Tuesday, November 26, 2013

No, It's Not A Slinky! DIY Wire Wreath

 Don't know what the weather is like where you are, but it's a very gray, gloomy day here in Nashville. We are two day's away from Thanksgiving and I have my menu planned and shopping done.  Whew!  That is a big relief.  It gets downright crazy at the grocery during the holidays and I am all about relieving any and all stress if and when possible.  How about you?

Since it is gloomy, I thought I would share something bright and cheery with you today.  Yes, we know that Christmas is coming.  I have not begun to decorate, but I have begun making things for this year.

I saw this wreath on a site called patinawhite.com.  She was showing her studio (which is amazing and gorgeous if you want to go sneak a peek) and all the things she had for sale for Christmas.  One of the pictures was a wreath made of wire and my heart jumped for joy when I saw it.  Do you ever see things and just immediately know you want one?  Must have one?  Will do most anything for one?  Sadly, there were no instructions for how to make it because it was for sale.  I looked at the picture and in my usual fashion thought "I can make that."  Yeah, right.

Oddly, I had bought a package with 50 feet of anodized wire one day at the Habitat Re Store for $3.00.  I just liked the way it looked and thought I could make use of it some day.  Well, someday arrived and I knew it was the perfect thing to use for making this wreath.  The wire was coiled in it's package so I knew it would uncoil like a big slinky - hopefully.  The wire did not let me down.
I needed some kind of heavy wire to make the wreath form so I went on my proverbial hunt to Home Depot.  In the electrical section I found this 16 gauge dark annealed wire.  It was the right color and weight that I needed.  It cost $10.00 which was not too bad because I can use it for a lot of projects.  I didn't use much at all for this wreath.   This is how it looks.
There have been many, many wreaths in my past since I worked as a floral designer for many years.  I had never made one like this, but I jumped in with both feet (and hands) to see if I could conquer this one.  There were moments of sheer frustration while I "figured" it out, but I know how to do it now and will be making more.  Here is what you do if you would like to make one.

First, make a round wreath shape the size you want.  My base shape is 18 inches which may be a bit big because it is heavy when you put all the stuff inside the wire and it caused the wreath to droop a little.  But, I have a solution for that!  Fourteen or 16 inches may be a bit more workable.
Twist the wire together where it meets to form a ring.  I made a fancy little hanger, but ended up not using it, so that is your choice.  *When the wreath was finished, it was too heavy for one ring of wire, so I went back and added another ring.  For safety, just make two rounds of wire to start with and attached them together with thin wire.*  (see instructions below)

Next, pull the wire coil out and start attaching it to the wreath form.  It took almost the whole 50 feet for the 18 inch wreath because of the coil.  I attached the coils to the base by using 30 gauge floral wire and twisting it around the coiled wire and the wreath form like this.  Use the same process for attached two rings of wire together to make the wreath form.
Do this every 4-5 inches to make sure the coil does not come loose from the wreath form.  It takes a little time, but is a must!  Go all the way around the wreath form and attach the coiled wire where it meets.
Now, it's time to fill in the coiled wire.  I made balls of yard by starting with a styrofoam ball and wrapping it with yarn.  It does not take as much yarn as if you were making a solid yarn ball and is not as heavy as a whole ball of yarn would be.  Just hot glue one end of the yarn to the styrofoam ball and then wrap in different directions until the ball is covered.  I used white, cream, tan, and dark red yarn.  You could use all one color or any colors you like.

Now for the fun part.  Using some different sized ornaments and the yarn balls, place them inside the coiled wire by separating the coils and pushing the yarn and ornaments inside.  I worked with mine until I got a look I liked.  Now for the "be careful" part.  I hot glued the ornaments and yarn balls together because the small ones will slip through the coils.  After they were all glued together, I used the 30 gauge wire and put it through the backs of the yarn in the yarn balls and wired them to the wreath form.  Just another "safety precaution" to keep them from falling through the wire.

I had some burlap ribbon that I used to make a bow and thought I was done.  I hung the wreath up to admire it and it sagged slightly causing it to pull out of round.  OH NO!  My OCD kicked in.  That was not acceptable, so I needed a quick solution.  It was really quite simple.  All that anxiety for nothing.  I used the 30 gauge wire and wrapped it around the center bottom of the wreath form and pulled it taught leaving a few inches more than needed and wrapped that around the center top of the wreath form.  The wire is behind the bow and not visible in any way. The wire is super thin.  The wire goes from top to bottom and holds the wreath in shape.  Ta Da!  Whew!  I was getting anxious there for a minute and that is why I think a slightly smaller wreath would not be as heavy.  Feel free to do whatever you want since there is a remedy to the saggy wire dilemma.

