Happy Mother’s Day to all of the women in my life!

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Mom and I…2011
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Maw-Maw and I…2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I guess grief comes out differently for everyone.  It also seems to come out at different times for everyone as well.  It’s impacted a lot in my life lately, hence the absence (although I know you’re probably tired of hearing excuses, but I’m going to do better.  Promise.).  I did, however, want to share this with you…

I was asked this week to write a little something for my home church.  Well, I was asked to say something about Maw-Maw in relation to Mother’s Day.  The preacher thought it would be nice seeing as how she was a very loved woman in the congregation.  I knew that I surely couldn’t make it through reading anything as much as I wear my heart on my sleeve.  Nonetheless, I agreed, with the condition that I didn’t have to read what I wrote.  I thought all week about how to relate Maw-Maw to Mother’s Day when she was really my Grandmother.  It wasn’t Grandparent’s day.  It also seemed selfish to single her out on a day meant for mothers.  But, she was a mother, and still lives on as one in my own mother’s heart.

I began to relate it to how women were created by God to be a motherly presence and guide us all in the eyes of Christ.  I, myself, don’t have children, but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t acted as a Mother at some point in time to someone.  I love everyone, and that in itself requires that motherly instinct.  I started thinking about all of the mothers in the church.  All of the wonderful memories they made for me growing up, and all of the protection they provided me at the same time.

This, my loyal friends, is what I ended up with today.  Happy Mother’s Day to you all, whether you have children or not.  Love your Mother today, and if she’s sadly physically gone from us, then have a talk with her today and know she is waiting for you with milk and cookies in Heaven.

Love, Jennifer

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This Mother’s Day won’t be like they have normally been in the past.  Our family is missing a very important Mother.  Things honestly haven’t been the same.  I guess things aren’t supposed to be the same when a Mother passes away though.  See, Maw-Maw was an integral part of our everyday lives.  From the like clockwork phone calls at 9am, Noon, and 10pm every night between Mom and Maw-Maw, and then me at night.  To the motherly advice that was always available when needed.  We’re missing all of that, everyday.  I, myself, am extremely fortunate to have my own Mother living, but I know she hurts today at the loss of her own.  And I know that no amount of love and Happy Mother’s Day cards or flowers to the best Mom in the World will take away that pain.

When I relate Maw-Maw to Mother’s Day, I’m reminded that Maw-Maw was an example of what God put women on Earth to do.  We are meant to be Mothers – to guide and encourage others in the name of Christ.  Take for instance this beautiful church I grew up in.  Whether someone had 5 children, or they had no children, they were all acting mothers at one point in time.  It could have been as simple as just keeping an eye out when a little one was getting a little too close to the edge of the stage in the Fellowship Hall.  No one knew you were keeping that eye out, but you know you did…and so did God.

Just as I know Maw-Maw was to most of you, I had many mothers at Shallowford, and I still have a place in my heart for all of you.  I remember Choir…lots of mothers in our Choir helping me to hit the right notes in life and on the pew each Sunday.  Mothers in Sunday School, especially my own, who I know was a mother to a lot of you out in the congregation today on Sunday mornings.  There were Youth groups, fantastic Vacation Bible Schools, covered dish lunches after church, Girl Scouts held here, and lots of laughs.  Church fellowship time was always my favorite where we were able to walk around and greet others before the Sermon began.  Towards the end of my childhood, I found it incredibly difficult to leap over Maw-Maw and Paw-Paw and make it to hug the neck of every single person in Shallowford.  If I didn’t make it to you every Sunday, well, the piano music just wasn’t ever long enough.  It sure did make a nice backdrop though while going around hugging all of the Mothers in our church that I love.

At Mother’s Day, and always, I want to make sure you realize that mothers are all around you.  Women are made special.  We are a special gift from God.  So whether we have children ourselves or not, it doesn’t mean we can’t be mothers in God’s eyes.  It is, in the end, about loving others.  And here at Shallowford, I have never felt a lack of love.  To my mother, to all of the mothers in the audience, and to the mothers that are waiting in heaven for us with milk and cookies, I wish you all a very special Mother’s Day.

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My lovely Mom
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Her lovely Mom, Maw-Maw.

