Monday, September 30, 2019

In Dedication To My Grandmother

My mother used to say that it was a good thing my paternal grandmother wasn't born rich, because she wasn't sure she could snub her nose any higher.  Judging from this picture, I suppose you might believe that's true. But's that's not how I remember her, at least, not entirely.  It's true, she was a proud woman, and it is likewise true that it was that very pride that drove a rift between us that remained un-mended until her death. A staunch believer and defender of the doctrine of the Church of Christ, at the tender age of eighteen I had the audacity to fall in love with and marry a Baptist, and in a Baptist church, no less. She refused to come to my wedding, and never spoke to me again. Being young, and a bit haughty and proud myself, I dug in my heels and pretended not to care.  Before it occurred to me that I might regret that decision, it was too late.

In the years that have passed since her death, twenty-eight of them to be exact, I've come to realize more and more how very alike we are, both the good and the bad. In addition to her stubborn pride, I have her looks, her wit and most importantly, her love of home. My grandmother mastered the art of humble beauty. She never had much, but she knew how to set a pretty table, fluff the cushions on the worn couch, and there was always something blooming by the front door to greet you. And though I wish now that I'd learned the art of forgiveness a bit younger in my life, I'm thankful for the memories I do carry.

I've made peace with my pain, and I like to think that she had, too. Last year, my cousin sent me a picture of her that was taken shortly before she died. She was sitting on that same well, worn couch that I remembered from my childhood, and there on the table beside her was a picture of me, in my wedding dress, no less. I guess her pride wouldn't let her say, "I'm sorry", or perhaps I never gave her the chance, but she still kept my picture nearby, and for that, I am thankful.

My grandmother lived her entire life in Keller, Texas, on a small farm as a child, and later in a rickety old white house in town. Judging by the way she and my grandfather are dressed in this picture, and the corsage, I'd say this was either Easter or Mother's Day.  And yes, she is boasting a prideful smile. She is proud of her beautiful corsage (most likely given to her by my father), for her clean and freshly pressed dress, and for her dapper husband in his linen suit.  As I said, she never had much, but she did take pride in the little she had. She cared for it, tended it, made-do and made last, and I'm grateful for the spirit she exemplified.

This blog is dedicated to her,  To white lace curtains blowing in the window on summer days, to gingerbread in the oven on winter evenings, and to all the million humble, little things that bring beauty to our ordinary days.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Santa Fe Chicken Tortilla Soup

Today I want to share a recipe that has been in our family for a L-O-N-G time and is a family favorite, Santa Fe Chicken Tortilla Soup!  My mom made this recipe for years, though I am not sure where she found it originally.  She had a number of those self published church cook books, and most of the recipes you find in them are top notch!  So perhaps it was in one of those. At any rate, this is my go to chicken soup recipe. Just enough spice to give it flavor, but not so much that it's too spicy for those with a more sensitive palette.  In fact, I usually throw in a splash of cayenne when I make up a batch.

I've been nursing a head cold (allergies), most of the week, and while I love this recipe, it's the perfect remedy if you're under the weather, especially with a cold or the flu.  I like to make up a big batch and then freeze them in individual portions to have on hand in the event that one of us comes down with something, especially this time of year.  In addition to being flavorful, it's also SUPER easy, which is a great thing if you are feeling a little less than your best but still need to put dinner on the table!

So without further delay, here is the recipe!

Santa Fe Chicken Tortilla Soup

2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
4 carrots, cut matchstick style
1 medium onion, chopped
3 whole boneless chicken beasts, cut into bite size pieces
1 (4 oz) can Mexican tomatoes
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
1 1/2 c. frozen corn
6 c. chicken broth (3 cans)
Tortilla Chips, broken

Put oil, vegetables, except corn, and chicken into a large soup pot. Cook over medium heat until chicken is done; reduce heat to medium-low and add tomatoes. Cook for 5 minutes. Add cumin, corn and broth; raise heat. Bring to a boil uncovered; reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in juice of one lime just before serving. Serve with broken tortilla chips and lime wedges.

I encourage you to put this one on your rotation this fall and winter!  Once you've tried it, you'll be hooked!

~ Enjoy

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

The Autumn Day Keeper - FREE DOWNLOAD!

I posted about my Autumn Day Keeper on Instagram a few days ago, and since then I've have several people ask if I planned to make it available to purchase? But, I've decided to make it even better, how about **FREE**!!!  Just click on the link above to download your copy!

