Back to Basics


Psychologists say that the things that children remember most from childhood are:

1. Time spent outdoors
2. Time spent on vacation with family
3. And…time spent around the dinner table.

I grew up on a farm in central Missouri. I have 6 siblings, 2 older brothers and 4 younger sisters. My mother cooked 3 big hot meals every single day, in a tiny kitchen with NO DISHWASHER!

I remember some of my earliest memories were of standing in the kitchen watching my mother cook and her telling me little things to do, like stir the gravy, or add 2 cups of milk to this, or peel those potatoes, and on and on. I loved it! It was the safest place I could ever imagine being. The only other place I can think of in which I felt that same safety and security is being in my Granny’s kitchen. She wouldn’t really let me help her as much as just watch her. But I watched these two incredible strong and hardworking women make this food completely from scratch that would bring so much joy to huge tables full of family members. And if it took 2-4 hours to prepare with love, it likewise took about 30 minutes to devour, with gratitude!

Now, don’t roll your eyes, or sigh, or report me to women’s lib groups….but we were also the women who not only prepared and served these meals, but we also cleaned them up while the men excited to the TV room! But you know what? That was our norm. We were farmers, and very old fashioned. I wouldn’t have it any other way, and I don’t. My 2 daughters are also following in those footsteps. They are both learning to cook. They can already at ages 12 and 10, make meals such as baked chicken, fried zucchini, mashed potatoes, salad, fried corn, pork chops, spaghetti & meatballs, lima beans and quiche! My husband and children appreciate this so much and are always bragging on this. My son Avery said to me the other day, “mom, I want you to teach me to cook all of my favorite things that you make before I leave for college!” And of course, I will gladly do just that! By cooking for your kids; you help them to make good choices when they aren’t with you. I have somewhat made my kids food snobs because they prefer my home cooking over fast food and most restaurant food.

Not to mention the emotional and psychological benefits that come with feeding your family and sitting around the table…doing something radical- are you ready for this??? TALKING! TALKING! TALKING TO YOUR CHILDREN. Checking in with their hearts, no phones, no tv, no distractions other than “pass the butter please.”
And being a working mom is no excuse! I’m a working mom who travels. I have a housekeeper who works approx 3 days a week, but the other time, I am cooking, shopping, doing laundry, etc….


My tips for cooking at home:

1. Always keep meat in the freezer. Pull something out in the am to thaw.
2. Always have frozen dinner rolls ready to make.
3. Always have salad and feta or goat cheese and croutons and dressing. Throw together a salad every meal.
4. Always have canned veggies
5. Always have spaghetti and spaghetti sauce and frozen meatballs.
6. Always have potatoes.


Those would be my basic go to’ so that you can always whip something together in 30-40 minutes.
And if you don’t work, try to make dinner during the day while kids are at school, so it’s out of the way and you can go to sports activities knowing that you have something wholesome already made when you get home.
And now, if I can’t be home, I know that my girls can prepare a whole dinner for the family. It makes them, and me so proud!


Back to basics.


Sour Cream – Chicken Enchiladas

This is a great way to have Mexican at home on a budget. Add jalapeños inside the enchiladas for an extra kick!



  • 1 can (10.25 oz) condensed cream of chicken soup
  • 1 container (8 oz) sour cream
  • 1 can (4.5 oz) chopped green chilies
  • 1 package (10.5 oz) flour tortillas for soft tacos & fajitas (twelve 6-inch tortillas)
  • 3 cups shredded cheddar cheese (12 oz)
  • 3 cups chopped cooked chicken or 2 boxes (9 oz each) frozen diced cooked chicken, thawed




1. Pre-heat oven to 350º F. Spray 13×9 inch (3-quart) glass baking dish with cooking spray. In medium bowl, mix soup, sour cream, and green chilies.

2. Spoon 2 tablespoons soup mixture down center of each tortilla; set remaining mixture aside. Reserve 1/2 cup cheese for garnish. Top each tortilla with about 1/4 cup chicken and scant 1/4 cup cheese. Fold sides of tortillas over fillings; place seam side down in baking dish. Spoon remaining soup mixture over the filled tortillas. Cover tightly with foil.

3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

4. Remove from oven. Uncover; sprinkle with reserved 1/2 cup cheese. Return to oven; bake uncovered for 5 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. If desired, serve with chopped tomato and shredded lettuce.


Moving Tips

Oh goodness! Watching the above video brings back so many memories. That house is where Jay and I started our family. Thank you to Good Housekeeping for the reminder. I love having that video of our first home together as the Barker Family.

