blue blog

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sunday Waffles

There is nothing better than freshly ground wheat and oats to make lip smacking waffles!  My family has always loved these waffles and they are probably jealous that they're not here with us this morning.
Rennie and I had originally discussed having oatmeal for breakfast, but then he suggested waffles since we haven't had them in a year or so.  I told him that if he would grind the wheat that I would make the waffles.  Two cups of spelt and one cup of oatmeal went into the grinder and off she went - our grinder sounds like a twin engine plane or a shop vac taking off into the wild blue yonder!  Retrieving the eggs and buttermilk out of the refrigerator, I quickly gathered all the ingredients to mix up this glorious batter.  Once the flour was ready, the rest of the process is incredibly easy - just mix and pour.  

Several years ago my children blessed me with this professional waffle maker.  If you don't have one, no worries, your regular waffle maker will do just fine.  
Melted butter and maple flavored agave nectar finished the masterpiece.  Oh My Goodness...they are MMMM, MMMM Good!

This recipe is from the Bread Becker's Cookbook.  You can find quality products at their web site - click HERE.

Basic Whole Wheat Waffles
3 cups freshly milled flour (we used 2 cups of spelt and 1 cup of oatmeal)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground cinnamon (this is my own addition and not part of the original recipe)
1/2 cup oil (we used Canola oil)
4 eggs
3-4 cups buttermilk (*To use sweet milk instead of buttermilk, omit the baking soda and increase the baking powder to 4 tsp.)

Mix together dry ingredients.  Add liquids.  Stir just until mixed.  Put the desired amount onto your waffle iron (ours takes approximately 3/4 of a cup of batter for each waffle) and bake until golden brown.  Serve with sweetened strawberries, maple syrup or honey.  

Until next time... ~Pamela

Saturday, January 28, 2012


All my life I have loved eating vegetables and like just about all varieties.  I was extremely blessed to live next door to my grandmother for the most part of my young childhood and was introduced to all kinds of fresh veggies on a daily basis.  Still today, I can remember how her house smelled when she cooked.  There was never a day without some sort of fresh vegetables.  I think the only thing I ate out of a can was Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup when I was sick.

As much as I have enjoyed meat in the past, especially a grilled steak, I have grown tired of it - just about all of it.  The thought of eating chicken makes me want know...  We have eaten so much chicken lately that I can not stand the taste of it anymore, or at least right now.  So, a few weeks ago, I asked Rennie if he would try a week without meat.  He was game, so we did.  Now, I have no desire for meat - maybe the occasional fish, but nothing from the farm (so to speak). I certainly cannot promise that I may not have some meat from time to time, but for now, I am having fun cooking veggies.  We are beginning our fourth week now without meat and I am really liking it!

While talking with several of my students this week, I found out that this way of eating (or lifestyle) is called Pescatarian.  The definition is: "A word to describe those who abstain from eating all meat and animal flesh (the word "flesh" here sounds gross to me - did they have to use flesh??) with the exception of fish."  Although the word is not commonly used as a pescatarian, it is not technically a vegetarian.  Pescetarians believe that moderate consumption of fish or fish oils, which are high in Omega-3 fatty acids, is necessary for optimum health, although some alternatives are available such as flax seed oil.  Although I am eating somewhat like a pescetarian, I don't really feel like I qualify to be called that name's only been three weeks.  Who needs a label anyway?

With the addition of more and more veggies in my diet, I have researched tons of vegetable recipes.  I easily tire of the same old thing, cooked the same old way, over and over again.  Pinterest has been a great resource of course!  I also want to begin to make my own fresh pasta, make dishes using Quinoa, and making breads using different grains and oatmeal.  Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would enjoy this, but I am!  I am actually feeling a bit healthier and am not so tired after each meal.
One of my favorite vegetables right now are Brussels Sprouts.  Years ago when visiting my good friend, Robin, in Greenville, South Carolina, she prepared the best oven roasted Brussels Sprouts I have ever had.  Since then, that is how I fix them.  I think the secret is the cast iron pan.  The original recipe calls for a few slices of bacon, which I still use.  I enjoy the bacon flavor and there is so little of it, I justify it being in the recipe (even though I can't make myself think of it as "flesh").  I have included the recipe just in case you want to try it.  

Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Fresh Brussels Sprouts (these are my favorite)  or 1 bag of frozen Brussels Sprouts (We usually purchase two packages and cook both at one time)
1  Onion chopped
2-3 Slices of bacon cut into small pieces (obviously omit if you are a vegetarian or vegan)
1-2 Tablespoons of olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.  If using fresh Brussels Sprouts, wash and trim the ends off.  Cut them in half.  If using frozen Brussels Spouts, do not pre-cook them, but cut them in half and place in a bowl to the side.  Cut the onion and bacon into small pieces.  Using a cast iron pan or an oven proof frying pan, heat the oil on medium high.  Add the bacon and fry until crispy, then add the onions and saute until soft and have a bit of color on them.  Add the Brussels Sprouts, stirring them to coat them with the onion and bacon.  Cook on the stove top for a few minutes.  Place the pan into the oven and roast the vegetables for approximately 25-30 minutes.  Check them midway and give them a stir. Servings 3-4 (but if you use them for a main dish as we do, then it is just enough for two people.  Serve hot.  Enjoy!

Until next time... ~Pamela

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Winter Park Farmers' Market

One of the many favorite spots we enjoy visiting just about every Saturday is the Winter Park Farmers' Market.  A gold mine of produce can be found there, as well as, many vendors selling a multitude of plants, honey, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, dog treats, cupcakes, kettle corn, cheeses, pies, dried fruit, and even the best vanilla extract. Vendors and shoppers are always friendly and so are their pets!

The market is located at the old train depot several streets from the main drag in Winter Park.  I could say that this market is one of the best around and definitely draws a ton of people every week.  Rennie and I shop there for our produce as much as possible.  My problem is determining what to purchase, because everything looks so good - I want it all, especially since we are eating more fruit and vegetables than anything else these days.

 The credit for my love of veggies goes to my Grandmother Parks.  Every year she would plow and plant a marvelous array of vegetables.  Once they were harvested, I would help prepare them so she could can them or freeze them.  We had the best vegetables all year around.  For the first nine years of my life I never had a store bought vegetables or canned vegetables, and all the fruit I ate came right off the tree or plant.  Apples, peaches, wild plums, grapes, and strawberries were always available in her yard.  Life was grand!

I would love to have a garden one day.  This spring, I will attempt (notice the word attempt...)to have a bedded garden.  There is much more research to do.  I want to make sure that I have growth and not kill everything I plant, especially since I have a brown thumb!

In the meantime, I am looking for the perfect vegetable soup.  My grandmother made the best veggie soup I have ever tasted.  I called her one time and asked her for her recipe.  She laughed and told me that she didn't have a recipe and that her soup was made up of all veggie leftovers from several days or weeks that she would stick in the freezer.  Once she had enough for a pot of soup, she'd pull the frozen leftovers out, defrost them, and make soup.  I have never had anything like her soup in over 40 years.  So what is your favorite vegetable soup recipe?  I am anxious to know!

Until next time... ~Pamela

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Coffee Obsession

Yesterday, we went to one of our favorite spots - The Winter Park Farmer's Market (more on that later in another post). It was such a chilly day, so we decided to warm up a bit by visiting Starbucks.  What is it with America's obsession with coffee?  That place was packed!  I guess if I ever purchased stock in anything, Starbucks would be a company that I  would definitely consider.

