Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Four Food Groups of Southern Cooking- Thanksgiving Style

Sugar, Grease, Salt and Alcohol...

There they are in all of their glory. And in this very special episode of Facts of Cooking Life, there will be Thanksgiving. That's right, there will be grease (fatback, lard and bacon grease- oh my), sugar, salt and alcohol in all of its Thanksgivingy glory.

Hubby and I eat an early lunch with my family, head home and prepare/have Thanksgiving dinner with his family. I am amazed every Thanksgiving at the amount of food I have on my dining room table for only six people. Turkey, yeast rolls, company rice (my Mother-In-Law's recipe that she is yet to share), sweet potato casserole, green beans with county ham, collards, butter beans, dressing, bread pudding, a cobbler of some sort and pecan pie. I am trying to figure out exactly who it is I think I am feeding.

It may be more akin to getting to play with make-up when you are little girl. You do not get to do it often so Sugar, pile it on until the lipstick tube is empty, rouge is in perfect pink dots and your powder blue eye shadow is glistening for all to see! Or in this case all the sugar, flour,bacon and country ham in a tri-county area is sitting on my counter top waiting for a little Thanksgiving love.

Now I do not do it all by myself. Memaw, my mother-in-law, brings the company rice and the sweet potato casserole. My brother-in-law brings the bread pudding. The rest is all me, baby. I love, LOVE,  L-O-V-E to cook. Cooking for Thanksgiving and Christmas is like opening gifts from Santa on Christmas morning. However, I know that I cannot do it all in one day so some of my dishes I cook as freeze.

This weekend, I made my collards and froze them so all that will need to be done is thaw and reheat. Collards are perfect for freezing because they taste better after a little time in the freezer.

I have two recipes for my collards. One that incorporates almost all of the Four Southern Food Groups with lots piggy. There is also a lighter version that I promise is almost as good. Hey, I said almost.

I am a huge fan of the crock-pot for a recipe like this. Throw them in and walk away.

The yummy goodness that is collards my Grandma's way-

4 lbs of collards
1 1/2 lbs of ham hocks or neck bones
1 quarts of water (brought to a simmer)
1 small onion
1/2 tsp of crushed red pepper flakes or a few dashes of hot sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
A pinch of sugar

Clean your collards! If you are buying them from a Farmers' Market, they will need to be cleaned. If you are buying in the bag from a big box story or grocery store them will need to be rinsed.

I find the best way to clean them is fill your sink up with cool water and in small batches put the collards into the water and swish them. (Swish is a very technical culinary term.) We are not done. Fill the sink with water and white vinegar, I would add a cup, and put the collards back in and let them soak for 5-10 minutes. Little creatures do not particularly care for the vinegar and that will help you find any that the swishing missed. Again swish, think the agitator in your washing machine for about 30 seconds. Drain and rinse 2-3 more times. You should be all set. If you are using the store bought bagged collards that say pre-cleaned, give them a good rinse under running water and drain.

1. Chop your onion and put in your crock pot. If you are not using your crock pot (cp), put them in a stock pot on low. You really do not need to add oil or grease because we are not browning the onions. But you are more than welcome to add a little bacon grease it you like. Fat is flavor.

2. Chop your collards to the size you like.

One of my grandmother's left hers in pieces and my other grandmother chopped hers, think the consistency of creamed spinach. They are both delicious it is just a matter of preference. I leave mine in pieces since not everyone like the "smushed" texture of chopped. Smushed another technical culinary term.

3. Place the collards in your cp or your pan. Pour the water over the collards. If you are using your cp, you may need to this in batches pouring some of the water over the collards. This will wilt them some so that you can put more in the cp. If you are using the pan, it is not as important because the collards will start to wilt a little in the heat of the pan.

This will look like a ton of collards but they will cook down. This recipe actually serves 6. It will look like 26 when prepping them.

4. Add the the remaining ingredients.

5. For cp users- set it on low for 6-7 hours or high for 4-5. Stove top cookers- bring your collards up to a gentle boil. As soon as they come to a boil, reduce heat to med-low and simmer 1 1/2-2 hours. I find that if I just my cast iron dutch oven, I have to turn them almost to low due to the pot likker evaporating. Check on them occasionally and if the water is getting low just add a little more.

