Being Quiet in our Thoughts

I had the best weekend retreat with my church-lady friends.  We laughed, talked, shared.  We are all different, but we share one thing in common.  We love the Lord.

During our Saturday evening Bible study, during the power outage while we sat in candlelight, we talked about our gifts.  Words others may use to describe us.  Things like loyal, warm, funny, smart.  We shared how taking the time to be thankful for these gifts is important.  To practice self-compassion.  We show compassion for others, but how often do we show compassion toward ourselves?  Somedays we can be so hard on us.  I’m not this, I’m not that.

So, we “resolved” to set aside a minimum of 5-10 minutes each day to pray for thanksgiving.  To be quiet in our thoughts.  To learn that what seems urgent should not replace what is important.  Sometimes there’s a big difference.  To practice self-denial.  Sunday mornings come and we want that extra sleep or to have just one day we don’t have to shower, do our hair and makeup.  To deny ourselves that extra time, actually makes us so much more productive the rest of the week.  That denial turns into fulfillment from our time at church with the Lord and our friends.

Being quiet in our thoughts is a magnificent journey to spiritual realms that allow our spirits to soar.  Let us try to forget the fast schedule on which we have been running our lives, and let our souls catch up with us.


Beverage Cart Rehab

This little sad cart was what I started with…

It sat next to Daddy’s chair and since he couldn’t see real well, it suffered a few spills of his favorite beverage, Diet Dr. Pepper.  I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to do with it.  It has a alot of charm.  Tiny, vintage, wooden wheels, and a removable tray top.

I even tried to give it away, but no one wanted him.  Then one day when I was skimming through one of my magazines, I saw this and got a light bulb idea:

I thought it looked so much like my little cart.  I took my new paint color, Florence, from the Annie Sloan Chalk Paint collection, a little of their clear wax, chalkboard paint, and a tube of Rub-n-Buff in antique gold and went to work.

This is side view of the paint application and the Rub-N-Buff along the top edge.
This is a view of the wooden wheels and before I
applied the Rub-N-Buff to the hardware.
 Here’s the party animal now!
Can you see something in the top right corner?
Chalk board top for quotes or drink choices
Leg hardware after a little Rub-n-Buff
The bottom tray has a few accessories.
Going to expand the bar tending inventory this spring.
I took me about a day to do the whole paint process.  I think I put two coats of chalkboard paint on.  Then after everything was dry I did a little clear paste to seal it and finished with the accent of the gold rub-n-buff.  Let me know if you would like for me to wheel the cart over for drinks soon.  He will be available for parties!  Cheers!

Christmas Day Scavenger Hunt — A Visit from the Past

I had one of the most restful Christmas seasons I can recall in a long time.  I cut way back on commitments and running around.  I only spent $50 on new Christmas decor — a doormat and a cute Santa for the front porch table.  I re purposed the decor I already had and even took some to Goodwill.  I made most of our gifts and cut way back on Miss Bee’s gifts.  I don’t think she believes in Santa anymore, but for fear he may not visit our home if she reveals her disbelief, we stay silent on the subject.  But, I think since this was the first time in 12 years we haven’t left cookies and milk for him, I think that speaks volumes.

What I did do instead was focus more on spending quality time with the hive residents.  I was able to focus on baking, which I love to do, without feeling hurried and exhausted.  I made cinnamon rolls from scratch, which I have never done.  I made coffee cakes and chocolate cakes.  I made a box of cookies and candy to send to my nephew and his girlfriend.  Miss Bee and I had such fun delivering all our goodies the Saturday before Christmas.

The other fun thing we did was a Christmas day scavenger hunt.  This was a tradition when I was growing up.  After we performed the Christmas pageants Earnie used to write for all four kids complete with speaking parts and costumes, she’d give us each clues as to the location of our gifts.  Oh, and she hosted a Christmas Eve party for family and their employees, a Christmas morning brunch for family.  And, after we all left for an afternoon at the movie, whip up a Christmas dinner.  She did all of this and keep an immaculate beehive hairdo and hostess skirt in pristine condition.

This year Miss Bee asked for only one thing:  A phone.  We strung her along telling her we weren’t ready for her to have one, or that we had already maxed out on our phone plan.   Meanwhile, I made up clues for her to find her Christmas bounty…

Clue One in her stocking — We discovered these in Ruidoso last summer.  To not have these frozen treats would be a real bummer.  (in the freezer we put a box of Magnum Caramel bars with Clue 2).

Clue Two — A chore you have to do everyday, the cats and we say hip hip hooray!  (clue three in the kitty litter bag).

Clue Three  — American Girls galore, in Julie’s locker there’s Clue Four.

Clue Four — Just a few more steps if you are able, Santa left a note on Momma’s bedside table

Clue Five — Burgers and steaks we cook on the grill, open the lid but you might get a chill (clue six was in the gas grill on the lanai).

