Sunday, February 22, 2009

A Favorite Pair of Houseshoes

I'm thinking spring! Tiny blossoms are showing up!

Shades of brown are being replaced with shades of green...

...and bursts of color...

...add life to spring!

As each season opens its door, I get excited. There is a season for everything. Summer brings thoughts of cool water, hot sun, tank tops, and lemonade. Autumn reminds me of gentle breezes, falling leaves, pumpkins, and new pencils. Winter.....quilts, fireplaces, flannel PJs, and breakfast.

When I was teaching preschool, we celebrated several special treat days each year. My favorite was when our lesson plans included Pajama Day. We spent the day reading bedtime stories, talking about day and night, and eating biscuits with jelly for snack. I have to admit that the first time wearing PJ's to school was a little uncomfortable, but when I saw the delight in the eyes of my little ones as they saw me in my flannel PJ's and silly houseshoes,.... I relaxed. They were just as excited to show off their slippers like Mommy's or the cartoon character that sat upon their little toes.

I love breakfast for the evening meal in winter. So before spring takes over, I will put on my favorite pair of houseshoes, my flannel PJ's and enjoy breakfast at 6 PM rather than 6 AM. These Sunday Dinner recipes are just perfect for a casual evening meal as winter fades and spring marches in.

Breakfast Pizza

1 8oz can crescent rolls
1 lb. hot sausage
1 32 oz bag frozen hash browns w/ onion and peppers
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
4 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Unroll crescent rolls and press into bottom and partially up the sides of a greased 9X13 baking dish. Press to seal perforations. Bake at 375 for 5 minutes.

Cook sausage until no longer pink. Drain. Sprinkle over crust. Prepare hash browns according to package directions and spread over sausage. Sprinkle cheese over potatoes. Cover and chill up to 24 hours if desired. Whisk eggs, milk, salt, and pepper. Pour over cheese. Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes until set.

Breakfast Biscuits

16 jumbo buttermilk biscuits
12 eggs
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup cooked and crumbled bacon or sausage

Bake biscuits according to package. Mix together eggs, salt, pepper, cheese and meat of choice. Pour egg mixture into greased 9X13 pan or muffin tins. Bake at 375 for 20 or until eggs are set. Let cool. Cut into 16 portions. Slit biscuits and put baked eggs inside.

Each biscuit can be wrapped separately in plastic wrap or wax paper. Place in gallon zip lock bag, ready to freeze. To heat, remove plastic or wax paper from frozen biscuit and wrap in a paper towel. Microwave 1-2 minutes until heated through. English muffins or pancakes could be used instead of biscuits. These are great for a breakfast on the go.

If the shoe fits, wear it well!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Looking For A Glass Slipper?

Today's girls are bombarded with images of princesses. The toy aisles are loaded with crowns, ball gowns, even imitation glass slippers. Clothing is appliqued with "Princess" or studded with a crown. Rooms are decorated for the princess within the hearts of our precious daughters and granddaughters. Many of the Disney movies contain a fairy tale princess...Jasmine, Snow White, Belle, Ariel, Aurora, Cinderella, Mulan, Pocahontas, and a new one that I hear will be debuting in 2009...beginning with "Once Upon a Time" and ending with "Happily Ever After". May I suggest that there's more to the story than beginning and end, prince and princess.

Remember with me the story of Cinderella. Cinderella lives with her wicked stepmother and her two stepsisters. She is treated poorly by those who should be her family after the death of her father. Cinderella attends the prince's ball with the help of a fairy godmother, some mice, and a pumpkin. She loses her glass slipper as she hurries home. The prince searches for the owner of the lost glass slipper, finding his princess...Cinderella, they live happily ever after.

Although, the wicked stepmother is only mentioned briefly, she makes a huge impact. Not only on Cinderella, she impacts all of us who have become stepmothers. There is a reputation to uphold or rather overcome. It is expected that we will act much the same as this wicked stepmother. As I accepted my role as stepmother of three boys, I fought the stereotype tooth and nail. I did not want to be, I was not going to be, I would not, I could not be like the wicked stepmother of Cinderella. It was a constant battle within myself. One false move, and the glass slipper could be broken. It was work!

I remember the first summer that the boys visited with us, the first time that I looked like the wicked stepmother over a box of cereal. The youngest was so angry because I kept the cereal on the top shelf...way out of his reach. I served breakfast every morning so I didn't see the need to move it, but he was used to preparing his own breakfast...Mr. Independent! I was blind to his need because I was trying so hard to be a good stepmother...truth be known, I wanted to be the perfect stepmother. I was trying for the impossible, setting myself up for failure.

