The Egg and I: Fuss-Free Fajitas


Image Credit:

Dear Readers,

“The Egg and I” is a series of blog entries, where I share easy, no-fuss ideas for food.  I can always find a way to make a recipe more simple:  Here, I do not use a grill or a skillet.  

You can learn more here:  Fajitas.

You will need the following items:

  • Crock Pock or Slow Cooker
  • Stove-top sauce pan
  • Glass measuring cup for liquids
  • Several small bowls OR a tray or dish with divided compartments.

This recipe serves 8:

In a Crock Pot or Slow Cooker, cook on High for one hour [or until they look “sautéed” but do not over-cook!]

1 large or 2 medium sweet onions, thinly sliced

2 large or 4 medium bell peppers, thinly sliced

1 [8 ounce] pouch Frontera Classic Fajita Skillet Sauce  []  [free of gluten and preservatives] OR

1 [1.25 ounce] package of Wick Fowler’s All-Natural Taco Seasoning Mix and 3/4 cup water  [1.25 ounce] [www.wickfowler]

Add one of the following to the Crock Pot or Slow Cooker and cook on Low for one hour [or until meat is done but do not over-cook!]

1 pound fowl, beef, or pork, sliced into 1/4 inch strips:  boneless, skin-less  chicken or trimmed skirt steak or flank or round steak or pork tenderloin

[Note: I used Orchard Pond Organics Certified Natural Angus Beef for Fajitas [free of antibiotics and added hormones; all vegetarian feed; humanely raised, on an environmental and sustainable farm:]  This is from a local Tallahassee farm!

Prepare the rice on the stove-top:

Tex-Mex or Spanish Rice:  I used Seeds of Change Certified Organic Cuban Style Rice with Brown Rice and Black Beans [5.6 ounces] []:  Follow directions on box.

After rice is cooked, add one can of black beans, including the liquid:

I used Certified Organic Westbrae Natural Vegetarian Organic Black Beans [15 ounce] []

Assemble these toppings and spoon them into small serving bowls [with matching lids] OR into a divided container or tray:

Shredded cheese:  I used Certified Organic Valley Fancy Shredded Mexican Blend Cheese [6 ounces] [no antibiotics, synthetic hormones, or pesticides; no animal rennet.]

Sliced black olives:  I used Field Day Natural California Ripe Medium Pitted Olives [6 ounces] []

Plain “full-fat” organic Greek yogurt:  I used FAGE Total All Natural Greek Strained Yogurt, plain.  [If you use “full-fat” Greek yogurt, you will never miss the sour cream.]

Guacamole:  I used Yucatan Organic Guacamole [gluten-free]

Salsa:  I used Garden Fresh Gourmet’s Jacks’ Cantina Style All Natural Salsa

Optional:  corn, diced tomatoes, sliced and seeded jalapeno peppers, pico de gallo, shredded lettuce, diced onions.

Garnish:  fresh, sliced limes and fresh cilantro sprigs

Set out:

Warm, soft flour tortillas, large [or soft non-gluten tortillas, large]:  I used Maria & Ricardo’s Tortilla Factory White Flour Tortillas for Soft Tacos []

Each family member or each guest makes his/her own fajita!


Enjoy for your family, for company, or pack it up and take to a family in need:  See

Simply yours,


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The Valley of the Flowers – Part One



Dear Readers,

You may describe the “picture postcard” memories of your childhood — but just try to compete with mine:

I spent my idyllic childhood [1958-1962] in  “The Valley of the Flowers,”   Lompoc [LAHM-poke], California.  This small town and valley boasted the title of “The Flower Seed Capital of the World.”


The air was pure and fresh because of the ocean wind, the small population, and the absence of industrial commerce:  At that time, the region was mostly agricultural.

In addition to flowers, the region now boasts of  vineyards, which flourish in this lush, fertile, golden valley.


After the Spanish conquered California for God and King, the Spanish Friars established 21 missions, along the coast of California.  Lompoc was the site of Mission La Purisima Concepcion, providing the source of the name of the region:  “Point Conception.”


Mission La Purisima Concepcion

“Point Conception”  jutted out into the Pacific Ocean.  [See the red star, below].  Strong winds from the ocean were invigorating and bracing.  A protective blanket of dense fog rolled in every night and dissipated every morning.


The cool, Mediterranean climate of the region did not offer regular seasons and the weather was unvarying.   The annual average temperature range was between 50 degrees and 70 degrees and the average rainfall was 16.11 inches.  Of course,  there was never frozen precipitation.

I remember frequently wearing a “car coat”  but that was the warmest piece of over-clothing that I owned.   Our homes did not have air conditioning because the temperature rarely rose above 70 degrees.   There was one hot spell per year, however, when the “Santa Ana Winds” rolled in from the desert.  This was our one chance to wear shorts and sleeveless tops and retrieve our window fans from storage.



I live in North West Florida now.  Every summer, I grow homesick for the climate of my childhood:  I yearn, once more, to wear a car-coat in July;  to walk on the crunchy, brown sand of the beach;  to hear the crashing, booming waves of the ocean and the plaintive cry of the sea gulls;  to wade in the cold ocean water [where no one would dare to swim without a wet-suit];  to smell the scent of sea air, sea weed and kelp;  to feel the wind and sea mist on my face and in my hair; and to look up and see the protective dome of the overcast sky, which protected us from the sun.


