Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Adorable, Personalized, and Cheap!

Last year our daughter gave us an adorable personalized ornament for Christmas.   And ,I, the self-professed non-crafter thought, “I can do that”…”maybe”.  Today is DELIVERY Day!


I have a small group of friends I call the “ lunch bunch”.  We’re meeting today and I wanted to give them all a “happy”.  We’re all trying to conserve and besides, I wanted these to be personal.


I’ve been working for a few mornings and evenings after dinner.  Once I did the first couple and perfected “my craft” :), the process went quickly!


I used some large and some small non-breakable ornaments, paint pens, and acrylic paint.


Each family member’s name and the date were put on with a thin tip paint pen and a ribbon was attached to the top.


Each one was wrapped in a clear snack or gift bag with “grass” to protect it and tied up with left over ribbon.  Cute and best yet…almost no expense at all!  It might be a little late for this year, but remember this one!

Merry Christmas….Don’t forget to take time to enjoy the miracle!~~Susan

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas…Another Perspective

The last week before Christmas is upon those of us await the celebration of our Saviour’s birth.  So much to do; so little time to do it.  I read something last week that really made me stop and think….made me want to put it all into perspective.  I thought you might enjoy it too.


Inspired by Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, Dr. Charles Webster wrote:

If I decorate my house perfectly with bows and strands of light, but do not show love, I am just another decorator.

If I slave away in the kitchen baking dozens of Christmas cookies, preparing gourmet meals and arranging a beautifully adorned table, but do not show love, I am just another cook.

If I volunteer at the soup kitchen, carol in the nursing homes and give away a lot to charity, but do not show love, it profits me nothing.

If I trim the spruce with golden angels and crocheted snowflakes, attend holiday parties and sing in the church choir concert, but do not focus on Christ, I have missed the point.

Love sets aside the decorating to kiss one’s partner.  Love stops the cooking to hug the child.  Love is kind, though harried and tired.  Love does not envy another’s home with coordinated Christmas china and table linens.  Love does not yell at the kids to get out of the way, but is thankful they are there to be in the way.  Love does not give to only those who are able to give in return, but rejoices in giving to those who cannot.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.   Love never fails.

Video games will break, pearl necklaces will be lost, golf clubs will rust….but the gift of love will endure.    


I think Dr. Webster has been peeking in my windows :)  Give yourself a break…take time to enjoy the miracle!~~Susan

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Comfort to Celebrate Joy

It’s not that I don’t love you any more. I do. Really. I do. It’s just that life has bumped up a notch around here. Several notches really….but all very happy notches :)


You may remember I told you back at the end of October that our youngest son proposed to his high school sweetie. Well, This past Sunday called for another celebration! I broke my own “no-Sunday-cooking-except-on- the- grill” rule, set the table, arranged flowers, and COOKED for the entire clan.


It gave me a chance to use the cute salad plates I bought from Walmart….the ones that go in the dishwasher :) I even used jingle bell ornaments from Walmart as napkin rings.


No time for a fussy arrangement….one Kroger bouquet split between three Dollar Tree candle holders. I love doing several low arrangements instead of one big one. Odd numbers work well.


A little holly from the yard makes it an instant “Christmas arrangement”.


The meal was simple southern food—favorites requested by the guests of honor.

Waldorf Salad

Homemade Chicken and Dumplings

Crowder Peas

Hot Cornbread

Hot Fudge Pie with Peppermint Ice Cream

And what was the occasion for this celebration? Another wedding!!!!

jeff and tricia

Firstborn has proposed and we could not be happier!!! God has truly answered my prayers with these two young women who will soon join our family! So—big news for two of the three children and even more for the third one (more on that soon :). Let’s just say 2011 is going to be a BIG YEAR for this family!

Happy news and good food---truly Comfort and Joy!

Thanks for stopping by and mostly for not forgetting about me! I’ve left links for the cornbread and Waldorf salad recipes:) Stay calm and remember the reason for the season!~~Susan

Join Susan at Between Naps on the Porch for Tablescape Thursday by clicking on her button on the sidebar!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Very Last Pumpkin Recipe This Year…And Worth It

Technically, I know we are past “pumpkin season”, but since this is the last day of November I thought I would push my luck. I tried this recipe for the first time and it is just too delicious and too easy not to share.


