Rebuilding Our Home

Today I was searching through FaceBook to see if there were any good recipes when I came across this poem by Jodi Dupree. Yes, I am her mom and yes, I could not be more proud to be her mom, but when I read this, I cried. Jodi has a blog titled To Dance With You, which is a blog of poetry. But this poem, this poem, has a special meaning to anyone who has ever tried to build a home on anything but God. He is our Solid Rock and the foundation of any relationship that is built on anything else lacks the peace and fulfillment of what God intended to give us. As you read this blog, may your eyes be turned to the One who can give us that foundation. He is the perfect Carpenter….
Asa 127:1 “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain.”

I saw gaping holes in the walls of my home.
Where wind and water came through
The wind would howl, the curtains blow,
Yet there was nothing I could do.
My hands were not skilled for this

The damages beyond my scope
If left to fix this on my own
I’d have no reason to hope
Still, I worked day and night

Patching where I could
Eliciting help from others
From anyone who would
But the storms kept coming

Faster than the repairs were made
Ready to give up
I called it a day
Then my Father showed up

Ah, yes, the Carpenter
He said, “move aside dear,
I’ll take it from here.”
His hands began working

With such skill and ease
I knew He was the expert
Of whom we had need.
He first revealed the patches
That were causing the harm

He saw the break in the foundation
And faulty wiring in our alarm.
Yes, this job was way too big for me

His expertise far surpassed my own
And here He was now helping us
and would not stop till He rebuilt our home.

Fettuccine Alfredo With Asparagus

This has been such a great week. Not only did I find a great new series on Netflix called The Paradise about a turn of the century shopping store, we have had so much rain. Rain always makes me want to live in the kitchen because of the coolness in the air and the black clouds which (apparently I must be half witch because I love dark clouds and rain) always brings out my baking mood. Because we are going to the evening church service instead of our normal “get up and git to church” routine, we were able to make taquitos for breakfast and homemade cinnamon rolls, which just came out of the oven. We have a friend going with us to church and back here for dinner tonight, so of course, there is now a pork roast in the crockpot.

Sundays are the perfect day for baking, before or after going to worship. When I saw this recipe in an old Southern Living magazine, I realized that the only thing that needed to be purchased before making it was the asparagus. So this will be our new recipe for this week. I’m trying to decide if I will post the recipe for the cinnamon rolls and the pork roast. If I can stay out of the kitchen long enough to blog, I will post pictures of the rolls and the roast and will probably post the recipes. In the meantime, as you begin to think and plan this weeks menu, put this recipe on your list. You will be glad you did.

8 oz uncooked fettuccine
1 tsp olive oil
1 lb fresh asparagus spears, trimmed and cut into 2″ pieces
3/4 teas kosher salt, divided
1/2 teas ground black pepper, divided
1 teas lemon zest
2 teas fresh lemon juice
1 tables butter
1 tables vodka or water
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 oz cream cheese
1/4 cup milk (I use half & half)
6 tables grated Parmesan cheese
1 tables chopped fresh chives

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain in a colander over a large bowl. Reserve 1/4 cup cooking water.
Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add oil, swirl to coat. Add asparagus,1/4 teas salt and 1/4 teas of the pepper. Sauce until tender crips, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat. Add lemon zest and juice; toss. Keep warm.

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium. Add vodka (or water) and garlic. Cook 1 minute. Add team cheese, stirring until smooth. Stir in milk, Parmesan cheese and remaining 1/2 teas salt and 1/4 teas pepper. Stir in reserved cooking water pasta and asparagus. Toss. Sprinkle with chives

Italian Meatball Munchies

Last night we had spaghetti & meatballs for some friends. Since we had some sauce and meatballs left over, I decided to use them in a new way this evening. Using slices of baguette, we sliced a couple of the meatballs and made our own little munchies. As we were eating them, it dawned on me how great these would be for a party appetizer. Perfect little snack when you are wanting a light meal, but want something with lots of flavor. *recipe for spaghetti & meatballs are on blog

1 baguette, sliced thin

Left over spaghetti sauce or pizza sauce
mozzarella cheese
meatballs, sliced thin

Olive oil
garlic powder

Use as many baguette slices as you need. Using equal amounts of butter and olive oil, melt together and add garlic powder to taste. Using a pastry brush, spread the garlic-olive oil-butter mixture onto one side of each bread slice. Place bread slices on a baking sheet and place in oven and broil until slices are lightly toasted.
Remove from oven and turn slices over. Spoon some of the sauce onto each slice and then place a slice of meatball on each piece. Sprinkle cheese over the top and place back in oven and broil until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbly.

