Friday, December 31, 2010

new year's eve

Auld Lang Syne is a Scot's poem written by Robert Burns in 1788.  This is often sung at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve to remember long-standing friendships, for the sake of old times. The song's Scot's title translates literally as old long since ~ long, long ago ~ days gone by ~ or old times.  Countries around the world celebrate the eve of the new year in an assortment of ways, typically with dinner, drinks and dancing.  We reflect on the year and those we have connected with in this song about the past. 

Memories mar my mind...

Auld Lang Syne

Should old Acquaintance be forgot,
and never thought upon;
The flames of Love extinguished,
and fully past and gone:

Is thy sweet Heart now
grown so cold,
that loving Breast of thine;
That thou canst never once reflect
on Old long syne.

On Old long syne my Jo,
in Old long syne,
That thou canst never once reflect,
on Old long syne.

My Heart is ravisht with delight,
when thee I think upon;
All Grief and Sorrow takes the flight,
and speedily is gone;
The bright resemblance of thy Face,
so fills this, Heart of mine;
That Force nor Fate can me displease,
for Old long syne.

Since thoughts of thee doth banish grief,
when from thee I am gone;
will not they presence yield relief,
to this sad Heart of mine:
Why doth thy presence me defeat,
With excellence divine?
Especially when I reflect 
on Old Long Syne.
New Year's Eve is not only a time for reflection, but one of hope and anticipation for the upcoming new year.  My perfect song to celebrate time was written by our beloved Beatle, John Lennon.  Imagine was inspired by Cloud Piece, a three-line poem in Yoko Ono's 1964 book Grapefruit. The words were reproduced on the back cover of John Lennon's Imagine album.  The lyrical content was 'just what John believed: that we are one country, one world, one people.' He wanted to get that idea out. 

Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today...

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace...

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one.

Whether you are celebrating with a crowd of friends or snuggling at home, my wish is that your reflections of 2010 are filled with the knowledge that no matter what transpired in your world, good, bad; happy or sad, you made it through.  Keep the faith that 2011 will bring better days and may your hearts be filled with gratitude by enjoying one day at a time.

Yesterday is history
Tomorrow is a mystery
Today is a gift -
that's why we call it
The present

The secret of life is enjoy the passage of time. So, don't think about what will happen, or has happened - LIVE IT! People usually think about the bad things in life and dread them.  Unless it is life and death - endure it!  Troubles and stress are experience in work clothes.  What won't kill you will make you stronger (allegedly...)  James Taylor

the next few days are time for reflection and resolution...

on this moment, eternity is hinged...xo

Thursday, December 30, 2010

good luck cheese ball

hors d'oeurves: a small bit of food usually served on a cracker or piece of bread; an appetizer

I fondly remember all sorts of old-fashioned hors d'oeurves spread throughout the house during my childhood for various celebrations.  Simple Ritz crackers with Cheez-whiz, ham and olives on a toothpick, Ripple chips with Lipton's onion soup mix dip, spinach and shrimp dips, Welsh rabbit fondue, veggie trays and various cheese balls with crackers. When we were just married, my neighbor shared his recipes for a variety of appetizers such as chili con queso, guacamole, nacho cheese platters and salsa with chips.  I decided to make a good luck cheese ball to ring in the new year using whatever I had around the house.  When you take the first dip, make a wishI made this up.  Our doggie, Pontiac, absolutely loves this with carrots.  He rarely begs for food, but he was whistling up a storm for more of this treat.

(substitute to please your palate)

2 pkgs. cream cheese
1/2 cup mayo
1/2 cup diced onions
1/2 cup Sicilian olive salad
(finely chopped red onions, big green olives, celery in Italian marinade)
1/2 cup crumbly blue cheese
(really makes it pop)
1/2 fresh grated parmesan cheese
1 pkg. frozen spinach, thawed and drained
assorted nuts, processed to bits
(almonds, macadamia, pistachio)
dash of Worcestershire sauce
dash of lemon juice
wax paper
assorted crackers
dash of good tidings and cheer

