Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Does Lizzie look like happy?! We had so much fun taking turns holding baby Kathryn on Christmas Day. I wanted to start my blog post with a nice picture, but let me start back on Christmas Eve to show you how we spent our Christmas.
We went to church for our Christmas Eve Candlelight Service at 6 pm. There were four special music numbers. This year's service was different from our previous years. I wasn't surprised when I read on Sarah's blog that she thought the service was "tedious." I wouldn't call it tedious...but definitely different. I tried to get a picture of the beautiful altar table but couldn't figure out what setting to use.
I like this picture of Sarah with two of her favorite friends, Susan and Linda.
After the Candlelight Service, we went to the Ritz Carlton Hotel for a Christmas party. I'm teasing...we went to my friend Susan's home. It is so beautiful.
Susan's lovely tree. The pictures look so calm...but the many children spent most of the evening downstairs playing ping pong. What a feast we had. Meatballs, ham, 7 layer dip, veggie salad, garden bars, and waldorf salad.
I took this picture of the "silverware" that was actually plastic!
Susan went out of her way to make sure there was plenty to eat for our family. What a sweetheart. This salad was delicious... was this veggie salad. I loved the many different kinds of beans.
Someone made these spinach and stuffing balls. They weren't egg free, but I took this picture to remind me to find a way to make them without eggs.

We had such a fun time. It was 11:30 before we knew it. Thank you for inviting us, Susan.

Christmas Day at 4 pm, we went over to my brother's home for our extended family's Christmas. What a wonderful time we usual. Here's baby Kathryn dressed for the occasion.
Darling Abigail was such a doll. She spent most of her time playing with her new barbie dolls. What an angel. Her parents were so busy feeding us and being the perfect hosts.
My brother Floyd's grandbaby, Zoe. I was glad they were able to come. Sarah crocheted the booties and hat.
Dessert time. The menu was delicious...stuffed ham, turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, oyster stuffing, fried oysters (a real favorite!!), shrimp cocktail, and veggies. Simba made almost everything dairy and eggfree, so it was a real treat for our family.
Simba tried this recipe from Paula Dean that was just fabulous. I loved it. I am definitely going to try making this.
Anna taking her turn with baby Kathryn. Leslie and Mike have asked my twins to be Kathryn's Godparents. They are thrilled with the honor!
I was glad my nephew Dustin could pull himself away from his girlfriend long enough to visit.
Natalie's live tree.
Maggie's plate of treats that she and Lizzie made. All dairy and egg free, so we all got to enjoy it.
Simba, Dad, and brother Mike.
Natalie and Abigail sharing dessert. Natalie put together an excellent trivia game for us to play. Sarah won 1st prize and my hubby Mike won 2nd. Afterwards we had our first Chinese Auction instead of our usual Christmas Drawing for exchanging gifts. I'm not sure if it was a success or not. It seemed most people went home with their own gifts.
The whole time we were at Natalie and Simba's home, we kept our eyes on the weather. It was snowing the whole time. Fortunately there was only an inch on the roads when we came home. We ended up getting 3 or 4 inches total. I love a white Christmas!
Yesterday I took Maggie up to Walter Reed Army Hospital for her regular accupuncture appointment. Just like last year, there was a piano on the second floor that could be heard throughout the entire lobbies on all the floors. This pianist was playing all sorts of classical pieces which made me wonder if Christmas is "out" in this military that has a growing number of muslims. However, just as we were leaving, I saw her pull out a music book called Classic Praise Hymns. I wonder what she was going to play! You just never know.
Today we are back to cleaning and splitting wood. Sarah's friend is flying in from Alabama tonight, so we are eagerly awaiting their arrival. Meanwhile there is much cleaning to be done before our New Year's Eve party. Never a dull moment.

Anna is busy putting together her missions packets to send to folks as a way of gaining prayer and financial support for her upcoming missions trip to Cambodia and Nepal. We had no idea how much money it took just to print and mail her packets! Anna's leaders feel it is important for the team members to go through the entire process of gaining support so that they will learn the costs of being missionaries. Some education!

If you are reading this, and would like to be a part of Anna's trip, whether financially or prayerfully, send me your address and I will make sure you get a packet.

