Wednesday, September 27, 2017

God's Waterboy-Jay Gardner

By the age of 15 Jay had moved 15 times to seven states with two of those years in Puerto Rico. All the moves made him the new kid in school and a target for bullies. Gifted with strong arms, Jay learned to defend himself. He also learned to drink and smoke a joint with teenagers at the tender age of seven.
 He had aspirations to become a football player but an injury in high school crushed his dreams. He joined the Navy and went on to become the Light Heavyweight Champion in the West PAC. He enjoyed success, celebrity, and acclaim along with partying, drinking and drugs.  As it turned out his handlers belonged to the Yakuza, a criminal gang in Japan. 

Married with two beautiful children, Jay returned to Georgia where he won two Golden Gloves and a Georgia Tough Man competition. Sadly, the Tough Man couldn't beat the drugs and alcohol. A spiritual hurricane of an ugly divorce, drug addiction, and a crime spree led him to a prison sentence of 20 years with no parole.  BUT God....
 Jay observed the necklace of another inmate and asked where he got the beads to make it.  He was shocked to find the beads were made of scraps of paper, glued and then varnished. In his prison cell Jay contemplated this wonder. God spoke to his heart to draw the parallel of the pages of his life having been ripped and torn and how God could take Jay's life pages and create something beautiful...A hope, peace and strength in life's journey.
From that revelation in prison came Jay's B.A.R.S. (Beads and Reflections and/or Breaking Attitude/Addiction Reviving Souls). These beads are given with this Mission Statement:

Share buckets of hope,
peace and strength with 
a thirsty and hurting world.
We can't change the 
world, but one act of
 kindness can change
 someone's world.
Today, be kind and share
B.A.R.S. with someone.

My bracelet is going to a loved one who going to be deployed to a war zone for four months along with my prayers for protection, hope, peace and strength in the journey.

If you want to know more about this ministry or ask Jay to speak to your group or church, you can reach him at

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Jailhouse Rolls and Cinnamon Rolls

This recipe came from my neighbor, Judia Sarich, almost ten years ago with this explanation:
"These rolls were made for the inmates at the Beaumont jail. Our family first discovered and made the recipe as it was published in the Beaumont Enterprise, a local newspaper, during the late 1970's. At that time the newspaper indicated the rolls were frequently made as a holiday treat for prisoners in the City of Beaumont Jail. The guards loved the rolls so much they took the recipe home to their wives." The article below give specific credit to Ms. Juanita Ward, a former cook for the Beaumont Jail and later for the Jefferson County Jail. One article also credits former police chief and Judia's neighbor, Willie Bauer, with giving the recipe its name.

Meet-the-woman-behind-Beaumont's-famous Jailhouse House Rolls

You will love this recipe because there is no kneading involved. All the ingredients are blended in your heavy-duty mixer (Kitchenaid), turned into a greased bowl, and stored in the refrigerator until you are ready to roll it out. I make a  double recipe and turn half into cinnamon rolls. My daughter, Megan, makes a beautiful tea ring and breakfast pockets using the same dough.  The day before I make rolls I fix a simple comfort meal of meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and green beans. The extra mashed potatoes go into this recipe:


1 pkg yeast
1 ½ cups lukewarm water
1 cup Mashed Potatoes
2 sticks soft margarine (or butter), softened
4 whole eggs
1 cup sugar
1 ½ teaspoon salt
7 cups flour
1. Mix yeast with lukewarm water, set aside.
2. In large mixing bowl blend softened butter, potatoes, eggs, sugar and salt. (Don't worry if it separates. Everything will blend when you add the flour.)
3. Add flour to mixture and blend well.
4. Slowly add yeast water and mix thoroughly.
5. Turn dough into greased bowl. (I use my round Tupperware cake carrier)
6. Cover with damp cloth (or lid if you are using Tupperware) and store in refrigerator over night.
When ready to prepare:
7. Take bowl out of refrigerator.
8. Turn dough onto floured surface.
9. Roll out to ½ inch thickness.
10. Cut to size desired.
11. Place on greased baking sheet.
12. Let rise approximately two hours.
13. Cook on 425 for 7 to 10 minutes.
14. Remove from oven and brush with butter.


1 stick of melted butter
1 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon (or more if you like)
1/2 c. chopped nuts (opt.)
1/2 c. dried fruit (raisins, cranberries or cherries) (opt.)
Follow steps 1 through 9.
Spread dough with melted butter, brown sugar and cinnamon,add nuts and fruit if you like.
Roll up jelly-roll fashion, starting at long side, cut crosswise into 1-inch-thick) slices. (See Tip below). Place rolls into a lightly greased 13 x 9-inch pan. Let rise for approximately 2 hours. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.


1 c. powdered sugar
3 T. milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Stir together powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla; drizzle over rolls. Sprinkle with additional nuts if desired.