And that got me thinking about all the stuff 9 people and RoRo can accumulate over the years. We have been married for 6 years, and we are now in our second home together. Are you wondering how we managed to move all of our stuff?? Well…we had help. (lots) We have learned a few tricks, provisos, dos and don’ts….

  • Do take pictures or video of your home for the sentimentality, or even posterity. Memories are all we have from the past. Don’t lose them!
  • Don’t rent a storage place for years and years and years and forget what you even have in the thing.
  • Do not throw all of your excess in a POD and forget about it (Yes, I have a storage unit AND a POD).
  • Do have someone else pack you up and move your entire home.
  • Do have your decorator put all of your pictures and curtains up before moving in.
  • Do buy a house that you have never seen while on a 4 hour flight to L.A. Isn’t that how everyone buys a house? (I might have to explain more on this later).

And if you want some REAL tricks, check out this awesome buzz feed!

After reading the above, maybe, instead of hoarding in storage buildings and PODs, organizing and goodwill-ing are in order. Check out the time KK saw my POD here!



Turkey Meatloaf


Courtesy of Food Network
Courtesy of Food Network
  • 3/4 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • 1 medium onion, peeled
  • 2 pounds ground turkey breast
  • 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce



1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. In a small bowl, stir together the oats and milk. Thinly slice 1/4 of the onion and set aside.

3. Finely chop the remaining onion. In a large bowl combine the turkey, oat mixture, chopped onion, bell pepper, eggs, Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, salt and a few grinds of pepper. Mix just until well combined.

4. Transfer the mixture to a 9 by 13-inch baking dish and shape into a loaf about 5 inches wide and 2 1/2 inches high. Pour the tomato sauce over the meatloaf and sprinkle with the sliced onions.

5. Bake for about 1 hour or until an instant-read thermometer registers 160 degrees.F

6. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 to15 minutes before slicing.


20 Facts about us

Soooo, we did it! Our first blog challenge-Here it is!

BTW, the picture above is the Glam Squad for the Cheatin’ video. From left to right- Colleen Runne (makeup), Sara, KK (wardrobe), Kim Clo (hair)

I made a questionnaire that we both filled out. And I added extra questions so it is even more than 20. I know, we rock!

1. What is your middle name? LINN
2. What is your favorite drink? COKE ZERO
3. What is your favorite song at the moment? NOT THE ONLY ONE- Sam Smith
4. What is your favorite food?: Zoe’s chicken salad.
5. What is the last thing you bought?: OUTDOOR LIGHTS FOR OUR SIDE PORCH
6. Favorite book of all time? HUNGER GAMES (the first one)
7. Favorite Color? LIGHT BLUE
8. Do you have any pets? A MALTIPOO NAMED ROMAN
9. Favorite Perfume? KAI
11. Are you married? YES
12. Have you ever been out of the country, if so how many times? YES- probably 20 times
13. Do you speak any other language? NO
14. How many siblings do you have? 6
15. What is your favorite store? H&M
16. Favorite restaurant? Five in Birmingham AL
17. When was the last time you cried? This morning when I watched Parenthood.
19. Favorite Movie? Divine Secrets of the Yaya Sisterhood.
20. Favorite TV show? Parenthood
21. PC or Mac? MAC
22. What phone do you have? IPhone 6 plus
23. How tall are you? 5’8
24. Can you cook? YES! IT’s MY PASSION!

1. What is your middle name? Kaelin
2. What is your favorite drink? Leese Fitch Cabernet or diet coke with lime
3. What is your favorite song at the moment? Ed Sheeran: thinking out loud
4. What is your favorite food? Greasy burger and fries
5. What is the last thing you bought? Spinach and Kefir
6. Favorite book of all time? The help
7. Favorite Color? I truly love so many colors. Black and white together are my favorite!
8. Do you have any pets? I still hope our cat Bailey is alive somewhere
11. Are you married? Yup, for almost 14 years
12. Have you ever been out of the country? Oh yes! Lots of times. Europe, Canada, Mexico, Central America, Australia.
13. Do you speak any other language? Hablo español!
14. How many siblings do you have?: I have two older brothers and an older sister!
15. What is your favorite store?: TJ Maxx
16. Favorite restaurant? Calypso Cafe
17. When was the last time you cried?: Last night while watching Parenthood, that show gets me every time.
18. Favorite Blog? So many are so great but I love the
19. Favorite Movie? Forrest Gump (but honestly, how can you choose just one)
20. Favorite TV show? Presently Parenthood
21. PC or Mac? Reluctantly I have a Mac
22. What phone do you have? iPhone 5
23. How tall are you?: 5’9
24. Can you cook? I’m sure I could if I tried.

Anything else you need to know?




