but I don't remember that at all.  My dad had passed away a few weeks before and I was going through the motions of life.  He left to go work as an advance man for older President Bush's reelection campaign, so I didn't hear from him for 6 months.  He came to Auburn to hang out for a few weeks before finals, and it just so happened his fraternity was having their annual Christmas party.

Our first date
So, December 3rd we had our first date.  He bought me finger bubble blowers.  I think I liked him from that moment.  He was well spoken, cute, rugged, oozed confidence, was (and is) very smart, and did I mention he had (and still has) a great chest?  The more I got to know him, the more I liked being with him.  We would meet-up on the Concourse and talk before & after class, or he would invite me to eat lunch with him at the fraternity house.  We would go out for cheap Chinese food and share an order.  It was fun flirting with him.  I wondered if there was anything he couldn't do.  I loved watching him work on his fraternity's spring party build project...shirtless.  Oh my! 

See what I mean, he didn't have to do anything, just smile at me.  Why don't I see him like that everyday?  Adult life & kids...romance killers.  So, what am I going to do about it?  I think I'll put on a little music, make sure the kiddos are out of the room, and just dance for a little while...

Y'all be blessed beyond measure,
~ashley

Friday, November 18, 2011

Where I Spend My Time

I think I need to paint my car.  No, it's not that the paint is chipping or faded, it's that I'm always in my car driving little people hither and yon.  Yellow, that's the color my car should be, and it needs a 'Children's Taxi' sign gracing the top.  Don't laugh, you know it can or will apply to you in the future.  We even have one child who can drive himself and it is still crazy around here.

We're in the car so much Henry knows how to get most of his homework completed in the car.  The life of being the baby of the family.  Bless that sweet child, he can roll with the punches better than anyone, and doesn't wig out when things suddenly change.  (he did not get that from his mommy)  He could also nap in the car like a champion when he was a baby.  People would see him asleep in his car seat & whisper and say 'oh look, the baby is asleep, y'all be quiet and don't wake him up.'  I would laugh and say, don't worry, you can't wake him up, because you couldn't.  We are not the quietest family...

Last night was one of the coldest nights of the year for us so far.  I really wanted to eat chili, but knew the fam would balk.  Chili is a go to for me in a tight.  And then, it was like I heard a chior singing as I remembered I have a recipe for White Chicken Chili.  I needed somthing I could leave cooking on low on the stove as I hauled my little chicks around.  You know I don't follow directions very well.  If I don't have or like something in a recipe, I'll change it, no biggie.  The original recipe calls for ground chicken.  What, ground chicken, who keeps ground chicken in their freezer?  So, I decided to poach some and dice it up.  I did want some heavy cream to add to it, but didn't have any so it was a healthy chili.

We're coming up on the busiest time of the year.  Every mom I talk to has said that December is crazier than May, and I totally agree.  Hopefully this chicken chili will help make your Christmas season a little easier.

Y'all be blessed beyond measure,
~ashley

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Someone May Get Slapped

My family has a horrible habit.  They are the messiest people God ever created.  Why are they so messy?  It makes me so sad, and for some reason, they are under the false assumption that my favorite thing to do is to clean-up after them.  The picky one had the audacity to tell me that I needed to do the cleaning-up since I don't do anything else all day, and it's not that big of a deal if the house is messy.  Excuse Me! Did you really just say that?   Oh, yeah, I forgot, I'm just a mom, so that means I have no life, or feelings, or aspirations.  Someone may get slapped.


The chore list.
I can't wait until my children have that Aha moment when they finally understand what goes on around here.  I don't like cleaning up the same things (or different things) all the time...I'm trying to teach them how to do it, but for some reason it's not clicking yet, even with the teenagers.  They are just as messy as they were as toddlers, and 5 verses 1 is not a fair fight.  I've even taped their chores on their mirrors & it still doesn't help.  These chores are just for their rooms, I really want them to pick-up their stuff they leave around the house, and unload their clean clothes baskets without me asking 1000 times.




