Sunday, November 30, 2014

Inspiration for Handel's Messiah

Google Images

The Christmas Season is here!  Ready or not here it comes.  There will be rushing and hustle and bustle.  This post is about stopping to enjoy this wonderful time of year.  It is not for anyone in a hurry.  It is for anyone who loves the Messiah, the most beautiful Oratorio ever written about the Prince of Peace.  This is not a performance of the Oratorio but the history of the people who came together by divine providence to create this most beautiful work.  This is not only something to watch and listen to but something to be experienced from beginning to end uninterrupted.  I have a feeling each of us is going to need it at some point when the exhaustive traditions get the better of us.  This will refresh and uplift and renew your spirit.  Enjoy!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Christmas Cheese Ball~Reprise

There is just no good name for a cheese ball. If you can think of one for this recipe~let me know. It is made with Blue Cheese and Blue Cheese Cheese Ball doesn't cut it, in the best of all worlds. Instead of 'name that tune' we can play 'name that cheese ball!' Wanna play?

I have concocted this recipe over the years and we do make it a lot for various gatherings over the holidays. Even people that are not crazy about blue cheese love this. We were looking for a cheese ball that was colorful and Christmasy and delicious. You know how they are normally boring looking with no color and just rolled in nuts? Not this one, it just screams Christmas!

We think we have a winner here. Some people even invite us to their gatherings on the condition we bring this! It takes a little time (especially if you are photographing it) but is easy and I like that part. I am not into a bunch of labor intensive cooking. What I do love is cooking with my hubby, he is a natural in the kitchen. Lucky me! He says food talks to him...OK, so he is a little wacko!

Tomorrow is our big family dinner for our relatives that live in our area, so Jim and I are cooking up a storm. Speaking of wacko, it's Official~ I am totally wacko about blogging! I have discovered it is fun to cook, photograph and to stage the food. It is 10 times more fun that just cooking! Multi-tasking lives on!

Hmmm, people do not always sell their houses but...everybody eats. Maybe I can dabble in a new facet of design for me to supplement the mad money. Actually I am pretty much kidding because these photos need much improvement but we had a lot of fun cooking and shooting the process.  

Chop up some scallions or if you prefer,
some chives or a little finely chopped parsley for color.

Chop up some Craisins or 
dried cranberries
if you prefer calling them that.

Chop up some Walnuts

This is enough for four cheese balls.
Four bricks of softened cream cheese,
a bunch
 of blue cheese,
(I am not into exact measurements, sorry!)
Craisins, green onions, nuts 
and some garlic salt~
because everything
 that isn't sweet need garlic!

I put it in a big mixing bowl and start mixing it together.
Every time I start with a big spoon but soon
find it works
 best to mix it all by hand and 
shape into balls. Thus the name...cheese balls.

Here are the 4 cheese balls I varied 
the sizes for different purposes;
parties, gifts, or whatever.

I put my wedding rings on the cutting board
to remind you to remove them
as it is no fun getting the cheese 
out of 
the rings if you forget.

Stab it with a cute Christmas Spreader

Here I staged the food for you..
I had to put all these crackers back 
in the box afterwards!
A little Pomegranate Sparkling Cider 
is nice with it!

Try It, You'll Like It!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

When Little Things Mean A Lot!

For several years I have been writing posts about things I love and that I am grateful for in my life. Many of them are the big things in life, the gospel of Jesus Christ, our family, our friends, our health, having enough of what is needed, etc.  But many things on my lists are the little things.  The little things that add the nicities of life in small measure.   The ones that synergistically create a larger, more wonderful and abundant life.

As an example, look at the photo above.  I was browsing through my downloads in my electronic files and ran across this gorgeous photo of the sea.   I don't know where it came from  or who took this photo but there it was.  Just breathtaking!  As I clicked on that link I felt grateful for it, it lifted me up and brought me joy.  Part of being grateful in the small things is recognizing them and paying attention to our surroundings.  Part of being grateful is being able to relate something like this gorgeous photo to past memories or future dreams.  And then when we experience something like what I did out of the blue, we take that moment to appreciate it.  To see the beauty in it and to be grateful.    Gratitude is often found in the details of our lives.

