Saturday, May 30, 2015

This Man Of Mine

Custom Christmas Party 2013

My 50th Birthday Party 2014

Texas Bowl 2015
 For 34 years now he has been my Best Friend and Closest Confidant.  We have laughed together, cried together, planned together, failed together, and been blessed beyond anything we could ever have asked or imagined.

The family...minus Brian.
On this blog I often refer to him as My Hero...and that is exactly what he is to me.  He has loved me like no one else in this world.  He has encouraged me and helped me to become the woman that I am today.  I was a scared little sixteen year old girl who thought she was a woman and thought she had it all figured out.  My Knight-In-Shining-Armor was going to fulfill my every desire and treat me like a queen for the rest of my life. 

Instead, he taught me how to stand up for myself, how to be brave and strong, and how to give of my real self.  He also encouraged me to look to the One who could fulfill my every need...and prayed me through some rough times.  He held me close as we stood by gravesides and wrapped his arm around me as we watched our girls getting married.  He stood beside me grinning from ear to ear with the birth of each child; five of our own and seven of our grandchildren. 

And, yes...he still treats me like a queen.

He is My Hero...and I cannot imagine a life without him.

Happy 34th Anniversary, Jim! I love you to infinity and beyond.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Why I Drove All The Way To Branson, Missouri

At the end of April, I loaded up my car late one Thursday afternoon with three daughters, three granddaughters and lots (and lots) of luggage to head northeast on a Girls Getaway.  This one was a little different from the Girls Weekends I have attended in the past.  This time we were renting out a huge lodge and filling it with Jenkins Women.
The Rusty Moose Lodge
This place was gorgeous...Sitting above Table Rock Lake in all of its splendor!

Yet it couldn't hold a candle to the beauty that would be inhabiting her walls for the next three days.  It was time to gather with my family.
We had talked of doing something for over a year.  We booked the house the first part of July.  We discussed food and travel arrangements and what we wanted to do while we were in town.  They teased me that the whole reason for this trip was to teach this Jenkins woman how to make biscuits.  (And I did learn, by the way.)

What we didn't know was that my heart would be raw at the loss of my dad...and that I would need those women in the worst kind of way come April of 2015.

And so, it was a touch bittersweet for me to gather with members of my dad's family.  But you know what?  We had fun!  We laughed!  We cried!  We teased!  We cooked!  And we ate.  Boy, did we eat! And we watched as the next two generations of Jenkins women bonded...over Converse tennis shoes and Frozen dolls.

First Cousins Once Removed
I love these girls!

(Some of) The Next Generation of Cousins
Don't judge, they were OVER all the picture taking in about ten minutes.
And my heart was blessed beyond measure!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Sometimes You Just Savor The Ending

I love a good book.  The only thing better than a good book is a good book in a series of good books.

I just finished one of those in that previous category.

 I got hooked on the story of Gabriel Allon, an Israeli Intelligence Agent, with the release of 'The English Girl' about two years ago.  I had just finished the Dan Brown series and was looking for something good to listen to during my daily commute. I walked into Barnes and Noble and there it was just inside the front door.

I loved the intrigue and meeting all of the characters.  Finding out that it was #13 in an ongoing series was icing on the cake.  That meant I could go back and read twelve more, if need be, before the next book arrived!

One of the things I love about this series is that you don't have to read them in order.  Yes, there is a little bit of a 'history lesson' in each one as the recurring characters are reintroduced...but even if you start at #13, you get a complete story and do not feel like you have missed out on a thing.  I have listened to seven of the novels on AudioBook and I have read three on my Nook.  (Two of them I read traveling to and from South Africa last May.)

I downloaded "The Rembrandt Affair" on Audible this month even though I had a very hard time with the last book, "The Defector".  (It was my least favorite of the series so far.  Just a bit too brutal for me.)  I'm so glad I didn't give up on this series. 

As a matter of fact, I enjoyed this one so much that I didn't want it to end.  So I waited nearly a week to listen to the last two chapters of the book.  I needed to savor the victory of Gabriel and his team for a bit...especially after the way the last book ended. 

This is "a story of greed, dispossession, and death spanning more than half a century and stretching from Amsterdam to Zurich to Buenos Aires and back to the graceful shores of Lake Geneva. It featured a long-hidden portrait of Rembrandt, a twice-stolen fortune in looted Holocaust assets, and a man known to all the world as Saint Martin who was anything but ... "

And what a story it is! 

