Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Ending the Year on a Happy Note

A note to you of course. I am so excited about going to California that I woke up at 4:30 in the morning. That should say something to you, I am not a morning person. I have no cattle, I milk no cows, and my name is not Pioneer Woman, 4:30am I am usually sawing some zzzzzz's, I snore. That's for all the poor ribbed husbands who get bounced and elbowed, my husband says I can make a racket with the best of them. Oh dear, should I have really told THAT secret?

2008 is over tonight, and it is the custom to reflect on the old year and think on the new one.
It has been a very blessed year for us. Piglet graduated and has finished her first semester of college with 2 A's and 3 B's, not to shabby. Tigger is thriving with her tutor. I am trying to quit job hopping and settle down somewhere to build a new retirement fund, shoot it's all on sale these days.

One of the biggest highlights of the year was going to Colombia for the second time. I am praying already because there are more places to go. I would like to go to Western Asia and India. I cannot think of India, and not think of Amy Carmichael. I would love to go there. Hopefully my new position which starts on the 19th will have 3 weeks a year vacation days. I've never really taken big vacations as a nurse but with God all things are possible!

2008 was the year of the blog, that's when I started this obsession and met a lot of you! People I feel like I am getting to know and like! The kids have me on Facebook. I am trying not to get hooked on another computer gig or my life will turn into a keyboard. There is more to living than writing. Isn't there? Food! Laundry! Cleaning! Taking pictures for the blog!

We had visits with lots of friends, Coffee Bean came. Debbie in CA, came with her two girls, and I'm going there today!!!!! Which is why I am awake at this incredible hour. I think I have packed enough stuff not to need anything. We are going to be making almost daily changes in order to visit everyone we can. I'm flying in tonight to Sacramento to see Debbie. I will be with her until the 2nd, when I will go into San Jose and meet up with my Big Daddy who will get in about 7pm. Then we will pick up a rented car and head over our beloved mountain and into Santa Cruz. We will stay with another Debbie for 2 nights, Sat morning is the memorial for our friend. An old pastor we have loved for many years is doing the service. It will be at the church where we met and we have a lot of old friends there, should be quite a day! The next day we will take Norma home, back up to Paradise. We will get a nice visit in the car it's a 5 hour trip and spend a night with her. The next day we will spend in Elk Grove, with Papa's middle son, his family, and new baby girl that we haven't got to snuggle with yet. This poison oak had better be gone by then!

The day after that we travel out of Sacramento to Livermore and see my lovely Auntie Mum, one day there. From there down to San Jose and spend another night with the #1 firstborn son, his wife and family. It's really hard to visit a place where you lived most of your life, there are probably another 10 to 20 people we could really enjoy getting to see, it's just impossible!

It's not over yet. From San Jose we go back over the mountain and UP the mountain to see the youngest son, wife and the 2 year old baby. Pa has seen her once, it'll be my first time. They are expecting another! Pa has a cousin who lives a couple of doors down so we'll have to stop by and say howdy since we are driving right by their house! They live in a cabin with a million dollar view of the mounatins and ocean, you can see Montery Bay in their front yard, it is spectacular, I am hoping for a clear day and sun that day so we can see it!

After all this whirlwind of family and moving about we will go down into Santa Cruz actually still in the mountains, off Branciforte Rd into a serene little cabin setting. We will spend the last leg of our journey with two couples who are some of our closest friends. A three day weekend. By then we will be ready to consume some California wine and take a load off. There will be laughter lots of it and wonderful food. My friend is a fabulous cook! We love to stay with them. They actually came out to see us once, we'd love to have them back, and repay the hospitality!

Now you can understand why I am awake. That's a lot to pack for. It's going to be cold. We are probably going to be "camping out" at the kids houses, no guest rooms. I packed my pillow, my down jacket, my Ugg boots, sweats, and about 6 pairs of pajamas. Not to mention everything else I might want, including a new book for the plane. I'm considering taking my crocheting so I have something to busy myself with. I'm serious, sitting still isn't easy to do! Even though we will be very busy I won't actually have anything to work on. I guess I'll take it. I'm making a baby blanket for the baby, maybe I'll finish it there.

It's almost 6:30, wonder if I can go back to sleep? I doubt it. I probably won't be able to post until I get home unless we post together at Wisteria and Roses, who knows what great fun we'll have together. I just wish I could peruse the gardens but they will be snow covered. Instead we will have pots of hot tea and talk a million miles per hour. Debbie can talk very fast, she's passionate about life and so interesting to have conversations with. If we're not gabbing theirs something to see or somewhere to go. Too little time, but oh what a way to bring in the New Year! Can we celebrate or what?

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

lOOK OUT HEIDI pick up your rewards


For being so cute and kind and FUNNY, not to mention the adorable boys, and wee bity milk dud,smooch it. pick up another reward, you are my friend. the sun on my rainy day kindof a shoot fire, holy crap, huggin, laughin, great woman!

