Category Archives: Family, Faith and Inspiration

Shared stories of family, my faith and inspirations that get me through a day.

Fall is upon us!



The old earth is changing;

The seasons turn round.

The Autumn leaves flutter

Their way to the ground.

My own world is changing;

The seasons conspire

To grant me the peace

Of a rest by the fire

~Melissa Pinol~

I have been busy decorating and baking and loving life as the cooler temperatures are finally finally arriving!  This is by far my most favorite time of the year!  I love color and the fall colors are the most beautiful in my eyes.  One of my favorite things to do is to sit outside as the sun begins to set and watch the golden colors of the Oaks come alive.  It’s so beautiful!

Below is my Orange~Carrot Cake with Chocolate Ganache

Sinfully delicious!

See recipe below

This is my little Scarecrow that is supposed to scare the bunnies and the deer away from my lime tree…..  as you can see, half the tree has been eaten!  Maybe I should make her a little scarier looking??  lol  She is a little worn and needs some touch up, but she is a fun addition to my front porch!

This is my entry way.  I love decorating for the seasons with floral and lights.  I have my wax warmer there as well, greeting my guests with a lovely fall aroma of Pumpkin spice!  Love that smell!  That particular smell always makes me want to bake…. so that explains the photo above of the cake!  It’s my wax warmers fault!  🙂

I hope that this fall brings you as much joy as it brings to me and my family.  Fall to me is a closing of the year we have had.  It’s preparing us for new things to come.  Just as the leaves begin to change and then fall, making room for new growth, our lives are doing the same thing.  To me, it’s a spiritual time of letting go of the past and preparing for the new.  Opening my heart to new adventures and new beginnings.   Fall has always been such a healing time for me.

So enjoy the change around you, find quiet time to really watch the seasons change.  It’s good for the soul!

Fall Blessings from my family, to your family!

Orange ~ Carrot Cake with Chocolate Ganache Recipe


  • 4 eggs
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp finely shredded orange peel
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups finely shredded carrots
  • 1 cup flaked coconut
  • 1 11 ounce can mandarin orange sections, drained and coarsely chopped
  • 1 recipe orange cream cheese filling
  • 1 recipe chocolate ganache


  • Allow eggs to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.  Meanwhile, grease three 8×1 1/2 inch or 9 x 1 1/2 inch round cake pans.   Line bottoms of the pans with waxed paper; grease the paper.  Set pans aside.  In a medium bowl stir together the flour, orange peel, baking powder, salt, and baking soda;  set aside.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large mixing bowl combine the eggs, sugar, vegetable oil, and vanilla.  Beat with an electric mixer on low speed until combined.  Beat on medium speed for two minutes more.  Add flour mixture to egg mixture.  beat on low speed just until combined.  Using a wooden spoon, stir in carrots and coconut.  Gently fold in chopped orange sections.  Pour batter evenly into the prepared pans, spreading evenly.
  • Bake for 35 to 40 minutes (until toothpick comes out clean).  Cool layers in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes.  Remove layers from pans, peel off waxed paper.  Cool thoroughly on wire racks.
  • To assemble, place one cake layer on a serving plate.  Tope with half o f the Orange Cream Cheese Filling, spreading evenly.  Repeat layers.  Add op cake layer.  Spoon Chocolate Ganache over cake and let it drip down the sides.

Chocolate Ganache

  • 2/3 cup whipping cream
  • 8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate


  • In a small saucepan bring whipping ream just to boiling over medium high heat.  Remove from heat.  Add chocolate (do not stir) let stand for 5 minutes.  Stir until smooth.  Let stand at room temperature until slightly thickened.

Orange ~ Cream Cheese Filling


  • 2  3 ounce packages cream cheese, softened.
  • 1/2 cup orange marmalade
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar


  • In a medium mixing bowl beat cream cheese until fluffy.  Gradually beat in orange marmalade and powdered sugar.


Go ahead… treat yourself from time to time.  Enjoy the life that you are gifted and just indulge once in a while!


