Pie, oh My!

By Rhonda Woods

By the time you read this blog, it will have been nine months since my sweet husband was totally healed by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  January 4 was the day everything in my life changed.  As I write this blog, I struggle every day to accept he is not coming back.  These are the days of “rain” as is the code for “I feel like I am falling apart”.  I have sorrowfully and shamefully questioned God, His plans and my decision to return to teaching so soon.   I guess this is a natural part of the grieving process. It is hard to see even a glimpse of light at the end of the tunnel, much less search for my purpose or happiness in my future.  My family, church family and friends are amazing support, but even they cannot fix the hole in my heart and the emptiness  I feel having lost my best friend soulmate of nearly 40 years.

Bent on my quest to update the house he built has, at times, taken its toll on my nerves and my OCD for cleaning any and all dust created.  My awesome contractor, Jonathan, who has become one of my sons, tolerates my constant cleaning.  The updating is beautiful and I know my sweet husband would be pleased with my decisions.  So, I ramble around this big house meant for a family of four or more with our two dogs, who look at me with questioning eyes as they miss him, too.

Anniversary Cruise and Desserts

So let me reflect on happier times when he enjoyed anything I cooked or baked!

Peanut Butter Pie

Peanut Butter Pie

The perfect husband to please with food, ladies, and you know that can be a challenge for both husbands and children.  He loved desserts, anything peanut butter, but sweets in general.  This time of the year, people are testing new recipes for church Homecomings and holiday gatherings.  With such an array of desserts to choose from on the bountiful tables, is just plain blasphemy in the south to put those little 6″ plates out when everyone one needs a full-sized one to “sample” a little bit of everything.   You know it is true, don’t deny it!  LOL.

Granny and her youngest great-granddaughter

My mother with her newest great grandchild named for my husband

So, I thought I would share a few pie recipes, especially the ones my sweet husband enjoyed the most; Peanut Butter Pie, Coconut Custard Pie (a prize winning one), No Milk Chocolate Pie (from a church cookbook a missionary contributed and my Mom’s favorite), Sweet Potato Pie (my adaption from a recipe in a cookbook my daughter gave me called “Sweetie Pies”), Pumpkin Cheese Pie and Lemon Cheese Pie (a favorite of my dear friend, Mrs. Betty).  I hope you will enjoy these recipes and will add them to your list of favorites, too.

 

May God bless you and your family, as He continues to bless ours,

Chef Woods

RECIPES

Coconut Custard Pie

Coconut Custard Pie

Peanut Butter Pie

Coconut Custard Pie

No Milk Chocolate Pie

Sweet Potato Pies

Pumpkin Cheese Pie or Tarts

Lemon Cheese Pie or Tarts

Pie Crust

Graham Cracker Crust

 

 

My love for The University of Alabama

By Tina M. Cameron

Despite what some of my family members believe, I have always liked Alabama football. You see, I’m from Knoxville, so growing up, I went to Tennessee football games with my dad. These are some of my favorite memories. I love the Vols and always will, but, my heart fell in love with The University of Alabama in Fall 2009 when my older son Corey became a Freshman as an Aerospace Engineering major. He changed his major during his junior year to Mechanical Engineering. I made many trips a year while he was there for 5 years. He had so many opportunities and made some wonderful lifelong friends. I fell in love with the campus, the school and the amazing people that I have met there. Oh, and we have a pretty good football team!

13116341_10153813275391645_4307474500324260944_o  I am now a student there full-time. I am a Registered Nurse and have always dreamed of having my BSN degree. That is now becoming a reality. In March of this year I was accepted at The University of Alabama and then 2 weeks later found out that I had been accepted into the RN to BSN Online Distance Learning Program. I will graduate on May 3rd, 2019, exactly 4 years after my son graduated. I will also be wearing his cap and gown.

One of the main reasons I love this school so much is the way the students and parents support each other. I belong to our Alabama Parent Facebook Page, which has over 10,000 members and even though my son has graduated I just can’t unfollow the page. We refer to ourselves as “Bamaly” because it is one big family. We answer questions, give support, help each other’s kids out. We have a map of the U.S. where each parent has flagged themselves on it in case our kids are traveling and breakdown or have a wreck; there is someone always close.

