Thursday, November 11, 2021

Taco Soup For The Win

This crowd-pleasing recipe for Taco Soup comes from a dear friend, Cindy Jump, who is also an amazing person and cook. So many of my favorite recipes come from her. I have shared this recipe in previous posts but with so many recent requests, I decided to make a new post with a few tweaks that I have learned over the years. Enjoy! TACO SOUP 1 large onion, diced 3-4 cloves fresh garlic, minced 1-2 T olive oil 1 lb ground beef or turkey or no meat at all 2 packets taco seasoning mix 2 packets ranch seasoning mix 1-2 C Water 1-2 small cans mild Rotel 1 small (15 oz) can tomato sauce 1 small (15 oz) can diced tomatoes 2 cans white shoepeg corn (yellow corn works well, also) 4-6 (15 oz size) cans of any combination of beans (pinto, kidney, black, navy, white, etc) To prepare: Open all the cans of beans and corn, rinse well, and place in slow-cooker/crock-pot In a large skillet, on very low heat, saute the onion and garlic in olive oil. Add the onion first and garlic once the onions become soft and transparent. Remove from skillet when both a soft. Add ground beef to skillet and brown. Once ground beef is browned, add the onion and garlic. Next, add the packets of seasoning mix, water, Rotel, tomato sause and diced tomatoes. Stir well so the seasoning mix is blended in. Pour the ground beef mixture over the bean/corn mixture. Stir well. Simmer on high for 2-4 hours or low for 4-6 hours. Serve with shredded cheddar cheese, tortilla chips, and sour cream for toppings.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021


Just a couple of Wellington kids who grew up, re-connected and fell in love! 
We are beyond excited for Andrew and the love of his life, Jade, as they have announced their engagement and wedding for July of 2021.

Easter Soup

 What is better than Easter ham? Easter Soup!

Use the leftover spiral cut ham to make this yummy soup. The amounts are approximate and you can add other items and seasonings to your own tastes. Below is the basic recipe that I work with. 

2-3 C of ham chunks+ the bone for making broth 

3 C chopped carrots

1 large onion, diced

3-4 cloves of fresh garlic, minced

1-2 15 oz cans diced tomatoes

3-4 15 oz cans assorted beans ( I use great northern and kidney)

4 C (more or less) chicken broth/stock

The juice of 1 lemon (I like a little more)

1 Tbsp  of kosher coarse salt (I like a little more so you will need to taste as you season)

1/2 tsp of ground pepper


Steam the carrots and any other veggies like celery or green beans. Saute' the onion and garlic in small amount of olive oil.

Boil the ham bone and use about 1 cup of the broth in addition to the chicken broth. If you are in a hurry or don't have a ham bone, leave this step out.

Mix all in crock pot and adjust the seasonings as you mix, more salt, lemon, etc. Simmer all day and enjoy! 

Serve with warm bread, crackers, cheese, cornbread, etc.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Happy Birthday to My Mom

During this Covid-19 quarantine, I am celebrating my mom's Birthday today by NOT going to visit her in person.
Instead, I will share a few things about my mom that make her special. If you know her, you will agree and could easily add to this list:

