Thanksgiving Smorgasbord

Thanksgiving is just that. . . A time for thanks, and a time for giving. As you share your home with others this Thanksgiving, share your faith, traditions, and your recipes! Here are some of my favorite recipes fitting for the Thanksgiving holiday. Click on the photo to go to the recipe.



Mac n Cheese

Mac n Cheese

Sweet Potato Pie

Sweet Potato Pie

Butternut Squash

Butternut Squash

Lemon Pound Cake

Lemon Pound Cake

Collard Greens

Collard Greens

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month


Domestic Violence is a pattern of behavior used to establish power and control over another person through fear and intimidation, often including the threat or use of violence. I personally wanted to bring awareness to this ugly tragedy. So here are some facts, and information on domestic violence, to keep you in the “know”.

  • #1 FACT: Most domestic violence incidents are never reported.
  • 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence during her lifetime.
  • Domestic violence and abuse can happen to anyone, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, income, or other factors.
  • Women and men can be victims of domestic violence.`
  • More than 60% of domestic violence incidents happen at home
  • Domestic violence is the third leading cause of homelessness among families
  • Women ages 18 to 34 are at greatest risk of becoming victims of domestic violence.
  • More than 4 million women experience physical assault and rape by their partners.
  • In 2 out of 3 female homicide cases, females are killed by a family member or intimate partner.

Here are some possible warning signs that a partner is abusive or could become abusive from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

  • Monitors what you’re doing all the time, checks your phone, texts, calls or email
  • Decides things for you that you should be allowed to decide (like what to wear or eat)
  • Isolates you from friends and family
  • Humiliates you in front of others
  • Controls how you spend your money
  • Downplays your feelings or your fears, calls you “crazy” or “overly-dramatic”
  • Forces you to have sex against your will
  • Threatens to harm himself or herself when upset with you
  • Threatens to hurt you, your children, or pets
  • Hurts you (by hitting, beating, pushing, shoving, punching, slapping, kicking, or biting)

Help change the facts. Speak up, speak out, and make a difference for victims of domestic violence.

National Domestic Violence Hotline: A confidential, free, 24-hour hotline for victims
LoveIsRespect: A confidential, free, 24-hour hotline to help teens
The U.S. Office for Victims of Crime: Offers a state-by-state breakdown of available legal and financial assistance for victims of crimes Offers a tool to find shelters and/or legal help in your area–facts-52.html

It Really is a Small World . . . An Amazing Story!

April 1978

Rustling…….Whispering……… I awake from a deep sleep and focus on 3 dark figures in the night, but I’m not alarmed because this scenario is becoming all too frequent.

Another night that the pulled out couch in my room is being used. Now a 13 year old girl needs her beauty sleep…what gives? I settle in and continue my ever so important sleep.When I awake in the morning, there lay 2 small girls sound asleep on the pull-out couch. I ignore them, as I tip toe about getting ready for school, trying to avoid the large couch that occupies more than half the floor space.

When I arrive home after school everything is arranged neatly back in it’s place in my room, like nothing ever happened.  Continue reading

Autumn Aroma

Road in New Hampshire

The weather in New England never ceased to amaze me when I lived there. It could go from a sizzling summer day to full-on autumn in the blink of an eye.  That “autumn state of mind” is what I miss most about Boston. That 60s and below chill in the air, those bright gorgeous oranges, golds, yellows and reds against a blue flawless sky, and the smell of fallen leaves is what I miss most. When I first moved to California, my college room-mate sent me pressed leaves from Connecticut. She’ll never know how much that meant to me!

Autumn is my favorite season. Here in California we don’t pack away the flip-flops and flimsy summer outfits until almost November. We continue to have warm days, but despite the lack of fall pizzazz here in Southern California, the Fall soon brings cool nights, and morning fog.  Autumn is a time for high school and Monday Night Football. NBA Basketball creeps its way into our home at the end of October. The days grow shorter and the nights are longer. Somehow this “autumn state of mind” prepares my body to long for quiet indoor days, curled up with a hot mug in hand, reading by the fire. Autumn brings cornucopia foods to the table. Fresh squash and yams, apples, pears and cranberries. Stews, Chilies, and roasts soon fill up the house with warmth and succulent aroma.

Kick off the Fall season by filling your home with the aromatic benefits of essential oils. Diffuse clove, rosemary and orange essential oil. Clove provides anti-bacterial properties, while Rosemary promotes clear thinking, and Orange burns toxins in your body.


Caring for Your Essential Oils

Photo Sep 07, 11 01 20 PM

Now that you have your essential oils, and are beginning to use them regularly, it’s important that you store them properly. Although essential oils do not become rancid, they do oxidize, deteriorate and lose their beneficial therapeutic properties over time. Oils such as citrus oils will oxidize and begin to lose their aroma and therapeutic properties in as little as six months, especially if they are kept in the heat. The aroma of essential oils such as Patchouli and Sandalwood mature with age. Make sure to store your oils in amber or cobalt blue bottles. All essential oils should be stored in a cool dark place. Value your essential oils, they support you and your family’s health, and should become an essential part of your lifestyle.

Daily Oil Use

Photo Sep 02, 6 26 31 PM

Do You Use Your Essential Oils Daily? Essential Oils are becoming a very practical, healthy, safe, and cost-effective way to care for your family’s health and wellness. How can you share these great products with others if you aren’t quiet sure how they work yourself? When someone has an upset stomach or a headache what is your first response? The local pharmacy? Using essential oils “becomes a way of life”. Once you get in the groove of using the oils in your life everyday, they become your first “go to” whenever someone is not feeling well, physically or emotionally. If you would like to learn more about essential oils and incorporating them into your daily routine, I’m offering a free consultation. Email me to set up a consultation.

The Perfect Grad Gift

Looking for something to get the Graduate this year? Here are some great gifts for grads for 2015.

If your favorite grad is heading off to Europe, or doing a cross-country road trip before joining the workforce get them a travel accessory that will enhance all of their vacation photos while staying bulk free. Get the Olloclip, a clip-on lens that lets you take more detailed photos with your iPhone.




For those who can’t shell out for a computer, look for quality headphones. They’re ideal for jamming on the way to work or class and while studying in loud dorms.



While board games may seem a little old-fashioned, they can be a perfect way to make friends on a rainy day. Go for classics like Monopoly or Sorry.


Ice Cream – Heaven in a quart

“I’m sure they’ll be ice cream in heaven, and it’ll taste 100% times better, but while I’m still here on earth, I won’t deny thyself!”

Ice cream has always been one of my favorite deserts. I guess I would go as far as calling it a pastime because there are so many memories connected to this incredibly creamy, frozen delight. I definitely inherited this trait from my dad.  I actually remember acquiring a taste for it. We were living in Weston, Connecticut at the time. There was a little ice cream stand along the side of the road in Wilton, CT called Heibeck’s. It was only open during the summer back then, which made it even more desirable. It’s still there today. It is here that I acquired a taste for ice cream.


A little Ice Cream History
Ice cream has long been called the Great American Dessert. Although no specific date of origin or inventor has been credited with the discovery of ice cream, it’s origin reaches back to 200 BC. The discovery of iced drinks, and fruit flavored snow during the Roman Empire, was just the beginning. The traditional ice cream recipe evolved during the 16th century in Europe, and included a blend of milk, cream, butter and eggs.

Ice cream came to America in the 1700’s, and was considered an exotic dessert enjoyed by the elite. It didn’t become popular to the masses until the discovery of the insulated ice house in the late 1800’s. Ice cream production increased because of technological innovations, including steam power, mechanical refrigeration, the homogenizer, electric power and motors, packing machines, new freezing processes and equipment, and vehicles for delivery. (International Dairy Foods Assoc.)

Today total frozen dairy annual production in the United States is more than 1.6 billion gallons, and I’m a true supporter!

