Simple Salmon with Creamy Dill Sauce

SimpleSalmonCreamyDillSauce
If you are a salmon-lover like me, you will love this simple version topped with a delicious, creamy dill sauce! My husband is allergic to fish (not shellfish, thankfully!), so for most of our marriage, I’ve given up preparing fish at home. We were craving shrimp recently and stopped by a local seafood market, Indianola Fresh Market.  If you live in Oxford, it’s well-worth a visit! The salmon was so beautiful, we couldn’t pass it up!  I was a little pushed for cooking time that night, and stumbled upon post after post of Pioneer Woman’s instructions for perfect, embarrassingly-easy salmon.  Whip up a quick batch of dill sauce, and you have most of your dinner prepared!

Simple Salmon with Creamy Dill Sauce

Salmon Filets
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
Lemon wedges for table

Dill Sauce:

1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup sour cream
1 T. chopped fresh dill
1-2 t. prepared horseradish (I omitted)
1 t. fresh lemon juice
1/4 t. garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste

Drizzle each salmon filet with olive oil, coating entire filet.  Sprinkle both sides of filets with salt and pepper.  Arrange filets on a foil-lined baking sheet.  Place baking sheet in a COLD oven, then turn oven on to 400°.  Bake for exactly 25 minutes.  Remove perfect salmon from your oven!

To make dill sauce, mix all ingredients well and refrigerate before serving.

Serve each filet with dill sauce and a lemon wedge.  Garnish with fresh dill sprig, if desired.  Enjoy!

Printable Recipe
SimpleSalmonCreamyDillSauce

First Day of School…for Moms

First Day of School '14
With the addition of social media to our world, we all now get the privilege of seeing all the adorable Back-to-School photos of friends near and far.  I particularly love all these photos, as they are truly mile markers in our lives as families, as kids, as parents. As a mama who has experienced years and years of “First Days of School,” I now know there are many stories behind the fresh tennis shoes, new backpacks, and front door smiles.

For some of us, it is pure, 100%, unadulterated relief that the kids are back at school.  I read an hysterical post on Facebook last week from friend who admitted singing “I Got One Less Problem Without You” as she dropped each child off.  Dying!  For some, it’s a start of a complete new season of life…sending the first or the last child to kindergarten or college.  Tears of relief and grief and joy.  For others, perhaps it is a returning to work after being at home for years or off for the summer.

If you are mom of school-aged kids, no matter their age, the first day marks the beginning of a new chapter, another year passed, another inch closer to launching them into the world.  And it’s so many emotions for a mom…exciting, terrifying, joyous, sad, lonely, yet connected in spirit to mamas everywhere.

For me this particular year, our “first day” today was good.  Just really good. And I rejoice, because past years have been so difficult for me. Today, I did not come home and “go to pieces,” as my mom calls it:), all three kids were ready on time (miracle), they all walked themselves in (out of necessity since David was out of town), and none of my kids were “brand new” to their school district, friends, and Oxford. Thank.You.Lord.  Nobody wants a repeat of moving to a new town and starting school 4 days later ever again like last August.  Not recommended to a worst enemy.

I know for some of you out there, though, the recent “First Day of School” was or is going to be really, really difficult.  I’ve been there.  And I promise it gets easier. Especially if you are sending your first to kindergarten…or your last to kindergarten. I can’t speak to college send-off, but I am reading posts from veteran mamas who assure us that we’ll survive that, too.  I have been praying this morning for all of us mamas…for God to reach down and rain down His grace for where we think we’ve not done enough, for tender mercy when it’s just plain hard, for comfort if we grieve them leaving, and renewed strength and energy if we’re singing Ariana Grand lyrics today.

Here’s to another “First Day of School” in the books!!

I’d love to hear what the “First Day of School” is like for you and yours.  Have a great week.

Greek Pasta Salad

Greek Pasta Salad Main
I was sitting at the pool recently with my sweet friend, Anna Dabbs, and we agreed that deep into summer, it becomes harder and harder to want to cook, especially with the temps so hot!  The thought of heating up your kitchen when it’s sweltering outside…boo!  Anna mentioned a cold pasta salad that her family has loved for years, and I gave it a try the next week. If you love Greek flavors, this pasta salad is for you! Below is the base for the dressing, but you can make additions to suit your taste! Enjoy!

Greek Pasta Salad

16 oz pasta (colored rotini or your choice)
4-6 green onions, chopped fine
2 oz. jar chopped pimiento (I chop even smaller from jar)
1/2 cup olive oil
3 T. lemon juice
3 T. mayo
2 T. Cavenders Greek Seasoning
1 can petite diced tomatoes

Optional additions:  Shredded Rotisserie chicken, crumbled feta cheese, olives, etc.

Cook pasta according to package directions.  In a large bowl, combine remaining ingredients with pasta.  Add any additional ingredients to suit your taste. Wal-Mart carries my favorite Rotisserie Chicken-Traditional flavor.  I shredded roughly half the meat from one chicken.

Chill overnight or at least a few hours before serving to allow flavors to marry.

If you prefer a sweeter version of pasta salad, be sure to try this Summer Pasta Salad that is an all-time favorite from my sister.

