Sunday, December 15, 2013

December Love - My Christmas Card to You

From early October on....I hope for snow. If its in the forecast..I am up several times in the night, peeking out the shades. If in fact its falling..I wrap in a blanket and step out in my slippers, lifting my face toward the swirling icy crystals.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Evening of Destruction

                      (Part three of Where the Willow Tree Grows)

Another Scorching August day was thankfully fading. A breeze was beginning to stir, and preparations were once again underway for a lovely summer gathering under the willow tree. This was a special evening! Bob and Denise had brought everything for dinner. Ribs to BBQ on the grill, fresh green beans with bacon, and Bob had spent hours that afternoon painstakingly preparing a favorite potato salad his Mother used to make! It was a labor of love, and a thing of beauty as he slipped it into the fridge! As if this wasn't enough food, we of course had trays of Bernie's Secret Garden delights, tonight, she had even included a plate of chilled shrimp with cocktail sauce!
 Bob and Ric put the ribs on the grill, we girls load up with all offerings from the kitchen, which as usual..takes several trips ..( Bernie has resorted to loading up as much as possible in bags.)...

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Losing Mom

A thing long expected takes the form of the unexpected when at last it comes.  

(Mark Twain)

I've often pondered this quote in joyful times, things hoped for, prayed for, waited for. But on this afternoon , as I was preparing to write a post on my Obsession of Pumpkins, I realized it also speaks of things that are difficult, dreaded, painfully expected.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

DIY Frosted Pumpkins

This is the easiest thing to do EVER! Have I got the interest of those of you who always say
"I cant make ANYthing!"??
It is SO easy in fact, I am going to let my 3 year old grandson help me sparkle up another batch of these tiny ghosty punkins this weekend!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

October Love


                                    October passes much too quickly don't you think?

Although the nights have grown cold, the mornings dark, and the fleece sheets pulled up under my chin tempt me to stay cocooned against the morning chill... just a little longer.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Chandelier in the Willow Tree

    (continued from "Where the Willow Tree Grows.")

This beautiful willow tree graces the little farm on Emma Lane.
 As I was sharing with you in part one of this story, it began 30 some years ago when Ric and Bernie stuck two tiny little willow twigs in a bucket of water. The roots filled the bucket, then were placed side by side in the ground, they grew together entwining into one magnificent giant!
At the end of this late summers day, the sun sinks behind the hills painting the sky pink and gold.The long graceful branches dance in the cooling evening breeze, inviting us to come.....

Hearts are glad as we friends bustle about in the kitchens gathering up all the special culinary delights lovingly prepared earlier in the day by Bernie. 
 Fancy trays of strawberries with dip, tiny crackers with Bernie's Mint Jelly, seasonal offerings from the garden, Ric's smoked cheeses...
and SOMEtimes… Bernie makes a fancy tray of tiny bologna sandwiches, on white bread cut in little triangles, crust off… my FAVORITE!
Mind you… I don't eat white bread and my bologna eating days disappeared with my childhood
 but I'm telling you...
 under this tree they seem to be food of the gods!

Last but certainly not least..

The champagne arrives wrapped in ice and shining silver!

We all settle under the tree to enjoy its shelter from the sun and the outside world.
Pleasant conversation among friends blends with the evening calling of the turtle doves and the beginning of the crickets chorus.

The Wrens flit in and out of their gourd birdhouses overhead reminding us...
It is time to add the ethereal glow of
 the Chandelier !

I found there was only ONE way to share the magical glow of a Chandelier in a Willow tree, (and I really wanted to… because after all… how many of you have ever sat under a chandelier in a tree??)

So onto the ground I went.
As I enjoyed the hard work of this particular photo shoot, I realized there was a missing bobeche on our beloved chandelier!
Who says that??
This word makes me laugh out loud every time I say it, or even think of it!! I had to look it up on google to even know how to spell it! It is a French word and is the glass collar that sits beneath the bulb and holds the glass prisms on a chandelier.
Who knew.
I noticed that there was one missing, and it was really bugging me..messing up my flat-on-my-back shots!

Now that YOU see it… it bugs you too, right?
My friend Denise and I agree, we must replace it! We decide to get one for Bernie's Birthday and have it up for our next tree gathering in a few days. Where in the world do you shop for a Bobeche?? (I just put that line in because I wanted to say it one more time .)

