Summer Reading 2018

Hi Reading Friends–  Do you have a stack of books waiting for time you can snatch for summer reading??  Here’s a few recent reads that I really enjoyed, memoirs, fiction and an amazing story of WWII.  What are you reading this summer??  Would love to have your suggestions!!

The Middle Place — by Kelly Corrigan
A memoir of Kelly’s growing up in her close knit family, alternating with chapters about her cancer treatments as a young mom and her father’s battle with cancer at the same time.  Sounds grim, but Kelly’s honesty, humor and love of family make it a book you won’t want to put down.  Love all her relatable books.

The Dirty Life, On Farming, Food, and Love by Kristen Kimball
Memoir of the author’s falling in love with her husband Mark and falling in love with organic farming.  It follows the first year they spend developing their farm in upstate New York–so many informative stories about crops and cooking, about animals and how to care for them.  Makes me appreciate all that goes into the food we eat!

by Sophie Egan
Egan goes in to detail about how and why American’s eat the way they do.  Topics: How work affects our eating, Diets, the rise of wine consumption, how Italian food became so mainstream, fast food marketing, the popularity of brunch, organic, gluten free, non-fat options, family meals…  Fascinating and sometimes surprising.  Loved it.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
Riveting from the first page, the story of the bright and prosperous Richardson family and their renters, artist Mia and her smart daughter.  Their lives intertwine to the breaking point and divisions over the adoption of a baby, personal choices provide all the plot twists and turns.

The Song of Hartgrove Hall by Natasha Solomons
The story alternates between 3 brothers returning to their dilapidated manner house after WWII and an enchanting young singer who helps bring it back to life– and then the story of one of those brothers 50 years later, training his grandson, the piano prodigy and reliving the turmoil of his life.  British family drama wrapped in music.

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
A small girl is found alone on a ship arriving from England to Australia in 1910.  She is taken in by the harbor master and his wife.  But her story is a mystery.  It takes 500 pages and 3 generations of women to tell the true story.  Sort of a mix of Charles Dickens meets Downton Abbey.  Very readable and graced with likable characters and an involving plot line.

A Higher Call: an incredible true story of combat and chivalry  — by Adam Makos
The true story of an American pilot in WWII who was flying a battered bomber out of Germany, when a German fighter pilot, Franz Stigler flew along beside him and escorted him out of danger.  The book gives the two men’s backgrounds and stories through the war and their meeting finally many years after the war.  Interesting to have an anti-Nazi German pilot’s point of view.

Illustration at the top by Andre Pecoud.

Morning by Morning

“Relying on God has to begin all over again every day as if nothing yet had been done.”
— C.S. Lewis (British writer, theologian, Oxford professor, 1898-1963)

I love that each morning as I wake up, I know God is close, listening, ready to share the day ahead with me.

“Morning by morning, O Lord, you hear my voice;
morning by morning I lay my requests before you
and wait in expectation.  — Psalm 5:3


P.S. Photo from John & Laurel’s wedding in Wisconsin last summer.

Easter Again

Hello friends– I wonder if you are celebrating Easter this year.  We are.  I have the ham in the fridge, the table pulled large and to set for family. And Easter eggs waiting to be hidden for the grand-girls.

But my true celebration is in the quiet of my heart and mind.  I pretty much wept through the Good Friday evening service tonight– full to overflowing with the depth of God’s love for us.  Jesus giving himself to make us children of God. So grateful.

“Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and to go the Father.  Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of this love.”         John 13:1


Painting– The Resurrection by Rembrandt

A Quiet Anniversary

Hi friends–  This week Larry and I marked anniversary #43!  It is one of those “how can that be?” kind of numbers.  But then again, I can barely remember when we haven’t been married.

So yesterday we headed down toward the beach to mark a quiet celebration– pizza lunch at Mozza (a fancy day out for us!), a walk around the perimeter of Balboa Island and a stop for a frozen banana (Larry) and an ice cream (me).



We have a couple big trips in April, and Easter and lots of hub bub in between.  So I liked our quiet day– walking, talking, planning some things ahead.  So thankful to be married to this guy.

Mocha Cheesecake

Hi there all–  Here’s a cheesecake made for a game night with friends– lots of talk, laughs and a dose of noisy competitiveness!  Finished off with a couple cheesecakes.

This desert has two layers of creamy cheesecake, one coffee flavored, one chocolate, topped with a creamy chocolate ganache.  Pretty irresistible!


