Sunday, May 31, 2009

Yeah, I'm So There ...

Well folks, it's that time ... yep, we're going to the country. Unfortunately, this is only a temporary move. We'll be away for several weeks ... well, more like a couple months. One of the joys of home education it that we can stay away for as long as we wish and we can go anywhere our hearts dream - no last day of school, no first day of school, no limited time for breaks, no missed assignments to make up ... freedom.

I'm sure many of you are wondering, "What about your garden, what about your chickens, what about your dog?" All that's covered. JP will be home. He will tend to the chickens, dog, garden irrigation and forwarding mail. I have incredibly fabulous friends who have set up a schedule to harvest our produce from the garden. It will not fall on the ground and go to waste and they'll get to eat some fresh, healthy veggies all summer long.

I don't know if or when I'll have a chance to log-in or post. But be assured, I'll take plenty of photos & notes and share it all with you as soon as possible.

I pray God's blessings over you, and your family this summer. I pray your summer is filled with rest if you are weary, peace if you are troubled, joy if you are saddened, laughter if you are shedding tears, and provision if you are in need. I pray you will draw close unto the Lord and allow Him to be your all in all. I pray your face will shine, you will find laughter and will dance in the sunshine of His mercy, grace and love.

Love and Blessings to you and yours,

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Recipes From The Garden

When I was a girl, our family had a particular method to cooking each type of food. Everything we ate was always cooked the same way. I was 19 years old and living in another state before I realized one could do more with a chicken than fry it or make chicken and dumplings out of it.

Unknown to my children, I do have a creative side. I'm just not artistically gifted in the the typical areas of art, music or design. My creativity is expressed through more practical means, such as cooking. A gourmet chef, I am not. But, when my older sons were teenagers ALL their friends LOVED coming to our home for breakfast, lunch or supper. A few would routinely inquire, "Is your mom cooking?", whenever they were invited to our home.

Today, I'd like to share a few recipes for the zucchini, green beans and cucumber we harvested from our garden yesterday. If you decide to try these recipes, I hope you and your family enjoy them as much as we do.


We prefer to harvest our zucchini when it's small, about 6 inches. Although zucchini will grow very large, very rapidly, large zucchini's seem a little bland to my palette.

Steamed Zucchini

4 small zucchini, sliced 1/2 inch thick
2tbs. butter
1/2 tsp. salt

Steam zucchini over boiling water until tender, being careful not to over cook it. (Over cooked zucchini will be soggy and fall apart easily. ) While steaming zucchini, melt butter and salt in microwave or over low heat. Pour butter mixture into a serving dish, add zucchini and toss to coat. Makes 4-6 servings.

Sauteed Zucchini

4 small zucchini, sliced on the diagonal 1/2 inch thick
1/2 medium onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. sugar
olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

In a large skillet (I use cast iron - it really does improve the flavor of foods), saute olive oil, onions and sugar over medium heat until onions begin to turn translucent. Add zucchini, garlic, salt and pepper. Continue to saute until zucchini is tender. 4-6 servings.

Boiled Zucchini
(this is the way my family prepared it when I was a girl)

4 small zucchini, sliced 1/2 inch thick
1 small onion, sliced
2 pats butter
salt & pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a medium pot. Add water until covered by 1 inch. Bring to a boil and cook until onions are translucent. 4-6 servings

Fried Zucchini
(a good recipe for large zucchini's)

2 large zucchini, sliced 1/2 inch thick
4 eggs, well beaten
cornbread mix (see below)
salt & pepper to taste
bacon ranch dressing
oil for frying

In a medium bowl beat eggs. Add a little bit of salt and pepper. Place flour in a gallon sized zip lock bag, add a little bit of salt & pepper. Place cornbread mix in another gallon zip lock bag, again, add a little bit of salt & pepper. Dip the zucchini in the egg, place in the flour, shake to coat well. Return to the egg, place zucchini in the cornbread mix, shake well to coat. Fry in hot oil until golden, 3-4 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Serve with bacon ranch dressing.

