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Five Things

These past few weeks have been very good, friends! This is one of my absolute favorite times of the year—when the tulips are in full bloom and the temperatures warm up a little. There are a ton of awesome recipes I have in the works for you right now, which is just another reason Spring is my favorite season. Plus, it’s time to take our hospitality outdoors. The Galloways have already had one big event outside, and it was perfect for a special little girl who calls me “Lolly.” I’ll share more about it in just a few.


I believe I was made to be outside. You might be surprised to learn I’d much rather be outside playing in the flowers than just about any other hobby I have. When it’s warm, I don’t feel productive unless I’ve covered myself with sawdust, dirt or wood stain at least three times each week. One of these days, my husband and I will build our dream house somewhere quiet in the county where I can have my vegetable garden, a cut flower garden and maybe even a woodworking shop (if I’m lucky). Until then, I’m going to keep doing the things I love now while enjoying the time I have to make our current home a warm and inviting place for our family and guests.


Over the years, I’ve learned quite a bit about hosting. I could say the same about gardening, cooking, and really about life itself. Let’s just say I’ve come a LONG way from where I was during my college days when I thought I was fancy making chicken alfredo with store-bought sauce. When it comes to gardening, in the past, every pot of mums I purchased “earned” an early ticket to its grave just by coming home with me. I think I’ve grown my knowledge a good bit in both areas, thankfully. And, oooohh man…the day I bought my first Kitchen Aid—that was the day I felt like I had become a real homemaker. It’s funny how our interests change as we age. I bet there were days when I was a teenager that my mom wasn’t sure I’d ever grow out of my “I just want to stay inside under the covers all day and not pick up a thing” phase, but life goes on and now I enjoy making my home special for my family and friends.


If you’ve read my About Me page, you already know how my love for hospitality developed. I was raised by the Queen of Hospitality herself: my sweet, sweet, mama, and I lost her, suddenly, a few months before my thirty-first birthday. That loss changed me. Completely. It changed how I viewed life, how I viewed the world in which I live, and how I viewed the time I have left on this earth.


I decided to do everything I could to become more like my mama everyday, doing my very best to live by her example and share it with the world. You all get to see the “picture-perfect” parts of that life when I share photos of new recipes I’ve created, or when the kids make a fancy charcuterie board or an elaborate tablescape, but I want you to know there is so much more to this. Despite what you see on camera, there is still real life happening in the background. There are days I still need a pick me up, an uplifting song or a reminder of how far I’ve come from the less-than-stellar days of my past. Other days, I think back to special memories of Mom that might inspire me to incorporate her, in some way, to a part of each and every day I get to live. Five Things is a space where I get to visit with you all for a few minutes and talk with you about things I am using to get me through every day life along with the things I am enjoying right now: family, music, recipes, memories, gardening, decor, and the list can continue on and on because I have SOOO many things about each day that I love. Like my mama, I am working hard at becoming a better blessing counter. This month, I believe I have been very, very blessed and can’t wait to share with you all the reasons I feel this way.



1. Things I’m Loving:



My Gardening Tool Set


The moment time changed, I started planning: planning my container garden, planning for family nights out on the deck…cookouts, yard games—there’s so much joy that comes with this season, don’t you think?! So, I’ve been busy. A couple weeks ago, I started planting anything bright I could find that could handle the slightest bit of frost because I was so ready to see some life in my backyard. I have a good mix of potted plants and a few other things I’ve planted in the ground. The one thing I’ve learned is a must have for both is a good set of gardening tools: some really good, sharp shears for pruning wild sprigs; a trowel, which is basically a small shovel and exactly what you need for planting most flowers and herbs; and a gardening fork to loosen tough soil or to mix in fertilizer for perennial plants that need a boost from last year.



You may be planning a massive flower garden that takes up the entire back yard, or you might be someone who likes to stick with just a few potted plants here and there. Either way, you need a good set of

gardening tools, and this set is my favorite. It also comes with a little weeding tool, an organizer and some work gloves, and it’s on Amazon Prime, which has become another favorite of mine. I might have to add it to next month’s list because you can’t beat delivery within 2-3 days of placing an order..ha!






