Friday, March 30, 2012

What's for Dessert? Apple Dump Cake

Apple Dump Cake

Every one's favorite question at my house is "What's for Dessert?' This recipe is certainly not a new one, but well worth pulling out of the file for two reasons: 1) it is easy and 2) it has only 3 basic ingredients - OK, 3) it is delicious! Somewhere this week, I heard someone talking about dump cakes and was reminded so I decided to make it for dessert last night. I happened to have all the ingredients without making a Publix run, so that made it even better.

1 box yellow cake mix

2 cans apple pie filling (or any other pie filling)

2 sticks of butter

Spread both cans of apples on the bottom of a lightly greased baking dish. Sprinkle whole box of cake mix over the apples. Slice the butter and place pieces all over the top. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes or until browned. Serve warm with ice cream or whipped topping. (We used ice cream!) A pretty serving dish makes it special!

Review from my husband:  "it's the best thing you have made in a long time"!

So... stock up - cake mix, butter and pie filling! Easy to have "on hand" for a spur of the moment dessert! Enjoy! Have a great weekend!

What's for Breakfast?

Ham and Cheese Biscuits

Here is a quick and easy recipe for breakfast! I made some for a friend a while back and she requested the recipe. I looked and looked but didn't find it anywhere. I've made them for so long without a recipe! We love breakfast at our house and this is one we can have on a school morning and make it to school on time!

Take one can of biscuits and press them together (on a baking sheet) in a rectangle, sealing the edges.
( I used a 10 count Publix brand.)

Sprinkle with ham and cheese. I used about a half cup of ham and a cup of shredded cheese. I buy chopped ham from Publix and keep on hand for recipes like this one. You can also used chopped bacon (cooked) and, of course, you can use any kind of cheese. My personal favorite is ham and mozzarella like this one.

Carefully roll up your "rectangle" and cut into 1 inch slices.

Place each slice into a muffin pan that has been sprayed with Pam. You will lose some ham and cheese in the process of rolling it up. Just sprinkle it on top! Bake according to temperature on the biscuit package until browned.

 Makes even a canned biscuit taste great!
Served with a bowl of fresh fruit and a hot cup of coffee, you have a great breakfast! Enjoy!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Thankful Thursday - Spiritual Influence

"Commit your works to the Lord, and your thoughts will be established."
Proverbs 16:3

My Bible given to me by my parents on my promotion from the Beginner to the Primary department!
I have been thinking lately about all the people who have influenced me spiritually and how thankful I am to have had these spiritual leaders at different stages of my life - people who were "called" to minister to others. It would not be possible to list every single person but there are some that are exceptionally memorable to me along my life's journey!

  1. Gertrude B. French (October 23, 1893 - May 1, 1988) - Anyone who grew up in Brundidge, Alabama, during her life has to remember Mrs. French. She was every one's piano teacher. It would be interesting to know how many people she taught piano lessons. I first knew Mrs. French as my first grade Sunday School teacher in the Primary department. I remember to this day walking into her classroom and being welcomed with open arms. Mrs. French loved the Lord and she loved children. Teaching children was her calling. She used her God given talent in her life's work. An amazing life of 94 years, she will forever be in my heart for what she meant to me at a young age.
  2. Rev. A. Ray Foreman (Pastor of Salem Baptist Church 1963 - 1986) - There's never been a more faithful servant of the Lord. It was under his leadership that I became a Christian. Honored in 2011 by the Alabama Senior Citizens Hall of Fame with the Religion Award for serving the Lord 61 of his 81 years and for his work with Senior Adults, he was quoted "I'm not really deserving of this award and it is the Lord I really want to give credit to". I give the Lord credit for placing him in Brundidge, Alabama, and the positive influence he had there.
  3. Buddy Gray (Summer Youth Director Salem Baptist Church - 1978) - Now Rev. Buddy Gray,  Pastor of Hunter Street Baptist Church in Hoover. Buddy was the youth minister at Salem Baptist Church the summer before I started to college. One summer night, a group of us went on jogging. Before you think that I might have one day been athletic, let me clarify that I only made it to the end of the street. Buddy walked with me the rest of the way and we talked about me going to college. He asked me the question, "will you still go to church?" In other words, he was asking if I would still go when I didn't have to! My answer, "of course, I will". Never did I ever forget that conversation when I went away to college, and that conversation inspired me to stay on course in my life.
  4. Rev. Herb Thomas (Pastor of Circlewood Baptist Church) - There is much to be said about the influence of Bro. Herb. Compassion, Caring and Consistency come to mind. Bro. Herb was the minister who conducted our wedding. When we said, for better or worse, I think he took that vow also. He was definitely with us for better, for worse - our wedding, the birth of both babies as well as through Annie's medical complications and surgeries and the diagnosis of my cancer and subsequent treatment. What awesome, caring ministers that both he and Mrs. Virginia have been to our family!
  5. Rev. Billy Joy (Current Pastor of Valley View Baptist Church) - When we visited Valley View  for the first time, it was Billy and Mary Jaque's first day. We were the first family he visited. What an amazing testimony he has to share! I love how he shares messages directly from the Word of God that are relevant and easy to understand.  Also, I love how he reminds us that God's mercies are fresh each day! Aren't we all glad that is true?

