Friday, February 25, 2011

I spent a little time with my grandma today.

Tip Junkie handmade projects

Photos made by yours truly
I won the lottery when I was born. I got some of the greatest grandparents ever gifted to a baby girl on the face of this earth. And I know it.

Today, I spent some time with my Dad's mother.

My grandma:

  • was born in 1917
  • is the most gentle spirit one could ever know
  • is completely incapable of gossip
  • is loved
  • is old-fashioned. She believes the man is the head of the household, and the woman is the heart. 
  • is my grandpa's best girl (and I'm his second best girl.)
  • used to sew amazing clothes, be them for people or her granddaughter's Barbie dolls
  • could cook a MEAN brisket
  • has dementia

When I visit my grandma, I visit her in the nursing home where she lives. Despite having dementia, she is still the most pleasant lady!

My grandpa brings her red roses every few days. The flower department at the grocer where he buys her roses is so touched by the effort of this ninety-four year old man, they have fixed the price of their dozen roses for this particular customer. He never pays over ten dollars.

He visits her every single day and shares one half of a coke with her as they visit.
The dementia has caused her to repeat the same phrase "Help me, Wyatt."
A sign hangs in her room just to calm her concern over where my Grandpa is (when he's not right beside her.)

The dementia has also caused her to say "Oh God, help me." She doesn't realize she's said it. Today the 'beauty operator' (Grandma calls her that) looked over at me after she said it, so I said "She prays a lot."

And I think she probably does. She's a good christian woman.

                                           I saw this pink rose in a flower shop and had to buy it for her...
                                             and amazingly, it is just a silly old silk rose.

                                              (This picture is of her own mama and daddy.)

Dear Lord,
Thank you for choosing Velma Lemons as my grandma. I love her. Each Sunday that I sat in church next to my grandparents, I would hold her hand and run my finger across the smooth polish on her freshly manicured nails. Though it probably appeared I wasn't listening to the minister at the pulpit, I really was. During those times I held Grandma's hand, I learned the most about you and came to love you. Her loving hand was her ministry to her grandchildren. I am so grateful that you gave her to my brothers and I. Thank you, Lord.
Tonight I pray that Grandma feels the peace that only you can give to her. Since she cannot remember in her head, remind her heart that she is loved and that Grandpa will see her tomorrow.
In Your Beautiful, Heavenly Name,

Friday, February 18, 2011

Capital, Capitol, Cap-it-all!

Entirely too fun of a class I had this past Saturday. We met at the Rotunda at 9 a.m.
I thought I would share some of the shots as I prepare them for class. The assignment? 

To shoot the capitol in a way that it has never been seen... through our own eyes. 

Ma Ferguson

This is actually a door knob! (above photo)

I had to use my shoe to turn this water fountain on for this shot! 

The hinges on some of the doors are fabulous! (above photo)

Underground skylight view of the capitol. 

"Hey!!? What's Dr. Spock doing in Austin!?"

I don't know these kids. But it was kind of sweet. 

I absolutely love feedback, so please feel free - talk to me! Comments are welcome here! 

Sunday, February 13, 2011


In this house, we have a favorite way to roast a chicken and I thought I would share it with you tonight.
It comes from a decade old Suzanne Somers cookbook - maybe even a little older. But oldies are goodies and Suzanne knows what's good. (Are you rolling your eyes thinking "Is she seriously talking about Suzanne Somers AGAIN!?!?!")

So I decided to get the weekend cooking out of the way on Saturday night. Our Swiss Family Robinson DVD came today and we're gonna dine on delish and unwind to an old school Castaway!

jdflas;kkk (That was Gigi - on my lap giving a little 'hello.')

Roasted Herbs of Provence Chicken Recipe


  • 1 chicken of 5-6 lbs. (or double the recipe like me!)
  • 2-3 tblsp of olive oil
  • salt & fresh ground black pepper
  • 3 Tblsp Herbs of Provence
  • 1 large bunch of fresh tarragon
  • 3 yellow onions
  • 2 parsnips, peeled & roughly chopped
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup dry white wine 
  • 1 tbslp butter                                   
 STEP ONE: Preheat the oven and begin chopping ingredients and prepping bird.                                  
I like getting those onion tears out of the way! 

It's kind of nice to make your mis en place (Meeez-in-plaws - french for 'everything in it's place' or known as your culinary prep.)
These are parsnips. (See above photo)
 It's so much easier to crack pepper if you have one of these babies - they ain't gorgeous or anything, but they get the job done with ease! (See below)

Chopped tarragon is so pungent of the licorice-y "quality" it has. 

Isn't it beautiful - you can really see the lavender!?!

Grab your prepped bird (prepped in that you've removed giblets, rinsed and dried it, and have now placed it in the roasting pan.) 
Rub the bird with olive oil, season with salt & pepper, herbs of provence. Place the tarragon under the skin, in the cavity, and all around the bird. 

