Monday, June 29, 2009


I love pesto, especially homemade pesto using the basil from our garden. There are so many ways to consume it: as a pasta sauce (especially over cheese-filled ravioli), slathered on Publix's wheat french baguette bread topped with tomatoes or just as a dip. Over the years, I have tried different pesto recipes but recently I found one from Ellie Krieger's The Food You Crave that I like the best. Now, I am all about easy as long as quality is not sacrificed. With that in mind, I made some adaptions to her original recipe.

Basil Pesto:
1/4 c pine nuts
1 clove garlic, peeled (I only use fresh)
3 c of lightly packed fresh basil leaves (I use a mix of regular and spicy basil)
1/4 c freshly grated Parmesan cheese (I use a bit more- see below)
1 T fresh lemon juice
1/4 c olive oil ( I use finest I can buy - always use first cold-pressed)
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste (ground sea salt or kosher is best)

I totally disregarded her instructions and made up my own because she has more time on her hands than I do.

First, when you harvest basil, stick them in a vase with water and leave out by your sink. They will keep fine like that for a couple of days. Do not wash until you are ready to use. I find that refrigeration produces black spots quicker.

If you have time, toast pine nuts. Otherwise, skip this section and just use raw pine nuts. Also, if I am out of pine nuts, I use whatever nuts I have on hand- such as almonds or pecans. You can toast on a pan under the broiler or in a skillet.  I prefer a skillet, stirring occasionally until they are golden brown. Remove from heat and set aside. 
In the photo below, I did a whole bag of pine nuts at once because I am always making pesto. The leftover goes into the fridge for the next time I make a batch.

Now, I am not a grater. If it can not be grated using my Kitchen Aid mixer or Punkin, it does not get grated. Hence, I cut about 1/4 or more of Parmesan cheese and drop the block into the food processor.

In the food processor, combine the garlic clove, block of cheese and nuts. Run it until it is chopped and well mixed. Scrap sides down.

While processor is running, put in your basil.

With processor still running, add lemon juice. If you want to squeeze your own lemon juice, have at it. Just put lemon in micro for a couple of seconds so it will be easier to glean all of the juice.

With processor still running, add olive oil. Try to use a good quality extra-virgin olive oil since it does give it a lighter taste.

Stop processor, scrape down the sides, add salt & pepper. Whirl it for a couple of seconds more and then serve or refrigerate or freeze in ice cube trays.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Heaven Stormed

So, yesterday morning Punkin and I sat in the neurosurgeon's office armed with a page and half of questions. I started off explaining my concerns about the compatibility of MRI monitoring of cyst and cochlear implant. The neurosurgeon stopped me.

"There is no cyst"

Me: "I am confused- how can this be?"

Neuro: "What appeared to be a cyst on MRI is actually the spinal-fluid filled hole where your tumor was removed. A mistake was made in how the scan was read."

Me: "How can you be so certain?"

He went on to draw a diagram and explained at length how and why he was certain. Both Houston and I were convinced. 

Me: "So you do you feel comfortable with me forgoing these MRIs?"

Neuro: " I do. We can monitor with blood work and CTs. Go for the cochlear"

What a confirmation. We are meeting with the implant doctor on September 9th to discuss surgery dates.

"Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen."
I Timothy 1:17

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

No Centerpiece like the Hydrangeas

At the beginning of the summer, Punkin and I installed a hydrangea bed on the North side of the house. So worth the effort! The soup tureen belonged to Punkin's grandmother. The photo does not do justice of just how fabulous hydrangeas look in it.

Nothing like McCarty pottery from Mississippi and french blue hydrangea. Makes me want to fix mint juleps and garlicky bruschettas and serve on deck.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Step Away from the Paint - Part II

The corner cabinet in the pool room? Came with Punkin when I married him. 
Punkin is one smart cookie but as a decorator, all I can say is:
Bless his heart. Bless it.

I so wish I had before pictures of what this contraption looked like before I got a hold of it with paint. I do have a picture of the glass door, so you can image what it looked like:

My curtains and pillows have a leaf design that I love. It is bluish grey with brown. I took the pillow to Lowes and matched base color to the bluish-grey leaf. I then went over it with a rag using a cheap antique glaze.

Copper knobs from Lowes:

Filled the top shelf with glasses that I purchased on a trip to Mexico. On the second shelf is a alabaster bowl that I stole from Mama. 

Here are some pictures of few things that I have added or changed around the house.
 First up is in the guest bathroom upstairs. My sister is quite the monogram Queen and has monogrammed many things for me over the years, so I decided to pull out a "Bee" towel that she did for me before I married:

I fell in love with this monogram art while on a trip in California

On the towel rod I have a plain thin waffle towel and then over it, a white linen hand towel with our monogram on it in white. I love the look of white on white or ivory on white. 

For our master bath, I love look of this fern that I dug up in our backyard. Fortunately, our bath is quite small, which means the fern gets a lot of moisture when our showers steam up the room. He is quite happy.

