Snail Mail May be Slow, but…..

I have a friend who lives in Chicago who I correspond with only through letters.  This is our method of choice to keep each other informed about any noteworthy news concerning ourselves or our families.

I still prefer writing letters, short notes, ‘dropping a line’ to my friends. It’s just more personal.  E-mails, although a great vehicle to inform, notify or respond in a timely manner, just don’t cut it for me. And texting, no thank you!

Choosing the stationery is half the fun.  I love holding the smooth paper in my hands, selecting only black ink, fine point writing instruments.  If I had the time I’d use a calligraphy pen with an ink jar.  I love the whole writing process, using my best penmanship (thanks to the urging of Sister Mary Martha).  I even love the smell of the paper; strange, I know.  Using a letter opener, when I receive correspondence from my friend is also a little ritual that I enjoy.  When I am very ambitious, I pull out and use the sealing wax and stamp to close the flap on the back of the envelope.  I once bought a kit containing different size stencils to make my own envelopes , which I lined the inside with colored tissue paper.

Writing letters is a lost art.  Maybe I’ll write a book about how to compose a letter to just about anyone on any subject.  In my younger days, friends would actually recruit me to help them write letters ….letters of sympathy, letters of complaints, letters of thanks, love letters, letters to accompany resumes…. yes, once upon a time resumes where held in your hand, not viewed on a computer screen.

A hand written letter/note lets the recipient know how much she/he is valued.  Taking the time to thoughtfully, not quickly, compose a few lines is about as personal as one can get to convey feelings and emotions without actual words being spoken. I declare today, March 29th, Write a Letter Day!

So, who will you send a message to today, carefully folded and sealed for their eyes only???

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Published in: on MarchUTCbTue, 29 Mar 2011 18:57:08 +0000000000Tue, 29 Mar 2011 18:57:08 +0000pmTue, 29 Mar 2011 18:57:08 +000011 9, 2008 at 2:20 p03  Comments (1)  

Starry, Starry Night

I’m sure you’ve all recited this song as a child, “Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star”. Last night , as I was walking the beach at dusk, the sky was transformed from a grayish-purplish hue to a total black-ink darkness in a matter of ten minutes or so. Then gradually, the sky became dotted with stars, tiny specks of sparkling silver , as though someone from heaven was sprinkling a large container of glitter. I was in awe, as well as experiencing some slight neck pain from constantly looking up.

Unlike the song says,”…up above the sky so high, like a diamond in the sky..”, these stars seemed so low, like only an arm’s length away. A spectacular show, free of charge! In addition to the visual beauty I was gazing upon, the ocean’s waves added to the audio portion of this show-stopper. Walking on the soft sand, and feeling the mild, gentle ocean breeze, well, it was pretty indescribable. Which then reminded me of another song. This one by Chris Tomlin, appropriately titled,”Indescribable”. I couldn’t get these words from the song out of my head,”….You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name..” He really is an amazing God.

I wish I could have captured the awesome site in a photo, but then, I don’t think it would have done it any justice. Vincent Van Gogh tried to capture a starry night in his famous painting. He did it in his own impressionist style, but no comparison to the real thing. (Sorry Vincent). I’ll just have to go to the beach again tonight and the next and the next….

Published in: on FebruaryUTCbFri, 25 Feb 2011 15:19:38 +0000000000Fri, 25 Feb 2011 15:19:38 +0000pmFri, 25 Feb 2011 15:19:38 +000011 9, 2008 at 2:20 p02  Comments (1)  

Fresh is Best

If  it’s approaching February…then I must be in Hilton Head for the next few weeks.  Yes, this snow bird has gone South to escape Pittsburgh’s cold, raw, gray, most snowiest (did I make up that word?) month!  I take well to sunshine and warmth, more and more so each year.  Out of all the benefits of spending time here in the Low Country, my greatest joy comes from the fact that I am just minutes away from a Fresh Market grocery store!  I feel sorry for those of you that are not in a close vicinity to this magical market!

I came prepared, as I always do, with new cook books and cooking magazines in tow, overflowing with  tempting and new recipes just waiting for me to tackle!  And what better place to purchase the ingredients than a Fresh Market.   Produce is generally more plentiful and inviting here where we are closer to the warm, longer growing season states which produce fruits and vegetable, like Georgia and Florida.   When I enter a Fresh Market, I’m entering a foodie’s heaven!  I have to contain myself from oohhing and aahhing and touching everything from the dark, forest green,  curly Tuscan kale to the smooth skinned, shiny, baby eggplants the color of an emperor’s royal robe.

