Thursday, December 15, 2011

Money: Just Call Me Flo

I don't know the exact number of miles I've required of my car this year, but it's up there. Way up there. I commute 45 minutes to work each day and this year I've replaced a transmission and we won't talk about what the car dealership did to me during inspection time (picture me walking as if I've just ridden a very bitter horse for two hours). So when I read the Woman's Day article about enjoying a stress free holiday, I wanted to add to the list of tips and adages by penciling in a reminder for those with similar issues:

Remember to take care of your car. Enduring 25 degree weather in the driver's seat while waiting for a tow truck, is no festive holiday celebration.

Thankfully, since a very reasonable mechanic fixed my transmission (and my broken door handle for free) things have been pretty smooth sailing, with the exception of a windshield wiper that won't work (and that was AFTER the lovely dealership inspection--on a rainy day).

I checked my credit card statement this month, however, to discover that my auto insurance payment had not processed. Concerned about forgetting later on, I quickly wrote a message to my insurance agent through Facebook to determine whether or not I had automatic withdrawal (the Facebook option is prime,s since picking up a phone has always caused  anxiety--I love my text messaging and social networking).

The next day, my agent--Tracy Sprouse--responded that I did not have the automatic withdrawal service, but he would be pleased to assist me with setting it up. He then proceeded to tell me that he could save me a considerable amount of money each month if I would be interested in switching to another company. The savings would be around $25 a month.

So of course, I was totally all about that.

It's around this time of year you'll read a lot about the spirit of giving and charity and family and friends. Anyone can give a gift once a year: I'm reminded this time of year what a blessing it is to benefit from those who make honesty, quality, and generosity a staple throughout the entire year. Isn't it even more of a blessing to conduct business with an establishment whose standard reflects these types of values?

Tracy Sprouse has been my agent for over 4 years and I can't think of a single circumstance in which he has been less than gracious, cooperative, and pleasant. Customer service being so rare in general, I don't think it's a stretch to note this experience as outstanding. Not only did he answer my question promptly and thoroughly, but he also went above and beyond by agreeing to meet with me to sign the paperwork for my service on his day off--during the holidays no less--and proactively recommended a  benefit that would result in a profit to me, his customer.

A life long resident of Amherst County, Tracy is an independent insurance agent with the ability to sort through multiple companies and select the unique plan that works best for his client's needs. He and his staff have been courteous and available without fail.

In light of the holiday season Sprouse Insurance would like to extend my savings this month to the local community by sponsoring a giveaway for a $25 Visa gift card.

Here are the guidelines:

To make yourself elligible you must:

1. Be a friend of Scrw Lucy on Facebook.

2. "LIKE" Sprouse Insurance Agency on Facebook

3. Be able to pick up your Visa Gift Card at Sprouse Insurance Agency in Madison Heights, VA.

In order to win:

1. Link me to this status on Facebook:

"Sprouse Agency gave Scrw Lucy a 30% savings plus better coverage and I want to win her savings!" 

2. Be the person with the most shares on the status above by Sunday, December 19th, 12 a.m. If your privacy settings don't permit shares, then I will accept "likes." 

I hope you use your gift card to buy local--it's the gift that keeps on giving to your community.

(I have not received any compensation monetary or material for this review. All opinions are my own and are solely for the benefit of those who read them.)

5068 S Amherst Hwy, #110Madison HeightsVA 24572 (434) 847-4340

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Holiday: White Chocolate Mocha Wreath

I am no Martha Stewart. When someone says "craft" images of 2nd grade VBS or Oriental Trading catalog manifest rather than origami, wood working, or anything that involves any level of skill or craftsmanship. I am a wordsmith--a lazy one that requires bouts of mania to produce anything reminiscent of brilliance.

But Woman's Day always has a craft. And I'll be darned if I don't venture outside my inability to produce something that doesn't look....bad. The holiday season is about hope and redemption so I started to work on my first wreath.

I do have to preface the rest of this blog, however, by saying I stopped by one of our fabulous, locally owned home decor stores this Friday night to discover in dismay that the owner--Stephanie Humphries--had also fashioned several of the same type of wreath I had planned to make this weekend. Stephanie is naturally talented in the art of crafts, to say the least. Her furniture pieces have been the subject of prior blogs and I thought to myself,"How do I go about writing a blog about my pitiful wreath when she has done such a fabulous job?"

I told myself to suck it up, make the wreath, and produce a giveaway that would rid myself of the results.

My first attempt of craft and I would like to call it,"Grounds for Holiday Spirit."


Two 200-count packs of 8 to 12 cup basket-style coffee filters

Red acrylic paint

small paint brush

12" Styrofoam wreath form

hot glue gun and glue sticks

ribbon scrap

1. Starting with a stack of about 25 coffee filters, paint the top edges of the filters. Gently blow on stack to separate them. Let dry. Repeat with rest of filters.