Surf Beach, Point Conception, CA

I long to play all day at the beach, with no sunscreen, and to return home without even the barest hint of a sunburn.


The sweet fragrance and vibrant color of those flowers represented my ideal childhood.  I lived in a landscape filled with softly undulating hills of beauty, in orderly rows of contrasting color, as far as the eye could see.


The tranquil beauty of the valley’s contours  provided the memories and dreams of my childhood.

The intrusive nature and shape of the events which invaded my ideal childhood is what this series of blog entries must tell.

Coram Deo,


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Introducing Gwen Stellamaris


Gwen:  Immediately after birth.

Dear Readers,

Our third grandchild was born on May 30, 2013, at 7.41 AM.  Her name means “fair star of the sea.”

She weighed 7 pounds and 4 ounces and was 20 inches in length.  She has lots of dark hair and has milky brown eyes.  She reminds me very much of newborn Lucy.

She arrived after twelve hours of labor, at the hospital.  Daniel’s husband was the “coach” and I was the “doula.”

Mother and baby are doing very well.  Big brother, Benjamin, and big sister, Lucy, were thrilled to welcome her home.

Coram Deo,




Filed under Birth of a Grandchild

Help! I Am a First-Time Grandmother-Doula!


“There is always room on Marmee’s lap!”

 That is what I tell my grands, anyway.

Marmee, Benjamin, and Lucy:  November 2011.


Benjamin, born 2009, snuggling with Marmee.


Lucy, born 2011.

Dear Grandmothers-To-Be:

Proviso: I am not a certified doula. If your daughter requires a certified doula, see the website,

I am a grandmother and volunteer doula for my daughter.

I have experience in the hospital setting, with an attending midwife.  I have not yet assisted at a home birth.


IF your daughter invites you  to serve as the “doula,” please do not panic!  It is a great honor for your daughter to ask you to fulfill this role.

If she does not invite you to serve as the “doula,” please read this article:  “Dueling With the Doula.”

If you are able to remain stoic, calm, patient, quiet [and mostly invisible] during the labor and birth process, you are a good candidate to be a doula.

I am a grandmother of two, with one on the way:  I have been my daughter’s doula for the two previous births and I am currently packing my “Doula Bags” for the third birth.

I will provide you with guidance:  I will describe how I prepared for the blessed events and I will provide “Marmee’s Doula Check List.”



What Is a Doula?


[Image credit:]

The babies in my parents’ generation were born at home.  [My parents were born 1918-1920].  In attendance at these home births was a midwife or a family doctor.   A close relative probably fulfilled the role of the doula:  perhaps a mother, mother-in-law, sister, sister-in-law, or an aunt.

During the next generation, we lost the knowledge of the assisted home birth because of the shift to the “medical model,”  when hospital births replaced home births.  This transition occurred a decade or two before I was born, in 1952.

Thankfully, today we are reclaiming the knowledge and skill of the midwife and doula.  Grandmothers are perfectly suited to step into the role of doula, in this reclamation.

Doula” is a Greek word which means, “servant:”    “Doula” is “one who serves.”

The doula’s role is to provide comfort, support, and encouragement to the mother — before, during, and after the delivery of the baby.  

The Birth Team:

The husband coaches the mother.

The midwife guides the birth process and offers medical advice, knowledge, and skill — and instructs the hospital staff.

The doula does not interfere with either of these other roles:  She assists the husband and midwife, if asked to do so.

She is responsible for offering a variety of “comfort aids” to the mother.  [More about that later.]


If you are traveling to a different city, ask your daughter if she would like you to arrive one week before and to stay one week after the “due date.”

Making plans ahead of time is tricky:  The midwife will advise, as the due date approaches.

If possible, plan to drive instead of to fly.  You will have more flexibility and more room to transport your “comfort aids.”

The Birth Facility:

Your daughter will choose either a home birth [with midwife], a “birth cottage” [with midwife] or a hospital birthing facility [with a midwife].

It is appropriate, at any one of these settings, for the grandmother to serve as “doula.”

Before the baby is full term:  

  • Learn the route to the birthing facility.
  • Arrange a tour of the birthing facility.
  • Ask prior permission to use the kitchen, during the birthing session.
  • Arrange for authorization, if necessary:  You will need a valid driver’s license.
  • Secure a copy of the house key of the parents-to-be, in case you need to bring an item to the birthing facility.

Educational Resources:

As soon as your daughter asks you to serve as the doula, order your educational resources and begin your study.

I recommend these three resources as absolutely essential:



DVD:  Comfort Measures for Childbirth, by Penny Simkins

Happiest Baby

CD, DVD, and Book:  The Happiest Baby on the Block, by Harvey Karp, M. D.

The Birth Plan:

The father and mother will provide you with a copy of their Birth Plan, which the midwife will require.

Marmee’s Doula Check List:

Personal Items for the Doula:

  • toothbrush, toothpaste, mouth rinse
  • hard candies, cough drops, breath mints, gum
  • zip lock bags, thick freezer type:  small, medium, and large; black Sharpie pen [for organization]
  • toiletries
  • clean apron, with pockets
  • backpack [to transport the comfort aids]
  • fanny pack [to keep essential items at hand]
  • iPhone and re-charger
  • fresh change of undies & clothing; sweater
  • lined notebook, pen, and pencil:  to record the Birth Story


  • shoes: clogs that are comfortable, waterproof, and washable:  Birkie Classic Clogs —   — OR
  • shoes: comfortable athletic shoes, with good arch support
  • sox

Comfort Aids for the Mom:  [See Penny Simkin’s DVD for details.]

