FAITH-FILLED LIVING | SWEET TREASURES | SIMPLE PLEASURES

Dec 31, 2010

A New Year: A New Life


There is a marked difference between losing hold of something and letting go. Certainly, we can make lists of things that we should hold fast to. Then, there are occasions when something needs to be released in order to receive the greater blessing.

In this last year, it was perfectly natural for me to fight for things that were a matter of survival. When it became clear that I needed to relinquish my hold, the "peace of God, which surpasses all understanding" stood guard over my mind and heart. At first, there was a sense of suspended animation with no evidence of change. Then, the blessings began to flow.

Two different families provided housing while we regrouped. An opportunity to move to Idaho presented itself, along with a place to stay and a job offer. In the course of about 3 months, we have been given over $3200.00, a brand new set of tires, and maintenance on my Versa.

It has been a trying week. Arrangements that appeared to be solid, changed completely. I've maneuvered through disappointment and the scrutiny of those who have never been in our shoes. But, alas, we are focused on the goal and preparing to venture north.

On Sunday, I will be taking my 2 boys to Idaho. Barry will follow shortly with the U-Haul. Soon, we will be living in an historic mountain community surrounded by snow. We will have a fresh canvas awaiting our creativity, vision, and energy. A few issues will be resolved simply because of distance. Other challenges will fade as our new roots take hold. Adventures await us! Stay tuned.

Dec 23, 2010

Vintage Christmas Cards

 

Many would love to celebrate Christmas without Christ. Yet, without a Birthday there's no party. No festivities, frolic, feasts, or flourishes. December 25th would be just another day.




May we embrace the miracle
of Christmas . . . together.


Vintage Holiday Images and Cards

Dec 22, 2010

Peace on Earth


It does a soul good to focus on the only peace that defies logic, reasoning, or understanding. I have truly felt this peace when everything around me screamed that peace was impossible!

Without a doubt, 2010 has been one of the most distracting years of my life. Any routine fell to the wayside and I moved into a fire fighting mode. Suffice it to say that a few things did slip by me.

I visited Chase last Friday to open up a new business account. The Account Specialist asked me for my drivers license. I wedged it out of the very tight plastic window of my wallet and presented it. She looked at me funny and asked me if I had current ID. I was surprised by that question because, after all, I had just handed her my drivers license. Then she pointed out that it had expired in JANUARY OF 2010! I was seriously stunned. I had to see it with my own eyes and then was left to search for some explanation.

I knew I had never received the renewal letter, which I admit I am in the habit of waiting for. I certainly didn't look at my license because the photo looks like a mugshot. And, not one of the numerous vendors who asked me for ID even noticed that it had expired!

So, since I'm accountable for what I know, I stopped driving until Barry returned from Idaho and could transport me to the DMV. Once at there, they informed me that they do not forward government documents and we had moved. Happily, I only had to take an eye test and get a new mugshot.

I had gone almost a full year without a valid license! This was just one more affirmation that God was in the midst of my distraction.

Dec 18, 2010

Our Soon-To-Be-Ida-Home


We will be spending Christmas Day at the home of my parents here in Southern California. On the 30th of December, I will be driving from California to Idaho accompanied by our 2 sons. My husband should be joining us with the U-Haul by January 10th.

I am posting from a borrowed apartment with rain splattering the windows. The apartment is directly below a landing path for the Long Beach Airport, so airplanes sound startling close. Christmas ambiance is being provided by the Hallmark Channel. Our necessities are in boxes that surround our beds and all else is in public storage.

Meanwhile, Barry (my hubby) is sitting by a pot bellied stove in Idaho City, Idaho: elevation 3,906 feet. He is enjoying a fully decorated Christmas tree in a gorgeous home covered by snowfall. And, he is being lavished by the hospitality of our dear friend, Danny.

Barry flew up to Boise on Friday to meet with his new boss and to "spy out the land," as Joyce Mahan worded it. He's never been to Idaho, so this truly is an adventure that has him laughing and chattering with boyish enthusiasm.

Via telephone, he described the herds of deer; the church we would be attending; his first mom-and-pop breakfast; and the layout of Idaho City, an old gold mining town. He cautioned me that I would need studded tires driving from Boise up into the mountain communities. (I silently wondered if he would still be flying home tomorrow.)

