Monday, December 31, 2007
Say Good-bye to "Ought" Seven... and Hello to "Oh! Eight!"
1. Grow closer to God... It is so exciting to learn more and more about God's beautiful faithfulness to his children.
2. Enjoy and be prepared for the days ahead. That means to plan, Gayla. Yes, you... Stop this adrenaline-rush living that has been your motivation. Plan for upcoming holidays, dinner parties, weeks... plan.
3. Enjoy healthier foods. And exercise. or at least move a bit more, huh? Yes, again... you, Gayla. (Boy, my psyche is being punched in the ample tummy now!)
4. Let others be.... I mean it. Stop trying to micromanage and fix it. Pray for them, do for them in love, BUT stop the bossing! Wow... These may be too hard!
5. Enjoy the beautiful. That will be fun do to. My mother does't use her pretty things, but guess what? She may have to now. Who is going to use them and break them if we don't? haha.. It would be a shame to set out at auction a cup or punch bowl that had never been used by this family... what's the good of that?
6. Watch lovely and uplifting tv more. That means no to some of my old favorites. I'm not saying no CSI, but you know, cutting up a big bloated floating... you know... what good is that to my soul? And they blew it when Grissom and whats her name parted ways...
7. Look like you meant to... That includes some attention to detail, to nails, to runners in panti hose, to jewelry... to shoes.... yeah... The bag lady look should go.
8. Be open through the year to include at least one more new idea or resolution.... The proverbial last wish saved for more wishes kind of thing.
Happy New Year, Blog Land!
Sunday, December 30, 2007
Morning Snowshine. . .
A quick look out the window reveals sunshine today. At last a midwestern winter day with no snow or blow.... Amazing.
My son bought me this fairy for my collection. She is part of a fairy band, but he deemed the other fairies in the ensemble too "sexy" for Granny's house.... Isn't that a hoot? Censorship reversal.
And finally an introduction to Cicely Mary Barker's Fairy journal.. I received the calendar, and now I'm looking at Amazon for my next "be good to me" purchase in the form of her book.
Today is the day I make any resolutions. I have a dear friend who has decided and decreed she will watch NO television all of 2008. I'm sure not going to do that. Of course, there's the diet thing. I so want a daily quiet time with God, but don't think a New Year's Resolution is the way to go on that. I don't want to just forget that idea of a clean slate and a fresh plan... I am waiting for inspiration. It may come in the form of a nap today since I saw the sun-- pink and rosy hued in the East--- before I slept, konked out in my new recliner... Now that... that isn't the "be good to me"-ish type of stuff this life should be made of... I was restless and kind of unhappy last night. I think it was an overdose of Eagles. My friend and I listened to their new 2 CD album, and it's good. It sounds like their earlier hits enough that it transported me back to the "days" when I was a young mother, bride... had what I thought was going to be my life.... I dunno. It made me sad and made me want to call someone up and sob... but thankfully, I did not. I trekked upstairs for an ugly mug of hot tea and unwrapped a few "my moment, my Doves" and the urge melted into a chocolate stupor... Aha... I keep coming back to that beautiful life thing. I may make that my New Year's Resolution.... to do my level best to surround myself and those I love with beauty as I see it.... Beauty of spirit first, then of attitude, and environment....???? Whatsoever is beautiful.... of good report, think on these things? Have a blessed Sunday.
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Shhh... Let the quiet embrace us all...
Monday, December 24, 2007
Merry Christmas Eve
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Merry Merry Christmas to you, Dears. . .
Mom's cozy little display lights up her traveler's window. Here we can sit and look at the passing motorists, sending prayers and special wishes to them for safe journey.
We are ready for our close up, now!
We tried a new mantel this year, her Dickens Carolers, some greenery, and a vintage 78 album of Lionel Barrymore's A Christmas Carol. When I was little, we came home from the Church Christmas program and usually listened to parts of this. I can remember my dad was a little slightly underwhelmed!Our centerpiece...
This beautiful Santa with the rustic cardinal cloak came today from a dear friend to my mother. The pretty poinsettia is a gift from a sweet niece.
I love this red barn tapestry runner on the dining room table. Luckily, it is mine!
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
A holiday Hoot!!!
You absolutely HAVE to go do this and see how funny! I have posted mine here. Never EVER tell my mother how cute she is as an elf! And that's Sal! Oh, how funny. It's super easy to put your own photos on. Send one to your kids. It's worth the trouble just to see how fast you can dance!!! Jingle Bell Boogie, oh yeah!!!!!