So, for today, be thankful for the people who commited their work unto the Lord, thus
influencing your life in a positive way!

Share your stories!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Fortitude in the Final Four

You know from my last blog that I am all about the "stories" behind the sport! Whether it's football, baseball, basketball or any other sport, I love to hear the personal angle to the athletes or in this case, the coach. Today, I ran across this story of Ohio State's basketball coach and how he deals with a "handicap" and yet is coaching his team to the Final Four. Here is the story of Thad Matta and his determination to live with the mobility problem that was caused by years of back problems and eventual surgery.

For anyone who has physical/mental challenges or "handicaps" (I am personally not offended by this word), there are certainly lessons to be learned from Coach Matta! First of all, there is no need to hide! Second, never give up - always work hard! Third, it is OK to accept help when needed! Fourth, live your life to the best of your ability!

The definition of
fortitude [fawr-ti-tood, -tyood] 
Part of Speech: noun
Definition: strength of mind; guts
Synonyms: backbone*, boldness, braveness, bravery, constancy, courage, courageousness, dauntlessness, determination, endurance, fearlessness, firmness, grit, gutsiness, hardihood, heart, intrepidity, mettle, moxie, nerve, patience, perseverance, pith, pluck, resoluteness, resolution, spine, spirit, spunk, stamina, starch, staying power, stick-to-itiveness, stomach, stoutheartedness, tenacity, true grit, valiancy, valor, valorousness, what it takes
Antonyms: cowardice, helplessness, weakness

As a "Moma" of a child with multiple needs, I'm glad I read this story today. It helps me to remember to accept it for what it is, to always work toward our goals, to accept help and to keep living our life. With the kind of fortitude that Coach Matta displays, there is no telling what ladders she will climb. As for the Final Four, I am not a serious basketball fan but I'll be watching for him to climb the next ladder and then the next one in New Orleans! 

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Take Me Out to the Ballgame

Sewell-Thomas Stadium "The Joe"
University of Alabama

One of our favorite spring and summer past times is baseball! While we all enjoy it from different perspectives, we all enjoy it just the same! From the singing of the National Anthem to the final out!

The American Flag
I love the singing of the National Anthem! Hands over hearts at attention showing love for our country - always moving! So glad that this week, one of Elle's teachers required each student to sing the National Anthem. Good for her!

Annie's favorite part of the game has to be the music! She moves to the beat of Yea, Alabama, The Cotton Eyed Joe and more!


Elle would certainly say that the ice cream, the dipping dots, the chills and the popcorn are her favorites! Especially if it comes in a batting helmet! We have a collection of batting helmets that we have collected from our baseball travels. We use them as serving dishes at baseball themed gatherings.  Last spring, we even used them to serve grits from a grits bar at a brunch for baseball parents. It was a fun idea! Check out our collection!

