Monday, December 30, 2013

Time To Take A Breath

My tree is not down yet but, the holiday activities are beginning to wind down. We have another birthday this week and if the weather is nice, another walk through the Garden of Lights with my son and his family, then it's back to day to day routine.

                   Some of the things that kept us busy this month were grandson's birthday

                                                        Ballet recital for Little Miss

An impromptu road trip to see my family, no one except my sister knew we were coming. I didn't even know we were going until the week before. We called all the sibs after we got in town and surprised my parents the next day, it was the first time in more years than I can remember that all the siblings have been together

While visiting my sister we went to the "Train Garden". Lots of electric trains and detailed miniatures filled the room. This is done yearly by a volunteer fire department. I talked to one the the guys at the fire house and he said it takes them about two months to set up the display.

We attended Handel's Messiah sing a long again this year. I still can't read music, and am constantly trying to find my place but, this event has become one of our favorite things to do. When we are singing "Glory to God" I think of heaven and how it's going to sound when all the saints are standing before the throne praising him. It's going to be an amazing thing. 

That's been our Christmas, lots of family time, memories made, looking forward to 2014.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Monday Memories

I was remembering a December five years ago. My husband and I flew to Rochester to attend a recital that youngest son was having. We were excited to have a few days away and to see our son. The idea of possibly having snow added to the excitement, because snow is such a rare thing here.

We flew into Rochester without delay, settled into our Bed and Breakfast and before we had the last suitcase unpacked it started to snow. We were like little kids, we couldn't wait to go out and walk in it. The Innkeeper thought we were a little odd, but she gave us some directions to various eateries and places of interest and wished us well.

It snowed off and on for the three days we were there. We would go out and walk to lunch, go back to the Inn and get some tea or coffee and get warm, then we would repeat the entire process for dinner. We walked to wherever we had to go, including the recital. Although it was really, really cold, we had a lot of fun that trip. 

The novelty of it all wore off when we tried to go home, seems the snow had shut the airport down. Our Inn Keeper was not surprised when we arrived back on her doorstep, she had warned us that we might not be flying out that day and said that our room would be waiting for us. She wasn't wrong,we were back shortly after we had left. Another day to play in the snow.

We had never seen so much snow!

Husband and I with youngest son, after the recital

Not sure we will ever get back to Rochester again, but it was nice remembering that trip today. Those of you who REALLY get snow, don't laugh too much at this southern tenderfoot.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Sweet Treats

Last year my husband and I wanted to give our children something for Christmas that they could enjoy all year round. We came up with the idea of preparing them something to eat on a monthly basis.  We created a book that featured three entrees to chose from for each month. They call us, let us know their choice and we deliver it. The meal is complete with sides and dessert, perfect for a busy family.

We wanted to do something similar for the out of town son and decided on baked goods. He also had a book but his featured three baked goods that he could chose from each month. This month he chose oatmeal cookies.

Since the baked goods have to be shipped I gave him choices that would travel well. He was able to choose from various types of cookies, brownies, and cakes. Breads and muffins also worked well. Although he had three items to choose from each month, he could  also choose anything from a previous month. That way if you had a favorite you could get it again and again. I made White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cake and Chocolate Cappuccino Cake several times. 

When I knew he was coming home for a visit I would send him home with his goodie in order to save on shipping. I purchased several Sterilite Cake containers from Target and found the baked goods shipped well and stayed fresh in those. Son would bring the empties home whenever he visited to be reused. It 's a gift that gives all year long and one that is enjoyed.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Million Bulb Walk

We have a couple of light displays in our community during the Christmas season. One is at the beach along the boardwalk (you drive on the boardwalk to view) and the other is at Botanical Gardens, with a display called Garden of Lights. It covers abut a mile section that is decorated in lights depicting the four seasons.

This year we decided to kick off the Christmas season with a walk through the Gardens. The "official" opening for car traffic was Thanksgiving, but  four days prior to the opening that you could walk the path, it was called  the Million Bulb Walk.

