Wordless Wednesday ~ It's summer time


I don't think I have ever been happier to see summer finally arrive. I watch the boys play outside all day and then Little M become a big boy at night by helping dad build a fire. I honestly wish summer could last forever...










Adding A Tea Drawer To My Kitchen




I love the look of Tea Chests and I think it would be nice to have one to organize my tea stash but I just don’t want one more thing on my counter top. The other day I was browsing through some videos on YouTube for iced tea ideas and I came across the following one by Cindi Bigelow and Bigelow Tea.




Did you catch those flavor combinations? I definitely have to try them out, especially the Arnold Palmer version! In case the video went too fast here’s the recipe for a glass of iced tea or a pitcher of iced tea.

Fresh Brewed Iced Tea by the Glass
Pour 4-5 fl oz. boiling water over teabag.
Steep 3 to 5 minutes.
Sweeten to taste.
Pour into tall glass filled with ice . . . and enjoy!

Fresh Brewed Iced Tea by the Pitcher
Place 6 tea bags in a one-quart container.
Pour 1 cup boiling water over tea bags.
Steep 10 minutes.
Remove tea bags.
Add 3 cups cold water.
Serve over ice.
Sweeten to taste.

Now back to that tea drawer . . .

The first thing we did was measure the height, depth and width of the drawer. Then we measured a package of Bigelow tea (my tea of choice). After all of that we decided to make the little tea cubbies 3 inches square. This will give me 24 cubbies.

Next my awesome man went out to his workshop and cut strips of wood. He used ¼ inch Masonite that we already had on hand. For our particular drawer we needed 3 strips that were 19 3/4” x 2 7/8” and 5 strips that were 13 3/4” x 2 7/8”.


For the next step we marked each strip where we wanted to make the notches for the strips to slide together to form a grid. After a little adjustment here and there the project slid together.



We happened to have the tools and material on hand but I think it could also be done with sturdy cardboard and Washi tape. Another idea would be to look for pretty little baskets and fill your drawer with them.

Did you happen to notice the empty spots in my new tea drawer? I guess I’ll just have to find a few more flavors to fill it up! 

Giveaway
Take a second to enter my swag bag giveaway, oh and Bigelow has added a Tea Chest to the swag bag. You are going to love all the goodies we found for you. In fact I want to win my own swag bag!



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Bigelow Tea Trip to Charleston, SC ~ The Ultimate Field Trip




I come from a family that chose to homeschool and one of the beauties of that is we got to experience many field trips to learn first-hand the subject matter that we were studying. In fact we have often joked about our mother having the ability to turn any vacation or outing into some type of field trip. I feel like I have just returned from the ultimate field trip.

My brain is on complete overload and I don’t want to just half hazardously tell you about things so for today I’m just going to give you a brief overview. In the coming days I’d like to give you more in depth details so you can gain insight into the whole process of tea making and drinking like I was able to glean over the past couple of days.



Some of the things I can’t wait to tell you about are the house we stayed in and the history behind it. Another thing I’m really looking forward to telling you about is the tea tasting we did. Did you even know that there is a proper way to taste tea? I sure didn't  One of my favorite parts was our trip out to The Charleston Tea Plantation. That in and of itself made the trip worth it.

So while I take a little bit to gather my thoughts and love on my babies (I missed them like crazy!) take a second to enter my swag bag giveaway, oh and Bigelow has added a Tea Chest to the swag bag. You are going to love all the goodies we found for you. In fact I want to win my own swag bag!

I think I’ll go make myself a nice cup of Bigelow tea before I go tackle unpacking the suitcase and starting the laundry. Enjoy your day!


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In the Twinkling of an Eye






This has been such an odd day full of conflicting emotions. All morning I’ve been running around trying to get ready for my trip tomorrow to Charleston. I’ve been on the phone and on facebook with others who are going. We’ve been comparing notes on what to wear, what to bring and how to cram it all in.

Then this afternoon all the news outlets began reporting on the devastating tornado that hit Moore, OK. Suddenly all the packing and excitement went on the back burner. The only thing I could think of was if our friends and family in the area are safe. The video footage is gut wrenching. People are wandering around looking for their loved ones. Others are grieving over loved ones that won’t be returning. No matter where you look it just seems to be unending devastation.

After the Joplin tornado, we in SW Missouri understand your loss, your grief and your pain. We stand with you as you begin the recovery process. We all know the road will be long and things won’t be exactly the same but we will be there to help you through it.



