What joy the gospel gives me. I can approach the throne of God with confidence, not because I've done a good job at my spiritual duties, but because I'm clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. ~ C.J. Mahaney

Monday Morning Musings


I wonder if, like me, you have a long list of "to-do's" for this Monday morning.  Honestly, I have a bunch of things I want to get done today, but the biggest thing is finishing this smocked dress.  I'd hoped to have it packaged up and off to its tiny little recipient by now.  Alas, sunshine, blue skies, the beach, books, being lazy, i.e., life has kept me from staying on task with this one.  So, today's the day.  I'm determined!


Breakfast this morning was toasted cinnamon swirl bread and tea.  If you've never tried Wal-Mart's cinnamon swirl bread, you should!  We think it's delicious, almost like eating cake for breakfast.  Today mine was served up on what I think is the prettiest plate I own.  My heart just swoons over this pattern.


Oh, I wanted to tell you about our sad little mishap this morning.  Well, let me back up.  Yesterday, when I walked out onto my front porch to give it a sweep, I noticed all sorts of trashy mess on on the ground....twigs, leaves, moss, straw, etc.   It didn't take much sleuthing to locate the beginnings a nest in the wreath on our door.  So, I took down the wreath and pulled out the start of a happy home.  Heartless, I admit it.  But if you've ever had a nest of birdies on your front door for four weeks, you know what I'm talking about.  We have.  And they make such a mess.  The momentary twinge of quilt quickly passed; I knew she could find a more suitable location.

This morning I walk out the front door again, this time to cut some tiny roses that are exploding on one of my little bushes.  Hmmm, more leaves and twigs on the freshly swept porch.  Little Miss Sparrow is quite determined, it appears.  Without a thought I yank off the wreath from the hook when, splat!  a tiny speckled egg drops to the porch and, well, let's just say, it doesn't survive.


If I'd looked in the nest and noticed the egg, she would have won.  I'm that much of a wimp.

Poor Little Sparrow.  Her nest is gone again, and hopefully, this time, she will take the hint.  In the mean time, the girls studied the broken shell and promptly pulled out the field guides to identify its owner.

The girls and I are going to get some school done.  I'm going to finish this little dress.  And Bella is going to accomplish the one thing on her agenda:  soak up as much sun as she possibly can.


Have a beautiful Monday!


Mrs. Ronald Reagan's Macaroni and Cheese Casserole


Here is a recipe I've been meaning to share for a long time.  In the early 1980's, I came across this delicious baked macaroni and cheese casserole in a cookbook of recipes from famous first ladies.  Apparently, Nancy Reagan and I share the same affinity for a hearty, cheesy, custardy helping of pasta. This is our all-time favorite macaroni and cheese recipe.

Obviously, this one is going to take a little more effort than just boiling the pasta and dumping in a prepackaged sauce.  But the results are definitely worth the extra energy.  To me, the secret ingredient is the dry mustard.  It adds a slightly undefinable flavor, nothing overpowering, just a pleasingly subtle zing not found in most macaroni and cheese dishes.  I love to mix this up and bake it while we have chicken sizzling on the grill.  Somehow, the two just go perfectly together.  These two, served with baked beans, comprise our family's favorite meal.


Assemble the players.


Start the pasta boiling.


Dump in all the yumminess.


This one calls for your prettiest casserole.


Summon your clan and enjoy a true classic.

Mrs. Ronald Reagan's Macaroni and Cheese Casserole

  • 1/2 lb. macaroni
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup milk
In a large saucepan, cook macaroni in boiling water until just tender.  Drain.  Stir in butter.  Mix dry mustard and salt with 1 tablespoon of water and stir into macaroni.  Mix beaten egg with milk and pour over macaroni.  Stir in grated cheddar cheese.  Pour into a greased casserole dish and bake at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes or until custard is set and the top is slightly browned.

Remember: Kids who dine with the folks are healthier, happier and better students. 

So, enjoy a meal around the table with your family tonight!



Heart-Shaped Scones


What could be more lovely than breakfast served outside on a cool, spring morning?  My littlest assistant and I were up with the birds, preparing these heart-shaped scones and tea as a wake-up surprise for all the sleepy heads in the house.


These scones are just perfect!  The dough is soft and slightly sweet, and they bake up fluffy and delicate.  Handling the dough as little as possible, roll out gently and cut into pretty shapes.  Bake at 425 degrees until just set and very lightly browned on the edges.  You don't want these to over bake.

Our accompaniments of choice?  Devonshire Cream and strawberry jam.  Marvelous!


Heart-Shaped Scones

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sal
  • 1/2 cup butter, chilled
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup milk
Mix the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl.  Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or fork until crumbly.  Stir in the sugar.  Add the milk, stirring with a fork until a soft dough forms.  Shape into a ball.  Knead on a lightly floured surface 10-12 times.  Roll and cut with a heart-shaped cookie cutter.  Arrange on an ungreased baking sheet.  Bake at 425 degrees for 12 minutes.  Remove to a wire rack to cool.  Arrange on a serving platter.  Serve with Devonshire Cream and your favorite jam in small crystal bowls.  

(Devonshire Cream-  Mix 1/2 cup sour cream with 1 tablespoon sugar.)


Treasure this day, and the ones you love, as the gifts that they are.


Chocolate Chess Pie (or: Quite Possibly My Longest Post Ever)


There is a story behind this pie.  A long one.  I'm just going to warn you right up front: if you only want the recipe for a delicious pie, you're gonna want to just scroll on down to the bottom past all this rambling....

