2013–Her

I have a love/hate relationship with resolutions.  I adore making goals {for myself and others}, but resolutions tend to be abysmal.

Lose weight.

Lose weight.

Lose weight.

It’s all in an effort to care for oneself, but losing weight is never fun.  It’s rude to discuss at dinner parties.  It’s an inconvenience to almost everyone.

I’m not vowing to lose any weight this year.

Instead, I’m going to focus on resolutions that care for my spirit.  In today’s fast-paced American society, it is nearly impossible to stop for a deep breath or a spot of tea.  In 2013, I plan to change that.  Here are my goals:

1.  Have a proper tea time at least once a week.

I already consume copious amounts of tea throughout the day, but it’s typically out of a tacky brown soup mug at my desk while I sort through piles of paperwork.  No more.  At least once a week I’m going to have a proper tea time.  I’m going to use my actual teapot and my real teacups.  I’ll have something sweet {chocolate biscuits, shortbread cookies} and something savory {a hunk of Roquefort with crackers}.  I will take the time to brew myself a proper tea and set a proper table.  My husband does not drink tea, but I’m fairly certain I can ply him with a pot of pressed coffee.  I want this ritual each week not because I’m stuffy, but because it brings me peace and makes me feel civil after a long day of public education.

2.  Eat in the dining room.

Josh and I are simply terrible about eating in front of our television.  We scarf down something hot, drink out of plastic tumblers, and then ditch our bowls on the coffee table and channel surf until bedtime.  It’s an empty satisfaction and it certainly does not stimulate conversation.  In 2013, I want to eat in my dining room.  I want to use real napkins, real glasses, and switch of the television in favor of something on the Crosley.  It’s a simple desire, but it will certainly cultivate communication and make me feel like a real human being.

3.  No Technology Thursday

I often complain that I do not have enough time for reading.  I am a reader by design.  I taught myself to read before entering preschool {aged 4} and I cannot imagine life without my dear friends, characters that have shaped me into the adult I am today.  Who would I be without Anne Shirley, Jo March, Jane Eyre, or Scarlett O’Hara?  What kind of man would I have married if I’d not had the gentle prodding of Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gilbert Blythe, Captain Butler, or even Mr. Rochester?  I shudder to even think of such a world.  2012 has been the year without books.  I claimed that I hadn’t the time for reading, but I was lying to myself.  I had plenty of time for New Girl, The Walking Dead, Mad Men, and Game of Thrones.  In 2013, I’ll be switching off the telly on Thursdays.  I won’t be opening up my laptop.  I will not use my iPhone for Angry Birds, Facebook, or even {gasp} Instagram.  No, on Thursdays, I will embrace my old, dear friends by cracking open a book and reading all evening.  We both received a ton of books for Christmas, so I know we’ll have plenty to read.

4.  Correspond more.

I adore receiving correspondance, but I’m terrible about sending it.  I plan to change that in 2013.  I’d love to write more to Elisabeth and Grayson while they are away at Lee.  I’d also love to write more to friends, even if it’s just a little note.  It’s just a tiny bit of civility in a world of text messaging and email.

5.  Adhere to a housekeeping schedule.

I have a sweet little chore chart that has been firmly affixed to my refrigerator since last January.  Of course, I’ve never used it.  I abhor cleaning house and I typically wait until I have guests coming in before I furiously scrub my baseboards and dust the cabinets.  I hate housecleaning, but I hate rushing about even more.  2013 is going to be the year of personal excellence–the year where I defy the mediocrity that some many fall into.  In a push to better myself and my home, I’m going to take a second glance at that chore chart and actually adhere to the minuscule daily tasks.  I’m certain it will take me less than 15 minutes each day which is much better than four hours on a Saturday afternoon.  I’m at my best when my home is neat and tidy.  This is the year to develop good housekeeping habits.

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Book Review: All You Need to be Impossibly French

Throughout my life, I’ve had a fascination with the French.  It was a fascination elevated by my mother {who reveled in explaining French customs & phrases} and spurned by my father {who often insists that he does not detest the French, just socialism}.  My father’s distaste for the French way of life did not deter this fascination–once in the fourth grade I checked out a giant biography of Marie Antoinette from the public library.  When the librarian hesitated, “There are lots of French words in there, dear,” I flippantly replied that my mama would help me with any difficulties I encountered, but I probably wouldn’t have any trouble.

