Sunday, December 29, 2013

Holiday Whirlwind

Often the holidays seem a blur with so much fun, decorating, food, activities and social events.  This year was no exception.  We welcomed our sister from Texas for the Christmas celebration, attended a ballet, visited the quaint shopping village of LaHaska, PA, saw the preschool version of the Christmas Story, attended several parties and cooked and baked and trimmed and rearranged and fixed and strung lights and wreaths and candles.  I love decorating my home this time of year more than any other.  

  Here's a brief photo montage, not in chronological order, of my divine family holidays.  Whatever is missing is lost in the hustle, bustle of activity.  
Sewing a Mrs. Santa Claus Christmas apron for my friend, Cheryl.

The prince of all Granddogs - Cobee Obee - on Christmas morning.

Decking the halls - our picture postcard Christmas tree.
A beautiful Christmas bouquet to adorn the table.
Loads of food, family and laughter.
Gorgeous light display at Peddler's Village.
Mother/daughter Sunday afternoon at The Nutcracker and a sushi lunch at the Bistro in Red Bank.  We enjoyed a bottle of wine reminiscent of our trip to Napa last Spring with Cait and Nancy.

Yes, the fun, the sparkle, the magic of the Christmas season is spectacular each year.  The blessings of family and friends fill us with warmth and love.  Just divine.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Dough!

My family has a sort of new tradition.  Whenever it snows, I bring out the bread machine and put up a loaf.  Who doesn't love the smell while it's baking and the warm bread comforts the belly while the snow falls, and feeds the hardworking shovelers.
A view from the front porch - looks like it's sticking.

A bread machine is such an easy way to bake bread.  While our fore-mothers struggled with kneading and resting of the dough, I just throw the ingredients in the machine.

I brought the bread machine up from the basement.  Last time I used it to make dinner rolls for Thanksgiving at Nancy's.

This nifty machine was a given to me by a friend who no longer had room to store it.  It comes with a recipe book.  You just add each ingredient in a specific order, wait a few hours and
Voila - a crusty loaf of home made bread.
Too much snow = too much bread, and that could be a problem if you know what I mean.

I really hate winter - the cold, and especially the wind, but the first snow is always special - a clean beautiful coat to freshen and renew the landscape.  I love when the sun comes out the next day and the blue sky contrasts the bare white branches.  A sparkle of beauty to uplift the winter blues.  

A shot from last year - a symbol of hope - the sun will shine.

Jen's Pinterest Party

Yesterday afternoon I was invited to attend a Pinterest party hosted by friend and fellow blogger, Jen St. Germain Leeman.  You can access her blog at as well as LIKE her Facebook page of the same name.  Jen is the daughter of a very good, long time friend of mine, Susie.  The party concept was so exciting - bring one of your favorite recipes from Pinterest and Jen provided simple crafts for her guests.

I wanted to bring her something as a little gift for visiting her home for the first time.  I was quite honored to be invited.  I checked the remaining herbs in my garden.  Yes, there was still some rosemary and a bit of thyme thriving well under some pine needles.  I made a bottle of infused oil (part extra-virgin olive and part canola) for Jen to enjoy with bread or my favorite way - oven roasted veggies.
In addition to the garden herbs, I added a clove of garlic and a dried bay leaf.  It is important to make sure all the herbs are completely dry or the oils will become cloudy and rancid.
I fudged my choice of Pinterest recipe.  I actually got the recipe from Pillsbury, but it is so cute, I wanted to bring it to share with my new friends.  

It looks very festive and contains broccoli, red pepper and a cream cheese spread.  I must say it tastes better crispy and straight from the oven, rather than wrapped in foil to keep warm.
Jen's new neighborhood is located in a lagoon community, so her seaside wreath was very welcoming as I entered her home.  The decorations were lovely, the food was delish and the company was exquisite.  

Jen's home was decorated with warmth and creativity.  I felt so comfortable meeting all new friends.
The food table displayed several options; I loved the chef salad on a skewer that Nancy made.  
The hot chocolate bar was a hit with kids and adults alike.  Lots of choices to add to the comforting beverage.
The dessert table -- Yum and Yay!

The food, however, was just a part of this great day.  The simple crafts and fun conversations added to the experience.  I had to leave early and Jen gave me a cute goody bag with simmering potpourri to enjoy over the holiday season.

So thankful for the experience -- new friends, good food, fun time.  DIVINE!