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Ring a ding.... duh!
My mother is quite the task mistress. She also is a bit heavy handed with the QVC phone number. Thus, after carefully scrutinizing her wares, she decides that 9... count them, NINE boxes had, HAD to be taken to the little town post office this morning... Never mind they could be taken back any time before JAN. 31. And that it is snowing cats and dogs (does it snow those as well as rain? I bet the snow ones are madder!--- okay, more angry, for all you English teachers.) Wait! I AM an English teacher. Oh, well... bet those frigid kitties and cold pups are MAD.... Anyway, I digress. I took the nine boxes through the snow to the post office and "wallered" them in and mailed them... Then I decided to go home for two hours.
My house was so pretty, and my cat was so cat-aloof and funny about welcoming me back. I just sat and hooted at my kitchen table for about fifteen minutes. Then I went in and threw up the footrest on the recliner, crawled under my Great, great Aunt Phoebe's quilt and let my house literally hold me in its arms and hug me into a warm winter's nap. Then when I got back here at noon... no cell phone...
What followed was pathetic. I searched my purse, my car, my back seat, then began to use the broom to swoosh the porch steps here, the driveway, the post office parking lot and sidewalk and steps... the driveway by my car at home, all the way up the sidewalk to the steps there... FINALLy.... it appeared in a huge glump of snow... It had turned itself off... Too cold and too out of battery to cope. As I grabbed the little sucker, I decided to do the same... Thus, when I came back, I crawled under another cover, this time a red fleece snoflake throw.... and I, being too cold and too out of battery to cope, turned off for the day.
Mother wrapped gifts, made peanut butter cookies with the crisscross thing, got some Christmas cards ready, and did a load of laundry. I did not. I ATE some cookies, looked up her addresses, and fixed the centerpiece of the dining room table... (another photo later). Oh, I also announced to her when the buzzer went off on her dryer so she could fold her clothes. In short, I was a total, red-fleeced slug-a bug. It didn't feel bad, actually.
Restful weekend? kinda... Love and cheer to all of you....
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
The one thing we're supposed to learn...
I am working on this room I'm in. I love, love the walk in closet here... after the weekend of pulling out stuff, it's finally ready for walking in!! I have been re-thinking the room arrangement. That's what I do. I am the original move the furniture type of woman. We'll see. I won't bother anyone before the New Year. I am patient on things like that, but I usually insidiously get my way. That's how we win the war in my family.... lay siege to an idea and just dig in...
I am needing to get myself bumped up for the holidays and get the gifts purchased by both Mom and me into their little wrappings. I have such cool paper and pretty wide glitzy ribbon. A couple of years I watched Beauty and the Beast while I wrapped gifts, so the music from that always makes me think of holiday wrapping... This year I may watch Waitress. I bought it for myself.... ho ho ho...
You know what gets me going into the next day sometimes? The idea of trying very hard to live a beautiful life. I love that concept. I rely on authors I have and do love and their passions for living, for God, for truth, for authenticity... I am a Beth Moore, Paula Deen, Sarah Ban Breathnach, John O'Donohue, Suzanne Sommers, Lessons I learned in the Dark, sometimes Martha Stewart, Giada De Laurentis, Southern Hospitality type of woman.... I know, there are northerners, Italians, Englishwomen, and Irish men in that grouping... Who knows the common denominator among all those... I just enjoy them all... But as I was saying, I am trying to live a more beautiful life, including taking better care of myself, wearing better clothing, eating and drinking out of prettier cups and dishware.
Time to take a deep breath, wish for the magic, and wade into the middle of the mere... Enjoy your fortnight until Christmas 2007 is only a fond memory....
Monday, December 10, 2007
Sunday, December 9, 2007
The Icing..... and not on the cake!
Mmmmmm... She was baking it while I took a nap on Saturday morning. Delish with a cup of Gevalia Coffee and Toffee creamer. Wow.
1 1/2 pound browned hamburger
1/2 to 1 chopped onion, (simmered in small amount olive oil until tender)
2 huge cans hot chili beans in sauce. I use this amount, but sometimes less or more, depending on what's available. It's about four of the fat cans or five of the small ones.
1 large can V-8
1 can cushed tomatoes or about 1 1/2 c. marinara sauce
1/3 c. sugar (optional)
1/4 c. ketchup to taste
2 T. beef boullion or beef soup base or a little extra salt
Simmer in crockpot or on top of stove until ready to serve. I don't use any extra chili powder, and some times I usespaghetti sauce instead of the tomatoes if I have it... about half a regular jar.