For anyone that wants to know what they can do to help . . . may I suggest something? Please consider a donation to Convoy of Hope. (www.convoyofhope.org) They are an amazing organization that we have worked with and watched first hand as they labored tirelessly in Joplin. We know they are already on the ground in Moore. If you are in the Springfield, MO area they also use volunteers to help load and pack the trucks that will be sent out.

People can also help by texting CONVOY to 50555 to give $10 to Convoy of Hope. Terms: http://mGive.org/T #PrayForOklahoma

As I finish this post the storms are beginning to blossom here. My prayer is for safety. But I also hope that each of you will take a moment to reach out to those closest to you and let them know exactly how much they mean to you. We aren’t promised tomorrow and we all know that things really do change in the twinkling of an eye. Make the most of the moments you do have!

Anticipating Charleston ~ I Can Hardly Wait!



Do you remember that scene from The Music Man where the whole town is looking forward to that infamous wagon? Do you remember how the anticipation just kept building and building? Well that’s exactly how I’ve felt all day.

Then it happened . . . that distinct sound of brakes, the sliding door, and then my doorbell rang. It had arrived! Finally in my hands I have the official itinerary of our trip to Charleston, SC. I thought that I already pretty much knew what we would be doing. But much to my pleasant surprise there were even more adventures to experience!

I’ve already told you in the previous post that we will be staying on the Battery at the Palmer House Bed and Breakfast and that we’ll be touring the Charleston Tea Company. Today I found out that we have been invited to the beautiful Edmonston-Alston House for a private cocktail reception with Bigelow Tea Company’s founders, David and Eunice Bigelow.

Photo Credit:  palmbeachsymphony.org

If that isn’t enough, the next day we get to have a tea tasting with Bigelow’s president, Cindi Bigelow. I must admit I’m a tad bit nervous. I’m kind of certain that the way I make tea and the way she makes tea isn’t quite the same. (Microwaves and Keurigs probably aren’t in her process!) But I am completely excited to learn from her.



The itinerary goes on to describe a history of Charleston talk and a few more tours. They included a wonderful map so we can do some personal sightseeing in our down time. They gave us some suggestions for restaurants that sound absolutely divine. I have to tell you that my favorite part is where they strongly suggest bringing lots of hair product and flat comfortable shoes because it is going to be in the 80's and humid and the sidewalks are cobblestone!

Now I must go scour my closet for the perfect outfits and check on that shoe situation. I’m envisioning a shopping trip this weekend. I’m almost positive that I need a new pair of shoes!

Don’t forget to follow along on our adventure. We’ll be posting live updates on Facebook and of course we’ll be tweeting our heads off on twitter @RambleSAHM. You can follow the whole group by using #AmericasTea

While you’re waiting for our adventure to begin enter to win Whitney’s Swag Bag from our trip. We’ll be gathering up all kinds of goodies as we go along. Use the form below . . . we look forward to tweeting with you! 


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Dreaming of Charleston, SC




When I dream of where I would love to live Charleston, South Carolina is at the top of my list. I want to be a Bin Yah instead of a Come Yah. I want to walk along those shady sidewalks and gaze upon all the beautiful buildings that just ooze history. I want to feel the salty breeze off of the Atlantic. I want to smell the distinct odor of pluff mud and feel it between my toes. I want to be a Charlestonian!



Every couple of years we embark on a family vacation that now includes grandparents, kids and grandkids. We have long discussions about what we want to do and where we want to go . . . and then we always wind up choosing the Charleston area. More specifically we wind up on Folly Beach. It just seems to be the best fit for our varied tastes. 



Our men like to go surfing and deep sea fishing. We ladies like to shop, try new restaurants and spend lazy afternoons reading. Folly Beach is a wonderful environment for all of that. But I must confess as much as I love our time there I am always drawn to Charleston. I am in heaven when we walk the Battery. Those beautiful stately old homes just speak to me. I've always wondered what it would be like to wake up in one. How soothing would it be to take my morning cup of tea out onto the piazza and spend time gazing out at Fort Sumter?


Well I’m excited to say part of my dream is about to come true. Whitney and I have been invited to come to Charleston and tour the Charleston Tea Plantation with Bigelow Tea. Now if that isn't amazing enough we’ll also be staying at the Palmer Home Bed and Breakfast. We’d love to take all of you with us but of course we can’t so we’re going to do the next best thing!




