Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Ladies Day Recipes: Crab Cake Menu in Delaware

One of the delights of travelling to different parts of the country for ladies events is sampling the local cuisine. In the spring I was treated to a delicious meal of crab cakes, strawberry-bacon spinach salad and broccoli soup at the Laurel, Del., Church of Christ. Here are the recipes from our ladies day.

Crab Cakes

A Maryland area specialty!

1 pound crab meat
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
2 teaspoons parsley flakes
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 egg
1/2 to 3/4 cup bread crumbs (as much as needed to hold the crab cakes together)

Mix all ingredients, shape into patties, and fry or broil.

Strawberry-Bacon Spinach Salad

1 package red leaf lettuce and spinach
1 pint strawberries, sliced
8 bacon strips (cooked and crumbled)
1/4 cup chopped red onions
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Layer ingredients, ending with strawberries. Top with raspberry vinaigrette.

Raspberry Vinaigrette Dressing

1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup raspberry vinegar

Mix altogether. Drizzle over salad just before serving.

Dale's Broccoli Soup

1 head broccoli
1 onion
1 carrot
1/8 teaspoon celery salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
6 chicken bouillon cubes
About 6 cups water
1/4 cup flour
2 cups Velveeta cheese

Boil together all the ingredients except flour and cheese. When broccoli is tender, pour mixture in blender and chop fine for 1 second. Pour back in boiler. Mix 1/4 cup flour with 1 cup cold water and add to soup to thicken. Add cheese, stirring constantly. If desired, add more cheese.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Playing Houses

Daughter Emma and I admired the scenery along Highway 84 as we travelled through Georgia last weekend. To break up the trip, we stopped for a stroll down this lovely street in Bainbridge, Ga. With its mossy oaks and historic homes, it was a southern girl's dream. I fell in love with the yellow house above. I could imagine serving tea on that gracious porch!

Emma chose this pink house, just down the street from mine.

She said her imaginary friend, Layla, lives in this blue beauty. I didn't quibble with her since I am the imaginary owner of the yellow house across the street.

Just a few doors down, this lovely home is for sale. If you are interested in relocating, Emma, Layla and I would love to welcome you to the neighborhood with a cup of invisible tea!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Tea for Two ...

Or 200! Daughter Emma and I thoroughly enjoyed our weekend visit to the Forrest Park Church of Christ in Valdosta, Ga. We received a gracious welcome from these hospitable southern ladies, who prepared afternoon tea for several hundred ladies day participants. Different ladies of the congregation decorated tables for the event, so all were unique. And each one was beautiful!

The ladies placed a little wrapped gift at each place setting in keeping with the table's theme. Emma was so excited over the apple-scented candle she received, she wanted us to hurry home so we could "put some fire in it."

Each table reflected the personal style and interests of the lady who decorated it. With its natural elements and soothing color palette, this tablescape shows a love of the outdoors.

This tablescape made a big impact with vivid colors.

Silver teapots, fine china and an eye for detail create an elegant setting for afternoon tea.

While a wire teapot and black and white tableware give this setting a refined, graphic appeal.

Several ladies filled their tables with items collected during their travels around the world. This soothing table had a definite Asian flair.

While the rainbow colors in this tablescape reflect a love of Panama.

Little touches everywhere we looked said "welcome" and "we're so glad you're here" to all of us who joined the sweet ladies of Forrest Park at the tea table. Although there were several hundred of us in attendance, each of us left feeling like we were the honored guest.

Thank you, Forrest Park, for inviting us to tea!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Join Us for Tea!

"Through the seasons, through the years, it's your friends who carry you through. What would you do without them -- these chosen sisters who laugh with you, cry with you, and speak truth to you? And what better way to celebrate the warmth and intimacy of beautiful friendship than with the warmest and most intimate of celebrations -- a tea?" -- Emilie Barnes, The Twelve Teas of Friendship

Today I am packing up my teacups to head to Valdosta, Ga., for a ladies day tomorrow at the Forrest Park Church of Christ. Our theme for the morning will be "Join Us for Tea and Open Your Heart." We will enjoy a morning of fellowship and Bible study. Then we will share afternoon tea, and I will offer some of my favorite tea party ideas in a special presentation. If you live in the area, please join us! Registration begins at 8 a.m. at the Forrest Park Church, located in Valdosta at 4263 Inner Perimeter Road.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Story of a Football Family

Once upon a season, 7-year-old Christian begged to play football.