This weekend I may see a glimmer of hope...Elizabeth leaves to go to NYC with my mother-in-law and all the granddaughters for 4 days, and all the boys are going hunting for the weekend.  Only 2 more days, 2 more days, 2 more days.  This will be my mantra until they leave.  I hope I can hang on until then.

Someone didn't read the chore list...
I wonder what makes some of us neat freaks and others not.  For those of you who are not...I just don't understand.  I want to put up the rules I thought up for my kitchen in different rooms of our home.  When things are at their cleanest, I'm at my happiest.  Cleanliness is next to Godliness.  :)  Well, I'm going to get some cleaning done so I can hopefully get a workout, and do some actual money making work today.  May the Lord make my hands swift and efficient as I work to clean this messy house today.


I would love to know if your families are the same as mine.  Neat Freaks Unite!  Please let me know I'm not the only one surrounded by messy people out here.

Y'all be blessed beyond measure,
~ashley, the neat freak

Monday, November 14, 2011

No More Men in My Kitchen

I'm pretty good about sharing my kitchen with the fam, but I'm about to ban all men from it.  Hop & his very first best friend, Will, wanted to cook Red Fish Stew on Saturday, and me being the wonderfully nice mom I am (insert hysterical laugh here) allowed them access to my kitchen.  I figured since they are leaving in a year and a half for college, it was time for them to start learning to cook things on their own.

Hop started skinning & dicing the Red fish & Will started chopping the onion and making the roux.  I had to talk them both through the process, thankfully they caught on pretty fast.  In the picture to the left, Will (on the right) has started cooking the roux, and Hop (on the left) was dicing the fish.  I was proud of Will, he said the roux smelled like his Granna's Jambalaya.  I told him that he was so smart because when you make Jambalaya, you make a roux.  I think he was proud of himself.  Sweet Will!


Here is the finished product.  We decided to half the recipe because there were:  the two of them, Henry had one of his best buds, Josh, over that day, and then me.  It was just enough to feed the 5 of us.  There was about 1 serving left in the bowl.  It all went smoothly, but I have one HUGE complaint...those boys did not clean up my kitchen.  I don't mind you cooking, but you better clean up after yourself.  It's funny, I remember my mom saying the same thing to us growing up.

I pointed out several times what needed to be washed by hand & what needed to be rinsed and loaded into the dishwasher.  The trash from cooking needed to go into the garbage can & that garbage taken outside; counter tops needed to be washed off; and clean dishes they cooked with should have been put away.  Did any of this happen?  No it did not, and that leads to a very frustrated, very unhappy mommy.  I don't mind you using my kitchen, but you better leave it like you found it...and for some reason no one ever does.   So, I'm thinking about posting what I expect if you use my kitchen.

Momma's Rules for the Kitchen
1.  Yes, your momma lives here, but she does not like cleaning up your mess when you cook,
      CLEAN UP AFTER YOURSELF
2.  If you are unsure about what you are doing, ask questions first before you do anything.
3.  Have a wonderful time cooking.  Any other questions can be answered by reading rule #1.

Since football is over for the year, I think the big boys are going to plan a fun night that includes cooking in my kitchen & hanging outside around our fire pit.  I guess I better get the rules posted by Wednesday.  I'll choose to look the other way as they make a mess in my kitchen & I'll help them clean up after it's over...maybe.  ;)

Y'all be blessed beyond measure,
~ashley




Saturday, November 12, 2011

Time Marching On

Today is the first Saturday since the first of August that I didn't get up at 6:30 to see Hop off for early morning football workouts.  I had this same feeling 14 years ago when my brother was a junior and they were knocked out of the playoffs.  It's like it was yesterday.  Now it's my child, not my brother, and the same feelings have returned.  There's one season left for these boys...just one...do they know...do they understand how quickly time marches on?

Last night we lost a heartbreaker.  Our team was so close.  The other team kicked a 43 yard field goal to win the game with 5 seconds left on the clock.  Our guys played so hard and left it on the field. 

