Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Italian Zucchini Saute

Every season I have my favorite foods to make and look forward to when the ingredients are in season. So I was thinking.....the foods that are my signature, every season favorites, may be totally new and exciting to you.

The zucchini's will be ready to be picked around my area soon and so the race to find different recipes to use them up begins.

There is one recipe that is a standard in my house for zucchini and it may be new to you! It really has no name! I first tasted it at an Italian restaurant I used to work at. They still serve a small plate of it before every meal with the Italian bread.

I will call it Italian Zucchini Saute because that is basically what you do. Saute it. Simple, quick and versatile. Oh, and it tastes really, really good.

Some Italian recipes just don't have any measurements to go with it. Italians just cook that way. You can make as much or as little of it as you like according to the amount of zucchini you have.

Be creative, be brave and just throw the seasonings in with a little Italian flair! 

Olive oil
A good sized zucchini, with skin on, cut into slices or chunks
1 large vidalia onion, sliced
minced garlic
1 - 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
fresh basil
Italian seasonings
Romano or Parmesan grated cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a saute pan and add zucchini, onion and garlic. Saute till soft and lightly browned. Add the tomatoes, seasonings and cheese. Simmer for about an hour to marry all the flavors. Sometimes I leave it on the stove on very low for a couple hours. Serve it hot or cold.

It is great sprinkled with grated cheese served over pasta, on it's own as a side dish, or serve it over rice. It is great leftover the next day and it is very good eaten cold out of the fridge.

And don't forget to add a finishing touch!

Monday, July 21, 2014


Growing up the middle child in a family with four kids is kind of rough. You find yourself being teased more, being left out of things and just generally left behind. The oldest usually pairs up with the youngest. They have it made. The oldest is well, the oldest. More privileges. I wouldn't want that position. The youngest is well, the youngest. More privileges (which translates into getting away with more). I wouldn't want that position either.

I actually have come to like the position I was given because it has separated me, set me apart, to be who I am today. Who I was meant to be all along.

All that teasing and left out stuff followed me through adulthood and has somewhat defined who I think I am and how I see things. I usually don't believe anyone wants to be around me unless I work pretty hard to show them I am fun/ok/worth it. I find it hard to extend myself to others for fear that I am not somebody that they'd want to have be the one calling, or visiting.

I recently went to a Beth Moore ladies' bible study at my church called Breaking Free. It is an excellent study through scripture that shows how to rebuild the ruins of your past through breaking free of strongholds that were set up throughout your life, as opposed to replaying them over and over in your head and trying to fix them on your own. It was a great study. We actually have done this study at church years earlier. This revised edition got the message home for me this time.

After it was over I wanted more of it so I decided to re-read the whole book to keep the concepts and words of encouragement close. Beth Moore is a powerful writer and speaker and does both from experience. I also wanted some praise music to listen to in my truck knowing it would add to the encouragement I needed. I am not a radio person. I don't like the bantering of the hosts back and forth or all the commercials. I finally have a vehicle with a CD player in it so I ordered Mercy Me's newest CD. It's called Welcome to the New.

Remember them? They had the phenomenal song "I Can Only Imagine" a few years back. That's the only basis I had to choose them out of the millions of Christian CD's out there. This CD was just what I was looking for. It is filled with songs that encourage who you are in Christ despite who you think you are or who you were made to feel you are. It was handpicked and recorded just for me. I am so encouraged by so many of the songs but one in particular.

I tried to download the video of the actual song but with no success. So I want to write for you the lyrics and italicize the parts that speak so loudly to me.

It is called Flawless.

"There's got to be more / Than going back and forth / From doing right to doing wrong / 'Cause we were taught that's who we are / Come on get in line right behind me / You along with everybody /Thinking there's worth in what you do / Then like a hero who takes the stage when / We're on the edge of our seats saying it's too late / Well let me introduce you to amazing grace /

No matter the bumps
No matter the bruises
No matter the scars
Still the truth is
The cross has made
The cross has made you flawless
No matter the hurt
Or how deep the wound is 
No matter the pain
Still the truth is 
The cross has made
The cross has made you flawless

Could it possibly be / That we simply can't believe / That this unconditional / Kind of love would be enough / To take a filthy wretch like this / And wrap him up in righteousness / But that's exactly  what He did

Take a breath, smile and say
Right here right now I'm okay because
The cross was enough

Then like a hero who takes the stage when / We're on the edge of our seats saying it's too late / Well let me introduce you to grace grace / God's grace

No matter what they say
Or what you think you are
The day you called His name
He made you flawless"

Not in the kingdom of God, I'm not. I am flawless because of who God is, not because of who I am.

