Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake

Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake

½ cup of butter, softened

1 cup of granulated sugar

2 eggs

2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

2 cups of all-purpose flour, divided use

1 ½ teaspoons of baking powder

½ teaspoon of baking soda

½ teaspoon of salt

1 cup of buttermilk

2 cups of finely peeled apples

1 ¼ cups of packed organic brown sugar

½ cup of chopped nuts

1 to 2 Tablespoons of cinnamon

1/3 cup of melted butter

Drizzle topping: (optional)

½ cup of semisweet chocolate chips

1 teaspoon of shortening


Directions: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan; set aside. In a large mixing bowl, beat together ½ cup of softened butter, and sugar until well-combined. Beat in eggs and vanilla.

Combine 2 2/3rds cups of flour, the baking powder, soda and salt; add alternately to beaten mixture with buttermilk, beating until combined. Fold in apples.

While cake is cooling, combine chocolate pieces and shortening in a small saucepan or micro-safe bowl. Melt over very low heat, stirring until blended, or microwave on low power until melted, stirring to blend. Before serving, drizzle topping over cake. Makes 12 to 16 servings.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Homemade Pumpkin Pie

Homemade Pumpkin Pie

By, Chef Gina Meyers

1 Pumpkin (small, Trade Joes sells pumpkins for pies)

3 eggs

1 cup of Evaporated Milk, Vitamin D Added

1 stick of butter (melted)

Dash of salt

¾ cup of Organic Brown Sugar

1 Tablespoon of vanilla extract

1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon of ground nutmeg

1 ready to eat Graham Cracker Crust

Directions: Wash pumpkin, cut in half, remove stem and scoop out seeds and remove strings. Place cut side down on a baking sheet and bake until tender, about one hour at 350 degrees.

Once cooled, peel, smash, and mix pumpkin until smooth. In a large bowl, add milk, melted butter, pumpkin puree, eggs, dash of salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla extra and blend with an electric mixer until smooth. Pour into crust and bake at 350 degrees for one hour.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Pumpkin Pomegranate Bread




Pumpkin Pomegranate Bread

By, Gina Meyers

1 (15 ounce) canned pumpkin puree (spiced)

1 ½ cups of granulated sugar

½ cup of vegetable or coconut oil

¼ cup of water

2 eggs

2 ¼ cups of all-purpose flour (if you are gluten-free, substitute Nu Flour)

½ Tablespoon of ground cinnamon

½ Tablespoon of ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon of baking soda

1 teaspoon of salt

¼ cup of pomegranate kernels (arils)

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray with either extra virgin olive oil or canola non-stick cooking spray three 9x5 inch loaf pans. In a large bowl, combine sugar, pumpkin puree, oil, water, and eggs. Beat until smooth. Blend in flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt. If using the spice pumpkin puree, no need for additional spices. Fold in pomegranate arils. Bake for one hour or until toothpick comes out clean from the center of the bread.
Pomegranate Icing
1 cup of powdered sugar
2 1/2 Tablespoons of POM (Pomegranate Juice)
Mix in a bowl with  a spoon, add more powdered sugar if needed or a 1/2 Tablespoon at a time of pomegranate juice if mixture needs it. Drizzle mixture over your baked and cooled Pumpkin Pomegranate Bread.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Whole Grain Pomegranate Sangria Bread

Whole Grain Pomegranate Sangria Bread
By, Chef Gina Meyers

1 Tablespoon of Cornmeal

1 cup of quick-cooking rolled oats

1 cup of buttermilk, divided

½ cup of True Temptation Pomegranate Sangria

2 cups of all-purpose flour

1 cup of whole wheat flour

2 Tablespoons of packed light brown sugar

1 Tablespoon of baking powder

1 ½ teaspoons of caraway seeds

1 teaspoon of baking soda

1 teaspoon of salt

6 tablespoons of butter or margarine, chilled, cut into pieces.