God bless Hop's coaches, especially his head coach.  He has helped raise thousands of boys; helped them become men. Coach Anderson has been head coach at the high school for over 30 years.  Last night I stood back and watched him.  I saw him go to each senior, as they were coming to grips with their high school career being over, hugging them and whispering encouraging words to them.  It must be hard letting go each year.  The high school coaches spend more time with our boys than we do, so they become family, and it must be hard letting go.

Each year before the season starts, each boy dreams of being victorious, dreams of winning the state championship.  For our team this year, we had some great victories, but in the end fell a little short of the ultimate goal.  For all the juniors, there is one more year for dreams, football victories, and a state championship, but what the they will take away is so much more than that.  They learn about:  time management; being unselfish; relying on others to help you; leadership; listening to authority; the joy of victory; and the heartbreak of defeat. 

To this year's seniors, I pray you God's speed.  As you move ahead and look to finishing up  your senior year I hope it's filled with wonderful happy memories that you will carry for a lifetime.  For the juniors, I pray you make every moment count.  Live each day to it's fullest, because for you, next year starts now; and time is marching on.

Y'all be blessed beyond measure,
~ashley

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Dreaming of a White Christmas

I want to say привет to all the people from Russia reading MOJ. 
Lately we've had a lot of traffic from that part of the world, so I just wanted to give you guys a shout out.
С Рождеством to you too.  (for all of us not fluent in Russian that says Merry Christmas. 
I love Google!)

Christmas will change in my home in a few years. Hoppy will be going off to college & he will realize that where ever he is will be his home, and we will be a place he only visits. It makes me want to cry, but I'm going to hold on to the next few years and love every second of them!

I remember the Christmas after my dad died, it was the most heartbreaking Christmas ever.  Christmas was my dad's favorite holiday, and we all knew it.  It changed again 5 years later when my mom was dying.  She was so sick she couldn't join us for most of it.  We did little things to bring laughter in the house, but it was a lot of work.  She died December 30th.  It was a sad Christmas too, but for some reason the music of Christmas always helps me remember happy times.

As far as I'm concerned, only a few people should be allowed to sing Christmas songs.  They are so beautiful and there are so many who butcher them.  :/  Bing Crosby is on the approved list.  Daddy would play the White Christmas album ad nauseam, but to this day when I hear it, I think of Daddy.  

I've always wanted a white Christmas.  Living in the south, the chances of having one are about slim & none..that is until last year.  We had a dusting of snow, the first one ever on Christmas morning in my state, and to make it even better...it snowed the day after Christmas too, which is my birthday.  :)  What can I say, I don't want much, but snow on my b'day was #1.

Well, this year I'm dreaming of another white Christmas.  It would be too wonderful for words. 

What are the things that are a must have or must hear for you & your family every Christmas?  I look forward to reading what you love about Christmas!

Be blessed beyond measure,
~ashley

Some of my Favorite things

Christmas decorations are up in the stores; Magic 96 has started playing Christmas music; and I have to admit...it makes me happy.  (all except for the new Christmas Tree tax the president wants to impose on all of us who love fresh Christmas trees; hey Mr. President, you're killing me.)

I love Christmas.  I love the lights, decorations, music, food, smells, and it's a time for Hopson & me to show our children the true meaning of Christmas.  In the past I have felt pressure, all that I put on myself, to have a perfect Christmas.  What I have learned is that my family just wants to be together; have a little food; and spend some time praising the Lord for when the Word became flesh.  Once I realized this fact, Christmas became easier for me.

Now don't get me wrong, there are certain foods that must be present...it just wouldn't be Christmas at our house without them.  

Something that I learned to make in college from my mom who learned to make it from my MeMaw is homemade mayonnaise.  Most people turn their noses up at it, but once you taste it, oh it's a little bit of sunshine on your plate.  It makes everything taste better.  I eat it plain.  It is so yummy.  It takes some practice to learn how to make it, and you can't make it when it is raining outside, because it will fall.  That's what my MeMaw & mom told me anyway.