 By now, Ric has started a fire in his fire pit with bundles of willow twigs he gathers, ties up with twine and keeps stacked by the barn. (On occasion, he will grill thick steaks over the flame for our dinner!)
The harmonica is brought out, Rick Service Stories are recited,  Old stories are brought back to life, new stories are shared.
 Our laughter rings out over the cooling pastures as time is suspended under the tree, the outside world turning midnight blue.

Under this beloved tree, many have been refreshed and encouraged.
And the laughter, OH my goodness the laughter!!

Tears have been shed, friendships mended,and prayers have filtered up through the knowing branches,who have heard it all, yet hold it all secret. Which must be why Bernie calls it her Secret Garden.


 Our time under the Beloved Willow tree is always perfect.

Except for that ONE night.

(to be continued..."Evening of destruction")

Friday, October 11, 2013

Where the Willow Tree Grows

Where do you go when your heart longs for home but there is no home in which to return?

I was fortunate enough to have grown up in the country. We were poor, our family never owned a home, living in 7 different places. I have fond memories of every one of them; fields and creeks, barns and tree houses, cats, dogs, horses, cows, chickens and ducks. How I wish I could return to my favorite spot in the hayloft , or show my grand kids the rickety raft tied at the edge of the pond, or  the tree house my brother built in the big tree above the creek....
My parents divorced years ago, dad has since passed away and my dear mother is in a nursing home.

Before you stop reading this sad tale, please come with me to my adapted home, that feeds my country-heart longings.

Come with me to Emma Lane, where my friends Ric and Bernie have lived and loved each other for 38 years!   When my country loving roots need nourished, I am blessed to be welcomed here!  I am greeted with warm hugs and the heavenly smells of Bernie's Pot Roast, which is THE best I have ever had! ( Sorry Mom)

The front porch swing creaks in the breeze that is scented with honeysuckle. Almost every seat inside the house and along the back porch are rocking chairs! 24 of them! Ric says the only thing that doesn't rock in this place is the music!


Where late summer flowers ramble freely over fences,

Gooseberries hang heavy, just daring you to taste....

and 28 birdhouses nestled here and there make for some happy birds who all sing their chorus of thanks in the early morning!
 I wander through the garden picking the last of the raspberries, I marvel at the size of the rhubarb plant, and wonder if tonight's dinner will include Bernie's amazing rhubarb pie! There are pumpkins unable to hide their orange as they grow fatter under the tangle of leaves

Out in the pasture under the bridge, Farmer Ric has planted Squash and Zucchini where they ramble with abandon!

I look back from the pasture at this little home I love, and smile at the thought of my bedroom , with windows flung wide open, where tonight when I crawl under the Chenille bedspread, the cold night  air smelling of fresh cut hay, will float over me like a dream from my childhood, complete with dogs barking in the distance, and the "chht chht chht" of sprinklers....The covey of turtle doves  alongside the house whisper soothing coos throughout the night...
I am brought back from my daydream as I gaze upon the giant willow tree, which is after all the center of this special place, not to mention the star of my story!
Thirty years ago...Ric and Bernie stuck two willow branches in a bucket of water. The roots soon sprouted, the twigs were stuck in the earth....It has withstood storms of wind, ice and snow.

When the sun goes down..... the chandelier hanging low in its branches begins to glow , the crickets begin their song,
and  that my friends...
is when the magic happens.....

to be continued.




Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Chocolate Zucchini Bread


This recipe is from one of my favorite cookbooks, from the Junior League of Yakima, my Home town in Washington State.
Chocolate Zucchini Bread

What to do with a vegetable that has taken over our gardens, our laundry rooms, the entire months of August and September with there plethora of green goodness?! We have fried it, grilled it, frozen it, sauteed it… slipped it into every dish possible… the best thing to do of course is....

Chocolate Zucchini Bread


SO, lets begin!

2 1/2 cups flour (half whole wheat is good!)

1/2 cup baking powder

1 tsp each, baking powder, baking soda, salt

2 cups sugar

1 cup canola oil

3 eggs beaten

2 Tbls.vanilla

2 cups finely shredded zucchini

1 cup ( 6oz.) semi sweet chocolate chips

1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Combine the cocoa, baking powder, soda and salt in a bowl. Combine the sugar, oil eggs and vanilla in a mixing bowl and beat until well blended. Add the zucchini and mix well. Add the flour mixture and stir just until moistened. Stir in chocolate chips and walnuts. Pour into two greased 5x9 inch loaf pans. (YES! it makes TWO loaves one to enjoy and one to freeze or share!)