A Word About Safety:

  • Place layers of sterile towels over hot/cold comfort aides, before placing them on the mom.
  • Disinfect all surfaces and comfort aids:  before and after each birth session.  I use Seventh Generation Disinfectant Wipes.
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For Labor Positions: 


  • *Pilates & yoga floor mat with carry bag or strap; blocks [2]; stretch bands; belt
  • a sarong  or “rebozo:”  a long piece of sturdy, woven cloth



Image Credit:  Mexican Art Show




 Image Credit:

  • *ball or sphere for birthing  [also known as a  Swiss-, physio-, or exercise- ball or sphere ], extra inflating pin, “Faster Blaster Hand Pump,” and carry straps






  • a waterproof garden kneeling cushion/knee pad [Use this as a waterproof bath pillow, for laboring in the hospital bath tub.]
  • GNP_2

For Massage:

  • cornstarch [organic]
  • massage rollers
  • oil, organic:  without or without essential oil
  • pure cotton socks, extra-large, organic
  • three tennis balls

For Comfort: 


  • heating pad, electric
  • rolling pin:   [Note: no longer sells these.  Google “Tupperware Rolling Pin” to find a “vintage” one.]
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  • two pair:  100% pure organic cotton socks, extra large, with NO elastic Spandex [You are going to place the rice inside the socks and then heat them in the microwave, at the Birthing Location.  The socks will give off a strange odor, if they contain elastic or Spandex.]
  • 4 cups of raw rice, organic:  [I used Jasmine.]
  • frozen bags of peas
  • eye pillow
  • hand-held fan:  I chose this one:  It is a Fair-Trade hand-woven fiber fan with leather handle, from Ghana. To order:  Google African fan or Ghanan fan or Ghana fan.


Aromatherapy, if desired [ask the mom]:

  • cotton balls for essential oil
  • squirt or “spritz” spray bottle, filled with distilled water and essential oil
  • organic 100% essential oil [let the mom choose her favorite single-source or blended oil]+
  • organic oil for massage:  grapeseed, evening primrose, or almond

Personal Care & Comfort:


  • pillow, travel, waterproof, inflatable:  for mom to cradle her head, in the bath
  • brush, comb, stretchy head band and/or pony tail bands [to get hair off of mom’s face]
  • homeopathic Arnica Gel
  • arnica-gel
  • homeopathic  Rescue Remedy Spray by Bach
  • images-12
  • emery board or nail file
  • two pair of soft knee sox [the mother’s legs may get cold]
  • lip balm [organic & for sensitive skin]
  • wash cloths: thick, dark color
  • OTC pain relief for Dad [Advil or Tylenol]
  • Sea Bands” and/or “Preg Pops,” in case mom has  nausea
  • sea-band-morning-sickness


Nutrition and Hydration for Everyone:  You may need to bring a small ice chest.

A Note on Nutrition:

Since babies invariably arrive at odd hours, the hospital cafeteria may be closed, after the baby is born.  However, the new mom will be famished!

So, plan ahead and provide nutrition and hydration for her, as she will need to quickly stabilize her blood sugar, be able to sleep well, and fortify herself for nursing.

I did not plan ahead and all I could offer my daughter was two white-bread sandwiches from the all-night deli, at the hospital.  [She said that they were delicious, anyway.]

[Note: the kitchen will have cups, straws, spoons, water]

  • bottles of pure drinking water:  labeled for each person
  • “Emergen-C” powder packets:  contains electrolytes
  • organic milk and protein powder
  • nutritional bars:  meal-replacement; energy; power
  • organic snacks:  sunflower seeds, almonds, crackers & almond butter; granola bars; fruit [cut-up]
  • “Honey-Pax:” individual servings:
  • sandwiches
  • “Mom’s Milk Tea” to fortify mom, for nursing

Dad & Mom May Wish to Bring From Home:

  • toiletries
  • pillows & pillow cases
  • blanket

Before the Due Date:

  • Keep your vehicle filled with plenty of fuel.
  • Go to the bank and get a quantity of single dollar bills and quarters [for parking and vending machines].
  • Pack your vehicle with everything you will need, in duffle bags, and in your back back.

Before You Leave for the Birth Facility:

  • Bring your keys, driver’s license, sunglasses, purse, cell phone & re-charger, and frozen bags of peas.


Filed under Birth of a Grandchild, Child Birth, Doula, grandchildren, Grandmother, hospital

A Friend In Need: Take a “Comfort Supper”



Dear Readers,

I received an invaluable gift from my mother:  She modeled for me the custom of taking a meal to “a friend in need,” due to illness, a death in the family, a new baby, or  “moving day.”  On Vandenberg Air Force Base [VAFB], where my family lived for ten years, there were frequent opportunities for my mother to exercise her “gift:”   families frequently transferred in and/or transferred out.  She raised four children, during those years, but she always carved out time to help “a friend in need.”

My mother’s “go-to” entree was an Italian dish, “Talarigni,” which she served with a fresh, green salad and Italian bread.  This was a “comfort supper,” of which I have fond memories.  However, I offer here a simple and comforting menu that is gluten-free.  When you have a “friend in need,” take this “comfort supper” and be sure to pack the supper in containers which the family does not have to return!

