Wednesday, February 10, 2016


Today has been bone-chilling freezing! And all I can do is think of cozy!

Here are some snippets of cozy I've found from keeping my eyes open within my four walls. Today, cozy is:

A tabby cuddled up in the sharp morning light,

Breakfast carried up to 3 girls too busy playing to come downstairs,

Hot tea, good book, and silky warm cat while sneaking a few minutes by the fire,

Candles glowing after closing the blinds and locking the dark night out
at the end of another day.

When it's frigid outside, it's good to find scraps of cozy inside.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Sugar Cookies . . . Finally! (Gluten-Free)

I love butter.  I love sugar.  I love flour.  I love vanilla.

Mix it all together, and the next logical deduction equals = I love sugar cookies!!

Simple to mix up, fulfilling to roll out, fun to cut, easy to bake, creative to decorate.  And that's before you even get to the eating!!  Sweet, tender, soft, chewy, and (with sprinkles or colored sugar) a little crunchy.  A world of delightful texture and taste.  Uncomplicated, unassuming, comforting.  Sugar cookies.

When this household suddenly went gluten-free, years ago, I thought sugar cookies were now extinct under this roof.

Trial runs with rice flours, and mixes incorporating bean flours of different types left us with unappetizing, thick, grainy, or heavy cookies.  You can only hide so much under a substantial layer of powdered sugar icing and sprinkles.  The experimental cookies usually sat neglected on the counter until they were so hard that I was doing us all a service by dumping them.  And yet again dumping the hope of a gluten-free sugar cookie that could be enjoyed.

 Enter the dear Silvana and her marvelous gluten-free flour mix that can be made right in your own kitchen (here).  Take a deep breath and exhale slowly.  It is more time-consuming to combine these flours; it is more costly to purchase these flours than the 5-pound bag of Gold Medal sitting on the market shelf.  However, this mix is gluten-free, and in cookie baking, the flour is a highly billed player!!  No compromises with the flour.

And so, this year we ended up with a chewy and delicious sugar cookie for the first time in years.  And if I ended up making 6 batches of these delights, I can hardly be blamed.

Gluten-Free Sugar Cookies

1/4 pound butter3/4 cup sugar1 egg1/2 tsp. vanilla1 Tbsp. cream or milk1 1/4 cups Silvana's gluten-free flour mix (recipe here) - I leave the salt out of the flour mix!!1/8 tsp. salt1/4 tsp. baking powder

Cream the butter.  Gradually add the sugar, beating until light.  Add the egg, vanilla, cream/milk and beat thoroughly.
Mix the flour mix, salt and baking powder together.  Add to the first mixture and blend well.  Add more flour mixture if the dough is too soft.  Sprinkle flour mix on the rolling surface, roll cookies to 1/4 inch thickness.  Cut out shapes and back for 8-10 minutes at 350 degrees.

Frosting:1 cup powdered sugar2 tsp. milk2 tsp. light corn syrup1/4 tsp. vanilla food coloring

Stir powdered sugar and milk until smooth.  Beat in the corn syrup and vanilla until icing is smooth and glossy. If the frosting is too thick, add more corn syrup.  Divide icing into separate bowls and stir in food coloring as desired.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Selfie Explosion

Our local newspaper recently had an article in it regarding toddlers and how they get a hold of their parents phones and take "selfies" of themselves.

It was cute.

I want to know when they're going to run an article about your college freshman son getting a hold of your camera and surprising you, when you download your photos, with a whole lovely run of "selfies" himself.

Kids.  ::sigh::

Friday, January 31, 2014

24-Hour Reset Button

Have you ever noticed how a day, once it begins to slowly unravel, will progress along that continuum at a greater and greater speed until it lies in a corkscrew mess at your feet (definitely thinking in knitting terms here)?  Of course you have.

This morning the day began with the dogs barking 10 minutes (10 minutes!!!) before my alarm was set to go off at 6:00 a.m.  Feeling immensely sorry for myself, I laid back down at 5:55, turned off my alarm and decided to reward myself with 15 more minutes of sleep for my inconvenience.

Of course, I didn't awaken until I could hear the Man of the House clinking the shower door, and I remembered that I had promised him a hot breakfast.

I jumped up, got the pan ready for some scrumptious over-easy's, stuck in the toast . . . and found I was out of eggs and the one slice of bread left was a heel, slightly dry.  Bon appetit, dear!

The precious time set aside for my sanity-saving morning walk had been slept away in my early morning pity party, and I could feel the day reeling out of control.

From there on, the day continued on with:

* Forgetting to bring a book to the doctor's office, resulting in a solid hour of staring at a wall chart showing the difference between the bone structure of flat feet and high arches before the nurse even made an appearance.

* Cleanup of 2 dog messes in the house from canines that are afraid to walk down the porch stairs in the snow.

* Driving a 10,000 pound, rear-wheel drive conversion van to a rural location over icy roads.

* Discovering that the basketball games scheduled for Thursday had refs who were scheduled to show up on Friday.

* And finding the grocery store flat out of bananas---flat out!---due to the Great Winter Storm of the South, 2014 edition.

