Saturday Morning Thoughts

Memorial Day Weekend is underway. It’s a time for reflection. There is no shortage of ceremonies and activities to honor the fallen men and women who entered into every military branch knowing they may not make it home alive. There’s no shortage of families forever changed by those sacrifices made.

My plans are pretty simple this weekend. I plan to help other drivers and motorists by staying off the roads as much as possible. Perhaps I’ll spend a few long moments watching the new bee that showed up in the wildflowers this morning, we’ll see.

One certainty is waiting on the rain with some coffee in the backyard swing, and being eternally grateful for this life and those who have lost theirs while serving to build and protect our society and nation.

Whatever your plans include this weekend, I wish you all good health, peace, and safety. Make sure you take a few minutes in prayer or reflection, to just breathe, appreciate the day, and make sure those you love know you love them.

Hello Saturday. It’s good to be here.

“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” John 15:13

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An Irish Anniversary Cake

It’s been a while since I actually broke out my cake decorating kit. Sure, we’ve had a series of birthdays, parties, mother’s days, and all kinds of reasons to bake, but I kept putting it off until now. Today is our 25th wedding anniversary. This milestone year seemed like the perfect time to play around in the kitchen.

There is no shortage of traditional recipes in this house handed down through the generations, but I decided to try something new and found this delicious Walnut Cake recipe by lovefoodies.com.

Y’all, this cake was so simple. I actually had concerns, thinking something must have been missing. A few simple ingredients into the mixing bowl and away we go! Simple and smooth!

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a cake batter so fluffy as this! The photos don’t do it justice, this batter was like air. The recipe specifies the times to whip the ingredients, hand mix the walnuts in at the end and don’t rush it. Good things take time.

Personally I like buttercream icing, and I especially like buttercream icing made with Kerry Gold Irish Butter. Really, this is not a commercial – it just tastes better to me. My husband is of Irish descent, so he really likes Kerry Gold as well, and since it’s technically his anniversary cake too, I used the good butter.

The kitchen smelled so good! Somehow the scent of cake and icing just seems to belong in this house. This is the same house where 25 years ago my mother and aunt made and decorated our wedding cake. I’m not even going to pretend I’m as good as they were, but I like to think they would be pleased with my attempts, or at least get a little giggle out of the effort.

At some point in icing the cake I decided I wanted as much of an Irish them as I could get into a 25th anniversary cake with what I had on hand. It would be blue instead of silver, with ivory, and a deep green. Sure, it could represent any number of places in the world, even this little patch of ground on some days. But for this occasion, it’s all about the colors of Ireland. Ok, the colors of Ireland and LOVE! (Happy Anniversary to my husband).

The blue became a marble-like streak for some roses, and a blend of Kelly Green and cocoa for the leaves. The white cake stand below belonged to my grandmother. Generations of wonderful and talented women have all had a hand in my choices today.

The end result is what I call Connemara Marbled Roses on Black Walnut Cake. Clever, eh?

Here’s to 25 years of marriage, and far beyond. To the moments that lifted us high enough in love and faith and joy to hold on when other moments knocked us breathless and spinning. To the laughter, tears, silences and more laughter. To me knowing he likes black walnuts and Irish butter, and him knowing I like evening cappuccino in a fine china cup. Now, let us eat cake.

A Celebration of Living

It was just after sunrise when I got the call.  “Do you want to go get a cup of coffee?”  And so set the pace of the day.  It’s not either of our birthdays.  It’s just an average Friday,  but for us, it’s a celebration of living.  The “Us” is myself and Rita.  Rita is technically related to me, but we’re so close in age that we’ve been kind of built in best friends all of our lives.  She’s only 8 months older than I am and  we’ve been mistaken for sisters, twins even at different points throughout our lives.   We’ve sang together, we’ve cried together, we’ve laughed together, we’ve fought together – but seldom if ever –  with one another.

We’ve witnessed each other’s weddings; we’ve hosted baby showers and birthday parties for one another; laughed with and at one another over “questionable” choices we’ve made over the years; watched our children grow up in to wonderful young adults themselves, and recognized the blessings all of this truly is.  We’re in the early stages of  planning an amazing 50th birthday event in a few years when that milestone happens for both of us.

Today, however, while much of the world was glued to the news outlets casting opinions and would-be solutions for the issues of the day,  we stepped away for a few hours and went to a little coffee shop overlooking an ancient river swollen from recent rains.  In sight of bald eagles and hawks hunting under rolling storm clouds, we sat for hours with huge cups of hot chocolate and appreciated the fact that we’ve survived to this day.img_8440

It was five years ago this month a series of heart attacks targeted her.  It was two and three years ago other issues attacked me.  We’ve both come to realize April, for all its new life and springtime blossoms, is a time of reflection and true celebration.  Every year around this time we find a day and get together away from the rest of the world. Some years we drop the top in a convertible and cruise the back roads. Some years we sit on old fallen trees in the back woods here with cups of strong coffee and talk for hours with the dogs watching us like we’re trespassing.   Some years we laugh until we cry in realization that we’re still here.

Both of us.

And we’ve been given the amazing gifts and experiences in our lives

There is no way to know what tomorrow holds in store for any of us in the future, and that’s ok.  Today, we don’t worry about that. Today, we celebrate and are thankful for the blessings in and of our lives; and we celebrate the fact that now and again it’s important to take time away from the demands of life and be grateful for the opportunity to be truly living!

 

 

 

Hello New Year, Let’s Have Lunch….

We Made It!   2017 has arrived! What should we do first?  Accept new challenges?  Learn new skills and talents?  Resolve to make great and lasting changes and generally shake up the status quo?    Perhaps, soon, but not today.

For me, the first day of January is set aside for tradition.  For the better part of 25 years that tradition has included attending Mass at the nearest Catholic church.  That’s the new part.  The old part, the really, really old part, is having lunch at home on New Year’s Day.  It’s one of my favorite meals of the entire year with a set menu of black-eyed peas, collard greens, roasted pork of some sort, corn bread with butter, and sweet tea, every year.  Every single year for as long as I can recall, this meal has been prepared by my grandmother, aunts, mother with intentions and prayers for all who join in the meal to enjoy health, love, happiness and prosperity in the coming year.   Another tradition for me is that this simple, hearty meal to begin the new year is ALWAYS served on fine china, and the sweet iced tea in tall crystal.

This year I noticed my 17-year-old son take a snapshot of the table and his plate to send to his girlfriend.  Sure, it could be just an idle text on what’s going on at that moment, but it could also be an intentional sharing of his traditions as well.  My heart hopes that’s the case.

….for this one meal, on this one day, the love spans centuries….

It’s just lunch with the family.  It doesn’t change the responsibilities awaiting when school and businesses reopen; obligations and opportunities await in the coming days; but for the first lunch of the new year we will celebrate in a more special way one of countless beautiful, familiar moments that happen in and amongst our daily lives; for this one meal, on this one day, the love spans centuries.

Perhaps later this week I’ll consider resolutions, but for now I simply want to wish you all a safe and happy new year!  May it be filled with great friendships, deep love, and wonderful adventures and timeless traditions.  Welcome to 2017, my friends.