Friday, December 31, 2010

Frankenstein

I just finished reading Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. It's not a book I would have chosen on my own. The only reason I read it is because Crystal has been bugging me to do so for the past three years. She's a high school English teacher, and she loves this book. She loves teaching it, but I have a feeling her high school students struggle to get through it without help.

I've never seen the Boris Karloff movie version, but notes from the book tell me it does not follow the book's story line at all. I found the book to be more sad than scary. It didn't frighten me at all.

I almost gave up on page 20 because the style of writing was so difficult to read. Sentences like, "I need not describe the feelings of those whose dearest ties are rent by that most irreparable evil, the void that presents itself to the soul, and the despair that is exhibited on the countenance", were bogging me down. But I plowed through, hoping it would get better. The sentences didn't change, but just like watching a foreign movie with subtitles, my mind got used to the way Mary Shelley communicated in 1818.

I sided with the creature that Victor Frankenstein made by piecing together limbs and organs from dead bodies. He was such a lovable creature. Unfortunately, he was hideously ugly, and no human could even look at him, not even Victor. The monster fell into despair because he was all alone in the world. He wanted Victor to create a female version of himself so he would have a companion, just like God created Eve for Adam. But Victor was afraid that the two monsters would wreak havoc on the world, and he refused to do it. After that, the monster sought revenge on Victor by killing those closest to him. Victor spent the rest of his life trying in vain to kill the monster.

It is good to read outside the box sometimes...books you would otherwise not choose. I enjoyed this story, and was impressed that it was Mary Shelley's first book, which she began writing at the age of 18.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Beaver Creek Village Photos

Here are some photos from around Beaver Creek Village this morning:



Covered Bridge



Stairs/escalator leading to the mountain














 Ice Rink














Katherine and Josh


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Heinz at Your Service

It was a cold, snowy morning out on the mountain, but that didn't stop my family from going out there and working up an appetite. Fortunately, our condo is close enough to the lifts that they can easily walk home for lunch. It beats paying $8 for a cheeseburger at the on-mountain restaurant, Spruce Saddle.

Since I'm the chief cook and bottle washer while we are here (and at home, come to think of it) I offered to cook up some gourmet popcorn chicken and Campbell's noodle soup for lunch. Right away, Peter looked in the refrigerator for some ketchup to accompany his crusty morsels. He was disappointed that we didn't have all the comforts of home. We had mustard, but that wouldn't cut it.

Daniel, being the industrious one, didn't waste any time getting on the horn to the front desk. "Ummm, would it be possible to get some ketchup? We don't need much...just a few packets will do." Five minutes later, a butler-looking young man appeared at the door with one hand behind his back and the other hand holding some ketchup. He had three of the cutest bottles I've ever seen.

And the boys ate happily ever after. Now they are ready for their afternoon runs.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Super Stars of Beaver Creek

Beaver Creek Ski School does a fantastic job of teaching kids how to ski. Children as young as three can take lessons. The first thing the kids do is learn how to do the "snow plow" so they can stop if they need to.

How do the tots get some slope so they can practice the snow plow? By riding the magic carpet. This is a conveyor belt that they step on with their skis and ride up a small slope. When they step off the rubber mat at the top, they automatically start sliding down. The instructors encourage them to "make a pizza" with their skis to slow down and eventually stop.

 I can remember when my kids learned to do this. The best part was when they passed the "pizza" test, they got a new bib that was green and said, "Superstar" on it. This meant they were allowed to go up the mountain on the chair lift.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Family Gathering

Elizabeth, Lindsay and Katherine
Every Christmas Eve, my family (just me and my siblings now) and all the associated children get together to celebrate. On my side of the family, there are eleven grandchildren. In order, they are : Elizabeth (23), Lindsay (22), Katherine (22), Daniel (20), Chris (19), Laura (19), Megan (18), Stephanie (17), Peter (16), Rachel (15), and Patrick (13). I hope I got that right.


