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I ripped this recipe for cheese straws out of a Southern Living magazine way back in 1994!

vintage aluminum cups

No, I am not going on a KonMari kick and throwing away recipes! (at least not this one) The reason I saved this recipe to begin with was it brought me joy!! I was probably initially attracted to the vintage aluminum cups!

Cheese straws are a classic Southern snack. They can be fancy and served with wine or casual and served with football! You can buy them at the store, but they are so easy to make! I made cheese straws to give away as gifts this past Christmas.

snowflake package

I was in a hurry and didn’t even fancy up the cellophane baggies! How sad! At least they were cute baggies.

cheese straws

The cheese straws were very fragile. I had to be careful putting them in the bags. They made a great non-sweet snack to give as a gift! Everyone loved them!

Parmesan Cheese Straws

2/3 cup refrigerated pre-shredded Parmesan cheese or use fresh cheese plus 1/4 cup of flour

1/2 butter, softened

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper

1/4 cup milk

*Put the cheese and butter in a food processor fitted with the knife blade. Whir it around until blended.

*Add the flour, salt and red pepper. Process about 30 seconds or until the mixture forms a ball. Scrape down the sides from time to time.

*Divide the dough in half. Roll each portion into a 1/8 inch thick rectangle. Cut the dough into 2″ x 1/2″ strips. (You can also shape the dough into 3/4 inch balls; flatten to about 1/8 inch; brush with milk and top with a pecan half.) Place on a baking sheet; (I used parchment for easy cleanup!) brush with milk.

*Bake at 350˚ for 7 minutes for strips (10 minutes for rounds) or until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack.

**Makes about 5 dozen cheese straws! I put about 25-30 in each baggie.

**When cutting out the straws, you can use a regular knife, pizza wheel, pastry cutter…whatever you want to make it fancy! You can also use a cookie press if you have one.

So, we had a few cheese straws leftover. After Christmas we were all tired of eating Christmas food! I decided experiment with (and disguise) the leftover straws. I crushed up the cheese straws (This was very easy since they were fragile to begin with!) and made Chicken Parmesan!

Chicken Parm

I dipped the chicken in a little melted butter, then the crushed up cheese straws, then into the oven. (again, parchment paper makes clean up a breeze!) Sorry, I don’t remember how long I baked it. I’m thinking 425˚ for about 15-20 minutes depending on the thickness of your chicken. Once baked, add a little marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese! Back in the oven for another 5 minutes-until the cheese melts. YUM! The red pepper that is in the cheese straws was really yummy in the Chicken Parm! It was yummy in the cheese straws, too!

A tea infuser, sometimes called a tea ball, is what you put your dried tea leaves in in order to make the tea. It keeps your tea leaves from floating around in your teacup. Of course, tea bags do the same thing but aren’t nearly as cute.

Since my chorus has hosted a fundraiser Tea for the past six, going on seven, years, I became interested in tea infusers. They come in all shapes and sizes. I had one aluminum infuser that had been my grandmothers. 

One day, while browsing Pinterest, I came across this picture…

6bda719ebcc3f30470a0a8dd9120deca

Oh, my goodness! Tea balls as Christmas ornaments!! I loved the idea and started hunting yard sales and estate sales. One Sunday afternoon I ran into my friend, Donna, at an estate sale. I told her about my idea. She joined me in my hunt, so did my mother-in-law, Brenda. I’m not sure I actually found very many of the tea balls in my collection my self. Every time I saw Donna she was handing me another treasure. Brenda gave me a box full of tea infusers for Christmas one year! 

This Christmas I finally had enough “ornaments” to fill a tree!

tea ball tree

Ok, I think I need a better tree. This was actually a branch off of an old tree I pulled off the curb! 

I thought the tree needed a little color, so I added these fake poinsettias I’ve had for a while. 

tea ball ornaments

You can’t tell from the pictures, but I had the greenery stuffed into some styrofoam in a piece of crockery. It made me happy to see it on the counter. However, I will have to do something different next time. It took up too much valuable space for setting out nut clusters and rolling out cookie dough!

tea ball ornaments 2

I loved my little “tea tree”. It would be cute to add little teapot ornaments to it. Tea bags or other tea items would be fun, too, and add more color in the process. 

Thanks, Donna and Brenda, for my fun Tea Ball Tree!

Well, the girls and I had a fun afternoon of giggles and crafts a couple of Sundays ago!

families that craft together

While Chip was off at a church meeting, we played!

Both of the girls had projects they had already started. I decided to work on some seasonal decor. Of course, my Pinterest boards are full of ideas!

