Most of the photos here at Rabbit Run Cottage
can be enlarged just by clicking on each one!
There you go...see? Easy!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

My Children

I was asked to write a little about our adoption experiences. I always love to do just that but would like to wait until I have a bit more time to do it adequately. Until then, I
would love to share some photos.
The first picture we were given of our Grace. We flew to China 3 months later!
In China, during the first hour she was with us. Still just not sure if she can trust these new folks....
During her first few weeks with us...that infectious smile was beginning to grow.
Grace's first American Summer...with one of her favorite people, our neighbor's lovely daughter.
This past Summer...there is that smile!
Dan with Dad...Winter 2004...goatee in place and just one of the many "hairstyles" he has! We never know from week to week how it will be styled!
Thanksgiving at my brother's home, 2005. My treasures...
Christmas 2004, I like that smile!
On a trip to NYC, 2000. A Playboy wannabe? A mother's worst nightmare!
With Daddy on the flight line, NAS Norfolk, 1991
Our son arrives from Korea! The Philadelphia airport, April 1990. He had traveled from Seoul to San Francisco, changed planes and flew to Philadelphia. Tired but totally unafraid...he never stopped smiling. Neither did we!
More to come....

That Cold Is A Comin'!

Tomorrow is December 1st and it would appear that the new month will
blow into our area with a lot of punch! So, while this recipe is NOT for *punch*, it IS drinkable! Deliciously so! Warms you right up on a cold, windy day. Or night. Or afternoon. You decide!
~Hot Spiced Cranberry Cider~
2 quarts apple cider
6 cups cranberry juice
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
4 cinnamon sticks
1 1/2 tsp. whole cloves
1 lemon, thinly sliced
Combine all in a crockpot or a pot on the stove. Cook on "high" for about 30 minutes then just keep warm.
I doubt I have to mention that all the cloves and cinnamon sticks should be removed prior to serving. Well, unless you need the extra fiber that is...ahem.

Of All The Charlie Browns In The World, You Are The Charlie Browniest!

See? All it needed was a little love!
I have the musical soundtrack to "A Charlie Brown Christmas", by jazz composer Vince Guaraldi,
playing in the kitchen this morning. Doesn't this music make you want to dance? Okay, maybe it's just me one will see me except the dog and cat and they won't tell!
This little television treasure is just another film/show (Ferris Bueller, Silverado, When Harry Met Sally, ET AL) that I can spout that just sad? I always had trouble memorizing facts for school but when it came to movie lines...well, heck. This was much more fun.
I loved "A Charlie Brown Christmas" as a child and was thrilled to share it with our son on his first American Christmas, 1990. Two years ago, my new daughter and I snuggled under a quilt and watched it together for the first time. Dan still watches, now with his little sis. Tradition? I hope so!
Schroeder: This is the music I've selected for the Christmas play. [Schroeder is playing Fur Elise]
Lucy Van Pelt: What kind of Christmas music is *that*?
Schroeder: Beethoven Christmas music.
Lucy Van Pelt: What has Beethoven got to do with Christmas? Everyone talks about how "great" Beethoven was. Beethoven wasn't so great.
[Schroeder stops playing]
Schroeder: What do you mean Beethoven wasn't so great?
Lucy Van Pelt: He never got his picture on bubble gum cards, did he? Have you ever seen his picture on a bubble gum card? Hmmm? How can you say someone is great who's never had his picture on bubble gum cards?
Lucy Van Pelt: You DO think I'm beautiful, don't you, Charlie Brown?
Lucy Van Pelt: You didn't answer me right away. You had to think about it first, didn't you? If you really had thought I was beautiful, you would've spoken right up. I know when I've been insulted. I KNOW WHEN I'VE BEEN INSULTED.
Charlie Brown: Good grief.
Patty: Try to catch snowflakes on your tongue. It's fun.
Linus Van Pelt: Mmm. Needs sugar.
Lucy Van Pelt: It's too early. I never eat December snowflakes. I always wait until January.
Linus Van Pelt: They sure look ripe to me.
Charlie Brown: Isn't there anyone out there who can tell me what Christmas is all about?
Linus Van Pelt: Sure, Charlie Brown, I can tell you. Lights, please.
[a spotlight shines on Linus]
Linus Van Pelt: "And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the fields, keeping watch over their flocks by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the lord shone round about them, and they were so afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not, for behold, I bring unto you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you this day is born in the City of Bethlehem, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; you shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel, a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth peace, good will toward men'". That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie brown."
And, as they say at the end of the show...
Merry Christmas Charlie Brown!
"Hark the Herald Angels Sing...."

