Recipe Share Wednesday: Moroccan-Style Stuffed Acorn Squash


To my amazement, my husband enjoyed these. Yummy!

2 tablespoons brown sugar

  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 2 large acorn squash, halved and seeded
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 cup garbanzo beans, drained
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1 (14 oz) can chicken broth
  • 1 cup uncooked couscous (I used the pearl kind; any will do)

NOTE: I didn’t have celery, so I doubled up on the carrots. Worked just fine.

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Arrange squash halves – cut side down – on a baking sheet. Bake 30 minutes, or until tender. Dissolve sugar in melted butter. Brush squash with butter mixture. Keep squash warm while preparing the stuffing.
  3.  Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in the garlic, celery, and carrots, and cook 5 minutes. Mix in the garbanzo beans and raisins. Season with cumin, salt, and pepper, and continue to cook until vegetables are tender.
  4.  Pour chicken broth into the skillet, and mix in the couscous. Cover skillet, and turn off heat. Allow couscous to absorb liquid for 5 minutes. Stuff squash halves with the skillet mixture to serve.


You will likely have leftover stuffing…it tastes pretty good all by itself. I had it for lunch the next day since all the squash were gone. 🙂


acorn squash


Tuesday Tips: Living a Healthier Life

Good morning!

The purpose of the post today is to remind myself of why I started on this journey toward a healthier lifestyle. Sometimes I need reminders. Seeing it in “print” often helps me a lot; sometimes things get lost in my ol’ brain. 🙂 I read a lot…a LOT. And over the course of the last year or two, I have read much about healthy living, organics, pesticides, real food, processed foods…you name it, if it’s health-related, I have probably read something about it.

Some of the books that I read that had the most impact on my thoughts about healthy living/eating include Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Karen Kingsolver which I have read several times; In Defense of Food as well as Food Rules by Michael Pollan; and Food Matters by Mark Bittman. I read Organic Gardening magazine (and had my first little organic garden this summer). I read Mother Earth News and Mother Earth Living magazines. I follow blogs online: 100 Days of Real Food; Stacy Makes Cents. Basically, I read anything and everything about changing the way we eat and how what we put into our bodies has lasting effects…and not just with weight.

I encourage you to read, read, read about what you can do – and you CAN do it – to make changes in your life to be more healthy. But here are a few things that I have read over and over to get you started. Remember: You are in charge of your health and it’s up to you to do what you can to make yourself as healthy as possible. I know a lot of people have health issues already so don’t make any drastic changes without talking to your doctor. But if he or she tells you it’s just dandy to eat mac and cheese from a box, it might be time to seek another doctor. Just saying.

1. Never call a healthy eating plan a diet.

Never. Never ever. “Diet” is a four-letter word, and it’s a doozy. If you go on a diet, the implication is that when you reach whatever goal you set for yourself, you will go back to your “regular” eating and somehow maintain your weight loss. From everything I’ve read – and seen – it’s NOT going to go down that way. Diets don’t work. Living off boxed low-fat frozen dinners and sugar-free this and fat-free that will leave you feeling deprived. And hungry. Deprivation and a constant feeling of hunger will eventually lead to a food binge that leaves you feeling bad about yourself – and probably just feeling bad. And the cycle just repeats itself over and over. So don’t go on a diet. Instead, make changes – gradual is fine – to healthier eating habits.

2. Cook your own meals.

Please, please, please…don’t tell me you that can’t cook. I beg you! If you are reading this blog, you CAN cook. Get a cookbook, look through it, pick a recipe, and make it. It might be best not to start with a recipe with an ingredient list a page long.  You might get there one day; you might not. But there are recipes that are simple and easy to prepare. And then not only do you have a home-cooked meal, you have the joy of knowing that YOU made it. Homemade mac and cheese is pretty darn easy. To say that it’s better than the stuff in the box with powdered “cheese” would be an understatement. That being said, you can NOT eat the entire dish by yourself. It would defeat the purpose. But in my experience, a spoonful of the good stuff is better than a whole box of the fake stuff. I’m not suggesting that you start out making five-course dinners every night. But with some planning, you can cook meals at home. I believe this with all my heart!