Dough may seem too thin, but will thicken
overnight. Roll it out as soon as you get it
out of the frig, it will be easy to work with.

Roll out to 1/2 inch

Spread with a stick of melted butter

Cover w/brown sugar, cinnamon
 and dried fruit. Roll up.

Dental floss is your secret weapon to
making perfect rolls.

Slide floss under the dough,
pull up and cross thread to cut
the dough w/o smashing it.
Leave space between rolls so they can
rise to double in size

I don't really need an icing with the caramel yumminess
created by the butter and brown sugar, but some in our
 family need it. It's easy enough to glaze when rolls are cooled.
I have the Breakfast Pockets recipe on my Pinterest Board. Give them a try! Happy Easter

Wednesday, March 15, 2017



The difficulty with packing for a five day cruise is the necessity to change clothes at least twice a day. This particular trip was courtesy of US foods, for whom Ralph works. A work trip requires a little more thought than simply throwing a couple of shorts and a  bathing suit into a bag.

I start with a chart and outline each day and time of individual activities. I pencil in potential outfits for each event. I review my color palette and narrow it down to one or two choices. Attached is a copy of the chart I use to organize my thoughts. 

DL 1420 Depart 9:05
Arrive Ft. Lauderdale 10:55
Check-in at hospitality desk on Deck 6
Open from 1:00-4:30 pm

Welcome Reception
7:00 pm to 8:00 pm
Pyramid Lounge

Dinner 8:30
King Lear-Deck 5, Table 651
Blk/Gold Sweater
Black Jacket
Black Jeans
Blk Sketchers

Black. Jumpsuit
Gold Sweater
Gold Sandals

03/07/17- Tuesday

Denim Capris
Navy tank
Blue floral kimono
Blue Sketchers
Black slacks
Royal Blue Cold-
Shoulder Sweater
Black sandals

Labadee, Haiti
Arrive 7:30 a.m.
Jet Ski's 9:45 a.m.
Depart 3:30 p.m.

Bathing Suit
Cover Up
Water Shoes

Black slacks
Turquoise Blouse
Black sandals
Falmouth, Jamaica
Arrive 8:30 a.m.
Hike to Waterfalls and
Beach Picnic
Depart 4:30 p.m.

Bathing Suit
Cover Up
Water Shoes

Black slacks
Black/Silver Top
Black Sandals

03/10/17 -Friday

6:00-10:00 pm Farewell Dinner
Giovanni's Table Restaurant
Denim Capris
Turquoise T-shirt
Blue Sketchers

Blue Tropical
Gold sandals
03/11/17 -Saturday
Ft. Lauderdale
Arrive 7:00 a.m.
Flight DL 2026, Depart 12:57 pm
Arrive Atlanta 2:53 pm

Black Jeans
Royal Blue Tank
Blk Floral Kimono
Black Sketchers

I place my chart in my carry on. It's an easy reference for events and times. You never want to be late or show up at the wrong venue on a business trip.

My evening attire is black with accessories in  bright colors. My daytime wear is denim with a variety of tops. 

If you're a person who hangs out by the pool, all you need are bathing suits and cover-ups for daytime. Sun damage and cellulite keep me in capris!

Shoes can really trip you up. I love them and I like different ones for each outfit but on a cruise the most important thing is comfort. The ships are large and you walk everywhere. I leave the high heels at home. You can pack a ton of flip-flops in very little space, i.e. the outside pockets of your suitcase. Having had many and varied foot surgeries, I enjoy my Sketchers GOGA Plus. They are cushioned with arch support.  I wear the navy with denim and the black with casual slacks. One pair of black flip-flops serve as my casual bed slippers. Dressy black sandals go with evening wear. That's only four pairs of shoes plus my water shoes which I pack in a plastic bag in case they are wet on the return trip. What doesn't go in the outside pocket of your suitcase, go at the bottom of your suitcase (toward the wheels). Heavy items at the bottom keeps a top heavy suitcase from falling over.

On this trip I took one pair of denim capris and one pair of black pants. I wore the capris during the daytime with various tops. The black slacks paired with dressy tops and sandals for the evening. I packed yoga leggings and tops to double as workout and comfort wear. I like to change pajamas every couple of nights so I packed two sets. For a five day trip I pack 10 pairs of underwear. I roll everything and place it in packing cubes.
I used four cubes. Two small ones for underwear and bras,
bathsuits, cover-ups and yoga wear in the largest one, medium for
socks, evening shape-wear and miscellaneous items which might get lost.
These lay flat in the suitcase and transfer nicely into drawers in the cabin
without unpacking. Packing up again is equally easy
A five day cruise has one formal night. A seven to ten day cruise has two formal nights. If you want to avoid packing formal wear all together plan to eat at the buffet or one of the specialty restaurants in the evening. There's always room service. You cannot get into the main dining room at night in shorts, so plan on khakis and a collared shirt or top. Hanging clothes and formal wear fold on top of the packing cubes.

