July 4 demands cobbler.

As you can tell from the recipes I’ve posted lately, I’ve been on a cobbler kick.

Actually, since I made and posted my blackberry cobbler recipe a few weeks ago, a friend of mine has been nagging me for a blackberry peach cobbler for her. Since I made the plain ole’ blackberry cobbler for a get-together with work friends, she didn’t get to have any. . . . but she was hosting July 4 at her house and her blackberry peach cobbler seemed like the perfect dessert for me to bring.

Blackberry peach may seem like a weird combo, but don’t knock it IMG_3935until you try it. I dreamed it up several years ago after I made a blackberry peach smoothie, and it was delicious. Around the same time, a pie place in town that I really like (The Loving Pie Company), served up a blackberry peach pie—so if people who make pie for a living think it’s a good idea, I had to try it.

Y’all, it was delicious. And definitely worth making again to celebrate Independence Day. So, with no further ado, the recipe. (And, guys, if you haven’t caught on, my cobbler recipes are all variations of the same recipe. So, get the crust recipe here. )

Blackberry Peach Cobbler Filling: 
1 1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons flour
4 cups fresh peaches, peeled and sliced (You can use frozen, but fresh is so, so good. I used Peach Truck peaches.)
3 cups fresh blackberries, rinsed (Once again, you can use frozen, but I got some beautiful organic ones 2 for $5 at Kroger.) 

1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup butter
2 tablespoons sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2.IMG_3939 Follow the directions here to prepare the crust.

3. Make the filling. Combine sugar and flour and mix well. Add peaches, blackberries, water, and vanilla. Stir. Spoon into baking dish and top with butter, cut into smaller pieces.


4. Top with the remaining crust and pinch edges of crust together. Cut slits into the top crust (or use your star cookie cutter) to vent the cobbler. Sprinkle with sugar.


5. Bake at 400 degrees for 50-60 minutes until the crust is golden brown and the filling bubbles. Enjoy warm with vanilla ice cream and friends!

IMG_3942  IMG_3945

Mac and the trip to the vet


 Hey, dudes! It’s me, Mac the Magnificent!

I have a story the world just needs to hear. See, this past weekend, I got hurt. Mandy’s not quite sure what happened (she was at church), but when she came home, I was sure to let her know something was wrong.

Cause, dudes, I don’t cry. Even when Mandy accidentally steps on my feet. Even when I run into something when I’m playing with my stuffed Care Bear or my ewok.

Mac. Don’t. Cry.

But I cried on Sunday when Mandy picked me up. My back hurt!

What I can’t tell her is that is happened when I was jumping off the furniture. I got so excited when she came home and decided to do one of my amazing dismounts and somehow ended up wrenching my back. On Monday, Mandy took me to the vet. My vet says it happens with dogs with long torsos and short legs. I insisted I was not short!

But I’m on some anti-inflamatory meds now and feeling pretty good.

And don’t tell Mandy that I’m jumping off the furniture again. Right. now.

All About Me

Two things happened today on my way to work.

The first is an ongoing issue in my condo complex. Right outside my unit is a large v-shaped speed bump. The curb after this speed bump (and nearest my unit) is painted bright yellow, marking it as a no parking zone. Yet, over the past month, a frequent overnight guest of a neighbor continually parks there, probably because it’s more convenient to get to her friend’s house.

The problem with parking there—beside that it’s a no parking zone—is that because of the location of the car, the speed bump, and the layout of the parking lot, it turns our street from a 2-way street to a 1-way street.

But, instead of thinking about others and assuming the rules don’t apply to her, the driver parks there several times a week and usually overnight.

Then, as I was sitting on Rosa Parks, about to turn left onto Broadway in downtown Nashville, I looked across the street. The oncoming lane of traffic is actually divided into two lanes there. One that goes straight, and one from which you can turn right onto Broadway or go straight.

And a massive pickup truck sat there at the red light, straddling both lanes, while smaller cars attempted to edge past him to the right lane so they could turn onto Broadway and not damage their vehicles in the process.

I get that we all have rights and freedoms. What I don’t get is when exactly we became so entitled and self-focused. My neighbor’s friend parks in a no parking zone because it’s most convenient for her, even though it is ILLEGAL and inconveniences every other resident. This pickup truck driver can straddle the lanes because his truck is huge and nobody can do anything about it. He has the right, so why not exercise it?

