Monthly Archives: August 2009

Buttermilk Pie with a little help from Cowgirl Sue

There’s nothing more southern than dishes that use buttermilk. Buttermilk biscuits, buttermilk pancakes, buttermilk and corn bread … that’s right, buttermilk and cornbread. My grandparents (Nanny and PaPa) used to like buttermilk and cornbread (and sometimes sweet milk and cornbread) all mashed together in a glass or bowl and eaten with a spoon. Yuck. I’m not a fan myself, but I am a fan of my Nanny’s buttermilk pie. I just got off the phone from talking to her and she said she thought she should write a cookbook that features buttermilk recipes. I told her it was a great idea!

This is my favorite picture of my nanny. I think she looks pretty, but tough. That’s my PaPa holding the gate for her. This picture is appropriately labeled Cowgirl Sue on my computer.

Cowgirl Sue

I wasn’t a fan of buttermilk pie until I reached adulthood. When I was a kid I thought it was gross to be honest. Pie made out of buttermilk seemed strange to me. However, last Christmas Nate and I stayed with my Nanny and she served us a slice of buttermilk pie that I absolutely loved. She also uses the base for this buttermilk pie to make bread pudding. While I didn’t care for it as a child, I love it now.

I think it’s nice to find out as an adult that you like many of the things you didn’t like as a kid. In fact, Nate recently made mashed potatoes with turnips and we loved them after having a life-long hatred of turnips. On the other hand, that same night, we made macaroni and cheese from a box, which I adored as a child and would have eaten everyday of my youth. To be honest, it wasn’t all that good to me now. So, I guess it works both ways. Noting the fact that we liked the turnips, but no longer like the comfort food of our youth, Nate said: “I think you know you’re getting old when you prefer turnips in your potatoes to some Kraft mac and cheese.” He may be right!

Here are a few things I didn’t like when I was younger that I do like now:

  • Green Beans
  • Asparagus
  • Pork Roast
  • Bananas
  • Baked fish
  • Oatmeal
  • Chicken and Dumplings
  • Mayonnaise
  • Coffee
  • Cauliflower
  • Tamales
  • Meatloaf
  • Cabbage

I’m sure there are more things I can’t remember. I’m just glad to mature and find out that I do like Buttermilk Pie.  

By the way, when I called my grandmother for her recipe for Buttermilk Pie, she gave me the ingredients out of her head and then I adapted some other recipes to make a similar version. She and I agree this is pretty close to how she makes hers. I knew I wanted to add sugar and nutmeg to the top.  And, yes, I did use a store bought piecrust. Please don’t judge me. I’m a busy working woman.

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Please post a comment — what are some foods you like now, but didn’t like as a kid?

Recipe:

Ingredients

1/2 cup butter melted

1 1/2 cups sugar

3 tablespoons flour

3 eggs, beaten

1 pinch salt

1 teaspoon vanilla or ½ vanilla bean scraped

1 cup buttermilk

1 deep-dish pie shell (either your own recipe or store bought)

Directions

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Beat the butter and sugar together until light.

Add the eggs and beat; then beat in vanilla.

Add flour, salt and buttermilk and beat until smooth

Pour into a deep-dish pie shell

Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes; reduce heat to 350F and bake for 50-60 additional minutes. Pie should turn a nice golden brown and a knife inserted should come out clean. For extra flavor, sprinkle the top with 1 tablespoon of sugar mixed with ½ teaspoon of nutmeg for the last ten minutes of cooking time. If top gets too brown, simply tent with aluminum foil, just make sure the foil isn’t touching the pie.

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** Note: I sprinkled the sugar and nutmeg on mine right before I put it in the oven and then tented it about 30 minutes into the cooking time.

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I also used real vanilla bean for this recipe. You can see the dark flecks of vanilla. Yum.

 

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Baked Oatmeal

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I have a love/hate relationship with oatmeal. I often find myself saying I love it and hate it in the same sentence. See. I just did it again.

