Saturday, November 26, 2011

Looking on the Bright Side

Thanksgiving, in fact, all holidays have been so hard for our family since my mom passed away. Each year we have tried to carry on as she would have liked for us to - I want her to be proud of her two girls. She wanted her funeral to be a celebration of her life and we have tried to honor her by being the women she raised us to be throughout the last six years. I will not say that it has been easy. It is hard to lose the woman who taught you pretty much everything!! Throughout the year I am so busy with my Jon and Seth and a full time job that is easier to cope with the vast hole in our family. On holidays though, we miss her terribly! Nonetheless, on Thanksgiving morning, Anita and I were up early cooking, cooking, cooking! We also managed to watch the Macy's parade because my mom loved to have it on as she cooked! I noticed, though, that my dad was very quiet - he usually is a man of few words, but he was even quieter than normal. I asked him if he was okay and he said "It's just today. It was one of her favorite days of the year." I agreed and told him that we were so blessed to have had her in our lives! He then called my sister and me into the den where he pointed to a picture of my mom and said, "That is what I have been sitting here looking at all morning. She was a beautiful lady". Friends, it broke my heart! But then, a few minutes later as I walked through the den, my sweet daddy said "I feel better now, since I called you girls in here."

So now, as we head into the busy Christmas season, instead of dwelling on fact that my mom is no longer with us, I want to stop and look on the bright side! I know that I will miss my mom, but I also believe that nothing happens without God's approval. I know this is true. Last night I heard a Christian author and speaker talk about a minister and his wife who learned that the wife had an aggressive form of cancer while she was expecting their second child. They made the decision not to terminate the pregnancy and begin treatment even though it meant putting the wife in grave danger. The speaker, Nancy Leigh DeMoss, spoke of the peace and acceptance the couple felt in this time in their lives. This sweet couple accepted God's will even though they did not understand why they were going through this situation. I know that my mom felt the same way. She seemed to handle her illness much better than the rest of us -with dignity and grace.

So for today, I will simply be happy that God allowed my mother to be just that, my mother. I was so blessed. As I decorate the tree and the house and attempt to make some of her special dishes, I will remember her wonderful legacy! I will remember how people raved over her homemade fudge, proclaiming it the best ever! I will think about the feast of delectable goodies she would make for Christmas Eve! I will remember how she made spiced apple cider that was such a yummy treat, and how she and Daddy loved eggnog even though they never convinced Anita and me to try it! I will remember how she adored her grandchildren and how Anita said that Santa couldn't compete with Granny and Papa! I will remember how Christmas was her favorite time of year. She always had a list going.... presents, menus, you name it - she was making a list and checking it twice! She made Christmas special! I will continue to honor her memory by making Christmas special for Seth and Jon and by carrying on our Christmas traditions with Papa and Nini and the rest of our family.

I love you, Mom! Thanks for the memories!!
Saturday, November 19, 2011

So Thankful!

Several of my friends are challenging themselves to think of one thing they are thankful for each day during the month of November. I think the month of November is the perfect time to reflect on the many, many things I have to be thankful for in my life. I am truly blessed, but often in the day to day business of life, I forget to stop and give thanks to God for all of the many blessings I have received. It has been fun to see the daily FB posts of my friends as they give thanks for gifts and blessings, both big and small. Here are a few of the things I am most thankful for:

I am a Christian and I know that I will have eternal life because God sent His Son to die for my sins. I never want to take this precious gift for granted. Because of this gift, I know that I will see my mother and other loved ones again one day in Heaven!

I am so thankful for my wonderful parents! They instilled in me the values that have made me the person I am today.

I was blessed with the husband I was meant to have…. On God’s timeline… not mine. I don’t regret the wait at all… Now I see that God allowed me to experience many things during those years as a single woman – even though at the time I whined a lot (sorry Mom and Nini) about being an “old maid”.

God blessed me with Seth, my most special miracle!

Seth is a healthy, smart, happy, gregarious, little boy who makes me laugh each and every day! He is definitely “social” and has a determined little spirit! I know that he will do great things!

Jon and I both have great jobs! We are blessed!

I work for a wonderful school district! Our superintendent is a remarkable Christian man – this is such a blessing!!

We have a safe, secure, pretty little house that we call home. I love going home every day and simply being together with my family.

Friends old and new – I am so thankful for dear friends who love me like I am…. Just a little bit hyper! LOL

My dad is doing better! Thank you God for this wonderful blessing! Each day with Dad is a gift!

As always, I am thankful for each moment I had with my mom! I am thankful for the many things she taught me about life – from the simple joys of cooking and how to keep a house clean to the huge life lessons!

