Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Red Shoes

It is hard to be 14 and you're not sure where you fit. You want to be a part of the popular crowd. You want to be noticed, but yet you don' is an awkward age. Your friends are finding their place or at least that's what they want you to think. You are self-conscious of the way you look, the way you walk, and ....just about everything! With all of that on your mind, you have homework!

One day after a long day of school with books in tow and the pressures of a 14 year old weighing on my mind, I returned home to find a new dress displayed across my bed. It was red with an inset of navy blue...a very patriotic fashion. I was so excited that the troubles of the day were erased from my mind. I couldn't wait to put it on, but Mother said that I couldn't until I had red shoes to wear with this new dress. It would be Saturday before we went shopping so the excitement held on for a few more days. There is something to say for anticipation!

Saturday came and we were off to the shoe store. (I had been so afraid that Mother would forget, but I think it was important for her, too!) We found the perfect pair of red sling-back heels (only slight, but heels just the same!) Now I would be properly dressed. Doubt creeps would I look, how would I walk, how would I.....just about everything?

Only a week ago, I sat glued to my TV as I watched another fellow countryman take the oath of the office of President. No matter whether I agree or disagree, whether I have doubts or concerns, I watch as history is made each and every time there is a change of command. I wanted to put on my red and blue dress with my red shoes, put my hand over my heart, and pledge my allegiance to my country. NO!.....I don't still have that dress or those shoes.....who keeps things in their closet that don't fit?

I am thankful to live in this country of the free and I will pray for my President just as I always have. I will pray that God will give him wisdom as he makes decisions, that God will protect him from any kind of evil, and that God will give him good health and strength to lead our land. Why wouldn't I want the best for our President? Why wouldn't I.....I will be directly affected. Won't you join me?

Let's put on our red shoes and pray!

If the shoe fits, wear it well!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Tired, Old, and Worn Out

Have you ever felt tired, old, and worn out? I think that even when you are young, you sometimes feel that way. My youngest son told me the other day that he just couldn't believe that he would be 23 years old this year.....and that is hard for me to believe, too.

There are some joys that come with age.....a little wisdom from experience and a 10% senior citizen discount. It occurred to me this past week as I was driving through the nearest Taco Bueno (didn't feel like cooking, but I did have a salad...Nacho Chicken Salad is the best) that this is my year. On the window of the drive through was a sticker that declared that a 10% discount was available to those 55 or older. I know, I know....10% is not much but in these times, won't we all take any kind of discount we can get.

Have you ever had a pair of shoes that were showing their age? They don't look like they did the first time you pulled them out of the box. Maybe the tongue is a little crooked, the sole is wearing thin, the toe is scuffed, or the laces are frayed, yet.......they remain in the closet. (I sometimes feel and look that way, especially the thin part...How about you?) You probably wouldn't wear them in public, but they are, oh, so comfortable. After all, your toes made an impression, the heel has conformed to your foot, and the color was perfect for that special outfit. Where is that outfit?

Our Sunday Dinner this week is like those shoes...a pair of worn out, definitely old, but no one around here is tired of Besides, these dinners could give you a 10% discount (both use ground beef, at least a cheaper cut than prime rib), but you don't have to be 55 or older. No carrot and raisin salad here!

Mexican Cornbread Casserole

2 boxes off Jiffy cornbread mix
4 eggs
1/2 cup oil
2 cups sour cream
1 can cream style corn
2 tsps chopped jalapenos
1 1/2 lbs ground beef
1/4 cup chopped onion
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups Colby/jack cheese, grated

Brown ground beef and onion in skillet. Salt and pepper the mixture. Combine remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Pour half of the cornbread mixture in 9X13 greased baking dish. Place meat mixture over first layer of cornbread mixture. Layer cheese on top of the meat. Pour remaining cornbread mixture over cheese. Bake at 400 for 40 minutes.