3. Avoid fast food places and chain restaurants.

If the Sysco truck makes a daily delivery to a restaurant, it’s probably not your best option when eating out. For the most part, in our house we save eating out for special occasions such as birthdays (you get to pick the restaurant) and our anniversary. When we vacation, we eat out as little as possible. And no, cooking while on vacation isn’t a hardship. I always pack my slow cooker and dinner is ready when we are. We will eat out once – maybe twice – while on vacation. I hate knowing that I spent $100 on a meal I could have prepared myself for $20. Hate. It. And I have found now that eating out in general leaves me feeling bloated and dissatisfied. I just feel yucky! And, I get a little made when I pay good money for a mediocre (at best) meal. I won’t go into fast food places. Just know that in my way of thinking, if it’s that fast, I question whether or not it’s really food.

4. Read labels carefully.

Know your stuff so that you can make an informed decision. If a label says “less sugar” or “sugar free,” look at the label. Anything that contains “-crose” or “-cose” is some type of sugar. Sucrose. Glucose. Fructose. There’s quite a list. Avoid aspartame. If something says “whole wheat” on the label and the first ingredient is “enriched wheat flour,” it’s not really whole wheat. The general rules are:

*Don’t eat it if it has more than five ingredients unless you can pronounce them all (like berries, oats, rice). If you can pronounce “acetylated monoglycerides” and even know what they are, more power to you. You still don’t need to eat them.

* Fresh is best. Fruits and vegetables and fresh meats don’t have labels. Doesn’t mean they haven’t been treated with pesticides, but they haven’t been filled with other stuff. That being said, I buy organic whenever possible. If it’s not available, I usually skip it. Yes, I know organic is more expensive and if it’s cost-prohibitive, I’ll pass for the week. You can google a list of the “Dirty Dozen” organic fruits and veggies that you should always buy organic because of the pesticide residue that remain on and in them even after washing.  Buy local when you can but ask about the farmer’s practices regarding pesticides.

5. You have to get moving.

You can eat things that are good for you at every meal, but if the rest of the time you are in a sitting or reclined (napping) position, you’re still doing yourself a disservice. You have to move your body. I’m not saying you have to run, or do Zumba, or join a gym. Walking is free and it’s the easiest thing to do. (If you are physically unable to get out an exercise, ask your doctor what you can do to get moving inside.) I will tell you that it’s easier  if you have an exercise partner – someone to exercise with and to keep you accountable when you can’t exercise together. Getting a text asking if you’ve exercised today will get you up and moving so that you can honestly respond, “Yes.”

6. Set small goals rather than one big goal.

While it’s fine to have an ultimate goal in mind (lost 25 pounds or run a 5K), making smaller goals for yourself gives you reasons to celebrate along the way. Want to lose 25 pounds, set 5-pound goals for yourself. Five pounds is a lot more “doable” than 25 pounds seems. Walking half a mile a month from now is easier- and a lot more likely – than running a 5K a month from now. And reward yourself when you meet your goals. Not with food! A manicure or pedicure. A movie. A massage (my personal favorite). Something you really enjoy but don’t often do for yourself – especially if you’re a mom.

7. Get your family on board.

Try to encourage your family to join you on your journey to a healthier lifestyle. If they aren’t up for it, you can sneak it in on them – especially if you’re the cook in the house. Here is a prime example that I experienced a couple of weeks ago. When I buy ground beef, I always buy the lowest fat content: either 97/3 or 90/10. When it’s available in my store, I buy the grass-fed good stuff. It’s over $6.00 a pound which is one reason why I serve ground beef only once a week. My husband was unaware that I was doing this. He went to the grocery store with me and saw the pack of ground beef in the cart. “What? We’re not paying over $6.00 for hamburger meat! No way!” So he took it and went to the meat department and bought regular ground beef. I don’t even remember the fat content. So I made tacos with it – which I did not even try. He takes a bite and immediately asks me, “Is there something wrong with this meat? Has it gone bad?” My response: “Nope. It’s what you picked out.” When he asked why it tasted weird, I let him know that he was used to eating the “good stuff” and hadn’t even known it, but that he could tell the difference now. I explained that the price is the reason we only have ground beef once a week. (I didn’t tell him that I am reducing his red meat intake, so don’t you tell him.) He has finally gotten on board with “Meatless Mondays” even though he gives me a hard time still. And he’s started walking. Not as often or regularly as he should, but he’s getting there. 🙂

