family recipe

I have a friend who lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado.  We met back while living in Oklahoma.  Every single birthday they celebrate or anniversary or special occasion they celebrate by making and enjoying Spaghetti sauce.  Not store-bought, they make their family’s recipe.   I have mentioned it in birthday cards I have written, “enjoy your spaghetti”.  I have sent her e-mails asking “how was your spaghetti?”  At the heart of it, that is what “it” is all about.  Tradition, comfort, predictability, the known……..heck restaurants of all kinds that are franchised, aim very hard and spend oodles and oodles of money to re-create the same dish over and over and over to taste exactly the same, no matter where you are or when you order it.

At our house, we have the same “Special Day” plate that gets used for every single birthday, raise, special occasion…….  every single year on the Thursday prior to Good Friday, I bake Hot Cross Buns to share with others for Friday breakfast.  Every single year, we make our crazy version of Wilson Christmas cookies .  Every single year for both Canadian and American Thanksgiving I bake the same pumpkin pie I have been baking for 30 years.  Every year, every couple of months, I make the same Refrigerator Rolls for every single funeral, or a church gathering or for supper at our home and always, always for holiday dinners.  Tradition.

Family friends in California wake up to several little bowls of candy for breakfast on the morning of their birthdays.  Every single year, they wake up and begin to celebrate with their favorite treats.   Que the loud broadway music. “Tradition!”

A friend who lives in Chelan, Washington enjoyed some birthday cake yesterday.  It was her birthday.  Mr. Right and I enjoyed the same birthday cake (at our home on the other side of the mountain)  in her honor.  She shared her family’s recipe for Cinnamon Dainty Cake.  Their family enjoys the wonderful combinations of flavors every birthday that they celebrate, young and old alike.   Her grandma is the giver of this recipe.    I like the idea of having a family recipe to share and use over and over and over for an occasion.  I like the idea of waiting for “your turn”.  You get to enjoy the cake when it is someone else’s birthday, but you know without a doubt, that “your turn” will come.  Why, because it is tradition.

Maybe her grandmother would be pleased to see “her” recipe on this blog?  Maybe the recipe will be tried by another family and used over and over for their family celebrations?

“Every heart that has beat strong and cheerfully has left a hopeful impulse behind it in the world, and bettered the tradition of mankind.”


Cinnamon Dainty cake

Angel food cake mix and add 1 Tablespoon cinnamon.  Cook as directed on package.

Frosting:  1 pint of whipping cream, 1 cup sugar, 3 Tablespoons Cocoa, Place in bowl do NOT whip.  Set in the refrigerator over night, then when you are ready to frost the cake, whip the bowl of frosting.

Cut the cake horizontally.  Layer the whipped frosting on the inside, replace the top layer, then frost the entire cake.

Brown 2 1/2 cups of coconut, sprinkle over the cake.

If there is any left over cake, keep refrigerated.

Say Grace and DIG in!  yum!

sugar and spice

Since last I wrote, I have become a new woman!  Yep, now I am a Grandma to TWO Grandgirlies.  I joked a little by saying “it was my prize” for raising two boys.  I pretty much stand by that.  The girls are just sweet and adorable and lovely and charming.  To say we are grateful is a bit of an understatement.  Our newest little charmer was born on March 25th.  We have been in motion since.

Girls “need” new clothes and new books and new bumble bee wings and of course “the traditional” I am a big sister now and these are my butterfly wings!  Pure joy and goodness and happiness.

Quiet is one of those things that happens in your life when you live in an empty nest.  You don’t actually realize the moment that it happens.  The phone ringing slows down, the slamming of the screen door, the yelling “mom, where are you?”, the sighing and sneezing, the constant bounce of a basketball hitting the cement out doors, the sound of rolling skateboard wheels on the black top, and the background of the hum of music…………oh the music…………non stop while younger people live with you.  When it is just you , Mr. Right & the dog and your work and books and creating ….just a bit more quiet.  Sure I could go “shoot some hoops”, however, I would be making the bouncing sound.  I would not be in the kitchen cooking or baking with the constant, bounce, bounce, bounce in the background.

