Connie A Thompson

Snow Cream, Snow Memories, and Snowbound

Last week as the snow began to fall, I had the pleasure of spending the day with my grandson. I love watching him experience new things.

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As kids, we couldn’t wait for the snow to stop hoping that the big hill over by Converse College would be covered in ice. The Thompsons were the only ones fortunate enough to have an actual sled, a gift from my grandfather (one my mother thought we would never use). A group of teenagers brought an old car hood one time. They slid down the great hill and veered off the road and down into the creek below. There was a trip to the emergency room for stitches and a broken collar bone. We weren’t on the car hood.

My husband is from California and has never had snow cream. Of course I had to make him some. He loved it.

1897913_10203140895113621_1117318578_n4 cups snow

1 cup milk

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

With the past snow, I actually used 6 cups of snow.

I’ve had friends comment on their variations. Connie S. mixes her sugar with hot water and then lets the mixture cool. It gets rid of the gritty taste. My friend, Lisa likes to add cinnamon to hers.

Of course there is a great debate over the safety of eating snow. Hopefully a bowl a year won’t do any permanent damage. My mother always made us wait until the second snow. She claimed it was cleaner.

After three days of being snowbound, it seemed everyone in Spartanburg wanted out this weekend. We drove past the mall to a furniture store, a new bed is our Valentine’s present to one another, and we couldn’t believe all the traffic. It was worse than Christmas. We figured Saturday things would have calmed down some. We arrived at Longhorn for dinner at 5 p.m. only to be told the wait would be 1 1/2 hours. The food is good, but not good enough to wait that long. We’ll try again another week.

Sunday Dinner: Remembering 1976

 

March1976

Newspaper Clipping from March 1976

It was 1976, the year of the Bicentennial, our country would celebrate 200 years. It was also a year of nostalgia, of remembering the past. Each week we spent an evening watching Laura Ingalls scuffle with her arch nemesis, Nelly. Laura lived on a farm with her parents and two sisters. Their lives were glorified on television. I was ravenously going through the Little House books, although Little House on the Prairie would always remain my favorite.

At my elementary school that spring they had activities to give us modern kids an idea of what it was like to live in another time. I remember how amazed my classmates were and all I could think was that I heard these stories every week at my grandmother’s. Of course the stories usually took place before I was born and in my young mind that meant they were ancient.

holly-hobbie

My mother made bonnets so we could be like Mary and Laura. Holly Hobby pictures adorned the bedroom walls I shared with my sister, Dawn. One brunette, one blonde, just like us.

hollyhobby

As we celebrated the past, my teacher told how families would get together and have dinner every Sunday after church. For me, that wasn’t a story, it was a reality. I marveled how few of my classmates seemed to know their cousins. I saw most of mine every Sunday.

Each Sunday as I get up in the early morning to start dinner, I can’t help but think of my mother and grandmother. They did this too. It was a tradition they held tight to and I am thankful to be following in their footsteps.

This week we’re having pot roast, the simplest thing in the world to make. Put it in the crockpot, add some vegetables and seasonings, turn it on high and four hours later, you have dinner.

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Pot roast for Sunday Dinner

Delighting in Obedience

I wish I always had nice things to say about her, but she is so judgmental.

When I’ve succumbed to temptation, she knows. When I’ve spent days snacking on only carrot sticks, she doesn’t always seem to care. Her numbers don’t always reflect how well I’ve remained on plan, and sadly when I’ve temporarily lost my way, she always seems to know. She isn’t much of a friend at all. And she shouldn’t be. She isn’t a friend. She is a tool.

The scale can only measure how much you weigh. I’ve given her too much power. In the past, an increase has sent me to a binge. Staying the same has discouraged me. A loss has given me a false sense of security that results in an increase the next time.

scale

I still utilize the scale as the tool it is meant to be, but I no longer let it control my life. Before I step on, I ask myself:

Did I follow my plan? Did I exercise? Was I obedient?

If the answer is yes, I delight if the number has fallen. If the answer is yes, I don’t fret if the number remains the same or rises. I know I’ve done what I’m supposed to and the scale does not always immediately reflect that.

If I wasn’t obedient, then I understand the number. I forgive myself rather than carrying around the guilt. Today is a new day. Yesterday is gone. Rather than obsessing on what I should have done, I focus on today. Nutritious food, exercise, prayer, and meditation. Those are my tools, my helpers, my plan for success.

 

Review of Ariel Lawhon’s The Wife, The Maid, and the Mistress

wifemaidmistress1The Wife, The Maid, and the Mistress by Ariel Lawhon is the story of three women bound together through one man, Justice Joseph Crater. Stella is his wife, Ritzi the mistress, and Maria the maid. The story is revealed through each woman’s point of view.

One sultry night Joe Crater doesn’t return home. His wife knows of his infidelity and so does the maid. The mistress has her own secrets. The police are searching for the missing judge, who was known to frequent Club Abbey, a gathering spot for mobsters, showgirls, and corrupt politicians. Joe Crater had a taste for liquor, women, and prestige. Rumor has it his appointment as a judge came with a price rather than diligence and hard work.

