Advice to the Graduates….

As the calendar moves from May to June a large segment of our population takes part in their own proverbial turning of the page.

It is graduation season and millions of high school and college students will begin a new phase in their lives.

As these young people start moving on, I thought it would be a good time to get some sage words of wisdom from a member of the “seasoned” community in advice to the young whipper-snappers who are about to take over the world.

Without further adieu, allow me to introduce this honored statesman, intellect and philosopher who will depart these words of wisdom…….


OK, sorry to disappoint but that is the best I could do on such short notice, after all I have only known graduation day was coming for the last 364 days!

Instead of statesman, intellect and philosopher, I’ll just do the best I can.

While not words that will change the world, I do believe these brief thoughts can change a young person’s direction and help make life a bit easier and more enjoyable.


DREAM HUGE – this is your moment, don’t let any dream be too big.  Dream your dream and then find a way to make it a reality.  Don’t mistake wanting to do something with making it a reality, dreams take planning and work to come true, but when you make it happen, the hard-work required is worth it…. go for it!

CHANGE YOUR MIND – nothing says that you must have your entire game-plan laid out the day you graduate.  Try something, if you don’t like it don’t be afraid to change your mind…. often!

FIND YOUR TRIBE – as someone who didn’t always fit in during my high school years, I found my “tribe,” during college and my 20’s and these are the people who shaped my life and led me into adulthood.  Find the people who make you your best and then embrace them.

RESPECT YOUR ELDERS – trust me, you will be an elder before you even imagined it possible.

ERASE “I WILL NEVER” FROM YOUR VOCABULARY – I will never be fat, I will never let my kid do that, I will never work weekends, I will never get fired, I will never, I will never, I will never…… yes you will so erase the thought!

GO ON AN ADVENTURE – find something you are passionate about and then drop everything and chase the passion.  Join a campaign, backpack the countryside, run a marathon, just do something.  You will have your entire life to do what is expected of you, do something for a purpose greater than yourself or a challenge that will change you forever.

LEARN TO COOK – no explanation is necessary, just learn to cook.

MAKE MISTAKES – there is nothing wrong with making a mistake, there is nothing wrong with making many mistakes.  The best way to handle a mistake is apologize, move on and try your best not to repeat the mistake again.  We are humans, not perfect, so don’t be afraid to screw up.

LAUGH – every single day, find a reason to laugh.  If for no other reason, than it just feels good!

DON’T FORGET WHERE YOU COME FROM – all I wanted to do when I was young was escape where I came from.  As I got older all I wanted to do was come home.  The people you grew up with will be there when life gives you joy and sorrow.  Don’t forget the people who shaped you and supported you and above all else, shared a common experience that will be looked back on with joy for the rest of your life!

That’s it, sorry I couldn’t find a great philosopher and intellect, just words of advice from an old guy at a keyboard.

Congrats on your graduation, there is a big, beautiful, amazing world out there waiting for you……  go conquer it!

Strawberry Fields Forever…..

Daddy was always interested in gardening. Both sets of my grandparents had gardens and after his retirement, Daddy had two (he was always an over-achiever!)

He enjoyed the process of gardening. Laying it out, planting, weeding, harvesting and then freezing or canning what he had grown. I find it easier to go to the grocery and buy what I want.

God’s country is ripe with gardens, the soil is good for growing most anything and the spring and summer weather are perfect.

One spring when I was in about the 7th grade, Daddy became enamored with strawberries. I don’t know why they were his infatuation that year but they were.

I don’t even like strawberries, so for me it made no sense whatsoever. Sam is the strawberry eater in the family, not me!

Strawberries need a lot of growing space, something we didn’t have. However, daddy heard about a “pick-your own” garden in North Carolina that grew strawberries and decided that we should go up one afternoon after school and pick.

Being a typical pre-teen, the thought of being bent over in a field picking anything wasn’t my idea of a good time. However, I didn’t have much choice about going. Daddy said we were going and we went.

After school, mama, daddy and I all piled into his two-tone Jeep Cherokee and headed to North Carolina on our strawberry picking adventure. As you can imagine I wasn’t happy about going and was determined to make my displeasure known. I pouted, but to no avail, I WAS going strawberry picking and I was going to like it….. PERIOD, end of story!

When we reached the strawberry fields, we were each given a 1 gallon bucket. The owner advised us that we paid by the gallon.

Looking out onto the fields, I decided to exert my independence and move to a far end of the field, far away from mama and daddy.

Daddy advised that we should be able to fill our buckets in about an hour, so to start picking and we would re-evaluate at the end of the time.

I was bound and determined that I was not going to be bent over in that field of strawberries picking for an hour. I don’t even like strawberries, let Sam come pick them, he is the one that likes them!

