Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Jello salad on the table!

You know how Jello is the mysterious 5th Food Group? Well, yesterday while driving home from Virginia, we put on the Blue Collar Sirius XM station just for fun. My husband, the Swell guy and I burst into tears when we heard a comedian talking about Jello and where it comes from. You see we had just stared down a molded Jello salad for days while in VA.
The comedian's name is Robert G. Lee and he finally told us exactly what cow hooves are used for.
Googling Jello ingredients this morning turned up this handy information which confirms what we heard on XM.

I wish I could say that there will be less versions of Jello salad served at church functions and family reunions, but I can't. For the hilarious routine by Robert G Lee go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7XRkiC6U-M

For everything you wanted to know about JELLO and more go to: http://www.snopes.com/food/ingredient/jello.asp

Monday, December 21, 2009

December Memories

It seems that this month has been filled with wonderful Christmas memories. Here are just a few of the Ziegler Family highlights.

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Throne

Airport bathrooms are nasty. Germs abound and I for one don't want to touch the toilet seat. Thus we women squat, while you men get to stand. So not fair. But there is a new invention out there that may be comforting to some women on occasion. It's called the Sani-Seat, the Hygienic Toilet Seat System. After all, "It's an established fact that people are afraid to sit on public toilet seats," states the maker of this product. I discovered the Sani-Seat in the Chicago airport and was impressed.

A long sheet of plastic wrap covers your seat and is automatically changed when you wave your hand in front of a sensor. My questions are as follows: Where does your used plastic wrap go when you leave the bathroom? Is it recycled or sterilized for the next end user? Is each individual guaranteed a clean throne to sit on? All you see is that it goes behind the wall of the toilet. Hmm. http://www.cleanseats.com/frc=google&rfrt=googleTS2&gclid=CIDp1Luj4J4CFcZM5Qod4jxrKA

Go to this website for more information. I like the idea, but somehow I'm still afraid of public toilets. I realize "The Sign" says that the old plastic cover is destroyed and NEVER used again. I still want to know exactly where the plastic film goes and how it is destroyed. My fear is that it runs on a continuous 20 foot loop and is never really changed. Nah, I don't really want to know and neither do you my friends. But hey, the sign is also bilingual; I mean, how cool is that?

Monday, December 7, 2009

When I Grow Up

This post is about me deciding what I want to be when I grow up. At age 45, I think I have finally figured this out, but God is still revealing to me His plan for my life. My pastor often tells the teenagers at NC not to be so concerned about what college they go to, or what career path they should choose. He states that it is far more important as a follower of Christ to listen to what God says is His will for your life. Kids today are forced to declare a career "path" at such an early age! How many of us adults can say we stuck to the career we chose at 18 or 22 when we graduated from college? I know of very few adults who are in that situation, with the exception of a few teachers, and business professionals. Otherwise, for them and for me, life has taken them in a completely different direction. And a lot of them would say that that now it has become about God's will and not necessarily their will. Surrendering has led to new opportunities they never dreamed of.

Item #27 on my 101 List says: Decide what I want to be when I grow up!!!!!!!!!!! A medical assistant or something better? I am listening to my pastor when he talks to the young people in our church. I am listening intently---and I am no longer on a quest to decide what I want to be. I have been a medical assistant off and on for more than twenty years, a freelance writer, a medical transcriptionist, Girl Friday for my husband's office, mother of two and a wife of 25 years. I have volunteered in countless ministries and served as a Nursery Director, youth worker, cafeteria aide, etc. in the church at large. Each of these roles has been fulfilling in its own way.

But it is not about a particular career path for me anymore. It is now a matter of listening and serving when there is a need, be it with children, teens, women my own age, my grown children and more importantly, the downtrodden, the outcasts, the widows and the poor and needy. I am finding so much joy and fulfillment here in this place. I am growing up and loving the ride my God is taking me on. So, it's time to cross #27 off my list because I am finally at peace with being Denine, wife, mother and servant. Living for Him is just way better.

Thursday, December 3, 2009


So, I'm going to recommend a book at the risk of offending a few friends, neighbors and fellow church-goers who may have grown up with a fundamentalist upbringing. The book "churched," written by Matthew Paul Turner gives a child's perspective of being raised in an independent Baptist Church in the Bible Belt, aka God's country.

In 1978, when Matthew was only five, his parents left one denomination to join another, because God was clearly no longer moving at the church they'd been attending. Sound familiar? His story will resonate with those of us who have church hopped even just a little, for the sake of following a preacher, or the moving of the spirit. Matthew never intends to offend with his memoir, only to take friendly jabs here and there as he relates the number of times he ran to the altar rail of salvation and how he was secretly afraid of being alone with the pastor because he was sure that such a man of God could see right through him!

Matthew received his first real haircut (aka the Baptist cut) in a Barber shop when his parents decided to obey one particular church rule. After all he says it was because, "long hair on a woman is glorifying to God, but on a man, it's an abomination." His hair had actually begun to touch his ears! And when he was invited by a friend to attend a mega church's annual Harvest Festival one Sunday, his friend told him, "You'll love it. Please come. God always shows up on Harvest Sunday."

He burned his secular music and toys along with the rest of the youth group because they were "of the devil." No Barbie dolls, He-Man, or Transformers were allowed in this here church! No sir. And certainly not any of that Jesus rock-n-roll (Petra) some people listened to either, uh-uh.

I believe the only reason Matthew is a believer today is because he challenged the status quo. He questioned whether Christianity was about following a set list of rules, or about following Jesus. And because he wrote his memoir with such humor and candor, I can sincerely recommend this book. The title again is "churched," one kid's journey towards God despite a holy mess.

Monday, November 30, 2009

"Eating my Words--take 2"

This restaurant review is of The Dixie, a cheeseburger joint that has been a Greenwood landmark for 50 years. The Dixie used to be a true drive-in diner, with carhops zooming to your window on roller skates. It was the place to be on Friday and Saturday nights says one patron who grew up here. Now patrons eat at the counter and order from the menu on the wall. Today's meal would be another Cheeseburger special with half onion rings, half fries and drink. Total $7.24, including tax.

Cheeseburgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, floats, malts, fries and homemade cherry Cokes oh my. The Dixie remains a throwback to the 1950's. And I will mention a beverage known as "the Pickle Coke" that can be made for you upon request. A pickle Coke contains regular coca-cola, cherry juice and a healthy serving of dill pickles. I had been warned about this drink and was eager to give it a try. When I told the waitress what I wanted, she mumbled something like, "Come again? I haven't had a request for one of those in a long time!!" But sure enough she went back to the soda station and returned with my Pickle Coke, a salty sweet elixir blended with pickles, Cherry Coke and served over ice. This is one new drink that I will order again and again

And The Dixie is still an institution is this town drawing in Lander University students, CPW and Embarq workers and quite a few married couples who remember the diner from the good old days.

Eating my cheeseburger special was an adventure for several reasons. One, the waitress recalls nearly every patron's name and order who walks into the place on any given day. Two, it's kind of like family because customers tend to talk over each other, share juicy gossip, and find their way into your business. More than one person saw me taking notes and pictures and asked, "Are you a writer for the Index-Journal(Greenwood's hometown paper)?" "No, I laughed. Just an ordinary customer doing a review for personal reasons."

Page tagged along with me and took notes for this post. She wrote: "Crinkle cut fries are good!~they also need extra salt, but I like salt. The cherry Coke is good, but no pickles in mine. It's sweet, not syrupy sweet, without any pickles." Page did taste my Pickle Coke, but decided it was a weird taste for her. "Burger is really good; a very large burger and I couldn't finish it all. The burger is messy, but not too greasy like some places. Food came fast and service was great. the onion rings are breaded differently, not salty enough but not overly greasy!"