 

Cookbooks Galore…

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Since Beaux with Holy Poached Eggs was talking about cookbooks, it reminded me of how many I actually do have.  It seems to be a thing in the South.  We love to share recipes.  We also love to collect church cookbooks.  The best cookbooks always tend to be ones from the little ol’ church down in the valley.  A lot of our cookbooks have stories.  It could be one our Grandparents always used to cook out of.  It could be one that they have a lot of recipes in (which would be my case in one book).  It could be one we remember our Mom or Dad cooking out of growing up.  The cookbook where you knew if it was pulled out, that you were going to experience a completely edible meal (of course anything Mom cooked in our household was edible). 

This brings a thought to my over-thinking brain…I go to the internet a lot these days looking for recipes.  Why must we go to the internet when we have tried and true recipes right in our cookbooks on our shelves or in our cabinets?  It’s kind of sad.  Most of our good used cookbooks have our families fingerprints on them.  They took care (in most of them) to not spill ingredients on them.  And, if they did…you know that huge splatter on one page…you know it was probably a troublesome recipe and you might not want to try it.  We all have cookbooks that were passed down from the last generation or maybe even generations past.  If they were good enough for our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents, why aren’t they good enough for us? 

Why do we have to go electronic all the time?  I want to feel the paper as I turn it between my fingerprints.  I want to find that random crumb stuck between the Pound Cake and Bishop Bread recipes.  I want to find that splatter that has a story to it.  I want to put my fingerprints all over the book and leave my own mark with my own splatter for goodness sakes. 

The internet is great to find recipes you may not have, but nothing can replace a good ol’ hand-me-down, a cookbook bought for a fundraiser, or that good Southern cookbook from the church down in the valley…

Here is a list of a few that I have…

  • Cooking with Pat (the copy of my Maw-Maw’s cookbook)
  • the Tillamook Cheese cookbook
  • Cooking with Grace – Shiloh United Methodist Church
  • Recipes from Home – Belleville East Dance Team – 2010-2011
  • Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade desserts
  • Quick and Healthy Recipes and Ideas (love this one!)
  • Sauces: Classic and Contemporary Sauces
  • The one that came with Nyxie – Kitchenaid
  • Build a Better Burger
  • Eat to the Beat! – The Needham B. Broughton High School Band
  • 2011 Taste of Home Annual Recipes
  • Cook’s Country – 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008  (These are the annual publications with all of the magazines combined into one outstanding cookbook!)

Of course, there are many more to inherit I am sure, and more I didn’t mention!  I can’t even begin to name all of the Weight Watchers ones I use…sometimes….. 

Take a second and thumb through an old cookbook of yours…do you feel your heritage?

Why I do this…

You reach a point in your life when you think to yourself…”Self, there has to be more to life than this.”  One thing is certain, there is a beginning and end.  But, it’s what you do in between those two points that really makes life worth living.  I truly want to make an impact in the world.  Although, I will be thrilled with just my local yokels…I believe I am reaching further than that.  My plan to rule the world is working….muwahahahahahahahaha (evil laugh if you needed explanation).  Just kidding, nothing evil about this.  This is pure inspiration for others and mainly myself.  It was time for me to find a passion, a purpose, an appreciation. 

I believe that each and every one of us should strive to make an impact in one individuals life a day.  There’s no reason we can’t.  It can be as simple as a kind word, a kind gesture (I said kind), or a simple “I thought about you today” gift.  What’s stopping you?  Absolutely, positively nothing at all.

First, a little history on my blogging experience…there is none!  I never liked to read people’s blogs, never had a desire to, and never even thought about it.  But, one day, I read a friend of mine’s blog, and I was inspired.  She writes about things that happen to her in her own life, inspirational thoughts, and has great hostess and party ideas…not to mention, some great recipes ideas as well!  You can find her here… www.peppermintpretty.typepad.com

Secondly, I had my blog up for a month and decided to nose around at some other blogs.  Yes, this sounds bad when I say “nose”, but I truly was wanting to find out what others were writing about.  Fortunately for me, I ran across another Southern Food Blogger very randomly.  He writes the most descriptive stories filled with tons of wit.  He writes about Southern experiences and inspiration, has some great recipe ideas, and never ceases to make your mouth water when he’s talking about some of the food (especially the sweets he recently blogged about).  He has been extremely helpful in my journey, and you must check him out!  Find him here… www.holypoachedegg.wordpress.com 

Lastly, just for now…because I am sure reasons will continue to be added with the one constant of inspiring others…there is that one constant…I received notice that a friend had posted on my wall through Facebook recently.  I pulled it up, and this is what I found… “I have been reading your posts about the website and today I decided to go and look around. I think it is wonderful!!! What you are doing makes me almost want to cry. My great-grandmother was a wonderful cook and i have many memories with her in the kitchen, my love for cooking comes from that. Reading you talk about Maw Maw’s soup makes me Thank God for time that my Mama Gladys was a part of my life.”  This is what it is all about folks.  Bringing people to life through their own personal memories and…FOOD!

