Saturday, July 6, 2013

Guilty Pleasure

I am a girl who likes a s'more.
I just don't always like to have to build a fire to have one.
And I try not to keep chocolate bars around the house.  
We all like them too much.  
Way too much. 

But every once in a while I just gotta have a s'more. 

My daughter recently introduced me to Nutella.  
Where has this stuff been all my life?  
It is rich and chocolatey and creamy. 
Ah, the stuff of my sweet tooth dreams! 

Fortunately because is it so rich and chocolatey and creamy 
I can eat a small amount and be satisfied.  
I smear a couple of graham squares with the Nutella...

and skewer a couple of marshmallows.

Fire up the indoor campfire (i.e. gas range) and get busy!

This is where the true skill begins.
This is where we separate the marshmallow connoisseurs from the rushed amateurs.

You just can't rush a good toasted marshmallow.  
If you try to do too fast you wind up with a black, crusty marshmallow that is cold on the inside.
It takes patience and attention to achieve the perfectly toasted marshmallow. 
Creamy on the inside and perfectly toasted and crunchy on the outside.  
This, my friends, is perfection.  

Time to lay those beauties on the crackers and slide the skewer out. 

The perfect dessert without all of the campfire bother.  

Serious yum.  

My Evolving Son

Feeling rather proud and happy at the moment.  

Ben came home from camp last night for the weekend.  
I was surprised when I saw him walking in - he took my breath away!  
I know I am his momma, but dang, that young man is handsome!  
He was taller than I remembered (could he really have grown noticeably in 2 weeks?) 
and very tan from lifeguarding and being outdoors all day.  
He came in, hugged and kissed me and was in a wonderful mood even though 
he was exhausted from two weeks straight of working at Maranatha.  

This morning he ate like a man on death row, started his laundry (without being reminded) 
and started talking about his plans to find a computer for school this fall.  
He discussed the pros and cons of different computers with his father 
and then they went shopping.  
After an unsuccessful shopping trip he found the computer he wanted online 
and we ordered it with his money.  

I made sushi for dinner and he ate spicy tuna/avocado rolls and salmon/avocado rolls 
and he loved them.  
He has never been an adventurous eater so this was a big deal.  
His ideal meal consists of steak, baked potato, salad drenched in ranch dressing, 
and another steak.  
Raw tuna and salmon?  Big deal.  
He even ate with chopsticks.

He hasn't grumbled or said a cross word to his sister.  

He made plans to play games with his friends tonight but was willing to cancel his plans 
and stay home if this was what I wanted.  

Could it be that he is growing up? 

I believe I am getting a glimpse of this man-in-training and I like what I see!

*These pics were taken by Erin Cobb last fall.  They are a reminder that I need to point my camera at my boy and get some current pics.  I think he is probably a couple of inches taller and certainly several shades darker than these pics from October!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Busy Bee

 While I was weeding and watering flowers the other day
I heard this busy bee before I ever saw it.
I have a variety of flowers blooming right now so he was very happy to hang around. 

These alliums must be extra tasty because he made sure to visit 
each flower on the 10 or so alliums I have in my flower beds.

I am happy that he chose my garden to visit.  
Maybe he will bring his buddies back with him next time. 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Best Fish Fry

Every year my little (well, younger) brother and his wife host a fish fry.  

Will loves to fish and doesn't mind cleaning the resulting fish and popping 
them in the freezer afterwards.  
The resulting freezer full of fish certainly qualifies as a mess of fish.

He has the big electric fry great granddaddy for the hushpuppies 
and a propane cooker with a big cast iron dutch oven for the fish.

Dad came over early to help Will get started with the prep.

Even though they never slowed down it took a couple of hours 
of dropping fish filets...

and spooning Will's secret hushpuppy batter into hot oil to get it all cooked.

This was the first batch of the fish into the dredge. 
There was at least one more bowl of fish filets this big. 

All of this cooking smelled really, really good.  
Tasted even better.  

My cutie-patootie nephew Chase brought his new puppy.  
Needless to say he didn't have to do too much with this little lady...

 because where there is a puppy there will be Allison

and lots of other folks who were attracted this sweet little ball of fur.

Will always cooks the hushpuppies so he can tweak the batter if needed.
And sneak a few along the way.

Those golden nuggets of crispy, oniony, corny hushpuppies are amazing.  
I really think I like them better than the fish, but the fish is pretty darn amazing too.

Thanks Wilma for a wonderful dinner.  
(He loves it when I call him Wilma.)

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Wake Up Little Sushi

Bruce and I love sushi.  

