My Top Twenty Loves

Today’s prompt is a great post to follow yesterday’s, I Hate Pandas, post. What do I love? This could be an entire month’s challenge because I have so many. I’ll give you the list first and then hone in on one of them.

  • God above all else. I spend the first hour of the morning with Him and reading His Word through the You Version Bible app on my phone. It is free and full of great devotionals too.
  • My husband of 42 years. Besides God, He is my why in all I do.
  • My three grown children and their spouses. I call them my “in-loves” because I love them, it’s not just a legal connection.
  • My nine grand-children. They are each unique and I couldn’t enjoy being involved in their lives more.
  • My hometown. Orlando has changed dramatically since I was born here in 1959. But it’s still home to me.
  • My extended family and the history we all share, including our grandparent’s 32 acres of groves west of Orlando.
  • Writing: Books, articles, blogs, newsletters (both neighborhood and Nana’s newsletter for my kiddos)
  • The beach
  • The mountains
  • Traveling and/or Road Trips
  • Birding
  • Photography
  • Planning events like parties, neighborhood events (the pandemic provided me with lots of opportunities to help with all of us being homebound.
  • Baking is my first love in the kitchen. My Mom wouldn’t let me cook since she used the pressure cooker to make meals fast after a full day at work. So I learned to bake. Favorite thing to bake? Pies
  • Cooking and having themed dinner parties. Favorite meal to make? Anything my husband loves. One of his favorites is Chicken Cacciatore.
  • Golf.
  • Reading, but this one often takes a backseat to all my other loves. I can get completely lost in a book, so it always feels selfish to block everything out to read.
  • Researchiing about things I don’t know–geneology, history, song lyrics I may remember wrong 🙂
  • Thanksgiving
  • Christmas

When Tom and I were first married he worked in retail. He was the area manager for 3 jewelry stores and I hadn’t yet found a job. I spent much of my time in our yellow-carpeted condo alone. Being such an extrovert this was hard. And I had moved away from another one of my loves–Orlando–to Bradenton, 2.5 hours away on the west coast of Florida. I was lonely and homesick.

The couple who managed the property where we lived was always home. She was such a kind lady and one day she asked if I’d like to come over and bake bread together? I jumped at the chance to have something to do and baking was always a favorite.

She started with helping me learn how bread dough should feel after kneading it. She was a hands-on teacher and this is how I learn best. I caught on quickly and was soon making homemade bread, hamburger buns and more. You just can’t beat the aroma of bread baking in the oven on a chilly day.

Next she moved on to a more challenging lesson – the art of making a flaky pie crust. She even shared her family recipe with me. I had no idea how this one day and this first pie would define my baking life. i.g. our family always celebrated birthdays with pie instead of cakes. It became our dessert of choice and for good reason. Mrs. L’s pie crust recipe is amazing.

So of all the pies I’ve baked, which is our family’s favorite? Apple Pie. It even won the blue ribbon at our county fair.

Debi Walter’s Blue Ribbon Apple Pie


  • 6-8 honey crisp apples
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 T. cinnamon
  • 1/4 t. ground cloves
  • Nutmeg, freshly ground, about 1/8 t.
  • Butter
  • Milk and Sugar for the top crust


Preheat over to 400.

Roll out pie crust and line the bottom of a 9″ deep dish pie plate. Core, peel and slice thin the apples in a large bowl. Pour sugar over apple and stir to coat. Pour in flour next and stir to coat. Add spices and stir well. You can add more spices to your liking. We like a lot of spices in ours.

Fill the lined pie plate by layer the apples one by one in a circular pattern starting from the outside to the center. Repeat this layering until you have filled the pie using all the apples. Dot with butter.

Roll out remaining pie dough and cover the apples, sealing and crimping the edges.

With a pastry brush lightly brush top crust with milk making sure it doesn’t pool. Sprinkle lightly with sugar.

Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 and bake for an additional 45 minutes until bubbly. I keep a watch on the pie and usually lay a large sheet of foil over it to prevent over-browning.

