Thursday, June 30, 2016

A Milestone


It's an awesome day in our household. 

After six years as an Air Force officer, 21 years in aerospace, and 17 years as a systems analyst in telecommunications and information technology, Beloved has coasted safely to being his own boss.  

Yesterday he turned in his employee badge. Today he packed  up his office computer and we took it to UPS to be sent to his employer in New York. He is now officially retired!

packing the computer

This morning we reminisced to each other about the Lord's wonderful goodness to us. In 44 years since he graduated from  college, there were only three weeks when he was not employed (not certain of a paycheck). 

The day he graduated from college, he also received his commission as a military officer. It took six years to fulfill his ROTC-induced scholarship commitment, most of that time spent in South Dakota. Then he resigned to enter aerospace, working for two major corporations that took us to Seattle, Denver, Washington D.C., Denver, Colorado Springs, Orlando, and back to Denver.

Although he saw many get their pink slips along the way, assignments for him kept coming. But eventually that dried up and he got two weeks notice of his layoff. 

However, before those two weeks were up, a former boss called to offer him contract work as long as there was budget money. That assignment took us back to Orlando for five months and then that project ran out of funds. 

As we were returning home to Colorado, a good friend from church recommended him to fill a position in telecommunications. It took three weeks for the job offer to come in and he's been busy with that up until now. All these years he has been a systems analyst with information technology for corporations, and now I have his computer savvy all to myself!

What will he do now? We have family and friends we want to see and places we want to go, but for the time being we are simply enjoying the newly-gained freedom to not be tied down to an employer. We are also giving time for all the financial and health insurance changes to implement themselves, making sure we have dotted all the i's and crossed all the t's. 

Beloved wants to do more fishing and  to pursue his interest in woodworking. He's got a Bible class to teach every Sunday in July and we both do volunteer work when opportunities come along.

We marvel at the Lord's provision for us and our family over the years. The Lord's mercies are great and we do not take them for granted.

Wow. Retirement is actually here!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Susan's Isle of Dreams

Martha's Vineyard Isle of Dreamsby Susan Branch
During our trip up to Idaho and Washington State a couple of weeks ago, I bought Susan Branch's newest book and proceeded to read it to the end in three days. 

Susan Branch, if you don't already know, is a prolific water color artist and cookbook author loved by homemakers (and many others, I feel sure) since the late 1980s.

some of Susan Branch's cookbooks in my personal library

This book, which came out just this spring and is currently selling quickly while she is on a cross-country book tour, is an autobiography focused on her years after a very sudden and devastating break-up of her marriage. 

Every single page was hand-written with her most delightful penmanship and embellished with countless samples of her watercolor art.

a couple of sample pages from Martha's Vineyard, Isle of Dreams

But even more telling is her story of how she survived serious heartbreak, depression, and the choices she made in order to survive the emotional anguish. Her sense of humor comes out as this California girl describes staying in her jammies all day and doting on her cats while learning to live on the opposite side of the country --thousands of miles from all her family and friends. She makes honest admissions about her sorrows, lack of personal disciplines, and surviving winter in a tiny house on Martha's Vineyard where she knew no one at all. One learns a lot about herself when living alone, and it can be very sobering. 

As time passes, the story takes some very positive turns. Her continuing insecurities endear her to the reader -- at least that's the way it was with me. 

I bought my copy of the book at Barnes and Noble in Spokane Valley, Washington and began reading it that same afternoon as we sat in lawn chairs under shade trees beside Lake Coeur d'Alene. I was reluctant to put the book down at dinnertime. 
The next day as we began our long drive back home, I shared so many things about the book with Beloved while he drove that I finally began to read the pages aloud to him. To my surprise, he enjoyed the story as much as I did and so for the two-day drive back to Denver, I read aloud until my voice grew hoarse.

When we got home, we had not quite finished the book but were eager to know the end, so that night Beloved invited me to snuggle on the couch with him and HE read the last chapters aloud to ME! 

