Toffee Cookies

A neighbor brought some of these over last week - quite yummy and easy! Something fun for your holiday weekend.

Toffee Cookies

1 sleeve saltines
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
12 oz chocolate chips
12 oz pecans

Preheat oven to 350. Spread saltines on a cookie sheet. Melt butter and sugar in microwave and boil for 3 minutes. Add vanilla. Pour mixture over the saltines. Bake for 8 minutes. Cool 2 minutes. Place chocolate chips on crackers and spread as they melt. Sprinkle on nuts. Refrigerate until solid.


Helen Rita, Part One

I obviously didn't take this photo, and don't know who did, but the topic of 'Love Thursday' over at Shutter Sisters always makes me think of my Grandma Helen, the woman on the right in this photo, circa early 1950s. That's her sister Marion with her, who always had a bit more of an attitude than my grandma did (perhaps you can tell by her expression?) Grandma was one of ten siblings born in a little hamlet in North Dakota to German immigrant parents; some of my fondest memories are of watching her interact with her brothers. They were so comfortable with each other, pulling each other's legs and playing skilled card games of Merry Widow and Gin Rummy while chain smoking and likely sipping on beers. I have so much more to say about my grandma than I can fit into this post; I will likely be talking about her again. She passed away three years ago and I miss her so much. Three of her siblings are still alive; they live far away from me and I wish I could sit down and get them to tell me stories about their lives.

Have you recorded any family memories for posterity? If so, how?


Hallmark of the West

More memories from this summer's roadtrip...Yuccas are so iconic to me.

What are the iconic symbols of your region?


Green Kitchen Giveaway

Going through my feeds today, I discovered that The Green Kitchen has a nifty new tutorial on wrist pin cushions, and is also holding a giveaway for one! You can learn more here:


A Slice of Life

One of my favorite times of day is late afternoon when I prepare dinner: the satisfaction of slicing and chopping vegetables, choosing how to put it all together, the soothing angle of the sunlight. It's a comforting ritual; something that has to be done (for the most part) and so allows for time to stop and focus on the here and now.

What is your favorite time of day?


Evening Light

Is it just me, or is there something very tender and touching about this delicate young tomato plant, newly planted in the crumbly soil, glowing in the evening light?

This photo and the marigold below were taken at sunset in May 2007, just after I'd helped my sister put her little garden in. It was a very chilly, breezy evening; I was up in SoDak visiting after the birth of her first baby. The juxtaposition of the new little plants in the gardens with my lovely new nephew was quite striking to me: growth and possibilties ahead for both.

Even now, this photo is calming to me. I can so clearly remember the texture of the soil, settling the plants into the ground, the peaceful glow of evening.

Marigold at Sunset

See entry above for explanation.


Minibook Swap

It's been awhile since I've shared any craft projects. Earlier this summer, Mimi, Martha, Sevvi, and I did a minibook swap, using the theme of favorite things. (Had to use my little camera, so the photo isn't the best.) These were my little contributions. I love using the Tattered Angels glitter spray (it's the turquoise and red on the covers.) It was a very fun swap - I loved everyone else's books!

I've taken over the neighborhood craft group and am signed up for a beginning acrylic class, so hopefully I'll remember to share more crafts! I did make some of the fun glass magnets using instructions from not martha last night.

What are you crafting?

The Taste of Summer Sunshine

Tomatoes have always been at the top of my list of favorite foods; as a child, I even made sure to slurp the tomato seeds off of the serving platter so that none of the fabulous taste would go to waste. Tomatoes are the taste of sunshine to me (at least a good, ripe one is); the tart burst of seeds and pulp feels like a ray of light. Yes, tomato mozzarella salad is ubiquitous on blogs in the summer months, but there's a reason for it! Add fresh mozzarella, fresh basil, onions, lemon juice, and olive oil to your tomatoes, and you've got perfection. I can even say the tomatoes and basil are homegrown this time.

What is the taste of summer to you?


