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Friday, May 22, 2015


Nora's favorite new word is Wow!  When I am with her, my favorite word is Joy! I begin smiling this big, too. I pray she keeps this joie de vivre forever, and that I will remember that my smiles and enthusiasm can help to change clouds to sunshine for other people.  Thank you for a good life lesson, Nora.

Joie de vivre is a French phrase often used in English to express a cheerful enjoyment of life; an exultation of spirit.
" `It "can be a joy of conversation, joy of eating, joy of anything one might do…  may be seen as a joy of everything, a comprehensive joy, a philosophy of life, a Weltanschauung. Robert's Dictionnaire says joie issentiment exaltant ressenti par toute la conscience, that is, involves one's whole being." ` Wikipedia

Friday, May 15, 2015

Family Fish Tale

Joe and our sons Sean, Jeremy, and Ben plus a friend who is like a son, Tim all went to the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska last week for salmon and halibut fishing. The man on the right joined them on this particular day of fishing. Their smiles tell the story better than I ever could.  They had a great time traveling, marveling at the beauty of Alaska, counting moose, and fishing together.  Plus, they came home with plenty of fish for all our freezers.  I am so glad Jeremy put this trip together and managed to get all the details to work for all these schedules to be the same for one week.  They enjoyed each other and enjoyed fishing. The memories will long outlast the great meals of grilled fish.  This is a fish story I will never get tired of hearing.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Thank You, Mother!

I have seldom used the same photos and text in blog posts here and also in my food story blog, Kitchen Keepers. But this week I posted one of my mother's favorite recipes in honor of her and it made me think of so many things about both having and being a mother.

Most of us learned parenting first from our own parents, much as we learned about food and cooking from them.  I was blessed to have 2 parents who loved and nurtured me as well as 2 parents who cooked and taught me to cook. Of course, they were different, they parented in different ways and they prepared food in different ways.  Mother cooked mostly at home. Daddy cooked in his small cafe.  I probably learned one of my best lessons about parenting from that fact. We don't all do things the same way, but that is a good thing!

As I sat at the computer and entered Mother's recipe for Mexican Cornbread, I thought about that. I have seldom made that recipe exactly like she did. I use grated cheddar cheese, not American.  We like whole kernel corn so I use that instead of creamed. We like pepper and use more jalapenos. And I don't think I have ever once dusted the skillet with corn meal that I browned before I poured in the batter.  What's more, I have made it many different ways and it has always been quickly devoured!  Mother did not criticize me or ever tell me I wasn't doing it the right way!  It is easy to see how this applies to being a mother myself.

I am grateful for my Mother and sweet memories of being rocked and having my hair braided. I rocked my own babies and have enjoyed that with my grandbabies. I love remembering her playing the piano and learning to sing with her. I like to do that too. She grew a gardenia bush by the front porch. I picked a gardenia from ours this morning. She had girl babies and ours were all boys. So she didn't find frogs in jeans pockets or wash the gerbil or help put bacon on a string to catch crawfish! She loved me fiercely and told me so until she was afraid she would't remember to say it and left it written on yellow sticky notes stuck everywhere. I know exactly how that feels because that is the kind of love I have for my sons.

Thank you for it all, Mother.

For the Mexican Cornbread recipe, go to  Let me know if you use the recipe. And tell me how you did it different!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Remember When?

An email from a friend this week contained this photo.  The subject line was "Remember When?"
I am glad my friend ran across the photo and remembered good times.The photo was made in our home on Sekolah Duta II, Pondok Indah in Jakarta, Indonesia, in December 1991.  Joe and I were dressed for the American Women's Association Christmas Ball which was an annual event.   I went to the market and bought a lovely silk sari, took it to another market stall and explained that I wanted a dress and jacket cut from the sari. The seamstress thought it would be nice for Joe to have a matching bow tie and cummerbund! There was  music, dancing, wonderful food, champagne, and I remember entering the ballroom through large ice sculptures.

 In our cabinet along with other glassware is one champagne glass painted with a Christmas Wreath and AWA Christmas Ball 1991.  This dress still hangs in my closet although it wouldn't fit me now,  the earrings are in the granddaughters' dressup trunk, and the shoes long gone. But I do remember!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Celebrating Libraries

This is National Library Week, a time to focus on our public library systems and refresh our gratitude for the ways these libraries are available to us - quantities of collections for us to use for resource and enjoyment, free of charge.  A discussion this week about times that a library was important to us led to several remarks about checking out books weekly when we were children. Of course, for me and those near my age, there were no televisions, tablets, computers, or smart phones to provide information and entertainment. I read my stack of books quickly every week and was ready to go back to the cool quiet of the small library in Jacksonville, TX long before Mother was ready to drive me back!

Currently, many of our libraries also provide a wide selection of audio books which are vitally important to those whose vision no longer allows print reading.  These books also provide many hours of reading for those who have long commutes or travel. is an incredible audio resource that allows building a personal audio library at minimal cost. Thousands now read e-books on a Kindle or tablet and can take a virtual library with them that is smaller than the size of a single book. E-books are also loaned from many public libraries along with devices on which they can be read.

 I sincerely hope we will continue to support and to utilize the wealth contained on the shelves of  material in our public libraries.Celebrate your local library this week by checking out a new book.  Take your children or grandchildren!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Nora was only a few weeks old last Easter, but this year she proudly walked around for all to see her Easter outfit!  Her Dad held her proudly as he brought her into our church's Easter breakfast wearing all the special clothes her Mommy had assembled for her. We were amazed how long the hat stayed on her dark haired head.  Later, at home when her shoes and stockings were given up for sweet bare feet, her hat traded for bunny ears. I looked around at the gathering her parents had assembled - fond grandparents, aunts, uncles, and proud cousin, and remembered a sweet line from a Fernando Ortega song called "This Time Next Year."

"... hold her high, because we are lifted in her laughter!"  

posted with gratitude to Ben and Kristen and Nora, and also to Nora's other grandmother, Desiree, who outdid herself cooking our Easter brunch. 

Friday, April 3, 2015

Not About the Rabbits

Recently a topic of conversation in a group of women friends: "What Easter stories or memories come to mind?"

I thought about Easters in the seventies when we decorated and hid eggs for our three little boys, dressed them up and took them to church and to visit grandparents. I thought about Easters in the past 15 years when I found just the right Easter dress to delight first one, then two, three, four, and now five sweet granddaughters! I smiled when I pictured the fun we have had with our little boys and these little girls decorating eggs, cookies, and cakes, and gathering our growing family around Grandma Terrell's dining table in our home.  Which led me to think of that same table surrounded by my grandparents, parents, my sister and me, and sometimes others.  Always my sister and I proudly wore Easter dresses sewed by Mother.  Often we had a coat, hat, and purse to match!  Those little girl Easters always included going to an outdoor Easter sunrise service in a rock ampitheater.  Those red rocks made for hard, cold seating and shivering little girls in the early hours.

I thought about all the Easter baskets and Easter bunnies these memories represent, including this stern looking celluloid blue and white bunny that was mine in 1941, my very first Easter.  I have no recollection of that Easter, of course, but the fact that this odd little rattle was something Mother kept and passed on to me is significant.  She remembered.

Remembering is really what matters after all. In all the little signs and symbols of Easter there is one common thread, one reason for each:  to help us remember. We remember that Christ came, that he lived to show us how to live, was crucified, laid in a grave, and that he rose on the third day.  We sing the Easter songs and celebrate with joy because we remember.

We practice resurrection and redemption.  Happy Easter!