Category Archives: Around the Table

Always Organizing…Never Organized


I want to be organized. In some areas, I accomplish “being organized.” Very controlled areas. But things like meals and cleaning? Where plans are diligently made? Not so much. I am slightly on the obsessive side (my hubby probably would not say “slightly”), meaning I want to follow my plans to a tee — perhaps to an unreasonable degree (my hubby probably would not say “perhaps”). However, with a husband and four kids, I occasionally am interrupted from implementing my plans (you are shocked, I am sure…), oftentimes laundry, my arch nemesis, gets in my way, sometimes during the week my priorities change, now and then  things arise that I have not included in my plans, and on occasion, I just need a nap (and that’s not on my plan, except on Sunday). Well, that’s when my all-or-nothing side manifests itself and everything (meaning me) goes loosey-goosey. My family is great — flexible and  forgiving, and we can still have a good week. But I know way down deep inside, that if I had a better routine to which I stuck, then I would do better — spiritually, physically, mentally and emotionally. And if I am doing better, so is my beloved husband and children. And this is why when I fail to meet my goals, I feel like I have, well, failed.

Nonetheless, I shall not lament, but persevere, for the Lord’s mercies are new every day (Lamentations 3:22-24). I find myself always organizing, but never organized. At least not to the degree I want to be (see definition of obsessive: “excessive often to an unreasonable degree.” But as the wise sage Lucy says each Christmas, “‘Well, as they say on TV, “the mere fact that you realize you need help indicates that you are not too far gone.”‘”  Yay!)

So today is a new day. The Lord’s mercies are new. And here I go again making a weekly meal plan so that our after school and evening time is less stressful. And to show how earnest I am, the meal plan includes only crock-pot meals. I am serious about having more enjoyable evenings this week! Serious, but not obsessive, because that would just ruin it, right? (I like to give mini-sermons to my soul.)

I hope these meals are yummy! I actually tried out a crock-pot Chicken Cacciatore a couple of weeks ago (because I had all the ingredients (or could easily improvise)) and the family loved it. I was pleasantly surprised because a unanimous vote of approval on a meal is unusual in this household.

May you meet all your goals this week — or at least be fruitful! And remember to enjoy the fruits of your labor at the end of each day! (Another mini-sermon to self.)

Meal Plan, April 8-14, 2013

Monday: Spaghetti Bolognese and Salad

Tuesday: Red Beans, Rice and Salad (I know that according to tradition, I should serve this today, “Laundry Day,” but I already had everything for Bolognese. Wow!  Look at the flexibility I am exhibiting already!)

Wednesday: Russian Chicken, Rice, and Broccoli

Thursday: Pork Chops, Mashed Potatoes*, and Green Beans

Friday: Pizza and Salad

Saturday: Lemon Garlic Chicken, Rice, and Salad

Sunday: Roast and Veggies, Mashed Potatoes*, and Salad

* The hubby mentioned a desire for mashed potatoes. I grew up in the Midwest where our starch usually consisted of potatoes. In spite of my upbringing, I have acclimated to Louisiana living and usually use parboiled rice now. How can you beat 20 minutes in a pot and easy clean up?


New Year’s Eve Appetizers


I love New Year’s Eve! All we do is snack! NumNum. Here’s our 2010-2011 NYE Menu. This post is really for my Lil Ditter, so reader beware.

And Lil Ditter, I have some of Dad’s old appetizer favorites, that I set forth below for your convenience.

Shrimp Dip. I learned about this in a wonderful entertaining/recipe book my friend Carol gave me and love it!

8 oz cream cheese

5 oz can evaporated  milk

1 can deveined bay shrimp

Dash of garlic powder

Dash onion salt

Warm Cream cheese and add shrimp. Stir in evaporated milk and season with onion salt and garlic powder. Serve with Ruffles or your favorite vegetable. Guess which one I use…

From The Gathering of Friends, Volume 1, p. 82.

Gouda Puff and Crackers. DEE.LISH.US! My friends Laura and Holly gave it to me years ago. Always a holiday favorite. The measurements are approximate because Holly never measures and I lost the note I wrote when Laura told me the recipe! Ladies, feel free to make corrections in the comment section! 🙂

Thaw Puff Pastry sheet according to directions.

Warm ½ cup of Butter, ¾ cup of brown sugar and 2 tsp cinnamon.

Remove wax from Gouda. Place pastry on the dish (Must bake and serve in same dish). Place Gouda in the middle of puff pastry. Put some of the sweet butter mixture over the top of Gouda, and then wrap it up like a cute little present (I think those were Laura’s instructions? 🙂 ). Pour the remaining sweet stuff on top and bake. Baking temperature and time have been debated. I am convinced it has to be at a high temperature for a relatively short amount of time to melt the cheese satisfactorily. I say 400 degrees for 16-18, or maybe even up to 25 minutes, depending on your oven. My oven runs hot. Watch the puff pastry for color. I am thinking of putting parchment paper at the bottom of the dish to help on cleanup and to help get to all of that caramelized yumminess – even though it’s not as cute….Suggestions welcome.