A few days ago, Danny asked me if I was born and raised in California. I replied with a smidgen of pride, "Yes, I am!" Danny quickly answered, "Don't tell anybody." Hence, my husband has already pinpointed the nearest Sheriff's Station so that I can take the written driver's test and immediately dress my car in Idaho plates.

And, as if landing a job on his first effort OR already having a place to stay as we forge a fresh start in Idaho isn't enough, Barry had an epiphany with Danny's neighbors. They popped by for a visit. As Barry introduced himself, he discovered that they hail from the farm community of Hamburg, Pennsylvania which is located about 20 miles north of Reading, PA . . . BARRY'S HOMETOWN! Surely, this was a sign!

Dec 14, 2010

"It's the hap-happiest season of all..."


When Chase Bank merged with WaMu (Washington Mutual) here in California, one immediate change was startling. During previous Christmas seasons at the La Habra Branch, the bank's interior had been bustling with colorful decorations and a festive mood. While the changeover was commencing, only poinsettias were allowed. Nothing was permitted the following year.

When I visited a Long Beach Chase branch yesterday, the surrounding neighborhood was festooned with lights, garland, and iconic symbols. I had just finished singing Christmas hits with a 24/7 radio station in my car. 

Inside, I was greeted by engaging employees. The newly remodeled branch was elegant and streamlined, obviously with the intent that nothing but business would interface with its appearance. They chose not to install an audio system, so any type of music was impossible.

It was clear to me that the powers that be had made no provision for Christmas. On an impulse, I pulled out my iPhone and navigated to the 711 Christmas songs in my iTunes app. Within moments, Andy Williams was singing It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year. The handsome young man helping me grinned broadly. A female employee, her eyes twinkling, peeked over the top of the cubicle and announced, "I love Christmas music!" Other staff members nodded approval and customers responded warmly as I exited the bank.

What is the corporate world afraid of? If yesterday is any indication of how a little celebration can produce a cheerful atmosphere in a banking institution, then I would think business could only benefit from it. Certainly, the staff was exemplary. Nevertheless, the stark contrast between a world in the throes of Christmas frolic and a sanitized bank is not easy to ignore.

Dec 10, 2010

600th Post!


Yesterday, I celebrated my 26th wedding anniversary and this post is officially my 600th! Alert the media! Wake up that bell ringer in the bell tower! These are things to celebrate!

As I continue to embellish my blog, I find much appeal in the above photo. I love the mixture of gifts combined with rosemary and blooming bulbs. What a pleasant way to embrace the season!

Before our move to Idaho became a reality, I was planning on making up this simple truffle recipe. I thought I would share it with you. Enjoy!

EASY TRUFFLES
Gooseberry Patch Christmas 2010

These sweets freeze well.
  • 6-oz. pkg. semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 c. butterscotch chips
  • 1 1-oz. pkg. vanilla wafers, finely crushed
  • 3/4 c. powdered sugar
  • 1/2 c. sour cream
  • 2 t. orange zest, grated
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • powdered sugar
In medium microwave-safe bowl, microwave chips together on medium power (50%) until chips soften, stirring frequently until smooth.  Stir in wafer crumbs, 3/4 cup powdered sugar, sour cream, orange zest and salt. Shape mixture into one-inch balls. Roll in powdered sugar. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator or freezer. Makes about 5 dozen.

SCROLL DOWN 2 POSTS TO READ ABOUT MY MOVE
FROM CALIFORNIA TO IDAHO!

Dec 7, 2010

Pearl Harbor Day

Courtesy of Country Living Magazine
With my life temporarily in boxes, I'm celebrating Christmas with a plethora of favorite photos! If I am unable to decorate a home, I'll embellish my blog by golly!

It's Pearl Harbor Day and my husband made a discovery. Found on all U.S. Marine Corps Honorable discharge certificates is the Latin phrase "Fideli Certa Merces," meaning “To the faithful there is certain reward." My husband showed me his own certificate explaining that he had never noticed this.

This got me to thinking. What a glorious way to leave any great endeavor! And is it not our goal to conclude our lives with an honorable discharge proclaiming the same thing?

Dec 5, 2010

Some Ida-Ho-Ho-Ho!

Courtesy of Country Living Magazine
I am a born and raised SoCal gal! I was introduced to a wind chill factor in Upstate New York during a January winter. I have never shoveled snow, nor have I missed a day of work due to a blizzard. I have tasted snow in Nebraska, driven through the Rocky Mountains in December, and tobogganed down the icy slopes of our local mountain ranges; but I have always returned to Southern California's winter climate — sometimes during a heat spell.

