Thursday, February 28, 2013

Thankful Thursday - My Gift Rocks

When my precious daughter was a toddler, she would pick up rocks wherever we were and give them to me as a gift. It was a really big deal to her to find me the perfect rock - the shiniest, the biggest, the smallest, the prettiest. I would usually  say thanks and put them in my purse. One day I transferred them into a ziplock bag for lack of anything else to do with them. I just couldn't get rid of them. day, I was in Pier One and I saw this glass candle holder and it occured to me that it would be perfect for my gift rocks.
This past week, I saw this quote on Facebook and it reminded me of Elle's rocks and how thankful I am for each and every one because they were given to me in love.
Well, I had so many rocks, I had to find another container so I have two beautiful containers full of little reminders of the love of my sweet daughter. So blessed!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Choose Joy - A Comfort Shower

One of my most favorite blog posts that I ever read was one by Ashley at
 lil Blue Boo. In this post, she describes "A Day to Choose Joy" in which her friends and family gave her a "Comfort Shower" when she was going through cancer treatment.
It was a beautiful luncheon on a beautiful day with beautiful friends who shared encouragement, laughter, love, and JOY!

Each guest brought "comfort" gifts including pajamas, magazines, sharpies, scarves, comfy blankets and clothes, teas, oils, books, snacks, devotionals, journals, and a cooler full of  homemade frozen soups!
Ashley is a designer and DIYer who offers lots of great ideas on her blog. Check out her beautiful website - you may want to follow her!
"Choose Joy" guides her daily. After her father passed away, she found these words written at the top of a devotional page that belonged to him. That saying let her know that, no matter what, everything would be OK.
I think I was able to relate to her because of losing her father and the cancer journey. For me, Choosing Joy is the only choice! That certainly doesn't mean their aren't bad days, it's just that we choose to make the best of a given situation! Faith, Family and Friends make all the difference in the world!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Sweet Dreams - Sweet Ministry
I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety........ Psalms 4:8
You will find this verse at the heart of the Sweet Dreams Ministry of the First Baptist Church of Tuscaloosa. I was delighted to read an article in the April 2013 Missions Mosaic publication of the WMU about this sweet ministry.  It all began when Lisa Fitzgerald* made a cute pillow case for a young friend going through cancer treatment. Just ONE pillow case  - then just ONE pillowcase party and an ongoing ministry on it's way to making thousands of pillowcases - to provide comfort and support to so many children battling cancer working through children's hospitals in Birmingham, Memphis and Nashville.
Here is another sweet aspect of this story. The young girl who received the first pillow case seven years ago is now in remission (7 years later),  has a sewing machine of her own and is very active in this ministry.
The article concludes with a challenge to women's mission groups to bring "sweet dreams" to even more children.
"This is a demonstration of how God can take an idea of a kindness intended for one person and multiply it to touch thousands of other people."
Linda Humber - Director of FBC Ladies Ministry and Missions
For the full story, go to The Alabama Baptist
Who will take the challenge and provide more "sweet dreams" for children - through cutting, sewing, ironing, donating fabric and/or money?
*I've known Lisa since our single days at FBC way back when - what a way to use her talents to share the love of Christ!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Say It with a Cupcake!

One of my favorite cooking magazines is "Taste of Home" - never tried a recipe in this magazine that I didn't like. "Taste of Home" has lots a good, basic recipes like this one for Caramel Apple Cupcakes!
Caramel Apple Cupcakes
1 pkg. spice or carrot cake mix (regular size)
2 cups chopped, peeled tart apples
20 caramels
3 T. milk
1 cup finely chopped pecans
12 Popsicle sticks
Prepare cake batter according to package directions; fold in apples. Fill 12 greased or paper lined jumbo muffin cups 3/4 full. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until tooth inserted in center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.
In a saucepan, cook the caramels and milk over low heat until smooth. Spread over cupcakes. Sprinkle with pecans. Insert a Popsicle stick into the center of each cupcake.
For my muffins, I actually made 24 regular size muffins, using the carrot cake mix. I used Granny Smith apples. To accommodate the extra muffins, I doubled the caramels and milk so that I would have enough to spread over each muffin.
I used muffins cups and I always spray the muffins cups lightly to prevent the liner from sticking to the cupcake. Here is one option to find cute cup cake liners Cup Cakes Swirl
Next, the packaging! Using cellophane, I wrapped each one like a caramel apple, tied with a ribbon and a "thank you" tag made on Print Artist - just a small token to say "thank you" to some ladies who went above and beyond the call of duty!
These cupcakes would be perfect for a bake sale - delicious and pretty - will have to remember this!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Verses for Encouragement

