Wednesday, December 31, 2008

"Hope"...A Needed Ingredient For The Year Ahead

"Hopeful eyes look upward, penetrating the thick blanket of clouds to the clear blue skies beyond."
I picked up a small book a few months ago, with the title of "The Silver Book of Hope" by Publications International, Ltd. I have read through it many times, and always find myself encouraged by the words in it. I thought I would share some of the messages with you, as we say good-bye to 2008 and are about to enter a brand new year. A year that brings with it uncertainty, apprehension, and many unknowns. Maybe these words will help to encourage you and give you the needed hope to face each new day.

"There be no potion so powerful, no pill so amazing, no promised reward so alluring as the certain belief that something good can happen tomorrow."

"Today I long to make a pass along peace and joy and somehow resurrect hope in weary hearts."

"Hope is about believing with a humble heart that tomorrow can be different. It's about knowing that light will come to chase away darkness." "Hopeful eyes perceive the light where other eyes see only night."

"When the darkness casts shadows upon us and the answers are nowhere in sight, hope lifts us up on a wing and a prayer and carries us back to the light." "We have this hope, a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters the inner shrine behind the curtain." Hebrews 6:19.

"Hope is not immune to reality but transcendent of it. Hope lifts us up to higher ground, where we can see the bigger picture, the wider vista, the far horizon." "Hope knows that in the midst of feeling all alone, God is still with me."

"Like the evergreen, hope never dies, but stands tall and mighty against the coldest winter winds until the summer sun returns to warm its outstretched branches." "Hope gives me strength to stay when fear insists, "You must run away."

"Hope knows on the other side of pain is joy, on the other side of injustice is peace." "Hope, like the glimmering taper's light, Adorns and cheers our way; And still, as darker grows the night, emits a brighter ray." ---Oliver Goldsmith " Hope whispers to the weary heart, "Hold on."
"O Hope! dazzling , radiant Hope!--What a change thou bringest to the hopeless; brightening the darkened paths, and cheering the lonely way."---Aimee Semple McPherson

Wishing you hope, peace and joy as you enter a new year of life. ...thanks to my gifted photographer, uncle and friend, for these sharing these pictures with me.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Sharing Moments From My Neice's Wedding

I was there when she was born, I babysat for her many times, I watched her grow up into a beautiful young lady. On Saturday evening I was privileged to attend her wedding. The handsome groom has also become our good friend, and we were all thrilled to be part of such a special occasion.

My daughter and her dear friend and cousin, the bride. Almost the same age, they were inseparable growing up.
She reminded us of a "Precious Moments" doll when she was little, now she just looks like a princess.
Her sister, her husband and their brand new twin daughters. The twins were in the wedding, arriving to the front of the church in an elegantly decorated stroller for twins. They performed perfectly, amazing everyone.
The black and white bags of potato chips were the right touch for this wedding, and made for good snacking throughout the evening.

Their first dance as husband and wife.

The romantically lit head table.

Cutting the exquisitely done wedding cake.

Our oldest daughter and her husband.

Our middle daughter and her husband and our nephew who wanted to be part of the picture.

For me, the wedding was the best occasion, because it was a time that I could spend with all of my family. Being with my three daughters is top on my list of favorite things to do. It is a rare happening for me, so I treasure the moments when it happens. Thank you for the privilege of sharing this memorable event with all of you. To the bride and wishes!!

Monday, December 29, 2008

More to come...

A beautiful, meaningful, and fun wedding on Saturday evening, my family celebrating Christmas together on Sunday, family leaves on Tuesday, and then life returns to a somewhat normal routine. I will be returning to you, my blogging friends shortly.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Busy Family Days

My daughter and son-in-law arrived today. The last time they were here was in May. How good to have them home, even in her scrubs. She worked all night last night and did not even have an opportunity to change clothes. Our home is filled with people and I love it! I find myself filling many different roles...wife, mother, "mawmaw", chef, consultant, game player, babysitter and more. We will celebrate our Christmas together on Sunday, the 28th, after a family wedding on the 27th.

