Saturday, December 31, 2011

I'm Sorry

I have an amazing husband who helps me put up 3 Christmas trees, hang garlands and lights inside and out and never complains. I know I'm lucky because I hear from friends how their husbands grouse or put off the chores related to decorating. Sometimes around the holidays, tempers flare and harsh words are spoken. It's inevitable since we are stressed and pulled in a million directions with no time for ourselves. Before the holidays are gone for another year, I want to share the following email... a genuine attempt to make amends for cross words between husband and wife!

Subject: Christmas Lights...!!! -- an apology from husband

Hi Sweetheart, I am sorry about getting into an argument about putting up the Christmas lights. I guess that sometimes I feel like you are pushing me too hard when you want something. I realize that I was wrong and I am apologizing for being such a hard-headed guy. All I want is for you to be happy and be able to enjoy the holiday season. Nothing brightens the Christmas spirit like Christmas lights! I took the time to hang the lights for you today and now I will be off to the golf course. Again, I am very sorry for the way I acted yesterday. I'll be home later. Love you!




Hope the New Year holds much health and happiness for everyone, and a lot of smiles thrown in too!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Black-eyed Luck


Have you ever wondered how black-eyed peas got tagged "good luck?" It all goes back to the Southern saying, “Eat poor on New Year’s and eat fat the rest of the year.” It could have just as easily been pinto beans or a bowl of grits, but somehow black-eyed peas got the spotlight and forced us pea hating Americans to force feed ourselves on New Year's Day! We don't want to take a chance on a year of bad luck so we eat them cooked with ham, a pot of greens (they represent the green of money), a pan of cornbread and hopefully it will bring good luck and prosperity for the year! I grew up eating this meal, but after I married the tradition faded and we usually had gumbo or a pot of chili to go along with the games on TV.

There's actually several ways to "eat lucky." In Asian countries, the long noodle promises a long life. The trick is not breaking the noodle before it's all in your mouth! In Germany, cabbage is associated with luck and fortune because it's green and resembles money.The lowly lentil looks like little coins and are eaten throughout Italy for good fortune in the New Year. People in Turkey and other Mediterranean countries eat pomegranates, which have long been associated with abundance and fertility. Think I'll stay away from that one!

In our family we have pork and chicken is off the menu that one day. The reason is that a pig "roots forward" and a chicken "scratches backwards." All scientific, you understand. I am a bit superstitious, probably inherited from my Mom. The ones that stand out in my mind are not opening an umbrella in the house, not stepping on a crack and definitely not walking under a ladder. She warned on such occasions that it was "bad luck" and I took her at her word! She also believed it was a bad idea to go back to the house for something after we'd left. Not sure about that one, but it would happen like this... on weekends we went to the grandparents, she would have the bags packed and as soon as Daddy got off work we'd head to Arkansas. A few miles down the road someone invariably would say...

 "Did you get the _______?"

That set off a discussion of why we shouldn't go back, did we really need the  ________?

If it was deemed necessary, Mom would count backwards from 10 to erase the "bad luck." Really!

Someday soon, when I'm snowbound, I'll GOOGLE all these old superstitions and see just where they came from! Just in case you want to have that little insurance policy in the form of a pot of black-eyed peas, here's an easy recipe:

Black-eyed Peas with Salt Pork PRINT RECIPE
1 lb frozen black-eyed peas
4 oz (1/4 lb) salt pork or bacon, diced why salt pork?cause it's Southern-licious!
1-2 jalapenos, sliced or minced
1 small tomato, diced

Fry the salt pork or bacon in a pot until some of the fat is rendered and it’s starting to crisp up. Then add the peas and stir them around to coat in grease. Don't be afraid, the good luck cancels out the calories! Add the jalapeno and tomato and enough water to just cover the peas. Put a lid on the pot, bring to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer for about 30-45 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper and a little more hot sauce if you like it spicy. Don't forget a good chunk of buttered cornbread! Makes 6 servings.

One more recipe, this one's a keeper!

Recipe for a Happy New Year

Take twelve fine, full-grown months; see that these are thoroughly free from old memories of bitterness, rancor and hate, cleanse them completely from every clinging spite; pick off all specks of pettiness and littleness; in short, see that these months are freed from all the past—have them fresh and clean as when they first came from the great storehouse of Time.