Chris, Daniel and Peter

You can see that the kids were born one right after the other. We spent many years being pregnant and having babies. Carolyn spent the most time with babies in her belly. She has five kids.

But this is what makes the family gatherings so much fun. The kids all get along and love to get together with each other. And the adults do too.

All the kids

All the grown ups

Each year, we rotate who hosts the party. This year was Pat's turn. Pat and Nikki had a special surprise for all of us. They had a bunch of 8 mm films from when we were little kids. Nikki took the films to someone who converted them to DVD. We sat and watched ourselves as we had never seen ourselves before. Of course, Carolyn, Mike and I wanted her to make a copy for us, and lo and behold, she had done just that as a gift to us this year.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Happy Birthday, Daniel


Daniel - 5 weeks old
Riley was born the day before Christmas, but Daniel was born the day after Christmas. He was supposed to be born on December 16, so he was ten days late. It was nice to be able to spend Christmas at home, but I was hoping to spend it with my baby on the outside instead of the inside. Unlike other children of mine, it was probably the only time Daniel was late in his life. So I forgive him.

Don't let this picture fool you. He's really not this serious

Where did the last 20 years go? How can he be that old? He's definitely an adult now with lots of facial hair and plenty of ideas of his own. He's still easy going and funny, funny, funny. He makes me laugh, laugh, laugh.

He calls me Masha, which I love, because it's such a cute name. I think he made it up, or it's a Spanish word or something.

I love this picture because Daniel is reading a book without coercion. This is something I (Marianne the Librarian) thought I'd never live to see.

It took about 18 years, but Daniel actually likes to READ! Yeah! Happy Birthday, Daniel :)

Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Birthday, Riley!

Today is Riley's 2nd birthday! He was born on Christmas Eve, 2008. We didn't bring him home until March 8, 2009 when he was ten weeks old. Riley was one of three puppies in his litter. He was the smallest of the three - the runt. His brother and sister went to other homes and left Riley by himself. I am sure he was lonely for a little while. By the time we got him, he was used to sleeping by himself, so he never cried at night. He slept through the night from day one. That was a blessing.

I don't need to tell you how cute he was. You can see that for yourself. He stole our hearts from the beginning. So even though he got into EVERYTHING, I couldn't get mad at him. He was just too sweet. He didn't like getting into trouble, he just couldn't help it. What's a couple of computer cords or a kitchen wall? Those things can be replaced or repaired...and they were.

Now Riley is all grown up (in dog years, that is). He's just as special and just as sweet. When he gets into trouble these days, it is usually because he is trying to protect his flock or his belly is growling.

He's a gift under our tree. If only we could make time stand still.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Brushing Riley's Teeth

Do dogs really need their teeth brushed? According to experts, they do. You are supposed to brush your dog's teeth at least twice a week, if not daily, to prevent cavities and other dental problems. Riley is our fourth dog, and I didn't brush the other dogs' teeth. Nicholas had an abscess and Stoli had extreme halitosis (you couldn't stand to be within a foot of him) and a receeding gumline as he got older. So with Riley, I decided to invest in a toothbrush and canine toothpaste long ago. The problem is, I am lazy about brushing his teeth.

Katherine, on the other hand loves to do the job. Whenever she comes home, she asks me if I have been brushing Riley's teeth. When I say, "no", she scolds me and gets out the brush and paste. 

It's not like Riley would fight me. He loves getting his teeth brushed. The toothpaste is chicken-flavored. He will sit at attention just waiting to get that brush in his mouth just as if she has a treat for him.

The only difficult thing about brushing is that Riley's tongue tries to get the paste off the brush before it hits his teeth.

I guess Katherine has convinced me to maybe give it a try once she goes back to school. But I draw the line at flossing!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Riley's Shadow

from My Shadow
                    by Robert Louis Stevenson

I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me,
And what can be the use of him is more than I can see.
He is very, very like me from the heels up to the head;
And I see him jump before me, when I jump into my bed.