Making Ice Cream
So I continue to be a supporter of the ice cream industry, but today, because my husband purchased me an ice cream maker for Christmas, I make my own. I held off buying an ice cream maker for the obvious reasons. . . I already have enough junk in my trunk, but maybe I would be encouraged to make some healthy ice cream, gelato, and sorbet, right? Well, that hasn’t happened yet, but it’s not over until the “fat” lady sings (I’m not singing yet).


I use a Breville Ice Cream Maker. This fully automatic ice cream maker blends frozen desserts, from sorbet to ice cream to gelato, in your choice of consistency, from soft-serve style to hard pack, in less than an hour. It takes about 45 minutes for me to make ice cream from start to finish! The machine also keeps the ice cream cool if you’re not ready to eat it yet, and your guests are still polishing off your homemade BBQ dinner.

Since I got the ice cream maker, I have tried a few recipes using different ingredients. I have settled on a fairly simple recipe for the base of the ice cream. Although many ice cream recipes call for egg yolk, I didn’t like using eggs. Eggs bind the ice cream, and make it a chewy consistency. You also have to cook the base, and let it cool (too much time). Many recipes call for milk. Milk has too much water in it, making the ice cream icy as it sits in the freezer. So here is my recipe; not rocket science, but it makes a creamy, wonderfully consistent base.  This recipe base can be used for any ice cream maker.

Ice Cream Base Recipe
1 can Sweetened Condensed Milk 14oz
2 cups Half and Half (or whipping cream)
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp vanilla extract (or real vanilla bean)
Directions: Electric Mix extract with sweetened condensed milk. Add in Half and Half. Mix well with hand mixer. Add into Ice cream machine. Chill in air tight container for a few hours. Makes 1 Quart.

Using this base, I’m able to make flavored ice creams by adding the flavor of a specific ice cream to the sweetened condensed milk. Following are several other ice cream recipes showing how this is done.

Chocolate Ice Cream
1 can Sweetened Condensed Milk 14oz
2 cups Half and Half (or whipping cream)
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 Cup Hershey’s Coco Powder Special Dark
Directions: Electric Mix Coco well with condensed milk. Add in extract, and Half and Half. Mix well. Add into Ice cream machine. Chill in air tight container for a few hours. Makes 1 Quart.

Coffee Ice Cream
1 can Sweetened Condensed Milk 14oz
2 cups Half and Half (or whipping cream)
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp coffee extract
6 Tbsp. Instant Coffee (I use decaf)
Directions: Electric Mix Instant Coffee well with condensed milk. Add in extract, and Half and Half. Mix well. Add into Ice cream machine. Chill in air tight container for a few hours. Makes 1 Quart.

So there you have it. I’ll end with a few tips. Happy makin’. More ice cream recipe ideas on my Pinterest.

  • Store ice cream in an air tight safe container. Ice cream lasts 1-2 weeks
  • Lay plastic wrap over newly made ice cream before sealing
  • Store in the back of the freezer to avoid melting when door opens and closes
  • Avoid using ingredients with alot of water, ice cream will get icy

Super Bowl 2015 Menu


Super Bowl fun happening on Sunday. Food is at the top of the list. Here are a few top recipe ideas for your Superbowl Menu!

Winter Chili


Deviled Eggs


Several Wings Recipes

country sweet

The Best Darn Ham Sandwiches


Banana Pudding Cake


New Beginnings


I’m trying to get back on track with my blog. So much going on at the start of the new year. The holidays were wonderful as always spending time with family and friends.

I usually stay away from New Year’s resolutions, but I do try to make some specific goals to at least strive for during the year. Maybe if I write them down, and share them, you all will keep me accountable!

  • Grow my Graphic Design business – I’m now a member of BNI (Prosperity Partners). If you belong to a BNI chapter, shout it out at me!
  • Begin new ministry – I’m beginning a new ministry in Essential Oils. Visit my new website The Oily Girl to learn more about Essential Oils
  • Grow Essential Oil Blog
  • Study 3 books of the bible (maybe an online bible study)
  • Clean out closets and storage areas – It’s so time to rid myself of old items, especially since the kids are on their way out.
  • Achieve significant natural hair growth by May (one year anniversary)

Whew. . . I think that’s enough for now. I have other things I would like to achieve, but writing them down might be a little overwhelming.

Have you written down your goals for 2015? Share them, it might keep you accountable.

Downton Abbey is back!


The last season episode of “Downton Abbey” always makes my stomach churn, and leaves my soul with a sense of emptiness. Oh how I miss those British accents, the spectacular scenery of the Downton mansion, and the peculiar ways that Downton is run and managed by its dedicated servants.

Every Sunday evening I sit in front of my large screen TV mesmerized, completely sucked back into the 19th century. At 10pm when the music plays at the end of the episode, I blink several times, slowly letting my eyes wander outside of the television view, and I breathe a sigh of disappointment that another episode is completed in the countdown.

“Downton Abbey” returns for Season 5 on Sunday, January 4th, 9pm ET. The year is 1924. Hello “Roaring Twenties!”

What a fabulous decade. A decade of great dramatic social and political change, which I’m sure will be very evident in this year’s “Downton Abbey” episodes. The “new” woman of the 20th century was called a “flapper”. Although most 20th century woman did not participate in the new found social ways of bobbing the hair, wearing short skirts, and publicly smoking and drinking, many of them gained significant freedoms.

The 19th Amendment allowed woman in the United States to vote in 1920. Jazz became the main genre of the music industry in the 20’s, bringing along with it the freedom to dance: the Charleston, the cake walk, the black bottom, the flea hop. White collar jobs became more available to women as economic growth swept the nation. New machines and technologies allowed more conveniences to woman in the home, and the sexual revolution took off with the increased availability of birth control.

Don’t forget to catch up on Season 4 episodes this week. In my British accent, “The Roaring 20’s” will make a great splash in Downton this season, looking forward to Sunday’s opening theme promptly at 9pm!”



Ahhh Christmas. Its the time of year for giving, and a significant tradition that we as Christians hold dear to our hearts each year as we celebrate the birth of Jesus.

The Wise men traveled a great distance from the East to bring gifts to the Baby Jesus. This Christ child must have been pretty important. We don’t know much about the wise men, we’re not even sure how many there were. Jesus was well over a year by the time they arrived.

Matthew 2:11 NIV
[11] On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Why bring such precious and valuable gifts to a baby? The wise men thought they were going to see a King, so they brought gifts of royalty, they did not know the savior of mankind would be a child. “He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David” (Luke 1:32).

One of the precious gifts they bought from afar was Frankincense. It is considered the holy oil. The gift of frankincense given to the Christ Child symbolized His holiness. His willingness to freely and wholly give Himself up as a sacrifice for our sins.

Frankincense is the gum or resin from the Boswellia tree. It was a very expensive substance because it was collected in remote parts of Arabia, North Africa, and India. Today Frankincense essential oil is obtained by steam distillation of the dry resin. Frankincense has a lemony, musky odor, and is used to help arthritis, asthma, depression, memory, inflammation, and skin disorders. Some studies suggest Frankincense may have anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties.

Click the link to find out more about how I use Frankincense essential oil or visit my website.

What Are Essential Oils?

Ess oils

I have a new category in my blog: Essential Oils. Read my Essential Oils page to find out more about my new interest.

An essential oil is the “oil of” the plant from which they were extracted. An oil is “essential” in the sense that it contains the “essence of” the plant’s fragrance–the characteristic fragrance of the plant from which it is derived. Essential oils contain the natural substance of the plant, and are used for therapeutic benefits. (Wikipedia)

Essential oils are generally extracted by distillation, often by using steam. Other processes include expression or solvent extraction. Many oils are used in perfumes, cosmetics, soaps and other products, for flavoring food and drink, and for adding scents to incense and household cleaning products. Many times these oils have byproducts, and artificial substances added to them. Essential oils are not the same as perfumed or fragrant oils.

