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My favorite ukulele player




My favorite ukulele player? That’s a hard one! I don’t know them all, yet!

Jake Shimabukuro is pretty amazing, though! He does all kinds of unusual things with the instrument, and has been playing since he was four! He doesn’t sing, he just plays. So, he has to be one of the best 🙂 My hubby and I went to one of his concerts in Dallas last year.  

Then again, I love the way Iz sounds when he sings and plays.  So mellow and happy.  So sad he died too early.

This girl has unique style and skill. Amazing!!

America’s Got Talent winner, Grace Vanderwaal.  Quirky, cute 🙂 She’s not so much a ukulele player as she is a songwriter…but, it’s all one adorable package.  Oh, I hope she doesn’t get ruined like some other young artists have, by demands of fame and fortune.

So many tutorials on YouTube!! Check out Cynthia Lin

Ukulele Mike



The Ukulele Teacher


I think this kid is pretty cute.  He’s on YouTube teaching ukulele.  This video is pretty old, and his ukulele is out of tune, but I still love it.

YouTube is great to find people who are so much fun to listen to and watch!

James Hill

These girls:


And this is probably the prettiest song I’ve heard on ukulele:


Here’s some of the Kamaka family (of Kamaka Ukuleles) standing around in their ukulele factory, playing some Hawaiian music with Jake Shimabukuro.   I LOVE the ukulele in Hawaii.  Kids, grannies, and everyone puts on colorful clothes, sticks flowers in their hair, and will sing and dance at the merest hint of a suggestion.   It’s so easy to get together with other people, and just play and sing.

There are tons of ukulele players  I love to watch and listen to! So many people, different ages, different styles, all enjoying the ukulele!  See why I like it?  It’s FUN!!!

Happy playing,






On occasion, the little committee of people in my head has a meeting.  They bring up all my faults and mistakes.  “She’s bitchy, and she’s impatient,” one of them says.  “She’s fat.  She has no energy.” remarks a particularly callus one.  “She’s just lazy.” “She’s getting old,not as bright as she used to be.” “She’s just BORING.”

When I start feeling down and discouraged and unworthy, it always helps to pull out this letter from my friend Nancy.  She wrote it a couple years ago, when I needed a letter of recommendation for a job interview.  I told her it was the mother of all letters of recommendation, like a ten minute standing ovation on paper, and I was going out immediately to get the job of Wonder Woman.

In reality, I’m a mere shadow of the person my friend describes.  The truth is, my friend Nancy is the one made of pure gold, and everyone in this world should have someone like her.  I just don’t know how I got so lucky.  Reading her letter always raises my self-esteem, because I love Nancy, and she believes these things about me, and that means I’m Worthy.  This letter is a treasure, and this is the sandy beach internet X where I’m digging the hole to bury it for safekeeping.

So, here it is:

To Whom It May Concern:

It would be difficult to sum up the many excellent qualities of Charlotte McCall — having known her for over forty years — but I would begin with the word Empathetic.  Her ability to quickly zone in on the person — no matter what age or type — allows her to use her nursing skills and flexibility to give the best care possible.  The very minute she walks into a room, she is prepared, eager, focused, and absolutely competent to handle any patient or task.  Even outside of the profession, Charlotte is a natural care-giver and nurturer.  She has made the journey to my home over the years to care for me and my family post-childbirth, after minor surgeries, even some personal losses, and she has taken joy in being a part of the healing and restoration process.  I can think of no other person better qualified or suitable to have on board in any home or institution when it comes to nursing care.  Charlotte McCall’s boundless energy and enthusiasm translates and transcends through every challenge with compassion and strength.

The next term that describes Charlotte is Creative.  She is literally able to “make a silk purse from a sow’s ear,” because she is undaunted even when there are limited materials.  Her talent for improvisation is remarkable, and she is never rattled when things don’t go according to plan, or because there is a lack of something specific to get a job done.  Her dexterity and intelligence almost make her over-qualified for nursing, but she thrives on using her skills with people in need.  She brings relief and joy with her wherever she goes, and becomes a vital part of any team.  Her confidence and experience allow her to be able to perform on her own without supervision, or to be flexible as a team member, or to lead as example and organizer.  Charlotte McCall does not have an ax to grind, or a fragile ego that needs coddling, or to prove herself to anyone.  Her goal is to be the best nurse for the situation and the patient.  She assumes and respects that others feel the same way, and always assumes the best of others.

For the sake of brevity, I end with the word Qualified.  Charlotte has written published articles related to guidelines for families and children for Deaf Education world-wide.  She has presented at national conferences from San Francisco to Washington, D.C.  She is fluent in American Sign Language.  Charlotte has cared for infants, toddlers, teenagers, adults, and the elderly.  She has worked in hospitals, clinics, and home health.  She is a life-long student, eternally curious, adept at discussing biology, health, mathematics, chemistry, and all topics related to the care, growth, function, and healing of the human body.  Charlotte McCall embodies the spirit of what every health care professional strives for — understanding, creativity, empathy, and implementing her skills for the sake of doing everything she can to be helpful.

