Savoring Sprinkle

The anticipation of waiting for the birth of a grandchild is a feeling that never gets old.

We are a blended family and we have 15 grandchildren between us so far ~ 14 of which are living here on this Earth and one we will meet in heaven some day.  We have twice as many boys as girls. M. and I have been in each others lives long enough to have welcomed 11 of these precious souls together.  It is still a thrill to welcome a new life.

It is interesting to see the changes in accessories and technology since I had babies.  For one, I never had an actual photo of any of my children while they were growing inside my womb.

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Side note: Ultra Sound was a fairly new option to determine the gender when I started having children. There was no need for me to have one when I was pregnant with my first baby.  I saw my second child, because it was offered, but I was clueless what I was looking at.  The nurse would say, “Here is a hand, here is a foot.”  I would look very hard, but it was nearly impossible for me to see. With my third child I miscarried his twin during my pregnancy.  When they showed me my son’s image on the screen to reassure me everything was okay, I could clearly see him and knew before they confirmed it that he was a boy.

One of my bonus daughters had a “sprinkle” recently.  In case you are new to this term, a sprinkle is just like a shower, but the gifts are not usually too large because you already have most of the big-ticket items from previous children.  In fact, there really isn’t much point unless you have a lot of children and really need new clothes or accessories for the newest member of the family.  Otherwise it is a nice opportunity to gather with family and friends to celebrate this exciting time of life.

 

Soft onesies, cuddly swaddling blankets, adorable outfits, and a lot of interesting small ticket items like a “Windi the gas passer” (check it out here if you are curious) were given as gifts.  Giggles and “aaah’s” were heard as each gift was opened.

 

The refreshments were light and these cute cookies were as delicious as they are adorable! Yes, she is having a boy in about 6 weeks!

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I am looking forward to meeting you in a few weeks baby Sam!!

Savoring Julia Child’s…

Beef Bourguignon

For the past several years, once January arrives, I set aside a day to prepare this flavorful dish. I love to cook and not afraid to try new recipes, so after watching the film Julie, Julia I was intrigued by the challenge.  It is a hearty stew perfect for cold winter evenings and is well worth the time and effort.

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The recipe I follow provides a generous amount, so I freeze the leftovers in smaller portions and we are able to enjoy this treat for weeks to come.  I wish I could take photos of food and make it look appetizing, so please know I really did try.

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The stew simmers in the oven for about 3 hours. Then you have to carefully remove the liquid and boil it down for about 40 minutes. (Look how rich and delicious it looks!) Once this step is complete you are left with a silky broth to pour back into the stew. Placing it in the refrigerator to sit until the next evening makes it taste even better.

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I would like to say I baked this bread, but I could never get the hang of the step which required dissolving the yeast in any of the recipes I have tried.  Also, the loaves I bake lack flavor (probably because of the yeast step), so this loaf is store-bought.

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There are many ways to serve the beef bourguignon – over noodles, with mashed potatoes or maybe a side vegetable ~ anything that suits your fancy.  M. wanted to try it with noodles and this is all we had in the pantry.  In my opinion, these noodles were not a positive addition; the sauce fell through the noodles instead of around the beef.  I will not serve it this way next time. I like to keep it simple and serve it with warm, crusty bread, maybe a small salad, and of course, wine.

I am hoping Julia would approve!

Kindness Rocks

Rocks have always had a special place in my heart and I have always been fascinated by the various textures and shapes.  Granted (no pun intended – granite – granted get it?) anyway…the ones I am mostly referring to are the ones painted by nature. Sometimes the beautiful color or the luster of the minerals made me happy so I kept it. I would often pick up a rock as a token or souvenir to remember a special location or vacation. Kind of like finding a shell on the beach and taking it home.  One very special rock is the one I found on a day I was terribly missing my mom not long after she passed away.  My heart was heavy and I really wanted to talk to her, to touch her and to be in her presence.  As I walked along in my grief, I noticed a heart-shaped rock lying on the ground beneath my feet.  Picking it up and gazing at the heart shape I noticed tiny sparkles of mica that caught the sunlight.  This simple rock gave me comfort, joy, and a connection to who I was missing at that moment.  I still have that rock.

Have you heard of the Kindness Rocks Project? I had not heard of this until I found two rocks in a period of two weeks in two different states!

 

On the back of each rock is a hashtag sign and the name of a city with the word “rocks” printed. For example, printed on back of one of these rocks was #WNC rocks.  After finding the second rock, I decided to look on the internet for anything that could explain what this meant.  I was surprised to learn this fad (for lack of a better way to say it) can be found all over the United States. It is called the Kindness Rocks Project.

The Kindness Rock Project was created to spread inspiration and a moment of kindness for unsuspecting recipients through random inspirational rocks dropped along the way.  Created by life coach Megan Murphy in hopes of sparking joy in people’s everyday lives.”

I found the Cat in the Hat rock on a bench outside a grocery store when we were at the beach in Florida during Thanksgiving.  After my internet research I learned you are supposed to take a photo and post it on Facebook.  So I did! The painter of the rock and I exchanged pleasantries and she was so pleased I had found it.  I have since hidden it here in my hometown.  The pretty snowflake rock was found by M. in Sylva, North Carolina when we stopped there for lunch on our way to Asheville one weekend before Christmas. Not only did the rock come with a cute penguin, but an additional surprise was taped behind the rock ~ a tiny pair of gold hooped earrings!  We decided to leave it hidden where we found it for some other lucky finder.