Clue Six — Here’s a key to the neighbors, Mark and Cindy.  Use this bungee it will come in handy (our neighbors graciously agreed to let their kitchen be the site of the treasure.  The bungee was a lame gift exchange gift we passed on to Miss Bee that allows her to connect her phone to her belt loop).

Clue Seven — Once Miss Bee was in the house, on the counter in the kitchen was the wrapped phone box.  She opened the box, but no phone.  Instead was the final clue — One last thing, call his number.  She called the number and behind her on the stairs was the phone ringing in the gift bag!

It was priceless to see her reaction.  Earnie has passed on so many of her gifts.  I’m glad this was one I could pass on to Miss Bee.

Happy New Year!

Instead of Making Cookies, I need your Pot

This is how my friend Cindy normally looks.  I love hanging out with her.  She’s fun, kind, and we laugh about everything.  She’s the”he dropped his Prostate” friend.

Today was our annual cookie baking day.  We hang out at her house, bake cookies for all the people we’re gifting for Christmas.  She usually feeds me something yummy for lunch and we burn a few batches of baked goods because we’re distracted with laughing.

Well, today was a little different.  Cindy called and said she was sick with a cold.  Her head hurt, she couldn’t breathe.  What should she do to get better before her birthday wingding on Saturday.  I told her to sit tight, I’d be over in a jiff with my pot — just the thing that would cure her right up.

This is what Cindy looked like when she opened the door.  Girl, she needed help.

So instead of whipping up a batch of these little Christmas miracles

We stood over her sink doing this

If you’ve never used a Neti Pot, you’re missing out.  It is the BEST thing for colds and allergies.  They sell them in any drug store.  Their purpose is to rinse out your sinuses clogged with, well mucous.  Sorry.  I said it.  I don’t like that word.  They are the number one best defense against sinus infections.  Makes the perfect Christmas stocking stuffer for that special someone!  Smile.

And I made an emergency run for this

which you can only purchase from behind the counter after presenting your photo ID, birth certificate and electric bill, swearing on the Holy Bible you won’t sell or distribute the meds to others.

At 3:59 p.m. I got a report that Cindy was doing great.  I’ve saved another life.  Until tomorrow’s adventure.

Simone — the Sewing Table

I’m in love, I’m in love, I’m in love, and I don’t care who knows it.  I just moved my Grandmother Ruby’s sewing table from storage into my bedroom to make it a dressing table.  I am the only person who probably gives her furniture names. Meet Simone.

Sewing Simone is named for Simone Beck, author and expert in French cooking.  With Julia Child they wrote The Art of French Cooking.  I imagine Simone could have whipped up pot holders or aprons at this table.

 Simone is going to the spa for a little updating, but I thought you’d like to see her first. 

I love the drawer handles.  I think I am going to try to clean them up a bit with Rub-n-Buff.  At first I thought I wanted to paint her and even though the top is not in the best shape, with Miss Bee’s encouragement I am going to leave her alone on the painting.  I think with a beautiful fabric and glass cut to fit I can cover the top.

The drawer still has the thread bobbins holder which I am using to hold my rings.  I put a ceramic tray in the drawer to hold some of my frequently worn pieces of jewelry.

Add a few touches of other accessories.

The mirror is Earnie’s. I purchased the leather and chrome ottoman from QVC a long time ago.  The paint color is new.  Martha Stewart’s Cumulus from Home Depot.  The cat is Oreo.  She’s crazy, but very pretty.

Next up.  Divinity candy.  I hate it.  Sister Bee loves it.  I think it tastes like mucous. Going to try and see if I can make it.  It involves a candy thermometer.  But, I’ve mastered that.  Today, Earnie is making a new candy recipe she got a church.   I’m sure we’ll have a fun story to share about that.

I challenge you to go now and name a piece of furniture in your home.  Cheers!

Need a dessert for a Christmas Party?

The Black Russian Bundt Cake recipe my neighbor shared with me is the bomb.  Easy to make and especially pretty if you have a decorative bundt pan.  Several years ago I purchased this Nordic Bundt pan shaped like Christmas trees:

Be sure to grease and spray it carefully and thoroughly.  I used Baker’s Joy flour/non-stick spray and it worked great.  This cake is moist and transports well.  A few people on my Christmas list are getting these…

Black Russian Bundt Cake

1 box yellow cake mix (without the pudding)
1/2 cup sugar
1 small box of instant chocolate pudding mix
1 cup oil
4 eggs
1/4 cup Vodka (I used vanilla vodka)
1/4 cup Kahlua (or other coffee-flavored liqueur)
3/4 cup water (or I used left over coffee)

Combine everything in a mixer and beat well.  Pour into well greased pan and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 60-70 minutes.  Cool in pan 10 minutes, then remove from pan and glaze.

1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup Kahlua
Combine and pour over warm cake.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Move over Mrs. Doyle

In honor of National Cake Day on Monday, I made the Mrs. Billett’s cake  from the cover of December’s Southern Living magazine. 