As cliché as it might sound…food really does bring people together.  It has a strange power over us.  Smells, tastes, textures of food all have the power to jog our memories and inspire us.  This, and all the above, are why I do this…

So, go out there today!!!  Inspire someone…or at least make the first step towards it!!!  Or how about this???  Change your own life…make yourself happy…inspire yourself…you’re worth it!

Now…a few photos that I have taken, that have inspired me in different ways…

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Brings a smile to my face…

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If you know me, you know there is a polite southern charm smile on my face at most times.  (You may also know that my red tends to come out…redhead, not redneck…but, that’s not what I am writing about.)  I received the alert about a new post being added to the Post A Day Challenge blog.  The recommendation was writing about something that makes you smile.  I could think of nothing better than my “special cookbook”.

It’s not just any cookbook mind you.  This is a copy of my Maw-Maw’s cookbook (Grandma for those non-southerners).  As you will see below, it contains copies of each page of her personal cookbook.  They have been put in a binder with sheet protectors (for us messy cooks), and given with love.  Some pages are pure handwriting, while others may be a magazine clipping from years past.  Some recipes come from friends, some from Granny (great-grandmother if you needed help with that one folks), distant family members, members no longer a part of our family, friends, friends of friends, and friends of friends of friends.  Betty Crocker and Mr. Toll House even sent us recipes personally for us to include in it….well, not really, but can you imagine???

The recipe below is my Maw-Maw’s homemade (that means from scratch, not store-bought and pre-packaged) Chocolate Chip Cookies.  Growing up, I couldn’t wait to get my grubby little kid paws on the cookie container.  I don’t really remember a cookie jar…OH WAIT!…there was a cookie jar!!!  It was huge from my perspective of barely being able to see over the counter-top.  It had a metal lid on it.  Oh yeah, it’s all coming back to me now.  I remember countless times spending the night at her house, or visiting her, and trying to sneak a cookie out of the jar.  I would creep out of the living room, and through the foyer, acting as if I were going to the restroom.  Then I would sneak through the dining room very light on my feet…(I guess I had a lot of practice with that, because I am pretty light on my feet to this day).  I would make it into the kitchen and to the counter where the mecca of all cookie jars sat.  I would begin to unscrew the lid…very slowly.  You know that noise when opening a Ball jar (you better know what I mean when I say a Ball jar…canning jar, jam jar, etc.)?  That eerie metal on glass scraping?  Well, that’s what I had to contend with.  I would grab 1, 2, or maybe even 5 cookies (she made them smaller than I make them nowadays, I promise).  Before I could make it back into the living room with them, I would have already eaten half of them…shoving them down my throat as fast as I could so no one would know I ate that many cookies (wow, I wonder if that’s why I am…oh, nevermind).  I’d get back into the living room, sit down with my 1 or 2 cookies, and smile like a little angel.

So, in more ways than one, this cookbook has brought me smiles.  Whether I am remembering a recipe and want to make it, I was sneaking cookies out of a jar, or just taking a stroll down memory lane…this cookbook has made me smile.

With no further delay…the amazingly, delicious, wonderful, perfect cookie recipe…(Sidenote: Maw-Maw says she got this off of the back of the Toll House Morsel bag ages ago.  She was afraid they would stop printing the standard recipe on the back of the bag or change the ingredients.  By the way, they have changed the cornstarch boxes…so, the cornstarch people’s Lemon Pie recipe is no longer on there.  Take a note from Maw-Maw, when you find something you like, save the recipe and cook it like it’s your own!  She’s so smart!!!)

