Jun 9, 2024

Indulge Cookbook (Valerie Bertinelli) Book Review

 So I know what I want for my birthday....

I checked this one out of the library. I'm only on page 72 and I know I want this book.  I don't even cook anymore! But THIS will get me going. This is just the ticket. I picture myself blissfully in my apron, cooking with a grandchild by my side, a cute little apprentice.

My favorite recipes so far:
  • Eggs in Purgatory with Kale
  • Classic Eggs Benedict 
  • Cuban Sandwich with Slow-Cooked Pulled Pork
  • Spinach and Ricotta Grilled Cheese
  • Thyme and Gruyere Savory Cookies
Imagine!  ME.... Shopping for Gruyere! I'll have to dress nicer for that grocery trip. Maybe wear my strappy black sandals.

This recipe book is full of foods I love, mixed in interesting ways. It'll push me just enough to be fun and challenging. And I'm really looking forward to some new recipes to share with friends and family gathered around my picnic table while the kids swing in the hammock and birds chirp in the trees.  

And THAT, my friend, is how to Indulge.

Apr 5, 2024

Lake Lure Flowering Bridge & Campbell's Covered Bridge

The short story:  Lake Lure Flowering Bridge, 3070 Memorial Drive, Lake Lure, North Carolina. Great place to stop for an hour. We made this part of our day trip from Charlotte. We stopped for lunch and shopping at the Chimney Rock Village and also went over to the Campbell's Covered Bridge on the other side of Landrum, SC. This made a wonderful day trip for the mobile impaired. For those a little younger, go ahead and visit Chimney Rock.

I don't recommend Old Rock Cafe' unless you just getting a burger and fries or potato salad. All the other stuff we had was not good. It did have great outdoor seating over the river. Next time I will try Riverwalk bar and grill which also has great outdoor seating and looked much better.

Another two stops you might consider in this area is the Ellaberry Llama Farm and maybe getting some pictures of the giant bulls at Puncheon Camp Ranch. We didn't do either of these and I cannot review them.

Campbell's Covered Bridge is a must see for those who love the old bridges. It was updated in 2022 or 23. There are some picnic tables and a big hill you can climb with some benches around it. The walk down to the bridge is moderate but not exactly wheelchair friendly. It is paved, but it is steep. We had some 80-year-olds walk it with the use of a cane. The river is a great place for kids to stick their toes in the water.

The Long Story: So we jumped on 85 South heading out of Charlotte, quietly crossing the Irwin and Stewart Creeks and I finally crossed the Catawba again a little North of where I usually do. Thought about Nana and the many times I crossed the Catawba to see her.

We motored on and took a right on highway 74, waved to Eva out our left window at Gardner-Webb University and crossed the Broad River. We took a hard right on highway 9, sneaked over the Walnut Creek then we snaked around Lake Lure way up to the tippy top and crossed the Broad again.

When I firmly put the car in park, we were at the Lake Lure Flowering Bridge. The bridge was built in the early 1900s and then shut down when a new bridge was built next to it. Soon after that they revitalized the bridge and turned it into a garden.

We were there in early April and there wasn't a lot in bloom, but the gardens were adorable and beautiful. It was a lovely walk.

There is a Rainbow Bridge where you can memorialize your belated dog by hanging it's collar on the railing.

We then drove into Chimney Rock Village, driving perilously close to Bat Cave, NC, home of the North Carolina's Oldest Hillbilly.

We unfortunately ate at the Old Rock Cafe. We ordered the wraps (at the counter, no wait staff), but they were out of wraps. I got the pimento cheese sandwich which was spicy and just ok and I got the potato salad which was yummy. The burgers and fries were yummy. There's beautiful outdoor seating over the river with access to the Stony Riverwalk. Great place for kids to run around 

We shopped some of the cute gift shops and jumped back into the car to cross into SC, blow through Landrum, and zig zag into the Campbell's Covered Bridge parking lot. 

Mom and dad made it down the steep walkway and we enjoyed the shade and cool breeze inside the bridge as we walked through.

This was a great day trip from Charlotte. And you would even have time climb up to Chimney Rock if you so desire. I strongly recommend it as the view is outstanding.

Mar 27, 2024

Finding Solace Writing Prompt

In a world that often seemed chaotic, she found her solace at the feet of Uncle Ernie on the braided rug his mother created on his wedding day. The creaking of the rocking chair was just as hypnotic as the breathy voice purring words about milk carts, chunks of ice off the lake and butter churns. Her mind would drift between the centuries as the narrative wrapped around her, slowing her heartbeat.

