Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Easy Louisiana Red Beans and Rice

I love, love red beans and rice. I love them from Popeyes along with their spicy chicken.  I also like making it at home. But the original recipe I have takes quite a long time to make. I found this easier recipe recently from Southern Living. Since you are not cooking the beans all day but using canned light red kidney beans, it really makes for a quick family meal. I still like making it the old fashioned way, but on some days, I just don't have the time. This is goes really well with french bread or corn bread and sweet tea. Of course, it is always best with a little Louisiana hot sauce, too!


3/4 lb. smoked sausage, thinly sliced
3 celery ribs, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 sweet onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. Creole seasoning
2 cups chicken broth
2 16 oz. cans light red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
Hot cooked rice

Cook sausage and next 4 ingredients in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, stirring often, 5 minutes or until sausage browns. Add garlic, saute 1 minute. Stir in 2 tsp. of Creole seasoning, beans, and 2 cups chicken broth. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low and simmer 20 minutes. Serve over hot cooked rice and , if desired, hot sauce. Makes 8 cups. Garnish, if desired, with finely chopped green onions, finely chopped red onion.

Total time: 45 min.  This courtesy photo was used because it was all gone before I could snap a photo with the rice!

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Friday, July 26, 2013

Teen Challenge - Helping People Who Hurt

I'm linking up today at for my favorite non-profit organization.

Teen Challenge is a wonderful ministry for men and women with life controlling addictions. Whether it be drugs, alcohol, pornography,or anything that is controlling their lives, Teen Challenge is a program that can help.

My husband was a teenager with an alcohol addiction. He graduated from Teen Challenge  and went on to become a counselor and program director at the TC in Colfax, Iowa, helping other young men. We lived and worked there for 14 years. We now pastor a church. He has been the pastor for 11 years. He loves helping other people find freedom.

Here is a link to Teen Challenge:

If you know someone who needs a place to help them and they are ready to be helped, contact Teen Challenge. There are many centers across the country. Two that I can personally recommend are Teen Challenge of the Midlands in Colfax, Iowa  (  and Teen Challenge of the Mid-South in Chattanooga, TN (

Here are some beautiful testimonies of men whose lives have been transformed. If there is someone on your heart that needs help today, please watch these videos and know that God can restore anyone.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A Dinner Party

Recently, our son hosted a dinner party for friends. He had planned to have it outdoors, but Iowa summers are tricky. It became so windy that day that we had to move it indoors. It wasn't exactly as planned, but I think they all still managed to have a good time.

Chalkboard tags from World Market

We quickly brought everything indoors and tried to make it as festive as possible.

I helped out where I could

Beautiful sunflowers!

A little bit of Italy mixed in

Friends brought good food

Lovely Guests


and special guest star....Kristi's shoes

Mason jars and candles

Iced Coffee

Nat King Cole playing

Good friends = Good times

*All photos by Evan Olson

Linking up to:   and

Friday, July 19, 2013

5 on Friday

Good morning! I'm linking up to 5 on Friday today with  Here are 5 things I like this week.

1. I have very thick, wavy hair and this shampoo has been helping to tame the wild beast. I tried their keratin version, but found this works much better for me.

Suave Moroccan Infusion Shampoo

2.  Sonic. If you live near a Sonic, their shakes are 1/2 price after 8 pm. It's a fun thing to do with your kids on these hot summer days. My favorite is the pineapple shake.

3.  The next 3 are 3 favorite She is the friend everyone wishes they had. She's a beautiful mom and I'm always encouraged after reading her posts. She's the real deal:)

4.  I especially love her fashion photos.

5.  Schaeffer writes the funniest and most informative blog that I have ever read. I'm always laughing at things she says. She has a real eye for fashion and keeps you posted on sales. I think she needs to be on television.

Have a fabulous day!!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Something That Costs Nothing At All

There's something that is really fun to do and doesn't cost a dime. That something is being kind and also being kind "incognito".