20180108_165108            The University of Alabama is one of the top public universities in the country. My son received an amazing education and is thriving as a Mechanical Engineer. He now lives in Charleston, SC and works for Mercedes-Benz. The nursing program I am enrolled in is also one of the top programs in the country. It is very competitive to get into and I feel blessed and proud that I was admitted. I have dreamed of having a 4-year degree since I was 18 years old and I will graduate 7 months from today. I cannot wait until I can call myself an alumnus. And, one final thing—Roll Tide!!

How to Stop a Bully

By Shannon Boatwright

Author/Speaker Brooks Gibbs explains bullying in the most simplistic terms: Dominance behavior.

(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7oKjW1OIjuw)

October is national bullying prevention month. Because I teach middle school drama, I feel it is imperative that I allow time for serious discussion about the issue of bullying.  My students know that I feel very strongly about the topic of bullying –  I have zero tolerance for it.  ZERO.

I make it very clear to my students that I am here for them and that they can come to me at any time if they ever see, hear of or experience anything having to do with bullying. They know they can count on me to have their backs.

Stop BullyingIt’s amazing to me that our society as a whole has all these different missions to “stomp out bullying” and as a whole, we as a society overall are of course against bullying…  YET IT STILL HAPPENS. And it happens all the time! On the website StopBullying.com you can click on the link below to see all the latest statistics on the percentage of bullying that takes place.

https://www.stopbullying.gov/media/facts/index.html

It’s a lot. It’s sickening. It enrages me. To think that humans can be so cruel to one another just blows my mind. And it’s not just with kids, bullying happens among all ages. Jerks are EVERYWHERE. And yes, their cruelty comes from somewhere – whether from a place of jealousy, insecurity, personal hurt, or plain ole ignorance. Either way, though it can be forgiven, it is inexcusable.

I do not take a lot of time showing dramatic videos of stories about bullies and victims, because I feel my time is better spent teaching my students how to stop a bully, how to build their confidence and belief in themselves. Like Brooks Gibbs says, the key word is SELF – building self-esteem, self-worth, and self-confidence. One of the many benefits of drama involves building those three priceless attributes, as well as empathy. Teaching these kids the ultra-importance of building their strength in self and engaging in empathy is truly a lifelong skill that will make them a better person, not to mention benefit them for the rest of their life.

Happiness Is An Inside JobThe tools that Brooks Gibbs shares are incredible, because indeed when it comes to bullying it’s about power, it’s about dominance and how one reacts to a bully can make or break a situation. Do not give a bully the power. Keep all the power for yourself! Your power will be grounded in your own self-confidence, self-worth and self-esteem. As a teacher, my goal is to build a strong self in these kids. I want them to have the power of believing in themselves, knowing that their happiness is not rooted in what anyone else thinks of them and knowing that the ability to put themselves into someone else’s shoes can be a wonderful tool that creates in them a stronger, well-rounded human.

It is an unfortunate reality that bullies will always exist. Heck, in this day and age especially, with our current state of leadership, the ridiculousness of social media, the sad state of our schools, there are all too many bullies trying to dominate others. So those of us who actually have the sense to recognize this negative behavior and not engage and participate in it, especially need the skills to stop a bully. Whether you have children in your family or not and no matter what your age, I guarantee you will benefit from watching the video link shared above. Brooks Gibbs really hits the nail on the head with this topic and I am ever appreciative that I have the resource of his video to share with my students, my own children, my family, my friends and my blog readers.

Two Gluten Free Desserts to Please Everyone

By Rachel Sircy

Last month I wrote about how I like to do gluten free meatloaf freezer meals. This time I thought that it would be good to write about a scenario that many gluten free people are familiar with: what to make for dessert when you have people coming to dinner.