There are a few things Riley does on a regular basis that drive us crazy. One of those things is what we call "chasing shadows". You would think Riley would not notice shadows, but he thinks they are alive and after him. 

Shadow chasing always happens at night, of course, because that's when the shadows appear. If Riley is otherwise occupied, he doesn't notice them. But if he is bored, he might see the shadow of one of our hands dangling over the edge of the chair, and the chase will begin. Sometimes he sees his own shadow, and he will chase that too.

When Riley gets focused on the shadows, you can't get him to do anything else. What drives us crazy about this is he whines, pants and paces nonstop. I've had to put him in his crate for a time out in order to get a break from it.

I think Riley's shadow looks a lot like Batman, don't you? They both have the same ears.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Cookie Baking Day

Yesterday was our second annual Christmas cookie baking day hosted by my sister-in-law, Pam. It is a day when I have to take everything but the kitchen sink to her house. These huge green bags I found at Marc's for 50 cents each were perfect for toting all our ingredients, bowls, measuring spoons and cups, parchment paper, etc. I also brought along my stand mixer and lots of cookie sheets, cooling racks and cookie trays.

Katherine, Peter and I joined Pam, Carol and Donna to bake a total of 8 types of cookies. The kitchen definately had too many cooks. It was hard to concentrate on the recipe at hand with ingredients and utensils everywhere, but we had a blast creating beautiful cookie trays.

Part of the fun is getting a special apron for the day. Last year, the girls' aprons said, "Move over, Martha" and Peter's apron said, "I'd rather be golfing". This year our aprons said, "Ho, Ho, Ho" and Peter's apron said, "I'd rather be snowboarding".

Our trays contained Pecan Tassies, Maple Cookies, Peanut Butter Cup Cookies, Orange Nut Balls, Lemon-Coconut Snowballs, Chocolate Marshmallow Cookies, Cut-Out cookies and a Caramel bar cookie that Donna brought with her.

We put together 15 cookie trays that we plan on passing along to family, friends and neighbors. Of course, we'll have some too!

Next year, cookie baking day is at my house or else we are going to assemble all the dough before we get to Pam's. My arms are killing me from toting all that stuff!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Bathtime

Riley - 10 weeks old
When Riley was a puppy, I gave him a bath in the bathtub. Unlike some dogs, Riley loved getting wet. He loved the sound of the water running, and he lapped it up straight from the faucet.

 As he got bigger and fluffier (much fluffier), I was worried that if I gave him a bath in the bathtub, the drain would clog and his fur would get so matted together I wouldn't be able to untangle it. That's when he started getting a bath at PetSmart. He goes there every couple of months. I call it "Spa Day for Riley".

But whenever Katherine is home, and she uses the bathroom where he used to get a bath, Riley gets very excited. When she turns on the water, he runs to the tub and puts his head under the shower curtain in anticipation of having a spa day at home. Katherine plays along with him every time, but eventually, she has to tell him to wait outside until she is finished. He cries, then waits for her by the door.

It's a mystery to us how Riley can love water coming from the bathtub faucet, but attack water when it comes from the garden hose.

Friday, December 17, 2010

You've Got a Friend

Oh, the comfort—
the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person—
having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words,
but pouring them all right out,
just as they are,
chaff and grain together;
certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them,
keep what is worth keeping,
and then with the breath of kindness blow the rest away.

  - Dinah Maria Mulock Craik (1826-1887)

I'm so thankful for friends like that. Safe friends whom I can be real with. Friends who don't judge or run off and share secrets. I want to be a friend like that. One who can be trusted. One who is full of compassion. One who will be there no matter what.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Think About These Things

When bad things happen, when things don't go according to plan, my mind can really bring me down. I start speculating out into the future, imagining what the fallout will be. I make things up. I ask, "What if?" My heart starts to beat faster. I get a headache. In essence, I worry.

