Friday, August 24, 2012

Celebrating: Girlfriend weekend!

One of my BFF's, Cindy contacted me last month to see if I was interested in joining her and two other friends for a Weekend Getaway. Since I've not had a vacation in a couple of years, I jumped at the chance!
So last weekend, Cindy, Sherry, Hallie and I loaded up the car (and I do mean loaded) and headed up to Pigeon Forge, TN.  Her fiance Greg graciously donated his Time Share, so we had a fabulous 3 room condo overlooking the little town of Pigeon Forge with a magnificent mountianview backdrop.

We had to laugh before we left, because we were e-mailing our drink/snack contributions and it appeared we would need the turtle shell for the top of the Suburban since we were each bringing so much stuff for cocktails!  Considering none of us are "lushes" this proved to be a standing joke throughout our trip.  Once unloaded, it did look a little like we were going to film an episode for "Girls Gone Wild."  We did have some good Ruby Relaxers and Mango Margarita's!

Saturday morning we enjoyed a leisurely start to our day, then headed to a place called Cade's Cove.  We stopped at Subway for a picnic to take and headed up the mountians.  Cade's Cove was a settlement dated back to the 1800's complete with houses dotted throughout the area with several Churches.  So hard to fathom the way people lived so long ago.  I can hardly imagine living without cable, much less electricity! It was so pleasant, eating our picnic subs and enjoying a spectaular view!

Saturday night we headed toward Gatlinburg!  My, has it changed in the 20 years since I had been there!  I recognized nothing!   We walked around the town and found a great place for a late night dinner - Smokey Mountian Brewery.  It proved to have good food and good entertainment, as well.

Sunday afternoon was spent laying around the picturesque pool deck.  It was a cloudy afternoon and just perfect for a good book and a Mike's Lemonade!  It felt good to be lazy!  We decided to take in a dinner show Sunday night and of course, we had a number of choices.  We settled on the Hatfield & McCoy show, which included a dinner of Possum soup, Fried Chicken, Pinto Beans, Mashed potatoes, Rolls, Cornbread and chocolate pudding parfaits.  The show was just corny enough to be entertaining!
After our show, we were not ready to go home, so we stopped at one of the many Putt-Put courses on the strip.  Dresses, high heels, and mini golf are a lethal combination!  We had quite a lot of laughs and mishaps throughout our course!

Monday morning was spent at the Christmas Village, where we meandered through room after room of every Christmas decoration imaginable!  My friend Cindy was in "Hog" or should. I say "Elf" Heaven!  Her house would rival the Biltmore House at Christmas time!   We ended our short trip at the Applebarn Restaurant, where we enjoyed yet another good meal of southern delights.  They had a great gift shop, candy store and winery to wonder through before we loaded back into the car and headed home.

It was such a fun weekend!  We did alot of giggling, alot of eating and even more talking!  There's just nothing like a  Girlfriend weekend  to rejuvenate the soul!  It just reminds me of how much I appreciate all my girfriends and the joy they bring to my life.   The best part of the trip - spending time with my BFF Cindy & adding 2 new girlfriends!   And, in case you were wondering, all the "libations" that were  hauled in, were hauled anticpation for another trip!  Can't wait!

Ya'll come back!

May the lord bless his people with peace and happiness and let them Celebrate!  Psalm 64:10

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Celebrating: My friend Judy!

I came here on Thursday to write this blog.  If you read my previous blog, you know that I had a MAJOR catastrophe.  I have to be honest with you, I was so devastated , I just didn't have it in me to write.  And that would be a tragedy in itself, because you would not hear about one of my favorite people.  My friend, Judy.  Many years ago, Judy came to us from Minnesota to become the new Youth Director at our Church.  This particular time period in my life was when I had strayed away from being a regular "Church goer" and more of an Easter/Mother's Day/Christmas goer.  Heck, I'll admit it, Saturday night usually turned into Sunday morning and brunch at Bennigans was far more appealing than Church.

My sister Charlene was a youth adviser at Church, so she and Judy became fast friends.  Charlene kept telling me how much fun Judy was and that I really needed to meet her.  My response..."I already had enough friends."  We still laugh about that statement, BTW.  Charlene finally wore me down with this concept..they were starting a singles group and would I be interested in coming to a meeting.  So the story goes...I met Judy... she and Charlene lured me back to Church and to top it all off she eventually asked me to become a Senior High Youth leader.  And the rest is history!  In fact Charlene. Judy and I were housemates for a couple of years until they both got married!


Judy has had to face many trials over the past years.  To make a very sad and long story short and to also try not to diminish the facts, here is a very brief synopsis. Three months into marriage in 1993 her husband Troy was diagnosed with a brain tumor.  Unfortunetly, Troy lost so much that take we take for granted.  He lost his ability to speak, but he spoke in so many other ways.  He was confined to a wheelchair, but he "walked" taller and stronger than most men.  His comprehnsion was compromised, but he was sharp as a tack and kept the same ole Troy sense of humor. Many would say that Judy and Troy had been denied their future .  But Judy didn't let the naysayers take control.  She made a life for both of them.  Troy went everywhere with Judy! They went to the movies, sports events, concerts and even skiiing in Colorado.  Many surguries and close calls came and went throughout the years, but Judy remained the rock that Troy needed.  Sadly , we lost Troy 5 years ago after his long and difficult illness. 