Bake at 350 for 45 to 50 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack 10 minutes. Remove the bread from pans to wire rack to cool.

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

MY Favorite way to eat this is warm with butter.

YES!! We Americans know how to eat our vegetables!

I think you are going to LOVE it!

Chocolate Zucchini Bread


Yesterfood : Maple Cornbread Muffins

These are amazing! So sweet, and an interesting twist of flavors with chili!

Yesterfood : Maple Cornbread Muffins

Monday, September 2, 2013

Foxes or Snakes

Foxes or Snakes

    My little friend Lori walks our path several times a day. In fact that is where we met, we have walked it many, many times together. Nobody has walked this path, or knows it better than Lori. When this girl tells me something about the path, I believe it.

      Last spring she announced to me that there were ticks in the tall grass on the sides of the trail from spring to fall and that while laying in her bed the night before, she had found one crawling up her leg. I took this news so seriously, that when returning from our walk, I would completely strip in the garage (apologies to the neighbors) and run to the shower! The clothes would stay out there  for the day in a heap, giving all ticks opportunity to exit the premises.

     Summer goes by.

     I stay on the dirt path and out of the grass, with exception of a couple brazen dashes to a tree to grab a bird nest (because seriously… who can resist a good bird nest?) I really, really, don't like ticks. If you have ever had one of the things attached to you or your child… you hear what I'm saying!! Ew!

    My son came home from camp when he was a kid. Hanging from his chest, filled with his blood was a big fat tick! He came out of the bathroom yelling… "Moooom!!! What IS this??" Like any mature parent, I went screaming to the neighbors for help cause, I wasn't touching it!

Nope. Don't like ticks.

    Recently Lori and I had lunch together. As she calmly took a bite of her chick pea salad, she says to me; "You know that there are a couple of four foot long snakes that live on the path… right?"
My toes instantly curl up in my sandals, both my hands have slapped the sides of my face and my mouth is hanging wide open as I gasp in horror at this terrifying revelation!

  "NO!! Say it isn't so! Not our beloved path... our path has robins, and finches and deer and turtles and foxes… how did SNAKES enter into this peaceful place??!!" Just saying the word has curled me up in the fetal position! "How do you know this terrible thing?"
I was pretty sure I did not want to hear her answer! She told me  anyway.

Foxes or Snakes

 Apparently she and a friend were coming around the bend before the lake, when he pointed out there was a large snake hanging in the willow tree, (AUUGH!!!) which caused them almost to step on the large one that was stretched out across the path at their feet!!!  (AUUGH!!!) She told me not to worry. that if we came upon one while walking together, she would simply pick it up and fling it back into the grass! The visual this creates in my mind has just been entered into my nightmare file for all time.

I have had nightmares all my life about them, used to jump from the center of my room to my bed… just in case one was underneath. I realize some of you may like snakes. One of my best friends likes snakes. WE… are not from the same planet! Anything that has the words slither, hiss, fang, in its description… are you kidding me? If I would have come upon that dangling snake in the tree, I would have thought I was eye to beady eye with the devil himself!! (Hey! I've read Genesis chapter 3, this guy is bad news! If I would have been Eve, I would have high-tailed it in reverse so fast the apple would not have been eaten!)

     When I was in high school, I stayed with my best friend more than I was home. Now Jean was a prankster with a capitol P! She would spend hours planning schemes, building contraptions, just to scare the dickens out of me. (I know you are asking the question… "then why did you stay there?")

     One Friday night, I went into her  bathroom to shower before going to the football game, locking the door behind me, because I'm telling you the girl cant be trusted!
 I am lathering up my hair with Herbal Essence Shampoo when just I get this feeling.....
I open my eyes just a teensy and at the same moment I SEE the
snake dangling in front of my eyes, it BUMPS me in the forehead! Flailing and screaming, shampoo burning through my eyeballs to my brain, I wrestle my way through the shower curtain to the floor outside of tub, where I of course, find Jean laying on the floor in hysterics holding a rubber snake on a stick. Jean knows how to pick locks.

 Now it seems I have gotten off track of my story by sharing a bit of my snake history… so back to the present situation.

