Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas surprise.


With three young children in the house, we were up before the sun Christmas morning. As we gathered upstairs to see what Santa had brought, we were delighted to discover eight tiny reindeer (ok, not so tiny, and actually elk, but close enough) in my parents' backyard! We all huddled by the window to gaze in awe at the amazing and beautiful sight.



As the day brightened, the elk began to wander over the hill and out of sight.


A little while later my dad and my 6-year-old nephew Matt went on a walk. As they crested the hill, they spotted the elk grazing in the distance.

Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donder and Blitzen were accounted for; wonder where Rudolph was?

A magical start to our Christmas Day!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas blessings to you.

Christmas Day 2009, Jackson Hole, Wyoming

One of my favorite Christmas songs is Kate Smith's rendition of I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day. The final verse never fails to evoke tears from me.

The carol is based on a poem of the same name by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Longfellow penned the piece while nursing his teenage son after he was seriously wounded in the Civil War. (A wonderful article detailing the circumstances that led to the composition of the poem can be found at: The Christmas Carol Soldier, by Rev. Robert Girard Carroon.)

Wishing each of you a Merry Christmas marked by hope and peace.


I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

'Til ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
"There is no peace on earth," I said:
"For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!"

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead; nor doth He sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!"

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas treats.

Guest post by Dots

We are in Jackson Hole for Christmas.

Today my grandmother and I made these little Christmas treats that taste kind of like milk chocolate caramel turtles.

You need Christmas pretzels, a bag of Rolo candy and some pecan halves.

photo (1)

Put some aluminum foil on a cookie sheet. Then put out the pretzels. Put one Rolo on each pretzel. Bake them in the oven for 2 minutes on 300 degrees. Then stick a pecan into the top of each Rolo.

photo (2)

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Vivian matches.

Busy, busy week. 'Tis the season, I suppose!

I've been working hard to get my Christmas cards in the mail, finish my shopping, wrap everything, ship a couple of packages and do some Christmas baking. I also continue to serve as nurse to Hockey Boy, who has had a miraculously quick and easy recovery from his tonsillectomy, with only one 12-hour period of bad pain on Day 5 when his scabs began to fall off (thanks for the warning, Kim!).

Apologies for negligence in blog reading and posting this month. Here, briefly, is a little video I received from Vivian's aide yesterday. In it she is working at her classroom's "Smart Board" to match upper- and lowercase letters.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Christmas conversation.

Last night as I was putting Vivian to bed, I asked her, "What do you want Santa to bring you for Christmas?"

Ignoring my question, she responded, "I'm thirsty."

"Would you like some eggnog from Santa?" I queried.

"No, from the refrigerator," was Vivian's reply.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Surgery update.

Hockey Boy's surgery went great!

He had the tonsillectomy done at a pediatric facility, and I told him he won the prize for Best Patient in the recovery area; everyone else in there was crying! He says that it feels like "really bad strep throat," but on a scale of 1-10, he gives his pain a '3.'

We got home mid-afternoon, and he has been very good about taking his medicine every four hours and drinking a lot of water. I've been pleasantly surprised at what a trooper he's been. I know that we have a ways to go (his doctor and others have told us to expect a two-week recovery which will put us right at Christmas Day), but so far, so good.

Thank you for all of the kind words and prayers.

Not even 5 minutes after waking up in recovery, Hockey Boy had reached into his pocket to retrieve his cell phone and respond to a text! I had no idea he'd brought his phone with him into the OR, though I suppose I should have guessed that

Poor Hockey Boy.


Will is having his tonsils removed this morning. Please pray that the procedure goes safely and uneventfully and that his recovery is swifter and less painful than his mother fears it will be.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Wassail, wassail.


Egad! Did someone pick up my house and move it to the Frozen Tundra? It was 25° this morning in Dallas! Since I was home anyway listening to Christmas music and working (theoretically) on my Christmas cards, I decided to make some wassail.

My mom gave me this recipe many years ago. If I'm making it for a crowd, I use my large silver percolator, but when it's just for my family, I make it in my Dutch oven on the stovetop.



Tie together in cheese cloth:
6 sticks cinnamon
16 whole cloves

1 t allspice
¼ c sugar
2 c. cranberry juice cocktail
1 large can frozen apple juice concentrate, diluted (plus an addition can of water)
1 t bitters* (optional)

Simmer 10 minutes then remove spice bag. Serve hot. If made in a 30-cup electric percolator, place spices in basket (use same amount of spices and multiply recipe by four).