The exact moment I realized it was back…………………….. Mr. Right (papa) and I were helping gather lots of items to pack to leave the hospital room and help them get to the car to go home…………………….Sweet Adelaide started to fuss, then cry, then yell, she needed attention and she was going to be heard.  Then all of a sudden Miss Zoe needed a bit of attention and soothing as well.  She was crying.  So Mom helped the new little babe, Dad helped the big girl.    I caught the attention of Mr. Right.  There was a twinkle in both of our eyes.

It dawned on me at that exact moment in time……………………such sweet, sweet girls, all full of joy and laughter and smiles, wearing lots of pink and lavender, all sugary sweet.  Then the sound of a bit of spice.  It started quite innocently, then it began to build. …… and shall we say BLOOM.

All of a sudden in a twinkle of an eye, once again, our lives just got a bit more loud and full and oh this time around, so wonderfully hot and jazzy and …………………………..spicy!

exercise and Vitamin D

Before I begin today’s ramblings, let me just say I was VERY careful and went slowly while moving Marcy.

Yep,  you all remember Marcy don’t you?  She is my exercise bike.  So far this month, we have gone 58 miles.  woohoo.  Albeit, all of those miles indoors.  Today, the sun burst through those Washington clouds.  I (again, carefully) moved Marcy out on the deck.  There we were right in the middle of the sun dappled wooden deck.  Those glorious rays were warming my bones as I rode along.  Next week we increase the pressure a bit, still aiming for 4 miles a day just giving it a bit more oomph.  I can’t tell you how great it felt to hear the birds singing and smell the outdoors.  I noticed the teeny beginnings of buds on our blueberry bushes.  Sweet Liberty was laying in the green grass just surveying her territory.  She was looking mighty proud and “Lion King” like.

I am going to buy some more spring-flowering plants to put in around the deck.  Something to watch bloom and grow, pretty much like me. 

Before you know it, I won’t have time to sit indoors and type on my blog.  I will be out riding my real, gorgeous, red bike with the basket full of jaunty yellow flowers.  I will be the girl smiling and peddling and balancing and sitting with great posture.  I will be the annoying girl ring her bell all the time, just because she is happy to be back out there bike riding again.

A new friend & a new recipe

Back in the “olden” days when I was a practicing military wife I would meet new people almost every single week of my life.  Somewhere along the way, I became shall we say, “seasoned”.  People started asking me for recipes or tips on being a mom or a wife.  I don’t really know when that happened?  Last Sunday, I had the good fortune of meeting a new person.  Through another friend, blah, blah, blah……it just sort of happened organically.  It took place in the warmth and comfort of a bakery.  The heavenly smells and the kind people who were working were all part of the back drop.  I instantly was drawn to the sparkle in her eyes.  Once you get past that, the book slowly opens and a kind heart and thoughtful words and curiosity come tumbling out.  You want to connect with this person right away.  She has the kind of spirit you just want to be around.  She is a young mom to be and when you find out that tid bit, you get a little shiver on the back of your neck.  You instantly have a feeling that she is going to be a wonderful mom.  You know, a mom that takes pure joy and delight in the daily life of their babe. For some unexplained reason, you want to jump on her train.  You want to be part of the goodness that is happening all around her.  You want to be among the people who lift her up and encourage her…..for someday in the future, once she is a practicing mom, you can secretly take partial credit.   yeah, yeah, I know totally selfish.  I am still doing it.

This recipe is for you.  While in Vancouver a couple of weeks ago, we ordered this salad and I tried (with some measure of success) to recreate it and oh boy (hey, I wonder if she will have a boy or a girl?) is it ever delicious.

Citrus Quinoa Salad (pronounced keenwah) I am guessing you know how to pronounce citrus and salad 🙂

Let’s get the information mumbo jumbo out there first (hey we are teaching here people!)  Quinoa was cultivated over 5,000 years ago and is refered to as a super grain…..however, it is actually a seed of a plant related to beets, chard and spinach.  High in protein and magnesium (helps relax the blood vessels – could help for migraines/headaches).  Quinoa was once considered “the gold of the Incas.”

