The Chapters Of Our Lives... - Penny Lane Blog at - 273018

Penny Lane

The Chapters of Our Lives... 
Apr. 16, 2012 7:24 pm 
Updated: Mar. 3, 2013 12:20 pm
Ups and downs - twists and turns these are the chapters of our lives. The road is rarely straight - some things just cannot be predicted. Change is part of growing- through that growth we come to appreciate what life deals us.

Not all change is welcome - good or bad these events make us who we are today. Better - richer from the wealth of knowledge that comes with living.

It seems the chapters of my life come in groups of ten. A decade at a time.

The First Decade: I couldn't wait to grow up - summer lasted forever and I thought I would never grow up. I was doomed to be a kid in an adult world. My time was occupied by horses and chickens - chores and our family restaurant. This is really where my love of cooking and food began - I just didn't know it, yet.

The next decade - The Teens - a whole other chapter
My next chapter threw me a curve ball - my mother died, my sister got married, my eldest brother went to Vietnam and my other brother went away to college. The restaurant closed. That was all in one year! So began another chapter of my life. I went to boarding school.

I was not a happy camper.

At first it was a boarding school in Santa Barbara, where Irish Nuns prepared delicious Irish Stew, which I looked forward to each and every week. They taught me to pray - to pray for my brother's safe return - each night after dinner I went to chapel to pray - it worked!  This was not an easy year for me but I survived.

Then my father took a job in the Middle East and I was off to a British boarding school. My parents were British and this made total sense - except to me. My family might have been born in the UK but I was a California girl. This decade took me through hills and dales - from California to Britain to Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Spain and France with a few other countries thrown in for good measure. Other teens my age collected records and posters - I collected passport stamps and a sampling of food from the world cuisine. I also collected pounds - not British Sterling kind either - I left for Britain weighing 95 lbs and came home weighing 165 lb.... Let me just say we spent more time walking to meals than any other exercise. 

The March activity for the Ambassador program was to go to the UK site - join and and make a few recipes.  This was like 'going home' for me.  It was a journey back in time.  Thanks, AR for taking me "home" for a month.    

Overstone School - the Main Residence House
Most of the main house was destroyed by fire in recent years. 

Domestic Science Final Exam 
Boy - did we know how to make scones, pastry and white sauce?
Yes, we did and I have still not forgotten!    

Netball team - In front of the school buildings 
I bet you can't guess who I am....

Students in front of the Main House - See that cloak on the far right - the hoods were lined with the color of your 'House"  - My house was Topaz - Does this sound a bit like Harry Potter? 
You know what is wrong with this picture?
We were never allowed to wear pants and we were never allowed bikes.
Overstone Church, Northamptonshiretyle="font-family:Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif; text-align:-webkit-auto">
At the bottom of the drive to Overstone stands the church - it is where we worshiped every Sunday - wearing our Sunday uniform.   It still stands today.  
The beginning of my 20's brought me HOME - California again - my 20's brought me my husband and 3 children. I had a family - one that I created, but we were family complete with our food traditions - many of them British. As my children grew so did our interest in sports and the kids activities so began another chapter - soccer....

Living in England I learned to love 'football' - not the American variety but what we here in the States call soccer - problem - although as a young woman it was acceptable to cheer for a team or support a club with banners and flags it was UNHEARD of to play or referee!
I knew and loved the sport but I knew my place.....then came the call.....we need your child's team to have a referee.... that was 1981 - I answered the call. I went to class - I went to training - I faced players & parents on the field and the next thing I knew I was hooked.

Then came my 30's - by now I had 3 children playing soccer and I had become the slow cooker / fast food coach & referee mother. We were doing soccer year round - pot lucks on the soccer field were the norm - and boy was there some good food. Sometimes I would pick the tournaments based on what was served at the referee tent.

Korean Short Ribs & Rice = I was there! Hot dogs and Nacho's = pass.

Amazingly - I look back and realize that even my 'season' as a referee was centered around food.