I know, I hear you. This tale a long time. That is why I did them this weekend. I prepped them first thing and went about cleaning. By the time, the house was clean and errands run they were ready to be put in containers to cool. Once cool put in the freezer.

Now the Almost As Good as Piggy Infused Collards
(Remember- I said ALMOST.)

4 lbs of collards
3 cups of *chicken stock and 1 c of beer (nothing fancy or limey or frou-frouy) (brought to a simmer)
1 small onion
1/2 tsp of crushed red pepper flakes or a few dashes of hot sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
A pinch of sugar

*veggie stock may be substituted if you want to keep them meat free

Clean your collards! Refer to the method above.

1. Chop your onion and put in your crock pot. If you are not using your crock pot (cp), put them in a stock pot on low. You really do not need to add oil or grease because we are not browning the onions. But you are more than welcome to add a little olive oil it you like.

2. Chop your collards to the size you like.

3. Place the collards in your cp or your pan. Pour the stock and beer mixture over the collards. If you are using your cp, you may need to this in batches, pouring some of the liquid over the collards. This will wilt them some so that you can put more in the cp. If you are using the pan, it is not as important because the collards will start to wilt a little in the heat of the pan.

This will look like a ton of collards but they will cook down. This recipe actually serves 6. It will look like 26 when prepping them.

4. Add the the remaining ingredients.

5. For cp users- set it on low for 6-7 hours or high for 4-5. Stove top cookers- bring your collards up to a gentle boil. As soon as they come to a boil, reduce heat to med-low and simmer 1 1/2-2 hours. I find that if I just my cast iron dutch oven, I have to turn them almost to low due to the pot likker evaporating. Check on them occasionally and if the liquid is getting low just add a little more chicken stock or water.

Beer in collards? What in the world? That is crazy. While I am a big proponent of the 4 Southern Food Groups, this is not adding alcohol for the sake of alcohol. It actually gives a a great flavor and helps with the bitterness that greens have. You can also use beer in the first recipe as well as chicken stock if you want even more flavor.

Thaw in the refrigerator and heat and serve on Thanksgiving day. You can freeze them in containers or in zip-top bags. Drop the bags in a large pot of simmering water and you do not even have to thaw. Simmer until heated through and put in serving dish.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


I love words. The weirder the better, like bumfuzzle/bumfuzzled. It means to confuse, perplex, fluster. It is such a great word because it accurately describes how I feel right now.

I am so blessed to have a Mama that taught me very valuable lessons early on in life. You have naturally curly hair, brushing will hurt. You will always immediately sneeze after applying mascara. I may not see what you are doing but Jesus can. (Ponder that one for a minute- puts the kabosh on a lot of fun things that might get you in trouble.) There will always be someone smarter than you, more talented than you and prettier than you, that is life. It can be unfair but do your best and you will be successful. Now those were not her exact words but that is what I learned from the things she said. And it was the absolute best thing she ever could have taught me. Well that and the teeny tiny little thing called respect. I do believe there was many a b-u-t-t whooping (putting it politely) when I was disrespectful. Now my mama was the queen of wait until your Deddy gets home. She did not like to spank us one bit but you start sassing or being disrespectful and she would go from loving mother by day to choose your means of butt whooping this is going to hurt me more that it will hurt you by night. (Ummm- not so much but I am still scared of her so I will zip it.) And Lord help you (no really, Lord save your scrawny behind) if you had been disrespectful to one of my grandmothers. She would not only get you but then tell Deddy. Do you see the recurring theme here? Disrespect was not allowed in the Turner household. No way Jose. It was not allowed with our family, other adults, our friends or each other.

So that leads to my bumfuzzlement. (That may or may not be a Jodyism but I will look it up later. If it is not a "real" word, it should be!) Didn't the majority of us learn this valuable lesson? If we did, have we forgotten it? I am crushed by the things friends have said to friends; family to family; Christians to Christians during this political season. It breaks my heart. AND that is hard to do, I am Southern. My heart has been blessed at least 784,642 times in my years on this Earth.

