Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Mommy, Baby Sister and I had a quick lunch today with Jessica before she headed back to the big city. Baby Sister was all eyes, taking in the action at this very busy Chick-fil-A. An elderly couple sat down beside us and enjoyed watching her. When they got up to leave, the lady said to her husband, "Look at those big cheeks!" She bent down to close to Baby Sister, cooed at her, and then said, "You have the fluffiest cheeks! In fact, you're just fluffy all over!!!" I'm pretty sure that means she takes after her grandmother.

A new supper time tonight activity was "food painting." We've always laughed that when my girls were little, their friends came to our house to do things like finger painting because their moms said it was too messy. That suited me because all the fun happened at my house! 

I am always amazed when someone tells me, "That recipe you posted last week was really good." Or, "I'm enjoying watching the baby grow up." I've started to tell someone about something that happened and they'll say, "Oh, I already know that-- I read it on the blog." People really read this! I'm even more surprised at how many other moms and grandmothers I've "met" from across the country.

This is just a tiny little blog, which is as it should be, so it was a bit of a thrill when I scrolled down this afternoon and just happened to catch the number of page views as the counter read 3,000. 

Thanks, ya'll.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Colorful Monday #5

Oops. With the holiday, it's felt like Sunday all day and I nearly forgot. This is our last Colorful Monday. The plan was to do this for one month. It has been great fun and I'm pretty sure that this entire household is more conscious of color when they fill their plate now. Most all of the meals would qualify as "colorful" now.

I'm positive Big Sister understands. When picking up toys and crayons one night last week after Big Sister had gone to bed, Mommy found this drawing left on the sofa. Lesson learned!

Days Away

A weekend at the lake was welcome break in my regular routine. 

It was so good to spend some extra time with Granddaddy and Jessica.

One of the best parts was that Jessica was in charge of the kitchen this time.

She found this recipe on Pioneer Woman and then, as usual, she made her version of it.
It was one of the easiest recipes ever. A perfect choice for supper at the lake.

Spicy Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork

1 large onion, cut into wedges
2-1/2 lb. Boston butt pork roast
salt & pepper
1 (7-oz.) can Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce
1 (12-oz. can) Dr. Pepper
1 tablespoon brown sugar

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Place onion in the bottom on a large casserole dish with a lid. (Choose a dish the size and shape that will hold the roast.) Salt and pepper the roast and place it on top of onions. Pour Chipotle peppers with sauce over the pork roast. Pour Dr. Pepper over the roast. Stir in the brown sugar.

Bake for 4 to 4-1/2 hours, turning the roast two or three times during the cooking. Bake until meat falls apart. If it is not falling apart, bake it another 30 minutes to 1 hour. When the roast is done, remove it from cooking liquid to a cookie sheet lined with heavy duty foil. Using two forks, shred the meat, removing the fat as you go.

Remove peppers and onion from cooking liquid. Spoon off as much fat as you can from cooking liquid and return the meat to the liquid. (She poured the cooking liquid into a small bowl, set into a large bowl filled with ice cubes and water and set it in the refrigerator until the fat on top had hardened and could be removed easily.)

This has some "heat" to it. We thought it was just right, but if you don't like spicy foods--remember this IS made with a can of peppers! Jessica made tacos with the barbecue, adding homemade guacamole, cheese and cole slaw to them. Ummmmm......  After our supper, there was enough left for another couple of sandwiches. Wish she were around to cook for us more often.

And then while Jessica and her daddy paddled off the next afternoon, I took a nap. 
It was a really good trip.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Summer Supper

Jessica is home for the holiday weekend. After all the cleaning she helped do at the lake house, she might think twice about coming back! She also volunteered (or did I ask her?) to make dinner when we got back home. I was ready to collapse on the porch and rest. So I was delighted that she was in the kitchen instead of me.

Her recipe was a winner. It was on the table in minutes. If you need an easy summer supper, give this a try.  (You can find more of her recipes on her blog.)

Chopped Steak Salad

3/4 pound flank steak
salt & pepper
1 or 2 heads romaine, chopped
2 cups chopped red cabbage
1 (15-oz) can cannellini beans (or other white beans), drained & rinsed
1/2 cup chopped roasted red peppers
1/4 cup chopped parsley
Italian dressing

Season flank steak with salt and pepper. Grill 3 to 5 minutes on each side. (Can use a stovetop grill pan or the broiler also.) Let rest a few minutes, then cut thin, diagonal slices across the grain and cut into bite-size pieces.

