Entertaining in the Fall…why it is the best time of year to host a gathering :)

Let’s get the Fall festivities going!

Creations_by_Char

img_20160801_121324-1Whether you are an experienced Host or someone who is just thinking of entertaining at home the Fall season is by far your best bet. Until recently, I hosted my annual get together of about 25-35 people every year without fail in October…and let me tell you why.

Not only is Fall the BEST time of year but October is only host to one festive holiday… Halloween. And that falls at the very end of the month. So, you are left with an entire 30 days to do…WHATEVER!

It’s not like September, November, or December. September is busy with back to school, Fall sports, and it’s still mainly a Summer month… November starts to get pretty cold and in todays day and age most people are already in Christmas mode and wanting to spend their weekends shopping…and let us NOT forget Thanksgiving (my favorite) and that pesky and ANNOYING black Friday…THEN, when you finally…

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Roasted Ginger Curry Autumn Medley

It’s that time of year again to revisit this recipe! Sooooo good!

Creations_by_Char

img_20160926_103940I can’t get enough of roasted vegetables!! Especially root vegetables and especially this time of year. They are so rustic and hearty and look beautiful on your table. The fun thing about them is that you can make them in any combination and it is ALWAYS good. So for the amateur cook it’s a no fail dish. Pick from your favorites or from what’s on hand, throw them together, roast ’em and like magic you have a dish to serve that makes you look like a pro! I have many of my own favorite combinations and I will be posting them but this one is my absolute favorites. It is perfect for the Fall and winter and holiday season and can be paired with just about anything. You can prep it ahead and roast it before serving and this is also one of my Healthy Selections recipes so it’s good…

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Spaghetti Squash

I am a total vegetable freak! I love them and spaghetti squash is definitely one of my absolute favorites. You just can’t get easier…it is a very simple process to make and you can literally change it up anyway you’d like. You can serve it so many ways just use your imagination! IMG_20190430_102832_970

 

You will need:

-1 or 2 med to large spaghetti squash

-olive oil

-salt and pepper

-any seasoning blend you prefer or just stick with salt & pepper (my favorite to use is Tastefully Simple’s Rustic Herb Seasoning)IMG_20190505_123524179

Line a sheet pan with foil and preheat oven to 400 degrees

Cut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out and discard seeds.  Drizzle and rub olive oil thoroughly on the inside. Sprinkle with salt and pepper (I leave out the salt because we are on a low sodium diet) and any other seasoning you like.IMG_20190405_190654107

Turn the squash up side down skin side up and bake for 30-60 minutes (depends on size and number of halves) or until your finger indents the skin when you press it. It should be a little squishy.

Remove pan from oven and using tongs flip them right side up to cool for about 5 minutes.IMG_20190405_190520295

Using a fork “fluff” the squash “noodles” out of the skin. You can eat it right out of the skin (built in bowl!) or remove it to use as a side dish or mixed with anything you’d like! You’re favorite sauce, cheese, vegetable or salad…you name it! It is just DELICIOUS!IMG_20190430_102832_970

Enjoy!!

Created with love by:

Char Head 🙂

Creations_by_Char

 

 

How My Heart Breaks a Little Every Day for Today’s Youth… Part 1

IMG_20180703_114311160When You Decide To Have Children….

Looking back at all the former generations they all had children or procreated for different reasons. There was a time when families were much larger and stayed together on one farm. They had large families to CREATE financial stability. The more kids, the more workers, the more the farm or family business prospered. That was their life. They worked hard and had unity…one common goal. During the depression these families were hit hard and then it became about keeping enough food on the table and not losing the family business. I learned so much from my grandmother about this time in history. I loved her stories. To this day an elderly person will stop me in my tracks if I can hear a story from their time. It is FACINATING. And if you ever have the chance please take the time to listen. Not only does it make them happy to tell those stories but it teaches us so much if we choose to hear them and absorb it. (****This is my sweet friend from Tennessee, Jackie, how I miss her and her stories 🙂 )IMG_20160206_133857258 (1) (2017_09_11 13_04_50 UTC) (2017_10_05 19_06_50 UTC)

Then time slowly changed and large families became rare. The time of “Suburbia” arrived with the 2.5 kids and the white picket fence. Possessions became a staple and started to define us so therefore parents started having less children to be able to afford them. The family dynamic in my opinion became more about a social statement than about procreation. Women were looked down upon if they couldn’t have a child or even if they chose not to have them…well, that had been the case for many generations but for different reasons along the way. We saw the rise of women fighting to enter the man’s world of having a career and being competitive in it. That alone began to change families, motherhood, and how we then and now define parenting.