When we downsized our life recently by leaving a home and moving our possessions into storage, a friend of ours offered his abode in Idaho as a landing place for a new beginning. Two years ago, his wife passed away, so he had used the sale of their Southern California home to purchase a gorgeous mountain cabin northeast of Boise.


I remember reading his email and saying aloud, "Oooh, how sweet! It will never happen, but what a sweet gesture!" It was insanely impractical! They're having an early winter in Idaho and we would be leaving an elevation of 29 whole feet and transporting our family 3906 feet up a snow covered mountain! I am adventurous, curious, and hugely romantic; but even this was a huge stretch, even for me...

It was too late. A seed had been planted. The notion of a life in Idaho had already taken root in my spirit. I was wide open. I awoke with thoughts of Idaho, incubated on it during the day, Googled it, and went to bed discussing it. The irony was we were staying in a condo that was located on — of all streets — Idaho!

A series of confirmations followed. Even the friends and family that I shared this craziness with embraced the move and began to supply their own connections to Idaho. My husband-the-milkman discovered how many dairies thrive in the Boise region. We found out who manufactures the best chocolate milk which in turn led Barry to a milk distributor who has already offered him a job!

My Pampered Chef is portable and my earnings up there will go a lot further than down here. I can also continue to teach voice, pursue my writing, and move deeper into social media.

What's even more amusing is that our friend recently coiffed his long white beard to do his first Santa gig in a Boise mall. So, you might say that we're relocating to Santa's workshop just when things are winding down.

My only disappointment is that I won't be able to decorate this year. After Christmas of 2009, I picked up some wonderful Hallmark ornaments on eBay. My daughter had recently married and her departure left some obvious spaces on my tree. I will have to patiently await my first Idaho Christmas.

TO BE CONTINUED...

Nov 22, 2010

"God will throw open the doors of his sky vaults..."

Author and Minister, Graham Cooke signed a book to me, "Karen, it's going to rain. Sell your umbrella." Not only does rain represent blessing in the Bible, but I have a strong connection to it.

I adored walking to grade school on rainy days. My mom grew up with snow so she wasn't inclined to give us (my brothers and me) rides unless there was lightning or a serious downpour. This pleased me because I was nuts about getting completely soaked and I rarely kept my umbrella overhead.

The trick was circumventing the goodwill of those pulling over to offer me a ride. Declining their rescue effort was not exactly reasonable.

My teacher would lay my wet coat or sweater over heaters that lined the wall beneath the windows. I would sit at my desk, water squishing out of my socks and shoes, not minding the extra attention at all.

As I matured, I had hair and make-up to consider. My clothing and shoes were not as forgiving. I couldn't afford to have the contents of my purse compromised by water. Hey, I had appearances to keep up. (But I still missed getting wet.)

When approaching rain spiritually, especially in the challenging season that I find myself, I yearn for what rain brings: life, replenishment, refreshing, cleansing, healing... There is nothing like being under the shower-head of heaven.

Soak me in your presence Daddy God. Saturate me in your love and purpose. Use your sweet rain to drench me with renewal.

Deuteronomy 28:12-13 (NIV)
12 The LORD will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands. You will lend to many nations but will borrow from none. 13 The LORD will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the LORD your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom.

Deuteronomy 28:12-13 (MSG)
12-13 God will throw open the doors of his sky vaults and pour rain on your land on schedule and bless the work you take in hand. You will lend to many nations but you yourself won't have to take out a loan. God will make you the head, not the tail; you'll always be the top dog, never the bottom dog, as you obediently listen to and diligently keep the commands of God, your God, that I am commanding you today.

Nov 16, 2010

Interim


If turkeys drive around in a corny roadster, do they say "Cobble-Cobble?" Okay, at least this vintage Thanksgiving greeting is clever.

The word "interim" describes my life at the moment...

1. an intervening time; interval; meantime: in the interim.
2. a temporary or provisional arrangement; stopgap; makeshift.

Since January 2010, my husband experienced pay cuts and I lost a job of 12 years; we changed churches and faced new parenting challenges. We are living with friends while we find a less expensive place to live. We moved our belongings into 3 storage units one week ago. I have a PO-Box and enough storage keys to be dangerous. We have a brief window to find another place.

Coming into Fall, I was looking forward to 2 events that I have participated in before: one for almost a decade. Both have been cancelled.

