Archive | November 2012

Bipartisan Sweet Potatoes

True to Bethany’s Thanksgiving post, I did make two sweet potato casseroles this year, one for each side of my family.  Yes, I intentionally signed up for the same dish for both gatherings so that I could just make a big fat double recipe and call it good.  That’s what I call using your noggin’ folks.  (All the sweet potatoes have made me extra country, obv.  I will not be limiting the hick-talk from this point forward either so go ahead and read with a bit of a drawl in your inner voice.)  I love sweet potato casserole and although I’ve eaten it many many times, I had never fixed it myself and I had no clue what was in there.   NO WONDER it tastes so good.


Sweet potatoes are pretty good by themselves but in typical Mississippi style, this recipe incorporates a generous helping of sugar and butter and more butter and sugar…  So yeah, its pretty tasty.  Darn tootin’.

So, let me back up and explain one more thing.  Here in the South, people tend to have strong preferences about the topping on their sweet potatoes – its either marshmallow topping or pecan topping (say it puh-kahn please).  And I live in a divided household – me on the marshmallow side and August planted squarely with the pecans.  So, I deliberated for days about the matter.  Which to choose?

Why choose?

What this country needs now more than ever is a little bipartisanship.  (fiscal cliff ahem hem) That’s when it hit me, y’all.

Bipartisan Sweet Potato Casserole


  • 3 to 4c sweet potatoes, peeled and cut up
  • 1 egg
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 3/4c sugar
  • 1/2c chopped pecans
  • 1/4c self-rising flour
  • 1/3c butter, softened
  • 1/2c dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 a bag of mini marshmallows


  1. Boil the sweet potatoes in water until soft.  Drain out water.
  2. Mash sweet potatoes until fairly smooth.
  3. Add egg, melted butter, and sugar.
  4. Stir well.
  5. Place in buttered 13×9 casserole dish.
  6. In a second bowl, combine the pecans, flour, softened butter, and brown sugar.
  7. Sprinkle the pecan mixture onto the casserole in alternating rows, leaving “blank spaces”.
  8. Bake at 350°F for 20 minutes.
  9. Pull out of the oven and fill the blank spaces with mini marshmallows.
  10. Stick back in the oven for 15 minutes or until the marshmallows are gooey and browned.
  11. If you get impatient, you can use the broiler to brown the marshmallows in about 0.2 seconds.  Seriously people, do not take your eyes off of those puppies or they will be black as night.

Here’s a shot of my first batch going into the oven.

And here’s the semi-final product.  No-sir-ee, I was not generous enough with those marshmallows.

To course correct, I added a few more marshmallows and tried the broiler trick.  I kid you not, I looked away for maybe 20 seconds.

Great heavens to betsy, one side got a little bit too done.  But they tasted just fine.  Its only a tiny thin layer that really turned to soot.

That was the first batch.   The second batch turned out just fine, but I didn’t take a picture.  You know who did though?  Southern Living.

Yep, so much for my awesome original idea. Turns out plenty of people have gone there already.


PS. Nobody in Mississippi says “darn tootin”. Except Elmo’s country cousin Elmer.  And he says it almost every day in our house.


A Two Girls “Thankful Thirty” Thanksgiving

I love Thanksgiving.  The smell of cider.  The turkey roasting in the oven.  Pumpkin treats abound.  Meeting cousins you didn’t know existed.  Mmmm.  Everything about the season is delicious.

Keith and I flew into Chapel Hill, NC on Tuesday to visit with his father and step-mom and we had an awesome day today visiting the campuses of UNC Chapel Hill and Duke University and hitting a few shops at the mall.  Tomorrow we’ll be joined by Keith’s little brother and his wife and two daughters as well as approximately 40 other relatives at Grandma Bordeaux’s farm where we will chase Granny’s chickens (I’m trying to convince Keith that we need to get chickens), play football, swap funny stories from days gone by, and eat.  And then eat some more.

Mary-Hall and her family have big plans as well.  After cooking a double-portion of sweet-potato casserole (one portion for each side of the family), they will be heading out to spend the first half of the day with August’s family, then off to another cabin-by-a-lake (not Camp Johnson) to spend the rest of the weekend with Mar-Hall’s family; cooking, crafting, playing football and possibly cramming in some banjo playing.

