Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Chicken Tamale Casserole

Today I want to share one of our favorite family recipes, Chicken Tamale Casserole!  I've been making this now for a couple of years, and except for Kate everyone loves it!  I love that it is not only easy to make, but tastes great, too!

❈ Chicken Tamale Casserole
1 cup (4 ounces) preshredded 4-cheese Mexican blend cheese, divided
1/3 cup milk
1 egg
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 (14 3/4-ounce) can cream-style corn
1 (8.5-ounce) box corn muffin mix (such as Martha White)
1 (4-ounce) can chopped green chiles, drained
Cooking spray
1 (10-ounce) can red enchilada sauce (such as Old El Paso)
2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast
1/2 cup fat-free sour cream

1. Preheat oven to 400°.

2. Combine 1/4 cup cheese and next 7 ingredients (through chiles) in a large bowl, stirring just until moist. Pour mixture into a 13 x 9–inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.

3. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until set. Pierce entire surface liberally with a fork; pour enchilada sauce over top. Top with chicken; sprinkle with remaining 3/4 cup cheese. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until cheese melts. Remove from oven; let stand 5 minutes. Cut into 8 pieces; top each serving with 1 tablespoon sour cream.

If you make it, let me know what you think!

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

The Halloween Of My Childhood

I have loved Halloween since childhood. I have many fond memories of various costumes I wore, usually the old vintage store bought ones with those awful plastic masks with the elastic string that always seemed to break. I recall going as Tweety Bird one year in a costume similar to this. One year I was Raggedy Ann, but my mom made my costume that year.  But my favorite costume was one I wore probably near the end of my trick or treating years. Kids of all ages seem to trick or treat these days, but when I was growing up there was an age at which it became less socially acceptable. After that we began planning parties, and many churches in the area hosted parties that older children were invited to attend. But one of the last times I recall trick or treating I went dressed as Holly Hobbie.

Even as a child I never cared for the scarier elements of Halloween, and I never dressed as a ghost, or even a witch that I recall, although I do have a cute black hat and some purple and white striped socks I like to wear just for fun these days. But my mom did always have a tape recording of scary sounds, like this,  that we would place near the window and play on Halloween night, along side a carved pumpkin.

And while I don't recall there being as many Halloween specials when I was growing up , I do recall a few from when my children were little, including The Pumpkin That Couldn't Smile, and Halloween Is Grinch Night.  I did find a few vintage cartoons that you might enjoy watching with your littles for a bit of old time fun.  The Headless Horseman, The Cobweb Hotel, and Skeleton Frolic.  Most of these old cartoons are from the '30's and I just love their vintage feel.

One of my favorite cartoons that I used to watch with my children each year, is Disney's The Legend of Sleep Hollow, narrated by Bing Crosby. I found a copy on DVD last year and snatched it up, but you can watch it for free at the link above. We've also enjoyed similar videos over the years, though not Halloween related, we did tend to watch them in the autumn of the year. These are from the American Legends series, Johnny Appleseed, and Paul Bunyan.  You might enjoy them, too!

Recently I was perusing the Internet Archives, and came across some books with a vintage Halloween feel, and you might enjoy looking through, as well.

- The Pumpkin Book
by Susan Olson Higgins
Full of Halloween History, Poems, Songs, Art Projects, Games and Recipes

The Best Halloween Book
by Lenore K. Dolan
Recitations, Dialogues, Plays, Exercies, Drills, Dances Pantomines, Songs and Games

The Little Witches Halloween Book
by Linda Glovach
Halloween Decorating, Cooking and Handicrafts

- The Penny Whistle Halloween Book
I have always loved the Penny Whistle publications!

- Witches, Pumpkins and Groaning Ghosts
by Edna Barth
The Story of the Halloween Symbols

I hope you have enjoyed this little trip down memory lane, especially if you are part of my generation and share some of the same memories. And perhaps I've introduced you to a few vintage, but new to you resources that you can enjoy with the littles in your life this Halloween season.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Dad And The Canadian Geese

On the back of this photograph, written in my grandmother's undeniable script, it reads;

Robert Owen, 1947

That would have made him fourteen, and fourteen years later I would be born. It's funny how time (and age) changes your perspective. As a child fourteen years seemed like an eternity, but when I look at this picture it just amazes me how much his life changed over the next fourteen years.  From a young teenage boy in small town Texas, to a young man who was married, a father and living in a home he owned in the suburbs of the big city.

I didn't mention the geese in my header in my previous post, because there is a specific reason that I included them. They were not part of the original image I found online, but as a little tribute to my dad, I wanted to include them. So I found a silhouette image and added them in and I just love that every time I look at it, I am reminded of my dad.

I am not sure at what age my dad became fascinated with geese. But my guess is that as a young boy growing up on a small farm, he probably saw his share flying high above in that big Texas sky. What I do know is that I swear he could hear them coming from miles away, because as soon as he heard the faintest hint, he was outside looking for them, calling out to me or anyone else to join him. Then he would stand, expectantly, until he caught first sight of them, which was always followed by,

"Boy, just look at them go!"

I can't even tell you the number of times that scene played out in my childhood, all I do know is that it seemed he never missed them, and he often remarked how beautiful they were.

