A Tribute To Teachers!

A Tribute To Teachers!

As I walked into the store the other day…there was a stark reminder that summer will soon be over…say what!  It was always a little bittersweet sending my kids back to school; it was always fun to be a little more relaxed and spontaneous during the summer, but it was also nice to get back on more of a routine schedule.

A Tribute To Teachers!

“You know it’s time to go back to school when parents are singing….. it’s the most wonderful time of the year!”  Relatably.com

I am related by blood to many wonderful educators.  I also had many fabulous teachers during my 13 year stint in public education, as well as many beloved professors during my college years.  Sadly, I appreciate the talent and greatness of these wise people, who made a lasting impression and helped me realize my full potential, so much more now than I ever did then.  It’s never too late to recognize the influence of a good teacher…so here’s my tribute to teachers!

A Tribute To Teachers!

My dad, a brilliant teacher, offered up these words of wisdom often!

Reasons We Love Teachers!

1.  Teachers work hard!

Teachers don’t show up and sit behind a desk…they stand all day, talk all day, interact all day and learn all day.  Teachers are busy people.  Teachers know the work is challenging, but they’ve accepted the task and know they can be an amazing influence on their students by the sheer example of their own work ethic!  They may not be as prompt as you’d like at returning emails and phone calls, but the important stuff…the teaching…that’s what they’re getting done!

A Tribute To Teachers!

“Of all the hard jobs around, one of the hardest is being a good teacher.”  Maggie Gallagher       

2. Teachers foster a deep love of thinking and learning!

Even though every student learns at a different pace, teachers are devoted to making sure each one is learning and understanding.  Teachers don’t accept failure and try every angle and every strategy to help students learn and succeed.  Teachers gladly celebrate students accomplishments and although teachers know they only have their students for a short period of time, they are proud to see them succeed and move on.  I still remember my third grade teacher, Mrs. Larsen.  I don’t think I will ever forget how enthusiastic and full of life she was–even at 60 years old.  She brought so much joy into the classroom, and that’s a lesson that will stick with me forever; whatever you do…find joy in doing it!

A Tribute To Teachers!

3.  Teachers are creative.

In their own creative ways, it’s not unusual for teachers to suddenly sing, dance or take part in any assortment of silly activities just to show that learning something new can be fun.  Teachers are mentors, coaches, supporters and yes, even friends!  Really, what can’t teachers do?  And when they can’t…they’ll find a way!  Teachers are also very adaptable.  They are quick to change a lesson or an entire class on a moments notice–which definitely comes in handy when the fire drill or unplanned assembly interrupts.  CFCC2278-4409-4907-A9E2-A627C8C4FA6F

“Creativity is intelligence having fun!”  Albert Einstein

4.  Teachers are lifelong students!

Teachers are committed to being the best teachers they can be.  Teachers continually take outside courses and professional training development.  Teachers share ideas with one another and sit in various classrooms to learn new teaching techniques.  Teachers learn from their students too.  Every strength a great teacher possesses is a result of their desire to continue learning themselves.

A Tribute Teachers!

5.  Teachers love what they do!

Teacher have been trained in a field with low pay and very few tangible rewards!!  Teachers know how to make the most of a lesson plan with little money, no supplies and limited time.  Despite the challenges that come with being a teacher, teachers love what they do and try to do it better every day, because they know they are making a difference in their student’s lives.  The joys of teaching can be so overwhelming and far-reaching that teachers inherently know it is one of the greatest professions on earth.

A Tribute To Teachers!

“Let us remember…one book, one pen, one child and one teacher can change the world!”  Malala Yousafzai 

Student education requires team effort–so as kids get ready to go back to school, let’s all do our part to be involved…perhaps we can start by simply showing our sincere appreciation for teachers!

We love teachers because they make us love working with them and learning from them every day!

I’d love to know how a great teacher influenced your life!

–Love, Mary

Cookbook Challenge! Down Home Cooking!

Cookbook Challenge!  Down Home Cooking!

Along with barbecuing on his grill, dutch oven cooking is how my hubby loves to do a little down home cooking when we entertain family and friends during the summer months…I’m just happy to have him doing the cooking!

The Cookbook Challenge!

“Meals and memories go hand in hand at our house!”  Tribute Journal  

Today’s cookbook challenge is from the cookbook, Bear Bottom Bliss, by the Shoults family, owners of Bear Creek Smokehouse, located in the heart of East Texas Piney Woods farmland; they are commonly referred to by locals as the first family of smoked meats.  This cookbook is a collection of over 70 years of family recipes handed down from generation to generation.  I gave this cookbook to my husband for Father’s Day–I especially love the stories of family and faith that go along with the delicious recipes that are shared!  While most of the dishes call for traditional cookware when you bake them, it’s been fun to see my hubby adapt some of them for Dutch Oven cooking.