My grandson had all of us playing air-hockey. Yes, it was on my kitchen counter.

Here I am, a multi-tasking grandma. He did beat me...but not by much. I gave it my best!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

"Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away." --author unknown
photo taken by my daughter on her visit to the ranch her uncle manages in the Rockies. The picture was taken from the porch of the guesthouse, looking toward the Continental Divide, and it truly was one of those moments that took her breath away.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

My "Christmas Eve" Sentiments...

Sitting on shelves in my kitchen are the "Department 56" lit houses that I have received over the years, for Christmas gifts. I treasure my collection. Each one represents aspects of my life. They sit on the shelves throughout the year, and serve as a reminder, of the givers of the gifts. Since baking is something that I enjoy, the "Lafayette's Bakery" house is one of my favorites. During the last few months though, my kitchen has actually seemed more like a bakery than before. All of you have been so kind to give me the privilege of sharing pictures of some of the baked goods that have come home with my pastry chef- in- the- making daughter. You have viewed the many delicasies even though you do not have the opportunity to taste them. The following picture is from this week. The individual meringes looked so festive with the strawberries and the kiwi, and once again, they tasted as good as they looked.

These will be served at tonight's dinner, along with her raspberry cheesecake and the yule log.
Time seems to past so quickly. December 24th has arrived, and my wish for each of you is, "May you have the greatest two gifts of all on these holidays: someone to love and someone who loves you".-John Sinor

"There has only been one Christmas-the rest are anniversaries."-W.J. Cameron "Thanks be to God for his unspeakable Gift- indescribable, inestimable, incomparable, inexpressibly precious beyond words." -Lois Lebar. Merry Christmas dear friends!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Friendly Neighborhood Santa Comes Early

My daughter and her family live in one of those neighborhoods that many people dream of living. It is one where neighbors care deeply for one another, and spend time visiting with each other, helping out each other, with most of them having lived there a long time. This Santa was the visiting son of one of the neighbors. They invited my daughter and her family to join them for the evening. She sent me these pictures and I just had to share them with all of you. I wish I could know what was going through my grandson's 2 year old mind, in this picture.

Even my littlest granddaughter and her big brother seem to be having a good time. Imagine, your own personal Santa...not having to share him with the rest of the world...and having his undivided attention.

My daughter, who cried whenever she saw Santa as a child. One of the reasons she may be smiling is because she gets an opportunity to sit still for two minutes. For her, that is a rare privilege, with three children under three years of age.
A family picture with special!

A few weeks ago, at the Mall, he ran and cried when he saw Santa...what happened? I suppose he realized that this guy was a friend first and a Santa second, by the fact that he was tying his shoe.
Just knowing that Christmas is only a few days away, brought happy smiles to these two precious little girls.The joy and laughter of children...what a blessing in this world. And, the love and care of neighbors...another added blessing in this Christmas season. My prayer today is that each of us can reach out to others with kindness and concern. Life is difficult...hurts are many...we need each other.

Monday, December 22, 2008

A Christmas Dinner By Candlelight

Last evening, the same group of friends that met and had dinner at the Victorian Inn, met and had dinner a year later, at my youngest sister and brother-in-law's home. The round table that comfortably seats 12, was designed and built by my brother-in-law. Seating at a round table, is certainly condusive to dinner conversation. Warm hospitality, soft candlelight, and soothing Christmas music set the tone for the evening. I have been to many casual, sit-to-the-kitchen table dinners in this home, but last evening's dinner, was extra special. I thought I would share a few of the pictures that I took of her Christmas decorations. It is a Florida style home, and the holiday touches depict that decor.

The words "Merry Christmas" were beautifully placed on the wall, and will be easily removed with a hair dryer, after Christmas. What a nice touch that framed the mantel perfectly.

What a cozy arrangement to have on the window sill at one's kitchen sink. Washing dishes takes on a whole new perpective.

My sister the hostess, and her daughter. Having a right hand person is a must, when serving a dinner for 12 people. What a great help she was!