I like that The Dixie has celebrated it's 50th anniversary in G-wood. My Pickle Coke was outstanding. The hamburger patty was large, but on the thin side and probably frozen, not fresh. I noticed many couples eating lunch together which I thought was romantic or something. My onion rings were too crunchy, but not bad. My drink was refilled three times or more and our friendly waitress was great about checking back with us. Page's insurance salesman sat on the stool next to us and snapped our picture. The woman to my left regaled me with stories about the diner's heyday and she told me which specials were her favorites.

So there you have it, a positive review and yes, after sitting at the counter for over an hour, it did feel a lot like a family gathering.

Card Games and such...

Confession is good for the soul, so here's my confession for the day. I have craftily avoided learning how to play a card game called, Progressive Rummy for about 26 years.
You see, Allen's side of the family plays Progressive Rummy so often, and at every family gathering, that I run and hide. I hate most card games with a passion other than Uno, regular Rummy, Solitaire, Hearts, Spit, well you get my point. I prefer board games that rely on adjectives, charade-like games, loud and noisy games in which you shout out the answers to questions like, "In what year did Ferris Bueller became a household name?" Bueller? Bueller? The year was 1986 people.

On my 101 List is item #4: Learn to play Progressive Rummy even if it kills me. I'm proud to say that this past Friday night I endured and learned the rules and regulations for this card game. I did not win, but I did not have the highest score at the end either. My husband won, and that's all well and good because he is a competitive guy.
Me, I'm great when it comes to Taboo and word games. So, item #4 is gone forever. And that's perfectly fine with me. Here's to another 26 years of wordsy and action packed games.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Dashboard Jesus

I need constant reminders of Jesus in my daily life: a worship song, a scripture, an encouraging word from a friend. This weekend I placed a Dashboard Jesus just beside my steering wheel. After all, I figured what could be better than having his presence in my car, you know while I'm driving down the road singing praise songs. Or, better yet, to remind me not to cuss out the person who just cut me off on the 72 bypass. My dashboard Jesus rides along me with his hands in the air, waving em like He just doesn't care! WWJD... Yep, this may be what I need on a daily basis: a small, but lifelike cheesy reminder that my savior is always with me.

My 101 in 1001 Days

My daughter Bethany and her friends have decided to set 101 goals to be accomplished within 1001 days. Lofty yes, but it got me thinking too because I have not set many realistic goals for my life in the past years. I jokingly wrote a bucket list but that was short and somewhat "fluffy." So, thanks to my baby girl, I will write out My 101 in 1001 Days. Wish me luck or say a prayer as I endeavor to meet these goals. I hope to know myself better after this and to be the person God intends me to become. This is big, really big.

  1. Get some of my work published again in devotional or other format
  2. Bake healthy loaves of bread in my bread machine on a regular basis
  3. Get 30 minutes of exercise 3+ days a week
  4. Learn to play progressive rummy even if it kills me
  5. Get over my fear of failure and try new things no matter how much it embarrasses me
  6. Jump out of an airplane without breaking any bones upon landing
  7. Tell my husband I love him every day
  8. Learn some conversational Italian and/or Spanish
  9. Go to Italy to visit my relatives before it is too late
  10. Truly love those who have wronged me or my family...and then pray blessings for them
  11. Read the stacks of books beside my bed and then pass them on
  12. Accept my body for what is it; accept my looks and grow old gracefully & avoid plastic surgery
  13. Cultivate a deep sense of peace and contentment, knowing that GOD is in control
  14. Refuse to let my physical ailments define who I am and what I can do
  15. Sing again in church or other group
  16. Learn to use all of the features on my iPod, computer and cell phone
  17. Be able to take naps at any time, any place, like my husband
  18. Learn to grow indoor plants and develop a "green thumb," rather than a "black one"
  19. Wear only the clothes in my closet that fit; give away the rest. Same with shoes I never wear
  20. Blog, blog, blog...
  21. Collect sea glass every time I go to the beach and make something beautiful out of these pieces
  22. Love unconditionally because God first loved me
  23. Work on my critical spirit~ask the Holy Spirit to help me with this one
  24. Try scuba diving at least once simply because Allen enjoys it
  25. Go on a short-term mission trip outside the USA
  26. Support missionaries and sponsor a child through CMF
  27. Decide what I want to be when I grow up!!!!!!!!! A medical assistant or something better?
  28. Keep in touch with out of town friends in PA, Maryland, etc. Send cards to those girlfriends!
  29. Switch to fair-trade coffee (got that one from Bethany)
  30. Eat more whole grains, fruits and veggies
  31. Wear sunscreen on my face and hands every day, not just sometimes
  32. Learn to make an incredible Tiramisu!
  33. Go grey (gray) just to see what my hair really looks like without all the harmful color and highlights. This will be a major challenge as you can imagine--I am working on this now. Please do not be shocked!
  34. Give to the poor in my community/serve them as often as I can
  35. See no race or color. See people only as God sees them
  36. Read my Bible more often and memorize scripture
  37. Be more politically aware and write my senators and leaders when it is important to speak up
  38. Tell my son & daughter that I love them every day
  39. Build bridges in any broken relationships I have in my life. Life is too short to sweat the small stuff
  40. Join the YMCA again
  41. Invite people into our new home and practice hospitality
  42. Organize my office and papers that clutter my life~
  43. Give away any books I do not need
  44. Switch to organic or natural cosmetics & hair care products that are not tested on animals
  45. Get an old, scruffy dog. Yeah, what Beth said.
  46. Learn to drive, park and tie up the boat all by myself! Did this 3 times last weekend. Yahoo!
  47. Visit Chicago and maybe get tickets for the Oprah show-going to Chicago end of Oct. No Oprah tickets!
  48. Visit Brian in northern VA
  49. Watch the sunrise over Lake Greenwood
  50. Update my calendar yearly with the birthdays of friends and family
  51. Take more pictures and put them into photo albums
  52. Help out in a soup kitchen more than just once in a blue moon
  53. Babysit for a couple or single mom who cannot afford a sitter
  54. Clean a friend's house just because--I like cleaning so this one was easy. Thanks Jenny!
  55. Lose 10+ pounds. Oh, that's just depressing!
  56. Spend time getting to know the teens in my church and the seniors too
  57. Visualize World Peace
  58. Help Aunt Lori move to South Carolina in 2009--May happen in 2010.
  59. Help my inlaws move to South Carolina in 2009--May happen in 2010. Neither have house on market.
  60. Attend and celebrate Bethany's college graduation in 2009!
  61. Learn to bite my tongue a little more often
  62. Never go to bed angry if I can help it...or don't let the sun go down on my anger...
  63. Really keep a journal; it doesn't matter how often I write just so I write
  64. Make batches of homemade meatballs and Italian soup more often
  65. Get back on my bicycle so I can enjoy rides with my hubby
  66. Work at listening and not interrupting others when they have something to say
  67. Dream big dreams for Jordan and Bethany and believe God for the outcome!
  68. Be a good parent and a better friend to my children
  69. Kiss my husband good night whenever possible!
  70. Watch all of our Rob Bell nooma DVD's
  71. Give flowers to a friend who is sad or lonely
  72. Camp out under the stars for a night
  73. Stop biting my nails when I am stressed out or nervous
  74. Floss at least once a day
  75. Use the good china for everyday meals, not just special occasions like X-mas or Easter
  76. Shop for a month using only cloth or reuseable bags
  77. Tip a waiter or waitress who really tried to get my order right but didn't for whatever reason
  78. Go for a glider ride
  79. Take a cooking class with Allen
  80. Stop all ordering stuff via the internet for one month--done this summer it was tough.
  81. Replace old lightbulbs in the house with newer energy efficient ones
  82. Visit Asheville, NC and Athens, GA soon!
  83. Practice gentle yoga and meditation
  84. Get up and sing a karaoke song
  85. Catch fish in Lake Greenwood and throw em back. I've caught one fish so far all summer!
  86. Make stuffed grape leaves, lebanese style
  87. Attend a Clemson, USC or Georgia football game--USC game Oct 10th, 2009 going with Kevin &Julie!!
  88. Make a snow angel while living in SC
  89. Read Pride and Prejudice again and other Jane Austen classics
  90. Start working crossword puzzles again to stimulate my brain
  91. Get to know Ashley better and pray for the best in her life
  92. Take my own sunset picture over Lake Greenwood and frame it
  93. Take a meal to a neighbor
  94. Find a used elliptical machine I love
  95. Recycle as much as I can
  96. Learn to laugh at Myself!
  97. Shop at my local produce stands and farmer's markets
  98. Tell my niece how much Jesus loves her! I am praising God that Baleigh asked Jesus into her heart in 09.
  99. Participate in a Walk for Life or Relay for Breast Cancer awareness
  100. Write a love letter to Mom--
  101. Post this on my blog~P.S. I roasted my own salty & delicious pumpkin seeds too.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

