Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Anniversary and the Foster Family Band

Last night, it was raining with the threat of snow. The dark was accompanied by a wind that undoubtedly had just passed over a glacier before it got to North Alabama. Normally, on a night such as that, I would be snuggled in jammies and under a quilt on the couch. But last night was different.

First of all, yesterday marked the 42nd journey of the earth around the sun since that rainy day in 1969 when Hub and I were married. I have made countless meals since then, but I refused to cook last night. We enjoyed dinner out and then went to a concert by Dr. Bill Foster and the Foster Family band.

In addition to being a musician, Dr. Foster is a superb storyteller. He shared some Civil War stories that his family had planted as they spent evenings on the front porch of their Appalachian home. His stories are so real and pure that you can almost feel the rough boards of the porch beneath you.

We were accompanied by some friends that are relatively new to the area, and it was the first time they had seen Dr. Foster and his family. They enjoyed it immensely. We are all looking forward to the University of North Alabama's Storytelling Festival in May, when we will be able to hear more of these stories.

The Foster family spent many years on the road, but only perform now for special occasions. We are so blessed to have talent like this in our area.

Sorry the photos are not better; it was difficult from where I was sitting. They have a wonderful bass player, but I wasn't able to get him in the photo.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Christmas Reading

In three days, it will be December.

For those of you who need a little jolt to get you in the Christmas spirit, check out these books!

Other than the true Christmas story in the Bible, this is my favorite Christmas book. It was published in 2004, and I think I have read it every Christmas since then. Alabama native Fannie Flagg, recent winner of the 2012 Harper Lee award, knows what she is talking about! I feel like I know everyone in this book personally.

Most people are familiar with this book because it was made into a movie that is shown over and over every year. This is not a typical John Grissom book, but it is fun and worth reading.
Get out the tissues; you are going to need several before you finish this book!

An Irish Christmas is new for me this year, although it was published in 2007. Sounds good; its at the top of my 'to be read' stack.

Does anyone have favorite Christmas books that I need to know about? All these books are fairly short and easy to read. And we have 28 days until Christmas!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts. No Americans have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving. -H.U. Westermayer

The most detailed description of the "First Thanksgiving" comes from Edward Winslow from A Journal of the Pilgrims at Plymouth, in 1621:

Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors. They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the company almost a week. At which time, among other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the plantation and bestowed upon our governor, and upon the captain, and others. And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.

More than 200 years after that first thanksgiving celebration, President Abraham Lincoln declared the final Thursday in November as a national day of thanksgiving. Congress finally made Thanksgiving Day an official national holiday in 1941.

Most people living today cannot really imagine what life was like for the Pilgrims.

With their own hands, they made tools and built a nation.

Their food crops weren't grown for bragging rights or as a hobby; their crops determined if they would starve or live through the winter. They were truly thankful when the rains came, when the hot days made the corn stalks climb.

They thanked God for a bountiful crop of acorns and other nuts, which fed the game that fed them.

They gave thanks that their children had lived to be a year old, that their hands were able to hold the axe and the plow.

The pilgrims were thankful for neighbors who would help them, sharing seeds and knowledge of the land, without which the Pilgrims could not have survived.

Thanksgiving doesn't have much importance anymore in our culture. It is a day to eat too much and fall asleep later watching football.

It serves as a launching point for the Christmas season, with Black Friday the next day and the coffee table piled with ads for 5:00 AM shopping.

Some decorate their homes and businesses for Christmas after Halloween, just skipping Thanksgiving completely.

Today, please take a little time to remember that:

while you're enjoying your comfortable home, 80% of the world live in substandard housing.

while you're reading your Bible or other book, 67% of the people can't read.

while you're stuffed from your dinner, 50% of the world is malnourished and 1% is starving.

while you're cleaning up the kitchen, 33% of people don't have safe drinking water.

when you go to the bathroom, 39% of people don't have improved sanitation.

while you're comfortably watching television, 24% of people have no electricity.