When using essential oils for health and wellness, it’s important to use therapeutic grade oils that are not adulterated. Adulterated oils contain synthetic chemicals or compounds. Adulterated oils may actually be harmful to our body, that’s why it’s important that when you buy essential oils, you purchase them from a known and trusted source. Buying essential oils on “Amazon” is not recommended. does not regulate the source of essential oils.

What is Therapeutic Grade Essential Oil?

I have done some research on this, and from what I’ve read, there is no official grading system to essential oils. Therapeutic grade just refers to the oils processing, meaning they have not been processed, diluted or manipulated in any way with solvents or other additives. They can also be used safely because they are in their natural form, free of fillers or artificial contaminants such as pesticides or other chemical residues.

What to look for in a quality Essential Oil?

Keep this in mind when looking for good quality essential oils: If the product’s fragrance is overbearing, it may contain synthetic chemical substitutes. A pure therapeutic-grade essential oil should have a balanced, broad fragrance profile and should smell clean., not potent.  A pure essential oil should not feel slick, thick or oily but rather absorb cleanly and completely into your skin. It should not leave an oily residue.

I’m excited about this new journey, and want to share with you what I find. I will be posting more about Essential Oils and their specific uses in heath and wellness, and how I use them each day, so check back.




Winter Chili Recipe

Well, it’s finally getting a little chilly at night and in the morning here in Southern California. We’ve had some major rain storms, so I guess winter is officially here! Time to bring out the Chili recipes. Here is one of my favorite chili recipes. It’s really very simple, but every time I make it, the pot is empty.




1 pound lean ground beef (85/20)

1 cup chopped onion (optional)

1 package McCormick® Original Chili Seasoning Mix Mild

2 cans (15 ounces) kidney beans, undrained

2 cans (14 1/2 ounces) crushed tomatoes

1/2 Tbsp. Chili seasoning



  1. Cook ground beef and onion in large skillet on medium-high heat 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain fat.
  2. Stir in Seasoning Mix and remaining ingredients. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Serve with shredded cheese, sour cream and chopped green onion

November is National Adoption Month

One evening I received a call from my son’s chorus director. I had been doing quite a bit of graphic work for the chorus and it dawned on him that I might be able to help him out. He asked me if I would spoof up the brochure that he and his wife were working on. They were in the process of adopting a child, and needed to get the word out to birth mothers that they were interested in adopting a newborn. They had been in the process for almost a year.

I jumped at the chance to help them out. I designed an 11 x 17, 2 page brochure for them with photos, telling the story of their family, and how they yearned to add another child to their lives. The brochures were printed and sent out through their adoption agency to birth mothers all over the country. A few weeks later they received a call that a birth mother was interested in them. Within a few months, their new bundle of joy was part of their family.

That was 8 years ago. What a joy to witness their miracle, and see their son grow through the years. My son graduated from the chorus, but we keep in touch via Facebook.

So glad you are still doing this…and we’re still on your website, we’re honored!! The letters still make me cry!!! It brings back so many memories!! Our son, nearly 5 years, is still bringing us so much joy!! In fact it is almost exactly 5 years ago you were helping us with our letter!! It’s a special thing you are doing!! It literally changes lives!!           – Sue

Since that call I have been creating adoption brochures for families all across the country. I work with 2 adoption agencies that refer me. All of the families that I have done brochures for see results within a few months. It’s been an honor and a pleasure to be a part of the big picture, and it is my goal to contribute to hundreds of adoptions.

IMG_1202_smFoster Care is a vital step to many adoptions for older children. Alena Strickland has spent the last 25 years caring for critically ill and developmentally delayed children from the foster care system. She believes she was called by God based on James 1:27 that states, “Religion that God accepts as faultless is to take care of widows and orphans in their need.” Alena lives this verse. Alena has fostered over 170 children.

This year Alena received a $50,000 award from “5-hour ENERGY Helps Amazing People.” Alena plans to use the money to start an elementary school at the Dream Center in Los Angeles for homeless children in the area. She was also chosen for the “Mom of the Year” title by talk show host Steve Harvey, who sponsored a nationwide contest in honor of Mother’s Day. Alena received $10,000 and well deserved five-day trip to the U.S. Virgin Islands.

I have had the great pleasure of knowing Alena and her family for many years. She is truly blessed with a gift and calling from God. Read more about Alena’s story at

November is National Adoption Month, a time to raise awareness about the urgent need for adoptive families for babies, children and youth in foster care. This year, the Children’s Bureau’s goal for this initiative has a new focus: Help States harness the power of social media to recruit and retain parents for the over 104,000* children and youth in foster care waiting for permanent families.

Please explore this National Adoption Month website and the AdoptUSKids website to find resources for professionals, prospective adoptive parents, and youth. How can you make a difference to a child today?

October is National Make a Difference Month

Make a Difference Day is a special day of widespread charity and volunteer work, in which people from all over the country help others in any way they can. Created by USA Weekend Magazine in 1990, this day is celebrated each year on the fourth Saturday in October.

Participants are encouraged to help out in many different ways, but most especially by dedicating time to fixing-up, cleaning, and repairing poorer communities. The success of Make A Difference Day depends solely on participation. It doesn’t matter how you choose to help, all that matters is that you make the commitment to do something.

My church chooses a Saturday in October for our annual “Giveaway”. Each year everyone from our church cleans out their closets, garages, and homes and donates gently used items to the church. Televisions, clothing, books, kitchen items, holiday items, bikes, toys, tools, and much more are donated each year. We advertise our “Giveaway ” to the surrounding community. On Giveaway Saturday our church cooks a hearty breakfast for the community to enjoy before taking the items that they need. The line grows longer every year. All are welcome and everything is FREE! It’s a gratifying experience to spread kindness, walk in the spirit of giving, and make a difference in someone’s life.

If you don’t find a group or charity to volunteer with, Make a pledge this month to make a difference in someone’s life. Here are a list of suggestions:

1. Pay for someone’s meal (Maybe the car in back of you in the drive through)

2. Donate old books to a Senior Center

3. Donate crutches, wheel chairs, walkers to a Senior Center

4. Help an elderly person or a Mom with kids with their groceries

5. Make two lunches and give one away

6. Leave a small, anonymous gift for a person who needs it.

7. Help clean an elderly persons home

8. Deliver fresh-baked cookies to the Fire Department.

9. Stop by a nursing home, and visit a resident with no family nearby

10. Leave a treat or handmade note of thanks for a delivery person or mail carrier.

11. Distribute kindness bookmarks, or scripture that you have made to hospital patients.

12. Give a bag of groceries to a homeless person.

12. Buy books for a day care or school.

13. Slip a $20 bill to a person who you know is having financial difficulty.

14. Buy a gift card for a homeless person, or someone you know who’s struggling.

15. Donate old towels to an animal shelter.

Sugar Cookie Cherry Cheese Cake



The Crust
1 to 1 lb of Pillsbury Sugar Cookie Dough
The Filling:
4 to 8 oz. blocks of Cream Cheese..softened
4 Eggs
2 tablespoon Vanilla Extract
1 cup Granulated Sugar
1 can cherry pie filling for the topping


1. Press the cookie dough into an 8 inch spring-form pan, bottom only, and bake at 350 about 15 minutes until almost done.
2. Let cool.
3. For filling, beat cream cheese and sugar.
4. Add vanilla and one egg at a time, beating well.
5. Pour into crust.
6. Lower oven to 325 and bake 75-90 minutes until cooked through and browned.
7. Chill overnight in fridge and top with canned cherry pie filling (or your choice of fruit)

Original recipe:

California Seasons

Photo Jul 06, 8 01 26 PM

After living here in Southern California for over 20 years, I think I finally got the seasons down.

Most people don’t think we have seasons, but we do, they’re just very subtle, but there are some definite signs that I look for as the seasons change.

Our traditional summer really begins in August. It becomes very hot, sometimes reaching over 100 degrees during the day. We are fortunate that it cools off to at least the 70s in the evening. We’ve got that desert thing going on (desert climate is scorching during the day, but freezing at night) so it’s bearable at night! It stays pretty warm through September, and sometimes October.

