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Celebrate Life.

On Friday I became one of 169,000 special people.

The morning was routine. I
checked out of the Radisson,
caught the shuttle to ELP International Airport,
checked two bags at the ticket counter,
completed the TSA ritual, and
walked to the end of Concourse A
with time to spare.

I wandered past the book and magazine section at El Paso Marketplace, an airport store located by Gate A1–my departure gate. I had no intention of purchasing a single thing. I was strictly killing time. I had had a very rough night, wrestling with some unnamed bug that had caused havoc in my body. I planned to eat nothing, drink nothing, and sleep as much as I could during the next seven hours. I had one goal: to get home.

It was at El Paso Marketplace
that I first saw it,
prominently displayed
on top of a stack —
so pristine,
so elegant.
I reached for it.
The simplicity of its white cover and black spine caught my eye. I love black and white. Its title — Magnolia Table — appealed to me. I’ve always loved magnolia trees. {When we bought our home in Portland, one was in our yard but it was so damaged from an ice storm and had so overgrown its place beside our house that we had to remove it. I shed a few tears when we did.}  I did not notice the author, even with her photo on the cover. I picked up the book influenced solely by its cover and title.

I opened Magnolia Table
without any intention of buying.
I certainly don’t need another cookbook,
and it’s a hardback,
thick and heavy as books go,
and I didn’t have room in my luggage. But I had 80 minutes to kill, so I opened it. For the next five minutes or so, I stood there, just inside the El Paso Marketplace, resting Magnolia Table on the pulled out handle of my roll-on-board bag, reading randomly selected pages, looking at gorgeous photos so artistically presented that I could smell the aromas of wonderful food. Then I read JoJo’s biscuit recipeWe are a biscuit loving family.

I closed Magnolia Table,
and walked over to the cashier,
who took it from me with
a wistful sigh and said,
“I want this book.”  With a bit of encouragement from me, she shared how she loved the author {that was when I noticed the author*} and how she so wanted to get a copy but couldn’t just yet. I suggested one had to plan a $30-book-purchase into their personal budget. She agreed and said with Mother’s Day this month and a family birthday and then Father’s Day in June, she would have to wait a bit. She handed me my receipt and asked if I’d like a bag. I said yes and as she slipped Magnolia Table lovingly into a bag, my doubts about purchasing the book were totally dispelled.

Waiting to board my flight, I read:
Bobo’s Classic Gravy
Baked Egg Bread Pudding with Spinach, Boursin & Bacon
Syrian Donuts . . .

From El Paso to Phoenix, I read:
Sausage & Kale Soup
Autumn Butternut Squash Soup
Roasted Elephant Garlic Bread . . .

From Phoenix to Portland, I read:
Dutch Oven Cabbage & Bacon
Creamy Squash Casserole with Green Chiles
Dedication Casserole . . .

Page after page, I read. I was so engrossed — as if I were reading a suspenseful mystery. {You should know that I read cookbooks for pleasure.} The flight attendant noticed my book. She paused beside my seat and said, “I went to Baylor.” I smiled at the connections her statement assumed I knew. {Baylor University is in Waco, Texas, and Waco is “Gaines country.”}  I replied, “Ah, Waco.” We chatted — long enough that she bent down on her knee beside my aisle seat. She shared that she is friends with Joanna Gaines. I offered her a look at the book. She held it and turned some pages and we talked about food. We talked about other things. We talked until we both felt guilty that she might be perceived as neglecting her duties.

By the time our wheels touched down at PDX, I was reading through the desserts.
Dulce de Leche Apple Pie
Strawberry Shortcake
Aunt Opal’s Banana Pudding

In a week, my son and his family who live in Ecuador will be here for a three-week-visit. I’m making a list of Magnolia Table recipes to try while they are here.


… family time over a meal in our backyard …


Oh! You want to know what I meant by my opening statement — one of 169,000 special people?  Well, you will need to follow this link to the Dallas Morning News to find that answer.



*Just for the record, I know of Chris and Joanna Gaines, have watched a couple of their shows, have read a few articles about them, appreciate their story, but I don’t follow them. So I was totally unaware of the release of Magnolia Table.


Celebrate this Week with Ruth Ayres, Thank you, Ruth! #Celebratelu.

Be sure to visit Ruth’s post and read about
Clare and Tammy’s brand new, must-read
It’s All About the BOOKS!