Butter Pie

I went to the grocery store today to find it devoid of flour and sugar. I am sure that I will find the necessary groceries somewhere tomorrow or the next day. But it reminded me of when I was a teenager and we had to make do with what was available, which was rarely sugar or sweet fillings.

One of the recipes Mom made was Butter Pie. Her mom made it, and her mom’s mom probably made it. It was one of those things poor people ate, like beans and cornbread and fried potatoes. It is made from inexpensive ingredients usually found in your pantry.

It is a very simple recipe. Take a pie crust, homemade or purchased–Mom used frozen–and fill it with a few simple ingredients.

Sprinkle on a lot of cinnamon and dot with butter.

I usually brush the edges with a beaten egg and sprinkle on more sugar, for an extra crispy crust.

Then simply bake it until the crust is brown and the filling has firmed up. The butter will be a little runny when you take it out of the oven, but as it cools, it will continue to combine.

I have found that the custard-like filling is a good base for berries or peaches or whatever fruit is your favorite. But in the good ole days, it was just plain cinnamon, fresh from the Watkins man.

I made one last night. Being with my mom had made me nostalgic. I remembered her pulling one out of the oven when we lived in Black, Missouri, and that cinnamon smell perfuming the whole house. It was wonderful. Still is.

Butter Pie
by Betty Garrison

1 pie crust
3/4 cup sugar
6 tablespoons flour
2/3 cups milk
Pinch of salt
1/4 pound butter, cut into thin slices

1 beaten egg
2 tablespoons turbinado (raw) sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Put the pie crust into a pie plate. Turn the edges under and crimp by hand or using a fork. In a bowl, whisk the sugar, flour, milk, and salt. Pour filling into the crust. Liberally sprinkle cinnamon over the filling. Dot the pieces of butter over the filling.
If desired, brush the exposed crust with the egg. Sprinkle sugar over the egg.
Bake about 25 minutes, until the filling is set. If the edges of the crust get dark too quickly, cover the pie with aluminum foil. Let it cool before slicing.
Serves 8.

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I spent last week with my Mom. She was in isolation in her apartment before going to her new permanent home in a nursing facility. Boxing up things and moving out of an apartment during a quarantine is not as easy as it sounds, especially when you have a mother who needs constant attention. She is a smoker who uses oxygen and is not always the best at separating the two. My sister and her husband have taken the brunt of this work and frustration. God bless them.

One of the hardest things to deal with, however, was the absence of my stepdad. His recliner was there. His Cardinals jacket was there. His chair on the porch was there. Even his pillow with the “Mr.” pillowcase was there.


But he was gone.

Driving home, I took a different route so I could go through the town where my parents had lived for years. I passed the gas station where Everett always wanted to stop on our way through Poplar Bluff, Missouri. I remember it had the cheapest gas and good fountain Mt. Dew. And, I suspect, a really good price on whiskey.


Then I drove by the trailer they lived in for many years. It has been empty for almost a decade. But memories flooded in. Of my kids crawling on mom’s couch to see the cow that pooped jelly beans. Of eating neck bones and potatoes straight from the pot on her stove. Of Everett slipping in the mud while carrying out their old, being-replaced toilet and hurting his pride more than his behind. Of barbecues and laughter and bedazzling sweatshirts and butter pie. Of pallets on the floor and family and hospitality and friends from out of nowhere.


Theirs was not a glamorous life. It was real and raw and full of love hard-won. It was a good life with great friends, amazing family, and stories—oh, the stories.

Love your people, folks. Love ’em hard. Love ’em like tomorrow may not come. Because, sometimes, it doesn’t.

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Icing on the Cake!

My birthday in quarantine was amazing. I got calls from all my kids. I received cards in the mail and packages from very nice delivery people. There was a fern, fluffy purple slippers, paints, a painting kit, a DVD, and so much love!