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

A Nice Surprise Starts The Day

It was hard to get up this morning! Rain was pouring down on the roof and even our Kipper was not keen to hop up and greet the day. The flannel sheets (which need to be changed by the way!) just felt all the more cozy and I was still dreaming about vineyards in Provence! Still, the alarm's jarring bell would not be ignored... Grace and I shared Cheerios and tangerines this morning. She was all chatter and giggles so we were enjoying ourselves quite a bit. I was reading to her from the paper (Which our Kipper brought in for us! He is practically a genius! Well...maybe not *practically* but...) as I often do when I came to one of our favorite local columns. It has been lovingly written for years by a very dear man and always has something heartfelt and inspirational to share. I was surprised to find MY name in it this morning! Grace was thrilled! I really do not know how inspirational it will be for you to read it but have been warmed by the knowledge that many military wives have found comfort in it. I have heard from quite a few of them and do know it was to be used in one wedding ceremony held in San Diego. It is a poem I wrote just after Bill returned from the first Gulf War. It seems that my husband and the columnist had banded together to surprise worked. I will share a bit of the article with you here: "...Sue was married to a Navy officer for 27 years. She wrote a poem about life as a military wife. Her husband, Bill, now retired from the Navy, lives with his wife, son Daniel, 24, adopted from Korea in 1990, and daughter Grace, 8, adopted from China in 2004. 'Sue's poem was selected to be printed in the book Chicken Soup for the Military Wife's Soul', he said. 'I am very proud of her.'
Here is a copy of the poem with permission to share it.
A Navy Wife's Prayer
How often we've stood on dark flight lines and piers. 'I love you, I'll miss you' whispered through tears. During long separations, in peace time, at war My nights filled with dreams of this man I adore. With only my memories to hold close at night I live for the day God returns my sunlight. Yes, life goes on when your loved one's at sea But the ache never leaves, the fear stays with me. Dear Lord, I need Your guidance, Your love. Help me be brave, keep Your watch from above. Hold my dear one so safe in Your heart and Your hand. Bring him home to his family ... this hero ... my man. Of us Lord, I pray he'll be filled with such pride Of how we carried on without him by our side. Please help time fly quickly and soon I will hold The hand of the man whose eyes chase the cold. Whose voice brings delight, whose touch eases pain. How will I ever say "Farewell" again? With your help dear God, I'll try to stay strong. And pray that his time here at home will be long. Still I know that the Navy will need him, I sigh. But we'll face it together, Dear Lord, you and I.
You can purchase this poem along with other stories in the book 'Chicken Soup for the Military Wife's Soul: Stories to Touch the Heart and Rekindle the Spirit' at most local book stores or at"

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

A Good Year = A Nice 2 Hours

My buddy, TH, had a rough Tuesday. She had attended the funeral of an Aunt and wanted to do something calming that would take her mind off the day a bit. We decided to catch a movie at the theater down the road from me. It is a second run house and usually charges just $2.50 but Tuesdays are "Buck 50" nights! Cheap and gosh but they have the BEST popcorn. (Yep, I am a movie popcorn fiend)
My son said "Mom, you never get out alone much these days" and offered to "babysit" with his little sis. Grace was tickled by that prospect. I put some dinner on the stove for them and off I went.
I met my friend and we settled in to enjoy the show.
"A Good Year" is a sweet, charming little film that we both enjoyed. Yes, the critics have been quite harsh. Gee folks, but I am so glad I am not a film reviewer. I can see a movie just for the pure enjoyment of the experience and not have to nit pick it to death. Is some of it predictable? Uh huh. Is some of it cliched? I suppose. But I STILL thought it fun. (And I DO get the similarities to "Under the Tuscan Sun" which I adore by the way!)
Russell Crowe is nice to view...ahem...and Albert Finney is always a delight. Freddie Highmore (From Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Finding Neverland) is such a naturally keen actor. What a face!
I had enjoyed reading the book (Peter Mayle's "A Year In Provence") and looked forward to seeing this film adaptation.
There was a certain European sensibility to this film (and I do not mean just the setting! ). It was a sweet and harmless gem. No, there will not be a lot of awards tossed it's way but it did make for an enjoyable evening.
The cinematography is absolutely breath-taking. The film was awash in golden, water colored landscapes. The chateau was amazing.
Upon leaving the theater and stepping out into the dark and drizzle, one of our fellow patrons joked that we should pool our monies and hire a jet to sweep us away to the vineyards of France.
Well, for just $1.50, my buddy and I were just that...swept away.

Is It December? Not Yet? Whew. What A Relief!

One of my favorite pictures of Bill and Grace from Christmas 2005
After Grace left for school this morning, I decided to enjoy a mug of hot cider and read some of my favorite blogs. One just tickled me so because it hit home with a loud bang! Christmas cards. Home made cards to be exact.
I have blog friends who make hundreds of their own and are SO creative. I admire them. Their cards are little jewels. I wish to be just like them. Maybe next year!
I used to make my own greeting cards. I stamped, I stenciled, I glued, I drew or I short, I was creative! The desire to be that way again is there but that itch will have to wait until next year to be scratched! With Bill away until just before the holiday and some new things to do here, there are not enough hours in the day! Or, maybe, I am just dabbling in a little procrastinating! Guilty as charged!
But hey, I DO have all my shopping done (as of this morning), the outdoor roping and bows are placed (Thank you Honey!), the porch tree decorated and lit and the antique sled decorated and in it's place of honor. The tree is up and waiting for us to make it all pretty. The mantle is almost finished. All of the decoration boxes are out and stand at the, in short, we are making headway. Remember, it is not yet December! Okay, that is what *I* keep telling myself so panic does not set in!
Grace is creating a scrapbook, all by herself, for her aunts and uncles. She is doing an amazing job! My little artist! I know that the recipients will treasure their gift. Oh, and *she* is drawing and coloring all of her cards.
Okay, back to the topic at hand...MY lack of home made cards this year...
I did, however, find some darling "they look home made" cards that we will be sending to friends and family. I have had a family picture copied for each card and am just now beginning to address them all. Then a family letter will need to be written and copied. I also add hand written notes to each card. I actually love doing that so it is no chore.
I guess I need to remember that what matters is the love we send to those who receive our cards...that we enclose our heartfelt good wishes for the season and coming new year. Okay, like so many, I *do* wish I had created my own cards this year but hey. The sentiment will be the same inside of these store bought beauties. We wish you a blessed season. A happy, warm and sweet Christmas Day. We wish you good health and happiness in the coming year. We wish Sue had not been such a procrastinator!
Still, I had some great ideas...maybe I can work on next year's cards this Summer! I will get started earlier. That is a vow.
Grace and I will team up and get those "made with our own 2 hands" babies out to everyone. I swear. Really. Stop snickering now...

You'll Shoot Your Eye Out!