Mrs. Billett is my new best friend.  The wintry white confection was submitted to SL by Mrs. Sue Winter for their annual December cake contest.  She acquired the recipe from her mother.  Like my beloved Elizabeth Doyle’s chocolate cake, she and her mother never knew who Mrs. Billett was but have been making her white cake for every birthday since the 50s.

The only modification I made was not making the fondant snowflakes.  Mr. Bee is not fond of fondant and at $12 a package I didn’t want to waste it on him.  But if I were to make this for an event, I would give the fondant a whirl.

While it wasn’t a complicated recipe it takes longer than a usual cake.  But. Oh. My. Is it worth it.  I had it iced by 9:30 p.m. Slices were delivered to our neighbors who usually go to bed at 7:30 p.m.  But they took No-doze in order to stay up for their cake delivery. 

Lots of vanilla, an entire box of butter, 5 eggs and a 32 ounce bag of powdered sugar, it’s not for the faint of heart.  I think Mrs. Billet and Doyle will get along just fine.

Heirloom Recipe Wednesday

Today’s topic:  Buttermilk Pie.  Love it.  I think the first time I ate it was at the Nut House in Granbury, Texas.  I was probably younger than Miss Bee is now.  It’s very southern.  I was nine when Earnie purchased this cookbook by mail order..

Copy write date

Somewhere along the way I discovered the buttermilk pie recipe and from the looks of the page, it was a frequent occurrence for me to make it.  Earnie added the note about adding lemon juice.

So I made one last night.  All the talk my Austin besties were doing about spending Thanksgiving together tomorrow made me all nostalgic.  So I made one.  I plan to eat a big slice tomorrow.

I even tried a new pie crust recipe from my friend David Venable’s new cookbook (we’ve never met, but I consider him my friend.  He’s a cutie).

Pie.  It’s the most important part of the Thanksgiving meal.

Yummy Fall Cocktail

Last night, at a progressive dinner gathering of friends, we ended the night with after dinner drinks.  I made butterscotch martinis.  I saw the original recipe on the Food Network with Sandra Lee. She calls her version a Butter Martini, but the butterscotch Schnapps is so flavorful and makes the drink tastes more like the candy instead of a stick of butter.

Here’s what you need:

Cocktail shaker — not required, but will make you look really cool while mixing the cocktail
Crushed ice cubes
One part Vanilla Vodka (I put my bottle in the freezer to make it really cold)
One part chilled pineapple juice
Splash of butterscotch Schnapps
Splash of Chamboard (a raspberry liqueur)

For the “one part” I just used the little jigger on top of the cocktail shaker.  Mix all the ingredients in the shaker, then pour into glasses.

It was just the right blend of flavors.  You got the vanilla vodka at the top note of the drink and after a minute the smooth, caramel flavor of the butterscotch set in.

Perfect cozy fireside drink with friends.  Cheers!

Earnie’s Cooking School — Brunswick Stew

We like to come up with all sorts of engaging activites for our residents at Windwood Trail Haus.  Earnie’s homework, and activity in the Day Room on Monday, was making her famous Brunswick Stew. 

When I was growing up she made this all the time.  It never occurred to me that when I be-bopped into her room Sunday night to give Earnie her little last call cookie that she would look at me blankly when I suggested she make it for Monday’s dinner.  She said it had been so long since she made it she wasn’t sure what the ingredients were.  Actually, I don’t recall her making it since she and Ray moved in back in 2007.

Earnie has a stock pile of recipes in a box.  All kinds, mostly ones she has cut out from the paper over the years.  I suggested she take a look see in her box of recipes and maybe that might trigger it for her.  Good brain work going on here, I was thinking.  She found the recipe, although I am not sure it’s the actual one she used to prepare.  But, it’s pretty close.

Apparently, Earnie stayed up until 2 a.m. looking for the damn recipe.  Meanwhile, she was doing something to her computer.  It was about that time that I was woken up from a sound sleep hearing the musical stylings of Susan Boyle down in Earnie’s room.  I had all four cats on top of me and even they were jolted from sleep.  They flew off the bed, while I sat straight up thinking maybe I had died in the night and this was the introductory song they sing as you enter the gates of heaven.  I’m sure my hair looked a fright, too.   I didn’t see Jesus anywhere, so I figured I was still alive.  After about 3 minutes of this musical snack, I got out of bed thinking, “I know Earnie has hearing loss, but geesh, this is loud.”  I started to make my way out of the room and she must have figured out how to turn it off.  When I left for work, I left her this note:

Back to the stew…We had hot, steaming bowls of this last night for dinner with Miss Bee’s cornbread.  The cool front had blown in so it was a perfect night for Earnie’s stew.  Susan Boyle didn’t make an encore performance last night so it was a good night’s sleep for everyone.