Friday’s Fave Five

Winter has come back for what I hope is its last hurrah before spring settles in. We’ve had freeze warnings, but thankfully no icy precipitation. Meanwhile, it’s time to pause once again with Susanne and friends at Living to Tell the Story to look back at the highlights of the last week.

1. A Saturday outing. During the early part of the pandemic, Jason, Mittu, and Timothy went to explore Fort Loudoun. The visitor’s center was closed, but people could walk around the grounds. They wanted to go back and visit last week and invited us along. We ate a picnic lunch of egg salad sandwiches Mittu made and some chips. There were several picnic tables where we had a nice view of the Little Tennessee River and the mountains in the distance.

The weather was just a bit too cold–I had brought both my hoodie and jacket, not sure which would be best. I ended up wearing both and was still cold. But we warmed up when we started walking around.

The fort was originally built by the British during the French and Indian War in 1756. It was reconstructed in the 1920s and later made into a historical site. The visitor’s center was open this time.

We missed a live reenactment by a week. But we didn’t want to make the hour drive again so soon, so we’re not planning to go back tomorrow. Though it might have been fun to see, I enjoyed having the place almost to ourselves during our visit.

Due to missing our turn into the park area, we went past it and discovered the Sequoyah Birthplace Museum. We went and explored that after visiting the fort. I’m sorry to say that at first I thought Sequoyah referred to a tribe. Jim said no, Sequoyah was the Cherokee who developed a system of writing for his tribe. He was right (I didn’t feel so bad when my brother-in-law had the same thought I did).

This was a small museum, but exceedingly well done. The murals on several walls and life-like figures in places as well as the video presentations were really good quality and informative. I enjoyed learning about Sequoyah. It was fascinating that he not only worked for years to develop his system, but then had to convince the rest in the tribe that reading and writing would be valuable. But once he did, his system took off.

Sequoyah Museum

All in all, it was a fun day.

2. A serendipitous coupon. I got an email from Audible giving me a $10 coupon. I looked at their sale section and found two books I’d been wanting to read, one at $4.99 and the other at $5.99. With tax and the coupon, I only paid a little over a dollar for two audiobooks.

3. Bay leaves. We seem to get an invasion of ants once or twice a year. When Timothy was little, I didn’t want to use insecticides in the house. So I looked for natural ways to repel ants, and one site suggested bay leaves. We keep a few spread around in our cabinets now, and don’t have any problems with ants in them any more. I have to replace them with fresh leaves about once a year. This week, though, the little nuisances have been on our kitchen counter. So I spread a few bay leaves there for a few days. (As a side note, it’s not good for kids or pets to chew on bay leaves. When Timothy was young, we placed them where he couldn’t reach them. Now, of course, he knows better than to put them in his mouth). I’m thankful not only for a safe method of discouraging ants, but also that the leaves are not as messy as some of the other natural methods I read about.

4. Chocolate drizzled popcorn. Jason and Mittu brought a couple of types over last week. One even had peanut butter along with the chocolate. The sweet and salty combination was just right, and the calorie content wasn’t very high. I didn’t find the same brand they had when I went to the store, but the brand I found was just as good.

5. Brazi Bites Brazilian Cheese Bread. I can’t remember which store I found these in, but they were gluten-free, so I thought we’d give them a try for those in the family that have gluten issues. The flavor I got was Garlic Asiago. We warmed them up last night, and they were so good. I will definitely be looking for them again.

Bonus: It’s been another light cooking week.Jim was out of town most of the week, and I got take-out one night and then just made easy stuff the other nights.

We missed Pi Day (where we eat pie on 3.14) partly because Jim was away and partly because I was working on a project. But Mittu offered to make a belated Pi Day dinner tonight, so we’re looking forward to that.

That was our week. How was yours?

Friday’s Fave Fives

Here we are at the second Friday of March already. I enjoy pausing the merry-go-round of life to share the blessings of the week with Susanne and friends at Living to Tell the Story.

1. My husband’s birthday.

2. Fun birthday accessories. This was a “milestone” birthday, and the cake topper says, “I’m not old, I’m classic.” πŸ™‚

I was also excited to find these paper birthday plates:

3. Lunch with Jason, Mittu, and Timothy. Jim was out of town last Friday, and my son and his family invited me to lunch at a Mexican food restaurant. Good food and company. πŸ™‚

4. Flowers from my middle son’s family. This was actually from last week, but I forgot to mention them. They are still looking good!

