Monday, April 30, 2012

Lovely Louisiana

Photo credit

From Today is Louisiana Day. The Pelican State became the 18th U.S. state on this date in 1812. The U.S. had made the Louisiana Purchase on the same date in 1803.

I have a lot of wonderful memories of Lousiana.  I spent four years in Shreveport--all four of my high school years.  My father's family has quite a bit of  history in Louisiana.  My dad was born in Pelican, Louisiana, near Mansfield, and many of his relatives still live in that area.

I would really love to visit there again.

Source: via Vickie on Pinterest

Anyway, in honor of Louisiana Day, I'm re-posting something I wrote  after Hurricane Katrina.

From 9/6/05: Reminiscing about New Orleans

When I heard New Orleans' deputy police chief say "this city is destroyed" on national television, I couldn't help but feel profound sadness.

Yes, I know there was probably enough wickedness in the city to more than rival the toxic cesspool of water now flowing through the streets. But what city can say "We are without sin...we don't deserve judgment"?

There was also plenty of beauty and innocent joie de vivre in that city. I always wanted to take my husband there, because I'll never forget a vacation I took there with my parents when I was a teen-ager, circa mid-1970's.

Jackson Square, New Orleans
Photo credit

I was charmed by the distinctive architecture, the honey-rich drawl of the N'awlins natives, by jazz notes floating out of a bar in the middle of the day. I remember my mom getting her portrait done by a hippie artist on Jackson Square. She still has that portrait, and it actually begins to capture something of her unique beauty.

Source: via Bambi on Pinterest

I remember visiting a Civil War museum and renting bikes to ride through Audubon Park. (Is Audubon Park ok? What about the D-Day museum--my daughter has always wanted to go there; is it destroyed?)

Audubon Park
photo credit

I'll never forget our first day of touring the city. My dad parked our car, we got out, and one of us spotted a wad of dollar bills on the sidewalk. No one any where nearby--no way to find out to whom it belonged. It wasn't a big amount, but we accepted it as a gift from above--a lovely little benediction to send us off on our day.

And don't even get me started on the food. We had muffaletta sandwiches from a deli my aunt had told us about. They were amazing. Delectable beignets from the Cafe du Monde. We had lunch at Antoine's. We had incredibly delicious gumbo and jambalaya at a nondescript-looking but awesome little restaurant on Bayou Gauche.

Houston Chronicle writer Alison Cook writes a requiem for the tastes of New Orleans. Cook has her own memories of the Cafe du Monde: "Chicory coffee au lait — was there a more magical brew to be had anywhere? — exerted its lure from the porch of the CafĂ© du Monde, where I would sit under churning ceiling fans, watching waiters pour with a fine flourish as I devoured an absurd number of fried-dough beignets. The more powdered sugar ended up on my clothes, the better life seemed."--end of archived post

Still recovering

Thankfully, since I wrote that post, Louisiana has undergone much rebuilding and renovation.  But don't forget that some places are still rebuilding, even these several years past Katrina.

My friend Don Elbourne pastors Lakeshore Baptist Church in Lakeshore, MS.  The church facility was destroyed by the hurricane, and faced an arduous rebuilding process.  Church teams from all over the US have come to help at various times, and as I understand from the website Rebuild Lakeshore, the process is still ongoing.

The facility was destroyed by Katrina, but the church thrives!  Pastor Don Elbourne is the bearded guy on the front row

You can go to the Rebuild Lakeshore site to find out how you and/or your church group can help.

A lagniappe for you!

Lagniappe: An unexpected gift or benefit (chiefly Southern Louisiana and Mississippi)
My lagniappe for you today is Pastor Don Elbourne's recipe for Chicken and Andouille Gumbo.  I have made it, and believe me it is delicious!

Don Elbourne's Chicken and Andouille Gumbo

1 Chicken
2 lbs. Andouille Sausage
4 Onions
2 Green Bell Peppers
7 Stalks Celery
1/4 cup minced garlic
2 10 oz cans of Rotel Diced tomatoes and Green Chilies
2 13 oz cans of sliced mushrooms
4 lbs. cut Okra
1 bunch of Green Onions
2 cups vegetable oil
2 cups flour
4 Tablespoons Tabasco Sauce
Creole Seasonings (I use Zatarain's)

Boil chicken with Creole seasonings. De-bone the chicken and set aside the meat and the chicken stock.

