lifestyle blog -- stories and features
southern living #wherefoodmeets life
It was time to move all the #Valentine table decor off the table and get ready for my #Easter and #Spring table. I decided I wanted to do a pretty table runner. Have you seen the price of Table Runners lately? Target, Home Goods, TJ Maxx, they all are getting to be $25+ for a runner. Honestly, the standard runners don't stretch across a big table.
I decided I didn't want a table runner that looked like everyone elses. Let's face it, I am excellent at computers, (I can even build one) I can cook, bake, craft, but I can't sew. This southern gal has never owned a sewing machine. In High School (many many years ago) we had to take Home Economics. When it was time for me to display my apron, the teacher just shrugged her shoulders. I would cut the other girls hair for my grade, and the teacher passed me. NO JOKE!
In the drapery section at Target, I found this beautiful sheer white panel for $4.00. Yes, $4.00. I found the cute cotton flower headband in the Dollar Section, along with the beautiful pink and green ribbon. Since my decor I was using was pink and green, this was perfect. I cut the head band in half, which gave me enough on each end to tie into the bow I made on the panel.
Simply take the pink and green ribbon and twist together. Twist the end of your panel and tie the ribbon around to create the bow. Tie in the band of flowers into the bow on each end. That, my friends, is it!
The panel came out way better than I imagined. I can easily switch out the ribbon and use flowers or anything else I want to tie into the bows, or leave the white panel across the table as a plain runner.
Crafting is fun, reduces stress, and saves you lots of money! Give it a try!
Greg and I were given tickets to this AWARD WINNING Broadway performance by our daughter, Lauren for Christmas. The production is currently running here in Little Rock.
We went to the show on Saturday for the 2:00 pm matinee performance. I don't think there was an empty seat at The Robinson Center. Normally parking is plentiful, however, the big RV Show was in town as well. Greg had to drop me off and go find a spot a few blocks downtown.
Our seats where Orchestra level, I managed to get to my seat about ten minutes before the show began. A gentleman and his son were seating in the seats next to ours. The dad looked at me and said "Have you seen this before"? with this astonished look. I hadn't seen it and I didn't really know that much about it. I just knew it was an Award Wining production and I wanted to see it. I told the man, "It's okay, I work in Construction and have five older brothers, I have heard it all."
Greg made it to his seat just as it was beginning to start. The Production began with its opening chorus and then jumps right in. Yes, I admit I thought I had seen it all. I noticed the man look over at me to see my reaction. I decided I was going to sit through and give this production a chance. I think he might have been judging my book by its cover.
As the production continued, I don't think I have ever laughed or paid attention to something as much as I had "The Book of Mormon." These actors/actresses were amazing! The play is witting, beautiful singing, and intriguing. You need to definitely pay attention and stay to the end to understand that this wonderful production has a deep meaning.
I find that Christians can be "closed minded" and let's face it, a tad (some more than others) judgmental. This Production is about a culture that doesn't understand God as some of the Christian faith does. It reminds us that we should teach the Word sometimes in terms that other cultures or nations understand. Some of us who think that we might think we are "better Christians," are really self centered. It is about what God can do for "me" than what I can do for God. Sure it has very harsh language in the production, sure it is a little strong and a little harsh. However, it reached inside of me to remember that all people don't believe the same as I do. It reminded me that spreading the Word sometimes means getting out of our "comfort" zone to reach others. I know some gasped when I mentioned I seen this production. How can one be offended if they were so "blind-sided" to the harshness that they missed the meaning of the Production all together? I know some women that saw "Fifty Shades" and they weren't offended by that. It had harsh language, sexuality and well.... No, it didn't have the beginning "God"part.
I feel this play started out strong to make you reach deep inside yourself to not be judgmental. That if you want others to learn the message, you have to come down to their level and understand the sufferings and pain that they have endured.
If you are absolutely closed minded, deeply offended by foul language, and can't get past it, then this production isn't for you. However, I "got it" and it really made me think more about Christianity as a whole. This Production isn't for young children or teens. Leave them at home! Remember, "Don't judge a book by its cover."
The table is decorated, the gift bags are placed at the table. Now, it is time to make the meal. I am busy, let's face it. I work full time as a Systems/Business Manager for a General Contractor who specializes in Restaurant Construction. The construction business is fast moving when you deal with Restaurant Construction and owner's are wanting to get the restaurant open to ring up those sales.
This meal is easy to make and delicious to eat. It doesn't require a whole lot of "hovering over the stove." It's simple lemon pepper chicken, beautiful french green beans (from my recipe, "the best darn green beans,") and good 'ole southern mac & cheese. This is a simple, comfort food. This works great for one, two, or if you are having a party. This whole meal didn't take 30 minutes to make.
