Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Greatest Generation two point 0?

We've all heard about "The Greatest Generation".  Folks my grandparents age who lived through the horrors of World War II.  It always amazes me how this great country came together with rations, victory gardens & scrap drives.   Folks from all walks of life, old, young, rich, poor went out of their way to do the right thing.   EVERYBODY did it.  It was just expected. It was the right thing to do!

 Rosie the Riveter went to work when all the men went off to war.   

Everyone from school children to celebrities were happy to help.   I realize that a great evil was in the world at that time and although we aren't fighting Nazis or fascism, we are fighting a war.   America is fighting poverty and a terrible economy.   I saw an episode last week of one of those news magazine shows about an entire town that has basically been wiped off the map due to loss of manufacturing jobs.   When are we, as American citizens, going to wake up?  Are we waiting for the government to step in as they did in WWII to encourage it's citizens to help ourselves?   I don't think that's going to happen.  And let's face it, even if it did in this day and age we are such a jaded generation would we actually participate?  

What is the answer?  I don't know.  But I do know that thousands of our jobs are going overseas for cheaper manufacturing.  Why? I believe the answer is simple:  Greed.  Companies can make more money by cheaper labor.  As a result, our countrymen are suffering.

I think we need a renewed grass-roots effort in this country to BUY AMERICAN MADE PRODUCTS!  If we demanded it, the manufacturing companies would have to follow our needs/demands.  Our country is a HUGE consumer group.   We are shooting ourselves in the foot each & every time we go to the store and buy something made in China or another foreign country.   

Okay, I won't stay on this soapbox long.  After all, I'm as guilty as the next person.  But my New Year's Resolution for 2012 is BUY AMERICAN!  We've trained ourselves to look at food labels for fat/calorie content & preservatives for health reasons.  Let's now train ourselves to look for that MADE IN THE USA tag.  In the end we only have ourselves to blame if we don't become more independent and bring jobs back to our cities and neighborhoods. 

Maybe we need some celebrities to get on board?    Who would you like to see stepping on this bandwagon?  If it was COOL to buy American Made, we couldn't keep folks away!  

Just my thoughts...thanks for listening!

Take good care,

Monday, December 26, 2011

They call him the Brees....

CONGRATULATIONS to my favorite athlete, QB Drew Brees.  He broke a long standing record for the most yards in passing tonight.    Even better, he was IN THE DOME, with a TOUCHDOWN, on MONDAY NIGHT football while beating the dirty birds!!!    

Brees is an awesome football player, but more importantly he's an awesome person.   

Makes me so happy!  Congrats Drew!!!  
WHO DAT!!!???


One of my heroes.  Such a great player, husband, father & citizen of the planet.   Not to mention a cutie petutie!! :)

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas to all!  Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Pajamas, Hazelnuts & Camp Fire Girls

Cecilia, Cindy Gail & Charlotte circa 1968 (I'm in the middle just turned 6)  at the Big House, Jackson, Louisiana.

 Here we are Christmas, 1972.  The prince has arrived!   Carlton was almost 1 year old.  No matching gown for him..good old footie pjs!!

I LIKE to give my momma a hard time about having so few photographs of us as children.  I know it was the early 1960's, but really?  Video cameras had been invented for quite a while, albeit expensive.  Couldn't you have purchase a few less barbie dolls & invested in one?  lol  All kidding aside, I know she was a very busy lady...raising a house full of princesses (and later a prince), whilst being a career woman (a rarity for mom's back then), cooking hot breakfasts & dinners for us every night, all the while keeping the house clean and holding up the world on her shoulders.   So, I DO understand.  That being said, I also wish I had more photographs to treasure.   The older we get, the more old memories are held so dear to our hearts.  I've been remembering my sisters & I and our cute little Camp Fire Girl & majorette uniforms, wishing I could see a picture.