I hope you check this CD out and are encouraged by it as much as I am.

AnnMarie xoxo

I am sharing with these great blog parties:

Wake Up Wednesday Linky Party
A Little R & R Wednesday Linky Party
Freedom Fridays with all my Bloggy Friends

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Hospital Etiquette

Is there such a thing?

When you find out someone close to you (other than a family member) is in the hospital in an emergency situation, what do you do?

Do you run to your computer and post it on all social media for anyone and everyone to know?

If it is yourself or a loved one in the hospital do you want to be left alone or do you want calls and visitors?

Do you call or text them and say how sorry you are to hear that and then say “let me know if you need anything”?

These are the questions I wonder how others feel about because I have my own thoughts on them, which you may or may not agree with. And I am guilty of not doing some of the things I will mention!

 So this past weekend we found ourselves at Strong Hospital in Rochester, NY with our son, again. He was born a preemie there almost 16 years ago and spent the first 3 months of his life in the NICU.

Eight years after that he ended up there again with a rare staph condition that kept him there almost a week.

This time we were there for a collapsed lung. The explanation for that is that he is tall and skinny!

This is the best hospital in the city and very familiar to us. As I was driving there one morning I was reflecting on things over the past few days that we’d been there and specifically on the reaction and response of our friends.

My daughters were the only family members that I had the time or wits about me to inform about this trip to the hospital and I called them from the ambulance on the way.

There were others we wanted to let know, knowing they would pray and that they would be concerned. Others found out because of plans and events that had to be cancelled. We were adamant about this kind of news NOT being posted on Facebook. Why? Because we would eventually get to the task of informing those we knew would want to know…..those who are in our lives and we know care about us.....and not have them find out on Facebook. 

 So our first night, actually while still in the ER, a close friend came to sit with us. It was a blessing to have someone to fill in the conversation while waiting for all the medical stuff to happen. Since neither my husband or I wanted to leave our son at that point, it was great to have him go to the cafeteria to get some dinner for us and to sit and wait with us while they were doing a procedure on our son.

The next day my son’s youth pastor called to see if he could visit, but by the time he got there Michael had just fallen asleep. It gave us an opportunity to chat with and get to know the Pastor better and for him to know about Michael more. That was great.

A couple friend of ours called and asked if they could visit. They asked if they could bring anything for us and then came with balloons and gifts for Michael. While they were there they offered to stay with Michael so that my husband and I could go down to the cafeteria for some dinner. You see it was our 18th wedding anniversary and that was our only option to “celebrate”! They got some time with Michael, we had an “anniversary” dinner and it helped pass the endless hours of sitting in a hospital room.

A childhood friend of Michael's called to see how he was and just wanted to know if he was going to be okay.

Others have consistently texted or called for updates.

I have given you these examples because I think those are great ways to follow through on the “let me know if you need anything” phrase we find ourselves saying but have no idea what that might be. The best part is that we didn’t ask any of those people to do what they did.

The Lord has a lot to say about doing for others in the bible. In James 2:15 it says “Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?” 

 He’s already commanded it…. now go and just DO IT. 

When I am the one in the hospital I just like to know that people close to me and that I care about are concerned and that they called. I also like to know that they checked up on me. Yes, I am guilty of not doing this! I may not want visitors while I am in the hospital because of how I feel or how I look, but just knowing that someone expressed their concern lifts the spirits. My least favorite phrase is "I was giving you time". Now is the time, when I feel terrible, to let me know that you care!!

Instead of focusing on the people that did reach out, sometimes I focus on the ones who didn’t, that I think should have. I find that most respond to the initial news, say “let me know if you need anything” and then you never hear from them again. When they are people I consider close or part of my life, it is upsetting. But I do realize that not everyone acts or responds to the same situation the same way. Or the way I think they should.

And I am guilty of not doing the very things that upset me.

Why? I think there is that fear of bugging people while they are sick, or not knowing what to say, or that maybe I am not someone they even want to hear from! I am afraid I will call at the wrong time or say the wrong thing. 