Bentley and Clarabel – they bring a smile to my face each day!

I am thankful for my health! Yes, I have Crohn’s disease, but I have a terrific doctor who works hard to keep it under control.

Twenty years ago God used a bone marrow transplant to save the life of my then 16 month old niece. Paige is now 21 years old and is still our miracle!

We live in a country where we are free to live and worship as we choose! I am also thankful for the men and women who serve to protect those freedoms every day!

I am thankful for Seth’s school! Seth is getting a top notch education as well as being loved and nurtured each day!

God helped us get through Katrina. We were one of fortunate ones who had flood insurance! We were able to rebuild and put our lives back together. God used that time to help us understand what is truly important!

I have a husband who will help me with projects around the house AND who will willingly go shopping with me!

I am thankful for the large extended family that I grew up with – grandmothers, aunts, uncles and many cousins! My childhood memories are filled with images of holidays and vacations spent with so many loved ones!!

Family traditions!

I am thankful to be a Southern girl! There is nothing better than being born and raised in the South! I will probably do an entire post soon on “the joys of being Southern”.

The beauty of the world around us – May we never take God’s wonderful creations for granted!

There are SO many little blessings that I am thankful for each day! I did look at a blog recently in which the writer was listing 1000 things she was thankful for…. Perhaps, I should have started earlier :-). I can think of a multitude of tiny things though: rainbows, rainy days, curling up with a good book, delicious hot coffee, the smell of freshly mowed grass, the aroma of homemade soup simmering on the stove, Christmas music, old movies, Seth’s smile…I could go on and on!

Friends, I hope we all pause to remember our many blessings during this most special time of year! I wish for everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving!!!

This week I am linking to the following:

Inspiration Friday @

Friday, November 18, 2011

Blogger Woes....Help, please :-)

This is my attempt at being sweet and positive! I wanted to put a picture of me yelling in frustration!

Friends, I am desperately hoping that someone can help me. I am going nuts with my blog! Last week I wanted to make one change - I wanted to add the "You may also like" gadget at the bottom of each post. In the process of attempting that, I totally messed up my blog. My dear husband has spent hours trying to fix it. My background is no longer available. My husband chose another one from hogbliggity. It was okay, but not exactly what I was looking for.... I really want one with the pictures at the top like many of you have, but apparently I need blogging for dummies. LOL I don't think I am ready for that so until then I just want a simple, pretty blog! I tried again today to fix it and finally got one that I like. It is the pale yellow accented with blue. BUT, the old one (with the fall colors) will NOT disappear! It still shows up before the new one finally "settles" into place. Does anyone know how to fix this?? I have made sure the correct "code" is in the HTML gadget! I had someone in our technology department look at it and they couldn't figure it out either. Any advice?

Also, I haven't had any comments since the first issue last week. I was beginning to feel like I did when I didn't make cheerleader in highschool! I had my friend try to leave a comment and it wouldn't let her.....Again, any ideas? I wish blogger had a phone number! Obviously, none of you, my blogger friends, can leave me a comment to tell me what you think is wrong, but perhaps you could email me. I love my new hobby and I hate for things to not be perfect! THANKS SO MUCH!!!
Saturday, November 12, 2011

Thanksgiving Tablescape

Today I had fun as I shopped for the last minute items needed for my Thanksgiving tablescape. The funny thing is - we are going to my dad's for Thanksgiving, but I wouldn't dream of not setting the table for special holidays....even if we won't actually eat the meal in our home! I don't worry about saying that here because I bet most of you would totally agree with me. My sister is probably laughing right now though!!

I started with the place mats and napkins that I bought a few years ago. They are a soft muted "greeny-brown" and look perfect for this time of year. Next I added faux wood chargers that I picked up at Walmart. They are so pretty and were so inexpensive! Love it! The dinner plates are my Longaberger everyday dishes. I have them in blue, green, red, yellow, orange and purple. For this tablescape I used the green, yellow, orange and red because they just seem to fit with the colors of the season. For a salad plate, I chose inexpensive ones with a leaf motif that I also found at Walmart. They look so pretty together!!

