I have photographic proof! Well, some anyway.

Writing and publishing a book has been quite an adventure, not to mention quite the learning experience. But, I did it. I plan to share details of that journey in my book’s sequel (title pending) which I am in the process of writing (roughly 50K words pounded out on my keyboard, thus far). Throughout this process, I have had this underlying fear that my stories wouldn’t be believed. I don’t know why, but I worried that readers would think I’d made it all up, that there’s no way such things really happened, in one person’s life. Probably just my inner mean girl talking again. That b—h needs to shut up! I promise you, my book is 100% nonfiction.

My niece, Brandy, recently finished reading my book Itchy Nipples and Anxiety: My Life is a Comedy of Perils and posted a lovely review of it on Goodreads! During an online chat, Brandy said the only thing she would change about the book would be to add pictures of my adventures. I had actually considered doing that as I was writing my book, but the daunting task of sorting through my 1,000’s (nay 100’s of 1,000’s) of pictures overwhelmed me so much I let go of the idea.

It got me thinking, though — visual proof would be fun to share. I mean, I have been quite the shutter-bug since I was a little girl, when Dad handed me his old Brownie camera.

So, I decided I’d share photos via this blog! I’ll be going through my book, marking pages where a photo would be appropriate or meaningful, and I’ll hunt for said photos and post them here, on this blog post.

If you’ve read, or are in the process of reading my book, I hope these photos will enhance your experience. Thank you for reading!

Keep checking back for newly added photographs, listed by chapter (this may take a while).

Here goes…!

CHAPTER 1

Newlywed parents and their Superior Coach trailer in 1949
This was taken at an Avon awards banquet in the 1960s. See the pretty woman in the flowered dress? She’s my mother.
Mom’s painting
See that space between the row of bushes and the sidewalk? There used to be another bush there. Yep, we did that.
Me at my first full-time job: Second National Bank’s proof department.
My 18th birthday.
Basic training at Fort Jackson, SC
Me and my 22-month old first-born daughter when I was in AIT (job training).
Me and my youngest while stationed at Ft Sill, OK
Dad and Apple Joe
Dad was so happy to get his little brother in the boat! My girls are swimming in the background.
Mom and Apple Joe, so very cute!
At the ole hitchin’ post with our parents
My niece, Rachael’s perfect illustration of Donuts in a Blizzard!
Communing with Ducks
What the cluck was her problem?!
Parents’ 1949 cape cod
Tilly’s born-during-our-camping-trip kittens
Me and Mom at the Grand Canyon
Grandma, just as I remember her
Grandma in the chair she spun around in and beside the hutch where she kept Tootsie Pops.
I have both pieces in my home now.

CHAPTER 5

Dad’s “banana” cake
Dad resting on Mom’s granite bench after visiting her grave
After my first Arthur Murray dance lesson with the awesomely fabulous Duncan!
Mom’s collection of “horns” for us to find and find again

CHAPTER 6 (No photos)

CHAPTER 7 (No photos)

CHAPTER 8

Self-portrait
My rendition of our high school
The painting that the art teacher had me tweak
This piece was my mother’s favorite of all my drawings

CHAPTER 9 (No photos)

CHAPTER 10

First trip to NYC 2012

We made headlines!
Well, I had to…

Second trip to NYC 2018

The stuck bus (New Jersey)
When you get on the wrong subway train and can no longer see NYC!

Europe Trip 2019

Delta’s tasty dinner
The patchwork fields as we’re landing in Munich
Washcloth!
“Nick” the cab driver who insisted he buy us “a cream.”
The hair-flipping French man
“HELLLLP ME!”
Photo-bombed in a Munich cuckoo clock/gift shop! LOL!
Aldi store (Austria)
Across from Aldi
Purchasing my “TC” relief at the Green Cross (my souvenir from Innsbruck Austria)
The fancy bathroom in Jeselo Italy with the “bah day.”
Our ever-elusive freedom as seen through the tiny palace window (Venice)
The crowded footbridge, Venice
The handsome one man show in Switzerland who gave Amber his “favorite” corkscrew
The 5-story house near our hotel
Aren’t these the guys from the Titanic movie?!
I real live mountain goat (taken during the tram ride up the Alps)
Our fabulous view of the Swiss Alps–complete whiteout! It was still amazing to be there.
The tram ride back down. The rain had finally stopped.
Heidelberg Germany with my first ever warm beer
Twinkle lights!
Our “Kosher French meal” wherein the meat was tuna
Well, at least it’s closer than “Barbara Newkle” (somewhere in Europe)
Our bus driver throughout Europe, “Mountain Bob”
Our speed-walking tour guide “Sven” (my Austrian son). His real name is Andy and he is the best!

…to be continued as I find more!

“The starry sky is the truest friend in life, when you first become acquainted; it is ever there, it gives ever peace, ever reminds you that your restlessness, your doubt, your pains are passing trivialities. The universe is and will remain unshaken. Our opinions, our struggles, or sufferings are not so important and unique, when all is said and done.” 
― Fridtjof Nansen

Being Me

People meet me

Each day I show them

This is who I am

The same as yesterday

I’m nice

I’m funny

I’m peaceful

That doesn’t mean I am weak

It doesn’t mean I am a pushover

I’m merely watching you show me who you are

You bully or try to control

It won’t work

You will incite a fight

I can take care of myself

You won’t be welcome in my life

Afterward I’ll still be me

Just the same as I was when we met

I’m nice

I’m funny

I’m peaceful

I’m still being me

Written by Vonda Newsome 7-7-2021

Do you have a coat hanger?

I left the house at 10:30 a.m. today, an extra hour early, for an appointment in Lexington. I wanted to have time to meet my friend first to pick up some makeup I’d ordered. I arrived at the Shell gas station a bit before she did and figured I may as well fill my car up while I awaited her arrival. I pulled up to the pump, locked my doors, leaving the driver side door open, as I do when I get gas. While the gas was pumping, I thought I may as well throw away the trash that had accumulated in my car. I gathered all the trash from the cubby inside the car door into my hands, walked to the trash receptacle, and dumped it. The gas had finished pumping so I removed the pump and hung it back up. I turned to get back inside my car, but the door was shut. What? Evidently, I had accidentally and unknowingly bumped my car door with my butt when I was throwing garbage in the trash bin. Not enough to close it all the way, but enough that I could not open the door. I wondered if I closed the door completely if the key fob in my purse (on the floorboard of my car) would work to unlock it. I didn’t try it, and I’m glad.

There I stood — locked out of my car. It was at that moment that my friend, Whitney, pulled up next to me. We exchanged greetings, then I told her I was locked out of my car.  She asked me where my phone was, and I said, “It’s in my car.”  “So you need to call someone,” she responded.  “Yup”.  I had no idea who I’d call though. Probably a locksmith.

Luckily, Whitney’s aunt, who just happens to be a mechanic, emerged from Whitney’s car. She asked if I had a coat hanger which I did not. Even if I did, if it was in my car I couldn’t have gotten to it. I offered to go inside the gas station and ask for a coat hanger and said, “I ain’t skeerd.” But the clerks didn’t have one. So I proceeded to ask every customer coming into and leaving the store, which was about seven of them. No luck.

In despair, I returned to my car and told Whitney I had no coat hanger. Whitney’s aunt was rummaging around the building to see if there was anything she could find to help this damsel in distress. She found a long stick and tried it, but it didn’t work. She needed something she could bend in order to hit the unlock button inside my car. I noticed a hotel across the road and said, “I’ll go to that hotel and ask them for a coat hanger.” I ain’t skeerd. I mean if anyone would have a coat hanger, it would be a hotel, right?

There was a construction worker in the parking lot near the hotel entrance and I asked him, “You wouldn’t have a coat hanger, would you?” Of course, he did not. However, he said, “The manager is inside and might have one.” He offered to go inside and ask for me as he unlocked the entrance door. He kindly allowed me to step inside the vestibule to get out of the brisk, chilly breeze, since my coat was where? You guessed it — in my locked car. As I stood there waiting for the nice construction worker to return, I watched the action taking place beside my locked car at the Shell station across the street, hoping they’d had some success getting into it.