Packed UP

Look out California I am ready to fly! 12 days what a blessing! I will be with Debbie from Wisteria and Roses tomorrow night! Happy New Year to all of you and much love to you bloggy buddies.

Monday, December 29, 2008

One Daughter

The little brother, little sister, and Tigger several years ago, our last family Christmas together.

Jenn with Auntie Mum THEE English Aunt.

Probably J's last family get together, shortly after this the kids were taken into foster care. Look at her joy, the light in her eyes. Lord save her again.

But to know this, we have to go back and start at the beginning.

Being 16 is not the time to have a baby. I knew that, I wasn't stupid or so I thought; so then why was I pregnant? Because I had gone "all the way." The really strange part of this story is that my mother set this up. My mom was loving, sweet, charismatic, charming, and probably bipolar or manic depressive. She decided it was time for me to have a husband and a family of my own so she brought a guy home and moved him into my room. I ain't lying. I was lonely, and well yeah he was kinda cute in a coarse kind of way. He had a steady check, as far as mom was concerned. We had nothing in common except teenage hormones.

That is how my one child was conceived and brought into this world. One daughter. Jenny.
A lot of the time I was really lousy at the parent thing. I'd just take my daughter up to my mom's house and give her to her, for weeks at a time. My baby and my mother had a very special bond. My mama made magic with babies. She was one of those women who knows what a baby wants, when it wants it, and how it wants it, and they quit crying. Miracle baby worker. I was 17 and my baby skills were on the slim side. So my teen solution was give the baby lady, the baby.
My mom would only go along with that too a point. She had migraines and those would usually get me a call to come pick up your baby.

We had strange lingo, when the baby was mine she said your baby. When it was hers it's Nanna's baby, Nanna love it to death...

The poor kid was pretty mixed up. My mom's ability to not only care for her but also provide for her made me feel very inadequate. She had a great room set up for her I had a crib in the living room with me next to the refrigerator with the TV on top of it.

I can't really remember how old Jenny was when I met the hippies. Now I am thinking do I really want to go here? If you don't want to know, quit reading and come back another day.
That will work. I can't skip this part because it helped and hurt our situation and it may have had a huge part of my daughters struggles.

Hippie women presented options to me in parenting styles. They showed me back packs, and baby slings, simple ways to haul a child around and simple ways to get places. While they showed me how they did their mothering thing all calm, cool and groovin, they also encouraged me to step into the roll of being my child's mother,and included in that, "here have a puff of this."

I took the plunge. I chose the child and the hippies, and began trying to make a life for us. A life that had fringe elements in it. It seemed ok at the time, kind of a everybody is doing it deal. I went with them because they supported me. Instead of taking my problem away they helped me solve my own, that so much of this occurred stoned seemed a minor issue.

Fast forward, I'm having a party. Jenny is in a play pen and a bunch of guys are laughing. The way they are laughing is alarming. They are getting my two year old drunk. I freaked, party over, go home. Poor baby. The mother is looking for a hole deep enough to crawl into.

Fast forward, I get a phone call from my junior higher, she is sick can I come get her? She was spending the night with some friends and got drunk. She had the spins, did I know how to help? I put her foot on the floor. She was funny and pitiful at that moment and I didn't want to come down hard on her then; because she was so awful sick, as in green skin, matching vomit sick.
We discussed it later. She buffaloed me it wasn't the first time.

Fast Forward, at 15 she starts to run away from home frequently. Home is now stable, mom quit with any fringey stuff years before. Mom as in me, has become a new believer during these years and is born again. Before Jenn is 16 she is pregnant. My heart sinks. Different people are telling me she has problems with drugs and alcohol. I don't believe them.

Fast forward, a tiny premature baby enters our lives. I repeat my moms behaviors and basically care for this child better than her mom can which makes my daughter furious and despise me.
Her hippies are into crack cocaine, not a pit of the old evil weed. It's seriously kicked up a notch.
I do see a pattern emerging here in generational dynamics. But I don't see a solution.

Fast forward,next year another baby, when these 2 little girls are 3 and 4 they come to live with me for the first time and this will last years. Mom is hitting one of many bottoms, that are never low enough.

Fast forward, the girls have bloomed, they are learning and getting secure, they are a joy to me.
Their mom gets pregnant again and wants to marry this guy. Mom has declared she has recommitted her life and is getting right with Jesus. Can they live with us? Big decision here.
Did not happen quickly a lot of thought and prayer went into this.
We said yes.

We lived in a huge 4 story house that had enough space for everyone who lived there to have their own space. We asked Jenn not to be sharing a bed with M until they were married while under our roof. They agreed to it, yeah right, in your dreams. It wasn't long before the 4th pregnancy was announced.

This is a hit list so far of the trauma and drama that brought us to where we are now. There are whole chapters between these little bleeps. What I want to focus on is showing you who my babies mother is.