Or, serve this menu for company.  It is a supper that all ages will enjoy!

A Comfort & Company Supper Menu:


Mashed Potato Casserole

Green Peas & Pearl Onions

Kefir & Fruit


All ingredients are from New Leaf Market, Tallahassee.  All ingredients are organic, and are local, where possible.

This menu includes all the four food groups but is not low-fat.  It is, however, relatively low-carb.  I do not include bread and dessert.

You may wish to subsitute baked sweet potatoes and steamed green beans, if you want a menu that is lower-glycemic.

Dairy products: I recommend full-fat or low-fat but never no-fat.

Legend:  C=cup; t=teaspoon; T=tablespoon]; EVOO=extra virgin olive oil]


Rector’s Meatloaf [“Old Faithful”] [4-6 servings]

From:  Jan Karon’s Mitford Cookbook:  A Kitchen Reader  [With modifications by Margot Blair Payne]


Vegetables: wash and chop:

½ C onion, sweet

1/2 C sweet pepper, red

1/2 C sweet pepper, green

Moist ingredients: Mix well together:

2-3 large eggs, beaten

8 ounces Pacific Organic Tomato & Roasted Red Pepper Soup

1 T Worchestershire sauce [non-gluten]

Seasonings and oats:  Toss together and add to liquid ingredients:

2 t. sea salt; 1 t. black pepper; ½ t. season salt

1 C uncooked rolled oats, non-gluten

In a very large bowl, add the above ingredients and mix well with the meat: 

1 pound ground round

1 pound ground turkey or chicken


½  C Annie’s Naturals Organic Ketchup

¼ C Tropical Pepper Company Steak Sauce

Preheat oven to 350.  Coat glass casseroles with EVOO.  Press mixture into casseroles.    Bake one hour.  Remove and spread topping on top.  Return to the oven and bake for another 15 minutes.

Mashed Potato Casserole with Sour Cream and Chives: [6 servings]

1/4 C butter, softened

4 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, unpeeled, small

2 t sea salt – divided

1 & ½ to 2 C total of dairy:  sour cream and/or Greek yogurt, plain

½ t black pepper

1 T finely chopped chives, dried

1/2 C shredded carrots [optional]

½ C fresh Parmesan cheese, grated or shredded [optional]

Oil a 9×9 glass casserole with EVOO.

In a large pot, boil the potatoes and 1 t. salt in water, until fork-tender, about 20 minutes.

Mash potatoes with butter, sour cream, 1 t. salt, and pepper. Mash in the chives.

Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary.  Spread the potatoes into the casserole.

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Sprinkle cheese over top.

Bake until golden and crisp, 30-40 minutes.

Steam the [frozen] Green Peas & Pearl Onions:  “Organic” is hard to find.  

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Mix in a ratio of 1:1:  plain Kefir and Kefir with fruit.  Garnish with fresh fruit.


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Filed under A Friend In Need, friendship, healthy nutrition, Menus, Recipes

The Egg & I: “Green Cleaning”

Dear Readers,

How many of us have toxic cleaning solutions in our homes and garages?  

Gather all your cleaning products and read the labels!

Contact your City or County and find out where to drop off toxic products.

Now, replace all those toxic products with safe, “green” cleaning solutions.

The recipe [below] is safe and non-toxic, which is especially important for those of us who have children and grandchildren.  [Note:  Keep the kids away from the solution, anyway.]

I use this solution to clean every surface in the house:  kitchen, bathrooms, floors, and furniture.  I use it to pre-spot laundry.  However, “test first, in an inconspicuous spot.”

I keep only seven products/ingredients in my Housekeeping Closet:

  • Arm & Hammer Baking Soda [I buy this in bulk, online]
  • Bon Ami Scouring Powder [I buy this in multiples, online]
  • White [clear] distilled vinegar [I buy this in a gallon jug.]
  • Anhydrous Citric Acid, 100% pure organic, food grade, non-GMO
  • Natural Dish Liquid [Free and Clear]: USDA Certified BioBased Product. [I buy this via]
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Essential Oils: Choose a single-source oil or a blend. See and search for “Solutions:”  They offer 11 blends. You will need LEMON essential oil for the “Safe Bleach.”


Recipe for Homemade All-Purpose Cleaning Solution

CAUTION:  Mixing  the vinegar and the baking soda will cause a temporary volcano — so use the kitchen sink! 

You will need:

Note:  “T.” means Tablespoon.

32 ounces hot water [in a Pyrex glass measure, made in USA]

2 T.  baking soda

2 T. white [clear] distilled vinegar OR  2 T Anhydrous Citric Acid

2 T. Natural Dish Liquid

4 – 8 drops of 100% organic Essential Oil of your choice

Next Steps:

Mix all the ingredients well, until the powders dissolve.  You may have to re-heat the liquid in the microwave for a minute.  Stir well.

With a funnel, pour the liquid into two empty 32-ounce plastic bottles:  [one with a sprayer lid; one with cap lid.]

Label each bottle, with white electrical tape and black Sharpie pen.

Note:  This is a concentrated liquid.  You must dilute the solution, according to the household task.

I am merely guessing at these “solution to water” ratios.

You will need to experiment but you should not have to rinse the surface, after cleaning!  If you have to rinse, further dilute the solution.

For tough jobs:  This solution works best if you spray, soak, and wait for the solution to do its work:  For example, toilets, tubs, showers, stove top, etc.

