Thursday, April 30, 2009

Quail Hollow

Since the end of grade testing has been completed...
Since Mr. Sister is a volunteer...
Since I have free tickets to attend any day of my choice...
There will be no blog today.
Can someone say "FIELD TRIP"?!

Look out Tiger, Vijay, Anthony and Phil...Here we come!

Photo courtesy of

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Glad That's Over!

We completed our testing.

The garden has been planted.

The herbs are safely tucked away in their containers.

And the geraniums now adorn our stoop.

All the while putting in 36 hours at the hospital over the weekend.
Whew! I need a nap!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Professional Photography?

Well, maybe!

I received an email, last evening, from the management of AllRecipes. Apparently, one of my photos had been selected to be included in future marketing materials. All they needed was my permission to use it.


Of course, there's no compensation but it truly humbled me that I actually had a photo worthy of consideration.

I accepted.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Shrimp Tortilla Pizza for One (or Two)

I recently came up with a recipe based on a "Chef for a Day" challenge over in "The Refugees" group at Group Recipes. The challenge was simple: people suggested random ingredients until 10 ingredients total were listed. Then we were to come up with a unique recipe using the 10 ingredients suggested. The ingredients for this recipe were: tortilla, shrimp, cheese, white rice, black beans, Spanish olives, fruit, red pepper, red onion and sour cream. For my fruit, I chose mango as I had an over-ripe one handy in my fruit bowl. Fortunately, we could add any combination of spices, herbs and seasonings that we wished. The following was my effort.

1 10-12" tortilla

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon lime juice
a pinch of Kosher salt and a few grinds for fresh ground black pepper
1 tablespoon freshly chopped cilantro

6 medium-large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 cup sliced red onion

Bean Layer:
1/4 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Pinch of Kosher salt and a few grinds of fresh ground black pepper

Rice Layer:
1/3 cup leftover white rice
2 ounces grated cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons sour cream
2 tablespoons finely chopped Spanish olives, pimento included
1/4 teaspoon Polly's Signature Spice Blend
1 tablespoon freshly chopped cilantro

Red pepper slices
1/4 cup finely diced mango


Blend ingredients for marinade.
Add the shrimp and onion, toss to coat and set aside.
Meanwhile, place the ingredients for the bean layer in a food processer or blender and process until well blended.
Spread bean mixture onto tortilla.
Gently mix all the ingredients for the rice layer and spread on top of the bean layer.
Add the marinaded shrimp and onion.
Top with red pepper slices and mango.
Drizzle with the remaining marinade.
Bake in preheated 425 oven for 8-10 minutes.
Turn oven to broil and continue cooking for an additional 3-5 minutes, until bubbly.
Garnish with sprig of fresh cilantro and serve.

A spicy and satisfying meal! I hope, if you try this, you'll let me know what you think!

Monday, April 20, 2009


Testing in progress!

This is the week we are conducting our standardized testing. Our test of choice? The Iowa Complete Battery of Tests. I always say that the results will determine whether or not I continue along the homeschooling path. Wish us well!

(and yes, I do use that treadmill you see in the photo of Sweet Cheeks!)

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sunday Garden Update

Funny story:
Poor Mr. Sister broke his back clearing the plot of land for our pending garden.
No, that's not the funny part.
As I removed the big grassy clods of dirt, I would "save" the worms I found by throwing them back into the garden plot. They're beneficial to the garden, right? When we were thoroughly worn out we stopped for the day and went inside. Mr. Sister went back out to check on our work and spied a flock of birds devouring all of the worms I worked so diligently "saving".
Go figure.

Garden Party?

Mr. Sister and I decided we want a garden this year.

Last year I had experimented with an herbal container garden that was a resounding success! I loved my summer herbs and had enough to dry and store to last us through the winter months. My only failure was cilantro. It just wouldn't grow. I tried to grow them from seed. They would get about 3-4 inches high then die. This year I am planting actual cilantro plants. Hopefully they will fare much better. I did learn that they don't like "hot" roots so I will put them in partial shade. Another sort of failure was my did very well at first but went to seed awfully fast. I haven't figured out what I did wrong but will try again this year.