I know today that I’ll deal with the same thoughts. What’s easiest for me? What’s most convenient for me? Why shouldn’t I say that remark that isn’t helpful, encouraging, or edifying? It’s my right, isn’t it? 

When those thoughts and feelings come bubbling up, I’m going to make a conscious choice to choose to push them aside. I’m not the most important person in the universe.

Lord, help me to serve others today, even if it means inconveniencing myself. 

Good Things (episode 4)

Just a few of the good things in my life over the last couple of weeks:

  • A good price on a windshield replacement. I called my insurance agent (Shelter) to check the deductible and confirmed what I already knew: the replacement would likely be smaller than my deductible. But the agency suggested I call a couple of companies they often work with and let them know I had my insurance with them. That resulted in a really good price! Thanks, Shelter!
  • A good visit to Missouri during which I really got to spend time with my family and just hang out.
  • Half price shakes at Sonic after 8 p.m. Chocolate-covered banana. Yum.
  • A new opportunity in the form of a new job. I start in August.
  •   Early mornings with Mac. This dog wakes up SO happy, and he makes me happier. Even at 5 a.m.
  • The realization that I am going to hit a deadline without killing myself.
  • A yoga class in which I did not feel sheer hatred for the teacher and her endless planks and downward dog poses. (It was a different teacher and she didn’t make us do a plank once!)
  • Nephew's team playing T-ball
    Nephew’s team playing T-ball

    Watching my nephew play T-ball. It’s pretty much the most anticlimactic and boring sport ever, but he had fun and so did Aunt Mandy!

The Memory Palace

I fell in love with stories a long time ago.

A hero or heroine, an unexpected twist, a truth that somehow applies to my life, a character who voices my thoughts.

I love a good story, whether it’s fiction or non-fiction, family lore or historical. I like to read stories, watch them, and tell a few myself.

So last year, it was no surprise that I got sucked into the podcast “Serial.” I’m a mystery fan and often find myself lost in true crime stories and TV shows. I was late the “Serial” bandwagon, listening to the episodes as I drove to Missouri for Christmas.

And when I finished, I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t have another season to listen to yet, and I hadn’t found an audio book that captured my attention. I needed a new podcast.

That’s when I found “The Memory Palace” by Nate Dimeo. A guy with a journalism background, Nate likes to tell stories, too. When I found the podcast, I started listening—and kept listening until I had listened to every episode. Nate combines two things I love: good storytelling and little-known or little considered bits of history.

Just last weekend, Nate started a new season of “The Memory Palace.” He sometimes calls it the first real season of the podcast, since prior to this it was updated sporadically as he had time and energy to do so. For the next few weeks, he’ll be posting an episode a week and continuing to tell stories in his plaintive, thoughtful way.

If you need something to listen to during your commute, I highly recommend “The Memory Palace.” You’ll learn something, and if nothing else, enjoy a good story.

If you’re in NYC or the West Coast, check out the website for some upcoming live shows. Let me know if you’d like some recommendations of my favorite episodes! 

100 words on going home again

A year was a lifetime.

I used to laugh, as a teenager and young adult, when my parents said the years went by quickly. A year was interminable, an eternity.

But I’m older now, and their words prove true. The high school looks smaller now, less important. There’s a new baseball diamond where there used to be a field, a new road behind the school, more parking behind the gym. Students with the same last names as my classmates walk the halls, children of classmates.

The 2015 graduating class was born the year  I graduated high school. A lifetime.



Dance like no one is watching (or like everyone is)

On Monday night, I made up my mind.

I was going back to the gym for a BodyPump class. (For those who don’t know, BodyPump is one of Les Mills’ many classes taught at many gyms. It features loud music, weights, and a lot of reps. It’s more cardio than strength training. I like it, but haven’t been in pretty much FOREVER.)

So, I came home from work, walked the dog, changed into gym clothes, grabbed a water bottle and hurried over to the gym. I wanted to get there a little early because BodyPump takes some time to set up . . . and I didn’t want to be stuck at the very front of the class or the very back of the room.

When I got to the Y, the lights were off in the group fitness room and music was blaring. Through the frosted glass, I glimpsed another woman in there setting up her bench and weights for class, so I opened the door and wandered in.

