As we light a path for others, we naturally light our own way. ~*~ Mary Anne Radmacher ~*
This has been without a doubt one of the strangest years that I have lived through. The optimum word is lived, and I’m grateful. Everything is different, the line of normal has changed, and the world seems somehow a smaller place. More painful, and yet it has made me conscious of the fact that what we do, doesn’t only impact us but others as well. What our world needs right now is a conspiracy of love, a glimpse of the possible, and a gentle reminder that every human has value and is loved.
Recently I received a Christmas card from a friend. Her message was a simple one and it touched my heart. “It may seem like a hard year,” she said, “but I am blessed. I’m alive. Today I no longer need physical therapy, so I’m getting stronger. I will still have an RN for a while. God is giving me the blessing of life.” This friend spent fifteen days in the ICU fighting Covid-19. She’s grateful to be alive and I couldn’t agree more with her. Life is precious.
At this point, most of us know someone or have lost someone who has had the virus. We’ve all been impacted by not being able to attend funerals, weddings, or all the special moments that give life meaning. Birthdays and holidays have come and gone without personal celebrations and large gatherings. Now those seem like small sacrifices when it comes to keeping people safe. We stay a part today hoping we can be together tomorrow.
In memory of those who can’t, we can embrace each new day we are given. Each of us has our own special kind of light to shine in life. A way of being kind, a sort of magic, if you will. So keep the light on, it might help someone who is struggling to find their way, and it’s quite possible someone’s light will shine on you when you need it too. Keep the light on. No matter how small the light appears it still is a welcoming sight on a dark night. #Keepthelighton #embracethenewday
I am happy to have as my guest today Author Diana Rubino. She writes Historical Fiction. Be sure to check out her books. Remember books make great gifts. Sit back and enjoy reading about one of the Christmas traditional treats she learned from her grandmother.
Can an Italian sweatshop worker and an Irish cop fall in love on Manhattan’s Lower East Side in 1894? The answer is a big YES, and once they’re enjoying wedded bliss in their Greenwich Village brownstone, they spend their first Christmas together feasting on her Strufoli! (Italian for honey balls).
In FROM HERE TO FOURTEENTH STREET it’s 1894 on New York’s Lower East Side. Irish cop Tom McGlory and Italian immigrant Vita Caputo fall in love despite their different upbringings. They know their love can survive poverty, hatred, and corruption.
When my grandparents came from Naples and landed at Ellis Island in the early 1900s they brought many recipes with them, but only in their heads. No one brought cookbooks or recipes along with their possessions. A favorite Christmas treat is Struffoli, better known as Honey Balls. One Christmas when I was a kid, I watched my grandmother make them and scribbled down the ingredients as she sifted and mixed and baked and drizzled. Here’s an accurate recipe in English!
•2 cups flour, plus extra for dusting
•1 large lemon, zested (about 2 teaspoons)
•1/2 large orange, zested (about 2 teaspoons)
•3 tablespoons sugar
•1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
•1/4 teaspoon baking powder
•1/2 stick (2 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, at room
•3 large eggs
•1 tablespoon white wine, such as pinot grigio
•1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
•Canola oil, for frying
•1 cup honey
•1/2 cup sugar
•1 tablespoon lemon juice
•1 1/2 cups hazelnuts, toasted (see Cook’s Note)
•Vegetable oil cooking spray
•Sugar sprinkles, for decoration
•Powdered sugar for dusting, optional
For dough: In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together 2 cups of flour,
lemon zest, orange zest, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Add the butter and
pulse until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add the eggs, wine, and
vanilla. Pulse until the mixture forms into a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic
wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces. On a lightly floured surface, roll out each
piece of dough until 1/4-inch thick. Cut each piece into 1/2-inch wide strips.
Cut each strip of pastry into 1/2-inch pieces. Roll each piece of dough into a
small ball the size of a hazelnut. Lightly dredge the dough balls in flour,
shaking off any excess. In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, pour enough oil to
fill the pan about a third of the way. Heat over medium heat until a
deep-frying thermometer inserted in the oil reaches 375 degrees F. (If you
don’t have a thermometer a cube of bread will brown in about 3 minutes.). In
batches, fry the dough until lightly golden, about 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to
a paper towel-lined plate to drain. (The rested and quartered dough can also be
rolled on a floured work surface into 1/2-inch thick logs and cut into
equal-sized 1/2-inch pieces. The dough pieces can then be rolled into small
balls and fried as above).
In a large saucepan, combine the honey, sugar, and lemon juice over medium
heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved,
about 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the fried dough and
hazelnuts and stir until coated in the honey mixture. Allow the mixture to cool
in the pan for 2 minutes.
Spray the outside of a small, straight-sided water glass with vegetable oil
cooking spray and place in the center of a round platter. Using a spoon or damp
hands, arrange struffoli and hazelnuts around the glass to form a wreath shape.
Drizzle remaining honey mixture over the struffoli. Allow to set for 2 hours
(can be made 1 day in advance). Decorate with sprinkles and dust with powdered
Remove the glass from the
center of the platter and serve.
Note: To toast the hazelnuts, arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake
in a preheated 350 degrees F oven 8 to 10 minutes. Cool before using.
