Sunday, December 31, 2023

The Last Day of the Year 2023


Yesterday I entered important dates in a new 2024 calendar, ready to be hung in the kitchen on January 1st.  

Early this morning I chose the book I'll use for my daily quiet time in 2024, God willing. I rotate between a few, this past year being one of C.S. Lewis's writings. All of December I've been using an Advent devotional of C. K. Chesterton's writings and will continue it through Twelfth Night. Some days the entries in this Advent book haven't seemed very relevant to me but others remind me of why I love Chesterton's pithy wisdom.

This year I'm putting this one on my desk, my beloved Richardson Wright's little A Book of Days for Christians, one I used in 2020. 

Wright, a cradle Episcopalian, editor in chief of House & Garden for umpteenth decades in the 1900s and author of a stack of my favorite books, keeps it short, a paragraph or two, leaving time for scripture reading.

After I hit publish on this post I've managed to squeeze in before 2023 ends, I will go to the kitchen and begin cooking the pastry cream for a dream recipe I've wanted to make for ages, Boston Cream Pie. 

Then I'll make and bake the two cake layers and next comes the chocolate glaze and into the fridge to chill for three hours, which may mean we'll be eating this pie/cake when the ball drops in NYC, as slow as I am.

My main dish for the evening will be easy, the salmon recipe I use half the time I cook salmon.

Starting with a beautiful side of wild caught Alaskan salmon...

and a scrumptious lemon/garlic/butter sauce...

I end up with my easiest favorite salmon recipe...

But tonight I'm going back to the first fantastic salmon recipe I tried decades ago from a Mediterranean cookbook for Braised Salmon with Caramelized Onions. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Yesterday I spent hours (I told you I'm slow) making a big bowl of potato salad loaded with celery, onions, olives, and eggs dressed mainly with apple cider vinegar/olive oil that soaks in the fridge with only a little mayo added in the end.

To me, salmon and potato salad with a little champagne is THE perfect meal and ending that meal with a sliver of Boston Cream Pie is a perfect end to New Year's Eve. 

So time to snap to it. If you happen to read this, please feel free to only say "Happy New Year," or nothing at all because with all honesty I have to say it may be Tuesday and Wednesday January 2nd and 3rd before I give myself the gift of two days off to catch up on my blog world buddies. 

Because there is that Boston Cream Pie to make today and a pork loin, collard greens, and black-eyed peas to cook on New Year's Day. 

This was my view from the kitchen window this morning before I sat down to write this post...

I do so love pink clouds!

A very happy and healthy and safe New Year's to all of you,



"There now, we have reached the end of our year's eating and drinking. For 1,095 times we have sat down to refuel our bodies and cheer our spirits. Fats cannot harm us. We are ready for whatever the next year brings. Allons!" 

      Richardson Wright

Friday, December 8, 2023

I Love the Music of Christmas!


Here I am, 15 years old, sitting on the floor in front of the new stereo Daddy bought for our family. I think this was earlier than Christmas as my sister Deb reminded me that the first albums bought for the new stereo were South Pacific and Flower Drum song as Daddy and Mama had seen the Broadway shows in Chicago recently. 

But as my sisters and I were discussing on FaceBook, come December after the new stereo came to our home, our parents took us, as always, to downtown Nashville after dinner out to view all the store windows, especially to the beautiful Christmas ones at Cain-Sloans Department Store.

We went to the record department where you were allowed to play the albums in sound booths before purchasing them. And there we each got to choose a Christmas album. 

Friends, this was a really big deal! Our parents were not extravagant but music was important to them and so they bought a piano when I was about ten years old and began piano lessons for us, beginning with me, the eldest. 

By the way, that piano, a Gulbransen spinet, that came back to me after my little sisters grew up, was with us at our previous home, Valley View....

And now belongs to our granddaughters! 

I must also include a picture of another tradition in Nashville as my sisters and I were growing up. Our parents always took us to the large Nativity Scene that was sculpted by Italian sculptor Guido Rebechini and displayed in front of Nashville's Parthenon, the world's only life sized replica of the Parthenon, built in 1897 as Nashville was called The Athens of the South. Inside the Parthenon is a 42 foot gilded sculpture of Athena. As you can imagine, Nashville's Athena has sometimes caused controversy in this city of a church every block or so. 

But outside, from 1953 to 1967 was this glorious Nativity Scene that enthralled us as children when we joined the quiet crowds that went to experience its solemn beauty telling of the night of Christ's birth, Christmas carols playing softly on loudspeakers.

I begin listening to Christmas music the first day of November and don't pack my albums away until February. I'm old school and like to handle my albums. I tried music via Pandora a decade ago when my kids set me up with it but after a few weeks went back to my CD albums, wishing that we had never gotten rid of our stereo and LPs a long time ago.

