Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Lack of Pretense

We were invited over to Tracie’s grandparent’s house. The Nickel’s…Ted and Frantella. Sweet people married for 65 years. Small house filled with 25 people. All blood relatives except for Jer and I and Aaron’s mom and dad. Aaron is married to Crystal, Tracie’s sister. I can’ t imagine cooking for that many people, but the preparation started days before. Family members all brought a dish and I brought brownies…candy cane peppermint brownies. To die for, I might add.
We were graciously introduced to family we had yet to meet. Kendall and Jennifer, from Dallas, and their son and his wife. Kendall is TJ’s brother. We were introduced to some cousins scattered throughout the room and Grandma made sure she welcomed us with open arms. We sat and visited while we waited for the dinner bell to ring. Grandma, Franchetta, wanted to say a prayer…a blessing. She wrote it down, so she wouldn’t forget any of it. She blessed us all for coming and asked for a blessing on Jennifer, as she had lost her beloved mother this year, whom they all loved. She mentioned the newest member of the family, Sydney, born to Crystal and Aaron. She shared “Mike” and Tracie’s upcoming wedding next year and Gerald and Susans. She then blessed the food.
She rushed us into the kitchen to form a cafeteria line , which started at the desserts first. Just a tease to show us what was to come. The spread was laid out in aluminum pans, except for the chicken dumpling, a family tradition, which was in a big stock pot. Chinet, plates and bowls and plastic cups filled with ice were lined up and ready. After we filled our plates and poured our drink, champagne included, we decided to go out to the garage where a very long table was set up, enough to sit 20. There was also a table in the house to seat 6 and then couches, chairs and the floor. We had been told to sit wherever we wanted to. Paper napkins and plastic utensils were placed at each chair. Dinner rolls , along with a tub of margarine, were placed at each end of the table. We sat and enjoyed our meal while laughing and visiting with our new family members. After our plates were empty, we went back for dessert. Pies of every flavor; pumpkin, apple, cherry, coconut cream, an apple strudel (another family tradition) and of course my brownies. We stuffed ourselves until we couldn’t breathe.
We then gathered into the living room where gifts were presented to grandma and grandpa. It was so sweet to watch them open them. I was reminded of a child getting their first glimpse of packages under the tree Christmas morning. Pure delight with each opened package. When they were done, Grandpa got up and gathered two gift sacks and gave one to me and one to Aaron’s parents. I was surprised, to say the least. It was a box of chocolates. The sweetest chocolates I would ever put into my mouth. Then grandpa gave out personalized cards , to each family member. When the last one was delivered, the sound of paper tearing was heard all about the room. Each card contained a monetary gift. Each person yelled out a heartfelt thank you to grandma and grandpa.
It was now time for Dirty Santa. I’d never played Dirty Santa with that many people, so I knew it was going to be fun. And it was. It took awhile for the “pirating” to start, but when it did, it was good. I stole itune gift cards from Aaron and Jer stole a small shop vac from Savanna, a cousin of Tracies.
We stayed and visited for quite some time after that and then people started to shuffle out. We hugged and said our goodbyes. Grandma and Grandpa both told me how honored THEY were to have us join them on this day. They truly Love Scooter and I truly LOVE them!
The thing I will take home from this day is this…the lack of pretense and airs. That house was filled with pure love. The purest form like when a baby enters its parents arms for the first time. It didn’t matter what form of china we ate of f of or the rusty old folding chairs we sat on. What matter were the people. The love AND respect shown by each and every person in that house. I was so overwhelming touched by all of that. It’s so easy to get hung up on the petty things. The fine china, the crystal minus the water spots, the ironed table cloth, your finest clothes. We had what matters most. Love and appreciation for one another. That’s what I felt. Every grandchild in that tiny little house had great respect for not only their grandparents ,but for their cousins, aunts , uncles and siblings.
It was a Christmas I’ll never forget. If it hadn’t been for them including us, we would have been home alone, which we were ok with, but this was so much better. I am thrilled that Scooter is marrying into such a lovely family with strong values and traditions. I am honored to be welcomed into the family, too.
Another thing learned. There’s a lot of wisdom that comes with 65 years of marriage, like using disposable dishes when feeding 25 people!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

It's the little things...

I LOVE Christmas. I love everything about it. I love to decorate the tree, the house, the yard and packages. I love to give rather than receive. This year, however, I was in a funk. A funk for various reasons. Finances, family illnesses and accidents, and an upcoming wedding in April. I didn't care to do any of the aforementioned. We had decided not to exchange gifts, so therefore why put all the energy into decorating? How stupid is that?

I really was ok with it. With skipping the whole thing. And then the UPS man showed up with a 21 pound package. It was from my daughter and suppose to be my paycheck, as I work for her. The USPS had returned it to her saying our street address did not exist. I guess we had entered the witness protection program and the gov't had forgotten to notify us.

Anyhoo, I knew immediately it contained gifts, even though we PROMISED no gift exchanges. The family was saving their money for the wedding, since they all live out of town. The heaviest part of the package came from a gigantic box of Milk Bone dog biscuits for our 3 basset hounds. Kira and her fiance had 2 labs and they are their babies, so gifts arrived for our dogs, as well. She says the other gifts and stockings are silly stuff. Whatever the reason, it just put me back in the mood and the nasty Grinch disappeared. Out came the tree and up went the decorations...well, some of them.

Paperdoll made by my friend the super talented Jackie Peters!
Doesn't she make the perfect Angel?

A beaded ornament
(this pic does not do it justice)

Vintage Glass

Glass bird...I have several of these..LOVE!

This I made from an Altoid Mint Tin
Another Jackie Peters Idea
I love you, Jackie!