Have I ever mentioned that I was quite fille précoce?  My father called me a pistol and I’m sure my mother {bless her heart} just rolled her eyes.

Perhaps the thing that most fascinated me about the French culture was not the food or the wine or the perfume:  it was the women.  It took Julia Child years to adjust to the women in France.  Even as a young child I knew that ladies from France were quite fashionable and terribly chic.  I adored Sabrina and Funny Face, not because Audrey Hepburn was utter perfection in both films, but because the women roaming in the backgrounds were French and therefore, perfect.

It was a natural fit to add Helena Frith Powell’s cheeky look at the allure of the French woman to my Christmas list.  My mother delighted in gifting me the manual and I completed it from start to finish in two days.  Here are the main lessons that I walked away with:

1.  French women adore maximum effect for minimum effort.  Staying thin is essential to women in France, but they detest exercising and dieting.  Minimum effort {small portions of rich food in restaurants, only dieting in the privacy of their kitchens, exercises to produce lean muscles} for maximum effect {thin, supple, lean bodies which are perfect for draping the latest fashions}.

2.  French women only wear tennis shoes if they are exercising.  They do not wear tennis shoes with jeans, they do not wear tennis shoes to work, and they certainly don’t wear tennis shoes around the house.

3.  French women do not wear lounge clothes at home {or out in public}.

4.  French women feel that your underwear is just as important as your outerwear.

5.  French mothers are fanatical about the health of their children, but they refuse to breastfeed.

While there are many other lessons to be gleaned from the witty prose, as an American and a southern woman, the five targets listed above were the most pertinent to me.

1.  I tend to agree with the French on this one.  I hate dieting and exercise, but I’m forced to watch what I eat and partake in cardio exercises because I’m quite petite.  I recently began using ballet as a means of exercise–ten minutes a day and my muscles are screaming {and quite lithe and lean}.  I’ll take ten minutes of Debussy and stretching over miles of sweat any day.

2.  I only own one pair of tennis shoes and I rarely wear them, however, I am quite guilty of schlepping about in my Chacos with no regard for the outfit I’m wearing.  My Chacos are not any more comfortable than my patent leather flats, so I’ve no excuse for my laziness.

3.  In the land of the South, sororities and fraternities reign supreme.  The current fashion du jour of sorority girls is quite lazy:  Nike shorts, oversized t-shirts, and Uggs or tennis shoes.  While I’m not guilty of falling into that particular trap, I’m quite bad about wearing yoga pants or tights with oversized shirts or sweaters out in public.  It drives my mother crazy which is partially why I do it {again,  fille précoce}, but I also dress down because I’m lazy.

4.  My underwear drawer would make French women grimace.  I have a tendency to make do with whatever is leftover from high school and college, because treating myself to underwear seems frivolous.  Powell makes a good point:  when your underthings are nice, you don’t want to cover them up with lazy things like Nike shorts and t-shirts.  While I do not have the means to deck myself out in French lingerie, I plan to make some investments in the panty & bra department by throwing out anything more than five years old, getting rid of Victoria’s Secret Underwear with words written across the bum, and burning any bras with protruding underwires.  It’s a start!

*Mother & Daddy, I’m terribly sorry for discussing underwear in such a public forum.  

5.  While I agree with the way French parents raise their children, it blows my mind that as a whole, French women are decidedly against breastfeeding.  Powell describes French mothers as almost the European answer to China’s Tiger Mother.  With the slightest rustle of leaves, babies are wrapped up in several layers and children never eat things like chips or the dreaded chicken nugget.  Powell described one mother who cooked three separate dinners for each of her children, a meal to suit each child’s tastebuds!  It seems ludicrous that a woman would choose vanity over health, but I suppose it’s the differences in our cultures that make the world go ’round.

While I would certainly never take all of the cheeky advice given by Powell, I plan to apply the lessons listed above.  Just this morning I pulled on a nice pair of jeans, a chunky sweater, earrings, wellies {it’s raining in Raleigh}, and a scarf for brunch.  My natural inclination was to reach for tights and my husband’s baggy Atlanta Hawks t-shirt, but I fought the urge, put on a bit of blush & mascara, and smarted my hair up with a topknot and bobby pins.  It took me all of ten minutes to get ready this morning, and I found I was able to fully relax at brunch because I wasn’t self-conscious about my appearance.  It was a nice change and certainly something I can implement, even on lazy Sundays and rainy Saturdays.