When I started seeing recipes for Baked Oatmeal online, I knew I had to try it. It’s now my favorite way to eat oatmeal. While this recipe has honey and some brown sugar, it feels healthier than the average dessert. I don’t really like sweet dishes for breakfast, so I usually end up eating this for dessert.

What I really like about this recipe is that you can literally adjust it to your own taste. If you like cinnamon, just add more. If you like bananas, just replace the applesauce with bananas. If you like fresh fruit, then add it to the mix. Raisins, chocolate chips, dates …. you get the point. You can really treat this dish like a bowl of oatmeal.

I don’t care for the “mushiness” of oatmeal. This dish has a chewy quality that I really like. Here’s my version.

Recipe:

Mix together dry ingredients:

2 cups of oats (I prefer the thicker cut oats)

¼ cup of 10-Grain Red Mill Hot Cereal Mix

1 teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

¼ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

¼ cup of brown sugar (add more if you want more sweetness)

½ cup of chopped nuts (I used walnuts)

 

Mix together wet ingredients:

1 large egg

¼ cup applesauce

¼ cup honey (can substitute maple syrup)

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 ¼ cup of milk

Save back ½ cup of nuts for the top.

Combine the dry ingredients and the wet ingredients and mix well. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray an 8X8 baking dish (I use a 9X9 because I like mine a little dryer and thinner) with nonstick cooking spray.

Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with chopped nuts. Bake an additional five minutes to toast the nuts on top.

 

This really is a small dollop of ice cream. I swear! Tiny.

This really is a small dollop of ice cream. I swear! Tiny.

 

Here’s the fun part. You can serve this with most anything! I like a tiny dollop of vanilla ice cream on top of mine. Nate prefers maple syrup on top of his. Strawberry jam or peanut butter would also be great!

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Down-Home Wedding and Dog-Tired Dip

Nate and I waved goodbye to city life this weekend and traveled to my small hometown for my uncle’s wedding. It was a quick overnight trip, but it was jam-packed!

We stayed with my good friends, Chock and Kelly. I can’t say much about them without getting teary-eyed and gushing on and on about how much I miss them. I know I chose to move to the big city, but sometimes I long to play cards with Kelly all night long. I miss the hustle and bustle of their busy household. I miss the country kitchen. I particularly miss this stove. It has so much Country Charm it even says it on the front!

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This was Nate’s first trip to visit Kelly and Chock. We had a great time telling stories and catching up, but the time flew by really fast. Kelly also had a big renovation project going on, so I plan to go back sometime and take some pictures of their log house and all their western decor. Here’s one from the bunkhouse. Chock and Kelly’s son Kolt is the rider on the big PBR poster on the left.

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As soon as we arrived on Saturday, Kelly started making Dog-Tired Dip. What’s really funny to me is that the name, DOG-TIRED DIP, really isn’t the name. Kelly wrote the recipe down on this cute little notepad. The paper said “Dog Tired” and she wrote the recipe right below.

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Her handwriting looks like the writing on the paper and so now it’s Dog-Tired Dip. It should have been called Dog-Gone Good Dip! It’s great.

Here’s the recipe:

8 ounces of Cream Cheese softened

1 Cup Sour Cream

1 Cup of Parmesan Cheese

1 Cup of Shredded Cheddar Cheese

2 Green Onions Chopped

1 Jar of Dried Beef Chopped

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Mix together all these ingredients. Add them to a hollowed out bread round and sprinkle with red pepper.  Bake on a sheet pan for 1 hour. Cover with foil and bake an additional 30 minutes. Serve with chips and crackers.

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Just as this came out of the oven, we had a few bites and then drove to the wedding. The wedding was beautiful. It was held on my Aunt Ann and Cousin Paula’s place just west of my hometown. They own what we always called the Old Watermill. The structure is gone now, but the scenery is just beautiful. The location was around ½ mile from the Watermill Baptist Church where the reception was held. It’s always great to see so many family members gathered in one place. The spotlight was on these two – Floyd and Sherry. 

