Italian Meat Loaves

My amazing friend, Betsy, brought these little meat loaves to us after the birth of our son.  We have made them often since then, and I always appreciate the yummy meal as well as the sweet memory of my thoughtful friend.

By the way, that son Betsy helped us celebrate is making this recipe for supper tonight.  He’s (gasp!) fourteen now and will eat more than his share of these tasty meatloaves with multiple helpings of the peas and mashed potatoes he’s making to accompany them.  I asked him if he wanted to make the loaves in heart shapes for Valentine’s Day; he declined.

2 eggs, beaten
3/4 c. cracker crumbs
1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. grated parmesan cheese
1/4 c. finely-chopped onion
1 t. Worcestershire sauce
2 cloves garlic
1 t. salt
1 t. Italian seasoning
2 lbs. ground beef, pork or turkey (or a combination)
1/4 c. ketchup or barbecue sauce

In large bowl, combine eggs, crumbs, milk, cheese, onion, Worcestershire, garlic, salt and Italian seasoning.  Add ground meat and mix well.

Shape into 10 mini loaves; place on rack in a shallow pan.  (A broiler pan works great!)

Drizzle ketchup or barbecue sauce over mini loaves.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40-55 minutes, or until no pink remains.

These little guys freeze beautifully both before and after baking.


Daisy’s Doin’s, Day 57

Well, this should be the last blog regarding Daisy’s first litter.  All but one of the puppies are adjusting to their new homes, receiving MUCH more individual attention than our family could give them.  The remaining pup is Belle, and her Texas family has asked us to keep her until they can get up here for her in mid-March.  Belle plays hard and sleeps hard.  As a matter of fact, she was ready for bed early in the first half of last night’s Super Bowl.


Belle all zonked out.

As promised, Daisy Mae got her spa day today.  We shaved off her matts, trimmed her face, clipped her nails and gave her a warm bath.  She looks pretty naked, but she seems to be enjoying the freedom of her new do.  She’s been running around like a nutjob, which landed both her and Liberty (aka Libby), our 7-month-old standard goldendoodle, in a time-out.


Miss Daisy, fresh from the tub and posing for a picture.

Libby is growing at a fairly rapid rate right now, and she has a tough time keeping tabs on all of her body parts at once.  When she plays rough, furniture and lamps can get a bit knocked about.  Daisy can now duck under Libby, which leaves Liberty confused and keeps all of us entertained.  At one point during the big game last night, Belle was playing under Daisy, and Daisy was playing under Libby–while Libby was trying to watch them both.  Craziness.


Even Liberty got an all-over comb and a face trim this morning.

Although Gracie is shouldering the biggest part of the potty-training load with Miss Belle, it definitely takes a village.  Belle’s doing pretty well, but she has to be watched every single minute.  And, she’s currently not too crazy about time alone.  Littermate withdrawal is a terrible thing for a puppy.

All in all, Daisy’s first litter was a success.  Daisy proved to be a great momma and maintained her health throughout.  The pups enjoyed good health and are now welcome additions in some fantastic families.  The kids made back their investment with money in the bank, and they learned a lot about responsibility, teamwork and business in general.  And, our family made some new friends along the way–folks we may have never met if it weren’t for these furry babies.  We are truly blessed.


Selfishly Slogging Along

I am a selfish person, and my understanding of the depth of my selfishness increases with my age.  I would really love to die to this nasty habit once and for all and just get it over with!  It would be like Abra cadabra:  New creature made perfect!!  One…two…three…DIE, Selfishness, DIE!

I don’t think that worked.  I guess I will have to wait for Heaven.

So, I continue to slog along with my selfish, sinful self, trusting that You can use me as I am–incomplete, imperfect, somewhat short-sighted and disgustingly self-absorbed–but willing to be better for You.  I thank You, Lord, for Your loads of mercy and Your patient grace…and Your willingness to see me through the perfection of Your Son.