"Eating my Words"...a tale of Cheeseburgers

You know it's bad when you've got cheeseburgers on the brain. In Greenwood, a small city with a population that hovers around 20,000, we have several small joints that serve Cheeseburger specials every day for $5 and some change, including drink, fries and/or onion rings. Even though I have lived in Greenwood for over two years, I have only eaten at one of these establishments.
So with this in mind, I am surrounding myself with a few burger aficionados and we will conquer the small joints in town, thereby reviewing each places' "Cheeseburger Plate Special."

Last Friday Kathy, Karen and I visited the Garden Grille at 12:05 pm. The parking lot was full and the smell of grease hung in the air.

We each ordered the lunch plate, with drink and fries or half-and-half (that would be half fries and half onion rings for you Yankees that need assistance with local lingo). Comments were jotted down on a PRO/CON notepad between bites. Karen used many adjectives in her review. Kathy loved the burger, commenting that it needed pickles and had a little too much mayo. We all agreed it was a freshly made whole beef burger (not a frozen patty) and made for a messy lunch. The burger literally slid off the bun.

The staff scored huge points for hospitality, refilling drink glasses and serving hot, hot food. I am very particular about my meal arriving hot. At the Garden Grille your fries and onion rings are brought to the table piping hot!!

So, Karen's notes are as follows:
PROS: Real Beef, not prefab, but a hand-patted burger !!-- She ordered a cheeseburger all the way with 1/2 and 1/2. Her meal cost $7.24.
Crispy Fries
Friendly Environment
Only that it was a messy burger, but, oh yes... a roll of paper towels was provided for our table.

Kathy agreed with all of the above but added the following comments:
Burger was messy due to a little excess mayo. She forgot to order pickles on her cheeseburger and this was very important. She had the cheeseburger special with fries, no onion rings. Her tab came in under $6 bucks.

Denine: Cheeseburger plate with 1/2 and 1/2, no onions on my burger.
PROS: Real beef! Super good fries and onion rings. Friendliest restaurant staff I've met in a long time.
CONS: Mayo caused burger to slide off of bun. Forgot the pickles too and prefer, ketchup, mustard and mayo combo. The beef had a slightly salty taste, not bad just different.

We must compare to other joints, but this was a great first experiment. And none of us southern gals could finish the food on our plates. So, Garden Grille gets high marks for fast service, hot food, hospitality and a tab of $7.24 for the Cheeseburger Special 1/2 and 1/2.

Next up: The Dixie where they serve a pickle Coke!!
Garden Grille on Urbanspoon

Monday, November 9, 2009

My Skydivng Adventure

Saturday morning the thermometer read 32 degrees- yes, freezing my friends. I was scheduled to arrive at Sky Dive Carolina, located in Chester, SC at 9am sharp. After registering and signing not 1 extensive waiver but 4, releasing the school from any liability in the event of my injury or possible death, I ran to the bathroom for my first nervous tinkle of the morning.

In the lobby were other first time tandem jumpers, most of whom were barely 21 years old and college students at USC. Yes, it's true I was the oldest person jumping that morning. Okay, not including the already trained professionals. Actually, I wasn't sure why I was the oldest person there, but I can tell you that it was not at all comforting for my 45 year-old ego.

So, first you sign your life away, agreeing that even your future heirs may never sue the skydiving company for anything. Then your group is taken into a room for actual jumping instructions. Part 2 was a hilarious instruction video featuring a lawyer (in suit and tie) reminding you that you just signed your rights away. Should you chicken out at this point, your $50 deposit is gone forever. Seriously, the video in all fairness gave you the basics: Keep your chin up, cross your arms and arch your back when exiting the plane. Landing correctly was also briefly demonstrated because each tandem instructor has his own method hitting the ground safely. Again, such comforting advice.

Next, an cool instructor entered the room and said, "Uh so did you watch the video?" "Any questions, ha ha?" He was wearing a jumpsuit unzipped to the waist, and spoke in this like totally surfer dude language. I thought he just woke up and hadn't had his first cup of coffee yet this morning. Nice... Nobody asked too many questions. I think we were all too afraid of being the stupid one in the class, raising our hand only to be humiliated. I dunno. Maybe I'm wrong. So, I leaned over to my husband and said, "Okay this is what you do for exit, this is what you do for landing right?" He nodded. Time for nervous tinkle #2 which would be my last before my jump.

At this point we were suited up in a lovely gray jumpsuit, a rubberized helmet and goggles that reminded me of Madonna's bra, all pointy and uncomfortable. We walked outside and into the hangar with our instructors and were put into harnesses suitable for beasts of burden. Two straps between the legs, straps at the shoulders and another belt around the waist. My instructor kind of lifted me up and into my harnesses and then began the fun process of tightening each individual belt to the point of killing any circulation in my lower half.

I chose to have my adventure photographed and videotaped so my camera man Quincy began to pepper me with questions. He was in my face every second on the ground and in the plane. And then of course, he jumped out of the plane a second before my jump so he could record my exit and take lovely still photos of me, mid-air screaming JESUS! or AWESOME! He encouraged the thumbs up sign too, alot. I think he was also there to remind us jumpers to breathe because it is a known fact that first timers tend to hold their breath and panic :)))

I can honestly say this was the biggest thrill ride of my life and it was over all too soon. Free falling is an amazing experience and my instructor also let me steer the parachute right or left. After the initial fear of jumping out of the plane, everything else allows you to see God's beauty and creation first hand. It was amazing and I look forward to Jump #2 next spring... So for now, I proudly cross this item off my 101. Another fear conquered, another amazing story for this middle-aged mama. P.S. My instructor's name was Alan. Coincidence? I think not.

Until next time breathe.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Free Fallin'

Here is my theme song for the day: Free Fallin'

Thursday, November 5, 2009

More 101

#6--Jump out of an airplane without breaking any bones. Scheduled to jump this Saturday 11-at 9 a.m. May purchase Depends undergarments as backup plan.

#47--Visited Chicago and loved it. Never saw Oprah or any celebs but I did see my childhoodriend Michele Cinna from home. Heard great blues & rock while there. Ate at Hot Doug's. Life is complete.

#87--Visited Athens, GA in October.

