16 July 2014

The Bucket List Continues and Reflections

The California Bucket List…Posting #2

Hi Friends, since the last posting we have checked more off our Bucket List before leaving California. 

The Bucket List Continues…

4. Visiting Brian and Gill 
We happily drove to Napa on a recent sunny Saturday to visit and have lunch with dear friends Brian and Gill. I have known them since 1974. I was first introduced to Brian when I was 6 years old, he was my soccer coach. I remember him being intimidating and a commanding figure with a thundering British voice. This big voice was perfect on the soccer field, coaching us, and for many years coaching and shouting for my older brother's team, which his own son was on as well. This magnificent voice was also put to great use, booming out above all, as he sang out to God at church each Sunday, sitting right behind or beside us. He and his wife are very loving people, and like parental figures in my life. Gillian was always a softer English mom type, homey, sweet and tender to me. Through the years, they became close friends with my parents, and stayed close to my Mom and Mike, traveling abroad with them on several occasions. They are knit in Bob and my heart for many reasons, but today I will be sharing just a few, which we all discussed over lunch.

Brian reminded me that when I was 6, my interest in sports was established. When I was not playing on the field, I had ZERO interest as to what was happening on the field with the team. I had more important things to focus on, as I played Barbies, with my back to the field.
I still feel the same about sports. 

They have made a point to visit us in several states which we lived, because they love us. They actually drove 4 hours from VA to NC, took us to lunch and drove back, because "We were just too close not to come and see you." WOW- what an example to us. 
We love them, and seeing them was definitely on our list, 
and time well spent. 

5. Riding in OLD CAT

Here she is, the closest thing I have to a sister, and her name is 
(notice the license plate). 
She can be defined as a Jaguar 1954 XK120.

I have been enjoying the adventure and pleasure she lavishly affords, since I was 3 mos old. 
Back then, no car seats. Yes, my Dear Ole Dad would drive, Mom in the passenger seat and my brother Jim (3 yrs older) seated in the middle of them, and me on Mom's lap. We would tear around the highways and backroads of California, as she purred up the hills, racing with glory around curves. Our hair blowing in the wind, the sun on our faces, as my Dad skillfully and joyfully chauffeured us in style. 

Today, there are few places I feel the happiest, freest and safest. 
In OLD CAT, with my Dad at the wheel, is one of them. 
He still drives her, at 83, with great skill and delight. 
She has been his most expensive daughter, but thankfully, 
not the most loved. 

So, a recent visit with Dad and Karen, and she being in ready and willing condition for a drive, it was much looked forward to, by me. 
The anticipation begins with unzipping her leather cover, tucking properly behind the back rests, and as I get into her, breathing, so familiar, so cherished in my heart, I take a deep breath, and the smell of her...sends me. The old leather, the memories I have throughout all my years being in her. There is nothing like that smell. It's intoxicating to me. 

I can't put into words the thrill I get, emotional, spiritual, physical, as I get in her, as my Dad prepares himself to drive. I have to contain my emotion, and mask it in words and tone of common happiness, so I don't overwhelm my Dad with my thoughts, it would be too much for him. The turn of the key, the push of the button (ignition) and she's purring. Purring as a cat sounds when she's blissful. She has her master of 45 yrs at the wheel, her beloveds in her carriage, and she's ready to give them a thrill, all she's got. The sound of her engine revving, the echo of her muffler reverbing off the hills as we pass though canyons, the stares, honks, smiles and thumbs up she receives, the wind whipping my hair, the sun on my face, and my Dear Ole Dad at the wheel. 
Life could be less perfect at that moment, I could love my dear precious Dad no more than I do when I am in her, with him driving. 
Next to the cockpit in an A-4, it's where he belongs.

He has me switch half way now, and I drive her, which is fun, and exciting, but the thrill of my heart is when my Dear Ole Dad is at the wheel, I'm a kid again, with no cares, and OLD CAT is racing us about, once again.

6. Thrifty's Ice Cream

If you are not from California, you have no idea about this. But Thrifty's (now Rite Aid) used to make excellent ice cream. They always had a counter in the store, and it was a nickel for a scoop. They were scooped with a cylindrical scooper and my husband and his brother Bruce were frequent customers as kids growing up in Southern California. My darling remembers looking for loose change in the rocks on the beach - enough that he and big brother Bruce would have enough for triples. 
Well, times have changes and Thrifty's is now Rite Aid but they still sell Thrifty's Ice Cream at some locations by the scoop. That little SOCAL boy still likes his ice cream and that was a Bucket List stop. So, as usual, he got a triple (2 mint chip and 1 rocky road), but it was $3.35 now for a triple instead of 15 cents. 

7. IT's IT 

It is interesting to note that the last two Bucket List's are both involving Bob and Ice Cream. 