As an aside, I will tell you that I originally wanted to use my Wedgewood Strawberry and Vine dinner plates and add Spode Woodland salad plates. I have wanted to purchase these little beauties for a while. I did "win" two on eBay, but finally decided it was not practical to try to purchase all of them this year. That is when I found the BH & G pieces at Walmart. They are perfect and cost only $20 for all of the salad plates and the chargers. I feel so frugal! Hopefully by next year though I will be able to use the Spode "turkey" plates. :-)

For the past year or two I have used my pheasants and plush pumpkins in my centerpiece. This year, though, I don't have a formal dining room so I decided to do something totally different. I finally decided to use an inexpensive gold tray that I found at Target. Next I added three apothecary jars and filled them with a variety of objects: dried beans and assorted nuts that I purchased at my local grocery store and two colors of silk ribbon. I added a small bow to one of the jars and scattered shimmering leaves around the base of the jars. They are so pretty and added the perfect finishing touch!!

I like the simplicity of the finished table :-)

I love the natural look of the walnuts and pecans in this apothecary jar! Plus, it reminds me of my childhood....we always found these in our stocking on Christmas morning!

As always, thanks for visiting Buttercup Bliss!!

I am linking to the following parties:

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Sister Time!

Anita and Me (I was going to put a picture of us last weekend, but we both looked a little tired after our long day of fun! I cheated and put this picture of us from last year.) 

This past weekend Seth and I went to visit my father and my sister (aka “Papa” and “Nini”).  My dad and Anita live about three hours away so I don’t see them every week.  It is such a treat to see them along with my niece and nephew.  My sister and I have always been super close! (In fact, when I moved to Natchez, MS after I finished college, I cried so when my family left me, I was practically sick!)  Anita threatened to not come visit me because I got so upset when she left.   We are only 13 months apart in age and have no other siblings.   We remain extremely close to this day!!  We talk every day – some days we talk multiple times!  I have always thought of Anita’s children, Paige and Spencer, as partly “mine”.  Since my mom passed away, Nini has become aunt and grandmother rolled into one for Seth. 
Needless to say I love any chance to have sister time.  Friday night the whole family enjoyed dinner at The Elite, one of our favorite Jackson, MS restaurants.  It is always such a delicious treat!! My dad always chooses the veal cutlets with gravy while Anita and I think the homemade enchiladas are out of this world!  Throw in the homemade rolls and “come-back” salad dressing and you have the most scrumptious meal you can imagine!
Saturday we spent the day shopping.  We went to a local antique/consignment store in Brandon.  I found the coolest vintage Pyrex dishes in the “last chance” room.  They are orange and just scream “retro”!  I got both of them for only nine dollars!  What a steal!!  I also got a Longaberger basket for only $17!  Why anyone would want to sell a Longaberger handmade basket is beyond me!! 
I can't wait to use my new, cool bowls! 
I love Longaberger! 
Seth is growing like a weed so we had to shop for new uniform pants and new shoes.  It seems like I just bought school shoes.  We did a little Christmas shopping too.  I get so excited when I find the perfect gift for someone!  We stumbled upon a precious happy that just screamed “Paige”, my niece who is 21.  I would show you but she is certainly reading this blog…. I hope!  While we were in another one of our favorite stores in Brandon, I saw this ring and just had to have it!  My sweet sister bought it for me.  Who needs rings that cost thousands of dollars when you can have something this cute for less than twenty dollars?  I wore it right out of the store! 
  Oh my goodness, where did this old lady hand come from?
Of course, we did manage to shop a little for ourselves.  The sale racks were calling our names!!  We both found a few things we couldn’t live without!  Anita found the coolest gray “poncho/shawl”  (hmmm… I don’t know what you call it).  It looked fabulous on her!  She is tall and thin - unlike her little sister!  
Our next stop was to Barnes and Noble to pick up the latest copies of Mississippi magazine and Delta magazine.  They are both so wonderful!  I love reading them each time a new issue is released.  They both are published six times a year and are just chock full of superb stories, recipes, decorating ideas and tons of information about our beloved Mississippi!  The highlight of the evening was enjoying our new magazines while watching Andy Griffith reruns – we both are addicted to Andy! 

Whew!  I didn’t mean for this to be such a long post!  If you stuck around for the whole story, thank you for listening to me ramble on about “sister” time!  It was such a wonderful weekend.  I can’t wait to go back to Brandon in a few weeks for Thanksgiving!  