#100--Love Letter to my Mom (see post prior to this one).

A Love Letter to Mom

Mother, Mommy, and then my Mom



Gram’s love

Sunday School at Hope Lutheran

Summer camp where I learned to love Jesus

Swimming at Aunt Julie’s, Drive-in movies and Kennywood Park

Best cook in the world—homemade sauce & meatballs, grape leaves & stuffed olives

Anise bread for the holidays

Mancini’s Bread every day, provolone cheese and Beto’s pizza

Rough years in Jr. High, temper tantrums too

Carnegie Assembly of God got me straightened out

Apology letters to each other. Do you remember those notes we’d write?

Confidante in High School. Bruce, being at Gram’s house, love & graduation. Median School. My first car!

A new beau, this Allen from Virginia

How will you support my daughter you asked?? A ring and a promise to care for me

No worries Mom cos I’m sure he’s the One and I’m going to be Ok

Allen, my lover, my soul has been all that and more

Leaving behind Pittsburgh and my family…job in DC is calling--despair

Baby on the way, JD the blonde haired blue eyed peanut. You all came to take care of me. Colicky child #1

Toddler and Bethany kicking in the womb. Again you came. A boy and a girl, both within 2 years; colic again!

Maryland, the good years. Inner Harbor…you keeping the kids for weeks in the summer!

Bethany’s dance recital, a memory for sure. Fleetwood, Oley, Vacation in St. Pete. Riding out the hurricane and Universal Studios—we all jumped!

More trips back & forth with Megz in tow. Wave pool, Hershey Park. Yay!

Kids are growing up too fast. High schoolers now and graduation looms.

2004—JD graduates; 2005—B graduates. Colleges far away. Heartache over Jordan. Missing Bethany.

Our relationship is changing; Can you feel it? What can I say? I’m a grown woman too. Not always on the same page, but the love is always there Mom, it’s always been there. Respect and love. Remember that you pointed me to Jesus. Remember that you loved me no matter what I did or said. And I love you all the more…


Monday, November 2, 2009

Windy City

Chicago is by far one of the most beautiful cities in the US, hands down... I could stay here for a month to eat, eat and eat some more. But truly it offers so much to do with its array of museums, blues music, shopping districts and of course hot dogs. Pictures to follow but I want to go on record by saying that Anthony Bourdain knows what he's talking about when it comes to finding the best hole in the wall eateries. Hot Doug's was well worth the trip!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Obsessed with Jesus

We might be a little obsessed with Jesus in this family of ours. We have a Jesus candle that we burn in the kitchen on cooking nights, we blare worship music from top to bottom, my husband has an amazing collection of Jesus t-shirts and yes, we have the Bible in 5 translations too. If I understand my relationship with Christ correctly (and his kingdom too), I should be obsessed with Jesus. Not as a great teacher or a guru or even as my friend. None of that or this is enough. He wants all of me... and that requires great sacrifice on my part. I Love all of the statements Francis Chan makes in his book, "Crazy Love" that describe my desire for bringing his kingdom to earth.
Obsessed: To have the mind exclusively preoccupied with a single emotion or topic.

Be a lover. People who are obsessed with Jesus give freely and openly, without censure. Obsessed people love those who hate them and who can never love them back.
Be a Risk Taker. People who are obsessed with Jesus aren't consumed with their personal safety and comfort above all else. Obsessed people care more about God's kingdom coming to this earth than their own lives being shielded from pain or distress. I so want to grasp this concept! It's not about ME and it never will be about me.
Be a Friend of All. People who obsessed with Jesus connect them with the poor in some way or another. Obsessed people believe that Jesus talked about money and the poor so often because it was really important to him (1 John 2:4-6; Matt. 16:24-26).
How many times during the week do I help people in need? How many people in need do I even know? How many times do I give to people who could never repay me back?
Be Humble. A person who is obsessed with Jesus knows that the sin of pride is always a battle. Obsessed people know you can never be "humble enough, " and so that seek to make themselves less known and Christ more known. And finally, for this blog post anyway...
Be a Server. People who are obsessed with Jesus do not consider service a burden. Obsessed people take joy in loving God by loving and serving His people (Matt. 13:44; John 15:8).
To be obsessed is a great thing. To be obsessed with Jesus is just the beginning.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Rock Star

God is a Rock Star in my book. Anyone who can set the universe in motion and create a beautiful night sky rocks. Last night Allen & I had the privilege of relaxing in our hot tub while glancing up at the moon, millions of stars, planets and constellations. As my husband likes to say, it doesn't get much better than this and I agree. Yeah, He's a Rock Star alright.


Greetings all:
Just wanted to give a shout out regarding my last two posts, Stumbling and Doink!!! I would never want any readers to think that I was trying to imply that God was a big, angry meanie who likes to beat us over the head with scripture or Doink us upside the head when we mess up. If anything, he gets a bad rap. Any questions, just ask.
Until next time, breathe.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Have you ever read a book that so messed with your head you couldn't sleep right for days? Or perhaps heard a message, or something so profound that you thought, "Doink!" Now why didn't I think of that myself or why did I never see this before? Maybe it's like that Aha moment Oprah talks about all the time. For me, it's like being hit on the head with a mallet.
My first wallop to my head came when I read the book, "CRAZY LOVE" by Francis Chan. Actually, I'm still reading this book--I can't get past Chapter 6!! Crazy Love was written for those who want more Jesus. It is for those who are bored with what American Christianity offers. It is for those who don't want to plateau, those who would rather die before their convictions do. I am being challenged in so many ways. Do I really appreciate how Holy God is? He hates sin, my sin grieves Him.
Do I understand His immense love for me or that He genuinely wants an eternal relationship with me as a result of mutual love---and not out of obligation?

Wallop #2 came in the form a sermon series Pastor David preached called, "Family Talk." Each message I likened to a Come to Jesus meeting. Am I willing to sacrifice everything in order to follow Jesus? Or better yet, if Jesus showed up at my house and said sell all you have, leave your family and follow me? Leave my family? But Lord? Yeah, tough stuff.

My daughter Bethany finds it amusing that I typically read 3 to 4 books at a time. I call it multi-tasking; she calls it crazy. But even as I am still processing Crazy Love, and the sermon series from NC, I crack open a copy of Donald Miller's Blue Like Jazz, Searching for God Knows What and my new favorite, Angry Conversations with God, by Susan E. Isaacs. I know the answers to these tough questions won't be found in the form of a Christian book but in digging deeper and letting God do His thing in my heart. Surrender. Wallop...Surrender...Wallop. I know there's another Doink just around the corner.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A very late update on my 101

Okay, so I attended my first USC game last Saturday and the Gamecocks won! All I can say is I look good in the team colors...

I had the privilege of being called a Food expert last month and having 2 recipes featured in an online food column. This counts in my book as being published again as a freelance writer. Kudos to Danielle Hier and Heather Evans for your help & encouragement.http://tampabay.metromix.com/restaurants/article/food-101-mediterranean-cuisine/1458582/content

Skydiving will happen in Chester, SC in November~there will be pictures to document my tandem dive!

I am off to Athens, Georgia tomorrow to eat, drink and make merriment.

