Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Connecting with Little Eyes Across the Miles--Shutterfly

I am finally writing my LONG overdue post about the joys of using Shutterfly, my very favorite photo sharing website. On Shutterfly you can store your priceless photos, make Share Pages on any subject you wish, make books and more, all for free! For every project you make, Shutterfly provides a link for you to send to anyone you wish. You can even upload your address book and they will send an invitation for you. What could be easier?

All of these wonderful features I've mentioned so far are all available only online. But Shutterfly will also print your pictures for you, help you make wonderful, one-of-a kind books, cards and gifts with your pictures for prices that compare favorably with every other photo sharing business I've checked, whether online or in a regular discount or drug store. And I almost forgot to mention the amazing sales they have. Most of the time when I purchase something I am able to get a thirty to fifty percent discount and almost always shipping is free for orders over $30.

So far this year I've made a book for our family reunion/vacation on the shores of Lake Michigan, a book for my son's family (plus one for me) with photos of three years at the Minnesota Renassiance Festival and a book for my grandson and I at The Great Train Festival, in Rock Island, IL.

Even though I enjoy buying their products I think my favorite Shutterfly feature is the Share Site where you can post photos of whatever subject you want. For the past few years I've made a sort of family yearbook on my Share Sites. I've also used it as a Christmas letter to friends and family, sending the link online for no charge. When I send a card or letter through the mail, I can include the link and anyone who would like to see more of what we were up to can visit the share site. Love it!
(And if you'd like to see what I'm talking about, here's the link: http://2011rickgail.shutterfly.com/)

In the interest of full disclosure I'd like to tell you that there was a special $10 off my next order on Shutterfly if I would embed the code of my latest project, Valentine cards. I'm planning to include them in our annual family letter, since I missed Christmas. But let me also point out that everyone I know also received a code good for $20 off any order as a thank you gift from the Shutterfly company. I wish all the merchants I do business with would be so generous.

So take a look at Shutterfly today and just imagine all the ways you could start connecting through photos with your precious grandchildren.

To see the lovely cards I'm sending out as my "Valentine" this year, click the link below

Friday, January 20, 2012

Meeting God on a Snowny Morning

Snow, small at first, just a shining in the cold morning air, comes down faster now, larger flakes floating like feathers from the colorless sky to a colorless world.

It's beautiful and today, it feels personal, intimate. Watching it I feel a settling in my churning spirit as if God's grace is floating down around my shoulders.

Somehow, watching this snow, it seems God's reply to my restless heart, to its anxious cry.
Soothing, comforting me, saying,
"I am listening, child.
I AM giving,
I AM blessing,
I AM enough
to cover your world of chaos and pain
(temporary and light afflictions)
with beauty, grace, love.
My mercy is enough to forgive and cover the ugly parts of you.
My grace becomes yours.
I hear from heaven and answer,
sending as many blessings
as there are snowflakes falling from the sky."

Abba Father. Abba father.

The snow is mercy, falling from above, covering me.
The candle glowing is grace, creating light & hope in the grey of today.

I lean on Your tender heart
You are here, I AM,
and I am gonna be fine.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Good Lord it's Morning! OR Good Morning, Lord

Another little QTT*

I like to sleep.
I love snuggling beneath my downy comforter and soft pillows and relaxing my aching bones, my mind drifting on a sea of pleasant sensations, cuddly and warm. Ahhhhhh.

if I'm to keep my daily appointment with the Lord, I'm going to need to tear myself out of my cozy cocoon, stretch my arms into my robe and head out to meet Him, greeting Him with praise for the new day.

More often than not, this can be difficult to do.
On mornings when the floor seems just too cold and the bed too soft and warm, I remind myself of this cute poem by Jill Briscoe. I picture God, the needle, pulling me up and out from the covers and somehow it helps me to rise, if not shine. Once again, our dear Savior takes it on Himself to put in us what He asks of us.

Try it, it works.

I am also reminded today as I write this that to become a beautiful butterfly, the caterpillar has to shed the comfy cocoon. Thank You Lord, for speaking new truth to us, each day!

God the Needle

God the needle, the thread,

Get my body out of bed,

How to know You if I sleep,

You the Shepherd, I the sheep.

God the needle, I the thread,

Is my Bible open read?

God the needle, I the thread,

Get this truth inside my head,

Here to weave my time today,

In my work and in my play,

Make a picture, fasten me

Inside Your lovely tapestry.

