Puny’s Potato Salad

I can't believe how many emails I've gotten from people asking me to post the potato salad recipe I made for Sabrina's graduation party! So I've posted it to Four Seasons Cafe, for those who are interested… it is truly the best-tasting potato salad I've ever tasted, and it came from the book Jan Karon's Mitford Cookbook & Kitchen Reader. (If you don't already have this cookbook in your reportoire, you're missing out! It's so much fun, particularly if you're a Mitford fan like I am.)

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Cobbler!

I finally got around to dusting off the Four Seasons Cafe blog and posting a recipe. I've been in a crazy baking mood lately, and this time I chose Rhubarb Cobbler from Pioneer Woman. If you'd like to hear how it turned out, head on over! If not, then I guess I'll be et fer a tater.

(If you like Jan Karon's Mitford books, you're probably familiar with that last phrase, which has nothing to do with cobbler, but I wasn't sure how else to end that sentence.)

I'm in the mood for taters now.

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House-Sitting

One of the many reasons my girls love to visit my parents' house is bc they have the most beautiful yard, full of happy gardens, well-fed birds, and one joyous Golden Retriever.

I had the pleasure of house-sitting for my parents recently, and one of my duties included keeping my mother's flowers watered. (Usually she also writes "deadhead all 4 million petunias DAILY!" on my list of chores, but she forgot to write it this time, which made me feel like I'd won the lottery.)

On one early evening last week, I decided to take a stroll through the yard, and I brought my camera along. The sun was getting ready to go down, and there was a slight breeze that caused the windchime that hangs just outside the door to sway…

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I walked down the steps of the deck into the most beautiful, sunny yard…

Dandelions

I have no idea what variety of yellow flowers these are, but they were everywhere! No wonder the kids love to frolic when they're here!

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Oh, wait a second. I was pulling pictures from my back yard. Oopsies! hehehe?

Here are some from her yard, starting with a windowbox just behind the windchime…

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It's fun to look around and spot something unusual…

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Some of you have probably met Major, Friday's brother; he's such a sweet boy, full of sunshine and oh-so-high on life…

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I love these, even though they're spent. Something about their delicate look is just so charming to me…

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An urn, way out back…

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This little caterpillar has hung here so long, the bark of the tree grew around its hanger…

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Like I said, one never knows what unusual things one will spot…

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Was that your doing?

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This is another spent flower that looks beautiful to me… They were once daisies, but now they look like little pincushions on a stem…

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My favorite flowers…

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The only bad thing about getting down on the ground to take these pictures is it gets the attention of Major. If I'm not on my guard, I'll get this boy coming at me like a freight train and I'll end up in a full body cast…

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So far, I've made it up off the ground before he reaches me.

Here's a garden pick that is stuck in some rocks that surround a little fountain…

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Oh great. There is literally no hiding from this boy.

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Getupgetupgetupgetupget UP!!

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I breathe a sigh of relief that he was just overjoyed about getting a drink…

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The sun was getting lower, and I decided it was time to go back to my yellow gardens at home. It truly was enjoyable walking through my parents' yard – especially since there was no deadheading to do. 😉

But the next time I have to house-sit, I should probably wear a suit of armor… just in case.

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*Edited to add: After Joann's comment, I must tell you that I truly don't have dandelions in my yard – I was just kidding bc I knew Mom would insist they were mine! But they're not either of ours. (Hi, Joann!) 🙂 The first dandelion photo came from here, and the second one came from here.

Summer Trip (and a video)

Right after graduation, my sister whisked Sabrina off on a whirlwind summer vacation that included places like the Alamo, shopping, Sea World, shopping, beaches, Schlitterbahn, shopping, Six Flags, cupcake shops, and finally a little bit of shopping. I know there were other places in there as well, but I can't think of them all on only 3 cups of coffee.

Grind me some beans and cut me some slack, will ya?

Sabrina took all of her pictures on her cell phone, and I've grabbed a few to show you. I'm also sharing a video she took (on her new Flip camcorder) of Natalie trying to learn Bruno Mars' "Count On Me." It's such a sweet song, and the drama Natalie puts forth in her efforts to belt out the chorus is so funny! (Her eyebrows get me every time.)