Through the years…


A smile is worth a thousand words…

Sending you off to Kindergarten…

You smile has never fallen short of a billion dollar smile.  When you smile, people around you smile!  It’s one of my most precious treasures about you Nicole!  I’ll never forget your fist smile… everyone said, “Oh, she is too new to be smiling, it’s just gas.”  But I knew better baby girl… I knew that when your dad, brother and I spoke to you and told you how precious you were to our hearts… you smiled, and it came from you enormous loving heart!

Through the years, no matter what you continued to smile and teach us how important, how truly important each day is.  That it is a gift from God.   You taught us that God was an important part of our lives when you were four years old.  You lead us to church, you gave us courage when we were worried about you and your health… you gave us the strength we did not know we had Nicole.  All along when we thought we were teaching you… it was you teaching us.  God shines through you to others… cherish that always.

Watching you grow up through the years has been an absolute treasure to us.  If I could do it all over again, I would and I would not change a thing.  God has done a wonderful job writing your life story…  He wrote your story even before you were born and he knows it from start to finish.  There are so many more chapters of your life to enjoy Nicole.  Take each day, one day at a time and enjoy the wonderful moments and gain strength from the tough moments.  No one said life will be easy… but with God in your heart and family by your side, you can do anything!   It’s your senior year in High School… enjoy, have fun, work hard, stand tall and most of all, be the person that God so lovingly created.

“Faith never knows where it is being led, but it loves and knows the One Who is leading”

USMC – My Hero, My Dad


Richard J. Mannini – USMC 1951 – 1954

I wanted to do a tribute to my father Richard J. Mannini on this Memorial Day.  I have tried to get his USMC picture into my blog and for some reason I just can not get it in here.  While this saddens me, I still would like to share my father with my readers.

I am a proud daughter of a USMC member.  My dad served right out of high school.    When he was twelve, World War II had ended, so the war was very present in his generations minds.   He knew at age 16 that he would be selected in the draft.  The draft had been reinstated because North Korea had invaded South Korea and President Truman had declared a State of Emergency and many young people were being called up by the draft or activation of their reserve units.  My dad knew that if he had to fight, he had to fight with the Marines.  His very best friend was drafted in 1950 and that had a big influence of my father.  While dissapointing his father, Joseph Mannini, who had been a Veteran of the Italian Navy and hoped that my father would join the Navy to avoid the draft.  But rather than being drafted into the Army, he decided to join up with the Marines.  And that is where it all began.

My dad was 17 when he enlisted into the Marines, just a few months shy of his 18th birthday.  He knew going in that he would be going to War.

He went through only 8 weeks of boot camp, as  boot camp was accelerated by two weeks because the heavy casualties in Korea.  They needed replacements, hence the accelerated Boot Camp.  He was trained in Door to Door fighting and in Mountain Warfare.  They were trained to fight at night, how to scout in small patrols and how to fight in assault situations and defensive warfare, and much much more.

His first assignment was to join the 1st Marine Division in Korea.  After arrivng in Korea, he was assigned to the 7th Marine regiment of the 1st Division .  The 7th Marines were one of the most heavily decorated units of World War II, so he was going to a unit that was very prideful of what they had and could accomplish.

Dad served with “C” (Charlie) Company of the 1st Battalion, 7th Regiment, 1st Marine Division.   It was a very tough fighting unit.  Need I say more.

My father still thinks of the men he served with and still cries for those who did not come home.  “You were never alone, even at the darkest moments, your firends, your family of Marines was right there with you. You did your duty.” say my Father in an interview he did with my son for an 8th grade project on the Korean War.

Dads tour of duty was thirteen months.  He spent the winter of 1951-52, the summer of 1952 and  the winter of 1952-53 in Korea.  He came home in late February of 1953.

I am proud of my father and all that he stands for.  He is such a proud member of the USMC and to this day says that if he could do it again today, he would.  He stands up for what he believes in.  Once a Marine, always a Marine.

Decorations and Campaign Medals earned by my father:

Purple Heart Medal, Navy Commendation with Combat “V” Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, Navy Presidential Unit Citation Ribbon, Navy Unit Commendation Ribbon, Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Medal, Korean Service Medal with three campaign stars, Marine Overseas Service Ribbon, Korean Presidential Unit Citation, United Nations Service Medal, U.S. Marine Corps Service Commerative Medal, Korean War Commerative Medal.