When full of her love for the Lord she did street ministry in down town Santa Cruz. She shared food stamps with the hungry, invited them to church and talked with them about how they got there; and how much God loved them. She was amazing. She took the Word of God so literally that in her mind if Jesus Christ himself spent the majority of his time with the unwanted wounded of the streets, then she would be there too. She chose to roll model her ministry after Jesus. That's my kid go straight for the top. We shared a lot of good times during this period and we were close.
Close enough that when an opportunity came up for an apt for them, a them that is married, it was a natural process to have my two girls try to go again with their mother. They were 7 and 9.

What came out later was how much they hid from us, drinking drugs,abuse. A big black closet full of secrets. ugly secrets.

Daughter breaks off contact with us. No communication.
We pray in tears, afraid , "Lord deliver them from evil."

Fast forward; Tigger and Piglet are sent to us after 6 months in foster care. The little sister and brother are given to the Dad's custody. He is currently homeless and they are with their mother. This family is now separated, and the two older girls moved from their home and siblings to a foreign land, Mississippi. They went into immediate culture shock and just freaked.

Learning to cast all my cares upon you, Jesus. This time we have a secure home. Their mom is not in their lives to hurt them or manipulate. That is a plus, the minus is they love her, she is rejecting them and that hurts.

They are thriving, growing, adjusted, and basically happy, in an uphill/downhill/ teenager way.

Piglet has just had a huge victory of faith. It reminded me of her mother. I had fear for her mother, because I saw that the enemy of our souls wanted to take her out, destroy her testimony. I was so blessed to watch Piglet take a tough spiritual test and pass it so well.
A little fear came creeping in, can she handle it? Will it push her? Will it make her crave these moments? Jenn had the potential to be a huge evangelist and work with masses of people. Unlike her mom whose little blog reaches 20 people on a really busy day. This girl could have impacted masses of people. It was there we could see it, and then the lights went out. She withdrew, she turned around, and went back to the prodigal pigpen, to wallow another time....

She has not escaped yet. At times we thought she was getting her life together. It is our hope.
The truth is we don't know anything anymore. That's the way she wants it.

How does God want it? I don't know but let me get out of the way. He knows what she needs.

I'm not really sure about this post. I want you to know Jenn to pray for her. She hates it when I talk about her and if by some chance she stumbled onto this she'd be mad. So I have tried to just make a list, a non threatening recounting of the time line, with everybody's unwise choices starting with my own. I want you to know there was a time when Piglets Mommy was a prayer warrior, a teen leader, a camp counselor, and always her beloved street ministry.

Lord please restore the years the locusts have eaten. More importantly there was a time when I had a daughter who wanted to be near me. She liked to lie beside me in the bed and talk. She thought deeply, was searching for truth but war raged in her flesh, drove her to distraction, to hasty decisions , to a path separate from home.

My prayer is for this broken families healing. For my daughter who I miss, for her daughters who also miss her. Whatever she has going in her mind to fuel this mess, Lord I ask that you'd put the fire out. Protect them, keep them safe, keep them for yourself and don't let the enemy touch even so much as a hair of their heads. BUT do as you need to do, to bring her back into a right relationship with you, and then I pray for us. She was my only child. Only God can heal our hearts.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Maybe I'm Amazed-(no maybe)

The weather is wacked, I turned on the AC because it's hot in here. This is the same place that had a cold front blow through and we were in the twenties. Hard to believe isn't it?

But wacky weather doesn't hold a candle to what happened to Piglet this week. I believe that somewhere I have mentioned that my oldest, littlest, likes to keep busy and works at a hip deli.
The Newks, Primos, Panera, kind of happenin place. She works her little keester off.

The night before Christmas she came home and went straight up to Papa, she had a lot on her mind. She called a family meeting. I'm thinking to myself, what's up is she engaged? No, Nannie chill out. Well, it could happen, she's adorable. What's a Nannie to think?

She was very serious so I quit with the kidding around. I really couldn't believe my ears, you won't either. Piglets story started with her sharing that her bank account was overdrawn. Oh dear not good, sounds like Nannie math. I have learned however to shut up in these sessions and just wait. It completely goes against my nature not to start in with the, "if you can't add and subtract close the stinkin bank account." You know the kind, gentle, sympathetic, approach, NOT. She elaborated that not only was she overdrawn by a hundred dollars she thought that God was impressing upon her to help the children of Africa.

You guessed it, this is the part where I go ballistic and talk about starting out by helping yourself, learn to add and subtract and be responsible with your money. Actually I had overdrawn accounts more than I care to confess, which is why Papa manages the money. My excuse is that I'm dyslexic and easily mess up decimal points. Your not buying that? Neither does the bank. As usual I digress. I should rename my blog, "I digress." This story is not about the dyslexic grandma. It's about Piglet.

Piglet continued, I prayed about what God was telling me, and told Him that if he would help me fix my bank account and give me the money to help the children in Africa then I would do it.

"So today I'm waiting on this man and his daughter and he offers me a tip, and it was a hundred dollar bill!"
" I was so freaked out that I just left it on the table!"

"All the other servers are saying to me, aren't you going to pick up the money?"

"I went back to the table and the man said to me, "You haven't taken your gift."

" I looked at him and said, "Are you a Christian?'

