Deanne Has A Blog!

Jul. 12, 2017

“The best place to seek God is in a garden. You can dig for him there.” George Bernard Shaw

“Fer-til-iz-er: A substance which makes soil more fertile.” (Webster)

When last we chatted, I waxed rhapsodic about home grown tomatoes. Now I've moved on in the garden to zucchini...bane or blessing?

Having grown zucchini and pumpkins, fertilizer is a superfluous frill as far as they are concerned. Put a couple of seeds in the ground, go away for the weekend, and be astonished when you return to find that their vines have cascaded all over the geraniums, the Dutch Iris and zinnias are fighting for their lives and those greedy little tendrils are eyeing the garage. Zucchini is delicious when it’s small and tender but neglect to pick it and a day later, it has metamorphosed into a club the size of a baseball bat. You can grate one all day to make zucchini bread and never finish it. Neighbors see you coming with that bag of zucchini and won’t answer the door. The zucchini phenomenon is sort of like Mickey Mouse as the Sorcerer’s Apprentice in Fantasia!  with his enchanted broom and buckets of water. The zucchini inexorably keep coming and coming!

Anyway, when the zucchini overwhelm you, chop up some in your salad, sauté some in olive oil with tomatoes and lots of onions, drain and stir in some sour cream and top with a little parmesan cheese for a really great veggie dish. Or get out your Cuisinart and grate some for bread. This one is particularly good. This recipe is originally from Dorothy Reinhold’s column in the Pasadena Star News in 2011. In it, she described her son’s ecstasy about the zucchini bread that his 3rd grade Webster Elementary School instructional aide, Mrs. Corinne Le, had baked and brought to share.  “It’s soooooo good,” he said, “and she gave me the recipe. It’s really really good!” And it is, too! So, thanks Dorothy and Mrs. Le. This is the best zucchini bread I’ve ever had. It’s neat to think that these third graders got to taste something fabulous that a teacher wanted to share. Teachers ARE exceptional people!

Zucchini Bread

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease 8” x 4” loaf pan.

1-1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

½ tsp. baking soda

¼ tsp. baking powder

¼ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. ground nutmeg

1 cup sugar

1 cup finely shredded, unpeeled zucchini

¼ cup vegetable oil

1 egg

1 tsp. grated lemon peel (or more if you've got it)

½ cup chopped pecans (optional), dried cranberries are good in here, too, and maybe a little chopped apple.

In a medium bowl combine first 6 ingredients.

In another medium bowl combine sugar, zucchini, oil, egg and lemon peel. Mix well.

Add dry mixture to zucchini mixture, stir just till moistened (batter will be lumpy)

Add nuts and/or cranberries, and apples.

Spoon batter into greased pan. Bake for 55-60 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan or on a wire rack for 10 minutes. When your bread has cooled off a little, cut yourself a slice and sit down and enjoy it with a cup of coffee.  You deserve a break after all that planting, fertilizing, harvesting, distributing and baking! This freezes well, too, so you can double the recipe, which just happens to be in my book, “A Tablespoon of Love, A Tablespoon of Laughter.”

“In simple humility, let our Gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation garden of your life.” James 1:21

“I grow plants for many reasons: to please my eye or to please my soul, to challenge the elements or to challenge my patience, for novelty or for nostalgia, but mostly for the joy in seeing them grow.” David Hobson

Jul. 2, 2017

“Well, there ain't nothin' in the world that I like better
Than bacon and lettuce and homegrown tomatoes
Up in the mornin', out in the garden
Get you a ripe one, hey, don't get a hard onePlant 'em in the spring, eat 'em in the summer
All winter with out 'em's a culinary bummer
I forget all about the sweatin' and diggin'
Everytime I go out and pick me a big one

Homegrown tomatoes, homegrown tomatoes
What'd life be without homegrown tomatoes
Only two things that money can't buy
And that's true love and homegrown tomatoes.”

One of my very favorite singer-songwriters, Guy Clark, who is raising homegrown tomatoes in heaven now, left behind this tribute to tomatoes. His song, “Homegrown Tomatoes” is one of my favorites.  He goes on...

“When I die, don't bury me
In a box in a cemetery
Out in the garden would be much better
And I could be pushin' up homegrown tomatoes.”