During our stay we’re going to gather up some fabulous swag and then give it away to one lucky winner. You can begin entering at the form below. Best wishes to each of you! 

In the meantime if you would like to follow along on our trip we’ll be live tweeting at @RambleSAHM  
To see what is going on with our whole group follow the hashtag #AmericasTea

Giveaway
One US winner 18+ will win a swag bag full of goodies from our trip! Enter the rafflecopter form below to be entered! Good luck giveaway will end on May 31 2013 at 12:00 AM EST!



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Wordless Wednesday ~ T Ball


Little M is in full swing with T Ball! Words cannot describe how proud we are to have a son playing T Ball. Of course he is the preeminent player on the team. 








Meanwhile Little H is...


Ball boy!

Date Night Chocolate Muffin Recipe






Hubby has an absurd work schedule; consequently we don’t often have a whole lot of time for date nights. Once in a while everything falls into place and we wind up with an evening together. After the kids are in bed we embark upon what has become our preferred date night. We spend a few quiet hours eating something sweet and catching up on one of the shows we like to watch but don’t have the time for during the week.
 
On one of those elusive nights I prepared these chocolate muffins and they have been a winner ever since. I particularly like them because they are low-fat and won’t eradicate your diet. The next morning I let the kids have the leftovers for breakfast and they think they've hit the jackpot! (Shhh…Don’t tell them that the muffins have pumpkin in them!) Hope you like them too.


Low Fat Chocolate Muffins 



Ingredients 


1 Chocolate Cake Mix
1 16oz Can of Pure Pumpkin
1 Cup of Milk
1/2 Cup of Chocolate Chips



Directions


Mix all ingredients well. Scoop batter into muffin tins filling to the top. Bake at 350 for 15 to 20 minutes. Cool & Enjoy!










Urivaled a Historical Novel by Siri Mitchell








Historical Fiction

Back of the book:

Falling in Love Could Be A Recipe For Disaster.

Lucy Kendall returns from a tour of the Continent, her luggage filled with the latest fashions and a mind fired by inspiration. After tasting Europe’s best confections, she’s sure she’ll come up with a recipe that will save her father’s struggling candy business and reverse their fortunes. But she soon discovers that their biggest competitor, the cheat who swindled her father out of his prize recipe, has now hired a promotions manager—a cocky, handsome out-of-towner who gets under Lucy’s skin.

Charlie Clarke’s new role at Standard Manufacturing is the chance of a lifetime. He can put some rough times behind him and reconnect with the father he’s never known. The one thing he never counted on, however, was tenacious Lucy Kendall. She’s making his work life miserable . . . and making herself impossible for him to forget.


About the author:







Siri Mitchell graduated from the University of Washington with a business degree and worked in various levels of government. As a military spouse, she has lived all over the world, including Paris and Tokyo. Siri enjoys observing and learning from different cultures. She is fluent in French and loves sushi. Read more about Siri here.



My thoughts:

The rivalry between City Confectionary’s Fancy Crunch and Standard Manufacturing’s Royal Taffy in 1910 St. Louis is turning the candy world upside down. The Kendalls and the Clarkes used to be part of the same company, but at this point they resemble the Hatfields and McCoys. The animosity now extends to the children of the founders.

Through a chance meeting Lucy Kendall meets Charlie Clarke. At the time they don’t realize who the other is and a spark of interest begins to grow. Soon enough it becomes known and even though the attraction is mutual they just can’t seem to put aside the hurt and resentment of the past.

This is a story of jealousy, stubbornness, and revenge. It is also a story of caring, yielding and forgiveness. Once again Siri Mitchell transports us back in time with the sights, sounds and smells of the time period. She is a gifted writer that can paint a complete picture with words. I enjoy her ability to give a very detailed account of the timeframe without losing the magic of the storyline. I learn so much from her novels through the narrative and through the author’s notes at the end.

If you enjoy historical fiction I think you will delight in Unrivaled. My only warning is that this is a story about candy . . . better stock up on some before you pick up the book. You are definitely going to want some by the end. 

Disclosure: The opinions expressed in this review are those of @FitzysMom from Rambles of a SAHM. A book was provided free of cost in order to facilitate this review. This post contains affiliate links. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or Services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising"

Roses Have Thorns by Sandra Byrd ~ A Historical Fiction Novel Review


Roses Have Thorns
Sandra Byrd
Historical Fiction

Back of the book:

What happens when serving a queen may cost you your marriage—or your life?