*I have absolutely no idea what the bitters add to this recipe, but I always use them. I think this bottle has lasted me 20 years!


My favorite kitchen reference, the Food Lover's Companion, has this to say about bitters: "Made from the distillation of aromatic herbs, barks, roots and plants, bitters are a liquid used to flavor cocktails, aperitifs or foods. They are also used as a digestive aid and appetite stimulant. Bitters generally have a high alcohol content and are bitter or bittersweet to the taste. Angostura bitters, called for by name in many recipes, is simply the trade name for a brand of bitters." I think perhaps bitters is similar to vanilla extract, in that it tastes terrible by itself but lends a nice flavor when added to other ingredients.

I write all of my favorite Christmas recipes in this book. It's quite handy to have them all together in one place



Monday, December 7, 2009

Hooray for Hopsy (and Lilly and a good tailor)!

Vivian wearing her "strawberry pants" (albeit backwards) last Memorial Day

If you read my blog much, you may have come to the conclusion that while the rest of our family has varied wardrobes, poor Vivian is clad primarily in the same pair of jeans and either a Curious George or Dumbo t-shirt. This is not due to neglect or favoritism toward others on the part of her costume coordinator (me) but rather is attributable to Vivian's strong preference for an extremely limited circle of clothes.

Her trousers of choice are a pair of Lilly Pulitzer jeans embellished with ribbon and an a applique that she calls "my strawberry pants." Lilly pants work well for Vivian because they have an adjustable elastic waist that allow her to manage taking them off and on by herself. But as is apt to happen when an article of clothing is worn and laundered every other day, these beloved pants are developing holes and becoming much too snug. And sadly, my search for another pair of "strawberry pants" has been in vain. In fact it can be difficult to find any Lilly pants in Vivian's size because not many stores carry them that big.

Enter my sweet blog friend, Hopsy, who was making a pilgrimage to the Lilly warehouse sale in Pennsylvania last month. She very kindly offered to look for pants in Vivian's size.

Hopsy texted me excitedly from the sale that she had found three pairs: pink corduroys, green corduroys and blue jeans. After Hopsy delivered them to me, I realized that the strawberry applique on Vivian's old pants was made of pink and green corduroy! So when I took the new pants to have them hemmed, I asked the tailor to use the excess material from the corduroys to construct a strawberry on the jeans. I also took him some cute pink and green ribbon to use at the bottom of each pant leg.

When I picked the pants up today, I was positively thrilled with how they turned out. I showed them to Vivian and she smiled and exclaimed, "My strawberry pants!"

The originals

The new pants


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Vivian sews!

Vivian with her new pillow at Mimi's on Thanksgiving Day

Vivian came home from school the other day carrying a pretty pillow made of brown upholstery fabric. I asked where the pillow came from, and she replied nonchalantly, "I made it."

Vivian is not prone to telling stories, but this did not seem to me a very reasonable scenario. Attempts to glean a different answer from her, however, were unsuccessful.

Shortly thereafter I received a series of texts and pictures from her wonderful teacher:

"When Vivian says she made her pillow, believe it! Vivian saw another student working on a pillow for Family & Consumer Sciences class. She said she wanted to make one, so we did. She was so proud of it that she carried it with her the rest of the day."

"Yes, that is Vivian ironing!"

"Once she ironed in a crease, she had a guide for cutting the fabric."

" Her foot is on the pedal and she is sewing. I just helped guide."

Hooray for Vivian and hooray for wonderful teachers!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Snow in Dallas!


Last night the weather forecast predicted snow for us in Dallas today. Dots began excitedly plotting for a school cancellation before I reminded her that snow is pretty rare here and the weather people typically have to forecast it about five times before we actually see any flurries.

So, it was a really fun surprise when around 7 a.m. we began to see large white flakes fallling from the sky! It was even more exciting when they continued and even stuck a little bit.

Of course the snow is melting quickly and I know our little display pales in comparison to the thick blankets of white enjoyed by my friends up north, but our snow was very pretty to see while it lasted!

View from my dining room - I started putting up Christmas decorations yesterday

My mom brought me that cute Rudolph for our front door. I haven't yet hung the fresh wreaths on my windows