The advantage of walking was the ability to linger without worrying about holding up traffic behind us. I could stay at one spot for as long as I wanted trying to get that perfect shot. The disadvantage, it was COLD, so not a lot of lingering was  done, especially on our way back to the car. The cold added to the festive atmosphere, and if I was to chose which I enjoyed more, the tour on foot would win hands down. I enjoyed getting close to the lights and watching children and families reactions as they walked through the displays

Here is a small sampling of some of the lights we saw that night. Hope you enjoy. Does your town/city  do anything like this?

This is a depiction of aircraft carrier  Harry Truman

Loved this section, there was so much going on, an underwater world


Saturday, December 7, 2013

Psalm 19:1

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


Looking for a way to prepare your heart during the Christmas season? I was looking for for an Advent devotional and stumbled across this little gem, Solid Joys This is a daily devotional from the Ministries of  John Piper. The devotional can be viewed via computer, but there is also a free App that can be downloaded to your IPhone and IPad. How cool is that, and even I was able to figure out how to download it without help.

The readings and scripture for December have been focused on the Advent Season, which is what I was looking for. There are some things about this season that I don't like but I am not ready to throw out the baby with the bath water yet. (Christmas that is)

Christmas continues to change for us. We continue to simplify each year, keeping the traditions we enjoy like making cookies and looking at lights with less focus on the gifts. Last year we made many of the gifts we gave.  Want to keep your focus on Christ this season? This devotional is a great way to be reminded of the reason we, as Christians, celebrate the season...give it a look, won't you?

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Hits and Misses

I don't know about you, but we have just finished eating the Thanksgiving leftovers at our house.

We changed some of the traditional dishes we've made for Thanksgiving due to dietary changes I've had to make in the last six months. Last spring, at the suggestion of my physician, I had some testing done for allergies and was found to be sensitive to dairy, eggs, almonds and peanuts. I now need to avoid these foods and things that contain these foods. I didn't think it would be much of a problem because I  didn't drink milk and didn't think I used much milk in cooking, (I was wrong)  I am also sensitive to casein, which is the milk protein used in a lot of foods I thought were non dairy....good bye coffee creamer, the cheese had to go as well. Apparently I used more dairy products then I realized. I have basically had to learn a new way to eat and cook...my challenge... how in the world do you do Thanksgiving with these restrictions?

Now before you feel sorry for my family, we kept the traditional green bean casserole and the potatoes with lots of milk and butter, I didn't want others to feel deprived because of my restrictions. What we did was add some new side dishes and modified some of our old favorites. Some of the dishes were hits others were misses. (or still needed tweaking)

Some Hits
  • Braised Kale with apples and onions. I could eat this all day long and will include the recipe on a future post
  • Brussels Sprouts with bacon, I never thought I liked Brussels Sprouts but these were wonderful, everything is better with bacon right?
  • Gravy without using milk or butter. Husband made a stock using the neck and giblets,  a large carrot, half onion and a stalk of celery. (left the vegetables in big pieces) After it simmered for several hours, husband pulled out the large pieces of meat and vegetables and "motor boated" the bits and turned it into a wonderful "creamy" gravy
  • Mashed potato using coconut milk and "buttery" spread (yes we made two separate batches of potatoes, we had a guest who was also "dairy free")

  • Pumpkin pie, the recipe I found used coconut milk and an egg replacement product. The taste was okay but the texture wasn't right. It never fully set up and is one of those recipes I will have to "tweak" a little bit, looks a little sad

  • Oyster Dressing, we have made this for years but tried to "clean it up" a bit by reducing the butter and replacing with broth. My oldest son was the only one who cared for it. Could be because the other dressing to chose from was so much better ....youngest son made a Sausage, Spinach Dressing with Fennel that was preferred by most everyone.
I guess you are wondering, if I've noticed any difference since making all these dietary changes. That's a hard thing for me to say, because it has been quite the roller coaster ride these last several months concerning health issues. Lots of medication changes, dietary changes etc, so it's hard to know what is responsible for my improvement, but since there has been improvement, I'm not going to change a thing.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

We have spent the last couple of days getting ready for tomorrow. I love everything about Thanksgiving, the food that we cook, the smells that fill the house and most importantly, sharing it all with family and friends. I even enjoy all the preparations.