     Am I still going to walk this path every day with my friend the snake slinger?… or switch to dragging my dog through the paved streets of our neighborhood…

I decide to put on my big girl snake proof panties and hit the trail as usual.

  This first day back was different though. Instead of wandering along with my head in the clouds, watching the sun rising in all its glory, watching for the fox, or the deer, hearing the birds sing, smelling the cool morning air... I was watching for a SNAKE laying across my path by golly!!

With toes curled tightly in my shoes, I kept my eyes in the dirt, glancing up now and then, just in case there was a low hanging reptile swinging from a tree, that would bump into my forehead (thanks for that, Jean.)  

 Relief swept over me as I rounded the dreaded bend and made it  
through the snake infested zone.
I glanced up and there in the field were the two fox pups sitting side by side, just watching me. I went to pull out my camera, but when I looked up they were gone. A fellow path walker came around the corner all excited and grinning from ear to ear… "Did  you see the 6 deer back there?!"                                                 
I sadly replied "no." I did not admit I had my eyes on the dirt watching for cobras or pythons. The sun had now risen high and hot. I had missed the sunrise too.

I was once accused by a friend of "living in my happy little world" and not realizing all the frightening things that were going on around me on the planet.

 I do know.
I watch the news.

But, I can't stay there.
Those of you who move and shake the world, I thank you.
But if I focus too long on the frightening, the poisonous, the hissing,
I miss the beauty and peace and joy of a simple life. Right here. Right now.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.
Philippians 4:4

Thursday, August 29, 2013

One Green Gift

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights.      

James 1:17 

One Green Gift

As my sneakers hit the path this early August morning, the clouds of dust that rose from each step I took reminded me that although it was cool at 6:45 am it would soon climb to be in the mid 90's. Dry. Dusty. Hot. I am tired. of. Summer.


I decide to inspire myself and turn my attitude into gratitude on this new day and pull out my iPhone to try to capture a few signs of fall.

I see leaves on the ground but know they have just given up trying to stay green and have fallen because they are tired of summer too.

I also begin my morning conversation with God. I thank him for a new day, the beauty I am walking in, pray for my family and friends… but as usual, I am so easily distracted. By the edge of the pond, I see hints of fall, yellow wildflowers and fat cattails at waters edge, sunflowers nodding their happy heads.

One Green Gift

Oh yes Lord… now where was I?… I talk and talk some more trying to pause every now and then and listen, but the talking; it is always easier than listening. Then familiar thoughts start swarming around my head like flies…

Who am I that He would hear me? Maybe He isn't listening because you aren't listening…

What have you done for Him lately anyway? Maybe He doesn't even see you. You are insignificant in His Grand Scheme of things…


I stop at a young tree that is holding a nest I had spotted weeks ago, knowing that it was going to end up on my porch, nestled into the seat of a child size chair.

Today is the day.

One Green Gift

I make my way through the tall grass, trying not to think about ticks or snakes and lean on the tree until I can reach the sweet little abode and gently lift it out.

I head back up the hill to the path and smile because there are leaves in the nest, they are just brown ones, but is that not what I was looking for? "Funny" I say to myself as I begin to lift them out one at a time. Then…


To my delight I came face to face with this little green fellow! As I stood there in that moment, I felt that if I turned around, I would see Jesus standing behind me smiling...


" I hear you. I see you. I love you."

My heart was filled with child like joy as I stood there in wonder, at this frog, in MY nest! We looked at one another for quite some time, this little green fella and I, then I gently set him in the grass knowing he would be happier here than my front porch. Every time I walk in my front door, I have a little reminder that I am loved.

Just the way I am.

One Green Gift

See, I have engraved you on the palm of my hands.

Isaiah 49:16

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Blueberry Blackberry Shortcake

Blueberry Blackberry Shortcake

This shortcake is so easy and always a hit!
Got the recipe out of an old cooking light magazine (July 2004) been making it every summer for 8 years, which of course means, it's a keeper!
Best made with fresh berries so this is the month to make it.


