and spirit...encouragement for your soul.

Hopefully this will be a place of resources and information for living a healthy lifestyle while feeding your soul. Recipes, links to helpful sites, words of encouragement and scripture....all to help you and your family make wise decisions for your life.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Can't wait to consume everything I cooked today!

Okay....here's the run down of what's been cooking: Corn pudding (the Beaumont Inn in Harrodsburg KY recipe), roasted root vegetables, turnip and mustard greens, cornbread stuffing, pistachio dessert, giblet gravy. Brittany is making squash casserole and broccoli souffle'. Britt is making pumpkin pie. Wayne is doing one turkey on the spit and I'm doing another in the oven.

I know it's over kill. We can't possibly eat all that food. I still love Thanksgiving for the food and family. I don't care if we have to give away half the food, it was fun cooking and I always enjoy the feast AND the leftovers. There will be plenty for everyone to take home.

My friend Millie made and delivered a ricotta pie and pizzianas tonight. (Not sure of the spelling but they're wonderful!) Wow! The cookies are fabulous and I can't wait to dig into the ricotta pie. I'm not sure I'm going to share it. I have been looking forward to this rare treat for a long time.

Tomorrow my son and grand kids will be here along with my friend Dee. Others will stop by later in the day and we'll spend some time on the phone with friends and family in other states. I can hardly wait for the day to begin. Right now I'm pooped and need to rest before tackling the birds.

Thank you God for this wonderful holiday! Thank you for our abundance and bless those who are serving our country away from their families. Amen.

Monday, November 22, 2010

One day down and nothing accomplished toward Thanksgiving dinner!

My last post I mentioned I would start prepping today and guess what? Nothing has been done except the several appointments I had scheduled and now I'm headed to a meeting. That puts me one day behind! I was actually looking forward to my time in the kitchen today. Does anyone else look forward to a day alone (or with someone you love) in the kitchen, lovingly preparing special dishes? I find cooking a time of reflection and meditation...IF...I have the time, the ingredients, the utensils and a good glass of wine!

I am singing in the Christmas cantatta this year with our church choir so I'll be practicing my bass part to the music while I'm in the kitchen. "Singing" is a little strong....it's more like making a "joyful noise!" Anyway, I'll be singing His praises while I cook. And yes, I said bass. Amazingly, I can't reach the alto notes but I fit right in with the bass section.

Soooooo....tomorrow is cornbread and chopped vegetables day. I'll knock that out right after the 6:00 AM prayer breakfast and the 8:00 AM communications committee meeting and the noon girls lunch. Oh well, I did have good intentions!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Looking forward to Thanksgiving!

This is my favorite time of year. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I love to cook and I love to eat! I am not a good gift buyer so Christmas can create a bit of pressure. Thanksgiving has all the elements I love, including food, family and friends but without the expense and pressure of gifts!

Since learning how to coupon I have even been able to cut down on the expense of the food for Thanksgiving AND I'm growing some of my vegetables. (See post from November 17th.) I can hardly wait to harvest my first squash! I have already begun to cut herbs and lettuce.

Every year I plan to do something different for the menu and, after many complaints, I always revert back to all the family favorites. My family loves: Tootsie's squash casserole, broccoli souffle' and Zellwood creamed corn. (All the recipes are on my recipe blog: http://pages.videojug.com/47-my-southern-table) Of course, there will be the usual turkey and dressing (mine is cornbread) and pumpkin pie along with pecan pie. I am planning to attempt making "Granny's yeast rolls" from my brother Joe's recipe. I'm not really sure about it as I don't normally bake, it takes a long time and there is a pretty good chance the rolls won't "turn out." I am resolved to try though.

I'll start the prepping Monday by chopping and cooking some of the vegetables that go into making the dressing, gravy and other dishes. The trinity (onions, peppers and celery) and mirepoix (celery, onion and carrots) will be on the chopping block. I may not be stocked well enough on butter and chicken stock. Another trip to the store with coupons in hand may be required. Trips to the store seem to be an ongoing process when I begin cooking. I am always grateful Wayne is willing to help. He even cleans the pots and pans and little messes I leave while I'm cooking. I am blessed!

It would be very, very nice if we could all just place life on hold while we prepare for the holiday. Unfortunately, we shall all squeeze in the added duties of Thanksgiving with the appointments, meetings and events we always manage. It's okay...I still love it!

I hope you enjoy Thanksgiving as much as I do. If not, come on over to my house. There will be plenty!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

God Bless My Living Tower Garden!



I can't believe it has been so long since I have written and published a page on this blog! Just another example of life getting in the way of my very good intentions.

My latest project is one that is NOT taking much time but is most enjoyable! Have you seen my tower garden? I'm posting pictures so you can see the difference in just one week of growing! Anyone who knows me knows how I love gardening. I can't claim much success with growing vegetables in Florida however. I have tried and failed many times. Flowers and shrubs are no problem. Vegetables have become a huge frustration!

God has chosen to bless me with this new way to grow my vegetables!! It's a hydroponic system grown in vertical towers. The technology isn't new. My brother, Joe, had a hydroponic tomato garden in 1962 as an FFA project. Those tomatoes were wonderful and he made a great deal of money over the summer of his sophomore year selling them. I'm not sure what chemicals and minerals were used back then but I do remember the tomatoes were grown in gravel troughs that were "flushed" several times per day with the liquid solution. (Burleigh Boulevard is now over those troughs.)

The big difference with the living towers is the minerals used in the water are all organic and the materials used in the towers are FDA approved food grade. I love the organic aspect and can't wait to harvest my first squash. I should have some ready next week, just in time for Thanksgiving. I have already been cutting and enjoying the larger leaves of the lettuce.

I added two more units so that I could add eight more plants. I now have 28 plants: yellow squash, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, peppers, bibb lettuce, red romaine, green romaine, green leaf lettuce, dill, basil, purple basil, Thai basil, thyme, chives.

I shall add green beans once some of the lettuce is finished producing. I am going to start seedlings this week and can't wait to harvest them in a several weeks.

I pray over my seedlings as they come forth into the world. I pray over my maturing vegetables and herbs. I thank God for this wonderful gift of technology. Think about it....no weeding, no stooping, no hoeing, no digging! Wow! Gardening surely has changed for the better! Gardening for dummies?

God bless my living tower garden!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Is Tavares so unusual??

I have asked myself that question numerous times over the years. I am still friends with and meet regularly for lunch with folks I began school with in first grade and graduated with twelve years later. I think maybe that is a very special thing!

I know many people, including my husband, who have zero contact with anyone they knew growing up. That is a very foreign concept to me. I spend time with my friends' parents at the polls during elections, have lunch with them after church on Sundays, attend their birthdays and help them with their funerals. Doesn't everyone? I don't think so. I think our lifelong relationships are unusual and very, very special.

Growing up, Tavares was a sleepy town of about 4000. I'm not sure of the population today but Tavares is now known all over the country and the world through the "Central Florida Dragon Boat Festival" and more recently as America's sea plane city.

The waterfront on Lake Dora in downtown Tavares has been transformed into a wonderful place to visit and be proud of. There is a great new water park for the children, new docks and a new landing strip in the lake for the sea planes, a new train station and great restaurants. The former "Boulware's Drug Store" where we all gathered after school (back in the day) is now the "Copper Heron" restaurant and art gallery. It is owned by former classmate, Sue Smith Squires ('68) and her husband, Bill. Remember the old "pavilion" on Lake Dora? It's being rebuilt! The pavilion is in the planning stages now.

Here is your chance to reconnect with old friends and classmates! It's time for another Tavares High School All Class Reunion! We have people enrolled from graduating classes as early as 1943 all the way to the graduating class of 2012! Some of the members of the website www.thsalum.com are the children and grandchildren of our earliest graduates. My own grandchildren are fourth generation graduates of THS. How great is that?

I hope everyone who missed it last year will make an attempt to join us this year. AND all those who attended last year please come on back. We are not doing another reunion for a few years. Let's make this gathering as special as Tavares!!

The big event is planned for October 1st and 2nd, 2010. Please visit our Facebook page or the website www.thsalum.com to register your attendance. It will be great to see you again!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

I finished in second place! Thanks for all you support and encouragement!

I had a blast writing the recipes and the stories for the food blog. The competition ended Friday night and I was notified today that I finished in second place! I am very happy and excited about that! I would love to have won but ran out of time and recipes at the end. It was fun doing all those posts and I have a good start on a future cookbook? We'll see!

Many of you made recipe contributions and for that you have my eternal gratitude! Some of those recipes I remember from my childhood (Snickerdoodles) and others are more complicated and more recent (Red Fish with Crab and Roasted Red Pepper Sauce) and others are just simple (Thousand Island Dressing). They are all fun and I hope you'll try some of them soon.

