Sunday Glory

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The Vine

“I am the vine;

you are the branches.

If a man remains

in me and I in him,

he will bear much fruit;

apart from me

you can do nothing.”

~ John 15:5 ~

Gail 

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Birthdays in July… and That Means Cake!

My husband and I joke when July gets here that cake season has begun.  There’s often    cake for the Fourth of July celebration.  Hubby’s birthday is exactly a week later which is today, July 11th.  My birthday comes six days later on July 17th.  My mother-in-law has her birthday four days after mine, on July 21st, and this year we have a new daughter-in-law who celebrates her birthday on July 31st.  Yep, that’s a lot of family birthdays for the month of July.

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And then on August 2nd, hubby and I will celebrate our 33rd anniversary and yes, there will be cake for that too!  I’m usually caked out by that time.

Hubby’s having to work tonight on his birthday but such is the life of a nurse.  So he decided we’d have his cake and ice cream tomorrow, when he’s off.

Before he left for work, I made him his favorite– a Company Beef Casserole– and cooked a pot of green beans to go with it. I got the Company Beef Casserole recipe many, many years ago from NES– Nashville Electric Service.  Don’t ask me what an electric service is doing handing out recipe cards but they used to do that.  The Company Beef Casserole is not much to look at but the hubby sure loves it.  He woke up to get ready for work and said he could smell the peppers and onions cooking from all the way in the bedroom and he said he knew right away what I was making. I’m including the recipe for those interested.

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Company Beef Casserole

1 lb. ground chuck                                         8 oz. wide noodles

2 tbsp. butter or margarine                        1 cup cottage cheese

1 onion, chopped                                             8 oz. cream cheese

1 pepper, chopped                                           1/2 cup sour cream

2  8 oz. cans tomato sauce                              1 tsp. salt

Brown onion and pepper in butter.  Add meat and brown.  Add tomato sauce.  Cook noodles and drain.  In another bowl combine cheeses and sour cream.  Put half of noodles in a buttered, flat 2 quart casserole dish.  Spread cheese mixture over this.  Top with remaining noodles and cover this with meat mixture.  Bake at 350° for 30 minutes.  Yield: 6 servings

Happy Birthday and much love to my husband.  Here’s wishing him many more.

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Gail 

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Sunday Glory

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Humility is the fairest and rarest flower that blooms.

Charles Swindoll

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Do You Have a Sense of Wonder?

I’m currently reading The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning.  I love when books take me to a place of deep reflection and this one’s doing just that.

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In Chapter 5, Manning speaks of a remarkable rabbi, Abraham Joshua Heschel, who suffered a near-fatal heart attack.  He told his closest friend who was at his bedside, that he had felt only gratitude for his life, for every moment he had lived, and that he was ready to go.  He said, “Never once in my life did I ask God for success or wisdom or power or fame.  I asked for wonder, and He gave it to me.”  Manning goes on to say that “A Philistine will stand before a Claude Monet painting and pick his nose; a person filled with wonder will stand there fighting back the tears.” He says that by and large, our world has lost its sense of wonder.  It does seem that the older we get, that our sense of wonder and curiosity about the world seems to diminish.

While reading The Ragamuffin Gospel, I was reminded of a time when I was a newlywed on my honeymoon and standing at the railings at the brink of Niagara Falls.  My new husband and I had arrived in Buffalo New York, checked into the Hilton Inn where we had reservations, threw down our suitcases on the bed, and ran to the window to see what kind of view we had.  Excited that we could see the mist from the falls from our hotel window, we hurried down the hotel elevator and made our way outside, walking in the direction of the mist to go find this natural wonder we had so anxiously waited to see.  We arrived at the falls just a few minutes later. We stood there arm in arm under blue skies, a misty breeze, and warm golden sunshine, marveling at the rush of the water and the deafening roar of the falls. I was fascinated and enthralled.  I told my husband I could have stood there watching those falls all day.  Hubby, on the other hand, within a few minutes didn’t seem all that interested in the falls and was doing more people watching than water watching.  He said Niagara was a sight to behold for sure, but after a few minutes he had seen it and was ready to go.  He said after all, it was just water falling over a vertical drop.  I had dated this man for eight years before marrying him, but I learned that day just how different we were.