God has blessed our nation, for in its beginning, they didn't forget Him.

“To the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever.”
–Psalms 30.12

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Celebrate Saturday: A last look at autumn

This week, we have had rain and wind and the golden leaves have morphed to brown and lay scattered everywhere. The trees stand naked, cold, strong, waiting for the time when the earth warms again and they will be clothed anew.

A wind has blown the rain away and blown the sky away and all the leaves away, and the trees stand. I think, I too, have known autumn too long.
~E. E. Cummins

Friday, November 18, 2011

Folklife Friday: Sweet Potato Biscuits

Y'all know how I love sweet potatoes. Autumn wouldn't be near as nice without sweet potato pie and baked sweet potatoes.

We live about fifty miles from an Amish community where we travel every fall to buy sweet potatoes. If I use them sparingly, they will last until after Christmas. Sweet potato casserole is as much a part of our Christmas as the tree and tinsel. It's back to the canned ones after that. Canned ones are not bad but require just a little more butter than the fresh ones.

Last weekend was spent at a retreat in the North Georgia mountains with some of my besties. After the teaching was done, we played and shopped and ate. At one of the restaurants, we were served a plate of sweet potato biscuits while we were waiting for our food. They were so good, I could have eaten the whole plate by myself!

How hard would it be, I wondered, to make my own? Not long after I got back home, I looked through my cookbooks, knowing one would jump out out me. And, of course, it was Paula Deen's! If anyone can be trusted with cooking sweet potatoes, its Miss Paula.

Are you ready? Here we go!

You need 3/4 cup mashed sweet potatoes. A normal person would peel one large or two small sweet potatoes, chop them in small pieces, and boil, covered in water, until done.

I have never claimed to be normal. I hate peeling sweet potatoes. So I boil them whole in their skins until they are tender.

You can peel the skin off with your fingers at this point.

Mash them with a potato masher, or you could use your mixer here.

After the sweet potatoes are completely mashed, add the butter and some milk.

Now, ain't that purty??!

Add your flour, sugar, other dry ingredients to the sweet potato mix (Recipe below). I couldn't make a photo here because I had flour on my hands. The mixture will be stiff; put on a board and knead just until the dough is smooth. Pat it out with your hands until it is about 1/2 inch thick.

Cut them out. Save all the scraps, mash them together, and shape into another biscuit or two.

Here they are--a dozen biscuits in the oven. I love this iron baker, because the biscuits will slip off right side up.

They were yummy! I made up some honey cinnamon butter just in case the biscuits didn't have my daily required calories. Thank you, Miss Paula!

Sweet Potato Biscuits from The Lady & Sons, Too! by Paula H. Deen

3/4 cup mashed cooked sweet potatoes

1/4 cup milk

1/4 cup butter (room temp)

1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

2 heaping tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. In a large bowl, mix the potatoes, milk, and butter. In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the potato mixture and combine to make a soft dough. Turn the dough out onto a floured board and toss lightly until the outside of the dough looks smooth. Roll the dough out to one-half inch thick and cut with a biscuit cutter. Place the biscuits on a greased pan and bake for about 15 minutes.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thursday humor

This story is from my friend, Charlotte, at emz-pineypost.blogspot.com. I loved it, and hope you do, too.

There was a little old lady, who every morning stepped onto her front
porch, raised her arms to the sky, and shouted: 'PRAISE THE LORD!'

One day an atheist moved into the house next door. He became irritated at the little
old lady. Every morning he'd step onto his front porch after her and yell: 'THERE IS NO LORD!'

Time passed with the two of them carrying on this way every day.

One morning, in the middle of winter, the little old lady stepped onto
her front porch and shouted: 'PRAISE THE LORD! Please Lord, I have no
food and I am starving, provide for me, oh Lord!'

The next morning she stepped out onto her porch and there were
two huge bags of groceries sitting there.