I am still posting and editing. The Videojug.com folks have been very nice and helpful during the entire process. They have asked me to try my hand at doing some instructional videos and I'm going to give it a go. I have the camera but I don't know how to edit. I am vowing I shall learn to edit very soon. Now I just need a new dress, new hairdo, new kitchen, new pots and pans.....

Friday, July 16, 2010

30 Pounds gone! I'm almost there!

Tuesday I went to the doctor's office to weigh in and be measured. I was floored when I got on the scale and the assistant kept pushing the weight down and down. I had lost a total of 30 pounds! I was very surprised since my scale showed me two pounds heavier. Go figure!

It's been, and continues to be, a simple process but not an easy process. I eat out often and that makes a little more difficult. I have discovered that most restaurants will do whatever you ask. They are almost always very accommodating. The Copper Heron makes a plate of egg salad, chicken salad and tuna salad for me. It's not on the menu but Bill always tries to accommodate. Last night Wayne and I had to go to Altamont Springs and decided to eat at Carraba's. Being an Italian restaurant I was afraid I would find it difficult to make an appropriate selection. I asked the waiter to leave off the tomato sauce from the halibut and replace it with bruschetta. He did and and it was wonderful.

I have 18 more pounds to go. I know I'll reach my goal and hope the weight loss doesn't slow down as I near the end. Once I'm where I want to be I am going to transition to a mostly vegetarian program. I love vegetables, grains and nuts so it should be easy. Complex carbs are okay. I am slowly reintroducing some of the complex carbohydrates now. Just a little though. I dont' want to lose the same three pounds four times!

Thanks for all the support I have received from all of you. I really appreciate it. I am truly blessed of God to have so many good and supportive friends.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

A river rafting kind of day!

Oh how I love a lazy, hazy summer Sunday. Spending it with good friends in a lawn chair on the dock watching the rafters makes it even better. River friends meander down the river on bicycles, golf carts or boats and sit a spell with us. Then they're off to sit and visit on another dock for awhile.

We sip on iced tea or something stronger, depending on the time of day. We return waves and greetings from the rafters. We talk about doing something constructive but decide against it. Someone rises from a chair, stretches and calls, "I'm going up to the house for some more tea, anyone want anything?"

Yesterday we managed to pull ourselves off the dock and take a boat ride up river. Beyond where the rafters put in we found a shallow, sandy area suitable for getting in the water. The girls got out of the boat and onto rafts for an hour float back to the dock. The water is a constant 72 degrees and very refreshing on a blistering hot day.

Since we were up river from the rafters much of the way it was very quiet and we were able to enjoy the abundant wild life. Otters were playing nearby, a mama duck with her hatchlings swam close to us. We saw little green herons, huge white egrets and the ever present water turkeys.

After floating back to the dock we got out of the water, settled back in our lawn chairs, picked up our iced tea and resumed visiting. It was my kind of day.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Read any good books lately? Here are two I recommend!



I am sooooo excited this week! I have been saving my pennies (literally) for quite awhile to buy a Kindle. This past week Amazon lowered the price enough that I could buy one. It arrived a few days ago and as I was trying it out I discovered it was not back lit so I can't read in the dark without a reading light. I was very disappointed and thought I had maybe ordered the wrong one but upon further investigation I determined none of the e-readers are lighted. Bummer!

I am still absolutely in love with this little device. I already had a Kindle application on my iPhone so I was able to transfer my unread books to my new Kindle. It is very thin and the battery lasts a very long time. No more books piled up beside my bed!

One of the first books I bought is, "The Traveler's Gift" by Andy Andrews. I read it in no time flat and ordered the follow up book, "Mastering the Seven Decisions" by the same author. According to the two books, our lives are exactly a result of our own decisions. I know instictively this is true. The "Traveler's Gift" takes you on an wacky adventure to explain the seven decisions we make in life. Great story and very inspiring. I am determine to make better decisions.

Here are the basic decisions we all face:

1. The buck stops here - the responsible decision
2. I shall seek wisdom - the guided decision
3. I am a person of action - the active decision
4. I have a decided heart - the certain decision
5. Today I will choose to be happy - the joyful decision
6. I will greet this day with a forgiving spirit - the compassionate decision
7. I will persist without exception - the persistent decision

Now to make my life better by abiding by these seven basic and spiritual decisions. A couple of the choices are no problem for me. I don't blame anyone else for my circumstances so the first decision is a given. I am enough of a conservative thinker that I know I am responsible for my own lack or prosperity and my own spiritual growth or lack of it. I still learned a few things in decision one though.

I am also a very, very happy person. Always have been and hope to always be happy! I praise God I do not possess a spirit of melancholy! I know that is a big issue for many people and I'm glad that is something I do not have to work to conquer.

Now that active decision is another matter. I am a procrastinator. I am determined to change....just as soon as I take a nap! Seriously, I have a tendency to put things off, lolly gag around and piddle. By doing the exercises in the follow up book I shall change. I am a person of action!

Another of the decisions I must work on is the certain decision. I have a decided heart! NOT! My procrastination is a result of not making decisions when they need to be made. Amazingly, when I'm under pressure I tend to make decisions quickly and effectively. If it's an ordinary day I tend to be lazy about deciding.

How about you? Do you see an area that needs work in your life? Both books are easy reads and the second one sort of a workbook. I have begun the exercises and can't wait to put into practice the seven decisions! Want to join me?

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Another new adventure?

A few months ago at, a lunch gathering of old high school girl friends, we had a discussion about what we would do with our lives if money were no object. Pam Mursch Steiner, who was unemployed at the time, said she would write. That is her dream and with some encouragement from the group, she began the next day fulfilling that dream. She created a blog called "Closed Doors, Open Windows." (See the link on this page.) She also began writing the book she had always dreamed of writing.

WELL....her blog inspired me to begin writing a blog also. I can't tell you how much fun I've had with this little project! What a blessing to have feedback from friends and family concerning whatever the subject of the day has been. I'm afraid I've been all over the place with the subject matter for these pages. I think that's okay as I simply write about what's on my mind and I enjoy doing it.

Here's the really weird thing: A little over a month ago I received an email from an unfamiliar person at Videojug.com asking me to begin a blog on their website. I was intrigued by the request and right away began writing a "How To" blog on cooking. It's mostly recipes from my young adult years and new recipes from friends and family. I am having an absolute blast with all these old recipes on "My Southern Table."

A couple of weeks into writing "My Southern Table", videojug.com began a competition. They have a judge who determines if your new pages are worthy of the competition and for every page chosen they put $1.00 in the prize pot. The top three will divide the pot with half going to the winner, etc. I began to receive messages indicating my pages were being entered in the competition. Then I began to accumulate followers. The amazing things is the followers are simply all over the world. They are from Spain, London, Tennessee, etc. How much fun is this? (By-the-way, I am currently in first place with another week or so to go in the competition.)

Here comes the really interesting part. I was discussing the blog with a new friend who also loves to cook and happens to own a B&B. He is a family man who lives in Orlando and spends a few days per week in Tavares at the B&B to see to his guests. During the course of the conversation he invited me to make breakfast from time to time for his patrons. I may also make dinner for up to twelve people if requested. I would love the opportunity to entertain guests in this beautiful old mansion and I'm looking forward to working out the details. I am also very nervous about the planning and executing part with my lack of formal cooking experience.

My Juice Plus business is booming and I am training new people and helping them succeed. There is not a ton of extra time to devote to this but I don't want to pass up a new opportunity. Please pray for guidance for me. I'm going to need all the help I can get. Thanks!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

How do you slow down a busy life?

My mother-in-law, Rhoda, is fading fast. She is 93 years old and her health has been declining for several years. She lives in Louisville, Kentucky in the home where my husband was reared. I wish we had visited more often this last year but life gets in the way of our priorities. We received the call last night advising she would not last much longer. As soon as Wayne was off the phone the debate about what to do and how to do it began.

We need to just get in the car and go to be with her but the electric meters need to be read, electric bills calculated, invoices for rent and electric printed and delivered. It's the first of the month and we can't just take off and do it later. It's a dilemma for both of us. Wayne is torn between needing to be with his mom and needing to complete his work. What to do, what to do...

I have commitments at church and Rotary and with my Juice Plus team for the next week or two as well. All I can think of is how I'm going to get it all done before we take off for Louisville and I'm praying we get there in time. How do we prioritize our lives?

Obviously we are not the only ones to face these challenges. I just can't determine how to change things. We can't just drop everything and run when we need to. There are people depending on us and there is church work to be done. How do you handle these issues?

