Monday, December 27, 2010

Aunt Lulu's Apple Waffles with Blueberries

The house is wrapped in a white blanket of snow. Christ’s birthday celebration was a joy to behold. Guests have returned to their homes at last.

The snow and silence brings in quiet moments of reflection as I sip my first cup of tea for the day…Lemon Lift. A memory of Aunt Lulu’s apple waffles drifted before me as the steamy brew tickled my nose. The corners of my mouth began to lift up into a warm smile. So, I arose to take action in making a memory of apple waffles on a snowy day into a sweet reality.

When the house began to smell of cinnamon, apples and French vanilla from the pile of hot waffles waiting for butter to melt into their valleys; I thought of you.

How could I be so selfish to keep this treasured treat just for my husband and me? This couldn’t be right.

So, I reached for the camera as fast as I could with my mouth still savoring a bite softened with pure Maple delight. Oh, how I wish you were at the table too. Only a picture will have to do to entice you to make a batch or two of Aunt Lulu’s apple waffles.
The recipe is below for you.

Enjoy and thanks for being my friend.
Aunt LuLu’s Apple Waffles

1 1/3 cup flour
1 egg, beaten
2 tsp. baking power
1 cup milk
½ tsp. salt
1 tbsp. oil
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp French vanilla
2 tbsp. cinnamon
1 apple, pared and diced
¾ cup blueberries (opt)

Heat waffle iron.
In large bowl, combine flour, baking power, salt, sugar and cinnamon.
In small bowl, add beaten egg, milk, vanilla extract, cooking oil and mix well.
Add egg mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until moistened. Fold in apple pieces and blueberries. Spoon one serving of mixture onto hot waffle iron and cook until light brown.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Collectable Gift for All Seasons

Shopping is torture to me. I would rather wash windows, pull weeds or cook for a party of twenty.

However, I am a buyer. Cracker Barrel is my favorite size mall. They have treasures for tots, tweens, twilighters and everyone in between.

When I find the perfect present, I buy multiples to put in my gift closet. Yes, closet. A shelf is not big enough to hold the gift giving items that I stumble upon….rarely do I go out to hunt down and bag an unknown surprise.

The gift that fits for so many occasions and is a prize that we don’t often give ourselves is a spatula. Serving spatulas deliver more than cakes, pancakes and pies. They lift up spirits.

When taking a dessert to a sick friend with a keepsake spatula attached, they’ll have a memory of your thoughtfulness to hold in their hand forever. Top a foil-wrapped meatloaf with a plain spatula placed on top for a brand new mom, and she will lift the corners of her mouth with a smile every time she serves her family meatloaf with the spatula you gave her. Fancy china spatulas are the perfect gift for the ones who seem to have everything or for that person who needs to feel special.

My trusty spatula has served me with many filling memories. The memory of sharing time and tea with friends lifts my spirits. Can anyone have enough serving spatulas of fellowship?

Giving a serving spatula is a good gift any time. At Christmas it seems special because we’re reminded that God gave us His Son, Jesus Christ. Because of Him, we are lifted up in fellowship with Almighty God. He is our true gift for all seasons.

Merry Christmas!

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of all He created.
~ James 1:17-18

Etiquette Tips:
“If you are the gift recipient, proper etiquette requires you to send your thank you notes promptly.”

~ DANA MAY CASPERSON ~ author of Power Etiquette: What You Don’t Know Can Kill Your Career

What's in your gift giving closet?
Your thoughts and insights are always appreciated.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Answering Wall Hangers and Seat Covers Prayers

The holidays are here! The call to partying with strangers begins. Answering long forgotten prayers, hopes and dreams can be answered by us. We can even be part of the answers without spending a penny. All it will take is investing our time.

“No way!”
Friends, co-workers and strangers have asked these questions or made a similar statement over the years when I’ve promised that they could have fun and make new friends at a party, business function or conference full of unknown people with ease and confidence. The fun begins by looking for wall hangers and seat covers.

My diverse career path led me often into business and social events where I knew no one or a few superficial acquaintances. However, as a corporate relations officer for a university and a multi-state area sales manager for an international airline, I had to force myself to meet strangers, build business relationships and even host out-of-state events. Many times, I only knew “me” in the room of hundreds.

