#wherefoodmeetslife - life stories & more
If you grew up in the South or in my household you know you need to eat your black eyed peas to bring good luck for the upcoming new year. You can either eat them on New Year's Eve or the New Year. Either way, keep the tradition going.
When the Dixie Cafe Restaurant chain was still around they would serve you a portion of black eyed peas for free. I love black eyed peas all the time! I love them hot, in cold salads, and recently I had a black eyed pea dip. It was excellent and a fun way to have your New Year start off.
Those who don't like traditional black eyed peas seem to still love this!
Stacy Peters as a young child would have never imagined he would become a professional Santa. Stacy grew up in a traditional Church of Christ with his father has the pastor. The Spirit nor tradition of Santa was practiced or even encouraged in their family’s household.
Several years ago, Stacy’s daughter Katie was in the long line to get photos of Santa with her kids. As she stood in the long line she wondered how families that couldn’t afford to take the “mall” trips to get photos taken to Santa would have a chance to meet Santa and get photos for their kids.
Katie reached out to her dad and said, “You should become Santa for all the families who can’t afford it.” Friends and family agreed that Stacy had the jolly personality and the love for children, combined with his natural white beard and rosy cheeks, was the recipe for a great Santa.
Stacy’s wife, Kathy (a wonderful seamstress) sat down and began to make the “suit.” Stacy started out by playing Santa for our church Christmas gatherings and individual family functions. It wasn’t long that our entire Church body wanted a visit from Santa Pete.
One of our church members began putting her marketing skills to action. “I am going to make you a Santa,” says Schell Gower. Schell began to develop the brand for Santa Pete by building his website, cards and booking events. It wasn’t long that our own Santa Pete became what is known as a professional Santa Claus.
My family has known Stacy Peters and his family for over 30 years as a mentor, shepherd, and a dear friend. Greg and I are in the same small group with Stacy and his wife Kathy. Stacy serves as an Elder for Little Rock Church and has been a long-time member of the Praise and Worship Team. When Stacy Peters sings “Oh Holy Night” the hair on my arms will stand. His voice is a gift from God. Stacy will tell you “God made this” meaning God made his voice, his wonderful rosy cheeks, and his real Santa beard.
Always in character, when you meet him you will believe. While not in his suit, Stacy still looks like Santa with his bright reds and beard perfectly “fluffed” always joyful and full of smiles.
I asked, what is your favorite part of being Santa? Stacy replied, “being Santa for disabled children or those with sensory issues.” Within our church body, we have several children that are eager to give this Santa a hug.
Santa Pete will sing, duck hunt, read a story or simply just sit and listen while you grab the perfect photo keepsake.
For bookings, you can contact him through his website: http://www.santapete.org/ or his Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/santa.pete.1
Thanks to The Flying Pig Photography for some awesome photos. Be sure and visit their Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/flyingpigphotos/
This Post is a guest post of a co-worker of mine. Toby is a Project Manager with L. R. Mourning Company and is raising his three children at home. His older son and son's girlfriend along with their two kids, recently moved in as well.
Toby has a full plate. He recently went on a solo vacation to get some much needed R & R to Cuba. This is his story, in his own words:
As a young boy growing up on a midsized ranch, I was always outside and looking for places to go. Many times going to what I thought was the far reaches of our farm, picking blackberries, and basking in the sun. As I got older would find out was not that far. The same inward desire to explore and find new places and experiences as a young boy has stayed with me, and so that is what inspired me to travel to Havana Cuba, and this is what I have experienced and learned along the way.
As you step off of the airplane you are immediately transported back in time. When the plane lands, and you look out of the window, there is no large terminal with a jetway extending to the airplane for your exit. You simply walk down the mobile staircase and onto the ground floor. There is no danger, but just the simple effort it takes to unload your things and walk into the terminal. And that is what Havana is about, old-fashioned simplicity. Most buildings, equipment, and of course the cars are classic, from a different era of time, but just as important very functional. After waiting in line for customs clearance, your passport is stamped, and your visa is verified. For US citizens a visa is obtained at the last point of entry into Cuba. So before I could check into to my flight I had to pick up my visa at the gate terminal where I was departing. You will want to pay for the visa at least one week prior to departure. Once purchase the visa will be available at will call in the airport. The US visa can be purchased for a small fee. Mine was a total cost of $50 dollars.
As you finish customs you will need to exchange your currency for theirs. The Cuban currency is a dual system. The Cuban convertible peso (CUC) and the Cuban national peso (CUP). The main difference is the value. The convertible peso is considered equal to the US dollar, (1CUC = 1USD) and is almost exclusively used for tourists, and within the tourist industries. The National Peso is used among the Cuban people primarily for day to day living. The national peso is value is less (24CUP=1USD). The most important thing to know about being in Cuba for an adventure is this; Cuba is what I consider a cash country, I did not see credit cards or debit cards, everybody paid cash, so bring your own before you depart from your original country. There is not an ATM or bank inside of the Cuban airport and I did not see one during my five days of travel. As a single dad on a solo adventure, I was traveling on a budget. For me, I made a 5 day trip on 340 USD. Because I was going outside of Havana and into the country, I split my money, 300 CUC, and 40 CUP. I did purchase a small Hotel 2-night stay prior to arrival.