God the needle, I the thread,

And when all is done and said,

May the picture You have made

Last forever, never fade.

May my thread reflect Your glory,

When You've finished Jesus' story.

God the needle, I the thread,

Get my body out of bed.


*QTT=Quiet Time Tip

Friday, December 30, 2011

A Pastor's Wife Confesses

I have a confession to make. It's kind of embarrassing to admit because I've been a Christian since I was 9, have been in church all my life, SS teacher, choir, the whole nine yards. But here it is: It's tough for me to set aside time to read the Bible and pray. It’s hard enough to make that commitment once a week or even once a month, never mind trying to do it every day. And man, can we come up with excuses.

I should know. For years I figured since I was so busy doing things for God, teaching Sunday School, working in the nursery, singing in the choir being a pastor’s wife, for Pete’s sake, that I assumed didn’t really need to spend a lot of time with God actually asking His opinion about what I was up to. After all, it was good stuff done for my church, family & friends. Just a quick "God bless....today," should do it, right?

It’s not that I never read the Bible or studied it. I was in BSF for over 15 years and I wrote my own curriculum for my middle school SS students. But to take time each day, just me and Him, hearing God’s voice by reading His word and talking to Him in prayer. Well, obviously I didn’t have time to do that. If I did, how would I ever get all my good works for Him done.

I’m not proud of that attitude. I’d been taught better, but it took a crisis in our lives for me to realize that though I thought I was helping God out, my works for Him, were really nothing. Just busy work. Only by God’s grace and mercy did He choose to overlook my self-centered failings and use it to His glory anyway. (That's how much He loves His children.)

I have a sneaking suspicion I’m not the only one who's had problems putting the busyness of doing ahead of the quietness of seeking.

So now here we stand on the eve of the New Year, when life feels like it’s giving us a chance to begin again, I want to share things changed when I began to figure out how to daily/faithfully seek His presence. I love to help you begin a conversation with God that will never end.

My home church preacher once said, “Never fall asleep without having read God’s word that day.” I heard this back in the 1970s. Then one day, I heard it with my heart heard it. "Okay, let's give it a try," I thought. I sat my Bible by my bed and at bed time, if I hadn’t read it before then, I grabbed it and at least read something right then. A tiny baby step, but guess what—God allows baby steps and even holds your hand as you take them!

Another bigger, step occurred much later. This time I was studying an Old Testament story of King David. Seems he needed some land on which to make sacrifices to God and made a offer to the land’s owner, Ornan (story & scripture after post.) Ornan wanted to give the land to David. David’s answer is what God used to really pierce my heart:

“I will not offer to the Lord that which costs me nothing.” (1 Chronicles 21:22-24)

Did you hear God saying "Ahem?" I did.

I realized that for all those years of struggling to seek God in a personal quiet time, I thought it should cost me nothing. I somehow thought the time I spent with God would be “spare time” leftover from when I had done everything I wanted/needed to do. I was offering to God only “that which cost me nothing.” No sleep loss, no newspaper not read, no TV show missed—I had to ask myself was I really unwilling to give up ANYTHING to better know and love the One who died for me? Suddenly I “got it,” and I saw the need to make a change.

The next time I got up early and didn’t want to leave my nice, warm bed (I live in Iowa and that can be a BIG deal,) I said to myself,“I will not offer to the Lord that which costs me nothing,” got up, put on a robe and opened my Bible. And guess what—God was there waiting for me and He wasn’t even mad about all the times I’d missed. In fact, He was just dying to bless me, to know me, to love me and be my friend. When I gave up trying to keep all my time, my life for me, and give Him nothing, I found in His presence more than enough to make up for any “loss.”

So I write you today, at this incredible time of year, with a new beginning just around the corner, to share the offer God makes to us all. "If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me."(Jer. 29:13) And believe me, there is no better way to start than by treating yourself to time with your best Friend, your Savior and Lord, Jesus. Let this be the year you stop doing so many things for God and start becoming who God designed you to be It will be the beginning of the best years of your life.

God promises to meet you where you are today. He's waiting for you.

One Bible story that changed me:

1 Chronicles 21:22-24

22 Then David said to Ornan, “Grant me the place of this threshing floor, that I may build an altar on it to the LORD. You shall grant it to me at the full price, that the plague may be withdrawn from the people.”23 But Ornan said to David, “Take it to yourself, and let my lord the king do what is good in his eyes. Look, I also give you the oxen for burnt offerings, the threshing implements for wood, and the wheat for the grain offering; I give it all.” 24 Then King David said to Ornan, “No, but I will surely buy it for the full price, for I will not take what is yours for the LORD, nor offer burnt offerings with that which costs me nothing.”

