Friday, May 29, 2009

Dinner Disasters # 4 "One Mo for Bo......OOOF-DUH"

My mother in Law was German. So when I prepared my first dinner for her I searched for a German dish and settled on Beef Roulades a fancy rolled up flank steak pickle concoction. You know how those Germans like pickles in everything so how could I go wrong?
Let me count the ways.
I didn't have a car those days so it was important to have all of the ingredients assembled on the day of the dinner. Check.
What I discovered as I assembled the dish was that it also required string and toothpicks to corset the roll together as it cooked. As a newlywed nineteen year old (can we all say "child bride"?) I had neither.
What to do? My mind raced and my eyes scanned as I laid eyes on my husbands sneakers. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm shoe strings are some kind of string. Anyway this was his mother plus doesn't heat kill germs? Those babies were going into a virtual cootie killing oven for 45 minutes. Decision made.
I trussed up the rolls but they kept spronging out in places. I surmised I really needed those toothpicks too. None in sight,but I did have some nails in the tool kit we had gotten as a wedding gift. Who would know? I'd remove the nails before I served it and it would stay my crafty secret.
OK -- imagine the color of nails. Now picture the color of cooked beef. I soon discovered they are in the exact same spot on the color chart.
With minutes to go until my in laws arrived I took my fingers, poked and prodded that entree until I was sure I had removed most of the nails. And I had. Most.
My gracious in-laws ate their dinner and acted like it was no big deal that each of us had a little pile of nails on the corner of our plates.
Nobody died and to this day no one in this family has suffered iron deficiency.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Keep 'Em Coming Back

I've decided to suspend the "Dinner Disasters" posts for
awhile. I've had too many friends and family chime in with..... "And don't forget the time you --- "
You may be asking yourself why in the world would anyone come to our home after my disasters have been exposed? Well there is one really good reason. My:
Melt in Your Mouth and Make You Groan Cheese Wafers.
1 lb. sharp cheddar cheese grated fine (room temp)
2 sticks butter softened
2 cups plain flour
2 tsp salt
1 tsp cayenne pepper
Mix well together and form into logs the length you want. ( I make them the size of a stick of butter)Wrap in plastic wrap and freeze until needed.
Thaw – slice thin – top with a pecan – sprinkle with a light coating of Cayenne pepper and Bake 350 degrees until golden brown. Remove from cookie sheet while warm. Cool a little. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Dinner Disasters Part #3 A Dog-Gone Good Dinner

Have you ever seen a dog smile? We have.

Our friends the Bickharts and their five children were coming for dinner and I decided that a turkey breast would be a delicious kid-friendly entree. Oh, the Thanksgiving-esk aromas wafted!

Food Network had taught me that a turkey needs to rest before slicing so I placed the turkey on the island then went to spiff myself up before the doorbell rang.

Joe called up the stairs,"What was that sound?"

"I don't know could you check it out?"

What he found was BJ Honeycutt (lab) and Sam Pickens (pointer) enjoying the turkey breast. When they looked up at him he swears they were smiling floppy ear to ear. Their eyes said, "Dad is the BEST -- he gave us turkey breast!"

After explaining the situation to me Joe volunteered to go to Acme and buy another turkey. I figured that if we did that dinner would be ready oh, lets say about 2:00 am?

So I channeled my inner Julia Child, sliced up the best side of the turkey (conveniently recalling that dogs mouths hardly have any bacteria at all) and proudly placed it on our fanciest platter.

I gave Joe the evil eye and begged him to not breath a word.

Dinner was great we even had leftover turkey.

Joe passed -- something about allergies as I recall.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Dinner Disasters Part #2 A Big Blowout

Husband Joe has accused me of being so organized that I'm disorganized. You be the judge.
Knowing I don't cope well in last minute situations I try to do everything I can before the day of a party.
Seemed like a good idea to take my time and set the table for company a week before they showed up.
It looked great and I even had time to be creative with the details instead of slinging that stuff onto the table at the last minute. I was so proud I mentioned my preparedness any chance I had. Like oh say to ; the mailman, my co-workers, the lady at the bank, my neighbors, the grocery check out girl and I actually tried to get onto a radio call in show on the subject of lawn pests figuring I could somehow work it in.
Lulled into a false sense of security the day of the dinner found me frantically cooking. Ten minutes before the guests were to arrive I went in to take one more glance at the table in all of it's glory.
Why were my cheerful plates looking dreary? Oh, no! A layer of dust had settled on everything. Unlike Mic Jaggers time was clearly not on my side. My mind raced. Too late to strip and wash everything and the clock was ticking........
In a moment of necessary invention I grabbed my blow dryer and an extension cord and the dust flew. Ding dong.
Maybe Joe has a point after all.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Theme Posts -- Dinner Disasters Part 1 Oh, When the Ants Come Marching In.......