When I was going through my treatment for multiple myeloma, my sweet friend, Jenny Benefield, gave me a box with these hand written Bible verses in it to provide encouragement to me during a difficult time. I still keep this box of verses on my nightstand so that I can refer to them in other times of need. This morning, as my Adult Bible Study (Sunday School) Class went over our prayer list, I thought about how many needs are around us all the time - illness, injury, loss, and more - so many people hurting, and I was reminded of how Jenny's thoughtfulness uplifted me. They were simply handwritten on pieces of card stock and meant more to me than she will ever know. Thought I would share them with you - you or someone you know may need to hear these words.......
He tends his flock like a shepherd; he gathers the lambs in his arms...Isaiah 40:11
Love does not fail...1 Corinthians 13:8
The peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus...Phillipians 4:7
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me...Phillipians 4:13
Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength, they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint...Isaiah 40:31
He will cover you with his feathers and under his wings you will find refuge...Psalms 91:4
God is our refuge and strength, a timely help in trouble...Psalms 46:1
The Lord is my shepherd....Psalms 23:1
Come to me all who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest...Matthew 11:28
The God of Jacob is our fortress...Psalms 46:7&11
Thanks, Jenny, for your encouragement. May I always be an encourager to others as you were to me!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

What's for Breakfast? A Breakfast Pizza

Who doesn't love pizza? Have you ever tried the breakfast version? Actually, there are many varieties of breakfast pizza out there but here's just one version....
Breakfast Pizza
1 refrigerated pizza crust
8 eggs, slightly beaten
Chopped green peppers
Small jar sliced mushrooms
1 pkg. chopped ham
8 oz. shredded cheese (or more!)
Press crust into pan. Spread chopped ham, mushrooms and cheese over the crust. Pour eggs over the top. Season with salt and pepper.
Bake according to direction on pizza crust package - until crust is brown and pizza is "set" in the center.  Serve with fruit and you have a great breakfast! 

For those who don't like peppers and mushrooms, I left them off of one side. You can really make this pizza any way you want  - substitute sausage or bacon instead of ham. It would also be good with onions and/or red pepper added. The good thing about it is that you can have these ingredients "on hand" and make whenever! A great late Saturday morning breakfast or a quick and easy breakfast before work or school - enjoy!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Baseball, Hot Dogs and Apple Pie

Well, college baseball season is underway with MLB soon to follow! Yea! We love baseball at our house. Just finished listening to my team win their 5th game of the season - Roll Tide!            
 What goes with baseball better than hot dogs and apple pie? Here's a "double play" for you!
Have you ever had marinated hot dogs? Great twist on a regular hot dog!
Marinated Grilled Hot Dogs
1/2 cup Heinz ketchup
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1splash Worcestershire sauce
1 dozen hot dogs
Whisk together the ketchup, soy sauce, vinegar, oil, and Worcestershire sauce.
Make 4-5 angled cuts down each hot dog with a sharp knife, being careful not to cut all the way through the hotdog. Completely coat the hot dogs in the ketchup marinade. Cover and refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight.

