Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Kennedy Center Honors

Does anyone else love the Kennedy Center Honors tv show as much as I do? It seems that year after year I find it one of the highlights of my TV viewing. Quality performances with humble, deserving people. Why can't we have more shows that are of this caliber? I so enjoy the live music and performances. Good stuff.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Reflection and a Look Ahead.........

I know that it is a cliche' but really, where did the time go? I remember waiting not-so-patiently to turn 16, to turn 18 and to turn 21 years of age. The waiting to drive a car, order a mixed drink, vote and finish college seemed to take f-o-r-e-v-e-r. Now, with each passing year, time seems to fly by way too fast to suit me. How did this impatient girl turn into a reminiscent lady? It seems like yesterday that everyone was buzzing about Y2K!

I am not sorry to see 2009 go but I did learn some amazing lessons; and for that, I am grateful. My dad told me last January that this would be a defining year for me; and I think he was right.

January 2009 started with a bang. I returned from Christmas vacation and on my second day back to work over forty people were downsized. Yours truly was one of them. I had been there six and a half years and thought that I would retire from the company. I had become wrapped up in my job and it had become my identity. Almost all of my friends were work associated. The financial concerns of losing my job were also quite scary. How does one recover from such a blow? Quite nicely as it turns out.

You always hear that when tragedy strikes you find out who your friends are. This situation was no different. I am absolutely humbled and completely overwhelmed with how kind people can be. I was shown true love from people and I will cherish those precious souls forever. I also learned who is not a friend in times of trouble. And oddly enough, I am grateful for that as well.

Eight days later, I found myself in a serious situation. I was diagnosed with bilateral blood clots (PE's or pulmonary embolisms) in my lungs. By all accounts I should not have lived through this situation. Yet, I did! I spent a week in the hospital and left a few days before my doctors were comfortable. Again, during this time of trouble, I was overwhelmed by love and care and concern. One girlfriend heard the news and immediately walked out of her job during the middle of the day and drove an hour and a half to be with me. Former co-workers visited and sent flowers. My husbands work family was so wonderful as well. My family rallied and dropped everything to be with me. How fortunate to feel that kind of love I am. My sweet just-turned-twenty son stayed through the night with me and rubbed my back when the pain was so unbearable and the high level painkillers didn't seem to be helping. He fussed at the nurses to help me with the pain management. While the fussing wasn't so nice of him he assures me it was warranted. It took me over two months to start feeling anywhere near normal. I am so fortunate to have lived through having blood clots in my lungs and I do not take a day, even a minute, for granted. I have had a couple of nurses say to me that they feel that a miracle happened with me and that I am here for a reason. I submit to God's will.

Some of my bloodwork was questionable during my hospitalization. As it turns out I also have an autoimmune disorder. I am not symptomatic at this time so it is good to know to watch out for signs and symptoms so I can jump on it when the time comes.

I had to undergo genetic testing because of the blood clots. It turns out that I have not one, but three genetic markers that predispose me to blood clots! Two are paternal and one is maternal. Isn't technology amazing?! My children will soon be tested also so they can know their standings. As a result of the markers, I have been advised to stay on blood thinners for life. The blood thinners were difficult to regulate at first but I am now on a pretty normal regime. Instead of blood work every two to three days I am now at once a month. I bruise easily and am gosh darn scared of knives and the smallest scratch bleeds forever but I have learned to deal. Pretty good huh?

I like to joke that I am a little leery of the month of January now. No one can blame me right?

I discovered Facebook in 2009~! What a blessing! I have been able to reconnect with hundreds of my friends. Oh my gosh; how much fun it has been to reunite with friends from kindergarten and all through the years. Logging onto Facebook is like feeling an instant rush of familiarity and love.

I got a new job in 2009! As it turns out, I am in a much better job now with better everything! I love what I do, I love my reduced stress level, I love the people I work with. How lucky can a girl be?

We are buying a new house in January 2010! How fun and exciting! We found a darling little house on three and a half acres half way between my job and my husband's job. The house is 2000 square feet and just the right size for us now that we are empty nesters. It has a creek running through it and some amazing trees. We also have fenced pasture land. There are guineas that run through the property and deer as well. We back up to a vacant 131 acre farm that is just gorgeous. We are putting our current house on the market in late February, early March. Our current home is 4350 sq feet. I am not sure what I am going to do with all of our "stuff" when the house sells but it will all work out.