Change. Sometimes it feels so surreal that I keep expecting to hear, "We now return control of your television set to you..." And yet I know God is up to something.

The irony is, in the midst of all this transition, I hit one of my first milestones in the Pampered Chef! I have been a consultant for almost a year and a half. Many of our challenges have cost me time and money and yet, in the midst of the storm, I scored a huge victory!

What's even more bizarre is that a friend who moved out of state has made an offer to us that keeps rising to the forefront of our decision making. It would involve a huge step of faith and would shift me away from all I have known in this life. Hmm...

Nov 7, 2010

Falling Back: Moving Forward

We fall back this morning. I'm surrounded by stacked and labeled boxes, and a plethora of belongings, pulled out of cupboards and closets, that can't possibly all belong to us! I really should be in bed, but after today is over, I may not be able to post for a few days.

My path to and from an event yesterday afternoon served as a reminder of how the daily rituals of our lives, the patterns and the familiar, can meet with unexpected interruption. I drove by the performing arts studio where I was employed for over 15 years until August. My daughter was groomed in the dance there, eventually becoming an inspiring and passionate dance instructor. She, too, has been let go. The staff and enrollment appears to be crumbling into non-existence.

I passed the Von's corner grocery store where my favorite checkers and I chat on a daily basis. Due to the local Walmart adding a grocery store — which doesn't even appeal to me — several of my favorite Von's employees have been transfered quite a distance away.

Then, I approached our home. After losing income since last December, we have had no choice but to move. I don't think I have enjoyed an abode more. It sits atop a hill that affords a gorgeous vista of the surrounding hills and mountain ranges. I will miss the neighbors, the soothing breezes, the assortment of rose bushes in the backyard, and the palm trees along the driveway that always seem to be waving at God.

As if moving were not enough, our teenage son ditched school on Monday and then again on Thursday, only he hasn't returned home. We had no clue of his whereabouts until I received a text message late last night which indicates that he is holing up in an unsafe part of town. The revelations we received after having several visits from police officers have definitely informed us of the slippery slope our son is on.

Officer Hentcy saw a Bible sitting in our living room and asked me to hand it to him. He then proceeded to share some encouraging Scripture. He even returned to tell me that a Christian radio station was airing a message on parenting that I might be interested in. The officer knew Mercedez, a Straight Talk worker who has recently volunteered to reach out to our son. It turns out that his wife works beside her and he recommended that we follow through.

What's ludicrous is that my Pampered Chef business was hindered by my son's consequences and mandatory appointments. Yet, in the midst of this turmoil, I actually conducted 2 Cooking Shows this week! I would have postponed if it weren't for the peace of God.

One lady arrived at today's Cooking Show almost 2 and 1/2 hours after the event had started. I was just finishing when she boldly spoke up. She told me that the Lord had laid a Scripture on her heart for me. She recited the verse and then proceeded to pray a Holy Ghost prayer that had every one of my guests and myself coming into agreement! As Smith Wigglesworth once said, "God is never late for an appointment."

Isaiah 49:17-18 (NIV)

17 Your children hasten back, 
and those who laid you waste depart from you. 
18 Lift up your eyes and look around; 
all your children gather and come to you. 
As surely as I live,” declares the LORD, 
“you will wear them all as ornaments; 
you will put them on, like a bride.

I have never had a police officer come into my home and ask for a Bible. Nor have I experienced a Pampered Chef Cooking Show that segued into intercession! Even though we are placing our belongings in storage and have yet to find a new place to live, God has made it incredibly clear that He is in the midst of our storm.


Oct 31, 2010

Autumn: Vintage Magazine Covers

Please enjoy these vintage September and October issues of McCalls, Good Housekeeping, Modern Priscilla, and Sunday Magazine. You will notice that some of the covers aren't typical of what one would expect for a Fall theme.










Oct 23, 2010

Day to Day


Like so many of you, my first inclination at the first signs of Fall is to cozy up the house, put some logs on the fire, and break out the comfort foods. Yet, when trials coincide with this season, stress can be a scene stealer.

Barry and I are not the only ones facing huge challenges right now. Almost daily, I am hearing reports and receiving prayer requests that can only be remedied by God's miraculous provision. Two days ago, I found out that 4 of my close friends lost their jobs! And, my own family is facing crucial financial deadlines that threaten to upturn our lives.