People filed in and out carrying their hand-warmers in the form of a tall, grande, or venti sized coffee cup.  So what is the deal with coffee -particularly Starbucks?  After conducting my own research about this company, I felt that the information was worth sharing with you. (Info taken from:

1970's:  The first Starbucks opens. The name comes from Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, a classic American novel about the 19th century whaling industry. The seafaring name seems appropriate for a store that imports the world’s finest coffees to the cold, thirsty people of Seattle.  The first store opening was at Seattle’s historic Pike Place Market.
1980's:  Howard Schultz joins Starbucks in 1982. While on a business trip in Italy, he visits Milan’s famous espresso bars. Impressed with their popularity and culture, he sees their potential in Seattle. He’s right – after trying lattes and mochas, Seattle quickly becomes coffee-crazy.
1990's:  Starbucks expands beyond Seattle, first to the rest of the United States, then the entire world. After becoming one of the first companies to offer stock options to its part-time employees, Starbucks becomes a publicly traded company under the trading symbol "SBUX". The first Starbucks in the Middle East opens in 1999, in Souk Shark, Kuwait.
2000's:  The Starbucks phenomenon continues. As of this writing, Starbucks has more than 16,000 stores in 48 countries. In addition to our excellent coffees and espresso drinks, people now enjoy Tazo® tea and Frappuccino® blended beverages.
How many cups of coffee have you purchased over the last week, month, year, or years?  I am so amazed that a hot beverage that once cost around a quarter in the 1950's now can cost up to $7-8 (depending on the size you purchase and what "type" of coffee you have ordered).  I usually stop by a shop at least once a week.  Some of my students blessed me at Christmas time with Starbucks gift cards - yea baby!  What do I order?  My order would consist of a tall latte with whip (whipped cream).  No sugar or other sweetener...just a cup of "wake up juice".
I hope you are staying warm, and enjoying whatever type of hot beverage you like! Until next time... ~Pamela

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

It's Back to the Stacks

Having a month long vacation from school is wonderful until...  Until you have to get back into the swing of things.  I love my job as a teacher.  The least favorite part of it all - studying.  Why can't I just remember everything?  Teaching four different science classes are fun 95% of the time, especially when you get to play with experiments!  My students enjoy that the most.  However, each class cannot have an experiment every time we meet.  Looking for creative ways to keep them engaged is often like corralling ants back into an ant pile after it has been disturbed, especially when you have a rather large class of middle school students. I do love that age and enjoy my students so very much!  

Balance - that is the structure I'm currently working on.  Not balance as in trying to hold a million spinning plates in the air all at once, but finding a balance between work, rest, play, and well, just life.  I tend to hyper focus on one thing and then burn myself out if I am not careful.  

My current read is this book. Bruce Miller does not like the word balance, but refers to life as a rhythm - keeping a beat.  My problem is finding the time to read and meditate on what he suggests.  Early morning is my favorite part of the day.  I am at my best then.  So I begin my day with the Lord and coffee, have my computer time, then try to fit in a bit of reading. 

This morning, I made pasta salad so it could be cooling while I continue on with my morning routine. I've included the recipe at the bottom of my post, just in case you wanted to try it.  It sure is easy-peasy to make!

I do not teach in the middle of the week, but work on lesson planning, uploading things to the school web site, typing, reading, and studying, which takes the majority of the day (as in today).  This afternoon I have to go purchase some experiment supplies for tomorrow's classes - yeah...we get to play!  

Pasta Salad
1 box of whole grain spiral pasta (cooked according to the package directions
1 head of broccoli
1 red bell pepper
2 sections of green onions
1 pint of grape tomatoes or cherry tomatoes
3/4 pound Genoa Salami - sliced thick (from the deli)
3/4 pound Virginia Baked Ham - sliced thick (from the deli)
(I would add chopped Greek olives and some feta cheese, but my husband does not like that, so I leave it out)
Ken's Greek Salad Dressing (about 3/4 or the bottle)

Cook the pasta according to the package directions.  Chop up all the vegetables and meat into bite-sized chunks.  Put all the ingredients in a large bowl and add the salad dressing.  I use about 3/4 or the bottle at first, and then once it is cool, I may add more if necessary.  Stir well and refrigerate for at least two hours - overnight is best.  ~Enjoy!

