Friday, October 30, 2009

Start spreading the news.


This morning I leave for a weekend in New York. Robert is already up there on business, and I will meet him in the city after my flight lands. Tomorrow Robert's twin brother and his wife are joining us, and Sunday Robert and his brother are running the NYC Marathon!


It promises to be a fun weekend. Stay tuned for details.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Delightful lunch.


Yesterday I met the ever-charming Hopsy from Monograms and Manicures for lunch at a local French bistro that specializes in soufflés. We had a wonderful visit over some quite delicious food. She and I talked for over two hours and could have chatted longer if carpool and work duties hadn't called us back to the real world.

Thanks for meeting me, Hopsy! Hope to see you again very soon.


The pièce de résistance was this fabulous Grand Marnier soufflé that we shared for dessert

Monday, October 26, 2009

Celebrating Katie.

Overlooking the gorge in Tallulah Falls, Georgia

I hope it isn't in bad taste to share these pictures.

I flew to Atlanta Saturday evening. My sister, Marian, drove up from South Georgia and picked me up at the airport. We had a nice dinner in Atlanta that night and then drove up to North Georgia Sunday morning.

Katie's family lives in a tiny town in the mountains in North Georgia. Their community has been wonderfully supportive during Katie's illness, and they turned out in droves to pay tribute to Katie at her service and at a potluck gathering afterward that was planned as a celebration of Katie's life.

Marian and I arrived early enough to visit with my cousin Wendy (Katie's mom) and my aunt and uncle and other family members for a while before riding with them to the graveside service. We weren't able to stay very long at the picnic because I had to catch a flight back home, but there were going to be yodelers and musicians who'd been favorites of Katie's performing in addition to lots of food and fellowship.

Because her brain tumor was a type that does not metastasize, Katie was able to be an organ donor. We also learned that Katie's mom is expecting a baby in the spring. So amidst great sadness, there were rays of hope as well.

It was a privilege to witness the outpouring of love that this precious little girl inspired. I thank God for sweet Katie.

My Uncle Terry and my sister Marian at the Tallulah Falls Cemetary

Everyone chose a flower from these galvanized vases to hold during the service


This man sang a beautiful rendition of
Beulah Land

After the service there was a celebration of Katie's life at the Tallulah Falls Bluegrass Festival area

Over a hundred people from around the country and the world sent beads for a beading party that was planned for Katie's birthday last month. There were tables at the celebration for Katie's friends to make necklaces and bracelets in her memory

People brought lots and lots of delicious food

The weather was absolutely gorgeous

My cousin Wendy (Katie's mom) and my sister Marian (Wendy was wearing a necklace that Katie made for her)

Marian and me (Wendy requested that guests wear Katie's favorite bright colors)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Halloween decorations.


The Mrs. at One Fabulous Mom tagged me to share my Halloween decorations. Halloween is not my favorite holiday - I'm not a fan of anything scary - but I do have a few cute things that I put out every October.

This little guy sits on the chest in my entry hall to create people as they come in our house

These little friends are new this year. They're on the skirted roundtable in our den

This pumpkin is the kids' favorite. He sits on the bar in our kitchen and has fiberoptic lights around his cut-out face and on the edge of the leaves on his head that change colors. The lights don't photograph well but are cool!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


September 26, 1999 - October 20, 2009

My sweet cousin Katie died tonight.

I am so very sad. Even though I trust that Katie is in the arms of our Heavenly Father and is suffering no more, this is such a tremendous loss.

Katie was a precious little girl. Please pray for her family.

Katie on her Make-a-Wish trip to Hawaii last month

Katie in Hawaii with her mom, Wendy, her sister Arielle, her Aunt Jenna and her cousin Emily, September 2009

Hockey Boy and Dots with cousins Katie and Emily, August 2009

Katie with her Aunt Jenna and me, August 2009

Monday, October 19, 2009

Wrap it up.


I hosted my Book Club here a few weeks ago. I served some Turkey, Spinach, Blue Cheese and Cranberry Wraps from our current Cooking Club selection, Peace Meals. They were fabulous! A wonderful combination of flavors and textures and a perfect fall lunch dish.


Turkey, Spinach, Blue Cheese and Cranberry Wraps

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1½ tablespoons buttermilk
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced onion
4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
½ cup chopped pecans, toasted
¾ cup dried cranberries, coarsely chopped
8 (8-inch) tortillas
8 slices roasted turkey breast
½ cup prepared roasted raspberry chipotle sauce (I use the Fischer and Weiser brand that is available at my local grocery store)
1-2 medium Granny Smith apples, cored and thinly sliced
2 medium carrots, shredded
3 cups baby spinach

Combine the cream cheese, buttermilk, garlic, garlic and onion in a medium bowl. Add the blue cheese, pecans and cranberries and stir to combine. Spread the mixture evenly over each tortilla; layer with the turkey, chipotle sauce, apple slices, shredded carrots and spinach. Roll each tortilla tightly and use toothpicks to secure. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate up to 4 hours. Slice on the diagonal to serve.

Eloise's note: my tortillas were too small (or too stuffed) to roll tightly so I did not use toothpicks. I just rolled each wrap as best as I could and wrapped it in Saran Wrap. After the wraps were refrigerated, they held their shape pretty well, so I removed them from the plastic wrap and wrapped each one in parchment paper and served them in a basket. I did not attempt to slice them on the diagonal.

Equally well received was the tomato soup that I served with the wraps. This recipe came from my friend Carrie at Buzzings of a Queen Bee.