Then the shells recipe:
For the stuffing:
I large carton Ricotta cheese
2 egg yolks
1 large frozen package chopped frozen spinach (thaw and wring out all the juice)
1/2 c. parmesan cheese
1 T. salt
1 t. cracked black pepper
1/2 c. browned chicken pieces (you can use ham, turkey, bacon, proscuitto, or whatever.
Mix all together.
Boil 1 box large shells in salted water for about seven minutes. Drain.
Stuff each shell with about a heaping tablespoon of the stuffing and place in buttered pan. Pour 2-3 c. jarred marinara sauce over it and add a little extra water if it seems dry. (Mine is usually too dry, according to Mom... and me, too... actually). Top with a small package mozarella, some grated parmesan... and bake for about 30 minutes... Yum-o!
----- AND ..... my son flipped the switch, so my daddy's lights are beaming from his barn loft.... It looks so pretty with the new snow and frosty window panes.... I'm glad somebody in this family has a little gumption. I take pride that I gave all mine to him... ?????
He has been on the slick roads way too much this weekend. He drove from one end of the state on Friday to take a computer programming exam.. (which he aced!).... to the extreme Southern end to take a friend on an errand! I was on pins and needles until he finally made it home and called me last night. I now see why my gramma and mom always worried when I was out. I didn't fear a thing when I was younger. I drove like a trouper on all this kind of slush and yucky roads. now I'm a big baby. Coming home on Thursday left me in tears by the time I'd driven the 16 miles with zero visibility and no traction. I kind of miss my old spunk.... and my rear wheel drive car with the two hundred pound sacks of sand in the trunk... What would it take to get the old girl to come back and haunt this body again???? Can it even happen? Too late tonight to get that started. I'll save that thought for another time. Have a good week. Take care and stay safe!
Saturday, December 8, 2007
It's Christmas if it kills us, NO?
Okay. So it's Christmas. Re-activating Saturday at the Movies. This little guy truly has the "spirit" huh?
Friday, December 7, 2007
This festive fellow says Crows are very in for Christmas.
Monday, December 3, 2007
For the Birds. . .
This towel was a gift from Muffin Gems Candles. Isn't it adorable? Cathy knows I love crows, and she also has crows in her kitchen, so she sent this to me as a little pick me up. Now, isn't that something special when a business sends a small town customer a gift??? I was really appreciative of this... And wouldn't he be fun to make into a pillow? Right now, he's right here by the computer. When he arrived, he had been steeped in the most delicious vanilla coffee scent, and I can still enjoy that as I type. Monday is officially over. Yeah... Talk to you guys soon.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Pursuit of Happy
But, back to my original point. This could be that kind of Christmas... only worse. I'm only certain it won't be the stellar, rock around the clock kind I can remember when I was little, spoiled rotten, and dancing like a veritable Shirley Temple gone berserk for parents and grandparents who doted on my every wiggle and giggle... Oh, those were the fun days, all right. It won't be like that. It also won't be like my favorite Christmases spent with my husband and little red-haired son, eyes like two stars.... waiting for Santa (aka Paw-Paw) to fill the stockings around the big dining room table. You see, my dad is Mr. Christmas. Red shirt tradition. He refused to let Mom EVER leave any of their tubs and tubs of decorations in storage. Last year the two of them put up seven Christmas trees! He has a tree all strung and ready to hit the switch in the loft window of his barn. It would have been lit on Thanksgiving night if I would have had the heart to flip the switch.
Mom and Dad have a cutter sleigh, painted a lovely color although you couldn't pay me to tell you if it's red or green. It was their gift to each other for their first anniversary, and it has always been lovingly placed somewhere in prominence, parked on their lawn, tucked in a porch, perched on a ramp toward the roof, or lately waiting outside the barn for Santa, the blow-up doll, to board its magical bus to holiday-ville. That sleigh won't be out this year. People will tell me we should. I don't really think it matters whether we do or not. The truth is, my son isn't that "into" things like that. His dad never seemed to be either. Some men are, and some aren't. My dad was. His little song, which I believe to be original, went like this, "Merry, merry Christmas to you, dear. Wishing you a lot of love and cheer. Hope we'll be together again next year. Merry, merry Christmas to you, dear." It had a sweet, little, lilting, lyrical tune, and it was just so cool to hear him sing it to my mom. Simple. Gentle. Happy. Very smart, and very quiet... and very busy. That would describe my dad....