Let pie cool completely before slicing to have a nice and neat slice of pie. But if you can’t wait, it’s great warm out of the oven with vanilla ice cream.

Bon Appetit

This is my 17th post in The Ultimate Blog Challenge to post everyday in November.



Our blogging prompt was to share a song lyric that means something to me.

There are too many to even begin to share, so I decided on a twist. I’m sharing the song lyrics I misunderstood as a kid and only recently discovered the correct words. I must admit this is embarrassing, but it’s understandable. I was attached to my record player as a pre-teen. I listened faithfully to Casey Kasem’s Top 40 list every Saturday. Once I heard the #1 song for that week I would get on my bike and ride it to the Five and Dime store (T.G. & Y.) to buy the 45 rpm before it sold out.

Music was my companion and my 10 year old friend’s companion too.

I remember us turning around in circles to the EP version of In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida by Iron Butterfly. Why? Because we were kids and we had nothing better to do. I had a crush on Davy Jones of The Monkees and loved his British accent. My BFF loved Mike Nesmith and his beanie hat. Life was simple for us.

You have to realize we didn’t have Google in the 70’s. If we misunderstood a song lyric, the only way to find out the correct words was to buy the album where the lyrics were printed on the paper sleeve inside the cover. I didn’t have that kind of money, so I improvised, often at the top of my lungs I’m afraid to admit.

I gave my older brother, (who was a huge tease and my biggest nemesis), lots of material to mock me. And mock he did! I can laugh about it now, but as a ten year old I was humiliated more times that I can count.

Songs with lyrics I misunderstood:

  • “Hold me close I’m tired of dancin…” by Elton John is actually titled, Tiny Dancer, and was released in 1971. The line really says, “Hold me close, tiny dancer.”
  • “Blinded by the light. Wrapped up like a douche…” by Bruce Springsteen originally, but this version of Blinded By The Light was recorded by Manfred Mann in 1976. The line actually says, “…revved up like a deuce…” A deuce coupe more specifically. A fancy way to describe a sports car.
  • “I’ll light the fire. You place the flowers in the bras that you bought today.” by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. Our House was released in 1970. The song has nothing to do with putting flowers in a bra. Haha! As a pre-teen I had never heard the word vase pronounced with an “ahh” sound. The song makes more sense as written, “I’ll light the fire. You place the flowers in the vase that you bought today.” And finally one more…
  • “Had a F-___ing nightmare, and a little thunder.” I almost didn’t share this one, but this will probably garner the most laughter from you. I know it would have from my brother. Yeah, I really thought that’s what this line said from Steppenwolf’s, Born To Be Wild released in 1968. I have never been one to cuss, so I would always skip this line. I could never understand how the radio station back then was allowed to broadcast such language. It never occurred to me I might have misunderstood the lyrics. The song actually says, “I like smoke and lighting, heavy metal thunder, Racing with the wind, And the feeling that I’m under.” How in the world I came up with those lyrics instead I’ll never know. But I’m grateful to be able to sing the entire song now if I so choose. And with a clear conscience.

I’m curious. Did you ever misunderstand the lyrics to a song? I’d love to hear your embarrassing story–I promise not to mock you. But I might laugh. We can all use some laughter these days.

Speaking of laughter, check out this video I found on You Tube from The Holderness Family. Apparently I’m not the only one who has done this. These are hilarious!

This is post #13 in The Ultimate Blog Challenge to post everyday in November.

Photo by Eric Krull on Unsplash

Ave Marie (Broadmeyer)

I remember walking into her disheveled room not sure if she was any good at what she advertised. Her name was Marie Broadmeyer and she was to be my new vocal coach. Although in the 70’s the term was called “voice teacher”.

My Mom had signed both my sister and me up for lessons. We are six years apart; at the time she was 20 and an alto–I was 14 and a soprano. Together we had the sweet harmony that happens when sisters sing together.

