Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Graduation day!

Tonight my middle child will graduate from preschool. It's a momentous occasion. I'm a little bit nervous. I'm not quite sure how I'll react to seeing him in a tiny graduation cap marching across a stage. Tears will be shed. It will be a tough reminder that life is moving way too quickly. I'll be afraid to blink because I know that in an instant he'll be all grown up and marching across a bigger stage in another graduation ceremony. I'm so proud of my little guy, but I can't help being a little bit sad to see my baby becoming a boy. In a few short months he'll begin his big school adventure as a kindergartener. I'm sure I'll shed some tears then too. Happy and sad.... I guess what they say is true...

Time flies when you're having fun. :-)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Savor the Recipes and lend a helping hand!

My sweet friend Aimee is an amazing cook. I found this out when we both were in college and I visited her one summer in Knoxville. She made an amazing risotto. I had never had risotto, but after that, I was hooked! Since that time, Aimee has been sharing her recipes and wisdom with all who know her. Her cookbook Savor the Recipes is more than a cookbook. It's a collection of memories of friends and family who have gathered around the table to celebrate each other and great food. Through her stories, you feel as though you are in her kitchen as she cooks and reminisces. The book is packed with yummy recipes including my favorites: risotto (of course), Mexican grits, cantaloupe soup, zucchini bread, key lime pie, orange juice balls... The list goes on and on!

I thought I couldn't be any prouder of my friend until this past week when she announced that a portion of her cookbook proceeds will go toward helping the victims of the Nashville flood. I encourage you to purchase her cookbook so that you can "savor" the recipes and the stories behind them. And, in the process, you'll contribute to the great city of Nashville. Visit AimeeFortney.com for more information on how to purchase Savor the Recipes.

Aimee's (yummy, creamy, cheesy, lovely) Risotto
5 cups chicken broth (I use vegetable broth, though, because I'm currently vegetarian - I'll blog about this later)
2 Tablespoons butter
1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups arborio (risotto) rice
1 cup white wine (Chardonnay that you would drink)
salt and pepper
freshly grated parmesan cheese

In a saucepan, heat broth. In a large, deep skillet, melt the butter into the olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook for about three to five minutes. Add garlic. Now add the rice, and stir to coat the rice. Cook for just a couple of minutes. Now add your wine, stir and let the rice absorb the wine. This will only take a minute or two. Add, one ladle at a time, the broth for the next 25 to 30 minutes. Each time you add the liquid, stir as it is absorbed, and repeat. The rice will absorb the broth, and you will be able to tell that it is time for the next ladle of broth. Use all of your broth, stirring constantly, or the rice will stick to the pan and burn. At the end, add the cheese and any salt and pepper needed.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

An unexpected day

Today is Mother's Day eve. My in-laws came to town for a visit, but I didn't get to visit with them. My sons had soccer games, but I didn't go see them. My middle child scored his first goal of the season, but I missed it. And to top it all off: I spent the day scrubbing mold and mildew off of damp basement walls and peeling carpet off of damp basement floors. But you know what? It was the best Mother's Day Saturday I've ever had.

Last week Nashville was inundated during the heaviest rains of at least the past century. As a result, water seeped into my parents' basement. Just a little water. No big deal, they thought. They were wrong. When they peeled back the 1960s faux-wood paneling adorning my childhood playroom, they found ugly black mold and mildew growing from wall to wall and an ugly cracked foundation.

Last night, while my sweet husband took over soccer-practice duty, I headed to Home Depot, then Lowes, then back to Home Depot in search of mold annihilating spray. I loaded up on said spray, mold inhibitor, spray bottles, scrub brushes ... a veritable mold-killing arsenal. And this morning, I headed to Bellevue, the town where I grew up.

On my way to my parents' house, I noticed heaps of furniture and carpet and toys that had been destroyed in the flood lying curbside. I wondered how the homeowners must have felt dragging these things that surely held special memories to the curb to be collected with the trash. It made me especially sad because most people here had no flood insurance. There was no need; most of the neighborhoods aren't in flood plains. Yet, I knew from watching the news every night that the people of Nashville were not defeated. They were calm and confident that life would go on. As I drove, I wondered HOW these people, whose entire lives worth of things had been destroyed, could remain hopeful.

When I arrived at my parents' house, every bit of dread that I had about spending the day cleaning mold from walls disappeared, and I was overwhelmed with gratefulness. Though water had seeped into their basement, it hadn't destroyed anything but carpet and wall paneling. Nothing meaningful would be dragged to their curb today.

While working in mom's storage room, I came across my dad's old collection of jazz albums, so we listened to Ella Fitzgerald while we scrubbed and scraped and scrubbed. And we talked. And we laughed. And when it came time for lunch, disgustedly dirty as we were, we decided to eat outside on the patio together. Our own little Mother's Day picnic.

At the end of the day, my entire body ached. As I type this, I am so tired that my eyelids are drooping. But my heart is full. I know now WHY the people of Nashville are so full of hope and peace. They have seen the best of each other through this difficult time. And once you've experienced the joy of the human spirit, no THING means quite as much.

I'll never forget this beautiful Mother's Day weekend. God bless all you mommies out there... especially those of you in Nashville. :-)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


This past weekend it began to rain here. And it rained. And it rained. And it rained. As a result of the unprecedented amount of rain, my hometown experienced historic flooding. My family and I were extremely blessed that our home was not affected. However, many many Tennesseans lost everything in the flood — all of their belongings, their homes, their cars, their pets ... and most devastatingly the death toll has risen to 18 and is expected to continue to rise as the flood waters recede and reveal what's underneath.

I wanted to use this blog as a tool to hopefully gain support for those in need here. I was born in this beautiful state. My family lives here. My friends live here. I love Tennessee and am so sad to see it suffer through such a trying time. But I also am confident in its resilience. They don't call it the volunteer state for nothing. In the coming days I know neighbors will contribute what they can, be it money, things or time. Strangers will bond over food drives, bake sales and clothing drives. Volunteers will roll up their sleeves and dive right in. And once the murky waters recede, we will renew this lovely land. And we will be stronger.

Please help if you can.
• According to the Nashville Business Journal, The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee is partnering with the Mayor's Office of Emergency Managment to collect donations to support local flood relief and clean-up efforts. Donations can be made online at www.cfmt.org/floodrelief.
• By texting "REDCROSS" to 90999, you can donate $10 to disaster relief or visit www.redcross.org to offer a donation.
• Hands On Nashville also is coordinating many volunteer efforts. To see what you can do, visit www.hon.org.

Every little bit counts. Every act, every prayer, every penny. Thank you!