The Southern Chocolatier – Did someone mention fudge and brownies in the same breath?!

Before you delve into this post, I have to warn you. You will be entering the den of sin. The pictures alone will send you to confession – and the taste? Mortal sin! But, there is redemption – every good Catholic knows the confessional is a block away!

Extra Nutty Dark Chocolate

Fudge Brownies

Extra Nutty Dark Chocolate Brownies

Extra Nutty Dark Chocolate Brownies

Extra Nutty Dark Chocolate Brownies

Prep Time:20 Min Cook Time:30 Min
Yields 9
Ingredients
  • 5 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1¼ cups packed light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon coarse sea salt, plus more for topping
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 small handful pecan halves, walnut halves, and roasted hazelnuts
Instructions
  • 1    Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 8×8-inch square pan with nonstick cooking spray. Line with parchment paper and lightly spray the parchment paper. Set aside.
  • 2    Place chocolates and butter in a small, heat-proof bowl. Place bowl over a small pot of simmering water (creating a double boiler), or microwave the mixture at 50% for 30 seconds at a time, stirring until glossy and completely melted. Stir in cocoa powder.
  • 3    In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and brown sugar until thoroughly combined. Whisk in vanilla extract. Add the chocolate mixture and stir to combine.
  • 4    Add the salt, baking soda, and flour. Stir until thoroughly combined and spoon into prepared pan. Top with nuts.
  • 5    Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until the brownies are slightly puffed, the nuts are golden brown, and the top is no longer glossy. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before slicing and removing from the pan.
borrowed from – joy the baker http://joythebaker.com/

The Southern Chocolatier – Chocolate Sugar Cookies

Chocolate Sugar Cookies Recipe

I find myself always craving a bit of chocolate in the afternoons, as it goes rather nicely with a hot cup of coffee and the hour of stillness I have while my son is in quiet time. Some days just a little square will do, but other times something more extravagant is needed. I have found these chocolate sugar cookies to do just the trick; they are soft and delicious without being overly rich and sweet. They are a perfect afternoon indulgence.

Chocolate Sugar Cookies Recipe

Ingredients

Chocolate Sugar Cookies Recipe

Step 1
Preheat the oven to 350. Line 3 half sheet pans with parchment paper. Put ½ cup sugar in a small bowl and set aside.

Chocolate Sugar Cookies Recipe

Step 2
Whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl.

Chocolate Sugar Cookies Recipe

Step 3
Using a standing mixer, cream the butter and 2 cups sugar together until light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla, and beat to combine. Add the flour mixture and mix on low until completely combined.

Chocolate Sugar Cookies Recipe

Step 4
Shape the cookie dough into 24 balls, and roll each ball in the set-aside sugar. Place cookies on the prepared sheet pans (8 can fit on each) and bake for 11-13 minutes, until the edges have set and the centers are puffed and starting to crackle. Remove from the oven and move the pan to a wire rack, letting the cookies cool.

 

Borrowed from – http://www.handmadecharlotte.com/

 

The Southern Chocolatier – Did someone say Hershey’s?

HERSHEY’S Chocolate Cheesecake Recipe

I will personally vouch for this recipe. It’s a tried and true love at my house!

HERSHEY'S Chocolate Cheesecake
Prep Time:
15 Minutes
Skill Level:
Beginner

    Ingredients

    • CHOCOLATE CRUMB CRUST (recipe follows)
    • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter or margarine
    • 1/2 cup HERSHEY’S Cocoa
    • 3 packages (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
    • 1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated milk)
    • 4 eggs
    • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

      Directions

      1. Prepare CHOCOLATE CRUMB CRUST. Heat oven to 300°F.

      2. Place butter in medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at HIGH (100%) 30 to 45 seconds or until melted. Stir in cocoa until smooth; set aside.

      3. Beat cream cheese in large bowl. Add cocoa mixture; beat well. Gradually beat in sweetened condensed milk until smooth. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. Pour batter into prepared pan.

      4. Bake 1 hour and 5 minutes or until set. (Center will be soft.) Remove pan from oven to wire rack; loosen cake from side of pan. Cool completely; remove side of pan. To serve, garnish as desired. Cover; refrigerate leftover cheesecake. Garnish as desired. Makes 12 servings.

      CHOCOLATE CRUMB CRUST: Place 6 tablespoons butter or margarine in medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at HIGH (100%) 30 seconds or until melted. Stir in 1-1/2 cups vanilla wafer crumbs (about 45 wafers, crushed), 6 tablespoons powdered sugar and 6 tablespoons HERSHEY’S Cocoa; blend well. Press mixture onto bottom and 1/2 inch to 1-inch up side of 9-inch springform pan.

      Borrowed from – www.hersheys.com

      The Southern Chocolatier – Neapolitan Cake

      What a cute cake! I can’t wait to make this one. Completely iced cakes are always so pretty, but there’s something about cramming all that wonderful icing between the layers that is enticing.

       

      Neapolitan Cake

      • recipe photo

      chocolate layer cake:

      ingredients

      • 1 3/4 cup flour
      • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
      • 2 teaspoons baking powder
      • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
      • 1 teaspoon salt
      • 2 cups sugar
      • 1 stick butter, softened
      • 2 eggs
      • 1 cup milk
      • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
      • 1 cup strong coffee

      preparation

      • Heat oven to 350 degree F. Grease and flour three 8-inch cake pans.
      • In a medium-size bowl, sift together all the dry ingredients except the sugar; set aside.
      • Cream the butter and sugar together on high speed until pale and fluffy.
      • Mix the eggs, milk and vanilla together, then add to the butter mixture.
      • Alternate adding the dry ingredients and the coffee to the butter mixture (start and end with the .dry ingredients).
      • Divide the batter among the three pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans and transfer to wire racks. Cool completely.

      neapolitan cake frosting:

      ingredients

      • 2 cups sugar
      • 8 egg whites
      • 1 pound unsalted butter, softened
      • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
      • 1/2 cup melted bittersweet chocolate
      • 1 cup fresh strawberries
      • 1 tablespoon sugar
      • Chocolate sprinkles
      • Red food coloring (optional)

      preparation

      • Combine sugar and egg whites in a mixer bowl. Whisk together over simmering water until hot to the touch, and until all the sugar has melted and is no longer grainy.
      • Transfer bowl to mixer stand and whip on high until fluffy and cool (about 10 minutes).
      • With the mixer on low, add the softened butter one tablespoon at a time until incorporated. Add vanilla. Beat until smooth. (The mixture may appear curdled, but continue to mix and it will become smooth.)
      • Divide the frosting into three bowls. In one of the bowls, stir in the melted bittersweet chocolate to make the chocolate frosting. In another bowl, add the strawberries and 1 tablespoon sugar to a blender; puree. Strain through a fine mesh strainer to remove the seeds. Stir 1/2 cup of puree into the frosting. If you prefer a deeper red, add a few drops of red food coloring.
      • Trim the cake layers with a sharp, serrated knife so they’re as flat as possible. Freeze the layers for 15 minutes.
      • Top the first layer with chocolate frosting and smooth with an offset spatula. Leave a 1-inch border around the outside.
      • Add another layer and repeat with the vanilla frosting. Add the final layer upside down and top with strawberry frosting.
      • Using a large star tip, pipe the borders of the cake with the corresponding frosting. Top with chocolate sprinkles.

      Source – http://www.potterybarnkids.com/

       

      The Southern Chocolatier – Samoa Cupcakes

      You may be beginning to understand my obsession with chocolate. If not, I promise that one day soon you will!  I also love cupcakes. There is something about having your own little slice of heaven that you don’t need to share – it’s all yours!

      Samoa Cupcakes

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      To toast the coconut, spread about 1 and 1/2 cups sweetened, shredded coconut onto a baking sheet and bake in a 350* oven for 3-8 minutes.  Check after 3 minutes and stir, then check (and stir if needed) about every minute after.  The coconut can burn very quickly, watch it closely!

      Garnish the finished cupcakes with a drizzle of salted caramel.  Trader Joe’s Salted Caramel Sauce (labeled Fleur de Sel Caramel Sauce) was the choice in the recipe!  Feel free to make your own caramel sauce or choose a high quality brand of your choice.  It’s important to chose a salted caramel sauce (or add a bit of good quality sea salt), or the recipe will be overpoweringly sweet.

      My tweak – I happen to love the Pillsbury Devil’s Food cake mix and that is the only change I’d make here. The original post on Glorious Treats uses a home-made chocolate cake recipe.

      Salted Caramel Buttercream

      This amazing frosting is perfect for chocolate cupcakes… or simply by the spoonful!

      Yield: Frosting for 24+ cupcakes or an 8″-9″ (two layer) cake

      ingredients:

      1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
      4 oz. (1/2 block) cream cheese
      1/2 cup good quality salted caramel sauce
      1 teaspoon vanilla extract
      4 cups powdered sugar

      directions:

      1. Allow butter to set out at room temperature about 15 minutes (you can gather your other ingredients in the mean time).
      2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter until smooth.
      3. Add cream cheese and continue to beat until fully smooth and well incorporated.
      4. While slowly mixing, pour in caramel sauce (should not be warm).
      5. Add vanilla.
      6. Continue slowly mixing and add powdered sugar, one cup at a time, allowing the sugar to blend a bit before adding each additional cup.
      7. Scrap down the sides of the bowl and then blend the frosting an additional 30 seconds or so. The frosting should be fluffy, and all ingredients fully incorporated.
      8. Frost cupcakes or cake.

      Recipe source – GloriousTreats.com

      Hero Dog Takes Bullet to Save Family

      You may have noticed that I post a load of pictures on Facebook and Instagram of my two West German Shepherds, Ryka and Calypso. I adore my four-legged companions and all my friends know this. They love tagging me when they find posts about shepherds. This story was shared by a friend this morning and it touched my heart so deeply that I wanted to share it here.

      IMG_2771
      Calypso (3) and Ryka (5)

       

      Hero Dog Takes Bullet to Save Family

      http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid1750003874001/?bctid=3979967041001

      Hero Dog Takes Bullet to Save Family

      Meet Noah, the hero German Shepherd who took a bullet to save his family.

      Watch the Segment

      It happened as the Martin family pulled into a strip mall outside Atlanta. The dad went into a store to buy a new dog collar for Noah. Out of nowhere, a road rage incident erupted in the parking lot. Gunfire hit the SUV.

      Diondra Martin told INSIDE EDITION, “Glass was flying over my head, over their head.”

      A bullet hole pierced the seat just inches from where Diondra’s son was sitting.

      “When I took them out of the car and realized where the bullets were, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh. They were that close!’ ” exclaimed Diondra.

      A 911 caller said, “Somebody got shot. I heard around 8 gunshots outside in the parking lot.”

      Then, a remarkable thing happened. In the hail of bullets the dog raced to the front seat.

      Diondra explained, “His body was pushing me to stay this way.”

      Diondra believes Noah was coming to sheild her and that’s when a bullet hit him in the neck.

      “The bullet was coming towards me and it hit him in the neck,” she said.

      That’s right! Noah took a bullet for the family.

      “It was so heart breaking. I saw the hurt in his eyes,” she recalled.

      You won’t believe what happened next.

      The gravely injured Noah took after the gunman, as seen on surveillance video.

      Dad, Kadon Martin said, “I see my wife over there screaming, and she was bloodied up.”

