The New Year, a New Start

By Rhonda Woods

Hello everyone!

I hope you, your family and friends have had a wonderful Christmas. Ours was hectic, as usual, but odd at the same time.  We all knew something was missing, yet went through all the motions for our family, especially the children who did not notice our loss of happiness. I have tried to recall last Christmas, but it is pretty much is a blur.

By the time this is posted, we will have reached one year since the passing of my sweet husband on January 4. So much has happened in a year.  Through the good and bad times, trials and blessings, the one thing that remains unwavering is God.  He has never left me.  He has let me pour my heart out to Him on innumerable days and nights.  He has answered my prayers, allowed me rest and calmed my anxiety. I know the emptiness and uncertainty I have felt almost daily will part slowly like dark clouds that reveal the beauty of bright days ahead. God has a plan for my life and I am looking forward to opening my eyes and heart to His will. My faith and hope is for many changes, a new start, a new chapter and happiness.

Food brings happiness to many.  Sometimes it is a particular food that comforts us.  I like to think of the feeling you get from eating a comfort food as your “Ratatouille” moment.  If you’ve seen the movie, it’s the moment the food critic take a bite of the dish, Ratatouille, commonly know as a peasant dish made of root vegetables, was served.  One bite and he reminisced of his childhood and a version of this favorite dish made by his mother to comfort him. One of my comfort foods is Pound Cake, Chocolate Pound Cake, to be exact.  My great-grandmother “Doodle” made the best pound cake.  my grandsonThe texture was smooth and dense.  Lemon, AKA “Wemen” Pound Cake, as my grandson would say as a young child, (one of my favorite pictures of him).  It is still is his favorite.  We will celebrate his birthday in January with a family meal, most likely Nana’s Big Lasagna, Salad, Garlic Bread and, of course Lemon Pound Cake with Lemon Icing Drizzle.

I have used several pound cake recipes using all butter, half butter and half Butter Flavored Crisco, and all Butter Flavored Crisco.  When I baked wedding cakes, pound cake was used for sturdy stacking of the decorated tiers. All butter will result in a shorter cake due to the amount of water in butter, while more height can be achieved with all Butter Flavored Crisco.  Pound Cake was named due to the ingredients being weighed by the pound.  The three pound cake recipes I have made the most are South American Pound Cake that uses all Butter Flavored Crisco, Lemon, Orange and Vanilla Extracts, Chocolate Pound Cake, and most recently, Million Dollar Pound Cake. Now don’t think I left out an ingredient when you read this recipe.  I thought so, myself the first time I made it.  It uses no chemical leavener; baking powder or baking soda.  The leaving comes from the half dozen eggs, a natural leavener.  The amount of milk is not a misprint either..  Go ahead and try this one and you’ll add it to your favorite recipes, also.

As your start the new year and resolve to lose weight by dieting, just remember, “It’s not what you eat, but how much of what your eat!”.

May God bless you and your family as he continues to bless ours,

Chef Woods

 

Million Dollar Pound Cake

1-10″ Tube Pan

 

4 c.plain flour

3 c. sugar

1 lb. butter, room temperature

2 t. Lemon Extract (or your favorite flavor)

6 large eggs, room temperature

3/4 c. milk, room temperature

 

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.,

Prepare the tube pan by greasing, flouring and lining the bottom with parchment or waxed paper (I call this” insurance”, as it insures the cake will come out of the pan!”

Sift flour and set aside.

Cream sugar, butter and extract until light and fluffy.  This will take 3-5 minutes and when a small amount is rubbed between your fingers, does not feel grainy because the sugar has been dissolved in the fat (butter).

Add eggs, one at a time, mixing until smooth after each one.

Add sifted flour and milk, alternately, and then mix on medium speed for 1 minute.

Spoon and spread he cake batter evenly into the prepared tube pan.

Bake for 1 hour and 40 minutes or until the cake tests done.

Remove from oven and let the cake cool in the pan for 30 minutes before removing from the pan.

Store the completely cooled cake at room temperature in an airtight container or the cake may be wrapped and frozen for up to 3 months.

 

 

 

New Years’ Day is every day

By Janet Prince

Each year as one year comes to an end and the next begins we all set goals for ourselves…lose weight, exercise more, etc.  Then about a week into the new year, the goals are starting to fall by the wayside and we say we will try again next year.

Well, with each dawning morning comes the start of a new year whether its January 1st or April 30th.   Each day brings us new opportunities to be better and to do better with our lives.  Don’t look at your goals as a failure, look at them as another opportunity to try again to succeed.