8. Be willing to try new things.

New exercise programs or classes. New recipes. New foods. Some you’ll like; some you won’t. But you definitely won’t know if you don’t try. I’ve discovered that I like roasted veggies way more than those cooked down to nothing (which is probably a southern thing). Except beets. I really don’t like beets. And I still don’t like lettuce, but I do like fresh spinach so I throw that on a sandwich or in an omelet all the time. Homemade cream of chicken soup is the bomb! If you make it, you’ll never use the blob from the can again. And it’s easy! Really easy. I would never have expected to hear myself say, “I’m going to go get my run in now.” And yet I said that very thing yesterday. And I felt good once I’d done it, too. Walking and/or running is a great stress reliever. 

9. Know your reason(s) for wanting a healthier lifestyle.

To have more energy. To live a longer life. To avoid some of the health problems that seem to run in my family. To feel better about myself. To eliminate processed foods. To be a better and wiser consumer. The reasons are endless, but you know why you are doing it. That’s the reason(s) you need to remember. And ultimately, the reason is for you (and your children). Your spouse may or may not ever get on board – at least not to his knowledge. 🙂 

10. Have a friend who has the same goal in mind.

Everyone needs a friend to keep them “in line” – to remind you why you are on a journey to better health. Why you are making the decisions you are making. Someone you can call when you’re standing in the ice cream aisle at the grocery store about to stock up on the “buy one, get one” sale. Someone who can talk you into  meeting her for one scoop of good ice cream at the ice cream place instead. Someone to exercise with. Someone to encourage you. Someone to pick you up and dust you off when you feel like you have fallen off the wagon, so to speak. 

Making the change to a healthy lifestyle isn’t easy. Some parts of it are easier than others, but it’s not easy to change your mindset. It’s not easy to say “no” to things you’ve always said “yes” to. It’s not always easier to eat at home. It’s not always convenient. But – and this is a big BUT – it’s worth it. You’ll feel better – physically and emotionally. You’ll sleep better. Your body will thank you. (Sometimes your body says “thank you” through muscle aches, but that’s okay. It’s still thankful you moved it.)

I would say that the very first things you need to do are #9 and #10. Figure out why you want to change your lifestyle. Find someone who shares that desire. And get started. Little by little; step by step; change by change. You’ll get there. We all can. Just remember that it’s a journey. We didn’t get unhealthy overnight; we can’t get healthy overnight. Don’t get discouraged. Keep your goal in mind and keep moving toward it.

Have a blessed and beautiful day!


What I Learned About Simplifying from 5K Training


As most of you know, my friend Kathryn and I have been in training to run a 5K. (I highly recommend the “Couch to 5K” training program!) Our race was Friday night and we finished in under 37 minutes – beating our best time so far. When we started the training, I was focused on training and that is all. I didn’t realize at the time that it would mean anything other than I might be able to run a 5K without anyone having to call 911. I emphasize the word might because in the beginning, I was doubtful. And hot. Very, very hot.

The first night of 5K training – July 22nd – consisted of “a brisk five-minute warm-up walk; then alternate 60 seconds of jogging and 90 seconds of walking for a total of 20 minutes.” Easy-peasy, right? Ha! Anyone can jog for 60 seconds, right? Have mercy! What a shock it was to realize that one minute of jogging when you have not been jogging actually feels much longer than 60 seconds. Much, much longer. And to do it more than once? Psh. Those 90 seconds of walking were just enough (barely) to catch my breath and then we had to jog – AGAIN!

