Monthly Archives: September 2013

Book Review – Robyn Carr’s Redwood Bend

CARRI’ve seen Robyn Carr’s name all over the place. She’s a NY Times best-selling author and has a gazillion books published. Why I hadn’t until now, managed to pick up one to read, I don’t know. Because I’ve been missing out.

I just finished Redwood Bend, and I really enjoyed this story. It’s down home, sweet, sensual, and so satisfying I walked around with a smile on my face the rest of the day after I finished it. Take one small, woodsy northern California town, an ex-Hollywood star turned pilot and motorcycle rider, and a mother trying to recreate a normal life for her children. Add in two adorable, and busy, 5 year old twin boys and you have the makings for a story that can easily warm your heart on a cold (or any type of) night.

I was shocked when I went looking for more and found this was book EIGHTEEN in the Virgin River series. I see I’ll be catching up on Robyn Carr books this fall and winter. 🙂 This series is definitely on my recommend list.

Here’s the book blurb from the author’s website:

CAN CHANGING A TIRE CHANGE YOUR LIFE?

Katie Malone and her twin boys’ trip along the beautiful mountain roads to Virgin River is stopped short by a tire as flat as her failed romance.  To make matters worse, the rain has set in, the boys are hungry and Katie doesn’t have the first clue about putting on a spare.  As she stands at the side of the road pondering her next move, she hears a distinct rumble.  The sight of the sexy, leather-clad bikers who pull up beside her puts her imagination into overdrive.

Dylan Childress and his buddies are on the motorcycle trip of a lifetime.  But the sight of a woman in distress stops them in their tracks.  And while the guys are checking out her car, she and Dylan are checking out one another.

In one brief moment, the world tilts on its axis and any previous plans Katie and Dylan might have had for their futures are left at the side of the road.

WELCOME BACK TO THE RIVER.

Priceless Fake

I’ve always been a lover of fake jewellery. I love the freedom of wearing pieces without the fear of losing or breaking them. I do own real jewellery… my diamond engagement ring, a gold watch my mum bought me one Christmas, plus a couple of lovely gold bangles, ruby earrings… and I really treasure and value each piece. But I rarely buy real jewellery myself and over the years I’ve purchased probably hundreds of pieces of fake, or junk, jewellery. Some pieces have been around for years and I’m still wearing them now, others have been purchased to go with one particular outfit and discarded soon after. There’s no guilt attached, as I console myself with the fact that the pieces cost me next to nothing. But is all fake jewellery worthless?

Apricot pearls 3Recently, I had an apricot pearl necklace restrung. It belonged to my beloved grandmother and holds lots of precious memories. She used to let me rummage through her jewellery box when I was a little girl and as I grew older she’d gift me pieces of her jewellery, sometimes for birthdays, but mostly just because she wanted to do so. While the apricot pearls are beautiful, I never saw her wear them. Maybe she felt like me, and was worried about losing them. What she did wear, almost every day, was an Aurora Borealis beaded glass necklace that, although pretty, had no monetary value. AB necklaceWhile I inherited many pieces of her jewellery when she died, it is this glass necklace that I treasure the most. When I wear it I can almost feel her presence and energy radiating from the crystal and warming my heart. To me, that’s far more precious and valuable than the most priceless jewel.

These days, I’m getting much better at wearing and enjoying all my jewellery and do try not to worry about losing it. How about you? Do you have a special piece of jewellery you worry about wearing because it is so valuable? Do you prefer to wear fake or always choose the real thing? I’d love to know 🙂

Trips and Getting Ready

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAThey say part of traveling is the anticipation and for me it’s true. Back in the days when I was working and needing to clear my desk plus leave the house, pets, yard etc. ready for a two weeks absence I would fret and stress until the car pulled out of the drive. Then like a blanket being lifted it would all fall away and I would be in vacation mode. And now, with not working, and only the cat the stress of getting ready isn’t nearly as much and yet I still organize the heck out of getting ready to leave.

Of course one reason I can travel with good feelings is my family. They step in and take care of it all for me. This will be the first time Rue (cat) will be left without her buddy Abby but the kids took Abby home with them a lot so Rue didn’t have her 100% of the time. She no doubt will get a little lonely but family and friends will stop in to take care of the water, feed and litter box and even stay to visit with her so she won’t be ‘all’ by herself.

Over the years Jack and I have been fortunate to be able to travel, road trips, month long snowbird excursions and international trips so getting ready has gotten easier as we do it more. Even with experience I find that without lists I forget things. So one year I put the first list on the computer and when the next vacation came along I took that list, made a copy and enhanced it for the current trip. Over the years I have a number of lists so I can pick one that is close to the one I’m planning.