So, imagine that you have invited guests for dinner and you really don’t have the time or inclination to cook a big complicated dinner. Of course, you still want to lay out a good spread, but what do you do? Remember, you have your gluten free mini-meatloaves that are in your freezer, just waiting to be defrosted and cooked. These are the mini-meatloaves that I made in that post last month and all I did to them this time was put the freezer bag that they’re in in the sink to defrost for a few hours. These meatloaves hadn’t been in the freezer a terribly long time and since they’re so small, they defrosted quickly. To cook them, just place them in a muffin pan (the muffin tins work like tiny loaf pans to insulate the meatloaf). Or, you can do like I do and arrange them like little meat cookies on a foil-lined cookie sheet. Really, I’ve tried both ways and arranging them on a sheet pan seems to leave them just as moist as the muffin pan, and it’s less mess to clean up later. I top them with a mixture of ketchup, honey and Worcestershire sauce (if you have the Simply…Gluten Free Quickmeals cookbook by Carol Kicinski. They take about 30 minutes to bake.

For sides, you can opt for a salad or green peas. The thing about frozen green peas is that they’re nutritious, delicious, and basically, I put them in a saucepan with enough water to cover and I boil them for only a minute or two until they are heated through. I then strain them and add a pinch of salt or maybe some butter or sometimes nothing at all.

The real bugbear of having a dinner party if you’re gluten free is finding a dessert that suits everyone. If you have to be gluten free, you know what an absolute bummer it is to watch everyone else at a party eating a really fabulous dessert and then being apologetically offered a consolation prize like a packet of Sixlets or something. I know that some people actually like Sixlets, but really? When other people are eating cake? Come on!

Don’t do this to yourself at your own get-together. If you’re going to spend time and energy on one thing at your own party, make it dessert. And, for those of us who really don’t like to spend a whole lot of time and energy and who just don’t have a whole lot of money to spend, here are two crowd-pleasers that are super cheap to make and not that difficult. All of the ingredients you would need to make these desserts are things that you probably already have in your pantry: peanut butter, cocoa powder, eggs, milk, cornstarch, etc. There are no fancy or expensive ingredients that you need to buy, which makes them perfect for those of us who are gluten free and on a tight budget.

  1. Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies:

Okay, so after writing that post about allergy bullying, I do want to point out that those of us with a gluten intolerance should be especially mindful of anyone with a food allergy or intolerance. I mean, we know how it feels, so we should go out of our way to make sure our guests are safe and comfortable. Don’t serve this if you’re not sure if anyone you’ve invited over has an allergy. Alternately, you could try to make this recipe with soy butter or sunflower seed butter instead of peanut butter. I have not tried either of those options, but I assume they would work as long as they’re the same consistency as the peanut butter.

All that being said, I’ve never met anyone who didn’t like these cookies.

This recipe is one I’ve shared before. I think that years ago I got it off of the Gluten Free Girl website, but my mom said that this was the first cookie she ever made in Home Ec class in seventh grade. So, you probably have this recipe somewhere in your recipe catalog at home or you’ve made it before:

Pic 3

1 Cup Peanut Butter (or allergy free alternative)

1 Cup Granulated Sugar

1 tsp Baking Powder

1 Egg

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together the peanut butter and the sugar with an electric hand mixer. Beat in the baking powder, thoroughly. Beat in the egg. Roll the dough into balls using a teaspoon to measure (these cookies are better when they’re small). Roll in more granulated sugar (optional) and place on a cookie sheet about two inches apart. Press down on each cookie with the tines of a fork to make a crisscross pattern.

Bake for 10 minutes and remove cookie sheets from oven. Let cookies rest on baking sheets for 5 minutes, then move to a plate or cooling rack. Try not to eat every single one.

  1. Homemade (Chocolate) Pudding:

Homemade pudding is an easily adaptable recipe that you can really wow people with. I think that – at least among the people I know who are my age – homemade pudding means that you opened the box of pudding mix yourself and added the cold milk. But pudding made from scratch is one of the best things you’ll ever eat. Two summers ago, my mom took some old bananas that she thought she should use or trash and made some banana pudding that was so good we ate it all straight out of the saucepan before it even had a chance to cool.

Pudding is also a pretty allergy friendly dessert and it lends itself to the idea of a bar.  You can easily set up a pudding bar by laying out crushed gluten free cookies, whipped cream, chocolate chips, etc. And the homemade stuff tends to be so rich that a little goes a long way.