I could take the lid completely off of this shoebox of glass slippers and give you a real look at my stepmotherhood. I could, but I won't. To be honest, I made many mistakes. Somethings just don't need to be relived...once was enough...I've asked for forgiveness. Through the tough times, I grew just like the boys. We all learned to adjust and learning is a process.

About a year ago, I had the opportunity to get to know this youngest stepson even better as a young adult. We spent many evenings talking into the wee hours of the morning about life issues, not about the placement of a cereal box...sharing from our hearts....well, I guess I shared from my heart and he listened. I was no longer blind to his needs. I have overcome the shadow of the wicked stepmother.

Recently, this same stepson found himself in a "pickle" and it was a "dill"y of a pickle. I was so honored when he confided in me. He knew that I would ask the hard questions, I would be honest with him, and I would love him. I am his stepmother and he cared what I thought. My heart aches for him as it has for my own children finding themselves in difficult situations. I want him to find his "Happily Ever After". I want his dill pickle to become sweet. I want the very best for him.

Did you know that dill pickles can become sweet? I didn't either, until recently. In fact, I would have thought it impossible, can be done. Try it!

Granny's Pickles
recipe of Estelle Polk

1 jar hamburger dill pickles (medium size jar)
½ to 1 Cup sugar (1 or 2 of those Tupperware scoops)

Drain the pickles. Add the sugar to the pickles and shake to mix the sugar with the pickle slices. Keep in the refrigerator and shake every now and then to mix and dissolve the sugar. It makes its own new juice. For best results, make them a day ahead.

My life is sort of like that jar of pickles. Bear with me....the pickle is me...the brine is sin....Jesus drained away my sin....He added the sweet Holy Spirit.... protected from evil, I've definitely been shook up a few times....God surrounded me with His love....and my life became new.

If the shoe fits, wear it well!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

There's a Hole in My Bucket Shoes

Have you ever paced the floor and thought you had worn a hole in the sole of your shoes? Have you ever wondered what day it is? Have you ever wondered what time it is? Welcome to my world!

My hardworking, traveling husband was to return from Russia on Sunday, but it is now Tuesday night and still no sign of him. There was a small blizzard (is there really such a thing) in Sakhalin on Sunday.

The airport was closed because of 0% visibility. I am thankful that given the conditions, someone had enough sense to cancel all flights. I always want him to be safe....but how long was this to go on. I was having trouble keeping up with the day and time on the island. He would let me know via email that he might get to leave tomorrow, but what was tomorrow. He needed to get to Korea before leaving for the states and might have to spend the night in Seoul, but what night. Since he was on the other side of the international date line, I was so confused.

I now know that he will be home tomorrow (CST) and I know when that is, I think. The bad news is that all of the Russian Chicken is gone, completely, not a drop....and it was goooooood!

The new twist was cranberry sauce. I had never bought cranberry sauce any time except during the holidays, so I was not sure of its availability. There weren't many cans on the shelf so maybe, just maybe it was left over. Cranberry season is a short one and fresh is only available in the fall. I love homemade cranberry sauce so I was prepared with some berries in the freezer. I substituted cranberry sauce for the apricot jam. Instead of a sweet and sour flavor, it was smooth and mild....enough different that my son noticed....more like BBQ. I wouldn't call it Texas BBQ, but just enough to make you say....hmmmmm?. It's all gone....I guess that says something!

Since the Russian Chicken has flown the coop, I will attempt to cook something else for my world traveler that doesn't taste like "stuff". After this traveling mishap, I'm sure he will rather sleep than eat anyway.

If the shoe fits, wear it well!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The British Russians Are Coming!

No, it is not the anniversary of Paul Revere's midnight ride in 1775, nor is it the anniversary of the Beatles first trip to the United States in 1964, but it is the day that my sweet Valentine will return from Russia. He has been weathering the frozen tundra of Sakhalin Island, an island just north of Japan. It has been a long two weeks without him.

I have never been much of a geography buff, but I am intrigued by the parts of the world that he travels. I want to know how the people live, what they wear, what they do for fun, and what they eat. This is what I have learned about this remote part of Russia through his eyes. They live in buildings not ice houses, they wear clothes (lots of them, who wouldn't in that kind of cold), they tell you how far it is from one point to the other in minutes because if you venture out in the cold you need to know how long it will take, they ski or at least there were ski slopes in the background of some pictures he sent, and they eat "stuff" with bread and more "stuff" with pastry. I asked if I wanted to know what "stuff" is and he said "I kind of recall it having the name of mystery meat from back in my younger days of some questionable school lunches." Sounds interesting, huh?