So…this ice cream Bucket List goes back a loooong way. 
Every time we visited my Dad and Karen (for the last 24 years), who lives very close to SFO, in-between SFO and their house is the It's It factory. What is an IT's IT you may be asking. Well, just click on that link, but in a nutshell, its two oatmeal cookies with ice cream in the middle dipped in chocolate. It is a San Francisco legend and only sold here, and in SO CAL. Yeah, so every time we fly in and drive by it, Bob says "I'm going to get an IT's IT this time!"  Well, that never happens because we forget about it when we arrive at Dad's and all the chatting begins about gardening and margaritas. 
So, we added an impromptu to the Bucket List and he pursued and finally got his IT's IT. 
With our house going on the market, we had an open house, and we were kicked out for 3 hours with the dogs. "A perfect time to find an IT's IT",  Bob suggested. So, after a few stops, he got a 3 pack and ate 2 in 10 minutes. 

 I will interject at this point, that I have been eating something I call a "V-IT's IT" which the V stands for (VEGAN).  It is a treat that we have been eating for years, and he confessed he likes as much or better…yes…and here it is. 

Doesn't it LOOK like an IT's IT? 

Made by Rice Dream it is a Rice Dream Pie. 
It comes in Vanilla, Mocha (my fav) or Mint.
It is just like an IT's IT, 2 oatmeal cookies, "ice cream" and dipped in "chocolate", EXCEPT that it is DAIRY FREE and LOW GLYCEMIC. A double delight! So, there you have it. Made with rice syrup as a sweetener in the non-dairy "ice cream" and in the "chocolate" coating. Available at all Whole Foods and Natural Food Stores near you! 

********* An ammendment- I originally posted the Rice Dream as Gluten Free, and my dear sweet SIC and friend Megan pointed out they contain wheat and are NOT GF. Thanks Megan! I appreciate the info and have made the correction. ************

More Bucket List to come….

01 July 2014

Planning the Great Escape and the Beginning of The Bucket List

Disclaimer: For those of you beloveds and unknowns who love California, I say "good for you." It's not for us.

Well friends, as you know, we have been in a dry and dreary land.  Since mid-October 2013 we have been sent here, on mission, and have been utterly distraught since leaving NC. We have labored hard and repented much, and can not find ourselves at home or at peace in this place. We find ourselves in the "dust bowl"- literally. We are in the dry and dusty area of Sacramento, which leaves us parched, physically, emotionally, psychologically, financially, and for one of us, spiritually.
I don't want to dwell on writing about how much we hate it, and why, but I will say that we have been praying for a release, since the moment we arrived- for real.
Since we don't have kids, and can thus, act like kids sometimes, Bob had suggested we make a 2 yr paper chain, so we may remove one each morning. This was made with the grasping hope, that after 2 years, we could possibly leave. We had no plans on a duration, but a desire of leaving in 2 years kept us afloat.
It was 67' long. But there was an end to it, and that was what we were focused on.

At some point in the last month, things came to a head, whether it was the crime, exasperation, agitation, or  just a desperate daily cry to the Lord, it was enough for Him, and one day there was … 
thank GOD… a release. 

At that point, the Great Escape was put into plan. The Great Escape had been in the works, planning in thought, time online etc.. since November 1, 2013, the day we moved into our home. Bob had been looking online at housing in NC since we moved into this house…planning the escape. And now it was time to act. We spoke of leaving every day and night, it was a continual conversation. Like an incarcerated prisoner, looking forward to his day of release. (Dramatic parallel? Perhaps, but this is how we felt and I am just being real.) So, after Bob let the dogs out at 10pm the other night, and 4 gunshots rang out in the night, he came in and said "I'm putting in my transfer tomorrow." Thus begins...

"The Bucket List"

We immediately had a meeting and one of the topics was a Bucket List for our remaining time. 
This is not in preference order - but in execution order.
1. Neighbors Over For A Swim
(we have the sweetest neighbors!)

2. Donner Lake
(after recently reading the tragic and horrific account of the Donner Party again as adults, we purposed to see the location of the events.)

Here is Bob trying to avoid eye contact with a bear

Beautiful Donner Lake

3. Bike Ride on the River

Yes, a wild turkey..

We look forward expectantly and with great joy of returning to NC, where our hearts reside on this earth, we look forward to being rejoined with 
My Little Darlings. 

As we set our goal on NC again, we ask for your prayers. This verse has been a prayer of mine since we arrived and I hope we will honor the Lord in fulfilling it. 

Psalm 126:6 
Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, 
will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them. 

24 April 2014

Saying less…and listening instead.

Set a guard , O LORD, 
over my mouth; keep watch over 
the door of my lips. 
Psalm 141:3 

When there is a lot you could say, it's best to say nothing. 