I was taught we can agree to disagree but we can never be disrespectful to one another. In preparing for this blog, I looked up the meaning of the words disagree and disrespect. Merriam Webster says:

Disagree- to fail to agree; to differ in opinion

synonyms- differ, dissent, nonconcur, to take issue
antonyms- agree, consent, concur

Disrespect- to have disrespect for to show or express contempt.

Contempt- the act of despising

The synonyms for despise are abhor, abominate, hate. The antonym- LOVE.

No wonder Mama was so tough on us about being disrespectful. Disagree does not carry the negative weight of Disrespect. We can agree to disagree. I can disagree with what you say, offer you a cup of coffee and some cobbler. Disrespect me and well, no cobbler for you.

As we go into Election Day tomorrow remember this- It is okay to disagree. It is what makes this Nation GREAT. We have the right to disagree with one another. We do not all have to be the same. Think of how stinking boring that would be. But we do have to be respectful, especially if we are Christians.

Romans 13:8-10 says it best....

Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,”[a] “You shall not covet,”[b] and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”[c] 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

Regardless of what happens today, if your guy wins or loses, remember to respect the ones you love. They are special enough for God to put them in your life and carve in stone to love them as you love yourself.

And also remember, that if your guy wins are loses, PRAY. Pray for our President, our Government, our Country. Pray for each other. I know there is enough going on in my life that if someone wants to randomly or not so randomly pray that I have God's strength and wisdom working in me, I will gladly accept it because I need it. Like someone dying of thirst, I need it.

Love and Respect to everyone! And THANK YOU to any and everyone who has served or is serving in the military and protected my right to stand in line and cast my ballot this morning. It was an honor to do so and I am grateful.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Fried Baloney Sandwiches

I love my job! No really, I do. I am truly blessed to have a wonderful job. It can sometimes, however, get in the way of my fun and my blogging... But that is what those pesky day jobs sometimes do. I apologize for the lapse.

Yesterday was Father's Day, number 2 without Deddy and number 1 without Grandeddy. Mama and Sissy were out of town, so I was intent upon pretending it was any regular Sunday. My wonderful hubby took my dear father-in-law out to breakfast early while I was at church and scheduled a Sunday afternoon of sitting on the front porch reading. It was the perfect plan to live in denial. But don't you love when God butts in and throws a monkey wrench in your plan, in a inconspicuous way.Yesterday went exactly as planned; church, lunch, reading, and napping on the front porch. However, I did not get to pretend that it was not Father's Day and I did not get to not think about my two missing fellas.

And what started an avalanche of memories? Why food, of course. Good to you but bad for you food. Fried Baloney Sandwiches and Banana Sandwiches. I do realize that for most people, baloney is mis-spelled, with the proper spelling being bologna. Where I am from, you would be more likely to see it spelled baloney on someone's grocery list and that's not because we don't know how to spell it, we just like it that way.

Sitting with some of the best musicians (EVER!) at church yesterday, the conversation centered around their children. One person mentioned he hoped his children had planned a day canoeing because nothing would be better than that as a Father's Day gift. Many of us spend our lives feeling as if we need bigger and better to be successful. We work hard to have a nice house, nice cars to meet the definition of what others tell us is success. But when it all boils down, it is the simple things that stick with us; canoeing, fishing, singing in the backyard to the radio as loud as we can get it. Deddy worked two jobs when I was growing up so that he and Mama could give us a nice home, food on the table and clothes on our back. We were not wealthy and there were times we were broke. I never knew it and it certainly isn't what I think of now.

Now, I have one of those brains that one thought can cause a tornado of thoughts to spin around in my head as you can tell from the paragraph above. All of that came from one simple comment from a friend at church about a Father's Day gift. I still had my mind made up that it was NOT going to be a sad day of me thinking about what I was missing because I was not going to think about it at all. Then it happened, my day went exactly as I had planned. Indeed, I was so smart, my to do list yesterday was perfect for avoiding all of the crappy stuff that sneaks up on you in quiet moments when you have lost a part of your world. I have learned as a Christian, God is a part of your life even when your to do list has conveniently left his plan off. He understands that I am still sad, angry and devastated that my Dad is gone. He understands that I have a hole in my heart the size of Texas and nothing seems to diminish it. I think that may be why He gave me a Father's Day gift.

