Showing posts from 2017


I think about this every Christmas.

One day when I was expecting Jessica I was at my whits end.

It was a hot august day and I was seven months pregnant.

We didn't have air conditioning and I was miserable.

Heidi and Lucas were into everything that day.

Finally I called my mom.

I asked her if I could bring the kids over to her for a little bit.

She said, Oh my Honey, you bring them right now. You never ask me to watch them you must be in a bad way.

So I loaded them up and off we went.

My intention was to leave them with mom for a little bit.

I thought I just needed a little break.

When we got there  Mom fixed me a glass of iced tea and propped my feet up and told me she had something she wanted me to see before I left.

It just so happened dad had recently had out his old projector and the old movies.

Mom turned it on and it was an old home movie.

Dad of course was filming so we couldn't see him.

Brian, my oldest brother and I were very small.

We were looking at the tree.

We sta…


Mark's family isn't like my family.

You are shocked aren't you?

No, I know you aren't because your family isn't like your spouses family either.

We tend to think they are going to be, and we tend to think they are supposed to be and that often causes trouble on the holidays.

When I was first married, well really even before we got married I was shocked at how Mark's family did Christmas.

I felt like I should stand up and say, "Excuse me, I hate to say anything but you are going about this all wrong."

That embarrasses me so bad to say that.
Can you even imagine?

Of all the nerve.

My mom and dad always bought gifts like crazy when I was young.

At Marks folks they drew names and Lowell and June even drew in with them.

I was shocked.

I thought everyone was to get for everyone and the parents were especially supposed to get for everyone.

I mean for their children anyway, even if they are grown.

At my folks Christmas dinner was huge, food everywhere.

There …

Great Aunt Dorothy

I'm sure you like me have aunts or uncles that stand out in your mind when you think of your childhood. I was blessed with many wonderful aunts and uncles and even more blessed to have so many great aunts and uncles. My Great Aunt Dorothy Marshall Hein, my paternal grandfathers sister turned one hundred in July. She didn't just turn one hundred she is living a full life at one hundred. She still gets out and goes, she still cooks meals for her family,still goes to church and loves her family, church family and community. I remember as a girl when my mom was sick Aunt Dorothy would bring food. I remember her strawberry pies the best. My moms says, "Aunt Dorothy was always there for a birth and for a death, always there to help no matter the need. There is a family story told about the time when Aunt Dorothy was a young girl and her family sold strawberries she wrote her name and address on a berry box and that box found it's way to Chicago, a young man rode his motorcy…


Wait, you've got me all wrong.

I'm not like you think I am.

Well those of you who know me know I'm not what they think I am but those of you who only know me via this blog think I'm more than I am.

Years ago I was listening to an older lady speak she said, "Homemaking is not housekeeping but housekeeping effects homemaking."

I was all about the first part of her saying, I was on my feet ready to clap but then she finished it and I was glad I had never made it to my feet.

Oh I was going to be all about housekeeping and such.

I was going to be suzie homemaker and I did real good the first three months.

My grandma once said you could eat off my you wonder about walking on them.

I always had to work outside.

Mark worked public work and I took care of things here.

Many of times I would come in and get dinner, get up leave everything on the table and go right back out with the kids.

Those days are over now.

But I'm still not a Martha Stewart.


2017 Vacation Pictures! Well a Few of Them Anyway

Vacation 2017 has came and gone.

In one of the pictures, it's one of the lakes, if you look down in the left hand corner you can see the gator we were watching.

Here are a few pictures of our time at Orange Beach Alabama.

Jessica turned 25 while we were gone.

She and all of our girls love, I Love Lucy, so Heidi got her another I Love Lucy blanket.


Here we are again.

It's vacation time.

When I was a girl we didn't go on vacation.

We couldn't afford it and it seems we really didn't even think about going.

Vacation for us was going to Ohio to Kings Island.

Mark's family went on one  every year.

When we were first married we went a few places but not many and then it all changed.

Mark decided he wanted to start going on vacation.

Me...not so much.

I was seven months pregnant with Liv when we went on our first trip.

So I packed for Mark, myself and three kids.