My children continue to do well and for that I am so very grateful. They are in college and doing well and are just wonderful people.

We hope to become debt free, or pretty darn close to it, in 2010. We have always paid our own way, haven't won the lottery or any settlements, so this is a big deal for us.

In reflection, 2009 has been bittersweet. As we look ahead to 2010 I suspect it will be bittersweet as well, However, with lessons learned, I think I am better able to handle what is in store. Dad was right, this was a defining year and I like to think that I did him proud.

I bid 2009 farewell and look eagerly to 2010.

Oh, and as a nod toward the future, I have attached a picture of our Master Bath Shower at our new little cottage house. I can't wait to enjoy the future!

Happy New Year Everyone! May your life be blessed with good health, friends, family and lots of love.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Profound Healing

I am almost finished reading a book; actually I should say that I am savoring a book. Profound Healing: The Power of Acceptance on the Path to Wellness is not just a book about a lady with cancer, and not just a book about health. It's a book about how to live your life in the way that gives you the most wellness. You can pick up a used copy for a good price.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Movie Was Wonderful!

I loved it!

So, our eagerly anticipated date night last Saturday night went off without a hitch. One of the pluses of being newly Empty Nesters is that you can just go and do whenever you want. We decided that not only would we go see the eagerly anticipated movie, but that we would make an event out of the night.

There is a fairly new restaurant that I had been to several times with work friends. The food is very fresh and hip and up to the minute. I decided to take my sweetie there before the movie so he could experience the neat ambiance and try the delicious fusion cooking. We settle in, (no wait!), and already he is impressed with the place. The restaurant itself is very modern and interesting. Sweetie quickly glances over the sushi menu and moves on (ha - no surprise since I married a meat and potatoes man) and settles on beef and peppers. We order an egg drop soup that was to-die-for; one of the creamiest egg drops I have ever had. It was without that thin, slightly greasy texture you get with some egg drop soups. The entire meal was delicious and a great start to a date night. If you are ever in East Tennessee be sure to check out one of the local Stir Fry Cafe's. I have been to all but one of them and they are consistently wonderful.

We drove just a hop, skip and a jump over to the movie theater. This theater is a destination unto itself with 18 huge movie screens and an IMAX. The lobby has a food court in it! The theater seats are plush and comfy; they gently rock back and forth and the arm rests have cup holders in them. Speaking of arm rests, they also raise in case one wants to snuggle up to their date. If you are ever in Knoxville you should take in a movie at the Pinnacle 18; you will not regret it.

Down to the meat (no pun intended - ha!) of the matter! I loved this movie! Meryl Streep was absolutely amazing in this role; she became Julia Child! Stanley Tucci should also be commended for his supporting role as Paul Child, Julia's husband. Julie and Julia was a sweet, funny and enjoyable movie. I enjoyed the story of a young lady finding herself through the experience of making her way through Julia's cookbook. The sweet stories of loving relationships was a bonus; I was not expecting these pearls. Amy Adams was adorable as Julie; she played the part perfectly. This is a bit of a chick flick but I think you would find it enjoyable. It is perfect for a date night or with girlfriends or a mother-adult daughter outing. The one thing that surprised me about Julia Child, as portrayed in the movie, is that she and Paul were quite the rabbits (wink wink). Nora Ephron did a good job transitioning the movie back and forth between Julie and Julia; it was seamless! The movie did not disappoint and I would recommend it to anyone. I rate it 2 spatulas up!

We ended our evening with a trip to Calhoun's for coffee and dessert. Our waitress was darling and we enjoyed discussing the movie.

All of the anticipation leading up to the movie was not wasted. A big thank you of my own to Julie and Julia. Go see this movie or be sure to rent it later on. Oh, and invite me over to go with you!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Anticipation: Julie & Julia - The Movie

I am one of those people that has a problem paying full price for a movie ticket when I know I can see the same movie for a dollar in a few short months. Are you one of these people too? I think part of it is that most movies out these days just don't excite me.

