Monthly Archives: November 2010

Never Blue for Thanksgiving

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“One of the good things about the blues is their power to make me feel better.”
Anonymous

Subject: Never Blue for Thanksgiving

I wrote this note in the subject line of the email. It was a reminder to our kids of the establishment’s name where we made reservations for Thanksgiving Day.

The Never Blue, a tapas restaurant in Hendersonville, N.C., served a spread on their holiday buffet that nearly stretched from wall to wall inside the historic building. There were more than 30 meal items from which to choose, and desserts were plenteous.

I wish I had asked the origin of the restaurant’s name. Since I didn’t, I guessed.

Maybe the owner committed to never being blue when she started passionately working as a chef.

Maybe preparing food for others drives gloomy thoughts away.

Maybe, since the theme is oceany and there’s a fountain, the name describes ocean water that is never really blue, but more bluish and aqua and gray all mixed together.

No matter the meaning, if only “never blue” could come true for all of us, for every holiday.

The reality is, sometimes holidays are the hardest times. For a wife spending her first holiday without a husband. A family who received a dreaded phone call. A friend in emotional or physical pain.

There’s no way to be never blue, so what helps when you’re feeling down?

The Never Blue
Hendersonville, N.C.

     

WRite wHere I’m supposed to be – Never blue is unrealistic, and pain serves up a life of purpose. But it never hurts to hope, and to aim for gratitude no matter the menu.

Pop Pop’s Fried Turkey Seasoning

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1 box salt
2 oz. garlic salt
2 oz. crushed red pepper
2oz. chili powder
2 oz. black pepper
2 oz. accent, optional

Mix well in a gallon Ziploc bag and keep in a sealed container in the fridge.

Rub on turkey 12 to 24 hours before deep frying in peanut oil.

To fry, heat grease to about 375 degrees and carefully drop in completely thawed turkey. Fry at 350 degrees for 3 ½ minutes per pound. Check temp with extra long meat thermometer. Cook outside.

WRite wHere I’m supposed to be – Wishing you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving full of S’mookies, cranberry, turkey and, most of all, a grateful heart.

Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce

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1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 package fresh cranberries

Bags of fresh cranberries are easy to find in the produce section during holidays or substitute with frozen though I’ve never tried this.

Mix sugar and water in a medium saucepan. Stir to dissolve sugar. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Gently boil for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Cool completely to room temperature and refrigerate.

WRite wHere I’m suppposed to be – Typing recipes at my laptop instead of cooking them in the kitchen since we’re celebrating our newest Thanksgiving tradition…eating out.

S’mookies

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Recipe for S’more Cookies

Thanksgiving is a time to pass along traditions. One of our family’s favorites is to bake cookies, sit around our kitchen table while the house still smells of them, and eat the warm snack with a cold glass of milk. If you plug in your mixer before me, add a comment so I’ll know whether to include this recipe in my cookie cookbook.

Peanut butter cookies:
2/3 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 1/3 cups packed light brown sugar
1 large egg, beaten
3/4 tsp vanilla extract

I’d suggest peanut butter cookies from a bag, just add egg and water.

Filling:
1/2 cup chocolate chips
2 Tbs unsalted butter
1/2 cup marshmallow cream

How to:
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly coat a cookie sheet with cooking spray. Mix flour and baking soda in small bowl. Set aside.

2. Mix butter, peanut butter and brown sugar in a medium bowl until smooth. Add egg and vanilla, beat until smooth. Add flour mixture and stir until combined.

3. Roll dough into 1-inch balls and flatten with a fork and bake 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand for 10 minutes. Place cookies in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.

4. While cookies cool, place chocolate chips and butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat about 1 minute, until just melted. Let stand for 30 minutes or until slightly stiff.

5. Heat marshmallow cream in microwave for 10 seconds to soften. Spread marshmallow on a cookie, chocolate on another and sandwich together. Store finished cookies in the fridge.