This is one of those rare photographs that I will always treasure.   My momma made some wonderful Christmas traditions.  One of which was allowing us each to open one gift on Christmas Eve night.  We could always count on it being new matching pajamas, mostly those precious little flannel gowns. Then we would all take baths, put them on & take a photo in front of the mantel of our 150 year old house.  This is a tradition that I continue to this day with my sons & grandchildren.  Although not matching... (brothers/boys are not nearly as excited about matching ANYTHING as my sisters and I were-haha).    
Another tradition that my momma had for us was ALWAYS having fresh fruit & nuts in our stockings.  I think this was something she carried over from her childhood.  It's probably all they had in their stockings on some Christmas mornings.  My boys used to give me a hard time about throwing the occasional orange or hazelnut in the bottom of their stocking, but it makes me happy.  It makes me think of my momma & how blessed I am to still have her.

These are a few of the precious "gifts" my momma gave to us as children.  A holiday tradition is not something you can purchase on Black Friday, or wrap under the tree, but it is indeed PRICELESS!!!

If you have young children, go make some of your own.  It's generally the mother who establishes these wonderful blessings into a family, but it doesn't have to be.    I've laughed this week at a friend who gets annoyed by all the Elf on a Shelf goings on... but I sort of like it.  It's a cute tradition that I was blessed to be able to gift to my grandsons this year.   My son & daughter-in-law have enjoyed the fun they've had with "Fredzart" the scout elf.      

Go out & make a holiday tradition today. If you don't have children, make one with your next door neighbor who doesn't have family or your favorite Aunt or Uncle.  AND please, please don't forget to snap a photograph.  Sometimes I realize we're all too busy LIVING our life, but your kids will love you for it later!!

Happy Christmas!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

To grandmother's house we go.... weee

I LOVE Christmas & all the maddening madness (wait that's sort of redundant--oh well, that's exactly what it is)! Speaking of Christmas, I've been singing that song "Over the river and through the woods" all day... Anyway, I digress,as, if you read my blog very often, you know I tend to do. A LOT.

One of my favorite things to give at Christmas is my momma's recipe for homemade hot chocolate.  Once you drink this, you'll never, ever want to drink the boxed kind again! I'm not much of a "generic" brand purchaser.   Sometimes you DO get what you pay for.  That being said, the great thing about this recipe is that you CAN purchase off-brand ingredients because once it's all mixed together you can never taste the difference!   

Here's the recipe.  NOTE: I usually double the recipe per batch.  (My 3 sons used to drink this stuff up by the gallon... oh wait, they drank up EVERYTHING by the gallon):

  • 24 oz box dry powdered milk  (I buy a HUGE box as Sam's each year & it makes several batches)
  • 1 c. non-dairy creamer (I've never tried a flavored one, but it probably is good)
  • 2 c. powdered sugar
  • 16 oz. instant chocolate drink mix (I've used both Nestle Quik & off brand..can't taste the difference!)
  • mini choc chips, mini marshmallows (as desired to top)

DIRECTIONS to make dried mix:
Mix all ingredients in a VERY LARGE container with a tight-fitting lid & shake, shake, shake. Let the "chocodust" settle before opening. Then scoop into jars or ziploc bags. 

Just add about 3 TB of dry mix with cup of HOT WATER...and of course a giant splash of Bailey's or your favorite adult beverage is optional! 

Keep it sealed & it'll last all winter!  (too bad our Louisiana winters only last about 10 minutes..but I can cut the air conditioner down to 60 and drink away!)

Here's how I packaged some for gifts this year in small mason jars. Layered it with mini choco chips & mini marshmallows so that you can see it through the glass...kind cool.

I cut out circles from burlap ribbon and lined the mason jar lids with it.

Stamped some brown paper for tags with my favorite design...a fleur de lis:

Tied tags with a little twine & voila!  Gifts for folks at my hubby's office!

Be seeing ya!


Sunday, December 18, 2011

This is what love can do......

I have a heart for animals...mainly dogs.  These precious four-legged souls actually LOVE us more than they love themselves.   They are the most unselfish creatures that would willingly & automatically lay down their own lives to protect their owners.    In return, they only ask for a warm bed, a warm heart, an occasional hug or scratch behind an ear & a good square meal.  Not much I'd say.     