I think this Christmas could be very sweet, as well. I am trying to believe that anyway. It isn't as if Christmas is something you can just blow off and say, "Oh, I didn't have a Christmas this year." Nope. It can't be done that way. It is a magical time of year, steeped in love, holiness, and tradition. Sometimes a tradition has to bend; sometimes it has to break. Sometimes new ones begin to replace ones impossible to continue. And even though I'd love to be the little elf that just puddles along behind the sleigh and follows some heroic leader dressed in red, I'm very afraid that this holiday, this particular one in my house could depend upon me to get it off the ground. I know that sounds kind of snooty. And I don't pretend to think that Jesus Christ needs ME to have a happy birthday! But you know what I mean. Jesus wants me to be happy and filled with peace and joy and love. Those things have nothing to do with holly and cedar, reindeer and tinsel. We are told that in song, movie, and verse for all our lives. But somewhere down the line, I think we all come to a point in time when there is a test of those values.
I think the single most important thing I can do to help our family is to try with all my might to tap into the simple, quiet, busy, gentle cheer of the holiday. Do something small and enjoy a moment of tea and homemade cookies, deliver a package to a friend... help my mom.... listen by myself on a frosty dawn morning to my Celtic Christmas album.... I am all too aware of the fragility of this existence, the precarious thresholds we perch upon and call our lives. Thank you, Lord, for each and every gift of each perfect day... for if we don't call them perfect today, we may very well look back on that very "imperfect" world of a few months ago and ache for it... calling it perfection indeed....
As December 1st approaches, I think that might be my resolution: For each day of the month, find at least one and not too many more moments to capture the essence of cheer. I found this quote in a cookbook I love called "The Passionate Palate," by Desire Witowski (not sure about spelling). "Always, always be good to yourself. Never, never beat yourself up for not doing enough, not being enough. It takes away from your life force." Oh, how important to keep that thought in mind during this stressful and busy time...
Where is this little truck in the picture going? It's for sale on Ebay here. "Happy may your Christmas Be..." Is that a blessing or a question? Or a golden possibility posed to each and every one of us? We will know the answer in about four weeks, won't we? Perhaps, like the sons of elders in ages past, I must don the family armour and proceed into the fray... This year the family armour seems to be a red shirt, and the weapon of choice is maybe a sugar cookie, a sprig of holly, and if it can be done, a flip of a switch to honor the heart and soul of a beautiful man who would have done it for me if he could.
Monday, November 26, 2007
After the "ball" is over. . .
I actually forgot to take a picture of the little buffet, but here is the table AFTER the whole thing, including dishwashing duty. Did I tell you my mom doesn't have a dishwasher? Yay.
There's really no good way to get a shot of vegetable beef soup..... It always tastes better than it looks on film, doesn't it? I added frozen veggies to this one, and they kinda bobbed to the top like little buoys.... haha.... Oh, well.
Now, the final sprint on my week's work is to get myself over to my shop and get ready for our Christmas Festival on Saturday.... oh, my.... Will this old girl EVER get her nap?
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Flurries of Cleaning and Cooking... done while you wait!
But for today I made a little lunch for the family, and it was kind of a new recipe! These dessert cookies are white chocolate macadamia nut, and sooo easy... In fact, the cheerleaders were selling tubs of the dough! That's how easy... Scoop and bake. You do have to watch or you'll burn them, but other than that.... yeah, it's that good.
Mom re-invented the sweet potatoes, but it looks yummy but it is still those yucky old sweet potatoes underneath... I think this on a graham cracker crust with Hershey bars would be spectacular.... Personally the only was I like sweet potatoes really is to bake them with butter and cinnamon.... yum.
This is the new dish: King Ranch Chicken (I substituted turkey) Casserole. I thought it was really good, and so did my son. My mom even gave her tentative approval, and she's not into new dishes too much... Here's the recipe:
KING RANCH CASSEROLE
1 sm. onion, chopped
6 chicken breasts
1 can cream of mushroom
1 can cream of chicken
1 can Rotel tomatoes with diced chiles
1 c. chicken broth
1 lg. bag corn chips, I used Doritos (crushed in bag)
2 pkg. Monterey Jack & Colby cheese
Boil chicken until done, de-bone and cut into small chunks. I chunked up about three cups turkey.