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They are in love and it’s really nice to see such a perfectly suited couple. I wish them a long and happy life together.  Other than wanting to thump her on the head for being so skinny and pretty, it was a perfect wedding. I didn’t dwell on her tiny waistline; I just had cake for dinner and took a bunch of pictures instead. We also took a few shots at my Cousin Paula’s house. Check out those columns! The house is around 100 years old and it reminds me of a real southern plantation. 

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One thing I love about my hometown is this little angel – Izzy. She makes my heart melt.

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I also loved the fact that the preacher, Brother Bob, is great at performing marriage ceremonies.

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And, when the groom decides to serenade his beautiful bride, Brother Bob is great at backing him up on the fiddle.

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We finished the night off on a Quilt Tour, but I’m saving that for a blog of it’s own. I can tell you that Nate has been to my hometown many times and he still marvels that he continues to meet my family. He thinks I’ll run out of family members to introduce him to – I’m afraid he’s wrong. 

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Bunkhouse

I just had to post this photo from our trip this weekend for our friend WTokie. He recently posted a photo about Double Cola. I had never heard of it. This morning when Nate and I walked outside at Chock and Kelly’s (our hosts for the weekend) — we saw a sign for Double Cola on the front of their bunkhouse. — Happy Trails.DSC_0651

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Grilled Chicken of the Greek Persuasion

I’m not sure how you feel about grilled chicken, but let’s face it. Chicken is a blank canvas which is great, but too often the flavor is a little lackluster. Don’t get me wrong, I really like grilled chicken and I’ve rarely met a chicken wing I didn’t love.

In fact, I have a life-long love of chickens in general. It started when I was four and lived just up the hill from Carl Gene’s chicken houses. I loved to watch thousands of baby chicks moving together like a yellow sea, unaware they would soon be trucked off to Tyson or Pilgrim’s Pride. The smell was not so great, as I remember.

Then, a couple of years later, Carl Gene gave me a three-legged chicken to have as my very own. It ran away not long after and I searched for it for days and days. I was much older when I realized that my three-legged chicken probably died and my grandparents just didn’t want to tell me.

In college, my best girlfriends and I dubbed each other “The Chickens” thanks to our friend Monica. It’s a pet-name that is still going strong today! When Nate hears me say, “What’s up chicken?” he knows I’m talking to Lisa, Heather or Monica.
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You would think the Chicken stories would stop there, but no. After college I traveled all over Arkansas to rodeos with one of my best friends in the world. Her son had a comedy act called “The Dixie Chick” and, no lie, I couldn’t make this up if I tried … he would hypnotize a chicken! I dare you to look this up on YouTube. It’s real, my friends, and if you were at rodeos throughout Arkansas around 1998, you may have seen us. We were hard to miss … we were traveling with a horse, a dog, two chickens and partridge in a pear tree.

Getting back to the topic of grilled chicken… rarely is the flavor all that memorable to me. That is, until Nate started experimenting with recipes to make grilled chicken stand out. We love this recipe and recently served it at my birthday party. We promised to post the recipe for the guests.

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And, don’t even act like you didn’t go to YouTube and watch the hypnotized chickens.

Recipe

Marinade:
8 Cloves of garlic
¼ white onion
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon garam masala powder (this is a spice blend – if you can’t find it at your grocery store, you can substitute ½ teaspoon cumin and a pinch of cloves)
½ teasoon tumeric
juice and zest of one lime
½ cup olive oil

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Directions: Puree all these ingredients in a blender. Cut 2 lbs of boneless skinless chicken breasts into 1-inch chunks. Add the chicken and the marinade to a Ziplock bag and marinate overnight (or several hours) in the refrigerator. Thread the chicken pieces onto skewers and grill over medium high heat about 8 minutes per side or until cooked through.

