Today would have been my dad’s 80th birthday I can’t believe he’s been gone 25 years. I still sometimes pick up the phone to call him and talk before I realize…

ANYWAY I digress. My cousin also passed away back in 1998 and her sister and I bake a cake for her every year on her birthday – most times we even make significantly different flavors, but I always make the same one on daddy’s birthday, Pineapple Upside Down Cake, his favorite.

This year I decided to try a new recipe from Damaris Phillips – I just LOVE her.  She is so much fun, and REAL, plus she likes to experiment so I know she’d be okay with the changes I made to her recipe.

Total:1 hr 15 min          Active:25 min          Yield: 8 to 12 servings

2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon molasses
20-ounce can sliced pineapple, drained and juice reserved
20-ounce can crushed pineapple, drained and juice reserved
1/3 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup finely chopped dried apricots
1/2 cup pineapple rum

  • Soak raisins and apricots in the rum.
  • In a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and add the brown sugar.
  • Cook, stirring constantly, until the sugar melts, about 2 minutes.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Drain apricots and raisins well.**
  • Arrange the pineapple slices in the skillet.
  • Fill in the spaces with the chopped apricots and golden raisins.
  • Follow by a thin layer of crushed pineapple. Set aside.

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
1/3 QUALITY flaked coconut
1/2 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons PURE vanilla extract
1/4 cup reserved pineapple juice (from the cans)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup unrefined coconut oil
1 LARGE egg

  • Preheat the oven to 350°.

Combine the cake ingredients in this fashion:

  • In one bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, coconut and salt.
  • In a second bowl, combine the milk, vanilla extract and 1/4 cup of the reserved pineapple juice.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the granulated sugar and coconut oil on medium speed until thick and creamy, about 3 minutes.
  • Beat in the egg.
  • Add half of the flour mixture and mix on low until just combined.
  • Add the milk mixture and stir until just combined.
  • Add the rest of the flour and mix until combined, about 1 minute.
  • Pour the batter over the pineapple slices in the skillet and spread evenly.
  • Bake until the top is golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted, 25 to 35 minutes.
  • Be sure and check after 20 minutes to make sure the top isn’t getting too brown. If it is, cover loosely with aluminum foil.
  • Let cool for 15 minutes.
  • Cover with a large serving plate and invert the cake.
  • ENJOY!




As I was scrolling through facebook this morning I ran across this post from 7 years ago. I found it speaking to me as it still describes life so well. I’m also pleased to say that even though there have been MANY (cancer, 5 surgeries and The House from HELL just to name a few of the BIG ones) curve balls thrown at me since then, I have de-cluttered my life really well, for the most part. So I offer you a rerun of that post below.

“Life has this funny way of testing us and sneaking in trials and tribulations that  weren’t in our original game plan never quite fit into “OUR” plans.  That is how it’s been for me the past many months.

As many of you know I have spent the last 7 1/2 months helping out various  family members around the country.  First it was my elderly in-laws  (MIL just turned 90) who begged us to come help them sell everything including the house and move them closer to family (we all know how that went – FIL is still trying to assign sentimental prices to everything in sight) and now it is my aunt & uncle.  My aunt has end stage Parkinsons disease, such a sad disease.  My aunt is extremely artistic and a beautiful painter – or at least she was.  The Dyskinesia from the Parkinsons disease has robbed her of that ability. My uncle recently saw the Oprah episode on hoarders and has decided that my aunt is one.  Trust me, she isn’t.  I once worked for a real estate company as a stager for homes and they would send me in to work on homes that were similar to those on the Oprah show – those were horrible.  So ask yourself, what is my (your) happy medium on the stuff I’ve (you’ve) accumulated?  My theory?  If you have a place for each item and it’s in its place, you’re NOT a pack rat or a hoarder.  I do offer you the definitions below.

This is one of my favorite paintings of hers. She did have a LARGE collection of art supplies and empty tins for storing those items in, but in her defense men do think in simpler terms and this is just a meeting of the minds discussion.  And in his defense they should be getting rid of most of this as she is now in a assisted living home and will not be able to use these items again.  Donating them to the church or a school while they are still usable would be best, but can’t be forced.  I pray that I will have more grace regarding these type of decisions if I reach that point and give up things more willingly, but none of us can ever be in one another’s shoes and truly know what we would do.
  • Also called trade rat. a large, bushy-tailed rodent, Neotoma cinerea, of North America, noted for carrying off small articles to store in its nest.
  • A person who collects, saves, or hoards useless small items or an old prospector or guide.


