The Carousel

Simple joys are worth the wait.

Going around and around on a 96-year-old, hand-carved, wooden horse — while listening to organ music play — seems pretty simple.

On the other hand, restoring these 96-year-old wooden horses and the organ was not simple or inexpensive. But the carousel is a treasured piece of Minnesota history, and many folks decided it was worth the wait and the investment.

I’m glad they did.

To read the heart-warming story of this great ride, click here.

5 Foods I Love in the Fall

It’s Friday! Here are my 5 favorite fall foods. Just because.

1. homemade apple pie, made from freshly picked Harlson apples and all the cinnamon you can find in a 5-mile radius…

…and made-from-scratch pie crust, mostly because I have an affinity for eating raw pie dough. It’s a strange disorder I inherited.

And now I’m gladly passing it along to my children.

We save enough dough to make the actual pie. Usually.

Mmmmm. Can you smell the cinnamon?

2. Honeycrisp apples — so sweet, so juicy, so uniquely Minnesotan!

3. Candy corn — and those cute little candy pumpkins. Yum!

4. Chex Mix — salty, crunchy, and nearly as addictive as candy corn!

5. “Simply Apple” apple juice — a new discovery this year. I don’t even like regular apple juice, but this is more like cider — only pasteurized. It is so delicious!

Here’s the recipe I use for made-from-scratch pie crust, which rolls out wonderfully when sandwiched between two sheets of generously floured wax paper, and it makes a deliciously flaky crust for nearly any pie.

Pie Crust

2 cups flour

2/3 cup shortening

1 tsp. salt

5-6 tablespoons ice water

Combine dry ingredients and use pastry cutter to mix. Add water and use fork to blend. Makes shell and top.

Princesses, Tea and Bucket Lists

This weekend my niece is celebrating her birthday by heading off with her parents to have high tea at the Empress Hotel. I’m trying so hard not to be jealous!

The Empress Hotel is in Victoria, British Columbia. It’s one of the first landmarks you see when you arrive in Victoria by ferryboat. With ivy growing up its outer walls, the building truly looks like a palace.

I was 6 years old the first time I visited the Empress, and that happened to be the same week that Lady Diana married Prince Charles.

Most 6-year-old girls adore weddings, and a real-life princess wedding — well that’s even more magical. But top it off with the fact that the princess-bride shared my name! Cinderella and Snow White could not compete. The real story was far better than a fairy tale.

As the royal wedding was broadcast on television, 705 million people around the world watched the grand event. I remember staying up very late and watching part of it in our hotel room. In my memory, the room was at the Empress, but it could possibly have been another hotel in Victoria. Regardless, it was a magical memory from my childhood that I have long treasured, despite the true story’s tragic ending.

So back to the tea. Although I have had high tea in Canada once, and I have walked through the tea room at the Empress Hotel more than once, I’ve never had tea at the Empress. Truth is, until about seven years ago, I didn’t care much for tea. But since my dear friend Dani re-introduced me to the elegance of tea parties, and since I now have two lovely little tea-drinking daughters, I really, really hope to share a princess tea the Empress Hotel with them someday. In fact, tea at the Empress with my daughters would be in my bucket list. If I actually had a bucket list — a list of things I hope to do before I die.

Not too long ago, Bonita over at Encouraging Words for Writers blogged about bucket lists. Compiling one seems like a fun idea. My dear friend Aimee also has recommended the book 1,000 Places to See Before You Die, which could be required reading for someone compiling such a list. Another inspiring book on the subject, which also happens to be one of my favorite children’s books, is Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney.

Anyway, since I haven’t read the 1,000 Places book yet or given a bucket list much deep thought, I cannot share any sort of official list with you today. I can, however, share a very rough, very short, preliminary list — from off the top of my head — of some things I’d like to see or accomplish.

