Turn the Page: Three Magazines for Inspiration

I am so smitten with a beautiful magazine cover.  Isn’t it funny how the art on the cover can pull you in before you even see the content shared inside of the issue?  It just goes to show you how important high quality, artistic photography can be to the consumer.

First — is my Spring 2017 issue of the Magnolia Journal.  Each issue focuses on a specific inspiring topic — this one is simplicity.

Three highlights from this issue:

  • A Girlfriend Gathering learning something new — hosting a floral workshop.
  • Blended Health — restorative smoothie recipes whole fruits and vegetables
  • Joanna’s Favorite Lemon Pie

Second is Taste of Home:  The Complete Brunch Cookbook.  108 recipes for unforgettable gatherings.  It features everything from appetizers and beverages, baked entrees, pancakes and waffles, oatmeal, cereal and fruit, quick breads and yeast breads.  So pretty much anything!

Three takeaways:

Taste of Home

I think it’s always nice to have a bite and a sip for your guests when they arrive for a party.

  • Bacon and Eggs Pizza a perfect alternative to the traditional egg casserole.
  • Decadent Dark Chocolate Granola I have fallen in love with granola.  I love it on top of my Trader Joe’s vanilla bean Greek yogurt.  Recently, when I visited Bird Bakery, my favorite bakery, they had jars of their granola for purchase and it inspired me what a great gift that would be!  Similar French canning jars are here from The Container Store.  For your brunch gathering you could put out several yogurt flavor choices, assorted berries, honey and a jar of granola.  Add a batch of muffins, hot coffee and mimosas and your girlfriends will be thrilled!

Third is Mingle:  Creative Ideas for Unique Gatherings.  If you want to host a party and need ideas for something new and creative, this magazine is a perfect reference.  All the ideas are submitted from bloggers, party planners and enthusiasts and creative people.

Three fun ideas:

  • Backyard Wine Tasting from One Stylish Party.  Look at these adorable sugar cookies she served!
One Stylish Party
      Celebrating Friendship from Kathy Colby and The Vintage Industry (you can find them on Facebook).  Look at how they are using vintage furniture! Reminds me of how we styled my nephew’s candy bar station with my grandmother’s vintage French-Provincial dresser.

  • And an “Under the Stars” Celebration from Twinkle Twinkle Little Party. Toss some cute pillows on the lawn, gaze up at the stars, and…

meet me at S’more Station…look how clever!  We will be hosting our Sunday School class this spring for a cookout…I am thinking I may have to copy this idea.  How fun!

So, that’s the word on my three favorite spring magazines.  I subscribe to Magnolia Journal, but I know they carry it at Barnes and Noble along with the other two magazines.  I hope you’re inspired, I know I am!

What’s On the Stack: My February Books

Three books on my library cart this month…


I like to seek out books that offer support and encouragement and I saw this book floating around social media Craving Connection — 30 Challenges for real life engagement. “Embrace the desire God has given each of us for connection.  Invest in meaningful relationships, right where God has you and become the friend you wish you had.”


Chasing Slow — Written by viral sensation and HGTV.com star Erin Loechner.   Erin turns away from fast, fame and frenzy to blaze the trail toward a new-fashioned lifestyle—one that will refresh your perspective, renew your priorities and shift your focus to the journey that matters most. Through a series of steep climbs—her husband’s brain tumor, bankruptcy, family loss, and public criticism—Erin learns just how much strength it takes to surrender it all, and to veer right into grace.

And, thanks to a lovely HWT reader, Carol, I get to jump into deliciousness with Helen Corbitt Cooks for Company (you can read about how Carol knew I wanted this book here).  A few days after I posted the story, this book arrived in the mail along with a lovely handwritten note.  Carol said the book was from her mother’s cookbook library adding “I think you and my mother might have been the same person!”  It totally warms my heart to know I will be cooking from Joan’s cookbook. I tucked the note inside as a reminder of her kindness.

Have a fab Friday!

What’s on the Stack: January’s Reading List

Three books I’m perusing this month (I use the term peruse because it’s a bit of a challenge for me to focus on reading).  There’s a theme here — two books are about slowing down, and one for slow cooking.

