Author Archives: laura bruno lilly

Kitty’s Virtual Brownie Sharing Circle

“Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.”
Psalms 34:8

Yes, you read that right, this second VBSC post brings Kitty to the table. Her human of choice is writer and yarn (he)artist, L. Marie, a native Chicagoan. She earned an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults at the Vermont College of Fine Arts and continues to write, submit manuscripts and encourage others pursuing the writer’s path.

Actually, she encourages others, period. Skilled in crochet and knitting, she often yarns-up gifts for those she feels need a little unexpected lift or surprise.

Case in point, a few days ago, I discovered the owl featured in the photos below roosting in our snail mail box. I’m sure Kitty is relieved that she has one less ‘friend’ she’s obliged to share brownies with, but I’m touched at the thoughtfulness of my blogger buddy.

However, ‘owlie’ does not yet have a name…heck, (s)he doesn’t even have a gender designation. Soooo…if any ideas come to mind, please mention suggestions in the comments below along with any other thoughts this post may inspire.

Don’t forget to take a peek at L.Marie’s blog and maybe try out the brownie recipe at the end of this, her guest post.

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m L. Marie. My blog is El Space: The Blog of L. Marie. Many thanks to Laura for inviting me to participate in her Virtual Brownie Sharing Circle. And thank you to Heather who wrote the original post that inspired Laura.

Kitty and her friends. Not that she thinks she’s above them. But pictures don’t lie. . . .

Kitty and her friends. Not that she thinks she’s above them. But pictures don’t lie. . . .

Actually, Kitty, who is sitting here staring at me, feels she was the inspiration behind the sharing circle, because she’s trying to turn over a new leaf. Less crime, more altruism—that sort of thing. In fact, she thinks it should be renamed the Kitty and Friends Virtual Brownie Sharing Circle, since she coerced invited two friends to join her in a photo op.

Though she doesn’t consider me a friend (more like a slave, really) she expected me to do all of the brownie baking while she did all of the tasting.

When it comes to brownies, I’m not much of a baker. A year ago, I made a box recipe that was supposed to be kindergarten easy. But the brownies turned out dry and about half the height they were supposed to achieve after baking.

Picture 3

Ginger and her son, Johnny

 

My good friend Ginger makes great brownies. I’ve known Ginger for many years. Not only is a she a great wife, and mother to three offspring (two of whom are in college), she is also an administrative assistant at Covenant Classical School in Naperville, Illinois.

As if her life weren’t busy enough, Ginger also deals with Celiac disease. I’ll let her tell you about that.

 

 

 

El Space: How long have you had Celiac disease? What led to that diagnosis?

Ginger: Five years on February 21! I had a rash on my legs that never went away for over two years! I consulted many doctors and we tried many topical creams, but it never went away. Then I started having pain in my stomach that was constant, day and night. It was never sharp, but it was always there. The doctor ordered blood work and an endoscopy and I was diagnosed with Celiac disease.

El Space: How has having this disease changed your life?

Ginger: When I am not cooking at home, I have to make a plan of what I am going to eat. I have to read labels and bring food everywhere I go. I even have my own pans and toaster so there is no cross contamination in the kitchen. I feel so much better, so this makes it much easier to stay gluten free. I would say that the biggest change is a mental switch that social events are not all about the food. This has required a whole new way of thinking about meeting friends, holidays, birthday parties, and outings.

El Space: You’re one of the most cheerful, encouraging people I know. How has this life-changing event enabled you to encourage others?

Ginger: I have a greater sense of understanding what it feels like not fitting in and feeling left out. It points me first to Christ and remembering how my identity is in Him first. I am not alone. My compassion toward others has grown immensely. I have a greater understanding for others that may feel like they may not fit in for a variety of reasons.
I have had the benefit of having my family and friends include me in their meal plans or pick up something gluten free for me. Since this has meant so much to me, I have made attempts to do the same for others with a variety of dietary restrictions. This has challenged my culinary skills, but I have learned a lot in the process. I had some successes and failures, and most importantly, connected with others.