2 eggs, lightly beaten, divided

½ cup of currants

½ cup of pomegranate seeds

Directions: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Sprinkle large baking sheet with cornmeal. In a bowl, combine oats with ½ cup of buttermilk; ¼ cup of pomegranate sangria let stand ten minutes. Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine all-purpose and whole wheat flour(s), sugar, baking powder, caraway seeds, baking soda and salt. With a pastry blender or two knives, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs: set aside. Reserve 1 Tablespoon of egg; combine remaining egg with remaining buttermilk (1/2 cup), plus ¼ cup of Pomegranate Sangria. Stir into oat mixture; stir in currants and pomegranate seeds. Stir buttermilk mixture into flour mixture until stiff dough forms. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface. Knead dough until smooth, 1-2 minutes. Shape dough into round loaf; place on baking sheet. Brush top of dough with remaining egg. With serrated knife, cut an “X” in top of bread, extending cut over sides of loaf down to baking sheet. Let stand in warm place for fifteen minutes. Bake 40-45 minutes or until loaf sounds hollow when tapped on bottom. Cool slightly on pan on wire rack before serving.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Ghost Town, by, Alan R. Hill

The Ghost Town

By, Alan R. Hill

We stood on the cold corner across the street from our high school, huddled together against the wind. The news was beyond our comprehension. It took our breath away. What could we do? It was November 22, 1963.  I left for the Marine Corps in the beginning of March and my friend shortly after.


Four years later we were both back home, safe and somewhat sound. In late May we departed for a trip across the United States, to the East Coast and beyond.


We crested the ridge and the vista of the valley lay open before us. A ribbon of road as far as the eye could see. The rolling yellows and greens held in place by a powder blue sky, all around and above. One glance at my friend’s appreciative face and flashing brown eyes told me he saw what I did.  


It was the Wyoming prairie lands we were entering. We rolled over the top and the weight of gravity propelled us downward. We fell quietly, in tandem with the pristine landscape, part and parcel of it, like a hawk sweeping down from on high.


 As the road leveled and straightened we saw some movement in the sage brush to our right. Two wild horses, a white stallion and his roan mare. Shiney coats all. They ran along side us, we slowed and stopped. They continued on ahead of us and they stopped. They started a kind of dance on the edge of the roadway while tossing their heads to and fro. Then committed, they ran, hooves ringing hallow on the asphalt, across the road, off and into the prairie and away.


We gasped for breath, the sight was so beautiful, the experience so elemental.  They disappeared into the depths of the prairie, eventually merging with the variegated yellows and greens. Apparently swallowed by that expanse. Or perhaps re-entering a portal into another time from which they had only momentarily appeared. A loud “clunk”, broke the silence, transmission in gear we continued on our way. A wary eye on the gas gauge, it was getting low. There was a turn up ahead and it looked like the only one we might see for days. We took it.


There was a one pump gas station on the way into town. Relieved we pulled in, but it was deserted. We got out of the car and looked around. The back door on the second story of the worn house that fronted the property, opened. An old man stepped out and came down the rickety flight of stairs. His hair was white, eyes sky blue, he was tall and there was a calmness, and a dignity about him.


He came over to us standing by the pump. “Where you young fellas headed?” he asked stopping to talk to us, rather than going directly to the pump. We explained we were headed out across country, “going to New York and the World’s Fair in Canada.” We continued to talk as he approached the pump.


“If I was a little younger, I’d throw my knapsack in the back there and come along with you,” he said simply, while removing the pump. There was a stillness and quietness in his motion.


At his words I could see a lanky youth with a full head of thick brown curly hair, slinging his knapsack in the backseat of the car, decidedly; as if the direction of time was no object.


He filled our tank with gas, we talked a bit more, paid, wished each other well, and leaving him there, drove into town.


It looked like an old cowboy town. The street was unpaved and the stores and shops which were all closed were bordered by a wooden platform that ran in front of them along both sides of the street. Any paint long ago faded revealing a uniform grayness. Where once their sprouted a rich and vibrant oiled wood, pungent and resounding from the heels of passersby, the boards now complained and ached, and fairly groaned with their history. But it may have been the wind I heard.