Serve immediately.

Kentucky Blessings Cake

Happy Fall Y’all! Temperatures are falling, as they know they should since it is officially Fall and the oven is on. The new owners who bought our home are coming for coffee/dessert this afternoon. When I was trying to decide what to bake for them, this cake came to mind. It was posted last year on the blog and the real name is Kentucky Butter Cake (so that is what you would put in the search bar) but seeing how God has answered so many of our prayers regarding this move and His provision, today it is being called Kentucky Blessing Cake as we celebrate the blessings of this season which have come to us by our Loving Heavenly Father. Of course, we all know that our lives have seasons when we don’t feel like our prayers are going beyond the walls of our homes. There are days, sometimes, months, maybe even years when we feel like God has turned His back on us. It is during those times when we have to trust His heart when we are not seeing His Hand. We just have seasons when He is trying to grow us spiritually and show us that He is always there, no matter if we feel His presence or not. But when it is a season of blessing and seeing prayers answered, should we not give Him the glory and thanks? His Word tells us in Psalm 103:1-5 “Praise the Lord, I tell myself; with my whole heart, I will praise His holy name.
Praise the Lord, I tell myself; and never forget the good things he does for me.
He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He ransoms me from death and surrounds me with love and tender mercies.
He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!”

As we should always be so grateful for the seasons of blessings, may we never forget to thank Him for all He has done and continues to do to bring us closer to Him as He gives us good things to show His love toward us.

Sometime this Fall, look up Kentucky Butter Cake (it is a one bowl easy and quick recipe), bake it, and as you serve it, use it to tell your family/friends that you are serving them a Kentucky Blessing Cake and be ready to share God’s Love with them! Bake and use it for His glory.

Desert Dreams

We have lived in Arizona for a little over 2 years, moving here from Texas. We arrived here thinking that we were where we would live out the rest of our days, hoping that those days would certainly turn into many years. It has been a time of growth, both spiritually and emotionally. We have fallen in love with the beautiful sunrises and sunsets and the people who have befriended us in this short time.

While we were here, it became evident that we had moved here thinking that we would just stay here since one of our daughter’s and her family were here and could help us as we grew older. It was with this mindset that both of us realized that we weren’t ready to “get old” yet. We missed the adventure that we were use to living. We have been so fortunate to be able to travel quite a bit with Randy’s job the past 20 years and have seen so many different places that we began to dream again, once again, about hitting the open road.

When we truly sat down one day to talk this out, we realized that we weren’t ready to just sit here and live with a certain routine. We have never had the opportunity to live by our daughter which lives in Florida. We had always dreamed about staying in Italy for a while and live like a local. Being our age, we have been very blessed with great health and decided to live our dream. We put our house on the market and it sold in 6 days. A sweet friend has given us use of her condo in Florida for a couple of months and we are thrilled to be able to begin planning our trip to Italy.

We began with these plans by asking the Lord to guide us and to either open or shut the door of this opportunity. We have gone ahead of Him before (doing our will, not His) and do not want to do that again. We don’t want to make our plans and ask Him to bless them, but to give Him our desires and then surrender our will to His. We aren’t saying that there might not be bends in the road, or maybe He will shut the door on us going to Italy. We don’t know but we do know that we can always trust Him for his faithfulness and goodness. He does know the desires of our hearts so He will either bless those or show us some other plan that is best. Either way, we are fine. Some of the lessons we feel that we were to learn during our time here are very simple in words, but so hard to actually live.
Be content with where you are and with what you have.
Leaving behind people and memories which have greatly impacted our lives have been hard to adjust to. I remember hearing a lady back in Dallas whose husband had been transferred many many times was once ask which place that she had lived was her favorite. Her response every time was this: “the place where we are now”. Those words have stayed with me and have played an important part of this season. We can always find negatives anywhere we go, but the challenge is to find as many positives and dwell on those. It has taken me a couple of years here to truly do just that. I’m not proud of that, but that is reality. We have found a group of people who we truly love and enjoy “doing life” with. We have found our new normal of not always being on the go and being so involved with activities that we barely had time to breathe. But in the process, we found that we do miss some of the life that we left behind. We do not know where we will settle after Italy, but our prayer is that God will let us finish strong and fulfill our purpose, wherever and whatever that may be.

