faMily photo

My cousin got married the Friday before Christmas. Amazingly my parents and all four of "us kids" were able to attend and we got some family photos.

We are in birth order - I'm the oldest, Gary, then Merilee, and Doug is the baby. 

Merilee's handsome husband, Val. This was a candid shot, not a pose, and isn't it great.

I love this photo of my mom and her daughters and daughters-in-law. Kimberly, in maroon and gray is Doug's wife and Lesa in black is married to Gary. We're a good team when family events are happening. We enjoy being together and my sisters-in-law are SO good to my mom.
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best holiday memories

Favorite memory from mid December. The party with my friends that get together each month to sew...or whatever. Wonderful, talented ladies that I love to associate with. They made the most wonderful Christmas magic this year with beautiful decor, magnificent music, and delicious food.

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thanKs HaLLmark

I made myself a little sign, so I'd remember what's important. I need to make a shift in direction because I'm focusing too much on little details and fussing too much over "stuff." The other day I stopped what I was doing and said to myself, "You've spent the whole morning managing things." That's boring and unfulfilling. Yes, it's Christmas so some of that's to be expected, but I was getting too involved with process and not people.

I love Hallmark's shopping bags. I love their font - they've used this font on their website and on their print ads and even on the pocket calendars they give away. That font makes me smile.

Don't you love my little wall reminder. Sometimes I glare at it and say, "Life is a STRESSFUL occasion." And that would be very true. But it's special too and so is Christmas.

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NYC lights

I wanted to share some of the gorgeous storefronts from our NYC trip in November. Harry Winston was a huge wow. The jewelery stores seemed to go all out.

I think this was Tommy Hilfiger.

Salvatore Ferragamo (don't know correct spelling).

Rockefeller Center ice skating rink.

Bergdorf Goodman 

We're excited to be going into the Apple store. It's 1:00 am and we had to keep our tradition of always going after midnight. The place was packed and the lines were long. It's so amazing.
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quick Christmas saLad

This is a salad recipe that I forget, then remember, then make three times in one week. It's called Ambrosia.

It's an old recipe that I got from a little typewritten recipe booklet that was put together by the "Epionean Club." When Scott was an ophthalmology resident, the wives of the interns and residents belonged to the Epioneans. I don't remember the origin of the name, but the group was led by the wife of one of the faculty members. She was from Georgia and was large and elaborate and friendly to everyone and her Ambrosia Salad was at every gathering.

It's so easy to make and perfect for a little get-together at home like the one we had here last week or to take to a potluck party. (Note the Jigglers jello in the picture. I made them so Scott would have something he likes.) I included it when I took dinner to a friend the other night, and, since she loves coconut, she just loved the salad. 

The salad is delicious with fresh oranges, and I use them sometimes when I know they're good, sweet oranges. I usually buy a can of pineapple slices and cut them up instead of using tidbits because my dad says that the tidbits are made from the leftovers of the pineapple - the core and sides - and the whole slices are the best part of the pineapple. Just a little tidbit I knew you'd want to know :)   

You can find many varieties of the salad on the internet from basic to elaborate. It's also known as Five-Cup Salad. This is the recipe I like best: 


1 cup canned pineapple tidbits
1 cup (1 large can) mandarin oranges
1 medium bottle maraschino cherries
1 cup coconut
1 cup miniature marshmallows
1 cup whipping cream, unwhipped
1/2 cup sour cream

Drain the pineapple, mandarin oranges, and cherries. Whisk together the whipping cream and sour cream but don't whip the cream. Combine all ingredients in large bowl with lid and refrigerate overnight or at least about 3 hours. (Don't stir too much or the maraschino cherries will turn the salad pink.) Serve in a pretty serving bowl.


Today I

Loved my little grandbaby Hollis and watched TV with Emmett for a long time. Played ping pong too and SWAT team and cars.

Thought about my family all day and hoped they know how much I love them.

Went to Ross (I call it Rrrrrross) and quickly found exactly what I went for and felt happy about that.

Talked to a favorite friend on the phone and felt gratitude for her and for friendships that are there in spite of neglect or busy-ness.

Made and took dinner to two different people and had two more people come to my house for dinner. Enjoyed it kind of. Was still cleaning the kitchen at midnight.

Listened to Christmas music through it all and later a bit of Jimmy Fallon which alternately makes me laugh and makes me disgusted.

Went to bed with a shiny sink which I try to do every night and mostly succeed. (A habit that remains from years of following Flylady.)

Typed this blog post while sitting in bed, because I'm trying to convince myself that anything is better than nothing.


...cookie day...

Since it's National Cookie Day and this blog is dedicated to cookies (and distractions, which I've had a lot of this evening), I want to share the blog of a cute niece-in-law. 

It's an awesome cooking blog called High Heels and Grills. Sarah and her husband, Zach, post great recipes on their blog. She's the heels and he's the grill. Sometimes, if we're lucky, we get to see pictures of their darling baby who has this cute little face that you could just squeeze. Oops, that's on Facebook, not the blog. 