Thanks, Ginger. Now, here’s the recipe Ginger follows for making her brownies:

Picture 1

Yes, Kitty, you must share…

Ginger’s Gluten Free Brownie Recipe

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ heaping cup of gluten free flour

Add in if desired (I love making the brownies extra special with candy, nuts, etc.)

  • Pecans or walnuts
  • Chocolate chips
  • Reese’s peanut butter cups
  • Andes mints

Directions:

  • Spray an 8×8 glass pan with cooking spray.
  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Mix together melted butter and cocoa powder until well blended.
  • Add sugar, eggs, and flour and any mix-ins desired!
  • Pour mix into pan and spread evenly.
  • Bake 24-28 minutes until sides looked baked and toothpick comes out with just a bit of batter on it.

Fun February Blues Busters

February – the shortest yet longest month of the year.

Put your headphones on, crank the volume up high, & be transported to a place beyond February!

First up: father, Jay Molina (guitar) and son, Andrew Molina (uke) playing a Beatles Medley

Next up: my teenage ‘chocolate chip cookie’ song

Let me explain. Ma made the best huge choco-chip cookies, heavy laden with chips and nuts and then would freeze her doubled batch in our downstairs freezer…which was across the rec room from my bedroom. Always on a diet, I denied myself such goodies when offered but around 12 midnight, after everyone was in bed, I’d sneak into Fraulien’s room (our German Shepherd who shared the laundry room with the freezer) and dig out a few. Listening to Denver’s then underground (at the time, it was quite subversive) KLZ-FM radio station, I placed those hard-as-rock gems on top of the speaker, patiently awaiting the time to enjoy their lusciousness. As they thawed to eating consistency, I ceremoniously placed chunks of cookie into my waiting mouth. Inevitably, this song played several times during the night, accompanying my sweet secret indulgence.

Last up: I looked out this morning and the sun was gone/Turned on some music to start my day/I lost myself in a familiar song/I closed my eyes and I slipped away/It’s more than a feeling…

Virtual Brownie Sharing Circle #1

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him
Psalms 34:8

Dizzy loves her brownies!

Dizzy loves her brownies!

One morning after baking a batch of my ‘loaded brownies minus one ingredient’* I sat down in front of the computer with my cuppa joe in one hand and a bit of warm brownie in the other. Settling into my blog-reading I noticed over at dinosaursdonkeysandms that one of Dizzy’s suggestions for helping someone with anxiety was baking them brownies. (Dizzy’s favorite gluten-free recipe is here).

How serendipitous. Not that I was experiencing any sort of anxiety at that moment, but I got to thinking why not spread some brownie-induced happiness with Dizzy and her blogger friends? So in the comments, I offered a virtual brownie to any and all who needed one that day.

Dizzy always makes me smile, even when she’s cranky, which isn’t very often (and she and Heather have lots they could choose to be cranky about dealing with MS).

I credit her for inspiring me to begin my very own Virtual Brownie Sharing Circle (VBSC) series. Maybe knowing that will make Dizzy smile… Continue reading

Quote – On Sorrow, by myself

Been a bit under the weather lately.

As I ‘get better’, I find myself perusing all sorts of Youtube tutorials on my fav sidekick instrument – the UKE. And am having fun exploring musical paths yet uncharted. Continue reading

on a winter’s eve – Poem

on a winter’s eve

~ laura bruno lilly 2018 ~

Dimmed screen in a darkened room

Outside bright of snow

in the midst of unlikely places

Silenced city-cycles still the moment

Outside bright of snow

on a winter’s eve

Played Well with Orange

'proud 2bee an honorary Manc' quilt top wip

‘proud 2bee an honorary Manc’ quilt top wip

As mentioned in a previous post, I needed a diversion from my Goat Suite (Saga) and Puffin Grant related tasks. I pulled out my stash of 2½ x ? fabric strips leftover from decades of previous projects and delved into piecing a scrap version of the Dora Quilt.

Happily sewing together strips into blocks I discovered the fabric scraps ordered themselves into a cohesive quilt top based upon print design rather than color.

calico type scraps

a sampling of calico type scraps – oranges galore!

design-print fabric scraps, with bee print in middle

design-print fabric scrap blocks, with bee print in middle

While I got to play around with color possibilities using the color orange, most of the oranges occurred in the calico/flower type scrap fabrics. No matter how I arranged the blocks, those calico/flower prints just didn’t ‘play well’ with the more abstract, thematic and graphic scrap fabric prints.

