Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The scent of Christmas

This is a very easy potpourri to throw together in a bowl. I have my hubby save his orange peels from breakfast for a few days, I just tear the peels into pieces and let them dry overnight. Then I throw in a few tablespoons of whole allspice, whole cloves, whole star anise, a few chopped up (with a hammer) whole nutmegs, several cinnamon sticks and a vanilla bean chopped up. I added a few cranberries to add some color. I put it in a bowl...it looks and smells pretty as a potpourri.

You can also bag up some scoops to give away as a gift. You can buy those cute cellophane bags...this is just a baggie, but it works. My favorite way of using this is to simmer it. You can put a few scoops in a pan of water on the stove or put the pan in the oven at 200 degrees. Keep adding water to the pan. After several days of brewing this, it's best to throw away the used spices, clean up the pan and start over.

I have a small electric thing like a mini crockpot that I use for this. I keep it on my countertop and keep adding water...poor little crock needs some now, I think. I usually try to keep water to the top of it. I have done this for years, I usually start the simmering right after Thanksgiving. Boy, it sure makes my house smell like Christmas!

Friday, December 16, 2011

The halls...

...are officially decked! At least from the decorating aspect.

Brenda made me this wreath...she makes a lot of them to give away as Christmas gifts. Love it!

This is our tree. The only thing missing is the popcorn garlands, which Kayden brought to my attention right away, but it just didn't happen this year. If you look closely, you'll see the Polar Express train around the tree...more on that later!

This is the manger scene we had at our house when I was growing up. I did buy a new stable a couple of years ago, but all the other pieces are still there. I do have a Fisher Price one in the sitting room by the tree for the boys to play with and act out the nativity story.

I did this little Christmas craft with the boys the other night. We used to make these in school too, when I was teaching. I did it to work on patterns. It's just putting bead things on a pipe cleaner. When we did it, I did two red, two white, etc. on mine. Kayden wanted to do red, white, red, white etc. and he really took his time. This is Perrin's. He started out doing one like mine, then suddenly didn't care...but I think it still looks cute!

I have these gingerbread cookies on all my windows. I made them many years ago, real gingerbread dough, raisins and cinnamon buttons. Then I dipped them in wax and they have been preserved ever since. Except when Kayden was two, he took a bit out of one, thinking it was a cookie of course. He spit it out pretty quickly!

My fireplace. I made the stockings when my kids were little. The little boys stockings are in a different place, hanging on a cupboard. The wreath above the tree has lights on it. I didn't get it in the picture.

This is just a large tin with fresh pine, berries and lights by the fireplace.

I got this idea last weekend when I went on a local Christmas tour of homes. (Thank you Karlene for the idea!) So I came right home and did it. The bottom "snow" is Epsom salts, then cranberries and a candle. I have two holly bushes outside so I keep cutting fresh holly every week. The holly berries look so pretty! The little stars are cinnamon/applesauce ornaments I made and dried. It makes the house smell good and I just sprinkle them around wherever.

These are just some old graters I have and I put a candle under each and they're just on a wooden cutting board. Nice little glow when they're lit in the evening! This table is in the middle of my kitchen.

I have several Christmas cookbooks in a basket on my Hoosier cupboard in the kitchen. This cupboard has a gingerbread/holly theme.

This is the first shelf on the Hoosier.

A closeup of the ginger guys.

The little tree has applesauce/cinnamon ginger boy ornaments that I made with the stars.

This little Who house (you know, the Grinch movie and Whoville) I have on my window shelf over my sink. I bought it at Walmart for a few dollars after Christmas last year. I kept it in the box and wrappings and I think it's adorable. It was like one of those kits you put together, only it was already together. I love how the windows are all recessed.

Obviously jars of candy on my counter...

A small tree in the corner of our dining room table.

And my friend Audrey stopped in with this BLUE poinsetta a couple of days ago. I had never seen blue ones before...so pretty!

This is in our mudroom off of our garage, where we hang our coats and take off our shoes. I made the tree picture several years ago.

This is hanging in our hallway...I made this too when I did the tree.

And now we are back to the Polar Express. It really is a fun thing! We just got it last week. We've read the book and now they want to see the movie.

They've been going a good job sharing...so far. They're having lots of fun with it! I love Christmas! Fa la la la la la la la la

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Christmas Adventure

Last Saturday evening, we took the boys to this local event called Journey to the Inn. The weather wasn't too cold but there was a lot of walking and different stops. I knew it would be tiring for me, but also fun! The first stop was where we had to register...like Mary and Joseph did. At each stop, the people were dressed up like Bible times. Next, we moved on to see King Herod. We went in a room in small groups and we were told to say we are looking for the newborn king. Well, King Herod yelled that HE was the only king...and nobody will replace him! Oh dear...Perrin instantly started crying! It was realistic and scary. I hadn't expected that! We rushed them out of there to calm him down and explain it. Kayden didn't cry, but said his hands turned into claws because he was angry at King Herod. Oh boy, traumatic! Our next stop was the Inn in town. The innkeeper said there is no room, but we can warm ourselves by the fire for a bit, which we did. When we left there, we soon came upon some shepherds, their sheep and angels. On the other side of the road were the wisemen, who showed us their gifts for baby Jesus. Kayden said we'd better hurry up and find him before that bad king does...he aaid we need a shortcut. We ended up driving to the Amish Farm where they were taking "census" of people and there was a star above the large barn. We parked in the parking lot and then got on a horse drawn wagon, which took us to the barn. Inside was a live nativity set, with animals and angels in the loft. There was a choir singing. It was nicely set up and the kids could pet the animals. When we were finished there, we walked a candlelit path to the house, where there were cookies, cinnamon rolls and hot chocolate. Then back to the wagon, car and home. I had read the nativity story to them and we acted it out with our little Fisher Price set when we got home. They got into that and relived the whole King Herod trauma again. All in all, a fun Christmas adventure! I only took a couple of pictures...I forgot I even had my camera along and my memory card was nearly full, so this is all I took.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


I just began a new drug 4 days ago called Aztreonam or Cayston. It is a fairly new drug that is inhaled through a special inhaler. It targets the pseudomonas in lungs of cystic fibrosis patients. The little bottle has to be diluted with the liquid stuff...doesn't take long.It is WAY quicker to do the treatment than the TOBI inhaled med was, plus that caused some hearing nerve damage on me, one of the side effects. This takes barely 90 seconds to do. It has to be done three times a day for 28 days, then off 28, then back on, etc. It is only available in four pharmacies in the US and it's very unbelievably expensive! Thank God for good insurance!! It comes with a NUK baby bottle sterilizer and after each use, the mouth piece has to be taken apart, washed and sterilized. So yes, that is much more time consuming than the actual treatment!! I hope this helps keep those pseudos outa my lungs for awhile. I haven't been feeling great the last couple of weeks, although my pft's only dropped a few points. I've been on a prednisone burst of which I'm starting to taper off of now. It has been helping somewhat. I'm hoping to make it through the Christmas season without having to do IV's. I'm getting my port flushed tomorrow also. I'm very thankful to be able to try this new drug, it's been great seeing new things being developed for this disease!

Thursday, November 24, 2011


I am gratefully thankful every day for so many things and feel very blessed. Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


His mommy made him an awesome pirate chest cake!!

Opening some gifts

Playing with his new pirate playmobil.

Kayden had a birthday last week and turned five.Cmon, how in the world did that happen? Seriously. He was a tiny babe at the hospital just yesterday, Cuhrazy!. And now he doesn't want to hold my hand in public anymore because "grandma, I'm big." He has soaked up so much knowledge in these five short years...he's been like a little sponge. He started preschool this fall and goes two full days a week. He told his teacher at orientation that he only wants to learn about dinosaurs and trains. He loves school...he's been known to get up at 5:30 and he'll get his backpack and announce to his sleeping parents that he's ready for preschool...of which, they are less than thrilled! He was excited because his birthday fell on a preschool day and he took cupcakes along for everyone. His friends at school are Paris, Maylee and Jakobi. He loves dinosaurs, trains, pirates, the Cat in the Hat, listening to books and grandmas smoothies. He really doesn't like to take naps or just sleep in general...he would rather be awake and living life...he loves to wrestle with his little brother and daddy. He reminds me in so many ways of his daddy when he was little. I love being his grandma and watching him grow into his own person!

Happy Birthday big guy!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Clinic appointment

I had an appointment this week on Tuesday to get my newly installed port flushed this week. Gail went along to observe and learn how. It's good I had the appointment, because over the weekend I started the familiar joint and chest aching and I have no energy. I hate it so much because I was feeling really good for nearly two months...and I just wanted it to last forever. Ha, yeah right! But it was sure a nice couple of months! My PFTs were surprising to me, they are holding steady...so they just decided to add oral cipro twice a day. Now I'm on four different oral antibiotics a day! I hope I can tolerate cipro yet, I got nauseous yesterday and awhile today. I ended up taking phenergan to help the nausea. And yes, i did eat before i took anything. I'm also to add two extra breathing treatments a day. I go back in a couple of weeks and im sureI hoping this will kick it!

Gail did end up flushing my port then. She did a very good job except pushed the needle a little bit slow. I had forgotten to put numbing cream on, so it hurt. But didn't last long. The whole thing went well. I'm so glad she's willing to do this for me. They will deliver the flush kit every month. I go back in a couple of weeks and hopefully I will feel better by then and lungs sound better!

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Pie Contest

The pie contest event that I entered was last Thursday evening at Walnut Creek Cheese, a unique local shop that is huge. a bulk food area, fresh meats, full deli, regular groceries, wonderful ice cream and an area called The Butter Churn, which has all kinds of unique kitchen ware. So they sponsored this free event plus you could enter a pie contest. I have never done that in my life, but I thought it might be fun. The early entrants would get a free Taste of Home Pie cookbook, so I figured at least I'd get that!
They have daily specials, lots of other food to order to dine in for meals and there is a second story area with tables for eating. This picture is taken from there looking down to the main store area on one side. There were rows of chairs set up instead of tables for that evening and there were 300 people registered. I never even thought of taking my camera along, but my sister-in-law did, or I would have no pictures!

We got there pretty early, so this is just a small portion of the pies...there were 52 altogether, I think. There were long tables that kept filling up. See my lemon meringue pie there and just for fun, I made a baby one in a little half pint jar. Just for cute to see how it would turn out. The judging was to be 50% on taste, 25% on looks and 25% on crust.

So at 5:30, they had cooking demonstrations by Lee Ann Miller (a Taste of Home field editor) and Betty, another lady who works at the store. The did a really good job together. We learned how to make a pretty apple stomboli, as well as a meat one, a chocolate toffee "Christian crack(le)"(you had to be there), a very cool upside down pecan apple pie...all using products in the store and Butter Churn.

We learned and we laughed. Plus, they kept giving away lots of door prizes all evening. It was my lucky night or something...I actually won two prizes, a cookbook and a little cheese grater set. And then the pie winners were announced after the demos. The were 3 categories...fruit, nut and pumpkin. I had entered the fruit with the lemon meringue. There were 3 winners in each category. I was the third place winner in my category! I was so not expecting that AT ALL!! My prize was a free year subscription to Taste of Home magazine and my name gets mentioned in it. Three second place and three first place in each. Then a grand prize person out of them. The grand prize person overall will be featured in the magazine, a Bed and Breakfast stay, $100, and a free subscription. She was also the first place winner in the nut category. Her pie was pecan.

Afterwards, we could sample all the foods that that they had shown recipes for or done demonstrations of and others samples throughout the store, as well as a discount to shop. The meatballs and the smoked turkey were awesome! And that's what I'm having for Thanksgiving! I loved the tables decorated for Christmas too...I got some good ideas!.

This is Judy, my wonderful SIL, who entered two yummy pies, a pumpkin cream and dutch apple. She let me use her oven to bake mine, since we had just ordered a new stove/oven and wouldn't you know, they pick that morning to install it. I was a little stressed, so I ran back and forth to her place baking the crust and then going home to make the filling and meringue, then back up there to put it together and bake it again. So thank you Judy!

The 9 winning pies.

Me and my pie, with exhaustion setting in...but it was certainly a fun evening!!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Fall, the boys and pie

Two beautiful pictures of fall at our house. Our fall has been quite rainy, so when we get a sunny day, we're excited!

These little guys have picked up the ipad moves so quickly, playing some games and reading books, touching and swishing finger across the page. It cracks me up to watch them do this!

We were visited by two little trick or treaters yesterday...Spiderman and a Transformer.

They had fun doing a little trick or treating with some little wizard of oz friends.

I entered a pie contest that is this week and now I'm wondering what I was thinking?! But I guess it'll be fun. I decided on lemon meringue. I just hope it turns out at least semi-good and doesn't fall apart that day!! This was one of my two practice pies I made and we ate!

My port is good...there is a nice little healed up bump there. Next Tuesday I have a clinic appointment and I'll get it flushed for the first time.My nurse friend Gail is going to go along to learn how to do it, it has to be flushed once a month so I don't get clots. I might even try to learn to do it myself, but that doesn't sound too fun right now.

Happy last day of October!