It was not "Christian reading," but I would still give the book a G-rating. The artwork was superb due to her excellent talent and standards.

In addition to her delightful creativity, what may have been of the most benefit to me was to get a better understanding of the process a person experiences with serious heartbreak, loss, and the struggle to feel significant once again.  

I wish I could say she got through her ordeal in a close relationship with the Lord, but aside from some brief heartfelt prayers of gratitude sent skyward when things went well for her, there was no indication to me of a Christ-centered life.  

All the same, it was very good vacation reading.

Reading Susan Branch  on a warm spring afternoon

Monday, June 27, 2016

Lasagna from The Bungalow Kitchen

It has been over two and a half years since I began eating a diet without gluten, dairy, and eggs. It was an adjustment, to be sure, but the rewards of weight loss and feeling so much better have been well worth it.

Today I am sharing with you my recipe for lasagna, which calls for some different products to accommodate the lack of gluten and dairy. 

Gluten-free pasta is in all the stores now, and I especially like this "oven ready" lasagna by Heartland. ("oven ready" means you don't have to boil the pasta first before putting it into the lasagna recipe)

I also use a dairy-free cheese by Daiya that is dairy, lactose, and casein free, gluten and soy free, cholesterol free. I find it in the section of the store that has the tofu and dairy items.

Happily, there are many more gluten-free groceries in the stores now than there used to be. 

Lasagna from The Bungalow Kitchen

1 pound ground beef
1-2 Tablespoons grapeseed oil
1 large onion, diced
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1-2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 (24 oz) jar gluten-free pasta sauce 
1 cup water
Cooking Spray
gluten-free lasagna pasta (I use the "oven ready")
non-dairy mozzarella cheese substitute (Daiya brand)
Salt and pepper to taste

Brown the ground beef until cooked through; drain the fat off.

Warm the grapeseed oil in a skillet and brown the onion, mushrooms, and garlic. When tender and cooked through, add the pasta sauce, 1 cup water, and browned ground beef. Combine well. Add salt and pepper to taste.

In a baking dish treated with cooking spray, spoon about 3/4 cup of the sauce into the bottom of the dish and spread to cover. 

Add the lasagna noodles in the dish, not overlapping, in one layer. Generously spoon sauce over the pasta, making sure to get all of the pasta wet with the sauce. 

Add a generous amount of the mozzarella cheese, then add more sauce, more pasta, and so forth, continuing until  you run out of ingredients and reach the top of the dish. Pace your ingredients so you end up with sauce and then the cheese on the very top, always ensuring that the pasta is covered with sauce and not exposed.

Tear off a sheet of aluminum foil and spray the underside of the foil with the cooking spray. Lay that, spray-side-down, on top of the lasagna and seal tightly around the edges.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking for another 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow the dish to sit for 10 minutes to "set."  Slice and serve with a green salad.

Lasagna from The Bungalow Kitchen

Sunday, June 26, 2016

A Meditation

Shasta Daisy in my garden
How good and pleasant it is
when God's people live together in unity!
Psalm 133:1

Friday, June 24, 2016

A Good Development

small flag quilt by author (5" x 8.5")
If you can believe it, a cheerful thought came to me on the subject of politics. 

Have you had the opportunity to read this article from Baptist Press? It has news on a positive note for which we need to be thankful, prayerful, and hopeful:

I am encouraged that Donald Trump has a team of advisors representing the evangelicals of our country. While Mr. Trump is most certainly not the man I had hoped to see on the Republican ticket this year, it appears he will be our only viable choice to run against Hillary Clinton.

That Mr. Trump would agree to meet with evangelical leaders is a good thing. To form a team of advisors from these leaders ... perhaps he thought this was just a smart political move, to garner votes from the evangelical community. But that kind of thinking on his part would be to underestimate the power of God.

