As We Travel into 2014…

ann johnson-murphree


The end of 2013 is rushing in, where has the year gone; where have all of them gone?  May you all be blessed in the coming year and throughout 2014.

With the coming of “another” year, I have spent some time reflecting on the many years that have passed.  There are times when memories come and go; they are always there waiting for me to recall and I do wonder if the day will come when I will remember them at all?

Just an old woman now, once a young girl with roads to travel; songs to sing, just a child not knowing what life would bring; all rainbow skies and starry nights, times of youth a place where imagination blinds the truth.

Traveled many roads scattered with heartache, no songs to sing, voice choked back, no future seen, existence never knowing what life will bring.

Memories of dreams and hopes…

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We Are Still Human

And so, I was sitting in the break room on Christmas Eve and it was fairly quiet in there. It was quiet at my job that day period. Phones rarely rang, and despite that everyone should’ve been jolly, everyone was walking around like zombies minus the moaning and groaning.

Everyone in the break room was eating alone at different tables, playing with their smart phones (myself included), ignoring everyone else. My associates all looked so lonely sitting there, scrolling through Facebook, Instagram and texting to people who weren’t texting back while we sat lonely, not daring to look up unless someone see how much we needed their company.

Well, not everyone was doing that, and those zombie-mood breakers raised my attention from my phone to them. I am nothing more than a people watcher. As a writer, it’s my job to put my life on hold to watch you live yours. Someone was talking. Yes, this young guy sat down in a booth with a girl. They were about the same age and seemed to be familiar with one another. There were other young women in the room, and I’m sure he was familiar with more than just her. Why’d he choose her? Maybe he likes her? Maybe their desks are positioned close together and so they chat a lot.

I contemplated as I watched everyone in that room. Then it hit me. Why he chose her and not any of the other girls. Girls I’ve seen him talk with before. Why her? Why now?

Ahh…She was the only one not scrolling through her phone when he entered the break room and scanned the area. Where is her phone anyway?

He sat down across from her and put his phone face down on the table.

Yes, we still enjoy each others company more than we enjoy those phones. We’re still human. Android does not run through the veins of everyone. Thank heaven.

Book Review – Tried and Tested: 101 Recipes

I consider myself an above average cook with the ability to decipher seasonings, choosing what might be best for which dish. I enjoy making, and usually make, all my cakes, etc., from scratch. By scratch I mean I do not make boxed cakes. Why would anyone use that stuff? Okay, okay…forgive me. I know sometimes people just don’t have the time to mix and measure, but for me, it’s the best way to go. And it’s healthier.

I have also been a cookbook collector over the years. I’ve collected a couple vintage cookbooks as well. Some books I’ve kept, some I gave away to a friend or to the Goodwill, etc. Others I’ve sold to used bookstores once I tired of that particular book. Needless to say, I love cooking and baking from scratch with tasty ingredients.

However, at the same time I’ll be the first to admit I shy away from new things. I received a PDF copy of the cookbook, Tried and Tested: 101 Recipes, from author, Carol Jones, some months back in exchange for review. It took me some time to go over it and check out some of the recipes. I give the book 4 Stars (on Amazon) for a small book that was big on flavor and carried many different recipes.

I really liked this cookbook and think a print edition would be a good edition to my cookbook library, and for the current price of .99, one can’t go wrong with the e-book. Some of the ingredients in the dishes are not something I would’ve tried usually, and I couldn’t try everything, of course, and not all foods are suited to my taste, such as liver. Yet, this cookbook has something for everyone, and for me I found many of the recipes interesting, and they urged me to try them. I had to do a little recipe tweaking here and there or find a substitute ingredient or food as the author is British and not everything was easily found in my neck of the woods.

Some of my favorites of the recipes I tried from Tried and Tested: 101 Recipes by Carol Jones are:
Italian Chicken Casserole
Stir-fry Beef with Ginger
Grilled Tuna with Olives and Tomatoes
Asparagus Stir-fry (*Note: I really do not care for asparagus, but this recipe made this vegetable delightful!)
Mexican Bean Burgers
Moroccan Mushrooms with Couscous
Macaroni & Cheese (*With nutmeg? – I never would have guessed!)
Cherry & Almond Loaf
Lemon Cake

What I’d love to have seen more of in this book are soups. Other than that this is a pretty great book; small but chock full of great and tasty recipes. Also, I’d like to see it in print. Make sure you download a copy from Amazon!!

Check out Amazon for the e-book here:

Throwback Thursday

Yes, I love Bing!… These songs are classics for many of us. But, in truth, they just remind me so much of my childhood. I spent many years in rural Central Texas where snow rarely happened, and if it did sprinkle down, it usually didn’t last long and did not occur in December.

I was one of the lucky ones in my Texas hometown. I knew what a winter wonderland was actually like. And it often happened at the holiday season in the land where I was born which seemed a gazillion miles away from where I spent my adolescence.

