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.