Thursday, March 31, 2011

Happy Birthday Kamryn!

There's something to be said for small family celebrations. I remember when my kids were little I wanted to give them everything. I wanted each holiday to be as special as possible and so I did everything in my power to make it so. Sometimes we didn't have much but we did the best we could hoping that it would be enough. I don't know if we really realized then that sometimes less is more.I was able to just watch Suzanne and her version of a birthday party for a little girl turning 2. Here, Kamryn was able to just sit back and truly enjoy each step of the evening without being rushed or overwhelmed with people and gifts. Happy Birthday, Sweetheart!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Food Matters

Netflix is running a documentary right now entitled "FOODMATTERS". It's extremely informative and even life changing as it reconfirms for me the commitment I made many years ago to live healthier. My own food choices are quite a challenge for me but not so much when I'm out there researching the reasons for eating right. Those reasons are compelling.

From time to time I have been asked to share the things I've learned about health and what part food plays in it, so I started a new little blog called "Happy Eating! ~ From My Kitchen". As it turns out, I'm finding that I want to do this for myself as much as for others because the huge side effect is that I am thrown back into reminding myself of where and why it all began for me and what makes it so very important.

Over the years, as I've put many of these changes away from the Standard American Diet into place here at home I've become my own living proof of some things that work to prevent sickness and promote wellness. So I'm grateful for what's happening. It is my hope that perhaps others might benefit in the sharing as well.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


See the beautiful woman in this picture? She's my sister Sheryl. After I had my car accident she dropped everything and came from Oregon to help me. She spent 8 days here helping with dinner, applying and refreshing bandages, changing the pads on my neck brace, driving me places, watching movies with me and generally lifting my spirits. She saw me through the tough beginnings of being back home and on my own, seeing me with my poor hair looking so absolutely terrible, and with a huge gash on the back of my head, which she tenderly cared for with comfrey and gauze.

Thank you so much, Sheryl, for all you do for me. Just knowing you're there means all the world!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

How To Make Simple Peanut Butter Fudge

At my house we are a bit food-challenged. I am allergic to sugar, dairy products and chocolate. Some have wondered what's left?! There actually is a lot left, but for a long time I thought I'd never eat fudge again. Had I had to deal with these allergies several decades ago I'd have simply been out of luck ~ I've seen those "health food" cookbooks from the 70's and they sure leave something to be desired! Some call for wierd ingredients and many don't have much flavor. But nowadays there are healthy alternatives that are easy to find and taste good, too! So, how do you make fudge without chocolate, you may ask? Well, there is a substitute I use called Carob. I know it's not truly the same, but it works for me. And this recipe can be made with chocolate chips instead of the carob chips that I use here. Carob chips come in 10 oz. bags and chocolate chips come in 12 oz, so I measured them at 2C.

Place chips in the microwave for about 30 seconds with 2/3 - 3/4 C. Peanut Butter (we like the crunchy kind). I prefer Adam's because it has no sugar or hardened fats, and add 2 tablespoons of milk. Adam's is very soft so with regular peanut butter you may need to increase milk. Stir the chips, peanut butter and milk, place back in the microwave for 15-20 seconds and stir again. If needed microwave another 10-15 seconds. Be careful though, carob is very heat sensitive and becomes chewy like a tootsie roll quickly if it get too hot. If there are bits of carob chips left, just stir the warm mixture until they finish melting. Add 2-3 packets of Truvia to taste and 1/8 t. of Vanilla. I use Butter Vanilla. Spread onto oiled plate. Allow to cool to room temperature. Carob Chips can be purchased at Health Food Stores and Whole Foods. Adam's Peanut Butter, Truvia (a no calorie natural and healthy sweetener), and Soymilk are available in many grocery stores. And, Butter Vanilla comes from from the specialty cake and candy maker's supply store, but regular Vanilla is OK, too! So there you have it; Fudge made without Chocolate, and taste's like a peanut butter cup! Well, at least to me it does!! Here're those 5 simple ingredients without all the chatter:
2C. Carob or Chocolate Chips
2/3 - 3/4 C. Peanut Butter
2T. Milk or Soymilk
2-3 Packets Truvia
1/8 t. Vanilla

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Why That Song? #10

I wish to conclude with those songs that represent the very best in us.