If you find a special rock painted by nature or painted by humans, I hope it brings you a feeling of joy, surprise, or a connection….even if that connection is to an unknown stranger who is trying to bring a smile and brighten someone else’s day.

Savoring an unexpected day off…

means, we can stay up a little later the night before and watch a movie on Netflix!

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We have to wake up so early on weekday mornings to go to work, that staying up past 9:00 makes it extra hard to get out of our comfortable bed the next morning. So having the opportunity to stay up later on a Sunday night is a treat!

I decided to make a new recipe I recently ran across for my breakfast this morning. I usually try to eat healthy, but when I find a recipe like this I just have to try it and I am so glad I did!  It is a yummy, delicious, get your taste buds ready for fall treat that compliments a warm drink!IMG_4483Yes, I am having cake for breakfast, but it is OH SO GOOD!!!

Here is the link if you want to try it too:      Chai Spiced Pound Cake

A Southern Jewel

I am talking about Amelia Island.

We were in search of a weekend getaway before I start back to school. After finding a nice little place to stay on short notice and considering we had never been here before it seemed like a good choice.

Yes, it was plenty hot, but we sought refuge either poolside or in the cool shade provided by the beautiful oak trees that surrounded our property.  A good beach book and a cool drink was all we needed during the hottest part of the day.

We also enjoyed exploring the island during the day and saw The Ritz Carlton and the Omni Plantation have beautiful locations on this small island.  There appears to be five golf courses as well.  Amelia Island is only 13 miles long and 4 miles wide.

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Most of the streets, on the part of the island where we stayed, were shaded and cooled by majestic oak trees.

 

      Morning walks on the beach along the Atlantic Ocean was a wonderful way to start our day!

We spent two of our three evenings in the charming and very walkable downtown area of Fernandina Beach. We browsed in unique upscale shops, dined on delicious seafood and was treated to live music each evening at the Green Turtle Tavern.

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On Saturday morning we wandered through a local farmer’s market.  The atmosphere was pleasant as the crowd mingled to the eclectic sounds of a guitar player. A local resident would often steal the show as he played bluesy tunes on his harmonica. Vendors proudly displayed fresh baked goods, homemade jewelry, lots of fresh vegetables, homemade jelly and marinades, gorgeous fresh flowers, and other whimsical items to highlight a few of the booths here.

 

We could not resist this lovely plant and carefully brought it home with us in the car! It survived the long car ride home and now our fingers are crossed it will continue to thrive in our soil.

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The lack of crowds and traffic usually found in beach destinations this time of year was a huge hit for us.  We enjoyed our time in this lovely area of the south and so glad we visited!

Savoring: Read Aloud

I never realized how much wisdom can be found in children’s literature until I became an elementary school teacher.

Every year for the past ten years or so I read one of my all time favorites Charlotte’s Web out loud to my class. If you have never read this story it is about the remarkable friendship between a spider and a pig.

I love to imitate the voices of the characters as I read this beloved tale. Glancing up from time to time, I marvel at how focused the children are and I often wonder how they are visualizing the scenes and characters in their minds.  Their laughter or giggles at the antics of some of the characters are music to my ears.

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The chapter called “Last Day” always chokes me up during the scene when Charlotte dies and I always have a hard time reading those lines aloud.  The children are taken by surprise and all sit very still and look at me unsure of how to react.  Some smile sweetly, some even walk up to give me hug as I dab the swelling of tears from my eyes.  They offer words of comfort such as “It’s only a book, it really didn’t happen.” “It’s okay to feel sad.” I smile and assure them I am ok and I can see the relief on their faces.  I think it leaves a good impression though, that it is ok and yes, even teachers cry.

Throughout the story the author, E.B. White, offers many delightful and insightful quotes that speak to me now ~ I never noticed when I was a child. I have to share a few of my favorites:

“Children almost always hang onto things tighter than their parents think they will.”

“You have been my friend,” replied Charlotte. “That in itself is a tremendous thing…after all, what’s a life anyway? We’re born, we live a little while, we die…By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle. Heaven knows anyone’s life can stand a little of that.”

“THE BARN was very large. It was very old. It smelled of hay and it smelled of manure. It smelled of the perspiration of tired horses and the wonderful sweet breath of patient cows. It often had a sort of peaceful smell—as though nothing bad could happen ever again in the world.”

“Most people believe almost anything they see in print.”

“The night seemed long. Wilbur’s stomach was empty and his mind was full. And when your stomach is empty and your mind is full, it’s always hard to sleep.”

As I read aloud the final lines of this wonderful story: ” She was in a class by herself.  It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer.  Charlotte was both.”  I am usually fortunate enough to look up just in time to see the smiles emerge as the children break into the sweet sound of applause.  It thrills my heart when this happens and it gives me hope that they will always remember this sweet story and these most precious days of their lives.

Savoring Salt Block?

My husband and I love to grill and enjoy trying creative ways to savor the flavor of food. The Himalayan Salt Block has been an interesting addition to our outdoor cooking although it can be used inside too. We already use the Himalayan salt grinder version (Trader Joe’s) every day to flavor our meals, so we decided to purchase the large salt block for the grill. It is suppose to have health benefits, but we like it mostly for the delicious flavor it adds to food.

When you first start cooking on the salt block it is nice and pink. Over time, the heat and permeating juices darkened it and now give it a rich glow.  I was afraid the food would taste extra salty, but the flavor is delicious!

I bought my husband the book “Salt Block Cooking” by Mark Bitterman for Father’s Day last year and it has taught us the many uses of the salt block and inspired us with a variety of recipes. Can’t wait to fire up that grill again!

I love the evenings when we grill outdoors!