Wordless Wednesday: When I grow up, I wanna be..........

Pictures taken at Govan SC Fire Department -- Thanks Fire Chief Mike!


Recipe Monday: Cheese Grits

Okay this is a recipe that has been cut down to a normal size from the original which was made for a men's campout celebrating the end of quail season last spring.   Bill says it is the bomb and he loves grits!  I, on the other hand, can't stand them in most cases!  I do like polenta, however!   

Bill, making fun of me, always rolls his eyes and says " that is just a high-class form of grits!"    I beg to differ and if you would like to know more check out Meseidy at http://thenoshery.com/2009/07/02/spicy-tomato-shrimp-with-creamy-polenta/ who quotes Alton Brown in her research on the differences between grits and polenta. 

And now on to today's recipe which comes from Bill's kitchen and not mine (LOL):

  • 1 32oz carton of chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup of whipping cream
  • 1 cup Uncooked quick cooking grits (grind is your choice)
  • 2/3 cup Sharp cheddar cheese
  1. Combine chicken broth and whipping cream in large saucepan
  2. Bring to a boil
  3. Stir in the grits and return to a boil
  4. Cover, reduce heat and simer 5 to 7 minutes
  5. Remove from heat and stir in the cheese
  6. Cool approximately 10 minutes

Let us know how you like it.  I am thinking I will try this out substituting polenta for grits later this week! 


Waiting on a Hurricane

Being from Oklahoma, I am used to watching the weather and the current satellite imagery and paths of storms.  Thunderstorms and tornadoes are common.  As a native Oklahoman, I have been the idiot standing outside watching the sky while the sirens are going off. 

Now I live in South Carolina about 50-75 miles inland from the coast.  I have been watching Hurricane Irene imagery.  Reading information on what Hurricanes can do and have done.  It's like a train wreck, I can't stop watching.  On the other hand, watching the predictions is an agonizing process. 

The biggest difference is TIME.

Tornadoes spring up over the course of an evening in an area.  Warnings are in terms of minutes. Hurricanes develop over days.  Warnings start a week in advance.  Three days ago Hurricane Irene was modeled to be coming straight for us.  Now we may get rain on Saturday.

Check out the latest satellite animation from The Weather Channel at http://www.weather.com/maps/news/atlstorm9/spec_floater3_large_animated.html.  We are basically just north of the HA in Charleston.  We are praying for family and friends in the path of this storm.  Batten down the hatches and stay safe!


Wordless Wednesday: Sleeping Beauties

I got up this morning and my daughter was still asleep.  I found my wordless post for today.  My wonderful sleeping beauties.   Although I couldn't find one of the best sleepers in the house ... Brat!  Anyway here goes
Today- Almost 4 years old

October 2010

July 2011 (the new addition)


Wordless Wednesday: More Renovation

Are you sick of it yet?  Yeah, so am I.  I am so ready for it to be done! And we still have about 3-4 more weeks before we can move furniture back in!  So with that said, here we go:

Bill in demolition mode (goggles and mask a must!)
Daddy, is it done yet?  PLEASE!

Old dishwasher, kitchen is no more!

Beams are in! Standing at the back wall of living room,
looking toward what will be the island cooktop/raised bar and kitchen wall.


Tackle it Tuesday -- Transforming My Chandelier

Here is my goal:  Transform the frosted glass and metal chandelier bought at the Savannah, GA Habitat for Humanity Re-store for $25 from mottled brown and red to a hammered silver finish. 

We bought the paint to do this project over a month ago. I am notorious for starting a project and never finishing.  
 I have priced a similar chandelier in a lighting store for over $300.  I figure between spray paint and a little elbow grease, I will have a light in my dining room I am proud of for less than $40.  Especially since I already have sandpaper in the shed from other projects of Bill and my Dad's.

This one I have a deadline as the electricians will be ready to put this in for me early next week in my new dining room.  Well no more procrastinating.  I have the first coat on the lamp and oh what a difference a couple of hours on an afternoon makes. 

I still have one to two more coats to do but hey Bill can't complain, I am getting it done!  Tackling it and finishing it will be a major accomplishment.  Come back next Tuesday to see the finished product (maybe hanging in the dining room if the electricians are done as they think they will be.)