And throughout the many years of Troy's illness, she maintained a full time job. After being our Youth director for many years, she started working with Canine Assistant.  She became familar with them after Troy was matched with his own service dog, Kay.  She worked with families similar to her own story, to help them find the exact partner (dog)!    

Judy and Troy had once dreamed of working together in the Mission field.  Now that dream has become a reality for Judy. She is headed to Guatemala in September. Even though she will be pursuing it without Troy by her side, I just know that he will be with her in spirit!  She has touched the lives of so many people here and will now continue to do that with our neighbors further south!  She will continue to enrich lives and spread her contagious enthusiam for life and all that it has to offer

Of course, we could not send Judy off without a proper goodbye!  We had a farwell party for her just to let her know how much she has meant to us and to give her our best wishes.

Judy's Favorite dessert
Peanut Butter pies

And to end on a bright note...Judy has found a new companion, Bob.  I had the pleasure of finally meeting Bob last week and I have to say, he is terrific!    I'm so happy that she is getting this opportunity to start anew, once again!

I love ya, Judy!

Ya'll come back!

May the Lord bless his people with peace and happiness and let them celebrate.  Psalm 64:10

Monday, August 13, 2012

Blogging Tragedy

Last week a tragedy occurred here at Sissy Celebrates!  I accidentally deleted most of my posts.  I was able to find them and re-post.  Unfortunately, if you subscribe, you received them all again in your reader today.  I just wanted to take a moment to apologize for filling up your reader today.  I hope for both of our sake that this doesn't happen again.

Actually the above was written by my sister in law, Niki, on my behalf.  She has spent her whole day restoring my blog for me.  Last Thursday I accidently deleted 25 of my posts.  I have to tell you, I was physically sick.  I honestly felt like I had lost "part of my soul."   I had no back-up and my words were gone.  I never realized how passinate I was with writing (this blog) until this happened.   Niki has given me a priceless gift.  Thank you for getting my words back! 

Thanks for following!!

Y'all come back!!

May the Lord bless his people with peace and happiness and let them celebrate!  Psalm 64:10

Celebrating: Life in the Treehouse!

Celebrating: Life in the Treehouse!: Treehouse Apartments, that is!  Many years ago, poised to take on the world, I moved into my first Apartment.  One of my BFF's Cindy and I decided it was time to take the plunge and start our new life "on our own."  So one Saturday we hit the pavement to find "the" perfect apartment.  Didn't have to go far - it was only 5 minutes from my parent's and perfect it was.  It was a 2 bedroom 2 1/2 bath townhouse that had just been renovated.  But the perfect part had to be the pool deck!  Large pool surrounded by a large sunning area and more importantly a large volume of boys!

We embraced the "single and without parents" life quickly.  Nothing compares to the satisfaction of your very first "home away from home." We stayed out late, threw parties and played the stereo loud. Life was good!  Then a month after we moved in, 2 girls moved in next door and we immediately welcomed them to our new found world.  Margaret and Karen became a great addition to the party.  Margaret especially, since Karen went home frequently.  I still remember vividly on summer Saturday mornings getting up at 8:00 to take a towel to reserve a good spot (because the right spot was everything) at the pool, going back to bed and then sashaying back to the pool around 11:00.  I realize now that we probably made quite a few people mad using this tactic!   A couple of years later Margaret's friend Donna came down from Wisconsin to scope out Atlanta, and like Margaret (also from Wisconsin)  they both planted their roots here.

Of course, all good things come to a close...Margaret and Cindy got married and Donna and I set out on new adventures as well.  It was a fun three years, we had the best time and I think we were the first to pioneer the phrase...."If it happens at (Treehouse), it stays at (Treehouse)!"

And, you know how life sneaks up on you, you just don't stay in touch as often as you like.  Cindy & I see each other often, but Donna & Margaret live about 25 miles away.  It doesn't sound like very far, however if you are familar at all with Metro Atlanta you can relate.  So I decided it was time for a "Treehouse Reunion."  It had been a couple of years since we had all gotten together, and I REALLY wanted an excuse to use my 4th of July tableware!  So brunch for 4 using the "4th"  plates sounded like a plan!  

4th of July plates with "take-home goodie"
Apple jelly in a champagne flute and homemade bread

I decided on a breakfast brunch.

Sunrise Mimosas (orange juice, cranberry juice and champagne)

Tropical Fruit with toasted coconut
Stuffed french Toast  -stuffed w/ strawberry rhubarb jam/cream cheese or  honey/cream cheese
Maple bacon
Pepper, onion and Tomato Tart
Coffee, Juice

The tart was the star in my book!  There was no recipe - I simply looked through the fridge and started pulling out ingredients I thought sounded good.  I had a bag of yellow, orange and red mini peppers, a red onion and some slow roasted home grown tomatos from a casserole  made earlier.  Pulled out eggs and cheese and a trip to the backyard for fresh basil.  And of course, I had roll-out pie shell on hand, because you know my relationship with dough. It turned out really good, if I don't say so myself!  

The Tart!

Stuffed French toast

We talked and laughed and had a great time catching up and reminiscing.  Remembering soaking up the rays  for hours, our only care in the world was deciding what to wear out that night. There were so many stories to remember (hence the What happens at Treehouse phrase).  I am so glad we have stayed in touch.
We may not see each other often, but when its does happen it makes me appreciate the value of friendship.

Ready to eat! just can't have enough!

Ya'll come back!

