December 4th ~ De-stressing!

On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me,

 a nice cup of chamomile tea.


Well we’ve made it home. (OK not yet, but when I wrote this I really did intend to post on date.) It was a wonderful cruise (pics to come, I promise!) but coming home is also so very nice. Now it’s time for me to play catch up and plan my month and change out my decorations. I’ve got to get my meals together for at least a week, hit the grocery store, find a tree…oh so much to do! And after all that I plan to de-stress a little so that I can savor the season in good health, good spirits, and good fun!

Aside from the 15 minute energy booster walks and Pilates sessions to stave off all that calorie intake, they are also  incredible de-stressers. Once the kids are on their Christmas Break from school and you’re all spending a lot more time together on a daily basis, these 15 minute walks will really help. There’s something about a 2 week Winter Break that is totally different from a 2 and a half month Summer Break. Is it because there is so much more going on outside in the summer? Summer day camps, swimming, beaching…..very little of that in the winter to be sure. While the kids will still have their times running around outside (we are in the South after all) there will plenty of indoor time that can tweak the nerves of even the most patient parents.

Don’t let looking at that full, busy calendar scare you. The calendar is a useful tool, meant to help- not stress. It’s easier to tackle a lot of things when you can see what’s expected and then get through them one at a time (for me it’s easier anyway).  But if you start to feel overwhelmed then put on a jacket and go outside for a quick 15 minute getaway. The fresh air will do wonders, not to mention the benefits of exercise for both body and soul.

If the weather is not participating and you are about to loose your mind, do what I do and lock yourself in the bathroom. No, no, I’m just kidding- although jumping in the shower does help me calm down. Water is theraputic, plus just being in a space all by myself for 10 minutes puts me in a different frame of mind.

Be prepared for the winter solstice, which is the shortest day and longest night of the year, typically around Decmeber 20th. If you’re already feeling stretched then you may be at risk for a mood dip. Getting outisde while it’s still light out will help lift your spirits.

Have a cup of tea- preferably in a quiet part of your home, or if you can get away to a local coffee shop by yourself. But beware of a crowded coffeehouse. The energy levels and noise in there will not be calming. I love tea in the winter. Chamomile is a very relaxing tea, best drunk in the evening. The health benefits of green and black teas are extremely good, and you usually can even find your favorite flavor in a green variety.

My favorite teas are:  Bigelow Orange and Spice, (It’s very Christmas-y but I’ll drink that anytime of year- especially when I’m craving something comforting) Stash Organic Chai Black and Green tea, Tazo Green Tea, The Vert, and The Republic of Tea Cranberry Blood Orange.

If you have 20 or 30 minutes to spare, run a bath and enjoy your cup of tea soaking in the tub. You get both the calming benefits of tea and water. Take these small moments to recover your sanity and enjoy the holiday season. Don’t sweat the small stuff and remember the real reason for the season.

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

Colossians 3:17  NIV

December 3 ~ Party Going!

On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me,

 a sparkly dress for his boss’s party.

Had this been posted on the real Dec. 3rd I would have said something like this: It’s time to come home. We’ve had an amazing week and a long day of driving ahead of us. But luckily you get to read this fascinating blog instead of spending 8 hours in the car. (And you can imagine us driving and driving toward home on the 3rd….)

As you know my husband is a minister. Every year there is a District Christmas party. In previous districts making it to the party was always on the agenda, as well as convenient. Living on the island however, well, not so convenient. In most cases it’s a 3 hour drive one way. We did it the first year, but after that it became increasingly harder. One of the reasons was because Thanksgiving time is the only vacation time Cory gets, and so we use it as our family vacation time. Hence the cruise. Last year it was a week in Chicago, and before that we spent several years in a row in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The only real downside is that the boys miss extra days of school. A small sacrifice for a lifetime of special moments and memories.