      Kadon ran after his wounded dog and showed us how he found Noah lying on the sidewalk. Kadon explained, “I grabbed his head and I opened his mouth and tried to blow in his mouth.”

      But it was too late. Noah died from the gunshot wound.

      The loss is too much to bear, and Kadon tearfully stopped and had to leave the room.

      Diondra said, “It’s very hard on him. He’s never cried like that before.”

      But the story doesn’t end there.

      Dog breeder Elizabeth Wilkerson heard the story of brave Noah on the news. She drove 750 miles from her home in Michigan to deliver a very special present to the Martins.

      Wilkerson told INSIDE EDITION, “The whole situation just broke my heart.”

      Meet their new dog, Kris! We were there for the big moment!

      The children were overwhelmed with joy. But none more than dad, who broke down in tears, telling Wilkerson, “Thank you so much. Thank you so much.”

      A happy ending to a tragic tale.

      But the family will always have a special place in the hearts for Noah, who took a bullet for them.

      “He saved the kids. He saved my lfie,” said Diondra.

      “He was a superhero,” said Kadon.

      Borrowed from – http://www.insideedition.com/

      The Southern Chocolatier – Mini Nutella Cheesecakes

      These cookie crusts look divine! The recipe calls for chocolate cookies, but I’m thinking Oreo cookies fit the bill.

      Mini Nutella Cheesecakes

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      Ingredients

       The crust:

      The cheesecake:

      Preparation

      1. Preheat oven to 325. In a small bowl, mix together crushed cookies, sugar, and butter.
      2. Divide evenly between 12 paper-lined muffin cups or 12 wells of a mini cheesecake pan. Press down to form an even layer and bake 5 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool while you prepare the filling.
      3. In a medium bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, mix sugar, flour, and cream cheese until smooth. Beat in eggs, then add milk, sour cream, and vanilla, and mix until smooth.
      4. Fold in Nutella until just combined. Divide the filling evenly between the muffin cups, filling nearly to the top. Tap lightly on the counter to release any trapped air. Bake 20-24 minutes, or until just slightly jiggly in the center.
      5. Remove and let cool at room temperature 30 minutes, then cover with plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator for several hours. Keep in the refrigerator. Serve with whipped cream if desired.

      Borrowed from – http://www.weallneedsugar.com/

      The Southern Chocolatier – Chocolate Kahlua Cupcakes

      I love chocolate! There are so many chocolate recipes just hanging out on the web and I’ve decided to begin sharing my favorite thing in the whole world with my followers. I hope you’ll enjoy what I’ve named “The Southern Chocolatier”.

      Chocolate Kahlua Cupcakes

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      Any chocolate cake recipe will do, but I really have an infinity for the chocolate cake recipe on the tin of Hershey’s Cocoa. Actually I love the recipe for the chocolate icing too, but this is all about Chocolate Kahlua Frosting today.

       

      Chocolate Kahlua Frosting

      Kahlua (coffee liqueur) adds a wonderful dimension to delicious chocolate frosting

      Yield: Frosting to pipe a swirl on 20-24 cupcakes, or frost and fill a 8″ cake.

      ingredients:

      12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks)Challenge butter

      4 oz. (1/2 block) cream cheese

      1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

      4 cups powdered sugar

      1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

      2-3 tablespoons Kahlua/coffee liqueur (adjust to your tastes)

      (in place of Kahlua, use 1-2 tablespoons espresso coffee, cooled)

      1 tablespoon heavy cream (or milk as a second choice)

      directions:

      In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter until fully smooth.

      Add cream cheese, and continue to beat until fully incorporated and smooth.

      Add cocoa powder, and beat until well combined.

      Add powdered sugar, one cup at a time, while the mixer is running.

      Add vanilla, then 2 tablespoons of Kahlua (or espresso) and 1 tablespoon heavy cream. Add additional Kahlua if desired.

      Beat until all liquid is fully incorporated and frosting is smooth and fluffy.

      Recipe Source- Glorious Treats, based on my Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

      * * * * * * * * *

      If you don’t have cream cheese on hand, feel free to replace it with an additional 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) of butter. The cream cheese adds a nice dimension, but the frosting is still delicious without it.

      It is important that your butter and cream cheese are cool or cold, or the frosting may be too soft. If the frosting is too soft, put the entire bowl of finished frosting in the fridge for 20 minutes or so, and it will firm up quite a bit.

      This recipe was found at – http://www.glorioustreats.com/

      Lenten reflections along the bayou

      10980743_10204674666940914_9078032255017558502_nI was bound and determined today to sit down and just write. It’s something I’ve been feeling the need to do and not having the time to do. It’s Lent for anyone who is Catholic and a time of reflection; at least that seems to be the theme of the homilies at church these days.

      I don’t know if I just didn’t understand exactly what reflection was, or just wasn’t in a place to reflect. That statement will no doubt resonate with only those who have been in a state of flux as I have been. So much in my life is unsettled and will remain that way indefinitely. I think that is what makes reflection difficult for me. To reflect means thinking back on some of the most painful parts of my life, and while it may be helpful to work my way through those parts, it is truly not possible. There are missing parts and people who are needed to work through those parts. It is not only my healing that is needed.

      I have been reflecting on what a mess parts of my life have been. I do not think that as children, we think about growing up and looking back on our lives trying to figure out what was truth and what was not. Sadly, this past year has been one of many revelations; most of them not good.

      I’ll probably be writing more on reflection later, but for now, on to the “lighter” side of life.

      IMG_7216If you follow my blog, you know that I have two beautiful West German Shepherds. They are my two loves! Calypso seems to have her own “Lucy” moments, like her mistress!

      Hubby wanted to have chickens and so he built a chicken coop. All I did was warn him, the chickens had better be secure as Calypso (and Ryka) were here first.

      We weren’t going to start with the chickens so soon, but a friend of Hubby’s wanted to get rid of a few of his so it jumped started the process. He quickly built a coop of his own design and instead of the six he 10437011_10204634538937739_4468608345729621289_nwas hoping to house, he ended up with nine chickens. Well, there’s a saying that goes something to this effect – “You get what you speak into your life…” Well, he’s been saying that he might have to give three away if they start fighting because he really only wanted six and built the coop for six.

      10968366_10204665585233877_115202294979787255_n…and then there were eight. Hubby built the pen on skids so he could pull (see the chain?) it around the yard with the tractor so the chickens would have fresh grass. He pulled and parked it one night, not noticing that it sat on uneven ground. That was all that chicken needed! It bypassed the barbed wire along the bottom and out and about it went. Didn’t take long for Calypso to spot it – I wasn’t there but I know my dog VERY well. It looked like a chicken feather plucking contest in the back yard. The chicken was confiscated from Ryka and Calypso in the front yard. It wasn’t in good shape from what I heard.

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      Calypso has been spending an in ornate amount of time in the kennel as of late. It seems as though all I need to do is walk out of the back door, and they head to the kennel. The chickens have gotten used to Calypso running around and around and around the coop. Even after three weeks, she still finds them fascinating. She loves the excitement of making them fly. Ryka sometimes joins in, but for the most part is content to sit and watch between naps.

      10991252_10204701811539512_4181741449355236451_n
      punished again

      …and then there were seven. Hubby really should have known better on this one. He didn’t put the dogs in the kennel before going to the coop. He opened the door and a chicken saw a dog and a dog saw a chicken stepping out, and that was all it took. Calypso made a move and the second chicken was confiscated in the front yard. This one was still in good condition as Hubby chased Calypso and grabbed it. However, it was dead. Hubby cleaned this one and put it to cook.

      11024741_10204777419989676_228312288507037972_nI learned a few fascinating things with this chicken – one, there was a soft egg that the chicken would have laid the next day. Call me silly, but I didn’t grow up on a farm and never gave an egg much thought other than the fact it came in a carton at the market. Two, old chickens taste and smell horrible. While Hubby was chowing down on chicken stew, I had to shove my bowl away. I am extremely taste and texture sensitive. It was awful!

      There are still seven chickens to date and I informed Hubby that if he would like for it to stay that way, he had better begin speaking it into his life, as in “I always wanted seven chickens!”

      I learned an inter1503605_10204834745302773_2743525273453174456_nesting trick this week. I saw this on Facebook. What would we do if not for Facebook. It is such a wealth of information! (laughing) I boiled a dozen eggs the other night and tried this technique out.  After the eggs were boiled and slightly cooled, I put them one at a time into a mason jar. I filled the jar with tap water to about the height of the egg, capped it, and then shook it viciously. The egg pealed itself! I kid you not!  I was so excited and making such a commotion that Hubby ran to see what I was doing. After that, it was a fight to see who was going to peel eggs. Why I didn’t just give him his own jar is beyond me.10891466_10204834747222821_4502341357018315688_n

      10984478_10204653276526167_2843587863359547188_nAnd, being the Lucy that I am, what would a week be if I didn’t cut or burn myself at least once! I have no clue how I did this, especially since I was being careful, but I managed to make a connection with a knife right at the knuckle. Hubby did a great job of bandaging it in a way so that it stayed immobile to it could heal. The cut probably needed stitches, but I’d rather suffer. It has finally healed but looks like I have an extra ripple. Oh well. Doesn’t look any worse than the arthritis on my fingers.

      I have friends who home school and this semester Hubby is teaching a farming course to them. They are gardening in our back yard. It should be quite interesting for the kids. They planted seeds and are documenting their growth through germination, planting and harvest.

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      Calypso and Ryka each get a “cookie” in the morning. The difference in personalities is so great and really comes through in the little moments. This is each of them waiting for me to hand them their cookie.

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      10888514_10204694133547567_4892002917901975030_n

       

      Ryka, ever the patient one, and Calypso in her “I want it and I want it NOW” way. She is the wild child. She lives life to the fullest. I guess I should be glad she’s a dog and not a kid.

      I love taking pictures and while I was out walking a couple of days back, I took some shots of what I refer to as “Around my yard” on Instagram. You can follow @SouthernCharmPlanner if you are interested. There is a sunny shot of a beautiful Red Maple tree in my front yard and then a shot from a different angle on a cold and cloudy day. I love the contrast of the bare Crepe Myrtles and the Red Maple in the background along with the gray sky.

      10425133_10204701741097751_5736058931720283673_n10505489_10204820392583964_4476968417540586931_n11020761_10204812400504167_5648200054287951332_n11039025_10204812395104032_2632421917608954331_n11044982_10204812347542843_7607048534613184008_n10805575_10204812339262636_192995703008051673_n

       

      I also took a few shots of my front porch, along with some of the bird nests in the trees in our yard.

      Other than a favorite of mine, Homemade Hot Chocolate, that’s about it for now. Hope to see you again next week! Please feel free to comment about your week. 11039025_10204812395104032_2632421917608954331_n 11025776_10204831872550956_8933032454740008558_n

      Here are few more of the chicken and pet pictures. Enjoy!

      1486614_10204820360623165_3037156926679565280_nIMG_2420IMG_2369IMG_2364IMG_2363IMG_2279 IMG_2280 IMG_2284 IMG_2343 IMG_2362

       

      In Love with Death by Satish Modi – Media Blitz

      Screen-Shot-2014-12-09-at-5.03.29-PM

      “A must read for everyone who seeks spirituality and happiness, by giving joy to others and those who simply want to make the most of the one short life that one is given.”

