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Sleeping in the Breezes!

14 Jul


Last night Noel and I slept in the breezes. Our son chickened out and slept downstairs, till we could get the air conditioning fixed this morning, but Noel and I just opened our almost ceiling-to-floor windows and slept in the breezes. Things were pretty still till about 4 AM, but nevertheless we stayed comfortable in our room, despite the temperature in the hallway outside our door creeping up to 84 degrees F.

With the advent of air conditioning, we so seldom sleep in the breezes anymore. When we lived in Germany in the late 1990’s, our non-air conditioned apartment was above a bakery and a butcher shop (both sources of intense heat) so we left our windows open on three sides of the building all summer long! They were not screened either (no mosquitoes in Germany).

We even once went camping near Pisa, Italy in a pup tent (at U.S. Army Camp Darby), with some incredibly refreshing breezes every night except one when it was so still we pulled our sleeping bags out under the trees. Stifling!

Fun memories of fun times.

In more recent days, our son and I spent some vacation time over the summer with my parents at their lake cottage (since sold). We slept on a futon in their screened porch (this was when my son was still a little guy) and very much enjoyed sleeping in the breezes (is there any better way to do that than in a screened porch???).

Then, three years ago, my brother and sister-in-law built a screened porch on to their house and our son got to christen it by being the first person to sleep there overnight. What an enviable position he was in. He especially liked being able to awaken every morning as the sun was rising and see the horses across the street hanging over their fence, ready for breakfast. Lovely!

We did *not* get to sleep in the breezes in June when we stayed in St. Ignace, with our hotel balcony overlooking Lake Huron, as the Michigan Upper Peninsula mosquitoes were big as birds and twice as tenacious that month! How I longed to leave our sliding screen door open to the breezes, but it was not to be.

We all love breezes and probably most of us love sleeping in them. But it is such a rare occurrence in modern times . . .


“I Only Make Them Once a Year . . .”

17 Dec

At Weight Watchers this week, we were talking about those things we eat at Christmas because someone says, “I only make them once a year and I made them especially for you.”

It is hard enough to hear, “I only make them once a year.”  It is hard enough to hear, “I made them especially for you.”  

But combine those two and it is hard to refuse the treat (usually baked goods), no matter how hard you may have worked to budget Weight Watcher points for your day/week/month. 

I thought right after that, while looking at a poster of plump blueberries and ripe strawberries on the wall of the Weight Watchers meeting, how we always want to make intricate desserts for those we love. God makes these lovely berries, as the most intricate of desserts for us.  Since He makes them, we can’t improve on them as a dessert.  We can just serve them.  Even sprinkling sugar on them really does nothing for them when they are naturally ripened.  They are perfection, without needing man’s touch.

They are almost too simple for us to serve to our loved ones, because God did all the hard work involved in growing them. They are totally gifts of His grace and bounty.  And we, being by nature works-oriented, associate our own hard, intricate work with showing love for our family and friends. Thus . . . we bake and bake.

We bake and bake even when we know that delicious fruit, served plain, would be best for us and for our loved ones (I am not advocating always avoiding baked goods, as we have Weight Watchers weekly points for just such things–there is a balance to be found, after all!).

And God outdoes us every time.  It is a gift of His grace that He does that.  Just by making His lovely fruits to grow. 

Then I thought of the seasons in which blueberries and strawberries are harvested fresh.  I thought I heard God saying, “I only make them once a year and I made them especially for you!”

And, with a fresh understanding of His grace, love for God surged through me.  He really is the best Friend and Familymember of all.  

Merry Christmas! 


Great Wolf Lodge is a Great Place for Kids at Heart!

14 Dec

Great Wolf Lodge is a Great Place for Kids at Heart!

I have always had a lot of friends, but I have never been in the “cool clique.” Cliques seemed too restrictive to me–they usually end up telling you who your friends can be!

So, you will understand when I explain how I was when I found myself wandering around the Great Wolf Lodge waterpark Thursday night, after the children had almost all departed for their storyhour with Santa Claus at 8 PM. I was alone, with my husband and his colleague occupied elsewhere. I also had never been to the Great Wolf Lodge

Since the various activities in the waterpark are not clearly marked, I didn’t know which of these deserted places were usually only for children unless someone told me. I wandered through every body of water I could see and tried several fun things to do.

My friends have all chuckled and said that was “so Mary” and how fun my view of life is.

I don’t know how to do life any other way! Try things out or I won’t know whether I like them.

Since I am not worried about being a member of the “cool group,” there was nothing to stop me!!! And I got exercise points as I wandered around, swimming and exploring!!!


Cooking is the Universal Language!

6 Dec

Cooking is the Universal Language!

This is my new go-to recipe for Spanish flan. I love that it doesn’t have to be immersed in a water bath. The recipe I used for years required me to jeririg up a “double boiler.”

This recipe is not only easy, but it also tastes great!!!

I cook when I am transitioning, when I am under stress, when I am feeling creative . . . (I bet a lot of others do, too).

Our son is coming back home next week, after four and a half months at a college that is a two day drive from here.

We are excited, but stressed, too. There is so much to do before then. And we always compete against that perfect Currier and Ives family Christmas that lives in our brain, don’t we?

Even at 21, our boy still widens his eyes and grins when he gets something unexpected that delights him.

I am looking forward to seeing that look at least once during the month he is home . . .

And I am cooking up a storm!!!

Cheesecake Day!

29 Nov


This delicious cheesecake is sold at the bakery across from Carnegie Hall in New York City; it is Carnegie Deli cheesecake. The only place to buy it locally (fresh, never frozen) is at Route 58 Deli in Virginia Beach, our most famous Jewish deli.