Thank you for stopping by.  I know today's post was not exciting, but it is small peek inside my life. I hope you have a wonderful day today - I pray you experience joy somehow-someway.  

Until next time... ~Pamela

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Great Giveaway at Cottage at the Crossroads

I love to share good news.  Jane at Cottage at the Crossroads is celebrating her one year blogoversary! To share in her joy, she is giving away a $50 Pottery Barn gift card.  You can read all about it and visit her cute blog by clicking here. Be sure to drop her a line and let her know you visited!  Enjoy!

Until next time... ~Pamela

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Little Buddies

Cocoa and Simba - They are furry buddies!
It is so amazing to me how much pets can bring love and pleasure into our lives.  Our furry buddies make us laugh on a daily basis - and sometimes make us extremely irritated! One thing I love to watch is when they interact with each other and play.
Our cat, Simba has been with us for almost twelve years now.  He was born in our home and was the first cat I actually loved.  Prior to that I was, let's say, not so fond of kitty cats.  But God sent Simba into our lives so I could experience just how fun and sweet they can be.  Ole Sim has always been an inside cat and still loves to play fetch if there is a drinking straw around and enjoys his "mousers".  

Simba has not been fond of our son's dog, Butch, at all.  He will hiss at him every time Butch wants to play or even just sniff him.  However, Simba has softened up when it comes to our pups, Cocoa and Roxie.  They can love on him and he usually does nothing.  Sometimes they hug and snuggle together.  

Today was no exception.  Cocoa loves Simba.  She would groom him and love on him all day if we would let her.  Roxie tries to stick her nose in between them but Simba prefers Cocoa.  They are just too cute together.  I am thankful that God gave us dogs and cats to make our lives a bit happier.  They are such wonderful companions!
Cocoa and Roxie - they are sisters (seriously!)  Their mom is our Chiwawa, Hannah, and their dad is our Daschund, Butch. 
Cocoa loving on Simba - she just LOVES Simba!
Just one more kiss Simba...please???
Until next time... ~Pamela

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Coffee Anytime

Project 365- Day 3:  Yummo - the aroma of coffee in the morning or really anytime is comforting to me.  Sometimes just the smell of coffee seems to make a person want to float in a wave motion (just like a cartoon character) to the kitchen.  I so enjoy coffee and am thankful to the person or persons who discovered that boiling a bunch of ground up roasted coffee beans would produce something that not only would give you a burst of energy but a smile on your face!

When we visited Manchester, Vermont, several years ago, we went to a wonderful store called The Jelly Mill (now closed - sad face).  There we sniffed out a counter that had large containers of different flavored coffees.  Jar after jar, we would lift the lid and take a big whiff of the amazing aromas that seem to just jump out at you and say, "Pick Me".  Vermont Maple Crunch was my pick! Oh my goodness, it smelled just like maple syrup, but WAY better.  I wanted to use it for cappuccino's, so we purchased a one pound bag of beans.  Upon arriving back in Jacksonville, we quickly ground up enough to make two cups of cappuccino.  My tongue just about slapped my brains out (a southern term) - it was so very good!  Sold!!!  I quickly picked up the phone, called The Jelly Mill and ordered ten more pounds, wrapped in one pound bags. Once the coffee arrived, we quickly vacuumed sealed each package so as to seal in the flavor.  Each year we have used a pound (or two) and enjoyed every moment.  This year...we opened the very last bag (another sad face).  Now that The Jelly Mill is closed, I guess I'll have to search for another place to purchase it from.  My friend, Marcy Krumbine, now lives in Vermont - I wonder if she would help me locate some...

Until then, I am satisfied with our everyday coffee brands and a weekly run to Starbucks. does my body good.  And, oh by the way, I do put whipped cream in my coffee, but I don't add sugar - just sayin'.

Until next time... ~Pamela

Monday, January 2, 2012

Yankee Candles

Project 365 - Day 2.  Yankee Candles are among some of my favorite candles.  We have been purchasing them for years.  I love the way the house smells when we have one or two burning.  Sometime mixing the flavors really creates a cozy atmosphere.  