Salisbury Steak

2 cans golden mushroom soup
1 1/2 lbs. ground sirloin
1/2 cup fine dry bread crumbs
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/4 cup onion, chopped
2/3 cup water

Mix 1/4 cup soup and all other ingredients, except water. Mix thoroughly and shape into patties. Place in 9X13 baking dish. Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes. Remove from the oven and spoon off fat. Mix remaining soup and water and pour over meat. Bake another 10 minutes.

Along with Sunday Dinner this week, I want to share an easy, delicious, calorie-free dessert. Give me points for trying!

Apple Dumplings

2 Granny Smith apples
2 cans refrigerated crescent rolls
2 sticks salted butter, melted
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Cinnamon to taste
1 1/4 cup Mountain Dew soda (yes, that is what I said)

Preheat oven to 350. Peel and cut apples into eighths. Microwave apples on high for 3minutes. Take each apple slice and roll in a crescent roll. Place rolls in a 9X13 buttered baking dish. In a bowl, melt butter, adding sugar and vanilla, mix well. Spoon butter mixture over each roll. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Pour Mountain Dew soda over the entire dish. Bake uncovered 30 minutes or until lightly browned.

Try a Sunday Dinner and enjoy the discount. Like the tired, old, and worn out shoes.......comfortable shoes food!

If the shoe fits, wear it well!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Barefoot Contessa Seamstress

A strong audio memory for me is the soft, gentle purr of a sewing machine. My mother sat at her sewing machine for many hours a day. If she was not constructing a fully lined suit with bound buttonholes for an executive secretary in our town or the principal of the nearby school, she was making a simple dress for one of her two beloved daughters. I was the recipient of so much of her handiwork. I remember standing in the chair behind her as the needle bobbed up and down with the motor purring along. That sound is still so sweet and I remember many of those special dresses that Mother made for me.

I soon wanted to learn the craft and make my first dress. It was the color of maize with shades of brown pencil-like drawings of sailboats. Sleeveless, little chic number that made me so proud.....I was only 10 years old.

"Pride cometh before the fall" or so the saying goes. Well, it goes all right! It was summer and in Texas that means heat, sleeveless dresses, and Vacation Bible School. Yes, my dress was the perfect choice for a hot, Texas day and Vacation Bible School, after all it was sleeveless.

I was so proud! I had made my own dress and nothing else would do that day. I know that I was envied by all of my friends. Who else could say that they were wearing a beautiful, maize, sailboat-bearing dress made with their own two hands and a gentle, purring sewing machine? How many other mothers would have trusted their 10 year old daughter in the driver's seat of a powerful, needle bobbing machine? I loved color, fabric, thread, buttons, gadgets, and yes, the soft, gentle purr! Did I say I was proud?

You ask....... what about the fall? Oh, its coming! At our VBS, the opening ceremony consisted of a pledge to the American flag, the Christian flag and to the Bible. Every day two boys were asked to carry the flags....and one girl was asked to carry the Bible down the center aisle to the front of the sanctuary for all to see. What an honor to be selected! That day... was MY day! All eyes on me! I was the center of attention! I had on my new dress. Hold your head high....solemn face...the aisle is a runway! Oh, no, more pride! The moment was here. First step! Hold the Bible in front of you , not down by your side. Second step! Take deep breath! Then the fall......

No, I didn't fall down the side seam split. Not just a little but about 5 inches close to my waist....a gaping hole! I couldn't stop...I had to keep walking.....all the way down the foot in front of the other. Now all eyes were on me and my sideseam was open. I couldn't put my arm down to cover it...I was holding the BIBLE for goodness sakes! Tears welled up in my eyes. I was sure that everyone knew that the tears were from spiritual emotion. They couldn't see that my underwear was showing through the opening. I stood paralyzed through the Pledge to the American flag, then a song....Pledge to the Christian flag, then a song....Pledge to the Bible, then a song. How much longer was this going to last? My knees were weak. I couldn't say the pledges, I couldn't sing. I just stood there with tears beginning to run down my cheeks. (My heart is beginning to pound just thinking about it.) There was no one coming to save me, so I must be one knew. (small sniffle) I was so glad when the flags were put in their stands and I could put the Bible on the altar table. It was time to find my place with my age group. Walk up the aisle....all the way up the aisle near the back of the church. It was at that moment that I became aware that everyone knew. (Chuckles!) I had to sidestep (more chuckles!) the entire length of the pew (and more Chuckles!) with my torn sideseam at the eye level (even more chuckles) of all my seated friends. I had no one to blame but myself....afterall, I was the proud seamstress.