Lightly mix cream cheese and mayo until fluffy, but firm, with a hand mixer.  Add Worcestershire sauce and lemon juice, then blue and parm cheeses, finally the onions and olive salad.  Scoop into a ball with a big spoon (this is a little messy.) Cover the ball with spinach (make sure you squeeze the liquid prior to covering the cheese ball.)  Place half of the crushed nut mix onto the wax paper, roll the cheese ball so it grabs the nuts and continue to add remaining nuts until completely covered.  Some nuts may fall off, but don't worry ~ once the ball is refrigerated in the wax paper, they cling.  Wrap in wax paper and refrigerate a few hours.  Remove cheese ball from wax paper onto a dish and place assorted crackers around for presentation.  We also dipped carrots; whatever your taste wants.  Use an hors d'oeurve knife or spoon to scoop as crackers are too fragile for dipping. 

God is here 

We are entering a new year with hope and anticipation for better days.   I am grateful to my blog followers and fellow facebook friends for your connections and look forward to sharing whatever continues to inspire me. 






Wednesday, December 29, 2010

chicken fajitas

I am a domestic goddess.  My joy is creating scrumptious dishes for my family with lots of love.  Today I prepare Wayne's second favorite dish - chicken fajitas.  His all time is spaghetti which he claims he could eat every day. I keep telling him he was a Roman in a past life.  We have been bombarded with pictures, movies and stories of Italy all week so I am taking this as a sign from the universe to go visit this amazing part of the world, hence, I begin a new project researching and preparing our trip.  For now this goddess has prepared a Mexican dish for all to enjoy while they endure the plethora of football games on today.  There were a few upsets yesterday which makes it all the more exciting ~ you never know...

Chicken Fajitas

6 skinless chicken breasts
(cut up in long bits)
1 yellow pepper
1 green pepper
1 poblano pepper
1 red pepper
2 onions
(peppers and onions sliced in long bits)
1 pkg. fajita mix
1 pkg. taco mix
1 pkg. sazon

2 pkgs. fajita shells

Saute chicken in 1/4 cup of water to prevent quick burning.  Drain when chicken turns white, but save broth.  Add sliced peppers and onions.  Season with fajita, taco and sazon mix.  Stir for a minute, adding the saved chicken broth.  Simmer on very low for about 30 minutes.  Done.
Some people heat shells in a pan with oil, but this is unnecessary and saves 50 calories, so I do it the way a Mexican friend told me - just heat on the stove for a dozen seconds each side.  Easy peasy.
I had to share a photo of our beggar dogs.  They swarmed Margarita the other night, to no avail.  We had a heartwarming visit with Uncle Steve and The Girtman family.  It's always nice to connect and catch up at their happy place. 

Life is beautiful xo

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

doing dishes

"Do the dishes" was often heard in our home during my childhood, as 10 people were consuming Mom's delicious meals.  I actually enjoy doing the dishes, not only at my own home, but whenever I visit someone after a party or gathering. It's always been my way of offering gratitude for the hostess' efforts to entertain us.  That's just me.  We had a dishwasher installed in our home when we first moved here and it was rarely used in 20 years.  When we replaced it with a new one, it has been used every single day; however, when I prepare meals, I tend to clean up immediately in the sink. I have found that the younger members of this household may need tips on the art of good old-fashioned dishwashing, hence I share.
Dishwashing is cleaning the eating and cooking utensils, dishes, glasses and cups.  The British call it washing up.  Dishwashing is usually done in the kitchen sink; some use a dish tub, others just plug in the strainer.  An effective way to easily cleanse is to fill the sink with hot water and squeeze  a little dish detergent while the sink is filling with water so a layer of suds forms on the top.  There are a variety of soaps available but some are more effective than others.  We use Dawn and Palmolive for best results in these parts.   I tend to buy those with citrus, apple or lavender scents.  Fill the sink with as much water as necessary to cover the amount of dishes that need to be cleaned. 
Since the majority of us are right-handed, we place our dirty dishes in the left side of the sink for better function.  Sorry, southpaws, you can reverse sides if needed.  Keep a dish drain on the right side which includes a tub for the utensils so you don't end up stabbing yourself with a fork or knife when reaching for something. Make sure you place sharp objects with the points facing downward.  When someone is finished eating, we place the dirty dish on the left side after rinsing off food particles.  I always believe anything on the right side is clean.  I like to soak my dishes for a bit which makes for easier clean up because it loosens the particles.
I find the very best way to get rid of grime is to soak, clean, rinse, then scrub with an SOS  or brillo pad.  I use this tool for cleaning my stove grills, too.  It is very old-fashioned, but tried and true.  If you have really, really grimy, caked-on scum in pots and pans, add a half inch of water to the pot and heat on the stove for 10 minutes as this helps particles separate faster. This is especially helpful after cooking scrambled eggs.