Your turn. Finish this sentence, "in a world that often seemed chaotic she found her solace....."

Mar 8, 2024

A Cloudy Afternoon at the Library

I had an hour or two to spare on a cloudy weekday so I spent a little time at the libary (sic). Like a kid in a candy shop, I ran shelf to shelf grabbing whatever sparked my interest. I then found a table overlooking a very plush lawn, took off my jacket and began flipping through the books. I haven't done a book review in ages, so I decided to review my stack.

My stack: Painting Outdoor Scenes in Watercolor, Watercolor Life, 15-Minute Watercolor Masterpieces, Hot Springs Drive, Sargasso Sea, Above the Salt, Create Your Own Cozy, 5-Minute Sketching Architecture, Making Art From Maps and Junk Gypsy.

Making Art From Maps was supercool. I've always loved tearing up and marking old maps, using them in my junk journals or using them as a cover to a hand-made journal. This book has a lot of great ideas and includes some difficult projects. There were one or two projects I thought I might make someday.

I did not check this book out of the library because I would need to keep it for several years and that's a lot of overdue fees.

Create Your Own Cozy: 100 Practical Ways to Love Your Home and Life was also unique and very cool. It is interactive with several questionnaires to help you find your cozy.

Also there is a home maintenance list for each month of the year which I think would be very helpful so I wrote them down. Things like "Inspect electrical cords for wear and fraying" one month. Other months include "clean out your medicine cabinet," "Check your attic for ventilation issues and mold," "Clean your kitchen and bathroom exhaust fan filters," "Vacuum your dryer lint filter (who knew?!)," "Oil your garage door opener and chain," "Check that indoor and outdoor vents are not blocked," "Insulate outdoor spigots and bring in hoses," and many other things you may not think about. 

I did not check this book out, I left it in the re-shelf pile because I'm already quite cozy with my life.

Junk Gypsy: Designing a Life at the Crossroads of Wonder and Wander by Amie Sikes and Jolie Sikes. I know, right? This is so me. I bet you think I checked this one out. I did not. I love the book though, but it's another one I'd need to keep for a few years.

The book is full of examples to "spark your creative spirit" and DIY projects. It's a beautiful book, I enjoyed just looking at all the pages. 

"..the greatest parts of the road trip are the spontaneous, unplanned pit stops -- the greasy spoon, roadside diners, the endless historical markers, and the waiting-to-be-discovered side roads."

The book involves flea markets, restoring second-hand junk, a strong, curious desire to repurpose and sometimes resell. There's advice for what you need in your Junker's Toolbox, what to keep in your vehicle to aid and abet junking and a section with Pro Tips so you don't have to learn the hard way. At least for a few things. It has tons of DIY hints and projects. There's a Flea Market Field Guide. And there's even a couple recipes.

Watercolor Life: 40 Joy-Filled Lessons to Spark Your Creativity by Emma Block. I left it and you should, too. Actually, it would be good for beginners. It briefly explains color theory and techniques. Sure enough, there are 40 lessons for you to paint through.

15-Minute Watercolor Masterpieces: Creative Frame-Worthy Art in Just a Few Simple Steps by Anna Koliadych. This gives a little better watercolor instruction than the previous book. It's for beginners and intermediates. There is more discussion about techniques and several lessons you can follow.

I probably should have checked this one out, but I didn't. I wish I had. It seemed a little too simplistic though.

Painting Outdoor Scenes in Watercolor, by Richard K. Kaiser. Excellent book. Very, very in-depth with many techniques, tools and supplies. I might need to buy this one. But for now, I have it for four weeks. I might need donations towards my overdue fees, I'll let you know.

Above the Salt, a novel by Katherine Vaz. I normally do book reviews AFTER I read the book. Writing this before I read the book is just a summary, not a review. So here goes... The sleeve reads, "An irresistible and sweeping love story that follows two Portuguese refugees who flee religious violence and reignite their budding romance in civil-war America." Based on a true story. I think I'll like this because of the historical nature. I typically enjoy historical novels. I want to get a sense of what it was like to grow up in Portuguese poverty and religious persecution with a missionary father who was martyred. Errr.... sort of.