May the Lord bless his people with peace and happiness and let them celebrate!  Psalm 64:10 

*Originally posted  July 27, 2012

Celebrating: Summer's of "Yesteryear"

Celebrating: Summer's of "Yesteryear": I love summer!  As a child in elementary school, that last day seemed to take forever to arrive.  As I recall, I wore my Easter Dress on the last day, because after all it was a "special occasion" in my book.
Summer days were spent outside all day and into the twilight.  We only came in to have lunch or to put on our bathing suit to play in the sprinkler. Friends Terri, Teresa and I were inseparable!  We played Kickball, 4 Square, Colors and Hop scotch all day long.  Then one summer, the best thing happened...Terri's dad built a tree house in their backyard and we spent many hours up there playing games and talking about boys.  We even spent the occasional night up there, when we were at at each others house for a sleepover! 

We always took two trips in the summer.  One week was spent in Calhoun City, MS to my mom's childhood farm.  What a great place for a city girl to visit!  We would venture under the house in search of fresh eggs, roam the dewy garden for vegetables first thing in the morning,  and sit outside under the huge oak tree and churn fresh peach ice cream in the evening.  Talk about eating at its finest!  There were horses to ride, cows to pet and blackberries to pick.  Visiting the farm and my grandparents, was and still remains one of my fondest childhood memories.

Our other vacation spot was Florida, either Daytona beach or Panama City. I still remember getting up at about 2:00 in the morning, sleeping on a pallet in the back of the station wagon and waking up just in time to top the hill to see the Atlantic ocean.  It was such a magical sight.  We always had a tradition -, whoever saw the ocean first whistled.  I loved the sound of 5 whistlers whistling in harmony! We spent the morning at the pool, came in for lunch and stayed 2 hours, because you did not dare get in the water right after you had eaten!  Afternoons were spent at the beach where we would play in the sand and jump the waves.  In Daytona there was a Boardwalk carnival that we would go to and ride rides and spent lots more money than it cost for a small stuffed animal.  My favorite was always the spin art and I would proudly take home a picture every year as a souvenir.

Another summer highlight was setting up a Kool Ade stand.  We didn't have the run of the mill stand, we had a stand with not only Kool Ade, but homemade treats made by Mom.  We had popcorn balls, cookies and peanut butter candy!  One day we ran out of peanut butter candy and my sister Charlene (who was no more than 4-5 at the time) went  in for more and came back with something she made.  Apparently, we were out of candy, so she made her own. Peanut butter, sugar, salt and pepper mixed together and painstakingly rolled in balls. I can't recall if we sold any, but my guess is that if we did we may have had an unsatisfied customer!

Summer was the best and mine was a continuous Norman Rockwell painting!  We may have had just one TV in the house (without a remote!) , no computer, no Gameboy, no i-pod or pad, but I wouldn't change a thing.  No sireee, nada, nothing. No hand-held devise in the world can replace the memories I have of farms, beaches, Kool Ade stands,  a slice of ice cold watermelon with juice running down my arms, or the sight of my best friend at the door first thing in the morning waiting for you to come outside and play.   It was a good childhood, spent with good friends and filled with good memories!

Mom's Peanut Butter Candy

3 cups sugar
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1/2 stick butter
cook in pot to a soft boil (approx 3 minutes)
add a jar of marshmellow cream
3/4 cup peanut butter (creamy or crunchy) 
1 tsp vanila 
stir till all incorporated 
pour onto sheet pan, cool and cut

Ya'll come back!

May the Lord bless his people with peace and happiness and let them celebrate! psalm 64:10


*Originally posted  July 20, 2012

Celebrating: Home Growns!

Celebrating: Home Growns!: Tomatoes, that is!  Is there anything more delicious than that 1st home grown tomato sandwich of the season?  Its amazing how something SO simple can be SO good! For me, the perfect sandwich is sliced tomatoes slightly salted and peppered on white bread thickly spread with mayo. And, if you don't have a little tomato juice dripping off in your hand, you just haven't made it right!  On into the season I will change it up a bit, but that 1st one has to be just like that!  For me, that sandwich signals summer is coming!

From Eric's Garden!
I plant tomatoes every year in pots on my deck.  This year it is... Susan: 3 tomatos VERSES various critters and bugs -the rest that were on the vines!   I haven't had much luck this year, but the good news is that my BIL, Eric has! While they were on vacation this past week I fed their little cat, Chloe, and was given "carte blanche" of the garden.  The first day I picked a sackful, brought them home and tried to narrow down what I wanted to do with them.  I decided that since it was so hot, a bowl of gazpacho would be delightful.  So I got down the blender and prepared to get started.  Gazpacho is another one of those things that doesn't really require a recipe, so I opened up the crisper and started taking out veggies. Onions, bell pepper, cucumber and of course tomatos.  Cut and into the blender it all goes. I just used 1/4 of a cucumber since I'm just not a cucumber fan, however when I tasted it, all I could taste was cucumber, so I just started adding tomatos.  Finall got it to the consistency I wanted, added a bit of tabasco,  a squeeze of fresh lime a pour of EVOO, S & P,  gave it another whirl and  it was just like I wanted it to be!  Cool and refreshing. But, since I had to add more tomatoes than I had planned, I had depleted my stash and ended up with about half a gallon of gazpacho!    Good thing I like it!

