Saturday, December 30, 2017

A Cook's Saint

As I opened the oval wrapped present, I was curious. Was it a gourd made by my daughter? No, it was a wooden bowl with a picture of  what looked like a woman standing below many kitchen utensils. I looked at my daughter with a puzzled look. She said, "Have you ever heard of St. Pasqual, the patron saint of cooks? He was a fryer who took food from the abbey to give to the poor. This is for you to hang in your kitchen."



The painting on the bowl is a Santero (an artist who creates Spanish religious artwork) type of painting that I have seen in New Mexico and will look wonderful in my kitchen. I wanted more information about the saint and went to the Internet and this is what I found:

Pasqual was born in Torrehermosa, Spain in the Kingdom of Aragon on May 24, 1540
and he was devoted to the poor. He believed the poor deserved more than broth so he
added cabbage, bread and meat to the broth to give to the hungry.
He prepared wonderful food and it was thought he had the help of the angels
because the food tasted so good.
He is considered the patron saint of cooks and kitchens.
His feast day is May 17, 1592.

Maybe having him in my kitchen will inspire me to prepare more food and with luck maybe the angels will also help me since I do not consider myself a cook. 

"I joyfully accept the food I am given.
May it deeply nourish everyone I feed."
San Pasqual

Friday, December 29, 2017

Cooking In My Garage

Now that my kitchen has been remodeled; counter, floor and cabinets, I do not want to do anything in my kitchen because I do not want to get it dirty. I have decided to get me a camp stove and put it out in my garage to do my cooking out side and not in my new, beautiful kitchen!

I am now eating my breakfast in my bedroom for the same reasons I mentioned above; spills, scatters, and stuff can get the bedroom dirty but not my new floor!

Of course, I am kidding and will enjoy the new kitchen. It just looks so different than what I used to have for so many years.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

A Holiday Get Together

It was cold outside and I did not want to go outdoors today, though I did go out and shovel the driveway and walks. It was a winter wonderland with fluffy and sparkly snow. The snow is okay, it's just the freezing cold I do not like! Today I was meeting my grandson and his girl friend for a late lunch and I was looking forward to seeing them again. We met at Amici's Italian Restaurant and I find it hard to see him as an adult because I still remember the little boy.


There are so many memories of my first grandchild and because I baby sat with him every chance I got, I was able to do many things with him. No matter what was in town for kids, I took him. It could be a play, show, rodeo, circus, parade, zoo, museum, games, swimming, or a movie. We spent a lot of time together and now here he was, twenty-one year's old; a young adult.

I wondered what we would talk about because we live in two different worlds and I do not see him that often. The young man today was easy to talk with and I love his sense of humor and how easy he gets along with  friends, waitresses, me, and his girlfriend. He reminded me of his father and yet he has his own personality.





Here I was again, stuffing food into my body. We all had "left-overs" when we couldn't eat any more of the tasty food so maybe we do know when to stop eating!

They surprised me by giving me a large Christmas bag and when I opened my gift I realized he knows me quite well. The brown, tan and black wrap was perfect because those are my favorite colors. I also liked by white, wooly mittens. When I said, "I love these colors." He nodded and said, "I know."

 I gave them their gifts, we hugged and kissed, and they were off to his other grandmother's home.  Another beautiful day filled with lots of love and affection.

"Perfect love
sometimes does not come
till the first grandchild."
Welsh Proverb

2017 Christmas Day




In the year 2013 I attended Fr. Christopher Gama's ordination and that gives me the feeling that he is my friend though he does not know who I am. I follow his activities on Facebook and today he celebrated mass at Spirit of Christ Catholic Community. There were many persons at mass and the line to greet him after mass made it difficult to get near him to speak to him. I did manage to take a couple of pictures of Fr. Gama because he was present in person and not in the usual place where I see him on Facebook.


I felt lucky that I had been invited to a friend's home for dinner and I gave thanks to God for my wonderful friends. This year I stayed home instead of visiting my family in California and I would have been alone this year if it had not been for my friends.

What a wonderful meal of ham, mashed potatoes, garbanzo salad, roast beef, sweet potatoes, roasted peppers on a bun, and green chili. Everything tasted so good I did not want to stop eating.  I did not have room for the desserts of pecan pie, banana cream pie, fudge, a strawberry pretzel dessert and a marshmallow dish with whipped cream, yet I ended up eating a slice of pie and some strawberry pretzel dessert. I could almost feel my stomach stretching!