  • a supply or accumulation that is hidden or carefully guarded for preservation, future use, etc…
  • to accumulate money, food, or the like, in a hidden or carefully guarded place for preservation, future use, etc…
Long story short (I know too late), I have decided it is time to take back MY life.  So, over the next couple of months I will be making some changes.  Some big, some small, but ALL necessary to be myself and get a handle on MY life.”
My aunt passed 4 years ago and in the end they found she did not have Parkinson’s disease, but did have Lewy Body disease.  Unfortunately the only way to tell for sure is through an autopsy. The treatments are similar and in the end would not have changed much.  She was offered the DBS (deep brain stimulating) surgery early on and refused it (surgery scared her to death – especially brain surgery). As her disease progressed she wanted the surgery, but had waited just too long and it was no longer a viable option.








BOSTON BAKED BEANS ala TEXAS and a mini update

You know how we plan things and also plan on them going the way we want them to? LOL That truly doesn’t seem to happen around here. We’re getting most things done, but I’m not accustomed to moving things down the list every single day.

  • MONDAY – Grout entryway, Paint walls in refrigerator alcove, Set tiles for under refrigerator so we can get it moved out of the living room, Texture kitchen wall and get it painted, Paint bathroom walls with gripper paint to get it ready for texturing, Finish sorting through kitchen utensils and organize 1-2 cabinets. I really wanted a simple farmhouse look so we changed out minds on what we will be doing on the kitchen walls (simple rough hewn cedar planking painted) and it will be so much easier, but required a trip to Home Depot and extra paint. It doesn’t look like much here, but I promise it will look great soon.

  • TUESDAY –  Get blood drawn, Walmart and grocery store. Work on kitchen wall. Make BBQ sauce for the baby back ribs and start Baked Beans.
  • WEDNESDAY – Grout entryway,. Set tiles for under refrigerator so we can get it moved out of the living room, Finish the kitchen wall and the migration of “things”.  Finish sorting through kitchen utensils and bakeware.

I LOVE to cook. It’s just that plain an simple.  I also believe one of the best things I can do for my family is to make things from scratch.  I’m a HUGE believer that just because we can, doesn’t mean that we should as in buying a canned product versus making it from scratch.

Our son will be here for one night only and then my uncle will be here the next night.  Both nights are weekend nights so we’re eating in to avoid crowds and noise. When we asked what our son wanted to eat he very definitely said BBQ!  So today I began my homemade BBQ sauce and Old Fashioned Boston baked beans ala Texas.  Both taste better if they have a few days to let the flavors meld together.

1 pound Navy beans, washed and sorted
1/2 pound salt pork, diced small
1 medium Vidalia onion, chopped
1/4 cup JALAPENO ketchup
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/8 cup PURE maple syrup
1/4 cup molasses

  • Dice salt pork and layer on bottom of slow cooker.
  • Chop onion and scatter over salt pork pieces.
  • Wash and sort beans.
  • Place beans in slow cooker on top of salt pork.
  • Cover with 5 cups water.
  • Cook on low overnight for 12 hours.
  • Drain beans, reserving liquid.
  • Return beans to slow cooker.
  • Add vinegar, ketchup, brown sugar, maple syrup and molasses and blend well.
  • Add in 1/2 cup of bean water as desired for consistency.
  • Heat through for an hour or so.


If you type in Aji Queen into google near the top of the list is my cousin, Beth who owned and operated Peppermania. Beth made her life ALL about peppers, from seeds, spices, hot sauces, earrings… right down to her panties LOL and this is why she was known as the pepper queen.  Unfortunately if you read that link you’ll see it’s a tribute to her passing.  I’ve been wanting to make a recipe that was a tribute to her without using one of her spices or peppers that I can no longer get or replicate.  I miss her all the time and that will only intensify soon, but that’s another story. So for now this recipe is for her.

1 1/2 pounds skirt or flank steak cut diagonally into 3-4 inch strips
3 pieces bacon, cooked crisp, save grease
1 large Walla Walla onion, halved and sliced thin
8 small sweet red, yellow and orange peppers roasted and sliced* (save a few for garnish)
4 cups beef broth
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 tablespoons Worcestershire
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons Penzey’s Sweet Paprika
1 1/2 pounds baby potatoes halved
1 tablespoon Avocado oil
Fresh ground salt and black pepper
sour cream

  • Add the avocado oil to bacon grease over medium high heat in a large skillet.
  • Lightly dredge the steak pieces in Wondra.
  • Add steak to hot oil, salt and peppering generously, browning both sides well, about 5 minutes.
  • Transfer meat to cutting board and cut into bite sized pieces. Keep warm.
  • Add onions and pepper slices to oil stirring until onions are soft.
  • Whisk together the beef broth, tomato paste, paprika and vinegar.
  • Add broth mixture and potatoes to the onions bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until tender, about 30 minutes.
  • Add meat back in and heat through.
  • Serve with veggie, pepper rings and sour cream.

