Category Archives: Uncategorized

Norma’s Pork Tacos

Upstate New York
Thursday, 11 February 2021

Original publication date: March 14th, 2016

My former mother-in-law, Norma, passed away recently. She was a great Mexican cook, and the one who taught me how to make these tacos.

They’re inexpensive to make, and pretty easy, but do require babysitting the second day they’re cooking, so pick out a time to make them when you’ll be around the house one evening, and into the next afternoon.

Her original recipe calls for a beef roast, but I discovered the kiddos like pork just as much, and it’s significantly cheaper. Chicken will work, as well.

Pick out a three to five pound pork roast, doesn’t matter if it has bones or not. Put it in the Crock-Pot on low, one night before going to bed, and fill it up halfway with water. Pour one packet of Lipton Onion Soup Mix in the water.

The next morning, pull the roast out of the Crock-Pot, using tongs or a big meat fork, and put it on a large plate or baking sheet with a rim. The meat should be easily falling off the bones at this point, so discard them and any big chunks of fat you see. Reserve the meat juice in the Crock-Pot.

Using two long-tined forks, shred the pork into strings and put it all in a large, heavy pan (cast iron Dutch oven if you have one), mixed with a jar of salsa. If you don’t have salsa, some chopped onion and a can of tomatoes will work just fine.

Pour the reserved meat juice over the mixture and let simmer on the back burner for hours and hours, stirring occasionally, until the salsa and juice incorporate into the meat. Your house will smell sooo good!

Quickly warm some small corn tortillas in oil in a frying pan, draining them on paper towels. Serve the shredded pork on them with your choice of salsa, guacamole, sour cream, shredded cheese, and shredded lettuce. And don’t forget the limes!

Double Decker Taco Bar

Simple Black Bean Nachos

Raj’s Black Bean Nachos

Easy Guacamole

Let’s Talk About Drinks, Baby…

Quarantine Cooking in the Year 2020: Fried Apples-n-Onions-n-Potatoes

Upstate New York  I  Sunday, 1 November 2020

This is a repost of a recipe originally published Thursday, 19 July 2018.

Yes, I did get a parking ticket, for forgetting to feed the meter, while writing the original post at a fabulous coffee shop called Rev, on Warren Street, In Hudson, NY.

It was worth it. A writer’s gotta write, and when inspiration strikes, you don’t let silly things like quarters and parking meters get in your way, to distract you.

This recipe is worth more than $35 to have finally documented, anyways. Ha!
(End of Author’s Note. Original post follows.)

If you’ve ever read Farmer Boy, by Laura Ingalls Wilder, you already know about fried apples and onions.

Farmer Boy is the story of Almanzo Wilder, the boy who grew up to become Laura’s husband. It takes place in 1866, in Malone, New York, which is on the eastern side of the state, very close to Canada. (Cold, brrr!)

Almanzo’s family was quite comfortable, especially when compared to Laura’s family, but they also worked very hard to make a success of their farm. Mrs. Wilder was a provident housewife, and Mr. Wilder was a smart and prosperous farmer. The children did their part, as well, and there was much work to be done.

The Wilders ate very well, and there was never a shortage of food at their house. As Laura writes the story, she takes great care to describe the food Almanzo and his family ate, and there was always a bountiful feast.

Compared with Laura’s family, Almanzo’s family was quite wealthy, and she describes their meals in dreamlike, wistful detail.

One of Almanzo’s favorite dishes, when he was a boy, was Fried Apples and Onions. In the book, Laura describes one time when he’s working very hard in the barns and fantasizing ahead to breakfast, just hoping his mother will make his favorite dish.

Then, when he finishes his chores and goes inside the farmhouse for breakfast, voila! His mother has made Fried Apples and Onions!

I’ve made this dish quite a few times before, starting with when I discovered The Little House Cookbook, by Barbara Walker, at my local library, while still living in Salt Lake City, Utah.