Hot Springs Drive, a novel by Lindsay Hunter. "Jackie wants to be many things, but a martyr has never been one of them." So there we are, again with the martyrs. I might need to be psychoanalyzed. She reinvents herself, so that sounds interesting. I often think of doing that, but I lack ambition. We'll see if I make it through the whole book, I'll let you know.

So that's it. Here's my take-home pile:

Happy Reading!

Mar 4, 2024

Sunday Satchel: College Kid

It's been a long time since I did a Sunday Satchel post. It was a lot of fun to go through this college kids purse.

Most questionable: a fried chicken key ring with no keys.

An ant-like caterpillar rainbow thing.
A taser.
Happy earbuds pack.

Chick Fil-A ice cream card.

2 bottles of perfume. 
(Full size not purse minis)

A two dollar bill. ❤️

Several lip glosses & hair accessories.

Thank you for playing, please exit to your right.

Feb 27, 2024

The Overriding Providence of God

As I enter week 2 of my physical suffering with intense pain, I ponder about the spiritual aspect. I have been seeking a reason God would allow this suffering to continue.

I certainly believe in natural consequences and inconveniences in life but I equally believe in spiritual consequences and the spiritual aspect of our everyday commonplace moments.

I found an interesting phrase in a devotional about forgiveness written by the late Dr. Jack Hayford. Coincidentally, I have been wrestling with forgiveness for 3 weeks. Forgiveness and its impact on reciprocity.

For example. I treated these people well, they did not treat me well, do I just move on or continue treating them well? I know the general Biblical answer and the specific answer for this specific situation. (I need to forgive and continue trying to be kind, even generous to them.)

So this devotional on forgiveness in my inbox caused me to pause.

And I found this interesting phrase that I had to dig into.

"... pure faith in the overriding providence of God."

And it brought me back to my current suffering in pain.

With this physically painful situation that I have done everything in my power to resolve, do I have faith in the overriding Providence of God?

Let's define those words.

Overriding. 1. More important than any other consideration. 2. Extending or moving over something especially while remaining in close contact.

Providence. 1. The protective care of God. 2. God as providing protective or spiritual care. 3. Timely preparation for future eventualities.


Do I have faith in the overriding providence of God regarding my physical suffering and tremendous, extended pain?

Can I rest in this moment of my life? Can I stop fighting for resolution and accept that God has my best interest at heart and that He is aware of - and possibly has planned for - this suffering?

If I accept that, what changes? 

What if the suffering is not the result of natural circumstances in an earthly environment? What if it was purposed by God? 

Can I believe that God is good?

Because I definitely do believe that. So can I believe in his overriding providence? That He is in overriding control and that I am in His protective care?

I can. I do.

That removes fear. That removes my furious, all-consuming efforts to remove the pain. That redirects my focus from self to God. Even, shall we say, from self to others.

Can I rest in this pain?

Take it a step further.... Can I serve in this pain? Can I be a blessing? Can I be faithful?

I must. And it should be natural, supernatural really, not forced or coerced. It should flow.... Rise above the suffering. 


Jan 19, 2024

Lucy 1, Eisenhower 0

So here's what I'm wondering about. On this day in 1953, 70% of homes with a TV watched Lucy Ricardo give birth to a son on I Love Lucy.

However, it was not until 2 years later on this day in 1955, Dwight D. Eisenhower gave the first Presidential news conference filmed for TV.

Really?  We could watch mindless TV shows before we could watch the President?

Also, does anybody ever call him Dwight Eisenhower or is it always Dwight D. Eisenhower?  Because ... I'm thinking maybe I should incorporate my middle initial.

Also, imagine Dwight D Eisenhower's televised speech compared to our current President O'Biden's speeches where all he does is tumble and mumble. Sickening. I want to be filled with anger at everybody who voted for him. But then I remember my last post about having a good day everyday and realize I have to put the anger aside. Or as I said then, Let It Go.

So I'll do some deep breathing exercises, watch some I Love Lucy and let America fall apart.  Wouldn't Dwight D Eisenhower be shocked at today's America? Let it go, Dwight, Let It Go.

Jan 17, 2024

5 minutes or Less to Have a Good Day

I was today-years-old when I discovered the 5-minute stay-in-your-car oil change didn't literally mean 5 minutes.

It was a busy day. Over coffee and my GPS map, I planned my route and my stops to the minute. I put on fancy but comfortable clothes to give me a good attitude. Made me feel like I meant business. 

