Thursday, February 26, 2009

The BIG day is almost here...

Tomorrow, Feb.27, the kids close on their first house. What a glorious day! I'll be going down to help paint and clean so they will be ready for the big move on Monday, Mar.9.

If you don't hear from me, its because I'm too sore to write!! I should have been in training for this!!! What was I thinking??????

Wish them luck! Wish me stamina! Before and after pics to come!!!!!

I love my children soooo much!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

'09 Travel Plans

We're FINALLY booked for our '09 trip. Its been a "challenge" getting all the pieces together. We started out with just the two of us traveling to France, then our group grew to include 2 other couples and 2 single ladies, all of whom I dearly love! I'm terribly excited to have a group to travel with, Bill, not so much. Oh, what the heck... he'll get over it or we'll leave him to fend for himself in Paris!

Did I tell you we're flying to Paris, taking a "bus" to Normandy, boarding a small ship for a Viking cruise down the Seine River back to Paris, then staying over in Paris for 3 nights before coming home. The hotel in Paris is a little boutique hotel near the Eiffel Tower. We've requested a view room but of course, that may mean leaning out the window to actually see the tower! Who cares! We'll be in Paris!!

Those of you who followed my e-mails on our trip last year to Europe remember me speaking "Sesame Street Spanish" in Barcelona. Well, if I don't get on the stick and learn a few French phrases, it will be "Sesame Street French, too!!! Our trip is Aug.29-Sept.9, so I have time!!!

And ohhhh, the food we will eat!! Guess I'd better get on the treadmill soon, too!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The JOY of Grandchildren!

Psalm 23:6 "Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."

Today, Feb. 22 is my oldest grandson, Riley's, birthday. He is a "big 8 years old" as he tells me. I can hardly believe it! It must have been just yesterday that he was born and I held him close and told him of all the fun things we would do together... can that REALLY have been 8 years ago??? What a joy these 8 years have been with him. We've played, painted, planted, read, built, cooked, attended Bible school and hugged a lot over those 8 years. This is a child wise beyond his years with a heart that loves everyone. He is a joy and a blessing. He is my "goodness and mercy". He is my buddy!

And since Riley is 8, it means that my Mama died 7 years ago. It was 2 wks after his first birthday that she left us. This is a bittersweet time for me. I rejoice in this small life that brings so much joy and happiness yet a part of me still misses my Mama. There is a part of my heart that still holds her dear and wishes that she could experience the love of this child. I'm sure that she looks down on all of us and watches over our every move. Just as sure as I am that God, our loving Father, watches over each of us every minute of every day.

May our loving God continue to watch over Riley so that we can celebrate many more birthdays with him! Thank you, God, for grandchildren to keep us young and parents to remind us that we are always someone's child. Most of all, that we are all God's children.

Monday, February 16, 2009

This is the BEST eggplant recipe I've ever tasted. It's a keeper!!! If you don't have gratin dishes, put the whole thing in a shallow casserole dish. I used leftovers the next day for a panini - yuuummmmm!

Eggplant Gratin - from The Barefoot Contessa

Good olive oil, for frying
3/4 pound eggplant, unpeeled, sliced 1/2-inch thick
1/4 cup ricotta cheese ( or mozarella, if you don't have ricotta handy)
1 egg
1/4 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup good bottled marinara sauce

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Heat about 1/8-inch of olive oil in a very large frying pan over medium heat. When the oil is almost smoking, add several slices of eggplant and cook, turning once, until they are evenly browned on both sides and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Be careful, it splatters! Transfer the cooked eggplant slices to paper towels to drain. Add more oil, heat, and add more eggplant until all the slices are cooked.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together the ricotta, egg, half-and-half, 1/4 cup of the Parmesan, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.

In each of 2 individual gratin dishes, place a layer of eggplant slices, then sprinkle with Parmesan, salt and pepper and spoon 1/2 of the marinara sauce. Next, add a second layer of eggplant, more salt and pepper, half the ricotta mixture, and finally 1 tablespoon of grated Parmesan on top.

Place the gratins on a baking sheet and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the custard sets and the top is browned. Serve warm.