While at the nursery, Mr. Sister and I picked up 6 tomato plants, 6 cucumber plants, 5 slats of peppers...3 plants each of green bell, red bell, yellow bell, jalapeno and banana - probably overkill. We also picked up 3 cantaloupe and 3 watermelon plants. My son was quite upset that we chose his most despised veggies. He decided to pick up his own packets of seeds: giant pumpkin, corn and carrot. I don't mind as I will use this as the final/hands on phase of his botany class for the year. I'm also considering planting onion and garlic but will have to wait and see if we have enough space.

In addition to the fruits and veggies we also picked up our favorite herbs. My rosemary didn't make it through the winter so this year I purchased a big bushel of a plant. My sage and my oregano are having a hard time coming back so I purchased a couple of small plants of each. And, of course, I will be planting lots of basil as this is the herb we use most often. I picked up 3 healthy basil plants and will also be sowing some basil seeds, too. Fortunately my thyme is growing like gangbusters. Last year, I was talked into planting lavender. It never flowered and I had no idea how to use the leaves so out it went...I need the container and the space for the herbs we do use!

Upon our arrival home we took some leftover lumber and built a 12ft x 8ft raised bed (8 inches high). Shopping and building took up the bulk of the day. Our plans today include digging up the grass, roto-tilling the bed and, hopefully, getting the plants into the ground.

Anyway, here is where we have so far in our collection (the marigolds will be planted with the tomatoes to try and keep the critters at bay):

And this is our raised bed...It may not be pretty but here's hoping it will do the trick.

I am sure the rabbits, and other suburban wildlife, are really excited for us to move forward on this project. Any tips and helpful hints are always welcome by this novice gardener!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Come Sit for a Spell

This is where I'll be enjoying my morning tea on this beautiful Carolina sun shiny day.
Care to join me?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

River of Glory

My daughter cantored at the children's Mass on Easter Sunday. She did a beautiful job. However, I've had this song stuck in my head all week. I took that to mean that I should share with you. Enjoy.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Burial of Jesus

Luke 23:50-56

Now there was a virtuous and righteous man named Joseph who, though he was a member of the council, had not consented to their plan of action. He came from the Jewish town of Arimathea and was awaiting the kingdom of God. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. After he had taken the body down, he wrapped it in a linen cloth and laid him in a rock-hewn tomb in which no one had yet been buried. It was the day of preparation, and the sabbath was about to begin. The women who had come from Galilee with him followed behind, and when they had seen the tomb and the way in which his body was laid in it, they returned and prepared spices and perfumed oils. Then they rested on the sabbath according to the commandment.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday

Today's post will feature the beautiful and stunning art of Michael O'Brien. Michael is an artist and renowned essayist. His welcome statement, from his website, includes the following excerpt:

"In all my work I seek to contribute to the restoration of Christian culture. I try to express the holiness of existence and the dignity of the human person situated in an incarnational universe. Each visual image and each work of prose is an incarnation of a word, a statement of faith. At the same time, it asks the questions: what is most noble and eternal in man? Who is he? Why does he exist? And what is his eternal destiny? "

In Gethsemane

The Gospel of Luke


Then going out he went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. When he arrived at the place he said to them,"Pray that you may not undergo the test." After withdrawing about a stone's throw from them and kneeling, he prayed, saying, "Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still not my will but yours be done." And to strengthen him an angel from heaven appeared to him. He was in such agony and he prayed so fervently that his sweat became like drops of blood falling on the ground. When he rose from prayer and returned to his disciples, he found them sleeping from grief.

Betrayed by a Kiss

Peter's Denial

Jesus Condemned by Pilate

The Flagellation

The Gospel of Mark


Now on the occasion of the feast he used to release to them one prisoner whom they requested. A man called Barabbas was then in prison along with the rebels who had committed murder in a rebellion. The crowd came forward and began to ask him to do for them as he was accustomed. Pilate answered, "Do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?" For he knew that it was out of envy that the chief priests had handed him over. But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release Barabbas for them instead. Pilate again said to them in reply, "Then what do you want me to do with the man you call the King of the Jews?" They shouted again, "Crucify him." Pilate said to them, "Why? What evil has he done?" They only shouted the louder, "Crucify him!" So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barabbas to them and, after he had Jesus scourged, handed him over to be crucified.