Going to KENYA

I'm living out my dreams and fears this year and in 2010. As many of you know our daughters Bethany & Erin Titus (aka, Chancho, Ziegler daughter #2) are going back to Nairobi, Kenya in January for a one year internship. While there, the girls will work on revamping the child sponsorship program of CMF. Yes, we are letting our girls go for one year because they are being called to Kenya for a very specific mission. And yes as parents we will miss them terribly and pray for them to be used in a mighty way. Here's the thing, Allen & I plan to visit them in Kenya in the spring of 2010 for approximately ten days, maybe more. We covet your prayers as we make plans to go, to get all of the immunizations required for such a trip. We are sure it will be the experience of a lifetime... I am afraid of malaria, unsanitary conditions, goat stew and the smell of waste. But I am so looking forward to meeting Mary, Wallace, Keith & Kathy Hamm (missionaries) and my new friend Virginiah who works at the Hope Center. I cannot wait to fall in love with the children of Kenya, so please pray with us as we begin our journey to a beautiful place where GOD is big and my fears are small.
In his service,

Thursday, October 8, 2009


Isaiah 30:21 Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it. "

I take medications at bedtime for various medical conditions. Typically, these meds knock me out and I sleep well. But occasionally, I wake up to make a mid-morning trek to the bathroom and well, I stumble out of bed, stumble down the hallway and into the bath. It's like the blind leading the blind because the bedroom is black, the hallway is black and I have to put my hands along the wall to feel my way along. I'm close to the road but off the path so to speak.

Have you ever stumbled in the dark trying to find your way spiritually? I know I have many times, more than I care to count. For me the nighttime stumbling in the dark is not scary, but it is clumsy and it is like driving bumper cars while groggy from sleep. I hit the wall and straighten up. Then I hit the wall again.

Funny thing is though that this stumbling around in the dark doesn't have to be. We have someone who lights the way before us. We have someone who reminds us, "This is the way; walk in it." And better yet, we have a shepherd to takes us by the hand and leads us in the paths of righteousness. I am constantly aware of my need for a brighter flashlight, a copilot, a shepherd and a hand to lead me. And maybe the next time I stumble down the hallway, I'll take the hand of the one who knows the way.
Psalm 119. 105--Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my clumsy path (paraphrase-emphasis mine).

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Kicking back with my Rum Punch

Ultimate Rum Punch
3/4 Amber Rum 1/2 Cup Coconut Rum
1/4 Cup Apricot Brandy
1 Cup Pineapple Juice
3/4 Cup Orange Juice
1/4 Cup Grapefruit Juice
Mix all ingredients together in 2 qt. pitcher. Serve over ice with a lime wedge in a tall glass.

Goombay Smash
Combine 2/3 cup apricot brandy, 1 1/4 cups coconut rum, 1 1/4 cups white rum, and 1 (46 ounce) can of pineapple juice. Serve over ice. Beware both of these drinks pack a wallop. Cheers!
"This is the ultimate beach drink!" Recipes from Coastal Living Magazine


Spinach Artichoke Dip is one of B's Secret Recipes. I made my own version of this dip for 20 years, but Bethany wanted to find a recipe that was more like the TGIF dip, extra creamy and garlicky. And now our friends routinely ask us for her version. Bethany, you are turning into a great cook! Keep it up girlfriend.

Artichoke-Spinach Dip

1 can drained artichokes
1 pkg. frozen chopped spinach
1/2 c. sour cream
1/2 c. mayonnaise
3 oz. cream cheese
1/3 c. shredded Mozzarella
1/4 c. fresh Parmesan cheese
1/2 to 1 tsp. garlic powder or granulated garlic

Cook spinach according to the directions on package and drain. Drain the artichokes and chop them. Mix the artichokes and spinach with the remaining ingredients. Put in greased 1 quart dish; sprinkle a bit more garlic powder and shredded mozzarella cheese on top. Bake at 325 degrees for 20-30 minutes. Serve with tortilla chips, pita wedges, crackers. Also good with sour cream and salsa on the side.
This recipe is easy to double for parties.

Cooking Shows A-Z

This is the only my second weekly rant but it is not a rant in the tradition sense of the word. Have any of you considered the number of cooking shows there are on Food Network, The Travel Channel, Fine Living and DIY? I spent a few minutes counting the list on the Food Network today and came up with 81 cooking or food related shows. My question for the week is, "Who in the world needs 81 cooking show options?" I admit that I am a foodie and have been ever since my parents treated me to filet mignon, lobster, rare roast beef stuffed with garlic gloves and homemade ravioli. Some of these mouth-watering meals were prepared by my Italian mother, grandmother and aunts as well. But seriously, 81 shows!
Here's a brief rundown from A-Z:
$40 a Day, 30 Minute Meals, 5 Ingredient Fix, Ace of Cakes, All-American Festivals, Ask Aida, Barefoot Contessa, BBQ with Bobby Flay, Behind the Bash, Big Daddy's House, Boy Meets Grill, Chefs vs. City, Chic & Easy, Chopped, Cooking for Real, Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, Down Home with the Neelys, Easy Entertaining with Michael Chiarello, Emeril Live, Everyday Italian, Extreme Cuisine with Jeff Corwin, Feasting on Waves, Food Detectives, Food Network Challenge, Food Network Specials, Giada at Home, Giada's Weekend Getaways, Glutton for Punishment, Good Deals with Dave Lieberman, Good Eats, Grill It! with Bobby Flay, Guy Off the Hook, Guy's Big Bite, Ham on the Street, Have Fork, Will Travel, Healthy Appetite with Ellie Krieger, Heavyweights, How to Boil Water, How'd That Get on My Plate?, Hungry Detective, Inside Dish, Iron Chef America, Next Iron Chef, Jamie at Home, Molto Mario, My Life in Food, Nigella Bites, Nigella Express, Nigella Feasts, Party Line with the Hearty Boys, Paula's Best Dishes, Paula's Home Cooking, Paula's Party, Quick Fix Meals with Robin Miller, Rachael Ray's Tasty Travels, Rachael's Vacation, Recipe for Success, Restaurant Makeover, Road Tested, Al Roker on the Road, Sandra's Money Saving Meals, Semi-Homemade with Sandra Lee, Sara's Secrets, Secrets of a Restaurant Chef, Semi-Homemade, Simply Delicious with Ingrid Hoffman, Sugar Rush, Ten Dollar Dinners with Melissa d'Arabian, The Best Thing I Ever Ate, The Chef Jeff Project, The Cooking Loft, The Essence of Emeril, The Next Food Network Star, The Next Iron Chef, The Secret Life Of, Throwdown with Bobby Flay, Tyler's Ultimate, Ultimate Recipe Showdown, Unwrapped, Viva Daisy!, What would Brian Boitano Make?, and Will Work for Food.
I love many of these chefs and their shows. It does make me laugh however when I see that certain celebs get their own shows--such as NBC's Al Roker and former skater Brian Boitano. I guess I naively believed you had to have some cooking expertise or formal culinary training to land such a gig. And while I regularly tune in to Anthony Bourdain (Mr. Snarky) and Man vs. Food on the Travel Channel, Iron Chef, Bobby Flay, Chopped, Guy Off the Hook, Unwrapped, and the Next Food Network Star, I find myself wondering how many recipes I could find for a fabulous Chicken Piccata on the websites of these networks. More than I care to try. So for now I will continue to tune in if only until my mind goes numb or until I prepare 5 of the recipes in my own cookbook collection. Once a foodie, always a foodie. Hey, just give me a hunk of bread, a wedge of sharp cheese, kalamata olives, soppressata and a glass of $2 Buck Chuck and I'm a happy camper. But if you're a serious wannabe I understand if, "You have the cooking know-how and a personality that pops, now is the time to apply to be on Season 6 of The Next Food Network Star." I might even apply myself unless Danny DeVito gets his own show first...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Welcome to my weekly rant!