Then came my next chapter - my daughters were involved in a horrible car accident - my youngest was in the hospital at Loma Linda University Medical Center for 6 months - my eldest for 6 weeks. I lived out at Loma Linda for 6 months - this is where I learned about - Acceptance - Inner Peace and Vegetarian Cuisine. .... Oh yes, and no caffeine ... Loma Linda is Seventh Day Adventist - it is a BYOB type of place..... "Bring Your Own Beans" Coffee Beans that is....

Then came the decade of renewal - of learning to walk - to talk - to eat - my life as a Nationally ranked referee came to a screaming halt and I began another chapter of my life.

It was during this time that I came to searching for recipes for my daughter - I didn't know about becoming a member or that offered a recipe box - I could have saved myself a lot of time and ink - copying / pasting & printing recipes, if I had only known.  

Then came my next chapter - my girls were healthy and alive and I was failing - I was nursing a torn ACL - I couldn't walk let alone run - I was down and out but not enough to keep me off the computer. About the same time came a series of events that led me back into cooking for 'real people' .... families and those in need. Families who needed special diets - those who just needed wholesome food instead of fast food.

Which eventually led me to  AllRecipes & the Recipe Exchange aka the Buzz - here I found a whole new world of foodies.
There was Witchy Woman and Mominator, Sassy and RedNeck Grandma, Evin and Weeble....Cindy and Gderr - gosh - so many "REAL" people. I read and read and then I couldn't resist - I joined in - I don't think I even introduced myself - for that I am sorry - I just barged into the party and I haven't looked back.

The next thing I knew I was "breaking all the rules" and planning to meet up with my "new friends" Indeed, I have met so many new friends through

This is my kind of community - a group of "foodies" that care about each other, offer advice - cooking or not, support each other and cheer each other on.

Through AR I have met many true friends - friends who will find a way to get to Southern California from Las Vegas - some from Oregon, a couple who have traveled from the mid-west to meet up with a bunch of crazy AR Peeps!  Then there are the new friends - just waiting to be hugged and 'met'. Notice - the hug comes first!  

Don't hesitate to "meet and greet" your fellow AR Peeps - you will not be disappointed - they have enriched my life beyond measure. 

