Bucket Grilling on the Beach

We purchased a bucket grill at World Market about a month ago.  It was on sale, and Parish had the forethought of our beach vacation.  He said, “I want to grill on the beach!”



Everything was skewered to make it easier to cook.  The best skewers for shrimp, which we also found at World Market, are the ones with the little tabs at the end.  They are bamboo, square, and flat.  You can flip shrimp over without them turning around on the stick.  We used the regular bamboo skewers for the scallops and the beef satay.

Scallops wrapped in zucchini

Use frozen scallops and thaw them out by leaving them in fridge over night.

Use a potato peeler, or peeling knife, to cut thin slices of the zucchini.

Wrap the zucchini around the scallops and place on skewer to secure.

Drizzle with olive oil and your favorite seafood seasoning.  The olive oil helps in the grilling process.  It helps it not to stick or char on the grill too quick.  It also keeps vegetables from drying out.

Zucchini is a nice alternative to bacon.  We were grilling on the beach and wanted something that would cook quickly. 

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Thaw the raw, frozen, jumbo, easy peel shrimp by filling up the bag with cold water just before you need them.  It takes about 10 minutes, and you may need to replace the water once.  

Brush with olive oil and your favorite seafood seasoning. Lemon and Old Bay are always good!

Place the shrimp on the skewer. Here is what they look like on the grill: 


Fully Cooked Shrimp (more of an orange color and opaque)


Raw Shrimp–Just put on the grill (has a greyish color)

Beef Satay

We purchased stir fry beef that was already cut.  You can also purchase a sirloin or small London broil and slice thin.

Again, we placed beef on a regular bamboo skewer.

We did not put olive oil on the beef.  It was good all by itself or with salt and pepper, or your favorite marinade ahead of time.  

Steven Raichlen likes to marinade his beef with Asian spices–lemongrass, garlic, peppers, cilantro, brown sugar, soy sauce, and lime juice.  Check out his recipe on pages 78-81 in his book How To Grill.

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Grilling it up

Because of the wind,  we dug a hole/pit to place grill in.

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We also used aluminum foil as an improvised cover.  The bucket grill is more hibachi style.



We used the Kingsford barbecue bag.  It’s about 3 lbs of charcoal, and the idea is that you light the bag. However, we wanted to eliminate paper shards floating in the breeze, so we dumped the charcoal out of the bag. It lit just fine!



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We cooked the scallop skewers first.  This took about 10 minutes.  They are ready when the scallops look opaque throughout.  Rotate or flip them once during the process.


Shrimp was next!  Shrimp is ready in about 8 minutes. 3 – 4 minutes per side.


Beef was cooked last.  This took about 8 minutes. Turn beef over once during the cooking process. When you put the foil over the food this helps speed the process up.


A handy assistant is helpful!


We finished our night with dessert–S’mores of course!


A fun evening was had by all!  Even Bradley tried the beef!


Although it took a lot of passion on my husband’s part, we appreciate his love for cooking, grilling, and most of all his love for us!  He enjoys creating memories and traditions.

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Sunrise Cheese Grits With Shrimp

We were in Old Town Petersburg for dinner when we first had cheese grits with shrimp.  The restaurant was recommended by friends of ours–Wabi Sabi. (click on name to go to restaurant link)

My wonderful husband and personal chef has embraced the art of making cheese grits and shrimp!  While we were away on vacation we decided to make this savory dish for breakfast and watch the sunrise.  It’s perfect as a side dish or a one dish meal for anytime of the day.  Our middle child argued that you can’t mix breakfast (grits) with dinner (shrimp), but to us that’s what makes it available for any meal of the day.

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We purchased Quaker 5 minute Grits.  Follow the directions on the back of the bag for “smooth and creamy” grits.


Our Quaker bag had a recipe for cheese and grits; however, we have our own recipe.

When making the grits, the secret ingredient is chicken broth. So, use that instead of water.  My husband typically uses chicken bullion cubes to make broth. The grits directions call for salt when boiling; however, if you use chicken broth that usually has sufficient salt in it.  After the grits are done, add the amount of cheese that you enjoy and for the two servings 2 tablespoons of butter.  He does not measure–he just throws in a couple of handfuls.  For two servings he typically uses 3/4 to one cup of shredded cheddar cheese.  We also add a little bit of garlic.  You can use your favorite cheese and other spices like Old Bay.


Making the shrimp….

For two servings we use about 15 shrimp.  We typically get the shrimp that is raw but frozen and in the shell.  He likes easy peel shrimp.  Jumbo is best.

Before you cook the shrimp, peel off the shell but leave the tail on. (this is visually appealing)

You can boil, grill, or saute the shrimp.  This time we sauteed.  This morning, he used the bacon grease to saute and added garlic salt and Old Bay to taste.  Another yummy way to do them is to use olive oil, lemon juice, and Old Bay.