As I gathered my bench, mat, and weights, I was surprised to see that there was another woman in the room who I hadn’t seen earlier. I began setting up my station, but she pulled my attention away from my task. She had plugged her phone into the stereo system and was blaring songs from her playlist. While class members wandered in and began setting up for class, she danced and swayed in the middle of the room, snapping her fingers and shuffling her feet, singing along to her favorite lyrics.

More and more people entered; no one acted like this was anything out of the ordinary. The woman switched songs, added a few spins, and kept dancing, hand atop her head. She was wearing a nice office button-down shirt, skinny pants, and I assumed the blazer I’d seen when I laid my purse down at the back of the room was hers.

Class was scheduled to start in 8 minutes and more and more people were pouring into the room, yet still she danced as people set up their spots all around her. She was oblivious, and we were all acting as if we were, too.

Finally, about 5 minutes before class, she turned off her music, unplugged her phone, and slipped into her black pumps. She gathered her jacket and left the room, singing the lyrics of the song she’d just turned off.

I don’t know if this was a regular occurrence for her or if she just had a bad day and thought to only was to redeem it was to dance the day off. But she danced like no one was looking, even though we were all pretending not to.

It was random and hilarious, but part of me just wanted to shout, “Dance on, lady!” 

I dreamed a dream

I dreamed about my grandmother’s house last week.

I’ve often dreamed about my Grandma Ruby’s house, torn down a few years ago, but I can still navigate it in my memories.

But last night, the dream was about my Grandma Polly’s house. A small, old house with a floor furnace that used to scare me. It sits across from my aunt and uncle’s house in a tiny Missouri town I only visit at Christmas now. A new family lives there now, eating dinner in the kitchen where a coat of paint covers up the growth chart on the paneling next to the cellar door, etched with dates and names. Me. My brother. My cousins.

I dreamed about the house the way it used to be. The way it was the last time I saw it when she lived there. I was sleeping in the room that had been my mother’s, in the bed with the bookshelves on the headboard. In the dream, I walked from the kitchen down the hallway darkened by paneling so popular in the ’70s, past the bathroom, the picture of Jesus knocking on a door, my grandparents’ bedroom, and the living room. I remembered it all: the pictures on the wall, the color of the carpet in their bedroom, the bookshelves just inside the living room door where my grandma had displayed the photographs of her grandkids.

Sometimes, I get homesick for the way things used to be. When we could hop in a car on a Sunday afternoon and go see my grandma. She was one of my biggest fans, and I miss her.

Not with the biting grief of those first months after her final stroke, but a gentle grief. A happy grief if there can be such a thing. I am happy that I got to be her granddaughter (the only one), and happy that she is at peace. I am happy that my memories of her are good and that I know she loved me. I am happy that grief still comes, mostly unexpected, because it reminds me of the depth of her love for me.

Good Things (episode 3)

It’s Friday, and it’s been two weeks since my last “Good Things” post. So, with no further ado. . .

  • Two of my favorite podcasts collided this week. I’ve listened to “Stuff You Missed In History Class” for a long time (through several hosts, actually), but ran across Nate DiMeo’s “The Memory Palace” when I was searching for something to fill the void of “Serial.” This week, the ladies at “Stuff You Missed” chatted with Nate! They’re big fans, too!
  • “The Memory Palace” will start releasing new episodes each week on June 21. Subscribe if you like good storytelling. Favorite episodes for me: “The Brothers Booth Schmancy Platinum Remaster Edition,” “High Above Lake Michigan,” and “Episode 65: Two-Dimensional Projectiles.” 
  • Good news and new opportunities.
  • IMG_3875
    Mmm, good! Especially with homemade vanilla ice cream!

    Blackberry cobbler and a fun night laughing and talking with friends.

  • A weekend with NO plans. (I’m tired, people.)
  • Time off soon to see my dad for Father’s Day AND see my oldest nephew play t-ball!
  • Early morning walks with Mac. This little dog wakes up SO happy and it can be contagious. (But if someone could talk him into sleeping in a little on Saturdays, I’d appreciate it!)
  • Coworkers who were so generous to give to people they don’t know and minister to a family that’s grieving.
  • Coffee. It’s ALWAYS a good thing!

“A finished person is a boring person.” Anna Quindlen


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