 

I preferred the non-calico blocks and focused on the bee print fabric scrap. Placing it in the center block of the quilt top, it will be the perfect resting place for my precious Manchester Worker Bee Badge*  pinned in the middle once completed.  A humble gesture by this everyday American standing in solidarity with those affected by that horrific terrorist attack – on children.

madison park quilt kohls

Kohl’s stock photo, not our bedroom!

 

Meanwhile, my taste for something orange had been awakened and needed to be satisfied ASAP. Instead of me creating something orange, I searched for something in a ready-made quilted coverlet. I found a luscious well-constructed one from Kohl’s. On sale, I also used coupons and Kohl’s cash and purchased it for a song…Extra bonus? It looks better than the marketing picture!

 

 

Through it all, the edits on the Goat Suite Saga vignettes are almost completed, the actual musical recording of my Goat Suite is ready to send on to be mastered, and the Final Report for my Puffin Grant got written and in the snail mail.

I am so ready for the New Year – how about you?

Note: Gonna be off-line for a while, so responses to comments might be delayed.
Will see ya in 2018!

* sent to me by my Manc buddy…for basic info on the Manchester Worker Bee as symbolic of the city and as honoring those killed go here

Peace Post: early christmas greeting

Manc worker bees & musician Minions united for Christmas Greeting: Peace on Earth, Goodwill Towards Man

Manc worker bee & musician minion Stuart – Christmas Greeting: Peace

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.’ And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.’ And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe, lying in a manger.”
Luke 2: 13-16

 

Buon’ Natale, tutti!

NOMA: what are those round-y, tilted buildings?

Photo seen on my Manc* buddy Andy’s blog
(oh, yes, he’s a published poet, check out his books here – perfect for gift-giving, IMHO)

Manchester Cundall Light4“Whoa, what are those odd round-y tilted buildings?” I asked him in the comment section.

To which he responded with a link to something called NOMA Earth Tubes.

NOMA? What the heck is that?

He further elaborated,
“The atrium is fundamental to the building’s ventilation strategy. Each of its three corners houses one of the building’s vertical service cores. Some 50m3/s of fresh air is sucked into the building from its landscaped forecourt through three giant earth tubes buried beneath the building; this helps temper the air, cooling it in summer and warming it in winter. Air is heated or cooled in a huge basement plant room before giant fans push it up the service cores to the floor plates.”

Huh?

Sufficiently curious, I clicked on his link reference thus beginning a fun google research journey for this lady on a pleasantly cozy, rainy Saturday afternoon. Continue reading

On Doing Final Drafts

Silly me.

I thought the final drafts and final rewrites of pieces critiqued by two different writers groups in two different states, edited, reworked and rewritten over a time span of close to four years would be the easy part of finishing my Goat Suite Saga set of 7 vignettes. Never mind the larger project of Swimming with Swans: vignettes of our three year journey between homes set of at least 2xs that amount.

Silly me.

While I’ve stamped four of the seven vignettes as final, it’s this fifth one that’s got me up against the wall as mentioned in a previous post. It’s a good thing I took that quilt break as it helped refresh my writerly juices to get back in the game.

However, it seemed like I just wasn’t making any progress. So, the other day I decided to passively gather data on how long it’s taking to actually do specific rewrites.  The numbers were kind of scary.

Let me explain.

There’s this one musically technical paragraph that I was told was confusing to non-musicians. However, I insist upon it staying as it’s important to the totality of that particular vignette. One paragraph, out of one vignette with an approximate word count of 2000 words took me over 12 hours to rework, reword, rewrite and stamp as final.

One paragraph.

Waiting on the final studio mix of my lone recorded piece (out of four total) left to be mixed before sending all to the mastering lab has been frustrating. Yet, it gives me an excuse to focus on the written part of the GSS of which an abbreviated form will be featured in the cd insert booklet.

Never did I ever figure on spending so much time on one paragraph.

Silly me.