My Mini Bundt Pan


I used this pan for my Mini Lemon Bundt Cakes with Blueberry-Lemon Glaze, and they turned out soo good! Anything mini-sized is adorable, and that goes for these little cakes, too. Plus, when you’re hosting for a crowd, having assorted mini cakes will give your guests more options while also cutting down on the mess (and fuss) over slicing a large cake. There are several recipes out there that are perfect for Spring if you want to try something different. You can grab this pan and make little banana cakes, coconut cream bundt cakes, mini strawberry cakes and more!

What I love about this particular pan is that it’s durable and super easy to clean. It’s always frustrating to have to spend hours soaking, then scrubbing, and then soaking some more just to give up at the end, having to leave the burnt cake bits left on an old pan. Thankfully, that isn’t a problem with this pan, and I think it will make a great addition to your kitchen!








My Charcuterie Utensils

If you haven’t noticed the charcuterie boom that started around the same time the entire world was shut down and sent home during the early Covid months, you either don’t have social media or your filtering abilities are out of this world! It seems like everyone is making charcuterie boards these days, and I can understand why. When I first started seeing them, I could scroll on my Instagram feed, literally, all evening looking at nothing else but charcuterie. I would imagine, if you’re into paintings or sculptures, an art museum would be the same. It’s like every board is its own masterpiece, and for the lucky guest who gets to enjoy it, it feels indulgent, and don't get me started on graze tables. They’re like charcuterie boards on steroids, and if we’re comparing charcuterie to art museums, I view graze tables like I would view the Louvre; they’re magnificent!

But, your enormous spread of mini treats and cute little appetizers won’t be complete without the cute little utensils to serve everything with. I’ve taken a few graze boards to my coworkers and catered a wedding shower at church, and I’ve received as many comments about the adorable little tongs and mini forks as I did the food. They’re just too cute to pass up.

This set is perfect, and again, it’s on Amazon Prime for the WIN! It has the mini tongs; little spoons for mustards, jams and dips; mini forks for pickles, and it also has a full traditional charcuterie set that includes knives for salami, summer sausage and specialty meats along with a cheese slicer and a few butter knives that can also be used for cream cheese or Brie.






2. Music:


Here Comes the Sun - James Taylor Version

I know this is going to sound cliche, but don’t knock it until you listen to it. I’ve been listening to “Here Comes the Sun” by James Taylor all week long. You’ve got to listen to his version—it’s the perfect amount of mellow mixed with the perfect amount of light, pun intended. I’m pretty sure I’ve been a fan of his since I was in the womb. My mom had every album, and on long road trips with her and my brother, we’d jam out to some James Taylor. I hadn’t heard his cover of this song, originally by the Beatles, until I was planning my wedding, but it quickly became a favorite. We even used it as our wedding recessional, and it’s recently reentered my top-played list because it’s such a happy song and there’s no way you can listen to it without smiling.





Whole Heart - Hillsong United

There’s another song I think everyone should hear, but I’d be lying if I said it was a favorite of the month because this entire album has played on repeat since Drew and I went to see Hillsong United in concert back in May 2019. It’s THAT good, but one of my favorite songs on the People album is “Whole Heart.” Because let’s face it, even when it’s Spring and sunny outside, we still face real life and need a pick-me-up from time to time.


“Hold me now in the hands that created the heavens. Find me now where the grace runs as deep as Your scars. You pulled me from the clay. Set me on a rock. Called me by Your Name and made my heart whole again…. Cause once I was broken, but You loved my whole heart through. Sin has no hold on me ‘cause Your grace holds me now. Healed and forgiven. Look where my chains are now. Death has no hold on me ‘cause Your grace holds that ground.”


Isn’t that powerful?! I don’t know where all of my readers are with their spiritual lives, but I know that even if my life now is so completely different than it was 15 years ago, I still need to be reminded that I am not my past, and this song does that every time I listen to it.