Music comes naturally in our family; my Dad’s father had a beautiful baritone voice I’d only heard on a 45 rpm record made of one of his church solos at Roger Williams Baptist Church in Rhode Island. It was rich and soothing as he sang. He always said he loved singing so much he hoped he would die in the church choir. Prophetic, that’s exactly what happened. He gave his final solo performance, sat down in his seat and had a massive heart attack. I barely knew him, but I understood his love of music.

Back to Mrs Broadmeyer.

She was a large, old woman from Germany. Her strong facial features supported her rich contralto voice. We learned she was lauded all over Europe by reading the hundreds of newspaper clippings taped to the faded wallpaper surrounding her baby grand piano.

We had only 30 minutes with her per lesson, so there was no time to hear her story. She had us warm up with vocal stretches that always made me feel self-conscious, but what 14 year old isn’t self-conscious? After she was confident our vocal cords were ready, she would have us sing, O Danny Boy. Her baggy eyes watered as our voices filled the musty room. I used to believe our voices are what brought the emotion, but now I wonder if it wasn’t memories this song brought to mind.

I’ll never know.

Last night I went on-line to see if I could find any information about her life. Was she married? Did she have children? How did she end up in America? Was she born here or did she immigrate? How did this famous soloist end up in a dilapidated row house in downtown Orlando having to squeak out a living by giving voice lessons?

Once again, my immaturity didn’t lend me to ask such questions.

I did find out that she died in 1977 here in Orlando only four years after our time in her living room. She had 4 children, as far as I can tell, the last one dying in 2015. She was born in Germany in 1908 and died in 1977 at the age of only 69. I guess she wasn’t as old as I assumed.

Her husband who was 16 years older, proceeded her in death in 1969. She was widowed only 4 years when we started our weekly visits. I also found several arrival and departure dates of when she sailed to New York Harbor from Europe and vice versa. All in the 50’s confirming her frequent tours to Europe to perform.

This memory was vague as I started to write. But with a little research I was able to piece together quite a story.

Revisiting the lyrics of her beloved song, it seems appropriate to honor her memory with this final verse…

“But when ye come, and all the flowers are dying,
If I am dead, as dead I well may be,
You’ll come and find the place where I am lying,
And kneel and say an Ave there for me.
And I shall hear, though soft you tread above me,
And all my grave will warmer, sweeter be,
For you will bend and tell me that you love me,
And I shall sleep in peace until you come to me!” – – O Danny Boy

I’m grateful to have known Mrs. Broadmeyer. This ave is for her. May she Rest In Peace.

This is post #12 in The Ultimate Blog Challenge to post everyday in November.

The Benefit of Doubt

My title is a play on a familiar cliche’ when you choose to think the best of someone–you give them the “benefit of the doubt”. However, that is not what this post is about. It came as a question in yesterday’s post by a reader/blogger I’ve met through my current UBC group. She asked the following…

“What made you doubt for so long your ability to write your grandmother’s story?” She added, “I’m sure you had what it takes in 2000.”

She is nice to make such an assumption, but looking back I can see how much I changed over those 12 years. My Dad passed away in 2004 (the first death of someone close to me since my grandmother died 25 years before him!) My two oldest children got married. We were blessed with 5 grandchildren in that time. Our daughter moved away with her husband and two of our precious grand kiddos (also the first in our family, which nearly killed me).

I have taken all the personality tests and they all come to the same conclusion–I feel things 100%. If you are hurting I’m going to put myself in your place and hurt with you. When my grand babies would FaceTime me crying because they wanted to come to Nana’s house, it ripped my heart out because they no longer lived minutes from us! I didn’t like the changes and the emotions were too raw for me to even think about writing.

I was discouraged. I felt like I didn’t have it in me to finish what I had started. I doubted. But what I didn’t realize was God was still at work finishing His promise to me that I would write my grandmother’s story.

Every heartache. Every delay. Every sad goodbye was teaching me things my grandmother experienced in her lifetime.