Here are my estimates for the “solution to water” ratios but, seriously, you are own your own:  Do your own experimenting!

For bathrooms & kitchen: 1:4

For ceramic tile surfaces & floors:  1:8

For wood floors & furniture:  1:16  [Use a damp — not wet — microfiber cloth or microfiber damp mop.]

For glass & mirrors:  1:32

Laundry: Use All-Purpose Cleaner:

For pre-wash spot clean:  1:2 for whites; 1:4 for colors.

To avoid set-in stains on laundry:  Pre-spot stains, as soon as you notice them.

  • Pre-spot and scrub the item, with “All-Purpose Cleaning Solution.
  • Allow the item to sit, at least 30 minutes [or overnight.]
  • First, rinse the item in cold water.
  • Then, wash the item, in warm water, detergent, and softener.  [I use Seventh Generation.].
  • Before placing the item in the dryer, inspect the stained items.
  • If stains are still visible, repeat the steps.

Recipe for “Safe Bleach:”

1 cup hydrogen peroxide

1 cup distilled water

1 T. citric acid

12 drops lemon essential oil

Automatic Dishwasher Detergent:

My favorite is: Method Smarty Dish Plus Dishwasher Detergent: 45 Packs, Triple Action Power, Fragrance-Free: With naturally derived, non-toxic mineral-based PowerGreen Technology. [I buy this via]

Prefer to Use a Concentrate? offers a set of three concentrates. [I buy these from]

  • All Purpose Natural Cleaner
  • Glass & Surface Cleaner
  • Tub & Tile Natural Cleaner

Here’s to Better and Safer Housekeeping!



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Filed under Green Cleaning, Recipes

A Marriage Meditation


[Image Credit:  the]

Dear Readers,

Weddings . . .  it is a joy for me to attend and witness these occasions.   I must confess, however, that I find it difficult to find inspiration within the confines of the Gift Registry.  My ardent desire is to offer the Bride and Groom a deep and meaningful gift — one that will encourage and strengthen them through the years ahead, in remaining faithful to the Covenant of Marriage and to their Marriage Vows.

Herewith is the Marriage Meditation that I bestow upon the Bride and Groom.  Along with the Meditation, I also offer two tangible gifts:  One represents the “Sacred” and one represents the “Mundane.”

The Vocation of Marriage is both Sacred and Eternal.  However, in practical terms, we live out our Vocation of Marriage in the Daily and Mundane.

May we who enter the Covenant of Marriage faithfully live into the Vocation of Marriage:  “a long obedience in the same direction.”

Coram Deo,



To the Bride & Groom,

In Joyous Anticipation of the Solemnization of Holy Matrimony


[Image Credit:]

A Marriage Blessing, 

by Margot Blair Payne, 2012

May your covenant with each other be a reflection of God’s covenant with us.

May your life together be a pleasing, fragrant offering to God.

May you be surrounded by the encouragement and support of the Body of Christ, your family, and your friends.

May God bless your shared hopes and dreams, as you seek to honor God in your common life.

May God bless your house and home, as you offer shelter and hospitality to others.

May God grant you long life, health, and many rich memories of your life together.

May God strengthen you, as you enter into the vocation and sacred bond of marriage.

May these meditations and prayers sustain you, through the years:

Prayers for a Marriage,

from The Book of Common Prayer [1979 Version]


“Eternal God, creator and preserver of all life, author of salvation, and giver of all grace: 

Look with favor upon the world you have made, and for which your Son gave his life, and especially upon this man and this woman, whom you made one flesh in Holy Matrimony.  Amen.  

Give them wisdom and devotion in the ordering of their common life, that each may be to the other a strength in need, a counselor in perplexity, a comfort in sorrow, and a companion in joy.  Amen. 

Grant that their wills may be so knit together in your will, and their spirits in your Spirit, that they may grow in love and peace with you and one another all the days of their life.  Amen. 

Give them grace, when they hurt each other, to recognize and acknowledge their fault, and to seek each other’s forgiveness and yours.  Amen. 

Make their life together a sign of Christ’s love to this sinful and broken world, that unity may overcome estrangement, forgiveness heal guilt, and joy conquer despair.  Amen.  

Give them such fulfillment of their mutual affection that they may reach out in love and concern for others.  Amen.  

Grant that the bonds of our common humanity, by which all your children are united one to another, and the living to the dead, may be so transformed by your grace, that your will may be done on earth as it is in heaven; where, O Father, with your Son and Holy Spirit, you live and reign in perfect unity, now and for ever.   Amen.”

The Sacred

Excerpts from A Wedding Sermon,

from Letters & Papers from Prison, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer,  Touchstone, 1971 Edition.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, 1906-1945, was a Christian theologian, Lutheran pastor, martyr, and one of the most significant witnesses of the 20th  century.


” . . .The desire for earthly bliss, which you want to find in one another, and in which, to quote the medieval song, one is the comfort of the other in body and in soul — that desire is justified before God and man . . . .

. . . .Marriage is more than your love for each other: 

It has a higher dignity and power, for it is God’s holy ordinance, through which he wills to perpetuate the human race, until the end of time. 

In your love, you see only your two selves in the world but, in marriage, you are a link in the chain of the generations, which God causes to come and to pass away to his glory, and calls into his kingdom. 

In your love, you see only the heaven of your happiness but, in marriage, you are placed at a post of responsibility toward the world and mankind. 