I plan to hang this wreath in the center of my tobacco basket during the Christmas season.  It is going to look awesome there.  I would not recommend this wreath for outdoor use because of the yarn and styrofoam balls and hot glue.  Hot glue will contract on the ornaments when they get cold and they will fall out of the wreath.  It's probably better as an indoor kind of wreath.  Just sayin'.  Do whatever you like.

This is a lovely wreath with a slightly industrial look or country vibe and appealed to my "down home" side.  It has many possibilities for year round use by using all yarn balls instead of some Christmas ornaments, or wrapping the styrofoam balls in different colored twine. Hmmm.  Another idea!

 I am making one of these wreaths for my friend Joyce for Christmas as a gift.  Try making one for yourself or as a gift.  Let me know how it turns out.  I'm ready to make some more!

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

You can't use up creativity.  The more you use, the more you have.  Maya Angelou

Monday, November 25, 2013

Our Dining Room Is Almost Finished

 Happy Monday everyone.  Hope you had an enjoyable weekend.  It is countdown to Thanksgiving and we are supposed to get some sleet this evening.  I have bread, milk, and eggs, so I guess we are good if things get slippery.  Don't you wonder why everyone rushes to the grocery when there is a threat of bad weather and the bread, milk, and eggs are all gone?   Guess everyone is going to make French toast.  What other reason could there be?

Yes, I have been working on Christmas projects and I will share those with you later this week.  I know it's not even Thanksgiving yet, but you must start early to get them all done in time.  Today, I wanted to share our dining area with you before it gets all gussied up for Christmas.  We moved here in July and I have been taking my time getting pieces that I wanted to use and that would fit our budget.  Sometimes it truly pays to be patient and wait for the things you really, really like and great prices are a bonus.  I like comfort and I guess what would be called a shabby chic look - very eclectic.   I don't necessarily follow convention or what is popular, but that is your prerogative in your home.  Do what makes you happy!

Because we now have an island on the kitchen side with bar stools, I no longer needed the huge table and chairs that we enjoyed for many years.  I knew it would be too big for this area and not what I really wanted, so I sold it to the young couple who was bought the house we lived in.  They were thrilled, I was thrilled.

Sometimes you have a vision of how you want a space to look.  We are living in a 1500 square foot condominium that is all on one level (yay!).  That is the same square footage as our former home, but it is laid out differently and seems much bigger somehow which is good.  There are more ways to use the space with furniture placement.  The kitchen/dining area has ceramic tile floor which is great for the working side of the kitchen, but a little "hard" for the dining side.  Therefore, I wanted an area rug to soften the space and that took me a little time to find one that had the colors I liked in the size I wanted. But, find it I did.  Price was right too!  Thanks Old Time Pottery.

The first thing I purchased for the space were two old wicker chairs.  I have a thing for wicker.  I found them at a second hand store at an amazing price - $35.00 ea.  They were dirty and needed a little TLC, but that was an easy fix.  Otherwise, they were in perfect condition.
Dan gave them a cleaning with some soap and water and then spray painted them in a nice, bright white.  They look so good now.
Amazing what a little paint can do.  Then the hunt was on for the right cushions.  Of course, it was the end of the summer season and the pickings were a little slim.  I found just the ones I wanted at Pier 1 (on sale of course).  They are a teal blue microfiber and I sprayed them with Scotch Guard because we have lots of little boys running around here on a regular basis.  They look more blue in this picture, but they really are a turquoise/teal color.
This is my favorite place in our home.  I love to sit and read here.  It is light and comfortable - sort of like sitting on a porch.  I am still working on what art piece to put over the chair on the left.  The table and lamp were things I already had.

We needed a table and chairs and I went back to the same shop where I found the wicker chairs.  Oh happy day!  When I walked in the door, there sat a marble topped bistro table on a wrought iron base.  It was love at first sight and boy was the price right!  It left in our car.
I cleaned up the top which is 36 inches in diameter.  I knew I would get a glass top to put on it to extend it to 42 inches.  That is the perfect size for the space and to seat 4 people if not more.  You can see it with the glass top in the other pictures.

