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Spring Luncheon, with flower pot cupcakes

Can you hear the birds chirping?  And smell the wildflowers in bloom?  The pitter-patter of raindrops on the roof?  Ahhhh…SPRING!!!!  Everything old is new again.

How about having all your gal-pals over for a quick, impromptu lunch, easily prepared on a Sunday afternoon, and served on a manic Monday!!!  Do you work outside the home?  Text your closest circle of co-workers on Sunday night and tell them not to bring in lunch for themselves, because you’ve got a little surprise for them.  Then carry in this little luncheon for your super spoiled little crowd.



I used Pioneer Woman’s Cowboy Quiche recipe, from her cookbook, Food From My Frontier (one of my absolute FAVS), I cheated though and used a store-bought deep-dish pie crust, two in fact.  And, I did it myyyyy waaay, with a couple of special touches (to make it a little more girly without being PW’s “Cowgirl Quiche,” because I didn’t have those ingredients on hand).  Here’s how I did mine:


  • 2 whole Unbaked Pie Crusts (from the freezer section, thawed and poked)
  • 1 lb. Bacon, fried until crispy
  • 2 Tablespoons Bacon fat (left over from frying the bacon)
  • 1 whole red Onion, Sliced
  • 8 spears of fresh, raw asparagus (I have it growing in my garden, lucky me)
  • 1 cup of diced smoked sausage (I like the spicy jalapeno variety)
  • 8 whole Large Eggs
  • 1-1/2 cup Heavy Cream Or Half-and-Half
  • Salt And Pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups Grated Colby-Jack Cheese

Let’s Make it…

Fry the bacon until crisp. Chop into little bite-sized pieces and set aside to cool.

Fry the onions in the bacon fat in a large skillet over medium-low heat for about 10 to 15 minutes (until translucent), stirring occasionally. Set aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Fix the edges of your pie crusts, if you want them to look a little less store-bought, and then poke them with a fork around the bottom in a few places.  Sprinkle the crumbled bacon, chopped smoked sausage, onion, and raw asparagus around in your pie crusts, of course dividing evenly between the two pies.  Cover both with cheese.

Whip the eggs, cream, salt and pepper in a large bowl, and then pour the mixture into the pie crusts.  Use a fork to pull the contents around a little and make sure the egg mixture seeps down into it all really good.

Place the pies on a rimmed baking sheet, cover lightly with aluminum foil, and bake for about 35 to 40 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the quiche doesn’t jiggle easily when moved and the crust is golden brown. (The quiche will still seem slightly loose, but will continue to set once remove from the oven.)

Remove from the oven and allow to sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Cut into slices with a sharp knife, and serve!

You might like to top yours with a little dallop of sour cream, maybe a spoonful of pico de gallo, or torn cilantro leaves.  Maybe a drizzle of Shiracha?  Or just naked!






<  <  <  I got the idea for these when I saw this photo on DSCN8908.JPGPinterest, and then made it a reality when I found these flatbreads at my local HEB >  >  >

I purchased several packages of the flatbreads (and have them in the freezer, because the lady at the deli counter said our store is discontinuing them.  Bummer!!!!  Why do they do that just when I find something that I like???  Husband even liked. Ugh!!!)

Anyway, I took the thawed flatbread and drizzled it with olive oil on both sides, then grilled it for a few minutes on each side on a hot, preheated grill, which gave the bread the nice grill marks and made it really soft on the inside and crunchy on the outside.  I cut each flatbread into thirds and placed on a platter for my guests.

I purchased a tub of Veggie Cream Cheese and a tub of Chive Cream cheese to spread on the warm bread.

And then I had several veggies chopped up for toppings:

Sliced Radishes

Sliced Cherry Tomatoes

Sliced Red Bell Pepper

Sliced Cucumber

Sliced Red Onion

Baby Arugula, Kale, and Spinach mix

Marinated Artichoke Hearts

Olive Salad

Black Olives

And an eater’s choice of seasonings:

Fresh ground Salt & Pepper

Pizza Seasoning


Olive Oil

Basalmic Vinegar

I got’ta tell you, these are just darn good pizzas.  Even hubbie liked them, like a LOT!!!!  Even said I knocked dinner out’ta the park, and that I was back on my game.  Which made me blush a little.  And now I really want to impress him more!!!  Fresh, crunchy, delish!!!!




2 or 3 cans of frozen concentrate Lemonade (I like the kind with pulp, pink or regular)

Assorted Fruits:











Prepare a large pitcher with lemonade, following package instructions.  Fill large glasses with ice and set out a platter of cut-up fruits.  Let your guests pile whatever fruits they want on top of their ice, and then fill the glasses with lemonade.  When they are done sipping, they’ll have a nice fruit salad to eat!


And for dessert…..



I found these adorable, tough, reusable, silicone flower pots online, and once they arrived (and I washed and dried them), I used a boxed muffin mix to fill them, and then a canned frosting to frost them.  Who says cheaters never prosper?  Lol!

I should have purchased the chocolate rocks when I saw them at Amazon too, because there were none to be found in my little town (I’d insert a little sad face here except I don’t have the cute little emoticon stickers on my computer.  I guess I can always paste something from Google…….like this……which actually, surprisingly gives me a tiny bit of satisfaction).


At least we have a Wal-mart, and at least our Wal-mart has a cake isle in the hobbies section with a few choices.


And I found Chocolate mushrooms at FIVE BELOW:

choc mushrooms

And I had an abundance of MINT growing in my garden!!!!  So, I did the Martha Stewart thing!  Which was to poke a sprig of mint into each little cupcake after they were all decorated with the other stuff.


After frosting each cupcake, I sprinkled them with crushed Oreos (I whirled a handful of the cookies in my food processor until they turned into dirt), and tinted coconut flakes.  I really could have done a better job with the tinting!  Made it more green.  I’m a dork!

Just look at these chocolate rocks!  Gosh, they would have just been sooooo cute to put on top of the oreo dirt!  (I’m still sore about it!)


Oh well, “Be content with such things as you have!”  Nobody likes a whiner.

(((UPDATE:  I found chocolate rocks at Cracker Barrel!!!  $2.99 for a 3 oz. tube!!!!  And I also found these cute cute cute Gummy Lightning Bugs!!!!  Gosh, now I want to toally remake my cupcakes!!!)))

This is what mine looked like….before I poked in my mint leaves!



After my little luncheon that I hosted I thought of another way to make flowerpot cupcakes that you may like better…


Flowerpot Trifles

flower pot measurementsYou can use real terra cotta pots for the trifles, which come in larger-than-cupcake sizes.  And since the cake is not being baked in the terra cotta you won’t have to worry about dyes or other toxic elements leaching into your batter in the oven.  I soaked my pots in the sink to get the price stickers off, then I put my pots in the dishwasher and ran them through a full sterilizing wash cycle.  When they were done I put them in the oven on warm (170*F) to dry them out completely before using.

You can also decorate your pots all pretty before filling them with the trifle ingredients – just something simple that wouldn’t compete with the cuteness of the cakes themselves. Something like this, I was thinking..


Aaaaand…. if you’re feeling especially ambitious, as I was, you can make some cute little flower pot pens to give as gifts for your gal-pals desks, or home offices.  Or, even better, let your gal-pals make their own… after lunch. OOOO fun…cRaFt PaRtY!!!!!!  🙂


I found all the stuff for mine at Wal-mart (because seriously, that’s all we have), and when I got my little pots home I soaked them in hot sudsy water to help get the price stickers off.  I filled them with aquarium rocks.  Then I took a spring assortment of flower bouquets that I found in the floral section, cut them apart, and used floral tape to attach them to my pens.  I even found colored ink pens (Bic Cristal).

If you’d like, you can even have a nice little devotion while your eating your lunch!!!  Check out this one that I thought was really  sweet:



(NOTE: Bible Seeds devotional is now out-of-print, but you can find used copies online.)


“Oh taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man that trusts in Him.”

Psalm 34:8




Family Fun, Feast on This, Fun with Friends

Fort Inge, through the lense of a tag-along spectator

My granddaughter’s school was invited to Fort Inge Living History Days just outside of Uvalde, TX for a field trip this spring and I was invited to tag along.  We’ve actually gotten to do it for three years in a row now and this is my picture compilation from all of our visits.

Living History Days flier

FORT INGE. Fort Inge (also known as Camp Leona) is on the east bank of the Leona River a mile south of Uvalde in southern Uvalde County. The site is dominated by Mount Inge, a 140-foot volcanic plug of Uvalde phonolite basalt. Archeological evidence indicates the place has been intermittently occupied since the Pre-Archaic period, about 6,000 B.C. It is possible that ranching occurred there in the Spanish colonial and Mexican periods (see SPANISH TEXAS, MEXICAN TEXAS). On March 13, 1849, frontier artist Capt. Seth Eastman and fifty-six soldiers of companies D and I, First United States Infantry, established camp on the Leona, four miles above Woll’s Crossing. In December 1849 the post was renamed Fort Inge in honor of Lt. Zebulon M. P. Inge, United States Second Dragoons, a West Point officer killed at the Mexican War battle of Resaca de la Palma.

Fort Inge was established as a part of the first federal line of frontier forts in Texas. It was to serve as a base of operations for army troops and Texas militia. The missions of the soldiers included security patrols for the construction of the San Antonio-El Paso military road, escorts for supply trains and mail, protection for frontier settlements from bandits and Indian raiders, and guarding the international boundary with Mexico. The fort was a typical one-company, fifty-man post for most of its history. For a brief period in 1854 it was the regimental headquarters for the United States Mounted Rifle Regiment with a garrison of 200. One staff inspector reported that Fort Inge “is justly regarded as one of the most important and desirable positions in Texas. No station of the line possesses so many advantages as this . . . in point of wood, water, and soil . . . It is pre-eminent as a military site. [It is in] a state of constant warfare and constant service.”

Army units and officers of the post include the First Infantry Regiment (1849); Capt. William J. Hardee and Company C, Second Dragoons (1849–52); William A. A. (Bigfoot) Wallace‘s Texas Ranging Company (1850); the United States Mounted Rifle Regiment, under Col. William Wing Loring and captains Gordon Grangerand John G. Walker (1852–55); and the Second United States Cavalry, with Capt.Edmund Kirby Smith and lieutenants Fitzhugh Lee, Zenas R. Bliss, and William B. (Wild Bill) Hazen (1856–61). During the Civil War the post was occupied by Confederate and state units including Walter P. Lane‘s rangers; Company A, C.S.A. Cavalry; and John J. Dix‘s company, Norris Frontier Regiment. The fort was reoccupied by federal troops in 1866, and its final garrisons included Company K,Fourth United States Cavalry (1866–68); Company L, Ninth United States Cavalry; and Lt. John L. Bullis and Company D, Forty-first Infantry (1868–69). The Ninth Cavalry and Forty-first Infantry were black units.

The dozen buildings of the post were arranged around the rectangular parade ground with an enclosed stable at the south end of the post. The most substantial building was constructed of cut limestone and was used as a hospital and later as a storehouse. Most structures were of jacal construction-upright log pickets plastered with mud and whitewashed. A low, dry-stacked stone wall was built around the fort during or after the Civil War.

The establishment of the post in 1849 immediately attracted a number of farmers to the area. In 1853 Reading Wood Black bought land a mile upstream and began the settlement of Encina in 1855. The community was renamed Uvalde in 1856. Fort Inge was closed for federal service on March 19, 1869, and the garrison transferred to Fort McKavett. In 1871 United States troops returned to tear down some of the buildings and recover the timber and stone to be used in construction at Fort Clark. The site was used as a camp by the Texas Rangers until 1884. It was farmland until 1961, when it became Fort Inge Historical Site County Park. From 1980 to 1982 the Uvalde County Historical Commission and local donors sponsored archival research and an archeological project to establish an accurate and detailed history of Fort Inge.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Arrie Barrett, Federal Military Outposts in Texas, 1846–1861 (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1927). George Collins, “Fort Inge,” Junior Historian, September 1950. George S. Nelson, Preliminary Archaeological Survey and Testing of Fort Inge, Texas (Uvalde, Texas: Uvalde County Historical Commission, 1981). Thomas Tyree Smith, Fort Inge (Austin: Eakin Press, 1993).

Handbook of Texas Online, Thomas T. Smith, “Fort Inge,” accessed April 27, 2016,http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/qbf27.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association


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Our tour started with the Census taker

The Census Taker.jpg

The 1850 census saw a dramatic shift in the way information about residents was collected. In 1850, the census began collecting “social statistics” (information about taxes, education, crime, and value of estate, etc.) and mortality data.  For the first time, free persons were listed individually instead of by family. There were two questionnaires: one for free inhabitants and one for slaves.  According to the US Census bureau these are the questions that would have been asked of persons being counted for the 1850 Census.  

Schedule No. 1 – Free Inhabitants

Listed by column number, enumerators recorded the following information:

  1. Number of dwelling house (in order visited)
  2. Number of family (in order visited)
  3. Name
  4. Age
  5. Sex
  6. Color
    This column was to be left blank if a person was White, marked “B” if a person was Black, and marked “M” if a person was Mulatto.
  7. Profession, occupation, or trade of each person over 15 years of age
  8. Value of real estate owned by person
  9. Place of Birth
    If a person was born in the United States, the enumerator was to enter the state they were born in. If the person was born outside of the United States, the enumerator was to enter their native country.
  10. Was the person married within the last year?
  11. Was the person at school within the last year?
  12. If this person was over 20 years of age, could they not read and write?
  13. Is the person “deaf, dumb, blind, insane, idiotic, pauper, or convict?”