When finding myself in a room full of strangers, I found the secret to changing my feelings from despair to delight was reaching out to others. Fortunately, I have been made with a sincere interest in people and their life stories. So walking into a room full of future friends is like strolling into a library with live authors and interesting characters to meet.

Instead of rushing to the food or tea tables when I enter an event, I pause left of the entrance and look for wall hangers and seat covers. Wall hangers are the individuals who are leaning against the wall watching the panorama with fear, self-isolation and a hope that someone would take an interest in them. Seat covers are those who choose to sit at an empty table. They’re less visible with a limited view point. However, they too have a hidden hope of being discovered and brought into the activities with gentle ease.

Both the wall hangers and seat covers are treasures to find. Bringing them to light through self-introduction and seeking them out has resulted in some long term friendships and business partners. They have life stories worthy of discovery.

After sharing why we are at the party, interests and stories; I asked the wall hanger or seat cover if they would like to adventure into the activities with me? We plan our strategies of introducing one another so we can enjoy the event without feeling alone or like an isolated object to be ignored.

Once I sat down by an older lady that I had seen during a conference rushing from breakout program to breakout program. No one seemed to be talking to her. Little did I know that she was just taking a quiet pause. By befriending her, I ended up catching a tiger by the tail. She knew most everyone. I had to hold on tight because it became her pleasure to introduce me to those she knew. Having been in Washington, DC for fourteen years in a key role, she introduced me to people I never imagined I would ever meet. She and I became life-long friends. The relationship began because I reached out to a seat cover in a crowd of strangers.

God has given me many treasured friends who hung on walls or sat alone on the outside looking in. He comes beside me so often when I feel lonely, isolated or unworthy. He invites me to remember to introduce His Son, Christ Jesus into the busy world of party goers this blessed season. All that it will cost me is time to answer prayers of wall hangers and seat covers.

Reviewing Tips:
* Stand to the left of the entrance door and pause
* Avoid Rushing to the food or drink tables
* Look for isolated people and reach out to them with sincere friendship
* Introduce yourself, state why you are at the event and ask them the same
* Plan your introductions
* Step out together and have fun as outreach partners

What has been your hopes, dreams or prayers when mixing with an unknown crowd? Have you ever been a spectator with a hope of being invited to join the party? What happened or didn't happen? Your insight and experience can help us all with your written comments today.
Uplifting blessings.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Tea & His Word


The first sip of the day ~
Warm, soothing and tasty,
My tea pleases me.
Comforting, reasurring and uplifting,
My devotion in God's Word
Grows me.
When I take time to brew
A cup of tea
And sit down to sip in a moment of rest,
Peace over takes me.
When I keep my daily date with the King of Kings
And sit down at His feet,
Love over takes me.
Therefore, I am blessed
With the first sip of the day from the brown brew
And the Word of love
for me and you.
Tea Tip: Use a timer when steeping a cup of tea for a perfect brew.
The general guidelines for setting the timer:
Black teas brew 2-5 minutes.
Blends brew 2-4 minutes.
Green teas 1-2 minutes.
How do you know when to pull the leaves for a pleasant brew? When or where is your preferred spot to pause with a cup of tea? Just click on comments below. Hearing from you is a great excuse to fill up my cup and hear your story. Uplifting blessings.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Seven Self-introductions Tips

I had a dog on a borrowed leash. My heart was pounding louder than my knocks on stranger’s doors.

This risk taking adventure all began with a yell from my husband calling my name from the garage. Then a chuckle came along with a wiggly tail and a long tongue hanging out the left side of a miniature doxie’s mouth. The bow legged dog started dancing at my feet. He charmed me at first glance.

My heart was lost forever when he raised on his back legs and put his front paws together like praying hands. He moved the front paws up and down with such enthusiasm that it looked like he was praising the Lord. I had to pick up the little chap.

After giving the little lost guy water and cold cuts, I started knocking on unknown neighbors doors.

My etiquette training and international protocol tutoring didn’t prepare me for this informal way of meeting neighbors in our community. However, I applied the basics of self introductions.

