An Anniversary Ring Miracle 💍

For our twenty fifth wedding anniversary my husband and I planned a trip to California with our son and his wife and little grandson, who was born on our anniversary!! Our first grandchild born on our anniversary was really special, we thought! We also thought it was time to replace our gold bands for new rings. His came with a design and this time mine had diamonds in two rows across the top. I was so excited and even thought of leaving my ring at home. You see, I’ve never been good at keeping up with my jewelry anyway.

To get the best deal on airline tickets for four adults and a baby we had to fly out of Knoxville, Tennessee which is about two hours from where we live. We had to leave very early in the morning with all our suitcases, carry on bags, stroller and extra baby gear to head to the airport in time to park the car and check in early, leaving us with two hours of waiting time. Plenty of time to get a good breakfast for the long flight ahead.

The flight was direct and we all slept a good bit of the way, even Austin who was almost one. When we landed in LA we were rested enough and thought we’d go visit where the Chinese Theatre is and look at the famous foot prints of movie stars from the past. Hollywood is several blocks of wax museums, book stores, coffee shops, gift shops and places to eat. This is also where the Red Carpet Academy Awards are held each year at the Kodak Center. We had a wonderful time and spent many hours relaxing before heading to Santa Barbara to really start our vacation with my sister and her family who lives there.

When we got to the parking garage where our rented extended van was, I looked at my finger and noticed my ring was no longer there! My husband said, “let’s go back and look for it”. I thought, LOOK WHERE?? We’d been in all the little shops and had coffee one place and lunch another. It was impossible, like looking for a needle in hay stack. The two hour drive to my sisters was the quietest everyone had ever been. I was crying quietly in the passenger’s seat up front and even my grandson felt something was wrong so he never made a peep the whole way!

We were greeted at the door with happy faces and my brother in law, George, had prepared a delicious dessert we all usually enjoy .

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The others ate their dessert but I went straight to bed and cried myself to sleep.
I felt sorry for myself and my prayers weren’t very worth while. But as the days passed I began to accept my fate and I started praying that someone in need would find the ring and feed his or her family with the money they received from selling it. Let it bring new life or meaning to someone else. I didn’t really need it to survive anyway! So each night I cried a little less and prayed a little differently.
We had fun and went to the places we had planned. Walks on the beach everyday. Great lunches from Brophy Brothers Seafood Restaurant on the Santa Barbara Pier to Stella Mare’s French Country Cuisine at the Bird Refuge there. We even found time to eat tacos with handmade taco shells from La Super Rica Taqueria on Milpas Street. We visited the Old Mission on Laguna Street and went through the famous court house used in TV shows quite often.We drove to Buellton for Anderson’s best split pea soup and bought some cans of it to bring home. And we never go out west without driving to Solvang, stopping by some of the nice western towns along the way.

The last day came and my sister, Rose Carol, as we call her, fixed her families’ favorite breakfast recipe and I was going to eat every bite on my plate because I was sure God had answered by prayers and my ring was going to help someone in need. No more worrying over “spilt milk” for me!

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We spent the last evening washing a few things, packing our bags and preparing to leave the next morning. We wanted to get a good nights sleep for the day of travel that was ahead of us. The next morning we were leaving early enough so my daughter in law, Lisa, could meet her sister, who now lived in California, for lunch. Everyone was suggesting places close to the airport.

Well, during the night and I assume it was while I was sleeping, a vision of a store front from the Hollywood area we had spent our first day in came across my mind! I couldn’t get it out of my head and I thought if I said anything, people would think I was crazy! So I suggested we meet Lisa’s sister there for lunch. They all quickly agreed since it was a fun place to hang out. At this point I wasn’t sure what I was doing either so I just followed my instincts . We parked the van in the same parking garage, got out and saw an elevator ahead so we got on it and pushed the button for down. When the doors opened, the first thing I saw was that same store front I had seen in my dream. Again I was walking like in a trance and went into the store. I looked around till I saw a man who was a security guard that I had a magnet like feeling to go up to. I didn’t know what to say so I just blurt out “I know this sounds crazy but ten days ago I was in this store and lost my wedding ring and wondered if anyone had turned it in?” He looked at me like he’d seen a ghost and said “You, wait here ” and he left. After a few minutes he came back with the store manager. The manager was asking me to describe my ring in detail. My husband said “we have a picture on my camera!” and off he went to get it. When he came back he pulled up the picture and their on my finger was my beautiful ring. By now I had several managers around me talking, saying things like it’s too small to see and if they had found something like that, it was the law to turn it into the police, etc, etc! I then said loudly, “where is the police station?” It was just down the street in the Kodak building only a block away. So off we went still not knowing what we were actually doing! We go into the station and up to the counter. I felt like I was acting in TV show asking if anyone had turned in a wedding ring. Of course the policeman laughed a little and gave us a paper to fill out describing the ring and putting down the dates we had been there last. They looked at the small picture my husband had on his camera and said it was really too small to see very well. My husband said we were standing in the Kodak building and could have it blown up to whatever size they needed. Finally another policeman higher up than the one we were talking to said to us, “we don’t usually do this, but we have a ring back here and we’re going to let you look at it!” It was my ring!! I turned and said to them “I love this city !” They said back “we don’t get comments like that very often ma’am !”