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Here's the video…My sister tries to join in the fun in the end, but Natalie doesn't appreciate anyone stealing her face time with the camera. Btw, the video is a little long (2 1/2 minutes), but I couldn't figure out how to trim anything out of the middle…  Great job singing your numbers, Neenee!

 

Count On Me from Paulette Stewart on Vimeo.

Good News

I can't thank all of you enough who took the time to write in and leave comments about Sabrina's surgery. How nice it is to know that people are thinking about us and praying. Thank you!

It was a long day at the hospital, and Sophie was looking forward to getting up early and going with us; however, I do believe the wait got to be a bit too uneventful for her…

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Sabrina is recovering well, and we got the news yesterday that the growth in her throat was a benign polyp. Thank the Lord! We're loving the sound of her new voice, and even her friends are amazed at the difference. (Sabrina has sounded sick and stuffy for the past 1-2 years, so that we never got to hear what she was supposed to sound like.) And because the polyp was taking up so much of her airway, she had a difficult time breathing – especially at night.  She said she still can't get over how much air she gets now in just one small breath!

The things I take for granted.

Thank You, Lord, for knowing all along that my girl was just fine. I love You.

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School’s Out

This was Sophie's last year of elementary school, and she's extremely glad of it. It's time for sleeping in late, hot summer days spent at the pool, and best of all: she can now say she's a middle-schooler.

On the last day of school, the entire student body, faculty, and parents lined the hallways and entryway of the building for the "fifth-grade clap-out." During this celebration, the outgoing fifth-graders parade through the entire school while music plays over the loudspeakers and everyone claps and claps and claps, wishing them well and giving them high-fives as they pass.

Sophie was very excited to finally be one of the fifth-graders, and has looked forward to the clap-out all year. Here she is, coming out of the school for the last time as an elementary school student…

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"Sophie! Over here! Hi, sweet girl!!"

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Posing one last time with some friends…

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This was her teacher, whom she absolutely loved!

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After we left, I took her to her favorite eatery: Panera.

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Sophie ALWAYS orders the Sierra turkey sandwich with the broccoli cheddar soup, and I ALWAYS order the Fuji Apple Chicken Salad… (btw, if you want one of the best smoothies you'll ever have, order their mango smoothie! Heaven!)

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I cannot believe my little girl is a 6th-grader now. It doesn't seem possible! Then again, when I witness her tween attitude starting to show itself on those "hot summer days" I mentioned earlier, maybe it does…

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Happy Summer, my sweet middle-schooler!

P.S. Today is my mom's birthday! Happy Birthday, Mom! I love you soooooo much.

Surprise, Sabrina!

I'm a little late in getting this posted, but I wanted to share with you some pictures from Sabrina's surprise graduation party. I say "surprise" bc she didn't know we were going to make it into a celebration; she knew we were going to have a family barbeque, but she was unaware of the balloons and gifts she'd be receiving, which made it especially fun to pull off.

Sabrina chose not to have a traditional open house, instead opting for a small family gathering. Some of her peers were quick to point out that they thought this was a lousy idea, as an open house was a surefire way to get extra money for college. She reminded them that she wasn't from a large family (with lots of aunts and uncles), and didn't expect friends or neighbors to give monetary gifts… but it still bothered her that she may have made the wrong decision – if her peers were correct. After all, how was she supposed to pay for her textbooks? And what about parking permits and extra campus fees?

So we decided to make it as fun as possible for her, so she'd realize that she hadn't made a silly decision after all.

We started with my mom's famous orange punch… she gets quite a tongue-thrashing from family members if she tries to leave this off of any menu!

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A tray of buttermints representing UNL, where she'll be attending this fall…

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My dad helped with the decorating…

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Little Miss Natalie was fairly punch-drunk by the end of the night…

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This is the best potato salad ever. Ever, ever, ever. I can say that (even though I made it) bc I didn't make up the recipe. So that wouldn't really be bragging. 🙂

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Btw, we also had grilled chicken, pulled pork sandwiches, beans, and lots of other things…

Like cake. Ice cream cake, actually. And from the looks on these people's faces, you'd think it was a rare delicacy…

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Sabrina's sweet friend Kate came to the party…

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She brought Sabrina some very sweet gifts, like a new pair of painted shoes! (I don't have a picture of them, but they're wonderful!) And you've got to see this… look what else she created for Bean…

Kate's Gift

The photo on the left is one I took in Colorado, and Sabrina posted it to Facebook. Kate took that photo and sketched it onto a tote bag for Sabrina! Is that not the coolest thing ever? Kate, you are so talented!