This is from a wonderful web site about this house! An American treasure!
The movie A Christmas Story is arguably one of America's favorite holiday films. Over the years, this modest little movie has grown into a Yuletide perennial.The movie "A Christmas Story" might never have been made had it not been for another, decidedly less reputable comedic creature - "Porky's." That's right. One of the most beloved holiday movies largely owes its existence to an infamous, unabashedly crude teen comedy.In the late 1960s, "A Christmas Story" director Bob Clark was driving to a date's house when he happened upon a broadcast of radio personality and writer Jean Shepherd's recollections of growing up in Indiana in the late '30s and early '40s. Clark wound up driving around the block for almost an hour, glued to the radio until the program was over."My date was not happy," Clark said, but he knew right away he wanted to make a movie out of the stories, many of which first appeared in Playboy magazine and were collected in Shepherd’s 1966 book, "In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash."Clark's adaptation, however, didn't happen overnight. At the time, he was a journeyman director who specialized in low-budget B movies. For years Clark tried to find a studio to finance the film. But none were interested. Nevertheless, Clark held on to his ambition to bring Shepherd's stories to the screen, and, in 1981, he directed Porky's. Which became a hit at the box office. Suddenly he had some clout the bargain with. In the wake of that hit the studio want a sequel to Porky’s. Clark agreed to make a sequel if the studio agreed to let him do “A Christmas Story” first.The modestly budgeted little comedy opened in 1983 the week before Thanksgiving on fewer than 900 screens. The film took in about $2 million its first weekend and double that Thanksgiving weekend – solid business for the time. The movie was getting strong word-of-mouth support. But, MGM hadn’t counted on the movie receiving much success and did not schedule distribution to more than the opening screens for the lead up to Christmas.Thus A Christmas Story disappeared from theatres. Abruptly elbowed into the theatrical void by the bigger seasonal studio movies of the day, most notably Scarface and Christine. Ultimately, A Christmas Story collected about $19 million at the box office. It was a good showing, but not great.At the same time, however, home video and cable television were just beginning to grow in popularity, and A Christmas Story crept into the mainstream through videotape and cable broadcasts. The rights to the movie were sold in 1986 to Warner Bros. by MGM as part of a 50-movie package deal. In fact, MGM practically gave the movie way when it tossed A Christmas Story into the deal in order to simply meet the 50-movie quota agreed to. The cable network TNT first aired its 12 showing, 24-hour marathon as a stunt in 1988, but popular demand turned stunt into tradition. The annual marathon (now aired on TBS) starts every Christmas Eve and attracts more that 40 million people who tune in at some point to watch. A Christmas Story is now one of the most popular holiday movies of all time earning a place along side “It’s A Wonderful Life” and “Miracle on 34th Street.”
Just some trivia: Jean Shepherd's book "In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash", which “A Christmas Story” is based on, is a collection of semi-autobiographical short stories that Shepherd wrote for "Playboy" magazine during the 1960s. The character Scut Farkus, played by Zack Ward, was created specifically for the movie, and never appears in the book. In the book, Grover Dill is the only bully who torments Ralphie. The setting for the movie was based on Hammond, Indiana the home town of author Jean Sheperd. Sheperd grew up on Cleveland St and went to Warren G. Harding Elementary School. Just like Ralphie. The movie was actually filmed in Cleveland, Ohio and Toronto, Ontario. The house from the movie is located just outside of downtown Cleveland and the Higbee building still stands in downtown Cleveland. The Christmas tree shopping scene and many of the inside shots of the house, were filmed in Toronto, Ontario. One of Toronto's trademark red trolleys can be seen driving by the shot of the outside of the tree lot. Ralphie's school exteriors were filmed at Victoria School in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada. To find an American city resembling an Indiana town of the 1940s, director Clark sent his location scouts to twenty cities before selecting Cleveland, Ohio, as the site for filming. In addition to providing the voice-over narration, writer Jean Shepherd had a cameo appearance in the movie as a grouchy department store customer who tells Ralphie to go to the back of the Santa line. Director Bob Clark has a brief cameo appearance as Swede, the Parker family's the dim-witted neighbor with a southern-accent who stops to marvel at the leg lamp from across the street. The role of Mr. Parker, Ralphie's father, was originally offered to Jack Nicholson, who reportedly was interested in playing the part. Director Clark, however, lobbied hard for Darren McGavin. The producers, worried about Nicholson's typically large salary requests, eventually approved McGavin. Yano Anaya, who played Grover Dill (the toadie), appeared in only two other films but is probably best known as the evil paperboy with the war cry, "Two dollars!" in the 1985 John Cusack comedy, "Better off Dead." The Daisy Red Ryder 200-shot Carbine Action Air Rifle with a compass and a sundial on the stock had to be created specially for the film, because it never actually existed.
The St. Catharine's Museum owns the original Daisy Red Ryder 200-shot Carbine Action BB Gun and box used in the film, two pairs of Ralphie's glasses including the pair that was smashed, and two scripts.
For the scene in which Flick's tongue sticks to the flagpole, a hidden suction tube was used to safely create the illusion that his tongue had frozen to the metal.
The "major award" was based on a real lamp: an illuminated Nehi logo.
The Radio Orphan Annie decoder pin that Ralphie receives is the 1940
"Speedomatic" model, indicating that the movie takes place in December, 1940. Different decoder badges were made each year from 1935-1940. By 1941, the decoders were made of paper due to World War II metal shortages.
Some of the "snow" used during the scenes between the kids and the bullies was actually soap flakes. The stars later remarked that they were slipping and sliding during the filming of the scenes.
An elaborate fantasy sequence - in which Ralphie joins Flash Gordon to fight Ming the Merciless - was filmed but dropped from the final cut.
The film was released just before Thanksgiving and became a surprise hit. By the time Christmas rolled around, the movie had already been pulled from most theaters because it had been "played out". After complaints were lodged at the theater owners and the studio, the film played on select screens until after the first of the year 1984.
“A Christmas Story” Inspired the creation of “The Wonder Year” television show. Prior to "A Christmas Story," Peter Billingsley, who played Ralphie, gained fame as a correspondent for the variety show "Real People." He also played Messy Marvin in Hershey's Chocolate Syrup commercials. Though he now concentrates on producing movies, he did take an uncredited role in the Will Ferrell movie "Elf," as an assembly line supervisor in Santa's workshop.