For the longest time we would go to our favorite place for sushi on Sunday nights 
after dropping the kids off at church for their Sunday night youth program.  

Since Ben started driving we haven't gone quite as often because we haven't 
had to leave the house on Sunday nights.  
And let's face it - sushi is expensive! 

I have read about how to make sushi, downloaded recipes, watched youtube videos 
for years but I had never tried my hand at making my own at home.  

All that changed today. 

Bruce and I shopped for the necessary items - bamboo mat, wasabi, pickled ginger, nori sheets, srirachi sauce...

green onions, cucumber, avocado

shrimp (I had thoughts of making crunchy shrimp rolls with tempura shrimp.)
I mean look at these gorgeous royal red shrimp!

Bruce got a lesson in how to devein shrimp.

I diced some tuna and made my spicy tuna filling.

Gorgeous tuna, salmon, and spicy tuna filling - yum!  

The shrimp all skewered up and ready to go in the tempura batter.

Mise en place all ready to go.

Sushi rice was easy to make and really tasty.  
I know that a legitimate sushi chef would have found fault with it but I thought it was pretty good.
How someone can apprentice for years to get sushi rice correct is beyond me.  
It's rice, people.
I appreciate the art of sushi but my goal was to make a tasty dinner for Bruce, me and two friends.

I made a nine rolls using the tuna, salmon, and spicy tuna mixture.
I didn't make the crunchy shrimp rolls this time because suddenly I looked at the platter and realized we had enough for dinner without them.  We ate the shrimp tempura all by itself.  

Sushi attempt #1 - a tasty success!

I will be making sushi again very soon.  
It was that good.

I'm wishing there were some leftovers in the frig...

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Pentecost Sunday - Brought To You By The Color Red

Today we had a pretty special service at church.

Matt and Sarah Rideout and their two little girls visited our church 
and got a moment to give a quick plug for the work they are doing in Haiti.  

Not only did most everyone come dressed in red but the red super hero shirts 
that dozens of folks chose to wear were Team John Randall shirts.  
John Randall is a darling little boy in our church battling pediatric melanoma.  
These shirts have become a symbol of solidarity and support from 
our church and community for this sweet family.  

We recognized the graduating seniors (including my son, Ben)

The seniors included not only our regular church members but also the seniors 
from the Presbyterian Home for Children who spent 
the weekend with our youth at Maranatha.  

Even our clergy got in on the act. 
(I was joking with Mark about the fact that he was wearing a suit jacket with his t-shirt.  
I told him I would give him $5 is he would wear his sleeves pushed up Miami Vice-style.  
He had some flimsy excuse about them not staying up.  
Let's just say that the $5 bill is safely tucked in my purse.  

One of the highlights of the service was the children's sermon.  
 30+ preschoolers and party noise-makers 
makes for a loud children's sermon.  

It was rather chaotic.
And hilarious.

Three of my favorite seniors.  
Especially that one on the left.
(Although the other two are pretty special folks in my book!)

I had honestly forgotten that this was the Sunday that we had 
signed up to sponsor the flower arrangement.  

I came in and sat down and my friend told me how pretty she thought our flowers were.
 They were amazing.
A beautiful, bright rememberance of our daughter Hannah 
on what would have been her 18th birthday
a lovely floral representation of Pentacostal flames.  

We have grown to love this sweet family.  
I know that we will be seeing them as often as possible in Haiti.

I hope that we see them as often as possible in Huntsville too.  

It has been a busy and joyful weekend.  
My heart is full.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Birthdays and Cemetery Visits - It Must Be May 16

Today is the 18th birthday of my twins.  

Eighteen years ago I gave birth to my son Benjamin and my first daughter Hannah.  
Ben was a big healthy boy.
Hannah was a little tiny baby.

She had a rare syndrome that took 3 years to diagnose and that took her from us at 4 1/2 years old.  

Something that has always bothered me about Hannah's gravesite is that her cremains are buried near the headstone but her grave marker is down at the foot.   

It has always bothered my that the marker doesn't accurately mark where she is buried.  

Weird?  Maybe.  
But it does bother me.

Today Ben was home with me because he is all done with school.  
We started off the day going by to visit the grave, put out some fresh flowers, and finally moved the grave marker.  

Ben was very sweet about the whole thing.  

He worked hard

And never complained.  

Sometimes a son knows when to do a task for his momma without questioning.

This makes me happy.  
My handsome, smart, strong, momma-pleasing son 
and my daughter's grave marker where it rightly belongs.  

Happy 18th birthday in heaven, my sweet Hannah.  
We think of you everyday.

Happy birthday Ben.  
I can't wait to see what the future has in store for you!