Your love is your own private possession but marriage is more than something personal – it is a status, an office. 

Just as it is the crown, and not merely the will to rule, that makes the king, so it is marriage, and not merely your love for each other, that joins you together in the sight of God and man.

As you first gave the ring to one another and have now received it a second time from the hand of the pastor, so love comes from you, but marriage from above, from God.

As high as God is above man, so high are the sanctity, the rights, and the promise of marriage above the sanctity, the rights, and the promise of love.  

 It is not your love that sustains the marriage, but from now on, the marriage that sustains your love.”


 A Hymn: By Gracious Powers:

text by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, music composed by R. Shulz-Widmar

By gracious powers so wonderfully sheltered, and confidently waiting, come what may,

We know that God is with us night and morning, and  never fails to greet us each new day.

Yet is this heart by its old foe tormented, still evil days bring burdens hard to bear:

O give our frightened souls the sure salvation for which, O Lord, you taught us to prepare.  

And when this cup you give is filled to brimming with bitter suffering, hard to understand,

We take it thankfully and without trembling, out of so good and so beloved a hand.

Yet when again in this same world you give us the joy we had, the brightness of your Sun, 

We shall remember all the days we lived through, and our whole life shall then be yours alone.


The Mundane:

An excerpt from the book, Glittering Vices: A New Look at the Seven Deadly Sins and Their Remedies, by Rebecca Konyndyk DeYoung, Brazos Press, 2009.


“For all its joys, any intense friendship or marriage has aspects that can seem burdensome.  

There is not only an investment of time, but also an investment of self that is required for a relationship to exist and grow and flourish.

Even more difficult than the physical accommodations are the accommodations of identity:  from the perspective of individual “freedom,” to be in a relationship of love will change us and cost us.  

It will require us to restructure our priorities.  

It may compromise our plans.  

It will demand sacrifice.  

It will alter the pattern of our thoughts and desires and may transform our vision of the world.  

It’s not just ‘your life’ or ‘my life’ anymore — it’s ‘ours.’  

Seen in this light, it can seem that staying at arm’s length and not engaging or investing would seem easier and safer — even if ultimately unhappier — than risking openness to love’s transforming power and answering its claims on us.

Sometimes marriage or other friendships feel euphoric and energizing:  other times, they are tedious, empty, wearying routines, or just plain work.  

The point is that being committed to any love relationship takes daily nurturing, daily effort, and daily practices that build it up.  

Neglecting these will slowly break the relationship down.  

Nurturing grudges or selfish claims instead will erode it and make us resentful of a relationship that now feels like a suffocating trap.  

Kathleen Norris once said that married love is “eternal, but it’s also daily, about as daily and unromantic as housekeeping.”  

It is through daily practices and disciplines, whether we feel like doing them or not, that the decision to love is renewed and refreshed, and the commitment of love is kept alive.”


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Filed under A Marriage Meditation, Marriage & Wedding

A Dickensian Twelfth Night Supper Party!



The Hosts:  Attire influenced more by Downton Abbey than Dickens — but who cares?


The Formal Dining Room:  Table Settings for 13!


Our dear friends & neighbors, from over the garden wall:

They are sporting genuine Vintage accessories!


The Newlyweds:  the lovely bride and . . . .


. . . the  handsome groom!


Our fellow Anglophiles and BBC/Masterpiece Theatre enthusiasts!

[Love the bow-tie!]


Our Cher-ished Friend:  Her lovely smile and enthusiastic spirit lights up any room!


Question:  “Among all our guests, who have been married the longest?”  

Answer:  “This happy couple — for 57 years!”


Our new friends and fellow university types!

This couple brought a camera to the supper, so they deserve extra photos, right?


Costume Award Winner:  She is dressed in Dickensian attire, from head to toe!

And guess who bought her the dress?  That’s right:  her husband, Mr. Romance!


Love the pipe and the red “muffler!”

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Filed under Proper English, Supper Party

The Egg and I: Margot’s Homemade Granola



[Image credit: Youblogwhatyoueat]

Dear Readers,

“The Egg and I” is a series of blog entries related to all matters domestic.

To view the other entries of this series, click here:  The Egg and I: The Promised Land and here:  The Egg and I: The Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen.

I am a no-fuss kind of gal who likes to prepare simple, nutritious food for my family.

I have been making home-made granola since the 1970’s, when I bought the book, “MORE WITH LESS:  Recipes and suggestions by Mennonites on how to eat better and consume less of the world’s limited food resources [1976 edition].”

Before marriage, I did not know how to cook. So, I pored over this cookbook, as a novitiate might pore over a prayer-book.

After 25 years of employment, my beloved cookbook looked exactly like this:


In 2000, I purchased the “25th Anniversary Edition:”


And, now, you can order the “30th Anniversary Edition” of the “More-With-Less” Cookbook:


In the 25th Anniversary “More With Less” cookbook, you will find granola recipes on pages 89-93.  These recipes served as the basis for the recipe below.

I created a recipe that is free of:

  • gluten
  • peanuts and cashews [which are legumes — not nuts]
  • dried fruits

 . . . and that is also:

  • made entirely from organic sources
  • low-sodium
  • low-sugar
  • vegan

This recipe is so easy that I am not going to provide step-by-step photos.  You can do this!