We couldn't afford to eat out, so I packed my electric skillet, groceries, towels, dish soap and plenty of laundry detergent because I was going to need to find a laundromat.

That was to be the vacation routine for several years.
Now days you find all that in a condo, no need for an electric skillet but we couldn't afford a condo and I was doing all this in a motel room.

We like most, had a limited amount of time, so we got up early and drove late…


I'm either going to have to eat my words or start living by them.

Practice what I preach or be still.

You know me and if you have read many of my blog posts you know I'm all about hospitality.

I can tell you all about how it's not the house or the place but the feeling that makes people feel welcome.

I can tell you not to stress and focus on what's right and not on what's wrong.

Oh I can tell you alright but can I live it?

Well apparently not.

Oh I do to a large measure but this last weekend I didn't.

This last weekend I ate my words.

As you know we had Mark's family reunion over at Lost River.

I worried about the heat.

I thought everyone would be to hot and then they would be miserable.

We ended up with enough air conditioners to make the building comfortable.

Problem solved.

I was concerned about flies.

People don't like flies and we were having a reunion on a poultry farm and the cows were not far from the building we were holding the reunion in, so …


I first had this at a ladies prayer meeting.

We were meeting at Shirley's house and she served this in pretty glass dessert goblets with a dollop of  whipped  cream on top.

It was a cool, rainy night in fall and her house was so warm and cozy and then she brought this out and the evening was complete.

She sent me home with the recipe and I'm hoping you will like it as much as I do.

If you are an experienced baker you will appreciate the ease of this recipe and if you are a beginner you won't be intimidated.

It's the perfect fall dessert.

3 eggs

1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling, just plain pumpkin

1 (12. oz.) can evaporated milk, not condensed, make sure it's  evaporated, there is a difference.

1 cup sugar

1/8 tsp. salt

1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

1 tsp. cinnimon

1 tsp vanilla

1 box yellow cake mix

2 sticks real butter, melted

1 cup chopped nuts (optional)  I use them

Mix the first 8 ingredients really well.

Pour into an ungreased 9x13 inch baking dish



Lots and lots of recipes call for wine.

Lots and lots of people for different reasons shy away from a recipe calling for any kind of alcohol.

I've received a few questions about substitutes so I wanted to share with you what little bit I know.

I have several recipes that call for some sort of wine and I usually just use what is called for but sometimes I don't.

Don't just see  a recipe calls for alcohol and dismiss it, you will be missing a lot of good dishes.

There are some good easy things you can use in the place of the wine.

What if a recipe calls for red wine and you don't want to use  wine, no problem you can use beef broth.

Just replace the wine with equal amounts of beef broth, yes it will give a slight flavor change but not much and the broth will add a richness.

You can also use red grape juice, the grape juice is a little sweeter than the wine would be so add a splash of vinegar to off set the sweet.

Now for white wine substitutes.

Just like you can use beef…


Here's the barbecue sauce recipe I told you I would share.

I don't even know where I got this recipe.

It was in my cookbook, the one where I write all of our favorites.

I had never even made it before and yet for some reason I wrote it in my cookbook as a favorite.

The thing is after I made it, it is a favorite and it turns out the recipe is exactly where it should be, in my book of favorites.

If you have even been to the American Legion or some place around your town that has chicken barbques you will find this sauce is a lot like the ones they use.

It isn't thick, it doesn't coat heavy like a lot of the store bought sauces do, it's almost like a glaze and you really can't even see it on the meat but oh my can you taste it.

I hope you will like it.

1 cup vinegar
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup bacon grease
1 tsp. tabasco sauce
1 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dry mustard
1 tbsp.  sugar
2 tbsps. worchestire sauce
1 tsp. garlic powder.

Simmer for ten minutes.
Cool and …


Did you ever have get a flat tire?

It usually doesn't take long to know you have a flat.

There's that bumpy, uneven ride you start noticing.

It might even be another driver sees it and tries to let you know by waving and motioning.

Once you know you have a flat, you're pretty much stopped.

You can't continue on until you deal with it.

You are going to have to find a safe place to pull over, you can't just stop anywhere.

Then you are going to have to get out and look and see exactly where its at and how bad it is.

You will have to find the spare if you even have one.

Then you are going to have to find the jack.

