Unplanned Breakfast Guests

breakfast party

I had unplanned breakfast guests this morning. But let me back up and tell you the back story first….

Earlier this week, I got a call from Stephen, the youth pastor at my church, asking if I could provide breakfast for the three summer interns’ weekend retreat. I said sure — thinking that I’d drop off a carton of OJ and a giant box of donuts. So fast forward to this morning. I woke up around 6:30 and notice that Anthony is also just waking. I sleepily asked him if he thought donuts and juice are sufficient for the three interns and Stephen, and that I was going to drop it off at the church on my way to run errands this morning. Anthony said, “Stacey, they are coming here!” Wait…what?

So now it was around 6:40 a.m., I was still in bed, and just realized that I have four people coming to my house expecting a home-cooked breakfast in just over an hour. (I may have said a few choice words as I rushed to shower and get dressed.) I plotted out my menu in the shower.

Luckily I had everything that I needed except OJ and coffee creamer. I had two baked sweet potatoes in the frig — that became sweet potato muffins. I always have eggs, cheese and some sort of meat on hand — that became a ham and Swiss cheese quiche with a pepperoni crust. I had a bowl of fruit that was nearing it’s end of life — that became fruit salad. And finally I sliced up some Italian sausage and cooked it up in a hot skillet. Anthony ran to the grocery store for the orange juice and creamer.

breakfast

Success! Most all the food was eaten, and everyone seemed to enjoy it. My kids even helped load the dishwasher afterwards — bonus!

 

breakfast party

breakfast party

I feel like Superwoman right now. Guess I’ll tackle errands and laundry next.

Woolly Hollow State Park Camping Trip

Last weekend I took Maya camping for her first time. We joined a big group of our friends from church up at Woolly Hollow State Park which is just about an hour from our house. It was an amazing weekend of food, decease laughter and kids playing in the wild. Here are a few pics from the weekend.

Maya had such a blast — and not an electronic device in sight! Even if she did wear the same clothes for three days in a row, I don’t care — I count this a win. In fact, we loved it so much, I bought a big 8-person tent for the next time, so Anthony and the other girls can go too. These are precious memories in the making right here.IMG_4911

Pop Up Party

It was a random Wednesday and I had just gotten my Spain box from Try the World, this so I thought…

WHY NOT HAVE A PARTY!?!

IMG_2036The Try the World website explains the Spain box like this:

Curated by tapas expert Jamie Bissonnette, thumb this month’s box is filled with local and artisanal items from Spain that make it easy to share experiences with your friends and family. Using the items from the box, bulimics you can experience the vibrancy of Spanish culture right from the comfort of your own kitchen.

My sister-in-law Ines was born in Spain and is half Spanish, so I told her to come over. Then I just posted on social media an open invitation for my girlfriends to join us at my house in two hours. I ran by the grocery store to pick up a baguette and brie. Then I used the ingredients in my Spain box to make my spread.

I sliced the baguette into rounds and brushed it with the Spanish olive oil. On half of the bread rounds, I also added the tomato spread. That all went into the oven to toast up a bit.

Then I placed the almond torron candy, the little “Ines” cakes, and tuna on a plate. (I know, weird combo, but I was in a hurry.)

I topped the brie with the orange blossom jam, and surrounded it with the bread. The tomato-topped bread went on it’s own platter. I grabbed some napkins, little plates and glasses, and  bottle of red wine. My friends brought more wine because…it’s wine and you don’t want to run out. IMG_2039Besides Ines, three more girls came over. We ate, drank, laughed. Our kids joined in the fun too. My husband found a Spanish playlist online and hooked up the Bose speakers. It was a fiesta! And we ate ALL THE FOOD. IMG_2040IMG_2046I look forward to my next Try the World box and another “It’s a random weeknight, so let’s have a pop up party” party.

 

The First Supper Club

Hatchery Tasting BoxAfter reading For The Love by Jen Hatmaker, cure I wanted to start a supper club. Like Jen, I find cooking relaxing, and it’s rewarding to share a thoughtfully-prepared meal with people who will appreciate it. I emailed my friend Micaiah since I knew she was reading For The Love also. She immediately said yes to the idea, so we brainstormed a few other couples to join us. I purposely suggested three other couples that I want to get to know better, and Micaiah thought that was a good idea. Sometimes we get so caught up in our little circles, and it’s nice to branch out and build new friendships.

I volunteered to start us off and host the first supper club. The host does all the cooking. The guests bring the beer and wine. I pulled out my P. Allen Smith cookbook and picked four recipes — three of which were new to me.

