Tuesday, September 30, 2008

24 hours till showtime

Twenty four hours until another fabulous episode of my favorite TV show...PR...Project Runway. Did you see the preview last week?  All four, all, are on the runway crying.  I hope it proves to be as traumatic as portrayed.  I cannot imagine what they experienced and what is in store for us.  I hope something delicious.  Watch on Bravo TV and enjoy.  It will be a way good day!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Post Ike

As the garbage men slowly snaked through the neighborhoods, ingesting pile upon pile of refuse, I made sure we were home to thank each crew.  The recycling guys; the lawn pick-up crew--so many branches and limbs to contend with; and, our heroes, the regular garbage crew hauling away bag upon bag of refrigerator and freezer remanants.  For each group we went to the curb, thanked them profusely and offered an ice cold bottle of refreshing water.  
I have always tried to say "thank you."  My dear husband taught me to take this a step further years ago.  One day, upon our doorstep stood two people proselytizing for their church; no, not our church.  I told the sharers we were very happy with our church, would they like to know more about it and then thanked them for their service to the Lord.  My husband then came in from the back yard and offered them a cool drink.  After we closed the door I inquired of his generosity. He simply but powerfully replied, "They are God's children, too.  We need to treat all people with respect."
As we have and express gratitude; as the garbage men haul away our refuse; the world is a cleaner and better place so each day may be a way good one.
*photo by heartless jim

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Top Chef and Us

What a delightful Saturday E and I had in July.  Top Chef was in our town for a stop on their summer tour.  We had checked bravotv.com for weeks, trying to get tickets. One night, quite late, I checked for the thousandth, under estimate, I am sure, time and behold, one could sign up.  The three sessions were going like bottles of water on a blistering day: wham! that session was filled. Bam!  I could only get one ticket.  I called my ever patient husband out of bed.  "Honey, hurry!  Hurry!  Top Chef tickets are available.  Please log in and try to get a few tickets.  And.  Please. Hurry."  I took a photo of the screen to remember what session we had signed up for.  I love foresight.  It is something I strive and pray for in my life.  Really.  Were we ever glad I had taken those photos because a few days later we received an email that we had two tickets to a "Top Chef" show but it did not include which show time.  We, well really me, and my very good natured hubby, felt like we had Willy Wonka golden tickets to the cooking show.  J, our younger daughter, was home for the
summer interning at her Dad's, the company at which my husband works, for the summer and was t-o-t-a-l-l-y stoked to go experience this first hand.  We love "Top Chef!"  Due to some changes, our oldest daughter, E, was here at this time, from NY.  Very, very generously and kindly J offered E her ticket.  I offered for the girls to go together.  E refused the ticket offers, saying we had been looking forward to it. In the end, E and I were the ones to travel downtown to the Short North where the "Top Chef" trailer was and discover who the visiting chefs from the show were for our stop of the tour.  Oh. My. Goodness.  Hung, winner of Season 3 and Richard Blais, from Season 4.  We would say they are not spoiled stars here. Richard would walk out of the trailer, reach into the belly of the rig and pull out pots/pans, whatever he needed to cook whatever he was cooking for this session.
Both he and Hung would open the trailer door to wave and the crowds would cheer them.
It was a fun, upbeat, foodie crowd.  All the while the fantastic Farmer's Market was happening around the trailer.  They had these fun bikes outside the trailer with blenders attached; way to work for a smoothie, E!  When the time came to be seated, E and I ended up in the front row, in the center.  Hung actually took this photo of Richard and us in the front row.  (look closely and there we are in the front row.)  We had soooo much fun!  Hung is really energetic and knowledgeable as is Richard but Richard is a blast--so funny!
  We just loved the way he spoke, explained things, his sense of humor and let Hung be the center of attention as he likes
to be.  They each made two dishes, all the while fielding questions from the audience.  "Is Padma as pretty in real life?"  Richard's response, "Prettier."  Of course there were many food questions also.  They each made very light dishes, as it was hot in July, but so infused with flavor.  Impressive. Richard talked about some ingredients that the girls and I had been reading about in one of Padma's cookbook's.  Richard also answered questions about his resturant in Atlanta, how much he loves being a new daddy and his infamous bacon ice cream.  Both Hung and Richard tasted their food along the way of preparation and emphasized how important that is.  That is really what I took away from the show and have incorporated into our kitchen, when I cook that is.  
They both helped each other "plate" the food--it was so fresh and had such intense flavors.  Thank you Richard and Hung for a fun Saturday morning in July.  It was a way good day!