So next time I went to feed Chloe, I had no choice but to raid the garden again! This time I knew exactly what I was going to do with my tomatoes. Fresh uncooked tomato sauce is one of my all time favorite summer meals.    My friend Becky on the Contessa board talked of her uncooked sauce several years ago and I have been making it ever since.  Its another one that requires no recipe - just let your tastebuds lead your mind!  Chopped tomato, red onion, bell pepper, capers, artichokes, cilantro or basil, top with EVOO and a little red wine vinegar and serve over a bowl of pasta.  You can also top it off with a little crumbled goat cheese or shaved parm.  Just whatever suits your mood at that moment!  No rules here!  I'm sure you've heard the expression "summer on a plate", well I think that expression was made just for this dish!

"Summer on a Plate"

I still have a few tomatoes left from my stash (thanks Eric for your green thumb), which just may turn into a fresh salsa this weekend!  I have a large bag of small tortillas that will make a great batch of chips.  Luckily my tomato cravings will get satisfied for a couple more months here in the south, as the local farmers markets have been well stocked. Tomato Basil soup is going to be my next great Tomato Caper!

Ya'll come back!

May the Lord bless his people with peace and happiness and let them Celebrate!  Psalm 64:10.

*Originally posted  July 12, 2012

Celebrating: Fireworks & the 4th!

Celebrating: Fireworks & the 4th!: One Nation under God! How lucky are we, as Americans, to wake up in this great nation every day.  I am afraid that I take this privilege for granted.  I complain about this heat yet half way across the world there are men and women defending our Nation, in far worse conditions, to ensure that I have  freedom.    So on the 4th I will celebrate their sacrifice for me, as well as the sacrifice of our forefathers who had the great vision of the United States of America. Yes, sir, I am proud to be an American!

And celebrate we do...road races (Good luck Peachtree runnners!)  parades, cookouts and the grand finale...fireworks! We have always been fortunate enough to have fabulous fireworks displays on the 4th.  Lenox Square has a great one along with a wonderful musical program and you just can't beat Stone Mountain's show!  However, usually half of the metro Atlanta  is at one and the other half is at the other - which generally involves a 2 hour traffic jam that kinda erases that  "feel-good" feeling about your fellow American.  So where do I go??? I go to Snellville!  Snellville is a little town right next to me and they have been doing a show for years. In fact, I have quite a few shows to choose from...Norcross, Lawrenceville and now Lilburn is having their 2nd annual show.

We always get there early to ensure a good spot and also to tailgate - for what would the 4th be without food?  We were keeping it easy this year as Charlene and her family were leaving for vacation early the next day. My contribution was cupcakes (so easy with a mix) and I also made a pasta salad.  Pasta salad is one of those foods that require no recipe.  Open up the pantry and just dump in what sounds good!  Since it was going to be outdoors, I decided on a mayo free salad.     I peered in the fridge and pantry to see what I had on hand  and decided upon a mediterranean inspired salad.  Boiled up some bowties and added capers, marinated artichokes, chopped onion,  green olives, tomatoes and feta cheese poured Italian dressing over the it and there you have it!   Turned out so good! In fact, its what's for dinner tonight!    I'm adding shrimp and it will make a terrific cold summer salad to be enjoyed with a glass of crisp white wine!

Pasta Salad
leftovers great with addition of of shrimp for an easy light summer supper!

Cupcakes - made with a mix, but decorated by me!

It was a fun night with great food, great company and a great show!

Ya'll come back!

May the Lord bless his people with peace and happiness and let the Celebrate!  Psalm 64:10

*Originally posted  July 6, 2012

Celebrating: The Red, White & Blue!

Celebrating: The Red, White & Blue!: Over the years, I have adopted the idea of decorating for the 4th! This year I saw a few patriotic ideas on Pinterest that I just HAD to do!  Of course, I found out the hard way, that the mantel decorations needed to be unbreakable.  Imagine waking up in the middle of the night to the loud clang of metal hitting marble!  Thankfully it was not the crystal candle holders, that are now up there just for a photo op!  I'll just say Kris will be glad when the decorations are gone and she can have her mantle back!

Back to Pinterest...I had seen a couple of different ideas that gave me ideas on using stuff I had on hand. Love when that happens!  I had a canvas and red duck tape to make the focal point of the mantle.  All I had to get was the blue star on the middle.  Last Sunday, my niece Ava and I made Popsicle stick Flags that turned out so cute!    We had such a fun time making them! I had several tin buckets in my garage, so I just added a little red, white and blue bling for a great Flag holder. A red painted mayonnaise jar with a ribbon makes a perfect non-breakable vase for the daisies!  Everything else was from my own collection of decorations. 

Popsicle Flag

Blank Canvas & Duct Tape

Holiday Mantle

And the now best new addition!  Mom and I were at an Estate sale a couple of weeks ago where most of the stuff was a little over priced, so when I spied this set, I figured it would be much more than I would be willing to spend, especially when I picked a piece over and it said "Pottery Barn."     Much to my delight, they were labeled $1.00 for each piece, and just $2.00 for 4 napkins.  Needless to say, they came home with me! Gotta love a bargain!

Mug & Snack Plate

Let's hear it for The Red, White and Blue!

Ya'll come back!