I won't tarry long here today! I have some nesting to do.....catch up on laundry, clean a little, get dishes in the dishwasher, change the linens, shave my legs, oh, how I must hurry. I wouldn't want him to think I have been slacking!

In honor of the return of my Valentine, Sunday Dinner recipes include one for British Russian Chicken and one for Goulash. Wait a minute....that's Hungarian...oh, well, isn't Hungary near Russia? I told you I wasn't a geography buff.

Russian Chicken

6-8 boneless chicken breasts
1 pkg onion soup mix
8 oz jar apricot jam
1 bottle red Russian dressing

Place chicken in 9x13 baking dish. Mix together soup mix, jam, and dressing. Pour over chicken. Bake at 350 for 1 hour covered until the last 5 minutes. Serve over rice. Now, that doesn't sound like "stuff".


1 lb ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
8 oz macaroni, cooked according to pkg.
1 can stewed tomatoes
chili powder to taste

Brown meat and onion. Add chili powder, tomatoes, and cooked macaroni. Stir and simmer for a few minutes. Serve with cornbread and good ole Texas red (pinto) beans.

Red (Pinto) Beans

1 small pkg dry pinto beans

Sort and pick out rocks and dirt. Rinse beans. Place in large sauce pan and cover with cold water plus about 3 inches. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally to make liquid thick. Cook until beans are soft. Salt to taste.

This week I am preparing Russian Chicken with a different ingredient...not sure if I can find that canned ingredient this time of year, but if not, I have some fresh frozen in the freezer and will make my own. I'll let you know how it turns out.

As I was typing the directions for Red Beans, I was reminded of the first time I ever cooked Red Beans. That story will have to wait.....remember.....I have nesting to do.

If the shoe fits, wear it well!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Flipflop or Thong

It's all about words! There's a language barrier in this country! I am convinced that there is something to the say tomato, I say tomahto. Our country is a wide expanse of land and has a wide expanse in the pronunciation of our language. Depending on what part of the country you are from will determine how you might say....pecan, for instance.

I have noticed a difference in our language depending on generation also. In the 20' was "the bees knees", in the 40' was "cool", in the 60' was "groovy", in the 80' was "fly", and in the 00' is "sweet". All meant the same thing, but each generation had a different confusing that can be. No wonder there's a generation gap.

A few years back just before Valentine's Day, as we sat around the "family table" for supper (that's the evening meal in the south), I began to tell my husband that I had ordered a pair of red thongs for my daughter and me from an independent representative...ahem.... I wish you could have seen my, then, 15 year old son's face. I think he almost choked and was at a loss for words. After an attempted Heimlich maneuver He soon regained composure and exclaimed...MahahahahahM! There's that generation gap. In his mind's eye, I had not ordered a pair of adorable, fuzzy, red, flipflop house shoes, at all. It never occurred to me that he did not know that flipflops in the 60's were called "thongs".

That was not the last time that this son and I had words about words. Not long ago, he asked me what was for supper. That evening I was preparing one of our Sunday Dinner recipes....Baked Beef Stew. He was not a happy camper. He had not ever dined on this wonderful dish, but in no uncertain terms, he let me know that he did not want soup, not for supper....that is a lunch least he thinks so. I continued on with my preparation and thought that if he didn't want soup stew, then he could just have a PB&J sandwich. Now that is what I call lunch fare...or midnight snack (Can I hear an amen?).

As we sat down for supper that evening, this son of mine asked "Where's the soup?" You all know that we weren't having soup...we were having Baked Beef Stew. Boy, was he surprised! We all enjoyed supper that evening around the "family table" and my thoughts went back to "thongs" but I never said a word.

Just what you have been waiting for.....Sunday Dinner recipes and one of them is...why, of course....

Baked Beef Stew

1 can petite diced tomatoes
1 cup water
3 T quick cooking tapioca
2 tsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 lbs. beef stew meat
4 medium carrots, chunks
3 med. potatoes, chunks
2 celery ribs, chunks
1 medium onion, chunks
1 slice of bread, cubed

In a large bowl, combine tomatoes, water, tapioca, sugar, salt and pepper. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Pour into a greased 9X13 baking dish. Cover and bake at 375 for 2 hours.

Chicken Tetrazzini

3 cups cooked, chopped chicken
3 T butter
1 small onion, chopped
1 can diced tomatoes
1 pkg spaghetti, cooked according to package directions

Saute onion in butter. Add tomatoes and chicken. Stir. Add to prepared spaghetti. Pour into a 9X13 baking dish. Top with velveeta cheese slices or grated cheddar. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

As I have been writing this post, I have been nibbling on a handful bowlful bucketful of White Chocolate Popcorn.

