Yesterday we took a short drive to see just how many trees actually toppled and blocked roads around us during #TheNightTheLightsWentOutInOregon 3 weeks ago, to find a new place to hike and explore as well as just plain enjoy the almost spring like weather.  We also ran across some local history!

One thing is for sure, road crews are guaranteed jobs for the foreseeable future!  On ALL the roads, but especially the smaller roads where trees fell they have come along and used a chainsaw to cut out the part across the road for now leaving the tops and bottoms along the shoulders for later.

We ran across a sign for the Mildred Kanipe Memorial Park and followed it to a fun area with equestrian camping, old historical buildings and an animal preserve.  The weather was beautiful for several hours and we enjoyed a nice walk, but I fell in love with the peacocks especially!

From the signs around the park and what little information I can find, Mildred Kanipe was a very colorful, strong willed woman and extremely set in her ways, an unforgettable character all the way around.  She always carried a pistol and a rifle when n the ranch.  She NEVER married and ran the 1100 acre ranch ALL by herself except for the occasional hand she would hire.

Mildred’s Gift

She passed away in 1983 leaving her entire beloved ranch, that her family had owned for over a hundred years and she had added to over the years, to the public as a county park.  Mildred’s gift included almost 1,100 acres of land consisting of pastures, creeks, rolling hills, orchards and forests. Historical structures include a turn-of-the-century schoolhouse that they are seeking grants for to restore, a farmhouse, and outbuildings. Her wish was for the buildings to be preserved, a ranch museum developed, equestrian trails and camping to be available and the land was to remain an animal refuge and the land and plants preserved.

Mildred left VERY specific instructions for her burial on the property also.

I fell in love with the natural beauty of the area and the peacocks in particular! They are so beautiful and graceful too.  This older woman comes to feed them regularly and when she pulled in the birds flocked over to her like she was a long lost friend 😀

We’re going to go back with a picnic when the weather warms up a bit.  I’ll remember to take my regular camera, but here are a few from my cell phone for now.


There was quite a bit of damage within the park from old trees that fell and literally splintered picnic tables, but I was impressed with these metal braces someone made many years ago for this old tree to preserve it.  The peacocks seem to really like this tree and while I wasn’t able to get a picture, they were all up in the tree when we first arrived.

I truly felt like I could hear these trees making a SERIOUS noise as they landed and splintered these tables.  Not that I was there when it happened, but in my head they were really loud!

I saw this glove and my mind went to Tom Hanks LOL He has an InstaGram account where he posts single lost items – a truly virtual LOST & FOUND 😀

2019 SNOWMAGEDDON update

So while the power is on and the internet is cooperating I’m going to do a quick update.  Hubby had been saying how disappointed he was that snow had been on the forecast all month, but never really materialized.  Well, I’m here to tell you BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR!

We’re accustomed to snow, lots of it even from our time in the U.P., but unfortunately this little town wasn’t!  They are used to a couple inches that melts away fairly quickly.  It would have been okay and even a little bit funny if it hadn’t happened ALL at once and taken down thousands of trees and the power too!  I was never this cold even during the long winters of the Upper Peninsula… Here we are a week later and still have several inches covering everything.

Hubby tried to keep the walkway cleaned off, but every time he’d finish it would start snowing again.  At one point during the 3 day outage it was warmer in the refrigerator than the house and it continued to snow even more with tons of road closures all hampering the repair crews and their efforts to restore power.  Even the cell towers took a beating leaving us with compromised communication.  My neighbor and I resorted to throwing snowballs at each other’s window to get each other’s attention. 

During daylight hours we would use the cars to charge up phones and electronics which would also help melt the snow off the cars while we sat there getting a little bit warm and charging up. I braved it and walked over to talk with my neighbor.  Neighbors checked on each other and banded together as necessary.  Some were kinda stupid running propane heaters in houses that had gas pilots, letting their kids go out and get cold and wet with no way to warm them back up or take their cars where they couldn’t get out without making a HUGE slushy, icy mess.

I have to tell you 2019 Snowmageddon will not be forgotten ANY time soon.  Remote rural areas will NOT even be restored for weeks to come. 

