Sugar Free Lemon Berry Pavlova

Posting a recipe when so many big and heavy things are going on in our world but one must eat despite big and heavy things happening. Maybe this meringue dessert can lighten things up a little. Pun intended. 🙂

I first had pavlova when one of my nieces made it. They “learned it” from their family in Australia. It is so yummy and light! I wanted to make pavlova for a church carry-in and decided to make a sugar free version for those who choose/need to eat that way. There are many different ways you can make pavlova but the base is always a meringue base. I’m not sure if pavlova is the complete dessert or the meringue base. Maybe someone can help me out. 🙂


You can also make little individual pavlovas. If space wasn’t a constraint, I would go that route because slicing this baby doesn’t leave it looking the prettiest.

Preheat the oven to 250°.


Choose whatever sugar alternative floats your boat. I had a store brand of sugar replacement baking blend. Beat with egg whites on high speed until it is stiff and shiny.

Add the lemon juice, vanilla and cornstarch. Mix just until blended.

Place parchment paper on a baking sheet. If you want, you can draw a circle with a pen on the parchment paper if you want to stay within a specific size. As you can tell, I didn’t! 🙂


I spread this one into approx. 10″ across. That made it about 2 inches deep in the center. Create a bit of a well in the center to hold the toppings better.


It doesn’t have to be spread all smooth. In fact, it is prettier if it is a little peaked.


Baking basically dries it out good and proper. I was shocked at how light it was. I don’t know why. I’ve had meringue on pies before. It just felt funny to pull it out of the oven when it was cooled and it weighed a couple of ounces.

Make sure to let it cool down in the oven before removing it to avoid cracks.


If you discover, like me, that your local grocery store doesn’t have much sugar-free pudding options, you can do like me and choose a SF cheesecake pudding and add lemon flavoring. Yum!


If you have access to real whipping cream, by all means go that route. I went for ease this round, I’ll admit. Real cream tastes better and I’m guessing is the better option.


The fruit is what makes it really pretty. Go bonkers with it!


Slice and serve immediately or shortly thereafter. 🙂



You can make six 3-inch round meringues if you’d rather. This serves up beautifully. Decrease baking time to 45 minutes.



Pavlova Recipe

Orchid Care for Dummies

I’m not calling you a dummy, unless you managed to kill an orchid in 2 weeks like I did. Then you can assume dummy status with me. I’m also not an orchid professional. I consider myself more on the novice rung of the orchid-raising ladder. I have managed to keep 2 orchids alive for 2.5 and 1.5 years, plus have them re-bloom! Yes, I consider it quite an feat considering my first experience.

First of all, my experience is only with the Phalaenopsis orchid and there are hundreds of orchids. Secondly, if you don’t have great patience with an occasional blooming flower, orchids may not be for you. My experience has been that the blooms last 3-4 months and then it’s another year before they bloom again.

When I bought my first plant, it was planted in a small pot and not in a plastic pot inside a ceramic pot like the last few I bought. The instructions said that when the surface feels dry, water it. Well for the first thing, the pot it was in didn’t drain like the plastic ones do. Secondly, I knew orchids thrive in humid climates so I didn’t even think of over-watering as being the cause. Bam! Turned yellow and died. Shortly thereafter I was at a festival on Jekyll Island where a vendor had beautiful orchids planted in antique clay pots. While I badly wanted another one, I was feeling rather gun-shy at owning one, much less plunking down $40+ for one in an antique pot. I mentioned to the vendor that I had one and had killed it within 2 weeks. He snorted in surprise? shock? and then asked how often I watered it. Wasn’t hard to figure out that is the problem.

So, I bravely bought another one and searched the www for some tips on keeping them alive. This is what I’ve learned.

  1. Keep your plant in a well lit place out of direct sunshine. Direct sunshine can cause “burn” spots on the leaves. My bathroom window is on the east side of the house and is frosted. It also has a wide sill so that’s where I keep mine because
  2. They like a bit of humidity and a bathroom is the perfect place for that.
  3. Water them every week to 10 days. I don’t do the ice cube method like some people do.
  4. Feed them with an orchid feed once a month when they’re not blooming and twice a month while they bloom.
  5. It seems easier to control their wetness when in a plastic pot. Once I transplanted one of them into a Dixie cup that I had cut hole in for drainage.
  6. After they’re finished blooming, your supposed to cut the stem down to just above the first node down the stem. I haven’t tried this yet but if you cut it when the blooms are just starting to fade, it will send out more blooms.
  7. If you transplant them, do not use standard potting soil. Make sure to buy potting soil for orchids which usually is mostly comprised of bark.
  8. Patience, patience, patience. A once-a-year bloom isn’t very often and it seems hardly worth the effort. However, when that new shoot comes up and you see the little bumps appear, you get all excited. They are delicate beautiful flowers and are worth the wait.
  9. The color of the orchid may change. One of the orchids I have was given to me by a friend after surgery a year and a half ago. I don’t remember what color the blooms were but I’m sure they weren’t white. When it started blooming this past winter, they were white with a tiny bit of color in the center. Turns out you can color them.  I’m guessing the one I had had been colored at the store or greenhouse. Maybe not. Maybe my memory is off! 🙂
  10. If you buy one, choose one that is not yet fully blooming. This way you should have more bloom time than the fully blooming ones, which could be near the end of their blooming cycle.