2. Fold one filter in half, then twist it at the middle to make a cone shape with the red edges on the outside. Repeat with rest of filters.

3. Starting from the center front of wreath form, glue on coffee filters (so that the red edge points toward you) tightly next to each other and at a uniform height in a row around the ring. Continue filling in rows toward the inside of the form, then in rows toward the outside of the form.

4. Loop a piece of scrap ribbon and glue it to the back of the wreath for hanging.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Where are they Now?

"Born unto you this day, in the city of David...a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." --Luke 2:11

In the December edition of Woman's Day I read the Scripture I have read (and heard every year on the Peanut's Christmas special) for so many years. It's a Scripture easily quoted, like so many known by the general public, but there is so much about the Nativity story we don't know--or that we don't recognize.

Challenge yourself to look deeper this Christmas season. Consider a few points from the Christmas story that may seem obvious and simple but may be complex in their reality:

1. Who were the Wise Men?

2. What did the star mean?

3. What is the significance of the shepherds?

As the Christmas season jingles along, I look forward to you sharing your discoveries.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Now: The Good Earth Lends Itself to Asian Day in Lynchburg

I could not bring myself to read Danielle Steele's favorite reads from the standard November version of Woman's Day (there was the standard and Holiday edition) because she mentioned Jane Eyre (I have to be honest--I have no idea what it's about but I think my subconscious has picked up enough to say,"No."), The Bible (I'm fine with the Bible but I can't read the entire thing in a month), and one of Joel Osteen's books (I don't care for him) so I was hoping Debbie Macomber would offer something a little more of interest to a cynical, literary snob such as myself.

I was happier with her picks, which included A Christmas Carol, my second favorite Christmas movie of all time (my first, and favorite movie period, is It's a Wonderful Life), and Christy (do you remember that tv show from back in the day?). I also used to watch Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman which  is kind of embarrassing.

I had never heard of her pick, The Good Earth, so I picked it up at Campbell County Library (they don't have a lot of Woman's Day picks, unfortunately).

I posted my review on Goodreads and I will repeat it here:

I'm sure that others have written an accurate, commending review of this book so I'll just document my reaction to the book.

Around an eighth of the way through I thought to myself,"Man I really like this book."

I would contribute my affinity for the book to my voyeuristic taste (I really enjoyed the movie,"The Death of Mr. Lazarescu") but it's well written, interesting, and it was awarded a Pulizter Prize so I don't really feel like I should have to explain myself or defend myself, especially if the best piece of literature you've read in a long time is The Twilight Saga. 

That said (with sprinkling of elitist garble noted), I was ashamed of myself when I eagerly researched the author only to learn she attended college in the city I was born and raised in (and still live here). 

I watched the movie and it was just wrong. 

I plan to read more about Pearl S. Buck because she seems to be the kind of woman who falls under the category of  personal heroine. It's kind of a shame that Randolph College doesn't have a lot available in her honor and what little it says on the web site is so muddled and overlapping you can't hardly read it. The "Where is Pearl?" program sounds really cool but it's hard to understand how to participate or if it's still something they have kept going.

In honor of this book I would like to discuss what you can do if you would like to read the book and declare an "Asian Day" in Lynchburg. I have categorize suggestions according to cost:

The Chopstick Package (under $20):

You can start your Saturday morning by attending a glorious Tai Chi class at Mind Body Studio. Tai Chi is beneficial on many levels (balance, relaxation, joints and muscles) and the classes are free, with donations welcome. You may also take classes on Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m.

Then mosey on over to King House so that you may ruin your work out with cheap, yet tasty Asian cuisine. There are easily items that range in price from $1-$3 and the portions are large AND they bring it to your table on real plates. You could totally eat well (well...) here for $5.

Then to re-rejuvenate your body. Walk over to the Korean Market and buy a bottle of Aloe Juice. It's like edible lotion for your gizzards.

The Karate Kid Package ($25-$50)

The first thing you want to do is enjoy sushi at King's Island restaurant on Old Forest Road. I recommend the Eastern Roll and the Sake Roll with hot tea.

Then head on over to The Jamerson YMCA where Andy Henson and his staff will set up your 3 free appointments of Shaolin Kempo. I suggest waiting until your fish settles because this routine is no joke and nowhere near the lower impact Tai Chi. This is a workout that could result in any number of bodily functions ranging from sweat to tears (blood is also a distinct possibility when you've become a seasoned veteran) but can result in a long life of health, fitness, and self discipline.

After that, you'll need down time so drive all the way across Lynchburg to enjoy a pedicure at Zen salon. A classic manicure is only $25.

