Build The Wall: A Non-political Post


A week before Christmas the sand mortar chimney was persuaded to come down. My oldest son climbed up into a hole in what will be the new kitchen ceiling, placed boards crosswise to create a make shift floor in the attic,  then asked for a ladder to be handed up to him. He stood on the ladder and still worked over his head, to knock the chimney down brick by brick. Being December, it was quite cold that Sunday, but we had a fun day and a fun time doing it. And now we have plenty of artisan brick for walkways and a pottager. Exciting!

The tongue and groove boards that covered the chimney breast were sorted and stored. Tenpenny nails had kept them secured to the rough hewn studs for over a 100 years. They had to be removed so the chimney could come down. In the chimneys place there will be a shiney new refrigerator. Possibly a cabinet of some sort.

Guess how I spent my Friday evening  and my Saturday morning? Yep, yanked all those giant nails from the tongue and groove boards. It was kind of therapeutic.  If a nail proved to be a little recalcitrant, I imagined someone’s face (will remain nameless) on the nail head and whacked away at it till it came out.

I had a birthday party to attend: my grandson turned one. He is so stinking cute! He smiled when he saw me and reached out for me to hold him. Best thing ever, being a grandmother. We get to relive the days when we were raising our own children, see their faces in their children’s faces and say “He gets that grin or that pout from So-and-So.”

Brentlee Gabriel. Isn’t he a cutie!

Out at my house the azaleas are in full bloom, almost. They are way early, because even though it was very cold in December, this winter has been a mild one. As I always do, I walked my gardens and took a few pictures.

In the curve of that shadow are huckleberries. They too are blooming.
Pride of Mobile at the base of the cowcumber.

I hope your weekend is a good one, whether spent with family or enjoying a solitary refresher.

Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.



Ecclesiastes 3 says “there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” 

Time at my farmhouse today was quiet and solitary. Old brown painted back porch walls became a serene blue. The sun slow danced across the restored pine floorboards. The 2″ angled brush was rinsed and reshaped and put away for another weekend.

As I always do, I took a walk around my property before leaving this sunny, winter afternoon.

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The cowcumber  (big leaf magnolia) soared to the clear sky. Country blue, and looking a little forlorn, the mailbox yawned open. George Taber shyly peered through a tangle of limbs. Yellow daffodils waved in the light breeze at the back patio. A broken wooden backboard wobbled under the giant and waxy magnolia.

Like the farmhouse, the old gardens need refurbishing. Someone else’s past is my future. The azaleas are impatient and blooming early. They may get a lesson in patience, by way of another super freeze. Patience…learning it is never easy.

“A time to tear down and a time to build.”  


Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.

I Got On the Pumpkin Bandwagon


I resisted as long as I could, but gave in this morning before leaving to go work on my farm house. What did I give in to? The pumpkin craze that happens this time of year caught up to me. There was that can of pumpkin in the pantry and pie isn’t what I felt like making- oh, by the way. Did you hear that your favorite canned pumpkin is really yellow squash? Yep. There was an article about it a couple of weeks ago. I wonder if I offer anyone a piece of squash pie this Thanksgiving if I’ll have any takers.

Instead of making pie this morning, I made pumpkin bread.  As always, this bread is not too sweet and great with a cup of coffee.

Here’s the recipe and what to do:

In the bowl of your mixer, combine one 15 ounce can of pumpkin (not pie filling), 2/3 cup white sugar, 3 eggs, 2/3 cup olive oil and 2 teaspoons vanilla. Mix till combined.

In another bowl, whisk together 3 cups all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup chopped pecans, 1 teaspoon salt, 2 teaspoons baking soda, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon cloves, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder. Once completely combined, pour into the pumpkin mixture and slowly turn on your mixer. The batter will be very stiff. When mixed, divide dough equally into 2 bread pans, that have been sprayed with Pam.  Place in 350° oven and bake for about 80 minutes. Test with a wooden skewer stabbed in the middle. If it comes out clean, your bread is done. Cool before cutting.20161022_081637

Out at my farm house, the weather was perfect. Couldn’t ask for a prettier day than today. Cool temps, clear blue skies. No butterflies this morning, but the honey bees were busy in the pink sasanqua.