Blue Cheese Dressing

Years ago, when Dave and I were in college, we occasionally took advantage of some of our long weekends to head over to see his aunt, Mary, who lives in a log home in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.  There is always lots of beautiful sunlight streaming in through the windows, and her front porch offers a perfect place to chat while inhaling the pungent fragrance of the dozens of evergreens that fill the property.  Although I don’t have the opportunity as often as I’d like, Aunt Mary’s house is one of my favorite places to visit.  It’s a little piece of heaven with its beauty and tranquility.  Even more amazing than the mountain setting is Aunt Mary herself.

From the moment I met this tiny, independent woman, I knew she loved me.  Her acceptance of me was made immediately apparent by the warmth in her eyes and the smile on her face.  She was genuine and comfortable, and I count her among the great benefits of marrying my husband.

Along with Aunt Mary being an all-around delightful person, she is a gracious hostess.  Her homemade crescent rolls and hot cross buns were such a treat for Dave and me.  She was the first person I ever knew to serve fresh, minced garlic in her tossed salads–which was quite a surprise to me the first time I tried it!  Not wanting to hurt her feelings, I agreed to also try her homemade blue cheese dressing during our first visit.  I was pretty sure that I did not like blue cheese dressing, but she seemed so sincere in her offer that I didn’t have the heart to refuse.  Let’s just say that I was an immediate convert.  I have been enjoying blue cheese ever since.

I was recently gifted with a 5-lb. bag of blue cheese crumbles.  My first thought was, “Yum!  I’m going to treat myself to some of Aunt Mary’s blue cheese dressing!”.  I’ve made it three times since then, because I keep sharing it with other people who find they like it as much as Dave and I do.  Just in case you want to give it a try, I’m passing Aunt Mary’s recipe along to you.  It’s not as amazing as she is, but I think you’ll like it just the same.

1/2 c. blue cheese crumbles
1 c. mayo
1/2 c. sour cream (or plain yogurt)
1-2 cloves minced garlic
2 T. finely-diced green onion (or regular onion)
1 T. wine vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
1 T. lemon juice
1 t. sugar
I also often add a dash or two of Worcestershire sauce.

Mix well, cover and chill.

Use it as a vegetable dip, a salad dressing, a topping for your burgers or whatever else suits your fancy. This recipe is very forgiving, so don’t worry about getting all of the measurements exact.

Gimme A Break

I think I’d been living under the delusion that I should not need a break.  I mean, really:  How can a strong, capable woman need a break from her amazing life?

Well, she can get tired.

I’m tired.

I truly have almost everything I have ever wanted in this life.  I have Jesus in my heart.  I have a husband who is 100% committed to me.  I have three healthy, gifted children.  We have a nice home, a supportive extended family, solid friendships, fulfilling ministries and on and on and on.  I really do have it all.

But, man!  I’m tired!

When I had three children under the age of five, I was physically wiped out by 4:00 almost every afternoon.  My kids were fun little preschoolers!  They were energetic and creative and well-mannered and energetic and smart and, well, energetic.  I didn’t sleep well in those years.  My senses were on high alert through every night.  Did the baby need fed? Was someone getting sick?  Did I hear crying?  I mostly catnapped my way through those years, always ready for the solid sleep of the dead that my husband managed to enjoy almost every single stinkin’ night.  (What was up with that?!)

Now, I have three teenagers.  They are amazing.  Remarkable.  So very gifted.  They can be so much fun, and they can make me laugh hard enough to shoot my drink through my nose.  I love, love, love my time with them!  While there have been uncertain moments, never in my life has a day gone by when I have regretted any financial and career “sacrifices” we have made for me to stay home with them.  I love them to the very core of my being, and there is no other way I’d rather spend my days than as their momma.

But I’m still tired.

While my parenting game used to be primarily physical, it is now more mental, emotional and spiritual.  Childhood misbehavior was so black-and-white.  Toys were not picked up.  Siblings were pinched.  Lies were told.  Rules were clearly broken.  Consequences were quickly dealt.  The expectations were clear on both ends.

Snuggles, cuddles, made-up songs and silly games were acceptable forms of communication, and public displays of affection were perfectly acceptable.

Things are just different.  Not better.  Not worse.  Just different.  I’ve found that while they are adjusting to all of the internal and external changes they’ve got going on, I am adjusting as well.  I’m learning new likes, new dislikes, figuring out more effective ways to communicate, adapting to their more adult-ish personalities while still allowing for them to be kids.