As for Barry, he is all about the game! Earned run averages, hitting streaks, batting averages, errors, pitch count, RBIs - he doesn't miss a thing! He records every move on his scorecard - sometimes just for fun and sometimes for his job as a writer and freelance statistician. Check out his baseball blogs at

As for me, it's all about the stories. I enjoy the game and I enjoy it more when I know something about the players. Every time Hunter Gregory comes to bat for Alabama,

I remember how kind he was to Annie when the Bama Baseball Team hosted the Christmas Party at Annie's school, Sprayberry Education Center. Stories like this one
or this one
show the character of the team and it's the character of these guys and their coaches that makes me cheer for them - win or lose!

We love the friends we have made through baseball! Whether watching our home team or traveling, we've met so many great friends along the way. Elle has grown up hanging out at the ball park with our sweet friend, Katlin!

Here is a great treat to share with friends at the ball park:

Chocolate Pecan Pie Squares

From sea to shining sea, in ballparks across America, great guys are playing a great game. Fans are honoring our great country! Families like ours are enjoying hotdogs, popcorn and ice cream while cheering on our favorite teams! Who is your favorite team? Little League, College or Professional - leave a comment on the blog site or on Facebook. Would love to know who you are cheering for!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Thankful Thursday - Tis A Blessing To Be

It's "Thankful Thursday" again and I wanted to share with you how I came about titling my blog "Tis A Blessing to Be". When I was thinking about starting to share my experiences, recipes, ideas, etc. I just kept thinking that I just want to be a blessing to others. My life's journey has hit quite a few bumps in the road, and I'm still blessed in so many ways! When I was going through cancer treatment and dealing with Annie's medical problems all at the same time, my physician asked me one day how I was doing. He was a bit surprised by my response - "I'm doing great, compared to so many others I know!" You see, I had spent MANY hours at DCH Cancer Treatment Center and The Children's Hospital of Alabama and YES there were people in worse condition than Annie and me. When we get all down in the dumps, we really don't have to look far to find someone less fortunate. Now, that doesn't mean that I don't get down, it's just that I try to put all things in perspective. I am truly blessed !

'Tis Blessed to Be Alive - when I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, I was told that their was treatment but no cure! Last year, I was told that I am possibly cured!!!

Now to him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above
all that we ask or think. Ephesians 3:20

'Tis Blessed to Be a Wife - I did not find "Mr. Right" until "later in life". I always believed that he was out there somewhere and then one, unsuspecting moment at an Auburn/Alabama football game in Auburn, a mutual friend of ours told me about a guy she wanted me to meet. "Sure", I said. Around the same time our hairdresser (Libby still cuts both mine and Barry's hair) was talking to Barry about me. He called a few days later and the rest is history.

Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the
 desires of your heart. Psalms 37:4

'Tis Blessed to Be a Mom - I cannot tell you how many people told me that I might not be able to get pregnant "at your age". Well, God had other plans. He immediately blessed us with the most beautiful blond haired, blue eyed baby girl you have ever seen (Elle)! Just 9 days short of two years, later we were blessed with our sweet Annie! Two beautiful girls!

I have prayed for this child and the Lord has granted
me what I asked of him. I Samuel 1:27
'Tis Blessed to Be a Daughter - On May 23, 1960, I was born to Robert and Nell McLendon - what a great day for me! I feel so blessed to be the daughter of a marriage that celebrated 55 years before my Dad passed away in 2010. Being their daughter taught me so much about love, life, responsibility and so much more!

Honor thy father and mother, and this is the first
commandment with promise. Ephesians 6:2

'Tis Blessed to Be a Child of God - On July 16, 1976, I accepted Christ as my personal Lord and Savior and began the awesome journey of being a Christian. My faith has carried my through the ups and downs in my life.

For God so loved the world that he gave his only son that,
whosoever believes in him shall have eternal life. John 3:16

Now it's your turn to fill in the blank!

'Tis Blessed to be ____________________
                              Count your many blessings!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A Sip of Springtime - Cranberry Limeade

Happy Spring!

Here is a simple, refreshing drink that is perfect to celebrate the beginning of Spring! Invite some friends over, sit on the porch and sip some Cranberry Limeade!