I've been thinking recently on kindness. You know the feeling you have when someone speaks sharply or unkindly to you. You feel like your spirit sinks or wilts. Kind words, of course,  have the opposite effect.

It's so easy to be kind. Thoughtfulness and kindness go hand in hand. Kindness and compassion are also kindred spirits.

It's easy to be critical. But kindness takes the high road. I've had to learn this lesson over and over again, I'm afraid.

Kindness means having a friendly or generous nature. It means showing goodness or sympathy. Our kind words hold life.

I especially enjoy the whole aspect of random acts of kindness. Two or three years ago, I pulled up to a grocery store and watched an elderly lady walk slowly into the grocery store. I encountered her later in the produce section. She smiled so warmly at me and my little boy. She radiated kindness. Since I remembered what car she was in, I wrote a short note to her and stuck it on her windshield. I just wanted to tell her what a lovely smile she had and that she had blessed my day. I didn't know her and didn't sign my name, but hoped that it helped her to know that her kindness mattered.

The only reason I share this example is that it didn't cost me anything other than a few minutes of time and I smiled all the way home.

I read a most wonderful story on the blog  last week and had Layla's permission to share it here with you.

A few years ago, my mom and I took a road trip together. We drove several thousand miles from start to finish, and we had lots of great conversations along the way. We visited family in Minnesota, and stayed at Camp Wandawega in Wisconsin on the way back home. I’ll cherish those memories forever! Even the little tiny one that springs right to the front of my mind every time I think about that trip. It doesn’t have anything to do with where we stayed, or who we visited. It’s not one that I could’ve planned, and like the fishing friends, I didn’t even see it coming until I was right there experiencing it.
I can’t remember what state we were in, but my Mom and I were seated at a table near the ‘Pay Here’ counter at KFC. I could see the register over my Mom’s shoulder. We were talking about who-knows-what, when out of the corner of my ear, I tuned in to a conversation between the cashier and a satisfied customer.
The cashier was a sweet little thing, maybe in her late-60s or so.
The customer looked like he was in his 40s, and I remember thinking he looked like a hard-workin’ man.
The customer told the cashier that he just had to come back up and tell her how much he enjoyed his meal. “It was just absolutely delicious, and you guys outdid yourselves today!“, he raved.
The cashier beamed from ear to ear as she reached for his tray and told him she was so glad he enjoyed it.
Like moisture when it’s humid, I could literally feel happiness in the air right then. I fought hard to not get up and hug ‘em both- ha! (Note: I do not always win the battle against the bear hug.)
My eyes welled up as they went about their ways, and I loved sharing with my Mom what had just happened over her shoulder.
Funny how hearing somebody say something nice to someone else can not only make their day, but it can also make your day, too. :)

Isn't that a beautiful story? I love that! Just a few kind words made that cashier's day.

What can you do today to make someone else's day a little brighter?

 And always remember this..."Then your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly." Matthew 6:4.

"Remember there is no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple." Scott Adams

"Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echos are truly endless." Mother Theresa

*Story shared above from

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Friday, July 12, 2013

5 on Friday!


   Hi! I've never linked up to this party before, but here goes! It's all about 5 Things I am loving this week.

1. Sunflowers! I didn't know I loved them.. But they look "happy" and add so much to a bouquet. They were only $3 apiece at the flower shop and they make me smile when I walk into my kitchen = priceless.

2.  Paper Straws -They look so cute in a mason jar. You can add them to a summer drink table at a party. They are sold at Target for $1.99 and I also saw a big box of pink and white paper straws at T.J. Maxx. They would be great for birthday parties, too.

3. Blowing bubbles with my little boy in the summertime.

4.  Fried okra - don't knock it til you've tried it. I sometimes make my own, but this was from a local restaurant.

5. Our finished DIY job of a tile backsplash in our kitchen. I blogged about it this week on  My husband is a hero!

Thanks so much for reading. It's always fun to link up to new parties!