But then, many years ago, I started thinking about Grandpa Darrel’s Sheepherder Potatoes, which is a combination of fried potatoes and onions. I wondered what would happen if I combined the two recipes? Well, it turned out great!

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FAMILY TRADITIONS: Tree Cutting with the Lee Family

Weber County, Utah  I  Thursday, 28 December 2017

Build traditions of family vacations and trips and outings. These memories will never be forgotten by your children.
Ezra Taft Benson

I grew up in a military family, and traditions were an anchor. They were familiar when we found ourselves in strange lands, and as certain as we could depend on being uprooted, we could depend on traditions to restore balance in our lives.

I am a believer in traditions. I know they strengthen families.

After being married for a few years, and living in a place where getting our own Christmas tree became feasible, we embraced a tradition which had been a part of my relatives’ lives forever.

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FAMILY TRADITIONS: Aunt Jan’s Peanut Petit Fours

BY VALERIE BELDEN WILDER I  Columbia County, New York  I
Thursday, 21 December 2017

Yesterday and today, I’ve been working on a recipe for Aunt Jan’s Peanut Cookies, which I first posted about exactly one year ago, today.

The recipe, as her sister, Bonnie, had recorded it, didn’t seem to work very well when I tried it for the first time last year, so this year I set out on my own, without the recipe, trying to think way back to childhood, and remember what her Peanut Cookies were like.

Actually, the term “cookie” seems to be a misnomer for this treat. They really are more cakelike, so I’ve taken the liberty of renaming them Peanut Petit Fours.

So, this year, I decided to bake a white cake mix, instead of messing around with a recipe which calls for “butter the size of an egg”. I cut off the crusts and then cut the cake into small squares, then drizzled them with a peanutty, powdered sugar glaze.

If you look closely at the photo above, you’ll see I employed two methods: one was sprinkling the peanuts on top of the powdered sugar glaze. The other was mixing the peanuts directly into the glaze. Can you tell the difference? Which looks better?

And then, stab them with toothpicks. Because colored toothpicks always seem so festive, so cheerful, so ready for a party, just like Aunt Jan.

Here she is, with Uncle Ed, on a trip to Hawaii. Look at her dress! Isn’t she gorgeous? Isn’t he handsome? And the thing is, they were also NICE, and very generous, not only with their nieces and nephews, but with their friends, as well. I miss them.

The original post about Aunt Jan and her cookies:

Outlaw Pork Tacos


My former mother-in-law, who is Mexican, she taught me how to make these tacos. They’re pretty easy, but do require babysitting while they cook, so pick out a time to make them when you’ll be around the house one evening and into the next afternoon.

The original recipe called for a beef roast, but I discovered the kiddos liked pork just as much, and it’s significantly cheaper. Pick out a three to five pound roast, doesn’t matter if it has bones or not. Throw it in the Crock-Pot on low one night before going to bed and fill it halfway up with water. Dissolve one packet of Lipton Onion Soup Mix in the water.

The next morning, pull the roast out, using tongs or a big meat fork, and put it on a plate. The meat should be easily falling off the bones at this point, so discard them and any big chunks of fat you see. Reserve the meat juice in the Crock-Pot.

Using two forks, shred the pork into strings and put in a large pan, mixed with a jar of salsa. If you don’t have salsa, some chopped onion and a can of tomatoes will work just fine. Pour the reserved meat juice over the mixture and let simmer on the back burner for hours and hours, until the salsa and juice incorporates into the meat. Your house will smell sooo good!

Warm some small corn tortillas in oil in a frying pan, and serve the shredded pork on them with your choice of salsa, guacamole, sour cream, shredded cheese, and shredded lettuce. And don’t forget the limes!


Back to Reality

By Valerie Belden Wilder

I’m back here in Salt Lake and I feel like a fish out of water. I miss the rip-roaring red truck, the green landscape, the sleeping porch, the spaciousness of the house and yard, and the wonderful old houses.

The only fanlight I’ve seen in a week is the one over my stove. My electric stove. I miss my parents’ gas stove. It heats so much more quickly than an electric one.

