joy in a mason jar

It seems like a faraway memory but it was only a few weeks ago, when I

gathered the family around our patio picnic table to feast.

At the time, it seemed too hot to cook, so I robbed all the chilly morsels

from our refrigerator, added a few items from the store

and grabbed a couple of bunches of flowers.

We circled bread around the table, wpid-20150610_191531.jpg

fist bumped while reaching toward plates in unison,


our eyes devoured the array of colors before a single bite,


inside jokes usher contagious giggles


and gulps of both sweet and tart coolant will always be a distant second

to the refreshing joy of family.

We cleared the table, marveled at the effectiveness of a dollar store fly zapper

and shuffled a deck of card to end the night.


At day’s end, this vase of store-bought flowers flanked the empty table.

Then the real heat hit Oregon.

As Carl and I limped past the table to spray water upon our grass

known as straw and our heat stroked flowers,

the mason jar flowers stood tall.

Our dinners were held before oscillating fans and every once in a while,

I would spy an inch of water in the jar and fill it.

It is not an exaggeration that I survive the heat and little else.

It never occurred to me to bring the flowers inside to be enjoyed

in our house known as the sauna.

After 3 weeks,the flowers were placed among

the compost heap.

Two bunches of flowers whisper to me,


in the harshest and most unbearably hot seasons,

joy remains.


By a slip of my pinky finger (I blame the heat),
I pressed publish before this post was finished
and (shudder) or edited.
Oops…sorry email subscribers!

Instead of what I had originally planned for this post,
this Friday (and hopefully subsequent Fridays),
I will post my 5 small joys of the week.

Until Friday,

Seek joy.

Embrace joy.

Believe in joy,

even when it seems like a faraway memory.

Winter Favorite…



It’s always important to have “go to” recipes…this has been one of my personal favorites for the last year…my family has loved it and I count no fewer than 4 times that I made it to take to friends that needed a meal in times of distress or illness.  When I would mention that I was bringing meatloaf…the responses although grateful, carried a  tone that must have been attributed to memories of dried out meat loafs of the past.

I guarantee you will love this recipe…it’s quick…it’s easy…has only a few ingredients and although it seems a bit crazy…I think you will add it to your own list of “go to” recipes for the winter…

Cranberry Upside-Down Meat Loaf

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup of whole berry cranberry sauce*

2 lb. extra-lean ground beef

3/4 cup non-fat half and half ( or you can use regular or even milk)**

3/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs

1/2 cup egg substitute ( I use 2 eggs)

1 tsp. onion powder


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray 9×5 loaf pan with cooking spray.  Sprinkle sugar in bottom of loaf pan; mash cranberry sauce and spread over sugar.  Combine, beef, half and half, bread crumbs, eggs or egg substitute and onion powder in large bowl; mix thoroughly and shape into loaf.  Place in pan.  Bake 50-60 minutes until meat is cooked through.  Remove from oven and let stand for 5-10 minutes; invert onto platter carefully before serving.  Spoon any sauce over the loaf.

*The first time I made this recipe, I accidentally used the whole can of cranberries…it makes a lot of sauce and my family likes to use it on top of rice…so suit yourself.

**If you use milk instead of half and half…you may need to use less liquid due to the difference in thickness.

Well, I can already smell my meat loaf cooking now…this time I made two…because leftovers are delightful!!!

Happy Eating!


****Special thanks to The Busy Mom’s Make It Quick Cookbook by Jyl Steinback