One thing I shall resolve to do in the future is to keep up with the work at hand. If I weren't behind on just about everything, some of the issues I'm facing now would already be complete and behind me. I am also going to ask for help when I need help. Maybe the next time we have an emergency we'll be better prepared.

Lord help me with the important things and the trivial issues of everyday life. Give me the strength and wisdom to make the tough decisions. May the Holy Spirit guide my path. Amen

Monday, June 21, 2010

So many recipes...so many memories!

A couple of months ago I was invited to create a new blog on videojug.com. It's a "how to" site with mostly "how to" video clips. They wanted to expand into blog pages and I was invited to be a "Founder." I wasn't sure about it and had no idea how I would proceed but thought I would give it a try.

I decided to make it a food blog and publish mostly old southern recipes. I have been so pleasantly surprised by the memories conjured up by all the old casseroles and dishes. Each click of the keyboard makes me smile as I type the ingredients list of my aunt's "fried" corn or my mother's "one egg cake." With each published recipe I think of three others I want to request from my favorite cooks. Red fish from my brother Joe, coconut cream pie from Catherine Aylor, key lime pie from Alan Carter...I could go on and on.

My family and circle of friends is chocked full of gifted cooks and it's difficult to decide which recipe to request next. As I reminisce about the family dinners and Junior Women's Club card parties and casual gatherings with friends I treasure the food and fellowship that has made up a large part of my life.

I am thrilled with my new adventure and grateful for all those who follow both my blogs. I love the comments and appreciate the good wishes. Amazingly, I never thought of writing and publishing until a few months back when my friend, Pam, launched a blog and inspired me to do the same. And here we both are....just publishing away!

Thank you Lord for old and new friends. Thank you for inspired cooks who share their recipes and techniques. Amen

Thursday, June 17, 2010

20 Pounds lost....hope I don't find them again!

Today was a milestone. I have lost a total of 20 pounds in about five weeks. I am celebrating by continuing to do what I have been doing since I began the diet. After all, I used to celebrate by allowing myself a special "treat." That would have caused me to put back on a couple of pounds. I call that discipline and discipline has been a serious problem for me in the past. I sincerely hope my undisciplined days are behind me because losing weight is no picnic!

I am a little less than half way to my weight loss goal. I have 28 more pounds to lose and I am growing weary. It is difficult to eat out or socialize with friends as I don't want to be a pain. I am also a foodie and my limited diet is not very satisfying.

The good news is the diet is effective and I'm losing so quickly I won't have to be on it for more than another five weeks. That is, if I continue to lose at the same rate. I'll be able to go to the next phase that will allow a few more carbs and a little more fat. I'll be grateful for the fat as my hair and nails are absolutely brittle.

I am very happy to report I am wearing clothes I haven't fit into in quite some time. Bathing suits are still an issue. I look better but it still isn't pretty! Maybe next year!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Birthday boy cooks!



It is my brother, Joe's, birthday week and he spent the weekend cooking for the entire neighborhood. Thursday was roasted chickens on the big green egg accompanied by grilled zucchini, yellow squash and onions. It was, as usual, outstanding. A day of laying in the sun, floating in the pool and eating good food while visiting with family is a good day.

Friday was my niece, Angela's, birthday. A large party of friends, neighbors and family was on again. This day was another day of floating and drinking, sunning and visiting (gossiping if the truth be known) followed by more picnicking. This time the menu was a little fancier. Joe grilled an entire rib eye on the spit. His Parmesan mashed potatoes are always the best accompaniment with the roast beef. The ever popular King salad was also a hit. The topping on the cake, so to speak, was a beautiful masterpiece of a birthday cake by Angela's friend, Joannah. Angela's friends were dressed up and sassy. What a beautiful group of young ladies. They partied 'til 2:00am. I was long ago in bed when all the younger folks left. Another good day!

Today was a day of sunning, swimming, drinking, eating and visiting. Are you getting the pattern? Today's menu was ribs on the Big Green Egg (a ceramic smoker) that we all had to smell for six hours. The aroma from the ribs made our taste buds perk up and our mouths water all day. Justin, my nephew, made a fabulous cole slaw, ML made a tasty pasta salad and Jerry made an appetizer of cerviche Atlantic salmon. I shall publish the recipe for the salmon on my other blog, "My Southern Table" if he will allow me. It was spicy with jalapenos, soy and onion.

Here's the really sad news....I could eat none of it. My diet is still on. I have lost a total of 16 pounds so far and I do not intend to stop until I reach my goal. You would be proud of me. No drinking, no snacking, no potatoes, no pasta salad, no cake!! I am very proud of myself. It wasn't easy. I love all that stuff but I didn't cheat. There has to be a reward for me somewhere down the line. Lord give me strength!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

A new adventure?

I was recently invited, due to this blog, to be a founder on Videojug.com's pages. The invitation said they were looking for "experts, such as yourself." HA! I accepted the challenge of creating a blog on Videojug even though I do not have a clue how to operate the new blog. This blog "Food for thought and spirit" was also a challenge in the beginning. Just finding my way around the blog site, determining how to create, edit and publish posts took some effort. I made some mistakes and learned from them. I was able, after some experimentation, to decipher how to post images and videos.

The focus of the new blog will be food and nutrition. I intend to invite my "foodie" friends and family to contribute to my pages....as soon as I figure out how to do it myself. I tried to post a picture of a bowl full of Zellwood corn for my first page post and it just didn't work. I know I'll learn as I go and the site will look good and provide good information but it may take a while.

I would love to share your favorite recipes if you are willing to allow them to be published. They may not have been published before, unless it was in a recipe book to which you submitted the recipe. AND I would love a story to go with the recipe. Is it a family favorite? Did you grandmother make it for family holiday gatherings.

Check it out and let me know what you think. http://pages.videojug.com/sites/47-soul-of-the-south Become a follower and make a comment. I can't wait to see how the blog will look in a couple of weeks after I figure it all out! Thanks to all the current followers and I look forward to your comments and advice for the new blog.

Friday, May 28, 2010

My brain is back in gear...

If you have been following my progress with this low carb/high protein diet, you know my brain has been out of commission. Since the brain operates on fat and carbs and I have deprived my body of those two nutrients, I have been pretty much mush brained. Even my hair is like straw and my skin is that of an alligator. It's amazing to me how fast your body changes when you do not feed it properly.

Yes, I know the current diet is not sustainable. I shall stay on it long enough to lose 90% of the weight I want to take off. Then I'll start reintroducing more fat and a few carbs. I had been assured my brain would adjust and get going again after a couple of weeks. I am now in the third week and I am happy to report I am starting to see a difference. I'm not where I need to be with focus and motivation yet but I'm getting there.

I am thinking of taking this day off and puttering in the garden so as not to beat myself up over not getting things done. If I plan to loaf maybe my mind can accept that I have been totally unproductive today!

One thing I know for sure...I'm going to Zellwood for some corn. Lots of corn. I'm not eating it but I am cutting it off the cob and freezing it for when I'm able to eat corn again. Is there anything better than Zellwood corn?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

In it for the long haul!

I am happy to report an answer to prayer on the diet. I am beginning to accept that I shall have to stick with this diet for the long haul. Although I'll not have to stay with the drastic phase I'm doing now, I'll have to change my lifestyle for the duration. Currently my diet consist of packaged protein three times each day and several cups of vegetables. Once per day I may have meat and vegetables. Currently there are few vegetables from which to choose. Since I am a vegetable lover this has not be easy. I can hardly wait to get into the next phase so I can add another meat at lunch and more vegetables. I really miss carrots!

Okay, I'm finished whining. The really great news is...drum roll please....I lost another pound overnight. That is motivation enough to keep going. I know if I cheat or go off the diet for a day I'll have to start all over. I'm in it for the long haul!

I am looking for a creative spirit in myself to come up with a few good recipes I can use on the diet. If I can create a tasty dish or two it will help many who have started the diet with my doctor. I have spoken with a few of my fellow dieters and we are all hungry for a change in the menu. I'll be working on that this week. No carbs presents the biggest challenge because a casserole would be a really good thing but there is nothing I can use to hold it together. Everything in a recipe that is used to thicken or bind is a carbohydrate.

I'll publish any recipes I'm able to develop. Meantime, please pray for me and the other folks battling weight gain and diabetes.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Please Lord, change my attitude about dieting!!

Okay, so I need to lose some pounds....many, many pounds. Can't there be a way to do that without becoming completely and totally bored to death with the food on the list? There must be something out there that would just melt away the pounds while eating tasty, visually satisfying meals. RIGHT!

Actually, I now know it takes focus and effort to lose weight. I didn't get this way overnight and I won't be slim and trim again overnight. I am praying for a change of attitude though. When you are a "foodie" like me it is even more difficult. I love food. I love cooking and trying new recipes. I love trying new restaurants and having lunch with girl friends. I love food!