This week I am linking to the following parties:

Nifty Thrifty Tuesdays @

Inspiration Fridays @
Thursday, November 3, 2011

Gallery Wall, Take 2

I know that you are all getting tired of me referring to our previous home, but..... I am about to do it again :-)  In our last home I had made a small gallery wall that I modeled after some fabulous gallery walls I had seen in magazines and, of course, on my favorite blogs.  You can read that original post here. When we moved in July, I really didn't see a perfect spot for a new gallery wall.  There was a nice, big wall in our master bedroom, but two other large pieces seemed to be a better fit for the area.  Lots of "near misses" but nothing seemed quite right.  Then last weekend, I decided to remove two framed pics that I had originally hung at the end (or beginning, depending on how you look at it) of our hallway.   They are two of my favorite pieces because they each have a Cavalier in them.  I decided to hang them in the laundry room - I had read a blog post last week that featured a wonderfully decorated laundry room.  I was so inspired!!!  I decided these would be a perfect addition to the room because Bentley and Clarabel, our Cavalier King Charles spaniels sleep in the laundry room while we are away.  See... it was meant to be!   This left the small wall at the end of our hallway empty, and thus, begging for a gallery wall.  (Gallery may be too fancy a word for our small grouping of pics - we just don't have the a large space like some of the galleries I have seen in my favorite magazines.)  Nonetheless, I wanted to utilize these family photos in our home so I just went for it.  Small and simple can be a good thing!

Just so you won't think that the pictures start too far to the right, please note that wall to the left of the pictures turns at a slight angle....... You can't see this in the picture, just trust me :-)  
As you can see, I like things symmetrical.  Balance is a good thing! 

In this new arrangement I added some current black and white photos in with the old family photos. (I had to take out the silhouette of me as a young girl.  it just wouldn't fit.)  It makes me smile to see the "bits and pieces" picture of Seth displayed near a photo of my daddy as a toddler.  I also have a picture of my sister and me and our three children.  This picture was a gift to our parents the last Christmas that we were blessed to have our mother with us. 
So sweet!  Little bits and pieces of my baby. 
The young lady you see just barely see in the other picture is my grandmother.  She is now 97!  

  Just for fun!  

Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend! Seth and I are going to see my dad and my sister and her family.  Enjoy the beautiful fall weather! 

I am linking to the following parties: 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Scrumptious Persimmon Bread

I have a confession:  Until recently I had never tasted a persimmon, in fact, I am not entirely sure I had ever even seen one!  This past weekend, however, I made persimmon bread that is SO good!  Seriously, it is awesome! It all started a few weeks ago when I wanted to go pick muscadines so that I could make homemade jelly.  My friends, Diane and Janine, and I went to the local muscadine farm and it was closed on that Friday afternoon.  I was so disappointed!  Diane said "If you really want to pick something, then let's go to my house and you can pick persimmons."  Hmmm, Diane, "what exactly do persimmons look like and what in the world will I do with them?"  My two friends thought this was so funny - I always have to remind them that I did not grow up in the country! (Not that the two items are related..... just pointing it out :-)

Anyway, Diane convinced me to come to her house, put on apron (a must have for the pictures) and pick some persimmons.  We did just that although the persimmons were not quite ripe (and the pictures of me in the apron made me look like a total cow, so those won't be shown!).  I took them home and put them on the counter upside down, per Diane, and waited for them to ripen.  Meanwhile, I searched for a persimmon bread recipe online.  I did modify the recipe slightly based on reader reviews. It turned out so well!!!  It reminded me somewhat of a Plum Cake that my mom used to make when I was little.  It is nutty and spicy - perfect for the upcoming holiday!  I had a piece just as it came out of the oven - with butter, because we all know butter makes it better!  It was fabulous!  I know that is a lot to say about bread, but it seriously is yummy!!

   Here they are: persimmons! 
Some of the persimmons seemed more ripe than the others.  I figured they all needed to be as soft as the ripest ones - so I decided to "smoosh" them.  This method worked fine and helped make them all have the same consistency.  
The batter tasted yummy!  I know some of you are freaking out because you don't taste raw batter, but it is just to good not to have a teensy little bite.  

I sent one loaf for Seth's sweet teacher yesterday.  

Persimmon Bread

1 cup persimmon pulp
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup water
3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease three 6 x 3 inch loaf pans.  ( I used 5 mini loaf pans - I had enough of the batter for 6 but didn't have another pan.  I decided to use the rest and make about 15 mini muffins.)
2.  In a small blow, stir together the persimmon pulp and baking soda.  Let stand 5 minutes to thicken the pulp.
3.  In a medium bowl, combine sugars, oil, eggs, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.  Blend until smooth.  Mix in persimmon pulp and water alternately with flour.  Fold in nuts.  Divide batter into the prepared pans, filling each pan 2/3 full.
4.  Bake for one hour in the preheated oven (I cooked the mini loaves approximately 40 minutes), or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Cool in pan for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

This would be great for brunches, holiday snacks or a quick week day breakfast.  Enjoy!!

This week I am linking to the following parties: