Simple Pleasures for this 4th of July

If you need a tasty recipe for this Fourth of July weekend brunch or summer picnic here is a Strawberry Yogurt Muffin recipe that is sure to be a crowd pleaser!  I used fresh strawberries for this recipe. The strawberry aroma of the muffins while baking and while on the cooling rack afterwards was heavenly! I bake for the sure pleasure of the fragrant aroma and to please my guests with something tasty.

                                                  Photo of muffins after baking

WP_20150629_005We really could use a scratch and sniff button for this photo!

INGREDIENTS: 2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon baking powder.  1/2 cup vanilla yogurt, 2 cups sliced strawberries, 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar, 1/2 cup canola oil, 1 large egg.

DIRECTIONS: Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a muffin tin by lining it with paper liners.
In a large bowl, combine flour with baking soda and baking powder.
With your mixer, combine the freshly sliced strawberries with vanilla yogurt, brown sugar, canola oil, and a egg.
Slowly pour the dry ingredients into the wet and mix to combine. Fill each muffin cup 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a tooth pick inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean.  
 Enjoy the smiles on your guests faces as they take their first bite of these moist and scrumptious muffins!
I captured this photo recently of local majestic American flags blowing in the breeze with fireworks above them. The songs, This Land is Your Land  and Independence Day came to my mind. What comes to your mind when viewing this photo?
Have a safe and Happy Independence Weekend
See you soon with more Sweet Conclusions!
independence day photos 2015 scr5

Backyard nature moment!

I leave my window slightly open so I can hear the cardinal’s sweet song. It gives my day a touch of heaven and brings me closer to my angelic parents.  Cardinals have special meaning to many people.

The Northern Cardinal

The male is a vibrant red, mid-sized songbird. The female is a brownish – dull red. The male behaves territorially, marking out his territory with song. In summer, their sweet whistles are one of the first sounds of the morning. In winter, they are breathtaking in winter’s snowy backyards.

  I love nature and hope you enjoy these photos! Today as the female took a bath the male protected her. I was able to capture the moment to share with you.

cardianls 2015Until next time with more of life’s sweet conclusions,


Yesterday Marked the Eight Hundredth Birthday of the Magna Carta

The Magna Carta is one of the most famous documents in the world. Magna Carta, meaning ‘Great Charter’ has inspired people across the centuries, from Thomas Jefferson to Mahatma Gandhi. But why was the charter originally created and what does it actually say?

Let’s take a trip back in time to medieval England. It’s the year 1215 and King John is in power. Very few would disagree that King John was one of the worst kings in history. He imprisoned his former wife, starved his opponents to death and allegedly, he even murdered his own nephew. What a nasty man.

King John imposed heavy taxes on his barons in order to pay for his expensive foreign wars, and they who refused to pay were punished and had their property seized.

king_john-11The barons demanded King John obey the law. When he refused, they captured London and King John was forced to negotiate. The two sides met at Runnymede on June 15, 1215 and the result of these negotiations was written down by the King’s clerks into the document we know today as the Magna Carta.

Although most of the carter’s clauses dealt with medieval rights and customs, the Magna Carta has become a powerful symbol of liberty around the world. The most famous clause that is still a part of the law today is that all men should have the right to justice and a fair trial. No man shall be arrested or imprisoned except by the judgment of their equals and by the law of the land. However, this clause was not as liberal as it appeared to be. The charter only applied to free men, and the vast majority of people in 1215 were unfree peasants, who were ruled over by their landowners. And although the Magna Carta was created to keep peace between King John and his barons, England was plunged into civil war after the Pope declared the charter invalid.

magna_cartaWhen King John died of dysentery in 1216, nine year old Henry lll took to the throne. To keep the peace, the Magna Carta was reissued several times during the 13th century, until it was finally made part of English law. The Magna Carta has lived on for eight hundred years and is echoed in the United States Declaration of Independence and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.


Perhaps the Magna Carta’s most important legacy is that everybody today, including our leaders, must follow the law of the land. What began as a document of specific complaints from a group of barons has turned into an international symbol of liberty.

Until next time with more Sweet Conclusions,


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Hope among the thorns …

Every rose bush has thorns. This baby bird found a tiny spot among the thorns on this branch to relax.  It allowed me a wonderful photo opportunity. It also gave me hope and peace to view nature. A new life of a baby bird and a rose bud opening.

Roses with thorns have long been a symbol of adversity, as well as sacrifice. Abraham Lincoln said, “We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.” 

RobinIn Oscar Wilde’s famous work, “The Nightingale and the Rose,” a nightingale pierces its breast on a rose thorn so the lover may have a red rose for his beloved.

The thorns, while unpleasant to gardeners, serve a practical purpose. They guarantee that roses survive the wiles of humans and animals.

Oh for the beauty and fragrance in life if we only look!

I noticed this tree has a single heart-shaped leaf in the most unusual place – making it one very unique tree. 

  treeI often realize that each adversity in my life makes my heart much more sensitive and beautiful. As it is in each adversity that we stop and truly notice life all around us in a different … unique way … making us grateful for each new moment to be alive.

