Ander and Terri My little 2 year old grandson, Ander, is often all smiles. His bumpy start in life has in no way diminished his sheer joy of being on this planet.

He has difficulty speaking and has speech therapy every Monday. Progress is slow, but steady. There are only a few words that he can say clearly. One of them is “happy”.

Ander’s eyes twinkle and his face lights up with his precious smile when he says, “Happy”. It is the only word that he is able to say to express what he is feeling and he says it frequently. Sometimes he throws his little arms around me and says, “Happy”; sometimes he says it as he is running around playing; and sometimes he says it when he is sitting still in a roomful of people he loves.

As I have contemplated Ander’s use of “happy”, I have come to see the emotion of happy in a whole new light. Happy is often thought of as a state of being or a state of mind when things are going well. But what about when things are tough or trying or downright miserable? Can one be happy at those times?

Sure. But it takes effort and a completely different mindset of what it means to be happy.

Rainbow at work

Eight years ago I was diagnosed with an autoimmune illness called vasculitis. As with so many autoimmune illnesses, it can be beastly. Its physical damage is wide ranging and can ring every drop of happiness right out of me. In the words of Ron Weasley when encountering the dementors for the first time, “I felt as if I would never be cheerful again.” I was 49 when I was diagnosed and the life I had worked so hard to achieve was over.

The first 3 months after I was diagnosed, I prayed to die. Living was hard and painful and the horror of what other damage my illness might cause was terrifying. I asked God to please be merciful and take me, but He did not.

As my life lingered on, I had to find ways to be happy.  All around me were reminders of the way my life used to be and those reminders were hazardous to my happiness. It was challenging to figure out how to work around the memories of what I had once had and what I had once been.

garden 2008
After 25 years of having a vegetable garden, this was the last big garden that I was able to have. My daughter, Tricia, and her husband, Tim, surprised me one day in May 2008 and worked all day to get the garden planted. It turned out to be a magnificent garden that year.

One of the most important things I did for my mental well being was to keep a regular journal. An integral part of my journaling was a list of things each day for which I was grateful. Keeping a gratitude list caused me to focus intently on the world around me and to notice things that I had so often overlooked — blades of grass, individual flower petals, the multitude of blues in the sky, dust particles moving through sunbeams, sounds of all kinds, my shoes, breathing in and out, indoor plumbing, the steady presence of The Savior in my life holding me while I descended into the abyss.

My chronic illness brought about new perspectives and made each good thing in my life rich and beautiful and precious. One night as I was taking out the trash, I paused and looked up at the sky. I could see so many stars — far more than I had ever seen from my yard. I live near the city and city lights block the light from all but the brightest stars. On this particular night, however, Heavenly Father gave me a gift — the ability to see more than I ought to have been able to see. It was an amazing blessing.

Most of the time my blessings were not so grand, but I found things each day which caused me to be grateful and HAPPY. I learned to allow myself to feel happiness despite fear and pain and having to live my life with diminished capacities. I became intensely grateful for my family and enjoyed them in ways that I had not imagined possible. Often I have thought that my heart would melt with joy because of something a family member said or did.

Best Grandma Ever
Sometimes my grandsons will have a sleepover at my house. The morning after one of these sleepovers, I awoke at 7:00 am and found this note and the roses laying on the floor outside of my bedroom door. The note says, “Mom-mom, you are the best grandma ever!”

I learned to do new things and began blogging. At first I had a personal blog, then a couple of years later I opened up my food blog. I learned a few things about photography and have learned, for the most part, how to compensate for eye issues when looking through a camera. Blogging became a huge blessing in my life, namely because of the wonderful people I have met from around the world.

Jerusalem at sunset Oct 2010
Another miraculous blessing — I was able to go on a 14-day Mediterranean cruise with my husband and his family in Oct 2010. One of our stops was in Israel and we were able to visit Jerusalem. I stayed healthy for the entire trip.

As many of you know, I am a nurse. I went back to school when I was in my mid forties and got my RN. I only got to work for about 11 months before I was diagnosed and became too ill to get off of the couch for very long. My boss was gracious and held my job for six weeks. I truly believed that I would be well enough to return to work within that time, but by the 5th week I realized that work was out of the question. I was devastated. The day that I finally removed my uniforms from my closet was a terrible, sad day. I thought that I would never again be able to practice nursing and I was markedly sad. However, God was merciful and after 10 months of misery He made it possible for me to start working again. I can only work parttime, but it is enough and I am so very, very thankful to be able to work at all.

Jesus and surgeons
I often feel The Savior with me when I am working. He has helped me many times. It is a testament to me of his awareness of all of us and our circumstances. He loves us. I know he does.

So now, eight years into this strange life that I live, my health appears to be relatively stable. I still have to take meds to keep my immune system suppressed, but all-in-all I’m doing astoundingly better than my doctors have expected me to do. To help me reclaim, or maintain, a bit of my former identity, I like to set up little challenges for myself — can you lift that heavy-ish item? can you run across the yard? can you still sit cross legged on the floor?; can you hold your breath for 30 seconds, 45, 60?; can you still lift your leg up onto the counter top?; can you give even the grumpiest patient something to smile about?; can you love the unlovable?; can you still do math in your head?