The Jade Pacakge ($60 and up)

My recommendation for lunch on the "and up" package is Thai 99, one of my favorite restaurants. Start off with chicken satay, then progress to any number of dishes, served at your request either, mild, medium, hot, or Thai hot. I suggest having dessert as well, either the Thai custard or fried banana.

Following lunch you can get a shiatsu massage at A Matter of Touch spa. Shiatsu is Japanese for "finger pressure" and it considered a type of alternative medicine.

Another recommendation is acupuncture. Acupuncture originated in China and has been known to help alleviate pain and aid people in quitting smoking. East West Acupuncture boasts testimonials from some of Lynchburg's most tenured doctors and may be a last resort for people with constant pain or other continual issues.

Acupuncture requires more than one visit and can be expensive. This is why it's under the "and up" heading. But you can try it one time and the experience is worth it.

Advertisement: What's Wrong with this Picture?

I found my first photo shop disaster in Woman's Day's November edition. I was proud. Erik takes great joy in finding his own but I have never been able to do it.

But thanks to American Tourister, I can now feel proud of my poor photo shop skills. I took the time to submit it to

Bet you can't spot it.

Advertisement: The Andy Warhol Diet

I've been seeing a lot of Campbell Soup ads lately, in Woman's Day and otherwise. Since I'm always looking for interesting diets (and waiting for the miracle) I wondered how many calories you could save if, instead of eating out, you chose to take Campbell's soup as a meal. I selected their Healthy Choice line for the comparison. For the fast food, I chose what might pass as low fat options:

Campbell's Healthy Request Cheddar Cheese Soup



Wendy's Grilled Chicken Go Wrap



McDonald's Cheeseburger



Subway 6" Steak and Cheese Standard Toppings



Campbell's Healthy Request Mexican-Style Chicken Tortilla Soup



Taco Bell's Crunchy Taco (2)



Taco Bell's Gordita Nacho Cheese-Chicken



Taco Bell's Cheesy Nachos



Campbell's Healthy Request Italian-Style Wedding Soup



Pizza Hut Thin and Crispy Cheese Pizza Medium (1 Slice) 



Subway's 6" Chicken Marinara Melt



KFC Grilled Chicken Breast



Other advantages to buying Campbell's Soup:

1. You can cook with it.

2. There are frequently coupons for it.

3. You can use the cans for target practice.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Advertisement: Election Day, Veterans Day, Make Your Own Head Day

In light of Breast Cancer Awareness Month I decided to dig a little deeper into the Levi's ad I noticed in November's Edition of Woman's Day (I had never heard of "National Denim Day").

It's great to know that Levi's participates in raising money for breast cancer research and that they share details about where your donations go (especially since the recent Marie Clair article).

These thoughts, in the natural progression of ADHD, led me to research the other extraneous holidays that we could be celebrating this month:

National Aviation Month

What you can do to celebrate if...

1. You have the kind of money I will never see in my life:

Freedom Aviation will provide the lessons so that you may procure your pilot's license. If you're not feeling that froggy (or birdy, as the case may be) you may also be interested in their helicopter tours of the Blue Ridge Parkway, Smith Mountain Lake, or Lynchburg City for $350 an hour. You've seen the guys on Millionare Matchmaker do it--why not you?

2. You have the kind of money that partners itself with sheer insanity:

No Limits Sky Diving will gladly take your couple hundred dollars and throw you out of a plane, less than 100 miles from Lynchburg. Their drop zone (sounding very close to Stephen King's "The Dead Zone") is in Victoria, Virginia, a beautiful rural area better observed from the ground for people like myself who are terrified of heights.

3. You is po:

You can go to St. Steven's Church in Forest, VA and greet a parishioner who met Amelia Earheart. You'll hear a lovely sermon, there will more than likely be refreshments, and you may take a lovely photo. This is what I opted to do.

National Child Safety Month

What you can do to celebrate if...

1. You want to strap your child into a harness:

Get them involved in a sport that doesn't involve full body contact or competition and will make them seem way cooler to all the other second graders. Rise Up Climbing trains children as young as six and will patiently instruct them concerning safety, equipment, and climbing. It's an tremendous alternative to a gym membership because you're learning a skill that will also enable you to eventually join other groups for trips and excursions.

2. You want to strap your child into a harness:

The Monster Spider jump at River Ridge Mall is thankfully not just for children. This bungee trampoline is fun for adults too and I've never heard any horror stories about children getting injured (something you can't say about Crocs). Not a bad idea for a birthday or mother-daughter day, or losing-your-dignity-day.

3. You want to strap your child into a harness:

You can go to your local fire department to learn how to appropriately strap your child into their car seat. In my day, we sat on the arm rest in the middle of our family car that was completely constructed of steel and lead paint, but my understanding is, times have changed. We kept my friend's son off and on for a few years and that's when I learned it's also a great way to meet firemen. I don't know if they still do this or not, but they gave us a new car seat in exchange for our old one. Maybe it was just because I was totally passing out digits.