The atheist neighbor jumped out of the hedges and shouted:

The little old lady threw her arms into the air and shouted:

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

On this rock....

And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. ~Matthew 16:18

I have always thought that this verse uses a rock as a symbol of strength. Jesus is telling Peter that His church would be so strong that nothing, NOTHING, could destroy it.

But then, some people take it more literally.

Colonel Milford Howard built this church house as a memorial to his first wife, Sallie. The boulder extends to the inside of the church where it is part of the pulpit. Colonel Howard's ashes are interred in the rock.

The church is located in Mentone, Alabama, on top of Lookout Mountain. Regular services are held there on Sundays and Wednesdays and it is open to the public at other times.

It is definitely worth stopping to see if you are in the area. Be sure to stop and eat at the Wildflower Cafe while you are there. Saturday, a group of strong ladies on a church retreat stopped there for lunch. We ate, laughed, entertained and was entertained, but that's a story for another day.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Celebrate Saturday: Soar!

but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.

They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

Isaiah 40:31(NIV)

Kind friends, may your soaring this weekend take you to places you have never been before. You are loved!!!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Folklife Friday: Sweet Gum Balls

Sweet gum trees are plentiful in North Alabama. They are strong, beautiful trees that have many uses. They are loved and hated here because of the seed balls, or sweet gum balls.

Fallen seed balls are difficult to get off the ground, their spikes sometimes half buried. They are too small for most rakes and the lawn mower won't pick them up in the grass clippings. Many people refuse to have the trees in their yards.

If you are young and don't have to worry about keeping the yard clean, then you probably love them.

They were among the first ornaments when we started decorating Christmas trees in Appalachia. They could be dipped in a flour/water mix to look like snowballs (photo is from my friend, Tipper, at blindpigandtheacorn.com). They could be wrapped in aluminum foil and hung on the tree. In hard times when aluminum was scarce, people saved their cigarette packs and used the foil inside to wrap the sweet gum balls.

If you wanted to get really fancy, you could dip toothpicks (broken in various lengths) in Elmer's glue and stick it in the ball. When the glue dried, it could be sprayed with white paint or the 'Christmas snow' that came in a can. They could be hung on the tree or piled pyramid style on a plate to form a centerpiece.

It's been several years since I used sweet gum balls in crafts. They are piled up along the roadside where I walk, so I know where to find them if the urge strikes.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Being Thankful in Hard Times

I heard and my heart pounded,
my lips quivered at the sound;
decay crept into my bones,
and my legs trembled.

Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity
to come on the nation invading us.

Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,

though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,

yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.

The Sovereign LORD is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to tread on the heights.

Habakkuk 3:16-19(NIV)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


My little dog was lost.

I prayed for God's help in finding him, feeling selfish.

After all, wars are waging all over the planet.
The rain hasn't come to come areas, and the people are starving.
Earthquakes have shaken towns and villages, causing mud to cover lives.
Terrorists are plotting, training for evil, and must be watched.
Disease spreads daily.
Presidents and leaders are struggling with economics, immorality, each other.
The weather has just gone crazy.

God, our Father, the High Priest, has this blue planet to care for, in the midst of a dynamic universe that listens to Him and does what He says.

Why would I think that Abba Father would care that my dog was lost?

If it matters to me, it matters to Him.

Before the creation of the world, He knew me and had plans for me.
I am his heir.
I am eternal.
He loves me, knows when I hurt, knows when I am weak.

What marvelous love the Father has extended to us! Just look at it-we're called children of God! That's who we really are. But that's also why the world doesn't recognize us or take us seriously, because it has no idea who He is or what He's up to. 1 John 3: 1-2 Message.

For some, it is much easier to believe God's miracles than to believe that He really loves us, His children. We know what we have done, how we have failed. It's hard to forgive ourselves.
We can't forget it. He can.

We're not worthy of His love or grace. He knows that, and loves us anyway.

Loves us enough to help a mentally challenged dog find his way home.

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! Matthew 7:11