Since we won’t be hanging out together on this particular holiday, Mary-Hall and I decided to celebrate this Thanksgiving by doing what we do best: making a list.  A list of 30 things to be exact.  Thankfulness has already been a theme on the blog, but since there’s a whole holiday dedicated to it tomorrow (and since I never shared any of the things I was thankful for with you), we bring you Thirty Things We’re Thankful For.

(1-15 are Mary-Hall’s and 16-30 are Bethany’s)

  1. My happy, healthy son who is a constant source of amusement.
  2. My hardworking loving husband.
  3. Ransom’s two great-grandmothers, Memaw and Granny.  I wish he could’ve gotten to know our other grandparents, but I’m super thankful for those we have left.
  4. My first niece Layla who will be arriving soon.  So excited to meet her and have more babies in the family.
  5. All the generations of family in between – our siblings and our parents.
  6. Living closer to our family.  That’s the primary reason we moved back and it has already paid off.  Ransom knows everyone’s name and loves to go see all his grandparents, great grandparents, aunts, and uncles now and that wouldn’t have happened from Colorado.  I’m thankful that this holiday season, the time we spend together will just be normal family time, no additional stress to make everything perfect since we won’t see the folks for several months.
  7. Good health. I may complain about how many colds I get from living with a toddler who’s in daycare but seriously, me and my whole family are unfairly blessed in the health department.  I’ve been reminded of this when I fill out new health histories at our new doctors.  I don’t deserve it and good health certainly won’t last forever but I am thankful for it right now.   And no one has a cold right now either.
  8. The US of A.  Sure, we have a lot of room for improvement but I believe I won the jackpot of countries to be born in and I take that blessing for granted every day.
  9. A warm house to live in.  Y’all know I have a love/hate relationship here the Camp but it truly is a blessing to have so much flexibility.
  10. My amazing job.  Okay my job is not THAT amazing but the fact that my company lets me work part-time AND from home, now that is unheard of.  Literally!
  11. My cellphone.  Is there a place for trivial material possessions on this list?  Sure why not.  My phone keeps me sane, organized, connected, and not lost {as much}.  It is a blessing.
  12. My dearest girl friends.  They are the sisters I never had.  They have each been there for me when I needed them the most, and I’m insanely blessed by each one.  And I owe a couple of them a phone call.
  13. My 30×30 list and this blog. Its made this year different from the ones before it and has spurred my life in new directions, and I’m very thankful for that.
  14. A warm bonfire on a cool night with toasted marshmallows.  I’m headed there now.
  15. The four miles I’m gonna run tomorrow and then follow-up with turkey and dressing and sweet potatoes and green beans and so on and so on..
  16. Keith: who is not only an amazing person, but who happens to be an excellent husband as well.
  17. A cozy house to live in that happens to be in our favorite neighborhood in Nashville.
  18. Booger….the silliest cat to ever walk the earth who keeps us entertained daily and who totally understands his role as “protector of Mommy” and snuggles with me when Keith is out-of-town.
  19. That Keith and I still have all of our collective 4 parents and 2 step-parents with us and that they are all healthy and happy.  We are so grateful for this amazing group of people who raised us and who continue to be an incredible family into adulthood.  Much love to Mason, Barbara, Pat, Rick, Ed and Dreama for the wonderful parents you all are to us.
  20. A job that I love where I get to play violin, organize things, participate in ministry, support others involved in ministry, be creative, use my skill set in its entirety, travel, meet amazing people, and contribute financially to our family as well.
  21. For Tony, Rukia and Wondosen, our amazing Compassion sponsor children who remind me every day how God is intricately involved in the lives of each of His children no matter where on the globe we are.  Nothing makes me evaluate my faith more than knowing a 16-year-old boy in the Dandora slum in Kenya is praying for me.
  22. My husband’s job.  To know that he can support us by doing something that: a) he loves b) he’s good at c) that makes an impact on the world,  is an amazing thing.
  23. St. Bartholomew’s Church in Green Hills where Keith and I attend (and joined this past summer.)  It’s an incredible community of faith where we feel cared for, connected to folks we love, and inspired by the way the Gospel is taught and presented.
  24. Being 14 pounds thinner than I was last January.  I sleep better.  I have more energy.  And all the jeans I bought in college fit again.  Winning.
  25. No student loans or car payments.  Somehow, Keith and I made it through a collective two undergraduate degrees and one graduate degree without owing SallyMae or FannieSue or whoever a dime.  And both our cars are paid off and still functional.  (Knock on wood.)
  26. Friends (new and long-time) that support me, shop for cheap home decor with me, cry with me, make me laugh, drive to meet me for lunch when I’m passing through for 20 minutes, house-sit when we leave town, text to check in, etc. etc.  I’m not sure what I’ve done to deserve this kind of love from this many people, but I’m eternally grateful for the community I have in Nashville….and beyond.
  27. My sweet Granny who is still taking the world by storm at age 98.5.  She may not be sewing underwear for my Barbie dolls anymore, or turning out dozens of pecan sandies in the kitchen, or making snowmen with me in the front yard, but I’m grateful for her life and the huge impact she has had on me.
  28. My Frye boots that I scored for the cheap cheap on Ebay last year.  Shallow?  Perhaps.  But I love them.  They make me feel sassy….and every 30-year-old deserves to feel sassy every now and then.
  29. That my family all got to be together last month to celebrate my dad turning 70!  My incredible brother Michael drove about 26 hours round-trip to be there and it was lovely to celebrate and catch up with sibling and cousins and nieces and nephews that we rarely get to see.
  30. That I got to vote in the last election.  I watched Lincoln last week and it reminded me that it wasn’t long ago that women didn’t have a voice in politics, and even though my vote doesn’t have the hugest impact when you think about it with the electoral college and all, still…the fact that I can legally go and participate in a democratic vote is a pretty big deal.