That didn't stop me though. I still love to sew! I take pride in my work, but no longer am I proud. There is a difference! How can someone that is barefoot be proud? That's right....I sew barefooted. No shoes for least not under the sewing machine, not until lately. I am no longer that 10 year old and I feel strains and stresses on my body sometimes when I sew, but I have found a solution. Flipflops....the ones with a little rise in the heel. Yes, the ones that let your feet breathe, wiggle, and show off that pedicure are comfortable. Is pride sneaking its way back in? I'm still barefoot (with a flipflop underfoot)........The Barefoot Contessa Seamstress.

If the shoe fits, wear it well!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Meals on Wheels

My first experience with four wheels under foot was the ever popular set of skates. My first pair had a key that made it possible for the skate to fit your shoe ever so tightly. There were two little side pieces on each side of the toe area and a leather strap to go around the ankle. The size could be adjusted in length and width. I guess this was my first introduction to "one size fits all". (That would prove to not be a good thing later in life.) Now, it was possible for the toe pieces to come loose and the front part of the skate would flop around making travel difficult and since there was a leather strap around the ankle, a fall usually ensued. Lots of scraped knees and stumped toes....fortunately no broken bones. Cracks in the sidewalk made for a bumpy road, but that never deterred the kiddos that had a need for speed.

In all of my skating years, I never delivered meals on wheels, although it was one of my dream jobs to be a car hop at the nearby Cre-Mel where they delivered a frosty mug of root beer and a greasy hamburger to your car. They skated their way around with a tray ever so balanced in one hand held high overhead. What gracefulness and poise.

But.....2008 was the year of meals on wheels. Let me explain. I created the meal and I put on my skates got in my car and delivered my creation. My sister is a widow so her nest is really empty and our nest is empty , except that the front door has been revolving for several years now and that is OK...there is no place like home. It is difficult to cook for just one or two after so many years of family dinners, so I had this great idea that if my sister and I each cooked one main dish on the weekend and shared half of it with each other, we would have two different meals...more when there are left overs....for the price of one. WOW! It worked and for one full year we cooked never repeating a single recipe. Two meals fed her for the week with a little addition here and there. It certainly helped at my house too. We had fun surprising each other. Not only did I take the food to my sister, but I stopped by my 90 year old mother's house and left her a portion of whatever I had cooked. Nothing we made was of the gourmet venue, but good ole home cooking. Although not the traditional "Sunday Dinner", I will call them by that name. I will share with you every Sunday another pair of shoes recipes from our closet collection. We were honest with each other about our likes and dislikes, so I will share that with you also.

Here is the first "Sunday Dinner".

Chicken and Dumplin's

Boil 6-8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Save the broth for dumplin's. I have found that the best way to boil chicken is in the crock pot. Place chicken in the crock pot and cover with water. Cook on High for 3-4 hours or on Low for 6-8 hours. The broth is very clear this way.


3 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup milk

Mix ingredients. Roll out to 1/4" thick and cut in 1" strips. cut each strip into 1" squares. Drop in boiling chicken broth. Simmer 20 minutes. Let stand 30 minutes before serving. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cube chicken breasts and add to dumplin's. Enjoy!

Beef Casserole

2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 jar of whole mushrooms
1 onion sliced
3 lbs. stew meat or beef tips

Put soup in bottom of 9X13 baking dish. Add meat, onion, and mushrooms. Place foil on top. Bake 3 hours at 400 or 4 hours at 350. Your house will smell like you were in the kitchen slaving over a hot stove all day, but that will be our secret.

I hope you enjoy these tried and true recipes. Let me know what you think!