There are so many little details that have to be taken care of before Anna gets on the plane. One of the details I find interesting is that Anna's entire name must be the same on her plane ticket that is on her passport. If one letter is different, she will be unable to get on the plane. Times have really changed since I went to Europe in 1978!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas. There were many handmade gifts given this year, so I will start tracking them down and posting them. Many blessings ~ Kathie

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Yesterday after I dropped Maggie off at her second appt, I was greeted with bumper to bumper traffic as far as the eye can see. In fact, I could barely get out of the therapist's parking lot because of a Sheriff's deputy blocking the entrance. I felt so badly knowing there must be some kind of tragic accident to cause this much of a traffic jam.
It took us a half hour to go less than a mile. The cause of this traffic jam on the 23rd of December, one of the busiest shopping days of the year? A sobriety checkpoint. It was unbelievable. Maggie's therapist said most of her patients were a half hour late. She also tried to talk the Sheriff's deputy into moving his car from her entrance, but to no avail.

So 16 law enforcement cars, and many more officers, spent the afternoon tying up traffic in the hope of finding drunk drivers. I was glad I had my children with me to keep me laughing and enjoying the holiday spirit.

Added later: We just got our local newspaper and the sobriety checkpoint was the headline. No drunk drivers were identified. However, the sheriff says the checkpoint was a success since it "raised awareness of the issue in the community." We agree that it raised our awareness...but I doubt we agree on what the issue is!

This morning I had fun trying out a new recipe. The above recipe is in my December 2010 issue of Good Housekeeping and is called Sweetheart Cherry Cheese Danish. I used Tofutti cream cheese instead of the dairy version. Delicious! I also used half the sugar it called for.
Last week, my hubby took me to lunch at a Mexican restaurant in Mechanicsville called Fiesta Cafe. The folks there are so friendly and helpful. Mike got the enchilada mole dish. (There's supposed to be a little accent over the "e" in mole giving it a second syllable.) The mole sauce is one of their specialties...made with 30 spices...including chocolate. I tasted a little bit and loved it but Mike wasn't crazy about it.

I ordered a veggie sub. It was totally different from what I expected, but still delicious. I would definitely get this again.
The cafe is decorated very nicely. Lots of real oak tables and booths.
I was hesitant to take many pictures since there were many folks.
When we were leaving, I asked Mike to buy a small container of Charro beans to take home. I love beans, so I was curious to try them. They come with a bag of chips, some salsa, and some white creamy sauce. It was delicious. I decided to return this week and get another small container so I could try to duplicate the recipe. This week the beans were completely different! They even tasted different...more bean flavor, less chili flavor.
When I tried to find a good recipe for Charro beans, I learned it is usually a soupy dish. I wanted thick beans. I also could not find a recipe without cooked tomatoes...since my tummy is sensitive to cooked tomatoes. So I combined 4 recipes and came up with a winner recipe. The big chilis you see in the bottom of the pictures are dried chilis that I rehydrated in the mixture. My family has asked me to make this recipe often. I am going to post the recipe here for my own reference:

Charro Beans
1# pinto beans, rinsed and soaked overnight
1 can dark beer (opt ~ may substitute chicken broth)
3 cups chicken broth
3/4# bacon, sliced into 1/4" pieces
16 garlic cloves (adjust for your family)
3 large dried chili peppers
1 tbsp thyme
1 tbsp mexian oregano
2 bay leaves
3 tbsp stone ground mustard
1/4 cup molasses
salt and pepper to taste

Cook beans, beer/broth, bacon, garlic, chilis, thyme, oregano and 1-2 quarts water. Bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat for an hour, adding water as necessary.

Discard chilis and bay leaves. Stir in molasses. Cook 1 hour more. Season with salt and pepper.

I wanted to post this picture that I accidently deleted yesterday. This is Nonie's table of wonderful picture frames. I really like the frames!
A few days ago, I went to the local library and saw hundreds of vultures next to the parking lot. It was fascinating to watch them. They weren't the least bit bothered by the many cars and people. I took my children back yesterday and they were still there. We were surprised to see three cats in the middle of all the crowd. I guess this is now the vultures' permanent place!
This past week I ordered three bars of soap from my friend, Hannah Girotti, whose family writes the wonderful Mountain Musings blog. This is a new home business for Hannah called Pleasant View Soaps.
My soaps came quickly and they smell delicious!! No, I'm not going to eat them, but I love the Siberian fir and Peppermint smells. I want to try the citrus flavor when she makes some more. Thanks for the wonderful soaps, Hannah.