The things I think about are not true or real. How can things in the future be true or real? They haven't happened yet. I used to disagree with Don when he told me I was negative. Now I see what he means. It is not that I am negative, but I introduce the "what if" factor. He focuses on the here and now. He doesn't worry about what may come because he believes it will be good. He is positive.

God says not to worry about things that are not real or true. Philippians 4:8 says, "Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

I need to trust Him more. Trust that He has the future under control, and I don't need to worry about it.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Word Cloud

Here is my word cloud. I made it at http://www.wordle.net/.

My words are things I like. While making a word cloud, you decide which words will be bigger by using those words more frequently. For instance, I typed in "Daniel" five times and "blog" three times and "tennis" one time.

After the word cloud is created, you can change the layout, colors and fonts until you like it. Then you can print it out and frame it.

I made a few mistakes in this one because I was creating it in a hurry. To keep two words together, you have to put a "~" between them. For instance, Beaver~Creek. I must have left that little character out when I typed it because Beaver and Creek are not together. I also meant to make the word "Don" larger than it came out. Oops! Unfortunately, Wordle does not let you fix your mistakes. You have to start over, and it was getting late.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tea, Glorious Tea

I've been drinking a lot of tea lately. In fact, I think my tea consumption has surpassed my diet coke consumption. I'm not sure if it's because of all the snow and cold or it's because I have a new tea kettle.

I have to balance the tea drinking between caffeine and caffeine-free depending on the time of day.
First thing in the morning, I have a strong cup of English Breakfast tea. I might have two. By 1 o'clock, I switch to a variety of herbal teas. I don't want my tea to assist in my sleepless nights. Tammy surprised me last week by dropping by my house with a new tin of tea for me. It is called "get some zzz's". It is herb tea for rest. I've been drinking it the past five nights, and I do think it is helping me sleep. It contains rooibos, chamomile, passionflower and valerian. I wasn't sure about the passionflower, but the other herbs seemed like they had calming names.

Since I like tea so much, I put together a few tea gifts for friends this Christmas. It is an easy gift to package up, and it looks pretty. Buy four boxes of tea. (I bought four herbal teas: Sleepytime, Chai Tea, Raspberry Zinger and Green Tea.) Stack the four boxes in a cube. (I put a little tape on them to keep them from sliding around). Cut a ribbon large enough to wrap around the boxes twice and tie a bow. Here's what it looks like from the front and the back.

Monday, December 13, 2010

O Holy Night


As I mentioned yesterday, my favorite Christmas carol is 'O Holy Night'. For some reason, it touches me like no other Christmas song. Here are the lyrics of the first verse:

O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of our dear Saviour's birth.

Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
'Til He appear'd and the soul felt its worth.

A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

Fall on your knees! O hear the angels' voices!

O night divine, O night when Christ was born;
O night divine, O night, O night Divine.

I especially love it when it is sung by a choir, a big choir that can really build a crescendo. When they get to the part where the lyrics say, "Fall on your knees!" I really do want to fall on my knees. This is Christ a newborn baby, yet Christ the king. Oh, what a night divine.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Christmas Concert


Greg & Merry Poe, us, Jeff & Crystal Kershaw,
Jim & Jeanette Metcalf
 Last night, Don and I invited three other couples over for appetizers and wine before attending the Parkside Christmas concert. While our children were growing up, we all attended the same church. Now, between us, we attend three different churches. But, we are all still friends, which is nice.

The concert was simply amazing. I am guessing there were about 150 people in the choir, and there was a full orchestra. Some of the orchestra members were students from the Cleveland Institute of Music. They sang many traditional Christmas carols including my favorite (O Holy Night). The orchestra played a brilliant rendition of Trans-Siberian Orchestra's Christmas Eve in Sarajevo, which is a medley of Carol of the Bells and God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.
There were over 2,000 people in attendance, and that was only one of four concerts performed this weekend. I tell you, the beauty of it brought tears to my eyes several times.