I started with a lovely pear salad. It was easy and probably my favorite thing of the night. It had romaine, sliced pears, toasted pecans, blue cheese, and a apple cider & honey vinaigrette. I will make this again this week. I adore this salad.

For the main course, I made a roasted red pepper and prosciutto frittata and paired it with creamy Parmesan grits. I was spooked that the frittata would never cook through — it baked three or four times longer than the recipe called for. I think that it was because my cast iron skillet was too small, so the frittata was thicker than it needed to be. But thankfully, it turned out perfect and everyone enjoyed it. IMG_1856For dessert, I made two sweet potato pies. This was the one recipe that I had made before. It’s easy and delicious. IMG_1852Dinner conversation and wine flowed easily. We discussed how couples met, racial reconciliation and the church, careers and kids. One of our supper club couples couldn’t make it, but hopefully they will be there next month. Micaiah is hosting in November. She is a wonderful chef, so it should be wonderful. IMG_1857

 Hatchery Tasting Box

AWBU Recap

Last weekend I went to Arkansas Women Bloggers University (aka AWBU) in historic Hot Springs, anesthetist Arkansas. The conference was at the IMG_1120Arlington Hotel, vitamin a gem of an old hotel that stirs up my imagination of gangsters and cigars and ladies with boas. The nighttime entertainment and old people dancing made my heart smile.

But back to the conference… Unfortunately I missed Foodie Friday and the opening speaker on Friday night due to a family commitment. But Saturday and Sunday didn’t disappoint. IMG_1097The opening speaker on Saturday was Rhea Lana Riner of Rhea Lana’s consignment fame. She got started nearby in Conway, Arkansas, and now her consignment events are all across the nation. Her commitment to perseverance and following the Golden Rule has paid off.

One of my favorite things about AWBU and all the Arkansas Women Bloggers events is the friendships that I’ve made through this group. IMG_1094Jodi and Stacey

IMG_1092Sarah, Jacqueline and Stacey

I attended lots of educational sessions like Self-Editing for Bloggers by Suzy Taylor Oakley, Blogging as a Launching Pad for Social Media Work by Fawn Rechkemmer, Professional Writing by Angie Albright, a life-changing class on using Evernote for EVERYTHING by Bethany Stephens, Letting Go of Blog Envy by Stephanie Clinton from Oklahoma Women Bloggers, and Using Analytics to Drive Content by Elizabeth Michael.

IMG_1108After our Saturday sessions and before we dispersed for dinner, we “FED THE FUNNEL” with Pack Shack. My church Fellowship North did Pack Shack a while back, so I was super excited to do it again. Other ladies were a bit hesitant at first, but then once we got our instructions and the dance music started, we were a meal-packing machine! We packed over 10,000 meals in about an hour. IMG_1106
One of my favorite times of the weekend was dinner with a bunch of these ladies at Rolando’s on the back patio. The weather was perfect. A guy was playing guitar and singing in the background. Conversation was lively and honest. It’s truly amazing to find such a diverse group of women who can be transparent and exchange ideas with no judgment.

IMG_1111IMG_1117I had the flaming queso.

It was a fun-filled and inspiring weekend. I truly love being a part of this group of supportive and uber-talented women.

Many thanks go out to the AWBU sponsors for making this event possible: AWBUsponsors

P.S. Keisha Pittman is my new blogging BFF.

 

Arkansas Women Bloggers Ornament Swap

Today is reveal day on who our secret ornament swap person was. I sent my homemade ornament to Jeanetta Darley. photo 1(9)I made her a melted crayon in a glass ornament project that I found on (where else but) Pinterest. I love how it turned out looking like a globe. Sure hope it made it to her in one piece.

My secret ornament Santa was Jodi Coffee. She is such a sweetheart! She sent two ornaments — one little Christmas tree made from wine corks and one with a big V on it made from burlap. I love them both! Next time she needs to let me help her drink the wine, abortion so we have more corks (all for our crafts of course).

photo 2(13)

photo 1(12)Ornaments need not be expensive or fancy — just made with love. That’s what makes a Christmas tree extra special.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Oh to be young and thin again {flashback friday ramble}

I was clothes shopping after work today and moaning that I have to go up a size … again. I remember when I was a senior in high school and thought I was fat. OH TO BE THAT SIZE AGAIN! I wasn’t fat at all — I was 125 lbs with curves in all the right places. promNow my curves are in more places than are necessary.

Here is a photo taken of me and some friends before our senior prom. I’m in the white strapless dress on the far left. See, cost and I had super short hair then too, just blonde. My cutie date, Darren, is behind me. I was a senior and he was a sophomore (I always have liked younger men).