This year I have decided to set goals for myself that are more inward focused instead outward for the world to see.  I have always enjoyed journaling and plan to return to that in 2019.  When my mother passed away in 2010, I journaled every night for three years.  Each night was a letter to her sharing about my day, asking for advice and letting her know how much I missed and needed her, as well as letting my tear drops fall freely.  Journaling provided me a way to heal my broken heart and it worked.  2018 was a very hard year for me emotionally and physically.  The physical will heal over time, but the emotional hurt I experienced will live with me forever.  Returning to journaling and writing a letter each night to my mother will help me heal in both.  The act of putting pen to paper and words that will live on far beyond me is sharing a roadmap of my life for my girls.  Although they have walked with me through the good and the bad times, they will be able to read how I truly felt inside about events that happened to me and to them.  If you have never journaled, I encourage you to try it.  You can journal everyday or once a week or even once a month.  Journaling is a place to share the hard times, but also the very happy times in your life.

booksAnother goal I am setting is to read more books.  Many enjoy reading on a Kindle or an I-pad or even their phone, but I’m old fashioned and love to hold a book in my hand and feel the pages.  I have a stack of books on my nightstand that I thought I would read while I was healing from my back surgery this past summer, but because it was so painful, I couldn’t concentrate.  Now that I’m six months into my 18-month recovery, reading brings me joy again!

As always, volunteering is a huge part of my life.  My club, the Woman’s Club of the Midlands, just made and donated a bookshelf filled with books and magazines to Lexington Medical Center Oncology.  The books and magazines are for the patients, as well as their caregivers, when they are receiving their treatments.  The books are there for them to borrow and will be added to each month.  This is a project that was so very simple but will bring such joy to so many.  I encourage you to find a place where you can volunteer so you can feel the joy that giving brings to your life.

2019 is beginning on a very happy note for our family as our oldest daughter is getting married on the 4th!  Fireworks will not only be fired off on New Year’s Eve, but also as we send her off to her happily ever after!

I wish you all a very happy 2019 and encourage you to set goals that make you happy and that are just for you!

Reflecting

By Tina Michelle Cameron

As 2018 is winding down and 2019 is just around the corner, I have been reminiscing about everything that has happened to me this year. Overall, it has been a wonderful year, but, has also been filled with sadness in the passing of my beloved Yorkie, Haley. I have been blessed to have opportunities come my way such as being accepted into an amazing RN to BSN program at The University of Alabama; being chosen to be a blogger for Every Woman, and a very brief (few seconds) shot in Lexington Medical Center’s Christmas commercial.

I have been back in school since January 2016 working on prerequisites just to apply to the RN to BSN program at Alabama. I cried when I received the acceptance letter. It has been my dream to have a four-year degree since I was 18. That dream is coming true and I will graduate on May 3rd, 2019. I just completed my second semester and have all A’s-I am so proud of myself as one of my classes required two papers that you must pass. Let’s just say that APA format is not my friend! I also was chosen for a scholarship. I could not believe it and felt very blessed to have been chosen. It was the Barbara Hester Lowery Memorial Endowed Scholarship. Dr. Lowery was director of the Lowery Resource Learning Center, Capstone College of Nursing at The University of Alabama. I intend on paying it forward and starting a scholarship for single moms returning to school to finish their BSN degree.

I never thought after entering a contest on Facebook that I would be chosen to be a blogger for Every Woman Blog. I remember sitting there when I found out with my mouth open for a few minutes—in shock. I have had the pleasure of meeting some outstanding, fabulous women and fellow bloggers. Together we are all successful women with a variety of backgrounds-chef, nurse, teacher, cancer survivor. It had always been in my mind that I wanted to blog, and it has been an honor. I look forward to blogging for a longtime to come. Thank you to Emily and Jennifer for your support. You ladies are a blessing.

facebook_1544749125589 I must talk again about the incredible loss I had on June 25th, 2018. My beloved 9 ½ year old Yorkie—Ms. Haley Michelle Cameron. Unless you are a dog lover, no one really understands how dogs become family and that people mourn their loss just as you do a family member. I think of her every single day. I always said she was the daughter I never had. She was very girly and frou-frou. I can still hear her high-pitched, ear-piercing barking. The way she would stare at me until I gave her a Chick-fil-A nugget or waffle fry and how she used to have to sleep with her fur-babies (stuffed animals). As I unpacked our Christmas boxes to decorate last month, the first box I opened had our stockings in it and hers was on top-I immediately broke out in tears. My heart still hurts and my other Yorkie—Peyton Manning is not the same. She will come and cuddle with me and just whimper. She just seems lost.

facebook_1544749060590In closing, I want to thank my wonderful sons Corey and Hunter, my parents and my friends who have supported me this year and helped me with school. Thank you for listening to me cry over APA format and papers and especially the support of my loss. I love you all very much and could not be doing any of this without your support.

I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Looking forward to 2019 and what the future holds for me.

 

 

Try a Guiding Word Instead of Resolutions

By: Mary Pat Baldauf

Resolutions are for the birds. Until last year, I made them every year, and like many of you, had abandoned most by the first week in February. Last year, I decided to select a single word that summed up the essence and focus for the next 365 days of my life.