After a brief time, the construction worker returned and said that someone would be bringing down a coat hanger shortly. We had a nice chat while we waited. He told me that while they had been working on the air-conditioning at the hotel, one of his coworkers knelt down on the ground and a dirty hypodermic needle went into his knee. I asked when that happened and he told me it was today. At the time of our conversation, his co-worker was on his way to the ER to get checked out. Good grief! Now, I’m skeerd!

A few minutes later, another gentleman came through the vestibule carrying a very long metal rod in his hands. It was at least 8 feet long. “That ought to work,” I exclaimed, elated that we may be able to make some progress!  I thanked them profusely and started my journey back to the Shell station. 

As I approached, I could see Whitney‘s aunt still trying to unlock my car and two other gentlemen were searching for objects that they could poke down the door crack and hit my unlock button. No luck. I carried that long metal rod over my head like a trophy as I ran across the street towards them. Whitney was in full laughter. Her aunt took the metal rod, and wiggled it down into the crack of the driver’s door — the unlock button her target. She was unsuccessful. Another gentleman who was nearby said, “Here, let me have that a minute.” He soon discovered that the rod was way too long to maneuver with any precision, so he bent it until it broke in half. Having a shorter stick to work with, he was able to get it down into the car and hit that unlock button. I immediately opened up my car door, grabbed my keys, and put them in the waistband of my pants.

Whitney asked that I “please get a picture with that rod sometime today,” so I got out my phone right then and let her take one.

This is just an average day in my life.

Vondonkey’s Keto Breakfast Casserole (6.4 carbs per slice)

Ingredients:

4 slices Lewis keto bread (Walmart), cut into crouton-sized cubes (I sprayed the cubes with olive oil and lightly sprinkled with garlic herb seasoning)

1 pound bacon, fried, drained, crumbled

1 pound breakfast sausage, fried, drained, crumbled

1 small sweet onion, sautéed in bacon grease (if desired)

2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

8 eggs

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1 cup whole milk (or coconut milk, etc., or omit milk and use 2 cups of heavy whipping cream for fewer carbs)

1 teaspoon ground mustard

1/2 teaspoon creole seasoning (I used Johnny Chachere’s)

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Instructions:

Place the cubed bread in the bottom of a greased 9×13-inch baking dish.

Sprinkle evenly over bread: sausage and bacon, then onion, and top with cheese

Thoroughly mix eggs, whipping cream, milk and spices, then pour over other ingredients

Bake at 325 degrees for 30-40 minutes

Carbs:

Eggs 4, Onion 24, Milk 11, Cheese 12, Heavy cream 0, Bacon 0, Sausage 0 = 51 for entire casserole (6.4 carbs per serving if cut into 8 pieces)

NOTES:

Of course, for stricter keto eating, you can omit the milk and onions, and use 2 full cups of whipping cream to reduce the carbs to 16 for the entire recipe (2 net carbs per 1/8 slice). You could also add spinach, or use 2 lbs of bacon or 2 lbs of sausage. There are LOTS of options for this recipe!

This casserole can be prepared ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator over night. If it is chilled, you may need to increase the baking time.

ENJOY! It’s very yummmmmmy!

A Long and Happy Marriage

Once upon a time, I had a patient who was a very charming elderly man. We chatted a bit while I performed my assessment and he mentioned that he’d been married for more than 50 years. Intrigued, I asked him what the secret was to having such a long and happy marriage.

This is what he said:

Every morning, I go up to my wife and hold her beautiful face in my hands. Then, I look deeply into her eyes and say, “I’m sorry.” And, that covers me for the rest of the day.

Vondonkey’s Sugar-free/Keto-friendly Peanut Butter Cookies

February 11, 2021 will mark three years since my husband I started keto. I’m pretty sure anyone who has ever tried this lifestyle/way of eating will tell you the foods you will miss most, and right away, are bread, pasta, and sweets.

Through the trial and error of the many keto recipes I found online, along with the creation of Aldi’s Zero Net Carb bread, we’ve been able to take care of those cravings, mostly, and still enjoy eating all the foods we’ve always loved. They’re simply prepared differently. Well, other than the pasta. Still working on that one. There’s one funky, keto-friendly pasta that comes in a pouch, submersed in water. Uh, no. Gross! I’ll stick with zucchini noodles, thank you.