The Roux: In a 12 quart pot, heat the vegetable oil over a medium heat and stir in the flour. Stir with flat wooden spoon continually for about 30 minutes, never allowing the roux to sit for longer than a few seconds at a time. Cook until dark brown, but not black! If black specks begin to appear, discard and start over.

Add the chopped onions, bell peppers, celery and garlic to the roux. Stir, allowing the roux to adhere to the vegetables. Allow the roux and the vegetables to get to know each other for a few minutes as you stir. Stir in the rotel tomatoes and the mushrooms. Allow the vegetables to cook down a bit. Add the chicken stock and bring to a low boil. Add the chicken, sausage, okra, hot sauce and about 1/8 cup Creole seasonings. Let simmer at a low rolling boil for about 2 hours. Add water as needed. About 20 minutes before serving add another 2 lbs of cut okra and finely chopped green onions.

Serve in deep bowls over steamed white rice. serve with potato salad.

If you have pleasant thoughts and/or memories of Louisiana, please share them in my comments section!

Happy Louisiana Day!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Pop over to my book blog today

Giving my book blog, Cindy's Book Club, some much-needed love today with my review of Anne Perry's The Face of a Stranger.  

Do hop on over!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Fashion Friday: What I'd Wear

Happy Friday, everyone! Today I'm joining with Kori at Blonde Episodes for Fashion Friday.

You know how a lot of bloggers and YouTubers do "What I Wore" posts?  Well, I actually have a board on Pinterest called "What I'd Wear."  This is where I put style inspiration and things I'd love to wear if I had the means. :)

Here are some of my fashion pins.  Enjoy!

I saw this on the New York and Company website and instantly loved it. I don't have a maxi skirt yet, but this would be a beautiful way to wear one!

Source: via Cindy on Pinterest

Speaking of maxi' this one from Target. Are you wearing maxi's now? Let me know in my comments section!

Source: via Cindy on Pinterest

Are you loving polka dots as much as I am? I would pair this dress with a white cardi or shrug.

Love the pairing of purple and yellow the pencil skirt and the polka dots on the cardigan. And I love wherever she's posing!

This dress! So ladylike and classy. Looks like something Duchess Kate would wear.

The fact that I recently broke out of my fashion shell and wore a hat to church has encouraged me to try more hats! MT of The French Touch encouraged me to wear a "picture hat" like this one next time. I'm looking for one to wear to a June wedding. What do you think?

Source: via Cindy on Pinterest

I adore this swimsuit--modest, pretty AND whimsical. A peplum ruffle on a swimsuit? Genius!

Check out more fashion posts and join the fun by clicking the link below!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Thursday 13: 13 Old-Fashioned Baby Names that are Back in Style

Photo by Brittany Blevins on

"These classic names went out of fashion, but now they're back as parents go vintage" --(from

1) Clara

2) Eli

3) Naomi

4)  Charlie

5)  Alice

6) Henry

7)  Olive

8) Leo

9)  Lillian

10)  Jasper

11)  Amelia

12)  Everett

13)  Nora

Rounding out the top 20 are Silas, Adeline, Max, Hazel, Owen, Stella, and Oliver.

Go here for a lot more info about the names, their meanings, their re-emergence in popularity, famous people who have them, etc.

For the first time in quite a while, I'm participating in Thursday 13! Go to the link to join the fun

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Do you appreciate your hairstylist?

Your hairstylist probably knows more about you than your doctor. A good hairstylist not only gives you the most up-to-date hairstyle that you can replicate at home, he or she is also a good listener. Hairstyling is an artful skill that boosts self-esteem and makes clients feel good. On April 25, take time to show your favorite hairstylist your appreciation.--from

There's no doubt about it, a really good hairstylist is a treasure.

April 25, 2012 is Hairstylist Appreciation Day.

There are few feelings happier than the day you know you're getting your hair cut and/or colored...especially when you know and trust your stylist.  You feel like a new woman!

Looking back on all the people who have cut, styled and/or colored my hair, I've been pretty blessed.