You saute until it turns opaque–you do not want any of the grey, uncooked portions to remain.  But…shrimp only takes a few minutes and you don’t want to overcook it.

Putting it all together….

Put your grits in a bowl and sprinkle Old Bay or paprika on top.  Fan your shrimp in a circle on the grits for a nice visual display.

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The nice thing about having the tails on the shrimp is that the eating experience becomes a little more interactive, honoring the Quaker motto:

 “Breakfast is a time-honored tradition–so don’t forget the grits!”


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This Time…

Leah and Rachel lived unusual lives as sisters. Their story is found beginning in Genesis chapter 29.  Leah was the oldest but was not loved by Jacob.  Jacob was deceived by his father-in-law and Leah was the tool.  Leah’s younger sister Rachel was described as beautiful and desired most of all by Jacob.

Most of us would have more sympathy for Leah; yet, Rachel nor Leah, chose their path.  A friend of mine, Sarah, shared this revelation that was taught in a retreat from Healing, Love, and Forgiveness Ministries. In spite of all the deception, rejection, anger, and jealousy that abounds in this story–God’s plan remained. God is never taken by surprised, or throws his hands up in defeat and walks away.  No matter how human we act, He never leaves or abandons us or His plans.

Later, I continued my research on the two sisters only to find confirmation on the things Sarah was sharing with me.

When the Lord saw that Leah was not loved, he enabled her to conceive, but Rachel remained childless. Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben,for she said, “It is because the Lord has seen my misery. Surely my husband will love me now.” Genesis 29: 31-32

Leah’s Sons

Reuben, meaning “see a son”

Simeon, meaning “hearing”

Levi, meaning “joined

Judah, meaning “let Him be praise, I will praise the Lord

Commentaries shared that Leah’s desperate need to be loved and to belong was seen in the names of her children. Look at me, hear me, I’m attached or joined to you (“Now my husband will love me”), and finally through the gift of Judah, she turns her focus away from Jacob’s acceptance to praising God.

She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “This time I will praise the Lord.” So she named him Judah. Then she stopped having children. Genesis 29: 35


We know that Levi was the ancestor of the Levitical priests, and Judah was the tribe of King David, and eventually of the Messiah.

The story of Leah and Rachel continues.  Lingering here is good.

God created us with the need to attach or belong.  Psychologists have studied attachment and proven what God created–the basic human need to be loved and accepted.

Brene’ Brown has given the social work field an amazing gift from her research of people who live wholehearted lives. Part of wholehearted living is connection, love, and belonging.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs reminds us that after our physical needs are met, love and belonging are needed to be creative, self-sufficient, authentic, playful, and live a life of meaning.

So, Leah….

Ever felt like her? Passed over, not heard, rejected, in comparison, not as beautiful or talented as someone you live with, work with, or go to school with?  Maybe we don’t live in Old Testament times, but I believe there are current life applications to be drawn from Leah’s struggle.

Recognizing that God has created us to connect and belong, where are you seeking this “attachment”? For Leah, the lineage of Christ came from a woman so desperate for connection that she finally turned her eyes to God–“I will praise Him”.

God knows that we are human and we will seek humans to fill this connection.  God’s design for marriage, parenting, friendships, and even random connections with strangers along your path were meant to be for us to build that sense of love and belonging–He created us to enjoy each other and support each other.

Humans are fickle and we are imperfect.  Like Leah there comes this insistence and shifting our eyes and soul to the One we must praise.  And, when we shift our focus here, Jesus is there waiting to restore and bring healing.  Is it your “This time” in a situation or years of behaviors/patterns of seeking acceptance from things that will never satisfy?

This time I will praise the Lord.  When you accepted Him as Savior, God’s gift of the Spirit connected you–“we live in him and He in us”.  It is there.  This time…

I John 4:13

And God has given us his Spirit as proof that we live in him and he in us.

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Grandma’s Garden: Sometimes When It Rains

I grew up with generations of women loving to plant and grow beautiful things.  My Grandmother, aunts, and my mom planted fruits, vegetables, and flowers to enjoy.  I remember staying at my aunt Shirley’s house and walking in her garden.  She would talk about all the different vegetables and how to plant them.  I also remember as a child helping in the garden at the old country house.

One of the greatest gifts we share in our home is planting and enjoying God’s beautiful handiwork.  Thank you, Grandma Louise, for your hands and heart that provide such enjoyment to our home.  This year I planted a pepper plant!   Maybe we can make a nice Mexican dish!

After viewing God’s glory through pictures, I encourage you to worship through the song/video “Sometimes When It Rains” by Secret Garden. 

Franklin and Monica & Phil–you’ll enjoy the video.  It has video pictures from the Western states of America.