When the storefront street came to an end, there were homes. But they also were closed. Made mere houses by boards nailed to windows and doors, signaling absence and barring entrance to their worlds. The wind made a circle of dust that ran up and down the street. Like mini tornadoes in a fast food world, impatient and unable to commit to a full run, hither and yon, starting, stopping, appearing, now gone. From whence does the wind come?


Retracing our steps we were surprised to find an open restaurant. The one shop on the street that was open appeared closed by virtue of its proximity to the others. We looked in, there were people inside. We stepped across the threshold, and back in time. All eyes turned to look at us. We strode to the counter, and sat on the unstable stools effortlessly maintaining center stage. Exchanging the temptation for a mad spin on the stools, to slow half revolutions for the sake of decorum, the seats themselves protesting their years of service loudly with each screeching turn.


 “Where you young fellas headed?” we were asked.


 “Where’re ya from?” another shouted.


 “Headed to New York and up from San Francisco,” we explained.


“What are you “sour dough’s” going to be doing in these parts?” we were asked, amid a round of laughter.


What’s a “sour dough” I thought? Later, I realized it was a reference to the long gone gold rush days of San Francisco and our famous sour dough bread.


 “We were running out of gas,” we answered. “What happened here?” we asked.


“Well, used to be a river there,” said one of the men as he pointed out the window of the small old restaurant. We followed his finger to a red gorge, like a scar in the earth, which must have been the river.


 “What happened?” we asked.


 “Dried up” we were told.


 “Used to do some mining too”, said another.


 “Mostly everyone gone now though,” added a third.


We ate and conversed with the remaining citizens of the town, after which we again said our farewells. Then we walked about the town a bit and took a few photographs. The empty houses with barred doors, the empty wind swept streets.


We passed the one pump gas station on the way out of town. I caught the blue eyes of the old man as we drove past and waved. He returned the salutation.


When our eyes met, an instant before our arms moved, there was eternity unbidden. It was like coming upon a deer in a meadow. You can glimpse it but can’t hold it.  I think the old man knew it, too.


As we drove on I had a feeling he was in the back seat traveling with us, eager for life and alert, running his fingers through his long curly hair as he leaned forward to say something to us, his enthusiasm making us laugh.


It was the summer of 1968. In less than a week we were in New York City. 

We heard the news on the radio. On June 6th we had our suits pressed.  The Chinese Laundry storefront looked harmless enough, and very small. We were a step behind Napoleon Solo as in the Man From UNCLE. We were led behind the counter through the curtain into a cavernous labyrinth of the bowels of some huge hotel. We left our suits, and waited feeling naked and vulnerable.


Next day we joined the solemn procession at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral. Walking silently sadly, down the aisle and around the closed casket.  What could we do? We paid our respects along with the others. It didn’t seem enough. Both brothers gone, first John now Bobby.


The channel of time carried us on, and swept us away. The Saint Lawrence River was beautiful. We arrived in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. We were surprised they spoke French? The World Fair had ended in October 1967, it was now an expo. Most of the pavilions lived on, what we saw there was an exhibit called “Man and his World.”


Alan Hill (Alanrhill2015@gmail.com 559449-1970 © July 12, 2015.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

The Mind, Body, and Spirit: The Balancing Act, by, Marie Lavin, MSW, LCSW

The Mind Body and Spirit



In honor of the passing of Dr. Wayne Dyer, I am sharing my personal growth workbook, Manifesting Magnificence for free on kindle (till September 5th, 2015) . Dr. Dyer's publisher is offering his movie, The Shift for free too Serendipity Presents: Manifesting Magnificence . Please enjoy an excerpt from Manifesting Magnificence: A Personal Growth Workbook, by

Marie Lavin, MSW, LCSW.

Marie Lavin MSW,LCSW
Edited by: Susan Bierzychudek
© Divine Healing Energy 2015
Contributor to Manifesting Magnificence: A Personal Growth Workbook
© Serendipity Press, all rights reserved, 2015



The Balancing Act

The mind, body and spirit, in their perfect state, act to support one another. But in our stressed and scattered lives, that perfect state is not always the norm. Attaining a perfect harmony of these three will lead us to a peaceful inner balance, allowing us to open to opportunities that are presented, and to be our very best selves.