Grill outside or inside! I used my George Foreman grill.  Serve with condiments of your choice!
Sour Cream Apple Pie
2 C. all purpose flour
5 T. sugar
3/4 t. salt
3/4 t. cinnamon
6 T. sweet butter, chilled
6 T. shortening, chilled
4-6 T. apple juice, chilled
Sift flour, sugar, salt and cinnamon. Cut in butter and shortening until mixture is crumbly. Moisten with just enough juice to form the dough into a ball. Wrap and refrigerate for a couple of hours. Cut off 1/3 dough and return to refrigerator. Roll out remaining dough on floured waxed paper into circle. Line a 9 inch pie pan with the dough circle. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
5-7 Granny Smith apples
2/3 C. sour cream
1/3 C. sugar
1 egg
1/4 t. salt
1 t. vanilla
3 T. flour
Peel, core and thinly slice apples. Whisk together sour cream, sugar, egg, salt, vanilla and flour. Pour mixture over apples and coat completely. Put apple mixture into pan, spreading evenly.
3 T. brown sugar
3 T. sugar
1 t. cinnamon
 1 C. chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
Mix all ingredients and sprinkle over filling.
Roll out remaining dough to form 10 inch circle. Cut into strips and arrange in lattice fashion over apples. Bake 55-65 minutes. If crust browns too quickly, cover loosely with foil.
I have made this recipe for many years and it is definitely a home run, maybe even a grand slam! It is my all time favorite apple pie. I think it's the apple juice and cinnamon in the crust that makes it special. For most pies requiring a crust, I use the Pillsbury or Publix brand refrigerated crust, but, with this recipe, you have to make the crust from scratch because of what the juice and cinnamon add to the flavor of the pie. Warm right out of the oven - you can't beat it!
Do you know the origin of the 7th Inning Stretch?
There are a few stories out there about the origin, but one popular story for the origin of the 7th Inning stretch is that President William Howard Taft at a Washington Senators game in 1910 was sore from prolonged sitting and stood up to stretch. Upon seeing the chief executive stand, the rest of the spectators in attendance felt obligated to join the president in his gestures...........This is the story Barry told me while we were enjoying our marinated hot dogs, listening to baseball and, of course, our apple pie. I had never even thought of how the "stretch" began.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Thankful Thursday - Something to Think About

"I Am Thankful" was originally printed in Family Circle Magazine in November 1999. I just ran across it at
It is certainly something to think about!
Stephanie is "full of great ideas" for sharing inexpensive and simple home decor and craft ideas. Check them out at the link above!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A Very Special Art Show

Painted with fingerprints of one of Sprayberry's Multiple Needs Classes
There's a very special art show is town! Sprayberry Education Center will host it's 9th Annual Art Show and Silent Auction on Thursday, February 21, 2013, at the Northport Civic Center from 6:00 - 7:30 P.M.
Enlightened Art by Gifted Students
in the Tuscaloosa County School System
Extraordinary Art by Students
 in the Multiple Needs and Autism Classes
Little Hands Art by Sprayberry Preschoolers
Sprayberry Staff Art
Community(Youth and Adult) Art by Friends of Sprayberry
Little Hands

Multiple Needs

Multiple Needs


The Sprayberry Art Show was initiated 9 years ago as a way for ALL students to offer creative expression while raising funds for the PTO. ALL artwork is available for purchase through silent auction with bids starting at only $15. Admission is FREE and delicious food is provided, catered by Robertson's BBQ. If you are in the Tuscaloosa/Northport area, come join us for an evening that is sure to be a treat for everyone. There is sure to be a treasured piece of art for everyone made by some very special students, staff or friends.

This year's art show is dedicated in loving memory of Madison Nichole Ryland, a Sprayberry student who passed away in January.
Madison's parents are Jessica Wilson (Chris) and John Ryland (Terri). Madison's Mom is a former Sprayberry PTO President and was very instrumental in the establishing the Sprayberry Art Show!
We love you, Madison!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Spice of Life

Finished off a jar of "Emeril's Italian Essence" from Chef Emeril Lagasse, last night when making spaghetti with meatballs. It was "store bought" but I remembered that I once made a recipe of Emeril's Original Essence so I found the recipe on Food Network's website, made it and I'm passing along the recipe. 
Emeril's Essence
 2 1/2 T. paprika
2 T. salt
2 T. garlic powder
1 T. black pepper
1 T. onion powder
1 T. cayenne pepper
1 T. dried oregano
1 T. dried thyme
Combine ingredients thoroughly and store in airtight container. It is a "perfect blend of herbs and spices to compliment fish or fowl, meat or pasta."
 For lots of recipes using the essence, go to Emeril's Cooking
Spice it up!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Celebrate - The Magazine!