Now, the chair dilemma.  You find tables for sale, but rarely find a complete set of chairs and chairs ARE NOT CHEAP!  I had in mind what I wanted.  I wanted French bistro chairs, but even old ones can be hundreds of dollars each.  That was not in my budget, so I started searching the world wide web for ideas.  I found a great chair on the Sears website of all places and it was  - are you ready? - $19.00.  I thought it had to be a mistake, but it said they were sold in store.  We have a Sears store 2 blocks from us.  We headed there immediately and they had them in stock!  Happy, happy day.  This is how they look.
They are a natural color and match a set of tv trays.  Yeah, 4 of those came home with us.  Four chairs under $100 is almost unheard of and they are brand new AND they fold up.  A coat of Zinsser and a couple coats of white paint later and they are the perfect chairs for the table.  I still have to make some cushions for them, but that will happen in due time.
Dan, Dan, the painter man, did these and they are awesome.  Look how great they look with the table.
He also painted the cabinet under the tobacco basket for me.  It was formerly a light cream color.  It looks so much better white with the wall colors and the other furniture.  Things are coming together!

There was no overhead light in the dining area and no electric box to hang one from.  I decided we would make our own hanging lamp using a shade I found at Target that I really liked.  I used a pre made hanging light kit from World Market to make the lamp in the corner (you can find directions for making it on my blog), but they are only 15 feet long and the switch is on the cord. We needed 25 feet of cord and I did not want the switch on the cord hanging on the wall where you could see it. I wanted to be able to turn the lamp off and at the bulb. So, we bought a three way socket, some clear wire and a kit that would attach the socket to the wire to make our hanging lamp.  We got most of it at Home Depot.  It's amazing the things you can find these days.  Great for when the existing things don't meet your needs.  We can now hang the light from hooks we put in the ceiling because it is light weight, not like a regular dining room fixture. 
This is a chalk board we made for the grandsons to play on.  This is my Thanksgiving board that I did with some of their sidewalk chalk.  Just a little reminder for all of us.

Next week, everything in here will be transformed for Christmas.  I am starting to get excited.  How about you?   We get to have a wonderful time with family celebrating our gratitude for all that we have been given on Thanksgiving and then it's on to the most wonderful time of the year.

Hope you enjoyed the little tour and pictures today.  You will be seeing the dining room again all gussied up for Christmas.  Thanks for looking.

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

I am grateful for what I am and have  My thanksgiving is perpetual...O how I laugh when I think of my vague indefinite riches.  No run on my bank can drain it, for my wealth is not possession but enjoyment.  Henry David Thoreau

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Barbecued Beans and Greens (I Added Sausage- Yum)

 Oooh, it has suddenly gotten cold here in Nashville.  It was below 30 this morning and that meant time to put the flannel sheets on the bed.  One thing led to another, and I ended up cleaning the whole house.  I don't know about you, but that leaves me with a great sense of accomplishment.  I even got my closet all organized (which had needed to be done since we moved in here at the end of July).  That sound you hear?  That's me exhaling a giant sigh.  I just love finally getting things done.

Now that cold weather is really upon us - and it is cold in most of the midwest - don't you wish you had some new recipes for tasty comfort foods that are easy to make?  Well, I've got one for you today.  This recipe is SO good and really easy to make.  Our daughter Holly gave me this recipe after she had it at a party for parents of students at her sons' school.  She told me it was one of the best things she had eaten in a long time, and I have to agree with her!  Even her boys like it and they are most suspicious of new things if you know what I mean.

This recipe is made with  cannellini beans, and kale.  As you may know, kale is the new darling of the health food world and with good reason.  It is full of flavonoids and antioxidants.  Kale is good for reducing cholesterol and helps detoxify our systems.  You can read all about the great health benefits of kale here http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=38.

I added a pound of browned breakfast sausage just to have a one dish meal.  This recipe would be just as good without the sausage, believe me.  The flavors are amazing.  I can see the skeptical look on your face from here.  Beans and greens?  Barbecue sauce?  Seriously?  You are going to have to trust me on this one and give it a try, just so you will know how good this really is.  Yummmmmmo is all I can say.  Here is what you need:

2 cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed (white kidney beans are the same thing)
8 cups chopped kale  (1 large or 2 small bunches, stems removed, chopped and blanched)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup barbecue sauce (they recommend Stubbs, I used Sweet Baby Rays - what I had and it's great)
2 tsps hot sauce  (I used Tapatio)
1/2 cup warm water
2 Tbsp cider vinegar
2 Tbsp dijon mustard
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb. breakfast sausage browned, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit

To blanch the kale, remove the stems, chop in small 1-2" pieces,  and place in a steamer basket over boiling water in a pan big enough to hold all the greens.  Cook for just a few minutes.  Kale can be rather chewy, so make sure you cut it in small bite sized pieces.  Mine was cut a little big and next time I will cut it smaller.  It will just make it easier to eat.  That is my only tip.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add the onion and saute for about 6 minutes until soft and translucent.  Add the garlic and saute another minute or so.  Add the blanched, chopped kale and cook for a few minutes.  Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.  