      Ashanti Omkar, cultural expert, Monocle

      New Book by Industrialist and Philanthropist Explores “Love Affair” with Death, and Reveals Surprising Secret to Living Well

       

      Described as the “son of the founder of modern industrial India,” Satish Modi is a member of one of the most influential and affluent families in India. Yet despite privilege and success, he discovered happiness was not synonymous with wealth—and the secret to a meaningful life begins with a fresh understanding of death.

      He now shares how his unique understanding of death has enabled him to embrace an extraordinary and impactful life, and reveals how reinterpreting death can help others live to the fullest in his new book, In Love with Death (Birlinn Limited, $16.95 / £9.99 hardcover, May 1, 2014).

      Challenging readers to mark their “death date” and calculate their remaining time on earth (or, “reverse living”), Modi seeks to empower people to overcome their fear of dying, and enable them to live meaningful lives of goodness, love, and compassion.

      Including poignant narratives from people from all walks of life, Modi sweeps the reader into a journey through life’s joys and sorrows with fascinating stories, thought-provoking philosophy, and wise advice from a life well lived.

      The result is a fascinating book that teaches us that whoever we are and whatever our aspirations in this life, it is important for everyone to accept their own passing—and embrace the courage to live fully.

      “It is my hope that engaging with our own mortality will help us to appreciate the world in which we live and encourage us to make the most of our lives,” Modi said.

      Modi started India’s first private airline (Modiluft, now known as Spice Jet) in 1993, and established the International Institute of Fine Arts (www.iifaindia.org) in India in 2000. His foundation also runs the Right to Education program, which provides subsidized/free education to four thousand underprivileged children. He set up the charity “Arts for India” (www.artsforindia.org) help needy young artists in India get the education they deserve.

      IN LOVE WITH DEATH by Satish Modi

      Published by Birlinn Limited, May 1, 2014

      ISBN: 978-1780272146

      $16.95 / £9.99 Ÿ 174 pages

      High res imageDeath is the inevitable fate of every single person on earth. How do we accept the inevitability of our own death? How do we live our lives with meaning? Will money lead us to happiness? Satish Modi examines these questions and more in a moving, powerful, thought-provoking work based on his own reflections as well as the experiences of people from all walks of life. The result is a fascinating book that teaches us that whoever we are and whatever our aspirations in this life, it is important for each and every one of us to accept our own passing. In doing so, we free ourselves to live as fully as possible, guided by the principles of goodness, love, and compassion.

       

      SaitshModi_authorphoto2SATISH MODI is a philanthropist, educationist, industrialist, and author who divides his time between London and New Delhi. He is respected for his entrepreneurial approach to international business.

      Modi started India’s first private airline (Modiluft, now known as Spice Jet) in 1993 and in 2013 he founded a Football Club in the U.K. known as Modi Town Football Club. He founded and is on the board of India’s first offshore mutual fund, the J.F. India Fund, which is part of J.P. Morgan Chase. His father established the Modi Group of Industries and, in 1933, established the industrial township of Modinagar, which now has a population of half a million people. The group has a turnover of about US $1.2 billion.

      Satish Modi and his wife Abha established the International Institute of Fine Arts (www.iifaindia.org) in 2000. His Foundation also runs the Right to Education program, which provides subsidized/free education to four thousand underprivileged children in India. The philanthropic project, ‘A Stitch in Time’ is an initiative to empower women. This has enabled thousands of women to earn their livelihood respectfully. In 2010 Modi launched Arts for India, a charity to raise funds to support underprivileged, yet talented artists from India (www.artsforindia.org).SatishwithwifeandPrinceCharles

      Satish Modi is President of the Dayawati Modi Foundation for Art, Culture and Education. Mother Teresa was one of the first to receive its annual award. His Holiness the Dalai Lama received the Dayawati Modi Award for Art, Culture and Education in 2011. Other prominent awardees include Anish Kapur, Mark Shand, Goldie Hawn, Simon Beaufoy, Pandit Ravi Shankar and Amitabh Bachchan.

      He is also President of the G.M. Modi Science Foundation that promotes Science and Technology in India and has instituted the prestigious annual G.M. Modi Science Award. Among the recipients is Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, former President of India.

      Under his initiative, various art shows were organized at several venues around the world, including Tate Britain, London; the House of Lords, London; the Saatchi Gallery, London and the New York Academy of Art, New York. A Fashion Show was also organized at the Guggenheim Museum in New York in 2011.

      He was a member at UNESCO’s Global Forum on the ‘Power of Peace’. On the invitation of UNESCO, Satish Modi created, for the first time, an Art Show on the theme ‘Power of Peace’ at the UNESCO Global Forum held at Bali, Indonesia in 2007.

      For his services to the nation, Satish Modi has received a number of awards and honors including the Gem of India Award. He was appointed an Ambassador for Philanthropy by the UK’s Founding Ambassador for Philanthropy, Dame Stephanie Shirley. In 2010, he was nominated for an Arts & Business Prince of Wales Medal for Arts Philanthropy. He was also invited for a Breakfast Prayer Meeting in Washington D.C. by Mr. George Bush, the then President of U.S.A.

       

       

      Life on the Bayou, “Lucy” at the aquarium, and an MRI

      Gosh, but it’s been a long time since I’ve sat down to write. So much has happened in the past two months and it’s left me turning in circles and unable to focus for a while.

      December found us spending more time in church for funerals of family members, than not. I lost my dad at the beginning of December, a very close friend the day after Christmas and my husband’s niece lost her baby only days before her due date before New Year’s.

      Losing a parent is rough and going through a funeral with family members at each other’s throats is not a pleasant situation. Losing someone who has been an integral part of your life for the better part of 17 years isn’t easy. Especially when that person sees you as part of their family and that is how it was. This man was as close to a saint on earth as I have ever met. He touched so many lives in a spiritual way and his legacy will live on forever. He was that kind of man, truly special.

      Our niece’s baby did so many somersaults that she managed to twist her umbilical cord to the point it cut off her life-line to her mother. She was a beautiful little baby, pink as could be as she had just passed before delivery. It was heartbreaking for everyone. Her passing marked the third death in my husband’s family in five months.

      As I look back and try to absorb all the emotions that have been floating around, I told my husband that I didn’t know what was the hardest – grieving a parent you’ve known your entire life, watching the burial of a beloved man, or watching two twenty-eight year olds standing with their arms around each other when they finally make the decision to allow the casket to be closed on a baby they will never get to raise.

      Life is strange and definitely not for us mere mortals to understand. At the baby’s funeral, our priest said that the week before we had buried one of our finest (our friend) and that day, we were burying one of our purist. On New Year’s Day when our priest visited at the hospital, he spoke about the baby being a true angel, that she wasn’t tainted by this world. She had never taken a breath of this life. I thought of the Blessed Mother carrying a Savoir, and I thought what an honor, to be chosen by God, to carry an angel. That is special.

      This past week I had the chance to play with the penguins at the Audubon Aquarium in New Orleans. A friend of mine has a child with 22q11.2 deletion syndrome, and he was eligible to be part of the Easter Seals program that sponsors the event. My friend invited me to go along. She is too funny and sweet. The aquarium is closed on Mondays and she knows that I am an introvert and suffer from social anxiety. When the person told her we would be the only ones there (besides the other four families) she immediately thought of me – so off we went on a field trip, the two of us and two of her children. Did I mention how great it is to have such wonderful friends who love you and take your quirks in stride? I was not always so lucky, so I know that I am truly blessed.

      We had so much fun, but the day wasn’t without incident! “Lucy” just had to do something! After learning about the penguins and their habitat, we were invited to enter the habitat and play with them. Of course, the habitat includes a huge swimming hole! I think I prayed the entire time that I would not fall in, because if that was going to happen to anyone it would have been me!

      Most of the penguins are quite friendly and we were able to hold them. We were allowed to stay and play for a long time, which was nice. We weren’t rushed at all and the penguins seem to enjoy the visit as much as we did. The person in charge was as eager to answer all of our questions, as we were to ask them.

      The only thing I feel bad about is that I am in most of the pictures because Mom was busy taking pictures of the kids and I was helping them hold and play with penguins! I felt she should have been in the photos instead of me, but at least the camera was safe in her hands. At the end of the visit, we were squired away to a room where two penguins with paint on their feet walked all over paper taped to the floor. Each child went home with a stuffed penguin and a picture “painted” by the penguins. We had so much fun!

      Okay “Lucy” did have one incident that could definitely have been disastrous, but wasn’t. When we entered the door to go to the penguin’s habitat, don’t ask me what I expected to see. A staircase perhaps? What I saw was a ladder, much like those used in boats to climb down into the engine rooms. I had to laugh at myself and even said, “Oh! A ladder.” We climbed up the ladder with no problem and I forgot all about it – that is, until it was time to leave.

      Having spent a little time climbing up and down such ladders, I knew as I watched everyone climbing down as though it were a staircase, that it wasn’t. Soon, it was our turn to follow Jude’s mom and sister down the ladder. They laughed when they turned around and saw Jude and I descending the ladder the same way we had climbed up. A ladder is a ladder is a ladder, I don’t care how you call it. She thought I was little nuts when I described how I climbed down, but Jude and I made it safely to the bottom with him climbing down by himself (like a big boy) surrounded by my arms.

      That was the safe part, because as I turned around and started out the door, I didn’t see the raised lip and almost went flying. I still can’t tell you how and where I caught myself, but fortunately an accident was avoided.

      If you would like to read about the program and see a few pictures, please click on the link. http://www.nola.com/family/index.ssf/2015/01/easter_seals_louisiana_and_aud.html

      And, what do you do on the way home with kids? You stop for chicken tenders! We had a great day and it was nice to be light-hearted for a while.

      Tuesday, I had an appointment at Ochsner for a MRI on my hand. The diagnosis was erosive arthritis and if you follow me on Instagram, (@SouthernCharmPlanner) I am documenting my progress with a medication that was prescribed. My doctor told me Erosive Arthritis is a cousin of Rheumatoid Arthritis. Not a lot is known about it and there is no cure or known treatment – rare was what she called it. That didn’t surprise me as I already have two “rare” blood disorders. I am an INTJ and have a “rare” personality – 4% of the population share this personality. Rare is quickly becoming part of my vocabulary.

      Since Hubby was off at the duck camp, a friend went with me to the hospital. On the way home – laughing here – we stopped at iHop. It’s not only children who like chicken tenders! We ended up sitting and talking until almost dark!

      I escaped two incidents this week unscathed – which still has me shaking my head. The second was Friday evening when I went to the dog’s kennel to check to make sure their blankets had not been drug out of their houses. Their kennel is the white picket fenced yard surrounding my Garden House (the pic is above). Their houses are located under an overhang to the side and on a wooden platform. As I walked onto the wooden platform, my foot slipped on the slime (it’s been raining) and down I went. My arm went down on top of the fence between two pickets and I hit my knees. My thought as I was going down was this is going to be a bad one. By the Grace of God, I was kneeling down and wondering what I broke when I realized I hadn’t hurt myself, not even my knees! I am still shaking my head because I’ve done more damage with less traumatic falls. My favorite jacket was even spared.

      Other than catching up on Etsy orders and book reviews, that has been my week. Hope you enjoyed visiting!