Linking up to The Good Life Blog: 

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Our Kitchen Backsplash Project

After watching HGTV's  Bang with a Buck  recently, my husband and I decided to do a DIY project in our kitchen. Actually, only one of us did this project. (I just helped out however I could.)  Unfortunately, I'm not one of those wonderful bloggers who can wield their trusty hammers or paint brushes. Not even a little bit!  But I do come up with ideas from time to time and Dave will usually say, "I think I could do that."

In our first home, my husband and father-in-law built the most beautiful white pergola off of our back patio - totally from my husband's design sketches and my father-in-law's building expertise.  I think he could pretty much do any job he put his mind to do. He is a pastor by day, but I think he could be a contractor on the side.

So, my husband and I went to Lowe's and picked out tumbled marble tiles and all the things we ( uh-hum, I meant "he" ) would need for the job.

We decided we liked the tiles laid on the diagonal and so the job began.

Here is a "before" photo. We have granite countertops in the kitchen and antique white cabinetry. The wall color is "Restrained Gold" from Sherwin Williams.

This is my husband, Dave, hard at work.

Things were going along very well until it came to THE GROUT. We both stood in the aisle at Home Depot looking at all the colors of grout there were to choose from. We agreed on a color and brought it home. Dave began adding the grout until....

We both decided it was the wrong color!

The problem is that Dave had gotten pretty fast by this point. If you've ever done a kitchen tile backsplash, you know that you can't stand up and work. You have to crouch the whole time since you are working under the cabinetry. It was starting to take a toll on his back, so he was working quick and had gotten a lot of the grout work done on one whole wall.

But as we stood back and looked at it, we both thought the same thing. It was just too dark.

We decided to try and dig out the grout. Easier said than done! We both worked and worked on it, but decided the grout had also discolored many of the tiles making them darker than the original.

Dave made the decision to remove the tiles he had put up on one wall. As he began popping out tiles, we made another discovery. Some of the tiles came off fairly easily. But other tiles came off with chunks of the wall attached. I sat down at the computer and googled "how to remove tiles without removing the wall"....(here's where my help came in - ha!) Some of the sites said, "Forget it. There is no way around it. The wall will come off with the tile." But then I found a helpful tip. It said to aim a blow dryer at the tiles. I ran upstairs and retrieved my blow dryer and started working. Sure enough, it did cause many of the tiles to pop right off. But some of the tiles were more stubborn and were still taking off the wall with it.

We debated. What should we do? Our littlest boy said, "Mom, we should pray about this." We did and then heard the phone ring. It was our dear friend, Quinby Collier. After a few minutes of conversation, he headed over to help.

In the meantime, Dave made the decision. He was going to have to remove the tiles and then also put up new drywall on that wall. The two other walls were safe since they had no grout on them yet.

Ugh! A job that had been moving speedily along now came to a grinding halt. Thankfully, Quinby was available to help that afternoon and knew how to cut and install drywall.

I know! We still can't believe it either! My beautiful kitchen...but it gets better! There will be a happy ending, friends.

Once the decision was made to actually do it, the two men worked fast. You know the old saying, "Many hands make fast work." Both Dave and Quinby are hard workers as well as perfectionists. So, I knew the end results would be great, but I felt so badly for Dave. He was using up his vacation days for this "project from..." well, you know the rest.

But here is the final reveal.

Remember the before?

The after.

Here are a few more "afters".


It looks so beautiful now. You'd never guess what he had to go through to "right the wrong". I'm thrilled with how it looks. It reflects the light so beautifully and seems to finish the kitchen out.

If you ever decide to tile, test out your grout before you put it on the wall. It would be good to do a "mock up" of the tile on a board and see what you think before you ever put it up on the wall.

It may sound crazy, and we burned up a lot of vacation days, but in some weird way it was sort of an enjoyable experience - working together in the kitchen through the good and the bad.

Didn't he do a great job? And...thank God for good friends!

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