In a large bowl, combine steak with lettuce, cabbage, beans, peppers and parsley. Toss with your favorite Italian dressing. (We forgot to get the red cabbage for this and added Feta cheese instead. Make this salad suit what you have on hand.)

Baby Sister was glad that Aunt Jessica stopped by her house, too. Aunt Jessica brings her computer with all its current music and they dance. Aunt Jessica's playlist is very different than mine. Baby Sister likes it groovy. 

Friday, May 27, 2011


<<sigh...>> What is it this time? Purple stuff. What were you thinking????

Okay....so that didn't taste too bad. I'm thinking it would also make good finger paint!

Mommy has been good to make homemade foods for Baby Sister. I must admit that these fruit and vegetable purees taste pretty yummy. Ever tasted the jarred kind? Unless you live under a rock, children will get to the "wrapped in plastic/out of a box" kind of food soon enough. It might not be at your house, but they will encounter it somewhere along the way. So it's nice to do this while you have complete control of what they consume.

I cooked fresh corn one night when Big Sister was younger. I asked her how she liked it. She told me as only a young child can -- "Well, I like SCHOOL corn better."  (School corn = canned corn with lots of butter and salt.)  The lunch ladies loved her.

Today's new food was blueberries. And after reading a little on Weelicious, I mixed some of it with mashed banana. That was some seriously good breakfast!

Hmmm....wonder how it would be spread on my toast?

Fresh Air

Baby Sister loves going outside, even when it's just sitting on the front steps or walking in the yard. With her fair skin, we always look for shade. Even when she was a newborn, walking outside seemed to soothe her if she was fussy. And it still does most of the time. Thank goodness.

I realized not long ago that except for a couple of photos of me and a brand new Baby Sister, there are no others of the two of us together. I'm always the one with the camera--even for this photo. So, look carefully at the blue-jeaned knee and at the fingers wrapped around the baby. That's me.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Growing Up

I am very proud of Big Sister. I was bowled over by her act of generosity. She did something nice for someone she doesn't know. Something she didn't have to do. Something she chose to do all on her own. Today she cut her long beautiful hair to donate to Locks of Love. That's a pretty cool thing for a 10-year-old to do. Did I say I'm proud? The only bad thing is her sassy new haircut makes her look too grown up!

While the girls--big and little--were busy showing Aunt Jessica the new haircut via iChat, I fixed a quick dinner. Sometimes you don't need a recipe for supper. You just need an idea. I've told my girls many times, "The cooking is the easy part. Thinking of WHAT to cook is usually harder."

Here's a favorite in this house. Just saute sliced onions and sliced peppers and when they are about half done, add sliced turkey kielbasa into the pan. Let everything brown nicely. We like it served with boiled red potatoes. Or baked potatoes. Would have popped some rolls in to bake but Big Sister beat me to the oven. She mixed up a batch of Chocolate Muffins. (This recipe with chocolate cake mix, minus the topping.)

Maybe it's not the haircut making her look grown up. She is growing up. As long as she bakes for me, I think I can stand it.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Mommy's internet connection was down. My cell phone won't ring (but thankfully works otherwise.) The irrigation system was on the fritz. The doorbell wasn't working either. Which meant I missed the irrigation repairman. Had a not-so-happy baby most of the day.

And I couldn't keep from watching tornado coverage on television. Decided my problems weren't really problems after all. It was time to say a prayer and turn the TV off.

I needed to get myself busy so I cooked supper for Granddaddy. Made this pasta salad while Baby Sister was napping this afternoon. I left enough for Mommy to pack for her lunch tomorrow and brought the rest home. Granddaddy was happy to see me walk in the door tonight with dinner ready to serve.

I made this salad so many times a few years ago and then, like we do with good recipes, set it aside and forgot about it. Not sure why because this is really easy and delicious. I love recipes that can be made ahead of time. It's time to bring it back.

Shrimp & Pasta Salad

1/4 cup mayonnaise
oregano, to taste
16-oz box spaghetti, cooked & drained (break spaghetti in half before cooking)
6-8 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
6 green onions, sliced
10-12 cherry tomatoes, sliced or large dice
16-oz. shrimp, cooked & peeled
1 cup light Italian salad dressing

Combine the mayonnaise and oregano in a large bowl and mix well. Add the hot spaghetti and toss to coat.
Add the feta cheese, onions, tomatoes and shrimp and mix well. Add the salad dressing and mix well.
Chill, covered, for 6 hours. Serve cold.