Have you ever REALLY thought about how different parenting and families have become over just the last few generations?  It’s mind boggling. There is really no one definition of it. Most of us were raised to believe that you find someone you love…you get married…you have children…work hard…grow old. Simple as that. But as we now see that was WAY left open to interpretation. Now we have, single Moms, single Dads, 2 Dads, 2 Moms, “Grandparent” parents, 2 working parents, no parents, etc. etc. I am not judging in anyway….let’s make that clear. I am a Christian and I believe what I believe and even if I don’t believe what you believe I love you anyway… until you hurt people, then I have to work on praying for you and forgiving you. But, the point I am getting to is no matter who you love or what you believe, what are our children to think, understand, or believe in? Traditional values are getting pushed away by Liberal mindsets…again not judging just feel as if there could be room for both with understanding and love. I feel if we don’t figure out a way to define all these family dynamics and\or learn to co-exist as a “human” dynamic of love and tolerance, we cannot possibly expect our youth to function and thrive as they grow up and begin to try to make their own ways and own decisions on how THEY will form their own families.

We have gotten so far off into a “do whatever you want or feel like” mentality that we have lost all structure and there are no guidelines for our children to follow. CHILDREN AND TEENAGERS NEED LOVE, STRUCTURE, DISCIPLINE, AND CONSISTENCY. I will say it til the cows come home!!!! Again, this is my opinion but a formed opinion from LIVING it. I feel like I’m old enough now to share advice because I’ve been through a lot for a lot of years and I will tell you no matter what you believe I made it through it all with God. I am so thankful I had Him. From a very young age I had a very strong relationship with God and I don’t know why but I would have hated to see what would have become of me if I didn’t. fb_img_1478543918140

I come from a family of major dysfunction, 2 divorces, and plenty I could write an entire book about… but I won’t get into details out of respect for the people involved. I grew up saying to myself, “When I grow up and have kids they will be loved, put first, and will always know I have their back…and I will MAKE SURE they have respect and love and whatever discipline and sacrifice it takes to make them good citizens…and they will LOVE Jesus!!” I promise you…it was my one goal. I wanted to be a wife and Mother. I think it was fueled by me wanting to show my parents how to do it right! I NEVER wanted my children to feel what I felt. I spent so much of my childhood not feeling loved or protected and I cannot tell you in words what that feels like but I can tell you I will never forget that feeling…never. wedding 1984-3

Now I didn’t always go about things the right way…I got married way too young, didn’t prepare myself with skills or education for a time when God forbid I had to become the breadwinner, and I have made many mistakes along my 35 year parental and marital journey. But, I have always believed a mistake is only a mistake when you don’t learn from it or make the best of it….and for goodness sake don’t repeat it!!

We did wait 3 years after getting married to start our family. I pretty much have to “cookie cut” everything. I HAVE to accomplish A-B- & C before I can attempt D. I didn’t want to have baby number one until we bought a house…and that’s what we did. We moved in our first house (loved that house) during the 5th month of our second pregnancy (we had a miscarriage with the first 😦 ) and we were sooooooooo excited! I had to have EVERYTHING done, set up, and tidy before that baby came….and it was. Those of you who know me probably aren’t surprised and are having a chuckle right now. 🙂 IMG_20170630_132511100

Every time I write I worry I will offend someone out there with my opinions and I apologize for that if I do. I just feel so strongly about some things and I write hoping it will make a difference to more than it doesn’t.

I watch all these young parents starting their families and I see joy and I see things that break my heart. I see everything from, overly attentive, spoiling parents to completely self-absorbed parents, to parents who have given up and just let the kids take over, to parents who are too hard and expect way too much, to parents who do this whole “free range” thing to.. you name it. It’s all over the place….and I will tell you it’s taking it’s toll on our youth and how they will grow up and serve this world.

Our TV shows are a really good example. Just take a look at what shows don’t make it and what shows get the ratings. I remember as a kid we had WHOLE nights of family shows we could sit and watch and our parents didn’t have to worry about the content. I was so excited about Fuller House coming back. YES!!!! A family, sweet, good show to watch! Wow….was I shocked. It honestly isn’t appropriate for small kids, (in MY opinion). There’s partying, drinking, adult subjects, sexual innuendos and jokes that are not for kids. But…they fell prey to trying to get that bigger audience and bigger ratings. Every good wholesome show they come out with ends up getting cancelled. I couldn’t believe how long The Middle made it. Such a good show. Funny AND clean. It’s almost as if people NEED the extreme to be entertained now. Don’t get me wrong, I like good ADULT humor but why the CONSTANT profanity? It’s every other word. My ears start to bleed! Between this, the video game content, social media and a completely unfiltered world our youth doesn’t have a chance without guidance and a watchful eye. But…how sadly I fear most are not getting it.IMG_20180601_090835328****READING!!!! Real books=Real Reading…let children continue to experience the smell, look ,and feel of a good book 🙂

