Friday, May 31, 2013

Strawberry Spinach Salad

A few weeks ago I made a strawberry spinach salad for a school event.  I've had numerous requests for the recipe, but since I combined several and don't measure everything, it's been difficult to get it put together.

I know that this is what I did for the dressing.  I didn't have some of the ingredients the original recipe called for so I'm just putting what I did.

1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
dash of paprika
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (I just shook a drop out)
1 tablespoon minced onion (I just shook it out without measuring)

Mix the dressing ingredients in a small bowl, until sugar dissolves. Cover the dressing and allow to chill for 30 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine:

10 ounces of fresh spinach 
One quart of strawberries

Pour dressing over the salad.  Add sugared pecans. (recipe below)  Toss to coat.

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
3 large egg whites
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 cups pecan halves

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with sides with aluminum foil. Pour the butter onto the lined sheet. In a large bowl, mix the egg whites, sugar and cinnamon. Add the pecan halves and toss until they are fully coated. Spread the pecans onto the baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring the pecans every 10 minutes. Cool on the baking sheet for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.  

My notes about this recipe:
I actually let some of the pecans get a little too done - almost burned, but apparently people liked that, too!!  Isn't it funny that something you think might be a flop is well-liked?  Haha!

Some recipes say to chill the dressing for an hour, then chill the salad for 10 - 15 minutes before serving, but I didn't have time to do that. I'm wondering if that's why people liked it so much - because it wasn't so cold?  I think so, so that's why I'm just putting 30 minutes on the chill time of the dressing. I think even 15 minutes would be fine.

Now if I can remember who all wanted the recipe, I'll be doing good!
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Thursday, May 30, 2013

"It's a Blue Ribbon Life" VBS Open House

On my devotional blog this week (Shine Like Stars at I've been writing about VBS.  I thought I'd should you a few pictures, so if you were needing VBS ideas, you might want to take a look!  These ideas would also be great for a birthday party or school classroom decor!
 Real cotton candy is on the wall. It melts within a few hours, so has to be replaced often! However, spraying fiber fill a pastel color would work out great, with no replacing needed.
 What's a "big top" without a clown?  Plastic balloons from Hobby Lobby compete this section.
 Mr. Farmer and his wife show off their "blue ribbon" winnings at the county fair!
 The 'concession stand' has attendance charts which are popcorn boxes with card stock popcorn pieces.
 Mr. Farmers' barn and his prize-winning show animals.  No goats! (Shhhhh....don't tell my husband, who is fond of goats!)
And a close-up of the concession stand area. 

Lots of fun this week at VBS! Learning about Jesus, the Fruits of the Spirit, sprinkled with a bit of fun each day.  A great way to learn!
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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Roll of Money Gift in a Box

Several family members on my husband's side of the family put their money together for a fun gift for Lauren.  It was a roll of money - all taped together by her Aunt Andrea!  It kept going and going and going!!!
Here it is around her neck!  She untaped it last night and it took quite a while!
It was rolled and put into this Texas Rangers' decorated Kleenex box.  It was such a fun gift idea! Thought you might like it, too!
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Thursday, May 23, 2013

A Special Graduation Quilt

Our daughter has received many, many wonderful gifts for her high school graduation recently, but I thought it would be neat to highlight a few that might give others some ideas about neat gifts.

This quilt was made by my sister-in-law.  She wrote a few months ago, asking what colors Lauren's college dorm room was going to be.  I told her black and white, with coral and light aqua.  She made this beautiful quilt for her bed!  It's so, so soft and Lauren loves it!
But on the back, my sister-in-law did something very special for Lauren.  She put squares at the corners that meant something special to Lauren:  Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse because of our family trips to Disney World, Texas Rangers because Lauren is a HUGE fan, Tiger print for our school mascot, and a college logo from where Lauren will be attending in the fall!  

Isn't that unique?!  So personal and special!  So warm and cozy!  No, Lauren won't share, and I don't blame her one bit!

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Decorating for High School Graduation

If you've followed this blog long, or know me well at all, you know I love to decorate!  At this time of year, I spend lots and lots of time decorating.
One thing I've decorated for in the past several years has been our high school's graduation.  I always enjoy the time trying to make it special for the senior class.  However, this year was really different because I was decorating for my own daughter's class and their senior graduation.  I wanted to be doing it, but didn't want to be doing it!  You know what I mean??! 
Some years I've used live potted plants.  Some years I've used lots of lights.  Last year I bought the arch in the picture above.  This year I found these beautiful gold rose centerpieces that were perfect for our school colors and a great accent to the stage in the gymnasium during graduation.  I came across these beauties by pure accident, but knew they were the new addition for this year's decor.  They'll be used for years and years to come - as well as in my house the other 364 days of the year!!
And the best decorations of all?  The diplomas in the seniors' hands! :)
Congratulations, Lauren, and to the rest of the Seniors in the graduating in the Class of '13!

