Monday, December 31, 2018


For auld lang syne, my jo,
For auld lang syne,
We'll tak' a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

~Chorus of Old Lang Syne by Robert Burns~
(All lyrics can be found here.)

Wishing you and all your loved ones the happiest 2019.


A Very Happy New Year 
to family and friends everywhere. 
May it be all that you hoped for. 

January - Huntley Meadows, Alexandria, Virginia
February - Huntley Meadows, Alexandria, Virginia
March - Icy Wall along Skyline Drive, Virginia
April - Gettysburg, PA
May - Sea Otter in Seward, Alaska
June - Meadowlark Gardens, Vienna, Virginia
July - Smithsonian Natural History Museum, Washington, DC
August - Skyline Drive, Virginia
September - Manassas National Battleground, Manassas, Virginia
October - On the way to Winchester, Virginia
November - Downy Woodpecker, at home
December - Christmas, at home

Thursday, December 20, 2018


I am going to take a short break, but will be back in about a week.  My wish is for you to have a very special time with your Loved Ones. 

Peace on Earth, Good-will to All,
Merry Christmas from our house to yours.


This is for everyone who is missing a Loved One, especially at this time of the year.  

Tuesday, December 18, 2018


I have told variations of this story in other posts, but for several years now I have been going to the opera with a group of friends.  We met at a British shop I found myself working at, where I went for lunch one day and was offered a job.  I had the right accent I suppose. As most often happens when I get out of my comfort zone, I had to be talked into it. My sister was visiting at the time and I had taken her to lunch.  She told me I would be mad to say no, that if she could she would take the job.  So after listening to her off and on for a week, we went back for another lunch and when asked again, this time I said yes. I talked with the owner for twenty minutes or so, and by the end of it I agreed to start in a few days after my sister had gone home, with the proviso that this would be a trial run.  I ended up staying for several years and I met these ladies.  The shop eventually closed but our friendship has remained, and we all have a love for opera.  

We saw La Traviata last Saturday. We go to our local theater and watch a live televised performance from the New York Metropolitan Opera House.  Beautiful!  However, I fell asleep during the first act. The chairs are like a lazy-boy, where the head rest goes down and the foot rest comes up.  Listening to the music and in the darkened theater, already feeling very sleepy from the night before, I have occasionally been lulled into a comfortable snooze.  I am not alone as at one time or another we occasionally hear a few snores from our fellow opera lovers out in the darkness.  Those lazy-boys you know?

We came back home and my friends stayed the night.  We have dinner, a couple of glasses of wine, and chat until one to two o'clock in the morning, always looking at the clock in surprise and invariably saying where did the time go?  (Gregg leaves us hours earlier to go watch a game upstairs).  This has been a pattern for a whole lot of years, once a month during opera season, sometimes twice, and in the summer months we go do other things.

As it isn't long before the holidays, one of my friends, the lady in the red sweater brought a Christmas Pudding and set it alight.  It was a fine ending to a very nice meal (the main course being cooked by Gregg after we got home from the opera).
Our friend was told by her culinary friend to use Vodka to set the pudding alight, because it gives a more vibrant flame.  Holly leaves and berries from her garden to go on top, and a delicious rum butter to serve with it.  It was all delicious and a very pretty show.
So, there you go, that was our weekend.  A good time with friends is always a gift isn't it?

Thanks for stopping by.



"Never worry about the size of your Christmas Tree.  In the eyes of children they are all 30 feet tall."

~Larry Wilde~

Monday, December 17, 2018


Even though there are many recipes available for this particular dish, my recipe comes from Food Network.  (I forgot to take a photo of this dish.  I will add one the next time it is made.  In the meantime you can see a photo on their website here.)  

Make-ahead Green Bean Casserole 
6 to 8 servings

1-1/2 pounds fresh green beans, trimmed and halved crosswise
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 pound of button mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
2 cups of low-sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth if you want to keep this vegetarian)
1/2 cup of half-and-half
Freshly ground black pepper
1-1/2 cups prepared fried onions

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

Add the green beans and cook until crisp-tender, but still a bright green.  This takes about ten minutes.

