Family Trek through the Sequoias!

Hi all– Just back from 5 days with family at Sequoia National Park.  Growing up, every summer, my Mom and Dad would stash 4 kids and piles of camping gear in the station wagon, and head up the interstate to Sequoia. So it was big fun to do it again with my Sis and some of our kids!!

We set out one morning to hike our way around bright and brilliant Crescent Meadow (an old favorite for me and my Sis, Lulu!)



Midway around the meadow, we found a quiet spot to stop for lunch and a chance to rest our hiking feet!  And then on we trekked…


We finally arrived at Tharpe’s Log– a fallen redwood tree that became the home to the first settler in that area, who raised sheep in the adjacent meadow.


It was a fine full day–and being immersed in such beauty filled my soul.  I was thanking God for the glorious views all around me.


Thanks bunches to Charlotte, Micah, Jodi, Maryann, Larry, Jobay, Laurel & John (and Ted & Lu!)  for being the best adventurous, intrepid hiking buddies.  Let’s do it again!!


Big Bear Birthday Trip!

Hi all– Just back from a quick trip up the mountain to Big Bear for a little post birthday celebration for my Mom’s 85th birthday.  It was tons of fun.  Here is some of the things we did:

Who wouldn’t want to hang out with these two?  We tried to stick to the family vacation rule– Eat an ice cream every day of your trip!

We kicked back in the cabin– reading in the sunshine on the back porch under the pine trees, daily rounds of Bananagrams, mugs of tea and an afternoon of  looking through old family slides.
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Morning “hikes” to get us going.  We walked along the boardwalk that used to pass over the edge of the lake.  But due to the drought, now it sits along a grassland.  (The “No Boating…” sign used to be at the waters edge on a little beach– now no water in sight!)  Hoping for rain this winter!!

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And we rounded out our time with a little shopping at a favorite Antique/Junk Shop.  We can always find something we need (??) there!  I’m in the first photo camera in hand–in the mirror!
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It was a fine full time together– talking over every little thing, sitting down to quiet meals together and lapping up the blue skies, tall pines and fresh air.  Thanks Mom and Lulu.  You’re the best!!
I have to confess– this last photo is from a previous trip to Big Bear.  Mom, Lu and I did not make it up this high on the mountain this time!!  We spent less time rock climbing and more time sitting and talking!!

Lemon Cheesecake


Hello all– This recipe is in honor of my sister.  She is a beautiful, bountiful baker.  And is now living in Kosovo, of all places!  These days I never get the advantage of her wonderful confections.  So this week I dug out her lemon cheese cake recipe and gave it a go.

I think it’s a favorite because of the sour cream mixed in with all that cream cheese– makes it a little lighter and fluffier.  There’s a leftover piece in the fridge right now– maybe I should quit typing and go cut a small slice!

Well, anyway, here’s to you Lulu!  I miss you from afar and cannot, cannot wait to see you this summer!


1 1/2 cups crushed graham crackers
2 tab. sugar
1/3 cup melted butter

3   8 oz. packages of cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
1 1/2 cup sour cream
2 tsp. grated lemon peel (1 large lemon)

1 1/2 cup sour cream
3 tab. sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla

1/4 cup lemon curd
lemon slices
a bit of mint


Mix the graham cracker crumbs, 2 tab. sugar and melted butter together in a bowl and then press them into a 9″ to 10″springform pan.* Set aside.

With an electric mixer, beat together the cream cheese and cup of sugar.  When it’s blended, beat in the eggs, sour cream and lemon peel.  Spoon the mixture over the crumbs in the pan and pop it into a 350 degree oven for 55 minutes –it will still be jiggly.

Stir together the 1  1/2 cup sour cream, 3 tab sugar and vanilla for the topping.  Spread it very carefully over the cheese cake and put it back into the oven to bake 10 to 15 minutes more.  It will still be soft.  The cheesecake firms more as it cools. Let it cool a couple hours or in the fridge overnight.

To serve it spread the lemon curd over the top of the cheesecake and garnish it with the lemon slices and mint.
Thanks Lu, for all the recipes you’ve sent my way!! xox

*you can use a regular 9″to 10″ deep cake pan, but it is easier to serve if it comes out of the springform pan.


Yak Stew (or lunch in China)

Hello all– I was rummaging through some old photos and came upon this day we stopped in a small village in the interior of China for lunch.  Not just any lunch, but yak stew.  And it was surprisingly delicious!