This Christmas was a good one for me because of my friends.  Even though I do not mind being alone, somehow Christmas is a time to spend with family or friends. I am glad I have wonderful friends who invited me into their home to celebrate the birth of Christ.



A Blessed and Wonderful Christmas to one and all!

Monday, December 25, 2017

2017 Christmas Eve

For the past five years I have gone to California to be with my family for Christmas. This year I did not go and planned to stay at home and Skype with my out-of-state family. I would watch them open their gifts and it would be almost like being there with them. Well, almost.

A friend invited me to spend Christmas Eve with her family and what a wonderful time I had at her daughter's beautiful home. The home was decorated with a huge tree and there were many gifts underneath the tree.








The large kitchen island was filled with whatever munchies one desired. Stuffed celery, guacamole dip, shrimp, lobster rolls, cut up veggies, chestnuts, Lupini beans, fried bread with honey; similar to a sopapilla and these were just the snacks before dinner! I ate a Chestnut for the first time, a very meaty nut! I thought, so this is what is roasting on an open fire in The Christmas Carol.

Conversations and wine, pop and water flowed before the main dishes came out of the oven! Lots of pasta dishes, salmon, salad, potatoes, garlic bread, and sauces. Three large tables were set up in the dining area and we went through the "buffet" line and found a place to sit at the tables. We ate the delicious food and enjoyed fun conversations until the desserts of petite fours, pumpkin pie, and every type of candy and cookie imaginable were served. I knew that any will power I may have had  disappeared along with the goodies going into my mouth!

As the persons at the table near the Christmas tree finished eating, the table was folded up and put away to make room for the opening of the gifts. Everyone gathered around as the presents were handed out and exclamations of gratitude rang out. I even got three gifts and I couldn't help but think how thoughtful the family was by not only inviting me to spend time with them but of buying me some presents.


May Baby Jesus bless this generous family who helped me enjoy my Christmas Eve without my family. Thanks to them for making me feel right at home and welcome.



Growing Up In Brooklyn

A Tree Grows In Brooklyn by Betty Smith has become one of my favorite books. It is considered a classic and I can see why, because it is a story of a young girl growing up in Brooklyn and all her trials and tribulations. She lives in a slum and suffers humiliation and put downs. She suffers along with her family in poverty.There is sadness, happiness, humor, history and mystery and the reader roots for the young girl to make it through her tough life.

I found myself laughing out loud, crying in other parts, and wanting to get into the pages to change some of the things that happen to the young girl and her family. Before long, I was right along side the character's; suffering, enjoying, laughing, and being curious. The author writes in an easy manner and hooks the reader so that you don't want to put the book down! What will happen next, is a question I had, after each chapter.

In the inside cover of the book I found out that The book was published  in 1943, translated into fifteen different languages, sold over a million copies and is considered a classic. Francine, Neeley, Kate, Johhny and Sissy and Evey interact with store owners, junk dealers, politicians, bar tenders, lovers, school mates, spouses and teachers. You hate some and you love others, as you watch the young girl grow up. Times were tough in the 1900's yet the reader wants the young girl to succeed in life.

What a wonderful story that others have read yet I had never heard of until I was assigned to lead the discussion of the book in my book club. It should be interesting to hear what others think of the book.

"From that time on,
the world was hers
for the reading.
She would never be
lonely again,
never miss the lack of 
intimate friends.
Books became
her friends and there
was one for every mood."
Betty Smith

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Ninety Four Years of Love


The altar was decorated with red and white poinsettias with green boughs for Christmas. In front of the altar were large sprays of flowers in different shapes (crosses) and many floral arrangements. I was attending a funeral for a lady I had met once. At that time she was having people over to pray the rosary for the visiting Fatima statue. I arrived early and she greeted me in broken English and told me she did not speak English "too good." Somehow, we managed to understand each other and the first thing I noticed was how she made me feel at home. I believe she understood English, it was just her trying to express herself that was difficult. Her welcoming spirit and her attempts to communicate were something I have never forgotten. She made me feel as if I was part of her family.