He replied, "Yes, I am" and smiled.

From here Piglet started talking faster. She relayed to the man how she was overdrawn and how she had prayed, and that God wanted her to help the children of Africa. She said that he picked up the tip and placed it into her hand. She continued to wait on them. When he left he pressed a ROLL of money into her hand and said,

"This is for the children of Africa, dear girl."

He gave her $700.

In the middle of Mississippi in a deli.

Go ahead, pinch yourself.

Ok so now the dear girl is asking her Pa and her Nan what to do. She says that because of her prayer and what the man said that she thinks the right thing to do is give all of it minus the first hundred for her account to the children of Africa.
Now this is where her Nannie gives her the godly advice.
Actually no, I didn't. I was thinking this girl drives this little funky car and has little to no money and school starts in a couple of weeks and that we could use the help with books. After all if this guy has so much money he can send money to Africa without going through her. I mean shoot fire, this was a god send to help her, wasn't it?

Pa and Piglet looked at me like I had come from another planet. Nannie, she says, "he told me the money was for the children in Africa, he didn't say it was for me."

I was speechless.

The girl has integrity. In my heart, I heard, "this is a test." I left the room and went to the bathroom. I have a lot of arguments with the Lord in the bathroom. Lord why would you do this? "It's a test." Well Lord, I'm glad you didn't do this to me because I'd flunk.

"Do you think this my last $700?"

"No, Lord, it is not."

I went out of the bathroom and apologized to Piglet. I told her to do what she thought was right. I was of course late, because she and her Pa had already decided that.

With the intranet a person can do things immediately. Piglet went downstairs and gave the designated funds to the children of Africa. Minus her overdraft. Immediate obedience.

Somewhere, no credit to me, something has gone very right. This is the child of my daughter, the daughter who hasn't spoken to us in years, the crack addict. This is the child who I have prayed for. I was so humbled. Awed. This child acted with great faith. There is no telling what God will be able to do in her life. Amazing.

and somewhere in Africa, poor children are receiving food, warmth, maybe medicine, and hope. God multiplies gifts. This gift may go on to do huge unimaginable things, that we won't know about until our King comes back for us.

He pressed the gift into her hand, "for the children." and she obeyed.

It's a beautiful thing. Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Eve & Morning

We took a plethora of pictures. Notice I used a high school level word, aren't you impressed? When I saw the picture of me at the table of food I decided to take charge of the camera. No satsuma wrestler got me beat. I need a new song, I like Dories songs, "keep on swimming," and how about "they'll be no eating here tonight your on a diet?" Tigger and I need to get ourselves on "The Biggest Loser." We are competitive enough maybe that would motivate us. How about that fruitcake? I make fruitcake people like to eat!

On to nicer topics. Do you see the photo of the linens? I hope you can make it out. My lovely favorite Auntie sent a beautiful satin slip case with embroidered needlework handkerchiefs that my Grandmother made and her mother collected. she also gave each lady of the house a special pin. Papa got some hankies too, a real hankie affair. Tigger pulled off the big surprise on me. When I had the jewelry party she played sneaky and took some upstairs to Papa to buy. That completely surprised me I did not expect that. The girls loved their presents and their stockings, it wasn't a large amount of gifts but everyone liked their little happies and we really had one of the best Christmas celebrations ever.

Today we received news that one of our friends is expecting a baby. I also got a call from an old friend who promised to start blogging. Last but not least the countdown is on for New Years Eve at Debbie's house and I can't even believe my blessed fortune for that!! It is my hope that all of you are celebrating and basking in the love and joy of your families and friends. Merry Christmas and happy new year!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Why Am I Surprised?

I really did wonder if anybody would post on Christmas? I did and um everybody it seems has posted. No missives, but at least a Merry Christmas. I think we had one of our best in spite of me waking up with poison oak on my face, neck, and chest. Think my sweet little kitty gave me a present. Speaking of presents we had some very thoughtful gifts and will be posting pictures of those later.
For tonight let me recap with the joyful Christmas Eve when we decided to go ahead and open gifts to sleep in. These are teenagers, I agreed because I didn't want to wait any more and I also knew their stocking were going to be the best part the next morning. I also figured that I would wake up and if they weren't up, Nannie would wake them and tell them Santa had been here! Actually that is exactly what happened. I being the old grown up antique relic of a grandmother ailing; woke them all at 7:30am THAT is sleeping in on Christmas! I've improved, really. This year the girls loved everything and they pulled off some surprises on me! But I am getting ahead of myself. I want to include photos. My darling Auntie Mum stole the show this morning with her lovely gift of family heirlooms, it's a hanky affair.
I caved on Christmas Eve day and got Papa a gift, just didn't quite make it. Our friends couldn't come over they had car trouble and wound up stuck on the gulf coast. We improvised and feasted on all the food and goodies, cake and goodies, candy and goodies that were to be found in prolific abundance around here. I stayed in my pajamas today drank eggnog with a bit of spirits and the girls and I gabbed and watched movies and relaxed. We got up to eat fudge. They were quite content and very pleased.
We spent some family time reading from the book of Luke about the birth of the baby Jesus and pondered on that, such a humble needy start. We played cards, Go Fish, and also drove up to the Canton square to see the display of lights, really lovely.
It was a merry time had by all, and as Tigger has been quoting since we watched a particular favorite film of mine; "God bless us every one."