I am an Allrecipes Allstar Brand Ambassador(a voluntary position) and I’m not compensated for my work with Products received from advertiser are only used for experienced-based reviews on Penny Lane. The reviews, content and opinions expressed in this blog are purely the sole opinions of Penny aka Baking Nana.   
Apr. 16, 2012 8:17 pm
I absolutely LOVE this blog. I want more...I want the all the chapters filled in. You are an amazing, kind and strong woman. I am so happy to have you as a friend and thank you to allrecipes for building the foundation for this community.
Apr. 16, 2012 8:18 pm
What a journey you have been on! You have taken the challenges in your life and found positive ways to use them. My second sons God Mother also went to a Catholic boarding school in Santa Barbara. She is maybe 2 or 3 years older than you. I wonder if you two were school mates... Thanks for sharing your story.
Apr. 16, 2012 8:28 pm
DelMarGirl - My brother - 13 years my senior - the one who went to Vietnam - gave me some very good advice - "You can sit around and feel sorry for yourself so you can pull yourself up and make the best of it" That was a turning point for me. He had it much worse than I did and made the best of what life handed him.
Apr. 16, 2012 8:34 pm
Marie C - I was the youngest boarding student at Mary Mount Santa Barbara. I was the only 7th grader who was a boarder - I was there in 1968-69. It was a beautiful location - caring people -none the less it was a rough year for me. I wonder if I knew your friend. It is a small world.
Apr. 16, 2012 8:42 pm
I am going to text her and ask. She also struggled with the circumstances of her need to be at a boarding school. They must have instilled something special in their wards as she is the most compassionate person we know.
Apr. 16, 2012 8:56 pm
Marie - I would be so interested to see if your friend was at Mary Mount at the same time I was. There were a few people there that really touched my life.
Apr. 16, 2012 9:24 pm
Wow! Now that's a story to behold. Very touching, BN! Thank you so much for sharing. We all have our times, don't we?
Apr. 16, 2012 9:36 pm
Marianne - we do all have our times - some better than others - all those 'times' have a place in our lives.....those are the times that make us who we are. If it were not for AR I would never have met you - my life would not be as rich as it is without you. :) Thank you for taking the leap of faith to drive to a strangers house to meet up with all of us!
Apr. 16, 2012 10:13 pm
I love this blog post! Thank you for sharing part of your life with us. May I stand in line to get a hug and be a new friend?
Apr. 16, 2012 10:22 pm
Paula - I can't wait to (((hug))) you and meet you too! I am so blessed to have found so many wonderful people on AR! :)
Apr. 16, 2012 11:58 pm
Thank you for sharing. I enjoyed reading this blog. Looking forward to meeting you!
Apr. 17, 2012 2:34 am
This is a great blog post. Thank you for sharing so many chapters of your life. I'm sure as you wrote it you re-lived it as I do when I write...and often times do so with tears streaming down my face - because whenever someone writes with so much feeling you can't help but feel it. I was brought up in the Seventh-Day Adventist church, and while I have not always been a faithful member (we all rebel and go our own ways) I have many memories and connections because of the church and their schools - and can't go anywhere church related without running into someone I know or someone who knows someone I know. SDA's are loving people and often misinterpreted by others. I'm glad you had the opportunity to experience their caring during such a rough time in your life.
Apr. 17, 2012 4:05 am
You are a force of nature, B'Nana! Your brother did give you good advice, but I'm sure you turned out well because you took the advice to heart! Survival is important, but living well is triumphant. Thanks for sharing your story. Beautiful way to start my day!
Apr. 17, 2012 5:50 am
Wow, what a testimony your life's journey has been, and obviously has molded you into a remarkable woman. I remember Loma Linda Medical center, I had a friend there for awhile that was in a motorcycle accident. I too didn't even know there was a buzz or recipe box until years after I was using this site for recipes. I'm glad I discovered this world of "Foodies" like me. I can't wait to meet some of the people I've met in cyberspace here on AR, face to face this summer at the Southern round up. Thank you for sharing your past history with us, I find your story very inspiring. Oh and you're the first one on the left sitting down in the photo, right?
Apr. 17, 2012 6:07 am
What an amazing story you have and you are very talented not only in baking but writing! I loved reading it. Maybe in the next chapter of your life you can be an author? Thanks for sharing so much about yourself with us.
Apr. 17, 2012 6:13 am
BN, Sorry, I was wrong about my friends school. I was sure that was the same one and was excited at the thought of connecting two school mates. She also found kindness and healing at her boarding school. Thanks again for sharing your story.
Apr. 17, 2012 6:32 am
Lower left? I thought I had heard every story of your life yet you surprised me with a couple bits of life. Thanks for being my precious friend and my favorite cheerleader.
Apr. 17, 2012 7:05 am
I was just going to say the same thing, mauigirl--lower left!
Apr. 17, 2012 8:03 am
Baking Nana.....I love your blog for so many reasons. First of all thank you for so generously sharing some of the stories of your life. The community here at AR has always been so welcoming and friendly and whether it is a cooking question or a need to vent, there is a kind and understanding person ready to share. You have demonstrated in such a lovely way how much love and giving there is to be shared and enjoyed. Cheers to you and all the great people here at AR...have a wonderful day.