The good news is, I have been following a low carb, high protein program for almost two weeks now and I have lost 12 pounds. How cool is that? I expect by the time I weigh tomorrow (the two week mark) I shall have lost another pound. I know if I stick with it I'll reach my goal in about six weeks. I think, with prayer, I shall persevere to the goal.

On phase two I'll be able to have a little more variety but I'll never be able to go back to my beloved Starbucks Frappuccinos! UGH! I'll never be able to just eat mindlessly again either. Sugar is gone. I'll eventually be able to stick to an 80/20rule but for the most part this is a life changer.

I'll do my best to stay with until I can relax a little. I've put to much into to it to quit now. Please pray for me to have the strength to make it to my goal. Thanks everyone!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Perfect Day and Great Food....Recipes Included!

I wrote a few days ago about our perfect weekend at the Rainbow River (Blue Run) in Dunnellon. (See below or post for May 17) I also promised to post the recipes and that's what I want to do today....along with any stories that come to mind.

My friend, Judy, is a wonderful cook and enjoys spending all day in the kitchen preparing for guests that will arrive in the early evening. Judy never seems to grow frazzled or in a hurry. She simply enjoys entertaining friends in her beautiful river home. The one difference I've notice in Judy's style of cooking and mine is she measures. I love trying new recipes and sometimes measure the first time but after that it's a little of this and that. The advantage to Judy's method is consistency. Her salads taste the same each time while mine vary. I like consistency and plan to do a little more measuring.

Here's the salad we enjoyed Saturday evening:

Regal Romaine Salad

5 slices bacon
2 heads Romaine lettuce, torn
2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut into halves
1 cup (4 ounces) grated Swiss cheese
2/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1 1/2 cups croutons

Dressing:
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
3/4 cup vegetable oil

Cook bacon until crisp. Drain, crumble and set aside. In a large salad bowl combine lettuce, tomatoes, cheeses, almonds and bacon. Pour dressing over salad and add croutons and toss.

Dressing: Whisk ingredients in a small bowl until well blended. Cover and let stand for 3 hours.

This salad was one of the lightest, freshest tasting salads I have enjoyed in a long time. I can't wait to take it to church for our pot luck on Friday night. I am usually asked to bring my King Salad, a recipe from a flight attendant friend, but I think it's time they all tried something new. I know they will love it.

I am also going to bring a vegetable dish as that is what I signed up for. (Judy's salad inspired me.) I am thinking I may bring my squash casserole. It's a recipe from my former mother-in-law and is always popular.

Tootsie's Squash Casserole

3 cups squash, sliced and cooked
1 small onion, chopped and cooked with squash
6 tablespoons butter
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 cup milk
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup saltine crackers, crushed
Salt and pepper to taste

Drain cooked squash and onions. Add butter and cheese while squash is still hot. In a separate bowl mix beaten egg and milk. Add egg/milk mixture to squash the add the crackers. Pour into greased casserole dish and bake 45 minutes at 350 degrees or until set and top is slightly brown.

This is one of my family's favorites and always requested for holiday meals. Holidays wouldn't be the same without Tootsie's squash casserole. My granddaughter is now making this dish about as often as I. She is a gifted cook, enjoys cooking and is developing her skills each day.

I hope you enjoy. Call me if you have any questions.

Monday, May 17, 2010

A perfect day!







Blue Run meanders through Dunnellon like a ribbon of peace and quiet most days. On the weekends it becomes a gurgling, swirling, drifting couple of miles of family fun. Floridians come from all over to float down the river. The style of floats and inner tubes is as diverse as the people enjoying the water and fellowship. Couples, teenagers, families, church groups...all taking a few hours to enjoy a cooling drift and commune with nature. Some of you may know the Blue Run better as the Rainbow River.

We were there for the weekend visiting our friends, Gary and Carol, and spent most of the time on the dock watching the floaters. The weather was absolutely perfect with a gentle breeze and plenty of sunshine. Our friends rigged a fire hose on the end of the dock they use to pump the river in a large arc back into the river creating a huge plume of water. The teenage boys trying to guide their squealing girlfriends under the water is predictable and amusing. Even the boaters get into the action by driving their boats (driver under cover) through the waterfall while the folks on the front scramble to avoid getting wet. Everyone has a good laugh about it then return to navigating between the floaters and the rocks.

All day friends come by and join us on the dock, stay awhile and then leave to visit on another dock. It's a river thing that goes on all weekend. Some come by boat others walk or come in golf carts or Polarises. We visited the neighbors yards to see the latest gardening projects and take pictures of the unusual flower of which no one can remember the name.

At the end of the day different groups join together for dinner in the river houses. We were blessed to be invited to Judy and Lon's river house for a fabulous pork tenderloin with a honey, orange, ginger glaze and sauteed spinach with garlic aoli, smashed potatoes with Parmesan and a delicious Regal Romaine salad with homemade dressing of lemon, garlic and oil. (I'll post a couple of these recipes soon.)

I enjoyed getting to know a new friend, Lisa, whom I had met before but had not seen in a long time. Lisa had a brilliant idea to take picture of the floaters and post them on her website where families can visit to order pictures of their children having a blast in the water. Her web site is www.bluerunfun.com.

The weekend was a blessed break from our hectic lives. As an added treat just before we left to return home a mother red fox let us have a peek at her new family. It is such a rare treat we were simply mesmerized.

Thank you Lord for your awesome gift of natural beauty. Thank you for friends, both old and new. Thank you for a beautiful day to enjoy. Thank you for a day off from the stresses of our lives. Amen.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Tis a joy to be simple...

'Tis the joy to be simple,
'tis the joy to be free,
'tis the joy to come down where you ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
It will be in the valley of love and delight

This is an excerpt from an old Shaker hymn. I love visiting "Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill" just south of Lexington, Kentucky. The Shaker's had some strange beliefs but they were way ahead of their time in simplicity and innovation. At a time when the local folks lived in log cabins with dirt floors the Shakers had brick three story homes with wooden floors and beautiful, artistic staircases.

They raised vegetables not only for sustenance but for the seed. They packaged and sold seeds and were famous for it. They were innovators in farm tools and farming techniques. They were also celibate which explains why the Shaker movement died out.

One of my favorite trips was with my cousins to Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill. We stayed on the property in one of the original buildings. The furniture is very simple in style with straight lines. There are few amenities in the rooms and the wooden floors creak with every step. The bathroom was definitely bare bones as well. The food was fabulous, served family style and accompanied by hot biscuits and cornbread slathered with fresh butter. Most of the vegetables were grown there at Shaker Village and included an array of pickles, jellies and jams.

We enjoyed the visit so much we stayed for a reenactment of one the Shaker worship services followed by a quiet, serene ride on a paddle boat down the Kentucky River.

I long to go back to Kentucky this time of year. I can just picture the deep green leaves, the blue grass and a big table full of mouth watering fresh vegetables and pickles.

God bless the volunteers who work so hard to preserve the Shaker Village. Amen

Here's a link if you're interested in more information: www.shakervillageky.org

Friday, May 7, 2010

Old Friends!






We started first grade together, went through elementary, junior high and high school. We graduated together twelve years later. We have lived our lives separately and now we have come back together in our "senior" years. Most of us have grandchildren, some of us have many and I have grandchildren old enough to make me a great grandmother. PULLLLEEEEZZZZE!

We have lunch once per month. It's always fun and we're a little rowdy for most people's taste but the wonderful thing about age is....we don't' care.

We had lunch on the "veranda" today and spent much time laughing about the waiter who did not have a single thought in his mind that did not come out of his mouth. We shopped in the cute little gift shop and talked about a pact to never wear SAS shoes! (Wearing SAS shoes means you are officially old! Everyone knows that!)

We discussed our trials and tribulations, agreed to pray for one another, called friends to find out what Vera Bradley bag they were looking for, discussed our plans for the next few weeks. Some plans included great vacations, the impending birth of new grand babbies, visiting grown children undergoing chemo therapy and grandchildren going off to college.

Carol was out of town, Sue was baby sitting her grandchildren, Marsha was in the hospital and Carolyn was having lunch with her visiting brother. In short, not all of our usual gang was together physically but we were all together in spirit. We have enjoyed this type of friendship since we were little girls. We are blessed to still enjoy and, indeed, treasure our friendships some sixty years later. With God's blessing we will still be getting together once per month when we are 105 years old.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Gardening is God's blessing for the weak!















A few days ago I wrote about my occasional "road rage" and my weak mind and explosive temper. Now I am writing about my love of gardening and the peace I find in watching living things grow. I marvel at the beauty of a flower blossom. I even like the weeds that bloom. After all, all plants started as "weeds." These are a few of the new blooms from this morning.