It started by reading a book that is in the Southern chick-lit genre. I wanted something fun to read that I could finish in one afternoon. I settled down and it was a cute book for an afternoon of front porch reading. And there is was- a fried baloney sandwich, spelled the "proper" way. It was a special treat for the character in the book. I thought of how long it had been since I had had a fried baloney sandwich and there is was- when I still lived at home and it made me think of Deddy. No ma'am, we are not doing this today. Keep reading, forget about the stupid fried baloney sandwich and your spaghetti sauce that Deddy loved even with the mushrooms you chopped small thinking he would not know they were in there. Ugh and the potted meat he would put mustard in and eat out of the can with Saltines. How can anyone eat that stuff? And lets not talk about Vienna Sausages. What in the heck is in it anyway? Oh yeah- "Josephine, it is the rooter to the tooter and it is perfect fishing food. Quick, easy and good!" Fishing on the Tar River, I got to drive the boat and never once had to bait my on hook. It was peaceful and he let us swim in the river even if we didn't wear our bathing suits. We could drive the boat fast enough to dry off before it was time to go home. Sunburned and full of Munchos and Jungle Juice. Deddy picking the corn in my garden because there were spiders in the stalks. Conveniently forgetting to tell me there would be an iced pig in the bathtub on the Sundays we had pig pickins so I would throw back the shower curtain and Wilbur would cause me to jump 5' in the air. (Where else you gonna store your 80 lbs pig?) Pig pickins and the beer to pig/beer to Deddy ratio. Grandeddy and Deddy cooking the pigs/grilling out. Grilling out at White Lake. Grandeddy taking of his shirt and his tanned truck driver arms such a contrast from his white torso, he looked like he still had on a t-shirt. Grandeddy chucking my life-size doll because she was a little too life like and he thought there was a dead body in his storage freezer. (Grandma could not even save her from the trash pile at that point.) Trips to Myrtle Beach when grandeddy had a Teamsters meeting there.  Summer afternoons when Grandma and I always had to be back home in time to make lunch for Grandeddy, a banana sandwich on whole wheat. I closed my eyes smiling thinking of all those great memories and I fell asleep, in my chair on my front porch. A relaxing, warm from the sun nap that was nourishing. I think I was even smiling, OK, so it may have been my mouth was gaping open but I am going with smiling. When I woke up, I was in a better mood and happy. Not once did I remember cancer or COPD. Not once did I see either of them sick. They were smiling well not so much when the doll scared Grandeddy half-to-death but these were good memories. Simple times that were wonderful. If you have an opportunity, make time for these moments, savor them. Swing at the park, go fishing, dance with abandon with a little one, act goofy and sing at the top of your lungs, out-of tune with someone you love. There will come a time when they are the gifts that gets you through the day and reassures you that you will be OK again.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

That's what you think...

I am someone who weighs the pros and cons, plans, has a back-up plan through the letter z and tries to remain calm through crazy situations. I have not always been this way but one day I realized that the drama in my life was self-imposed thanks to having a "great idea" and jumping in head first without the first swimming lesson. God has had to fish me out of some pretty interesting situations. Thankfully no one was hurt and they are all pretty funny 10 to 12 years after the fact. I wish I could say I had the "planning and organizing" epiphany on my own but I owe it all to my dear husband. You can only be married to the most organized/adorable/fiscally responsible/handsome/drama less/cute man in the world for so long before he either divorces you or rubs off on you. (Sidebar in case dear hubby reads this. He is a rather imposing character with his 6'3", goateed and adorably cute bald headed self. I may get into a little trouble calling him cute and adorable but I cannot help myself.) Thankfully he rubbed off on me. Now, I list, plan and execute. And when that does not work, the Marines say it best... Improvise, Adapt and Overcome. In my job, it is how you are successful because there are times things simply are out of your control.

This mentality has kept my insanity intact through some of the most difficult moments of my life; my job, my mom and dad's cancer battle, losing my dad, losing my grandfather, my father-in-law's Alzheimer's. I am grateful to God for my husband. God gave me someone who brought out these much needed qualities in time for all of the above to happen within the last 5 years. The comfort of my lists and plans and back-up plans have helped me. So you can imagine that I approached OP31 with the mentality. List-Plan-Attack. So let me tell you how this is working for me...