Thanksgiving also happened to be my son in law’s birthday. He is a pumpkin lover so I made this in his honor. I found this recipe in one of those handy dandy Kroger brochures that come in the mail. After lunch, I moved the recipe straight to the “keeper” file!

Pumpkin Trifle

Bake one (14 ounce) ginger or spice cake mix. (I used spice cake). Let cool completely. Prepare one large box of instant vanilla pudding as directed. Stir into the prepared pudding one can of pumpkin pie filling, 1/2 cup packed brown sugar, and 1/3 teaspoon ground cinnamon, ginger, or pumpkin pie spice. I used a little cinnamon and ginger. Prepare whipped cream. I whipped about two cups---I never want to skimp on whipped cream :). Crumble in large pieces part of the spice cake in a glass bowl or trifle dish. Layer half of the pudding mixture followed by a layer of whipped cream. Repeat ending with whipped cream. Garnish with a sprinkling of cinnamon.

Note—I might even try Cool Whip next time instead of whipped cream to make it even easier and faster.

It may be too late for this year, but save this one! Easy, delicious, pretty—A lot of bang for the buck!!! Now on to Christmas recipes…I promise :)

Thanks for stopping by! I’ll be linking to Michael Lee West for Foodie Friday! Click on her button to fatten up for the holidays :)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

First Things First

Christmas music on my favorite radio station 24/7, white twinkle lights appearing in yards around me, and the calendar is filling up….and not a twinkle light, shiny ornament, or fluffy bow in sight at my house….sigh. BUT


this year I was asked to be on my church’s flower committee. Now, for me, that ranked right under being asked to take a presidential cabinet position! This is such a talented group of ladies who are master gardeners and flower show judges. I have learned so much from them.


I spent part of Saturday getting the church ready for the first Sunday in Advent. In a couple of weeks a bank of poinsettias will take the place of the fresh flower arrangement.


This year we added swags to the pews for the first time.


The balcony was draped with garlands, bow, and a wreath.


The advent candles were arranged with faux greenery and berries.


Every window was adorned with a hurricane globe, candle, and greenery. These will be lit at the candlelight service on Christmas Eve.


And finally, the arrangement was made.


All white with fresh greenery and holly. These ladies have been teaching me the art of using floral oasis and I thought I’d pass them along to you. Oasis makes it much easier to put your flowers where you want them and KEEP them there. In addition, the water will help preserve the fresh cut flowers.


Oasis can be bought at lots of places—Hobby Lobby, Dollar Tree, Michael’s, Walmart.

1. Use a knife to cut your oasis to fit the container. Sometimes it may take more than one piece and some creative cutting. Be sure that you leave the oasis one inch higher than the depth of the container.

2. Place the oasis in a sink or bucket of fresh cool water with the small holes facing up. These hole are already there for you. Don’t weight it down or leave it under running water.

3. Let the oasis soak for about 10 minutes. Remove it from the water and allow it to drain for just a minute or two.

4. Now you are ready to place the saturated oasis in the floral container. At this point it will be fairly soft and pliable.

5. Secure with floral tape if desired.

Now, most of you may already know all this. I did not so I am passing it along just in case! I am joining Susan at Between Naps on the Porch for Metamorphosis Monday. Just click on her button on my sidebar for transportation!

I’m so glad to be back after a short hiatus! I missed you more than you can imagine. I hope you’ll be back…I’ve been cooking and have lots to share! Thanks for stopping by… leave me a note :) ~~Susan

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Play It Again...With Apologies to Robert Frost

Edited: Hi gang! I have missed you! I am back from a short unplanned hiatus--renewed, refreshed and revived! I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and are cranking up for the holiday season! I first posted this last November and thought I would share it again with Chari at Happy to Design for Sunday Favorites and with The Tablescaper for Seasonal Sundays. I hope you will join both of these lovely ladies by clicking on their link! I hope you'll come back next week--I have some goodies planned!


Raking Up Leaves on an Autumn Evening

With Apologies to

Robert Frost

Whose leaves these are I think I know.

The tree is not my yard though.

It seems all wrong to yell and hiss

To treat the leaves as if a foe.

My little dogs are full of fear

For they can hardly walk in here.

The crunch and crackle frightens them.

They do not like this time of year.

My husband fumes and stomps his feet.

It seems he can’t admit defeat.