Actually, the three of their children were on hand during the evening, helping in many different capacities. Thanks to each of you for your help.

A table, also built by my brother-in-law, graced the foyer hallway with a exquisite candlelight display. Every candle on the table was a gift from friends over the years. Yes, it was a truly memorable evening, with the warm hospitality of this couple blessing all of us. It reminds me of something I read recently, from a book entitled "Gifts from the Hearth", by Elizabeth R. Skoglund. In it she shares that hospitality is a gift. " It is a gift that says to the person to whom it is given, "I care about you." Hospitality can take on so many different forms, and is so essential to living. She goes on to say, " Hospitality can be a hamburger given to a bag lady on a bus bench; an elaborated wedding dinner; a gift of firewood late at night from an innkeeper to someone just checking into a motel; a cool, wet towel given to someone at the scene of a car accident; a midnight snack shared with someone who needs to talk; all of these are acts of hospitality. They are gifts of love, freely given by one person to another. They are gifts from the heart. Each of these echoes the sentiment of the small child who said, "That means she loves us." Hospitality is the gift of oneself that says, "You are important; you are loved."

What a needed gift in today's world, and even more so during this special season of Christmas. Thank you to this family, for opening up your hearts and home, to all of us.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas In An Old Victorian Inn

Last Christmas, on a blustery, cold, snowy night, a group of friends met for dinner at this old Victorian Inn. Every time I look back over the pictures, I remember the beauty, elegance, aromas, and good food of that very special evening. After dinner we were given a few of the many historical facts of the Inn's history.

Downstairs and upstairs...every area of the Inn was decorated for Christmas.

Every fireplace was beautifully decorated, and provided needed warmth for the bitter, cold night.

The softly lit dining room table took my breath away. The red and white, the many candles and the tiny white lights created ambience that made one want to never leave.

Thank you for allowing me to share one of my treasured Christmas memories with you.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese---A Winter Favorite

Grilled cheese sandwiches and a bowl of tomato soup...a weekly staple, for me and my siblings for all of our childhood years. Our mother had a way of taking something so very ordinary, and making it taste so special. Now, many years later, I have continued the tradition. I have created my own recipe for the soup and the sandwiches...with my family's requests in mind. I have discovered over the years, that people have their own opinions as to how the tomato soup should taste. Some like it sweet, some like it hot(as in spicy hot), some like it thicker and some eat any recipe served to them.

My recipe, like most of mine, is quick, simple and can be doubled or tripled without any problem. Into my pot on the stove, I melt 2 TB of butter. I add 3 cans of tomato soup, 1 can of evaporated milk, 1 can of diced tomatoes, 2 TB of brown sugar, 1 tea. of garlic powder, 1/4 tea. salt and a shake of pepper. I stir together the ingredients and let simmer on the stove top for 20 minutes. To serve, I fill a bowl, add a dollop of lt. sour cream, and sprinkle with some chopped fresh parsley(or parsley flakes). Sometimes, I add crushed "Durkee" french onions to the top of the soup, along with the sour cream.

One of my ways of making grilled cheese sandwiches, is to use French Baguette bread. I like the small size of the sandwiches this makes. I slice the bread, lightly butter the outside of each slice, add a light coating of mayo to the inside(lt.mayo), add a small piece of bacon(which I brown in a pan and keep on hand in my refrigerator), and some a slice of muenster cheese folded into a small piece(or shredded cheese, if I do not have any sliced on hand). I sprinkle the top of the sandwich very lightly with "Cavender's Greek seasoning. I brown these sandwiches in my frying pan, on the stove top. I spray the bottom of my black iron pan and set it on top of the sandwiches while they are grilling. Actually, I use whatever bread that I have on hand, at the time. Another one of my favorite ways to make these sandwiches, is to bake ahead of time, the "Pillsbury Grande " buttermilk rolls, and follow the same recipe. This is a meal to serve anyone, at anytime, without having to slave in the kitchen.


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