I don’t really know what his final arrangements were, but I totally agree with Guy, the only two things that money can’t buy are true love and homegrown tomatoes. I’ve got the true love part going really nicely as I’ve been married to the love of my life, John, for 50 years now and we expect to be walking, talking and laughing together over the occasional homegrown tomato for many more years. Like these beauties in the picture which are approaching edible with agonizing slowness. My son-in-law, Chuck, gave me a terrific tomato plant and it is doing its best to produce the most gorgeous round red globes of deliciousness possible.

The growing tomatoes part’s not quite so easy. In my opinion, one of the horrors unleashed upon the world when Eve picked that forbidden fruit, making God really unhappy with her and with Adam, is the tomato worm. There you are, admiring your rapidly growing tomato plant, feeding it, talking to it, nurturing it and admiring those cute little green baby tomatoes...all is well in your particular Garden of Eden. Then one morning you walk out with your cup of coffee and find that your tomato plant is in shreds! Leaves have been chomped to bits and all the little yellow blossoms signifying many more tomatoes on the way have been sucked dry, leaving nasty little brown blossomless husks. You stand there, mouth agape, in shock and horror. How could this devastation have taken place in just one night. Your eyes narrow into beady beacons of rage. Tomato worm!

With shaking fingers, you put your coffee down. You paw through your previously beautiful tomato, searching relentlessly for this spawn of Satan and find...nothing. You follow the icky little trail of black dots of tomato worm excrement and find...nothing. Heart pounding, you turn over every leaf and find...nothing.

In case you’ve never encountered one, tomato worms are huge. They are also the same color as tomato plants. Plant experts saw they’re easy to find if you lightly spray your tomato plant with water. Ha! I say! And Ha! Again! You can spray water all day trying to get these big stinkers to show themselves to no avail. What did I do? I went right back in the house and grabbed the Garden Safe Fungicide and sprayed the heck out of that tomato plant. Peace has returned to my kingdom. Guy is absolutely right:

“Only two things that money can't buy
And that's true love and homegrown tomatoes.”

If you haven’t gotten yourself a tomato plant, zip on down to Home Depot and buy yourself a nice one with yellow blossoms on it. Show it to your true love and plan what you’ll do with all your homegrown tomatoes this summer.

“Build houses and live in them; and plant gardens and eat their produce.” Jer. 29:5

 

Jun. 14, 2017

 “Grandchildren are the crown of the aged..” Prov. 17:6

“May you live to see your children’s children!” ps. 128:6

Happily, best buddy and tireless companion for the past fifty years, John, and I have indeed lived to see our children’s children and what a fantastic group of people they all are. We are grateful they keep having babies and graduate from college with impressive degrees and some are even considering jobs! We are grateful they marry into families with people we immediately love forever and that they keep inviting us to stuff...whether we bring potato salad or not!

We have just enjoyed the first visit from our Texas grandchildren, Jessie, who is 9, and Emily, who will be 7 next month, and their mommy, Crissy, in years. Ten days of fun, excitement, laughter and chaos. We have cooked dozens of sausages, eggs, pancakes and cut up tons of strawberries and cantaloupe. We have dined out all over town, long luxurious lunches featuring mac and cheese and pizza with ranch dressing for small people and more exotic fare for the older folks...P F Chang’s we love you! You, too, Claim Jumper, BJ’s and La Fiesta Grande!

We went to the movies: Captain Underpants and The Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Yes, we totally enjoyed Captain Underpants! They went to Disneyland and had a fabulous time with daughter, Patti, and her amazingly obliging grownup children, Nicole, Blake and Luke, but, thankfully, not us!

Patti, and son-in-law, Dave, put on two barbeque-swim parties for us, loaded with family and fabulous food. We went to the beach, dined outside then ventured down to the shore where Jessie promptly threw herself into the water...an inch at a time...till she was totally soaked. Did we have another set of clothes or even a bathing suit? Of course not! But there’s a Target on every corner and a new outfit is easy to do. So Jessie is challenging waves and Emily is seeking shells. She had the best time ever finding small shells and putting them in a cup to take home. It was cool and cloudy, but perfect to see the beach for the very first time in their lives. They saw mountains, too, for the very first time! Texas is flat...flat...flat. They have gone home now, but we have wonderful new memories and great pictures.