It was nice to come back to my lil two-butt kitchen and my own dishes, though. It was NOT nice to come back to my refrigerator. Holy Hannah, how in the world did I forget I had a crisperful of cut-up watermelon slices? Well, at least they once WERE watermelon slices, I’m not sure what they were when I found them, two months later.

Ewww. My fridge was thoroughly disgusting and smelled awful. I cleaned out the bad stuff and put a small and open bowl of baking soda in there, and things are better now.

Not even feeling worthy to blog on household issues at this point…

I missed my recycling bin. That neat little rectangle-shaped blue bin. All I have to do is tie off the bag and put it by the front door on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, and it mysteriously gets picked up. They even supply me with a new bag. I’ve never even seen the guys (or girls) who do it. It’s magic, I swear!

I have hundreds, maybe thousands, of photos I took in New York, in Massachusetts on our trip to the Atlantic Ocean, and finally, on our drive cross country back here. It’s gonna take a while to go through them and delete the bad ones, and categorize them into folders for easy finding. But I can’t wait to share them with you, and to place pictures into my old posts.

Gotta go get in the shower now and get ready for church. But I’ll be thinking. How and where do I fit into this world? What people, and what things make me happy? What things make my heart sing with joy?

I’m pretty sure old houses with fanlights over the front door are a good starting point…

Cross-Country Campfire

I’m sitting on the edge of a motel bed 600 miles from my home in Salt Lake City, wearing the aforementioned frumpy pink gingham nightgown, along with a charcoal grey sweatshirt which smells like campfire.

My sweet boys are still slumbering, all messy headed and sprawling. They need to go back to school in two weeks, and aren’t even registered. Thing 1 will be a Senior in high school, and Thing 2 is leaving behind our beloved elementary school to head off to junior high.

Many, many cookies will be in order to help us all through this transition.

But back to my sweatshirt. I did all our laundry, last minute, before we left on this road trip from New York to Utah, but I purposefully didn’t wash the sweatshirt. I wanted to carry that campfire smell with me cross country, so I could close my eyes, and smile, and breathe in deeply, and remember…

Saying Goodbye

By Valerie Belden Wilder

I’m blogging right now from a shady spot behind the Philmont Public Library, in the driver seat of the rip-roaring red truck, typing by tapping pathetically on the little touch screen of my nook. How I love the feel of a traditional keyboard.

The nook is balanced on the steering wheel. I have my cassettes I purchased at Goodwill nearby: Greatest Hits of Journey and Chicago, Jon Secada, Seal, and Kenny G. My boyfriend, Black Beauty, he’s riding shotgun.

It breaks my heart to know we’re leaving this place soon, most likely Friday morning…

This morning I showered and took out the compost. I can never do this quickly, because it invariably leads to wandering around the property. I decided to meander over past the cat tail swamp to the the ginormous raspberry bush which is behind the old chicken coop, behind the garden where Dad and Thing 1 dug the post holes.

I need to put on the rubber boots and tramp down the grass around that thing, because right now I can only reach a few berries, and there are gazillions, taunting and tempting me from behind the long grass. I’m not sure how I’ll bring myself to buy berries from a supermarket, once we get back to Salt Lake.

After that, I wandered over to Grandma Sweetie and said goodbye, then over to bend down and peer under a lilac bush, to a pile of bricks, some loose, some held precariously together with ancient mortar, cracked and crumbling back to the earth, from whence they came.

They bear the maker name of Empire, and constitute the remains of the Anatevka chimney. New York is known as the Empire State…

I then ambled down the old driveway, grown over with grass, down to Grandpa Blackberry. I studied the hundreds of acorns decomposing underneath, and the giant, blackened, petrified mushrooms growing from the trunk base.

