Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

"There are times when Life surprises one, and anything may happen, even what one had hoped for."
~ Ellen Glasgow

May this year be such a year for all of us, where all we hope for 
comes true. Happy 2011.

I am linking to Pink Saturday at How Sweet the Sound.

Photo credit: Martha Stewart Living

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Rain-soaked beauty...

While the East Coast is covered in snow, those of us in Southern California are enjoying a bit of sunshine after nearly a solid week of rain. We got nearly half a year's worth of rain in six days where I live ~ and with it came a few woes, including a flood of water in our dining room. Well, not quite a flood, but the ceiling was literally leaking from one side of the room to the other. And then water started pouring into the kitchen on the last day of rain ~ we actually wondered at one point if the ceiling was saturated and possibly going to cave in. Not fun, but a lot of folks had it a lot worse, so we were fortunate ~ at least we were able to get everything cleaned up in time for Christmas.
On a break in the rain on the fifth day, I wandered out into the yard to see how much damage the strong winds that had just blown through had done. Things were a bit of a mess and one of our bushes took quite a beating, but all in all, things weren't doing badly. In fact, this one calla lily was blooming as though nothing had happened. Seeing the beauty of the rain drops on it made me smile ~ the first in a few days, I'm sure.
Things are drying out well, but I'm kind of hoping the rain the forecast is calling for in the next few days doesn't materialize. There's nothing beautiful about leaky ceilings.

Monday, December 20, 2010

A simpler Christmas...

"Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful."
~Norman Vincent Peale

Merry Christmas!
As I wrote about earlier, I was inspired this year to keep my Christmas decorations simple ~ neutral colors, natural elements and just a splash of red did the trick. I usually decorate with a lot of red, lighted garland, snowmen and a Christmas village, but this year, I just felt the need for softer colors, and fewer decorations. I kept it very simple and worked with the colors in my home ~ creams and soft green did the trick. That meant leaving quite a few ornaments and most of my decorations in their boxes, but somehow that seemed fine this year, too. I guess we all need room to breathe sometimes, and interestingly enough, my home somehow feels cozier with just a few favorites scattered here and there. Hope you enjoy this little glimpse.
I will be taking a blogging break until after the new year, so I'll see you in 2011. Wishing everyone, no matter which holiday you celebrate, a joyful winter season full of beauty...

~ Joy and glad tidings to all ~

Saturday, December 18, 2010

My favorite Christmas music...

It's The Most Wonderful Time of the Year ~ or so sings Andy Williams, and I couldn't agree more. Beverly, hostess of Pink Saturday, has asked us to share our favorite Christmas music this week. I am a throwback when it comes to holiday music ~ I prefer the old stuff I listened to growing up while we made cookies. My mom played this Andy Williams album (yes, an actual album) in regular rotation and to this day it is still my favorite. I'm also a big fan of fellow crooners Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. The Christmas Waltz and Let is Snow are two of my all-time favorites. You'll find all of them in my playlist at the bottom of my blog, if you'd like to sample any of them. I'd love to know what type of Christmas music you enjoy most.
Wishing everyone a wonderful holiday season filled with beautiful music...

I am linking to Pink Saturday at How Sweet the Sound. 

Friday, December 17, 2010

The beauty of an easy dinner...

If you are anything like me, sometimes you forget to plan dinner. Or you have only a vague idea, like ~ “oh, I’ll do something with that chicken, or ...” fill in the blank. I had one such night this past week ~ the “Oh, I’ll do something with that bag of shrimp in the freezer.” Then I got home from work, grabbed the shrimp and thought, hmm, now what? I wasn’t really in the mood for a stir-fry, and I didn’t want the heaviness of an alfredo, so I sort of split the difference and came up with what turned out to be a very yummy and easy dish prepared with what I had on hand. It was so good I thought I’d share ~ everyone can use an easy dinner this time of year, right?
Bon appetit.