The gardenia is my very most favorite and I have been eagerly anticipating the day the buds would open. I have been carefully watching, watering, fertilizing, checking for bugs and disease and today I am rewarded with the first of many blooms. And then there's the fragrance....aaawwww. I love the lovely perfume of gardenia. Have you ever seen such a pure white?

The other pictures are special as well. This is the first year the yellow African Iris has bloomed. I planted it several years ago and I was beginning to think I was going to have to move it again or chuck it. As much as I love them I am not very tolerant of poor performers. I am patient enough to give them plenty of time to put on a show but eventually they have to produce.

The spike is an Agave Cactus, more commonly known as a Century Plant. Once it blooms the plant dies. The spike just started about a week ago and it's already 15 to 20 feet tall. You can watch it grow. Amazing! The last one that bloomed in our back yard grew to 40 or 50 feet and we had to cut it down before it fell and took out a tree. It was leaning and we were having storms. Hopefully this one will be allowed to grow and bloom.

I am thankful tonight for the gift of a green thumb and I hope you enjoy the pictures too.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Road Rage!!!












I am a calm, easy going person most of the time. I am very flexible, adapt to change easily and love life in general. There are a few things that will "set me off" but only a few things. One is looking for stuff that I know I put "right here." When it is not "right there" I have a tendency to throw a little fit.

The other thing that makes me a little crazy is slow drivers in front of me on a two lane road when I'm running 10 minutes behind schedule. Good grief! You would think I was a crazy woman! I don't make gestures or honk or anything anyone would notice but the thoughts that go through my mind and the words that emanate from my mouth are incredible. I can just hear my Aunt Ruth saying, "she'd be such a pretty girl if it weren't for that mouth." Sometimes I don't even recognize myself.

It happened tonight on my way to Lake Mary for a Juice Plus event. I was headed east on SR46 and you guessed it, someone is doing 25mph in a 55mph zone.COME ON!! Is it really necessary to come to a complete stop before you make a right hand turn? Do you slow pokes always have to be going in my direction?

The good news is, I came to my senses and started to wonder what Jesus would think of my thoughts and language at that moment. GUILTY! My friend, Pam, posted one of my favorite verses on her blog this week. It is my prayer for myself tonight.

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in thy sight. Oh Lord, my Strength and my Redeemer. Amen. Psalm 19:14

Friday, April 30, 2010

The little old lady who lives in my head!!




I attended a seminar by Bob Samara, personal coach, back in 2008 and he talked about the "little old lady who lives in your head." The old hag doesn't want things to change and every time you think you have conquered defeat she pops up again. Nah nah nah nah nah!! "You are never going to amount to anything." "You will never change." "You will never accomplish your goals." "You will never pass that test." Yadda yadda yadda! Bob says it's all about the images you hold in your subconscious mind. If the image in your subconscious is not in alignment with your reality, your subconscious wins. You will create what you think about.

Doesn't the Word of God tell us the same thing. "When you pray, pray believing..." "As a man thinketh in his heart so is he..." "I can do all things through Christ who strengthen me." Joel O'steen talks about "the surpassing greatness of God's favor."

I am simply scratching the surface of the subconscious mind and God's will for our lives but it is certainly worth exploring. I can't tell you how many times that old lady has caused me trouble. She is much smaller today than she used to be but she isn't dead. Maybe in the next few months I can let her "rest in peace." Perhaps I'll invite Bob Samara to make a few comments. It can't hurt and may help some of the folks who read my blog. I hope so!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Container gardening 101



One of the wonderful gifts I received for my birthday was a book on container gardening. The title is "Container Gardens for Florida" by Pamela Crawford. My buddy, Paula, gave it to me. Although I received it weeks ago I just found time to sit down and browse through it yesterday. It came with a DVD that has demonstrations on how to do things and what NOT to do. I can't find the DVD and the book keeps referring to it. My quest for today is to find that DVD!!

One wonderful thing about the book is the pictures of the containers after they are planted and arranged in groups. The pictures were so inspiring I barely thumbed through 10 pages before I found myself at the garden center picking out plants. I had a most enjoyable afternoon matching up colors, textures and sizes, sun loving plants vs. shade lovers, flowering vs. foilage.

Of course, all gardeners will recognize themselves when I tell you that my selection of pots were dingy and dull and I found it necessary to paint a pot before I could plant it. It's like starting to clean out a closet and before you know it you are cleaning the entire house and planning a garage sale. I retrieved the cans of spray paint and got started. I didn't like the first color I tried so I used several colors and made it a "mottled" look. The colors look very nice with the colors of the plants and I am pleased with the outcome. I hope I can keep the new planted containers looking good all surmmer and into the fall.


I had decided I would use three small pots a friend had given me to use in my patio courtyard. Instead I planted two big pots because I purchased too many plants and they were all too big for the three small pots. I am sitting here thinking now about how to plant those three small pots. Another trip to the garden center today is eminent. I have more empty and unused pots and they MUST be filled.

Thank you God for flowers and foiliage. I see you in all the beauty that surrounds me. Thank you for the good health I enjoy that enables me to complete my gardening tasks. Amen.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Home again, home again, jiggety jig



God knows I love to travel but coming home is it's own reward. Normally I like a four day trip. A little trip to the beach for a few days of R and R is a wonderful thing. I have even done a four day trip to Europe more than once. (I get there, cram in as much as possible and get back before my body can realize what's happened.)

The trip to Phoenix was a full eight days. Much, much longer than I like but I have to say it was most enjoyable. We were so busy sight seeing and Juice Plus conferencing we never had the "down" time to start missing our own bed and shower.

As I wrote previously, the landscape was beautifully in bloom, the weather was good and the company was great! I loved the art work and the native American culture. The food was wonderful and the massage was so relaxing I fell asleep several times. Wayne's magnificent gift was particularly appreciated. I can't wait to go back in two years!

But home sweet home is not just a cliche'. It wasn't easy getting here and we arrived at 0200. In the middle of the night while unpacking the car I found myself moving my potted plants out into the storm so they would receive God given rain water. In the dark I walked around our small courtyard to soak in the flowers and herbs. It seems the lush, tropical landscaping is in bloom here too. My gardenias are about to pop! I can hardly wait. (I shall post pictures when the buds are open.)

I am so happy to be back in my own bed, shower in my own shower have access to my own refrigerator. It takes so little to make me happy. I am just happy to be home sweet home.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Sonoran Desert








I have to admit I am a lover of tropical landscapes. I love the palm trees swaying in the gentle breezes, the red hibiscus in bloom everywhere and the orange blossom's fragrance is such a blessing. I also love never being very far from a body of water. While I was "exiled" in Cincinnati that is what I missed most, water...and also azaleas.

So now I am in Peoria AZ. It's about thirty miles north of Phoenix in the Sonoran Desert. I may as well be in a foreign land. As I drove out of Phoenix into the desert landscape my first thought was "this is ugly." Then I began to see the big awesome cacti. They are amazing! I was actually lost and in the middle of nowhere because I programed the wrong street number into the GPS. God has a sense of humor that way. I would never have seen the giant cacti and the smaller ones (don't no the name) that are in full bloom with bright red flowers on their tippy tops. When the GPS announced "I had arrived" there was not a building or human in sight. That's when I realized the desert has it's own beauty and it should be appreciated.

I sat there on the side of the road looking around at the barren land with the hills and mountains rising in the distance. There were no trees and seemingly very little color. However upon closer examination I found there is much color in the desert, not the bright vibrant kind but dusty hues or green and gray along with the earth tone colors of the hills.

I am intending to visit a botanical garden and a couple of nurseries this week to learn the names of some the beautiful specimens I have spotted already. There won't be any effort going into learning about lawn grasses. There aren't any. Every "yard" is sand and rock. I can't say I could live without St. Augustine but on the other hand there are no chinch bugs and no mowing! Wouldn't that be something!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

My hair hurts!

I am exhausted! All the Rotarians are exhausted! Wayne is exhausted too. How did we go and go and go when we were younger? I can't think of any area of my body that doesn't hurt. My hair even hurts! Or at least that was the expression many years ago. You get the idea.

The Dragon Boat Festival was a huge success. There were thousands and thousands of people there today. I never had time to walk the park and see all the sights. We were busy mixing up smoothies and helping people be healthy. I could hear the drums and saw the "awakening the dragon" ceremony. It was loud and colorful. The Chinese Acrobats were amazing and the drummers were incredible.

The food was delicious. I hate to admit we tried everything...hot dogs, hamburgers, fried egg rolls, fried shrimp, fried pickels, funnel cake, oh my! Wayne even took his Juice Plus capsules with beer. What's up with that?