So here are a few of the little things I love:

Texting and emails to and from people I care about very much.

Christmas lights when you first plug them in and rediscover the magic in them.

Hearing the rain hit the windows and trickle down while under the covers~all warm and cozy.

Working and playing with Jim.  We had a fun time setting up our Christmas tree last night.

The feeling of pushing through something difficult and coming through it!

I like reading our Guest Book, kept in our Guest Room and remembering the great times we've had.

Lunch out with friends.  I love being able to talk with them and just enjoying each other's company without an agenda or a schedule!  It is so nice.

Thinking about the lyrics of our hymns as we sing them on Sundays.  They are beautiful poems really.  Psalms.

Putting the last of the clean fresh laundry away.  Such a great feeling.

Reading through my blogs and remembering what a beautiful, full and blessed life we lead.

Being grateful, in general, because you can not be unhappy and grateful at the same time.  They are opposites.

Knowing that Thanksgiving Day is every day, not just a day in November when we eat turkey and think about pilgrims. Although that is great too!

How about you?  What are some of your favorite little things that mean a lot to you?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

In the Midst Of An Ongoing Miracle

Hazel sitting up nice and tall.
This picture was taken 8 days post op.  

Some of you readers have known of Hazel's story since before she was born.  For those of you that are new you can read it here if so inclined.  Hazel's Story    The post from 2009 has some cute photos of her when she was very little.

Nine days ago she had the first of her surgeries to improve her posture due to severe curvature of the spine caused by Spina Bifada.  The surgery is called a VEPTR surgery (Vertical Expandable Prosthetic Titanium Rib).  This device is used over time to separate and lift her ribs and straighten her up.  It is in some ways comparable to Orthodontics.  In six months she will have another surgery to crank her ribs open a little more.  This will be repeated as necessary every six months until the desired effect is achieved and she no longer has undue pressure on her right lung.  From the days I worked in surgery I know that titanium is the only metal that does not cause scar tissue to form at the connection between the metal and the bone.  Thus it has the least likely chance of rejection.  It is a rare surgery but the hospital has a surgeon who specializes in the procedure.  That in itself is a miracle.  It helps to live within a few minutes now of the one of the best Children's Hospitals in the nation.

This is an x-ray of another patient who has had this procedure done.

This was a very serious and invasive surgery for a little girl weighing 32 pounds as of today. She's just barely seven years old.  Jen said they haven't actually measured her yet but we know she's a couple of inches taller already.  She was around 33 inches tall before the surgery last week. Maybe she'll hit three feet!

When her sisters and Grampa got to visit on day three,  
she was one happy little girl. 
Grampa snapped this picture.

Of course her Mom or Dad was with her all the time both day and night. Grampa was going to take a night shift on Friday but she got to come home that afternoon.   So he was spared from "sleeping" on those unlovely hospital chairs that supposedly convert into a "bed".  Oh, Jim just corrected that for me.  They actually had a better bed than the last time I was there.  Still it is nearly impossible to sleep with all the commotion.

This is day 4 and Hazel is beginning to look like herself again.  They let the kids order their own meals.  She got to call the kitchen and tell them what she wanted for breakfast.  Her choice was bacon and...not eggs or oatmeal, but mac and cheese!  She thought that was pretty fantastic.  Grampa was there that morning and said,  "Hazel don't you want something that is more like a breakfast food?" 
"OK Grampa I'll order an apple then too!"  I've never seen Hazel eat any fruit but I'm pretty sure I do know who did eat it.  Grrrraaammppa?

Julia and Hazie

Hazie was quite perplexed by waking up with a newly reconstructed body.  The first few days she did not want to move and getting her to want to get in the wheelchair wasn't easy.  We all felt like the changes were much more drastic than expected.  No one felt prepared and so days of adjusting and learning began on day two.  Learning how to hold her and even pick her up were needed.  Grampa said she felt heavier and with a different center of gravity and balance.  Coupling that with medications, etc. one might only imagine how she felt.

