I found some lovely verses from the Song of Solomon today and they made my heart sing...
"Don't you see? The winter is done. The rains and clouds have come and gone. The flowers are unfolding in the fields; the birds are warming up their songs, the cooing of the turtledove is heard throughout the land." Song of Solomon 2:11-12
Even the seasons announce the glory of God. What a perfect and wise God we serve. It is He that makes each season of the year beautiful and glorious. It is He who makes sure everything about Him is reflected in His creation. He leaves nothing undone.
As I watch my tulip tree bloom, I know rebirth is happening. As I see the beauty of daffodils waking from their winter slumber, my hope in a loving Risen God is rejuvenated. As I look forward to the unfolding beauty of the lane just across from my "cottage", I am refreshed, renewed, revived.
God is good.
I'm always looking for good ideas for healthy and delicious meals. I tend to concentrate on the evening meal because traditionally, evening has always been the time of day I sit down with loved ones and dine. However, I've noticed that I am less than creative when it comes to the noon time meal. Lunch for me has been a quick run through a drive thru. My daughter in law, Carrie, says I've got to stay out of the drive through line and in fact, because of her aversion to the drive through, I NEVER call her while I'm in line or at least I try not to! Yesterday, my daughter, Blake, told me about something she's tried and it sounds like a great idea and something I can live with. You see, even my noon day meal has to be exciting and appealing. (I know, I know, then why do I find myself in a drive through every day?!) Blake told me about the salads she's been creating in Mason jars and how good, convenient and healthy they are. I decided to do a little research on packing lunch in a Mason jar and here's what I've found.
1. Salad if packed properly in a Mason jar will easily last 5 days…hey , that's the whole work week!
2. Packing properly is key. Here's the order from bottom to top.
Hardy veggies (tomatoes, cukes, peppers, carrots, broccoli, etc)
Less hardy veggies (beans, spouts, olives, mushrooms)
Meat and cheese
Nuts, croutons and such
3. Place the lid on the jar tightly to ensure freshness
4. Use GLASS jars.
And really, that's about it. After packing my lunch this morning, I sure wish the mason jar salad lunch had been my idea! I can't wait for lunch. Here's to happy, healthy, tasty lunches!
It's funny how a certain food can evoke good memories and in one bite, bring back times long gone. Yes, one whiff or bite of that certain food and the sweet times come flowing back to the senses; taste, touch, smell. The tastes of love are etched in many foods but in my family it is perhaps, strawberry cake that takes us back into the arms of loved ones gone on.
I remember my Mama baking and serving her famous strawberry cake from her warm little house on Copeland Street. Most often, Mama baked cakes just because she loved to bake and because she loved us. The strawberry cake was special because, she always baked my cousin, Debbie, a strawberry cake for her birthday in May. I remember many years ago calling my Mama one afternoon only to find that she and Debbie were in her kitchen baking her special cake. I was miles away and the thought of them being in Mama's cozy kitchen together made me long to be there. Strawberry cake was and still is synonymous with Mama's love.
A few years ago, I decided to make Mama's cake. The recipe was nowhere to be found. I talked to my Momma and Debbie about how Mama made her cake. Each of them had their own memories of how the cake was made but no exact recipe was to be found or remembered. So, I came up with a recipe that has to be very close to Mama's. One thing is for sure, it is a family favorite, loved and asked for by young and old. In fact, not too long ago, my four year old granddaughter, Laurel, put her little arm around me, looked straight into my eyes, and said; "Nana, I sure do love your strawberry cake." Oh and did I mention where we were? We were right smack in the middle of Disney World. I guess even Disney can't compete with that very special strawberry cake!
Recently, on a trip to my father's house, I taught my fourteen year old granddaugher, Anna, how to make the strawberry cake. You see, it's Daddy's favorite cake, too. We happily worked side by side as Daddy sat and watched his daughter and great granddaughter making memories and continuing the legacy. After supper, we all enjoyed our effort...more memories and more happy family time enjoying the soft, sweet, pink cake covered in cream cheese frosting and made with love.
So, here's the recipe. I hope you enjoy it!