First, a book I had on my Christmas wish list…Almost Amish by Nancy Sleeth.  Here’s a brief description of her book:

“Have you ever stopped to think, Maybe the Amish are on to something? Look around. We tweet while we drive, we talk while we text, and we surf the Internet until we fall asleep. We are essentially plugged in and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  It’s time to simplify our lives, make faith and family the focal point, and recapture the lost art of simple living. Building on the basic principles of Amish life, Nancy Sleeth shows readers how making conscious choices to limit (and in some cases eliminate) technology’s hold on our lives and getting back to basics can help us lead calmer, more focused, less harried lives that result in stronger, deeper relationships with our families, friends, and God.”  Added bonus is the cover art — look at her apron!

Second, no coincidence, the next book was written by her husband Dr. Matthew Sleeth.  I absolutely love his book 24:6 A prescription for a healthier, happier life.

“In 24/6, Dr. Matthew Sleeth describes our symptoms, clarifies the signs, diagnoses the illness, and lays out a simple plan for living a healthier, more God-centered life in a digitally-dazed, always-on world. Sleeth shares how his own family was dramatically transformed when it adopted Sabbath practices and helps readers better understand how their own lives can be transformed – physically, emotionally, relationally and spiritually – by adopting the 24/6 lifestyle.”

We did a brief study of this book in my United Methodist Women’s group. I truly found myself craving that one day of the week where I could focus on just being quiet.  My church small group has decided to study it for the next few months so I am looking forward to a more in-depth look at his advice.

Third, one of my favorite cookbook authors Gina Homolka and her Skinnytaste Fast and Slow: Knockout Quick-fix and Slow Cooker Recipes.  I have her first book Skinnytaste Cookbook: Light on Calories, Big on Flavor. I have to say every recipe I have tried has been yummy and well received by my picky teen.  All her recipes include nutritional information and Weight Watcher points.

Follow Gina on Pinterest where she posts recipes.  In fact, she also has a Skinnytaste Meal Planner a 52-week journal to help you organize and plan your meals…something I really want to try to do in the new year.

Check out my Books Worth Reading on Pinterest.  What’s on your stack this month?  I always love good read suggestions.

November: A Month of Abundance

Every November I relish in reading Ann Voskamp’s books.  She’s a New York Times best selling author and I’ve written about her before.  You may be familiar with her last two books:  One Thousand Gifts and Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas.


The perfect way to read the Christmas story with your children

This year Ann is launching a new book The Broken Way:  A Daring Path into the Abundant Life.  She has so much good information and tons of freebies you can download from her website.  With each of her books she always provides free study guides and something I really enjoy – monthly calendars.  The November calendar kicks-off the season of Thanksgiving and starts November 1 with a simple task — jot down three gifts you are thankful for, then reach out to three people who have made those gifts possible. Simple.  Thankfulness is not costly and doesn’t require gift wrap.



Ann’s writings are especially important to me during the months of October through December because of the ministry I help lead at my church on grief and loss.  For 15 years I have been given the gift from God of leading a grief support group and the honor of serving on the committee for Hope for the Holidays — an evening of hope, healing and worship for those who are facing the holidays grieving a loss.  Loss of a relationship, employment, ability, loss of a loved one through death, addiction, incarceration, or homelessness.  You are invited to join us this year on Thursday, November 17, 7 p.m. at Arborlawn United Methodist Church.  Please visit our Facebook page for more information.

If you are local to Fort Worth, Ann Voskamp will be signing copies of her book at Lifeway Christian Store, 5900 Southwest Loop 820, 76132, on Friday, November 4, 6-7:30 p.m.  I’m going to make an evening of it, dinner with a friend, then hopefully to meet Ann to sign my books.

I hope you will join me during the month of November to focus on making your life full of abundance.  Print your calendar, post it on the fridge, and together, let’s #bethegift.

Chicken Pot Pie with Sweet Potatoes

Dinner: A Love Story

If you are looking to add a new cookbook to your library or give a gift for Christmas, consider Dinner: A Love Story by Jenny Rosenstrach.  Mr. Bee gifted me this book for Christmas ’12.  Read her story here.  In summary, Jenny recorded her 14-year journey of preparing a family dinner every night for her husband and two children while working full time.  The book is organized into phases:  Phase 1 -just married, learning to cook; Phase 2 – New Parenthood where your house looks like the epicenter of an explosion; and Phase 3 — Family dinner.   Her casual recipes serve 4 people, are easy to follow and beautifully written as if Jenny is providing the narrative to each recipe herself in your kitchen.