Aren't you glad that God mercifully brings every set of 24 hours to a close and pushes the reset button, allowing the sun to disappear and reappear again in time for a fresh start the next morning?!!

Yeah, I am too!

And Youngest Son, if you're reading this, yes, I shamelessly stole 3 of your sunset pictures.  Today just might not be the day to make an issue of it!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Magic Ingredients

Okay, let's be honest.  If you want a lot of flavor in a recipe, it's going to take time and it might take a lot of ingredients, the preparation of which may lead to even more time.

So, if you're going to go simple with your food, you're probably going to need a magic ingredient.  For the Italian Chicken Rice Soup, the magic ingredient was a fabulous Classico spaghetti sauce, that gave the soup the flavor of having been simmered all day.

For this yummy soup (just right for the wintry weather that they say is headed our way today!!), the magic ingredient is:

In this case, I am paying someone else to take the time to round up the tomatillos, chiles, cilantro, and onion and roast, chop, and combine them.  In return I get a delicious Salsa Verde to flavor my soup and to make it taste like, in fact, I roasted, chopped, and combined those very ingredients.

I would actually love to make my own Salsa Verde for this soup.  But that's the trade-off for simple.  There are times I let someone else do a time-consuming part of my cooking.  Sometimes.

Now, once I've let these nice people provide my soup with this awesome flavor, I add in chicken, cannellini beans, broth, corn, and spices.

Top with  some tortilla chips, sour cream and green onion, and you've got a soup that will make everyone in the family smile tonight (as the snow softly drifts and swirls outside . . . positive thinking!)  You can tell that snow is not a daily occurrence down here in the South.  It's still an occasional idealistic treat for us.

And that, friends, is the secret of magic ingredients, that makes simple taste like amazing.  Occasionally you CAN get the best of both worlds!!

Southwestern Chicken Soup (serves 4--I double!!)
1-12 oz. jar salsa verde
3 cups cooked chicken
1-15 oz. can cannellini beans, drained
3 cups chicken broth
8 oz. frozen corn
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili (Are you kidding??  I definitely double this!)
sour cream, tortilla chips, sliced green onion for toppings

Empty salsa verde into large sauce pan.  (If you double, use a Dutch oven.)  Simmer 2 minutes over medium-high heat.  Add chicken, beans, broth, corn, and spices.  Bring to a boil, lower heat to simmer, and cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Top each bowl with chips, sour cream, and sliced green onions.

Yummmy!  Bring on the snow.

Sunday, January 26, 2014


I've found my word for 2014.

I wasn't going to even pick one.  If a word doesn't come up from the inside to define what I hope my year to be, then for goodness sake, don't force it.  Who wants a "word" for the sake of a "word."

But finally it did come bubbling up and bursting out, and that word is . . .

S I M P L E.

Because when it comes to all things life, I will inevitably go for whatever is the most complicated, most amazing, most impressive, and that results in . . . most stressful.

That could be forced to work when I had unlimited time and energy (aka, single and childless!!), but now that I have limited resources by virtue of LIFE (!!), I am realizing that every single time I go for complicated, amazing and impressive, I am going to be cheating another critical area of my life . . . spouse, children, ministries, friends, creativity, or (for goodness sake) keeping my house clean!!


In real time, choosing simple looks like:

Choosing to make simple and quick Italian Chicken Rice Soup for company,
 instead of Braised Brisket in Bourbon Peach Glaze


or crocheting a Simple Scarf,
instead of leaping into making the Most Gorgeous Throw I've Ever Seen.


Or being content with Simple, Real Flowers in Bottles on the shower table, 
without having to add an Explosion of Handmade Tissue Blossoms up above.


I must remember that saying "No!" to complicated, amazing and impressive is always saying "Yes!" to peace, love and sanity.

And all by focusing on what is . . .


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Lessons Learned from a Baby Shower

#1 - DO arrange with the baby to be born on the very day the shower is planned, thereby allowing you a full two weeks to do all the cleaning, decorating, and cooking that you should have had done by the original date.

Thank you, Baby K!!

#2 - DON'T fixate upon attempt baby shower decor you have never tried before.  Certainly not something you have found online that flat out lies and claims it is able to be completed in a mere 15 minutes per flower.  And, of course not an item you begin to tackle less than 24 hours before said shower.  Never wise.

#3 - DO hire help.  It is best if this help is related to you by blood and can be compensated by unlimited Rice Krispy bars with white chocolate drizzle.

#4 - DON'T forget to vacuum the rug in the eat-in area of the kitchen.

The one everyone will need to walk over to see the gifts.

The one 2 feet from where all the guests will sit.

The one where the dogs sleep  23 of the 24 hours of the day.

The dogs who have a 5-inch thick undercoat that goes through a weekly molting.

Yes, you.

Yes, that rug.


#5 - DO enjoy everyone who walks through the door, swoon over all the beautiful, tiny girly items, hold the baby every chance you get.  And when everyone leaves, put your feet up, bask in the clean house, and ladle yourself many large cups of coffee punch.  Many.