As I prepare my resolutions for 2013, I know that many of the targets discussed above will come into play.  French women have a purpose behind each action, something that I desperately need.  I would highly recommend Powell’s manual to any woman looking for the motivation to look good, feel good, and live purposefully.  You can purchase Powell’s book here and the Kindle version is available here.

The Busy Badge

I love America.  I love being American.  I love the liberties & freedoms that we are granted in this great country.  I love the cultural melting pot in which we live and I love the varied differences across the regions of our country.  We are a country of many accomplishments, but we are also a flawed nation.

In my opinion, the greatest flaw of Americans is the glorification of busyness.  I once had a wise friend who gently told me that I wore my busyness like a badge of pride.  She was right, and I remind myself daily that my life’s goal is not to be busy, but to live. My husband is an expert at personal boundaries and I’ve learned a great deal from him in the past two years.  He’s taught me many things:  how to love selflessly, how to run a household, how to make a budget–but his best gift to me has been the ability to say no.

The key to ending the glorification of busyness is that magic word, two letters, one syllable:  no.  And I’ll let you in on a little secret:  the word no does not offend people.  It’s refreshing.  I now say no more than I say yes, and I’m a better person for it.

Don’t you want to coach cheerleading?  No.

We’d love to have you serve on this committee.  Are you interested?  No.

Can you make three dozen cupcakes for our meeting?  No.

Please believe me when I say that it goes against my nature to say no.  I’m not a people person, I enjoy my solitude, but I am a people pleaser.  The trick to using the word no is to be prepared to say it.  You’ll feel terribly rude and unapproachable at first, but when you build those personal boundaries up, you’ll realize that others around you are envious of your newfound ability.

After you’ve mastered the art of the word no, you can begin to explore what you really want.  For me, the word no has enabled me to toss my Busy Badge in the trash.  I linger over late dinners, light candles on my dinner table, and enjoy a second cup of hot tea on a wintry afternoon.  Instead of pushing books to the wayside, I read them.  Now that I’ve ended the glorification of busyness in my home, Josh and I journal to each other {instead of sending rushed text messages}.

During this holiday season, we as a nation are busier than ever.  My hope for you is that you can embrace the word no and build personal boundaries.  Embrace the simple pleasures in life:  love, food, and quality time.

XOXO,

Court

Chicken Broth

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Nothing terrifies me more than the allure of convenience.  So many Americans are willing to sacrifice both health & wealth for the sake of time and convenience.  Drive-thru food, microwavable breakfast sandwiches, store-bought chicken broth–all modern conveniences–all unnecessarily expensive and unhealthy.

I began making and freezing my own chicken broth last summer.  I had quite a bit of time on my hands and an empty home during the day.  The following recipe is simple and it gives the cook the freedom to control the amount of sodium.  Just remember to cool the broth completely before storing it in the freezer.

Ingredients:

  • One whole chicken, thoroughly rinsed {remove the innards}
  • One celery stalk, quartered
  • One carrot, quartered
  • One onion, quartered
  • Fresh sage, one large bunch
  • 16 cups water
  • One tablespoon Kosher salt
  • One teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

Begin by placing the whole chicken into a large stockpot.  Add all vegetation, herbs, and seasoning.  Then, pour the water into the stockpot and cover.  Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for 1.5 hours.

Remove the chicken & allow to cool before picking the meat off the bones.  Then, add the bones back into the stockpot for an additional hour.  Strain the broth carefully & refrigerate for at least one hour.

The fat will solidify on top of the broth.  Strain the fat using a large metal spoon.  Then, you can use the broth immediately or freeze it for later use.  This recipe yields twelve cups of chicken broth.

To find our old blog…

Since our local paper ran a story about our blog, we’ve had several questions about how to find our old Blogger blog.  Just click here and you should be good to go!  You’ll find links to our old recipes, articles, and tutorials.  If you’re looking for something specific {like our homemade laundry detergent} the easy-to-use tabs on the sidebar are still available.  You can link to our old recipe page by clicking here.

Many thanks to Denise Matthews for writing such an awesome story!  Welcome to our life, Franklin County!

Don’t forget to “Like” our Facebook page for updates, recipes, and photos.  Click here to become a fan!