Whitney Houston sings "The Greatest Love Of All", which is about learning that it's not only ok, but necessary for us to learn to love our own selves. Without a healthy and honest love and respect for who and what we are, we are not truly able to love others.
Loving and supporting others is what the song "That's What Friends Are For" is all about. When our family was going through a particularly difficult time, I was able to be part of Sweet Adelines. It was like belonging to another Relief Society. They always ended rehearsals with the song "That's What Friends Are For", and they lived up to it.
Last of all is "The Impossible Dream", where Peter O'Toole, who plays the irrepressible Don Quixote de la Mancha, sings about the nobility of man living up to his best, serving with honor and dignity and upholding all that is right and good, even in the face of overwhelming odds. I love his conquering spirit and absolute belief in purity and righteousness. But what is most important, he never gave up on the girl, and because of him she became able to believe in her own self worth.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Dino Dig

Friday we spent several fun hours as friends and family at the Fresno Zoo. Most importantly, we made a special trip to the Dino Dig, as was promised to Paige, since we missed it last time!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Why That Song? #9

Tom and Nancy held a dance at their parents house for New Years once in the 80's. This was the era of DISCO! The Bee Gees and Michael Jackson represent that fun time.
Some songs are there just to make us smile, like "The Dummy Song" and "I Hope You Dance", or to help us "Make Someone Happy".
Michael Jackson, Barry Manilow, Julie Andrews and some of the others on my list I consider to be simply brilliant musicians!
I identify with Julie Andrews since the car accident. She inspires me because she's a survivor. And after throat surgery in 1997 that left her unable to speak, let alone sing, she has returned glorious!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Why That Song #8

More about the playlist: "God Bless The USA" and "I Left My Heart In San Francisco" are where I'm from. They are part of me. They are who I am.
Then songs from some of my favorite movies include "Couple of Swells" - Judy Garland and Fred Astaire, "One Fine Day", and "Dreams" by the Cranberries.
Sam sang "Music Of The Night", from Phantom Of The Opera, and Suzanne sang "On My Own" , from Les Miserables, for the Best of Broadway presentation done by the Turlock 2nd Ward when they were in high school, and they were both great!

Monday, March 14, 2011

How To Paint A Pantry, Or, Now That I Bought It, What Do I Do With It?

Well, this is my very first contribution to "How-To Tuesday" and I'm excited to share the story of our yard sale miracle! I had been combing the internet and conjuring up ideas for how I was going to fix the problem of not enough storage space in my kitchen, so I was in the market for a cabinet.
My daughter Suzanne and I went to the fundraiser yard sale of some friends of ours where we noticed the dad and older brothers with a pickup. We bought a couple of items, then continued with our yard-saling. Suzanne found herself a $50 freezer in great condition, which was something she'd been needing, but she didn't have a way to get it home. We went back to our friends where she hired the dad and brothers and when the truck was moved, there it was! My pantry.
They were hesitant when I asked what they wanted for it, but they told me $20. I had priced them new at $80 before tax, so I jumped at the price! I also had them deliver the cabinet and I spent the rest of the day fixing it up. I was so excited about it that I forgot to take pictures of what it looked like when I first got it home. It's solid wood and looked like it had been bought and used as unfinished. There was some pencil scribbling and black Sharpee markings on it and some crayon. The crayon came of with a scouring pad. I wiped off the dust with a damp cloth, took out the drawers, and painted.(My Dad is a retired professional house painter, and he emphasized the importance of making sure the surface was clean and he told me that the paint wouldn't cover crayon.) Since there was no old paint or varnish or serious dings I didn't need to sand anything either! If you have a surface that is very smooth, the paint won't stick so sanding is a must..
I started with the fronts of the drawers. I made sure no paint got on the metal runners or wheels and I didn't paint the insides. I then painted the cabinet from top to bottom, again, not painting the inside except the shelf that has no door, and the cabinet doors. I used black, water-based paint for easy cleanup and a small 2" paint brush, but I actually used a child's water coloring brush for the close spots around the hinges.
I took out one of the shelves and went to Home Depot with it, where they cut me two more shelves. I didn't know that the little brackets that hold up those shelves came in towo sizes, but I bought a package of each size knowing I could return the unused package later.
Brush strokes are important to pay attention to. With a solid color piece, the strokes look best going in the same direction as the grain of the wood except in small spots. The doorless shelf I painted and the edges of the doors I also coated with a layer of mod podge to help protect them from getting scratched.
All together with the paint, the shelves and the brackets the final cost of my new pantry came to about $35! Not too shabby for a day's work. And now, for the follow up of the cleaning and reorganizing of my other cupboards!
I hope this is helpful to you. Feel free to ask in the comment section if you have any questions.