For short plane trips like this one I carry my Genius Pack Flight Bag, no purse or carry on. I bought mine at Sam Moon in Dallas, but I've given you a link to order one. I found it on Amazon too, but nothing beats Sam Moon's $40 price tag. 

While on the ship you don't need a purse, just a lanyard to keep your Seapass Card handy. It serves as your room key and credit card. The only cash you need is for tips. I stick lip gloss and my phone in my pocket.

A small backpack is nice for shore excursions. We throw in towels, bathing suits and water for a trip to the beach or use the same bag for shopping purchases.

If I'm flying internationally I always pack a small carry-on with what I consider to be essentials: medicine, jewelry, cosmetics, toothbrush and toothpaste, and a change of clothes, especially underwear. You never know when your luggage will take a side trip.

When visiting my daughter in Budapest I usually have a 10 hour flight with a 12 hour layover in London. It's nice to be able to wash up, brush your teeth and change your undies.

Here is a sample of a chart I sent my granddaughters to follow when we took them to Washington, DC. They were 8 and 10 years old at the time. I didn't get specific about their clothing choices. I gave them guidelines and room to fill in the blanks. One used it. The other didn't. It's all about what works for you. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014AA Flight Depart 7:40 a.m.
Arrive Washington D. C. 11:30 a.m.
Check-in JR Marriott
Washington & Lincoln Memorials
Jeans  or Shorts
Comfortable Walking Shoes
Bathing suit and cover-up
Friday, August 29, 2014
American History Museum
Jeans  or Shorts
Comfortable Walking Shoes

Saturday, August 30, 2014
Washington Zoo
Air and Space Museum
Jeans  or Shorts
Comfortable Walking Shoes
Dinner in Alexandria
Casual dress or pants

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Ford Theater
Spy Museum

Jeans  or Shorts
Comfortable Walking Shoes

Home to GiGi’s

Toothbrush/toothpaste                                      Blister bandaids
Hair Brush/rubber bands and clips                  Sunscreen/sunglasses/hat
5 pairs underwear                                             5 pairs of socks
2 sets of night clothes                                       Light jacket or sweater
Water bottle (must be empty at the airport)

The temperature will be in the 80’s in the daytime. In the 60’s at night. Currently an 80% chance of rain onSaturday. You may wear anything appropriate for school--dress, jeans or shorts. We will be walking everywhere. Make sure your shoes are comfortable. Flip flops for the hotel so your feet and shoes can air out a little.
I don’t know that we’ll have time to swim, but pack your swimsuit anyway.
We might eat on the wharf in Alexandria on Saturday night. We will be taking the metro and walking to our destination, so don’t get prissy. I’ll try not to.
I’ll bring a small backpack for first aid kit, snacks and umbrella. Don’t pack more than you can carry.

Holler at me if you have any questions. Safe travels, my friend!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017


This fresh strawberry pie is a family favorite. It appears on the table for every Easter dinner, (and lunch...and sometimes breakfast. What?... It's fruit!) and other special dinners. About eight years ago our dear friend, evangelist Darren Bruce and his wife, Nirmala, brought Dallas Cowboy, Woody Danzler home for dinner. Darren's smile and booming voice filled the house as he raised his hands and announced, "Oh my, my, my!That's smells so good. Let's just thank Jesus now!" We watched in amazement as he and Woody destroyed BBQ ribs, baked beans, Jailhouse rolls, and a huge piece of strawberry pie. Woody raved about the food and backed up his words by demolishing seconds and thirds. I sent him home with a dozen rolls and half a strawberry pie. The next day I received the supreme compliment. Darren told me Woody stopped at Pappas Brothers Steakhouse for another player's birthday dinner. When harassed for not ordering anything but a glass of water, Woody bragged on the best meal he'd ever eaten. Thanks, Woody.
I received this recipe as a young bride in Beaver, Oklahoma. Our church was having some kind of dinner, probably a Valentine Banquet. Those who volunteered to bring dessert were asked to make this pie. The recipe came from Willie Harvey. Thanks, Willie.

Gather all your ingredients. I usually use butter for the crust but this time I used anon-dairy buttery spread for my granddaughter who can't eat dairy.For my gluten -free friends, I use a gluten-free shortbread cookie crust.It's not easy making everyone happy, but I try.

You can buy a graham cracker crust, but there is nothing better than athick fresh crispy homemade crust. So easy too! Just combine crumbs, sugar and butter.

Blend together and press into pie pan. I like to bake mine at 375 for 6 min. for a crispy crust.