If you are using sausage, brown in a separate pan and add to the above mixture.

If not adding sausage, place everything in a 9" casserole and bake covered for 45 minutes.  If adding sausage, place in a 9 x 13 baking dish, cover and bake for 45 minutes.

Remove from the oven and serve.

This is SOOOO good.  You get protein, greens, fiber, and deliciousness from the sauce.  Serve with some hot bread and you are good to go.  The sauce is so good that I will use this for my baked beans from now on.  Amazingly good.

If you want to serve this as a side dish, leave the sausage out and make as recommended.  Just.  Plain.  Awesome.

I really like recipes that are recommended by others who have actually made or eaten them.  Sometimes choosing recipes can be a toss of the dice.  They sound good, but don't always turn out the way you hoped.  Give this one a try.  It is approved by 3 picky small boys and their Pawpaw.  Thanks, Holly!

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

There are two types of people;  those who eat kale and those who should.  Bo Muller-Moore

Monday, November 11, 2013

Make An Adorable Deco Mesh Turkey

 Happy Veteran's Day to you all!  Hope your weekend was spectacular.  Ours was lots of fun.  We had three of the Nashville grandsons spend the night with us Friday night and Saturday we all went to the Elves' Faire at their school.  The weather was beautiful and everyone had a great time.

We all know that Christmas is coming because ALL the stores are playing Christmas music and have their decorations out.  Ugh.  I hate that we almost completely skip over Thanksgiving now.  The holiday has become Hallowthanksmas.  It's like was start celebrating at the end of October and it all runs together.  Yes, I am old and I miss the days of very separate holidays.  There was  a time when no Christmas decorations went up until the day after Thanksgiving and I have to say I truly preferred it that way.  I love Christmas, but it seems to be featured about 1/3 of our year now.  I think it's too much and it looses it's meaning, becoming just a retail holiday.  That's my rant for today.  Sorry.

Now, let's talk about Thanksgiving which will be celebrated on the last Thursday in November.  President Abraham Lincoln  proclaimed Thanksgiving would be celebrated on the last Thursday in November in 1863 and ever year thereafter.  There had been celebrations since President George Washington, but it was celebrated at different times.  President Lincoln's proclamation is the one that we use to this day.

A sweet friend of mind sent me a picture of this adorable turkey and asked me how hard it would be to make.  Well, I looked at it and it didn't look too hard.  It seemed to be made on cardboard with strings for legs and the feathers were made from deco mesh.  It was really cute.  So, of course, I decided to make one for our dining room, but I did it my way.

If  you have been making deco mesh projects and have a lot of extra laying around like I did, the expense of this project is very small.  I bought a styrofoam ring at The Dollar Tree that is 7 7/8 inches by 1 15/16 inches thick.

I covered the ring with a piece of 9 x 12 brown felt and anchored it with greening pins that I always have on hand.  You can buy small packages of greening pins at most any craft store with a floral department.  They are metal two pronged pins that are U shaped.  You just push them through the felt into the styrofoam and it will hold it in place.  Easier than trying to hot glue it.

Next, I cut out the head from a piece of glitter craft foam that you can buy in packages at The Dollar Tree.  I just googled images of turkeys to get an idea for the shape.  I hot glued it to the brown felt.  I cut two small circles from some white felt and hot glues a rhinestone in the middle of each "eye."  You can use google eyes if you have them.  I cut a beak out of gold felt and the red waddle from a scrap of felt and hot glued them to the head.

For the "feathers," I cut strips of deco mesh about 2 feet long.  Then, I laid the strip on the counter and pulled on opposite corners to make it curl up.
Twist the middle of the strip and cut it in half.  Using a greening pin, I started at the bottom of where I wanted the Turkey's tail and pinned each half on either side of the turkey's body.  I continued with different colors until I reached the top.
You can use any colors you want.  I happened to have green, orange, gold, red, and brown, so that is what I used.

