Shrug It Off

There would have been a time in my life that a day like today would have riled me. Water heater trouble, plus uncapped pex pipe amounted to a flooded room. Again, a few years ago, I would have considered the mishap a big misfortune. Today? I just found a broom and swept the water out of the room and laughed.

I’m almost through with the big set of kitchen cabinets. The uppers are finished; working now on the lowers. They’re not perfect, but they’re paid for. I like them. That’s all the matters, right? Besides, the food will be so fantastic, no one will notice.

 

 

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I reached a stopping point and sat down at my piano. A no. 2 pencil marked  A through G on the old ivory keys, turned yellow with the decades.

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The teacher’s notes and praise belong to another. It’s been 29 years since I’ve played a piano. Looking forward to relearning how.

A flooded floor, non-perfect kitchen cabinets, weak piano notes; shrug it off.

Blessings.

Cabinets

I’ve learned a lot the last few years. Day to day stuff. Sure. Managing life on my own. Well, not completely alone. The One who will never leave me nor forsake me walks with me, or rather, I Him. I try to.

Strength, deep down,  surfaced after age fifty. I come from a long line of strong women. I am fortunate to have such great examples of feminine fortitude.

My father was a mechanical engineer and could build anything. He was more than just creative; he was more than just talented. Smart and brilliant.

Now, I know I’m not as smart as my father was, but I can see the potential in ordinary, or worn out, or throw-away things. During this last year of renovating my farmhouse, I have often reminded myself that I am George L. Ellison’s daughter.

Equally so, I have recalled the courage and resilience of my mother Madoline when we lost my father in 1981. My mother’s full name is Berenice Madoline. She was named for one of her aunts, who was named for a character in a book her father was reading at the time of his daughter’s birth.  Berenice is Greek, meaning ‘to bear’. Her name also means ‘victory’. Both describe my Mama. She had to bear much, to finish rearing her family by herself. I never heard her complain or play the poor widow. Deep down, her strength surfaced. God Bless Her! What a lady! She never lost her femininity.

Several people have told me that they couldn’t do what I have done. My reply? “You could if you had to.” Who knows? You would probably surprise yourself.

I have been painting kitchen cabinets the last few weeks. Have I ever done that before? Nope. YouTube is great for finding out how. Sand and prime. Sand and paint. Sand and paint again. And again, if need be. The sandpaper represents the rough times in my recent past. Without the sanding, the coats of satin wouldn’t be smoothe or durable. The sanding makes it beautiful.

My father taught me to figure things out. Mama taught me to be beautifully fearless.

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Miss you, Daddy. Love you, Mama.

Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Muffins

I have a wedding shower to help with in the morning and I signed up to bring muffins. Here’s the recipe:

Peanut Butter and Jelly Muffins



Ingredients:

1/2 cup Smucker’s Natural Peanut Butter

1 stick Land of Lakes butter

1 egg

3/4 cup light brown sugar

1 1/2 cups Bisquick

Big dash cinnamon

1/2 cup milk

4 tablespoons homemade jelly (your choice, I used my mayhaw)

4 tablespoons of Bisquick

What to do:

In a big bowl, mix first 4 ingredients till creamy. Then add the 1 1/2 cups Bisquick and cinnamon. Pour in milk and gently incorporate.  Your muffin batter will be light and fluffy. Next, fill your muffin cups with batter, a little less than half way. Set aside.

In a small bowl, mix the jelly and remainder Bisquick. This is your muffin filling. The baking mix stabilizes the jelly, so it won’t burn or bake out of your muffins. Spoon about a 1/2 teaspoon of filling into the center of each peanut butter muffin cup. Top with the rest of the peanut butter mixture.

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Silicone muffin cups are great to use. Your muffins will pop right out. Oh, yeah. I made a sweet potato pie to go with store bought chicken for tonight’s supper. That recipe is It’s A Pecan Not A PeeCan.

 

Silicone muffin cups are a great thing to use instead of traditional paper. Your muffins will pop right out. Bake in a  350° preheated oven for 35 minutes or until the tops puff up and are golden brown. Yield about 15 medium sized muffins.

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That one in the back tried to make a liar out of me, but really, had I not combined the jelly and Bisquick all of the mayhaw jelly would have baked out and been a sticky black mess.

Best wishes to the happy couple.

Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.

Dear Mr. Drug Head – A Vent To An Idiot

Dear Mr. Drug Head,

You don’t know me. You don’t know anything about me: how hard I work each week to get what I have; how much I have been through and overcome the last few years.