I prayed, God answered. Yay
God planted a seed. I listened. Double Yay
I brought my own shall we say fertilizer to the project. I am going to help the modern woman in her plight to do it all and be a good Christian in the process. F-E-R-T-I-L-I-Z-E-R!!!! Shoot, half the time I have to play 6-day catch up on my devotional and I am going to help someone with their plight. Yeah, right.
I quickly got an "Ease up there Love Chops, the lesson in this is for you and your plight" from God. Uh wha?

You mean I am not going to publish some cute and funny blog for others, post some great pictures and show my hubby I can do it all as a Proverbs 31 W-O-M-A-N? That is not what I signed up for, Lord. That thunder you just heard was God laughing his behind off at me. He had/has a thing or two to teach me and he is kindly doing it through humor.

By now my "plan" was to have my kitchen completed. Not so much God's. I listed, planned, bought and calendared. The new floor is in and I have the cabinets/pantry organized like Martha herself came and did them. I cleaned, sanded and primed the cabinets before I painted them. I should have new pictures up for everyone to see all of the hard work I put into the new Proverbs 31 kitchen. But I don't. Probably because I just said I 9000 times in the course of the 3 sentences. So I reckon God decided to see how I would bend if he threw a wrench in MY plans. Here is how it went down...

Below is my actual list:

Friday- vacation day, paint
_____ Clean (Wainscoting, window seals, trim)
_____ Sand (Wainscoting, window seals, trim)
_____ Tape Off Room
_____ Prime
_____ Paint

Saturday- FLOOR DAY ((Woo Hoo)
______ Move Furniture
______ Clean behind appliance in the kitchen
______ Floor/Carpet Installed
______ Touch up paint
______ Remove Tape

______ Channel Martha Stewart
______ Be OCD Martha Stewart
______ Throw crap away
______ Throw more crap away
______ Organize

Does anyone see anything on this list that says- repaint the kitchen because the paint did not adhere? I didn't think so but that is exactly what is happening. I have to repaint because oh I don't know I just do.

So cut to last Friday- Vacation day part 2. I was going to stay home and repaint. I now had an even better plan on how to fix the paint crisis so it did not peel again. List, check. Plan, check. Brad taking Friday off since it is going to be nice outside, che- no wait that was not on my list. I have things on my list that is not one of the things on my list! But it is May in North Carolina and it is only supposed to be 73 degrees. Last year it was 92! But I planned to paint, I need to post pictures for my blog. I need... I want... I planned... Indeed, that is God's laughter you heard, again. I think may have even patted me on the head, not sure, but I think so.

We woke up early, drank coffee and planned our attack. It was a simple plan because that bed needed help.

Friday- vacation day, yard
_____ Home Depot, mulch
_____ Weed
_____ Lay newspaper
_____ Mulch the front bed

We headed to Home Depot for 10 bags of mulch. Angus (our 1970 Ford truck) is currently out of commission so we had to use our car which only allows 10 bags at a time. JP, in the garden Center, now recognizes us by site. Three trips and 35 bags later it was 1:00 p.m. and we were pooped. But there was so much more that needed to be done. We have never been yard people so three summers in our house, the yard was looking a little peaked. It was a beautiful day so we pushed through and worked a few more hours.

One of the verses in Proverbs 31, verse 23 Her husband is well known at the city gates, where he sits with the other civic leaders, is the one that had me stumped. I have interpreted this as a man who is leading by example. Doing what is right because it is right and others see this in him. Hubby does this things but he does them quietly, never drawing attention to himself or what he is doing. There are times he does or says something so kind and thoughtful, that it catches my breath and makes me realize I have a long way to go. And he would be quick to tell you so does he. Wisdom- check. I do not want people to think we are perfect and we have a perfect marriage. Well- we do have a perfect marriage, for us. I am secure enough to be me, flaws and all, in front of my husband. I can show my vulnerable, crazy, not-so-nice side when I need to and he still sees the best part of me. He can be himself, tough, protective, kind warmed hearted and sometimes incredibly irritating, driving me crazy one minute and making me laugh the next. He treats me with respect and kindness. I love him regardless as he does me.