Wow!  Did you know Nestle has a WordPress site???  Go to it here… http://nestleusa.wordpress.com/

***Tips: I always line my cookie sheets with Parchment Paper (it’s my best friend in the kitchen).  Also, Maw-Maw’s recipe had only one thing different…hers added a 1/2 teaspoon of water.  I asked her how long she has had the recipe, and she feels she has had it written down for over 20 years, straight off the Toll House Morsels bag.  So, maybe Toll House decided they didn’t need that 1/2 teaspoon of water after all.  She also has listed to add a 1/3 cup of cocoa to make these into chocolate cookies if you wanted to live on the edge of the chocolate cliff.

I made the below with semi-sweet morsels, milk chocolate morsels, and white chocolate morsels all combined.  They came out quite lovely…and, oh yeah, homemade cookies aren’t meant to come out perfectly round like the pre-packaged pre-made squares you get in the refrigerated section.  I personally enjoy the odd shapes…more fun to break apart when coming out of the oven.  If one breaks, you eat it…because, you surely can’t give it to someone…it’s broken.  The joys of homemade!

Maw-Maw’s/Toll House’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened (I use margarine if I don’t have butter and get just as yummy of a result)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
1 cup chopped nuts

Directions

PREHEAT oven to 375° F.

COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

BAKE for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

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The Second Baby…

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Well folks, today is Mom’s birthday…and what a wonderful Mom she has been!  I”ve heard tale of back in the day (not saying how long ago) that the first baby of the new year received lots of goodies from the hospital.  Gifts for being their first baby in that hospital for the new year.  Symbolic of some sorts I am guessing.  But, you guessed it…Mom wasn’t the first baby, she was the second baby.  I’m sure once the baby is out, the parents don’t even think about the gifts they missed out on.  They don’t think about what if they had pushed harder…what if they had driven faster to get there (why is there not a video game centered around this event yet?  Talk about pressure!)…what if the baby had worked a little harder.  At least I hope not.  I know this isn’t the case with my Mom.  She was loved.  You know how I know that?  Because, I am loved immensely. 

Throughout my whole entire life (yeah, I know, not even 30 years of it yet), my Mom has been there for me.  Around this time of year, Vick’s Vapor Rub comes to mind.  I used to love the tender touch of Mom when I was sick rubbing the vapor rub on my upper chest to soothe my poor widdle head cold.  Or, sometimes on a fun summer day out of school, we would have mashed potatoes with chopped up ham and sliced cheese mixed in when warm.  You couldn’t do shredded cheese out of the bag, it just wasn’t the same.  The sliced melted perfectly, and Mom knew that.  Well, there was one exception to this treat…if I were sick to my tummy, I wasn’t allowed the ham…I could only have the cheese mixed in.  I remember countless times asking to have our “special” mashed potatoes.  Hmmmm…this sounds like a good lunch today!  There was always sight-seeing in different states.  We have been to around 30 or more states.  Maybe not around the whole of each state, but at least one place in each of those states.  We were and still are best buds.  My Mom was always the Mom that my friends would want to come see…the loving cool Mom. 

She allowed me to make the mistakes I needed to in order to grow, and she was always there to pick my broken heart up off the floor and apply some mommy glue.  Many times she told me I could do better.  Many times she told me you can’t quit a job til you have one.  Many times she told me to follow my dreams.  Many times she told me to always trust in God.  Many times…many many times…she has told me she loves me.  For a time, it was just me and Mom.  And, you know what?  We made it…we would go out to Arby’s and split a meal to save some money, we would have our own little celebrations at home, and we survived, as many single parents and children do.  Luckily, though, she did find a wonderful Step-Dad to join our family.  A very good man.

One time when we were by ourselves, Mom had mentioned candidly that she never had a “real” birthday because her birthday and Christmas were so close together.  Maybe, if she had been the first baby out a long time ago, she wouldn’t feel this way???  I’m just saying….and just kidding, ha.  So, since I was working at a grocery store at the time, I had access to a helium tank.  On top of that, we had a cathedral ceiling in our den.  My brilliant self, to celebrate her 40th birthday in the middle of the year, blew up 40 black balloons, stuffed them in trash bags to get them home, and then released them into the ceiling.  I think I may have put some extra magic in them because they seemed to be up there for days!  We have always referred to this day as her “Love Birthday”. 