       

      IMG_1664 IMG_1666 IMG_1679 IMG_1683 IMG_1690 IMG_1693 IMG_1706 IMG_1712 IMG_1713 IMG_1714 IMG_1718 IMG_1733 IMG_1732 IMG_1731 IMG_1726 IMG_1727

       

      Comparison between the Zink hAppy and LG pocket printer and Do we ever use a bag for it’s original purpose?

      My answer would have to be no.  I am always multi-purposing bags.Image (2) These two pictures are perfect examples. Both were originally intended to be make-up bags. I, of course, found better uses.

      The green bag is an Orla Kiely bag from Target. I love her products and actually do have one of her make-up cases that does house my make-up.

      This green bag, however, was the perfect size for my Zink hAppy printer. There are two zip compartments on this bag. One that is about 1.5″ in depth on top and then the larger bottom compartment. The top houses the recharging cord perfectly. The bottom compartment houses the Zink hAppy and two of the 2″ wide rolls of film. The case will protect them while traveling.

      (The extra little photo at the upper right is a thank you note that I recently sent to someone who so thoughtfully gave me a plant. No one really wants to ask the recipient exactly what the florist sent, but at the same time, you’d like to know that it was as nice as what was described. This is when one of the little printers comes in handy. I snapped an photo and added some thank you text to the it and printed it. I then adhered it to stationary and mailed it. This would be especially nice to do for those holiday gifts that were mailed to you or your child.)

      Image (4)The second photo shows a little bag I purchased from Talbots online this fall. I love the pink and blue combination; very feminine. It is just large enough to house the LG photo printer and its charging cord. It also has space to add a pack of extra film. While the Zink hAppy is much to large and bulky to tote around on a daily basis, this handy little LG is the perfect size to tuck into my tote bag.

      While I enjoy using both products, I have to admit that I like the convenience of the LG’s size. Both products offer several of the same amenities: collage of photos and adding text. What the LG does not offer and is actually a great selling point for the Zink hAppy is the ability to print on sticker paper. Both products use the same type of film, only the Zink hAppy allows you to peel off the backing and adhere your photo to your choice of medium.

      I keep a travel journal and this allows me to print and stick my photos alongside my commentary of the trip. I use an iPhone 5 and each printer has its own app that makes printing a snap. The Zink hAppy communicates via wireless and the LG uses Bluetooth. The Zink hAppy allows you the option of printing using several different size widths from 1/2″ up to 2″ and I think up to 18″ long. You can also make a banner using this device. When printing from my phone’s photo album I was actually able to print a number of photos without stopping. The photos were automatically clipped so when I cut the long thread, all I needed to do was peel each individual print off of the backing and place it on my book pages. These are options not offered by the LG. Your prints are 2×3″.

      The quality of the printers is actually amazing for little printers. The photos from each of these two devices is comparable so either would be a good purchase. Both use Zero ink technology. The prices are comparable. The Zink hAppy did cost more because I purchased a battery so I did not have to rely on plugging the device in. The print paper is approximately the same for both. The packages contain different amounts of film. The jury is still out on the LG battery life. The Zink hAppy’s battery life last a very long time. I’m not sure if I charged the internal battery on the LG long enough – the light was green – or if it died quickly. The instructions are in another language with no English offered so I’m figuring out this printer with no help. It also does not have a designated on/off button per say; the Zink hAppy does. You definitely know when the printer is on and off.

      *Note here – I just watched several You-Tube videos on this little stinker and it turns out the little lock/unlock button on the side is the on/off. I thought it meant that the device locked to insure the lid did not open.

      The Zink hAppy can be dressed up with different colored skins (purchased separately). The LG comes in white, yellow, and pink.

      I purchased both of these products and the above opinion is my own. If you have questions, please comment below and I’ll try to answer them from my own experience. I purchased my printers from Amazon. These are the links.
      ZINK hAppy Smart App Printer
      ZINK 2 inch zRoll
      ZINK hAppy Rechargeable Battery

      LG PoPo Pocket Photo 2 PD239
      Zink Media Photo Paper

       

      My Life. One Story at a Time. is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small fee is earned when purchases are made at Amazon through the link above. My opinions are my own. This provided in accordance with the FTC 16 CFR, Part 55. 

      Holiday Book Deals – MK McClintock

      Holiday Book Deals 2014_MKMcClintock

       

      I cannot recommend these books enough. I’ve read and reviewed every one of her books and I have not been disappointed!

       

      Enjoy!

      10 Toxic People You Shouldn’t Bring With You Into The New Year

      Théo Gosselin

      Can you believe that it’s already December? This year has flown by in the blink of an eye and we’re on the verge of yet another year — a year full of possibility.

      What you will accomplish next year greatly depends on the people you surround yourself with. Or, in other words, it greatly depends on which people you decide not to surround yourself with.

      When bringing in the new year, be sure not to bring all your garbage with you. Leave these toxic individuals in 2014; you’ll feel much lighter, allowing you to get a great running start on the year to come.

      1. The people who make your life more stressful.

      Stress isn’t necessarily a bad thing — in fact, it’s what you make it out to be. If you believe stress is bad for you, then it will be bad for you. If you use stress as the motivator it is, to motivate you to act, then stress can actually be rather healthy.

      However, you should aim to only be stressed by situations and not by people. If you have people in your life who are constantly managing to stress you out, that’s your mind telling you — and trying to motivate you — to remove them from your life.

      Life is stressful as it is. You don’t need someone making it more so.


      2. The people who use you.

      To be fair, everyone uses everyone — and usually it’s OK. We interact with others because we find that it will benefit us in some way. If we didn’t believe it would, then we wouldn’t find sufficient reason to interact with them.

      Sometimes we find people in our lives who use us in ways that end up hurting us. Most people will use us and by doing so, either maintain or improve our wellbeing.

      Then you have those toxic individuals who use you and leave you worse off, sucking you dry and feeding off you like a parasite.

      These sorts of people have no place in your life; don’t bring them into 2015.


      3. The people who don’t respect you.

      Every respectful person deserves to be respected in return; that’s how respect works. If you find that you have a person or people in your life who have difficulty giving you the respect you give them, tell them to buzz off.

      Have enough respect for yourself to never allow others to disrespect you and remain a part of your life.


      4. The people who always manage to hurt you.

      People can be silly sometimes. The people we keep a part of our lives are the people we care about — or at least, that ought to be the case. Some of these individuals, sadly, end up hurting us and causing us pain.

      The problem is that when others cause us pain, we’re reminded of how much those people mean to us. If they could hurt us emotionally, we must care for them and what they think of us a great deal — so we allow them to remain a part of our lives.

      Often, we’ll even allow these individuals to take up more room. People hurt other people — it’s just the way the world works. But if you have someone in your life who can’t manage to stop hurting you, do yourself a favor and cut that person off.

      Pain is only good if it teaches you a lesson. In this case, the lesson is to stop allowing others to use you as a punching bag.


      5. The people who can’t seem to stop lying to you.

      Everyone lies. In fact, within the first few minutes of meeting a new person, that person is likely to lie to you a handful of times. Most lies are harmless, but that all changes when the people who are lying to you are the people you trust.

      Fill your life with trustworthy people and you’ll be far better off. You can find lies just about anywhere. Finding the truth, on the other hand, is much more rare.


      6. The people who smile to your face and then insult you behind your back.

      These are the scum of the scum, cowards that don’t have the guts to speak their minds. These individuals enjoy pretending to be your friend while telling the rest of the world that you’re a piece of sh*t.

      These people will ruin your reputation and, as most of us now know, reputation matters a whole lot in the world we live in. Only idiots would start a new year with these sorts of individuals in their life.


      7. The people who don’t care about you, but love to pretend they do.

      We’ve all had people in our lives who act like our friends only when it’s convenient for them.

      These toxic individuals are “pseudo friends” — a lot of fun to hang out with, and more than willing to accept help, but when you need their help they’re miraculously nowhere to be found.

      These individuals are especially toxic because they give you the illusion of a safety net. You think you can lean on them for support, but when you reach for their shoulder, you fall over and hit the ground.


      8. The people who drag you back into your old lifestyle.

      Life is only interesting and exciting if it’s constantly progressing. Only when we’re constantly moving forward, constantly improving ourselves and our surroundings, are we able to find contentment and happiness.

      Most people always manage to keep people in their lives who are holding on to the life you once had.

      You have worked hard to progress and make changes, but these individuals prefer life the way it used to be, and do their best to bring you back to the cave you just crawled out of.

      Be wary of these folks, they’re often difficult to pinpoint and always manage to revert the progress you worked so hard to make.


      9. The people who hold you back.

      There’s a fact to life that I’ve grown to accept over the past few years — a fact that isn’t especially pleasant, but nonetheless necessary to accept as truth: Many people in your life, the people you call friends, shouldn’t be a part of your life.

      As time passes, we change as individuals. Our hopes and goals change, often leaving the relationships we have in place outdated.

      Many of the people in your life likely don’t want to live the life you’re building for yourself. Because they’re egocentric, they’ll do their best to create their version of their ideal life and drag you into it.

      Most times, people fail to create the life of their dreams because they surround themselves with people aiming for something entirely different.

      If your goals aren’t aligned, your lives aren’t either.


      10. The people just taking up space.

      Everything in life is limited. Resources are limited. Time is limited. Space is limited. What you can accomplish within a lifetime is limited. We can’t, and never will be able to, have it all.

      This is why you have to be very careful with not only what you choose to do, but with whom you choose to do it with.

      You can only maintain a handful of strong relationships at any given time — you just don’t have the time, energy or mental focus to handle more.

      If you’re filling your life with half-assed individuals, you’re bound to create a half-assed life. If someone isn’t adding to your life, then, by default, they’re taking away from it.

      Leave them in 2014 and build a better inner circle.

       

      Pretty good advice if you ask me.

      Reposted from: http://elitedaily.com/life/toxic-people-new-year/879975/

      Memories of my Dad

      IMG_5629My dad passed away Tuesday evening at the age of 84. He had been struggling for a while, suffering from Alzheimer’s, Dementia, and Parkinson’s. The one person who should have been holding the family together, was more instrumental in tearing it apart so that now we are a family divided.

      The last time I visited with my dad was this summer. He didn’t seem to know who I was. He still looked well and I felt good about my visit with him. That was the last time I saw him. I know that as time marched on, his condition deteriorated and I chose not to visit. While some may view this as a cop-out, I look at it as self-preservation. The family drama also made visits difficult.

      IMG_5613
      My mother, father, younger sister, me and my sister Debbie.

      I lost a sister fifty years ago to Leukemia. I was 5 and Debbie was 7. I remember some things as though it happened yesterday. It was an event in my life that changed me forever. I do not deal very well with losing people. I know that it’s part of life; just not one that I deal with very well.

      I’ve been through a lot of loss in my life, beginning when I was very young. The last, and most devastating loss was during my divorce from my children’s father. That was 18 years ago. Although they are blissfully unaware of what transpired (the therapist said I protected them too much) and how things have progressed to where they are now, it was through manipulation called Parental Alienation Syndrome. That’s the problem with PAS. Children do not normally realize what happened until sometimes many years in to adulthood and they get angry any time it is mentioned. Sometimes much too late to reconcile with the alienated parent.

      IMG_5936
      My Dad‘s parents, my dad, me and my daughter, Ashley

      This is a loss I wake up with every day of my life. While we bury some of our loved ones, grieve, and somehow manage to move on with life, this is different. It is a loss of a loved one every day and you continue to grieve, but not move on.

