What Would You Do?


He is known simply as the harmonica man.

His real name is Andy Mackie.

After nine heart surgeries he was taking 15 different prescription medications to stay alive. The side effects of the medicine made him feel miserable. So Andy decided to go off all medications. This retired horse trainer decided that if he only had a few more weeks to live he was going to spend it doing something he loved and had always wanted to do.

He took the money he would have spent for his heart medications and went out and bought 30 harmonicas. He gave them to children in a local school in Washington state, where Mackie lives. Mackie also gave free harmonica lessons to the children. He thought this simple act of giving would be the last thing he would ever do on the face of this earth.

That was 11 years ago!

Since then Andy Mackie has not stopped. He has continued to spend a portion of his monthly social security check to give the joy of music to school children in Washington. He also makes and gives away strum sticks. And he still gives free music lessons.

According to CBS News, Mackie says, “I can’t explain the joy. I don’t think Bill Gates feels any richer inside than I do.”

You can watch Andy in action and get the full story in this CBS News video profile.

Today there is also an Andy Mackie Music Foundation. From the Foundation website: “Andy’s dream is to give every child who wants to learn to play music an opportunity to do so.  The Andy Mackie Foundation provides Free Instruments, Free Lessons and Scholarships to any child who wants to learn.  He has helped more than 1000 children learn to play stringed instruments which he builds in his shop, taught more than 12,000 children to play harmonica and given over 75 scholarships to graduating seniors.”

Not a bad legacy.

What would you do in similar circumstances? Would you stop taking all of your medications to pursue a dream? Do you have a secret dream you would like to pursue? What would you be willing to do to make that dream come true? Leave your response in the comments section below. I share my dream in the comments section.

Featured Recipe          Sweet Italian Sausages with Grapes

The recipe I share with you today is easy as easy can be. An extra added benefit is it is simply delicious.

This recipe is not my creation. I read it in a cook book or a magazine a dozen years or more ago. I don’t even have a clipping of it.

It is so easy I have it committed to memory. Even I can commit to memory a recipe this simple!!!!  

The only change I made is I also add red grapes. The original recipe just used green  if I remember corectly. I have seen other recipes  like this  in many places since I first saw this one. I have even tried a few. But this simple recipe remains my favorite.

This is what you will need:  

Sweet Italian sausage 1 per person                       

1 pound seedless green                                

1 pound red grapes                                       

1-2 tablespoons olive oil     

NOTE: You can use any flavor of sausage you like, including hot and spicy. However, there is just something special about Sweet Italian and the grapes. That particular flavor combination is just heaven here on earth!! Such yumminess!!!


 Here is what you do:

Brown sausage over medium high heat and cook through in half of the olive oil.

Remove from skillet and keep the sausages warm by tenting aluminum foil over them.

Add the grapes and cook over until they start to wilt and split open. This will only take a few minutes. Shake the skillet occasionally to keep the grapes moving around. This keeps them from burning.

Pour the grapes and olive oil next to the sausages and………….

…………..serve with some garlic bread.

You can buy garlic bread in the freezer section of your grocery store. But it is much cheaper (and healthier and fewer calories) to make it yourself.

Buy some dinner rolls ($.49 each). You will need about half a teaspoon of butter for each slice of bread.

You will also need 1 or 2 very small clove of garlic peeled. Slice the bread into rounds and toast them. While the bread is still warm rub the garlic over the bread. I love the aroma of garlic rubbed on hot, straight out of the toaster oven toast.

Then spread some softened butter over the toast. If you have some shredded or grated parmesan cheese in the refrigerator add a teaspoon to the toast and melt the cheese.

The garlic toast should add less than $.50 per slice to the meal.


Sweet Italian sausage          $.85*

1 pound seedless green        $1.99

1 pound red grapes              $.99

1-2 tablespoons olive oil       $.38

Total Cost                              $4.21
Cost per person for 3           $1.40

*NOTE: I found the sausages for sale, $3.00 off regular price of $4.39 for a package of 5. When you find a bargain like this at the grocery store, GRAB IT. The reduced cost for the sausages is also why I decided to share this recipe with you today.

Quote of the Day

As a child my mother’s menu consisted of two choices: take it or leave it.

Buddy Hackett

******NOTICE: The original Recipe portion of this post was edited on January 28, 2011 to change the section to the “new” recipe format or layout I use today at More Thyme Than Dough. The blog post was not changed at all.******

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7 comments to What Would You Do?

  • Roberta

    For several years I have had a dream of starting a cooking blog. My original idea was to create a blog that would cater to those people who cook for just themselves or maybe one other person.

    But the the Great Recession struck and I started to read about pepole losing their homes and even many in the middle class needing food stamps to feed their families.

    So I decided to make my dream a reality so that I could share inexpensive and easy recipes for those needing the same.

    Right now I am living my dream.

  • LHunter

    I now have this bookmarked, and check everyday. I am really enjoying reading each article before the recipe. Way to go, on living your dream!

  • Isabel (@typertist)

    Great touching story! I had tears in my eyes…thinking of ‘my’ own story. I try to stay positive, and sometimes there are days that I need to try harder. Don’t want to sound negative, but there are days…I feel trapped and unable to pursue my interests.
    I’ll shed a lit’l light…just recently I was approved for disability, and got my health insurance (medicare) on Feb. 1st. You see, I suffer from excruciating pain due to my back (several things wrong). As what the Orthopedic surgeon said, surgery will not be good for me. I first went to him for fusion surgery, but that didn’t happen. He said if I get the surgery I’ll still have pain, then I’ll need a second still w/ pain, and then a third surgery…without getting rid of the pain. Ugh. So I ‘need’ to take pain-killers. I try not to take sometimes, and rest more but it’s hard to stay immobile. I have to ‘DO’!
    One thing I have…not many doctors know about it, and I am ‘trying’ to put the word out. Surprisingly, not even doctors in New York nor New Jersey (where I’m from). I have a Tarlov Cyst, and when the back area is inflamed the pain is excruciating.
    The best thing is that I try to stay positive. I am looking forward to setting up a website, uploading more of my artwork (old/new stuff) along with photos.
    Reeeaaallllyyyy Sorry Roberta for my rant, but your story did ‘almost’ made me cry. God bless Andy!
    I feel there are soooo many things I want to do, and sometimes my pain holds me back. I am trying really hard to fight through what I most likely am in… a state of “D”.
    [Oh…and my back may be even worse now. Before New Years on a Tuesday, I had the flu and fainted in the bathroom. The thing is I landed on my head…Ouch!…and still sometimes feel dizzy. Yes, now that I have my insurance I will be going to get myself checked.]
    Anywho, thank you for posting this recipe! Never had sauteed grapes before, but this looks delicious. You’re right, this is so simple to remember… even with a banged-up head. <<You see, one cannot go without a sense-of-humor! ღ(ˆ◡ˆ)ღ
    *I also shared it on my Wooxie site, and will be sharing it on my Todhd/Kelseylive site (site seems to be down at this moment).
    Isabel [yep…ME, "Just Is"] You should read how I came up with this name…'Just Is'. IF you want.

  • […] a lot becasue they are so easy. And I have cooked grapes in the skillet till they pop ~~~  Sweet Italian Sausages with Grapes ~~~ and I love them too. I never thought about putting the two together. So I knew this recipe […]

  • […] I have extolled the delightful pairing of sausage and gapes since the earliest days of More Thyme Than Dough, starting with Sweet Italian Sausages with Grapes. […]