Friday, December 25, 2009


I spent Christmas in North Carolina with my kids and grandkids and had a wonderful time. I took my oldest two grandsons to lunch, just the three of us. I spent quality time with my son and his wife and with my two daughters and their husbands. We had a great time playing the Wii, watching movies, playing cards, and just clowning around. I made my family pose for pictures in the shirts and caps I got them from Cheers in Boston.

I also snapped some photos of my grandkids with the special books I gave them for Christmas. They're special because the illustrations were done by my friend Natalie! And to top it off, she sent personalized book plates to include in each of the books. They're really special.

I love Christmas. I love gathering the gifts throughout the year, stashing them away, pulling them out and wrapping them, imagining the looks of surprise and delight when they're opened. But most of all I love Christmas with my family.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Home Cooked Goodness

I'm sharing dinner with my sister tomorrow as part of Christmas since I'll be away during the actual holiday. So I made chicken, mushroom, and wild rice soup. It's amazingly easy and soooo good. You have to start with an onion. I'm partial to red onions. The recipe calls for 1 to 2 cups of chopped onion. I don't really measure.

The next step is to saute the onion until it's tender in about a half stick of butter. Once the onions are nice and tender, go ahead and add 2 to 3 cups of sliced fresh mushrooms.

Cook until the liquid from the mushrooms cooks off, add about a half cup of flour and stir in to make a paste. I used Gold Medal Wondra, quick mixing flour. Then add 2 to 3 cans of chicken stock to the mushroom and onion paste. (I actually used more) I used ready made chicken stock. Meanwhile, cook up a package of Uncle's Ben's long grain and wild rice. Add the cooked rice to the soup.

Next add some chicken. I usually just go to the store and buy a whole roasted chicken, take it off the bone, and add it to the soup. But tonight, I was in a hurry so I just used the some chicken breast short cuts from Perdue.

See what I mean about easy and fast? You can use ready made stuff to put it all together in a jiffy. Add some sherry. I added some drinking sherry to the pot and added some to my wine glass too. You might as well have some Christmas cheer while you're making the soup, and the sherry really adds a nice flavor.

Now, that it's simmered nicely for about about an hour and a half, it's ready to eat if you want. I like to make it the day ahead to let all the flavors meld together. It will be super yummy tomorrow with the fresh loaf of rosemary bread I bought to go with it. If it thickens a lot over night, you can add more stock. It's like a never ending pot of soup sometimes.

It's a bowlful of yummy. Try some. You won't be sorry.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Rainy Sunday

I woke this morning to a steady rain and felt the chill as I pulled off my comforter. Today is a perfect day to do the laundry work on scrapbooking. I'm finishing up some special projects for Christmas that I'll post after I give them as gifts. I think they turned our great, but I just have a few more pages to work on. I love blustery, rainy days, especially when I don't have to get up at 4 a.m. to drive in to work in it.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Have You Ever Kissed a Frog

I'm sure you've all heard the saying, you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find your prince. Well, I've kissed a lot of . . . let's say, what I thought were frogs that devolved into toads after time. And I still haven't found my prince. Although at my age, I've kind of stopped looking. You're probably wondering what the moral of this story is. I don't actually have one. But in a matter totally unrelated, my birthday is the 20th of December.

My sister called and asked if I wanted to out to dinner for my birthday. Of course, I did! I love to eat out. I know it's too early, but I'm planning to be out of town for the holidays, so she thought we should celebrate early. She and her husband and I went to Sweetwater Tavern here in Ashburn. It's one of my favorite places, and I have a lot of favorite places. We settled in, and I got a little giddy on a cosmopolitan (cheap drunk). Then I had a glass of their Christmas ale, which was also very good. Between drinks and dinner, we were laughing and talking, and she handed me a box. I kind of had a hard time opening it because when my sister wraps a gift, she really wraps it (uses a LOT of tape).

I finally opened the box and out popped this adorable frog prince.

Of course, like Rapunzel, I let down my hair and
. . . wait, that's another fairly tale. Anyway, I pulled the little frog prince over to my lips and made a wish and gave him a sweet little kiss. Suddenly, he popped open! And what do you think was inside?

Nope, not a handsome prince waiting to sweep me off my feet, who would take me away to cook and clean for him and do laundry at least three times a week. This is what I got instead.

