Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Soup Exchange is Here!

Welcome to the First Annual Soup Exchange
here at

This collaboration was born from a desire to connect with my sister from across the miles! Doing this blog thing together has been such a fun and bonding experience that we thought, hey, why not throw a party together?
It is that time of year when we start bundling up and our hearts and energy turns to all things Home. Home for me is a funny word. Now my true home is wherever my hubby and rascals are! But, I long for and deeply miss my family, and home to me is whenever we are all together, wherever that happens to be that year! My kiddos don't get to go to trick-or-treating at Auntie Heather's house. We don't get to have them over to hang out and watch Football and gourge ourselves on yummy food.
So, this has become the next best thing! A way to visit each other's homes and share our favorite recipes.
This installment is all about Soups, Stews, Chili, and even side dishes that would like to come along for the party.
Gotta have me some good bread to go with my soup!

I was stumped at first as to just which soup I was going to share today. And came to me! One of my all-time favorite recipes that I hadn't made since last year about this time.
I like to call it...


It is actually a recipe from Tyler Florence and it is truly like no other noodle soup I have ever had.

First things to set the mood for the evening so why not cook while listening to this?
 Gorgeous! The music, I mean!
And, the recipe doesn't call for any but it's good for my heart, right? Poured myself a little glass of our new favorite red while Mr. Botti serenaded me us.

 And would you believe that while listening to him and drinking that, I was still able to make this?

Nope! You are not seeing things. Those aren't egg noodles, that is cheese filled Tortellini. And no, that isn't chicken. That my friends, is Sausage! All the other typical Noodle soup ingredients are in there...carrots, celery, onions, but this is definitely
Not Your Mama's Chicken Noodle soup!

Now, what goes well with Noodle Soup? Grilled Cheese of course! But, this is not your average grilled cheese.
This is a Mozzarella Grilled Cheese with pesto and fresh roma tomatoes. All done up Panini Style with fresh Sourdough Bread!

I used this handy guy for cooking them up

If you don't have one of these, get one! Grill pans are so great to have, especially when you live where you can't do year round grilling but you want to get those great grill marks!
I use my small cast iron skillet to help give the sandwich some weight and insure even melting.

My mouth is watering just looking at this again!

And here is how we enjoyed this deliciousness that night.
Fire going, sitting on the floor with the ottomans covered with a tablecloth, wine glasses filled (or refilled in my case!) and watching a movie with my most favorite person in the wonderful husband! Between working full-time, completing his MBA, raising kiddos, serving at church and just keeping up on life, these moments with him have become even more precious!

Here is the link to these recipes in Tyler Florence's
episode entitled "Ultimate Rainy Day Menu".
Hosting a Soup Exchange Party is so easy and very fun!
Here are some simple instructions...
1. Invite your favorite people
2. Have them cook up enough soup so that each person takes home at least 2-3 cups worth.
3. Package the soup in disposable tupperware and attach the recipe on top or bring it along to pass around.
4. Set out all of the soups on a table or counter and at the end of the party each person goes home with a wonderful sampling of each kind.
5. When I have hosted these in the past, I have also cooked up some soups and goodies for us to munch on during the party.
6. I like to encourage folks to maybe think of someone they could share some of their soups with...maybe an elderly neighbor, a new mom and dad, someone battling an illness. The work has already been done for you so you can just pass along the goodness!

Let's get to the Exchange! Link up your recipe below and share the Yummy Goodness with the rest of us! And feel free to join us even if you have a recipe from a long ago post.

Now I'm going to head on over to my sister Heather's house to sample her soups and relish in spending some "virtual" time with her in her lovely and welcoming home!
Come join me by hopping over to Gourmet Meals for Less! And be sure to bring your soup with you and link up your recipe there too. It will be twice the fun for folks to see your yummy creations!

Thanks so much for coming to our Soup Exchange and watch for our Next Sister Saturday coming soon where we will be hosting our First Annual Cookie Exchange!

Linking to Foodie Friday!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Inspiration Friday Party No. 10!

Welcome to Party Central!
I am hosting not One...but TWO parties this weekend.
First up is our weekly Inspiration Friday Party
where YOU get to be the star, linking up your fabulous Inspiring Posts and sharing with all of us your adventures in Home Decorating, Cooking, Crafting, and Family!
Got something Inspirational to share?
Come on and join in the fun!
Here are some High-Lights from last weekend. If you haven't noticed yet, I am shining the spotlight mostly on folks who are newer to blogging, even though I am pretty much a newbie myself compared with you all!
First up is SJ from Homemaker on a Dime. She was another one of my "had me at hello" moments when I read her profile and she said that some of her favorite words were "Clearance", "50% off", and "Buy 1, Get 1 Free"! Preach it Sister!
Last week she had me doing a double take when she transformed this...