Some days there are just too many thoughts floating around in this head of mine. Good thoughts, bad thoughts and completely random thoughts. For instance, if I could be anyone in history right now I would choose to be Dave Barry, cranking out witty commentaries for a syndicated paper. Since that position is no longer available I have to decided to include a weekly "rant" here on my blog. And I will touch on subjects likely to challenge your thinking and/ or provoke you (hopefully, not to anger), but you get my point.
So, get ready because I am about post my first rant. I hope you come along for the ride and as always feel free to leave me your comments.
Should we in your opinion honor the position of President of the United States, even when we do not agree with his policies? I am merely talking about giving honor or paying respect here folks. I certainly am not an Obama fan but I do not think hearing one speech from our President would have scarred my children for life. And I do believe in teaching our young people to respect those in authority--police officers, soldiers, etc. This week President Obama addressed school children in a speech and parents had the right to keep their kids out of school so as to avoid liberal indoctrination. Hot button, right? It's just one of the things I have been thinking about this week because several friends & relatives brought up the subject ad nauseam.
I leave you with this. Think it over and get back to me. And by all means, please don't shoot the messenger.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

"You might be a coffee snob if..."

It all started in 1986, our coffee obsession that is. Our son Jordan was just a baby and we were having dinner with our friends Brad & Sue. Following a delicious meal, Brad pulled out a small appliance that neither Allen nor I were familiar with: Eureka, it was a Krups or Braun brand coffee grinder!! At that time in our marriage and being the parents of a newborn baby, we bought Eight O' Clock coffee, but had it ground at our local grocery store. I'm sure there are those of you who can remember the tantalizing smell of Eight O' Clock from your childhood Kroger or A & P. The cashier or bagger would grind your coffee beans on the percolator setting and you took the red bag home and scooped out your own freshly ground Joe.
Once we found out that a decent coffee grinder could be purchased for less than $10, we were hooked. I'm waxing philosophic here, but really that grinder changed our lives~We were still perking our own coffee every day, sometimes twice a day when the mood struck. But now we were coffee junkies.
Sometime in the 90's my husband stumbled across Baltimore Coffee & Tea, a coffee roaster located in a business area he frequented. He came home one day with bags of freshly roasted Baltimore Blend. The folks at Baltimore Coffee were beyond savvy. They had slapped labels on each bag that read, "Freshly ground on July 18th for Karl Ziegler. Pure marketing genius! We were now coffee connoisseurs.
To this day my husband cannot buy regular ground coffee unless I drag him kicking and screaming into the coffee isle. We have a coffee situation on our hands and it's not likely to change any time soon. Now the Ziegler family mostly purchases fair trade extravagant coffees like Ethiopian Harrar, Tanzanian Peabody or our longtime favorite Baltimore Blend. NO Folgers, Maxwell House, Chock Full of Nuts in this house. And definitely, none of that half-caffeine crap some drink and call it real good. Yep, we are coffee snobs here and proud of it.
P.S. As a side note, my husband rants a lot about Starbucks but...we do occasionally support them to keep Bethany & Erin happy... And we are currently only on our 2nd grinder in 25 years of marriage. No other appliance has survived as long. I wonder if we should read more into this curious fact. Perhaps over that morning cup of coffee.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

In Passing...

We have lost 2 dear souls in the past 24 hours. One was a man neither of us knew personally, but we share the grief the Senn family feels right now. (Craig Senn works with Allen at ID Shop.)
Today, our dear neighbor Alvin Putnam passed into eternity. We got to visit Alvin and his wife Ina about 3 weeks ago when he was on the CCU unit of Self-Regional Hospital for fluid build-up around his heart, lungs and overall weakness. Alvin was a good neighbor, the kind who appreciated the small gestures in life. He touched our lives while we lived in the Driftwood community.
Craig Senn's dad, Bill Senn, had a stroke yesterday. He was taken off of the ventilator and died today. Mr. Senn leaves behind a wife, family and grandchildren. He passed around 11:25 this morning.
Mr. Putnam left this earth around 1pm. His wife and son were with him during this time. His wife is now in a fragile state herself.
I can't help but wonder if either man met Jesus as he took his final breath. Jesus is never too late; nor is he ever far away when you need Him the most. All He asks is that you call on his name. Please pray for the Senn and Putnam families this week as funeral preparations are underway. Family members will be coming in from the state and from far away places. Pray that Jesus was a friend who was present at the very end, an end that was really only the beginning of an eternal life. Pray that the families who are left experience Christ's love in a real way. Two dear souls passing each other within a matter of minutes. Because no one is guaranteed another day, let alone another hour, please tell those closest to you, "I Love You."

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Fall from Grace

Hate crimes are alive and well in America. Everyone knows this and we should not tolerate it. What sickens me even more is seeing or hearing hatred preached in the church universal. I must remind myself to pray for this gentleman Fred Phelps, even as he calls himself a christian. He has been head pastor at Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas for more than 40 years. Christianity has a bad enough rap without the Phelps family doing more damage. This family protests at the funerals of fallen soldiers; they rally against homosexuals; they say that IED bombs are God's judgment and never once offer a way of salvation or repentance. Hate is all they know. God will not be mocked and I truly feel sorry for the thousands they have offended with their message. It is not a message of love or a message that would have ever come from Jesus' lips. You can watch the entire documentary entitled, "Fall from Grace" on netflix.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Jump for Joy

Today, I will experience joy. Hmm, much thought is given to what brings a person joy or even peace for that matter. What brings me joy? Who or what bring me lasting peace? God does. And even though I am on a quest for both of these qualities in my life, the joy that rises in my spirit from the simplest of pleasures usually comes from the following:
1. Laughter, the best medicine!
2. Singing in the car at the top of my lungs
3. A beautiful rainbow, sunrise or sunset. All reflect God's magnificence.
4. The smell of freshly ground coffee
5. Chocolate cake or a piece of dark chocolate
6. Sand beneath my feet and between my toes!
7. Kisses from my husband
8. My Toms
9. God's Word
10. The warmth of sunshine on my face
11. Great movies
12. Best friends
13. Playing, playing, playing without abandon
14. Italian food
15. Lavender
16. Beautiful music that makes me cry
17. Carolina blue skies

So, I've come up with 17 things that give me glimpses of joy. Are there more? Of course. You may not necessarily agree with my list, but consider today what brings you the most joy. Really,
do have a joyful day. And until next time, breathe.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Wisdom in Waiting

From Wisdom in Waiting: Life is nothing more than waiting for God's direction in your life. You've asked Him for direction. It has yet to come. Surely God must want you to go with your best instincts. If He did not, He surely would have answered by now. His silence can mean nothing other than to go ahead and do what you think is best, right?
Psalm 106:1-23 reminds us of the history of Israel's rebellion. "They soon forgot what he had done and did not wait for his counsel (v. 13). They forged ahead! Had they remembered, they would have waited. I personally do not like waiting. And I am stuck in a waiting pattern like never before.

I know deep in my heart that I must not act impulsively right now. The impulse to act quickly always leads us (me) to our own human devices. But I, like most believers, am trigger happy. I take matters into my own hands. I need to be in control. Silly isn't it that I cannot wait for God to speak or to come through on my behalf. When we choose to do what we think is best, we are left then with the limitations of our thinking! And we are left with the consequences of those actions. Thankfully, God rarely works in a rush. Forming Jesus within us--the renewal of our minds--takes time.

So I wait. And I wait because there is virtually no way for me to discern God's will without waiting quietly. I don't even like the "quietly part here." I thrive on noise but am learning that all that noise drowns out the voice of God. Self-generated desires must be quelled. Again I pray, Lord, your will, not mine. God must be asked. We must listen. The Word must take root in our hearts. The counsel of others in the body of Christ must be sought. The options must be weighed. In time, one course of action will stand clear. The voice of God will whisper in your ear: "This is the way. Walk in it."