Disclaimer: I AM a morning person. I have my time with the Lord early when I first get up because I am pretty much brain dead by 7 PM. I go to bed with the chickens. BUT it doesn't matter WHEN you spend time with the Lord--Just Do It! Just didn't want to discourage any of you night owls--MANY spiritual giants I've known spend their time w/the Lord after 10 PM.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Immanuel--God with Us--"My ADVENT-ure"

“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). Matthew 1:23 quoting Isaiah 7:14.

A military crisis, a faithless king who refuses a sign that God's promise will be fulfilled. Yet God, himself chooses a sign--Isa 7:14. Through the shadow of disbelief God's incredible promise to be with us shines out. A virgin will have a child and he will become
GOD with us, Immanuel.

Of all the prophecies of the Messiah I think this must be my favorite. What gift could God give us that would be greater or more precious than the gift of His presence?
Immanuel--God with US.

Think on it--God with us. Today, daily invading our time and space, our very existence He comes. But only if we invite Him in. What will you do today? Who will you be?
Immanuel--God WITH us.

Our God, so pure, so high above,

Is pleased to come and dwell.

Come see the mystery of His love:

A Child, Emmanuel.

The One whom time cannot contain

And mind can never trace

Has touched our lives with tender hands

And shown a human face.

Words by Frederick H. Martens, Ken Bible, and John F. Wade
Music by Pietro A. Yon, Rowland H. Prichard, and John F. Wade
© 1998, 2009 by Pilot Point Music. CCLI Song #2529804.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Grammy's Thanksgiving/Christmas Feast Guide

Welcome to my longest post EVER. I began this little Thanksgiving dinner tutorial last year when I was wondering how my dear husband would manage if he ever had to do it without me. I thought at least I'd give him some general idea of how everything gets done.

If this is your first time hosting Thanksgiving dinner, I truly hope reading through all of this will inspire you to make you own timetable and plan so you can enjoy the holiday as much as your guests will.

Grammy’s Thanksgiving/Christmas Feast

The Food


Cranberry sauce “in-the-shape-of-a-can”

Mashed potatoes


Creamed cauliflower

Sweet potatoes

Green bean casserole

Green pear/Jello salad


Relish tray


Pumpkin pie

Pecan pie

Apple pie

Assorted goodies

Martinelli’s Sparkling Cider

Carol’s cranberry slush punch

Egg nog

(or how I saved my sanity and enjoyed learned to enjoy the holidays as hostess.)


SET THE TABLE or at least get all the dishes out you’ll be using. Wash if necessary. Ditto polishing silverware.

Don’t forget to have the cutting board ready to go and an electric knife comes in really handy. Plus a meat thermometer.

Roast the sweet potatoes for your recipe.

You can also cook the cauliflower a day early too and the house will smell better.

Make the dishes listed below

Green Jello & Pear Salad

1 large pkg lime jello

1 large can pears

8 oz cream cheese

1 pkg Dream Whip (1 envelope is all you’ll use)

(can add ½ cup nuts but we never do)

Dump Jello in blender.

Boil juice from pears with enough water to make 2 cups, then blend with jello. Cut cream cheese in cubes and blend those in.

In a separate bowl, prepare Dream Whip according to package directions.

Fold in jello mixture and chill in bowl or mold

OPTIONAL--Stasi & Christal like it when the dream whip is not totally mixed leaving white clouds of DW in the jello. Or they used to before they became foodies.

PIES (recipes below—or ask someone to bring them)

POSSIBLY THE DAY BEFORE—not as good usually—or ask someone else to bring these:

Classic Green Bean Casserole

Use the recipe on the onion ring can or...


1 can (10 3/4 ounces) Campbell's® Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup (Regular, 98% Fat Free or Healthy Request®)
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon soy sauce
Dash ground black pepper

4 cups cooked cut green beans

1 1/3 cups French's® French Fried Onions

Directions: Stir the soup, milk, soy sauce, black pepper, beans and 2/3 cup onions in a 1 1/2-quart casserole. Bake at 350°F. for 25 minutes or until the bean mixture is hot and bubbling. Stir the bean mixture. Sprinkle with the remaining onions.