Years ago, after enduring a 7-year cycle of layoffs, my husband found himself deferring pleasure until things returned to normal. "Normal" never came and he was forced to acknowledge that precious opportunities were being wasted. As Margaret Bonnano put it, "It is only possible to live happily-ever-after on a day-to-day basis."

I refuse to dispense with living: even in the midst of trials! Thankfully, there are some weight lifting anecdotes for heavy burdens!

Psalm 55:22 (The Message) says, "Pile your troubles on God's shoulders — he'll carry your load, he'll help you out. He'll never let good people topple into ruin." God never intended us to be pack mules buckling with burdens. 1 Peter 5:7 (The Message) tells us to, "Live carefree before God; he is most careful with you."

But here's what really keeps us from sinking. In Matthew 14:22-36 (NKJ), the disciples were being battered with waves at sea. They were terrified when they saw what they thought to be a ghost walking across the water.

27 But Jesus immediately said to them: "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid."
28 "Lord, if it's you," Peter replied, "tell me to come to you on the water."
29 "Come," he said."

Peter obeyed, but he didn't walk on water: he walked on the Word. And, even when Peter began to focus on the mind-blowing nature of his circumstances, Jesus immediately rescued him as he began to sink!

This speaks volumes to us! First, the Word keeps us buoyant! Secondly, God never abandons us. He is always offering a steadying hand when we lose our sea legs!

My husband and I are taking God's Word personally by declaring what Scripture says and inserting our names into it. We are making daily Faith withdrawals from the Bank of Heaven! As we lift Him up, He lifts us up! Our spirits become peaceful; and despite imperfection, we are able to take pleasure in each day!


Be-LEAF-able!

Brilliant Fall IV by Georgie
PosterUnlimited.com

Oct 18, 2010

Balancing Act

I just looked at the date of my last post. Yikes! Did I blink or something? Well, I have been working on a more ambitious blog project. After tinkering with it for days, I acknowledged that I need to run the bigger projects in the background while posting smaller pieces. Live and learn.

I was listening to the Focus on the Family radio podcast today and Richard A. Swenson M.D., author of In Search of Balance - Keys to a Stable Life, was using humor to diagnose our changing times. He mentioned that it was predicted in 1967 that by 1987 people would be working 22-hour work weeks. Now, that's funny!

Max Lucado said, "We're the only nation in the world with a mountain named Rushmore." Mary Pipher was quoted as saying, "If we let culture just happen to us, we'll all end up exhausted, addicted, broke, with a houseful of junk and no time."

Statistics can be sobering. For instance, there is no proof that a man has ever been shot while doing the dishes. Men, take note!

Other Statistics:
  • 36% of Americans describe themselves as being rushed all the time.
  • We're interrupted 202 times a day.
  • We spend 8 months of our lives opening junk mail.
  • We spend one year of our life searching through the clutter on our desk for misplaced objects. Most missing items are just 10 inches away.
  • We spend 2 years of our lives trying to call people who aren't in or their lines are busy (or their just standing by the phone listening to us leave a message.)
  • The average American gets 2.5 hours less sleep than 100 years ago. Some of this is due to the invention of electricity. In 1850 people got 9.5 hours of sleep a night.
  • 50 to 70 million Americans have sleep disorders: 27% of Americans fell asleep while driving last year.
  • Migraine headaches are up 60% since the last decade.
  • Jennifer Glass, University of Iowa, discovered that it takes 20-30 phone calls in the average church to get the same number of volunteers it used to take 2-3 phone calls to get.
  • 85% of Christians do their praying on the run.
There are some who feel that balance is unachievable in our hustle-and-bustle, often overachieving times. I strongly disagree. As a Christian, I strive for balance every day through the Word of God and by partnering with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit loves to interact with our days and ways. I wouldn't be surprised if he coined the phrase, "Work smarter, not harder."

Oct 6, 2010

This and That

I think it's more fun to decorate when one's budget is sub par. The "survivor" emerges with resolve and a gathering basket! Common items stand ready to pose for possibilities!

I have an Italian white glass lamp with a swirl pattern. It's one piece of glass with a rounded base and a traditional lampshade toward the top. The entire lamp lights up. An extra perk is that it attracts and subtracts insects in the warmer months.

White is too stark for fall, so I grabbed a sheer April Cornell scarf and accessorized the lamp. I added an inexpensive white pumpkin and a fall wreath I had tucked away. Voila! A vignette was born.