All that changes August 7th. That's the day that Julia & Julia comes out in theaters. I am so excited about this movie! I can't decide what has me captivated more. Is it that it is a movie with roots in cooking? Is it that one of my all time favorite actresses, Meryl Streep, is in it? Is it that a blogger has her blog up on the big screen? For me it is all that and more!

To be honest, I am most excited about learning more about Julia Child. The trailer shows glimpses into her personal life and from what I have heard, Julia was a character.

It seems to me that it has been awhile since a good "chick flick" has been out. I shudder to think of the men across America that are living in dread at this very moment because they know they will have 2 hours of chick flick coming their way in August. Suck it up boys; football is right around the corner! My own sweet husband has mentioned that he can't wait to take me to the movie. What a sweetie!

So, come this August I will be shelling out some gosh awful sum of money to see a movie at the -gasp- movie theater! I am sure I will sneak snacks and bottled water into the movie my over sized purse.

So, are you going to go see the movie? Will you wait until it comes out on DVD? Julia's birthday is August 15th. I think I will celebrate that day by making something out of her Mastering the Art of French Cooking cookbook. How awesome to have the movie premiere one week before her birthday.

And with that I will just say, in honor of Julia, Bon Appetit!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Pecan Pie Muffins

I thought you might enjoy a little gem of a recipe. This came from a friend of mine whose daughter won a blue ribbon at the fair! I have played with the ingredient amounts as you will read below. The picture shown is when I was experimenting with different sized muffin tins so please excuse the un - uniformity! This recipe is great for a brunch. I prefer them best after they have had time to rest. In my opinion they just aren't as tasty right out of the oven. Enjoy!

Pecan Pie Muffins

2 c. Brown sugar, packed
1 c. Flour
2 c. Pecans, chopped (I load my batter down with more!)
1 1/3 sticks. butter, melted (original recipe called for cups)
4 lg Eggs, beaten

Combine brown sugar, flour & pecans; set aside.
Combine butter & eggs; mix well. Stir in flour mixture until moistened.
Fill mini muffin cups 2/3 full.
Bake 350º for 15-20 minutes or until done. (the best ones of mine took 17 minutes)
Remove from pans & cool on wire racks.

If you don't remove them from the pan they get cement hard once the sugar cools.

On a personal note, thank you to all of you that have written notes during my blogger leave of absence. I confess that my break away from the blogging world was longer than I thought it would be. I will be blogging now and then; as the spirit moves me so to speak.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Spring Sprucing and Cleaning

Hi Everyone! I hope you all are having a wonderful spring. The buds here sure are looking pretty. I snapped a couple of pictures today of one of my favorite spring trees (pictured above). I love the color! The temps are finally staying up warm enough in the day to suit me and the cool nights make for good sleeping.

I am a devoted Tasha Tudor fan. I thought I would share one of her books with you. Even though this book has "spring" in the title it really isn't about the season spring. However, I love the illustrations and the book seems festive to me for this time of the year. You can click on the pictures and they will enlarge.

We had one leather recliner in our family room. Talk about comfortable!! Mmmm, what a delight! Hubby and I would take turns sitting in it and finally a couple of weeks ago I went to the furniture store and ordered another one. It came last week and here it is! These two recliners are huge and really too big to have two side by side but these face the TV and we love them so that is what it is all about right? We do feel like our grandparents now; nestling in the recliners at the end of the day. Our grandparents were smart huh?

And finally you can see a little bit of what I have been up to also. Ugh. Spring cleaning time!!! I do love getting everything clean top to bottom inside and out. This year I have someone helping me and she is a godsend. I am so tickled that we will have everything spic and span this week.

Baby son is on his way back from Europe as I type. The week has gone very fast! I am so glad that he will be coming home but so happy that he has had this wonderful experience.

I hope you all are enjoying Spring as much as I am.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Happy St. Patrick's Day to you ~

"May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind always be at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face, and rains fall soft upon your fields..."

Irish Blessing

Come sit out on my front porch with me and we will have shortbread and tea. In case you are interested, the china pattern is Belleek from Ireland. I only have a few pieces but each one is adorable. Such a dainty china; and so sweet to me.