20170114_102656-2

My guiding word for 2017 is “simplify.” The textbook definition is to make less complex or complicated; make plainer or easier. It literally applies to nearly every facet of my life that I would once try to tame with a resolution: my weight, my finances, my house, my health, my relationships and more.

Simplifying isn’t as easy as I thought; I really have to re-think things. I keep the word on the top of my mind, and try to use it when applicable. Here are just a few examples:

  • After searching high and low for a lost FSA card, I simply requested a new one. Most things can be replaced easily and with little hardship. Simpler and much less stressful, for sure.
  • When I have a store return, I keep it in the car until I pass the store I need to visit.
  • simplify-mugInstead of keeping a travel cup whose lid has a design flaw and leaks, even if it does keep my water cold for 10 hours, I gift it to someone who will appreciate it and get one better suited for my needs. (Stanley has a great one. The lid shifts shut AND has a straw hold!)
  • When I couldn’t find my Just Wanna Melt scrub bars at the usual spot, I just ordered them online instead of making additional stops. (Sometimes a shipping fee is worth the time and money you’d spend on an extended search.)
  • When I get a new coffee mug, I get rid of an old one to make space for the new.
  • Instead of taking time to search for a “legal” photo of a pause button, I make do with two images of my own. (See what I just did there? Simplified when writing a blog post on simplifying.)

What can you do to simplify your life in 2017? Any tricks or tips to share?

Living Life With Purpose

By: Katie Austin

It’s early on a Sunday morning in late December.  I am sitting on the back porch drinking a cup of coffee.  The wind is blowing through the trees and I can hear nature waking up around me as the sun begins to peek in. I am the only one home and I find my mind wondering.

If I could change anything, what would it be? What goals will I set for myself in the New Year?

This is the first time in a long time that I didn’t wake up to making a to-list for the day. I simply allowed my mind to wonder.

I decide to pick up my laptop that I set on the table next to me and begin to perform various Google searches, entering keywords like “motivational,” “purpose,” and “change.”  I watch a few of the videos and they have good information, but not exactly what I was looking for.

Then I came across one that stopped me in my tracks.  It was like it was speaking to my heart.  I found myself crying within the first few seconds.

 

The first window came up with the quote below:

“Your life won’t ever be perfect, but it can be purposeful. Live for something bigger than yourself and leave a mark on the world.”   – author unknown

As the video played, I began to wonder if my life was “purposeful.” Was I living my life with purpose or simply living?

The video went on to ask you to look at yourself in the mirror and see if you disappoint the person you were at 18? Only let him or her be the judge. In that moment, a flood of emotions came running over me as I began to remember what it was that I wanted to be at the age of 18.  When I so young and ready to take on the world…

The video ended and it was like life stopped for a moment. I sat there staring at my laptop as I realized that I wasn’t living my life to the fullest.

Don’t get me wrong – I am happy for the most part, but I know that I am not living my life with purpose. There are things that I love to do that I put on the back burner. I can only blame myself as I have a tendency to fill my plate to the point where I am getting a lot done, but I can’t enjoy what I am doing. I am trying to get one thing done so that I can move on to the next.

This is not the way I want to live my life. It’s time for a change.

Life should be meaningful and it won’t be until I make it a priority. If life is meaningful, it will be purposeful.

I hope each of you enjoy the video and find your true meaning (purpose) as you head into 2017. This is just the start of my journey and I will be writing more about it in my upcoming articles.

I will leave you with one of my favorite quotes and as this will be my motto for the New Year. I’m looking forward to sharing my journey with you!

“Don’t talk about it, be about it.”  – Eric Thomas

Back-to-Work Blues

By: Chaunte McClure 

How many of you spent Sunday evening dreading the fact that you had to go back to work this week? I wasn’t exactly dreading it, but the extra hours snugged in bed for the past week were much appreciated, and I’m not opposed to having more of those opportunities.

back to work blues

Remember how the week before Christmas you could hardly wait for your week off to begin so you could complete your Christmas shopping, run last minute errands, leave for vacation or just enjoy some time off? Then in seven, six, five, four, three two, one . . . it was time to prepare your mind for your normal routine of waking up to an early morning alarm and pressing snooze time after time before finally making your way to the bathroom.

With the rain pounding on the roof Tuesday morning, that made getting up a little harder, but I rolled out of bed, determined to get to work on time. I knew wet roads meant a higher possibility of accidents and traffic delays, so I made sure I had extra time for my morning commute.

With about eight minutes to spare, before walking into the building to unlock my office door for the first time since 2016, I skimmed my timeline and read a few posts from friends who had back-to-work blues. I think most of them started sharing days-off memes as early as last Thursday as the week gradually ended.

I survived the first day back in the office after the holiday break. I had meetings the first half of the day and I spent the second half responding to requests. Let’s see how these next three work days of the new year pan out.