Apr. 17, 2012 8:27 am
I meant to add that I haven't had the pleasure of meeting any of the members of AR personally, I can see that many of you have quite a connection to each other, getting together socially and I thank you for making everyone here feel included.
Apr. 17, 2012 9:26 am
When I began to read your blog I instantly thought of the Rascal Flatts song "Bless The Broken Road". Yes, the broken road has lead us all to AR. Remind me in Vegas to tell you about Loma Linda. I too often visit the place and take a thermos of coffee. Another great blog and most importantly please tell your eldest brother for me, "welcome home brother".
Apr. 17, 2012 10:05 am
Laura, Thanks for stopping in. One of these days we WILL meet! Grumpy's Honeybunch, Thank you for your kind words. I had actually started this blog numerous times over the past months only to scrap it - too much detail - too little detail - too painful - too soppy. Finally, I just sat down yesterday and wrote it. Our time at Loma Linda taught me many things - I feel blessed that my girls were airlifted there. Not only is prayer accepted it is encouraged. They not only took excellent care of my daughters they took care of me as well - both physically and emotionally. All these years later I still remember the kindness and loving spirit that surrounded us.
Apr. 17, 2012 10:22 am
Good morning Bibi - Thank you for stopping in. You are so right - Life must be so much more than just surviving. One thing that struck me while at Loma Linda is that no matter how bad we had it - there were many many people who had it so much worse than us. To do anything other than to celebrate life, to give of ourselves, does a disservice to the opportunities that we have been afforded. Speaking of opportunities - I can't wait to meet you in person in Las Vegas. Be prepared to be hugged!
Apr. 17, 2012 10:28 am
*Sherri* You got it! Mauigirl & Marianne figured it out too. Yes, I am the one seated, front row, on the far left. You are going to have a ball at the Southern Round Up - these events are truly amazing. Hopefully, we too will get to meet one of these days. :)
Apr. 17, 2012 10:32 am
iceemama - Thank you for your kind words - I tend to just write from the heart - I am not the wordsmith that true writers are. Oddly enough am finding it difficult to find the right words to respond to all these amazing comments. AR has become a good corner of my world - thank you for being part of it.
Apr. 17, 2012 10:34 am
Mauigirl and Marianne - Thank you for taking that initial leap of faith and coming to that first gathering. I am blessed to call you both real friends. I can't imagine never having met either of you. AR made that possible - I will be forever thankful for that. :)
Apr. 17, 2012 10:41 am
ellie - What sets apart AllRecipes from other food sites is exactly what you just said - it is the community of caring helpful people who also happen to be foodies. I hope you get the opportunity to meet some of these wonderful people in person. Thank you for being part of this great community.
Apr. 17, 2012 10:59 am
bd.weld - I can't wait to meet you in person in Las Vegas! I know that we will have a lot of talk about. I still laugh about the coffee - friends kept going to the cafeteria and bringing me cups of coffee to pass the time while we waited for hours on end those first few days - it wasn't doing it's job - duh!!!! I will pass along your kind words to my brother. He is my hero - I certainly wouldn't be the person I am today without him. See you soon!
Apr. 17, 2012 8:27 pm
Baking Nana-you have certainly traveled the globe. So many different life learning experiences have enriched your life. I enjoyed your blog-it was very intriguing and interesting to read. I wonder do you still like to travel?
Apr. 18, 2012 5:04 am
You, my dear, are well "seasoned" and I am simply.... in awe. Fabulous blog and I am so pleased to know more about you. Your story reminds me of a Chinese Proverb: The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected without trials. You are quite polished, BN, that you are. Your trials have tenderized your heart and so many of us have been given the benefit of your kind and generous help, here on the Buzz. Thanks for sharing your stories! :) Jan
Apr. 18, 2012 6:13 am
Good morning Lela. I do still like to travel although I need to see more of the United States. When each of my children turned 13 I took them to England for 2 weeks. Rented a car and went on an adventure. It was great and we were able to meet up with some relatives and some of the girls I went to school with. I will always cherish those memories.
Apr. 18, 2012 6:33 am
WFDM - Thanks for stopping in. I love that Chinese Proverb. Indeed, I am 'seasoned' - a lot like a cast iron skillet :) Built to last! To quote Ralph Waldo Emerson 'It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.' :)
Apr. 18, 2012 9:23 am
Wow. What a blog and what a life, Baking Nana! You have faced many trials, but you have also been exposed to so many things that so many of us have only dreamed of. Thanks for sharing your story with all of us! I loved this.
Apr. 18, 2012 2:11 pm
Hi wisweetp - I think we are all faced with trials - it is what we make of them. I think I was just born a "glass half full" person. Even though I wasn't a 'happy camper' I really do appreciate how much I got to see and do. The best part is I got to spend lots of time in the Middle East during a 'peaceful' time. There are blessings to be received from all adversity.... I am blessed!
Apr. 18, 2012 8:05 pm