Ten-year-old Carson decided to play, too, and Joe was named Carson's head coach.

So 5-year-old Mary Ashley became a cheerleader for her brothers' teams.

And 3-year-old Emma was their biggest fan.

And they all passed, punted, coached and cheered happily ever after -- or at least through football season!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Football Sundaes

While my husband roots for football Sundays, my children cheer for football sundaes!

To make these, prepare a pan of brownies as directed. While the brownies are baking, spread softened vanilla ice cream into a casserole dish lined with parchment paper, cover it with plastic wrap, and place it in the freezer to harden. When the baked brownies have cooled, use cookie cutters to cut two shaped brownies per sundae. Remove the hardened ice cream from the casserole dish by lifting the parchment paper. Rinse brownie crumbs from the cookie cutters, and use them to cut shapes from the ice cream. Quickly assemble the sundaes, sandwiching ice cream between the brownies. Pipe details onto the top brownies, as desired, and serve. Or prepare the sundaes ahead and store them in the freezer until game time.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Three Cheers to Make a Megaphone

Show some spirit with megaphones suited up for the big game with colorful scrapbook papers. Make megaphones to top tailgating tables, or pass them out as party favors at a cheerleader-themed birthday party.

Find small plastic megaphones like the one pictured at Dollar Tree, and choose a 12"-x-12" piece of scrapbook paper for each cone. Wrap the paper around the megaphone, with the narrow end of the cone turned toward the corner of the paper so the paper can completely cover the plastic. Hold the paper cone taut with one hand, and trace the bottom of the megaphone onto the back of the paper. Open the paper, and cut just inside this line with pinking shears. Wrap the paper around the cone again, making sure the bottom edge of the paper fits the megaphone.

Unroll the paper again so you can trace the top of the cone. Trace this edge a little at a time by rolling the megaphone across the paper, keeping the bottom edge of the paper flush with the bottom of the megaphone. Cut the top edge of the cone with pinking shears, trimming the paper just inside the traced line.

The resulting pattern should look like an unrolled lamp shade. Wrap the paper around the megaphone. You will notice that one side of the paper looks angled, and the other side looks straight when pulled into a cone shape. Secure the angled side to the megaphone with tape. Wrap the paper around the megaphone, and use a glue stick to secure the straight edge of the paper to the cone. Embellish as desired.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Friday Night Lights

I may not know a first down from a touchdown, but there's no doubt I'm my family's Number 1 fan. We kicked off football season in a big way Friday night with an evening of family fun.

The fun started with our tablecloth: 2 yards of a graphic black-and-white fabric found at Hobby Lobby. Megaphones from Dollar Tree made a big statement covered with scrapbook paper.

Usually put to use on the tea table, my tiered servers got R-O-W-D-Y with black and yellow ribbons. Black-and-gold shakers at the base looked festive.

I placed the boys' football on the top tier ...

And piled the bottom tiers high with apples, chicken wings, carrots and celery. Little bowls of Ranch dressing and caramel dip were fun for dipping, and a bowl of chips rounded out the menu.

Black and yellow napkins were rolled and tied with yellow curly ribbons (all found at Dollar Tree). Football ornaments, found at Hobby Lobby, looked cute slipped onto the ribbon. And scrapbook paper place cards finished off each plate.

If chicken wings scored a touchdown with the family, these fruit-skewer pennants scored the extra point. I taped paper pennants to wooden skewers, then threaded on strawberries, nectarines and grapes. Clustered in a heavy, shallow vase next to the caramel dip, these pennants looked delicious!

Kick-off football season here this week with ideas and memories to cheer about each day!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Dishing Up Comfort with Mac & Cheese

Macaroni and Cheese

This dish is great comfort food at church potlucks and family dinners.

