Friday, June 24, 2011

Life on Hold

Just when I thought I might be developing a solid plan for my blog, life takes over.

My grandma (I call her Nana) has been battling Alzheimer's for years. She is so strong and creative, it has been heartbreaking to watch her decline.  But the biggest heartbreak is on it's way. She developed a "pressure ulcer" or bedsore a while back, and in one of her rare moments of communication, asked that there be no more hospitals. So they are letting it run its course and infection has set in. She took a turn for the worse last weekend, and they placed her in Hospice care on Monday. I've spent all week bracing and preparing for that dreaded call.

So instead of blogging this week (and in the weeks to come), I am spending time with my kids and husband, calling my mom, looking through old pictures, reading family cookbooks, and journeying back and forth between home and hospitals.  I am finding peace day by day as I honor this amazing woman.


That's my Nana in the pink, helping my son break into his candy stash at Easter. The beautiful woman in blue is my other grandmother, Meemaw.

I hope you will bear with me while I "unplug" for a bit. My Nana loved the internet and had she not faded so much in the last few years, I am sure she would have loved reading all these blogs and Facebook statuses. Still, I feel it only proper to honor her in these last few days by spending time with the people she loved most.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Recipe Roundup

I thought I would share one of my husband's favorite meals. This is a great potluck meal and it freezes really well.

Green Chile Casserole

1-2 lbs. ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can green chilies, chopped
1 small can evaporated milk
1 pound cheddar cheese
1 package flour tortillas

Tear tortillas into pieces. Brown meat and onion together. Add soups, green chilies and milk. Mix well. Layer tortillas, meat mixture, cheese two times in a 9 x13 or casserole dish. Bake for 30 minutes in a 350 degree oven until bubbly.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Small Town Life

I grew up in a small town and I live in a relatively small town now.  City-dwellers would definitely call my town "small", but compared to where I grew up, it is a veritable metropolis. And by that, we mean that is has a Wal-Mart and a movie theater.

So why small town life? I don't know.  It's just me. I like knowing who people are, and I like knowing who their parents were and what their family is like. I like that it only takes 15 minutes to run to the grocery store. I could keep going on, but I just sound like the "Green Acres" theme song.




In this small town life, there are a few staples or even rites of passage. We got to enjoy one of these last week as we celebrated our little town festival. And every good festival or event needs a parade. I love small town parades.  It is like the best (and sometimes worst) of a community on display.



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During that parade, I had the privilege of watching a float of veterans roll down the street just behind those flags.  I hate being mushy in public, but I had to choke back a little emotion as they made their way by. When they passed, the crowds that lined the streets took a moment to realize just who it was sitting on that float. Several of the men had to have been World War II vets based on their ages. They waved their feeble hands and tipped their Army hats at the crowd. We stood and clapped, then the cheer began to roar down the street. It moved me to see the people who lined the streets to stand and clap and cheer for these men who have made such a difference in our world. I know this moment isn't just specific to small town life, but it still makes me proud.

On another note, we are "celebrating" another rite of passage this weekend for small town life: A garage sale. I hate them, but they are kind of necessary evil in our house!

Have a great weekend!




Tuesday, June 14, 2011

"Hotternhell"


This was the thermometer on our back porch on Sunday, June 12, 2011. The sun was shining on it, so that elevated the temp a little, but geez, that's hot!

That's how we say it in Texas--"It's Hotternhell"(Hotter than hell!)

Monday, June 13, 2011

My Brownie Recipe

Since I am branching out to other topics that I love, I thought I would start with one of my favorites:  Food.  I don't really consider myself a "foodie." While I do love an episode of Top Chef, I am not what you would consider much of technician in the kitchen. I am more of a negotiator.  I love comfort food, have a vicious sweet tooth, and my most used kitchen device is probably my can opener.