Remember how Sabrina wasn't expecting any monetary gifts from anyone? Remember how I told you she doesn't have a large family? Well, unbeknownst to her, she suddenly had relatives coming out of the woodwork…

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…and each of them had gifted her with cash.

You see, Bre and I gathered as many old, unused cards (okay, so they were all Christmas cards) as we could find, and I made a visit to the bank. We then piled the cards and money in the middle of the table and started writing congratulatory messages out to Sabrina from the likes of "Cousin Beuford" and "Aunt Hildegarde." And let's not forget loveable "Uncle Jack and Uncle Rooney." And my personal favorite, "Your favorite step-dad, Fran." (Bre, what on earth was that about, may I ask?)

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Natalie was getting a little concerned that all of the dollar bills were for Sabrina, and not herself…

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…And then she became downright annoyed.

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So Sabrina gave her the job of money-holder…

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Needless to say, Sabrina was very happy to discover so many new and generous relatives, as now the stress of paying for textbooks and parking permits was fairly covered. There were even some non-relatives that sent her a lovely card: "Sabrina, we've watched you grow into an interesting-looking young lady. Congratulations, Dr. Spenky and Associates."

I thought it was cute when she later exclaimed, "I get presents? Are you serious?"

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Sophie got her a Pillow-Pet, which is something Bean had wanted for Christmas, but didn't get…

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And here's my favorite photo of the night: she got a new Flip! video recorder, which made her a very happy girl…

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(Btw, she also got that new Huskers tank from Victoria's Secret that she's wearing.)

It was such a fun night, and I'm so happy we were able to pull it off for Bean. Being the middle child, there isn't a whole lot that's just about her, so we wanted it to be wonderful. And speaking of wonderful, look what my sister and brother in-law gave to her:

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A trip to Texas, to visit all the places printed on that sheet of paper! (Aud and Shaun, I can't thank you enough.)

The rest of the night was spent finishing off the punch, playing Apples-to-Apples, and being our loud, boisterous selves.

Oh – and bubbles! Mom always has a ready supply of bubbles on hand for our family barbeques…

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And clearly, Natalie wasn't the only one punch-drunk.

Finishes!

I've been couch-ridden with the stomach flu these past 24 hours, but hopefully I'll be better by tomorrow… I'm taking Sabrina to Lincoln to enroll for the fall semester, and it's a full day's agenda for the incoming freshmen.

But before I crawl back over to the couch, I thought I'd share some finishes that some of you have sent to me recently. As always, I love seeing your creations, and I'm honored that you would take the time to share them with me.

From Joy in Texas

Mothers day finish front

Joy completed this for her mother.. I love the beading!

From Darlene, The Queen of All Things Adam and Eve…

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She turned HallowEden into a needlecase to give away as a door prize at one of her A&E lectures. How generous you are, Darlene!

I had three more images from Marion to share with you, but for some reason my blog won't load them. But take it from me – Marion is a very busy stitcher! She had finished Still Waters, HallowEden, and the To Thine Own Self Be True freebie – all beautifully framed. 🙂

Thank you again for taking the time to send me pictures of your finishes. They're always a pleasure to see!

Crawling back to my couch now…. wish me luck for tomorrow!

A Gnome in the Hand

Mike made a third and final trek to Kansas this past week to bring home the remainder of his parents' belongings. Among all of the boxes and totes crammed inside the Uhaul was a container full of lawn ornaments that I'd specifically stated he did not have to bring home.

However, Mike has never been one to throw anything away, and if he had his way, Hoarders would be asking him to sign on the dotted line so they could give him the 15 minutes of fame he longs for.