It is a great treat for Valentine's Day. You want that recipe, too? I thought you would never ask!

White Chocolate Popcorn

1 bag microwave popcorn, popped
2 1/2 squares of white almond bark, melted (1 1/2 minutes in the microwave)

Drizzle almond bark over popcorn in a microwave bowl. Microwave 2 minutes, stirring every 15 seconds. Pour onto waxed paper. Cool. Enjoy!

Now the next time you put on your flipflops, have a little laugh because you have on a pair of thongs.

If the shoe fits, wear it well!

Friday, February 6, 2009

To Wear or Not To Wear.....That is Not the Question

Wearing shoes has not been an option for me since I was an itty bitty. I don't like the feel of the cool, green grass under my feet, or the soft, pile of new carpet tickling the arches of my feet, or the squish of mud between my toes, or the burning sensation of a hot Texas sidewalk that could fry an egg in summer. No tiptoeing through the tulips for this Miss Vicki. I tried! Every summer I would promise myself that I would go barefoot like everyone else in the neighborhood, but shortly after stepping outside, I would end up sitting on the side of the bathroom sink with water running over my sensitive feet. I would return to the great outdoors beshoed (not sure that is a word, but you get the picture). I often wondered why I was so insistent about wearing shoes, until today when I had a flashback. Not sure what triggered that memory, but here it is.....

When I was no more than 4 years old (now that is long term memory), I stepped on a nasty, rusty nail. There was pain involved, a trip to the doctor for removal and a tetanus shot, more pain involved, and a subconscious memory (until today) that reminds me to wear shoes. In my minds eye, that was not just a small picture hanging nail......more like a ten-penny nail. Of course, I was an itty bitty, so it wouldn't take more than a tack stuck in my foot to make me have an aversion to bare feet. The head of that nail must have been the size of a dime.

Not only was my perspective on shoe wearing changed, it might have been passed on inadvertently to my children, except when one of them disobeyed, played football barefooted, stepped on metal landscape edging (pain involved), and made a trip to the ER for 104 stitches (more pain involved). I'm not sure that I really had that much influence on my children concerning shoes except that I insisted that they wear them, but we do pass on our idiosyncrasies to our offspring. Haven't you said or done something and realized that it sounded or looked just like your mother? It is after the deed is done that we see how we have influenced our precious children. Now, I know that to wear or not to wear shoes....that is not the question, but..... pass on my faith is the question. As a young mother, my greatest desire was to teach my children about faith, not about religion, about a relationship. What a daunting task, but living by faith has taught my children more than my words ever could. My children know who I am, what I stand for, and in whom I place my faith! As I faced cancer, divorce, and financial difficulty, walking by faith...step by foot in front of the other, I grew as a woman and mother of faith, a woman and mother of prayer. They may not have recognized my faith at the time, but now, as they face difficulties in their young adulthood, I take the opportunity to share with them and encourage them from my own personal experiences of God's faithfulness, mercy, and grace. Each one of them has had their own crisis of faith. It is only human to enter adulthood, leaving our child-like tendencies behind. We want to be independent, we want to stand alone. Depending on One that we cannot see might seem childish to one that wants to leave childhood behind. More than anything, I want them to be spared of any hardship, difficulty, or calamity, but I know that it is through those times that my faith became what it is today. It is my prayer for my children, that theirs will too as they learn (sometimes the hard way) to walk by faith. God loves me more than I deserve and He loves my children.

As I thought about that nasty, rusty nail that penetrated the soft skin of my foot, I was reminded of the nails that pierced the hands and feet of my Savior. The pain that He endured for me. He loves me that much! That is why I can trust Him, why I can put my faith in Him. He loves me, this I know! It is a nail that reminds me to wear my shoes, it is a nail that reminds me to wear my faith.

If the shoe fits, wear it well!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Walk a Mile in My Shoes

First Monday Trade Days in Canton,TX has been a part of my life for what seems like forever. As a child, I remember walking up and down the hills looking at all of the unusual items that others had for sale....antiques, quilts, tools, and wooden crafts. Mouth-watering food was available for the hungry and for those who weren't, but couldn't resist the wonderful aromas that filled the air.....smoked turkey legs, sausage on a stick, and corn dogs slathered with mustard....soft serve ice cream, snow cones, and funnel cakes....tart lemonade and soft drinks.