May the Lord bless his people with peace and happiness and let them Celebrate! Psalm 64:10

*Originally posted  July 3, 2012

Celebrating: My Own Little Oasis

Celebrating: My Own Little Oasis: What is my own little deck!  When I bought my house 10 years ago, I had the standard postage size concrete slab, that was a sorry excuse for a "patio" in my opinion! However, I did have an awfully small backyard, so I couldn't expect much.  So, one of my 1st major home improvements was to build a deck, so that I could enjoy my little backyard.  My friend Chris designed and built the deck and he created just what I needed.  Since my "lawn" is taken up by deck, now, I have potted flowers scattered about for color.  I also have my tomato plants in pots, as well as several herbs.  I have several green tomato's and am impatiently waiting for them to turn red.  Unfortunately a bird  enjoyed my 1st one!  I have  basil, rosemary, cilantro, parsley, dill, thyme, dill and chives.  I love having them at my disposal.  I would also like to get a mint plant, as well.   I found a great recipe for Mojoto's!

I so enjoy getting up early on Saturday mornings, go out on the deck with a cup of coffee just to sit and do absolutely nothing but soak in the goodness for a few minutes. It's impossible to look up at that periwinkle blue sky, listening to the chirp-chirp of the birds, smell the fresh air, feel the sun warm your skin, and not take a moment to thank God for our earth and the glory of nature. It is a calming, and peaceful way to start a hectic weekend! 

Often I will take my breakfast out there to continue my lazy morning! And, if I really want to linger (translate - put off doing housework), I will take along a  magazine or book.   As it gets warmer, my hot cup of coffee is replaced by iced coffee and the Pioneer Woman has the very best recipe for iced coffee that can be kept in the fridge and ready at your beck and call!  (I call it my "Suebuck" coffee - get it - Susan /Starbuck).   It was a sad day last Saturday when I realized I had forgotten to make another batch for the fridge!

And at the end of the day, I often find myself back on the deck.  The coffee mug is sometimes replaced by a wine glass and  I sit in the dusk, gazing into the darkening sky, the stars peeping out, the June bugs chirping , perhaps a gentle breeze on my arms and it is impossible not to stop and thank my God for another day on his earth.    It's a calming and peaceful way to end the day!

Pioneer Woman Iced Coffee

1 # ground coffee  
8 quarts cold water

Pour coffee in large container and cover with cold water.  Cover and let sit at least 8 hours (or longer in you like)  When time has passed, grab a separate container and place mesh strainer lined with cheese cloth over container.  Slowly pour steeped coffee through strainer. Must be patient at this point, because you will want to put this in the fridge til it is cold!  Add your favorite creamer, sugar or sweet in low.  When you really want to indulge she suggests Vietnamese coffee.  Add a spoonful (or 2)  of sweetend condensed milk to the coffee!  I use Sugar free hazelnut liquid creamer  - just as good and half the calories!     

I half this recipe! keeps in the fridge for at least 3 weeks!

Ya'll come back!

May the Lord bless his people with peace and happiness and let them Celebrate!

*Originally posted  June 20, 2012

Celebrating: Family Reunions!

Celebrating: Family Reunions!: This past weekend was spent in Collierville, TN a small quaint little town in the suburbs of Memphis.  The reason - our annual Griffin Family reunion, commonly referred to as "The Get Together." So on Saturday the masses (unfortunatetly not all of us) gathered for a day of great food, great stories and great fellowship.  My Aunt Ouida hosted all of us this year in her beautiful home in Collierville.  My cousins Al & Ann welcomed me into their home in Collierville to spend Friday evening.  My cousin Alvin has made some very original furniture and other really unique items that are just amazing.  Ann has a love of "collecting" and it was fun looking over her grand collections and seeing the displays Al had made for them.

The "Griffin" clan (my Mom's family), grew up in a small, small town in Mississippi, where the days were long, the chores were tough, the money sometimes scarce, but the love was fierce!  There were 5 sisters and 1 brother. There are 4 remaining sisters today, but the memory of their brother, sister, Mother and Daddy remains even after all these years.  For the "Griffin" girls love to tell familiar old tales of their childhood and keep the memories alive for all of us! Such fun we had reminising about the lazy (for us kids, that is!) days of summer spent on the Farm in Calhoun City.

Each of my aunts have inspired me in many ways. All of them have shown me a love for God, a generous spirit, a helping hand and passion for life.  I am so proud of all the "Griffin" girls and am glad they have been a part of my life.  They have shown me courage, faith and love and I feel honored to have them as my family.

Aunt Ruby, Aunt Niece, Aunt Oiuda and Mom (Liz)

And, as usual, a great feast was put on the table!  All four of them love to cook, so you can just imagine the "spread" we had!  Of course, there are a few foods that HAVE to be present (in my humble opinion!)...fried okra, field peas, green beans and stewed corn.  Honestly, you would have had to have 2 plates just to get a little bite of everything!   Plus, we had enough home made desserts to choose from that would rival the finest restaurant!

this is just a sample of the feast before us!

Another item that could not be absent from the table is Molasses Candy.  Growing up on the farm was often hard, but as I understand it, this candy was a special treat! Peanuts were plentiful, as was molasses and making this candy was often  a great winter past time. They would go out to the barn and pick off the peanuts and then parch (roast in wood burning oven) They would then use a sausage grinder to grind the peanuts. To this day, their eyes still  light up recalling the memory of making Molasses candy!  So, I would be remiss in not posting this favorite childhood treat!

Molasses Candy

1 cup Molasses
1 cup sugar
2 cups ground parched peanuts 
1 TBS butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp. baking soda

Cook sugar and molasses to the soft boil stage.  Add butter, vanilla and baking soda.  Stir thoroughly.  Add peanuts.  Mix well.  Pour into a greased platter.

