Thursday, June 25, 2015

Life Changing Discoveries

Sometimes you come across something that is absolutely life changing. Most things are not, but every once in a while, you find something that is. I have found a few things that I believe have changed the course of my life and have brought peace to my family and to me. I'll be sharing a few of those over the next few weeks.
A few years ago, I discovered that a friend of mine was directing a Freezer Group. This is when several women cook up some meals and freeze them and get together to exchange the meals. I was intrigued. I asked to sub with her group to learn the ropes so that I could start my own group one day. I fell in love with it and began my own group and we've been going strong for three years now. Our name is Freezer Queens. Can you even imagine a better name? We don't wear tiaras and high heels in the kitchen but we think of ourselves as Queens after swap day.
Every month, we go through a cycle and the grand finale is Swap Day. There are 8 ladies cooking and freezing every month. Some ladies are full time and some are part time and cook every other month. The first week of the month, I ask for each Queen to send me two names of recipes and a brief description of each. There's can be big differences in Chicken Casserole so the description helps knowing what is being submitted. I plug these into a cute little spread sheet and we vote on what we would like to see her cook. The majority wins and the menu for the month is set and sent. At this point, we have about 3 weeks to shop and prepare 16, yes 16, of our meal. It's a wild time of finding the best prices and shopping like we are cooking for an army. Some of the ladies cook all in one day (like me) and some spread it out over a few days. I don't like to destroy my kitchen more than I have to and after cooking, it does look like a bomb has exploded.
The preparing and cooking begins and the assembly line starts. Depending on the recipe, this could take 2-3 hours but I've heard one lady that spent 16 hours cooking one month! Oh my! You definitely have to gage what you submit to the time that you have for that month.
Most meals are stored in freezer gallon bags and some are in aluminum pans. We label these bags with the name of the meal, our name, the recipients name the date and cooking instructions. Some write with a sharpie and I usually do labels just because I'm a bit lazy and don't like to use a pen.
The day before our swap, each FQ (Freezer Queen) sends me how much they spent and I figure an average. Those that spent below the average will pay those above so that everyone will pay the same for the meals. There is a huge difference in cost from lasagna to muffins. It's a joy to pay the average and receive all of these delicious meals. I work on these totals for about 45 minutes so it's a little bit of labor but completely worth it the trouble.
Today is the day! It's Swap Day and I wish I had a picture to show you how crazy and wonderful it is all at the same time. I would say that it's organized chaos. I have a circular driveway so each lady pulls in at 4:00 the last Wednesday of the month and the swap begins. There are children everywhere helping their mammas. There is sweet fellowship but not for too long because we have frozen food to take care of quickly so we are working. Two meals go to each car from each car. Money is exchanged and within 10 minutes or so, the world is right again. Each car is packed with 16 meals for the month for around $130 on average.
Oh these meals......I can't even explain the blessings we've received from these delicious meals. I asked my family to tell me their favorite things last week about FQ.
Mabrey said it was fun helping prepare so many meals at once. (This baby is my right hand in the kitchen.)
Ensley said she just loves the food. (She loves food and will eat anything and loves to try new things.)
Scott said he loved the convenience of walking out to the freezer and having so many meals to choose from and working around it with our sides.

I absolutely adore that we get to have a community that we love and get together and swap food and have now been doing it for 3 years!! Is that right? 3 years? I also love the different foods we get to try that would have never made it to our menu if we didn't have this because I seem to always cook the same ole same ole. Now we have variety and beautiful dishes gracing our table.

Yesterday, I had my cousin from Sand Mountain and our friend from Switzerland over to help me with some quilting. It was such a joy. I hadn't been grocery shopping in quite sometime and we had been out late at my parents' home the night before. I didn't stress even though they were to arrive at 8:00 am. I pulled out Banana Nut Bread that my buddy Christie made, let it defrost and sliced and served. For lunch, we heated up Wendy's Famous Sausage Muffins and served with homemade honey mustard. It was simple and delicious. Our focus was on the quilting and not me spending any time cooking in the kitchen. These FQ friends helped me to show hospitality without stressing because I truly had no food in the house except what was in my freezer. Another Freezer Queen success!!