Thank you Dad, for all you have done, for all you do and everything that you stand for.  The Korean War is called the Forgotten War, but it will never be forgotten dad… we will share your story with our grandchildren and their grandchildren and so on.

Life’s simple pleasures


Family… A Journey to Forever

There is nothing like watching your children grow up into beautiful, individuals.  They are so unique and have such special qualities all of there own.  Raising my two kids has been the best and most exciting and rewarding adventure that I have ever had.  We have had our share of ups and downs medically, but I think it’s made us so much stronger and closer as a family.  We lean on each other and we carry each other through our difficult times.

My son Kyle is 23 years old today.  My daughter Nicole just turned 18.  I no longer have children.  I have been looking forward to the next stages of our relationship where we become friends.  I’ll of coarse always be a mom, but now, they are both adults, making their own decisions and their own mistakes and im watching them work through everything just as I have taught them too.   Together we have learned that family is just not “blood”, it’s about opening up your heart and home to those who find you, lean on you and depend on your for guidance… our family has grown in numbers and we are so grateful for the love and comfort that we all bring each other!

There is no greater joy then family.  There happiness fills me to the brim with happiness, there love for life, their passion to help people and there confidence to just be true to themselves and shine.  I find myself gaining strength from their strength, happiness from their joy and excitement for their future.  It’s the simple pleasures of life that bring our family the most joy.  Im so very blessed to have Kyle, Nicole and their dad.  So very blessed.

My family is my inspiration, my strength and the heart of who I am!

Making the best out of the worst!


I have an amazing son.  I really want to share this as he may not think he is amazing.  But his mom does!  My son Kyle has experienced health issues for a lot of years, it’s not been easy.  Lots of ups and downs and dead ends and feeling like he was just a lost cause as far as the medical world viewed him.  He struggled with his health all through high school.  He was on Home Hospital for part of his junior and his senior year and had a lymph node biopsy just before his graduation.

As I sit in his hospital room and watch him go through all that he is going through and I reflect on the past which involved visits to ER,  emergency calls to the high school that my son was laying on the gym floor and his lips are blue he can’t breathe,  rushing him to the hospital late at night and coming across somebody’s accident and Kyle ending up in the ambulance that was met for someone else because Kyle could not breathe, specialists, biopsy’s, tests that he’d prefer to never repeat… I think about how he has handled it all.  He has left a trail of memories to those who have taken care of him.  He has made people smile and laugh through all of his pain.  For example, yesterday I was sitting in this very chair and Kyle in his hospital bed, the young man that mops the floors and empties the trash came in with a huge smile and said, “How ya doin buddy?” they began to chat… and chat… and chat.  This morning the same young man came back and said “Good morning buddy, you are still here?”  They had small talk again and the young man left with a huge smile. His dad walked into the room last night and asked how Kyle was doing, Kyle had the lap top on his lap and said, “im doing alright, just reading face book and seeing how many people are praying for me”, with a huge smile and a surprised look on his face.  Another example of my sons strength is while laying here he was having pain.  Nurses all day would ask his pain level, and then asked if he would like pain meds.  Kyle would think for a moment and with a smile say, “nahhhh, not right now”.  lol  Later in the afternoon when she came back and asked the pain level, he said with a smile, “ya know, im about an 8, maybe I should have some pain meds now.”  he chuckled!!  The nurse told him that she has never had a patient with the pain that he has been having for three days that has not wanted pain management!  lol  But he continues to make every person that walks in and out of this room, smile.  Just tells me one thing…. God is all over my son.  I have never been more proud of him in my life.  His strength amazes me, his grace and compassion for others is beautiful and I am a proud proud mom.  He may not ever be President of a company or drive a fancy car, but he has so much more that makes him shine brighter they any one I have ever known.  He is rich with love, respect and compassion and God.  He is right where God wants him to be I suppose, spreading sunshine to others who have the pleasure of crossing paths with him.  Im really very proud of my son Kyle.  Kyle, keep smiling, keep making others smile, it’s the best trait that one can own, and boy do you own it!!  I love you with all my heart, to the heavens and back.

