Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Merry Christmas to One and to All

"Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel." Isaiah 7:14

Friday, December 19, 2014

Little Free Libraries in my neighborhood

Do you love libraries and books and free, like I do? Well, the Little Free Libraries trend embraces all three of these delightful things.
There are three that I know of in my neighborhood. All you need to do to have one is to build a container with glass doors to protect the books and put up words on it that say "take one, give one".
The photo above is a very cute Little Free Library, don't you agree?
Here is the second one in my neighborhood, just a short walk from my home.
I wonder if every country has these little free libraries. My blog friends can tell me, do people in Indonesia, Germany, Kuwait, Australia and more have them? I hope so, they are fun and encourage folks to read.
This photo was taken on a dark wet morning as you can tell, and the books are safe from the rain in their snug library with glass doors that close securely.
To the left is a second Free Library for children. Isn't that thoughtful? They built it a lower height so children can reach it.
These libraries are all about giving and seem like a Christmas themed post to me.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Gigantic Hedge Near Our House and Book Winner

The winner from the 21 people who commented for a chance to win a hardcover copy of "Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts" is Pat at Mille Fiori Favoriti
I used random.org to choose the winner.
Cathy will announce the winner of the second copy on our other blog at Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts.

Here is a gigantic and monumental hedge growing on a street near our house. You can not see what is behind it, but once in a while they leave the gate tantalizingly open. I think the hedge is 3 stories tall, and across the street are 6 houses, so it is about 600 feet long. Maybe 20 feet thick.
It is so mysterious to imagine living there in privacy.
The owners must make a huge effort to keep it so nicely trimmed. I imagine it is very quiet and country like sheltered behind the handsome hedge.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Giveaway of My Christmas book "Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts" giveaway

Cathy Messecar and I are giving away two copies of our co-authored Christmas book "Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts: Stories to Warm Your Heart and Tips to Simplify Your Holiday". To enter to win just leave a comment here and for a chance to win a second copy leave a comment on
Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts blog
Here is what one kind reviewer wrote:

"This book took my breath away. Truly beautiful, unique, heartwarming. It's one of those books I'll treasure from year to year, reading and re-reading the stories within until I know them by heart. It has a hodgepodge of everything - recipes, inspirational stories, Christmas tips, poetry, projects. I'm not sure how they packed so much into 160 pages, but it's an overflowing chest full of treasures!"
We will select the two winners Dec. 6 using random.org and will mail it quickly so you will get it before Christmas. There are lots of easy, fun and cheap tips in our book to make celebrating Christmas a joy, and we put Jesus at the center of this holiday.

Here is what another reviewer wrote:

This book celebrates the birth of Christ, includes Scripture and plenty of ideas for family activities, craft projects, recipes including Baklava and A Dunkin’ Cookie, easy gifts to make, green Christmas tips, poems and lots more. Stories include a 1st Christmas with adopted children, a reunion with a prodigal son at Waffle House, and camping in the Florida Everglades swamp for the holiday.

Leave your comment here and on our shared blog full of Christmas tips or visit 
Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts  to read reviews and see more about our book. 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to all my blog friends here in the USA and round the world.
"Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth;
Break forth in song, rejoice and sing praises.
Sing to the Lord with the harp, with the harp and the sound of a psalm,
With trumpets and the sound of a horn;
Shout joyfully before the Lord, the King." Psalm 98:4-6

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Funny knit hat, blue hat and zinnias

I bought this cute red hat for a young friend of mine, and next to it is a blue hat and scarf for me. They were knit and prayed over by ladies at my church, and all the money raised goes to help local people. Each hat and scarf has a tag attached which says "Hand made with love and prayers in every stitch by the Knit Wits" of our church. Any items not sold are given to local charities including one for children with cancer. All the yarn is donated.
This photo is a two fer since it shows the zinnias I bought at the Farmers Market, organic and locally grown. I picked out twelve stems for $5 and got a nice bouquet.
Guess who the blue hat and scarf are for? Lucky little me.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Garden quotes and photos in my garden

"I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read, and all the friends I want to see." John Burroughs  To this I would add "all the prayers I want to pray and all the family I want to see."

