Monday, December 31, 2012

Soaringly Grand Wishes

We thought to say "Au Revoir" to 2012 by enjoying Mother Nature in flight. Appropriate, don't you think? So, after lunch at the good ole Miss Monti (some institutions and their staff are timeless), we headed on to the Rio for what ended up being a successful birdwatching experience. Granted, photo ops were not so great, what with cloudy skies, far more juvenile birds than mature ones and great distances between us and the raptors. Nonetheless, we captured just a tad of pleasure to share here, with friends of CMI.
This mature Baldie was the first to greet us, upon our arrival.
The mottled plumage of young eagles, aged 1 - 5, serves as camouflage and makes them hard to spot. When they mature to the majestic image most of us have in mind, they are then of breeding age. 
Traffic was light at the reservoir... how lucky for us. In a few weeks, there shall be Sunday morning traffic jams. Where else can one see such a soaringly grand show?
Wishing all a fun segue... in flight from the old to a new and gloriously healthy, happy New Year. Many thanks for continuing this blah-blah blogging experience with me. 
xoxo Nicki

Saturday, December 29, 2012

"Les Mis" - The Movie

UniversalPhoto
Oscar shall have a revolution of his own to contend with, as Hugh Jackman and his powerhouse voice bring Jean Valjean to the big screen. Daniel Day-Lewis ("Lincoln") has brilliant competition, in his race for the gold. Actually, we thought the entire "Les Mis" cast well chosen. The children are beyond astounding. Russell Crowe voice trained for a pretty solid delivery in his role as the antagonist, Inspector Javert. Of course, I'm a huge RC fan and a tad biased, so you'll have to decide that call for yourselves.

"I Dreamed A Dream" shall forever remain my favorite song from the show; it was performed to heart-wrenching perfection by an amazing Anne Hathaway, in her role as Fantine. However, I thought the show-stopping performance for a single song to be from Eddie Radmayne as Marius and "Empty Chairs At Empty Tables". One could just feel the loss and despair.

If you've never seen the play, go see the movie first... highly recommended for its clarity in the telling (singing) of Victor Hugo's 150-year-old story. The scenery, sets, graphics, staging... all magnificent backdrops to intense emotions felt from the least significant character to the star(s). But then...

Go see it live. One can never consume enough "Les Mis"... it simply never gets old and the music is positively exquisite. We're blessed to have enjoyed multiple Broadway and London theater versions.

Joe rated the movie a 9, reserving his 10 for "Lincoln" and DDL. I'd agree with his call, but for a different reason... nothing can quite compare with the stage version and its accompaniment by a live orchestra.

To Note: The movie was playing every hour in multiple theaters at Palisades. In ours, you could hear a pin drop... till the end, that is, when people stood and cheered.

"To love another person is to see the face of God." Jean Valjean

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Real Time Dinner Date

"And the seasons, they go 'round and 'round and 'round...

So often, song lyrics say exactly what I'm thinking. This, I know, is a universal tendency. How often I've compared notes with others about this lyric or that condensing what often might take a mini novella to impart! 

And so, I remember Phil's sharing with us the Tom Rush version of Joni Mitchell's "The Circle Game". Ahem, that would be back in the late sixties, I do believe. Done way, way too soon was Phil... but still that presence...

Mom's last year of life was brutal, so we knew that many "lasts" were happening, over the course of it. Needless to say, we are left with emotions that range from tears to giggles and back again. But in the end, good memories prevail.
When it came time to do "her" onions, an accompaniment to our traditional Eve prime rib, the thought was actually relevant to all the danged time it was taking me... never realized just how a good block of it could be consumed, 'cause she always provided them. 
THE RECIPE:
Peel and slice sweet onions and separate the rings
Soak in milk of your choice
Dredge in flour, paprika, pepper, garlic powder
Spread in single layers on cookie sheets and spray with EVOO/Pam
Bake in preheated 400-degree oven for about 25 minutes
Or... fry, if you must, as Mom did
Soon, the four nut balls hanging in the front of our home shall be packed away for another year. I created them in Dad's memory, after he left us in the fall of 1976. Sure, ribbons have been changed and nuts and pinecones have been replaced... but they are survivors...

This year's events such as (hurricane) Sandy and Sandy Hook really cast an air of sadness over the holidays, for those who understood the toll on the affected. But our children deserve the making of their very own gleeful memories; and so, we truck on to share the joy...

We absolutely must capture the golden rings from the carousel of time.
I am so deeply grateful to my family for all they've afforded me.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

PEACE

G-d, it's hard to believe that it has been thirty-two years since John Lennon's tragic death... and still we try to... 
give peace a chance
ScreenCapturePBS

Be sure to watch (link) LENNONYC on PBS. It is in incredible look at the man... the good, the bad, the ugly and the absolute brilliance. Joe and I were glued to the big screen. Kudos to all who participated, but especially to Yoko Ono who shared.