So when the 5 minute oil change in fact took nearly 55 minutes, I was bummed. (There were two cars in front of me so should have taken 15 minutes, I'll admit that.)

The stay in your car, stay in your car, stay in your car (!!) signs all over the place kept me in, but I'll tell you I desperately wanted to get out in my serious clothes and clip clop my heels over to give them a good reprimand and let them know I mean business today. 

Instead, I took a deep breath. Crossed a few things off my to do list and rerouted my map. 

What a refreshing feeling to Let It Go. To not get all upset and huffy puffy. What a way to live, to just go with the flow and cooperate with whatever crosses your path. And even to give a smile to the guy who messed up your plans, who lied to you with the 5-minute promise. 

Big smile, "Hi Mr. Liar-Liar-Pants-On-Fire, you can't ruin my day, you are powerless! Have a wonderful day you nasty, wasty skunk."

I shifted gears, slid my shades down and winked at him.  B-bye! 

I think I'll make it my New Year's resolution to just have a good day. Every day.

Aug 10, 2023

First Trip to Costco

So I crossed Sugar Creek in what we call the Chariot, legs heavy on the footrest of my recliner, driven by the same driver I had for my birth week celebrations.

We crossed McMullen Creek and glided through Matthews, NC.

I would give you exact directions, but the way we went included two U-turns and took a little bit longer because I distracted the driver with my story about Benji and the long johns from The Bake Shoppe that were really short johns due to Bidenomics.

It must've been national handicap day because all of the handicap spots were taken. My driver was also driving my 80 something year old parents and handicap parking would've hit the spot. One handicap spot was taken by what appeared to be a 20 something year old guy in excellent health. We see this more and more - non-handicaps parking in the handicap spots.

My sister flashed her pass and we were granted entrance. We each grabbed a buggy and headed to the concession stand for lunch (our reason for coming here).

I had heard about their world famous quarter pound hot dog and knew I had to have one. One hot dog and one drink for a $1.50. Then I saw their giant slices of pizza and knew I had to have one. $1.99. She overcharged me for two drinks, but I didn't notice on account of all the chaos and buggies running into me. 

Take your own kraut. They have other condiments, no kraut. Everybody is right, the hot dogs are amazing.

While we were eating, our buggies were stolen.

My sister went outside to get new buggies. She left her membership card with us, inside at the table. When she attempted to re-enter the store with our buggies, she was stopped and told she could not enter without her card. She explained what happened and they did not trust her. She is a panicky sort and got very agitated being without both her cell phone and membership card She felt accosted and indicted, not helping her case at all. 

The officer, I mean clerk, said she would be willing to escort my sister inside Costco to retrieve her membership card. My sister arrived visibly shaken, produced her card and her escort left amid some colorful language.

We exited the concession area and moved slowly through the chaotic crowd to the front door where we could acquire some buggies, my sister having failed us.

I was not happy with the crowd. I wouldn't want to shop very often with people in my way, squeezing past me and pushing from behind. Costco is not the place for me  ChaosCo. 

The free samples, on the other hand, provided some attraction for me.

Be sure to take your 69-cent refillable drink along as you shop to wash down your samples.

Pictured here are my Hello Panda chocolate cookies and my Mama Chia blackberry snack. Both were excellent, definitely stop by those stations.

I did not sample the Zena Liquid Collagen beverage. But as I went past I heard another customer say "It's not terrible."

Be strategic with the free samples. We sent dad ahead as a scout. He would sample, then give us a discreet thumbs up or down.

Traffic came to a standstill at the Del Real tamales sample station on account of them being so good and too close to the pork samples. Dad gave a thumbs up, so I buckled down and headed in.

I got tied up at the tamale station and missed dad's hand signal for the veggie blueberry muffin station. Mom said the Veggie station made a great blueberry muffin so I recklessly grabbed both the blueberry muffin sample and the chocolate raspberry muffin sample without dad's signal. Bad move. They were both horrible. You can't disguise that carrot in the muffin! That sample station had the fullest trash can of all on account of all those hidden veggies.

Mom gave the Ruby Kirkland Popcorn a thumbs down so I sauntered on by with a polite nod to the senior citizen doling them out.

We separated a bit after those foul experiences, then I thought I saw dad across the warehouse, but it couldn't be him because this guy was wearing a different shirt, a nice crisp hoodie. I've never in my life seen my dad in a hoodie.