1 12 oz. pkg. frozen limeade, made according to pkg. directions
2 cups cranberry juice
2 limes, thinly sliced
Ice cubes

Combine the limeade, cranberry juice and lime slices and stir until blended. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve. Serve over ice. A light, refreshing drink!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Gift Record

Have you ever been  the friend who was asked to record the gifts at a shower  or party and you had to look around and find some paper - any paper - sometimes lined, sometimes not - just whatever you can find? Have you ever been the bride at a wedding shower or the expecting mom at a baby shower and gotten home to sort your gifts and then had questions about the gift and/or giver - maybe the gift cards were not attached? Well, I have created a form to use for gift giving events like showers, parties, etc. It includes: 1) The Occasion - church shower, work baby shower, family birthday party - you name it! Many times, a bride or expecting mom will have several parties. Labeling the gift list will help to keep her organized for writing her "thank you" notes. 2) The Recorder - include the name of the person(s) who recorded the gifts as they were opened. Often, the honoree is so busy greeting guests that they may not know who recorded the gifts. In case of questions, it will be helpful for her to know who to call. 3) The Date and 4) The Location. All of this information will help the honoree to stay organized and she will appreciate your efforts.

A few other points to remember:
1) Always print! It will be easier to read.
2) Be detailed - instead of "glasses", use "set of six clear glasses", for example.
2) For the giver, always include full name if given. There might be more than one Susan, for example.
3) Make notes, if needed, to help the honoree sort her gifts. For example, if you decide to put a gift in a box or bag with something else, be sure to let her know where to find them.
4) Print several copies of the form so that you don't run out of spaces.
5) Use a clipboard for a secure writing surface.
6) Staple or paper clip the pages together.
7) Give the complete list directly to the honoree so that she doesn't have to look through boxes and bags to find it.

You can download the "Gift Record" I created,  for your own use,  by following this link....

Please let me know if you find this form useful and anything else
that you think might need to be included!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Thankful Thursday - Spring Break!

And just like that, it's Thursday again! Where does the time go? Well, it's Spring Break around here and it has been a pretty "laid back" week so far! Today, I am thankful for:

1) A break from the routine! A chance for the family to enjoy time together without the hustle and bustle of our normal routine. A time to get away from the homework, test, laundry, deadlines, etc.!

2) Time for some rest and relaxation! No alarm clocks! Don't have to be anywhere at any certain time! I've read more this week than I have in the past 6 months!

3) Beautiful spring weather! Not too hot, not too cool - perfect for enjoying baseball, reading outside on the porch, playing outside and all the things we enjoy doing.

4) For a vacation AND a "staycation"! I have read some commentary this week about whether or not you really have to go away for spring break or just have fun at home. I am thankful that we have experienced both - a couple of days away and some time at home - a winning combination!

5) My cousins - this weekend, I will have the opportunity to host my first cousins and their families for our first "Cousin's Day". My grandparents on my Dad's side, Papa and Granny, had 13 children - 11 of which they raised to adulthood (one died as an infant and one at age 9). So I have over 40 first cousins!! I am so excited about those who will be able to join us this weekend for a fun time to enjoy what we used to enjoy every week!! Growing up, we went to Papa and Granny's every Sunday. Granny always cooked and we just all showed up. She didn't ever know exactly who was coming but there was always plenty of food, complete with peach pie and/or chocolate pudding. I'll be trying to make these this weekend and, if they turn out to be as good as hers, I'll share the recipes!! Somehow, I don't think they will, but maybe they will be close enough!

If you are on "Spring Break", I hope you are enjoying your vacation or "staycation" and finding time to stop and be thankful for your many blessings! If your spring break is yet to come, then look forward to it, anticipating some great time for rest, relaxation and renewal - whatever you decide to do!

Monday, March 12, 2012


RADIATE was written by Marley Harbuck Gibson who grew up in my hometown of Brundidge, Alabama, and cheered at my high school, Pike Liberal Arts School. It is based on the true story of her cancer survival while a teenager in high school. The book is due out soon and I can't wait to read it!