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Tuesday, May 21, 2013


I just couldn't post about my daughter's graduation this morning, with the tragedy that so many are facing and dealing with in our great state of Oklahoma.  I will later, but not today.  Please pray for everyone who has been affected by this tornado, especially those who have lost loved ones and those who have lost every physical thing they had.

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Monday, May 20, 2013

Happy Graduation, Lauren!

Our oldest is graduating today, so it's an exciting day in our family!  We're selfish and would like for her to be with us longer, but know that she must move on to this new stage in life.  That's what we've raised her for, and what is the natural order of life.  

We're anxious to see what God has in store for Lauren, and we're thankful for and proud of the young, Christian woman she has become and the example she has been for those around her.
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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Mini Layered Mexican Dip Cups

This is a cute idea for mini-appetizers that I made last week for a Teacher Appreciation Week meal.
Using your favorite layered Mexican dip recipe, but layer it up in small, 5 ounce cups that are perfect for individual servings.  I'll tell you what I did, but don't have amounts needed listed.

Refried beans mixed with taco seasoning for the base.
Sour cream mixed with shredded cheddar cheese.
Guacamole (homemade or ready to serve)
Drained salsa (so it's not so runny)
Shredded cheddar cheese
Sliced black olives

What a fun was to serve this popular dip!

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Monday, May 13, 2013

Easy Batter Fruit Cobbler

(before baking)
Last week I made this cobbler for Teacher Appreciation Week.  I made two of them with frozen cherries and one with frozen strawberries.  I realized about 10 minutes into the baking that I hadn't put any sugar into the batter, so pulled them out of the oven and added it (stirred it into the whole cobbler).  It wasn't a pretty dessert, but tasted really good, still!  I was surprised that the strawberry cobbler was good.  I had never had a strawberry dessert where the strawberries had been cooked in such a large amount, only strawberry cake that doesn't have very many.  Anyway, it's an easy dessert that is sure to please your family or great for any type of gathering!

Easy Batter Fruit Cobbler

8 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup milk
4 cups of sliced, frozen fruit (peaches, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, cherries)
2 tablespoon sugar

Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position, and heat oven to 350 degrees.  Put butter in a 9 x 13 inch cake pan (I used a disposable pan to take to the school) , set in oven to melt.  When butter has melted, remove pan from oven.

Whisk flour, 1 1/2 cups of sugar, baking powder and salt in a small blow.  Add milk, whisk to form a smooth batter. Pour batter into pan, then scatter fruit over batter.  Sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar.  Bake until batter browns and fruit bubbles, 50 to 60 minutes.  Serve warm or at room temperature with a dollop of whipped cream or a small scoop of vanilla ice cream, if desired.
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Friday, May 10, 2013

Twas the Week of Teacher Appreciation Week.....

'Twas the week of "Teacher Appreciation Week" and all throughout our abode......
 Not a dish or pan was clean, we were in another mode.
My family and friends had helped serve and honor others this week,
 And the result, you can see, was a mess in the sink!
Yes, this week we've been celebrating and honoring our teachers and staff during "Teacher Appreciation Week".  Many PTO members, friends, and family have helped me during this week and it has been enjoyed by the faculty of our school.  We feed the elementary staff, as well as the junior high and high school staff, so that they'll all feel appreciated.  And they do.
Last night I wrote a special tribute to my friend, Tonya, who passed away yesterday after a long battle with cancer.  (Read it HERE, if you are interested.)  Tonya and I talked on the phone a lot.  Before she got cancer when she would call (Yes, she did most of the calling. I always apologized that I'm not a caller.  But, I'm a talker!  I enjoy talking, but not calling. I'm weird like that!) and say she was cleaning house.  Usually she called right after our kids left for school.  I was usually writing my blog, getting busy to go do some project or cook for something, but she was always cleaning or washing clothes.  In fact, she was usually finished with her cleaning and washing clothes!  I mean.....with four children and a husband, she has an EMPTY clothes hamper, washer and dryer.  It was DONE.  Her dishes were all DONE.  Her house was SPOTLESS.
Mine usually wasn't.  Actually, I would probably go as far to say that mine was never spotless.  It really never is.  It may be straight. The kitchen may be clean and tidy.  The clothes may mostly be clean and put away, but it's never all done.  With four kids and a husband, it's an on-going thing for us.....and my husband helps tremendously, even in the house. The kids do, too.  And Tonya's kids did, too.