Be sure to save 1 cup broth when chicken has finished cooking. Mix cream of chicken, cream of mushroom, Rotel tomatoes and chicken broth; heat on stove. Layer 1/2 of chicken, 1/2 broth mix, 1/2 of chips, 1/2 of onion, 1/2 cheese and repeat above. Bake 35-40 minutes at 350 degrees in 9 1/2 x 13 inch greased pan.
I mixed up some Ranch Dressing, mayonaisse, paprika and dill for a little sauce to ooze over the top.Just a bit of breadstick, some sweet tea, and a little love.... That's all we needed... (Did I say salad? uh... we'll have to get our vegetable a bit later, I guess.... unless you count the corn! haaha...
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Talkin' Turkey Around Here. . .
We did a Paula Deen Ooey Gooey Pumpkin Cake instead of the pies this year. It's incredible, easy.... and already for tomorrow. Our tablescape...
Well, we are having our Family Thanksgiving tomorrow (or rather later today, since it is already Friday... My son and his friend both had the flu on Tuesday and Wednesday, and I didn't much want to cook a huge meal if they didn't feel up to eating it, so we just postponed. Today I made a huge crockpot of chili,and we had lunch and watched the parade. He came over by hiimself and had abite with us and then went to other family's homes, but Mom and I just got ready for tomorrow. It was a quiet Thanksgiving, that way... and Mr. Turkey is headed for the oven in about four hours...
I can't believe how odd this feels to get ready for a holiday in basically another woman's kitchen... especially my dear wee mother. She follows me all around and throws away stuff, cleans and washes dishes, and basically is a clean FREAK all the time... Me, I'm kinda messy and definitely don't pitch anything until the job is finished. She is an attention to detail, do it early girl, and I'm a foo foo hard at the last minute, wait a bit and let it settle in the brain kind of gal... Wooo! I love her dearly, but this is harder than it looks.... Who said holidays are homemade? I laughed so hard I wanted to flip over that Jenny-O ad with the huge turkey. Have you guys seen it? I wish we had a Jenny-O I think we have a Tommy F.. F stands for FROZEN. It has been in the refrigerator since MONDAY, and it is still hard as a rock... Maybe I bought a turkey shaped granite piece???? Dunno.... And I dread the battle with the little metal deal on the legs, dragging the frozen bags of giblets out.... yucko.... I love cooking Thanksgiving dinner, though... all that aside, it is wonderful... Talk to you guys later... Hope you get all you are looking for if you go out this morning and shop.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Gobble gobble... I also associate Thanksgiving with going to one of my very favorite aunt's houses in Quincy, Illinois, nearly every year. She didn't like turkey, so she made ham. It was the most delicious candied ham I ever hope to put in my mouth, but I still usually lied and told the school classes and teachers I'd had turkey... Being original and unique was such a terrible thing for a grade school girl.... At times when my days are going a bit rotten, I AM still that girl... Isn't it funny to feel gangly or "wrong" or ugly or something unusual in a wash of that old yuckiness right in the middle of walking around clad in these adult bodies? I don't think my students, or my son for that matter, ever think older people might have those kinds of thoughts.. (I'm not the only one, am I? I would HATE to be that different....)
This is me this year... hibernating like an old gobbler inside the cocoon of my mother's house. I went to a cousin's home for a delicious Thanksgiving dinner today, and I can't describe how intensely being together, even traveling through the gray clouds in my turkey sweater... all this process made me appreciate that bond... I also cherish and appreciate my beautiful friends. This year my friend world again multiplied in an amazing way. I have found so many friends through blogging, and I have such dear ones here with me. My dear friend is traveling to Michigan this week and will be gone for the whole week. She usually graces my table at Thanksgiving, and I'll miss her.... and her little dog, too... I pray for safe travels for all of those who are journeying over the holidays.
I am thankful for books, for movies, for blogging.... for school, for cats and little snippets of colorful magazines. I consider it luck to have fall colors, fat orange pumpkins, and sweet cider candles in my mornings and here late at night.... My world is so blatantly different this year with the loss of my dad, with the move to my mother's, with full time teaching, and with so many changes; therefore, my greatest thanks turns to the Rock of my world, the sweet love of a God who loves me unconditionally, whether I am setting a table in my beautiful navy blue dining room with my precious autumn stoneware or not... I am trying to learn to be happy.... happy with myself.... happy from the heart, from the soul, not based on anything external... just an internal smile and a light in my core spirit and being. Things and places are simply that. Things... replaceable or not, but things... places, livable or not, but just places.... Not places in the heart, not things that truly matter.