  • Her uncle had made an arrangement with her father that if he was able to stake two claims in the Indian Territory Land Rush of 1893, he would give her parents one of the claims.
  • Her uncle was successful, so she left her grandparents in Kansas when she was only 4 years old to move to what would soon become Oklahoma.
  • She experienced losses, disappointments and tragedy.

Once I realized how much I was learning about her by feeling her pain, I became better at documenting her story. I realized that God was intentionally delaying my progress to make me a better story teller.

Then, God had our friend’s fiancĂ© move in with us not knowing how she would be a crucial piece of my writing puzzle. If she hadn’t come along I don’t think I would have finished in time. And I hate getting to the end of a big puzzle and realizing the last piece is missing. Thankfully, that didn’t happen.

Doubt has many benefits. Even when I lose all hope, God promises to complete the work He’s begun in me. That included helping me fulfill my life-long dream of writing, Through The Eyes Of Grace.

In what ways has a delay in your story or your goals helped you in the long run?

This is my 9th post in The Ultimate Blog Challenge to write everyday in November.

Photo by Arnel Hasanovic on Unsplash


Savor every hour of every day. And no day makes this more obvious or easier than the first Sunday of standard daylight time.

In case you missed it, you gained an extra hour of sleep last night. Maybe you showed up to work or church an hour earlier and realized your mistake. It’s better to be early than late, my husband reminds me, and today it’s easy being early.

Savoring means to fully enjoy something, usually food. But today I want to focus on savoring Sunday. This has always been a special day in our family.

  • We go to our church’s service where we have gone since this church began in 1985. Our closest friends are there, and we celebrate the life we have because of Christ. Worship songs help us savor the time together, and hearing from God’s Word gives us fresh perspective for all the other days of the week.
  • Sunday meals were always a home-cooked tradition growing up. My mom would put a roast in the oven before we left for church, and then cook the sides of mashed potatoes with gravy, glazed carrots and hot buttered rolls when we got home.
  • When our kids were young we would sometimes meet my parents out for Sunday dinner, but more often we would come home. We didn’t have the budget for a roast dinner at home or dining out. But we had something else to look forward to…
  • Sunday afternoon naps. Need I say more?

Whether you remembered today began with an extra hour or not, make plans to enjoy your Sunday in a special way. It is a gift to be savored.

This is post seven in The Ultimate Blog Challenge to post every day in November


Our prompt was to share a time when we stumbled in our lives.

Goodness, this is a hard one to share, but I’ve learned the purpose of stumbling is to help us grow. When shared, it helps others learn from our mistakes. So here goes…

I was 19 and newly married. I had moved from the only home I had ever known to a town I had only visited a few times during my short, five month engagement to Tom Walter.

My grandmother had lived with us for a while before Tom and I got married. She had prayed for my future husband for years. When she met Tom, she loved him and expressed it with food. She made him her chili when she learned how much he loved spicy food.

On one of my trips to Bradenton, I carried a mason jar full of Big Mama’s chili. It was love for him in a jar and it worked. Tom loved her as much as he loved her chili. This recipe still holds a special place in our story. (You can find her recipe under the From My Kitchen tab above).

Just a few months after our wedding, we visited my family only to discover my grandmother was sick. At 90 years old, she was unable to get out of bed. We were home for the weekend but I never went in to see her. I couldn’t bear seeing her frail, so I avoided her. I had no idea this would be my last chance to see her alive.

Just a couple of months later, she died.

I can’t express the regret I felt. I remembered many times as a teen trying to comfort her in her old age. She loved me, her youngest granddaughter, of this I am certain. But I stumbled with the emotion of letting her go. I thought if I ignored it I would get another chance, but I was wrong. So very wrong!

This regret is what fueled my passion to discover and write her story. I have found stumbling happens for a reason; it’s the platform that launches us to a place we would never get to had we not stumbled in the first place.

It’s easy to stand here today in my 60’s and judge my 19 year old response to death and dying, but that’s not fair. I did as much as I was emotionally able to do at the time, and it was for a purpose.