It was also great to see Uncle George, Jerry, Bobby, Carmen, Collin, Griffin,  Amy and Jessica and to meet the newest addition to our family, adorable little Gaston, who kept us entertained all day!
you all made my day special!  We did miss the ones who were unable to attend this year - but next year  will be here before we know it!
Ya'll come back!

May the Lord bless his people with peace and happiness and let them celebrate!  Psalm 64:10

*Originally posted  June 1, 2012

Celebrating: One "Greyt" Lady!

Celebrating: One "Greyt" Lady!: I am very sad today.  For today I learned of a cyber friend's passing.  I have been out of town, so just read the news this morning on the cooking board we both loved.  Although I never formally "met" Carolea, I have known her for several years.  We shared a mutual love of cooking.  She was funny, spunky, quirky, and a down right nice person.  She was a great volunteer.  She was very involved in Greyhound rescue groups and owned many herself over the years.  When she moved into her "schoolhouse" dogs were not allowed, so she had to give up  her beloved "greys."  But that did not stop her from volunteering for the group, she continued until they recently disbanded their group.  Carolea also volunteered every Monday at the Newton Medical Center, a job about which she spoke fondly.  She was a driving force in planning each Class reunion and was well on her way to planning the next one scheduled!  She loved her "Newton Red  Hat" ladies and spoke frequently of their monthly meetings.  She also loved her new home - "The Schoolhouse".  It was her childhood schoolhouse which had been converted into apartments.  I will miss hearing about the monthly "tea fights," which is what she called the monthly potluck.  She was always stirring the pot, trying think of some unusual and clever dish to serve.  And it was always the first thing to go!

And how she loved cookbooks!  She had quite a collection and could be very content holed up reading and re-reading a cookbook! She was also a great lover of books and spent many hours pouring over her books!  Her love and curiosity of cookbooks and food were contagious!  She often posted a recipe on our board from an old cookbook that would make us all laugh and create quite the hub-bub!
 We spoke on the phone every once in a while and she was quite the character! I loved hearing her old stories of growing up in Newton as the Butcher's daughter and then branching out and becoming a young career woman in the 50's/60's!  She had some great stories to tell!

I will miss her, that is for sure!  But I will smile and think fondly of her when I have a glass of Iced Coffee, a plate of shrimp scampi or a fried egg sandwich!  And when I open a cookbook,  I will think of Carolea and remember how she enriched my life with her great spirit!

Rest in Peace my sweet friend with your beloved greys curled up with you!

May the Lord bless his people with peace and happiness and let them celebrate.  Psalm 64;10.

*Originally posted  May 29, 2012

Celebrating: Mothers!

Celebrating: Mothers!: Mother's Day, a time to celebrate "Mother's" and thank them for the love they pour out for us daily!   This past Mother's Day, I was pleased to celebrate with three Mothers. My mom, my sister Charlene  and my sister-in-law, Niki. Now I am a "mom", too - only to the 4 legged variety, but I still consider them my babies...I know - call me crazy!  I'll tell you a little about my favorite "moms"...

My mom is my hero.  Pure and simple.  My goal in life is to emulate her actions.  Her love of Christ, her love of family, her love of friends and her love of giving.  What a goal I have set for myself!  She sets an example for me daily with her encouragement, kindness and zest for living. Have you ever heard the saying  "walks the walk and talks the talk" - well she does just that.  She sets a precedent with Christian values, a generous spirit  and love.  She inspires me to be a better person and a better Christian.  She baffles me with her "Bible" knowledge and memory of scripture.  I am so proud to be her daughter!  I think she is a great example to follow!

My sister, Charlene, is another great inspiration.  There was a time in our lives when we were just "siblings,"
but I can honestly say that we are now  "sisters."  Charlene was instrumental in guiding me back to Church and for that I will be eternally grateful.  She is such a great mother to my nieces Laurel and Emily.  A real "hands on" mom in a way that doesn't interfere with the lifestyle of two teenage girls.  Laurkel and Emmy are so lucky to have her as a Mom!  She is generous in allowing me to be a part of their lives and I am as proud of them as a mom could be!  They are beautiful, sweet, funny and and just over-all 'well rounded" girls much to Charlene's credit!

My sister-in-law Niki, what a great addition to our family!  Thanks Chuck!  The very first time we met her we knew she was the "one!"  She is mom to our little Ava. What a wonderful pair they are - seeing them together is so much fun to watch.  I know she will teach Ava to be a strong faith based woman as well. Ava is on the same road as Laurel and Emily to becoming super stars (in this Auntie's book!)! Niki is such a great influence to me, as she is the one who inspired me to create this blog and helped me get started.  I thank her for starting this journey!

On Mother's Day we gathered around the table to celebrate the mom's.  Oh, another thing my mama taught me - how to cook and entertain! The Gray clan loves to eat and she taught me well, I think!    We had a great night of fun, fellowship and food to honor the moms in our life!  A great thing to "celebrate" in my opinion!

Ya'll come back!

May the Lord bless his people with peace and happiness and let them CELEBRATE!

 *Originally posted May 16, 2012

Celebrating: Meadowcreek Elementary!