Schedule No. 2 – Slave Inhabitants

Slaves were listed by owner, not individually. Listed by column number, enumerators recorded the following information:

  1. Name of owner
  2. Number of slave
    Each owner’s slave was only assigned a number, not a name. Numbering restarted with each new owner
  3. Age
  4. Sex
  5. Color
    This column was to be marked with a “B” if the slave was Black and an “M” if they were Mulatto.
  6. Listed in the same row as the owner, the number of uncaught escaped slaves in the past year
  7. Listed in the same row as the owner, the number of slaves freed from bondage in the past year
  8. Is the slave “deaf and dumb, blind, insane, or idiotic?”



From there we wandered to the stations that were set up…

A visit to Fort Inge living history days


The first station on our tour was of the soldier’s quarters


Our tour guide had a display of the items in a typical soldier’s possession, along with a few items of what they mostly carried for rations, and then behind him was a small camp of the tents that they slept in.

On our second tour, the kids got to try on hats, and ask questions, and touch things.  Once the kids learned all about the food and sleeping quarters, and what a soldier might carry on him on the battlefield, they were lined up for drills.  Each student was given their own rifle (wooden replica) and then the hooligans were led through a series of drills. ATTENTION!  Admittedly, they might need a little more practice, but not bad for their first time out.


Moving on to textiles

At the next station the kids learned about yarn and thread and sowing and embroidery.

They learned about all the types of materials used to make thread and yarn, how it was brushed and washed to remove seeds and bugs and dirt, and then how it was spun into yarn or fine thread, which could then be woven into fabric and sewn into clothing, coats, hats, and under garments, as well as made into rugs or blankets and such.


And then we learned how folks kept all of their clothes and linens, and themselves, CLEAN!


The children learned about soup making: making lye, rendering fat, and adding perfumes; scrubbing and laundering, drying, ironing, and that whole lovely business.  And boy did it smell good at that station!!!

Wash station01

Wash station02


Next on the tour was weaponry

Here was a fairly massive display of hand guns, rifles, shotguns, hatchets, and knives, used for hunting and military action.  The kids even got to touch things.  Ha!  Pretty cool!

Weapons Man


We missed the firing of the cannon the first year of our tour, but on our third we had the good fortune of getting to experience all however many decibles of it.

The canon at Ft Inge

The Canon

Here is a video of the cannon being fired at Fort Inge Living History Days from several years ago…

Holy moley!  COVER YOUR EARS!


And next door to this was the Officer’s Quarters

Like the soldier’s station, this one showed the items that were typical for an officer to have with him, and showed his slightly larger and nicer sleeping and private quarters.


At the next station the kids enjoyed doing some CHORES

The kids learned about making rope, fetching water from a well, taking dried corn off the cob and grinding it into cornmeal.


Once they were finished with their chores they were allowed to run along to school…

…where they learned all about READING, WRITING, and ‘RITHMATIC!!!  Teachers were required to be single back in those days and usually came from out-of-town and lived with a family in the community during the school season.  The people of the community all chipped in to help pay her a salary, usually about $25 month.  Children attended school when their chores were done, so they came and went all throughout the day.  Students worked through their studies at their own pace, graduating to the next book once they were proficient in the beginner books.  They practiced their handwriting and math problems on a slate with chalk.  They also learned to write with pen and ink and the teacher gave a demonstration of the care of the pen and keeping of the ink, which was a precious thing in those days.

attending school


If there was any time left after chores and school, these were some of the toys that kids got to play with back in those days…

Dolls and Toys


The next two stations were the kitchens…

In this kitchen the men were making stews and soups, hot coffee, and hot boiling water for dishwashing.

Kitchen Cook


Next door to the hot stove was the other part of the kitchen, where the other preparations are made and the eating takes place…

In this kitchen our host was churning butter, and she told the kids about some of the baking and preserving (jams, jellies, pickles, etc.) done in those days.

She had made some molasses cookies and applesauce pies earlier that morning that made our mouths water.

Kitchen lady

She taught the kids about all sorts of period kitchen gadgets, and after we were gone, all of the volunteers would be sitting down to a nice prairie picnic of all the foods that were prepared in these kitchens that day.  I loved all the beautiful Blue Willow dishes and pretty tablecloths.


I think we walked past a station set up for blacksmithing…

(Everyone in our group needed to use the potty, and were all starving to death for lunch after seeing all that yummy smelling cooking), but there was soooo much more to see!


Various signs
These are some of the signs that are posted in various areas of the fort


This year we all got to experience a real Military TELEGRAPH station…

Military Telegraph

…which uses Morse Code to send and receive messages.  My have things improved since then.  Probably almost everyone on tour this day over the age of 12 had a cell phone in their pocket, which they could use to send text messages wirelessly.


And also this year we got to see a real Teepee set up…

Apache display

…with a Native man inside who gave an interesting presentation of the history of his people in the area.


And then there was the lady with the Dulcimer

lady w the dulcimer

…who played beautiful music for the students.  What a treat!  She took requests and played her instrument flawlessly while all the kids sang along, hymns and popular songs of the period that the children would be familiar with.


The last stop on our visit was around the hedgerow to see the camels…

Please click on the link to learn more about the US Army’s Great Camel Experiment from this Facebook Page.

Our guide for this Camel exhibit was very entertaining.  He played a couple songs on his guitar and sang for us.  He was very engaging.  The kids really enjoyed him, but I think what they would have loved more would have been to touch and ride the camels!

Great Camel Experiment


We ended our visit with a final climb on the rocks by an old outbuilding…

rock climbing at the fort

…and then headed off to our own picnic lunch in the park in town!!!!!!


Thanks so much for stopping by and learning about our little town’s neat little old soldier fort.  You’ll have to plan a visit out sometime during Living History Days in the spring.  Also, you might like to visit Fort Clark in Brackettville.  And if you can find it, this is a neat book written about Fort Inge that was given to us by relatives of the author.

Fort Inge book

Happy Trails y’all!!!

For more about Fort Inge visit Wikipedia.


And he said, “The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge; My savior, Thou dost save me from violence. “I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised; And I am saved from my enemies.”

2 Samuel 22:2-4




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Cowboy Style Backyard BBQ

Duuuuude! …Ranch that is.  When I think of a backyard barbeque I think of the time that I was a guest at my girlfriend’s ranch when the hands threw a BBQ feast that would knock you right out of the saddle.  I was the only dude; everybody else was the real deal.  Weeeeee doggies!  I loved when I got to stay the weekends with her.  Her life was so much different from mine.  I was a city girl – well, if you want to call the thriving metropolis of Edgerton, Wyoming a “city” (population 150).  Wilma, on the other hand, was a country girl through and through who lived on a ranch clear out in the middle of nowhere, where the deer and the antelope roam.  She had two older brothers and her dad was as close to John Wayne as you could get without cloning.  He sat tall in the saddle on his giant horse, Keno.  Keno was a plow horse with a shiny black coat and giant hooves.  Looking back, he was probably a clydesdale or something kin to it.  Wilma’s mom was the craftiest lady I knew.  She was always dressed so nice in her country western flare.  She made all sorts of grub from milk products and her summertime garden and all that a working ranch has to offer.  Her house was immaculate and decorated with stretched animal skins backed by layered, pinking-sheared felt, and Indian blankets hanging on the walls.

She also made jewelry out of porcupine quills. Porcupine quills?  Well, here’s the story that I got.  Wilma’s brothers were coming home kind of late one night and hit a fat and waddling porcupine in the road.  When they saw her in their headlights they swerved left and right, dust flying everywhere, but they couldn’t get the old Ford shut down in time.  Thump!  They bailed out to see if she was okay and saw that she was dead.  She was so big that they knew she was pregnant, so they did a prairie style emergency cesarean section on her and brought the little dickens home to mom to see if she could keep it alive.  Mom nursed the little critter with a tiny baby bottle, and not only did the tiny beast live, it became a family pet.  She plucked its quills to make her jewelry.  She made beautiful things from those quills.

Wilma had a bedroom in the ranch house, but her brothers all slept in the bunkhouse with the other ranch hands (probably why the house was always so clean).  We never saw much of them.  Our days were spent riding her horse bareback all around the ranch, and sometimes following her dad on his rounds.  Sometimes we’d pack up her record player and her Tanya Tucker, Dolly Pardon, Tammy Wynette, and Loretta Lynn records (…yes records – I know, this dates me.  If you don’t know what records are, ask your mom…) and we’d haul them up to the attic of the barn.  We’d push the hay bales around to make a stage, and then we’d string an extension cord, plug the record player in, and take turns pretending to be Country Western stars at the Grand Ole Opry.  “Stand by yer man…doot doo dooo…”  She knew all the words to all the songs, I just lip-sinked and pretended until I learned them.  See the thing about that kind of music is nobody listened to twangy Country Western in my house in the city.  But by the third sleep-over with Wilma I could cut loose at the top of my lungs with the best of them.  That’s also the beauty of living in the boondocks – nobody can hear you.  You know, I can still smell the barn in my memories.  Wood, leather tack, and hay —aaahhhchoooo— God bless me!

I always got a kick out of the phone thing too.  At Wilma’s house the phone was on a “party line,” and they had a special ring to let them know when the call was for them.  If you picked up the phone to make a call you might hear people talking, and if you lacked manners you’d listen in to see what they were saying – but everyone in Wilma’s house was polite not to, at least when I was there anyways.  And at night after we cleared away the supper dishes and cleaned up the kitchen, Wilma, her mom, and I, we’d gather around the CB and listen to the trucker’s conversations as they cruised by on the nearby highway.  Wilma’s mom even let me make up a “handle” so I could hold that microphone and push the button and say, “Breaker, breaker, one-nine,” and hopefully snag a passerby into a mini-chat.  What was my handle?  It was pretty corny – Capricorny!  The conversations were never too intelligent either.

Okay, so getting back to where I started…there was one weekend that I stayed over when the whole ranch had a barbeque planned.  My gosh it was a big to-do.  Wilma’s mom had made several salads and a big pot of ranch style baked beans, and several desserts.  There were a bunch of bow-legged cowboys hootin’ and hollerin’ in the back yard, some standing around the cook, others trying out their rope tricks on a saw-horse bull’s head, and another gang tossing horseshoes – clank!  The BBQ stove was made from a big barrel cut in half lengthwise with welded-on hinges and a vent pipe sticking out the top.  It was filled to capacity with ashen charcoals.  It was also big enough to cook a couple dozen steaks at a time, and you could feel the heat of it from three bunkhouses away.  The smoke from that iron trench rose to the heavens and made a big old cloud in the back yard.  It smelled sooooo good, as only charring, perfectly seasoned, aged bovine can smell.

They asked me how I liked my steak and I said, “Well done, please!”  In just three shakes of a lamb’s tale (that’s a nano-second to you and me) here it came.  I looked at it like a beginner climber might look at Mount Everest.  It wasn’t like any steak I’d ever seen before – it was a ROAST, that could have fed my whole family.  I weighed in at about a buck o-five, this steak was just under that.  It took up my whole plate at an inch and a half thick.  The crimson juices ran all over the plate until they were spilling over the sides.  When I stuck my fork in, it wiggled a little and let out a moo.  I asked, sheepishly, if my side-of-beef could smolder just a smidgen longer on the hot coals until it was dead, dead, dead.  They gave me heck and teased me for a stretch, but obliged me.  When I got’er back I worked on that thing most of the night trying to git’er done, but it was mission impossible.  I rolled around in bed that night with a belly full of cow that would last me the rest of my life.  Okay, maybe not that long.  Yeehaw!  I am a Wyoming girl after all.

So, for my backyard BBQ I’m gon’na play on my memories of this grand little shindig and add a little dude to it, ’cause I really don’t know no better (and yes, I know that was not proper English).

Here’s what I’m thinking for my City Slicker Cowboy BBQ party:


Set up several bench type picnic tables in the backyard.  Cover them with red and white check tablecloths.  Set up a CD player with my favorite Country Western tunes, or set it on a good Country Western radio station – Sirius Satellite if you have it.

In the invitation ask guests to dress up in western apparel:  cowboy boots, cowboy hats, button up shirts with tight Levis and big belt buckles, or women’s shirts and skirts with Cadillac Cowgirl accessories.

Come ‘n Get It MENU

Marinated and grilled Tri-tip

Corn on the cob

Potato Salad

Boston Baked Beans


Corn Bread



Iced Tea

Peach Cobbler

By the way, isn’t this a cute idea for napkin holders?  I found a motherlode of bluejeans pockets at my local antique mall a while back and this is how I decided to put them to good use: 

MARINATED AND GRILLED TRI-TIP   (Serves approximately 8)

Marinade Ingredients

1 cup lemon juice
1 cup soybean oil
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup black pepper
1/2 cup garlic salt (recommended: Lawry’s)
1/2 cup chopped garlic
1/2 cup chopped dried onions

2 (4-pound) tri-tips, trimmed


To make the marinade, mix all of the ingredients except for the beef in a large mixing bowl. Place the trimmed tri-tips in a plastic container and pour the marinade over. Let stand in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours.

Heat grill to medium temperature.

Place tri-tips on grill at a 45 degree angle to establish grill marks and cook about 35 minutes, or until cooked to desired doneness. Remove the tri-tips from the grill and let rest about 2 to 5 minutes before slicing. Serve with your favorite side dishes.

