Thursday, September 29, 2011

Seize the day!

 For the past two days/evenings, I've been reorganizing my digital photo files on my computer.  Now I'm sure many of you are saying, so what?  This is tantamount to a miracle, considering the fact that a little over a year ago I didn't even know how to operate my digital camera.  My brand new camera, purchased largely in part due to pressure from my teen boys at the time, was buried in a drawer somewhere.  I convinced myself that my 35mm worked fine and it's true, it does take good pictures.  After all, I'm not a professional photographer, why fix what isn't broken.  That was my rationalization.

     When I met my husband last year, somewhere along the line we discovered that while he knew how to work his own digital camera and could download the photos to a computer, he didn't know how to upload those pictures to a site like Facebook.  I'm a little bit more computer savvy in that area, so we helped each other.  Now there's no stopping us; one or both of us grab our camera whenever there's a hint of a potential photo opportunity.

      Naturally, the more digital photos one downloads, there is a need for organization, particularly since we did not grasp how important it would later prove that we label the files with more than just a date.  In order for you to know what a monumental concept this reorganization has been, you need to understand that I've been using a computer for probably 15 years, without EVER knowing a thing about files/drives/USB ports/back-ups....I think you get the idea.  As long as the thing started up, that's all I cared to know.  I like to say  it was *someone* else's "department or problem" to fix.

     A divorce and my youngest child leaving the nest for college forced me to learn things I never wanted to learn.  A funny thing happened along the journey, however.  As I tackled each new experience, I felt a sense of victory and pride in myself.   There were frustrating times, certainly, when a challenge presented itself and I'd have to ask for help, but I'm fortunate that I could always count on certain individuals when I needed assistance or advice.  Thinking  back over the last 22 years, I'm astounded at how far I've come.  I'm sure those I leaned on are equally that I don't pester them as much!

     Some people take on new tasks by jumping in with both feet, but I know that many people hesitate, and for various reasons.  I cannot stress enough how taking just one step towards that process can ultimately feed a fire that perhaps you never realized was there. 

     If any of you are still reading, I'm sure you're wondering what ANY of this has to do with Food.  Or Flowers.....or anything remotely in between.  I'm getting there, I promise ~ I will tie this all up with a pretty bow. 

    My first husband being a vegetarian meant that pot roast or ham & beans, for instance, were dishes I enjoyed in restaurants because I catered to his tastes ~ it's healthier anyway.  I learned to do a LOT with ground turkey, ha ha!  Then I married a meat eater who also knew his way around the kitchen stove as he'd been divorced (with 2 kids) for 6 years before meeting me.  He was all too happy to pass his kitchen baton to me and I'm happy to say I can now cook many of the dishes my mom and my grandmother served up for generations. 

     Recently I followed an online discussion where people claimed they don't bake because they're under the assumption it's an exact science.  I disagree.  I'm of the opinion that it's ALL just food.  What's the worst thing that could happen?  Maybe you burn it.  Toss it in the garbage and call for pizza.  Even experienced cooks like I consider myself to be, under or over season a dish from time to time or try a new recipe and end up not liking the end result.  But if you don't TRY, you will never know what could be. 

     My husband and I are still working on mastering digital photography.  The next step for us is figuring out how to specify and download only certain photos to a flash drive so that we can obtain hard copies.  I may even take it a step further and try digital scrapbooking!  This blog is a new venture of mine, the very nature of which has prompted me to gain more experience with word processing, clip art and graphics.  What once was intimidating to me is keeping me glued to my laptop for hours at a time. 

     You may discover a tasty confection that ends up being part of your family's holiday tradition or dusting off your crockpot to try a recipe long ago clipped from a magazine might turn out a savory dish that gets added to your winter menu each year.   

     I challenge you to try one of the recipes on this blog.  I get comments all the time that chilled (Raspberry) soup is not something most people have ever tasted, let alone prepared.  It's EASY.  Not to mention delicious and healthy.  Give it a whirl.  I've had several comments regarding the Grand Marnier French Toast recipe & how good it sounds, so change up your weekend!  Don't make the same old, tried and true.  Be sure to share your never know when the action you take could spur someone else on.

