blessed opportunities

I wake up each morning, and I have no idea where the day will lead…..

…but I know that I continue to be excited about where I’m going…..

I celebrated 54 yesterday, quietly thanking my Mother and Father for giving me life.
I have had the opportunity to experience more than I ever dreamed possible, and there is more to come.

Today’s devotional (Matthew 25:  21) began, “take risks for God…”
“the only mistake is not to risk making one…”
“go out on a limb; He won’t let you fall…”
“take a big risk; He won’t let you fail…”

At present, I’m obsessed with finding and reading Paris blogs.  I love the pictures, and the stories they tell.

Isn’t the fingerless lace glove beautiful?

After dinner at Bodega, aboard a boat docked on the Seine, across from Notre Dame, she introduced herself (a famous foreign actress), told us the gloves were made in Spain and worn on her most recent movie.  She was very personable and talked to us with casual, non-rushed ease; she was traveling to NYC within hours.

If you are homesick for Paris, here is one of many sites overflowing with images of the great city.
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pumpkin spice latte

First, make the pumpkin spice syrup —
While this is simmering, your house will smell WONDERFUL!!!!!

Pumpkin Spice Syrup
(adapted from here and here)

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
Mixing:
  1. Combine all ingredients in small saucepan
  2. Heat and stir until sugar is completely dissolved
  3. Allow to cool, then store in airtight container in refrigerator
  4. Use within 3 weeks
Now, let’s mix the syrup with something rich and aromatic – -
Pumpkin Spice Latte
(makes one cup)
Ingredients:
  • 4 oz whole milk, heated and whipped to add air
  • 1 oz boiling water poured over 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder (dissolve powder)
  • 2 tablespoons Pumpkin Spice Syrup, warmed
Mixing:
  1. Pour all ingredients together
  2. Whip to mix and add more air
  3. Pour into your favorite fall tea / coffee cup
  4. Top with Real whipped cream, sweetened with a dusting of powdered sugar and a few drops of vanilla
  5. Sprinkle all with cinnamon
even when the day is stressful…
….life is good…..
iPhone 4 & Camera +
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pumpkin spice espresso muffins

…feels like fall
…looks like fall
…smells like fall

The cinnamon was a gift, brought to me from Estonia.  Thanks LP!

The muffins are moist, melding the flavors and leaving a lingering spice on the palate.  Pumpkin and espresso support the overall flavor, yet are not prominent in taste. Delicious!
Pumpkin Spice Espresso Muffins
(adapted from here)
Ingredients:
  • 2 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 T espresso powder
  • 2 t baking soda
  • 2 t baking powder
  • 1 stick cinnamon, ground fine (or 1 t ground cinnamon)
  • 1/8 t ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 t ground cloves
  • 1 t salt
  • 15 oz pumpkin puree (I used fresh pumpkin, roasted in the oven until tender)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar (I used dark brown sugar)
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
Mixing:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Line 24 muffin wells with paper liners
  3. Combine the first 8 (dry) ingredients in a mixing bowl
  4. In a mixer bowl, combine the pumpkin, sugars, and oil.
  5. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  6. Add dry ingredients, and mix only until the dry ingredients are incorporated
  7. Divide batter evenly between the 24 muffin liners
  8. Bake for 18 – 20 minutes, or until the muffins test done.
I glazed the muffins with 1/3 cup white chocolate chips, melted and a few teaspoons of whipping cream added until of drizzling consistency.

roasted cauliflower

…inspired by Dorie’s facebook post today

Roasted Cauliflower

Ingredients:

  • 1 head cauliflower, trimmed of stem and leaves
  • salt 
  • pepper
  • olive oil
Preparation and Roasting:
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
  2. drizzle olive oil over head of cauliflower
  3. sprinkle with salt and pepper
  4. Roast uncovered for 1 – 1 1/4 hour, or until knife easily glides into head of cauliflower
  5. Enjoy!!

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country ham – all roads lead home

I hear the soundtrack from “The Big Chill” playing in the background…
A friend’s father died, and I’m going home.  Home…to offer a hug 
…and to sit quietly in the church pew as she pays one last tribute to her father while suppressing tears, and I think -breathe – just breathe
…and to stand reverently in the background, under the funeral tent, side ruffles fluttering in the wind, a warm fall breeze floating over the white stones as the minister utters words, hoping to comfort
…and to offer another hug…
“FORASMUCH as it hath pleased Almighty God of his great mercy to take unto himself the soul of our dear brother here departed, we therefore commit his body to the ground; earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust; in sure and certain hope of the Resurrection to eternal life, through our Lord Jesus Christ…”
home…
The orange glow of afternoon wraps the county roads and rural landscape in a secure blanket–
Combines run the rows, thrashing beans and creating plumes of dust reaching to the heavens–
Tractor-trailor trucks, burdened under the weight of a full load, share the narrow rural roads–
…roads that were built in the track of the snake that today is only skin on the center line—
A crop duster swooping, and spraying, then soaring heavenward just before the tree line—
Cotton modules standing tall and densely packed, white against the brown, spent stalks—  
golden fields ripe for harvest
“…there’s a church in the valley by the wildwood…”
 (full lyrics here)
and all roads eventually lead to dinner
the restaurant specializes in fish, but today I order country ham and the trimmings
(hush puppies hiding in a basket just out of photo range)
dessert – certainly!
just a few bites remain of the chocolate icebox pie

this guest is happy to pay the check
(all photos iPhone 4)
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