I'm suddenly looking forward to the next installment in the series, "Portrait of a Spy".  And I have already pre-ordered his next book which releases in June "The English Spy".  But first, I just want to savor this one for a bit.

Maybe I'll read a comedy next!

Happy reading, everyone.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Jenkins Girls' Retreat: 2015

We've talked about it for years.

This year, we finally did something about it.

We reserved a lodge in Branson, MO that would sleep 30 and most of us Jenkins Girls met up for a weekend of sweet fellowship and laughter.
From Left to Right: Dana, Aubree, Jana, Kathy, Brianne, Peyton, Addison,
Kristy, Camille, Kelli, Elliot, Brooke, Debbie, Delayne, Meagan, Janelle and Fonda
There were seventeen of us in all.  Three aunts. Five first cousins & cousin-in-laws.  Five first cousins once removed.  Three first cousins twice removed.

From the very first moments of our stay, the little girls were running and playing, laughing and giggling.  And it wasn't much different for us 'not so little' girls. 

I'll be sharing some of my favorite pictures this week...and maybe a few stories.

Until then, a huge 'thank you' shout out to these lovely ladies who have helped shape me into the woman I am today.  Love you all!

Friday, May 1, 2015

We Have Arrived In Our Promised Land

Yesterday at the office I found myself too busy to take a lunch.  I had brought my lunch to eat at my desk so that I could get outside on such a beautiful day to walk.  But the walk never came.  So, I took my lunch hour at the end of the day to walk.

But as I got nearer to the park, I thought to myself, "I'd rather drive on home and walk there so that I don't have to deal with the five o'clock traffic on the way home'.  So, I kept driving and arrived at home just a few minutes past five.  Jim was already home as we had a crew out clearing the place for our barn.  He was on the tractor when I arrived, but got down to show me where they had cleared the trees and how different it was looking out there. 

After we walked around 'oohing' and 'aahing' the great work they had done, Jim asked me to show him where NOT to bush-hog because of the dewberry plants.  As we walked around the property, I noticed that there were areas where the dewberries were already ripening.  I tried picking, but soon ran out of space in my hand.  So, I walked back to the house and grabbed one of my vegetable baskets, changed my shoes for muck boots, (doused myself in Skin So Soft Bug Spray) and headed back out.

About an hour and fifty sore muscles later, I had gathered about a quart of fresh dewberries.  (And I saw only one snake -- and that just a tail.  I left him that patch!)

When I showed our abundance to Jim, he commented "Dewberry pie and ice cream for dinner."  Well, I don't know how to make a dewberry pie...but I can sure whip up a dewberry cobbler.  And so, I did!

It was delicious!  (I had a small piece despite cobbler not being on my Daniel Plan approved diet.  90-10 y'all!) 

As I picked and ate the dewberries last night, I kept thinking of how the Lord was blessing us with food that we didn't cultivate.  We didn't plant them...didn't care for the vines.  They were just a gift!  A sweet reminder of home and family.  I thought of the Israelites as they took the Promised Land and were fed from fields and fruit that they had not planted (Joshua 24:13)...and thanked God for our Promised Land...our Home.

This simple dessert holds so much meaning for me.  My dad just taught me last year that these were not blackberries...but in fact dewberries.  And I used my Grandma Jenkins' peach cobbler recipe.  It was just so unexpected...such a gift.  Thank you, Jesus!

Wanna make a cobbler?  Here's how I do mine.

Grandma Jenkins' Peach Cobbler
1 cup sugar
1 cup self-rising flour
1 cup milk
1 can peaches
1 stick butter
Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Place butter in baking dish and place in oven to melt.  Mix together sugar, flour and milk until all lumps are gone.  Pour over melted butter.  Pour peaches over batter.  Place in oven for 30 - 45 minutes or until browned on top.   Serve with delicious Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla ice cream.
For this dewberry cobbler, I placed two cups of dewberries in a boiler with a cup of sugar and two tablespoons of butter.  I brought it to boil for about three minutes and then turned it off to cool a bit while I made the batter.  I tasted the dewberries to ensure that I had enough sugar in them as they tend to be a bit tart.
Disclaimer: This isn't actually my Grandma Jenkins' recipe.  She didn't use a recipe.  So as she made it one day, I took her handfuls of this and that and measured them out so that I could at least have a starting point.  But it tastes like hers!!!  So, I must have gotten pretty close.