Good Nutrition Month

What to do to celebrate if...

1. You can't give up meat:

Learn about the concept of eating less and enjoying quality food, like organic-raised beef, pork, and chicken. Bedford Avenue Meat Shop offers a butcher service and a delivery service for orders over $30. They also offer local cheese and sides. Eating less meat and paying for quality meat is honestly a stellar path to good nutrition.

2. You really know nothing about good food:

Anywhere you live you can generally find local farms that are willing to show you where your food is grown, how it's grown, and how to maintain a healthy life style on a budget. Locally, Our Father's Farm provides a hand's-on approach to nutrition and organic farming. They also sell a number of products from eggs to Thanksgiving turkeys.

3. If you aren't scared of hippies:

Usually the owners of health food stores are just as valuable as their wares. I don't know the owner of Health Nut Nutrition, but I know his brother and he's definitely a hippy. A dirty hippy at that. But we love Charlie and I've heard stories about his brother, mostly good although some I probably shouldn't share in a public blog. A few years ago, my boyfriend learned that the cause of his sinus issues (nose bleeds and congestion) was a wheat allergy. People who own local health food stores (besides being hippies) are usually very educated, patient, and concerned people who have a passion for what they do. Another local example would be Vital Edge Nutritional Center. Megan is great, but don't drink the Bob Marley Tea unless you really do want to pass out.

International Drum Month

What to do to celebrate if...

1. You are open culturally:

If you want to remain in the city to learn about Monacan culture, take your child (or borrow one so you don't look like freak--it's what I do) to Amazement Square where you both may learn about their life and culture in the recreated village.

If you don't mind traveling out through the breath-taking countryside (currently underneath a tee-pee of autumn leaves) visit the Monacan Museum, Amherst County, Virginia. Here you will learn about their history and culture which of course includes the drums used in their dance and ceremonies.

2. If you are open religiously:

Whether you realize it or not, pagans are all around us. You may not agree with the practice, but it exists, probably closer to home than you imagine (and I won't even bring the history of Easter and Christmas into this). 

Drum circles are a fairly common occurrence in paganism, especially during the summer and winter solstices. During winter solstice there will be any number of drum circles as there are celebrations, festivals, and rituals. Personally, I have never involved myself in such a thing but I am never leery of learning about anyone's religion or the person. If you're not comfortable attending such a celebration, never hesitate to approach someone who doesn't, er, march to the tune of your drum!

3. If you are open to drunkenness:

And now we've come full (drum) circle. If you've never taken a wine tour, do. Some of the grooviest drum barrels in the area are Hickory Hill, Lovingston Winery, and Horton Vineyards. You don't beat these drums (maybe I should clarify "shouldn't") but you sure do enjoy what comes out of them. Think outside the wine box. 

Here's a list of special November days you may use as an excuse to do something different or illegal all conveniently linked to something to do in or around the area:

November 9th--Parade Day

November 11th--Veteran's Day

November 17th--Take a Hike Day
                       --Homemade Bread Day
                       --National Young Reader's Day

November 18th--Willam Tell Day

November 20th--Mexican Revolution Day

November 22nd--Stop the Violence Day

November 26th--National Cake Day

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Now: 2011 Best Old Toys

From time to time (actually it's pretty much a constant) the area of my brain that regurgitates conscious thought spits out an idea wrapped in the trappings of random.

So while on the porch playing with my terrier a distinct picture arrived in the foyer of this brain area, dressed as a glowing yellow ball. 

"I wonder if they still make those blow-up, yellow balls you stick the light wand into?" Then a ghost me stood in the back yard of the house watching four-year-old me playing with one in 1983. 

If anyone remembers what this thing was called, do tell. It was a rectangular, yellow ball you stuck a glow wand into to play at night. I loved that thing. We had, like, 3 of them for some reason.

The November special issue of Woman's Day has a 2011 Toy Insider section including games, dolls, and trends. I recognized some and pondered the point of others.

I was content with my G.I. Joes and dolls that didn't require batteries. I think a few games and toys are still classically enjoyed by children. So here's my list:

1. Lite Brite

Turn out the lights and watch it glow. There's just something about putting the colored pegs into those holes. Check out this guy, my hero of the moment.

2. Glow Worm

Y'all know you had a Glow Worm and some of you carried that raggedy thing around well into school age. You can still find these for babies but I say give it to your five year old and demand they allow you to live vicariously through them.

3. Silly Putty

Let's call it a stocking stuffer. All I know is, I used this for a Sunday School object lesson and when I picked up an image on newspaper, I swear to god (excuse my emphasized blasphemy), the kids accused me of being a witch. Not one of them had ever seen Silly Putty and the oldest was 11. 