Thank you to The Daily Meme and 5 Minutes for Mom  for the inspiration to get it done!   I will definitely be tackling more projects as summer turns into fall. 

What are you tackling today?


It's that time of the year..............

And most of us finish the sentence with "Back to school" but I think about all the birthdays, holidays and gift giving I have to do in the fall and winter. 

Yes I am one of those that tries to have most of the gifts bought for Christmas long before Black Friday arrives.  Even though I love (cough cough -- oh wait 6 -8 hours of shopping without a little one tagging along -- I should be jumping for joy) getting up and shopping at 4am to get the best deals, I am usually looking for clothes at that time.  All the family items, couple gifts and daughter gifts are pretty much completed.  As for birthdays and anniversaries, I am sick of shopping by the time October gets done.

Why you ask?  Well, my wedding anniversary is September 2, Daughter's birthday is September 18, my birthday (LOL Bill does do his own shopping most of the time) is September 25 and Bill's birthday is October 6.  Along with friends birthdays on September 12, 14, 27 and October 3, 6, 9, that is a lot of shopping for one month!

Hence my post today........ it is SimplyFun's Birthday for the whole month of August.  We have great deals and one can find gifts for the whole family to enjoy on game night, family get togethers and long cold winter nights. There are quite a few on my wishlist that I will be purchasing by the end of the month!  You can join me at our Family Game Night Party to purchase some great gifts for your family and friends too.  Wouldn't it be nice to have some of your Christmas bought now -- no long lines, waiting till the last moment and at great savings too!

My Family Wishlist:

  • Any of the puzzles since Jea can put them faster than I can get them out of the box. 
  • More Eye to Eye:  The original Eye to Eye is always a hit at our gatherings.  SimplyFun also has junior Eye to Eye which I think we will soon be purchasing as well.
  • The Family Game Night Value Pack looks interesting as we only have three of the six games.  And at $145 for all of them, the savings is wonderful.  I could always gift one of the ones we already own to others. HMMMMM might be the way to go.
    • Includes:
      • Take Your Pick II
      • Bringing Down the House
      • Who Gets The Cheese
      • Head of the Herd
      • Walk the Dogs
      • Eye to Eye
  • Tibbar & Friends Value Set:  This is a great set for Jea.  And they will be great items to have in our preschool for fun ways to learn! 
    • Includes:
      • Everyday Big Board
      • Big Box of Words
      • What Comes Next? ABC's & 123's
      • Digger's Garden Match
      • Pop Belly
      • Tibbar's Tangrams
Take a peek and let us know which ones would be on your list!

Monday Recipe: Creamy Dijon Chicken Wings

The original recipe called for Chicken Breasts but we like chicken wings better.  We use the frozen chicken wings and parts, you don't even have to thaw them first.  Bill typically does this on the grill.  It is the same process but on a propane gas grill and you don't have to use the oven!  Even better, if you are the main cook inside like me, then it is a chance to take a night off.


·        1 lbs Chicken Wings & Parts
·        ½ cup chicken broth
·        ⅛ cup apple cider vinegar
·        ½ cup Dijon Mustard
·        ⅓ cup cream cheese, softened
·        2 tbsp fresh basil, finely chopped
·        1 tbsp olive oil
·        3 cloves of garlic, minced


1.     PREHEAT oven to 350 degrees
2.     MIX broth, vinegar, mustard, cream cheese, garlic, oil and basil until well blended.
3.     PLACE chicken wings in an aluminum pan.
4.     POUR the sauce over the wings and parts.  Sauce should cover to the top of the wings.  Make sure all wings are well coated
5.     COVER the pan with aluminum foil.
6.     BAKE for 20 - 25 minutes. 
7.     UNCOVER and BAKE for additional 10-15 minutes.


Bonus Recipe: One of my favorite Christmas Gifts from the Kitchen

I found this recipe in a Gifts from the Kitchen Cookbook about 3 years ago.  It is wonderfully easy to make, freeze and give as gifts.  I have modified for my family's tastes as well as most of our friends.  The modifications are in the amount of cheddar cheese and the amount of black pepper.  Both are increased amounts and the higher end of the ground black pepper is used if I do not use sharp cheese.  Also other variations we have tried is to change the cheddar to other types of hard grated cheeses. 