The Sequel – My Summer Story My Summer Story (1994) is the little know sequel to A Christmas Story. My Summer Story originally titled It Runs in the Family is another collaboration of director Bob Clark and author Jean Sheperd. While the film once again features narration by author Jean Shepherd, the cast is entirely different. The only returning cast member is Ralphie's teacher Miss Shield (Tedde Moore). The story takes place soon after the events of A Christmas Story, still revolving around the lives of the Parker family. But summer has arrived, and with school out for vacation, fourth-grader Ralphie (Kieran Culkin) is ready to experience another life-changing season. Throughout the summer, Ralphie prepares himself rigorously to do battle with the class bully, Scut Farkus in a game of tops. Meanwhile, the Old Man (Charles Grodin) declares war on the family's hillbilly neighbors and introduces Ralphie to fishing, Mom (Mary Steenburgen) falls victim to a theatre manager's con, and little brother Randy (Christian Culkin) continues his annoying ways. As with most sequels this one is a far cry from the original brilliance of A Christmas Story. The film has received little praise or notoriety. Jean Shepherd himself admitted - "That one was a real turkey.” A third, made for television movie about the Parker family is called "Ollie Hopnoodle’s Haven of Bliss.”
Okay, let's get down to brass tacks, well, so to speak.
We are HUGE fans of "A Christmas Story" (and Jean Shepherd's work) around here. Bill and I actually saw this gem in a theater a LONG while back! Now, it is a staple on television every December. Most folks I know can quote much of this film verbatim. I guess watching it 24 hours straight on TBS/TNT each Christmas can do that huh?
The "Parker's" house is officially open!
So, what do you think? Should we make a run up North and see this? Yeah! We hope to do just that, weather permitting, when Bill returns to the bosom of his loving family in 2 1/2 weeks. Even old Dan thinks it a whopper of an idea and he is tough sell.
A Christmas Story House and Museum is open year-round.
The days and hours of operation are: Wednesday – Saturday 10 a.m. -5 p.m. Sunday 12 p.m. – 5 p.m. Special opening arrangements and times can be made for group tours. *Please note they are closed Thanksgiving and Christmas and every Wednesday from Jan. 15 – Oct. 31
*Fan restores 'Christmas Story' house* By JOE MILICIA, Associated Press Writer
Ralphie Parker and Brian Jones know what it's like to want something. For Ralphie, the object of desire was an official Red Ryder, carbine-action, 200-shot, range model air rifle. (Go ahead, say it, "You'll shoot your eye out, kid.") For Jones, the gotta-have-it item was Ralphie's house — the one in "A Christmas Story," the quirky film that's found a niche alongside holiday classics like "It's a Wonderful Life" and "Miracle on 34th Street." Jones has restored the three-story, wood-frame house to its appearance in the movie and will open it for tours beginning Saturday. His hope is that it will become a tourist stop alongside the city's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and other destinations. He's unsure whether he'll make enough money to cover his $500,000 investment, but as sure as a kid's tongue will stick to a frozen flag pole, he's committed to the project. "I just want people to come and enjoy it as I have," said Jones, a 30-year-old former Navy lieutenant. "A Christmas Story" wasn't a big hit when released in 1983 but repeat TV airings and, in recent years, a 24-hour run on TBS starting Christmas Eve have made its story of boy's quest to get a BB gun for Christmas as infectious as the bespectacled Ralphie's eager grin. "It just kind of sets the mood. In the Jones household, it's on all day once the marathon comes on," said Jones, who's married with an 8-month-old daughter. Jones first saw the movie in the late 1980s and he and his parents became fans. When the San Diego resident's dream of a becoming a Navy pilot like his father was denied because of his eyesight, his parents sent him a package to lift his spirits. Marked "FRAGILE" on the outside, it contained a leg lamp his parents built to look just like the one received by Ralphie's father, who proudly displayed it in the living room window, boasting, "It's a major award!" Jones' mom noted that he could probably make a business out of selling them. In 2003, he started doing just that. "I tooled together 500 lamps in my 1,000-square-foot condo in San Diego and sold them all in the first year," Jones said. And he's still making and selling them — $129.99 for the 45-inch model, $159.99 for the 53-inch "deluxe full size" leg lamp. When the house from the film was put up for sale on eBay in December 2004, it seemed like destiny to Jones. "I said, `Ooh, I gotta have that.'" The auction price got up to $115,000. Jones, who shares Ralphie's unflinching enthusiasm, less than 20/20 eyesight and ability to speak at a breakneck pace, said he'd pay $150,000 if the owner stopped the bidding. "It was mine. I sent him a deposit and flew out two days after Christmas just to make sure it wasn't a falling-down shack," Jones said. He put in new windows and replaced the 111-year-old house's gray aluminum siding with mustard yellow painted wood and green trim that perfectly matches Ralphie's house. Although only a couple interior shots were filmed there, Jones has recreated the '40s feel of Ralphie's home with a brown-and-white tile kitchen floor, a wide cast-iron sink in the kitchen, a claw-foot bathtub and, of course, a leg lamp in the window. He also bought the house across the street — Ralphie runs past it in the film's opening scene — to serve as a museum and gift shop. Several original items from the film are on display, including the infamous snowsuit ("I can't put my arms down!") worn by Ralphie's brother, Randy. The house is located in Cleveland's Tremont neighborhood, just a few minutes from downtown where the exterior department store shots were filmed at the former Higbee's. The cooperation of the department store is what brought the filmmakers to Cleveland for the film based on author Jean Shepherd's stories of his upbringing in Hammond, Ind. The house is well known in the neighborhood and neighbors like Marlene Childers have watched the house change owners and go through ups and downs over the years. She's excited about Jones' tribute — even if it means more cars and traffic. "I love that story," she said. Jones knows the feeling. And he says stepping onto Ralphie's old street makes him feel like he's in the movie. Standing in front of the house holding a replica Red Ryder rifle, he discusses his future plans — which could include a nearby bed and breakfast — when, seemingly on a director's cue, a motorist passes, stops his car, rolls down the window and shouts, "You'll shoot your eye out, kid!"
I so wish we could have been there for the grand opening!
Wouldn't that have been fun?
NOVEMBER 25, 2006
The Grand Opening of A Christmas Story House, now restored to its movie glory, will take place on Saturday, Nov. 25. Also opening directly across the street from the house is the official A Christmas Story House Museum, which will feature original props and memorabilia from the film, as well as rare behind-the-scenes photos. Actors from “A Christmas Story” who played Randy, Flick, Scut Farkus, Grover Dill and Miss Shields will officiate the opening ceremonies.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Peppermint Bark