I popped over to Blue Mountain and they have a bevy of free screensavers. My favorite is "Flying South." It's an animated screensaver with multiple layers of green to rustic hues, serenely swaying leaves, and realistic silhouettes of flying and perched birds. It's mesmerizing. Below are some stills. Click HERE for the download.




Fall is teasing us again. The rain has ended and by Sunday we'll be back in the 90's again. So, while sipping my French Press coffee, I'm going to savor this last bit of cold weather.

Oct 3, 2010

The Skipper


We went boating yesterday on a 30 Foot Bayliner Cruiser (with 2 Chevrolet V8 engines) in Dana Point, California. The McNaughton's invited Barry and I to be their guests and what a time we had! Despite our recent erratic weather, the day was made to order.

Here, my husband Barry is skippering the boat while keeping watch for dolphins! (He was looking quite foxy in his Penn State Hawaiian shirt.) It wasn't long before we were surrounded by a large pod of common dolphins.

I took these pictures with my older generation iPhone. I had forgotten my reading glasses at home which meant I was limited to the point-and-click method. Thankfully, I received adequate results.


There are several types of whales in this region, too. They didn't make an appearance.

Eye on L.A. filmed a Whale and Dolphin Safari which happened to be what we were using as a reference point. Click HERE to get a better idea of what we were seeing.

Oct 1, 2010

Sell Your Umbrella

I was awakened by the percussion section of a rogue storm. Loud crashing symbols sounded overhead. Rain pummeled the pavement while sunshine splashed brightly in the background.

The Weather Channel did not prepare us for this. With our recent high temperatures in Southern California, this storm was a surprise.

As I was steeping some Sundae Parlour tea, I kept running like a small child to our giant picture window. I love weather! It has a way of putting things into perspective.

Christian author, Graham Cooke, autographed one of his books to me with, "Karen, it's going to rain. Sell your umbrella." I knew exactly what he meant. In the Bible, rain represents blessings.
If you live by my decrees and obediently keep my commandments, I will send the rains in their seasons, the ground will yield its crops and the trees of the field their fruit. You will thresh until the grape harvest and the grape harvest will continue until planting time; you'll have more than enough to eat and will live safe and secure in your land. -Leviticus 26:3-5 (MSG)
My family is in need of miracles right now and I truly don't want an umbrella coming between us and blessing. If it weren't for the lightning, I could have easily slipped out into the downpour and soaked up every drop!
Unrelenting disappointment leaves you heartsick, but a sudden good break can turn life around. -Proverbs 13:12 (MSG)
For several days, we have been praying for many sudden good breaks. The sudden occurrence of this rain proves how quickly things can change. As in the natural, so in the spiritual.


Sep 29, 2010

An Arm Wrestle and Bacon Crisp

Redbook Magazine, September 1933
Notice the lovely cover girl in this 1933 edition of Redbook Magazine. She shows no signs of donning a woolen sweater. Likewise, here in Southern California, Summer is having an arm wrestle with Fall. Our deserts cannot compete with our recent coastal temperatures! After hitting a record breaking 113˚ in Los Angeles on Monday, the heat has at least relented and loosened its grip for a few days. Hallelujah!

I hosted a Pampered Chef Open House on Saturday. It was called "Happy Fall Y'All." My Southern gal-pals inspired the name. {I like to think that I'm a little bit Southern by association.)

I thoroughly enjoyed the ladies who attended the event! They graced my home with their laughter, good conversation, and love for good food!

My husband, Barry, cooked up Paula Deen's "Bacon Crisp" for the event. An undeniable hit! We all made numerous trips to the buffet table. In fact, Barry did a take-two on Sunday! 

Paula Deen's cooking satisfies comfort food cravings to be sure. And, we were able to admit that many of her best recipes aren't exactly low in fat, cholesterol, or sugar. We were speculating that maybe Paula's body has already given out and the network is just superimposing her image into the cooking shows.

Below is the recipe. We did the quick version because it was so hot here, but I'm thinking the slow version might even be tastier. Let me know.

BACON CRISP
Recipe courtesy Paula Deen
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan 
  • 1 sleeve buttery rectangular crackers (recommended: Waverly Wafers: here in California, I was only able to find Keebler Club Crackers) 
  • 1 pound sliced bacon cut in 1/2 
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.

Place 1 teaspoon of the cheese on each cracker and wrap tightly with a strip of bacon. Place the wrapped crackers on a broiler rack on a baking sheet and put the baking sheets on the oven rack. Bake for 2 hours, or until the bacon is done. Do not turn. Drain on paper towels. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Cook's note: You can also bake at 350 degrees F for 40 minutes if you're in a hurry! 