Here we are, already 20 days into 2015… It seems the more you try to slow down and savor life, the faster time flies! Why is that?!?!

But alas… Time went by so fast that we didn’t have the chance to welcome you all to a new year over here on our blog. Better late than never! Welcome to 2015 with all of its maybes, what ifs, and hopes!

We thought to start the new year, even a tad late, we needed some motivation. Though the blog is one of our passions, it seems to get pushed aside by… Life! We found a 31 Day Blog Challenge over on Pinterest (arealfineplace) and thought we could try that for some inspiration. We changed our challenge to a 31 Blog post challenge because let’s just be realistic, the every day part is just plain scary!

This post counts as the Introduction!


Hi, we are the A Real Fine Place blog… Nice to meet you!



Sara and Kaelin


Crispy Baked Fried Chicken


Courtesy of The Food Network


  • 8 chicken pieces (preferably 2 breasts, 2 thighs, 2 legs and 2 wings)
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 4 cups cornflakes
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground sage



1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place a rack in a roasting pan or on a baking sheet.

2. Rinse the chicken in cold water; pat dry. In a wide bowl or on a plate, season the flour with salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Dredge each chicken piece through the flour so it’s fully coated, tap against the bowl to shake off excess flour and set aside. Discard the flour.

3. Here comes the part kids like best: Crush the cornflakes by placing them in a big resealable plastic bag, carefully pressing the bag to push out the air. Seal up the bag (with as little air inside as possible) and run over the flakes with a rolling pin. Open the bag and pour the crushed flakes into a wide bowl or onto a plate.

4. In a large bowl (big enough to dredge the chicken pieces), mix the buttermilk, mustard, cayenne pepper, paprika and sage. Give each floured chicken piece a good buttermilk bath and then roll in the cornflake crumbs.

5. Arrange the chicken pieces on the rack and place in the hot oven. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes, lower the heat to 375 degrees and cook for another 25 to 30 minutes, until cooked through and crispy. The juices should run clear when the meat is pierced with a knife.


More happiness in Giving

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‘Tis the season to be thinking of gifts! So in the truest sense of giving, I decided to collaborate with Thistle Farms this holiday season to provide gifts that keep on giving!

Thistle Farms is a beautiful place (social enterprise) that is run by the women of Magdalene. Magdalene is a residential program for women who have survived lives of prostitution, trafficking, addiction and life on the streets. By hand, the women create natural bath and body products that are as good for the earth as they are for the body. Purchases of Thistle Farms products directly benefit the women by whom they were made. It was founded in 1997 by Becca Stevens. On a personal note, I have witnessed throughout the years all of the dedication that Becca has given this cause. I met her when I first started writing songs with her husband Marcus Hummon, who is an amazing songwriter! We wrote so many songs together, including Born to Fly, however I think Rocking Horse fits this occasion perfectly.

And it was something magic out of something frightening
That’s how I live my life,
I take it as it comes
And I find the hidden love

They are salt of the earth people and I am happy to share their gifts with you all. Go and give and be Merry!

Sara Evans’ Holiday Healing Basket: $45 plus tax

Holiday Candle
Holiday Bath Salts
Individual Healing Oil
Lip Balm
packaged together in beautiful eco-friendly Love Heals brown bag and ribbon
*note: scents will vary


Sara Evans’ Holiday Tea Gift Package: $100 plus tax

Thermos & Tea Survival Kit
Thistle Farmer Mug
Becca Stevens’ The Way of Tea & Justice Book
Thistle Star Book Ornament
Gift Certificate to Thistle Stop Cafe *note: must be used at the Thistle Stop Cafe in Nashville, TN
package together in beautifully wrapped basket and ribbon


Merry (early) Christmas, and shop ’til you drop!


A Thistle Farmer


I found a goldfish in my bra.


Yep! The title about sums up my day. I was awakened at 1:20am pacific time in Reno, NV, by Milly yelling for “Momma!” I was so delirious from exhaustion, and the always-changing environment while on the road, that I could hardly find my way to her. When you’re out of your element, it’s sometimes hard to recollect in the middle of the night where you put your daughter down to sleep. Side note: the cribs that hotels provide are rather scary. It’s a metal crib that was rather small and cage-like. So, I finally find Milly tucked away in a corner of the suite. (I stole Sara’s suite so as to have more space for the kid… they always give her the best room!) Milly is actually a great sleeper, but she had a nasty cold and needed more attention, thus the mid-night waking. I couldn’t do the normal M.O. of putting “mommy” ( she calls her pacifier “mommy”- don’t ask) back in her mouth and then laying her back down. Nope, this time she refused to get back into her metal cage (argh!). I tried rocking, nursing, and caressing, etc., etc.