I think that Grace and I have it narrowed down....what sort of treat to take to our neighborhood exchange. Something pepperminty...that was agreed upon. This is a recipe that our dear friend B.H always makes. It is easy and good. Two words I LOVE when it comes to recipes!
1 bag white chocolate chips
A good handful (or so) of peppermints (or 2-3 candy canes)
Some people add nuts. If your family is nuts like mine...erp...I mean, EATS nuts like mine, it is a nice addition. Ahem.
Melt the white chocolate chips over low heat until smooth. Spread wax paper on a cookie sheet or brownie pan.
Spread white chocolate on wax paper with a spatula.
You can swirl in a bit of red food coloring for added color OR add more for pink bark!
Crush the peppermints or candy canes with a mallet. Ball bat. Sledgehammer. Whatever.
Sprinkle peppermint on top and put in refrigerator until cool and hardened.
Pull candy from fridge and carefully break up into pieces.
Could not be easier and really is delicious!
Okay. That decision is out of the way....on to the 2879 others!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

East 68th Street NYC

Lucy...I'm home.
Okay. I admit it. I am an addict. I am a slave to "I Love Lucy". I am powerless over Fred and Ethel. I own the DVDs. I have seen every episode 1647 times. I know the dialogue by heart. All of these are facts yet, who do you think will still stop what she is doing, sit down and watch when she catches an episode on television? Uh huh. Me.
9:00PM, October 15, 1951.
From that minute forward, I Love Lucy went on the air, and has never been off since. Television critics of the day were already beginning to tire of the sitcom centered on the institution of marriage. But what is it about that show biz wannabe redhead, her Cuban bandleader husband, and their landlords/best friends/co-conspirators that drove upwards of 40,000,000 viewers a week to tune in - and continues to entertains millions of people the world over? Perhaps the key lies with the show's mastery of the graceful transition from sense to nonsense. Each episode opens with a plausible situation (home economy, child rearing, postdating a check) thrown awry with exaggerated absurdity (Lucy is starched, frozen, stuffed with chocolate, locked in a trunk, and lowered to the deck of a ship by helicopter, just to name a few). Yet somehow, Lucy never seems to lose touch with the audience - the show is human, and so are we.
While the comic brilliance of Lucille Ball and the magic chemistry of the four main characters were the cornerstones of the show, I Love Lucy owes its success in no small part to a band of brilliant creators and innovators. The show gave birth to the rerun, was the first to use three cameras simultaneously filming before a live audience, and overcame many technical obstacles of early television through ingenious lighting, set design, and editing.
So, you see? I am simply, happily, powerless when it comes to my love for the Ricardos and the Mertzes.
Lucy, you got some 'splainin' to do.

And The Rest Of The Story....

Now, how do you top off an evening of good food, laughter and conversation? Why, with a visit to Coldstone Creamery of course!

Dinner Doin's at Max and Erma's

Bill with our nephew Chris
Bill's brother Bob, sister in law Teresa and our nephew Nate We had a nice evening out with Bill's family last night. It is so hard to believe the boys are so grown up. I just love these guys. Chris is so tall and such a super young man. Nate is an authority on all things Star Wars. He and Grace have always shared a bit of a bond. They are close in age and really like one another. It is so good to spend time with family, especially during a holiday weekend.

A Warm November Day

The Divine Miss M and Glamorous Gracie
Lord help us! They already know how to work a camera!
Okay, what does 1 warm day in November + 2 active girls + 2 fun loving Daddies + a lovely local preserve's walking trail = ?
Lots of fun!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Musings And Thankfulness...Sort Of

