Saturday, November 5, 2011

A Thankful Heart

It's November. Already. Is it just me or does it seem like 2011 is literally flying by? This is the time of year when we all like to ponder all the things we are thankful for. Of course, I believe most of us, think about this much more often than just the month of November. There's nothing like a thankful heart to chase away depression, anger, bitterness, and all those other nasty feelings that creep into our lives from time to time. Above all, Christians need always remember the wonderful provision of salvation that God has given us and that we have direct access to Him and all His beautiful glory. Now that's something to be THANKFUL for. He will never leave or forsake us and He desires to have a wonderfully close relationship with us. Oh the joy! Keep a thankful heart all year long and I can tell you that you will open yourself up to God being able to use you to minister His love to others.

My family started off November off with a bang. It all started on Halloween. I was doing household chores and getting ready for a busy afternoon of activities for the kids (ballet, cheerleading, etc...). I got a call from my daughter's high school telling me that she had gotten sick and needed me to come pick her up. Strep throat has been making it's way through the family, so I sighed and thought to myself, "Another one bites the dust.". However, as soon as I picked her up, I could see that this was not the run of the mill virus or sore throat. My daughter, who has battled migraines since the age of 6 and can stand quite a bit of pain, was crying and bent over clutching her stomach. She said, "Mom, this hurts so bad. I can't stand it.". After asking her a round of questions on our way home, I decided I better get on the road to the doctor because this needed immediate attention. I ran in my house, grabbed some ibuprofen for her, changed sweaters, made a phone call to make arrangements for my other children, and dashed back to the car, in about 1 minutes time!  I turned the flashers on and made a very speedy 20 mile trip to our doctor. I have a friend who works at the clinic and she had A's chart pulled, the doctor on standby, and was ready for us when we walked in the door. A's doc listened to her symptoms, mashed around on her stomach, and asked her a few questions. We were both thinking the same thing...appendicitis. Blood work and CT scan were ordered. The blood work showed an elevated WBC, but the scan was kind of inconclusive since the appendix could barely be visualized. A surgeon was contacted in Jackson and we were sent there to let him evaluate her. My sister and Mom were in close proximity, so we all loaded up and sped there. When we got ther, "A" got an iv and the surgeon reviewed the scans and labs from earlier in the day. After an examination, an obvious decrease in her pain, and the fact that she had regained an was decided that she wasn't didn't have an appendicitis. She was given some pain meds and the surgeon told me that he was  going to be in a clinic close to our home the next day, so he said to bring her back if she wasn't back to normal. I could definitely live with that, since there was a multitude of things that could have caused her to have that painful episode and she wasn't hurting anymore, nor running fever.

"A" rested comfortably during the night, but was still having that nagging right lower quadrant abdominal pain (though not as severe). The fact that she was tender there and still having on and off pain prompted me to take her back to the surgeon that morning. I thought he would probably just reassure me and tell me that he thought she was just sore from the previous day. However, he said that he felt that the most prudent thing to do would be to advance with a appendectomy that afternoon. His colleague in Jackson could do it and he assured me that she was very good and had experience operating on children. None of my 4 kids have ever had any kind of surgery (tonsils, ear tubes, etc...). I was scared for her to have to go through it, but I'm a nurse and knew that I sure didn't want to tempt a ruptured appendix, so off we went back to Jackson with my sister. My husband was at work when I learned about the surgery, but he was not too far behind us with my parents in tow. We drove straight to the hospital, checked in admissions, was sent to same day surgery, and prepped for surgery in just under an hour of arriving at the hospital. My husband and parents made it in time to see her before they rolled her back. All the staff were super nice and we met her surgeon and anesthesiologist and couldn't have been more pleased with either of them. We were ushered to a family waiting area and 40 minutes later the surgeon was standing in the room with us, telling us that everything went well.  Talk about a whirlwind! "A's" appendix was enlarged, and really didn't show any significant signs of infection, but was still removed. It was also noted that her right ovary appeared to have a ruptured cyst on it and that could've very well been the source of her pain and tenderness. We won't know till the pathology report comes back, but I still think we did the right thing by going on with the surgery. This was on Nov. 1st and I will tell you, I definitely started this Thanksgiving season off with a heart full of thanks...Thankful for God's protection over "A", thankful for a skillful surgeon, thankful for supportive family and friends, and thankful for all of my children's overall good health. I hope all of you have a great start to this wonderful time of year and will really focus on all your blessings. Give God the glory and thanks for ALL of them.

