A Pre-Thanksgiving Dressing or Possibly Undressing Recipe

(The Undressing is for those who do not like Thanksgiving Dressing)

Each year a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving, I get my trusty 50-something-year-old cookbook out and pull out my Thanksgiving menus and recipes.


I have several different dressing recipes and the decision-making process is critical in deciding which one to use each year. In other words, I look through them and ask family members which one they would like me to make this year. I wait patiently for them all to say “Oh whatever you want to fix this year is fine with me” and then I pretty much just pick one.

This is the original one I first started using out of the cookbook shown above. I probably followed this recipe to the letter the first few times and then began making my own additions and changes. That goes for most recipes you will see on here. Some of these have notes to the side, others are just handwritten, or printed, copies that I keep within my cookbook.

Also although it says “stuffing” I do not stuff the turkey. I figure he already had his chance to stuff himself. I bake the dressing in a casserole dish.

If time is of the essence and you prefer to do a quicker method for your dressing, I have made the following recipe several times using the bags of dried dressing mix from the store. I never follow the directions on the bag exactly. It is a dressing after all so it needs to be dressed up a bit.

And here is another variation I came up with for a quick version but I added a package of sage sausage. Of course, cook and drain the sausage if you decide to try this.

I actually have more variations, such as cornbread dressing, but I suppose I will stop with these.

I miss the days of cooking the whole Thanksgiving meal. The planning. The extreme gratefulness when everything turned out as I had hoped and nothing was overcooked or undercooked. And not having to call the fire department. That is a big one. Just kidding. I have never had to do that…yet. And then, after cleaning up the kitchen and storing all the food, the sheer joy of getting to sit down and put up my feet and relax knowing I poured all my love for my family into that meal.

Weeping Willow, Oh Weep for Me

Several months ago while looking through a book I have on the great Impressionist artist Claude Monet, I turned the page and there was one of his beautiful willow tree paintings. The willow tree has always been one of my favorite trees for several reasons.

The tree itself is such a beautiful example of sweeping grace always bending and swaying with the wind, weathering all seasons with grace and dignity. I suppose in a way people are like a willow tree bending and swaying and rising up again no matter what life throws at us in any season whether it be in the spring of our youth or in the winter of our days.

The willow tree also always reminds of the song Willow Weep for Me. We performed it in A Capella Choir in high school and I always thought it was a haunting tune. It has been recorded many times by various jazz and blues artists; so if you have not heard it I recommend giving it a listen. Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra, and Lou Rawls are some of the choices.

Another reason, and surely the best, I have such a love for the willow tree is from my childhood. Almost every summer we would travel to Arkansas to visit my Aunt and Uncle. They had this enormous willow tree in their front yard and it was so much fun playing under the low branches. It was one of the best hiding places – until everyone else figured it out.

And so, after all these reflections, I felt the urge to put paintbrush to paper and create my own vision of the lovely willow. I hope you have enjoyed my latest stepping stone journey.

Weep Oh Willow

Ecclesiastes 3 King James Version (KJV)

Verses 1-8

1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

3  A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

4  A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

5  A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

6  A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

7  A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

8  A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

 

This past year has been the hardest year of my life…so far. I have to try to inject a little humor because that is just who I am. It is part of my nature. If I did not have this sort of personality trait along with God’s love, I don’t believe I would have made it through any of my life without sinking into some dark place never to return.

A year ago today I lost my husband; my son lost his father. The scripture above is one we chose to be read at the funeral; and also there a song with these same words which was part of the music that day. I believe there is more said about living and loving in those few words than anyone else could ever say.

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Turn

I didn’t think I was going to be able to write anything about this for a long time, if ever. I’ve spent the last few days crying and reflecting, reliving our last few days in the hospital with family gathered around. I keep trying to put it out of my mind but it is always there in the shadows just waiting for a song or a spoken word to bring the memories to the surface. I know I will be like this for the rest of this day. Dwelling in the sadness because I miss him so; yet realizing that this world could no longer be his home. He is home now with God.

Tomorrow will be a better day. The sadness will always be there but I will pick myself up, my son will pick himself up, and we, with the help of God and our family and friends, will live and love and do the best that we can because that is what we are meant to do. That is what God wants us to do.