With a smile and looking to see what color of eyes the person had that opened the door, I told them my name and that I lived at the end of the cul-de-sac at the bottom of the hill. There aren’t too many hills in North Texas, so they knew where I lived. With a quick glance at my prancing partner, I asked if he belonged to them. This let them know why, I was knocking at their door and introducing myself. My mission made me memorable and gave us a topic to talk about that was non-threatening. The neighbors were nice.

As I sipped a cup of tea at the end of the day, I counted three blessings from introducing myself to strangers. First, Jake, the doxie was welcomed back to his home. Second, I made a life-long friendship with a neighbor that I had not met before that risk-taking day. Third, our daughter and her family gave us a doxie of our own.

Toby doesn’t walk on a borrowed leash. However, walking him in a new neighborhood does cause me to talk to strangers because of the way he dances at my feet. They are charmed and come over with a smile and a reason for a self-introduction.

Tips for Self-introductions:
1. Start with a smile.
2. Give full eye contact. Looking for the color of one’s eyes causes’ good eye contact.
3. Clearly and slowly state your name.
4. Identify yourself.
5. Tell the “why” you are there, your objective, or your need.
6. Repeat their name if they give it.
7. Ask a non-threatening question to get conversation started.

Self-introduction is an act of kindness in our personal, professional, and social environments. How enjoyable it would be if you would comment on a time when a self-introduction changed your life or someone else’s life? Or comment on your favorite way to introduce yourself. Uplifting blessings.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Unpacking My Heart

He who did not spare His own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?
Romans 8:32

The mini-van was packed full even with the center seats removed. More stuff was packed in our daughter’s car leading the way to her future as a freshman college student.

We’d raised our daughter, Stacey for this moment. Her junior year in high school she was given her own checking account so she could learn, while still at home, how to be responsible with budgeting and handling her own money. Her senior year, I armed her books to read that would arm her for the challenges and temptations that she would face.

Two titles on the book list were: Fascinating Womanhood – to equip her in making a wise choice in choosing a mate and There’s a New World Coming by Hal Lindsey – to make her aware that we are involved in a spiritual war and to give her comfort in knowing that God has the final word.

Stacey and I had shopped garage sales for the extra furniture to make her shared dorm room feel cozy, comfortable and inviting. But these tiny treasures took up space in the mini-van with a full-size computer, TV, home made curtains, grandma’s home made white quilted bed spreads, clothes, and her stuffed bunny rabbit riding shot-gun in the passenger seat.

In her crisp calico dress, the stuffed rabbit sat tall with the seatbelt holding her in place. The rabbit and I just enjoyed music as the miles clicked by as we followed Stacey in her over packed car.

Then pride came in like a hot flash. Creeping up from the inside, rushing quickly to pour out of pores I didn’t even know I had. My mouth became part of the uncontrollable action.

I started talking to the rabbit strapped in next to me. I praised God for the gift of our daughter, for His guidance in raising her and for the expectations we had for her that she fulfilled so far. Then the depths of my heart poured out in words as tears poured down my face.

“How could your be so giving, Abba? You sent Your Son to earth to die. I’m only sending my daughter to college to grow.”

Words continued to pour from my heart. Miles upon miles sped by with Stacey leading the way and the Lord helping me let go of the child He gave me on loan.

When the campus could be seen on the horizon, cool calmness refreshed me as these final words gushed from my soul, “She’s Yours, may she fulfill Your plan. Thank You for the loan.”

Peace filled my spent heart. God packed it to overflowing with His love and joy in knowing that Stacey would never be alone or forsaken. The Holy Spirit would be riding shot-gun beside the Good Shepherd’s little lamb. Her Bible was the first treasure to be unpacked.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Warm Wonder

How often have you sat down to do devotions with a cup of tea or coffee? What do you do - stay focused and dutifully do your devotions? Or have you discovered the pleasure to take time, sip the delightful brew and pause with praise in your heart and soul for the simple blessing God has given you in the moment?

Today’s tea is yummy. A dark tea dusted with cinnamon, swirled with half and half. Yes, I know tea should have milk and coffee cream, but I poured in pure pleasure this morning.