      My Dad wasn’t perfect. None of us are. But, he was a good dad. He was a State Trooper for many years and because the pay was extremely low, he sometimes worked three jobs to support his family. If I had a “situation” he was there to fight my battles, to defend me. He sewed my broken bra straps. He dried my tears. When I needed a bug collection for science class, he helped me catch the bugs and then he carefully preserved them and mounted them inside of a glass case that he built for me.

      He built two wooden shadow boxes and hinged them together. It had a handle and a latch and looked like a wooden briefcase. Inside each side he mounted styrofoam board with my bugs and installed glass over each side. It was the best in the school. While others mounted their bugs on poster board, my dad helped me mount them in first class. I was teased unmercifully, but like Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors, that bug case was made with more love and attention that most kids get in a lifetime.

      There was a Christmas when I received a little keyboard and I learned to play the Blue Danube. He was so proud. Anyone who came to the house had to listen to me play! I remember my dad singing all of us to sleep with Red River Valley. I also remember him keeping a little jar of lemon drops on the dresser and we were forbidden to enter my parents bedroom. We’d go to bed and listen to make sure they were in the kitchen and one of us would sneak into the room and take a couple of lemon drops. He never said anything about the missing lemon drops, although I’m sure he knew we took them.

      He passed on his love of German Shepherds to me. He accepted me as the person I am. I am proud to have had him as my dad.

      DSCN3684
      State Police Headquarters

      When my dad began feeling the effects of his illness, he mention two things that he wanted to do. One was visit the State Police Academy and the second was to visit his hometown of Olla, Louisiana. My husband (also a retired trooper) made arrangements to take him on a tour of the academy and he had the opportunity to sit in the Colonel‘s chair. He enjoyed his day tremendously and I was so blessed to have this time with him. The second in command presented him with two State Police medallions and when we returned home, I printed a photo of the old academy and of him in the Colonel’s chair and framed it along with the medallions. He loved to look at it everyday and tell the story. I regret that his health soon declined and we never had the chance to take him to Olla.

      My dad had retired from the State Police by the time my second daughter was born, but when my first-born was little, he loved driving up to my house and putting the lights on for her. She would stand in the window and clap her hands. She adored her grandpa and he her. She was the first grandchild and the darling of his eye. He often picked her up and took her home with him.

      IMG_5609My dad was a member of the MPs.

      IMG_8895
      This is my older sister and I with my dad at Christmas around 1959-60.
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      My dad and me about 20 years ago.

      While I miss my dad terribly, I know he is in a better place. A place where he can no longer hear the drama and manipulation around him. A place where he can now hold the child he lost so many years ago. That brings peace to my heart and I feel more happiness than sorrow. I’ve had him all these years and now my sister will have her turn in eternity. That makes me happy.

      Those thoughts will carry me through his wake and funeral. I’ll grieve but it will be bittersweet. Goodbye for now my wonderful Dad. You were here for me when I needed you and I will miss you. Enjoy your life in eternity.

       

      As the days are slowing creeping by, more memories have been floating around and I wanted to add them to this post, mostly for myself, but I also thought you might enjoy them as well.

      When I posted on Facebook – what did we do before Facebook – to let my friends know that my dad had passed away, they began sharing memories of their own, which in turn, brought back memories for me.

      There were times when I was stopped by policemen and didn’t understand why. I was always told I was going too fast, when I was pretty sure I had not been. Years later, I found out the reason. My dad, who was a State Trooper at the time would occasionally come across other law enforcement officer’s children who were speeding. He had a habit of following the kids home or driving them home, if need be, and standing there while they admitted to their parents that they had been driving way too fast, or were inebriated. Turns out, it wasn’t always appreciated by the parents. Also turned out, I was an easy target. I drove to school my senior year and like most places with one highway, it was easy to spot your target. While it bothered me at the time, I’m pretty proud that my dad tried to take the better road by trying to help these fellow classmates out rather than plopping them in jail. I can only imagine the retaliation I would have received if that had happened.

      My high school boyfriend said there were many scary moments with my dad (I think I may remember more than my fair share – blushing here) but the one he really remembers is when he hit a parked car as he was driving past my house – about 15 miles away from where his father thought he was.

      Another school mate admitted that my dad had stopped him for speeding and he must have been singing my praises (he was a friend) because being my friend got him out of a ticket.

      I guess those were the good old days with such simple stories. My little group of friends and I were the goody two-shoes as the saying goes. Our idea of trouble was stopping in a curve on the “back road” and running into the graveyard to touch a grave. Of course, it was Deadman’s Curve where the groom was racing to see why his bride had been delayed and they crashed head-on. Doesn’t everyone have a story like this?

      My dad’s CB handle was the Toy Maker. He carried his wooden toys that he made in a box in his police unit. When I was expecting my first daughter, he built a cradle for her. It is a work of art. He later made replicas for both of my daughter’s for their dolls. I have a toy train that runs around my Christmas tree each year.

      I’m not calling this post finished because I know there are lots of memories that I will remember. Hope you enjoyed some of them.

       

      The No-Stress Holiday Organizer An All-in-One Guide to Planning and Recording your holidays

      About the Book:

      3-month calendar for Nov – Dec – Jan filled with:

      * To-do Lists
      * Budget Guides
      * Decoration Trackers
      * Guest Lists/Contact Info
      * Party Planning Breakdown
      * Menu Planners
      * Grocery Lists
      * Cooking Schedules
      * Recipes
      * and MORE

      Purchase on AMAZON

      Book Details
      Authors: Cedar Fort Staff
      Release Date: August 2014
      Publisher: Plain Sight
      Genre: Holiday

      Get organized this holiday season! Make you plans for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s as enjoyable for you as it is for your guests. From calendars and checklists to budget sheets and journal pages, this book saves you the time and money to enjoy family traditions old and new – year after year!

      No-Stress-Holiday-Organizer-blog-tour

      “The No-Stress Holiday Organizer” blog tour schedule:

      November 1: The Hungry Family at Home
      November 2: Books Devoured
      November 3: Practical Frugality • I Love to Read and Review Books
      November 4: Literologie
      November 5: Traveling Adventures of a Farm Girl
      November 6: My Life One Story at a Time
      November 7: Live to Read
      November 8: Mel’s Shelves
      November 9: Crossroad Reviews • Read For Your Future • Book Hounds
      November 10: My Reading Room
      November 11: Readalot • The Author’s Hideaway • Why Not? Because I Said So • LDS Women’s Book Review
      November 12: My Book Addiction and More
      November 13:
      November 14: Blooming with Books
      November 15: A Casual Reader’s Blog • The Things I Love Most • Wishful Endings

      My Thoughts:

      I am already an organized person, but I’m always out to learn a few more tricks. With Halloween gone and the three next big holidays of the year looming in the foreground, everyone is wondering how to get it all done and get it done efficiently. The No-Stress Holiday Organizer book will certainly help to keep even the most disorganized person on track.

      Featuring a three-month at a glance planning calendar is an excellent idea. It is quite easy to overbook activities or to lose track of how many days remaining before the big event. This will help to ensure that the holidays flow without too much anxiety. Like checklist? This book will definitely have you doing the happy dance.

      Broken down into holidays, it offers you a no-stress plan to keep you on track with shopping and planning and execution. As great as cell phones are these days, not everyone is using one to chart their grocery list. The No-Stress Holiday Organizer offers those individuals a list to record their items that follows the layouts of most grocery stores. This will eliminate traipsing across the store and even forgetting items.

      The book also offers help with budgeting and with the holidays, who can’t use a little extra help in that department? Do you think of doing an inventory of the items that you only use at holiday time? Do you remember what was broken or needed to be replaced?

      Along with a Christmas To Do list, the book offers a list of those forgotten people – the postman, etc. and offers an example of how much is appropriate to spend.

      It is a great book even for the ultra-organized person like me. I have to admit I took the book on as a challenge and was pleasantly surprised to pick up a few tips along the way.

      Is there someone in your life who’s a little bit on the unorganized side? Look no further for the perfect holiday gift!

      Purchase on AMAZON

      Holiday Planning begins with pretty planner pages!

      I was feeling the holiday spirit today and thought why not decorate a few pages in my May Book and share with others. Sometimes you look at your planner pages and think, this needs a little pizzaz, a little life breathed into it. I am hoping to inspire you.

      As you have seen in many posts on my blog, I use a planner. I am a person who loves to plot my days. In fact, I need the To Do lists to keep me focussed. If not, I tend to just wander around and do all sorts of other things rather than the things I really need to accomplish that particular day.

      Don’t think you have to spend a lot of money in order to be organized; a simple notebook will do. I have the Day-timer and inserts – which I adore. I have an Erin Condren – which I’m not particularly fond of. The layout just doesn’t suit me. I found a way to make each of these systems work for me, which shows you how false the claim “I can’t find a system that works for me” is. I know some will disagree, but they won’t change my mind. You first have to figure out your organization style, how your mind works, and what you are capable of doing with that information. Then you choose a system that will work for you and not against you, setting you up for failure.

      If all you do is take a sheet of paper and draw columns and make lists, you’ll find your day more productive. If you have kids, a job, and home life, make three columns. Write what needs to be done in the appropriate column along with a timeframe. You don’t need a fancy planner. Throw a few stickers and little washi tape on the page and now it’s pretty.

      As I said, I have tried many systems and they all work but my favorite is just a little notebook. My one obsession is graph paper. It works with my personality. I know this so I use it. I also use a month at a glance calendar. I record appointments, bills, etc. on the month at a glance calendar. This is the calendar that I throw into my bag when I leave the house. I have all the important information with me so if I have to make an appointment or check and see if we have a free day to add an activity, this calendar will tell me. The To Do lists are left at home in the book.

      I normally sit down either Saturday or Sunday and transfer everything for the upcoming week to my graph book. I decorate it if that’s what I have in mind to do and I write my lists for the week. Of course, as the days go by, things will be added, but I now have my week set up. I use a page for each day (this allows for my HUGE handwriting and decorating) and I divide a page in half for Saturday and Sunday. You may need an entire page for Saturday and Sunday and that’s okay, I don’t.

      I make my own stickers and I love using them. They can all be found in my Etsy store (www.etsy.com/shop/SouthernCharmPlanner) or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/groups/SouthernCharmPlannerAccessories  Also check out the planner group at http://www.facebook.com/groups/SouthernCharmPlanners We love posting pictures of our planner pages and you can always find tips on organizing and supplies. You can find stickers and washi tape at Michaels, Walmart, Hobby Lobby and any number of stores that sale craft supplies as well as on-line. Just start googling.

      I am posting some pages and I’ll tell you how I achieved the look.

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      This is Thanksgiving. There was no need to fill it up with loads of stickers and such (although I did put a few indians and pilgrims). The orange plaid background on both pages is scrapbooking paper. I cut it to a two-inch width and then ran it through a sticker maker (Xyron). I applied it to the page. On top of that I layered one of my To Do list from my shop. I added a few Thanksgiving stickers and I was done. I still have plenty of space to jot down notes about the day or add more to my lists.

      FullSizeRender (3)

      FullSizeRender

      My Black Friday consists of decorating my house for Christmas so I’ll be filling up the empty space on Friday pretty quickly once the day gets closer.