When we finally left the house we were so surprised by just how many trees and I mean BIG trees had fallen onto and over roadways, onto power lines, houses, cars…  Clean up will take some time!  The sun made an appearance on Friday for a few hours and it felt heavenly, but other than that it has usually only appeared at the end of the afternoon in time to start setting.


GOOD MORNING sweet ladies.  I CANNOT believe we are in JULY already!!!  We had a warm and uneventful weekend here where we watched some NASCAR races between the gym, pool and biking we’ve been doing for my recuperation.  I did make a few new recipes that were yummy and have gotten quite a bit of reading done also.

Be sure to link up with
Sandra at Diary of a Stay at Home Mom for Happy homemaker Monday

and with Laura at I’m an Organizing Junkie for Menu Plan Monday.

OUTSIDE MY WINDOW & THE WEATHER OUTSIDE & WHAT I’M WEARING – hot, hot and more hot, but the humidity is only about 15% and I grew up in this kind of dry heat so it’s much more tolerable than Texas was with its HIGH humidity 😀 Highs this week are supposed to be around 110° and the lows around 80° and continued LOW humidity.

ON THE BREAKFAST PLATE – a banana, green tea and a protein bar

CRAFTS / PROJECTS – nothing at the moment

ON MY MIND / THINGS THAT ARE MAKING ME HAPPY – Life in general makes me happy these days.  I recently read somewhere that the happiest places in the world are those where enlightened leaders shifted their focus from economic development to promoting quality of life. THIS!! THIS is the place we are looking for to live!  Anybody know where it is?


HEALTH UPDATE – We are finally following a “recovery” routine.  An hour at the gym in the mornings using the machines specific to building up the muscle I’ve lost and then 2 miles on the stationery bike plus 2 more on the treadmill.  Then it’s home for the pool time where I am using a “volleyball” as a flotation device that I sit on and my arms to tread water back forth for several laps using my arms especially and water aerobic weights before I finish with several regular swimming laps and then just some plain old sun time 😀 After dinner when the sun sets and the temps have dropped below 100 we do several miles on the “regular” bike before showering and calling it a night.

I do seem to be getting more calories and eating better as well as building back the muscle, but am still losing weight so am keeping a close eye on the “BIG” picture.

The goal is to keep up this very specific daily routine between now and our nephew’s wedding in late September in hopes that I can look decent in a dress! as well as get my stamina and strength back so I can lead a good daily routine in life.

FAVORITE PHOTO FROM THE CAMERA – I’m still editing through pictures from the trip west as well as my SIL’s house and ran across these. The first was one of my favorites from Cadillac Ranch. I love the face on the wheel.

My late BIL loved crows and had this fountain installed at their house.  The fountain never worked right and they converted it to a cactus garden, but I’ve always loved it and her view beyond it 😀 And her wild flowers that pop up here and there are so gorgeous



  • LAUNDRY… just a couple loads, after all how much can you dirty living in shorts and swim suits? 😀
  • LIVING AREAS… pretty clean since we are in a smaller space for the summer and I keep the clutter picked up and the dishes done regularly
  • YARD… trying to keep the flowers extra watered and added some extra sun shades
  • BLOG… some recipe updating, future post planning for when I get back into a “normal” routine and even some holiday post planning


I’M READING Debra Clopton’s Windswept Bay series and am almost finished – Book #10 With this Forever

WHAT IS ON THE DVR OR LIST TO WATCH – last week was so blasted hot that we did some netflix and redbox movies so we could stay in during the heat of the day.

  • 🙂 12 STRONG – enjoyed it a lot
  • 🙂 HURRICANE HEIST – thought it might be bad as it didn’t have too many well known people in it, but we really enjoyed it
  • 🙂 TOMB RAIDER – really enjoyed it
  • 🙁 THE ESCAPE OF PRISONER 614 – we didn’t even finish this as it was really trite
  • 🙂 HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA – really cute
  • 🙂 HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 2 – just a cute as the original
  • ??? RED SPARROW – still not sure what I think about this one
  • ??? ANNIHILATION – VERY weird
  • 😀 A WRINKLE IN TIME – good, but so un-Disney
  • 😀 ESCAPE PLAN 1 – REALLY enjoyed this one was looking forward to 2
  • 🙁 ESCAPE PLAN 2 – the audio is horrible with all the techno music and it jumped all over the world leaving a less than cohesive story – we actually turned it off and did not finish it.
  • 🙂 15:17 TO PARIS – this film hit a little close to home since one of the guys was from the town we were living in when the Thalys train attack (August 21, 2015) happened.  That was the same town that just 2 months later had the UCC college shooting (October 1, 2015) needless to say a very emotional time for our little community.
  • 😀 THE WORLDS FASTEST INDIAN – what a neat movie! I can’t imagine anyone but Anthony Hopkins playing this role!











