This has truly been a work of love, but before you go thinking I'm the Seasonal Planning Queen, let me just say that crown rests firmly on the head of my dear friend, Dawn.  Though like Dawn, I've long been a fan of seasonal living, she has truly been an inspiration in my life for several years now.  A few of the forms that you'll find in my planner were inspired by her, though I have tweaked things a little to make it my own.  But, if you like my planner, then I know you'll love Dawn's offerings as well, and did I mention that her resources are also FREE ! So hop on over and pay her a visit!

This planner is the first of four season keepers, beginning with my favorite season, Autumn!  It is 32 pages long, and to be honest, I wanted to include more and hopefully next year I'll have it exactly the way I want it!  But for now I think there's enough here to inspire you live out this beautiful season with attention and intention!  Here's what you'll find inside . . .

AUTUMN - this lovely page is one that was inspired by Dawn, where I've listed an entire page worth of things that I love about this season.  Some of the things I've listed are traditions that our family has observed for more than twenty years, so while it's personal, I hope you might find a few ideas to include in your seasonal celebrations as well.

 Autumn's Daily Rhythm - It's true that with the changing of the season, return to school, and the shortening of daylight, our routines and rhythms begin to change.  This page is a place to collect your thoughts and think through how you would like for the rhythm of your days and weeks to flow.

 Autumn To-Do List - Like our daily and weekly rhythms, there are things that make our to-do-lists that are unique to each season, such as raking leaves, packing lunches, and fun bucket-list ideas as well.  This is a place to brainstorm all that you **hope** to accomplish this season, and if you're like me, hopefully get around to maybe half of them, which is fine, because that's more than you would accomplish if you didn't take the time to think it through!

 Autumn Ideas and Inspiration - I use this page to move Pinterest to paper, so to speak.  I have so-many-things pinned on my Pinterest board, that often the really neat ideas get lost in the shuffle.  So every now and then I like to sit down and scroll through my boards and jot down a few ideas that I really want to try! Kind of like the to-do list, if I write it down and plan it, it's much more likely to get done!

And then you'll find the monthly pages which covers

S E P T E M B E R  ❈  O C T O B E R    N O V E M B E R

Each month includes 
 Month At A Glance - which is similar to the monthly posts I used to write up every month and post.  It includes some fun, and rather, unconventional holidays that you can celebrate with your family, Talk Like a Pirate Day, or National Pizza Day, which is an easy one to celebrate, just order a pizza!

 Small Things to Love About Each Month
This is a monthly page that was inspired by Dawn, although in keeping with the "Small Things" theme of my blog, this is a place, much like the Autumn page which I've already completed, where you can list all the small, little things you love about each month..

 Special Ways to Celebrate Ordinary Days Each Month
If the Month at a Glance pages are not enough, or if you have other ideas for small celebrations you'd like to incorporate into your days, this is the place to dream!  It's also a good place to include any upcoming family birthdays, anniversaries or other celebrations in your family.

 Tending Home and Hearth
There is a page for each month, where you can write down any ideas you have for preparing your home for the season and the upcoming holidays.

 Gardening and Nature Notes
Much like the Home and Hearth page, this is where you can write down your seasonal gardening ideas, and make note of the seasonal changes in nature.

 In Season and Recipes
- Is where you can keep a list of produce that is peak in this season, as well as any seasonal recipes that inspire you.

 Menu Plans
- And, to help you put those seasonal recipes to work, I've included a calendar for each month where you can jot down your plan. You could also look through the "At A Glance" page for the month and plan a few fun food related celebrations!

And that's it! A framework to help you to slow the season a little, and take in what each lovely month has to offer.  I've dotted the pages here and there with some of my favorite season poems to add a bit of loveliness, as well.

My plan, eventually, is to include an entire section dedicated seasonal folklore, poems, quotes and small passages from my favorit books, as well recipes and craft ideas for each season.  If I am able, and hopefully I'll be able to include that in the Winter Season Keeper which I will have available for download the day after Thanksgiving!  It will cover, December, January and February, so if you liked the Autumn Season Keeper, be sure to watch for it.

If you do decide to download and print a copy for your own use, please drop a comment and let me know, especially if you have suggestions or questions!  I'm always looking to improve things and for ideas and inspiration for living intentionally in each season!

Until then, friends, savor the days!