I was so happy that Grampa was there to help them with all the extra work and cooking and transporting of the other girls and doing the laundry.  I stayed here and fulfilled our duties and responsibilities and helped with a wedding that I had happily committed to long ago.  Dividing and conquering sometimes is needed to get it all done.  I'm glad he is such a great helper to them.  As for me if I had been there, I'd be the hugger and chatter with the girls.  The white tornado leaves very little room in his wake for an assistant.  He can run circles around most people.  He runs a pretty tight ship but he does allow Chloe to help him cook!  Now that is another sweet story for another day.

So yesterday Hazie had her first outing with Mom and things started to begin to look a little more like normal for them.  Her poor Mommy had a five day migraine almost immediately following the surgery.  There had to be so much stress and concern over this whole thing for her as one might imagine.  Thank heavens everything is going better now.  Slowly but surely the new things will become the new normal. 

Here at the park Hazel wanted to swing but it was too soon.  So her little doll, Ruby, is going for a ride.  Hazel is learning for the first time that she can use both her arms together more without tipping over or having to use her right arm for support while sitting up.  Miracle!

I like this quote but it doesn't fit Hazel exactly.  She is the farthest things from an ordinary individual I've ever known.  She is angelic, happy, determined and adaptable and full of love.  She loves her life and everyone she meets.  She does find strength to persevere and endure and progress in spite of overwhelming obstacles and she is a teacher to us all.  She is adored by all of us in our family. Having her as our beautiful granddaughter does, indeed, place us squarely in the midst of an ongoing miracle.  Thanksgiving is everyday for us!  

Sunday, November 9, 2014

A Simple Woman's Daybook~November 8, 2014

Our lives pass swiftly by! I want to do something to remember
the everyday moments and my thoughts about them.  
That is what this Daybook is all about.
Focusing on the little things that become my life.
One entry at a time.

Just for today~Saturday, November 8, 2014
Outside my window...It's 5:15 am so pretty dark and chilly outside right now.  Lately I have been having trouble sleeping on some nights so rather than just lie there I get up and do things.  I think it has a lot to do with the time changes.  I wish we didn't do that.  It like having jet lag without going anywhere!

Restless sleep or lack thereof makes for a long day that usually then requires a nap, or riposo as they call it in Italy.  Most of the world naps so I figure...why fight it?  It pretty much all evens out in the end.  One thing I have learned is that what you don't get done today will be waiting for you again tomorrow.  That is life unless you have a maid, a chef and a personal assistant to help you out. So what I am trying to learn to do is to just go with the flow.  It is what it is!  

I am thankful for....this time of year and the cooling off from the summer, the beautiful fall colors that are so enchanting and that never get old and the month of November where gratitude is even more on my mind that usual. 
I see Christmas just around the corner.  The decorating, the festivities, busyness and the joy.  Not a moment to be bored that is for sure.  Jim and I will be taking off for a few days in December and I am looking forward to that and thankful for it.

From the learning room...I have known for a long time that a grateful person is a happy person.  Everyone has their trials and tribulations and challenges but a focus on what we do have as opposed to what we lack is a healthy way to live.  It is win/win for everyone around us as well.  No one wants to be around someone who can never see the good in things.  The other things about a grateful heart and happiness is it can be attributed to knowing and praising God from whence our blessings flow. 

To just be grateful in general, is not the same as being grateful to our Creator and our God.  The latter leads to a greater sense of purpose and peace and a desire to uplift and help others.  The minute we begin to think that our blessings come from ourselves or that we're just lucky, or deserve what we have because we are somehow more important than someone else...we are in trouble. There is a difference between making good choices for better outcomes in our lives and taking the glory upon ourselves.   Everything, every breath we take is a gift from our Father who loves us.  May we never lose sight of that.  As we recognize and acknowledge that we will have true happiness in our lives.