I love it that two of our kids have now gone back to collecting and playing LPs. How about you? How do you get your music now? Those of you who celebrate Christmas, when do you start listenting to it?

Thursday, December 7, 2023

I Love the Lights of Christmas!


Ever since my Uncle Jack and Aunt Etta drove me and my little sisters around at night when we were very small to look at neighborhoods that had the prettiest Christmas lights, that has been a favorite Christmas activity. 

But now that RH's night vision is not the best, I am so thankful that one neighbor across the street from us, high on a hill, has had a beautiful display every December for me to enjoy the last two years since their house was completed. I simply step out on either porches and let my phone capture pictures. 

When I took pictures of it last December I didn't realize someone was photo bombing them. 

Look who was in our yard!

 Herds of deer visit our yard all the time but it is only the males who seem to come at night. Our other nighttime visitors are possums, raccoons, a fox family, and one beautiful skunk with a white topknot. There's also a groundhog who lives in the old barn and comes out in the mornings. 

And that's about it for this December post, dear friends, but at least I've made a start. For two months now I've waited for Mohs surgery on my forehead where squamous cells were found and the surgery was Tuesday. All the bad cells were removed in the first cut and they didn't have to go deeper, very welcome news for me as I had been told it was likely advanced. 

I've spent the last two months, after our experience with RH's heart conversion was safely past, getting ready for the surgery and the downtime after. My house was completely decorated for Christmas, meals were in the freezer, my fruitcake made, BreeBree and James Mason taken for their spa day. 

So now for 7-10 days RH will take care of the house while I obey the no lifting, no bending over orders. I go back in mid December to have a small bad spot taken off my knee but it should be a simple procedure. 

With some downtime ahead I hope to post here because I think it will keep my spirits high during a time when I'll be quite homebound. I'll try to faithfully visit blog friends, especially once I get rid of this headache. One eye is black today and I still feel like I want to yank my eyeballs out and wrinkling my forehead accidentally is excruciating but that should get better as soon as I can take the pressure dressing off and the stitches are gone. 

Meanwhile I am so very thankful for all the prayers. I am looking forward so much to enjoying every single day of the Christmas season, in a quiet way, with the promise of family coming in from out of town nearer Christmas.

May your own December be blessed and Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah to all who celebrate them! 

With love,


(I don't think I'm responsible for all the different sizes the print turned out to be here but who knows?)

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Ca. 1970, Our Firstborn's Bedroom


I don't remember if the orange walls were my idea or his but I do remember that his bedroom even then reflected his many interests: science, model airplanes, Lego masterpieces, hermit crabs and guinea pigs. At two he was taking apart his robots and putting them together again. 

Did he love orange or did I, which is a possibility as I still do. Here's a current picture of his old bedroom found on Zillow showing that the original Armstrong flooring I chose is still there on the floor over 50 years later. This was not a flat printed pattern; you could run your finger around each raised embossed circle. 

You're probably thinking "What was she thinking?" but I still think it was kind of cool and the homeowners did leave it all these years. Our little boy loved it.

He grew up to be my next-door neighbor at Valley View for sixteen years and repaired and mended anything I needed fixing and came down the hill for coffee almost every morning. You better believe I miss that!

Today his interests are still many and varied, from collecting and repairing vintage classic radios to his own geiger counter virtual museum channel on YouTube. Instead of hermit crabs, a passel of Chihuahuas share the home. 

Every year for his birthday he asked for a Hershey Bar Cake, a dense chocolate cake that needs no icing other than a little powdered sugar. 

The recipe is here, straight from Hershey land itself.

For some reason I made the cake this summer for him instead of waiting until his birthday and he came and picked it up.

This time I used a tube pan instead of my bundt pan.

Here's a family trivia note, over the years I collected vintage Hershey cocoa tins and one year I received a Hershey Christmas house from my dear neighbors that proudly was displayed each Christmas. When RH and I downsized and moved, we passed on all my Christmas houses to various family members and naturally all my Hershey collection went to my neighbors. We just don't have room for my Christmas villages here at Home Hill but I still miss arranging all of them.

When my firstborn's birthday came up this fall I wasn't in the mood to make another Hershey Bar Cake so I asked him what I could fix instead and the request was for Chicken Tetrazzini. I forgot to take a picture but I always make at least two from my old Southern Sideboard cookbook when I make it so here's a picture from another time.

And then the following week I decided I just had to bake some kind of cake for my boy and made a fall favorite, Mrs. Collins' Sweet Potato Cake from an old newspaper recipe. He generously shared half the cake with me and his dad.

