Thursday, March 31, 2011


It has been one of those weeks. What started out as one of those days morphed into four days of... What? I really can't point my finger at any one thing, circumstance or person. All I can tell you is I feel like I got sucked into a blender Monday morning and haven't been able to get out since. Blend awhile, add ingredients and blend some more.

After four days I feel quite beat up. There have been moments when I wanted to scream, "STOP!" At others, I've had an overwhelming desire to run away. As in walk out the door, get into my car, and drive into the sunset. Don't pass go, don't stop to collect my $200, just drive directly out of town.

But I kept plugging away. Grasping each brief interlude of calm like a man who falls overboard grasps a life preserver. And then it was back into the blender.

Funny how we tend to think we are the only one going through a frustrating time. Then we start to talk about our day and soon we find another person in the blender with us. Or two or three.

Truth is we all get tossed into the blender at times.

It is not a nice place to be. It leaves us weary and bruised. Bone tired. Frazzled.

Now that I have closed out my work week and stand at the beginning of a four day weekend with family, I've had some time to reflect on this experience. All week I've been saying I feel like I've been tossed into a blender. Each time the pressure increased, I visualized food pieces being added to a blender. I was focused on the 'chunks of food' battering me, mentally shouting 'Ouch'.

And then I was able to REALLY be quiet for more than a few minutes. Time to ask God for His perspective and to listen for His answer.

What is the result when I toss varying pieces of food and liquids into a blender and turn it on? At first everything bumps into each other. As the food gets chopped into smaller and smaller pieces it begins to blend together with the liquid. When finished, I have a smooth and creamy sauce or smoothie.

That's what God desires for me. When tossed into the blender of life, He wants me to allow Him to chop up the hard pieces of me and blend them with His Living Water. The result? I walk through these times with His strength and His grace. I don't allow the frustration to cause me to boil over, spewing angry words or displaying a cranky attitude. He takes my churning emotions and creates a smooth display of His power to overcome the world.

I don't know that all of my reactions to the happenings of the week have been a display of Him. Most likely, they haven't. But I do know that He has been the creaminess this wound up tight spinning gal has needed to keep me sane.

Hummm...maybe blended isn't so bad after all!


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Tasty Tuesday - Heavenly Rice

Heavenly Rice


3 to 3 ½ cups cooked rice
1 cup sugar
1 medium size can crushed pineapple, well drained
1 medium bottle maraschino cherries, drained and cut in half
1 cup Cool Whip
1 ½ cups miniature marshmallows

Mix sugar with rice, gently stirring until sugar is completely dissolved. Allow to cool completely. Add remaining ingredients and blend well. Place in covered container in refrigerator until well chilled.

My Dad’s older sister ran a boarding house in a Athens, West Virginia and this was one of her go-to recipes for a quick and economical dessert for hungry college girls. (No guys allowed in her house!) Each time I take a bite of Aunt Sarah’s ‘heavenly rice’ I am transported back in time to her kitchen table, watching her dishing up her home cooked treats to serve family style to her ‘girls’.

The only way I ate rice as a child was sweetened and most of the time it was for breakfast. I was grown before I realized you could eat it any other way! Now it is a staple of our diet as well, but most often we season it with savory spices to serve with meat and veggies.

Happy cooking,

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tasty Tuesday - Pimento Cheese Spread

Pimento Cheese Spread
(found in the Heloise column in the newspaper 30+ years ago)


1 lb. Velveeta cheese (I use the 2%)
1 cup Miracle Whip (or mayo if you prefer)
½ cup very finely chopped sweet pickles
4 oz. jar pimentos

Grate the cheese over a large mixing bowl, using the large openings of the grater. Add half of the Miracle Whip, pickles, and pimentos. Fold to combine. Repeat with remaining ingredients.

The original recipe stated, “Once you make this I guarantee you will never buy store bought again…this is much better and will really save you money.” Many times I have tried recipes because they were ‘guaranteed’ to taste great only to be disappointed. Not so with this pimento cheese spread. I’ve never turned back to store bought!

*To further reduce cost, you can use the store brand cheese. I’ve used both and can’t tell the difference once mixed. Also, if you like your spread a bit drier, drain the pimentos before adding them.