Need some party inspiration? Here's a great source! Just picked up the Winter edition today, and, just like all the rest, it is jam packed with the greatest ideas - game night, supper club, Sweet 16 party, baby shower, just to name a few! 

Celebrate, the magazine by Phyllis Hoffman. is a beautiful magazine that showcases life's important events. The magazine offers inspiration for baby showers, holidays, weddings, anniversaries and many other special occasions!

Every issue if filled with creative ideas, recipes, menus, tips, invitations and so much more! The pictures are beautiful and there's very little advertising!

                    For more information, visit the website: Celebrate!

You can subscribe to the magazine and/or their newsletter, get a digital version or follow on Pinterest! Many opportunities to be inspired by the great work of Phyllis Hoffman! Enjoy!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Sunshine in a Box

The Tip Junkie shared this fabulous idea and I have taken it and made my own variation to the "homemade box of sunshine" to brighten someones day. I found this bright yellow plastic box at Target and filled with someone brightly colored items that are sure to bring a smile to someones face!

This "Box of Sunshine" includes:
Box of Kleenex
Bath and Body Lemon Citrus Hand Soap
Pack of Yellow Beverage Napkins
Bag of Lifesavers
Pack of Peanut M & M's
Can of Pringles
Bag of Brach's Lemon Drops
Box of Ice Cubes Gum
Pad of Lemon Shaped Notepaper

Do you know someone who needs something to brighten their day because of illness, loss or some other dark moment! Here's the deal! If you will go to "'Tis A Blessing to Be" Facebook Page and send a message with the name of the person you would like to bless with this "Box of Sunshine" I will put each name in a drawing and randomly select a recipient for this box. If the name you submit is chosen, I will notify you and, based on your preference, I will send or deliver the box to you or your friend!
Deadline: Sunday, February 24 at 5:00 P.M.
Let's brighten someones day!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Brunch for a Bunch

"Brunch for a Bunch" of girls gathering to package toiletry bags to send to girls in Honduras for our church's mission trip in the summer.

Chocolate Chip Muffins
Blueberry Bread
Sausage Roll Breakfast Casserole
World's Best Cheese Grits
Mini Sausage Quiches
California Egg Bake
Chocolate Chip Muffins
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup sugar
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2/3 cup milk
1 1/2 t. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners or spray pan with non stick cooking spray. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugars, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together melted butter, eggs, milk and vanilla, mixing until combined. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the liquid ingredients into the well. Stir until ingredients are just combined - do not over mix. Fold in the chocolate chips. Evenly divide the batter into the prepared muffin pan. Bake for 17-20 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean. Serve warm or room temperature.
A delicious recipe from My Baking Addiction
Blueberry Bread
3 C. all purpose flour
1 C. sugar
1 T. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. baking soda
1 egg, beaten
1 2/3 C. milk
1/4 C. vegetable oil
1 t. vanilla
 1 t. lemon flavoring
1 1/2 C. fresh blueberries
1/2 C. chopped pecans
Prepare loaf pan(s) with cooking spray - one large or 2 small pans. Mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda.  In separate bowl, combine egg, vegetable oil, and vanilla - add to dry ingredients. Stir just until batter is moistened. Fold in lemon flavoring, blueberries and pecans. Spoon into loaf pan(s). Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. After about 10 minutes, remove from pan and cool on wire rack.
World's Best Cheese Grits Casserole
1 quart milk
1/2 C. butter
1 C. quick grits
1 C. Gruyere cheese
1 C. grated Parmesan
1/2 t. salt
Grease casserole. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Boil milk and butter. Add grits, stir until mixture just begins to thicken. Add salt. Remove, from heat and stir in Gruyere. Beat with electric mixer for 5 minutes. Pour into casserole dish. Top with Parmesan cheese. Bake 30 minutes.
I love this recipe - it was shared with me by my friend, Barbara, many years ago!!
Mini Sausage Quiches
1 package sausage sprinkles
2. T. minced onion
1 pkg. refrigerated crescent rolls
4 eggs, lightly beaten
2 C. (8 oz.) shredded Swiss cheese
1 C.(8 oz.) small curd cottage cheese
On a lightly floured surface, unroll crescent dough into on long rectangle; seal seams and perforations. Cut into 48 pieces. Press onto the bottom and sides of greased miniature muffin cups. Fill each with 2 t. sausage. Sprinkle with minced onion. Combine the eggs and cheese. Spoon 2 T. over sausage mixture. Sprinkle with paprika. Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes before removing from pans. Serve warm.