The paddlers are well organized and seem to have a ton of fun paddling. Each team had their own tent and many of them brought elaborate buffets or grills for grilling, chairs, mats, etc. They were true athletes, working out and stretching before they competed. Many of them inquired at our tent and purchased smoothies so I think we will have some new, health conscious followers soon.

When we arrived home we had to unload the car again. Empty the coolers, wash the blenders, put things away....AGAIN! Next year will be different. I shall offer discounts to the paddlers and get word to them ahead of time. I'll have a wagon to bring our "stuff" into our tent and back to the car. I'll also bring food since none of need the junk we ate today. I did enjoy it though. 80/20

Now we start packing as our flight to Phoenix leaves at 0830 tomorrow from Orlando. At least when we arrive at the Cibola Vista in Peoria AZ we will have nothing to do but relax for four days!! Thank you Jesus!

Friday, April 16, 2010

A good time was had by all!

Opening ceremonies are over, the dragon is awake and the paddlers are ready to compete. The dinner honoring our invited dragon boat officials and local elected officials went well. The food was delicious and the pina coladas were magnificent! Our Rotary District Governor and Assistant Governor were in attendance along with the District Foundation Chair. Thanks to all who made it a successful event. A special thank you to our sponsors, Danny and Dr. Susan Caddell and Vann Gannaway Chevrolet.

Wayne and I have spent the evening loading the car at home, unloading the car at the festival, reloading the car at the festival, unloading the car at home and reloading the car for tomorrow. WHEW!

I have a Juice Plus tent and we are selling smoothies! Come on down and try something healthy. When you are out of sight of my tent you can go indulge in hot dogs or barbecue! Just don't let me see you.

Don't forget THS grad, Robert (Bob) Douce will be signing his book "Cosmic Light." He will be delighted to see all his old friends.

Don't miss this very fun time tomorrow. There will be a few sea planes, many pleasure boats and lots and lots of dragon boats and paddlers. Some of the paddlers are serious. Others are just fun. We have several teams from The Villages. I believe I heard they are the first "seniors" team in dragon boat racing. Everyone should enjoy the waterfront and the festival.

God keep all of us safe and bless the City of Tavares and the Dragon Boat Festival! Amen.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Staging

Okay...the Dragon Boat Festival VIP Tent (my responsibility) is nearing completion. The Cups, glasses, plates, napkins and utensils are bagged and ready for the truck. The wine, beer and alcohol are purchased and ready to be transported, iced and served. The tent is erected, the tables ready to be set up, the table cloths ready to be laid and the decorations placed.

I still have a few things left to get ready for my Juice Plus tent on Saturday but Friday night is under control. It will be an early morning tomorrow with last minute details and pit falls. (The hotel rooms for our officials and out town guests were given away and we just found out about it. There are very few rooms left in the area! Ugh!) I am sure President Becky has that under control by now.

With all the hard work for all the Rotarians it will still be a fun weekend. There will be much racing a little imbibing and a lot of fellowship. There will also be a great deal of pride in the Tavares waterfront!

To top it all off I just returned from a virtual franchise presentation and hope I have a really dynamite new team member! Thank you God for helping us all get through this very hectic last few days with grace and peace. Keep us safe and along with all our guests. Amen

So much to do and the clock is ticking!

It's crunch time. The Dragon Boat Festival begins tomorrow night and there is still much to do. The Rotary leadership is very well organized and it's certainly not the first time at the dance for most. It is for me. Although I joined Rotary last spring I could not participate in the Dragon Boat Festival last year due to a prior commitment. Now I am learning while doing.

Everyone has been working hard and it's going to be a fabulous event! There will be sponsors and vendors,several hundred paddlers and thousands of spectators. There will be great food creating wonderful aromas in the park. The water park will be open for the kids and the waterfront in Tavares has never looked better. The City of Tavares is doing a great job of handling all the festivals each weekend. Congrats go to all involved.

I can't wait to see the "Awakening the Dragon" ceremony tomorrow night and I know the acrobats and drummers will be a special treat. We'll be ready and hope you'll be there to have fun with us.

Unfortunately, I have been so busy with Dragon Boat I am still not packed for our trip to to Phoenix. We are leaving Sunday morning for a few days at the beautiful Cibola Vista Resort and Spa in Peoria AZ. I also have a Virtual Franchise presentation tonight for which I am barely prepared. Since Wayne and I will be at the festival tomorrow night and all day Saturday I am just not sure when we are going to pack and get ready to go. I don't see a lot of sleep in our future.

Yesterday was our 17th wedding anniversary and we didn't even have time to celebrate. The Cibola Vista will be a relaxing and celebratory time for both of us. Four wonderful days of pampering and resting and reflecting. Can't wait to just sit and read a book. Any suggestions for a good novel to read on our trip?

Following our four days of indulgence we begin four days of the Juice Plus Leadership Conference in Phoenix. I always look forward to the conference and reconnecting with my JP+ family and leadership. It's going to be a busy few days and a relaxing week following. Let the frenzy begin!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Surprise, surprise, surprise....




How much fun are surprise parties? I can't even begin to describe it. I have always claimed (and it's true) no one can surprise me, I'm too intuitive. Many have tried, many have failed. That is until last night.

Paula and Wayne pulled off the near impossible. Wayne had mentioned we were going out for dinner "next Monday night." I didn't give that much thought and promptly forgot about it. Last night I was beginning to prepare dinner when Wayne walked in and reminded me we were going out tonight. Of course, I wanted to know where we were going and he told me it was casual so I could go in jeans if I wanted. (I never trust his judgement about what is casual. He thinks all restaurants are casual.) So I bathed and dressed and told him I was ready to go. I had to wear really high heels because my pants were too long. Not so casual but still in pants.

Now I'm thinking, darn! Our anniversary is day after tomorrow and he is taking me out for an early anniversary dinner and I haven't even bought a card yet. Now I have it all figured out so he still has not surprised me. We drove through Mount Dora and out Highlands so I'm thinking we are headed to Orlando. He slows in front of a restaurant I didn't even know was there and says, "What about this place?" I told him I didn't know anything about it and had never even noticed it. He says, "let's try it." fine but there is no place to park. It's a very small parking lot so we parked across the street.

When we crossed over to the restaurant a wait staff member was at the door motioning us to come to that door. (The restaurant entrance can easily be confused with the kitchen door.) We walked through the door and a mighty racket scared me to death. There they all were with party hats, noise makers, clappers and balloons everywhere. I wish I could have seen the look on my face. What a wonderful surprise with great friends, good wine and fabulous food! Thanks to all who participated.

Now a word about the restaurant. It is called the "Saucy Spoon Bistro" and it's only open on Saturday night, Sunday for brunch and Monday night. They have an appetizer buffet for all and the menu is very limited and very special. Our entrees were accompanied by family style roasted vegetables and potato croquettes. YUM! I can't wait to go back. Next time it will be Sunday brunch.

Now the really good part. After dinner we all went back to Paula and Jim's for dessert! Paula made a flan and an Italian cream cake. Susan had made wedding cookies and coconut cookies and Alan had made one of his world famous Key lime pies. I am still smiling. It was wonderfully indulgent.

The gifts were equally wonderful and I received an instant face lift from the group. (Duct tape!)


I have to thank God for good friends, lifelong friends, a loving spouse and the trouble they go to in making your birthdays special. I love them all and know I am blessed.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Criss crossed lives....

Have you ever prayed for guidance to know what you should be doing with your life? I have. Many, many times. The answer I received was the same each time but it took me a while to realize it. I think God speaks clearly to me. I just don't always hear Him. Listening is the issue. When I finally "got it" I began moving to follow the path I believed was mine. Then the doubts began. Why does that always happen?

I think my problem has been I didn't understand WHY God wanted me to do what He wanted me to do. WHY is a very big word. When the "why" of something is defined it changes everything. The purpose becomes crystal clear and the doubts recede.

The purpose for my path is the people who will be touched in ways that I could never understand. People come into our lives for a purpose and it doesn't always have to be about me. Maybe, just maybe, it's about them and their lives. I am very okay with that now that I understand it. Our lives criss cross until we are all woven together. The "fabric of our lives" is not just a slogan or a cliche' but a reality. We are all connected like a patchwork quilt and God is the stitching.

I can't believe how many times the answer to my WHY has been spoken to me by others who didn't know they were giving me a message. Now that I understand it I can remember time and time again hearing the same expressions but I never heard them. Sometimes God, a brick up side the head may be more effective. Now that I understand I feel so foolish for not realizing it before. Do you suppose He ever grows weary of our lack of understanding?

I know there is a scripture that could be inserted here but I can't think of it. Maybe someone out there can help me with that?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Yard work....the results!