As a new bride living in Philadelphia each season my Yankee home revealed new botanical surprises. Imagine my delight as our driveway burst forth in rows and rows of peonies! I was unfamiliar with this species of flower but it was love at first sight. They were breathtaking, they were plentiful and they were mine all mine.

We had invited an enormous crowd of people to sit at the enormous dining room table that we had written into the contract of our new home. I understood that in decor size does matter so I was thrilled to create a giant centerpiece for my favorite price -- free. It looked smashing and I decided this new to me flower was my new fav.

Here's a botanical secret about peonies,(at least it was a secret to me) each bud is covered with a sweet sticky goo that requires an ant to eat in order for it to open and bloom. Peonies have stowaway ants hidden in the blossoms.

Dinner cooked, wine poured, blessing said. And then......And then... you know where this is going don't you?

At first we politely smooched the little caissons as they marched across the linen table cloth. Then we tried to barricade them with butter dishes, salt and pepper shakers and finally we waved our white napkins in surrender to them and moved the feast to the living room couches, chairs and floor. It gave a whole new meaning to the term "sit down dinner".

I guess every host and hostess hopes their event will be a memorable one. That one surely was.

But an interesting thing happened after that party. We received many reciprocal invitations from folks who had attended.
I believe our not throwing the perfect dinner party made us safe to other's adventures in hospitality. If nothing else they knew they had guests with a good party ice breaker story.
Bon Appetite!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Gone Fishin'

Went to bed in Jacksonville Tuesday night and woke up this morning back in Louisville. What a country! First day in town and we already had big adventures.
Annie and the kids picked me up and we went to the playground at the water park by the river. Then we headed to Kingfish and played miniature golf while they fried up our fish sandwiches. Then... we put the slave labor force (grandchildren) to work as we went to Joe's parents' grave site and scrubbed up their monument. They were so proud and it was a sweet reminder of our precious heritage. Great to be home!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Where I come From

In Louisville Kentucky, home of the Kentucky Derby, everyone follows the horses. Even the Baptists. So it comes as no surprise to me that as my friends (The Rock and Roll Mothers) were driving home from Gulf Shores last Saturday Katie suggested they find the Preakness on the radio. No go. Then she remembered that her IPhone could pick up satellite radio and she searched frantically pushing buttons like crazy to no avail until they decided it was hopeless and gave up.
Next morning found Katie and her retired pastor husband in church. As the preacher was settling into the heart of the sermon-- somewhere from the depths of Katie's purse a shout was heard; "AND THEY'RE OFF......!!!".
The congregants of Stanford Christian church were privy to most of the race's excitement while Katie furiously dug through the sun glasses, sun screen, restaurant stubs and all of the fall out of a week at the beach only to experience temporary memory loss over how to turn the dang thing off.
Now, in Kentucky horse racing is near religion but I think Katie took it a little too far.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

If You Could Have Dinner With Any Living Person -- Who Would It Be?

This is one of our family's favorite questions to pose while waiting in a resturant for the dinner to arrive. Mine would be the man who said these words .

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Is That You Making That Noise?

Years ago Keds came out with a health driven campaign. There were lots of ads telling me how great it is to sweat. I was not compelled to jump in -- as they say.

But then they ran an ad with this message:

Some people measure their lives in pulse rates and sit ups. Far better to measure yours in licks of ice cream, well-told jokes, mad dashes to be the first in the water, belly laughs. And when you die, it won't be an erratic shift in your heart rate, it will be an overdose of mirth, fun poisoning, death by laughter. Keds feel good"

Now that made me want to jog all the way up and down Madison Avenue!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

...And Then a Hero Comes Along

(Cole Thomas Sherman)

Early Monday morning a speeding car hit the mother and father geese that have been long time residents on our pond. They had been "in a state" since she began laying eggs this month and they had taken to crossing the road several times a day.

The father goose was killed and the mother broke her leg. Joe frantically carried her home and we began to call out for help from local Vets to no avail.

Then we found a vet who would take her at no cost and see what he could do.

It was good news. She survived surgery and it looks like she will recover and return to our pond some day. That vet is our hero.

But what to do with the eggs? After many calls we found a woman on the other side of town who would take them and incubate them -- again at no cost.