1) She does not like being the center of attention. 
2) She is a "quiet giant", always looking for ways to serve others. Recently, I called and asked her what she was doing. Her reply, "I am preparing a meal to deliver to an old lady down the street." She rarely lets her own age limit her when she sees a need.
3) I have NEVER heard my mom gossip or say unkind things about other people. As I have grown older, I realize that she could have repeated so many wild stories and shared so many unkind words. She and my dad were leaders in the church, community, and business world so they clearly knew the good, bad, and ugly about people, yet did not share. Our family spent a lot of time driving in the car and as a child riding in the backseat, I never overheard negative stories, conversations, etc. I also never heard her speaking ill of others while she was on the phone. This is a one of the greatest gifts she has given me.
4) She taught me to live my faith, not just talk about it.
5) She has always prepared healthy meals at home. Growing up, I never went to a restaurant or fast food unless we were traveling. We never had soda, chips, etc in the house unless it was New Years Eve. The Birthday cakes, cookies, and breads were homemade. She still cooks fresh, nutritious meals every day.
6) She exercises daily. Recently, she was at our house and said she could not spend the night on Sunday as she needed to get home to be in her Monday morning Pilates class.
7) She loves music and has participated in choirs, quartets, trios, etc. As a young girl, I recall waking up to her practicing her scales. Her singing voice is angelic
8) She loves to play and learn new games. Scrabble, Boggle, Tile Rummy, Phase 10, and Scattergories, are some of her favorites. She also works on daily Crossword and Sudoko puzzles.
9) Do not call her during the "power hour" each evening aka when Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune air. Don't ask her to record it and watch later. In addition, she loves the Game Show Network.
10) She is always learning, reading, and studying new things.
11) Some of the jobs I remember her having are: working as a car-hop at a root beer drive-in restaurant, working at a grocery store bakery and at an ice-cream parlor that had 39 flavors, a school lunch lady at one of my elementary schools, working for Dun and Bradstreet providing credit report information, working in the office of the Atlanta LDS Temple. She was a PTA Room Mom, a Relief Society President 3 times, Primary President, Young Women President, my camp leader, my sister's girl scout leader, a coach for both of my brothers as they earned the Eagle Scout ranks, and so much more.
12) My family moved all over the United States as my dad's career was advancing. Several times, my mom set up house and started over in a completely new community, getting us enrolled in schools, etc. all the while not complaining. It was hard for all of us but her attitude took the edge off of those moves, always being the new kid in town, etc. ( I attended 11 different schools before graduating from High School)
13) She loves her family and will do anything for any one of us including dropping everything to hop on a plane and be at our sides in times of need, welcoming new babies, attending family milestone events. etc. During these times she cooks, bakes, plays games with the kids, and cleans our houses like they haven't been cleaned since the last time she visited.
14) As she grew up, her home life was chaotic at hands of an abusive father. She found peace in her faith and made a conscious choice to not bring abuse to her future family. She married my dad and they worked together to provide a positive, loving marriage and family life. Her choices have blessed my life every day.
I love my mom and I am grateful she is still here on this earth. I am looking forward to the time is is safe for us to hug and visit in person.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Wedding of Steven and Katherine

Saturday, March 21, amid the Covid-19 restrictions, Katherine and Steven were married. 
Their wedding went from small to smaller to very small but that did not stop them from having a beautiful memorable day. 

Their honeymoon cruise was cancelled and changes to menus, flowers, cake, photographers, clothing, etc., required flexibility.

In spite of all the changes, the most important of all happened... they have each other. 
They have a strong, sweet relationship that will continue to grow as the years go on. Their goals are  positive and they are moving forward together with love and harmony.

Many family members joined us through the miracle of Google and memories were created under extraordinary circumstances.

It was truly a special day for a special couple.
I love them dearly and am so happy they found each other.
Seeing my daughter so happy and loved makes my mamma heart smile.
They requested: 
Italian food, an arch, a tiered wedding cake, cheesecake cupcakes, 
and Katherine wanted tulips for her bouquet. 

All of those wishes were met, and more.
 This bike made a fun decoration!
 Steven has a WONDERFUL family. He is the middle of 3 sons. His parents have raised them to be good men, filled with ambition, direction, consideration, wisdom, kindness, and love.
 Covid-19 kept the flower girls from being able to attend. 
Andrew filled in and made for one of the more memorable moments of the day.
 Seeing Ron walk in with Katherine caught me off guard. I was so emotional seeing them on the way to meet Steven. 
 Steven loved his ring and was excited to show it off.
 This was Mr Cooper's first wedding and he loved every minute.
 The Cheesecake Cupcakes were out of this world.
They reminded me of my sister and I felt like she was close to me on this special day even though she was attending via Google.
Normally, Publix needs 3  weeks' notice for wedding cake orders.
The plan for their cake was that a family member was making it, but at the last minute, it was best they not travel and attend. With 3 DAYS' notice, Publix saved the day. Rather than a wedding cake, they called this a "graduation cake" and voila... they had their tiered wedding cake that was beautiful and delicious (and much less cost)
The day of the wedding, Steven and his mom decided he should get a new suit. Well.... not many places were open and there was no way he could get any alterations done. They went to Burlington and found a suit but NO fitting rooms were open due to COVID-19 restrictions. No problem, his mom created and temporary fitting room to shield him while he tried clothes on. When he found the right suit, he removed the tags, paid, and wore it out of the store. (He already had the shirt and tie)

 I love Katherine.
I am grateful she and Steven found each other.
Their happily ever after" is just beginning.


Yes, a blog post! 
I have discovered something so fabulous, it is worth the time to step out of "blog semi-retirement" and share. 
From the response to my recent Facebook post, I am certain this warrants a blog post...

Today's "Quarancleaning" project brought to you by 
By far, the most effective and easy way to clean grout.