We were visiting Ted & Luanne (my sis and her husband at the time) who lived some miles down the mountain road.  They took us on a countryside tour that couldn’t have been more intriguing and gorgeous– photos by the Yangtze River, visiting the home of an early British explorer and passing luscious fields of cabbages and water buffalo on farm after farm.

And for lunch there was yak.

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photos:  My Larry, Ted and our travel buddies heading into the restaurant, the noted Yak Stew,  and other bright fresh dishes to finish it off…

And there were other fascinating people and things to be seen in town:
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A walk along the stone streets, courtyard door, outdoor lunch prep on laundry day.

The mountains above
View across the rooftops.

Neighborhood ladies resting in a courtyard of the pharmacy.


Thanks Ted and Lu for the marvelous memorable days with you in China.  Wouldn’t it be remarkable to do it all again? xox

Lulu Days–Favorite Five

IMG_5753Hello all– When my sister Lulu (more commonly known as Luanne) comes into to town we have more fun!!  She and her Ted live in Kosovo (you may have to look it up on a map.  I did.) and having her here 2 weeks left me jumping up and down excited.
So here is my Lulu Top Five.  There’s no one more fun than that girl.  She is the best!

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#1.  I have to say that my all time favorite thing to do with my sis is work together in the kitchen.  Most nights, while she was here we’d chop and stir and talk our way through making dinner.  We are “kitchen-twins”– I know just how she does things and we can really turn out fun food!


IMG_5636     IMG_5654#2. Lulu made the trip to be here for her son Brett’s wedding.  We spent some busy days shopping for supplies, sewing up tablecloths, making cakes…  All that exciting

1457646_10201638604380362_885213209_n Gj-_PrZLdhLkEMOeZwkqLEnelFINbJmOLykHu9lMKGE,HfPuFBlKkVNFJBvAtGJZ5zdNuLNm6jkNz9Efj-91hkk#3. And the wedding!  Brett and Susie were happily wed and it was a sweet family time celebrating together.  Lulu got a hug from her new daughter-in-law!

IMG_5782     IMG_5783#4.  From the time Lulu and I were old enough to save up an allowance, we’d make our lists and do our Christmas shopping together.  We have a routine.  Up early for pancakes, we sit in the restaurant, review our lists and map our our store route.  We shop intrepidly with a lunch stop, of course, and when the stores close, we collapse for a well earned dinner–two bowls of Islands tortillas soup.  Our goal is to finish Christmas shopping in one fun-filled , talk-a-thon day!

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IMG_5770    IMG_5767#5.  And before she left, we managed a day, just the two of us, down to the beach.  Blue skies, cute beach cottages, squawking sea gulls, a ride across the back bay on the ferry and, or course, our afternoon Balboa ice cream bar.

There’s no one like by sister, Lulu– kind and generous with an easy laugh and always happy to help with anything.   I miss you girl, now that you’re back in Kosovo!!  When will have some more days together?

Thank Full

1af7618d53401ab34c8deb3abc6c75b5Hi there–  My house if full and my heart is full as well.  Today my sister is arriving home!  She’s living with in Kosovo, where she and her husband direct/teach at an English high school.  And now,  she’s almost home– coming for the wedding of her son Brett and that cute Susie.  I’m jumping up and down excited!!

Here’s what we’ll do the next 16 days:

1.  Get everything ready for a wedding (in our backyard!)
2.  Talk until way too late every night– as long as her jet lag allows!
3.  Make dinner together in the evenings– love doing that with my sis!
4.  Spend a day out on our annual “Shop til you drop Christmas shopping extravaganza!”
5.  Fill up her suitcases with all the things she’s been missing in Kosovs– (taco
.     seasoning, school supplies, pumpkin pie filling and cranberry sauce…)
6.  Spend a day soaking up the sun down by the beach together!
7.  Enjoy an early Thanksgiving dinner with all her kids on Sunday!
8.  Walk in the park around the lake and talk and talk lots more!

I know that’s too many exclamation points!!  But I love my sis so and couldn’t be more excited to see her walk off that plane this afternoon.  There’ll be hugs and tears all around.

So thank you God, for this happy reunion, for years of growing up and living life with this sis you gave me, for the wedding ahead, for time to say all the little things we can’t fit in when she’s so far away.  I am thank full.