Day Two of No Power

Headline for Tuesday, September 16th.  "Got Power?"  No, we do not have power.  Do you?
I must say it has been restful to go to bed and rise with the sun.  Maybe because it totals nine hours of sleep!  Do that a few nights in a row and it is amazing how ones perspective can change--about everything.  That aspect of this experience has been nice.  
If you read the sub headline on the left it informs us, "If not, you could be waiting six more days." 
Ok.  We better get going on another day in pioneer style.  Let's start our day by getting the generator roaring at 6:00 am.  We need to keep the frig and freezer juiced.  I did wake up delighted as I realized I am now able to have my beloved oatmeal.  (You can check that out here.)  With a generator, all one has to do is climb upon a chair, find the microwave cord in the cabinet, unplug it from the wall, and plug it into the heavy duty extension
cord running out the back door to the generator; put oatmeal in the bowl, season (does one season oatmeal?) with a generous amount of cinnamon and a dash of salt to bring out the flavors (thank you Food Network for teaching us all these things), set the the microwave for 1 minute and 24 seconds (because 24 is one of my favorite numbers), add 1/2 cup of the unthawed raspberries and baby, we are eating breakfast for the goddesses!  I invited folks for a 6:00 am oatmeal gathering but I had no takers.  I think everyone was either surviving and cutting fallen trees and limbs or sleeping in as we had no school...again. 
My husband was off to work...again.  Phoebe and I knew our top job of the day was to be the generator's babysitter.  I was told
repeatedly that it was a "hot" commodity.  It was suggested multiple times to purchase a heavy duty chain and lock.  Everyone in our neighborhood was happy to share their power.  Why would one take something that isn't theirs?  Our Phoeb-meister was keeping a watchful eye on the machine that was keeping her daily teaspoon of milk ice cold.   As I have mentioned these generators were making a lot of noise.  She decided she would catch her Vitamin K from the suns rays that were streaming into the protection of our home, no venturing to the patio for a sunbath today for her.
I made a huge stack of recipe books to read; what a delicious way to spend the day.
Once in a while our phone would ring.  I have always kept one of my Dad's older phones, from the last century, as a land line, meaning it is not powered by electricity in any way so it will work in a power outage. My hubby had brought
it upstairs Sunday evening to our phone center.  That old fashioned ring was quite startling and mystique shrouded each call as one didn't know who was calling as there was no caller id.
I was all tucked in with our sugar plum, for a nice, long, relaxing day of reading when we heard a squeek, a squak, a flicker....they, someone with the power company, was out there somewhere working on OUR transformer.  I have learned that it matters not one whit that we have underground wires, it is the transformer that matters.  (I have so much to learn about so many things.)  That meant soon we would be up and running.  How exciting but I hadn't relaxed in all this experience yet.  What about reading new cooking techniques and re-acquainting myself with fall recipes?  Wait, not so fast.  Could you please go to someone else's neighborhood, bring them the joy of restoring their power and return here in a few hours?  POWER!  Houston, we are up and running and ready to join the bigger world again.  I joined a few neighbors out front to clap and cheer.  Immediately, everything changed. Time to do laundry, do real housework.  Oh farts.  That kinda stinks.  I wasn't quite ready to return to all of this.  However, I was grateful to the men and women working such long hours trying to get power restored.  I called our electric company and waited patiently on hold for quite a while.  I informed the woman who answered that our power had, yes, been restored and I was calling to thank all of them for their efforts.  It is so important to have gratitude and say "Thank you!"  This has always been one of my top mothering goals, for our children to have, feel and recognize gratitude.  
We all have been extremely blessed throughout the post windy storm from "Ike."  We never received any rain, so there was no flooding; the temperatures went from the 90's to the 70's, so hopefully no one suffered in the heat.  I often thought of those in hospitals, they must have massive generators; and, the medically fragile.  We are all so blessed in so many ways.  I truly hope experiencing this enlarges our hearts to those who have or are currently experiencing disasters of any kind.  To have greater understanding that it takes a l-o-n-g time to recover from huge disasters.  Hopefully we will be generous continually to our neighbors and to the larger world, perhaps through the Red Cross.  May our eyes be opened and our hearts more in tune to others needs, seen and unseen.  
I will miss the amazing dinners we had grilling and appreciating the one lamp illuminating our dinner table and seeing the candles glow in our neighbors homes.  These have indeed been way good days.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Hurricane Ike in Ohio?!