Cut these months into thirty or thirty-one equal parts. Do not attempt to make up the whole batch at one time (so many persons spoil the entire lot this way) but prepare one day at a time.

Into each day put equal parts of faith, patience, courage, work (some people omit this ingredient and so spoil the flavor of the rest), hope, fidelity, liberality, kindness, prayer, meditation, rest (leaving this out is like leaving the oil out of the salad dressing—don't do it), and one well-selected resolution.

Put in about one teaspoonful of good spirits, a dash of fun, a pinch of folly, a sprinkling of play, and a heaping cupful of good humor.



Thursday, December 29, 2011

Jokin' Around!

I have a refrigerator full of delicious food that we had over the holidays, good news for me cause I'm about "cooked out!" We started celebrating last Friday at our daughter's house. She had every table loaded with goodies... a meat tray of ham, turkey and brisket that our SON in law Ken had smoked, appetizers galore and delicious desserts for every sweet  tooth!

The punch was a Cranberry Lime and was soooo good!

Sam's Club was nice enough to bake us a 4 layer Coconut Cake that was to die for! It's one of the leftovers that I'm glad I have in the house...maybe not after I get on the scale!

Pioneer Woman's Beef Tenderloin

Christmas Eve the kids came to open presents and have a late dinner. It takes us nearly 3 hours to ooh and aah over every present, including the "Joke one's" that have almost become more fun than the real ones!

We now have an award, a statue that lives with the "Winner" of the Joke Gift Contest.... we're an odd bunch who like to compete in everything! The rules of the Joke gift are as follows: used, re-gifted or dumpster dived. I really thought I'd win this year with this priceless piece of plastic cheer, after all it was electric and it worked...

But wasn't meant to be. I was outdone by my daughter who had found two hard to find gifts at the local Salvation Army. I can't bring myself to post the picture of our "joint gift," it's x rated! In new condition, the recipients of these skimpy articles of clothing were just too embarrassed to ever open the package and wear them. Both have very witty sayings printed on the bra and underpants! To seal the deal, she gave her Dad James Earl Jones' Bible on tape! Good thing we saved our old tape player!

It's really kind of fun to do joke gifts. I like to dumpster dive for that special gift, but was able to find other perfect ones at the Benton County Thrift Store. The money goes to help the battered and homeless women of Benton County, that's a very good thing.


This year I bought Hubby a perfectly good Baby Boomer Edition of Trivial Pursuit, he'd always wanted it and it was too expensive to buy when it was new in the 1980's! Not at the thrift store, it was a mere $3.00! I got lucky and found another hard to find game, the collector's boxed edition of one of our daughter's favorite TV shows, FRIENDS!


A little scary, our SON is law is a really good sport and modeled his camo hat and poncho! It was just an itty bit too small!

Christmas Day we got together one more time and had Estelle's Lasagna from the Maine House.
Oh.my.goodness.
This is the best lasagna I've ever made!

So, like I said... there's a lot of leftovers in the fridge right now. I don't think I'll have to cook the whole week and by then it'll be time to go out for New Years!  


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Celebrate!

New Year's Eve is just around the corner and even if the refrigerator is bulging at the seams, you're probably thinking about snacks for New Year's Day. With all the games, it's an excuse for one more big party before the diets begin!

Taste of Home's Best Holiday Recipes 2011 has so many yummy recipes, I've used it over and over the last few weeks. So kids, before the ball drops... before the New Year's Resolutions begin... let's be bad one.more.time!


French Quarter Cheese Spread PRINT RECIPE
Heide Blaine Hadburg Safety Harbor, Florida
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon grated onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup butter, cubed
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon prepared mustard
1 cup finely chopped pecans, toasted

In a small bowl, combine the cream cheese, onion and garlic. Transfer to a serving plate; shape into a 6-in. disk. Set aside. In a small saucepan, combine the butter, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce and mustard. Cook and stir over medium heat for 4-5 minutes or until sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat; stir in pecans. Cool slightly. Spoon over cheese mixture. Serve with crackers. Yield: 8 servings.



