Ray’s 5-Star Cranberry Sauce Recipe

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, I thought you might be looking for a good cranberry sauce recipe. Well, if you are, then here it is. This is the best cranberry sauce you will EVER taste. The nice part is that it’s really simple, and it is better if you make it ahead so the flavors can meld. Oh, and there’s no refined sugar, just honey.

2 12 oz. packages cranberries
Equivalent volume chopped apples
Toss in a pan with 1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup honey

Simmer until cranberries are soft.
Add more water if needed when cooking
Add a little more honey to taste

Keep an eye out when it’s simmering so it doesn’t burn.

Other than that, no more work is needed. Just refrigerate and enjoy on Thanksgiving Day.

Not only is this cranberry sauce delicious, but it also adds color to your holiday table. In addition, it will fill your house with a wonderfully delectable smell.

Please let me know if you try it.

Happy evening, folks. Talk tomorrow.


The Homeless, Scholastic and Stanford

I have had a busy day. First, the Breakfast Club this morning, bright and early at 6. We had a big crowd of diners so we were busy preparing homemade bread pudding with fresh blueberries, scrambled eggs, corn beef hash, freshly sliced roasted potatoes, grilled onions and green peppers, and melon slices. The food we serve is a treat for everyone, diners and volunteers alike. We receive food from a food bank and we never know what’s coming so we arrive the 2nd and 4th Saturdays of every month with an open attitude and a creative spirit. We supplement what we’ve received with store-bought items, but we try our best to use as much of the donated food as possible. Today, we weren’t quite sure what to do with the cornbread stuffing mix we received, but have decided that for the Breakfast Club close to Christmas, we’ll serve it with sliced turkey, eggs, and cranberry sauce. Surely that will be a treat even at 8 am!

After the Breakfast Club, I came home for 3 1/2 hours of students. These were my fiction writers today and they are editing stories to submit for the Scholastic Artists and Writers contest whose deadline is mid-December. Over the past 10 years, I’ve had students receive state and regional awards for their fiction and/or essay writing, and I have also had two students who have won Silver medals on the national level. These are especially fabulous since all national winners and their writing teachers are honored at Carnegie Hall in New York City. Needless to say, this is a thrill.

After those students, off I went to a Discernment Committee at St. Thomas. I am part of a group of parishioners who are meeting for one year with a young woman who believes she wants to be a priest. We are the first step in the discernment process, and she has to have our group’s approval before proceeding. We are a little bit over halfway through the process. This is my third time to serve on a discernment committee. So far, so good.

Finally, I returned for one more student who is writing essays to submit for a competitive summer program for high school students who are interested in the medical field. This particular program is at Stanford and is extremely impressive since these high school students get hands-on experience learning all about cardiothoracic surgery. They don’t actually work on live people, but they spend a lot of time suturing a porcine heart. (I believe that is a pig heart, yes?) Anyway, it’s one of the best programs in the country and my student is hopeful he will be accepted. I am helping him write two essays he’ll be submitting.

So, with all that excitement for today coming to an end, I believe I’ll wrap up my 20 minutes a day of writing and head up to bed. I might watch a little tv before dozing off.

Happy weekend to all.

Live long and prosper.

Some of our Breakfast Club Kitchen Staff.

That’s daughter Liz in the dark blue and Ray right behind her.


Twirling, Band and Tommy Nugent

When I was a senior in high school, I decided to try out for twirler. I had been a devoted band member, starting out with a cornet in 5th grade and eventually graduating to French horn. I definitely wanted to play French horn in concert band, but it was my senior year and I thought it might be fun to be one of the girls wielding a baton during marching season. The problem was that I had no clue how to twirl. I had been a cheerleader for three years prior to this and didn’t have any twirling experience. Zero. But thanks to the aid of a seasoned twirler, Debby Russell, who took me under her wing and worked me to death for 3 weeks, I somehow managed to win a spot.

That was a very fun year with the band and my fellow twirlers. Our band was excellent and we were all proud to be involved with Tommy Nugent as our guide. He was a tough cookie when it came to everything related to band and I still have anxiety dreams with him at the center. It was not uncommon for him to yell at the top of his lungs and turn bright red just because someone was not kicking high enough on a turn during marching season. However, I must say that Mr. Nugent was my first real brush with excellence. He expected a lot, but he gave a lot in return and the results were undeniable. We were a Sweepstakes band for two years while I was in high school with all 1′s in marching and in concert band. That’s tough to beat.

Interestingly, I also had a taskmaster in the twirling realm. Our head twirler, Debra McGuire, was driven to be the best twirler she could be and she expected us to follow suit. I somehow was invited after marching season to join a twirling trio with her and another twirler, Elaine Brooks, and I still can remember parts of that routine that we must have practiced a 1000 times before heading to contest. We received all 1′s at our first contest, moved to the next where we also received all 1′s, and then were told we had qualified to compete at state.

We travelled to Austin in early June of 1971 for the big competition and, unfortunately, I promptly lost one of my contacts in the swimming pool at the motel where we were staying. That didn’t bode well since I was (am) severely near-sighted and hadn’t brought my glasses. Still, later that day, we got up to do our routine in front of the judges (Debra basically lead me to the spot where I was supposed to stand) and the second we started, I just clicked into our routine and did what we’d been doing for several months. As it turned out, we received all 1s that day, too, making us an All-State Trio. We were all very proud, and I still am, particularly since I’d barely known how to hold a baton just the year before.