My favorite recipe for Chocolate Pudding is Tyler Florence’s. This is me making it here:

You can find the chocolate pudding recipe on the Food Network Website here: https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/tyler-florence/chocolate-pudding-recipe-1947756

 

First World problems

By Jeanne Reynolds

Don’t you hate when people whine and moan about their lot in life, with apparently no perspective on what the rest of the world is dealing with and what’s really important?

I do, too. Even when — maybe especially when — it’s me doing the whining and moaning.

Florence flooding 2I just finished sending a long email to several family members with all the details about travel and accommodations for an upcoming reunion at the beach. As in North Myrtle Beach. And even as I explained all the wrinkles and complications that have come up because of Sister Florence, I knew there are tens of thousands of my fellow Carolinians (South and North) dealing with far, far worse problems post-storm. Instead of focusing on how inconvenient — and in one case, impossible — it’s going to be to get everyone where they’re supposed to be, when they’re supposed to be there, I should be turning my thoughts and prayers on those folks whose homes and hopes have been washed away. I mean, I’m talking about a vacation trip, for goodness sake.

Here’s another example: As I write this, I’m sitting high and dry in my lovely marsh-front home near Beaufort (which thankfully was spared a full-frontal assault this time). Two good friends have just left after we enjoyed four great days together playing in a golf tournament. I followed a good round yesterday with an incredibly miserable one today and lost a match I could easily have won, which has left me well down in the dumps. And I have to seriously scold myself to remember how blessed I am to even be in this situation, in such a beautiful place, NOT dealing with storm damage and with the physical ability, financial resources and job flexibility to do this in the first place.

In fact, most of my so-called troubles in life are what you’d call First World problems. People in Third World countries struggle to get enough to eat and clean water to drink. Meanwhile I worry if my pants are getting too tight (too much to eat) and gnash my teeth over a malfunctioning irrigation system (plenty of water to spare). I have a mountain of laundry to do (well, really just a pretty small hillock) — while I sit in the air conditioning and push a few buttons so a machine can do all the work. I’m rehabbing a hip injury that’s kept me from running for the past month (if you’re a runner, you know this is BIG) — but I have health insurance plus a healthy enough bank account to get the treatment I need. And so far, my pants do still fit.

I know I’m not alone in this. Many (maybe even most?) of us do dwell on our own problems to the exclusion of others around us. It’s easy to lose perspective and forget these are gnats, not elephants, in my life.Florence flooding

I don’t know what the answer is, but one thing that couldn’t hurt is doing more volunteer work and making more donations to organizations trying to help some of those without enough to eat or drink, or whose homes are gone. I have to change my focus to change my perspective.

I’ll still have problems, First World or otherwise. But maybe, just maybe, they won’t matter quite as much.

FOCUS!

By Marianna Boyce

I loved reading Jeanne Reynolds’ Every Woman blog post in August called, “Going retro: In praise of the pencil”.  I thought I was the only person left on the planet still using a paper calendar and pencil.  With a new app for this, and a new app for that, who keeps up with life the old-fashioned way?  I at least know of two people!  I love my iPhone, iWatch, and iPad, but not to keep up with various appointments and routine daily life.

ducksI recently left from work in a rush.  I drove through that wonderful rush hour traffic on I-20 heading toward Lexington.  I had a hair appointment at Salon on Main.  Of course, that also entailed the blissful and always uneventful traffic flow into the town of Lexington.  I actually made my 5:30 appointment on time.  I was waiting for Brittany to call me back to her magical salon chair.  At 5:31, she entered the waiting area with a warm smile on her face.  She looked at her watch and said, “I’m sorry I’m late”.  I laughed knowing she was being facetious.  I was the one that was late…by an ENTIRE WEEK!  I somehow got distracted and my original appointment was lost somewhere in my brain fog.  I looked at my calendar that particular morning, but by the afternoon, I was mentally done.

