serendipitous reflections

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Tiff, Nikki and Jeni

Tiff, Nikki and Jeni partied all night, staying up until 5:00 am. And as you can see, they all got lei'd, just like Nikki's invitation promised.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Anniversary portrait

Jeni had the wonderful idea of giving Nikki and Todd a portrait of the kids for their anniversary gift. My cousin did an amazing pastel portrait of Morgan and Evan and I think Nikki and Todd were both a little awestruck by the picture.

Chocolate fountain

I just realized the one thing we didn't get a picture of was the chocolate fondue fountain, which was a definite hit at the party. Imaging a flowing two-tiered fountain of chocolate and a dish of grapes, pineapple, bananas, apples, strawberries and marshmallows to dip in it. Needless to say, chocolate was everywhere. (By the way, does anyone have a good tip for getting cholocate out of a white cotton shirt...)

Hey, hey the gang's all here

Dean and I went to Atlanta for Nikki and Todd's 10th anniversary party. They had a luau theme. Nikki went all out with the decorations as you can see the tiki hut umbrella and grass skirt on the keg. Everyone had a wonderful time celebrating their first ten years together.

Tiff, Nikki, Jeni, and Dean
Nick, Bill, Mary Margaret, and Nicole
Dave, and Chris

Cheerleader Morgan

Morgan did a great job cheering at the football game (the Indians won!) and she tolerated the heat and her "mean teacher" of a coach. It was a lot of fun getting to watch her.

Posting pictures

I saw how to use Blogger to post pictures so hopefully we'll get pictures from the weekend up soon. I do hope Hello gets working again, though.

Monday, August 29, 2005


Party pictures are coming. I just can't get the darned photo upload to go to our blog right now. Sorry.

Repair Clinic

I'm no handyman, but I thought this website was handy, easy and informative. I'm trying to figure out why our dryer is taking a while to dry a load and I think I found my answer ... now it's time to get home and do some basic maintenance.

Joy ride

One of my patients was telling me that her 12-year-old grandson and his friend decided to take her car for a joy ride at 3 a.m. Saturday night. So, while driving her new car around and smoking cigars, he managed to wreck her car to the point of being undrivable. We are allowed to find humor in this because no one was hurt, but can you imagine the sight of these kids cruising down the road, cigar in mouth puffing away?

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


My brother told me about the Blingo search site that uses Google for it's search results, with a few clearly marked "sponsored links" but the perk is they give prizes randomly during the day (only your first 10 searches of the day count as entries, so don't bother searching all day). The cool thing is if you sign up as our "friends" then if you win, so do I. And if someone signs up under you, it works the same way. So CLICK HERE and sign up and let's share the booty! (Hehe ... I said booty!)

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

First day of school

Today is Dean's sister Kelly's first day of college. I can't wait to hear about her classes and professors. I will never forget how lost I felt on my first day at UT. It was so overwhelming for a small town girl, considering one of my classes was as big as my whole high school. But it gets better - you make friends, find your niche, play gin and eat pizza all night, drive to Butch's in Kentucky for lottery tickets, take roadtrip with friends, go to football games....

I'm so excited for Kelly. She has just started a new and wonderful chapter in her life.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Praise for Amazon

I heard on Marketplace Monday evening that Amazon was going to be offering 49 cent short stories in digital format (Listen to: Short Stories, Teeny Price). This is such a great opportunity to get people who might not buy books to read good authors and hopefully give fledgling writers an opportunity to get read.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Back from the beach

Jeni's back from a few days at the beach with Tiff. I'm not sure who's happier to have her back, me or the cats. I know they like me, but you can really tell they like having her around.

Oh... another electrical storm. We have been having crazy lightning around here lately, but really nothing much more with it. Our friend Chris was in Afghanistan in 2002 with the reserves, and the Afghanis thought we could control the weather. With the weird weather patterns we seem to get, and Fort Jackson here ... well, let's just say it sometimes crosses your mind. Guess I should shut this down just in case.

Had a seminar I went to this weekend in town. I'll try to touch on the evils of the insurance industry later.

And little sis in off at college. I'll be expecting good stories on her blog soon!

Monday, August 15, 2005

Happy Birthday Mom

Today is also my mom's birthday. This would have been my mom's 66th birthday. I think of her everyday, and I miss her everyday. Happy birthday mom...I love you.

(This picture cracks me up. Besides my flying nun hat, check out Carolyn's hair. Now that's style, baby. That was one thing my mom always was...in style!) Posted by Picasa

Happy Birthday Tommy!!