For the legs and feet, I wrapped two brown pipe cleaners around a pencil and poked them through the felt into the styrofoam ring using a dab of hot glue to hold them in place.  For the feet, I used two little felt sun flowers that came from a package of table scatter.  You could just cut a couple of pieces of felt and hot glue them to the bottom of the pipe cleaners.

To give the edge of the body a more finished look, I hot glued some orange sequins around the felt next to the feathers.  Done.  

I hung it in the middle of my big tobacco basket and it looks so cute!  Makes the dining room feel very festive and ready for a big Thanksgiving celebration.
If you don't want to rush right in to Christmas, try making one of these adorable turkey's for your wall or door.  You could also make smaller ones using small semi circles of styrofoam and use them as table decorations or place card holders. The bottom with just sit on the table with the legs extended to the front.   Hmmmm, may have to give that a go.

You've still got several weeks until we have Thanksgiving day to remember how thankful we are for all the blessings we have been given.  Try making your own turkey and let me know how it turns out.

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving.  W.T. Purkiser

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

 Why does fall simply scream for you to make things from pumpkin?  And, why is pumpkin so good?  And why are these muffins so super fantastic?  Let's see.  Because it's fall, they are made from pumpkin AND cream cheese and they are amazing.  Does that explain it?

This week was parent teacher conferences at our grandsons' school.  Mom needed help while she went to the conferences, so they stayed here with Grandma.  We had a lot of fun.  I taught them how to play Red Light, Green Light, Mother May I?, and Hide The Thimble.  There was also hide and seek and I Spy.  We had a lot of fun.  The also wanted to bake muffins, so we did.  The 7 year old picked this muffin off my Pinterest board.  We got to it and baked away.  Ever let a 3 year old crack the eggs?  I'm just sayin'.

This recipe makes 24 muffins.  That's a lot of muffins, so they took a good portion of them home so that Dan and I didn't eat them all.  The recipe is from Annie's Eats.  Here is what you need"


8 ounces cream cheese
1 cup powdered sugar


3 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 15 ounce can pumpkin puree
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil


1/2 cup sugar
5 TBSP flour
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
4 TBSP cold butter, cut into small pieces

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Spray muffin tins with cooking spray or put paper cups in each muffin well.

To make the filling, mix the cream cheese and powdered sugar with a mixer until well blended.  Set aside.

To make the muffins, combine the flour, spices, salt, and baking soda.

Combine the eggs, sugar, pumpkin, and oil with a mixer until well blended.  Add dry ingredients.  On low, mix just until blended.

Fill each muffin cup with just enough batter to cover the bottom of each well or paper (about 1 TBSP).

Scoop a small amount of filling (about 1 heaping tsp) into each muffin cup over the batter.  Top with remaining batter covering cream cheese completely.

Make the topping by mixing all the ingredients together.  Cut the butter in with a pastry cutter or a couple of knives until blended.   Sprinkle on topping.

Bake 20-25 minutes.  Cool completely before serving, as cream cheese center will be hot.

It will take all your will power to not eat as many of these at one time as you can.  Trust me.  Just look at the center of these muffins.  Yum.
My daughter said she ate 3 in one day, so just be warned.  I am not kidding when I say you will have a hard time staying away from these.

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, and then the Christmas holidays, you will certainly find an occasion or two to make and serve these.  Give it a go.  They are so worth it.

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

"Oh how we love pumpkin season.  You did know this gourd-ish squash has its own season, right?  Winder, Spring, Summer, pumpkin...We anxiously anticipate it every year."  Unknown

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Yes, Virginia, There is Chocolate Cobbler

 The last few days have been busy ones.  I have been working on projects for the Elves' Fair at our grandsons school which is this Saturday.  They attend a Waldorf school and this is their biggest fund raiser of the year.  Each family donates 12 items for each child they have attending.  Our daughter is a free lance writer and mother of 3 young sons and is very, very busy.  (I remember those days all too well).  Therefore, Grandma makes the items and donates them to the fair because we think the school is absolutely amazing!

So today, I thought we would talk about cobblers.  You know, there are pies, crisps, and cobblers.  Most cobblers are made from fruit with some kind of biscuit type topping for the crust.  Pies can have a bottom and top crust, or just a bottom crust.  Crisps, have a topping usually made with oats and flour and butter and other yummy stuff.

This cobbler is a bit different from the norm.  It has no fruit and does not have a biscuit topping.  It is called a chocolate cobbler.  I mean, yum, what could be better?   This is something traditional to the south and I had never had it before moving to Nashville.  The first time I enjoyed this special confection, it was made by a friend of our daughter's and Annie considers is her favorite dessert.  I might second that notion.