It’s funny as I look back over our lists, that they are a bit similar, but I guess so are our 30×30 lists, so that’s no huge shocker there.  And I know we’d both agree that we’re thankful for you guys, our readers as well.  We are continually shocked when close friends, acquaintances, and family alike say things like, “Oh…and I LOVE your blog!  You guys are great!”  We’re humbled that you folks enjoy our chattering and keep coming back for more.

May you and your family all have many things to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.


Crafty Business

The (very slight) chill in the air has me feeling crafty these days.  I think its high time to start making some Christmas gifts or something!  I wanted to share the project that I spend a hunk of my October free time on.  This is my second time to tackle this sewing project, and I have to say, I really enjoyed myself both times.  Both blankets were for babies who are very close to my heart.  This one is for Layla, my first niece, expected in just few weeks.

The full tutorial is from here, over at the very lovely blog Aesthetic Nest.

The only change I made was using pre-made double fold binding rather than the satin blanket binding.  I love the idea of a silky binding for a baby quilt, but the color selection is so very limited.  There really wasn’t a good option.  So, I used my sewing machine to attach the binding to the top side and then bound the bottom side by hand using a whip stitch, which is a typical quilt binding.  Next time, I think I’ll reverse that and sew the bottom side first with the machine and do the top side very neatly by hand.  Its pretty easy to make your stitches invisible anyway.  The ruffly bottom made sewing by hand a little bit challenging.

Here’s my final product:

I love the way the top side turned out.  The fabric I found fit right in with the color scheme that Layla’s mom has going.  And of course, coming from the Johnsons, the print included several colors of deer and other forest animals.  Did you know Ransom’s first word was “deer”?  Thanks to lots of coaching from my husband.  Also, did you know we have two deer heads hanging in our living room?  And quite a few more antlers and things in storage. I’ll show you a photo one day, in our new dream house, which will of course have a man cave for which to store such things.

And here’s the bottom.

The way the flannel ruffles out on the bottom is so much fun.  Full disclosure, if I did it again I’d pick different colors for the bottom side.  You use three different layers of flannel and frankly the selection of flannel is quite limited.  Wish the colors were  a little bit cheerier.  Alas.  All in all I was satisfied and hopefully Baby Layla will get to roll around on it some.

And somebody else get pregnant so I can start on another one!  Something about sewing straight lines is very therapeutic.