At some point you are probably going to have to get down on the ground.

You are probably going to get some road gravel and dirt on you and you very well might break a sweat from getting the lugs loose and tugging on the tire.

Eventually you'll  get it fixed and you'll get back on the road, only this time  the ride will be different

It'll feel smoo…


I've driven a lot of old cars and trucks and vans in my day.

I've been stranded along the road when they broke down and I've been stranded in parking lots when they failed to start.

We had one old truck that had a big hole in the floor board, practically no brakes, windshield wipers that once turned on would not go off and the windows would only roll part way down.

This was the truck the kids and I delivered tomatoes in.

When we got to the end of the road the kids would start saying, "Pump mom" because I had to pump the brakes.

This was the truck we took 4-H projects to the fair in.

Four kids and myself in a truck with windows that wouldn't roll down and we are  in the middle of July, oh and the window wiper switch got hit so they were going back and forth and it was sunny and ninety- five degrees out.

Heidi had her cake she was entering on her lap all the kids and me were in the front seat of the truck, remember we are hot and crowded and in a hurry.

We had…


You know how much I admire Ma Ingalls, Caroline Ingalls from Little House on the Prairie.

It didn't matter what happened, no matter how bad the deal or how stressed out Pa was she held her tongue.

When she saw what happened or after Pa, told her what happened she would  nod her head or she would just sit quiet.

I know that is exactly what she should have done.

Her example is great.

Pa didn't need her telling him how it would be okay, he didn't need her telling him what he did wrong or what he could do different next time.

He needed for her to be still.

She needed to give him time to deal with it within himself.

He needed time to think and to process.

We had a situation like this just last week and it's the very reason I know I'm no Ma Ingalls.

I had been mowing over at Lost River, I was almost done and Mark said he would take over.

He accidently hit a gas line.

He got down and looked at the line.

It scared me to death.

I started saying, "We better call the gas…


You know I love the dinner table.

You know I'm all about cooking and eating.

And you know every time I get the chance I am going to promote that.

But hopefully you also know.... I know where we are today.

I know life if different now, and as nice as the kitchen table and the family all  around's hard to get it done.

Soooo....we find ourselves running through the drive-thru on the way  home from practice or work.

Or we pull a frozen pizza out of the freezer and pop it in the oven.

That's all okay.

You see one way a family is built is around a  meal, not the food.

The two are not the same.

The time is more important than the menu.

If you have to eat in the car...then eat in the car but make sure the radio is off, don't let the kids be watching a movie, don't be on your phone.

Eat and talk.

You can have the dinner table atmosphere in the car.

Don't think that a number one off the fast food menu on a Tuesday or a frozen pizza on the table on Tuesday is…


The Sandwich Ring got a big response.

Several of you asked about how to make it so I'm gonna to tell you.

It's so not hard.

It looks impressive but it's for the beginner cook.

Here's what you need.

2 tubes (11 ounces each) refrigerated crusty French bread dough
Bottle Italian dressing
1/2 pound sliced deli ham
1/4 pound Swiss cheese, halved
1/2 pound sliced deli Roast Beef
1/4 pound colby cheese, halved
1/2 pound sliced deli turkey
2 cups shredded lettuce
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1 green pepper, thinly sliced
1 medium tomato, thinly sliced
sliced black olives
sliced jalapeno peppers

Take the two loaves of dough and put them seam side down on a greased pizza pan, forming a large ring and pinch the ends to seal it.
Then take a sharp knife and make eight fairly deep slices across the top of the bread.
Brush the top of the bread with Italian salad dressing.
Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.
When it's done let it cool for at least 15 minutes

When the bread ha…


How are you spending your life?

That's a big question and when we think of our life we tend to think of it as a whole.

And of course that's right but it's important to keep in mind that a whole life involves lots of pieces.

I heard a preacher tell a story and he said it like this,  "We think of time as like a $100.00 bill and we are going to lay it down all at once and buy something.
One big thing and we're done.

But that isn't how it works really.

In reality we all have to go to the bank and cash that bill in for a bunch of change.

For the most part we go through life spending change as far as time goes.

We spend a little bit listening to a hurting co-worker.