I am reading...This wonderful book entitled The Godfrey Genealogy sent to me by my second cousin, James Godfrey, as a copy from his personal genealogy collection.  He received the book from someone else working on the Godfrey lines and he was generous to share it with me at no cost.  I treasure this story and the information about our common ancestors and that through my family history work I have met Jim on  That in itself is a miracle.  I use to go to his Grandparents' house when I was a little girl visiting in North Dakota. His grandfather and my grandmother are siblings.  But without our common interest in preserving memories of our family and the Internet we never would have met.

From the kitchen...Well in reality not much is happening but I did watch a bunch of episodes of The Pioneer Woman on Netflix the other night and I totally got motivated.  So we'll see.  She makes it all look like such a delightful adventure...I need an attitude adjustment!  She made it such and act of service and love to others rather than mundane shopping and chopping.   I need to get back to that kind of thinking...Working on it.

Some spiritual thoughts I have been having...just how grounding the foundation of faith is in our life.  How much I love sharing it with people I love and watching the way faith works in their lives and ours is totally uplifting.  It keeps us going no matter what.  I love the fact that faith in Christ's love is stabilizing.  That it never changes, bringing such peace. That is so important in a world that changes daily and with traditions and standards being is tossed to and fro by every wind and whim of this group and that group. 

It is not that we shouldn't question and progress but certain things being maintained creates security in living that we all need.  I find the endless debates about every little thing so tiring.  People want to create a God to suit them, instead of acknowledging Him as our creator!  So weird.  And paradoxical.  As for us, we are staying squarely on this path.  We like His plan and that is our choice.

Someone I am praying for this week... our Hazel who is having a major back surgery on Monday morning, Susan who is recovering from hip surgery after a nasty fall, Stephen almost mended from his surgery and also for Ben Terribilini who is 11 and struggling with leukemia. He has been running high fevers this past week.  Several times getting up to 108.7 in the night when he had to be packed in ice.  No child should have to endure that and no parent should have to helplessly stand by watching it.  I didn't even know a person could survive a fever that high.

I am missing...everybody who isn't here tonight.

I am hearing...Max Raabe, love that funny man and his music.

One of my pleasures...Honey crisp apples.  They are in a class by themselves.

Pet Peeves...well this is gross who spit.  I saw a guy do it right out in front of the grocery store the other day and think nothing of it.   It was beyond disgusting.  It made me shutter.  Ick! Who would ever think that is OK?  It's just plain wrong.

Past Remembrance...Being in Rhode Island a few years ago for the Fall Colors.  Oh my was glorious.  And going to Maine and New Hampshire and Vermont, Connecticut and Massachusetts too.  Then visiting a little place called Sugar Bush Farm where they make their own maple syrup and cheese. It was just so country and wholesome and fun. That was one of those trips that should not be redone.  It was so good the first time.  That memory cannot be improved upon so it is wrapped in glittery paper and stored deep within.

I am quoting...Pinterest...

If I could change one thing it would be...that little Hazel would be miraculously relieved of her problems and could run and play and jump like the other kids.  Thankfully one day that will be a promise  realized in the next life.  I am so thankful she is blessed with a patient and happy spirit and she loves her life just as it is.

An enjoyable movie/ TV show we have watched lately...Maleficent. Jim and I just watched it the other night and it has a great message.  I usually don't like those fantasy movies much but this one I did.

I am curious about...the rumblings about the next Presidential Elections.  Is it even possible that he might run again?  Something to hope for anyway.

Plans for the rest of the week...I have work and lots of cleaning at home. Getting ready for the holidays.  Possible lunches or two out with dear friends and hopefully making some real progress on my current genealogy challenges. Working on a wedding reception set up on Friday.  Oh it is just one big eventful week in the offing.  And writing, I want to get a lot of writing done.  We'll see how much determination I have to get it all done during Grampa Camp.

One of my favorite things...chilling.  It is my natural way but having been married to a non-chiller for so many years I realize that I complete adopted his way of living. Running constantly.  Now I want to step back from that sometimes and just be.  It is such a struggle to find a way to create new habits.  But for me personally it is more healthy to have a better balance.  Work hard, play hard, rest as needed. Sounds simple but not really after 4 plus decades of the frantic pace.