Monday, March 16, 2009

What a Difference a Day Makes!

Photo removed at teenager request :)

What a difference a day makes! Pictured above is my "baby", my high school senior. This photo was taken yesterday morning at about 9:30 am on my back breezeway before I took him to the airport. This morning at 9:30 am I got a call from this precious child of mine from Milan, Italy where he was standing in the middle of a plaza looking at a huge cathedral; according to him.

I have been the type of Mother that let my children go and do and explore probably more than I should have. Their father is a captain for a major airline and has flown both domestically and internationally. From the age of 1 month I have had my children on airplanes. We have moved several times and experienced different cultures. Thanks in part to living in Texas for 6 years, along with one of the most gifted Spanish teachers ever, he speaks fluent Spanish.

This trip that my son is on is a little bit different than his usual outings. He went on a 9 day trip to Europe with 8 other friends from high school. There are some adults going and this was a guided tour thingy. They will go to Italy, Spain and Monaco; how exciting!

I warned him about the delicious ice cream, pastries and breads in Europe. I tend to gain about 10 pounds just thinking about them! When he called this morning he said that I was right about the ice cream and he had already had three servings! That's my boy! We love our food.

I raised my children to be very independent. They were doing their own laundry by age 8, making their own beds, etc. As morbid as it sounds, I wanted them to be able to function in case something happened to their father or myself. Of course, with independence I have had to let go faster or sooner than I wanted to at times. However, I could not be prouder of my children. They are able to conduct themselves in all sorts of situations and are already contributing members of society holding down jobs, going to school, etc. Apologies for the shameless bragging.

Thanks for letting me share a bit of my life with you today.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Don't You Quit; inspirational video for those that need encouragement

Don't we all need encouragement from time to time? We all experience life's ups and downs. It is our friends that are there for us and help us through. But in the end, it comes down to the will within each one of us as to the course our lives take with the decisions that we make. I wanted to share with you this awesome video; I think it is so well done.

Don't You Quit.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Mama's Pecan Pie

I wanted to share a good, solid Pecan Pie recipe that will appeal to a broad range of palates. This is "Mama's Pecan Pie" from the cookbook Bon Appetit Ya'll".

Isn't this a pretty cookbook?

And here's the recipe, you can click on the picture to enlarge.

I overbaked it a tad due to a hot oven that I have to watch like a hawk. I think you will find this a safe pecan pie recipe that will be welcome in any serving situation. This throws together very, very easily and with store bought pie crusts you can be your own semi-homemade chef!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Queen of Tassels, Nancy at Southern Lady

I would like to introduce you to the Queen of Tassels: Nancy over at Southern Lady

Nancy makes beautiful tassels for any room in your home. They also make perfect gifts! I actually even got a compliment on my dining room tassel (pictured above) just today! Nancy has an etsy shop called Nancyrosalina's The Tasseled Nest.

I have always been a tassel person but Nancy's creations take tassels to an entirely different level. They are so charming and creative.

Please visit Nancy at her wonderful blog and also her etsy shop. Please tell her that I sent you.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

TJMaxx Notecards that look Lilly Pulitzer-ish

Oh my gosh, I love TJMaxx! I also love Lilly Pulitzer. What is a girl to do when she is a thrifty shopper? She heads to TJMaxx and finds these ~darling~ notecards. Feel free to click on the picture to enlarge it to see just how darling these notecards are. They also have the most neat envelopes; they are miniature business mailing envelopes. Can you see how the flap is on the end of the back of the envelope and not the standard fold down flap? Love love love these and they are fairly heavy weight also. Bonus!

I will be out and about all day today so I won't be around to your blogs or responding to comments very timely. Please forgive me! I will get to you as soon as I can. Gotta feed the addiction ya know!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Signs of Spring

I shot these random photos in my yard yesterday. I am so excited to see the buds and blooms and signs of spring. I also see the need to refresh the mulch pronto!