Ba'Nana, I remember very well when you first started to participate on the buzz. I remember the questions you asked about the family (couple) that you cooked for. I remember thinking how envious I was that you actually were doing something that you enjoyed and was getting paid for it at the same time. I also remember you coming to the rescue of LisaJ when she was unable to locate some of the Mexican chili peppers we take for granted out here in the west. What a sweet and kind gesture that was. Everyone that I've met thus far that knows you all say the same thing. You are a treasure and I can't wait to finally get the chance to meet the rest of the So Cal group.
Apr. 19, 2012 5:18 am
Good morning Avon. I remember so well the 'conversation' we had about coffee pots. I still have that coffee pot and it is on it's last legs. I still cook for the 'Picky's' and they are still picky. :) I can't wait to meet you one of these days.
Apr. 20, 2012 6:31 am
Baking Nana, I almost missed this blog! I am so glad that I didn't. It is a wonderful blog and a true testament to your life.You are a wonderful person. I haven't met you in person, but I would love to be able to one of these days.Thanks for sharing some most trying and some of the most rewarding times of your life with us.
Apr. 20, 2012 10:35 am
Hi char - I am glad you found this blog & stopped to comment. Thank you for your kind words. AR really is a good corner of my world - I really hope we get a chance to meet someday.
Apr. 20, 2012 7:32 pm
Absolutely a wonderful blog! I went looking for a recipe and stumbled onto a whole 'nuther world just a couple of years ago. In fact, the reason you haven't seen me or been bugged :) by me is I'm getting ready for the 3rd annual Missouri roundup. I get to see old friends and meet new ones and it wouldn't have happened without Allrecipes. You know, I even think about some of you when I wake up at those odd hours at night. BTW, whatever happened to Sunnybyrd? I've often wondered. Loved the look into your early life and if I'm ever in your corner of the world, you bet I will look you up and I hope vice versa :)(:
Apr. 20, 2012 11:15 pm
You are such a blessing to us all, Ba'Nana! I know we are all grateful you are here! And, btw, I don't think I ever introduced myself, either, when I finally stopped lurking and started sharing (=
Apr. 20, 2012 11:16 pm
(AND, I have REALLY missed you at the last couple of mini round-ups I've been to recently. We need to remedy that! [Before Vegas, please!])
Apr. 21, 2012 11:00 am
Hi Cat! I know you are going to have an absolute ball at the Mid West gathering. I will be with you in spirit. One of these days we will meet up!
Apr. 21, 2012 11:01 am
Hi there xraybarb! I have missed you! Darn it - I hate missing a gathering. We will get together soon, promise!
Apr. 21, 2012 5:45 pm
Wow! I just love to hear people's stories. And, what a life story you have! You are right too. Our life experiences, be they good or bad, exciting or ho-hum make us who we are. I am always so interested to know WHY people live where they live too! And, I usually get around to asking. It's a huge fascination to me. Great blog!
Apr. 22, 2012 10:29 am
Hi Candice. Thanks for stopping in. I too love hearing peoples life stories. In my youth I didn't appreciate my parents wisdom and sacrifice. It took me until I was 40 years old to actually appreciate & thank my father.
Apr. 23, 2012 9:07 am
Chapters/Days of AR Lives:) Your book of life reads very well. Ten years at a time does seem like a great time span to determine a chapter or as I call it, a season. I know I am in mid summer season of my life but still feel like I am enjoying spring. When I am asked to take on a new task in the community and I know I will not have time to commit to it properly, I simply tell them it is not yet my season to do.... whatever it is. Love you pics, I would guess bottom left, same smile:)
Apr. 23, 2012 7:40 pm
Thanks for sharing your journey. Very intersting! Glad I found the buzz, too!
Apr. 24, 2012 6:29 am
RNG - These days, ten years flies by. As a kid a year seemed to last forever. My grand daughter will be turning 14 this summer, she is as tall as me. I swear it was only a year or so ago that she was a toddler stealing tomatoes out of the garden and eating them before we could get them inside. Yes, bottom left, seated is me.
Apr. 24, 2012 6:31 am
Shannon - thanks for stopping in. The Buzz really is what makes AllRecipes different that other recipe sites. We are blessed.
Apr. 24, 2012 5:53 pm
What a great, heartfelt blog B'nana! Anything I would say has already been said by everyone else. I'm glad I know you, and I'm sorry I get sidetracked so often and lose touch with my ARpeeps on this site. Thanks for being one of the bright spots in my busy life:)
May 10, 2012 8:40 am
I am late reading your blog BN, enjoyed it immensely! Quite the life you have had. Glad your daughters are well, brother survived war, lost your mother at a young age, very tough. One similar thing we share is all in one year, all my siblings moved out, father disappeared, was left with my mom and had to move to a low income neighborhood. I know what it like to have everything change, I was 12. Even though I know I have not eaten any of your cooking, I know you are one fabulous cook, and are one very strong person. You have a great heart! Nice to see your cooking photos back on the voting photos page! Vote for you all the time and it is even before I see it is your name. I swear! Thank you for sharing your life.
May 10, 2012 8:45 am
While I am at it, would love to see more pictures of you and your daily life in your AR photo album! I Love the dog in the waves, you at Cal Poly Pomona restaurant etc... more please? Any garden pictures? Grand kids?
Mar. 3, 2013 12:20 pm
Hi, just came across this site. I live near to Overstone House. There are a number of people trying to save the remains, after fire destroyed 60% of it on 16th April 2001. If you are on Facebook, please come and "like" the Overstone House Action Group page. Thanks.
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Baking Nana