There are many options available for lodging, but typical to Cuba, there are a few challenges, if you are looking for an adventure. You can book an all-inclusive resort, which is easy, and if that's your style, go for it. Another option is booking a hotel through a third party website. Although not as easy, and lacking some amenities you will probably have a private bedroom, bathroom, and shower, you will also share a common space for eating and relaxing. The third and most adventurous would be finding a local Casa Particular. The Casa particular is best explained as what most people would find on Airbnb or a room to rent. All over Cuba, people offer rooms to rent. Keep in mind there are casa particulars for tourists and nationals. The Government requires a sign be posted to advertise availability. The difference between the two is the color of the sign, blue for tourists, and black for nationals. For my adventure, I pre-booked and pre paid for a small hotel on a third party site for the first two nights in Havana. Knowing that I was going to explore outside of Havana, during my days, I gathered intel about casa particulars north of Havana. I found several and the cost was minimal, only $20 CUC per night, in contrast to $100 CUC per night at the Hotel. The casa particular was a great experience for me. Not only was it cheap, but it gave me a good perspective of what it is like for the Cuban people, and a bonus the owner cooked me breakfast each morning.
To see Havana and other parts of Cuba it is easy to move around within the city, and my experience showed me that it is very safe and accommodating for tourists and adventurers. The most obvious way to see Havana is from a seat inside of a 50’s style classic car. A very popular tourist attraction, the cost is around 40 CUC for a short city tour. Just for getting around from place to place taxi’s are readily available, but I recommend negotiating a price upfront before you get in. I found a tourist bus going round trip to Santa Maria Del Mar, a beach about 45 minutes north of Havana. The bus stop is located at Parque Central in front of Hotel Inglaterra, the cost is minimal, one way is 5 CUC. A taxi will cost 20 CUC. The bus route runs all day and the last pick up from the beach back to Havana is at 6 pm.
Cuba is a unique place in terms of technology, they do have internet, however, it is not found in each individual home. The internet for most Cubans is found at the local parks or provided at Hotels. There is usually someone who walks around and sells an internet access card. The access card gives you one hour of time. Cost is about two dollars (2 CUC). The Cuban Government does not give subsidies to US-based cellular or Data services. Before you go, take advantage of google maps and download a map for offline use, and use other wifi for data usage to connect to the rest of the world.
My trip was for four nights and five days. Upon arrival, I took a taxi ($25 CUC). The cost was more than expected, but I did not see an alternative means since the airport is a good 20 min ride outside of Havana. I arrived about 8 pm at the Hotel in the Verdado area on the West side of the city, and since I only brought a backpack for a suitcase it took no time to put my things away and explore the city that night. I walked along the Malecon, a seawall protecting the bay for the ocean. The Malecon is a popular place as people go there to cool off from the heat and gather for music and dancing. The next day, I spent time walking around Old Havana. There are several Plazas of interest that gives a quick history of the people and culture before the revolution. Plaza De Catedral and Plaza De Armas, have beautiful architecture. Along the way stop by La Bodeguita Del Medio, the storied watering hole of Hemingway and other Celebrities. I took a final stop at an artisans market called Almacenes San Jose. This, in my opinion, is the best place to pick up a souvenir. While you're there find a pop-up shop selling fresh drinks using a fresh pineapple as your cup mixed with coconut or pina colada… !!! After two days and about 18 miles of walking, I was ready for some relaxation. I went to the beach and was very surprised at how beautiful it was. Santa Maria Del Mar was a great getaway, there are several hotels along the beach. This area is not commercialized and gave me thoughts of what a small beach town might have looked like in the 50s. At the beach, for 6 CUC I was able to have an umbrella and lounge chair for the day. Although there are hotels available, I chose to stay at a Casa Particular about 5 miles from the beach. I used the local bus system to navigate my way and must say. Speaking Spanish would have been a big help since it is easy to get on the wrong bus, I found from experience!!
This great trip had to come to an end. Reluctant to leave, the owner of the Casa Particular called a friend to drive me back to the airport. It is important to arrive 2-3 hours before departure. The departure process can take time. If you have any currency left over an exchange it after you go through customs. Be warned the airport exchange will not exchange CUP back into your original currency, again another lesson learned! Looking back on my adventure, I am glad to have had such a great experience. Cuba is a great place for adventure, my travels only scratched the surface. Havana is very safe, the people are welcoming, and there is a rich history and cultural.
One of my favorite desserts has to be good 'ole chocolate chip cookies. However, I love dark chocolate. I am not a big fan of milk chocolate. Therefore, when I make my chocolate chip cookies for my treat bags, I use Nestle Dark Chocolate Chips.