The breads on display in the bakery not only have a tantalizing aroma, but are sending subtle invitations to have their crusty exterior broken and slathered with the honey butter, made on the premises.  I am drawn to the coffee and tea aisle to sample the fresh brew of the day; my all time favorite being Seville Orange…just a slight hint of bright citrus mingled with a robust, fragrant coffee bean flavor.   The cheese counter is like no other!   Hard to find, aged to perfection, these hunks of salty and sharp or creamy and smooth made from either cow’s or sheep’s milk cheeses will blend and marry beautifully with a pasta dish or find it’s way into a scrumptious sauce.

I can hardly contain myself!   Can’t wait to go this morning and saunter aisle by aisle searching for whatever I need to make an unforgettable feast.  I never go with a shopping list, I just let my senses, all of them, guide me to purchase the freshest, most appealing items as single ingredients, knowing that they will join together and transform to something that will feel like angel’s dancing on my tongue.

Published in: on JanuaryUTCbMon, 31 Jan 2011 14:58:58 +0000000000Mon, 31 Jan 2011 14:58:58 +0000pmMon, 31 Jan 2011 14:58:58 +000011 9, 2008 at 2:20 p01  Comments (2)  

New Decade

January 2011.   A new decade is upon us.  When someone says the older you get the faster time passes by, boy, they’re not kidding!  But wait, didn’t we  just herald in the new millennium?  Didn’t DVDs  just replace VCRs, word processors replace typewriters, push buttons replace rotary dial phones, what generation iPod are we up to now anyway?  I don’t even want to touch what computers and smart phones can do! [Well, I do enjoy scyping with my out of town kids.]  And if I hear the word ‘apps’, wait, it’s not even a word! one more time , I think I’ll scream!  Oy, double oy!  If  you can identify with that phrase and remember who Myron Cope is, well, we may be on the same page!   I guess I need to get with it, accept these changes, learn to adjust…blah, blah, blah.   I am willing to try. [Dragging my feet just a little.]

A new decade, new year, new month and I guess a new attitude is in order.  One more thing.  Just when did my doctors, bankers, police officers, and government officials all look like they just graduated from High School?!?!

If you haven’t guessed, this year on my birthday, I will step out of one decade  and enter into the next. [Also, dragging my feet just a little.]  Age is only a number, age is only a number, age is only a number….

Published in: on JanuaryUTCbThu, 06 Jan 2011 00:24:30 +0000000000Thu, 06 Jan 2011 00:24:30 +0000amThu, 06 Jan 2011 00:24:30 +000011 9, 2008 at 2:20 p01  Comments (1)  

Christmas-Passed Decorations

Well, It’s that time of the year…our turkey is hardly digested and we are propelled into the joyful Holiday Season, awaiting the decking of the halls!!  Every year when I pull out my many boxes of Christmas decorations, I take a deep sigh and vow to get rid of the ones that are old, worn and had seen their day.  Not an easy task.  I become very nostalgic at the unwrapping of each item that I so carefully wrapped the year before and I reminisce about who gave it to me, the year I first hung it on the tree or in my house somewhere.  Each  ratty, homemade ornament made by my children will find a place to be displayed, with a story or a memory to go with it.  I just can’t seem to throw any of these special glimpses into passed Christmases away!  Every year when I see the stylishly coordinated, tastefully decorated trees in Macy’s or Nordstom’s, I make a mental note to copy that tree in my home.  That would mean trashing all my old ornaments and replacing them (costing a small fortune).  But, alas, I can’t bring myself to doing that. So, out come the many angel’s I’ve collected over the years and the one’s that have been given to me by family members, each one loved more and more each time I see them.  To me, that is what Christmas is about.  It is a building and layering of sorts of memory upon memory. There is no replacement for that.  The twinkling white lights in and among those precious ornaments is a reminder of the joy and smiles this tree brings from past years.  Priceless!!