No link for the delicious recipe but here's a picture of the recipe. I used my favorite Greek olive oil instead of the vegetable oil it called for and liked it even better.

I have to admit that even though the orange floor in our firstborn's bedroom remained through the years, the orange walls did not. I'll close by showing a picture of its change when he was a few years older.

It probably fitted in more with the current style then but looking back at it now it doesn't seem nearly as much fun as those orange walls. 

That boy though? Now he and our daughter-in-law have grandchildren themselves and he still scores two F's. 

Fun and Fascinating! 

Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Goodbye October with a little bit of Halloween


My few Halloween touches will come down tomorrow. Always a dachshund and corgi family, this Halloween card from Zack years ago seemed to be the exact image of our dear Penelope who we lost not long after I started blogging in 2012. She comes out every October along with treasured hand-painted cards from daughter-in-law Wallace. 

Zack recently had a birthday and as always he requested his birthday pie, a peanut butter cream. I used to make a homemade graham cracker crust for it but lately just buy one from Keebler. This year it shattered but Zack still loved it.

He also asked for deviled eggs so I sent him some of those, using my old standby recipe from a Mary Emerling cookbook.

And from the freezer a tuna fish casserole I'd put away for him when I made one for our own supper one night.

Can you tell I'm a paprika kind of girl here? 

Here's another old Halloween card that comes out each year, one from our daughter Christy.

I meant to show a picture of a beautiful vase of flowers Christy brought us when she was here earlier.

I loved those gorgeous purples! And kept enjoying her flowers as time went by and I broke them up into little arrangements all over the house. Here's a little one I put in my bedroom.

And naturally I had to save the roses to dry.

In the morning I'll change that cute October page on the calendar my daughter gives me each Christmas. Even though I look forward to my favorite month of the year, November, I'll miss my cute pumpkin and bats on my bedside table. 

Down will also come the bat hanging in my kitchen, part of a Halloween card Christy sent us many years ago.

Can you spot him? 

Here's one new gift that will come out each autumn to be enjoyed, a Fresh Cut Paper bouquet from my sister Deb that arrived during supper of our 62nd wedding anniversary!

It was such a fun surprise and we have enjoyed it at every meal!

Halloween is a little tame at our house these years but I do take a childish pleasure in it. Maybe because I have so many memories of fun Halloweens growing up and then of those with our children when they were still at home. We even had two grandsons growing up next door to us at Valley View who visited us in their costumes.

I've enjoyed seeing pictures online of our two granddaughters in their costumes today, one as the Mouse Scout and her big sister as, of all things, a Starbucks drink created by their mother Wallace, including silky whipped cream on top!

I've needed these sweet tugs on my heart this week, in a time when hearts are so heavy with the news, in addition to having another daughter-in-law lose her father this week. She and her four sisters and their mother are grieving at this unexpected loss. 

So I'll take a little Halloween cuteness gladly and look forward to the holiday season coming up, every minute of it. And I'm very glad to report that I followed the advice of a blog friend and tried switching my browser to Chrome and like magic all my sign-in problems on my blogs were fixed! I can even comment on my own blogs now and imagine that I will be able to on others as well.

Please be well and safe! 

Love to all,

Friday, October 13, 2023

An Anniversary and Family News

 Hello dear family and friends,

On September 19th at our annual exam we learned that RH's heartbeat was irregular. After seeing his cardiologist we were told that he was in full-blown AFIB and a cardioversion was scheduled for October 2nd, with possible open heart surgery if the cardioversion failed due to the other serious heart condition RH has been treated for during the last 20 years.

This possibility turned our world upside down but we were immediately wrapped in the prayers and support of our family. All four of our kids were here the day before to be with us, our daughter flying in and stopping by Whole Foods on her way to our house to bring dinner.

Next our three sons arrived, one from out of town.

This picture of our kids means the world to us! 

RH doesn't look sick here but he had been a very tired guy lately.

After our delicious supper we cleared the table for some distracting hands of Texas Hold 'Em, accompanied by some sweet and hilarious memories of childhood, and a round of admissions to mom and dad of stories we'd never before heard. Groundings were immediately issued.

Everyone left by nine so the old folks could get to bed. It had been an anxious night made much easier by the presence of our precious daughter and sons.

Early the next morning our daughter came to pick up her dad, two of our sons met them at the hospital, and our youngest son came to stay with me as it was better for me to stay home. It wasn't an easy decision but I had my guy's promise..."I'll be back."

Although ten people were in the operating room in case of emergency open heart surgery, our daughter got the call to go to the recovery room where the doctor reported a perfect one shock only needed to restart RH's heart.

Here's our daughter with her brothers when they got the news, happiness showing on their faces.