The most fun thing about Silly Putty is getting hair in it and endlessly pulling them out. There's just something slightly obscene about the entire experience.

4. Operation

You get to take out the organs of some poor sap or in later years, some unsuspecting Disney character. If you fail, you hear a buzzing sound that, although expected, causes you to fly several feet into the air, knocking over the other folk hovering over you, wishing you all manner of bad omens. You can also scare small children into actually thinking you've gotten electrocuted and that's the very best thing of all.  

5. Moon Shoes

I never had these. I just really want them now. Not to be confused with Moon Boots which I would also wear if I had an outfit to match. 

6. G.I. Joes

Anything you can tie to a handkerchief and throw out the window equates awesome. Unless it's a younger sibling. Except in the case they survive without injury and then it's just a really funny story. You may refer to my uncle for this brand of jovial tale (but don't ask dad). 

7. Legos

This one explains itself. Legos don't just build cool stuff. They build up engineers. And people who have nothing better to do with their time than create uselessness

I still collect the ones that have some meaning for me (like Irish Barbie or Still-Unmarried-Past-30-Barbie). Growing up in a conservative Christian household, I learned that a lot of little girls didn't play with her because she caused bad self image, but then I discovered when I grew up that King James and Hasbro had some sort of pact going so it was all just a conspiracy theory after all. Real bad self esteem comes from reading Cosmo and I learned that from the NIV version of the Bible (they have a partnership with Mattel so it's totally ok). 

9. Connect Four

Nothing will make you more angry when you lose.

If you don't believe me, watch Stand by Me. Stephen King and Rob Reiner should know what they're talking about. 

Eat Well: Dinner: Yellow and Green Cuisine

I am enamored with the idea of eclectic, shabby-chic entertaining for less. One day, I will acclimate my skill level of entertaining to a suitable state--if never to Martha Stewart than at least to Rachel Ray.  

Right now, my heart is in the right place and my nose is ahead of the heart, sniffing itself all over town to find a bargain. If Martha Stewart style don't come natural, finding a bargain is in my blood. My grandmother paid for my entire college wardrobe--jackets, suits, skirts, dresses (all name brand)--for under $150 because she knew how to shop at department stores, with coupons, out of season. 

And I am not hesitant to venture into any part of town and poke forward with the afore mentioned nose, to see what I may find. 

Kemper Street Flea Market is a perfect place to find all sorts of things, especially if you are specifically looking for particular items. This Saturday afternoon my "to find" list consisted of ramekins for baking macaroni and cheese for guests--so I could, of course, look like a suitable host with some degree of style.

This is a facility I will be frequenting. Small items for crafts and gewgaws for hosting are in abundance and CHEAP. If you are on a budget, but have a smattering of creativity and still want to entertain and look pulled together, there is absolutely no reason not to patronize this warehouse-size Flea Market to stock up on any number of things from candles to dinner ware, from vases to furniture. 

This particular day I walked away with a 6 piece Mikasa vintage 1960's-70's set for only $3--no chips or defects. It was a perfect background for the spinach macaroni and cheese I would serve later that evening. This particular Mikasa set sells on the internet at anywhere from $9-$29.99 a piece

Cheesy Shells and Greens Recipe

Recipe Ingredients

  • 12 oz medium pasta shells
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter (I used more butter, as I'm a Paula Deen fan)
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups whole milk
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard 
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated or ground nutmeg
  • Pinch cayenne (optional)
  • 6 oz extra-sharp Cheddar, grated (1 1/2 cups)
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 1 bunch spinach, thick stems discarded, leaves roughly chopped

Recipe Preparation

  1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. I like to use Dreamfield Pasta because it's low carb and high fiber. You can follow the link above to get a coupon.
  2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes; whisk in the milk. Cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, 5 minutes.
  3. Whisk in the mustard, nutmeg, cayenne (if using), 1 cup Cheddar, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Add the pasta and spinach and toss to combine. If you don't have Dijon mustard do yourself a huge favor and follow the hyper link above to print out a coupon for mustard then double it at Kroger. Stock up on hot sauce and honey mustard too.
  4. Heat broiler. Transfer the mixture to a 1 1/2-qt broiler-proof baking dish or four 12-oz ramekins. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup Cheddar and broil until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes.

Prep Tip: Add a crispy bread crumb topping to this dish: Pulse 4 slices bread in a food processor to form coarse crumbs. Stir in 1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley and 2 Tbsp olive oil. Sprinkle over the pasta before broiling.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Now: The Christmas Box(es)

This is another review of a book that will probably incite people to violence against me.

I read "The Christmas Box" this week, a "Top 5 Reads" from Debbie Macomber. It's a best selling book by a Christian man who created the story for his children then stumbled upon a national best seller.

