Saturday, November 7, 2009

Graffiti Attack At The Smith House.

As the title indicates, I'm very sorry to have to report that we did have a graffiti attack at our house last night.

It happened right as it was getting dark. I was in the kitchen, rustling around trying to get dinner on the table. I wasn't paying a whole lot of attention to what was going on around me and certainly wasn't noticing anything (or anyone) outside.

I suddenly became aware of some movement in the darkening back yard and happened to glance out the kitchen window just in time to catch a glimpse of the graffiti leaver.

It is a sight I will never forget.

Scroll down. Prepare yourself.

I gasped! I called for Sarah to come and witness the sight!

She was also stunned by the blatant, graphic display of graffiti.

See? Doesn't she look stunned?

She and I discussed the situation and and after much thought, decided we wouldn't turn the vandal into the police. Just yet.

We decided that we would show him a little mercy, feed him a little dinner, and see if maybe we could rehabilitate him. Maybe even to the point where he might want to enter the ministry, or something.

We'll let you know how it goes.


The results of the Comment Poll are in:

130 (or 48% of you) of those who responded have never left a comment
138 (or 51%) of responders HAVE left a comment.

Interesting numbers. Thanks so much for participating!

Mix together. Heat. Eat. (Santa Fe Soup)

Last year Steve's cousin, Betty Jo, made this soup for our family. We've enjoyed it a lot since then and since we're right in the middle of "soup weather," this would be especially great to make for dinner tonight!

The only ingredient I haven't yet added to our soup is the Ranch style beans since I have never been able to find those at the grocery store. If anyone can give me insight into what they are, I would appreciate it! In the meantime, I've just been adding whatever other can of beans that catches my fancy.

Santa Fe Soup

2 small cans VegAll
1 can regular corn
1 can pinto beans
1 can ranch style beans
1 lb browned hamburger or turkey
1 package Ranch dip mix (dry)
2 C water
1 can RoTel tomatoes
1 can diced tomatoes or 1 quart canned tomatoes.

Mix together. Heat. Eat.

(Dontcha love simple recipes?)

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Lonely Lid

When Nathan is at home, he is known as the Supreme Reigning King of Dishwasher Loading. Nathan is a very logical, organized person (unlike his somewhat scatterbrained Mom) and he has come up with the most efficient way to load a dishwasher that has ever been known to mankind.

In fact, it would not be an exaggeration to say that he has the loading of the dishwasher down to a precise science and may even start traveling the country holding seminars on the subject.

Unfortunately, when I had my back momentarily turned, Nathan secretly and surreptitiously trained his sister in The Reigning King's Methodology of Dishwasher Loading; as a result, she will barely even let me near the machine just because I sorta toss things into the dishwasher in a helter skelter, willy nilly manner. It seems that my tossing skills do not even come close to measuring up to the standards of the Supreme Reigning King and Queen.

But hey. I'm good with that. My kids want to load the dishwasher? I'll let them load the dishwasher. And on the occasional occasions when I do it, they just have to grit their royal little teeth as they witness the dastardly dishwasher chaos that I create.

They're good like that.

And on the further subject of Nathan and kitchen organization:

Back when we had our microwave on the counter instead of over the stove, Nathan always asked if Sarah and I would put the butter lid on the microwave when we were setting the table. That way, when he was cleaning the kitchen later, he wouldn't have to dig through stacks of stuff everywhere in order to find the lid and replace it on the official butter container.

I got pretty well trained in regard. Placing the butter lid on the microwave was something my non logical, non-reigning Queen of Dishwasher Loading could handle without too much brain sprain, brain pain or brain drain.

And then? And then we got rid of that microwave.

As a result, we had to re-vamp our Efficient Butter Lid Placing Procedure. Sarah and I got together for a Very Important Meeting about the subject and decided that, even though the microwave was gone, the best plan of action would be to continue to place the butter lid on the counter where the microwave used to be.