Total Time: 4 hr 12 min
Prep: 1 hr 30 min
Yield: 8 to 10 servings
We are approaching one of my favorite holidays. Although this year will be celebrated quite differently for us. No large gatherings of family and friends, but a scaled back version is on tap for us, and for many I know.
To say that 2020 has been one of the strangest years I’ve ever experienced, is an understatement. It started with the loss of several family members, moved on to the pandemic, and added a few wildfires that burned many acres and structures in our state. One fire alone burned more than 195,000 acres. That was only one of eight fires all burning at the same time. The firefighters were heroic trying to save homes while many had their own homes burn to the ground. They definitely belong on my thankful list. They had endless weeks of intense heat and windy conditions that fueled the fires out of control.
All in all, I still have much to be thankful for. I’m alive to utter the words is a great place to start. I have a few friends who have survived the virus and it was no easy road for them. I can stay in touch with family and friends, via the internet, texts, and Zoom. I’ve celebrated birthdays that way too. My own included. (I’ve decided not to add this year to my age since I didn’t get to use much of it.) Thanksgiving will be a Zoom holiday too. Because being careful today, means the possibility of sharing special occasions next year together. That’s where hope comes in. Hope keeps me stable when the circumstances around me say something different.
I’ve learned to wear a mask and be grateful for the small contraption that keeps me and you safe when I wear it. It’s amazing how much I notice peoples eyes now. Their eyes can tell you so much about who they are. They are the window to the soul as they say and they give character to a person’s face. I’ve learned I can see a person’s smile by their eyes even when I can’t see their mouth.
As I sit down this year to give thanks, I want to remember all the wonderful things that have made this time tolerable. Sons who stopped by wearing a mask and sitting six feet away from us. Their way of saying they love us. Add to them grandkids in masks, and friends every week on Zoom. And of course there is the usual reasons for gratitude like food on the table, a roof over my heard, and most importantly the love of my husband. I can say that the year has literally zoomed by. Pardon my pun.
Life is really quite precious. I may be doing it differently right now, but it really is wonderful after all. I’ve found many special moments to celebrate in this year and for that I am thankful. I love these words by L..R. Knost. They express my feelings completely.
Life Is Amazing…And then it’s awful. And then it’s amazing again. And in between the amazing and awful, it’s ordinary and mundane and routine. Breathe in the amazing, hold on through the awful, and relax and exhale during the ordinary. That’s just living heartbreaking, soul-healing, amazing, awful, ordinary life…And it’s breathtakingly beautiful.~*~ L.R. Knost ~*~
Every human story is filled with something worth seeing or hearing. Some of those experiences are painless while others are quite painful . But each is in some way priceless. I grow when I can dare to see life through someone else’s eyes. Their experience may be different than mine but worth listening to and understanding.
Writing fiction has been eye opening for me. It allows me to tell the human story in a way that I can envision it while making me more aware of my human connection and the world in which I live. A kind of therapy, if you will, it helps me come to terms with what I see happening around me. Through fictional characters I can deal with tough subjects in a way that is hopefully entertaining, and the story becomes a part of me in the process. When I finish writing a book I’m left with an empty feeling until my characters run off to another adventure and I once again paint a story using words.
Life has not been easy for the whole world lately. Besides the normal trials of life, we have been impacted by a pandemic, hurricanes, and wildfires along with wars, and enough division to last a lifetime.
I have found myself having to take a step back more often to gather my thoughts. I want to see people as more than mere numbers, and to feel empathy for what I see happening around me. When I read this poem it touched me and I hope it touches you too.
I’ll paint you a rainbow to hang on the wall, to brighten your heart when the gray shadows fall, on the canvas of joy outlasting the years, with a soft brush of sweetness to dry all your tears.
I’ll paint you a rainbow with colors of smiles that glow with sincerity over the miles. On a palette of words, I will tenderly blend tones in treasures of sunlight and wind.
I’ll paint the rainbow that reaches so wide, your sighs and your sorrows will vanish inside. And deep in the center of each different hue, a memory fashioned especially for you.
So lift up your eyes, for suspended above, a rainbow designed by the fingers of love…
We spend a lot of time in life hoping and waiting for the quintessential open door, and have no idea how many we have actually walked through to get to where we are.
I’m grateful for the many open doors that I’ve walked through in my life, and the people who I have met behind some of them. Their stories have inspired me more times than I can count. And a few of those chance encounters have changed me.
Life is filled with the stories of people, both true and fiction. Those stories have both challenged and motivated me to be a better person. Some have encouraged me to action while some have simply entertained. To me it was time well spent.
Personally, I believe that their is spark of the divine hidden, often in plan view, in every human and once found it becomes a treasure to inspire us. I find I get to know myself better by listening to the words of others. And when I meet that person who lives their life consistent with their words it provokes powerful emotions within me.
Yes, I’m aware that some doors are nothing more than entry ways or exits. I’ve walked in plenty, and out many with no change at all. Some I’ve merely passed through on my way to somewhere else. But every once in a while, a door is so outside the bounds of normal that it will inspire imagination. That’s how stories are born.
Even in the strangeness of this year the image of this door sent my imagination racing through ideas and possibilities. I’m convinced there’s a story waiting for me behind this door.