Asiago Chicken Spread PRINT RECIPE
James Korezenowski Fennville, Michigan
3/4 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch cubes    
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup salted cashew halves
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup shredded Asiago cheese
1/4 cup minced fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
Assorted crackers or toasted baguette slices


Season chicken with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, saute chicken in butter for 5-6 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Stir in cashews. Remove from the heat; cool. In a food processor, combine the mayonnaise, onion, cheese, basil, pepper sauce and chicken mixture; cover and process until blended. Press into a 2-cup bowl; cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. If desired, unmold onto a serving platter; serve with crackers or baguette slices. Yield: 2 cups.




Pepperoni Pinwheels PRINT RECIPE
Cynthia Bent Newark, Delaware
1/2 cup diced pepperoni
1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1 egg, separated
1 tube (8 ounces) refrigerated crescent rolls

In a small bowl, combine the pepperoni, cheese, oregano and egg yolk. In another small bowl, whisk egg white until foamy; set aside. Separate crescent dough into four rectangles; seal perforations.  Spread pepperoni mixture over each rectangle to within 1/4 in. of edges. Roll up jelly-roll style, starting with a short side; pinch seams to seal. Cut each into six slices.  Place cut side down on greased baking sheets; brush tops with egg white. Bake at 375° for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm. Refrigerate leftovers. Yield: 2 dozen. 
Pear Mushroom Strudels PRINT RECIPE
Carole Resnick Cleveland, Ohio
1 cup finely chopped mushrooms
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup butter, divided
2 small pears, peeled and thinly sliced
3/4 cup shredded Gruyere or Swiss cheese
1/3 cup sliced almonds
1 tablespoon stone-ground mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
10 sheets phyllo dough (14 inches x 9 inches)
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a large skillet, cook mushrooms and onion in 2 tablespoons butter until tender. Stir in pears; cook 3 minutes longer. Remove from the heat; stir in the Gruyere, almonds, mustard, salt and pepper. Cool to room temperature. Melt remaining butter. Place one sheet of phyllo dough on a work surface; brush evenly with butter. Sprinkle with 1-1/2 teaspoons Parmesan cheese. Layer with four more sheets of phyllo, brushing each sheet with butter and sprinkling with cheese. (Keep remaining phyllo dough covered with plastic wrap and a damp towel to prevent it from drying out. Spread half of the pear mixture in a 2-in.-wide strip along a short side of dough. Roll up jelly-roll style, starting with the pear side; pinch seams to seal. Brush with butter. Transfer to a parchment paper-lined 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan. Repeat with remaining phyllo, butter, Parmesan cheese and pear mixture. Bake at 375° for 16-20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for 5 minutes. Cut each strudel into 12 slices. Yield: 2 strudels (12 slices each).

Just in case you want to make some drinks to go with all these great appetizers... here's a few links to some yummy ones from Taste of Home:




Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Facebook Timeline

~OLD WIRE ROAD TRAIN TRESTLE DATED 1928~

What do you think of the new Facebook Timeline? They rolled it out the week before Christmas and I jumped on board as soon as I looked at the promo. I'm like that... hip, technologically gifted, not afraid of new things. OK, that's not really me! If I'm honest, I'd say I'm the last in line for anything that requires changing. I'm afraid of clicking on the wrong thing and poof! it all disappears into that box they call the Internet. But it seemed pretty simple so I thought, what the heck!

First you get to pick a "Cover Picture," something that best describes you, your hobbies or your loves. I chose one that I took this summer on a little excursion with my GRANDson Gavin. We found this old train trestle using the Internet and a good GPS. It was in the middle of nowhere, about 10 miles down a dirt road! 

Next you get to tell your story. Facebook makes that easy, you were born then everything else starts falling in line year by year.
Next you get to tell your story. Depending how long you've been on Facebook and also how MUCH you want to share, you can place people and milestones and everything that's meaningful to those you share your Facebook with. For me, that's mostly friends and family and blogging buddies! It automatically added my birth since I have that on my profile, then I plugged in the places we'd lived.

Then I added trips we'd taken and fun things we did along the way. Hey, I'd almost forgotten about going to Marine World in California (1975), that was FUN! 

Disney World 1987



Lancaster County, PA.

Cancun, Mexico

Before I knew it I had pins all over the map, I'd been having fun for nearly 60 years and there it was in black and white! There's plenty of apps to add too. Favorite movies, the books you read and want to tell others about, music you love, restaurants, even sharing your personal bests on your workouts or runs. It's all here. For those who network....see me using big tech words like network...it's a way to connect and share the good stuff! I like it! Isn't that what we love about blogging?

