Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Christmas Memories and Happy New Year!

Hello, Dear Friends, I hope you all had a lovely Christmas! 

We had a white Christmas, as you can see, 
which came as a surprise when it started 
snowing on Christmas Eve. 

We were invited to my youngest son, Dustin and wife Jen's
home for Christmas Eve, where they hosted 
a lovely gathering of extended families. 

On the hour and a half drive over, we passed this view
of Mt. Rainier half hidden by 
 the impending snow clouds. 

You can see that the Cascade mountain range is 
covered with snow. 

Mt. Rainier is over 14,000 feet tall, which gives you 
a perspective on how high these mountains are. 

We were one of the first to arrive, so I took
a few photos before the rooms filled with guests. 

When Dustin and Jen were cutting their tree 
at a nearby tree farm, they were filmed by 
a local company, which aired it's 
commercial during the Seahawk's game! 

They are die-hard fans and get season tickets every year. 
In fact, we were invited over for a Christmas Eve game viewing! 
Of course, the Seahawk's won! Go Hawks! 

My daughter in law made the amazing throw
with giant stitches, on the sofa :)

My son, all decked out in his Seahawk's 
Christmas sweater :)

His Seahawk's Christmas corner up in the 'Man-Cave'
where the guy's watch the game. 

Our littlest Seahawk's fan with 'The Grinch'
wearing Papa's glasses :)
(photo taken a couple weeks before when we were babysitting)

The 3rd stocking is for their cat, Lucky. 

 He's almost human.....
He doesn't like being treated like a cat -
don't pick him up, and don't talk to him 
in a fake, high pitched voice. 
He will let you know what he thinks of that! 
Not much!

Jen was in charge of the rest of the pretty decorating.....

Dustin made the card display frame with chicken wire. 

These two have completely transformed their 'fixer-upper'
in the 3 years that they have been married. 

You can see me in the mirror taking the photo. 
I love the amazing chandelier. 

The hot chocolate bar. 
You can see a miniature gondola on the window sill. 
They are avid snow-boarders and Dustin proposed to Jen
at Canada's Whistler ski resort. 

So many delicious goodies. 

I made this cranberry-pear salsa served over cream cheese. 
Despite looking a bit like road-kill, it really was delicious :)

Here's the recipe:

Cranberry-Pear Salsa

1 and 1/2 cups (12 oz) whole cranberry sauce
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
3 tbsp chopped green onion
1 firm pear or apple, cored, peeled and finely diced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
(I used 1 tbsp canned, minced jalapeno)
2 tbsp fresh lime juice from 1 lime
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp packed brown sugar or 1/4 cup white sugar
pinch of salt 

Mix all together and serve over cream cheese
 with crackers or crostini 

It was so wonderful spending the day with family, 
but by nightfall it was snowing hard, so we took the long 
drive home fairly early. 

We arrived in our little town to nearly deserted streets. 

We woke to a winter wonderland on Christmas morning. 

We had about 5 inches. 
Just enough to make things pretty. 

Snow angel. 

I set the table for Christmas dinner
 - Ham, scalloped potatoes, pear and cranberry salad -
for my daughter, Heather, (who is expecting twins soon and couldn't attend 
the Christmas Eve celebration so far from home) 
and her little family (husband, Eric and our 1 yr old grandson). 

My younger daughter, Jennie and her family (Steve and the 2 girls)
 decided to come at the last minute, too, so I had 10 at the table. 

I found these Johnson Bros. plates last year - they reminded 
me of my dear Mother-in-law who has been gone a year now. 
She had the whole set, and I have 4 of her original plates
that are very similar. 

Here she is with her son, my sweet Ramblin' Man, 
one long ago Christmas day. 

The years fly swiftly by but sweet memories remain. 

And now.....
Our little Christmas elf playing with Papa :) 

The sweaters I crocheted for my little grandsons. 

It was a wonderful, magical Christmas. 


Some years are better than others - some years 
you want to forget. 
This year I made a blessings jar to record all of the good things, 
and I am happy to say that it is nearly full. 
I will open it on New Year's Eve and then start a new one. 

I don't know if I have more than the average blessings this year, 
or if I have simply decided to notice them more. 
I think it may be the latter. 