Most of the narrative takes place in 1930 thru 1931. It begins and ends in Club Abbey in 1969 where all the secrets are revealed including just what happened to the honorable Joseph Crater, his wife, his mistress, and the maid.

Stella, the wife just wants a husband, who loves her and forsakes all others.

Ritzi wants to be a star on Broadway. The only way to get there is through Owney Madden, owner of Club Abbey and the man who can make things happen, although his assistance comes with a hefty price.

Maria is happily married to Jude Simon, a New York Police Detective. Maria has defied her Catholic father and married an agnostic. She works as a maid in the morning for the Crater’s and as a seamstress in the evening. More than anything Maria wants a baby, but at 32 she remains barren.

The novel begins with a little bit of intrigue, a hint of mystery and scandal that this simple meeting between acquaintances that once would have made the front page of the newspaper. Lawhon gives you a little taste and then plunges you back in time to before the mystery began, when Joe was just a husband coming home to his unhappy wife.

I couldn’t help but like these three women. I cheered them on. I cringed at their mistakes. I reveled in their bravery. I couldn’t put the book down.

I actually spent Saturday night reading a book while my sweet husband enjoyed one of those shows he loves. I woke up at four in the morning thinking about poor Ritzi. I couldn’t wait for the Sunday afternoon football pre-game so that I could return to the world of Stella, Ritzi, and Maria. I’m a reader not a sports fan, although I do love the Super Bowl commercials.

About the cover. I love the color, a beautiful coral color with gold stripes and thin black lettering. The black and white image is alluring. I’m drawn to the cover. I wanted to pick it up and see what the book is about. After reading, I wish the image on the cover was of three women rather than a single woman.

The Wife, The Maid, and the Mistress is the She Reads selection for February. Join us there all month where there will be interviews with the authors, reviews by bloggers, a twitter chat, and some great giveaways. If you’re new to She Reads be sure to sign up for their newsletter.

I gave the novel 5 stars on Good Reads.

 

 

 

 

 

Meatloaf Beaumont Village Style

IMG_0933Meatloaf has long been a family favorite. We often had it on Sundays at my maternal grandmother’s (we called her Grandmother) house, but for many years we had it every Monday evening at my paternal grandmother’s (we called her Grandma) house.

Connie, Grandma, Dawn

Connie, Grandma, Dawn

Grandma’s neighbor Mrs. Cook would make a pot of pinto beans every Monday for her. Grandma worked in the mill and didn’t have the hours devoted to cooking beans on the stove. Instead of the customary mashed potatoes, she would often make fried potatoes because that is what her four grandchildren coming to dinner loved. Grandma would also slice an onion and there might be another vegetable or two. Grandma always made the best cornbread.

Elizabeth, Grandmother, Ethan

Elizabeth, Grandmother, Ethan

Here is how you make a meatloaf in the Beaumont Mill Village style (both my grandmothers made it this way).

2 lbs. ground beef
1 small onion, chopped and diced (Grandma always diced it in larger pieces so that her picky grandkids would be able to pick it out easier).
2 eggs
2 slices of day old bread (grated or crumbled)
salt and pepper to taste
ketchup

You mix all this together with your fingers. It is cold and feels gross.
Once mixed, you put it in a loaf pan.
Bake at 350° for about 45 minutes. (You may have to drain the grease off a couple of times, depends on the fat content of the ground beef.)

Once it is cooked thoroughly, remove and add a thin layer of ketchup.
Return to the oven for about 5 minutes.

And then you will have a meatloaf Beaumont style.

Quietening the Lion’s Roar

file0001547755747Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:7-8 (NIV)

It seems cravings come out of no where. You’re going about your daily life, following the plan. You’ve exercised. You’ve been eating nutritiously. You’re proud of yourself. You reward yourself by sitting down to watch a little television, and there it is, a commercial for pizza or chocolate or maybe Doritos. You’re not hungry, but now you have a craving.

It starts as just a little flutter. You’ve emptied your cupboards and refrigerator of all trigger foods. You had a nutritious dinner, but it really wasn’t what you wanted. Growl. Now you’re ravenous. Food is calling to you. The pizza place is only a mile and a half away and even better they deliver. They also serve dessert pizza. Roar. Your fingers hover over the phone ready to place the order…

Cravings will eventually subside, but not until after they’ve growled and then roared. They follow you. It seems you cannot get away. Sometimes I wound up on the floor in my closet, praying with tears running down my face. And I gave myself permission to cray…(Made to Crave Pg. 30)

It’s tough to change your habits. It’s tough to give up the comfort of food. There are other ways to nurture ourselves. Through His word, we find solace, comfort, and encouragement.

I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. John 15:1-4 (NIV)

For me this is a time of pruning. It hurts. And like Lysa, I will get through this.