Oh well, I’m off to Helena for the weekend. It’s King Biscuit Blues Festival time, and I can’t wait. I’m gonna listen to moody bluesy music and eat BBQ and probably something fried. My husband likes my curves.

Foodie Friday Highlights

usnscomfort In 2007, page I spent five weeks on the USNS Comfort as a nurse officer with the US Public Health Service. USNS Comfort’s Partnership for the Americas humanitarian mission, sovaldi sale which began on June 15, website like this 2007, was a major component of the President Bush’s “Advancing the Cause of Social Justice in the Western Hemisphere” initiative. Comfort visited 12 Central American, South American and Caribbean nations where its embarked medical crew provided free health care services to communities in need. The missions objective was to offer valuable training to U.S. military personnel while promoting U.S. goodwill in the region. In all, the civilian and military medical team treated more than 98,000 patients, provided 386,000 patient encounters and performed 1,100 surgeries.

This photo is of me and another nurse along with the flight crew…the beautiful, beautiful flight crew.
Arkansas Women Bloggers Unplugged was this weekend at the tranquil Ferncliff Conference Center outside of Little Rock with about 100 women (and a few men) from across the state and surrounding areas to gather, visit this
share and learn — and and lots of fun. We started off on Friday with an optional half-day Foodie Friday event.

IMG_9789Greg from our sponsor Arkansas Farm Bureau started us off by emphasizing how farming is so incredibly important to Arkansas — about 10% of the state’s economy.

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Chef Donnie Ferneau is in the process of opening another restaurant in Little Rock — “the type of restaurant that LR doesn’t know it needs yet” and he’s cooking “whatever the hell I want” — what he thinks is healthy and what he wants right now. And organic whenever possible. Then he shared some chef tips including how to use a knife without losing a finger. Good to know.

IMG_9800Dr. Meenakshi Budhraja, a proponent for a vegetarian lifestyle, shared steps to healthier lives:
1. Eliminate beverages — only water.
2. Eliminate snacks — nobody needs them.
3. Start cooking at home.

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Kelly Brant, food editor from Arkansas Democrat-Gazette talked to us about copyright issues around recipe blogging. “Bloggers are a real writers. Don’t sell yourself short. But make sure your writing is fair and ethical and accurate.”

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Liz Bray, personal chef: “Make your calories count.” She showed us how to cook with a Fagor electric Multicooker/pressure cooker. Now I want one SO BAD.

Stephanie Parker from the blog Plain Chicken: “If you are going to blog as a business, you need to have a schedule and stick to it.” (Not sure where my photo of Stephanie disappeared to.)

Then we moved on to the Iron Chef competition. My team, unfortunately, was made up of a lot of non-cooks — we mostly just like to eat. But it was fun and our dish was edible, even if we came in last place.

IMG_9870The judges did. not. play.

IMG_9842Mimi San Pedro snapping pics of our entry.

IMG_9828My team

I blame Instagram.

It’s been an interesting, viagra approved roller-coastery week for me. Last Sunday morning, prosthetic I threw myself a little pity party because people are having fun without me. Damn Instagram. I know that people only post the good stuff, and that they have sucky days just like me — days full of laundry, balancing the checkbook, tears, and challenges with their kids. But I felt left out, unloved, alone. It’s silly, I know. But feelings are real when you are the one experiencing them.

Then Wednesday night while in De Queen for work, I heard about the drive-by shooting in North Little Rock. Anthony was at church just blocks away from the shooting site rehearsing for Sunday worship, and soon after 7 p.m. left with M in the carseat. They approached Walgreens and realized that he left his cell phone on the church piano. (Anthony almost never forgets his phone.) So they turned around and drove back to the church. By the time they returned, the road was closed. IMG_6329My heart aches for the family of this wife and mom. Her death was senseless, and I pray they find her murderer soon. There were also several break-ins near by parent’s house this week, and gunshots rang out last night. A man’s body was found a few days ago down on Pike. Another bank was robbed. Our city is in turmoil. I’m praying for this city that I love so much.

Then this weekend Anthony and I had the honor to join Domino Films for the making of a short film for the 48 Hour Film Project. The film is a dark comedy about falling in love when you know your days are numbered. Even though it wasn’t the initial intent of the writers, this film ended up having a powerful message. It’s not our looks, youth, or money that are important. All of our days are numbered, terminal illness or not. We should love and be loved — and make the most of each moment. Trailer: http://youtu.be/C394scARiIs

So damn you Instagram and your prissy cousin Pinterest. Life isn’t always pretty, organized and fun. I refuse to let you get me down. I’m gonna make the most of each messy, crazy, emotional day I’m given.