The longer it soaks, the easier it cleans.

Commonly used cleaning tools include cloths, sponges and brushes.  I prefer the above all-in-one sponge/scrubber but keep in mind bacteria builds quickly so these must be replaced often.  They are strong enough to wash in a machine, but they are inexpensive enough to just dump and replace.  Fingernails are effective at dislodging stuck-on food particles.  Rubber gloves are sometimes worn by people who are sensitive to hot water or dishwashing liquids, just had a manicure or who simply don't want to touch the old food particles.  I have a system for doing my dishes which includes initially washing all the delicate glasses, then cups, saucers and small bowls, dishes, utensils and finally lids and pots and pans.  If I have a heavy load to do, I wash and dry the more fragile items so the heavier things won't break them, plus I need the space :P  If your dishwater begins to look too scuzzy to continue, drain the old water and refill the sink as described above and begin again.  This is common and usually is done for the dirtier pots and pans.  Make sure each item is thoroughly rinsed with very warm, even hot water for best results.  Put your water spout on the right side and make sure the drain is open so the rinse water can drain.  There is nothing worse than drinking from a glass that tastes like dish soap and even foams bubbles.  Yuck!  This is why dishwashers are the most effective sterilizers and really do get things sparkling clean.  However, not everyone is fortunate enough to own one and it doesn't hurt to know how this process works. (sidebar to my kids)  You can let the dishes sit in the sink to drain and air dry, or use a cloth towel to dry each prior to putting them away.  This is my least favorite part. 
There is something ingrained in us about a clear sink and no dirty dishes that before we go to bed, our sink must be clear. It's funny how dirty dishes seem to magically appear each morning!  This is such a menial topic, but you never know who needs these tools, especially when they begin to leave the nest and live on their own.  Many children have been doing the dishes as part of the family chores, but many have not.  Back in the day, if someone did not, or could not, pay their restaurant bill, they were offered the chance to fulfill their debt by washing the dishes. 

Like my folks always said "cleanliness is Godliness" xo

Monday, December 27, 2010

happy birthday margarita

Today we celebrate your 28th birthday!  It has been a year and a half since you entered our lives and brought us much joy.  Mike is head over heels for you and we share his enthusiasm.  Your suave demeanor brings calm to his rough edges.  You know just how to bring out the best in Mike.  Working together bonds you even closer than most couples, for you can talk the talk after a day at the office and encourage each other to further your careers. 

We love listening to your expressions and recall the night you sat in front of the fireplace and shared your thoughts with us.  You attended Northwestern University at night while working during day, no easy feat.  Our shared love of gardening adds to our bond. You have a good eye for decorating in the European style which makes your home cozy and lovely to visit -  and your potato and chicken dish is divine.  I still think about it.

Steve fell in love with you the moment he met you and lovingly refers to you as Fifa.  He named his beloved betta fish after you.  Your chic style and knowledge of all things vogue blows me away and I enjoy learning about that part of the world.  This is one of my favorite photos of you for it depicts your modeling experience and shows the world how beautiful you are - inside and out.  I cherish the time when we shopped for your wedding dress and enjoy the times you come over and get excited about details for your wedding.  Mike was beside himself when he went to purchase your engagement ring.  He was nervous you might not accept his proposal but I knew you would.  The love you share is undeniable and Wayne and I get a kick when you're together and exchange endearments.   

Our joy is insurmountable with the blessing of your baby in a few months.  This is the greatest gift a parent could receive.   I look forward to sharing your pregnancy journey and the arrival of your bundle of joy.  This child will have the best of you and Mike and will surely conquer this world.  I envision Ozis hovering and protecting the little one.  No one will get passed him without his approval; he'll burn circles around them!  I am trying to learn the language of your homeland.   You and your family have made huge strides in the decade since you came here.  Sometimes I think we take our beautiful country for granted when I listen to your passion as you explore what it has to offer and I regain my appreciation. We anticipate memories to come and I thank God everyday for bringing us a daughter to love. 