     To learn is to grow.  We are never too old to do either.  Replace fear with the power of knowledge and the self assurance that success can be ours.

     ~Wishing you well in all your endeavors!


Sunday, September 25, 2011

On the lite side

I've posted a super quick and easy dish, called Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner Quiche.  You will find it under Main Dishes, simply because in this household I typically make it for dinner.

It makes delicious leftovers for breakfast the next day, or another dinner!  Feel free to change up ANY of the vegetables listed, to suit YOUR tastes. I don't usually make it the same way twice.

Bon Appetit ~

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Comfort Food

    I think we all experience times when we get down and could use some comfort.  Nothing really takes the place of human comfort, whether from family or friends, but that isn't always possible.  As I said in another post on this blog, family (and friends) nowadays are more often than not separated by miles.  That can make it challenging to stay in touch, let alone extend a show of support or comfort.  It's not impossible, though.  If we truly care, we WILL find a way.  As the saying goes, "where there's a will, there's a way". 

    There are some things going on behind the scenes in my life that have made me pretty emotional these past few weeks.  It's reached a crescendo, really.  I guess that's part of the reason I'm sitting here writing this.  I thank you in advance for letting me vent a little.  And there WILL be a recipe at the end of this....I promise.

    My husband, God bless him, is the one who comforts me the most, and he's very, very good at it.  He listens.  Sometimes that's all it takes.  Just an ear.  Now that doesn't cost a dime, but it DOES take a little time.  Everyone's busy these days.  ALL of us.  I can tell you that as I've gotten older, it sure *does* feel like time goes faster.  It shouldn't be an excuse, though, to not extend ourselves to someone else.  We may have to think outside the "box" or even change our priorities ~ but I believe that we'll regret far more in our lives than those opportunities we took to help another person out.

     One of my sons lives part time in the UK, with his wife and my only grandchild, his daughter.  Skype has been a Godsend.  In addition to email and facebook, he and I can communicate and stay updated via webcam.  Now that my precious granddaughter is a year old, I'm looking forward to interacting more with her on the webcam.  Jason and his wife have been great about posting pictures and videos to their facebook account so that all of Jason's family in the states can watch Fiona grow from afar.  Speaking for myself, it does ease the pain of not being able to physically have contact with my granddaughter.

     The webcam and texting have helped me stay connected with my younger son, Tyler, who along with Jason is attending college in California.  I'm in Indiana.  I'm also unemployed, otherwise most of this article wouldn't apply.  I'd hop on a jet and hug my boys in a heartbeat.  I'd also be in the UK before you could say UK.  I've wanted to visit long before Jason had a family there; he tells me I'd really like it. 

     Postage rates continue to climb, while their service declines (sorry, I digress........), yet there are sites that allow us to send e-greeting cards for holidays and special occasions.  Again, it's not quite as nice as opening your mailbox and discovering something sweet versus a bill, for instance.  The end result is the same though, in that the other person feels the love.  An unexpected phone call just to say hello is ALWAYS nice, but even more appreciated if the other person happens to be under the weather, emotionally OR physically.
My perspective is that it takes just as much time to do nothing as it does to do *something*.  Anything.  Just don't make excuses. 

      I'm really "old-school", as my husband likes to say, in that I like to walk a batch of cookies over to my neighbor for no reason.  If someone I knew was ill, I'd prepare a casserole for their family so figuring out a meal would be one less concern.  You don't have to go to that extreme though, to show you care.  That's really what I'm talking about here.   