Stuff the cavity with about 1 onion and some tarragon. 

Lookin' ready to go in the oven. It's fine if your onion/tarragon is spilling out of the bird. It'll just roast in the chicken broth for sauce! Sprinkle the remaining onion around the chicken in the pan and do the same with the parsnips. Drizzle a little olive oil on the vegetables and pour the chicken broth in the bottom of the pan. 

Now, make a tent for the bird out of foil so that the breast doesn't overcook and become dry before the rest of the bird is done. (If you are out of foil, just cook that baby breast side down!)
Bake for one hour @ 350 with the tent in place. 

At one hour, remove the foil and allow the bird to brown for another 30-40 minutes. The total cooking time is about 20 minutes per pound. 
Now, remove the chicken from the roasting pan and place it on a serving platter. 
(I like to insert a temperature probe to make sure we've hit the ideal bacteria kill-off point.)

It's time to prepare the sauce, so pour off most of the fat from the pan - reserving 2-3 tblsp. 
Place the roasting pan on the stove and head the drippings over high heat. Add the wine... 

and scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the pan to make a sauce. Reduce for 5-7 minutes, or until desired thickness is achieved.

 Adjust seasonings to taste (salt/pepper.) Turn off the heat and add the butter. Stir until well combined. Carve the chicken and serve with a spoonful of sauce. 
Serving suggestion - steamed broccoli buttered and squirted with a few drops of fresh lemon juice, salt & peppered. A side of brown rice or cous-cous cooked to your liking or if you're low-carb, make some cauliflower or cauli rice by processing your steamed cauli-florets in the food processor. Of course it never hurts to double up on your greens - a side salad is a nice touch! 
Hang on to that carcass, y'all! 
It's just dying (or dead) to become the most delicious chicken soup for the soul you've ever made! 
  Get your soup on! (A few of my favorite things to toss in fresh, homemade stock are veggies from the crisper drawer (even citrus from the fruit bowl), onions, barley, wheatberries - really just anything I've got on hand! If I've any leftover chicken, you can bet some will be tossed in!)

(I've taken the bones (cooked onions/parsnips from the dish and some of the herb-covered skin) and tossed them in my stock pot. Then I added remaining parsnips, a bunch of green onions, a few handfuls of baby carrots, a clove or two of garlic, some peppercorns... you get the picture. Then I filled it with water and brought it to a boil. I immediately turned the heat down and am leaving it to simmer for several hours. I'm fortunate to have a stockpot with a colander-type insert, so I will discard the carcass and sogged-out veggies with style and ease! I will be left with a beautiful, flavorful stock that will become an amazing soup to nourish my pink-snowman-pajama-wearing toddler and douse her fever with immune-boosting natural goodness. And hopefully, the rest of us will remain well!)

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do! Stay well, stay healthy, stay happy!

NOTE: I've shifted the recipe in other ways. Sometimes I don't have fresh tarragon and parsnips, so I skip those two. I've actually come to rub Ghee (or clarified butter) under the skin and directly on the flesh of the bird. If you're wondering what clarified butter is, you can usually purchase it at a health food store and if you've ever had lobster or crab and a small ramekin of melted butter with your dish at Red Lobster (or wherever), then you've had it. (That's what the super-duper buttery flavor in that ramekin really is.) 
There are times that I've not had a dry white and sent my husband to the store in which he returns with a moscato (white dessert wine and SWEET! But at least it's not an Eiswein (Ice wine) where it's so sweet because the grapes stayed on the vine until the first freeze and the sugars have just soared - it's delicious, but not really for chicken cooking!) I ended up using the moscato and it wasn't bad, it was GOOD! But if you're watching your weight, you're watching your sugars (natural and refined.) So dry white is the best way to go on this.) If you're going organic on the bird (and for your sake, I hope you are) you're going to want to keep your ingredients primo. So use a wine you'd actually drink, leave those bottles of cooking wine on the shelf. They're packed with strange chemicals and I'd probably only buy those if I had a beach house pantry to stock! Besides, it's fun - swig of wine for mommy, swig of wine for dish. Taking turns is NICE! Hee hee!

I take a moment to grind my own peppercorns. I like my herbs in the old-school Herbes de Provence clay pot that you can find at the finer kitchen stores like Williams-Sonoma or Sur La Table because it tastes amazing enough I could chow down on it straight out of the jar and the pieces of lavender are super obvious! It literally comes from The South of France! It costs a bit, but when you're going to the trouble, you might as well - and it'll last.) Parsnips aren't a real common ingredient these days, so I'll just go ahead and tell ya. They usually hang out by the carrots. They're those weird white carrot looking things. When you chop them, they smell kinda minty fresh.