What Mr. Trump may have unwittingly done is to open himself up to godly influence with this particular team of Christians. As a result, there is hope for this election to go in directions that honor the Lord and bring our nation to a place of sanity.

We need to take these things into consideration as we decide how we will vote in the Presidential election later this year. No candidate is perfect (or ever has been), but to vote for one could avoid the disaster of another one winning. 

To not vote is to essentially vote for the worse of the two. God knows our hearts as we cast votes for imperfect people. He knows we wish there were better options and He does not fault us individually. We have already done our best  up to this point to get good people to represent us.

For the first time in many weeks, I am encouraged about our political scene. To be sure, the battle is not done, but in my opinion, prayer is being answered with this selection of godly men appointed to advise Donald Trump. I look forward to seeing how this plays out.

I urge, then, first of all,
that petitions, prayers, intercession and
thanksgiving be made for all people --
for kings and all those in authority,
that we may live peaceful and quiet lives
in all godliness and holiness.
This is good, and pleases God our Savior.
I Timothy 2:1-3

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Trail Mix Recipe - Gluten-Dairy-Egg-Free

Barb's Trail Mix

During our recent trip to Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and Washington State, I put together this Trail Mix as part of our travel munchies. It worked very well with my food allergies, and  Beloved enjoys it. I've made this for Denise, too, when we've taken hikes. 

Trail Mix

Carob chips (or chocolate chips, if you can tolerate dairy)
Rice Chex cereal
Roasted and salted Pistachios
Roasted Pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
Dried Cranberries
Dried Pineapple (I dehydrate my own!)

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl then transfer into an air-tight container. For travel, I used a zipper plastic bag.

Although this mix is allergy-friendly for me, it is not low calorie, so do keep that in mind while mindlessly munching down the Interstate!

This mix is good for gift-giving, as well.

Monday, June 20, 2016


My friend Joyce prepares questions for bloggers to answer every Wednesday.  I've taken a break from the inquiries for a couple of months but was in the mood to jump on the bandwagon, so here I am. 

However, Joyce is not doing Hodgepodge this week due to her busy schedule.  Oh well. I'll just do last week's questions and that will be okay with everybody, I'm sure. After I add my answers to the questions, I'll be linking up with the other gals who participated last week. (Got that?)


1. If you could sit beside and/or jump in any lake in the whole wide world today, which lake would you choose and why?

Lake Coeur d'Alene, Idaho

We recently visited Coeur d'Alene, Idaho where the lake has 130 miles of shoreline that is so beautiful and peaceful. While I'm not a swimmer any more (never really was -- Beloved says my swimming looks like I'm drowning), I do enjoy an occasional boat ride.

2. What's your favorite 'fruity' drink?

We have a green smoothie at least 5 mornings a week made with a Vitamix. My recipe is simple:

2 cups Tropicana orange juice (or almond milk)
1 good handful of dark leafy greens
(such as kale, chard, dandelion)
1 sliced, frozen banana
1  cup fruit (blueberries, strawberries, mango, etc)
1-2 Tbsp nuts or seeds (flax, chia, hemp, etc)
1/2 Tbsp agave syrup

3. I read a list here of thirteen things to do right now to simplify your life. They were-

clean as you go, re-evaluate your relationships (cut toxic ties), unsubscribe (too many blogs and websites), de-clutter, write down your daily goals, reply to emails right away, forget multitasking, create a morning routine, re-evaluate your commitments (which hobbies and responsibilities are most important to you), say no, clean up your computer, and plan your day ahead

. I am pretty good about "clean as you go" and unsubscribing to too many blogs or emails, de-cluttering is a hobby of mine (I can be ruthless). I am a mess if you fool with my morning routine.

4. What did you do the summer after you graduated from high school?

My family moved from Tulsa to Denver, I dated Mr. Wrong for a couple of months and then began dating Beloved ("Mr. Right"!) We got married a little over 2 years later!