French Green Beans - pre-soak them with Lowry's Garlic Pepper & Avoaco Oil. Put them in a pan on low and let simmer in the oil, throw in a little butter and top more with the Lowry's Garlic Pepper. This makes a delicious garlic butter sauce.
Lemon Pepper Chicken - I soak the chicken in a little extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) and then put on the grill pan (or gas stove skillet) top with the Lowry's garlic pepper, salt/pepper & sprinkle a 1/2 teaspoon of the lemon extract. Simmer in this until not pink in the middle. If you want add in your green beans to get some of the lemon flavor to the entire dish.
Mac & Cheese - I do it simple and it comes out great each time. Bring salted water and 1/4 stick of margarine to a bowl. Drop in your elbow macaroni (about 1 cup) and bowl to it rises and is tender. Drain, put back in pan and add 1/4 cup milk, 1/2 stick of margarine and stir together. Add in 2 slices of medium colby cheese and 1/4 cup of Kraft Sharp Cheddar Shredded cheese. If you want it creamer, just add a little more milk. It is delicious and comes out pretty (like pictured below.)
As you can see, this is an easy dinner and perfect for Valentine's Day or just to have a good comfort meal for supper.
Aren't my yellow pots & pans so cute? I love these new ceramic pans. They are tilted so it is easy to drain them. They are so easy to clean. The big #win is that the handles don't get hot. It is easy to grab them without the need for a pot holder.
I found these on #Amazon as well. I love being an #amazonaffiliate and #amazoninflunencerpartner. I get to share all these great deals with you. The beautiful blue Dutch Oven that I keep on the stove top is from CrockPot. I love the color so much, I like to keep it on the stove all the time.
Let's face it. We are all busy and beautiful dishes can be costly. Why not double dip? This beautiful place setting can be used for Valentine's Day right through Easter with this inviting color scheme.
The bottom layer is my beautiful Pioneer Woman Farnhouse Lace dinner plate. The salad plate or second layer, is from Lenox Perle collection. I love this stunning shade of ice blue. It looks a little mint green. This color really can be used all year long, I first introduced them at Christmas as my dessert plates. They are perfect for salad, appetizers, desserts or whatever you wish to put on top. The pink bowl is a perfect Valentine's color, I picked these up on sale at Homegoods. The three combined really make a great setting. Don't worry, your place setting can be a combination of textures, brands and colors. I'm not one of those "matchy matchy" type of people.
I double dipped on those beautiful gingham linen napkins as well. Gingham is just such a versatile pattern. I used these at Christmas and I'll keep using them all year long. I have been seeing gingham bunnies, cats, etc. on all the Easter decor that is appearing in the stores, magazines, etc. These are also popular all year round for the #farmhouse decor style.
I placed these simple treat bags on each place setting. All you need is a cute bag, treats, scissors, a single hole punch and ribbon. Loving gingham as much as I do, I found these cute pink gingham bags onEtsy. You just fold the flap over on the bag as if you were closing them up. Punch a single hole in the middle of the flap, fill with your favorite treat or treats. Insert the ribbon through the closed bag and tie a bow. I put 4-5 of the pink and gold heart chocolates in these bags. You can put whatever treats you like or a gift card.
This place setting can be used everyday or for a special occasion to brighten up your table and make your loved ones feel special. I love that the table is warm, yet bright, and I love the mixture of the patterns. I wanted to use the lemon place mats and the lemon pitcher. This cute pitcher made the perfect vase for these tulips. Valentine's doesn't have to be all pink and red, does it?
I hope this gave you some fun ideas. Have fun with your table, your patterns and designs. Mix it up for a change, double dip your items, i.e., use more than once. P.S. See links below to my #amazonaffiliatepartner for great deals on the plates and gingham napkins. #Amazon is my "goto" place to find great buys on my home needs.
Next week is Valentine's Week. Why celebrate on just the 14th? With restaurants being over booked with crowds, it is so nice to celebrate in the quiet. Greg and I have been married for 29 years. Actually, 30 is vast approaching in May.
We have booked various of our favorite restaurants throughout the years to celebrate. When the kids were younger, we would celebrate with them as well. I actually love that. I love to "gift" my kids with treats, and other little presents for Valentine's Day. When Lauren was little, she loved stuffed animals. Valentine's and Easter were the perfect holiday's to brighten her day.
I love teddy bears myself. I use to collect lots of them in those cute little outfits. As I got older, I realized that my Asthma with the stuffed animals didn't mix so well.