5. Girl Scout cookies. My husband brought some home one day. I like the Tagalongs–chocolate and peanut butter combination. They had a new one this year that had a chocolate base with a caramel and sea-salt topping. It would have been better if the chocolate cookie part was soft rather than so hard it scattered crumbs whenever you bit into it. They also had one gluten-free variety, Toffee-tastic, that he got for Mittu.

That’s it for my week. How was yours?

Friday’s Fave Five

I couldn’t help but use the spring icon this week, though spring is officially a few weeks away. It looks like we’ll still have some cold nights over the next week, but pleasant days.

It’s been a quiet, fairly low-key week. Today it’s time to pause with Susanne and friends at Living to Tell the Story to look back at the highlights of the week.

1. Time with Timothy. My son and daughter-in-law asked me to watch Timothy for a few hours one afternoon.

2. A light cooking week. If you’ve been reading here long, you know that’s a favorite for me. πŸ™‚ Jason and Mittu brought dinner in a crock pot when they brought Timothy and ate with us after they got back. Then we got take-out a couple of nights. Jim was away last night, so I just had frozen pizza.

3. Lunch with Melanie. We talked about the world’s problems and didn’t come up with any solutions except that people need Jesus and we look forward to His coming.

4. A Crumbl cookie. I tried the Maple Bacon one this time. Soooo good. But so sweet and rich I couldn’t eat much at one time. I don’t think I’ll get any of their frosted cookies any more—normally with cakes I scrape off the excess frosting. For just a cookie, it seems silly to pay premium price for a special treat just to scrape off 1/3 of it.

5. Blooms and new growth. I mentioned daffodils last week. Flowering tress are blooming all over town. I just noticed yesterday my roses are leafing out. After the barren landscape of winter, I always look forward to the new growth and color as spring approaches.

How was your week?

Friday’s Fave Five

We’ve had quite a warm week in the high 70s. I even had to turn on the air conditioner yesterday. We’re supposed to get down in the 30s again next week, but I’ll enjoy a respite from winter cold while I have it.

In the ups and downs of life, it’s helpful to stop and think about the good things God has graced us with each week. Otherwise, our blessings can fly by hardly noticed.

I like to pause each Friday with Susanne and friends at Living to Tell the Story to do just that: acknowledge and thank God for the highlights of the week.

1. My daughter-in-law’s birthday. We enjoyed celebrating her arrival in the world and in our family.

Jason made that gorgeous chocolate cheesecake for Mittu’s birthday!

2. Kidney Day. Jason and Mittu realized this week was the tenth anniversary of my husband’s surgery for kidney cancer (made easy to remember since his surgery was on Mittu’s birthday that year). They decided to surprise him with a “Kidney Day” celebration. Mittu made this adorable kidney-shaped cake as well as chicken tostadas. Jim showed his urologist a picture of the cake, and he got a kick out of it.

3. An all-clear confirmation. Jim had his annual visit with his urologist this week, and his scans and tests confirmed that he is still cancer-free. The type of kidney cancer he had doesn’t usually spread, but it can: thus the need for yearly checks. It’s always a relief to get the results of that visit. The doctor said they don’t usually follow up on it any more after 10 years, since it’s even less likely to spread after that time.

4. Breakfast biscuits. Jim had to go out early one morning for lab work while fasting and brought us some Chick-Fil-A biscuits when he came back.

5. Daffodils have started springing up!

Is there some blessing, large or small, you can give thanks for this week?

Friday’s Fave Five

Another Friday has sped its way here, altogether too quickly. I’m pausing with Susanne and friends at Living to Tell the Story to remember the blessings of the week.

1. A microphone and a cable. Lately at Zoom meetings, I’ll get a notice that my microphone isn’t working–even though it did when I tested it and worked fine for the first half of the meeting. My oldest son got me an external microphone that plugs into the USB port of my laptop, and that worked fine. Then the room where I like to do Zoom calls and where my Cricut machine is located is far from our modem, and Internet connection is spotty there. My husband got a cable that allows Internet to function better.