C.O.R.N. clean out refrigerator night



BRUNCH at a Friend’s house






Still no Alien Cows to be found

We took one last trip to see if we could find the alien cow or at least one of his kin, but still no luck. We did however have a wonderful day and saw quite a few friendly animals.  We found some recent turtle egg activity and lazy alligators.  The moss on the lake was so mossy that it was easy for them to hide.


One of our favorite places here to visit wildlife is Brazos Bend State Park. We tried to go back in November, but were turned away as they were still closed due to damage from August 26th’s Hurricane Harvey that had the park under 6 feet of water and did major damage to the park. To date they are still not sure how many alligators just floated away during the storm.

Tuesday was sunny, but on the cool side so the alligators were only visible when sunbathing along the lake edges, but the birds were everywhere.  Unfortunately, we only got about half the park in as I just plain ran out of energy.  We’ll go back in a few weeks.

After several visits I was curious about what alligators actually eat. My research shows that what they eat is dependent on their age and size, but they are primarily carnivores no matter what. Researchers have found fruits and berries in dead alligators also. As they grow they will progressively hunt for larger and larger prey including turtles, raccoons, muskrat, large fish and some birds that live near the water. There have been reports of dogs, panthers and even black bears being eaten by alligators. Once an adult they will feed on any pretty much any animal that comes near the water. Alligators tend to NOT prey on anything larger than they are. I’m sure given the right scenario, they might prey on just about anything if they are hungry enough. Alligators tend to avoid humans, but when provoked they may attack. As you can see from my pictures there are plenty of turtles and birds that live in and around these alligators.

Even the turtles were sunbathing trying to stay warm.

Like I said, the birds were EVERYWHERE including this guy who I thought would turn and fly the other way as we got closer, but did the complete opposite landing right next to us and then taking his time crossing in front of us.

After reading this I have to wonder who and why they created a park where there is NOTHING separating you from the alligators except your common sense to keep your distance. ALL of the alligators I saw today were larger than I am!

Back in 2011 when we were here taking care of my aunt we made our first trip to the park and on the way home we saw an “ALIEN” cow.  We have looked evey time for the cow or an offspring, but still NO luck.


These are 2 of my favorite country churches from Michigan.  I took these pictures in 2011 at Christmas time ON THE SAME DAY. That’s how fast weather changes with lake effect snow!

I JUST LOVE OLD CHURCHES! The bottom 3 pictures was a REALLY neat stone church in the middle of town.

But, my favorite country church is from a teeny tiny little town called Mansfield. It was once a growing little town until there was a mine disaster.  Now all that exists is the monument to the disaster, the church and a few random homes.


Life has been so topsy turvy lately and we both just needed a break.  We decided to take a day and visit a favorite park of ours, Brazos Bend State Park.

There is a don’t touch or pester the alligators rule and as long as everyone behaves there are no issues seeing the alligators via their natural habitat.  They are not caged or fenced and people just know to leave them alone and enjoy the park.  There are also several wonderful birds, turtles and old mossy trees to enjoy making this a truly unique experience.  Boots and Alien Cows is a post from a few years back if you are interested.

On our way to the park I kept a look out for Alien Cow. It had been several years since we’d seen him, but we ALWAYS look just for fun.

But, the universe had another idea on how we were going to spend our day. The park closure changed our day big time. Alligators wander off from the park during the best of times, but the flood waters were 4 1/2 feet in the park and the estimate is that 300-350 alligators just floated out of the park in floodwaters along with several venomous snakes. There was a pretty informative article here if you’re interested. Here are some images from GOOGLE to give you an idea of what a trip to Brazos Bend is like.