Bake for 5 minutes or until the onions are golden brown.

Easy Substitution: Use 1 bag (16 to 20 ounces) frozen green beans, thawed, 2 packages (9 ounces each) frozen green beans, thawed, 2 cans (about 16 ounces each) green beans, drained or about 1 1/2 pounds fresh green beans for this recipe.

To make without canned soup use this white/mushroom sauce instead

Better-Than-Condensed-Soup White Sauce makes about the same as one 10-oz. can

3 Tablespoons butter 1/4 cup chopped mushrooms
3 Tablespoons unbleached flour 1 T. finely chopped onion
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk, stock or combination

mushroom: saute 1/4 cup chopped mushrooms and 1 T. finely chopped onion in the butter, before adding the flour

  1. Melt butter in heavy saucepan.
  2. Saute 1/4 cup chopped mushrooms and 1 T. finely chopped onion in the butter, before adding the flour
  3. Blend in the flour and salt, cooking until bubbly.
  4. Stir in your choice of milk, stock or a combination of the two, using a wire whisk to prevent lumps.
  5. Cook until just smooth and thickened.


2 lbs of fresh green beans
Fresh Grinder Pepper
18 oz baby portabella mushrooms
2 T Butter
2 T fresh garlic, minced
3 T flour 1 C chicken stock
3 T Dry Sherry
1.5 cup half & half or heavy cream (do not use fat-free – as cream acts as thickener)
1 small can French’s Fried Onions

On DAY of serving, place in a ‘greased’ 6-7 qt Crock Pot in layers 1st the beans - 2nd the soup spread evenly & 3rd about ½ a can of French’s Fried Onions Cook on high 3.5 to 4 hours in Crock (till bubbly and browned a little is great)


BEANS: 2 lbs of fresh green beans, snapped – remove ends – place in crock & cover with water; not more water than necessary to cover beans, stir in 1 T salt, and cook on high 4 hours. Drain (actually drain on paper towel to dry beans well). Place in fridge overnight. Be sure beans to tender!!

SOUP: 18 oz baby portabella mushrooms broken up into large pieces by hand (using knife causes bitterness in mushrooms)
2 T butter

2 T fresh garlic, minced
1 t salt or to taste
Grind fresh pepper or to taste
3 T flour 1. C chicken stock
3 T dry sherry
1.5 cup half & half or heavy cream (do not use fat-free – as cream acts as thickener)
Salt & pepper to taste

Wash mushrooms with cloth, discard stems & break tops into pieces by hand. Melt the butter in skillet till shimmery, (do not brown) add in mushrooms, garlic, salt and pepper.
Stirring often, cook 6 Min for mushrooms to soften & exude their liquid.
Now stir in flour and cook 1 more minute.
Pour in chicken stock and sherry & bring to a simmer.
Now add in half & half or cream till sauce thickens (takes about 10 - 15 minutes). Taste to adjust the seasonings.

(To BAKE in Oven - Preheat oven to 425F spread in baking dish according to Crock layering, and bake uncovered till begins to brown on top a little - 45 minutes approx.)

DESSERTS (because you’re making them the day before)

Mom's Apple Pie to End All Apple Pies

Almost exactly the one I use even the same title—my comments in italics. Got it out of the Moline Daily Dispatch years ago.

1/3 c. sugar

1/3 c. brown sugar

3 Tbsp. flour I have sometimes omitted

1 tsp. cinnamon

6 large tart apples

(Granny Smith or Rome Beauty, pared, quartered, cored and sliced)

2 tablespoons butter


1 c. lightly spooned all-purpose flour I use about 3/4

1 tsp. cinnamon I have sometimes omitted b/c I’m not that crazy about cinnamon

1/2 c. brown sugar

1 stick butter (1/2 cup)

Filling:Combine sugar, brown sugar, flour and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl, pressing out any lumps. Add sliced apples and toss well to mix. Fill pastry shell with apples top with butter. (Cut into little pieces.)

Topping: Combine flour, brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Scatter topping thickly over apple filling. Bake in a hot oven at 400 degrees for 30 minutes or until crust and topping are nicely browned. Cool pie on wire rack. Before cutting, dust with pow

dered sugar if you wish.