The next thing I remember hearing was Matt’s alarm going off, him hitting snooze, then mine, and me hitting snooze. It was 4:55am. I hear Matt shower, and then I realize that, in order to have time for a Starbucks run, I need to get going. It’s amazing how time flies for an early morning flight. Plus, the “ride” we had booked was messed up, and so we had to hail a taxi. This taxi really was stereotypically stinky. Somehow in the scramble we lose a “mommy.” It could have been the gale force winds that suddenly appeared outside our hotel at 5:00am (I literally struggled to open a car door, and it was a sliding door) that ripped the thing from her grasp, but most likely it was the casual way she throws the thing from her mouth when she is done with it, not realizing, in her 19 months of life experience that not all the important things you drop will just somehow magically return to you. Either way, I suddenly realize we don’t have a pacifier to help us through this 8 hour day of traveling back to Nashville. Well, that’s when I lost it. I quickly inform Matt that he is not to say anything to me… or even speak at all. I blamed him. At one point in history, we had 5 “mommies”, and now we had 0. With tears streaming down my face we check in for our American Airlines flight. I was told they aren’t allowed to enter my TSA Precheck number (lies, I tell you) so, alas, I have to take my shoes off and walk barefoot across a nasty cold floor (why do I never remember socks?), picking up God knows what through my feet. I thought, ‘Does Ebola transmit through feet?’ I have learned a few tricks when it comes to getting through security. Although you are allowed to take a sippy cup of water, juice, etc, do not do this. Instead bring an empty sippy cup and fill it up on the other side. This way the TSA doesn’t have to “test” the liquid. Also, if your child can walk, have them walk through the metal detector on their own. This way they do not have to test the parent’s hands. These small things can save 15-20 minutes when it’s all said and done. Update- at this point, Milly still has no “mommy”, which she has asked for at least 10 times.

Fast forward to us being finally boarded on plane. I’m still crying. I reach in my diaper bag for Burt’s bees and pull out the “mommy.” More tears of joy! And then I sob into my lap for awhile. I really think it’s pure exhaustion at this point. (My husband would like me to add to this story the fact that he was all along urging me to check the diaper bag to see if there was another “mommy” inside.)

I know, I know… still not to the punch line. I will swiftly summarize the rest. On the first leg of the trip, Milly did great. She even fell asleep the last 45 minutes of the flight. Our neighbors, God love ‘em, had an 18 month old that wailed that last 45 minutes. I’m talking full on scream as though you’re getting your head chopped off. It was awful! Get the coinciding? I felt for them, I really did. But what do you do? We landed in Dallas. Flight delayed in Dallas. We rode the tram for 20 minutes to the gate they told us to go to. They switched the gates. We rode another 20 minutes back to the gate the was only TWO GATES down from our arrival gate. Finally, we board the plane, the plane takes off, and we eventually arrive in Nashville. (We would like to give a shout out and a HUGE Thank You to the three extremely kind gentlemen who sat directly behind us. They were way more than extremely accommodating with Milly, who turned around and stood up practically the entire flight. They played with her, laughed with her, and entertained her like she was their own! Thank you! You made the flight so much more enjoyable.)

So, here it is, the punchline you’ve all been waiting for… While putting Milly to bed, I go to nurse her and feel a hard object just laying at the bottom of my sports bra (I wore my jammies all day, don’t judge!). At first, I freaked out. Let me also mention that upon arrival to our house, after 9 days gone, I found larva living in a banana that I forgot to toss, and then a spider tried to make its way into my house (he no longer lives, so take that as a warning, you other spiders). I assumed that the object in my bra was something just as terrifying. After my heart rate calmed, I discovered the harmless, hapless goldfish, and promptly tossed it into my mouth. I put my kid down to bed and plopped myself onto the couch for some good ole TV time. We made it home safe and… well, on the way to being sound again.

Have you ever had a day like this? Please share with me!

I have a good friend that is penning a description of her “fun” day as a guest post…stay tuned!


“A LITTLE slowMEdown TIME” Giveaway

We are very excited to announce our first giveaway on our blog!!! And I must say it’s a fabulous collection of our favorite things. Sing it with me- “these are a few of my favorite things”.

Since it is our first giveaway it needed to be pretty special and meaningful. We could use a little relaxation and we thought maybe y’all could too. This is for all you hard working people out there that could use a BREAK! A little time for yourself to open a bottle of our favorite Leese-Fitch wine, lather up with my favorite scent from kai and put some awesome Bose Freestyle Earbuds in and listen to my CD! (Ahem! I know that’s the best part) You, too, will be in a real fine place! Enjoy!

Much love,

Sara and KK