Saturday, November 22, 2014

Blue Ribbon Baking from a Redneck Kitchen by Francine Bryson

I missed the program, but I got the cookbook!  Francine Bryson starred on the American Baking Competition and was quite a hit, according to Jeff Foxworthy.  She's also won three blue ribbons from the National American Pie Competition.  If you've ever wanted a secret recipe for a pie from a blue ribbon winner (few share!), this is it!

The first nine pages are recipes for pie crust alone.  Francine shares recipes passed down from her Great-Granny, Granny, Nana & Mama--and those that are all her own.  You'll enjoy her down-home humor, her South Carolina honesty, and her Southern charm.  She also includes a "Blue Ribbon Tip" after most recipes.  Now this cookbook isn't just about pies, you'll find mouth-watering recipes for every kind of sweet you can think of.  And you'll enjoy the beautiful photos.  I think I need to make the "Slap-Ya-Mama Fudge Cookies" and Francine's own tried-and-true "Best Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies."  The latter is a recipe she says she got from nowhere--her perfect best ever chocolate chip cookies she developed by trial and error.

I agree with Jeff Foxworthy (who wrote the forward)....this is a great cookbook and Francine is totally delightful!!  I give this book 5 out of 5 stars!
I received this book to review by Blogging for Books.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

My Christmas Tree

I put up our new Christmas tree this week.  When we moved, I tossed our old one, so I knew I'd have to get a new one this year...which was a good thing because I had to find a "slim" tree to fit the space I have in our new home.  After I'd decorated it, I laughed and told Andy I was only able to put half of our ornaments on it because it was so much smaller.  Brenda, at church last night, asked me how I was able to choose which ones to use and I told her I just started putting ornaments on from the top of the box, but then began to dig for my favorites. 

I love Christmas!  I love everything about it.  You will find me lighting the tree every morning just to sit and enjoy it with my cup of coffee.  I'll love it even more when snow is falling outside that big picture window right beside it.  I'll sit in a chair across from it so I can see both at the same time.

As I sat enjoying my tree this morning, I realized my life is just like that Christmas tree.   It's not perfect and it's full of wonderful memories.  Marcy Hallden commented on Facebook, "Honestly, I have gone soft in my old age.  Our tree is only about the kids now--no more magazine trees for us.  I quite like it that way!"  Me too, Marcy.  I tried the magazine tree one year with only one color, lots of ribbon, etc.  But it just felt flat.  My tree is not perfect.  Ornaments don't match.  No ribbon.  But each ornament on that tree evokes a memory and an emotion.  

This paper snowflake was created by my great-niece, Hannah.  It evokes a powerful emotion in me.  She made it the year her mother almost died from an anuerysm after giving birth to her baby sister. Oh my!  How we battled in prayer for Emily's life.  Our family was connected moment-by-moment for weeks.  Hannah's teacher stopped by Borger to pick up some things I was sending to the family and she dropped off a card from Hannah and three paper snowflakes.  I carefully put those snowflakes in the box each year when I take my tree down.  I treasure them because they were a promise that new life was coming to Hannah's family like fresh-fallen snow.  

The candlestick ornament above it is one of a set Andy & I made our first Christmas.  It's all we could afford--to make and paint our own ornaments.  What a memory!

This is my all-time favorite ornament...simply made out of red yarn and foil.  I believe Zach was in kindergarten when he made it.  He was so proud of it and wanted to hang it himself each Christmas.  And then when my granddaughter, Caitlin, was almost three, she saw it hanging on my tree and asked, "Gran, why is there trash hanging on your tree?"  We all died laughing!!  It became even more special after that.  In fact, Zach has helped each niece and nephew make one just like it.  

The ornament above that is a bread dough ornament we got one year when we went to Red River for our anniversary.  It has the names of our immediate family on it.  We got one just like it for the grandparents with all of their grandkids' names.  I'm immediately taken back to Red River when I look at it.

My tree has taken 39 years to evolve.  It began with those first Christmas ornaments that Andy & I made and painted after we were first married.  There are ornaments our children made.  There are ornaments given to us by friends--like the "Merry Christmas Y'all" ornament below Zach's.  As I hang my ornaments, I think of all of those things--time, places, loved ones, emotions.  Do my silver beads hang straight?  No.  But neither do the events in my life.  Is it magazine worthy?  No.  But it brings delight to me.  

My life is very much like this Christmas tree.  I think God looks on in delight in the same way at our lives.  Each event in our lives may appear to be a tattered or ordinary ornament--but yet the whole completed picture of the tree of our life becomes a sparkling and beautiful reflection of His grace.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Christmas Gift

I hope you've already read Andy's book, Kidnapped in Budapest.  And I hope you'll consider giving it to others for Christmas.  You won't find a better price than this!  Just go to Andy's website to order, he'll sign a book and ship it out ASAP!  Only $7.00!