Happy cooking,

Friday, March 18, 2011

Waiting Rooms

What is it about a waiting room that brings out the impatience in us? Or am I alone in my propensity to become irritated at the thought of having to wait? When I walk into a doctor’s office at my appointment time, is it unrealistic to expect to see her promptly? What about the checkout lines at the grocery store? I seem to pick the shortest, only to find it has the slowest clerk or the person with multiple orders or who wants to chat it up with the clerk. You’ve probably figured it out…I simply do no like to wait. Anywhere. Any time. But the reality is as soon as I leave the doctor’s office, if I stop at the bank or grocery I am, more than likely, going to have to wait again. There’s just no getting around most of the waiting rooms of our lives.

That same impatience with waiting carries over into the rest of my life. When I think about it, I realize a lot of my life has been spent in longing for something else, creating the illusion that I am ‘waiting’. A better house, a better job, a new car…with each change a temporary sense of satisfaction quickly replaced by a new longing. A new waiting room.

As my faith has grown, I have found those longings have diminished but the waiting rooms have not gone away. They simply revolve around other issues.

In her book Walking by Faith-Lessons Learned in the Dark, Jennifer Rothschild stated, “If we focus on the prize alone we’ll see the waiting as a trial, missing the joy of the journey and overlooking the treasures along the way.”

I fear I have overlooked far too many treasures. Looking back I can see some of them. However, I know I didn’t fully enjoy them at the time. How many more did I miss altogether?

It would be easy to look back with regret and focus on past failures. God reminds me in the words of Paul that I must ‘forget what is behind and strain forward to what is ahead. I must press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.’ Philippians 3:14

In my waiting rooms today and tomorrow, instead of simply praying for a quick way out I will seek to be still and get connected to God. Then, in anticipation, look for treasures along the way.

Like Paul,
My desire is God’s desire.
My prize is Christ’s will for me.
My hope is in God alone.

May you also find joy in the journey!


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Tasty Tuesday - For Peanut Butter Lovers

I know, I's not Tuesday. I had this week's recipe saved in a file, everything ready to copy and paste, add a few comments and send it out to the bloggy world before leaving for work yesterday.

And was one of those days. First, I discovered there was no hot water. Big bummer! After finding it was not as simple as throwing a breaker or hitting a reset button, I survived a lukewarm shower and got ready for work. Having very few minutes left to get to work on time, I scurried into my home office to do the whole copy, paste, send thing...

No electricity to any outlet in the room. That 'big bummer' comment? Let's just say it was being said boldly and in all caps at that moment.

I won't bore you with details but bottom line it is now Wednesday night and there is still no hot water. Outlet problem was temporarily resolved this evening but the computer has been VERY cranky. As in this is the second time I've tried to compose this post. The first one disappeared into cyber space.

There is my novel length explanation for the posting delay. (I had a teacher once that said my reports were always more like a granny dress than a mini skirt. Only those of you who were in high school when both styles were popular at the same time will understand his drift!)

In spite of the difficulties I've experienced the past few days, I am excited to share this absolutely delicious recipe. If you like quick and easy dessert recipes, this fits the bill. Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Pie
(from my best friend Kae’s recipe file)


8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup sifted powdered sugar
2/3 cup peanut butter
2 Tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons milk
6 oz. Cool Whip
1 graham cracker pie crust

Place cream cheese and sugar in bowl. Beat at low speed until just blended and then at medium speed until fluffy. Add peanut butter, continue mixing until well blended. Then add milk and Cool Whip. Mix at low speed until well blended. Pour into pie shell. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours to allow peanut butter mixture to set up.

*I sometimes substitute a chocolate cookie crust and then garnish with shaved chocolate.

I love this recipe for two reasons – it is super easy and quick plus it is a peanut butter lover’s dream pie. Why not whip one up for a mid-week treat?

Happy cooking!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Life Changed

I intended to write an article today outlining my reasons for wanting to attend the She Speaks Conference for writers & speakers. There was this contest, you see, with two fully paid scholarships at stake. My thoughts have been tumbling around all week in preparation for today.

And then...

life changed. For thousands of people. In minutes a devastating earthquake crumbled buildings and the resulting tsunami swept away buildings, cars and people. The death toll keeps climbing.