Published in: on NovemberUTCbSun, 28 Nov 2010 18:22:37 +0000000000Sun, 28 Nov 2010 18:22:37 +0000pmSun, 28 Nov 2010 18:22:37 +000010 9, 2008 at 2:20 p11  Comments (1)  

Fall Harvest

Well, it’s September, my favorite time of year.  It’s also a busy time of year for me.  In the past two weeks I’ve canned tomatoes (that I’ve picked), made plum cordial (from plums that I’ve picked), and recently made roasted red peppers for the winter (that I’ve picked)!  The “fruits” of my labor will be greatly appreciated every time I open a can of that rich, red tomato sauce for Sunday dinner or sip on that rosy pink liqueur in front of a cozy fire this winter.  The red peppers were ‘put up’ in freezer bags rather than jars…I’ve succumbed to making my life easier in many respects.  Now with all this behind me, I’m ready to scour the farmers’ markets and grab what produce I can to make the fall dishes that I long for this time of year.  Roasted squash soup, pumpkin ravioli, fig crostata, apple dumplings with hard sauce….my mouth is watering!

I will plan several fall dinners and hope that the weather holds up for some outdoor eating and entertaining over the next few months.  Then it will be time to plan Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas baking Christmas Eve Feast of the Fishes , January is usually reserved for making soups, breads and homemade pasta…..It never ends, this love affair with food , cooking and eating! Thank God!!

Published in: on SeptemberUTCbWed, 08 Sep 2010 13:30:15 +0000000000Wed, 08 Sep 2010 13:30:15 +0000pmWed, 08 Sep 2010 13:30:15 +000010 9, 2008 at 2:20 p09  Comments (1)  
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Blogging VS. Facebooking….

I guess if it comes down to either blogging or posting on Facebook,  for me, Facebook has come out the winner.  Just because it is much easier to post a thought, verse, quote and the response in comments outnumbers the comments on my blog.  Hmm,,wonder why that is?  Probably because Facebook has fast become the communicator of choice for millions and millions of people, and because there are so many new blogs too numerous to count out there in the blogosphere.  Now I’m not going to give up my blog for good.  As you can see, I’ve not been very regular and that’s because I check my Facebook pages ( yes, I have a personal and a business one for my books) several times a day.  It just is an easy access to connect with so many friends and family.  I could post my blogging on my FB page if I knew how!!!!

I’m not that savvy when it comes to technology, I must depend on others and everyone seems too busy for me to bother them.  (I guess they are pinging, exporting …it’s a whole other world to me. )  So I’ll just stick to good ole reliable FB for now, I won’t discard my blog.  Occasionally, I’ll post, possible link it to my FB page and if I need to write something lengthy and blog-worthy, I can always put in my “Notes”.

Published in: on AprilUTCbTue, 13 Apr 2010 17:03:07 +0000000000Tue, 13 Apr 2010 17:03:07 +0000pmTue, 13 Apr 2010 17:03:07 +000010 9, 2008 at 2:20 p04  Comments (1)  
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A Gift from the South Hummingbird Cake

I recently discovered this wonderful cake while visiting Charleston.  It was one of the most flavorful, moist cakes I’ve ever tasted.  So, of course I had to try making it myself, it did not disappoint!   I found several versions of the recipe, Paula Deen’s was my favorite. (She is  a southern belle, after all).

Paula Deen Hummingbird Cake

By thillin

.  This is from her book Paula Deen Celebrates!

3 Cups self-rising flour

2 Cups granulated sugar

3/4 Cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup chopped pecans

2 very ripe large bananas – mashed

1 can (8oz) crushed pineapple

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp ground cinnamon

4 large eggs, beaten

ICING RECIPE

1 pound box confectioners’ sugar

8oz package cream cheese- room temp

6 tbs butter, softened

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tbs milk, more if needed

1/2 cup finely chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 325*

Grease and flour three 8 inch round cake pans.  In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, oil, 1/2 cup pecans, bananas, pineapple, vanilla, cinnamon and beaten eggs.  Stir well until smooth.

Pour batter into the 3 pans and bake for 26-28 min, or until tops spring back.  Let cool in pans for 10 min.  Then cool on racks completely.