Please feel free to contact me if you have questions or want more information about Charlotte McCall.  I am happy to tell you how this remarkable woman as sustained me as a friend and affected my whole life and family.  I am familiar with her origins, her family for three generations.


Nancy (last name withheld)

Soup Mix in a Jar


Soup Mix in a Jar
Your friends and family will love this pretty soup mix in a jar that makes a nice, easy supper!
Use different colored ingredients for a festive look.

Layer in a pint jar, as listed (top ingredient at the top
of the jar):
1/3 cup uncooked pasta (to fill the jar) (we used whole wheat mini-shells)
1/4 cup dry lentils (orange)
1/4 cup split peas (yellow)
1/4 cup uncooked rice
1/4 cup dry split peas (green)
2 T. pearl barley
1/4 cup lentils (dark green or brown)
1 bay leaves
2 T beef, chicken or veggie bouillon granules (or two cubes)
2 T cup dried onion flakes
1/4 t. black pepper
1 t. dried garlic powder or flakes
1/2 t. dried Italian seasoning

In a pint jar, layer the ingredients as listed. Using a jar funnel will help keep messes to a minimum. At the top, wrap the pasta in plastic wrap, and place in the jar. Add enough pasta to completely fill the jar all the way to the top (this will help keep the layers from shifting). Seal tightly. You can cover with decorative cloth and tie with a ribbon or string (Use a rubber band to secure, then remove the rubber band after the ribbon is tied).
Attach an instructions label to the jar.
Include the tomatoes, sauce, and some cornbread mix, if you like!

INSTRUCTIONS (tie this label to your jar)

How to make Soup in a Jar
1 half pound ground beef, turkey, pork, ham, or Italian sausage, or leave out the meat for a vegan version!
8 cups water
1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes, with juice
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce

TO PREPARE SOUP: Remove pasta from top of jar, and set aside. In a 6 qt pot over medium heat, brown beef; drain excess fat. Add soup mix, tomatoes, and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover, and simmer 1 hour. Stir in the tomato sauce; bring to a boil, add pasta. Cover and simmer 30 minutes. Serve with fresh cornbread. The person who finds the bay leaf gets to do the dishes! (serves 4-6)

Turkey Carcass Soup

Turkey Carcass Soup


This soup is made from what’s left over after serving the turkey: the bones and the meat that clings to them. Our family jokes about the unappetizing name, but the soup is really very good. It’s mild, flavorful, and so satisfying. Serve with homemade bread.

Prepare the meat and broth:
One turkey carcass (or turkey breast carcass), most of meat removed

This is not an exact science. Use the bones and the meat left on them. It’s best not to use a smoked bird, because the flavor is too intense. But, you can use the smoked meat if you use fresh broth.

Cover the turkey with water in a large (8 quart) stock pot. Season with 1-2 t. salt and a few bay leaves, perhaps some dried parsley. If you like, throw in a carrot or two, a half onion, and a stalk of celery, roughly cut. These vegetables will all be discarded after they release their flavor into the broth. Bring to a boil, then simmer at least an hour. Cool, then remove turkey from bones. If necessary, add some of the turkey that you had previously removed to bring up the amount to 4 cups. Strain the broth. You need 4 quarts of broth for the soup.

2 T. butter
2 cups EACH chopped onion, celery, and carrots
4 quarts broth
2 T. chicken soup base or chicken granules (if necessary)
4 oz. rice or small pasta (such as broken spaghetti) OR 2 cups diced potatoes
2 cups English peas (canned or frozen)
4 cups turkey meat, cooked and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 T. dried parsley
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

To make the soup:
In an 8-quart pot: (you can use the same one), sauté vegetables in butter. Add broth, bring to a boil, and stir in chicken base or granules if broth seems too thin. Add the rice or pasta and cook (uncovered) 20-30 minutes. Stir in meat, peas and seasonings. Heat through (about 10 minutes.)
6-8 servings, depending on what else you have

Note: If you have leftover green beans, lima beans, squash, fresh herbs, etc. add them if it makes you happy.

Chocolate Mousse


This is the best mousse I have ever tasted, hands down. The chocolate flavor and perfect smooth texture are absolutely divine! We used to make this mousse all the time with raw eggs, having gotten the recipe from a little old paperback book called ‘The Seven Chocolate Sins’.  They called this recipe “Mad about Mousse”.

Several years ago, I modified the recipe by cooking the eggs to reduce the risk of salmonella. Then, pasteurized eggs began to be available in some markets.  If you use the pasteurized eggs, you can just put everything into a big Kitchenaid mixer instead of whipping the eggs over heat.