These are just some of the examples of what our youth sees and is exposed to and has very easy access to. I believe kids have WAY too much freedom these days and it’s a recipe for disaster in this over exposed world we are now in. With most parents working outside the home at jobs becoming more and more demanding unfortunately you are seeing more kids home alone WAY too much. I’ve seen it at every age level and I am ASTONISHED! Ask yourself….in today’s world do you honestly think it’s wise to let a child the age of 12 or 13 stay home alone everyday all summer? WAY too much time on their hands. Way too much time to delve into all the things they have inappropriate access to. And the one thing I have learned about teenagers…we are raising our 4th one.. is you CANNOT trust them until they prove you wrong. Now I know a lot of you will disagree with me…and that’s ok….it’s what I have discovered the hard way. Do NOT blindly trust a teenager. They are wired to make stupid choices and they need us to control the environments they are put in. It is not wise to just let them go and do whatever and say, I trust my child to do the right thing, this world is honestly pushing them and pumping stuff in their brains every day to NOT do the right thing. BECAUSE… NOW the WRONG things are idolized as the RIGHT things and they are more and more tempted to follow suit. I consider raising kids as a battle….survival of the fittest. As I stated in my introduction it has become harder and harder to discipline and stand up for the rules you want your kids to follow. I feel the majority of parents have just given up. They are tired and overworked and just don’t have the energy to deal with it. It’s a sad state of affairs that parents can’t parent because they have to work and work way too much and there is usually not a parent home to keep a watchful eye. fb_img_1456083434628-1****My beautiful young Grandma ready to start her life as a Wife and Mother… would love to go back to that time and hear what she’s thinking 🙂

Then there is the new definition of a Mom. Don’t kid yourself…it has definitely been redefined. Think about when you were a kid…didn’t Grandmas LOOK like Grandmas???? My Grandma looked the same for 30 years and she was beautiful. She never felt the need to get plastic surgery or a facelift or a gym membership or to wear a bikini until she was 65! She was the most energetic, hard working woman who was fit and healthy and did it by helping others, gardening, walking, and keeping her house and yard in order. That sounds like a list of all the things we now don’t have time for. Mmmmmmmm??????? That sure makes ya think doesn’t it? There is such a debilitating pressure on women to stay the same after they have kids. Keep the same body, the same social life, the same hobbies, AND to work a demanding job, keep your mate happy, wear the latest fashion, keep your house clean and decorated, and don’t forget to log it all on social media…..ya know, portray that image that its all perfect and you have it ALL under control, and ooooooo yeah…BE A MOM. Do you see the difference from then to now? Another example of how change didn’t make things better. When things get overwhelming SOMETHING has to give and when you dissect this situation what do YOU think has suffered from it? Our youth….and I don’t see how you can deny it. IMG_20180703_114334217

As Mother’s we have a role. It’s different than a Father’s but they are both very important. God made us the nurturers and men the providers. I know how basic and barbaric that sounds but that’s how it all began. Why do you think Mom is always the first one to hear the baby cry in the middle of the night? We were wired that way. Men’s brains were wired to sleep to rest to prepare for the next work day we are the opposite. We wake up because we were made to nurture the children. Again, sounds crazy and not the way of today but I think an interesting fact. img_20150405_122515947_hdr

So with all this pressure to be a modern day woman/Mother most are just exhausted trying to keep up with it. Because remember???? We CAN have it ALL!! I don’t agree. And trust me I know a lot of you do and would love to show me proof but this is what I have not only experienced but seen first hand. I have a pretty firm philosophy to back my opinion. This, and how our newly defined roles as parents are affecting our children, our society, our family life and especially the state of our schools I will leave for Part 2.

Thank you for reading 🙂

Until next time,

Created with love by:

Char Head 🙂

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How My Heart Breaks a Little Every Day for Today’s Youth… Introduction…..

IMG_1027 (2)Introduction:

“Mom! You are the weirdest Mom and you are making me look WEIRD! Everyone thinks you are crazy and I’m like a freeeakuuhhhh!” (All teenage words end in an “UHHHH”)

Words I hear basically on a daily basis…doesn’t phase me. This is the lovely reaction I normally get from our youngest daughter about our family rules she has to follow. I really think MOST of the time she gets it and accepts it but there are those moments when our rules get in the way of something “everyone else is doing” and she “hates her life”. The one thing I think she has learned is that I rarely budge and when I say it.. I mean it. I am very consistent. I think kids count on that even if they don’t like it….and I don’t think they realize it but they really do. I believe discipline and consistency IS love. When you show your kids you care enough about them to stick to it even when it would be a WHOLE lot easier to let them have their way they feel loved and protected.

