Friday, January 30, 2015

Okay, so I’m sharing this photo

to show you that we did, in fact, eat at home this week – 
more than once, actually. Ha. 
This is a quick and easy Shepherd’s Pie that put together after Christmas 
[I couldn’t let those delicious Paula Dean Mashed potatoes go to waste!] 
And, to clarify – it’s been wrapped up tightly in the freezer since then --

It’s so easy to make – 
I browned a pound of ground chuck and stirred in a can of cream of mushroom soup, a bag of frozen green beans, about a half cup of frozen green peas, and a cup or so of cooked carrots 
[mostly left overs – ha]
 After I put all of that in the casserole dish 
[LOVE my crazy daisy Pyrex, by the way --
oh, and the matching corelle!] 
and spooned the leftover mashed potatoes on top,
I sprinkled [heaped?!] grated cheddar cheese on top,
wrapped it tightly and stuck it in the freezer – 
I pulled it out and let it thaw a  bit 
and then put it in a 250* oven for a couple of hours until it was warm and bubbly…
 To be honest, it’s not an ‘oh, I want to have this every week’ kind of meal – 
But it was warm and satisfying on these cold wintery days…
 and a terrific use for left-overs!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

My original plan for 2015

was to include a post each month with a recipe [new or old] that I've prepared at home --
Some of you really liked the little series back in the summer [Farmer's Market Meals] so I thought I'd continue on, figuring I could SURELY cook at least once each month - ha.
 But here's the deal - this week we had the opportunity to be guests at the 'soft opening' of Bravo Cucina Italiana - opening the 29th. It was so delicious I just have to share with you - and honestly when they sent the invite, they had no idea that I had a blog or anything like that -
 We started the evening with a manager chosen appetizer - Artichoke & Spinach Formaggio with Parmesan Flatbread [much like the cracker bread you get at Brio in Birmingham.] 
It was wonderful! 
We also had bread and dipping oil prior to this - but I love those parmesan flatbreads and 
kept some to eat throughout my meal --
 Then we were on to salads - Craig chose the Insalata Roma: Mixed greens, kale, cucumbers [he asked them to hold these, no problem] feta, grape tomatoes, garbabzo beans, croutons, and avocado with lemon garlic vinaigrette. 
I'm not a fan of kale - but this was delicious. That dressing was so perfect with it - he ate it all!
I had the Insalata Della Casa: chopped greens, cucumbers, tomatoes, bacon, crispy pasta with Parmesan dressing. 
Honestly, it was little too much like slaw for me - 
lots [and lots] of dressing.
[Sorry for the blurry photos - we were ready to dig in!]
Next was our entrees - Craig chose the Sausage Tortelloni: Cheese-filled tortelloni, sweet Italian sausage, pancetta, tomato sauce, crushed red pepper, mozzarella and basil.
He loved it - just the right amount of spiciness.
 And I chose Chicken Scaloppini: sauteed chicken, roasted portobello mushrooms, Provolone, lemon caper butter sauce, feta, tomatoes, and herb linguine. It was delish. 
Very rich and lemony - impossible to eat it all... 
and, dare I say it? 
- a little too much cheese...
 Lastly, we were given two desserts, chosen by our waiter. We had the raspberry cheesecake and chocolate truffle with toasted pecans. 
Both were excellent.
Both  came in little cups [see above - photo off the internet] Honestly, if we'd only had the cheesecake I would have been HAPPY - but the chocolate - oh my - it was so - so good 
- like a little pot of chocolate cream.
Final fact: it was wonderful.
We couldn't eat it all. 
And we weren't the only ones carrying out leftovers
[which I can say is just as good the next day for lunch -]
Y'all know we love Italian - and we'd say this is much like Brio in Birmingham [which makes sense since I've learned they are owned by the same group [- click here] - a little more upscale than Maggiano's, and definitely a step above Olive Garden or Macaroni Grill.
We'll be back!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Just another regular week