WRite wHere I’m supposed to be – Suggesting you try a recipe I haven’t baked – I know, should I really be doing this? Don’t answer. I didn’t have a choice since it goes right along with the recent S’more post. Just comment when you have them ready. : )

Home and Heart Renovations

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After: Kitchen floor

After: Kitchen floor

Before: Kitchen floor

Before: Kitchen floor

Of all the things I’ve done in my life, renovating homes has landed in the top two as being the most challenging, fulfilling, exasperating, exciting, and panic and passion-producing.

I’ve also probably learned more from my homes than just about anything or anyone. They’ve been a friend one day and a frustration the next.

I’ve laughed out loud because of them and, the next day, bawled my eyes out. We’ve sometimes had a love /hate relationship. I’ve sold a dream house and bought a dump. We have one by the beach and one near a mountaintop.

Every fixer-upper has lived up to the reputation of being “a money pit,” but not one of our six homes has ever let me down. 

They’ve been there every evening, warm fire in the winter and breezy fans in the summer, they speak up when they need something, quietly listen while I babble on and read aloud, and offer inspiration I may not have found by myself. They have felt safe. I always relate to them since they’re never finished, usually a mess, and creative in their own ways.

One of our homes was featured in This Old House magazine in 2008. Last week, our son’s and girlfriend’s home renovation was featured on This Old House’s blog. Our daughter and her fiancé are the ones who redid the tile floor in the pictures on this blog.

We’re a family of DeWalt-buying, Lowe’s-on-a-date-night going, caulk using, tool carrying, tile laying fixer-uppers.

What runs in your family?

WRite wHere I’m supposed to be – It seems we’ve passed on our heart for homes in need of tender loving care. Who knew the homes would give it right back? Thank you, God, that we’re a family renovated.

Did you know…? About Mike Sullivan, author of Necessary Heartbreak

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Mike Sullivan, Author of Necessary Heartbreak

Mike Sullivan, Author of Necessary Heartbreak

Mike Sullivan, the author of Necessary Heartbreak published by Simon & Schuster, interviewed with us a couple of months ago and is back to share some interesting, little known facts about his life. Thanks, Mike. We love it when you join our readers. For more, click here.

25 Things You Did Not Know About Me
By Mike Sullivan on Sunday, November 14

1. When I was 18 I felt my heart skip beats. For the next six years I complained to doctors that something was wrong. They kept telling me kids my age don’t have heart problems. Then, a doctor in New Jersey found an irregular heart beat. I’ve been on medication ever since. Since then, I’ve been skeptical about doctors.

2. My younger sister had a heart transplant at the age of 24. Someone dying gave her life for another 20 years, including giving birth to two boys. She passed away two years ago from cancer. I still talk to my younger sister when I’m down. I miss going to the Mets games with her (even though I am a Yankees fan). I rooted so hard for the Mets to get into the World Series a few years back because I had tickets. But we had some great one-on-one time. I can’t believe she’s gone.

3. I like soft, swirled ice cream. It’s my weakness.

4. I always had dreams that I would have two daughters. And I do. They are the sunshine in my life and the leading reasons why my hair has strands of gray. 🙂

5. I spend way too much time on the little mistakes I’ve made.

6. I’m not rich. I have lots of debt. LOL

7. I enjoyed serving at weddings when I was younger. I could spend my life going to these events. People are so happy.

8. I played the song “Badlands” over and over again when I was spending the last year in my father’s house.

9. I prefer to slow dance by a roaring fire with soft music on. I will be forever mushy.

10. I don’t like bothering people to buy my book. I would prefer to give it to you for free. I know it’s not possible to do it with everyone. It bothers me that I can’t do this.

11. I hate promoting/marketing my book, “Necessary Heartbreak: A Novel of Faith and Forgiveness.” See, how much I hate it! 🙂 Yes, this deserved a second reference.

12. I’m extremely grateful for the people who have entered into my life during this book journey. Many of you are tagged in this note, some are not. But I’ve been fortunate to have new friends for life. Your support is appreciated every day though I can’t keep posting it on your wall.

13. My smiling isn’t important to me. What is? To see you smile.

14. I like to hold parties for friends and family. I do so every holiday season.

15. I enjoy my alone time, whether it’s browsing in a bookstore, reflecting in a place of worship, or eating popcorn at the movies.