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It’s a Beautiful Day

I woke up this morning and felt like this.  Perhaps it is because I slept until my body naturally woke up.  Or maybe it’s because it’s Wednesday, December 19th and I’m not expected back at work until January 7th.  It could also be because when my alarm did not abruptly awaken me this morning, I was able to soak in all the sensations of waking:  my left foot against Josh’s right foot, the sunshine streaming through the white linen curtains, the gentle purring of Perseus and Achilles–everything I hold precious and dear all within my reach.

It’s amazing what a Christmas holiday can do for the morale.  I leapt from bed and whipped up some spiced milk to go with our morning coffee and steel cut oats.  I found the recipe here.

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We did not sleep in this morning.  It’s not in my nature, especially with such a beautiful day just waiting outside our door.  We woke up, bundled up, and went for a walk.

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We have a few days in our cosy little farmhouse and then we’ll be celebrating Christmas in three different states.  It feels good to slow down and actually enjoy quality time without the use of our DVR.  Josh has several carpentry projects going on out in the barn & I’m going to bake cinnamon rolls for friends and neighbors.  We’re also getting our home ready for some new additions:  namely a brood of free-range chickens and maybe {please, Josh, please} a rabbit.

Did you know that rabbit waste is high in nitrogen and it’s a great idea to have a rabbit hutch over your compost pile?  Plus, they are just adorable.

Celebrate a small victory today.

XOXO,

Court

The Top 5 Christmas Books {that aren’t about Santa}

Please don’t think I have anything against Santa.  I’m 24 years old and the rule in my mother’s home, “You’ve gotta believe to receive,” still stands.  I love Santa Claus is Coming to Town, The Year Without Santa Claus, and The Night Before Christmas.  Santa gets plenty of love in our home, and we don’t even have children.  With that being said, here are my top five favorite Christmas books about the true reason for the season.

1.  The Worst Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson

This book is hysterical and heartwarming all at once.  As an educator, the account of the Herdman children makes me squirm, but the true meaning of Christmas shines through in such a lovely way.  This story is available as both a short chapter book and a picture book.  Order here.

2.  One Wintry Night by:  Ruth Graham Bell

This story, written by Billy Graham’s late wife Ruth, is so simple, but the emphasis on God’s redeeming love is profound.  The illustrations are beautiful, somewhat reminiscent of the Scandinavian stylings of Jan Brett.  Available here.

3.  The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by:  Susan Wojciechowski

This was a family favorite growing up.  Jonathan Toomey’s transformation from a cold, unloving man to a new creation in Christ is beautifully illustrated.  I would suggest reading this story before setting up your family crèche.  Available {for $10!} here.

4.  Christmas in the Trenches by:  John McCutcheon

This true story is a somber reminder that many men & women are unable to spend Christmas with their families.  While Jesus is not necessarily mentioned in the text, it is a reminder that Christmas Eve is a time for peace and goodwill toward men.  This would be an excellent story to read before writing Christmas cards for soldiers & veterans.  Order here.

4.  The Littlest Angel by:  Charles Tazewell

Though it should be stressed to your children that this story is fictional, it provides a wonderful teaching opportunity.  The littlest angel is a young angel who just can’t get it together.  A wise old angel realizes that it’s because he’s homesick and the littlest angel is allowed to fetch his favorite belongings {which eventually become the Star of Bethlehem}.  Again, it should be stressed that this account is just a lovely fictional tale, but the idea that the blood of Christ can cover our sins is the main message of this story.  Unfortunately, the original artwork pictured above is no longer available {unless you hunt thrift stores or Ebay}, but a new version is available here.

5.  The Crippled Lamb by:  Max Lucado

This story has a beautiful message:  God has a plan for everyone.  As a Special Education teacher, this story is a gentle reminder that our disabilities on Earth will no longer be an issue once we’re all in Heaven.  Available here.

What are your favorite Christmas stories?  Let me know in the comment section!

Good Tidings of Great Joy

For so many of us, Christmas has become an exercise in tradition.  I love tradition, sometimes too much.  Tradition is familiar and safe, something that can be depended on.  While tradition is a comfort, especially in today’s world, sometimes tradition can hold us back.

Often, traditions seem to manifest at Christmastime.  One popular tradition is reading the story of Christmas as told by Matthew:

 “This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about:  his mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit.  Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorcer her quietly.

 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.  She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.’

 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:  ‘The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel {which means ‘God with us’}.

 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.  But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son.  And he gave him the name Jesus.

 –Matthew 1:18—25

The Book of Luke also has a lovely account of Christ’s birth:

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.  {This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.}  And everyone went to their own town to register. 