Celebrating: Meadowcreek Elementary!: As stated in my previous post - I love to read!  So a match was "made in heaven" when I had the opportunity to volunteer at a local school library. Several years ago I volunteered at another local elementary school as a teachers aid, which turned into surrogate Room Mother and loved the experience.
However "life" seemed to just get the way (as it always seems to do) and I quit doing it.  But, last Fall, I felt a "tug" to restart my volunteer efforts.  I knew my Sunday School friend, Judith was an Administrator at another local elementary school, so I asked her about the volunteer opportunities at her school. As luck would have it, the Media Center at Meadowcreek Elementary said they could use a volunteer.  Meadowcreek has a very high Latino population and it has been quite a "culture shock" for this lifelong southern girl.  I am quite amazed at the way these kids have adapted to their new surroundings.  New country, new language and they all seem so eager to learn new things!  Judith's job is to work as a "liaison" between the parents, students and staff.  Much of the time the child is the interpreter for the parents, which shows their tenacity for learning!  I would not be good at this job (my patience would just not allow me) so I am grateful for the "Judith's" of this world who take on this task!

So in September 2011, I went back to school!  I walked into the Media Center (we called it a Library when I was in school) and was enthusiastically greeted by Mrs.Thames and Mrs. Moore , the school Media Specialists. I had to make a real effort not to holler 'Kim" or "Holly" when I needed one of them and also to get used to answering to Miss Gray!  And my, my have things changed since I was going to the library! No more card catalog and never even heard the words "Dewey decimal system."  I have such a respect for these women and the dedication they have to each student that walks through the door.  They ALWAYS have a smile on their face and an eagerness to help everyone . And, I've learned a thing or two listening to Mrs. Thames stories! They have both made Thursday mornings a pleasant experience!

I generally work at the Check-out desk, which has been my favorite task.  I love the interaction with the students and it is gratifying to see them so excited about reading - even if it is titled "Captain Underpants and the Big Bad Battle of the Bionic Booger Boy."  Another favorite series is the "Magic Pickle,"  and " Diary of a Wimpy Kid".  Like I said...times have changed since I was in elementary school!  It is also nice to hear so many "please" and "thank yous" and when you hand a book to a student and he looks up to you with these big brown eyes and says "Thank you, have a Great Day," it just warms your heart!

The school year is winding down and next week will be my last volunteer Thursday for the year.  I am really going to miss my new friends "Mrs. Thames and Mrs. Moore" and all the students at Meadowcreek Elementary.  I wish them all a great summer and hope that they will squeeze a "book or two" into their busy summer!

Ya'll come back!

May the Lord bless his people with peace and happiness and let them CELEBRATE. Psalm 64:10

*Originally posted  May 7, 2012

Celebrating: Book Club!

Celebrating: Book Club!: I love to read.  My passion for reading developed in about 3rd grade for me.  I remember having to choose a book for a book report and found a story about a Tree House in an Apple Orchard.  I do not remember the name of the book nor the author, but  for some reason that book hooked me! From that time on, reading has been one of my favorite past times.

I soon found series Bobbsey Twins, Donna Parker and Nancy Drew just to mention a few , but my all time favorite was the Trixie Beldon collection.  My friend Terri introduced me to Trixie Beldon during summer vacation of  4th grade.  One of my best childhood memories is settling down on the couch with a bologna and raw onion (with lots of mayo) sandwich and a cup of sweet hot tea and a Trixie Beldon book.   I can still imagine Terri and I camped out in her living room with our legs draped over a chair and our nose in a book! 

But when I got to high school/college, my love for reading came to a abrupt end.  The required High School/College reading list stomped that love in the ground. The Odyssey, Oedipus, Tale of Two Cities, yuck, yuck and double yuck!  Sorry to offend you English scholars - but these books made no sense to me.  It was all I could do to keep up with what I HAD to read, thus pleasure reading lots its appeal.  Maybe I can redeem myself by saying I did like To Kill A Mocking Bird, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and A Catcher in the Rye.

So when I received an e-mail from Church friend, Pepper that she and her friend Shelli were starting a book club and would I be interested in joining - I was ecstatic.  I had been wanting to join or start a book club for the longest time and this was the perfect opportunity.  Pepper and Shelli graciously open their homes on the 2nd Thursday of the month, where 15 (or so) women meet to discuss the book of the month.  What I really love is that it has forced me to go "outside the box" of my typical genre.  I tend to gravitate to Mystery/Suspense, with a little Southern Novel flair thrown in occasionally.

I have read books that I would have never chosen for myself  or imagined I would actually enjoy!  This month's selection was Sarah's Key. If you have never read this book - it is definitely one to consider adding to your list.  The book is fiction, but the "background" story is not.  Its one of those books that touch so many emotions. It will break your heart and make you smile.

And, I love my Book Club.  It a great group of ladies that I have grown quite fond.  We sometimes don't agree on liking or disliking a book  - but that just makes for lively conversation. It is truly one of my favorite days of the month!

                                                         The Sunflower Sisters!

Of course you simply cannot have a book club without food.  We generally "theme" our menu with the book.  It is our good fortune to have lots of great cooks in our group!  The setting for the book this month is in France present day/1942 and one of the main characters is Jewish.    So our menu was Jewish or French cuisine.

I have several Jewish friends from my Contessa Board, so I knew had a great source for suggestions!  My first thought was  Noodle Kugel, so I volunteered to bring that. Hilary also gave me suggestions of Matzah Crunch and apple cake (which is on my "to make" recipe pile).  Linda gave me her favorite recipe for Noodle Kugel.  I knew I could count on them!