There are countless memories of my Mom I could share…EasyBake Oven times, dress up times, doll factory visit times, meeting Michael Jackson at the U.S. Mint, cooking (of course), my wedding preparation, etc.  But, unfortunately, there isn’t enough storage space on WordPress…

In closing, treasure your Mom’s or ones that resemble a motherly presence in your life.  I know plenty of friends that don’t have their Mom’s around anymore, and would give anything to be held in their arms again.  It’s true, your Mom brought you into this world, and she can take you out of it…(no, Mom never told me this…I was never that bad (Shhhhh, Mom, don’t say anything about that comment.))  I was blessed, and I hope you have been as well.  Moms know what they are talking about, I promise.  One day, I can only hope to be a fraction of the wonderful Mom mine has been to me. 

I LOVE YOU, MOM!  HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!

Below you will see the recipe for the Zesty Lemon Pie I made for Mom’s birthday.  We normally have a Bishop Bread (recipe eventually), but Mom decided to mix it up this year.

Zesty Lemon Pie (so simple)

  • 6 egg yolks
  • 2 (14-oz.) cans sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup fresh lemon juice
  • pre-made graham cracker crust

1. Whisk together egg yolks, sweetened condensed milk, and lemon juice. Pour into graham cracker crust.
2. Bake at 350° for 15 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack (about 1 hour). Cover and chill 4 hours.

There were many more instructions…making own whipped cream…making own graham cracker crust…but goodness, it’s nice to take short cuts.  So, crust = premade graham cracker crust, and the topping = Redi-Whip.

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“You can be an adult and still kiss your Grandma.”

Whoever said cartoons can’t teach you a life lesson?  I sure didn’t.  To this day, I completely enjoy watching cartoons.  Some though, I haven’t quite caught on to.  Sometimes nothing beats flipping to an old channel and catching some Tom and Jerry, Foghorn Leghorn, or if you’re lucky…Mighty Mouse.  A lot can be said also for Netflix.  We have been able to see a lot of our old favorites through Netflix…He-man, She-ra, Voltron, G.I. Joe, Care Bears, etc.  Kudos go out to Netflix for offering these streaming over the Wii.  We can just turn it on and find something to lighten our day immediately.  But…I will be the first to admit that nothing compares to SpongeBob for me.  Go ahead you naysayers, give me your best.  You won’t be able to deter me from SpongeBob. 

Case and point:  I flipped to Nickelodeon this morning and was happily offered one of my favorite episodes of SpongeBob ever…”Grandma’s Kisses”.  For the unfamiliar, the episode goes like this.  SpongeBob visits his Grandma.  He enjoys the normal Grandma treats, and Grandma drops him off at the Krusty Krab for his work shift.  You know how it goes, you must have that last kiss from Grandma before parting…so, she plants a big pink lipsticky kiss on his forehead.  You know that shade…the shade only a Grandma can get away with (fortunately, my Maw-Maw has a great lipstick color by the way).  Well, SpongeBob walks into the restaurant only to be greeted with laugh and ridicule about his Grandma kissprint on his forehead.  After being humiliated, SpongeBob storms out.  Patrick, his always misguided trusty sidekick, explains to him that you have to be adult now.  No more Grandma kisses for him.  SpongeBob then returns to Grandma’s house.  He acts like an adult and misses out on all of the wonderful Grandma treats.  Patrick caves and begins acting like a child going nuts with the Grandma treats.  Long story short…SpongeBob gets jealous, breaks down, and Grandma explains to him that he can still have all of the Grandma love he wants and still be an adult. 