After the concert, we all returned to our house for dessert. It was Jeff's birthday, so Crystal treated us all to a delicious Carrot Cake that she made from scratch. We decided we will make this an annual tradition. Anyone want to join us next year? You won't be disappointed.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Rockin' Retirement Party

Don's retirement party was held last night at the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame. Around 40 people from around the country came to celebrate Don's career.

Don wasn't exactly looking forward to it because the way these parties usually go is the retiring person is "roasted" (stories are told and everyone laughs).

But what I kept hearing from everyone was they didn't have any "dirt" on Don. Some people even came up to me before the roasting began to see if I could provide a shovel.

I was hoping to see Don's face turn red and find out some interesting things that he'd never bothered to tell me, but instead, everyone had good things to say. Don was an incredible mentor. He was an encourager, a fantastic leader, a friend. A video was shown with people from all over the world giving Don credit for their success. One man came up to me and said he didn't know what he was going to do now. Every time he didn't know what to do, he would call Don. I told him to keep calling him, that he'd love it. I'm not sure if that was the right answer.

As a gift, Don was presented with an iPod Nano loaded with a playlist of 40 songs. Each song was dedicated by a person who worked with him. He also got a book with all the dedications. Some of the songs were: "You Raise Me Up" by Josh Grobin, "Mack the Knife" by Frank Sinatra, "Cleveland Rocks" by Ian Hunter, "You've Got a Friend in Me" by Randy Newman, and "The Best is Yet to Come" by Frank Sinatra.

One of the themes that ran throughout the evening was Don's integrity. With all the traveling he did over the years, I never worried about what he was doing or who he was with. I am thankful for that. Some of the people at the party did not know Don and I met at the firm. We met back when dating was not allowed between employees, so Don broke the rules when he asked me out. One woman told me she was glad to hear that Don did that. She said, "It's good to color outside the lines every once in awhile". I had to agree.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Chocolate Almond Clusters

If you plan to put together some cookie trays as gifts this Christmas, here is a very easy recipe to add some texture and color to the tray.

You need three things:

8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 c. roasted, salted almonds
mini baking cups

On a large baking sheet, arrange 24 mini baking cups.

Melt chocolate in microwave, double-boiler or melting pot. If you use the microwave, be careful not to burn the chocolate. Stir every 20 seconds.

Cool the chocolate for 3 minutes (for a shiny finish).
Stir in almonds until evenly coated. With a measuring teaspoon, drop 1 spoonful of mixture into each mini cup. Refrigerate at least 20 minutes or until set. Chocolate clusters can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to  1 month.

As you can see in the picture, I forgot to wait 3 minutes with the chocolate, therefore, my clusters are not shiny.

When I make these again, I am going to double the chocolate because I prefer a little almonds with my chocolate, not a little chocolate with my almonds if you know what I mean.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Snowed In

It has been snowing non-stop for three days. I only went out this morning because I needed new tires on my car. I sat at Conrad's reading a book on my Kindle for two hours while I waited. I don't mind waiting as long as I have a book to read, but my tailbone does not like hard chairs, and that's what they had.

I took a new photo of the backyard. This one is an aerial view from the guest room. I'm still trying to be positive about the furniture getting covered. I'm not saying a thing.

Riley had a chance to play in the snow because Don was out there measuring the steps and the space where a bench he is building will go. He's in the garage cutting Trex with his saw. I don't know where he gets his energy. I'm wanting to just snuggle up on the couch with some tea.

I think I'll bake cookies today. I need to test out some new recipes before the big cookie baking day on the 19th. I have to muster up lots of willpower when I bake cookies. All baking...no eating! Except a bite or two to make sure they taste good. :)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Winter Is Here!