Oh one more thing……soak and wash your quinoa first.  please.

I cooked my quinoa in some vegetable stock to add some flavor.  I used 1 cup of pre-soaked quinoa to 1 1/4 cup stock.  cook, drain and cool.

Then add to that:

1/2 can rinsed black beans , 1/2 can rinsed garbanzo beans, 1/4 cup shallot – chopped fine,  1/2 cup fresh spinach – chopped into thin strips,  1/4 cup red, yellow & orange pepper – thinly sliced,  the rind of one lemon, grated fine, juice of 1/2 a lemon, sea salt, pepper and about 2 Tablespoons olive oil.  Mix together.  Keep covered in the refrigerator.  Use a clear lid or a couple of layers of plastic wrap.  Put it on the top shelf so you can see it’s goodness and you will want to have some when you don’t know what you want to eat.  Day two is better than day one and I can’t even describe the goodness on day three.  So you can actually see and taste this bit of delight,   I am dropping some by tonight before you head back to Portland.

“A true friend is the greatest of all blessings, and the one which we take the least thought to acquire.”

Say Grace and dig in!

Choose happy.

When our boys were little, sometimes they would become restless.  I know, crazy talk?  Nope it is true, they would have a bit of pent-up energy and it had to go somewhere.  Once in a while, out of the blue, I would had them each a sleeve of Ritz crackers.  Go to it!  Oh sure they ripped open the packages and ate a couple then ran like little boys do, with lots of breath and huffing and puffing, pushing and shoving, for actually only a few yards, out to the patio and then they would line ’em up.  Or spread them out in a pattern or just toss with no rhyme or reason.  They would flop down and yank off their shoes and socks.  Then they would stomp and stomp and STOMP around in bare feet on the concrete smashing the Ritz Crackers.  Sometimes, mom and dad would join in.  For no particular reason, other than it felt delicious.  Simply for fun and happiness.  Afterward, your feet felt amazing and the birds love, love, loved that we left them a snack.   I guess you could say, it was my invention of a stress release for little energetic boys.

Today we woke up to 2 inches of snow.  Yes, indeed the same week that I planted a box full of spring plants.  Mother nature had much different plans than me.  I was bee-bopping around here this morning, fed the dog breakfast, ate my own breakfast and drank some green juice.  Then poured a cup of joe, java, mud…how ever you refer to it….so good this morning.  I road my bike four miles while watching Sweet Liberty frolic and roll and jump and prance in the snow.  She loves it and doesn’t care who knows.  She is just thrilled to play in the snow.   I jumped off the bike (well, no, not really, I gracefully like an angel slid off the bike seat with my flowing hair and lovely rosy cheeks … that as, no make up on and my hair curly was wild and looking more like Rosanna Rosanna Dana than flowing)  I grabbed the camera and snapped a couple of happy pictures of our dog.  She was a perfect example of pure joy and grabbing the moment by the tail and squeezing out every single ounce of goodness she could.

Her outdoor water bowl was empty.  I went back in put the camera down and in my bare feet went to retrieve the bowl to filler ‘er up.  My feet felt shocked and cold and, and HAPPY!  They tingled and felt alive.  I stomped around on the deck and Libby watched me then soon joined me.  I wonder if her paws feel this happy every time she is prancing around on the deck in the snow?  As I type now, I can still feel the little buzz of freshness and shock on my tootsies.  Feels like happy, dancing feet and I want the feeling to last all day long.

I am choosing to carry that feeling throughout the day.  “It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”  a. dumbledore

I have a friend who is a teacher…

Took my own advice, spent another day with another friend.  I am grateful.  period.  We have been friends for about 35 years.  If I wasn’t grateful for such a wonderful person in my life, oh my, what a sad person I would be.  I choose to be grateful.

Someone told me to be careful about writing blogs about my friends, they won’t want to meet for fear they will be “featured” in the next blog installment.  I can’t help it.  My mind gets flooded with good thoughts and I have to let it all out or I will burst.   Well, no I won’t literally burst, I will just eat way too much coconut and might eat an entire bowl of popcorn and race around the house doing chore after chore in an attempt to let off some steam.

