February 23, 2009

Child of the Mountains

I just read this post over at Annie's Blog and she is talking about the 20/20 show on "Children of the Mountains" in which Diane Sawyer, a Kentucky native, talks about the struggle the children in Appalachia face to have even the basic necessities of life.

I was born in Pikeville Methodist Hospital in Pikeville, Kentucky, so I am familiar with some of the areas Diane Sawyer visits. I still have a lot of family there and in the surrounding area and let me say that not everyone in the Appalachians fit the description, or better yet, the stereotype portrayed in this piece.

What they say is true. I have seen some of the places they were talking about. I have had family members touched by the addiction to the prescription drugs and the alcoholism they reported. I have seen first hand the economic disparity that exists in the hills of Eastern Kentucky. The poverty is real.

I realize that the piece was an attempt to bring light to a spiraling situation that seems to have no end for the young children born and raised in the hills to impoverished families. I in no way mean to demean the purpose of the report. It was accurate and hopefully will bring the much needed attention to an area that is often forgotten.

What I would like to focus on though is the heritage I have been given by my connection to my family there. I didn't grow up there. In fact, I only lived in the area the first five years of my life. But the influence is still very evident in who I am today.

I am sad for my own children who really will never appreciate how their ancestors built a life out of little or nothing. They will never experience visiting Aunt Elfie and Uncle Banner and using the outhouse, drawing water from their well or watching them throw coal on the fire used to heat their entire house.....in the late 1960's early'70's. They will never shop at a general store where the owners lived in the back of the store. They will never know a Will Pinson, an old man who had nothing in life but hard work, but still had a candy bar (albeit old and stale) for a kid from up north visiting her grandparents.

It amuses me that my kids shop "organic" at a big chain store or farmers markets when their great-grandfather had a garden near the size of our entire back yard. The size of his broccoli and the sweetness of his corn was a great source of pride for him. The produce he so tenderly cared for was not a hobby, but a way to feed his large family.

They will never see first hand some of the traditions that have long since passed on. I can remember when we would all be together for a big family dinner, all the men would gather around the table and eat first. Then when they were done, the women would sit down and eat. It wasn't as though the women were banished from the table, it was just the way it was. There wasn't enough room for everyone to sit, so the men got to first.

Coming face to face with a loaded coal truck on a narrow road on the side of hill will cause an atheist to pray out loud. And playing in the creek all day long catching crawdads is something that every kid should experience at least once in their lifetime.

One experience that will stay with me forever is funerals. Although times have changed, I can remember funerals of my great-grandparents where the body of the deceased was brought to their home and was laid out in the living room for three days. Visitors would call at the home and always...always brought food. There was so much food there wasn't room for it. Services were held every night. A service would include singing, without any form of accompaniment, and the leader would say the first line in a chant like tone and the congregation would repeat it in a tune like manner. All the while during the singing, people are going from person to person shaking hands. After the singing, two, three or four preachers would each bring a message. Not an uplifting "he's with Jesus" kind of message but a "get your life right or your a goin' to hell" kind of message. (Visit the web site Blessed Hope Services to get a taste of what I am describing.) On the day of the funeral, the body is moved to the church. Now in Pike County the congregation moves from church to church. My great- grandpa Maynard's funeral was held in Brushy Creek. My Grandma and Grandpa's funeral was at the Apple Orchard Church. But the services were the same, singing, hand shaking and preaching. After all the preaching was done the pall bearers would take the casket and carry it to the grave, if the grave yard was nearby, or it would be put in the hearse and taken to the cemetery where there would be a little more singing and a little more preaching. Then it was time to go back to the house and eat.

Yes, the hills and hollers hold deep devastation for some. But for me, they hold a wealth of memories I will forever cherish. I pray that the cycle will soon be broken for those caught in the trap of despair and hopelessness. What my prayer for those fighting this up hill battle is that they gain a victory over their poverty and lack of education without loosing their identity. I pray that the legacy they will leave for the future "Children of the Mountains" will be one of pride in their heritage, a strength to overcome adversity much like their forefathers, and new faith in the One True God that will be passed on from this point forward.