(Don't you wish you lived at our house? The excitement level often times ratchets up to these sorts of incredible heights.)

That plan worked out pretty well and things went along rather swimmingly. Until last week.

Last week, Sarah and I were clearing the table (of course, she was the one loading the dishwasher) when it occurred to us that the lid to the butter was nowhere to be seen.

We looked at the Official Butter Lid Spot on the counter. The Lid was not there.

We rummaged beneath and behind the piles of plates and used Saran Wrap. The Lid was not there.

We were stumped. We were stymied. We were borderline bamboozled.

Finally, a little light went off in my (little) brain and I said, "I know! Let me look in the fridge and see if the butter lid is in there!"

I opened the door and voila'! Perched forlornly all by itself on a shelf was The Lid. A lid without a partner. A lid bereft of the butter dish it should have been permanently paired with.

Do you want to know what was worse than finding the lonely lid in the fridge?

It was the fact that I even thought to look in the fridge for the lid at all.


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Smith Male Ladder Meanderings and the Non Interfering Mother

It's sunny outside. About 65 degrees. Low humidity. Slight breeze. Crystal blue sky.

Anyone feel like moving to North Carolina? We just happen to have a great house to sell you!

And no, we've had absolutely no nibbles on our "great house," even since dropping the price to below rock bottom a week ago. I don't know. Do you think if we reduce it to $39.99 we might have some takers?

In the "getting ready to sell the house," process, Steve has been busy painting and fixing the wood in some of our window sills. I wrote a couple weeks ago that he's not overly thrilled with being on a ladder but this week he has turned into a veritable Mister Ladder Guy.

He's been scampering up and down and scampering down and up with nary a quiver or quaver in sight. (Although a ladder will never be his favorite place to hang out.)

I thought I should take a few additional pictures to document phase two of The Smith Male Ladder Meanderings. (Let me just say that I'm glad it's him up there and not me!)

I'm thankful that my calling in life includes working in a ladder-less kitchen. Ladder leaping is most certainly not my cup of tea. Or bowl of soup. Or plate of cookies. Or whatever.

When I finished taking the pictures of Steve, I turned my attention (and my camera) to the calm, autumn evening around our home.

So glad God made autumn . . .


I've gotten quite a few comments on the Barbecue Cup recipe with ideas for some variations. I'll re-post them all here to make it easier for you to find them.

1. Rushed home from work tonight and tried the crescent roll variation. It was great (though a bit awkward to line the muffin tin with the triangular piece of dough).

I also tried a second variation in that I used homemade Italian meat sauce. Now I am imagining all sorts of variations on this theme: eggs and ham; chicken with cream sauce; tuna and vegetables with cream sauce; baked beans and sausage; chili; fruit served with ice cream. YOWZA! ---GS in Canada

2. Regarding using crescent rolls: I read on a blog (I don't think this one but maybe) a recipe called chicken bundles. I wonder if you could use the crescent rolls, and the meat filling to make these. I think you would use the equivalent of two rolls (so you have a square of dough), plop some meat mixture in the middle, and bring the four corners up to the top and tie them together. That would make them somewhat like a piroshki. ---Elaine

3. I have a great idea for your bbq cups. Line the pan with paper liners that you use for cupcakes, then add the biscuit and all the other ingredients. I think that may work, and cut down on it sticking to the pan and the messy clean-up? --Haley


I also wanted to share a few insightful comments that came in on the difference between a priest, pastor and chaplain.

1. Episcopal ministers can also be called Priests (and Rectors). ---Mrs. Pam

2. Just a quick note to tell you that there are also Catholic Pastors. They are the "head" priest in the parish who is in charge of everything. Although we still refer to him as Fr. So-and-So, you will occasionally hear Pastor So-and-So. ---Jenn

I learn something every day from you all!