Cornbread Mix (makes about 5 batches)
4 1/4 c. flour
4 c. cornmeal
3/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. baking powder
1-2 tsp. salt
1 c. shortening
Combine dry ingredients. Cut in shortening. Store in airtight container in cool dry place.
To Mix Up Cornbread:
2 1/3 c. mix
1 egg, well beaten
1 c. milk
Combine all until moist. (batter should be lumpy) Pour into greased 8in. baking pan. Bake at 425 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until golden and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Zucchini Bread

2 2/3 c. sugar
2/3 c. shortening
3 c. shredded zucchini
2/3 c. water
4 eggs
3 1/3 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cloves
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. baking powder
2/3 c. coarsely chopped nuts
2/3 c. raisins

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 2 loaf pans. Mix sugar and shortening together. Stir in zucchini, water and eggs. Mix in flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves, vanilla and baking powder; stir in nuts and raisins. Pour into pans and bake 50-60 minutes until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely before slicing.

Raw Zucchini

The healthiest way to consume zucchini is to eat it raw. We like it sliced thin and added to salads. The children also like it cut into sticks and served with ranch dressing. And, of course, I often add it to soups and stews, but then it's not raw is it?

Green Beans
Harvest green beans when they are slender, no thicker than your little finger. If you let them grow too large, even the stringless varieties will be stringy.
Steamed Green Beans

1 1/2 lb. green beans, left whole with the stem end removed
2 tbs. butter
1/2 tsp. salt

Steam green beans over boiling water until crisp tender. Meanwhile, melt butter and salt in the microwave or over low heat. Add green beans to butter mixture and toss to coat.
variation: Add sliced almonds and pimentos to green beans when steaming. 4 servings

Southern Green Beans
(this is the method we cooked when I was a girl)

2 lb. green beans, snapped
1 onion, diced
3 slices thick bacon, diced
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. white vinegar
salt & pepper to taste

Place green beans, onion, bacon, sugar, salt and pepper in a medium pot. Add water until covered by 1 inch; add vinegar. Boil over medium high heat until onion is translucent. When serving add a little cooking liquid to serving bowl. This will keep the green beans moist and ensure that southern flavor. 4-6 servings

Roasted Green Beans

1 1/2 lb. green beans, left whole with stem end removed
1 tbs. olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

In a medium bowl, combine olive oil, salt and pepper. Add green beans, toss to coat. Spread green beans onto a greased baking sheet. Roast in 350 degree oven 10-15 minutes, until tender. 4 servings

Sauteed Green Beans

1 1/2 lb. green beans, left long with stem ends removed
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt & pepper to taste
olive oil

In a medium skillet heat olive oil over medium heat. Add green beans. Saute until crisp tender, add garlic, salt and pepper. Saute for 1 additional minute. 4-6 servings

Salad Green Beans
(healthiest method and good when you only have a small amount)

hand full of green beans, snapped
boiling water
ice water

Place green beans in boiling water for 1-2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to ice water to stop cooking process. Add to salad.

We also add green beans to soups, stews, etc. There is also the "famous" green bean casserole that I think every family in America prepares at Thanksgiving and Christmas; I trust everyone already has a favorite recipe for that.


I always plant pickling cucumbers. I prefer the stronger flavor and I like their versatility. It is best to harvest pickling cucumbers when they are about 4 inches. As with zucchini, I think they loose some of their flavor if left to grow too large.

Bread & Butter Pickles
(As a kid, I didn't know cucumbers could be prepared any other way)

4 lb. cucumbers, sliced 1/4 inch
2 lb. onion, thinly sliced
1/3 c. canning salt
2 c. sugar
2 tbsp. mustard seed
2 tsp. turmeric
2 tsp. celery seed
1 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. peppercorn
3 c. vinegar
ice cubes

Combine cucumber and onion slices in a large bowl, layering with salt; cover with ice cubes. Let stand 1 1/2 hours. Drain; rinse; drain again. Combine remaining ingredients in a large sauce pot; bring to a boil. Add drained cucumbers and onions and return to a boil. Pack hot pickles and liquid into hot prepared canning jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space. Remove air bubbles. Adjust two-piece caps. Process in a boiling water caner 10 minutes. about 7 pints

Cucumber Salad

3 c. thinly sliced cucumbers
1 small red bell pepper, julienned
1/2 c. purple onion, thinly sliced
1/3 c. sugar
1/3 c. apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dill

Combine all ingredients, mixing well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. 4-6 servings

Cucumber & Tomato Salad

3 cucumbers, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/2 c. purple onion, thinly sliced
2 large tomatoes, sliced and then halve the slices
1 c. mozzarella cheese, cubed
1/4 c. Italian salad dressing

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Mix well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. 6 servings.