Although the days stay hot in October, the temperature begins to drop more at night, those little arachnids build their webs in the trees at dusk, and the leaves begin to change color, a sign for me that Fall is fast approaching. By the time we change the clocks back in November, the leaves have begun to show their red and yellow. Yes leaves do change color in California.

As the days grow shorter in November, the day temperature and evening temperatures become closer, and the leaves begin to fall. Mornings are now easily 40 degrees, and crisp, but never a sign of snow in the forecast.

The trees are bare in December, and the rainy season begins in January, but it rarely rains during the day here. The clouds role in at dusk, bringing breathtaking sunsets, and while we sleep, it rains. We wake to wet concrete,and damp air in the morning that quickly dries with the day temperature reaching at lease 68 most days.

Spring brings the fog in the morning, rain has ceased if there was any, and the day and night temperatures become close again. The buds on the trees begin to show, and jasmine fills the air. You haven’t experienced Spring until you smell fresh Jasmine, it’s a glorious smell.

Fog has completely enveloped the morning skies by June, not getting sunny sometimes until late afternoon. I used to hate not seeing the sun right away, but it keeps the day cooler, and I now look forward to coolness of June mornings.

The fog burns off earlier and earlier as July approaches, and those sunny southern California days and manageable nights are back again.

The seasons are vague here, and if you let life get too busy, they can pass you by. So I tune my body to feel the warmth, and the coolness and the moisture, and the dryness, and I never miss the opportunity to breathe in the sweet jasmine of Spring.

I love Cali, I wouldn’t change a thing!

Summer Cold Blues

summer cold

I guess there really is such thing as a “Summer Cold.” Whether summer or winter, it sucks!

Summer colds are actually a different virus than winter colds, and are exasperated by walking in and out of air- conditioning. The sudden chilling lowers the defenses in the nose and throat by causing constriction of the blood vessels. The immune system is drastically reduced when this happens. We just got back from vacation and  between the freezing cold temperatures in the airplane, and the hotel and 100 degree weather in Southern California, it’s no wonder I caught a cold!

Summer colds only occur about 25% as often as the winter colds, but summer colds can have more severe, flu-like symptoms. This time I have a slight headache, and my skin feels a little sore to touch.

In any case, just trying to get through this thing quickly, and keep those around me healthy!


Here are 6 things that help avoid a summer cold:

1. Wash your hands contently

2. Avoid sitting at a desk for long periods of time. Move around. Sitting can slow your metabolic rate

3. Avoid smog and pollution. Dirty air suppresses T cells

4. Don’t eat alot of junk food. It effects your immune system.

5. Get plenty of sleep. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body doesn’t make enough white blood cells to fend off bacteria and repair your body

6. Avoid going in and out of air-conditioning to sweltering heat.


How do you avoid a summer cold?

Children Cancer Awareness Month


It’s Children Cancer Awareness Month!

It’s a time to honor and remember children and families affected by cancer, and help rally support to give kids with cancer better outcomes by supporting ground-breaking research.







Nicolas is my best friend’s son, a leukemia survivor through a miraculous bone marrow donation. I honor Nicolas , his family, and his donor, and thank God often that Nicolas is now a healthy 9 year old.



This month I’m challenging my Facebook friends to change their profile picture to the icon above to support children battling cancer, or donate 50.00 dollars in support of my neighbor’s daughter Katie to PEDIATRIC cancer research directly to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Katie is 14 years old and battling GanglioNeuroblastoma.

Do you know a child that is battling or survived cancer? Honor them this month!

Labor Day Dessert – Strawberries and Whipped Cream


    • 3 pounds strawberries, rinsed, hulled, and sliced
    • 1/2 cup Grand Marnier or other orange-flavored liqueur
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons orange zest
    • 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
    • 5 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
    • 1/4 cup lemon juice


  • Strawberries

    1. Combine the strawberries, the remaining 2 cups sugar, Grand Marnier, and orange zest in a large bowl and toss to combine. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to assemble the dessert.
  • Whipped cream

    1. Combine the heavy cream with the confectioners’ sugar in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer or whisk until slightly thickened. Add the vanilla and continue to beat until the mixture nearly forms stiff peaks.

    Add to a slice of  Sour Cream Pound Cake

Chipotle Shrimp Salad

Chipotles, often a key ingredient in many dishes in Mexican cuisine. This Mexican chili pepper is used to make various salsas. Chipotle peppers have a mild but earthy spiciness and can be ground and combined with other spices to make a meat or seafood marinade. They can be very spicy, but add enhanced flavor to this great summer salad.


Photo Aug 26, 5 52 18 PM

*1 pound frozen raw shrimp, thawed, peeled and deveined
*1 can Chipotle peppers, in their adobo sauce
* 1/2 cup brown jasmine rice
* 1/2 cup freshly cilantro, chopped
* 1 lime
* 1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
* 1/2 (14.5 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed
* 1/2 cup frozen corn
* 1 tsp ground cumin
* 1 tsp chili powder
* 1 Head Butter Lettuce
* 1/2 cup cherry yellow tomatoes, halved
* 1 avocado, diced
* coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Puree the Chipotle peppers and their sauce, some cilantro, olive oil, and 1/2 lime juice in a small food processor until smooth. Pour into a small baggy. Dump the shrimp into the baggy and squish the sauce all around them, getting everything all coated. Stick in the fridge and marinate at least 1/2 hour.
2. In the meantime, cook the rice in a rice with the cilantro and the juice from 1/2 the lime.
3. In a small saucepan add and heat the corn and beans. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper, along with the cumin and chili powder. Keep heated on low until you’re ready to assemble.
4. Grill the shrimp, searing the shrimp one on side for 2 minutes. Flip and sear another minute.
5. Wash and arrange butter lettuce in large salad bowl. Top with rice, corn and beans, shrimp, avocado and tomatoes.
6. Add Chipotle Honey Vinaigrette Dressing. Squirt and Garnish with lime!

Finding Joy


A  very dear friend of mine has recently survived a very traumatic accident. I’ve been praying each day for him and his family.

I had an opportunity to visit with his wife today. I have missed her tremendously. It’s been very hard staying away from the hospital, it’s about 5 minutes from where I live.

Spending some time with her today (and 2 other dear friends), and seeing a photo of her husband in the hospital gave me a different perspective of things. As I looked at the photo, I envisioned myself right next to that hospital bed. My first instinct was to bend down and kiss him, and I realized that I could actually do that!

Sometimes when we pray in situations like this, we focus on asking God to help the situation. Today I realized that my dear friend is still here with us. We can kiss him, and see him, and touch him. He can see us, and hear us, and spend time with his friends and  family, and grandchildren! We are truly blessed!

And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me; Therefore I will offer sacrifices of joy in His tabernacle; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord. – Psalm 27:6 (NKJV)

Joy is something that The Lord promised us, but many times in tragedy, we have a tough time finding it.  Real joy is from God. For the believer, it is always in abundant supply. Even in the darkest days, when life overwhelms us, God’s joy is there. Joy cannot be taken away. As Christians, we are promised the constant presence of the Holy Spirit. We are promised His joy.

“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.John 15:11

I think I found joy today.

First Apartment

The time has come. After two years in the college dorms, my daughter has found full  independence, and is ready to spread her eagle wings in an apartment.

It’s always a little scary when your children spread their wings, and take that first leap. So naive, so innocent. You want to stand right under them with a safety net.Safety_net_tnb

As impractical as it seems, my heart yearns to continue to be the mother God intended me to be right from the start. Funny how time moves you further and further from your natural ability to mother. If you’re not careful, it can leave a gaping hole.

Yet I stand from afar, watching, and praying. Filling my hole with hope and love.

The eagle’s launch is inevitable,. . .. and so she soars.