The point to all this rambling is that once again this year we will miss our District Christmas party, but unlikely that we won’t attend one altogether, and you still have to get ready for your engagements. Here’s how you will be able to party away while savoring the season in good health, good spirits, and good fun!

The average person consumes an extra 619 calories a day between Thanksgiving and New Years Day (courtesy of Texas A&M International University).  But if weight control is an issue for you then you should know that it’s what you put in your mouth between New Years and Christmas that is the real problem. Here are some tips for keeping the weight gain down during the holiday season.

  1. Get on the scale. Checking your weight regularly will actually help you avoid packing on extra pounds.
  2. You may not be a wine drinker, but a glass of white wine before a meal can help lower your appetite for carbs. It’s also helpful to slowly sip wine while you eat. Just keep it reasonable: alcohol has calories too.
  3. Find 15 minutes a day (at least 4 times a week) to burn some calories by talking a brisk walk or jog, Pilates or yoga, or pop in a motivational aerobic DVD. 
  4. Eat slowly. Most people scarf down a meal in 5 to 15 minutes. It’s hard to know if you’re truly full that way, plus it’s too much for your body to digest quickly so a lot of it gets converted to fat. Try to take 30 minutes. It’s much easier to say no to seconds when there is still food on your plate.
  5. At the buffet table it’s easy to indulge and eat way more sugar and fat than we normally would. Plus the more variety = more indulgence. Be aware of what you are putting in your mouth. You can eat those rich foods, just in very small amounts. Enjoy a few bites of 2 or 3 different delicacies, but then load up your plate with vegetables.
  6. You will probably doing a lot more cooking and baking during this time than normal. I don’t know about you but I tend to “taste” a lot while I’m cooking. If you’re counting calories anyway this is not a helpful thing. There is no way to keep track of how many calories you’re consuming before you’ve even sat down to a meal. So keep the tasting to a minimum.

Now that you’re ready to enjoy the evening while still feeling great in your party dress, make sure you don’t forget your hostess gift. This is not a required thing, but still a very acceptable and lovely tradition. Or what about those parties that ask you to bring small gifts for a round of Secret Santa? Or how about when you receive an unexpected gift and want to reciprocate?

Dragonfly Screen Critter

There are a lot of private shops and boutiques here on the island. They each sell an amazing array of both commercial and independent sundries. Being around so many local artists also lends the unique shopping experience of finding a treasure that can be found nowhere else. Such is the case with these Screen Critters. At $8 or $9 each it’s too easy to have some extras handy for last minutes gifts. They are super cute and come in all variety of “bugs”.

Bulk buying isn’t the only way to go, of course. If you’re buying for someone in particular than it is certainly easier to make it more personable. But let’s face it, sometimes you just need that last-minute gift. Bottom line is, if it’s something you would buy for yourself then you shouldn’t be worried about gifting it.

Which brings me to regifting. We’ve all done it. You don’t have to admit it, it’s okay. I don’t think regifting is a bad thing. But I encourage you to be aware of who gave it to you and where it’s going next. I’ve been the recipient of a regift. If you know it’s a regift, then it’s not a good thing. No one should be able to tell they’ve been regifted.

Back on the bulk gifts real quick: you may feel it’s cheating, but it’s not. Especially in these economically difficult times, it makes sense to buy several reasonably priced items (things you would use or like to have) and keep them at the ready. There was a time when my boys were younger and birthday parties were plenty, but cash and time was not. This also stems from living on an island where a run to Walmart takes up 3 hours of your time in driving alone.  In my attic was a Rubbermaid tote full of kid-friendly toys and gifts. Granted it was mostly boy gifts, but a few gender-friendly ones as well for the occasional girl invite. Go to the thrift store (only buy new items obviously), or to discount stores like Big Lots, and stock up rather cheaply. I love Big Lots when I can find one because they carry brand names at super low prices. This was extremely convenient.

Now, does that sound like cheating to you? It’s the same principle with adult gifts. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Enjoy your holiday as stress free as possible, and don’t forget to remember the real reason for the season.

“You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.”

~ 2 Corinthians 9:11    NIV


December 2 ~ Decorate!

On the second day of December my true love gave to me –                                       

  a beautiful Christmas tree!

Today is day 2 in my 25 Days of Christmas blog series, and I’m still aiming to savor the season in good health, good spirits, and good fun!

What’s the Christmas Season without a few baubles here and there? Or…. everywhere. Decorating always helps me get into the spirit. I love this time of year, and I’ll admit that I love all of it. Not just the spiritual part, not just the commercial part, but all of it. So at the first of the month I am taking down my Fall decorations, hauling boxes of decorations out of the attic, turning on some great Christmas music, lighting some yummy-smelling candles, and creating a Christmas haven of my own. Oh yeah, you know what I’m talking about. Throw some cinnamon sticks and orange peels in the oven (or in some water on your stove top) and let the smell simmer and waft throughout the house. WOW! Christmas is coming 🙂

BTW for a fabulous collection of Christmas carols I found this great CD in a Brookstone’s store years ago. It remains a favorite today. It’s called Christmas Chillout by Crystal Theory.

In my house I usually set up my Halloween/Thanksgiving decorations the first of October. After Halloween I’ll remove some of the more holiday-themed pieces and kept the rest of the Fall stuff up. As soon as Thanksgiving is over I will find a day to clear all of those decorations, store it all back neatly in their Rubbermade totes, put them back into the attic, and switch out my many, many totes of Christmas things. I may not have a tree yet, but there is plenty to do otherwise.

Now, I’m not eccentric. I’d decorate more if I could, but generally it all stays in the main living room, and a little bit upstairs in the family room. I don’t decorate every room of the house other than little knickknacks; some rooms don’t get any adornment at all. I have a friend who has one of those huge Christmas Village sets. It’s awesome! It takes her a long time to put it all up and arrange it just right. And it takes even longer to take it all down and pack everything away safely. Needless to say, it stays up longer than one month. She will put Christmas-y things in every room of her house. It makes each room very comfortable and you always feel the spirit wherever you are.

I want to enjoy my decorations. I just like the feeling of Christmas. Do you know what I mean? It’s like how you felt as a kid on your birthday (or even Christmas) when even if you’re doing normal everyday things there’s something about that day just feels different (because it is- duh). Well, Christmas still gives me that feeling but instead of it being just one day, it lasts the whole season. So with all that being said, I decorate early in the month because a lot of work goes into decorating a house and a tree, and darned if I’m not going to enjoy it longer than a week or two!

Enjoy this peaceful day of preparing your home and your heart before the mayhem sets in. And as always remember the reason for the season. Take time every day to be thankful.

“From them will come songs of thanksgiving and the sound of rejoicing. I will add to their numbers, and they will not be decreased; I will bring them honor, and they will not be disdained.”

~ Jeremiah 30:19   NIV

December 1 ~ Plan your month!

On the first day of December my true love gave to me –                                              

  a cruise on the Caribbean Sea.

 la la la la la la la……

Today is the first day in my 25 Days of Christmas blog series. You have not lost your mind. It really is November 25th. I will not be able to post from Nov. 29 – Dec. 4, so the first few days of my December series will be posted early. That does mean that there will be several days with no posts, but on the 5th of December I will pick right up where we left off.

So, where was I? Oh yeah, the 1st day of December…..

The number one thing you should do to be able to savor the season in good health, good spirits, and good fun is to plan your month! If at all possible you should sit down with a calendar and start filling in the days. There is a lot going on in December. The first thing you should be able to do is fill in those party dates and travel dates.

Party invites can still pop up unexpectedly, especially those given by friends of the impromptu sort. In cases like those you will just have to roll with the punches and attend the gatherings you can (or want) and not sweat the small stuff. But generally speaking, Christmas (excuse me…Holiday) party invitations are sent out in November, especially when they are work-related or are annual affairs. If you are planning to host a gathering yourself then hopefully you have already set the date, sent the invitations, and have begun planning.