I wish I could say this was easy. It’s not. Yesterday, I was snowed in. Like most Southerners, I’m not accustomed to the snow and I didn’t plan on venturing out. I wanted chocolate. I read my Bible. I read Made to Crave. The only chocolate in my house was chocolate chips. My mind immediately thought of what I could do with those chips. I ignored it. I surfed the net and found myself on Pinterest. More ideas for chocolate chips. I shut my laptop. I drank water. I read a little more. I watched the clock waiting for 6pm, dinnertime and a planned nutritious dinner. I read my novel. The lion still roared, but after a while he grew tired and napped under a tree.

Yesterday was a victory. I followed my plan. It was tough, but I was determined to stay on track.

 

An Easy Sunday Dinner: Baked Ziti

BakedZitiMy grandmother would have never served pasta. I don’t ever remember her making it, but sometimes you just need and want to make something easy. So much goes into preparing Sunday dinner. Saturday I purchase the food. I usually prepare the dessert Saturday evening. Early Sunday morning I begin the prep work and then it is off to church. We go to the early service in order for me to return home and spend an hour and a half in the kitchen to finish the preparations. Sometimes I need a break, and making baked ziti is just that. My family gets a nice dinner, we have the opportunity to spend time with one another, and I don’t spend my morning in the kitchen.

Easy Baked Ziti

1 lb. of ground beef’

1 lb. box of ziti
1 jar bottled spaghetti sauce
2 cups mozzarella cheese

Brown ground beef. Drain oil off. Add bottled spaghetti sauce. Simmer.
Cook Ziti noodles according to package directions. Drain.

In casserole dish, put a light coating of sauce on the bottom of pan.
Add ziti noodles. Cover with pasta sauce and 1 cup of cheese. Blend together.
Top with remaining cheese.

Bake in oven at 350° for 35 minutes.

I usually make a large salad and of course lots of garlic bread.

 

Candy Heart Valentine Wreath

VW_Wreath copyI love making things with my hands. I’ve always thought of myself as a creative person. I also love wreaths. I live in a town home community where things look the same. I love the uniformity, but I also like to add a little creative flair.

As a child, I loved the candy hearts that came out at Valentine’s Day. My best friend and I would go through a box giggling when we got one that said I love you, Be Mine, or any endearment meant to be between a boy and girl. We still dreamed of that first boyfriend, first kiss, and relationships were defined by fairy tales.

I wanted to bring a little of that magic back this Valentine’s Day.

VW_suppliesI purchased a flat wreath form, white paint, ribbon, glue, clear finish, and candy hearts.

Paint the wreath form. You don’t have to do this, but you can see the form between the spaces of the hearts.

Add a bead of glue and apply hearts. I suggest before you actually begin with the glue that you arrange some first to get the best layout.

W_wreathNote the cutout on the wreath form. This is a perfect place for your ribbon to go through, leave space there.

Now you have to let this dry. Don’t be impatient. You should probably leave it overnight. Spray with the clear finish and again give it time to dry. (Why do I keep mentioning this, because I’m impatient.)  This will help preserve it and keep the ants away.

Add ribbon and hang.

I thought about putting the hearts down on the side without printing, but the message has always been part of the fun. Candy hearts have new messages: IM ME, BLING, TEXT ME, ILU, and BFF.

National Compliment Day

Today is National Compliment Day. Have you given anyone a compliment today? Has anyone complimented you today?

Thank you for stopping by. You look wonderful.

A compliment can make your day, and giving a compliment can be just as wonderful as receiving one.

IMG_0120Every morning my day begins with the sweetest words from my husband, “Good Morning Beautiful.” My hair is all over the place, my teeth need brushing, and yet my day begins with great promise.

As I child my mother taught us the rhyme, sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me. I always thought that was preposterous. Words do hurt.

Have you read Gary Chapman’s The Five Languages of Love? One of the love languages is words of affirmation. If this is your love language, compliments are a major part of the way you show and receive love.

It’s National Compliment Day, get out there and give some compliments today.

 

Empowered

Dictionary.com gives the definition of empower as to give power or authority to.

EmpoweredMy weight is a direct reflection of how I have empowered food in my life. When I was upset, I would eat. When I was happy, I would eat. When I was angry, I would eat. I would search the cupboards and refrigerator looking for something to feed my craving. My stomach would feel stuffed, but my soul still yearned to be filled. And then regret would overwhelm me with remorse for all those calories I had consumed.

If you weigh 160 pounds, it takes 20 minutes at 3 mph to burn 85 calories. The average bag of chips is about 220 calories. The average candy bar is about 240 calories. You’ll have to walk about an hour to negate a bag of chips or candy bar.

I have chosen to follow the Weight Watchers plan. I’m a picky eater and I don’t do well when I have to eat certain foods. This plan gives me the freedom to eat the foods I prefer. For me, forcing myself to eat foods I don’t care for only leads to binges. Do calories count if nobody sees you consume them? Just like a tree falling in the woods, it does make noise if nobody is around and calories do count.

It is hard when cravings come. What do you do when chocolate cake begins to call your name? You have to take the power away from the food. Pray for God’s guidance. Go to His word. Read Made to Crave. Cake will fill your stomach, but only God can nurture and fill your soul.