I kissed him goodbye, I did, firmly on his rough trunk, thinking it a sandpapery, white-whiskered old face. I longed to linger and hear the stories he had to tell, stories of petticoats and pedal pushers, denim overalls and delicate lace, tears of joy and tears of pain, all shed in his shade, watering his lovely, wise, deep roots…

But then I heard a car coming down the road, and realized I was still in my nightgown, like a wandering, lunatic old lady. So I hid behind the considerable girth of the tree trunk, and the driver didn’t even look my way. Whew!

Then, on to the two pines by the barn. I wanted to name them the Twin Pines, but I realized something for the first time, they’re two different types of pines. Sticky sap was stuck to one trunk, and as I examined it, I saw a long, slashing scar. Lightning, perhaps? This would be the perfect place for a hammock. In good weather, of course.

And onward. To the big red barn. I dared not go in, because this would lead to hours and hours of exploration, resulting in having to take another shower. But I did touch the milkhouse door, examine the blistering, weathered paint, and put my hand on the door handle. The same handle I used to push the door open when I was a curious, little girl.

Regretfully, home. I wandered back across the front lawn, over to the milk can mailbox, checking inside for forgotten mail. It was empty, so I walked up the driveway. I saw the giant tulip tree, which my sisters and I posed under for black-and-white photographs as tiny children. I was a baby, then, and the property was new to us…

Regretfully, I must go now. I need to get gas at Cumberland Farms, drop off our soda cans at Mellenville Coarc for a deposit refund, then head to the transfer station and drop off two bags of recyclables and one bag of trash. Just as I’m getting this whole country living thing down, it’s time to head back to the city.

And, lastly, a stop off at the farmstand on Route 9H, just south of the light. You know the one. The one without a sign, and manned by a farm wife about my age, her daughter, and her sister. The farmstand with ears of the sweetest corn on the cob on the back of a wooden trailer…

On Bridal Wreath Bushes and Blogging

By Valerie Belden Wilder

I spent two hours the other morning, whacking away at a bridal wreath bush which was invading my precious screened-in front porch, creeping up the left side of the house and over the railing of the porch. I made two huge piles of brush to be hauled away, which Thing 2 was supposed to help me haul away, when it cooled down.

But, after we ate a very late lunch/early dinner and I washed up the mountain of dishes, wiped the cheerful yellow Formica counters, and cleaned the built-in silver stove, guess what? It started to rain, clearing a bit of mugginess, but soaking the brush piles. The ones we were going to haul away.

So, yay. Instead of hauling brush and then taking a much-deserved, much-needed shower, there I sat, writing on the front porch. Again. Or was it still?

Pruning the bridal wreath bush took two hours. I decided it’d be a great idea to do it in full heat of day, from 11 am to 1 pm. At first I was snipping pathetically at the ends of errant branches, until I realized it would be much more productive to get right down to the root of the problem and beginning pruning down low.

Amazing how one little branch with a diameter of about an inch can shoot out so many smaller branches full of green, twisting and turning and invariably going exactly where they shouldn’t, right over painstakingly painted surfaces, obscuring them and subjecting them to dampness and moss and decay.

So, after two hours of whacking, it got so hot I had to take a sit down on the old Victorian sofa, jug of cold green Kool-Aid nearby. Because I’m fancy like that. I asked Thing 2 to bring me a laptop and my camera, too tired to move, and he did. I popped the camera SD card into the computer and started watching a slide show of photos from the trip, and promptly fell asleep. For two hours.

When I woke up, Mom had made hamburgers, a late lunch, and they were on the table. So, all I did that whole entire day was trim one bush and clean up the kitchen.

Well, that morning before breakfast, I DID edit out a bunch of photos. My dang camera card keeps filling up at the speed of light, and, while it’s fun to look at my photos, it’s a real pain to cull out the bad ones, the duplicates, and the many I so brilliantly shot which are full of glare, blurriness, lacking a focal point, or plumb full of poles, poles, and more poles, smack dab in the middle of the photo, not to mention dangling utility wires everywhere, ruining the shot, along with unaware strangers in awkward poses.

