Monday, June 30, 2014

Who Are the People in Your Neighborhood?

Taking an after-dinner stroll through our neighborhood is a much-anticipated ritual of our summer evenings.  Most of the time, the boys will opt to stay home--shooting hoops or breaking in our new Spike-Ball set.  Thus, my hubby and I set off down the street, through our little three-cove community, within hollering distance of the house.   This is a novel concept for a city girl like me, born and raised in South Florida.  I must confess that I’m rather enamored of our own version of “country living”! 

We see bunnies scrambling across unfenced yards, folks watering their sun-drenched lawns, and dogs lounging underneath a shade tree--lazily ensconced behind their electric fence.  At the end of the street, there is an inlet, of sorts, that leads to a planted field--wheat or barley, we have determined.  And, if we get there at just the right time, we will see deer, cautiously exiting their woodland protection for a bite of dinner.  Again, the city girl gets giddy.

But, one unexpected delight has become my favorite part of our ambling--the music.  There is an older gentleman who opens up his garage door, turns on his stereo, and plays DJ from his lawn-chair.  It’s usually a “golden oldies” playlist--the Temptations, the Beach Boys, or even Ol’ Blue Eyes (Frank Sinatra, for the youngsters!)  It’s not obnoxious or annoying--simply loud enough for those who might wander past his driveway to enjoy.  And, quite frankly, my step will quicken a bit--likely in rhythm to the music.  Admittedly, I am the “vocalist” of this duo; but, I just know that my sweetie is humming along.  Inside. 

I just know it.

Saturday, June 28, 2014


A picture is worth a thousand words.
Shadetree Inn, St. Francisville, Louisiana
Save my place, I will be back.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Let Them Eat Cake

Hershey’s “Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate Cake, to be specific.  Slathered with “Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate Frosting, of course.  What is so special about this cake?  It is not only the delectable aroma that wafts through my kitchen while it bakes, but the story behind it.   This recipe comes from Hershey’s Classic Recipes, a cookbook gift from my dear friend, Leah, when we both lived in Pennsylvania.  She lived in Hershey, the sweetest place on earth, and I lived a mere 25-minutes away from Chocolate World.  The cookbook reminds me of her friendship, her way of making everything fun, and the fact that she taught me, over the phone, how to make a grilled cheese sandwich, because this was my first foray into full-time domestic management, with a new infant on my hip and an endearingly clueless sound in my voice.  At least, I like to think it was endearing.

I will openly admit that my husband is a fantastic cook and the first time he made this cake, it was a mouth-watering hit.  So much so that it has become the most often-requested birthday dessert on the "Dad, will you please make this?" list.  It is delicious, not only because it has the perfect combination of sugar, flour, and vanilla that make it so; but, because of the labor of love this cake represents.  It is not something that can be done spur-of-the-moment, or with haste.  It takes patience, precision, and love--ingredients essential to the process, but not mentioned in the recipe.  

The infant on my hip turned 12 yesterday.  He’s taller than I am now--and his shoe size rivals the cake-maker.  We can hardly believe it.  And, the chocolate cake?  Yes, it was perfect. 

There’s a few slices left...bring your own fork. Oh, and you must sing, "Dad is great--he makes chocolate cake."

Monday, June 23, 2014

Tabulations--Take One

Wife. Mother. Home Educator. Friend. Lover of crooners, gardenias, and dark chocolate.  Quasi-jogger (thanks to St. Jude) and Zumba enthusiast (thanks to Lindsey and Kim). Amazed-by-grace Christ follower.  And, yes, a bibliophile.  A self-admitted “just let me finish this one last chapter” book junkie. 

‘“Tell me what you read and I'll tell you who you are" is true enough, but I'd know you better if you told me what you reread,’ says Fran├žois Mauriac, French author and Nobel Laureate. And, I couldn’t agree more. 

What do I re-read?  Jane Austen, Elisabeth Elliott, and Harper Lee.  I read through Jan Karon’s The Mitford Series on an annual basis--but not always in order.  The Language of Flowers (Vanessa Diffenbaugh) and Chocol├ít (Joanne Harris) are favorite fictional re-runs of mine.  Non-fiction titles by Lauren Winner (think Girl Meets God or Mudhouse Sabbath) re-capture my interest.  Most recently, Rod Dreher’s gem of a book, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming has found its way back to my nightstand--and my heart--for another read.  In fact, I don’t think it ever left.

So, let the analysis begin.  I enjoy a compelling story, with strong female characters, witty and seemingly impenetrable male counterparts--with a happy ending, of course.   Authors who make themselves transparent to their readers; thus, teaching the lessons they learned earn my devotion.  Characters who become real as they capture your heart, challenge your thinking, or simply make you giggle draw me in and keep me there.  I am an idealist, am moved by simple acts of human kindness, and laugh heartily at Uncle Billy’s jokes.  Mrs. Elliot challenges her readers to look beyond the surface, get up and do something--with quite a bit of life experience and street cred to do so.  Ms. Winner reminds me of the beauty of liturgy.  And, Ruthie’s “little way” makes a big difference.  It is those “simple gifts” that bring me back to these books, time and again.

That’s just a little about me.  Thanks for stopping by--you honor me with your visit.  The door is always open.  Consider yourself invited!