 

I remember as a young girl, laying barefoot in the grass with friends in the summer time, looking up at blue skies trying to find different shapes in the white cumulus clouds.  Do kids even do that anymore?  I remember taking long moonlit walks in the snow and marveling at the sparkling snow crystals glinting in the moonlight.  Is there anything more beautiful?  I remember a trip out west our family took many years ago. We were leaving Yellowstone National Park and heading back to our cottage at Jackson Lake Lodge when we drove into a rain shower and saw a giant rainbow.  I had never before seen such a brilliant rainbow from end to end and it was glorious.  Where I live in the city, it’s just not possible to see the ends of rainbows.  On that same trip, I remember the breath-taking view of the Grand Tetons from the 60 foot windows in Jackson Lake Lodge which faced the Tetons.  It overwhelmed my sense of wonder.  Have you ever watched an ocean sunrise or sunset?  I have, but I’d sure like to see more before I leave this earth.  And I’d like a few more moonlit walks in the snow too.   pexels-photo-479333

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sunrise-165094_960_720I’ve experienced a few springs when I’ve seen blooming Bradford Pear or cherry trees so beautiful that for the life of me, I just couldn’t understand how some people could witness them and not know that there is a God who created them.  I remember one spring driving my mother home from a chemotherapy appointment in the last months of her life.  Everything was beginning to bloom and my mother remarked to me with a quivering voice and tear-filled eyes as she looked out the car window, that she was sure glad that God had allowed her to live to see one more spring and all its beauty.  It was as if she was seeing spring for the first time with new eyes.  Every spring since then, I think of that day in the car with my dying mother, and I pay a little more attention to that beauty she spoke about.  And I’m filled with wonder because life gets chaotic and sometimes I forget to notice.

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I never want to forget to notice God’s beauty.

Last fall, when flying home from New Orleans on a sunny afternoon, I stared out the window of the airplane at the cloud formations and the scenes below.  I don’t travel much and rarely if ever fly, but seeing those clouds and all that beauty made me sad that I didn’t.  I sure enjoyed the window-seat view that day.  I felt such gratitude to God that day and I think I must have said “WOW” to myself a hundred times or more on that one hour trip back home.

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pexels-photo-117381Have you ever just held a rose and really looked at it? Looked at all its folds, its brilliant color?  Have you ever stopped to inhale its sweet fragrance?  Felt the smoothness of its petals on your cheek?  I remember being about 15 years old and finding myself in the middle of a country meadow full of wild daisies (my favorite flower).  I remember standing in place and turning 360° and seeing daisies as far as the eyes could see.  And I remember thinking, this surely must be what heaven is like.

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photo-1524378060389-9be133ce7c08I do think that people are losing their sense of wonder. And that advanced technology is contributing to that loss.  Look around in a restaurant, or an airport, or anywhere for that matter, and notice how people are so intent at staring into their phones than into each other’s eyes.  Children today don’t engage in much free and imaginative play and the electronic devices that they are glued to take away their ability to use their  imagination and creativity.  It makes me sad.

We must never lose our longing to be moved, to be awed, to be fascinated by nature and our world.  Put away your phone and experience life, nature, and the world God gave us to live in.

Life is full of wonder, but we must awaken and be able to consciously recognize and acknowledge that wonder.

Gail 

Posted in Beauty, God, Life | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Chocolate Spice Cake

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This delicious cake is always a hit with the family, at pot lucks, or when company is coming.  It’s moist and rich and easy to make.  Don’t let the title fool you…  The only spice is 1 teaspoon of cinnamon in the mix. 

Dry ingredients: Mix and set aside:

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Combine in a saucepan, bring to a boil, then remove from heat:

1 stick butter or margarine

3 heaping teaspoons of cocoa

1/2 cup oil

1 cup water

Stir in the dry ingredients and mix well.  Then add:

1/2 cup buttermilk

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 beaten eggs

Pour into a greased and floured 9 x 13 pan.  Bake in 350° oven for 30 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool about 10 minutes.  Frost while still hot.