Personally, I am not sure I would call it a cobbler because it is more like a lava cake with all kinds of ooey, gooey chocolate under a cake type topping.   But, I didn't name it and if "they" want to call it chocolate cobbler, I'm all in for the name.  I really can't quibble with a name for something this wonderful.

This is all made in one pan and baked in the same pan.  Simple enough right?  It is also FABULOUSLY delicious.  What more can I say?  The recipe comes from a Gooseberry Patch cookbook and is called Granny's Chocolate Cobbler.  (Go Granny!)  Here is what you need;

3/4 cup butter, melted
3 cups sugar, divided
1 1/2 cups self rising flour
1/2 cup milk
1/2 + 2 TBSP baking cocoa
2 tsps vanilla
2 1/2 cups boiling water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit

Place the butter in a 9 x 13 baking dish and let it melt in the oven.  Remove pan from oven when butter is melted and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups sugar, flour, milk, 2 TBSP cocoa, and the vanilla.  Pour over the melted butter.

In a small bowl, mix together remaining sugar and cocoa.  Sprinkle evenly over the batter in the pan.

Pour boiling water over the batter and DO NOT STIR!!

BAKE AT 350 FOR 30 MINUTES.  Remove from the oven and try not to eat it all at once!

Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.  Look at that!  You know you want to make this!!

Merciful heavens, this is food for the Gods, the angels, and for you and your family.  I cannot adequately describe this dish, other than to say if you like chocolate you must make it as soon as possible.  Dan loves chocolate and he LOVES this cobbler.  (I kind of like it too!)

Give this recipe a try.  Let me know what you think.  (I can hear you drooling from here)

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

My therapist told me the way to achieve true inner peace is to finish what I start.  So far today, I have finished 2 bags of M&M's and a chocolate cake.  I feel better already.  Dave Barry

Monday, November 4, 2013

Hoppin John - Oh So Good

Good Monday friends.  Hope you survived the fall back.  Our daughters, who have young children, are suffering the time change with children getting up really early according to the new clock setting.  I must laugh because we have been there and certainly done that.  They just don't remember what it was like because they were the small children.  What goes around....as they say.

Today, I am sharing a recipe for Hoppin John.  My son, John, taught me how to make this years ago and it is absolutely wonderful.  Hoppin John is a combination of rice and black eyed peas and other goodness like bacon and onions and bell pepper.

My research tells me they are not sure where the name comes from, but Hoppin John was mentioned in cookbooks as far back as 1847.  Chances are, this was a dish made by slaves since there are similar dishes eaten in Africa.

Hoppin John is often served on New Year's Day in the south as a symbol of good fortune for the coming year.  The black eyed peas stand for coins.  Sometimes a few coins are placed under the plate of guests.  Corn bread is served for the color of "gold" and some kind of greens - like turnip or collards - which stands for money, are also served. Supposedly, if you eat this you will have good fortune and prosperity throughout the year.

I don't want to wait until New Year's Day to eat this delicious dish.  It is easy to make and very nutritious.  I promised my friend Linda, who lives in Texas, that I would post this recipe today.  She LOVES black eyed peas and wants to make this recipe.  Here is what you need:

6-8 slices of bacon, cut crossways
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans black eyed peas, drained and rinsed*
2 cups rice
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste

In a deep pot, brown the bacon until crisp.  Drain most of the bacon fat off, leaving enough to brown the onions, bell pepper and garlic.  When the onions become translucent, add the garlic, bacon, drained black eyed peas, the rice, and chicken broth.   Cook until the rice is done and most of the liquid has been absorbed.   Stir several times so the rice doesn't stick.  Add salt and pepper if needed.  I didn't add any salt.

*I used Bush's black eyed peas with bacon and jalapeno to add a little kick.  They are not hot, just have a little more flavor.  Try it if you like a little something extra.

This can be a complete meal if you wish, or served as a side.  Delicious!  It also reheats well.

If you are looking for some new winter recipes, this one is a good one to try.  It is easy, nutritious, and delicious.  Remember to serve it on New Year's Day for extra good fortune in the coming new year.  We can all use more good fortune!

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember

“How people could actually get themselves all worked up about saving the grizzly bear of the Rockies, and sit calmly by while such a magnificent dish as South Carolina Hoppin' John faces extinction, was more than I could ever understand.”

Sheila Hibben (1888-1964)