Pecan Pie from the Karo Syrup bottle

1 cup Karo® Light OR Dark Corn Syrup

3 eggs

1 cup sugar (DAD says if you’re using light CS use BROWN sugar and with Dark CS use White sugar)

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1 teaspoon Spice Islands® Pure Vanilla Extract

1-1/2 cups (6 ounces) pecans

1 (9-inch) unbaked or frozen** deep-dish pie crust

Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix corn syrup, eggs, sugar, butter and vanilla using a spoon. Stir in pecans. Pour filling into pie crust. Put a cover around the crust if you have one. If not, buy one.

Bake on center rack of oven for 60 to 70 minutes (see tips for doneness, below). Cool for 2 hours on wire rack before serving.

RECIPE TIPS: Pie is done when center reaches 200°F. Tap center surface of pie lightly - it should spring back when done. For easy clean up, spray pie pan with cooking spray before placing pie crust in pan. If pie crust is overbrowning, cover edges with foil.

Pumpkin Pie
(I actually read today that it’s better to make this the day of while you are preparing the turkey to go in the oven)


3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 3/4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (or use ½ tsp ginger & ½ tsp cloves instead)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 (12-ounce) can evaporated low-fat milk

2 large eggs

1 (15-ounce) can unsweetened pumpkin


1/2 (15-ounce) package refrigerated pie dough (such as Pillsbury) Cooking spray


1/4 cup whipping cream

2 teaspoons powdered sugar


Position oven rack to lowest position.

Preheat oven to 425°.To prepare filling, combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add pumpkin, and stir with a whisk until smooth.

To prepare crust, roll dough into an 11-inch circle; fit into a 9-inch pie plate coated with cooking spray. Fold edges under and flute.

Pour pumpkin mixture into the crust. Place pie plate on a baking sheet. Place baking she

et on lowest oven rack. Bake at 425° for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350° (do not remove pie from oven); bake an additional 50 minutes or until almost set. Cool completely on wire rack.

To prepare topping, beat cream with a mixer at high speed until stiff peaks form. Add powdered sugar, and beat until blended. Serve with pie.

Cherry-O Cheese Pie was a favorite for years so I’m including the recipe

1- 9in. crumb crust

1- 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened at room temp.

1- can sweetened condensed milk (Borden Eagle Brand or other)

1/3 cup lemon juice--( measure accurately)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1- can chilled cherry pie filling. (1-lb. 5 oz.)

In medium sized bowl, beat cream cheese until light and fluffy. Gradually add sweetened condensed milk and stir until blended. Stir in lemon juice and vanilla. Turn into crust. Refrigerate (not freeze) 2 to 3 hours. Garnish with chilled pie filling before serving.


Rolls—I like the frozen kind Don’t forget to take them out about 4 hours (or so)to give them time to thaw.


TAKE THAT TURKEY OUT of the freezer 4-5 DAYS EARLY! THAW IN THE REFRIGERATOR. For Thanksgiving, that means the turkey should be in the FRIG BY SATURDAY.

Turkeys are easy! Don't be intimidated by that big, old bird. Buy a Reynold’s Oven Bag sized for large enough for your turkey. Stuff and follow directions on the oven bag package. This greatly reduces cooking time and keeps the turkey juicy.

DO NOT FORGET TO TAKE THE LITTLE PAPER WRAPPED PACKAGES OUT OF THE NECK AND THE TAIL OF THE TURKEY, otherwise know as the gizzard, liver, heart, neck etc. (although some very great cooks I know have made that mistake including me and several relatives. And if you do, don't worry, the turkey will be fine anyway.)


I like Kellogg’s stuffing cubes (it’s not a mix) I use the recipe on the bag PLUS make corn bread and add it to the crumbs.

ALAS !!! after I wrote the above I found out Kellogg’s has discontinued Croutettes! The last they made was Sept. 2010 so no Croutettes! I was able to find the recipe online tho and I noticed it has about 2X as much butter which is probably why it is the best.

I use mostly Petridge Farms of all varieties. The corn bread stuffing from them is good too, but I still add corn bread. Use lots of butter and extra chicken broth to keep the stuffing moist. It should be gooey when you finish.

Recipe for Stuffing, Shirley/Gail Style

Make your own cornbread—don’t use sugar in it!! Yuk! (8x8 pan)

And notice the amounts depend on how big the turkey is!!

Also where it says use “packages of Kelloggs,” just use whatever you’ve got in the given proportions. Keep adding MELTED butter, or hot chicken stock if it's not VERY mushy. Very mushy going in means moist stuffing coming out.