2. A pre-Valentine date. We make Valentine’s Day a family day. But this year my husband suggested the two of us go out to eat the night before Valentine’s Day. We figured the restaurants would not be busy, since so many people go out on Valentine’s. We were wrong. πŸ™‚ We went to a new-ish Texas Road House and had a longer wait than expected. But the food was really good. Jim had ribs and I had herb-encrusted chicken.

Then, a local high school soccer team was having a fundraiser inside the restaurant with a table full of sweets. We got a couple of cake pops from them for dessert.

We frequently get take-out and stream a movie. And since my husband works from home, we eat lunch together most days. But usually if we go to a restaurant, it’s with all the family. We hadn’t gone out to eat with just the two of us in a long time. It’s funny how much I looked forward to it, even to dressing up just a bit to go out. We may have to do that more often. πŸ™‚

3. Valentine’s Day with the family. As we usually do, I made “meat hearts” (heart-shaped mini meat loaves), cheesy potatoes, and heart-shaped chocolate cupcakes. Mittu made a great salad and rolls. I made cards for everyone, and Timothy made cards for Jim and me. Jim brought flowers and my favorite milk chocolate Lindt Lindor truffles as well as lavender roses for Mittu. Jason and Mittu and Timothy brought candy for me and honey roasted peanuts for Jim. I found a themed tablecloth with Valentine mazes, word searches, tic-tac-toe grids, and pictures to color. All in all, a fun night.

Though I loved all the thoughtful gifts and fun things, to me the biggest demonstration of love was finding my husband later that night scrubbing the encrusted baking pans that I had left to soak because I was too tired to deal with them after everyone left.

4. An adjusted schedule. For the past few weeks, I’ve gotten everything for my blog’s weekend posts done by Friday so I am free for family things or other projects on Saturday. That has worked really well.

5. Getting phone calls over with. I don’t know why, but I hate to make business or medical phone calls. I had let some needed calls accumulate, so I sat down Thursday afternoon and plowed through them. Of course, one requires hearing back from the office I called before I can move on to the next step. But at least for the moment, I have called everyone I needed to. And that feels good.

What’s something good from your week?

Friday’s Fave Five

It’s Friday once again, and time to pause with Susanne and friends at Living to Tell the Story to count our blessings.

1. An excursion to the American Museum of Science and Energy in Oak Ridge, TN, with Jason and Timothy. Mittu wasn’t feeling well, unfortunately. We talked a bit about postponing our visit, but Timothy had been looking forward to going. I imagine Mittu enjoyed some rare time to herself, though I know she missed being with the family.

We had visited the museum when we first moved here, and at that time it badly needed updating. Thankfully, they changed locations and redid the whole thing. There’s a lot for kids to run around and look at and interact with, but there are also places to slow down and read and learn and experiment.

2. Dinner at Jesse’s. He made us some pineapple glazed ham steaks that were really good. I made cheesy potatoes and applesauce cake; Mittu made green beans and gluten-free bread with pepperoni and cheese inside–something like stromboli. It’s nice to split up meals like that. Then we enjoyed some games.

3. Nice temperatures. We made it into the high 60s a few days this week! Winter isn’t over yet–the forecast shows we’re headed for 20s in a few days. But it was a nice break to have moderate weather.

4. Homemade soups. I love potato soup, but rarely make it from scratch. I get my cravings satisfied by occasional takeout from McAlister’s Deli. But this week, I just wanted potato soup. And since I was peeling so many potatoes anyway, I made a big batch–enough for one dinner and two lunches. Then one day for lunch I used some leftover baked chicken for some chicken noodle soup. This week hasn’t been as cold as the previous weeks, but it was still good to have homemade soups.

5. A competent customer service person makes such a difference in how a service call goes. We had to return a call to a government agency to give them information they asked for, and got handed off to three people before we found one that could help us. She gets bonus points for being reasonably pleasant.

How was your week?

Friday’s Fave Five

Here we are at the start of a new month. The skies have been gloomy lately. Apparently we have six more weeks of winter coming, according to yesterday’s predictions. It would be easy to get in a funk. But counting our blessings is one way to help us see the good things we so easily overlook or forget. Some of us like to do this weekly with Susanne and friends at Living to Tell the Story. Please feel free to join in!