And lastly, the question was asked if Nathan has seen a doctor about his heart issue yet. Although I have asked him twice about making an appointment, I haven't heard anything back from him. So I'm trying to do my best imitation of a non-interfering Mother and let it rest for a while.

Hmmmm. Exactly how long do non-interfering Moms let things rest, anyway? A week? Two?

Don't worry. My "interfering Mother" self will take back over before long! This handsome fella will never be too far away to be out of my reach, out of my care, or out of my heart.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Message of the Stones

Steve and I have always enjoyed walking in cemeteries. I don't know if that's strange or not, but it's true.

It's so interesting to read the grave stones and the inscriptions and see how long a certain person lived and who passed away first in a marriage, and what children were born and died in a certain family.

The best part of a cemetery though is that it brings to us a sobering and sacred reality check that says, "This is the fate of all men and this is your fate. Never forget that you don't have unlimited time to squander and fritter and waste."

So going to a cemetery is a pleasant excursion and a sobering excursion, all at the same time.

Last weekend in Manteo, we walked up the street to a cemetery that is connected to the family who owns the cottage we're staying in.

As soon as we walked into the cemetery, I saw this sign. After almost losing our beloved little Snowy a couple weeks ago, I had extra compassion and appreciation for a person who loved his horse this much.

This scene made us smile.

Studying the fate of all men.

Bittersweet beauty.

A small farm near the cemetery

I especially loved the epitaph on here. Simply, "Loved."

This man helped the Wright Brothers in their work.

So many grave stones, so many stories, so many life songs sung. And the message of the stones is that life is limited and each day has an expiration date.

I'll close with a few of my favorite quotes on time to remind you and to remind myself how precious every moment is.
  • You may delay, but time will not. Benjamin Franklin

  • Much may be done in those little shreds and patches of time which every day produces, and which most men throw away. Charles Caleb Colton

  • Time goes, you say? Ah, no! alas, time stays, we go. Henry Austin Dobson

  • Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you. Carl Sandburg


One quick note on the recipe I posted yesterday. The question was asked about the meaning of "1/2 barbecue sauce." I was obviously overdue for my nap and left out that it was "1/2 cup." Thanks for bringing that to my attention. (I went back and changed it in the recipe.)

Dana said she made the barbecue cups last night and everyone loved them. Her daughter even re-named them "hamburger muffins." Love that!

Pam, I'm not positive if you could use crescent rolls but I would think so. Actually, those may actually even taste better than the biscuits, now that I think about it. I may just try that next time. (If anyone tries the crescent roll variation, please let us know how it goes.)

And Sue G., once again I am sorry for a cheesy recipe; I promise the next one will be cheese-free!

Thanks to everyone who has been participating in the poll that can be found in the right column. I can't believe how evenly divided the signers and non-signers are!


Q. Becky I have a lot going on in my head, heart, and body. I have lots of worries over silly things, but this question is bugging me. I just started to see the Hospice Chaplain. Can you please tell me What is the difference between a chaplain, pastor, priest? ---Nancy

A. Nancy, I was just praying for you a few minutes ago and hope that you are enjoying the special time you're having with your family right now, even in the midst of dealing with so many challenges.

As for your question: a pastor is a church leader in the Protestant faith and a priest is a church leader in the Catholic faith.

Chaplains are generally more "specialized" in their ministry; there are hospital chaplains, hospice chaplains, prison chaplains, even rodeo and racing chaplains!

All chaplains aren't necessarily pastors of churches, but they do have similar training, in addition to the specialized training for their particular field of chaplaincy.

Some pastors can also be chaplains; for example, Steve was a volunteer chaplain at our hospital here in Smithfield and was on call for a week every couple of months or so.

I hope I answered your question without confusing you too much! Prayers continue.


Thanks to everyone who has been sharing your "gratefuls" with us. It's been so wonderful to read them!


Early this morning I was sitting in my blogging recliner in Nathan's room when Steve came in. He kissed me and then said, "You are my greatest blessing."