Corn on Cob



As many ears of sweet corn on the cob as number of guests

Butter (lots and lots of it)

Cajun Seasoned Salt, like Slap Ya’ Mama (or another favorite of mine is the wonderful Hatch Chili seasoning from Urban Accents that I got at Central Market in San Antonio, TX)


Leave the corn in the husks and grill on the grill, about five to eight minutes per side until all sides are burned. Remove from grill and keep warm in oven on low (170 degree) heat.  When ready to serve cut the stem ends off completely about 1/4″ up the cob.  Let your guests peel the husks off by loosening the husks from the corn where the cob was cut.  Grab the silks end firmly and pull the husk off the cob.  The silks should slide out with the husks and you should be left with a nice clean cob of corn.

Now I have some dandy little plastic corn cups that fit a cob of corn perfectly.  Place a couple pats of butter in each dish and then about a teaspoon of seasoning sprinkled all down the length of it.  Lay the hot cobs of corn on top and roll them around until they are covered with seasoning and melted butter.  Offer little cob forks to make them easier to hold onto.

Potato Salad

POTATO SALAD (serves approximately 20)


12 large red potatoes cooked until tender and cubed, skins on or off as preferred

6 hard boiled eggs, cooled and chopped

1 large red onion diced

6 stalks of celery chopped

1/4 cup sweet pickle relish

1 small sprig of dill weed, chopped

1 bunch of green onions chopped

1 or 2 large jalapenos, seeds and stems removed, diced

Sauce Ingredients:

2 ½ cups Mayonnaise  (more or less, as you like it)

¼ cup red wine vinegar

3 tsp Iodized Sea Salt

¼ cup sugar

1 tsp pepper


Put first eight ingredients in a very large bowl.  Mix up sauce ingredients and pour over the ingredients in the bowl.  Toss to coat.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Optional additions:

Add 2 Tablespoons of mustard to finished potato salad.

Add a half-cup of blue cheese crumbles and a quarter cup of crispy crumbled bacon as a garnish on top of potato salad.

Baked Beans

BOSTON BAKED BEANS (serves approximately 8)


1 large package dried navy beans (or 6 cups)

2 bay leaves

8 cloves

1 large white onion, peeled

1 cup molasses

1 ½ cups dark brown sugar, firmly packed

2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons iodized sea salt

2 teaspoons pepper

2 cups boiling water

1 lb of salt pork


Rinse the beans and soak overnight.  Drain and rinse the beans again.  Put in a large kettle and cover with fresh water to about ½ inch above the beans.  Add the bay leaf and bring to a boil.  Simmer until tender, about 2 hours.  Drain. Place into a casserole dish.

Poke the cloves into the onion and add it to the beans.  Mix together the molasses, sugar, mustard, salt, and pepper.  Add the boiling water and stir to blend thoroughly.  Pour over the beans, adding more water if needed to almost cover the beans with liquid.

Push the piece of salt pork down into the beans until it disappears.  Cover beans and bake in a 275 degree oven for about 4 ½ hours.  Uncover and continue to bake another half hour.  Take the pork rind out and chop up into bite-sized pieces and return to casserole.  Cover and keep warm until ready to serve.  May also be served cold by allowing to cool and refrigerating overnight.

Cole Slaw Fruity



1 head of green cabbage, shredded (approx. 8 cups)

1 cup red cabbage, shredded

1 cup grated celery

2 Fuji apples peeled, cored, and chopped

½ of a small white onion finely sliced

1 green bell pepper thinly sliced

3/4 cup of white raisins

1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted

Optional: caraway seed, ground (’cause that’s how my grandma made it)

Sauce Ingredients

1 ½ cups mayonnaise

¼ cup lemon juice, or white wine vinegar

1/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt


Place the first seven ingredients in a large bowl.  Mix together sauce ingredients and pour over veggies.  Toss to coat.  Cover and refrigerate until chilled and ready to serve.  Just before serving sprinkle with slivered almonds and ground caraway seeds.  Serve within 2 hours for a crispier salad.  The salad will become more wilted the longer it marinates.

Mexican Beans
Cowboy Beans / Charro Beans (mmmm…one of my favorties)



2 boxes Krusteaz Honey Cornbread mix

1 1/3 cup of milk

4 eggs

1 (16 oz) can of creamed corn

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

3 Tablespoons diced jalapenos

2 green onions chopped finely


Prepare 1 large 9 x 16-inch baking pan by lightly greasing with shortening or cooking spray.

In a large bowl blend all the batter ingredients until just moistened.  Pour into prepared pan.  Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 to 25 minutes or until light golden on top and springs back when touched.

PEACH COBBLER (serves approx. 6)


2 Tablespoons cornstarch

¼ teaspoon ground mace

½ cup brown sugar

4 cups sliced peaches (fresh or frozen)

1 Tablespoon lemon juice

1 Tablespoon butter

Topping Ingredients

1 ¼ cup flour

¼ cup sugar

1 ½ teaspoons Baking powder

¼ cup butter, melted

1/3 cup milk

sugar cinnamon mixture


Put first 6 ingredients in a saucepan and cook until thickened.  Add another Tablespoon of cornstarch mixed with 3 Tablespoons water if needed for thickening.  Fresh and frozen peaches produce moisture.  If using canned peaches, drained, you won’t need any extra cornstarch.

Pour peach mixture into an oblong glass dish 8 x 12-inch that has been lightly greased with butter.

Place all topping ingredients in a bowl and mix together.  Dough should be very much like biscuit dough.

  Topping can be added to the peach mixture one of two ways.  Some like a peach cobbler with a topping that looks a lot like drop biscuits.  Others like a cobbler with a lattice topping like pie.  If you like the drop biscuit type then just take small spoonfuls of the batter and slide them off onto the peaches with your finger or a knife, dropping a small pile about ½-inch apart all over the top until all the batter is used up.

  If you like the lattice top, sprinkle a little flour on your work surface and pat out the dough with your hands, flipping to coat with flour.  With a floured rolling pin roll the dough out to about ¼-inch thickness.  Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, slice the dough into strips.  Lay one set of strips horizontally across the top of the peaches about an inch apart.  Pull every other strip back and lay in a vertical strip.  Lay the pulled back strips over it and pull back every other of the other strips.  Lay another strip in and lay the pulled back strips over it.  Repeat until you have a lattice pattern over the peaches.  Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.

Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 25 minutes for drop biscuit topping, less for latice top, or until the crust is just golden and the filling is bubbly.  Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.


I’ve heard that in the olden days the cowboys would dump the grounds in with the water and set the pot on the fire to cook.  When the coffee was made they’d break an egg into the pot to round up the grounds.  Let’s be honest… that’s got’ta be the nastiest cuppa-joe on the planet.  We’re not doing that.  We’re just gon’na brew it in the old Mr. Coffee machine (or Keurig).  And since we’re sissy city slickers anyway let’s splurge and have some creamer – flavored creamer if you are one of those.  Serve it in little tin cups for looks.



I personally like the frozen Minute Maid concentrates the best.  I mix them up with twice as water as directed and then slice up several lemons and float the slices in the lemonade.  It will probably  need some more sugar (try 1 cup to start).  I like the pink lemonade with pulp.  And when I’m feeling really fancy, I add a bag of frozen strawberries (or raspberries, blackberries, even blue berries) to the pitcher.

If you are feeling really really fancy you can make Fruity Lemonade:  Fill a glass with a chunk or two each of the following fruits:  Watermelon slice, pineapple chunk, frozen strawberry, maraschino cherry, orange slice, lemon slice, lime slice, raspberries and a mint leaf.  Mingle the fruits with ice cubes and pour the lemonade over the top.  Serve with a striped straw.  When you are done drinking you have a nice little fruit salad to munch on.

For another change of pace I make Limeade from frozen concentrate, use club soda for the liquid – a little more than called for, add some sliced limes, just like I do for the lemonade. Plus, I add a jar or two of drained maraschino cherries to the pitcher.  Lip smackin’ good!


1 gallon of fresh tap water

1 Family Size tea bag

sugar or other sweetener

I brew my tea in the sunshine.  I fill my freshly scoured sun tea jar with cold tap water and hang a Family-size Lipton teabag in it (folding the corner over the lip of the jar and holding it in place with the lid), screwing that lid on snuggly.  Then I set the whole business out on the back patio until the sun brews it a nice dark golden brown all the way to the bottom.  I hurry and bring it in and pull that teabag out, and since I like mine sort of sweet I add about a cup of sugar and stir it in while the tea is hot.  Ten I set the jar in the refrigerator to get cold.  I like my tea over a tall glass heaping with ice cubes.  Mmmm… mmmm…. mmmm, it just doesn’t get any better than that. Unless of course it’s…


Not me, Mrs. H., but by BFF Treva’s mom, Mrs. H. — Mrs. Hendrickson.  She was bar-Nunn the best cook of the prairie.  Treva’s mom had a gallon container of this concoction in the fridge at all times when we were kids.  It was the number one requested beverage of all gatherings of kids in our school for all time.  It was always the first beverage to run out, and believe you me the party was over when that happened.

In a one-gallon pitcher add:

1 small can (6-oz) frozen lemonade concentrate (or spoon out half of a large can)

1 envelope Orange flavored Kool-aid, non-sweetened

5 Tablespoons Instant tea

1 ½ cups sugar

Add fresh cold water to the gallon mark

Stir until mixed.  Mrs. H. always poured hers into a clean gallon-sized plastic container like what distilled water and drinking water comes in, so she could cap it and store it in the fridge.  I always use a gallon size bottle of drinking water to make my tea, so I will have the container to make my tea –  just like Treva’s mom had.  This tea just goes with everything.  You’re gon’na love it.

Now, what to do after grub time…


Set up a “stage” using bales of hay, and after dinner let your guests have a go at some Country Western Karaoke.

Cowboy Poetry

Ask your guests to do a little research before the party and round up some cowboy poetry.  Perhaps your guests are poets-and-didn’t-know-its and would care to take a dare and write some lines of rhymes on their own times and bring ’em. Gather everyone around the fire pit or bonfire and let him or her take turns sharing the funniest and cleverest.  Roast marshmallows and invite your guitar-playing buddy to lead the gang in some prairie tunes, like Home, Home on the Range.  It will be a little like camping. 🙂

Cowboy Poetry, by Hal Cannon

Cowboy Poetry Classics, by Various Artists (Audio CD – Sep 13, 2005)

Coyote Cowboy Poetry, by Baxter Black (Hardcover – Oct 1, 1986)

Elko! A Cowboy’s Gathering, by Various Artists (Audio CD – Jan 25, 2005)

Cactus Tracks and Cowboy Philosophy, by Baxter F. Black (Paperback – Oct 1, 1998)

Cowboy Poetry: The Reunion, by Charlie Seemann and Virginia Bennett (Paperback – Jan 20, 2004)

 (And there are tons of others.  Type “Cowboy Poetry” into the search box at Amazon.com)

Also, try this website: http://www.cowboypoetry.com/yours.htm#Classic

We are lucky in our family that we have Harold.  He’s my cousin-in-law who dabbles a bit in cowboy poetry, among his many other talents.  He wrote a poem once about MUSTANGS that I just love.  It’s actually best when he tells it, live and sitting around a campfire.  I’ve lost my copy that Sonya sent one Christmas and I’ve been kicking myself ever since.  We got together for a family reunion a couple summers ago and he told of few of his poems while we were all sitting around after dinner.  Darn-it, where’s a video camera when you need one?

MUSTANGS by Harold Anderson


Horseshoes & Steer Roping

Definitely set up a horseshoe pit (see Family Reunion chapter for how to set up a horseshoe pit), and even a sawhorse mounted steer head for some roping practice.

Target Practice and Knife Throwing

Set up a target strapped to a tree for knife throwing competitions, or line the fence with pop cans for some target practice.  If you live in the city use rubber band guns or a Red Ryder BB gun.  It will be a hoot, I promise!

Rubber Band Gun vendors:


http://www.firewheel.com.au/fw/index.aspx  (really cool gun!)

Gunnysack races

Be sure and pick up some gunnysacks for races at your local farm and ranch store (like Murdocks), and maybe even a small horse trough filled with water and a half a box of apples, so the kids can bob for apples.

Needle in a Haystack

Make a big haystack and hide some treasures in it for the kids to find.

Rope Tricks

Make sure you have some lassos so your guests can learn some rope tricks.  Here’s how to do them:  http://www.inquiry.net/outdoor/spin_rope/index.htm

Rodeo Race

This is a team relay race so divide your group into however many teams of equal number and be prepared with a stopwatch to time them.  At the starting line is a giant stick horse, a cowboy hat, and a neckerchief.  At the whistle the first person on the team has to put on the gear and ride the stick horse through the rodeo arena.  First they’ll zigzag through the pole bending, at the end of the poles are the barrels, which they must circle each one without knocking ’em over.  They’ll ride from the last barrel to the waiting rider, hopping and kicking like they’re on a bucking bronc to the finish line.  The next rider has to put on the gear and repeat the process (in reverse) to the waiting team member at the other end.  Whichever team finishes in the quickest time wins.

Square Dancing or Line Dancing

Remember when we all had to learn to square dance in P.E. class at school when we were kids?  You always wondered where in the world you would ever use that in life – well…right here, at your Cowboy BBQ, that’s where.  Clear an area for the Square Dance and see how much you remember.  Get a Square Dance CD to refresh your memory if it has faded over the years from lack of use.  Or, if you’d rather, learn a couple of line dances and teach them to your guests.  There is a wonderful line dance video out there that you can use to teach yourself and your guests.