Today I was at her funeral mass. She died at ninety-four years old and from what I heard, she led a busy and active life until the end when she peacefully fell asleep. Her grandchildren spoke at the eulogy and mentioned that she left this world like she wanted. I learned that she attended daily mass regardless of  the weather and the priest spoke highly of his parishioner. She was survived by five children, eleven grandchildren, twenty-three great grandchildren and one great-great grandson. One daughter is a nun in Italy and one daughter I got to know when she traveled with me to New Mexico.

A nice and thoughtful touch was Olinger Crown Hill mortuary placed small bottles of water and packages of tissues in all the pews.  A video on their web site depicts how the life of this lovely lady was interesting from the time she left Italy and what a blessed life she had with all of her family. My heart was sad that she left her family a few days before Christmas and then I felt better after reading the verse in her memory card.

My First Christmas in Heaven

I see the countless Christmas trees around the world below,
with lights, like Heaven's stars, reflecting on the snow.
The sight is so spectacular, please wipe away that tear,
for I am spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.
I hear the many Christmas songs that people hold so dear
but the sounds of music can't compare
with the Christmas choir up here.
I have no words to tell you, the joy their voices bring,
for it is beyond description to hear the angels sing.
I know how much you miss me, I see the pain inside your heart,
but I am not so far away. We really aren't apart.
So be happy for me dear ones. You know I hold you dear,
and be glad I'm spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.
I send you each a special gift, from my heavenly home above,
I send you each a memory of my undying love.
After all "love" is the gift, more precious than pure gold.
It was always most important in the stories Jesus told.
Please love and keep each other, as my Father said to do, 
for I can't count the blessing or love He has for each of you.
So have a Merry Christmas and wipe away that tear,
remember, I'm spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.
Unknown Writer

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Cats Galore

Last evening I got together with three of my friends to celebrate Christmas and to watch a movie about cats.  Two of my friends have cats and even though I am not a cat lover, the majority ruled!  My brother and sister-in-law have four cats, and when I visit them I am surrounded by their cats. By the time I leave their home I have been won over by the entertaining cats! Madonna is all grey, Raven is all black, Fenwick is spotted and I can't remember the name of the forth cat. I do know the cats roam silently through the house and the only time I hear a "meow," is when they want to be fed! Somehow, I prefer dogs to cats though last night, Esther, the cat,  jumped on my lap. I have been told that cats know whether they are liked or not and that they will go to the one person who does not like them! Hmmmm.


The movie Kedi is about cats that are accepted and live in Istanbul. Seven cats are featured: Gamsiz, the player; Duman, the gentleman; Aslan, the hunter; Sari, the hustler; Bengu, the lover, Psikupat, the psycho; and Deniz, the social butterfly. One cat loves to be petted by anyone while another will not allow anyone to touch him.The cats protect each other and especially the kittens. Duman is very polite and  never enters the restaurant but paws at the window until someone brings him food. I liked this cat because it seemed to have a lot of class. One uncomfortable moment was when Aslan goes after a rat though we never see the cat catch it!

A man who goes around the city feeding the cats would have eight to twelve cats milling around him waiting to be fed. The cat lovers swear that they feel better after interacting with the cats. An interesting point was that the cats pick who they want to associate with by adopting certain people to be their friend.

After watching the interesting movie, we sat down at a nicely decorated table to eat pulled pork on a bun, coleslaw, sliced dill pickles and pumpkin pie with whipped cream for dessert. I am always amazed on how many subjects we cover as we eat;  books, health, travel, holidays, pets, family, sex and on and on! A Santa on a shelf, I was told, was dressed in farmer's clothing and she told me she made the outfit because she loves to garden. She has a large, beautiful yard to prove it! The Christmas tree, in a cozy room with a fireplace, is reflected on three windows making it look as if there are three trees instead of one!



What a fun evening with three friends and a cat!

"Actually, I don't hate cats,
I'm just afraid of them,"
Clay Aiken

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Into The Kitchen I Go

Today I will attempt to make a cookie that I enjoyed at a cookie exchange. Not only did the taste fascinate me, but it sounded like an easy sweet to make. It is the kind of treat that has a salty and sweet taste at the same time. Very much like the pretzel and chocolate goody I fell in love with last year though this recipe calls for saltine crackers.

First I had to find out the difference between a jelly roll pan and a cookie sheet because all my life I thought they were the same. The jelly roll pan has a rim around it while the cookie sheet does not. I have both in my pots and pans shelf so my next step is to get the ingredients ready.