God takes our broken pieces and makes them into something special to be treasured—like a stained glass window. Today I’m holding up my broken pieces for you to see. God made something beautiful in spite of my mistakes.

How have you seen your mistakes made into something beautiful?

This is Day 6 of The Ultimate Blog Challenge to post everyday in November.


I was hosting a Ladies Retreat at our cabin in NC. The ladies were all due to arrive in time for dinner, and it was my job (as well as two friends who came along to help) to have dinner ready for them when they walked in the door. One said she had a new recipe she wanted to make for the meal.

One by one the ladies arrived excited to finally begin our week together. The kitchen was emitting all the inviting smells of a home-cooked meal. This welcomes in a way nothing else can. The menu consisted of ham, new potatoes with fresh snapped green beans cooked with onions and bacon, glazed carrots and this extra dish I was eager to try. Have I stirred your appetite yet?

It happened to be Mother’s Day too? My Mom had only been gone a few years, so this day was still quite tender. I missed her then and still do today. One rarely gets over losing their Mom, and I was no exception.

When we all sat down at the table my friend described her featured side dish. As she did I couldn’t believe what I was hearing as the tears welled up in my eyes. The dish she made was the exact same side dish my Mom used to serve at our Pharmacy soda fountain when I was young. She called it Scalloped Pineapple, i.g. pineapple bread pudding. I had the recipe at home and hadn’t made it in years. So to have my friend think to make this same dish on Mother’s Day as a surprise for all of us, ended up being a blessing from God for me she could have never planned.

But God.

He knows how to bless in unexpected ways. And when He does it leaves me breathless.

Below is the recipe. Maybe you can use it to bless another the way my friend unknowingly blessed me.

Bon Appetite!

Scalloped Pineapple

This is my fifth post in The Ultimate Blog Challenge to post everyday in November.

Photo by Pineapple Supply Co. on Unsplash


This blog was born in 2012 when my first novel was about to be published.

I had carried this dream in my heart since my grandmother died in 1979. I wanted to capture her story in a way that our family would get to know her as a person, not just an old lady we loved and adored. I had no idea how this journey would evolve in the years to come. My first post titled, Officially Yours brings you into the purpose of this blog.

My grandmother’s name was Grace–and my book is titled, Through The Eyes Of Grace. I wrote it as if she were telling me her story. I guess I was pretty convincing because I actually had a cousin mad at me because our grandmother gave me her journals. I told her that this part of the story wasn’t true; thus the fiction part of my historical fiction. There were no journals from which to discover her story–how I wish there were. This is why I’ve been keeping my own journals since 1989. I don’t expect anyone to write my story, but I do hope they will learn from my life and the challenges through which I’ve had to walk.

117 posts and 9 years later this blog has become a compilation of my thoughts about family, faith, food, history and asking good questions. It feels somewhat of a new beginning doing the Ultimate Blog Challenge with this blog. It’s like putting myself out there for you to get to know me.

We all have a story, but most of what we learn in life is lost with our last breath.

Today, I’m looking forward and inviting you to join me these next few weeks as I share with you life through my eyes.

This is Day Three in the Ultimate Blog Challenge to post everyday in November.


I was born and raised in Florida. In fact, I’ve lived here my entire life–all 62 years. It’s needless to say I love it here, heat and all!

As a child to get a break from the heat, we would go to the beach and play in the surf. When I was really small my Dad would take me by the hand to protect me from the big waves. As I grew body surfing became my favorite, even though the waves would always invariably knock me down. I would emerge from the salt bath ready to take on the next mountain of water. Laughter, waves of laughter to match the swells of the sea kept me coming back for more.

When our children were born. I taught each of them how to wave to their grandparents, whether saying hello or goodbye it didn’t matter. A wave was a connection between generations that our little ones could communicate in their own way bringing joy and laughter to all of us. These precious children were part of our growing family that caused waves of pride in our heart for them.