If you are traveling you will have an idea of when to start packing, preparing, etc. so that your trip does not drive you crazy. Traveling can be exhausting (I need a vacation from my vacation!) but throw a holiday into the mix and you’ve got a whole new breed of vacation. Don’t stress yourself out or let others stress you out. Be prepared and help (and pray for) your spouse to be prepared as well. Look at it this way, if you’re traveling to someone else’s house (or a cruise 🙂 ) then that’s X number of days you won’t have to plan and cook!

If you are staying home for the holidays then you’ll need to plan your menu for the evenings you’ll be home. Even if you don’t normally do this it will really help keep the stress low during this hectic month. Once you’ve done that you can pencil a few days throughout the month for going to the grocery store. Nobody likes having to run to the store for that missing ingredient while the oven is preheating. Be prepared and you’ll enjoy your tasks more.

There are other things to consider when penciling in your calendar besides parties, traveling, or meals. Things like, Christmas Caroling, regular church services or cell groups, and what about Christmas plays and programs at church or your child’s school? How about scheduling in a nice, quiet family night? Don’t forget your baking days, decorating days, or shopping and wrapping days.

Sounds like a lot? IT IS! That’s why you need to plan- so you will stay calm and peaceful and can enjoy the season. And never forget the real reason for the season. Take time every day to be thankful.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving
   and his courts with praise;
   give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the LORD is good and his love endures forever;
   his faithfulness continues through all generations.

~ Psalm 100:4-5 NIV

25 Days of Christmas

If you are wondering why I am posting about Christmas on Thanksgiving Day, please see yesterday’s post Giving Thanks.

Jadon in front of my parents' fireplace

You may not know what the 12 Days of Christmas actually are, or when they are. The 12 Days of Christmas are the 12 festive days of celebration known as Christmastide, beginning on December 25th and ending on January 5th, which is the day before the Feast of Epiphany (Jan. 6th).

Image borrowed from theDailydigi

The Christian (liturgical) calendar is perpetually in a state of Feast, Memorial, or Commemoration.  There is no part of the year that isn’t celebrated or symbolic in some way. While the Christian year is organized around two major centers of sacred time, Advent (Christmas and Epiphany) and Lent (Easter, Holy Week and Pentecost), the whole year is accounted for in “counted” or “ordinary” time, which is June 13 – November 26th. This means that from the time the Feast of Pentecost ends until Advent begins, the calendar will read like this: First week after Pentecost, Second Week after Pentecost, and so on. In some traditions a Church might even break up Pentecost and add in Kingdomtide from the last Sunday of August until the beginning of Advent.

So what are the 25 Days of Christmas then? That is what most people consider to be the Christmas Season. Even Christians do this- it’s not a “bad” thing. I intend to take the 25 Days of Christmas (Dec. 1 – Dec 25) and help make them a little bit better by creating a calendar of my own that will help everyone savor the season in good health, good spirits, and good fun! Throw in a dash of reverence for “the reason for the season” and we’ve got the makings of a month-long blog series.

Every Knee Shall Bow ~ Isa 45:23

How fun! Stay tuned. Tomorrow will be the first day of my 25 Days of Christmas series. Maranatha!

BUT Before I go…here is that Pumpkin Trifle recipe I promised you last month….yay! I tried several recipes and they were all good, but this one is my favorite. Note that you can easily substitute spice cake for the gingerbread.