It was a gift from God! Or my guarding angels working over time!! I have misplaced my ring several times since then, but I’m never worried that I won’t find it! If I can find an expensive diamond ring inside a store at the corner of Hollywood and Vine in Southern California, I could find it anywhere! ( with a little help from God, of course.) The security guard I was lead to was the person who personally found it buried underneath some T-shirts at a cash register and the store never expected anyone to comeback for it so they were detaining me at the store while someone from there took it to the police station. How I saw that store front in my mind the night before we left to go home is a miracle of some sort. But I know my prayers turned from selfish to wanting to help others!
God is always in control and we often times just get in His way.

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What To Feed Company After Christmas

While the guys are frying a turkey for your Christmas dinner, have them fry another one for your “PLANNED-OVERS” after Christmas .

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One of my favorites is turkey tetrazzini :

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Christmas was wonderful and sad at the same time. Last year when we celebrated our holiday, it was the first one without our sweet mother. She kept Christ in Christmas and continued to do so each day of the year. Her personality had a childlike aspect to it even though she had more proper education than any other woman I knew. She took college courses just for fun and helped others write their thesis whenever needed. But her giggle was delightful and it made everyone smile. She liked the small things in life that a lot of other people miss out on because of being too busy. She enjoyed all music but especially Christmas music. As a child, one of my fondest memories was of her singing Holy Night at our church’s Christmas Eve service.
Now this year we are spending it without our younger sister. It just doesn’t seem right to out live your younger siblings. She, like Mother, had such amazing rich voices that the absence now when singing our family carols is actually haunting!! She would often play her guitar and teach the children new songs to sing and read poems or stories . No one felt like trying to fill her “big” shoes this year. Just too soon.
Heaven’s choir must sound more beautiful than ever now with both Mom’s and LaDonna’s voices singing together!

LaDonna’s Hot Fudge Sauce. 🎄🎅🎄

LaDonna liked all the holidays, birthdays, vacations, the first snow of the season, David’s first fire in the fireplace, the list goes on and on because she loved life so much. But Christmas had it’s own special place in her heart. She always said the gifts had to be wrapped with the prettiest paper you could find and they had to be topped with just the right bows. Even if she mailed out her gifts, she’d pack the bows in a separate box and label each one so they would be put on the right box at their destination. Her miniature Christmas village grew and grew with each passing year so more tables would have to added. It became a tradition and a competition. One year LaDonna would be in charge and sometimes I would get to help her. She would have diagrams to follow and wanted it to look so real like that of a Thomas Kinkade drawing. Then the next year it would be David and the boys and they would create wrecks and trees falling and roads going to no where. With the twinkling lights now underneath the tables they both looked beautiful. She would put up at least two trees. One in the living room with antique glass icicles that belonged to our Dad and she would take the time to hang the silver tinsel one at a time. The dining room would have garland and glass bulbs and pictures of the boys when they were younger. Candles were burning everywhere and you knew it was Christmas. Besides all her singing engagements and church concerts she still found the time to make her much anticipated hot fudge sauce to give to family and friends. Not that any of us will make it as good or with as much love but I am now sharing it with you. This recipe copy came from a personal cookbook she made for her niece, Heather Atkinson, so I’m sure I’m not giving away her secret.

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CHRISTMAS SAUSAGE BALLS

IMG_2839.PNG As far back as I can remember we have had sausage balls during Christmas. First it was Mimi and Poppy Short that introduced them to us. Poppy had such strong big hands to mix the cheddar cheese into the sausage properly and that helped Grace a lot. So when he moved in with Heather he showed them how to make them and was so happy to be a part of the Christmas cooking. Jessica has been fixing them for several years now and does such a wonderful job, Poppy would be proud !

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FROM OUR KITCHEN TO YOURS

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My oldest granddaughter, Madeline Grace Crowley, age 12, prefers to be called Maddy. She has been helping me with this blog by taking pictures and setting up scenes but now she thinks it’s her turn to put up a recipe. She said this dessert fruity pie is so easy even her friends could make it. Maddy thinks it’s pretty enough to serve for Christmas dinner. Here is the recipe she used, but you can use any combination of fruit you like. Strawberries or cherries and kiwi would bring out the red and green of Christmas!