How many times do you feel like you can’t give in to that Grandma or Grandpa love because you don’t want to be embarrassed of the emotions you would show?  Do you know how many of us are out there that truly wish we could indulge in that love?  There are many of us out there that are down to three, two, one, or no Grandparents at all.  Walking into the Grandparent’s home was always a safe haven.  If you were having bad day, they would make it better.  You knew you could eat anything at their house.  You could do anything.  You could tell them anything without repercussions.  Nothing would get back to Mom and Dad…you were safe and secure in their arms.  I will be the first to tell you that me and my cousins pushed the limits at our Maw-Maw and Paw-Paw’s house.  But, they almost always (unless we truly deserved the punishment…which we did sometimes) met our misbehaving with love and understanding.  They had been there.  They remembered how nice it was to escape as a kid to the Grandparent’s.  I remember learning to play the piano at their house.  Happy Days are Here Again was one Maw-Maw always used to play with me.  It was played out of this old green and paisley songbook, which I still have.  We would pluck or bang on the piano for hours, depending on which cousin was sitting on the piano bench.  We could go out in the den where the old television was and watch cartoons in our little “hideaway”.  We could cook whatever we wanted at their house.  We could have a HUGE bowl of ice-cream with all of the toppings…Hersheys Fudge Topping never tasted so good!  Or, we could have a plate of nachos with all of the topping…cover it with cheese and pop it in the microwave to heat everything up.  We could make a Lemon Meringue Pie after riding the bus to their house after school (my cousin Justin used to love doing this – if he were still around, I bet he would be winning awards with his Lemon Meringue and his lust for life).  When Maw-Maw would make up a fresh batch of her homemade Chocolate Chip Cookies for us (best in the world I must say), we could always lick the mixing spoon and bowl.  What I wouldn’t give to walk by that old blue chair at Maw-Maw’s and be swiftly grabbed and be thrown into the lap of my Paw-Paw for a quick hug and kiss. 

Well, now that I am writing this in love and admiration (and in tears now of remembrance), remember that your Grandparents are who helped mold who you are today, and who your parents are.  I pray that your memories of your Grandparents are as beautiful as mine were.  Yes, I got in trouble too.  Yes, I was spanked by them.  Yes, I remember being yelled at a couple of times (ok, so more than a couple – I blame it on the redhead in me).  But, it was all in love and in hope to mold me into the beautiful young woman I have become. 

In closing, enjoy the time you have with them now.  Sadly, they won’t be around forever (as some of us can attest to that).  Don’t be afraid of the emotions that seeing them may evoke.  They are your history, and you are creating your future based off of things you have learned from them…

Couldn’t have said it better myself…”You can be an adult and still kiss your Grandma.” ~SpongeBob’s Grandma

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The only thing I would have changed…

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It is with great pains that I write this entry…I AM SO STUFFED!  I feel like what I assume a Thanksgiving Turkey feels like when someone has violently shoved random items inside of it.  Absolutely stuffed!  Ever since I have been working out and watching what I eat again, I have felt vibrant, peppy, and almost giddy.  Not tonight.  Now, tonight, right this very moment, I am sitting in bed with my computer in my lap, and praying that my tum stops hurting.  But, you know what I got out of today?  Do you?  I got more memories for my arsenal.  I spent time with family I haven’t seen in a while, I ate food I truly love, and I received some awesome gifts from my loved ones.  I can honestly say I have been blessed with wonderful family, and wouldn’t trade a single one of them (including the in-laws)! 

Family is important.  But, seriously, when my Mom asks her brother if he wants his Pecan Pie warmed, but doesn’t even bother to ask me (her own daughter) if I want mine warmed…Houston we have a problem.  Yeah, I get it that he flew in from Oregon, but sheesh.  That’s only from across the country.  I’m here!  I’m here waving my hand…I want my Pecan Pie warmed.  Just kidding…kinda…hehe.  I can’t be too upset with the special treatment though.  Goodness, I want to give him special treatment too, just for sending me cheese.  Yes, he’s my Tillamook Unc!  I loaf him and so thrilled he joined us for this Christmas! 

Everyone has specific foods they love around the holidays.  I can pick at least one out of each meal today.  Breakfast lended me sausage gravy, hot sausage, and this sweet, flaky, gooey, buttery, doughy goodness out of a bundt pan.  The Maw-Maw rolls are not to be outdone, nor are her biscuits.  But, this sweet, flaky, gooey, buttery, doughy goodness (Is your mouth watering yet?) I am talking about kills them all dead in their tracks.  That recipe will be on here shortly.  Lunch presented Deviled Eggs…or as his momma refers to them as, Angel Eggs.  This is one of my favorite finger foods.  Love them!  I also enjoyed Ham here at this meal that was so moist and flavorful.  The recipe that will end up on here out of all of this meals items will be the Million Dollar Pies.  I will be the first one to tell you I only like coconut in certain dishes, but these pies take the use of coconut to a whole new level of deliciousness for me.  Dinner yielded an amazingly moist pork tenderloin, moist-never-dry turkey, little green peas, Pecan Pie, Brownstone Front Cake, and my favorite dressing ever…Sausage, Apple and Cranberry (sans Apple this time).  Look for this recipe shortly.  It’s packed with a flavor punch like none other that pleases the most difficult palate. 