Recipe and image courtesy of Food Network

 Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle

2 (14 oz) pkgs gingerbread mix

1 (5.1 oz) box cook-and-serve vanilla pudding mix

1 (30 oz) canned pumpkin pie filling

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/3 t. ground cardamom or cinnamon

1 (12 oz) container frozen whipped topping

1/2 cup gingersnaps, optional

DIRECTIONS: Bake the gingerbread according to the package directions; cool completely. Meanwhile, prepare the pudding and set aside to cool. Stir the pumpkin filling, sugar, and cinnamon into the pudding. Crumble 1 batch of gingerbread into the bottom of a trifle bowl. Pour 1/2 of the pudding mixture over the gingerbread, then add a layer of whipped topping. Repeat with the remaining gingerbread, pudding, and whipped topping. Sprinkle the top with crushed gingersnaps, if desired. Refrigerate over night.

Birth of a New Tradition. No Chinese, Please.

~ Christmas 2011 ~  This is also post #2 for the day. If you missed it, check out Giving Thanks.
As the holidays approach, the giant Asian factories are kicking into high gear to provide Americans with monstrous piles of cheaply produced goods — merchandise that has been produced at the expense of American labor. This year will be different. This year Americans will give the gift of genuine concern for other Americans. There is no longer an excuse that, at gift giving time, nothing can be found that is produced by American hands. Yes there is!
It’s time to think outside the box, people. Who says a gift needs to fit in a shirt box, wrapped in Chinese produced wrapping paper?

· Everyone — yes EVERYONE gets their hair cut. How about gift certificates from your local American hair salon or barber? · Gym membership? It’s appropriate for all ages who are thinking about some health improvement.
· Who wouldn’t appreciate getting their car detailed? Small, American owned detail shops and car washes would love to sell you a gift certificate or a book of gift certificates.
· Are you one of those extravagant givers who think nothing of plonking down the Benjamins on a Chinese made flat-screen? Perhaps that grateful gift receiver would like his driveway sealed, or lawn mowed for the summer, or driveway plowed all winter, or games at the local golf course.
· There are a bazillion owner-run restaurants — all offering gift certificates. And, if your intended isn’t the fancy eatery sort, what about a half dozen breakfasts at the local breakfast joint. Remember, folks this isn’t about big National chains — this is about supporting your home town Americans with their financial lives on the line to keep their doors open.
· How many people couldn’t use an oil change for their car, truck or motorcycle, done at a shop run by the American working guy?
· Thinking about a heartfelt gift for mom? Mom would LOVE the services of a local cleaning lady for a day or a trip to a lovely spa for a message.
· My computer could use a tune-up, and I KNOW I can find some young guy who is struggling to get his repair business up and running.
· OK, you were looking for something more personal. Local crafts people spin their own wool and knit them into scarves. They make jewelry, and pottery and beautiful wooden boxes.
· Plan your holiday outings at local, owner operated restaurants and leave your server a nice tip. And, how about going out to see a play or ballet at your hometown theatre.
Musicians need love too, so find a venue showcasing local bands.
· Honestly, people, do you REALLY need to buy another ten thousand Chinese lights for the house? When you buy a five dollar string of light, about fifty cents stays in the community. If you have those kinds of bucks to burn, leave the mailman, trash guy or babysitter a nice BIG tip.
· You see, it’s not about taking the business away from China, it’s about us caring and encouraging American small businesses to keep plugging away to follow their dreams. And, when we care about other Americans, we care about our communities, and the benefits come back to us in ways we couldn’t imagine.
· THIS is the new American Christmas tradition.
. This is a revolution of caring about each other, and isn’t that what Christmas is about?

God Bless and Merry Christmas!


~ Giving Thanks ~

I recently saw a picture forwarded on the internet, and while many of you have most likely seen it, I wanted to share.

I don’t know about you, but I am glad someone has finally said it.

I love Christmas, don’t get me wrong. But the commercialism of it has grown into a bit of a monster. What ever happened to celebrating a true, organic holiday? I mean, there are so few of them left. By the time the new year has come around there is Valentine’s Day stuff in the stores, and that is barely even over before Easter garb is in the aisles. It’s ridiculous. Christmas trees, ornaments, and whatnot have been in stores since Halloween. Does no one ever consider Thanksgiving as a relevant holiday other than the day we all feast on turkey simply because there is no commercial angle to it?

