Monthly Archives: March 2010

Planning a Vacation (Write One Leaf on



‘Useful’ Writers Group 3/24/10 #2 (unedited)


Writers Group—03/24/10

(Prompt ‘The Bridge Poem’ from Teaching with Fire’)

(Notes: Seeing, touching, both sides Sick of filling in all those gaps, Sick of ______, Being useful)

Why is it so important for me to useful? The ever-present demand in my soul to have a purpose compels me to find a way to live. Ever searching, ever wondering…is this enough? I’ll be 50 years old this June and I’m still wondering what I will be when I grow up.

There have been simpler times. Not easy but simple. I chose to be a Mother, I didn’t have any career aspirations or marketable skills I had to abandon to pour myself into that role so for many years ‘Mother’ was at the center of my identity. The only questions surrounding that stage of life had to do with balance. I understood the basic concept of adjusting the mask that drops from the airplane ceiling with oxygen flowing through it on my own face before trying to help anyone around me, so I took care of myself fairly well most of the time. But it was hard to venture out into the area of pleasure. As the children became more self-sufficient and I had more disposable time to decide how to use every day, the struggle grew. Do I do what I think I’m supposed to do or do what I want? Do I even know what I really want? So much of what I think I want stems from that damn compulsion to feel purposeful, to be useful.

Everywhere I turn there are people happy to tell me how I can best be useful to them or to the universe. Part of me wants to have someone answer this question for me and of course part of me wants to be free to decide myself. There’s the rub. I am free, in fact responsible to answer the question. No one else really knows. Those who have true integrity admit they are wrestling with the question for themselves, how could they possibly answer if for me.

Is it possible that what my soul deeply wants is to love? Not so much by being useful, for that so often leads to manipulating or ‘helping’ others do what I think they should do. If all the law and the prophets are wrapped up in Loving God and loving others is there a way to live that out without pressure? By faith I believe my deepest heart, now a heart of flesh not stone…made first in the Image of God but hardened through sin and then remade to be gradually conformed into the Image of Christ. If love is to guide me I’m sure there will be times of usefulness, but if usefulness is the goal it’s possible to live that out without love at all. I should know, I nearly killed my marriage and destroyed my son with that kind of goal.

Writers Group 3/24/10 #1 (unedited)


I’m late to Writer’s Group so I will need to write about whatever comes to mind.

I made it. It would have been easy to just skip it (again). I’m not sure what goes on inside as I make decisions about how I spend my time. Something keeps me from fully pursuing what I want.

I want to write, I want to be a writer.  I don’t know why. I don’t even know if it’s a good thing. No, I do know it’s a good thing, I’m just not sure why I want it. The motive may not be good.

But that’s not what’s on my mind today. Today the question is…why do I sabotage the development of my own dreams? I could have checked to see if the address to the church was in my GPS before I raced out of the door. I didn’t have a choice about the two phone calls that interrupted my morning but I did mismanage the hours before that.

This is life. I’m not going to beat myself up for missing the first assignment. It takes a lot for me to get here and I’m here. And I’m writing. If I had stayed home I probably wouldn’t be writing. The facebook/twitter thing is definitely keeping me from accomplishing as much as I’d like to but even today I can see the positives from putting tidbits of my life online. My last status post was ‘I’m getting ready to go to my Writer’s Group in Menlo Park. Did I just admit that?!!!’ Funny thing, it’s been so long since I attended I even wrote the wrong city.

As I was loading the car a friend called after reading the status update. As she asked about the Writer’s Group I realized I had forgotten the name and address of where I was going. My dear friend got on her computer and looked up the address (after much verbal debate with myself – ‘is it Cupertino, Sunnyvale – NO – Mt. View! That’s it! Presbyterian Church in Mountain View.’   ‘I used to live near there I can tell you how to get there!’ she said. ‘That’s ok just give me the address, I’ll punch it into the GPS at the next stoplight that way I can get off of the phone.’  All I need is to get a ticket on top of everything else. I couldn’t find my blue tooth in the rush this morning. And it’s a good thing because I saw four Highway Patrol cars on 85 as I drove here. I’m also glad I didn’t speed – the cost of the ticket plus the time it would have taken to pull over and get it would have really discouraged me.

I’m really curious to hear what the first prompt was but I really am ok with having written my own story as I get back into the routine of writing – at least once a week.

Next step, get the lap top out – my hand hurts from writing.

Artist Trading Cards


The backside of the package label reads:

What are artist trading cards?

Artist Trading Cards (ATCs) are miniature pieces of art that are traded around the world. Artists create, trade and collect art at organized ‘swap’ events, either in person or online. It is a great way to meet other artists and share your work. The only official rule for ATCs is the size: 2.5″x3.5″.

How did the movement start?

In 1997, M. Vanci Stirnemann, a Swiss artist, created 1200 cards by hand as part of an exhibit. On the last day, he invited others to create their won cards and trade with him during the closing reception. After that, the movement took off as other artists organized major ‘swap’ events! Today, there are ATC swaps in almost every major city around the world. There are also may online swaps.

How do I create ATCs?

Most swaps are open to any media, materials or techniques as long as the card fits into a standard trading card sleeve. Art can be original, limited edition or series. Artist should include the following information on the back of the card: name, contact information(email or address), title of piece, and number if it is part of an edition or series. ATCs are treaded, not sold. However, there are some artists who choose to sell cards. Cards that are sold are called Art Card Editions or Originals (ACE)).

How do I trade cards?