How to Celebratate Everything

Jenny has a new book and I can’t wait for my copy to come this week — How to Celebrate Everything.

So, back to the Chicken Pot Pie with Sweet Potatoes. It’s super easy to make, looks like you spent a ton of time cooking it and it’s a perfect weeknight meal with a salad since it has all the veggies you need in the pie.  It would be the perfect “soul” food for someone needing a warm hug and dinner – one in the same.  I like that you can use sweet potatoes instead of potatoes, but Jenny notes that Yukon gold potatoes are perfectly fine as a substitute.

It calls for fresh thyme, carrots, onion, and peas.

fresh carrots
fresh thyme
chicken pot pie filling

I bake a few chicken breasts each week to use for soups and salads.  Or, you can use rotisserie chicken from the grocery store.

Top with either your own pie crust recipe, or I use Pillsbury (I always have a few boxes in the freezer).

right out of the oven
it’s the real deal — filling and flaky pie crust

Jenny has the recipe on her website here with a twist showing you how to do a monogram with pie crust.  Or, you can just do it plain like I did.  I’m thinking next time I make this recipe, I will prepare individual pot pies in these little Le Creuset cocottes I got from Mr. Bee for my birthday!

Le Creuset Cocottes

With cooler weather coming this week, a pot pie is a perfect way to finish the day with enough leftovers for lunch the next day.

Wednesday’s Weave: That 70’s Cookbook

that-70s-cookbookI was going through some old things in the attic recently and came across this gem of a cookbook. It’s one of those school cookbooks where all the teachers, staff and I guess anyone else that wanted to see their name in print, could submit their fave recipes.

First up, the kitchen photo on the cover.  Since I never saw Carol Brady do any cooking other than to help Alice chop carrots or snap beans, I prefer to call this Alice’s kitchen.

70s-kitchenThey must be making something fancy because they got all their gear out — double boiler, industrial sack-o-flour, wooden salt and pepper shakers, an electric can opener, a coffee press, lemons, onions, a juicer and I’m not sure what the white thing is.

Is that a spatula hanging from the pot rack?  Why can’t it go in the wooden bowl on the counter with the 76 other rubber spatulas? Does anyone find it a tad disturbing that really big knives are suspended from the pot rack.  I bet lots of yummy tuna noodle casseroles with potato chips crushed on top were whipped up in this gourmet palace.

Second, at a glance, I noticed that the top three submissions for this saucy little book were:

1.  Miss Moore — the gym teacher.  Lots of salads.
2.  Mr. Sisserson — a math whiz with a sweet tooth.
3.  The cafeteria ladies — tons of recipes for 150 people.  Hey, how can you go wrong with 150 yeast rolls?

But the real highlight “Fillings make the Sandwich:  How to make 26 new fillings.”   Gee, the mom that makes these is swell.

70-cookbook-recipesTed, Bobby, Suzy and Sue get in here and try the tasty tongue sandwich I made!


And tomorrow night I want to try the Liver Sausage Salad.  I think the girls at my bridge club will go wild over it.  That and an asparagus jello salad, will make me a shoe-in for the membership chair.


Miss Bee said if I ever made her a sandwich with ground ham, crushed pineapple, brown sugar and a sprinkle of cloves she’d first hurl, then move to New Mexico to live with her Aunt.

Wednesday’s Weave — Copy What you See

cover of bookLast fall when I went to visit Sister Bee, all I wanted to do was be cozy in her mountain home and read books.  She had this book Style & Simplicity by Ted Kennedy Watson on her coffee table.  I immediately fell in love with his book and ordered by own copy right then and there.

This book is an “A to Z Guide to Living a More Beautiful Life.”  Every letter of the alphabet is represented in a how-to guide to decorate your home and entertain your friends.  Years ago, Sister taught me to copy what you see in magazines and books.  She was the original Pinterest.

Something struck a cord with me when I saw this photo in the book.  It was listed under Hydrangea…

book with page of balls

pool ballsA bowl of billiard balls.  How clever.  I tucked the idea away in my head.  A few days later, Sister and Miss Bee and I went antiquing in Capitan — home of Smoky Bear.  We were rummaging around and I saw a milk crate full of vintage billiard balls.  Heavy, nice ones with soft colors and not plastic.  I lugged the crate to the owner and asked her real kind how much. “Oh, how about $20 for the crate.”  Sold!  Of course, it cost about $40 to ship them home with the other treasures we found that day, but it was worth it.  I have been doing a little research and I think the balls might be Bakelite!