Now often does one get to start her day being told she is a great blessing?

I'm grateful to be a blessing. Grateful to be married to a blessing. Grateful to be married to someone who takes the time to let me know that I'm a blessing.

I'm grateful for fall leaves, early morning light, affectionate white dogs, a dearly beloved, far away college student and a fourteen-year old princess to whom I get to teach math.

And I'm grateful for a new church, a new town, a new house and new beginnings.

I'm grateful for chocolate and good books and faithful blog readers. I'm grateful for my sweet mom and five siblings, and for a dad who is happy in heaven. I'm grateful for the knowledge that I am loved and that I have people to love.

How about you? What are your "gratefuls" today?

More later . . . .

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Barbeque Cups

I promised a recipe and a recipe you shall have.

I've even managed to include a couple pictures of my lovely cooking assistant, Sarah Smith.

Shall we begin?

Or . . . hmmmm . . . . shall we take a nap first?

I suppose I'd better go ahead. However, if you'd like to take a nap first, please feel free.

Our family has been enjoying this recipe for years and years; it's especially fun to serve to kids but grown ups love it, too.

Barbecue Cups

3/4 lb. hamburger (may also use ground turkey)
1/2 cup barbecue sauce
1 T. instant minced onion
2 T firmly packed brown sugar
10 oz. can refrigerated biscuits
3/4 C shredded cheese

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Call daughter and dog downstairs to help.

3. Grease 10 muffin cups

4. Brown ground beef; drain.

5. Add barbecue sauce, onion and brown sugar.

6. Separate biscuit dough into 10 biscuits. Place each biscuit in muffin cup, pressing dough to cover bottom and sides. (Make the dough on the bottom pretty thin, even thinner than shown in the picture.)

7. Take pictures of lovely kitchen assistant carrying out your instructions.

(By the way, the picture only shows us making six of the cups instead of ten. It's a long story.)

8. Spoon meat mixture into each cup.

9. Top with cheese

10. Snap picture of cheese topped meat mixture that was spooned into cups made of biscuit dough placed into muffin tins. (Whew!)

10. Bake at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven.

11. Take another picture so that you can ooh. And ahh.

12. Loosen with spatula, remove from pan. Serve immediately.

13. Take one more picture.

Sit down and eat.


NOTE: If you want a tasty variation of this recipe, take the meat mixture and instead of putting it in the biscuit cups, make a quesadilla with it, placing the meat and cheese between tortilla shells and grilling in skillet. (Flipping once.)

Cut up and serve with salsa. It's really, really good!

Sometimes I double the meat portion and use half of it for the barbecue cups and I freeze the other half to use down the road.



Here are a few variations that came in after the recipe was posted.

1. I tried the crescent roll variation. It was great (though a bit awkward to line the muffin tin with the triangular piece of dough).I also tried a second variation in that I used homemade Italian meat sauce.

Now I am imagining all sorts of variations on this theme: eggs and ham; chicken with cream sauce; tuna and vegetables with cream sauce; baked beans and sausage; chili; fruit served with ice cream. YOWZA! ---GS in Canada

2. Regarding using crescent rolls: I read on a blog (I don't think this one but maybe) a recipe called chicken bundles. I wonder if you could use the crescent rolls, and the meat filling to make these. I think you would use the equivalent of two rolls (so you have a square of dough), plop some meat mixture in the middle, and bring the four corners up to the top and tie them together. That would make them somewhat like a piroshki. ---Elaine

3. I have a great idea for your bbq cups. Line the pan with paper liners that you use for cupcakes, then add the biscuit and all the other ingredients. I think that may work, and cut down on it sticking to the pan and the messy clean-up? --Haley

Repurposed Pieces. Ring Tossing. A Survey

For an Exciting Blogging Change of Pace, I have decided to start with some pictures instead of putting them in later.

Can you stand that much excitement on a Tuesday morning? I guess we'll find out.