Family is the most wonderful gift, created by God. Some of His families haven’t worked out so well; Cain and Abel come to mind. We have had children hissing at each other, “I hate you!” when they were twelve-ish and younger, but they didn’t really mean it. David and his son, Absalom come to mind...a very sad story there where Absalom wanted to overthrow his father and be king... there was a battle and Absalom was killed. When the messenger arrived from the battle, David asked, “Is it well with the young man Absalom?” The messenger replied, “Let the enemies of my lord the king, and all who rise up against you for evil, be as that young man!” Needless to say, David’s heart was broken... “The king was deeply moved and went to the chamber over the gate and wept. And he said as he walked, “Oh my son, Absalom, my son, my son! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!” 2 Samuel 31-32

We have had seasons when we have wept over one or another of our children or grandchildren but for the most part, we have been blessed beyond belief with everyone in our family.

“The most important thing in the world is family and love.” John Wooden

“You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you as you are to them.” Desmond Tutu

“The only rock I know that stays steady, the only institution I know that works, is the family.” Lee Iacocca

And the reason our family works and we love one another, in spite of our flaws, is because John is the strong anchor that holds us all together. Sunday is Father’s Day and we will celebrate the fathers in our family, starting with John. It’s another opportunity to tell him we appreciate him and are grateful for the man of God he has always been.

Hoping your Father’s Day is one of joy, good memories, laughter and really great food!

May. 12, 2017

“When you get in trouble and you don't know right from wrong
Give a little whistle! Give a little whistle!
When you meet temptation and the urge is very strong
Give a little whistle! Give a little whistle!

Not just a little squeak, pucker up and blow
And if your whistle's weak, yell Jiminy Cricket!

Take the straight and narrow path
And if you start to slide
Give a little whistle! Give a little whistle!
And always let your conscience be your guide.”

Music and lyrics by Leigh Harline and Ned Washington

Remember Pinocchio, the Disney animated classic from 1940? Well, you probably don’t. Even I wasn’t born yet. But Geppetto, the Blue Fairy, Monstro the whale, and, of course, Jiminy Cricket are familiar figures to all of us. This little cartoon in the picture featuring Ziggy triggered this song about always letting your conscience be your guide. You remember Pinocchio, the wooden puppet who wanted more than anything to be a real boy, but he had a little trouble with the truth from time to time, and when he did, his nose grew and grew. We don’t have that problem, but that guilty conscience thing being like a room with wall to wall carpeting where you can’t sweep anything under the rug is all too true.

Here’s one of mine: When I was about four, my mother and I lived with my aunt and grandmother in an apartment in Alhambra. My mother had a little rectangular stool which sat in front of her vanity where she would sit and do her face and hair. This stool was a bright, cheerful red corduroy and I liked it, being partial to red. However, one day she recovered her stool in a dull gold brocade, which I did not like one little bit. No one was interested in my opinion. So, in an effort to rectify this situation, I took my red crayon and colored this ugly gold brocade in red. As I was completing the job, I realized this might not go down well with my mother so, hearing her coming into the bedroom, I flung my little self over the stool. My mother asked me what on earth I was doing and to get off there, so I did. My artwork was revealed and let’s just say that I got a spanking. She covered it again and I have no recollection of what color it was the next time. The guilty conscience part was me trying to cover up my sin with my four year old self.

Guilty consciences come in all sorts of colors. For instance, in the earlier part of my life I had a tendency to speak my mind, thinking I was just beyond amusing when what I really was was snarky, sarcastic and leaning toward mean on occasion. It took a while for God to show me what I was doing, and for me to get it that each time I said one of these things, I was going to have to apologize. How did I know I’d made a mistake? I’d be unable to sleep, replaying over and over in my mind what thoughtless thing I had said to someone. And I would be unable to rest until I apologized. In time, as God continued to work on me...

“...and I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Phil. 1:6

.... and after way too many years of apologizing, I learned to say something nice to everyone I encounter and I’m sleeping better.