Monday, December 22, 2008

Goodies, Gab, & Giggle.

We made shortbread for our all girls party today. We asked two different families that we know to come over with their daughters so we could drink hot mulled cider and munch goodies, gab and giggle, which is exactly what we did.

The shortbread is pretty and tasty but it wasn't perfect. It was softer in the center. I like shortbread to be crisp, like Walkers from Scotland. But it was the first time I ever tried to make this. I have several recipes and will try them all to see which works the best. I love the precision of baking. I cook very loosely, and really don't measure much for cooking. Baking however has to be accurate to obtain predictable results. It's a whole different world and actually very enjoyable.

It was FREEZING cold today in the 20's I think. Lost a lot of plants today in the garden they just shriveled up and turned into plant goo, which looks a lot like nose goo, but we won't go there.

Pretty nice spread don't you think? I baked a lot yesterday and forgot the camera. I make fruitcake that people actually really like to eat. I use dried fruits instead of candied fruits that taste weird. The cakes I made yesterday were made with Dried Bing cherries and blueberries, orange pieces, dates, walnuts, and pecans. I used rum for the liquid and won't brush them because I like the cake texture and the crust. Presoaking the fruit gives a lot of flavor to the cake. Yesterday I forgot the baking powder and wondered what would happen. They turned out fine. I guess all that creaming and whipping put enough air into the batter to have some rise occur. They are actually very good, one whole loaf dissapeared today.

We had a fire and the heater both. Our friends came over with two coats on.

By the way Piglet cleaned her room. She did a major clean up, it looks totally different. I am very impressed.

It was a very relaxing and lovely day. Piglet and Tigger made me promise not to speak of any bodily functions. I did promise. When this lovely young girl told a story about her dogs green fog, I just cracked up. A party is not a party without some mention of noxious fumes. Their dog really lays some bombs, that require fans to air out a room. I would be taking a dog that stinky to the vet. I don't know what my girls were worried about. Five teenagers and 3 moms and they want me to make promises? They'll figure it out one of these days.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

What's Cooking?

I'm thinking about Christmas dinner. Our friends are vegans. They will break their habits for special occasions but I was thinking of going meatless. No dairy and no sugar is impossible but no meat would be alright. I think, maybe.
I still have one more pumpkin from my Halloween clearance purchases. Pumpkins are awesome. They just keep. You can bake them, roast them, puree them, make them into soup, into pie, into bread and into cookies. What a great squash. So why do we just chop them up into funny faces and put them in the trash? These are edible! They taste good. Better yet they were $1 each. Not bad in today's uncertain economy.
I need some inspiration for my menu though. I was thinking about making a pumpkin soup with ginger and coconut milk, it's really wonderful and a variety of salads, some bread and then maybe a cheesecake for desert. Is that really a Christmas dinner though? It seems to be missing the entree.
It seems to be missing the pork, or the turkey, you know the meat! If they don't eat meat, and two out of my four don't like meat, why cook meat? The two overweight people in this family do not need the extra calories. So what would be a main dish? I'd like to make that pork stew NP posted that has a whole bottle of wine in it, now that's getting festive. Back to meat. No, back to meatless. Anybody have any suggestions?

Friday, December 19, 2008


"My Father owns the cattle on a thousand hills, and I believe I own at least one. I'm rich in faith and a whole lot of love, I got more than my share," these are words of an old gospel song that I love. The song is about our blessings and our future home in glory. One of our dearest friends in this world passed away last week. We both desired in a most excruciating way to go to California for his home going celebration.

Think about that for a minute. Just how possible is it to get LAST minute tickets to California during holiday season; not one but two major holidays? I also am lining up a new job and didn't know when orientation would begin. If we were going to go then we wanted to have time to see people, like family and friends and the two beautiful new GRANDBABIES that I haven't even seen yet. Pop has seen one of them once. I was really stressing out about this and all of a sudden I just stopped. I stopped with the anxiety and just prayed. Lord if you want me to go then work this out.I really quit, my heart quit aching, my stomach unwound and I took a deep breath, and let it out.
No sooner had I finished the exhale, but the phone rang and it was the recruiter at the hospital where I am going to work. (I've got a GREAT job!) My orientation won't begin until the 19th of January. My husband had booked tickets for the 2nd to the 12th. While browsing SOUTHWEST the only airline and the only way to fly; I noticed that if I left on the 31st and went to Sacramento I could get a better flight and go see my darling DEBBIE in CA and all her lovely family. So I called her to see if that works for them and it does and we are going to celebrate the New Year together which is just plain STINKIN COOL!!!!