A very sweet Smithellaneous friend sent Sarah and me a couple boxes of clothes that she and her daughter wanted to "repurpose." As you know, Sarah and I are always very happy about repurposed clothes. Here we are, purposefully parading a pair of repurposed pieces. (Try not to spit when you say that.)

First, may I present to you the posed pose. (Please overlook--if at all possible--the fact that most of my make-up had deserted me by that point in the day. Thank you.)

And in the following pictures? The normally calm Smith women get all crazy. And wave their arms. And everything.

There now. Wasn't that exciting?

We had a fun weekend in Manteo. Saturday night was a Family Fun Night at the church with games, hot dogs, karaoke and a wide variety of tempting sugary confections. I played a few games and made a most memorable showing, missing three out of three tries in the ring toss. The church people are now all assured that their new pastor's wife is not ever going to become an Olympic caliber ring tosser.

However, they do know that she is an Olympic caliber eater of desserts.

I mean, everyone has to find their gift in life and practice it and I must say that in that area, I am highly accomplished and extremely skilled.

Ring tossing? Not so much.


If you'll look in the right column, you'll see a little survey that will take about 7 seconds of your time. I'm just curious as to how many readers who stop by here who have never commented.
And if you have commented? Even once? I'd love to know that, too.

Thanks so much for participating in the 7-second survey.

Later in the day: Another Smith Family Recipe Favorite.

Monday, November 2, 2009

A Video Reprised

I ran across this video that I posted about a year and a half ago on Sarah's Site. I changed it around a little but it still makes me smile whenever I watch it.

Humbled By A Smile

A few weeks ago I was driving down a side street in Smithfield, lost in my own little world. I was worrying about a few things, pondering a few things, and distracted by a few things. The feeling of being overwhelmed by the challenges of life was no doubt showing rather clearly on my countenance. (Despite the best efforts of Cover Girl!)

Coming toward me on the sidewalk was an elderly, poorly dressed African American gentleman who was carrying a small bag that looked like it might have contained all of his worldly possessions.

I checked out of my worried and overwhelmed mode just long enough to momentarily register him on my brain's radar and think, "Poor guy. He sure looks like he's had a tough life."

As I was looking over at him, I suddenly noticed that he was looking right back at me! Before I knew what was happening, he threw his hand up in an enthusiastic wave and then bestowed on me the biggest, brightest smile ever recorded in the history of smiles. The fact that his smile was missing a few teeth just made it shine all the dearer.

Although I was a bit taken aback by this unexepcted display of uninhibited friendliness, I managed to smile weakly and wave briefly before driving by.

But driving past him didn't succeed in removing him from my thoughts. I tried to put myself in his shoes as he saw me sailing past him in my modern, comfortable mini van, sipping a beverage, driving toward a warm house, contemplating sleeping in a safe, soft bed.

I could just imagine him getting a glimpse of my distracted, downcast countenance and saying to himself, "Now there is a lady needs some cheerin' up."

And so the man with few outward blessings took the time to raise a hand and a smile for a woman whose blessings are innumerable.

The blessed, crabby woman. The not-so-blessed cheerful man.

Yes, it is possible to be humbled by a smile.


The Question and Answer Spot

Q. Hi Becky -I am going to be driving through Manteo next Sunday on my way back to Raleigh-Durham (Carrboro) before I fly back to Salt Lake. Depending on what time my family decides to leave Hatteras I may make it to Manteo in time for church. I Question - what is dress for your church? I'm a PCUSA Presbyterian and we're pretty laid back, but I was Mormon for 1.5 years who are the opposite. -- Brooke

A. Brooke, it would be great to meet you! Church is at 10:30 am and you can wear whatever you're going to wear to travel in. Although Steve wears a sport coat and tie, the basic dress code is fairly casual.


And speaking of Manteo, here is a photo of me and my two fellas hanging out at our cottage on Saturday night.