You see, what started all this was a new bowl.  I found this incredibly lovely kelly green vintage Pyrex bowl at my local Goodwill the other day.  Actually, truth be told, what I found first was the little baby brother to this bowl, the beautiful blue Pyrex mixing bowl, the smallest of the original set.  My heart leaped for joy.  No lie.  I flipped it over and saw the price....50 cents.  Glory hallelujah, it was my lucky day!  Imagine my glee at spotting the kelly green bowl a couple seconds later.  There are no words.  I was in love. 

I'd actually seen a set of these, the primary red, yellow, green, and blue circa-1950 Pyrex mixing bowl set at an antique store last summer.  I was smitten, but I wasn't prepared for the $45 price tag.  Not a terrible price, but the bowls were pretty faded, and I thought I could do better.  So that sent me on a Google adventure, searching online for a set of these vintage bowls.  I found what I was looking for on eBay for $60 in pristine condition.  I knew I might have to wait a while, but I decided then and there that I would one day own a set of these beauties.

Back to the Goodwill.  I purchased the two bowls for a total of $3.  Not the whole set unfortunately, though Lacy and I looked high and low to see if the other two bowls were hiding somewhere.
Then comes the part about the rolling pin.   I have realized just how difficult it is to explain my odd love for old kitchen tools.  My darling husband gets nuclear engineering.  And golf.  And Galatians.  But he has no comprehension whatsoever of this weird vintage kitchen cookware fascination that overwhelms me.  He just smiles and nods.  Smiles and nods.  And says things like, "Women sure get excited about the strangest things."

OK.  Confession time.

I've wanted a vintage rolling pin for as long as I can remember.  I've had a plastic Tupperware rolling pin for my entire married life.  It has served its purpose, but there is absolutely no thrill in using it.  Plastic rolling pins are light and wimpy.  They certainly don't conjure up images of Grandma, donning her apron, working in the kitchen with sweat on her brow.  I dreamed of a rolling pin like my mother's.  Hers is wooden, well-seasoned, with red handles worn from years of use.  I mentioned to Tom that I wanted an old rolling pin and he very matter-of-factly stated, "Just go buy one."

That's true love. 

So I wasted no time.  I found what I was looking for yesterday at the antique mall downtown.  I had to cull through a whole bucket of them to find exactly the one that met my specs.  Seasoned wood, worn handles.  Old. Simple. Unpretentious.

That brings me to the pie.


I didn't set out to bake a chocolate pie.  I realize you probably don't believe that last statement came out of my mouth; but, I kid you not.  I was planning to bake an Orange Chess Pie, about as old-timey as it gets.  A Chess Pie is just so old-fashioned and so Southern, it makes my heart sing to hear the name of it.  A Grandma recipe.

I prepared the crust and was gathering the ingredients for the filling when I ran into a very slight hitch.  There was nary an orange in the house. What I thought were oranges in my refrigerator's fruit bin were, in fact, tangerines.  And while Tangerine Chess Pie may be the newest pie craze just waiting to be unleashed, it wasn't a culinary risk I was willing to take at the time.  Nor was it something Grandma would have made.

That left me with basically two choices.  I could make a custard pie.  Definitely comforting and old-timey.  But I recently made a custard pie.  I wanted to try something different.  So Chocolate Chess Pie it was.

Friends, it was Deee-li-cious!!  Grandma would have approved!

And that is what I call making a short story long.





Chocolate Chess Pie

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 tablespoons baking cocoa
  • 5 oz. evaporated milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 unbaked pie shell
Combine the ingredients and mix well.  Pour into the pie shell.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until firm.  Cool before serving.


Free to good home:  One plastic Tupperware rolling pin.




If there are any flowers I like nearly as much as roses, they would have to be lilacs.  In our yard there is just one lilac bush, and it struggles to provide us with these beautiful and aromatic blooms.  Probably it doesn't receive enough sunlight, or fertilizer, or something, because we're doing good to get a couple little bunches of tiny flowers. 

Their scent is just heavenly.  Too bad this isn't a scratch and sniff screen so you could enjoy them with me!  Glory!  A few days, and they'll be gone.  It's probably just a tad warm for lilacs here in sunny, South Carolina.

See that yellow powder on the leaves?   No exaggeration, here.  EVERY thing in our yard is fairly covered in fine yellow pine pollen.  NO thing....plant, animal or man, escapes wearing this yellow blanket of dust every spring.  Thankfully it only lasts about a week.  And a good spring rain, which we are expecting this evening, should wash it all away for another 51 weeks, or so.

Oh!  The dainty smocked baby dress is coming along nicely.  I thought I'd give you a sneak peek since I keep mentioning it.  I snapped this picture right after I finished pleating it.  I've made a lot of progress since this was taken.  Another few rows of smocking, a neckband, placket, and hem are all this lacks now.  I'd been working on this outside in the sunshine, until the heavy pollen drove me inside to finish.  Don't want this covered in yellow powder.


So, what are you doing on these warm, Spring days?


And The Winners Are...


I drew for the wreath winners this afternoon.

The winners are.....


Melissa Ouzts-- You won the rag wreath with birdie!


and Kathryn Tucker.  You won the crocheted flower wreath.

Thanks to everyone who played along with my little game.

I hope you are ALL enjoying this incredibly beautiful springtime weather!  I sure am!

Well, my little grand-niece was born the other night.  Welcome to Lacey Ann!  (I've decided it's very odd that we skip "grand" and go straight to "great" when it comes to aunties.  And the rebel in me doesn't feel old enough to be a "great" anything to anyone yet.  So I'm officially declaring myself a "grand aunt.")  I'm finishing up Lacey's little smocked dress and I'll post pics of that in the next few days.

Have a glorious Easter weekend, worshiping our Risen Savior!