 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.  He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.  While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son.  She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. 

 And there were shepherds living out in the fields near by, keeping watch over their flocks at night.  An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid.  I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.  This will be a sign to you:  you will find a baby wrapped in clothes and lying in a manger.’

 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

 ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.’

 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’

 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.  When they had seem him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.  But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.  The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

 Luke 2:1—20

 I’m willing to bet that a large majority of you skipped over the scripture written above.  Don’t feel guilty—if you’re a lifelong churchgoer, you’ve probably heard those particular passages more times than you can count.  It’s like watching a movie you’ve seen a million times:  you don’t necessarily have to pay attention to it as long as it’s providing you with the background noise that you desire.

 Recently, I read The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson to my class.  If you haven’t read it, order it as quickly as possible and prepare yourself for a heartwarming chuckle.  The story features the Herdman children—kids so bad that they drink the communion grape juice and steal money from the church collection plate.  Early on in the story, it is discovered that the Herdman children have no knowledge of the Christmas story.  Hearing their reactions to the passages above brought me to tears.

If you think about it, the Christmas story isn’t just about a Savior being born.  It’s about a mom & dad who are in a strange land without a place to sleep, a friend to turn to, or a family to depend on.  It’s about two very new parents who were scared to death with the responsibility they’d been handed.  It’s about a father raising a heavenly Son as his own.  It’s about a mother who had to bear the brunt of a surprise pregnancy and the gossip that ensued.  It’s about the start of a new family in a very frightening time.

For the lifelong churchgoer, or even the average churchgoer, these sentiments are lost because of the repetition of the story.  The tradition of reading these scripture passages is rote—almost meaningless.  I realized this in front of a classroom of eleven high school students and to put it delicately, I lost it.

Our entire purpose as Christians on earth is to be sheep among wolves.  We’re meant to spread the good news, just as the shepherds did.  When was the last time you found joy in the Christmas story?  When was the last time that reading those precious scriptures was more than just a tradition?

Like Mary, I pondered these thoughts in my heart.  Sunday was the third week of the Advent season and again, I was struck by how meaningless the good news had become when we began to sing traditional Christmas hymns during the worship portion of our service.  I knew the hymns like the back of my hand—the tradition of singing them had taken away the joy in the lyrics.  Tears streamed down my cheeks as I experienced a renewed understanding of the message behind the choruses.

After my traditional {there’s that word again} Sunday nap, I curled beneath my brown-ticked flannel sheets and researched some of my favorite Christmas hymns, forcing myself to focus on the message behind the lyrics.  The joy and detail in each song is exquisite and if you can focus on in the intention instead of the tradition, the lyrics have the ability to transform the ordinary into the extraordinary.  Here are a few excerpts of my favorite traditional hymns:

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My prayer for you, dear reader, during this holiday season is that you are reminded once again of the joy and miraculous wonder of the Christmas story.

Happy Holidays,

Court

An Open Letter to Gun Control Advocates

To those who wish to ban firearms:

The tragedy that occurred in Newtown, Connecticut is heartbreaking, truly it is.  As an educator, I often wonder and pray that if I’m faced with such an event that I can respond with courage and bravery.  The world needs more ladies like Victoria Soto.  My heart grieves for the families of 20 little angels who will spend their first Christmas in Heaven without their mommies and daddies.  I spent Friday afternoon sobbing at my desk while my students quietly enjoyed Art, blissfully unaware that a gunman had executed over two dozen innocent people.  When I loaded them up to go home, I hugged them each extra tight and told them I loved them.

The mainstream media and many politicians, activists, actors, actresses, and celebrity personalities are calling for a ban on semiautomatic weapons.  Many are calling for a total ban on guns.  If I really felt that another gun control law would stop school shootings and school violence, as an educator, I would be the first on board.  Unfortunately, criminals are not known for following laws–that’s why they are criminals.

Instead of banning guns, which would infringe on the second amendment to the Constitution,  I propose we forge a different path.  Children need to grow up with a working knowledge of firearms.

My oh my, I’m certain that half of you aren’t even going to finish this post.  You’re already scrolling down to the bottom of the comment section to rip me a new one.  That’s fine.  You’re entitled to your opinion.  Regardless of what you say, I’ll stand by my word:  children need a working knowledge of firearms so they can become adults that respect weaponry.

Growing up in the Deep South with a hunter for a father, I naturally grew up around firearms.  My father raised us the same way he was raised.  My brother and I learned all about guns:  how to clean them, store them, and use them.  We also learned to respect the power of a weapon.