It is important to identify ways in which we can change our thoughts and behavioral patterns to bring our mind, body and spirit into balance. Recognizing patterns that may once have served, but no longer work for us, is a critical part of this work.


First let’s address how the mind, body, and spirit fall out of perfect balance. When we are not taking care of ourselves—not paying attention, not listening to our basic needs of hunger and sleep, or becoming overwhelmed by our everyday lives—we tilt off kilter. We lose our balance when we are involved with addictions to alcohol, drugs, food, shopping, gossiping or working, for example. When we are in those addicted states, we become distracted and lose our focus on balance. We may use those addictions because they feel comfortable, often because we’ve been that way so long that we simply don’t know another way to be. It’s like wearing old comfortable shoes that may be held together by threads, barely giving us the support we need. We may think those tattered shoes are better than a new pair of shoes that feel stiff and need breaking in. Old patterns feel comfortable and predictable, despite the fact that they’re no longer useful. New patterns of thinking or behaving may need the same gradual breaking in before they feel natural and right. But the result is worth the work, many times over.


One common example of a behavior pattern that may no longer serve us is avoidance. We may not want to examine our tendency to procrastinate. It may feel like too much work to change that pattern, in which we conveniently back-burner issues we’d rather avoid. Our old pattern allows us to think that we’ll deal with the issue or task tomorrow. But when tomorrow comes we feel disappointed in ourselves, often opting to do something that will distract us from that feeling—perhaps focusing on an addiction to gossip or alcohol or food. That distraction is just another pattern that is not serving us.


It takes work to balance our mind, body and spirit. It takes time and patience, and the desire to move to a more peaceful inner harmony. It also helps to identify what behavior and thought patterns need to change. At its foundation, this work is about self-love. But how do we begin to work on our issues? The first step is to recognize that our behavior and thought patterns are interfering with a healthy, balanced lifestyle. Then we need to take small, manageable steps to find ways to make the changes. Part of your success will be in discovering which healing modality works most effectively for you.


Looking at my own journey towards greater balance, it was energy work that allowed me to release the blocks of thought and behavior patterns that were not serving me. That modality was such a perfect fit for me that I found myself compelled to become a practitioner, helping to teach others how to become their best selves. Energy work may also be your key to a better balance of mind, body and spirit.


Buy Manifesting Magnificence: A Personal Growth Workbook

Thursday, March 26, 2015

7 Steps To My Writing Process, Why I Write, by, Carrie Smith

Carrie Smith, a fellow Bewitched Television fan and friend, shares her thoughts on the writing process and candidly shares, "why and how she writes."

7 Steps To My Writing Process, Why I Write
By, Carrie Smith

1. I've always subscribed to the theory that anyone can write--and write well. What matters most is the idea; syntax and grammar is secondary. In that light, a vivid imagination is paramount and style will develop over time. When I write, I start by jotting down ideas first and worry about structure later. I have volumes of titles and opening sentences which I look back through for inspiration.
2. I give awesome feedback when asked to critique/edit someone else's work but I am my own worst enemy. I have a very hard time deciding when something I write is "done."
3. Learning other languages has helped tremendously with learning grammar.
4. I'm most comfortable writing creative nonfiction/memoir. Taking creative license with events from my own life is therapeutic and helps to give closure. Putting something funny or troublesome onto paper forces me to examine all the details and think about them from other perspectives.
5. I have a hard time sharing my work. I'm very protective of it because in my eyes, it's never good enough.
6. I wish I was better at writing fiction. I'm too consumed by the actions taking place and too often skip over smaller details which would help the reader understand why they're happening.
7. My first publication was a in 2004 in a local writers column in the Gannett News syndicate. It led to proceedings to appear on a talk show for public television. Unfortunately, the host died before my episode could be filmed...

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