Wednesday, December 31, 2014

And So This Was Christmas 2014

What better way to wind down the year than by sharing our holiday week, at the same time hoping your festivities were as beautiful and blessed as ours.
'Twas just under the wire on Eve Day for some ornament painting by Aubrey and Gavin. It was fun to have help in my cucina, with Gav shaping the holiday wreath bread. Gramps got in some wrestling. Hugs were abundant.
The Eve itself was warm and sweet. It seems THE ELF ON THE SHELF has replaced 'TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS, with Aubs doing the honors. The local loves gleefully opened gifts early and were solemnly sworn to secrecy, so as not to spoil their cousins' surprise.
Our "Day After" celebration was nearly perfect, except for the fact that Little Miss Chloe got so sick, just in time for Santa. Poor little sweetheart stayed home with Momma Dawn and Baby Sis Lyla. We missed them terribly. You know, the best laid schemes of mice and men. But Hunter was nonetheless pleased by his cousins' presence and his gift… that well-kept secret. He was then sworn in, so as not to spoil Chloe's surprise. Whew. That was a thrill, with the older GrandLoves and their iPad minis! Don't we all do it for the joy of seeing the kids' excitement? Well, I'm here to say that we scored, this year.  
Ahem… for the record… these were gifted with parental permission, something I highly recommend if you go down this path to oblivion and Minecraft!
The food turned out pretty delicious, I'm told. There shall be lots of new recipes coming in the new year. Please stay tuned.
With Chloe and Lyla down for the count, I didn't luck out with all five grandkids in a holiday photo. But the above montage from Dawn and Christian kept the MIA girls close to our hearts.
Gramps and Gav took off for a road trip and overnight stay in Lake George, so they could ski Gore for a day. Sadly, Christian, Hunter and Chloe were unable to join them, as planned… same old nasty virus. Meanwhile, back at the ranch...
Vicki made it upstate for a long overdue visit. It's amazing how we simply picked up where we left off, with so much catching up to do. A girlie lunch at Danny's got us home just in time for the return of the exhausted man-in-charge of the ski trip. We had a great sleepover and next day of gabbing till our jaws were weak. Thank you, Sweet Girl. I miss you already.

So that was Christmas, bringing us to real time and New Year's Eve. Giving thanks… and to all a good night. See ya in the New Year.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Morning Has Broken

Like a child, I'm always up before dawn on Christmas morn. It's such a peaceful time to reflect on holidays past and present. There is so much to remember, anticipate and savor.

We had a beautiful Christmas Eve, both day and night, with Aubrey and Gavin close by to make it feel like days gone by, as I fussed over food. Then, with kids in tow, a beautiful Eve at Bri 'n' Kell's, many a pit bull underfoot!

ToDay shall be quiet, as June and Ed claim their turn… but tomorrow…

We're hoping for all hell to break loose, with our whole clan in tow. Five GrandLoves make a lot of noise and render the house a wreck. Perfect.

Needless to say, I'll post many pics later on - sixty captures already reside on my holiday disc. But for now, I want to share one very precious photo, sent by Andrea, Michelle's most special and unique Mom. With Andrea as her mentor, there is no wonder as to why that girl held us captive… and continues to do so. Michelle's butterfly speaks to the bittersweetness of the occasion so perfectly. Treasures in our heart never leave us, really. And so she is with us, this December 25th, along with Mom, Dad and Gran.

Merry Christmas. May we all make spectacular new memories as we hold on to those of our past.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Monday, December 22, 2014

We Shared Space to Make Rock 'n' Roll History

Joe Cocker at Bethel's Woodstock Festival, circa 1969. Another sad loss for rock 'n' roll…

Fingerlings - Color Me!