February 20, 2009

High Brow Living...

My mother has been reading my blog and has taken offense to a few of the posts. In particular the bread bag ordeal and her part in the chain of hair disasters that would eventually follow me most of my life.

Lest you think that all of my humbling experiences have come at the hand of my dear, devoted Mom, let me share an embarrassing experience that happened at my own hand....or slip thereof.

Let me explain. I have always been very sensitive, almost embarrassed, by my eyebrows. I thought they were as big as woolly caterpillars. I would barely look anyone in the eye. Honestly, grown men would die for mustaches as thick and full as my eyebrows were.

Being at the very critical age of 12 or 13, I decided it was time to get these mammoths under control. Being too shy and ashamed to ask anyone for help, I thought I could trim them up myself.

Now let me first set the stage. I grew up in the 70's and full wall mirrors were quite the rage. We just happened to have a wall-o- mirror behind our bath tub. (I just realized where my totally warped sense of body image came from.) Back to the taming of the brows. As I sat soaking in the tub, staring with deep disgust at the row of fur running across my forehead I came up with what I thought was a solution to my problem.

I grabbed my Dad's razor and proceeded with my plan. I took a little off the bottom and trimmed the tops. The right side looked gorgeous!! Thin and nicely rounded at the arch. I was feeling more confident already. As I proceeded to trim up the top of the left caterpillar brow, my elbow slipped off my knee and the razor removed exactly half of the inner part of my eyebrow. There I sat in a tepid tub of water with my beautifully shaped right eyebrow and half of a caterpillar on the left.

I was too shocked to cry and too mortified to get help from my mom. I immediately got out of the tub, got dressed and found my mom's eyebrow pencil thinking I could fill the barren spot in. Well let me tell you that didn't work, it was very conspicuous. Caterpillars have a lot of depth to them you know.

The next morning as I was getting dressed for school I had no idea how to deal with this situation. The best I could come up with was to part my very straight hair on the side and swoop it down over my eye making me look very mysterious I thought. "This will work" I thought to myself. Just as long as there is no wind and I don't have to move my head to the right or the left no one will know that a decapitated caterpillar lurks beneath the bang. That is until I got to school and someone asked me why I was wearing my hair like that? Quickly thinking on my feet my reply was "My Mom.....she is MAKING me." They bought it. Or they just didn't care and made mental notes not to fiddle with their own eyebrows.

After what seemed like months, my caterpillar friend filled back in and stayed stuck to my face until my late teens when a friend showed me the finer points of tweezers and plucking.

I wish I could say that now that I am older I don't care what people think about how I look, but that would be untrue. Because now my eyebrows are thinner, but the rest of me isn't and that brings on a whole other set of insecurities.



February 18, 2009

Reality Roll Call!!!

I don't watch a lot of TV, but last night I was glued to my chair. It was a reality show heaven. Just let me tell you. I am so tired right now cause I was up past 11:00 watching TV. I had to, I was drawn into the fantasy lives of reality TV. Let me fill you in.

First I started out at about 6:00 with an appetizer of Andy Griffith. I know, Andy Griffith is not reality...I just wish it was. Anyway, that took me up to the main course of American Idol with a side of Duggar's 17 Kids and Counting.

AI was so sad. Those people were up there just singing their little hearts out and winking and jerking all over the stage. But even with my severe lack of musical training or talent even I could see how bad some of them were. I felt so bad for them. It was really very sad, cause they all can sing way better than me, but not good enough to face "The Judges". Dawg, I just wasn't gettin' it. In fact I really even kind of felt sorry for the judges cause they were trying so hard not to be harsh.