Then we will go to SANTA CRUZ, oh lawd be still my heart. I can't believe it. We are going to be hopping about seeing all of the sons and the new babies and some old friends. I am going to go to the beach even if it's raining. I have got to go to the Palomar hotel and eat corn tortillas and walk around downtown and maybe go to Logos used bookstore and pick up a read. But even if I don't actually get to do any of those things, the main things will be the family and the friends. We are so grateful. We are sorry to lose our dear friend but also have joy for him.

I am sure that he is riding his beloved Sam, a beautiful horse that was 17 hands high and lived until he was over 30 years old. Tom was an incredibly special person and fine man. He was a genuine cowboy and also a police officer. He rode Sam as a patrol horse threw the Santa Cruz mountains of UCSC campus. He also worked with the kids camp at Camp Hammer. We loved him so much. He and his dear wife really have a lot of credit for my husband and I making our marriage work. It seemed like every time we were really on the rocks in those early years T & N called and said they were coming to town and wanted to stay with us. Every time we had a wonderful visit and wouldn't even remember what the fuss was about; we were back in love. We celebrated many Christmas mornings together, My hunny and Tom trying to put together toys for the girls. They really are some of our very best friends and for my husband this man was as close as a brother or closer.

Here we are. We are going to California together. We got great prices on the flights of our favorite airline. We will spend some time with our most favorite people in this world, and see the new babies. That my friends is a huge gift, huge, and it's just like Tom to bring something wonderful into our lives. He gave us love and laughter all the years we knew him and in his homegoing he brought us another special gift. God is so good.

To celebrate I'm thinking that I will give away one of our aromatherapy pillows. Just leave a comment nothing fancy. Will post a winner on Christmas Eve. I'll try and get a photo up of them they smell fabulous and feel wonderful when you heat them up a few minutes in the microwave. Kat needs one for her migraines. I'll have to think on that. I'm feelin the love people....

Thursday, December 18, 2008

How Busy Do We Get?

We went to First Baptist of Jackson's "Carols by Candlelight," the 39th presentation. I personally am so grateful for at least one church having traditional Christmas music. what's so unpopular about "Silent Night?" We also went to our own churches concert which was modern. I could appreciate their energy and effort, but I love the songs I hear, that I know by heart. I still cry when I hear a beautiful performance of "Oh Holy Night." These are the real colors.

I have been baking. Baking cookies and almond tarts. I think I may have developed the perfect chocolate "rum" ball. I combined my recipe with Noble Pigs Zinfandel Port balls. I added the unsweetened cocoa to my recipe that calls for melted chocolate (just scroll down the recipe is posted) I used the port, and added more than the 1/2 cup just a little at a time to get the right consistency which is a lot like pie crust. It needs to be moldable but not so wet that it's sticky and gooey. My hands stayed clean while I rolled the little balls. These are the BEST I have ever made. The Port has a berry flavor that is mild and mixes so delightfully with the chocolate. I never thought I would give up my bourbon. But this really is perfect, and Cathy P. It would be very cool if you'll give it a try. I'd like to know what you think.

The almond tart that I shared last time is a huge hit. If you like Danish pastry. It may be the easiest and best recipe I EVER share! Seriously it tastes like it's full of marzipan. My aunt thought I bought it, she couldn't believe that I made it. They are so easy to make, totally fool proof. The secret is real almond extract and real butter. With all the parties and cookie exchanges I was looking for something fast and easy. I found a recipe for English Toffee cookies they are easy to make, and turned out awesome, they are crispy, nutty, and do have a toffee flavor. Even better 1 batch makes 6 dozen.


First introduced in 1960, by "Kitchen Cabinet," they are very reminiscent of crunchy toffee candy but are cookies. You just spread the dough in a shallow pan to cook and cut into pieces. Come on CBW this one is for you!

1 cup butter (use real butter)
1 cup sugar
1 egg yolk- save the white for brushing
cream this until very fluffy.
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 cups all purpose flour (I always use unbleached high quality flour, Gold Medal is not the best)
blend dough well. Spread into well greased baking sheet with an edge. Brush the dough with the beaten egg white and cover with the finely chopped nuts. Gently pat the nuts into the dough with the palms of your hands.
1 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans

Bake at 275 for one hour, mine were done at 45mins. I go by smell. My nose knows, when something is finished. Cut the cookies while warm let cool and then remove from pan. Mine stuck. Maybe a sheet of parchment would be good, or I let them cool too long. We got them out but it was tricky. My family went crazy over these. Sometimes less is more!
I used unsalted butter and it didn't taste right so I added salt. Just using salted butter would work just right.

For the grand finale of this post I thought I would share with you what Piglet's room looks like, lest you think too highly of my "clean house." I do live with teenagers. She has been making an effort lately to keep up but this is how she likes it. The kid works almost 20 hours a week and goes to college, so she gets a bit of slack. Her first report card she got 3 B's and 2 A's.