Had anyone dared to say that I needed to jog for three miles – or 30 minutes – on that very first night, I probably would have walked (not jogged) away. There would have been absolutely no way. It was a process. A 9-week, slowly progressing process. By August 19, we were jogging 1/2 mile segments with 1/4 mile walking segments in between – so jogging more than walking. The last three weeks of training, we gradually increased our jogging time from 25 minutes to 30 minutes, ending with the race on Friday night. I would never, ever have believed that I could run 3.2 miles in under 37 minutes back on July 22.

So what did 5K training teach me about simplifying? What could learning to run and learning to simplify have in common? Ten weeks ago, I couldn’t have told you. But now I can. The answer is that you need to always be moving – sometimes slowly  but surely – toward your ultimate goal. When you set out to simplify your life, it isn’t an overnight process. If you know how to do that, please let me know. 🙂 But seriously, your life probably didn’t get complicated overnight, and you can’t expect it to get simplified overnight either. Just like I couldn’t jog for 30 minutes on day one, you can’t go from complicated and busy to simple and easy in one day. It’s a process. For some, it takes longer than others.

The key is to have a goal. A vision of what you want your life to look like. Not just your house – though that’s a part of it. But also your calendar and schedule. Your relationships. Everything. And it takes time. And effort. And persistence. When you want to quit, you have to refocus on your goal and “keep on keeping on.” A simpler life is out there for you if you want to do what it takes to get it. You – and you alone – have to decide what’s important and what can go. YOU are the one who has to learn to say “no” to things.

So what’s it going to be? Are you willing to do what it takes to get the simpler life you want? It’s going to take commitment. And persistence. And it will be a struggle at times. But it can be done. The end result will be worth it. When in doubt, take a minute and picture where you’re going and remember that where you are is just a step along the way.

This week’s challenge: Visualize what a simple life looks like for you. Draw a picture. Make a collage of pictures that make you think “peaceful” and “simple.” Write your goals down in a journal. Whatever works for you. This is about YOU and YOUR life. What is simple for you isn’t the same for someone else. That’s okay. Just decide where you’re going. Focus on that this week. As you begin to think of ways to reach your goal, write those down as well. We’ll work on setting up a “training plan” next week.

Have a blessed and beautiful first week of fall!


P.S. By the way, Friday night was still HOT!

Recipe Share Wednesday: Chicken Marsala

You can also make this with  pork chops or steak. Cooking time might be a little more depending on the thickness of the cut of meat.

Serve with mashed potatoes and some bread sticks. Top those mashed potatoes with some garlic butter…yum!  🙂

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (they need to be thin so either buy thin ones or slice a large one in half length-wise)
1 can sliced mushrooms or fresh sliced mushrooms
3/4 cup Marsala wine (I use the one in the cooking wine section)
1/4 cup water
1-2 teaspoons dried basil
flour for dredging chicken
4-6 tablespoons of butter

In a large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat; add mushrooms and saute until browned. Remove and set aside. Lightly dredge chicken breasts in flour; shake to remove excess. Melt 2 more tablespoons butter over medium heat; add chicken breasts and cook until lightly browned on both sides, adding additional butter if needed. Return mushrooms to pan. Pour wine/water over chicken; sprinkle with basil. Reduce heat; cover and let cook over medium-low to low heat at least 30 minutes, turning occasionally. (The longer it cooks, the more tender it will be.)

My “Aha!” Moment

Hello everyone!

There was no blogging yesterday as a friend and I traveled to Athens, Georgia to visit another friend whose husband is in the hospital. He had a pretty bad dirt bike accident on Sunday afternoon and will be recovering for a while. Prayers for him (his name is Dean) and for Samantha and their children as he goes through the long recovery ahead are appreciated.

So today as I was sitting at my desk – trying really hard to keep my head OFF my desk – I had an “Aha!” moment. I have been tired lately. Feeling like I can’t keep up with everything around the house. And wondering why. Well, duh. Not only did I start a job that takes me away from home during the day, I also started a 5K training program that has been taking me away from home three nights a week. At the same time. I started both within a few days of each other. I don’t mind being gone for a few hours during the day. But I am not a fan of activities that take me away from home at night. And I’ve been doing it three nights a week for nine weeks. When I realized that today, I felt a lot better. No less tired, mind you, but better nonetheless. And then I realized that tonight is the last night of training. And I was like “Woo-hoo!” I realized that my life should go back to some semblance of normal next week. I’m so excited!