Off we went and I began filling my bucket, I picked and picked, cleaning off each plant I came across.

Within about 20 minutes my bucket was filled, but I wasn’t going to let anyone know, I was going to sit right here and soak up some sun.

I sat and waited until the hour had passed and began to make my way back to where mama and daddy were.

When I got back to the cash stand, I got THE LOOK. You know THE LOOK, it is that sideways glare that only parents have the ability to produce.

THE LOOK is the worst thing a child can encounter, it means you have just ROYALLY screwed up.

Being a typical pre-teen I asked the logical question “what?” After all THE LOOK deserved a response, didn’t it?

After delivering my genius of a response, I looked down at mama and daddy’s buckets and then back at mine….. uh-oh, now I knew what THE LOOK was for.

Mama and daddy both had overflowing buckets of beautiful red-ripe strawberries. Even for someone who doesn’t like strawberries, I knew those were pretty.

Looking back at my bucket, I saw some pretty red berries, but mostly I saw half-ripe white plants that would eventually, if left on the vine, become something worth eating.

For now, they were just unripened strawberries that were going to cost daddy money and not be used for anything.

Uh-oh, now THE LOOK made perfect sense. Daddy paid the man and we loaded back into the Jeep for a long ride home.

In my typically youthful mindset, I thought I could make it all better by talking and making excuses, that didn’t work well. I continued to get THE LOOK all the way home.

I don’t quite remember how the story ended as sometimes it is just better to erase certain memories from your brain. I do know that this trip was my one and only visit to the strawberry fields.

For the years that followed, if I was ever perceived as uppity Daddy only had to mention the strawberry fields and it shut me down, no more uppity for me!

After years …… MANY years, we eventually laughed about my inept ability to harvest strawberries.  At the time THE LOOK spoke loud and clear, thus ending my gardening adventures forever!

Today, I leave the picking to the experts, I leave the growing to the experts and I never forgot THE LOOK!

Thanksgiving Playlist….. All Creatures of Our God and King performed by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir












Sunday Supper – Recipes

I cook Sunday Supper most weeks for my family.  It’s a time for us to get together and talk, laugh and catch up on what’s going on in our busy lives.

I enjoy cooking for the family and having everyone at my house.  I get that from my parents who both enjoyed having family around for a meal.

This Sunday, I had two dishes on the menu that got recipe requests.  The Chicken Casserole was my grandmother and then mother’s recipe.  This recipe was often on our table or my grandmother’s table for Sunday Supper and if there was a family reunion or large gathering, it always made an appearance.

The applesauce cake was reminiscent of one my grandmother used to make, but I got the recipe off


2 c. cubed, cooked chicken

1 c. diced celery

1/2 tsp salt

dash pepper

3 chopped hard boiled eggs

mayonnaise to moisten

1 can cream of chicken soup

potato chips or sticks


Combine chicken, celery, salt, pepper 1and eggs.  Moisten with mayonnaise.  Add undiluted cream of chicken soup.  Pour 1/2 of mixture into greased casserole dish.  Put thin layer of crushed chips or sticks over the top.  Add rest of mixture.  Top with crushed chips or sticks and bake at 350 for 45 minutes.

(I added mushrooms to my casserole.)



applesauce-cake1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
2 cups applesauce
1/2 cup raisins
1 cup chopped walnuts
Powdered sugar, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, cream the butter. Add the brown sugar and continue mixing. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and vanilla, then mix until well blended and fluffy.
In a separate bowl, sift together the dry ingredients. Add to the creamed mixture alternately with the applesauce. Fold in the raisins and walnuts. Pour batter into a greased and floured loaf or tube pan and bake until firm to the touch, about 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool in the pan, then turn it out, and dust with powdered sugar.

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Sunday Supper, My Favorite New Tradition

When I moved back to God’s Country, one of the things that was most important to me was being able to spend time with my family.

I had missed out on so many wonderful moments while living in Florida; I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss out on any others.

Immediately after moving back, I implemented Sunday Supper.  The entire family is invited, 6PM at my house.

I cook and we all sit down together and enjoy a meal.

My love of cooking and these family gatherings were passed down from mama and daddy.  I think they were at their best when cooking a big meal for those they loved and then sitting down at the table to enjoy.

Sunday Supper has quickly become the highlight of my week.

I have done numerous meal combinations, last night was reminiscent of what we grew up on, supper direct from the garden.  (Not mine, but a friends.)

What’s on the menu…..

7.19.15 SSBaked chicken breast with mushrooms

Corn on the cob

Squash and onion

Butter beans


“Pink” salad – mama used to call this “Ken’s Salad” because it was my favorite.


Homemade banana ice cream