     Life is short.  My husband, Doug, has lost two good friends in the past couple of months.  Makes one pause and reflect.  Family nor our friends should ever feel alone.  Ask yourself if those you are blessed to have in your life KNOW how much they mean to you.  How you show that is up to you, but there is no telling what a kind word, a thoughtful gesture, a surprise phone call, could mean to someone who is in need of comfort.  And we do not always know when another needs solace ~ so why not just approach our loved ones across the board as if.  There isn't any reason to wait for a moment of distress.  We have the power of love with us, always.  ~ Food for thought ~

    I'm still hoping that some very important people in my life will wake up, to be quite frank.  Until then, I do have my boys and my husband and his family, who I adore.  I nurture myself in many ways, just one of which is comfort food.  A favorite that mentally takes me back to when I was a child is Ham & Bean Soup (with cornbread, naturally!).  I'm sharing my recipe under Soups.  The cornbread was posted under Sides a short while back.  I hope they bring warmth to your kitchen and your soul. 

    Blowing blessings your way!
 ~~ Shelly



Thursday, September 22, 2011

Bygone days and new ways

    This morning I made french toast for my hubby and myself.  Just simple french toast.  But while I was cooking, my mind wandered to another time.  Years ago I made a different kind of french toast....a fancier one, shall we say, and I had a habit of hosting Champagne brunches for extended family.  Oh how I love champagne.....I'm sorry, what were we talking about?  lol....

    Like I said, that was well over 20 years ago, and things are so different now.  My step-father, who was one in a million as far as the human race goes, is no longer with us.  I still miss him.  The setting was California and I moved away approximately 17 years ago.  As the family has grown and some have put down roots in other states, for whatever reasons, some have lost touch.   There are times when I long for one of those gatherings in my home, surrounded by *my* family.  Holidays in particular can be difficult when families are spread across the nation.

    Time marches on, and I've remarried and downsized to a smaller home, closer to my new husband's children and grandchildren.  I used to collect china from antique stores, and I'm known for my hosting skills, but I find that my mindset is changing.  For one thing, this house only has so much storage space.  At first I rejected the idea of getting rid of anymore of my special things, because I'd already held several yard sales in recent years and wanted these *things* in case.  As my closets filled to capacity, I began to really question my reasoning in keeping certain items.

     My great-grandmother's (crystal) punch bowl set was missing some glasses.  It had been given to me YEARS ago and I'd not used it once yet.  Could I picture myself using it at some point in this new house, this new life?  The answer is that I DO plan to entertain; hopefully more than I have in the last 15+ years.  The people I will be hosting will be a different crowd, though, then the ones I've invited to my home in the past.  Grandchildren are now in the picture and to me that means less formality, more fun! 

     I can visualize hosting a big Thanksgiving dinner here, tables set up in 3 rooms to accomodate the entire group of thirteen or so.  I can envision lots of bbq's on our nice deck out back and potlucks are always fun, but what I can not imagine is how china would fit into any of those scenarios.

    Someone from the group FreeCycle is now the proud owner of all my crystal.  The pieces may no longer grace my cabinets or my tables, but the memories run deep.

    This morning, while fixing that simple french toast, I recalled the *other* french toast recipe, and how I'd gotten rave reviews whenever I'd served it.  I described the dish to my husband and told him how I'd passed the recipe to my niece when she married.  I wonder if it's become a tradition or family favorite in HER home?  In any case, food can certainly conjur up some wonderful memories of bygone days. 

     I will be posting "Grand Manier French Toast" under a new page, entitled Breakfast.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Muffaletta Sandwich

Going simple tonight.  These are SO good, and I haven't had one in ages!

French Bread Muffaletta 


1 stalk celery, diced
1/2 small onion, diced, about 1/4 c
12 black olives, chopped, about 1/4 c
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
2 tsp. white wine vinegar
1 loaf crusty French Bread, about 10 oz., or 12" long
1/2 lb. Genoa Salami, sliced
1/2 lb. Black Forest ham, sliced
1/2 lb. Provolone cheese, sliced

Position oven rack 6" from heat source, preheat broiler.  In bowl combine celery, onion, olives, oil and vinegar.  Using serrated knife cut the bread horizontally.  Layer salami, ham and cheese over bottom half of the bread.  Broil until cheese melts, 1-2 minutes.  Top with olive mixture; cover with top half of bread.
Makes 6 servings

Sunday, September 18, 2011

My baked goods ARE for sale ~

I've been making fudge for at least 20 years.  Yes, I realize how that dates me, but don't distract me---I'm trying to make a point here. 