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Partridge, No Tree

I have not been able to blog or paint much in the last few years. I sincerely lost interest in it. My husband came first and taking care of him was my top priority. And quite frankly, I could not find the inspiration within myself that I need to write and paint. I’m hoping to do more of both this coming year. In the meantime and am posting a couple of watercolors that I have been working on when I feel God sending the inspiration back to me.

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Nuthatch

The singing group The Byrds did a wonderful rendition of the Bible verses quoted at the beginning of this blog. The song is called Turn Turn Turn. If you have never heard it before, or recently, I highly recommend it.

Best wishes to all and special love and thanks to my family for all you have done and continue to do for me.

 

Sweet Bird of Youth

Many of my favorite memories during the ancient times, my childhood, involved trips to my Grandma’s farm near Fredericktown, Missouri. It was just a small place on the outskirts of town but I loved it. There was always something to do or to look at. Horses, cows, chickens, and my very favorite peacocks! This started my lifelong fascination with these glorious birds of a different feather.

Each year when the male peafowl would molt, my Grandma would collect and save the feathers. She made me a beautiful display of these feathers in a vase which I have safely stored for the time being away from Smokey and Bandit. Need you ask why?

I started on this painting several months ago and just finished it today. It is mixed media, watercolor and acrylic, 12×16. This painting is a bit more abstract than I normally do. I believe my next one will be more impressionistic, like me.

peacock

Hey! Get your head out of that box!

Recently a conversation developed among some art friends regarding the Abstract form of art. Now I have to admit that, in the past, I have not been much of a fan of abstract art. However, that was before I really was introduced to the Abstract style in art history class. Since then, I have realized the importance of all the different styles of expression in our everyday lives.

Toucan Sam, Watercolor Mixed Media

Toucan Sam, Watercolor Mixed Media

Contrary to what some people might believe, artists did not invent Abstract just to see how funny it would be to watch observers standing on their heads or backing slowing away or just gazing blankly at their creation while trying to analyze, rearrange, or develop some concept of what the artist wanted to convey through his work.

Just Percolating,  Acrylic and Watercolor

Just Percolating, Acrylic and Watercolor

Imagination is such a grand thing. We teach our children from the youngest age to use their imagination starting in the simplest form and then progressing into our school systems. What is imagination? It is literally thinking outside the box. Whether it is through writing, invention, or art, through dreaming, analyzing, or calculating, the avenues are endless.

 

Acoustic Dream, Watercolor

Acoustic Dream, Watercolor

So thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy viewing a few of my abstract watercolors and mixed media paintings. And hey! Get your head out of that box!

Flamingo Folly, Watercolor

Flamingo Folly, Watercolor

Trail of Memories

Sometimes the simplest action can bring forth a wonderful surge of memories. This morning my simple action was pushing back the cuticle on one of my fingernails. And then came the flood. From the time I was a little girl until I was in my teens, my Grandma Marie would do my nails for me every time I went to visit her. Although I never realized it when I was small, as the years passed I came to know that this simple ritual was a unique bonding experience between us. The exchange of the touching of hands was just as comforting as a hug for both of us and the light, conversational banter brought us closer together spiritually.

Grandma taught me how to do my own nails by watching her and by giving me little clues as to how to  use the tools to shape my nails. When she was finished, she would apply clear fingernail polish and I absolutely loved the end result, a pretty, natural look. Throughout the years there have been times when I’ve used colored polish on my nails. But I’ve always gone back to the simple natural look inspired by my Grandma. Less is more.

 

Cockscomb Flower

Cockscomb Flower

And, speaking of the simple, natural look, another lasting memory from my Grandma is the special flower she always had in one or more of her flowerbeds. This flower is called a cockscomb and the reason is self-evident. As you can tell, it really does resemble the brilliant, rough comb from the head of a rooster. Of course, if you have never experienced a close encounter with a rooster, you may not be able to relate to the resemblance. You may also count yourself lucky to have missed out on the cockscomb closeup. Okay, back to the flower. I haven’t seen too many of these flowers in my lifetime and believe they are mostly found in country areas now. It’s rather sad that a lot of these older flowers are slipping away into obscurity. I felt my Grandma’s presence while I was sketching and then painting this watercolor, as if she was sitting right next to me. Perhaps she was. And who knows? Maybe this little watercolor will initiate a cockscomb flower comeback!

Thanks for following me on my little stepping stone journey today!

Happy Birthday, Sam!