1 prepared Oreo piecrust*
2 tab. butter, melted

2 tab. instant coffee granules
1 tab. boiling water
1 cup chocolate chips
32 oz. cream cheese (4 –8 oz. packages)
1 cup sugar
3 tab. flour
3 eggs
1 cup sour cream

Ganache topping:
1/4 cup whipping cream
1 tab. butter
2/3 cup chocolate chips

Mix the Oreo crust and the melted butter in the bottom of a 9″ springform pan.  Press the crumbs to make a uniform thin layer covering the bottom of the pan.  Set it into a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes.

Dissolve the coffee granules in the boiling water and set aside.

To make the filling, use an electric mixer the beat together the cream cheese and sugar until it’s creamy.  Then beat in the flour, eggs and sour cream.  Divide the batter evenly between two bowls.

Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave for 1 1/2 minutes and then stir until it is smooth.  Fold the chocolate into the fist bowl of batter until it is thoroughly blended.

Stir the dissolved coffee granules into the second bowl of batter until it is all incorporated.

Spoon the chocolate batter over the crust and smooth out the top.  Add the coffee batter over the top and spread it evenly over the top.

Pop the cheesecake into a 350 oven for 50 to 60 minutes until it is firm to the touch and just a little wobbly when you shake it.  Open the oven door, turn off the heat and let the cheese cake sit 1 hour in the cooling oven.  Then take it out, slide a sharp knife around the edge to loosen the cheesecake from the pan and set it into the fridge for 3 or 4 hours.

To make the ganaches, heat the whipping cream and butter in a small pan on the stove until it just starts to simmer.  Take it off the heat and stir in the chocolate chips and beat for 3 or 4 minutes until it’s glossy.  Let it cool and when you’re ready to serve up the cheese cake, drizzle it over the top.  Delish!

*The recipe I worked from used 20 Oreo cookies, crushed.  But getting the pre-made Oreo crust was cheaper and already to use.

Pumpkin Bran Muffins

Hello all–   I promise– this is the last pumpkin recipe until next fall!  But I was thinking maybe you have a half a can of pumpkin lurking in your fridge still!  Use it here.

These were breakfast one morning last week when the kids were here for a few days of Thanksgiving.  Hearty and warm– perfect with a slash of butter and a little marmalade.  Breakfast!

1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 cup flour
1 cup wheat bran
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup walnuts (or pecans), chopped

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the pumpkin, oil, brown sugar and egg.  Then mix in the flour, bran, baking powder, salt and nuts.

Spoon the batter into a muffin pans lined with muffin papers (makes 10).  Bake them in a 375 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes.  They’re done when a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Happy eating!

November Thanksgiving

Hi friends– I love this month, when many people turn their hearts to thanksgiving.  Not just the turkey and pie Thanksgiving, but the opening of hearts to number all the reasons we have to give thanks.

To help, I’ve made a list to get me started, one reason to be thankful for each day of November.  I thought maybe you’d like to give  thanks each day as well…

#1.  Which friend are you most thankful for? Why?
#2.  What makes you thankful about the place you live?
#3.  What made you smile today?
#4.  What have you learned from a hard experience?
#5.  What about your parents makes you thankful?
#6.  What did you see today that is beautiful?
#7.  What is different than a year ago that makes you thankful?
#8.  What accomplishment makes you thankful?
#9.  What was your favorite outing in the last year?
#10. What beauty in nature makes you give thanks?
#11. What is a childhood memory that makes you thankful?
#12. What do you love about the current season of your life?
#13. Which family member are you most thankful for?  Why?
#14. What kindness have you received to make you thankful?
#15. What is something about your job that makes you thankful?
#16. Which comforts in your life make you thankful?
#17. What gift you received made you thankful?
#18. Which day with friends has filled you with thanks?
#19. What is something you’ve read this year that has provoked thanks?
#20. What about God in your life makes you thankful?
#21. How are you thankful for something you are looking forward to?
#22. What spot in your home makes you most thankful?
#23. What do you see in nature that inspires thankfulness?
#24. Which music are you thankful for?
#25. What talents are you grateful to have?
#26. What memory are you thankful for?
#27. What struggle can you be grateful for?
#27. Which family tradition are you most thankful for?
#28. Where do you thankfully find peace and rest?
#29. What has given you most joy in the past year?
#30. How can you continue to be thankful though the year ahead?

And here’s the grand-girls with their own form of thankfulness last Thanksgiving.  Those girls are one of the things I’m very most thankful for…

P.S. Thanks to for the Thanksgiving graphic.