Take a moment today and find your own hope among the thorns …

Until next time with more Sweet Conclusions,


A FREE Gift …

There are approximately 3 billion fortune cookies made each year around the world, the vast majority of them used for consumption in the United States. Fortune cookies are often served as a dessert in Chinese restaurants in the United States and some other countries.

A fortune cookie is a crisp cookie with a piece of paper or “fortune” in the inside on which words of wisdom or a prophecy is written. The message may also include a Chinese phrase with translation or a list of lucky numbers.Fortune-Cookies

There is an old joke that no fortune out of a fortune cookie is complete without the words “in bed” being added to them at the end.  

Last evening I had the hilarious pleasure of one such profound fortune as we went around the table sharing our fortune cookie verses. 

My post today isn’t about the fortune found in my cookie last night but about the gift of sharing laughter! 

Yes, sharing laughter!

I am talking about laughing so hard that you have tears rolling down your cheeks!

I have found out in my life that no matter how rough my day is or life situation might be – that cleansing my soul with laughter will make me feel better! 

Perhaps, the biggest benefit of laughter is that it is free and has no known negative side effects!

Laughter decreases “stress” hormones.

Laughter decreases blood pressure.

Laughter appears to tell the immune system to “turn it up a notch.”

Laughter can reduce pain and aid the healing process. For one thing, laughter offers a powerful distraction from pain.

Laughter truly is the best medicine! Feeling rundown? Try laughing more. Some researchers think laughter just might be the best medicine, helping you feel better and putting that spring back in your step.

Researchers aren’t sure if it’s actually the act of laughing that makes people feel better. A good sense of humor, a positive attitude, and the support of friends and family also play an important role, too.

One pioneer in laughter research, William Fry, claimed it took ten minutes on a rowing machine for his heart rate to reach the level it would after just one minute of hearty laughter.

And laughter appears to burn calories, too. Maciej Buchowski, a researcher from Vanderbilt University, conducted a small study in which he measured the amount of calories expended in laughing. It turned out that 10-15 minutes of laughter burned 50 calories.

Laughter is a gift we can give ourselves ~ try a dose every day!


Until next time with more Sweet Conclusions,





Memorial Day Remembrance

The nation pauses on Memorial Day to honor Americans who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

The largest remembrance ceremony in Minnesota will be held at Fort Snelling National Cemetery.

Memorial events at Fort Snelling began on Saturday, but will continue today with a parade at 9:30 a.m., followed by a program at 10 a.m. with music and speeches from special guests, including U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Gov. Mark Dayton. Other ceremonies will be held at parks, veterans homes and cemeteries across the state.



Memorial Day in Washington:

President Obama will host a breakfast Monday morning with veterans and their families. He will then head to Arlington National Cemetery, where he will lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and deliver a speech to honor fallen military members.

Litchfield, Minnesota Cemetery Photos:


PathmemorialdayflagsLet each living citizen of the United States of America give tribute to the men and women killed while serving our great nation.  God Bless.

Until next time with more Sweet Conclusions,




Thank You Salute of Respect

This April 2015 marks 70 years after the Battle of Okinawa during the last months of WW II. We must salute all who fight for freedom everywhere.

The 82-day-long battle lasted from early April until mid-June 1945.The Invasion of Okinawa was the bloodiest land battle in the Pacific.  Thousands died and many were wounded in this war. My father was one American service man that was wounded and received a Purple Heart. I recall growing up hearing my father cry out in his sleep over a nightmare of the terrors of this infliction. He never spoke about the island, the scattered bodies, the smell of death — but decades later, nightmares of one of the bloodiest battles of World War II still woke him up from his sleep soaked in sweat.

My father did tell me of fighting and sleeping in wet, muddy trenches for weeks so this photo from 1945 in Okinawa speaks volumes of those eighty-two days. okinawamarineorphan-600


Click here for a short video clip of a veteran remembering the invasion seventy years later. It is well worth the minute to watch. God Bless America and the memory of Veterans on this 70th anniversary.

Until next time with more Sweet Conclusions,




Where have you looked?

Have you ever pondered what your world would be like without certain senses?  To not be able to taste your favorite food or drink a refreshing glass of raspberry lemonade, to not be able to smell the lingering fragrance of a loved one’s clothing item left behind in a closet, to not be able to hear the majestic cardinal sing, to not be able to feel the touch of velvet between your finger tips, or not to be able to view a rainbow and see the amazing sign of hope light up the sky …

I live in a world where I am not able to experience some of my senses and you may also. The senses I do experience are magnified because of the ones not being utilized.

Every morning there is a sunrise, each night a sunset, both beautiful signs of hope. One for the new day, of hope of promises and dreams. The other ending the day with new memories with hope and dreams of tomorrow. I hope you stop long enough in your day to enjoy a sunrise and a sunset.

I have been fortunate to view a variety of rainbows this past week.

At a recent Sweet Conclusions event, I presented the framed photo of a rainbow  taken outside of our bedroom window with the verse from Gavin:

Eyes lifted to greet it, the delight crest of the rainbow just touching it with faint embraces”P1080605 sc post


1: a curved line of different colors that sometimes appears in the sky when the sun shines through rain

2: a multicolored array

A double specular rainbow of hope appeared after a recent thunderstorm in central MinnesotarainbowIt was amazing to view the full spectrum!