I also am fortunate to have a spare room so I can start the packing process early. No excuses for forgetting things and yet I do. A toothbrush, and toothpaste seem to be the two most frequently forgotten items.

Guess you can tell I’m soooo ready for a vacation. This one promises to be fun. I’ll fill you all in on the trip when I get back.

Smoky Butternut Squash Soup

It’s that time of year. The air is chilling and I’m getting into SOUP mode. I love homemade soups. 🙂 I’m not the biggest fan of squash, but I’ve been looking for some creamier soups that aren’t really creamy (hubby doesn’t do milk…at all. He doesn’t like it.) My sister says this is one of her “go-to” soup recipes.

Smoky Butternut Squash Soup

  • 4 slices bacon
  • 3 pounds (about 2 small) butternut squash
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 large onions, coarsely chopped
  • 2 small carrots, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 2 small celery stalks, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
  • 3 3/4 cups chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons thinly slivered fresh sage or 2 teaspoons dried
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

1.  In Dutch oven or large, heavy pot, cook the bacon over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and crisp. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain, then crumble and set aside.  Pour off and discard the fat from the pot and set the pot aside.

2.  Meanwhile, cut the butternut squash in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Cut each half lengthwise in half again and, using a sharp paring knife, peel the squash. Cut the squash into 3/4 inch chunks.

3.  Melt the butter in the pot over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, celery, garlic, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring, until the onions are translucent, 10 to 12 minutes.  Add the squash and stock and bring to a simmer. Partially cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the squash is very tender, about 15 minutes.

4.  In batches, puree the soup in a blender until smooth and return to the pot. Stir in the sage, and season with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and the pepper. Reheat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until hot. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle some of the crumbled bacon in the center of each serving.

Serves 8.

This recipe looks pretty yummy and I’m going to try it one of these days. What do you think? Can it make me a squash-liker? 🙂

Addendum: October 24, 2013

I finally got around to making this soup last night and it was great! It’s not enough as a main dish, even with the bacon, but it’s a great side dish!

Leaves of My Generation by Valerie J. Patterson

Every family tree—large or small—has many leaves. Some are fresh and new due to the addition of new babies. Some are brightly colored as relatives enter the prime of their lives. Still others are weak and withered. Each branch of the family tree represents a different family line whether it be aunts and uncles, grandparents, or nieces and nephews; you want your family tree to have multiple branches. Strong, healthy branches. Branches that spread out and reach for the glory of the sun and sky.

The problem?

As with earthly, planted trees, each family tree goes through periods of losing leaves that can never be replaced. Each leaf that falls from the tree represents a loved one lost. Taken from our view and our lives, never to be replaced.

As we age, there are milestone leaves, if you will. These are losing grandparents, followed—hopefully many seasons down the path—by losing parents and relatives of their generation. Those milestones are life-changing events. Those cause voids that will never be filled. My husband and I have both experienced the loss of a parent. Our lives were forever changed by their passing.

But what about when the leaves of your own generation begin to fall from the tree? How do you handle those losses? These are perhaps the kinds of losses that not only narrow your world, but also cause you to take stock in your life and to look around at who remains.

Unfortunately, I’ve already begun to see the leaves of my generation begin to fall. On September 8th I lost my cousin, Walter. On September 15th I lost my cousin, Bobby. Bobby and Walter were brothers. As I sat at the memorial service for Walter, I slowly looked around the room. Even though I still saw the cousins I played in leaf piles with, or rode bikes with, or spent countless overnights with, or went to camp with, I was struck with the realization that we had—dare I say it—gotten older. Walter—perhaps among the eldest of my generation—was still the young man I could remember seeing in a military uniform when I was very young. Bobby, his junior by eight years, was still the older cousin I fondly remember taking the time one evening to sit with his younger cousin (me) and actually talk with me about any subject my young mind wandered to. I could easily remember these guys bounding down the stairs of their home and rushing out the front door on their way to see friends or girlfriends or whatever.

Tomorrow, I will say goodbye to Bobby, and as I write this, I still have trouble grasping that the leaves of my generation have begun to fall from my family tree. How I wish I had the power within me to catch them as the wind whisks them off the branches and gently stick them back in their places.

Life is a gift, and today is a present to be opened and shared and enjoyed. Take the time to look at the colorful leaves of your family tree, then reach out and hug them and tell them you love them because you never know when one will fall from the branch never to be replaced.