Cucumber Sandwiches

2 cucumbers
2 green onions
1/4 c. red bell pepper
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 tsp. dill
salt & pepper to taste
8 slices whole wheat bread, toasted

Chop the cucumbers, green onions and bell pepper in the food processor until finely chopped, being careful not to puree. Transfer to a mixing bowl, add cream cheese, dill, salt and pepper.
Spread mixture onto whole wheat bread. Cover with lettuce and tomato. Top remaining bread slices. 4 servings

Monday, May 25, 2009

Simple Tee-Shirt Dress Tutorial

The last time I made OG a tee-shirt dress, I mentioned to Ginger over at Ginger's Place (, that I'd post instructions with photos. So, with no further adieu ...
(please click on the photos for a close-up view, if needed)

Step 1 - Prepare the tee-shirt.
Put the tee-shirt on your child. Measure from the arm pit seam to your child's waist. On this particular tee-shirt, OG's measurement was 5 1/2 inches (note: Every shirt has a different fit, always measure each shirt individually Also, remember to measure twice, cut once). Add 1/2 inch for a seam allowance. I will cut this tee-shirt off 6 inches below the arm pit seam.

Step 2 - Pinking shears.
I use pinking shears, which prevents fraying, to cut the tee-shirt 6 inches from the arm pit seam. I discard the left over.
Step 3 - Preparing the skirt fabric.

Since I make these little dresses for OG to play in, she likes plenty of "leg" room, it's not fun to have a skirt too narrow at the knees when you're trying to run or ride a bike. I also prefer OG's skirt length to be below the knee, so I measure from her waist to the desired length. OG wanted this dress' finished hem to be 20 1/2 inches long. After measuring TWICE (I want to be certain the measurements are correct), I, again, use my pinking shears to cut the fabric 54 inches wide (that's 1 1/2 yards), by 22 inches long (the extra 1 1/2 inch length is for a seam allowance and the hem). The 54 inches being the distance around the waistline and knees. The 22 inches is the length from waist to hem of the skirt.
Step 4 - Right sides together.
Holding the long ends (54 inches), fold the fabric in half, right sides together. Pin this seam with straight pins.
Step 5 - Straight stitch.
Stitch the seam together using your machine's straight stitch.

Step 6 - Iron the seam open.

Step 7 - Hem.
Since this dress will be used for play, I am not going to hand stitch the hem. A machine stitched hem will be more durable. Fold the hem of the fabric over 1/4 inch and iron. Fold the hem of the fabric over a second time 1/4 - 1/12 inch and iron. Secure the second ironed fold with pins. Stitch the hem with your machine's straight stitch.

Your skirt will be tubed shaped like this:

Step 8 - Basting the waistline.
Using a single strand of thread (I like to use contrasting thread, it's easier to see when it comes time to remove it), hand stitch very LARGE stitches 1 inch below the waistline.

Step 9 - Gathering.
When you've basted the entire waistline, pull the thread creating a tight gather. See how bunched up the fabric is in the below photo?

Step 10 - Pinning the skirt to the tee-shirt.
Lay the tee-shirt flat on top of your work surface. Open the gathered end of the skirt so that it is the same width as your tee-shirt. Find the skirt seam and align it with the center of the back of the tee-shirt, with RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER, secure the skirt seam to the center edge of the back of the tee-shirt with pins. Now work your way around the skirt and tee-shirt securing each gather with pins. (click the photo for a close up view).

Step 11 - Stitching the skirt to the tee-shirt.
Being careful that your tee-shirt is laying flat under the skirt fabric (we don't want the tee-shirt to bunch up into the waistline seam) straight stitch the skirt to the tee-shirt, removing the pins as you go. I like to double stitch (sewing a seam twice) the waistline for more durability. Clip and remove the basting thread.

Below is what the wrong side of the stitched tee-shirt and skirt will look like when you take it off the machine and pull the tee-shirt out.

Below is a close up of the right side of the stitched seam of the tee-shirt and skirt.