(It might be prettier with regular spaghetti but I used whole wheat to make it a little healthier. Also noticed my box of spaghetti is no longer 16 ounces. Oh well.)

I was very thankful tonight to sit down to dinner in my own house with my husband. Blessings to all those folks struggling in the Midwest.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Colorful Monday #4

I stopped by the store on my way to Baby Sister's house this morning. It's kind of fun to grocery shop when you're mainly looking for color. It's almost like choosing paint colors for your palette.

I'm not always feeling so artistic by suppertime, though. By then I just want quick and easy. You can cut the vegetables up earlier in the day so at supper time there is minimal work.

Now that I had supper under control, it was time for Baby Sister's breakfast. But with a twist. It was time to give the sippy cup a try. Maybe. She had to think about this whole thing first.

And we spent some time just playing with the empty cup. We made up games that did get a few giggles so that the new cup wasn't scary.

And then the big test--I poured a little formula in it. And she did a great job drinking from a cup. I just couldn't get a photo while I was being the sippy cup cheerleader!

So here is tonight's supper. When time is short, choose a simple menu--grilled chicken (stove top grill pan), corn-on-the-cob and Oven Roasted Vegetables. When I looked through my cookbook this morning to find something "colorful", the Oven Roasted Vegetables page was the dirtiest page in the book--which means it's the one I've used the most. I'm going to give you the recipe from the book, but you can really use any combination of vegetables you like. Or what you have on hand.

Oven Roasted Vegetables

1 medium zucchini, sliced
1 medium yellow squash, sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced into strips
1 yellow or green bell pepper, cut into strips
1/2 lb. fresh asparagus, cut into bite-size pieces
1 red onion, cut into wedges
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Toss vegetables with oil, salt and pepper in a bowl. Spread in a single layer in a large cookie sheet with sides. Roast for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are lightly browned and tender.

NOTE:  Do not line the cookie sheet with non-stick foil. The vegetables will not brown. (Guess how we know this.)

 Oh....Baby Sister didn't want to be left out of the color game we've been playing. Another new thing for her high chair tray. She is not a fan of the puffs though. Could be two new things at breakfast was one thing too many.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Count Down

 I have realized that my days as full-time grandmother are winding down. School is out in less than two weeks and school teacher Mommy will be at home to take care of Baby Sister. The past nine months have been quite an adventure as I relived all of the "new baby" things I did years ago. I've had the front row seat to watch Baby Sister grow and to watch her learn. I know what every whimper means. I know how she likes her bottle. I know which blanket is her favorite.

What will I miss the most? ...Getting her up every morning. Baby Sister wakes up every morning with the biggest smile, just like in these photos. She wakes up and looks at me like she is thrilled that I am there. How could I not miss that?

Just after I snapped the two photos above, the screen on my camera flashed to white and read "battery exhausted." If there were a screen on my forehead, it might also have said "battery exhausted" a time or two in the last few weeks. But I've found a burst of energy this week. It will be hard to not see this smiling face every morning. So I'm totally enjoying these last days.

I was the same age when Baby Sister was born that my own grandmother was when I was born. She was really, really old I thought. I've tried to dig back and think what were the earliest memories I have of her. No memories go back to my baby days. So it's doubtful that Baby Sister will remember all of the time that we have spent together this year.

But I will remember. I have been blessed to have this time with her. I have loved every minute of it. But now it is Mommy's turn to see these morning smiles. She's going to love it!

Oh, and if you are keeping up....Baby Sister was 9 months old last week and had her well check-up this week. She now weighs 16 lb. 6 oz.  Big girl!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Colorful Mondays #3

I've been an advocate of filling your plate with colorful foods for a long time, way before we started the Colorful Mondays thing. And it's been fun to hear Big Sister chastise her mom a little bit if the dinner plates are lacking something green. How many times do you hear a 10-year-old ask for more green foods? She and I had fun looking at these food color charts to find foods she has not tried yet.

Big Sister and I went to the grocery store last night to buy ingredients for tonight's dinner. And while we were there, we saw these colorful foods in the freezer. We were ahead of the marketing geniuses!

