Monday, June 13, 2011

Thankful for The Dearest of Friends

Our best friends spent last week in Florida for a much needed and deserved vacation.  While they were there, Tonya celebrated a monumental birthday.  You know, one of those we don't want to acknowledge.  I phoned her to wish her the happiest of natal days.  We talked for a while, caught up on the latest, and then she asked if we would be okay with them stopping by and staying with us Saturday night on their way back to our old home town in southern Indiana.  Would we mind?  Oh no, we would be delirious if they would come and visit!  We moved here to middle Tennessee five months ago and we have only seen them one time when I had to return to decorate a wedding reception for the daughter of a long time friend.  I was so excited I almost cried.  We talked some more, I wished her happy birthday again and we hung up.  Time to start planning.

We met Tonya and Jeff when our sons were in sixth grade... middle school, you know that dreaded time in every child's life?  They chummed up and spent a lot of time together.  Craig became another son.  We met Craig's mom and dad, because I liked to know our children's friends and family.  It was instant rapport.  Not often in your life do you meet a couple and everyone seems to like each other.  It was karma as far as I am concerned.  For 10 years we spent a LOT of time together.  After the boys graduated high school and went off to see the world, we both became "empty nesters" because  they were our youngest.   We would meet for dinner several nights a week, or they came to our house when I cooked because I always made enough for an army and somebody had to eat it.  We didn't have to do much.  We would play games, watch a movie, talk, drink coffee, eat something sweet I had baked, talk, drink more coffee.  So many great times.  When they purchased a new house two years ago, we worked side by side with them getting the painting and flooring done so they could move in.  We had a great time.  Their house looked wonderful by move in day.  We are those kinds of friends.   Always there for each other.

We have four children, two of whom live here in middle Tennessee.  One daughter lives in Dallas and our other son lives in Chicago.  Their daughter finished her doctorate in physical therapy and moved to Little Rock, Arkansas.  Our sons who had been friends for so many years, moved to middle Tennessee.  I had owned my costume business for ten years and my husband was a middle school history teacher, retiring after 38 years.  We had planned to move to Nashville, but we all know what happened to the economy.  We stayed where we were for two more years.  Then, our daughter in Nashville had a baby boy in February a year ago.  Nashville was calling.  We would be closer to our daughter and her family in Dallas and our two children here in Nashville.  Our older son who had been living here got a role in a show in Chicago and his family moved there.  (It's like musical chairs when you have this many kids.)  We moved the last weekend in January and Tonya and Jeff were there from early morning, helping load the truck.  They came to Nashville with us and helped unload the truck.  What would we have done without them?  I really don't know.  They spent the night, helped again the next day until afternoon when it was time for them to head back home.  But, it was no longer our home.  One of the saddest days in my memory.  We said our goodbye's and knew we would keep in touch with promises to visit. Finally, it was here.  Their first visit.  We were so excited.  Now, what will I serve?

We had been to the farmer's market and I had a lot of fresh produce and fruit that I had purchased.  I had boneless, skinless chicken breasts also.  I will make chicken salad and serve it on a bed of romaine lettuce surrounded by fruit.   Oh, and some yummy sour cream corn bread muffins.  That recipe was given to me by our daughter in love now living in Chicago.  Time to get to work.  Here is the recipe.


3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 ribs celery
two cups grapes
1/2 small onion, chopped
1/4 - 1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 heaping TBSP sour cream
1/2 cup toasted pecans
a few sprigs fresh thyme
salt and pepper to taste
1 head romaine lettuce
assorted fresh fruits  (I used pineapple, strawberries, blueberries and bing cherries)  

Place chicken breasts in a pan and cover with water.  Cover pan, cook until done.  Dice celery and onions.  Place in large bowl.  Add grapes.  When chicken is done, drain and chop into bite sized pieces.  Add to bowl with celery, onions and grapes.   Start with 1/4 cup mayo and the sour cream.  If you like your chicken salad creamer, add another 1/4 cups mayo.  (I use 1/2 cup mayo)  Salt and pepper to taste.  Remove leaves from fresh thyme and add to bowl.  

Toast pecans in the oven at 350.  Place on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray.  Watch very closely as they burn easily.  As soon as you smell the pecans, remove from oven.  Remove from the pan as they will keep cooking.  You don't want them to burn.  Add to chicken salad.

I used shallow soup bowls to serve the salad in.  Chop the romaine into thin slices and place equal amounts in the bottom of each bowl.  Place about 1 cup of chicken salad in the middle of the bowl.   Surround the mound of chicken salad with fruits of your choice.  Serve.  Very easy, delicious and ideal for hot summer weather.

I will post the recipe for the corn muffins at a later date.  They are heavenly and a great complement to the chicken salad.  You could also use banana nut bread or strawberry bread.  

We ate, we talked, we talked and we ate.  After the dishes were removed and put in the dishwasher, we all came out on the deck.  It was a beautiful evening.  Dan made coffee and we enjoyed fresh peach cobbler with ice cream and talked late into the night just like old times.  

We went to our favorite coffee shop for breakfast and spent another few hours enjoying each other's company until it was time for them to head home to prepare for a busy work week.  Were we sorry to see them leave?  You bet!  Will they come back soon?  Yes.  When they do, we will take up right where we left off,  enjoying each other's company, talking, eating, and drinking coffee.  It's all about the special bond.  Here's to dear friends! 

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

"Each of us has an inner dream that we can unfold if we will just have the courage to admit what it is. And the faith to trust our own admission. The admitting is often very difficult."

"What we really want to do is what we are really meant to do. When we do what we are meant to do, money comes to us, doors open for us, we feel useful, and the work we do feels like play to us."

- Julia Cameron

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