Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Thought I Have To Share

Twenty-eight years ago today God''s love light shined on me and I found out I was pregnant with my one and only child, my precious daughter Brooke.  I don't think I've ever experienced a happier time, except of course, the day she was born.  I have shared this story with many women who have struggled to have children and I know that God has blessed me with this story to tell, and so I pass it on to you.

I had been trying to conceive for about a year.  Every night I  literally went to sleep begging God for a child.  That's all I needed and my life would be complete.  That's what I believed.  I went to the doctor only to find out I needed a little "push" as he described it and was prescribed a fertility drug.  I didn't get it filled right away because certain things needed to happen before I could take never happened.  I kept praying my same prayer until one day I was raking the yard and I suddenly realized, maybe God didn't want me to be a mother.  What if that was the case?  I knew in my heart I had a deep longing to be a mother.  I raised every orphaned animal anyone would give me, rabbits, squirrels, birds...yes, I even had one squirrel for 3 years and he thought I was his mama.  I decided that maybe I needed to change my prayer.  If me being a mother wasn't in God's plan, I needed to have a talk with Him about that.  And so I did...I literally went to my knees, something I still do quite often, and had a long talk.  I told Him I realized that what I was asking for might not be something He wanted to give me and if that was the case, I could accept it.  But....the word that begins all sentences we dread hearing....I needed Him to take care of a few things first.  He knew my heart, He knew the love I had in my heart because He placed it there, He knew all the feelings I was having, He knew my future, He knew what was best for me.  If God didn't want me to be a mother I needed him to take away all those feelings I had...the need to care for and raise a child, the need to pass on traditions that were so dear to me, the need to cradle and nurture that precious little bundle that I felt I so desperatly needed.  And, he needed to replace it with something else.  We talked for a long time and when I finished, I felt refreshed.  I still prayed, but my prayer had changed to not what I wanted, but what God wanted for me.  Still nothing happened so I could take my "push" as the doctor referred to it.  I got frustrated so I called the doctor's office and told them I couldn't proceed with this "push" and the nurse said, "Well, maybe you are pregnant!"  "Oh no, I'm not....I took an EPT this weekend and it was negative."  "Well, maybe you should come in and have a blood test."  "Well, okay, but I know I'm not but, whatever..."  Then, it started to snow....pouring snow and I was at work.  Now how am I going to get by the doctor's office to get my permission slip to go by the hospital tomorrow to have my blood test?  The snow kept pouring, but lucky for me, it wasn't sticking to the roads.  I left work early and dashed to his office.  Now, I had to wait until morning.  I prayed my usual prayer not really thinking one way or the other.  The next morning the sun was shining was beautiful on the snow and the roads were still clear.  Before I left to go by the hospital for my blood test I sat down with my Bible in hand and asked God to show me what I needed to read to calm my nerves.  I closed my eyes and opened my Bible and took my finger and pointed to a scripture (I do this quite often).  I began reading, I read several verses and thought to myself, "This has nothing to do with a pregnant woman, having a baby, or anything that pertains to me."  But, I kept reading.  It was the story of Jesus healing the blind man.  The last verse I read was, and I can't quote it and don't even know the passage, but Jesus looked at the blind man  and said, through your faith I give you your sight.  I have never in my life felt the peace of God come over me as it did at that very moment.  I felt like I was in the presence of angels.  I knew without a shadow of a doubt everything was okay.  I closed my Bible and left for the hospital.  At 4:30 that afternoon I called to get the results and found out that yes, God had blessed me with a tiny little life that was inside answered gift from vision of faith.  And on the day she was born she was placed in my arms and I said, "Thank you Lord, I give her back to You.  "Children are  gems from Heaven, to be polished by us, and presented back to the Lord".  I never got that fertility drug prescription filled.  It is neatly folded in my Bible.  And now, 28 years later and everyday since then I say thank you God, you have blessed me beyond measure.  I have never asked for that blessing again because I am so humbled by the fact that He answered my prayer and gave me a beautiful, healthy daughter who is everything a mother could ever ask or hope for.  On that day, 28 years ago....the heavens opened and God's love light shined on me.  Thank you God.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

My Beautiful Giveaway Arrived!

What a wonderful surprise I had waiting on me yesterday when I got home from school!!!  I won a giveaway sponsored by Between Naps on the Porch last week and it arrived yesterday!  I was so excited when I checked my front porch for another package I was expecting and saw this beautifully wrapped box!!  I knew right away it wasn't the vitamins I had ordered for my little pooch!  Now how many people get packages in the mail wrapped like this?