I guess it's not officially winter until December 21, but winter is here in spirit. This is a shot from my sliding door to the deck at 2 p.m. today. Notice that our deck furniture isn't covered yet. This is because Don is an optimist. He is sure we will have a thaw. He's still planning on finishing the steps on the deck before Christmas. I must remain positive about this because he's always accusing me of being negative.

If there ever should have been a snow day, today would have been it. But Peter didn't have a snow day. He had to get to school. Since he's still a relatively new driver, Don drove him to school. That was all fine and dandy, but it also meant he had to get home. I wasn't going to drive today.

Riley and I enjoyed our snow day. We canceled our walk this morning and stayed cozy and warm inside. I walked on the treadmill while Riley rescued billiard balls from the chute. He desperately wanted me to follow him to the sliding door to see if there were any chipmunks today, but I kept telling him they would all be sleeping.

After his exercise, Riley decided to snuggle up on the couch. Usually, he waits for me to sit down first, but today he didn't feel like being a gentleman.

Tomorrow is supposed to be much of the same. I guess we'll have to settle for another long day in the den.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Swiss Army Knife

If I emptied my purse on the counter, a lot of useless junk would fall out. When Don empties his pockets on the counter, three things come out, and they are all very useful: his wallet, his chapstick, and his Swiss Army knife.
As long as I have known Don, he has carried these three things. A man's got to have money, soft lips, and a tool. The Swiss Army knife keeps him ready for life's daily battles. If someone has a loose thread, he pulls out his scissors and snips it. If someone has a broken nail, he pulls out his nail file and they file it. If there is a box to be opened, the blade works wonders. Other components of the knife include a straight pin, tweezers, toothpick and screwdriver. How can he be more prepared than that?

Our children realized at a very young age that this tool was pretty handy, and they showed interest in owning one. When Katherine was around 9 years old, Don bought her a pocket knife. (Do you think he consulted with me first?)  Armed with her new tool, she and Daniel ran out to the woods in our backyard to carve something. Before long, Katherine came running back to the house screaming as if she had been attacked. Blood was splattered all over her face and her shirt. I was sure a bobcat had torn into her. Since Katherine was hysterical, it was a good thing Daniel was there as a witness. He told us she had cut her thumb with the knife. The reason she had blood all over was because she was shaking her hand, and it splattered. After we got over the trauma, Katherine was stitched up, and the episode was forgotten. The knife was put away, and I don't think she ever got it out again.

Two years later when Daniel was 9 years old, Don bought a knife for him.  He showed Daniel how to whittle. Daniel got a stick and sat on the front porch and started to whittle. Two minutes later he was crying. He had cut his finger with the knife. Don insisted he was nine when he got his first pocket knife. I don't know if I believe him.

Peter is 16. Guess what? He still doesn't have a pocket knife.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Extreme Makeover

There's nothing that motivates you more to get your house in shape than having a huge party. This week it was Extreme Makeover at Tammy's house. She has a beautiful log house in the woods, so the setting was perfect for a woodland Christmas party.

We needed to transform the house from "lived in" to what I am guessing people do when they have their house up for sale. They hire "stagers" to make the house look like no one lives there. Tammy had a few friends over to make her house look like this. I was one of them.

Kathy, the decorating mastermind did all the furniture moving, fabric cutting, bow making, and angling stuff. Maria and Maria made 90 miniature axes that were to be used for a game.  I mainly did grunt work. I cleaned, decluttered and did the assembly required stuff. I also hung those big Christmas ornaments in the trees along the driveway and helped make 80 luminaries to light it up.

At 3:30 yesterday, I went home and collapsed on the floor. I couldn't move for 30 minutes. I was fortunate enough to be invited to the party, so when I went back last night I could see the transformation with fresh eyes. It was truly beautiful. I also got to see most of my former co-workers from VCA, which was a real treat.

I hope Tammy is sleeping in today. She was running on adrenaline for a few weeks, and it was time to crash.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Christmas Past

 In 1987, Christmas was a simple holiday. I had Don and two dogs to worry about. We had a simple tree with simple ornaments and simple garland. We bought each other one gift. The dogs got bones.