Okay, Bill played in the Turkey Bowl again and did NOT come home all purple, red and blue. Stiff and sore stitches! I am thankful! Dan saw to it that Dad behaved himself and, luckily, the players this year were all older. Hey! That DOES make a difference!
I was touted as "Wife of the Year" by all the guys who witnessed Bill's injury from a year ago. It had been widely thought that Bill would never be "allowed" to play again! Heck. The man is 50 years old. If he wants to play football...maybe I am crazy but hey...2 psychiatrists say I am perfectly sane. Really! So, off he went to play in the mud with the other boys.
Thanksgiving Day was nice...Grace and I cooked up our contributions for the dinner and watched the Macy's Parade together. We crossed out fingers and toes, shut our eyes and hoped we would be in NYC next year!
Best Cooking Memory: Grace breaking the eggs for the muffins....she tapped the first egg on the counter but had not cracked it quite enough. When she poked her thumbs into said egg, it exploded all over her face. Now WHY didn't I have the camera ready? The look was priceless! She and I laughed so come on. That's comedy folks!
Dinner was was 55 degrees and sunny...we all watched "Babe" and a little football...the kids played...the dogs and the cat all got turkey...all was right with the world.
I thought about Bill's folks a lot. Thanksgiving was his Mom's favorite holiday. She left us late Summer last year. Bill's Dad was with us for Thanksgiving in 2005 but, without warning, passed away not long after. He had enjoyed the day with us, smiling at the antics of his grand daughter and her cousin Boo. He had so enjoyed talking to our Danny and laughing at my brother's jokes.
I thought about my Dad. It has been 6 years since he left us. He enjoyed this holiday. I have some great memories of so many Thanksgivings with my family.
I like to remember that....okay. Now I am smiling!
I really do have so much for which I am thankful.
I could get all sappy and sentimental and sugary and sticky. I do have that ability when it comes to my memories and those I love. I am a sucker for so many things and get weepy so easily it would, well, bring tears to your eyes. Ahem.
The basics are all in are healthy, pets are too, we love our family and Bill has a good job (albeit in VA for the time being). Mom has moved close by, we have loving friends and a comfortable home. We love our city and neighbors and know. All the things for which most people are always grateful.
All of that aside, I have compiled a list of the *other* things for which I am very grateful this Thanksgiving weekend. I hope you get a chuckle from some and a good feeling from others!

I am thankful that/for...

None of my plants have died this month.
I did not die this month. Hey! That is something to say thanks for don'tcha think?
None of our cars are in the shop.
No one we know has had to call a plumber, electrician or roofer this month.
Our house did not sell, we did not move to VA and we will stay, firmly entrenched, in the
Midwest where we belong. Yes, we are that boring.
No one we know is in jail.
No one we know is being sought by the FBI. At least, we do not think so.
Ohio State Football is NUMBER 1!
Ohio has not been hit by an earthquake, hurricane or tsunami this year.
My jeans all still fit. Almost. Mostly.
We are an adoptive family.
Our house has not been destroyed by a meteor, runaway city bus, giant squid or Marshmallow Man. Hey! I have seen it happen. Well, in a movie but we all know that movies only report the truths in life. Just like the National Enquirer.
On that note....
No one we know has been in the Enquirer. Or read it. Out in the open. Well, maybe it was scanned at the grocery store....
We did not make it to Paris for my birthday this year but did go to St. Louis. A French connection is a French connection.
Paris Hilton does NOT think any of us are hot. Thank you God!
Donald Rumsfeld is outta here.
(Oops. Was that one of those political doo dads I promised never to mention on this blog? I apologize.)
I have so enjoyed many wonderful possessions over the years and I was able to give many of them away this year. We just made another sizable donation this week. I love that. Downsizing is a blast, especially when it helps others.
For the first time in 4 years, no one we know is in Iraq or Afghanistan for the holidays.
Did I mention that Donald Rumsfled is outta here?
Our house has 3 toilets. Decadent by world standards I know but oh how wonderful!
I was raised in East Dayton, Ohio. With one toilet. I do not remember minding that.
A few weeks ago I was told (by a cashier at our grocery store) that I was just "a too too boring, too
too nice, too too Midwestern woman!" Hey! It WAS a compliment! She said that nothing could be better to to be! Most of us here are!
Darn proud of it too...too!
Locksmiths work 24/7 in case Bill locks his keys in his car again.
Firefighters and Police Officers
The Cheesecake Factory, KD's Bar B Que, J Alexander's, Graeter's, North China,
Carrabas, Potbelly's, Chipotle, Chow's Asian Bistro, Coldstone Creamery, Christopher's,
and the list goes on....
And in conjunction,
My husband still thinks I am beautiful....even with the extra pounds.
Tom and Katie did NOT invite us to their wedding. Thank God. I had nothing to wear.
Books & Company and Starbucks
Target...ooh. Target!
Brian Dennehy, Gary Sinise and Chris that order.
Theaters. Stage and movie
None of us care about the Federline's, the Cruises (probably why we did not get that invitation), the Jolie/Pitt's, the Rock/Anderson's or if Jennifer and Vince will marry.
Dogs and cats.
Our military.
We were a part of that military family for 27 years.
No one we know has a reality series.
During the last month, we have not watched a reality series.
Our life COULD NEVER BE a reality series but that is a good thing right?
I am at the end of this list.
(This is something for which YOU are thankful!)