If you are someone that truly wants to reach out and do something but don’t know what to do, you may find yourself just doing nothing.

Here’s a few suggestions that I personally would want from people and that I would feel comfortable doing myself.

 *  Instead of saying “let me know if there’s anything I can do”,offer to go to their house and water their plants or feed their cat. Offer to bring their books from home to them. Bring lunch or some cookies to the family members sitting at the hospital all day. Hey, go and mow their lawn! 
·     *  Actually avoid the phrase “let me know if there is anything I can do” altogether! Not very many in the thick of the situation will call you for something.
·     *  Offer to relieve the family members to go eat or to go out to get some fresh air. Call first to be sure it is okay to drop in at the hospital.
·     *  Check up and then follow up. After the initial news while they are in the hospital and when they get home give a call to a family member or to them depending on their condition, to see how they are doing and then check back every so often. I just joined the world of texting and I find it a great way to send a quick note that the recipient can respond to at their leisure, or not at all. The key here is that you are calling them for an update, not asking for them to give you one.  There is much to do sometimes for someone sitting with the sick person that making a call to everyone that asks for an update is just not possible. If you call them they can pick up if they are free or call you back if they aren’t.
·      * Consider the time of day. Early morning or late evening is probably not the best time to call for an update.
  * Our lives are all busier than they ever have been and most of our communication is through social media. In this case I think a personal, private message on Facebook or texting is perfectly fine to express your concern if you just can’t make a trip to the hospital or to their home. I think that if you have their cell phone number in your phone, you are close enough to text them for updates!

   These are just my personal observations, perceptions and feelings on the subject of hospital etiquette.

   How do you feel about it? 

    Are you a sayer or a doer?

    AnnMarie xoxo

P.S. My son is home now and doing fine. He just can't play basketball for a few weeks!

I am sharing with these great blog parties:

Freedom Fridays with all My Bloggy Friends
Wake Up Wednesday Linky Party

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Grilled Chicken, Corn and Avocado Salad

The perfect summer salad.

I shared this salad a couple years ago but had to post it again after having it for dinner tonight.

It is SO good!

It is perfect for summer because two parts of it are grilled....the corn and the chicken. Local corn on the cob will be ready soon here in Northeast US. What they have in the grocery store right now is pretty good too! The avocado with the shredded parmesan cheese and the homemade dressing add just enough zing to make it a really satisfying main dish. You won't feel cheated by having a salad for dinner. Just ask my meat and potato loving husband and son!

It is simply called Grilled Chicken, Corn and Avocado Salad.

Serves 4 (not really!!)

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary (I use 1 tblsp. dry)
4 cloves garlic minced (about 1 heaping Tablespoon)
4 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt
black pepper
12 oz chicken tenders
3 ears corn, shucked
baby spinach
romaine lettuce, chopped
1 avocado, diced  *see tip*
shredded parmesan cheese

In a small bowl whisk lemon juice, rosemary, garlic, 3 Tablespoons olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a little pepper.
Pour half of the dressing into a large ziplock bag. Add the chicken, seal and refrigerate about 30 minutes. Set aside the remaining dressing.
Fire up the grill to medium. Rub the corn with the remaining tablespoon of oil and grill till golden on all sides. Allow to cool and cut kernels off the cob.
Grill the chicken next till just cooked through but still juicy. Chop coarsely.
Get your largest bowl out ( I use my Italian pasta bowl) and fill it up with a mix of spinach and romaine, or any other of your favorite greens. Add the chicken, corn, avocado and remaining dressing. Top with shredded parmesan. Toss it all together and serve.

* my daughter showed me an easy way to dice the avocado, as I was always struggling to peel it first! With skin on, pierce it vertically all the way around and pop it open with the knife. Leave the avocado in it's shell. Take the seed out. Use the tip of your knife to make vertical then horizontal cuts in it then scoop the pieces out with a spoon.

I am always tempted to eat the corn right off the grill but I wait because it tastes great in the salad!
You can see all the individual ingredients here.....yum!

Actually I take a larger portion than this and then have seconds!

And it's gone!!

Seriously, three of us ate the whole bowl. Did I mention that it is SO good? And that two of the three usually want a hearty meat and greasy side dish meal every night?

Happy grilling!

AnnMarie xo

I am linking up with these great blog parties!