Into this...

Is that even the same piece of furniture?
If you don't believe me, hop over to Homemaker on a Dime
and see this entire amazing transformation.
And welcome her to Blogland while you're at it!

Next up is Lucy from Craftberry Bush. She showed us how to take One table, make a few tweaks, and give us 3 different looks!
Here is a peek at these gorgeous tablescapes.
A Pink Fall

Blue Hydrangea

Classic Fall

Which one do you like best? I know, me too, I couldn't make up my mind either!
To see more of these beautiful place settings, go over to visit Lucy

at Craftberry Bush!

Now what have you all been up to this week? I cannot wait to see what you decide to link up and just want you all to know, again, how very much I appreciate each and every one of you! It blows me away every week that even 1 person links up and last week there were 43 of you! Thank you!
From this Southern Girl at Heart,

And, I hope you will consider coming back to join us this Saturday for Our First Annual Soup Exchange at

P.S. I know it says this in the linky instructions below, but please be sure to make some reference to the Inspiration Friday Party in your post or just grab my button over in the sidebar. Thanks!

Here is how to link up...

1. Add your Permalink to your entry but not your General Blog Address. To get your Permalink, click on the title of the blog post you are wanting to submit and copy and paste the address into the URL box. You will also have to add your address but it will not be visible to anyone else.
2. Do not try and Link up until you have actually published that particular post on your blog.
3. Please link back to the host blog, Southern In My Heart, so that those who visit your blog will be able to find some wonderful Inspiration from everyone else!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Soup Exchange is Coming!

Yup! I'm just going to beat it into you!
One more reminder.
Don't forget to mark your calendars for the next edition of

Join us for a Soup Exchange!
Break out those recipes and put them in a post and Link Up to the party THIS SATURDAY, October 30th!

Feel free to grab our button over on the sidebar and invite some of YOUR peeps to get in on the party too!

You are sure to get some great new ideas and recipes and we look forward to you joining in the fun!

The Inspiration Friday Party will still take place but will be up and running earlier on Thursday to give folks plenty of time to join this week!

Can't wait to see what you come up with!
From this Southern Girl at Heart,

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Sticks and Stones and Grace

*This is my first time ever doing 2 posts in one day but this one has been burning a hole in my pocket, so to speak, so thanks for indulging me!*
If you ask me, whoever said "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me" was just saying that to put up a good front. Words hurt...being disliked hurts...someone looking you up and down with a sour expression hurts...and can make you feel really insecure! Sometimes its subtle, so subtle that you would have a hard time describing it to someone else.

That glance, that turning of the back, that exclusion.
Somehow I fooled myself into believing that by the time I had reached my mid-30's all of this would be behind me.
I'm so glad that no one told me this when I was a teenager, because the hope of it all going away as an adult was the only thing that kept me going!

I have made many confessions to you before...
"I'm not Crafty."
"I clean my baseboards with my socks."
"I cry when I hear Perry Como singing
Oh There's No Place Like Home for the Holidays". didn't know that one? Well, you do now! I even own the original Record, still in its jacket, that my mom listened to when she was a young girl.

Oh, and, here is another one for you...
"I'm a Recovering People Pleaser!"

We're talking in a MAJOR way. This is the kind of people pleasing that keeps you awake at night analyzing conversations, replaying them in your head to make sure you didn't say anything wrong, or offensive, or should you have said anything at all??

You know what happens when a Major People Pleaser finds herself in situations where someone doesn't like her, want to be her friend, or intentionally sets out to hurt her?
She agonizes!!! How can that be? What have I done?
This is unfair! I'm BIG into fairness!
And, you know what else she does?
She tries HARDER! And harder...and harder.
And you know where that gets her?
Tired! Burned out! Perhaps even Bitter?
I have recently been on a journey towards healing this addiction to Pleasing. It has been a long and painful road with many a time on my knees praying...for myself...for others...for myself.
I have always found it amazing that it is virtually impossible to feel anger towards someone and pray for them at the same time.
It's like the Praying cuts through the anger and takes you to a new level of understanding and compassion.
And, I've also found it interesting, and frankly sometimes annoying, that when I go to God with these hurts and disappointments that He ends up revealing to me the darkness in my own heart. It is awfully easy to slip into a place of pride when you feel so valid in your hurt feelings!