Katie is working on her first quilt! She saw a pattern on Pinterest (like mother like daughter!) and loved it. I was able to track it down for Christmas last year.

pattern pieces

She had a BLAST picking out all of the colorful fabric! She is well on her way to having all the little pieces cut out and ready to start stitching!

cutting quilt pieces

quilt pattern

Megan had a pre-printed world map that she wanted to quilt. She loves anything having to do with world travel!

map

She ended up not liking the way she had stitched around the countries AND the latitude and longitude lines and ripped out some of them. It has been a fun project for her to work on while watching the World Cup!

quilt back

I worked on some patriotic decor for our 4th of July church gathering at our house. I got the “wreath” idea here. I liked hers better. She used fancy scrapbook paper. I used what I had–construction paper. I liked how hers had a darker, more muted tone to it. Oh, well. I liked mine well enough! Plus, it was fun to make.

patriotic door decoration

Nothing too fancy about toilet paper tubes wrapped in construction paper to look like little rocket!

toilet paper tube rockets

I had not really done much crafting lately. I realized my NEED for a craft room! So, I spent a good amount of my craft time tracking down supplies! One day I will have a space to corral all my supplies!

My constant supply tracking was just one more thing to laugh about on our fun-filled “crafternoon” that bled into the evening.

 

Welcome sign

Welcome indeed!

The group I sing with, Top of the Rock Chorus, hosted our 6th Spring Tea the Saturday before Mother’s Day.

As our event has grown, finding just the right venue has been a challenge for our non-profit checkbook! I think we hit a home run this year though!

Our Spring Tea this year was held at Faulkner Lake Orchard, just outside of North Little Rock, AR.

sign

Faulkner Lake Orchard is a working farm. They have a you-pick-it area. There is also a general store full of freshly picked produce, canned items and local honey.

General Store sign

General Store

honey

produce

The farm was just so peaceful and relaxing. I plan to go back sometime when the trees are in full bloom. There are a few pictures on their website showing different events in the orchard. It makes a beautiful setting for a wedding.

peach orchard

rocking chairs

cypress trees

peach trees

peach

The peaches were not quite ready while we were there. Faulkner Lake Orchard hosts a huge peach party in July. They will have food, fun activities for the kids, peach tea and peach ice cream all for FREE! Mrs. Karen said to get there early!!

Speaking of Mrs. Karen…

Ms. Karen

…she was the sweetest lady! Karen Martin is the owner of Faulkner Lake Orchard.  She was so laid back and happy to help however we needed.

parking lot shuttle

She even provided a shuttle from the parking area to the main event center for our guests.

Stay tuned! I have lots more to share with you from this year’s Tea.

Welcome to our house!

christmas-wagon

Why do we all love decorating for Christmas?! I suppose nostalgia has something to do with it. There is also the fact that our homes get a face-lift for free, unless you buy new decorations each year.

I pulled this little wagon out of a dumpster this summer! It is perfect filled with fake presents and a cookie jar on our porch coffee table.

christmas-porch-pillows

I was thrilled to find this fun Christmas ribbon on sale at The Paul Michael Company while on vacation this summer.

sled-and-skates

My husband’s childhood sled came to live with us! Oh, if that sled could talk! I’m sure there would be stories it could tell!

north-pole

I made this North Pole as decoration for the seasonal membership recruitment for my chorus. The flower-pot base worked well with the empty wrapping paper tube I got from a gift shop. A little paint and ribbon and voila! I couldn’t stand to just throw it away, so it found a home on my porch.

kitchen-wreath

Look what I made to go in my fancy new kitchen!!! Well, actually, I made three!

wreaths-on-cabinets

If you look closely…

scrap-wreath

you might recognize the fabric from another project! I love “free” stuff!

vintage-bottles-with-berries

top-of-refrigerator

vintage-kitchen-vignette

christmas-shelf

I love my new kitchen!

I enjoy the old things we have, too!

plaid-china

…like plaid Christmas plates

vintage-christmas-decorations

and vintage decorations!

joy-lamp

joy

joy-with-light

I picked up these “JOY” ornaments at last year’s after-Christmas-sale. I wish they had had all the right letters in the plaid. Oh, well. I like the was the light shines behind them at night.

german-crate

This great German crate (a hand-me-down from my in-laws) got relocated this year. Skeeter seems to approve.

slipcovered-couch

The gray and red from the kitchen came into the den. I picked up the snowflake pillows on sale last year. I guess that is where I got to thinking about the gray for the kitchen. The sweater pillows came from Goodwill. I couldn’t commit to cutting the pillows just yet. So, these are held together with safety pins.

gray-sweater-pillow

black-red-and-gray-sweater-pillow

red-and-white-sweater-pillow

I truly hope you all can find TRUE JOY this season-which is only found in Christ the LORD!

nativity

“And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good news of great joy, that will be to all people.” Luke 2:10

There is a new piece of artwork in our kitchen that I didn’t show you in the “big reveal”.

When we were originally discussing paint colors, I told Chip I wanted to paint the cabinets gray. He kinda looked at me like it was not a good idea. I told him it would be a “French Country” look. That idea he liked. The idea of a French Country kitchen got him to thinking about using some photos from our trip to France last summer. We finally agreed on a photo to use! I thought I would first share other photos related to our new artwork. We may even get some more printed!