Living In
Corona, California, USA

Member Since
Aug. 2009

Cooking Level

Cooking Interests
Baking, Grilling & BBQ, Frying, Stir Frying, Slow Cooking, Asian, Mexican, Italian, Healthy, Quick & Easy

Gardening, Hiking/Camping, Camping, Boating, Walking, Fishing, Photography, Music, Charity Work

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About Me
Every morning my granddaughter calls and says, "Good morning Nana. Whatcha doing? Are you baking Nana?" Hence my name, Baking Nana. I love to bake bread and never get tired of it. Yeast is additive! Visit me at If you would like to contact me directly please use the 'Contact Me' on my site.
My favorite things to cook
I go through phases, Asian for a while then Italian then on to something else. I love experimenting with new flavors and different spices. Some times my husband will ask if we will ever have "ordinary" food again. Once in a while I have to toss him a burger just to keep quite! Actually, he is a good sport and my favorite taste tester.
My favorite family cooking traditions
In our family if it is your birthday you get to choose the menu. We have had some really interesting meals. In March we have 5 birthdays so we do one big party - what a crazy menu that is! Christmas dinner is very traditional. Sausage rolls, Prime Rib, Yorkshire Pudding, gravy, Green beans with bacon, Mashed Potatoes (the really fattening kind) and trifle for dessert. If I were to dare to omit any of those items I would be lynched.
My cooking triumphs
Mastering really great bread is probably my biggest triumph. I am always so pleased when I create a perfect Asian dish.
My cooking tragedies
There have been a few but none so horrible that I can't laugh about them now.
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