Leaves cover up his perfect path,

Swirl and fall and then repeat.

The leaves are yellow, brown, and deep.

So I will rake without a peep,

With leaves to rake before I sleep,

With leaves to rake before I sleep.


I am joining our hostess Susan at A Southern Daydreamer for Outdoor Wednesday. Please join her here for more outdoor fun. Robert Frost has long been my favorite poet. If you would like to read his poem “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”, click here. I hope you will come back on Thursday for my 100th post, an invitation, and a giveaway!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

In His Hands

My morning prayer time was different today. I have been praying on my knees for a sweet baby boy. I know some of you have been too. Born too soon and with a serious heart defect, this little one has been fighting with the valor and strength of a warrior. On Friday the battle was over…and I believe in my heart that it ended in victory.


There have been times in my life when I cried out for answers and cursed what I believed to be injustice. I needed to know why. I needed to know the plan. I like things neat and tidy. But as I grow in faith, I am coming to realize that there are answers I am not meant to have right now…plans bigger and more glorious than the ones I can make or dare to dream. I am just looking through a tiny crack. So today I prayed for his parents—his father who played in my back yard, his mother whose bridesmaid luncheon I gave, his sister who can’t comprehend the tears…I had questions once again. And then I remembered that I already had the answer. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness”-II Corinthians 12:9. Thank you for your prayers; I hope you will continue to remember his family in your prayers.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Harvesting Lunch...The Perfect Pair

I have always half-joked with Beloved that our marriage vows say, “for better, for worse, but not for lunch”:). I just thought having a man at home in the middle of the day would interfere with my routine---not to mention messing up the kitchen again.


However…(don’t you love that word? It opens the door to so many possibilities :) Firstborn’s schedule now brings him to my neck of the woods a couple of times a week. What’s a mother to do? Feed him of course! One of his favorites after the weather begins to change is soup and sandwich, the soul-warming lunch classic …the stuff tv commercials are made of :)


I’ve taken the candy corns out of the stemmed pillar holder and substituted fall berries, nuts, and candles called “harvest home”. The smell is divine and makes me want to stay in and “nest”!


Firstborn appreciates a little pampering, and setting the table encourages conversation rather than ESPN watching :)


I might even let Beloved come home for lunch :)

The Ultimate Grilled Cheese Sandwich

One slice each of cheddar, Swiss, Colby-Jack, and Muenster cheeses, or any combination you like.

2 slices of Texas toast—I used thickly sliced homemade sour dough

1 package garlic and fine herb-flavored Boursin cheese, softened

Butter, softened

Place cheeses on one side of bread. Spread about 2 tablespoons of Boursin cheese on the other slice. Put the two sides together :) Spread butter on both sides. Cook in a skillet, (I like my black iron one for this), covered, over medium low heat for 6-7 minutes per side until lightly browned and the cheese has melted. ***Covering the skillet ensures that the cheese melts! Enjoy!—adapted from Southern Lady magazine.

I am linking to Between Naps on the Porch for Tablescape Tuesday and to Designs by Gollum for Foodie Friday. Thanks to our hostesses Susan and Michael Lee West! You can get to the parties by clicking their buttons on my sidebar!

Thanks for stopping by—come back for lunch anytime! Don’t forget to say hello!~~Susan

Monday, November 8, 2010

THE Cupcake of Cupcakes

I have absolutely missed you! Life has been busier than a swarm of bees around here! Wedding plans are already in full swing. The bride-to-be invited me on a road trip with her and her mother to choose the gown! The mission was accomplished, the gown is beautiful and I loved being part of the process. However, I had also promised firstborn’s girlfriend cupcakes for a baby shower and I could not, would not renege.


Although she loved the cupcakes with fondant flowers that I made for my baby shower (here), I knew this baby shower would not be all about finger sandwiches and sterling trays….a little more nontraditional. This mom-to-be is always on the cutting edge of fashion! SO….I gave the hostess this book I bought at Joann’s a while back and let her pick out the recipe and picture of what she wanted. This book is filled with both classic and unique recipes. The pictures are inspiring!


Her choice was a recipe the book calls “Sweet Sixteen” cupcakes. I refer to them as “Two-Day-Lots-of-Trouble-But Oh-So-Worth-It” cupcakes :). She wanted them to complement her pink and purple color themed shower.