I'm so proud of Andy for writing this book.  It's his story of being kidnapped while on his way home from a mission trip.  It will make a great gift for yourself, family, friends, church members, and business acquaintances.  You'll even get to read excerpts from my journal of what was going on at home while he was being held for ransom.

God has used this book already and I believe He wants to use it even more.  I hope you'll consider being a part of putting it in the hands of those who need encouragement to know God is a big God and wants to do big things in our lives.  He wants us desperate to know Him more.


Monday, November 17, 2014

Silent Night. Holy Night.

Silent Night. Holy Night. 

It's 2:00 AM in Groom, Tx and except for the grain elevator I hear humming in the distance, these words ring true. 

I have to remind myself of these words--or ones like them--tonight. 2014 has been my "baptism by fire" year. Hard. A very hard year. I'm not a cryer, but tears overwhelm me at inopportune moments these days. 

Silent Night. Holy Night. Any night can be when God is at the center of it. I'm determined to have more of them. I hope for a year of mercy in 2015. But even if it's not, I'm choosing to put Christ at the center, being still, and focusing on Him. He brings order out of my chaos. He fills my tired heart with peace. He renews my mind and completes me. 

Silent Night. Holy Night. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Peter's Denial

The cock crowed.  Peter had just denied Jesus three times.  Gathered around the fire that cold night while Jesus was being interrogated, three different people asked Peter if he had been with Jesus.  "No!"....three times.

And then that morning, after Jesus had been resurrected, and he met the disciples at the sea where they'd been fishing.  And Jesus asked Peter three times, "Do you love me?" painful.  Peter was confronted with his failure of denying Him.  But in that confrontation, Jesus was wrapping his arms around Peter, loving him, and restoring him.

Have you ever failed so completely that you were ashamed?  Ashamed to come to Jesus?  Ashamed to talk with him about that failure?  He will do the same with you...wrap his arms around you, love you and completely restore you.

Look at Peter after that restoration.  He had been filled with the Holy Spirit and preached.  Three thousand people were saved.  The next moment we see him, he reaches out and heals a lame man.  The people who saw it happen are amazed and Peter begins preaching again.  About 2000 are saved. He's arrested and brought before the high priest.  (And this is where it gets good!)  It says Peter opened his mouth to speak because he was filled with and controlled by the Holy Spirit--and speaks with authority about their denial of Jesus.

I'd say Peter could probably speak with good authority about denying Jesus.  Instead of allowing his failure of denying Jesus to paralyze him, he healed a paralyzed man and confronted others about their own denial of Jesus.

And then it says this...."those in authority saw Peter's boldness and unfettered eloquence and knew he was an unlearned man with no educational advantages and they marveled; and they recognized that he had been with Jesus."

Before the cock crowed, Peter hadn't wanted anyone to know he'd been with Jesus.  But after experiencing the power and freedom of complete forgiveness and restoration and being filled with the Spirit of God, it was obvious...he'd been with Jesus. It showed.  And Peter was willing to touch those same places in other people's lives so they could experience the same thing...complete forgiveness and restoration.

That's what being with Jesus does.  And that's how the power of the Holy Spirit changes you.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

In Her Kitchen by Gabriele Galimberti

When I saw this cookbook and read the book description, I knew I wanted to review it!  Gabriele grew up in Arezzo, Italy and never ventured very far from home.  But after going to photography school, he appealed to an Italian magazine to let him travel to 50 different countries around the world and use his stories and photography in their magazine.  They took him up on it!  And then he only had two weeks to get ready to leave on his adventure.

He used those two weeks to get ready and to tell his close-knit family goodbye.  A week before he left, he was sitting at his grandmother's kitchen eating her comforting ravioli which she often prepared for her grandson.  He told her what he was about to do.  He would be traveling to 50 different countries around the world and would be gone for two years.  He began trying to reassure her that he wouldn't be in danger and that he had researched homes where he would stay.  Her only question was, "But what will you eat?"  He laughed and told her that other grandmothers would feed him their famous dishes and he would write their stories and get their recipes and bring them home to her.  That's how this cookbook came into being.

You'll love seeing the photos of grandmothers around the world, their kitchens, the ingredients they use in their dishes and their signature dishes.  I don't know that I'll ever cook an iguana or caterpillars, but some of these dishes sound amazing!  Since I have a granddaughter from Ethiopia, I was interested in seeing the injera bread and curry sauce--with the recipe!  The first featured recipe in the book is his own grandmother's ravioli.  An amazing book.