Our girls, E and J, are both living in New Orleans.  They drove through the rains of "Fay" on their way back down South for the fall.  Then "Gustav" pushed the inhabitants out of the Crescent City for a week. Our girls went to Mississippi where they were safe in the sturdy, beautiful abode of their paternal grandparents.  (They are serving a mission in the jungles of Ecuador.  They have resident monkeys!  We are so happy for their service.)  Our girls f-i-n-a-l-l-y returned to New Orleans one week after Gustav, when their landlady confirmed their apartment was juiced with power.  They unloaded everything from J's SUV into the inside of their darling apartment in case they had to evacuate for the possible, horrible "Ike."  Luckily for them, "Ike" only hit New Orleans with a tropical storm.  Stay put they did and settled in.  We do feel horrible for Texas though where the hurricane did hit.  Bless you all in your recovery.  
Fast forward one week later to Ohio, Sunday, September 14.  My husband and I were starting to teach a new Sunday School class, "Family Relations."  It was also the day of our ward "Linger Longer."  I am the chairperson of the Activities Committee so I was quite focused on church this day.  I DID check the weather forecast before leaving home for church as our committee was hoping to have the social outside on the big expanse of lawn so the children could run and play "Duck, Duck, Goose" and have plenty of room for all to visit and uplift one another. During the third hour of church, we, the activities committee, poked our heads out the kitchen door to check the weather. Mind you, the forecast did predict rain at 4:00, when the social was to begin. No, no rain, so we walked out.  Blue skies.  Hmmm.  Maybe the activity could take place outside; however, it was getting windy.  The thought of napkins flying all over and the ladies skirts giving a generous peek as to what is underneath gave us reason to quickly decide to get back into the cultural hall and set everything up there.  After cookies had generously been baked and shared, punch consumed, leaving stained mouths on many a little (and big) one, and friendships renewed or made, folks started their way home.  We were all in for a surprise!  As we drove home, trees were down all over, even blocking roads.  We arrived home to our flower pots blown at the end of the driveway and .....no power.  What had happened?  None of us had heard tornado sirens.  Not a drop of rain splashed down from the skies.  We got out our candles and flashlights, as it was getting dark. All the neighbors were without power, also.  The wind continued blowing.  Was this the Big Bad Wolf from "Little Red Riding Hood" who was going to, "Huff and puff and blow our house down?"  We tucked ourselves and our Phoebe cat into bed early for the night and continued to listen to the wind howl.  It was unique and pretty to see candles burning in our neighbors windows as we lay in bed.  Monday morning we arose with the sun to venture out the door to see what the world held.  Trees and branches were everywhere.  And...still no power.  Did we have school?  Bless my Iphone.  This is the very reason we purchased them the moment they came out last summer.  (We were number 6, 7 and 8 in line at the Apple store.)  Internet connection! I checked the schools web page.  "School cancelled."  Whew.  Now to focus on clean-up and getting power restored.  Ha!  Aren't we used to quick turn arounds in America?  This would be an experience for neighbor to reach out to neighbor; do we really do that anymore?  My husband called his company, he works about a thirty minute drive away, and they did have power.  Gasp.  He was leaving me to go to work.  Well, that is what he does, and I am grateful for that, he works hard for us, maybe just not thrilled this day to have him go in.  We called our health club, wishing upon a star, that they had power and were open.  Ah, we could shower there and use the provided towels.  Why hadn't I really acknowledged this blessing before?  Because it was "there." How many blessings do we really not notice because we don't go without?  
My husband and I each had called the folks we home and visit teach, making sure of their safety and checking for any specific needs.  All of us were in the same situation: no power, but everyone was safe.  