1. Pork loin on sale for $1.27 per pound. Jim cut it into managable pieces and cooked them in the sous vide cooker Jeremy made him, and then browned them to a nice finish. We tried to go back and buy more for the freezer, but the sale was only on for two days rather than the usual week. The loins were back up to $3.98 per pound. Next time, we’ll know to get more than one.

2. Family dinners. Since Jesse moved out, sometimes we see him or Jason’s family separately, but I love when we’re all together. It’s even better when Jeremy, my oldest, is in town. Since the pork tenderloin was a pretty big piece of meat, we invited the local ones over for dinner. Mittu made some amazing cinnamon rolls.

3. Cute *fluffy* dish towels. It’s hard to find fluffy dish towels these days. The flat ones get soaked with just a few uses. On one of my recent excursions, I found these (I think at Home Goods)–just right for this time of year!

4. Adding to my bird collection. Some time ago, I bought one of these little birds at Target. I can’t remember which of the two on the right was my first. Then Timothy bought me the next two. I wanted to find one more to have two even pairs, but hadn’t seen any in a while. Then I recently saw a couple more. I couldn’t decide between the two on the left, so I got both. Now I am back to an uneven number, but that’s okay. I especially like the glasses on the one.

5. Family texts. we have a family group text not only for any important news, but also for fun things we want to share, pictures of home projects or dinner creations, Timothy’s sayings or activities or school work. I love that we can touch base throughout the week.

How was your week?

Friday’s Fave Five

Here we are at the last Friday of January. We’re 1/12 of the way through 2023! It’s nice to pause the swiftness of time passing by to reflect on God’s gifts and blessings of the week with Susanne and friends at Living to Tell the Story.

1. Lunch with Melanie is a highlight whenever we can meet to do so. I always enjoy our fellowship.

2. Cracker Barrel is one of my favorite restaurants, but my family isn’t crazy about it. Plus they have little to offer the gluten-free members, and I wouldn’t trust any of their food not to be cross-contaminated with gluten. But that’s where Melanie and I often meet. And as usual, I took home a slice of the Chocolate Coca-Cola Cake, which I divide over two days.

3. A long afternoon of errand-running was tiring and didn’t result in finding what I was looking for. But it was nice to push through and get everything done so I could stay home the rest of the week. And at least I can say I checked at various stores, so I can now eliminate them as places to look.

4. Perspective. We’ve been visiting churches, the most recent one just a few minutes from our house. I was hoping that this might be “the one” rather than another we visited that was almost 25 minutes away. Then I read the prayer letter of friends who minister in Papua New Guinea. They were rejoicing that a recent trip to a new area they are trying to reach for the Lord took “only about 1.5 hours of backpacking compared to the usual 4.5 hours” due to some “bush bridges” that the people had built.

5. Live-streaming of funeral services. I mentioned a few months ago that Debbie Talbert, who ministered with her husband in Alberta, had pancreatic cancer. She used to participate in FFF at a blog called Purple Grandma (which is no longer online). We knew Debbie and her husband in early married days as we attended the same church and went to the same college. We had lost touch over the years and then reconnected through our blogs. It was a blessing to be able to watch the funeral service online.

Bonus: My son and daughter-in-law had us over for dinner and games last Saturday, which we always enjoy.

How was your week?

Friday’s Fave Five

The rain and cold has given way to warmth and sunshine as I write on Thursday. Welcome changes. Not all changes are welcome, but there’s no way around them: only through them. But God is with us every step of the way. I like to pause on the journey to count God’s blessings and gifts with Susanne at Living to Tell the Story.

1. A movie/symphony combo. When we went to a Christmas concert last month, we had some problems that caused my husband to call the management the next day. He didn’t want to complain, but to let them know of the issues. They were very kind and interested, and offered us free tickets to the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra’s next program–which happened to be a showing of Jurassic Park, with the orchestra playing the soundtrack live. That would not have been my first choice of a movie to see–but it was what they were playing. And the music is gorgeous. It had been a long time since I had seen it, and there were some fun parts. Jesse enjoyed seeing what would have been cutting edge technology when the film was made thirty years ago. Jason, Mittu, and Timothy didn’t come: larger-than-life rampaging dinosaurs would have been too much for Tim, and there were a couple of quite violent scenes. But overall, it was a really fun experience, and the orchestra did a wonderful job. And we had great seats–row Q!