Text Book Trade In



It’s that time of year again! Well, I guess it’s kind of early, but my son goes back to school in the beginning of August this year!!!

This is for all you parent’s out there immersed in Text book ordering for your high school and college students. Amazon is a great source for ordering used textbooks, rented textbooks, and trading them in when you’re done using them. It actually saves alot of money, and the process is so easy.

Once you know the textbooks you need to order, go to the textbook department on Type in the book name. You can verify it’s the correct book by the ISBN #. You will have a choice of purchasing new, or used, and sometimes a choice to rent the book. I am a Prime member, so many times a new book shipped free is cheaper or the same price as a used book.

At the end of the semester I trade all the books back in using the Amazon iphone App. Just scan in the ISBN Bar Code #. If the book can be traded back hit the trade button. When you’re done Amazon sends you an email with the list of trade-in books and the amount due back to you, along with a printable (free) return label. Box up the books, put the merchant list in the box, and tape the label on the box, and bring it to UPS! A few weeks later you get an Amazon gift card with your trade-in amount. I use this gift card for the next order of textbooks!


Hug Your Teen

father-son-hugWhere are you going, who else is going, when will you be back, is your homework done? 4 commonly asked questions to your teenager. But do we proceed that with a hug?

We’ve learned that babies won’t thrive without the touch of another human’s holding and affection, yet knowing this, it is not uncommon for parents to stop hugging their kids as they reach puberty. Medical studies also confirm that the health benefits of physical touch extend as we age.

Adolescents can be an extremely difficult period of life, for both young adults, teens and parents. Young adults and teens are spreading their wings, and attempting to make good decisions. Many times acceptance of peers becomes a major source of stress, and low self-esteem. Making sure that your young adult is accepted in the home can relieve some of this stress, and build a stronger bond. Hugs are a great way to help ease this stress, and provide a safe and secure environment for your teen.

Daughter’s don’t seem to lose their affection with parents like sons do. A son’s relationship with his parents is a prototype for how he’ll relate to his family one day. Many times fathers and sons lose those hugs as a boy gets older. Father’s feel the need to teach their sons to be “men”, and somewhere in that transition they become less affectionate.

But don’t lose hope. Hugs are the ultimate, but touching is important too, even if it’s a pat on the back, a tussle of the hair, or even a knuckle punch once in a while. Once your teen becomes comfortable with these playful forms of affection, hugs are just around the corner.

So relieve your stress, lower your blood pressure, and increase your heart beat. . . . go hug your teen!


Lure Fish House in Westlake, CA

We had a very lovely 25th Anniversary vacation over the July 4th holiday. One of the restaurants we went to deserves a review.

Lure Fish House was a pleasant surprise. Being from Boston always keeps me on the look out for good, fresh seafood. In 20 years the only good seafood that comes close to Boston seafood is in San Fransisco. Unfortunately we don’t get that far up north very often, so to find good seafood in the Los Angeles area was exciting.

Owner David Cortina has more than 20 years experience in the restaurant business, and spent months bringing the Old California Mining Co. to its vision and how the food is presented. He now has 3 Lure Fish houses just a few miles from each other in Ventura county.

We visited the Westlake restaurant. We had a 30 minute wait at around 6:30pm. The restaurant is located near several large hotels, and was quite busy. The noise level was moderate considering there were many large parties. The lighting was dim, but we enjoyed the roomie, large booths. Service was great!

Lure Fish House offers between 6 and 8 fresh fish per night. This is one of the things I thought particularly unique about Lures. Most restaurants offer no more than 3 fresh fish if you’re lucky. Lure offers several appetizers, and quite a few salads. They also specialize in fresh oysters, and offer several varieties of fresh oysters at a very large oyster bar.

The menu offers fried and charbroiled seafood as well as fresh Maine lobster in several weights. I ordered the 1.5 lb. lobster that came prepared with the tail grilled, and the claws shelled, but slightly cracked for easy de-shelling. The lobster head was included for presentation, and the price was right, only $32. It was cooked and prepared just right. It was delicious!

During our trip we had bowls of chowder at several different restaurants. Everyone thinks they are the chowder “king”. In my opinion chowder should be made with a bit of sautéed onion and celery, clam juice, tender clams, cream and very little flour. Thick chowder with potatoes is not appetizing to me. It’s called clam chowder for a reason. Lure clam chowder, was clam chowda!! It was prepared with very little flour and no potatoes. It even had a slight “kick” to it from just the right amount of pepper seasoning.

You must visit Lure Fish House next time you’re in Ventura county! All I can say is “move over Legal Seafood!”



Banana Pudding Cake

A new twist to an old southern recipe. Happy 4th!  NOTE: Please read through the whole recipe before making the cake. There are quite a few steps.



2 4oz sticks butter, softened
1 3/4 cups sugar
3 eggs + 2 egg whites
3 tsp vanilla
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 1/2 tsp baking powder
One 3.4oz box instant Banana cream pudding mix
1 cup milk

Outside Layer
Nilla wafers
1 Tbsp Sweetened condensed milk
1 Tbsp Whole Milk

Filling in between cake layers:
Whisk together the following ingredients and refrigerate until assembling cake (~10minutes).

One 3.4oz box instant vanilla pudding mix
1 1/4 cups whole milk
1 cup Cool Whip (or whipped cream)

To layer bananas: Mix together the following:
1 Tbsp sweetened condensed milk
1 Tbsp whole milk

You’ll also need:

2-3 medium ripe bananas sliced
3-4 cups Cool Whip for outside frosting
Nilla wafers

Step 1: Make the cake

Preheat oven to 350 F. Prep three 8″ round pans by lining the bottom with parchment paper or baking spray. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Slowly beat in eggs and egg whites, one at a time. Beat in vanilla until well combined.
In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and pudding mix. Add into wet ingredients in three separate additions, mixing until just combined. Don’t over mix!
Stir in milk until combined. Divide batter and pour into 3 pans. Bake 22-25 minutes or until cake is golden and begins to pull away from sides of pans.
Allow cake to cool 15 minutes in pan. Loosen and remove from pan.
Allow to cool another 1-2 hours on a wire rack.

Step 2: Begin layering

Level each cake. Add the filling between the cakes to make a 3 layer cake.
Brush outside of cake with milk mixture and decorate with sliced bananas.
Layer the whole cake with cool whip and top with Nilla wafers. Refrigerate until ready to serve.



My Natural Hair Journey

curlyhairme_PastelHair. I think it’s the one gift that God gave us that defines your look. It’s the one thing that can make you look drastically different depending on the style. It’s the one thing that people notice right away. I know it might seem shallow, but people spend thousands of dollars on their hair (or lack of it), and alot of time!

Long, short, thick, curly, straight, colored, permed, frizzy, and fried. Hair can be an esteem booster, a life changer. It can change how you feel about yourself. It’s a powerful tool, because it’s a first impression.

So it’s no wonder I had my doubts about changing my hair. Going natural is a drastic change. No more straightening, blow-drying, coloring! Hello curls, big hair, frizz, gray. This decision had to come from the soul, and that it did!

So I’m on my way. I started my official natural hair journey May 22nd. I know this won’t be of interest to all of my followers, so I’ve started a new category on my blog called “My Natural Hair Journey”. It’s a popular subject these days, and there’s alot of interest out there. You all know how blogging is therapy for me, well, I need some serious therapy for this journey. So check back in to see how I’m doing!

Memorial Day Menu



Thank you to all the men and women who have died protecting our freedom, and to those who protect us each day!! We celebrate today in your honor!

Memorial Day also signifies the beginning of summer. Picnics, BBQ’s and summer food! Here are some great recipes for your Memorial Day menu!



Outlaw Ribs

Blueberry pie

Potato Salad

Peach Cobbler

Deviled eggs


Have a safe holiday!

The Donald Sterling Controversy, Are you uncomfortable with someone?

Racism“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
– Martin Luther King Jr.