Tonight's pasta (we don't use the word "casserole" around here) is quick and easy. And it's so, so good. Plus, I can mix earlier in the day and have it ready to slide into the oven when everyone gets home. It started with a recipe on the Betty Crocker website. We made it several times and kept changing it to match what was in our kitchen. (I never did find smoked mozzarella in my store) until we ended up with this recipe. And we stopped when we got to this version. Feel free to change it again to suit you!

Baked Penne with Tomatoes, Mozzarella & Spinach

3 cups uncooked penne pasta (9-oz.)
1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes with oregano, garlic & basil, undrained
1 cup refrigerated Alfredo sauce (I use a 10-oz. container of Buitoni)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
fresh baby spinach (about half of a 5-oz. bag)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 2-1/2 qt. casserole with PAM. (This is one size smaller than a 9x13.) Cook and drain pasta as directed on package. In a 2-qt. saucepan*, heat tomatoes to boiling. Reduce heat to medium; cook uncovered about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add Alfredo sauce to tomatoes. Add cheese and stir until melted. Mix tomato sauce and pasta. Add in a big handful of fresh spinach and stir. Pour into casserole dish.

Bake, uncovered, about 30 minutes, or until hot in the center.

*I do like to use a non-stick saucepan for this. The melted cheese is pretty sticky.

One day I'd like to actually try the original recipe. Jessica has made it several times and says it delicious.

Baby Sister likes bright colors in her dish, too.

Apples, carrots & sweet potatoes--all homemade.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

It's Simple

Sometimes the best thing--the most important thing-- a grandmother can do is to spend an evening with granddaddy. Last night we had a simple dinner on the porch. He grilled steaks. I made a salad. The gardenias were blooming. The temperature was pleasant. Prairie Home Companion was turned low on the radio. As we finished dinner, it started to rain. Such a soothing sound. 

Sometimes with a baby (a beautiful baby whom we adore) to care for, I get tired. And when I get tired, I get cranky. So for this evening, we rested. And chatted. And dined simply. And enjoyed each others company. 

The other part of our very simple dinner was sauteed mushrooms. I'll share the recipe with you exactly as it as given to me. For years a friend and I used to park beside each other each afternoon waiting for the school bell to ring and our daughters to come running to our cars. We talked about everything under the sun, including the daily "what's for dinner" conversation. She often would mention mushrooms.

When I asked for her recipe, she replied, "Oh, you don't need one." And then explained what she did. And added that her 6th grade daughter would make this by herself for an after school snack. So I figured if a sixth grader could do this, I could, too. Now, this is not the kind of recipe that Mommy likes. She'd rather have measurements. But it will be okay. Trust me.

Sauteed Mushrooms
Worcestershire sauce
fresh lemon juice
garlic powder
sliced mushrooms

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter and mix in Worcestershire sauce and a good squeeze of lemon juice. As butter melts, mix all together and add sliced white mushrooms. (Or baby portabellos, etc.) Sprinkle with garlic powder. Cook over medium to medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are done, about 12-15 minutes. (I think.)

If it looks like you don't have quite enough of the butter mixture, add a little more. As the mushrooms cook, they will release a lot of juice. Stir to coat mushroom with the sauce. Then most of the liquid will cook out and the mushrooms will begin to brown. The plump mushroom slices will cook down to a smaller, thinner slice.

If you really need a starting place, I did try to pay attention last night---the butter and Worcestershire sauce amounts are roughly equal. And probably about the same about of lemon juice. But I really really never measure and it's always good.

Friday, May 13, 2011


Like a newly crowned queen, Baby Sister ascended her new throne with great pomp and circumstance. Cameras flashing all around. Finally she could sit up at supper like everyone else. The big box with the words "some assembly required" had been sitting in the garage for weeks---no...make that months--waiting for someone to take time to put it together.

The assembly was everything Granddaddy might have imagined. It pushed him to the edge of his patience but after lots of trial and error when the instructions failed, it was ready for a test drive. Perfect.

Thank you, Granddaddy!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Out And About

I don't take Baby Sister out too much. Partly because it's been a pain to lug her and that heavy car seat in and out of the car and stores. She's getting heavier and the seat is pretty heavy anyway. So yesterday we went on an adventure (aka grocery store) and left the seat in the car. Why haven't I done this before??? Baby Sister wondered the same thing. "You think I'm a baby! Well, not so much anymore." She loved seeing everything, looking first this way...