The recipie from Croutettes® Stuffing (9-11 lbs.turkey) (Kelloggs Crouttes Discont’d Sept 2010) but the recipe is still my favorite. This year, I think I may try putting it in muffins tins to cook. It will cook faster PLUS more yummy, crunchy stuffing.


1 1/2 packages Kellogg's® Stuffing Mix ( or bags

1 cup finely chopped celery

1/3 cup chopped onions

3/4 cup butter or margarine (I use butter, Mom used marg)

1 1/2 cups hot chicken broth (Mom used water, broth is better. I add as needed to have really moist stuffing)


1. Pour Kellogg's® Stuffing Mix into large mixing bowl.

2. Cook celery and onions in butter until tender. Add mixture to stuffing mix while tossing gently. Stir lightly while adding hot chicken broth.

Note If desired, omit celery and onions. Mix melted butter with stuffing mix before adding chicken broth. BUT IT WON'T TASTE AS GOOD.

Amount of broth may be varied depending on preference for fluffy or more moist stuffing.

12-15 lb Turkey

2 packages (6 oz. each) Kellogg's® Stuffing Mix
1 cup finely chopped celery

1/2 cup chopped onions
1 cup butter or margarine
2 cups hot chicken broth

6-8 lbs turkey
1 package (6 oz.) Kellogg's® Stuffing Mix
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1/4 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 cup hot chicken broth

Creamed Cauliflower

2 Cups cold milk

1/4 cup flour

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. sppper

4 Tbls. butter

Pour over cooked vegatables in pan. Stir until thickened. This actually works or you can make a cream sauce and then add the cooked cauliflower.

This is what I used for Creamed Cauliflower. Cut up and cook the cauliflower first in the microwave or steam on the stove. Then put in a sauce pan and follow directions above.

Sweet Potato Recipes * means I haven’t tried as of 11-17, 2010

Blues Clues Thankful Sweet Potato Treat (about 2007?found online -it’s very good!)

DOUBLE THIS RECIPE(you’ll need to at least double this recipe or at least double the potatoes and half again the other stuff)

2 lb. sweet potatoes, peeled, cooked and mashed

6 TBS. butter, melted, divided in two

¼ cup orange juice

1 ½ tsp. salt

12 ginger cookies, finely crushed (Aldi has good ones—I use the food

processor to crush)

½ cup chopped pecans (I leave out, sigh)

3 tsp brown sugar

Step 1 Preheat oven to 350. Mix potatoes, 3Tbs of melted butter, orange juice and salt until well blended. Spoon into a 2-qt casserole Step 2 Mix the remaining 3 tbs of melted butter, cookie crumbs, (pecans) & brown sugar until blended. Sprinkle over the sweet potato mixture
Step 3 Bake 30 minutes or until topping is golden brown

*Florence Mama’s Candied Yams (2010 from BHG read while at Chriro office wa iting)a family recipe passed down to Chef Tyler Florence from his late grandmother. I thought it looked better than it tasted)

Makes 8 to 10 servings + leftovers.


3 lb. sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced crosswise in 1⁄4-inch-thick rounds

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter

1 cup light brown sugar, packed

3 cinnamon sticks

1⁄2 tsp. ground nutmeg

1 tsp. kosher salt

1 orange, thinly sliced into rounds


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In an ungreased 2-quart baking dish place sweet potato slices, overlapping slightly and covering the dish. In a saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Stir in brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Cook until sugar is dissolved, then add the orange slices. Pour the mixture over the potatoes, covering the entire surface.

Cover the dish tightly with foil. Bake 40 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork. Remove foil and bake 20 to 25 minutes more or until top is golden brown. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

Makes 8 to 10 servings + leftovers.

*Bourbon Sweet Potatoes from Martha S.

Serves 8

  • 3 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch wedges
  • 1/2 cup packed dark-brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 3 tablespoons butter, room temperature


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange sweet potatoes in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Add sugar and bourbon and toss to combine; season with salt and pepper. Bake until sweet potatoes are tender and glazed, 1 to 1 1/2 hours, tossing every 30 minutes. Stir in butter before serving.

Relish tray
I like watermelon pickles, Josiah likes Tiny Little Midgets sweet pickles, olives, cream cheese stuffed celery, spiced apple rings or peaches.

put in about 30 minutes before dinner is served

I'm including my Christmas morning brunch, too. It's easy and very yummy.

