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 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,

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,

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 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!

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!

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 kids really only like their fish fried, and I don't like to fry 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,

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 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,

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Salt Water Taffy & Cold Pizza

Having a houseful of kids is a true blessing.  I have four, so right now there is always something going on in our house.  When the children are home from school there are sounds and actions surrounding them:  homework; music playing; laughter; sometimes arguing; Lego forts and planes being built and played with; sting pong and shooting pool; lacrosse balls being thrown against the house and caught again; the ping of the bat as it hits a baseball; dancing; but I think my favorite is when their friends come over.

My children are blessed with wonderful friends, all four of them have great friends.  Last night I was allowed to 'sit-in' with Hop's friends.  They let me hang around in the kitchen; listen; and join in on their conversations... yes I understand it's my kitchen, but some teenagers don't like being around adults & won't talk to them.  It was so fun because some of them came over before last night's game & the others came over after.

We talked about everything:  being a leader, girls, t-shirts, football, homecoming, salt water taffy, school, teachers, Jesus, picking on freshmen, accepting responsibility for your actions, and more topics that I can't even remember.  It was ordinary conversation, but it's those times I cherish the most.  For the guys who came over before the game we had salt water taffy and cookies they could snack on & after the game we  pulled out the cold pizza we had from dinner & all of it was inhaled.

I remember my mom doing the same thing.  I now know why she did it.  Not to live vicariously through me, but for me and my friends to reveal our hearts to her, and also to help her remember her time as a teenager.  (and to be glad to have the wisdom that comes with age!  Oh to go back to high school and college with the wisdom I have now...)

Ordinary moments aren't really ordinary when you think about it; they are actually quite extraordinary.  I cherish them in my heart, always.  Thanks guys for a wonderful night of revealing your hearts and making this momma laugh.  May the Lord walk with you all the days of your lives and bless your socks off.  

What ordinary moments have you had with your kids?  I would love to hear them!

Y'all be blessed beyond measure,

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Ta Da!!!

I'm standing in front of my freezer door just waiting for a full cooked meal to jump out at me & say "Ta Da...Bon appetite".  Yeah, that's gonna happen, in my dreams.  Wouldn't that be wonderful?  You can't fault a girl for dreaming.

I'm on the phone with my friend, Amy, and we're chatting, she's feeding her daughter some bread, we're talking about what to cook for dinner & of course I haven't even thought about it at all. 

So back to the freezer.  I see's always good & good for you.  I'll poach it, because you can put frozen chicken in a boiler (covered with water, that's for those people who need directions to boil water) & let it sit for hours if you need it to on low or med-low.  Ok, so poached chicken is not to tasty by itself....  I bought fire-roasted tomatoes from the grocery store the other day, check for ingredient #2.  My mind starts whirring & it's all coming together, and then I remember, YIKES, I have to go pick-up Elizabeth from dance.  Leave the chicken on the stove on low, Henry reading for school, Hop doing what ever he does to wind down after he gets home from school & football & I go get Elizabeth. 

The good thing is, by the time I get home, the chicken is about finished, so I can start on the main part of the dish.  3 of the 4 kiddos are hungry, the picky one has gone to BBQ the Bucs at the high school & is texting me literally every other minute.  Henry is done with his homework & wants to watch the School House Rock videos we have on iTunes...I love School House Rock.  I loved it as a kid & love it even more as an adult.  We're singing, I'm cooking, Elizabeth is doing her homework, and all is right with the world.  Both Hopsons, big & little, even came in & started singing.  I love it when peace reigns in the house.  It makes the nights so pleasant & me a very happy mommy.  You know what they say about momma being happy...

Dinner was gobbled up, and some went back for seconds!  I had a blast cooking dinner; singing with my children; all the homework is finished; football is on & I'm going to try to stop my mind. (it's been whirring since 4am)  I love those ordinary days.  May we be blessed with many of them.  :)

I don't have a name for this recipe.  It's a tweak of a recipe I  think I saw on Rachel Ray, I don't remember.  I'm going to call it Ta Da...Bon Appetite!