Being that Christmas isn’t always about gifts, I will touch this very shortly and sum it up in one statement…I never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever (get the point?) ever ever ever thought, in my wildest dreams, that I would be so completely excited about receiving cookbooks, kitchen utensils, and kitchen gadgets as Christmas gifts.  Someone needs to check my brain I believe…

So, with that being said, as miserable as I may feel, it was all worth it.  After four stops, five meals, a thirty minute nap, lots of snow, wearing the wrong shoes for snow, wet feet, and feeling lethargic in the bed right now, I still have time to look back on the day and smile.  I wouldn’t trade a bit of it for anything. 

The only thing I would have changed…I wouldn’t have eaten so much dang good southern food.  May God bless our wonderful Southern Cooks!  (Just to prove the point of the wonderful food…see below.)

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It’s not all about the food…

Growing up Mom, Dad and I would always get a fresh Christmas Tree…yes, we would kill a tree annually.  But, I like to look at it as giving the chosen tree a second life.  A future to always be remembered as the tree that brightened up Christmas when gazed upon.  The tree that was decorated with love.  A family’s Christmas Tree.  What better honor?  My husband and I hadn’t had a fresh tree before, and we felt that maybe this year was the year to start a new tradition.  We were in a new town, new house, and it didn’t hurt that we didn’t have a working artificial tree either (The lights had burned out on our artificial tree a couple of years back, and we were borrowing Mom’s tree each Christmas since). 

We began our search, and we came across a “Choose and Cut” Christmas Tree farm.  This was a new experience for us and I was awful excited about getting a fresh tree.  On their website, it read “you” can cut your own tree.  Heavens, I didn’t want to cut my own tree.  I wanted them to do it.  So, I called them and was advised they would cut it for me with no worries at all.  Let’s just say that was a relief to me.  No telling how many fingers I or my husband would have cut off, and I need my fingers for cooking!  We got there and asked a few questions as to what we were supposed to do.  The extremely kind lady explained everything to us, all the way down to the free hot dogs she was getting ready to fix.  After we received our orders, we began walking about the different lots of trees.  There were four different lots of trees.  All different kinds were there.  Cedars, Pines, and Fraser Firs that were cut and brought down from the mountains since they don’t grow in our area.  We found one, then another, then another, then our heads were hurting.  We were seemingly spinning around in circles trying to find the one before, the one before, the one we were currently looking at to compare.  This ended up being a daunting task nonetheless.  I must say it was a good daunting though.  Looking back, we were probably a funny sight to the couple that owned the farm. 

We finally settled on four, yes four.  We headed back to the barn to ask more questions about the types of trees that we had chosen.  How much water do they take?  When is the best time to get that certain type of tree?  How long will it last?  After answering all of our naive questions, the lady said it might be easier to make a decision on a full stomach and to head in the barn for hot dogs.  I mean seriously…I am not going to pass up a good hot dog, much less a good free hot dog.  We headed in and there were wreaths, bows, and holly branches for sale everywhere.  On the three tables set up to the right, there was hot chocolate, apple cider, a variety of cookies, hot dogs, buns, and all of the hot dog fixings you could think of.  Not only was this farm in the back of this couple’s home, they were pretty much opening their arms to us and feeding us when they didn’t have to.  These were true country folk, and we were proud to be buying local from them.  Shortly after finishing our hot dogs, we decided upon a Scotch Pine.  A dense, true green, perfectly shaped Christmas Tree, and it was all ours!

Needless to say, this whole experience turned out to be an amazing time for me and the hub.  We thoroughly enjoyed the walking around, touching and smelling the different varieties of trees that were there, and of course the warm food we were fed so graciously.  It’s not all about the food at the holiday season.  Yes, food comes in to play a lot (case and point above).  But, it’s about the family.  It’s about the memories made.  It’s about the new traditions started, and it’s about sharing it with the ones you deeply love and care about. 

In closing, try not to get all tied up in food preparation this season.  Learn to enjoy the ones around you.  Take time to sit while something is baking, and enjoy a nice glass of wine with your guests.  Not only that, but cherish the memories you are making.  This is your history.  You want to be able to look back on it and smile from ear to ear while telling the stories of the first Christmas you…….(your turn to make history).

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