While the crust is cooking and cooling make your filling. Combine the dry ingredients in a 2 qt. saucepan.

Pour boiling water over dry ingredients and stir until smooth.

Cook over medium heat, stirring often.

Cook until thickened.

Set aside the filling and crust to cool.

I have two tools that make slicing large quantities of strawberries a breeze.

The strawberry huller pops the top off with little waste.

The mushroom/egg slicer zips through a quart of strawberries in less than two minutes.

Place your sliced strawberries on top of the cooled pie crust.

Cover the strawberries with cooled filling. I like to toss the strawberries with the filling so they are covered on top and bottom. 

Chill until ready to serve. Top with whipped cream or non-dairy whipped topping.

1 C. boiling water
1 C. sugar (I use less, but this is the way the original recipe was written) 
3 T. cornstarch
3 T. pkg. Strawberry Jello (I like the Wild Strawberry, if you can find it). 

          Stir dry ingredients together.  Pour boiling water over dry ingredients.  Cook until thickened.  Cool and pour over 1 pint fresh; cut-up strawberries arranged in a graham cracker pie crust.  Cover with Cool-Whip or serve with whipped cream.  (Double the recipe if you use a quart of strawberries).

Graham Cracker Crust
 Mix:   1 ¼ C graham cracker crumbs
          ¼ C. sugar
          1/3 c. melted butter
Shape:  Using back of large spoon, press crumb mixture firmly on bottom and up sides of an 8 or 9 inch pie plate.

For a crispier texture, bake shaped crust at 375 for 6 – 8 minutes; cool then fill.

You might as well make two. One won't be enough!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Be a Blessing. Receive a Blessing!

I have had some beautiful blessings in the past few weeks. These blessings revived my spirits and caused me to feel hopeful about the world. They didn't come as a tangible gift or a compliment. No, each of these blessings came from serving another.

If you want to help someone you don't have to look any further than your local discount store. I don't mean people in need of money or fashion advice, just people trying to get through life. In the past two weeks I've found opportunities to assist in unexpected ways. In both instances the persons needing aid were elderly (that means older than me) women with scooter issues.

One lady rode her scooter into the bathroom and couldn't back it out. Every time she tried to back out of the bathroom she hit the front wall, reversed, hit the back wall, went forward and hit the wall again. For 10 minutes she bounced off the walls. I finally talked her into getting off the scooter and leaning on me while a young woman pushed the scooter out of the bathroom. As she leaned heavily on me and the wall, I realized she could not hold herself up for long. Perhaps she had suffered a stroke in the past, I don't know. We got her back on her scooter and on her way.

The next week, another lady. She struggled in the clothing racks with a scooter which would start and stop, but not when she wanted it to. Alerted by the backup beeping and frustrated sighs, I approached her and asked if she needed help. She explained her frustration and I offered to get another one for her.The shock on her face surprised me. "Oh, I couldn't asked you to do that," she said. There wasn't another working scooter at the front of the store, so I found one in the parking lot and rode it back in. The snail's pace of the scooter reminded me of how helpless I felt when I had to use one. After trading out the scooters, I walked away. "You have been such a blessing," she said. My heart soared.

What if we made it our goal each day to bless someone?  It doesn't have to be done on a grand scale. Be aware of the people around you, especially in public. Smile, open a door, let someone go in front of you at a checkout line. Enjoy the shock and surprise of your fellow human.

Thank you, Lord. It takes so little effort to give and receive a blessing.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Giving Tuesday!

Did your Thanksgiving feast include more leftovers than you could possibly eat? Ours did! My son-in-law baked a 20-pound turkey for the four of us. Obviously more than we could eat, but we had a plan. A plan to give.

We tried to serve at a homeless shelter and other charitable organizations but they were fully staffed with volunteers, so we did our own thing. We used our "plan overs" to make individual bag lunches for the homeless. The homeless are not worthless. We tried to make a meal that would be a tiny feast for each one. 
Everyone pitched in and the dog waited patiently
to clean up any dropped tidbits.

My Sweetheart carved up the beautiful bird.
Son made turkey sandwiches on hearty sunflower bread.
I made GigiSnaps!
Bagged 'em up!

Son-in-law washed and dried the apples!

Set up our assembly line of 30 bags.
With our sandwich, apple and cookies,
we included a bag of chips, mayo and mustard
 packets, a holiday napkin, and a handwritten note!
Oh, and a Wet Wipe!
Put them in totes for easy distribution.
Found a park with willing recipients.

In five minutes or less all those lunches disappeared.
We learned from our new friends that they eat well on the holidays and most weekends. However, food is scarce on the weekdays. Don't wait for a holiday. Do your own thing whenever it works for you. Teach your children to give back. It brought us so much joy. The only sad thing was that we didn't do more. 

Happy holidays!