A beautiful sapphire and diamond ring to wear happily ever after. My sister and I had gone to a jewelry store to have her rings (her huge diamond ring) cleaned a couple weeks before. And because I was a bird in a previous life, all things shiny appeal to me, sequins, beads, and especially sparkly jewelry. I had seen the ring and fell in love with it and tried it on. I had the sales person hold it overnight and I went back and looked at it the next day. But I decided I had better pay my taxes first. There would be other rings. Without my knowing, my sister went back to get the ring and she had her wonderful husband gave it to me for my birthday. I was stunned. After I stopped crying and blubbering, I thanked them and told them that now we were all engaged. I absolutely love it. I will wear it every day unless, and until, my finger falls off.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Santa Came Early

Santa came early this year and brought this beautiful baby boy to my nephew and his girlfriend. Isn't he precious? Jason came into the world weighing 7 lbs. 15 oz. That sounds like a good size baby, but I'm always so surprised by how tiny they are when you see them. Seven pounds isn't that big in real life.

Proud dad



My sister looks too young to be a grandmother! But she's head over heels with Jason David (who's also named after his grandfather) and is already making plans for his wedding (just kidding!). She'll be keeping him during the day while his parents are at work and is really looking forward to having him all to herself.

Grandkids are the best thing that could ever happen to anyone. They keep you y0ung. They make you look at the world through new eyes and notice things that you normally take for granted every day. They're a constant source of laughter and joy. Congratulations, Grammy and Grandpa!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Books I've Read

The Time Traveler's Wife

I've been able to do quite a bit of reading lately. I wasn't sure about reading this book at first; but after reading the first couple of chapters, I was totally hooked. It's a wonderful love story between Henry DeTamble, the time traveler, and his wife, Clare Abshire. You find out what causes Henry to time travel and how it affects his life and Clare's. Don't try to figure out the why or how of how the time travel works. Just let yourself be carried away. I promise, you won't be sorry. The only caveat I have is that if you plan to see the movie, see it before you read the book. I don't think the movie does justice to the intricacy of the characters as time evolves, but then again, how could it?

The Lovely Bones was another great book. It's heartrending but beautiful at the same time. A young girl is murdered, and her family is left to pick up the pieces of their lives as they each deal with the loss in their own way, in their own time. The book is the dead girl's view as she watches over her family from heaven or the "In Between." When she is able, her family experiences very brief glimpses of her, never sure if her image is their imagination or reality.

The Shack is a very thought provoking book. Although it does deal with the spiritual, I found it refreshing in the way it defined (or didn't define) religion. I've never considered myself a religious person, but I do consider myself as a spiritual being, tied to our Creator in many ways. It's an echo of how we should treat each other, with love, respect, and acceptance. ". . . and the greatest of these is love."

Monday, December 7, 2009

Happy Birthday

Happy, happy birthday to my oldest grandson. I can't believe you're eight years old! Where did the time go? It seems like yesterday that I was holding you in my arms in the hospital the day you were born. I miss our weekends together, cuddling with our hot water bottles, having our special tea in the evening, watching movies, filling up the birdfeeders and cleaning the bird baths. I miss our breakfasts at IHOP. Before I know it, you'll be taller than me and giving me dating advice. Hahaha. Until then, know that I love you and that you'll always be special to me.

You Can't Go Home Again

Looking forward to the new year and thinking back on the year that's passed has me contemplating some of the experiences gone by. I've decided that "you can't go home again." What I thought was a possibility by reaching out, I realize now, looking back, was a huge mistake. I've evolved and changed in ways that some will never be able to understand. Respect and consideration will always be important, respect and acceptance of differing opinions. You can't go back. Embracing the future and looking ahead, not back, is the only way to grow and welcome what may lie ahead. Old ghosts are finally laid to rest, and dreams of new possibilities are on the horizon like following the light in a darkened room.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

First Snow of the Season

My son and his wife decided to come and visit this weekend, and I was so looking forward to it. They arrived late on Friday, and we stayed up talking until after midnight before we all decided to call it a night. Yesterday, we woke to a snowstorm outside. We were all SO EXCITED! I LOVE SNOW! It was a winter wonderland. It snowed all afternoon and into the evening -- big, fat, beautiful snowflakes! We spent the day watching it snow, playing games on the Wii and watching Christmas movies. We had a warm breakfast of biscuits and gravy and eggs. Then a terrific dinner of home made chicken, mushroom, and wild rice soup. I had the perfect company for what I consider a perfect winter day.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Snow Watch

They're predicting snow for northern Virginia tomorrow afternoon -- 2 to 4 inches!! I know, Nat, that's nothing compared to your bounty of the white stuff. But for here, it hardly ever snows; so I'm VERY excited. It's supposed to start tomorrow morning sometime. I can't wait! Come on, snow! Show us your stuff. Get us ready for Christmas, a white Christmas.