Continuing with my "Thankful Thursday" this month, I am thankful

  • For son and DIL that are willing to go to two Thanksgiving dinners tomorrow, thankful that DIL family lives in the area
  • For young sons' ability to come down for a couple of days and spend Thanksgiving with us
  • For the many hands that have been willing to cook
  • For the Lord's provision "all I have needed his hands hath provided"
  • For a sleepover with all the grandchildren planned for Thanksgiving night...it's been awhile since all four have been over together
  • A husband that's willing to try just about anything I cook
  • That all is well with my husband and for son and DIL who fussed at us because we didn't call right away... point was taken
  • A warm bed to sleep in tonight
  • That all my siblings and parents have someone to spend Thanksgiving with tomorrow, they are all out of state, so my thoughts will be with them tomorrow
         Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his loving kindness is everlasting
                                                                       Psalm 106:1

                                                                Happy Thanksgiving

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Thankful Thursday

Considering once again all of my many blessings and what I have to be thankful for

  • The beauty of this fall, it seems the colors have been more vibrant and longer lasting than in years past, or perhaps I am just more aware. Such a display of the handiwork of God
  • Weather so warm Sunday that we were able to take a walk in the park after church
  • More "routine days" I know ALL my days were ordained by Him, today I am thankful for the "routine ones"
 "Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before each one came to be " Psalm 139:16

  • That God is sovereign in all the details of my life, nothing takes him by surprise
  • For the ladies in my small group, thankful for lives that have been knit together.
  • For my husband who works so hard
  • For my sister and for the ability to share the experience of being grandparents together (since we live in different states, I am thankful for the technology that helps make that a reality)
  • For parents who are still able to live independently
  • For a brother that lives close to parents and is able to check in on them 

"A grateful heart is one that finds the countless blessings of God in the seemingly mundane everyday life"  Anonymous

Lord help me to be more aware of my many blessings and to be thankful for all you have provided.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Faith And Gratitude


                                    Gracious Father, grant me a lowly spirit of gratitude.

                                          Make me feel the preciousness of past grace.

                                               Give me an honest memory of mercy.

                                           Forgive me for the pride of unremembered

                                                   gifts and callous thanklessness

                                                Waken faith in my wavering soul

                                                  and give me strong confidence

                                                        in your solid promises.

                                                    Where past and future meet

                                                     make me humble and bold.

                                                              In Jesus' name

                                                             and for his sake,


Excerpt from "Life As A Vapor" by John Piper. This prayer was the conclusion of Chapter 8, "Endings Are For Gratitude, Beginnings Are For Faith" It is my prayer today.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Cran-Apple Delight

Remember all those apples we picked a few weeks ago? We have steadily been eating them, given some away, made an apple pie and last week made this wonderful cranberry apple dessert. It's a perfect dish for Thanksgiving and a little lighter than apple pie and super easy too.

Cran-Apple Delight

3-4 tart apples
2 cups raw cranberries
3/4-1 cup sugar
3-4 Tbsp. water

3/4 cup uncooked oatmeal
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/4 pound butter, melted (the next time I make this I will decrease the amount of butter and make it more like a crumble)

  • Preheat oven to 350 degree
  • Peel, core and slice apples. Rinse and pick over cranberries. Mix fruit with sugar and water and place in a 2 quart casserole. Set aside
  • Mix dry ingredients. Add melted butter
  • Spread topping over fruit
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes
             Want to make it a little more special, add some ice cream or whipped topping.

Recipe from Tidewater On The Half Shell

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Thankful Thursday

Taking time once again to list some of the things I have to be thankful for this week

  • For His mercies which are new every morning. 
"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness" Lamentation 3:22-23

  • For the opportunity to have a weekend away with husband
  • For the hairdresser that cuts Sweet Lady's hair, she is kind, compassionate and treats her as if there were no disability. She is a gem and a blessing to us.
  • For never having to put gas in my car, thankful for my sweet husband who takes care of that task
  • For heat and a home that keeps us from the cold
  • For continued "routine" days
  • For some terrific thrift store finds, thankful for the many thrift stores we have in our area
  • For hot fragrant tea on a cold morning. Winter arrived in our neck of the woods yesterday, complete with a dusting of snow in some areas. Thankful we did not have this cold weather last weekend
  • I am thankful for today, for new opportunities to reflect His light, and yes, for mercies that are new each morning

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Veterans Day Weekend

My husband and I enjoy learning about American history. We enjoy going to places like Mount Vernon, Fredericksburg, and Washington DC. We enjoy walking through these places, trying to imagine what life was like. There is so much to learn in history.

