Mrs. Kennedy and Me {Book Review}

Recently, I have a new fascination with Jackie Kennedy Onassis. I knew very little about the Kennedy administration and that time period in general. Someone I know said that they would love to sit down and have a conversation with Jackie Kennedy. As I thought about what she lived through, my fascination grew.

I bought a book written by her Secret Service agent, Clint Hill. The book is entitled Mrs. Kennedy and Me. I began reading the book not knowing much about the Kennedy family in general and finished the book even more intrigued by their lives. She was the epitome of class and strength in the face of so much. Clint Hill obviously saw Mrs. Kennedy in the best and worst situations, and he was also constantly impressed with the way she handled things.

There were so many stories in the book that I absolutely loved.  One of my favorites was the story of how she so charmed the French writer, Andre Malraux, that he would offer to bring the Mona Lisa to the United States. This exhibition would be the first time that the painting left France.  She was so excited for people who were not in the position to travel all the way to France to have the opportunity to view this incredible work of art.  The History Channel tells the historical story of the Mona Lisa’s trip to the United States.

There are so many great stories in the book. If anyone has even the slightest interest in Jackie Kennedy this is a great book to find out more about the former First Lady. Not only am I completely intrigued by Jackie Kennedy now, I am also fascinated with Clint Hill and the other Secret Service agents of the time. Since finishing Mrs. Kennedy and Me, I have finished a book about all the Kennedy wives and am currently reading one about the agents who were present that fateful day in November when the whole world was turned upside down.

Goodreads says:

The #1 New York Times bestselling memoir by Clint Hill that Kirkus Reviews called “clear and honest prose free from salaciousness and gossip,” Jackie Kennedy’s personal Secret Service agent details his very close relationship with the First Lady during the four years leading up to and following President John F. Kennedy’s tragic assassination.

In those four years, Hill was by Mrs. Kennedy’s side for some of the happiest moments as well as the darkest. He was there for the birth of John, Jr. on November 25, 1960, as well as for the birth and sudden death of Patrick Bouvier Kennedy on August 8, 1963. Three and a half months later, the unthinkable happened.

Forty-seven years after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the one vivid image that never leaves Clint Hill’s mind is that of President Kennedy’s head lying on Mrs. Kennedy’s lap in the back seat of the limousine, his eyes fixed, blood splattered all over the back of the car, Mrs. Kennedy, and Hill as well. Sprawled on the trunk of the car as it sped away from Dealey Plaza, Hill clung to the sides of the car, his feet wedged in so his body was as high as possible.

Clint Hill jumped on the car too late to save the president, but all he knew after that first shot was that if more shots were coming, the bullets had to hit him instead of the First Lady.

Mrs. Kennedy’s strength, class, and dignity over those tragic four days in November 1963 held the country together.

This is the story, told for the first time, of the man who perhaps held her together.

I highly recommend Mrs. Kennedy and Me.

My Dad: The Biggest Feminist I Know

My father was raised for a large part of his life by his mother and aunt because his father passed away when he was a child. He then went on to marry and have my sister and me. My sister and I have EIGHT girls (and my little boy) between us. I’ve often thought that these are the reasons that he is such a big feminist. My father never tolerates sexist comments from anyone. He never puts limitations on any of us due to our gender. He has high expectations for us. He believes in our strengths and abilities. He also sees the beauty of our femininity. He expects that we are treated with respect and equality.

He becomes furious when he reads or hears about attacks on women. His heart breaks for women in other countries who are treated as second-class citizens and denied education and basic human rights due only to the fact they are women.  He often shares inspiring stories of women who have overcome tragedy, hardship, or sexism.  I have always appreciated the fact that he sees and treats women with such respect.

When my college-age daughter begins to talk about feminism as her peers see it, I hear her speak of a version of feminism that I do not recognize. The feminism she describes tends to look at men as the enemy.  It seems to suggest that the worst of men is what is typical. It also seems to strip women of their feminine qualities, as if they are the reason men cannot treat us equally.  This version of feminism is a twisted form that vaguely resembles true feminism.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines feminism as: “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes”

What my father shows us through his words and actions is true feminism. I hope that my husband and son will follow his lead as some of the biggest feminists I know.