There are heroes all around me and if I met them in the Mall they would look just like everybody else. They are God's undercover agents. How can I be exasperated or unkind to anyone? Lord help me to entertain angels -- aware.
Hebrews 13:2 (King James Version)
2Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

"I Want to Go Home"

The last time I was at my parent's home my Father was dying. Daddy always had a fear of hospitals and he had made it perfectly clear that he did not want to die anywhere but home. I was so grateful that I could be there to make sure his wish was honored.
The last week of his life he had moments of clarity and moments of confusion. Sometimes he would look at me and say, "I want to go home" and I always said the same thing hoping that the repetition would settle his mind.
"Daddy you are at 102 Holliswood Road. This is where we always have the family picnics. Eddie Parsons walks down the driveway so proud carrying Janice's casserole and we all hold hands and say the blessing before we eat. See? Here is your big old heavy dresser."
Daddy Jay would smile, nod a little yes and drift back to sleep.
After a while he would look at me and say, "I want to go home."
I didn't want him to be afraid or troubled so I would launch into the same song - second verse.
A friend gave me a copy of "Glimpses of His Glory" written by her friend (who is a Hospice nurse) the week I ended up unexpectedly going home. I had thrown it in my suitcase as I left town in a hurry. I read it in stolen moments that week and learned that often for the Christian "Home" becomes heaven before they die and many begin to long to see their family and friends who have gone there before them.
I quit my recitings and began to say "OK Papa."
Next week I'll go back home. It will be the first time in my life that Daddy Jay won't be in the den waiting for me. He won't put down the paper, whistle and call "Hey, Doody Ann!"
Now I understand there is see-saw in this life that first begins to balance, then shift between those we love here and those we love in Heaven.
As each loved one makes that journey I realize what seemed like a scary thing in my youth feels more and more like a pull toward "Home".
I sure do look forward to going to Louisville next week to see my Mother and kids but now I know in my heart there are two meanings to that longing and I want to go home -- too.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Things I Must Tell the Children -- A song by the Gaithers

How can I tell you the things I must tell you, the things I want you to know? All about living, and reasons for giving, and things that will help you grow. I've watched your diet and taught you to be quiet in places of worship and school; I've kept you well groomed with a nice tidy room (rarely) and I've mentioned the golden rule, but along the way did your heart hear me say that you don't have to earn my love? Not a thing you could do could make me stop loving you, just the joy you've brought is enough. There isn't a thing that the future could bring that could take back the gift that you are; you are a treasure I could never measure -- just some things I must tell you children.
I'm sure I've told you to mind all your manners and get to appointments on time; and child, how many times have I told you to hang up your clothes and finish the homework assigned? But did I make it clear, were you able to hear , as you slipped through the house and our lives, that God has a plan that you must understand no matter how much you "arrive".
Never stop dreaming, keep working and singing, but remember Whose child you are. Stand tall and walk straight and be home by 8 -- just some things I must tell the children. just one more thing, whatever you do, remember I love you! Just some things I must tell the children.

Friday, May 8, 2009

If It's Not One Thing -- It's Your Mother

Maybe it is because I lost my Dad this year or maybe it is because the distance away from my children never gets easier but this year's Mother's Day seems more poignant.
Growing up I thought everyone had a mom like mine until I went to college. The eyeopening stories I heard made me realize I had won the Mother Lottery.
My Mom is the Empress of FUN. She knows how to make life happen.
When her best friend moved into the wealthiest neighborhood in Louisville Mom's friend hosted a tea to get to know her neighbors. She included Mom to give her confidence. I saw a gleam in Mom's eyes the morning of the tea when she put on the Minnie Pearl outfit she had worn in a church play. She was a hit (after her friend had a red faced moment). It set an unstuffy tone and everyone knew her friend Janie was going to make their block interesting.
Another defining moment in my childhood was when one of her other friend's husband came down with cancer while he was unemployed. One Sunday after church while still dressed in her Sunday best Mother launched out into the streets of St. Matthews and went door to door explaining the situation and asking if people would like to donate to help them out. People were generous and I learned that a little thing like pride should never get in the way of helping out a friend.

Daddy should have seen his zany life coming. After their wedding, as they were pulling out of the train station for New York City, Mom said; "Squish your nose up on the window for the photographer!"
What a snapshot of her approach to life's adventures.
Now at 84 in the toughest most challenging period of her life she still finds ways to celebrate the ordinary.
While the entrance of their subdivision was being worked on she spied a sign that read "MEN AT WORK" She went home, made another sign , walked back up to the entrance and posted hers under their sign. It simply said; "THIS IS HIGHLY UNUSUAL".