As a young mother I recall a picnic we went on once at a local park, and how excited he was to find geese walking along the banks of the pond.  He hurriedly rallied the kids to show them. I don't recall him knowing a lot about them, all that mattered to him was that he found them beautiful and they fascinated him. My dad liked sharing the things he loved with the people he loved, geese and the stars!

It wasn't until after I lost my dad in 2008 that the geese took on special meaning for me. I read a quote recently that depicts it perfectly.

"You never know the value of a moment,
until it becomes a memory"

 - Theodore Seuss Geisel

After dad died, every time I would hear a goose honking it was as if somehow, he was nearby.  All those special moments I shared with him, watching a flock fly high over head . . . are now some of the sweetest memories I carry.

Last Autumn when Bill and I were camping in West Virginia, we heard a flock land near the lake pictured at the top of this post, and the next morning I stood in awe as they swept high into flight above me on to their next destination.  It was a moment I will never forget, sacred, really.

A few years ago Bill bought this beautiful wooden goose for me for my birthday. It may be my most treasured possession. For the time being it is safely tucked in a corner in our bedroom, though when I took this picture (from our previous apartment), I kept it in the middle of the dining room table.  But it topples a little and doesn't stand very steady, and I'm fearful it will fall over and break, so until I find a better solution, I'm keeping it in a safe place.

I'm hoping to see geese on our trip this week, and when I do I'll think of my dad. He never missed them, but oh how deeply I miss him!

We are out of town for a few days, camping, so I won't be replying to comments, 
but I do have several days worth of posts lined up, so be sure to check back!
I'll check back in this weekend!

Sunday, October 20, 2019

The Ordinary Days of Small Things Playlist

Just for fun, I've compiled a playlist of my top 12 favorite songs of all time! But before you scroll through and click, let me say this. I am fully aware that as far as singing goes, well let's just say Jimmy Durante and Louis Armstrong were not, shall we say, highly gifted?  Gifted yes, but as for singing, they would have never made it in today's world.

But these songs are from another time, when the world was, perhaps not simpler, but with a stronger moral conscience, in the the 30's and 40's, at least. Perhaps in the 60's at the height of the Vietnam war, we were struggling to regain a little of that morality.  

What I love most about these songs are the simple sentiments they communicate. What A Wonderful World is hands down my all time favorite song, it's even my ring tone on my phone. These songs encourage one to take time to notice "skies of blue, red roses, too", that "it's so important to make someone happy" and "when you smile, the whole world smiles with you!",which is at the very heart of the reason why I write. 

So I hope you will enjoy listening to this playlist.  Perhaps they are songs you are familiar with, and hopefully you'll be introduced to one or two.  Appreciate them for the sweet simplicity they convey! We are busy preparing for a short four day vacation in the mountains at the end of the week, but when I have time I'll compile them all in a playlist on Spotify and put a link in my sidebar. That way, if you enjoy them, you can just hit play and listen to them back to back.  But for now I've just linked to YouTube videos.

Louis Armstrong
January 1, 1968

Jimmy Durante

Steve Tyrell
Original release - 1945
Tyrell - 1999

Steve Tyrell
Original release - 1930
Tyrell - 1999
Also recorded by Louis Armstrong 
(another favorite!)

Louis Armstrong

Jimmy Durante

I've Got The World On A String
Frank Sinatra
Original release - 1933
Sinatra - 1953

Ella Fitzgerald
Original release - 1927
Fitzgerald - 1964

The Glory of Love
Jimmy Durante
Original release - 1936
Duranted - 1964
Also recorded by Bette Midler for the move Beaches

On The Street Where You Live
Nat King Cole
Originally written in 1956 for the Broadway musical My Fair Lady
Nat King Cole released an album in 1963 in which he 
recorded all of the song from the musical.

I'm Old Fashioned
Ella Fitzgerald
October 21, 1964

The Way You Look Tonight
Steve Tyrell
Original release 1936 by Fred Astaire from the movie Swing Time
Tyrell - 1999 for the movie Father of the Bride


Saturday, October 19, 2019

Favorite Poems - All Of Life And Love

Pumpkin patch in Delaware, Autumn 2018

I have loved poetry most of my life, and with each changing season there have been poems and poets that have resonated with me for various reasons.  But poems of hearth and home are the ones I love best, and the poem I am sharing below is one of my favorites.  

I first came across it some years back in a little book I picked up at a used book store, Poems That Touch The Heart. (It's available to borrow from Internet Archives, just click the link.). She also has a collection of poems she wrote herself, The First To Kneel, though I haven't been able to find it online. But this little poem so beautifully captures my own thoughts of home, and I wanted to share it here with you today.  I hope you will enjoy it.

Let there be within these phantom walls
Beauty where the hearth fire's shadow falls . . .
Quiet pictures, books, and welcoming chairs . . .
Music that the very silence shares. . .
Kitchen windows curtained blue and white . . .
Shelves and cupboards built for my delight . . .
Little things that lure and beckon me
With their tranquil joy, and let there be
Lilt of laughter-swift forgotten tears
Woven through the fabric of the years. . .
Strength to guard me, eyes to answer mine
Mutely clear. And though without may shine
Stars of dawn or sunset's wistful glow,
All of life and love my house shall show.

~ Catherine Parmenter Newell