How much do your trust the wisdom of God? Enough to wait until after it's "too late"? God won't heed our deadlines, but HE is never too late. His direction will come. His way will be clear, and His timing will be perfect.
So for now I am trusting that the answers will be there at just the right time.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

No Online Spending yet!

Well it's been two whole weeks since my last blog post for many, many reasons. We came back from St. Lucia to reality too quickly. It was like being sucked into an emotional vortex and I truly experienced some reverse culture shock. I do not look at trailers, run-down clap-board houses through the same eyes. I see poverty all around me in Greenwood and my heart does a little flip. Then as I showed my extended family our vacation pictures my heart broke once again and I realized that my pictures did not convey enough of the "real" St. Lucia. The island and the impact it left still resonate. So much so that I would go back today in a heartbeat. Not just to escape the pressures of this life, but to be immersed in another culture where the pace is slower, and the simple joy of living is evident all around you. People who have very little appreciate life and the gifts God bestows.
On another note, I am 25 days into my month with no online spending. And believe me I have been bombarded daily with sales fliers, email updates from Pottery Barn, Old Navy, etc. Can I get an AMEN here?
Until next time, breathe deeply because that's exactly what I will be doing.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

No Online Spending

So... I am learning that it is very hard to keep up with this 101 in 1001 Days list that I started back in October 2008. Months go by and I forget to update the list. I do feel it is important to track my own progress. But this got me to thinking about item number #80 and it's a doozy: Give up all shopping via the internet for one month. I think July or August is the month to try this since June is winding down and I just had a little point and click session this morning with The Body Shop's website. For me, the problem is getting those tempting little emails that say, "SALE" or "FREE SHIPPING."

But on a positive note I can cross off the following #'s:
3. 30 minutes of exercise 3 times a week. Swimming in the lake and walking are very helpful.
6. Get ready to jump out of an airplane before my 45th birthday!!!
7. Tell my wonderful husband that I love him every day. No brainer right?
14. Refuse to let my physical ailments define who I am and what I can do. Again, swimming across the cove hurt like the dickens, but I am glad I did it.
23. Work on my critical spirit. I am thankful to Pastor David for challenging sermons on this subject.
#40 Join the YMCA. We never go!
#60 Attend & celebrate Bethany's graduation from ACC. She was not able to walk but we are celebrating her achievements and congratulate her success!! We are proud of Baby Girl.
Well, there you have it. A brief update. And I will attempt to keep my fingers away from the mouse in the next 30 days. Perhaps I should unsubscribe to those pesky stores. Until next time-Breathe.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Tequila Lime marinade coming up

This is one of our favorite summer recipes. A perfect Mojito and some coconut jasmine rice complete the meal. Summertime and the living is easy folks.

3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon lime zest
Small handful fresh cilantro, leaves and stems chopped fine
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup gold tequila
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin or chili powder
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Meat choices:
1 1/2 pounds large or jumbo shrimp, cleaned and deveined
4 swordfish steaks, 1/2 inch thick or 1 1/2 pounds sea scallops, cleaned and threaded on wooden skewers
Allen and I almost always use this marinade for shrimp or fish. You can leave the shell on the shrimp if you prefer to peel and eat after grilling.
Mince garlic with salt to form a paste, chopping in lime zest and cilantro.

Transfer to a small bowll and whisk in lime juice, tequila, and spices. Pour into heavy duty Ziploc or a glass baking dish. Add fish or skewered scallops and cover or zip bag tight. * Soaking the skewers will keep them from burning and add to the flavor.
Marinate in the refrigerator 30 minutes, turning once. Remove from marinade. Grill over very hot coals till cooked to taste, about 2-3 minutes per side, depending on thickness.
*Serve with hot jasmine rice. For coconut rice, add a splash of lite coconut milk, 1/4 cup grated coconut and a sprinkle of mango powder. Cumin also works in place of the mango powder.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

New Friends & Family

Last week John's family arrived from California. My husband was quickly inducted into the family, Mi Familia, as they say in Spanish. No matter how you say it, families are great fun.

John's family includes Mama Luz, Dad Alfonso, brother Marcos, niece Trini and nephew Giovanni-(I hope I am spelling names correctly here). Allen was taught the fine art of making homemade tortillas by Marcos. He came home with the secret recipe, a bag of special flour and the charge to make homemade tortillas often!

Our family is growing and changing as well. Erintitus has arrived, a recent college grad and Bethany's Kenya partner. Erin will be spending her summer with us here on Lake Greenwood. Even though it is only June 18th, the summer fun is well under way. I've a feeling we're in for some boating, tubing, tortilla parties and a whole lot of laughter. And did I mention trips to WH? Mi casa es su casa.

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Stupidity Award goes to....

Forrest Gump's mama used to tell him, "Stupid is as stupid does," and with good reason. Mama was doing all she could to prepare her son for the real world with all of its pain and suffering. My mama never said those exact words to me, but today would have been a good day for her to tell me, "Girl if you had a brain , you'd be harmful." Not a nice saying, but an appropriate one.

Today, I followed through on a harebrained idea; one that could have cost me my life or possibly a limb or two. Today, I decided to swim from my dock to the other side of the lake and back without the aid of a life vest, noodle or even goggles. And there were jet skis and boats whizzing by as I struggled just to stay afloat. I quickly developed a headache after water hit my eardrums. I had trouble breathing while doing the crawl stroke because hair fell on my face every time I needed to come up for air. Had I worn goggles or a swim cap I might have avoided this pitfall.

It took me forever just to reach the buoy for our cove. I realize that I could have given up and turned back to home but my stupid, stupid pride wouldn't let me. Turning back in my oxygen-deprived brain equaled Failure of the worst kind.

You see, I'm a fish or at least I think I'm a fish. I've been swimming all my life and I enjoyed swimming many laps when we had a family swimming pool. It seemed like I could go forever without tiring. Yes, today my mother would have said, "If you had a brain, you'd be harmful." Harmful to myself that is.

My muscles will tell the real story tomorrow am. And if I'm not too terribly sore, I may practice swimming out to the buoy once again and turning for home. That way I can get 30+ minutes of cardio without drowning in the process. My husband says there are other ways to get cardio without risking life and limb. Stupid is as stupid does, Forrest.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Top Ten things I've learned living in SC

Okay, so my husband keeps telling me that I have picked up on a lot of southern ways in the 19+ plus months we have lived here in SC. He also keeps teasing me and telling me that I need to blog about my transition from a D*@!*%$n Yankee to Carolina Girl. I know full well that I will never be fully accepted as a "southerner," but I'm fine with it. People here have been very welcoming and I love the friendliness or southern hospitality. I love it when my bank teller asks, "What else can I do for you Mrs. Ziegler?" Frankly, it is one quality I find missing in my northern counterparts. So, here in Dave Letterman fashion is my Top Ten List for the South:
1. It's never Hi or Hello; It is always Heyyyyyyy. Howyadoin?
2. Steak and baked potatoes are a big deal, especially when served with ranch dressing/aka special sour cream.
3. It is impolite to blow your horn while driving behind an idiot. Nope, no matter what, do not lay on that horn. People glare you for acting like a Yankee!
4. It is however, common courtesy to wave to perfect strangers on the street or on the lake as you pass each other on your boats, Sea-Doo or other watercraft vehicles.
5. SC is divided into 2 camps: USC fans and Clemson fans. Upon moving to SC one must immediately declare loyalty to a college team--I will refrain from telling you which team I chose.
6. Mud-bogging. Pickup trucks. Big pickup trucks with monster truck wheels.
7. Shag dancing is something to be learned; one cannot fake these dance moves for very long.
8. Rebel Flags, American Flags and South Carolina flags abound. Not always in this order.
9. It is imperative that you learn how to mash a button. It is also good to know that you are "fixin to do something or fixin to go somewhere." These are very important phrases.
10. It is either Ya'll or Y'all depending on whether you imply all ya'll or y'all. All you all know what I mean.
I could go on, but these are just a few observations. Of course I do realize that BBQ is king down here, as is hash, shrimp and grits, sweet tea, pimento cheese, corn bread, black eyed peas, collards and the like. Good stuff and I am grateful to be here in the land of Dixie!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Recycled Bags Gone Wild!