Prayerful, Sad and Thankful this blustery day…


As I sit by my fire feeling warm and cozy on this snowy April day, I can’t help but think of the people that are out and about putting their lives on the line to keep us safe,  so that we can enjoy these cozy blustery days by our fire.

Yesterday a Deputy Sheriff in a nearby town was killed while serving an Eviction Notice.  A Civilian was also killed while offering his assistance to the Deputy.  It saddens me that someone can take the life of another for just doing their jobs.  Our world has become so unpredictable, angry, sad and hopeless.  As I watched on TV the incident unfold all afternoon and into the evening, I could not help but think about the families of the officers, firemen, and military.  I watched them putting their lives in danger to keep ours safe.  Then I thought, wow, their wives, their husbands, parents and children are at home watching just what I am watching and my heart broke.  I am a wife of a Law Enforcement Officer, I have been that wife watching the tv to see if I can see my husband so I know is is safe.  I have consoled my children during the Rodney King Riots and the San Francisco Earthquake of October 1989 and other moments when his job took him away for days…. gone for days to keep people safe.  I had my very proud moments, my very scared moments and my very brave moments for my children.  I sit by this fire today and I find myself so heart broken for our service men and women.  I feel guilty for looking out my window today and enjoying the snowfall when I know others are mourning the loss of a loved one that did not come home from his job last night.  It could be me, it could be you…

I am a very proud “Wife behind the Badge” and I stand behind my husband in all he does, and all that he stands for.  I cherish the moments we share because I am so aware of the fact that it could be our last.

I ask that as you look out your window today and everyday that you give thanks to those that are putting their lives on the line for your peace and remember that they too have a family, someone who loves them and wants them to come home and share the life that they are to share together.

Our society has changed, this is not “Mayberry”.  These men and women never know what they are walking up to, or into.  Please pray for their safety before you close your eyes at night.  It’s because of them that you can rest peacefully.  We ask so much of them, and all they ask from us is a little respect and prayer.

Crock Pot Taco Soup


Happy Monday!!  It is truly a beautiful Spring day here in the Motherlode today!!  Today will truly be cherished as yet another round of storms is expected through the region this week dropping low snow once again!  So today, I vow to spend some time outdoors and enjoy the sunshine that God has gifted us with today!!

I wanted to share a Taco soup recipe that I had on Saturday night.  We loved it and it has a ingredient that just made this so unique I had to share with you!  Hope you enjoy!!  Once again… Southern Living has graced our taste buds!!  : )

1 1/2 pounds of Ground Beef

1 cup chopped red onion

1 (1.23 ounce) package taco seasoning mix

1 (1 ounce) package of Ranch style dressing mix

2 (15.25 ounce) cans of Whole kernel corn, undreained

1 (16 ounce) can pinto beans, undreained

1 (15 ounce) can black beans, undrained

2 (10 ounce) cans chili style diced tomatoes with green chilies, undrained

1 (12 ounce) can of beer  This is my favorite ingredient… just makes this recipe special!!

1 1/2 cups water

Toppings:  Cheese, sour cream, tortilla chips, cilantro


Cook Beef and onion in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Stir until meat crumbles and is no longer pink, drain.

Combine meat mixture, taco seasoning mix, and next 7 ingredients in a slow cooker.

Cover and cook on LOW for 5 to 6 hours.  Serve with desired toppings.  Makes 16 cups.


Easy, tasty, and an “I’ll make this again” dish!!!  The beer gives this a sweet and tangy taste.  We loved it!!  Let me know what you think!!


Wanted to take this moment as well to thank my Mom, Sandy for a wonderful Easter Brunch.  She went above and beyond to make it a special day as she always has in all the years we have been blessed with her in our lives!!  We spent the day eating, laughing, relaxing and playing some cards as well!!  Even had time for a nap before the card game!!  : )  Thank you mom, it was a perfect day.  I love you!!