*Roast on the BBQ or over an open flame.

NOTE:  When I’m in a hurry I halve the potatoes in advance and store them in the broth mixture.  This is also good using egg noodles instead of potatoes.

TRICK:  I like to use 2 pans so the meat and the sauce art are ready about the same time – the meat can get tough otherwise.


Miss you like it was yesterday!
♫•*¨*•.¸♥•°*”˜˜”*°•.¸☆ ★ ☆¸.•°*”˜˜”*°•.¸♥¸.•*¨*•♫
♫•*¨*•.¸♥¸.•*¨*•♫ ░H░A░P░P░Y░ ♫•*¨*•.¸♥¸.•*¨*•♫
(¯”•.¸*♥*¸.•”¯) ░B░I░R░T░H░D░A░Y░ (¯”•.¸*♥*¸.•”¯)
♫•**•.¸♥¸.•**•♫ ░T░O░░░Y░O░U░!♫•**•.¸♥¸.•**•♫
♫•*¨*•.¸♥•°*”˜˜”*°•.¸☆ ★ ☆¸.•°*”˜˜”*°•.¸♥¸.•*¨*•♫




I am playing along with Martha at Seaside Simplicity with the meme Flashback Friday.   Come join in on the fun and link up your photo.

All our lives Jenn and I loved gathering shells on Galveston Island.  This trip was no exception. We were literally getting blown away, but had so much fun that day!! I’m pretty sure this was March 1998.  This is the last picture of us all together having fun so I keep rewinding to stay in the moment.


I am playing along with Martha at Seaside Simplicity with the meme Flashback Friday.   Come join in on the fun and link up your photo.

Every family has their black sheep.  I’d like to say it’s my crazy aunt Ginger, but the fact is, she’s just crazy.  Now in her 70’s, but acts like a kid and not always a in a good way.  When I say she’s crazy, I mean in an oddball way.

When she came to my dad’s funeral (her big brother) in 1993 she took tons of pictures and mailed them out to family.  No, she didn’t take pictures of the family and friends that gathered to mourn his passing.  She took all sorts of pictures of him in his casket and then sent them to us.  As we approach the 20th anniversary of his death, the thing I always remember is crazy aunt Ginger – eccentric and odd forever!

Crazy Aunt Ginger
CIRCA 1981



I am playing along with Martha at Seaside Simplicity with the meme Flashback Friday.   Come join in on the fun and link up your photo.

You can just see the teenage angst in my posture alone.  I started out looking for a picture of a Holly Hobbie dress for Martha to see and have yet to find it, but I now have found so many others I don’t even know where to start. I do remember that the hat I’m wearing and I were never far apart for quite some time.  It looks like I was about 15 and obviously didn’t want to go Sequoia with my parents, kid brother and eccentric grandfather.

FF - 03012013 - hat



I found this over at a friend’s blog, Martha at Seaside Simplicity.  She inspired the topic for today’s Round Robin Photo Challenge for Saturday, January 26th Long Ago, Far Away – so I’ decided to join the fun.

Here is your chance to get all nostalgic, photographically! Maybe it’s a photo you took with your first, cheap camera when you were 12 years old. Maybe it’s a photo you just took of a person, place or thing from your childhood. Maybe it’s something from longer ago or farther away than that: a castle or cathedral you photographed on a trip overseas, a dinosaur skeleton, or a distant constellation of stars, the light from which has taken years to reach us. If it was long ago or far away or both, it counts! All I ask is that it be a photo you took yourself, whether it was 40 years ago or five minutes ago.

Happy times!  This is my aunt who recently passed with me and her daughter Jenn at one of our favorite places, Galveston Island.  All our lives Jenn and I would go down there and collect shells off the beach.  It isn’t that easy these days with the weird growth along the shore line, but back then we walk on the sea wall, collect shells from the water’s edge and just basque in the winter water. You can’t see it in this pictures, but we’re barefoot LOL I’m holding my socks. I also still have every shell that I keep in a crystal bowl. Sharon had Parkinsons disease. Her mobility continued to go downhill from here so this is the last picture I have of us having fun. Thank goodness for tripods and timers so we could all be in the picture together.