Well, I for one look forward to Thanksgiving every year for many reasons, not the least of which is to celebrate the day for the very reason it is named. I am thankful.

On Facebook I have many friends who have been listing things and people they are thankful for; every day a new reason to be thankful. It is inspiring and meaningful, and I encourage all people to at least take a moment to make a mental list of all things worthy of thankfulness in their lives. From large to small, there is much to be thankful for. So here’s my top 10:

1. God ~ I haven’t personally known Him very long, only 11 years or so, but He has made all the difference in my life; in the way I feel about myself, the way I treat others and conduct my daily life, my decisions, and how I parent.

2. Hubby ~ I don’t always show him all the love and appreciation I truly feel, but I know that he was sent to me by God, and that together, they both saved my life.

3. Number One ~ Not to be cliché by listing my children separately, but from the time Brandon was born I knew that he was my soul mate. Now that he’s older, the titles of our connection have changed, but as a baby he filled a hole in my heart that no one else could. I use to kiss and snuggle all over him so much that I actually had to restrain myself from biting him. (Some of you will understand that statement, others won’t.)

4. Number Two ~ Good heavens this child tests me every day. And as short on patience and tolerance as I’ve always been, from him I have slowly (but admittedly not completely) learned both. He has taught me so many things and shown so much love and forgiveness. I absolutely adore him.

5. Family ~ Beyond my “boys” is the rest of my family, both on my side and my hubby’s. Relationships are not always ideal and they will always fluctuate, but in the end your family is always there for you. I am thankful for my parents, my in-laws, my sister and her sons, my sister-in-law and her family, and for extended family beyond that. You can never have too many friends and you certainly can never have too much family!

6. Griffy Jr. ~ I know that seems funny to say but I am absolutely in love with my dog. I truly wasn’t a dog person at all until I got him. I am thankful for him because he showed me that not all dogs are alike 🙂

7. Diana ~ I have many friends, but Diana gets her own mention. This beautiful woman has put up with me since we were 12. I have no idea why she loves me as much as I love her, but I am so very blessed to be able to call her my BFF. I hope she doesn’t freak at me for posting this picture.

8. Friends ~ I am thankful for friends in general. I have a handful of great friends, both male and female that have enriched my life. But I am also just thankful for the opportunity to make friends. Some friends are for life and others for only a short time, but either way God has a plan for that friendship and I always walk away having gained something. I only hope I do the same for others.

9. Community ~ My husband often says that one of the most important purposes in our lives is to build relationships. This is an illustration he uses in the church, but it definitely applies in all areas of human nature. Every once in a while I see our community pull together in extreme ways. It is an awesome thing to be a part of. I am thankful that I live in a country, and a community such as this, where freedom and love reign.

10. Freedom ~ I am thankful that I have freedom. I can live where I want to live, buy what I want to buy, say what I want to say, love who I want to love, worship whom and where I want, I can blog, I can travel, I have full function of my faculties, I have a roof over my head, clothes on my back, a car to drive, food in my pantry, and people to share my life with.

God is good!  Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Now I know that tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day, and not to be a contradiction, but I am starting my December blog series early. I am only doing this because I will not be able to post any blogs while I am on the cruise ship. So The December series will technically start on Friday. Once I am on the boat I will not post for a few days (Tues. – Sat.) But when I come back on Monday I will pick up right where we left off and no dates in December will have been missed.

I pray you all have a blessed Thanksgiving.