The age-old PEACE theme has always been included in my Christmas message. But, why, oh why, can we not recognize it? No sooner did we watch when I came across the answer... yet again... but in a slightly different format:

"Peace, though beloved of our Lord, is a cardinal virtue only if your neighbors share your conscience." 
(CLOUD ATLAS by David Mitchell)

I reckon we just have to keep trying. Have a peaceful Christmas, Neighbors.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

HEARTENING ♡

Photo by Dawn




Thanks, Dawn! Where's the "LOVE" button? Ah, there's nothing better than happy cookies and family tradition to bring immense joy, both in the making and the sharing...

Guard our share, 'cause we can't wait to sample themand be sure leave a few for Santa! 

Beautiful, yummy Christmas blessings...

Friday, December 21, 2012

SICKENING...

Reuters
The bells tolled and the NRA wasted no time in suggesting more guns, in their "good guy vs. bad guy" statement, something I will not disgrace my blog with. So, in their desire to return to the tactics of the very old Old West, who determines who the good guys are? I'm sure their suggestion would be, "Why, any of our card-carryin' members." Uh-huh. CMI is sickened and would only be completely happy were there...
Guns = Heartbreak

Tate's Fate

Reuters
"The X Factor" was pretty good this year, though no one could top last season's (link) Josh Krajcik, for me. A 13-year-old, a 37-year-old and a bunch of teenaged girls (grouped together by the judges) made for a somewhat interesting finale. Joe and I were happy to see the kindhearted "old man" of the group recognize his lifelong dream. He reminded me a lot of Garth, one country performer that I'd actually love to see live. Congrats, Tate Stevens. We'll continue to follow your success story.

To Note: The sets for this show have been Broadway perfect. Unbelievable!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Snowflakes For Sandy Hook

HUFF POST PHOTO



We have till January 12th to make and (link) mail pretty snowflakes to Sandy Hook. This small gesture will let students, parents and faculty know we're thinking of them, as the intent is to decorate the alternate building that the children will be returning to. I'm excited to jump on this bandwagon; I know my GrandLoves shall be, too. Don't know how? There are lots of tutorials to be Googled. They can be simple or elaborate... just do it! Mail to:

Connecticut PTSA

60 Connolly Parkway
Building 12, Suite 103

Hamden, CT 06514

"We have an obligation to try...." B. Obama

Tomorrow...

... bells will toll at 9:30 a.m. in a national moment of silence to honor Sandy Hook victims. This article contains mini-biographies. NO WORDS.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Go Naked!





Dawn recommended Bear Naked Granola, available at Trader's or in bulk on Amazon. It is delicious. Thus far, this Triple Berry Crunch variety is my favorite. Try it, if you're lovin' Crunchy Granola Suite Sweet, yeah! I know, I know... but I just couldn't resist a touch of Diamond.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

"No School Today, No School Today...."

Now where did I just hear that lyric?? :-) But it didn't snow. Four of five GrandLoves down with strep or the flu. Nothin' to do but hang out with The Maestro....
....and prime him to be my next SCRABBLE competitor, while he's here. He's good at only seven years old and really likes the game. It has to be a genetic thing! I started playing at the age of ten, after my parents gifted me my very first board. It was Christmas-time then, as well.
"G'ma, I know 'AA' is a word because I
read it under two-letter words
in the SCRABBLE dictionary."

BLESSINGS ♡

Last night, fifth and sixth graders joined the high school chorus for a prism concert; the auditorium was packed to capacity. We learned that such a concert is a round robin of songs, with applause (supposedly) only at the beginning and end. In one hour, the groups rotate turns to deliver constant music, ultimately joining at the end for the final number. For the record, audience members failed the no-applause challenge. :-) It is just in our nature to cheer for what is fabulous, right

Several high school soloists showed immense talent, as they were highlighted during various aspects of the show. Billy Joel would have been thrilled by a very challenging cover of "New York State Of Mind". But the younger kids brought the house down with their delivery of wishful thinking and "No School Tomorrow". Precious.
Our girl looked absolutely stunning, all serious upon taking the stage, but then breaking into enormous smiles, as did her forever-friend, Abby. They are growing so fast into the most beautiful young ladies.

I'd be remiss were I not to mention that Sandy Hook was remembered, as the Superintendent assured families of steps being taken to provide an extra layer of safety for our children. He then asked for a moment of silence for all victims and their loved ones... one could hear a pin drop.

On a happier musical note, thank Goodness for our extracurricular programs... still in place, but not without lots of effort. Aubs and her pals are in school at seven a.m., in order to pursue chorus and violin lessons. Kudos to incredible staff members who encourage the kids. I'm thinkin' "The Voice", "American Idol" and "The X Factor"!