Kitchen Tools:

one 12-quart shallow stainless steel bowl, for mixing the granola



one “turkey roaster” or something similar, for baking the granola


Pyrex or Corning glass measures cups:  2 cup and 4 cup.  Make sure these are made in the USA!


A large cooking spoon, to stir the mix.

A large bowl scraper: [I use a “unibody” silicone one.]

A kitchen timer.

Margot’s Granola Recipe:  

A.  Dry Ingredients:


All of these organic ingredients are available from the Bulk Section of the New Leaf Market, in Tallahassee.


Click here for details:  New Leaf Market.

These dry ingredients are organic, raw, unsalted, unsweetened, and unroasted:

12 cups rolled oats, gluten-free

2 cups each:  sunflower seeds; pumpkin seeds; coconut [unsweetened, shredded]; buckwheat groats [kasha]

1 cup each: sesame seeds; flax seeds or flax seed meal; hemp seeds [hulled/”hearts”]

1 cup each of the following nuts:  chopped, sliced, or diced:

–walnuts, pecans, almonds

B.  Liquid Ingredients:  


All ingredients are organic and pure.  

The proportion of liquid to dry ingredients is about 1:6.  If you prefer a more moist granola, increase the liquids.

In the following order, measure each ingredient in the two-cup glass measure and then pour into the four-cup glass measure:

1 cup total oil:  I just use oil but you may choose a combination of oil, coconut oil, and almond butter.

1 cup total sweetener:  We use East Hill Honey Company raw local honey.  You may also use maple syrup.


Click here to order the honey:  East Hill Honey Company.

1/2 cup water

1 Tablespoon pure vanilla

1 Tablespoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon each: cloves, cardamom

1-2 teaspoons sea salt


Dump all the “A” ingredients into the bowl or turkey roaster.  Stir well.

Cover the four-cup glass measure with a glass plate. Heat all the “B” ingredients in the glass measure in the microwave.  Use 30-second intervals on “high.”   Stir well after each interval.  Continue, until mixed well.  Do not over-heat.

Slowly pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients.  Stir.  Add more liquid.  Stir.  Etc.

Use the bowl scraper. Keep stirring, until the liquid and dry ingredients are thoroughly mixed.

Divide the granola into two equal batches.  Reserve the second batch.

Dump the first batch into the bowl or roasting pan.  Spread out the granola.

Bake the granola in a 300 degree oven.  Set the kitchen timer for 15 minutes.  Go watch a movie and stir the batches every 15 minutes.  Do not burn the granola!

When the granola reaches a color of golden, crunchy perfection, remove the first batch.  Dump the first batch into a container, to cool.

Now bake the second batch, following the above instructions.

When cool, store your batches of granola in air-tight “locking” food storage containers.  Store one container in the pantry.

Store the other containers in the freezer.



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Filed under healthy nutrition, Recipes

A Friend In Need: Hospital Visits


[Image: Courtesy of “Scattered Joy” blog]

Dear Readers,

We are all familiar with this question: “What can I do for my friend who is ill?”   Perhaps my story will provide some answers to that question!

It’s been quiet here at “Margot’s Corner” because I have been ill for a month, including a hospital stay for ten days.  I will spare you the details, which are interesting only to my family and medical team.  Happily, I  am now home, recovering  from my “mystery malady.”

I learned, through this challenging time, to ask for help.   One friend, in particular, was an “angel of mercy,” during my time of need.  She will know who she is, when she reads this entry:  This is my “thank you” to her and to ALL my helping and praying family and friends!

Note:  “Hints” are for friends of the patient.  “Tips” are for the patient.


Hint:  No one receives adequate  sleep in the hospital and an ill person craves sleep more desperately than even nutrition and company.  So, always ask your friend if he/she is accepting visitors.


  • When you sign the hospital admittance papers, specify “No Visitors”  and “Do Not Give Out Information About Me.”
  • Ask the staff to post a sign on your hospital door.  My sign specified:  “No Visitors, Except for My Family and Priests.”  You can, of course, give your room number to specific clergy, family, and friends.
  • Disconnect the “land phone” in the hospital room.  In fact, disconnect BOTH land phones, if it is a semi-private room.  They will, invariably, loudly ring and interrupt your sleep.
  • Use your cell phone, if you must, but turn the ringer OFF when you are sleeping.


I asked my friend to ignore the sign on the door.  I have known my friend for over 30 years;  she practically IS family.

Having an eye for design, my lovely blue-eyed friend wore a beautiful Delft blue top, blue crystal earrings, and she carried a vase of “living” bright red tulips, still blooming from their bulbs.  When I saw my friend walk into my hospital room, I exclaimed, “What beauty!  What color!”   [Pause.]  “And just look at the tulips, too!”

Hint:  A patient in the hospital craves beauty and color:  As I gazed at those tulips, they were a living symbol of nature and a reminder of hope:  I would soon return home, to plant my spring flowers!

Hint:  Hospital rooms are very small, so be prepared, to [instead] deliver flowers to the home of your friend.  He or she will enjoy them during recuperation, I assure you!


Tip:  No appetite for hospital meals?  From the Dietician’s Aide, request the “Fruit Plate with Cottage Cheese” or the “Supper Salad.”

