23 August 2008


Weight Watchers taught me that certain foods for certain people are red-light foods. Be safe; obey the dietary rules. Red means stop, yellow means wait even if you're late, and green means go (or more contemporarily eco-friendly).

My A #1 red-light food would contain peanutbutter and chocolate. I cannot stop once I start whether it is Reese's Big Cups, Haagen Daz peanutbutter-chocolate, Ben & Jerry's peanutbutter cup... You get the picture.

These bars are so frightenly simple using ingredients I always have in my pantry. Only make them when you can share them. Or conversely, only make them when no one is home and you don't have to share. The recipe was passed to me by long-time friend and co-worker Sue Krause.

1-1/3 Cups Graham cracker crumbs, fine
8 oz. Butter, melted
1 lb. Powdered sugar
1 Cup Peanut butter
16 oz. Hershey's chocolate bar, melted - or chocolate chips
2 tsp. Butter

1. Mix together butter, powdered sugar, peanut butter, and
graham cracker crumbs.
2. Press into a 9 x 12 inch baking pan.
3. Melt chocolate with butter in microwave or in a double boiler, taking care to not let any moisture get into chocolate, or the mixture with congeal.
4. Refrigerate until set; cut into small squares.
5. Keep covered in refrigerator until serving.

I sometimes use an 8x8 or 9x9 pan to make thicker bars.

21 August 2008


When the kids were small we would take long weekend trips to Door County most summers--sometimes with the kids and sometimes without. One Fall we decided to take the kids and spend Columbus Day weekend. It rained a lot, so we never repeated that time of year, but we had fun. We ate good food at The Cookery, walked through Founders Square, read, slept, explored.

Walking along the dock one late morning when the rain had subsided a bit, we were stopped in our tracks by the beauty of a flawless spiderweb glistening with raindrops that hug precariously from the pier. Later I found a glittery-gold spiderweb ornament for our Christmas tree--with a tricked-out spider to-boot! Every year as we decorated our tree we reminisced about that day just after the rain when something so simple was so unexpected and beautiful.

20 August 2008


There is nothing better than corn-on-the-cob in Illinois in August. Preferably very young with small kernels and picked just before it hits the boiling water. You just have to have it two at a time.

Two of our little ones had their first this summer. The three-year old had two bites, jumped up from the table and raced for the dental floss! The 16-month old screwed up his face and rubbed at his teeth and immediately lost interest. I guess there IS a learning curve.

While some real butter and a bit of salt are the perfect condiments, once or twice a season we like to go all out and slather on a New Mexico-flavored butter. Enjoy!

8 T. Butter, room temperature
2 T. Green onions, chopped
1 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Ground cumin
1/2 tsp. Oregano, crumbled
dash Pepper
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Slather on the freshly steamed corn-on-the-cob.

18 August 2008


Summer... the screech of the opening and the slam, crack of the screened door hitting the frame. I love it! Reminiscent of summers in Bowen and Peoria when the air was hot and humid with not a chance or possibility of air conditioning. The screened door was the air conditioner!

There is nothing that says summer more to our family than mornings, afternoons, and evenings on the screened porch. Dinner under the slowly undulating ceiling fan. Cicadas crackling and the sounds of animals, large and small, moving about in the woods behind. We have cardinals and squirrels, and deer graze on hosta and Gerber daisies. Our former house had so many rabbits living under the porch that the snow around the perimeter looked like a litter box!

The forsythia and daffodils of early spring, and the overwhelming nostalgic scent of lilacs in the late spring, the scented herb garden in the summer--mint and basil and thyme. Jacob's Ladders blooming violet just beyond the screens joining the other purples of late summer--the herbs go to bloom and then seed, the rubbery mother-in-laws tongue flowers magenta. The rock garden with mother of thyme crawling over the flagstone--brave volunteer chives and reseeding annuals show up in nooks and crannies. The lavender and hydrangeas never survive for a second year, but asparagus and rhubarb thrive. Tomatoes deteriorate from the bottom before they ripen, but onions grow large and sweet.

The kids come home with their families and we make tomato bread focaccias to eat with red pepper olive oil and young Gruyere, roasted red peppers with goat cheese, toasted pine nuts, basil in salads or on pasta, grilled chicken and steak, corn-on-the cob in August, Grandpa's tomatoes, and zucchini casseroles--ratatouille or rice. We drink iced tea brewed in the sun or in our dedicated coffee maker, wine for some and Czech beer if we can get it. Dessert might be carrot cake or chocolate truffle cheesecake with white chocolate-espresso sauce; monster cookies or Great Aunt Roxie's crispy oatmeal with white raisins; shortbread or molasses cookies--we love our desserts and know that homemade is worth the effort.

The little ones chase lightening bugs until bath time and then give squishy, soapy smelling, damp hugs as they head for bedtime books, and the sun settles behind Dufield Pond and casts it's rosy glow over a day well spent with bright hope for tomorrows filled with horses, ponies, goats, the beach or chlorine-soaked pool, soft custard ice cream, the Cubs winning two; and Little League, softball, and soccer games to be played.

Life is good on the screened porch in the summer. An investment that has yielded rich experience and cherished memories--those past and those yet to be written.

15 August 2008


1. One player builds the tower on a flat, sturdy surface by using the loading tray as shown below. Place three blocks in each layer, at right angles to the previous layer. When you finish you'll have a solid, 18-story tower that can more than double during play!

2. Use the loading tray to set the tower upright Then carefully slide the tray away, and put it aside.

3. Remove one block at a time from the tower, and stack it on top. The last player to stack a block without making the tower fall wins the game, or...


Life change is hard, but I willing entered this tunnel of chaos just over one year ago. I didn't work for 8 - 9 months--traveled, rested, created, grandma'd, and just healed from the workplace turmoil. I don't talk about it any more even to close friends. I have processed everything. I really just stayed too long--it is like the game "Jenga." The last piece went on the pile and it all fell apart and I knew that I needed to get away to remain healthy and whole.

It was really John Ortberg's fault because I listened to one of his messages--he said that we are afraid of risk and many, many times stay in situations that no longer work for us just because we are afraid of the unknown. And, that God is in charge and we should take the risk, make the move, step out and trust God to not only catch us, but to lead us on better pathways where we can fully experience his love as we rely wholly on him. I am working again, but very intermittently. I take jobs on contract in Chicago--I ride the train. I treasure my down time and have gotten very busy with my blog, creative projects, traveling, friends, cooking and baking, etc. I am more of an introvert than ever, but still stimulated by social interactions! I love my quiet time and being alone in my home--sometimes I am home for several days at a time and that is no hardship!

God and I are doing just fine--smashingly, actually! We have attended services at various churches, but for much of this last year I have listened online or just walked quietly with God... Our small group has been together for about 13 years now, so that is a big part of our church community experience.

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For because of our faith, He has brought us into this place of highest privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to actually becoming all that God has had in mind for us to be.
Romans 5:2
Life Application Bible