The View Beyond

The castle-like stone building at Coronado Heights, Kansas is a child's daydream come true: rows of windows built into the second story walls for playing lookout, a large turret at one corner, sloping flagstone steps that must be climbed up carefully to reach the observation deck, all waiting to spark the imagination of young and old alike. Indeed, one little boy was crying when he had to leave, begging to go back to the castle. I found myself enchanted by these windows set into the rock, where I peered out onto the green prairie below, enjoying the expansive vista.
Looking back at the series of window pictures I took there, I'm reminded to stop and try to remind myself of the possibilities that are ahead. It's easy to focus only on the discouragements and struggles that I'm in right now, forgetting to imagine the new views and vistas that might be ahead. There's something so powerful about looking out a window from a high place, seeing all of the landscape below in its entirety.
Top photo by my husband, bottom by me



Today's Shutter Sisters' prompt finally made me sit down and figure out how to make diptychs, using some food photos from this spring. Quite easy! I was fascinated by the circles in each image, as well as the contrast between the healthy green peas and the less healthy breaded frozen onion rings.




Today I am…

Enjoying watching my young dog sleep peacefully in his comfy bed.

Making lists of small journals to submit writing to.

Grateful for the new shade plants I potted for the front stoop.

Desperate for late October to arrive and bring an end to this Southern summer.

Wondering how well I will sleep tonight.

Eager to have my upstairs a/c unit fixed and broken dishwasher replaced.

Thankful for the anchor of Sunday Liturgy, its transforming peace and beauty.

Planning the week ahead: phone calls, appointments, projects.

Looking forward to yoga class and dog obedience class this week.

Smiling about the toads who hide in the sidewalk cracks during my evening walks and the small lizards who sneak into the house.

Missing home and family.

Hoping to do some paper crafts, beading, or simple sewing this week.

What are you up to?

Inspired by thesimplewoman and aliedwards.


Thoughtful Friday

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.
- Annie Dillard

A Cade's Cove chapel, from our trip to Smokey Mtn. Natl. Park last fall


Little Boys

Some of our favorite times each year are our visits with our godchildren. Exuberance, determination, curiosity, and unbounded energy mark the boys; their sister will undoubtedly show the same qualities as she grows. Visiting a park one afternoon, we urged the boys to race around the fountain. The older guys even got into the action, as did a girl who happened to be nearby. I love the freedom of the children's movement, the way their arms and legs swing into each next step. I chuckled quite a bit watching their progress, thankful for their playfulness, eager to see what paths they will race in the years ahead.
What makes you chuckle?


Summer Refreshment

An old favorite: Italian pomegranate soda, cut with seltzer water. Quite refreshing! What refreshes you in these hot days of summer?


Thoughtful Friday

Blueberries, before and after.

What is patriotism but the love of the food one ate as a child? ~Lin Yutang

Berry season! We picked wild raspberries in the forest when I was a child; nothing seemed so special and unique as hunting for the little red gems hiding beneath the serrated leaves, avoiding the prickly stems. The ponderosa pines rose around us out of the meadowed floor; lichen-covered boulders and native grasses embraced the raspberry bushes as we searched them out.

What are your childhood food memories?




How my path has meandered in the last decade. As is so often said, where has the time gone? Summer 1998 saw me boarding an Amtrak train in western North Dakota (the closest stop to us, and not even in our own state!), taking the train across the West to Northern California to follow my boyfriend and seek my first post-undergraduate employment. Uncertainty and excitement marked that summer.

I’ve been blessed with a laidback life these days that fits my quiet personality. It’s hard to believe that I, a humble South Dakotan, ever competed with Ivy League grads for publishing jobs in the San Francisco area (I did find one!) and also volunteered many hours as a research assistant at a leading university. I also somehow amazingly made it in the tough rental market there, with some interesting, if not wonderful, renting experiences. We wandered North Beach often and drove to the coast nearly every weekend. It was a lovely time.

This summer was also the first time that we visited an Orthodox Christian church, a step that would lead us down a very unexpected path and to a new spiritual home.

I learned a lot that year. A lot came in between that year and now: a few more moves, marriage, grad school, becoming Orthodox, godchildren, a nephew, stepparents, lots of road trips. I’m a bit nostalgic for the newness of being on my own in a charming place, but I’m sure more adventures await.

How has your life changed in the last decade? What was 1998 like for you?