in my work life anyway - I had a quick over-night in Montgomery so we could nail down some plans for training staff this next year -- 
We accomplished a lot!
And, of course: it rained while I was on the road - 
it's becoming a joke between me and Craig - 
But I really think the Lord is trying to teach me 
a little trust lesson through it all --
[I was sitting in a parking lot when I took this picture - 
NOT driving. Ha -- ]
I got back in town just in time to join a great group of [mostly] ladies who are getting ready for the Priscilla Shirer LIVE event that will be held here in Huntsville in April - 
I love her Bible Studies - and have heard her live in person [wonderful!]
This day will be GREAT - her brother, 
Anthony Evans is joining her for the music!
Let me know if you plan to attend and 
we can meet up and try and sit together!!
Most of you know that my sweet aunt who has had failing health for a while passed away during the week [see post below] 
so my sister and I spent Saturday with family - 
So good to be together - 
But also so very sad...
This is my mom and two of our dad's sisters - 
They are truly two of the most 
courageous and strong women that I know -
And, oh how they love[d] life.
Please keep my Aunt Pauline's family in your prayers as they go through the grieving process  - and also, my sweet Aunt Christine, who is the last surviving sibling.
How does it feel 
to no longer have your brother[s] or sister[s]?
I can't EVEN begin to imagine.
May the Lord's peace be with them all -- 

Friday, January 23, 2015

It's time for favorite photo Friday again --

and here's a very special lady
 that we're saying goodbye to this week -  
It seems like every time one of my sweet aunts pass on 
they take a piece of my childhood with them...

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Playing catch-up a bit...

Meant to post this last week --
And I'm so sorry it's sideways - this is my first try at the you-tube thing. Hope I can do better next time. 

But -- it's a quick look at my daily album for December  -
There IS music playing in the background - but all I can hear is pages turning - ha -

Monday, January 19, 2015

Hope you all had a great weekend ~

It was a long one for us -- 
so we took half a day Friday 
and headed to the mountains. 
Loved that the holiday lights were still up 
and shining a nice welcome!
 We stayed at a favorite place of ours   - 
Right across from the aquarium - and while it's
 right in the middle of the hustle and bustle of things 
[just one block off the parkway -] 
 when you're in your room with the 
back door open to the creek 
you feel like you're out camping somewhere 
- They also have rooms around the bend there, where you can walk down to the creek - love it.
So, here's the deal - 
I've set a couple of goals this year 
[we all do , right?]
One is to use my REAL camera more - 
Honestly - I've had it for over a year - 
[I'm still not sure I love it -- it's a Nikon, you know --]
Can you see the little buck out there with a few points?
[That tiny spot right below the building -]
How about now? -- lol
And his friend --
Like, I said - I love the zoom.
And the pixels - MEGA.
The reason I bought this instead of the Canon - 
[But I'm a Canon girl at heart --]
So - I'm determined to use it weekly and give it a fair shot [ha] before going back to my one true love.
Another goal is to 
- especially since I've been cleared 
by the heart doctor to DO ANYTHING  -
We decided to do a couple of little hikes while there - 
Starting with the easy one miler 
[mostly flat] behind the visitor center to 
The Great Smokey Mountains
Love being out in God's creation -- 
And the water fall at the end was a nice little reward...
But the one we REALLY wanted to do was Laurel Falls.
It's about a mile and half UP THE MOUNTAIN and then the mile + down. I won't lie - there were times when I wanted to turn around and head back down 
- but I was determined to not be a quitter... 
and with Craig's encouragement we made it to the top,
stopping along the way to enjoy the gorgeous views - 
And the falls were beautiful!
The walk down was much easier - of course --
[I didn't love being on the edge of the mountain - especially with signs along that way that said things like 'Warning - falling deaths HAVE OCCURRED'  ha] 
And I know those of you who are in great shape are thinking - whaaaaa?!?! - but here's the thing - we can easily walk three miles - but that incline [about 20%, we figured] was TOUGH.
We were tired - but so glad we did it.
We also  walked up and down the main parkway and shopped and people-watched 
and watched them make taffy and fudge
and of course got a caramel apple...
and ate pancakes -
It's all part of being in Gatlinburg. ha.
After dinner we took the tram up to the ski area 
- loved the night view below us!
So fun to see they were opened for night skiing! 
The next day we drove out to / through 
Cade's Cove on our way out of town...
It's still as beautiful as ever -- 
I cannot imagine living there back in the early 1900s...
Shoot -- who am I kidding?
 I wouldn't want to live that far out of town NOW. Ha.
But it IS a beautiful place to visit - 
And as much as I enjoy being a 'city girl' 
[I want my shopping close and my restaurants closer - ]
I do LOVE being out in nature... 
and the The Great Smokey Mountains
are gorgeous.
It was a much-needed weekend away...