That might not sound like much to be excited about, but I am. I really, truly am. My mind is already working out a schedule that includes work hours and the stuff I do at home. And it won’t have to include three nights a week away from home. I can go back to exercising in the mornings. I feel like I might be able to get myself back on track. Y’all know I like a schedule. 🙂 I’m so ready to get back on one that doesn’t stress me out to look at it. Heavy sigh of relief.

So you can expect me to get back to blogging regularly – maybe not on the weekends, but I’m aiming for daily blogs again. I’ll share my new schedule with you when I have it done. I know you’re just giddy with excitement about that! (HA!) Just bear with me as I get my head back on straight and get myself back on track. I’ll get there. I know I will.

Thank you for putting up with my sporadic blogging over the last couple of months. And thank you for not abandoning me! 🙂

Have a GREAT week!


Good Saturday morning!

Wow! It is a BEAUTIFUL day the Lord has made today! I am rejoicing and being glad in it!

Hope you all have had a good week. My friend Kathryn and I have completed week 8  of our “Couch to 5K” training. By this time next week, we will have run our race. We are praying for weather like we have here today. We ran this morning.  Cool and wonderful! We went to the farmers’ market and sat on the back porch for a few glorious minutes. Now the windows are up. The laundry is about to get hung on the line. Bread dough is rising. Dinner is planned. I’m watching “The Pioneer Woman.” This is what Saturdays are all about. (I really, really want to go hang out with the Pioneer Woman!)

So have you worked on your fall projects lists? I have. So has my daughter. I think her list for each room may end up being longer than mine. I think that I’m going to be brave – I think! – and show you pictures of my projects in progress and at completion. So you’d get a grand tour of my humble abode. I’m sure that thrills you beyond measure. 🙂 What I’m hoping is that if I show you my projects, you’ll show me yours. I’m starting on Monday – depending on the weather, it could be the porch or the dining room. I don’t plan to spent much money. We’re talking updating and freshening on a budget. A slim one. We’ll see what we can do.

Are you up for it? Seasonal changes always make me want to rearrange furniture (well, sometimes mood changes make me do that, too), move pictures around…just make things look a little different. And fall is my favorite season so get really motivated. Who’s with me? Anybody? If you are, get ready for Monday. And get ready to share pictures, ideas, what worked/what didn’t, etc. Share, share, share!

Y’all have a great Saturday! I’m going out to the clothesline. Roll Tide! Go Gamecocks!



Recipe Share Wednesday: Corn & Red Pepper “Pancakes”

These are a great little side dish to Mexican food. I, however, could eat them whenever…like the whole stack. Yum! (This recipe is from a book by Laura Childs.)


This makes quite a big batch of pancakes!


2 cups corn – fresh, frozen, or canned (drained)

1/4 cup diced red bell pepper

1/4 cup diced onion

2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped or about a teaspoon dried parsley

2 cups melted butter

1 1/2 cups flour (self-rising)

3 eggs

1 1/2 cups cream or half-and-half


Combine corn, red pepper, onion, and parsley in a large bowl. Stir in melted butter. Add flour and stir to coat. In a separate bowl, lightly beat eggs, then add cream and stir. Fold egg/cream mixture into vegetable mixture. Cook as silver dollar size “pancakes” on griddle.


Top with any – or all – of the following: sour cream, salsa, bacon bits, shredded cheese.

Happy Monday! Fall cleaning, anyone?

Happy Monday, everyone!

Hope you all had a great weekend! Sorry about the sporadic blogging last week. Having a Monday holiday always messes me up.  My poor aging brain. 🙂 There was a lot of football watching done at my house this weekend. How about yours? Football watching is one of those things I took up when I got married. My husband LOVES college football season, so I figured I might as well join him if I w anted to see him during those few months every year.

