my latest Toastmasters achievement

There are two tracks in Toastmasters. There is the communication track which almost everyone pursues. But there is also the leadership track which is less actively pursued, at least in our club. I had help from our current president and former VP of Education in doing some backfilling, which allowed me to recently receive my Competent Leader award.

This means I filled a variety of leadership roles, including evaluating, being Toastmaster, running a speech contest, and being a mentor. With my Advanced Communicator Bronze award, in the Toastmaster world I am now Mike Christie, ACB, CL.

There is more to do, however. The process continues.

Competent Leader Award certificate


Steak Diane

I made this version of Steak Diane in the winter, and made it again recently.

Steak DianeRather than cooking the steak in the pan, Terry cooked it on the NuWave. We used Ribeye rather than strip steak and in addition to the pepper Terry added Penzeys Old World Seasoning.

For the mushroom mixture I omitted the shallots. I used vegetable broth rather than beef broth and buttermilk rather than half-and-half as I had it on hand. I had a miniature bottle of brandy on hand, so I used the whole thing.

It made for a great Sunday dinner.


the prodigal?

I love that we can laugh at what once caused conflict.

My nephew Eric, son of my brother Brian and my sister-in-law Bobbie, has grown a beard. It has gotten a bit out of hand in the minds of many family members. That includes his daughter Teaghan and me. At a recent Saturday morning breakfast Eric was describing how he had gotten his beard trimmed and the reaction was, “You did? We can’t tell.”

Prodigal SonI told Eric that when I was in college before coming home for a break I would go to the barbershop in the Claremont village and get my hair trimmed. I would then head home and when my dad saw me he would say, “Why don’t you get a haircut?” Dad just grinned when I told the story. Eric replied, “We’re the black sheep.”

Black sheep? Me?

I was the one who managed my paper route on my own. Brian needed Dad’s help. I was responsible and went to college. I lived on my own and supported myself. Brian stayed at home for a long time, with different jobs and taking various community college courses. He was for the most part involved in public safety in various forms, but eventually ended up with a full-time career path job with what is now called CalFire.

But maybe I was the black sheep. Maybe I was the prodigal son.

I left for college in the fall after graduating high school. I never lived at home full-time after that. Two years after graduating from college I left the state and moved to South Texas, followed by Oklahoma City, and then the Bay Area and Silicon Valley. It would be forty-one years before I returned. Brian was the loyal son who stayed at home. He supported my mother through her long illness and was fully there for my dad after her death. I was engaged in riotous living (you might say) in the Bay Area. I never had a job feeding pigs. However, it was only after the company I had worked for sixteen plus years told me that they didn’t love me anymore (though they did make me a retiree) that I returned home.

Viewed that way, I was indeed the prodigal and Brian was the faithful son.


a philosophy of broth

vegetable broth packagesI have an essential staple in my pantry: vegetable broth.

Lots of recipes call for broth, as you well know. Usually they call for chicken broth or beef broth. But to me adding chicken broth to a chicken dish or beef broth to a beef dish is carrying coals to Newcastle. And why add chicken broth to an otherwise vegetarian recipe? Makes no sense.

Vegetable broth, however, is a nice, neutral broth that can be used in any dish without affecting the flavor. I only have to worry about having one kind of broth on hand and I can call on it whenever broth is needed.

It works well for me.


Sacred Music Friday: Kyrie

Performed by the combined Abendmusik and Concordia University Choruses under the direction of Tom Trenney at the First Plymouth Church, Lincoln Nebraska, April 30, 2017


Caribbean Fish Packets

Caribbean Fish PacketsThis recipe is incredibly simple to make, which is what I was looking for on this particular day. It comes from Coastal Living. I used cod, because I had it in the freezer. Oddly, the recipe does not specify what jerk seasoning to use, so I tracked down this Jamaican Jerk Seasoning Blend, coincidentally also from Coastal Living. It was really, really good.

An easy delicious dinner from the grill.


doing something old-fashioned

I did something old-fashioned a couple of weeks ago. I responded to a postal mail solicitation to subscribe to a physical, paper magazine. It was from The Christian Century to which I was a long-time The Christian Centurysubscriber. I let the subscription lapse, along with many other print magazines, when I was laid off in 2014. But I always enjoyed the publication, and the price was really good. In fact I looked for an equivalent price online so I wouldn’t have to wait so long for my subscription to start. I couldn’t find one.

So I wrote a check, put it in the return envelope, and mailed it off. Now I still have probably another four weeks or so before my first issue shows up. But it will be good to be seeing the magazine again.