Make the icing by mixing the sugar, cream cheese, butter, vanilla and 1 tbs milk in a large bowl with an electric mixer.  Mix until smooth.  If needed add more milk, 1 tsp at a time for proper spreading consistency.  Ice between each layer and on the top and sides.  Sprinkle the top with pecans.  Keep refrigerated.

thanksgiving-2006-hummingbird-cake.JPG

Published in: on MarchUTCbWed, 03 Mar 2010 13:30:36 +0000000000Wed, 03 Mar 2010 13:30:36 +0000pmWed, 03 Mar 2010 13:30:36 +000010 9, 2008 at 2:20 p03  Comments (1)  

Heading Home ….. My New Home

When I woke up this morning, the first thing my eyes focused on, as they do every morning, is the huge palm tree outside my bedroom window. This will be the last time I see this magnificent tree standing statuesque in my back yard.  I am headed home tomorrow, up north to the mounds of snow, dirty snow, now I’m told, and the cold bitter air of the last days of winter in Pittsburgh.  My retreat, sojourn, R&R, escape,vacation, days of wine and roses….aahhh! are over.  We take this little trip to the south every year, but this time, saying goodbye to the Lowcountry will be different.

Our new home awaits me.  Sam went ahead to prepare and meet the moving van along with four or five other service people who will install, connect and prepare our carriage home for occupation.  Carriage home…just a glorified name for a duplex.  We are moving not only into the carriage home, but a new phase of our lives.  You see, most of our new neighbors are retired.  We are not quite there yet, but heading in that direction.  Semi-retired, there! I’ve said it!  We have been living with our daughter , son-in-law and two grandchildren for the past seven months, in their basement during the construction of our new home . Yes, we’ve been cellar-dwellers, in our own little sub-terrain apartment.  Now it is time to move.   Am I excited about moving, yes; ready to face the umpteen boxes and unpacking, no!  This is our eighth move,  the first one without any of our kids in tow.  Different.  Just the two of us again.

Change is good. I’ve written about it before.  It’s something we all go through, only about a thousand times in a lifetime.  Attitude makes all the difference in the world.  I plan to stay positive, embrace every aspect with eyes wide open and arms too, expecting only the best. After all our Lord has provided us with this home, our good health and His promise to remain by our side every step of the journey.  Yeah, I’m really excited!!

Published in: on MarchUTCbWed, 03 Mar 2010 12:34:10 +0000000000Wed, 03 Mar 2010 12:34:10 +0000pmWed, 03 Mar 2010 12:34:10 +000010 9, 2008 at 2:20 p03  Comments (1)  
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POLKA DOTS

Polka dots are everywhere! Have you noticed?

I personally have a soft spot in my heart for those fun little circles symmetrically scattered on anything from clothing to toys to furniture to accessories to small household items.  They are big in the decorating world today.

When I was fourteen, you remember that tender age where your self esteem was in jeopardy and challenged on a daily basis, I owned a white pique dress with black polka dots .  It had a dropped waist and capped sleeves. I felt very chic and cosmopolitan when I wore that dress.  I think I might have worn it to church every Sunday or at least, every other Sunday.  Even though it was a hand-me-down from my sister, Sheila, I embraced that dress as if it were my own and just adored it.  It made me smile.  It was just the type of dress that perky little Gidget might have worn. (She was my idol, everything about her right down to her name.)

For the school picnic one year when I was in grade school, my Mom, who made a good deal of my clothes, had made a pair of red pedal pushers with a matching “angel blouse” that was white with red and navy blue rather large polka dots on it.  She creatively cut out a few of the dots and sewed them on the side of the pants at the hemline.  Wow, was I sharp!  (Remember that word describing how very stylish you dressed?)

Polka dots are just plain fun!  I think we are seeing a revival of them due to the gloomy economic atmosphere we have been plunged into over the past year.  They make us happy.  I read somewhere recently that when our economy is in a slump, the sale of lipstick increases dramatically.  Who knew?  Well, I can answer that.  Women know how and what to do to lift spirits and boost our sense of well being without spending an arm and a leg, against popular belief.  When we wear a new shade of lipstick or wear polka dots we put on our best smile, hold our heads high and laugh at the temporary slump our nation is experiencing.

So I challenge you women of all ages, purchase your new lipstick, buy something polka dotted in anticipation of Spring and better days ahead!

Published in: on JanuaryUTCbSun, 24 Jan 2010 17:47:12 +0000000000Sun, 24 Jan 2010 17:47:12 +0000pmSun, 24 Jan 2010 17:47:12 +000010 9, 2008 at 2:20 p01  Comments (1)  
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