Saturday, December 27, 2008

Scenes from Christmas at our House

Bebe's whimsical creation was a huge hit, and delicious. They really did eat it.

Red, glowing, warm coals. . . ahhhh. . .

"I really love you, Dad." That is really what he said, just as I snapped the picture!

Handy Manny Tool Box. The big hit of the day! The two, two year olds. The long blue one will be three really soon, though!

Dad and his sons. :) This is my Number 1 son, with his children.

Papa and the boys, spinning. :)

Oh Holy Night

Thank you to my Mother who sent this to me, and my step-sister Sherry, who sent it to her.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas Blessing

Mark and I become kids again every year when we select our Christmas tree. The window behind it is 9 feet tall. We just can't help ourselves.
I'm all snuggled down in front of the fireplace sipping a cup of hot mulled cider. I am finally warm. Lovely, lovely fire. I have the television set to a radio channel playing Christmas carols. Mark has retired for the night. I am waiting up for Sam to come home from work. Since he has been home for his Christmas vacation, I find the best time for visits is on his schedule; late, late at night. That's okay, though. We always have been late night chatters. Since he has been away at college, I have missed our late night theological discussions. I'm falling behind.
I have been so busy getting ready for Christmas that I have really begun to feel that I'm missing it. I mean, the church programs, the carolers. . . Has anyone seen Christmas carolers this year? I wonder where they can be? Our family used to go caroling. We should do that again.
We began the repair work on my case of Christmas blues tonight, though. We went to Liam's school Christmas program. I realized some time into the program, that there were lots of children on the stage, but as far as I was concerned, I could only see one of them, and it was difficult to focus on him. . .through the Grandma tears. Precious. Precious. When he finally located us in the crowd, and his little face lit up, and he waved and waved. . .I mean. . . life doesn't get any sweeter than a moment like that. These are the moments to hold in your heart and cherish. I certainly mean to keep it safe in mine.
This moment, too. . .the one I am having just now, blessed all over by the Christmas program, snuggled by the fire with my cider and Christmas carols, under the Christmas tree. Merry Christmas, everyone! If you don't mind my meddling, you should take a moment to enjoy this beautiful season of holiness and love, too. ~Love!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Some of that Pomegranate Wonderfulness

How to Easily Remove Pomegranate Seeds

We have made Pomegranate Jelly at our house for years. I think I have worked out the most efficient and comfortable seeding process. It's really easy, honest! And not nearly as time consuming as you're thinking!

Although, I remember fondly. . . sitting around a table outside with my children, each of us with a pot of water in our laps, giggling and seeding. Eating as many as we kept. . . .sigh. . . I would love to do that again. Those are sweet, sweet memories. . .

But to the task at hand. You will want to wear something old. The seeds definitely will squirt juice on you, and your surroundings, and the spots are notoriously difficult to remove. Consider yourself warned. :)

One more quick note: You will undoubtedly find a rotten fruit or two. . . or five, so make sure you have more pomegranates on hand than your recipe requires.

I like to fill the largest bowl that I have with enough warm water to fully submerge one pomegranate at a time. I use warm water because it is comfortable on the hands. Imagine an hour with your hands soaking in cold water, and I'll bet you'll do the same!

Wash the pomegranate, and insert kitchen shears into the flower end of the fruit. Snip all the way to the stem end.

Now, underwater, place your fingers into the fissure, and break the fruit apart. Separate the seeds from the membranes. The seeds will sink, and the peel and membranes will float! That's it! Wasn't that easy!?

Of course, you will want to skim the floating material off of the water and discard it.

I like to keep a fresh bowl handy and a slotted spoon. I transfer the seeds into the fresh bowl as soon as I have enough to scoop. Maybe it's an unnecessary step, but I do this because you never know when you're going to open a really icky pomegranate in the water. Any cooking process will kill germs, of course, but still. . .

Now, you are qualified to go forth and make pomegranate wonderfulness! Have fun doing so! ~ Love!

It Feels Like Christmas to Me!

But, one last thing before I go all Christmas. . . I've been neglecting my blog, and I want to rectify that! who knows when I'll get back! Right now, I'm neglecting my chores! Although, I have made considerable progress today! First, I want to show what I am most thankful for! . . . and they are decidedly not things, but they are the world's most adorable little boys!
Zach and his boys . . .I am so very thankful that my children and their wonderful spouses are such incredible parents! I wasn't along on this trip, Elizabeth took this photo and the next one.