With Mr. Right being gone, I am sort of floating from thing to thing.  I have trouble focusing and landing on one project to dive into.  In the “lucky” column of my life, I have great friends who help me by spending extra time with me when I am a bit of a basket case when the Mr. is out-of-town.  So, she humored me and went along for a craft shop field trip.  Oh, it was fun and my brain is still twirling with ideas and thoughts and to be honest, I want to go back today to buy a couple more tins for cookies and some ribbon and other things I saw and didn’t know what I would do with them.  That is until today’s shower…………tons of ideas came pouring out.

We actually spent about 4 hours in the car.  You know that is the best conversation time of all for anyone.  No interruptions, no phones, no kids, no pressures, no worries, no chores, no committee meetings, nothing to do but talk and listen.  I never actually know when something is going to gently nudge me to write.  Sometimes, even in the moment I don’t recognize it until later or the next day and I can’t let go of my thoughts.  It replays in my head over and over like a stuck record.

Through our conversation, for some reason it twisted and turned and I found out she had at one time, back in the day, wanted to go to school to be a teacher.  You know the drill, because of this reason or that, this time or that,  she was not able to go to school and get the almighty “piece of sheepskin” that proclaimed to the world, “I am a teacher”.

After we split up for the day, I went about planting my spring flowers and veggies that I purchased.  I brushed the dog and gave her dinner.  Then I made my dinner and on and on. I couldn’t shake the question” What is a teacher?”.

I came up with all sorts of answers.  I decided to list some to describe my friend.  She has taught me how to be a friend.  She has taught me how not to judge others.  I have seen her teach young Rainbow girls to become graceful and find self-confidence.  I have seen her guide young Daffodil Princesses into kind and considerate young ladies.  I personally know her two children.  They are remarkable people.  She taught them and raised them to be people of honor and goodness.  They are people you would enjoy having lunch with.  She has volunteered with the church, to the point of needing a cot in the back room for all she accomplishes there.  She has taught many less fortunate young people that they are worthy of self-confidence and by helping them find good quality and good fitting clothing they can focus on other important parts of life.  She has nieces and nephews who have had the privilege of her counsel.  She has knitting friends and sewing friends and on and on the list goes.  She has taught me things about sewing and has calmly and patiently re-taught me and explained it gently over and over again until I totally understand what I need to know to move forward.  She has set such a fine example of what a good wife is………..I have a living lesson right in front of me on a daily basis.

She has taught me the importance of showing up.  I ran into her at a funeral once.  We quietly sat together.  She taught me that you don’t have to talk a mile a minute, you just have to “be” and offer strength to another.  She has been there for me over and over when I have had some medical bumps in the road.  She has encouraged me with funny stuff and serious stuff.  She even drove me to a physical therapy appointment and didn’t make me feel silly for not being able to do what I normally can do.  She has taught me Grace.  She has taught me kindness.  She has taught me compassion.  Every single day, every single time I am near her or the recipient of her thoughtful behavior she is a teacher.  During our car trip yesterday she gently reminded me to take a quick peak at an Eagle’s nest we all watch, yes, the Eagle was there sitting proudly.   Somewhere along the way, I forgot to ask to see her credentials, her “piece of paper” stating that she was teacher.

I am living proof that Yes, Virginia my friend is indeed a teacher and a GREAT one at that. I am indeed lucky to have a teacher in my life that I just happen to call friend.

“Blessed are they who have the gift of making friends.  For it is one of God’s best gifts.  It involves many things, but above all, the power of going out of one’s self, and appreciating whatever is noble and loving in another.”

note to self: spend more time with friends

Recently I read an article (she has also written a book)  MWF seeks BFF.  That means to the rest of us……..Married White Female looking for a Best Friend Forever.  Because of her husband’s job, they had to relocate to another state.  Thus, she left behind several close friends and buddies.  Once settled in the new home and community, she realizes that she doesn’t have a best friend.  So the story goes……..she interviews friends for a year……….  blah, blah, blah……meets lots of great people, some turn into friends.  Yay.