So how did 3 trips to Home Depot, one water hose fight, 6 hours working in the yard, tears, laughter and good music lead to what I think is verse 23? Three neighbors walked over to our house and spoke to him about what we had done and how nice our yard is looking. My father-in-law dropped by and liked it so much, he and my mother-in-law came back later that evening. Not bad for a Friday's work that almost did not happen.

You see, if I had told hubby that I wanted to work in the kitchen instead, he would have saved his vacation day and I would have some great kitchen photos to share with you. I would have had my nice neat little list checked off and hubby would have been excited at how nice the kitchen looked. It would have been a good, productive day. Instead, it turned into a wonderfully fantastic, productive day. God had a different plan, list and outcome for that day. It had nothing to do with mine and yet it so blew mine out of the water. I am grateful that I, for once, shut up and listened. Becoming this woman in Proverbs 31 is less about the checklist and more about listening and letting God take control. By doing so, God will take care of the rest and it will easily fall into place.

This beautiful Friday also helped me but I will share that next time... For now enjoy the before pictures. I will post after pictures as soon as I am able to lift my arms to take more photos. Yard work is really good exercise! Saturday was spent on the couch unable to move.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

You can laugh or cry but crying only ruins your make-up!

I started Operation P31 after much prayer, thought and consideration. I was trying to figure out who I wanted to be when I grow up. I have felt like I was being pulled in so many directions. How do I be the perfect wife, daughter, daughter-in-law, sister, friend, employee, church member, insert role here? Because in all truthfulness, I was probably "jack of all trades master of none" in all of them. These roles do not line up neatly according to height and patiently wait their turn. They back-up, drop their head and come barreling at you full speed from all directions. Who am I, what do I want to be in all of these roles? Once I figure it out, what do I do to get there? And then I saw an old photo that sparked a thought that allowed God to plant a seed.

Have I mentioned how much I love my grandma? And even though she is no longer with me, she still influences me. The old photo was of her, hanging her laundry out to dry, a normal activity for the 1950's housewife. But there she was in a crisp top, skirt, espadrilles and red lipstick. I do not know why but it lit a spark in me. I wanted to be that kind of woman, someone who put her best foot forward even when hanging out the clothes. I realized I wanted my husband to feel honored and loved when he walked into our home without me having to say a word. We tell each other "I love you butthead" everyday, (I promised honesty and it is a term of endearment, promise.), but I wanted him feel it. I want everyone to see that I am grateful and how much I appreciate all of the blessings God has given me. Driving by my yard and closing doors to hind messes, was not doing that at all. I wish I could tell you it was because I am so busy and never have time to get anything done. I am busy but there was a little idleness going on as well. Did I really need to watch that show about housewives who are on the lam from Alaskan fishermen on redneck vacations while buying unclaimed storage containers? Well of course, but not at the expense of the things that are important. So that is the story of what got my behind in gear. The realization that a little less idleness and a little more "Do I gotta? Yes, I gotta!".

For those that do not know me, I have a job that has two big events per year. I normally have a pretty good story after each event. I am not a person who panics or stresses easily. And if I reach the point of panic, I will try my best to "remain calm and carry on". In my position, if I am panicked/stressed/worried it causes a lot of other people to do the same and that makes my job of fixing it more difficult. So if the words "You have got to be kidding me" or an abbreviation of shitaki mushroom ever exit my mouth seek cover because those slip out before I have had a chance to pull it together. The story you will hear after the event will make you laugh because I normally shhhing the EMTs with gurney's so they do not disturb the other people. Or telling my very proper attorney boss, that I do know who to use a gun if necessary and that they will just have to put to put their big girl panties on and deal with it. So here is the FUNNY, story of why the photos of the kitchen are not posted.