Now as I continue to write I just know there will be parents out there who will disagree with my opinions on parenting and my outlook on today’s youth. But this is my OPINION and I feel compelled to share it. With all I see and experience everyday I can’t rest until I at least try to make a change…even if it’s just a small one.

With most families now having 2 parents working out of the home or being raised by a single parent the way children are parented has for the most part drastically changed. I believe that  we have crossed over into a whole new way of parenting forced by today’s society and the crazy busy lives we lead. A life of an overbearing social media that in my opinion is really the one raising our kids…not us. A life of fast pace, never stopping, never taking a breath, never taking just a moment to see even the most simplest of things. A life that saddens me to my core. And trust me, I am just as guilty of it. IMG_20180126_113703153 (1)

I am old enough to have lived on both sides. I lived my childhood with no technology….well we had tv’s and home phones and eventually came video games but that’s it. My mind was on ACTIVITY, CREATIVITY, and INTERACTING with people on a face to face personal level. I don’t have neck or back or eye problems from staring down at a phone screen for 12-18 hours a day. I had skinned knees, bruises and a sunburn all summer, every summer. And my Mom never had to worry about me or say “Gosh go get on your iPad or something.” I was gone all day every day PLAYING OUTSIDE and RIDING my bike. You RARELY saw a kid that was overweight because we never stopped. I would love to know how many calories we burned in a day. The scary part is we never wore sunscreen and didn’t even wear seatbelts until later in my childhood. When we were born there was no such thing as a car seat your Mom just held you in the front seat on the way home. Good Lord…

There is so much on this subject that weighs heavy on my heart that I have decided to start a series so I can take the time to touch on many things I feel so strongly about and then you can form your own opinions.

Some may say that I have an issue with embracing change. I don’t think so. I like change, but I don’t like it being at the expense of something else. Change should make things better. I am seeing such a negative downfall in our youth in so many ways and I think most of it has been brought on by change. Things CAN change, of course, that’s what makes the world go ’round but let’s take a look at who or what it is destroying or is paying the cost.

My opinions have nothing to do with a religion, race, who you love, who you support or who you vote for…It’s all about our future generation and what WE can do to help them.

If we don’t start opening our eyes and seeing…REALLY seeing you may not be able to reel them back in. Every generation had certain challenges with their youth. It’s been going on since the beginning of time. Youth will be youth and they will forever be our hardest most rewarding achievement. But we have lost sight of how to do it and have been blinded by today’s world sucking us in to it’s social media fast paced agenda. And I will tell you that my life experience on this subject spans over nearly 31 years of child rearing (my kids were pretty spaced apart) and I have seen first hand all these many changes and what it has affected. There were no cell phones when I started having kids and even when they manifested on to our daily lives they were just phones you could TALK on and were HUGE lol!! So it was basically a home phone you could take everywhere…nothing like what they have become today.

Do me a favor…take a day to notice, really pay attention to how much you, your kids and the people in your life are on their phones. We have become so immune to it that I don’t think anyone really sees HOW MANY HOURS we spend scrolling and not engaging in LIFE. I have a feeling you will be shocked. IMG_20151003_195316338 (1)***This is MY goofy kids on THEIR phones laughing about snap chat filters 😉

We moved to Tennessee as most of you know for almost 3 years and after we moved there I decided it was time for me to get on social media to be able to connect more freely with everyone at home. It definitely provided a forum for us to stay close all day every day in a way you could have never done in MY childhood. THAT is an example of change doing good. Facetime??? Just the most amazing thing when you live far away from the people you love. Again, technology that has a wonderful place. Look how amazing it has been with the military and their families. Our precious men serving have been able to experience their children being born….just incredible.

I personally do not think we have done enough to control all the bad in social media. Look at all the recent incidents with Facebook and all the hacking going on. Our PRIVACY????? It makes me ill to think that you will see the disappearance of this in our lifetime. And I promise you, you won’t appreciate privacy until its gone.