I asked the lady that had brought the "bark" (that is what someone called it) to the exchange for the recipe and she  told me how she made the delicious pieces of bark but by the time I got home, I wasn't quite sure on the measurements and remembered her final words: "Look on the  Internet under Tricia Yearwood  Recipes." Sure enough, there were three or four recipes with the name of Sweet and Saltines by Trisha Yearwood.

Here is the recipe if anyone wants to make this delicious treat!









Ingredients
  • Cooking spray
  • 35 to 40 saltine crackers
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) butter
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips (about 1⅓ cups)

Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Line 1 large or 2 small jelly-roll pans with aluminum foil, spray with nonstick spray and arrange the saltines salt-side down in a single layer. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar together and boil until it turns a caramel color, a few minutes. Remove from the heat and pour over the crackers, covering them evenly.
  3. Put the jelly-roll pan into the oven and bake for 3 to 5 minutes, or until just bubbly, watching carefully. Remove from the oven and pour the chocolate chips over the crackers. When the chips melt a bit, spread them over the crackers with a knife.
  4. Transfer the pan to the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until completely cold. They will form one big sheet. Break up into pieces. Store in an airtight container.

Recipe by Recipe Diaries at http://www.recipe-diaries.com/2014/06/15/trisha-yearwoods-sweet-and-saltines/

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Ugly Sweater Parade

The Spirit of Christ Catholic Community enjoyed a Christmas luncheon for the Young At Heart group and they got to take pictures with Santa Claus, heard a small YAH choir sing Christmas carols, and enjoyed greeting old and new friends on December 19, 2017. The highlight of the lunch, other than getting pictures taken with Santa, was the Ugly Sweater Parade. I do not understand why the word "ugly" is used because most of the sweaters are more fun than ugly!


Most of the persons with decorated sweaters marched around the room so everyone could see the creative sweaters. Of course, everyone thought they had the best looking sweater, yet, I did get a lot of compliments on my sweater. I figured that since I am the photographer for the group, my sweater should represent what I do.
With the many decorated sweaters, we did a conga line all around the room so everyone could admire our creativeness.




When Santa arrived, lines formed to have a picture taken with the very authentic looking Santa! A friend commented that he was missing "a belly that shook like a bowl full of jelly!" No one sat on his lap for fear of being accused of sexual harassment because in this day and age it's better to be safe than sorry!



 A wonderful lunch filled with holiday spirit and lots of fun greeting old friends and making new friendships. The Young At Heart Choir sounded great even though there were only six members present and I noticed that the audience sang along with the group! There is nothing like peppy Christmas music to get everyone in a festive mood!

We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Christmas Joy

I have not put up one Christmas decoration since 2013 and have not missed dragging boxes from storage. Usually for the holidays I travel to California to be with my family and could not see any reason for bringing out decorations. I get a slight pang when I visit friends and they have beautiful decorated trees and their homes are all sparkly and shiny with angels, Santa's, animals, candy, Nativities, candles, and what ever brings the holiday to mind.

This year I will be at home and today as I sat reading a book that is due at the library in two days, I began to think that maybe I should at least put up my small tree. I have a big tree that reaches to the ceiling with the many ornaments I have collected through the years but remembering how much work putting that tree up and then getting it down, I opted for the smaller four foot tree.

Digging through boxes and containers, I found the tree and once the Fiber Optic tree that operates from a single bulb was plugged in, it remained dark. I began to wonder if getting decorations out was such a great idea. Nothing ever goes as planned! When I pulled out the three figures of Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus from South America my heart gave an excited flutter.  All my life, setting up the Nativity has given me much pleasure and now my heart reminded me how much I love the Christmas story.

Since I have about forty Nativity sets, I only brought up three to put in my front room. The South American one, the set that looks wooden but is ceramic with the name of Heartwood Creek and the last one is a porcelain set given to me by my son so many Christmases ago. I remember him saying, "Mom, I know how you like Nativity sets and here is one more for your collection!"




Placing the figures in their usual positions, I knew that bringing the few decorations up had given me the Christmas Spirit. Once I get the front room decorated, I will move to my kitchen to drape the banister with green boughs and lights. Maybe even my bathroom will get the usual decorations of Santa and his train, if I can find it!

I give thanks to God that he placed the idea in my head to stop reading and begin preparing for his son's birth!