Thanksgiving At Grandma's

1. My brother and my nephew, The Boo Man, as I call him!
2. Glamorous Grace and her cousin Boo
3. Dashing Dan and Glamorous Grace
Just a few of the things for which I give thanks every day!

Grace Bakes A Loaf Of Pumpkin Bread!

This is our Gracie, at Grandma's, showing off the Pumpkin Spice bread she helped to make for Thanksgiving. She was not happy that Daddy began to cut it before a picture was taken, thus, THE FACE! She was such a big help this year! Notice the pumpkins and leaves embossed on top. Great pan from William Sonoma.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving 2006

"Remember God's bounty in the year. String the pearls of His favor. Hide the dark parts, except so far as they are breaking out in light! Give this one day to thanks, to joy, to gratitude!"
-Henry Ward Beecher
May this be a warm, blessed and sweet day for you and those you hold dear.
Happy Thanksgiving to you all....

Turkey Bowl Turkey 2005

This is why God never intended 50 year old men to indulge in a little *touch* football with much younger players. Remember that this photo was taken 5 days after the accident, er, game! Still, he did look cute all purple and blue.

Thanksgiving Eve

Grace painted a posh pumpkin for our centerpiece...won't it look just lovely?

Mr. Cheese Is The Host With The Most

Miss M with the Glamorous Grace at The Chuckster's place


It's the night before Thanksgiving and all through the house....all the creatures were stirring muffin mixes and vegetable casseroles!
I am baking a divine smelling pumpkin bread. Let's hope it tastes just as delicious and mouth watering as the scrumptious scent wafting through the house.
We will be going to my mother's tomorrow afternoon. My sis in law and brother are bringing some things, we will bring others. Mom is handling the turkey and mashed potatoes. She makes the yummiest mashers. Fun to share the cooking and goodies. And yes. I AM actually quite excited about the things I am making. I can cook occasionally! Really! My baked chicken is legendary but I digress....
Tomorrow morning Bill will be playing in the annual Fairborn, Ohio Turkey Bowl. This is the 34th year for this rough and rowdy extravaganza co-founded by Bill and a group of high school friends. What started as a little muddied, rough and tumble pigskin toss up among friends has grown over the years. Most of the original fellas stopped playing years ago. The teams now consist of military personnel from the Air Force base, college students from Wright State University and boys from the area high schools. Bill and one of his old HS buddies, Mark, are the soul Old Timers that still hang on to the dream. Old being the operative word here. Ahem. And yet they play. Bloodied and battered but never bowed, they persevere. Well, lest we wax too poetic, we shall now reminisce about LAST year. Oh yes, that was the year Bill was driven to the ER where he received 8 stitches, a deep, regal purple & crimson red eye and a nagging headache. And not a single flag on the field!
Let's hope that he returns to the bosom of his adoring family a little less "colorful" than last year.
We all slept in this morning and had a late breakfast. The sun was so welcome today. Warm and oh so bright. Grace, her best friend, the Divine Miss M, and Bill did the park thing. We are lucky to have a very nice city park just behind us. It is well tended and has some fun play equipment that the girls really enjoy.
On the spur of the moment, I decided to take advantage of my free afternoon and see "The Queen". I called my mother and my buddy (who lives in the same complex) and we headed out to catch this masterpiece. It is simply a superb film. Helen Mirren is amazing. Mixing on the mark performances with documentary footage, the film is wickedly amusing at times, heart wrenching the next. I thought that Michael Sheen's Tony Blair was outstanding.
We had Miss M. for dinner as well and a promised trip to Chuck E Cheese was in the offing. Oh yes, that rat is a terrific host according to the girls. They indulged in a little pizza and salad but that took the back seat to the mad dash for POINTS!!! I am sure that any parent/grandparent/aunt/uncle reading this needs no introduction to the Chuckster. Now, here is where I will admit to actually enjoying the place. Really. I am serious. No, the food will not win any culinary awards and the noise decibel level has been compared to Pete Townsend's guitar solos from the late 70s. Still, the kids are a hoot. Yeah, I am nuts but I actually love watching and listening to them. And after a couple of hours with Mr. Cheese, the girls were more than ready to hit the pillows without argument! Ah, serenity now.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Weekend Clause

Bill joined Grace, Mom and me for church on Sunday. There was some lovely music courtesy of the bell choir. We met friends for lunch, took a little drive and then caught a matinee of "The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause" The first two were such sweet, happy fun. This one was, I am sad to say, not. Well, not a lot of it. There was not, for me at least, any real sense of warmth. I usually adore Martin Short but something was just missing. Something... There was the "balancing work and family" storyline but wasn't it all a little too, too, "It's a Wonderful Life" toward the end? Eh. Grace enjoyed it and her smiles always make us do the same. The popcorn was really good and we had a nice outing. What the heck. So many new films out or about to make their debut. Should be fun!