                                                                  Matzah Crunch

                                                              see below for recipe

                                                                      Noodle Kugel


                                                      go here to view recipe

Matzah Crunch

4-6 sheets matzah (can substitute saltines or graham crackers)
1cup unsalted butter
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
big pinch salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

line baking pan with foil - then parchment paper (very important - I used wax paper with iffy results)

preheat oven to 375

in saucepan, melt butter and brown sugar. Cook over medium heat, stir til butter melted and bring mixture to a boil.  Boil 3 minutes stirring constantly.  Remove from heat, add salt and vanilla.  Pour over crackers and spread evenly with heat proof spatula.  Put in over - reduce to 350 .  Bake 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and immediately cover with chocolate chip.  Let stand 5 minutes, then spread with spatula.  Sprinkle top with toasted almonds or sea salt.  I put in fridge overnight just to really "set".  Break into pieces!  Enjoy!

**Hint - you CANNOT have just one piece!

And aalthough Book Club is winding down for a summer break - I will still be "hitting the books" this summer!

Ya'll come back!

May the Lord bless his people with peace and happiness and let them CELEBRATE! Psalm 64:10

*Originally posted April 25, 2012

Celebrating: Cleaning the Fridge!

Celebrating: Cleaning the Fridge!: Tomorrow is trash day.  And also the day (I'll admit not weekly) that I go thru the fridge to see what needs to be pitched.  As I peered into each shelve, I found several things that had long since passed their expiration date, but also found a little bit of this and a little bit of that.  Not enough to do much with, but I hated to just toss.  I found a chicken breast, artichokes and about 1/4 cup fire roasted tomatoes and set them on the counter.  While I was at it, I decided to check the freezer to see what I could purge (so I could have room for my ice cream freezer, I might add).  I found a bag with 1/4 cup of chopped onions, some Naan that had been there awhile and an open bag of cut okra.

So, I sat there looking at the counter pondering how I could use this stuff and not have to toss anything.
I decided to definitely bake my okra, so I gave it an egg wash and rolled it in panko, tossed in the oven 375 for 30 minutes.  I pulled out my skillet and started to saute the onions, chopped the artichokes, added the tomatoes shredded the chicken added water and a squirt or two or three of Unami paste.  On a whim I threw in some capers and a little juice.  I charred a piece of Naan, for I really needed something to soak up the rich tomato broth that my creation had produced.    Let me just say, and I am not going to be modest, that it was delicious!  I was so proud of myself - I made a wonderful meal out of something that I would have ordinarily tossed because there was not much left of any of it.  It was just pure luck that I had these food items at the same time!  Talk about turning trash into treasure!!!!

And the very best part is that I have leftovers!

Ya'll come back!

May the Lord bless his people with peace and happiness and let them CELEBRATE! Psalm 64:10

 *Originally posted April 11, 2012

Celebrating: Dresses, Hunts and Chicks!

Celebrating: Dresses, Hunts and Chicks!: From the time I could just "toddle" til today, I have had a new Easter dress.  Don't care how old I was or what stage of life, a new Easter dress was a must.  I can only think of about 2 -3 times in my life that I did not get a new Easter "outfit."  And when I was younger - it was an Easter ensemble.  New dress (the frillier the better), new shoes, new ankle socks (preferably with lace), new purse and a most definite for several years, a new hat.  I was an Easter fashionista for sure!

Cousin Chuck & Me! 

I have such fond memories of Easters past! On most Easter mornings, my Liddell cousins and I would load up and go to Sunday School, have a huge Easter Ham lunch and then hunt for eggs.  And not the plastic eggs of today - the real live honest to goodness dyed hard boiled  Easter Eggs.  I remember one year going to my cousins other Grandmother (fondly called Grandmother Bertie Sue), hunting for eggs in the most magical of places, for they had a huge yard and what I thought was the "coolest" house ever.  Built in the 1920's and located in the fashionable Buckhead area.  They even had a built-in swimming pool, which was waaayy cool in my opinion!  I can remember going to a local park, Hurt Park, that was filled with colorful Tulips and even had a little Windmill, which was aptly called Little Holland. I can still envision it in my mind the Easter parade my cousins and I put on in our Easter finest!

In the weeks leading up to Easter Sunday, all of the local pet stores, had baby chicks and ducks displayed in the front window and dyed every color - blue, pink, green, purple.  (I'm pretty sure PETA wasn't around back then).  And the Easter Bunny did not disappoint, over the years I had pink and blue chicks and a baby duck that went to live at Murphy Candler Park - which we could "amazingly" pick out for years after. One year the Easter Bunny loved me soooo much, he left me one of his own..a little white bunny I named "Petunia."  Of course, we always got an  Easter basket full of  Candy eggs, chocolate Bunnies and marshmallow chicks.  And for some strange reason, the Easter Bunny always left us a new summer shorts set!   

I found a couple of vintage Easter photos and since I do not have a scanner, I called my friends Pam and Chaz to see if I could use theirs.  Not only did I get an "Of course you can use our scanner" but a dinner invitation as well.  Pam and Chaz are long time friends. We have had alot of fun over the years and I treasure their friendship.  Chaz cooked an awesome meal while Pam and I enjoyed a glass or two of Vino .
Thanks ya'll for another fun evening!

Below is a walk down Easter memory Lane!  Just a couple for your enjoyment/amusement!

I think this was my favorite one - it was lavender!

brother Chuck, cousin Margie, our Coco, Me, sister Charlene

                                                       This one had a great plaid jacket to match!

This years dress...why I can't show it to you will make its debut Sunday on Easter!

Ya'll come back!

May the Lord bless his people with peace & happiness and let them CELEBRATE! Psalm 64:10

*Originally posted April 5, 2012