Loving Our Neighbor

Yellow Rose

Yellow Rose…symbol of friendship

When you come in to the presence of another, there is a connection that happens.  Depending on the hearts of the two people, this connection can either be a positive one or a negative one.  Lately, as I am out and about, I sense a saddened decline in making eye to eye contact.   The one universal need among all people, I believe is love.  One may tend to want to protect, become exclusive, and not relish the extending of themselves for the sake of time.

In order to love, we make contact… A simple smile is sometimes all we need to do.   Loving our neighbor is hard business…it requires effort and care.  It requires genuine sincerity and humbleness.  Our neighbor is not just the people we know but those around us on our daily journey too.

Next time you are in the grocery store, Kohl’s or the local deli, take a chance and make a connection with your neighbor.  You may be the only encouragement they receive all day, and who knows, you may find a lifetime friend!

Oh Baby! Best Ham and Pickle Party Dish

ham and pickles

Easy to make and fun party favor!

My family has always had a flair for the dramatic, and one of those people was my Uncle Howard.   Uncle Howard was married to Sue, a beautiful woman, whom I thought looked much like Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.  They lived in Sidney, New York, where Uncle Howard was the Principle of an elementary school, and a part time actor in the theatre.   After retiring to Florida, he acquired the lead part in “The Man Who Came to Dinner” in local theatre.  How appropriate because not only was he in the Who’s Who in America, but he could cook!!  Oh, you should have seen his beautiful silver collection and the night he brought it out to serve us Cherries Jubilee.  ”Oh Baby!” as he would often say!  As a young child,  I was completely impressed.  Well, Uncle Howard had a lot of specialties and hosted many dinner parties.  I would like to honor him with a very simple yet fantastic hord’oeuvres he taught me to make; Ham/Cream Cheese/Pickle Hord’oeuvres… Oh Baby!

Ham/Cream Cheese/Pickle Hord’oeuvre

10 slices of thick Virginia Baked Deli Ham

1 to 2 packages of Philadelphia Cream Cheese

1 jar of Vlasic Pickles

1 box of colorful toothpicks

Take a paper towel and dry each piece of Ham.  Smooth on about a tablespoon of  Philadelphia Cream Cheese onto each piece of ham.  Take a Vlasic pickle and roll onto the ham and cream cheese forming a log.  Place 4 or 5 colorful toothpicks into the pickle log and place in refrigerator overnight covered in tin foil.  Just before your party, slice the pickle log in between the toothpicks and serve on a beautiful serving tray.  Easy and delicious!

Making Room for All Things New

Ordinary to Extraordinary 004Moving really brings life into perspective.  We travel through life with so many “things.”   Recently we had to make a decision.  My husband and I moved from our cozy surroundings (2300 sq. ft.) in Florida to a 1200 sq. ft. apartment (temporary) in Birmingham, Alabama.  My heart sank as I realized I couldn’t keep everything.  Purging was coming.

Jim going through some of our

Jim going through some of our “stuff”

As we began making  decisions about what would stay and what would go, the overwhelming truth hit us… things we thought we needed were holding us back from living a life of simplicity and ease.  When box after box came off of the moving truck we KNEW it would not all fit into our new life.  So what did we do?  We gave some things away, we donated the rest and purposed to only live with what we absolutely need and love.       Wow!  That felt good and honestly we LOVE the new simplified and cozy look.    You could say we’re “making room”  for something new.

Don’t let the past hold you…let go and open the door to the new thing God wants to do!

Savory Chicken and Rice

chicken and riceNeed to make an easy meal this week for your family or potluck?  We loved this staple in my home growing up!   The buttery flavor of chicken and rice, combined with a great chicken stock, a splash of white wine  and the added elements of shredded chicken, onions, rice and a vegetable of your choice…what can I say but DELICOUS!

This makes a great quick potluck dish as well as one that satisfies when you need to pull something together in a hurry.  As with any special dish, be sure  to sauté the ingredients together gently to enhance the full hearty flavor of this dish.  Enjoy!

Ingredients:  1 stick unsalted butter, 2 onions, 4 carrots, 6 small chicken breasts, 2 cups of cooked rice, 1/4 cup of white wine, 1/2 cup of chicken stock and basil for garnish.

Boil chicken breasts until they cook through while sautéing butter, onion and carrots in a medium pan.  Remove chicken breasts when well done and shred into medium size pieces.  Add chicken breast to butter, onion and carrot mix gently until well combined.  Cook 1 cup of rice in water in microwave for about 10 minutes or until mildly softened.  Add rice to chicken breast mixture and pour in your chicken stock.  Allow the chicken stock to soak in, turn to heat to high for 1 minute while adding white wine.  Simmer for two minutes keeping a close watch and turn heart off.  Garnish with basil and enjoy!