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The bloom on the left is from the stem that I trimmed back to the top node. The other stalk came up later but bloomed at the same time.

If you have experience with Phaleanopsis orchids, or recommend another type of orchid, I’d love any feedback that you might have.


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Here are some other helpful articles on the web:

Getting Orchids to Bloom Again

Phalaenopsis for Beginners

Orchid Care FAQs

The Gift of Valentine’s Day


This Valentine’s Day week I surrounded myself with orchids. No, I wasn’t feeling sorry my single self or anything. You know, by your own flowers and stuff.



So no, actually, it was for our 5th Annual Widows’ Banquet. I volunteered rather last minute for the decorating and it was with the understanding that it would have to be kept simple.


I was tickled to find freshly delivered for Valentine’s Day and fully blooming and in pretty white pots locally. We go all out with china and so it really doesn’t require a lot of decoration.



Ladies from church volunteer to bring china and stemware to fill up a table. After meal is served, the owners are responsible to take care of washing their dishes. We have a small kitchen so this works good plus we don’t have to worry about breaking anything in the kitchen.


We have 2 menus that we rotate and make tweaks each year or change some things out.


Each lady had a beautiful corsage, made by other volunteers, to wear.


Our maneuvering space isn’t all that great so we have to make every bit of space count. Marcus and Sonya have been coordinating everything since we’ve started this and it’s quite organized.


These young ladies (Nicole and Kristin) provided entertainment of inspirational singing after the meal.


Each lady was given a gift when they left…. an embroidered hand towel and homemade granola.




There are many ways to bless those in the community around you. This is one of them that we have chosen to do. The ladies are so grateful and we thoroughly enjoy serving them in this way!

After helping in the kitchen all day I dragged myself home to rest. It makes a person totally forget that it is Valentine’s Day (well, almost, V Day was Sunday, not Saturday) and they are single. 🙂



Is My Font Too Small??

I’d love some feedback for those who usually read my blog straight from the website.

Is my font too small for comfortable reading?

The blog theme I use does not give me a choice to size the font and I can switch to another theme if I need to. I’m guessing if you use feedly or another blog reader or email that the theme does not affect how it looks for you.

Thanks in advance! 🙂

Montana – Part 4 – Thompson Falls

The last few days of our trip were spent in Western Montana. One of my dear friends from my days at Northern Youth Programs, Lisa, and her family live in another beautiful part of Montana. The live in a valley between two ridges. As we approached their area, we began noticing more and more dear. It was dusk Sunday evening when we arrived and the dear were everywhere!!

Backing up a bit …

Leaving the Fairfield area, we enjoyed the views of the light covering of snow that was quickly melting.

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Heading southwest we went through an area where houses are few and far between. Lois mentioned that she feels like she might be on the moon. I totally agreed.

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The closer we got to the Roger’s Pass at Continental Divide, the patchier the snow was.

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Until we started climbing to Roger’s Pass, the snow was thick and wet!

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There was pretty much a beauty overload the whole trip!

Check out the overpass below. It is for wildlife to cross the road.

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We could see a little smoke hanging in the air to the west.

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Our only full day in Thompson Falls area, Lisa took us around to see the local area, something both Lois and I love doing!

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There was a lot of vibrant colors in the towns!!

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It was quite amazing to us to see all of the wildlife just wandering around town. How would you like to eat a picnic lunch at the park, surrounded by these?

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Lisa had to drop something off for a friend, and there was a buck in a yard down the street.

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We took a walk on over the area where the hydro dam. We noticed several Bald Eagles flying nearby.

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I noticed an eagle dipping down toward the water and it was one of those moments that I was glad had my camera ready!! You can see the fish toward the bottom left of the photo. I didn’t notice it until I was editing the photos.

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He flew off to enjoy his spoils and soon there was a group of crows around him, offering him help with eating it.

Lisa’s friend, Sadie, invited us over for supper and apple cider making … brewing … pressing. Yeah, that’s it, pressing. I guess that’s how you say it. Either way, we made apple cider after supper. It was an interesting and delicious experience!

The setting of their place is amazing!! This view is from their back porch.

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And they, also, have deer wondering around the place.

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Sadie tried to get the buck to come closer but the extra people around made him a little skittish.

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The cider was SO good!! Here’s a photo of the biggest and smallest apple I could find from the boxes we were processing. This was an off year for Lisa’s trees.

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I wish I could’ve been out during a time when the Milky Way was at the best viewing location. I think this happens in the spring/early summer for the US. This is only a fraction of the Milky Way. The lack of light pollution in the west makes it a great spot to see a maximum number of stars.

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On our way out the next day, I finally saw some bighorn sheep grazing near the road.

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The ladies took us to one more hot springs in Paradise, MT. You can find out more info here: Quinn’s Hot Springs. This has a total of 5 outdoor pools, most of them only a few degrees apart, except for the one pore-closing, hair-standing-on-end one that gripped it’s icy fingers around your ankles (me) or your neck (my cousin Anne who shrieked her way through a dip every once-in-a-while).

(Photo from Visit


We flew out of Missoula, relaxed, rested up, and ready to get back home (for the most part). If a vacation feels like it could/should go on longer, it must have been a good one!!

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