Drain and shake off any excess moisture; set aside.

Melt the butter in a medium pot over medium heat.

Add the onions and cook, stirring until soft, about 8 minutes.  

Add the mushrooms and a pinch of salt, and continue to cook, stirring until they are soft and most of the liquid has evaporated, about ten minutes.

Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and stir until all the flour has been absorbed, about 1 minute.

Add the chicken broth, half and half, 3/4 teaspoon of salt and several grinds of pepper.

Bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring, until the sauce thickens and coats the back of a spoon.  This will take about 5 minutes.

Remove pot from the heat, add the green beans and stir into the sauce until they are well-coated.  

Transfer the mixture to a 3-quart baking dish.

Let it cool to room temperature, and then wrap well with aluminum foil.  Label and date.  You can freeze up to 2 weeks.  (I didn't have to do this as I made it up the day before, and left it in the fridge overnight.)  

To serve, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

If frozen, discard the foil from the casserole.  Cover with new foil and bake until warmed through, about 45 minutes.  Uncover and top with the fried onions.  Continue to bake until the casserole is hot and bubby, and the onions have crisped slightly.  This will take about 20 minutes more.  

Serve and enjoy.

Cook's Note:

You can serve right away instead of freezing.  Just top the green bean mixture with the fried onions just before putting in the oven, and bake until the casserole is hot and bubbly, and the onions have crisped slightly, 25 to 30 minutes.  

This was on the table at Thanksgiving, and is a Gregg favorite.  His mother was a great cook and she used to make it for him when he was growing up, along with many other delicious meals.

I also learned a lot from my own mother, and I wish I could tell her now how I thought her a terrific cook.  Our mums are unsung heroes in many ways.  My Mum's Sunday Roasts were incredible, and I will be thinking of her when I make her Standing Rib Roast and Yorkshire Pudding, along with all the fixings for our Christmas meal.  

(Mum would have enjoyed this green bean casserole, especially if they were made with Dad's fresh-from-the-garden green beans.  We had one of those little cutters which fashioned them into French-style, the only way I like beans now really.  I enjoyed working at the kitchen table as she fixed the rest of our dinner. These simple chores she gave me are good memories.  It may also be a childhood nostalgia memory for me, but I have never tasted anything better than Mum's cooking, nor Dad's fresh-from-the-garden vegetables.)

Gregg gave me a big thumb's up when I asked if he would like me to make this again for our Christmas Meal.

Thank you for stopping by and I hope your week is a great one.

Friday, December 14, 2018


Part of my collection are the Angel ornaments, lovingly collected at certain times in my life, and precious gifts from family and friends.
May angels rest beside your door
May you hear their voices sing

May you feel their loving care for you
May you hear their peace bells ring
May angels always care for you
And not let you trip and fall

May they bear you up on angel's wings
May they keep you standing tall
May they whisper wisdom in your ear
May they touch you when you need

May they remove from you each trace of fear
May they keep you from feeling greed
May they fill you with their presence
May they show you love untold
May they always stand beside you
And make you ever bold.
May they teach you what you need to know
About life here and here-after
May they fill you always with their love
And give you the gift of laughter
~Author Unknown~
Silently one by one, in the infinite meadows of heaven

Blossomed the lovely stars, the forget-me-nots, of angels.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow~
I went forth to find an angel
And found this effort brought

That life is full of so much good
The touch that angels wrought.
~James Joseph Huesgen~
How wonderful it must be to speak the language of angels, with no words for hate and a million words for love.

~Eileen Elias Freeman~ 
from The Angels' Little Instruction Book
In my life I have met many earth-bound angels. And talking about earth angels, I just read that actor Gary Senise and his foundation with untold numbers of people and volunteers, are sending 1,000 children of fallen soldiers to Disneyland for Christmas. These are earth angels for sure. Link here:

Thank you for stopping by and  
have a great weekend. 