Recipe Summary
Difficulty: Easy
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Yield: 24 bacon crisps
User Rating: 4 Stars

Episode#: PA0509
Copyright © 2006 Television Food Network, G.P., All Rights Reserved

Sep 23, 2010

Autumn and A Winner!


Ellen Barbara Segner - Illustrator
Well Known for Little Miss Sunbeam and Dick and Jane Readers

Doesn't this illustration set the course for Fall? Ellen Barbara Segner not only had a corner on the "sweet and wholesome" market, but I learned that she, like many other painters of her era, also painted provocative pinup girls.  Frankly, I'll stick with her more innocent works. 

I'm excited because today I got to select the winner of my "It's Almost Autumn Tea Giveaway!" {I used Random Generator.}

And, the winner is . . . Sandi at the WhistleStop Cafe! Sandi wrote: "Tea is my afternoon soother ~ A Friday favorite for sure!" Well, Sandi, you will soon have a new, seasonal tea to soothe you!

If you don't know what Fannie Flagg, The Irondale Cafe, and green fried tomatoes have in common, then Sandi is the perfect person to fill you in.  She and her family once owned and operated a wonderful slice of Americana before purveying "Down Home and Delicious" WhistleStop products. Click HERE to read the history and HERE to visit her blog.

Visit the WhistleStop Shop

Sep 20, 2010

If You Carrot All

Baby Caleb's First Encounter with Carrots

In-Blog-Neato!

I'm participating in a Tea Swap thanks to Joyce Mahan of The Secret Gardener. Georgia Woodson, of Southern California, has been my tea-lightful partner for the last 2 months. What a blessing she is!

This month's theme is "Back to School." Georgia expressed how grateful she is that her getting-up-for-school days are over. I wish I could say amen to that, but I'll be driving boys to school for the next 8 years! I'll be 60 when it comes to a hault!

Georgia wrote about a tea tradition she shares with her sister at Christmas and she carefully itemized the teas she had selected for me. We have a mutual passion for Harney and Son's, which happens to be what I sent to her this month.

Everything pictured above is from Georgia with the exception of the tray and teacup. The teas include Black Currant, Imperial Gold, and Decaffeinated Rich Black Tea in individual bags; and Chocolate Mint and Winter White Earl Gray in silken sachets.  In addition to tea, she blessed me with seasonal teacup note cards with tea bags inserted, two adorable pins, and Kimberly Shaw Christmas tea stickers.

Thank-you, Georgia! You are amazing!

NOTE: My "It's Almost Autumn Tea Giveaway" ends in 3 days. Scroll down to enter!

Don't Miss It!

A Tea Giveaway! Scroll Down to Enter.

Sep 19, 2010

Spiritual Sundays: A Future and a Hope

Check out "Spiritual Sunday's" for more posts.

In Heaven's eyes, our setback is already God's comeback! Allow me to share an event that God is masterfully turning around for good!

I have taught voice and drama for over 14 years. In early August, my employer informed me that she was not renewing my contract with the studio. She explained that it was her problem, not mine; and that I had done nothing wrong.

I recognized her struggles but I was stunned by this conclusion. While co-workers were able to support and encourage my contributions, my boss could offer very little that was positive.

Sep 16, 2010

Be-LEAF-able!

Ellen Barbara Segner - Illustrator
Well Known for Little Miss Sunbeam and Dick and Jane Readers

Many of you have been sharing your favorite fall comforts on my "It's Almost Autumn Tea Giveaway" post. The images are delicious!  I began to reflect and I do believe that it was grade school that first captured my affection for fall.

Southern California is an irrigated desert, so we don't witness a substantial change in our landscape. Most trees retain their leaves and others shed foliage with little or no fanfare. Aside from a noticeable drop in temperature and seasonal flower-beds ceasing to bloom, it's pretty much business-as-usual.

I did have a nibble of fall at the home where my parents still reside.  They have a Liquid Amber tree in their front yard that mimics a Maple.  The leaves turn crimson, burnt orange, and yellow; and the green prickly pods become russet.

Yet, my truest connection to fall was at William F. Prisk Elementary School. Each September, on the first day of school, I would locate my desk, take inventory of new and returning students, and then check to see how my teacher had cozied up the room.