Susan at Between Naps on the Porch notified me that I had won her Tassel Giveway sponsored by Angela at The Tassel House.  Angela emailed me right away and said that I could pick the tassel I liked best so I went with the navy and gold for a couple reasons.  First, I thought it was beautiful, second, I have navy and gold in my great room, and had a little bird on top and I have a bird collection.  Actually I love anything with birds on it!  I think it is beautiful and it matches my decor perfectly.  You can kind of see from these pictures that it's the same color as my striped wingback chair!

Isn't the little bird just precious!  I hung him from a swing arm floor lamp and he looks like he has found the perfect home!  Angela was so nice to work with and was willing do make one in any color I needed.  If you've never been to The Tassel House you need to truck right on over there and look around.  She has some beautiful things!  And tell her Becky said, "Hi!"  Thank you Susan and Angela!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Red Velvet Heaven and Other Weekend Recipes

I love Red Velvet anything!  Red Velvet cake, cupcakes, cookies, woopi pies, ice cream, yogurt and NOW...Red Velvet Brownies! Yes, you heard it velvet brownies.  My dear friend Sara loves to try new recipes and knowing how much I love anything Red Velvet, called me last Thursday night to tell me to eat a light breakfast the next morning because she was bringing me a treat.  She was busy baking some brownies as a thank you for another friend but knowing how I love Red Velvet, she shared with me.....which is exactly why my "thanks for the brownie" email back to her had "Shame on you!" as the subject line!  It was to die for.  It can only be described as Red Velvet Heaven!  Of course I had to have the recipe and I couldn't wait to bake a batch first thing Saturday morning.  These brownies are to die for, honestly.  I love Red Velvet cake but I'm thinking this is even better!  I love the consistency of a dense chewy brownie and when it tastes like Red's pure heaven!  I think she got this recipe from another blog, but who's in my recipe book now!  Oh, and did I mention the icing is white chocolate buttercream...your mouth is watering, isn't it?  I do have a small confession to make...I ate 3 brownies in one day!  I couldn't help myself...but, my justification is 1) I only ate 1/2 brownie at a time (that means 6 trips to the kitchen...not good) and....2) I cut them all from the skinny row!  You know what happens when you cut the brownies in the pan and your last row ends up either fatter or skinnier than the rest...well, I ate the skinny row!  This morning I packed up all that was left so the Lunch Bunch Girls could have a taste...even though Sara is in the group, I wanted her to compare her version with mine...because you see, I have a pet peeve about Red Velvet.  To be a true southern Red Velvet anything, it has to have cocoa, almond flavoring, and red food coloring in the batter.  Her recipe only had vanilla so I substituted 1 tsp of the vanilla with 1 tsp. of almond extract.  The next thing is this...a true southern Red Velevet Cake does not have cream cheese icing.  It has a whipped vanilla butter cream icing.  This recipe was perfect because the icing is a white chocolate buttercream...I know...your mouth is watering again, isn't it?  Well, I just can't finish this post without sharing the recipe so here it is, in all it's glory.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do...then you'll know why I told Sara...."Shame on you!"  Now, my goal this week...get out the old running shoes and get back on track of my daily 2.5 mile run...I'm gonna need it!

Red Velvet Brownies

1/2 cup butter, at room termperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract - I used 1 tsp. vanilla and 1 tsp. almond
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 tablespoons red food coloring
2/3 cups chocolate chips (optional) - I left these out

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Butter and flour an 8 x 8 cake pan

In a small bowl, combine cocoa powder, red food coloring, and 1 tsp. vanilla to create a paste.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time, then add remaining teaspoon of flavoring (either vanilla or almond).  With the mixer on medium speed, add in the cocoa powder mixture.  Beat until batter is completely red. (If at this time your batter is NOT red, you can add a little more food coloring if desired.  color will depend on brand)
Add flour and salt, mixing until just combined.  Fold in chocolate chips if you are using them.
Spread in the 8 x 8 pan.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Let cool completely before frosting.

White Chocolate Frosting

1 stick of butter, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 ounces white chocolate, melted
1/2 tablespoons milk (or more if needed)

Cream butter in an electric mixer until fluffy, then add vanilla.  Slowly add in powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time with the mixer on low speed.  Add in melted white chocolate and beat until incorporated.  To reach desired consistency, add in milk 1 tsp at a time with mixer on low speed.  if frosting becomes too liquidy, simply add additional sugar. 

Now wouldn't these make great little brownie bites in mini muffin cups...and use a big star tip to squirt each one with a dolop of icing!  :)

Last week I decided I wanted to do something special for the girls on my hall.  They are all such wonderful, hard working teachers and needed a little boost.  There are 5 classrooms in all and we barely get a minute to say, "Hi!", muchless carry on a conversation.  So, I invited them all to my room this morning for a little quick breakfast and a time to chat.  Nothing fancy and it was definitely only for a few minutes.  Of course, you might know this was the morning I didn't hear my second alarm so I came flying in trying to get everything set up and the coffee on before they arrived.  I made a really good Grits Casserole that is a favorite at my house.  Come to think of it...anything with grits is a hit at my house!  This is an easy, quick recipe that I have used for Christmas morning breakfast, brunches, week night suppers,  and it makes a great early morning tailgate  dish.  I served this with mini blueberry muffins, mixed fresh fruit and OJ or coffee.  I think we all got a really good start for our 4 day week!!