I'm sorry, I know it's a touching and heartfelt story but it reads like the winning short story of a ninth grade High School student. My expectation of a book that sells successfully across the nation is at least an interesting and well written story. It was almost appalling to learn how popular it was years back.

I know, I know--children, the elderly, death, tragedy--I have no right disparaging the book. So be it. You read it for yourself. It will take all of 15 minutes and then you can tell me how terrible I am for writing such a thing.

Nevertheless, I thought the Christmas Box was a good idea very literally--a beautifully crafted container for special ornaments, a Bible, letters from a spouse over seas from years past. I think it would be a lovely idea for a Christmas gift. Here are my top picks:

Heirloom Ornament Box, Etsy, $275

Nativity Box, Woodworkers Fretwork, $29.95

Catholic Christmas Card Holder, Etsy, $45

Thursday, November 3, 2011

5 Ingredients or Less: Sprite Scones

You can make these with chives and cheddar if you want to get all Red Lobster with the recipe. These scones come out to $0.50 a piece if you buy the ingredients at Walmart. 

The proper way to enjoy these is with Devonshire clotted cream and lemon curd. 

Recipe Ingredients

  • 3 cups self-rising flour
  • 3/4 cup lemon-lime soda (such as Sprite)
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream

Recipe Preparation

  1. Heat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Place the flour in a large bowl and make a well in the center. With a fork, gently stir in the soda and cream, mixing until incorporated (do not overmix).
  3. Drop 8 large spoonfuls of dough onto the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle with raw or granulated sugar, if desired, and bake until golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Advertisement: Hopey Meals

It was late into the summer when we learned that Andreas had been admitted to the hospital with a mysterious illness. He was the boy in my Sunday School class I had hoped to watch from the football stands some day--the football stands surrounding a professional foot ball arena. Active and curious, protective of his grandmother, hyper active, and the very definition of "swagger."

It's the call you get and feel a bit of concern. The call that prompts you to request prayer, although a few days of school missed will more than likely be the biggest outcome.

Weeks later, I sat with my brother in the waiting room at the University of Virginia, expecting to say our last goodbyes. Andreas and his family had been friends for decades and his condition rapidly declined. His kidneys were failing, his little body swollen. We were expecting the worst, hoping for small change.

They still don't know what illness caused the stroke that resulted in a double amputation.

This is the reason that I first visited a Ronald Mcdonald House.

Andreas's mother, whose insurance didn't begin to cover all the medical expenses, was able to stay by her son's side for the months required for recovery at little to no cost because of the Ronald Mcdonald House charity that enables parents to stay close by their sick children.

After my trip to the gym the other night, I picked up a Happy Meal. I ordered a hamburger, and "apple fries" along with chocolate milk (I hear it's good for your muscles after a work out). Skimming through Woman's Day I discovered for the first time the purchase of a Happy Meal generates proceeds going toward charities like the Ronald Mcdonald House.

So I used it as a good excuse to indulge. And I thought about Andreas, who just received a special bicycle from the good folks at Wheels on the James this year.

And for all you factual folks I did the research. They donate one penny for each Happy Meal purchase.

Sometimes it takes small change for the hope of small change.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Eat Well: Chicky Meat Poof Pie

When I was a kid we called exposed flesh "chicky meat." If you bent over and your shirt came up in the back, that was chicky meat. If you wore short shorts in the summer time and your thighs were exposed, that was chicky meat. Chicky meat was all the rage and you better believe if yours was out, someone was gonna get it. Someone was going to get your chicky meat. 

I sat in the living room with a bowl of hot steamy chicky meat stew, amused that I had brought wine into the house right under grandma's teetotaling nose and she had said nary a word. 

This recipe calls for dry white wine, but I prefer Sweet Sophia wine from Rebec Vineyard because of the herb base and unique flavor. It's also a marvelous way to make stuffing for your bird this Thanksgiving and I find it quite drinkable. 

I think it might get your chicky meat. 


 Recipe Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup dry Sweet Sophia wine, Rebec Vineyards
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 4 medium carrots, cut into 1-in. pieces
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 11/2 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 2-in. pieces
  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 3 Tbsp fresh dill sprigs

What I learned:

You can't find puff pastries at Walmart. I bought the turnover kit sans apple. If you do that you need to fold the squares.

By the way my eggs were past the expiration date. If they float, I'd say toss them, if they sink, they're probably good. My first egg was as floater. I threw it at the neighbor's house. True story.

Who I shared it with:

Grandma, who got mad at me for not sharing it with the dog. 

That dog sure do got a lot of chicky meat...

Monday, October 31, 2011

Expectation Stew

"May God give you heaven's dew and earth's richness--an abundance of grain and new wine." -Genesis 27:28

These are the words that conjure ideas of harvest, warmth, and blessing from the November issue of Woman's Day magazine. Heaven's dew and earth's richness--I think of a Thanksgiving puzzle; here is a cornucopia of fruits and vegetables, grandma's hot apple pie, an embroidered table cloth.