I am getting ready for this year. I wanted to start out the week with a stunning table, full of pinks, reds, greens, and my beautiful lemon yellows. I recently purchased all new dining chairs in my favorite patterns. I am loving my table so much I get it dressed with "pretties" all the time.
All you need are some beautiful tulips, that is my flower choice. Not only are they so elegant, I am highly allergic to most flowers, tulips don't bring those strong aromas, so they are safe for me. I chose these stunning pink ones today at The Fresh Market in Little Rock. They always have beautiful fresh flowers and they only cost $10.00 for the bunch. Aren't they stunning in that new lemon pitcher I just purchased last week from Home Goods? This little pitcher makes a gorgeous vase. I took the twine off the tulips and tied them with beautiful pink ribbon. I grab bulks of ribbon at The Dollar Tree. They have seasonal colors of beautiful ribbons throughout the year.
Today, I started the baking. I didn't know how much fun using my beautiful Artesian Kitchen-aid mixer would be. If you have been following, I named her Bertha, after my maternal grandmother that I never got to meet.
Today's baking consisted of old fashioned buttermilk teacakes. I only imagine that is what my grandma Bertha would have baked in her time. I did add a few sprinkles of powder sugar on top, with a few pink & red sprinkles to kick off Valentine's week. I also baked a few of the "soft" batch caramel chocolate chip cookies. I like to bake on Sunday afternoon when Greg is busy watching golf. Tomorrow, I will bake more of those "pat's favorite ultimate chocolate chip cookie."
My table setting included cute little napkins that I picked up today at TJMaxx. I am a "Maxxinista" through and through. Take a look at that very tall beautiful shabby chic candle holder, isn't it stunning? I found that at TJMaxx as well. #winwin Pick up some of the little gourmet Valentine chocolates while you are there. Ready, set, and go. You have a perfect Valentine vignette setting to make you smile all week long.
BTW, Did you hear? I am now a #fabfitfunaffiliate So exciting! The welcome box would make a perfect Valentine's Day gift for your friends, daughters or yourself! Use my CODE - WELCOME10 and get the box for only $39.99. These retail for way over $200.00. Personalize your profile and then you will be in line for the #Spring #FabFitFun box.
You gals probably all have heard several times throughout your life the old sayin' "Always wear clean underwear" from your mama, grandma or someone. Then you grow up and pass it on to your kids. I know I told my daughter that a few times.
Today, I had to go for my every three month visit to the DR to get my arthritis prescription refilled. I want the earliest appointment they have. The DR's office is just a few minutes from my house on my way to work. Our office is located at least 25-30 minutes away. Therefore, if I get the later appointment then it is back and forth way to much for me.
I walk in for my appointment, when right behind me appears a Barbie Doll looking Pharmaceutical rep with a wagon (literally) full of catered breakfast sandwiches, orange juice, etc. Not only was she looking like a Barbie, she had locks like Goldilocks. I thought to myself, I will be here all day.
The bad thing is, I for some reason, left my phone on my desk. I didn't have it. I get into the exam room, look at my watch, only to find that it was dead. So... no watch, no phone, no clock on the walls.
My DR's exam rooms are themes from Old Hollywood. There is the #Elvis room (which is my favorite), the #Razorback room, The #Jazz room and the #MarilynMonroe room Today, it was a new nurse, she puts me in the Marilyn Monroe room. She does the blood work, etc. etc. and shuts the door and said you know DR will be in shortly. Yeah, right!
I have excellent hearing. I can hear Goldilocks giving her spill to the DR again..and...again...(you get the point.) To his defense, he says "It was nice meeting you." In other words, I'm tired of the spill and I will go see the patients now. She persisted to keep on and on.
By this time, I am dying of boredom. I look around for magazines, to find only men suited magazines in the room. Great! I am in the Marilyn Monroe room with photos of her with her boobs hanging out, and just men magazines. I try to open the door to go to the bathroom, and it won't open. Great! By this time, I am getting stressed. Have no clue what time it is, I need to go to the bathroom, and they can't hear me, because Goldilocks is trying to romance them with catered full-course breakfast. The nerve! I rushed home last night and #Bertha (my Kitchenaide beauty of a mixer) whipped up a great batch of homemade chocolate chip cookies (click here for recipe) to bring to the DR and nurses, and I am being ignored.
By this time there is a big storm brewing in Little Rock. I can hear the nurses ask the DR what do they do for cover. REALLY? I'm stuck in here with Marilyn, men magazines, and they are running for cover?