Another thing we love to eat are homemade cheese straws.  My MeMaw made the best tasting, most beautiful cheese straws you have ever seen.  I've tried to make mine pretty, but because I'm a lazy cook and not as patient as she was, mine can be quite ugly.  They still taste yummy, but they're not pretty.  I'll also let the kiddos help make them & they don't make them pretty either, but we have fun making them!

I'm going to be posting other recipes that we have for Christmas.  I'm looking forward to the season, as a matter of fact, I think I'll start decorating this weekend.  Merry Christmas to me! 


Y'all be blessed beyond measure,
~ashley

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

What's the meaning of this?

Can I tell you that I am so glad that some dreams don't come true.  I went this morning, as part of my normal morning routine, to make sure my youngest child, Henry, was awake, and to have a wonderful morning chat before he plopped himself in the shower.  Today is also clean sheet day so I needed to help him strip his bed and start putting clean sheets back on it.  Now, when the fam tells me a dream I like to ask questions to try to understand it. (both for themselves and me)  I have always liked to try to figure out what dreams mean.  Henry's dream from last night has totally stumped me.

That child has some crazy dreams.  I may need to watch his diet.  He starts to giggle as he tells me he had a weird dream last night.  As any good mom would, I asked him about it.  He said he dreamed he had a baby sister (shut his mouth, four children in our family is plenty) who fell in the toilet, and when he tried to get her out; she bit his finger.  Of course now we're both at a full blown laugh, and I'm asking him how old his baby sister was.  He said she was a young toddler, but she slipped off the toilet lid & into the toilet.  Henry has always wanted a baby brother or sister; that's part of  why we bought the Chihuahua, Bella. 

What in the world that dream meant I have NO idea, but it has made my day.  I love that crazy kid.  He is so precious.

On a side note, I was listening to Rick and Bubba, my favorite radio show, yesterday, and someone brought them some Chocolate Chip Cookie Oreo Brownies.  It sounded so yummy I had to share the link.  If you don't think I'm going to surprise the fam with these one day you're crazy.  It looks like heaven on a plate.   

Have y'all or any of your kids had crazy dreams that just left you in a fit of giggles?  I would love to hear about them!

Y'all be blessed beyond measure,
~ashley



Thursday, November 3, 2011

Because I'm the Mom

Ok, this is going to be somewhat of a rant.  I have started wondering who is taking the time to actually raise their children.  Do parents not realize what their children are doing?  I amazes me!  It's a lot of work being a parent, but when did setting boundaries, and prying in your child's life become something that was bad.  Why is saying no so hard for some parents.  Why do we want to give our kids everything when they're too young to understand the meaning or worth behind it?  See, I told you I was ranting.

I am not my childrens' friend, I am their parent.  My kids have friends & they happen to be the same age as they are, and I have friends that are the same age as me.  If I sound like I don't love my children, nothing could be farther from the truth.  They are most precious to me, and I thank God everyday for Him allowing me the honor of being their mommy.  Because I place value on them, I want to equip them for anything the world may throw at them.  I want to raise them to love the Lord and follow His ways first.  Now I have noticed, that as they are getting older our relationship is changing, and there is a mutual friendship growing.  I am far from being a perfect mom, but I hope my 4 realize that Hopson & I are relying on God to help us raise them to be the best people they can be.

One example is Facebook.  I will scroll through from time to time & and am amazed at what some of the teenagers are posting.  It's crazy and shocking.  When my children became old enough, in our household, to have a Facebook account, guess who was their first friend?  You got it...me.  I will check everything they post if I feel like it, whenever I feel like it.  If there is something questionable, we will talk about it & what do they think the right choice is.   (after all, we want them to learn how to make the correct decisions by themselves.)

If you're not checking your child's FB account, cell phone, iPod, laptop or iPad if they have one, their car if they're old enough to drive, wallets, purses, rooms, closets, drawers, cabinets, and anything else I'm leaving off the list, you are not doing your child justice.  Children want boundaries.  They want to be secure that you are going to keep them safe.  I want my children to trust me that everything I do for them is for their best. 