Privacy, social media, respect, discipline, schools, sports, deciding to have kids and values, are some of the many subjects concerning our precious youth I will be writing about in upcoming chapters. baseball

I hope you will keep an open mind and maybe begin to see what I see. We are so blessed to know there are still many wonderful young people out there doing good and being lead with love, discipline and guidance. I think it is our job to get the rest down the right path and we can surely do that if we open our eyes and see, really see what they are silently crying out for. And guess what? It’s pretty easy. We just need to take the time to SEE it and DO it….because let’s face it they ARE WORTH IT 🙂

Written with love by:

Char Head 🙂

Creations_by_CharIMG_1027 (2)

 

Low Sodium Chicken Stock

IMG_20170506_110029 (2017_09_11 13_04_50 UTC) (2017_10_05 19_06_50 UTC)After my husband’s health issues, as many of you know, I decided to change our lifestyle and educate myself in heart health and label reading. It is ASTONISHING what is in our foods. Especially the HIGH amounts of sodium (please refer to the Sodium Epidemic article on my blog).  I set out to create recipes low in sodium but high in flavor. I am a HUGE fan of chicken soup and wanted to continue to make it for my family but with a healthy version. I feel there is nothing more therapeutic than a day of stock and soup making…just makes me happy and the house smells amazing!!! So here is the beginning of your soup making day and I will also include my soup recipe in another post.  Enjoy 🙂

You will need:

  • large stockpot
  • 1-1/2 -2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • (Wash vegetables thoroughly and cut into large pieces, like 3rds or quarters include scraps and tops and bottoms)
  • 2-3 parsnips
  • 2-3 large carrots
  • whole celery base and tops (save stalks for soup)
  • 2 large yellow onions quartered leave skins on
  • 1 or 2 whole unpeeled heads of garlic cut in half (use 2 if you like more garlic flavor)
  • 2 tsp whole peppercorns
  • (herbs…sometimes I use fresh sometimes I don’t, depends on what I have on hand. I’ve included measurements for dried herbs but if you have fresh feel free to substitute :))
  • 1-1/2 tsp basil
  • 1-1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1-1/2 tsp rosemary
  • 3 TBS unsalted butter
  • 1/4 c olive oil IMG_20180123_170840_786

Put all ingredients in stock pot and cover in water (wash hands thoroughly after handling chicken) Put on high heat until it comes to a boil then drop to low heat and let simmer for at least 2 hours (you can let it simmer for up to 4 hours)…checking periodically to avoid boil overs. You can gently stir once an hour if you’d like. IMG_20180113_130640429_HDR

Remove from heat and let cool for 30 min. With a large slotted spoon remove veggies and chicken from the pot and set aside. Run the remaining stock thru a strainer with a paper towel lining the bottom into another large pot. I save the chicken pieces to use for my soup (discard the rest)… shred chicken into smaller pieces and put to the side. If you aren’t going right into soup making refrigerate or freeze the stock and the chicken.

Also, you may add 2 quarter pieces of lemon to the pot while cooking if you like a little zingy tang of lemon with your chicken soup/stock.

You can put stock into containers and freeze for future use. It freezes well.

Created with love by:

Creations_by_Char

Char Head 🙂 IMG_20170506_110029 (2017_09_11 13_04_50 UTC) (2017_10_05 19_06_50 UTC)

 

Pomegranate Apple Crisp

IMG_20180102_111347_852This is a really different apple crisp recipe but I love it! You get a little crunch and zing from the pomegranate seeds along with the rich sweetness of the apples and crisp topping. I am always pushed into the mood to make apple pie or crisp when I have those extra apples left in the produce drawer that no one wants to bother eating because they aren’t perfect. 😦  So, I tend to make apple recipes with a mix of different types of apples on their last leg and it hasn’t failed me yet! I REALLY hate wasting food, so sometimes I create great recipes because of it….win-win! 🙂

You will need:

  • 8 cups of peeled, cored and sliced apples (any kind you prefer)
  • 1 cup of pomegranate seeds (save a little for garnish)
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1-1/2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup uncooked oats
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1-1/2 tsp of nutmeg or a cinnamon nutmeg spice blend
  • 1-1/2 sticks salted butter softened (can also use unsalted butter or a mix of)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees…

Grease a 13×9 baking dish then add apples. Drizzle lemon juice over the apples and stir to coat. Add approx 3/4 cup of the pomegranate seeds (put the rest to the side for serving) and stir again.

In a large mixing bowl mix remaining ingredients until well blended (a pastry blender works well if you have one)

Sprinkle mix evenly over apples and bake approx. 1 hour or until crisp is golden and bubbly and apples are tender. IMG_20180101_134546643.jpg

Let cool at least 15 min. Serve warm with ice cream, whipped topping or a topping you prefer and sprinkle with remaining pomegranate seeds. Refrigerate leftovers.IMG_20180101_145723861IMG_20180102_111347_852

Created with love by:

Creations_by_Char

Char Head 🙂

Enjoy!!!