I didn’t have your usual grab and dash, quick pawn cash items that you normally steal from people’s homes. So, you took the tools I was using to renovate my home and repair my life.

I guess your  need to get cash, so you could fund your addiction, was greater than my need to hang drywall and cut Hardie board. By the way, you broke a window in your search for something to take. Pollyanna would tell me to look on the bright side; at least you didn’t lift my paint…

Some would try to argue that you’re strung out and don’t know right from wrong. I warrant that you do know right from wrong. Which is why you entered my house, after we left that night. I know you didn’t get up early the next morning and burgled. Dopers sleep late.

You took everything that you can sell quickly. And I’m trying to be charitable towards you. So, if you come back, there’s no need to go in the house again. Nothing will be kept there.  I’ve learned my lesson the hard way.

I’ll leave a bottle of water on the porch for you. Don’t forget to take all your pills at one time.

No blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.

Colors

We tore out a multitude of tongue and groove boards, making new doorways and widening some. Tongue and groove, almost 4 inch thin lap (not really ship lap) came off chimney breasts and out of closets. They were saved (my south Louisiana is showing, cher) and are being repurposed.

The day I met with the cabinet maker, we discussed the kitchen layout for over two hours. I had already bought my kitchen appliances and that helped the process. He’d suggest placement and I either agreed or told him unt-uh.

As the new kitchen was a huge open space, once the crumbling fireplace was gone, we had a clean slate to build a one-of-a-kind kitchen. I knew I’d need an island and I had a picture in my head from a year ago, when we began removing the pine boards.

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The old farmhouse colors were very bold. Too bold for the idea I had in mind. So, I sanded the bright greens (there were three different shades of, well, green), blue, yellow and white down, leaving some of the color, but revealing the wood grain. Every board in the house and porches runs north to south, so when the cabinet maker said he’d place the boards like a picket fence, I said no. “Run ’em horizontally.”

I could see the wheels turning in his head, as he caught sight of my vision. Yeah! He asked what kind of range hood I wanted and I told him to incorporate more of the sanded tongue and groove.

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I was wowed when I saw it. So much more than I had expected. Happy dance!

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The yellow thin lap came from the master bedroom’s old chimney front. It has tiny tacks still in it from the wall paper of a hundred years ago. The green is from the wall in the living room, where we made another doorway on the other side of the fireplace. The blue used to be inside one of the small closets in the front bedroom.

Why did I choose to use the old boards in such a way? To pay homage to the family that used to live in my house. Someone chose the bright yellow and the light blue; and yes, that god-awful teal green or maybe it was on sale at the mercantile and the green chose them. That green was everywhere. Even the ceilings!

I often  wonder what went on in this 115 year old home. One of the men who worked on it, told me that my house was once a gathering place for social events in the community way back when. Another man I’ve met said, that back in its day, the house was a ‘little princess’. The idea makes me smile.

The Exile’s Kitchen is getting a new kitchen. Woohoo! I am feeling so blessed. It began as a forced sojourn, with challenges I never thought I would face. Many more I’m sure are ahead of me. But like the boarded up windows that were uncovered in the new kitchen , I too have been reworked to show a new outlook on life.

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Blessings from the Exile’s New Kitchen.

 

A Call To The Bull Pin

Can you believe that the local grocery store didn’t have a single package of corn dogs? On the night that LSU plays MSU in the Super Regional, to decide who goes to Omaha for the big game, I wanted to have corn dogs for supper. I will explain: MSU students and fans call LSU students and fans corn dogs. Why exactly I am not sure. Both universities are agricultural schools. It’s kinda funny to me. Kinda the pot calling the kettle black, huh, Mr. Aesop?

I had wanted to tweet out a picture of my plate of corn dogs decorated in squirt mustard words saying, ” Geaux Tigers”. You know, some reverse psychology mojo. Oh, did I not make myself clear? This Baton Rouge, Louisiana born girl is a Tiger supporter.

I sent my son to the grocery store with my short list: corn dogs, squirt mustard and freezer bags. We were given fresh corn and I needed to get it in the freezer. My son was gone just a few minutes when he called home. The grocery store had no corn dogs, what should he get? I told him my substitution and the following recipe is the result.

Corn Dog Muffins

Ingredients:

1 box Jiffy  cornbread mix

1/2 cup self-rising cornmeal

1 egg

1/2 cup milk

1 pack of all beef franks

1/3 block of gouda, shredded  (about 1 cup)

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Preheat oven to 350°.