My wish is for you to be mindful of these profound moments that will take your breath away.

Smagiai ir buti laimingi - laimingiausia gim tadiemio Jums, Margarita - mes tave myliu.   xo

Sunday, December 26, 2010

loungin' around

my slugs

'Tis the day after Christmas.  What a journey this month has been.  We celebrated birthdays, prepared for the holidays, withstood illnesses, baked up a storm and made a ton of memories.  We got socked with lots of snow which made for a very White Christmas.  I took time to watch every one of my holiday classics, listened to all my holiday tunes and nothing else.  Today I take a breath, exhale and do nothing. 
my holiday fart catchers

We plan to lounge around in our fart catchers and watch the Bears and Love Actually.  I achieved my goal to not get stressed, enjoy the moments of the season and conquer my baking challenge.  The only problem is wondering who will eat it all?  Baking is an art and truly enjoyable when you look at it from an artistic angle.  I admire those who have a knack for creating various desserts and now I know why they do it. 
sweet table

Our sweet table is filled with goodies baked by friends, family and me.  Someone save us from the sugar highs.  Today I made meatball sandwiches with provolone cheese for some balance.  I really don't have a sweet tooth and hope our visitors will indulge in all these treats.
Christmas Eve

We had a good time with Wayne's side of the family on Christmas Eve.  His cousin kept us going with all his travel adventures, then he started reminiscing about our youth and the hilarious party days.  We were screaming when he triggered so many moments we forgot and people from our past. There was no shortage of laughter once Bonyok began jogging our memories. Once you remember one incident, ten more pop in mind and the domino effect comes crashing in. 
Christmas Day

Our holiday celebrations are evolving and morphing into new avenues.  Now that our family is growing with future in-laws, we are creating a new journey together.  We spent the afternoon at Margarita's folks in Naperville for some delicious Lithuanian cuisine and bonding with them.  Next year promises to be even more unique for we will have a wee one to entertain us with its wonder of Christmas.  Upon reflection of this year, it has been one of the best in a long time.  I am blessed with the hope and happiness we all shared. 
my goodies

I am very grateful for all the presents bestowed on me personally.  My greatest gift is knowing our boys have someone special to love them.  We still get a kick out of their expressions when they open their gifts - their childlike awe warms my heart.  I will heartily enjoy my pretty blue yoga mat, which I am determined to use faithfully.  I have a fun book to read, a very cool cleaning tool, a boogie board to leave notes for Steve instead of the tiny little notepads, beautiful candles and creative crafts, and look forward to some romantic down time with my better half.  We plan to dine at La Dolce Vita, our favorite restaurant, thanks to our gift certificate; bask in a luxurious night at Champagne Lodge and model some of my gifts in the pink box.  Every woman loves whatever comes in those boxes.  We are so looking forward to our little get-a-way in a few days.  Thanks to all for your thoughtfulness. 

I fervently hope your weekend was filled with joy and that memories were made to cherish forever.  I thank all my facebook friends and family for sharing their special time online, as I feel we were all together on some level via your photos and comments.  Thanks everyone.  May your day be bright...and Go Bears! xo

Saturday, December 25, 2010

merry christmas

An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  But the angel said to them "Do not be afraid.  I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.  This will be a sign to you:  You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."  Luke 2: 9-12

Jesus is the Reason for the Season

Christian Christmas Symbols

Christmas tree...The tree was an evergreen to symbolize God's everlasting love.  They used lights to represent stars of the heavens, and a big star on top to represent the one like the wisemen followed to see Baby Jesus.

Gifts...Giving a gift is an act of love like God's love for us in sending Jesus.  Each gift, as beautiful as we can make it, reminds us of the perfect gift, Jesus Christ as our Saviour.

Candle...To show how we are to be a light unto the world just as Jesus is the light unto the world.

Bell...They are used to announce the birth of the Savior and to call us to worship Him.