5. Are you a fan of podcasts? If so what's a favorite?

When we take road trips, Beloved always plays a podcast by pastor Chuck Swindoll as we begin each new day of driving. I love that and often taken notes on my iPhone as he preaches.

6. Do you think today's fathers have it harder, easier, or just different than fathers in the past?

I definitely think today's fathers have it harder now than fathers in the past because technology and organized sports (both professional and for kids) vie for time more than ever. Also, moral issues are much more of a problem than they used to be.

7. Tell us one way you're like your father? Or not at all like your father if that's easier?

I have my father's jawline, wide forehead, and smile. I can also strike up a conversation with just about anybody, which is something I definitely got from my dad.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Before a guy can become a great dad, it's helpful to prepare by being a good older brother. Surfer Girl sent this photo to us on Father's Day. Our grandson is introducing his little sister to one of his friends.  


Linking up at:

Nature Illustrates Scripture

Cottonwood Creek in Buena Vista, Colorado
June 18, 2016

Blessed is the man that 
walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, 
nor standeth in the way of sinners, 
nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.

But his delight is in the law of the Lord; 
and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water,
that bringeth forth his fruit in his season;
his leaf also shall not wither; 
and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

Psalm 1:1-3

The Lord speaks to us in so many ways, one of them being nature. There are countless illustrations of His word as we walk around outside, validations you might say, that what He has told us in Scripture is really true.

I want to be like that tree planted by a river of water, producing leaves and fruit during the appropriate seasons, remaining strong and vital.

When I spend time in Bible reading every day and then meditate throughout the day on what I have read, God blesses that. He helps me to reach the conclusions and to have the kind of perspective that is true. 

Friday, June 17, 2016


My father

Daddy died of stomach cancer just slightly over thirty years ago. He was entirely too young to go, but medical science didn't know back then all they do today. He was only 58 at the time, and I was 36 that same year. His death is the hardest loss I've had to experience thus far, and although the pain of it is long since gone, the memories of him are very dear.

the coin-in-the-shoe tradition on my wedding day

It is my desire to portray people on my blog in their best light, so what better way to do that for Daddy than to give you pictures from my wedding day, although he was always handsome at any time of day or night (a flat top hair cut will do that for a guy!).

The flat top. He was a pilot and preferred to have short, neat hair at all times. He told Sister and me that he didn't want his hair flying all over when he was outside at the airport in the wind. Both he and my mother have always been practical people.

My father-in-law, Beloved, me, The Cook on Fifth Street, and Daddy
You get it, I hope, that "The Cook on Fifth Street" is my mother. A few years ago when I asked her to choose a blog pseudonym for herself, that's what she came up with and I love it.  

But Fifth Street is a place she moved to many years after Daddy died. Before that, his career as mechanic, then a pilot with American Airlines, and later as a corporate aviation pilot flying Lear Jets gave us many addresses from coast to coast. For a time my father had the distinction of being the highest-rated Lear Jet pilot in the country, so companies sought him out and it was exciting for us all. 

One of his assignments took him to Chicago to fly for the Butterball Turkey people. We, as his family, got a personalized tour of the  Swift corporation test kitchens, which was a lot of fun.

We even spent some time as official (i.e. legal) immigrants to Canada where he flew for the government of British Columbia.

Other assignments during his career took us to live in New York City, then a smaller town outside of Buffalo, New York, New Jersey, Tulsa, and Southern California.

In addition to his love of flying, Daddy served faithfully in our church wherever we lived, teaching classes, leading organizations, and even filled in for the pastor a time or two with a sermon. He was the one who taught me, as a third grader, that it was time for me to begin reading my Bible every single day and spending time in prayer. 

One funny story that comes to mind about Daddy took place when he was just a very little guy. My grandmother told us he packed his little bag and ran away from home. When it was discovered he was missing, his parents contacted the neighbors. It turned out he had run away to one of their homes because he was dissatisfied with the milk at his house. His family lived on a farm and drank milk from their own cows. As I remember the story, he preferred the homogenized milk at his friend's house and wanted to live with them!

empty pockets

Of course, we never got to see him as much as we would have liked due to the nature of his work, but he loved us dearly and took the best of care seeing we girls and our mother were provided for. The last two big expenditures he made on me were my education at a secretarial school and my wedding -- leaving him with empty pockets (though he did the same for my sister a few  years later).