I’ve never robbed a bank, I’ve even given grocery checkers back too much change! I’ve not murdered anyone...there were times with the children, however... but that’s another story! But my conscience could not be guiltier when I disappoint my Lord. I guess that’s the worst part, disappointing those we love. John and I went to a wonderful memorial service today, celebrating the life of a saint who lived to be 100 years and two months old. I loved Evelyn Sanner, admired her, told her she was the best looking woman in the church, and I even wrote a piece for her when she needed to submit something to a missionary magazine. She had a great sense of humor, too. John turned to me during the service and said that his mother used to say to him, “That’s not worthy of you, John.” I guess that’s the thing I never want to hear my Lord say to me again, “That’s not worthy of you, Deanne.”

“The human voice can never reach the distance that is covered by the still small voice of conscience.” Mahatma Gandhi

Apr. 22, 2017

As you may recall, dear Tablespoon of Love Web Log friends, our two Texas granddaughters, Jessie & Emily, attend Wally W. Watkins Elementary School in Wylie, Texas. Dr. David Vinson, Superintendent of Schools in Wylie, posted the following on his personal Web Log and gave me permission to share it... it's so uplifting, encouraging, positive and filled with gratitude that you had to see it, too! Enjoy! And think about what makes you overflow with gratitude...for me, it's my precious best friend and spouse, John, and all our family, for the sure knowledge that God loves me, for flowers and neighbors, for the home we love, for friends, for fairly good health, and for all of you out there!

 

Raymond Cooper of Wylie, Texas, embodies what it means to be a success.  He has a great family, an incredible financial portfolio, entrepreneurial accomplishments, and the reputation of being a trusted advisor to many important people—in addition to being the namesake of his own junior high school. Mr. Cooper’s life tells a story of grit. He grew up poor, lost his father at the early age of three, and found his way by learning from his incredibly strong mother. Through strength, hard work, and tenacity, Mr. Cooper founded the Universal Transformer Company, a sixty-year-old business that still thrives today. 

 

Dr. Shawn Miller, principal of Cooper Junior High School, grew up very similar to the namesake of his campus. Raised in poverty by his grandmother in Mason, Texas, Dr. Miller did not have a present mother or father. As one of the older siblings, it was his job to help raise his brothers, sisters, and himself. From what I know of his grandmother, she instilled in him the values of hope, grit, and gratitude.

Struggle affects people in different ways. Some distance themselves from the past they once knew and work to pretend that strife never happened. Mr. Cooper, though, is different. He dedicated the second half of his life to helping those who found themselves experiencing the same struggles he experienced. Grateful for those who helped him, he donated land and organized volunteers to construct our local food pantry, the Wylie Christian Care Center. Over the years, the center has helped thousands of families in the surrounding area with food, clothing, and utility assistance. Many lives have changed for the better.

Struggle shaped Dr. Miller in a big way, too.  Reaching the goal of principal and earning his Ph.D. are testaments to his grit. His gratitude manifests towards his family and the paternal role of dad to his siblings who he gladly and lovingly helped to grow into positive and productive citizens. He devotes that same love and care to the kids of Cooper Junior High. He creates a place of hope.

 

Gratitude is a choice. A friend of mine, Kris Segrest, says that people get either “bitter or better” when faced with challenges. Each individual chooses a path—fight or flight. Raymond Cooper and Shawn Miller’s challenges shaped them in ways that positively influenced not only their lives but also their families and community members. Their journeys made them stronger. They are grateful for what they have, but they are also grateful for the experiences that molded their lives.

Today in Wylie ISD, we celebrate the value of GRATITUDE.  Gratitude makes a big impact on our own lives, and potentially the lives of others. Mr. Cooper and Dr. Miller are both representations of this belief.

Are you grateful? If so, how would others know? Do you send cards, make phone calls, raise your brothers and sisters, or build food pantries for your community?  At some time today, please take a moment to recognize that your struggles make you stronger. People care about you, and you make a difference in the world. We are in this thing together. Through it all, our gratitude makes us better, not bitter.

I am grateful for Mr. Cooper, I am grateful for Dr. Miller, I am grateful for you!  I look forward to hearing more about the gratitude that you possess.  

 

Gratitude. It’s the Wylie Way!