(if you are pinched for time, use Bisquick shortcake recipe, add lemon rind, hard to beat)

2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbls grated lemon peel
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp.baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup chilled butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup buttermilk
Cooking spray
1 tsp. water
1 large egg white, lightly beaten
2 tsps sugar


3 cups fresh blueberries divided
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbls. fresh lemon juice
2 tsps. cornstarch
2 cups fresh blackberries

freshly whipped cream

Preheat oven to 400.
To prepare shortcakes: Combine flour and next 5 ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Cut in chilled butter with a pastry blender until it resembles coarse meal.
Add buttermilk, stir just until moist.
Turn dough out onto lightly floured board, knead lightly 4 times.
Pat into 1/2 inch thickness; cut with 3 inch biscuit cutter to make 8 rounds.
Place rounds 2 inches apart on greased baking sheet.
Combine water and egg white brush over tops of rounds and sprinkle evenly with sugar.
Bake at 400 for 12 or 13 minutes. Remove and cool on wire rack.

To prepare filling: Combine 1 cup blueberries, 1/2 cup sugar, juice and cornstarch in small saucepan. Bring to a boil and reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes or until slightly thick.

Blueberry Blackberry Shortcake

Place in a large bowl; add remaining 2 cups blueberries and blackberries, stirring to coat.

Blueberry Blackberry Shortcake

Cover and chill.

To serve, cut rounds in half, spoon filling on bottom half, top with real whipped cream, and place top half over all.

* ( I have made this using 2 cups frozen Blueberries, 1 cup fresh
and 1 cup frozen blackberries 1 cup fresh. It is the fresh berries that make it so beautiful on the plate!)

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Spanish Rice

Spanish Rice

Fresh and easy!

1 large green pepper, coarsely chopped
1 large tomato coarsely chopped
1 medium onion coarsely chopped
2 Tbls butter
2 cups cooked rice
1/3 cup water
salt and pepper to taste

Cook vegetables in hot butter till crisp/tender
Stir in cooked rice, water salt and pepper
( I like to add a little cilantro )
Heat through stirring occasionally

Cilantro Chicken

Cilantro Chicken

Another tasty EASY favorite!

1 small onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, finely chopped ( I use a big tsp of chopped jar garlic )

 2 Tbls butter

2 Tbls vegatable oil

4 boneless chicken breasts, cubed or sliced (your preference)

2 Tbls snipped cilantro

Cook and stir onion and garlic in butter and oil in a 10 inch skillet until onion is tender.

Add chicken, cook and stir over medium high heat about 5 minutes.

Stir in Cilantro.
Pour pan juices over chicken to serve.

Serve over rice, in your favorite flour or corn shell with shredded letuce and other taco trimmings, or as a lettuce wrap.

Squeezed fresh lemon is a nice touch too.

 We like it with Spanish Rice on the side.

What's to Love About Summer

Being a person who loves to grow things, Summer is of course the frosting on the cake of all my hard labor.

Digging  in the dirt, cheering my little plants on, protecting them from frost, too much rain, too much sun, and rotten bugs and slugs who think my main purpose was to supply them with a salad bar, has once again paid off.  It simply amazes me that beautiful flowers with hundreds of different colors come up out of dirt! And food? How wonderful we can grow our own if circumstances allow!
As many people are finally realizing, homegrown and locally grown are the way to go, our country and our kids would be in a lot better shape if we could get this into everyone's  head!

I have to admit though..the flowers are what thrill me the most, pairing plants with colors that play off each other,colors,textures, to me its  like painting in slow motion.

 (It is always nice to have extra help with the watering.)

Of course there are other favorite things in summer.


Little Plastic Pools filled with little Sunbeams 


Bare Tootsies

Trips to the beach

Stars from the Sea

Yes, indeed. There is much to love about summer.


By the time the Black eyed Susan's are in full bloom come August

I have had enough of the 90 degree heat.

My plants are now lucky if they get a bucket of water thrown on them.

 I no longer have my coffee at six a.m. while dumping salt on the doomed slugs who have not quite made it back under their rocks.

 And my joy of daily dead heading has well..died.

My sweet one hundred tomato plant is proving itself worthy of its husband finds them topping salads, stir fry..everything but his Cheerios's.

The Zucchini...??  Well, it seems to be making its own Miracle Grow and does not care if I show up or not. At this point there is no stopping it!

So this time of year...what I love about summer is...



Yup. I can almost smell that first loaf of Pumpkin bread. I am ready for my favorite Season of all.


How about all of you?

Thank you Lord, for allowing me another Season of Summer and listening to all my ramblings while tending it. I like meeting with you there!

Ecclesiastes 3:1
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.

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