In the aftermath of the Donald Sterling controversy, I often wonder if his “true feelings” about people are also bottled up inside of others. If tolerating on the outside, but hating on the inside is all too common.

Are there people in your life that make you uncomfortable? Are you uncomfortable with someone? Are you comfortable being uncomfortable with others?

It’s not unusual to feel uncomfortable around particular people. People that are mean-spirited, prideful, judgmental, alcoholics, drug-users, foul-mouthed, homosexual, sympathy hoggers, criminals, critical, handicapped, disfigured, religious. . . just to name a few.  But we are taught to love thy neighbor right? Easier said than done sometimes. I constantly have to remind myself of this helpful verse:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13 4:7

I love this verse because it puts the ownership back on “me”. I put “am I” in front of each verb. “Am I patient,” “Am I proud”, “Am I keeping a record of wrongs”, “Am I self-seeking”, etc.

I think the hardest thing is being truthful with yourself. Believing that you are no better than anyone else.

In the end, when it’s your turn to be judged, the Lord will want to know one thing… were you uncomfortable serving the uncomfortable? Serving is bearing someone’s burdens. Having compassion for one another.

Matthew 8:1-4 NIV
[1] When Jesus came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him. [2] A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” [3] Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy.

Things my mother taught me

HydreangaGrowing up I don’t think that I truly appreciated my mom for everything that she did for me and my siblings. As I care for my young adult children, I reflect back on all the things my mom has done.  As an adult,  I now see that my mom is an amazing person. Here’s some of the valuable life lessons my mother taught me through the years.

1. A mother’s love is unconditional from the very moment her womb is consumed. I remember my mother most of all, always doing for us. It was a never-ending job, so selfless, and all for the betterment of her children and family. My memories of her unconditional love have encouraged me to raise my family the same way.

2. Caring for your family comes first. Mom best taught me that family and the well-being of your children come first, even before your career. It may sound like a “Duh” statement, but so many woman who I know don’t apply this statement, and raising their children takes a back seat to a busy career schedule. I remember the days Mom was home with us. She had the time and the patience to plant the foundation necessary to raise her children. I may not always have her patience, and it’s been a sacrifice, but I’ve made the time to raise my own children and it’s been worth it.

4. Forgiveness. Life wasn’t always easy for Mom growing up, but she has the most forgiving spirit. This is something about my mom that stands the test of time. Something that I reflect back on when it’s my turn to forgive.

5. Love yourself. Each of us are different in our own way. Mom has 3 different children, and has loved and respected us each as individuals. Even though my sister and I are twins, mom taught us to love ourselves for who we are, and made sure that we were individuals.

6. Pursue your dreams. Even when the odds seemed against us in life, Mom was always there to encourage us. I never felt like I couldn’t accomplish what I set out to accomplish. Failure was blind in our eyes thanks to Mom.

So this mother’s day and every day, I want to say “thank you” mom. I am who I am today because of your never-ending love. Happy Mother’s Day!

The Santa Anas

“Here come those Santa Ana winds again” (Steely Dan, Babylon Sisters). winds

Named after Southern California’s Santa Ana Canyon, the Santa Ana is a blustery, dry and warm (often hot) wind that blows out of the desert. The winds usually come during California’s cold season, between September and April.

Most people believe that the desert brings the hot wind, but in fact the desert is cold at this time of year. High pressure builds in the LA Basin, causing the cold air to sink. The air is forced into a down slope where it compresses quickly, warming the air, and losing humidity. That dry air picks up speed through the passes and canyons, and there you have your Santa Ana wind. The wind usually blows off the water from west to east, but the Santa Anas blow from East to West. Rising temperatures can reach well into the 80s, 90s and even 100s when these winds blow. They tend to be stronger during the nighttime and early morning hours and weaker during the day.

It’s always a little creepy when the Santa Ana’s come. You can actually feel the cold air and the hot air blowing at the same time! Legend says that the name originated from the Spanish word Satana, meaning Satan.

My dog freaks out during the Santa Anas. She’s just a little weird during this time. She doesn’t sleep well, and she does little things that are completely out of the ordinary.

Santa Anas can do great damage. The combination of the dry hot air, and our drought right now makes for a very dangerous fire season. These winds also create turbulence and vertical wind shear that causes aviation hazards, and choppy surf conditions.

The Santa Anas only last a few days, but they come wreaking havoc across Southern California once again.

Chicken Breast with Tomatoes and Capers over Pasta

This is a great pasta dish. Easy to make and it smells wonderful!




4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/4 pounds) cut in cubes
salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh tarragon or 1 teaspoon dried
1/2lb of Cherry Tomatoes each cut in half
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
4 tablespoons drained capers
1 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons tomato paste
Fresh basil leaves



Sprinkle the chicken well with salt and pepper.
Heat the oil and butter in a heavy-bottomed skillet. Add the chicken breasts and sauté over medium-high heat, turning the pieces often until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.

Scatter the garlic around the chicken. Cook briefly; add the tarragon, tomatoes, vinegar, capers, wine, and tomato paste. Stir to dissolve the brown particles adhering to the bottom of the skillet.

Blend well. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked.
Sprinkle with fresh basil leaves, mix with bow-tie pasta.

National Distracted Driving Awareness Month

(This blog post is dedicated to all the distractive drivers that take to the road everyday)

April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. I thought it was my “mature” age that was making me an impatient driver in the last few months, but now I realize it’s the distractions that keep people from driving that make me impatient!

I know, I know….. LA is the traffic capital of the world, I should be used to this right? Well I used to be…10 years ago. Driving for me used to be peaceful. I actually looked forward to it. I was a Sales Rep for Kodak for 10 years, and I drove all over the earth. My attitude about driving was great….it was on the company’s time, so I took my time, and enjoyed my CD’s while I drove.

Well today I’m not on company time, I’m on my time, and it’s soooo annoying to be in back of someone who is lost, texting, tweeting, eating, ipoding, ipadding, snap chatting, taking a selfie, putting on make-up, picking their nose in the rear view, changing clothes, diaper changing, couponing, watching the stock market, reading the paper, watching a movie, dog sitting….. (you name it!) all while driving!

Each day, more than 15 people are killed and more than 1,200 people are injured in crashes that were reported to involve a distracted driver. It’s called “Distractive Driving”. A distraction occurs any time you take your eyes off the road, your hands off the wheel, and your mind off your primary task: driving safely. Some people still don’t know how dangerous distracted driving is. Others know about the risks of texting and talking while driving, but still choose to do so anyway. They make the mistake of thinking the statistics don’t apply to them!

  • In 2009, more than 5,400 people died in crashes that were reported to involve a distracted driver and about 448,000 people were injured.1
  • Among those killed or injured in these crashes, nearly 1,000 deaths and 24,000 injuries included cell phone use as the major distraction.1

As much as I love my iPad, and the instant communication that electronics and social networking have brought to the world, it’s also made us a selfish, individualistic society.We spend hours of our time in little boxes of self isolation, where answering back a text or tweet has to be immediate, even at the possible cost of your life or someone else’s.

Everyone has a choice when driving, and those choices can tragically impact a family forever. So if you want to pick your nose in the rear view mirror, or you just can’t wait to text that important message, go ahead, unfortunately your decision may be a fatal one, and it’s not just that tree that you’ll have a collision with, it might be someone’s mother, or grandmother, or son.

Do us all a favor and honor a life this month, take your selfie off the road!

(statistics courtesy of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration)

Tough Love


Tough Love is an expression used when someone treats another person harshly or sternly because they love them, and want to help them be successful in the future. Being tough on those you love is difficult, but in our family it’s always been a normal part of raising our children.

I think we as parents all know how this works, although when you look at some of the parent and teen relationships today, I don’t think the “parents” get it!  Now don’t get me wrong, parenting kids today is alot more challenging than it was years before. But I think there are several factors that come into play.