      I also decorated a couple of days in December. I couldn’t wait to use some of the Christmas stickers I made, and I love Christmas.

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      I wish the pictures were a little brighter because the colors definitely are! Below is how the stickers look in the Erin Condren planner. Christmas stickers

      FullSizeRender (4)

       

      I achieved this look by using scrapbooking paper and cutting it to length and running it through my sticker maker. I adhered it to the page and then added a To Do list on top. I really like the layered look. It’s festive. This is a day that bills are due so i added the stickers that represent the gas bill, water, cell phone, and cable bills. I also have a meeting that afternoon and the page wouldn’t be complete without a nutcracker or two. FullSizeRender (5)

      Cookie Swap will be coming up the beginning of December so I added a little sticker for baking and two To Do lists as there will be plenty to do before the party on Sunday.

      I hope these pictures give you a little inspiration to break out of the humdrum and add a few stickers to your planner. It will make you smile and I guarantee you will be hooked. You’ll never look at a planner page the same.

      I would love to hear if you are a planner. What system do you use and how is it working for you? Do you decorate? Do you have any questions about planning or organizing? Be sure to leave a comment.

      Thanks for visiting today!

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      When life goes arwy…

      If you are a regular follower of my blog, you know that I haven’t posted anything personal in a quite a while – as in months and months!

       

      Life has taken on a life of its own and I’ve been along for the ride. In August, two sister-in-laws passed away within six days of each other from cancer. One was a very close friend. She chose to cut off contact with family and friends when she was diagnosed and as a result, I did not have the chance to tell her how much she meant to me. I’m sure she knew, but it was something I needed for closure. I understood her reasons, we were a lot alike. The closure was for me, but she was more important so it’s something I’ve come to accept.

       

      I was asked by her daughters to give her eulogy so I did have the opportunity to tell her just how much she meant. It was my goodbye and I am thankful to have had that chance to say goodbye.

       

      My own father is aging and has been in hospice care for a year. It’s funny, and not the ha ha kind, how illness of a parent can bring out the worst in some siblings. All hell broke loose in my family last year and the family ties have unfortunately been severed; two siblings and four siblings. The one good thing that has come out of the tragedy is an actual relationship with two siblings and a nephew that I didn’t have before. I guess there is sometimes a ray of sunshine between the storm clouds.

       

      Moving forward a couple of months to this week. This week was the week from hell as they saying goes. I am on the local planning commission and found out the hard way that someone (the V-chair, I’m chair) I trusted and kept in the loop with every decision or idea I had to improve the commission turned tail. That was quite unexpected and left me stunned. So, I had to deal with betrayal and lies.

       

      A standard Waste Management Inc. front-loading...
      A standard Waste Management Inc. front-loading garbage truck in San Jose, California (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

      Yesterday, Hubby and I had doctor appointments in the city. On the way in, we came upon an accident scene that just disturbed me beyond words. On our side of a four-lane highway was a garbage truck. In the other lane sat an almost completely demolished small SUV. The engine was laying about forty feet away and the highway was littered with debris as though there had been an explosion. The car was torn apart. I’ve never seen anything like it before. The entire passenger side of the car as well as the front of the car was smashed. I’m not sure of injuries and I’m not a gawker. I did look as we passed, more out of shock than curiosity. There didn’t seem to be anyone in the front seats, but there were two people speaking to  someone in the back passenger seat. By the looks of the damage, that person was not doubt injured and trapped inside the car. As I said, it was very disturbing. I can only pray that they come out of the accident with minor injuries. On the way home, we saw the garbage truck hooked to a wrecker, but there was no visible damage.

       

      This morning, we were invited to a marriage validation. That is the term the Catholic church uses when people who have been married outside of the church have their marriage blessed in the church. It was a wonderful ceremony and the priest is one of my favorite and he did a wonderful job acknowledging the ten years that they’ve already been married and how they can now strengthen their marriage. Their little girl was so excited about the ceremony. It was a nice way to start the day.

       

      Tonight, we attended a Grant A Wish banquet sponsored by the Louisiana State Police. Besides Hubby being a retired trooper, one of my best friends little boy received a family trip to Disneyworld. To watch these special children and hear their stories just blesses the heart. My friend’s little girl whispered to me that everyone was crying except she and her sister. She is my little mini-me and seven years old. She is just precious and spending the evening with such a wonderful family was a great way to end the day.

      English: Louisiana State Police Crown Victoria...
      English: Louisiana State Police Crown Victoria Patrol Car (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

      That’s been a brief synopsis of my life as of late. My plans are to begin writing a little about what I’m up to every few days. I’m trying to write a book or maybe I should say I’m trying to find time to write a book. I have an Etsy shop where I sell planner accessories. I plan on kidnapping Hubby and running away to the mountains again soon. That last trip just wasn’t long enough.

       

      Thanks for stopping by and following my blog and entering the giveaways! Until next time…

       

      Books I’m Grateful I Read Giveaway Hop

      Books-I'm-Grateful-I-Read-Hop

       

      I don’t know that there is just one book that I’m grateful

      that I’ve read. I am grateful for every book that I’ve read and because

      of that reason, I’m giving away an Amazon Gift Card.

      Be grateful for every book you read.

      There’s just one requirement to enter – click the follow button at the top of my blog.

      For a second entry, just for fun, follow me on Instagram at

      @SouthernCharmPlanner

      Thanks for stopping by and hop on for more prizes!

       

      his is a Blog Hop!


      54.

       

      A Southern Porch…

      IMG_7489
      A Southern porch

      This is where life happens in the South, or at least some of it.

      My porch is not a fancy porch; it is simply my go-to place, my sanctuary; a place to “catch a breeze”.

      There is a swing at one end where I sit while my thoughts find form. For the hot summer days that sometimes reach into the high 90s, there’s a Southern Breeze maker – a fan. Here in the South, we make our own breeze more often than not.

      IMG_7488
      A Southern breeze maker

      The porch is in need of washing for as soon as the mildew has been scrubbed away, it begins to form again. The floor shows the marks of Sentry, a pet, taking a running start and flying off the end in an attempt to avoid landing in the azaleas that line the porch. More marks are noticeable from Calypso, another pet, chasing her tail. Taking up space is a plant bench that my husband made for a daughter. I’m sure she’ll be by at some point to reclaim it, but until then I’ve piled it high with plants; plants I forget to water.

      IMG_6961

      Two rockers take up residence on the front porch, their red surface marred by the chew marks made by Calypso as a puppy. They sport by contrast, fading yellow putty in need of paint. Across the front steps is a double gate; installed in an attempt to keep our two German Shepherds, Ryka and Calypso, off of the porch. Most days, it swings in the breeze as I am not diligent about securing it. I find it comforting to look up and see one, if not both of my dogs, napping at the front door in an attempt to be near me. Some days, all I see is a blur, as they have left their mark, nose prints on the glass, as they have sat watching my every move inside.

      German Shepherds
      Ryka and Calypso along with the smudges
      German Shepherd
      Let sleeping dogs lie

      We have plans for the front porch. Much discussion flowed about the pros and cons of putting the screening on the inside or the outside of the railings. The porch railings have gone up without the screen. Louvers will eventually be built and installed at either end of the porch for privacy. Landscape will be cut back and the steps widened to accommodate the double screen doors that will be installed.

      West German Shepherd
      Calypso

       

      Until that time, the front porch is a place to sit and relax. It is a place to dream of the future and contemplate the mistakes of the past. It is a place to drift in time as we Southerners are known to do.

      West German Shepherd
      Ryka

      Golf Balls are Female by Robert Knox (Amazon Gift Card Giveaway, Blitz)

      Pump Up Your Book is pleased to bring you Robert C. Knox’s Golf Balls are Female book blitz July 1 – 15!

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      PUYB Inside the Book

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      Golf Balls are FemaleTitle: Golf Balls are Female
      Author: Robert Knox
      Publisher: iUniverse
      Pages: 282
      Genre: Humourous/Fiction
      Format: Kindle

      Purchase at AMAZON

      I realize that anyone sufficiently intrigued by the title so as to open the cover of Golf Balls Are Female has probably already conjured up some ideas as to its contents. To end the suspense, I will tell you that Golf Balls Are Female is simply about the three greatest pleasures in a man’s life-drinking, golf, and the OU-Texas football game. Unfortunately, life requires a lot of living in between these most gratifying of pursuits, so Golf Balls Are Female is also about public humiliation, immaturity, emotional desperation, broken engagements, deceit, stupidity, sexually transmitted diseases, cybersex, lovesick lunacy, divorce, one-night stands, heartache, and partaking of the world’s oldest profession. Although there are numerous incidents that stretch to the limits of plausibility, the book is based on real life stories. In fact, bona fide concerns about personal retaliation have convinced me to actually leave out some of the more incriminating details. Some readers may find our humor irreverent, others may deem our lifestyles to border on misogynistic, both would be correct. However, those that read beyond the outrageous behavior will find that Golf Balls Are Female is really about friendship. Most importantly, this book answers one of modern man’s most enduring questions-golf balls are definitely female!

      amazon

       

      PUYB Meet the Author

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      Robert C. Knox is a recognized expert in the field of ground water contamination and has won several national awards for excellence in engineering education. He is an avid in-line skater and, currently, a nineteen handicapper.

      PUYB Giveaway

      Robert is giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

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      Terms & Conditions:
      • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
      • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 Amazon Gift Certificate or Paypal Cash.
      • This giveaway begins July 1 and ends on July 15.
      • Winners will be contacted via email on Thursday, July 17 .
      • Winner has 48 hours to reply.

      Good luck everyone!

      ENTER TO WIN!

      You may currently access the Rafflecopter here: http://www.pumpupyourbook.com/2014/06/15/pump-up-your-book-presents-golf-balls-are-female-by-robert-knox-book-blitz-win-a-25-amazon-gift-card/

      My Life in Review – The Traveling Midori

      I have been a member of a group on Facebook for almost a year now. It is a group of people who are enamoured with Midoris, and to celebrate the year anniversary of the group and to promote friendship, one of the members came up with the idea of traveling Midoris. The concept behind the group was that there would x number of groups – depending upon the number of interested parties – and each group would have its own hand-made Midori. This Midori would take a year-long trip to be documented by each member of each group as they in turn hosted the Midori for a week in their lives.

      I think the group ended up with approximately ten groups of ten people. These Midoris are traveling world-wide at this very moment, and to me, that is exciting. I am part of the Pioneer Dorian group and I am experiencing my week right now! Each of these Midoris have been hand-crafted by the members of the group and are works of art in their own right. Each person hosting the Midori is encouraged to document their life and add a little of themselves to the book, giving each book its own unique history. It will take a year for each Midori to complete its journey. At that time, the books will be assigned to a new group and begin a new year of travel.

      It is very interesting to flip through the pages and see what other’s have chosen to leave of themselves. Some of the participants are artists, some are writers, some lead busy lives, and some lead quiet lives. The journey of each book is also being documented on Instagram with the hashtags #travelingdori #pioneerdorian and others, each representing the name of the group’s Midori. You’ll find us on Twitter and on Facebook in the Traveling Dori group.

      This is my story:

      I received a package in the mail on Saturday, June 7, 2014. I wasn’t expecting the package as we are not warned ahead of time. It is a surprise for each of us when the Midori will arrive. Even as I opened the envelope, and peered inside, I was still not certain what I was seeing. It was when I pulled out a leather sleeve and looked inside that I realized I was the next recipient of the Pioneer Dorian. As I sat down and began to thumb through the different books, I was taken by surprise by the artistic talents of the person before me. It gave me pause, and I began to picture what I might leave behind for the next person.