This camera, I love it so. I call it my boyfriend, and he has a name, Black Beauty. He goes absolutely everywhere with me, hanging around my neck, waiting patiently for direction. He does just what I say. And I love him so very much, my camera, my little advanced point-and-shoot, this Fujifilm x30.

I used to have a very good friend. One who came back into my life at an unexpected time, right as I separated from my husband and was reeling in unbelief that my marriage simply had to end. I was 46 when we separated, but first fell in love with him when I was 19, a mere teenager.

Suddenly, I was free to do what I wanted, to see who I wanted, and to dump piles of stuff on his side of the bed: clothes and CDs and books and hand lettering projects, and all kinds of stuff of my own. I literally filled his side of the bed with inanimate things, things I loved, things which wouldn’t break my heart.

Flash forward a year-and-a-half, Christmas 2014. I’d moved to a newer and much smaller apartment with my dear Thing 1 and Thing 2, and used my old GE camera, the one with the broken flash, to shoot an album of holiday photos. The flash had been broken since Thing 2’s school Christmas program, three years prior.

I remember the exact moment it happened. Religious about using the camera’s wrist strap, I took it off to shake Mr. B’s hand, Thing 2’s third-grade teacher. The kids had been singing, accompanied by him and another teacher on guitar. The problem was, the song got away from the guitarists. The kids got going faster and faster, and the teachers couldn’t keep up. It was hilarious and heartwarming. After the program, I wanted to shake his hand and share a laugh with him about the song going delightfully awry. So I shook his hand, and BAM! The camera fell to the floor, breaking the flash.

Oh, sure, I could still use the camera, if it was outside, or inside with precisely the right lighting conditions. But it was never quite the same.

Last Christmas I set up an area in my living room I loved. Over on the windowless east wall, by the front door, I had my art bench, a low and sturdy bench which houses all my art, design, and architecture books. They’re too tall and heavy for my bookcases, but fit perfectly in this bench. And overhead, I hung a wooden shelf with three pegs. When we moved into our new apartment, I lamented the loss of our gas fireplace with mantel, with four hooks screwed in by my ex-husband, perfect. We could finally hang our stockings by the chimney with care.

The wooden shelf had three pegs, and now there were just three of us, so up went the Christmas stockings. Anyhoo, I wanted so much to take a few pictures of the kids, sitting on the art bench, underneath our Christmas stockings, but I couldn’t, because I simply could not get the lighting conditions right to take a photo and have it turn out. So disappointed.

But I was determined to take some other photos: of our short little Christmas bush, of an oil lamp, of some Chewy-Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies (a whole different story in and of itself), of our New Year’s Eve snacks, and finally, of our delicious New Year’s Day dinner. I took a ton of photos, chose the very best, and posted them on Facebook in an album. I was really proud of them, especially since they’d been taken with the broken camera.

This album got a lot of likes and comments, and I kept coming back to the photos and looking at them, again and again, thinking they might be pretty good, but not quite sure. My sister, after seeing the pix, kept telling me I should start a blog. I had no idea how to do this, but she had several blogs herself and kept insisting. She came up with several names, but I already had one in mind, (Some day I’ll tell you the origin of the name.) She searched it and yay, it was available!

So, as an early birthday present to me, in January, I became owner of my domain name.

I mentioned I had a friend, right? A special one, a friend who listened to me as I ranted and raved about the end of my marriage, waxed eloquent about my love of architecture, cooking, my kids, and life in general. This friend was the very first person I told about my domain.

I started a notebook of ideas and carried it with me everywhere, on the TRAX train to work, into the kitchen, even writing down ideas while soaking in a long, hot tub on my days off. The bathroom seems to be the only place I can really think, come up with ideas, and even get a modicum of peace. And yes, I’ve fallen asleep many times while writing and have water-stained corners on the notebook to prove it.

I knew I wanted to launch in a mere month, on my 48th birthday, February 14th, 2015. I needed to have more than one post, a series of Valentine’s-themed posts for launch. I knew I wanted it to be more than a cooking blog, because there are so many of them already out there, I wasn’t sure I could really contribute something new or different to the cooking blog scene.

