Thursday, December 31, 2009

Just Another New Year's Eve

I'm excited for New Years Eve. We will be celebrating with our friends & neighbors - as we do each year. I've already set the table for our extravaganza. Can't wait to spend a fun evening together filled with good food, good drink, and always lots of laughter!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Surprise Snow Showers

Salem was surprised today by the amount of snow that showered upon us. Portland was even more surprised! Many commuters were still on the I-5 freeway at 11pm. I'm SO glad we were home safe and sound.
A pair of squirrels took cover on our deck for a short while!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

We Saw...

photo from
The movie "Up in the Air" today. It was really quite good. Of course, I'm very partial to George Clooney. (Known to all my family and friends as "my George"!)

Richard and I enjoyed the movie and our visit to the newest theater in Salem, Cinebarre. We liked the service and the food. We will definitely go back to this theater again.

Wishing "my George" good luck at the Golden Globes this awards season.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Movie Time

photo from
We saw the movie "Avatar" today. When I originally saw the previews I wasn't very interested in seeing the movie. But having heard from people that saw it - and hearing all of the reviews, we decided to go. Well worth the time and money. It was quite a bit better than I expected. I think it's another "win" for James Cameron. It should most certainly win all of the Visual Effects awards this year.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Day

We didn't take a lot of photos. Not exactly sure why. Probably too busy opening presents and enjoying our day. We had a wonderful Christmas filled with love and family. Went to dinner at Richard's sister's house. Had a delicious dinner with the family. Then back home to relax and watch some movies on our new Blue-Ray that Santa brought for us. Thanks Santa!

Before the presents were opened
Our niece, Holly and beautiful Canon
Kelly, Richards Sister, and our niece Erin

From our home to yours, we wish you a very Merry Christmas. We hope your day was beautiful and bright!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Quilting Time

This is the quilt that I made for our newest grand-nephew Canon. His mom is our niece, Holly. I'm really happy with how it turned out. I'm giving it to Holly for their Christmas present. I hope she likes the pattern and colors!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas Brunch

We hosted a Christmas Brunch this morning with our friends Kerry, Dodi, Rob and Scott in attendance. Fun was had by all - complete with tons of laughter, lots of good food, and full bellies.

Kerry & Dodi

Rob & Scott

The Whole Gang

JJ was taking the photos... things got a little silly towards the end!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

My Friend Laura...

...and I got together tonight to visit and exchange Christmas presents. I am so excited about the present she gave me.
It is a cookbook that contains recipes from Mother's Bistro & Bar - one of my favorite Portland restaurants.
I can't wait to try these recipes. I'd venture to guess that many of them are going to make it on to my recipe blog - Gumbo YaYa.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Taking a Brief Break...

...during the holidays from writing my weekly Sentimental Sunday posts.
We are having so much fun preparing for Christmas and visiting with family and friends... something's got to give. We'll still do postings of our gatherings and Christmas, but just need to put these on the back burner for now.

Hope everyone is enjoying the season! Happy Holidays to all of our blogging buddies!

Friday, December 11, 2009


It's been extremely cold in Salem the past week. And when I say cold - I mean FREEZING cold! We're talking 10 degrees in the morning. That's frigid!!

The fountains around town have frozen solid. Here a couple of pictures "for your enjoyment"!

No, your eyes are not deceiving you. Those are NOT suds in the fountain... that is ice - SOLID ICE!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Oh Christmas Tree - Sentimental Sunday No. 37

As I write this, I’ve just finished decorating our Christmas Tree. It’s quite a process that I usually spread out over a couple of days. When each ornament is unwrapped I am flooded with memories of Christmas’ past. There are ornaments from my childhood – and one that belonged to my Dad when he was a boy. There are ornaments collected since Richard and I married, and some that belong specifically to J.J. Each one has a story and most are quite unique.
I remember tree decorating with my parents. Dad strung the lights and Mom and I decorated. I even recall the year that Mom “redecorated the tree” after I had already decorated it! Wow - way to bruise a girls self confidence! Ha Ha...