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Basic Go-To Salsa

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Nate’s good friend Lokey requested we post a recipe for salsa. First, let me say that salsa is really like a signature. Everyone has his/her own way of doing it. My aunt puts a little ketchup in hers. Lindsey and Jesse add extra garlic. I like all kinds of salsa. I’m not too fond of those you find in the grocery store. However, salsas from Frontera Kitchens usually don’t let me down. Pace Picante Sauce reminds me of when I was a kid and we got those big ½ gallon jugs from Sam’s.

We have made a lot of salsa. We have also debated fresh tomatoes or canned tomatoes. I say tomato, you say tomato… Here’s our stance: If you have homegrown, really, really ripe tomatoes at your disposal – go for it! But if you are going to use grocery store tomatoes – use canned tomatoes instead. It may sound a little strange, but grocery store tomatoes don’t taste as good as canned tomatoes in salsa. That’s how we see it anyway.

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This is one of several recipes that we use. It is our basic, go-to salsa. We prepare ours in a food processor, but it can be done in a blender with similar results. We like to add the tomatoes last so we can control the consistency.

Recipe:

2 – 28 oz cans of whole tomatoes, drained

6 Scallions including tops (That’s green onions Lokey)

3 Whole pickled jalapenos (add more if you want it hotter)

1 Cup of fresh cilantro

2 Teaspoons of salt

1 Teaspoon of pepper

Juice and zest of one lime

Directions: Place all ingredients, except the tomatoes, in a food processor and pulse. When the onions and peppers are diced up well, add the tomatoes. Pulse to desired consistency.

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This salsa will keep in the refrigerator for only a couple of days, so eat up!

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Chicken Fried Steak (Comfort Food to the Max)

Health food nuts, please stop reading right here. Do not go any further as you are sure to be offended.

 After working long hours and weekends, Nate and I were sick of take-out and sandwiches. So, we decided to drown our woes in whisky. Oh wait, I meant to say Chicken Fried Steak. We really don’t have any whisky at all.

We very rarely have CFS because it’s not heart-healthy and it’s not easy to make. However, when you need comfort food, this is where you should turn.

My friend Lisa once went on a 12-state quest for the perfect chicken strip and even carried her own jar of honey in the back seat of her car. This was so her research would be accurate and have only one variable – the Chicken Strip. For the past few years, my husband Nate has been on a quest to create the perfect CFS recipe. He has done a lot of research in our home kitchen and he has enjoyed every single bite.  I would say he’s hit pay-dirt with this recipe, but there are a lot of details in it.

This is not a short-cut recipe. In fact, Nate uses sirloin steaks, which he cuts in half and tenderizes by hand. He uses a fork to tenderize the steak first – a technique that Alton Brown used on his Food Network show, Good Eats. He then tenderizes the steak with a Coke bottle the way his Grandma Bertha did when he was growing up. This time we didn’t have a Coke bottle, so we used a beer bottle and I’m pretty sure that Grandma Bertha would not have approved of that. This double method makes them fork-tender every time.

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He is also very patient and cooks them one at a time in a pan of hot oil. I would probably crowd the pan in an effort to finish early and watch terrible reality television. Nate, on the other hand, has patience and doesn’t care one bit about those Real Housewives of Atlanta. I would have also bought those steaks at the grocery store that were already tenderized and saved myself a lot of heartache. I’m just sayin’…

One of our pet-peeves when reading recipe reviews is this: “I didn’t have smoked gouda, so I used Velveeta cheese instead. I give it one star. “  That being said, Nate believes that it’s very important to follow the recipe exactly; however, there is a teaspoon of MSG in this recipe. We don’t cook with it very often, so we don’t worry about it much. Please leave it out if you like, but the flavor will suffer some.

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Recipe:

To prepare the steak:

Use 2 pounds of sirloin steak, trimmed of all visible fat and pounded to a 3/8 ‘s inch thickness.

Use a fork to pierce the meat repeatedly until your arm feels like it’s going to fall off or the meat is looking a little worse for wear.

Choose your favorite beverage that comes in a glass bottle – we won’t judge you if it’s a beer – use the open end to tenderize the meat until it feels like it may fall apart.