Bear Bottom Bliss Cookbook.

“This cookbook features down-home, soothe your soul, easy to prepare recipes.”  Bear Bottom Bliss 

Nellie Shoults, the outspoken matriarch of this distinguished family business, offers a fair warning to those purchasing this charming cookbook, “Bear Bottom Bliss is NOT a cookbook with smoked meat recipes…we can’t give away all our secrets, now can we!”     

Bear Creek Smokehouse.

(via Bear Bottom Bliss Cookbook)

“Bear Creek Smokehouse is always about family and quality…it always will be!”  Nellie Shoults 

While every recipe pictured in this beautifully formatted cookbook from “East Texas Casserole” to “Stir-Fried Cabbage” is culinary eye-candy, we decided to make the “Au Gratin Potatoes and Ham Bake” recipe since we were having a patio party with typical barbecue fare.

Au Gratin Potatoes and Ham Bake  (Makes 6-8 servings)

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

1/2 cup milk

2 tablespoons flour

1 teaspoon salt

Fresh ground pepper to taste

1 cup diced ham

(It recommends Bear Creek Smokehouse ham–we used our local store brand)

1 cup sharp cheddar cheese

4-5 large sliced Russet potatoes

Sliced potatoes.

(We like to slice the potatoes pretty thin to make sure they will be fully cooked.)

In a mixing bowl, whisk together milk and flour, then stir in cream, salt and pepper.  Set aside.  Place 1/3 of the potato slices in a baking dish or Dutch Oven.  Add 1/2 diced ham.  Pour 1/3 cream mixture over potatoes.  Repeat layers ending in cream mixture.  Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes in a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes.  Remove foil and bake for another 20 minutes.  Add shredded cheese and bake until it is completely melted.

Sliced potatoes.

Cooking this recipe in a Dutch Oven makes it extra savory, since the ham flavor diffuses into the sauce.  You’ll add about 10-12 hot briquettes to the top and bottom of the Dutch Oven and bake for approximately 1 1/2 hours. 

(You can also get my hubby’s Dutch Oven BBQ Ribs recipe here.) 

And for dessert…

Bear Bottom Bliss Zucchini Bread  (Makes two loafs, 16-18 slices)

3 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon finely grated nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

2 cups sugar

1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

3 eggs

2 cups grated zucchini

Grated zucchini.

(I personally like to peel my zucchini before I grate it, but it isn’t necessary.)

1-8 oz. can crushed pineapple, drained 

1 cup vegetable oil

2 teaspoons vanilla

In large bowl sift the first eight ingredients.  Set aside.  In another large bowl, beat eggs until foamy.  Stir in zucchini, pineapple, oil and vanilla.  Add flour mixture one cup at a time to egg mixture.  Stir with a spatula until blended.  Fold in chopped nuts.  Evenly divide batter into two loaf pans.  Bake in 325 degree oven for 35-40 minutes or until bread is golden brown.  Remove from oven on wire racks and let cool for 10 minutes before removing bread from pans.  Continue cooling loaves until they are room temperature before slicing.

Bear Bottom Bliss Zucchini Bread.

The surprise ingredient of crushed pineapple makes the Zucchini Bread so moist! 

Bear Creek Smokehouse was named “Family Business of the Year” by the U.S. Small Business Administration in 2013.  They were then invited to serve some of their smokehouse selections to many state directors and congressmen in Washington D.C.   After that experience, their business and the recipes they shared became more nationally renowned.  As you can read in their cookbook, the Shoults family face many of the challenges associated with running a small business, but they’re quick to say that first and foremost, it’s about being devoted to one another as family members and loved ones!

Shoults family of Bear Creek Smokehouse.

(via Bear Bottom Bliss Cookbook)

“We feel this labor of love reflects all the joy that is so much a part of the five generations of the Shoults family and our cooking traditions here in Bear Bottom, Texas.” Introduction to the Bear Bottom Bliss Cookbook

While many of us may not run a business with our families, we can certainly find ways to pay tribute to the traditions and work ethic of those who came before us.  Since he came from a large, rambuncious family of nine children, my husband fondly recalls sitting down to hearty, homemade dinners prepared by his parents; he feels he honors them best when he gathers his own family around the table to enjoy a good meal, fun conversation and lively laughter!