A beautiful nightThank you, SugarKeep on singingYou brighten our worldWe love you beyond words!
video

Monday, December 17, 2012

Our Nation Mourns

President Obama, visibly grief stricken along with the rest of us, has spoken to a direction that I pray he follows. The old arguments simply do not cut it, any longer. There will not be a parent in the USA who sends his child off to school, this morning, without a mournful thought for Newtown, Connecticut.
Last Evening in Newtown
NY TIMES Photo

Today's NY TIMES, quoting the President: “No single law, no set of laws can eliminate evil from the world or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society,” he said. “But that can’t be an excuse for inaction.” He added that “in the coming weeks I’ll use whatever power this office holds” in an effort “aimed at preventing more tragedies like this.”

“Because what choice do we have?” he added. “We can’t accept events like this as routine. Are we really prepared to say that we’re powerless in the face of such carnage? That the politics are too hard? Are we prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year after year is somehow the price of our freedom?”

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Friday, December 14, 2012

UNIMAGINABLE HEARTBREAK

We're often in the Newtown, CT, area; it's a proverbial stone's throw from here. Our hearts bleed profusely for the families tragically affected by the breaking news. We feel their grief. We feel their terror. How do we protect our children and all? It's as though the oxygen has been sucked from the air, the holiday spirit gone. We are so very sorry. 

CMI advocates gun control.
Give Our Children The Future
They Deserve

Big Red Evicted!

Morning Has Broken







It's wild 'n' crazy under the pretty lampshade, as per my post below... and many more blooms are yet to come. Big Red (I'm watching too many Mentalist reruns while the treadmill) got a tad out of control when he nearly touched the lightbulbs in an incredibly hormonal growth spurt. He seriously needed a new home. Soooo, another bowl went into action, with leftover Thanksgiving nuts for garnish. The kitchen window became the new source of light. Red is a happy camper. 

All this pleasure from a $5-per-otherbulb investment. You must try this variety of winter gardening. It's a given... you'll love it!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Progress Report

12.12.12 - Pretty Amazing Grace

12.12.12.
Here's the link for donations to the Robin Hood Relief Fund. What an amazing show, brought live from the Garden on Palladia to our big-screen... all proceeds to assist those radically affected by Hurricane Sandy. Every artist was so incredibly giving of time and talent. Now, it's our turn to donate $$$'s to help our stricken neighbors.
I New York.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Cran-Pumpkin Bread - Repeat Recipe 'n' Revisions

Remember these??
There are just a few revisions I'd like to share for (link) Cran-Pumpkin Toasting Bread, a recipe clearly worth posting twice! We love these! 

I'd already mentioned use of quick-rising yeast. Just this one switch-up makes the bread nearly a quick one. Today, I used fresh ginger (grated with liquid), and brown sugar, instead of white. Cranberries were upped to a cupful. Salt was reduced to 1 teaspoon and... important... my dough took only 3 1/2 cups of flour. I did not need the extra 1/2 cup when mixing but did use it for shaping; so, add carefully. 

After resting the dough, I divided it in two batches and rolled each half, log style. It was simple to create even, medium-sized rolls... 14 yielded in this single batch, ready for the oven. You must try this quick, easy and fabulously nutritious recipe. Buon Appetito.

Gramps Caught Santa!

With sack upon sack of Christmas cheer, Gramps did it! Finally, his well-worked plans with Aubs took effect. They labored on intricate drawings and complicated plots. Sure do hope that Mrs. Claus gets some wrapping credits. Here's just one result of her endless cutting, snipping and taping. Whew! Where's the eggnog? 
iPhonePhoto

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Steven Spielberg, We Have To Stop Meeting Like This!

May 2010... Some Of Our (link) Favorite OBX Equines




Two Spielberg movies in one week make for lots of emotion. We loved, loved, "Lincoln", as per my recent (link) review. Then, we watched "War Horse". This beautiful story of a special bond between man and beast is filmed to perfection, with gorgeous scenery and even more gorgeous equine(s). Once again, we were educated about early warfare and constantly reminded of just how tenacious the human spirit can be. Recommended, though it does not quite reach the caliber of Abe's big-screen saga.




Now, I digress... we also caught "The Fitzgerald Family Christmas", non-ratable and strictly entertaining, in a mindless sort of way. It's a must-see, though, if you are an Ed Burns fan, such as I. He's adorable. He's a NewYorker. Better yet, he's a Long Islander. He films in the city, on the Island, etc. Cute movie. Predictable... 
but that's okay.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Tradition ♡

 So, y'all think it all looks easy, do ya? Well, we are here to say that gingerbread construction can be very, very tricky, especially when the glue, aka icing, is runny. But we did it, along with other traditional projects.
Even Mambo had fun! 
'Tis the season...