These were not the sugar plum visions of Esau, the brother robbed of the blessing due to him by his deceiving brother Jacob. Jacob's "heaven's dew and earth's riches" turned bitter in his eldest brother's mouth. What an appropriate way to introduce us to Woman's Day feature article about women struggling with their own expectations and assumptions of others.

What have we to glean from the expectations we have--that others have--that are not fulfilled? We only have to look to Esau, in order to reap the harvest of life's lessons:

1. Esau allowed a temporary need to replace a long term blessing

"See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son."

Esau, upon returning home from hunting, sold his birth right to his brother. A birth right represented a double portion of physical inheritance from the father of the family. Esau, hungry and weary from hunting allowed his hunger to tempt him into surrendering a double inheritance.

What temporary needs are you allowing to rob you of your goals and expectations?

2. Esau's choices did not reflect good priorities

"When Esau was forty years old, he married Judith daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and also Basemath daughter of Elon the Hittite. They were a source of grief to Isaac and Rebekah." 

The marriage of Esau to Canaanite women brought grief to his parents, especially his mother who favored his brother. In hindsight, Esau took a wife he believed would be a better choice. Certainly if he had consulted his father first, he would have respected and appreciated his father's love story. What could Esau have learned from a family history lesson?

How are you repeating your family history?

3. Esau found redemption and mercy in forgiveness.

"But Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him; he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. And they wept." 

After his blessing was stolen and his birthright bartered, Esau's heart was full of murder and revenge towards his brother. Yet in the end we see, that Jacob's life full of blessing as the deceiver, arrived full circle (or caravan) as he received his brother's forgiveness. Esau inherited finally--not a birthright given naturally as he was first born, but herds and flocks from the brother he wished to kill--and that out of true contrition. 

And we also see that Jacob had reaped a harvest of his own deceptive seed--not only in a wife he had to work for but in a son he will believe dead from the hands of his own sons. 

Rachel loved Jacob and helped him deceive. Jacob loved Joseph and he was bitterly deceived by his own flesh and blood. 

What will the seeds you're sewing look like during harvest time? 

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Home--What's Shabby is Chic Again

Eddie Ross is a pro in the field of thinking outside the box--especially when that box is in the form of an antique cedar chest or vintage, lovingly worn chiffonier. According to Woman's Day, thinking outside the box is only one of the shopping secrets that lends to Ross's success. A few tips sound like racy dating advice: know what you want, time your efforts, and...measure twice?

I have no talent for seeing art in something worn and dated. I wish I did. Local resident, Stephanie Humphries, however, personifies a true knack (or perhaps in this case "knick knack") for making the shabby into something chic--she even named her business after the art.

In Woman's Day October issue we preview three pieces transformed into 21st century elegance--an ottoman, an elevated lamp, and an old mirror. In visiting Stephanie's shop, I wondered if she hadn't given 'ol Eddie a run for his money.

A few of my favorite pieces reflected the make-over's in the article and the other treasures I found were only true inspiration for gifts or compliments to an already fashionable home. A few of the items I hadn't photographed included a lamp that had been painted in blackboard paint--perfect for a child's room--and a pair of cameo and coral silhouette portraits, creatively mastered.

Here are a few of my favorite things:

Chair, painted and re-cushioned ($60)

Mirror, paint and decoupage ($75)

Chalk Board Lamps ($70 for the pair)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Now--ADHD Girls and Women: The Signs You May Not Know

"If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away." — Henry David Thoreau

I was diagnosed with ADHD in 2003 because I knew something was wrong. I didn't know what it was precisely, but there was no possibility that my talent, intelligence, and good upbringing could have lived in the same quarters with my irrational behavior, impulsiveness, depression, and stress for so long without realizing at some point something was wrong.

So I left the doctor's office that blessed day singing Hallelujah to the high heavens after the fourth series of extensive tests. It was the first test that came back with a 56 out of 100 (and there had been many in science and math) that I was elated to see. And my mother was elated to see it as well. There in black ink, on an official, doctor type of paperwork, there is was:

Sarah is not a liar. She actually does not see the cock-a-doody thing right in front of her and she really doesn't remember where she left that rack-a-frackis thing or that you asked her to bring it to you in the first place. So there. Nah-nah-nah. 

Those weren't the specialist's exact words, but all the same, that's about what it said. You're smart. You're talented. But you can't pay attention to save your life. 

I like to tell a story from that series of testing that demonstrates that point. In one session they show you a series of pictures. It starts off with a simple object then the pictures grow more complex. They don't tell you why or how the testing works so the instructions,"Tell me what's missing" leaves an analytical person wondering.

One picture showed a woman holding hands with her child along the beach.