Today I do most of the decorating alone. Richard and JJ help a little and love looking at the tree – but they aren’t very enthusiastic about the work involved in decorating it. But, that’s OK. I’m pretty persnickety about the ornaments and their placement. I would probably take a page out of my Moms book and be rearranging the ornaments when they weren’t looking.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Another YaYa Christmas

Fun was had by all the Ya Ya sister's tonight.
We celebrated Brenda's birthday

as you can see from her cake - she's only 29!

We exchanged our homemade Christmas presents.

We ate great food, had lots of laughs and ended the evening with delicious cake.

Another perfect evening for the YaYa Sister's!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

I'm Very Excited... share the news that I was quoted in an article for our local "Salem Monthly" magazine. Click here to read the article "Eating with the Eyes First". The photo featured in the article is mine, from my recipe blog "Gumbo Ya Ya". It is of my Grandma Julia's Pumpkin Pie. I think she would be pretty darned proud of her granddaughter today!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Auntie Mae Mae - Sentimental Sunday No. 36

(L to R) Cousin Nona, Cindy's Mom - Sylvia, and Auntie Mae Mae
Eleanor Mae was my grandma Maurine’s sister. Her daughter Nona and my Mom were first cousins. She was born in Tucson Arizona in 1907; and although they were 12 years apart, she and my grandma were extremely close. During the depression they lived together off and on for several years with their girls – my mom and Nona.

Auntie Mae Mae and Uncle Bruce owned property in 29 Palms, California. They lived in a trailer while they built their home, brick by brick – with their own hands. Amazing! I was fortunate enough to spend a week or two with them during the summer for several years. Sometimes my Grandma came too – but sometimes I was there alone with them. Those were fabulous summer visits. We had our main meal at mid-day and then just a light supper. Right as the sun set we would take short walks through the desert; looking for glass or rocks or any other treasures we could find. Auntie Mae Mae had a glass garden in front of their home. When you put old fashioned glass in the sun it changes colors. I still have a little wine glass that belonged to her. It’s a beautiful shade of amethyst.

Uncle Bruce put up a portable pool for me one summer and I had great fun splashing and cooling off during the horrendously hot days. But other summers he took me to the pool in town; not that there was A LOT of town in 29 Palms in the late 60’s. My favorite memory of Uncle Bruce was that he never wrote “just a letter”. All of his letters were written in poem. I still have a few of them. I wish I had saved more – they are priceless to me.

Auntie Mae Mae taught me to embroider and crochet. Well, actually she got really frustrated teaching me to crochet –although I can’t remember why. I think I wanted to hold the needle differently than she did and that caused me to crochet differently which gave her difficulty in teaching me. BUT, with what she showed me I’ve been crocheting for years. I love it – and I think of her often as I am making something for myself or friends.

I remember the dramatic storms we would have in the desert; lots of thunder and lightning. Auntie was petrified of thunder. I recall one storm where I asked Uncle Bruce, “What happened to Auntie Mae Mae?” He replied, “Oh, she’s probably in the closet.” That was her safe haven in a storm.

After Uncle Bruce passed away Auntie Mae Mae moved from the desert to live closer to Nona. It was always so nice to see her and spend time with her – especially on holidays. I’ve been thinking of her a lot this past week because she and I were always in charge of mashing the potatoes for Thanksgiving and Christmas. We would mash and whip and laugh and season. That memory of that laughter usually crosses my mind when I’m mashing potatoes today.

She and Uncle Bruce had such a special way of taking care of me and making me feel important. I knew I was loved when I was with them and those fun summer days are some of my most favorite childhood memories. I miss them both and those happy days we shared. But, I can close my eyes and picture their little house and see them both sitting in their chairs or at the table. Auntie has General Hospital on the television – but it’s blurry because it uses rabbit ears. We’re getting ready to sit down for our mid-day meal – and there is love… lots and lots of love. Oh, and don’t forget the laughter!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Counting Our Blessings

Thanksgiving is a time to take notice of all we are thankful for. There are so many blessings our family has to be thankful for. We are truly fortunate and blessed, although I think that sometimes I may not always be aware of just how fortunate I am.