"Our first job is to prepare the soil. The best tool for this is your neighbor's garden tiller. If your neighbor does not own a garden tiller, suggest that he buy one." Dave Barry

"I have great faith in a seed." Henry David Thoreau

"Laying out grounds may be considered a liberal art, in some sort like poetry and painting." William Wordsworth

Friday, October 31, 2014

Surfer sculpture with 2 pumpkins on his head

Here are two photos I took today of a Surfer sculpture with two pumpkins on his head.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Persimmons Wordless Wednesday

Almost wordless: just a warning. Wait til persimmons are fully ripe, very squishy, the insides like a soft jelly. If not fully ripe the astringent taste is a dreadful experience; when ripe they are very sweet. We cut them in half, add a touch of lemon juice and whip cream and eat them with a spoon.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Bargain books, 2 memoirs, a detective novel and a book related to Downton Abbey

I bought three of these books at our local Goodwill book store. It is a small store that just sells books, dvds, and music.
My husband and I have read the whole detective mystery series about John Rebus by Ian Rankin except for this most recent one, "Saints of the Shadow Bible." "A Charmed Life: Growing Up in Macbeth's Castle" by Liza Campbell, is a memoir. Her father was heir to Cawdor Castle where she was born and a review says "wild sorry tale with an offhand wit."
My third Goodwill purchase is "Blue Nights" by Joan Didion, another memoir. I have read other memoirs by her, and she writes about the death of her beloved daughter in this one.
These hardcovers cost $3.49 each and the money goes to a good cause.
My fourth wonderful book is "Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey", which is nonfiction about the 5th Countess of Carnarvon written by the 8th and current Countess. The Carnarvon family estate is Highclere Castle, where Downton Abbey is filmed. The real life Lady Almina and the fictional Lady Cora Crawley have much in common, including opening their estate to wounded soldiers in World War I, and I love this book. If you like Downton Abbey or history I recommend this book.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Apples on our George Foreman Grill

Recently I posted to y'all how I was thinking about getting a George Foreman grill. Well, we were given one, and it is fabulous.
The photo above shows apple slices prepared to be grilled. There is brown sugar, cinnamon and olive oil on them. I think they are Winesap apples.
A must have feature of this George Foreman grill is that the heating plates easily remove for cleaning, in soapy water or in the dishwasher. One night we cooked two pork chops and sliced apples at the same time.
The above photo shows the cooked sliced apples. Yummy. At the bottom of the photo is the separate grease catching plastic container that came with the grill; that makes anything cooked on the grill more healthy as the excess fat drains away. The grill makes nice black lines on the food cooked on it. The lines are not so evident on the apples but zucchini, hamburgers and pork chops had them.
The apples take about 10 minutes to cook, and that is true of everything we've done, from 5 to 12 minutes. Eggplant slices are fabulous cooked on it.
Do you have favorite foods to cook on this type of electric grill?

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

My Happy List part two

On July 8, 2013 I posted some things that make me happy, as part one.
This angel is one of my favorite treasures, which my sister bought for me at a rummage sale years ago, probably in a church. Angel is made from an old hymnal and survived being mailed from Wisconsin to me in California. Her dress is made from the folded hymnal pages.

I buy things that make me smile and put them in my garden. Here is my Dancing Seagull from Goodwill.

Yes, friends. They are the flowers in our garden of life. Thanks Sparkles for this suggestion.

I collect quotes, poems and Scripture and can find one to fit any occasion perfectly. Often I find quotes when reading blogs, and add them to my collection. I also collect words that make me smile and that are new to me. A British blog friend says she "took a bimble" and I like that word, it means a stroll, often with no particular purpose, but in a friendly manner. Another British word I learned from Sparkles is "naff", which means unstylish or lacking in taste, or as a verb "to goof off".

A gentle breeze, and sometimes a brisk one, is always appreciated by me, especially on a warm or hot day. Sometimes heaven gets my attention with the touch of a breeze on my face and I even wrote a poem about that.
I walk along the ocean several times a week and there is always the kiss of a breeze on even the hottest day.     