Easy Shrimp and Pasta

Pound of shrimp, fresh or frozen (tails off, deveined)
Fettuccine noodles
2 Tablespoons butter
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup seafood stock or water (or even chicken stock would probably be OK)
1 Tablespoon flour
1/2 cup Monterey Jack cheese
About 2 Tablespoons sliced almonds (optional)

Thaw shrimp if using frozen. Put on water to cook pasta. You can cook the pasta while you are preparing the shrimp or cook it beforehand.
Add a dash of olive oil to large frying pan (it needs to be big enough to mix everything in at the end, including pasta) along with the butter and melt. Add a dash of salt and Worcestershire sauce. Chop scallions (one or two is enough) and add to pan. Cook for a couple minutes, stirring well. Add shrimp and stock/water. If shrimp are still somewhat frozen, you will likely NOT need to add any liquid, as the shrimp will take care of that for you as they thaw in the pan. Cook until shrimp just turn pink, stirring occasionally. Remove shrimp from pan with slotted spoon and put aside in a bowl. Slowly add flour to pan, stirring well to dissolve. Allow to boil, stirring well. Add cheese and stir well to melt. Toss in almonds. Reduce heat, add shrimp back to pan. Drain pasta, add to pan with shrimp and sauce, toss everything well to coat. Serve.
* Note: This made enough for about three large servings; that means there was plenty of shrimp to go around. You could easily stretch it to four servings if you make enough pasta, especially if you serve a nice salad with it.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Holiday cookie swap?

Does anyone still do a holiday cookie swap? I remember we used to do them at church when I was growing up and it was always fun to bring home cookies your family didn't usually make. I saw this article in Paula Deen's newsletter and I started wondering if people really do this any more or if it's one of those simple things that has fallen by the wayside with modern life (more's the pity). It's a wonderful and sweet tradition ~ maybe I should revive it next year with some friends. What do you think?

Photo from Paula Deen site

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Simple Pleasures... Old Christmas friends

One of the great pleasures of decorating for Christmas is rediscovering all the goodies that have been packed away for a year ~ it's like getting a visit from old friends. A case in point: my holiday stuffed animal collection. I don't remember how or even when it started, or even where most of them came from, but each year when I unpack them they make me smile. I'm not one of those people who keeps stuffed animals around as a rule, but there's something about these holiday critters that makes me happy.
Wishing all of you simple holiday pleasures this week...

I am linking to Simple Pleasures at A Collection of This and That. Stop by to link up or see more simple pleasures.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Christmas with Victoria...

The old Victoria magazine is my favorite magazine of all-time. I especially looked forward to the holiday issue and the annual Christmas book ~ each year they would transport me with their beauty to a stately home with a roaring fireplace and elegant decorations or to a snow-filled winter wonderland. Not to mention the holiday food and the gifts... bliss.
I am joining A Delightsome Life, who is hosting the Christmas With Victoria blog party. I thought I'd share photographs of my holiday dining room table by candlelight ~ simple, but inspired by Victoria ~ and some photographs from my collection of Victoria Christmas books and magazines.
Hope you enjoy a little Christmas, Victoria style.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The beauty of Christmas stockings...

Christmas stockings have always been something special in my family. Not only are they always filled with the most amazing and wonderful goodies ~ stockings are taken very seriously in my family ~ but each one is a thing of beauty. My green Christmas stocking, seen above, was made for me by my grandmother when I was a little girl. It looks like an ordinary Christmas stocking to anyone else, but I still remember getting it and knowing, even then, that I had something special. Thirty years and many moves later, I am still hanging it and treasuring it.
My grandmother, a wonderfully creative and talented woman, now makes Christmas stockings for everyone in the family ~ it was one of those things that became a tradition over time. People would marry, or have children, and inevitably my grandmother would make them a Christmas stocking. She has made some beautiful ones over the years ~ one of my brothers has a knitted one that is absolutely exquisite ~ and all of them are different. It's a rite of passage, in a way, and a wonderful holiday tradition.
Do you have a holiday tradition that is a particular favorite?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Furry First Friday... Holiday edition

Aren't my little holiday helpers the cutest? Since it's December, I thought I'd share my sweet pups in their holiday best for Furry First Friday. These photos were taken a couple Christmases ago, but I just love them. I especially love that Emily actually wore her Santa hat long enough for me to snap these. And Russ and Nick didn't mind their Christmas bows, either.

Thanks to all of you for joining in. Wishing all of you (and your pets) a great weekend...

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Reminder... Furry First Friday coming up

Don't forget Furry First Fridays is coming up at the end of the week. Since it's December, I thought a holiday edition might be fun. So, if you have any photos of your pets in holiday garb (or participating in holiday activities like knocking over the Christmas tree), please share. Holiday costumes, of course, are not required. :)
To participate, all you need to do is post photos of your pets on Friday and link up to my party post. Please include a link to my blog and feel free to grab the button as well. Looking forward to seeing everyone's loved ones on Friday!