Can you start blogging again?

Yes, I can start blogging again. I can return to something that both challenges me and blesses me. I can blog and be happy.

I never meant to stop blogging; just the opposite as a matter of fact. I had many blogging plans for 2015, but by June of this year my health required me to take a step back. As I re-examined my life, I felt okay about not blogging.

There were good days and bad days. There were weeks when I never even looked at my blog. I forgot my password. My camera laid untouched for months. My kitchen was relatively untouched as well. I tucked inside myself emotionally and replaced blogging with scrapbooking. I have been working on documenting my life and the lives of my father, who died when I was 24, my paternal grandparents and my maternal grandmother. I reexamined my life and made time for exploring my soul.

blog logo
Terrrrrri…come baaaaaack!

Lately, I have been feeling the call of my blog to come back and start again. I have thought about it for about a month now and am happy with my decision. I have had a lot of encouragement from my daughter, Katie, from friends at work and from many of you.

My heart has truly been touched by those of you who have sent me emails and left me messages on my June 1, 2015 post. Thank you for your prayers; I am so very, very grateful for them. I honestly never knew that people I have never met would have such kind and loving feelings for me. I have gotten misty-eyed more than once.

So, I’m coming back to blogging. I will post a new recipe on Monday of next week. I’m pretty sure that if you live in the United States, you’re not interested in anything new right now because of Thanksgiving on Thursday. Yay for Thanksgiving! (By the way, my grandsons are helping with Thanksgiving this year. Kade (6) is making toast — hahahaha; Gavin (9) is making green jello with pomegranate seeds — a recipe from his other grandma; and Ander (2) says that he wants to help with the cooking in general — he loves to help stir things and lick the spoon.)

The Boys

Hi. My name is Terri and I am happy.

Terri in John's new Lazy-Boy
This is me sitting in a new Lazy Boy that I got for my husband last year for Father’s Day. I’m 5′ 5″ so you can get a good idea at how big this chair is! :)


Salty Honey and Peanut Butter Bars

One of life’s most lovely flavor combinations, peanut butter and honey, comes together in Salty Honey and Peanut Butter Bars. The salt makes the honey really shine.

Salty Honey and Peanut Butter Bars

Happy June, everyone! I’m so glad to be back with you. I hope that April and May were good months for you; one day blurred into the next for me, but they were days filled with life…in all of its joyous, curious, confusing, brilliant, vexing, wild and wondrous adventures. I am still breathing, in and out with a few snores thrown in for variety.

Oh, which reminds me — here’s a bit of advice for the next time a doctor or nurse listens to your lungs. When you are told to “breath”, it means to take a deep breath in and then let it out. Don’t take a breath in and hold it unless your are specifically told to do so. We are listening for air passage through your lungs. If you take in a breath and hold it, we only get half a sound. If air isn’t moving, we can’t hear it. Sneaky air.

Inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale.

Don’t breath too fast, though; you may pass out and if that happens, there will be all kinds of drama and extra charting. And potentially thousands of dollars worth of testing to “rule out” other possible causes for you passing out. Yes, I just made a dig at the medical profession. You can thank the lovely practice of litigation for that one.

Now look what you have made me do. I’ve gotten all distracted. Salty Honey and Peanut Butter Bars are where we are supposed to be.

Salty Honey and Peanut Butter Bars

One of my favorite sandwiches when I was a kid was peanut butter and honey. I loved the way the honey made the bread kind of crunchy, especially when the honey was spread on store-bought white bread. It was like bread candy.

I did an internet search on why honey causes some breads to get that crunchy layer, but there were no scientific answers available. Maybe I used the wrong search terms. Does anyone have a good, solid answer?

Salty Honey and Peanut Butter Bars

Peanut butter. It’s one of my favorite foods. In college, I used to eat it with a spoon. Sometimes my roommates and I would decompress after a tough day by eating spoonsful of peanut butter dotted with chocolate chips. What a great life!

Recently, in a moment of fervent peanut butter madness, I put together these Honey & Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Bars. The flavor profile is salty-sweet and I can only imagine what these bars must taste like with the drizzle of semi-sweet chocolate. (I am pronouncing curses upon my chocolate allergy right now.)

For added flavor and texture, I threw in some rough-chopped, salted peanuts. The soft crunch of the peanuts satisfies the need for textural changes in the chewiness of the bars. Salt from the peanuts, as well as added salt, offers both contrast and flavor enhancement to the sweetness of the honey and sugar.

Salty Honey and Peanut Butter Bars

No doubt, a variety of dry cereals or granola-type ingredients can be substituted for the Rice Krispies and/or nuts. I’m sure that this recipe would make an excellent granola bar!

Be warned, these Salty Honey and Peanut Butter Bars are slightly on the addicting side, as witnessed by my son in-law and the three grandkadiddles. Actually the testimonial comes mostly from the fact that my son in-law and His Majesty, The Two Year Old, stood at the kitchen counter for about 30 minutes happily cutting off small squares of the bars and eating them.