Moms & Dads, please take the time to be the parent your child needs.  Your child doesn't need you as a friend until they are older, they need your loving guidance and wisdom that God has given you.  Don't be afraid, you can do it!  All you need is a lot of love, a little discipline, and wisdom that only the Lord can give. 

Thanks for letting me rant!!!
Y'all be blessed beyond measure,
~ashley

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The 5 P's of Life

Prior   Planning   Prevents   Poor   Performance

My 5 P's of life.  I would love to take credit for them, but I heard them first on the Rick and Bubba Show.  I am a task driven person by nature.  If I have a list going & do things that aren't on my list, I'll add them on there just to be able to mark them off.  Yes, it is a little twisted & sick, but it gives me a great amount of happiness.  You know, that little 'woohoo, one more thing off the list' moment.  I put everything on my calendar which is on my computer & on my crackberry.  Both pop up reminders 24 hours in advance of something that has to be done, attended, purchased, etc.  (I'd staple it to my shirt if it wouldn't make me look silly just so I would have one more way to remember stuff.)

If you are a mom with multiple children, you have to live by the 5 P's at least part of the time.  If you don't, I want to know your secret, because I'm going to market it and make a mint!  :)  Just kidding, but I would love to know if you have to have lists to get through your days too.  Yesterday was pretty busy, and I knew I would not have time to cook dinner tomorrow night.  I actually thought about dinner yesterday morning when I woke up at 4:45 am.   I was thinking something like a jambalaya, but there was no time to cook it the normal way, so here's what I did. It's a busy momma's jambalaya.

poached chicken & sausage
I poached the chicken in the crock pot with some Cajun Injector marinade, tons of garlic, 1/2 a small onion, and some chicken broth.  (I used the creole butter.)   What a beautiful creation my crock pot is.  It's almost 20 years old & still going strong.  I can put the meat in there frozen & it comes out fully cooked.  (which is what I did yesterday.)  I also included a pound of turkey sausage.  To the right is a picture of the finished product.


the roux
I had 30 minutes to complete everything else for the dinner.  I needed a roux with this.  The great thing about a roux is a little oil & flour can make a lot.  The way to make it go farther is chicken broth.  :)  A wonderful ingredient, it will add flavor to anything.  Here is my roux while it was cooking.  I added a little kosher salt, fresh cracked pepper, a little ground red pepper & ground pepper flakes, and the secret (my favorite) ingredient is Chef Paul Prudhomme's Poultry Magic.  Yum!  When it was finished I wanted to just eat it out of the pan by itself.  I cooked it to a light brown.  After it was cooked I added 1 onion & 1 green pepper.  (actually you know how lazy I am when I'm in a hurry, so I used frozen onions & green peppers.)

I cooked 2 cups of rice, and shredded the chicken and cut up the sausage and added them to the roux.  Here is the finished product.  It's  hard to see the chicken because it literally fell apart in my hands as I was trying to cut it up.  Henry had 2 or 3 helpings, I couldn't get a firm confirmation, but it was a lot.  The picky one said it was good but not amazing.  He liked the sausage the best.  (I would have used 2 pounds, but I only had one in the freezer.)  Harry said he didn't like it already mixed in with the rice.  He would have liked it all separated.  Picky eaters...
the finished product

Do I use the 5 P's everyday?  No, and  you know what, on the days I don't I'm not nearly as streamlined and productive in what I have to get done.  The day's I use the 5 P's, I can totally rock this mom thing out!  Well, now I can go mark a few things off my list.  :)  And so it begins...

Y'all be blessed beyond measure,
~ashley

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Just don't get it in my Hair...