Personally I fear the cotton mouth snakes more than the alligators.  The park itself has been flooded during the last 3 BIG floods – Memorial Day 2015, April 2016 and Hurricane Harvey 2017 which was the worst and forced the park closure so pathways, ponds and signs could be re-created.  This time they lost several buildings too.  The wonderfully informative Ranger at the front gate told us they were slated to re-open November 7th so we will try again after that time. I’m anxious to see how it’s changed.

So we decided to head for the coast, Freeport in particular just because we had never been there, but once again the universe had another idea as a HUGE fire detoured us. Fortunately it was a very nice day and we went with the flow to Surfside Beach.

The beach was absolutely perfect and many people were out enjoying it just like us, including the pelicans and surf birds.

This is an area that builds its house on HUGE pillars because of strong storm surges during storms and hurricanes.  While most places appear to have gone unscathed here, there were several still in need of repair and many already undergoing a rebuilding.

And no road trip for us would be complete without major roadwork in our path.




My brother got married a year ago and it was a destination wedding to a very special place that means a lot to him and my new SIL, Amy. We had family coming in from ALL over the country for both of them and being a Virgo, list maker and compulsive planner I started asking questions early on.  Since we were the closest to the location I felt responsible for helping in ANY way I could – from decorations, the cake, picking people up from the airport, etc…

My first stop was the Heceta Head Lighthouse Bed & Breakfast webpage.  One of the first things that struck me was that they need a better webmaster, but then it was pointed out to me that because they are a lighthouse on the coast, they get the business either way, but I still believe there should be better information and facility pictures for when your are spending an arm and a leg for the weekend. So, one of my goals of this post is to add some decent pictures here as well as Pinterest for those who feel they need more information before spending $315 + tax a night just for a room.

This was a “later in life” (they are both in their 40’s) first wedding for each of them and they were keeping it small so I really wanted it to be perfect for them.  Just trying to pick out a date turned into a HUGE fiasco.  The web page shows dates blacked out so they were trying to work around that to pick dates that would coincide with their available days off from work and coordinating family flights etc…  LONG STORY SHORT the blacked out dates ARE available for weddings and large parties, but have to be booked through the general manager, but since the general manager was SUPER SLOW to return ALL calls and emails, it took FOREVER to start planning this wedding.  The webpage has a link to wedding packages, but they are not clear or thorough.  You have to contact owner to even know what the wedding packages are.

The webpage also does NOT have decent pictures of the facilities. If you have never been there you are left to fill in the blanks with your imagination. And with the pricey dollar amount on the weekend people kinda want to see what they are getting for the money. While we were there for their wedding people were stopping by trying to locate the owner/manager about their own weddings since their calls were not being answered.

The following quote is directly from their webpage: “Having just a few guests at your wedding, let us take care of your wedding plans! You set the date, pick a package and relax.” Which as I can tell you IS NOT the case.

I grew up in an era of customer service and the customer is always right.   While that may not always really be the case I still believe business should be conducted a certain way – COURTEOUSLY.  Even if you are busy and have more business than you need you SHOULD ALWAYS return calls and emails.  The practice is akin to not burning bridges to me.  The customer you turn away today by not answering will not be there tomorrow nor will anyone they tell about their poor experience. Unfortunately, EVERYTHING became last minute in the 5-7 days before the wedding because of this.

To top off the management issues they were having EXTREME water problems.  When we arrived we found this note on the refrigerator. No phone calls before to tell us to bring bottled water, no one there to pave the way with explanations, just this note.

On our first night there we found we had NO water as we went to bed.  This meant NO flushing toilets, taking showers or brushing teeth unless you had a bottle of water laying around. They began trucking water in around 130AM right past our window! So that also meant very little sleep also. No one told us in advance that water was being trucked in to fill the tank periodically. No one told us that the tank had MAJOR leaks in it also and the water would continue to seep out on top of it. Apparently their water source had been cut off by a coast road crew repairing the road.  

I have to tell you though none of that mattered to me when the water abruptly stopped as I was in the shower with a head full of lather the next morning.  NOPE, I was EXTREMELY pissed off.