Sunday, March 13, 2011


Remember Sandy Duncan and Danny Kaye? They starred together as the father/woodcarver Geppetto and his little boy puppet-child in the stage play-type production of Pinocchio that was featured on the Disney Channel years ago.
I found it on DVD on e-bay and had to have it! Sandy is adorable and Danny Kaye is the sweetest Papa ever. I was so glad to get it that when I retrieved it from the mailbox tonight I didn't waste a minute watching it and I was not at all disappointed. It was just as fun and heartwarming as I remember!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Why That Song #7

These are some of the songs that belong to David and me. Not all of them were available. Songs that are numbered 1-11, 13 and 67 are part of a collection that David took some lines from to put together a sweet and poetic verse for me before we were married.
(12) Turn Around, Look At Me was playing on the loud speaker as David and his mother boarded the bus to go to Utah to finish his missionary shopping, for his mother to attend a Relief Society Conference, and then for him to enter the "LTM" or, the Language Training Mission, to learn Spanish before flying to Argentina. I cried.
I used to write teenage poetry to David while he was on his mission. Then I heard the song It's Impossible (14). The lyrics were beautiful and they made me think of him so I wrote the lyrics down and sent them to him. I didn't realize that being on a mission and in another country he hadn't heard the song and later he told me that his thought at the time he read those lyrics was "My, her poetry certainly has improved."
Then, after we were married there was a situation that I don't even recall now, but I remember being mad at him about something. As I was pondering about it, the song "I Do It For You" came on. The spirit made me realize that that song represented his feelings and the motive behind his actions. I always think of him now whenever I hear that song.
And "Through The Years" (16) needs no explanation. :)

Friday, March 11, 2011

Why That Song? #6

That headline may be true, but first you've got to be willing to make the investment to be really good. This is our high school band and I'm the one just to the left of Lynn Rash, who is front and center.
Concerts were an important part of my life as a teenager because I played the flute and we did concerts as well as playing for games, half-time shows and parades. I did actually go to a rock concert once as a kid to hear a group called "The Association". They were such a favorite with me!
But back to those old band days. We had a student director named Greg Adams. In the photo below he's the one at the far left of the back row, with long hair and shades. He was amazing on the trumpet. He lived across the street from my best friend, Wanda Martin, and we could hear him practicing his trumpet sometimes when we walked down her street. Sometimes we would sit on the curb and listen. He really was what one might call a prodigy and we all just knew he'd make good in music.

So, what became of Greg Adams? Well, he did become very successful. He spent 20 years playing with a jazz/blues/soul/funk band called "Tower Of Power" out of Oakland. That picture above is an early Tower of Power photo. In addition to playing music he was and is a brilliant song writer and arranger. Tower of Power has done the music for many tv commercials and has also been back up for Chicago (Hard To Say I'm Sorry), Elton John, Rod Stewart, Santana and a host of others while also producing their own albums. Greg has made a name for himself, too, as he went out on his own a while back and is still quite a hit!
About 15 years ago, Tower Of Power performed at our county fair in Turlock and after the show I went back stage and knocked on his trailer door. One of the other band members asked me if he could help me and I told him that I just wanted to say hello to Greg because I had known him in high school. Greg came out and when he saw me he said, " Yes, flute. You're Donna." I couldn't beleive he'd remember me at all! I was just one of the younger kids in the band. But he treated me like an old friend.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Santa Fe Trail

No, not THE Santa Fe Trail. Tulare has it's own. Fortunately this one's designed for fitness ~ walking and jogging and it also has a bike lane and horse trail alongside. It goes all the way across the city.
Suzanne and I are trying to get ourselves out for exercise and fresh air every morning. First we set out on the trail with strollers and snacks for the kids and water for everyone. We walk for an hour, then we reward ourselves with a few minutes at the park before we go home. We're getting a bit of a slow start, but we'll get there!