But cooking and baking still holds a lot of meaning for me.  There are so many of my memories that center around the taste, smell, and preparation of food. One of my most prized possessions is a binder full of recipes that my Nana typed straight out of her recipe box.  She gave all her grand-daughters copies of that binder for Christmas a few years ago. Oh, to look through those pages and picture the dishes at a family holiday or church potluck.  I love how some things are just called "Church Salad" or "Papa's Favorite Cake."

So one of my earliest memories of cooking came sneaking up on me this week.  When I was in elementary and Jr. High, I used to tag-along with my older sister when she went to these, like, Home Ec parties during the summer. I am sure this event had some specific name, but I don't remember it now.  What I do remember was that the Home Economics teacher . . . Oh, wait. When I say "Home Ec", I am referring to the cooking/sewing class that was taught in my tiny school. In the days before political correctness and Title 9 (all good things, just a different time), all the girls took Home Ec and the boys took Ag. Just the way we were raised and I don't regret it for a second.

Anyway, so the Home Ec teacher would open the huge kitchen/lab/sewing room/living room in our tiny school and they would have this Home Ec class during the summer. You could go up there and use the school's monster, heavy-duty sewing machines and learn to cook a few things. The class was really for my sister, but I loved that kind of stuff, so I went too.

One of the first things I learned to make were Brownies. (I must capitalize out of reverence.)  I somewhere still have the 3x5 index card with my elementary handwriting outlining this recipe, but I don't need it anymore since I've had it memorized for a while. (Not an amazing feat, I can also recite the prologue to Romeo and Juliet as well!)

The sweet-tooth kicked in this week, and so I baked some Brownies. Yum!

And so I share with you, My Brownie Recipe.  Much loved and widely tested. I always think about that first batch in the Home Ec room. They remind me of simpler times, my mom, my sisters, and now my kids who love them too. I hope you enjoy.


Brownies
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 cups flour
3-4 Tablespoons Cocoa
pinch of salt
1 tsp. Vanilla
1 cup melted oleo or butter
1/2 cup pecans (optional)

Mix eggs and sugar together. Add the flour, cocoa, and salt. Then add oleo and vanilla. Mix well. Stir in pecans if needed. Bake in a greased 13 x 9 pan for 35 minutes or until barely done.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Change of Heart

Ever since I started this blog, I have struggled for things to say. I felt pressure to have a blog because I want to be a writer. The blog was also handy to repost things to get entered into contests and such. I can't even count the number of times when I open up a new post and then I just stare at the screen. I find myself wanting to talk about my kids or my dogs or my cousins who inexplicably own a airplane or my brownie recipe or about my Nana who is losing her battle with Alzheimer's or . . . Well, you can see, the list goes on and on.

Then I straighten up, put my fingers to the keyboard and think: Write! This is a dang writing blog!

And nothing . . .

So the other day, to avoid the pressure of an empty blog post, I did what any self-respecting writer would do--I snuck over to twitter. In my feed, someone had posted a link to this article by Kristen Lamb.

"Eureka!" I screamed!

In her article she says this:

"Many writers start out hot and heavy for blogging. Then, about a month in, they hate their life, their blog and want to punch a fluffy kitten in the face. Why?
They aren’t blogging to create a brand. Our name is our brand. WE are our brand. The following on our blogs should be a following for US. We don’t need a writing blog, we need an US blog. I have blogged about being addicted to Febreeze. Does that teach you guys anything about writing or social media? No, because I don’t have a writing blog. I have a Kristen Lamb’s Blog.
An US blog doesn’t mean we talk about ourselves. Since when has talking about ourselves non-stop ever been a good plan for making friends? No, rather, an US blog takes our interests and connects with others on mutual ground."

So here we go.

I am changing what I write about.

I will keep the ideas of characterization, dramatic tension, and plot points in Scrivener, where they belong. Because that's what was happening anyway. If I wanted to write about writing, I needed to just go write the dang book!

So this blog will now be about me and hopefully my readers.
Here are some of the topics to look forward to:
Brownies
Parades
The Squash Plant that "might" take over my backyard

The ideas are endless. I can't wait to see what happens next!