Amy’s beautiful bouquet.
 Amy and her father walking down the aisle.

 Chris and Amy taking their vows.

 YAY! They did it!

 Casual and western!

Chris and Amy with her family (Allison, Tom, Dink, Amy, Chris, Aiden, Jen and Branen). LOL notice the boys shed their shoes as soon as they could.

Chris and Amy with his family (stepdad Glenn, mom, Chris, Amy, me and hubby)

Jen and Branen having a cute moment.
Branen waiting for dinner.
Aiden waiting for dinner.

Chris and Amy weren’t decided on a cake type so I offered to have my girlfriend, Heather (a gourmet cupcake baker) provide an assortment of their choice and they were a HUGE hit.  Everyone loved being able to try all the different flavors. They even did the ceremonious cutting of the “cupcake”.

Chris and Amy chose a wonderful sit down dinner from a local caterer that tasted fantastic! They also chose the candles and lanterns that I was able to pick up locally and I made the napkin rings.
 Chris & Amy with her parents, Tom & Dink.

 The setting was as peaceful and perfect and idyllic as was possible.

 Uninvited guests form a peanut gallery.
This was the view from our room! 
 Tom enjoying the appetizer spread before dinner.

ALL in ALL we had a great time DESPITE the poor management and water problems which says more about our abilities to roll with the punches than the Inn’s ability to problem solve.  To this date the owner/manager has YET to call me back despite my many calls to him and I’m sure since he has my money he never will. 





Every year hubs and I would schedule small trips for our birthday months since they are 6 months apart.  For the last decade though something always came up when it came time for the trip near my birthday.

Finally, this year, we made it!  We were leaving the area for the last time and decided it was time to visit a southern California ICON, the Queen Mary during it’s 80th anniversary. It was a fantastic trip!  LOL that was almost 6 months ago and I’m just now getting this posted.

  • 1929-1935 Queen Mary became a groundbreaking event.  Cunard was undeterred by the Great Depression and was designing a pair of technologically advanced new ships to replace their 3 current ships; Mauretania, Aquitania and Berengaria.
  • The Queen Mary (named after wife of King George V) was originally launched on September 26, 1934.
  • 1936-1939 It was during the Queen Mary’s glamour years that they raised the bar for luxury travel and that forward thinking technology made the ship popular with British Royalty, Hollywood celebrities and dignitaries to become the grandest ocean liner ever.  Also known as the most haunted ship on earth.
  • 1939-1946 As England and France declared war on Germany, the Queen Mary began her war years.  Passenger travel was suspended, the ship was retrofitted, camouflage painted and dubbed the “Grey Ghost” to serve as a troopship.  The Queen Mary hauled as many as 15,000 men and with her record-breaking speed and size became a pivotal role in guiding our allies to a victory.
  • The Queen Mary became a bi-national family transport in 1946-47.
  • 1947-1960’s It took 10 months to re-retrofit the Queen Mary to it’s original splendor.  After that she returned place as a world class luxury liner.  During the 1960’s air travel was becoming more and more popular and ocean liners were becoming obsolete. The modern world was winning and the Queen Mary was quickly becoming outdated.
  • 1967 The Queen Mary was officially retired but almost didn’t make it to the hotel she is today.  When the decision to sell her came about, most of the bidders were from scrap metal outfits.  Fortunately Long Beach was looking for an attraction to draw in tourism and The Queen Mary was just the ticket. The Queen Mary was moved to sunny Long Beach California to become a living historical landmark, hotel and popular attraction education a new generation to the by gone ways of a grand era.
 The galleys were in perpetual motion and still had trouble keeping up with just basic meals in order to keep the troops fed.
 Troop accommodations were EXTREMELY basic by comparison to any class of of the luxury liner’s normal passengers.
 They did add bedspreads for the time spent toting war brides and families – nice touch. War brides often made the trip both directions as they were refused/returned once they arrived here.

For the 75th anniversary, a contest was held and thousands of letters were submitted with their experiences while aboard the Queen Mary.  Here are just a few that I found interesting.