Unbelievably to me she got a B in English because her teacher disagreed with her point of view regarding God. Piglet is very forthcoming in her beliefs and shared her point of view in her work. Actually the assignment was to write about something you felt passionate about. It made me mad. When you teach you should be able to judge a work by it's structure and style, not downgrade it when you disagree. Grrrrr. Piglet however did not want her Nannie marching down to the school, to give the teacher the what too, and where for.
Is freedom of speech only for those who ARE NOT Christians? Can you tell this made me a bit hot?

In the spirit of Christmas and forbearance, we will honor Piglet's wishes and accept the B, which is still a good grade. English would've been an easy A for her, she writes well. Without further ado, the pictures, ta da!!


Friday, December 12, 2008

These Are A Few,...

I cut a fresh bouquet of cedar, red maple branches and pyracanthus berries.

This little Santa is about 2 inches tall. He may be nearly 100 years old. He came from Denmark and his beard and hair are real mink. I adore it.

It snowed yesterday.

These are some of my favorite ornaments. The little nativity scene is old and actually has more parts than is traditional. There were more than 3 kings and they didn't come until much later, but I digress.
We baked today. I made Noble Pigs ginger cookies they are divine. We also made the port balls and they are very subtle and smooth not like my stouter version of brandy or rum. Piglet is back to sewing and whipped up a loaf of banana bread.

See the little mouse in half a walnut shell? "He's so cute!

We also made these almond tortes. They are extremely easy and so fine. They taste like almond heaven. Notice please I found something dirty in the house, the oven needs cleaning. "Mr. Hunny Do?"

Recipe for Almond Torte. makes one.
3/4 cup melted butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
2 eggs
2 tsps real almond extract.

Stir together all ingredients, line pie plate or iron skillet with foil sprinkle with sugar. apply batter and gently spread. Top with generous portion of slivered almonds and sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 350 30 to 40 mins until light golden brown and slightly puffed. This makes a lovely gift.

My Bourbon Balls

8 oz semi sweet chocolate melted. 60 pulverized vanilla wafers, 1 cup chopped pecans, 2/3 c sugar, 1/2 c bourbon, rum, brandy, or port, CHOOSE ONE!
1/4 c light Karo. Mix all together. shape into little one inch balls and roll in powdered sugar. Best if left to age a bit.

Almost forgot about the slippers. They are my last pair. Grandma knitted us slippers almost every year until her arthritis got to bad. She made a lot of things and used very unique color combination's. She never wasted any yarn. I learned to crochet but for the life of me the knitting does not come easy. I really wish I knew how to make these. And mustard plasters. Who makes candles? does anyone make soy based scented candles? I think it would be fun to try. Ummm yes I'm almost off of the steroids. I'll be more coherent soon, and much less productive. Hope we get the oven cleaned first.

So what's going on at your house?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Awards and Memes

Angela and Coffee Bean tagged me awhile back.
And Pick up your award too.

Seven things I did before:
1. Jazzercise.
2. A travelling hair business on my bicycle.
3. Make good pie crust.
4. Play hookie from school
5. Watched TV.
6. Once a Month Cleaning
7. Shop at Nordstroms
Seven things I do now:
1. Blog.
2. Drive and buy gas.
3. cook food and eat it.
4. Take digital pictures.
5. Blog.
6. Read good books.
7. Think about mt next blog post.
Seven things I would like to do:
1. Write something really great, and publish it.
2. Be more patient.
3. Missions trips, lots of them!
4. See the girls graduate from college and be married and happy.
5. Relax.
6. Manage money better.
7. Spend less and create more.
Seven things that attract me to my husband:
1. He prays for us.
2. He is faithful.
3. He makes me laugh and the kids too and he tells the same dumb jokes over and over.
4. He is mine.
5. He is a great kisser.
6. He likes to dance around in the kitchen with me.
7. He helps me, a lot, he is great at "hunny do"
Seven favorite foods:
1. Big salads with all kinds of stuff thrown in! (ditto)
2. ginger cookies
3. Grandma's food all of it.
4. Homemade from scratch anything. Pie cookies, cakes, casseroles, stews, soups....
5. chocolate.
6. English tea with cream and stevia
7. chocolate rum/bourbon balls.
Seven things I say most often:
1. I'll be off the computer in a couple minutes.
2. Not now.
3. In a minute.
4. Can't you wait? I'm blogging.
5. Where are you?
6. Where did all the chocolate go?
7. Whose been messing up my kitchen?
Nine people I am tagging:
Grandma J
and anyone else who justs wants too!

and pick up your awards.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Clean As A Whistle!

We cleaned house today. Major clean. Pa helped. The whole place is spotless even the JUNK drawer! Do not however be unduly impressed. I am on steroids. If I could live on steroids I could conquer the world. Well at the very least my house would be clean.
The next thing is to bake those killer ginger cookies that Noble Pig posted, I LUV ginger cookies!
Maybe I'll relax. I can relax, it usually requires some kind of a drug. OK Debbie you so nailed me.
These days I am amped to the gills and when I wean off I am going to be tired.
It was however great to listen to Christmas music and have a very productive day.
Anybody know how to make candles?

Monday, December 8, 2008

Now I Can Relax!