Homemade cookies are the best! A great little gift for your Holiday Treat Bags are homemade cookies. This particular batch makes about 2 1/2 dozen. I put three large cookies in each treat bag to spread the number out. I am using the same bags I bought at the dollar store along with my #DIY gift tags and ribbon. Such a pretty, delicious little happy gift for those you want to gift for make your day happy.
Here's the scoop of these delicious cookies:
Be sure and Check out the Other Treat Bags - Part 1 and Part 2 of The Series
Puppy Chow is a favorite treat that seems to appear at Holiday Potluck or Christmas Parties. It is delicious and it gives you that great taste of chocolate and peanut butter combined with yummy powder sugar. It also looks so cute in your #DIY treat bags!
I have found a new easy way to make it! Thanks to (ad) #GeneralMillsCereal for the invention of the new wonderful #peanutbutterchocolateblastedshreds. It is made with whole grain! It is consists of awesome chocolate and peanut butter in every bite! The best part is.........I found the box of Cereal at my local #DollarTree.
I decided to try it out with making my favorite #puppychow! It cut down my time and mess in half. #winwin
Here is the Recipe:
Pat's Puppy Chow
1 Box of the #GeneralMillsCereal Peanut Butter Chocolate Blasted Shreds - (I used 2 cups)
1/2 cup (or jar) of the Dark Chocolate Sauce from Fresh Market (You can use 1 bag of Dark Choc Chips)
1 cup Powder Sugar
Pour 2 cups of the Peanut Butter Chocolate Blasted Shreds in large mixing bowl
Put the jar of sauce in microwave for 20 seconds - this melts it and makes it warm or melt your Dark Chocolate Chips in Microwave for about 1 minute and stir until melted
Pour Chocolate Sauce over the Dry Cereal and Stir well
Top with 1 Cup Powder Sugar and Stir together
Let sit for about 15 minutes and you are ready to serve or bag up in your Treat Bags, add your gift tags with your ribbon and you have an awesome happy gift for a friend!
Have a Merry Merry Christmas!
It's that time of the year again! #hohoho It seems like it was just last week when we had Christmas last year. This year has been a whirlwind.
We have been super busy at my full time job. I am a Systems/Office Administrator for a General Contractor who specializes in Restaurant Construction. We have been in business since 1982 and we have done over 1,000 projects. This year has been a great year for us and we have been running crazy. L. R. Mourning Company is small based in size, but puts out volumes of great work like larger Contractors.
You might have read in the blog that I do like to cook or bake often for my co-workers. We have a little kitchen with a full oven (Betsy) and I love to make all kinds of treats, full meals, etc. I have been able to come up with all types of various granola recipes this last year. They are very popular at the office. I also have been giving them to some of my favorite peeps at the Starbucks that I frequent. They sure are appreciative of homemade goodies.
Each year I like to come up with a little gift to give out to my Starbucks peeps, Walgreen peeps, Panera, Newks...and so on. I love to spread the joy and love for those who have served me throughout the year.
This year I have made a batch of Peppermint Dark Choc Chip Granola with a touch of ginger to give it the extra special Christmas aroma. It is very tasty. This is a great little gift that is inexpensive for you to make to give out to teachers, hostess, co-workers or others that you want to give a little happy to. You can bag it up in cute bags, add your DIY gift tags and ribbon and it is really cute! BTW, I bought 50 of these cute little bags at the Dollar Store and they came with the twists.
It really is fun to spread the joy and love this Holiday Season. The recipe for this batch is:
I call this batch -- Peppermint Patty Granola
4 cups Quaker Old Fashion Oats
1/2 cup Organic Raw Honey
1/2 cup Torani White Chocolate Sauce
1 cup Dark Choc Chips
1 cup Peppermint Chips
3 Tablespoons Organic Cinnamon
2 Teaspoons of Pumpkin Spice (ground)
2 Teaspoons of Ginger
1 Teaspoon Pure Vanilla
1/4 cup Caramel - I used Torani Caramel Sauce
Preheat oven to 400 Degrees
Line Large Cookie sheet with Liner
In large mixing bowl:
Add 4 cups Quaker Oats
1 cup Dark Choc Chips (or 1 small bag)
1 cup Pepperment Chips (or 1 small bag)
Add in the wet ingredients - honey, white chocolate sauce and caramel sauce, vanilla
Stir and mix well
Then add in your Dry Ingredients - cinnamon, pumpkin spice and ginger
Spread out on top of the lined cookie sheet and Bake at 400 Degrees for 12-15 minutes (some oven vary) make sure and check - it will be golden brown throughout.
Take out of oven and let cool for about 1 hour. Scoop and place in air tight bags or ziplock bag. This will keep for 3-5 days. That is, if it lasts that long. It doesn't last more than an hour at work!
Enjoy and remember --giving makes your soul happy!
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