I believe that we will all be answerable for the souls we encounter on this earth some day, and that includes helpless animals.   If my path crosses a helpless dog, I feel like God sent them into my path for a reason.  Dogs don't have human voices to speak, legs to stand upright, or hands to help themselves, make a phone call or knock on a door.  Those who are lost, abandoned, neglected or mistreated depend on humans to look after them.   They are helpless to help themselves.   

Next time you see a stray or underfed or mistreated or abused animal, ask yourself if you were in their place wouldn't you want someone to speak for you! 

This is an animal rescued recently by like-minded friends.   This is what love can do.... Frannie is living proof that YOU & I can make a difference.  One four-legged soul at a time!

FRANNIE before: severely neglected by her owners on the day of her rescue:
 This is Frannie after a few months of proper love & care:

I know some of my friends & family get tired of hearing me harp on this issue sometimes (although MANY of them feel the same as I do) and the rest of them are kind enough to listen. I simply don't understand how folks can turn their hearts OFF to these beautiful creatures.  

Please consider OPENING your heart & home to a four-legged soul this holiday season.  Adopt or foster an animal and see what love can do. 

God Bless,

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Bells will be ringing...

Wow...there's only a week 'til Christmas!  Where did the time go?   I've been trying to get my Christmas cards out for 2 weeks, but to no avail.  Seems like I keep getting distracted by shiny things & Christmas music.   I hope to get them in the mail on Monday so please don't give up on me.

In the meantime, I finally finished my Christmas decorations.   Since our nest is empty it seems like such a chore to drag out the tree & all the trimmings. But I sure am glad once I do.  The twinkling of Christmas lights seem to make for a happier world.  It's like a little walk down memory lane with each ornament I hang.  I'm not much for traditional trees.  My tree looks like something Dr Seuss would be proud of, sporting all varieties of quirky ornaments like dancing monkeys & bejeweled cows.  It's full of bright colors, pink, purple, red, green & blue.  

I love the mixture of newly discovered ornaments with some of my boys' old favorites.  Each one telling a different story from our lives.  I realized as I put the tree together this year, that it's a very special gumbo filled with ingredients specific to our family.  Once I'm gone nobody else will appreciate all the sweet little memories each ornament brings flooding into my mind & heart.   

Garrett's soccer ball brings back a cute little tan boy wearing glasses and running up and down a soccer field with wild abandon.

 The Woody ornament with the thrice re-glued leg & the word "Caleb" written on the boot bottom makes me think of the cutest little strawberry-blonde boy wearing a pair of undersized Buzz Lightyear pajamas romping through the house, excited for Santa Claus's visit.  

Cammo Santa Claus riding a three-wheeler makes me remember how much Justin loved living up at the feedlot and deer hunting every year.

And of course there is the precious red fire truck & indian (the feather kind) that I bought for my grandsons the very first year they joined our forever family.  

I was just about to feel a bit melancholy when I spied the cruiser with the Christmas tree strapped on top which always makes me chuckle.  It reminds me of the year that Caleb & I drove around Baton Rouge with a tree strapped to the top of my car.  It was there for so long that I had forgotten about it by the time I had driven home to park & went tearing into the garage ripping the overhead door off the hinges!   We almost peed ourselves laughing.  Gary will never let me live that down.  

There's Poppa Day's favorite Harley Davidson riding Santa ..the fat cat who reminds me of our longtime cat with a weight problem, Cleo...
finally...the most precious ornament of all is the cross reminding us of the reason for the season.  After all, it's why we celebrate in the first place...

I'm quite sure the origin of the Christmas tree has nothing to do with me & my family, but I'm so thankful for every single thing it represents, including the friends & family members it reminds me of.  Each ornament is like a little "movie memory"  in my mind & heart. It makes me feel truly blessed, which is what the season is supposed to do.   

I have 2 other small trees that I put up each year.  Gary's Grinch tree. (The older he gets the more grinchy he seems..but unlike the story, his heart is NOT 2 sizes too's 10 sizes larger!!)  He loves his Grinch tree & I think he enjoys his reputation as a grump sometimes too. 