Band was one of the best experiences in high school for me. I learned to appreciate hard work, to love music, and to see how being part of something bigger than myself could bring a great deal of satisfaction. Thomas Nugent was the lynchpin. I am grateful for his passion. He taught me a lot about finding something to love and pursuing it with all my heart.

Debra was impressive, too, I must say.  Without her (and Elaine), I wouldn’t have even considered heading off to a twirling contest.  I’m very glad I did.

By the way, my baton is leaning against the wall in my closet upstairs in my bedroom.  I never know when I might just get the urge to twirl…

Back Row: Jane, Cathy, Elaine and Gail

Second Row: Carla, Len and Cheryl

Front Row: Debra




Thanksgiving Anticipation

I am getting ready for an onslaught of visitors. I am excited about this, so “onslaught,” with any negative connotation that might accompany that term, is perhaps not the right description. Whatever word best describes the arrival of happily anticipated guests is what I’m going for here.

Every year at Thanksgiving, our family from Utah comes for several days, and since these are some of my favorite people in the world, you can imagine I look forward to spending time with them. They are arriving on Wednesday and will be with us until Sunday. This is my sister’s son, Jim, his wife, Karri, their two kids, Eli and Sophie, and my sister’s ex-husband, Ray. Jim’s sister and her husband can’t make it and I’m sorry about that. They, too, rank right up there in my favorites.

We are going to Ojai for one night of camping on Wednesday. This should be fun. My daughter, Sarah, is a first year medical resident in family medicine and as such gets to work nights on both Thanksgiving week and Christmas week. Therefore, we’re celebrating our Thanksgiving not on Thursday, but instead on Friday. That gives us the chance to run off to Ojai for a quick camping jaunt. I only wish that Sarah, Gregorio and Luna could come be part of this time. Liz, Ron and Rachael will be driving up Wednesday night to camp and will caravan back to LA mid-afternoon on Thursday. We might get to see Sarah for a brief time between when she wakes up in mid-afternoon and goes back to work at 7.

I love camping and I love Ojai so I am happy about this part of the trip. We are not having holiday food before Friday so this is all about turkey hot dogs and store-bought potato salad. This should be very relaxing and pleasant. My goal is to have most of the Thanksgiving food prepared before we leave for Ojai so that our return doesn’t signal me having to move into high, high gear, preparing a big meal on Friday. That is the plan, at least.

Whatever the case, I am happy Thanksgiving is almost here. This holiday signals pure happiness for me. I can’t wait.


Just a Few Photos Over The Years

Len at Age 6

Len at 6


George, Sandra and Baby Leslie


George Sandra Leslie


Leslie a Bit Older




Sarah at age 3 in New Orleans with Friends


Sarah, et al in New Orleans


Len and Girls in 2005


Len and Girls, 2005


Hutch, Rachael, Ray and Holly, 1994


Ray, Rachael, Holly and Hutch, 1994


Ray and the Girls, around 2005

Ray with girls, 1994

I just happened to come across these today.  I’ll keep looking so that I can find good photos of other family members.

Happy sleeping!



Toddler on the Mend

I am happy to report that baby Luna is breathing much easier today, and so are all of us who love her.

I realize there is much overuse of antibiotics, which is definitely not helpful; however, I am grateful we live in an age where antibiotics are readily available. Without them, this outcome might have been gravely different.

Our concern was exacerbated by the recent outbreak of respiratory illness among children. According to an article in the New York Times on September 25, the outbreak that started in the Midwest has now spread to 38 states. I certainly don’t have any evidence this is what Luna was suffering from; I just know that being aware that other children have been plagued with breathing problems sent the alarm bells ringing louder than usual.

Alas, I believe our little one is moving quickly back to her natural healthy self.

Three cheers for that.

Thanks to all of you for your messages of concern. I appreciate you taking the time to respond. That was very kind.

Hugs to all.

Talk tomorrow.


Urgent Care for Luna Today

Our little Luna made a trip with her mom and dad to Urgent Care today. She was very congested with a rattling chest. The doctor did a chest x-ray to rule out pneumonia – which she does not have – but told Sarah and Gregorio to take her to the emergency room if she starts having any more trouble. She also has an ear infection. They also did two breathing treatments on her and sent her home with several medications.

We went out to check on her this evening. She was pale and a lot less enthusiastic than usual, but she was still open to playing with her Mr. Potato Head and putting together her barnyard puzzle. She could make all the sounds of the animals on a farm when Gregorio quizzed her and she also requested that I give her a bath, which I did. She sat in the bath and said, “Happy.” She loves stretching out in their big tub and almost swimming through the water. Her breathing seemed to get a bit more labored, though, so we didn’t linger for a long time. I dried her off, covered her in lotion, got a new diaper on her and her pj top. She looked sleepy after that so we said good-night. Sarah and Gregorio said they got about 3 hours of sleep last night. Hopefully, tonight will be better for everyone.

Our friend and priest, Ian Elliott Davies, cancelled an engagement so he could come check on Luna and say a prayer for her. That was an awfully sweet thing for him to do.

Needless to say, we all adore this child.  We will be happier when she is back to her healthy little self.  She is a little fountain of love in all of our lives.

I am heading to bed. We’ve had one of those disjointed days with a dozen very different things happening. Maybe tomorrow will flow just a bit better.

Of course, it has everything to do with Luna feeling better. If she is, the I expect we’ll all move out of “Tilt” and back into balance.