Monthly Archives: October 2012

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Ghoulish Treats and a Grand Introduction

Happy Halloween! I hope you, your children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews have a safe and fun Halloween with lots of treats and very few tricks. I thought it might be fun, even though it’s not a Monday, to post some … Continue reading

Book Review – Judith McNaught’s Perfect

This title says it all, Perfect. I read, a lot. So I was surprised to find that I hadn’t read any of Judith McNaughts books. Well that is changing. After reading Perfect I immediately purchased two more.

Warning — it’s a long story, 677 pages and you’ll have trouble putting it down.

The story is a saga starting with the hero as a young man. Born to wealth his grandmother literally kicks him out and disinherits him. Zachary Benedict is a strong character and makes his way back to the top. But life has left him cynical and when his marriage fails he becomes even more so.

The heroine’s story also starts out as a young girl alone in the world, but unlike Zachary she doesn’t come from money. A foster child Julie Matheson gets herself into trouble and ends up with a dedicated psychologist who places her with a caring family that help her to turn her life around. Determine to prove herself she turns into Miss Perfect.

Zachary’s wife is murdered and he is convicted and sent to life in prison. After five years he escapes and in the process kidnaps Julie and takes her to a luxurious cabin high in the mountains.

Unwillingly both Zachary and Julie form a bond. She doesn’t believe he’s guilty. Zachary isn’t used to love and the unconditional kind that Julie holds out to him leaves him with hope.

This story is a page-turner with no sagging middle. The plot is sort of predictable but the characters give it a fresh twist that fully engaged me.

Just in case…

It’s hard to ignore that Halloween is just around the corner and as usual I have the dilemma of whether to buy sweets for potential trick or treat-sers. The last couple of years I’ve bought in a supply and with no takers on the 31st, have been left with copious amounts of sweets which of course I have to eat during November. I just know that if I don’t buy supplies, I’ll be visited by more children than I can count and with nothing to offer.

Although not technically a superstition, this Halloween tradition has made me think about the other things I do, just in case. Like avoiding walking under a ladder, which is supposed to be bad luck (probably in case the man working at the top of the ladder drops his tin of paint on you as you pass under). Every time I approach a ladder on the street, I automatically pass around it, fearing that the one time I ignore the superstition will be the time the proverbial paint falls 🙂 According to this superstition, if you do walk under that ladder, you have to keep your fingers crossed until you see a dog!

Then there’s the whole not opening an umbrella in the house, because it’s unlucky and may bring bad weather. Or a fear of Friday the 13th, or breaking a mirror which will bring seven years bad luck. But then there’s the lucky black cat crossing your path. I love this one as it’s considered very auspicious and will bring good luck.

Until fairly recently, I was happily oblivious to another superstition. The one that says if you see a single magpie you should salute it. Two magpies mean joy, so no need for the salute. A friend told me this when we were out walking, so now of course I have to salute that lone magpie.

What about you? Are you superstitious? If so, what superstitions do you observe?

Pictures, Then and Now

I was sorting through photo albums a while back and taking a wonderful walk down memory lane in the process. I love taking pictures. I especially love this new digital world we live in, where we can take as many pictures as we want and the only resources used up are our time and camera (or computer) storage space. Pretty nifty, if you ask me.

Photographs themselves have changed so much. Here’s one of my grandfather in the sepia tone of olden-days that we try so hard to mimic in modern times.

 When I was a baby, black and white photos had those crinkled edges. Remember? And yes, this is me as a child.  🙂

 Then it was the slightly washed out color tones of the 70’s and 80’s, like this pic. Yep, me again. I’m on the left, ready to go to Junior Prom with a couple friends of mine. (By the way, my mother made that dress for me. 🙂 )

Now, the colors are more vibrant than ever, like this one taken last year with my brothers and sisters.

So it’s not just the subject matter that helps to date photographs. It’s also the colors (or the lack of them). Over the years, even my photo storage has changed. I started off putting everything in those sticky sheet albums that are so bad for the pictures. Then I became a scrap-booker, designing pages around the pictures. I went to a lot of “scrap nights” at the hobby store and it felt like the old-time quilting bees, where we all sat around working on projects and talking about life, love, and the pursuit of happiness.

These days, I rarely print pictures I take. I’m not sure how I feel about that. I save them all digitally, on my computer, my external hard drive, and also on DVD. Yes, I’m so scared of losing them I save them in 3 different places. I load them up on our digital frame and watch happy events, picture after picture. It’s not the same as an album, but the memories are just as vivid.

How about you? Do you still print pictures and put them in albums?  Do you prefer that to looking at them on a computer?

I wish you all a picture perfect week!  🙂

Carmel Bars

I love cookies and bars are so easy to do. I got this recipe from a recent newsletter.