But what I could do, what I felt I COULD do, was help teach people how to make things pretty and tasty on a very small budget. I wanted to feature only unique recipes, ones I hadn’t really seen in a lot of cookbooks or magazines already. Purple Party Punch and Buttermilk-Chocolate Sheet Cake are two of my very favorites, so I started with them and went from there.

I worked fast and furious until my deadline of February 14th. I have this problem, and maybe you have it too. I want to do everything perfectly, and often abandon projects midstream and move onto something else, before I can complete them perfectly. I knew if I didn’t set this self-imposed deadline, and ANNOUNCE it on my personal Facebook page, it might not ever become reality.

So I cooked and decorated, schemed and dreamed, wrote and shot (and wrote and shot some more and more and more). The weekend of my birthday and blog launch was fast approaching, and I had taken a few days off from work, to be spent at my parents’ house, in northern Utah, with my boys.

The night of February 13th, I still wasn’t done, the blog wasn’t ready. But I was determined to make my 8 am deadline, come hell or high water, high snow or low spirits at being unattached at this romantic time of year. I stayed up all night, formatting furiously, editing a gazillion typos, rubbing my eyes, praying for completion and much-needed sleep.

I launched 40 minutes earlier than my 8 am goal, at 7:20 am. It’s one of the few goals I have ever actually reached. And then I crashed proudly into bed, exhausted and happy, 48 and single.

I mentioned my friend, right? I asked him what he thought of my blog that Sunday night after launch, and he told me it looked polished and professional, words I longed to hear, especially from someone whose opinion and friendship I valued so highly.

But then, he said my photos looked grainy. He’s a wonderful photographer, so I took his opinion in high regard. I explained how my camera was broken, and asked what kind of camera should I get to take my photo game up a few notches?

I knew I had a tax return coming. I wanted a better camera and told him I was prepared to get one, asked his opinion on what brand to buy. He looked around online and came back, several weeks later, telling me to get a Fujifilm x30, which was in my price range, without a lot of troublesome lenses, and small enough to be extremely portable.

He told me to read the professional reviews, but I didn’t. (Puh-leeze! If you’re going to format your camera review entirely in white text on a black background, I am NOT going to read it!!!) His opinion was all I needed.

And then, my dear friend, he went the extra mile, he did. He went to ebay, something I have never done and have no idea how to do, and bought the camera, for less than two-thirds the retail price, telling me I could buy it from him if I wanted to.

I immediately said yes!

But then I worried. Maybe he wanted the camera for himself? I asked him if he wanted to keep it. And then he said it, words near and dear to my heart. He said he wanted the camera, but I NEEDED it. So he boxed it up and shipped it out, all the way from New York to Utah, and I paid him back with some of my tax return…

Blogging makes me so happy.

I’ve always loved writing, always been told by teachers and friends I had a talent. I first wrote in a diary at the age of eight, and have been pretty faithful with my entries, ever since. Looking back, I realized it’s probably been ten years now, ten years before the blog, ten years I’ve been cooking Sunday dinners, styling them, and taking photos with my old cameras.

I’ve been reading Martha Stewart Living magazine for close to twenty years now, trying to learn from her and their talented staff, learn how to make things pretty, but on my own and very limited budget. At work, on my breaks, I love to read dozens of cooking and decorating magazines and get new ideas. So I guess I’ve been in training for this blog a very long time.

So today, I salute the two people who made it happen for me. My sister, Chris, for encouraging me to start blogging, buying me the domain name, and teaching me the basics of WordPress.

I love her so, for seeing potential in me and MAKING me do this. I really had no choice…

And my dear friend, Mike, I owe him a debt of gratitude for playing matchmaker, for introducing me to my boyfriend, my soulmate, my camera.

I love it so, and love him for helping me get it.