My families' favorites other than the sharp cheddar cheese are a smoked provolone and a jalepeno cheddar cheese.  With the latter, I found that using only jalepeno cheese was too strong for me and so the next batch I used half plain cheddar and half jalepeno.  Bill, however, loved it!
Cheddar Pepper Bread


·        2 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
·        2 tsp baking powder
·        1 tsp baking soda
·        2 ½ cups of grated sharp cheddar cheese
·        3 - 5 tsp fresh ground black pepper
·        ¾ tsp salt
·        2 eggs
·        8 oz. non-fat plain yogurt
·        ½ cup of melted butter

1.      PREHEAT oven to 375 degrees.
2.      GREASE and FLOUR a 4 ½ x8 ½ inch loaf pan.  Baker’s Joy or Pam Baking Spray with Flour work well for this application.
3.      In a large bowl, MIX flour, baking powder, baking soda, cheese, pepper and salt until well blended.  Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients.  Set aside.
4.      In a medium bowl, MIX eggs, yogurt and melted butter.
5.      POUR yogurt mixture into the well of the dry ingredients.
6.      STIR until the dry ingredients are just moistened.
7.      SPOON the mixture into the loaf pan.
8.      BAKE for 45 minutes or until a wooden pick in the middle of the loaf comes out clean.
9.      COOL loaf pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
10.  REMOVE from, SLICE and serve.  WRAP in foil and will keep in fridge for up to 5 days.

·         REMOVE from loaf pan.
·         WRAP in plastic freezer paper and foil.
·         FREEZE up to 4 months.
·         REHEAT in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes after bread has thawed.


Wordless Wednesday: Hard at work!

Been waiting for today to really show off the efforts of our hard work this week!

End cabinet next to Fridge and basically where a column will be!
Fridge and cabinet area and part of the cooktop island
End view of kitchen looking into what will become the study

Cabinets gone where the fridge used to be
Where the new island/bar and cooktop will be looking into the living room


Renovation: Kitchen is barebones!

It is amazing how much a 3-man construction crew and my hubby can demolish in a day.  Yesterday, the crew came in, took the drywall down on the three remaining walls to be replaced with beams and columns.  This took, oh 2 hours maybe!

They pried up the hardwood flooring in the dining room, kitchen, foyer and study.  This will be reused but was running the opposite way than that which is in the rest of the house.  Bill has removed nails from about 1/4 of the boards so far.  As I said it will be relaid then we will have someone come in to sand and refinish the entire house.  The crew completed all of the rooms but the dining room.  They will be back on Wednesday to complete that.

Next up after removal of the flooring is bracing to allow removal of the load bearing wall studs.  Then removal of the studs and putting in beams put in to handle the load.  We also have 4 columns going in to carry the load from the beam to the pillars under the house.  I am learning first hand just how much work remodeling is --- and no it doesn't happen in 30 minutes like on HGTV.   I already knew that but the reality is so much more.

As promised, here is the proposed new layout of our house.  Keep in mind the back bedroom and bathroom changes are not happening in this phase except for the new doorway!  Another causality of budget was the ventless fireplace and cabinetry in the living room.  We are piping/wiring for it but will not tackle that till later.


Renovation: The Wall is gone!

Okay not completely gone but the dry wall is gone. 

You can really start to see just how open the living room is going to be.  Bill has his assignment from our contactor for what must be completed before the crew arrives on Tuesday.  We must have the drywall gone on the walls and pieces of walls that are going to be removed.  The studs must remain because most of the walls we are removing are load bearing and beams must be put in place along with columns.

So far, between our nephew and Bill:
  • The wall dividing the living room and hallway has been demolished.  
  • The wall between the telephone room and the living room is gone. 
  • The carpet is gone in the hallway and telephone is gone
  • We found out there is hardwood through out the house and we are pulling out all the carpet and refinishing the whole house! WOOHOO! Can you tell I am excited?