Proverbs 16:9 “The heart of man plans his way,but the Lord establishes his steps” We know that to be true.

When we signed the contract last week for this house, we still had so many concerns such as where will we go for the months of Nov and December? Will we have to move to an apartment for a couple of months? The Lord took care of that also. The new owners were thrilled to have us rent back from them until December 31st. That took a huge concern from us. We don’t pretend to know exactly what the next few months hold for us. We understand that things could arise that are not expected, or our plans to go to Italy might or might not come to fruition. As I read this devotion this morning by Elizabeth Elliot, it says so beautifully what I am trying to say.




Hebrews 11:8 “it was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going.”

Following God is always an adventure! sometimes not easy, but ultimately grows our faith and dependence on Him. Thanks be to God for His goodness and blessings.

Stuffed Like a Squash?

Legally it is Fall. That means that I can crave cornbread dressing from this point on without the guilt. In summer, I feel so guilty telling people that I just have to have some dressing, when everyone is walking around with an ice cream cone in their hands or nibbling on crisp lettuce. But now….now, I can stand up and announce, “hi, my name is Trudy and I am a dressingaholic”. I think I could eat it every other day, in-between the hamburgers and pizza that I crave.
This morning after making sugar cookies while stuffing movie bags with Hersheys Chocolate bars and M&M’s to take to the movies with 8 of our closet friends this evening, dressing would not leave my mind. So luckily I had a zucchini still in the fridge. AND…a box of Stove Top Cornbread Dressing. I never use it during the holidays, (as nothing can take the place of homemade dressing)just when I am binge dressing eating during the summer or pre holiday. It satisfies my craving for dressing and makes an excellent side dish to go with the chicken fried steak we are having for lunch. Normally, this would be a meal for dinner, but since we will be gone watching “God Bless the Open Road tonight, our dinner will consist of popcorn, cookies and candy.
Yep, gotta have a good healthy meal before eating all the junk. So broccoli with butter and cheese, stuffed zucchini with the dressing with chicken fried steak and gravy. Then we don’t have to feel guilty for all the junk food we will consume tonight. Nothing says healthy eating like chicken fried steak and gravy!

1 large zucchini, washed, cut in half horizontally
1 box of Stove Top Cornbread Dressing (made according to directions on side of box, except that i added about a teas of sage to the boiling water before adding the dry dressing. I was going to tell you to place the leftover dressing that you don’t use in a ziplock bag and pace in freezer for stuffing mushrooms or a chicken breast or more squash, That was my plan until I stood at the stove and “snacked” on the leftover dressing. Not too much to freeze for a later use now.

Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper to taste

Scrape the middle of the squash out, either with a scoop or spoon, reserving or discarding. Be careful not to cut the outside of the squash, allowing it to be a “boat” for the dressing.
Using a pastry brush, apply a very thin coat of olive oil to the inside of the raw squash. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
Using a large tablespoon, fill the zucchini with about a 1/2 cup of the prepared dressing to each half of the squash. Bake in preheated 400 oven until squash is tender. About 20 minutes. If dressing begins to dry out, cover with foil.

Brown Sugar Streusel Pumpkin Muffins

It is still 100 outside, but I cannot wait any longer to begin making pumpkin everything. So today I went looking for a new different recipe for some pumpkin bread and found this one. It sounded so good with the brown sugar streusel that I began to read her blog and knew that this one would be a winner. Since I’m making it for some ladies who I sit with on Tuesday mornings at church, what better way to study Genesis that with a pumpkin muffin? You would love the aroma that is coming out of our kitchen right now. You might just forget that it is hot outside for a few minutes when you smell the pumpkin, cinnamon and cloves drawing you in the door. Taken from the blog called, Friends.Food.Famiy


1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup butter melted and slightly cooled
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teas salt

Stir flour with both sugars and salt. Add cooled melted butter to mixture and stir until crumbly. Set aside

Pumpkin Bread

1 cup oil
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs
2 teas cinnamon
1/2 teas nutmeg
1/4 teas cloves
1/4 teas ginger
1 teas salt
2 teas baking soda
3 1/2 cups flour
2 cups (15 oz can) of pumpkin puree
2/3 cup water (I used 1/3 cup water and 1/3 cup coffee left over from this morning)

Preheat oven to 350. Place oil and sugars in a large mixing bowl. Using electric mixer, mix the oil with the sugars until well combined. Add the pumpkin puree and mix well. Add the eggs, one at a time to the pumpkin mixture.