The Crowning With Thorns

The Gospel of John


Then Pilate took Jesus and had him scourged. And the soldiers wove a crown out of thorns and placed it on his head, and clothed him in a purple cloak, and they came to him and said, "Hail, King of the Jews!" And they struck him repeatedly. Once more Pilate went out and said to them, "Look, I am bringing him out to you, so that you may know that I find no guilt in him." So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple cloak. And he said to them, "Behold, the man!" when the chief priests and the guards saw him they cried out, "Crucify him, crucify him!" Pilate said to them, "Take him yourselves and crucify him. I find no guilt in him." The Jews answered, "We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God." Now when Pilate heard this statement, he became even more afraid.

The Way of the Cross

Jesus Carries the Cross and Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus

The Gospel of Luke


As they led him away they took hold of a certain Simon, a Cyrenian, who was coming in from the country; and after laying the cross on him, they made him carry it behind Jesus. A large crowd of people followed Jesus, including many women who mourned and lamented him. Jesus turned to them and said, "Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep instead for yourselves and for your children, for indeed, the days are coming when people will say, 'Blessed are the barren, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed.' At that time people will say to the mountains, 'Fall upon us!' and to the hills, 'Cover us!' for if these things are done when the wood is green what will happen when it is dry?" Now two others, both criminals, were led away with him to be executed.

The Gospel of John


Jesus was led away , and carrying the cross by himself, went out to what is called the Place of the Skull (in Hebrew, Golgotha). There they crucified him, and two others with him: one on either side, Jesus in the middle. Pilate had an inscription placed on the cross that read, JESUS THE NAZOREAN, THE KING OF THE JEWS. This inscription, in Hebrew, Latin and Greek, was read by many of the Jews since the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city. The chief priests of the Jews tried to tell Pilate, "You should not have written 'The King of the Jews'. Write instead, 'This man claimed to be king of the Jews." Pilate answered, "What I have written, I have written."

The Crucifixion and Death of Jesus

The Gospel of Luke


It was now about noon and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon because of an eclipse of the sun. Then the veil of the temple was torn down the middle. Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit", and when he had said this he breathed his last The centurion who witnessed what had happened glorified God and said, "This man was innocent beyond doubt." When all the people who had gathered for this spectacle saw what had happened, they returned home beating their breasts., but all his acquaintances stood at a distance, including the women who had followed him from Galilee and saw these events.

The Gospel of John


Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, "Woman, behold your son"." Then he said to the disciple, "Behold, your mother." And from that hour the disciple took her into his home. After this, aware that everything was now finished, in order that the scripture might be fulfilled, Jesus said, "I thirst." There was a vessel filled with common wine. So they put a sponge soaked in wine on a sprig of hyssop and put it up to his mouth. When Jesus had taken the wine, he said, "It is finished." And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit.

All works are copyrighted by Mr. O'Brien and are presented here for the glory and honor of our Lord Jesus Christ. For further information regarding Mr. O'Brien's works of art, articles and essays, please visit his website at

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Holy Thursday

Gospel of John 13:1-15

Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come
to pass from this world to the Father.
He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end.
The devil had already induced Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, to hand him over.
So, during supper,
fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power
and that he had come from God and was returning to God,
he rose from supper and took off his outer garments.
He took a towel and tied it around his waist.
Then he poured water into a basin
and began to wash the disciple's feet
and dry them with the towel around his waist.
He came to Simon Peter, who said to him,
"Master, are you going to wash my feet?"
Jesus answered and said to him,
"What I am doing, you do not understand now,
but you will understand later."
Peter said to him, "You will never wash my feet."
Jesus answered him,
"Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me."
Simon Peter said to him,
"Master, then not only my feet, but my hands and head as well."
Jesus said to him,
"Whoever has bathed has no need except to have his feet washed,
for he is clean all over;
so you are clean, but not all."
For he knew who would betray him;
for this reason, he said, "Not all of you are clean."

So when he had washed their feet
and put his garments back on and reclined at table again,
he said to them, "Do you realize what I have done for you?
You call me 'teacher' and 'master,' and rightly so, for indeed I am.
If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet,
you ought to wash one another's feet.
I have given you a model to follow,
so that as I have done for you, you should also do."