I walk along the ocean two or three times a week. Walking is good for my body and my soul. There is a "little free library" three blocks from our home and sometimes I stop on my walk and donate a book or two. Do you have a little free library? They are handmade little boxes on posts, people put them in their front yards near the sidewalk, they hold about 20 books and you can take or donate a book. 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Happy week, roses, peppers, skunk

Some recent photos I took.
Pink and white roses, peppers our neighbor grew, and a young skunk drinking water in a blurred photo taken through the sliding glass doors. All photos from this week at our house.
Some happy events from my week: yesterday our oldest son treated me to lunch downtown. I had spicy chicken mole (no, not the animal mole, LOL, it is pronounced mo lay and is a chocolate and spices Mexican sauce), fancy polenta cooked in a pie type crust with whole kernels of corn in it and a lightly dressed mixed lettuce salad with pepitas in it. I watched two of my friends sing and dance in our local Follies, songs from the 1930s and 40s and a patriotic tribute appreciated all the more since it was on Sept. 11.  Publishers sent me a copy of The Gem magazine which arrived at my house, with my poem "She Walked Alone" in it, and a check. The July 20, 2014 issue.
The weather is great too, from 70 to 85, so I am counting my blessings. And when God sends rain I will count that as another huge blessing.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Garden Poem and a Book

Oh God above
send us showers,
send us sunlight.
We plant promising seeds
encased in their hard shells,
and they reach up to you.

The above is a garden prayer poem I wrote today.
Do you gardeners have blogger Jan Johnson's new book titled "Heaven is a Garden"?
Her blog is Serenity in the Garden
This book is a treasure to hold and to read.
One small section is Create a Dew Garden. What a creative idea. Jan writes about "a dewdrop garden of roses." That is just one of a wide array of ideas she shares.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Shishkebob, and Foreman Grills Question

A meal that is part of any warm weather we have, spring, summer and fall, shishkebob. There are several spellings for this meal, including shish kebab. My computer keyboard doesn't allow for the Turkish typing of sis, which is pronounced shish.
We use metal skewers (shish), some of them are from Turkey and are the best kind which means that the blades are a little flattened and not round, so the meat doesn't slip and turn as you turn the skewers.
I learned to savor this meal the year I was in college in Istanbul, Turkey, where it is a popular dish.
Small pieces of lamb, steak, pork, chicken or shrimp, about 1 or 2 inches across, add lots of veggies and voila.
We like onions, green peppers, tomatoes and mushrooms.
Notice that the meat is on a separate skewer. This is important since the meat takes longer to cook. If you put meat and veggies on the same skewer you can end up with raw meat and charred vegetables.
You may marinate the meat in olive oil and lemon juice or a marinade of your choice, or just baste with the marinade while cooking the shishkebob.
My husband volunteers to be in charge of prep and cooking.
Thank you dear hubby.
George Foreman Grills
I have read that the George Foreman grills are handy for cooking vegetables, like green beans. Have you tried this? I don't have one of those grills and am thinking of buying one for the convenience of cooking vegetables indoors on the grill. If you have a George Foreman or similar grill, how do you use it?

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Farmers Market Goodies

Each Saturday a three minute drive from our home there is a Farmers Market from 9 to 1, all local organic produce.
Here is what I bought today. The purple flowers are Blue Horizons Ageratum.
The striped cucumber is an Armenian cucumber. I also bought a tomato, mixed salad greens, fingerling potatoes and radishes.
For dinner tonight, left over wild caught salmon, fingerling potatoes, and Asian cucumber and tomato salad. For the salad slice the cucumber in thin slices, add sliced tomato, green onions if you like, and pour seasoned rice vinegar over it.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Additives in our food and more