So, I'm finally telling myself, STOP! Stop trying so hard! Stop pursuing!
Just stop it!
But, here is the dilemma for me...where does "Grace" come in?
Ahhh...what do we do about the grace and love we are supposed to show others. And so, the trap has been set.
Grace means that I MUST keep trying, right?
Especially when well-meaning people tell you that if you just keep trying, maybe "Someday" things will be better.
I'm the proverbial hampster on the wheel. Round and round I go.


I recently read a post written by Emily over at
Chatting at the Sky. She is doing a series on Grace, what it is, and in this particular post, what it is NOT.
Here is a little snippet.

"Grace is Not...
Subjecting yourself to the same rejection by the same people over and over no matter what.
Putting yourself or your family members in emotional danger because of someone who is unsafe.
Something you can manufacture by the grit of your own strength.
Hands folded polite, nodding in the midst of injustice.

Oh, that last one really got me!

Here is a little bit more of what she says...
"But there are other times when the grace-showing feels tricky. There may be a person or people in your life to whom you have shown grace and from whom grace has not been returned. Over and over again. Or even worse, you have been hurt by them in big ways, causing deep wounds and the need for soul-healing. Showing grace towards them does not necessarily mean you are to remain quiet and continue to pursue them and to allow the rejection to go on and on. Instead, showing grace means releasing them of the responsibility to meet your needs-perhaps your need to be loved, to be understood, to be right, to be safe-it may mean you are to continue to pursue that person. But, it may not."(To read more of this wonderful series on Grace, visit Emily's blog, Chatting at the Sky.)

Sweet Freedom!
The grace that I can give someone else,
the grace that I can give myself and
the Grace that I receive from my Heavenly Father when I don't deserve it at all!
Grace that isn't about being a doormat for someone to continually wipe their feet on.
Grace that is about loving as He first loved me.
Grace that is about releasing them to do anything or be anything for me.
Grace that finds my heart at rest in this new-found understanding. Oh, don't get me wrong, I fall off the wagon all the time. My feelings get hurt again, I wonder what on Earth I could have done to deserve this treatment. And yet, the peace and forgiveness comes more quickly and easily each time.

Understanding True Grace means that I can give away True Grace to others.

"And God is able to make all grace abound in you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work." 2 Corinthians 9:8

From this Southern Girl at Heart,

Monday, October 25, 2010

Sometimes You Just Have To...

...Work with what you got!

This was the case when we first toured our home and saw the bathroom that would be for our children. Let me just say,
thank goodness that we had little ones because if we didn't, this room would have been getting a MAJOR overhaul right away!

WARNING! Busy striped wallpaper and fish tile ahead!!!

Here is the bathroom Before
Can you say "A lot going on in one little room"???
Those 2 sinks really helped me overlook what I knew would be a lot of work in store for us.
The wallpaper had to come down, the lights and faucets were all broken and needed to be replaced and the tile? Well, the tile I was just going to have to live with for awhile and decorate around.
After we began removing the wallpaper we discovered that it had been put right up on the drywall! ARGGHHH!!!
My fingernails have never fully recovered.

Here is what the room looks like now in the Daytime Hours...

Wallpaper...GONE! And with new light fixtures and faucets and cabinet knobs we brought it into this decade. I decided that even though the tile on the backsplash was "beachy" that I would go more in the direction of playing up the fun color pallette it provided, especially since it is a kid's bathroom!
Here is what the room looks like in the evening which will give you an idea of how drastically the paint color changes from day to night.

The 2 sinks are wonderful now but I know that they will be even more wonderful when we have teenagers in this house!

 This little red stool was a great find for only $12. The rag rug was $3 at Tar-jay and the colors really warm up the white tile.

I found these fun curtain panels at Lowes for $6 each and love how they add more great color and using Traditional Curtain panels versus a true Shower Curtain gives it so much more fullness. These little wooden letters representing the kids names were really fun to do and were such an inexpensive way to add some wall decor.

Just this weekend we finally got around to framing out the mirrors and it has added so much character to the room and really help to modernize the space. Even though they meet in the corner, we decided to accentuate the fact that they are 2 separate mirrors by adding the trim down the seam on either side.

How weird does my hand and the camera look sticking up in the mirror?
Do you find yourself contorting your body in all different ways to get just the "right angle"?
My one concession to the "Beachy" theme was to add these favorite family photos of our visits there.

Another inexpensive decorative element was to frame my kiddos' handprints and showcase them in their bathroom. Lauren's was obviously smudged so we helped it out by outlining it a bit!

I had to add a little bit of fall in here too of course!

I love this little red frame but love the photo in it even more!

And this is the little potty that is patiently waiting for my stubborn daughter to use regularly.