Hayley Matthews is determined to be the best cheerleader she can. She works hard and pushes herself 110% all the time....Then Hayley finds a lump on her leg. The diagnosis is cancer. The prognosis is unclear. She could lose her leg. Or maybe her life. At first Haley is scared, terrified. In an instant, everything she’s worked for seems out of reach. But Haley is strong. She’s going to fight this disease. She will not let it take her life or her dreams.  (

Editorial Reviews (


"RADIATE is a word that aptly describes this novel. I found myself caught in the tight grip of hope and determination. A story as extraordinary and as powerful as this one will affect the reader long after the book is finished, especially after knowing the source of the author's inspiration." - Colleen Houck, NYT Bestselling Author

"RADIATE shows readers that the power of positive thinking can change lives!" - Simone Elkeles, NYT Bestselling Author

"I have never read a writer with a voice as characteristic and consistent! I love it!" - Jennifer Echols, author of Going Too Far and Forget You

"Radiate shows readers that the power of positive thinking can change lives!"--New York Times bestselling author Simone Elkles
"Whether she's writing about teen ghost huntresses or a cheerleader battling cancer, Marley Gibson has such a distinctive voice. I have never read a writer with a voice as characteristic and consistent. Love it!" - Jennifer Echols, author of GOING TOO FAR and FORGET YOU
"Radiant is a word that aptly describes this new novel by Marley Gibson. Hayley’s startling journey as a teen fighting cancer is intense and astonishing and I found myself caught in the tight grip of hope and determination. A story as extraordinary and as powerful as this one will affect the reader long after the book is finished, especially after knowing the source of the author’s inspiration."--Colleen Houck, New York Times best-selling author of Tiger's Curse. "This book is about a tough and fun and cool cheerleader, who still keeps cheering after her diagnosis, and tries to maintain a normal life, the only right [thing] to do in this situation, and I can only cheer, cheer, cheer for Hayley's positive attitude and the positivity that radiates through this amazing book! I loved the way it was written, thumbs up to Marley Gibson! Impressive and highly recommended!!"--Marjoleinbookblog

From the Author

RADIATE is a fictionalized version of the cancer author Marley Gibson went through when she was a high school cheerleader.

Here is the book trailer for Radiate - Check it out!

Friday, March 9, 2012

What's for Lunch?

Just thought I would share with you a few recipes that combined for a delicious lunch prepared for some very special ladies to thank them for working above and beyond the call of duty!

Chicken with Orzo Pasta

1 cup orzo pasta
1- 1 1/2 lb. pkg. boneless chicken
1 T. olive oil
3 T. butter
2 T. onion flakes
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Salt and Pepper
3 T. flour
1/2 C. chicken broth
1 C. milk
1/2  C. grated Parmesan cheese
1 small jar chopped pimento, drained
1 C. cooked frozen sweet peas

1 C. fresh bread crumbs
1/2 t. paprika
1 t. dried parsley flakes
2 T. melted butter

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Cut into bite size pieces. In a large skillet, add olive oil over medium heat. Add chicken and cook until browned, stirring frequently. Remove chicken and set aside. Melt 3 T. of butter in the skillet. Add onion flakes and garlic and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the flour until blended. Add chicken broth and milk. Cook, stirring, until thickened. Add the Parmesan cheese, pimento, and peas. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir the chicken and pasta into the mixture. Spoon into a lightly greased 11 X 7 inch baking dish. Combine topping ingredients and sprinkle over top of casserole. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20-25 minutes or until bubbly.

Bagel Chip Salad

24 oz. salad greens of your choice
1/2 C. chopped pecans
1 bag of bagel chips (broken up)
4 oz. crumbled feta cheese
1 Granny Smith apple, chopped
2 oz. Craisins

1/2 C. sugar
1/2 C. olive oil
1/4 C. apple cider vinegar
1 T. poppy seeds
1/4 C. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 t. paprika
1 1/2 t. onion flakes

Mix all dressing ingredients together and refrigerate until ready to serve. Layer salad ingredients in any order. Toss with dressing just before serving. The Bagel Chips just make this salad!