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Looking for a Good Night's Sleep

Embroidering a dish towel

Wow. I just have to say that I would so much rather occupy myself with my hobbies than to have to think about the serious issues that bombard us these days. When I sit down with a threaded needle for an embroidery project, my breathing slows down, my mind relaxes, and it’s all good (well, except for when it’s time to thread the needle – that’s not as easy as it used to be).

But the fact is that we are confronted with problems we cannot ignore and we are responsible adults who have it within our power to influence others for what is good, right, and downright holy.

I don’t like to talk politics or get into debates (a dressed-up word for “arguments” any more) but with that said, there are still things I can do to promote goodness.

Gun control. I can hardly believe that I’m even bringing this up on my blog since my usual topics range anywhere from my faith to needlework, home d├ęcor, travel, gluten-free recipes, relationships, and of course, my staff of dolls who in my imagination help me get things done around here. But when the tough stuff comes up, I can’t sleep well, knowing there are things I could be doing to help the cause.

You know what I mean. Those nocturnal trips to the bathroom aren’t always just about having drunk too much water before bedtime. When the rest of the world is quiet, sometimes the Lord himself wakes us up because He wants our undivided attention and He knows that is the best time we will listen to Him.

The news this week has been so awful with disasters both here and abroad that a good night’s sleep has been a little hard to come by. Even with my reclusive spirit when it comes to the big issues, the Lord has reminded me that I can be of some measure of influence. 

So, back to gun control. I will not presume to tell you what your opinion on the matter should be, although by the time I’m done writing this post, you will have a good idea of where I stand.  What I do want to say is that now is the time to contact your state senators to give them  your opinion, to tell them how you would like to see him/her handle this ever-growing issue.

Have you ever contacted one of your legislators with your opinions?  Did you know that it’s surprisingly easy?  Beloved and I have done it many times over the last thirty years and although it sounds very intimidating, it is easy.

You call their phone number and tell the aid who answers the phone that you are calling about such-and-such and that you would like to see the senator/congressman vote thus-and-so on the issue.

You do not have to elaborate and I never do. My purpose in calling is to give my opinion, pretty much yay or nay on the issue. I’m not sure the aids really have that much time to listen to callers air all they have to say on the issues, although they probably do politely listen.

They will ask you your name and address, which is to verify that you are a legal constituent in the official’s district or state. At some later date you will probably get a scripted response from their office with the acknowledgement that you contacted them and how they appreciate it. And yes, this is another way your name gets put onto phone, email, and snail mail lists – but  you know that.

Since the Internet has come into our lives, you don’t even have to use the telephone anymore to contact your official. You can send them an email, which is my preferred method. Simply look up the official’s name on the Internet. At their website you will find all the contact information you need.

You could send a letter via snail mail, but my goodness, that takes waaaay too much time and effort and many times is just too slow if the issue is nearing a vote.

And yet again, back to the subject of gun control. Here is the message we telephoned and emailed to our state senators this week:

I do not wish to see any further infringements on my second amendment rights in response to the events in Orlando. Other measures would not be effective and would possibly deprive citizens of due process in the restriction of our rights.

Or, you can say something as brief as this:

I do not support any further infringements on our second amendment rights in the wake of Orlando.

If my post today has inspired you to contact your legislators on this issue, feel free to use our wording – or better yet, come up with your own. The point is to do the right thing and exercise your right (as long as we still have it) to voice your opinion.

Okay. I’m hoping to sleep well tonight! 