There were a couple shining stars though. And the guy I am pulling for was the final act. Danny Gokey is not only a good vocalist, but seems like a nice guy. Ricky Braddy, Alexis Grace, Annop Desai were also good.

There are still 24 more to hear from and that will take two more weeks to hear them. After all 36 contestants have performed, the group will be pared down to the top 12. I will spare you the details of how that will be determined.

So during the commercials of AI I was flipping over to TLC to watch 17 Kids and Counting. It is the show about Michelle and Jim Bob (not any relation to the Jim Bob on the Waltons) Duggar and their 18 kids. Yes, they have 18 children and Michelle, bless her heart has birthed every single one of them. The show is called 17 Kids and Counting because the 18th baby was born just a few months ago....I imagine they will change the name to 18 Kids and Counting, but I'm just guessing on that.

Besides Michelle the mom and Jim Bob the dad there is Joshua, Jana, John-David, Jill, Jessa, Jinger, Joseph, Josiah, Joy-Anna, Jedediah, Jeremiah, Jason, James, Justin, Jackson, Johanna, Jennifer and Jordyn-Grace. Please be amazed that I typed those all from memory....not really, but that would be impressive!!

This week the older kids got to go with Dad to El Salvador to give Christmas gifts to the orphans there. I just love this family. The make their own soap, each month they buy $1200 worth of groceries from Aldi's, buy their shoes in bulk from the Salvation Army and still have time to serve the orphans in a foreign country. They are amazing.

So as American Idol/17 Kids faded into Toddlers and Tiaras my eyes were getting heavy, but I was NOT giving up. There was still some good reality yet to come. So Tods and Tiaras is about beauty pageants for little girls newborn to teens. Oh my gosh, Puleeeeze....there was a woman on there that took a 2nd job to pay for her 11 year old daughters pageants and all the dresses that go along with it and her Dad had to walk when he golfed 'cause all the extra money went to fru fru stuff and not the basic necessities of life such as golf carts. This young girl hung her heart out on the line just to take third runner up in a competition of 4 girls in her age bracket. How and why would anyone do that to their little girl? Don't we women grow up with enough self-esteem issues, insecurities and self image problems without dragging our daughters all over the land and parading them up against teeny tiny little sprites whose only goal in life is to become Miss South Carolina and maybe even Miss America? Really.

So the only reason I tolerated the ego pummeling of pre-adolescent young girls is because at 10:00 the season opener of Real Housewives of New York was on. YEAH!!!! These women crack me up. They are a bunch of women who are true legends in their own minds. I don't watch the housewives of Orange County cause there is just too much bleach, botox and bosom for me on that one. I watch the Atlanta wives, but the New York girls are my favorites.

First you have Jill, she grew up on Long Island and married money, so now she is a serious socialite.

Bethenny, is single. It appears as though Bethenny made a visit to Dr. 10121 (that is a zip code in Manhattan...clever don't you think?) over the break. She had way less waist and way more .... um....let's just say her string bikini top runneth over.

Ramona is just a ditz. A mean ditz at that.

LuAnn de Lesseps is married to a count which makes her a countess. She really has to be careful when it rains cause her nose is so high up in the air she could drown.

Then there is Alex and Simon. Alex is the wife and Simon is the husband and they both are some serious wannabes. They are pathetic little social climbers. They had to rent their home in the Hamptons while Jill, LuAnn and Ramona all own their summer get aways. How pitiful is that.

And now there is a new wife....Kelly something, I don't know. I was dazed by the time she showed up. I will have to pay more attention next week when the show comes on a little earlier in the evening.

So now you are all up to date on my Reality Roll Call. I'm going to bed cause I can't hold my eyes open any longer!!

February 14, 2009

Happy Valentines Day!

Valentine's Day.... a day set aside for love and romance. The Bible is just brimming with love stories. In fact, the Bible IS a love story. The best kind of love. The love of the Holy God of the universe that would sacrifice his only Son so that sin saturated people like myself can be made clean and pure and presentable to Himself. Yes, that is the very best kind of love story.