1. Kids need 2 parents. I’m a firm believer in a traditional family, with 2 parents.  Amen for those single parents raising children, but having all the discipline responsibility on one parent is not easy. After a long hard day at work, choosing your battles sounds practical, but many times important battles are let go that need to be addressed. Our children are winning the battle, and parental disrespect is reeking havoc!

2. No consequences. Many parents have a great plan for discipline, but they don’t follow through, and there are no consequences. Watching our kids live through the consequence is what’s so tough for us as parents. We have to remember, it’s not about us. Consequences enable us to teach. When there’s no consequence, there’s no learning.

3. Authority. “Children today have no respect for authority.” You hear it time and time again, but it starts in the home. If children don’t respect and obey their parents, they’ll have no regard for authority outside of the home.

There are some tough lessons along the way, particularly when your trying to teach your adult children to be on their own, and take more responsibility for themselves. It’s hard to see them struggle, but it’s necessary. Think how difficult it must be for a Momma bird to watch her young bird learn how to fly. If he doesn’t fall, he won’t learn what it takes to fly, and if he doesn’t learn to fly quickly, he won’t survive.

I love my little birds, and I intend for them to soar!!




Life is challenging



Sorry I’ve been out-of-pocket lately. Blogging has taken a back seat. My bread and butter died on me. . . . my video card died in my computer, so I’ve been limping along running my graphic design business on the spare computer. I’m surviving though. I’m blessed to have great tools ( , a techie hubby and his engineer who configured and ordered me a new computer at cost!! The cost of a video card was almost as much as the computer, so I decided to get a new one. It was time. The old one although still in good condition, is going on 7 years old. The new one arrived, so I’ll be setting it up this weekend.

I’ll try to post a recipe on Sunday, so check back!


Cioppino Seafood Stew

This recipe was developed in the 1800’s by fisherman based on an Italian soup. After a long workday, the scraps of the “catch of the day” were thrown in a communal pot for supper.

I grew up in Boston, and I love seafood! This dish is cooked from deep within my soul, meant to warm you throughout on a cold March day!



1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup butter
1 rib celery, chopped
1 onion, diced
2 cans crushed tomatoes (28-oz)
2 cups clam juice or fish stock
2 cups white wine
4 cloves crushed garlic
1 lemon, juiced
1/2 tsp. sugar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoons dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Dungeness crab (claws only)
3-4 small lobster tails
1 lb. medium prawns, peeled and de-veined
1 lb. mussels
1/2 bunch Italian parsley, chopped


In a large pot, on medium-low heat, melt the butter with the olive oil and saute the celery and onions until soft, about 10 minutes. Add all the rest of the ingredients except the seafood and fresh parsley. Simmer on low, uncovered, for one hour. Add a splash of water if the sauce gets to thick. Taste for salt and adjust if needed.

Add the shrimp, and lobster tails and simmer covered another five minutes. Add the mussels, cover the pot and simmer for 3 minutes more, or until the mussels open. Turn off the heat, and stir in the Italian parsley.
Ladle the Cioppino into large bowls and serve with lots of sourdough bread and red wine. Can also be served over Fettuccine

Living Water


Ahhh….. water! It’s the essential liquid for all living things. Its purest form, is odorless, nearly colorless and tasteless. 60% of your body is made up of water. It’s vital, without it we perish.

Water covers 70% of our earth, but only 97% of it is undrinkable. 77% is frozen, 3% is fresh water. It’s been politically disputed, and in many places its treasured and incredibly difficult to get.

Water is the only substance that occurs naturally in three states as a solid (ice), a liquid and a gas (water vapor).

Living water is essential in my life. Without it, I perish.

In its purest form it is the Spirit that guides me. It reveals the truth, it strengthens and encourages me. It comforts me and fills me with joy.

It’s with you 100% of the time, but only if you accept Him as your Savior. It’s politically disputed, and in many places incredibly difficult to worship freely.

Living water is one of three persons; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:13-14.

I shall never thirst again.

Fun Oscar Facts


I love movies, but I’ve never been a huge fan of watching the Oscar’s. This year I happen to see many of the movies, obviously making me more interested in watching the famous Academy Award night.

A friend of mine is also throwing a Mardi Gras / Oscar party on Sunday, so let the celebration begin, and good luck to all!

Fun Facts about the Oscars

1. Liza Minnelli is the only Oscar winner whose parents (Judy Garland and Vincente Minnelli) also both won Academy Awards.

2. An Oscar weighs in at just over 3kg and stands 34cm tall.

3. The ”Everybody Wins at the Oscars” gift bag is awarded annually by Distinctive Assets and is chock full of goodies worth over $80,000— Filled with products like Chocolatines, Slow Watches, Acure Organics skincare, and a trip on the luxurious Rocky Mountaineer train, the gift bag is sure to please all.

4.The youngest Oscar winner was Tatum O’Neal, only ten when she won Best Supporting Actress for Paper Moon in 1973.

5. The winner of the most Oscars in a lifetime? Walt Disney. He collected 32 from 59 nominations.

6. The first black actress to win an Oscar was Hattie McDaniel. The Kansan won Best Supporting Actress for Gone With The Wind in 1940.

7. Sidney Poitier became the first black actor to win an Oscar when he collected for Lilies Of The Field in 1963.

8. “Happy,” written by Pharrell Williams from “Despicable Me 2,” is up for original song at the Academy Awards. “Happy” was originally released back in June last year, tucked away as track four on the Despicable Me 2 soundtrack album. Pharrell had signed to Sony Music and the track was considered a ‘possible’ to appear on his new album.

9. After John Singleton and Lee Daniels, Steve McQueen becomes only the third black filmmaker to receive a Best Director nod — and the first of non-US origin.

10. Three actors of African parentage are nominated this year: Chiwetel Ejiofor (Nigerian), Lupita Nyong’o (Kenyan) and Barkhad Abdi (Somalian).

California Wildlife – Too close for comfort

Well, it’s that thawing time of year here in Southern California. It’s the time of year that the rain subsides, the mornings are warmer, the days stay warmer. I guess we’re headed toward spring. You begin to see more bunnies munching on grass, and where there are bunnies, there are coyotes. In the last 2 weeks their beady little eyes have been watching Sadie and I on our morning and evening walks. I see them walking in the drain paths around 7:00am, directly across the street from our house (about 100 ft)!

Coyote_arizonaWithin urban and suburban areas in California, some coyotes have adapted to residential neighborhoods, parks, and open spaces, and have lost their fear of humans. This may be a result of behavioral changes that have occurred over several generations of coyotes. Coyotes thrive in such areas because food, water, and shelter are abundant, and coyotes living in these environments may come to associate humans with food and protection. Once attracted to suburban areas, they prey on the abundant rodents, rabbits, birds, house cats, and small dogs that live in residential habitats. They also will feed on household garbage, pet food, and seeds and fruits of many garden and landscape plants. In some localities, this has resulted in the development of local coyote populations that seemingly ignore people, while a few coyotes have become increasingly aggressive toward humans. They will stalk and even attack children or adults, or attack pets being walked on a leash by their owners. More than 160 such attacks have occurred in California since the 1970s, and they are becoming more frequent, particularly in suburban areas of Southern California. For this reason, I am very cautious when walking my dog in the early morning and late evening, particularly at this time of year. (

When I moved to California back in 1991, I had this picture in my head of beach, desert, metropolitan city. I never really considered the wildlife living amongst us, until one early morning visit.

raccoon1I had just started my new job with Kodak. I was heading out the front door to hop in the car on my way to a corporate meeting in LA. I turned around to lock the front door, and headed toward the car in the driveway. I dumped all my gear in the back seat, and realized I forgot something. As I turned around to scurry back to the front porch, there right in front of the door, standing 10 yards from me, stood a raccoon. It wasn’t your ordinary, fun little furry raccoon, it was a MONSTER raccoon! It was the size of a small Lab! It just stood there staring at me. I swear it knew that I was heading for LA, and that I needed to get on the freeway immediately to avoid the morning traffic! It finally turned in its own sweet time, and headed back into the bushes.