One of our favorite places to visit is Williamsburg. When you consider Williamsburg, there is much more to it than the Colonial section. Each time we visit there seems to be more businesses going up, and more homes being built. The College of William and Mary is there, as well as outlet shopping...do I sound like a tourism add yet?

On Veteran's Day weekend, Colonial Williamsburg offers free admission to active duty and retired military. The program is called "Honoring Service to America", we look forward to that deal every year. You can still tour Williamsburg without a ticket but you can't go into any of the homes or trades. Walking around the colonial section is nice, but you learn so much more when you are able to go into the trades or have a guided tour through the homes. This year we went into the weavers, the blacksmith, the cabinet maker, the apothecary and toured the Governor's Palace.

The tradesman working at these shops, know the history of their trade. Research is part of the job as well as becoming proficient at the trade The materials they make are used on site. Weavers make cloth that is used for costumes, brick makers and blacksmith's make materials for buildings constructed on site.  The tradesman also take on apprentices to learn the trades, just as they did years ago. It was encouraging to see young people interested in learning skills that might otherwise be lost.

Visiting these places makes you very aware how blessed you are. Back in colonial times heat was provided by a fire, there was no air conditioning. When it got dark, you had light from the hearth, candles or oil lamps, no flick of the switch. You made use of your time, because you only had so much daylight, you prepared for winter. those last two items are something I need to be better at ( better use of my time and "preparing for winter")

The day ended with a parade and ceremony to honor those that had served our country. Again, I am thankful to the men and women that have served and sacrificed so much.

My veteran

Friday, November 8, 2013

More Fall Color

Our weather has turned cooler and with the time change it really is beginning to feel like fall. I have enjoyed the changing colors this year, and couldn't resist sharing more from my drives around town this week. The above photo was taken at a local park. I had stopped to pick up a few things from the Farmers Market that is set up there, sadly their season will be ending soon.

Same tree, different angle, the fenced in area behind the tree is for horseshoes

Beautiful reds and oranges along the parkway

It was a rainy day when this photo was taken, but was still pretty 

This tree almost seemed to glow in the sunlight.

This is what fall looks like around our neck of the woods, it's beautiful isn't it? Hope you have enjoyed.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Thankful Thursday

Today I am thankful for
  • The rain outside my window and the forecast for cooler, drier weather this weekend
  • Running into a friend I had not talked to in three years. We had lunch together, caught up on family and encouraged each other, by sharing how the Lord has been working in our lives. More get together's planned.
  • My sons and the men they have become
  • The freedom to vote
  • The freedom to worship
  • Phone calls and text messages from family "just because"
  • Weekly "lunch dates" with my husband, we generally meet on Thursdays or Fridays for something simple, like Subway.
  • "Sweet Lady" living close to us, she continues to do well in Assisted Living
  • The availability of fresh local produce, it's close to the end of season, but I have been able to get tomatoes, squash, onions, apples, and all kinds of greens and root vegetables inexpensively. Many of these vegetables I have never cooked before, so cooking has been kind of an adventure.
We all have things in our lives to be thankful for, won't you take the time to consider your many blessings and give thanks to the Lord for His provision.
Lord you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. Psalm 16:5-6

Monday, November 4, 2013

Fall Beauty

I am not sure if fall color has hit it's peak yet, but it is beautiful around the area right now. Husband and I had some errands to run this past Saturday and I brought my camera along to get some pictures. I have a very patient husband who doesn't seem to mind waiting in the parking lot of Lowe's while his wife runs to get photos of the maple trees in bloom, or slowing down the car just long enough for me to snap the perfect shot of the crepe myrtle along the road.

Beauty that points to a Creator, yes?

When I consider your heavens, the works of your fingers, the moon, the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?
  Psalm 8:3-4