When Mike toted into the kitchen the box full of faded, chipped, and downright unsightly ornaments, he asked me where I'd like them put. I simply said, "The Good Will is fine," and he replied, "But don't you think they'd be pretty all sitting out in the yard?" I stared at him, and with a resigned "Okay," he walked back outside with the box.

We grilled out that evening, and while the steaks browned I sat on the wicker loveseat and looked around, marveling at how green and full everything had gotten with all the rain we've had lately.

And that's when I spied something odd among the spirea…

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Through squinted eyes, I took a closer look…

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You've got to be kidding me, I thought…

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MIKE STEWART!

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I shuddered.

I growled.

This was right up there with that time he took the Yorkie statue – also from his parents' house – and put it under my pillow with a note that said, "I love you, Paulette, and I'm so glad I came to live with you."

I took a few deep breaths in an attempt to calm myself, when I was faced with yet another shock:

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All I could do was stand there and stare, mouth agape.

What would you do? Pray tell, what do you DO with a man such as this?

And why does a scene like the following not surprise me?

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(Did I mention downright unsightly?)

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High School Sweethearts

Just last week, Sabrina said to me, "Mom? I'm really bummed. There's only a week left of school, and I never had a sweetheart. Which means I can never say, 'I married my high school sweetheart.'" I didn't feel the need to remind her that there were plenty of sweethearts begging to be hers, but she poo-poo'ed every one.

Can I say poo-poo on a blog?

Alex and Brooke were high school sweethearts. (They both went to the same school as Bre, where Brooke and Breanna were cheerleaders.) (Brooke tried out for American Idol once, too. I'll never forget during one of Bre's slumber parties, all the girls wanted Brooke to sing for them. Brooke was embarrassed, so she made them all turn their backs to her while they sat in our hallway, and she sang a country song for them. The girls loved it, and it was such a cute thing for me to see… although Brooke had no idea I had spied them.)

It was such an honor to be asked to photograph Brooke and Alex's wedding a few weeks ago. I snagged my Canon-sister Jaime to help me, and together we shot about 3,000 pictures in 13 hours. I realize this isn't a photography blog, but if you could please bear with me, I'd love to share some of my favorites from the day!

I love this shot… Brooke wasn't planning on wearing jewelry during her wedding, as she loves simplicity. Her mother won the argument, but couldn't get the necklace to clasp. Brooke's dad stepped in, and I just loved the way his hands looked, so gentle and fatherly. Once the necklace was in place, Brooke looked at her reflection in the mirror and smiled. "I like it!" she said. (Mothers know best.)

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Her oldest sister, Breezy, was her maid of honor, and did a wonderful job of helping her get ready…

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Meanwhile, Jaime was photographing the groomsmen, and doing a fine job of it. The challenge with men is that they don't give doodly (an expression my mother uses frequently) about looking handsome; they want to look cool.. like they couldn't care less if their picture was being taken or not. (Bravo, Jaime! They look handsome and cool!)

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(Btw, it was a very cold and windy day!)

Back in the bridal dressing room…

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(The next one is truly what Brooke looks like most of the time…what a sweet young woman she is!)

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The ringbearers, courtesy of Jaime…

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We had to shoot the groomsmen separate from the bridal party, as Brooke and Alex didn't want to see each other until she walked the aisle…

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I love this shot of Alex… he was finally getting to see Brooke, and he looked so emotional…

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Brooke and her dad…

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Jaime had a lovely angle, as she was standing behind the pulpit, off to the side in a changing room…

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The next photos were taken just after Brooke and Alex had walked back down the aisle and turned the corner, out of everyone's line of sight. The sun was shining brightly through an open door, and I felt quite lucky that I was standing close enough to them to sneak these…

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This next one is my very favorite shot of the day! Jaime was standing outside, waiting for them to exit the church…

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After the ceremony, we took a few of the bride and groom outside – but were forced to stop early bc it had started to rain…

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The first dance…

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…and then the father-daughter dance. I could barely keep the tears back to take these pictures.

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Bre was third-shooting the reception with us…

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Congratulations, Mr. and Mrs. McKamy!

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You may now say, "I married my high school sweetheart." 🙂

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May the Lord bless you both.