Over the Top Oatmeal

oatmealI did not love oatmeal as a child!  I have proof because I wrote about several times in my diary.  I don’t know why I didn’t like it; perhaps it was a Saturday morning staple and I needed a change!  Whatever the reason, I think it’s time to like it again. Recently I found this awesome, hearty oatmeal and fruit recipe I couldn’t wait to try in Country Living Magazines Spring Issue.

It’s worth passing on and I even changed some of the ingredients to put my own unique touch to the recipe.

Oatmeal is a slow burning carb, packed with fiber and is said to reduce cholesterol and help to lower blood pressure.  It’s a great healthy alternative to sweet cereals and worth a try.  Ah, now I know why I didn’t like it as a kid; it was good for me…

Enjoy!

2 cups rolled oats

2 cups fresh cut apple

1 cup walnuts

1/2 teas salt

2 cups whole milk

1/2 cup maple syrup

2 large eggs

2 teas. vanilla

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  As oven heats, mix together in a large bowl dry ingredients.  Divide among 4 baking tins or ramekins.

In a medium bowl, combine and stir milk, syrup, eggs and vanilla.  Pour 1/4 of the syrup mixture over each ramekin.  Place ramekins on baking sheet and bake until golden brown for 25 minutes.

Simple Strata Holiday Brunch

strata

Feeling stressed over the Christmas holiday?  It may be difficult to be joyful when so much of the meaning of Christmas has been lost in the busyness of “doing” and “giving gift”…let me help you recapture the moments by creating your own special Christmas and New Year gatherings with simplicity and ease.

In the middle of a very active month, I did find  blessed time to create a wonderful, yet simple, breakfast menu for my holiday guests.  If you don’t have time or energy for a big spread, a light brunch makes a perfect Christmas or New Years breakfast.

No need to  fuss too much, as long as the food has delicious fresh ingredients, drinks are warm and tasty, and your home has a charming atmosphere.   In addition to my easy menu, I cook a  big pot of potpourri on the stove for that  wonderful Christmas smell.  AND… I always have a warm wassail or cider available served in my grandmother’s beautiful glass cups. 

Keeping it simple and charming is the key to enjoying the holiday season.  Your family and friends will thank you for allowing them to savor the taste and smell of Christmas and welcome the new year in this simple yet special way.

Coffee at LuLu’s Home for the Holidays Brunch

* Savory Egg, Sausage and Cheese Strata

* Sweet Blueberry Muffins

* Fresh Fruit

* Paula Deen’s Apple and Pear Cider

*Fresh Pot of Starbucks Coffee

Strata has to be one of the easiest and fastest dishes make.  I was pressed for time this year, so it fit perfectly into my schedule.

Hope this special dish adds to the enjoyment of the Christmas holiday!

Ingredients:  12 eggs, 1 quart of milk, 1 teas. dry mustard, 1 lb. sausage, 1/2 cup mushroom, 1 cup of grated cheese, 1 loaf of French bread cut into cubes, salt, pepper, parsley.

Get your sausage browned on medium heat before we get started.  Next, layer a large rectangle baking pan with cubes of French Bread, next layer with 1/2 cup grated cheese and mushrooms.  When sausage is cooked, add the sausage as the next layer.  In a separate bowl mix together 12 eggs, milk and dry mustard, salt and pepper until well blended.  Pour egg mixture over other ingredients into baking pan and top with one more layer of grated cheese (1/2 cup) and parsley.  Cover with tin foil and chill in fridge for 2-12 hours.

After strata is chilled; bake in the oven on 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes until bubbly.  Enjoy!

Oh Christmas Tree

christmas treeAt the center of your heart is a story, a unique story told over a lifetime…through pictures, memories, words and Christmas Trees.  Every Christmas tree tells your story, from the color you choose, the ornaments you like and the tree topper.   If you are a sentimental person you may choose ornaments tied to the past that have special meaning.  If you have children, your tree will be decorated with things they have made or ornaments they love, or you may be a person who has several trees, each decorated with different themes.

The decorating of our Christmas tree has always been tied to my heart.  When my daughter was growing up, we choose ornaments that looked like family members or our dog.  As time moved on, the tree had a vintage flair and then one year I got brave and added large items like clocks, 8×10 pictures etc.  Yes, it was very artsy.

This year, my heart longed for simplicity and a new look, so I changed the large tree in the formal living area.  Not as much glitz as times past, but just a sweet and simple mix of ribbons and pinecones.

Create a memory this Christmas season with the gift of your heart on display…your Christmas tree!