Purple, red and white potatoes, all in one bag… very appealing. Wash 'em, boil 'em till done and dry 'em. Cut larger ones in half, pop all into a pan and sprinkle well with EVOO. Season with pepper, garlic and paprika and throw 'em into a hot, hot oven for about half an hour. Shake or turn a couple times and voilà:
For us, a delicious and colorful side dish with cornflake baked chicken, cranberry and salad.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Pears Twice

Kind of knew what we'd have for Sunday morning breakfast, as I dozed off last night. Just couldn't wait to make those sweet and savory pears again, as per a recent dinner. This time, I added cinnamon to the honey, balsamic vinegar and butter and made the poaching sauce thicker. Meanwhile…

Batter was goin' into the boat-style waffle maker. Greek yogurt, coconut oil, an egg and cinnamon were added to the mix and then brought to the proper consistency with water. Yum.
No syrup necessary. Just pile on the fruit and serve with a side of cream.
Buon Appetito.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

On and Off the Needles - Bitchy Bernat Boa

Pardon my French, but sometimes a girl just has to say what she really feels! It goes like this:
My tendency to overbuy yarn afforded me with more Bernat Boa than anyone should try to deal with. It's a bitch to work with, all fine and eye-lashy. First up was a scarf specifically for my cousin, Evelyn. She has pretty gray hair and the Lion Homespun in that shade and combined with Boa worked up perfectly for her. Extremely down in the dumps, with her daughter waging a fierce battle against ovarian cancer, I know she'll love a little "Santa's Warmth" coming her way. Please say a prayer for Gina. What next with this fussy yarn?
To the rescue, Lion Homespun in yet another shade is looking good and again making it tolerable to work with. This shall be a different style and longer.

I know, I know - a more "challenging" pattern was supposed to be up next. Thing is, this yarn is providing me with more problems than I need, right now… but the results are really pretty and mega, mega-soft. Try it, you'll love it. NOT!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Packages Delayed?

'Tis the season, right?? Well, how's this for service:

The yarn was ordered on Wednesday from an eBay vendor in Turkey. It arrived at three p.m. this Friday afternoon… two days. Charge? $7.99 shipping on a FANTASTICALLY priced 8 skeins of GORGEOUS yarn. Thanks, (link) Zu, for trying out ICE and sharing!! And more thanks for my early Christmas gift of magazines!!

So, why are Christmas deliveries within the States such an issue?
Go figure...

Thursday, December 18, 2014


And feeding the finches, too, when the titmouse shares!
EXCELLENT book, gifted by Christian and Dawn. Fantastically well written. I'm savoring and enjoying… recommended.

Winter Chicken 'n' Pear Salad for Two

Pictured - One Delicious Serving
We have delicious Bosc pears, all ripened and juicy. Chef's choice was a hot 'n' cold savory salad for tonight's dinner. Early in the day, I washed and set a first layer in two bowls:

Baby Spinach

No first-choice goat cheese in the house, so with the immersion blender I prepared:

Low-fat Cottage Cheese and a Roasted Red Pepper from the freezer - thawed, of course

I layered that onto sides of spinach and garnished one side with:

Hard-boiled Egg and Cucumber Pinwheels

The above was refrigerated. Meanwhile, I poached:

Two peeled and sliced Pears in a mixture of Honey, Butter and Balsamic vinegar (about 2 tablespoons of each), setting them aside to reach room temp... saved  poaching liquid

When dinnertime arrived, I very gently poached:

Thinly Sliced Chicken Breast in pear liquid with a little added butter and a sprinkling of paprika - further sliced on the bias into small pieces and

Topped the middle of salad with warm chicken, placing pears on other cheesy side… dressed chicken with remaining liquid and a sprinkling of crushed almonds

It worked! Something different from my cucina, served with a steamy mug of tomato soup. Add or subtract to make it yours. Buon Appetito!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


Just moments ago, it was announced in Albany that Sullivan County shall see a mega casino and resort rise on the old Concord property, with a Monticello address. Something we once resisted is now what we consider our only hope for salvation, in terms of reclaiming values on real estate, etc. Hopefully, our gorgeous part of New York and once-thriving resort community will see the light by 2019. Yay for us! We are so excited.
2:15 p.m. Real Time

Soft 'n' Sizzlin' Off The Needles

Fun to make… pick-up work during TV time... directions in my head… for a tiny someone special. Next up is looking to be a challenge. We'll see just how ready I am!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Big Baby's Birthday!