Chicken Tarragon

Awhile back I did a post called Soup’s On! I made a soup I named Greens & Beans Chicken Soup, and mentioned that I used leftover chicken and sauce from a dish I make called Chicken Tarragon. I decided to make this for dinner last night even though we had it about 3 or 4 weeks ago. But since we are headed out-of-town tomorrow I needed to use up what ingredients I had, and everyone in this house loves this dish anytime. So, as promised, here is the recipe.
Chicken Tarragon
3 or 4 T. butter, melted in pan and foam allowed to subside (do not brown)
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts browned on each side (about 3 or 4 mins. each)
Remove chicken from pan and discard butter
Deglaze pan with 2 c. chicken broth
Whisk in 1 pt. 1/2 & 1/2 (or heavy cream)
Add in tarragon to taste (this means about 2 T. to me)
Bring to boil then lower heat to simmer
Replace chicken, cover and let cook through, turning meat occasionally
** I usually make a small roux and add to thicken the sauce a little bit (about 1/3 C. butter and 1 1/2 T. flour)
This is great with mashed potatoes, but it is also excellent with bulgur. For a little bit healthier meal, if you have never tried bulgur, do so with this first! It’s super yummy. And it helps out-weigh the fattening cream in the sauce 🙂 There are many ways to make bulgur, but I prefer it this way. This recipe also works with quinoa.
1 cup bulgur
1 T. butter
2 cups chicken broth
small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
1/4 cup sliced almonds
salt & pepper to taste
~ Measurements are tricky for me because I cook a lot by eye, so you may end up pouring out some excess broth, or you might not. Basically what I do is melt the butter over medium-high heat and then throw in the bulgur, allowing it to brown (similar to what you do with Rice A Roni). It doesn’t take long and you can gauge by the smell when it’s been toasted enough. Then add the onion, garlic, and almonds along with the broth. Let boil briefly. Stir, cover, and simmer for 10 or 15 minutes. The bulgur absorbs the broth quickly.
I hope you enjoy this dish as much as we do!
Don’t forget dessert! Check out this older post for my Apple Crispe recipe.  I had some extra apples, and since we’re trying to use up our food before we go on vacation, I made another Apple Crispe 😉

Pre-baked with butter pats to make it super yummy!





I can’t seem to get the link insert to work, so I’ll have to do it the old fashioned way 🙂



Lazy Holubsti & Pittihe

Thanksgiving is almost here!

My grandmother was 100% Ukrainian. We grew up eating some wonderful authentic dishes that have become mainstays in our holiday fare. Most years my mom includes at least one of our favorites, usually Holubsti (hole-lub-chi), which is a rice mixture rolled up in cabbage leaves.

Then there’s Pittihe (pit-a-hey), a dumpling filled with any of the following: cabbage, potato and cheese, or sauerkraut. I grew up on the potato and cheese, and it’s customary to fry chopped onion in butter and serve it on the side with some sour cream. Pittihe is actually Ukrainian slang, similar to us calling potatoes spuds. There are other names for this dish, such as Pierogi or Varenyky.

Both of these recipes are rather involved (especially the Pittihe) so we have nice, easy, lazy versions of them 🙂 And when you set your Ukrainian table, don’t forget the {turkey} polish keilbasa.

Lazy Holubsti

1 cup rice, cooked

4 T. butter, divided

1 med. onion, chopped

1 1/2 cup tomato sauce

3 cup shredded cabbage

salt & pepper to taste

~ Cook rice first with water and 1 T butter. Cook onion in 3 T. butter until tender. Add cabbage and cook until wilted. Mix in 1/2 cup tomato sauce and save the rest. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Arrange cabbage and rice in alternating layers in buttered baking dish. Pour the rest of the tomato sauce on top. Cover and bake for 45 minutes at 350*.



Lazy Dumplings

2 cups dry cottage cheese

1 T. melted butter

3 eggs, beaten

1 t. salt

3/4 cup flour

~ Press the cottage cheese through a sieve. Beat in the butter, eggs and salt. Mix in flour. Place dough on a well floured surface and shape into a cylinder about 2 inches in diameter. Slice into 1/2 inch slices. Cut the slices in half to make half-moon shapes. Bring water, seasoned with salt, to a boil. Simmer the dumplings until they float, about 5-6 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon. Dribble with butter to keep them from sticking. Serve with fried onions and sour cream.