Psalm 69:30, "I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify Him with thanksgiving.".

Monday, September 5, 2011

A Good Time on Friday Night.

Yay for the return of football season! I'm so pumped about our local high school team, the Panthers, that I can hardly stand it. Last Friday we gathered in Panther Valley for a little tailgating. It was fun and I really enjoyed visiting with all my family and friends and cheering on the Panthers during their walk through, but the food was crazy good and the highlight of the event for me. This was our second week to tailgate and I was told that I had to bring the same dish I brought last week by my Mother. And who is going to argue with their Mother? Not me. Ha! So, I made 50 stuffed jalapeno poppers. Again.

Here's the ingredients. As you can see, not very complicated. I adapted this recipe from one that I originally found on The Pioneer Woman's blog. You can find it here. I love, love, love this site for recipes and photography tips. My adaptation will make 50 poppers. It calls for 25 jalapenos, 2 bars of cream cheese (softened), 4 green onions (chopped), 1 bag of shredded monterey jack cheese, and a package of bacon. If you don't read anything else about this recipe, please read this. It's important to wear gloves when you handle the peppers or else you can get something very similar to a chemical burn. I got it the first time I made these and my hands burned for almost 24 hours. It was miserable, so please wear the gloves and do not touch your eyes!  I half them vertically and take a spoon and scrape out the seeds and the membranes. This removes the heat from the peppers and then my kids can eat them too. Next, I bring a big pot of water to a boil and add a big pinch of salt. Then, I throw in the peppers for about a minute. This helps to soften them. I remove them with a slotted spoon and let them drain on paper towels. While they are draining, I make the filling. Put the cream cheese, chopped green onions, and cheese into a mixer and mix it well.  Throw in a pinch of salt and pepper and mix again. 

You can then begin to stuff the peppers with the cream cheese mixture. Let me tell you, this is so yummy. I have to refrain from eating the filling. Once the peppers are filled, take your bacon and cut each slice into thirds. Wrap a third of a slice around each pepper and secure with a toothpick. I like to bake these on a sheet pan lined with foil with a baking rack on it. It helps for the bacon to be able to drip as it cooks. The last step is to take your favorite BBQ sauce and brush each popper generously with it. These need to bake low and slow, at 250˚ for one hour. Your house will smell so good while these things are cooking. I always get so many compliments on these Stuffed Jalapeno Poppers. They are like the perfect bite. It's a bit time consuming to make them, but there is absolutely nothing difficult about it.  

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Another really great guy in MS.

This is my dear friend Jason (pictured above with his niece). I've known Jason for as long as I can remember. His family has always been very close to mine. In fact, his sister is now my sister-in-law. Go figure. Anyways, I just wanted to give him a quick shout out on Kelly's Korner Blog since she is hosting her Show Us Your Life- Singles event this weekend. I thought I'd tell you a little something about him. Jason is in his early 30's and has a successful career in Christian radio broadcasting. The most important thing I can tell you about him is that he loves the Lord. I would say he loves the Lord, his family and friends, and MS State that order. He has been a sports genius since he was a little boy. He works very close with the MSU Athletic Dept. and will actually be announcing (is that the correct term?) the Lady Bulldogs' games in their upcoming season. Now, don't let all this "sports" talk fool you. He's so much more than a one track kind of person. He also happens to be one of the funniest people I know. He and I keep each other in stitches when we are together. He is particularly close to my sister, her husband, and their kids. My nieces and nephews love him to death. Jason always goes out of his way to take time with them and make them feel important. His own nieces and nephews could attest to that as well.
He is such a great guy and I would love, love, love to see him meet that special someone that God has planned just for him. I know he would be embarrassed at all the bragging that I'm doing on him, but I honestly can say that none of it is an exaggeration. If you are in his age bracket and have the same interests, particularly if you love the SEC, then I think Jason would be a super guy to consider getting to know a little better. Feel free to leave me a comment! Hope y'all have a great weekend!

Friday, January 21, 2011

A Really Great Guy In MS.