Handmade from a friend

A $2 Santa I picked up from an Antique Store...
Isn't he sweet?
I just noticed the string from his tag is still tied around his waste...Geez!

One of my fav's made by my friend, Holly Abston.
It's a vintage reindeer in the center...Awe!

It slapped me in the face that Christmas is not about money and whether or not you can exchange gifts. It's about love and gratefulness. It's about giving of yourself. A time to reflect on all that is special in your life. So, now I sit in front of the tree with my eggnog and admire all the pretty ornaments I've collected over the years. Some vintage, some handmade, all glittery and bright. It makes me smile and happy and appreciate all the little important things in my life. A hug from my husband, a phone call from my kids, a lick in the face from my dogs, a yackity yack yack cat in my face, a kind word from a friend and much, much more.

I'm glad I took the time to throw the tree up and decorate my hutch. more thing regarding that hutch. I bought that hutch at a neighbor's garage sale,for $20, about 4 years ago. This was back in AZ and it sat in my garage for a year and then followed us here to OK, when we moved. It had belonged to my neighbor's grandmother and it was a dirty white and falling apart. I saw hope in it. I saw a vision. Last year, I decided to finally tackle it. I cleaned all the dirt off and then painted it all white. Really did not like the way it looked, so I picked out this yummy shade of blue (the exact name has escaped, there's a surprise!)and painted over the white. Then I sanded. Some of it with a small hand sander and some of it with my bare hands...true grit! After that, I hand rubbed a stain over it to get that antique/vintage look. I replace all the hardware and Jer, my husband fixed the falling apart shelf inside. It is by far my favorite piece of furniture!

Each Christmas has it's own special memories, including this one, that the Grinch almost stole. I'm glad I "snapped out of it" and allowed my true feelings and passion for the season emerge. On that note, I think it's time to grab the nog (as in egg and not hubby) and snuggle up on my wicker settee and get lost in the lovliness of my little tree and hutch. Blessings to all of you who take the time to visit this tiny part of my world.

I just love the sweetness from these little snow babies!

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Sweetness in a Jar

I've never tried baking in canning jars until now.  Let me just say...FUN!!!

This is a recipe I found online @ and it should have been baked in 4oz, wide mouth, half pint jars, for ease of eating, but I figured anyone would be willing to "dig" for this sweet treat!

Ok...let's get started, shall we?

Basic Ingredients

Mixing Cocoa and Flour

Melted Butter and Semi-Sweet Chocolate

Added to Flour/Cocoa and Mixed

Poured into 8oz Half Pint Jars
Into the Oven They Go

Meanwhile...Pepperment Ganache
To DIE For!!

A Layer of Ganache After the Brownie Cupcake has Baked and Cooled

Frosted with THE BEST Whipped Cream Frosting I Have Ever Made!
Not Too Sweet, as Not to Take Away from the Ganache and Brownie

Now, I did not have the proper piping tip, so it's not as pretty as it could have been, but...who REALLY cares, right? the pic isn't great, but I could hardly contain myself waiting to inhale that bite...

Labeled and Lidded
My Sweet Little Friend, Anya (6yrs old)

Some Velvet Torn Strips, Ribbon, Tinsel, Bells, Sprigs of Greenery and Berries
Ready for Gift Giving!

Try it. You'll LOVE it!
Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Tea Cup and Little Britches

Thanksgiving is always a very special holiday in our family.  It's rare that our immediate family is all together, but my husband's sister's family always come to OKC to gather for the occassion.  So, we spend our Thanksgiving with them.  We all pitch in and fix our specialties and have this huge delicious feast. 

Jo, my sister-in-law, rents 2 small horses, Teacup and Little Britches to visit for an hour so her grandkids can enjoy a ride in the pasture.
                                                                       Tea Cup

                                                                     Little Britches

 This year was so much fun.  She has 7 grandkids under the age of 4!  A set of triplets, age 3 and another grand daughter, who is 3.  These four enjoyed the ponies the most.

                              Noah...he took that hat off, waved it up in the air and yelled, "Yee Haw!"




Benjamin, Emma's younger brother, decided his truck needed to ride with him.  He wasn't so sure of the ponies, but give him another year or two and he'll be raising his hat, too!

Miss Harper Jane all snuggled up from the cold.  She's the baby sister of the triplets, Noah, Piper, and Kennedy

Last, but not least, baby Will...he's thinking, "I can't wait to get my hands on those ponies!"

Here's some more pics of the fun they had. As you can see, I can't get enough of these adorable kids!

Look at that smile!

Walking the dog? Err, Pony!

A boy of many hats.

These girls know how to dress!

Wonder who's gonna win this one!

How cute is this?

Saying goodbye to the ponies.
Notice anything missing?  Let me say it was very cold and shoes should be a necessity.

We'll see ya next time!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

One Little...Two Little...Three Little....

On April 9, 2011, my son will marry the girl of his dreams.  When did he grow up?  It seems only yesterday he was this adorable little blonde boy lining his matchbox cars up on the floor ready to race...gentlemen...start your engines!

Now, as he and Tracie embark on this new adventure, wedding plans begin to unfold. A decision was made to have Scooter's cousin's little girls as the flower girls. They were all here for Thanksgiving, so we took them  shopping to choose their dresses. Talk about FUN!  Let me introduce you to our little angels...


        Miss Piper

                                                                      Miss Kennedy

                                                                        Miss Emma

Piper and Kennedy are sister's and part of a set of triplets. Emma is their cousin.  All are 3yrs old.
                                                             They LIKED the flip flops!

                                                              Hair ornaments and bling

Now for the dresses....strike a pose...VOGUE!

Check back in April to see the outcome of this shopping adventure.  Aren't they just the cutest things?  Something tells me their daddies are going to have their hands full as they grow up!