Strawberry Cake (as pictured)
1 box yellow cake mix
3 oz package strawberry jello
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup milk
1/3 cup mashed strawberries
Combine cake mix and dry jello. Add milk and oil and mix. Add eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla extract and mashed strawberries. Mix well. Preheat oven to 350. Spray 3 round 8 or 9 inch pans with nonstick spray. Divide batter evenly into each pan. Bake until cake pulls away from pans (about 20 minutes). Cool well before frosting.
Frosting for Strawberry Cake
1 lb confectioners sugar
8 oz cream cheese (softened)
1 stick salted butter (softened)
3 or 4 fresh strawberries
Cream butter and cream cheese together well. Slowly add confectioners sugar and mix well. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Mash the strawberries and add a little at a time into frosting and mix well. Frosting should be fairly stiff.
Frost cake. Using a pastry bag, pipe frosting around edges and then garnish with fresh berries.
Seriously, does the week before a holiday EVER go as planned. Let me know if yours does because my week has been crazeeeeeee.
On Sunday,June 28 or whatever it was (I've lived a long week and dates no longer matter tome), my darling husband was sick. That was just the start. It was Monday that things really began to get crazy. A dear friend of mine sent me a link about a network cooking show being cast...for GRANDMOTHERS...hmmmmm..."must do" I said to myself. So, I did. Now for those of you who know me, you know it has long been a dream, desire and at times the drive of my life to land my own network tv series. Yes, I know, it's presumptuous to even think about such a thing...shot in the dark and all that. But, I have just enough moxie to think I can do it. For years,I worked frantically as if all the joy to be experienced this side of Heaven is a NETWORK TV SHOW. Mercy. After a while, God gently pointed out to me that He is my joy and only Him. So, I settled down and while I didn't dismiss the dream it no longer was the driving force in my life. (I'm sure this was a great relief to my husband and family.) Well, out of the blue, the opportunity was there on Monday and I jumped in feet first, mouth wide open, screaming "Take me! Take me!". So, the pressure was on...
And that's not all, shortly thereafter, my sweet Daddy called and said he was coming by to spend the night on his way home from vacation. I am certainly NOT complaining but Daddy, a niece, and their Cocker Spaniel came rolling in on Tuesday afternoon while I was at work. AND the casting people called from the Network TV Show and wanted to SKYPE with me on Tuesday at 6 p.m. Can you say "supper time?" So, one husband, one daddy, one niece, two dogs and a thunderstorm later, I'm trying to Skype with a fellow and make an impression. I'm sure I made an impression but just what kind I don't know.
So, the week that was to be a very short week at work, Monday thru Wednesday, suddenly was manic. You see, my "day" job is demanding in itself but when you add life to the mix, it's crazeeeeee. Do you see a theme here?
Oh and last night I couldn't sleep. Five of my precious family members were jumping from airplane to airplane dodging storms trying to get home from a vacation on the West Coast. My Iphone can prove it if you need proof. My daughter and oldest granddaughter and I were texting through the night about their crazeeeeee adventure. Finally, at about 6:30 a.m. they arrived at home...the trip home started at 6 a.m. West Coast time yesterday. I hope they are all in bed resting from that vaca adventure.
And did I mention I had to prepare my website and blog(yes this thing) for the already planned appearance on WIS Sunrise on Friday? Tomorrow morning, I get up at 3 a.m., load the car, drive an hour and do two EWJ segments on WIS all before sane people get out of bed. So it is imperative that I have my website updated with recipes and such.
If I haven't said it before, I'll say it now...I AM NOT COMPLAINING! I love every facet of this frantic life I've been blessed with. The hardest thing about my life is fitting it all in and prioritizing and staying focus ed on the main thing. And...the main thing is Jesus.
Have a safe and happy holiday weekend. I'm sure at some point I'll slow down and smell the roses, I mean smell the fireworks!
We all have them and sometimes they are best kept to ourselves. There are times however, when we need to speak up. Even in these times, we must speak in love…always in love.
Let me say this…I've pretty much stopped watching the national news. I also skip most of what is currently being written on Facebook. It grieves me to see people fighting and at odds with each other. A lot of what is being said doesn't make sense. It's inflammatory.