When my boys were growing up, I was a stay at home mom, but I once I began giving fudge as gifts during the holidays, many said it was the best fudge they'd eaten, OR another common statement was that it was JUST like their mom or grandmother had made through the years.  I tested the water a little and started renting booths to sell the fudge at area church/school bazaars and craft shows. *Side note:  I did win a ribbon at the Boise State Fair one year for my chocolate fudge---I did enter the peanut butter fudge as well, but for whatever reason I wasn't able to snag an award for it.   Back to the bazaars; I never came back home after an event with much, if any, leftover! I think that speaks for itself.

The idea was kicked around several times through the years that I should open a candy store, or a bakery.  I've always loved the thought, but wasn't sure about logistics.  Would people really buy these goodies year-round?   In the end,  I turned my creative side into a business selling gift baskets & balloon bouquets for all occasions.  My clientele of 3000 was a mixture of corporate and private consumers and it all managed to keep me busy, VERY busy, for 11 years.  I loved owning my own business and to this day, there are still aspects of it that I miss.

I continued to make fudge at Christmas time and shipped as gifts to family members who lived out of state.   A prerequisite to attending  functions our family was invited to in the Winter season was that I'd better show up at the door laden with tins of fudge.  Well, maybe I'm exaggerating here, but not by much!   I discovered that if I happened to come down ill or just found myself too busy on any given year to make 30 or so pounds of fudge, I HEARD about it.  I think people came to expect it, but more importantly, it did not feel like the holidays for myself, either, if I wasn't preparing all those goodies.  I'd created a tradition, at the very least. 

My life took a different turn 6 years ago and I sold the business first.  Then I moved.  Several times, in fact.  Too many times.  I kind of stopped cooking and baking for a while.   I will spare you all the details in between, but now I've got oodles of time on my hands and a supportive husband and extended family who are encouraging me to give my original pipe dream another go.

Once again I'll be mass producing treats and selling at area events.  When I book an event, I will post the details here on my blog (maybe there is a way I can set up a calender here?)  so anyone local will know where they can buy the goods.  Or, just follow your nose....

If you can't wait till I set up a booth somewhere, I've posted a (partial, at this point) list of the treats I bake and cost on this blog.  Just go to the Home page & click on the tab at the top left that says Order form.  Contact info. is there as well.  Now, put me to work! ~

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Oatmeal Butterscotch Cookies

~ Be prepared for these to be gobbled up quick!   What was once reserved for special occasions has become my go-to cookie recipe.
   I sell them at craft shows/bazaars, etc., or you may order them at any time.  Look for the link on the top left of my Home page for pricing/ordering info.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Indiana locals....make time for a trip to Jacob's

This just in from my husband.  Jacob's Family Orchard  (address @ end of this post) has THE best Apple Cider Slushy (never had one) & Apple cinnamon donuts.    They offer tours; check out all they have to offer @ their website:

4676 N. County Road 75 W.
New Castle, IN 47362

Phone: 765-836-4681
Toll-Free: 877-309-3111

Snagged from Rachel Ray....These sound perfect...

..for the Fall Days ahead.

Apple Cider Floats    

2 c apple cider
1 cinnamon stick
1 c vanilla ice cream
1 Tbsp. caramel sauce
grated nutmeg

In a small saucepan, heat cider with cinnamon stick.  Pour cider into 2 float glasses.  Top with ice cream, caramel sauce and grating of nutmeg.  Serve with spoon.   Clink!!  Yummmmmmmm ~ cannot wait to try these!
Serves 2.      

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Take a step back in time with me

Bronnenberg House

The Bronnenberg house, which is a centerpiece at Mounds State Park, Anderson, In, was built by Frederick Bronnenberg, Jr., in the early 1840s.  He and his wife Hulda Tree began their family in this home.  The bricks were made from the area's clay, the foundation limestone was quarried at the edge of nearby White River, the house's interior trim is of tulip wood taken from the surrounding forest.  This house is one of the oldest in Madison County and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. 