Patio Furniture Pick Up

Mr. Sister and I finally found a comfortable and affordable patio furniture set. Where did we find it you ask? Costco, of all places! 

As many of you know, Costco is a "cash and carry" warehouse of sorts. In other words, they don't deliver. How are we going to bring it home?

Cousin Gail to the rescue! Her hubby drives a pickup so they traded cars for the day. We drove to Costco to pick up the furniture ourselves. Upon arrival we grabbed a couple of flat bed hand carts and headed towards the patio furniture section.

Boy, those boxes are a lot BIGGER than I remember! And HEAVY, too. We should have asked for help. Being a couple of stubborn middle aged women we resolved that we can do this ourselves! Now, how to proceed?

Gail had worked a short stint at FedEx. She was familiar with all of the proper loading/unloading techniques. Out of necessity, she took the lead and began maneuvering the top box (of 3) onto our cart. I, unfortunately, have never worked for a shipping company. I am not familiar with proper loading/unloading techniques. I was stupid enough to stand under the box. My thought
being that I could try and "catch" it to ease its fall. OUCH! The box caught me in my temple on the way down, knocking my glasses clear off my head! I was more shocked than hurt! I will, however, be courting a scratch and a small bruise for a few days. I did mention that I was stupid, didn't I? Good. 

After much maneuvering, shimmying and shifting, we (meaning Gail) managed to get all 3 boxes loaded onto our carts. Time to pay!

Another ouch! Furniture is expensive! The store manager then tried to sell me an "executive membership" since I was making a large purchase! Uh, no thanks, I just want my furniture, please.

So we have the furniture. We have a strap. We have bungee cords. Even with a pick up truck, there was no way we could fit all the furniture in one trip. With the help of a couple of young, strapping Costco employees, the box containing the sofa and trunk were loaded successfully.

Two round trips later my complete patio furniture set is home! Albeit in boxes and in the garage. Hopefully, this evening, Mr. Sister and I can break them free from their cardboard confines. I will update with photos when that momentous event occurs. Meanwhile, here is a sneak preview:

Oh, and many thanks to my wonderful cousin Gail! 
 Thanks Cuz! I couln't have done this without you!
I enjoyed our time together!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

And What is This?

I spent over an hour, yesterday morning, sweeping my porch. (Cough, cough!)
As I was sweeping, piles (and I do mean PILES) of the following substance formed. (Sneeze, sniffle, sniff!)

What could it be? (wheeze, achoo!)
This, my friends, is what accumulates on our decks, our cars and our clothes every year at this time. This is Carolina pollen.

This is the reason that NC is one of the top states for asthma and allergies.
Oh my poor, dripping nose!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Sunday Shopping Experience

Sweet Cheeks decided to take it upon herself and grow. Because of this she was having difficulty fitting into the clothes currently inhabiting her closet and dresser. This necessitated a major shopping excursion. Ever shop with a 14 year old?

SC: "No! I do not want to go to Kohl's...I don't like their's all so 'Goth'!"
Me: "Well, Sweet Cheeks, I have an additional 30% discount coupon. We are going to go there first to pick you up the basics"

We get to Kohl's and found a few layering tees and some cute "unmentionables".

Me: "Do you want to go look at the shoes before we head to the mall?"
SC: "No."

On to the mall. We were very fortunate to hit pay dirt and a pretty good sale at Aeropostale. Sweet Cheeks found a great pair of jeans and a blouse at 70% all their tees were 50% off. We got some excellent deals. Our mall experience is off to a grand start.

Ooooh. Free strawberry smoothie sample. Yummy!

Next stop: the shoe store. Oh, the agony! It has been officially determined that I like "old lady shoes". Sweet Cheeks, to her credit, however, was really trying to be cost conscious. Over the course of the next hour our conversation pretty much went like this:

Me: "Hey, Sweet about these?"
SC: *Insert look of horror* then "I like these, but they're too expensive."
Me: "Will you wear them? I refuse to buy a pair of shoes that you are not going to wear. We've been down that path before. That's when shoes are 'expensive'! Ooooh, how about these?"
SC: *Insert look of horror*

After finally selecting a black pair of Converse style shoes, our next mission is to find the perfect Easter dress.