After tenderizing the meat, we use a dry rub on it. By seasoning the meat, instead of seasoning the flour, you get a lot more flavor. Here’s the dry rub we use:

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon paprika

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 tablespoon thyme

1 tablespoon salt

1 tablespoon pepper

1 teaspoon MSG


Egg Wash

1 ½ cups buttermilk

1 egg

2 tablespoon hot sauce

2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon salt

 

Flour for dredging

4 cups all-purpose flour (if you have left over dry rub after seasoning the meat, you can add it to the flour if you want)

Dip the seasoned steaks into the flour and then the egg wash and then back into the flour. Transfer each to a baking sheet covered in wax paper and let rest for ten minutes. The resting period is crucial because it helps the crust adhere to the meat. Bring ½ inch of Canola oil up to a medium high heat. Cook each steak individually for five minutes, flip and then cook an additional three minutes. Temperatures vary on different stoves, so you may have to adjust the heat or cooking time – just look for a golden brown crust.

Serve with mashed potatoes and sawmill gravy. Try adding a few turnips to your mashed potatoes for a little more flavor. After eating, walk 12 miles on the treadmill and repent.

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My Mix Master

I read a recent post from earlyriser about music. Then I read a post from the Big Mama Blog about how the radio could see right into her soul. Then I sat and thought for 12 hours straight about sad country songs. Then I started Walkin’ the Floor Over You and was terribly upset that I’ll Never Get Out of this World Alive. Okay, that’s enough. I know when to stop.

My long and rambling question to myself ended up being this: If I had to drive from my home in central Oklahoma to California without a radio or Ipod; and I could only have one mixed cd, what songs would I put on it?

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Oh dear … I usually pack hundreds of cd’s for a short road trip. I usually scan the radio for hours. I skip recklessly through songs only stopping for those that catch my ear. I’ve lived in the radio-land-of-plenty and I hate this question!

I’ve also had some experience. I once drove from Southeastern Oklahoma to Gillette, Wyoming with my five cousins to the National High School Rodeo Finals. We were on a limited budget and we only had one cassette tape. It was Toby Keith’s first album. That was almost 15 years ago and to this day, I get chills when I hear these words, “I bet you’ve never heard ole Marshal Dillon say Ms. Kitty have you ever thought of running away…” The chills I’m talking about are those from being trapped with the wrong cd for 1200 miles. I still have a little admiration for my cousin David who calmly rolled down the window and threw out that cassette somewhere near the Kansas/Colorado line on our way back home. Not one of us said a word. I think we were all a little upset we hadn’t done it earlier.

So, if given the choice, what songs would I choose? First, I need to be realistic. While many cd’s hold 18-20 songs, I’m going to keep it real at 15. Be prepared. Remember … I’m a little bit country with a splash of 80’s hair band with some MJ and the artist I’ve always known as Prince. I’m taking a deep breath. I think I can do this …

In no particular order and based solely on my mood and taste right this very moment:

  1. Billie Jean by Michael Jackson
  2. Dreadful Selfish Crime by Robert Earl Keen
  3. Dublin Blues by Guy Clark
  4. Bluebird Wine by Rodney Crowell
  5. Soulshine by Gov’t Mule
  6. Long Ride Home by Patty Griffin
  7. The Way I Am by Merle Haggard
  8. Blue Bayou by Linda Ronstadt
  9. Faith by George Michael
  10. Rex’s Blues by Townes Van Zandt
  11. No Time to Cry by Iris Dement
  12. Beauty Way by Eliza Gilkyson
  13. Lavender Blue by Keith Sykes
  14. Return of the Grievous Angel by Gram Parson
  15. Walk the Line by Johnny Cash

    That just took a lot out of me.

    Angee is going to beat me up because there isn’t one single Ryan Adams song on my mix. There’s no Hank, Sr., there’s no Wilco, there’s no George Straight, there’s no Prince, there’s no Dolly, there’s no Bon Jovi…! Oh dear. I’ve gotta start all over.  Actually, I think my mix is going to be a box set!