We had the advantage of knowing that this baby will be a girl! The result was this pink confection with edible purple and pink glitter. I put the cupcakes in hot pink and silver foil liners to match her table.

Tricia's cupcake

Truthfully, the cupcakes will be much easier the next time (and there will be one) I make them. I learned a few tricks in the process. I am passing them along at the end of the recipe. I am joining Hoosier Homemade for Cupcake Tuesday! You can find the party here!

Golden Sour Cream Cupcakes

1 stick of unsalted butter, softened

1 cup sugar

1/8 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract

2 large eggs

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

Pinch of salt

1/2 cup sour cream or buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 and line cupcake pan with liners. Cream butter and sugar with electric mixer until smooth and fluffy. Add vanilla. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour gradually , alternating with sour cream and beating on very low speed until just blended. Do not overmix. Spoon batter into into cupcake cups, filling each about 2/3 full. Bake about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Transfer pan to wire rack and cool cupcakes to room temperature.

Note: I used sour cream and this recipe made only eight cupcakes filled as directed. The results might vary with the use of buttermilk.

Custard Filling

1 whole egg

2 large egg yolks

4 tablespoons sugar

3 tablespoons cornstarch

1 cup whole milk

1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a small heatproof bowl, vigorously whisk egg, yolks, and sugar until mixture is pale in color. Add cornstarch and mix until fully blended. In a small saucepan, heat milk and vanilla over medium-high heat until it just comes to a boil. Add half the milk to the egg mixture and mix until smooth. Pour egg mixture through a fine metal sieve back into the saucepan, and cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until cream thickens. Continue to cook for another two minutes, whisking constantly. Remove from heat and pour into a shallow flat pan. Cover with plastic wrap, making sure the plastic touches the surface of the custard to prevent a crust from forming.

Note: I made this a day before assembling the cupcakes. After filling a pastry bag with the custard I rolled the bag in my hands to warm it up and soften the chilled custard. This made it much easier to pipe into the cupcake. I tried using just a pastry tip to fill the cupcake once again. I find that I am able to get very little into the cupcake. I went back to my tried and true method using the apple corer. You can find that method here. This recipe makes more than enough to fill the cupcakes. Eat the rest with a spoon :)

Buttercream Frosting

1 stick unsalted butter, softened

2 cups confectioners’ sugar

2 tablespoons whole milk

Pinch of salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Gel food coloring, optional

Cream butter and one cup confectioners’ sugar with an electric mixer until smooth and fluffy. Add remaining sugar and mix until smooth. Add milk, salt, vanilla, and food coloring. Beat until creamy. Use immediately or refrigerate in airtight container up to 3 days. If using chilled frosting, allow it to come to room temperature and beat until creamy.

Note: I doubled this recipe to frost 2 dozen cupcakes.

Assembly: I made the cupcakes and custard filling on one day. I made the frosting and assembed the cupcakes on the second day. I used a medium star tip to pipe the frosting on top of the cupcakes. I sprinkled with edible glitter!

All recipes adapted slightly from Celebrating Cupcakes and Muffins by Michal Moses

If you have hung in for the entire post, thank you!!! You won’t be sorry! The recipe is long, but not difficult….I made it :) Drop me note!~~Susan

Saturday, October 30, 2010

I am so happy to be joing Chari at Happy to Design for Sunday Favorites! I posted this last October. I hope you enjoy it and have a safe and happy Halloween!

What goes together better than “trick” and “treat”? Tablescape Thursday and Foodie Friday of course! Susan at Between Naps on the Porch and Michael at Designs by Gollum are our gracious hostesses once again. Their buttons are on my sidebar for easy transportation. Thank you ladies for our weekly feast for the eyes and palate!


There is nothing better for a crisp October night than sharing a casual meal with good friends. Tonight we are having green salad, chili, and Mexican cornbread muffins. It’s all casual from the menu to the fun and easy table setting.


No sissy sized bowls for Beloved. He likes a big bowl of chili and these large hand painted bowls from Corsica will do the trick. The soup tureen was found at a garage sale by Lauralu at Hidden Promise. She did not want it and sold it to me-- garage sale prices without the early Saturday morning shopping! The “napkins” are cotton tea towels from Dollar Tree.