Isn't it amazing that nature does what she does? How awesome that every year without fail she unfolds this beautiful, colorful show. The pansies were so pitiful all winter. I confess that I didn't have the faith in them that I should; I thought that there was no way they could survive. And, they are just gorgeous. Their sweet little faces appearing and it's almost like they are smiling and saying "We're here and spring is on its' way!". The lady that owned this property before us planted bulbs all over the place, and while I can't really understand the method to the madness, the daffodils are sure pretty to look at. The redbud has the newest of buds on the tips of its' branches and the Bradford Pears are so billowy and cottony looking to me as they are budding.

What a colorful show Mother Nature is putting on. I am eager to see it all unfold.

A Time for Change

The clock pictured above was presented to me after two terms as President of my local Women's Club back in the '90's. It represents some good times in the past.

I took the photo above on Sunday, time change day. I love Springing forward every year. Well, except for the losing an hour of sleep thing! This year we were lucky enough for time change day to come on the warmest, sunniest day of the year so far. What a wonderful day to life the spirits. To be able to have an extra hour of that glorious day was perfect. It was like the universe agreed: the day should linger on.

With time change and the coming of Spring I always become energized to clean out and clean up my house and surroundings. I may not always accomplish everything but the spirit is there.

This year I have decided to take stock of myself as well. Is it time for a change? If so, what changes?

Change can be difficult, but necessary. I think of the phrase "no pain no gain". I tend to want to have no pain with a lot of gain. Selfish I suppose.

Time changes back the first Sunday in November. I figure we've got a little time to work on the things we need to work on. Don't you?

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Bramble Patch's Newest Followers, I'm up to 5!

I am so blessed to have these wonderful ladies follow my blog. Please take a few minutes to go check out their fabulous blogs!

~Melissa at Melissa's Heart and Home

~Nancy at Southern Lady

~Kathi at Blessings and Beautiful Things

~Debra at Georgia Rectors

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Baking Bacon Baby!

Ok, so maybe some of you already know about this but I am gonna blog about it anyway! I love baking bacon!

I have always hated the mess that frying bacon caused. I also didn't much care for the pretty constant tending that one must do when they are frying bacon. I don't like for hot splatters on my hand and ....ok, you get the idea! :)

I found out about baking bacon and my life has been a happier, more content one ever since! No more splatter screen, no more cleaning the backsplash, no more babysitting the fry pan!

I have made bacon in the oven a variety of ways and all of them have their great points. You can heavily pepper the bacon for a peppered bacon (the grocery store charges big bucks for peppered bacon, you can do it for pennies!), you can also rub the bacon down with brown sugar (I love this!) and have your own instant brown sugar bacon. You can also rub liquid smoke on the bacon for hickory smoke flavor. One of the things I like to do is bake bacon en masse and then crumble it (and refrigerate!) to be used through the week for salads, baked potato toppers, etc. This is so much cheaper than buying those packaged bacon pieces and is probably healthier too! If you don't use it up just freeze it!

So, what I do is line a bottom pan (cookie pan) with aluminum foil. This will catch the grease and can be easily tossed afterwards for a speedy clean-up! Then I place the rack on top of the pan. I place as many slices of bacon as I want or will fit. Usually going crosswise on the rack is preferable. On my pictures above my husband placed the slices :) I preheat the oven to 350 and bake the bacon for approximately 20 minutes. Thickness of bacon, temp of your oven, etc. will have times vary. Until you get comfortable with your situation check at 10 min, 15 min, 20 min, etc. When the bacon is done you can place it on paper towels to drain any remaining fat; however, there is not near as much fat as what you find in the fried variety. Some folks have said that this makes your oven dirty. I have never experienced that and I am fortunate enough to have a self cleaning oven that takes care of it. Also, if I want crispier bacon I go to 375 degrees.

I've talked more than any one person should about baking bacon. Thanks for indulging me!

PS. Sorry about the pre-cook picture. Lighting is a problem for me but I hope to resolve my issues soon!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Thrift Find: Beautiful Glass Tray / Cake Plate

Isn't this glass tray beautiful? My mom found it out thrifting and it was $2.00!!! I love it! The etching comes through kind of white on the picture but it isn't. It almost seems "wedding-ish" in a way but I will love it for pretty, festive foods and occasions. I think I will be using it most for a cake plate for when I have cakes that I want to have room for a garnish of fruit, etc. around the base. It is well used and has scratches on it. To me, that adds to the piece. I daydream about the lady (ladies?) that have used this to serve off of; and I daydream about all that have enjoyed treats off of this beautiful tray. This tray is heavy also; I love the solid feel of it. What else can I do with this piece you creative people?