And I love and salute you, dear readers, for caring about my musings on living, cooking, parenting, decorating, exploring, and entertaining. I hope and pray I’ve contributed a little something of interest to each and every one of your lives, whether it be a delicious recipe, a new outlook on life and exploring it, or an inexpensive and different decorating idea.

I’m having a blast. Thanks for reading, for the feedback and encouragement, and thank you for caring. And thank you for contributing, Copper Rockets. Blog on!!!

Thing 2’s Baptism Luncheon

By Valerie Belden Wilder

My younger son was baptized into our church last Saturday, and it was a great day! I’d been hoping and planning for this day for several years now, including the luncheon to follow, to be held at our tiny, beloved, red-brick church.

My dad said all I needed to have, all they ever served after a baptism was punch and cookies. I usually listen to my dad. But did I listen this time?

Heck no! Thing 2 is my youngest and I was gonna do this up right. Besides, the baptismal program would be over right around noon, lunch time, and with the distances people have to travel to get to church around here, I knew we should have food afterwards.

People would be hungry, and besides, some of our dearest and oldest church friends would be in attendance.

The kindly English lady, D, with a glorious fluff of white curls, my mom’s best New York friend, the lady who taught the children’s class when I was five years old. I’d asked her to speak, and she’d said yes, even though she was scheduled for hand surgery that same week.

BTW, she also bakes the best gingersnap cookies EVER.

And K, the lady who taught me when I was a teenager, and became like a big sister to me, since all my own sisters had left home at this point. She and her husband, J, newly married and new members of our church back then, they had a little boy I babysat for, back when they lived in an apartment so tiny the bed took up the entire master bedroom.

J’s sister would be there, too, leading the singing and giving a prayer.

R and her husband, B, they would be participating in the program, too, playing the organ and leading the program, respectively.

My mom says R always rescues her when she gets into a jam. R and B have been so inclusive of my Thing 1 since we’ve been here, even finding us an old bike to ride. B came over to get a currant bush from my dad and told us how to fix an old bike I found in the barn. Apparently WalMart had put it together wrong. So friendly and caring, this couple.

These people I know and love, these people who take care of my folks as if they were their own parents, I wanted to feed these dear people. And so I started three days early, shopping and chopping, boiling and mixing.

Besides, I hosted a luncheon after Thing 1’s baptism and you really can’t do for one and not the other, right? So, here’s what we had to eat…


Chicken Salad Finger Rolls
Churchy Corn Chowder
Cashew Cauliflower Pasta Salad
Fruit Salad in a Watermelon Basket
White Sheet Cake with Lemon Filling
Purple Party Punch

(The Purple Party Punch recipe was featured in this blog back in February and the Cashew Cauliflower Pasta Salad ran in May. Check ’em out.)

Anyhoo, it take a lot of planning and work to make a party look easy. You know you’ve done it right when people think you kind of effortlessly threw it together in minutes.

Making it look simple takes hours and years of dreaming, then converting those dreams to reality. Then, once the plan is finalized, it takes more hours of planning and preparation and plain, hard work.

There were a few things I should have done differently. I’m reviewing these mistakes in my head and learning from them. Next time will be even better. But…

The reward comes in that moment. You know the one. The moment when the buffet is beautifully covered with a light blue tablecloth and spread with food prepared from your favorite recipes. The go-to ones. The recipes everyone raves about and asks for. The recipes I love and live to blog about.

The moment when you see the side table with the gorgeous cake and a punch bowl of frothy purple delight, being eagerly dipped into.

That moment when all the work is done. That moment when you sit down, exhausted and happy, and the room becomes silent, as people are taking their first bites of your creations.

That moment when you realize you somehow set up your tables with the precise number of chairs needed. That moment when J and Thing 2 cut the beautiful and luscious cake your high school friend made and met you at the end of a dark and treacherous country road at 10 pm the night before, met you to deliver. And with a smile on her face, even.

That moment when the room is small and warm and full of love and joy. That moment I live for, feeding those I love so much.

Photographs to follow at a later date.