Princess On The Porch

It is so exciting to know that Jodi, our daughter, came by and worked on my blog so that ordering the book, Princess on the Porch, is now very easy. All you have to do is click on the name of my book (which is located on the side bar on the right of the home page) and it takes you straight to Amazon, where it is available on Kindle, as well as soft cover and hard cover.

The book is full of some of my favorite family stories which will bring smiles to your heart, as well as giving you some our of favorite family recipes.

It was such a blessing to include stories of our kids and humorous adventures of Randy and I.  Randy has ask me to tell you to not believe everything you read about him in the book (but trust me, you can). Enjoy and thanks for reading Princess on the Porch! It is now so easy to order!

Thanks Jodi for coming to my rescue, knowing that my computer skills are pretty limited!  Besides giving us 3 precious grandkids, you are one smart (and yes, very pretty) cookie!

Birthday Bash Blues

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Even though July comes in the middle of the summer, filled with lots of hot temperatures and stops at many McDonald drive thoughts for glasses of iced tea, this month has been a great memory. Since July is one of my favorite months of the year, due to Randy’s and my birthday making it such a fun month, we had several things happen that just made this July a very special month.  Jamin, my boy who travels for work constantly, had a job in Phoenix, so he came and spend a week with us, bringing along our 17 yr old granddaughter. He came bearing gifts from M&M world, for me, which just made my birthday that much more special. Before he and Ashland left, our daughter, Christi and our 5 yr old granddaughter, Kenley arrived and the celebration continued. We had a week of exploring Butterfly Wonderland and the Childrens museum. We got to see Christi have her first In & Out Burger and her first Ombre from Starbucks.

Since Randy and I married, we have had a tradition of having Trudyfest from July 3rd through the 11th, the day of my actual birthday. When we married, my mom told him that I was his responsibility now and he could take over Trudyfest. That meant that he was now responsible for giving me little gifts each day of July up until my birthday on the 11th. Since Randy’s birthday is July 2nd, I was kind to let him have July 1st and 2nd be about him before starting the grand festival of my birthday celebration, well…just because I’m nice like that. But come July 3rd, it’s all about me for 9 whole days. Did I mention that I’m an only child? Bet you couldn’t have guessed that.

This year was such a great day of birthday celebration. It began with Kenley and Christi presenting me with gifts and cards as soon as I got up. We planned our day around Kenley  since we don’t get to see them as often as we want since they come all the way from Florida, so we wanted to focus on them.  After all, it would have been a little embarrassing to tell a 5 year old that we couldn’t go to Butterfly world because her grandmother would rather go shopping at Hobby Lobby instead. So to butterfly world we went, where the air is hot and the hair style quickly disappears due to the 80% humidity so the butterflies are comfortable. We came out starved and headed to Portillos for hot dogs (where yes, we saw another first,;Christi had never had Portillos) before coming home. That evening we joined our kids which live here and took C & K to Rustler’s Roost for a birthday celebration. If you are in Phoenix and have little kids, you need to experience this place. Not only does it have spectacular views of the valley, but the kids love the giant slide which they use to enter the restaurant. Well, the kids and me. I love that silly slide. I have to tell you about last year when we went there with our other kids. I was headed down the slide when I look down in front of the slide where a man is standing, waiting for his kids to come down. It is such a long slide, you wonder if you are going to be able to stop or would I be sliding feet first right into this man’s belly, Apparently, he began to wonder  that also, as he quickly  moved to the side, right before my legs hit the end of the slide. That little episode made me realize that maybe I was a little to old to be going down, so this year, I left it to the younger kids.