Salty Honey and Peanut Butter BarsPrint green and blue-2

Prep Time: 15 mins | Cook Time: 10 mins | Total Time:  1 hour 30 mins — includes cooling time
Servings: 36 bars

Sweet and salty collide in these chewy peanut buttery bars. Rice Krispies and chopped peanuts add a soft crunch.


  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 5 cups Rice Krispies cereal
  • 1 1/2 cups salted peanuts, rough-chopped, divided use
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, optional


  1. Line a 9- x 13-inch pan with aluminum foil, allowing some of the foil to hang over each end of the pan. Butter foil and set pan aside.
  2. In a 4-quart sauce pot, stir together the honey and sugar. Cook over medium heat about 5-7 minutes until the mixture just starts to bubble and the sugar has dissolved.
  3. Turn off heat and move pot to a cool burner. Stir in the peanut butter and salt until mixture is smooth. Add the Rice Krispies and 1 cup of the peanuts. Mix together well. The mixture will be stiff. Turn out into prepared pan and press mixture evenly into pan with the back of a large spoon. Immediately sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of peanuts over the top of the bars. Press gently, but firmly, onto the top of the bars, just firm enough for the peanuts to stick to the top of the bars.
  4. Cool bars to room temperature, 30 minutes – 1 hour, before cutting. Using the foil ends, lift the cooled mixture from the pan and place on a cutting board. Pull back the foil and cut cooled mixture into bars. Recommendation: To make cutting easier, warm a sharp, sturdy knife under hot, running water. Make one or two slices into the bars, then rinse knife under hot water again and make another one or two cuts. Repeat as often as needed until all bars have been cut.
  5. If topping with chocolate chips, place bars on a cooling rack with wax paper below the rack. In a microwave safe bowl, cook the chocolate chips for 30 seconds on high. Remove bowl and stir chips. Return to microwave and cook for another 30 seconds on high. Stir well. If the chocolate is not smooth and thin enough to drizzle, return to microwave for an additional 10 seconds, then stir. Repeat if necessary. Drizzle bars with melted chocolate. Note: DO NOT add water to the chocolate; the chocolate will seize and will be unusable.

Salty Honey and Peanut Butter Bars

When you’re done making the Salty Honey and Peanut Butter Bars, make these delicousnesses:

Peanut Butter Cookies with Coconut Oil
Peanut Butter Cookies with Coconut Oil
Blondie 7-Layer Magic Cookie Bars
Blondie 7-Layer Magic Cookie Bars
Cheesecake Squares
Cheesecake Squares

Winner of Smokin-O’s and the Barbecue Tools!

Spicy Brown Sugar and Mustard Grilled ChickenTa-da-da-daaaaaah! We have a winner of the Smokin-O’s and the Weber 3-Piece Barbecue Tool Set. It is Cathy Janish. Cathy said, “COOL Product! We love, of course, steaks, burgers, sausage etc.. but we have now included TURKEY on the grill. Yum!!”

She is absolutely right about the Smokin-O’s. The hubsters cooked steaks and pork ribs with the Smokin-O’s on board for Mother’s Day. Outstanding! It was the best Mother’s Day dinner ever.

Tune back in tomorrow, everybody. I have a fun, super easy treat that kids and adults alike enjoy — Honey & Peanut Butter Rice Krispie treats drizzled with chocolate! You’re gonna love ‘um.

A note to Cathy: I will contact you through the email address you enclosed when you left your comment on the Giveaway post. Please watch for it and be sure to check your spam box if you don’t see it in your inbox.

Have a great day everyone. Talk to you soon. ~Terri

Spicy Brown Sugar and Mustard Grilled Chicken and a Giveaway!

The sauce for this Spicy Brown Sugar and Mustard Grilled Chicken comes together quickly, only requiring 2-4 ingredients! For extra dynamic flavor, add a couple of Smokin-O’s to the grill along with the chicken, then brush the sauce on the chicken the last 10-12 minutes of grilling. Chicken never had it so good.

Spicy Brown Sugar and Mustard Grilled Chicken
Have I got an exciting post for YOU! All. All of you. All ya’ll. Individually and collectively. (By the way, when I lived in Texas I was told that “ya’ll” is singular and “all ya’ll” is plural. I grew up in South Carolina and “ya’ll” was both singular and plural. Just FYI.)

Several weeks ago I was contacted by Shelley at Smokin-O’s to test their product and then possibly blog about it. I love trying products that are new to me, particularly anything that has to do with food or kitchenware. Make-up and fingernail polish do it for some gals, but for me I get all twitterpated over the prospects of a new seasoning salt or potato peeler. Continue Reading

Sourdough and More Sourdough

Sourdough Bread

My brother in-law, Dave, is responsible for the fact that my ENTIRE kitchen is bathed in a fine layer of flour and has the unmistakable odor of something fermenting. You see, Dave has gotten into making sourdough bread recently, which just happened to coincide with plans that I had been making to get back into sourdough starters and bread making. Dave’s enthusiasm and success gave me the extra push I needed to plunge myself wholeheartedly back into an old favorite hobby. Continue Reading