Wreath...The wreath's color reminds us of the gracious gifts of god ~ a reminder of the greatest gift in Jesus.  The circle tells of God's unending love for us as He offers us salvation.

Holly...Holly's thorn-like leaves remind us of Jesus' crown of thorns.  The berries symbolize the drops of blood.

A Christmas Prayer

Loving Father, help us to remember the birth of Jesus, that we may share in the song of the angels, the gladness of the shepherds, and the worship of the wise men.  Close the door of hate and open the door of love all over the world.  Let kindness come with every gift and good desires with every greeting.  Deliver us from evil by the blessing which Christ brings, and teach us to be merry with clear hearts.  May the Christmas morning make us happy to be Thy children, and the Christmas evening bring us to our beds with grateful thoughts, forgiving and forgiven, for Jesus' sake.  Amen!  Robert Louis Stevenson


Friday, December 24, 2010

christmas eve

The legend of Santa Claus can be traced back hundreds of years to a monk named St. Nicholas. It is believed that Nicholas was born sometime around 280 A.D. in Patara, near Myra in modern-day Turkey.  Much admired for his piety and kindness, St. Nicholas became the subject of many legends.  It is said that he gave away all of his inherited wealth and traveled the countryside helping the poor and sick.  One of the best known of the St. Nicholas stories is that he saved three poor sisters from being sold into slavery or prostitution by their father by providing them with a dowry so that they could be married.  Over the course of many years, Nicholas's popularity spread and he became known as the protector of children and sailors.  His feast day is celebrated on the anniversary of his death, December 6.  This was traditionally considered a lucky day to make large purchases or to get married.

Santa's reindeer are named Dasher ~ Dancer ~ Prancer ~ Vixen ~ Comet ~ Cupid ~ Donner (Donder) ~ Blitzen and of course the most famous reindeer of all ~ Rudolph.  Did you know that Blitz is German for lightening?  Donner is German for thunder, and Donder is Dutch for thunder.  A courser is a swift horse; a charger.

Clement Clarke Moore's famous poem, which he named "A Visit From St. Nicholas," was published for the first time on December 23, 1823 by a New York newspaper, the Sentinel.  Since then, the poem has been reprinted, translated into innumerable languages and circulated throughout the world.  Legend says he wrote "Twas the Night Before Christmas" on Christmas Eve in 1822 during a sleigh ride home from Greenwich Village after buying a turkey for his family.  Some say the inspiration for Moore's pot-bellied St. Nicholas was the chubby, bewhiskered Dutchman who drove Moore to Greenwich Village to buy his holiday turkey.  Moore read the poem to his wife and six children the night he wrote it, and supposedly thought no more about it.  A family friend heard about it and submitted the poem to the Sentinel.  Because of his "mere trifle" as he called it, 175 years ago Clement Clarke Moore almost single-handedly defined our now timeless image of Santa Claus.

'Twas the Night Before Christmas
(A Visit from St. Nicholas)
by Clement Clarke Moore

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
while visions of sugar plums danced in their heads.
And Mama in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
had just settled our brains for a long winter's nap.

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

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
gave the lustre of midday 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, 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.

An 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 on 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 bowl full 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!"

Embrace the magic of this day ~ may all your wishes be granted. xo

You better watch out, you better not cry,
 better not pout, I'm telling you why...

Santa Claus is coming to town.

He's making a list, checking it twice,
gonna find out who's naughty or nice

Santa Clause is coming to town.

He sees you when you're sleeping,
he knows when you're awake,
he knows if you've been bad or good,
so be good for goodness sake!

Oh! You better watch out, you better not cry,
better not pout, I'm telling you why...