3. Recipes:


When I was little, I wouldn’t touch cucumbers unless they were pickled. I didn’t like them at all, but the older I get, the more I find myself craving them—especially on sunny days. Kendall LOVES cucumbers, and she celebrated her eleventh birthday this month, so I wanted to make a graze table for her that included all of her favorite foods. Kendall also loves avocado so I made these cucumbers with whipped avocado and goat cheese and topped them with sun-dried tomatoes, and they were a hit! Kendall’s little brother, Bennett, who is SIX, loves them too. They’re beautiful, cool, crunchy and can be enjoyed 100% guilt free because they fit just about every healthy diet, so try these out for your next Spring event or make a plate full of them to enjoy with the kids. Either way, you’ll be happy you tried them!



I grew up on a farm, with a daddy, uncle and brother-in-law who raise beef. Last Spring, we bought a 1/2 cow from my brother-in-law so we could stock our freezer with true, free-range, grass-fed beef. Yes, you can absolutely tell the difference! Just a couple of months after we bought the beef, my husband and I decided to start eating a little cleaner, which means more chicken and less beef. That’s no problem for us because I’ve created some AMAZING chicken recipes lately, but when we get to have beef, it feels extra special. A couple days ago, I shared this Korean Flat Iron Steak Recipe, and it is out of this world good! That cilantro-lime chimichurri seals the deal, too, so add this recipe to this week’s meal plan and give it a try!


4. Events:


I know I just mentioned celebrating Kendall’s birthday. This girl is loved by so many, and her entire family came together a couple of weeks ago to give her a very special party. She’s been asking for a graze table since her last birthday. What can I say? She knows what she wants! I might have influenced that a little--ha!


This party was so much fun! I’m a bonus mom to Kendall and Bennett, so it was very special to me to have her mother and grandparents along with my dad, my grandparents, my husband and his parents all in one place so that everyone who loves Kendall could spend the day celebrating her together.


Her mother brought the BEST chocolate cake. I’m going to have to learn how to make it because it’s quite dangerous how good it is. My sister-in-law also made some beautiful flower arrangements, the sweetest, little petit fours and strawberry cupcakes, and my mother-in-law made cookies. She is pretty famous in our family for making the most incredible cookies! I did the rest and made sure all of Kendall’s favorite fruits and snacks were on hand. I just hope she doesn’t expect us to top this party next year because that might prove to be a little difficult.



5. Memories:


Sometimes I get lost looking at photos of my mom. She passed away unexpectedly in May of 2020, and she was only 53 years old. When I see pictures of her, I still have moments of disbelief that this is reality…she was, hands down, my absolute best friend. Our last meal together was Easter 2020. Like everything else she did in word or deed, it was over the top, not in the sense of being fancy because she wasn’t a showy person, but more so in the sense of having all of our favorite foods served on individual trays, a mini dessert loaf for each table, and individually wrapped sanitizing wipes (because…Covid)—just to name a few things she did that day. We laughed a lot and enjoyed our time together as a family, and when it was time to go home, I gave her the best and safest hug I could during a world pandemic, which was kind of an awkward hip-bump type thing.


I couldn’t count the number of times my mom would grab me and just hold me for awhile—even if I tried—quick hugs weren’t our thing, but on this day, we did the best we could, and then I left. The next time I could touch her, she had a machine breathing for her. That’s why these photos will always be some of my most favorite possessions; it's because, during our last moments with her, these pictures captured so much of who my mama was: a servant; lover of family and genuine, Southern hospitality; and someone who was funny with such a magnetic personality that drew everyone in. She was kind and loved God with every ounce of her soul. Because of Covid, I didn’t go inside my parents’ house when we visited for Easter of 2020, but when I entered it to grab some things for the hospital just two weeks later, I found her Bible still opened from her study the night before she got sick. I now understand the meaning behind the verse that describes “peace that surpasses all understanding,” because my human heart misses my mama tremendously, but my soul is at peace because I know where she is, and I know our time apart is only temporary.



This Easter, I will go back to Leoma, Tennessee, to the same place these photos were taken, and I will spend the weekend with my precious daddy. He, too, is sick. His illness isn’t as sudden as what ended my mother’s earthly life, but we know we’re close to the end of our time left with him, too. But, instead of being sad, I will enjoy this Easter with him, take out my phone to snap some photos and add them to my collection of some of my most favorite things.

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The Galloways

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