 

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photo credit: Joseph M. Arseneau

 

 

 

Meal Train

Here down South we love to bring food to anyone we think may need a meal. Being ill, having surgery, having a loved one pass away, and definitely childbirth all warrant being brought someone’s signature dish for each occasion. One thing that makes this complicated is knowing what they like and dislike, and if someone else is bringing a meal as well. Meal Train is an amazing FREE website that allows people to see who’s bringing what and when. Personal preferences are also included. For a small fee, childcare, shopping, and cleaning coordination can also be added. It makes it all a little easier for everyone. If you know someone who needs meals and you want to coordinate it, this is the way to go. It takes minutes and you can easily share the link to the particular meal train through Facebook, twitter, and email.

Five Daughters Bakery {Nashville}

Recently, we had a Nashville-themed birthday party for my eldest, and since she’s not much of a cake fan, we always look for a different dessert for her birthday. Five Daughter’s Bakery is in Nashville (and a couple of other locations as well) and has rave reviews. I asked people if it was really worth the hype and the price (at around $4.50 a doughnut). EVERY PERSON I asked said it was totally worth both! My sister is one of the most generous and helpful people who you could ever meet. She lives in Nashville and was so sweet to offer to run all over God’s creation collecting things we needed for this party. She went on Saturday morning before the party and got three dozen doughnuts. We got a variety. Since they are huge, we split most into three and everyone got to have a sampling of Five Daughters.  My favorite was the simple cinnamon sugar doughnut. I also really like the vanilla filled doughnut. Now, I can confidently say that they are indeed worth the hype and the price. If you’re ever in Nashville, stop by Five Daughters Bakery and get a doughnut or two. You’ll thank me later!

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Kandinsky {school stuff}

Although I grew up without an art museum anywhere close to where I lived, I have loved art for as long as I can remember. I know that many people who are artistically talented come to love art as they learn more about technique and artistic development. I am seriously lacking in the artistically talented department, but I still love to learn about all things related to art. My children also love learning about great artists. One of my goals for my children is that they will be able to see a piece of art and recognize the artist by the style and details.

In our homeschool, we are learning about Wassily Kandinsky. My favorite fact about him is that he had synesthesia. He could literally hear colors and see music. Kandinsky is considered to be one of the earliest abstract artists.

I thoroughly enjoy teaching about the great artists throughout history. I may not be the most knowledgeable or educated art teacher, but I am passionate.

Here are a few of the things we’ve done in the artist style.

IMG_1523IMG_1524IMG_1525IMG_1536The circles are just plastic cups that the children colored on with Sharpies. We then melted them in the oven. It actually took much longer than I expected and some force to get them to melt.

The other circle picture was done with catalogs. She cut out circles and layered them in top of each other to get that abstract look.

They also drew and painted pictures while listening to music several times.

We are moving on to a different artist next week. I have so enjoyed studying (once again) Kandinsky and his work.

Noodle-less Lasagna {Low Carb}

My girls love all things pasta. Since my husband and I don’t eat pasta, I usually just leave it out of our dishes and serve it on the side.  It’s a little more difficult to do with lasagna, but I still do.

Here’s how I do it:

2 lbs. sausage (any kind you like), cooked and drained

1 large container (usually 16 oz.) ricotta cheese

2 cups mozzarella

2 cups parmesan cheese

1 package of  provolone cheese slices

2 jars of Rao’s spaghetti sauce (many other sauces have LOTS of sugar. You must read the labels)

Mix the meat with the spaghetti sauce. In a lasagna pan, layer a meat layer then a ricotta/parmesan layer, then slices of provolone. Continue layering. On the last layer, put the mozzarella cheese on top. Bake at 350 degrees until bubbly.

(The provolone is a little thicker and doesn’t melt away like the shredded cheeses.)

Enjoy.