Price has always been an issue for me.  I just can't afford to spend a ton of money on my hair.

 Right now, my hairstylist works in a terrific salon in a small town over half an hour away from me.  The drive is worth it because not only is the price much less, but Lori is a talented stylist and colorist, and I've been very pleased with her work.

This has worked against me in the past, though.  For a couple of years, I had a bargain stylist who was dirt-cheap.  I thought this person did an OK job, but looking back at pictures of myself during this era, I can see that my hair was really not very flattering.

 The old adage "You get what you pay for" comes to mind.

I've had some wonderful stylists in the past who have since moved away. I actually followed Samantha through stops in three different salons!  This girl really had a talent with hair.

We all know that when you take a photo to a hairstylist, you shouldn't expect miracles.  She/he can use it as a guideline, but chances are, it's not going to look the same on you.

However, one time I took a photo to Samantha and I think she came pretty close!

Photo I took to the shop on the left--me post-cut on the right

Sam ended up moving away and getting married.

How about you?  Do you have a hard time finding someone who does your hair the way you want it? Is cost an issue?  Do you change stylists frequently, or tend to stick with one for years?

Let me know in my comments section!

Life is an endless struggle full of frustrations and challenges, but eventually you find a hair stylist you like.  ~Author Unknown

Thursday, April 19, 2012

In praise of the clothesline

Source: via Cindy on Pinterest

Today is National Hanging Out Day, billed as "a day to save energy by using a clothesline."

A site called lists the top 10 reasons for line-drying...but you know what? They don't have to convince me!

It's been years since I've had a clothesline, but I loved using it. Nothing can beat the fragrance of clean clothes that have been dried under the sunshine in a billowing breeze.

I also loved the fact that I was saving money by hanging out my clothes. Of course, in northern Illinois, you can't hang clothes out all year long...and fluffy towels from the dryer are great too.

But I wish I had the option to hang clothes outside, and now I'm thinking of trying to figure out a way to do it.

"Barefoot and Pregnant," #7, by Sara Rose
Source: via Cindy on Pinterest

This is my niece Julie's header picture on her blog--her family's jeans all in a row

Just thinking about clotheslines brings back a lot of memories. I can remember hanging clothes out for my mother...or rushing to bring in the clothes before the rain started in earnest.

I can remember slipping into bed on a summer evening between freshly laundered and line-dried sheets.

Line drying is perfect for delicate things like this

Source: via Cindy on Pinterest

Source: via Cindy on Pinterest

Do you use a clothesline? What do you like about it? Do you have memories of growing up with a clothesline? Let me know in my comments section!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Is fast food from the devil?

Quick answer: it doesn't have to be.

Today is National Fast Food Day...and despite the (often deservedly) bad rap that fast food restaurants have garnered, there's still a lot of good things to say about the concept. From the website

The concept of ready-cooked food for sale can be attributed to the Ancient Romans. In many cities, street stands or "thermopoliums" (small pub-like shops) offered hot sausages, bread, and wine to patrons on-the-go.

Thousands of years later, in 1867, the first American fast food restaurant opened in New York. It was a hotdog stand on Coney Island!

Today, fast food is an American staple. There are over 300,000 fast food restaurants in the United States alone, making it nearly impossible to drive down the road without going by at least one fast food chain restaurant.

BeefARoo's Summer Berry Salad

Pictured above is the Summer Berry Salad from a local fast food chain (northwestern Illinois) called Beefaroo.

Yep, kind of a goofy name...but would that there were Beefaroo's all over America.  Why?  Because along with all the other stuff that's terrible for you, Beefaroo boasts a varied menu of choices that are both healthy and delicious.  Witness the Summer Berry Salad's nutrition facts:

Nutrition Facts

Beef-A-Roo - Summerberry Salad

Calories321Sodium608 mg
Total Fat14 gPotassium0 mg
Saturated0 gTotal Carbs21 g
Polyunsaturated0 gDietary Fiber5 g
Monounsaturated0 gSugars0 g
Trans0 gProtein24 g
Cholesterol15 mg
Vitamin A0%Calcium0%
Vitamin C0%Iron0%
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Not too shabby, eh?

But, you say mournfully, I don't have Beefaroo where I live.