Blessed Yule/Winter Solstice To You! (Recipes too)


SUNSET PRAYER (A Sunset Prayer for Yule)
by Patti Wigington

“The longest night has come once more,
the sun has set, and darkness fallen.
The trees are bare, the earth asleep,
and the skies are cold and black.
Yet tonight we rejoice, in this longest night,
embracing the darkness that enfolds us.
We welcome the night and all that it holds,
as the light of the stars shines down.”

BLESSED YULE/WINTER SOLSTICE to all my Brothers & Sisters who celebrate and honor this date.

As some of my readers know, I honor Yule/Winter Solstice in my spirituality. I was raised a Catholic, and thanks to them, Mary, Mother of God, brought the Goddess archetypes into my life, heralding in first the practice of Wicca, then Witchcraft. I am a Pagan for the most part, celebrating with multiple god(dess)-types. In other words, I am polytheistic. (I hope this doesn’t chase off any readers…it doesn’t change who I was before you read this.)

I also recognize Christmas for what it means to others in the world and the myths and lore behind it as well. But honestly, for myself, I celebrate it from the commercial perspective with my family as it is tradition among my siblings, parents and myself. But for my own spiritual purposes, I celebrate Yule. I still celebrate with my family, having dinner and opening gifts, and I have spent a lonely Christmas Eve at a Catholic mass communing with Mary. I believe in all religions and every spirituality. May you honor what you honor, celebrate what you celebrate, pray to whom you pray…Do as ye will, an’ it harm none. Blessed Be.


For anyone interested in learning more…

Please visit for info on Winter Solstice – Yule Lore

OR..DailyWicca for information on Yule Lore and Yule’s origins.


(creator unknown)

1 1/4 cup flour
1/8 cup poppyseeds
2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 cup raisins, plain or golden
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup butter/margarine
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
3/4 cup Karo golden corn syrup
1/2 cup light brown sugar
4 tbs. milk
1 large egg, beaten
1 tsp. mixed spices**

**Equal parts of cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice.

Sift the flour, soda, and baking powder into a non-metal bowl. Add the mixed spice and ginger. Next add the brown sugar and raisins. Mix. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. In a small sauce pan, melt the butter and the syrup over a low heat, then pour liquid into the well in the middle of the flour mixture. Add the beaten egg and the milk, and mix very well. Pour into a well greased 2-lb loaf pan and bake in a preheated oven at 325 degrees for 40-50 minutes. This bread can be made the night before as it improves with age. Makes 8-10 servings.


HOT SPICED WASSAIL (non-alcoholic)
(by Akasha

4 cups cranberry juice
6 cinnamon sticks
5 cups apple cider
1 orange, studded with whole cloves
1 cup water
1 apple, cored and sliced
1/2 cup brown sugar

Mix juice, cider, and water in large saucepan or crock pot. Add cinnamon sticks, clove studded orange, and apple slices. Simmer mixture for 4 hours. Serve hot. Makes 12 servings.


Yields: About 2 1/2 dozen cookies
Work Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour plus 5 to 7 minutes baking time per batch
3 large egg whites
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons butter (3/4 stick), melted
3/4 teaspoon anise extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease large cookie sheet. In large bowl, with wire whisk, beat egg whites, confectioners’ sugar, and flour until blended and smooth. Beat in melted butter, anise extract, and salt.
2. Drop 1 heaping teaspoon mixture onto cookie sheet. Repeat to make 3 more cookies, about 3 inches apart. With small spatula, spread each cookie to a 3-inch round. (Do not place more than 4 on cookie sheet because, after baking, cookies must be shaped quickly before hardening.)
3. Bake cookies 5 to 7 minutes until edges are golden. With pancake turner, quickly remove 1 cookie to wire rack. With hands, gently shape warm cookie to flute edges. Repeat with remaining cookies on cookie sheet. If cookies become too hard to shape, return cookie sheet to oven to soften cookies slightly. Repeat with remaining batter. (Batter will become slightly thicker upon standing.) Store in tightly covered container.
Each cookie: About 40 calories, 1 g protein, 5 g carbohydrate, 2 g total fat (1 g saturated), 6 mg cholesterol, 45 mg sodium.

-magickal associations:
-anise – love (it’s also used to flavor wedding cakes!)
-eggs – healing, protection, fertility
-sugar – love
-butter – spirituality

Throwback Thursday

1982 – Is that the year Hershey’s invented the big Kiss? I do not know. But I will admit that Hershey IS my favorite chocolate bar – American or otherwise.

Hershey’s is another company that has put out some of the best commercials over the years. Who can ever forget the tagline “Hershey’s – The great American chocolate bar.” Can those of you over 40 hear that tune in your head? It gave me a tingling feeling inside and it still does. It brings me back to my childhood imaginings of what America was. A warm and strong place where no one could touch me. Throw in a Coke and a Clydesdale and my world was all right; untouchable.

My mom was not too keen on me eating candies. But my dad on the other hand… 😉 Every time I was visiting with him in Chicago and he went grocery shopping on Sundays, he bought me a Hershey’s chocolate bar. Sometimes we went shopping together, sometimes he went alone, but I could always expect that bar of chocolate. I still eat Hershey’s today. I’ll never forget that memory and the connection I felt between us over a chocolate bar. I miss my dad…Happy holidays in the Summerlands.