Today is Blue and White Day in our great state of South Carolina. In the spirit of love I offer you this…
First of all, I won't weigh in on my opinion on the Confederate Flag. My opinions (as well as yours) have been shaped by the culture I live in, my family, my education, etc. and so I have a certain bias. No matter what I say about the flag, it's biased and it's been filtered through the personal sifter that is uniquely Jane. What I will weigh in on is how people are supposed to treat one another…particularly people who claim Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord.
As followers of Christ, we are called upon to love, forgive and yes, overlook. Don't take my word for it…
I Corinthians 10:23-32
23 There’s a slogan often quoted on matters like this: “All things are permitted.” Yes, but not all things are beneficial. “All things are permitted,” they say. Yes, but not all things build up and strengthen others in the body. 24 We should stop looking out for our own interests and instead focus on the people living and breathing around us. 25 Feel free to eat any meat sold in the market without your conscience raising questions about scruples 26 because “the earth and all that’s upon it belong to the Lord.”d]'>[d]
27 So if some unbelievers invite you to dinner and you want to go, feel free to eat whatever they offer you without raising questions about conscience. 28-29 But if someone says, “This is meat from the temple altar, a sacrifice to god so-and-so,” then do not eat it. Not so much because of your own conscience [because the earth and everything on it belongs to the Lord],e]'>[e] but out of consideration for the conscience of the other fellow who told you about it. So you ask, “Why should I give up my freedom to accommodate the scruples of another?” 30 or, “If I am eating with gratitude to God, why am I insulted for eating food that I have properly given thanks for?” These are good questions.
31 Whatever you do—whether you eat or drink or not—do it all to the glory of God! 32 Do not offend Jews or Greeks or any part of the church of God for that matter. 33 Consider my example: I strive to please all people in all my actions and words—but don’t think I am in this for myself—their rescued souls are the only profit.
As I read the words of Paul, the instructions of Jesus are clear. I am to give up my rights, my freedoms, my preferences for the sake of others. This is exactly what Jesus did on the cross. It's the core of being a Christian. Put others first in all things.
Enough said. I hope and pray Blue and White Day accomplishes the purpose for which is was intended. God bless you all.
I love being Southern. I love the slow way we talk. I love the way we cook our green beans until they are soft and mushy. I love the long, hot summers and the short, mild winters. And I love my porch.
Everyday when I get home from work (even if its 100 degrees) I go sit on my porch. I listen to the birds, watch people walking down the sidewalk, and decompress from a long day at work. My porch is where the day's cares melt away (literally when its 100 degrees). It's on the porch I can commune with the Lord close to nature without being eaten alive by His precious little critters that fly, buzz, and bite. It's on the porch I can think about my next project or not think at all. The porch is where I get away from the distraction of television, social media (unless I have my iphone handy), and just sit and remember simple times. My porch is where I remember Mama and her porch and all the wonderful talks we had in the old swing surrounded by azaleas and cool breezes. We would gently rock back and forth content just to be together.
Nowadays, folks don't sit on their porches like they used to. I guess people are too busy for idle time. I guess we think we must be busy and always doing something. That's too bad for it is in the idle time that we learn to be at peace and at one with God.
Don't get me wrong, not all time spent on my porch isn't quiet. Just ask my neighbors! I love to gather with family and friends on the porch, talking and laughing, sharing a cold drink or two. Recently, I had some of the gurls over (I like to call us old girls, gurls). We sat on the porch for hours and we all agreed it was the best few hours we'd spent in a while. The fan was blowing, the food was simple, and the laughter was contagious. Porch time is good for the soul.
So, come see me and sit a while on my porch...you won't want to leave.
The idea for a new blog came suddenly...out of nowhere. The Cottage on Hampton just seemed like the perfect kind of blog. A place to post ideas and recipes. A place to post thoughts. A place to post about this glorious journey I'm on. The Cottage on Hampton is where I live and love. It's where I get my grounding. It's rather modest but full of love. It's sometimes messy but I like it just the same. Its sometimes full but more often than not, it's just me , D and the dog and that's okay. It's home.
I hope you will follow and be part of the journey. It won't be same without you! Feel free to post your thoughts, ideas, recipes, whatever...All I ask is that you be kind. I promise I will!
Jane Putman Sterling
I have a lot to say about a lot of things. Don't you?
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