Next door to the Queen Mary is the dome that used to house Howard Hughes’ Spruce Goose.  In 1993 the Spruce Goose was shipped by barge up the west coast to Oregon where it now resides at the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum in McMinnville, Oregon. The dome was purchased by Warner Bros. Studio and used as a sound stage for many years for Batman movies in particular because of the cave like qualities.  I understand the dome was purchased by Carnival Cruises and is now using it as a Customs and luggage facility.
We had a harbor view room which was especially spectacular at night.

Here are a few of the cabin photos to show you just how little has changed in all these years though the large screen TV in the sitting room looks really out of place. Originally the Queen Mary was truly a luxury liner.  One of the things I found the most interesting was that if you didn’t like the color scheme of your room they would change it within 24 hours!  Originally there was no carpeting, sprinkler system or fire detectors.

 1st Class Bedroom and sitting room.

Notice the bakelite knob and keyhole. The Queen Mary was one of the first to use this “plastic” throughout their ship as it was warmer to the touch than metal.  Even the light switches were bakelite.  Below are the water choices on the tub.

Each bathroom has four faucets, two for salt water and two for fresh as well red (male) button and green (female) buttons to call stewards to wash your back or attend you as necessary. By the way the tubs are NOT flat, but rounded to help prevent falls while at sea – something I had a bit of an issue with.

There was no air conditioning as we know if today originally. This fan and vent as well as the functioning portholes (if you were luck enough to have one) served as the only was to get cool.

We took several of the tours (I highly recommend the Behind the Scenes Tour) and we learned sooooooooooooo many things.

Above is the first class pool and then the gate between class levels. During “tea time” third class passengers were allowed to use the 1st class pool for 1 hour.  After that time, the pool was drained, scrubbed and refilled with “fresh” salt water ready again for 1st class passengers. The different classes were afforded different levels of comfort, food and entertainment.  Liberace once gave a concert for the 3rd class passengers that really ticked off the 1st class passengers as they were refused entrance.
The emergency Signals were posted throughout the ship and this is what the lifeboats looked like.  By my count though I think it was a bit like the Titanic in that there would have been more people than lifeboat seats.

Much, if not most of the ship still has the original art work and superior craftsmanship, most of it well ahead of its time and very well preserved despite the time the ship spent as a troop ship.

These pictures above do not do any justice to the murals and artwork or the beauty of the captains doors below the mural. The captain liked to make a “Grand” entrance to the Grand Salon.  All the artwork was covered during the “grey ghost” years.  The fireplaces were electric to avoid fires though ironically they allowed smoking.

This beautiful navigational piece is a functional work of art with crystal ships on a pulley sytem.  It is hard to see, but there are two ships that follow those tracks through the center that would allow the passengers to know not only where they were at any given time, but also where the Queen Mary’s sister ship was in their route.  A little trivia fact: the ship would get 13 feet to a gallon. Also the original linoleum has been replaced everywhere except inside 1 phone booth where the small little holes left from women’s stiletto’s can be seen.

This shot reminds me of the shining for some reason!  It appears to be sloped AND IT IS!  When the ship was built they took into account the pitch, roll and sway and built the ship to absorb as much of the sea movement as possible. The Queen Mary is considered the most haunted ship in the world ever.  I had one of those WTH? moments when there was an ethereal flash in the middle of the night in the dark of our room.  Long story short, it turned out to be my cell phone finishing its charge. LMBO still.

While we were there the Queen Mary was hosting a fabulous Bob Hope exhibit. It is impossible to show all the wonderful displays that were donated for this exhibit. Suffice it to say that Mr. Hope was a one of a kind man that was cherished by the world as an entertainer and great humanitarian.

One of my most favorite places on the entire ship was the Observation Deck Bar.  The bright red enamel art deco look was beautiful with the original wood work and a very inviting area to sit and watch the water and birds.  Plus the drinks and food was excellent.

Across the way is the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific.  We love the beach and aquariums so this was a perfect combo trip for us.  Here are a few of the favorite aquarium pictures.

The Aquarium was a fantastic way to spend a day and we topped it off with a birthday meal at Bubba Gumps.  I just adore their Shrimp Shack Mac & Cheese and it was my birthday after all!  I did find a copy cat recipe that sound worth trying.