Now we had been without power for twenty hours.  My big concern was our freezer and frig and the contents thereof.  Most people were worried about their meat.  I was distressed over all our beloved berries the girls and I had picked this summer.  Sixty six pounds of blueberries and half as many precious ruby red raspberries my dear husband and I had picked were frozen in the freezer.  We couldn't lose the berries!   What to do, what to focus upon?  My hubby had picked up all the limbs and sticks in the yard before he left for work so everything seemed secure at home.  And q-u-i-e-t.  No air conditioning running, no dishwasher, washing machine nor dryer; nothing.  Silence.  Silence is LOUD.  The only logical activity was to go berry picking!  I got in the car and pulled away.  I drove a few blocks when I had
a strong feeling to go back home.  Hmmm.  I had checked everything before I left. Again, I had a strong impression to return home.  Ok. Follow those promptings!  I arrived home to our baby girl, Phoebe the cat, perched on her chair looking out the front window.  She greeted me in her adoring, welcoming way with all her "meows" and "purrs."  I walked through our home.  I saw the smallest drip of water sliding down the outside of the freezer.  One can quickly deduct that the ice cubes are melting.  Did that mean water was dripping over all the frozen contents?  And there may eventually be enough water to damage the hardwood floors underneath the appliance?  I had to open the freezer to get the ice out of the ice dispenser; but, it would also be the point of "no return."  I opened the freezer and in addition to the ice melting there were small rivers (maybe streams, maybe trickles) of purple, red and orange liquid flowing from the top of the freezer down the sides.  Ah.  My husbands Popsicles.  I start removing the ice from
the dispenser, throwing it all in the sink when my brain finally kicks in...ICE.  I need to get the coolers as quickly as possible.  I enter the dark cavern of our garage, get the ladder and shine the light along the shelves.  I see the coolers on the v-e-r-y top shelf.  Great, I am so blessed and having so much fun.  So glad I have a hubby at work, drinking ice cold soft drinks.  Maybe not, but the thought does cross my mind.  I climb our tall ladder to the very top rung, of which you are not supposed to stand on, but what choice is there?  I scale the darn ladder and retrieve the coolers.  I empty out all the ice into the coolers.  I can now save a lot of freezer items.  Yea!  An even bigger "hooray" is when our neighbor across the street agrees to let me store our berries in her deep freeze as the
guy she is dating has delivered his generator to her home.  (Is this devotion in action or what?!)  I totally cleaned out our freezer as you can see in the photo.  It is a nice feeling! 
Now I really need a fresh raspberry fix so off I go to the beautiful farm bursting of red raspberries.   What was I thinking?  All the beautiful berries had been blown off the bushes and the bushes themselves were not in good shape.  Zing.  This was widespread.  I felt lonely and sad.  I walked up and down each row of raspberry bushes, thanking them for all the beautiful berries they had produced and letting them know we would savor each individual berry in the freezer.  I didn't find even a handful of raspberries on the entire farm.  
Upon entering my car a thought came to me very clearly. Go to Chick-fil-A.  What?  That is quite a distance, at least to the one that came to mind.  Very clearly the thought repeated itself.  I hopped on the highway and drove south for twenty minutes.  This part of the metropolitan area had power.  Yahoo.  If the spirit tells me to do something and it involves food, I am there.  (I have never been directed to go buy a chocolate cake or pint of ice cream.  Have you?)  I ordered Meal #1.  It includes their chicken breast sandwich with their infamous pickle (ummmm, the best part), waffle fries and a drink.  I am very hungry at this point as all I had for breakfast was one half of peanut butter on whole wheat bread, topped with delicious, recently made home-made raspberry jam and
for lunch, the other half of said open faced sandwich.  I gobbled up the french fries as I pulled away and started driving towards home.  It was interesting how this section of our greater city had power.  Of course I was pondering when we would get our power restored.  As I was driving along, again, I very distinctly had the impression to drive to 