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NOT ALL HOT DOGS ARE THE SAME !!

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Dale Taylor I’m here to tell you that Hot Dog Heaven in Winter Park, Florida doesn’t have anything on me ! From the front I have THE BALL PARK Dog is with mustard, ketchup, pickle relish and chopped onion – next is THE CHILI DOG with beans of course – third comes THE CHILI CHEESE DOG, with no beans – fourth THE FAMOUS CHICAGO DOG with mustard, sour kraut, chopped onions and topped with jalapeños – last but by no means less important is THE SOUTHERN DOG with mustard, ketchup, chili with beans, shredded cheese and topped with slaw! Which is your favorite?
The picture above is my sister and I fixing hamburgers and hot dog at a horse show years ago. My sorority was helping to raise money so my mom and sister came to Tennessee to help and visit. When it was lunch time I fixed them both one of our southern dogs and they looked at each other and then took me aside, not to embarrass me, to tell me that in my hast I had accidentally put the slaw on top of their hot dog instead of beside it! We all had a good laugh when I told them that was the way they eat them down here. 😋

My grandson, Austin Crowley, decided he would create a hot dog of his own. He is a seventh grader and just finished reading FRANKENSTEIN and thought since Dr. Frankenstein had created the monster in the book, Austin wanted to call his creation THE MONSTER DOG. On it he put mustard and ketchup, chili, sour kraut, chopped onions, slaw and topped the whole thing with macaroni and cheese. It actually was very good! 👍

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Our Sweet Aunt Ethel Rae Eye and her amazing Chicken Lasagna and Prune Cake, BUT it was the wrong family reunion!!

IMG_2693.JPG To explain our Aunt Ethel to you I need to go back to the beginning. She was my grandmother’s sister, but since she was the next to last of ten children and my grandmother was the first, she was closer in age to my mother. They grew up best friends and were even roommates in college. She was very timid and looked up to my mother because she would have liked to have been more like her. Auntie was very smart and achieved high marks in school. She became a school teacher like mother. She also had talents in cooking and her patience made her an extremely good seamstress. Where our mother enjoyed teaching more and continued her own education for fun, Aunt Ethel was happy to help run the house and take care of her nieces and nephews. She taught in a different state but was able to come stay with us during holidays and summer vacations. We were like the Brady Bunch with our own Alice, except her name was Aunt Ethel. We’d keep record of who got to sleep with her or got to sit next to her at the table. Our hobbies became her hobbies. It was wonderful. We were lucky she never married and told ourselves she was better off with us than any man!! So later when we got married and had children of our own the wonderful relationship we had with her continued. I hadn’t been married very long when she came to stay with me one week-end. My husband’s family was having a reunion and to help me my Auntie made her sumptuous chicken lasagna and prune cake. She was very famous for that at her church and I knew it would be a hit. The family reunion was being held at a public park where several covered picnic areas were so when we arrived a little late my husband dropped us off while he went to park the car. We each carried a dish and set it down on the table with the other food. Everyone was being very friendly and since I was new to the family I didn’t recognize anyone. They were praising our food and we were bragging about theirs. When out of the corner of my eye I saw my husband waving his arms franticly and I could see he was saying something softly so I moved closer. He said we were at the wrong family reunion!! What? So my aunt and I had to put our plates of food down and sheepishly pick up our lasagna and cake and join my husband at the right reunion!! IMG_2723.PNG Aunt Ethel’s Prune Cake Recipe– straight from the Good Shepherd United Methodist Church’s cook book in Circleville, Ohio in 1980 2 C each sugar and flour 1 tsp cinnamon 1 tsp each cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon & soda 1/2 tsp salt 1 C oil 3 eggs 1 C cooked, diced prunes 1 C buttermilk 1 C chopped nuts 1 tsp vanilla Combine oil and eggs. Add prunes and vanilla. Sift dry ingredients together and add alternately with buttermilk to oil and egg mixture. Beat thoroughly after each addition. Pour into greased tube pan and bake for 1 hour or until done. Preheat oven to 325 to 350 degrees F.

Aunt Ethel’s simple Chicken Lasagna 8 oz lasagna noodles, cooked 3 C diced cooked chicken Mushroom Sauce: combine until smooth— 1/2 C each, chopped onion and green pepper 1 (6oz) can sliced mushrooms, drained 1/4 C chopped pimento 1 can cream of chicken soup 1/3 C milk and 1/2 tsp basil 1 1/2 C cream style cottage cheese 2 C shredded process cheese 1/2 C grated Parmesan cheese Place half the noodles in a 13x9x2 baking dish. Cover with each of the sauce, cottage cheese, chicken and cheeses. Repeat layers. Bake 350 degrees for 1 hour. Makes 8-10 servings.