I worked today in what use to be the original kitchen. It has been gutted and will be my son’s bedroom and en suite. Its amazing what a couple if coats of primer will do to brighten a  dark fire place mantel. Again, slow progress is still progress.

My old barn is ancient, with quiet stalls lining both sides and a set of stairs to the second story. No floor on the third story, yet, but one day.

Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.

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Checked Out


Payday equals grocery run. Groan with a slight snarl. It’s just the three of us, in our multigenerational household: my Same-age-as-her-tongue-and-a-little-older-than-her-teeth Mother, my 19 year old college aged son and myself. My son requested apples and vanilla Activia yogurt. My mother asked for two bottles of cranberry juice, a bag of marshmallows and Pop Tarts.

The grocery side of the store with the big W on it was packed this evening. In the frozen food section, buggies and people congested the aisle, so I decided that we really didn’t need any quick frozen dinners; I’d just go home and make something instead. As I turned my buggy around, I noticed a guy on his phone and thought to myself, ‘Probably calling his wife to ask what he needed to pick up on his way home. How thoughtful of him.’ Well, then I saw that he noticed me too and did 180 watching me as I passed down the aisle. I thought, ‘Do I know him?’ Then I got a little aggravated.  ‘Jerk,’ I said to myself. ‘There he is on the phone with his wife and he’s eyeing me in the frozen foods section.’ I gave him a shoulder as cold as a Stouffer’s lasagna.

I finished my shopping and got in the shortest check out line. And guess who was ahead of me? Yep. Mr. Frozen Foods. He was unloading TV dinners for one and granola bars from his shopping cart and again he turned to look at me. Not rudely, just trying to see if he wanted to start a conversation. I gave him a tiny, polite smile and noticed two things: he had a case of water under his buggy and he wore no wedding ring.

I began to wind back my first assumption of Mr. Frozen Foods. Maybe he wasn’t married. On the back of his work shirt was a logo. A quick Google search and I found out where he worked. Kinda. The company sells o-rings and hydraulic lift things.

As I had checked out the contents of his buggy, he covertly spied my shopping items. Apples, cranberry juice, yogurt, bacon, milk, Special K, Pop Tarts, marshmallows and a small stack of baby books for my grandson-it’s his birthday, by the way.

Did I see a tiny flicker of disappointment in his eyes? Then I realized he had done the same thing with me that I had done with him- he presumed.I had presumed he ad a wife. He figured I had a bunch of kids at home. The look on his face said, ‘Hmmmm. I wonder how many she’s got at home?’ I wanted to tell him, you know with all the charm and flirtation I could smash together (God knows I’m out of practice), that the books were for my grandson and the Pop Tarts were for my mother. And why shouldn’t she enjoy her Pop Tarts? If you get to be her Same-age-as-her-tongue-and-a-little-older-than-her-teeth years you could eat whatever you wanted to, too.

Oh, well. He paid for his groceries and politely told the cashier to have a nice evening.

I went home and joked to my mother that her Pop Tarts and marshmallows had cost me a date.

I got checked out while waiting to be checked out.

Happy Birthday, Brentlee!


Sewing On This Sad Sunday Evening


I’ve been at my sewing machine this Sunday evening. An inexpensive set of plain white sheets needed a little dressing up. A couple of $3.00 spools of thread did the trick.


I learned to sew in jr. high and still enjoy it. Sewing is therapy and I end up with something pretty or useful. With the sheet set, I had first thought I would add a span of lace, but I couldn’t find any in my price range that was pretty enough. So, I decided to buy a couple spools of light blue thread and sew a decorative trim on the pillow cases and flat sheet. A couple of hours later, because of a contrary bobbin case, and I had homemade designer sheets.


It’s been a sad Sunday evening. At lunch I learned that one of my cousins had passed away from cancer. Sweet memories, fun recollections filled my mind as I worked at my sewing machine.

Homer Cooper was a big man, but gentle and loving. Funny, smart. There’s a picture around here somewhere of me up high on his shoulders. I was no more than 3 and he a young teenager. My family had been visiting my Dad’s family in Shreveport and it was time to say good-bye. A camera was brought out to snap a few family photos. Homer scooped me up for a picture. He’s smiling in the photo, I look a little scared. I thought he was surely a giant!

That is only one memory. So many more.