We’ve been adding covered entertaining space on our patio and I wanted to fill the space with fun, vintage, quirky finds and these billiard balls are perfect conversation starters.   All they needed was a good wipe down with a damp cloth. I found a carved wooden, long bowl at Hobby Lobby and filled it with my treasure. It was like it was meant to be because there were just enough to fill the bowl!

close up of balls

bowl of balls

pool balls and chair

I’m still searching for things and will be showing you more unexpected finds soon.  So, next time you look through a magazine or coffee table book, slow down and really take in the possibilities for your own home.

In the Kitchen: My picks for awesome cookbooks

I spent the month of January cleaning out pretty much every closet, including the attic, and since many of my little used cookbooks were donated to the Friends of the Library, I chose these new books for my cookbook library…

You Have it Made by Ellie Krieger.  I saw her on Hallmark Channel’s Home and Family preparing mini meatloaves.  The concept behind her book are recipes that can be made ahead and put into the freezer for easy weeknight dinners.  The mini meatloaves made 12 individual servings and she talked about how “even the babysitter” can prepare a healthy, delicious meal for your family when you aren’t home.  I thought that was a perfect idea for the working mom.

Tonight, I made her recipe for Sunday Beef Stew.  It’s a tiny bit labor intensive — hence the name “Sunday” stew.  But, it was well worth it.  Rich, robust and wintry.

I served it on a bed of homemade mashed potatoes.  It was heavenly.  It made a ton so we will easily have enough leftovers for the freezer for another night.

The next cookbook to share is not new, but it’s new to me…

Skinny Taste by Gina Homolka.  Her concept is taking traditional recipes, preparing them with fewer calories, yet keeping the focus on big flavor.  All her recipes include the nutritional information along with Weight Watcher points.

I have to be honest that I have been feeling in the dumper lately on my cooking…as far as Miss Bee is concerned.  She has become so particular.  This is new territory to me.  We are talking about a child that, from the time she could eat table food, would eat ANYTHING.  I never had any struggles with her being picky or refusing to eat.  Until the eve of her 16th year of birth!  Why do I care, I tell myself when she scrapes perfectly good food into the trash?  So, this week I made it my mission to prepare at least two meals she would eat.

We have a winner on this one folks — Baked Chicken Parmesan!!!!!

Instead of chicken, I used turkey tenderloins I already had on-hand.  You set up a dredging station using a little butter, Parmesan cheese, whole wheat Panko bread crumbs (didn’t know they came in whole wheat and I loved them. Best part, Miss Bee was none-the-wiser).

You bake the chicken/turkey at 450 for 20 minutes.  Turn, then bake 5 more minutes.

Then, you spread a little marinara sauce (I use Mezzetta because it has no added sugar), and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.  Bake for another 5 minutes.

It makes these incredible crispy pieces when the cheese melds with the bread crumbs.  I served the chicken with a side of whole wheat pasta and warmed marinara sauce.  Plus, a hunk of fresh baked Italian bread with a garden salad.  The chicken comes in under 275 calories per serving.

Miss Bee had two servings.  Mission: Possible.



Great Reads for Gift Giving


I wanted to share a few of my favorite books for gift giving.  And, hopefully, you’ll have a sales person as terrific as Rufus to wrap them up for you.

First, Dinner:  A Love Story by Jenny Rosenstrach.  Mr. Bee gave me this book three years ago for Christmas with the inscription “You are my Love Story.”  I cook from it at least once a week.  It’s the perfect blend of recipes and autobiography on how Jenny lovingly prepares simple food for her family with the motto “It all begins at the family table.”  And, her daughter is named Phoebe which happens to be one of my favorite names…

Next, the New York Times #1 Best SellerThe Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.  It’s perfect for the person who loves to be organized or at least wants to start the New Year off organizing.  The first chapter is entitled “Why Can’t I Keep my House in Order?”  If that doesn’t hook you, I don’t know what will.  It’s a small book, perfect for a stocking stuffer and covers everything from organizing kitchen spices to controlling the clutter on your closet floor.  

