Cake Mix Jam Bars

I haven’t written out a recipe lately, so here goes…

A boxed cake mix, your choice of yellow or white

2  cups quick oats

3/4 cup of melted butter

1 cup of your favorite jam

1 tablespoon of water

What to do:

Preheat oven to 375°. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine cake mix, oats and butter. Press half of the cookie dough into a shallow baking dish that has been spritzed with vegetable spray.

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Next in a small bowl, mix jam and water together, then spread over the pressed cookie dough. Sprinkle the remaining cookie mixture over the jam.

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Bake till the top crust is slightly brown. Cool before cutting into squares.

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Cool then cut
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Still frozen whipped topping takes the place of ice cream, because we didn’t have any ice cream.

Aunt Gayle’s Day Lily

I dug it up from the front flower bed of the house I once shared with the man that I thought would always be there. Placed right by the front porch, I lovingly tended it year after year. My Aunt Gayle, Mama’s twin sister, loved day lilies. Many hot summer weekends, day trips ended with a trunk load of day lily risomes. Our eyes were often bigger than our flower beds, so more spots in the yards were created.

The one planted by the porch is very special, because my aunt had become ill and we could no longer go on our excursions. One of her daughters brought it to me- a lovely surprise ordered from a flower catalog.

“Mama says it’s suppose to be a true pink, Mandy. Let her know when it blooms or maybe take a picture of it.”

April of 2015 I went out to the house in Amite County to gather bridal wreath and roses (my bridal wreath and my roses) to decorate tables for a wedding shower. While there, I found the shovel and a bucket and dug up Aunt Gayle’s day lily.

There were others around the yard and vegetable garden, the pool deck. And I did think about digging my favorites up that afternoon. They were mine, after all.

But the then soon-to-be-ex showed up and I decided to let them have my flowers (and my fruit trees). I’d had a lot of fun finding and planting them once, Lord willing, I’d get another chance to start over.

The other flowers, had I taken them, would have reminded me of my past. I am over that. Aunt Gayle’s day lily reminds me of her: her smile, her kindness, her laughter. She was a beautiful lady.

I miss you, Aunt Gayle, but a part of you comes for a month long visit every May.

Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.

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Flagging Trees

Psalm 16:5-6

“Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure.

The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.”

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My cousin found the perfect spot for me to start over. A small tract of sloping hills, filled with blooming magnolias, young red oaks and pig nut hickories. Tulip poplars, a few, and lots of water oaks. The one downfall to the property is that menace known as BAMBOO! BOO is right and a great big ‘hiss’, as well. Why anybody would willingly plant that scourge is beyond me, ’cause once it gets out of hand-oh, brother. And it is so out of hand.

I have been trying to get a bulldozer out to the property to take  care of the bamboo and brush piles left by the previous owner. The weather has not been cooperating and the bulldozer guy is backed up with work. Which is okay, I guess. For now. It has given me time to really walk my land and flag the trees that I want to save.

Plans are being made for a fruit orchard and big vegetable garden. This exile loves cooking with fresh ingredients. I praise God for His blessings.

Nashville Rescue Mission

But for the grace of God go I…

I have recently returned from a mission trip, where I had an eye opening experience working in a homeless shelter. The Nashville Rescue Mission is a bright light in a mass of unseen people. Country music stars are the focus in Music City, but there is a forgotten or ignored group of humanity that makes its way to 639 Lafayette Street in Nashville, Tennessee every day.

The Nashville Rescue Mission serves three hot meals a day and with those meals come hope. There is a program to get the homeless off the streets, teach them a trade and get them jobs. They give people a chance to get free of addiction, free of their past and become free to go boldly into their futures.

We met a man named John who was a graduate of the program. Addicted to meth, he started in October of last year and is now working at the mission. He is keeper of the keys to the building- a former three story Sears building. Through tears and halted speech, John told us his story. He had been in and out of many other programs. The difference is that the Nashville Rescue Mission has Jesus as the central focus of rehabilitation. Strength from God, not from  oneself to get clean and sober.

The Monday evening my group worked in the kitchen, I volunteered to peel sweet potatoes. The vegetable peelers we were given to use -well, let’s just say they weren’t that great. A box of new Farber ware vegetable peelers will be mailed this week.

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After we finished kp duty, we made our way to the chapel and had church with the men. I was struck with an image that has not left my mind a week later. You see, not everyone who ate a meal that evening was going through the program, where they would have a clean bed to sleep in and be able to shower everyday and to have three hot meals a day and get an opportunity for a better future.

Some men, for whatever reason, choose to not go through the program.

As the men trickled into the chapel, it became apparent which ones would be staying at the shelter and which ones would be going back to sleep on the streets. Their plastic bags were set at their feet, as they listened to the scripture readings and testimony, the hymns, the prayers.  Inside those plastic bags were a clean blanket and set of clothes.

My prayer is that one night in chapel those men will hear God’s whisper  and instead of settling for the plastic bag and the night air that they would want a right and noble thing. A true relationship with Jesus, a hope and a future.

May God continue to bless the Nashville Rescue Mission. They are run completely on private donations. If you would like to donate their address is: 639 Lafayette Street, Nashville, TN 37203 or nashvillerescuemission.org.

Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.