This years birthday was so different from previous years, but it was one of my most favorite of birthday memories. No I didn’t have my 9 days of “glory” and little gifts each day from Randy, but the gifts I got were so special. The gifts of wonderful memories with family. The laughs of watching the butterflies only landing on Randy and watching a butterfly landing on Christi’s phone apparently trying to take a selfie. My 15 yr old grandson even took a picture with me, in public! The cotton candy that the “big kids” (Eric, Christi and Randy) used to make funny faces. All the cards and text and phone calls from friends added to the celebration and some unexpected little gifts from friends that arrived that day. This year showed me that it truly isn’t the gifts that bring us joy, but the times spend together with family and friends that bring us the treasured times of our lives. The birthday blues did come. But not because the day of getting gifts was over, it was because the kids had to leave to go home. Was just so thankful that this year I was so blessed to celebrate with more family than usual. It was truly the best birthday bash!

Pasadena & Pine Cones

A sweet dear friend of ours has given me permission to share this story. While we lived in Pasadena, we attended a wonderful church where a precious man, named, Dave, played the piano for our Sunday School class and his wife, Donna always greeted folks as they came in the door with the most beautiful smile. This precious couple became very special to Randy and I and several times, we were blessed to be in their home. Besides Dave being a fantastic piano player, he made the most awesome pies. His specialty was lemon meringue. Dave had some medical problems which put him into a care facility towards the end of his life. On one of our visits back, we stopped and bought a lemon meringue and went to the nursing facility and had pie with Dave, never dreaming that that would be the last time we would see him. He passed away a few days later, after we had gone back to Texas. We were so grateful that we had had several times of visiting with he and Donna in their beautiful home and at different restaurants, which we always came away feeling so blessed, as Dave was one of those men who, no matter how down he might have been, due to medical problems, he always seemed to have that “sunshine in his soul” which radiated out to others. About a year before he passed away, he gave a sweet testimony of how he felt the Lord had spoken to him and share it in class. This is Dave’s story, told through one of our class teachers, Les Stocker, at the funeral.

“It was a bright Saturday morning in late June 2012. The phone rang. It was Dave. “Les, I have a very personal story the fits perfectly with the series you are teaching right now in the Disciples Class. But it’s a bit complex to share over the phone. Can I come over?”

Thirty minutes later, Dave was sitting in our family room as he proceeded to tell me his pine cone story that was not only amazing, but transformative in Dave’s life.

Some years earlier, Dave was counseling with a pastor who was very close to Dave at the time when he was going through a period of discouragement and depression. As they talked, the pastor, who was an avid hiker in the local mountains, mentioned how he often picked up pine cones along his hikes. He reached for a basket of pine cones near his desk and picked one out.

He then told Dave, “I would like to give you this pine cone.” He did not extent it across the desk as one might expect, but simply held it near him. Dave felt an awkward moment. He was offered the pinecone, but by the Pastor’s actions, it appeared to not be offered.

A few minutes later the pastor said, “Dave, if you want the pine cone, you must reach out for it and take it. It is yours, but you  must reach out-just like the peace which passes all understanding that God offers us. He grants us many gifts, but we must reach out to receive them. Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount said to “knock and it will be opened, seek and you will find, ask and you will receive.” We have to actively reach for those gifts.

That spoke to Dave that day. If Dave wanted the “peace that passes all understanding” he must reach out to receive it. A point of action. And so encouraged, Dave realized that he needed to reorient his thinking and receive this peace that God so freely gives to us.

Sometime later, Dave was again feeling a sense of discouragement as his medical problems began to escalate. He was out on some errands and stopped at the bank. He went in to conduct his business and on the way back to his car, he noticed a pine cone sitting upright, as though someone had placed it right on the curb, right in front of Dave’s car. In fact, it was so perfectly centered that if there had been a hood ornament, it would have been right above the pine cone.

Dave looked around. There was no one in sight. He then looked at the trees and other landscaping. No pine trees in sight. He immediately remembered the talk with his pastor, those years ago. The pine cone was such a dramatic reminder to him.

Dave wondered, “was this a miracle or just so bloke walking by and decided to place a pine cone at this perfect spot? We don’t know, but we do know that God spoke to him so graphically, reminding him that if we want His gifts, including the peace that passes all understanding, we have to do our part. We must reach out and receive it.”