Today is our nephew Tommy's 15th Birthday. We were so sorry we couldn't be there this weekend for his actually birthday party at Ben and Jerry's, but when we were there we had a nice dinner and cupcakes. Not quite B&J's but it was so nice we could do a little celebrating with him. This is another picture from his horse show a couple of weekends ago. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, August 13, 2005

What a sight

We went down to Devine Street today to check out their amazing annual sidewalk sale. We went into a store called Brittons, which is in a strip of stores, and while we were in there we heard what sounded like thunder. When we went two stores down to Handpicked, we heard all the talk -- an elderly lady had driven her car into the building two stores the other way! The girl at the cash register was telling us she saw some of the after-effects, and said the Mercedes hit Gibsons and she saw one of the decorative columns crumble.

Now, let me orient you quickly ... this center has street parking out front, and a parking lot out back so all the stores have a back and front entrance. This lady drove in from the back side.

So Jeni and I are done with our shopping and look and can see where the sidewalks around the store at caution-taped off. And from where we were standing at Handpicked, it didn't look too bad, although we couldn't see the car (I assumed it had been towed away). But a lady points out that we can't leave, because the firetrucks have us blocked in. So, our shopping continues and we walk through Handpicked and across Devine Street to a neat little stationary store.

It wasn't until we went to the stationary store that we realized that the lady didn't drive "into" the building (as in bump the building), but she drove "into" the building (as in three-quarters of the way through!). After about 30 minutes of window shopping, we make it back just as the firetrucks are leaving and the car is being towed out. Surprisingly little damage to the car ... the hood was scraped up, front left headlight smashed and the bumper hanging loose. But the store, that's another story. Imagine the scene in The Blues Brothers when they drive through the mall ... the shoebox shaped store had the entire center smashed, as if someone took the double doors and just pushed them all the way through the store, which I guess is what essentially happened.

Thankfully, no one was injured. The store had just opened, and the six people inside had just moved from the back to the front. Even the driver was OK, from what we heard, but we can only imagine how shaken she must be! We think she either throught she was in reverse but was in drive, and panicked when she hit the building, or she had some sort of seizure.

But what a mess! Moments like this, we wish we had a camera phone.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

While You Were Out

On Sunday, we spent the morning doing a quick "While You Were Out" makeover of Sarah's and Amy's room. Sarah, Noah and Amy all spent the night with their grandparents, so we put up a quick coat of paint to jazz up the girls room from old, boring off-white, to an exciting, vibrant fuchsia. What fun for a couple of little girls! Posted by Picasa

Three apples high ... no, no, that's a Smurf ... 10,900 sheets of paper high

We took a bunch of school supplies to the kids to get them ready for the start of the new school year. Sarah stacked all the paper products, and Amy stood next to them to see just how much there was. Cathy then said we must always supply notebooks that stack as tall as Amy is. Posted by Picasa

Amy looks on

Little Amy looks through the fence at the riders as they take their horses through the obstacle course. We had a great time, and she met a very friendly horse that she got to pet. Amy laughed quite a bit when the horse put its nose throught the fence and breathed on her through its nose. Posted by Picasa

Sweet Evan

We got to meet sweet little Evan on our visit to Knoxville. He was so good, and christened us both by promptly spitting up on us at the horse show. Posted by Picasa

Monkey boy

Noah is quite the daredevil. While waiting for Tommy's turn at the horse show, Noah decided to dangle by one hand from the edge of the bleachers, about six feet from the ground. Fortunately, and against the norm, there was no blood shed. Posted by Picasa

Sarah: unposed

This is a rare candid photo of Sarah. She has such a knack of sensing the camera and striking a pose. Posted by Picasa

Obstacle course

Tommy guides his horse Dandy through the obstacles as part of his horse show. The walker beside is there just in case. All the others had two walkers, one on each side, but Tommy only had the one, which is even more impressive since the announcer pointed out that Dandy was being skittish this day and was prone to spook. We couldn't even applaud Tommy because Dandy was in a mood. Posted by Picasa

Tommy's horse show

We visited "The Doug's" this past weekend and were in time to attend Tommy's horse show. Tommy did a wonderful job, earning two first place ribbons and one second place. We are very proud of him, he did such an amazing job! Posted by Picasa

Monday, August 08, 2005

Brain teaser

This is one of my new favorite words ... yes, I'm a dork and have favorite words ... see if you can guess it. I really like this word because it is only seven letters long and contains every vowel. If no one guesses, I'll give you the answer in a few days. Keep your eyes open as you drive around and you'll see it.

Of Grasshoppers...

Student: Why the attic?
Master: Debasement.