My First Follower and My First Comments!

I am so excited! I have my first follower! Thank you Lynette at Lynette's L.A.M Blog for the following my blog and leaving my first comment!

I also want to thank Sandy over at Four Reluctant Entertainers for commenting on my blog also!

Thanks ladies; you have made me feel welcome!

My blogger friend, Cynthia, over at An Accomplished Woman recently did a post on her refrigerator that made me drool with envy! Please check out her post and her entire wonderful blog!

I was inspired to clean out my fridge. I spent a half a day taking every single thing out of my fridge; including bins and shelves! I threw away a garbage bag full of stuff - gross! I scrubbed and cleaned and amazingly enough it made me feel great! I have to confess that I don't have pretty bowls in my fridge like Cynthia has in hers; but it is much neater, cleaner and more organized. I have included an afterwards and a during cleaning pictures above. You didn't think I was brave enough to include a "before" pic did you? :) I don't desire the health department visiting! LOL.

Now, your turn; let's see your fridge! Come on, don't be shy!

P.S. I did clean the outside smears and fingerprints once I was done! :)

Beef in Red Wine with Noodles

It is so hard to take a good picture of this dish. I can assure you that it tastes much, much better than it looks.

As I mentioned in my post below I do a lot of cooking with my slow cooker. This is one of the easy dishes that is so flavorful that I would not hesitate to serve it to company. I love that this has a "grown-up" taste but yet it is made in a slow cooker. One usually doesn't think of those together. It is still comfort food so that makes for a happy and warm tummy.

I am one of those cooks that is not very good about measuring; a little of this, a splash of that. My recipes are rarely specific and certainly allow for personalization.

For this dish I tossed the beef cubes in a flour/pepper/salt/seasoning mix concoction and then browned in butter. However, this recipe does just fine if you toss the untouched beef cubes in the slow cooker without those steps. I am not sure that you can go wrong with any approach. Here is the recipe:

1.5 to 2 pounds of beef stew cubes
1 large onion, chopped in fairly large pieces
1 envelope of dry onion soup
mushrooms to suit your taste ( I had some sauteed in butter in the freezer and tossed those in)
1.5 cups of a good red wine (merlot, etc.)

Egg Noodles or Rice

I placed the beef cubes in the bottom of the slow cooker. Then I topped with the contents on the onion soup packet, added the onions and mushrooms on top. I then took the wine and poured it all over everything. I set the slow cooker for 6 hours on high. (You can do 8 or 10 hours on low if you wish). The house smelled absolutely heavenly while this was cooking. I ended up taking it out at the 5 hour mark and it was more than done. I served over hot noodles (I forgot to butter them!). We had a side of broccoli and french bread. The au jus that this makes is so wonderful that you might want to consider a side of mashed potatoes. Just don't forget the bread to sop up the juice. Enjoy!

Slow Cooker Liners

I love to use my Slow Cooker! With busy lives it is not only a time saver it helps prevent us from eating out, grabbing take out, etc.

One of the most helpful products invented is the Slow Cooker Liner. If you haven't seen or used these I urge you to give them a try. They have made cleanup on slow cooker nights a complete breeze.

These are plastic liners that withstand heat. Being that they are plastic I have friends that tell me that they won't use them. I respect that decision; however, they are made with "friendly to food" plastic. I figure one thing or another will get us eventually and if it is my once a week use of a plastic liner then at least I will die a happy death from not having scrubbed all of those caked on bowls.

Why blog about this? Well, I thought since I do a lot of slow cooking, and I will be blogging quite a bit about that, you might as well get used to the tools I use :)

I don't work for the Slow Cooker liner company but I proudly hawk their product. Have you tried these? I would love to hear your opinions on them.


I feel like this is an exciting thing; birthing a new blog! I am not sure what twists and turns this adventure will take. I am looking forward to the journey.