It is almost too much to bear. Yet I go back to the news reports to see and hear the latest updates.

And I pray.

...For those who are still alive but waiting for rescue. Dear God, please lead the emergency personnel to them. ...For those who have loved ones who are missing. Lord, calm them and fill them with Your peace. ...For those whose family member will not be coming home. In the midst of their grief, make Your presence known.

Yesterday the people of Japan lived out their normal routine. Dads & Moms went to work, kids went to school. They shopped for food. They cooked meals and ate together. They slept in their homes. Just a regular day.

We all do, you know.

Live each day as though tomorrow will be a repeat of today. Assuming we will get up and eat breakfast with our family, go to work and then return home. Taking for granted those precious moments. The people.

It could happen to any of us, this life changing moment in time.

It doesn't have to be an earthquake or tsunami. It could be an automobile accident, massive heart attack or possibly a violent crime.

In a second, life as we know it can be unalterably changed forever.

Today, my thoughts and prayers are with our global neighbors in Japan. They are also here with you and me. While we pray for those directly impacted by this tragedy, let us also pray that God will forgive us for taking His gift of life for granted. Let us pray that He will grant us mercy and allow us another day to tell our families how much we love them. To be a better neighbor. To be all that He desires us to be.

Most of all, to live fully engaged in His kingdom's work.


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Tasty Tuesday - Kicking Canned Salmon Up a Notch

Here's the recipe I promised last week. My mouth is watering already just thinking about how yummy these are.

Chesapeake Spiced Salmon Cakes
Courtesy of Whole Foods

1 can wild caught pink salmon, drained
1 2/3 cups panko breadcrumbs, divided
2 tsp Old Bay seasoning
1/3 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
¼ cup thinly sliced green onions
¼ cup finely chopped parsley
Salt & pepper to taste
2 Tablespoons mayonnaise
1 egg, lightly beaten
3 Tablespoons canola oil

In a large bowl, break up salmon into small pieces, discarding any pieces of bone or skin. Gently fold in 2/3 cup breadcrumbs, seasoning, bell pepper, onions, parsley, salt & pepper, mayonnaise and egg until combined. Shape into 12 small patties.

Transfer remaining 1 cup breadcrumbs to a wide, shallow dish. Gently coat each patty in breadcrumbs, shaking off any excess, and transfer to a large plate. Heat 2 Tablespoons canola oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Arrange 6 patties in the skillet in a single layer and cook, gently flipping once, until deep golden brown all over (2-3 minutes per side). Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate when done. Add the remaining oil to the skillet and heat. Repeat process with the remaining 6 patties. Serve hot.

Note: I absolutely LOVE crab cakes but will not pay the price for crab and refuse to use imitation crab. When I first tried this recipe I was hooked. It makes ordinary canned salmon taste just like the real deal, plus it is healthy! The only thing I change from this original recipe from Whole Foods© is I use Miracle Whip instead of mayo. That is simply because my husband and I prefer MW so I do not keep mayo in my pantry.

Hope y’all enjoy this as much as we have. Would love to hear your comments!

Happy Cooking,

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Forty Year Old Prom Dress

The earth is coming alive again. Like fireflies on a dark summer night, spots of color grab my attention. Bright yellow daffodils and soft purple crocuses provide a welcome respite from the drabness of winter.

It is spring, when a young woman’s thoughts turn to…..prom, of course! Although her Senior Prom is still a couple of months away, this weekend my oldest granddaughter begins her search for that perfect dress. After all, she explained, the dress color must be chosen in time for her boyfriend to place his tux rental order. Talking about her shopping plans and the price of prom dresses these days took me back to my own Senior Prom.

…to the dress.

If you are female, you know what I am talking about. That one dress you see that just begs you to buy it. The one you dream about wearing.

My dress was peach, my second favorite color at the time. As much as I longed for it, I don’t remember any details about the dress other than the color. And the sense of loss and sadness knowing that I would never have it. Quite simply, it was not in our budget. There was no way possible my parents could afford to buy the dress so it stayed on the mannequin in the window. Faced with little to no money for a prom dress, I decided to do what any seventeen year old female would do. (Well…think I’m stretching things a bit there!) I would make my own dress. After all, I was taking Home Economics and we were learning how to sew. Key word? Learning!