These are the things we are thankful for - to name just a few:

Our family and friends
Our faith in God
The freedom we are afforded by living in the United States
Our health and that of our family and friends
Clean water, medical care, electricity and clean food
Animals - especially our kitty cats
Nature and the beautiful seasons we are fortunate enough to enjoy
A roof over our head, a bed to rest in and food on our table
Adoption - without it we wouldn't be a family

And on a personal note; I am thankful for ALL of my life experiences - both good and bad. Without each and every one of them I wouldn't be the woman I am today.
From our home to yours we wish you a blessed Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Grandma Julia - Sentimental Sunday No. 35

I didn’t know my Grandma Julia very well. I don’t really know what she liked or much of what her life was like. Here’s what I do know –

She was my father’s mother. I’ve written about her before; she worked for years at See’s Candy. Julia was only four when her mother passed away. She was raised by her grandmother Mary; she called her Ma. Mary Miner worked as a cook at the Harvey Houses along the train line. I have a huge cast iron skillet that belonged to her. And, although I never got to meet her, she died in 1939, I think of her any time I use that skillet.

Grandma Julia married John Porter when she was barely 16. I wish I knew how they met. It was 1918; my dad was born about 10 months later. She and Pop didn’t get along very well and they divorced after my Dad was grown. They both remarried – which made me a pretty lucky little girl when I was growing up. I had FOUR sets of grandparents (because my Mom’s parents divorced too) that all wanted to “out do” each other when it came to gift giving. Yes, I was a trifle spoiled.
Grandpa Carl & Grandma Julia - my favorite picture of them.
I didn’t get to spend a lot of time with Grandma Julia when I was growing up. She and Grandpa Carl didn’t live extremely close, but we always spent the holidays together. Thanksgiving was a time that we would go to their house; I got to ride my horse when we were there. She had a huge love for all types of animals, including two large funny parrots that talked and sang. I was always entertained by them.

Grandma Julia baked delicious pies – custard and pumpkin. My dad LOVED them, and he always got his own smaller individual pie that she would bake especially for her son. She also made amazing potato salad, which we all loved. Fortunately for me, I have her pie recipes and potato salad recipe. She shared them with my Mom (who probably “tweaked” them slightly) and my Mom passed them on to me.

Unfortunately Grandma Julia didn't seem like a very happy lady. I don’t recall her really showing me much affection or saying "I Love You"- except towards the end. She let me know, in her own way, that she was proud of me and that she loved and appreciated me. And those few minutes, when I was alone with her in that hospital room, are the happiest and most cherished memory I have of her. Just a few days later, she was gone. I was 14.

I wish that she could have had a happier life and could have shared more joy and love with us. I don’t know exactly what happened to her that made her so unhappy, but I think it’s safe to assume that she had a lot of hardships and that was reflective in her behavior. I know that she was affectionate to my Dad when he was growing up. He loved his mother – but he readily admitted that he didn’t REALLY know what love was until he met my Mom and her Mom, my Grandma Maurine. Grandma Maurine was the embodiment of love, kindness and giving. She was an amazing lady. And, while Julia didn’t often display any of those characteristics, I’m thankful that she was here on this earth. I'm thankful that she was my Grandmother, and that I had an opportunity to know her – however briefly. She was my father’s mother – and I’ll always be grateful to her for that!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

John James - Sentimental Sunday No. 34

This is one of my favorite pictures of J.J. He was about four years old and the photo was taken at the Oregon Zoo. He has always been a very happy child. We are so blessed that God brought this amazing boy to us; that his mother chose us to be his parents through adoption. He brings us so much joy and happiness – even as a teenager! I would be lost without him.

John James is named for both of his grandfathers. John was Cindy’s dad and James was Richard’s dad. James is also Richard’s middle name. Both of our dad’s were already deceased by the time we got J.J., but he has always had a strong connection with his Papa John. When he was small he used to talk about things that Papa had told him and he would have dreams about Papa. When I was small I had a similar connection with Sharon Lee, my sister who died before I was born. So, I thoroughly believe that my dad is with J.J.; a guardian angel if you will.