Macy's: Lots of prom dresses but their Jr. dresses were, how to put this, a tad flashy and immodest.

Uh oh...I got sidetracked by Coldwater Creek. After a quick looksee, I leave, disappointed, thinking to myself that the buyer, for the local store, must like "old lady styles" (I'll stick to their on line catalogue.)

Passing by the food court we swung through in our quest for free samples. There are 2 Japenese places and one Cajun restaurant that are known to give away mouthwatering tidbits of their most popular dishes. We scored with some "tangerine chicken".

Dillard's: Disappointing. No selection to speak of. We took note of several "bohemian" style skirts and blouses, which were actually pretty cute but not Sweet Cheeks "style".

Me: "How about we go back to Kohl's? We never did look at the dresses there?"
SC: *insert heavy sigh* "Well, okay."

Back at Kohl's we found a wonderful selection of dresses. After narrowing it down to 2 choices, Sweet Cheeks chose a lovely yellow/orange/pink floral pattern sundress with a brown tie. We selected a cute brown, cropped, short sleeved sweater to go with it to make it church appropriate. We checked out after a little more browsing around the store.

On our way home, Sweet Cheeks revealed the following:

SC: "I'm so glad we spent the afternoon together. It was nice to have some Mommy/Daughter time"
Me: *insert big smile and a generous dose of gratitude*


SC: "I think I'd like to go back to Kohl's. I saw the perfect pair of shoes while there"
Me: *Heavy sigh*

Parting note for my darling daughter: Sweet Cheeks, I truly treasured our time together, too. Please realize that the above, although accurate, was written for humor's sake. I most especially appreciated being able to discuss a variety "heavy topics" with you. You are a delightful young lady who is beautiful inside and out! We do need to make time for each other more often. I love you very much!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Thursday Evening Reality Check

Many of the followers of my blog are fellow foodies. Because of this, I feel the need for the dinners that I showcase be of particular merit. You know, interesting ingredients, something a bit out of the ordinary or a new way of prepping a familiar classic. However, I am a busy mom and sometimes shortcuts are necessary. Hence today's dinner:

Now admit all do the same thing! And I know...what happened to the green veggie I always expound upon? In the words of The Pioneer Woman: "Just keeping it real."

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Turkey Meatloaf - Italian Style

Growing up I absolutely hated meatloaf. It was always this heavy, dense slab of meat with mysterious contents and a sugary, ketchupy sauce on top. Gag!

Fast forward a few decades: My husband does not eat red meat or pork...only poultry and fish. Trying to come up with new and interesting recipes became a challenge. We use ground turkey quite a bit and I thought maybe I could come up with a new version of meatloaf that wouldn't leave me gagging, but rather, our bellies full. The following has become a family favorite.


1 package ground turkey (20.8 oz)
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup diced onion
1 14.5 oz can petit diced tomatoes, drained
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 heaping tablespoon shredded parmesan cheese
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon each fresh rosemary and basil
1/4 teaspoon Signature Spice Blend
Salt and pepper


Very gently mix the above ingredients and place in a loaf pan. (Overmixing results in a dense loaf).

Bake in a 350 degree oven until thermometer comes out reading 160 (maybe 45 minutes or so depending upon your individual oven)

Remove from oven and allow to rest for a minimum of 5 minutes. Don't worry, it will continue to "cook" to proper temperature. The rest allows the meatloaf to "set".

Slice and serve with Pioneer Woman's Crash Potatoes and a nice green veggie.

If you really desire a tomato sauce topping do this: drizzle with spaghetti sauce and top with extra parmesan cheese during the latter part of baking. Enjoy!

April Fooling

My son, wanting to get a jump start on April Fool's, decided it would be funny to set all the clocks back one hour. I mean ALL of the clocks, including the computers. He was so eager to get us to notice that he kept asking: "Doesn't it seem like the day is going slowly?" Got to credit the kid for cleverness.

Update: My daughter just got me by changing my curser to a peeling banana! Does anyone know how to change it back?


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