Grits Casserole

1 cup quick cook grits
4 cups water
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
1 lb. Jimmy Dean HOT bulk sausage
1 can cream of chicken soup
2 cups grated cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Cook 1 cup quick cook grits in 4 cups water.  Season with salt to taste.

In a large skillet, brown sausage and about half way through the browning process add your chopped veggies.  Cook until veggies are tender (you may want to add a lid to help cooking process) and transfer this mixture to a 9 x 13 baking dish.  Spread evenly over the bottom.  Next, poor grits over the sausage with evenly spread chicken soup and finally top with grated cheddar cheese.  Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

If you like Shrimp and Grits try this!!
My favorite option on this recipe is to add shrimp to the sausage mixture.  While the sausage is browning add 3/4 lb. peeled and deveined medium shrimp.  Shrimp will turn pink and gently curl when they are done...don't over cook though...there's nothin' worse that and over cooked shrimp!  Continue with the rest of the recipe directions.

I'm sorry I didn't get a picture of this dish...I was just in such a hurry to get everything set up and then we had to eat before the chillin' got here, but I'll take one next time I serve up this dish!  Hope ya'll enjoy and have a wonderful week!


Thursday, March 10, 2011

I love to read! Introducing Ladybug Farm!

I love to read but I don't always find the time to do it as much as I would really like.  I try to read every night before bed, but so often after reading my devotional I just can't keep my eyes open long enough to get through even one chapter.  I have just finished reading all three books in the Ladybug Farm series by Donna Ball.  I loved them all!  They are the kind of books that make you go to bed an hour early just so you'll be able to stay awake long enough to get several chapters read!  I seem to be drawn to books about a circle of friends...girlfriends to be exact...and that is where the first book begins, with a group of friends who have always wanted to find a huge old mansion to restore together....and so they do...half way across the country in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.  They sell everything they own and set out on their adventurous journey... and that is only half of it.  You will laugh, you will cry, you will feel like you are right there with them.  Everytime I picked up my book to read I felt like I was visiting Ladybug Farm.  There are 3 books in the series and a companion cookbook with all the recipes that are mentioned in the three books.  I haven't seen the cookbook yet but I'm sure it's a winner!  Of course I passed the books on to mama as I would finish each one and as she was finishing book 2 she called me and asked how much more did I have until I was finished with book 3!  Haha!  I was only on page 50 but in the course of the next 4 days I finished the book and took it to her last night!  I highly recommend reading and visiting Ladybug can even check out the blog that is created by one of the girls in book three, Ladybug Farm Charm.  The author is Donna Ball and I've just found out she has a new book that I'm sure I'll have to put on my Books I Want To Read shelf.  Happy reading ya' don't fall asleep before that book is finished!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Preppy Gift Pots

We have a wonderful PTO here at my school and tonight they are sponsoring a BINGO Night and Raffle.  They do so much for us so I volunteered to make up one of my "Preppy Pots" and fill it with lots of goodies for the raffle.  This is what I included:

Journal with cute little teacups on the front
Palmetto Hand Towel
Thank You Notes
4 1/4" x 5 1/2" notepad with a cute Bermuda bag
5 1/2" x 8 1/2" ribbon notepad
Gift enclosure cards
2 candles
Preppy Stripe Keyring
2 Huge Chocolate Symphony Bars
I put everything into a polka dot terracotta pot that I painted and stuffed tissue paper in all the little crevices!

This is the finished product!  I hope whoever wins this raffle will enjoy all the things I've included!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Weekend Sewing Project - Checkbook Cover

It's raining at my house which makes for a gloomy Sunday afternoon.  I have 2 things I want to and read.  I thought I would do a little sewing first, because chances are if I start reading I will end up dozing off.  I have been needing a new checkbook cover and since spring is on the way I decided to make something bright and colorful.  I love making checkbook covers because they are quick and easy and can be changed out with the seasons or, color coordinate one with your purse!  Here are the easy steps.  I hope I've made them clear but if you have any questions please email me at  Have fun sewing!

First of all cut a pattern that measures 7 1/2" wide by 14 1/2" long.

Cut 2 pieces of fabric from your pattern.  They can be alike or different.  One will be your face fabric and the other will be the lining of your checkbook.

With right sides together pin the 2 pieces of fabric around all edges marking with your pins the area you will leave open to turn the fabric once it's sewn.