Monday, December 26, 2011

Worth waiting for!


I'm a little giddy over my present from Santa, it's more than I asked for... much more. I never dreamed that anything Earthly could make me so insanely happy. On his sleigh, in a box weighing only 17 pounds he brought me the gift of my dreams... a Dyson vacuum! I know, you were wanting one too! Only good little children get presents that they don't even ask for, just sayin'!

Actually, it happened like this. We got up the Saturday before Christmas and as I'm going through the ads hubby says there was dog hair on the front of the refrigerator. Please don't think we live in filth, it's winter here and static electricity is stronger than I am. It wasn't like it was one solid sheet of fur, but he had noticed and let me tell you it felt like a knife in my heart. Ms. Clean does not like hair in the kitchen, neither does Mr. Clean. So we packed up and went straight to Sam's Club for the gift we share each year. Sometime during the holiday season we agree that we "need" something, and reward ourselves! It's an old person thing.

I didn't wait until Christmas, I opened it the minute we got home and proceeded to vacuum the house from top to bottom. All three floors are now clean as a whistle! There's not a speck of dust, or a crumb of cookie hiding in any nook or cranny. And dog hair, do we have a dog???

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Waiting...


The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

"Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! on, on Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys, and St Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.

His eyes-how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself!
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose!

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all,
and to all a good-night!"

Friday, December 23, 2011

Meemaw's Kitchen Sink Christmas Cookies

photo courtesy of The Food Network

What do you do with all those little peppermint candies that Sonic so kindly puts in our bag of burgers? Well, if you're like me and have been saving them all year long, have I got a great recipe for you! From the Queen of Sweetness herself, Ms. Paula Deen... I trust her cause she's not skinny and she's a Meemaw, just like me!

Meemaw's Kitchen Sink Christmas Cookies
from Paula Deen PRINT RECIPE
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup puffed rice cereal
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1 cup rolled old-fashioned oats
1 (8-ounce) package toffee bits
White chocolate, for dipping
15 peppermint hard candies, crushed, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugars. Scrape the sides of the mixer bowl and beat in the oil, egg, and vanilla until smooth. Beat in the flour mixture in 3 small additions, scraping the sides of the bowl after each one. Slowly beat in the rice cereal, coconut, and oats. Fold in the toffee bits and refrigerate the dough, covered, for 1 hour. Drop rounded tablespoons of dough on 2 cookie sheets, leaving at least 1-inch of space around each drop. Bake until the cookies are golden around the edges, 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool. Using a double boiler, melt the white chocolate. Dip the cookies into the white chocolate and sprinkle crushed peppermint to decorate. Allow to cool or serve warm. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
photo courtesy of The Food Network

APPLE PEAR CIDER PRINT RECIPE
from Paula Deen
4 cups apple cider
4 cups pear juice or nectar
4 teaspoons dark brown sugar
2 (2 1/2-inch) cinnamon sticks
4 whole cloves
4 black peppercorns
4 allspice berries

Place all the ingredients in a saucepan and simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes. Let steep, off the heat, for at least 20 minutes. Reheat, and then strain and serve.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

1 Corinthians 13: The Christmas Version

"If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights and shiny balls, but do not show love to my family, I'm just another decorator.

If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies, preparing gourmet meals and arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime, but do not show love to my family, I'm just another cook. 
 
If I work at the soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home and give all that I have to charity, but do not show love to my family, it profits me nothing.

If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes, attend a myriad of holiday parties and sing in the choir's cantata but do not focus on Christ, I have missed the point.

Love stops the cooking to hug the child; Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the spouse; Love is kind, even when harried and tired.

Love doesn't envy another's home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens.

Love doesn't yell at the kids to get out of the way, but is thankful they are there to be in the way. 
 
Love doesn't give only to those who are able to give in return but rejoices in giving to those who can't.  

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.

Video games will break, pearl necklaces will be lost, golf clubs will rust. But giving the gift of LOVE will endure."

May the joy of Advent bring God’s love into your life in a special way this Christmas!

*Graciously shared by A Mom of Three Girls at Land of Fluff.blogspot.com
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