12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
2-3 cups heavy cream
2 T. powdered sugar
4 large fresh eggs (preferably pasteurized)
4 large egg yolks
1/4 t. salt
2 T. Grand Marnier, Godiva liqueur, Tia Maria, cherry brandy, rum, vanilla or espresso

Place chocolate chips in 4-cup Pyrex measuring cup or microwave-safe bowl.
Melt at 50 percent power in the microwave until soft, 1-2 minutes. Stir, cook 1-2 minutes more until melted. Stir until smooth.

Separate the egg yolks carefully, avoiding touching the eggs with the outside of the shells. Save 4 of the whites for another use.

If your eggs are not pasteurized:

Place 4 yolks and 4 whole eggs into the top of a double boiler or a bowl that sits over boiling water in a saucepan. The bottom of the bowl should not touch the water. Add salt; beat briefly with a wire whisk until foamy and light, about 30 seconds. Set the bowl over the water and whip with an electric mixer or whisk, moving in a circular motion around the bowl, until the eggs get very fluffy and hot to the touch (160°), about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and continue beating on high speed until thick ribbons fall from the whisk when lifted out of the bowl, about 5 minutes more.

If the eggs are pasteurized, you can skip the whole hullabaloo in the paragraph above, and just whip up the eggs and salt in the mixer.
Fold about a quarter of the eggs into the chocolate to lighten it, then combine chocolate with the rest of the eggs. Allow egg-chocolate mixture to cool.

Whip cream in a mixer bowl with whisk. Add powdered sugar; continue to beat until cream holds soft peaks (do not allow to get stiff).
Stir in part of the whipped cream to lighten the chocolate-egg mixture, then fold in the rest of the whipped cream gently. Pour the mousse into 8 serving dishes,
teacups, ramekins or wine glasses. Cover and refrigerate until set, about 1 hour.

Variations: Use bittersweet or milk chocolate instead of semisweet.
Increase cream to 3 cups for a lighter, less dense mousse.

Chocolate Stuff (from the Sweet Potato Queens)

chocolate-stuffChocolate Stuff

I got this recipe from a book called ‘Sweet Potato Queens Book of Love’ which I read many years ago.  I loved the book and I love this recipe.  If you want to know more about the Sweet Potato Queens, start here:

I made some adjustments to the recipe, which calls for loaf pans.  I didn’t have enough loaf pans, so I made it in round cake pans, set into bigger round pie pans for the hot water bath, and I think it’s very good that way. The main thing is to make sure it’s cooked enough to not be runny, but not cooked too long so it just becomes a dried-out boring cake.

Chocolate Stuff is really hard to photograph.  If you look at the picture above it looks like a ‘hot mess’. But this is the kind of recipe you don’t serve at a fancy dinner party.  You should probably make this in PJs with really close friends, or maybe your family, and eat it together on a couch or recliners.

Chocolate Stuff
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1 stick butter, melted in a small bowl
1/4 t. salt
1 t. (running over) vanilla
2 heaping tablespoons Hershey’s Cocoa
Optional: A large handful of pecans (you can scatter these on just half of the recipe if you have purists in the house that do not eat nuts with their chocolate.)

Beat the ingredients together and use the part of the butter that sticks to the small bowl to butter a round cake pan. Set the cake pan in another pan which is larger (I use a 10″ pie plate) and pour some water into the bottom pan so you have a
water bath.
Bake at 350 degrees 30 minutes. The top should have a crust much like a brownie. But the bottom should be mushy, like a thick sauce. In the morning the sauce will have hardened to a mooshy consistency. Do not overbake or you will lose the gooey bottom so crucial to the whole texture experience.

If you want to double this recipe, you will be most successful using two cake pans in water baths.

The recipe serves four generously, and six reasonably. Serves one if you’re having PMS or postpartum depression, or if you just broke up with your boyfriend.

Peanut Butter Krispy Treats

peanut-butter-crispy-treatsPeanut Butter Krispy Treats
1 cup sugar
1 cup white corn syrup

Melt together. Turn off heat. Stir in:

1 cup peanut butter
6 cups Rice Krispies

Spread into a large buttered rectangular pan (11” X 15”).
Let cool slightly; smooth the top with buttered hands.
Melt together in the microwave (about 1-2 minutes):

6 oz. (1 cup) butterscotch chips
6 oz. (1 cup) chocolate chips

Spread over top of treats. Cool (refrigerate if necessary to speed cooling). Cut into small squares.

My scrapbooking buddy, Debbie, gave me this recipe. The combination of flavors is so addictive that it’s best to make these only when there is a big crowd to eat them. The treats are a favorite snack at scrapbooking ‘crops.’