There was always an autumn themed calendar with apples or leaves numbering the days. Bulletin boards were a collage of varietal apples, baskets, the token rake, and trees blazing with color.

My name was neatly written as "Karen M" on apples or foliage simply because there were 5 Karen's in my grade. Once, briefly, at least 4 of us were in the same classroom!

Then there were the beautiful text book illustrations much like the one above. I could have gazed endlessly at sweater clad children diving into piles of leaves or following leaf-littered paths to school.  In essence, the California classroom treated us to a fall we weren't able to experience first hand.

NOTE: Scroll down for my "It's Almost Autumn Tea Giveaway!"

Image Courtesy of American Art Archives


Sep 12, 2010

"It's Almost Autumn Tea Giveaway!"

THE WINNER HAS BEEN CHOSEN! SEE MY 9-23-10 POST.

Fall doesn't begin until the 22nd of this month, but you can tell by my music that I am an eager beaver! No leaf left behind!  Especially "tea" leaves! In fact my my favorite letter in AUTUMN is T! So, let's begin this season properly, shall we?

I am giving away this scrumptious 4 ounce tin of Harney and Sons Cranberry Autumn loose tea!  Check out its description: "The tangy sweet citrus fragrance of Cranberry Autumn evokes euphoria. Dried cranberry and orange bits are blended with handpicked black teas from China and India producing a full-bodied brew as delicious as its scent. Ideally sweet and tart, this black tea expresses exceptionally smooth and flavorful tones. Fall in love with the sweet fruit aroma whilst sipping the exquisite mahogany red of Cranberry." Sound delectable?

THE HOW-TO'S
  1. FOLLOW ME on the right sidebar (if you haven't already). 
  2. LEAVE A COMMENT telling me what you love about Fall! 
  3. EXTRA ENTRIES: You will receive 1 extra entry for each person you refer to this Giveaway. Make sure that they mention your name in their comments. 
  4. DEADLINE: September 22nd at Midnight PST; the first day of Fall!

Sep 11, 2010

Remembering 9-11

Photo by Det. Greg Semendinger, Courtesy of CBS News
We cannot afford to go to sleep! We must keep a prayer vigil over this country, always holding images of the innocent 9-11 victims before us; and lifting up the heroic servants and soldiers who protect and secure our freedom!

Sep 8, 2010

Pianos and Monster Movies

A few years back, Briana (my daughter) and I visited a piano showroom in Los Angeles County. We were greeted by George, a Germanic man sitting obtrusively behind a small desk. His broad square shoulders, ample head, and angular facial features suited his low rumbling voice. George could have rivaled Boris Karloff's Frankenstein simply by adding cosmetic scars and bolts.

 
Boris Karloff as Himself and Frankenstein

It wasn't that George was ugly. He just naturally had the characteristics of a classic movie monster: even more so when standing.  What balanced our first impression was his genuinely sweet demeanor.

Then we met, Max...

Max was their blind piano tuner.  He maneuvered through the showroom much like Marty Feldman's depiction of Igor (Eye-gor) in Young Frankenstein (minus the shifting hump.) He would stroke each piano almost as if he was waiting for it say something.

Later we were escorted back to the office area where we encountered Tom, the peppy owner, and his bald Chinese wife, Alice.  Alice spoke perfect English and they both easily joked about her hair loss.  Briana and I dared not look at one another.

We still laugh about this because it was so offbeat and unexpected. And, since I wasn't ready to do so, I postponed buying a piano.

We did learn something about appearances though. Tom shared with us that he and Alice run an orphanage in China. They rescue children that have been discarded due to poverty, imperfection, or just because they were born females. Tom and Alice have pulled live babies from trash heaps and adopted a few children as their own.

George — the gentle giant — helps to operate the piano business while Tom and Alice are away. And, he conducts a Bible Study in his free time.

It felt like we had entered an old movie set. Nevertheless, these unusual people had hearts of gold, and they were unreservedly surrendered to God and shedding His love abroad.

Susy DeLucca, of The Feathered Nest, summed it up like this: "Shows you can't judge a piano by it's tuner."

AN ASIDE: I recently discovered that Boris Karloff was not from Russia or any country in that region. He was born in England in 1887 as William Henry Pratt. He had an Anglo-Indian heritage and his grandmother, Eliza Julia (Edwards) Pratt, was the sister of Anna Leonowens, whose memoirs about the royal life in Siam inspired the musical, The King and I.

[The above story is true.  The names have been changed.]