This book is on my Christmas list…

The Inspired Room by Melissa Michaels.  She has a beautiful blog and is the author of two books Love the Home You Have and her latest The Inspired Room Coffee Table Book.  I have the former on my Nook.  It’s full of simple ideas to embrace your style, get organized and delight in where you are.  Her newest book is a full-color book offering accessible tips to create a pretty room starting with what you already have and can gather over time.

Lastly, Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts.

Ann’s writing make me delight in spending time with the Lord.  She has a beautiful website A Holy Experience with free downloadable art work, study guide companions for her books and spiritual comfort.  A friend once described Ann’s writings as “it’s like taking a warm bath.”  She has a lovely Advent study book for adults and a coffee table version Unwrapping the Greatest Gift for families.  Members of a grief support group I led last Christmas gave me an inscribed copy and I treasure it.

Be sure to inscribe your books with a special message and date so every time the recipient opens it, they will remember the kindness and love that came from you.  Have a splendid Sunday!

Brunch with Bobby Flay and Williams-Sonoma

I have had the best time attending Williams-Sonoma’s monthly cookbook club.  October featured the new Bobby Flay cookbook — Brunch @ Bobby’s.  I was specifically interested in this book because I wanted inspiration for new brunch dishes instead of the usual quiche and fruit salad.

The class fee of $75 includes a signed copy of the month’s featured celebrity cookbook and freshly prepared recipes from the book in a small-group setting where you receive culinary techniques and tips while making a meal of what is prepared.

Karen McCann is the culinary specialist at the Fort Worth-University Park Village store where I attend the classes.

When you walk in you get to sit all cozy-like at the counter while she teaches and prepares recipes featured in the book.  You can follow along in your own copy of the cookbook while she leads the class through the steps of the recipe.

For tonight’s class the menu was a vegetable frittata with peppers, onions, and roasted cherry tomato sauce.

Cathy, her helper, kindly goes around serving the food and refilled our glasses with sparking apple cider.  The presentation of serving the frittata on a wooden pizza board offered a  rustic elegance.

 This is the frittata with a roasted tomato sauce.  It was so fresh.

Next up fig jam, ham and cheese panini.

These were really delicious and I think Mr. and Miss Bee would like these (but I probably couldn’t tell her it was made with fig jam).

For dessert, which is always the best part, mini pumpkin churros with chocolate-orange dipping sauce.  These were to-die for.  The chocolate sauce has the perfect essence of orange so it wasn’t too sweet.  The recipe makes a stiff batter as you can see from her using a large wooden spoon.

Then Karen filled the pastry bag with the pumpkin batter fitted with a star-tip. Then carefully squeezed the dough out, snipping with scissors, into the hot oil.

Here are the morsels of heaven being retrieved from their hot oil treatment…

Rolled in cinnamon sugar

While that was happening, she was also preparing the orange-chocolate dipping sauce.  She poured the sauce into cups and filled each cup with 3-4 churros.  Even Bobby approves…

The recipes in his book are easy to follow and don’t call for a large amount of weird ingredients.  This menu was prepared in about 90 minutes, but that included alot of technique sharing.  We all said we wished Karen could prepare our meals for us after a long day of working!  The best part, other than eating chef-prepared food, is you receive a 10% off discount on all your shopping after the class until they close.  It’s perfect for picking up any of the food or cooking items used in the class.

This past Friday night, I prepared Bobby’s recipe for roasted tomatoes

Here’s the recipe:

6 plum tomatoes (I used Campari tomatoes) cut lengthwise
Unsalted butter, for the baking dish
5 TBL olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
1 cup of fresh bread crumbs (I used Panko)
2 TBL finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Preheat oven to 400.

Put the tomato halves in a lightly buttered baking dish, cut side up, drizzle with 2 TBL olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.  Bake for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining 3 TBL oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat.  Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.  Add the bread crumbs and season with salt and pepper.  Cook the crumbs, stirring constantly, until light golden brown.  Remove from the heat and stir in the parsley.

Remove the tomatoes from the oven and top each with about 1 TBL of the crumbs.  Return to the oven and continue baking until the tomatoes are soft and the crumbs become golden brown and crisp, about 15 minutes longer.  Serve hot or room temperature.

I served it with shrimp fettuccine and asparagus with basil pesto sauce.  It was colorful and delicious and the perfect weekend supper.

Call your local Williams-Sonoma for their cookbook club coming up.  It’s a perfect gift or a girls night out.