Friends stopped by with a fig tree (social distancing was observed). I can see why Adam and Eve chose the leaves of a fig tree for making their loincloths, it is a small tree with huge leaves. But I have to tell you, the new leaves smell like cat pee. We were yelling at Cyrus and looking for pee spots on the floor for half the day—until we realized the aroma was coming from the tree. LOL It is now outside enjoying sunshine and growing yummy figs. Thank you, Lorne and Sherri.


When we lived in Minnesota, our family’s main birthday celebration place was Buca di Beppo. So keeping with tradition, Jeff drove over to Franklin and brought back a lovely dinner from Buca with my favorite Chicken Limone! I am so spoiled.

Then we binge watched the new season of Bosch! It released on my birthday. Yes!


But the icing on the cake was making my birthday cake with the help of my roommate, Randi. She is a professional cake and cookie decorator. (How lucky am I to be in quarantine with her?) We share a love of cooking, baking, and making food pretty. So I asked her to teach me to make a mirror glaze cake. I have seen them done on cooking shows (watch Zumbo’s Just Desserts if you want to be wowed). But I knew there would be tips and tricks to learn from someone who has done them before. It was a blast! The process is really pretty simple.


First Randi made a cake. It was a box of devil’s food cake with added sour cream and mayo for moistness. She baked two six inch cakes that we split in half. I iced each layer with a thin coating of chocolate ganache.


Then I piped a line of ganache on the edge of each layer and filled the center with strawberry filling.


The whole cake was then given a thin layer of buttercream icing. The buttercream evens out the layers and makes a great surface for the mirror glaze to hang onto. It took some finessing to get a finished, smooth surface. Randi had a big plastic icing smoother that worked really well even for a novice like me.


We put the cake in the freezer and made the mirror glaze, dividing it into three colors, white, purple, and teal. It is a very sticky mixture of gelatin, sweetened condensed milk, sugar, and white chocolate. It is sweet but it goes on so thin, it doesn’t overwhelm the cake.


Then it was a matter of pouring the glaze over the cold cake.


Voila! Gorgeous cake with amazing flavor.

My quarantined birthday was fabulous thanks to all the friends and family who showered me with love through social media, deliveries, and calls. I cannot thank you all enough!

But first, let’s eat cake!

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March Madness

How was your March? Mine started off in Florida watching the Cardinals at Spring Training.


siestakeyWe saw games, went to beaches, and had amazing food.

2020-03-01_12-19-36_075If you have never tried Berry Fresh Cafe in Port St. Lucie for breakfast, you are missing out. We almost ditched the game to stay for second breakfast or elevensies. It was truly some of the best breakfast food we have ever had. We had a blast all week long.

And then things fell apart.

The day we were to get up early and head home, we woke to texts from our son saying a tornado hit Nashville, devastating much of North and East Nashville, just blocks from where our sons live, and a whole neighbor near Cookeville, a few miles from where our nephew lives. Thank God the kids were fine except for broken hearts over the loss of some of their favorite eateries and night spots. Neighborhoods, business, and lives were wiped out. The whole scenario brought me to my knees in prayer.


Two days later, on my first day back in the office, I was let go. Restructuring. Again, I was on my knees. Leaving a job that had been my daily life for twelve years was hard. Really hard.

And then things got worse.

COVID-19 came to town before my last day of work. Seriously? You know how that has gone. It is impacting every person on the planet. More prayer. I started looking forward to a new month.

20200325_170910Then April came. My birthday month. Spring flowers. Gorgeous weather. The virus started slowing down.

img_20190310_1453117051702578289602282370.jpgThings were looking up until my stepfather died on April 6. Unexpectedly. He had been in my life since I was four. I was devastated. Another big reason to go to God in prayer.

But how do you pray when the world has gone mad? How do you pray when your list is longer than hours in the day? How do you stop repeating the same things over and over.

I try to have regular conversations with God. I journal. I write lists. Sometimes all I can do is grunt or cry or plead. I don’t think it matters as much what you say as much as simply saying something.

Inspired by Prayer 3-DIn my journal, Inspired by Prayer, there is a chapter on One-Word Prayers for those who can’t find the words. I am happy to send a pdf of that chapter if you think it will be a benefit for you. Just send me an email on the contact page of this website and I will send it right out. You can print it out and journal your prayers or read the chapter and let it help you pick a word to focus on in prayer.

After the madness of March, I am praying more than ever. Before I ask God for anything, however, I thank Him for all the blessings. My kids are safe, I had twelve great years with Ellie Claire, I got to go to the graveside service for my stepdad even with the COVID-19 restrictions.

And I am still thanking Him for that French toast at Berry Fresh.


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It’s Time


While I was sleeping, my phone decided that I was in New York. I am not. I am in Nashville. But the clock on my phone changed to NY time. All. By. Itself. I thought I was sleeping in this morning. I wasn’t. Just had the wrong time. When I realized what was wrong, I tried to change the settings. It is a new phone and it took a minute to figure out where those controls were.

That is when the phone told me that I was not old enough to make changes. Y’all, I’m not ancient, but I am not young by any stretch of the imagination. Certainly I was not born in 2008 as my phone was claiming. I would love to be able to set a clock back and instantly be younger. Where is McFly’s time machine when you need it? I accepted my fate, admitted my age, and came to terms with real time all before coffee.

Time is a tricky thing. You despair of having too little of it until you suddenly have too much.

I lost my job right between the Nashville tornado and the Covid-19 self-quarantining. So a rogue phone isn’t the most surreal thing right in my life right now. Not much seems real. All my kids lost their jobs or lost most of their scheduled hours, as well as their favorite East Nashville hot spots

The whole world seems to be living this surreal dream to some extent. I have friends who have the virus, I know people who lost businesses and homes, and there are thousands of us without jobs. Those are the facts.

But here is the truth: I trust God with it all. He knows what is coming. He knows what I need. He is as close as my next breath. I choose to trust this surreal situation to the one who holds the whole world and all the clocks in His hands. If we lose houses, jobs, or friends, He is still my God and I trust Him. Whether the virus was a plot by one country to exert control over another, I trust God. Whether the banks close and our country sinks into a depression, I trust God. Whether I get the virus or not, find toilet paper or not, or have to start using a bra cup as a face mask, I will continue to trust. He has always taken care of my family. He has always been faithful to me. Why would I abandon that and panic now? Even if I suffer, He is a good God.

“That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever” (2 Corinthians 4:16–18 NLT).

What are you seeing now? Pain, hardship, inconvenience? Don’t give into it. Find the good, the fun, the tasty. Play a game. Bake bread or cookies or lasagna (or all of those). Help a neighbor. Encourage a friend. Pray, journal, dance, have long conversations with old friends, pet your dog, annoy your cat, read a good book, read the Good Book, prepare a budget…or use the time to start working on your big dream. How you handle the waiting determines the success of your next steps. If you have been given the gift of time during this pandemic, don’t simply wait until life gets back to normal, make something wonderful out of what you’ve been given.

lasagnaI am spending some of my time building a website, writing, updating our business plan, learning to draw, and looking for jobs. But I am also adventuring in the kitchen. I am trying new recipes and updating old ones. I love tinkering in around the stove. Oh, the cakes, truffles, and breads we can try! We may gain, as some are saying, “the quarantine fifteen,” but I can live with that. But if the eating gets too out of control,  I may need to petition you for some TP.

How are you filling your time? Please leave a comment and let me know. Are you cooking, watching Disney+, writing your memoir, building that shed, painting a wall or a portrait, surviving? Starting an Etsy shop that sells bedazzled face masks? Give me suggestions on what to try next, especially if it includes a recipe!


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Honoring Heroes for Lent

Last night Jeff and I watched Taking Chance on Amazon Prime. Excellent movie. Quiet. Full of dignity. It is the story of a military escort seeing the body of Lance Corporal Chance Phelps to his family in Wyoming. (Info at http://www.hbo.com/movies/taking-chance.)

On the fourth day of Lent, I am thankful for the warriors, military and civilian, who defend our freedoms, including the one to observe Lent. And I salute those who give their fallen comrades the dignity and respect they deserve.

This movie was an eye opener for me. I know we lose good men and women in the line of duty way too often but I had no idea what goes on when they make their final trip home. I am humbled and proud that we care for our fallen military with such dignity and caring. I pray to have half the courage of these heroes in the face of my personal adversities. And I pledge to double my support and respect for our military and first responders who face the evils of the world to protect our freedom. Thank you for your service. May God bless you and may America give you the respect you deserve!

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Cupcake Thank Yous

IMG_20190307_215909299When you meld together two companies, one that is very entrepreneurial and one that is globally bureaucratic, it takes a minute before everything works smoothly. Worthy and Ellie Claire have been part of Hachette Nashville for almost six months but only recently have we combined servers, printers, and offices. The result has been one big IT gallimaufry! You would think we were mixing Hatfield wires with McCoy servers.

Today all my systems signed me out and wouldn’t let me back in–smack dab in the middle of the day. I tried everything my puny brain knows to try in these situations to no avail.

Then Courtney, the visiting, overworked, “fixing IT problems is my super power” girl who is on loan to us from the Boulder office waved her magic wand (or logged into the administrative system, whatever) and fixed my problem. In five minutes.

I love her.

IMG_20190307_215858180Tonight I made her cupcakes to let her and the other IT people know how thankful I am that that they are defending us against the technology behemoth that is plaguing us.

She left her family in Colorado to step into our crazy world! If making cupcakes can make her half as happy as her help has made me, I will be doubly satisfied! Thank God for intelligent IT people. And for cupcakes. 

(I made keto muffins for the gluten free, sugar free, dairy free in the office. I am not a monster!)

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roosterWhen I was growing up, the only thing I knew about lint was that it got stuck between my toes. One side of my family was General Baptist and the other Pentecostal. Neither observed Lent.

Then I married Jeff. He had attended a bona fide, nuns with rulers, uniform-required Catholic school. Lent was a real thing to his family. Fish on Fridays and giving up things for forty days every Spring. I found the idea fascinating. I was raised with fasting and praying. The concept is similar. But this was a whole new level.

Practiced by Catholics, Methodist, Anglicans, Episcopalians, and others, Lent is observed in remembrance of the forty days Jesus was tempted in the desert. They go without things like a meal per day, coffee, social media, etc. in order to experience, to a very small degree, what Jesus went through while fasting and being tempted for forty days. Some people add a discipline like prayer, daily devotional reading, or almsgiving. Fasting and praying is doing both—taking away one thing to concentrate on another. That works for me. I usually spend the forty days taking time from other activities to give thanks for the large and small blessings in my life. It redefines my prayer time, putting more emphasis on thanking God than whining about the lint in my toes.

36259276_10214680546960461_5767838201729253376_oSo to begin my Gratitude for Lent season, I am thanking God for my little brother! His birthday is today. I talked to him this evening. He was making a deal to buy one hundred roosters. Yes. One hundred roosters. He recently sold one hundred forty roosters. So this is just another Thursday to him. He was born loving animals. There was always a pig, chick, or puppy in our house being nurtured by Virgil. People would bring the runts of litters from all kinds of critters to him when we were growing up. Maybe he did so well with the animals because he was a runt himself. He was amazing at caring for them and breathing life into their little bodies. I think they were too afraid of letting him down to die on his watch.

I was in awe of him. I still am. Who buys and sells roosters one hundred at a time? My awesome brother, that’s who! He may be my half brother, but he is twice the rooster deal-maker than the average Joe. Thank God for little brothers!

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Twice the Character

Sun in a glass shard

Examining my character.

Yesterday someone I have known basically my whole life passed away. Last week he went in for heart surgery, the kind that is performed all the time, and due to complications, today his family is making funeral arrangements. He was in his early sixties.