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Sleep Disorders

A great way to obtain your continuing education points for re-certification of your LCSW is through NetCE.

Link below:


I recently took the online course for sleep disorders.  Sleep is vital to your well-being.  We’ve become a society in which sleep is seen as lazy and unproductive.  If you can boast of little sleep, you must be an amazing “doer”–getting it done. Sleep is one of the most vital processes of life.  Sleep preserves, restores, and supports healthy memory processing. Repeated disruption of your sleep can cause significant health issues and impact you physically, emotionally, and mentally.  There are 80 official sleep disorders.  I encourage you to sign up for the course, in which, Ms. Phillips, RN, BSN provides an in-depth study of the most common sleep disorders, prevention, and treatment.

God created sleep as a natural process–an active body process.  Our eyes take in the morning light–the sunrise– and our circadian rhythms begin our wake cycle.  As the sun sets, natural light fades, and as the darkness settles in, melatonin is naturally released in our bodies to help us sleep.

The sleep-wake cycle consists of approximately 8 hours of sleep and 16 hours of wakefulness in healthy adults and is controlled by two internal factors:  circadian rhythms and sleep homeostasis….Biological clocks located throughout the body manage circadian rhythms.

Adolescents need on average 9.5 hours of sleep.  Many of our insomnias are related to sleep hygiene problems. We, as humans, are causing our sleep problems through excessive use of artificial light from media, phones, and computers. The artificial light is depleting our melatonin hormone that helps to calm us for sleep.  Other concerns are overeating, alcohol, lack of exercise, taking long naps, less exposure to natural light, and bedrooms that are used for other activities such as watching television.

Try these simple things to improve your sleep:

Avoid large meals before bed.

Limit a nap to 30 minutes.

Seek out sunlight in the morning when you wake up.

Exercise for 20 minutes a day.

Use the bed for sleep.

Keep the bedroom to a cool, comfortable temperature and use blankets versus a heater.

Remove the television from your bedroom.

Limit exposure to media and phones before bedtime.

Keep bedroom dark, quiet, and free of clutter and “busy”.


The article recommended consulting with your doctor and further sleep disorder testing with specialists, if warranted. In some cases sleep disorders can include hypnagogic and hypnopompic experiences (HHEs)–hallucinations.  These hallucinations are described as a threatening presence, and you may feel pain or discomfort, for example, in your chest, breathing, or limbs.  You may have a full-blown, vivid hallucination and seemingly interactions with beings.

Other life-events such as loss, stress, and grief can impact our sleep.  And, in some cases, we can be so anxious about sleep, we fear sleeping, and a self-fulfilling prophecy of sleep deprivation occurs.  Again, consulting with your medical doctor, counseling, and changing some bad habits could truly make a difference.

Sleep is important.  God’s desire is for you to “fear not” and rest. He also gives us the tools and responsibility to take care of ourselves.

When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.  Proverbs 3:24

In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, LORD, make me dwell in safety.  Psalm 4:8

It is in vain that you rise up early
    and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
    for he gives to his beloved sleep.  Psalm 127:2




Compassion: An honest look at a commonly used word (life changing!)

Brene’ Brown is one of my favorite social workers.  I come back to her work from time to time to study professionally and personally.  Recently a friend sent me a link to her book The Gifts of Imperfection to download on Kindle.  So glad she remembered me!  I’m stuck on page 15 of my Kindle book.  Compassion.

We all grow up learning manners and the importance of being nice and kind.  If you grew up in the church, you were taught to serve others with the love of Christ.  One of my favorite examples of this kind of service is Mother Teresa of Calcutta.  What happens, though, when you find yourself imperfect in compassion?  Did you fail? Or, maybe, missed the lesson on how to persevere when you are depleted?  I’ve personally struggled on this roller coaster ride of “got this!” and “don’t got this!” for years.  What is the answer?

Let’s take a closer look at the origin of the word compassion.

The word compassion is derived from the Latin words pati and cum meaning “to suffer with.”  I don’t believe that compassion is our default response.  I think our first response to pain-ours or someone else’s -is to self-protect.  We protect ourselves by looking for someone or something to blame.  Or sometimes we shield ourselves by turning to judgment or by immediately going into fix-it mode.  Brene’ Brown

Brene’ goes on to share her research of other spiritual seekers that

In cultivating compassion we draw from the wholeness of our experience-our suffering, our empathy, as well as our cruelty and terror.  It has to be this way.  Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a relationship between equals.  Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others.  Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.

Compassion is not a call to perfection or putting yourself in the position of healer.  That’s God’s job.  He is perfect, and He is our healer.