Both Randy and I were so blessed to have been in class that July 1st, 2012 when Dave shared his story with the class. Now 5 years later, there is another story of God’s provision and care that comes from Donna, Dave’s wife.

One night about 2 months ago, about 9:30 at night, Donna texted me and ask me if I was close to my computer. After I said that I was, she gave me an address and told me to look it up and see what I thought. So I did. It was the real estate listing of a house that she had looked at that day in Pasadena.  I called Donna and she shared with me some of the details. She had always thought that the house where she and Dave had lived all those many years would be her home forever. Until now. She had gone with a realtor friend to look at this house and Donna became excited about the possibility of moving to a smaller house. She ask me to pray along with her and a couple of other friends about what God might want her to do. She was excited about the possibility of beginning a new season in a new place, but also sad, thinking about leaving the home which she and Dave had shared for 30+ years. She told me that if the Lord wanted her to have that house, He was going to have to move very fast and sell hers because she didn’t even have her house listed. This was on Wednesday night, I believe. That weekend a pastor who was moving from Washington to California was in town to look for houses. Her realtor called her to ask if she could show him the house, Donna agreed and in turn as soon as she knew that the preacher wanted her house, she put in a contract on the darling cottage that she had fallen in love with. She was so disappointed to find out that the owner of her ‘dream” cottage had accepted another offer. Donna’s response, “God must have something else for me, so I will just trust Him for His direction and His provision. A couple of days later, her realtor called again. The owner of the cottage had called and spoke with Donna’s realtor. She had ask if she thought Donna was still interested in the cottage, as there had been some problems with the other contract, so if Donna  still wanted the house it was hers. AND…the price had now been lowered. The Lord knew exactly what He wanted Donna to have to pay for the house, and had also provided a pastor to buy her house, a house which had been filled with many nights of prayer and Bible reading, was now being sold to a pastor who would, in turn, keep the prayers and Bible reading going.

We all know that all of our days don’t always turn out exactly like we want, and sometimes our dreams don’t all come true. But God is always faithful to provide and care for us in ways which we, in turn need to always tell of “His wondrous acts to perform.”

His word tells us to share with others the marvelous ways in which we see His goodness and grace. Yes, we have trials and tribulations. Those are our chances to grow our faith and to look for Him in ways which we might not have thought. God’s love is true, His ways are perfect and His will will always be for our best and for His glory, it is up to us to follow His will…to reach out for His promises and receive them. God was there for Dave and is still there, working and caring for Donna. Who knows, I wonder if she might find a  pine cone in her new yard one day?

Donna, thank you for allowing me the blessing of sharing how God worked in Dave’s life and is still working in yours. May your story, in turn, bless others and remind us all that God cares for each one of us, it is up to us to “trust and obey, for there’s no other way, but be happy in Jesus and to trust and obey.”

Poo Poo Chart

IMG_5285Last week, we returned from a visit to our kids in Dallas. What a great time we had as we celebrated two of our grandchildren’s birthdays. Sevy who is now 13 and Payton, who just turned 3. The trip was a success as we had lots of time this visit with our sweet families and actually made it to almost all of our favorite restaurants which we always want to visit before returning home where there is no Tex-Mex enchiladas ANYWHERE CLOSE TO US!. But upon arriving home, I told Randy that I had seen something in the bathroom at one of the kids homes that made me think of what I will do for him as he ages. Driving through the desert for 2 days after sitting in Abilene for 4 hours waiting for a new battery to be installed in our car, gave me a lot of time to think. As you drive down the highway in the heat, most people see imaginary water on the road in front of them. Not me, I see food. I imagine where I’m going to stop for the next meal. So while Randy sleeps and I drive, I not only think of different meals which we might have on the road, but what will I be writing about on the blog as soon as I get back. It was on one of these “thinking, driving while he sleeps” times that I came up with this great idea.