Anyway, that brings us to sweets! Back when I ate real sugar, one of my favorite treats was peanut butter cookies. Now, I did not set out to find the perfect sugar-free/keto-friendly peanut butter cookie recipe (in my opinion), but it eventually became my goal and I found it. Well, I created it!! Several months ago, I took a keto Danish butter cookie recipe and have since altered it, added, changed it, and added more, again and again, about 30 times, until this week when I discovered what I feel is the perfect peanut butter cookie for us sugar-free/keto folks. By the way, my cookies no longer share any resemblance with that Danish butter cookie.

If you are thinking about “going keto,” if you are a diabetic, or simply want to decrease your intake of carbohydrates while still enjoying a sweet treat, give these cookies a try!

Vondonkey’s Sugar-free/Keto-friendly Peanut Butter Cookies

Dry Ingredients:

1 cup coconut flour (32g net carbs)

2 cups almond flour (24g net carbs)

1/2 cup (heaping) Swerve brown sugar (zero carbs)

2 teaspoons baking powder (zero carbs)

3/4 teaspoon pink Himalayan salt (zero carbs)

Place in food processor and run on high until well-mixed and powdery.

Wet Ingredients:

2 sticks cold butter, sliced (zero carbs)

1 jar Aldi’s Simply Nature creamy peanut butter (56g net carbs)

1 teaspoon vanilla (zero carbs)

Add to dry ingredients in food processor and mix thoroughly.

Use a one-tablespoon cookie scooper, scraping excess cookie dough across the top, and drop dough on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350 degrees for 9-10 minutes, until the edges are only beginning to brown. I take them out of the oven and immediately place the entire sheet in the freezer or refrigerator to cool before storing them in the freezer. These cookies, at room temperature, will crumble easily. In my many attempts to cure that, and finding that the alterations diminished the yummy peanut butter flavor of the cookie, we just keep ours frozen, and eat them that way. It gives them a nice firm texture. We both love them! This recipe will make 5 dozen cookies.

NOTE: Keep in mind, the products that you use may have different carb counts. Based on what I use, it works out to be 2g net carbs per cookie!! That’s pretty darn good for keto people. A tablespoon-sized cookie may sound very small, but when that cookie packs a rich, very satisfying peanut buttery flavor, you may not be inclined to eat more than a few. I can only eat two myself.

Now…what about pasta?! Hmm.

Is your loved one telling you goodbye?

When a loved one starts saying things like, “I don’t think I’m going to be around much longer,” listen. Especially the elderly, for they tend to know when their hourglass is close to empty.  My mother said that 88 was her “last birthday.”  It was her last birthday.  My father said he had “no aspirations to see ninety.”  He died at 89. Even though the world was in the turmoil of a pandemic, my mother-in-law insisted on cooking Thanksgiving dinner for her family because she “might not be here next Thanksgiving.” She won’t be. She contracted COVID-19, and her little body simply couldn’t stop it from destroying what was left of her kidney function. Although losing her was, and is, devastating for her family, many friends and her church community, I am grateful that my mother-in-law had the gumption and tenacity to cook that Thanksgiving dinner for us, her last one.

While it is human nature to think there is more time, or “always tomorrow,” please do not dismiss the cues from the people you love!!  Their words are not trivial statements in search of attention, or sympathy. And, even if they are, the time you give to them is never wasted. You must do what you can live with for the rest of your life, regardless of your fatigue from a grueling work week, or the favoite TV show that you might miss. That’s what a DVR is for, use it!

I cannot stress this enough: LISTEN, when loved ones are telling you that they are running out of time, precious time!! Don’t say, “I’ll go over and see them this weekend, I’m just too tired.” Go. Now! There isn’t always tomorrow, or later, and that’s the biggest regret of those surviving the loss of a loved one — the I should’ves that will consume your conscience when they’ve died and you realize all the time you could have/should have spent with them, but didn’t.

You’ll never regret spending that precious time with your loved one, even if it’s only 30 minutes, for it will serve as a warm, comforting hug to your broken heart when they leave you with only your memories.

LISTEN!!