Of course it made the wheels in my brain turn and twist.  Sure in this fast paced “busy” life we have all created, somehow that extra special BFF sometimes gets set aside, oh sure still there, just a bit, shall we say neglected by life.  Read that as kids and husbands and volunteering, and working inside and outside the home, and the dog and grocery shopping and cooking and baking……..okay, you get the idea.  Somehow, we have come to believe that hanging out with a girlfriend for three or four hours is “wasted time” we could be doing something productive for heaven’s sake.   Sure I have friends.  Just not a lot of them live near me.  We talk on the phone or e-mail.  Heck, I am even learning to send an occasional text message for Pete’s Sake!

Why is it that men (I am talking about Mr. Right) can go to a golf course and SPEND 5-6 hours with three other people he has NEVER met before and have a great afternoon of golf and conversation and walk away feeling like “that was a great afternoon with friends”?  I would be all worried about my outfit and what I said and did I make a good impression and was I polite enough and do I send a thank you note, on and on………..  Nope, they spend 6 hours laughing , talking, golfing, talking business, they might even enjoy a beverage after the last hole.  Did I mention they enjoy this sport in some pretty gorgeous places?

Is it the place that makes it easy for them to “make friends”?  Is it the common interest?  Is it that they turn off their phones and they play and laugh and make an effort to enjoy each other’s company?    The answer my friend is YES, YES they do.

Today in Doral, Florida with 84* and bright sunshine, Mr. Right went golfing with three new friends.  Today, in Orting, Washington  with about 39* and snowing, at a little hometown bakery, I sat inside and drank coffee and ate baked goods and talked about husbands and kids and grandkids and quilting and life with one friend.  Phones turned off.  Nope, it is not about the weather nor the location, friends can be friends anywhere and apparently, in any weather.

I happen to have a friend with whom we have been together 40 plus years!  Today, in a very, very small town while chatting and laughing………………..the answer hit me like a ton of bricks. I happen to have several BFF’s.  One in particular lives 20 minutes from me. I don’t need to place an ad for a friend.  She’s already in my life, she is part of who I am already.

I am very lucky to have a BFF for over 40 years.  I need to give myself a little Grace a bit more often and plan to be together.  For no other reason than to feed my soul and my being.  I need to be around her.  She brings out the best in me.  She makes me bring my “A game”.  She makes my brain move and twist and think.   Somehow the universe, or God, or angels or Kismet, or Karma saw fit to bring us together when we were about 6 years old.  I think we owe it to the universe to honor that meeting.  We were given a gift.  It is up to us to nurture it and place value on it.  Maybe today was a gift to gently remind us to be grateful for what we have.  God willing and the creek don’t rise, maybe we have another 40 plus years left of being BFF?

Friendship is where two hearts can meet and be at home.   (and not judge the other while eating baked goods)

Spring has sprung…….oops, never mind

While taking a shower this morning (in our newly finished made over bathroom), I was thinking of the gorgeous bouquet of daffodils that Mr. Right brought me.  I saw some breathtaking yellow blooms while in Vancouver.  I stumbled upon some jaunty paper whites.   Spring was bloomin’ in my mind and all around me.

I came out to give the dog breakfast and have some green juice.  I opened the curtains and MY OH MY, 3 inches of the white stuff and it is still coming down.  Old man winter is not giving up without a fight.   It sure is pretty out there.

Nice and cozy and warm in here.  Warm coffee and a dog enjoying her morning nap.  All is good.

Since today is Tuesday, I will of course share a recipe.  While in Vancouver over the weekend we came across a wonderful gem of a place called Urban Fare.  It was within walking distance from our hotel.  The top floor was a cafe extraordinaire.  All sorts of foods and salads and goodies to choose from.  We meandered through and made (what ended up being excellent choices).  You pay then just past the coffee/tea area you walk down about 6 stairs to the dining area.  The view is remarkable of the harbour (notice the Canadian spelling of the word harbour?).  After our meal we then went down another floor to the gourmet & specialty grocery store/deli/bakery.  Once we explored and discovered and made our purchases we headed back up to the coffee shop for a treat.  If you are ever in Vancouver, you will be most please with your choice of stopping in at the Urban Fare.  Well thought out and delightful combination of foods and shopping.