I do like to post about flowers and everything I grow, plus books, so to get out of a rut here is a different post.
These are some health and food related ideas.
I did not have a pretty photo of additives (giggle), so chose a photo of a tulip bouquet. 
Nitrates and MSG
My husband and I are not buying foods with nitrates or MSG this year. Boy this involves reading teeny tiny labels in stores. Some food like sliced lunch meat packages do advertise boldly, no nitrates, no MSG. Thank you food producers for that.
These chemicals have negative effects, nitrates related to cancer, MSG to sleep difficulties.
Fiber in bread
Most bread we buy at our house has plenty of fiber per slice, usually 8 g or more per slice, and it tastes yummy. Some bread names are a bit sneaky though, for example some Oat Bread or Nine Grain Bread is made with refined flour and has only about 1 g per slice. In general we stay away from refined flour. There are many delicious crackers and cereals made with whole grains, like Rye Krisp crackers, Shredded Wheat and Post Great Grains cereals. Crunchy Pecan is our favorite Great Grains cereal. Where I live those cereals are usually $4.99 so I stock up when they are on sale at 2 for $5.00.
Fruit juice
We don't drink fruit juice since all that sugar hits your system with a big jolt. We prefer fruit anyway which is absorbed in your body slower. I know, I know, all those years of giving our children fruit juice instead of soda.
Much corn is grown from GMO seed, so when we see nonGMO corn written on a package we grab it.
What food tips have you discovered? I like to get new ideas and info about eating well.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Coreopsis, Ever Cheerful

I bought this bouquet of coreopsis at our neighborhood farmers' market this Saturday. This kind is a special treat with their dark maroon centers. In the language of flowers, coreopsis means "always cheerful."
Walt Whitman (1819-1892) wrote that as he traveled across the USA "I have been accompanied on my whole journey from Barnaget to Pikes Peak by a silent little follower", the coreopsis growing wild everywhere.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Orange and green in our garden

These nasturtium plants found a drain pipe in our back yard to climb and they love being up high, I can tell.
Can you see that these nasturtiums, which grow next to the drain pipe plants, are blooming madly in a camellia bush? I think this may be a very rare and valuable new plant, the camurtium, or the nastemellia. Well, anyway, it is colorful.
We often pick the nasturtium flowers to add to salads and sometimes a few nasturtium leaves too. They taste like radishes to me.
Our dishwasher broke Friday (two days ago) and the way we found out is it was leaking, and damaged our kitchen floor a bit. So that day my husband pulled out the old dishwasher and ordered a new one from Sears online. The new one will be delivered in ten days. Our dishwasher worked fine for ten years, and we looked it up and learned that most dishwashers have a life of nine or ten years. So we can't complain too much. Well, maybe a little!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Summer reading

Here's a peek at a few of the books I am reading this summer, just to give you some reading ideas. I love reading lists other bloggers share.
Royal Flush by Rhys Bowen. The third in her Royal Spyness Mystery series, set in England and Scotland in 1932. A bit of humor as Lady Georgiana, 34th in line to the British throne and penniless, finds mysterious accidents and deaths happening in her circle.
Question of Belief by Donna Leon. Number 19 in this mystery series set in today's Venice. The police detective is a happily married family man, a nice difference from many other police series.
And Venice is a big part of these books.
At Home in France by Ann Barry. Her memoir of being an American single woman who buys a home in an out of the way area of France.
My Mom Was Nuts by Penny Marshall. A memoir with fascinating mentions of many well known tv stars and actors and directors, plus family tales. Penny was married to Rob Reiner when his show All In the Family was on tv, and her show Laverne and Shirley was also on tv.
The Heart of a Woman by Maya Angelou. On the day this noted author died I bought this book which gives you a glimpse into her life. The second half of the book takes place in Cairo and in Liberia. Years ago I read her I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, and this book was new to me; Maya wrote seven memoirs. I loved hearing her speak, her voice was melodic and hypnotic, especially as she read poems. I never met her but she and I worked in the Civil Rights movement at the same time, me in a modest way and she in a more leading role.
A lovely addition to my book shelves is the NIV God's Word For Gardeners Bible. I have long wanted an NIV Bible, and this one is the entire Bible PLUS 52 meditations and Scriptures gathered with the focus on gardening.
What are you reading this summer? Any movies or books you recommend?
Part Two, two days later. Help, I got more books yesterday! I bought Anne Lamott's Grace (Eventually) Thoughts on Faith, borrowed Jill McCorkle's Life After Life: A Novel from the library (it sounds humorous), and The City of Falling Angels by John Berendt (about Venice) and on impulse a Kindle book "Bury Me with My Pearls: Humor with a Spiritual Twist." Obviously I buy faster than I read! And now I am going out to exercise in a pool. Have a great day, every one. 