Inspiration Monday
Thursday Favorite Things Blog Hop
Treasure Hunt Thursday
Share Your Cup Thursday
Showcase Your Talent Thursday
Feathered Nest Friday
Tasty Tuesday
What's It Wednesday

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

A Day in The Life...June

A few months back I joined a link party at Ms.Toody Goo Shoes blog and named it April One Day at a Time. I took pictures every day in April and then wrote a few lines for each picture. It was a lot of fun and showed me how blessed I was in the little every day things.

I decided I wanted to do it again, on my own. So here is a day in my life, one day at a time, for June!

June 1st...

My large wicker basket by the couch is always full of knitting or crocheting these least 3 or 4 projects at once. I am part of a prayer shawl ministry and so that is my main focus for knitting. The turquoise one on the ottoman is done, waiting for fringe. The blue ombre is a fuzzy, twisted yarn and knits up like lace when using big needles. The white yarn was leftover from a baby blanket so it is now becoming a prayer shawl with a pretty ribbed pattern. And the purple multi is my new favorite yarn with it's gnarled texture and wisps of string throughout. The $.50 a skein price at a garage sale wasn't bad either!

June 2nd...

So today the temperature hit 87 degrees and we had soup for dinner. Not just any soup....Italian Wedding Soup by request of my son Michael. I plan the menu at the beginning of the week and don't always have control of how it all fits with the weather! He still wanted it for dinner so that is what we ate. It is SO good.

June 3rd...

Rummaging through the garage for something else I found this wire basket I intended to paint and use last year. Before I let it slip away again I got the aqua spray paint out (my new favorite color) and sprayed away. The next day my husband and I were out browsing at a local farm market when I saw these pretty purple petunias. I am not usually crazy about petunias but these are the trailing kind. I thought they would look pretty once they grew in a little.

June 4th...

Rummaging around in the garage again, I found this fold up fire truck we bought for my son when he was little. He is now almost 16. I pulled it out and Chloe just loved it. The wind knocked it over a few times but she had fun playing "fire twuck".

June 5th....

When I saw a version of this patriotic window at Have a Daily Cup of Mrs. Olson I had to try it! I had all the "ingredients" to make one for myself. I had picked the window up on the side of the road as the man was taking them out of his house, with no idea what I would do with it. The flag I have had forever and the star is a barn sale find, made with wooden slats from a 100 year old home. It was put together in no time but the hanging was a little more difficult! It looks great on my front porch!

June 6th....

It's that time of year again for me. Poison Ivy time! UGH! I am sparing you the horrific pictures of my arms, stomach and neck of the actual nasty stuff (you're welcome) and showing you that once again I got it so bad that I had to go on Prednisone!!  I have no idea where I get it from almost every year because I have been told I don't have the nasty stuff in my yard. I do have a long haired kitty though...hmmmmmm

June 7th.....

The window flag replaced these cute plaques on my front porch so I had to find a place for them. My sweet friend Colleen painted them and I was the lucky one to pick them at a Christmas grab bag. I found the perfect spot for them over my side porch door. They fit there like they were made for it! A nice sentiment to enter into the world outside with!

June 8th....

I have a nice sewing machine and I used to sew A LOT. Not any more and I really don't like it anymore either! But when I saw this outdoor fabric I loved it (expensive even at half price) and told myself that I could recover this chairs' cushions once again. NOT!! I botched it up so badly that I had to leave it and revisit it several times to contain my sanity. I spent about 2 hours on it today and here it is...DONE! Not too bad, right? I will never show you the hand-sewn botched areas. NEVER.

June 9th....

My husband, son and I, along with our theatre troupe, went to look at new venues today for our Christian community theatre. It has been years in the making and we finally got two places within our budget to choose from. This one is my preference, although the other one is really nice. Quite a decision for my husband to make because there are equal pros and cons for each place. We hope to move in to a new location by September.

June 10th

Found this cute wooden pig board at a barn sale. She was painted bright pink so I thought I'd vintage her up a bit. First time using chalk paint...this is Oatmeal. I distressed her a bit to show some pink and then added these great old nails from an Etsy shop Chymiera. I'll be listing her in my shop soon.

June 11th

I look forward to the beginning of June every year just for the blooming of this tree. It is an Orange Blossom and it actually will double in the amount of blooms before it is done. It smells heavenly. I have three of these in my yard, thanks to the previous owner!