When Tonya found out she had cancer, she realized a lot of things.  I mentioned the most important things she learned in my other blog's post about her.  But, she also learned that there is more to life than having a clean house and everything washed and tidy by early morning every single day.  She learned that taking time to serve others, to enjoy life, and to let some things go from time to time was okay.  She mellowed in that area and grew in others.

We all have lessons to learn.  For some of us, it's something we never quite grasp, but for Tonya, it was a quick learning experience.  From her 'trial' and years of cancer, she because a shining light in Tipton.  Her light will continue to shine for years to come, through the products of her labor, her children.  Her husband and parents will inspire others, as well.  What a blessing to have known Tonya!

Yesterday afternoon and evening, my family and I worked together to get our messy abode straightened up and tidy.  It has to be because we're having a Senior class party here tonight!  But, as we cleaned, we all thought of Tonya.  I told my children about how she used to work so hard to never have a messy house, but how sometimes it will get messy when we're serving others.  

Thank you, God, for the life and lessons that Tonya lived and learned and shared.  She was an inspiration to all who knew her!
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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Lady's Coleslaw (Paula Deen)

I've never made coleslaw before.  In fact, I've only just started liking it in the past few years.  But I needed to make it for Teacher Appreciation Week, so decided to go with this recipe.  I took the easy way out and just bought the cole slaw mix.  I just guessed on the ratio of bagged to her list, but it came out fine.  I was also doing it times six, twice, so it was in a huge bowl!

The Lady's Coleslaw
by Paula Deen

1/2 bell pepper, chopped
1 green onion, chopped
1/2 large carrot, chopped
1/8 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/2 cabbage head
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt (recommended: Jane's Krazy Mixed-up Salt)
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon lemon-pepper seasoning
1 tablespoon white vinegar

Using a food processor, gently process the bell pepper, onion, carrot, and parsley, being careful not to over process.  Cut 1/2 of the cabbage into chunks and place in the food processor and process lightly, making sure the cabbage doesn't become mushy.  Slice the remaining cabbage thinly.  Mix the cabbage together with the processed vegetables.  In a separate bowl, mix the remaining ingredients together and allow to stand for a few minutes.  Combine the mayonnaise mixture with the vegetables and toss.  Chill for 1 hour before serving.
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Monday, May 6, 2013

Teacher Appreciation Gift Idea

The cardboard drink carriers from Sonic Drive - In makes a cute tote for goodies and gifts!  They were perfect to make gifts in celebration of Teacher Appreciation Week this week.  

I used lime green, hot pink, and white shredded paper in the bottom of the box, then filled it with bottled water, drink packet mix, candy, 100 calorie cookies and mixes, and nuts.  Just add ribbon and a gift tag, and you're all set! 
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Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Mouse

For the past few days, I have been at the Oklahoma State FFA Convention.  Today they played one of the cutest and funniest commercials I have ever seen!  I've put the link below.  You'll be glad you watched it :).  It goes along with the phrase: You're stronger than you think!

Click HERE for commercial on YouTube.
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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Strawberry Shortcake Trifle

I've posted this recipe before, but never had made it into a trifle.  Last week, at our church family's fellowship dinner, I made this trifle.  It was a bowl given to me by a secret pal a few years ago and was especially pretty with strawberries inside, since the base is red.  What an easy, but elegant looking dessert!  It tastes wonderful, as well!

Homemade Strawberry Shortcake
2 1/4 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter (at room temperature or melt just slightly in the microwave to soften)
2/3 cup milk
1 egg

Strawberries with syrup (sweetened)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Grease a 9 x 9 inch square baking sheet.  In medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Add butter and cut in with pastry blender or just use fork.  Mixture will form into crumb-like consistancy.  Add milk and egg and stir just until well blended. Pour batter into greased round pan. Bake 15 - 20, or until shortcake is lightly browned.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool.  Cut shortcake into bite-sized pieces.  Layer trifle bowl with shortcake.  Cover with sweetened strawberries and juice, then with Cool Whip. Repeat layers. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

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