 It's another Homecoming in the bag.  I don't know about the kids, but I had a blast.  Last year's homecoming posting was called Joy Bubbles Up, and I have to say, this year's did not disappoint.   Fun is always afoot when you have teenagers around.  Funny things are going to be said & done! My boys don't like for me to take pictures of them, because I take a lot of pictures.  (how did we ever survive before digital pictures?)  So, we were starting the picture taking process and surprise, Harry started complaining.  Of course he didn't want me taking a lot of pictures, but as big Hopson said:  "Do what your mother says...she can't live vicariously though you when you don't cooperate."  Yeah, it's not about them anyway.  Just kidding, it's all about them, but I do want to make sure I have as much recorded for them to go back at look at when they are my age.  I hope to create an atmosphere where wonderful memories can be made.
Anthony & Harry about to get their dates
Hop, Anthony & Harry pondering the meaning of life.



The girls looked beautiful!
Hop & his date Hedy
Anthony, Harper, Taylor & Harry

Oh to be young again...to have my pre-baby body again...nah, I'm at a great place right now.  I have noticed that I'm slowly becoming more of a night owl.  Don't like being a night owl, because no matter what, the early bird in me always wakes up before the sun (or the alarm clock).  I went to bed at 3am uh-huh, love that time.  Been a little loopy today, but I did get a nice nap though & feel much better.

We had freshmen at our house for the after party, which started at midnight. Hop & his date went to a friend's house. We had breakfast, yummy. I made a Sausage & Grits Casserole and a Hash Brown Casserole. We also had Monkey bread, coffee cake, sausage biscuits, and fresh fruit.

After the shaving cream fight.

The real fun came after breakfast.  Let the games begin!  The girls were so funny, they did not want shaving cream in their hair, but once they started playing...all bets were off.  Several ended up with shaving cream splatted on their faces, in their mouths, a little in their eyes, and all in their hair.  We also had an egg toss, food relay race, and a silly string fight.  They were too funny.




How blessed I am to be able to hang out with a bunch of great kids!  They keep me young and give me so much joy.  I love doing stuff like that for my kids.  I hope they can look back and smile and say they had a good time too.

Y'all be blessed beyond measure,
~ashley

Friday, October 28, 2011

Confessions & Lists

I need some of my productivity back from Wednesday.  Today is Homecoming.
 
Have I cooked for tonight?  No. 
Have I set-up the tables & all the stuff for the after party games for tonight?  That's a nope
Checked to see if rooms are clean?  Nuh-uh
Wrapped the last few cheerleader gifts.  No on that one too

So why am I sitting here, typing at my computer when I have so much to do?  The answer, no idea.  I think it's because it's therapeutic for me to confess this.  I really just want to sit at my computer, listen to Pandora Radio & eat peanut butter M&Ms.  But, I'm not.  When I'm done confessing here, I will: unload the dishwasher; do a sweep of the house to make sure it's in some semblance of order; help Elizabeth get packed for her Jr. High retreat this weekend at church; move chairs & set-up tables for the after party tonight; cook; get corsages, balloons, money from the bank; drop off all the stuff for Hopper's after homecoming party at his friend Joe's house; cook for Harry's after party; take a shower...ok wow, I had more to do than was on my original list.  Where is that list because you know I'm going to add all this stuff on there.  :)

Harry has requested breakfast for the after party & shaving cream.  It should prove to be a super fun night!  (we plan on throwing the shaving cream, not eating it.)  I'll post pictures and the recipes I use.  Harry wants me to make Sausage & Grits casserole, Hash brown casserole,chocolate milk, Sunny Delight, and anything else with tons of sugar.  They'll be wound-up for sure!  The good thing is that hopefully we'll have extra to eat tomorrow morning.

Well, gotta go & get busy...have lots to do & times a'wastin.

Y'all be blessed beyond measure,
~ashley



Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Days like today...

I'm taking a little break right now, but know I LOVE days like today!  I have been super ultra productive & it's not even 9am yet.  Yea for mom!!!  I know others don't get excited about:  laundry getting washed & dried; dishwashers getting unloaded & reloaded; stripping beds; hanging up clothes; cleaning out closets; wrapping presents; getting dinner prepared; and working out (well others in my house may care about this one...) but this is just some of what I've accomplished this morning.  See the smile on my face!