Square Dance Fun for Everyone (2 CDs and Booklet) – Kimbo; Audio CD

Let’s All Square Dance – Various Artists; Audio CD

A Quick Start Guide to Line Dancing (Shawn Trautman’s Learn to Dance Series) – Shawn Trautman; DVD


Give each guest a harmonica and give everyone time to pick out a tune… then have a contest and pick the winner of the best tune.

Play Harmonica in One Hour, Featuring Bobby Joe Holman by Bobby Joe Holman (DVD – Nov 29, 2005)


After dinner, how about a nice outdoor movie under the stars?  Drag the TV outside on the patio.  Gather all the lawn chairs around it.  Wrap everybody up in a saddle blanket or sleeping bag, and let’s watch an old western.  Pick a movie, any movie:

The Shootist                Tombstone                  Silverado                     Quigley Down Under

The Cowboys              Tom Horn                    Open Range                The Quick and the Dead

True Grit                     Bite the Bullet             Wyatt Earp                  The Sons of Katie Elder

Pale Rider                   El Dorado                   Nevada Smith             Long Riders

Paint Your Wagon      Outlaw Josey Wales    Once Upon a Time in the West

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance             Young Guns                The Magnificent Seven

Maverick                     Urban Cowboy           8 Seconds                    Unforgiven


Pure Country               Lonesome Dove (ummm… that’s a little bit long to watch in a night)

Campfire Stories

And when we’re done with that, how about sitting around a campfire and telling stories, roasting marshmallows, or singing to the guitar until everyone is snoring?

Stories for Around the Campfire, by Ray Harriot (Paperback – Dec 1986)

More Stories for Around the Campfire, by Ray Harriot (Paperback – Dec 1986)

The Kids Campfire Book: Official Book of Campfire Fun (Family Fun), by Jane Drake, Ann Love, and Heather Collins (Paperback – Jun 12, 2001)

I personally love Patrick McManus

Board Games

Here is the short list of some “Cowboy” themed board and card games if you’d like to give them a try.  Look for them online at Board Game Revolution and Amazon.com.

Cowboys: The Way of the Gun

Wyatt Earp (card game)

Snorta!  New Edition from MATTEL (I hear this one is hysterically fun)

The Farming Game by Weekend Farmer

Racing ‘N Rodeo Board Game, by Weekend Farmer

Late for the Sky Rodeo-Opoly, by Late for the Sky

Life on the Farm, by WeRfun.com

* * * 

Well, partner, I reckon I better run off now and git something done with myself.  Been sittin’ here at this dern computer most of the morning.  Can’t wait to get this party started with you.  Happy Trails!!!

* * *

 “Now the servants and officers who had made a fire of coals stood there, for it was cold, and they warmed themselves.  And Peter stood with them and warmed himself.” 

John 18:18

Family Fun, Feast on This, geocaching

The Old Geocaching Tub

So I started with a plan this morning to organize my closet.  You know the drill…open the door, flip on the light, cringe, take a deep breath, and then just wade in and grab something.  Well, the first thing I put my hands on was my GEOCACHING tub, sitting on the floor.  To be honest, that’s when the day took a detour.  I should have listened to the voices in my head screaming, “DON’T LIFT THE LID,” but I’m an infamous dawdler and I couldn’t resist.  I drug it out into the room and began sorting through the contents, spreading them all over the floor.

contents of tub

Memories danced in my head, cutting in on each little piece.  First was the ammo can that we bought (once a-dime-a-dozen at a sporting goods or army surplus store; worth a pretty penny now) we were planning would be our next cache to hide in the boonies.  We even had the coolest spot picked out – for a night cache, and had purchased the reflective thingies to tap into fence posts to lead the way.  There were some other geocache containers, and even one that we got as a first-to-find prize (it was a fake sprinkler head – you can’t see it, it’s in the backpack).   And I found my pile of stickers and labels and muggle cards that we figured would turn any old mayo jar or coffee can into a viable geocache.

There were a couple pair of toe socks, a stuffed animal, two First-to-Find card games, a few “Signal” antennae toppers, and several other frog-themed trinkets that we had picked up as replacement items for our frog-themed geocache, hidden on frog rock, what seems eons ago.

And then there was my backpack, filled with zippy bags, pencils, little notepads, my notebook, a big zip bag filled with swag (compasses, little first-aid kits, key chains, hero-clix figures, and matchbox cars), gloves, a couple of flashlights, some small geocaches, and our hand-held gps, plus a dozen or so extra batteries.

The next thing I found was lying in the bottom of the tub.  This is really what rearranged my day.  It was a baggie with all the duplicate copies of our travel bug dog tags.

They had been attached to various toys, given sundry goals, and placed in a diversity of geocaches, out on their lone adventures in the world.  I lived vicariously through each one, so excited to read the logs and follow their travels from cache to cache.  Some of them ended up in Canada, and Europe, and even Kuwait.  Some really fun members even took and posted pictures.  Are we such dorks or what?

And then we moved away.  Our lives became so restructured and scrambled that geocaching got misplaced.   Caressing each of these darn tags in my hands made me wonder whatever happened to them. I can’t even remember when the last time was I got a notification.  I got online to investigate…….and I discovered that sadly  most of them are indeed missing, either because the geocaches they were placed in went missing (probably muggled, or put somewhere else by weather or surveyors or God knows), or the person who last logged having them never placed them, like they maybe lost interest in the hobby soon after starting.  Ho-hum.  I spent a brief moment mourning their sad and tragic disappearances.  And that’s when a light-bulb-moment struck me that, well, ended up in the creation of a new and creative type of cache – a virtual cache hidden in cyber land…

…and while I was at it, bring new life to one of my dead Travel Bugs.

Needless to say the closet did NOT end up getting any more organized after that.  :/


Now, perhaps you have stumbled upon this article and are wondering…

What in the heck is a geocache?


Ummm, well, let’s see, the only way I know how to explain it is……okay, let’s pretend you are out on a morning walk.  You’ve got your earbuds in and you’re trucking down the pavement when you run into a person kind of loitering suspiciously around a park bench, looking somewhat annoyed at your sudden appearance and maybe a little bit guilty-acting, like you caught them doing something they shouldn’t be doing.  You say hello hesitantly and jog on by, but down the trail turn to look back and catch them kneeling down, head poked in a bush like they are reaching for something.  Your curiosity is roused and so later, when you pass back by that spot and nobody is around, you stop to investigate.


Do you see anything?

Not really?  Try stooping down a little closer.


Still nothing?

Try pulling back a branch.  Squint your eyes into the darkness.


There, right there….now do you see it?

What the heck is it?

Looking around to see if anyone is watching, you snag the box, tuck it under your sweat shirt, and run like heck to your car.  (BTW: You are a “muggle.”)  Inside the box is another box and inside of it is a little notebook with writing in it and pencil.

There is a coin – something like a gaming token, some wooden nickels, flare, erasers, a compass, some Band-Aids, and a stuffed animal with a dog tag attached to it.  The dog tag has a bug logo on it and a number at the bottom.   A note inside the box asks you not to remove it from the place you found it, and identifies itself as a geocache.  There is even a website listed.  So, what do you do?

Well, hopefully you whip out your cell phone and go to the website and read a little about it.  And when you find out that it is a game piece hopefully again you sneakily run the box back to its exact hiding place without telling anyone or being caught by anyone.

ScreenshotOnce home, you revisit the website and decide, hmmm, membership is free, I’m gonna sign up.  And when you do you find out that there are geocaches hidden all over your neighborhood….and all over your town….and all over between your town and the next town….and all over your state and the next state….and all over the entire freaking world, actually.  You’re actually blown away at  how many there are.   And what’s crazy is people walk right by geocaches every day and don’t even know that they are there.  It’s like this big secret, and now you are part of it.  Now you want to go out and find one deliberately, so you download the app and the widget to your phone (or tablet) and the next day when you are out on your walk you hunt for one.   And you are excited when you find it.

You go back to the website to log your find and it shows that there is a trackable in that cache.  It belongs to someone who sent it out into the world with a goal – in this case the goal is to move around to geocaches near racetracks.  You remember about your upcoming trip to Daytona, and so you decide to go back and get that travel bug.  When you are in Daytona you find a geocache right near the racetrack and you place the little guy in it. You log all of this of course on the website.

After a few months of finding geocaches, all kinds of geocaches, geocaches that you have to search for at night with a flashlight, and geocaches that are part of other geocaches (multi-caches) that make you to solve puzzles or learn something about the location where they have been placed, geocaches in out-of-the-way-places you didn’t know existed, and geocaches hidden in plain sight in a busy shopping area that you really really really have to look hard for but not arouse interest by muggles.  There are big geocaches (5-gallon plastic buckets) and medium geocaches (ammo cans) and small geocaches (hide-a-key boxes and medicine bottles wrapped in camo tape) and micro caches (that are sometimes as tiny as a watch battery).  After a few you talk your friends into becoming geocachers, and drag your spouse and kids out with you.

Eventually you decide it might be fun to hide your own cache (not mentioning any names but – COUGH – Frog Rock, Toadily Fun, Truly Ribbiting Geocache, with a Feeling Froggy TB inside, and a bunch of frog themed stuff).


After a while when you’ve found most the geocaches in your neighborhood, it will become appealing to you to sign up for notifications when a new cache is hidden, and pretty exciting the first time your notification comes.  The first time you might put off going to look for it right away, and when you see that someone logged finding it within 20 minutes of it being posted you’re like, wth?   So now it’s your goal to log a “first-to-find.”  After several failed attempts you become annoyed that apparently none of these FTFers have jobs, and you’re right…they don’t.  Many of them are old retired duffers with nothing better to do.  God bless them, at least they’ve found a fun way to stay active, but gosh darnit grandpa…you’re going down!

After that challenge is conquered there is always another – like finding the hard-to-find geocaches, the evil ones (as I call them).  The ones hidden at like the top of mount Everest (okay, maybe we’re not that challenged)…

093452-R1-15-16A - Copy

…or the ones hidden in truly devious containers – like that piece of tree bark wedged in the groves of a tree’s bark that has been carved with a geocache number on the underside, or the hollowed rock geocache hidden in a huge pile of rocks that will take you a decade to sift through.

…Or the water faucet that isn’t really a water faucet, or the sprinkler head that isn’t really a sprinkler head, or the fence post cap with a cache inside, or a switchplate on a wall that isn’t really a switchplate. Oh yes, they get evil.  After a few failed attempts you message the owner for a tip or hint.  And then you become determined to find these evil little b@$+@® )s without any hints or helps.

Matt on 4-wheeler

Out on a 4-wheeling adventure?  Guess what, there’s probably a geocache somewhere along your trails – super fun to do with your friends/family!

Idaho Geocache2

Maybe you are taking a trip and want to find geocaches at every place you stop for gas, food, and lodging, as a way to stretch your legs and get the blood flowing again.  Maybe your road trip leads to Seattle, the HQ for “ground zero” and you feel like snooping around the lily pad?

Maybe you will challenge yourself to find a certain number of geocaches in a certain number of days…or maybe the challenge will be to find all the geocaches in a certain geographic location (state park), or along a particular route (Route 66 from Kingman to Williams, for instance).  Maybe you want to do only micros.  Or only travel bug hotels.

In the course of this adventure you’ll meet other geocachers, and you might even start going to geocaching events, like a flashmob photo-op on a CITO day, or a meet-n-greet carry-in potluck at the park where the host has also hidden dozens of brand new geocaches that you get to compete with each other to find after lunch.

Or maybe it will be a Woodstock event, national, with it’s own collectable coins and everything.  At some point you might even decide to organize your own unique event.

Loot from a Cache & Feathers event in Casper, WY
Loot from a Cache & Feathers event in Casper, WY

Maybe you’re a leader at your church youth group, or a scout leader looking for a new activity to do with your kids? The kids are going to be out of school soon.  Get them away from the TV and take them (and their bikes) to a park (in town, out of town, on a mountain, by a lake, at a campground).  No kidding, there are geocaches there!  Perhaps you are an activities coordinator at a senior center looking for a new activity to introduce to your seniors.  Truly, the sky is the limit on fun things to do with geocaching.

Sooner or later another hobby, or the weather, or life event is bound to come along and compete for your time…


…or maybe you’ll just become bored with it.  That’s okay.  Geocaching will always be here, everywhere, any time and any place the mood strikes.  Believe me, the bug will bite again.  Perhaps one day when you least suspect, one day when you are cleaning out your closet and stumble upon your geocaching tub.  🙂

 Visit http://www.geocaching.com to sign up for a free, totally free, membership.  Download the app for your phone, and the widget.  Check out the rules, so you don’t spoil the fun.  They also have a blog so you can find out anything you ever might want to know about the sport (http://www.geocaching.com/blog/).  And they are on Pinterest (https://www.pinterest.com/gogeocaching/) with tons of informative and creative pins!
Entertaining, Family Fun, Feast on This, Mexican Fiesta

Stir Crazy® Mexican Fiesta

Well, today is my yard work day.  There is grass to mow (like seriously if it doesn’t get done today I’m going to have to get goats), rakes to leaf (wait, did I say that right? You see why editing is such a chore for me), a few gardening tasks, plants to water, and bamboo to chop (that is taking over my river bank), and yet here I sit, drawn to the screen of this infernal contraption again like cats to catnip.  All I can think about is writing and telling you (that one dear anonymous person out there who might see this post) all about the Fiesta Party I threw for my sister years ago, believing with all my heart that my experiences will be the cat’s meow, soooo captivating to my audience-of-one that you get right to work planning your own Fiesta Party, for Cinco de Mayo in fact, maybe, which is coming up very soon.  Prrrrrr  (that was Kitty-soft-paws…from Puss-in-Boots –yeah, was it lost on you?  Hey, what can I say, I’m a dork!).