Moving on to the kitchen...
 Now, most of us shop at flea markets or estate sales to find those wonderful old pieces that add character to a home. I adore shopping at estate sales, but quite frankly, there is nothing quite like shopping at Mama's.
 Every since my ancestors landed in the New World, they have been saving everything and passing it down from generation to generation. Most people inherit money but in our family, we inherit memories. And fortunately, to my delight and Mama's distress, most of those memories are sitting in Daddy's attic. The twining rope used to tie the tomatoes? American Revolution era piece.  The mattress in the guest room? Why, General Lee, for whom I was named, slept on it before he left for the war. 
Oopsie, it looks I am rambling here, so I digress...

After shopping at Mama's two weeks ago I came across an Ironstone hand-painted platter and saucer that belonged to my great-great-great grandmother. Both items were hung over the mail center in our kitchen along with a painting my parents brought back from England:

I also found this fabulous antique bronze floor lamp with a base made out of black marble. I bought a new lampshade from Bed, Bath and Beyond. Am telling you, it pays to shop at Mama's.

The foyer receive a little makeover as well. I pulled out an old side piece that had been sitting in our basement and painted it black. The orchid in the McCarty bowl is from Fresh Market. The photo hanging over the table? My grandfather as a young boy and 3 generations of fathers and grandfathers standing behind him. 

Step Away from the Paint

The blogs are to blame.
Reading several blogs on interior design possessed me to grab a can of paint and pretty much spray paint everything in sight. Punkin may or may not have called Lowes to tell them I was no longer authorized to buy anything resembling a can of paint. 

It is amazing the miracles my new BFF can do:

Accessories can be changed from drab to fab:

Punkin was not crazy about the candlestick transformation, but I am in love! Loving white things- with the exception of my kitchen floors, of course. 

And the pool table lights?? I don't have access to the picture of the lights before they were painted, but if you can image tiffany-style lamps on steroids, you have the picture.

Can  you see the corner cabinet that got transformed to french country? I think the lights nicely ties it all together. I will put up another post on the cabinet so that you can see it up close. It looks so good!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A Letter to my Spiritual Family


As you know, my Hous and I have been wrestling for a long time over getting the cochlear implant. All of you know that Houston and I prayed first for a supernatural healing but felt that door was being closed to open the cochlear implant (CI) door.  We utterly believe that our God heals supernaturally but sometimes supernatural healing does not bring the greater glory to Him. With that in mind, I underwent a series of tests to determine if I was even a candidate for a CI. As most of you know, I passed all of those tests and am meeting with the surgeon on Tuesday to discuss CI surgery dates.

One of the downside of having a CI is that it is not compatible with MRI scans because of a magnetic component that is implanted in the recipient's skull. The magnet has to be removed surgically every time an MRI is done. Although there is one CI that can be used with the MRI, right now it does not seem to be a good fit with my hearing needs.

Many of you know that I have been monitored with MRIs every 3 to 5 years for a pituitary tumor that I had removed in 1995. Because I have not had any growth that needed to be treated surgically, my plan was to forgo the MRI scans and just monitor the situation by blood work and medication. My endocrinologist concurred with this plan but wanted to do a final MRI before moving forward even though I just had one last year. I completed that scan on Monday morning.

Yesterday my endocrinologist informed us that a 13 mm (1/2 in) cyst appeared on MRI in front of pituitary. Apparently it was on last year's scan but somehow it went unnoticed by the radiologist. It has not changed in size from last year to this and is well delineated. All in all, she is confident that it is likely a congenital cyst and not problematic. However, she is referring me to a neurosurgeon at Vanderbilt to discuss my options. The cyst in itself does not trouble us because I am not symptomatic. However, this event raises questions about moving forward with the CI. 

For us, the CI is a big deal and a path fraught with many tears, wrestling and perpetual struggles with faith. 

Is this recent event a closing of the CI door or just a testing of faith? I know that He is my constant source of stability and that He provides great wisdom and safety for those who fear Him (Isaiah 33:6). However, I see the storm clouds gathering and I know my weak nature: easily distracted, will naturally choose an easier path and prone to shift my eyes off Him and onto my circumstances. I feel a great need to feel His hand on my head and His encirclement of me (Psalms 139:5). 

All of this to ask if you would pray over me just once. At the risk of coming across as demanding or ungrateful, I ask that you refrain from praying for me if you are not led to do so. I am doing a fine job in the lukewarm department and don't need help there. I need for you to be either hot or cold. If you can not pray for me with passion, please have the courage not to pray at all. There is a time for duty but this is not one of them. 

I don't need Sunday school prayers nor meaningless words. I need strong intervention. I need the storming of heaven, claiming of scriptures, and drawing of the sword against the author of uncertainty, lies and lukewarmness. I need prayers for clarity, peace, guidance, and faith.

your name is on this list because you have a place in our hearts.
           you are ours whether you are cold or hot

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Rains
daughter,  He said to her, "your faith has made you well. go in peace."
luke 8:48

 go in peace.   

i praise you o God of Abraham, Jacob and Issac for rains You are bringing forth. i praise You for a promise kept. a faith increased. i praise You for a family being used as instruments of your glory. You alone are worthy to be praised. You are so worthy of our pouring out our lives for you. 



Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Time Passing Me By

This morning I was reading from Ecclesiastes 3 on how there is a time for everything.  The chapter makes me think of Psalms 139:16 "Your eyes saw me when I was formless; all my days were written in Your book and planned before a single one of them began". I love resting in that comfort of knowing that all of my days and my events, even to the minute details were planned before I was even a thought! How great is His love?!?!