My dear sweet wonderful husband (no really- I am not being sarcastic) decided we would have the kitchen floor and den carpet replaced. Thank the Good Lord up above. I decided to paint the wainscoting and trim in the kitchen before the floor was replaced. My deddy taught me how to paint so I am a very neat and clean painter but white paint on new wood floor may have caused a few abbreviated shitaki mushrooms. I decided to do it in the week time frame before the installers arrived. Every evening and one vacation day were spent lovingly painting my kitchen. I scrubbed, sanded and painted (with primer) with a smile on my face. It was going to be beautiful and not need to be done for a very long time. Friday night I collapsed in to bed with thoughts of lollipops, puppies and freshly painted kitchens dancing in my head. It was like Christmas Eve, the next day my beautiful new kitchen would be complete. Not so much... The next morning the gentlemen arrived to install the floor. They were fantastic until they started pulling up the quarter-round. Then they licked they red right off my lollipop. Coming off the wall and cabinets along with the quarter-round was my beautiful sanded, primed paint in sheets like wallpaper. There was a combo of the panic phrases in the above paragraph in front of the nice gentleman, my husband and father-in-law. Needless to say there will be a slight delay in posting the before and after pictures. Oh no, there will be no posting of before without after. That would be like hearing the story of Moses and the Egyptians without hearing the part of the Red Sea parting. No thank you. Painting will begin again on Friday and should be completed on Saturday. I will post before the paint dries and my arms start to look like Popeye's. Although many more days of painting and people will be able to stand beside me as I wave without fear of being slapped by my triceps!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Stop Acting a'Fool

"Ummm wifey, do you realize you just called God a fly? Now I'm not sure but something tells me that may get you a heaven timeout!" Don't you hate it when they use your own stuff against you? I may need to explain.

I am one of "those" people who cracks inappropriate jokes at the worst possible times and then gets tickled to the point of uncontrollable laughter. There are a few that really get me and laugh inappropriately with me. I call them family; where else do you get this ability? And my friends that get me, well I will not name names to protect those that cannot claim me by blood.
Exhibit A- After my Deddy was diagnosed with esophageal cancer; he was scheduled for surgery to remove the tumor and surrounding tissue. I will not go into details but it is by no means a simple surgery and would have caused many months of painful recuperation and therapy. With that said, the pre-op appointment was probably not the place to have one of these moments. But there it was, in all of its inappropriate glory and it was all Milton’s fault. You see, Deddy had a hernia and he asked if Dr. Moran could “fix” during his surgery. Now, if you do not know where my mind went immediately then you are no John Hughes fan and we can no longer be friends. Ok, of course we can still be friends but there will be a mandatory movie night at my house a.s.a.p. There he was, Long Duck Dong, the first image to enter my mind.  And the first words to exit my mouth? “You gonna fix it so grandpa’s hyena don’t get disturbed?” Well there were two people in that room that thought that was hi-la-ri-ous and they were not my mother or the doctor. How was I supposed to know Milton would know what I was talking about and find it as funny as me? What’s that you say? He is my dad and that might be why I thought it was funny in the first place? Well, you are little late with that advice now aren’t you. I will let you know when I am no longer grounded..
What about this timeout in heaven thingie- that started with one of these inappropriate moments. I am striving for complete openness and honesty in this journey. I am going to share how it happens and not sugarcoat it. This means not making the things I think and say sanitized. I pray, a lot but it is not always in the most formal way. I have been known to start a conversation, “Really Lord? This is what you had in mind? I really liked things like they were.” So I will not be surprised if there is a chair in the corner with my name right by the entrance when I arrive at the Pearly Gates. I will still get to enter but I may have to sit a spell and think about what I have done. I know that is not how it works but saying I will get a heaven timeout forces me to stop and reevaluate what I have said and get myself back in alignment. Calling God a fly? I did no such thing. I said to dear hubby that God kept bringing me back to Operation P31 like a fly buzzing in your ear. The thought just would not go away. Crap when you put it that way, more time in the chair! Does it help that even flies are on of God’s creatures? I sure hope that chair is at least comfortable because I may be there a good long while..

Where does the journey start? The same place this blog started, my kitchen. We just got new carpeting in our den and flooring in the kitchen. Everything is in complete chaos and it is the perfect time to start. By the time the floor is in, we will have almost completely renovated our kitchen one piece at a time. This weekend I will have before and after photos. It will be an attempt at Proverbs 31:27. Fasten your seat belts; it’s going to be a bumpy journey. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Cattycornered, Cattywhumpus, Off Kilter even

That is what this blog will be doing for a bit. Going a little all of the above. But first I feel I should share the actual pronunciation and meaning of the words in my title so that non-ENC folks can use them properly. :)
Cattycornered is technically cater-cornered meaning diagonally.
Cattywhumpus is catawampus meaning askew or awry.
Off kilter is out of kilter meaning out of alignment.