Proverbs 10:19 - In the multitude of words, sin is not lacking, he who restrains his lips is wise. 

Proverbs 21:23 -  Whoever guards his mouth and tongue, keeps his soul from troubles. 

Proverbs 29:11 - A fool vents all his feelings, but a wise man holds them back.

Oh how precious, are the lessons, 
which I learn at Jesus' side! 

05 February 2014

Rekindling A Love of Lake Tahoe, and An Unexpected Roasted Vegetable Tart

Rekindling A Love of Lake Tahoe 

Part One 
As a child, I was blessed with parents who went out of their way to take us to fun places…often.  So often infact, that as I look back at pictures and re-live memories, I find it shocking they pulled off taking us to as many places as they did. It seemed my whole childhood was a vacation to one place or another…how ever did we find time for school?  
Growing up in the Bay Area, a frequent destination was Lake Tahoe. We went in summer, and we went in winter. We just about always rented the same place, which, upon arrival, felt familiar, like a second home. Sometimes we had family friends join us. I always had fun, and I have great memories of being in Lake Tahoe.

My parents posing in Lake Tahoe 1980

Part Two  
Fast forward to being a young adult (21), I was on a Tahoe skiing kick. I was living on my own and every weekend, I would drive to Lake Tahoe and ski. My ex-boyfriend Bob (later becoming MY Bob!) who was living in Hawaii then, had been trying to get back with me for about a year and a half. I wasn't entertaining that thought so much. But he was persistent and I agreed to meet up with him in Squaw Valley and ski for a day. He would be visiting his former college roommate Eric, who was another of my former boyfriends…(this is how Bob and I met, I was dating Bob's roommate)...(ah…yeah…that's quite a story in itself). Anyway, he would be up in the Tahoe area, and would I meet him? OKAY... I agreed. Long story short, we all (Bob, Eric and I) skied together, Bob came back to the Bay Area with me, and we married a month later. (24 years ago)

Part Three
Fast forward to the present. We live in Sacramento, and yearn for clean air and living trees, a break from sirens and the urban-ness of the city. As we renewed relationships in the area, we were invited for a dear friend and sisters, 50th birthday party. We rented a cabin (with a hot tub - woohoo!) and packed up the K9 unit and off we went for Tahoe. 

A side note: As many of you know California is in a massive drought and it has not rained/snowed in a long time, as it should be consistently doing this time of year. My husband, knowing I looooooong for the snow and real winter, has been fervently praying for snow while we would be in Tahoe. Sweet man. Well, true to the Scriptures, the fervent prayer of a righteous man, availeth much. (James 5:16) As in much snow. Yeeeesssss!

So, we are enjoying Lake Tahoe, lots of fresh mountain air, lots of clean beautiful snow, friends, relaxing, a lack of sirens, a lack of noise in general. We love it here. It's quiet and clean. We quickly agreed this is the best 2 hour investment of our time, for a get away from the city. 

Bob and the K9 Unit relaxing in the cabin after a frolic in the snow. 

A great cabin! Yay for snow!

So nice to relax!

We will be back!

Unexpected Roasted Vegetable Tart

(Kathryn, the bee is for you)

When one has to make dinner, and there isn't a plan,
sometimes the best meals come of it. 

This was the meal that came out of - me standing in front of an open fridge looking in, taking mental inventory and having no idea what was going to be our dinner. I took my veggies out, sliced them thin, broiled them for a few minutes, and let them cool…still, having no idea what I was going to do with them. 
"What else do I have?" Nothing of the usual rotation of meals that I really was able to make without a trip to the store. I just thought, well, what about a veggie tart? I have wheat, and can make a crust…may be a bit dry…I have cashews and spinach I can make a sauce with! Viola! It just came together. And I did not realize how delicious this was going to be until too late in the prep. to go back and give step-by-step photos. So, we will have to make due with what we have. I hope the finished shot is enough to encourage you to make it, because it was so stinking good. Bob took one bite and gave the ultimate compliment, which is,
 "Oooooh yeeeeaaah. This one goes on the menu." 
(The Menu is a reference to the one-day vegan cafe we hope to open.) 

Vegetable Tart
  • Slice a variety of vegetables medium thin, about 4 Cups worth
    •  (I used broccoli, sweet potato, sweet onion, garlic, carrot, cauliflower)
  • Place them on a baking sheet, drizzle or spray with olive oil, salt and pepper. Broil about 5 minutes. Let cool, and season to taste.
  • Make a single pie dough recipe. 
    • The recipe I use is basically this but I use half unbleached and half whole wheat flour, omitting the sugar, and I add flax seeds at rolling time. You know I don't measure things, so I can't give you a recipe on this ~! Sorry! Of course you can use butter if you eat it. OR easily sub with a GF crust. (Whole Foods carries them)
  • Roll out the dough - single pie size, transfer it to your baking sheet lined with parchment or sprayed. Fill it with the veggies to about 2-3" from the edges. You can pile it high. I also seasoned mine generously with my have to have spice - Trader Joe's Everyday Seasoning. It is truly delicious and addictive. Buy some, and use it on everything. 
  • Fold over the edges of the crust. You can spray it with Olive Oil if you wish, up to you.  
So, going into the oven, mine looked like this. 
And at this point, I thought to myself, "This is really going to be good. I better document it."