Battling daily chronic pain is exhausting.  Although my pain is mostly now under control, clearing the brain fog has been a bear.  Before my “mysterious illness” began, focusing on many tasks was easy.  Now, it’s a struggle to even focus on one!  I cannot go off on a tangent trying to tackle a second task when the first one is not yet complete.

Driving through Texas in 2015, our oldest granddaughter Abby and my husband (Pop) had a deal where she would listen to her music for an hour, and Pop would listen to his music for an hour.  During Pop’s radio time, he would educate Abby on the nuances between today’s music and the music of his generation.

grand canyonAbby devised a way to “distract” us so she could change the station to suit her.  She excitedly pointed to the vastness of Texas and said, “SQUIRREL”!  We went along with her shenanigans for awhile and looked out of the car window for that elusive rodent.  After a couple hundred miles, I believe 70’s music started growing on her.  Once we made it through Dallas, she stopped changing the station.  By the way, we never saw a squirrel in Texas but once we got to the Grand Canyon in Arizona, what do you know?  A little squirrel scurried past Abby’s feet and hung out under the fence behind her.

Some may reference being constantly distracted as “chasing rabbits”.  Me?  I say “SQUIRREL” like Abby.  Some days I can make fun of myself and laugh about it.  Other days, it is quite bothersome.  I continue finding new ways to stay focused.  How do you do it?  I definitely need help in this area!

 

 

 

The scholarship challenge

By June Headley Greenlaw

Anyone that has children in school should start looking now for scholarships!  I will warn you; it can be a daunting task. There are scholarships available for kids in K-12.  The first scholarship my daughter got was awarded when she was in 9th grade.  It was $5,000/year for up to four years, so nothing to sneeze at for sure.  I want to share a little of my kids’ scholarship journey with you and offer some advice.

capAlthough it’s never too early to get started, you will find that most scholarships are offered to high school seniors.  However, you should know that most of them are due in the first few months of the senior year.  There are some that allow kids in any grade to apply and yet others that are just for kids already in college.

Our four oldest children all went into the military after school making my first experience looking for scholarships was with our child that is now a senior in college, but his sister was only three years behind him, so I was searching for both of them.  Unfortunately, I didn’t start until his senior year which is why I’m sharing this info with all of you.  Don’t do what I did!

My journey started by searching the net.  Searching that way was very frustrating because there are a lot of scams out there and it can take quite a bit of time to see which ones are credible and then find out if your child is qualified.  I came across an app that I love!  It’s called Scholly, and I believe they now charge a very small fee for it.  Note that I don’t know who owns that site nor do I get any commission for recommending it.  It’s just a great site that will allow you to put in the details about your child and it will sort out which ones they qualify for you.  It also provides the link to each of them so you can go directly there and apply.

I called the adventure of scholarship seeking a part-time job, and that’s not an overstatement.  Luckily, both my children received a number of scholarships that ranged from $300 one-time to 5,000/year for all four years.  I decided during my journey to try to make things easier for friends and family, so I created a Facebook page called Scholarship Seekers (SS).  It has a graduation cap with dollar bills in it as the cover picture if you want to join it.  It’s a private page because initially I had a ton of unknown to me people joining and I thought I should limit the competition.  I’m opening it up to all who read this blog.

Many of the posts on the SS page are from years ago, but the vast majority of them are still available.  You’ll see a variety of opportunities from those that require an essay to those that just require your contact info to apply.  I suggest talking to your kids about how much time they have to spend on this venture because they will be the ones to write the essays.  I try to update the page and add a few new opportunities each year.

cakeI encourage you to search all the places you do business with such as your credit card companies, your insurance company, your bank or credit union, especially your place of work.  There are a ton of scholarships that are not awarded each year simply because nobody applies.  I was in college with an older woman that got a scholarship from Ponds hand cream!  There is money everywhere.  You just have to be willing to spend the time necessary to secure some for your children.

I hope some of my suggestions will save you time.  I wish all of you happy hunting, and I hope you start to think about scholarships everywhere you go.  When you are shopping in a grocery store, ask the manager if they have scholarships available.  If you are shopping for a car, ask the dealership if they offer scholarships to customers.  Never give up because you’ll be competing with many others, but the more time you put into the search, the more rewarding it will be!