     I wouldn't call myself a big history buff, but I do love to tour historic homes.   As stated in the brief description above, this home is located at Mounds State Park, where Doug & I often walk the trails.  We got the opportunity to view the inside recently so thought I'd share.
    The Bronnenberg's had TWELVE children.  As I walk through an old house such as this, I try to imagine myself back in those days.  Caring and providing for such a large family would be quite a task, but at the same time, there would have been many hands to help each other.   I can visualize such a group around the dining room table, and almost hear the laughter that must have filled a house with so many youngsters. 

       So many things have changed since those days.   As I noted yesterday, change has been a double-edged sword, in my opinion.  Not too many families sit around the dinner table on a regular basis anymore, and even if they do, it's likely someone's texting at the same time.  I think people back then had even MORE to do in a given day than we do in present times, yet folks tend to eat fast food or microwave something in lieu of regularly preparing tasty fare at home. 

      Things that used to provide entertainment are probably a foreign notion to most people these days.  A game of croquet?  OUTSIDE??  With each other?  I don't have much room to speak as I know I'd be absolutely lost without my laptop, but it seems to me that all this technology has created a society that's lost the ability (or maybe the inclination) to interact one on one.  I wish we'd all give ourselves the gift of slowing down once in a while. 
      Instead of popping a video game or movie in, how about playing a board game or making s'mores around a firepit in the backyard.  Take a walk or go hiking.  Join a club or volunteer somewhere as a family.

     Lest you get the idea I've completely romanticized everything about that era, I'll admit that I'm glad sleeping accomodations have improved through the years.

This is the master bed & not only was the mattress lop-sided, but sharing with another person would prove challenging!

     The closet space strikes me as less than adequate, but I must remind myself that back then our society wasn't so materialistic.  There's enough room for the few outfits they owned.  Ironing those few articles of clothing would have taken forever, though.....

Old irons
   Last but not least, I cannot imagine sharing a bathroom with ELEVEN other people, can you!??!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Is it just me?

    I've been mentally filing away things that I want to blurt out here, so today's your lucky day.  I'm going to let loose with a few thoughts and if you feel the same way or even have a different point of view, I'd love to hear it.
    My husband and I have been doing a lot of walking these past few weeks.  I'm hoping that the Achilles Tendon issue I suffered from for months is now behind me.  LOL.  Little humor there.  Or not.  Anyway, I notice things when I'm outside, trying to enjoy peace and nature.  One thing I've noticed is that some people don't know when to be quiet.  Whooping it up and SHOUTING to the point where *everyone* in the entire park can hear you may be too loud. 
     It's just a thought, as I say, but SOME people MAY be there to inhale some serenity as well as the fresh air.  I just know these are the same individuals who stand in front of the cottage cheese in the grocery store, oblivious to the fact that the store did not open their doors that day to accomodate only them.  But I digress....
     Back on the trail, a woman walks ahead of us.  I notice that she's talking on her mobile phone and the conversation appears to be a very lengthy one.  I ponder (aloud) how our society has changed so much with the advent of technology, and how, in my opinion, not all of that change has been for the best.  Maybe it's me.  Maybe I'm just old and out of touch, because my cell phone was back in the car.  Now that I think about it, I probably should carry it on me, in case of emergency.  However, if it rang, it had better BE an emergency because I'm taking a minute (or 45) for myself.  It's not just about taking "me" time, though, it's also called being considerate of others.  Maybe others don't want to hear YOUR conversation.
    I find it stupifying that people won't put down their cell phone for a nature hike but they think nothing of tossing their water/soda bottle/cup right where they took their last sip.  Evidently it's not that they want their hands free...
    Providing refuse cans isn't the issue either.  We've all seen waste thrown right NEXT to a garbage can.  Or in a beautiful babbling brook, which would have been a perfect photo opportunity, had someone had a little more consideration.  While horseback riding along a Carribean beach once, I was utterly shocked at the volume of plastic water bottles and various other refuse that had washed ashore.  As the tour guide said, once discarded, it ends up someplace.
     It was impossible to ignore; it shattered the otherwise gorgeous setting but also deeply moved me.  To this day, I can't stand to see littering; I know that somewhere, someone else's view is being distorted.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Fall Creek Heritage Festival