In a separate mixing bowl, mix the flour with the cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, salt and baking soda.

Alternately add the flour and water (coffee) mixture to the pumpkin mixture, beating well after each addition. Pour into prepared (greased or liners) muffin tins, loaf pans or aluminum foil disposable pans. Divide the streusel topping among the cakes, sprinkling over the tops before baking.
Bake until cakes test done. Time will depend upon the size of container you are baking in.

*Taken from the blog Friends.Food.Family, November 2012

Chocolate Almond Pie

Several years ago, I posted this pie after making it and realizing that it would become a favorite of our family. My oldest son, Jason, isn’t much of a dessert person. He likes two things, Texas sheet cake and this almond pie. It is a great pie to make and keep in the freezer for when friends or family drop by. It is very simple but very rich. I made it last night for dinner with friends this evening. They have never tasted its before so will be fun to see their reaction.

1 chocolate cookie pie shell
15 regular sized marshmallows
6 regular sized Hershey Bars with almonds
1 teas almond extract
2 & 1/2 cups whipping cream (divided)

In heavy saucepan, melt the candy bars with the 1/2 cup whipping cream and marshmallows until all are melted and combined. Add the almond extract and stir until mixed in. Set aside to cool for about an hour.

After mixture is cool, whip one cup of the whipping cream until stiff peaks form and hold well and then add the cooled chocolate mixture and stir in altogether. Pour into the chocolate crust. Let sit at least 4 hours or you can cover the pie with Press & Seal and freeze until ready to serve.

Before serving, allow pie to sit in fridge for at least 4-6 hours. (If pie has been frozen, this will allow it to thaw enough to serve)

Whip the remaining 1 cup of whipping cream with 1/3 cup powdered sugar until stiff peaks form. Top the chocolate pie with whipping cream and serve.

Makes 6-8 servings.

Old Fashioned Banana Pudding with a Twist (actually several twists)

This weekend we were invited to a dinner party, where I had volunteered to bring the dessert. It has come to my attention that we aren’t that well liked, they just invite us so I will bring the dessert, as folks know that I love to bake and use any opportunity for a reason to do so. Also, Jodi had invited some of their friends over on Saturday night and of course, and I had volunteered to make her dessert for her gathering as well. When given her choice of what she wanted me to make she choose banana pudding. Being that that is not one of my favorite desserts with the vanilla wafers, I quickly remembered Paula Deens banana pudding which steps up traditional banana pudding about 10 notches. That was my deciding factor, remembering standing in our kitchen, licking the bowl of Paula Deens banana pudding several years back. She uses Pepperidge Farm Chessman cookies instead of vanilla wafers and adds several ingredients making this a most richly flavored dessert. By the time I got to the store, I decided to just make a double batch, one for the Duprees and one to take to our dinner party. Walking through the grocery store I started thinking about the chessman cookies and decided that I would use a crust that is so easy and yet so delicious instead of the Chessman cookies! It is the crust which is used for Texas Panhandler Yum Yum’s. Now, it was all coming together. That would be the crust, and Paula Deens filling for the pudding. All that to say…….here is the version that was made and devoured Saturday night.
When Jodi called this morning she told me that her company ask what the crust was because it was just delicious. Trust me on this, you will love the combination of the flavors and the ease of which it is made.

Thank you Paula for sharing more of the Southern dishes that make our lives a little more heavenly with each bite.

Preheat oven to 350.

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts
1/2 cup butter

Melt butter in microwave safe bowl. When completely melted, add the flour and the nuts. Stir to combine and place in either a 9×13 or a 11×7″ pan. If using the 11×7, the crust of course will be a little thicker. I was making it for 6, so I used that size. I made Jodi’s in 9×13 because she was serving 9. Either works fine.
Spread crust ingredients in pan using your fingers until dough is spread evenly in pan and bake in preheated oven for about 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. IF using the 9×13 it won’t take as long to bake. Cool crust completely. Set aside.

2-3 bananas
1 (3 oz) package of french vanilla instant pudding *see below
1 (3 oz) package of white chocolate instant pudding
1 (8 oz) softened cream cheese)
1 can of Sweetened Condensed Milk (Eagle Brand)
1 (8 oz) container Cool Whip, thawed

Topping * See Below
1 1/2 cups cold heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar

Whip softened cream cheese with the Eagle Brand milk until well combined. Add the Cool Whip and beat just until well mixed. Set aside in fridge while making pudding.