a certain location and get a generator.  I scoffed.  At this point, twenty four hours, after the eighty mile an hour wind storm, I was certain there were no generators to be had. Again, I was told to go.  Ok.  I continued to drive to the location.  It is a store I had never patronized before and has recent new ownership.  I approached from the south side of our town.  On the north side of the building was a parking lot full of cars and this large stack of empty card board containers, with a few generators, as you can see in the photo.  I asked the folks milling around with whom to speak.  They all responded, "Inside."  I asked where the entrance was located.  "Around the building to the front."  Off I went on my adventure to the inside of the dark store.  The owner and his trusted employees were working by flashlight.  I queued up with, of course, all men, in a line seven deep.  How was I possibly going to secure one of the very few generators left?  Unbelievably, none of the fellas in front of me purchased a power producing machine.  I almost wept.  I was so grateful.  I am going to give a shout out to this store as they were amazing!  One, after writing my name, contact and credit card information, the owner asked to see my ID.  I had to tell him that my amazing Coach wallet...a man in a hardware type store does not care about labels, nor could he
 offer any sympathy for someone lifting it out of my purse, so I simply explained that my wallet had been stolen and on this very exact day, my new credit card had arrived in the mail.  What amazing fortune!  (You do know the post offices motto..come rain or shine...they will deliver--or something like that.)  He looked at me with his weary eyes, a lady in his store, at the end of a very long day, and said, "You expect me to give you a $xxxx.xx generator, when I can't run your card as we don't have power, without an ID?"  I replied, "Yes, sir.  I am an honest, good, law abiding citizen and I do hope you can look me in the eye and trust me, as I can be trusted and I do need that generator."   He asked an interesting question.  "Who do you know?"  I wanted to answer, "God."  I didn't know if he would think I was being sincere so I rolled off some impressive, heavy weight names in our community whom I have the good fortune to know, as good humans, not for the social weight they carry.  I passed.  Would Heavenly Father have passed as a heavy weight?  That is whom I want in my corner!  The owner escorted me through the dark store to the parking lot where the other consumers, boxes and generators were still milling around.  An employee said, "This one is yours."  I rather felt I should be passing out gum cigars I was as grateful as a new parent.  At this point, at most stores, I believe, I would have been trying to put the heavy generator into my car, driven home and tried to figure how it runs.  Here is my shout out to "Hilliard Lawn" across the street from the school administration office.   They opened the box, gave me the owners manual, filled the generator with oil, added three gallons of fuel to every generator and started it to make sure it was working.  Two employees then lifted it in the back of our vehicle.  Service!!!  I then remembered the Chick-fil-a bag.  The employee had mentioned, when I asked, how long he had been working.  He said he had been working for the volunteer fire department since 1 am and then had come straight to this job, all due to the storm.  I now knew why I had been directed to go to Chick-fil-A.  I offered him the bag with the delicious, somewhat cold, chicken sandwich.  I felt bad that I had eaten the fries but then didn't feel so bad as fries do not keep.  At this point I  thought I should call my husband to share with him the announcement of our newest family member.  Quite a few neighborhood men were strolling about, checking out each others generators, etc.  so they helped unload ours and get it to the back patio.  Did I mention how heavy a generator is?  Heavy.  We tried to start it.  It would not sputter.  No life.  What?!  I said we very quickly had to get this back out front, reloaded and returned before the store closed for the evening.  Dusk was upon us and I felt a little panicked.  We drove back and there was one box sitting there.  The owner was certain it was someone's generator.  All the employees in the parking lot said, "No, everyone is gone,"  "The owner said, "I must have miscounted."  They then swapped ours out.  We can truly thank our guardian angels for that!  We arrived home again to have our neighbors haul it to the back for us.  It's engine was like an over sized cats motor purring away.  Our generator joined the neighborhood swell of motors running.  This was loud!  We all agreed we would turn off the generators at midnight.  As the last engine was cut, it again was so silent, with no appliances or air conditioning running.  A golden night by the candles burning once again, late into the night, in our neighbors windows.  Peace and gratitude.  Our girls, in New Orleans, also safe.  It was indeed a way good day.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Happy Birthday, Dad