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

I'm Going Back Into the Closet!

In a day and age where folks are "coming out" -- I've decided to go back in and make amends. Seasons change and so do closets - hopefully.My sequined Christmas sweater is hanging out with my summer linen pants. My 'just hang it here temporarily" rod is about to bow.Whew! It makes me tired to think of pulling all of that stuff out and coming to terms with the Goodwill pile -- the who do you think you're kidding too tight pile, and the maybe no one will notice that teeny tiny hole pile.

My fantasy is that the "What Not To Wear" van will show up with that rude Stacy (constantly flicking her hair) toting a garbage can.

It would take Lance Armstrong on steroids to cram one more hanger in there.

So please do me a favor will you? Next time we talk ask me.....How's it hangin'?

Life is Just Ducky

As I sit at my computer this morning I am waxing nostalgic about Motherhood. This is Mother's Day week and what a sweet time to thank God that He allowed us the joy of being a co-parent with Him. It is the most satisfying, mystifying, stupefying, and multiplying task we as women are given on this earth. Last week this duck was just another duck on the pond. This week she is the soul source of protection and comfort for 13 little fuzz balls. She looks calmer and more important in this role. It is a glove that fits her.

But I also notice that unlike last week she doesn't go anywhere alone. Looks to me like she is OK with the freedoms she lost and proud of her groupies.
I am reminded of the quote by
Elizabeth Stone.....
"Making the decision to have a child is momentous -- it is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body"

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A Standing Ovation

Today was a luncheon that culminated a year of me and one of my dearest friend's presidency in an organization that puts on a once a year, 1000 ladies luncheon. "Women for Christ" (www, also has a luncheon just for members each May. Today was that luncheon. We hosted it at a la-de-da country club with a beautiful view of the river, ancient oaks full of swinging moss, massive white columns, and a wait staff in crisp black and white uniforms. For an hour and a half we were rich in; fellowship, food, and elegant surroundings.
The Speaker (Mary Glynn Peeples) was funny,poignant, wise and real. Her word pictures will stay with us and painted a winsome picture of God's love and grace.
Mary Glynn authored a book "All We Like Sheep" and to date it has sold 53,000 copies. She explained to us that as "sheep" we need a Shepard. Sheep without a Shepard just scatter. Sheep have to be led not driven. And people really are just like sheep.
Isaiah 53:6 (New King James Version)
6 All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way

As I was preparing to go forward and close the luncheon the still small voice of the Lord spoke to me and reminded me that Jesus had said in His Kingdom "To be the greatest -- be a servant". Matthew 23:11
I glanced all around the room and the waitstaff was poised ready to serve us dessert. Then it dawned on me that in the Lord's eyes they were the big shots.

Two nights before I attended a concert by the Jacksonville Orchestra on this club's lawn. At the end of the production the crowd stood and gave the maestro a well deserved standing ovation.
And so not knowing how it would as they say 'play Peoria' I reminded the fine Christian ladies in attendance of Jesus' organizational chart and asked them to please stand with me and give the servants a standing ovation. You have never seen so many St. John's suits a-rise. The applause was loud and long. There was a shift in the room and immediately we all understood that for a tiny island of time in our week we had visited the Kingdom of God.
"Wish you were here."

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Is It A Sighting -- Or a Sight?

I ran into these two at the Christian Booksellers convention. The centurion said to give him a sec while he got off the phone. But -- I felt like that was the best part of the shot.
What caption would you give it?

The Hall of Shame

Jacob (3) in his Elmer Fudd hat.
Each time we've outfitted a home Joe has asked for a family gallery of photos.
I've always considered those walls rather indulgent and fresh out of pics of us with a past president or Mother Theresa I just wasn't sure anyone would really enjoy a stroll through our Hall of Fame.
Besides, I reasoned, it is a chore in itself to find a picture of any of these characters that share our DNA without :
1. Someone making a silly face
2. Bunny ears suspiciously appearing over one subjects head
3. Evidence that we are a band of latent vaudeville wannabes.

Alllllllllllllllways the submissive wife I decided to come out of the closet with the paper trail of our wackiness and put it on display in a tasteful manor. I scanned pics into black and white, framed them with classic frames, hung them in gallery fashion and Ta-DA....

(Avery who has become a serious ballerina!)
( Danielle who is a recreational therapist)

You get the picture? (sorry)

I hope our Hall of Shame coveys the message that we don't take ourselves all that seriously and our home holds (to quote a family favorite author Bob Benson) laughter in the walls.