It is so human of us to wonder how we will face death. Am I ready? Am I square with God? Do I have emotional or spiritual debts to be paid before I go? Who would even show up to my funeral? If it was open mic what would people say? (That is a rhetorical question!) Will my character hold up? Or will my failures and faults prevail? And which friend will be singing “Ding Dong the Witch Is Dead” under her breath?

Lately I have been taking a closer look my character. Piece by piece I have been holding it up to God’s light, turning it over, examining it from every angle, hoping to understand why it is as it is. I honestly don’t know why God’s truth shines through parts of my character to illuminate the world around me while other shards are cloudy and block God’s light. The dark parts have come from the life I’ve lived and the choices I’ve made. I am pretty sure not even Norwex could shine that stuff up. But I am trying and am trusting God to help me.


I started reading the book, Didn’t See It Coming by Carey Nieuwhof. (Thank you, Stephen!) Talk about examining your character. Nieuwhof understands how easily character can be eroded and the importance of safeguarding it. He outlines seven challenges we all face and offers effective ways to rise above each challenge. I am highlighting passages left and right in this sucker. That character flaw right there? Yeah, I have that. And that one. And, embarrassingly enough, that one too.

Why is it so hard to fix my character? I truly, genuinely, certifiably want to…

But it is so easy to compromise just a little. And then little more. And then more.

I feel like Paul, “I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it” (Romans 7:15). This could be my life verse!

Nieuwhof writes, “The antidote to compromise is simply this: work twice as hard on your character as you do on your competency.” I was in school, college, and grad school working on my competency for more years than I’m willing to admit. (I think it was my way of making up for being a high school dropout.) If you count retreats, seminars, conferences, and professional development, we are talking well over twenty years of education. How many years have I worked on my character? Do fractions count? The good news is that if I live long enough to work that hard on character, I might actually be alive for the maiden voyage of the Enterprise!


This brings me to the half and double connection. If I work twice as hard on my character and compromise half as much each day for the rest of my life, maybe mic night at my wake will be filled with hallelujahs! Or maybe a Bee Gees song. Or someone quoting the opening credits to Star Trek! Or someone dressed in a Starfleet uniform singing a Bee Gees song. Or maybe, just maybe, one or two people who will say, “I saw God’s light through her.” That is boldly going to the final frontier.

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Welcome to Half & Double

0905161335One weekend my husband and I went on a road trip to a couple state parks. Lots of food and snacks and hiking. Well, some hiking. When we returned I made the huge mistake of stepping on the scale. The number that blinked up at me was not a welcome sight. Not. At. All. How can it be that I was eight pounds heavier than when I was at full term with my first child? That can’t be. I gained forty pounds during that pregnancy. The number glaring at me was absurd. I got off the scale, gave it a good shake, and got back on. Got back off, changed the battery. Got back on.

Same blasted number. Honestly, I was tempted to throw the crazy thing out the bathroom window. I just stared at it. If looks could melt metal, plastic, and glass, that thing would have burst into flames and burned through the floor all the way down to the crawl space. I took a moment to visualize that. It would make a lovely fire. Toasty. Perfect for marshmallow roasting. Marshmallows! That vision made me smile and hungry.roasting-marshmallows

Then I had to turn to the mirror and confront the reality that was an ever-expanding me. I could live with it or do something about it. Two simple choices. I decided to do something.  I’ve done enough diet and exercise plans in my life to know that I’ve lost the sort of discipline where I can drink vinegar, honey, and peppercorn shakes three times a day and act like it’s tolerable. Bleh. That’s so 2010. But I had heard of people who divide all their meals into two equal parts and save half for another meal or share it with a friend. I can cut a hamburger in half. Surely. Or eat half a piece of pie. Or drink my tea half sweet/half unsweet. I can do that.