One thing that made me so happy this past week...Being able to buy Hazel a few little warm cuddly things for her recovery.  I  got her a little cushy puppy to snuggle up with and a toasty warm nightgown with leggings.  Grampa gave them to her already and she face timed me on the phone and I could tell she liked them.  I asked her if she was all ready for her surgery and she said, No Gramma it is not today as though I had gotten the date wrong.   I love that child with all my heart.  She is the very definition of precious.

The most surprising thing this past week...Receiving a that wonderful gift from my cousin as I previously mentioned.  Then realizing gain how much I really love my cousins.  They can be so totally wonderful and usually are. 
A photo I am sharing this week...

This is a most magnificent hydrangea  growing on the Oakland Temple Grounds.  Jim and I noticed it the other night when we were there so I took this photo in the pitch dark with a flash.   It is the size of a dinner plate and right at eye level on this gigantic hydrangea plant near the gate to the inner courtyard.  I have never seen one so big and perfect before.  It is in the process of blooming as you can see so I plan to keep an eye on it this week and watch it open up.  I'll try to capture it on the camera as well.   I love hydrangeas, my favorites are the lavenders and purples.          

This is Hazel on her 7th birthday in September.  Tomorrow morning at 6:30 am she is having the first of her big surgeries to straighten her back and give her more lung capacity.  It will be a tough one.  Any prayers on her behalf would be most appreciated.  Thank you friends! 

 Love from her Gramma and Grampa


Thursday, November 6, 2014

Nourishment to Body and Soul~Thanksgiving Thoughts

It has happened...once again we are in the midst of the holiday season!  How does the time pass so quickly?  I love the holidays but I do so wish time would slow down just a little.  I was looking for something to post this morning that I wrote a few years back.  I decided on this one~I think it has a good message.  I hope you like it.

Our ward has a unique tradition. We have a Thanksgiving Devotional every year on Thanksgiving morning with a very light and healthy refreshment time afterwards. It is fairly short, the program consists of prayers and songs and one speaker. Some times it is a ward member and sometimes we get a speaker from another ward or stake. I have done the talk twice over the years. It is a fun assignment.

The second time was about four years ago and that was when I started my favorite things list to help me think more about the big and small things that I am grateful for. Then I challenged the congregation to do the same. I don't know if they did, but I have been doing mine ever since and update it a couple times a year. It does tend to make you so much more aware of your blessings.

From the website

The speaker this year told about the history of the first Thanksgiving and then talked briefly about the concept of Getting To Do Something as opposed to Having To Do Something and how when we consider what we have to do as an opportunity and a privilege and not an obligation and duty we are much happier. We can then eagerly look forward to the things in life that are ahead of us. It was a simple talk but very thought provoking. If you thought this way it could make a big difference in your life and how you live it.

I thought about how changing this one aspect of so many things could make me feel happier about the daily tasks I get through so I can then do something I enjoy more. The key word there is "enjoy" I need to try to enjoy the mundane a little bit more..for it is a big part of daily life and we should be thankful for it too. We like the concept and practice of feeding our spirit as well as our bodies on Thanksgiving.

Debbie and Judy did a wonderful job on the feast. We had a great time and enjoyed meeting baby Colton who is now 15 months old and a barrel of energy. None of the photos of the family turned out well.

I do have this one of Judy, Mickey and the baby.
He had just taken his first header on
the pavement
 so it kind of skinned up.
Colton is adorable.

And this one of Grandma Gloria and Josh
waving her Italian hands like crazy!

And Lastly, The Thankful Ones that Got Away

They have been hanging out in our yard all week.
They find it a safe haven apparently, just as we do!
No Black Friday shopping for us 
we are hiding out in our own wildlife reserve.

And that is a wrap on Thanksgiving~
(the Holiday) for 2011!

Thanksgiving will continue on everyday around here!