If you've never taken a personality test you need to!  I'm an I/D.  Which means a few things:  1.  I know who I am.  (get it? ID...cue the groans)  2.  I'm task oriented, sometimes to a fault.  I've been known to add things to my to do list after I've completed them just so I can cross them back off the list.  Yes, it's sick and somewhat sad, but oh so true.  But my family thinks that most days I sit around my house watching tv & eating cookies. so I have to have something for them to see that I've actually done something.

This Friday is homecoming, and I'm getting everything ready to host a group of sweet freshmen for their first after homecoming party.  We're going to eat which is always a must, play games & just have some good clean fun.  I'll post some pictures Saturday, it should be a hoot. 

Hop played in his last JV game ever last night & the team went undefeated this year.  His class has only lost a handful of games since they started playing football.  It's really incredible.  I hope we can continue the undefeated streak next year when they are seniors.  Where has the time gone?

Well, have to get busy on the second part of my list...my goal is to be done by 12, so I can get some errands outside the house done.  I'll let you know how it goes...

y'all be blessed beyond measure!
~ashley




Monday, October 24, 2011

What to do?

I'm asking myself the same question I ask almost 3 times a week.  What in the world are we going to have for dinner?  Monday's are crazy; everyone has something going on, so I decided to make Chicken Pie.  The fam loves chicken pie, I love chicken pie, it's a win win for everyone.  I like wins, they make me feel good.

As I was putting the casserole together I noticed I was out of a lot of staples in my pantry and freezer.  A few weeks ago was a canned food drive at the high school, and Harry needed said cans and wiped me out.  (with permission of course)  I've been dedicated to having dinner prepared at least 4-5 nights a week, and at one point I had enough food in my pantry and freezer to tie us over, but now the stores are depleted. 

I guess that means I need to start a MAJOR grocery list and get my happy self to the grocery store.  Maybe I'll take the fam so we can have speed grocery!  My favorite, no really, it is.  When my children were all little I needed one of those mack-daddy buggies to pack them all in safely and still have room for groceries.  I would usually arrive to find none available.  Do you know why?  It was because a mom with 1, let me repeat 1 child would have it.  Hey thanks for that, I was looking forward to my preschoolers jumping on and off my buggy since I couldn't strap them in.  Once they started getting older though it was a whole new ball game!  They pair up & I give them a list of things to get; find me to put what you have in the buggy & then get their next items on the list.  Oh, it's great fun!!!  (I can also send Hop to the grocery by himself with my list since he can drive.  Ask me the happiness that brings me!)

8 times out of 10 they will get exactly what I told them to get.  You have to be VERY specific, or you might end up with the most expensive of what you're looking for (and something special they decided to pick-up for themselves).  Brand, size, weight, color of the box/carton, where it might be located on the isle, and how many of each you need are always important.  With the children I have noticed they ask questions about why I get this brand over that one, why do we need the bigger box of rice, etc; and because of those questions I can share with them how to save money; how a special ingredient in a recipe can make that recipe great; the difference between oils, vinegars, and cooking wines.  The list is endless, and they learn how to follow specific directions.  Who knew so much could be learned in Publix?

They always ask for something that I wasn't going to get:  Cookies, Pop Tarts, Ice Cream, anything with tons of sugar;  they're kids, what can I say?  As long as they don't try to sneak anything into my buggy, sure I'll give in on the one thing they vote on they really want.  It's usually decided by a few games of paper, rock, scissors, and that is for sure another story for another day!

Chicken Pie's ready & I need to go get Harry...

Y'all have a wonderful Monday & be blessed beyond measure!
~ashley

Saturday, October 22, 2011

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish

Today was a man day at the house.  Actually, almost everyday is a man-day:  Elizabeth and I are outnumbered 2 to 1.  And no, I don't count the dogs, they can't talk and don't have opposable thumbs. 

Hopson has taken the children fishing in Louisiana every year for the last 6 years or so.  They catch speckled trout and red fish.  (and a lot of it)  The funny thing is...my kids really only like their fish fried, and I don't like to fry things...it smells up my house and takes a long time to cook.