People used to warn me about the teenage years with a “You just wait…!” mentality.  I resented that.  I refused to anticipate that my kids were going to be trouble just because they were teens.  I didn’t think it was fair to the kids.  I still don’t.  The uncertainty that affects most teens is normal.  They are often just insecure with so much.  Perfectly capable young people doubt the value of their own existence during this season of their lives.  I think the danger during this season of parenting is to take it personally.  It’s easy to do, because it seems so personal.  I mean, we are the ones who see the good, the bad and the ugly, right?  We are the safe place for them to let those insecurities fly in whatever form seems right at the time.  Is their behavior normal?  Yes.  Always acceptable?  Um, no.

The truth is, neither is mine.  When my kids were little, and I was so irrationally exhausted that I could (and would) cry (and quite possibly scream) over spilled milk, my kids gave me an awful lot of grace.  Their sweet faces still smiled, their soft lips still offered kisses, and their chubby arms still wrapped my neck in hugs.  Although I strove to teach them grace back then, they naturally modeled the concept much more clearly and easily than I did.  The purity of a child’s love is a miraculous thing.

This is why it’s so important now for me to take a break.  I need time every day to bask in the love of my Heavenly Father so that I can call on His unconditional love.  I need wisdom.  I need clarity.  I need Truth.  I need strength.  He makes all of these things–and so much more–available to me as I seek them.

And, sometimes I need a change in scenery–a walk outside, coffee with a friend, lunch with my siblings or an overnight with my mom.  The fact is that this parenting journey is an exhausting one.  I believe that it is a spiritual battle, one in which the stakes are high.  I need to do whatever I need to do to stay the course.  I am not called to be a friend to my kids.  I am called to be their momma.  And parenting takes a special kind of commitment.

Lord, thank You for equipping us to do the job You’ve called us to do.  Even more, thank You for giving us the privilege of helping to raise these extraordinary children.




Daisy’s Doin’s, Day 50

Good news from the vet today:  Daisy’s puppies are perfect!  (Well, duh!)  Their sweet faces captured the hearts of everyone there, and the doctor was pleased with their good health.  Five of the six took their shots without a complaint.  Macy, however, gave the fiercest growl she could muster, which only resulted in chuckles from her assailants.  From then on, Macy was referred to as “that sassy girl”.  Ha!!

Even better news for our family is that Miss Daisy Mae is in excellent health.  The vet and two techs were oohing and ahhing over how sweet and gentle and pretty she is.  Daisy promptly rolled over on her back and let them rub her belly as they sang her praises.  The vet and I agreed that, after the pups go home this weekend, Daisy gets a spa day.  Were going to give her a new “do” (to get rid of the matts in her fur), a soak in the tub and a pedicure.

As I type this, all 6 fur balls are running, romping and racing around our kitchen and dining room, sounding remarkably similar to a herd of rhinoceros.  These little ones are almost impossible to wear out; their energy seems to increase by the hour.  The good news is that they pile up and sleep hard at night.  A tired puppy is a well-behaved puppy.  🙂

Daisy’s Doin’s, Day 46

Today’s warmer temperatures and magical (yes, magical) sunshine made for a perfect opportunity to get the puppies out and about for exercise and potty-training.  The little ones enjoyed running around outdoors, playing follow the leader and King of the Mountain.  (Isaac was more than happy to be the mountain.)

Have you ever picked out the perfect gift for someone’s birthday?  Maybe you found the gift early and could hardly wait until it was time to see them open it.  That’s kind of how I’m feeling about these puppies.  I can hardly wait to present them to their new families!  They are so sweet and so much fun and just soooo…perfect!  We know they will bring many smiles and lots of joy to their new homes (along with some sleepless nights, puppy bites and possibly even a few wet socks).

Daisy has enjoyed the sunshine today.  She and I both took a nap this afternoon after a long inside romp with the pups.  I then took Papa Butch on a very long walk around our 20 acres and through the woods.  I enjoyed the exercise, and he enjoyed the freedom to stop and smell every weed and stick that drew his attention.

I just peeked in on the pups, and they are all piled up together in their cage, drunk with exercise and sunshine.  A tired puppy is a well-behaved puppy.