TBT Lesson #15

What do you picture when you think of a family reunion? Good food, nonsense and lots of laughs?

In 1998, John’s Uncle Bud’s and Aunt Lucille’s 50th wedding anniversary served as a catalyst for a family reunion. Family traveled from Florida, Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina to Beech Mountain, North Carolina for a weekend of fun.

Cousins reconnected and a new generation was introduced while sharing stories, playing games, and enjoying one another.

img587TBT Lesson #15: Make time to get together with family. You might even discover you like one another!

What’s On Your Desk?

Working at home is great, but I just can’t decide where I want to work. I spend part of each day at the desk located in the kitchen, but I’m facing the wall which is no fun.photo 1

Then I move to the treadmill desk, walking and working; but I can’t stand all day.photo 1

I’ve even set up a table in the family room so I can look out the window at the backyard.

IMG_7311I’ve noticed that the iPad and a glass of water follow me from desk to desk. Listening to NPR or music gets me through the day. Of course, there’s a phone, pens, paper, and other office supplies, but there are also pictures, calendars, and knick knacks located on every desk. Things that serve no purpose, but things I enjoy seeing while I work…pictures, buttons, blown glass pieces, a game piece, a fishing lure, and citrus labels.

So what’s on your desk?

You have 24 new matches!

On August 11th, (one week after my 35th anniversary) I received the following email:

Congratulations! You’ve joined the most dynamic group of singles out there. We’re responsible for more dates, relationships and marriages than any other site. Period.

It seems a woman with a similar name, born in 1961, and living in Oregon has registered with Match.com; and despite the fact that we do NOT share the same email address. I’m receiving her email from Match…how can that happen? and does she or someone else receive any of my email?

I chuckled and pressed delete.

Then later that evening I received another email with the subject line: Your first matches ready to view! Twenty-four matches, eight labeled “premium” matches and an additional sixteen, with pictures, user names, ages, and links to profiles. Again, I laughed and deleted.

On August 12th my inbox included: 24 new matches…more pictures and profiles. This time I emailed Match.com to let them know they were sending me matches intended for Dee45sd and asked them to please correct the problem.

So far, no luck! Twenty-four more matches on the 13th, 14th, 15th, and every day since.

While I’m not interested in finding a “match”, I have enjoyed the user names:

  • prize
  • dragondon
  • souljourney
  • mudman
  • gqueen
  • awesomeart
  • raiderdude
  • ironhead
  • jackofheart
  • aceofspades

There’s even one guy who’s pictured twice with two different user names…got to wonder just how desperate he must be to get a date!

To the people at Match: I am not interested! I found my match in 1977 and he’s a keeper!

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Don’t Wish Your Life Away

lastday“Don’t wish your life away!” These words are not my own, but rather words my mother frequently spoke when I was anxious for some event to occur.

  • I wish it was Saturday.
  • I wish school would start (and then a few months later) I wish the school year would end.
  • I wish I were 10, and then 13, and then 16, and then 18…
  • I wish I could get a job.
  • I wish football season would get here.
  • I wish it was Christmas.
  • I wish it was my birthday.
  • I wish. I wish. I wish.

Even as adults, we tend to wish for weekends, vacations, or even the end of the workday. And this year I know I’m going to have to slow down and take this advice.

There’s a countdown on my phone. I know there’s 289 days until the final day of school in 2015 and the beginning of the next chapter called retirement; but as the countdown continues, I’m going to try to follow my mom’s advice and live by the words of Marjorie Pay Hinkley:

phonto

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Mom

 

 

Lessons From Oz

Seventy-five years ago, in 1939, the movie The Wizard of Oz hit the silver screen, and while I’ve never seen The Wizard of Oz in a theater, watching at home on TV was an annual event. Popcorn, “Over the Rainbow”, the Munchkins, and those terrifying flying monkeys kept me on the edge of my seat year after year.

But it wasn’t just the words of “Over the Rainbow” that echoed in my head after each viewing, but the dialog which lives on.

How many times have you heard someone say, “We’re not in Kansas anymore.” or “There’s no place like home.” ? Memorable lines and also lessons about love, courage, and confidence in one’s abilities. Here are some of my favorite quotes from “The Wizard of Oz”:

Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas any more.

Are you a good witch, or a bad witch?

Follow the yellow brick road.
We’re off to see the Wizard, the wonderful Wizard of Oz.
Lions, and tigers, and bears! Oh, my!
A heart is not judged by how much you love; but by how much you are loved by others.
You, my friend, are a victim of disorganized thinking. You are under the unfortunate impression that just because you run away you have no courage; you’re confusing courage with wisdom.
Hearts will never be practical until they can be made unbreakable.
Why, anybody can have a brain. That’s a very mediocre commodity. Every pusillanimous creature that crawls on the Earth or slinks through slimy seas has a brain. Back where I come from, we have universities, seats of great learning, where men go to become great thinkers. And when they come out, they think deep thoughts and with no more brains than you have. But they have one thing you haven’t got: a diploma.
As Coroner I must aver, I thoroughly examined her, and she’s not only merely dead, she’s really most sincerely dead.
You cursed brat! Look what you’ve done! I’m melting! melting! Oh, what a world! What a world! Who would have thought a good little girl like you could destroy my beautiful wickedness? Oooooh, look out! I’m going! Oooooh! Ooooooh!

Back where I come from there are men who do nothing all day but good deeds. They are called phila… er, phila… er, yes, er, Good Deed Doers. 

“How can you talk if you haven’t got a brain?
I don’t know, but some people without brains do an awful lot of talking.”

My world, my world… How can such a good little girl like you destroy all of my beautiful wickedness.