Christmas Morning Breakfast

Easter Egg B’fast Casserole

Butter Braid (these are in the freezer section of the store and are made in Iowa. Cream Cheese is the best. You take it out the night before and leave it in the oven all night to rise, then bake it when everyone is up)

OR coffee cake or rolls

Fresh Fruit – melon, strawberries, oranges

Orange juice


Christmas Morning Breakfast Casserole
I typically make this on Christmas Eve, when the kitchen is finally quiet again and most of the mess from Christmas Eve dinner is cleared away. In other words, I've made it as late as 11:30PM or 12 midnight. It's a nice ending for evening.


6 slices buttered white bread, cut in fourths (Aunt Dorothy Baird liked to trim the crusts-I usually don't butter the bread. I've also use wheat bread, but it changes the taste to be sweeter. White works better)

2 Cups grated cheese

4 eggs, beaten

1 tsp. dry mustard

1 1/2 tsp. salt

3 Cups milk

(1/2 pound of Jimmy Dean sausage, crumbled and browned, if desired- this is my own addition. It's fine without the sausage)

In a buttered 9x13 casserole pan, spread a layer of bread slices , then a layer of cheese, alternating until all are used up. (Usually I just put in the bread, then the cheese and skip trying to alternate them)

Mix the beaten eggs and milk with the seasonings a bit and pour it over the bread and cheese. Let stand a few minutes to overnight in the frig.

When ready to bake, sprinkle the cooked sausage on the top.

Then bake @350 degrees for 45 minutes. ( I usually let it stand overnight in the frig.)

Easy Overnight Rolls

1 Pkg. frozen dinner rolls (24 Rhodes dinner rolls)

Spread out in a greased 9X13 pan.

1 4 oz. box regular (not instant) butterscotch pudding mix, dry

1/2-3/4 cup brown sugar

Mix and sprinkle over dough balls.

Dot with 3-4 Tablespoons butter (You could add nuts if your kids won’t complain)

Set pan of dough balls in cold oven before going to bed. In the morning turn oven to 350 and bake for about 20 minutes. Turn onto platter as soon as taken from the oven. There now, wasn't that easy? Gail Smith

Banana Fruit Slush (we don’t usually have this but it was a Ladies Handbell Tradition))

6 cups cold water

4 cups sugar

1 12 oz. frozen orange juice, mixed with water as directed

1 6 oz. can frozen lemonade, undiluted (this is hard to find, so I usually just cut a 12 oz. in half and make lemonade with the leftover.)

1 46 oz. can unsweetend pineapple juice

6 bananas blended until soupy

Boil water and sugar until sugar is dissolved.

Combine juices with sugar syrup and freeze. You can keep and eye on it and take it out of the freezer when it's slushy or freeze 'till firm and then take it out ahead of time to thaw a little. BE SURE TO STIR when you remove it from the freezer to make sure of the consistency.

I usually pour into two plastic buckets to freeze. It is wonderfully refreshing!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Five+ Blessing from Isaiah

I don't know about you, but I like my coffee with a little Bible study stirred in. I just love how relevant and immediate God's word can be in our lives each day if we only take the time to read it. It's there we only have to look for it.

This January I started reading through the Bible, although I'll NEVER make it through in only one year. There's just too much good stuff I have to slow down and ponder. Currently I'm reading Isaiah and I've been so blessed by this prophet's words that I just "gottatell somebody," (nod to Twila here.)

It is my hope and my prayer that these thoughts bless you today.

By the way, verses may be somewhat paraphrased in the GPS* version.

1. Isa 25:1 LORD, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name,
for in perfect faithfulness you have done wonderful things, things planned long ago.

2. Isa 26:3-4 He will keep in perfect peace ALL those who trust in him--whose thought turn often to the Lord. Trust in the Lord God always for the Lord Jehovah is your everlasting strength. (TLB)

3. Isa 26:13: Those who belong to God (insert YOUR name here) will live again--their bodies shall rise...for God's Light of Life will fall like dew on them.

4. Isa. 28:29 The Lord almighty is a wonderful teacher and He gives...wisdom.

5. 29:16 Yet the Lord still waits for you to come to Him so He can show you His love.
He will conquer you to bless you, just as He said. For the Lord is faithful to His promises. Blessed are those who wait for Him to help them.

And here is the "plus" a wonderful bit of Psalm 68:19 for dessert:
What a glorious Lord! He daily bears our burdens and also gives us salvation.

Can I get an "Amen?"

*Gail Poag Smith=GPS version