Here is a map to show you where the Alsace region of France is located. As you can imagine, France and Germany argued and fought for many years to see who got to keep the area. So, while Alsace is in France, there are lots of German influences.

alsace-mape

We drove in to Alsace from Wittenberg, Germany. Wittenberg is about halfway between Leipzig and Berlin. Our car time was about 7 hours.  The scenery was breath-taking! Gorgeous vineyards and quaint little villages were everywhere.

french-countryside

french-vineyards

hillside-vineyards

Vineyards were not the only crops we saw. We came across a lovely cherry orchard. Alsace is crazy about cherries!
cherry-tree

 

I loved the flower boxes everywhere.

street-view

red-flowers

These trees looked like they were straight from a fairytale!

storybook-trees

Finally, we arrived at our bed and breakfast. Part of the home was built in the 1700s!!!!

bed-and-breakfast-alsace

bed-and-breakfast-alsace-full

window-with-flowers

The weather was lovely! Our hosts welcomed us with coffee and delicious coffee cake.

bed-and-breakfast

coffee-on-the-patio

coffee-cake

Here are a few pictures of the inside.

lace-curtains

view-from-loft

This is the view from our room.

view-from-bb

bed

dressing-area

shower

The girls stayed in the loft attached to our room.

stairs-to-loft

loft-bed

After a little time of resting and getting acclimated to our new digs, we headed out to find some dinner.

The first place we stopped was a little out of our price range. We had already taken this cute picture to remember where we had eaten! Then we didn’t eat there.

french-restaurant

We did not get the group shot at our actual restaurant. To tell you the truth, we looked pretty tired in most of the pictures.

We were actually lucky to get to eat. The folks at this restaurant only spoke French. Fortunately, Megan had worked with a French language app before our trip. She was able to order dinner for all of us. We were all very grateful and she felt pretty proud of herself.

glasses

We did learn to order water without “gas”. Carbonated water is apparently a big deal in Germany and France.

steak-dinner

pizza

chicken-and-gravy

pizza-with-egg

The food was very good. The fried egg on the pizza was a little weird. I ordered that for the local experience. I do not plan to repeat that experience any time soon, however.

We had our dinner outside. Right next to our table was a lovely patch of lavender. We noticed something buzzing around in the flowers. Katie is a bit scared of bees, so I went to check it out for her. It looked like a tiny hummingbird! I tried and tried to get a good  picture. Look closely at the picture below, just left of center.

hummingbird-moth-in-lavender

I did a little research on what I thought was a tiny hummingbird. It turns out that what I saw was a hummingbird moth! Here is some good old Wikipedia info for you. I thought it was cool and had fun trying to capture it in a picture.

When we got back to the B & B we decided to stroll around the little village a bit.

sutters-and-flower-boxes

village

french-barn

currants

The currants were beautiful!

We stayed in Alsace a little while and took day trips to the town of Riquewihr and the Haut Koenigsesbourg Castle. Hopefully, I will get around to sharing those pictures one day, too!

As we left our quaint little B & B to head to Paris, we stopped to snap a few more vineyard photos.

vineyard-sign

young-grapes

The grapes were far from ripe. I’d love to go back during harvest time.

vineyards-in-alsace

Oh, I almost forgot to share the artwork we had printed for the kitchen!

windowbox-art

custom-art

The canvas is actually a little larger than the actual window was! You can see the original photo above with the other photos of the bed and breakfast.

I liked this photo because it reminded me of all the window boxes we saw while in Europe! I loved them! This picture kinda felt like it was part of our kitchen. The wall in the photo kinda matches our cabinets. We ordered the print from a place called canvasdiscount.com. When we ordered it we had the option of ordering a hanging kit. We had not planned to order it originally. However, it was only a few bucks, and by ordering it, we were bumped into the category of getting free shipping. Ordering more saved us money!

Well, that is all for now. I’m ready to go back to Alsace!!

I guess you could say I am sentimental. Ha! Understatement of the year!

We lost our microwave this past February.

vintage microwave

It was good to us.

(Sorry about the messy kitchen in the reflection. Yikes! I guess I was too grief-stricken to notice at the time.)

This Hotpoint had been my mother’s first microwave.

hotpoint

It was passed on to me and my husband as we started our home as newlyweds in 1992.

This baby was with us and as our babies grew into teenagers, residing in three different states!

The microwave was always an unexpected conversation piece.

controls

The analog dial charmed all of our friends.

The size was much larger than modern microwaves.

inside microwave

Of course, by the looks of it, I am surprised we don’t glow from excess microwaves!

But, alas, life goes on, and microwaves must be replaced.

new microwave

The new one is sleek and fancy.

The buttons aren’t nearly as charming as the dial. The beeping, that never stops when your food is finished cooking, is annoying. Our old microwave had a lovely, one time “ding”.  You could forget your reheated coffee for hours.

replacement

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