Why That Song? #5 ~ or The British Invasion

On Sunday, Feb 9th, 1964, we were some of those millions of Americans who "tuned in" to the Ed Sullivan Show to see The Beatles! I'm sure that not all of the viewers were as thrilled as the 11 year old girls were, but there I was. This was an historic landmark event that was part of promoting a new style of music that came from across the ocean to forever change the sounds of rock and roll.
There were other bands that were part of "The Invasion" but the Beatles and Herman's Hermits were THE ONES!
When I'm 64 was the other song I couldn't get for the playlist so again, I found it on youtube.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Our New Livingroom

We took out the desk, the old entertainment center, and the wreath from above the fireplace. And with a few other minor additions, I like the update.

Why That Song? #4

When my Dad married Norma in 1962 an unexpected thing happened to me. I was intruduced into some pretty classy adult contemporary music, and it was wonderful! I loved it when she listened to KSFO, and I learned to love those great songs. I remember George and Phillip coming to visit and we would watch Norma and George dance to some great songs. It was lots of fun and the memory has lasted. Now much of that kind of music is considered romantic "dinner music". Artists like Louis Armstrong and Nat King Cole were some of the best! Today, they are followed by crooners like Michael Buble who is right up there. And although I don't have Andy Williams or Bing Crosby yet, they may be coming soon.

~ Just as a side note, they said Louis Armstrong would never amount to much on the trumpet because he didn't hold his instrument correctly!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Soothing Midnight Rain

I accidently went to sleep last night while waiting for the computer, HaHa! But it was only 10 and that's too early for me. I ended up waking up 3 hours later and could't go back to sleep, so I just enjoyed the music of the rain tap, tap, tapping out it's quiet rhythm on the window until I fell asleep again.
It was nice to have the wind blow the rain onto the window. Usually I don't get to hear the rain, but rain frequently hit the winter window of our room at my Grandma's.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Dad Would Be Proud

I've been wanting to paint our front door just to freshen it up, so I went and bought paint at Lowe's. They were very helpful in asking me what kind of door, wood or metal, and explaining to me my options. I bought Rustoleum paint because of the fog we have here and the metal door. Although I've never noticed rust, I think prevention is a good thing. So I bought the "expensive" paint, $8 instead of $4 for a quart.
When we visited my Dad in January I took a look at his freshly painted front door and I told him I was going to be doing the same thing so he gave me some good tips. He said to paint the indented parts of the door first and the raised sections second. He also told me that it's best to go from top to bottom so as to catch drips.
Now that the door is done and dry, I'm feeling pretty good about the way it turned out. I wasn't too sure at first, but it looks better dry than it did wet. I think Dad would approve. :)

Friday, March 4, 2011

Why That Song? #3

These songs remind me of people I love:
~ Beautiful Dreamer was Grandma Shipp's favorite
~ The Very Thought Of You also makes me think of her, it's not one of her favorites but it brings on the nostalgia and I love Billie Holiday

~ Barbra Streisand was my Dad's favorite, and since I couldn't find the song I liked best of hers to add to the playlist, I did find one I liked. My favorite is featured on youtube, though!
~ Softly As I Leave You was sung by Sam at Pop's funeral. Only Michael Buble recorded it right, though. Don't singers know that when they sing a tender song, it should be sung tenderly? Wish I had a way to put Sam's rendition on here. It was perfect.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Why That Song? #2

Let's start at the beginning of this partial musical soundtrack of my life. My mother was named after Shirley Temple. When I was little I was given numerous "permanent waves" to my hair because Shirley Temple's curls were so cute. Naturally, I watched and loved her movies. Animal Crackers In My Soup is just a sample from her collection, as are many of the songs chosen for this playlist.

Another favorite was Judy Garland. I love her Over The Rainbow because she still had that "little girl" in her voice. It used to be that every New Year's Eve one of the tv channels had a movie special and for a long time it was the tradition to watch The Wizard Of Oz every year. The Sound Of Music finally replaced the Wizard of Oz, which we all had mixed feelings over because back then we couldn't pick and choose what we would watch on tv except for the 3 channels of choice, NBC, ABC and CBS.