Okay, all kidding aside, this really is a fun way to spend an evening with your friends – your kooky friends who like to cook, and eat, and play games.  Since I purchased my game many howling moons ago, Decipher seems to have gone out of business and their games appear to be out-of-print, which is truly unfortunate, however, you might get lucky to find a copy at a thrift shop or online.  Until then I will share the contents of my box with you and let you improvise.

HERE IS HOW THE GAME WORKS: Have you seen the Food Network show, Chopped? It is a lot like that. You split your guests into two teams (a SALT team and a PEPPER team).  These teams play a game against each other to win ingredients from the pantry of groceries you purchased ahead of time. Each team then has 90 minutes to produce a main dish, side dish, and dessert with the ingredients that they won, and recipes that they have stashed in their memories.  At the end of 90 minutes, everyone sits down to partake of the created dishes and judge them. Stir Crazy provides the spinner, grocery lists, chef’s hats, aprons, and a cassette tape with audio instructions, and about an hour or so of perfect fiesta dinner music.  I’ve included a picture of this for the visual people out there – me, me, oooo pick me.

“How many cooks can you fit in your kitchen?” I didn’t see any way for two teams to be able to prepare their dishes together in the same kitchen, specifically my itty bitty galley kitchen for sure, so I sat up a 2nd kitchen in our den (just off the kitchen) using a long table and electric skillets, an electric double- burner camp stove, a toaster oven, pans, bowls, and utensils, and paper towels.  The BBQ grill in the back yard was also available as a third stove.  And may I also suggest a wash station be added to this auxiliary kitchen with a basin of hot soapy water, another with rinse water, and a pitcher of water for cooking.  It will keep you from having to constantly invade the other team’s kitchen (possibly catching an elbow to the eye) to get water or wash things. Of course what host would mind the imposition (and possible bruising), since your guests are basically making their own supper?  Ha!

At my party I announced the time periodically during the preparation, and retrieved necessities for anxious contestants on an unyielding deadline. I ran for drink refills for everybody, and took several pictures. I had to stop and laugh, yes, nearly pee’d my pants a few times, as the interaction between players got pretty hilarious. I heard a husband shouting sarcasms to his wife on the team in the other room, “Who said this was fun? We’ve got to have a party like this!”

The players not only cook the food, they are also supposed to decorate tables within the time limit. Everything they do is judged, everyone votes by secret ballot and prizes are awarded at the end, even a prize for the dish the dog wouldn’t eat.

Well, I guess I can’t vouch for my guests, but I had so much fun with this party. We didn’t end up with a dish that the dog wouldn’t eat, everything turned out yummy, which was an accomplishment considering that no recipes are used. And after supper we found places to sit all around my tiny little house, and played games.

Here are the scrapbook pages from my party:Fiesta party scrapbook page1

Fiesta party Scrapbook page2

scrapbook page3

I scanned my copy of the host guide for you and have included those images here.  Read through it in planning your own party.











I also have included a copy of the invitations.

Missing of course are the chef hats and aprons, the cassette tape (with the audio instructions for how to play the game, and the wonderful mood-setting music), and name badges (badges? – we don’t need no stinking badges).


Recipes for Snacks and Beverages (provided by the host)


12 cups water

½ cup firmly packed brown sugar

3 whole cloves

1 ½ sticks of cinnamon

12 oz. whipping cream

1 ½ oz. Unsweetened baking chocolate

1 ½ cups coffee beans, ground

1 ½ tsp. Vanilla

In saucepan, boil water. Stir in brown sugar, cloves, and cinnamon stick (broken in half). Reduce heat, simmer 15 minutes. Whip cream into soft peaks – refrigerate. Stir chocolate into brown sugar mixture until melted. Add ground coffee. Cover and let stand 5 minutes. Stir in vanilla. Strain mixture through coffee filter. Pour into cups and garnish with whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon.


Add a teaspoon of cinnamon and a pinch of ground cloves to the 4 scoops of coffee grounds that you put in the filter of your coffee maker. Pour in cold water and brew . Add 1 oz. Unsweetened baking chocolate, 1 tsp. Vanilla, and ½ cup brown sugar to the freshly brewed coffee in the pot. Let it sit on the hot plate until chocolate melts. Stir immediately, or keep in a thermal carafe.  I serve mine with Coffee mate French Vanilla creamer, canned aerosol whip cream, and a sprinkle of cinnamon to garnish.

HORCHATA (pronounced Or-chaw-ta)

Makes about 5 to 6 cups


1 cup of long grain white rice

1 cup chopped almonds, without skin

5-6 cups of water (to taste)

1 cinnamon stick

1 cup of simple syrup or sugar (more or less to taste)

1 tsp. vanilla extract


In a clean coffee grinder (one that does not smell of coffee) or food processor, pulverize the rice into dust. If using a coffee grinder it works best if done in batches.

Combine rice, almonds, cinnamon, and 3 cups of hot tap water in a large glass bowl or pitcher. Let sit covered overnight.

Pour the mixture into a blender and purée several minutes until as smooth as possible. Add the sugar and remaining water and blend again for just a few seconds.

Strain the horchata through a sieve lined with 3 layers of damp cheesecloth, or a tea towel, into a bowl. Pour a little at a time and keep stirring to help the mixture go through the sieve. Once all the liquid has passed through to the bowl, gather the cloth together at the top, give it a twist and squeeze out any additional liquid. Pour the liquid into a clean pitcher. Cover and refrigerate.

The drink should keep several days, refrigerated. Serve in tall glasses over ice. Garnish with ground cinnamon, or some lime zest if desired.


5 large Plum tomatoes (vine ripe) – diced (skin on)

2 medium Garlic cloves – chopped

1 or 2 *chilies – diced (*Chilies of choice: roasted Anaheim, Chiles de Árbol, Pasilla Chiles, Serrano, Jalapeno, Poblano, or Habañero)

2 slices, ½ inch thick, of white onion – chopped

½ tsp. Dried oregano

¼ tsp. Ground cumin

2 tsp. Olive oil

1 tsp. Rice vinegar

½ tsp. Salt

Fresh Cilantro to taste

Lime juice to taste

Pan roast your chili of choice. Dry the frying pan, peel, seed, and de-vein chilies. Pan roast the garlic until just toasted. Toss in bowl with remaining ingredients. 1 Tbsp. of canned tomato sauce can be added. Serve at room temperature with tortilla chips.


2 large ripe mangos, peeled, diced

1 cup finely diced Mexican or Hawaiian papaya

2 Tbsp. finely diced white onion

2 Tbsp. finely diced red bell pepper

2 Serrano chilies, minced with seeds

1/3 cup fresh lime juice

1 Tbsp. chopped fresh Cilantro

1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh mint

½ tsp. Salt (or to taste)

Toss all ingredients together gently in a glass bowl. Refrigerate and serve cold, within 4 hours for best texture and flavor. Great served with roasted grilled poultry, fish or pork…but I just love it with tortilla chips as a dip.


I bought a Margarita Bucket from Sam’s Club and to that I added:


Margarita salt (for the glasses)

Limes (for garnish)

And you’ll need Margarita glasses for your guests

A day ahead of your party, add desired amount of tequila to the contents in the bucket and place in the freezer. As guests request, dip and swirl a Margarita glass in the slushy liquid in the bucket and then dip in the Margarita salt to coat the whole rim of the glass. Use an ice cream scooper to scoop out the Margarita slush into the glass. Serve with a slice of lime placed on lip of glass for garnish.


1 Bottle of red wine (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Rioja, Zinfandel, Shiraz)

1 Lemon cut into wedges

1 Orange cut into wedges

1 Lime cut into wedges

2 Tbsp sugar

Splash of orange juice

2 Shots of gin

1 cup of sliced strawberries or raspberries, grapes, and melons

1 small can of diced pineapples (with juice)

4 cups ginger ale

Pour wine into a large pitcher and squeeze the juice from the lemon, orange and lime wedges into the wine. Toss in the citrus wedges (leaving out seeds if possible). Add pineapple, then sugar, orange juice and gin. Chill overnight. Add ginger ale, berries, grapes, melon and ice just before serving. If you’d like to serve right away, use chilled red wine and serve over lots of ice. The best Sangrias are chilled around 24 hours in the refrigerator which allows the flavors to really marinate into each other.

If you would like to make yours non-alcoholic, use a bottle of sparkling red grape juice in place of wine and replace the gin with 2 Tbsp of instant tea.

After Dinner Entertainment

You can make it a dinner and movie night, in which case I would recommend re-watching something like Zorro (with Antonio Banderas and Selma Heyek), or a spaghetti western like The Magnificent Seven, or The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, or the cartoons Rango, and/or Puss in Boots.

Game Options


In case you are unfamiliar, Lotería is basically a bingo game, except instead of numbers it is pictures. Everyone gets a Lotería card and a handful of pinto beans to mark the spots. Each player antes a dime into the pot for each round. A deck of cards with the same pictures is shuffled and used by a caller for calling the spaces.

And just like Bingo, a vertical, horizontal, or diagonal line is a “Lotería!” The winner collects the dimes wagered for that round. You can increase the ante if you’d like. We were poor.

Everyone clears their cards and pitches in another ante for the next round. It is easy to play, and perfect for mixed-age crowds. The only challenge is keeping up with the caller, who is supposed to keep a fast pace. If you are unfamiliar with Spanish you have to keep watching the caller to flash the card so you can see the picture. It’s a lot like a tennis match (look up, look down, look up…), but it is also enormous fun.

I asked my mom if she would be the caller for our game, since she was the only one that knew Spanish and could pronounce the words correctly.

CANASTA (cards)

I love this game.  Lots of fun.  Players who are unfamiliar will catch on pretty quick.  This is a great game to play for hours, snacking and refilling drinks in between sets.

MEXICAN TRAIN (dominoes)

I love this game too.  I especially love to play it with JoAnn, although I am sure she cheats with her constant table talk of how she can’t see the dots and doesn’t know if she has any dominoes to play, and then miraculously has none left to play when everyone else at the table is stuck with our stupid piles of double twelves and such.

MEXICO (dice) – see rules at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mexico and http://www.ehow.com/list_6720314_rules-mexican-dice-game-21.html

If you want to make a night (or day) of it, I have, on other occasions, set up game tables around my house and split my guests into groups of four players, each group starting at a different table, with a different game being played at each table. After an hour or so I ring a bell to signal them to move to the next table for the next game. When all the players have made it through all the games, its goodnight Irene! Or, Jose!  Or Maria!  Or whatever your party name is.

It is helpful to have at least one person at each table that is very familiar with how to play the games, so they can teach it to the others who may be unfamiliar.

Allllllllrightythen….I guess that about does it.  Thanks for reading and have a blast my amigos and amigas!!!  Andale, andale, arriba, arriba!  (Please trill your R’s and use your Speedy Gonzales voice, I beg you!) 🙂

“And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it [is] the gift of God.”  Ecclesiastes 3:13

Entertaining, Family Fun, Feast on This, Kentucky Derby Party, Office Parties

First Saturday in May — KENTUCKY DERBY PARTY

Jolee & ColtIt’s April.  My sweet little granddaughter is over and she is chompin’ at the bit to take a carrot across the road to feed the colt.  The neighbor’s painted mare has had her foal and he is just about the cutest thing we’ve ever seen!  He looks just like his mama, but with l-o-n-g legs and a miniature little body.  He is the star attraction at grandma’s house these days, following his mama around, nursing, nibbling on grass, and growing like a weed. Now that he has learned to walk and run, he has begun to jump and romp and play.  Oh my goodness he is darling.

Just like that little colt I’m jumping in the stalls to have a party!!!  And perhaps because of him, I want to have a Kentucky Derby party.  The timing could not be more perfect.  The annual Run for the Roses is held the first Saturday in May, the Preakness is three weeks later, and the Belmont Stakes rounds out the triple crown another two weeks after that, in June.   How fun would it be to dress up and get to go to the actual Churchill Downs in Louisville, and see the horses run live?  So much history.  So much tradition.  So many stories.

I’ve always loved horseracing.  When I was a kid, while other kids’ dads were leaping out of the stands at little league baseball games, my dad was listening to a commentator on the radio announce, “The horses are at the paddock…they’re in the gate, aaaand…(ring) THEY’RE OFF!”  Our town used to hold pari-mutuel racing at our fairgrounds for a good many years and my husband and I would go for the afternoon almost every weekend of the season.  As far as I’m concerned any sport that you can attend LIVE is the best.

At the official website for the Kentucky Derby (http://www.kentuckyderby.com/) there is a tab for planning your own Kentucky Derby Party.  There you can preview the horses and bet the derby, pick up recipes like Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie and the Early Times Mint Julep, and sort through a fitting spread of party game ideas (KentuckyDerbyParty.com).