Once our children grew up and got married they began moving away to find their own path. With them they took our 9 grandchildren. This caused waves of sadness in my heart realizing that we wouldn’t share our day to day lives together anymore. The distance would create a void in my heart that was hard to explain, even to my husband and close friends. I was heartbroken over these unforeseen changes in my life. I cried out to God asking Him to heal my sadness, and over time He did. He caused a wave of gratefulness to flood my broken heart sealing it with His love. As each of my grandchildren would wave goodbye, I turned it into a game–the Disney Princess wave that says, “Elbow to wrist, elbow to wrist. Touch your pearls. Blow a kiss.” Waves of giggles and laughter would fight away my tears.

In the last two years our family has faced waves of grief; Grief over tragic illnesses even the medical community didn’t recognize; waves of grief over our daughter and son-in-love’s micro-preemie boy and the challenges they would face for years to come. The unknown future felt like I was little all over again facing a giant wave ready to knock me down. But this time my Heavenly Father held me tightly as I served our daughter with all I had. We learned to laugh in the face of adversity together knowing God had Elias safely in His arms. No wave was a match for His steady hand.

Finally, I’m once again dealing with waves of fresh grief.

This time it’s from my brother’s sudden passing from this life to the next. I miss him and when it hits I feel the crushing blow of it as it knocks me to my knees. I let the wave of tears flow knowing that like the tide they will roll in and roll out. No wave lasts forever and my own history teaches me that.

I’ve also come to expect laughter through the tears. I hear my brother’s voice mocking me, teasing me and joking with me always with a twinkle in his eyes. He had a way of breaking through my emotions whether it was sadness or anger, making me laugh whether I wanted to or not.

Billy, who was five years older, loved the beach as much as I did as a kid. He taught me how to body surf and not be afraid of the next wave no matter how big it appeared to me. He showed me how to dive into it allowing the wave to roll over me without effect. It worked! Laughter followed as I found a new way to face my fears with success.

I hear him now telling me to duck. These waves of grief are evidence that I loved him and the time we had together for all of my 62 years. Laughter will follow the sadness in waves too, until the Lord returns or I am called home. But for now I wipe my tears with gratefulness to God and repeat, “Elbow to wrist, elbow to wrist. Touch your pearls. Blow a kiss.”

Photo by Natalya Zaritskaya on Unsplash

Warms You Body and Soul

I first fell in love with it on my first trip out of the country. I was 18 and was invited to fly to England for a 3 week’s holiday including a week on a barge touring the British canals. The family was an acquaintance my brother had made on his recent backpacking tour of Europe. I was excitedly afraid. But up, up and away I went.

Caroline met me with her Dad at the Heathrow airport. From there it was a two hour drive to their humble home in Ashford, Kent.

Caroline was a year or so older and had her own flat. She worked at the local Fish and Chips restaurant, served in the traditional way with newspaper wrappings and malt vinegar. Arthur Treacher has nothing on this authentic culinary goodness.

But this isn’t what I fell in love with on this trip.

Her Mum had us over for tea. An afternoon tradition perfect for a country that rarely sees the sun shine.

Hot tea did the trick! It warmed me, body and soul!

The tea was served strong with cream, and I promise I’ve not tasted it nearly as good as it was for me on this trip.

I even asked Caroline years later what was her Mum’s secret. She couldn’t answer because her tea was lacking something too.

We suffice it to say it was her love for us and for sharing something from her kitchen which made her tea so amazing.

I shared with them our family’s banana bread recipe. They had never heard of it and were as impressed with it as I was their tea. Maybe it goes both ways; Each of us sharing a piece of our family’s heritage through food with lots of love.

As an aside, I’ve discovered a black tea that comes as close to what I remember as I can find to Caroline’s Mum’s tea. It’s PG Tips served with half and half. Let it steep for 5 minutes, and it will warm you body and soul.

It’s amazing that their family heritage has become mine. All my kids and grandkids love a good cup of hot tea.

What recipes have become part of your heritage? My banana bread recipe can be found under the recipes tab above.

Bon Appetit!