Incredients:
32 caramels
1/3 cup evaporated milk or light cream
1 cup of sifted flour
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 cup old fashioned oatmeal
¾ cup butter
1 (6 oz) pkg of semi-sweet chocolate chips
½ cup coarsely chopped pecans
¾ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

Melt caramels and cream together on low setting in microwave, stirring occasionally to blend smooth; set aside.

Stir flour, baking soda and salt together in large mixing bowl. Stir in brown sugar and oatmeal.

Using a pastry blender (or butter knives) cut in butter until mixture looks like coarse crumbs. Turn half the batter into a lightly butter 7×11 pan, pressing evenly over the bottom. Bake 10-15 minutes at 350 until lightly browned. Remove from oven. Sprinkle evenly with chocolate chips and pecans, then spread with caramel mixture.

Sprinkle remaining oat mixture evenly over caramel. Return to oven and bake about 20 min or until lightly browned. Cool slightly, 30-45 minutes. Chill in refrigerator for 2 hours until the caramel layer is set. Cut in small squares. Store in refrigerator.

Makes 24 bars.

L is for Love, Laughter, and Leaves by Valerie J. Patterson

This past Sunday my husband surprised me with a lovely day trip that began with a picnic in the park after church.  Leaf Peeping season is upon us, and Steve knows how much I enjoy each new season, how much I enjoy looking at the beauty each season brings us, and how creatively charged I can get when surrounded by all that beauty.  So, he planned an excellent Leaf Peeping Adventure.

As we traveled from one county to the next, across three state borders, and through one forest, my mind drifted to one particular Saturday a couple Octobers ago . . .

I was making the long trip home to see my mom and sisters and nieces and nephews and I had 70 some miles to think and to admire God’s artistry during another beautiful fall season.  The scenery changed as I went from my country-like suburban setting into my mother’s city suburban setting, but one fact remained the same: seasons change no matter where you are.  No matter where you go.

Along Interstate 70 there are wide-open meadows and altering terrain that goes from level to mountainous.  There are evergreens and oak trees and maple trees and foliage galore.  All of it different from the last.  The sun that day poured through the windshield making my windbreaker too heavy for the trip and after I struggled out of it while maintaining my course, I tossed it to the passenger seat and opened the roof of my car.  Autumn plays tricks with humans causing us to think a bright sunny day is also a warm one!  While the sun was warming me, the air was filled with the pungent aroma of burning wood and I knew somewhere close by someone was heating a house with a good old-fashioned wood-burning stove.  I love those stoves.  I have a friend who heats her house this way and it always seems to have an inviting, cozy feel to it that gas or electric heat seems to not have.

As the highway gave way to township and county roads I pulled to a stop at an intersection and I looked out the window to see a brother and a sister hard at work raking what seemed like a thousand leaves from the green blanket that was their lawn.  I rolled the window down and a smile spread across my lips as I heard the girl squeal as her brother covered her with a pile of leaves.  She stood up, covered from head to toe in colorful decorations only nature can provide and I watched her run after him with an armful of leaves.  They laughed, making a chore into a game and I began to feel a little homesick for the days when I went to visit my cousin’s house and we would rake their massive front lawn and build a house with leaves.  Not a structure of any sort, just the outline of rooms we pretended had walls and doors and windows.  Ultimately though, the carefully laid “foundation” ended up in a huge mound with several giggling children beneath it.

The light changed at the intersection but the feeling of nostalgia lingered with me in the front seat of my car and I was thoughtful as I continued my drive.  Childhood really is a gift.  It’s a gift parents give by having children.  It’s a gift children get from God and all too many times we are in such a hurry to grow up – some of us are given no choice and some of us just feel the need to be independent.  By the time I turned onto my mom’s street I was feeling a sort of cross between happiness and a deep sadness for the childhood I left behind.  I pulled into her drive and honked my horn four times like I always do and the front door opened and out came my two youngest nieces, one of my nephews, and the family dog.  Hugs, kisses, and laughter were exchanged and a small breeze rustled the leaves, taking with it my sadness and leaving me in the warmth of the love of my family.

, , , , , ,

The sound of Steve’s voice brought me out of the past and back to the front seat of the car.

“Look at the peach-colored leaves on that copse of tress,” Steve said.

I looked where he pointed, gave his hand a squeeze, and blinked back an urge to cry.  I was right where I wanted to be–on a lovely trip with the one I love–but the past seemed to haunt me for just a wee bit of time that day.

Have you ever had one of those days?  Ones where you think so much about the past that it seems to become rooted in the present?  It’s good to recall memories.  They keep us young.  They enable us to recall simpler, easier times.  Sometimes they are painful and better left in the past.  The point is: they make us stronger.  I hope you have your own recollections of autumns past and I hope there are loved ones at the end that keep you firmly planted in the here-and-now.

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October

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Happy Halloween to everyone. Almost my favorite time of the year except, of course, Christmas. We FINALLY got the house finished, no dip in the floor, new carpet in and almost everything back in place. What a wild few weeks … Continue reading