You can locate an in-person swap in your area, find an online swap, or organize your own swap. There are a number of Web sites that others have created to help artists get started. They can be found by doing online searches using key words such as ‘artist trading cards.’ You can also find out more information by visiting

Join the movement! Create, swap and collect!

To see my first attempt, click ‘more’…..

Read the rest of this entry

St. Patrick’s Day Dinner (Corned Beef & Cabbage and Irish Soda Bread)


I don’t remember where I found these recipes. I cut them from a magazine years ago and unfortunately I trimmed all evidence of which magazine it was from. The article was about a man named Patrick who hosted a large party every St. Patrick’s Day and prepared this meal. I think it might have been Sunset Magazine but I’m not sure, just let it be known I tried to give credit to whoever deserves it. I did not make up these recipes, that’s the point.

For our family of 4 (with an occasional guest or two) I make the amount for 12 people because we love the leftovers, including Grilled Reubens. If we have an actual dinner party (up to 12 people usually) I make the amount for 25. I’ve never tried to cook for 50 people, that’s just crazy!  So I will not include the directions for that amount.

Patrick’s Corned Beef & Cabbage


For 12; For 25

  • 1 3/4 lb.; 3 1/2 lb.  Onions
  • 2 1/2 lb.; 5 lb.  Carrots
  • 6 lb.; 12 lb.  Corned Beef*
  • 1 c.; 2 c.  Malt Vinegar
  • 6 oz.; 12 oz.  Irish Stout
  • 1 Tbsp.; 2 Tbsp.  Mustard Seed
  • 1 Tbsp.; 2 Tbsp.  Coriander Seed
  • 1/2 Tbsp.; 1 Tbsp.  Black Peppercorns
  • 1/2 Tbsp.; 1 Tbsp.  Dill Seed
  • 1/2 Tbsp.; 1 Tbsp.  Whole Allspice
  • 2; 4  Dried Bay Leaves
  • 3 lb.; 6 lb.  Cabbage, rinsed
  • 2 1/2 lb.; 5 lb.  Small (2 in.) thin-skinned potatoes
  • 1/3 cup; 2/3 cup  Coarse-grain mustard
  • 1/3 cup; 2/3 cup  Dijon mustard

*Brisket, which is fattier and more succulent and flavorful – what we prefer – or round, which is leaner but can be dry, spiced or unspiced.

To serve 12, use a 14-20 quart pan, for 25 use 2 pans (14-20 quart each).

Coarsely chop enough onions and carrots to make 1 cup each (1 cup each for 12, 2 cups each for 25) and place in the bottom of each pan. Place corned beef with liquids and seasoning packets in appropriate pans, cutting to fit in one layer. Add vinegar, stout, spices, and bay leaves. Add enough water to just cover beef. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat (20-30 minutes). Simmer until meat is tender when pierced, 2 1/2 – 3 hours.

Meanwhile, cut remaining onions into wedges (leave part of stem intact so the wedges hold together after cooking). Cut remaining carrots into 2-inch lengths, half lengthwise if they are large. Cut cabbages into wedges (serving size) leaving core intact so they hold together after cooking. Scrub potatoes.

Add onions, carrots and potatoes to tender beef, place cabbage on top. Cover and return to simmer until cabbage is tender when pierced, 15-20 minutes.

With a slotted spoon scoop out vegetables onto warm serving dishes, cover with foil and place in warm oven. Using tongs and a slotted spoon, remove beef to cutting board. Cut off and discard fat. Slice meat across the grain (thinner if you plan to use in sandwiches later). Wrap with foil and place in oven with veggies while the last minutes preparations are made. Serve with mustards and black and tans (stout and lager layered in a glass) or your favorite beer (we like Newcastle even if it is English instead of Irish:)

Click ‘more’ to get the Irish Soda Bread recipe.

Read the rest of this entry

Buttermilk Biscuits


This recipe is from ‘Lone Star Legacy, A Texas Cookbook’ by the Austin Junior Forum (copyright 1981, purchase sticker 1991), page 210 contributed by Mrs. John Perkins (Sandy).

My friend Jeanenne had this cookbook and I thought I bought it before I moved from Austin back to California. On her last visit here she reminded me that she gave me the cookbook. I need to write something in the book so I don’t forget again.

I learned to make homemade buttermilk biscuits as a child, from my Paternal Grandmother (Edith Lytle) but she didn’t have the recipe written down and she didn’t really measure. She used a tin measuring cup for the flour but eyeballed the rest. The signature aspect of my Grandmother’s version was that she cooked them in an upside down cake pan (8×12 aprox) that was dark brown with a flower pattern in the bottom. She warmed it in the oven with a couple of tablespoons of bacon fat then each biscuit was set in the pan and turned over so that there was grease on both sides, before they were baked. They came out crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.

My mother made hers from the Better Homes & Gardens cookbook and for years I did the same. This version did not have buttermilk. It is more flaky like pie crust, it’s a stiffer dough. It was called Biscuits Supreme. Instead of soda (like in the buttermilk version) it has cream of tartar and a little sugar. My other friend Teresa, likes the saltiness of buttermilk biscuits and no sugar. One year she requested this version (she is mutual friend of Jeanenne’s and had her biscuits many times). So when Teresa would come to visit from TX I would make the same recipe Jeanenne made. It has now become our family tradition. I like both types of biscuits but the buttermilk ones are lighter, fluffier and less dense.

Click on more for the recipe along with the photos Teresa took the last time she was visiting. To see her blog to to

Read the rest of this entry