Think I’ll call my party the Hoffman Stakes, and of course hold it at the Hoffman Downs (aka: our house).  I kind of like the idea of Derby foods too, and bluegrass music is picking in my ears.  I think it would be fun to have everyone come dressed nice, as if they were going to the real Kentucky Derby…fancy clothes, and fancy hats for the ladies (or, we could be casual and do crazy hats for the ladies and gents).  I like the idea of a Buffet of derby foods, so guests can help themselves for the duration of the party.  If I have them arrive about an hour before the telecast we can spend some time getting to know the horses and making our wagers with each other, and then when the race is about to begin we can gather around the television to watch the run-for-the-roses LIVE! After the race and the excitement and the exchange of wager winnings, I have an evening of games planned, a video game, a board game, and a yard game, in addition to all the snacking and sipping, and contests and white elephants, and…..oh just keep reading….it’s gonna be a  hoot (I hope).  I’m so excited!!!

Here’s my plan:

horse clipart1 Month Ahead – Find everything for the party:

Rose clip artPARTY GAMES (for after the big race)

Purchase and get familiar with them.  My plan: Set up a video horse racing game in the living room for 10 players, a horse race board game in the dining room for 10 players, and a horseshoes pit game outside for 10 players.  Rotate between games about every hour.

DSCN9201I chose Derby Day DVD game

This DVD game comes with a DVD, play money, lucky horseshoes (cardboard), a bookie betting board and pen, and instructions for play. I purchased mine from Amazon.com several months ago and paid about $20 for it (I believe), and it works perfectly in my USA zone DVD player.  The game is super easy to play. Just pop the DVD in the player and press start when ready. The instructions say to hand out $100,000 to each player or team for betting money. Once that is done and someone has been selected as the bookie, you press play on the DVD. The pre-race parade for race #1 pops up on the screen. In the parade each horse is shown briefly with their name and odds. There are 12 horses in each race. Once all 12 horses are shown on the board the DVD goes into pause mode so that everyone can place their bets. Once all bets have been placed you just hit the pay button and the horses are off. You watch the race and the announcer gives the play by play. At the conclusion of the race a slow motion photo finish comes up with the winning horses listed. The DVD goes into pause mode again so all winners can receive their winnings from the bookie.

There is a quick betting guide on the back page of the instructions that tell you what the pay off is for each bet under each of the odds. The horse that finishes dead last is the “Wooden Spoon” and the person or team who bet on him gets their money back. When all winners have been paid the DVD may be started again for the next race. Eight races finishes a game, and whomever has the most money at the end of the eighth race is the winner. Lucky horse shoes are used by players or teams when placing a bet and will double the amount won if the horse bet finishes in the money. Lucky horseshoes may only be used once.

At the end of 8 races you can start another eight. The horses will be the same for each of the next 8 races, but they will not finish in the same order as they did in the first 8 races. So you can play and play and play until you are sick of playing. The horses are simulated. The races are not actual race footage. It is like a video game, but it is well done. Your guests will be screaming at the TV just as if they were at a real racetrack.

DSCN9204The Horse Race Game (board game)

I purchased my game from Amazon.com quite a while back and paid around $25, I believe.  This is the game description from the manufacturer:  “Add some excitement and a real adrenaline rush to your next get-together. The Horse Race Game is one of those games your friends will ask for again and again. Players line up their horses at the gate, pay entry fees and place bets. Then roll the dice to move the horses forward or add to the purse. The anticipation grows as the pot gets bigger and the horses advance, till one crosses the line and the “”owners”” share the winnings-it’s a different race every time and anyone can win! 8 years and up.”

And this is the Product Description: “And down the stretch they come! Bring the excitement of the track into your own home with this board game tribute to the sport of horse racing! In fact, it’s the official board game of the Kentucky Derby. Don’t worry – you can’t lose any real money in this game – you’re playing with fun money! Players pay a $1.00 entry fee and are then dealt cards with racehorses on them, such as Skybiscuit and Peace Admiral. Some unlucky horses have been scratched from the race. If you roll the number of a scratched horse, you’ll have to pay the pot! If you roll the number of a remaining horse, that horse advances a spot. You’ll experience the rush of a neck-and-neck horse race, board game style! Only one horse will cross the finish line first – will it be the favorite, or will Longshot Louie take the prize? If your horse wins, you’ll collect the pot. The person with the most Fun Money at the end of the game is the winner. Game comes with Game Board, Fun Money, Horse Cards, Dice, Plastic Racehorses, and Game Instructions. For 6 or More Players, Ages 8 and Up.”

DSCN9206Outdoor Game of Horseshoes

Set up a horse shoe pit outside (I think I’ll set up an Easy-up behind each pit for shade and put misters all around each shelter to keep my players cool, since it is sometimes pretty warm in this neck of the woods this time of year.  And also, a cooler for cold beverages at each pit, and a boom box with music).

Horseshoes is an outdoor game played between two people (or two teams of two people) using four horseshoes and two stakes. The game is played by the players alternating turns tossing horseshoes at stakes in the ground, which are traditionally placed 40 feet apart.

In horseshoes, there are two ways to score: by throwing “ringers,” or by throwing the horseshoe nearest to the opposite stake. (This scoring system gives rise to the popular expression “Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.” — I’m such a sucker for such random and possibly useless information) A ringer is a thrown horseshoe such that the horseshoe completely encircles the stake.

Point System
1 Point – The nearest horseshoe to the stake within 6 inches
2 Points – If both of one player’s horseshoes are closer than the opponent’s or a leaner, the case where a horseshoe literally leans on the stake
3 Points – A ringer! (If each player throws a ringer, the ringers cancel and no points are scored)
Most games are played to 21, winner must win by two.

I made permanent pits because I had the perfect place and lots of room for them, but maybe you don’t want to.  Champion Sports has an indoor/outdoor horseshoes set with rubber horseshoes that can be set up instantly anywhere and offers a little bit safer play.

Rose clip artAuction & Door Prizes

Purchase a few Auction Prizes (DVDs: Secretariat, First Sunday in May, The Long Shot, Seabiscuit, a gift copy of the horseracing board game, a horseshoe ring puzzle, or…

horshoe from the kda dirty old horseshoe from Churchill Downs (pictured left)


I think I’ll also make a big batch of Bourbon Balls (recipe below) to send home with my guests, placed in cellophane bags and tied with jute and a little rose attached. Or, I could do inexpensive mint julep cups filled with dirt and have live mint plants planted in each (I have a ton of mint growing in my garden).  These could be part of the decor during the party.

blue ribbonMake Blue Ribbons for the Hat Contest

(I made blue ribbons out of construction paper years ago for a bulletin board at an elementary school.  This is what I will do with the leftovers!)

hat ladies
The Derby hat is a longstanding tradition of the Kentucky Derby. Almost all the ladies at the race or any Derby party will be wearing a spectacular hat.  For my party I was thinking I would require ALL of my guests (boys and girls) to come in CRAZY HATS!  The girls may want to wear the frilly stuff, but the men can get creative.  Drag out those Mickey Mouse Ears hats from the family trip to Disneyland, or the Rasta Hat with Dreads from the party store.  Got a sombrero?  Or Cowboy hat?  Oh my gosh…where is that coke can hat my grandma crocheted in the 80’s? Or that beer can helmet with long curly straws?  description

I’ll offer prizes for the most ornate, the most stylish, the most creative, and the most bizarre and possibly even most juvenile.


Most Outrageous Hat

Ugliest Hat

Most Colorful Hat

Biggest Hat

Smallest Hat

Most Boring



Rose clip artDO THE SHOPPING:  Buy Plates, Napkins, silver beverage cups, etc. and all the silver service I can lay hands on to serve my buffet foods in, and find decorations.

Jocky cut-outMake a banner for front door, and a jockey cut-out for photo-ops

Purchase play money to use in place of real money, if preferred for all the betting games.


Rose clip artParty Music

Every party needs great music. To set the tone for your Derby Day celebration, try a Kentucky-based play list. Here’s some inspiration to get you started.

Here is a fun selection I found from the PARTY SOURCE:

Louisville (Dwight Yokam)

Kentucky Moonshine (Pure Prairie League)
Eight More Miles to Louisville (Willie Nelson)

Kentucky Borderline (Rhonda Vincent)
Louisville (Lou Peggy Lee)
Kentucky Gambler (Merle Haggard)

Louisville KY (Ella Fitzgerald)
Blue Kentucky Girl (Emmy Lou Harris)
Kentucky Jelly (Brad Paisley)

Kentucky Derby (Chet Atkins)
Blue Moon of Kentucky (Patsy Cline)
Kentucky Rain (Elvis Presley)

My Old Kentucky Home (Three Dog Night)
Kentucky Woman (Neil Diamond)
Going Back to Old Kentucky (Ricky Skaggs)

Mint Julep (Etta Baker)
You’re in Kentucky (Rosemary Clooney)
One Mint Julep (Xavier Cugat)

*** You can go to Amazon.com, click on digital music in the search box, search for Kentucky Derby music, or any of the music listed above, and then place all your favorite tunes into your mp3 cart.  Once you’ve downloaded all your music you can burn it to a CD, or save it to a portable jump drive, or send it to your phone or mp3 player, and be ready for your party right now.  Here is a playlist I made recently:

Kentucky Derby Party Music



Rose clip artInvitationsDERBY TICKET - Copy

Plan the guest list. Let guests know that there will be a CRAZY HAT contest in various categories (craziest, prettiest, biggest, etc.) for both males and females.  If desired, ask each guest to bring one horse-themed white elephant type gift to trade for wager money (use these gifts as Auction/Door prizes at the end of the party).

Make a flyer listing this information, and include a ticket (like the one I made, pictured to the right, based on ideas I found online) for each guest in the envelope with the flier.  Tickets can be created on the computer or ordered from Party411 online.

The invitations/tickets should have the seat assignments for each guest listed somewhere on the ticket.  I placed mine at the bottom.  The guests won’t have a clue what those numbers mean until they arrive at the party and are asked to present their ticket.  The numbers will tell them what game they will be starting at.  I will have a number taped to each “seat” of the three games.  The players will have to walk around and find their starting place.  After the first game is played, divide the players of the horseshoe pits into two groups, and also the DVD and board gamers.  Send half of each group to join half of another group at a new game (so that everyone mixes and mingles).  Do the same for the last game as well.

20160523_132117-1[1].jpgRose clip artSET THE TABLE!  There are a few horse print tablecloths available online (Horse & Hound, Party City, Amazon.uk, Amazon.com), if you plan ahead and give yourself time for shipping.  OR, you can toss any  tablecloth down (burlap, black and white, turf, white linen and lace, etc.) and then find some cute horseshoe eyewear at the party stores, or some real horseshoes from your local seed/feed store (painted gold, black, OR flat gray) and scatter them around on your table, along with a selection of little horse figurines (found in the toy section at most Wal-mart stores).  Set each place with red plates (layer a square plate on top of a large oval plate, and top with a small round plate, even alternate colors – red with a black print and silver charger/underplate on bottom).   Add a ROSE  print hand towel to each (you can even tie up the silverware with a thin leather lace, and silk rose), and then for a centerpiece fill a galvanized metal bucket with stemmed red roses.

Rose clip artPlan the Food and Drink (make my shopping list)   Purchase the ingredients that are not perishable now, and those that are perishable a day or two before the party.


Henry Bain Sauce was originated by the head waiter at the Pendennis Club in Louisville in 1881 and is a mainstay of Derby cuisine.  Freeze any leftover sauce for later use.

YIELD: Makes 3 dozen appetizer or 12 main-dish servings


1 (9-ounce) bottle chutney

1 (14-ounce) bottle ketchup

1 (12-ounce) bottle chili sauce

1 (10-ounce) bottle steak sauce

1 (10-ounce) bottle Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon hot sauce

1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 (4 1/2- to 5-pound) beef tenderloin, trimmed

Dinner rolls


Process chutney in a food processor until smooth. Add ketchup and next 4 ingredients, and process until blended. Chill sauce at least 2 hours.

Stir together butter, salt, and pepper; rub over tenderloin. Place on a lightly greased rack in a jellyroll pan. (Fold under narrow end of tenderloin to fit on rack.)

Bake at 500° for 30 to 35 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted into thickest portion of tenderloin registers 145° (medium-rare). Loosely cover tenderloin with aluminum foil, and let stand 15 minutes before serving. Serve tenderloin with sauce and dinner rolls.   — Southern Living MARCH 2004



Another cornerstone of Louisville cuisine is the Hot Brown Sandwich. Created by the chef of the Brown Hotel, this open-faced sandwich consists of two slices of toast topped with juicy roast turkey, tomato slices, crispy bacon, and a blanket of Cheddar-Parmesan cheese sauce. The sandwich is then broiled until the cheese sauce turns golden brown.  Many variations can be found, most commonly country ham is added and a cheddar sauce is substituted.  http://www.thepartysource.com/derby/derby_recipes.php

Serves 8
Prep time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes


2 pounds sliced turkey breast (I have used the sliced packaged roast turkey breast, found near the sliced hams in the meat section at Walmart…and I have also purchased peppered sliced turkey breast from my grocer’s deli counter – sliced just under about 1/8th inch thickness.  Both worked really well.)
½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
16 thick slices ripe beefsteak tomato
16 slices apple wood-smoked bacon, cooked crisp
Cheese sauce (recipe follows)
8 slices of good fresh-baked farm bread (I found an english muffin bread loaf that was perfect)
Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley for garnish


4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups half and half
1 ½ cup grated sharp white cheddar (I used a mixture of sharp, medium, and mild)
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Melt the butter over medium heat in a medium saucepan. Whisk in the flour and cook for a minute or two until the raw flour flavor has cooked away. Whisk in the half and half and bring to a steam, whisking constantly, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the cheese until just melted.  Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper.