My Mom and I went shopping for the pattern and material. Since I was only learning how to sew, I chose a simple a-line dress. I found a soft white voile material with small red pin dots and white silk for lining. A red velvet ribbon at the empire waist would be the crowning touch. With visions of walking into the dance in my own ‘designer’ dress, I promptly carried all my treasures to Home Ec. The first step was to lay out the pattern, cut out the correct pieces for the dress I wanted to make, and then pin them to the material. No problem. The second step was to duplicate those steps with the lining material. BIG problem! It was very slippery making it a challenge to correctly attach the pattern pieces. Then came sewing the pieces together….

I was in way over my head. My frustration grew with each passing minute and along with it, my sadness. However, all was not lost. My Home Ec. Teacher, Mrs. Stafford, came to my rescue. She helped me pin and cut and sew, piece by piece. She walked me through putting the zipper in properly. She even coached me through slip stitching the red velvet ribbon trim. Actually, the dress was more her handiwork than mine. It turned out exactly as I pictured it in my mind and even though I did not get to wear the peach fantasy, I still felt like Cinderella dressed up for the ball on prom night.

I don’t know why my conversation with my granddaughter triggered this memory. I haven’t thought about either dress in years. But within this recollection, I uncovered a priceless treasure that had nothing to do with what I wore to Senior Prom. It was the love of Mrs. Stafford who saw a young girl with dreams of being beautiful on prom night. Who, she knew, could not afford the dress of her dreams and did not have the sewing skills to change pattern pieces and material into a simple but charming dress. She just quietly stepped in and helped me in such a way that, at the time, I didn’t realize just how much she was doing.

Mrs. Stafford died not too many years after I graduated. I never got to tell her how much her unselfish gift of her time and talent meant to me. I wonder how many other selfless acts went unnoticed. Did she realize the difference she was making in our lives? Did anyone stop to tell her thank you? I certainly hope so.

While I am saddened to think that, perhaps, she didn’t see the results of her love and attention to all the girls she taught, I am also encouraged. Encouraged to know that even though I may not receive a visible marker that I have made a difference in another’s life, it doesn’t mean I haven’t. Many times that seed has to grow for forty years before a chance conversation will trigger the memory, revealing the treasure.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people… Galatians 6:9-10 (NIV)


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Tasty Tuesday

I'm sure you have heard the phrase 'necessity is the mother of invention'. I've found this to be especially true when it comes to cooking. A few years ago I decided to make a triple chocolate cake for a family get together. Found in a popular magazine, the recipe had become a favorite for those of us who are chocoholics. However, on this day my pantry was missing a couple of key ingredients - like chocolate chips and pudding mix. What to do?! I decided to experiment by switching out cinnamon chips for the chocolate chips and vanilla pudding for the chocolate. Since I love the taste of nuts with cinnamon, I also added the chopped pecans.

The resulting cake was a huge hit and now is a go-to recipe for many get togethers. If you are a fan of cinnamon you are sure to enjoy this moist and delicious cake.


1 package yellow cake mix
1 package (3.9 oz) instant vanilla pudding
1 ¾ cups milk
2 eggs
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
¾ cup cinnamon chips (I buy these at
½ cup finely chopped pecans

In a large mixing bowl, combine cake mix and pudding mix, milk and egg. Beat on low speed until moistened. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes, adding cinnamon during the last 30 seconds. Pour one half of the batter into a greased and floured bundt pan. Evenly layer the cinnamon chips on top of batter, then layer the pecans on top of the chips. Add the remaining batter. Bake at 350 degrees for 55-60 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes then remove from pan. (I place it directly onto a cake platter at this time; however, you may want to place it on a wire rack to finish cooling.)

I usually top the cake with a simple glaze made of powdered sugar, milk, and 1 tsp. vanilla extract. If I’m in a hurry I may give it a light dusting of powdered sugar instead. Either way it is quite yummy. Although chocolate is most often the dessert of choice around my house, I do have a couple of folks in the family who prefer non-chocolate desserts. This is a favorite of theirs!

Happy cooking!
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