So back to cookies. I still remember seeing Sarah's very creative version of Sugar Cookies in this blog post

These are cookies to keep in the front of the recipe binder - including the photo. These are cookies to make for a baby shower or Christmas cookie exchange. I'm pretty sure everyone will ask for the recipe because sometimes it's just too labor intensive to make cut-out cookies. These bar cookies have the perfect flavor without the work. 

If you just want to dream about Christmas cookies, then today's special treat is Sarah's Christmas Cookie blog post and link up here. I love checking out all of the bloggers who link their cookie recipes from their blogs to Sarah's blog. If you've never experienced a "link party," this is a great one to check out. 


free Christmas music!

It's November 25 and I'm sure that date is ringing everyone's bells...I know it is mine. I'm decorating my house today...having a good time! Thanksgiving is late this year and anxiety will plague me if the calendar says Nov. 29 or 30 and I haven't started decorating. I always rely on my Crate and Barrel catalog to jumpstart the holiday mood. (The photos in this post are from a special section on their website.)

When I'm in the house alone, I play my Christmas playlists on iTunes and turn up the volume. When Scott comes home, I have to change to regular music because he's an only-in-December-Christmas-music guy.
I have some fun new Christmas tunes thanks to Crate and Barrel. When their "Holiday Inspiration" catalog arrived, I couldn't believe how it was filled with online links to freebies like menus and recipes, tree-decorating tutorials, free e-vites, shared donations, and music. You almost have to have your catalog in one hand and laptop in the other! The link to their free Christmas playlist on iTunes is here or you can go to http://www.crateandbarrel.com/GetTheDownload
Just follow the steps and seven new Christmas tunes will appear in your iTunes library. Pretty cool...thanks Crate and Barrel. There's also a free jazz playlist that's good for when Scott walks in the door.
 While you're visiting the Crate and Barrel website, click here to see their wonderful animated Christmas decorating guide. Just keep scrolling or hitting the arrows for "red and green overload." As you can tell, I like Crate and Barrel's marketing.


BRooKie and Eyes

What a great school assignment! Brookelyn had to spend a day job shadowing and she chose to spend it with her Grandpa Scott. It was a fun day for everyone.
She started out the day by showing that it IS possible to multi-task. No reason to not answer every call...with a phone on each ear. 
  Brookie learned a lot from our receptionist, Sandy, who let her file charts, welcome patients, and accept phone payments.
Maliece is our ophthalmic tech. She taught Brookelyn about the different kinds of equipment for taking care of a variety of eye problems.
 Scott was so thrilled to think that maybe he could influence Brookie to go into medicine or even ophthalmology. They had some good talks about her future. She's a straight A student, so she has lots of potential.
 These are the trial contact lenses. There's lots to learn about different types and prescriptions of lenses. You have to be pretty good at math to figure these out.
Checking to be sure everything is completed before the patient leaves. 
She was pretty quick at figuring out the strange chart filing system.  
And as an extra bonus, she got to have her own eyes examined.  
She can read the smallest line - good news.  
And she won't need to wear glasses because she's 20/15. 
The back of her eye looks good. 
And she has no diseases of the eye. 
Now it's time to try on those glasses she doesn't need. 
The Harry Potter look. 
Last task - cleaning and covering the equipment. Thanks for helping! Grandpa loved it!


Pear & VaniLLa Butter

Sometimes I stumble onto something that makes me want to cook. Believe me, that's an unusual feeling for me. I'm not a girl who reads recipe books for fun or looks forward to stirring a pot of soup in the kitchen. But for some reason, an article in the Wall Street Journal about a California chef (originally from Britain) made me go to the pantry in search of canning jars. The now-famous cook's name is June Taylor, and she started her company by making English-style marmalades for friends in the US. Her business has expanded to include jellies, syrups, sauces, anything fruit based. I'm almost tempted to make her recipe for Pear Vanilla Butter...or order some marmalade from her website. The link to the article is here and the recipe is below.

Pear & Vanilla Butter
This recipe for vanilla-laced pear butter was adapted from one of Ms. Taylor's. It is easy to make at home, but you can also purchase it and other seasonal products at junetaylorjams.com.
Total Time: 1½ hours Makes: 2½ cups
2½ pounds Bartlett pears, cored and cut into 1-inch pieces
¼ cup apple juice
2 tablespoons orange juice
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1½ tablespoons orange zest
1 cup sugar
½ vanilla bean, split and scraped
1. In a deep, wide pot over low heat, bring pears, juices and zest to a simmer, stirring frequently, until pears are just cooked through, 15-20 minutes. Set pot aside and let fruit cool to room temperature.
2. Pour pears and cooking liquid into a food processor and purée until completely smooth, like applesauce. Mix sugar and scraped vanilla seeds together in a small bowl.
3. Return purée to cleaned pot and stir in vanilla sugar. Set pot over low heat and, while stirring frequently, bring to a gentle simmer. Cook until butter is thick, dark and dense, about 45 minutes.

4. Pour hot pear butter into jars, secure lids and place on a rack to cool. Store in refrigerator and consume within two weeks.