Does God create anything more beautiful than flowers? I suppose you could say children but I'm talking about just the shear beauty of a simple plant or tree with a bud that opens to a remarkable splash of color. It is easier this time of year for me to "feel" God's presence in my garden. I find myself meandering around the house with a cup of tea thinking each bloom is prettier than the last. As I approach each bed I whisper, "Thank you Lord!"

The extremely long period of cold weather has damaged so many of the tropicals making it necessary to cut them back to the ground. The really good news is they will come back! That means there is going to be another flush of blooms later in the year when they all recover. If they do not recover sufficiently this year then the rewards will be delayed but the rewards will most assuredly be there. Isn't that just the way God works?

I hesitate to admit I am trying to grow tomatoes again this year. Each year I try and each year I declare I am never trying to grow tomatoes again. I am defeated by bugs, blossom end rot, worms and insufficient nutrients. I am an avid and experienced gardener but tomatoes cause me frustration to no end. I love tomatoes and consume them daily. It would be cheaper to just buy them but I can't seem to put to rest the desire to grow them. When I was exiled to the north I grew them successfully every year. Is it Florida?

God thank you for flowers. Thank you for the peacefullness of my garden. I know you are there with me. Thank you for the sweet, sweet fragrance of the orange blossoms and the melody of the birds singing. Help me remember to enjoy your gifts of beauty. Amen

Friday, April 9, 2010

Gadget techno geek?

Do I fit that category? I have to admit I am saving my pennies (literally) for an iPad! I love my iPhone, Bluetooth, my computer, my lap top and most especially the DVR. The GPS has saved me many, many hours of frustration with my hubby! Satellite radio saves me when I'm traveling and digital cameras, well need I say more?

Most of my Juice Plus business is completed via computer as well. It seems everyone is busy and few want to venture out at night for a presentation. Fortunately, someone recognized this and came up with an online presentation. Now it's twenty minutes, you at your computer, me at mine (both in our pajamas if we want) and we walk through the web page. How cool is that??

Much of the paper work of what I do has been eliminated. My family's business, my Juice Plus business, my church committees, my position as Treasurer of the Rotary. All of it on the computer. I print out only what is needed at a meeting. Almost everything is point and click.

Transfers online, reserve books at the library, order products (even shoes), pay the bills, do background checks on potential tenants, contribute to charities, research medical conditions.... Is there any end to the ways the Internet has made our lives easier?

Of course, there are always down sides to everything. Identity theft is huge, carpal tunnel is on the rise but for the most part I'll take the technology any day!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Yard work....

Those two words conjure up all kinds of feelings for most people. For our handyman, Ray, it strikes fear in his heart. He knows when the weather is warm and I leave the park in the truck he is going to have to do yard work. This year has been particularly fearful because there has been so much cold damage. We have been forced, much to my chagrin, to dig out some very old tropicals that have been here for many, many years. Most of our established plants are coming back but we have some 70+ year old gardenias that were eight feet tall that are not showing any signs of life. I am still hopeful. Ray just keeps chanting, "Plastic, they make these things in plastic."

For my husband, Wayne, it means spending time that would have been devoted to refurbishing a mobile or making needed repairs. To say he doesn't enjoy it would be an understatement. He is good about taking care of the irrigation and major mechanical needs and he doesn't mind that so much. I can't even say he complains about the work as he always appreciates how nice everything looks when we are finished.

Gardening is my hobby. I love it! I love it! I have missed getting out there and digging in the dirt. I don't really do much of the actual digging any more but I do "supervise" quite well. (I hurt my hip last year and no one wants a repeat of that.) This week we had to remulch, replant, prune, fertilize, dig out, replace, repot. In a couple of instances we had to move stuff I just planted two weeks ago. Why do they sell plants in Florida that can't withstand the heat??

The other pleasantry is the wonderful Florida aroma of orange blossoms in bloom. Everyday I thank God for that beautiful frangrance filling the air. If a "smell" could be music, this time of year would be like a symphony! By the time the orange blossoms are finished the conferderate jasmine will be in full bloom and oh my, the wisteria is gorgeous and fragrant.

The park's butterfly garden needs much work this year. The poor monarchs have no place to lay their eggs because my milk weed is just dead. There are plenty of nectar plants and water but no host plants available. Sorry Ray, that's the next project. Love, hate and fear all wrapped up into two words....yard work.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

I am healed! One of five important women in my life in a foreign land.

Once upon a time I found myself in a foreign land called Kentucky. I had been misplaced by a spouse in search of the perfect job where he could be both powerful and beloved. My family was uprooted from central Florida and plopped down in sub zero weather in the middle of the snow covered countryside somewhere outside of Cincinnati, Ohio. The Ohio river was frozen over, something that doesn't often happen. The Cincinnati Bengals were playing in the Super Bowl, something that doesn't often happen. We arrived in the frigid north to move into our new home on this day so there was noone to help us even navigate the icy roadways. They were all watching the bowl game.

Of course, the first thing I did, once it was safe to venture outside, was find a church. In that little church in a small town in northern Kentucky I made friends. I was an outsider and therefore suspicious but some of the indigenous people were willing to trust me and invited me to a Bible study in their homes. Five of these women would become, for a time, the most important people in my life.

I'm going to leave out the minor details, like my spouse was unfaithful with one or more of his students,(He was teaching at the local University.) and these women saw me through that and much, much more. This was a group of amazing Christian women who introduced me to events such as the "Praise Gathering For Believers" in Indianapolis, IN. They saw me through one of the most difficult periods of my life. (See previous post "The most difficult decision.")

One of the women was diagnosed with breast cancer about one year into my exile. She was a very special lady who braved every hardship with grace and concern for her family and friends. The reason I focus on her is she made a profound statement during one of my visits to her sick bed. She said, "don't worry about me. Because I know Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour, I am healed." I am sure she noticed my puzzled looked so she elaborated, "if I live, obviously, I'm healed. If I die, I am healed as I join Christ in heaven." I never forgot that brilliant understanding of Christ's healing power.

Not many people have the peace to walk in faith through the darkness with the assurance of the light on the other side. I am blessed to have known these incredible women who made a differnce in my life. (I'll write about the others later.)

I am praying tonight for that kind of peace and faithfullness for my friend who is braving a profound illness in her family. God bless you my friend.

Lazy Saturday...I thought!

This is the first Saturday in months I have nothing scheduled other than dinner and a movie at church tonight. I usually have a Juice Plus conference call at 9:00 AM and even that has been cancelled. I am not sure what to do with this time!

Of course, there is plenty I COULD do: clean my desk and file the piles, finish cleaning up my yard, work on getting taxes together (I'm late), prepare Easter dinner ahead, grocery shop for Easter dinner. Finding the proper balance between work and relaxation is an ongoing battle for me. I am quite sure I'm not alone in this struggle.

I have been so busy the last few days my head is spinning. I have literally run from one appointment to another, one meeting to another, one conference call to another. I have been asked to take leadership positions in at least three different organizations. (Another commonality for most of us??) Fortunately I have learned in my golden years to say NO! EXCEPT when it comes to Doris Ragan....she just doesn't take no for an answer. Can anyone identify?

Mrs. Ragan came in to the Rotary Club meeting Thursday and handed me a pile of manila envelopes and said, "Read these and get them back to me by Sunday." Then, even though she is a Rotarian, she left. What she handed me was the Women's Club scholarship essays from Tavares High School seniors. There are not only essays to read but letters of recommendation and transcripts. I distinctly remember telling her I could not help with this. I think she remembers it differently.

I guess I know now what I shall be doing with my unscheduled hours this morning. When I finish reading and complaining I'll relax a little and ejoy this beautiful day the Lord has made.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The most difficult thing...

My childhood friend recieved very troubling news today. Her son has potentialy serious health problems about which the doctors are not sure. This very same child (now an adult) has been the recipient, with his family, of several previous health related miracles. How should a parent react to such a shock?!

Having been there myself with each of my sons, I can identify and feel the pain for my friend and her family. The question is, how do we pray in these circumstances? A parent's instinct is to immediately pray for healing or a miracle. I am thankful when tragedy struck my life I had been attending a Bible study where we had discussed this very subject only a week or two prior to my son's accident. Another mother who had been "through the fire" had made the comment, "You have to let God's will be done and be okay with it." That is truely trusting God. BUT...that is the most difficult thing a parent can do. We are supposed to take care of our children. Remember....it's your child laying there on the road or the hospital bed. How does a parent do that?

My own experience was that I remembered that conversation in my Bible group and when the ambulance stopped to allow the EMTs to get an IV started I prayed. "God, he is in your hands and your will be done. I shall be accepting, with your help, of the outcome." The words to the old Hymn, "Peace Like A River", doesn't begin to describe the feeling that flooded my soul. It was knowing that all was well. I had no idea how it would happen but I knew my son was going to be fine.