The book of James is open and I’m reminded of what James wrote about how to live everyday life. Imagine being the half brother of Jesus and living with Him.

I pause and sip my tea, my imagination wonders. Did Jesus ever simplify and say to James, “Get a grip on life. Trials and tribulations builds faith and develops perseverance”?

Was James directly quoting Jesus when he wrote, “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him,” (James 1:12)?

Before putting down the half full teacup,I wonder what took place between the brothers for James to write about faith and deeds. How often did the two brothers talk about the blending of faith and actions that caused James to make it a topic for living a life alive and fulfilled?

James summed up this message in Chapter two verse 26, “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.”

This time spent in thought, wonder, and glancing over the book of James has allowed my tea to cool. But the flavor and joy still linger; causing me to pause with praise for the delight of the tea and the time thinking of Christ while reading His words. The five short chapters in James are filled to the brim with hot topics for today and how to live life steeped in His presence and His ways.

Has the tongue been tamed in man since Christ’s time? Do we need to be reminded of the corruption this flapping little muscle can create if not bridled? James shares word pictures in chapter three comparing the tongue to bits, rudders, small sparks, and deadly poison.

In Chapter four James uses a word picture that helps me to remember the benefits of submitting to God in verse ten, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up.”

As I swallow the last sip of tea, I’m satisfied. As I read the last chapter in James, I am encouraged and filled with hope and praise. James words “be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near,” gives me hope. I’m filled with joy because of his words that promises, “The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.”

The teacup is empty. My soul is full. My spirit is warmed with the time spent in His uplifting presence.

What remains is the insight gained in pausing for a few minutes to allow the Holy Spirit to give me a glimpse of the affect of one brother upon another to reach out and teach others to persevere, blend faith and deeds, bridle the tongue, humbly submit to God, be patient, have hope and praise the Lord who lifts up the one who prays in faith.

Thank you for joining me today. Do you remember a warm wonder that filled you.....a sunset, a song, a scripture verse, or a pause? I would love to hear about your fulfilling moment in the comment section.

May you have a perfect cup of blessing soon when pausing and pondering His Word and His ways.

Etiquette tip for tea: Tea is served with milk instead of cream because cream curdles in tea. If you have ever seen white flakes in your dark tea, it is because cream was used. Although cream maybe offered, milk is usually served with robust tea.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Cream Cheese Banana Nut Bread

Welcome to my corner of the world. Here’s a comfy seat. Be comfortable.

The cream cheese banana nut bread has about three more minutes in the oven. I’m so glad you stopped by.

Would you like honey or sugar in your tea? This is a favorite tea of mine, Honey Bush by TAZO. It’s an African tea, dark, robust and without caffeine. Friends who are giving up coffee or caffeine after 2 p.m. fined the Honey Bush a good flavorful transition. I like it any time because it tastes good.

I hope you like being adventurous with trying different teas. Down sizing my tea cabinet has been a challenge. However, there are plenty of green teas, black teas and oolong teas besides herbal drinks to share.

There’s the ding. The quick bread is ready. I’ll slip her on a cutting board and we’ll enjoy her while she’s nice and warm.

This recipe has been a reliable friend. She’s easy to make. I’ve served her at teas and at breakfast with over night house guests. I’ve packed her up to take to office meetings that needed a friendly touch and wrapped her with a tea towel for new neighbors as a welcoming gift.

Cream Cheese Banana Nut Bread

1 cup sugar 2 eggs
1 (8oz) pkg. cream cheese 2 cups Bisquick mix
2 to 3 ripe bananas ½ cup pecans, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a loaf pan or spray with PAM vegetable spray.
In a mixing bowl, cream sugar and cream cheese until smooth. Beat in bananas and eggs. Add Bisquick mix and nuts. Stir until dry ingredients are moistened. Bake for 60 minutes or until an inserted tooth pick comes out of the loaf clean.
If browning to fast, cover with foil the last 15 minutes.
• The loaf freezes well and can be made the day ahead with the same moist goodness the second day.

Enjoy and stop by again. The tea kettle is always on the back burner to serve you.
Comments are always welcome, too.