(my cell phone photo does not do it justice)

I found another rainbow in the most unusual spot …  WP_20150412_002If you guessed my cat’s tail – you are correct!

Look at this rainbow beautifully displayed on my clothing

WP_20150313_011Signs of hope are everywhere … where have you looked to find your promise of hope today?


Until next time with more Sweet Conclusions


Heralds of Spring Continues …

Heralds of Spring part 1

Last April I shared some of the astounding beauty of spring flowers. I feel that there is nothing more refreshing than spending time with nature. The joy of new life given to us in flowers is truly a gift anytime of the year but especially after the long winter.

Let’s visually go to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival in the state of Washington. Each year more than 1 million visitors come to experience over 300 acres of brightly colored tulips!

Here is just one of the fields of glorious colors with the Cascade Mountains in the background!  Absolutely breathtaking!

(photo taken a few days ago by a friend visiting the festival

thank you for sharing the beauty with us)

scenes tulip mountains

Who is behind the tulips at the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival? 

(Interesting information from Skagit Valley Web Site)

The Roozen family business of growing Tulips, Daffodils and Irises is the largest in the world, covering Skagit Valley in the State of Washington with more than 1200 acres of field blooms and 15 acres of greenhouses.  William Roozen emigrated from Holland in 1947 with years of experience in the bulb industry.

The Roozen family’s hard work ethic spans at least six generations. The family first began raising tulips in Holland in the mid-1700’s. 

Unique heart – shaped tulip design

heart mdb photography0_2956342319863387093_n

Blue Skies ~ Tulips



blue skies

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They are the Oppressed

If you are sitting here reading this article, you are very lucky indeed. Trust me, it’s not because it’s written by me or because I believe it’s such a great article. You are lucky simply because you are allowed to sit here and read, period. An estimated 4.4 billion people around the world do not or are not allowed to use the Internet. In some countries it is allowed, although is censored without mercy. More than 23 percent of the world’s population have no say in how they are governed and face severe consequences if they attempt to exercise their basic rights.

We in the west are incredibly fortunate. We are permitted freedoms far beyond the imaginations of so many others. We take freedom for granted, have grown up with it and have little understanding of a world without it. There are ongoing debates about the oppression of women in the west and let’s be serious, its women who are oppressed the most. The oppression of women in the west though is nothing compared to women in many other countries.

Imagine not having the right to an equal vote or medical care, a decent education or the right to drive a car. Imagine being forced into an arranged marriage or not being able to leave home as you wish. Imagine not being able to choose a career, not being able to take legal action against your abuser, whether to become pregnant or not. Imagine not being able to choose your own clothes, read a good book, write a nice story, view or create the art of your choice or of not having the same freedoms as men in your society. Isn’t that a terrible notion?

Her name isn’t important. She’s just a face in the crowd, another woman in another part of the world, getting by the best she can. She grew up in a home where her family were barely earning enough to support six children. Her father worked making packaging boxes while her mother cleaned toilets for a living. When she was fourteen, she was engaged to be married. It was an arranged marriage of course, and they had never really spent that much time together, although she felt sure she should could learn to love him.

Then one night though, she was attacked by three men, raped and left for dead. When her husband-to-be found out about this, she was considered ‘used’ and was no longer worthy of him. Now, pushed out onto the streets like yesterday’s headlines, she begged for food and finally, she procured a job. She became a cleaner, doing the same job as her mother had done for so many years. Living on the streets, hiding in the dark of night, each and every sound causing her heart to jump with fear, she still managed to make it to work each morning. Hunger constantly with her, she struggled through each day, each pay, each morsel, still hoping, still praying for better times to come.

At sixteen years of age she finally met and married a man. His mother had asked for her hand in marriage because she was sick and there was nobody who could cook in the home. It was a marriage of convenience, one that took her off the streets and helped an elderly woman too sick to do the housework alone. Her husband barely worked, preferring to lounge around the shabby, two-bedroom apartment.

Now living with an abusive husband, who is unreliable and who still only goes to work when he can be bothered, who takes her wages as soon as she receives such a pittance for her hours of hard work, she still fights to survive in a part of the world that really doesn’t care if she lives or dies. The violence has almost ended her life on several occasions, the fractured bones, broken teeth and miscarriages have become routine for her. Stripped of all dignity, this young lady, not yet in her twenties, looks haggard and exhausted and still she struggles in a world that doesn’t care.

Of course, this isn’t a true story… or is it? It’s not far off the truth for millions of women across this planet that we call Earth. There are an estimated 7.250 billion people on this planet. Assuming that half that number are women and that half that number again are living in countries where they have little to no worth, doesn’t that make you stop and think? It sure makes me stop and think.

So today is your lucky day. Today is the day you get to sit back, male or female and just live the dream. But remember that as you live the dream, millions of women across this planet can only dream the life.

Until next time with more Sweet Conclusions,


SC dream