This morning I read a great article on called Why my church rebelled against the American Dream. I think this author is right about many things. Definitely a lot of food for thought...and for great dinner conversation. Please take a few minutes to read it.

Well, the gifts are wrapped, the food is bought, and things are started to get relaxed. My hubby and children are over at Mom's home practicing for the Christmas eve service at church tonight. Mike will be playing the trumpet and the girls' trio will be singing. Mom will be accompanying them. Anna says the Christmas Eve Candelight Service is her favorite of the year.

Merry Christmas to all of you, many of whom are in my daily prayers. May you enjoy your Christmas holiday. We have so much to be thankful for.

Even though Christmas has nothing to do with Christ, the world recognizes it as a Christian holiday, so I will do my part to recognize the importance of Christ's coming to earth as a man to make a way for us to live eternally.

Many blessings ~ Kathie

John 3:17 "For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world but that the world through Him might be saved."

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

This is definitely one busy home! Cooking, sewing, quilting, and Lizzie made this quilt for her guitar teacher for Christmas. This quilt is similiar to the quilt I made for my mother. Same fabrics. Still have lots of leftovers, so I guess we'll be making another! This quilt contains 28 music-themed, black and white fabrics.
Lizzie had been very busy, so she got behind on her quilt. The afternoon of her lesson, she spent every spare moment sewing. With an hour to go before lesson, we girls helped sew the binding onto the outside.
I love the backing fabric.
Here's a closeup of the backing. It was worth every bit of stitching to see Mr. Chip's face when he saw this quilt!
Mr. Chip's home was decorated beautifully.
His indoor porch was very welcoming.
The stone exterior looks so homey.
My pictures don't do justice. Everything was so nice.
I finally found a picture of our first significant snowfall. This is the pond in front of my parents' home. Wish it would freeze over for ice skating!
Ruthie has been sewing for her dolly. She made the skirt...
...and this backpack.
Great job, Ruthie!
Maggie and Lizzie made peppermint marshmallows to give away for gifts. Yummy! First it has to sit for 24 hours to lose the grainyness of the sugar. Then Maggie will cut it into little squares and drizzle melted chocolate over each square. Yummy!
Ruthie made taffy today. It tastes exactly like the Saltwater Taffy that is popular at Ocean City, Maryland. She made rootbeer (my favorite), cherry, and coconut.
This past Saturday, our family went to Nonie and Roy's home to finish our singing for the XYZers from church. Their home is beautiful. (Nonie is short for Winona.)
I love Nonie's long island. Enough room for all the dishes. The food was superb. I saw Mrs. Jane's award winning looked so wonder it took grand champion at the fair!
Nonie showed us all her quilts that she made for Christmas gifts. Hopefully you can't see this quilt too well. You never know who might be reading this! Nonie had four tables set up in different rooms. Our family was instructed to split up and sit among the old folks. Anna thought that was the highlight of the day...getting to know the old folks one on one.
I tried to get a picture of Snickers the Dog. He doesn't stay still for long. But it's obvious who is king in this home!
Ruthie and I ate in the toy room. Nonie has five children and lots of grandchildren and great-grandchildren, so I'm sure this is a favorite room. I regret not seeing her sewing room.

Oh my! I mistakenly touched something on my keyboard...and a picture disappeared. Oh well. The picture was of a small round table with lots of black and white photos of a young Nonie and Roy. The picture frames are beautiful. I enjoyed studying the photos.

Nonie and Roy had their home built for them 28 years ago. Nonie laid the stonework for the fireplace. Very nice!
My favorite...this shelf with antiques in the mudroom. This is one of the cleanest mudrooms I have ever seen!

Well, three more days to go until Christmas. This has been such a busy year. It's been hard to keep up with everything...especially posting everything on my blog. Tomorrow I will sit down and use my brain to write one final list to go shopping on Thursday. I have all my gift shopping complete, I just need to shop for a Christmas Eve party, Christmas Day turkey dinner, then Christmas Day supper at my brother's home. Sounds easy...just a matter of concentrating!

I hope you are enjoying your Christmas season. I am enjoying watching my children...who are all now old enough to receive more pleasure from giving, than from receiving. I can see that they now realize that Christmas is about so much more than gifts. PTL

My children are all visiting my parents for the evening. It is blissfully quiet except for the crackling of the fire.

Many blessings ~ Kathie