Happy cooking and extra happy eating!

So What’s Next?

Thank you so much for reading Number Two’s Journal entries this week. I admit that the idea came partly from being so busy that I couldn’t think of blog ideas, partly because I didn’t always have time to write new blogs every day, and partly because it seemed like a good idea at the time to reminisce over Thanksgiving Days past.

I do have blog drafts. A few anyway. Mostly they’re blogs that I’ve started but haven’t finished, but there are some that are waiting for the right timing to be posted. After tomorrow life will settle down a bit. I say that with hope, but we all know it isn’t entirely true with the holidays right around the corner. As I sit here and type this piece of “let me catch you up to speed”, I’ve got some Spinach & Artichoke Dip in the oven for a get-together I’m headed to in about 30 minutes. YUM!

I am also close to breathing a sigh of relief because tomorrow is a BIG day that has been in the works for weeks and weeks. As I might have mentioned, I am president of our elementary school’s PTA. This is a big job, but a very rewarding one. There are several times a year when we put together events from big to small that require a certain amount of planning time. Tomorrow’s event is HUGE and it includes the secondary school’s PTA as well. In all fairness, the other PTA did A LOT more work than I did (and I was happy to relinquish the bulk of the responsibility this year). This is going to be our first annual Community Fair, complete with rides, games, food court, etc etc etc. It’s going to be a super fun day- but what a relief when it’s finally over to those who put in all the hard hours of work leading up to such an event.

Next week is Thanksgiving, and the start of a new, albeit brief, adventure. We will go to my parent’s house for the weekend. But once Monday the 28th rolls around we are headed to Charleston, SC. to catch a Carnival cruise to the Bahamas! (Squeeeeeeeee!) I am really looking forward to this (in fact, I’ve been looking toward to this since February!) and promise to share pictures and highlights. FYI: Hubby and I will be celebrating our 15th anniversary in Nassau 🙂 How’s that for a celebration?

December is always a bit of a hectic month. I love Christmas, but I enjoy the whole month just as much. You know that saying sometimes it’s more fun to get ready for the party than to actually arrive? Well, that’s how the month of December is for me, only I enjoy the party just as much as I do the preparation. So keep a lookout for a Christmas-themed blog series for the entire month of December. I’m not sure if I will be able to post every day while on the cruise, but they are ready to go in any case, and as a last resort I’ll just have to double up on posts to get caught up once I’ve returned home. I am really looking forward to these Christmas posts and I hope you are, too.

Before I go I wanted to share some photos I took today. Sometimes you get handed tiny little smiles in the smallest places. These two definitely made me smile. I only had my cell phone with me in both cases, so the picture quality may not be that great.

This guy has to be in the duck family but I don’t actually know what it is. I’ve seen these before around the island. They tend to move slow, as if they don’t have a care in the world, and consequently, get hit by cars sometimes. What caught my eye about this one was that he was standing on the side of the road with his head in his feathers, just taking a nap. I was so surprised to see this (and curious if he was hurt) that Hubby swung our jeep around and went back so I could get a better view. I pulled out my cell phone as fast as I could but he’d already pulled his head out and (very slowly) started to waddle away.

I have a thing for lizards 🙂 I know, that’s sounds funny. When Number One was just 6 months old, Hubby and I bought our first house. It was a cute little 3 bedroom ranch with a roomy screened-in porch off the kitchen. We often had lizards visit us on the porch (and one even came in the house to look around) and so it became a fun thing for a just speaking and walking One (probably around a year and a half years old) to go to the porch and search for lizards. Only he couldn’t say “lizard”. It sounded more like (use your imagination here) “leeher”. So he’d go out to the porch and say, quite loudly, “Yoohoo, leeher!”

Enjoy your weekend and have a blessed day! Until next time 🙂