Beat both packages with 3 cups of cold milk until thick. (recipe on box will say use 2 cups for each box, but do not do this, just use the 3 cups for the 2 boxes combined) When thickened, add to the cream cheese mixture and mix thoroughly. Slice 2-3 banana over cooled crust. Spoon pudding mixture over the sliced bananas. Place in fridge, covered with plastic wrap.

Whipped topping

It is very important to use a very clean, grease free bowl to whip cream. any grease will cause the whipping cream not to thicken. Using 1 1/2 cups very cold heavy whipping cream, add 1/2 cup powdered sugar and whip until whipping cream is thick and holds its shape, about 3-4 minutes. Spoon over chilled pudding mixture and keep covered in fridge until ready to serve.
Cut into squares and serve with more sliced bananas on top if desired.

*I use French vanilla instead of the banana instant pudding, just because I don’t like so much banana flavor. But you can use banana instant pudding if you like a more banana flavor.
*if you don’t like or want to use whipped cream for topping buy an extra Cool Whip and use instead.

Seasons of Change

As I sit here looking out the window and waiting for my sweet husband to come back from talking to the listing agent, my mind is swirling around thinking about so many things. Once again, we are boxing up dishes and linens. Christmas Decorations and out of season clothes are being sorted as we tape up box after box. After we left for a month this summer to Texas and California, we came back with a dream of selling the house and heading to Italy for 3 months. Quickly we began to sort out different plans and decided that before Italy, we would love to go stay a while in Florida by our daughter and her family. Since they live clear across the good ole USA, we don’t get to see them as much as we would like, so we called Christi and started planning our adventure. We learned last night from a friend that the Villages are only an hour from our kids there in Florida so we might stay there and learn square dancing or alligator watching while Kenley is in school during the day.
When we arrived in Arizona, we didn’t think that we would ever get the opportunity to head back to Italy, especially for 3 months, but as these last two years have taught us, you never know the possibilities that will present themselves.
Sitting on the beach at Newport in July, we listened to the waves and enjoyed the cool sea breeze as we discussed what was going on in our hearts. Neither one of us are ready to just sit and wait to get old. We miss the adventures which use to tide us from one season to another. As we sat here one evening quickly answering the questions to Family Feud, Randy looked over at me and said, “ok, this is ridiculous, we need to go to Italy and get away from the TV”. So we got out all of our Italy maps and books and began to plan our escape.

It is exciting, but yet a little nerve wracking to think that I will be without all my baking pans and cute dish towels that go with every season. Gone will be all my Christmas decorations, including the 5 trees that light up my house. What will I tell my Southern friends who decorate each and every room with a different themed tree, when all I will have is a Christmas bracelet and necklace because all my “treasures” will be in storage.
Then Valentines, when I love to serve decorated sugar cookies on heart shaped plates. Oh no, Easter! What will my short term lease house look like without Easter bunnies and Easter themed plates? Do not get me started on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. All I know is I will have to buy a suitcase large enough to pack some Christmas, Valentine, St Patricks Day, and Easter decorations dish towels to use where ever we stay. As we planned our adventure, we realized that we need a box of clothes for winter, since we will be going to Dallas in January for a few days. We need clothes to go to Mexico with friends in January. Clothes for Florida for two months, then clothes for Italy. Im not sure, but I don’t think I remember seeing a Walmart in Italy. So am thinking of trying to find a continuing education class on how to pack a suitcase for all the different seasons.

As seasons of our lives change, we are finding out that our thoughts and desires change as well. Selling the house will be bittersweet. We have loved this house and have many great memories of having family and friends over for dinner. Randy and I also enjoyed a season of sitting out in the sunroom most mornings with coffee (well I had my Diet Dr Pepper, he had coffee) all the while having a morning devotion and would just sit and talk to each other. It was a different season of not being in a hurry to get someplace, but to simply sit and talk. I learned things about him that I did not know. He learned things about me that maybe he didn’t want to know. But we have met some precious folks here that mean so much to us already. As we pack and plan, we are praying that whatever God has planned for us in this new season, we will be ready to serve Him, no matter where He takes us, or returns us here.

Yes, Seasons change and locations change. One think that does not change is our desire to live and serve according to His purpose and plan for our lives. We learned a few years back never say exactly what we are going to do. God has a way of sometimes showing us that His plans are different from ours. We have learned that the hard way. So as we continue to box up another set of dishes, this thought will end this post today…..
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways, acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths” Proverbs 3:5-6