There are some verses in the Bible that are often read at weddings. First Corinthians chapter 13, verses 4 through 8 for instance. They are just perfect to reflect on as a man and woman begin their life together. They hold so much wisdom to help a couple/family through the good times and bad. They have that warm, lovey dovey feel to them that suits a wedding ceremony, but as I read them I see them reaching far beyond the romantic love relationship. I see them as needing to apply to every day occurrences. Let's take a look:

Verse four "Love is patient; love is kind." - Now absolutely we need to be patient and kind to our Valentine sweetie. But this verse needs to be applied to that disgruntled Wal-Mart clerk that simply shrugs his shoulders when you ask him where you can find the tapioca. How quick are we to storm off in a huff belittling this young man and spouting off "Back in MY day the customer was the priority." references. Do you think that Paul was speaking to us about being patient and kind to that person? Absolutely he was.

Verse four continues on with "Love does not envy; is not boastful; is not conceited."- Again, easily applied to the person that you share your life with. But it is essential in your day to day life with neighbors, friends and coworkers. It reminds us to keep our envy in check when our coworker achieves something that maybe we thought we deserved. Or, on the other hand, to accept our achievements humbly. Sometimes the way we succeed speaks far louder to others than the way we loose. We would do well to remember that it wasn't on our own merits we have succeeded, but only by God's grace.

Verse 5 - "[Love] does not act improperly; is not selfish;" - Love does not have road rage. Love does not stand in front of a young girl who has a candy bar and a bottle of pop with its grocery cart overflowing with a months worth of groceries. Love does not gossip. Love shovels your neighbors drive after a snowstorm. When we have an investment in someone, we find it easy to think of them in unselfish terms, but when it is a stranger, maybe even someone we have never even come face to face with, we are admonished to not be selfish with our time or our material blessings.

Verse 5b - 6 - "[Love] is not provoked; does not keep a record of wrongs; finds no joy in unrighteousness, but rejoices in the truth;" - It is easy to keep the peace and forgive and forget when it is someone that lives in the same home with you. But what about the neighbor who continually lets his dog out to do his business in your yard? Love does not gossip. (didn't I just say that earlier? Hmm....) Why are magazines like the National Enquirer or People so popular? Because we like to see others broken-ness, their failures. This is in complete contradiction to this verse. We should find no joy in unrighteousness. Brittany Spears fall from her self-made pedestal should not be considered entertainment for us. It should break our hearts.

Finally verses 7-8 "[Love] bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends" - Love has big shoulders. Love, with God's wisdom, sees the best in everyone. Love, knowing that with God all things are possible, hopes and waits through the very worst of times for the victory. And the icing on the Valentine Cake is the love of God will never end. His love is full of grace and mercy and will last an eternity. It is ours forever if we will only accept it.

Happy Valentines Day to all of you and your sweethearts!!

February 12, 2009

Happy Birthday To Me ........and Abe!!

For all the advances in medicine, there is still no cure for the common birthday. - John Glenn

Wow, 365 days from now and I will be a half a century old. Can't think of anything more to say than wow. Wow.

Normally I don't like to draw attention to myself on my birthday. I feel that Lincoln far more deserves the recognition than me. I have always felt a very close kinship to Abe. We are both honest. We were both born on Feb 12. We both were born in Kentucky. We both moved to Illinois. However, the similarities end there, I am not tall and thin with a beard and I used paper and pencils in school, not chunks of coal on a shovel.

So as I pondered over my last year being 40 something, I made a list of things I want to do before I turn 50 and wanted to share them so that maybe I will be more inclined to accomplish them. I was going to try to be all cute and say these are the 49 things I want to do before I turn 50, but I have only got a year left to do them all and I'm just too tired to do 49 things!!