16. The first time I visited an airport, I witnessed a small plane crash. You can say it influenced me in the way I view flying.

17. I’m exhausted from explaining Necessary Heartbreak is the first of a trilogy and answers to questions come in the next book, The Greatest Christmas. It frustrates me to get a bad review due to this.

18. I’m more interested in becoming a great storyteller than dazzling a reader with my vocabulary.

19. I’ve been caught speeding three times in North Carolina. What is it with that state?

20.  My brother works for the FBI. So I make all my phone calls at payphones.

21. Kidding about number 20. There are no payphones available anyway.

22. There are many I’ve met here on FB that I wished lived closer to me. It would be a great day to have lunch, go to a movie or take a walk through a bookstore.

23. I was hit by a car at the age of 14, dragged for a block and dumped off the hood. The driver was never caught but there had to be an angel protecting me on my fall.

24. The easiest way for me to express myself is through writing. There are no walls surrounding my notebook and pen.

25. I’ve learned that reading a book is a subjective experience and it’s an honor that someone takes time to read your material. Through this experience, I have heard from so many people who have told me about their challenges. What I’ve realized is I’m very lucky. And never forget I’m here thinking about you, praying your day brightens.

Check out this LINK to Mike’s story on The Huffington Post about how he found Jesus.

Also, Necessary Heartbreak was named on the 2010 Best of Christian Fiction list by Library Journal.com.

Patriotism Reigns (Gold and Blue Star Mothers share)

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"Patriotism is not a short and frenzied outburst of emotion but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime."Adlai Stevenson

“Patriotism is not a short and frenzied outburst of emotion but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime.”
Adlai Stevenson

“The Iraqi women held signs thanking our heroes they call “martyrs.” They beat their chest and put their hand over their heart to show appreciation for what our kids have done for them,” said Jane Davis, president of the Upstate Blue Star Mothers that supports moms who have children in the military.

This outpouring of appreciation happened when Upstate South Carolina Gold Star Mothers, ones who have lost a son or daughter in combat, flew overseas last month and shared hugs with Iraqi moms who have experienced the same.

Hugs for Healing gives mothers, wives, daughters, sisters and friends from both sides of the battlefield an opportunity to sit down together. They share about how to unite, how to find peaceful solutions, and how to get through the pain.

For the Upstate mom who lost her helicopter pilot daughter when she was shot down, the trip presented a chance to stand on the soil where her daughter last stood and to experience some closure.

Jane shared about accompanying the Gold Star Mothers to Iraq. She hasn’t lost a child, but her son has been deployed twice so she recognizes all too well the risk of swapping her Blue Star title for Gold Star Mother.

Because she’s been instrumental in organizing funeral details for Upstate South Carolina men and women, the Gold Star Mothers told Jane, “You have to go. The trip wouldn’t be the same without you.”

WRite wHere I’m supposed to be – Today we recognize our veterans who, like the Gold Star Mothers and Jane, when surrounded by pain, choose patriotism over all other.

S’mores, the love affair between marshmallows and chocolate

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The Desperate Marshmallow Roaster (Idea and photo by Denise Hunt)

The Desperate Marshmallow Roaster
(Idea and photo by Denise Hunt)

Our family’s favorite pastime at our mountain house is roasting marshmallows in the fire pit. We used to straighten a metal hanger to do our cooking, but then came along marshmallow roasting sticks (I guess you can use them for hot dogs too) from Eddie Bauer. Now we’re cooking in style. 

~ Here are fun facts, quotes and recipes about marshmallows and chocolate ~ 

National S’more Day is August 10th.

The first printed S’more recipe dates back to 1927.

$13 Billion is spent on chocolate each year in the U.S. I’m not sure how much is spent on marshmallows.

S’more tip: Spread peanut butter on a graham cracker before adding Hershey chocolate squares and the roasty toasty marshmallow.