Are there birthdays in heaven?  My Dad was/is the most sincere, kind, successful, generous human being, as well as practical joker, I have personally known.  Please join me in a rousing chorus of "Happy Birthday" to my father.  I am sure the heavens will rejoice.  I love you, Dad.  Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, I hope you have a way good day! 
{photo by Ricardo Rech}

Thursday, September 11, 2008

We Will Always Remember


{photo by "Trent Davis Photography"}

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Chocolate bliss

Oh my goodness.  Chocolate cake... in one container... 
five minutes + chocolate = bliss.

5 Minute Mud Cake
4 T flour
4 T sugar
2 T cocoa
1 egg
3 T oil
3 T milk
3 T chocolate chips, if desired (of course they are desired.)
A splash of vanilla, if desired (again, of course we need a shot of vanilla.)
One large mug, or two regular size mugs...share the love and calories!

Add the dry ingredients to the mug(s).  Add the egg to the mug.  (Or, pre-beat and then split the egg between the mugs.)  Mix well!  Pour in the milk, oil and vanilla.  Mix well, making sure all the dry ingredients are mixed with the liquid ones.  Add chocolate chips.  Put your mug(s) in the microwave and zap them for 3 minutes.  Let the mugs/cake cool for a pinch, if you can wait.  Either eat the deliciousness straight out of the mug or run a knife around the mugs rim and slide the cake onto a plate.  Eat as is or...sprinkle with confectioner's sugar...or chocolate syrup....and/or whipped cream...or vanilla bean ice cream.  Have a way good day while enjoying it!

Sunday, September 7, 2008



My awesome husband l-o-v-e-s milk, especially with flavor, as in chocolate milk.  When I looked in the pantry this morning, I discovered something new...Nesquik Strawberry powder.  I am chilling the milk and glasses as we speak. Yum!  Have a way good day.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

love and prayers

You may notice the button on my side bar.  It is a link to the Nielsen's blog: Stephanie (Nie Nie), her husband, Christian, and their four young children.  Stephanie and Christian were in a tragic, single plane crash a few weeks ago, on Saturday, August 16.  The flight instructor, the third person on the flight, died a day after the accident.  Christian has burns on 30% of his body and Stephanie...I can hardly write this...is burned over 80% of her body.  I don't personally know Stephanie, but I feel I do through reading her blog for the last year. Please, join her family and friends in prayer for Stephanie and Christian; for all their doctors and caretakers; and, for her amazing family that has banded together to keep life fun and moving forward for their four young ones.   
May we all be kind and uplifting to our nearest and dearest.  Make it a way good day!

Here we gooooo!

I am....actually writing a post.  My very first post to my blog.  So exciting.  And scary. 
Rather like the first day of school.  I am telling myself to take a deep breath and enjoy the ride. Here I come, big yellow school bus!  Have a way good day.