To assemble: Top each slice of bread with about 3 slices of turkey breast. Ladle the sauce over the top, sprinkle Parmigiano-Reggiano over the cheese sauce. Place under the broiler and cook until bubbly and golden brown on top. Remove from the oven and top each with two slices of tomato, and two pieces of bacon. Sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately.


From Louisville’s Benedict Hotel comes the Benedictine, a cucumber canapé spread.


1 large cucumber, grated

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/2 small onion, grated

1/4 tsp salt

1 drop green food coloring (optional)

1 tablespoon mayonnaise

Squirt of Tabasco Sauce or dash of cayenne

Crustless white bread

Olives, cherry tomatoes, parsley, or watercress for garnish

To make it, start by grating the cucumber, skins and all. Wring it out in paper towels to absorb most of the moisture. Combine with remaining ingredients in food processor and pulse until well combined.

The most common way to eat the Benedictine is to make finger sandwiches by spreading the mixture on bread. With a round cookie or biscuit cutter, cut rounds out of bread slices. Spread a small amount of mayonnaise on bread rounds. Spread cheese mixture on half the rounds and top with another round. After spreading the mixture on the bread, thread cherry tomatoes and black or green olives on decorative toothpicks and use for a garnish. Or, garnish with a sprig of parsley or watercress.

This mixture also makes a fantastic dip for veggies and crackers.


The cranberries make these Cranberry Chicken Salad finger sandwiches a bit sweeter than cucumber sandwiches. They are colorful and look great on a tray of canapés.

1/2 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

4 cups shredded chicken

1/4 cup onion

1/2 cup dried cranberries

Add mayonnaise, sugar, apple cider vinegar, salt and pepper to a food processor and pulse until well blended.

Add chicken, onion and cranberries and pulse until mixture is well combined but still a bit chunky. If needed add a couple tablespoons of milk to achieve a spreadable consistency.

Spread cranberry chicken salad on bread squares (I like whole wheat) and serve cold. Makes 24 finger sandwiches.


1 (18 ounce) jar peach preserves

1 (18 ounce) jar orange marmalade

1 (18 ounce) jar apple preserves

1 (18 ounce) jar pineapple preserves

5/8 cup ground dry mustard

1 (4 ounce) jar prepared horseradish

In a bowl thoroughly mix all ingredients.  May be stored in sterile containers in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks.  Great served poured over cream cheese and served with wheat thins crackers.


There can be only one dessert on Derby Day and that is Derby Pie.  The original Derby Pie is about half a century old.  George Kern and his parents Walter and Leaudra worked together to invent the dense chocolaty, nutty dessert at the Melrose Inn in Prospect, Kentucky where George was manager.  If you want true authenticity, order one and have it shipped right to your door (http://www.derbypie.com/new/bring_a_pie_home.html). If you order it from A Taste of Kentucky they will ship it with an honest to goodness dirty old horseshoe from a horse that has run at Churchill Downs attached to the top of the box.  Fun!

Although I’ve never been to Kentucky, nor ever had a slice of George Kern’s original creation, the descriptions remind me of a Nestle Toll House Pie I made several years ago.  The pie was soooooo yummy that I clipped the recipe from whatever magazine and saved it for all these years.  This is a fitting time I think to pull it out and make it over into my own Racetrack Pie.  Since there’s not a Kentuckian on my guest list, I doubt anyone will ever know it’s a knock off.


2 unbaked 9-inch deep-dish pie shells, thawed, pricked with a fork.
3 large eggs
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 Tablespoons Kentucky Bourbon  (Jim Beam)

1 1/2 cup butter, softened room temp
1 cup Ghirardelli 60% Cocoa Bittersweet Chocolate Premium Baking Chips
1 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (or pecans if you prefer)

PREHEAT oven to 325° F.


BEAT eggs in large bowl on high speed until foamy. Beat in flour, sugar, brown sugar, and bourbon.  Beat in butter. Stir in morsels and nuts.  Spoon into pie shells, dividing equally between the two.

BAKE for 55 to 60 minutes or until knife inserted halfway between edge and center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack. Serve with a scoop of ice cream on top, and a tiny drizzle of bourbon splashed over (optional).DSCN8946


Note:  If you live in south Texas and have an HEB near you, they have recently come out with some designer ice cream flavors.  The Whiskey & Honey is a perfect topper for this wonderful pie!  If you don’t live in Texas and don’t have an HEB, I’m sorry for you.  Maybe Ben & Jerry’s has something similar???



1 cup finely crushed vanilla wafers

1 cup finely chopped pecans

1-1/2 cup of powdered sugar, divided

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa

2 tablespoons bourbon

1-1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup

Combine vanilla wafer crumbs, chopped pecans, and 1 cup of the powdered sugar. In a measuring cup, blend the bourbon and corn syrup and stir into the dry mixture.

When thoroughly blended, cover and refrigerate for an hour or more.

Sift about 1/2 cup of powdered sugar onto a large piece of waxed paper. Shape small amounts of the dough into balls then roll in powdered sugar.

Store tightly covered in the refrigerator. Makes about 3 dozen.


20160523_131146[1]MINT JULEP

I had my first sip of Mint Julep when my husband and I visited the Oak Alley Plantation just outside of New Orleans and dined in their little restaurant on the grounds.  Seems like they had a few different versions.  I don’t remember which one he ordered, a lemon one I think, and I remember liking it.  You can’t have a Kentucky Derby party without Mint Juleps.  For my party, I was thinking of making a pitcher and lettin’ people fix their own glasses, first with crushed ice and mint sprigs, then julep mix, and stir.  They can help themselves all party long.

2 cups sugar

2 cups water

6 or 8 sprigs fresh mint

Crushed ice

5 cups good Kentucky Whisky/Bourbon  (a pint + a fifth)

Silver Julep Cups (they must be silver, never paper or plastic)

Make a simple syrup by boiling sugar and water together for five minutes. Cool and place in a covered pitcher with six or eight sprigs of fresh mint, then refrigerate overnight.

Ideally you would make one julep at a time by filling a julep cup with crushed ice, adding one tablespoon mint syrup and two ounces Whisky. Then stir rapidly with a spoon to frost the outside of the cup. For the sake of convenience I’ll add my bourbon/whiskey and my mint syrup to a beverage DSCN8949container just before the party and let my guests toss a shot of this Julep mix over a cup full of crushed ice (Sonic sells their wonderful ice by the bag, by the way, and it’s PERFECT!!!).  Garnish with mint sprig.

NOTE:  I made a non-alcoholic version of mint julep for a luncheon recently.  I added the minty simple syrup to my large galvanized beverage serving container and then substituted the bourbon for 5 quarts of Lemon Seltzer water.  I chilled it in the refrigerator until ready to serve.  I filled each Julep cup with Sonic ice, covered the ice with minty seltzer water mixture, and then garnished each with a lemon slice and sprig of mint.  It wasn’t bad…refreshing actually!

I have looked and looked and looked for inexpensive metal cups for my Juleps for several years, and have been unsuccessful.  At the last minute I ended up buying my little silver disposable (taboo plastic) cups at Party city.  You might have some luck shopping at the Party Source  for yours.


Mix up a big batch of fresh brewed iced tea and/or a huge pitcher of real lemonade and have in a serving container on the drink buffet.  Have a container of the minty simple syrup setting nearby, along with crushed ice and mint sprigs.  Let your guests fill their silver cups with crushed ice, drizzle the desired amount of syrup over the ice, and add their tea or lemonade, then garnish with mint sprigs.

Want more food ideas?  Check out these Top 20 Kentucky Derby Recipes http://allrecipes.com/Recipes/Holidays-and-Events/Events-and-Gatherings/Kentucky-Derby/Top.aspx


9. May Luncheon

Rose clip artA Derby Party is also a great theme for a luncheon.  I had the honor recently of hosting an end-of-the-year luncheon for the staff of a local school.  Since the luncheon landed in May, in the middle of the triple crown horse racing season, and since it was getting down to the finish line of school, a Derby theme seemed a perfect choice.  


horse clipart2 Weeks Ahead

Make and send invitations (and remember to mention the CRAZY hat contest)

Order red roses from florist, or purchase silk roses

Play the board game(s) enough to get familiar with how to play them, and how long a game will last.  Make sure race DVD works.

Arrange for helpers.  Need a helper to be the bookie for the DVD races game, and one to explain play of the board games; another at the horse shoe pit.  (You will be busy keeping the food fresh and drinks full).  Need someone to serve snacks, and usher people to their start locations, and someone to take pictures.

Confirm that you have all your serving dishes and pieces, glassware, etc.  If you are throwing a big party, this is the time to make sure you have enough tables and chairs and make arrangements to rent some if needed.

horse clipart1 Week Ahead

Grocery shop for all non-perishable items and stock the bar.

Prep and/or cook any make-ahead items.

Make blue ribbons for the hat awards, and ballots.

horse clipart2 Days before the Party

Clean the house

Do all the decorating and set up the buffet table.

Adorn tables with vases for the red roses and set some decorative horse shoes around.

Set up the jockey cut-out.

Set up the betting booth.

Check to make sure you have all the parts and pieces to all the games and enough plates, cups, napkins for guests.


horse clipartDay before the Party

Get out all serving pieces, fill vases with flowers and place in fridge, chill beverages.

Do all the perishable grocery shopping, beers, and get several bags of ice.

Prepare whatever foods can be made up a day ahead.

Pick up the roses from the florist and keep in the refrigerator until ready to set out.

Make sure the horse shoe pit is ready to play, set up gazebos, and set out a cooler for ice and beers.

Set up the prize table.

Have blue ribbons for the hat awards.

Set up the table for Auction/Door prizes

Arrange for a helper to serve snacks on trays


horse clipartDay of the Party


Prepare last minute foods for party.

Place roses on tables.

Place a sign on front door and/or yard signs.

Set music up in CD player and horse race DVD in DVD player.

Set up the board game(s) on the dining table. 

Place race forms, funny money, betting cards, and pencils near the TV where the DVD races will be shown.

Set up board game(s) at dining room table(s).

horse clipart2-3 hours before guests arrive

Chill out; take a nap, a shower, veg in front of the TV, relax.  Be a guest at your own party.  It will be so much more fun that way.


Make sure the horse shoe pit cooler is filled with ice and beers and have it ready to take out at last minute.

Set out food and drinks on hot plates and in ice buckets, buffet style.

Start music playing in the background for when guests arrive.  Make sure the CD with the trumpet tune is ready to go on a boom box.

Make sure you’re dressed and ready to greet your guests with your full, relaxed, warm, southern hospitality.

horse clipart4PM  PARTY TIME! 

As guests arrive make a big to-do about their hats and take pictures.

Encourage guests to help themselves to drinks and snacks

Collect the horse gifts brought and place on Auction/Door prizes table; inform them of what game they will be starting with and have your helper assist them in locating their seat

Let everyone mingle until all guests have arrived.

Parade of hats (take lots of pictures)!  Encourage guests to take photos of themselves behind the jockey cut-out (silks) between sets of play.

Explain the order of play for the evening.

Ask guests to help themselves to the buffet table to eat, and let them know it will be open all evening.


Hand out Racing forms with the lineup of horses.  Direct guests to the Kentucky Derby website if they want to place any real bets.

Have the television tuned to the station that the race will be broadcast on.  Allow guests to mingle and talk about horses.


Watch the race on TV.

Give guests a few minutes to celebrate and talk about the race.


Begin play at each game station, and the wagering for the first race, at the sound of the trumpet tune (which should be ready to play on CD player).

   …And They’re Off 

Play the video for the first race, and start the other games simultaneously

Repeat wagering and video races at whatever pace will keep things hopping, allowing guests to snack and talk between races.

If the DVD has 12 races, play one every 15 minutes (to go with the board game taking about an hour).  Each group will watch 4 DVD races before moving to the next station.

All players rotate to next game.  Allow time for snacking and drink refills.

***Pass out ballots and have guests vote on the hats.  Collect ballots.


All players rotate to next game.  Allow for more snacking or dessert and coffee.


All sessions wind to a close.

Call guests together and let them use their winnings to bid on the Auction/Door prizes

***Award prize ribbons for “best hats”

What if I have a guest list of night owls who want to party on late into the night?  I want to be prepared with plenty of snacks and if we have to run out for more beverages we will.  We could gather everyone around the TV and play the DVD game, or gather everyone around the table and play the board game, or set up some lights outside for a night game of horseshoes…for as long as everyone is having fun.

Before my guests leave, remember to give door prizes (gifts) as they head off into that good night. 🙂

“I returned and saw … the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding, nor favor to men of skill; but time and chance happen to them all”    Ecclesiastes 9:11

Easter Traditions & Recipes, Entertaining, Family Fun, Feast on This, Holiday Memories, Holidays, Summer Activities for Kids, Testimonies & Personal Stories

Mrs H’s Easter Dinner Cookbook

Easter Egg

Easter Traditions

After a busy morning of egg hunts and hide-and-seek baskets, our little brood (hubbie, kids, and me) would nab a quick breakfast and get ready for church. The first few years of our young Christian lives we just went to our church like normal, but somewhere along the way we decided to visit different churches for Easter. I guess just because Easter service is a show anyway and we already knew what our own church was doing, so why not explore. It’s been a neat tradition with many interesting experiences.