Garlic Sourdough Loaf

1 cup butter, softened
1 T. minced garlic
1/4 C. grated Parmesan cheese
1 T. garlic salt
1 t. Italian dressing
1/2 t. black pepper
1/4 t. paprika
 2 small sourdough loaves (I purchased from the Publix bakery)

Combine first 7 ingredients and mix until smooth. Carefully slice bread loaves (without cutting all the way through) first horizontally and then vertically to form bread sticks. Spread butter mixture throughout the bread sticks. Wrap in aluminum foil and heat until butter is completely melted. I placed mine in the oven with the chicken dish.

Pecan Pie Squares

1 8 oz. can Pillsbury crescent dinner rolls
1/2 C. chopped pecans
1/2 C. sugar
1/2 C. corn syrup
1 T. butter, melted
1/2 t. vanilla
1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Unroll dough and place in lightly greased 13 X 9 inch pan; press perforations to seal - press over bottom and 1/2 inch up sides to form a crust. Bake crust for 8 minutes. In a medium bowl, mix filling ingredients. Pour filling over partially baked crust. Bake about 20 minutes longer or until golden brown. Cool completely before cutting into bars.

Note: Pillsbury has lots of great recipes!! You can sign up to receive their recipes via e-mail at

Let me know if you try any of these recipes! I hope you enjoy them as much as we did today at Sprayberry!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Thankful Thursday - All Business

Today I am thankful for some awesome companies who
provide great service and products for my family!

 In no particular order 1) Publix - I shopped at Publix long before it came to my neighborhood because shopping there IS a pleasure! I appreciate Publix for it's awesome customer service- it's clean, the people are friendly, always helpful and I love their savings. I love their program to provide simple recipes for simple meals to promote fun in cooking and togetherness at home. I guess Publix just reminds me of growing up  - the small town grocery store and the family eating together at the dinner table every night! We didn't know how special that was back then! Oh, and the penny item on Wednesday makes shopping fun!

 2) Chick Fil A - our family never gets tired of Chick Fil A! Pleasant and fast service and always great food! I have to appreciate a business that still closes on Sunday! Maybe that's one reason they are so successful! On a recent visit to Chick Fil A in Auburn with my daughters, the cashier got someone to deliver our meal to the table! She frequently stopped by our table to see if we needed anything! Now this is a fast food restaurant! They recognized that juggling a wheelchair and a tray of food wasn't easy and just took care of it for us! I appreciate the heart of these employees and I believe it is the Chick Fil A Way! Oh, and I love their cow commercials!

3) Barnes and Noble is another great company we enjoy - whether shopping in the store or ordering on line, they have great customer service. If they don't have what you want, they can get it for you! When I recently went to purchase the next book in my Karen Kingsbury series, they just ordered for me, had it shipped to the store and I didn't have to pay shipping! A Barnes and Noble gift card makes the perfect gift for just about anyone! Oh, and you can get a great cup of coffee there, too!

4) Hobby Lobby - another business that is highly successful and still closes on Sunday! We have been without Hobby Lobby since the storm hit Tuscaloosa last April and are thankful to have it back open in Northport. They have everything we need for our creative spirit and we go there often! We visited the Hobby Lobby in Bowling Green, Kentucky, shortly after the storm in April. An employee there shared with us that they had pictures of the Tuscaloosa Hobby Lobby from the storm in their break room to remind them to pray for Tuscaloosa! Now, that's a great company! Oh, and their 50% off sales are the best!

5) Speaking of the storms, I am so thankful that we were spared of further damage this past week. The threat of severe weather around here has taken on a new meaning since last April. I am thankful for our leadership and everyone who is working so hard to rebuild homes, neighborhoods and businesses in the affected areas. This has been a daunting task but one that deserves careful consideration! We can't wait for Krispy Kreme to open!

Many of you may already do business with these companies - if you don't, you should! I don't think you'll find better customer service anywhere! Comment and share your own stories with these great companies!

Monday, March 5, 2012

What's for Supper?

Do you ever go the the grocery store and then get home and wonder what's for supper? Just thought I would share a simple menu with you that I find delicious and easy!