      Where the person before me was surely a free spirit – drawing and writing in a random fashion – I am not. I shall leave my mark upon the Pioneer Dorian in a much different way – a way that speaks to me, as the next recipient of this piece of history will no doubt do. I will decorate my pages with stickers and washi tape. I will add a ribbon marker to mark my place, pink, as that is my favorite color.

      While some are whimsical, I am not. If I contribute art, my mark will be a carefully thought-out Zentangle with precise lines made with intention.

      As I turn the pages of this wonderful book, this traveling Midori, I will bring order to it for the short time it is with me – then, I shall send it forward where it will be transformed once again.

      I hope you enjoyed the story and enjoy the pictures of the traveling Pioneer Dorian – next stop – Georgia, USA!

      Wednesdays in a Southern Kitchen – Crab Cakes

      Okay – it’s not Wednesday, but this week has been quite busy and I couldn’t get the post ready on time.

      photo 1My highly anticipated and waited for Crab Cake Recipe. Trawling season opened here in Southern Louisiana a couple of weeks ago and fresh shrimp have been abundant at our home – the same with fresh crab. I’ve made this recipe with fresh crabmeat and with fresh chopped boiled shrimp. Both are scrumptous. I hope you enjoy.

      This is a simple recipe that I tweaked and if you are adventurous, add additional seasonings such as bell pepper or onions. I like to keep it simple in order to “savor the flavor” of the seafood.

      Whisk together in a medium size bowl:

      1/2 cup of Hellman’s mayonnaise

      1 large egg

      1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

      1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

      1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce

      Gently fold in 1 pound of lump crab meat (or 1 pound of boiled shrimp, coarsely chopped)

      Fold in 1 cup of crushed crackers (I use Townhouse because us of the flavor – use Townhouse, Saltines, Ritz – your preference)

      I use a large cookie scoop to form the crab cakes the same size. Line a cookie sheet with wax paper and place the scooped balls on it, flattening slightly. If necessary, use a second sheet of wax paper for another layer. Place the covered cookie sheet in the freezer for about a half an hour to an hour.

      Heat approximately 1/4 to 1/3 inch of oil in the bottom of a skillet (I do not deep fry my crab cakes). Place the crab cakes in the hot oil and cook 4-5 minutes on either side until lightly browned and crispy. It doesn’t take long as the ingredients are mostly cooked to begin with.

      Serve as entre’ with a salad or on a bun.

      I have never baked them, although I’m sure they would be good that way.

      I’ve also been enjoying fresh shrimp salads for the past two weeks. I’m not very adventurous when it comes to veggies and to be honest – I’m being blamed for the deluge of rain we’ve been experiencing as of late – it must be because I’m actually eating veggies!

      My salads are very simple to assemble and are quite delicious.

      photo 1 (1)Chopped Hearts of Romaine lettuce

      Fresh boiled and peeled shrimp

      Chopped tomatoes

      Chopped cucumber

      Craisens (wonderful sweet and chewy – adds texture)

      Shredded cheese

      Chopped boiled egg

      Salad dressing of your choice

      I have picked up Hubby’s habit of chopping salad ingredients into bite-sized pieces and eating my salad with a spoon. I know – sounds weird, but I assure you, much more enjoyable! And, besides being a picky eater, I also have a texture thing going on; this allows me to eat a salad, and that’s a good thing (especially when we need rain).

      I couldn’t leave you without just a few pictures of Ryka and Calypso, so without further adieu, here they are this week.

      photo 5
      Ryka enjoying the sun. Calypso chasing her tail.
      photo 4
      Calypso after the chase. Ryka grateful she wasn’t trampled during the chase as no one is safe when Calypso winds up.
      photo 4 (1)
      Calypso likes to put her ball in her bowl like my last shepherd (Sentry). Just doesn’t want anyone else to get it. (Like that’s gonna happen.)
      photo 3 (1)
      Ryka likes to lay down to eat. She’s getting very lazy, especially with the Southern Louisiana heat.
      photo 3
      Ryka decided she liked dryer balls. And, then I couldn’t find them. After seeking help on Facebook, we found more on Amazon.
      photo 2
      Porch time. Safe from Calypso’s tail-chasing.

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

      For those of you not in a fishing state, this is a trawl boat on opening day off of Grand Island, Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico.
      For those of you not in a fishing state, this is a trawl boat on opening day off of Grand Island, Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico.

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

      I hope you enjoyed the recipe and if you decide to fix it, please let me know what you thought.

       

       

       

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      My Life in Review – Never let it be said that life is dull

      Never let it be said that life around me is dull; I’ll just make my own fun. Yesterday was mow the yard day. Trawling season here in South Louisiana opened so Hubby was occupied for the day and I was looking for something to do.

      photo 1 (3)photo 5 (1)

      photo 5 (2)Ryka and Calypso love to ride the new mower so after all was said and done (the yard mowed) it was have some fun time. I pulled up to the kennel and cut the blade, and they both came running out, actually stumbling over each other in their haste to see who was going to climb up on the mower first. This surprised me as Ryka doesn’t seem to trust me. She’ll ride with Hubby, but is quite hesitant if given the opportunity to ride with me. Kind of makes you wonder…but Calypso? Now, that is a throw-back to the 1960s. She is the wild child and doesn’t think twice about anything. She leaps without looking. It’s all about fun.

      photo 4 (1)

      Now, you may think I’m a little crazy because how do I know what my dogs are thinking? Clearly, if that’s the case, you don’t have a dog (and not everyone wants a dog). Ryka is the regal one. She sits like a queen, acts like a queen, gets treated like a queen. Of course, she’s earned it. She came to us fully trained, but sadly only listens part of the time. When I call her, she sometimes just sits there and looks at me. Just like a teenager! I’ll tell her to “come” again and she’ll put her head down and give me the sad eye look. Generally, the third time I call her, she’ll slowly drag her body up – like it’s a huge chore – and walk on over, hoping there will at least be food. On the other hand, if she thinks there’s a belly rub coming, she’ll flip over in a nano second.

      Calypso – what can I say? She’s the wild child. She’s half Ryka’s age at 3 and has Doggie ADD. She loves spring – she loves any season. She loves the cold and wet and mud in the winter. She loves the cool days of fall and spring. But, she especially loves the summer months with swimming and bugs. Actually, she loves water period. She loves chasing anything that flies by. I love sitting on the porch swing watching her run back and forth. If you’ve ever watched a cutting horse, you’ll understand. She is very graceful. She runs and cuts and heads back and spins on a dime. Shepherds are very powerful animals and to watch her run and gain speed and cut is actually quite a beautiful dance. What is particularly interesting to watch is when a mosquito hawk (dragon-fly) lands on the chain link fence. She does a series of tapping with her back legs until she gets her position just right and then up she goes on those hind legs and grabs the bug without ever touching the fence – that is grace. Then, in a New York second she’ll bite your finger trying to get her doggie cookie – we’re working on that one. I can feed her ham or cheese and she is quite careful about nibbling it out of my fingers as not to bite (I’m constantly trying their patience on that one so they remember not to bite the hand that feeds them), but if I have a dog cookie, she’ll take my fingers off in the process. I’m still scratching my head on that one.

      photo 2 (4)photo 2 (3)photo 3 (2)photo 4 (2)

      Signs have been popping up all over the parish (we are in Louisiana) in the shape of forks. It’s all about tourism. I was at a meeting focusing on our Parish Comprehensive Plan (I’m on the Planning Commission) and there was talk about a new fork that had popped up. To us, who live here on the bayou, it depicts a little humor. It is so often the answer when someone is asking directions – “It’s up the bayou” or “It’s down the bayou.” It is a phrase I even find myself using it quite a bit. I’m a transplant to the area and never gave it a second thought until one of my daughters asked me – “How do you know what is up the bayou and what is down the bayou?” I guess it’s one of those relevant things – if you are here, that’s up and that’s down. Move a little and what was up is now down, or visa versa. Anyway, I thought you might enjoy the sign and a little trivia. This particular sign can be found once you exit the interstate, (which crosses Bayou Lafourche) and you circle around to Louisiana Hwy. 1 which runs with the bayou. Instead of Raceland or Lockport, it just simply states “Up the Bayou” or “Down the Bayou.” You have only those two choices.

      308 Forkphoto 1 (4)

      I did have a little excitement this week. I attended a meeting and then headed off to grocery shop. My habit is to put my keys in my pocket when I exit my vehicle and then lock the doors. That way, I NEVER forget my keys. There’s that word I NEVER try to use because it always comes back to bite you – NEVER! About half way through shopping I happened to run my hand down my side and realized in a panic that I didn’t feel my keys. At that point I tore my bag apart searching, hoping frantically that I had tossed them inside. No keys.

      I did my best to calm down and then began praying in earnest. I completed my shopping and retraced my steps back to the truck. No keys. At this point I was beginning to panic. I stepped up to the window and there on the console were my keys and after my initial excitement, I realized they were locked in and I was locked out. And, to make it worse, Hubby was at a meeting 40 miles away and that person had picked him up at our house – 15 miles “down the bayou” and that is where his set of keys to my truck were. Not a good situation and to make matters worse, it was 6:00, the time his meeting was set to begin. I was quickly adding up the miles involved to get my truck opened – 40 + 15 “down” + 15 “up” + 40 back to the meeting = I had better find another way into the truck.

      photo (1)Then I remembered – ONSTAR!!! Then, I thought oh no, how do I call OnStar? I am one of those people – the one who is so organized, she panics that maybe that is the one time the information won’t be found. I did have my phone and I called. The kind lady asked how could she help and of course, being me, I told her my keys were locked in my truck and I was locked out of the truck. The whole process took less than three minutes. I gave her the needed information and she told me to step away from the truck and the locks popped up. Magic! Needless to say, there was a whole lot of prayer thanking going on.

      I’m sure those weren’t all of my adventures, but I think I’ve blocked the rest out. See you next week!

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      My Life in Review – last week

      I was sitting here trying to remember what I’ve done since last week – haven’t we all had that particular LARGE lapse in memory? And, then, as I am prone to do when working at my dining room table, I looked up and started gazing out the front door. Then, it hit me, at least what I did yesterday.

      photo 5Hubby and I spent the bulk of the day outside yesterday working in the yard. It was his birthday and that is one of his favorite things to do – yard work. I know – right? That might (probably, definitely) would NOT be my first choice, but what the hay! Our driveway is lined with crepe myrtles that are sprouting buds, and a few blooms are starting to open, which means they are beginning to droop even lower across the driveway. Driving down the driveway is becoming quite the hazard, especially in our new truck. It’s like getting hit in the head with branches as you drive.

      Southern Living posts an article yearly about people like Hubby – only he’s not as bad as he used to be now that the trees are huge – they refer to them as bushwhackers. Yep! That’s what I call them too. He will go out to trim a few wayward branches and the next thing you know, we need the tractor with the trailer to haul all of the branches that have been “trimmed”. That was the kind of day Hubby was having yesterday. He trimmed the twenty or so crepe myrtles down the drive and then went on to the magnolia tree and the red maples, and the pecan trees. Calypso and Ryka were doing their best to stay out from under the fallen branches as they picked shady spots under the very trees he was trimming.