[This one is for Doug with apologies to those who do not read his blog, understand his Of Grasshoppers posts, or fail to get my sense of humor. ...Dean]

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

The Third Cooking Class

Unfortunately we don't have any pictures of the third dinner due to Dean being sick. (Poor Deano slept through dinner and we left just after we finished eating.) The menu was awesome. The kids wanted to do something on the grill, so we decided on steaks. YUM-O!! We started with a refreshing Citrus Salad (thanks Rachael Ray). The main course was grilled Ribeye steaks with carmalized onions and sauteed baby portobellas, grilled corn on the cob with a maple vinaigrette, and cheesy scalloped potatoes. And for dessert we had a cool and refreshing Key Lime pie.

Citrus Salad

2 hearts romaine lettuce
2 cups jarred citrus salad of orange and grapefruit sections, drained – fresh oranges and grapefruits may also be used but to supreme fruit (method below*) takes extra time
2 tablespoons marmalade
2 tablespoons white wine or cider vinegar
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons chopped or snipped chives

Chop lettuce. Arrange lettuce on platter and top with pieces of grapefruit and orange.

*To supreme fresh oranges and/or grapefruits instead, cut off ends then remove skin in strips working all the way around the fruit from top to bottom. Cut along the side of the membrane to remove the sections of the citrus fruit.

Combine marmalade with 2 splashes of vinegar and stream in extra-virgin olive oil. Pour dressing over the salad and season with salt and pepper. Garnish platter with chopped or snipped chives.

Sauteed Crimini

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, 1 turn of the pan
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 pounds crimini mushrooms, brushed clean with damp towel
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, chopped**
1/2 cup dry red wine
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add extra-virgin olive oil and butter. Add mushrooms and season with salt, pepper and thyme then cook 15 minutes until evenly browned and tender. Add wine and deglaze the pan. Add parsley and transfer mushrooms to a serving dish.

**I prefer rosemary to thyme, but both taste great.

Grilled Corn with Maple Vinaigrette
Southern Living magazine

6 ears fresh corn with husks
1/4 C unsweetened brewed tea
1/4 C vegetable oil
3 Tbl balsamic vinegar
2 Tbl maple syrup
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Remove heavy outer husks from corn; pull back inner husks. Remove and discard silks. Cover corn with water; let stand 30 minutes. (Keeps husks from burning.)

Drain corn, and pat dry. Pull husks over corn.

Stir together tea and next 6 ingredients in a small mixing bowl.

Grill corn, covered with grill lid, over medium heat for 20 mins. Carefully pull back husks, leaving attached. Brush kernels with vinaigrette. Serve with remaining vinaigrette.

Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes
Southern Living magazine

2 1/2 lbs red potatoes, unpeeled
3 Tbl butter
1/3 C chopped green onions
1/3 C chopped red bell pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp ground red pepper
2 C whipping cream
3/4 C milk
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 C shredded Swiss cheese
1/4 C grated Parmesan cheese

Cut potatoes into 1/8" thick slices; set aside.

Melt butter in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat; add green onions and next 3 ingredients. Cook stirring constantly, 2 minutes. Add whipping cream and next 3 ingredients, stirring well.

Add potato slices; bring to a boil over medium heat, and cook stirring gently, 15 minutes or until potato slices are tender. Spoon into a lightly greased 11x7x1.5" baking dish; sprinkle with cheeses.

Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

Yield: 8 servings


Key Lime Pie

Cool and refreshing Key Lime Pie. I looked at several Key Lime Pie recipes and sort of put them together to get this recipe. This is a more authentic recipe and the filling will not be bright green.

Key Lime Pie

16 graham crackers, crushed
3 Tbl sugar
1/4 lb (1 stick) butter, melted

Combine all ingredients until moist. Press into a 9" pie pan. Bake at 350 for 10-12 mins until golden. Let cool.

4 large egg yolks
1 (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
1/2 C Key Lime juice (juice of 14-16 key limes)
2 tsps grated lime peel
Whipping cream

Use an electric mixer and beat the egg yolks until they are thick and turn to a light yellow. Don't over mix. Turn the mixer off and add the sweetened condensed milk. Turn speed to low and mix in half of the juice. Once the juice is incorporated add the other half of the the juice and the zest; continue to mix until blended. Pour into the prepared graham cracker crust. Bake at 350 for 12 mins. Let cool before serving. Top with whipped cream. (1C whipping cream and 2 Tbl sugar - mix on med-high until soft peaks form.)


Monday, August 01, 2005

Cheaper than going to Maui

In our second night of "cooking class," the kids and I decided to do a Hawaiian theme dinner. We started off with a fresh fruit salad (watermelon, pineapple, blueberries, and mandarin oranges) topped with a savory poppy seed dressing. And for the main event we had Ginger-Soy Glazed Yellowfin Tuna, Coconut Curry Jasmine Rice, Mango Bread, and sauted squash and zucchini.