Until next time, I hope when your feet hit the floor in the morning that a smile tugs at the corners of your mouth and your day is full of bright sunshine and wonderful blessings.

Gallery

SEPTEMBER

This gallery contains 2 photos.

Welcome autumn!!! Actually it looks a lot like autumn in Oregon right now. Personally I am glad we are over some of the really hot weather, us Oregonians have to have that rain!!! We had a wonderful time at the … Continue reading

Of Anniversaries, Exercising Cats, Hitchcock and Best-Sellers

September 15 was my parents’ 55th wedding anniversary. They married at 18 and have been together ever since. They’ve weathered the good, the bad and the ugly and are still together. I’m quite proud of them for sticking it out. We ate lunch at a burger and ice-cream place kind of like the malt shops of the days when they dated. It was fun and we had a lovely time.

My crazy cat has taken a liking to the stationery bicycle in our house. He’s still causing us to giggle and bringing us great joy. I’m so happy we rescued this little dude although as I think about it, maybe he actually rescued us from a dull, pet-less existence.

Turner Classic Movies has been playing Hitchcock movies this month every Sunday. They’re calling it Sundays with Hitch. I love it. I’ve long been a fan of his films and I absolutely adore that he has a cameo of himself in every film. It’s a fun game to spot him in the crowd or walking down the street. If you ever get a chance to see the play, “The 39 Steps” do it. It’s a comedy and all through it, they make puns and plays on words that are titles to his films. It’s hilarious.

My short story that I talked about last time, Enchanted Edinburgh, has hit #2 on my publisher’s best seller list in one day. Made my day for sure.

September

imageFor me September is the only month with a consistent scent. I don’t know if it’s the fruit that is ready for harvest or the change the weather takes but it truly heralds in fall with its fragrance.

I have had the house almost a year. We took possession in Oct. even though I didn’t get fully moved in until January. So I have seen the garden at this time of year. Last year the little apple tree had apples but nothing like this year and this is after I thinned some of them out. It almost makes you feel sorry for the little thing. The picture doesn’t do it justice and it looks like it’s almost groaning. Kris was over and picked quite a few so at least it’s getting some relief now.

I have really loved watching the garden over the months. I’ve posted pictures of some of the flowers and hope to do more out there this coming year. I have four raised beds and I’m not much for vegetables so I’m toying with leaving the one for a tomato and cucumber plant and doing the rest in spring bulbs.

September is one of my favorite months. I loved school so that didn’t deter me. It isn’t a slow month as yards, and gardens need tending and getting ready for winter. So I’m not sure why I like it so much but I do. For me it means;
• Cool mornings and nights
• Ball games with excited fans
• Fresh cucumbers and tomatoes
• Shorter days – but not to short yet
• Fair – oh yeah. I knew Jack from school but we started dating at the State Fair (another story).

Again, these are my first thoughts when I think ‘September’. What about you, what does September bring to mind?

More Acts of Kindness – a Reflection

Today for me, as for many, is a day of reflection and remembering and I think it’s an important day on a global scale. I had the opportunity, one year after the 9/11/2001 disaster,  to submit my thoughts to our local newspaper. I was one of five selected for print. I re-read it recently and found it still applies today. So I thought I’d reprint an excerpt of it for my blog today:

More Acts of Kindness?

In the aftermath of this disaster, we have all learned to live with different truths. We are not invulnerable. There is no guarantee of safety anymore. And I think we are all more aware. But has this changed us?

The world goes on and some of what happens isn’t good.

As  for me, I don’t get as upset at the person who cuts me off in traffic these days. I try to practice more kindness with people. But I still find myself with moments of impatience or intolerance. When I review the events of each day, I find myself lacking. There were changes I wanted to make after Sept. 11th, but didn’t.

But I also see progress I have made. And I’m not the only one. Even with all the financial woes and the pain in the world, I see more acts of kindness than I used to. Are they really occurring more often? Or am I simply more aware?

I believe we have changed. Our awareness has increased. And hopefully, we will continue to create a kinder and more considerate [world]. My hopes are strong.

Ice Cream Pie

chefpic A friend makes this pie and it is so good. I’m going to make a few just have in the freezer. They are so handy and you could garnish them with berries or oranges or whatever.

6 oz. frozen concentrated orange juice or lemonade
1 pint vanilla ice cream, softened
8 oz. Cool Whip Topping, thawed
1 6 oz. graham cracker crumb crust

Blend juice and ice cream and fold in whipped topping until smooth. Freeze until mixture will mound. Spoon into crust and freeze until firm (4 hours or overnight). Let stand at room temperature 10 minutes before serving.