Santa Claus is coming to town!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

keep the faith

lottery scratch off ticket

This has been a horrendous month for many people that I know and love.   Despite  being forewarned that Mercury being retrograde would bring its wrath, I am still having trouble grasping all the glitches taking place - from medical issues to natural disasters to appliances and cars breaking down to roofs leaking and mudslides and snowstorms paralyzing Europe and our beloved Chicago firefighters losing the battle.  Whoa.  One morning I brought Big Daddy to get all the results from his numerous tests and we arrived early, so he pulls out a scratch off ticket for the lottery and we alternated scratching the chance for a winner.  Lo and behold we were one number away from winning $15,000!  We needed 21 and got 20.  The moment we shared that morning is tucked away in my heartfelt memory bank and I will cherish it forever.  We still have one more week to endure the universal tides, but we must keep the faith, for it will be over soon.  This tidal wave of bad news has caused many of us to find ways to cope.  Mine is to conquer my fear of baking, so I did. 
my candy cane cake

In early December I shared a recipe for this cake.  With all the intense pressure going on around me, I collected the ingredients and baking tools throughout the month, mentally preparing to challenge myself to create this dessert for our Christmas Eve celebration.  I already made tons of kolackies, kiss cookies and birthday cakes, but this was the masterpiece to conquer.  I set aside a quiet day when I knew I had no errands to run and began the task uninterrupted.  I listened to my new audiobible, Truth and Life - New Testament and got through three of the 18 cds which provided a comforting serenity while I went through the process.  Thanks, Slidog.  My fear of baking is conquered and the cake is complete.  Stevie put the final candy cane touches to seal the sweet delight. Dunkin' Donuts has a sale on their coffee - four bags for $20 so I added a little peppermint crushings to my morning coffee for an uplifting treat.  This is my testament that perseverence, confidence and encouragement from my cousin Deena and Aunts Diane and Aletha can make it happen.  Thanks y'all. :) 

Steve and his buddies

I am watching the rest of my family members scrambling to wrap and deliver their Christmas gifts.  Steve made his own cards, bought and wrapped his presents and delivered them in a cute Santa hat.  This warmed my heart.  Darcy wrapped her gifts so creatively and Dan woke me up at midnight to ask me to wrap his gift for Darcy.  I groggily looked at the package and determined it is a box of Fannie Mae candy in a plastic bag.  When I woke up I realized it is not and she will love it.  Good job, my son!
We are celebrating Christmas Eve at our home with Wayne's brother, cousin and his family.  Christmas Day we are invited to spend time with Margarita's family so I will make another cake for her birthday, deviating on the one I made yesterday.  We are due for some more treacherous weather so whatever you have to do, please take your time and be careful.  I notice people are cheerier wherever I go.  I look at them eye-to-eye and they all smile and we share happy tidings for the holiday.  Try it.  Enjoy the moments that take your breath away.  Be safe, have fun and be happy.  Christ, our Lord, will be here soon.  xo

Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.  She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus because he will save his people from their sins.  Matthew

Sunday, December 19, 2010

kiss cookies

peanut butter kiss cookies

Last weekend Steve and I went up to Delavan to spend the day with our friends, Janet and Sarah.  We decided to have a cookie share and bake our favorite recipes together and exchange.  I made my kolackys because they never fail to delight the palate and I have decades of practice so I knew they would turn out.  Janet made the PB cookie.  They are easy to prepare and I learned a few tips on baking that day.  Thanks, my friend.

For one batch, ingredients are:

1 1/2 cups sugar
2 cups peanut butter
2 eggs
1 bag hershey kisses

Blend sugar, eggs and peanut butter.  Scoop and roll little balls in a light dusting of sugar.  Place on baking tray leaving room to spread while baking.  Only bake one sheet at a time to avoid burning them.  We put two in the oven and they were burnt, but I took them home anyway and shared them with my brother Bo who likes burnt food, just as I do.  We're weird.  Anyway...Janet says you can put parchment paper on a baking pan to avoid burning anything; good to know.  Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees.  Remove from oven and tenderly place a hershey kiss in the middle.  If you use too much pressure the cookie will crack and fall apart.  Gentle is key; like a little smooch.  You can keep them on the counter but it takes over two hours to meld together; or do what Janet does, and place the tray of cookies in the freezer for 15 minutes.  When you remove them, they are finished and ready to be devoured. 

sweet sarah
I'm sharing a pic of Sarah - all growed up...She plans to pursue a career as a veterinarian.  Having cared for all sorts of animals her whole life, she'll do just fine.

christmas pickle
My Aunt Diane shared this on her blog so I was inspired to begin our own tradition for our family. Most places were sold out, but good old faithful Macy's (still Marshall Field's to us) had two left - one for each of our trees.  Perfect.
 In Old World Germany, the last decoration placed on the Christmas tree was always a pickle...carefully hidden deep in the boughs.  Legend has it that the observant child who found it on Christmas Day was blessed with a year of good fortune...and a special gift.  Now we will begin the fun of this tradition and practice for our future wee one.