Using a 1/4" seam allowance sew around all sides of your fabric remembering to leave an opening to turn the fabric.  Backstitch at beginning and ending of sewing to secure your stitches.  Trim corners being careful not to get too close to stitching.

Turn fabric inside out making sure corners are sharp and pulled out.  Roll fabric between your fingers to get stitching line up and press all sides.  What I mean by this is it shouldn't look like a ditch when it's pressed.  Measure 3 1/4" from the end on each end of cover and mark with a pin.  This will be your fold line.

Make sure the right side of your cover is down and the lining side is up.  If you are using the same fabric for both it really won't matter.  Fold the bottom part of the cover up at the pin markings.  Remember I said this would be your fold line.  Pin fabric in place. Do the same thing for the top folding it down on the fold line and pin fabric in place.

Remove the pins that were used to mark your fold lines but leave the pins holding your fabric in place.

Stitch a 1/4" seam allowance around all sides of the cover.  Remove pins.

Insert that nasty old plastic thing they give you at the bank.  They are good for something...they give your checkbook cover stabiity.....

But now doesn't this look so much better?!  You can make one for winter, spring, summer, fall, 4th of July, Christmas, Halloween....and it's so easy!!

Hope you all have fun with this little sewing project...sorry I didn't get it posted earlier in the weekend...I was busy spring cleaning.  Hoping you all have a wonderful week......until later......                       

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

"Bless Your Heart Ya'll"...Let's Sweeten It Up!

I guess "Bless Your Heart" and "Ya'll" are the two most common phrases used or associated with the south.  I for one, use Bless your Heart all the time and I truly mean it's sentiment when I say it.  I'm not one for "puttin' on" as my grandma use to say (that means doing something that's not heart-felt!).  Sometimes when my feelings are really deep felt, I might even say, "Bless your angel heart!" because it's something that touches me to the core and I am truly feeling your pain or celebrating your joy!  Sometimes southerners use Bless Your Heart just because they don't know what to say about a situation.  It could be a situation when saying anything at all could just ruin everything so all you can think of  is .....Bless Your Heart."  Ya'll on the other hand, is a term I use quite frequently but I surely don't run it in the ground like Paula Deen or Pat and Gina Neely.  They have worn that word out!!!  We use it daily without even thinking about what we're saying......but not in every sentence and surely not every other word in that sentence!!  Why just this afternoon I counted how many times Pat Neely used the word "Ya'll" in 1 minute and it was 9 times!!  In just one minute!  Just because you use "Ya'll" in your speaking does not make you a southerner.  It's like they are trying too hard to make it happen!  Using it should come natural and not in every sentence.  "Ya'll" is a contraction for "You All".  We we use a lot of contractions in the south because we have a tendency to just run our words together.  You might not know what we're saying, but we do! 

Sometimes, just saying Bless Your Heart is not enough...I need to do something a little deeper, put some actions behind my I bake "Bless Your Heart" cookies.  I  know everyone has a friend that needs cheering up from time to time and this is a sweet way to just say, "I'm thinking of you...Bless Your Heart".  Sometimes I package these sweet. little heart-shaped cookies up in a cellophane bag with a bow, But don't forget to put a little tag on the package to let the recipient know they are "Bless Your Heart Cookies".  They don't have to be small but there is just something cute about these tiny little hearts that makes them a little more special.
I have a wonderful sugar cookie recipe that freezes well before they are baked, and even after they are baked.  I have been using this recipe for 24 years! We made Christmas cookie at Union Kindergarten when my daughter went to preschool there!  These cookies are about 1.25 inches wide.  Packaging makes them even more special ~
And sometimes I will even put the bag in a pretty teacup!  I love teacups and I think a cup tea and a cookie is just what the doctor ordered for anyone that needs cheering up! I got this teacup for $2.00 at Marshall's.  I am always picking up the best deals there!  I just hide my little treasures in my gift closet, then I'll always have something on hand when I need a little surcie for someone!

Here is the recipe I used but if you don't have time to mix everything up you can always buy the ready made sugar cookie dough in the dairy case or use a sugar cookie mix.  Sometimes I sprinkle cinnamon sugar on top of the cookie...yum!

Sugar Cookies

1/2 cup butter at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla or flavoring of your choice

Mix butter, sugar, vanilla, and egg together.  Add dry ingredients and mix until the dough starts to come together.  Remove from bowl onto counter and press dough together and form a disk.  Wrap in sara wrap and chill at least 1 hour.  Roll out dough onto surface covered with powdered sugar (some people like to use flour).  Cut cookies and place on greased cookie sheet.  Chill cut cookies in fridge for about 15 minutes.  Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until slightly browned on the edges.

Ya'll have fun now.....Bless Your Heart!  ~Becky