I hope and pray I can always have 7 other friends that want to join me on this adventure. It's been one of those life changing discoveries for my family. I'd like to challenge you to start your own FQ group! It could possibly change your life and you can make some new friends along the way too.



Saturday, July 6, 2013

Party of 5

For as long as I could remember, I've always enjoyed the idea of having a large family. I wanted at least 4 children and probably wouldn't have wanted to stop there. I don't watch TV but absolutely love the Duggar and the Bates families. I end up paying $1.99 a week to watch their episodes. I say that it's cheap training for me as a parent. So worth it.

So after losing 7 babies and having two little miracle girls, we chose to have no more children when Ensley was only a few weeks old. It's a decision that I feel we were forced guided into from our doctor. For years, while sitting at our dining room table, we've talked and discussed the idea of adoption. I'm not sure we are there yet but we've always thrown around the idea of filling up our table. Those empty seats are disturbing.

One year ago, my parents made the decision to move to their beautiful, beloved lake home. It's so much fun, so quaint and has incredible character. Devan, my then 18 year old sister wasn't quite sure about moving, further away from her home and only having one bathroom there. My parents offered for us to buy their home in Hokes Bluff. We jumped at the chance to move to my "teenage" home. After realizing that Devan wasn't sure what to do, we offered for her to live with us.

It's been one of the best decisions of our lives.

I'd like to introduce you to Devan Elaine Higgins. She is 19 years old, one of the smartest people I know and such an incredible joy.

Here's just a few things we've noticed that we LOVE about this girl!
1. She LOVES spending time with Mabrey and Ensley. This is Devan and Ensley at the airport snuggling and watching something on the iPod.

2. She radiates joy.


3. She loves eating and cooking as much as we do.


4. She loves The Lord with all her heart, soul and mind.

(This is the current bible study she and I are doing.)


5. She challenges us with good questions and makes us think.

6. She's very calm.

7. She disciples our girls with a great bible study called:HER, a guide to becoming a Proverbs 31 Woman.

8. She is a serious board and card gamer.

9. She's beautiful inside and out but doesn't know it.

10. She respects what Scott and I say.

11. She gets so excited about the little things.

12. She's preparing us to raise two teens.

13. She cleans the kitchen everyday without being told.

14. She takes advice to heart.



15. She's such a hard worker.

(Cleaning out the pantry here!)

16. She meditates on the Word and digs deep into questions she has.


17. She loves "family time" whether home, at the lake with Mom and Dad, or out and about.

18. She is absolutely crazy and FUN!


19. She's super patient in dealing with this wild family.


20. She's so thoughtful by always buying small wonderful gifts for us.

(She found this amazing chalk board window for me a few weeks ago!)


This list could go on and on but these are 20 that I didn't even have to think about. God is so good and gives us what we need. I know that our time is limited as a party of five, but for the time being we will enjoy our Dungeon Dweller, Devan.


Friday, March 29, 2013

Today I feel like Dancing!!!

Today, I've just got an itch in my spirit that I can't tame. It may be because its warm outside. In fact it's beautiful after a LONG winter. It may be because my hubby is Jesus (bald Jesus;) in the Easter play tonight at church. It may be because we are moving soon to my childhood farm home and I love it there. It may be because I saw one of my dearest friends, Holly McGinnis today even if it was for her sweet grandmother's funeral service. It may be because Ensley asked me if I thought her future mate lived in Australia right now and wondering when she's meet him. She makes me giggle. I'm not for certain but I believe it's because Sunday is coming and He Has Risen!!!! I just feel like dancing!


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Cottage cheese pancakes and cauliflower pizza!

My friend Sherry recommended a book to me that is rocking my world. It's called Trim Healthy Mama and is very very long. I don't mind a long book but this one is intense. I'm so intrigued by it and am reading it a little everyday. I'm glad that I'm reading it and learning about a new way of dividing food for energy burning.

They are sisters who claim to be only mommas and not authors. I totally disagree. They are also fabulous authors who don't give them selves enough credit.

So far, I've tried a couple of their recipes. I will be trying lots more and it's just fun to learn new things. I don't quite understand everything Im doing yet but I will. I'm just not far enough into the book yet.

Yesterday morning, I made pancakes from oats and cottage cheese. Surprisingly, they were DELISH!!! My girls thought they were better than anything we've had in the pancake department so we will definitely be making more of those.