Rated: 5 stars out of 5

Thursday, February 12, 2009

RENEWAL... a short story for Valentine's Day

She wriggled her toes in the cool damp sand. The early morning breeze blew across her upturned face. She stared absently at the emerald green waters of the gulf. Soon the breeze, warmed by the sun, will blow across the beach crowded with noisy children escaping multiplication tables and spelling tests. However, for now, the beach was hers. Sharp cries from delighted gulls swooping down on their unsuspecting breakfast pierced the quiet of the morning. As the waves lapped at her feet, she saw the outline of yesterday’s sand castles. Maybe the children will build them again today. With a deep sigh, she leaned against the hard back of the wooden chair. By mid morning, the hotel staff will offer pillows and umbrellas. Sitting on bare wood in the early morning was all the comfort she needed. She closed her eyes and memories rushed over her. They met here, many years ago.

She was young with sun kissed skin, eyes bright with expectation. He was handsome, tall, and dark from months of working outside. They met on this very spot, or at least one close by. They could see nothing but each other and feel only the promise of years of happiness. Ah, they were young and in love. It felt so good; it felt so right.

Theirs was a fast courtship, a strange word today, but correct in all its implications. He met her family; she met his. They went to movies, dances on Saturday night and church on Sunday morning then afternoon picnics with their friends. They talked for hours about everything and nothing. They were inseparable. No one was surprised when he gave her the ring. It all seemed perfect.

Then the war came. Before they could be married, he left. She never forgot the outline of his shoulders beneath the uniform as she watched him walk away. She held fast to her dreams, believing that one day he would come back and they would live the life they planned. She knew that he was the great love of her life. There was no doubt that he adored her. Time and distance cemented their love as both wrote long letters, sometimes more than once a day. One day there were no more letters. There was no explanation. At first, she kept writing daily, hoping that her letters would reach him. After a year with no word, she wrote weekly. Then one day she stopped writing. She could not go on. Her heart broke with every word she wrote. If she stopped writing, perhaps the pain would go away. She never heard another word from or about him.

That was over 40 years ago. She lived a busy but lonely life. If she kept busy, she did not have time to think about it. He was one great love in her life. Some nights he came to her very plainly while she slept. She woke with a familiar feeling of love and comfort. In the morning light, she realized it was only a dream.

As she sat on the beach, she felt the loving gaze of his deep blue eyes, his gentle touch, the shape of his fingers, the curve of his neck, his long lanky legs, she thought about all for which she had to be thankful . Many never know the great love of their life. She counted herself lucky to be one that had loved, if only once. The sun warmed her body but not her soul. She moved to the shade of a rainbow colored umbrella. Closing her eyes brought him back to her. With the sound of the waves lapping on the shore, she found peace and was renewed again.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The House

I finally got to see (in person) Kel and Zach's house - a dream come true for them! It's cute as a bug, in a quiet neighborhood and has room for them to grow into. I'm so happy for them! God did good - he saved the best for them when the time was right, just as we knew he would!

There will be things they can do to make the house fit their lifestyle and personalities and that's the fun part! I'll help them paint.. I actually like to paint.. instant gratification! It will be fun to see the transformation as they move from newly wed apt dwellers to "settled" homeowners! I have no doubt that they are ready for the next step. I'm so proud of and for them!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Cabin Fever!

I' ve been out of touch lately. Consumed with cabin fever, house mania (thanks to Kel and Zach) and generally bored out of my mind.... I was reduced to sitting and staring aimlessly out the windows at the bare trees.

Thank heavens, I had a renewal of energy along with a spurt of creative juices which moved me to the craft room to pick up my paintbrushes. After a rusty start, I painted 4 wine bottles this week and sent out a notice to friends and family that I'm once again in the "painting for bucks" business.

Where else in this economy can you get a personalized, hand painted, gift for $10??? Ok, so after looking at websites, I realize I'm under priced, but the main objective is to give me a purpose for getting out of bed. Forget getting rich! LOL!! I forgot that dream another lifetime or two ago!

Here are a few samples, if you're interested, contact me and I'll paint for peanuts. I can also paint on wine glasses, decanters, pitchers, old windows or whatever! Make me an offer... challenge me!