In a medium bowl stir together the first 4 ingredients. Cut the franks into bite sized pieces. Fill 12 lined muffin cups 3/4 full with the cornbread batter. Drop into each muffin cup the pieces of franks, evenly distributing them. Top each muffin with a generous helping of gouda. Bake for 25 minutes, give or take.

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As you can see, we had fresh corn on the cob too. We enjoyed this ‘call to the bull pin’. Not really enjoying the game, as of this writing, as the MSU Dawgs are ahead of my LSU Tigers by 1 run. Come on, Tigers!

Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.

 

Post Script:

Corn Dogs- er- Tigers Win!!!

Nor His Squire On A Bay Gelding

Our church has Mid-week meals to keep attendance on Wednesday up and our members connected during the week. I sat with members from my Sunday small group, ate supper, discussed common concerns for aging parents, re-glazing very old windows, little league and ‘hey, who is that sitting across the CLC?’

When it got to be time for choir, I put my tray up and headed out the door, but a dear friend called out to me.

“Amanda, hey, darling! How’re you doing?”

I gave her a hug and replied, “I’m good.”

“Are you really?” She looked at me over her glasses. “Not just saying that?”

I smiled.

“No, ma’am. I’m really doing well.”

We chit-chatted about my children. She told me about her granddaughter.  Then the question came:

“Has that shining knight on his white stallion showed up yet? ”

I just laughed and shook my head and glanced up at the ceiling.

“No, ma’am. Haven’t seen him, nor his squire on a bay gelding! You know, when I tell God that I am lonely,  you know what He tells me to do?”

“What is that?” my friend asked.

“Go for a walk,” I answered. Then I gave her a wry smile. “But I guess I’m walking in the wrong place, ’cause I haven’t met anybody.”

As she always does, she told me that she would pray for me. And she meant it, too. I went on to choir practice.

Here lately, I’ve been thinking about my ideal man. As if there is such a thing. I’m not naive- not anymore. But a woman can dream a little, right?

I don’t really care what he looks like. I married looks first go-round (he’s lost them, by the way). Funny side note: years ago, one night at church, my then husband and I were talking to a gentleman and he said, “Your boys get their good looks from you,” he said to my now ex. In the next breath he continued, “I can see that because your wife still has hers!” Haha!

Anyway.

I want a truly kind man. A tender hearted man. No push over, but compassionate.

I want a man who has read the literary classics or at least something in addition to Sports Illustrated and the Market Bulletin. Not that there’s anything wrong with those publications, but if he could quote a Shakespeare sonnet,  I’d just about forget the rest of my list and give him a chance right away.

Next, I would love a man who could sit down at my antique upright, with the Werlein’s sticker on it, and play me a love song. Oh, honey! Again, musical talent and well read; be still my heart.

Light on his feet. Yes, dancing in the kitchen, after the supper dishes are washed and put away is on my list. And please, he will have to know something other than the loaf of bread. What? You’ve never heard of it? That’s what I called the one dance move the ex had. His arms around my waist, he’d kinda tilt from left to right, as we turned in a slow circle. I’d get dizzy-headed and ask if we could stop and turn to go in the opposite direction. I felt like a loaf of Bunny Bread in his big ole arms! Long loaf. Thin sliced. White bread.

Now, don’t think I want a man with hands softer than mine. The afore mentioned paints a tame picture. Nope, no siree. Rudimentary manly skills in the yard and around the house, if you will. Cutting the grass, unclogging the disposal, fixing a leaky bathroom faucet.  He’s going to need to know how to change the oil in the tractor, too. And if he doesn’t already possess such knowledge, be willing to learn. A well read man shouldn’t mind discovering new things, right?

A Renaissance Man! Yes! Renovating an old house has made me appreciate men with a certain skill set. Youtube’s great for garnering knowledge, but watching a man work- one who knows what he’s doing, especially-  live and in person, well…

But none of the above will do, without the most important trait and character anchor: my ideal man must be a man after God’s own heart. A true man of God, not just a pew percher.  A true disciple of Jesus, not just someone who knows enough Scripture to misuse. A man who can swim down deep in his faith, never be content to splash only up to his ankles in the shallows. Yes, a lover of God more than he would ever love anything  or anyone else.  Including me.  Deal breaker, if he doesn’t love God and honor Him by keeping his life holy.

Deal breaker. First there’s got to be a candidate. Like I told my friend; I haven’t seen a knight on a white stallion nor is squire on a bay gelding. But I have seen the One who loves me best and I am content with Him.

Blessings.