    If you could only have one mixed cd, what songs would you put on it?

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    Why I stayed up too late

    I didn’t put on makeup today.

    I didn’t fix my hair.

    I didn’t do much of anything.

     I’m going to blame it all on Post-birthday, Gin and Tonic, Sleep Deprived, Sugar Overload Syndrome. Putting it simply, I had a birthday party last night and I stayed up too late. There were numerous cocktails poured last evening, but I managed to slip under the radar by having only two over the course of the night. I indulged by having many glasses of iced tea.

     The party was somewhat last minute and we didn’t work on the guest list much. However, we did have some great friends come and the food was great. Nate made Greek food and it was delicious. I will be posting a few of the recipes later at the request of several guests. My two main gals came last night – Keely Sue and Angee! Even Angee’s hubby Matt was able to come! We’ve all discussed that posting “bad” pictures of each other on our blogs isn’t acceptable behavior, so I will be editing to show the very best face of each. We thought about signing contracts, but decided a simple “code of conduct” should keep us in line. According to the treaty, if Keely doesn’t approve of this next photo of her, I will have to remove it or face consequences.

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    The highlight of my entire night had to be the thoughtfulness of Angee. Earlier this year, I was looking at old family photos with my cousins Lindsey and Le’Erin and we came across several photos of me through the years with my birthday cakes. Several of them were chocolate with M&M’s on the top. Lindsey made a comment to this effect: “You poor, poor thing. You only got a cake with some M&M’s on top of it?” She really cut deep. I mean, I love chocolate and M&M’s. I thought my grandmother made me those cakes because she loved me, not because it was easy. Besides, Lindsey was spoiled with her professionally decorated, fancy cakes!

    Angee heard about this exchange and we had a big laugh. Yesterday, she showed up with this cake! What a doll! And, I know that Angee made me this cake because, just like my grandmother, she loves me! Lindsey, if you are reading this, I think you should show your kiddos you really, really love them and make a chocolate cake with M&M’s on top! :-)

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     Here’s my cake when I was six!

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    I was also completely blessed by so many great gifts. I decided to photograph them together to post for everyone to see.

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    One gift was a mix CD of music from Keely. A mixed cd is the ultimate gift among my friends. It’s so personal and thoughtful. Keely’s mixes are especially good. It’s her mixes that sometimes have me driving along singing at the top of my lungs, “You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have the facts of life, the facts of life.” Today’s cd did not disappoint! While running errands today, I was excited to hear, “Islands in the Stream.”

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    Have you ever seen one of these? I hadn’t. Angee’s dad is an amazing woodworker and she had him make this. I love how simple it is!

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    I was also happy that Precious Roy came to the party. We discussed his many nicknames and I tried to capture the coolness of Roy in these sunglasses. I’m not sure a photo can do him justice. Let’s just say that “Chopper” is a great friend and we were so glad to see him!

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    We ended the night with a few tunes from Lisa Curl and Nate. I’m wondering if Lisa will continue to play my parties for free food. I sure hope so! Thanks everyone for all the birthday wishes and remember – A diplomat is a man who always remembers and woman’s birthday but never remembers her age – Robert Frost.

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    New lens

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    So Nate ordered me some photography goodies for my birthday. He’s dangerous on Amazon. He chose a 70-300 zoom/macro lens and I’m just now getting to play with it. I still need lots of practice, but I’m getting the hang of it. It will allow me to get very close to things like one of Nate’s flowers above and these banana peppers out in the garden

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    Or these jalapenos that Nate was cutting up last night.

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    If you feel the need to get up close and personal with a coke bottle, here’s your chance.

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    Here’s the first picture I took with it! Ooops … 

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    Let’s hope I continue to improve. Either way, thanks sweet Nate for the photo goodies!

    If you are visiting me over the next few weeks, I will try not to post close-ups of your blemishes or peeling nail polish. It will be hard not to post them to show off my new macro lens skills, but I will try. Promise.

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