June 12th

Thank you to the birdies or the wind....whichever is responsible for transplanting these flowers in my garden! I did not plant these and they just started growing and bloomed. I also have a large Shasta daisy ready to bloom that was transplanted into my garden the same way. 

June 13th

I just love those drive-by garage sales that you decide to stop at just to see. Well, I  scored on this one when I  walked up and this fabulous mailbox from the 1960's was sitting there. It is the prettiest color of teal green and in great shape. Of course if your name is not Yancey, you'd want to remove that!

June 14th 

Today is going to be a good thrifting day. Look at all those balloons on my Yard Sale app in my area!! My fabulous finds to come!

June 15th

Father's Day. Need I say more?

June 16th

 My fabulous finds from my great thrifting day. See that toy refrigerator in pink? Love it. There's a great knotty pine tool tote, a twisted rope metal mirror, a cool metal lampshade, a couple of old crusty, rusty loaf pans, a really cute porcelain cottage made in Japan, an old chalkboard, a square cake dish with cover and a large vanity mirror, dated to before the 1950's.

June 17th

I am finally getting to this awful, overdue job!  I am the painter in the family but the prep work takes two! My husband and I have been chipping away and sanding for the past couple Mondays (his day off!) and finally got these side porch steps to the point of priming.

June 18th

Chloe is thoroughly enjoying her "open face" peanut butter and Fluff sandwich!

June 19th

The steps are done! Now to get a new screen door, finish the white trim on the porch, do the other set of stairs on the side, do the front porch floor, do the front porch steps.....

June 20th

The Margarites are bloomin'!

June 21st

What a gorgeous first day of summer! It was a little cool in the morning so it was perfect to spend the time with my prayer shawl knitting girls, The Knit Wits. They are all helping me rip out a piece of knitting (being held by Darlene in the pink) that was not coming out the way I wanted it to. The group effort was quick and fun!

June 22nd

Rhubarb and strawberries are in season and ready for pickin' in Upstate NY. My first fresh Strawberry Rhubarb pie of the season. I made it a 10", just enough for the three of us!

June 23rd

Getting ready for our vacation to Amish country in Lancaster, PA. The suitcases make an appearance early the week we leave and start filling up, throwing things in as I think of them.

June 24th

My son Michael's advisor from school called today. She wanted to give me his grades for his Regents exams, fourth quarter and cumulative year grades. I scribbled them on a piece of scrap paper as I listened to her praise my son for his great effort, discipline and all around great performance for the school year. We went straight to the mall and got him his LeBron James basketball shoes he'd been wanting. A well deserved reward for a job well done! I found out after this picture was taken that the regents score for Spanish was an 85.

June 25th

Almost 3 years ago my girlfriends gave my daughter Jena a baby shower for Chloe before she was born. This dress was a special gift from Lora. Finally, I get to see how adorable it looks on her!

June 26th

Who eats healthy in your house? In mine, it is usually me. What used to be two separate meals every for my husband and I and one for my picky eater son.... has turned into two separate meals almost every for my husband and son and one for me. That pizza on the left is oozing with butter, garlic and mozzarella on a cheese stuffed crust. The one on the right (mine!) has a thin crust with sauce, onion, black olives, spinach, tomato slices and a sprinkling of fresh mozzarella and romano cheese. So healthy to look at and so good to eat.  I think I have the healthier arteries too.

June 27th

Finally, a small break from packing and a moment to sit and relax and crochet while the boy (our childhood name for him) shoots some baskets.

June 28th

Today was our traveling day to Lancaster, PA, Amish Country. We are staying in an 1800's farmhouse on an Amish Dairy farm in East Earl, Pennsylvania for the next week. They raise registered Holstein cows for milking and there are some babies there right now. So cute!!

June 29th

Our first day venturing out and my son Michael spies a Sonic restaurant. We don't have them in our area of Upstate NY but he sees them advertised all the time on the NBA station he watches. We had to make a pit stop for him to get a Sonic double cheeseburger and one of their famous shakes.

June 30th

A contrast of two worlds....
Us in our black 2014 Toyota Camry rental car with the windows up and the air conditioning on....
This young Amish couple out for an evening ride in their open air horse and buggy....

More adventures ahead in July, I am sure!

Happy 4th!

AnnMarie xoxo