  • I baked it at 420 for about 30 minutes. Then I let it set 5 minutes while I made this sauce. 
Vegan Spinach Cashew Cream Sauce (to drizzle at plating)

1/2 Cup raw cashews (soaked 3-5 hrs is better)
1/2 Cup Water
1 tsp. bail
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 T. Nutritional Yeast Flakes
1 tsp. arrowroot (or cornstarch)
1 big handful Organic Raw Spinach (about 2 cups)

Blend all together in the blender (Vitamix) well, about 45 seconds to 1 minute. Should be warm.
Add water and salt to consistency and taste preference.

Mmmmmm….it was super yummy…. 
We could not wait to eat it and didn't snap a photo of the sauce on it. 

01 January 2014

Festivities, Food, Family, Friends…and a Fracture

Well friends, it has been a few months since my last post.

A lot has happened during that time.

As you may know from previous postings, when there is a lot going on, in my mind, heart and life…it's too much for me and I withdraw. I have been overwhelmed, disheartened and speechless. Astonished at where I have left and where I have been taken to. California is very different from North Carolina.
But God… being rich in mercy because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Jesus Christ, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

God has given me encouragement, and sustained me. He has done this in His word, by His Spirit, in the Body of Christ (both far and near) in family and friends who love us, and who we love.


Recently we have enjoyed much feasting, festivities, family and friends.
What a great encouragement and distraction laughing and smiling is!

We have seen faces we have missed. Some for over a decade!

We have been so blessed with both friends and parents visiting. 
Coming to help us work on our house, and to make us feel loved.
 We have seen smiling faces and enjoying people we missed, 
who we did not think we would see for a long, long time. 

An example of this is below. These are two friends (sisters) who grew up across the street from me. Their house was my second home growing up, and we have all been friends since we were 5. Bob and I were just invited to join in on their family vacation for a few days and we jumped at the chance... because we COULD! 
One nice thing about being here, is we are close to many in our hearts, 
who have been many miles away in years past.

This is my second precious Mom (below) Kathy, and her daughter Cori. Sister Kim is above. 
We have all grown up! (that's nicer than saying we got old) 
Their kids are growing, some in college!
It's great to have friends who when you see, it's like no time has passed, and you pick up like you were together yesterday. I love them!

Another wonderful event was the reinstating of a grand tradition for my Mom and I.
Since 1975, my Mom has taken me to the San Francisco Opera House for the ballet of The Nutcracker. 

We have gone every year from 1975 to 2005. 
Due to distance and obligations of the farm, it was sadly put on hold.

Until this year! Woo-hoo!
Thanks Mom for a super day! 

We had a great time!

Another set of dear friends who we love, and have missed since 2004, are Jalyn and Greg. 
We sure love them and were thrilled they made the drive out to spend the day and evening with us, bringing along their two kiddos 
who we had never met!
We were all looking so forward to spending the whole day together. 

God had other set of plans. 

We arrived at the park and the kids began to play. Only 5 minutes later, precious 7 year old Jordan wiped out and broke her wrist!
She was a trooper though and after a few minutes we all decided the day for us to be together, was over.
We were so sad for Jordan, and for her parents who had to watch their sweet girl suffer.

In the midst of the bummers, Bob and I were super blessed. In the few minutes we had together to see Greg and Jalyn in action in a mini-crisis, we saw what a great team they are as parents. They were so loving and tender to Jordan and spoke over her lovingly of their confidence in the Lord being in control of the situation.
Their words and peaceful tone were impressive to us. 
As Greg was trying to get local hospital information, I sneakily snapped a few pix. 

I love how her non-dramatic motherly instinct is captured here. 
Protective, comforting,  compassionate, tender. 
What a great mom!

As they drove away, she said, "I'll be back for a visit…
without the kids next time. Less chance of drama." 

Lastly, in all these situations, and how the Lord has used each visit and visitor to encourage and strengthen us for our purpose here, my constant best friend and adorable husband 
is the one who makes me laugh, everyday. 
Although we are slowly gaining speed, trying to get back to our happiness in our current surroundings, I thank God we are pulling this yoke together. 
So, here he is on Christmas Day, making me laugh with a new gift. 
It may not make you laugh, but it does me, and so God continues to be the lifter of my head.