"What's missing?" The specialist asked, not even looking up from his stop watch.

I thought about it--not noticing anything obvious--so I decided that maybe they were testing me psychologically.

"Um...the father?"

And I wonder why my doctors are always grinning in spite of themselves.

My short term memory is terrible and it's gotten worse over the years. But I my long term memory is better and I started considering some of the signs that we couldn't have known were signs. We are who we are, even as babies, even as children. Looking back I was able to ascertain there are symptoms that may go unnoticed--especially since girls and women are under diagnosed:


1. Constipation

I had issues with constipation up until the age of maybe 5 or 6. It wasn't that I couldn't use the bathroom, it's that I didn't WANT to go through the STEPS of using the bathroom. People with ADHD are overwhelmed by activities (that they don't enjoy or that are interesting to them) with multiple steps. As a child, if I was preoccupied with an activity of interest, I would simply hold it. And after a while--after the doctors said there was nothing really wrong with me--it started becoming an issue.

2. Hearing Problems

When I was five, before I went into Kindergarten, we were in for a check up. I was a shy child, timid almost, but Mom asked him if there was anything else I thought I wanted to take care of at the office. I said,"Mom I think my hearing needs to be checked."

I couldn't even read yet, but I intuited there was something wrong with my hearing. And there wasn't. Because there was nothing wrong with my hearing, there was something wrong with my listening. And there was something wrong with my listening because my thoughts were always rapid, loud, and attention consuming. "My thoughts are loud" is a phrase I learned through High School into my young adulthood. And they are. It's difficult to focus when you are constantly absorbed with thoughts that shoot like a toddler with a machine gun.

3. Compulsions and Odd Behavior

Children with ADHD--especially girls--are labeled with "weird" more often than not. It's not even antisocial behavior, it's that the advantages of having ADHD--fierce creativity and imagination and the ability to hyper focus--can affect the way that peers receive and interpret children with ADHD.  Also, ADHD girls may not focus on their appearance as much (that also has to do with steps--not wanting to brush teeth, bathe, etc) which will affect how others perceive them, despite the fact they may be a perfectly lovely and pleasant child.

But you may find your ADHD girl often stares off into nothing, talks to herself or people who are not there, or may even portray OCD behavior like counting objects obsessively or going through bizarre routines. The ADHD child is intelligent and aware that this behavior is not "normal" and will attempt to keep it hidden, so this may be a sign that is hard to detect.


1. You ruin all your clothing.

Pens, bleach, food--you name it. I've thrown out more clothing because of something I've done than any other reason. Because you're not paying attention to what you're doing, it's easy to make mistakes over and over again that could be easily avoided.

2. You don't see things that are right in front of you.

The picture test proved one thing for me--I really don't see things that are obviously right there. This is why people with ADHD are accused of lying or being lazy. They honestly don't notice things that are right in front of them.

3. You have odd physical ailments.

In my first year of management the doctor saw me more than the mercury end of a thermometer. I had tendinitis  pleurisy, and my hands and feet would start going numb and tingling at the exact same time every night. The later was completely due to stress; the others, the doctor assured, surely stemmed from stress as well.

Everyone gets stressed out. People with ADHD get more stressed out because they forget, misplace, and take more time to complete tasks with steps. Women, who are usually more prone to self obligation and guilt, get a double dose. They are working and they are raising families. They are ashamed of their messy house and their unfinished projects. And they aren't getting the help they need.


1. Get Diagnosed

I found comfort in the diagnosis itself. I saw all the teacher's notes ("doesn't reach her full potential/seems to day dream/is not turning in papers on time") in a new light. I will always be responsible for my choices. But it wasn't ALWAYS my character or personality that was the culprit. Diagnosis is the first step. Often a specialist can point you in the right direction

2. Get Medicated

If you choose to try medicine, be patient with it. Most medications have side affects that won't last forever or your body will acclimate itself to the effects. I just discontinued the medication I took for seven years and the first few months were rough. But I prayed myself through it and it helped. Sometimes you can discuss options and you may not need a prescription specific to ADHD.

3. Ask for Help

My family and friends were helpful in understanding and assisting with my ADHD. People WANT to help--ask them. My mother read books about ADHD and about being close to a loved one with ADHD. There are plenty of books. If you're single, then accept what you can't change and get help with what you can. Avoid dating people who are too structured and want you to "snap out of it." There are some things that will never change. There are plenty of little strategies that will help tremendously. People love you. They will remind you. They will understand if you work with them to understand who you are and how you function differently.

And don't try to do it all. Appreciate your positive points and remember: the woman who gets up at 5 a.m. to run and make breakfast out of freshly picked berries is not who you are patterning your life after. Some can do it--some need to creatively find ways to make their life work--and shine.

Congratulations on being a woman with ADHD: there is no deficit to your creativity.