As I have grown older (and hopefully wiser), 
I've made a conscious decision to focus on all that is 
good in this life. 
It takes a certain discipline.......
it's easy to focus on the negatives, but some days
it's not so easy to force myself to find the good. 
It's easy to feel sorry for myself, to find fault, to blame......
It's much harder to take full responsibility for 
the happiness in my own life. 

I've found that it's all in making the choice - to keep things in perspective, 
to always take the high road, to have faith that all is
as it should be. Every single thing is a reflection
and opportunity of what I need to learn. 

I am still a work in progress, so as this new year 
approaches, I've made a list of things to improve upon..... 

My sense of humor when things don't go right.

Taking a moment (or an hour, or a day) before and if, speaking my mind. 

Setting an example of how I would like to be treated, 
by being kind to others, even when they are less than kind to me. 

Having more patience. 

Getting more sleep and eating healthier so I will feel my best. 

Getting outside more for fresh air and exercise. 

Doing more of what I love to do and putting that on my daily list. 

Looking for opportunities to bring a smile to others - 
we all know this world has enough hate and negativity. 

Make a vow to promote what I love instead of bashing what I hate. 
Nobody wants to listen to complaints. 


So as we say goodbye to 2017 and usher in the New Year, 
I wish you all the very best that life can give you. 

And because I am part Irish, 
I will leave you with an Irish Blessing for the New Year :

Always remember to forget
The Troubles that pass away.
But never forget to remember
The Blessings that come each day. 


Happy New Year, my Dear Friends and Family! 

Today I am linking with:

Thankful Thursday

Won't you join in?


Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Last Minute Treats for a Merry Christmas

Hello, Dear Friends, I hope that you are all ready 
for Christmas! 

The big day has crept up on us, and as I scramble
to get all the many things checked off my list, 
I thought I would share with you some easy
 and delicious, last minute Christmas treats. 

Candy bark is very easy to make 
and is a nice alternative to cookies. 

Simply line a baking sheet with aluminum foil
and melt your favorite chocolate candy chips
in a shallow bowl in the microwave. 

A one pound bag of chocolate chips will 
melt in approximately 2 minutes, stirring 
at 30 second intervals. 

Spread the melted chocolate in the pan with a 
rubber spatula. Here I have melted semi-sweet 
chocolate chips and spread them first, adding 
melted white chocolate in dollops here and there and
then swirling together. 

For this flavor, I added 1 tsp. mint extract to each batch
 of the melted chocolate, then topped it with 
crushed candy canes. 

This batch was made with white chocolate
and topped with coconut and candy sprinkles. 

I made a third batch with bittersweet chocolate 
and topped it with chopped walnuts and dried cranberries. 

Dried cherries and almonds would be nice, too. 

Be sure to gently press the toppings into the still melted 
chocolate with the rubber spatula. 

Chill the chocolate bark until firm, about 2 hours, 
then peel off the aluminum foil. 

The fun part is breaking it into pieces, 
which looks like tree bark! 

Can you say Yummy, Yum-Yum?

For gift-giving, simply slip it into pretty bags
with a little ornament for decoration. 

Or a pretty tin. 

Here's another quick and easy holiday treat - 
candy covered marshmallows
for hot chocolate. 

You need large marshmallows, chocolate chips for melting, 
and candy sprinkles. 

Dip the marshmallows in the melted chocolate, 
using a toothpick....

And let rest on a waxed paper lined pan for about 3-4 minutes. 

Then roll it in candy sprinkles or crushed candy-canes. 

For serving, remove the toothpick, 
 cut a pretty straw in half and insert in center. 

Such a cute idea for hot chocolate! 

Here's one last quick and easy treat .....
Vanilla ice-cream 'snowballs'. 

You simply use a small ice-cream scoop to form
a ball and roll it in shredded, sweetened coconut. 

These will keep covered in the freezer on a bed of coconut. 

I plan on serving these alongside gingerbread cake :)

It's been cold and we have fresh snow in the foothills now. 

The winter solstice is upon us and as we gather 
to celebrate this special day, 
remember the poor, the lonely, and the innocent 
animals left out in the cold. 

I wish you all my deepest, heartfelt Christmas wishes 
wherever you are. 
You are in my thoughts and prayers on this holy day. 


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