Poppy Seed Dressing
Food Network

2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt plus more to taste
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon finely chopped onion
1/2 cup vegetable oil, like soy, corn, or peanut
1 tablespoon poppy seeds

In a small bowl, whisk together all the ingredients. Use immediately or store covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days
**This dressing is very savory- it's not a sweet dressing.

Ginger-Soy Glazed Yellowfin Tuna
Coastal Living Magazine

1/4 C soy sauce
2 Tbl fresh lime juice
2 Tbl honey
1/8 tsp ground red pepper
1 Tbl canola oil
1 Tbl dark sesame oil
2 Tbl minced fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 (6- to 8 - ounce) yellowfin tuna fillets or mahi mahi, about 1" thick

Whisk together first 4 ingredients in a small bowl until well combined. Set aside. Heat canola oil and sesame oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add ginger and garlic; cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute or until fragrant. Stir in soy sauce mixture and bring to a boil. Add fish fillets; cook, covered, 4 minutes. Carefully turn fillets over using a spatula, cover, and cook 3-5 additional minutes. Transfer fillets to serving plates, and drizzle each evenly with pan sauce. Serve immediately. Make 4 servings.

**Or combine all ingredients in a bowl and let fish marinate for 20-30 mins. Then pan sear or grill.

Coconut Curry Jasmine Rice
Coastal Living Magazine

1 1/4 Tbl butter
1 small onion, chopped
2 tsp curry powder
1 C Jasmine rice
1/3 C golden raisins
1 C light coconut milk
1/2 C vegatable broth
1/2 C water
1/2 tsp salt
1 bay leaf

Melt butter in a medium saucepan. Add onion and saute until tender. Add curry powder and rice; cook 2 minues. Stir in remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Remove bay leaf.
Makes 3 1/2 Cups

Mango Bread
Coastal Living Magazine

2 C all-purpose flour
1 1/2 C sugar
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 C vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 C chopped mango
1/2 C raisins
1/2 sweetened flaked coconut
1/2 C chopped walnuts

Stir together first 5 ingredients in a large bowl.

Whisk together eggs, oil, and vanilla; gradually add egg mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until moistened. Stir in mango and remaining ingredients. Pour mango mixture evenly into 2 lightly greased 8" X 4" loaf pans.

Bake at 350 for 50 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely. Makes 2 loaves.

Posted by Picasa


A Five Star Dessert

We made a decadent Chocolate Silk for dessert. Chocolate Silk is incredibly rich, so don't cut large pieces. This is personally one of my favorite desserts. The recipe came from Stars Dessert cookbook.

Chocolate Silk

3 oz toasted and coarsely chopped walnuts
4 oz toasted and coarsely chopped pecans
1/2 C firmly packed brown sugar
Pinch of cinnamon
4 oz (1 stick) sweet butter, melted

Mousse Cake:
20 oz extrabittersweet chocolate
6 oz (1 1/2 sticks) soft sweet butter
3/4 C sugar
6 large eggs
1/4 C heavy whipping cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 C heavy whipping cream
2 Tbl sugar

To make crust:
Combine the walnuts and pecans with the brown sugar and cinnamon in a stainless steel bowl. Stir in the melted butter. Press the nut mixture into the bottoom of a 9" springform pan.

Refrigerate the crust for 1/2 hour, until firm.

To make the mousse cake:
Melt the chocolate in the top half of a double boiler.

While the chocolate is melting, combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Using the paddle attachment, cream on medium speed until the mixture is light and fluffy.

Switch to the whisk attachment and add the eggs 2 at a time, mixing well after each additon. Scrape the sides of the bowl, increase to medium-high speed, and whip for 2 minutes, until the egg mixture increases slightly in volume.

Whisk the melted chocolate until it has cooled slightly. It should be warm but not hot.

Whisk the chocolate into the egg mixture on medium-low speed. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and continue to mix until the chocolate is fully incorporated. Stir in the cream and vanilla extract. Spread the mousse filling in the springform pan on top of the crust. Refrigerate the cake until firm, 6 hours to overnight.

To make the topping:
Put the cream and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. With the whisk attachment, whip on high speed until soft peaks form. Spread whipped cream on top of the cake. Unmold the cake from the pan by running a hot dry knife around the inside edge of the pan and then releasing the latch from the springform. Slice the cake with a hot dry knife. (Dip the knife in hot water and then dry it off.) Posted by Picasa