Hummus and Pita Bread (Or flatbread in a pinch) and Carrots. We buy it. I would make it, but I don’t have a blender or food processor. And I don’t want to buy one. Or store one in my cozy (i.e., tiny) kitchen. Hummus is awesome.

Mini Corndogs. Something hot for the kids, that gives the appearance of protein.

Spinach Dip with Tostitos. We bought it. It was fresh. It was on sale. And I am all for shortcuts this week.

Warm Salsa and Tostitos. A staple for the Hubby. Homemade Salsa recipes welcome!

Rice Krispie Treats. Again, a favorite for the Hubby.

Banana Muffins. Because our bananas were overly ripe.

Panettone and Mascarpone. Heavenly. At least I think so.

Lemon Pudding Cake. Another recipe from Holly that Jacqueline and I are making because she wanted to make a cake like the cake our wonderful neighbor brought to us On Christmas Eve Eve. Yummy.

1 yellow cake mix

1 package instant lemon pudding

4 eggs

1 teaspoon lemon extract

1 1/3 cup whole milk

2/3 cup vegetable oil

Bake in Bundt pan at 350 degrees for approximately 35-45 minutes or until done.

Glaze: Mix 2 cups powdered sugar and juice of 2 lemons

Cookies. As many as we can make today, starting with Chocolate Chip (Nestle Toll House Recipe) , then Peanut Butter, Snickerdoodles and Chocolate Cookies (all recipes from The Gathering of Friends, Volume 1.  Let me know if you want any recipes.

Here’s some that my family loved growing up (or at least the adults did…)


2 pounds ground beef

2 packages taco seasoning

2 cans chili with no beans

1 large package Velveeta Cheese

Brown and drain beef. Add taco seasoning and cook as directed. Add chili with no beans and Velveeta Cheese in Crock-Pot. Add hamburger mixture into Crock-Pot. Cook ½ hour on low. Serve with tortilla chips.



1 jar Kraft Old English Cheese

1 jar Kraft Roka Blue Cheese

1 dash of garlic powder

1 tablespoon wine vinegar

1 8-ounce package Philadelphia cream cheese

Mix; shape into a ball.  Roll ball in parsley flakes.  Refrigerate.


1 8-ounce Philadelphia cream cheese, softened

1 package chipped beef, chopped into small pieces

2 green onions, diced

Mix. Refrigerate. Serve in Bowl.



1          Refried Beans

2          Avocado dip mixed with taco seasoning

3          Chili

4          Sour cream mixed with taco seasoning

5          Grated cheddar cheese

6          Minced onions

7          Tomatoes or salsa (right before you serve)

VARIOUS APPETIZERS (ideas other have given to me):

Mix salsa and cream cheese and serve with tortilla chips.

Mix salsa and bean dip over low heat, and serve with tortilla chips.

Irresistible Impulse


I have this intense desire to do things better. To do things in a manner that provokes fun and creates an opportunity for good memories.

The Valentine’s Day Table sans gifts

I have found that the best opportunity to make good memories is through family traditions. Doing the same special things week after week, or the same special things at holidays year after year.

One cannot put the gifts out too soon or the vulture’s begin to circle

It is like the children (and parents) have the opportunity to remember the “best of” and forget all the work, stress, or complications that may exist at different seasons of our life. Does that make sense?

Priddy likes her Sissy reading her Valentine to her –she receives compliments very well, indeed.

One family tradition that we have tried to form (since I was prego with Priddy) is family date night – pizza and a movie and popcorn and candy (I have also found that children more easily form good memories around yummy food and drink. So do I. Why should not the little humans?  This is the main reason why when grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins are around, my chil’ren, for better or worse, rarely get a “no” to sweets. And what an aptly named treat! “Sweets.” They really do sweeten occasions, don’t they?  I digress…).

Sissy reading her Valentine

Some nights I fall asleep during a movie (I try not to!), or we don’t have popcorn, or we pick up take ‘n bake pizza, or someone throws up on the den floor during the movie, but overall, we enjoy Andre’s homemade pizza and a fun flick together. Some Fridays we even include others in our special date night.

Fuffy reading his Valentine! Please excuse the old “LSU LAW” T-shirt and the lack of make-up and hair styling (not that it is that good anyway…) — but 3 out of 4 chil’ren were sick today, so no church for me! 😦 But HE is so cute, especially with his new hair cut!

Another special tradition we have tried to establish is our Sabbath Suppers.  I may have already discussed this, or may in the future…

Andre cracking up over one his “why I love you’s.” It was some funny stuff!

In any event, in my never-ending quest for making my family feel loved and have cherished memories, I decided to try something new with Valentine’s Day.