Frosting

Melt 2 sticks butter, then add 3 tablespoons cocoa, 1/3 cup milk.  Bring to a boil, remove from heat and add: 1 box Confectioners sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1 cupped chopped pecans (optional).  Pour onto warm cake.  Icing will harden as it sits.

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Enjoy!

Gail 

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Things I’m Loving These Days

Picnic Season

It’s picnic season and I love these picnic plates.  They’re durable melamine.

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I have my mother’s old picnic basket  from the 1940s that I can remember our family using when I was a child.  It still has the colorful Jerywil plastic picnic plates and cups inside it.  The hubby and I used it on romantic picnics when we were dating.  This picnic basket has served its purpose well!!

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Wov-n-wood picnic basket by Jerywil

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Jerywil plates and cups from 1940s

Taco Tray

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I don’t make tacos much, but the other night, I retrieved this taco tray from the top shelf of my pantry and I made tacos.  I can’t remember where I bought this tray but I like it.  It seems like I ordered it out of Miles Kimball or Harriet Carter or maybe a Lillian Vernon catalog.

Cranberry Juice 

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After the kidney stone episode this past winter, I’ll do just about anything to NOT go through that horror again.  A urologist told me that there really is something to drinking cranberry juice and it’s good for the kidneys. He said it does help to prevent urinary tract infections and it also helps clear the kidneys of excessive Calcium Oxalates which is one of the main contributors to kidney stones.  That’s all I needed to hear.  I drink it almost every day now.  It’s grown on me.

Backyard Summer Blooms

Our Hydrangeas are a little puny this year and slow to bloom.  Right now, they’re gasping and shriveled up from the heat (it’s 94 degrees with a 100 degree heat index).  They have to have a good rain every few days to perk  up.  I love the Rose of Sharon (at least that’s what I think it is).  Hubby doesn’t care for it and has talked about cutting it down (don’t ask me why).  Part of our Clematis (that was creeping up our flag pole) died out last year.  So it’s considerably smaller this year and I noticed today that the Japanese beetles are feasting all over it so I’m guessing that’s what probably killed part of it.

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I’m pretty sure this is a Rose of Sharon

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Clematis

Ed Sheeran- Divide CD

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I love, love, love this CD!  SO many great songs!  I think I’ve played Perfect a trillion times and Supermarket Flowers too. I’m afraid poor hubby is tiring of dear sweet Ed!

Gail 

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French Toast for Breakfast

I love French Toast. 

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My mother was a firm believer that breakfast was the most important meal of the day and she believed in having a big breakfast.  When my sisters and I were growing up in the 60s and 70s, she always cooked breakfast for us and our dad in the morning.  One day it might be French toast, the next Oatmeal, the next Scrambled eggs,  the next Cream of Wheat, the next country ham and biscuits and gravy, the next sunny-side-up eggs (she called them dip toast eggs), the next waffles or pancakes, the next grapefruit (I wasn’t a big fan but I ate it), and the next soft-boiled eggs.  When she had eggs, there was always bacon, sausage or ham to go with them and toast or biscuits.  If she had leftover mashed potatoes from the previous night’s dinner, she’d make potato cakes (hers were SO good and I’ve never been able to make them where they taste as good as hers) or sometimes she or my dad would make hash brown potatoes.  Some days we’d have a bowl of cereal and toast and jelly or cinnamon toast, and very rarely, there might be something like cinnamon rolls, pop tarts, or heated Krispy Kreme doughnuts, but she just about always cooked.

On cold days, she would make my sisters and me a cup of hot cocoa (she and my father drank coffee but my sisters and I were not allowed) and I remember having chocolate Ovaltine a few times.  She just about always made us drink milk with breakfast and there was always some sort of juice.

I think the French toast she made was just about always my favorite.  This morning I made whole wheat French toast and topped it off with some fresh berries.  Yummmm!

 

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Are you a big breakfast eater?  Do you like French toast?  How do you like to eat it? 

Gail 

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