    Today I'm linking up with Kelly from Kellys Korner Blog She's conducting her yearly Show Us Your Singles event and I have someone to show off. His name is Larry and he's 52 (a very young 52 might I add). First and foremost, Larry loves the Lord and works with a ministry that focuses on ministering to hurting young people. He is an all around outdoorsman. He enjoys camping, hunting/fishing, hiking, tennis, and golf. He especially loves the mountains of North Carolina. Larry is definitely a people person and enjoys helping others. Oh, and kids love him too. He's a dearly loved uncle to 5 nieces and nephews and droves of "adopted" nieces and nephews as well. All of his friends describe him as a very good friend to have and whoever ends up winning his affection will be a very blessed lady.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A New Year, A Birthday, & A Broken Oven.

     Oh wow. I can't believe I've let myself get this behind on here. I feel like it's been ages since I last sat down to write anything. Let me catch you up on what's been going on around here since Christmas. First of all, I can't begin to tell you how wonderful Christmas was for me. I can't name anything extraordinary that I did, but I just know that I thoroughly enjoyed having all my kids home and being able to just spend time together as a family. My husband took the last two weeks of December and the first week of January off and spent the majority of that time in a deer stand. He also enjoys "running dogs" and my son made practically every step he made during those three weeks. The girls and I spent a nice, long day shopping with my Mom, sisters, niece, and cousins the Monday after Christmas. We found a lot of good deals and my oldest discovered the Ulta Store (mama mia!). A highlight of the day was taking the girls to the cutest self-serve yogurt shop and sampling everyone's yogurt creations.
     I'm so thankful my Aunt Nae was down visiting for the holidays too. She came over one day (out of the blue) and announced that she was going to help me get all my Christmas decorations put away. And, she did just that. She also helped my older children straighten up their rooms. She also cleaned the dust off my baseboards in the living room. Then, she went outside and helped us get rid of all those leaves that had fallen over the last two months. Hello? I couldn't believe what we managed to get accomplished in the seven hours she was here. I just kept telling her over and over, "I'd probably still be in my robe right now if you hadn't of showed up.". She laughed because she knew it was the truth.
     I was able to invite some dear friends over for New Year's Eve. Three of my friends that I started first grade with and their families. We ate lasagna, salad, french bread, jalapeno popper dip, chex mix, and brownie trifle and drank lots of sweet tea and Sprite. The food was pretty good, but oh how I enjoyed the company the most. We laughed about school memories we had and tried to catch up on fellow classmates that we had contact with. We talked about the Lord and how we were all incredibly thankful to serve such an awesome God. Some of us come from different denominational backgrounds and that's ok. We can all agree on the fundamentals of Christianity and that we are all part of the body of Christ. It was such good time of fellowship and I hope we can do it again and invite more classmates to join us.
     Last week, we had the unthinkable happen. Haha! We had a little snowstorm blow through our neck of the woods. It was mostly ice mixed with snow, but we made the most of it. The kids missed two days of school and I ate chili for about 72 hours straight (and chex mix!). My son and I share the same birthday and we got to celebrate our birthday on one of those snow days. That's him in the above picture. Isn't he a sweetie? He probably wouldn't appreciate me calling him that, but he doesn't read this blog anyway. I can't believe I'm inching closer to the big 40 with each passing year. Yikes! Well, I'm really good at not thinking about things like that, so I'm just going to push that thought to the back of my mind for now.
    Lastly, I've been kind of depressed about my oven that's been broken since Dec. 1. We had a pretty nasty thunderstorm move through our area the day before and I believe lightening came in on it. At any rate, it was very inconvenient not to have an oven during the time of the year when I do my most serious cooking and baking. I had to haul all my goods to different family members' homes to cook. And guess what? I'm still having to do it. I've had the repairman out 4 times and each time he leaves he tells me, "Well, I'm going to have to order another part and you know ma'am the part will probably be on backorder.". He's fastly becoming one of my least favorite people. Okay, I know I shouldn't blame him and take my frustrations out on him (and I don' his face). If I couldn't release this pent up frustration on him, then the next logical person would be my husband. Poor thing. Haha! I'm going to try to behave myself and be kind to everyone. Plus, a broken oven is so petty and just a glitch in the road. I have so much to be thankful for and there are so many people worse off than me that I'm going to try not to mention that silly oven again. I hope I've not bored you to tears, but there was so much to catch up on. I plan to have some new recipes up very soon. Have a great day!