...and then that way. Her little head swiveled back and forth as she marveled at all the colors. And of course fellow shoppers stopped to chat with Baby Sister along the way. She smiled and babbled back at them, just like a good sociable Southern lady should.

Because you can buy nearly anything at a "grocery" store now, we were able to find the perfect birthday card to send to Baby Sister's great-great-aunt who is 92 today.

And she watched carefully at the end of our trip as we paid at the check out counter. Might as well learn how things work right from the start. 

Monday, May 9, 2011

Colorful Monday #2

The bad thing about making proclamations and promises is that you are honor bound to do what you proclaimed to the world. And more importantly, to your ten-year-old granddaughter. So I will to do this today even if Colorful Monday comes the day after a Mother's Day celebration which came the day after a big family wedding and we are all tired. But I don't think I promised the entire dinner plate would be colorful. It's just that we are trying to add new foods and new combinations of foods to our meals. Bright colors usually means fresh. And that doesn't necessarily mean hard to prepare.

Thankfully, I saw a parfait recipe last week on MyRecipes.com and thought I'd save it for a busy day. I really didn't think I would need it the second week of the month. Fresh blueberries and oranges are beautiful together. Blue and orange are opposite colors on the color wheel. Wonder if an artist thought up this simple dessert? Here's my version of the one I found:

Blueberry-Orange Parfaits

1-1/2 tablespoons of sugar (or to taste)
1/2 teaspsoon grated orange rind
2 (7-oz.) containers reduced-fat plain Greek-style yogurt
2 cups fresh blueberries
2 cups fresh orange sections (about 2 large oranges)
1/4 cup toasted wheat germ

Mix sugar and orange rind with yogurt. Layer 1/4 cup berries, 2-1/2 tablespoons yogurt, and 1/4 cup orange sections in a parfait glass. Repeat layers. Sprinkle a tablespoon of wheat germ over each glass and serve immediately.

Confession time... I loved the parfait. It was a very fresh and light dessert. The Greek yogurt was rich and creamy and tasted much more sinful than it was. I would make it again in a heart beat. Maybe even with granola for breakfast. But Big Sister told me blueberries and oranges weren't on her list of favorites. So she made her own dessert.

Her color choice? Black and white...

I really need to explain this Colorful Monday thing to her one more time.

Sweet Ending

I am home all day every day with Baby Sister and the camera is always sitting out, ready to capture memorable moments. But there are equally special moments with 10-year-old Big Sister. They are just in smaller bits...a few minutes before they leave for school, some quiet time after dinner. Since I've been staying here, she and I have cooked together, knitted together and made music together. We've been out to dinner a few times at her favorite place--Whole Foods. Just the two of us.

So I was thrilled to find this card hanging in the refrigerator last night when I got back. It was taped to a shelf. She said she wanted to put it where she knew I would find it. Mommy said Big Sister looked and looked to find just the right card. (Thanks to Mommy for being patient.) And Big Sister said, "When I saw this one, I knew it was the one!) There was a sweet note inside, too, but that will remain between just me and Big Sister. 

What a perfect way to end an already wonderful Mother's Day.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

A Full Weekend

When are the two times you usually see extended family members? Funerals and weddings. Thankfully this weekend's gathering of cousins from far and wide was for a joyous occasion--a beautiful wedding.

Baby Sister thought she knew her family but on Saturday she met more relatives than she knew existed. Cousins, cousins and more cousins. Some who hadn't seen each other in years. "Oh! You were just a child when I saw you last!" "And, you live where now?" "This is your daughter?" To be perfectly honest, some of the adults secretly were wishing for name tags.

Everyone was excited to meet the newest family member. (Oh, wait....she's the certainly youngest but I guess the groom is technically the newest.) Baby Sister used her good party manners and was quiet during the ceremony and then smiled at people who later came to ooh and ahh over her. Baby Sister even enjoyed her first line dance.

By morning we had changed gears and changed clothes, ready to spend another day together--Mother's Day. It was Mommy's first Mother's Day. How special! And I was delighted to have everyone treat me to lunch after church. Time together was the best possible gift I could have. Blessings all around.

It was all fun. We enjoyed every minute of it. But I think tomorrow Baby Sister is going to be very tired. I think her Mimi might be, too.