This blog started as a way to share my canning and cooking experiences. However, I found that through this blog, I am beginning to appreciate where I am from and who I am. I feel pulled in the direction to turn it into something more than food. I recently read My So Called Life as a Proverbs 31 Wife: A One Year Experiment by Sara Horn. It is a wonderful book and it really opened my eyes to the many blessings God has given me. Then came the question... "Am I presenting them (my blessings) in a way that is to his glory?" Dum dum dummmmmmm. Cue overly dramatic music and me with bent index finger to my lips. (Oh my dear sweet Mama, I am so sorry I watched the Young and the Restless with Grandma Turner every summer afternoon. It really did have an effect.) Well, take a minute call your mama and let her talk you up, put on your best dress, do your hair and make-up and maybe even hit the nail salon because you are going to need to feel good about yourself before you ask that question. It goes down hill faster than my dog down the steps when you say "chicken jerky". Translation- nope.

So that led to my really reading Proverbs 31. When I sat down I just knew I was going to have a perfect score. Ha! HA! I say. I have not failed a test this bad since high school geometry. (Oh honey- math is an evil four letter word.) The transcript for that conversation is below.

New Living Translation-
10 [b]Who can find a virtuous and capable wife? She is more precious than rubies.
11 Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life.
12 She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.

10 Well, I prefer sapphires because they are my birthstone but rubies will work.
11 Trust-Check! Enrich-Definitely! My chocolate hot pot desserts alone enrich his life.
12 Check! Ok if you don't count the time I hauled off and knocked the snot out of his arm for being a butthead about my new hair cut. Ok, so 1/2 check.

13 She finds wool and flax and busily spins it.
14 She is like a merchant’s ship, bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her household and plan the day’s work for her servant girls.

13 I spin it right on around in the washing machine BUT not the dryer
14 Does the Farmer's Market and the Whole Foods on Wade Ave count as afar? It is a bit of a drive from North Raleigh.
15 Have you met me? That would be a negative.

16 She goes to inspect a field and buys it; with her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She is energetic and strong, a hard worker.
18 She makes sure her dealings are profitable; her lamp burns late into the night.

16 If by fields you mean a Red Dot sale at Belk's and vineyard you mean wine, SUCCESS!
17 This one I feel comfortable saying yes without the risk of lightening.
18 Triple coupons at HT, baby. I am definitely more of an night owl

19 Her hands are busy spinning thread, her fingers twisting fiber.
20 She extends a helping hand to the poor and opens her arms to the needy.
21 She has no fear of winter for her household, for everyone has warm[c] clothes.

19 I can sew a mean button there lovechops!
20 Hmmm... Could I be doing more?
21 Fear, worry? Me, nope not me, not one teeny tiny little bit. Never ever ever.

22 She makes her own bedspreads. She dresses in fine linen and purple gowns.
23 Her husband is well known at the city gates, where he sits with the other civic leaders.
24 She makes belted linen garments and sashes to sell to the merchants.

22 I buy my own bedspreads and did I mention the Red Dot sale? Cute stuff thanks to those.
23 He really doesn't talk much but he is a good, kind man who is well thought of by his family and those who meet him.
24 Does helping make lawyers count?

25 She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.
26 When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness.
27 She carefully watches everything in her household and suffers nothing from laziness.

25 See 21
26 Crickets chirping... (still working on this one)
27 One word- ouch. Maybe I need to apply more of 17 to my household and not just my job.

28 Her children stand and bless her. Her husband praises her:
29 “There are many virtuous and capable women in the world, but you surpass them all!”

28 No children of my own but I am HUGE on the 12 month to 8 year old circuit. He does praise me but again could I be doing more?
29 In my mind maybe but not by example not yet anyway.

30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the LORD will be greatly praised.
31 Reward her for all she has done. Let her deeds publicly declare her praise.

Well as we can all see, there is work to be done in the my 31 household! And that is what I am doing. I am starting a journey to get my home and life in order. I want others to see God through me. I want you to feel the love of God, family, and friends in our home. I plan on starting first with my house and yard. How do I do that?

Darn those crickets are chirping again...