What does that look like for you personally?  For me, it’s entering into the suffering of my spouse or children with my gifts of imperfection, but I’m there, doing the best I can in that moment.  It’s being willing to say, “I messed up–my “cruelty and terror” got the best of me, forgive me?”  It’s asking God to show you what to do and what to say.  It’s forgiving yourself when you mess up.  Like it or not, we are all capable of “cruelty and terror”.  It’s okay.  You are human.  Why is it so important to embrace this?  If we realize our humanity within compassion, perhaps we would “enter in” more often, and love ourselves more completely.  God calls you to love yourself in order to have the strength and passion to love others.  “…to love your neighbor as yourself.”

Letters from Mother Teresa surfaced after her death that showed this same struggle–

She wrote to her spiritual director, “My own soul remains in deep darkness and desolation.”

It’s what Christians call “the dark night of the soul”.  Compassion is not possible in its purist form until we accept the darkness and realize that it’s part of our journey.  In a profound and marvelous experience, the darkness draws us more to a Holy union with The Light–God himself.  No greater love was shown than Jesus in His darkest moment–the cross; yet, it was in this darkness that the greatest miracle happened–His resurrection and our eternal hope.

Hebrews 12:2

We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.

She said, “Yes!” to THE dress!

Before heading inside David’s Bridal, we stopped to say a prayer for the Holy Spirit to fall sweet on our experience, and that we would be reminded of the Bride of Christ–His love for us.  We prayed to put all distracting “to do” lists and attitudes away and enjoy the moment.

Before heading there, we needed some caffeine from Starbucks.  Grandma accidentally got the coffee with an extra shot of espresso!  She laughed and said, “I might just try on a dress today, too!”

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Before working with our consultant, we checked out the sale rack.  We pulled items we guessed would be “the one”.  Ashley was patient as we tried all of those on to show what does not work with Victoria’s personality, skin color, and venue–an outdoor wedding.  Of course, as mother-of-the-bride, I cried with each one, but when she came out in “maybe the one” we all started boo-hooing.  I wish I could show you pictures!  I’ve been told and told again–DON’T POST PICTURES!

Then something incredible happened.  A conversation and a leap of faith created the opportunity for the consultant, Ashley, to bring THE dress.  Oh My!  She put THE dress on and the “maybe” became a “no!”–at least for sweet Vivian.  She was convinced!  Perfect!  We all needed to see the “maybe” one more time.  Interestingly, the “maybe” was a popular style that truly shows off the figure; yet, Victoria–my Victorian Princess– was much more suited for……..well I just can’t say!  I can’t say or post!  But she looked like royalty–a daughter of the King!

All glorious is the princess within her chamber; her gown is interwoven with gold. Psalm 45:13

The seamstress, Hilda, came by, with the typical measuring tape around the neck, to make sure the right size was ordered, and to estimate the amount of alterations.  Victoria brought my wedding veil with her to make sure it would all match.  When Hilda saw the veil and Victoria in the dress, she started crying.  The veil being an older style–The Juliet–caught her eye, and she remembered her wedding day.

“That was my veil”, she cried! 

I gave her a warm, bear hug, and we all cried with her.  She said something that answered our prayers.  She noted that “she sees many brides, but there is something very special–very special, that touch…”  My soul smiled–“That touch, that special….is the lover of her soul–Jesus!”  The Holy Spirit surrounding this moment and not only blessing you, but blessing us.


Ashley giving Victoria a big hug and blessing!

There’s a tradition of ringing the bell once you say, “Yes!”  Before ringing the bell, Elizabeth, the manager ( I think), told Victoria to let this be the start of many happy days to come–LOVE LARGE!

During lunch we celebrated and toasted Victoria with ginger-ale in champagne glasses!  Parish shared that he, too, prays for many joyful days ahead.  Keep the joy of this day moving forward.  Grandmother blessed the parents by sharing that Anna and Parish have taught you how to be friends with your spouse and enjoy each other’s company–Be joyful and enJOY each other!  I thanked the Holy Spirit for making our time sweet and reminded Victoria of Jesus’ love in her–radiant!  Thank you Valentina and Vivian for supporting your sister and letting her know how beautiful she is–a Victorian princess!

If you want a great place to shop for a wedding dress, I highly recommend Ashley as a consultant at David’s Bridal.  She was incredibly patient, kind, and knowledgeable.  Sweet Hilda, was precious and so caring. I’m anticipating great work from her hands as a seamstress.  She made us feel like we were the only ones there, and her dress was in good hands.  We loved how people, like Elizabeth, would stop by and give comments and advice.  Make an appointment!  You don’t want to just show up.  And, if you can be there first thing when they open, you can beat the crowd.  Worth the early morning start and a Starbucks run!  Take grandma’s advice and get the espresso!

As I was writing this, sweet Lexi called me and read her letter from Victoria to her.  Sweet Lexi–your child-like voice and what was said….perfect timing to this day!  Love you Lex!


Wearing my pearl, heart necklace from my wedding.

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Nothing like Meatball Spaghetti to celebrate!