So anyway here is my Birthday Wish List for my 49th Birthday. There is nothing on here even close to the emancipation of an entire race of people, but then again, I'm not Abe Lincoln:

1. Loose weight.
2. Completely pay off my credit card.
3. Build a water fall in the back yard.
4. Meet at least one new person a week.
5. Take a photography class.
6. Eliminate or at least drastically reduce red meat from my diet.
7. Memorize 25 scripture verses.
8. Go to Alaska
9. Organize my photographs.
10. Increase my vocabulary.

That's ten things to work on over the next year. Those should keep me busy!

February 10, 2009

Bambi the Birdseed Bandit

I have always suspected it, but had never had solid proof to confirm it. Now I do.

As part of the aging process, one is expected to do silly little things that amuse and occupy the one that is growing old gracefully. Over the last few years my diversion has been feeding the birds.

Now relax, I am not sitting on park benches tossing crumbs to the gathering pigeons.....yet. But I have hung multiple bird feeders about the yard. I started with one bird feeder out by my gazebo. Then came the finch feeder right up by the family room window. This year I added a suet cage and hung a much larger feeder in the front of the house. Now laugh if you will, but it is very comforting to see the different birds that visit my feeders. I see quite a few cardinals, chickadees, woodpeckers, doves, sparrows and finches. There have even been some that I didn't know what they were. That is the next stage...buying field guides to help identify the different species that I see. I'm not there yet, but I am sure it is just around the corner, along with bird watching clubs and vacations.

So this little hobby of mine had started to cost a little bit more than what I expected. Who thought that those tiny little birds could eat so much? But honestly as much seed as I have gone through, these birds should be as big as basketballs. Then I started seeing the evidence...the footprints. Deer. Lots of them too. But I had never caught one in action until this weekend.

Sunday morning as we were getting ready for church, I looked out the front window and see this.

So I followed them around the back of the house and right there in the middle of the morning, in broad daylight, in front of God and everybody they stop for a snack!!!

Needless to say as I sit here and type all of the bird feeders are empty right now. I have to go buy some more seed and hopefully the little birds will get some before the big, fat, stupid deer get it all. I'm sorry, that wasn't very nice. But neither is raiding my bird feeders. And if they stomped all over my rose bushes I am really gonna be mad.

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. Psalm 42:1

February 08, 2009


Congratulations are in order for my mom and her fiance', Charlie!! Charlie and Mom announced today that they are making plans and preparations to be married later this year.

I am happy for her because I know it has been a long, lonely road for her since my dad passed almost 5 years ago. Charlie is also a widower and experienced a similar difficult passing of his wife about 4 years ago. Neither my Mom or Charlie ever expected to find happiness again with another mate, but God is good and saw fit that they should find one another and begin to share their lives together.

As God would have it, they both bought condos in the same complex and met as they were out and about in the neighborhood. As cordial hellos grew to friendly chats over coffee then on to dinners and movies, their relationship grew. They both fill a need in the other for love and companionship. And the rest is not so much history as it is the future.

I wish them both much joy and happiness in the years to come. I love you Mom!

February 07, 2009

Kings and Paupers...

In my post about our trip to Chris and Kelly's last weekend I mentioned we took a break in the nursery painting and visited the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago. Now before I go any further, please do not think of me of some deep, intellectual person that lingers in or around places of higher education. I am not deep or intellectual. Nor am I a historian. I have given birth and a happy childhood to one, but I am not one myself. Because Chris is very passionate about his field of history, he sometimes shares some of what he learns with me, and as a result I expand my knowledge base by teeny tiny bits. I love it!!

In the Institute we saw some huge sections of sculptured walls of the palace of Khorsabad, that belonged to an Assyrian king by the name of King Sargon II. They were huge, and very well preserved considering the era they were from was around 717 to 706 B.C. That's pretty stinking old. These sections of wall are the actual, real walls that were excavated in the late 1920's. Only three other museums have parts of this wall The Iraq National Museum in Baghdad, The Louvre in Paris, and the British Museum in London. This was very important to me, because I don't like to get too excited over imitations or replicas!!