Pork Tenderloin - Macaroni & Cheese - Butterbeans - Crescent Rolls

Pork Tenderloin in the Crockpot

1 (2 lb.) pork tenderloin
1 envelope dry onion soup mix
1 3/4 C. water
3 T. minced garlic
3 T. soy sauce
Black pepper to taste

Place pork tenderloin in a slow cooker with the contents of the soup packet. Pour water and soy sauce over the top. Sprinkle garlic over the pork. Sprinkle with pepper, cover and cook on low for 4 hours. Serve with the liquid on the side..............Very tender and tasty!

Dodie's Macaroni and Cheese

1 16 oz. pkg. macaroni - cooked
2 - 2 1/2 C. milk
2 eggs beaten
1 stick butter
16 oz. cheddar cheese

Add butter to cooked macaroni. Beat eggs and add milk. Layer macaroni, cheese. Pour 1/2 milk mixture over macaroni and cheese. Repeat layers. Bake at 375 degrees for about 25 to 30 minutes or until lightly brown......Very creamy and yummy!

Dodie's legacy to me was the way that she cooked for her family! Just like my grandmother always did, she prepared a home cooked meal for her family every Sunday! For Dodie, that meant, 6 children and their spouses and 20 grandchildren!! And I don't cook Sunday lunch for my family of 4! I have a collection of Dodie's recipes that she shared in a class she led at Circlewood Baptist Church - focused on simple recipes to allow families to share meals together in today's busy world! I think of her every time I use one - her smile, her sweet spirit and most of all her love for her family. Whether you knew Dodie or not, there is alot we can learn from her. Read this tribute to this beautiful lady!

Oh, if you must know, the beans are "Green Giant" and the crescent rolls are "Pillsbury"!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Our Daily Bread

"Give us this day our daily bread"...........Matthew 6:11

There is just something comforting about the aroma of fresh baked bread. I love baking bread and I love sharing it with friends! One of my favorites is Banana Bread. That's probably because I always have bananas! Bananas are a regular on our Publix list but we hardly ever eat the whole bunch, which always leaves me with ripe bananas to use in Banana Bread. I have several recipes, but I'll share my favorite. I like this one because it doesn't have nuts - it has pineapple instead. It's not that I don't like nuts, it's that the pineapple seems to bring a very moist texture.

Because I always seems to have bananas on hand, I sometimes freeze a loaf or two to have on short notice. It freezes well! This recipes makes 2 loaves. When sharing with friends, I always try to create a pretty presentation. In the photo, there are 2 examples. One is tied with a coloful ribbon combined with coordinating tulle and has a "Thinking of You" message attached (made with our Cricut machine). The other is wrapped in a new kitchen towel, tied with a simple grosgrain ribbon. It has a coordinating gift tag that we also made with our Cricut. We love ribbon! We mostly get our ribbon at Hobby Lobby when it is 50% off! A great online source of ribbon is The Ribbon Retreat at

Pineapple Banana Bread

3 C. all purpose flour
2 C. sugar
1 t. salt
1 t. baking soda
1 t. ground cinnamon
3 eggs
1 1/4 C. vegetable oil
2 t. vanilla
1 (8 oz.) can crushed pineapple, drained
2 C. mashed ripe bananas

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and cinnamon. In another bowl, beat the eggs, oil and vanilla; add pineapple and bananas. Stir into the dry ingredients until moistened. Pour into two greased loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour or until it tests done. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.

Now, I'm about enjoy a slice of Pineapple Banana Bread with a cup of coffee! Hope you will, too!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Read Across our House

It's Read Across America Day 2012! Schools and libraries across the nation are honoring the birthday of Dr. Suess with reading celebrations! After getting out of school early for weather precautions, I thought I would just look around our house and see what we are reading!

Here are a few books I found............

This week, we've been reading about cats! It was Ginger's first major trip to the vet for boarding and for surgery. Ginger did great and we all learned alot in the process!

There are always musical books around our house - Annie's favorite!