I send prayers and love to those Homer leaves behind. We grieve. But I am certain, that given the choice between being in Heaven or being back on this fallen earth, Homer would choose Heaven.

I Don’t Know Their Names

50 all yellow and 25 pink faced daffodils were planted near the road

The countryside  of my future home is filled with gentle hills. Winter has stripped the hardwoods of their leaves and swathed grey brown is juxtaposed against tall, green, plantation pine. The horizon seems stacked on top of each other, as if waiting for something to arrive or simply resting.

At my house yesterday I had planned on painting the back porch, but the storms earlier in the week had knocked out the power. Not knowing when it would be restored, I opted to do what I love more than anything: planting flowers. As soon as Christmas is over I start dreaming of warm, sunny days and bouquets of flowers.


This arrived in my p.o. box last week. Johnny’s Selected Seeds is my favorite catalog for flower seeds. I have bought from this company for years and have always been very pleased with the results. I’ve started planning the cutting garden and promise to share pictures later in the year.

Earlier in the month, online,  I found American Meadows and ordered daffodils and day lilies. The day lilies will come later. The daffodils shipped a few weeks ago. The rain we had last week made the ground perfect for planting bulbs. And I was tickled to see that the dirt under the trees was the color of devils food cake. Traditional yellow, but also some with white petals and pink faces, I naturalized the daffodils in a patch of ground between a double trunked magnolia down nearly  to the base of a huge water oak. Deer don’t like daffodils, so I’m confident the trumpet like flowers will grow and multiply.

50 all yellow and 25 pink faced daffodils were planted near the road

Before I left for the day, I walked through the jungle of camellias. The bees took advantage of the mild temps yesterday and were having a garden party in the rain soaked flowers.

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I do not know the names of the different camellias, but that does not take away from my enjoying them.

Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.

Mixing It Up


I have a confession to make: I am a freak for mixing bowls. To say I have a collection is an understatement. The pic below is not all the bowls that I own. Many are still in storage. And even though I knew that I have many more bowls in storage, I came home with two more for mixing and the little set of custard cups last Tuesday.20170115_112953

I already had the large, white, swirl Fire King bowl. So, when I saw the little one I snatched it up. These are pretty enough to serve in, as well as mix up something delicious. The other white bowl has a snowflake garland around the top, made by Pyrex. Can’t you just see some red Jello salad in it, all giggly and happy?

The two sets of classic, graduated Pyrex bowls were kitchen staples in homes in my mother’s generation and her’s before her. The set on the right, I pieced together on many junking trips. The set on the right- three were my Aunt Lina’s and the pink was my Grandmother’s. I really just use the set that I put together and keep the others safe on a self.

Whenever I see old custard cups I buy them. Multipurpose, they are great for a quick half cup measure, to serve pudding or ice cream or bake custard in- duh!

Today I mixed up some old fashioned gingerbread, in my big go-to bowl: the big tan, red striped, stoneware bowl. A Christmas gift form my mother bought at William Sonoma, there use to 3 of them,  but the smallest got broken. (Sad face.)

Here is the recipe for Old Fashioned Gingerbread


2 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup white sugar

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 1/2 ground ginger

1/2 tsp ground cloves

1/2 cup melted butter

1 cup molasses

1 egg

1/2 butter milk

1/4 cup boiling water

What to do:

Preheat oven to 350° and spray an 8″ by 8″ pan with vegetable spray.

In a large mixing bowl, sift together all dry ingredients.


Stir in melted butter, molasses, egg and butter milk. Then beat in the boiling water. Pour into your prepared pan and bake for 45 to 50 minutes.


While it’s baking, in a small bowl mix 1 cup confectioners sugar, 2 teaspoons yellow mustard, a splash of milk and a sprinkling of ground ginger. Why a mustard glaze, you are probably asking. My father loved gingerbread and would smear yellow mustard on  his square of spiced goodness. Don’t turn up your nose. Try it. Let me know what you think.


Last step: let it cool and then spread on the glaze. Cut like a snack cake and enjoy.

Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.



Skillet corbread

Last day of 2016; it finally got here.

I can hear Ella Fitzgerald singing What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?  Well, to answer that, not a whole lot!

A morning of pampering myself, going to the hardware store, and then out to my house to discuss options with the gentleman refinishing 115 year old pine floors.

Jimmy is on top of things out at my old farmhouse.