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My Favorite Purchase Ever (At Least So Far)

Last summer, I purchased my ALL-TIME FAVORITE antique ever!! My eldest daughter went wandering around on her own and stumbled upon a 5 year diary. This was a rare find because each day (literally) for almost five full years was filled in. The diary belonged to a Texas teenager. She was sassy and funny. She wrote about days of playing cards with her mother and sister. She also wrote about days in church with the guys from Texas A&M (according to her: they weren’t much to talk about). She also chronicled her love for one boy in particular. We sat around the kitchen table after we brought it home and read all the way through the many entries. There were many laughs and even a couple of tears. After we finished reading, I googled her and her family. She sadly had passed away a couple of decades before. Her family is still in Texas. I wonder how in the world her diary made its way all the way to our home state. I wonder if her family knew about the diary she wrote back in her teen years.  I struggle with the idea that I should contact them and let them know of its existence. I treasure it so very much! It’s a reminder of simpler times. It’s also a reminder that feelings never really change. We all feel happiness, sadness, joy, worry, hope, fear, love, and jealousy. It’s those things that I hold close to my heart when I revisit the pages of the daily writings of a Texan teenager in the 50s.

Pirate Party and a recipe

Since we always have so many games and trivia during our parties, we always have a prize box of some sort. This time I got a styrofoam cooler for about $2.50 at Target. We spray painted it black and it served as the cutest treasure chest!

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I used pineapples to decorate around the house as well. Most of the decorations were from Target and Oriental Trading.

We played a throw a ring around the hook. It was a fun little game, but I actually think the adults enjoyed it more. We bought the hooks from Oriental Trading and hot glued them on to a piece of cardboard box. The rings were glow necklaces from Dollar Tree.

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As our guests arrived, they were asked to get a pirate name. I had two cups with silly names. One cup was the first name and the second was the last. They then had to wear a name tag with their pirate names on it.  It was fun to see the funny  combinations.

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We played a cannonball game that was the hit of the party. I had my parents bring all their newspapers that they’d normally recycle. The teams were to make balls out of it and throw them to the other side. After 5 minutes we counted who had the most and that team won. Both teams cheated by not making them into balls but it was so fun no one really got too upset about it.

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I made a new dish for the vegetarians. It was a black-eyed pea dip. I made it very spicy, but it was so delicious!

Black-eyed Pea Dip:

one can drained black-eyed peas

1 small can diced jalapeños

1/2 cup salsa

1/4 cup sour cream

2 Tbl. Hot sauce

1 cup hot pepper cheese

1 to 2 cups cheddar cheese (for topping)

Put ingredients in a blender and blend until just incorporated. You don’t want it too smooth. Pour into a greased baking dish. Put reserved cheese on top. Bake at 350 degrees until bubbly.  I served it with chips, but ate it plain. It was very spicy but so good! We named it Blackbeard’s dip for the party.

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Overall, this was one fun party!

Pirate Party

We had so much fun at our little guy’s birthday party.

IMG_0724One of the games had four teams with two buckets and sponges. The bucket at the top was full of water and the goal was to fill the bucket at the bottom with water first using only a sponge.

IMG_0513IMG_0519IMG_0706The photo booth was a fun way to capture the people at our party. I got the whole set from Oriental Trading.

IMG_0585IMG_0586The party was divided into two teams. They each had to design and create a team flag using Sharpies, pillowcases, and their imaginations.

I loved being able to bring out my Halloween stuff to use as decorations!!

The menu was:

fish and chips : Goldfish crackers and chips

Blackbeard’s bean dip : Spicy black-eyed pea dip

Don’t whistle–hummus : hummus

Boats : hot dogs

Peg legs : pretzel rods

Gold bars : cheese cubes

Fresh Catch : tuna salad

Polly’s crackers : crackers

Tastes like chicken : chicken salad

Gemstones : strawberries, blueberries, and grapes

Devil’s Caviar: spicy deviled eggs

Treasure Map: pizza

Crocodile punch : pineapple-lime punch

I hope to share more about our pirate party soon.

Vanilla Cake {keto}

Originally posted on livingandlovinglowcarb

One of the things that can make a person who is living low carb feel sad is not being able to enjoy dessert, especially on special holidays like Memorial Day. I wanted to make a cake that I could throw some berries and whipped cream on top and feel like I was enjoying a decadent treat. I can hardly wait to share this super easy recipe with you!

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Low Carb Vanilla Cake

2 1/2 cups almond flour

1/2 cup softened butter

1/2 cup softened coconut butter

1 1/2 cup Splenda

1 cup sugar-free vanilla Torani syrup

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

2 tsp. meringue powder

1 tsp. cream of tartar

2 eggs

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Stir together all the ingredients. Pour into a greased cake pan. Cook until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool. Remove from pan and enjoy so many different ways!