    This is my favorite time of year.  The temperature starts to cool down & as the leaves begin to fall off the trees, we hear them crunch under our feet when we walk park trails, admiring nature's color changes.
    I love the smells of Autumn too ~ it's time to turn the oven on again & bake all kinds of wonderful treats that we will serve with heartier fare than we dished up in warmer weather.  But we'll talk food later.  Have no fear. 
    Today I also want to share my love of Fall festivals, bazaars, craft fairs or whatever else they may be called in your neck of the woods.  Actually, I enjoy these events year round.  I've been anxiously awaiting the first of this season, which we attended today.  It was held at Falls Park, in the charming town of Pendleton, Indiana.

As you walk into the park

The park was SO beautiful, we both can't wait to add it to our places to walk & explore.  We got caught up in our lovely surroundings and taking pictures that we had to remind ourselves we were here for another purpose. ~ We were here to hit up the yard sales!    We saw several in the area; homeowners wisely taking advantage of the crowds. 

We BOTH loved this chalk board that Doug spotted.  It's now hanging in our garage.

At garage sale #2 I found THE perfect item for one blank wall in my can't see it here, but those are French wine bottle labels.  ~

Time to get back on track.....

Oh boy, I see the vendor booths!

The first thing I spy is a food booth (naturally), selling breaded tenderloin sandwiches.  After walking the ENTIRE fair, I do purchase what turns out to be THE best tenderloin I've ever had, for the best price at this particular affair. 

It started to rain just as we finished walking the rows of vendors.  This fair runs through tomorrow.  I do plan to be back next year & I'll be hoping that the tenderloin vendor returns as well.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Gardening, Round 4

     My love of cooking stems from watching my mother prepare delicious homemade meals each night for our family and for those times when she'd entertain.  When we had guests over, she made dessert ~ otherwise, we rarely were allowed sweets.  I used to pray for company because my mom made the best lemon meringue pie and butterscotch pie; those two were my favorites.

     She was a great cook, but my mother didn't want us in the kitchen & didn't teach me how to cook.  Unfortunately for my first husband, it would take a little time for me to master that on my own.  But I did.  And here we are.  Talking about FOOD when this article is really about gardening.  Ha ha....

    One of my other loves is flowers.  If I'm lucky enough to move somewhere that they've landscaped the yard at all, you can safely assume that I'll want to "enhance" it.   As with cooking, I'm a self-taught gardener and I have created three perennial flower gardens to date.  One thing I will tell you is to be patient because by the 3rd year they REALLY start to fill out and look great. Someone else has ended up enjoying "my" flower beds because I've moved FIVE times in the last 6 years.

    Maybe I was just perfecting my skills.  I can only hope that THIS is my last landscaping project. Ever.
I'm sure most of you know that we just moved into this house a little over a month ago.  The previous homeowners carved out some nice areas for landscaping, but they apparently *love* river rock.  Me, not so much.  Actually, not at all.  I feel it further dates the outside of this older home.  It MUST be enhanced!!

    First, we have to get rid of all that river rock and let me just say this.....there's enough for three yards to be landscaped.  Seriously.  Thankfully we've found a couple of folks who love this stuff enough to pay ME to shovel it for themselves.  Kinda a no-brainer.   Here's where we're at now.


It's all gone in the front!

Around the side/part of the back yard

   Progress is going much faster that I'd ever anticipated!  We have managed to plant a few perennials this summer but I'm really looking forward to next Spring/Summer when the stores will be loaded with a broader selection.

   In the meantime, I have only to look outside my office window, or step out my back door to see this:

Chuck & Beverley's cute back porch w/pergola

~She's adorned their back fence so creatively~

With neighbors like ours, fence not needed!