Upon passing through the gates of First Monday, my eyes were filled with the sight of bright blue bottles placed so carefully on tables. I'm not sure what anyone would want with these bottles, but to this young child they were the waves of the sea, although at that time I had only seen the sea pictured in books or magazines. I never would have compared it to what I had seen on television or those bottles would have been a shade of gray like the sea looked on our black and white Philco televison set with a piece of foil wrapped around the rabbit ears that sat atop the set. I still search the grounds of Canton for those bright blue bottles. Like these....

Each and every trip is memory making! the time my sister cut the toe out of her Keds (or Keds look-a-likes) with a pocket knife (that's one way to change from sneakers to sandles) the day my 90 year old mother decided that she wanted to go (she had no idea how big Canton had become) and she walked every step we did for seven hours without stopping except for the day when my husband loaded up his truck with items from our storage just before we were to leave for Canton. He was taking "Trade Days" literally. Low and behold, we traded that junk for some more junk as my kids would call it. But I call it a least after I transformed this 1950's platform rocker.

Now, there are miles and miles to walk. My favorite place to visit on the first Saturday before the first Monday of any given month keeps growing. You can find just about anything there.....the latest As Seen on TV merchandise, old objects refashioned, quilts, socks, objects d'art, outdoor furniture (new and old), wonderful home decor, jewelry, and boots......

just in case you need some new ones after you cut the toes out of yours with a pocket knife.

If the shoe fits, wear it well!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Time to Sport Those Bowling Shoes

"Shopping tip: You can get shoes for 85 cents at the bowling alley." I guess that gives new meaning to PayLess Shoes. I never gave much thought to the use of rented bowling shoes, but.....think about it. First of all, bowling shoes are just plain ugly (no offense to any bowlers...its not your fault), the color rarely matches an outfit, and they scream out to everyone what size you wear. We don't wear our clothes with the tag hanging out for all to see. (I wouldn't want to, unless that is, I could fit into a size 2.)

You may wonder why I gave you that tidbit of information about bowling shoes, but isn't today Super Bowl Sunday. Wouldn't they be the perfect pair of shoes to wear on Super Bowl Sunday, that is if you like to wear ugly shoes? I know as much about football as I do about bowling. I do remember the boys in the neighborhood talking about the first Super Bowl when the Green Bay Packers played the Kansas City Chiefs. Now you say, how did I remember that? Well, I was 12 and they were boys! Need I say more? I am not and never will be a football fan. I just don't get it. I think I would rather be bowling, Wii bowling that shoes needed! Or eating out of a bowl!

Speaking of bowls, today's Sunday Dinner recipes will commemorate two kinds of bowls. One is a Soup-er bowl and the other can be served at the ever popular Super Bowl party.

Taco Soup

1 1/2 lbs extra lean ground beef
1 can Ranch style beans
1 can pinto beans with or without jalapenos
1 can white hominy
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
1 (14.5 oz) can dice tomatoes
1 Can Rotel
1 can whole kernel corn
1 pkg dry taco seasoning mix
1 pkg dry Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix

Brown ground meat. Combine meat with remaining ingredients in LARGE pot. Simmer until flavors are well blended. (5 qt Crock Pot is a good container for this recipe.)


2 pkg. flour tortillas
1 1/2 lb. ground meat
8 oz can petite diced tomatoes
12 oz. grated cheese
1 onion, chopped (optional)
2 cans refried beans
1 T chili powder
1tsp cumin powder
1/4 tsp turmeric
salt and pepper to taste

Brown meat with seasonings. Add tomatoes. Cover and simmer 30 minutes.

On each tortilla, spread 2-3 T beans, meat, onion (opt.), and cheese. Fold bottom of the tortilla up over the filling. Turn in both sides. Continue to roll. Waahlaah! (Just like Taco Bell, but better....homemade!) These burritos refrigerate well and can be frozen. To freeze, wrap the burritos in plastic wrap individually. To heat, remove plastic wrap. Wrap in paper towel and microwave for 1 minute.

I have one more recipe that I would like to share that is just a condiment, but a great one and it, too, is served in a bowl.

Pappy's Hot Sauce

2 cans (16 oz) stewed tomatoes
1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce
1 can (10 oz) Ro-Tel tomatoes
1 can (11 oz) mild jalapenos, chopped and drained
1 small onion, chopped

Combine tomatoes, sauce, and Ro-Tel. Mash. Add jalapenos and onion. Simmer slowly for 1 1/2 hours. Add salt to taste. Stir often. More jalapenos and tomato sauce may be added to suit your taste.

Just when you thought that I couldn't think of any other kind of bowl......bowler hat, bowl cut, bowl me over, bowl of cherries, fish bowl, mixing bowl.......any others?

If the shoe fits, wear it well!