The on board restaurants have fantastic menus, but also had fantastic prices to go along with the menus.  So we spent a good deal of time checking out and enjoying the surrounding restaurants at Shoreline Village like:

I have at least 2 dozen more pictures I planned on adding to this post, but as you can see I’m already running quite long and really enjoyed the trip A LOT!  The majority of the ship has been set up as a floating museum and hotel.  They have done a fantastic job at keeping the integrity of the ship while allowing you to tour the engine room, bridge, radio room, captain’s quarters and so much more and keeping the history interesting too.  If you are in the are it is well worth planning as part of your trip.  The Queen Mary has a Halloween Dark Harbor event, a winter ice festival, Sunday Brunch and a 4th of July party that all look fun.  They are also near the Long Beach Grand Prix and rotating historical exhibits like Bob Hope or Princess Diana.




I’m a BIG believer in buying local.  I also love when we move to a new area and there are so many new things to try.  My newest favorite is FACE ROCK CREAMERY cheese based out of Bandon, Oregon a quaint little seaside town that we visited not to long ago when our son and DIL were visiting.  I’ll add a few of those pictures after the recipe.  I tried a sample of FACE ROCK CREAMERY Jack cheese at Costco the other day and fell in love with their smooth and creamy cheese.  On a whim I bought their Vampire Slayer Garlic Cheddar and found a new favorite way to make an old comfort food on a cold and cloudy night.

Tonight because it is cold, foggy and miserable, I served it with left over Wagon Wheel Soup for a rib sticking good meal.

1 1/2 cups dried macaroni (elbows or shells)
3/4 cup heavy cream**
2 tablespoons butter
sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
3/4 pound or 2 cups shredded FACE ROCK VAMPIRE SLAYER garlic cheddar cheese

  • Preheat oven to 350˚.
  • Prepare macaroni according to package directions. Drain well.
  • Using the same pan, melt butter and add cream until smooth.
  • Add cheese a few pieces at a time, stirring until well blended.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • Fold in pasta.
  • Pour into casserole dish.
  • Sprinkle with crispy onions or Garlic Croutons if desired.
  • Bake 20 minutes or until heated through and golden on top.

**I found I was out of heavy cream, but wait, there is a substitute using what you have on hand.
1/3 cup butter
3/4 cup 2% milk
1 tablespoon Wondra flour (this can be omitted if using whole milk)

  • In a small saucepan, melt butter.
  • Whisk in Wondra until golden.
  • Add milk gradually, whisking until well blended and starts to thicken slightly.



One thing that many of you don’t know about me is that I love to cook (LOL) AND to preserve. To me there is nothing that says I love you more than preparing those special meals and treats for my family. Canning is easy, but it is time consuming and you do have to follow sterile rules to make it safe. You can be as plain or as inventive as you want.

Hubby pointed out this would be a good time to share my award pictures that I began to scrapbook about before the move and have yet to finish. I always thought it a little ironic that I was ‘preserving’ my preserving ribbons. Here are a few pictures.

How I got started on entering the county fair is actually a cute story. I was still working for a major phone company and I make a Spiced Pear jam that really is awesome. We had a cafeteria in the building I worked in and the engineers would stop by my desk to buy a jar of jam before their coffee break so they could put it on their pancakes and waffles. I loved making it and only charged them enough to actually cover my expenses so I could make more.My boss kept trying to get me to enter it into competition, but I was reluctant as I really didn’t think I had what it took to compete against women who had been doing it all their lives (1 woman had an entire 4×8 foot wall with just her entries and had been winning 1st and 2nd place awards for over 20 years) because I was a self-taught newbie and ‘shy’. Unbeknownst to me, one of the guys entered me in the upcoming county fair. He knew I went every year to drool over the jams and jellies and crafty items in the home building. You have to picture my jaw actually dropping to the floor on this particular year when I see my name, my jam and an actual 3rd place ribbon attached to it! I was literally speechless especially since I hadn’t entered the fair. Long story short I will always be eternally grateful to him for giving me the courage and confidence to enter each and every year after that for 10 years until I moved away. I have also been published in several of their cookbooks for the years I won first place. I hope to start again soon.This year I want to try my hand at some of the local indigenous fruits (cranberries, blackberries, blueberries and apples to start).