If the skate shoe fits, wear it well!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Those Shoes of 2008

As 2008 came so quickly and is now a thing of the past, I take time to reflect. I stopped making resolutions a long time ago......never stuck to them. Reflection rather than resolution sounded like a better alternative. Yes, the shoes in my closet have changed. I have worn some new ones this year. Not all of them were comfortable, but what changes the way we look often is not comfortable. Those high heels and pointed toes never promised to do anything for your feet except make you look slimmer....yeah, right! There is only one thing that makes you look slimmer and that is to become slimmer. I gave up on that a long time ago too. The shoes that I would rather wear are those ever so comfortable flipflops, that is, after you form a callous between the toes. They give your feet room to breathe, wiggle, and show off that pedicure.

Well, back to reflection....2008 was the year that I my age became the year of my birth. Let me explain....if you were born in 1980, then when you are 80, your age is the same as the year of your birth. Try to figure yours out. It might be confusing, but I don't know, it was kind of interesting for me and seemed to mark a place in my life just as 2008 did.

Oh, those traveling shoes! I used my passport for the first time in 2008. I had been out of the country...Mexico....not hard to do when you live just hours from the border, but in all of my years I had never really left the good ole US of A. This was monumental for me! My passport finally has the stamp of Canada. In May, I joined my husband, who was there for business, for a long weekend. I have always lived where there is as much daylight as there is darkness or so it seems. As I arrived in Canada, it was late in the evening, but the sun was still up. My body had some adjustments to make and I never realized that I actually felt hungry according to the sun rather than to time or my stomach. We spent the entire weekend driving through the Canadian Rockies. It was breath taking to say the least. I saw animals that I had never seen before at least not without bars between us. There was a thrill around every corner or should I say curve. Definitely wore some comfortable shoes on that trip. Not much to look at, but tennis shoes were what I needed for traipsing through the Canadian Rockies.

That was not the last time fast traveling shoes were needed in 2008. In July, we made a trip to Seattle to help some friends that are planting a church in the area. We assisted with a sports camp that they hold every summer to get accainted with the community. We met so many wonderful people and certainly enjoyed the opportunity to serve our God. Before we left Seattle to return home, we made a trip to the top, well, it felt like the top, of Mt. Ranier. Gorgeous shoes! There were times on the drive up, that I was ready to turn around. SCARY shoes! The passenger seat is right next to the edge of the road and the edge of the road is right next to the edge of the mountain. The drive up was not so pleasant, but well worth it! In the middle of July, there was snow! I am not used to seeing snow even in the winter much less the middle of July when the average temp for my neck of the woods is 100.

So much for the comfortable shoes. I didn't get to wear them all year. There were some uncomfortable shoes to be worn. The shoes of grief. 2008 was the year that I would say I love you for the last time to my dad. Daddy was 89 in March of 2008 and had lived a long, wonderful life. He had been living in a nursing facility just shy of 4 years. I feel so blessed to have had those 4 years. I saw Daddy at least 2 times every week. We shared some very happy visits. It gave me a chance to ask questions about his life and family. If he had not been ill, I might not have taken that opportunity or even thought about it until it was too late. The shoes of grief are hard to wear, but......I have found such great rejoicing in those shoes. I guess I could call them dancing shoes. I know that I know that I know that Daddy is facing Jesus today. He had looked forward to his homegoing for a long time. He was ready without a doubt. What made my Daddy happy was seeing me happy and now I can truly say that I am happy because I know Daddy is whole, happy, and rejoicing in Heaven. I will tell you another time more about these shoes, although not so comfortable, comfort can be found in them.

Oh, there are so many more shoes in my closet. The ones worn by a newborn baby's mom, a sports mom, a room mom, a brokenhearted mom, a mom of the brokenhearted, an ICU mom, a mother of the bride, a otherwise known a Mimi, and the list goes on. I have worn them all and I want to tell you about those shoes...all of them as an encouragement to you that the shoes come off and there is rest!

If the shoe fits, wear it well!