Friday, January 16, 2015

Oh! The Ordinary Day

let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow. Let me be grateful while I may, for it may not always be so. One day I shall fall upon my knees, or bury my face in the pillow, or lie among the sick, or raise my hands to the sky and want, more than all the world, your return." Mary Jean Iron

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Today, I just want to do a quick share

of my easy - peasy Valentine's decor~.
Most all of Christmas is sorted and packed away --
So I pulled out my big bag of Valentine / Mardi Gras STUFF...
Mardi Gras is VERY close to Valentines this year!
But, honestly my Mardi Gras decor consists of a  wreath for the door...
Oh! And a homemade King Cake 
{YES. I have the baby to put in it -} 
or a bought King Cake, if I'm lucky enough to grab one 
from our local Cajun place before they sell out...
Straight from New Orleans, baby...
Back to my Valentine mantle - 
which is pretty simple also -- 
From Christmas, I kept the window frame, silver tray, 
black lantern, garland [it's lit], and gold / silver candles...
I added in a bouquet of red roses in a milk glass vase, a felt heart garland from The Dollar Tree, my two red glass candle holders with red pillar candles. the photo of my sweetie and me, a little white bird or two... 
and the mirror LOVE that I got at HL a few years back 
- 80% off.
It's simple... 
and I love it .
I moved the chalk board to the entry and added one of my favorite bird prints and a cross-stitch [counted] that I did WAY BACK when we were dating... and I used the chip board 
and felt garland that I made last year...
 The dresser in the dining room has a rose wreath hanging from the mirror and a piece of 'cut-out' Valentine art from HL... [Don't have a photo bc the lighting is SO BAD with no sunshine these days... I'll post one when I can!]
So, again, very simple, and easy -- and I'm sure you can pull together a little festive decor as well... if nothing else, make a garland with a few hearts [or pick one up at The Dollar Tree! like me - lol.]

Monday, January 12, 2015

We enjoyed finishing up our holidays

last weekend... first with gatherings for New Year's Eve
and New Year's day that I shared earlier...

-- It's always fun to have our boys home with friends -
And they're all so good to agree to my crazy photo - shenanigans...

Then we enjoyed our last family Christmas down in Birmingham -
I think MK LOVED her hammock that Craig got for her -

And while I do love everything about the holidays SO MUCH,
it's been nice to get things put away
and a little more simple around here -
Love these bird prints that I picked up during our travels
[4 of them for $20.]
Hope you all stayed warm during our little 'cold spell' this weekend -
We did, and while we didn't have any frozen pipes - we did have a connector to the washing machine freeze and cause a bit of a mess! But my sweetheart was able to fix that up pretty quickly. Yay.
We also had the joy of calling our heating guys out on Saturday - and our unit is hanging in here with us, but they've ordered a part that should get us better than ever by mid-week.
 Yes, we love cold weather 'round these parts. ha. 
EmmaLou, not so much - she's cold all the time anyway, 
so this was just a little much for her - lol.
So she was treated to a little on-the-bed play time
- it's heated...
[and she's rarely allowed upstairs - ]
In other news... we took a quick trip up to Chattanooga to take the youngest some furniture that
the oldest had been storing from my mama's house.
 Love that he lives close enough to do this -
we had a nice dinner together before heading back home --
- And I LOVED seeing a favorite movie on the big screen this weekend
- if you missed it, It shows again on Wednesday.
It was a treat!
I also spent much of the weekend working on some art - just for fun -
This is inspired by Mindy Lacefield.
Very folk-artsy ---
 And for a little class I'll be teaching at the
Scrapping for a Cure [CF] Crop in Memphis in March.
I love this crop - always fun, and for such a great cause! 
 I'll share more as the classes are posted!
But here's a hint - it's all about sketching
and lettering and art-journaling!
- I hope you'll consider being a part!!
I'm following a few year-long on-line art groups this year,
but have not committed to any of them.
It's fun to see what everyone is doing!

But I want to try and stay focused with Beth Moore's
SSMT --- where we memorize two scripture passages a month.
SURELY I can do this...
but I've tried before and, well... just didn't keep up.
Maybe blogging about it will help me be more accountable --
We'll see...
And while it's nothing fancy -
I do plan to create a bit with my verses,
as a way to meditate on them and learn them ...
We'll choose a new verse on the 15th...
Go here to find out more - 
I'd love to have you join me!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Favorite Photo Friday -

Here's a different view of a favorite [walking] bridge -
in Chattanooga 
- where the youngest now lives...
So nice to have him closer to home...
[We had a nice dinner together 
on the North Shore 
after delivering some furniture to him - ]