8 ounces (2 cups) dry elbow macaroni
2 tablespoons nonfat dry milk
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon butter or margarine, melted
1 1/4 cups boiling water
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups (12 ounces) Velveeta shreds

Cook pasta according to package directions, and drain. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mix dry milk, flour and butter. Gradually add boiling water, beating constantly. Add half the cheese to the mixture, beating until the sauce is smooth and creamy. Stir in macaroni, salt and an additional cup of cheese. Transfer to a lightly greased 2-quart baking dish, and cover with foil. Bake for 25 minutes, then remove foil and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup of cheese. Return to oven long enough to melt the cheese.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Reading, Writing and Arithme-tickles

Gotta Go Now. Kindergarten must be a very full day. "Mommy," 5-year-old Mary Ashley began breathlessly, "I am so busy at school that when we have bathroom time, I'm the last one to have a turn, so I just walk in, flush the potty and wash my hands!"

Top of the Class. When 7-year-old Christian learned he had been invited to spend the night with his best friend, Gavin, he said he hoped he would get to visit Gavin's mom's school during the visit. Was it the private school's cutting-edge technology, extensive library or awesome playground that made a visit so enticing? No, the reason Christian hoped to spend his Saturday at school: "Mrs. Lyle has hand sanitizer that smells like strawberries!"

After-School Special. When Carson started first grade, I was eager to hear every detail about his first day in public school. That afternoon I popped popcorn in anticipation of settling into a comfy spot together to look over his school papers. "OK, Carson," I began, popcorn bowl in hand, as he took off his backpack, "I want to hear all about your first day of school, so where do you want to go to tell me about it? We can go wherever you want." He was quiet for a moment, then thinking of my sister who lives nearly 5 hours away in another state, said, "Aunt Jennifer's!"

When Push Comes to Shove. When our nephew, David, started preschool, he came home proudly announcing, "I push Ella!" My sister and her husband reminded David that it's not nice to push, but each day David boasted about pushing Ella. They grew concerned about this aggressive behavior until David's teacher told them how sweet it was to see the two little friends on the playground taking turns pushing each other on riding toys.

Color Me Bashful. When Carson was in preschool, he saw one of his classmates eating with her family at a local restaurant. With her pretty face and long brown hair, 5-year-old Carson thought little Sydney was the prettiest girl in the school. Carson wanted to say hello and started walking toward her table, but he stopped a few feet away, unable to move or speak. He stood there --paralyzed with fear -- for several seconds. Finally, unable to bear his older brother's discomfort a moment longer, 3-year-old Christian yelled across the crowded restaurant, "Carson, ask her what her favorite color is!"

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Finding Redeeming Love

A friend from church recently recommended Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers as a must-read. Her recommendation came at the perfect time -- just as our family was heading to the beach for an extended holiday weekend. I was immediately swept up by this California Gold-Rush era love story, which is based on the biblical account of the prophet Hosea and his wife, Gomer, a prostitute. The book was so engrossing, I found it difficult to put down -- even to dip my toes in the ocean! It has also piqued my interest in reading the Old Testament book of Hosea. Although Hosea has been referenced in Bible studies I have participated in, I don't believe I have ever read the book straight through or studied it in-depth. If you are hoping to settle in with a good book when the weather turns cooler this fall, I would suggest Redeeming Love. Find it here.

And stay tuned for ideas on hosting a book-club style dinner and discussion sometime this fall!

Monday, September 14, 2009

To the Letter

A vinyl monogram dresses up this apothecary jar, a recent birthday gift for my brother. Borrowing a friend's Cricut allowed me to experiment with this fun crafting trend. To create vinyl decals with a Cricut, set each setting on 3 and proceed with cutting the design. To apply a single letter or smaller motif, simply peel the vinyl decal and place it on the surface, smoothing away any bubbles. Gingerly reposition the design if needed, and wash the surface carefully as needed with a non-abrasive cleaner. Remove vinyl decals with the heat of a hair dryer.

Friday, September 11, 2009

One Last Summer

One last drink of water.

One last splash.

One last day to be buried in sand instead of homework.

One last opportunity to hold on to the best part of summer.

Over Labor Day, we enjoyed making one last trip to the beach. And now we jump into Autumn!

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