I went there for a piece of this cheesecake once a month while losing my weight in 2012. I now go once every three weeks. It is my reward for staying on plan. I usually eat it in place of lunch, as it is immense.

And, yes, I count the points in my Weight Watchers tracker.

Today was fun as yesterday was not only Thanksgiving but the first day of Chanukah . . . It felt festive to be in a Jewish deli today!

I will follow this with a post on how my husband and I ate fruits and veggies for Thanksgiving yesterday and left Weight Watcher points on the table at day’s end . . .

A Paradox, Bible-style

27 Nov

You know how the Bible has those paradoxes that unbelievers call contradictions?  Things that seem to not be able to both be true at the same time . . . except they are?

I saw one in action three weeks ago.  I lived it.  I then made a Sunday school lesson out of it.

The Bible says, “For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God” (James 1:20).

It also says, “Surely the wrath of man shall praise Thee; the remainder of wrath shalt Thou restrain . . .”  (Psalm 76:10)

So . . . how can those both be true?  

Let’s pick up my story at my hotel three weeks ago, as I checked out in the morning before an all-night flight from San Diego to Norfolk, Virginia (my home).

I decided to go to the San Diego Art Museum in Balboa Park to while away the time before my flight.  I had plenty of time after that to turn in my rental car and check in for my flight.  

I made a mental note, while navigating to Balboa Park, that I would need to look up a gas station on the way to the airport.  San Diego is so compact that I could get from my hotel to Balboa Park in less than ten minutes, then get from the park to the airport in less than ten minutes as well.  But San Diego is also old and doesn’t have many chain stores or gas stations just standing around–at least I saw very few in my two weeks there, going most places on the I-5. There  were not many chains located within a few blocks of my exits from I-5.

So, while at lunch in Balboa Park, I found a gas station on Google, as I looked up my directions to the airport.  Problem is, when I drove those directions, I never saw the station.  Either it was not there anymore or it was one block off of the beaten path or . . . I just never saw it.  

So it was that I ended up at the turn for where I had to drop off the rental car with . . . half a tank of gas.  And I knew my company would be furious if I turned in a half-full car.  That is expensive!

I decided to keep going, straight ahead, on the shore drive that seemed to run through the airport.  Our Norfolk airport is a deadend, but this one did not appear to be.  There were exits in every direction to various airport facilities, but the road itself kept going on.  

It was about three in the afternoon and it was stop and start traffic.  Especially with so many of us out-of-towners driving in that area.  

I later found out it was the hour that many Marines were checking into nearby hotels for the Marine Corps Ball that night.  

The young lady who was behind me in traffic may have been a Marine anxious to get to her hotel.  All I know is that I suddenly noticed she seemed to be holding me responsible for the entire traffic pattern in that area.  

I was in the right lane, but she was riding my bumper, about six inches away.  I stayed in the lane (didn’t want to switch lanes at the same moment she did) but tried speeding up, slowing down, pulling to the left of the lane, pulling to the right.  Nothing deterred her.  She was staying right on my bumper no matter what I did.  She even did that when the passing lane was open.  When all three passing lanes were open . .. 

I was becoming rather afraid of what might happen at her hand when I noticed we had entered Point Loma, the area where another Navy base is located.

In desperation, I decided to take the first right, to try to shake her off.

It worked!  I also saw a gas station, up on the right.

As I pulled into the station, a women popped out of a booth, asking for my ID.  It seems I was at the Point Loma Navy Exchange gas station.  Off-base.

Hurrah, I could fill up and the gas would be cheap(er).  

I looked skyward and asked, “How did You do that, Lord?”  And then I remembered that even the wrath of man praises Him!  And the remainder of wrath He restrains (I didn’t get hit, after all . . .).

See how that works?  From the young lady’s perspective, the wrath of man (woman) worked not the righteousness of God.  She did not glorify God, blowing her top like that.

But from God’s perspective, and mine, He used her wrath to get me to the gas station where I was supposed to fuel the car!!

Amazing God!!!


A Change of Pace–Sharing a Paella Recipe!

25 Nov

A Change of Pace–Sharing a Paella Recipe!

Someone asked where I found my latest, most updated, best paella recipe so I promised to share this one I found on

Paella is of Spanish origin; I first ate it in Spain in 1982. My current recipe includes a good number of red pepper flakes in the rice, which makes it somewhat more Mexican (hot) in taste than the classic Spain version, which is “zesty” but with lighter spices and very little “heat.”

Along with saffron rice, paella has chicken, shrimp, and chorizo sausage; it sometimes has clams, in the shell, also.

My husband usually picks up French or New Orleans andouille sausage if he can’t find chorizo, which is the usual story in our nearby military commissary. It works just as well.

Now, for those who don’t like spicy food (usually half of every crowd invited over . . .) . . . that handy trend of “deconstructing” food works well here. I make one crockpot full of the full spice pepper flake paella, but I also deconstruct my paella into several other dishes as I cook it.

After I stir fry the chicken in onion and red pepper, I pull out a small bowl of chicken. Then I do the sausage and the shrimp the same way, pulling out small bowls of sausage and shrimp to the side.

I found a great use for those small fondue pots that sometimes come free with a crockpot purchase–I put some of the rice into a fondue pot before I add the red pepper flakes into the main crockpot.

Voila! The non-spice eating friend now has rice, three meats, and a bowl of peas (which are not called for in this particular paella recipe, but which I make separately, as I got used to eating peas with paella in Spain). She can build a non-spiced paella on her own plate.

I also serve a fruit platter, a salad (with nuts and croutons to the side to be added, as desired), and a plate of Jacobs cream crackers (British) with cheddar cheese slices to round out this meal.

And flan for dessert (with icecream for the kiddoes). But that will be a separate post . . .

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