"I wish we could put some
Christmas Spirit in jars and
open a jar of it every month."
Harlan Miller

Monday, December 18, 2017

The Lantern Lights The Way

At mass this morning, we were told a story about a man, way before there were cars, who held a lantern and waved it back and forth to alert buggies of on-coming trains. One time he saw a buggy approaching as a train was coming and the man swung the lantern back and forth but the buggy did not stop and the train killed the whole family. The man regretted  how he had been the cause of the family's death. He was questioned by authorities, asked many questions, and found not guilty and completely exonerated.  Even though he was found not at fault he suffered from guilt all his life. Years later while on his death bed he kept saying, "It was my fault, it was my fault." His son told him, "You were found not guilty after many questions at several hearings, so it is time to forgive yourself."

The dying man said, "Yes they asked many questions but one." The son asked, "They asked you question after question, so what question did they not ask you?" With a sob, the man said, "If the lantern was lit."

Wow, our priest knows how to tell a suspenseful story with an ending that surprises everyone. The homily was about how we should all be lanterns so others can see the light shining in us and bring anyone who sees us closer to God. I read somewhere that a smile is universal and every country understand a smile! After mass a woman passed me and she had a big smile on her face. I said, "Hey, I see your lantern!" And in reality, her smile gave me a warm and good feeling making me want to smile also!

When our previous pastor was moved and a new pastor came to Spirit of Christ, I was devastated. My thought was that no one could give homilies like the priest that had left and that no one would be able to replace him. It took awhile to adjust to the two new priests and now I can only say, "Thank you dear God for giving us a historian who can explain the Gospel to us and giving us a story-teller speaker."  I am becoming accustomed to the two, handsome new priests and loving them.

Today, after the homily, I kept thinking that the priests are lanterns lighting the way for many of us who are lost and struggling to find our way!


 

"Always be joyful
pray constantly
and for all things 
give thanks."
From the Gospel of John

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Twice In One Month

Driving to downtown Denver is something I do not enjoy doing, yet this month I drove down twice. I went down on the first Saturday of the month for a freebie at the Denver Art Museum and today I wanted to see the Holiday Carousel.  It was well worth the drive but the only regret is that after finding a $5 lot and parking my car, I saw many open meters for less closer to where I was going. Maybe I saved on gas!

The Denver Pavilions is much bigger than I remembered with forty some stores and restaurants on three levels. Elevators and escalators are available for those not wanting to take the stairs. Some of the places I recognized were Banana Republic, Bath and Body Works, Claire's, Gap, Hard Rock Cafe, Hot Topics, Maggiono's Little Italy (in the past I had eaten great Italian food there) Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory and the United Artist Theaters. I might have gone in to see Coco but the movie had already started and I did not want to hang around until the next showing. Most of the retail stores had 60% off signs.


I could spot tourists standing around and wondering which way to go as they looked around. Some were buying Colorado souvenirs. The Hard Rock Cafe seemed to be a busy place and I liked the gold letters: Love All Serve All.





In the middle of Glenarm street sat the Carousel with lots of lights and beautiful horses. Ever since I was a little girl I have loved Carousel's with the horses going up and down. I remember thinking I was a real cowgirl and that I made the horse go around and around and up and down! I am sure that at night it is even more beautiful with all the lights. It wasn't crowded and the few children I saw riding had big, happy smiles.


From the top level I took a picture of the red, yellow and blue circus type top of the merry-go-round. The decorations of tiny trees with red bows looked festive and in the picture a young boy appears to be photo bombing!



"A fun place to be,
filling all with glee.
Horses rolling along
moving to the Calliope song!"

E. Moscoso

Saturday, December 16, 2017

A Cookie Exchange

Today at two in the afternoon, I went to a cookie exchange party at a friend's home. I had never been to such an event and was surprised at the variety of cookies on the table. Each person brought three dozen of their favorite cookies and an empty container. After lots of conversation, eating goodies, drinking a holiday tea and seeing all the wonderful decorations in the house, everyone went around the cookie table and filled their empty container. Below are some of the scrumptious cookies.





The majority of persons in attendance were school teachers and I was there to support my friend who even though she knew many of the teachers, wanted her own friend there also!  What a great idea because instead of just what you bake there would be different cookies to set out for Christmas.


Baking friends are great to have!