Showing posts from March, 2015

Chocolate Sour Cream Pound Cake

Another Saturday night and it's time for another pound cake! This time I went for a chocolate sour cream pound cake -- something I've not made before. I trust my vintage Southern Living magazine recipes (this one is from 1992) and this one is another winner. I tweaked the recipe just a tiny bit and added a glaze. Here's what I did:

For the cake:
1 c. unsalted butter, softened, plus additional to prepare pan
2 c. granulated sugar
1 c. light brown sugar, firmly packed
6 lg. eggs, at room temperature
2 c. all purpose flour (plus additional to prepare pan)
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 c. cocoa
8 oz. dairy sour cream
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

For the glaze:
2 1/2 c. powdered sugar
2 1/2 Tbsp. cocoa
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1-2 Tbsp. milk

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Butter and flour a 10" Bundt or tube pan and set aside. Sift together flour, cocoa, and baking soda and set aside.

Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. …

Lent Photo-a-Day 3/27: Meditate

A couple of weeks after my mother's death last summer I went for a drive in the Smokies to think about what I was experiencing and let some of my feelings out in a safe place. I parked in a favorite location along the Little River, grabbed my camera, a pencil, and a journal and found a nice rock to sit on at the water's edge. Snippets of verse had been running through my mind as I drove the Little River Road, but they found a home as I meditated on this view. I didn't take time to put this image and poem on my blog then, but I want to remember so I'm doing it now.

Just for today 
I will drive through the Smokies like a tourist,
I will savor every curve in a road I know by heart.
I will listen to water crashing over big rocks
And know that beneath still water lies a strong current.
I will remember that green leaves don't stay on trees forever,
And the yellowed birch leaves floating at my feet are a sign of what is to come.
I will watch clouds float across the sky
And know t…

Lent Photo-a-Day 3/17: Endure

I returned to the "scene of the crime," the place where my healing journey began in 2011. This time I did not turn right after crossing the bridge, taking the "flattest, easiest trail in the park" to Cataract Falls. No, today I went left on the nature trail to the John Ownby cabin, a 1.2 mile loop that involves a little uphill climb heading towards the cabin and again upon leaving the cabin. It's an easy trail, no doubt, but that first climb quickly reminded me of my miserable conditioning. Although my legs were fine, my cardio endurance is sorely lacking.

My body, mind, and spirit took a huge beating over the winter and today it showed big-time. Being cooped up at home caring for Daddy has done no favors for my health and fitness. But I'm still on my healing journey, still growing, still overcoming, still taking big baby steps, still enduring. Things will get better, I'm sure of it. I'm hiking on!

Lent Photo-a-Day 3/15: Celebrate -- Baby Steps

Today's post is inspired by a conversation I had with a friend at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park Volunteer Appreciation Banquet last night. Though we don't know each other well just yet, our life journeys have recently led us down a shared path -- the unexpected death of a parent. Life has issued each of us some other difficult challenges. Though different in our challenges the struggle is maybe not so different. I shared just a tiny portion of my struggle, though time and circumstances did not permit a more heartfelt, private conversation. One of the things I have learned is that all challenges are overcome by taking baby steps. It's impossible to take bigger steps or get through the challenge faster. I've also learned that all baby steps really are big steps. And so I'm sharing a piece of my story with the hope that it will be of help to my friend, to all my friends who may wonder if they can survive and conquer. I promise, if I can, you can too.

I was…

Lent Photo-a-Day 3/12: Stop...and Smell the Daffodils

Back when I was an undergraduate student at UT, I remember making a weekend trip to Cades Cove in mid-March -- a season I had not visited in previously. That was the visit I discovered the daffodils blooming near the cemetery at the Methodist Church, and I fell in love. The following year I carefully timed my return just to see the naturalized flowers herald the arrival of early spring in the Smokies. Since that fateful day, I have tried my best to get to Cades Cove to see the daffodils as often as possible. 