Finally, in walks DR. I am flushed. "I am hear for anxiety DR and you gave it to me" I told him. I whipped out that beautiful bag of cookies and said give these a try. Goldilocks might have trumped me but mine tasted so much better! I inform the DR that I needed to be in the #Elvis room with the women's magazines. This room clearly was designed for his male patients.
I bet by now you are thinking, what does this have to do with underwear? Well, here it is. I rush to work, all along I am really having issues with my pants. I can't figure out what is bothering me. Lunch time arrives, I go with the "KID" at the office. He rushes me so much I about choked on my food.
We get back to the office, about an hour had passed, I went to get my phone out to text someone and ..........................no bloomin' phone again! You gotta love modern technology and "Find My I phone." I had left it at the restaurant! That Kid shouldn't have rushed me!
Gabby loves to get out of that chaos, so she jumps at the change to go and retrieve my phone. I get to the bathroom and a miracle occurs! I finally figured out my issue with my pants, pulling and tugging at me. My underwear was on backward the whole morning!
To all the gals (young and old) this mama is telling you to wear clean underwear and make sure they are not on backward. Trust me, your day will go much better!
Football widows your days of getting to maybe go to a Sunday movie are just around the corner. Super Bowl Sunday is this Sunday and it is time to break out the party platters, grazing boards or your favorite dips and chips.
I decided to test out one of my favorite easy party appetizers today on my co-workers. I call them #meatball Bruschetta. They are cute, fun to make, and simply delicious. For a bonus, they are actually very filling. I served them with some chips and gave them some of my homemade salted caramel chocolate chip cookies for a dessert.
Meatballs are easy to do in the #crockpot so you don't have to spend all of your time in the kitchen. You can put them on and they are ready in about three hours.
To make them extra special for a party I serve them on sliced french toast bread. You just spread a little margarine on top of the bread (or olive oil) top with shredded mozzarella cheese, shredded cheddar and Parmesan cheese. Place them on a large cookie sheet covered with parchment paper and place in the oven at 375 degrees for about five minutes. Take the toast out of the oven and spoon about three meatballs on top of melted toast. Top with a few more sprinkles of the mozzarella cheese. Place back in the oven for an additional 10-12 minutes until the cheese is melted and the bread is toasted.
Take out of oven and top with fresh baby spinach and serve! These are always a big hit at my office and at home. One or two is usually enough for most. However, some of the guys can eat 3-4 each.
For the meatballs I use the ever delicious #cookedperfect frozen Italian Meatballs. Kroger has a bag of 160 meatballs and that was plenty (with a little left over) for our office party of 12.
Place all of the bag of meatballs in a large Crockpot. This is a really large bag so I use two large jars of the Bertolli Sauces. However, use one (1) Organic Tomato & Basil and one (1) Marinara. (This gives the meatballs and great flavor). Add 3-4 Teaspoons of the Lowry's garlic pepper and sprinkle throughout the meatballs and stir. You will want to add in 1/4 cup of water. If you need them done in three hours - place Crockpot on high. I stir mine occasionally and after I stir them (about every hour) I add more of the Lowry's garlic pepper. I also add black pepper (a few shakes throughout as I stir)
Here's the deal. To take some of the "tartness" out - sprinkle in 1/4 cup of sugar and stir throughout. This gives you that sweet tomato garlic & basil flavor.
To sum it up these are the Ingredients you will need:
1 large bag of Cooked Perfect Italian Frozen Meatballs - (if you can't find the 160 count - 3 of the 52 count (that is if you have a group of 10-12)
1 jar of Organic Bertolli Tomato Basil Sauce (you can use regular if you can't find organic)
1 jar of Bertolli Marinara Sauce
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
Lowry's garlic pepper
1 loaf of sliced French Bread
Margarine - (just enough to spread on toast) or you can use olive oil
Baby Spinach (for garnish)
1-2 cups or a small Bag of Mozzarella Cheese (Shredded)
1 cup or small bag of Shredded Cheddar Cheese
1/2 cup - cup of Shredded Parmesan Cheese
Note: If you want them to have a little "kick" or heat to them. Simply add a couple of pinches of red pepper flakes.
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I had the pleasure last month to sit down for a chat with Arkansas's own Impressionist. A native Arkansan, Barry Thomas played football for the Arkansas Razorbacks with the legendary Lou Holtz. Lou would go on to encourage Barry to pursue his dream. Read the full article at Only In Arkansas. -- onlyinark.com/homegrown/barry-thomas-arkansass-impressionist/
Only In Arkansas is a great publication and website that features stories, culture, food, events and much more for Arkansas or that have an Arkansas connection. To read my other published articles: https://onlyinark.com/author/pat-downs/
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