It was our second Christmas together. We had been married a year and a half. Don and I were both working full time. We didn't have any children yet. I wasn't even pregnant.






By Christmas 1994, we had all three kids. Christmas was a little more challenging, but a little more fun too. I even bought matching clothing. Katherine had just started Kindergarten and lost her first tooth. Daniel was turning four, and Peter was only 5 months old.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Quick Fancy Cookies

This cookie recipe is so easy I made it standing on one foot with an arm tied behind my back, blindfolded. Well, not quite, but almost. I made it while my meatloaf was cooking.

There are only three ingredients involved: Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust, Fisher pecan chips (Giant Eagle), and Smuckers apricot jam.

You could substitute any variety of jam you want. The pecan chips are nice because they are choppped up very fine.

You also need an egg for an egg wash. And the recipe didn't call for it, but it would be nice to sprinkle some large crystal sugar on top before baking.

Here's the recipe, which I found on http://www.foodnetwork.com/.






Rugalach

Cut pie crust into 16 wedges using a pizza cutter.
Start from the tip of the wedge, spreading apricot jam over two-thirds of each wedge.
Sprinkle with chopped pecans.
Roll from the fat end in to form a crescent shape.
Brush with beaten egg.
Chill 30 minutes.
Bake 30-35 minutes at 325 degrees.


Here's what they look like when they are done.

The only drawback is that the recipe only makes 16 cookies!!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

What is Christmas All About?

Celebrating the greatest gift ever given -- that's what Christmas is all about. Charlie Brown figures it out at the end of the movie when Linus quotes the second chapter of the Gospel of Luke:

"'8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.'"
"......That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown."

How about trying to give one gift every day during the month of December. You don't even need to go shopping.

Hold the door for a stranger. Write a letter to someone who needs to know how much they mean to you. Forgive someone who doesn't deserve to be forgiven. Take a bag to Goodwill. Leave an enormous tip. Take cookies to a new neighbor. Buy coffee for the person in line behind you. Be patient with your annoying relatives. Take someone else's grocery cart back. Make a Christmas gift for someone instead of buying one. Look up an old classmate and reconnect. Frame a special photo for someone. Fill up somone's gas tank. Leave a book in a waiting room for someone to pick up (tuck a note inside). Take a day off work in the middle of the week to spend time with your family. Keep close parking spaces open for those who need them.

Ideas from: 101 simple & thoughtful ways to give this Christmas away by Matthew West.

Monday, November 29, 2010

No Boring Ball Ornaments Here

Our Christmas tree is loaded. Even though it is 10 ft. tall, we couldn't fit all my ornaments on it. This is a collection that has outgrown its container. I need to downsize when I pack everything up. Peter makes fun of some of the ornaments I have collected (the Outhouse ornament, for instance). Wait and see...they will be fighting over my ornaments when I'm gone. Although I try not to collect more, each year I find one or two I can't pass up. This year, it was the Diet Coke can ornament.

Some ornaments are from my childhood Christmas tree. They are very old... ancient, in fact. Some ornaments have sentimental value, like the one my grandmother made for me the year before she died. Many of them are from trips we have taken. Some bring back memories of events in the past...like the one of Buzz Lightyear. When Daniel was in Kindergarten, he thought he could be like Buzz Lightyear. He jumped off our coffee table on top of a big ball. Instead of bouncing up in the air like Buzz, the ball rolled out and Daniel practically had a concussion from hitting the back of his head on the table.

Here are just a few I will share with you:


The RV (to commemorate the trip that
almost killed us)


The Nun (I did attend Catholic
School for seven years)


















Captain Kirk (this one just reminds me of Don)


The Troll (we collected these
like they collect Beanie Babies now)























Chinese Fish (Crystal brought
this back for me when she adopted
her daughter Meizi from China)