I maintain that you can find healthy choices at almost every fast food outlet these days, even McDonald's.

And not just salad. Fast food "joints" (as my dad used to call hamburger places) now offer grilled chicken sandwiches, soups, veggies,yogurt parfaits, even oatmeal.

On most diets, even a small burger is OK if accompanied by a side salad instead of fries.

So...inquiring minds want to know.

Will you be celebrating National Fast Food Day with a visit to your favorite eatery?

Which one is your favorite, and why? What are your favorite fast food meal choices--healthy or not-so-healthy?

Let me know in my comments section!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Oh, How Pinteresting! 4/11/12 The Funny Stuff

I'm participating in Oh, How Pinteresting!, hosted by The Vintage Apple...and I thought it was time again to share some of the things I've been chuckling at on Pinterest lately.

 Have a grin on me!

Source: via Cindy on Pinterest

I'm linking up with The Vintage Apple for Oh, How Pinteresting!

Monday, April 09, 2012

Visible Monday: I wore a hat for Easter!

This might not seem like a big deal, but wearing a hat for a dressy occasion was somewhat of a bold move for me!

I've been wanting to wear a hat since the Royal Wedding of Will and Kate last year.  The ladies all looked so elegant and sophisticated with their hats and "fascinators" (the fancy headpieces often made of feathers and/or lace, etc).

So I found this little black hat at Ross Dress for Less.  It's a Chinese Laundry hat that I got for 8.99, and I thought it would be a nice compliment to a two-piece dress my sister Lisa had given me when I was in Texas. (I love getting hand-me-downs from Lisa.  She has great taste, and I know pretty much anything she wears will also be flattering on me.)

I never got a full-length shot of my outfit, but this should give some context for the hat.  I was really pleased to find a necklace, earrings and bracelet at Charming Charlie to match the red in the outfit.  It's not a common shade of red...kind of a dark cherry red with just a touch of rust.  I love Charming Charlie--you can pretty much find any shade of accessory there!

Here are a couple of side-views of my cute hat:

Wearing an accessory I don't normally wear helped me step out my style comfort zone a bit, and I really enjoyed it!  I also got a lot of compliments on the hat at my church's Easter Service.

(By the way, I took the hat off for dinner at my sister-in-law's house, and there wasn't a terrible case of "hat-head" that I expected.  I just had to "tease" the top a little to unflatten it a bit. I had expected worse!)

Here's one of my husband Doug and me.  He loved the hat, and even bought a tie to match my outfit!

Now that I've broken the ice, millinarily speaking, I will definitely wear hats more!

I'm linking up with Visible Monday!

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Lea Salonga sings "Via Dolorosa"

Lea Salonga

I've loved Lea Salonga's beautiful voice since I first heard it on the 10th anniversary DVD of Les Miserables, playing Eponine.

Here, she sings one of the most moving and powerful songs about the suffering of Jesus and the incomparable, astonishing love that sent him to the cross.

The song was originally sung by Sandi Patti, who also, of course, does an amazing job on it. Here are some facts about the song from
This retelling of the story of Christ's climb to Calvary was written by Billy Sprague and Niles Borop. Sandi Patti told CCM Magazine presents 100 Greatest Songs In Christian Music why as soon as she heard this, she wanted to record it.

Said the singer: "I think the challenge for a songwriter is always to find a new way to say the same story. When 'Via Dolorosa' came along my path, I was just blown away because it did just that. It told the story but in a new and fresh and incredibly artistic way."

Patti explained in the same interview why she recorded some of the song in Spanish. She explained: "Because of the words 'via dolorosa' being Latin and Spanish, we chose to do part of the song in Spanish. And that was always one of those little spur-of-the-moment decisions that proved to be a really powerful one as well."

"Via Dolorosa" means in Latin "The Way of Suffering." It is traditionally held to be the path that Jesus walked through Jerusalem on his way to his crucifixion.