Took an informal poll on Facebook to see what others were having tomorrow for their New Year’s day dinner. Black eyed peas and cornbread was on everyone’s menu. The meat portion varied a bit, common theme being some dish of pork. Two Boston butts showed up in the running, however. Potato salad also appeared to make the list. I don’t think of potato salad during the cooler months – always think of it for the 4th of July. To round out everyone’s menu tomorrow,  the choice green is cabbage. 

My pampering started with making up a batch of my head to toe body scrub. Equal parts coconut oil and baking soda, a little sugar and lemon zest.


I am also putting a rinse on my hair. My prerogative.  Am I vain? Maybe a little. But aren’t we all about something? Perfectly clean house, in the perfect neighborhood.  The perfect SUV, parked in the garage of that perfect house, in the perfect neighborhood. Ooh, I guess I’m judging now, but let’s face it,  some of you judged me because I color my hair. I forgive you.

Which is something I have learned to do this last year. Forgiving the one or ones who hurt you and do you dirt, is for your benefit more than it is theirs.   It is my duty as a Christian to forgive, but here’s something to chew on along with your New Year’s dinner: it’s not my ‘right’ to be forgiven.   Think about it for a while. I know people who throw out scripture about forgiveness and judging others,  but they never change, making it really hard to forgive. Forgiveness isn’t a one-and-done. We’re all human and ain’t nobody perfect, so we must  go back to the well of human kindness and pull up another bucket of forgiveness. Even if they have never asked, do forgive them anyway and then give them to God.

Skillet corbread

What’s on our menu tomorrow? Pork chops (Mama’s request), cabbage,  black eyed peas, skillet cornbread, and stewed down apples.

Happy New Year!

Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.

Peppermint Fudge


It’s a new recipe for me; quick and easy  Peppermint Fudge. I usually make cooked fudge from scratch, like my mother and her mother before her. But my time this year is limited and I’m all about making life as easy as possible. So, I found this recipe and tweaked it a bit.


2- 10 ounce packages of white Ghirardelli melting chocolate

1 can sweetened condensed milk

1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract

30- crushed Bob’s Sweet Stripes mints

What to do:

Line an 8×8 pan with tin foil.

In a 3 quart pot melt white chocolate over low heat and stir in sweetened condensed milk. When the chocolate is fully melted and combined with the milk, add peppermint extract and fold in crushed mints.


Pour into foil lined pan. Chill in refrigerator till firm. Turn out onto cutting board and cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces.


I made this for gifts, so I wrapped it up in doily lined pastry boxes, adorned with seasonal stickers.



Christmas Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.

Keep Kicking the Penny: Word Of Encouragement

It will eventually come up heads

It’s cold and I do not function well in cold weather. I know what you’re thinking: How cold could it possibly get in SW MS? This morning it’s a balmy 31° with a windchill of 25°. Thankfully it’s sunny today, but the winds are racing straight out of the North.

Enough of the weather report.

When I added my time card today it added up to 6.66. !  -6.98 + 13.64= 6.66. !

I had to distribute the Community Coffee order around campus. The small yellow hand truck wasn’t up to the task. And as I have said,  ‘Baby its cold outside!’ Thinking I would save a few steps getting into another building, I went in the closest door. Heavy door, small-overloaded hand truck, key pad for alarm at opposite end of the building… Please, Mr. Officer. I really do work here. Just trying to do it and I need an extra set of hands.

I put away that buildings coffee and went to another. On my way to the next building, I spied a penny on the sidewalk. Tails.  Wudint picking it up. Did what I needed to do, reached in my pocket for my $1 for the Coke machine and there was no $1. Grrrrrr.

I grumbled all the way outside, across the parking lot, wind whipping my hair around, my eyeballs frozen open. But lying near the sidewalk was my dollar. I picked it up and walked over to the penny. It was still tails. So, I kicked it! It came up heads.

Moral? Is there a point?

Here ’tis: Big or small life is going to be filled with aggravation and troubles. My troubles were small today. In my recent past my troubles were huge. I know many going through things I cannot imagine dealing with.

We all know Phillipians 4:13. I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.  Hebrews 13:5 is another that keeps me going. He will never leave me nor forsake me.

This life is tough and cold. Keep kicking the penny. It will eventually come up heads.

Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.

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