We just love Mambo… cannot believe he's eight years old, today. Seems like just yesterday that we brought this dream puppy home. His one and only desire in life is to be next to us. Always well behaved. Listens to gentle commands - no need to shout them a gazillion times. Loves lovin'. If there's such a thing as perfection in the animal kingdom, he'd be it.
The problem is, he's an old giant, now, and occasionally, he let's us know when he's not up for jumping in the car or climbing steps. It can be upsetting, but we understand and don't push him. Instead, we do the best we can for him. For example, today I made him peanut butter and glucosamine birthday trifles. Fancy schmancy. He loves 'em and the glucosamine helps his mobility, for sure. Maybe the protein-rich peanut butter does, too… but that's the "candy" for him! 

Happy Birthday, Sweet Pooch. You enhance our lives beyond words.

Wintry Expressions

It was nice to pass a spirited neighbor's house on the way to see Aubs in concert, last night. She's opposed to photos, these days… well, except for selfies, that is. Endless selfies. I digress. She set the mood for me and NIK with her first expression, upon taking the stage.
Lucky for us that a candid opportunity arose. In addition to chorus, she played a mean violin with the orchestra. Unfortunately we could not see her at all… Murphy's Law, when it comes to seating in the high school auditorium.
Meanwhile, Hunter was performing with his band (trumpet) and chorus. Sure do wish we could be in two places at one time.

'Tis the season. Express yourself!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

I'm Believin' That...

…Christmas cards are becoming a thing of the past. Would you agree? Thing is, the first one used to come right after Thanksgiving. It was from Dawn's mother, may she rest in peace. Then, the onslaught would continue, often till a few days after the holiday. Now? It's a whole different ballgame.

Here is is December 11th and we've not seen one. Several friends have begun a new tradition of New Year greetings. That works. But most have quit the habit. Can you blame them? It was always the tradition I found to be a chore… especially when we sent scores of wishes to customers I didn't even know. I was the buyer, writer, sealer, stamper, sorter. Ugh. So, what keeps me going? It's the…

MD Anderson Children's Art Project. Last year, I did something different and then felt disloyal. This year? I'm back to believin' in those amazing kids who are fighting the battles of their lives and still exuding cheer.

This post is for my Michelle. I can feel her sitting on my shoulder and telling me, "Okay, enough horsing around. You've had your latte; now, get busy!"

Phases 3 'n' 4 and a Recipe For A Snowy Morning

We're experiencing one looooong nor'easter, that's for sure. First, we had rain and ice. Today, it's wind and snow. What a mess. So, for extra cheer, I decided on a homemade latte for my ritualistic first cuppa. Giving thanks for being able to enjoy this morning treat, once again...

With this 18-dollar gizmo, a mere 10-calories-worth-of original Almond Breeze turns into a jarful of froth. Hmmm. I got a little carried away, as you'll see by the overflow when I added the deliciousness to my java. Next time, I'll add cinnamon and vanilla.

Try it - you'll love it!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Icy Nor'easter

We had some terrible issues with deadly ice delivered by the latest storm. There was a pile-up on our local Route 17 that was fatal for one driver and sent three others to the hospital. Humongous tractor-trailers were involved in crushing cars. Brian responded at 3:00 a.m. and didn't get here till noon. The highway was closed for many hours. Such a sad start to the day. Our prayers go out to families involved.