Some More S’more Recipes ~ 

The Elvis: The King made the peanut butter, bacon and banana sandwich famous. The S’mores version is graham crackers, peanut butter cup, marshmallow and a banana slice. Skip the bacon.

Grasshopper: Graham crackers, Andes mints, and marshmallow.

Turtle: You’ve had turtle tracks ice cream, right? Same idea. Just add caramel and chopped pecans to the original S’more.

Oreo: Chocolate graham crackers, marshmallow, white chocolate and Oreo crumbles.

Caribbean: Get a taste of the tropics with a Caribbean-themed S’more made of graham crackers, marshmallow, caramel and coconut.

PB&J: The old-school favorite with a S’more twist – graham crackers, marshmallow, peanut butter and jelly.

Fruit Burst: Add your favorite fruits to the classic like strawberries, blueberries and cherries.

~ And I Quote …

Nobody knows the truffles I’ve seen.
unknown

What you see before you, my friend, is the result of a lifetime of chocolate.
katherine hepburn

I never met a chocolate I didn’t like.
deanna troi, Star Trek: The Next Generation

My therapist told me the way to achieve true inner peace is to finish what I start. So far today, I have finished 2 bags of M&M’s and a chocolate cake. I feel better already.
dave barry

Strength is the ability to break a chocolate bar into four pieces with your bare hands – and then eat just one of those pieces.
judith viorst, author of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

The 12-step chocoholics program: Never be more than 12 steps away from chocolate.
terry moore

Life is like a box of chocolates … You never know what you’re gonna get.
forrest gump

The dark side of chocolate is best.
s. kim henson

WRite wHere I’m supposed to be – May your Fall be filled with bonfires, roasted marshmallows, and melted chocolate.

On the side: Stop by Facebook when you get a chance and like the page of  Author Denise Hunter.

Out of Charge

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"I think that maybe if women and children were in charge we would get somewhere." James Thurber (Photo from iStock)

“If you can’t control your peanut butter, you can’t expect to control your life.” Bill Watterson, author of Calvin and Hobbs  (Photo from iStock)

Out of charge.

It’s the Energizer Bunny retiring for the day.

No, it’s a charge card over the limit.

No, it’s me when really I want to be in charge.

The urge to take control was there the minute I hung up from talking to our daughter.

She was walking into the dentist’s office to have an infected wisdom tooth removed. I tried to share as much comfort as I could to calm her and to calm myself.

When the person in the car behind me honked, I realized I was holding up traffic at the green light.

It’s times like these these that act as reality checks for being “out of charge.” 

At the light, I thought “One minute things can be fine, and the next, life can be turned upside down.”

Also I thought “How powerless I am over what happens around me, which makes time with loved ones both fragile and valuable.”

I surprised myself with all this reflection over a wisdom tooth. Wonder if that’s where it derived its name?

Ever have those moments when being “out of charge” really hits home?

WRite wHere I’m supposed to be – Sometimes it feels scary to recognize we’re “out of charge.” It’s also strangely comforting when I realize who is.

On This Election Day … vote. leave the results to God.

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"Never talk religion or politics." Unknown

“Never talk religion or politics.” Unknown (Photo from iStock)

When I stepped into the voting booth this morning, it occurred to me I had no idea whether my parents were Republicans or Democrats.

Strange, huh?

I typically vote straight ticket and today was no exception. However, if Dad and Mom had been in line, they could have just as easily canceled out my efforts as supporting them. I would never know.

How did I live for most of my life in the same household or only miles apart, talk politics during family gatherings, and  yet, I can’t make an educated guess at their political preference?

The explanation likely lies in my dad’s 20-plus years of military service.

In our home, degrading the country’s leaders was unacceptable. Not that Dad didn’t believe in freedom of speech; he did. He simply believed we did our talking at the polls by voting. The results he left to God.

The joke I made to my husband, “I’ve voted, so now I can complain,” was just that, a joke.

What’s your stand on political talk?

WRite wHere I’m supposed to be – Dear God, remind me when I’m tempted to grumble and criticize that positive results come from positive action. Prayer, entrusting our country to your care, and quiet acceptance are dignified choices.