If you are like us, you probably remember always kidding about talking to your aging parents and when calling them to see how they are, they would sometimes tell you, “well, I’m good today. I had a good bowel movement, remembered to take all my meds and am just sitting down to watch the Wheel” . I have told Randy that I truly never care to hear about his bowel movements, no matter how old he is. So when I saw this chart on the bathroom wall, I instantly thought to myself, “this is great. Randy can just put a sticker on the chart any time he goes and that way I never have to hear about it. I like to think ahead. What if he began to loose his memory and forgot that he had told me that he had a good bowel movement and thus repeated himself 4-5 times a day. This way, he can just put a little sticker on the chart and we both can relax, knowing that nature has taken it’s course.  Really, if 3 year olds can have poo poo charts, why can’t 90 year olds?

Our kids are so blessed to have us as parents! We try to think of everything to help them be able to put up with us as we get to that wonderful age of having to share our daily activities…all of the activities!

You’re welcome!

Fourth, Freedom and Food

As I sit here before heading out for a family celebration, both Randy and I have so much to give thanks. Last evening we had some friends over to celebrate Randy’s birthday. As we were saying goodbye to our friends at the end of the evening, we sat down to just go over the night,; we both felt such a gratitude for God placing us in a place where people are so grateful for this land of ours. It was exciting to open the door as they arrived and see several of the men wearing shirts with stars and stripes, or material that looked like the American flag. As we talked through the evening we discovered that, no matter the different backgrounds which we all had come from, we were there laughing and bonding over desserts and talking about how blessed we felt to live in a place where we felt safe and loved. It made me truly grateful for the Fourth. I don’t know if it is because we are getting older and thinking more of what all we have been blessed with, but it was so great to have people around us that greeted us with “Happy 4th” and acknowledging how many of the men here last night served this great country.

Some of us watched  on Utube, our church we were a part of back in Dallas, as the church recognized each military group and sang the respective song which still makes my heart swell with pride as the giant flag is brought in. I don’t think I have ever sang God Bless American with out crying. It is sad that so many of our young people do not even know the words to Star Spangled Banner or have not said the Pledge of Allegiance in years.

Am so grateful that is is still the Land of the Free, and home of the brave. Let us all today, take a moment to really think of how blessed our lives and families are because of the “rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air, gay proof through the night, that our flag was still there, oh say does that star spangled banner yet wave, ore the land of the Free and the home of the Brave.”  Thank you to everyone who has sacrificed so much that we can celebrate today with friends, fireworks and great food. We owe so much to you. May we never forget!  God Bless America!

Za’atar Pita Bread

Yesterday Randy and I were on the last leg of our trip coming back from Dallas. We stopped in Tucson for lunch and because Randy is always so sweet to let me end our trips with a new restaurant which we have never been, we began to think about Lebanese food, so as I drove, he looked up different places which served Middle Eastern food in Tucson. Well, we stumbled upon a place which was absolutely fabulous. After reading the reviews, we knew that was what we wanted. So we headed over to Zayna Mediterranean over on Speedway Blvd in Tucson. If you are ever there, you have got to go. As we pulled into the empty parking lot, we looked at each other and he said, “did you read the reviews and  they were good?” I pulled up the reviews again and read a few to him so we ignored the empty parking lot and went in. As soon as we walked in, we could smell the flavors which always go along with Hummus, tabouli and pita bread. About 5 minutes after we arrive, the crowd began to come. By the time we left, there was only 2 empty tables. Apparently, this is a local favorite. As soon as they put our veggie plates in front of us, we knew we had a winner. The pita bread which adorned our plates was something I have never had at any Middle Eastern restaurant. When i ask the server what it was, she told me that it was with a paste of sesame seeds, olive oil and thyme. Last night after unpacking, I looked up a recipe for this and promised myself that I would be making it before the week was out. So here is the recipe I found. Cannot wait to have more, as the one piece that was sitting on our plate, was certainly not enough.

1 cup of za”atar (middle eastern spice mix consisting of dried oregano, thyme, sumac, sesame seeds and salt)

Pita bread (as many as you need or want to serve)

Fresh tomatoes, sliced

Black Olives

Mix the za’atar and olive oil in a bowl and set aside.