So fall is nearly here. I guess it’s official around September 21st, but for me, fall starts after Labor Day. Summer begins with Memorial Day and ends with Labor Day in my world. I really want to put up fall decorations, but I am resisting so far. It won’t be long, though. I have a wreath waiting to be hung and I’ve been scoping out mums at Lowe’s and Home Depot. My hope at the moment is that we get some nice, cool fall temperatures before the 5K I’m running on the 20th. Ten degrees will do; twenty would be awesome. Running tonight is going to be hard before we get started. It’s HOT out there today!

How many of you do fall cleaning every year? Do you have certain projects you save for cooler weather? Or just certain things you do every fall just because that’s the time of year  you do them? Cleaning out closets? Garages? Clearing out flower beds? I don’t have a garage, but I will be doing some closet cleaning. I have several small painting projects that need to get done. So here is what I have decided to do: work from the front porch in. I’m going to use a large Post-It or index card and write a list of everything that needs to be done in each room and hang the list on the wall in the room. Then I’ll work through each list and through each room from the front porch through to the master bath.

Think of the projects that you need to do. Get the big picture first. Then break it down into smaller, more manageable tasks. Work room by room until you’re done. You can give yourself a deadline for each room, or you can just work through them as you have time. The point is to try and work on one room – task by task – until the room is done. Some rooms will require more work than others – at least they will at my house. I’m feeling furniture rearranging and some repurposing coming my way. And some more de-cluttering. Lots of that. I want less stuff. Less stuff means less work for me. I like that thought. Don’t you?

I’m going to start on my lists tomorrow and plan to start working on projects next week. I’m excited about the picture I have in my mind for my front porch. We’ll see if I can make it happen.

Y’all have a great week!



Recipe Share Wednesday: Pumpkin Pound Cake

Recipe Share Wednesday: Pumpkin Pound Cake

I’m ready for fall! I love fall…the colors, the cooler weather (I hope), and all foods pumpkin. I found this recipe several years ago and LOVE it! I said that already, didn’t I? Oh, well. Here it is. And pumpkin is now on my grocery list for the week because I want this now. 🙂 ~ Lynne

Pound Cake Ingredients

3-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice *
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
1-1/2 cups butter, softened
6 eggs
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
3/4 cup milk

* or substitute 1 tsp. ground cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. ground ginger, 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg, 1/4 tsp. ground cloves

Glaze Ingredients

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons butter, softened
4-6 teaspoons milk

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine flour, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl. Set aside.

Combine sugar and 1 1/2 cups butter in large bowl. Beat a medium speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy. Continue beating, adding eggs one at a time, until well mixed. Add pumpkin; continue beating until well mixed. Reduce speed to low. Beat, gradually adding flour mixture alternately with 3/4 cup milk, until well mixed.

Spoon batter into greased and floured 12-cup Bundt pan. Bake for 55-60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pan. Cool completely.

For glaze, combine powdered sugar, 3 tablespoons butter, and enough milk for desired glazing consistency in small bowl. Glaze cooled cake.

Happy Sunday! Tech-free day update – I did it!

Happy Sunday!

I hope you all are having and blessed and relaxed day! I just woke up from a wonderful – and quite long! – afternoon nap and my sweet hubby made me coffee. How awesome is that? We had an amazing worship service this morning and God took care of all the gaps left by volunteers on vacation in the kids’ area. What a great day!

So, yesterday was my tech-free day. Other than to check my church e-mails (just in case!) and to get online so that I could balance the checkbook (before said sweet hubby drove me crazy about it), I managed to stay off the phone and off the computer. No Candy Crush. No Facebook (except messaging a volunteer). No Words with Friends. Here’s what I did instead: read a 400-page book; cleaned out the fridge; browned ground beef for two meals this week; took a nap; picked and snapped the last of my green beans; made a tomato pie just because;  worked on a month-long menu plan; did laundry (hubby and son needed work clothes for tomorrow); made dinner; jogged 1 1/2 miles; went to bed early. And, of course, I watched some college football in  between. I’m thinking of being tech-free every Saturday. Maybe I should do it more often as I got an awful lot done without the distractions. We shall see. 🙂

Enjoy the rest of your day! I hope you have the day off tomorrow for Labor Day. I do. 🙂 Long nap today AND I can sleep in tomorrow if I want. Win!