After you make one or two of these simple little tee-shirt dresses and are comfortable with the technique, you will be ready to get creative with various embellishments. OG wanted a ribbon sash and pockets on this little "sun dress".
Total cost:
tee-shirt - free
fabric & ribbon - $4.47
1 1/2 hours time

Thankful & Map of the Fallen

(I am sorry regarding the cropping of the above photo, blogger's not loading it correctly, please click on the image for the full view.)

Both my grandfathers served in the U.S. military during war time. Fortunately, both returned home physically whole. Although drafted during the Vietnam war, my father received a medical discharge during basic training and thus was not eligible to serve. Both my grandfathers passed away at a young age which prevented me from personally knowing them. As I grew up Memorial Day weekend was just another excuse for a block party or family Bar-b-Que.

Once my eldest son, AB, and daughter-in-law, KM, enlisted in the U.S. Air Force during the Iraq war, Memorial Day took on a whole new meaning for me. I never knew if he or she would be deployed to a war zone. I never knew if he or she would be the target of others who hate our nation and those who serve to protect our ways of life. Today, I no longer view Memorial Day as just another holiday for a block party or family Bar-b-Que. No, I somberly appreciate the sacrifices of the thousands of men and women and their families who have paid the ultimate price while in the service of our nation.

In only a few short months, I will, again, tell another child, "Thank you and remember that I love you" as he departs for his basic training in the U.S. Navy. The Lord kept His hand of protection over AB and KM during their enlistments. I trust God's sovereign plan as JP prepares to serve our nation.

I'd love to insert a beautiful poem here, but I don't really have one. However, my friend, Mrs.M, over at Evening Shade and Morning Latte posted these poems, I found them to be touching and appropriate. I hope you enjoy them.

I have another friend, Mrs.P, who has a special knack for finding all sorts of things on the internet. She recently found, Map of the Fallen ( It is an interactive Google Earth program that allows those of us here at home to see the actual site where our Iraq and Afghanistan heroes have fallen and which city/town/neighborhood he or she was from.

Today, let's remember to say a special prayer of comfort for the families of those who have given their lives while in our service. Yes, I said OUR service. Although you nor I personally signed the executive orders to send these men and women into war zones, they were/are there because we are here at home fully enjoying our block parties & cook-outs. I pray you have a blessed Memorial Day.

Last week ...

marked the REAL beginning of harvest for those of us living S.E. Texas. As you can see from the above photo we are harvesting a nice bounty daily. Within two weeks these amounts will double or triple and we'll have baskets of fresh home grown tomatoes and cucumbers to add. What did I do with all that zucchini, squash, green beans, lettuce, basil and oregano I collected the other day?

Italian Sausage Soup served with a Garden Salad

1/2 lb. bulk Italian sausage
1 zucchini, cubed
1 yellow squash, cubed
2 c. green beans, snapped
3 med. tomatoes, diced
1 med. onion, diced
1/4 c. garlic chives OR 3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp. fresh oregano, chopped
1 tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
1tsp. beef bullion
1/4 c. elbow pasta, per person
salt & pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese, grated

Crumble sausage into skillet and brown. Transfer sausage to crock pot, add zucchini, yellow squash, green beans, tomatoes, onion, garlic chives, oregano, and basil, beef bullion and combine well. Add salt & pepper to tastes and enough water to barely cover the sausage and vegetables. Cook on low 4-6 hours or on high 2-4 hours. One half hour before serving cook pasta in salted boiling water until tender. When serving place pasta in the bottom of bowl & ladle the soup over the pasta. Garnish with grated Parmesan cheese, if desired. 8 servings

Although I didn't add any of our harvested vegetables to the next recipe, I'm thinking that the chocolate lovers out there will enjoy it. Saturday morning, OG & EJ enjoyed this special treat for breakfast ...

Brownie Muffins

1 1/2 c. all purpose unbleached flour
1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1/3 c. cocoa powder
3/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. chopped pecans (optional)
3 tsp. baking powder
1tsp. salt
1/2 c. vegetable oil
3/4 c. milk
1 egg

Heat oven to 400 degrees. In a medium mixing bowl combine dry ingredients until well mixed. In another small bowl, combine and mix well the vegetable oil, milk and egg. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and combine until just moistened. Spoon into greased muffins tins. Bake at 400 degrees for 18-20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Immediately remove from pans. Cool slightly before serving. Makes 1 dozen muffins.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Aren't They Handsome?