In 1565, seventeen-year-old Elin von Snakenborg leaves Sweden on a treacherous journey to England. Her fiancĂ© has fallen in love with her sister and her dowry money has been gambled away, but ahead of her lies an adventure that will take her to the dizzying heights of Tudor power. Transformed through marriage into Helena, the Marchioness of Northampton, she becomes the highest-ranking woman in Elizabeth’s circle.

But in a court that is surrounded by Catholic enemies who plot the queen’s downfall, Helena is forced to choose between her unyielding monarch and the husband she’s not sure she can trust—a choice that will provoke catastrophic consequences.

A rich, tautly woven tale of love, deception, and grace, Roses Have Thorns vividly conjures the years leading up to the beheading of Mary Queen of Scots and is a brilliant exploration of treason, both to the realm and to the heart.

My thoughts:

In Roses Have Thorns we are taken into the inner circle of Queen Elizabeth I. The story is told through the perspective of Helen von Snakenborg, who is a confidant of the queen and the second most powerful woman in all of England.

If you are a fan of Tudor history you are really going to enjoy this book! Sandra Byrd has woven a tale that is compelling yet tasteful. She gives you insight into just how turbulent the times were. We are reminded of how much shifting between Catholic and Protestant religions her predecessors embarked upon. The religious tension of the day was very pervasive in the lives of everyone, from those at court to those among the masses.  

I came away from the book with a new respect for Elizabeth I. She really did sacrifice her life and happiness for her subjects and her country. She was a very devout woman yet her court was still riddled with scandals. One of the things I appreciate about Sandra Byrd’s writing is that she tackles these disgraces head on in a discerning manner. We are aware of exactly what is going on, but we don’t have to muck through the tawdry details.

I was also profoundly affected by the story of Helen. I can’t even begin to imagine what it was like to live at court. Every luxury is at your fingertips, but your children and even in Helen’s case your husband are elsewhere. The power the queen held over her life would have been completely overwhelming to me. I loved her strength of character and also her flaws that reminded us that we are all vulnerable when we take our eyes off of our Savior.

This is the third and final installment in the Ladies in Waiting series. The first book is To Die For; A Novel of Anne Boleyn.  The second book is The Secret Keeper; A Novel of Kateryn Parr. Even though these three books are considered a series they are easily read as stand-alone novels. I highly recommend each of them!

Connect with the author: 



















Wordless Wednesday ~ Ball Boy

Little H is crazy about balls. Balls are his number one toy. Momma is hoping this means "football" is in the future! What do you think???









Tasty Tuesday ~ Do you like fish?


For Tasty Tuesday this week, let's talk fish. Do you eat fish? We want to, really we do. We want to like fish, cook fish, and have it be a part of our diets on a regular basis.

Here's the thing: we don't like fish. I distinctly remember one night choking down fish tacos only to go out later for a second dinner. It's just not our thing. But fish is so good for you! So we've been trying recipes for fish for people who don't like fish. This trout recipe is a keeper! Best of all, the trout was from a local farm, so I felt comfortable with how it was raised.


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For the full recipe for Pecan Crusted Trout, visit Food Snob St. Louis today!
 

Funeral Sandwiches Recipe ~ Definitely for the Living!




Growing up in a southern family I've eaten my fair share of funeral sandwiches. After I married and moved away they kind of fell off of my radar. Funeral dinners often consisted of various casseroles but not the ones I grew up on.

I was recently reminded of them while I was at my son’s house after our newest grandson was born. A sweet family from their church brought over dinner and it consisted of what I knew as “funeral sandwiches”, a couple of bags of chips, a tin of chocolate chip cookies and a gallon of delicious sweet tea. Let me just say, southern people really know how to show their love!

Funeral Sandwiches are definitely for the living. They are the easiest thing to make and take to someone you care about. They are delicious enough to have at a special family gathering. And they are wonderful for an end of a crazy busy day meal.

So for your eating delight . . . here’s my Grandma Lillie’s recipe:

 


Lillie Mae’s Funeral Sandwiches

1 pkg of dinner rolls (She ALWAYS used King’s Hawaiian rolls, but Aunt Sally used regular rolls)
½ - 1 lb deli sliced ham
½ lb thinly sliced swiss cheese (we’ve also used provolone)
½ C melted butter
2 T brown sugar
2 T Worcestershire sauce
2 T mustard (spicy mustard adds a nice kick)
1 tsp onion powder
(At this point Aunt Sally would add some poppy seeds. Grandma Lillie never would because they got in her dentures, not that she would ever admit to that!)