Friday, December 24, 2010

A Christmas Wish.

Merry Christmas Eve everyone! I hope this weekend is full of love, laughs, and great food for all of you. I kicked off Christmas Eve with brunch with my Dad and 3 girls. We had the best time too. I don't know how we got off on this, but Dad ended up taking the heights of all the girls. Guess what? My oldest is now officially one inch taller than me. That thoroughly depressed me and I ended up going back for one more biscuit.....Tonight we will celebrate with K's family. My MIL will cook her fanny off all day in preparation for it too. I'm planning on taking oven roasted potato wedges sprinkled with sea salt, cheddar cheese, sliced green onions, and of course crumbled bacon. I'll serve them with a sour cream dipping sauce. I've also got my favorite hot jalapeno popper dip (recipe here) that I'll be bringing. Tomorrow will start off with my kids seeing what Santa left them under the tree and we will have our family gift exchange. I'm making a breakfast sausage casserole (recipe to come) for breakfast then. My parent's will stop by to see the kids' gifts and then dash home to prepare for my Mom's side of the family who will join us for lunch at my Parents' house. My Aunt P brings an icebox fruitcake that is to die for and her famous cheese ball.  My sis-in-law, J, will bring Chex Mix that I will eat on for the rest of the day. I'm making green beans cooked with caramelized onions and bacon in a sweet vinegar sauce for our lunch buffet. We'll play a spirited game of Dirty Santa with that crew and they'll be off. Then, my Parents and siblings along with all of our kids will have our family Christmas. My Dad will kick it off with reading Luke's account of Jesus' birth. We will talk about the wonderful gift that God gave us when He sent His Son to earth on that blessed day. We will talk about all the things that we have to be thankful for and give God thanks for all His blessings. Next, we'll open our presents. Finally, we'll end the night eating leftovers from lunch and popping in a funny movie for the whole family to enjoy. I'm painting a really pretty picture here, but we are an ordinary family who doesn't always feel the love towards each other on a 365 day a year basis. We get into scuffs. We sometimes "exchange words", especially me and my sisters. However, we love each other and we always get over it. Whatever "it" was. *Just keeping it real.* It's wonderful to spend Christmas with our loved ones. It's also wonderful to share that love with others who may not have family to spend it with. Christmas is about Christ. It's about giving of ourselves. Serving others. Spreading God's love. Praying for people that we know are hurting. Asking God to show us what He would have us to do to glorify His name. Being willing to do what He commands us to do. To God be the Glory forever and ever! And believe me, He will get the glory He deserves whether we believe in Him or not. Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess Him Lord and day. Merry Christmas Y'all!

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Christmas Cookie Recipe.

I've been on a Barefoot Contessa kick lately. I have a lot of her shows recorded and one afternoon last week all I did was watch Ina work her magic in the kitchen. One of the shows was right up my alley. She was entertaining a large group and gave ideas for a fairly simple menu. She served a huge pot of Lobster Corn Chowder, a fruit & cheese tray, a big Marmalade Glazed Ham, a simple green salad, and Dried Fruit Cookies. I thought to myself, "I can totally do that!". I don't have the funds to go around throwing lobster into my soup, but I can certainly handle a simple chicken corn chowder. I'm planning a little get together at my house after Christmas for a small group of friends and this is going to be my menu (provided all the recipes turn out as good as they look on tv).

 Of course, I tested the dessert recipe first. Winner! These Dried Fruit Cookies (recipe here) are really good. I had to make a few adjustments, like leaving out the nuts because I have a child with a nut allergy and I also left out the raisins (simply because I've just never liked them). Other than that, I pretty much followed the recipe as outlined. I like these because they are not overly sweet and a have a spice quality to them (because of the ground cloves, which I only used 1/2 of what the recipe called for). I can't wait to sit down with a nice cup of coffee and eat these. My kids weren't too crazy about them because they were under the impression that they had chocolate chips in them (a good guess considering I was the one baking them). They remind me so much of Christmas partly because they resemble little fruitcakes. I hope you get a chance to try these soon. I think you will find that you will reach for them every time the cookie jar is opened. Which reminds me...I've got to get rid of that thing before I begin the new year with an extra twenty pounds. Enjoy!