Friday, December 27, 2013

Christmas 2013

Our Christmas so far has been so much fun!   As usual, we spread it out over several days.....we actually still have a couple of parties to go!

It started with going to the Java Room on Thursday night to listen to my Hubby, Betsi Mandrioli and Trude Witham perform an evening of Christmas tunes.  Betsi said it best....."Just sit back and let all your worries go and just enjoy the music and the fun".   And we did!

Friday night was back to the Java Room to listen to music again...this time with Jon Swensen, John Ferullo and Betsi Mandrioli.   Again....a nice, easy relaxing night of music.

Saturday was the Vennard Family Christmas.   Naturally we forgot the camera, but lucky for us, Tag's brother Paul took a couple of photos.

This is actually the whole family.  Tag's niece Mandi and her wife Britt were here from Texas, and all the other kids and grandkids were in attendance.  (A Christmas Miracle!)

It was great fun to have little children running around.  I had the good fortune to be holding Elsie on my lap while she unwrapped her gifts.  She was much more excited about ripping the paper than anything else!  And after she was done, she went over to the tree and played with the ornaments, and threw all the wrapping paper around.

Next up on Sunday morning was brunch with my kids.   We have two little granddaughters now on that side of the family, which made it twice the fun!
Emily practices her new reading skills on Audrey.  Audrey was very appreciative!

Jamie and Emmy have some fun time together.

Kara gets to spend some time with Audrey

Memere eating Audrey's fingers

Nick being goofy

Had to laugh at the size of Audrey compared to her Dad and Uncle

Audrey smiles for the camera

Jamie and Audrey chill out with the piano from Pepere

And Sunday night we had a dinner party with some amazing friends.  Jon and Janice Swensen were here from Pennsylvania, so we invited them and some other musical friends to join us.....   Pat and Bob, Rick and Kate and John and Jan.     I asked for us not to bring guitars or have a reasoning being  that we see each other a lot, but never get a chance to talk because we are usually at an open mic or show.   We sat around the table for 3 hours or so, eating, laughing and enjoying each others' company.  It was awesome!!!

This year was the first year Hubby and I had Christmas Eve alone.   We chilled out, ordered in some Chinese food, and watched "It's A Wonderful Life".    Very, very nice!

And Christmas Day we went up to my Dad's house.  It was a quieter than usual Christmas, with some of the families visiting in-laws.  But it was a very enjoyable time where we go the chance to chat and visit and eat.

Elf Dad helps Santa Emma hand out the gifts

Dad and Marc

Emma's daughter made her a great new sign for her garden

Dad and Emma relax after the feast

Still coming up - Christmas party and Yankee Swap at the Acoustic Cafe Open Mic tonight, and Christmas with Hubby's kids tomorrow night!!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

My recipe for health...or at least avoiding illness

Somewhere along the way, I adopted a really good immune system.   I used to get all kinds of strep, bronchitis, etc.   Working with little kids will do that to you.   So I had to come up with some strategies for my defense.  I haven't had a bad cold or infection in about 8 years (I just KNOW I'm jinxing myself!)   So here's what I do:

1.  I believe the #1 defense against illness is FRESH AIR.    Everyone knows being around sick people is what makes you sick, and being in an enclosed space all winter with germs is an invitation to illness.   So.....
     A.  I sleep with my window open.  Just an inch or so, but enough to allow fresh air into my bedroom.
     B.  Pick a fairly mild day, turn down the heat in the house, and open all the windows for a 1/2 hour.
     C.  Get outside.  Walk.  Ski.  Sled.  Whatever.  Just get some fresh air into your lungs.

2.  Wash your hands with soap and water.   NOT hand sanitizer.  That stuff is completely useless.  Don't be obsessive about it, but think about washing your hands periodically throughout the day....especially when you come in contact with someone who is obviously sick.

3.  Use bleach and water to clean high-germ areas.   By which I mean...places people touch.  Nothing cleans like bleach.  Any spray cleaner is a waste of money.

4.  Take Echinacea.   It really does boost your immune system. I take it every day, year round.  It works.

5.  Use a netti pot.   As soon as I start to feel the slightest bit congested, I use the netti pot and clean out my sinuses.  It works.

6.  I take generic Claritin every day.   I tend to have allergies, and the Claritin keeps my sinuses clean.

7.  Use a humidifier.   Dry membranes invite germs.

8.  Along the same lines, stay hydrated.  It's good to keep everything nice and moist.

There you go.  My recipe for staying healthy.   It works for me.  Try might work for you too.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The First Thanksgiving

This year was my First Thanksgiving.  After 35 years of being in my own household, I made my first Thanksgiving dinner this year.

Up until now, we celebrated with my whole extended family.  Of course, as the years went by, the family got bigger and bigger with the addition of children, grandchildren, boyfriends and girlfriends, etc.   Last year, my Dad announced right after Thanksgiving that he couldn't do it anymore.  25-30 people for a sit-down dinner was just too much for him.  And I can't blame him.  It would be too much for anyone!

So this year, each of my siblings and I did our own Thanksgiving.  I was kind of melancholy all week.  Changing tradition is hard for me.  I always looked forward to Thanksgiving with my siblings. Doing something different was just...........different.

But I began to get into the spirit of things.  I shopped for a pretty fall tablecloth.  I made up my menu.  I even bought some new dishes so they'd match my new tablecloth!

I invited my brother and wife and niece.  I invited my children - but gave them the option of going to their in-laws if they wanted. I remember how hard it was when my kids were little to go "house-hopping" on a holiday, and wanted to make life easy for them.  And I invited a couple of old folks and stragglers.

I ended up with nine people at the dinner table.  My brother John, his wife Ruth and my niece Laura.  My son Nick and his wife Kelly (and my granddaughter Audrey....5 months old!)   And my dear Aunt Izy who's almost 89, and my cousin Paul, who has no siblings or parents still alive.

The night before, I made Traditional French Pork Stuffing.  We always called it "Fau"  (I'm not sure of the spelling, but that's how it's pronounced.)  It doesn't look fact, my stepson once called it "that gray meat", but anyone who's eaten it knows it's absolutely delicious.

Afterwards, you take the leftovers and put it in a pie shell and it's called a Tortiere.   I'll be doing that today for when my brother comes over to watch the football game.

It was fun to set a pretty table.

On Thanksgiving morning we divided our time between getting the food ready and watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.   Hubby was a huge help with peeling all the potatoes and sweet potatoes.  

I realized that I was having a great time getting ready for my guests.  All the years I lived in my condo, and even before that when I had a house but a husband who didn't like having people over, I longed to be a hostess.   I've done some entertaining since buying the house, but somehow, this seemed more special than usual.

We ended out having a beautiful meal.  (even though the rolls were slightly overdone!)  I finally timed my turkey correctly and it came out nice and moist instead of dry.  Veggies were all hot and delicious.  And the Fau was perfect!

I didn't take as many pictures as I would have liked....and of course, they were all pics of the baby!

My brother says hello to his great-niece

Jamie was able to come over after she worked.  She works in a school for challenged students, and had to be there.   She's teaching Audrey how to play "Twinkle Twinkle" on the piano.

Laura was very excited to meet Audrey for the first time.  And Audrey looks pretty happy too.

It turned out to be everything you would wish a holiday to be.  Lots of food, family and lots of chatting and laughing.  After everyone left, I felt like I'd had a real holiday.    And of course, the best part was Hubby helping clean up!

He's really the part of my life I'm most thankful for!