A Billy Graham Devotional Book - an awesome gift! We had the opportunity to visit the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, N.C. last summer on our annual baseball trip. We received a personal tour from our friend and Director of The Billy Graham Library, Wayne Atcheson. Who knew that Billy Graham's vision to share the love of Jesus Christ throughout the world began on a dairy farm?
What an incredible experience for our family! I would recommend it for anyone! For more information, visit

I am reading, "Remember" by Karen Kingsbury, the second book of her Redemption Series. Karen is an inspiring author of Life Changing Christian Fiction. My Mother has read just about all of her books and I'm working on it! As soon as I finish one, I can't wait to start another! You just feel like you know the characters in her books! I printed the entire list of her books from the website and I highlight each book as I read it. My goal is to read them all! They also make great gifts! If you aren't familiar with her writing, check it out at

Note: We made the bookmarks in each of the books. The first one is made of grosgrain ribbon, folded and sewn together, an eyelet placed at the top and a coordinating ribbon looped through it. We had it monogrammed. The others are made from large paper clips with ribbons tied at the top. We found the very large clips(in the Karen Kingsbury book)  in multiple colors at Dollar General. The large black/white paper clips came from Office Depot. Great bookmarks!

Like Dr. Suess said, "the more you read, the more things you will know"!
Happy "Read Across America Day"!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Dear Wendell

Dear Wendell,

 On November 30, 1972, God delivered a very special baby boy to my Aunt Hazel and Uncle Clinton. I remember that day - I was 12 and I felt like I was getting a little brother! Terrance was already like a brother to me and then you entered our world! I remember you coming home from the hospital on Christmas Eve.  I remember the concerns your Mom had over you not meeting the typical developmental milestones. I remember going with your Mom to take you to therapy in Columbus. I remember, because of that experience, deciding that I wanted to be an occupational therapist for children with developmental problems (and I did!). I remember when you first started talking and called me "La La". I remember all those times you were at The Children's Hospital for surgeries. I remember those braces you used to wear. I remember going to visit you at the Vivian B. Adams school. I remember when I dressed you up as Mr. Rogers who was one of your favorites. I remember you always being the "like of the party" at family get togethers. I remember that you like Lucille Ball just like I do. I remember that you have always cheered for the Crimson Tide - I love that you dressed up as an Auburn fan for Halloween! I remember how you would sing your heart out when Granny played the piano. I remember our family trips to the beach. I always remember your love of God. I remember when you graduated from high school. I remember when you lost your Mom and some years later, your Dad, and how very strong you were. I remember when you moved to Arbor Springs and how happy you are there. I remember how very patient and kind you were as you dealt with the problems with your old chair which limited your independence and how you waited patiently for a new one. I also remember how very thankful you were for the many friends and family who afforded the new chair for you. I remember how you always like to tell a joke and laugh at other's jokes. I remember your sweet relationship with my Daddy. I remember how you love a good dessert! I remember our friend Nancy Killian telling me that she went to visit you to be a blessing but that after visiting you, she was the one who received the blessing. But I NEVER, EVER remember hearing you complain about your situation in life! If you ever had days that you wished to be more like everyone else, you surely didn't show it. The truth is that we need  to be more like you. You are a living example of Philippians 4: 11-12 which says "I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want." I remember you telling me just last week "I know there are others more underprivileged that me - here I am eating chocolate cake, going to church and playing bingo." Wow! Now that's contentment! I hope that you know what a blessing you are to others!

I Love You
"La La" (a.k.a. Carla)

Note: Wendell is my first cousin who has had cerebral palsy from birth. He is 39 years old and lives in a Health and Rehab facility in Opelika. He inspired my 20 year career in Occupational Therapy! He is the happiest person I know! You may not know him but you can still be inspired by his love of life, despite his circumstances. Allow these photos to paint the picture of his incredible love of life!

Always the like of the party! No one loves a family gathering more than Wendell!

This sweet smile has been with him throughout his life!

At a family Easter Egg Hunt with our cousin, Caryn!

 This precious little boy inspired my career!

So proud of this handsome young man when he graduated from high school!

Always cheering "Roll Tide Roll" - even in Auburn!

Love our visits!

Always a "ham", loves the camera! This is the new wheelchair that was provided to Wendell by friends and family! Purchasing a chair like this one is like purchasing a new car almost, but it didn't take long for the Clayton Methodist Church to raise the funds. Just another tribute to Wendell!