Finally, my "pepto tree" celebrates all things pink & tacky.  It sits on my back screen porch & I love to gaze at it's gaudiness..usually with a cocktail of some sort in hand.   If you're ever in the neighborhood, stop by & join me!   I'll let you oooh & ahhh at it's spectacular glorious-ness (& provide you with a cocktail of your choice). The more you drink, the more awesome it becomes!

I hope you enjoy the rest of my decorations..including our growing row of Christmas stockings, Gary's vintage "Troy Boy" bear & a centerpiece I threw together using unused ornaments. 

I wish you all a wonderful Christmas season, filled with love, laughter & a feeling of awe for the beautiful gift that God gave us all over 2,000 years ago.

Merry Christmas & God Bless,

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Wise Men Still Seek Him....

So thankful for this time of year. I was driving home tonight listening to Christmas carols.  I realized how happy the beautiful sounds of the season make me.  Not the new stuff, but the classics.   To be more precise, my favorite music is actually classical....I'm talking Handel & Bach.  Yes, I'm a nerd. I listen to classical music.   It feeds my soul.  Much of it seems other-worldly.   Just because it's a few centuries old doesn't mean it isn't timely & beautiful.    I so love the traditions of Christmas caroling. In fact, I wish I could go back in time & live in Victorian era London for just one Christmas season.   I love the rich history and beautiful sights, sounds & smell of the holidays.   

There are so many holiday traditions, both universal and specific family memories but my FAVORITE thoughts this time of year are of a stable over 2,000 years ago where the Hope of the world was born.    Angels appeared to shepherds,  kings were summoned by celestial stars, and God himself came in flesh.  It was the beginning of the greatest story ever told.  I'm so thankful that even though I am undeserving of forgiveness, love & hope, God saw fit to give me this beautiful gift.   

My wish for us all is that we can enjoy this beautiful season and remember where it all began.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

German Chocolate Brownies

Starting to do a bit of baking for various Christmas gatherings.  Saw some wonderful looking deserts on my friend, Mindy Lovell's, FB page & she was kind enough to share one of them with me.  It combines brownie type batter with, pecans, chocolate & caramels..and these, my friend, are a few of my FAVORITE THINGS! 

They look sort of weird when you are baking them, but they turn out awesome & delicious!!

Here's what you'll need:


German chocolate cake mix; 
1/2c butter (I always use REAL butter!) - softened
1/3c milk 
11oz rolo candies (chopped into small pieces)
Chopped pecans (I used approx 3/4 to 1 cup)--the recipe says they are optional..but for me, they are NEVER optional!!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix first 3 ingredients & spread half (ONLY 1/2) of batter in 13x9 dish. (I coated mine with Pam). At first you may think you have done something wrong since it's very THICK.  But it's okay.  You pretty much have to use the back of a large spoon to spread it out. Spread into bottom & make sure to cover entire pan.  Don't be tempted to use more than 1/2.. you will need everything left at the end.  It will look something like this:

 Bake this mixture for 8 minutes.  When you remove it it will look like a very thin brownie. DON'T over bake.   Here is a picture of mine right out of the oven:

Remove from oven & sprinkle the chopped up rolos & pecans evenly over the top.  The recipe says to "crumble" remaining batter..but honestly it's more like a "dollop".   Just put large chunks of it all over the top evenly amongst the yummy chunks of rolos & pecans. It looks like this before the final baking.  The dark chunks on top are unbaked.

Pop back into the oven & bake for around 17-18 minutes.  BE CAREFUL NOT TO OVERBAKE!!!   Use timer & don't try to judge by look.   

What comes out is a yummy, warm batch of happiness in your mouth!!!   

Let cool completely & cut into brownie size squares.  Enjoy!

SINCE THE ORIGINAL posting of this recipe, at a friend's suggestion (thanks Amanda)..I added some coconut.  (I used the canned type with syrup so it wouldn't dry out)... IT WAS SIMPLY delicious!!  Especially if you like German Chocolate cake!!