I’d love to hear from you if you have a favorite cold pasta salad to share!  Happy last days of summer!

One Year in Oxford and Pine Cove Family Camp

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Hey friends!  I sure have missed being here regularly this past year!  Hope you all have enjoyed your summer…can you believe school supplies are on the feature aisles at Wal-Mart?  Where did the weeks go? Hopefully, you have found some time to let your soul rest with the slower pace. We just returned from our favorite vacation, Pine Cove Family Camp, which could not have come at a better time for our family.  This month marks one year since we uprooted our kids and moved to Mississippi.  Not the easiest year, so we were counting the days til the start of camp this summer!

If you are not familiar with “family camp,” it’s basically just what it sounds like! Summer camp for the whole family. But do not be fooled if your first thoughts are to click away because you hated camp as a child or wonder if there is AC! Pine Cove Family Camp is the ultimate vacation for moms. I am convinced the Lord, in His tender mercy towards mothers, created Pine Cove.  Servant leaders, aka counselors, are there loving on families, meeting needs, and fulfilling requests before you even know you have a need or request! They unload all your luggage, cut your kids’ meat at the table, hold them if they as much as make a peep, refuse to let you pour your own coffee, and demand that you get up and walk away from every meal without lifting a finger! They also spend countless hours with our children, loving on them, pouring into them, and being sweet examples of Christ to them. Priceless. If you’d like to read a past post about what else Pine Cove offers, click HERE. Not to mention, all three of our kids swear it’s better than Disney.  And I sorta don’t love Disney, so this is good news for me.

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Last 3 photos: Pine Cove Photographer

Ten summers ago, when we first pulled onto the property of Pine Cove Woods, I was a much younger wife and mother of only two very little people, tired but not overly worried about much other than nap schedules and disciplining kids who hadn’t started school yet. Both challenging, mind you, but life’s a bit more complex now, putting it mildly. This year, as we pulled onto the property at Pine Cove, I was excited to be there, as we have dear friends who come the same week every year, I knew my kids would be well cared for, and I would NOT think about, shop for, cook, or clean up 17 meals! But also this year as we pulled in, there was a secret place in my heart brimming with worry, anxiety, sadness, loneliness, and fear.

Just a few short months ago, I found myself in a pretty low place. In typical Southern fashion, I had learned the art of hiding the hurt places, not asking for help, and just hanging on til whatever it was went away, got better, or more likely, got covered up with another fine layer of distraction.

Our move last August from Arkansas to Mississippi was extremely difficult on so many levels. Watching my children grieve when the move was still fresh…I’m talking all-out wailing a few times, making me seriously consider getting in my car and driving back to Arkansas at 10 pm on a Tuesday. Living in a bare rental house and moving twice in six months. Transitioning from a smaller Christian school to a huge public school setting…scary to say the least, but it’s been such a great experience. Sending my youngest baby to kindergarten after having a small person at home for 13 straight years…I was unprepared for the sudden, very real grief. Parenting a teenage girl from my heart that was running on fumes…not recommended. Visiting and searching for a church home…if you’ve done it, you know it is low on the fun list. Feeling disconnected from David as he struggled to understand my feelings…not much changes for husbands during a move. They just go to work, whereas moms are the primary cultivators of networks with neighbors, new friends, doctors offices, and schools, among a thousand other connections necessary for running a family!)  More than a few times this past fall, I came home to our impersonal, rented kitchen and wept.

Life for me this past year was a constant paradox…internal conflict hovered as I experienced all of the above mentioned scenarios, yet many days I felt filled up, energized, cared-for.  Go figure. Nevertheless, we were in the middle of several of “Life’s Most Stressful Events” list simultaneously.  As the year went on, so many contributing factors helped and to continue to help me get back to “myself.” Although there are a thousand little things, these are just a few of the biggies…a husband willing to enter into the hard stuff with me (he has the patience of Job and really deserves a medal), a wonderful counselor to help me unpack my junk (I’m convinced we all need therapy haha), exercise (which I loathe but it helps), a handful of friends to be real with, Oxonians who welcome newcomers with dear hospitality, embracing the intrinsic pride of our new community, knowing David is enjoying his work, and time away with my family this summer, namely Pine Cove.

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I so appreciate the authenticity of the families and staff at Pine Cove and the sweet spirit that abides there.  While Pine Cove itself is merely a location on a map, we have seen lives changed, family legacies restored or start brand new, and the world getting put on hold for a glorious week.  Pine Cove is not a magical week where God waves a wand and life is suddenly easy and ordered, but it is a week where we can safely share the stuff of life and hit the “reset button.”  We leave filled up and commissioned to go back home with hope, courage, and Truth. We like to say “the start of our spiritual fiscal year.” I’ll take that any day over Disney;)

As always, I’d love to visit with any of you who are interested in hearing more about Pine Cove!  Praying for us mamas as the start of school and the promise of busy, action-packed weeks awaits us.  May we not lose sight of what’s most important, even in the midst of homework, activities, dinner, baths, and bedtime.

I’d love to hear ideas on how YOU keep your faith, relationships, marriage, family time, and yourself a priority when life is hard or schedules are demanding!  Here’s to August…!!

Linking to: Weekend Bloggy Reading