So much easier to take a screen shot instead of explaining everything;)
Last night, I made the Fooled Ya Pizza! My family didn't care for it but I loved it! I think it's because they watched me make it and knew that the crust was cauliflower. Mabrey came and got some more later and said that she changed her mind. She did like it after all. Hmmm.... We'll see if she wants leftovers today. I don't have a picture of it. I really thought it was bubbly and cheesy and very pizza like;)

Looking forward to trying more recipes that are good for us. I'll post the ones we love and the ones that we hate. It's fun to try new things and learn how to better take care of our bodies. We are on a major health kick that I hope lasts. Mabrey has lost 10 lbs since the beginning of the year by going to the gym and eating healthier. Not dieting, but looking for good things to eat. None of us are junk food eaters. We just love good hearty country meals. After my battle with my blood last week, I started really looking for high iron foods and healthier options for carbs. I'm so thankful Sherry told me about this book because we are serious business about getting as healthy as we can.


Monday, February 25, 2013

A Few Little Touches Add So Much

I've been doing a little changing up in our decor lately. I've discovered that I love used old stuff. Even antique stores are exciting to me when they used to never be. I'm not much of a shopper or I thought I wasn't. I've found out that its the mall and department stores that I don't like to visit and shop. I LOVE little quaint, one-of-a-kind places with personality and charm dripping from them.

My new two favorite spots are The Cozy Nest and Blossom Antiques in Downtown Attalla. I also LOVE The Peddler's Market in SandRock. It's one of my favorite stores anywhere! They don't have fancy smancy, Victorian antiques which aren't really my style. They have very primitive, painted furniture that warms my heart. Here are a few pieces that you might see when going into either store. By the way, Blossom Antiques and The Cozy Nest are next door to each other and are mother and daughter;).

I absolutely love this old style! I made a few purchases of my own and have been having a blast placing them in our home and adding some Williamson touches to them.

In the kitchen, we've added two pieces that just soften the room and give more of a farmhouse feel.

The great cabinet sits in the corner of our kitchen and is such a delight! It's such a fun piece and makes me wonder how old it is and what all houses it has blessed. Hmmmm...... You like all the tomatoes?? We canned so many this year and they are scrumptious!

I love the platter on top. It says "Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread". My sweet friend Joy gave it to me a month or so ago and I think it's perfect. The green/cream pitcher was bought off Facebook from a lady in Hokes Bluff for $3!
WOW! What a steal!
This little beauty is extremely rustic. I didn't really think the hubby would like this one because it is SO rustic. He loved it though. Especially the lamp and that it gave us a place to store our morning devotionals. He likes things to be functional and organized. I just think its cute so we both win!
This chair was $40 from a FB auction here in our town. I thought it was perfect for our bedroom. Scott needed a place to sit and tie his shoes and to read. BINGO! Little quaint sitting area for him is done! The little green table was bought from Blossom Antiques and its precious! The pillow and lamp match-- they are both burlap. The lamp was picked up from Dollar General. There are treasures everywhere if we just look for them;)

I think I'm enjoying finding things that make our home more, well....... HOME;). I can't wait to decorate our new farmhome and make it our own. My goal in our home is for a lovely, peaceful, sanctuary that my family wants to come home to and relax and enjoy our family together.


Saturday, February 23, 2013

I'd so like to go to China after tonight!

It was a very exciting trip tonight to Top O' the River! This is probably the best and most popular restaurant in town. People come from all over the place to eat here.

If you saw us tonight, you may have noticed that there were three children that didn't look like the rest of us. They were adopted from China and were so precious! We went with Ernie and Michele Willis, Jason and Lauren Ayres and Marty and Felicia Smith. Sweet sweet families.

My parents have always told us that they thought we'd adopt and we always giggled and said, no, probably not. Sometimes I think about it and think that maybe, just maybe we will but most days, I think no, probably not. Tonight was a night where I definitely thought that we have room for a few more to love in this house;).

Michele and MJ on left, Lauren and Davidson Ayres on right.

Me and Davidson Ayres

Mabrey and Ming Yu Ayres
Ensley and Maggie Ayres
Rebecca Ayres and MJ Willis
The very crazy, crowded Top O'

Me and my handsome date.