We went to the post office today. I was going to photograph the pile of parcels that were going to be a small little happy just for the youngest grandchildren. It actually was pretty contained. Our pastor brought back beautiful hand made ornaments from Turkey and we decided to get each of our adult children one of those. So we ended up with a pretty big production in terms of the postal service. I also wrote a few Christmas cards, just a few.

I would like to send you, my bloggie buddies a little handwritten card, no obligation to return the gesture. I promise no hokie generic letter, I'll save that for a blog post! Bwahaha. Actually I am rekindling some of the more old fashioned Christmas joys and would just like to include you in the cheer. Some of you that have little ones may get an additional happy. Karen over at Rocking Pony, I would so love to send a little greeting to your precious children!

I'm completely finished with shopping. We are having a few presents can't avoid them all together because the girls were not raised that way. They have had some difficult news regarding their mother, sister and brother; so a little fun is on the menu. They will have great stockings this year. I would like to be getting their stocking stuffers!

Now the baking can start. I'm hoping to have a few girlfriends over with their daughters and have a hot cocoa and cookie gab fest. We are also hoping to bring our single mom's little boy, ( our little adopted family) over to make home made dough ornaments. He is 9 and we thought he would enjoy that. Definitely will be a photo moment.

Sunday is the Carols by Candlelight service an incredible musical production by a local church that just makes my Christmas every year. It's a spectacularly beautiful production with both traditional and contemporary music. the grand finale of this amazing choir of several hundred people is Handles Messiah the Alleluia chorus which always brings me to tears with it's magnificence.

It was just awesome to be home today. I am still so short of breath and wheezing like a whistle but this too will pass. I'm so content and enjoying the preparations because I am not allowing it to get out of hand. Everything so far has been fun, and that is the way Christmas should be.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Christmas cards and greetings!

I have big news. I resigned from my job today. I had really prayed last night for the Lord to give me direction and it was crystal clear. I may already have another job lined up to start in January.
They gave me two weeks pay without working; pretty sweet! Considering I need a rest and to literally catch my breath....

Let's just say I am so grateful, I HATED that job! I am a nurse. Now I know that sales is not for me. My gift is mercy, not money.

This means I have time to bake, write, and I feel better already!

Our family has decided to give a gift to honor Jesus this year and we are all praying about what it should be. Please go see Coffee Beans post today!

I would love to send each one of you on my blog roll a Christmas greeting. If you would like to receive it send me your address;

Tomorrow I am cooking for a party and will post the fixins.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

When Insomnia Strikes....

She is kissing me.

Take pictures in the dark.
Pretend you are asleep and aim and hope. See those concentration wrinkles? I am trying to take pictures in the dark and not bother the cat.

The cat decided to lick my face.
she sleeps on my shoulder.
I'm thinking she needs a new bed buddy since I can't shake my asthma off and cats are a big no-no. I look at her and tell her, "You are very cute, very sweet, and oh so lovable; but you are no curly black haired standard poodle.

After photographing us we took pictures of my little tree. Some of the pictures were of my nostrils. I mean really you could look up there and see brains or maybe something else worse than that.

This is my cute little tree. I thought you might be able to see the time on the clock. 3:30am and not the bed that I should be in, sleeping away, but I had a shot of steroids and my eyes are big headlights.
I love the little birdies, partridge in a pear tree or baby quail. I think they look like little quail. Everything on this tree is miniature, it's a cutie about the size of a table lamp and I love it in my room, so cozy.

Then in the mail today was something new. Something I never knew before. some of you are this smart I am sure! But not me. I didn't know this.

The 12 Days of Christmas explained!

What in the World do leaping lords, French hens, swimming swans, and especially the Partridge in a Pear Tree have to do with Christmas? Today I found out.

From 1558 until 1829 Roman Catholics in England were not permitted to practice their faith openly.

Someone during that era wrote this carol as a catechism song for young Catholics. It has two levels of meaning: the surface meaning and the hidden meaning known only to the members of their church.

Each element in the carol has a code word for a religious reality, which the children could remember.

The partridge in the pear tree was Jesus Christ.

The two turtledoves were the Old and New Testaments.

Three French hens, stood for faith, hope and love.

The four calling birds the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

The five gold rings recalled the Torah of the law, the first five books of the Bible written by Moses.

The six geese a laying stood for the six days of creation.

Seven swans a swimming represented the seven fold gifts of the Holy Spirit:
Prophesy, serving, teaching, exhortation, contribution, leadership, and mercy.

The eight maids a milking were the eight beatitudes.

Nine ladies dancing were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit:
Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.

The ten lords a leaping were the Ten Commandments.

The eleven pipers piping were the eleven faithful disciples.

The twelve drummers drumming symbolized the twelve points of belief in the Apostles Creed.

So there is your history lesson for the day.

Tonight I intend to sleep. This riddle is now solved. This information was printed in my father's bulletin at his Lutheran church and their source not given so I do not have a reference to quote.
I am assuming the facts are correct, it makes sense.