Yeah, I know, I know - I'm biased. But I think these young men are so handsome, I just had to share this photo with y'all. Man, I love these guys!
(left-right, BT, JP, AB)

Friday, May 15, 2009


The boys, AB, BT & JP had an OUTSTANDING time in New York City this week. They enjoyed the Statue of Liberty, a Broadway Play and everything in between. They ate everywhere from the hot dog vendors on the street to the best Italian restaurant in Little Italy. They rode on buses, subways and in taxis.
Words will never express the joy in my heart in seeing these guys not only being brothers but becoming friends as well.
During supper this evening JP commented, "New York was great but, man, there's no food like southern food. This is really good mom." Now, I ask you ... how's that for boy who knows how to please his southern mama?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Returning to the 1950's?

Marcia, over at (, posted about this (,22606,24858259-2682,00.html) article. It appears that there is a significant increase in the number of women embracing the traditional skills and hobbies of the 1950's housewives. I say bravo! It is exciting to find that others are rediscovering, or in many instances, discovering the joy, contentment AND satisfaction that caring for one's own family full-time brings to a woman's heart. Full-time homemaking, there isn't a more noble career.

Monday, May 11, 2009

May I Have This Dance?

Every since OG was a little bitty girl, her favorite recording artist has been the late great Ms. Patsy Cline. This afternoon OG decided to listen to one of her CDs. Before I knew what was happening she and EJ had turned our living room into a dance floor. After snapping a few photos, I joined in! We all had so much fun, I found myself wondering, "Why don't we dance, laugh and sing everyday?" Those few minutes on our "dance floor" made my day fabulous!

Mother's Day Blessings

I pray you all had a fabulous Mother's Day. Mine was terrific! After church, I literally relaxed all afternoon. I enjoyed the scents of a flower shop while propping my feet up. OG & EJ were well behaved and allowed me to have the entire day off.

AB, BT & JP are hanging out in New York City this week, but telephoned to say, "Happy Mother's Day". I also received, not one, but TWO flower deliveries. Mr.B's arrived Friday afternoon (note: that was only the 2nd time in our marriage he'd sent me flowers) and the older boys' flower delivery arrived this afternoon. Aren't they pretty? OG & EJ painted a little wheel barrow planter for me and it will be cherished for many years to come.

Speaking of the 3 older boys spending an entire week together ... that is one reason this Mother's Day is so special. I am thrilled that these guys are not only brothers, but are becoming best friends as well. I do not know how to express the joy I have in seeing my sons turn into young men. I so look forward to the upcoming years that they will enjoy with each other.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


I can't believe it's been twenty-five years today. It only seems like, maybe five?
Where did all those years go?
When did my baby boy become a grown man?
Would I do it all again? In a heartbeat!
"I love you for forever,
I like you for always,
As long as I'm living,
My baby you'll be."
I love you.
I'm proud of you.
I miss you.
I wish you a Happy Birthday.
p.s. "Don't do anything stupid".

What Are You Two Up To?

This morning EJ and OG were out back with their paints. EJ is hiding my Mother's Day gift.
I'm not supposed to know what it is.
I cherish homemade gifts, especially the one's made by my children.

Two Weeks and a Little Rain ...

Actually almost 12" of rain ... but you won't hear me complaining we were in desperate need of it - And, just look what it did to my garden! (to see photos of our garden two weeks ago click here: Our tomatoes are flourishing! I can already taste the fried green tomatoes I'll be enjoying this time next week.
Only a couple more days and I'll harvest this year's first bell peppers!

We planted two black beauty bell pepper plants this year. I can't wait to try these!

Purple green beans? I can't believe that by tomorrow evening I'll harvest our first purple podded bush beans. We planted only a few of these for color and variety. When cooked they turn green - just like regular pole beans. Our pole beans are flourishing, yippee!

Yellow squash! I am so excited - so far our squash and zucchini are doing well. The last couple years all varieties of our squash plants died just as they started bearing fruit. I've been praying for a good harvest this year as we LOVE, LOVE, LOVE squash.

Our first little baby zucchini. I am looking forward to sauteed zucchini and onion in garlic butter. Please join us in prayer for a bountiful harvest. Thank you.