One of the salads we tried and fell head over heels in love with was the Edemame Red Pepper Salad.  My mouth just started watering a tiny bit when I typed that.  You know, I know one young brand new mother trying to shed a few pounds and a young man learning to eat gluten free……………..this burst of flavor and goodness will be right up their alley.

Let see:

Buy a couple of bags of frozen shelled edemame.  Cook per package directions.  Super quick and darn tootin easy.  Rinse and drain.  Let cool off a bit. 

One tiny cubed red pepper

Sesame Oil, salt and pepper

optional chopped chives and some chopped fresh cilantro (if you have it, if not, it is just as good)

Mix together the soy beans, red pepper, about 2 Tablespoons sesame oil, salt and fresh cracked pepper.  Chill.

Now, that my friends is a flavorful, super-duper, easy, peasy salad full of fiber and goodness.  The smooth of the edemame and the crunch of the little bites of red pepper are such a great combination.  Keep any left overs in the refrigerator.  Such a handy, dandy salad/side dish to have greeting you has you open up that refrigerator door “looking” for something to munch on.  yum.

Say grace and dig in!

thirty reasons to celebrate







We leave tomorrow for a weekend out-of-town.  Vancouver, BC. here we come.  It’s time to start the celebration.  Thirty years of being married.  Now, that is a pretty good reason to celebrate.   This time our car air vents won’t be filled with uncooked rice.  This time our car won’t have writing on the window that states, “Just Married”.  This time I won’t have two cans of hairspray holding my hair in place.

Love does not consist in gazing at each other; but in looking outward together in the same direction.

Hey you big stud, you want to go another 30?

Count me in!

A man of honor in politics?

Some people bring out the best in others….some like my brother-in-law, makes me want to write down all sorts of quotes.  They are poignant and meaningful and thought-provoking.  Some of the quotes I will share are ones that I used for penmanship practice during the home schooling years.  They describe and remind me of him.  We wanted to raise our boys to emulate and mold their character to follow in their father and Uncle’s footsteps.

Yesterday, my brother-in-law was re-elected to the Town Council of Newport, Vermont.  All of our home towns should be so lucky.  He is a man of honor, integrity, strength, intelligence and the good grace to be kind and humble.    You most likely will not see quotes taped up around his office.  He is the kind of man who quotes are written about.   “Try not to become a man of success but rather try to become a man of value.” (Albert Einstein)

The picture above is indeed a picture of Newport, Vermont where he serves his community.  It is the kind of place that post card pictures are taken.  Before you ask, yes, the people are “wicked” nice and friendly.  The pace is a bit slower than most of us are used to.  This is the kind of town where we all would be proud to live and raise our families.

In the arena of politics you are not likely to hear a bad word about Mr. Right’s brother.  “Character is much easier kept then recovered.” (Thomas Paine)

You won’t hear about scandals, infidelity, stealing, corruption or a variety of other sad and uncalled for topics that sometimes creep into politics of today………… just won’t.  You can be sure of that.

He takes his job to heart.  He stands up for the people of his town.  He gathers the facts and then makes an informed decision and stands by it.  He is the same person he was when he wasn’t on the town council.  “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but, if you want to test a man’s character give him power.”  (Abraham Lincoln)

No matter the towns’ issues or problems, no matter how big or small, he treats them all the same, straightforward and with the determination to resolve and move forward. “Every job is a self-portrait of the person who does it.  Autograph your work with excellence.”

John A. Wilson is a good man.  Our son number two, has his middle name.   It is an honor and privilege as well as my good fortune to say he is my brother-in-law.  I don’t usually use names in my blog, however, once in a while it seems right.

Something tells me that the towns people of Newport, Vermont are in good hands for at least another couple of years.  Congratulations to the town for choosing wisely.  Congratulations and a hearty thank you to John for his community service.

“If you have integrity, nothing else matters.  If you don’t have integrity, nothing else matters.”