Our family has always leaned more toward the contemporary type churches with a little tradition mingled in, maybe wading toward the charismatic side but not off the deep end. One year we decided to try the Methodist church downtown, the big brick building with the gorgeous stained glass windows. The congregation, when we arrived, seemed mostly older. I recognized a few of the faces as high society movers and shakers in the community. We chose to sit in the balcony, since there wasn’t such a thing in our church, and marveled at the three-story high pipe organ that the organist played masterfully. I’ll admit I was distracted from the words in the hymnal for watching how much effort it was for her to play that immense thing. Her legs were jumping, her hands were all over the cascading terraces of keys, and she kept pushing and pulling levers while still working away at the melody. She coaxed amazing sound out of that gargantuan brass piped spectacle.

The church itself was so formal and so fancy with tall ceilings and carved walls, the balcony, and a pastor who stood at a podium at one side of the stage and wore a robe and a colored sash. It wasn’t anything like our casual, modern, smaller-budget church.

As incredible as the ambiance was, it wasn’t the most memorable part of our experience that day. That part was coming up. There was a darling family sitting right behind us who had a little girl about our Gracee’s age who had sneaked in some candy. Gracee had too. It kept them both occupied for most of the service. But as soon as the music stopped and it got quiet, and the pastor began his rehearsed and monotone sermon, alas, that’s when Gobstoppers exploded without warning and spilled like a sack of marbles onto the polished wooden floor beneath, making us all jump.

The million little balls rolled for what seemed like an eternity down the floor between everyone’s feet, hollering and screaming as they went, echoing into the rafters with deafening clarity. I wondered what it sounded like to the people in the pews below as it was ringing literally in our ears. With a hundred or more eyes all glaring in our direction, we lowered our eyes down to our Gracee fearing it was her doing, not daring to move our heads or move the expression on our faces at all, and she, with huge wide eyes herself, moved backward in the pew, cupped her left hand over her pointer finger, and pointed with desperate innocence behind us. We smiled in relief but didn’t dare look back that way to add more shame to their humiliation. We all just sat like stones and waited for the commotion to end. It finally did thank goodness and our attention turned once again back to the drone of the pastor’s eulogy.

Note to self: If we should ever come back to this church, never let the kid bring jawbreakers and sit in the balcony. Then again, it might have been God’s sense of humor to liven things up a little. Whew, it was stuffy in there.

Another year we visited the Assembly of God church at the foot of the mountain. The pastor there had invited his Christian motorcycle group to come and give the sermon. As the congregation sat quietly waiting, a man in leathers turned the key on his Harley, parked outside the sanctuary in the lobby, and then drove his super shiny rumbling machine into our midst and up the center aisle, with exhaust fumes trailing in his wake. He parked it sideways at the base of the pastor’s podium, turned off the engine, and began his sermon from the mount of his studded leather seat. The other tatted and muscle-bound members of the group, also decked in their riveted and logoed black leather jackets, hats, and chaps, sat in chairs flanking the preacher on either side. It was AWESOME! His sermon was good too. And looking around, I also noticed that I knew quite a few of the members who went to that church too, and they all came over and greeted us after.

Another year we attended the huge Highland Park service held at the Event’s Center, with its thousands in attendance, which is a lot for this community. It had that mega-church feel, like maybe a church in a big city would have. It was an amazing worship service put on by very talented musicians and extremely gifted singers, and projected like a concert from the stage out to us in the stadium, showcasing the enormous talents of its members. Their pastor preached a beautiful sermon and it was all just a gorgeous display. It was neat to see that I knew quite a few of those people as well… many were coworkers.

And one year we attended a smaller, more intimate church, where the worship and sermon was lively and interactive. The pastor was very engaging and authoritative. At one point in his preaching he wanted us all to raise our hands and worship the Lord in our spirits. We did. It was fairly easy as he was very charismatic and the congregation was all eager. When our collective response didn’t quite seem aggressive enough for his liking, he told us to stand to our feet and worship our Savior with cheers and shouting. He begged us to let go our inhibitions and give Jesus the kind of accolades we would dispense at a sporting event. We did, and it was loud and joyful. When that just still wasn’t quite corresponding to his yearning, he shouted to us to get up on our chairs and reach our arms to the ceiling and give the Lord a shout of glory. We did, we did, we did. And some jumped and bounced. And hallelujah we did! And even though it was just a tad outside of our comfort zone, and we felt a little silly, when in Rome, we did! And it was kind of amazing. And none of us got hurt!

Some Easter’s we’ve come home to a homemade feast and other times we’ve gone out. One year we had Easter dinner at Denny’s. Our waitress asked for our drink orders and then gave each of the girls a plastic Easter egg. She said there were little prizes inside. The girls opened their eggs and each had a slip of paper in it. The waitress took the papers and disappeared returning moments later with Dani’s prize, a nice little Easter basket with a few goodies in it. She was thrilled and began to rummage through it, Gracee looked on in wonder. The waitress disappeared and returned a few seconds later with the news that Gracee had won the grand prize, and then presented her with a huge white stuffed bunny rabbit with long dangling ears and a big blue bow tied around its neck. Gracee was surprised and her dad and I were thrilled for her. As he and I returned to our mugs of hot coffee we caught the look on Dani’s face. She was frozen with one hand still in her tiny basket, jaw dropped, eyes fixated on this giant furry outrage…

Oh dear, I better stop there. Long story short, this was the Easter that went down in the annals of our family history as the Easter of the loathsome big blue bunny. And with that I wish you all a happy Easter filled with special moments that make you smile, beam with precious memories, and love and laughter, and years and years of great traditions. God bless.

1. Easter Egg Hunt

EASTER EGG HUNT FOR KIDS: When my kids were little and the few years of their age made a big difference in their abilities, I assigned one or two colors of eggs to each child and they were only allowed to “find” their own colors. This was the only way I figured would make the hunt fair for the younger one, and challenging for the older one. At the end of the egg hunt the kids then went on a scavenger hunt to find their Easter Baskets. This was one of the scripture scavenger hunts I put together for my kids when they were about 4 and 9. Their dad helped them with this because he was usually ready for church and I still needed to be. This gave me time to get dressed and my hair done. Then we got them dressed and our family headed off to worship our risen Lord.

Easter Egg Hunt for kids

Easter Egg Hunt for kids2

SPECIAL NOTE: Since this blog post was originally written I have come up with another pretty dang fun and awesome, kid-approved (actually, “whole family approved”) all-day Easter activity that I’m pretty excited to share with you. Follow this link to more Easter Fun & Games!

Easter Chatterbox

Your kids can use this little “cootie catcher” as a way to share their faith and the Easter story with their friends and classmates:

Easter Cootie Catcher

M&M Easter Story





Our Easter Dinner is usually pretty simple. Who has time to fuss in the kitchen when we’re going to be dolling up for and going to church all morning?  I like to have it ready when we get home, so we can enjoy the after dinner egg hunts and games and crafts and whatever.

Easter Dinner collage2


fruity ham


For my Glazed Ham

I start with a nice hickory smoked (if you know somebody that does them locally – mmmmm those are the best), spiral sliced ham that only basically needs to be heated because it is already cooked. Just wrap the ham in foil and heat as instructed on the package directions (mine, as you can see, got a little over heated waiting for us to return from church – I would recommend a little lower temperature on that oven if you are doing what I did and are trying to have dinner ready to serve as you walk in the door from church). I whipped up a batch of Jezebel Sauce a day or two before so I would have it to glaze the ham with, and then to plate it I covered mine with whatever fruits I had on hand, fresh or canned. On this day I covered mine with a large can of Fruit Cocktail and some sliced oranges. You could go with peaches, pineapple, pears, plums, cherries, mango, apples, appricots, or whatever!

Jezebel Sauce

1 (18 ounce) jar peach preserves

1 (18 ounce) jar orange marmalade

1 (18 ounce) jar apple preserves

1 (18 ounce) jar pineapple preserves

5/8 cup ground dry mustard

1 (4 ounce) jar prepared horseradish

In a bowl thoroughly mix all ingredients. May be stored in sterile containers in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks. Great as a glaze or served poured over cream cheese and served with wheat thins crackers.

Plate your hot ham, decorate it with the fruit, and pour the glaze over. Return it to the oven to warm the glaze and fruits, approximately 15 minutes. Serve.

scallop potatoes

Scalloped Potatoes

I’m rather fond of Martha Stewart’s recipe, although I left the skins on my taters, added some red onion, a sprinkle of pepper, and also some rosemary for garnish after it had baked. And because I had covered mine with foil it didn’t have her lovely golden top on it.




pea salad


And I’m completely nuts for this cold, crunchy Pea Salad!

This is the dressing. Mix it up in a large bowl.

1/3 cup sour cream

1 T. Mayo

1 T. vinegar

Salt and Pepper

This is the salad:

4 cups. frozen peas

1/2 small red onion, chopped

6 oz. cheddar cheese cut into small cubes

3 T. chopped fresh parsley

Add the salad ingredients to the dressing in the large bowl. Cover with plastic and keep in fridge for 2 to 4 hours before serving.

When ready to serve…

Crumble 8 slices of crispy cooked bacon. Transfer the pea salad to a serving dish and garnish with the bacon, or you can add the bacon to the salad before transferring to your serving dish, whichever you prefer.

And for dessert…

Strawberry Napoleons



  • 1 sheet puff pastry, thawed according to package directions
  • 1 quart fresh strawberries, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup cold whole milk
  • 1 package (3.4 ounces) instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 2 cups whipped topping
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 400°. Unfold thawed puff pastry on cutting board.

With a sharp knife, cut pastry into nine squares. Place on baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pan to wire rack to cool completely.

In a large bowl, combine the strawberries, sugar and vanilla; set aside. In another bowl, whisk milk and pudding mix for two minutes.

Let stand for 2 minutes or until soft set. Stir in whipped topping and until thoroughly blended. Cover and refrigerate.

To assemble, split puff pastry squares horizontally for a total of 18 squares. Set aside six tops. Place six of the remaining puff pastry pieces on individual serving plates. Spread about 1/4 cup pudding mixture over each pastry square. Top with a spoonful of strawberries and another piece of puff pastry. Spread remaining pudding mixture over pastry pieces. Top with remaining strawberries and reserved pastry tops.

In a microwave, melt chocolate chips; stir until smooth. Cool slightly. Transfer chocolate to a small, heavy-duty plastic bag. Cut a tiny corner from bag; squeeze chocolate over napoleons. Yield: 6 servings.

© Taste of Home 2012

Visit my Pinterest Easter Feast page for more recipes!

P.S. Got leftover ham?

Here are my two favorite things to do with it…


Ham & Potato Casserole

6 potatoes cut into slices or cubes as you prefer (or a bag of frozen hash browns)

2 cups diced ham leftovers

2 cups shedded cheese

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup chopped celery

1 stick of butter, melted

2/3 pint carton heavy cream

3 Tbls flour

1 jalapeno, diced

A sprinkle or two of spicy dry rub seasoning (basically just cayenne powder and ground black pepper)

Preheat oven to 350*F. Mix together all ingredients in a large bowl and pour out into a large greased casserole dish. Cover with foil and bake in the oven for 1 hour. Remove foil, give the dish a good stir, return to oven and bake an additional 1/2 hour uncovered. If it appears to be getting too golden on top, it is probably done. My oven seems to take a little longer than other peoples. This dish is a great way to get rid of several things you might have left in your fridge. 🙂

Deviled Ham (for sandwiches)

These are my husband’s favorite!!!! He will flat out gorge on them for two solid days in a row. So I usually make all the deviled ham into sandwiches, lay them in a casserole dish, wrap it tightly with plastic wrap, and store it in his “mancave” fridge where he can just help himself until he is sick. LOL! P.S. I rarely measure my ingredients for this (although I did for you this time to make sure it would turn out), but I never have the exact same amount of leftover ham, so I’m going to say we start with 2 cups of ground ham and you can double or half the other ingredients in porportion to what you have, okay?


I grind my leftover ham in a hand-crank grinder (old school), and then to approximately 2 cups of ground ham I add:

1/2 tsp. ground pumpkin pie spice

1/4 tsp. ground cloves

1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ground pepper

1/3 cup minced onion (about a quarter of a large onion)

1/3 cup minced celery (about 1 rib of celery)

4 Tbsps sweet pickle relish

1 Tbsp Dijon or spicy brown mustard

Moisten with mayonaise until misture holds together and is slightly creamy. I start with a good heaping serving spoon of Mayo, and then maybe a little more than that.

Mix together by tossing and stirring until everything is mixed well. Cut the crusts off of your favorite white sandwich bread. Spread slices with the deviled ham and cover with another slice of bread. Cut sandwiches into quarters and poke a decorative toothpick through to hold them together. Serve with whatever was leftover on the relish tray (carrot sticks, cream cheese stuffed celery sticks, green and black olives, deviled eggs, spicy pickled okra, spicy pickled jardinière mix, pickled asparagus, dilled green beans, little dill and sweet pickles, etc.), chips, or whatever you have. These go great with cheddar cheese soup. Check out my recipe in my blog post “Soups On.” (<<< click link)



“And when [Herod] had apprehended [Peter], he put him in prison…intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people.” Acts 12:4 (KJV)