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Farmers Market Goodies

I have a new addiction: shopping at the Farmers Market three minutes from our home.
Today I bought a dahlia bouquet, rainbow chard, radishes and sunny yellow zucchini. You can see them in these photos.
The Saturday before Fathers Day I also bought purple kohlrabi and lavender color radishes and home made horseradish mustard, a surprise for my husband for Fathers Day.
I like kohlrabi so much I bought some two weeks in a row; I peel it and eat it like an apple. It is good plain or with a little salt and is especially delicious when purchased from a farmers market, where it is freshly harvested.
All organic and grown locally. A feast for the eye and soul, and the veggies are tender and fresh.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Moments in my garden

I like to step into my garden when I am alone and when it is quiet.
The birds are often singing abundantly so it is not really quiet; I mean quiet from man made noise.
The hummingbird chirps. It wants me to spray droplets of water in the air so it can drink and bath, while I hold the hose up high, trying not to move.
I feel God there in the garden, and everywhere.
The green things are pulsing with life.
Strawberries turn pink, then red and sweet.
Overlooked bok choi dies back but not before forming tiny yellow flowers with a promise of seeds.
Cilantro bolts and goes to seed.
Green tomatoes promise to turn red and succulent.
My heart and soul are nourished in this modest garden.

I took this photo of a garden created in honor of my dad, located at a favorite golf course.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Collywobbles, Infrangible, Widdershins and more

I collect words that are new to me, that have a fun look or sound, and/or that make me smile.
I am a writer and hope to use these words in my writing some day.
My best sources for these words are when I read British authors and also when I read Marcel Proust.
From Proust's "Swann's Way" and "Within a Budding Grove": serried, ineluctable, evanescent, infrangible, hierophants, fulminate, mendacity. Marmorean, sapient and stoup.
Thank you to Marcel Proust and his gifted translators. I prefer the edition translated by C.K. Scott Moncrieff and Terence Kilmartin.
A few of these words I already knew but haven't used in a book or article or poem yet, including mendacity and fulminate.
Other words in my collection: twee, wrackspurt, nebuly, widdershins, ebullition and the wonderful collywobble.
These are just some of the highlights of my list.
Please leave some of your favorite words in the comments so my list will grow.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Happy Father's Day

I was blessed with a great dad. You can see here the great start I had with him.
"What a blessing it is for parents to believe in their children." -- Billy Graham

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Christianity, Love, and Islam

This photo is of Rumeli Hisar in Istanbul, and the college I attended there is located on the hill right above it so we students had a great view of this fortress.

I have many favorite Scripture verses, and one I especially love is:
"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."
1 Corinthians 13:13
Jesus talked about love throughout his time here on earth, and love infuses the church I attend.
A gal new to my church told me "What attracted me to this church is its emphasis on love."
I chose to attend college in a Muslim country for a year and grew to love the people, the beautiful architecture of their mosques, and the many ancient sites like the Rumeli Hisar and Side and Antalya on the Mediterranean coast.
Influenced by the art I saw in Turkey I changed my major to Art History and wrote my senior thesis titled "The History of the Development of the Mosque."
Since the USA was attacked on 9/11 I have studied the Muslim religion more closely, and learned that it was started by a man who became a warrior and military leader and in line with its origins it does not have the focus on peace that Jesus preached.
Two excellent books on this topic are "Unveiling Islam" by two brothers, Ergun and Emir Caner, who were raised as Muslims and converted to Christianity and "What You Need to Know about Islam and Muslims" by George W. Braswell (B.D. Yale University and PhD. UNC).
By reading these and other books, which have extensive quotes from Islam's Koran (or Qur'an) and the Sunnah and Hadith, we can get a better understanding of events in the news today.