Frightened? Child, you’re talking to a man who’s laughed in the face of death, sneered at doom, and chuckled at catastrophe… I was petrified.

You’ve always had the power my dear, you just had to learn it for yourself.

Everything you were looking for was right there with you all along.

Well, I – I think that it – it wasn’t enough to just want to see Uncle Henry and Auntie Em – and it’s that – if I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own back yard. Because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with! Is that right?

Flat, Straight, and Shady!

I’d never heard of Mable, Florida until last week, but that’s the location of the northern most trail head of the General James A. Van Fleet Trail. Located on Hwy 50 west of Clermont, Mabel marks the 29 mile mark of the trail which travels through the Green Swamp to Polk City.

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Many of the reviews of cyclists complain the trail is boring due to the fact that it is so flat and straight, however those qualities along with the shade make it nearly perfect. In fact, these conditions made it possible for me to take my longest ride of the post-50 period, completing a ride of just over 22 miles.

With trailheads located at Bay Lake Road and Green Pond Road in addition to Mabel and Polk City, the trail provides restroom and picnic facilities for cyclists, hikers, and equestrians. And despite complaints about the trail being too straight, it’s a favorite of speedsters looking for a trail for a time-trial.

The area’s recognized for the abundance of wildlife including feral pigs, snakes, turtles, alligators, and birds. While most of the wildlife we encountered was camera shy, a gopher tortoise and a pygmy rattler posed so John could take plenty of pictures.

Flat, straight, shady…that’s my kind of trail. Next time, we’ll start farther south at Green Pond Road so we can ride through the Green Swamp portion of the Captain James A. Van Fleet Trail.

 

August Pound Cake of the Month: Chocolate Sour Cream

August, the eighth month and the eighth pound cake of the year. After searching for recipes, I finally settled on a Chocolate Sour Cream Pound Cake I found on a website called Leite’s Culinaria. The cake is described as a rich cake with an intense chocolately flavor and who doesn’t love chocolate?

IMG_7278Nothing complicated about this recipe, and in fact, it’s the first one I’ve tried that does not require a stand mixer. (Although I did use the whisk on the stand mixer instead of whisking by hand.)

I was quite surprised the recipe only called for 2 eggs…usually I use 5 or 6. Also, instead of beating the butter until creamy, the directions call for melting the butter and combining with the cocoa powder, salt, and water. I admit I didn’t do this in a saucepan but in the microwave and don’t think it made a difference.

This cake does not make enough batter for my 12 cup bundt pan so I divided the batter into a 6 cup pan and then four 1 cup cakes. The batter seemed too thin, but turned out fine.

Cake Ingredients:

 

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Click here for the recipe from Leite’s Culinaria. I adjusted the cooking time to 20 minutes for the mini, one cup cakes and 35 minutes for the cake baked in the 6 cup pan.

 

The glaze is one for a true chocolate lover using bittersweet chocolate instead of milk chocolate. Again, the ingredients are combined over heat, and the consistency was perfect.

Glaze Ingredients:

  • 4 ounces finely chopped bittersweet chocolate or bittersweet chips
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

Click here for directions for the glaze.

While the Chocolate Sour Cream Cake was tasty, I prefer my standard chocolate layer cake and would probably stick with it instead of the pound cake. It’s also suggested that this recipe can be used to make cupcakes, and I think I might like it as cupcakes better than a bundt cake.

However, if you’re looking for a good, easy, chocolate cake that looks special, this Chocolate Sour Cream cake fits the bill.

TBT: Lesson #14

Next week students in Marion County begin a new school year. I hope they meet their new teachers with a smile and enthusiasm.

On Sarah’s first day of “real school” at Happy Hearts as a four year old Blue Bird, she was all smiles, anxious to go to class with her new book bag. After all, she always complained that “LaTeet was tupid” (LaPetite was stupid).

Sarah’s attitude set her on the right course for a successful school year.

IMG_4387TBT Lesson #14: Be enthusiastic for every new adventure!

No, No, No

As teachers prepare their classrooms for students returning to school next week, I’m reminded of my first year teaching elementary school at Stanton-Weirsdale Elementary. Mrs. Marcos, our principal, instituted a new discipline plan in which we were to “Catch ’em doing good” focusing on positive student behaviors.

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She insisted the wording of class rules must be in positive terms so that No Running in the Hall became Walk in the Hallway. No Fighting and No Name-calling became Keep Your Hands, Feet, and Mouth to Yourself.

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I wonder how she would have modified all of the NO signs I’ve seen this summer.

So many signs, so many NO’s.

I wonder if this symbol would have been an acceptable substitute for no?

IMG_3822No No signs permitted…let’s keep it positive!

Deep Creek Adventures

Beginning in the early 1970s, most summers were spent in the mountains of western North Carolina. Camping, hiking, tubing, river trips and escaping the heat of south Florida. In fact, these yearly trips led me to Western Carolina University where I spent my first two years of college life and met my husband of thirty-five years.

Many summers have been spent at our favorite campground, Deep Creek, a part of Great Smoky Mountain National Park. This year Meghan and Jon joined us for a few days of camping in Deep Creek.

Campfires and breakfast cooked on the camp stove are among the highlights of the trip, but without a doubt tubing on the river is what makes Deep Creek a repeat destination. I don’t mean to brag, but I was the only one of the four of us to stay on the tube…Betty Falls proved too much for the others.

Unfortunately, the constant rain shortened our trip, but it was reminiscent of Meghan’s first camping trip to Deep Creek at age 2 months when she was the only dry camper hanging out in the back of our station wagon while the adults huddled under a tarp over the picnic table making the most of a camping trip in the non-stop rain.

 

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As Yogi Berra would say, “It’s like deja vu all over again.”