Foto Friday Surprise

Guess who I had a random and nearly spontaneous lunch with yesterday?

Yep, a mini co-blogger reunion.  Only the second time I’ve seen Bethany this whole year I think.  You kinda lose track of that sort of thing when you blog together, however sparingly.

Bethany was passing through Mississippi en route to a far flung music gig in Houston, so I got to hang out with the whole band.  She wants a disclaimer on the following photo that she had been up since 3am and driving a fifteen passenger van with a trailer on the back (skillz!!) since 4am.   I told her that was silly because she looks great – must be all that healthy eating.

And yes, there was some scheming going on.  More on that later!

Paleo Pumpkin Scones

There is a small list of foods that I crave….like once I get it in my head I can’t stop thinking about it until I eat some.  Maybe you have a list like this too?  The foods on my list are somewhat random foods, or at least when collected in one place they make an eclectic collection.

*fried green tomatoes

*red velvet cupcakes

*flaky buttery southern-style biscuits

*black cherries

*black beans

*chips and queso dip

*mashed potatoes


*Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Scones

Of course the ONLY thing on this list that’s on the Paleo diet is black cherries, so it’s been a little sad to be me lately, as none of my cravings are really quenchable right now.  And even sadder….the Starbucks pumpkin scones are a seasonal item, generally ONLY available for a few months in the fall and then a full year of waiting for them to be available once again.  Obviously, there will be no Starbucks pumpkin spice scones for this girl this year.

[Educational Note: If you’re wondering why fried green tomatoes, mashed potatoes and black beans aren’t on my diet…….Corn and potatoes are the only outlawed “veggies” on the diet…corn counts as a grain (no grains allowed) and potatoes are so starchy that they are a no-no.  Legumes (beans) aren’t allowed because they contain something that prevent nutrient absorption into the intestine….or something like that…and the fried green tomatoes aren’t ok because of the breading (usually cornmeal) on the outside…although I might try making some coated in almond flour and see how it goes!  The cupcakes, biscuits and scones all contain grains and the queso is a dairy product.  The general rule of Paleo Thumb is: NO grains, dairy, legumes.]

Keith (my awesome husband, for any new readers out there) says that on this diet he misses “variety,” meaning he gets tired of the endless parade of green salads topped with grilled chicken breasts, steamed green veggies, and scrambled eggs which have become the staple of our new eating habits.  I actually don’t mind the redundancy of our meals, but I. MISS. BREADS.  And black beans.  During my first severe bout of “I need to eat bread right now or I’m going to lose my cool,” Keith made some yummy grain-less blueberry pancakes and saved the day.  And then on Halloween night, my dear friend Anna and I went to town on my first ever batch of “Paleo Pumpkin Scones.”  Not QUITE the Starbucks version, but really, really amazing, and totally satisfying my craving for something bread and pumpkin related.  Even non-paleo Anna declared the first one to be tasty, and then asked for seconds a few minutes later.  So….if you’re being healthy…but your family and friends aren’t quite on board with your hardcore diet changes….this might be a yummy holiday snack to fix!  As usual, I found the recipe on the internet, and then tweaked it a little bit.  The original recipe is not mine…but the version you’ll find below is my tweaked version.

Yummy finished product served on one of my grandmother’s tea saucers!

Paleo Pumpkin Scones

Scone Ingredients:

*1 and 1/2 cups almond flour

*1/2 cup coconut flour

*1/3 cup sugar in the raw (or granulated coconut palm sugar)

*2 eggs (we use free-range, organic, local eggs to be humanely responsible)

*1/2 cup canned pumpkin (not puree!)

*1 and 1/2 heaping teaspoons ground cinnamon

*1/2 heaping teaspoon ground nutmeg

*1/4 heaping teaspoon ground ginger

*1/4 heaping teaspoon ground cloves

*1 teaspoon baking soda

*1 teaspoon vanilla extract

*1/4 teaspoon finely ground sea salt (I like to use regular sea salt and grind it myself in a mortar and pestle)

*OPTIONAL: 1/4 cup chopped almonds or walnuts (I did NOT include these)

Glaze Ingredients:

*2 tablespoons almond butter (chunky or smooth to taste) (almond butter is like peanut butter…not butter/margarine….just in case you were confused.)