Heaven in a Bowl

6 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 (46-ounce) bottle of tomato juice
2 (14-ounce) cans diced tomatoes, undrained
2 tablespoons chicken base (I use a brand called Better than Bouillon, recommended to me by my friend JoAnn at Every Day Matters)
3 tablespoons sugar
1 cup sherry
1½ cups heavy cream
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a large soup pot. Sauté the onions in the butter until they are translucent. Add diced tomatoes and tomato juice then purée with immersion blender. Stir in chicken base and sugar. Bring to a near boil, then turn off heat. Stir in sherry and cream. Turn heat back on low and add parsley and basil. Let all the flavors cook and blend together, making sure not to scorch the soup. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Vivian speaks.

I got a new toy today: a Flip video camera. I played around with it tonight and took this video of Vivian coloring. I thought some of you might enjoy hearing her sweet little voice.

Note: Our puppy, Tucker, was sitting in my lap as I filmed.

Helping a friend.


My sweet friend Christie has been waiting for 3½ years to adopt a baby from China. Finally she and her husband are within a month of receiving their referral, and they are holding a garage sale to raise some of the funds needed to bring their daughter home.

This weekend Dots, Vivian, Tucker and I loaded up my car with the fruits of some recent closet cleanings and drove to Christie's home to donate them to her garage sale. We enjoyed seeing Christie and her husband, Anton, and meeting their precious son, Quint, whom they adopted from Ethiopia last year.

Best wishes with your sale, Christie! We look forward to hearing happy news from you soon.

To read more about Christie and her journey to her daughter, go to:

Bushel and a Peck

Bringing Keira Home

Monday, October 12, 2009

Banana bread.


For two summers in college, I lived with a family in Atlanta and took care of their children while their mother, Laura, who was an author, did research and wrote. These were wonderful times for me, as I enjoyed planning activities, crafts and outings with the children, I loved being around my high school friends again in my free time (my own family had moved to Houston at this point), and I learned so much about cooking and baking from Laura.

Laura prepared everything from scratch. She baked her own bread, grew vegetables and herbs in her backyard and made the most wonderful pies and cookies. Her kitchen was so warm and welcoming, and wonderful aromas continually wafted through her home.

My standard banana bread recipe came from Laura. I love it because not only does it produce delicious banana bread, but all of the ingredients are things I always have on hand (as long as I have some ripe bananas) so I'm able to prepare it without making a special trip to the store.

My children have consumed countless loaves of this banana bread. When they were in preschool, Dots and Hockey Boy would request that I bring banana bread when it was their turn to provide the snack. Their little classmates would gobble it right up! It is also one of Vivian's favorite foods. I have to keep a close watch on the loaves as they're cooling or Vivian will come by and *sample* them.

We have new neighbors across the street, so this weekend I prepared some banana bread to take to them. Here is the recipe:

Banana Bread

½ cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1½ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
¹⁄₈ teaspoon salt
3 ripe bananas, mashed
¼ cup chopped pecans (which I usually omit)

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time and mix well. Sift together flour, soda and salt. Add about ⅓ of the flour mixture, blend well, then add about ⅓ of the mashed bananas and blend well. Continue alternating the flour and bananas until you've added all of them. Stir in nuts, if using them. Turn into 3 small greased and floured loaf pans. Bake at 300° for 45 minutes. Cool in pans for a few minutes then turn out onto waxed paper or wire rack to finish cooling.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Time waster.

...and excuse for inattention to blogging

Tucker - 11 weeks old

Monday, October 5, 2009

Happy Birthday, Hockey Boy!


Today is Hockey Boy's 18th birthday.

Egad, where does the time go? It seems like just yesterday I was in the hospital filling out his birth certificate information and applying for his Social Security number, and this morning he mailed off his voter registration form and signed up for Selective Service.

Last night we went to Benihana's to celebrate. We have been going there for Hockey Boy's birthday since 1998!

I am a very sentimental person and looking through old pictures lands me in a puddle of tears most of the time. It took me weeks to get together the baby pictures for Hockey Boy's senior yearbook ad because I fell apart every time I pulled out his baby book and our old photo albums. But I managed to locate several years of Benihana's birthday dinner pictures without deteriorating into a state of weepiness and decided it would be fun to share them here.

1998 - 7 years old

1999 - 8 years old

2003 - 12 years old

2004 - 13 years old (with braces!)

2006 - 15 years old

2007 - Sweet Sixteen

Benihana 2009
2009 (taken with my phone - I brought my camera but left its memory card at home - sigh - Hockey Boy isn't the only one who's aging)

Happy Birthday, Hockey Boy! I hope you never get too old to celebrate at Benihana's with your family and friends.

Sunday, October 4, 2009



Hockey Boy's high school had Homecoming last weekend. He invited a friend and they joined up with a group of couples that was planning to eat dinner at one of the boys' houses before the dance.

I met with the other mothers to plan the evening. It took quite a bit of organization and work on our part, but everything came together so well! One of the senior girls in attendance told us it was the nicest homecoming she'd ever attended. Even the maternal-compliment- stingy Hockey Boy acknowledged that the dinner was *nice* and the food *amazing.* Their praise made our efforts worthwhile.

Their group met a park for pictures before dinner

We had a wedding to attend that night so a friend sent me pictures of dinner from her cell phone. I made the menus and placecards and also lent my silver and some folding chairs

Hockey Boy and friends during the *mocktail* time before dinner

One of the moms arranged for her corporate chef to cater the kid-friendly meal

A lovely evening!


First Course
Caesar salad with sliced baguettes and grilled shrimp

Grilled strip loin steak with chef's sauce
Twice~baked potato
Vegetable medley

Brownie topped with whipped cream and strawberry garnish