Now the doctors were saying just the oposite in the emergency room and later in ICU. They were telling me he may not make it through the night. My only thought was, "You don't know what I know."

I shall write later about my other son's miracle. In the mean time please pray for my friend Pam and her son, Matthew and their family. Here is the Bible verse I posted on her blog:

Everything in the heavens and earth are yours, O Lord, and this is your kingdom. We adore you as being in control of everything. Riches and honor come from you alone, and you are the Ruler of all mankind; your hand controls power and might and it is at your discretion that me are made great and given strength. 1 Chronicles 29:11-12 TLB

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The good fight....

I lost a friend to cancer this past week. She fought the good fight and did whatever she could to combat this terrible plague on our society. She went through the normal routine of chemotherapy, followed all the doctors orders and tried to eat right. The problem was the chemo made her so sick she lost her appetite and her kidneys failed. After going through dialysis and finally getting back on her feet, she was ready to resume chemo but it was too late.

I miss my friend and I am regretting not calling her and seeing her more often. It had been several weeks since I had spoken with her and she had sounded in good spirits and seemed to being doing better. Her husband tells me she would perk up for friends who called. I didn't know she had gone downhill so quickly. There is a lesson to be learned here.

I am also encouraged that other friends and family who are battling cancer are educating themselves, getting second opinions and looking at alternative treatments. (Read Jim Miller's story on the Inspiration page of this blog.) In my relationships with my Juice Plus community there are many medical professionals and holistic medicine practitioners. Some of them are certified in both areas. I have learned so much from all of them in the past eight or nine years. None of them recommend cancer patients forgo chemotherapy but some people can't or won't choose that path to wellness.

I have a family member who is allergic to the different chemo drugs and I have another friend who refuses to go through chemo. For them the alternatives simply make more sense. Praise God that there are choices (like the Hippocrates Health Institute)for them.

Lord place your healing hand on those who suffer from diseases of the body or mind. Bless those who care for the sick, the nurses and doctors and hospice workers. Comfort those who are grieving for the loss of a beloved companion. Be present in their lives Lord through your Holy Spirit. Amen

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Catching up and starting over....

Okay, vacation is over, we have visited with our old and dear friends, we have eaten every treat we could lay our hands on, watched good movies and drank to excess. It was fun and now it's time to undo the damage.

Starting tomorrow I shall stop the Frappuccinos, again! I shall start to eliminate many of the toxins I regularly consume like Diet Coke. I am not going "cold turkey" but will gradually reduce the amount I consume. Part of the problem with stopping all at once is the headache from caffiene withdrawal is excrutiating. I've done it before and shall never do it again.

More vegetables, more fresh fruit, deffinately more salads shall be the order of each day this week. I am dragging out and dusting off my vegetarian cook books and plan to experiement with several new recipes. I shall also prepare some of our old favorites. I'll post any really good recipes I find, try and think they are worth your time. If you have any suggestions please email them to me.

Be in prayer that I'll find the discipline and strength to stick with my exercise program this week. I'll be praying for help too.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Grateful for R and R but ready to go home...

A little rest and relaxation is always a good thing. I love to travel and sight see and have been blessed with the ability to fly anywhere in the world for many years! I have enjoyed many popular cities in Europe, Asia, Central America, Canada and Mexico. It's great to visit but I love going home.

I am not one of those folks who can go on vacation for two weeks or a month. I love long weekends, sometimes five days away from home then I am more than ready to "get back at it." I also love my own bed and shower.

It has been fun working in new/different scenery and being away from the office phone. My lap top allows me to work from anywhere and stay in communication with anyone who needs me. I have been able to participate in conference calls via "Skype" on my computer and read books on my cell phone. (Kindle application for IPhone) The only thing we didn't have on this trip that was sorely missed was DVR. Do you get the idea I'm a gadget person? You would be right! Gadgets make my life easier and DVR is the best invention in the last 10 years!!

I never like to be negative but it's hard to remain on a diet or eating plan when you're traveling. We do the best we can by cooking in the condo and eating out only once per day. Most restaurants have decent vegetarian selections or an abundance of salads. We COULD make healthy choices but too often we convince ourselves "we're on vacation and we deserve that treat." Can anyone identify?

All in all it was an enjoyable few days visiting with old friends, soaking in the hot tub, dining on seafood and shopping. I am now ready for home.

Thank you Lord for dear friends. Thank you for a safe trip and the blessings of laughter, taste buds and lap tops. We give You praise for the beautiful scenery of native trees, colorful flowers, lakes and rivers You created. Keep us safe as we travel home and bring us back together again soon. Amen.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Reconnecting with old friends on a busy, busy vacation...

I'm not sure I have ever had a busier "vacation" and that's a good thing! Never thought those words would emanate from my lips. Usually I am looking for a laid back, lazy vacation with no phones, no text message, no emails! Lounging by the pool, basking in the sun, cool nights in the hot tub...that's more my style.

This vacation is very different. It's too cool for the pool (maybe tomorrow) and too many people in the hot tub. It's been overcast most of the time and the wind is blowing.

My phone is ringing off the hook and I'm happy about it. Our team is busy and growing. After months of stagnation everyone is suddenly "on fire!" That means more people will be healthy and happy in the long run and that's what it's all about.

I'm driving with my old friend and former flight attendant roommate to Orlando for a trade show tomorrow. Then we are driving back to St. Augustine tomorrow night to resume our vacation. I am praying this business to business expo will pay off since I have done many before with zero results.

All in all it's a good vacation even if it's not ideally restful. I'll take busy and growing any day and I'll be grateful for the blessings.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Grateful for vacations...

I was going to be thankful today for a lazy Saturday but after working all day preparing for a trade show next week, packing for vacation and finishing the fertilizing I have decided it wasn't a laid back lazy day after all.

There is never a shortage of blessings to be thankful for however. I am thankful Wayne and I have a short vacation beginning Monday. We are headed to St. Augustine to the World Golf Village for a few days of R and R. We plan to read books, lay by the pool, eat out a few times, eat in a few times....

Unfortunately, I double booked myself at a trade show for Rotarians in Orlando on Wednesday. Alas, I shall drive to Orlando on Wednesday afternoon and back to St. Augstine on Wednesday night, while Wayne sips pina calladas by the pool. DARN!!

It will be good to get away and rest, reflect, meditate and enjoy the company of good friends we don't often see. Larry and Phyllis are driving down from Atlanta to join us. They are old and dear Delta friends. Phyllis and I met in flight attendant training school in 1993 and have been good friends since. Larry is also a Delta employee and an excellent cook. I am looking forward to a "partner" in the kitchen. We both enjoy cooking and especially eating.

I'll try to post while I'm gone but can't promise anything. I may find a good outlet mall that will fill my time.

Thank you Lord for good friends and vacations. Be present with them and keep them and us safe on our drive. Bless us this week with peace and quiet, good weather and good food. Amen

Friday, March 19, 2010

Grateful for gardens...


I can't remember a longer winter in Florida. I can remember colder weather but it has never been this cool, this long. Everything in my yard and in the common areas of the park just look terrible! I have been putting off working in the yard to ensure there will be no more cold to further damage freshly pruned shrubs and tropicals. Today is the day! Praise the Lord for warm weather and sunshine!

Gardening has been my favorite pasttime for many years. I am relaxed and peaceful when I'm in the gardening mode. I always eagerly anticipate the rewards I know will follow the weeding, pruning, fertilizing, watering, mulching and replanting. The flowers and beautiful foilage are the wonderful reward. Is there anything prettier or sweeter smelling than a gardenia? (By the way, that's my gardenia upper left!!)

I have spent so much of my time growing my Juice Plus+ business the last year I have had little time to garden or participate with the Florida Master Gardeners. I miss the fellowship I used to enjoy on Thursday mornings with my fellow master gardeners at the Ag Center in the public gardens.

I hope to find a better balance this spring and summer. I intend to take time to enjoy the blessings from God in our yard and around the park. A friend sent me this poem yesterday. I have heard it before as I am sure you have but I love it.

The kiss of the sun for pardon.
The song of the birds for mirth,
One is nearer God's heart in the garden.
Than anywhere else on earth.


We have a butterfly garden here in the park and the birds love the bird bath there. It is seldom empty. When the robins are here there are five or six splashing and playing all the time. I hope to attract a larger variety of birds to the feeder this year as well. Maybe different kinds of feed will work.

Thank your Lord for this beautiful day. Thank you for adorning the earth with beautiful, fragrant foilage and flowers. Thank you for a healthy body that enables me to bend and stoop, pull and snip. Thank you for the kiss of sonshine on our faces. Amen