We spend a little more when we come home, get supper and hurry back out to he funeral home to support a friend.

Then there are those cupcakes for school, you shell out a little more time.

You want to sit down and put your feet up but you know mom would love a call from you so you  give her a call. Ching,…


When Mark and I were first married, he had a bad temper.

He got mad a lot quicker than me.

I was the laid back one.

Years went by and Mark mellowed and I hardened.

I would just look at him and think, "Go ahead, make my day."
(I never saw that movie but I have heard that line)

One day I was doing dishes and listening to the radio.

A man was talking about his wife and he said she had such a sweet spirit, she spoke sweetly.

I stopped washing the dishes.

I wanted Mark to be able to say that about me.

In the past he would have, but somewhere along the way I got grouchy and not so sweet spirited.

I decided it was time to get back to myself.

It didn't take long to get my first test.

Mark calls me a lot during the day.

I was working on something and he called me, I saw it was him and I thought, "I just talked to you."

I was going to answer the phone one way, but then I remembered the man with the wife who had a sweet spirit, a wife who spoke sweetly.

So I answered swee…


Some of you requested the Raisin Pie recipe so here it is.

I had never had a raisin pie until I married into the Gray family.

Mark loved them and when I was given a bridal shower before we married, everyone was asked to bring a recipe.

Marilyn Losson brought this one.

I have to admit as a young wife I let it sit in the recipe box for a little while but once I took it out, it just kept coming back out.

Mark's grandpa Gray loved a raisin pie and so we took this over to his house often and of course we took a half gallon vanilla ice cream along with us.

When Lucas came in the other day and saw this on the counter he said the first thing he thought of was Grandpa Herman.

The girls aren't crazy about this pie but Lucas likes it and he likes it with ice cream too, so I'm thinking it's a Gray man thing.

Okay, so here we go, the recipe is.....

2 cups seedless raisins
2 cups water
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. vinega…


Sometimes you look back on the things your parents said and realize how right they were.

Dad always said a man needed a piece of land. He said if he has land he can take care of his family and provide for himself.

He also said a man needed a flue and a good woodstove.

When I was a girl we had a tornado and we were without electric for over a week.

It was early April and still a little cool but we were warm because we had a woodstove.

Mom cooked all our meals and made coffee on that stove.

We never went without and we didn't have to call on anyone to help.

When the big blizzard came and we were without power for a long time our pipes didn't freeze, we didn't freeze and we had plenty to eat thanks to the woodstove.

The same is true of a good well.

If you have a stove you can cook and stay warm and if you have a good well you can get water, now it might not be easy since everything is hooked up to the electric pump but still, push come to shove, you can get water out of that…


I've had cause everyday this week to be  outside at Lost River between three and four in the morning.

It's a beautiful time to be out.

It helps a person get perspective on things, some thing about stillness and a dark sky filled with stars sorta puts you in your place.

I think a lot of stuff when I'm out there.

I think about my family, I think about you all, I think about food, I pray for people who pop into my mind.

This morning I thought..."I'm cold."

So I got back in the truck.

You thought I was going to say something good didn't you?

Anyway, that is what I thought, so I did get in the truck and I turned the radio on.

There was a man talking and I don't know who he was but he was talking about worry.

He mentioned the verse in the Bible that says, "Birds of the air do not sow or reap."

That's in the book of Matthew and of course we know one of the things that passage teaches is that its of no use to worry.

The man on the radio said, he…


My grandmother's were  two completely different types of women.
Both of them wonderful and I loved them immensely.
One of them has passed away and one is still living.
One always had birthday cakes for us and the other one didn't.
One always had big Christmas dinners and one of them didn't.
One bought us gifts fairly often, one didn't.
It didn't matter to me.
As a child I don't think I even realized it.
All I knew was they both loved me.
I loved so many things about each of them.
I remember one Christmas I got an electric blanket and a Minnie mouse wrist watch.
I adored it. The blanket was yellow and the watch was white. I received many gifts from that grandma but that stands out in my mind.
I didn't get many gifts from my other grandma but I didn't care. She didn't drive and things were just different.
But I do remember the gifts I got from her. One day I was at her house and she asked me to go into the front bedroom with her.
She had me sit down on…