I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.
I received this book to review from Blogging for Books.

Darby Street to Crawford Street

I learned about life changes when I was 12-years-old.  That was when we moved from Darby Street to Crawford Street.  This is the house I grew up in on Darby Street.  It was brand new when we moved into it.  It boasted 3 small bedrooms and about 1000 square feet.  You can see the train tracks behind it and there is a large field to the west of it.  I had an idyllic childhood on Darby Street.  Our block was full of boys and I was the only girl for many years.  I had all of those boys trained to obey me and I would play army with them and then make them play house with me.  At least it worked that way for awhile.  My best friend, Peggy, moved in up the street when I was in second grade.  She was a redhead, too.  We played for hours every day.  She had a two-seated bicycle and we rode the wheels off of that thing!  People would ask us if we were sisters...we almost thought we were.  In fact, Peggy was my best friend until I was married...we even roomed together in college.  The parents on Darby Street all decided not to put fences around their yards so the whole neighborhood of kids could play from one yard to the next.  My brothers had neighborhood football games the length of the block in our back yards.  In the evening, our parents would sit in lawn chairs in the front yard while we kids would play hide-and-seek all over the neighborhood or catch lightening bugs and put them in coke bottles or catch tadpoles out of the drainage ditch.  Our neighbors all enjoyed one another.  It was perfect.

While we lived on Darby Street, our next-door neighbor's dog had puppies.  My brother and I begged our parents for one of the puppies.  They relented and we picked out a male puppy and named him Lucky.  I think it was because we felt pretty lucky to get a dog.  He was a Dachshund/German Shepherd mix and looked a lot like this as a puppy:

He actually became my older brother's dog.  Lucky would follow him when he'd throw his paper route and Bob actually slept in the garage with him after he'd been hit by a car and had broken his leg.  For some reason, my dad decided to raise rabbits one year.  We had lots of baby rabbits.  Occasionally, we'd let the rabbits out of the cage and would be cautioned to watch them--knowing they'd hop in every different direction.  But the funniest thing happened:  Lucky began herding the baby rabbits.  He would gather them into a tight circle and nose them back into position if they tried to get out of their space.  He was a very smart dog.  And loyal.

Some of our good friends, the Lewis', were moving.  And apparently, they offered to sell their house to mom and dad.  It would mean moving 4 kids from a tiny three-bedroom house to a large 5-bedroom house with about twice the amount of space.  So my parents bought the house on Crawford Street.  I was in sixth grade and almost 12-years-old.  The move was so much fun!  And I immediately found new friends on our new street--Debbie and David.  My aunt and her kids were living with us at the time, so they made the move with us.  It was an adjustment moving to a new school and adjusting to new people and a new class.  It was hard.  After the new (and fun) wore off, I became very homesick for my old school, Peggy, and my old home.  I remember coming home from my new school one day and began crying my heart out.  I told my mom I wanted to go home!  My mom (also crying) told me I was home.  My aunt began crying and telling me she didn't even have a home!  We were a mess.  It was also about that time that our old neighbors began calling us each day to tell us that Lucky had walked 2.5 miles across town to come back to Darby Street.  We'd go and get him and put him in the new back yard.  We began watching him and he'd climb up on a pile of logs, jump the fence and head "home." for weeks, Lucky walked from Crawford Street to Darby Street.  And every day, we'd get a call from one of our old neighbors that Lucky was back on Darby Street.  Lucky & I commiserated with one another.  

When I was 12-years-old, Lucky & I learned that change was hard.  

Friday, November 7, 2014

A Kitchen in France by Mimi Thorisson

Earthy.  That would be my one-word description of this cookbook.  It's exactly what you'd expect from a farmhouse in France.  The stories are sweet, the photography is incredible, and the recipes are enticing.

Mimi grew up in Hong Kong with a Chinese father and a French mother.  She spent her holidays in France with her grandmother and aunt who were fabulous cooks.  Her father also took her to the many food stalls in Hong Kong where they experimented by eating different foods.  From these, her love of food and cooking grew.  But it wasn't until she was married with a growing family that she dove headfirst into cooking.  She and her husband moved from Paris to a farmhouse in Medoc--a remote part of France.  There she shops for, gardens, and cooks with organic and beautiful vegetables.

I love this cookbook because it is full of French English.  She's an author/chef who has  lived in France for many years and understands French cooking because of her own history with her French grandmother and yet can relate to American cooks and kitchens.

This is a fabulous, beautiful cookbook.  Mimi features her own family, her own home, and herself in the photography.  The cookbook is even divided into different foods for different seasons. You'll find yourself lost in the pages.

I'd give this book 5 out of 5 stars.
I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.