We also saw some lions that would have graced the walls on the way out of the city of Babylon during the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar of Daniel in the Lion's Den fame. There were about 120 of these lions that were lined up on this passage way but only two were in the museum. I found it interesting that the paint on these was still very visible. This was also interesting to me to see something that would have been a part the Bible times that I have read and studied about.

I thought about the men that had to do all the carving on that wall and how amazing it was to be there looking at it so along after they had done the work. I also appreciated the fact that all of that was done by hand with very primitive tools.

So as I am looking at all of this, and some of the other exhibits, I start to think.....what would people find from my "palace" over 2000 years from now? Will people know that the one red wall on the side of my family room was very fashionable during its time or will they think I was poor and could only afford enough paint that color to paint one wall?

Will they know that I never liked the laminate floor in the kitchen, but it was practical? When they find the hundred or more cookbooks, will the think I was a chef or catch on to the fact I just liked cookbooks?

How will they explain the multiple jean sizes in the drawers? Will they be astonished at the number of black shoes in the closet? Will my Vera Bradley purses be hung in temperature controlled cases?

Will it confuse them to find the antiques that I have collected and assume that I lived during the late 1800's? That would be hard to explain if they find the antique crock that is sitting right next to the flat screen TV. Will the fact that the washer and dryer is under the house puzzle them?

I don't know what they will find. Or if anyone would even care what some of the junk is that will be left behind. I just hope pieces of my house won't end up in some Midwestern Institute of the University of Tomorrow for all the world to see, especially if I don't get the new carpet I so desperately need.

So I guess there is no more question as to my intellect. It is simple and shallow. But what can I say, that's me and that is what I want my legacy to look like. Simple, sincere and genuine. I suppose it would be an honor to have a room dedicated to my life and all the things I had acquired in it, but who wants thier stuff to go to Baghdad anyway? Not me.

Yummy in the Tummy #4

Hmmm, this was good!!

1/2 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp salt
t/8 tsp pepper
2 tsp all purpose flour
4 chicken thighs skin removed (I used the boneless, skinless kind and also threw in a boneless, skinless breast)
1 1/2 tsp olive oil
Couscous cooked per package directions

2 shallots chopped
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbls chicken broth, divided
4 pitted dates, chopped
1 tsp all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp minced fresh cilantro

In a small bowl, combine the first eight ingredients. set aside 1 tsp spice mixture; add flour to remaining mixture and sprinkle over chicken.

In a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray, brown chicken in oil on both sides. Remove and keep warm. Add shallots to pan; cook and stir over medium heat for 3 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup broth and dates. Bring to boil. reduce heat; return chicken to pan. Cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes or until chicken juices run clear. ( I had to add a little bit more broth because it was getting too thick)

Remove chicken and keep warm. combine flour with reserved spice mixture and remaining broth until smooth; gradually stir into pan. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Stir in cilantro. Serve sauce with chicken and couscous.

February 02, 2009

Paint, Bellies, Museums and Football...

We had so much fun on Sunday. We drove into Chicago and went to church with Chris and Kelly. Then went to brunch at Kitsch'n. It was a very cute place but the food was only OK. Chris was far more intrigued with the hand dryer in the men's room than he was with the food.

After brunch, we went to get the paint for Little Man Cantwell's room. Now, you have no idea how important the choice of color is for a baby's room. We poured over the 136 paint chips that they had at the apartment earlier in the morning, and after lunch we browsed the rest of the 1013 shades of tan and green Menards had to offer. After much discussion and deliberation, we weighed the pros and cons of the Spanish Olive/Barley Wheat combo against the Sassafras/Almond Beige duo settling on the Sassafras/Almond Beige feeling it offered the woodsy feel we were going for while making the room as bright as possible in the absence of good natural light. After such a draining decision we all felt we should nap, but there was no time. Back to the apartment we went with paint, stir sticks and drop cloths in hand.