For us, thankfully, the storm delivered the kids and we spent a peaceful afternoon. Honestly, days like this remind me why I like to decorate early. Every day enjoying the twinkling lights of a Christmas tree is so meaningful. Something to savor. And then there are the outside trees… crystalline and pretty to look at from the toasty indoors. The birds were busy, once again.
We made Waldorf stars for the window; the kids were happy to take a few home. Aubs did her nails. Time flies. Wasn't it just yesterday that she needed me for that? Gav-The-Budder-Master curled up and played Minecraft for a while, as we all watched some Disney. There was food. :-)

Before he left, Gav asked me if I still hurt. How sweet. He was relieved to know that I'm much better. What more can a girl ask for?

Giving thanks for the safety of my family and ever-prayerful for it to continue.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Feeding Frenzy

Just glance at a bird feeder to know what the forecast is. Another gloomy day with a nor'easter on its way, here in Monti. Titmice, goldfinches, chickadees and a mess of other varieties are fighting for space. What better entertainment when the thermometer reads a chilly 19 degrees?

Sunday, December 7, 2014


Last Friday, we took a ride to Jeff to run an errand. The ever-intriguing Stone Arch Bridge in nearby Kenoza Lake is always photo worthy, especially on dreary days… after all, this bridge does have an exceptionally (link) dark history and is said to be haunted.

When we returned through Monti, it was just dusk and not perfect for showing off holiday lights. Still, the street lamps looked appealing in their attire of little lights.

Bringin' Home The Gold

Gavin let us know immediately, when he learned the date of his first-ever official competition in Tae Kwon Do. It was worth the long, rainy trip to watch him focus and compete like the champion that he is. He had to spar multiple rounds, including one with Caleb, his best friend since babyhood.
Gav and Caleb 
Nice thing is, no child went home without a medal. There is so much to be learned from this sport. We loved watching all the kids handle their little traumas with great aplomb, even after wiping away the occasional tear. As for Gav

 Imagine a second place Silver in forms and a first place Gold in sparring. SO FUN to watch. And those hugs we got… they were indescribably delicious

Friday, December 5, 2014

"A" For Effort… But Not Pan-Worthy

Just following up, here. We watched Allison Williams play Peter Pan. She was okay… really… but she never reached the magical star quality of Mary Martin or Sandy Duncan. Her singing was acceptable, but her otherwise monotone delivery was rather dull. She looked cute as a boy, but lacked the personality associated to Peter. Sorry, Allison. On the other hand…

We liked Christopher Walken. He hammed it up as Captain Hook, providing some very funny moments. His dance routines were a good addition to the character's weirdness.

A few problems, though, were insurmountable:

1. Who airs a Disney fable on a school night (Thursday) between the hours of 8:00 p.m. - 11:00 p.m.? Joe and I could barely stay awake. 

2. Those hours - count them! Three hours… unnecessary. Two hours on cable-rather-than-network TV would have sufficed. And speaking of network TV…

3. I could have cleaned the Old Homestead from top to bottom during the excessive, extensive commercials. Most of all, though...

4. There's no competing with past Peters. They rule.

All said and done, kudos go to NBC for the work that went into this mega performance. We clapped for Tink.

Last Night's LakeScape Sky

Thursday, December 4, 2014

iPhone Camera Success

Nothing can replace NIK, in my world. But there occasions when just my phone is handy for an unexpected capture. This is a great link that includes many tips for using an iPhone camera. Here is an excerpt that came as news to me:
Great trick, but a necessary step to make it work (for me) with iPhone. Set timer to 3 or 10 seconds. Press button, as if taking picture. THEN frame your shot, hold steady and wait for "snap" and result. Success and clarity! 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

We've Grown By One!

Welcoming Baby Chloe. She arrived this afternoon, weighing in at 6 pounds 5 ounces… a teeny bundle of beauty, eyes opened and ready for her very first Kodak moment. 

Congratulations and Much Love to her, Keith, Jess and Kim. 

And yes, our Chloe has to share her pretty name!