Use as many pita loaves as you want and spread some of the za’atar over each piece. Heat in a 425 degree oven until bread is warm. IF desired, place some sliced fresh tomatoes and black olives over the top and  serve. The restaurant did not use the olives or tomatoes, they heated their bread first and then just spread some of the mix over the warm bread and folded in over to serve. I think I will spread a little butter or olive oil on warm pita and then spread some of the za’atar paste over the warm bread. Serve it with some tabouli and hummus….it is delicious.

 

 

Penzey’s Seasonings

Even though this is so hard for me to admit, I had never heard of Penzey’s Seasonings. In the last couple of months, we have gained a new friendship with a couple from church and Marilyn loves to cook as much as I do. We have begun to meet her and her husband for lunch during the week and on one of our adventures to Cheesecake Factory, where Randy discovered a Chicken Parmesan Pizza, she began to tell me about Penzey’s and how great their seasonings were. So we planned our next adventure to go eat a Chicago dog at Portillos in Tempe and then head to Penzky’s so she could show me all of the seasonings that she loves. So last Thursday, that is exactly what we did. I discovered that I can spend $50 faster in Penzey’s than Steinhart! As we walked along the aisle, she would point out a spice that “oh this is what I add to my meatloaf, or hamburgers that people always ask me what I did to make it taste so great”, so of course I had to have that one. Then we came to a spice that she adds to any bread pudding, or apple dish, well, you know I had to have that one. Then there was the one that I just had to have to add to veggies or salads and don’t get me started on the dried fresh dill and jalapeño flakes. Randy and her husband, Bob, just stood over by the door, shaking their heads. Upon checking out, Randy learned over and whispered in my ear, “does this mean that you are going to actually start cooking other things besides cakes and pies?” After glaring at him, I told the lady to hold on, I wasn’t through and went and grabbed a few more spices that I didn’t think any home should be without. Randy didn’t have any more wise cracks before leaving the store.  When I posted my new found treasures on Facebook, several of my friends told me that they couldn’t believe that I had never heard of Penzey’s. I informed them that unless they were on the shelf at Walmart, my spice world is pretty limited with garlic powder, salt, pepper, onion powder, you know, the stuff kitchens are known for, but… Now, I have the catalog and my new spice lingo includes words like:

Herbes de Provence, Bouquet Garni, Chicago Steak Seasoning, Beef Roast Seasoning and Sunny Paris.  I hope that by the time we have company and I use the new seasonings, I will have learned how to pronounce the ones with the fancy little names. I have Chicago and Beef and Sunny down, but am working on Herbes, Provence and Bouquet Garni. If I have too much trouble, I guess I’ll stick with just garlic powder. Well, on fancy meals, I’m pretty sure I am good saying “celery salt”!  So, watch out Phoenix, this country girl is practicing her french and is ready to start cooking with her new Bucket Garnie and my new Hurbees dee Pro Vince! Hope it tastes better than it sounds!

Banana Caramel Cheesecake Pie

Paula Deen has just hit a home run with me. Just received my new PD magazine and every page is filled with either recipes for fried green tomato recipes, which included a BLT with the FGT or amazing summer ice box pies. If she had not been my favorite cook, she would be now. Every one of the recipes in this magazine are summer perfect! .It just makes me want to head out to the closet Farmer’s Market buy fresh corn (yes, this month she had fabulous recipes with fresh corn also), berries, green tomatoes and whipped cream by the gallon! The ice box pie I’m posting today sounds like it will become a favorite of mine. Thank you Paula for these wonderful summer recipes which should truly assure me that I won’t be fitting in my bathing suit for quite some time. But oh my goodness, the reruns on TV will be so much better with a piece of this luscious pie in front of me.