1. Split the whole package of rolls in half and lay the bottom half in your 13 x 9 pan.
2. Layer the deli ham over the top of the roll bottoms.
3. Add a layer of the swiss  cheese.
4. Put the tops of the buns back on.
5. In a bowl, whisk together the butter, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard and onion powder.
6. Brush the top of each bun with the mixture. Drizzle the remainder over all of it.
7. Cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. 24 hours is really the best.
8. When you are ready to make them heat the oven to 350°. Bake the sandwiches covered for 10 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 10 minutes more.









There you have it! Now go make a batch or two for yourself or a friend. They are a perfect way to say I care. Just remember to put them in a disposable pan so the intended recipient isn’t burdened with washing and returning! (That’s the free momma advice coming out of me!)




Contemporary Amish Fiction ~ Courting Cate


Disclosure *I was given a copy of this book. All thoughts are from @FitzysMom of Rambles of a SAHM

Leslie Gould
Contemporary Fiction/Amish



Back of the book:

When this couple gets to courting, sparks will fly!

In Paradise, Pennsylvania, Cate Miller is known more for her sharp tongue and fiery temper than her striking appearance. Her sweet and flirty sister, Betsy, on the other hand, seems to have attracted most of the bachelors in Lancaster County!

But the sisters’ wealthy father has made one hard-and-fast rule: Cate, as the oldest, must get married before Betsy can do so. Unfortunately, untamable Cate has driven away every suitor—until Pete Treger comes to town, that is.

Prodded by the men of the area, Pete turns his attention to winning Cate’s hand. But is his interest true or is there a scheme at play?


About the author:

Twitter: @lesliejeangould








Some of my strongest memories from childhood include stories—and how those stories connected me to my family and friends. As a preschooler, I remember playing Island of the Blue Dolphin with my three siblings and the neighbor kids, my father reading A Street of Flower Boxes to us before bed, and my mother reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn on long car trips. I also soaked up Bible stories and accounts of grace and redemption during Sunday school and Good News Club. Along with my love of stories, my love of writing began in those early years with my very first written word—S-K-Y.

Even though I knew I wanted to write fiction by the time I was in the sixth grade, as I grew older I pursued other things instead, such as majoring in history and communications, and then working as a museum curator, then a public relations specialist, and finally as a magazine editor. Once I finally started writing fiction, it was another ten years until I sold my first novel. By that time I’d been married for nearly 20 years and had four children of my own to read to.

In the decade since my first contract I’ve written fifteen books, from Beyond the Blue, a story about international adoption set in Vietnam, to Courting Cate, a retelling of Shakespeare’s “Taming of the Shrew” set in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. No matter what I write, I aim to reveal truths about God’s love, beauty, and redemptive work in our lives. My goal is to connect more deeply to God, family, and friends through my writing. My hope is that my stories encourage readers to deepen their own connections too.

My thoughts:

If I had to sum this book up in one word it would be clever. Why clever you ask? Leslie has taken the skeleton of Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew and fleshed it out in her own unique way. It is kind of like Old England meets Lancaster County.

I am a big fan of Shakespearian literature so when I first heard about this book I kept wondering how Leslie was going to stay true to the storyline yet keep it an Amish based book. I was pleasantly surprised at how closely she stuck to the original.

The thought of an Amish woman being a shrew just didn’t fit with my perception of how I think they conduct themselves. The character of Cate really does start out as a shrew. It is very interesting to read about why Cate has developed such a churlish attitude. The contrast between her and her sister Betsy couldn’t be more apparent. The whole community loves Betsy but many tend to avoid Cate. Of course if you know the original story you already know that Betsy isn’t all that she appears to be. Cate’s motives are about self-preservation while Betsy’s are just selfish.

The second book in the series, Adoring Addy was just released and I look forward to snatching it up as well. It is based on the story of Romeo and Juliet. If it is even half as witty as this book it will be worth the read. 


Disclosure: The opinions expressed in this review are those of @FitzysMom from Rambles of a SAHM. A book was provided free of cost in order to facilitate this review. This post contains affiliate links. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or Services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising"


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