See photos below for descriptions and cleaning method.
 Before and after
 AFTER! My tile grout is sparking clean!
I am giddy with excitement every time I look at it!
For best results, use the Mr Clean Magic Eraser extra durable not the Magic Erasers made for kitchen or bath.  Save your money and a lot of frustration by not using off-brands, they absolutely do not work on tough dirt. 
Each Magic Eraser comes in the shape of a rectangle. I cut each one in half, making a square. This made them easier to work with and get more cleaning out of each sponge.
Get the Magic Erasers damp, but not too wet, before using.

Before cleaning the grout with the Magic Eraser, I lightly sprayed with water. After cleaning with the Magic Eraser, I sprayed again with this cleaner and wiped away any residue. 
Very little scrubbing is involved and most of the time, it is not necessary to go over the grout multiple times.

Dear Magic Eraser,
I love you!
Thank you for making this sheltering-in-place, self-isolation, quarantine, Corona virus, Covid-19 season much easier as I tackle these much needed cleaning projects!

Monday, June 24, 2019

Fresh Salsa

Recently, I made a batch of fresh salsa that is exceptionally tasty. So tasty that I need to document the ingredients in word and photo:. This is mostly a note to self, but something I invite you to tryg

8-10 medium to large-ish fresh tomatoes, chopped
1/2 bunch of cilantro, chopped (more or less depending on your love of cilantro)
Juice of 1  large lime (more, if the limes are small)
1 small sweet onion, diced (about 1/2 cup) *I like to use green onion but did not have any for this batch.
2 large cloves of garlic
1 medium tomatillo
1 medium to small jalapeño (seeds removed
1 Tablespoon of salt (play with this, + or - depending on taste)
2 tsp sugar (could leave out but I notice an improvement in the flavor balance with this addition)

For the garlic, tomatillo, and jalapeño, I place them in a small coffee grinder to purée them (you can use a food processor, magic bullet, etc) After those 3 items are puréed, I took half of the diced onion and puréed it so there were not as many chunks of onion in the Salsa.

Stir this all together and serve with fresh tortilla corn chips from a market such as el Bodegon in the WPB area. Buy their freshly made flour tortillas while you are there!

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Cooking For a Crowd aka Girls Camp and Youth Conference

It can be intimidating to plan menus and and food amounts for large groups, especially group activities with multiple meals, snacks, and more than one day.
As a Camp Director, I am beyond grateful for Sister Wilson, our incredible Camp Cook.  The food, alone, is worth the week at Camp. Everything she cooks is homemade, fresh, healthy, and oh, so delicious!

Since not everyone has a Sister Wilson, this information from A Bountiful Kitchen will become one of your favorite resources for planning to feed large groups. Even if you have a Sister Wilson, this information may bring some new ideas.

Click HERE for her wisdom.

Happy Young Women Camp planning!

Seminary Moving Up Breakfast

With a few weeks left of school and Seminary, the days and nights are filled with end of the school year activities. My favorite end of the year activity is our “Moving Up” breakfast.  It is fun to invite the incoming Freshmen for a sneak preview of what happens at Seminary and it is emotional to think about the Seniors who walk out of the door, with their scriptures in hand, at the end of the breakfast.

Click HERE and HERE for full details on the Seminary Moving Up Breakfast.

This year will be extra emotional for me as my last child graduates. I have been using these same decorations (with a few additions) since my first child graduated in 1999.
His Seminary teacher, Kate Estey, asked me to organize an end of the year breakfast. She gave me the idea of the moving up, shifting to a new table, having the Seniors walk out the door with their Scriptures, and inviting the new students. I took it from there and have planned and organized this breakfast for many Seminary classes since that year, never thinking that in 2012, I would officially be a Seminary teacher.

Here I am, 5 years later as a Seminary Teacher, planning this exciting tradition, trying not to think about the fact that my baby is graduating and life, as I have known for 37 years, is going to change dramatically
These are photos from an obstacle course when we studied the New Testament.
They are not from the Moving Up breakfast but the messages are appropriate for how the end of the year feels.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Young Women Camp

As a mother, grandmother,  leader of youth, and specifically, Stake Young Women Camp Director, this would be my dream to plan.

If you are a parent or leader of youth, I challenge you to think "out of the box" and overcome the "this is the way we have always done it" thinking. 
It takes layers of people at every level of leadership to implement change.  There is so much fear of change and doing something for the first time. Don't be discouraged when someone initially tells you no. 
As a Stake Young Women Camp Director in an area that does not have the understanding or support for a change this drastic, I continue to add small changes each year toward more and more support of the young women I lead. 
We can do better for the girls we lead. We must do better for the girls AND boys we lead.