We are currently locked in the battle of the wills with a 3 year old over potty-training. So far she is winning!
And don't even THINK about leaving me comments telling me all about your tips and tricks and your success stories.
I promise you I have tried them all! Literally ALL OF THEM! She actually will hold it in until we get home and then soak through diapers/Pull-Ups which is even more frustrating because I know she has the ability to do it! Going potty and eating are 2 of the things you just can't MAKE your children do. I figure she won't go off to college still in a diaper so there is hope yet!

There is much more we want to do someday to this bathroom, but for now, the fishy tile delights my kiddos which, of course, delights me too!

Hope you have a great Monday!
From this Southern Girl at Heart,

Friday, October 22, 2010

Inspiration Friday Party No. 9!

Welcome to the Party!
I'm so glad you stopped by and hope you will consider joining in the fun this week by linking up some of your Inspiring Posts about Home, Food, and Family. All are welcome here!

Before we jump into highlights from last week, I just had to share with you a little bit more about the Renaissance Man we have in our family. You may remember that I mentioned him in my post about our Master "Sweet". He lovingly crafted our bed as a wedding gift to us and here is a peek at it in case you missed it the first time. This is the work of my Father-in-law.

The details on this sleigh bed are amazing and he even surprised us by putting our monogram on the footboard!

So many of you expressed how amazed you were at this wonderful gift and his incredible talent that I wanted to show you a little bit more of what he can do. Trust me, this barely scratches the surface of his abilities!

You will find this little door in the closet of our play-room.
It is like an entrance to my memories.

Behind it lies some of my most beloved treasures.

When I discovered that we had an attic my heart literally leaped for joy! As a child, this little door would have taken me to another world in my imagination. And as a Mother, I had visions of opening it for my children to step inside and re-discover our beloved Christmas decorations each year. Tucked in a little corner under the beams sits this...

This cradle was crafted by my father-in-law when we found out that we would finally have a sweet baby boy joining our family!

Here are some of the details.

Here is a photo of our daughter in the cradle wearing her Great-Grandmother's Baby Gown. It is grainy because the photographer printed it on paper that makes it look like an oil-painting.

Doesn't this look like something from 100 years ago? And if you are thinking there is a slightly spooky quality to the photo, don't worry. You're not alone!
We are her family who love her and we thought so too!

The Renaissance Man also crafted this darling rocking horse for our son's 1st Birthday.

Hard to believe the skinny little guy who streaks through the house before bath-time, all arms and legs, is the same chubby- cheeked boy in this photo.

The Cradle and the Rocking Horse now wait patiently in the Attic. They are willing to withstand a little dust and neglect now, knowing that someday they will be brought out again to be enjoyed by future children.
These Heirlooms my husband's father has given us, will still be around even after we are not, and I am deeply grateful to him for all of the love that was put into each and every detail!
Thank you Steve!

If you want to see more of his amazing talent, you can visit his blog
The Right Brain Reader.

Now it's time for a high-light from last week's Inspiration Friday Party.
Judy at DIY By Design is new to the blogging community and last week she shared this beautiful transformation of her Powder Room.

I'm slightly biased here because I have that very same wallpaper in my powder room only in yellow! And, just for good measure I have to give you a peek at her beautiful kitchen.

Hop on over to DIY By Design to see the rest of these transformations and more of Judy's fabulous home!

But, be sure to come on back and join the party!
And, don't forget to mark your calendars for the next installment of

We are having at Soup Exchange and YOU are invited to join in the fun by linking up your favorite Soup (or chili or stew) recipes.
Just cook up a batch of your favorite soup, take a picture and publish it in a post and then have it ready to join the party on October 30th!

Now, it is time to Link it on up my Friends!
I hope you all have a marvelous weekend!
From this Southern Girl at Heart,


Here is how to link up...
1. Add your Permalink to your entry but not your General Blog Address. To get your Permalink, click on the title of the blog post you are wanting to submit and copy and paste the address into the URL box. You will also have to add your address but it will not be visible to anyone else.
2. Do not try and Link up until you have actually published that particular post on your blog.
3. Please link back to the host blog, Southern In My Heart, so that those who visit your blog will be able to find some wonderful Inspiration from everyone else!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Times They Are a Changin'

Around our yard...

In the Garden...

(Picking our pumpkins a few weeks ago.)

Change is happening around our neighborhood too...

In this ever-changing world, I am so thankful for my constants

(This very may well be the only picture we have had of just the 2 of us in the last few years and probably will be the only one for the next few years to come. At least it proves that we did go out on a date for our Anniversary!)

And most of all, I am thankful for a God who is the only True Constant in my life!

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." James 1:17

Blessings to you today from this
Southern Girl at Heart,

Joining Chatting at the Sky