I love California, and wouldn’t trade living here for anything…….so move over wildlife!

You have a teenage boy if . . .

Photo Feb 15, 6 01 15 AM

1. You can’t keep $10 bucks in your pocket anymore
2. Hanging out with friends consists of a controller, a computer monitor, and headphones
3. You use the privilege of social activities as a carrot to get chores done
4. Your underwear drawer is home to the Xbox controllers during the week
5. There are only 2 important questions, “can I take a nap” and “what is there to eat?”
6. You can no longer see the rug in the bedroom
7. You text in acronyms
8. Your kitchen counter is filled with protein and energy powders
9. 90% of the words that come out of your mouth have to be repeated daily
10. You use every opportunity possible as a teaching moment
11. You can’t shop in the mall together anymore
12. “Do I smell?” Is a common question
13. Studying for a test the day before is “ok”
14. An In n’ Out run at 10pm is considered a bonding moment
15. Lunch money for the week has tripled since Jr. high school
16. “It’s ok Mommy” means I’m over reacting
17. “Sleeping in” means getting up after 1pm
18. A large pizza only feeds one
19. Getting ready for school in the morning can be accomplished in 15 minutes
20. No one else in the house drinks milk, but you go through a gallon a week
21. Hanging up a towel is not possible
22. Deciding what you want to do for a living is an obsession
23. Nothing is more important than sleeping, eating and pooping
24. Girls are considered high maintenance right now

Chicken and Dumplings

It may not be 15 degrees here in Southern California, but it is colder, cloudier, and rainier than normal here in February. So I’m bringing one of my staple dishes out of the cob webs this afternoon. Enjoy.

Photo Apr 07, 5 43 32 PM

Fully cooked whole Chicken
32    oz. Chicken Broth
1    Celery stalk
1/2    onion chopped
2    Bay leaves
Garlic Salt to taste
1/2    tbsp butter
1/2    Cup Flour
1/2    tsp baking powder
1/2    Cup Milk

1.    De-bone chicken and put in a large pot. Add Chicken stock, onion, celery, bay leaves, garlic salt. Let cook for 1/2 hour. Remove bay leaves, and add butter.

1.    Combine flour, baking powder, and milk. Mix until you form a soft dough. Roll out dough with a rolling-pin, cut into small squares with a pizza cutter. Add to boiling chicken pot. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Serve in bowls. Yields 6

Super Bowl Recipes


It’s that time of year again when we get out the jerseys, the beer and the finger foods. Here are some great recipes for the Super Bowl.

Buffalo Chicken Wings
Honey Sweet Chicken Wings
Chicken Salad
Blueberry Pie
Deviled Eggs
Best Darn Ham Sandwiches

Oscar Night 2014 – 12 Years a Slave Review

It’s Oscar night March 2nd!

This year I happened to see quite a few of the movies up for nominations, but I thought I would give a review on the movie with 9 Oscar nominations.

Poster by Ignition Print

Poster by Ignition Print

12 Years A Slave

Directed by British video artist Steve McQueen, it was a must see for me since it was a true story, and historically significant to my ancestry. The movie is about the autobiography of Solomon Northup, published in 1853. Solomon is an accomplished violinist by trade, and a free man living in upstate New York. In the first few scenes McQueen uses silence, scenery, costumes, and a soft filtered look through the lens to capture the eloquent  life of  “freedom” that Solomon and his family live. Through a series of unfortunate events, Solomon is shipped to Louisiana and sold into slavery.

I had the movie “Roots” on my mind when I entered the theater, but the contrasting scenes into slavery (one of them rated R) quickly squashed the elegant mini series theory, and I found myself pondering whether I should stay, or walk out now!

I stayed with some regret, but not because the movie wasn’t directed well. In fact, slavery was depicted all too “real” in this movie, I was squirming in my seat. An overwhelming darkness clouded my soul until the very end. Solomon’s struggle to survive this new life was certainly different from that of a slave that knew no other life. Solomon to some extend has to conceal who he really is. He can’t reveal his literacy, but manages to reveal his level of education in one scene. He upstages the foreman played by Paul Dano, and is punished for his success. He is hanged, but his feet barely touch the ground. He can’t lift them, or he dies. This is the scene that had me squirming! McQueen focuses on this scene at length. The morning turns to evening as the slaves go about their daily routine, continually passing by Solomon as he struggles to keep the noose from tightening. I think what bothered me the most was not that Solomon was inches from dying, but that not even his fellow-man could help (although one woman snuck him a drink of water). This was a very powerful scene.

Chiwetel Ejiofor does an excellent job in the movie as Solomon, as well as Lupita Nyong’o who plays the role of Patsey.

The movie has hope eventually when Solomon befriends and begins to trust a carpenter played by Brad Pitt. The carpenter promises to write a letter to a colleague of Solomon. Solomon is eventually retrieved and brought back to his home and family.

Although the movie earned its many nominations, I found it disturbing in its truth, profoundly silent in Louisiana’s beautiful back country, and a heartwarming reunion in the end.

Did you see this movie? Let me know what you thought.

Enjoy the Oscars!

Oyster Sauce Chicken Thighs

Great recipe for a cold evening.



2 TBS vegetable or canola oil
4 bone in skin on chicken thighs
1 small yellow onion chopped
4 cloves garlic finely chopped
1/2 cup chicken stock
2 TBS oyster sauce
1 TBS white wine
1 TBS dark soy sauce (Use Gluten Free Soy Sauce)
1 TBS brown sugar
1 TBS corn starch
red pepper flakes, green onion, and sesame seeds to garnish (optional)


Heat oil on medium in a large frying pan. Add chicken thighs and cook about 3 minutes on each side until skin is golden brown and crispy. Use tongs to remove chicken to a paper towel lined plate.

Add onion and garlic and saute about 5 minutes until onions and garlic are soft and golden.

Mix stock, oyster sauce, wine, soy sauce, and brown sugar in a small bowl. Add the sauce to the pan and stir.

Return the chicken to the pan, turning to cover it in the sauce. Cover the pan and simmer 15 minutes turning the chicken once. Chicken is done when internal temperature reads 170 degrees on a meat thermometer.

Serve with rice, dribbling the saucy onions over top.serves 4.
(Optional: Garnish chicken with red pepper flakes, green onions and sesame seeds)

A Grain of Sand

Photo credit by Dr. Gary Greenberg's

Photo credit by Dr. Gary Greenberg

I saw the most amazing photo this week of “grains of sand” magnified 100 to 300 times. I’m sure you saw it to somewhere amongst all the trending stuff on the internet. It was breathtaking, and immediately I thought of how amazing our God is to create such detail even in something as small as a grain of sand.

It got me thinking about all the things that didn’t happen by chance.  Here are a few:


Breathing the miraculous blend of nitrogen and oxygen that makes it possible for us to live, evolutionists refuse to acknowledge that the precise 79 percent to 21 percent mixture of gases was not created by chance.

Photo by J. Wilson Bentley

Photo by J. Wilson Bentley

Snowflakes have six sides. It is claimed there are no two snowflakes alike, yet all are hexagonal in shape. Photographed by, J. Wilson Bentley, he found no two exactly alike.

Photo credit

Photo credit

The Earth is the perfect distance from the sun. Consider the temperature swings on earth, roughly -30 degrees to +120 degrees. If the Earth were any further away from the sun, we would all freeze. Any closer and we would burn up. Even a fractional variance in the Earth’s position to the sun would make life on Earth impossible.

Sometimes I’ve felt like a grain of sand to God, so insignificant in this vast world, forgotten when things get tough, or life seems impossible to bear. Seeing this photo reminds me that we are all like a grain of sand, but beautifully created, each grain molded and shaped, individually unique, and special in His eyes.

Remember the next time things get tough, that you are important to God. Never underestimate His power. His attention to detail applies to your life.