Y'all be blessed beyond measure,

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Rainy Days and Sunshine

It really feels like fall outside today, and I really like the feel of fall.  Cool days with no humidity; God revealing His joy through the leaves changing on the trees; the smell of football in the air; pulling out all my fall clothes that I haven't seen since last year; yes, fall is a beautiful season.

It's been a little drizzly; a little chilly; it's getting dark early; and my fam. has asked for soup for dinner!   It may be rainy outside but in my soup bowl tonight there will be sunshine.

While at lunch today we all discussed which soup they would like for me to make.  One thing I hoped would that it wouldn't be anything that would take hours to cook.  Harry, El Jefe, the picky one, named the soup ~ Santa Fe Chicken Stew & and it was a resounding YES from the other three!  (this is different from the Santa Fe soup that is in the Food for Thought cookbook by the Birmingham Jr. League.  Also a very wonderful soup.)

This soup is so easy I think Henry could make it by himself.  Even if you can't cook, I promise you can cook this.  Like so many of the recipes I have, it was given to me.  A friend of my sister-in-law, Sandy, printed a cookbook over 10 years ago, and Sandy made it while we were visiting on night & everyone raved about it.  I of course tweaked it a little & you know I don't measure anything so I'll be giving you guestimations on the recipe site. Know I've given you the minimum, but I never use the minimum.  ;)  For my crew I actually doubled the recipe.

This is a really pretty soup & is so yummy!  So the next time your family wants sunshine in a bowl, you should serve them this with a smile to match.

y'all be blessed beyond measure,

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Just Call me Nuts

Hey MOJ, I haven't posted in a while... 'tis the season.  I've been hauling children hither & yon since I last posted.  It's funny how I thought things would get easier when they all started big school.  Um, yeah, that's not true at all, I just don't have any down time with them any more.  Well, that's not totally true, I have a precious few hours each week. 

Of course, I'm going to use those hours to try & stuff some healthy food down their tummies, and have a little quality time before the MASSIVE amounts of studying must resume.  We're up to our ears in homework.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining, my children are getting a wonderful education, I just don't know if I could graduate from my alma mater now.  They are learning stuff I learned in college...yikes.

Just now Hop left to go to Saturday morning workouts for's 6:48 am on a Saturday.  It makes me sleepy.  Or sleepier anyway, especially during carpool...have you ever fallen asleep during carpool, I have, it's another story for another time, funny though.

I am always on the lookout for easy, healthy, and good things to cook.  I had a friend from church tell me the next time I go to Taziki's (it's a yummy Greek restaurant here) to get the Friday Special.  It's so popular it's served Friday-Sunday.  Well, I happened to be there on a Friday a few weeks ago & decide to take her advice & order it...I am sooo glad I did!  Can I tell you how wonderfully delicious it was?  Oh my, I could have eaten it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  I dreamed about it & could taste it in my dream.

Last Wednesday rolls around, which is a down day for the fam.  (I say that very loosely, it's the closest thing we have to a down day...I know  lot of you can relate.)  I know what I'm making for got it, the Friday special.  It's too good to have to wait until Friday to eat it.  While I was cooking the children kept coming in & asking what we were having, I told them it was happiness on a plate.  Of course they looked at me like I had lost my mind.  If I have, it's their fault.  :)

Can I tell you the Friday special looks pretty on a plate.  My mom always said presentation is important, and not only does this dish taste divine, it presents well.  My mom would be proud.  I received RAVE reviews from the FS.  I had it done in 30 minutes, it is a healthy meal, and all the children cleaned their plates (some went back for seconds), and they all asked me to cook it again.  We'll put the Friday Special in the W column, and I will do the Victory dance, which my children promptly tell me I look stupid doing & to please quit embarrassing them.  (that last part didn't happen, but it could have.)

I have made mental notes on how to make the Friday Special taste better, and it calls for planning ahead, but it will be worth it, but if I don't no biggie, it will still taste wonderful.  I am going to give you my tweaked version, but know it makes a lot.  Make sure you do your own victory dance when you're done too.  It's always fun to embarrass your children.  :)

Y'all be blessed beyond measure,

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