The images I share here come from my heart. They are not to be reproduced without my express written permission.

Seen on the Blue Ridge Parkway

These photos are from the archives. To be honest, I'm still reeling after the death of my husband. It has been a difficult week, but the kindness and prayers of family, friends, our church, the Daughters of Saint Francis de Sales, and those who commented on last week's post has helped.
Please protect yourself and others by taking the steps recommended by your government officials and the medical professionals. Take care of each other, and take care of yourselves. May God bless each of you.


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An update on Dave

These are a few photos of my husband, Dave, the love of my life, my friend, my helpmate, my advisor, my protector. We each served in these roles for each other. Our 50th wedding anniversary is upcoming on June 3, 2022.

Dave refused to get a covid vaccine despite a health history that put him at high risk. I chose to be vaccinated and boostered to protect us both. I also made many other life adjustments to try to protect him; many of these he found to be annoying. I wore my mask. He wore these when they were required by mandate or store policy, but he left his nose uncovered.

Dave came down with a "cold", which I caught two days later. He refused to seek medical advice or testing. He continued to protest when he deteriorated and I called for an ambulance to transport him to the emergency department.

He tested positive for covid, and so did I. I wasn't allowed to see him in ICU until about 4 hours before his death. I thank God I was able to be with him, that we were able to tell each other that we loved each other, and that I was able to surround him with love and prayer as he passed from this life to the next.

I have now completely recovered from covid. 

I go to plan his funeral today.

Please, get your vaccines and get a booster when you are eligible. Take steps to protect yourself and others. I know the news reports can be confusing and seem to change daily, but you CAN take steps to help yourself and others stay healthy or mitigate the chances of severe disease and death.

Do it for yourself. 

Do it for those you love. 

Do it for me.

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Some seasonal memories

Trying to maintain a bit of hope this morning as my husband - stubbornly unvaccinated - is in intensive care with covid. I have been fully vaccinated and boostered but am still under the weather with some of the same symptoms. But I'm nowhere near as sick as he is. Please people, get vaccinated. If you have symptoms, stay away from others. And please pray for an end to this plague and for healing of those suffering.


Meanwhile, just a few memories of the season and wishes for a happy, healthy 2022 to each of you!


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Celebrate the season with stollen!

Stollen is a bread traditionally served in German households at Christmas time. This year I got adventurous and made stollen using a recipe from Peter Reinhart's excellent book, The Bread Baker's Apprentice. I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to learn to bake breads or to improve their baking skills.

Note this recipe requires some advance planning. The fruit is soaked in brandy, rum, or schnapps for at least 24 hours prior to preparing the rest of the recipe.

DAY 1: Fruit Blend

  • 1 cup (or 170 grams) golden raisins
  • 1 cup (or 170 grams) candied fruit
  • 1/2 cup (or 113 grams)  brandy, rum, or schnapps
  • 1 tablespoon (or 14 grams) orange or lemon extract

Stir together, cover, and set aside at room temperature overnight. If you wish to give the fruit some extra time to plump up, consider adding a bit more of your liquid of choice.


DAY 2: Sponge

  • 1/2 cup (or 113 grams) whole milk
  • 1/2 cup (or 64 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoons (or 12.5 grams) instant yeast

To make the sponge, warm the milk to about 100 degrees Fahrenheit (or 38 degrees Centigrade). Remove from the heat and whisk in the flour and yeast to make a paste-like batter. Cover with plastic wrap and ferment for 1 hour, or until the sponge is foamy and ready to collapse when tapped.

Dough Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups (or 284 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon (or 14 grams) sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoons (or 5.5 grams) salt
  • 1 teaspoon (or 3 grams) grated orange zest (optional) 
  • 1 teaspoon (or 3 grams) grated lemon zest (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon (or 7 grams) ground cinnamon
  • 1 large egg
  • 5 tablespoons (or 71 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • About 1/4 cup (or 57 grams) water, at room temperature
  • All of the fruit blend from day 1
  • 1/2 cup (or 57 grams) slivered blanched almonds (or marzipan)

Stir together the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl, then stir in (or mix in on low speed with the mixer's paddle attachment) the sponge, egg, butter, and enough water to form a soft, but not sticky, ball. When the dough comes together, cover the bowl and let the dough rest for 10 minutes.

Add the fruit and mix in with your hands (which is really fun) or for a few seconds on low speed with the paddle attachment to incorporate. 

Sprinkle flour on the counter, transfer the dough to the counter, and knead to distribute the fruit evenly, adding additional flour if needed. The dough should feel soft and satiny, tacky but not sticky. Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and ferment at room temperature for about 45 minutes. The dough will rise a bit but it will not double in size.

Again sprinkle flour lightly on counter and transfer the dough to the counter. For a single loaf, roll the dough out into a 9" x 16" rectangle; if you prefer to make two loaves, roll each half into 7 "x 5" rectangles. Sprinkle slivered almonds or a generous bead of marzipan over the top along with additional fruit if you desire. Roll the dough up into a loaf shape, sealing the crease by pinching the dough with the edge of your hand. Lay the loaf (or loaves) on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Mist the dough lightly with oil, cover with plastic wrap, and proof for 1-2 hours at room temperature, or until the dough has risen to 1 1/2 times its original size.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (177 degrees Centigrade) with the oven rack on the middle shelf. Bake the stollen for 20 minutes, then rotate the pan 180 degrees for even baking and continue to bake for 20-50 minutes, depending on the size of the loaves. The bread will be a dark mahogany color and should register 190 degrees Fahrenheit (88 degrees Centigrade) in the center. Transfer bread  to  a rack and brush the top with vegetable oil or melted butter while the loaves are still hot. Using a sieve or sifter, immediately tap a layer of powdered sugar over the top of the bread. Wait one minute, then tap a second layer of powdered sugar over the first. Let the loaves cool for at least 1 hour before serving.

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Merry Christmas

A friend collects Nativity scenes, and the display leaves no doubt that their household remembers the reason for the season!

Merry Christmas to each of you. Thank you for being part of our weekly linkup. Wishing you much happiness in the year to come!

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Memories of snows gone by

I love having seasons, but winter will never be my favorite. And as beautiful as snow is, I haven't demonstrated skill in walking on it - broken wrists have proven that! But I love to see it snow... as long as it soon melts!

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The blacksmith's shop

I was just poking through the archives and found these images from ouir visit to New Bern NC. Fascinating to watch!

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