Please continue to pray for many of our friends and family undergoing medical issues this month.  The power of prayer is miraculous.  Perhaps our pickles will bring good tidings to them. 

now I have a taste for pickles xo

Saturday, December 18, 2010

happy birthday darcy

Today we celebrate your 23rd birthday!  I vividly remember when we first met while Dan was in the hospital years ago and I fell in love with your vibrant energy.  A few years later, I did exactly what my mom did to me, and nudged Dan to consider you as a mate.  Time passed and your paths connected once again on St. Patrick's day, and the rest is history in the making.

Your effervesence for life is contagious.  Now that we share an abode, our family has deeply bonded with you.  Do you realize how wonderful it is for me to have another female to giggle with and share girlie talk? (code for gossip)  Steve adores you and shares things that I am sure I'll never know about.  Wayne gets a kick out of your little grunts and while we never eavesdrop, occasionally we hear you and Dan chatting and laughing in your love nest.  Everytime Wayne goes downstairs he remarks how nice it is kept (he never said that when Dan was there alone!)

We are blessed to have you as part of our tribe and look forward to making many more memories with you and your family.  Both you and Dan are close to graduating college and will inevitably plan for your future together.  Just know we love having you in our lives and both of you are welcome to stay as long as you need.  Who else will eat my baking creations?  I'll make sure we have lots of hot chocolate and marshmallows this winter so you and Steve can bond while watching scary movies.  I'll burn our scented candles and find more books for us to read together.

As a mom, I cannot thank you enough for bringing out the best in my son.  He communicates more with us, he beams with a big smile whenever you enter the room, he leaves his man cave to take you to dinner and visit the zoo.  I am grateful you connected and that he brought you into our lives.  My wish is for you to feel as much joy and happiness as we do because of your love.  You're an amazing woman, Darcy.  Have a beautiful birthday.  We love you.  xo

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

boy or girl?

In a matter of months, our family will celebrate the birth of a baby.   Mike and Margarita are due to bring joy to our world on or around June 30.  We knew about this happiness on November 10 when we all went to dinner and they gave us the moment that took our breath away, but waited until the coast was clear with doctors to share the good news.  I keep pinching myself to see if this blessing is really being bestowed upon us.   We continued to trust in the Lord and keep the faith that the universe always provides balance.  Our perseverence has paid off in ways I cannot even begin to put into words. 

My Dad has a mantra from Socrates: procreation is the secret to immortality.  He will be the Great Grandpa.  He has been singing "let the sun shine in" for quite sometime - perhaps the universe listened and is granting him the light he is seeking. The baby will know the honor of having Great - Great Aunts and Uncles as well.  I look forward to witnessing Mike as a father and Dan and Steve as uncles.  Look out world! This child symbolizes hope for new beginnings after so many endings and will be a true testament of God's love. We will experience a new life and the cycle will continue forward; each generation carries all the love (and genes) into the next. 

This is the season where children create magic with their unconditional wonder and awe.  Christmas is for kids and should be a time where we rekindle the child in each of us, no matter our age.  The season is very vibrant through the eyes of a child.  Recently we witnessed the cute moment in the classic Christmas movie It's a Wonderful Life, where Mary shares the news with George, and he says "Is it a boy or a girl?"  Her response "Yes!"   Even as we felt a suppression of the magic in recent years, with a newborn on the way, the dying embers will once again burst into flames of felicity.

I hoped one day to become a Grandma,  but now it seems surreal, and I can't believe we should be blessed so soon.  I'll take it as it comes and look forward to the delivery from the white stork, as Margarita puts it. My gratitude holds no bounds.  John Lennon was right on when he shared that life happens when you're making other plans.  The future seems so much brighter with the anticipation of a baby, but for today,  I share our joy with my wish that a flicker of hope will find its way into your heart as it has in ours.  xo

the love you take
is equal to
the love you make

the beatles

let the sunshine in...