Sausage Roll Breakfast Casserole
1 pan Sister Schubert's sausage rolls, thawed
8 large eggs
 1 t. dry mustard
2 t. salt
1 t. black pepper
2 t. Worcestershire sauce
4 C. half and half
1 t. hot pepper sauce
2 C. sharp grated cheddar cheese
2 t. butter
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 X 13 baking dish with cooking spray. Remove rolls from pan and slice each roll into thirds, cutting across sausage. Whisk eggs until light and frothy. Add mustard, salt, Worcestershire sauce, hot pepper sauce and half and half, whisking until ingredients are well combined. Place sliced rolls into prepared dish. Sprinkle with grated cheese and pour egg mixture over cheese. Dot surface with butter, then cover tightly and chill for a few hours or overnight. Bake until center is set, approximately 55-60 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
From Sister Schubert's "Cast Your Bread Upon the Waters" Cookbook
California Egg Bake
10 eggs
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pound Monterrey Jack or mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/2 cup melted butter, cooled
1 can (4-7 oz.) diced green chilies
1 pint cottage cheese
Beat eggs until light. Add other ingredients. Stir until blended. Pour into 9" x 13" pan (coated, with cooking spray). Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes. Cut in squares.
This recipe was made by my friend, Lori! Loved it - very light and tasty with the chilies. Will definitely be making this in the future!
The mission of the brunch, which included girls/ladies from both Elle's Sunday School Class and mine, was to assemble toiletry items (lotion, shampoo, conditioner, hand sanitizer, toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, etc.) for girls in Honduras. Those who have been on the mission trip before shared with us that these "frilly" bags will be given to young girls who visit the medical clinic while they are caring for their medical needs.

Through their experience, we were able to see how something so small can make a positive impact in the life of these girls.
Great food, great friends and great life lessons!
"And he said unto them, go you into all the world and preach the gospel to everyone" Mark 16:15

Friday, February 15, 2013

What's for Supper? A One Dish Wonder

One of my "Go-To" recipes is this Chicken-Green Beans-Potato Dish! It's a favorite of my family and you just can't beat that! So simple!
In a 13 X 9 baking dish, place
1 pkg. (3-4 breasts) chicken (middle)
On one side, add 2 cans green beans (drained)
On the other side, add new potatoes cut into small chunks
Generously sprinkle Italian seasoning over the entire dish
Pour one stick melted butter over the entire dish
Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

Cornbread Loaf
For the recipe, go to Closet Cooking
Although I love jalapenos, not everybody does so I left out the jalapenos this time. In my oven, it cooked in about 30 minutes. I made it before the chicken dish and kept it warm while the chicken dish baked.

For the sweet tooth - peanut butter cookies with white chocolate chips topped with Dove heart milk chocolates!

I love making this meal anytime and my family thought it was special enough for a Valentine's dinner - served by request! I just love that something so easy could be so good!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Thankful Thursday - Happy Hearts Day!

Designed by Katie - See below!

Today, I am thankful for my "hearts" and the loves of my life - Barry, Elle and Annie - the people in my life who make every day special!
My two favorite passages from the Bible on LOVE:
"For God so LOVED the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life"
John 3:16
 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part,  but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.  When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.  For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.........1 Corinthians 13

Let me tell you about my "happy hearts" in the picture! Those beautiful hand cut designs were created by my dear friend, Katie, when she was about 4 years old! I always treasured these sweet Valentine's that Katie made especially for me and eventually had them framed. Every year, when I get them out I smile remembering this sweet heart who gave them to me!

Fast forward to 2013 and Katie is winning awards for her graphic designs! Should have known! I am honored to own some of her early designs!
So proud of my sweet friend and fellow redhead! Way to go, Katie!