The Singing Made All the Difference….

Every year around this time, anytime you walk into a store (Wal-Mart, Kroger, etc.) you see the Salvation Army people out, ringing their bell, and asking for money. I know this is for a good cause and they should be applauded for volunteering to stand out there; but most of the time, they are just plain annoying. I have met some who are rude and or borderline pushy when asking for money. I hate to admit it, but usually I just walk right on by with a feeling of guilt that lasts about half a second.

But then last Friday happened….

I was heading into Kroger after work to pick up some medicine. As I was pulling in, I saw the old gentleman standing at the door, ringing his bell, and I began to dread having to walk by him. I pulled into my parking spot and began to walk to the door. On my way, I kept seeing people stop and just stare at the man. People heading out of the store, going into the store, stopping and watching this little old man, despite the fact it was cold and dreary outside. As I got closer, I realized the man was singing. Old, traditional Christmas songs. A Capella. With a beautiful, quiet voice. I watched as he stopped one man in his tracks. The man turned around, listened for a few seconds, smiled, and gave some money. At the same time, this other man with two little sons came out of Kroger. One little boy ran up to the Salvation Army man with the brightest smile on his face. The old man let the little boy ring the bell while he finished out his song. By now, I was at the door to Kroger and the Salvation Army volunteer had a crowd.

I went inside with a lump in my throat. I cannot remember the last time I saw a crowd gather around one of the Salvation Army volunteers. I cannot remember when I have heard one of the those volunteers sing such beautiful songs that would stop people in their track. Literally, make them stop, listen, and turn around. Most days it seems we are all in a hurry and do not have the “time” to stop and listen.

As I left the store, I made sure to walk by the old man again. This time a woman was standing next to him listening. “The singing makes all the difference!” I said to her. She replied, “Oh my goodness! It does! Doesn’t it!”. The Salvation Army volunteer simply replied, with the warmest smile on his face, “Thank you ladies! The singing keeps me warm out here.” And he began another song.

Times like this reminds you of the true Holiday Spirit we should have. Giving to others, connecting with strangers, and taking the time to listen to others. I got into my car and felt truly blessed and touched that I was able to hear that old man sing. He truly was, to me, an angel reminding us all what this time of the year is about.

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Veggie Pizza – A Recipe Experiment Success!

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Our first garden is doing better than Ronnie and I expected, so we have been canning and trying out new recipes like crazy. Also, my husband has been working on the road during the week, therefore he is only here on the weekends to help me figure out what to do with all these veggies. When we decided to grow our vegetable garden, it was centered around having the vegetables to make pickles, in which Ronnie swore he would help with if the garden was a success. Well as you can see in the picture above, we are in veggie overload, especially on cucumbers and zucchini, and he can’t really help from a hotel room! It sucks when he has to work on the road and stay in a hotel room throughout the week, but it does have one advantage. I always try out new recipes whenever he is gone. This is because if the recipe is good (and I know what Ronnie considers good), then I have something to surprise him with when he gets home. If I try out a recipe and it is bad – no big deal. I can just eat it/dump it and no one has to know!

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Well last night was one of those “let’s try something new” night since I have all these veggies that need to be taken care. I had to stop by Kroger on my home anyway (needed ingredients to pickle my cucumbers!), so I went ahead and bought thin pizza crust dough and pizza sauce. I chose Prego Pizza Sauce Veggie Smart – no specific reason other than it was on sale. I chose Pillsbury brand for the dough because again, I just focused on sale items. If this recipe was going to stink, at least it wouldn’t cost a lot! I have on my kitchen bucket list to make my own pizza dough and pizza sauce, but for now these will work. In the end the pizza turned out AMAZING! This will definitely become a surprise for Ronnie when he gets home20130711-082004.jpg

Ingredients:

*Pillsbury Thin Crust Pizza Dough

*1/3 cup Pizza sauce

* 1/3 cup Zucchini – sliced

*1/3 cup Squash – sliced

*1/2 cup Carrots – shredded

1 pod –  Okra – sliced

*1/4 cup Shredded CheeseSeasoning/Fresh Herbs

*These are rough estimates of the amounts. I used these
numbers to enter data into My Fitness Pal in order to have the nutritional values found below.

-Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.                   -Bake 10-15 minutes

-While the oven preheated, I rolled out my dough. As you can see, I did not exactly get a round pizza. I think my dough got too warm on my way home (happens in 100 degree weather here in Arkansas). The package said it would just roll out, and well it didn’t. It still worked just fine, and the shape didn’t bother me. I used my pizza stone to bake the pizza on, but you could use a basic cookie sheet as well.

-Once you have it the size (or shape) you want, place in oven for about 5 minutes (followed this step based off instructions of Pillsbury container).

-While waiting for dough to pre-bake, slice the veggies you want. I used my Mandolin Slicer, so about five minutes was all I needed to get my veggies ready. We already had the shredded carrots in the fridge, so I added those as an afterthought.

-After the dough is done pre-baking, take it out of the oven and spread your pizza sauce on. The recipe on the dough package called for 1/3 cup, but I just     eye-balled the amount until it looked right. After that I added my veggies and shredded cheese. I added some dried herbs on top. **Please note, whenever I try new recipes, I just grab random herbs/spices and then can never remember which ones I used. That is part of the fun of trying new things, you don’t have to be too serious about it. For this recipe, I used basil and Italian seasoning. I know I used one more, but for the life of me cannot remember what it was.

-Bake in the oven for about 10-15 minutes or until you reach the desired crust. **The package stated 6-9 minutes, but as my dough turned out a little thicker, I put it on for longer until my crust looked a little darker. I like my crust a little on the crispy side.

-Let the pizza cool, and enjoy! This took all of 30 minutes,which would have been shorter if I didn’t have to fight the dough with my roller! Simple, easy, and delicious!

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Please ignore the “Goal” column. These are my personal goals set up in My Fitness Pal, which is a free app that makes it easy to track your food intake and exercise goals. Plus it comes in handy for determining nutritional value for new recipes!