*1 teaspoon honey (again, we use local honey from a local beekeeper….it helps with allergies!) (you can also substitute pure maple syrup)

*1/2 teaspoon almond milk (or coconut milk)

*1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Scone Instructions:

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. I used my Kitchenaid stand mixer so if you have a stand mixer, go for it….but the recipe actually calls for a bowl and handheld mixer, so either way is great.  Either way, beat the eggs, sugar and pumpkin together.  Then stir in the vanilla extract.

3. In a separate mixing bowl, combine almond and coconut flour, all the spices, the salt and the baking soda.

4. Pour the dry into the wet mixture and mix well.  (The coconut flour sometimes gets clumpy…so mix well.)

5.Fold in the chopped nuts if you are using them.

6. dough should be stiff enough to roll into balls….divide the dough in half and roll into two equal sized balls (about the size of a tennis ball)

7. Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit a cookie sheet and place the two dough balls on the parchment line cookie sheet.  Press down into circles about 3/4 to 1 inch thick.  I cut each round “cake” into 8 bite-sized triangle-shaped pieces like you would cut a pie or pizza.

8. Separate the triangles and spread them out on the cookie sheet.  bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

9. Place scones on a wire cooling rack to cool.  Mine were in between the consistency of pumpkin bread and gingerbread….dense and slightly moist and heavy.

Glaze Instructions:

1. I made my glaze while the scones were cooking…..mix the almond butter, honey, almond milk and vanilla extract in a bowl and mix.  If it’s too runny, add more almond butter and honey until the mixture is a thick but squeezable frosting-like texture.

2. place mixture in a plastic ziplock bag and snip the corner off to make a “frosting bag.”

3. drizzle over cooling scones!


Recipe notes:  This recipe makes 16 bite-size scones….I’d say a serving is 2 bite size scones.  Prep time is about 10 minutes with 20 minutes of baking and another 5 minutes of time for glaze prep/frosting.  I don’t have nutritional info on this recipe.  I’d still eat them sparingly if you’re doing Paleo, but I’d say a serving a day (2 mini scones) for breakfast or a snack would be ok-ish.  🙂  I kept mine in a covered cake plate and they kept well!

You should be able to find almond butter, almond milk, and almond flour in the “healthy” section of your grocery store.  You might just have to ask a clerk for directions if you don’t typically venture down that aisle!  The only ingredient I had trouble locating (i.e. they did not sell it at Kroger) was the coconut flour.  I found it at Whole Foods, and I would think that any other organic or health foods store would carry it as well.  However, you might want to make a few phone calls (as I did) before you leave the house so you don’t drive all over town!

Halloween Costume

I love making Ransom’s Halloween costumes, all three years so far.  This year’s was super easy and quick, just like the last few years.  I almost dressed him as a garden gnome, because really, how cute are those little boys:

Everybody say “AAAAAAWWW”.   But no, I went another direction, knowing full well there’s no way 3-year-old Ransom will be a garden gnome either.. oh well.  Anyway, my other idea was also pretty cute and a bit more appropriate as I have a kid who 1) loves to be naked and  2) has white hair and 3) already yells “Bam Bam Bam” all the time. (Its the sound a hammer makes, duh.)

And, besides that, I already had almost everything I needed, save the orange fur and the brown belt. I picked up 1/4 yard of fur from Hancock’s for $2.50 and a belt from Goodwill for $1. So, yay for bargain costumes.

Ransom already an orange baseball cap and orange gym shorts, and a purple bone. And Camp Johnson provided us with a perfectly shaped cypress knee as Bamm-Bamm’s club and a can of white spray paint. I sewed a strip of fur to the top edge of the shorts, and then of course cut out little triangles from the bottom edge. Covering the baseball hat was easy too, just a hodge podge of sewing and hot glue.  I have to say, faux fur is very forgiving to work with.  And all those years of OM and cat costumes finally paid off.

Black cat photo bomb on Halloween – how appropriate!

And now, welcome to Thanksgiving season folks! I’ll be back on Monday with a post about the other project that’s been taking up all my “30×30” list time. Its done but not delivered yet. Yaba daba doo!

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