My younger brother’s first word was mama.  His second words were treat it like it’s loaded.  From the time we could speak, my father instilled that important virtue.  It was our eleventh commandment–a daily saying like the Lord’s Prayer.  We were taught that guns are amoral.  They are a servant to a human master.  Guns cannot think, speak, or fire themselves.  Guns are dangerous when they are not respected.  We were even taught to treat our toy guns with such reverence–yes, even those with the orange plastic caps on the end.

My father raised children that grew to be adults with a respect for firearms, and other Americans need to do the same.  As a 24 year-old woman, I sleep with a rifle in my closet and I drive with a 9 millimeter in my car.  I’m prepared to protect myself and those around me.  I’m not a gun fanatic.  I’m not even a member of the NRA.  I’m just an American citizen who is thankful for the second amendment right to keep and bear arms.

Recently, my tiny Mayberry was rocked by a home invasion.  A man that lives less than a mile from my farmhouse was shot in his own home.  I slept easily that night knowing that if the criminals attempted to break into my home, that I had the right and ability to protect myself and my belongings.  It’s something our Founding Fathers felt was incredibly important back in 1791–and it’s still important today.  So many Americans are willing to leave their safety to the government.  Y’all, the government can’t even balance a budget!

American pilots that meet the appropriate qualifications are able to carry a weapon into the cockpit.  They, along with Air Marshalls are our first line of defense against terrorists in the air.  Likewise, we as American citizens have the right to defend our homes, families, and ourselves from terrorists on land.  The man that executed those precious babies was not a criminal–in my eyes he was a terrorist.  I will not venture to say that a well-placed weapon in the hands of a teacher or administrator could have stopped this horrible incident because I am not God.

If there ever comes a time when the government allows approved teachers to safely conceal and carry weapons in the classroom, I know my husband and I will be some of the first to sign up.  I also know that we will raise our children in the same way that I was raised:  with a healthy respect for firearms.

As always, our prayers are with the people in Newtown.

Court

Please be respectful in the comments section–that means you, Anonymous.

Blue Bacon Cheeseburger Macaroni

Comfort is king in my home, and our king’s throne is located in the kitchen.  Like a great, woolen blanket over cold toes, comfort food is the most…well…comforting thing in the world.  Personally, I find the best types of comfort food involve copious amounts of starch and cheese and a tiny bite of heat.  It’s also of chief importance that comfort food can be easily eaten out of a bowl.  I can’t be bothered by plates, knives, or linen napkins when I’m in need of the warm embrace of comfort food.

We’re so close to our holiday that waking up in the morning has gotten difficult.  Our flannel sheets are so cosy that I just want to settle in for a lengthy hibernation.  After arriving home for work, all I want to do is curl up with a bowl of something comforting, flip on my Bing Crosby vinyl, and snuggle with the mister.  Tonight, I combined several of my favorite things—blue cheese, bacon, beef, sharp cheddar cheese, and macaroni—into a comforting and highly caloric concoction that I just have to share.

Ingredients:

For the béchamel sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons butter, unsalted
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 ¼ cup milk, heated
  • ½ cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Hot sauce

For the macaroni:

  • 1 pound macaroni noodles {whole wheat}
  • ½ cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 cup blue cheese, crumbled
  • ½ pound bacon, crumbled
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 small can of petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup béchamel sauce

To make the béchamel sauce, melt two tablespoons of unsalted butter in the same pan in which you cooked the bacon and beef.  Then, whisk in two tablespoons of flour and continue whisking for two minutes over medium heat.  After that, pour in the heated milk {I heated mine in a microwave safe pitcher} and continue stirring until the mixture comes to a boil.  Once you feel the sauce growing thicker, whisk in the grated sharp cheddar.  Add salt & pepper to taste as well as a few dashes of hot sauce.  Remove from heat.

Begin the macaroni by frying the bacon in a hot pan.  Remove from heat once the bacon is crispy.  Then, cook the ground beef in the bacon drippings and drain well.

In the meantime, bring a large pot of salted water to a rapid boil.  The noodles should cook no more than eight minutes.  Remove from heat and drain.  Then, mix everything together—the beef, bacon, blue cheese, béchamel sauce, and noodles.

Pour the mixture into a buttered baking dish and top with the additional sharp cheddar cheese.  Bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees.

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