Best Food quote.

If your family published a cookbook, what kind of recipes would be featured?

–Bon Appetit, Mary 

Creating Your Home Sweet Home! Outdoor Living!

Creating Your Home Sweet Home!  Outdoor Living!

Summer and outdoor living, along with patio potluck picnics just seem to go hand in hand…cozy backyard spaces have become peaceful havens to help us escape the busy schedules of our everyday lives!

Creating Your Home Sweet Home! Outdoor Living!

Much like the rooms indoors, an outdoor living space evolves to accommodate our family’s needs…but it’s sure to be a popular place to gather if a few key things are taken into consideration.

  Include comfortable seating! 

Nothing says come stay awhile than a comfy and inviting place to sit.  My husband and I always look forward to some special gatherings with family and friends out on our patio during the summer!

Patio decor! www.mytributejournal.com

“Come sit with me on the patio…the drinks are cold and the friendship’s free.”  Tribute Journal

Quaint southern porches.

I fell in love with the quaint, inviting outdoor living spaces of the south when my husband and I visited my son and his family in Augusta, Georgia last year. 

♦  Make it cool and shady!

I think you’ll agree that one of the main purposes of outdoor living is to provide a cool and shady retreat from the glaring sun and hot summer weather.  Nothing can cool off a space quicker than a ceiling fan–and believe me, there’s a wide assortment available depending on your style and the mood you want to create.  An electrician can add one without too much hassle.

Patio ceiling fans.

“It’s always a good idea to take a smallish nap or two in a nice summer breeze.”   Winnie the Pooh

Vintage floor fan by Oak Tree Vintage.

For added circulation, I put this vintage floor fan on my patio.  It has various speeds and turns from side to side.  It is from www.oaktreevintage.com

♦  Set the mood with fun lighting!

Not only is good lighting integral to setting an inviting mood to your outdoor living space, but it also extends the hours of use well past the time when the sun sets.  String lights give you the most bang for your buck and add a festive feeling to your patio too.  My daughter recently added these lights to a pergola they built last year; it becomes a magical place to get together with her family come nighttime!

Patio string lights.

“Outdoors is where you realize…what is beautiful, what is rare, what is true!”  Ben Okri

Outdoor patio lighting.

How fun are these unique lighting ideas to give our patio’s the perfect ambience!

♦  A grill is a patio must-have!

Good food always adds to any outdoor living experience, and summer food cooked on a grill is everyone’s favorite, it seems.  Whether it’s a fancy grill with all the bells and whistles or a simple briquet barbeque, I think a grill is an outdoor patio must-have!  For large groups, my husband especially loves his Black Stone gas grill.

Black Stone gas grill.

“Grilling takes the formality out of entertaining–everyone wants to get involved.”  Bobby Flay

Summer grilling.

My husband knew he had taught our son to keep his priorities straight when he saw that he got a nice grill for his patio when he moved into his new house!

Toddler grilling play set.

I would say that my son also firmly solidified his “man-card” when he purchased these cute grilling accessories for my grandson, Elliot’s backyard swing set!  

♦  Have some kid friendly spaces!

Whether you have young kids of your own, or grandkids who come to visit like I do, kid friendly spaces for your outdoor living areas are a necessity to give them a place to play and make them feel welcome!  It’s as simple as getting a small table set that they can eat at and special dishes that you use just for them.  This was one of the most fun areas to create on my patio.

"Lunch Bunch" on the patio www.mytributejournal.com

"Lunch Bunch" on the patio! www.mytributejournal.com

“At the end of the day…your hair should be messy and your eyes sparkling!”  Shanti

Water table for kids.

Outdoor playhouse.

You can’t beat the fun water table or playhouse that my daughter has added to a corner of her patio, they’re perfect for extra summer creativity for her girls! 

♦  Add your special touches! 

Just like our inside home décor, I think our outdoor living spaces should be a fun reflection of our personalities–filled with things we love; it should be a place where we automatically feel we can sit down and relax and take a break from our daily grind…a little escape from reality!

Patio decor www.mytributejournal.com

“Taking time to do nothing, often brings everything in your life into perspective!”  Doe Zantamata

Creating Your Home Sweet Home! Outdoor Living!

Patio furniture www.mytributejournal.com

My patio is a nod to nature and simplicity…I love being surrounded by plants and flowers.  I go here to recharge and remember that I am very blessed!

I hope everyone is having a fabulous summer! 

William Wadsworth quote.

What do you love most about outdoor living?

–Love, Mary