I made a collage of the Santa Claus ornaments hanging on our tree.  I didn't realize I had put a few in yesterday's collage.  I put it together on different days and didn't check.  I will  next time.
I found this one after I had done the collage above. There will be one more collection post for angels.  Also, here are a few extras for you to read.
A quote from Shirley Temple
"I stopped believing in Santa Claus when I was six.  Mother took me to see him in a department store and he asked for my autograph."

All about that famous letter to the New York Sun, 
"Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus."
You can read about it here.

And how about the age old classic?

A Visit from St. Nicholas
by Clement Clarke Moore

"Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds;
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter's nap,
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter,
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow,
Gave a lustre of midday to objects below,
When what to my wondering eyes did appear,
But a miniature sleigh and eight tiny rein-deer,
With a little old driver so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment he must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:
"Now, Dasher!  Now, Dancer!  Now Prancer and Vixen! 
On, Comet!  On, Cupid!  On Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch!  To the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!"
As leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;
So up to the housetop the coursers they flew
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.
His eyes - how they twinkled!  His dimples, how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard on his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke, it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly
That shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!"
Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018


This is a little dark but when I saw how pretty the reflection of the lights were in the clock's glass, I wanted to add it to my post.  I have now finished decorating our Christmas Tree in the front room.
For years when our son was growing up we always had a larger tree, not huge by any means and not for any particular reason other than the fact that it was fun to go to the tree lot and pick one out with lots and lots of thick, lovely branches. Ours when I was young were small, and probably more like a Charlie Brown tree. My sister and I didn't care, we didn't even think it as a spindly kind of a tree. By the time we helped Mum decorate each branch, it was glorious.  The ornaments were all made out of pretty colored glass baubles, we cut others from paper into decorative shapes, and put thread on them to hang along with the pretty glass.  We delighted in throwing silver tinsel over the branches, and a paper garland draped around that we made ourselves.  Streamers would be hung along with multi-colored balloons, all tacked into the ceiling and crisscrossed to make another decorative pattern.  It all looked very festive. Every now and again a balloon would pop and make us all jump a foot, with giggles following as we got another balloon to replace the popped one. 
As our son grew older the trees got smaller.  When he left home there were many times we would be spending Christmas away, and I hardly did any decorating at all.  One year I bought a smaller artificial tree.  I really struggled with not having a real one, but back then several of our friends were going that route, and when I saw theirs I decided to take the plunge. This was the one we bought many years ago.
I thought it would be a good idea to buy one for the family room. This is where we spend most of our time after all. There isn't a lot of room for a Christmas Tree, so I bought one of the narrow ones that fit into a corner, and I have enjoyed decorating it each year.  But I have been toying with the idea of having a second tree, a little larger and fuller. One that we could put it in the front room, and see the lights from the street.  It took me another three years to make a decision and this is the new tree.
The Christmas tree skirt is one I bought from a lady many years ago at a craft show.  She made the prettiest quilted ones, all works of art. I rediscovered it in a box hidden away in the back of our storage room, along with many ornaments that haven't seen the Christmas lights in many a year.  

Underneath the tree, instead of a toy train or a Christmas village, I place a collection of teddy bears. There are a few honorary bears, like the rag doll of Virginia Dare, the first baby to be born in the New World back in 1587, and named after the Virginia Territory, her birthplace. I bought her in North Carolina last year. There is also an intrepid  reporter dog that jumped into my bag when we visited The Newseum in Washington DC several years ago.  It is always fun to go down into the storage room and open up the boxes.  

Several ornaments had been lost/stored with the Christmas Tree skirt. It was fun unwrapping each one and getting little surprises.  It slowed the process down some. Each one I found reminded me of family and friends. Others had made their way back to me after those I gave them to had to leave us, and ones they gave me hold sweet memories. All  have great sentimental value.

There are a few duplicate photos in these collages, and you'll probably see some again as I share more before the 25th.  Tomorrow I am posting Santa Claus ornaments.  

Do you have any Christmas Tree stories from years ago?  I would love to read about them. Enjoy your day and thank you for visiting.