  • To have high tea at the Empress Hotel with both my daughters
  • To visit Prince Edward Island (It’s where the Anne of Green Gables series is based.)
  • To go horseback riding in Colorado with my children (I did this several times as a kid, and it was so fun!)
  • To visit Austria, Holland, Italy, Spain and England
  • To write a series of children’s books (I’d need someone else to illustrate them!)
  • To write a book about some amazing and inspiring women I know (You just wouldn’t believe what some have done because of their love for God.)
  • To take a college-level photography course
  • To visit Washington D.C.

What about you? Do you have a bucket list? If so, what’s in it? Do share your comments!

They Can Fly!

 While I was busy hosting a women’s Bible study a few weeks ago, my entire family — who had been instructed to shooo away from the house — went up in the air in a recreational aircraft!

A lovely couple from our church owns a Piper Cherokee, and they invited my husband and two daughters to go flying. So off they all went. And they took my camera, too. It was hard not to worry.

They flew over familar territory.

Which was thrilling for them. But I can’t say I was thrilled to learn that my husband was “playing pilot” while they flew over the lake!

That’s our sailboat.

And that’s our house, where I sat inside praying along with my friends! It was probably best that I didn’t know they were flying over the house.

Our pilot friend and his wife helped Linnea earn her Young Eagles certificate, which really made her day.  Thank you G & C!

Not Me Monday: What Happens Up North

Mckmama- Not Me Monday

Unlike Vegas, what happens up north, doesn’t always stay up north.

It’s time to ‘fess up to some things I did last week that may be embarassing (or maybe I just shouldn’t have done) by pretending that I didn’t actually do them.

For starters, while we were up north last week, I most certainly did not allow my 4-year-old to go canoeing all by herself. How dangerous would that be?! She’s still learning to swim! And our family always upholds the rules of safe boating, which my 4-year-old clearly does not grasp, so of course I’d never give her a paddle and let her go all alone into the lake. Not me!

And when my 7-year-old builds a “nature” sailboat and courageously ventures out onto the rocks to get it wet, I never see what’s coming.

When she slips and slides off the rock, soaking the seat of her pants, I never laugh at her embarassing moment or her slumped shoulders and completely exasperated face afterward.

And I’d certainly never publish the blurry photo for all the world to see. Nope, not me. I’m a gentle and sensitive mom all the time. Really.

What’s more, I always pay very, very close attention to what my children are doing at all times, especially when they are near the water.

So I’d never permit them and their friends to over-feed the fish — to the tune of several hundred oyster crackers — simply because they looked so cute standing at the edge of the dock. I never get the least bit distracted by taking pictures. Or by talking to my friend Kate. Not me!

And, lastly, I always ensure that my family eats well-balanced meals, especially on vacation. So I’d never pass off wild raspberries, dough-boys, and Go-gurt as dinner. And I’d never, ever serve up s’mores for dessert after such an imbalanced “meal.” Nope. Not me! 

A Fresh Look

Well, my dear readers, I’ve been doing this bloggy thing for nearly three years now, and I am close to reaching my 150th posting and my 100th comment! Woo-hoo!

To celebrate these frivilous literary milestones, I decided to freshen up my blog a bit. I’ve applied a new WordPress theme, which uses a lovely shade of green. Most folks refer to it as sage, but my friend Jonda loving calls it “Diana green” since it’s my favorite color. She knows this because I have painted four rooms of our house in various shades of this color. So why not paint my blog this color, too?

I also rearranged a few of the widgets on the far right sidebar/column/thingy. I even threw my mug shot up there so you wouldn’t think you’d arrived at someone else’s blog by mistake.

Maybe you already noticed that I created an all-new header? I revised the blog name from “Starlight Ink” to “Starlight Writer.” Ink, they tell me, is becoming mostly irrelevant thanks to digital publishing. Sniff, sniff. It’s so sad but probably true. But I digress.

Please note that I added a new tagline in the header: “Shine like stars as you hold out the Word of Life.” This comes from Philippians 2:14-16, one of the verses that originally inspired the blog name. The other, because I know you’re curious, is Daniel 12:3. (Clicking the links will take you to, truly the most useful and amazing tool online!)

Anyway, I hope you find the new look cheerful, refreshing, and easy to read. Do let me know what you think. Please leave a reply below — it might just be my 100th comment!