My favorite story about this connection was right about the time this photo was taken. J.J. asked me to make him a sandwich. I asked him what kind. He replied, “Peanut Butter, Butter and Mayonnaise”. Well, my first response was EWWW… and then I asked him why he wanted that kind of sandwich. He said that Papa had told him it was good and that he should ask me to make it for him. I said OK, but thought to myself – NO WAY would my dad have EVER eaten anything like that. J.J. loved the sandwich and continued asking for it practically every day over the course of the next few months. I tried one – it was pretty good! But, I still thought it was funny that he said my dad had told him to ask for one.

A few months later we were visiting with my cousin Nona who lived with my Mom and Dad for several years. She was actually my Mom’s First Cousin. I told her the story about the sandwich and she said, “Oh Yeah! Don’t you remember?” I said NO. He didn’t eat peanut butter and mayonnaise. She said yes, he did. He ate them with the Best Foods Sandwich spread. Then the light bulb went on for me. I DID remember those sandwiches. That spread is mayo with pickles and spices in it. I didn’t particularly like them, but dad LOVED them. I used to make them for him for his lunches.

I do believe that we have angels guiding us during our life. I’ve always believed that my sister Sherry was my angel and I believe that my dad is J.J. angel. I think that children are more open to hearing what our angels tell us – and I think my dad told J.J. about that sandwich, not just because he loved them and thought that J.J. would too – but because he wanted ME to know that he was still with us and would be there as J.J. guardian angel throughout his life.

I have two fabulous men in my life named John; my father and my son. I’m one lucky lady!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Amelia Earhart

photo from empire pictures
I saw the movie "Amelia" this week. What a fascinating lady she was. I learned things about her from the movie that I had not known before. And, although I certainly knew her fate going into the film, I found myself hoping for a happy ending, complete with a rescue or safe landing on Howland Island.
photo from wikipedia
This was quite a good film and I think that Hilary Swank did an impeccable job in her portrayal of this famous aviatrix. I am not sure why the critics have not given the movie good reviews. I really liked it and recommend it as a movie to see.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veteran's Day

Today is set aside to honor our nation's Veteran's. We are so lucky that so many have answered the need and served our country during war - and in times of peace.

Our fathers both served in World War II. Cindy's dad served in the Navy and Richard's in the Army. Cindy's grandfathers were both in World War I in the Army. We love and remember all of them today.

Thank you to all who have sacrificed to serve our nation. We appreciate and respect what you have done.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Friends - Sentimental Sunday No. 33

After living in Southern California for the first 36 years of my life, it was scary to move to a new state. What little family I have resides in So Cal – and certainly all of my friends lived there too. So, picking up stakes and moving 1000 miles away was an adventure; one that I was excited about – but one that also contained a certain number of apprehensions.

We had family living in Salem – so at least I knew a few people. And, fairly early on we met our neighbors – who have become more than friends, they’re family. But without a doubt – the best thing I ever did was join MOM’S Club. A majority of my friends today were met there. We formed lasting bonds with our babies, and now we’re all watching our “babies” turning into young men and women.
My first friend through MOM’s Club is still one of my BFF’s - and a fellow Ya Ya Sister – Adrienne. Our boys are only five weeks apart in age, and she too is married to an older man. We had an instant connection, and we’ve been friends since we met. We’re both Virgo’s and totally “get each other”. She is beautiful, funny, and smart. We always have the MOST amazing time together. She taught me to quilt and any time we’re together it’s always an adventure. We’ve travelled together, been to concerts and the theater and truly appreciate each other and all of the gifts that each of us have.

Adrienne is an incredible woman, and a true and honest friend. I am a very blessed lady… I can not only count my five amazing Ya Ya sisters among my closest and dearest friends – but I still have at least another handful of caring and special women in my life. You all know who you are! They say if you can count one handful of really true friends – you are lucky. I have at least two handfuls and among them is my partner in crime, my fellow Virgo, the Ethel to my Lucy – (or is it the other way around? I'm not sure which of us is which) my “sistah”, Adrienne.