Grandpa Dano and Daddy Chris donned their painting apparel and dove right in. Grandpa Dano with a roller and Daddy Chris with a brush knocked out the three Almond Beige walls in no time.

To pass the time while this phase of the project dried, we took a little day trip to the South Side of Chicago. Our first stop was at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago. (I will be sharing more on this trip in a future post.) We then traveled over to Lake Michigan where Kelly wanted to get her 24.5 week Baby Belly picture. It is a darling picture, but I hope she doesn't end up sick due to her coatless pose in the frigid weather.

There was no more time for frivolity. Back to work ASAP. Grandpa Dano and Daddy Chris went straight to work on the Sassafras wall. In case you are curious, Sassafras is green. It took two coats of paint, but not much time at all to get it done. While the paint crew was busy doing their thing, Kelly whipped up a pot of chili. Thankfully she took the heat level down a notch or two just for us lightweights. Thanks Kel!

All the painting was done just in time for the kick-off of the Superbowl. We ate chili, chips, guacamole and choco chip cookies while watching the football game that was on between the commercials.

Then it was time for the tired grandparents to head home. It was a good day. I love days like that. Probably the thing I will remember the most about this day was seeing Chris on the ladder and thinking "My little boy is painting his little boy's bedroom. How is that possible?" Time has gone by so fast and I feel like I missed so many things about him. I have tons of good memories and some not so good. That all goes with being a parent. But I feel like there is so much more that I can't remember.

I have enjoyed beyond words watching all of my children grow and become amazing young adults. And even though seeing Chris step into his new role of being a parent is yet another reminder to me that my days of being the center of their world is gone, it is fulfilling. It is a blessing beyond belief to see him ready to take on the joys and challenges that the rest of life will bring him in raising his children. I pray that his joy and pride will be as abundant as mine has been. God has been so good to us and we know that it is only by His grace and mercy that we are blessed with these wonderful children of ours. I give only God thanks and all the glory for all he has done.

Grandma Dee got these for the 2nd generation Cornellian.

My little Boy.

No Dad, just paint, we don't save plastic containers.

Mama is craving COOKIES!!

Don't they look so happy?
I think it is because the Sassafras worked out so well.

Soon there will be a baby in our pictures!!

Yummy in the Tummy #3

Sorry this is a little late, but here are last weeks successes. They are very easy to make and the leftovers are just as good as the first taste.

1 lb lean ground beef
1 large onion chopped
1 small head of cabbage chopped
1 can (10 oz) diced tomatoes and green chilies
1 cup beef broth
1 can (8 oz) pizza sauce
1 cup cooked brown rice
1 can of sauerkraut (this can be left off if you don't like kraut)
1/2 cup shredded reduced fat cheddar cheese.

In a Dutch oven, cook the beef and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain.

Stir in the cabbage, tomatoes, broth and pizza sauce. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 20-25 minues or until cabbage is tender, stirring occasionally.

Stir in rice and sauerkraut; heat through. Remove from heat. Sprinkle with cheese; cover and let stand until cheese is melted.

Serves 6

1 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into 1 inch pieces
3 tsp canola oil, divided
1 large green pepper chopped
2 celery ribs, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 3/4 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
1 medium carrot, shredded
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 can (29 oz) Italian dices domatoes, undrained
1 bay leaf
3 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp pepper

In a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray, brown chicken in 2 tsp oil; drain. Remove and keep warm. In the same skillet, saute the green pepper, celery and onion in remaining oil for 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms, carrot and garlic; saute 2-4 minutes longer or until vegetables are tender.

Stir in the tomato sauce, tomatoes and seasonings. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered for 10-12 minutes or until thickened.

Stir chicken into tomato mixture; cook for 8-12 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink. Discard bay leaf.

Serve over cooked spaghetti noodles or rice.

Serves 6