Today's photo is of two of my favorite flavors.  My daughter, Lindsey, gave us the Balsam Cedar candle for Christmas - thank you Lindsey!  It has made the house smell like we have a real Christmas tree in the living room.  The other candle is Christmas Cookies.  This came in handy, especially since I only baked one batch of cookies this year.  

Now we need to pick which fragrance to choose for the months of January through March until the spring scents come out.  Which one would you choose?

Until next time...~Pamela

Happy New Year (A Day Late...)

Everyone is hopeful when the new year begins.  People make new plans and resolutions, as well as, plans to leave all the old stuff behind.  My 2011 was not bad - it just brought a lot of change.  Change is good, but sometimes the process is hard.  Life can be hard at times.

I look at the new year as being something I grow with.  I want to have more balance in my life.  I tend to go full throttle on just one thing - a hyper focus if you will.  Then I begin to wear down, loosing steam as time progresses.  I haven't been great at balancing multiple plates at one time.  However, I have come to realize that I pick up WAY too many plates at a time and then get frustrated at myself that I did that! I look at people I know well and wonder how they do it. How do they manage to do so much and not wear themselves slap out? First of all, they may not do it all.  It may appear as thought they do it all.  I'm just the bystander watching from the outside.  What is really going on on the inside?  My job is to find a balance between my yes's and my no's...a balance between work time and down time.

As this week begins, I start it with a very heavy heart.  Last night I received a phone call from a friend telling me that another friend of mine has passed away quite quickly.  Shock is NOT the word - I don't know that there are actual words to express my feelings.  Rennie and I were very close to this friend and so very sad of her passing.  We have very fond memories with her.  I will miss our "Suz" and will always have our sweet time together in my heart.

On a lighter note I began a 365 challenge yesterday.  The challenge is to take one (or more) photos a day of just random things about your life - the good, the bad, the ugly..  I believe that every life is important  - that everyone has a story and every story matters.  The challenge is also to journal about that photo, with gratitude. Want to join me?

My photos depict our New Year's Day dinner. Good ole southern cookin'! Ham, black eyed peas, rice, collard greens and corn bread.  Yummo!  Our course it is not the healthiest of meals, but non the less, very tasty.  

Feeling very blessed to be raised in the south, I think back to my Grandmother Parks who taught me how to cook without really "teaching" me.  She allowed me to stand by her side everyday for the first nine years of my life, and watch her cook - and after that when I would visit her.  Never did she tell me that I was bothering her and for me to get out of her way.  I ate REALLY well when with her.  She would load my up on the vegetables, that were grown in her own garden, and fry up some awesome chicken! My food may not look like a cookbook photo, but it is finger lickin' good!

 Soaking the dried black eyed peas early in the morning before I began cooking.  I could make a meal off these alone (and actually will for the next several days - I cooked enough for an army!).
 The collards prior to cooking - they stink up the house, but taste oh so good.
 Since our kitchen is the size of a thimble (9x6) and only has two counter tops, we use a roaster to cook larger meats.  We had to place the roaster on the table due to having no room on the two counters that I have.  We love using the roaster and it works well with our little to no kitchen space.
Not a gourmet meal, but a good one at that.  Simple but tasty.   Hey, at least I used my grandmother's china plates - that fancied it up a bit! 

For this meal and every meal, I am thankful. I am thankful to know how to cook and that the Lord provides for us.  Thankful that I had a loving and kind grandmother that never made me feel "in the way" and showed me everyday that I was loved and appreciated.  Thankful that my husband loves the way I cook and always enjoys our meals together.  Grateful...very grateful!

I hope you decide to join my challenge - take a photo, journal about it - appreciate the small things and find something good about the bad things.  Photo journal your life.  Begin a blog.  You may not think it matters much, but it does matter to someone!

Until next time...~Pamela