Archive for December, 2011

On a cold Sunday afternoon, my favorite things to cook are a big pot of soup or a roast in the oven. Here’s my favorite vegetable soup recipe:

Deb’s Christmas Vegetable Soup

3 cans each: peas, green beans, corn

Add 1 bag baby carrots & chopped cabbage (1/2 head)

Put it 1 lb. ground beef (crumble it up- don’t need to precook it)

Add 2-3 large cans of V8 juice to fill large pot

Simmer 2-3 hours. Add rivels 15 min. before serving.

Rivels: (these are PA Dutch mini dumplings)

Mix in small bowl with fork: 1 egg and ¾ cup flour with a little salt. Drop into soup and stir to break up.

And my favorite roast beef recipe, cooked in my large red Le Creuset Dutch oven:

Chipotle-Coffee Pot Roast (from Country Home magazine)





1/4  TSP. SALT










See the Country Home magazine website for directions.

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Favorite gift ideas

With the holidays approaching, I always am looking for interesting gift giving ideas. Here are some of my favorite sensory gifts:


For smell…

  • Aveda Soothing Aqua Therapy Bath Salts, discovered at a hotel- These smell like the ocean and are addictive!
  • Votivo Travel Candles (love Deep Clover)
  • a bouquet of fresh flowers from a local market- My favorite flower shop in Houston is AJ’s Urban Petals

For taste…

  • Toffee to Go from the St. Petersburg, Fl Farmer’s Market
  • Homemade Sea Salt Caramels from above; email donbarnordstrom@gmail.com
  • homemade bread from a local bakery or farmer’s market

For touch…

  • Crocheted hats from fiber artist, Nancy Bossert
  • Crabtree & Evelyn Citron Honey and Coriander Skin-Quenching Body Lotion
  • soap from Black Kettle Soap Company in Houston. My favorite is Charcoal Soap with Clay. Their Etsy shop can be found here.

For sight…

  • lovely calendars for the new year
  • time spent outdoors hiking a new trail or driving to an interesting new place- do a search for “day trips”
  • tickets to a museum

For sound…

  • a fountain, a walk to a waterfall, or a stroll on the beach- can’t beat the sound of water for soothing!
  • a new CD or an iTunes gift card
  • tickets to a concert

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Being the mom of two grown children, many of my favorite children’s books come from long ago. One of the best times of day was when we’d cuddle together at night and read books together. Here are some I loved and shared with Jon and Jessica:


I collect poetry books. Here a few of my new favorites:

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Poetry Friday: December 26

Here is a great children’s poem by Kenn Nesbitt — so simple and funny. Enjoy reading this as you get into the holiday spirit!


December 26

By Kenn Nesbitt

A BB gun.
A model plane.
A basketball.
A ’lectric train.
A bicycle.
A cowboy hat.
A comic book.
A baseball bat.
A deck of cards.
A science kit.
A racing car.
A catcher’s mitt.
So that’s my list
of everything
that Santa Claus
forgot to bring.

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I had a blast shooting my new math work stations DVD at Askew Elementary School in Houston recently. The students, teachers, and crew were amazing and I think you will all love the end product — due out in mid-2012. Here are some snapshots of what went on behind the scenes. Also check out this cute little story on the Stenhouse Blog about the shoot.

Mimi the makeup artists is working on my hair on the first morning of shooting

It's a bit scary to have that boom hang over my head!

The lead camera guy, Gregg, with producer Mike in the background

Shooting a scene with one of the teachers, Asma, talking about work station organization

Talking to Stenhouse editors Philippa Stratton (right) and Toby Gordon (center)

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My favorite things: movies

Watching movies is something I enjoy doing to relax! Recently, I set up a special room in my home where I can watch movies using my laptop and an LCD projector. I don’t own a TV, so I just show the movies on a blank wall. Such fun!

Here are some of my favorites:

  • Something’s Gotta Give with Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton is my number one favorite movie of all time and is one of the few movies I own! The house in this movie is the star in my book!
  • Julie & Julia with Meryl Streep is another favorite. (I liked it much better than the book.) Since I love to cook, I especially enjoyed this movie. I own a red Le Creuset Dutch oven just like in the movie and its my favorite thing to cook in.
  • It’s Complicated with Meryl Streep, Steve Martin, and Alec Baldwin cracks me up. Again, the house is pretty incredible. You’re probably sensing some patterns by now.
  • Letters to Juliet with Amanda Seyfried and Vanessa Redgrave is a new favorite movie. Such a sweet love story!
  • Annie Hall with Diane Keaton. I do enjoy Woody Allen movies.
  • Recently I borrowed Bridesmaids from my neighbor. What a hoot!
  • It’s a Wonderful Life with Jimmy Stewart is a movie I’ll be watching in the next few weeks. Love it even when it’s not the Christmas season!
  • The Bishop’s Wife with Cary Grant (1947) is another wonderful old flick.
  • Casablanca with Humphrey Bogart… doesn’t get much better than this!

What are some of your favorite movies? Always looking for good ones to rent!

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Poetry Friday: Altruism

If you receive my Peace Partners messages you know that I call December a Month of Giving. I selected this poem in the same spirit for Poetry Friday. I hope you take the time to give of yourself during this month. If you would like to receive Peace Partners messages, send your e-mail address to d.diller@live.com



By Molly Peacock

What if we got outside ourselves and there
really was an outside out there, not just
our insides turned inside out? What if there
really were a you beyond me, not just
the waves off my own fire, like those waves off
the backyard grill you can see the next yard through,
though not well — just enough to know that off
to the right belongs to someone else, not you.
What if, when we said I love you, there were
a you to love as there is a yard beyond
to walk past the grill and get to? To endure
the endless walk through the self, knowing through a bond
that has no basis (for ourselves are all we know)
is altruism: not giving, but coming to know
someone is there through the wavy vision
of the self’s heat, love become a decision.

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Behind the scenes

I am so excited to share this photo with you! I am shooting a new math work stations video this week for Stenhouse Publishers. It’s a lot of work, but we are having so much fun during the shoot! More details coming soon!

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What I am reading now

Being a teacher of reading, I love books… all kinds of books. Lately, I’ve been reading ebooks on my iPad, “real book” paperbacks, and even a large hardback atlas! Here are some of the books I’m currently reading:


  • Seven Year Switch by Claire Cook is the paperback I’m toting on planes right now. I loved her book, Must Love Dogs, and so far I’m enjoying this new one. It’s a light, fun read but is well written. Just the thing for the holiday season!
  • Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. I’ve been reading this devotional book every morning for several years. I downloaded this one on my Kindle app, so I don’t have to carry the book with me when traveling.
  • Likewise, Streams in the Desert by Mrs. Charles B. Cowman, is also on my iPad for daily devotional reading. I’ve been reading this favorite for about 20 years and have given it to many people for a gift.
  • Five Smooth Stones by Ann Fairbairn is a book I read in high school (by choice) that I’m now rereading on my iPad. It’s set in New Orleans in 1933. As I read it, I remember bits from 1972 when I last visited this book!
  • Max Lucado has been a favorite author for years. I just discovered his Facing Your Giants: A David and Goliath Story for Everyday People. I read this in connection with Five Smooth Stones. It’s a paired text!
  • I just finished reading The Joy of Less: A Minimalist Living Guide. Nice connections to my Spaces and Places book and workshops! Picked up some new thoughts and tips.

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If you received my weekly Peace Partner messages, you already know that I seek peace every day in my life. I came across this poem and just loved its simplicity. Enjoy! Send your e-mail address to d.diller@live.com if you would like to receive Peace Partner messages.

The Peace of Wild Things

By Wendell Berry

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

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