It is finally here. The day my brother Sam has been cautiously anticipating, his birthday. Why do I say cautiously, you may ask? Well, mostly because he had to be wondering what kind of story line I was going to concoct about him in this blog. No worries, my sweet little brother. All is well.

Since Sam is a few years younger than me, a very few, I hesitate to make any derogatory comments about his advancing age. In all honesty, I’m still trying to figure out for myself where in the world all the years went! It seems like I just blinked and, Hello!!, old age arrived. Anyway, I think Sam is absolutely wonderful and I would never want to cause him any anxiety. And then I came upon some pictures from our, shall we say, formative years. And so begins my little picture story.

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From the beginning, Sam was always sweet and huggable. To this very day, he is the same way.

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Ever the adventuresome soul. Ready to step into the pool,  being sure to put his best foot forward.

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Sam’s entertaining spirit revealed itself to us at a very young age and to this day it is one of his most endearing qualities.

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Always willing to lend a helping hand, Sam assists little brother, Roy, in unwrapping his present. Seriously, Sam is always here for me no matter what the situation. He is an extremely caring and compassionate soul.

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And as you can see in this picture, little Sammy finally grew into that hat!

 

Thank you, Sam, for being such a wonderful brother. I’m so glad you are nearby now and so happy God sent you to our family. Enjoy your birthday and remember each one is another gift from God.

 

Love you,

Your Sis

Eyes and Windows

My nephew, Nate, has a beautiful eye for photography. Myself, I can’t look at a photograph or view a sunset without thinking about how I would love to paint it. Perhaps the artistic instinct runs in the family. Now you might be wondering why I am giving you this little family background picture. So I will tell you.

Nate's Photograph

Nate’s Photograph

As soon as I saw this photograph Nate took from inside an abandoned building, I knew I was going to have to paint it. I felt drawn to it, as if I was actually standing inside that building looking up through the aged panes of glass which were resting in their antiquated metal casings. Surely that must be a sign of a great photographer, one who can pass his vision on to the viewer, allow you to see through his eyes.

Windows, Acrylic and Watercolor

Windows, Acrylic and Watercolor

And, thus inspired, I also wrote this little verse to accompany my painting:

Windows

Alone I walk through shadows grim
With streaks of starlight fading dim.
A silent wind dances and swoons
Tossing dreams across the moon.

The sun casts forth a breath of light
A fresh release of morning bright.
A telling vision of the whole
The eye, the window of the soul.

 

You may view more photography by Nate Handlang at http://Sine-Qua-Non.tumblr.com. He also has a gallery show coming up very soon!

Happy Birthday, Baby Brother! I Love You Dearly.

Isn't he adorable?

Isn’t he adorable?

Today I am wishing my wonderful brother, the baby of the family by the way, a very happy birthday. Now although he is the youngest, he may also be the wisest in a lot of ways. He says it’s all just common sense. Either way, if he ever gives you advice, whether unsolicited or not, the sage thing to do would be to follow it.

Okay, enough of the praise and on to a mostly funny yet frightening childhood memory!

I cannot recall Roy’s exact age when the following incident occurred but I think he was probably around four years old. As many of you with knowledge of small children know, they are prone to get into the worst possible situations when left to their own devices. In all fairness to our parents, Roy was supposed to be sleeping, like everyone else in the family, when he discovered this interesting thing to do with a nickel. At five in the morning everyone else was sleeping. But Roy was always an early riser and also was very quiet about it. So you have your good and your bad. Good, he was considerate enough to be quiet as a little church mouse so everyone else in the household could get their rest. Bad, he was very good at quietly getting into trouble.

On this particular morning he quietly inserted a nickel into an electrical outlet. And, amazingly, no one in the family even knew what he had done until he decided to show us some time later. Apparently no fuses were blown and thank God the force of the electrical shock did not throw him against the wall. Or, maybe it did and we just never knew it. Possibly, that is how he came up with all this common sense. It was infused into him during his nickel fusion episode. Incidentally, did you know that a nickel inserted into an electrical outlet actually melts? Which brings me to another thought, since a nickel is 75% copper and only 25% nickel, why oh why is it not called a copper?!  Of course, that would change a few commonplace little phrases we have become accustomed to using. Don’t take any wooden coppers!  Not worth a plugged copper. While the list could go on and on, I will stop this little tour down Idiom Lane for now. You may release your huge sigh of relief at this time.

Have a beautiful birthday, Roy!

Thanks for reading and I hope everyone enjoyed my little journey back in time.