Wednesday, March 15, 2017


Yesterday I found myself sitting across a lunch table from an extremely bright, articulate, engaging woman who I have been blessed to know for years. She is a walking, talking history reference manual about the city where I was born and raised and currently live.  This city has been the brunt of a lot of bad press over the years because it borders a military base.

There were decades,when I was a little girl, when the downtown was not a very pretty or welcoming place to be.We all wondered if anything would change. It was honestly depressing. But…… change has come, albeit slowly, for the better. Decades ago the city began a redevelopment project to give our beloved town a face lift. And over time that has happened in a lovely way. Sometimes, when things are done well, the results outweigh the initial hopes. And I believe that was the outcome here.The facelift had a depth to it – that can be seen and felt by residents and businesses alike. I am so proud to live here and so excited to see all that is happening around me. Every week new businesses are coming to the downtown (affectionately known as Coast Highway, formerly Hill Street). Great little bistro pubs and craft breweries and specialty foods are popping up on every street.There are families wandering the streets morning, noon and night. There is live theater amid it all, and every Thursday part of the bustling downtown closes for a Farmers Market during the day, and a Sunset Market in the evening – with amazing food and entertainment.

I love this city, but not just because of what it is becoming, but because of the people who have come before and not only shared their dreams, but made their dreams a reality for themselves and for generations to come.
We sat and talked yesterday about why I was involved with various organizations here in the community.To say it is because I love it here is just too simple. The reason is so deep that it is difficult to find the words to really convey the “why”.  I had amazing role models. My parents were transplants in the 40s here – my Mom from New York and my Dad from Iowa. I won’t bore you with the details of their time here, but suffice to say they created wonderful lives that were rich with friendships. It didn’t matter what their career or religion was; the common thread was that everyone cared about each other. Together they gave back to this city that had given them the opportunities to chart their own path to success and brought them such a wonderful place to live and love.

It is because of them, of what I saw every day of my life, that gave my life a purpose I never truly realized for many years. The commitment was in my heart and soul, but remained dormant until my Dad passed away. It was only then that I became aware of the importance of the gift they had left me…the deep and unshaking love for my community. Oh, I didn’t realize that easily or quickly. I had to go through a year of darkness, grieving the loss of not only my last parent, but my best friend. I was in my 50s, but I felt like a lost child. Everyone grieves differently and it is a process for sure. But as I started to come out of that black hole, I could begin to accept not only the gift, but the responsibility that was now mine. My parents had created an incredible legacy of support and commitment to this city. And it was now up to me to continue their legacy as best I could. With the help of friends, I began to explore the organizations they loved to see if there was something I could possibly do to help on a small level. Initially it was overwhelming – they had done SO much and changed so many lives for the better. But it was also exciting to hear stories about them that I never knew, and look for ways to honor them by continuing their work in my own way. It was also a time of growth for me. I soon learned that what mattered more than anything was a willingness to be open and to let my heart lead me. And that I did. And surprisingly, the more I opened my heart, the easier it was to embrace the path that had been left for me.

I love Oceanside.I love the people. And I am grateful every single day to be a small part of the heartbeat of this beautiful city. My life has been blessed in so many ways.

Ok – enough philosophizing for one day!
I  hope to have more to share soon! Am planning some new cards and new cooking and baking adventures!

Stay tuned….
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Thursday, March 2, 2017

Zucchini Chocolate Cake - the BEST!

I made this cake a few days ago and almost didn't get a picture of it.  Have had neighbors and family enjoying it (and I snuck a few bites in there as well) and kept forgetting to snap a photo.  So finally grabbed a couple last night and even included one "a la mode".

Actually - that paragraph was written back in December and then life got away from me.  So....... it looked like I needed an excuse to make this delicious cake again - so I did!!  It is unbelievably easy to make and the zucchini makes it so moist that you think it it much more decadent than it is.  Adding the dark chocolate chips makes it a bit "healthier"  - right?? 

Best Chocolate Zucchini Cake

adapted from Mel's Kitchen Café

3 large eggs
1 T. vanilla extract (I use Vanilla Bean Extract Crush)
1 1/2 c. organic cane sugar
1/4 c. plain Greek yogurt
1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. oil (melted coconut, avocado or canola  - I used coconut oil)
2 c. shredded zucchini
1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 t. salt
1 t. baking soda
1/4 t. baking powder
1/2 c. mini chocolate chips (added to the batter with the zucchini)
1/2 c. dark chocolate chips (totally optional but purely divine!)

Preheat the oven to 350.  Grease a 13x9" pan with cooking spray or oil and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, vanilla, sugar, buttermilk and oil until well blended.  Stir in the shredded zucchini.

Add the flour, cocoa powder, salt, soda and baking powder. Stir until well combined and no streaks of flour remain. Do not over mix.

Spread the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the 1/2. c. dark chocolate chips over the top. They will melt in and just add more delicious flavor.

Bake in the oven for about 25-35  minutes or until the top of the cake springs back when lightly touched and/or a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let cool completely.  You can sprinkle powdered sugar on the top right before serving, frost it with your favorite frosting, serve it a la mode, or just enjoy it plain. It is so moist and good and with all of that zucchini and dark chocolate - it's even good for you!! (well, I can rationalize just about anything!)  You will want to make this again and again! 
(I cut half of it into bars and put them in the freezer.  It helps to keep it out of sight for times when temptation takes over! And it's also a treat to open up the freezer and realize there is a delicious snack/dessert whenever I want it!)

The ice cream takes this moist wonderful cake to dessert nirvana!

It is as moist and luscious as it looks.....

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