Sunday's agenda:
  • Pack up the kitchen and in the process determine what must be packed and what is going out to the RV
  • Move furniture out of our bedroom and closet room in anticipation of pulling up carpet
  • Couponing (a whole other story that I haven't written yet)
  • Laundry


Renovation Day 1 - Demolition starts

TODAY is the day! Demolition of the kitchen, living room, dining room, eat-in kitchen area, weird double entry foyer and hallway has begun.

I foresee lots of Wordless Wednesday posts coming out of this renovation!  For today I will outline what we are doing and how it is going!

To understand what we are doing, please take a look at the existing floor plan.  Can you see a major design flaw in the kitchen?  Wait for it................. yep you guessed it, the cook top island.   If you think it looks bad in a flat drawing, it is nothing compared to the reality.  Both Bill and I have lost over 200lbs from our largest weight, and we still can't get by it without turning sideways.  And heaven forbid you have someone who wants to come into the kitchen when the oven door is down!

Here are some of the highlights of our new plan, come back later this week to see the floor plans!
  • Kitchen wall where the refrigerator is today will be gone, at least the upper portion
  • New door to a new deck on the sink side of the kitchen
  • Flooring refinished darker throughout the house
  • New cook top, oven/microwave/convention oven combo on the wall
  • New cabinets, sink and counter top
  • Today's dining room will be the study and Jea's classroom
  • Today's Eat-in kitchen area (also known as the den by Bill and his sister) will be the dining room
  • Living room wall that makes the hallway is gone

Today, the carpet in the hallway and the molding from all of the front rooms is being removed by Bill and his nephew.


Wordless Wednesday: Grandpa's Girl

I decided to try this out... in honor of my Dad leaving today to visit his brother in Topeka and the fact that my daughter already misses him.

June 2011
Planting the container garden

May 2011
In Grandpa's hat

December 2010
At the Christmas light tour and village
July 2011
Here he is with his oldest granddaughter


Recipe Monday (a day late, I know) : Best Thing about Grills

What is the best thing about a BBQ Grill, husbands and a lazy Sunday? 

Very little cooking in the kitchen needs to be done!  Our Sunday dinner consisted of BBQ chicken thighs, fresh green salad (brought by friends), a rice dish, homemade fresh salsa and chips. We had friends over for dinner which led to a wonderful meal, conversations and eventually couponing but that is another blog post to come.

So without further ado.... Monday's, albeit late, Recipe is Fresh Tomato Salsa.

It does not need cooking nor is there cilantro required because hubby doesn't like. On a side note, do you know how hard it is to find salsas where cilantro is not a main ingredient? If you haven't looked, just trust me on this, it is very hard to find. Therefore I make my own whenever possible. Summer is a great time to make this, freeze or can it. While it doesn't require cooking, canning it in jars for winter will cook it and that is just fine too!
  • 10-12 medium fresh tomatoes, peeled and chopped (fresh from the garden is always best!!)
  • 4-6 jalapeno peppers, de-stemmed, de-seeded and finely diced  (You can forgo the de-stemming and de-seeding if you like spicier/hotter salsa than mild to medium)
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, finely diced
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 2 medium cloves of garlic, crushed or finely minced
  • 2 tbsp vinegar
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt -- taste at the end to determine if more is needed
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • Peel and chop the tomatoes.  Great trick, run hot water from the tap in a stockpot and drop the tomatoes in for a few minutes then peel.
  • De-seed and de-stem the jalapenos then finely dice.  I suggest wearing gloves for this one or in my case, I have hubby do this because my skin is so sensitive to the oils.  I also reiterate if you like a spicier salsa, you can leave stems and seeds in and just finely dice.
  • Chop all of the other vegetables
  • Put it all in a non-metal bowl along with rest of the ingredients
  • Mix well
  • Taste for salt/pepper content
  • Chill for at least 1 hour, longer is better, overnight is best
  • Serve with chips
Usage Variations:
  • Mix with sour cream for a wonderful dip for veggies or chips
  • Use the salsa as a sauce for grilled meats or in the oven
Have fun with this recipe and be sure to post comments if you use it !  Need some great bowls to serve it in, check out the 4-pc. Salsa Bowl Set!