Banana Caramel Cheesecake Pie

1 (8.8 oz) package BiscottCookies, crushed

6 tables unsalted butter, melted

1/4 cup sugar

1/8 teas salt

1 1/2 (8 oz) packages (so 12 ounces in all) of cream cheese, softened

1 3/4 cups powdered sugar

1 teas vanilla

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

1/3 cup sour cream

1 cup sliced banana

1/2 cup caramel topping

Garnish: sliced bananas

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 9″ deep dish pie plate with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, stir together cookie crumbs, butter and granulated sugar and salt. Press mixture into bottom and up sides of prepared pan.

Bake until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Let cool completely.

In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Add cream and sour cream and beat until very thick, about 3 minutes. Stir in sliced banana. Spread into crust.  Dollop caramel sauce onto pie and gently swirl together, being careful not to disturb the bottom crust. Freeze until firm, about 4 hours. Garnish with more banana slices if desired. Serve immediately.  Thanks, Paula, this one is a keeper!

Spoon burgers

So much of our conversation revolves around food. At dinner the other night we began to talk about what our moms use to cook when we were growing up. Randy began to tell me about his mom making hamburgers where she just browned hamburger meat with seasonings, breaking it up into very small pieces and then grilling the buns and spooning the meat mixture onto the bun. I had never heard of doing that except for when you have sloppy joes, but he informed me that that was one of their best meals. As I began to look through the old cookbook I mentioned when posting the Oatmeal cake, I ran across, wait for it….spoon burgers! And there it was in all it’s glory. So in case you want to try a different approach to a hamburger, here is the recipe.

1 lb lean hamburger meat

1/4 cup finely diced onion

1 teas salt and pepper, each

1/2 cup chile sauce

 

Brown meat in skillet with onion and seasonings, stirring with fork to break up the meat. Spoon off any fat left in skillet. Stir the chile sauce into meat mixture and heat for about 3 minutes allowing the meat to absorb the chile sauce flavor. Cover the inside of each bun with a little butter and grill in a different skillet. Spoon meat mixture onto bun and serve hot.  Makes 2-4 hamburgers, depending on how much meat you use for each.

Oatmeal Cake

Last evening at dinner, Randy and I were sitting at the table and since I had devoured my food way before he was finished, as I usually do, I began to tell him about a chicken and rice dish my mom use to make. Getting up to go get the cookbook that I believed had that old chicken rice recipe, I discovered looking through the pages, a recipe that my mom and Aunt Gladys had made too many times to count. I remember always thinking “why did they like that boring cake that didn’t have frosting 3″ thick and no sprinkles or chocolate anywhere close to it” so I really ate too much of it. As I began to read the recipe to Randy, he told me that it sounded pretty good to him, so since I had everything in the house needed to make it, I began to gather the ingredients.

The result was this amazing cake with a baked on topping that maybe is just good to “older” folks that don’t like a lot of sweet gooey frosting. Some of our friends drove their golf cart over this morning early to show off their grandson and took some home. They loved it. Randy has taken a piece overtime he walks through the kitchen, and so do I.

The recipe was from a cookbook put out by the workers from school cafeterias in Corpus Christi back in the 60’s. I never did find the chicken and rice recipe, but will keep looking!

Ingredients: Makes a 9×13″ cake Preheat oven to 350.

1 1/4 cup boiling water

1 cup regular oats

1 stick (1/2 cup) softened butter

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup light brown sugar, packed

2 eggs

1 heaping teas cinnamon

1 teas vanilla

1 1/2 cups flour

1 teas soda

Pour boiling water over oats in a small bowl and allow to sit for at least 20 minutes.

Cream butter and both sugars. Add unbeaten eggs, cinnamon and vanilla. Mix well and then add oats, flour and soda.

Pour batter into greased 9×13 pan and bake for about 40 minutes or until cake is just done. While cake is baking prepare topping.

Topping:

Combine 4 tables butter, 2/3 cup light brown sugar, 1 cup coconut, 1 cup chopped pecans, 4 tables Eagle Brand Condensed milk and 2 egg yolks. Mix well and pour over cake as soon as you take it out of the oven. Return to oven and bake another 10 minutes. *That is why you just want to bake, just until it is almost finished baking, when you pour the topping over, since it will finish baking those last 10 minutes.