Hopson called one of the Louisiana guys, Mr. Greg, to get his Redfish Stew recipe they had while they were fishing last year.  I kinda turned my nose up at it....  I knew it was going to smell up my kitchen, I mean, my goodness, it has fish in it, and fish is smelly.

I'm glad my words tasted yummy in my bowl, because I ate them.  The stew was surprisingly delicious and not fishy at all.  The fish tasted more like chunks of meat in the stew, and not flaky pieces that fell apart in your mouth.  It was good, but getting to the finished product was a little more difficult than it should have been.  

While I helped chop up everything for the stew, Hopson was supposed to be making a dark brown roux.  I told him to stir it continually so the flour doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan.  He 'didn't notice' the part of the recipe that said it needed to be dark brown, so he added all the veggies before the roux was ready & ended up with a huge sticky mess.  Have you ever tasted a dark brown roux vs. a light roux?  The light roux tastes like flour.  It's pretty nasty.  I tried to fix it, but we had to start over. 

The next go 'round I made the roux & he chopped all the veggies.  It was much better, and I happy to say successful.

I left all the men to do their guy bonding thing & I went to see the movie The Help with some friends.  Thanks Martha, Ginger & Mary Beth for a great outing.  Thank you ladies for letting me escape my house full of men it was very relaxing, and something I needed to do.

Enjoy the Redfish Stew!

Y'all be blessed beyond measure,
~ashley

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Goose bumps

It is cold here in our state today.  Now, I know people in Denver or Maine or Alaska will laugh right in my face, but I'm from a very warm, humid, southern state & I don't react well when it gets below 60.  My husband calls me a cold prickle because if I get cold I physically can not warm myself back up.  Now, I will say I am glad that it's not 100 degrees outside anymore. 

It was so cold for us last night we built our first fire of the fall season.  It was so wonderful.  I love everything about it.  The look, the smell, the feel...it makes me so relaxed and happy.

I made Friday Special last night for dinner again.  When Hoppy asked what we were having and I told him & did a fist pump & said "yes!".  Can I tell you how happy that made me?  That reaction is so much better then 'oh mom, do we have to have that, I don't like it'.  Yes, my children do utter that horrible phrase to my face...

I went back and looked at the recipe to see how I could make it less greasy and thin & I think I fixed it.  Everyone said it was more flavorful and it coated the chicken and pasta better.  I did marinate the chicken & it made a HUGE difference.  I also grilled it very slowly and it was super juicy.  WooHoo for mom!

Here's what I changed...
  • Chicken marinade:  balsamic vinegar, olive oil, fresh cracked pepper, and Chef Paul Prudhomme's poultry seasoning.
  • Of course I didn't measure anything, but I put a good bit of vinegar and just a little olive oil.  I put the chicken in a ziploc bag and made sure all the pieces were coated well, and then added the pepper and a lot of poultry seasoning and turned it in the bag again. 
  • I let it marinate 24 hours...and grilled it on low 15-20 minutes on each side.  You could mush the juice out of it. 
Before I could get everything tossed the children were swiping chicken from the bowl, it was that good.

For the vinaigrette I reduced the olive oil to 3/4 of a cup, added a lot more Dijon mustard probably more than the 3 tbsp that I have mentioned on the recipe, and a little more sugar.  Whisk it very well, because the oil wants to settle on the top.  Your vinaigrette should be a brownish yellow color.  (you want it pretty dark)  The children liked it better, and everyone went back for seconds.

Tonight Henry has a football game & the low is supposed to be 37.  I'm going to be bundled up big time!    Go Cards!  (I like it when they break the pre/post game huddle with 'Angry Birds!')  Maybe we can get home and still have time to build a fire because I have a feeling I'm going to need to thaw out.

Y'all be blessed beyond measure,
~ashley

Pin MOJ to Pinterest

the reason I do what I do

the reason I do what I do
this is us on our family vacation.

Search Measure of Joy

Where the MOJ reader are...

Locations of Site Visitors Do you want your own mapcounter? go to www.maploco.com