And to take it one step further, what if I also doubled the healthy eats or the exercise or the water drinking? Or all of that? Whoa! That seems like a Jedi mind trick to keep myself from feeling like I am completely giving up my favorite stuff. Half the chips; double the carrots. Half the donuts; double the oatmeal. Half the social media surfing; double the walking. Half the things that are taking me to the dark side; double the things can propel me toward liking the scale again.

Do this, I can. (Yes, I hear the Yoda voice in my head.) yoda-star-wars

How hard can it be? Simply eat half of my normal intake and double my exercise?  The food part could be tough—I like the food. A lot. Better than I like most people. But I probably eat twice as much as I need. Definitely. And the exercise part should be a piece of cake (oh, I wish—cake!). I don’t exercise now, so doubling it shouldn’t be too hard, right? Just double any activity I am doing. So when I walk to the bathroom, I will make the trip twice. When I go up the stairs at work, I will go up, down, then up again. When I forget my phone in the car in the parking garage, I will go to the garage and back, and to the garage and back again. (It would be too embarrassing to say how often this happens. But on the bright side, it may be enough to be considered a workout strategy.)

So that is how Half & Double began. Just a way to trick myself into taking better care of my health and making sure that I don’t end up having only one pair of yoga pants and an oversized shirt that fit. Because, unfortunately, that would not pass for dress code at the office.

And then I started thinking, why stop there? I can take this half and double idea to all areas of my life. Half the worry; double the prayer. Half the criticism; double the praise. Half the frustration; double the patience. Half the waiting for things to happen; double the making things happen. Half anything that is bad for or hurting me; double anything that is good for or helping me. Pardon me, but this is brilliant! Half and double. An incredible simply concept. Even I understand fractions and multiplication enough for this.

What would you like to half and double? What is stopping you? Join Yoda and me. Start a revolution, we can. Are you ready?

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Morning with Mom

Morning light filtered through kitchen blinds to illuminate our honey buns and steaming coffee. Mom and I. Sitting over morning sweets. With our ever-present companion, cigarette smoke. Always smoke. Even now. Always.momscigaretteJust like that I was transported to our Chateau house in St. Louis when I was four. Mom worked for A&P, packaging sweets. She brought the little mini chocolate donuts and honey buns home for us to eat on those days when we were up and the morning light came filtered through the window. Now and then. Mom and sweets. Cigarettes and always.

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The Small Joys of Spring

On day five of Lent, I am thankful for the little signs of joy that are sprouting up around our area. The incessant rains have kept most of the tulips at bay. But there were still lots of little spots of joy when Jeff and I walked through Cheekwood Sunday afternoon.


Sunny daffodils.


These gorgeous pink flowers (whatever they are called).


Two or three struggling tulips.


Bright orange pansies.


And rows of beautiful hyacinths.

Wherever you live, whatever weather you are experiencing, find the joy of the moment. If you look beyond the gloom, cut the negative thoughts in half, and double the thank you prayers, everything will be coming up roses or daffodils or purple hyacinths before you know it! I am praying that you are able to find the little dots of joy in the brown landscape of your day! #gratitudeforLent


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Through Car Windows

IMG_20190308_171415790.jpgOn the third day of Lent, I am grateful for car windows. I have seen many beautiful, scary, crazy, and awe-inspiring things through the windows of my car. Today from my windshield I saw a dark road made shiny by rain, hugging a tree-lined river that led me home. I am so thankful that this is part of my everyday commute.

Whether I am driving to work or to Wisconsin, I love watching the world outside my windows.


I have seen sunrises on lakes.


And sunsets in neighborhoods.


Snow capped churches.


Curious dogs.


Shimmering arches.


Foggy flags.


And Jesus.

Looking forward when we drive is necessary. But seeing what is right in front of us takes a different kind of focus.

I am thankful for all the car windows that have provided a constantly changing panorama of awesome in my life. May this Lenten season bring you half the scary drives and double the views of Jesus.


(A backward glance through a rearview mirror is not a bad idea once in a while.)



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