Sissy loves her Lollipop!

Something simple (did I mention that although I have an “intense desire to do things better,” I do not always have the will or energy to do the work that goes along with it?).

Priddy loves posing with her Lollipop (which the mamarazzi loves!).

I decided that sharing one thing each person loves about another, or a reason for loving that person, would be good and encouraging. As my husband emphasized today, God is love and Christ died for us on the cross because He loved us. We, too, ought to show our love!

A little snake enjoying his sucker

So, I interviewed all the members of the family that can articulate what they love about or why they love the others. I printed them out, cut them out with cutesy scissors, took a piece of scrapbooking paper, glued a doily to it, and pasted the Strips of Love on each person’s Valentine.

Bako’s Valentine — I don’t think he’ll mind my sharing

It was really fun. And really funny. Some I just shouldn’t share. You know how that is, right?

Valentine’s from Emmy and Granddad — except for my extra brownies sans flags.

But here is one that I received from my hubby that was really encouraging to me (mostly because of the first sentence of my post): “I love how she always wants us to do better.”

Oh, how I love this man!

Does my husband know me, or what? And, Oh! How this little sentence shouts to me that he appreciates and enjoys my clumsy attempts. God bless the man who can love me so much!

And for those interested, here are “my brownies,” with the homemade flags:

Pretty cute, eh? They received many compliments at open house! Try them!



I recently had the pleasure of attending a most wonderful tea party. The hostess, an exquisite young lady, welcomed me with such warm manners, including a lovely smile and affectionate hug as I arrived. She was dressed in her best – akin to a princess. She had a most magnificent table set. The table was draped with a beautiful hand-crocheted tablecloth, color of pumpkin, in the pattern of pineapple (which I believed to be very witty, in light of her hospitality). There was also a unique centerpiece containing bright orange and gold leaves that danced and sparkled in the late afternoon sunlight spilling through her window. It was a charming touch. And of course, she selected her best china for the occasion.

She served homemade pumpkin cookies (made from fresh pumpkins), which were delightful. She would not take “No, thank you” for an answer when I declined to have more than one. I reluctantly indulged in several. She also did a most unusual thing: instead of serving tea at her tea party (which, in my humble opinion, is so trite), she served the far superior and refined beverage of chocolate milk. That is when I discovered the depth of this young lady’s intellect.

I’d Like to Buy a Friend a Coke


We had some friends over for Sunday lunch. Good food (if I do say so myself), good wine and good fellowship.

One precious friend stayed and visited until the evening. As we were putting food away, I offered her a Coke (Not a “soda” or “pop!”). She said water was fine. I asked, “Are you sure?” She had been drinking water all day! She replied that she was fine, water was fine, everything was fine. I protested because I know she likes Coke (Hey, who doesn’t? Down with the Pepsi drinkers!). She insisted that she was fine — as is. I have to admit, I did not believe her. She is so gracious and did not want to trouble me for a thing. So I tested her resolve and told her “I’m gonna have one” (which I did plan to do, but got all caught up in this situation, as you will soon see why). She relented.

I reached in the fridge and grabbed a Coke. She was standing right there, so I handed her the can while I fixed a glass of ice. In this process, I looked and she was drinking right out of the can!!! I cannot stand to drink right from the can . . . anymore (I confess I did it in my youth. But I have recovered. There is hope for you, too, you pitiable can drinkers!). I said, “Don’t you want a glass of ice?” She insisted she didn’t, saying such things as “this if fine,” “I am great,” “I like it this way,” “it doesn’t matter,” etc. Well, I have to admit, I did not believe her AGAIN (I am so B-A-D)! So I had to get her in a corner. I knew she would not lie if I asked the right question. Consequently, I asked her “Which way do you PREFER your Coke: on the rocks or out of the can?”

It really doesn’t matter what our dear friend preferred. What IS important is that she enjoyed her Coke . . . on ice.

Eating It Up!


My wonderful in-laws have given my husband a fantastic dining table for his December birthday! It is hard to describe how thankful I am for this table. This table is beautiful. It goes perfectly in our home, and in fact, really classes up the joint! It is strong and sturdy. It is big: It seats up to eight – EIGHT – EIGHT!!! – people! At one time!

The friends and family to be served! The feasts to be eaten! The wine to be drunk! The bread to be buttered! The milk to be spilled! The cookies to be eaten! The stories to be told! The songs to be sung! The prayers to be offered! The pictures to be drawn! The games to be played! The memories to be made! I am as happy as a little girl!

I remember one Christmas when my mom received a beautiful dining room table. For years after, every time my sister, my brother or I had our feet on one of the pedestal legs, she would say “Get your feet off of My Christmas Present! How would you like it if I put my feet on your Christmas present?!?” At the time, I scoffed. But now, I understand the ability to cherish an inanimate object that will be the setting of so many pleasurable moments in my family’s life!

Thank you Emmy and Granddad!