Liam, the World's Greatest Tomato Farmer.

Christian helping Papa plant a new tree.

Christian, helping me rake leaves. His special Mommy took this photo.
Soooo. . .now that I have had a moment to reflect on my Thanksgiving, (and these are by no means my only blessings!) I feel all warm and fuzzy and Christmas-y today, even though the weather warmed up a little and it's sunny outside!
Mark finished the Christmas tree stands for the kids, Sam is coming home for the Christmas Holiday tomorrow! . . .and Amy will be visiting for a few days! . . .which is also wonderful because we get to spend a little time becoming acquainted with our new daughter!
Our neighbors sent over a huge bag of pomegranates a couple of days ago, so today's next project is pomegranate jelly!
Then, I want to wrap the rest of the gifts that we have already purchased, and believe it or not, we all almost finished shopping!
If there is any time left in the day, I'll ready Sam's room and the guest room!
Tomorrow, the whole bunch of us plan to go find our Christmas trees! It's always a silly, goofy caravan, Mark and I in the pick-up, and our kids and their kids in their respective family-vans. Everybody will be all bundled up and still freezing, but we will select three Christmas trees and deliver them to all of the homes! Mark and I, our three children, their spouses (and one prospective spouse) and three wonderful Grandsons! Sounds like hot cocoa and candy cane season to me!
. . .add those to the shopping list. . .hot cocoa and candy canes.
Saturday, the girls and their girlfriends will be holding a Christmas boutique at our house. They have made some of the most beautiful things! I'll try to post pictures. See you soon! ~ Love!

Christmas Tree Stands

I am sooo proud of Mark! He just finished building these for our kids! They're meant to be Christmas tree stands. He built one for us, oh. . . 20-odd years ago, and promised someday he would build them for the kids. . . and now he has. Sam and Amy will get theirs after they marry this next summer. Don't you just love this kind of tradition? It just makes me all warm and fuzzy inside. I am sooo proud of him!

Monday, December 8, 2008

My Path to Peace

Whenever I need a little time to clear my mind, connect with God, get away from it all, exercise, seek out nature, enjoy beauty, be inspired, take pictures or think uninterrupted thoughts, there is a path that I like to hike. It follows the river for about a mile. I wander over quaint little footbridges, around fallen trees, alongside rapids and calm, up acorn studded hills and down again, stomping through the crunchy Autumn leaves. I stop to peer into thickets teeming with birds of every size, shape, temperament and variety that I can imagine. . . and oh, the beautiful songs they sing! I come home with a different video every day, not necessarily for the video itself, but I'm trying to tape the bird songs. They are so various and beautiful. I'm pretty sure that I heard wild turkeys the other day, I want someone else to listen to the recording to try to help me identify whatever mourn some call I heard. I have photographed robins, goldfinches, woodpeckers, owls, ducks, hawks, vultures, finches and sparrows. Those are the varieties that I can think of off the top of my head. If I check my Field Guide I would certainly come up with more. We have seen deer, squirrels, otters and a fox. (I say we, because Mark is always the one who spots the animals when he goes with me, it seems I only have eyes for birds.) We have watched the salmon spawn.
I go out to walk in nature, and it caresses me. I can't explain how it does, but it just brings me peace. My Mother and I were talking about it the other day, and she said it too, something about being in nature is just soothing and calming, not like that's really news to anyone, but it bears retelling, don't you think?

Note: Today, September 20, 2010, Nina Bagley posted the perfect poem that I have borrowed to share here. I have not see the book from whence it came . . .

"from mary oliver's radiant new book of poetry/prose, Swan:"

How I Go to the Woods

Ordinarily I go to the woods alone, with not a single friend, for they are all smilers and talkers and therefore unsuitable.

I don't really want to be witnessed talking to the catbirds or hugging the old black oak tree. I have my way of praying, as you no doubt have yours.
Besides, when I am alone I can become invisible. I can sit on the top of a dune as motionless as an uprise of weeds, until the foxes run by unconcerned. I can hear the almost unhearable sound of the roses singing.
If you have ever gone to the woods with me, I must love you very much.