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.