      I thought I would get in the action by trimming the azaleas around the front porch. That is a yearly chore we perform after blooming season. The bushes are hardy and grow quickly. Famous last thoughts of mine were something akin to don’t cut the electric cord. I think I managed to trim about four feet before I caught the cord – right after I almost caught my leg. So much for that. Hubby took a break and fixed the cord and after wrapping it in miles of electrical tape, decided it would be safer if I held the cord while he trimmed the azaleas. Smart man!

      photo 4 (1) photo 3 (1)You might think that’s the only mishap adventure of the day – sadly (shaking head) it wasn’t. You must admit – I must be married to a Saint in the making. He hooked up the tractor to one of the trailers and was working his way down the drive, stopping to load up the branches when I, otherwise known as “Lucy”, decided to lend a hand. It’s been a while since I’ve driven the tractor and you would think it’s like getting back on a bike – well, maybe for someone else! (Did I tell you that I was banned from driving the tractor after I hit the barn?)

      I was making the turn off the drive into the front yard and turned too sharp and came to a grinding halt. What did you expect? Please don’t tell me this surprises you! Do you not follow my blog and adventures? Once again, Hubby to the rescue and after several different attempts (with me giving direction of course) he managed to move the tractor and trailer into a straighter path. This took a little doing because of the deep threads on the tires of the tractor. I never do anything half way. After moving the tractor along, he then filled in the divots left by the tires. He’s so used to my misadventures that he doesn’t even shake his head, although I would bet the house there was some fancy eye-rolling going on under that cap of his.

       

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      Always an adventure with Lucy – My Life in Review

      Last week was pretty uneventful. Monday was just that – Monday. Slow-moving, can’t get going Monday.

      Tuesday was mow the grass day. I guess that was a little eventful. If you read my post about the Hatfield’s and McCoy’s you’ll see what i’m talking about. No doubt this week will hold more of that excitement. The neighbors seem to have a long attention span.

      Wednesday, a friend and I went shopping. It was more an errand day for both of us. She had pickup and returns. I had pickups and, well – no returns. She’s a hoot just simply because she puts up with me. She “gets” me. She called to let me know of all the different places where we needed to make stops because she knows I need to make a list and get used to the idea – Type A personality along with a splash of social anxiety thrown in there. Then, as soon as she picks me up, she laughs and adds another stop. We both laugh when I pull out my phone and add it to the list – then I’m all good.

      One of our stops was Lowes. Lowes must have been clearing out the current stock of flowers in order to make room for their new stock coming in because we really made off like bandits with $1 flowers and mandevillas for half off. It would have been hard to figure out who was a worse influence on who. I searched until I found the perfect one and announced that my daughters were buying me a plant for Mother’s Day. All of my friends – and I guess anyone reading my blog, know that my daughters suffer from Parental Alienation and weren’t buying me anything, much less speaking to me. So, I buy my own gifts. Anyway, it didn’t take her long to announce that her kids were buying her a plant too. So, the back of the van filled up pretty quickly between the two of us.

      We finished up in the garden section of Lowes and headed inside to pick up a few things. I am going to be painting my office soon and needed to gather up a few paint supplies. I also managed to run over a poor man in one of the aisles. Don’t worry! I apologized – profusely – but sometimes people just don’t care if you are apologizing. It was an accident – sadly enough, it wasn’t my last for the day.

      We had stops at Target (where I managed NOT to hit anyone) and headed to Hobby Lobby. My intentions were to get a plant hangar, but you know about intentions. I came away with NO plant hangar but instead, some really cute garden ornaments – really cute ones! I was headed for the paper department to look for a pack of paper and my brother called. Me, a buggy, and a phone call – not a good combination. This time I ran smack into a post. At least it wasn’t a person this time.

      After lunch and a stop at the mall (where I racked up on Bath and Body Works products – buy 3, get 3 for free) we headed for the last stop of the day – SAMs wholesale. Would you believe they let me have a buggy? I guess my reckless driving reputation hadn’t reach them yet.

      A few items that I had ordered from Amazon arrived last week that I am loving. Someone recently told me about Zentangle – my definition of it is art for people who can’t draw. It is so much fun! I ordered a couple of books for ideas and a basket to put my daily things in such as my Midori, my art books and tablet, and a book I am reading as well as my Kindle. It helps to keep my desk clear for other things. I may even add my knitting to it. It has loads of room in and hold quite a bit.

       

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      The basket came in a nice velcro plastic bag.
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      Velcro opening
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      The basket
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      The basket with my daily supplies

       

      I also picked up an Orla Kiely makeup bag at Target that I love. Her brand is always so well-organized. What makes all the difference in this bag is that there is a separate zip compartment on top for things like brushes and eye liner and lip liner, etc. That’s the problem I’ve always found with other makeup bags. One huge compartment and that just doesn’t work for me. Plus, I just love the designs. They are really bright and fun prints. I will leave links to the products down below.

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      Top compartment
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      Bottom compartment

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      I also changed a few things in my fake Midori (my Codori made by Cody Williams). I was using magnetic clips to mark my pages in my little books and it was getting a little bulky. Plus, I wanted a couple of charms – I like my pretty pretty. I had some pink ribbon and added a heart charm to mark my Gratitude Journal and was looking around (more like rooting around in my desk drawer) and came across Sentry‘s tags. Sentry was the German shepherd I had before Ryka and Calypso. I took one of her heart tags and put it on another piece of ribbon to use as a marker for another journal. I loved that dog and seeing the charm everyday brings back good memories.

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      My “CoDori” It is navy blue with Live Life stamped on the front.
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      Sentry’s tag

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      Calypso
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      Hubby and Ryka
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      I seem to always take pictures in the evening. This is in the morning.

       

      That’s my week in review. How was your week?

      Product Links:

      Reisenthel Market Basket – Baroque Ruby Reisenthel Carry Bag Market Basket

      Zentangle Basics, Expanded Workbook Edition – Zentangle Basics, Expanded Workbook Edition: A Creative Art Form Where All You Need is Paper, Pencil & Pen

      Orla Kiely Garden Bag Collection – http://www.target.com/p/orla-kiely-garden-bag-collection/-/A-15013377

      May Designs – http://www.maydesigns.com/

       

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      5 Ways to Deal With Dinner Party Guests Who Won’t Put Down Their Phones

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      It’s hard to think about dinner parties before the age of smartphones and social media without a bit of nostalgic wonder. Did we really all sit around tables looking at each other rather than our tiny screens? We just ate the food instead of Instagramming it first?

      As we have become more accustomed to being constantly connected, the etiquette around cell phone use in social situations has relaxed, which means it’s not unheard of to invite friends over for a nice dinner, only to have them spend the evening constantly checking their phones. What’s a frustrated host to do? I spoke with a couple experts to get their advice on different ways to deal with those dinner party guests who seem more interested in screen time than face time.

      First, I wondered if I was just being old-fashioned for thinking that a dinner party is a time for socializing with friends, not Facebook. Unless I am expecting an urgent call or email, I prefer to put my phone away and keep it away. (Although I am not immune! The top photo is actually Ariel and me Instagramming photos from a Kitchn retreat dinner party, a brief phone interlude in an otherwise face-to-face socializing evening, I swear.)

      But I know many people who have no issue with friends using their phones constantly at social gatherings. When I feel stung by someone who answers a text instead of the question I just asked her, am I being overly sensitive?

      No, says Molly Watson, the etiquette expert behind the advice blog Ask a (Sensible) Midwesterner. She agrees that cell phone use at a dinner party sends an off-putting message to everyone present.

      “It’s rude. Whether or not it’s what the person intends, it clearly communicates that the person using it has better, more interesting things to attend to.”

      And Brendan Francis Newnam, co-host of the radio show The Dinner Party Download, agrees.

      “It’s no more realistic to think that people won’t look at their cell phones than to think they won’t judge your apartment. That said, cell phones are corrosive to the fellowship that makes dinner parties special. In short — they are simply not okay.”

      So how can a frustrated host deal with the situation? Here are a few ideas.

      Strategy 1: Do nothing, but don’t invite them back.

      You could take the path of least resistance and just ignore the problem for the evening, but mentally add that person to your Do Not Invite list for the future. This is Watson’s preferred course of action. When someone pulls out a cell phone at a dinner party, she points out:

      “It’s rude behavior, but commenting on rude behavior is, itself, rude behavior.”

      Biting your tongue isn’t easy, but you won’t risk ruining your party with an awkward scene.

      Strategy 2: Allow a periodic communal checking of phones.

      Letting everyone give in briefly to their addiction will make it easier to continue the evening phone-free. It’s the 2014 version of a smoke break, and the method Newnam recommends:

      “Confront it head on — between courses say something like ‘Let’s all check our phones now so we can get back to hanging out.’ I do this at restaurants when someone leaves to go to the bathroom. I wish there was a German or French word for a brief interlude to check your phone that would make it seem more classy.”

      French or German speakers, any ideas?

      Strategy 3: Fight back, but with a sense of humor.

      If you are not up for confronting a guest in front of the rest of the party, you can take the sneakier, more passive-aggressive (and funnier!) route that Newnam suggests:

      “Fight fire with fire. Text them a little message. Something like You lose orYour husband is hitting on me or a picture from your phone…of them staring at their phone.”

      A friend with a good sense of humor will get it and put his phone away. Someone who is easily offended might get huffy — but why would want to spend the evening with a rude, easily offended person anyway?

      Strategy 4: Ask them why.

      Perhaps your guest has a good reason for being glued to her phone, like an urgent phone call she is expecting, or a last-minute work email she has to deal with. If that’s the case, asking guests why they keep looking at their phones instead of engaging with the party will either set your mind at ease somewhat or call attention to their rude behavior. Watson has a tactful approach:

      “I might ask them if they had somewhere else to be or what the emergency is, since that’s the only reason they’d be dragging their phone out instead of enjoying the food and conversation.”

      And Newnam is a little more no-nonsense:

      “Walk up to the offending phone fiddler and say, ‘Hey, I’m really glad you came. Do you need to be somewhere else? If not, I’d appreciate it if you put your phone down and joined us for a couple of hours.'”

      Either way, your guests will be more conscious of their phone-fiddling for the rest of the evening.

      Strategy 5: Take the phones away.

      Maybe politely pointing out rampant phone use doesn’t solve the problem, or several of the guests are stuck to their phones. In these cases, treating everyone like misbehaving kindergarteners is the best course of action — you take away allphones. Newnam recommends this as a last-ditch option.

      “If none of the above works, collect everyone’s phone in a shoebox when they enter the party. Assure your guests that ‘phones in a box’ is not an update version of ‘car keys in the bowl’ swinger parties from the seventies. On second thought, don’t assure them.”

      I have a friend who will sometimes call for a “phone pile” and everyone has to stack their phones in the middle of the table. We always get why — he only does this when most of the party is engaging with devices instead of their friends — and I’ve never seen anyone get offended or upset. It’s often a relief to have the phones out of our hands, temptation out of reach, and our focus on the people and food around us. Just like in the long-ago days before smartphones.

      Do you have any tips for dealing with dinner guests who won’t stop looking at their phones? Or do you believe it isn’t a host’s place to tell guests what to do?

      Re-blogged from: http://www.thekitchn.com/

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