RH kept his promise to me and indeed he came back!

It was simply amazing how soon they were able to bring our woozy guy home, mainly with instructions to guard against falling for the next 24 hours as the anesthesia wore off, and reasonable carefulness for the following week. He'd been put on Eliquis the week before but other than that his instructions were not to drive for 24 hours and to rest.

Of course we all pretty much spoiled him rotten but he seems no worse for that either. He's minded me pretty well since the kids left for home, in fact I have to say that the days since have been some of the happiest ever.

And, drum roll, today on Friday October 13, 2023 we're celebrating 62 years of marriage. (62 years ago was also a Friday the 13th.)

Although RH and I have been deeply saddened and horrified by the news this past week of the terror attacks on families in Israel, and our prayers remain with Israel, and much else seems trivial compared to that, I wanted to record here the precious gift our family received by RH being restored to us.

We are so grateful for the gift of life and our family.


  P.S. I'm not sure this post will publish as I can't seem to sign in to my blogs even though I've signed out and back in over and over. And I just tried publishing comments on other blogs and it won't let me, even when I try to anonymously. 

I can't even leave a comment here on an old post of mine! Help, does anyone have any advice?

Saturday, September 23, 2023

Feeling Overwhelmed


I am feeling overwhelmed. Today is officially Autumn and I wanted very much to post something, anything, for the first day of my favorite season of the year. 

I know I had files on my desktop ready for Autumn in late September but in a spirit of creativeness a week ago I practically covered up my desktop with possible future files to post and my screen is wall to wall files.

Do you ever do that? It drives my son Daniel crazy when he sees Mama do this! 

It's been a busy and yes, stressful week, but also one that makes me feel that one of the roads back to normality and enjoying this special time I look forward to all year is NOT dropping out of the blog world this time. 

And so my way back and out of feeling overwhelmed is to at least post a fall picture and this one from Autumn at Valley View where my kitchen looked serene and simple was the one.

Maybe another day soon I'll be able to untangle my desktop files and find something to blog about. Meanwhile I wish peace and serenity to everyone in this beautiful season called Autumn.

Sunday, September 3, 2023

What is it?



Care to take a guess before reading further?


It was our supper one July night of 2022 that I never posted. July is past again but I'm posting it now as July of 2024 is too far away to risk waiting again.



We had this odd meal with french bread and smoked salmon leftover from the salmon RH usually smokes for Independence Day.


That's a tiny oil painting I did almost 50 years ago inspired by Childe Hassam's flag paintings. It comes out every July and goes back in the cupboard in September.

But what is in my glass soup bowl?


The soup is cucumber and the two red circles in it are Watermelon Gelée, both recipes by Greg Atkinson, chef and proprietor of Restaurant Marché on Bainbridge Island, Washington.

I couldn't find a recipe link for the typed copy I've had in my files for years and can't remember where I first found it. The Watermelon Gelée was delicious but the next time I make the cucumber soup I'll use Vincent Price's recipe as it really needs Vincent's cream, chicken broth, and a leek to enhance its flavor. 

The gelée--pronounced huh-ley--has 3 cups of watermelon chunks, 2 tablespoons of sugar and 2 teaspoons of lemon juice pureed, strained, 1/2 cup of the liquid put in a saucepan and 1 envelop of gelatin sprinkled over it. Soften 5 minutes then put saucepan on high heat and stir until gelatin is dissolved and juice begins to boil. [I stirred in some Trader Joe's Chili Lime seasoning.]

Put a pinch of black sesame seeds in each of 4 paper cups [or foil cupcake liners] then stir the hot gelatin mixture into the remaining juice and distribute evenly between the four cups, over the sesame seeds. Chill till firmly set then tear the foil away from the gelée and put on top of the cold cucumber soup. 


This was a fun and pretty meal so I hope you'll understand why I didn't want to waste my year old pictures. My room in the picture above has had some small changes this summer when I began taking some things away from it. I moved all the Blue Delft and Royal Copenhagen out of the room and put it all into the 10 x 12 room outside our bedrooms that I call the antechamber where I have more blue and white china.

Two more pictures  to show. You can't have a light meal such as this without having a good dessert.


 This delicious thing was a Lemon Cornmeal Cake with Lemon Glaze and Crushed-Blueberry Sauce from Bon Appetit that I did find a link for. Here!

Be sure and notice the pretty vintage silver spoons I used. They're monogramed but I've never been able to figure out what the initial is. 


 Are you ever tempted to cook an odd recipe? I do it all the time even though sometimes they don't turn out well and RH says: "Why don't you just cook your old recipes that we know we like?"

I ask you, "Where's the fun in that?"