Friday, April 06, 2012

He is Risen: Celebrating Easter

Source: via mitchell on Pinterest

Some songs, quotes and other Easter-related things:

"We have no tomb in Christianity because we have no corpse."--Padre Sahib

Source: via Cindy on Pinterest

"Whoever reads the New Testament seriously, or gives thought to the impact which the apostles made upon their generation, must acknowledge that one outstanding historic event alone spurred that small band of 11 ordinary men to an  amazing task of evangelization in their generation. Defying every
obstacle, loss of home, persecution, even death itself, they evidenced the
supreme relevance in their ministry of the resurrection of Jesus Christ." --Erling C. Olsen
My grandsons, Payton and Josiah, Easter 2011

"...the early Christians... didn’t need faith to believe Christ’s resurrection like I do... They saw him. They ate fish with him. They walked and talked with the man who just a week ago was strung up like a criminal and dead as a doornail. For them it wasn’t blind faith. And that’s why the word spread like wildfire. Hundreds and hundreds of people laid eyes on the one human being since the beginning of time who kicked down Death’s door and made it out alive again."--Andrew Peterson

"All heaven is interested in the cross of Christ, all hell terribly afraid of it, while men are the only beings who more or less ignore its meaning.
"--Oswald Chambers

--The word "Easter" actually derives from the name of a pagan goddess, which leads many Christians to call it "Resurrection Sunday" instead.

--Americans spend 2 billion dollars on Easter goodies. They consume 7.1 billion pounds of Easter goodies each year.

Payton, Easter 2009

"We are not preaching the Gospel of a dead Christ, but of a living Christ who sits exalted at the Father's right hand, and is living to save all who put their trust in Him...we are not pointing men to a dead Christ; we are preaching a living Christ. He lives exalted at God's right hand, and He 'saves to the uttermost all who come to God by Him.'"--H. A. Ironside

I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live...--Jesus Christ, John 11:25

"Jesus, what a sacrifice to reach had to be a cross of love."

Thursday, April 05, 2012

The Sweet Pain of Being a Die-Hard Cubs Fan

...or in my case, being married to one

(Originally posted April 17, 2010)

My friend Tara, whose husband Joe is a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan, wrote this on Facebook today:

I love my 7 year old's optimism: "Mom the Cubs are almost in first place. If they can stay in first place long enough, they'll make the playoffs!!" Oh, it's going to be a long summer.

I had to laugh. Having been married to a die-hard Cubs fan for over 30 years, and being the mother of two more, I can SO relate.

The Friendly Confines

See that picture? You may think it's just a photograph of a baseball field, but oh no, it's SO much more.

That picture of Wrigley Field will strike a chord deep in the soul of every true Cubs fan. That diamond is the scene of a plethora of emotions experienced only by a baseball enthusiast who fanatically supports a team. Right now, it's a tremulous, yet undying sense of joyful anticipation.

The soundtrack of my marriage...
The soundtrack of my married life has not been provided by a particular musician or band. At least from April through September, it's been the sound of ambient stadium noise and the voices of announcers from Harry Caray to Steve Stone to Ron Santo--commenting in tones ranging from desultory and casual ("beautiful day here at the friendly confines") to wildly and frantically excited ("It might could IS!!!" "Cubs Win! Cubs Win!")

Riding in the car with my husband anywhere? Forget music. If there's a Cubs game on, that's what we'll be listening to.

Years ago, in a particularly good season for the Cubs, WGN's theme music coming in and out of the games--and on TV, as the credits were rolling--was Van Halen's "Jump." My husband is the furthest thing from a rock music fan, but I'll wager that if he ever hears that song, his heart leaps a little bit.

I know I can never hear its closing strains without also hearing a voice saying, "This has been a presentation of WGN Radio. Any reproduction without the express written consent of Major League Baseball...",etc.

Hope springs eternal...

Through the years of being repeatedly disappointed by the Cubs, my husband has learned to temper his emotions regarding the team. Yes, he'll gripe about their losses, but at the end of the summer, once he knows the Cubs are out of it, his attitude is one of quiet acceptance.

Despite never winning the World Series, the Cubs have brought him the kind of enjoyment and pleasure that is the seasoning of a well-lived life.

In April, hope springs in the heart of a die-hard Cubs fan as sure as the daffodils lift their sunny golden faces to the blue Illinois sky. That hope is as fresh and naive as that of Tara's 7-year-old son.

So let the fun begin. And if the Cubs don't make the play-offs?

There's always next year.
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