Chuck & Beverley's landscaping is only two years old.  As our friendship blossoms, so will the flower blooms on both sides of that invisible fence.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Perfect Holiday Dessert

Hope everyone's enjoying their Holiday weekend.  It's HOT here in Indiana, but supposed to start cooling down some tomorrow.  I'm looking forward to getting back to walking some trails as Monday & Tuesday's weather should be down into the 70's....sounds lovely!
Hubby's outside mowing, but I'm inside dreaming of cooler the perfect dessert for Labor Day (or July 4th, Memorial Day).  Seriously, once you taste it you'll realize it's fabulous ANY time.  And super, super easy.

Now, some tips in case you decide to make it:  if you don't like blueberries, for instance, just use an extra cup of  either the strawberries or the raspberries.  You may also switch up the jello base, using either strawberry OR raspberry, the latter being my personal favorite. 

Oh, and if you don't put Cool Whip (or the like) on it, then it's not "dessert" anymore, it qualifies as a serving of "Fruit" in my world.

Go look for it under All Things Sweet.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Forever etched in my heart

     The Maxwell family defines the very definition of "Southern Hospitality". 
     Doug was long overdue for a trip to TN to see his Uncle Joe, Aunt Libby & cousin Rick, so once we were settled into this new house that became a top priority.  It ended up being so much more that I'd personally expected.
     I found myself on the receiving end of prayers I've expressed for years. I came away with renewed confirmation that God DOES hear us and that if it is His will, it WILL be worth the wait.  Both Doug & I believe that everything happens for a reason and like I just said, all in God's time.  I've been waiting 53 yrs. to feel the kind of family connection that happened by the end of our first day spent with the Maxwell's. I am convinced it took that long to come to fruition because Doug's family & extended family are truly one of a kind.
     I am so honored that I've crossed paths with Joe, Lib, Rick and his wife Linda.  There simply aren't words adequate enough to express how their warm, genuine affection enveloped me and filled a void so deep that I'm forever changed.  In the face of health issues, Joe and Lib exhibited a sense of grace that is rarely found in people under far less trying circumstances.  They welcomed me into their fold as if I'd been part of the family forever.
     With heavy hearts we had to say goodbye on Thursday morning, but not before updating mailing info. and swapping email addresses.  I will forever hold the precious memories of this week in my heart. 

Uncle Joe Maxwell

Aunt Libby, Doug's cousin Rick (pink shirt)

Rick's wife, Linda & Shelly

Focus on the blessings ~

     While hubby was driving during our recent road trip, I happened upon an article in the newspaper that really fired me up.  I hope you'll indulge me for a (brief) moment.  In essence, the article quoted some woman who was ticked off that she'd spent $30-40 for batteries and related emergency supplies in preparation for Hurrican Irene.  Although the hurricane DID make landfall, it did not create the destruction that the forecasters had anticipated and therefore, this woman felt her money had been wasted and could have been spent on "shoes or a bag".  Really!??!  What in the WORLD has happened to some peoples' mindsets ~ let's all take 5 minutes and put things into perspective. 
     Shouldn't those who were in the path be grateful that their loved ones, their homes & places of business were not harmed?  Shouldn't we ALL be grateful that it did not pan out so badly because a disaster of that projected magnitute would most definitely have had a negative impact on our already shaken economy?  I'm STILL scratching my head over this. Having said that -  it's one thing to spend upwards of a hundred dollars on a generator as a precaution, and stand in line now to return it because the money would be better spent on groceries or bills.  Many of us are feeling the effects of the economy.
     If "wasting" money on emergency supplies is the biggest problem one has in life -  then for Heaven's sake, volunteer at a shelter, donate your old clothes, run an errand for an elderly neighbor, deliver meals on wheels to housebound individuals....there are literally hundreds of organizations and people that are worthy....but for the love of God, let this be a reminder that counting our BLESSINGS should be at the forefront.

"The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings" - Eric Hoffer