The removal of grazing cattle led to increased growth of shrubs and trees near the Methodist Church so the flowers aren't as plentiful there as they once were (yes, I'm sad about that). A hillside of blooms near Hyatt Lane is now my favorite location, in part because there are so many flowers there and in part because of the panoramic views from "daffodil hill." Even on a gray, overcast day like today, the masses of sunny yellow daffys brighten the scene. They re…

Lent Photo-a-Day 3/11: Wise

Today's photo topic brought to mind two of my favorite things -- the University of Tennessee and the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. As the daughter of  a UT professor, I grew up on campus. I went on to get two college degrees at UT (to go with one from Vanderbilt). I've been blessed with the opportunity to be well-educated. But being intelligent and well-educated does not assure that you are a wise person. Wisdom comes from life experience, making decisions, making mistakes, and learning from the experiences of others. Wise people do not need to be well-educated to make good choices if they are in tune with God. I know a number of highly educated people who lack wisdom, though they believe themselves to be very wise, very shrewd. The best combination is to be educated and wise -- a lofty goal. A favorite scripture verse from the Book of Mormon addresses this idea:

O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of…

Lent Photo-A-Day 3/9: Sabbath

"If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words:

Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it." Isaiah 58:13-14

The Sabbath Day is not like the rest of the week for me. I choose to not shop, dine out, participate in sports and other activities which would require that someone else work on the Lord's Day. I spend time in church, with family and friends, and appreciating the beautiful world Heavenly Father created for His children. I feel blessed by my choice to honor Him by respecting the day He set aside for us to worship, pray, and rest.

Lent Photo-a-Day 3/4: Poor

"Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 5:3
I didn't make up this list of topics for the Lent photo challenge. Whoever created the list could not have known what today, March 4th, would mean for me. They could not have known that I would be "poor in spirit" today -- the first year I had to remember my mother's birthday without her presence. It's been almost seven months since her passing. Seven long, difficult, very emotional months. This week has been one of the hardest weeks of them all, even harder than Christmas. I feel emotionally beat up.
Daddy wasn't feeling too great today after yesterday's big day in Cades Cove. I feel a little devious, but needing some private time for me, I left him home and drove across town to the cemetery. I did not tell him where I was going. I couldn't face his sad eyes. How could I explain I needed to go without him? I couldn't so I avoided the conversation. I hope I wi…

Lent Photo-a-Day: Near


Lent Photo-a-Day 3/2: Bless

My mother quoted Job often, especially in times when life changes left me feeling a sense of loss. I'm pretty sure my faith is nowhere near that of Job's, but I am learning that I am blessed by the Lord in all things. I love that bless is a verb, a word of action. It is human to focus on how we want the Lord to bless us, give us what we desire in life. The scriptures tell us that He will give us the desires of our hearts if we trust in Him. This is good, but we can take it to the next level by focusing on how we can act to bless others. The well-loved phrase, Lord, let me be a blessing to someone today. shows us the way to move beyond ourselves to others. In the many years of my illness when I couldn't do much of anything, trying to find ways to bless others gave me a sense of purpose. I did little things, really little things, but it made a difference for the recipient and for me. Because I felt the Lord's love in those moments, even though my health was taken away f…

Lent Photo-a-Day 3/1: Celebrate

Life offers many opportunities for celebration. Births and birthdays, weddings and anniversaries, and life achievements all come to mind when I think of the word celebrate. We mark the passing of time, life's turning points, and accomplishments, large and small, with celebrations. In my family, photographs document many of those celebrations. We never were home movie or video people. Mother shot mostly slides and I am a print and digital image photographer. That means we have a closet filled with slide carousels and drawers and bookshelves filled with photos, some neatly stored in albums and many not.

Today I decided to acknowledge the celebration that accompanied the completion of my PhD. For me this day was about far more than a college degree, it was about not giving up. It was about hope, and patience, and a ferocious tenacity in the face of overwhelming odds -- not in my favor. It was about not letting devastating illness take away my life and my dreams, but most of all, it w…