Hint:  During my hospital stay, I had little appetite for solid food — yet I craved something cold, liquid, nutritious, refreshing, healthy, and not sweet:   My friend had the perfect solution:  She brought me, for three consecutive days, a hand-made “Green Smoothie,” from her own kitchen:  It was chock-full of organic vegetables and fruits, with no added sugar of any kind.  I kept the “Smoothie” cold,  in the styrofoam and plastic water pitcher on my “meal tray.”   I am convinced my recovery began after the first sip of that “Smoothie.”  My friend also provided the Smoothie recipe:

Green Smoothie Recipe

“If using a regular blender:  First cut up [the veggies and fruit] into smaller pieces because they can get “stuck” or frozen.  The key is to use small portions and blend, a little at a time, instead of putting it all in at once.

This will probably make enough “Smoothies” for two people.  It will last two to three days, in the refrigerator, or you may freeze it in small containers, defrost, and re-blend.  This recipe will yield about eight cups.

Put a few ice cubes in the blender and crush, to help solidify everything else.  Then, add ingredients, one at a time, and blend:”

1 hand-full of fresh baby spinach leaves

2 small heads of broccoli

1/2 apple [core but do not peel]

1 banana

a little bit of flax-seed oil, if you have it

1/2 cup frozen blueberries

4 frozen strawberries

4 slices of frozen peaches

Whatever else you may have in the refrigerator  . . .

Ice:  enough for desired consistency



Tip:  The staff is very busy and does not have time to help a patient take a shower.

Tip:  Plan ahead:  Keep your essential toiletries in a travel pouch and grab it before you rush out the ER or Hospital.

Tip:  The hospital supplies some toiletries but they are not available in quantity or quality.

Hint:  While in the hospital, I was not yet strong or stable enough to take a shower by myself.  So, my friend brought me samples of her luxurious shampoo and conditioner and helped me with my shower & shampoo.  Now, that is a true girl friend!

Hint:  A patient needs toiletries — without fragrances and with gentle [and, if possible, organic] ingredients. Ask your friend for suggestions.  I recommend:

  • Shampoo, conditioner, comb, headband, bath/shower gel, face moisturizer, body lotion, mouthwash, toothbrush, toothpaste, and lip balm.
  • To encourage sleep:  A sleep eye-mask, silicone ear plugs, and a homeopathic remedy:  Hyland’s “Calms Forte.”  [Of course, ask your physician about this remedy.]



Tip:  Plan ahead:  Every morning, ask “Housekeeping” for fresh bath linens, sox, and two hospital gowns.  Also, ask “Housekeeping” to make your bed with fresh sheets, while you are in the shower.

Tip:  Tie the first gown in the back.  Over that first gown, tie the second gown in the front.  Now, you have a “gown” and a “robe.”  Clean sheets, clean gown & robe & sox, clean body & hair:  It is bliss!


My friend recognized my need for stimulating conversation and indulged me by sitting with me in the “Waiting Room,” where we discussed theology for about fifteen minutes.

Hint:  Your friend is eager to hear about the “outside world” and craves stimulating conversation.  For myself, I was so weary of repeating my health issues that it was a relief to talk about anything other than my health.  So, dear friends, please do not ask your ill friend for details.


  • Offer to read a favorite book  to your friend.
  • Bring an iPod with ear buds and recorded books and beautiful music.
  • Or, bring a magazine or a journal that you know your friend might appreciate:  Ask for suggestions, however!  A Birkenstock-wearing, silver-haired grandmother [like me] will prefer to read “Real Simple” or “Southern Living,” for instance.


Even though my priest, Fr. Michael, referred to my hospital stay as a “Reading Vacation,”  the truth is that I was sleep-deprived:  my head hurt, my eyes would not focus, and I had difficulty concentrating.  I chuckled every time I glanced at the 1300-page volume of “Les Miserables,” which I asked my husband to bring me.  I was too weak to even lift the heavy volume!

I would have been much happier with “Anne of Green Gables,”  which I read, with glee, when I returned home.

Hint:  Everyone needs a “comfort book,” to read when ill.



Visiting a friend in the hospital is an immense labor of love, time, and energy:  A visitor must park in the parking deck, find the elevators, walk through endless corridors, and find the room number.  After that Herculean effort, a friend does NOT want to find an empty room when he/she arrives.

[For instance, each diagnostic test, plus transport, requires one to two hours.]

Hint:  If your friend is accepting visitors, send a text message confirmation before you leave for your hospital visit.

Tip:  Text or call your family, friends, and clergy and advise them:

  • if you are going to be absent from the hospital room for any reason.
  • ASAP, after you find out you will be discharged.


Gifts from Family &  Friends:

Tip & Hint:  I sent brief daily email updates to one friend and to one family member:  They “spread the word” to a wider circle of family and friends.  Family and friends knew how to pray specifically for me.  Such a blessing!

Hint:  Friends prepared simple suppers for Stephen, which were invaluable.  After working all day, Stephen came to visit me in the evenings in the hospital, knowing that he could look forward to a home-cooked meal.  All he needed to do was microwave the supper.  Soup and stews work particularly well.

Hint:  Once I returned home, friends prepared simple suppers for both Stephen and me, which were delicious and most welcome.

Hint:  Ask about strong preferences and intolerances.  Store the supper in containers that your friend does not have to return.  Or, if this is not possible, clearly label the storage containers and offer to pick up the containers.  This is such a huge help!

To all my dear family, friends, and priests who are reading this blog entry:  Thank you for your care, concern, and prayers!

Coram Deo,


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Filed under friendship, Help a Friend Who Is Ill, hospital