I love ya, Girlfriend!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Turkey Time...

photo from

Ah November! One of my favorite months. Thanksgiving is just a few weeks away - and you know what THAT means!! It means "The Best Meal of the Year!"

I really LOVE Thanksgiving. Yes, the holiday is about giving thanks - and I do have much to be thankful for. But, seriously... it's ALL about the meal !

We usually spend Thanksgiving with family, and I bring several of the side dishes for the meal. But, because I love the holiday (translation - the food) SO much - I always, and I do mean always, make a separate Thanksgiving meal for our little family. I usually do it the weekend after "Turkey Day". We have the wonderful meal on Saturday and then plenty of left overs. And, I go "all out". It is a full turkey dinner with all of the trimmings.

We have our favorites - and they are the things that I always make and grew up eating on this fabulous food holiday. There is my mother's (and before that my grandmothers) southern stuffing, light and fluffy mashed potatoes, homemade cranberry relish, a delicious blend of yams, squash and carrots that have been blended and whipped with butter, brown sugar and maple syrup (my mouth is watering just thinking about it) and homemade fresh and creamy corn. Sometimes there are pea's and sometimes other sides - but those are my mainstays. It wouldn't be a Thanksgiving dinner without them.

I would venture to guess that most people have one or two things that it wouldn't be Thanksgiving dinner without. What are your favorites?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Kitchen Disasters - Sentimental Sunday No. 32

photo from

I think people would say that I am a pretty good cook. My Mom was a really good cook too. She taught me a lot of what I know… and the rest I’ve learned from watching the Food Network! However, regardless of how well you can prepare a meal – there is still the occasional disaster.

I have already blogged about a particular birthday cake that my Mother made for me.
Click here to read about it. I also remember, well I’ve been told, about my Mother being upset that I spilled spaghetti on the carpet after she had hand scrubbed the entire carpet on her hands and knees. She was so angry that she picked up the entire plate of spaghetti, threw it in the kitchen, it landed on the cabinets and we all watched as it slid down the face of the cabinets and onto the kitchen floor. OK, that might not be considered a kitchen disaster. That could be classified as an exhausted and frustrated Mom. Also, I don’t think we EVER had a family dinner where the rolls weren’t burnt – or pretty close to it. That is a tradition that I continue to this day – along with my sister in law! Every Thanksgiving and Christmas we swear this is the year we won’t have almost burnt rolls. Maybe this year!

I remember my first experience with gravy. My Mom had taught me her “secrets” and I had the whole family at my apartment for a special dinner. I was making the gravy and I looked at my Mom with tears in my eyes. It was WAY too thick… kind of like glue. My Mom sighed, looked at me and said, “Cindy Lynn. Gravy is gravy and wallpaper paste is wallpaper paste, and never the two shall meet.” She grabbed some beef broth and worked her magic. The meal was saved.

I’ve discovered that no matter how wonderful a chef I may be – baking is NOT my thing. I mean I can bake a cake, and cookies and brownies… but pie?? THAT is a different subject entirely. I’ve tried so many times to make crust. I follow my Mom’s recipe, I’ve followed Martha Stewart’s recipe, and I’ve decided that Marie Calendar’s is the only recipe that works for me! (That would be the frozen pie shells I can purchase at the grocery store.) And even though I do make a passable filing – pecan, pumpkin, lemon meringue, I still think I am missing the “pie gene”, which is why we REALLY don’t have pie very often.

But, my favorite story has to be the night I was making a meal for my friend that needed meals for her family. So, a group of us got together and picked a different night to make and bring the dinner to her. I made the MOST delicious Indian Chicken dish. It’s one that I make often, but this time was honestly the BEST I had ever made it. It was perfect. Well, I was in a hurry and I didn’t want her to have to worry about returning bowls and Tupperware, so I got the brilliant idea that I would use my food sealer (or as I call it – the “seal a meal”). I didn’t have any of the premade bags – but I have a long roll of the material that you can make your own bag out of. So, I cut off a long enough piece of the material, sealed the bottom of it, placed the food in the bag, picked it up and sealed the top. Job done, right? Well, as I picked up the bag the bottom of the bag fell out and all the food ran down the front of my kitchen cabinets, on the floor and onto my area rug. Needless to say I was a little less than enthusiastic.