P.S. If you call your senator's phone after office hours, you can probably leave a message -- avoid talking to a real person. We did that.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

What We Can Do

Challenge Steps at a park in my town

As the days in our world, and especially in our nation, are growing darker, do you, like me, struggle with knowing just exactly how to pray beyond, "Lord, HELP!!"?

Do you feel like your words are feeble and that they are not reaching the heights of heaven to enter God's ears?

I am telling  you how I feel sometimes, and I'm thinking even our most astute Bible scholars may feel much the same -- things have got that bad.

First of all I will say that God hears our prayers. If we have accepted salvation through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ as payment for our sins, then He hears our prayers. Even when our words are weak-sounding, confused, and perhaps not more than disheartened mumbling, our Lord hears them.

Better than that, He sees what is in our heart. The Holy Spirit intercedes on our behalf, speaking to the Heavenly Father what needs to be said when we don't seem to be able to articulate it ourselves.

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. Romans 8:26

In addition, there is help from books and Internet ministries.  Two in particular that have encouraged my prayer life are these:

1) Anne Graham Lotz's book, The Daniel Prayer. Mrs. Lotz writes extensively how we can position ourselves to pray more effectively, based on the experiences of Daniel in the Old Testament. It is a very moving, convicting, and practical book. Click here for more information: 

2) The Capitol Hill Prayer Partners "Daily Brief."  This is an email sent out several times a week with news from our nation's capitol and around the world, followed with prayers and scriptures. To go to their website, click here:

I use this resource for learning current events from a Christian perspective and also to guide my prayers.  I pray as I read, confident that God knows my heart in wanting to do something powerfully practical to address the problems.

the newest form of recreation at our city park

Our world, including our nation's politics, have become complicated and overwhelming. We cannot ignore what is happening and do nothing. As followers of Christ, we must not let the difficulties of these issues prevent us from taking action of some kind. 

Let us be found faithful when this all comes to an end. Start with prayer.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Happy Flag Day

floral arrangement at my church 

God bless America, land that I love. Even with all of her faults, there is no other place on earth I would rather live. 

May we draw closer to God in humility, with a teachable heart, and ask Him to show us the way through these troubling times.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Eye Candy Vacation

We have just returned from a wonderful trip to the Northwest. Today's post is made up of some of our snapshots. I'll include descriptions, but mostly, this post is a vacation from writing for me, and scenic eye candy for you!

driving north on Interstate 25 through Wyoming
The headstone in center of photo with black markings is where
General Custer actually fell off his horse in
the Battle of Little Big Horn, Wyoming
(his body is buried at West Point)
entering Idaho on Interstate 90 after a wonderful drive
through beautiful Montana
expansion bridge over Lake Coeur d'Alene
the resort and boat docks at Lake Coeur d'Alene.
We did not stay there but enjoyed walking through the lobby
the floating boat dock at Lake Coeur d'Alene is the
longest in the world (hold onto the rail!)
enjoying the deck chairs

Admiring the engineering work of German immigrant Frederick Post,
channeling the water from Lake Coeur d'Alene to the Spokane River
awesomely tall, beautiful trees at Post Falls, Idaho
We enjoyed a 90-minute charter boat cruise on Lake Coeur d'Alene
inside the charter boat cruise
float plane tours are available over the lake
Luxurious homes are tucked into the trees along the
130-mile shoreline of Lake Coeur d'Alene
Hayden Lake, north of Coeur d'Alene
art in the downtown area of Coeur d'Alene
Water from the Spokane River in downtown Spokane, Washington
is used to produce electricity at the power plant
My idea of the perfect vacation is to read
among the gentle sounds of nature in a quiet park
geese -- the source of some of those 'gentle sounds of nature'
a really cute guy tucked in among the forest trees
Coeur d'Alene and a great vacation in the rear view mirror
We enjoyed a lot of good cooking on our vacation!
Cracker Barrel
going through the car wash at trip's end

I'm finishing up with the laundry and Beloved is getting caught up on the mail, so I hope you've enjoyed our quick photo vacation.