Mexican cornbread muffins “shrouded” in a cute wire basket. Stemmed black cauldrons for witches’ brew.CIMG0498

Cupcakes make an easy and fun dessert. Mary at One Perfect Bite recently posted a recipe for these delicious pumpkin cupcakes with maple cream frosting here. I think they might be one of our new favorites. And now, I am going to share with you what Oprah calls an “Aha! moment”. See those cute spider webs on the cupcakes?


This is how that spider web starts out—three circles made with black Wilton Sparkle Gel. Next, start at the center and drag a toothpick through to the last circle—instant spider web! Top with the plastic critter of your choice!


I am also joining Rhoda at Southern Hospitality for her Recipe Party. Here’s how I make Mexican Cornbread Muffins:

Mix one and 1/2 cups self rising corn meal, one medium onion,chopped; one half green pepper, chopped; one jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped; one (15 1/4 can whole kernel corn, drained; one teaspoon sugar; 3/4 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese; two eggs, and one cup of buttermilk. Pour into greased muffin tins. Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for about twenty minutes.

Thank you Susan, Michael, and Rhoda! Bone Appetit!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Pumpkins and Surprises!

Our friend Laurie @ Bargain Hunting and Chatting with Lauries is hosting My Favorite Things and I’ve got LOTS of favorite things going on here!


This pumpkin is going to the Grove tomorrow with a bouquet of fall flowers to tailgate at the Ole Miss Auburn game. As I’ve told you before—the Rebels DO know how to tailgate in high style! But this is just fun and not nearly “Halloweeny” enough :) On to Pumpkin # 2!


You’ve heard of roach motels? It seems we’re having a bit of a rodent problem here.. :)


Cinderella’s coachmen run amuck!


And what is this? The “baby left this for his girlfriend in the kitchen tonight. A bucket of spiders? A vat of witch’s brew?


Oh wait…there is something in the bottom…..a spider ring in a velvet lined box? Is this a joke?


And there he was….her boyfriend….my baby…. down on one knee with the real thing in his hand. She said YES!


Happy Halloween from a very tired, very emotional mother of the groom-to-be! This has been one of my FAVORITE days :) You can join Laurie and the party here! I am also joining The Tablscaper for Seasonal Sundays. You can find this fun party here. Thanks for sharing this with me!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Bundle of Joy Buffet

Last weekend I hosted a baby shower for a surprise baby. NO, the baby is not a surprise, but the sex of the bundle of joy will be unknown until the doctor announces it in the delivery room. What fun and excitement! The way we all used to do it!


The color scheme for the shower was completely pastel—pink, blue, yellow, green, and lavender. Cupcakes, mini cheesecakes in pastel liners, pacifier candy favors, and candy-coated almonds lined the sideboard.


I made pastel marshmallow fondant flowers to top the cupcakes and put them together them in every combination I could think of. I didn’t want to influence the outcome :). You can find details on the fondant here and the recipe here.


The favors are made with Lifesavers, icing for glue, pastel jelly beans for the nipple, and LOTS of pastel curling ribbon. They are completely edible!


The centerpiece was a mixture of fresh yellow and green flowers in this adorable bassinet I found online. I truly had hoped to take pictures of the entire table, but this baby shower almost got away from me! I thought it was more important to answer the door rather than keep clicking away!


You can’t have a proper southern tea or shower without homemade pimiento cheese tea sandwiches! I used my acorn and maple leaf cookie cutters.


For me, deciding on a beverage is always hard for afternoon events. I am not a real fan of most punches. However, this Apple Julep was a hit! It’s not too sweet and made a beautiful presentation with apple and lemon slices floating in it. Christy Jordan, who writes A Southern Plate blog, was recently featured in Southern Living and included this recipe. I’ve been reading Christy’s blog for a couple of years and she is as entertaining as she is informative.

Apple Julep

1 quart apple juice

1 cup pineapple juice

1 cup orange juice

1/4 cup lemon juice

Mix all well and serve chilled or over ice. Makes about six cups and doubles or triples easily.

I am linking to Susan @ Between Naps on the Porch for Tablescape Thursday and to Michael Lee West at Designs by Gollum for Foodie Friday. Click on their buttons on the sidebar for immediate inspiration. I’ll let you know what the “surprise” is in about three weeks! :) Thanks for stopping by—leave me a note!!~~Susan