2. Celebrating our first date. I hadn’t thought about our first date in years, but it suddenly hit me that it was Jan. 13—also a Friday the 13th that year (1978), which is probably why I remember the date. Inspired by Intrepid Reader’s first date anniversary celebration (at the Jules Verne restaurant in the Eiffel Tower!), I asked my husband if we could commemorate ours in a more homey way. πŸ™‚ We decided to order take-out from Ruby Tuesday’s.

3. A half-off coupon. As my husband looked up Ruby Tuesday’s web site to order online, I rummaged through my sales offers email folder–and found one coupon for buy-one-get-one-free ribs entrees, which was what we were going to order anyway. Nice!

4. An appointment changed to a tele-health call. I was diagnosed with sleep apnea a few years ago, and consequently have to have an appointment with the sleep center once a year. Last year I thought this appointment really could be phoned in, as it was mostly just answering their questions. This year, because they were in the process of moving their offices, they did change the appointment to a FaceTime-like phone call. I asked about keeping it this way for next year, but they said no, they prefer in-office visits. But it was nice to have a reprieve from driving in this once.

5. Puttering, which for me means little jobs like decluttering my desk, cleaning out my catch-all basket, putting things in place, etc. When it’s busy, those kind of things pile up, and it feels incredibly good to get to them.

And that’s it for another week here. How is your January going?

Friday’s Fave Five

It’s Friday once again, time to pause with Susanne at Living to Tell the Story to remind ourselves of and thank God for His gifts of the week.

1. A family outing. We went with Jason, Mittu, and Timothy last Saturday to a car show. I’m not so much into looking at old cars, but Timothy asked. πŸ™‚ And it was fun to do something together. A bonus was finding some pink cars!

I thought this British one was cute as well:

You probably can’t make it out in that picture, but on top was a tribute to Queen Elizabeth.

Afterwards, we went out to a new-to-us Mexican food restaurant. I love Mexican food and hadn’t had any in a restaurant in a long time. After we ate, someone (maybe the owner or manager) came over and told us about their desserts, then brought us a free sample of white chocolate raspberry cheesecake to share.

2. Churros. These get their own listing. πŸ™‚ At the restaurant, we ordered some churros to go. It was only the second time I had ever had them, and the first time to have them freshly made. Oh my. So good.

3. Popcorn experiments. Some time ago, Jason and Mittu had given Jim a set of different types of popcorn. We made some the night they brought it, but had not done much with it since. But lately, Jim’s has gotten out the air popper and tried several different flavorings. My favorite so far was kettle corn mixed with honey roasted peanuts. But we just found white cheddar flavoring yesterday, so I look forward to trying that. And to his credit, whenever Jim experiments in the kitchen, he always cleans up afterward.

4. A fun outing. I had a dentist appointment yesterday afternoon–not fun, especially when she couldn’t do the planned filling because the damage was too extensive. The affected tooth is under a bridge, and I’m going to need either a root canal or an implant. While I try to gather more information to make a decision, I have to take antibiotics because there is a little infection in the tooth.

I had planned to run some errands and get my hair cut after the appointment, but thunderstorms started about an hour before I needed to leave (two of my least favorite things at the same time: dental work and driving in storms!) I almost decided to just go back home after seeing the dentist. But the rain let up, so I went on. Then the rain stopped completely. One of my stops was at a new Michael’s craft store recently opened nearby. The only other Michael’s was 30 minutes away, so I rarely got out there. I had some gift cards for them, and it was almost like a second Christmas being able to use them. Plus, craft stores are some of my favorite places, and it had been a long time since I had just wandered around one just for fun. One of my new treasures is this:

5. A fantastic cookie. Jason had once brought me a cookie from a new Crumbl Cookies shop. I wanted to stop in there and see what else they had, but hadn’t made it yet. I finally did on my outing yesterday. This is their Reese’s peanut butter cookie. Oh. my. word. So soft and so good! It’s too much to eat in one sitting, but I’ve enjoyed parts of it and have some left for today.

So it’s been a “sweet” week in more ways than one. πŸ™‚ I hope you’ve had some sweet moments as well.