Yes, kitchen disasters – they come in big and little sizes. I always feel it’s one of God’s ways of reminding us that we’re not really in charge – and that He has a really good sense of humor…. Even if WE sometimes don’t.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

"This Is It"

I saw the Michael Jackson movie, "This Is It" today. I went to the movie expecting to enjoy it. I expected that his talent would shine through the film. I expected to be sad that he is no longer with us. What I didn't expect was that I would be so blown away by the film. The producers did a beautiful job of capturing Michael's brilliance and genius.

I was never really a fan of Michael Jackson "the man". I believe he was eccentric and odd. I've never really been sure if he was guilty of what he was accused of. I don't think he was - but only a very few people and God really know that for sure. However, I was always a fan of his talent. From the time he was a little boy he continued to amaze, perform and entertain. We all knew he was talented. What I don't think I really respected until today was what a perfectionist he was; a showman and so knowledgeable about his craft. He was truly unique.

I think the concerts that were set to be performed last summer would have been incredible. The concept for the concerts, the amount of work put into the production pieces, were original and brilliant. Michael surrounded himself with equally talented people. The performers, the choreographers, the musicians and the producers all shared a vision and the unique honor of working with M.J. What a shame that their vision never came to fruition. What a shame that he left us so soon. And how sad for his family and his children. For us Michael was a performer - but he was their Dad and now all they have left is memories.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Almost Halloween

I can't believe that Halloween is almost here. Didn't we just celebrate the New Year? Where has 2009 gone? Goodness.

Thinking back to all of my many Halloween's I have had a lot of fun costumes. But, two of them stand out in my mind... When I was eight years old I was the Statue of Liberty. My dad made an AWESOME crown and torch for me. It was so cool.Also, Richard and I went to a Halloween party one time as Mouseketeer's. He was "Cubby" and I was "Annette". That was a really fun party!

So, the question of the day is.... what was your favorite costume EVER? It can be from when you were a child or an adult.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Our Anniversary - Sentimental Sunday No. 31

Our lives changed twenty-five years ago today. Thanks to a forgery that Richard was investigating at Cindy’s bank – our paths crossed. It was destiny, kismet, meant to be… whatever you want to call it – we were meant to be together and the “powers that be” made it so.

Twenty-two years ago today we were married in front of family and friends in a wonderful wedding on the Queen Mary in Long Beach, CA. What a beautiful ship. We were married in the chapel and held our reception in one of the ballrooms. Our wedding day was perfect! We couldn’t have asked for a better day. A fabulous memory and one that is ideal for Sentimental Sunday – in fact it WAS a Sunday that we were married.

I wanted to be married on the anniversary of the day we met, but it was going to be a Sunday – and who gets married on Sunday? So, I was discussing it with my friend Mary, and I said I guess we would have the wedding on Saturday the 24th. Mary is Greek, and believes in omens and the supernatural. She said that her Greek omen book said it was very bad luck to be married on a Saturday. I said, “But, Mary… everyone gets married on Saturday.” She replied, “And LOOK how many divorces there are!” Well, I don’t know if it’s because we got married on a day other than Saturday – but here we are all these years later – still together; for better or worse – we’re still here!

We were married by the ship’s Captain. Cindy messed up her vows; couldn’t get the word “symbol” out when giving and accepting the wedding rings - kept coming out “signal”. Richard still doesn’t let her forget that! (You see – Cindy is SO perfect and makes SO few mistakes, he has to “hang his hat” on one that she made 22 years ago! HA!)

We are still in love, and we are glad for that forgery that occurred in Hollywood California all those years ago. It brought us together and changed our lives forever. Our fairy tale was meant to be… and they lived happily ever after.
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