Would it be fair to say that I have a plethora of recycled grocery bags? I'm seriously wondering if I should give some of my bags away to someone in need. My bag collection started simply enough with an adorable red Piggly Wiggly bag! For only .99 it was hard to pass up such a bargain in light of saving the environment. A second bag was purchased at Walmart, the Evil Empire and 4 more followed from Corley's, our local meat market. Allen generally carries the 2 from Corley's in his car. And then a funny thing happened. I received 2 oversized plastic shopping bags as a Christmas present. These two bags are my favorite because they are the size of department store shopping bag. They hold the most stuff in the best way. These bags came from Pier 1 and have catchy prints on them including the Eiffel Tower and various other landmarks. Sleek, stylish and durable. I realize I am name dropping here, but it is unintentional
I love irony. So, all told I have accumulated close to 15 bags. One from the wine store has 6 dividers in it just in case you feel the need to purchase 6 bottles at one time. Another bag reads, Nature's Remedies. While in Pittsburgh last month I purchased a great black and gold Steelers tote.

Recycling bags run amok I tell you. I have lined them all up in my living room and it is ridiculous. If I am at a store and happen to forget to carry in my collection of earth bags, I will probably buy another just because I am that anti "plastic" these days. Forgetting my bags? This realistically should never happen since they have taken over my car, but it does actually happen. I'm beginning to think an intervention might be in order. Would anyone like to borrow a tote?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Soy Beans vs Bacon

I am married to a wonderful man. A man who loves all things pork. He commonly refers to himself as a "carnivore" and anyone who knows my man is well acquainted with his quest for Baconnaise. Last week his shipment of Baconnaise arrived. We made BLT sandwiches that night that were delicious in an unhealthy fashion. Prior to dinner I asked my man what he'd like to have to go along with our Baconnaise BLT delights and to my surprise, he suggested Edamame, the soybean steamed and salted in it's original form. No tofu or tofurkey for him, but edamame is okay. This paradox right here is one of the reasons I love this man. Let's just say he consumed more edamame that night than bacon or bacon-flavored dressing. Yep, I love my carnivore!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

P.S. Skydiving

I am almost ready to take the plunge, or rather to make the jump. If I can get up enough courage by my 45th birthday, I will go skydiving tandem style here in SC. Thanks to Kimberly I now know the cost and in general the feeling of pain & exhilation that awaits me. More on this to follow. And just so you know, there's a pretty good chance I'm only doing this to cross the item off my 101 list.


On March 20th of this year I wrote out a prayer in my journal that my spirit would be reborn. On May 12th, 2009 my daughter Bethany sent me a devotional she thought I might enjoy reading.
The devotional was titled, "The Greatest Miracle in the World," by Og Mandino. I am going to share a few excerpts from this because it inspired me and was in some way an answer to my prayer dated May 12th. I hope it touches your heart.

I love you. You are the greatest miracle...

"The passing years have destroyed your recollection, for they have filled your mind with fear and doubt and anxiety and remorse and hate and there is no room for joyful memories where these beasts habitate.
Weep no more. I am with you...and this moment is the dividing line of your life. All that has gone before is like unto no more than that time you slept within your mother's womb. What is past is past. Let the dead bury the dead.
This day you return from the living dead. This day, like unto Elijah with the widow's son, I stretch myself upon thee three times and you live again.
This day, like unto Elisha with the Shunammite's son, I put my mouth upon your mouth and my eyes upon your eyes and my hands upon your hands and your flesh is warm again.
This day, like unto Jesus at the tomb of Lazarus, I command you to come forth and you will walk from your cave of doom to begin a new life.
This is your birthday. This is the new date of your birth. Your first life, like unto a play of the theatre, was only a rehearsal. This time the curtain is up. This time the world watches and waits to applaud. This time you will not fail.
Light your candles. Share your cake. Pour the wine. You have been reborn.
Like a butterfly from its chrysalis you will fly...fly as high as you wish, and neither the wasps nor dragonflies nor mantids shall obstruct your mission or your search for the true riches of life.
Feel my hand upon thy head.
Attend to my wisdom. Let me share with you, again, the secret you heard at your birth and forgot.
You are my greatest miracle.
You are the greatest miracle in the world.
Those were the first words you ever heard. Then you cried. They all cry..."
I will claim May 12, 2009 as the day of my rebirth.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

God's Bountiful Kindness

"Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word."
Psalm 119:37

Fruit salad in the month of July or August is a special treat--watermelon chunks nestled next to ripe strawberries, blueberries and maybe even raspberries. Yum! The flavors are succulent. Fresh fruit is good for our bodies because it provides vitamins A & C, and E--important nutrients. God designed our bodies to live on healthy foods. He also designed a way for our spiritual bodies to grow in strength and might. Our spiritual nourishment comes from his Word and the Holy Spirit.
God, in his bountiful kindness, gave us his written Word to carry with us in our daily lives. It is through the eternal goodness of God's word that we learn about our Father's character and gain understanding of his kindness and mercy. Being saturated with God's Word is the beginning of aligning our lives with his character and spreading his kindness to others.
Imagine again a tasty fruit salad. When we spend time in the Word and in prayer, our spiritual fruit is healthy and full of life.
Now imagine making fruit salad with fruit that is days old. Fruit flies take over and leave you with unrecognizable lumps. When we fail to read God's Word and focus instead on worthless things, aren't we more likely to be unkind and disobedient? We react to situations inappropriately because we have deprived our bodies of their spiritual nourishment. God's Word does preserve us. It has the ability to keep us from worthless things and can keep our kindness from deteriorating. God can't use us when our fruit is moldy.

Weed & Water:

Pray for the strength to resist pursuing worthless things. Prayer for the day: Father, turn my eyes from worthless things and...

*Fruit that is not used rots quickly.
Taken from Bible Seeds 2002/DZ

Monday, May 4, 2009


One of the greatest joys in this life is spending time with my soul mate. Being married for 25 years this June is another. And being the parents of 2 grown adult children is equally as rewarding.We managed to be "empty nesters" for a time and then entered the stage of life known as boomerang. This condition occurs when one or more of your adult children returns to the nest for financial or emotional reasons. My friend Linda had warned me this might happen because Allen and I became empty nesters at such an early age, 44 & 45 respectively. Linda too has experienced this very common stage. I left home at age 19 and did not move back in with Mom & Dad.
Although we are experiencing a certain loss of privacy right now, we are reaping the benefits of engaging conversation with our grown children. We have outrageous vegetarian meal nights, boating adventures and laughter that we wouldn't trade for anything. It is great fun to reminisce over the good old days when the kids were young. They really got into having pool parties every summer, bonfires in the fall and our annual Christmas Eve/Christmas morning festivities.

I know that having Jordan and Bethany home is but for a season. It is a good season; one my husband and I will cherish until this season passes and a new one begins. I have a feeling Summer 2009 will be a summer to remember. Boomerang!