As I inched closer, I found it WAS dad. In a hoodie. He was trying on. In the store. In public.

I did an about face with furtive glances to the left and right and quickly went the other way which happened to take me by the Hello Panda samples again.

I had three items in my buggy which added up to a 46" x 62" circumference of boxed products that will last me 423 days alone or 66 days if my grandkids come over.

We were approaching checkout when suddenly we had a mishap on aisle 317 causing the clean-up man to come beeping down the aisle.

They should have one of those robot cleaners like the ones at the Walmarts. They don't even need a driver. Or snack breaks. They clean 24/7. But no,  ChaosCo still has the manned ones.

Anyway, it took 3 clerks and a five minute conversation for us to cash out. It was complicated on account of we had two members and three guests. I got the impression that ChaosCo does not like guests. In fact, I know they don't.

But that's okay, I don't really like them. Well, I like their hot dogs.

Apr 20, 2023

R5N Soaring Contest

 "Al's Gliders" returned to a tiny town in SC this week for the Region 5 North contest of the Soaring Society of America. This is the most attended contest of the season. Pilots register well in advance. Al and Rhonda Tyler are magnificent hosts at the Perry International Airport. The town of Perry sits on 613 acres and has a population of 196. That population is probably doubled on the week of "Al's Gliders."

Learn about the sport in my previous post here.

Here are some shots I took of the landings on April 20, 2023.

Oct 26, 2022

Hickory Knob State Park in the Fall

So I crossed the South Edisto, headed upstate SC and crossed Rocky Creek while catching up with old friends on my smart phone. I gave a nod to the small but mighty Little Stephen's Creek, hung a left somewhere and found myself crossing Steven Creeks. I hung a really hard left and landed in McCormick South carolina, where everything is closed on Mondays. Just so you know. And it was Monday.

I took a pic of the orange spot and motored out the other side.

I crossed Hawe Creek where Baker Creek dumps into it and I watched the ripples flow to the charming Savannah River. I came perilously close to the Georgia line and pulled a hard right into Hickory Knob State Park which will eventually be underwater when the Savannah River completes its oxbow. As for now, there I was on a stubborn spit of land in the Savannah River.

My parents and sister soon arrived and we caught sundown before a fierce game of ping pong on this spit of land in the proud Savannah River.

Morning comes quickly on the Savannah and there we were looking for breakfast. The Hickory Knob State Park restaurant was closed until Thursday, as was nearly everything else, but they did not tell us that in advance, so we found ourselves at the Huddle House in nearby McCormick.

After having my usual and whatever the others got, we hightailed it out of there heading West Northwest towards Comer, Georgia, to Watson's Mill Bridge State Park. 

Because it was such a dry year, the waterfalls did not cover the expanse of the width of the bridge. So that was not as pretty as it could have been. But it was still beautiful and worth a trip

We walked the boardwalk and got a lot of pictures. One of which is my favorite from the whole trip:

Everywhere I travel, I like to find benches and sit on them and read. I certainly found my bench here:

We jumped in the car, crossed back into SC and headed to historic Abbeville, where almost everything was closed on Tuesdays. We did find a hot dog joint with the best hot dogs ever, RoughHouse.

We then headed back to Hickory Knob where we sat on the patio overlooking the Savannah River and I crocheted while the rest read and we all talked and got caught up together. 

When the time came upon us, we headed back to McCormick for dinner. Everything was still closed and apparently don't open till Thursdays.

We ended up at the same restaurant we went to Monday night because it was the only one open, Michelle's.

Don't let the outside of this place fool you. They serve amazing Italian food. On the first night, I had a New York style pizza and tasted my sister's calzone. On the second night, I had the calzone and part of my sister's meatball sub.  We all agreed it was pretty much better than any place we ever tasted. 

With our bellies full, we returned to Hickory Knob to play some pool before going back to our room. 

On our final morning, everything was still closed so we found some pre-wrapped sausage biscuits in the golf pro shop, microwaved those suckers and downed them.

Said b'bye to the beautiful deer population at the park and went our separate ways.

We had a very relaxing time and enjoyed being together without interruptions.

If you go to Hickory Knob, I just recommend you go on the weekends in the fall. In the summer it is probably great any day.

Hickory Knob has a ping pong table and a pool table, an outdoor fire pit, cornhole and some other games and a swimming pool. They also have kayaks to rent and an area for skeet shooting and of course they are most famous for their golf course.  They have three hiking trails.