Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy New Year to you!

What happened?!  I feel like I should be saying, "Let's ring in 2011!" But nope, it's another year gone. There were, as always, good and bad things, but somehow, when you stand on the eve (of the eve) of the new year, the good shines through. At least it should - dwelling on the negative isn't a great way to enter and embrace all the new opportunity a new year brings.

I've talked about new years and new beginnings before, and obviously it's a somewhat artificial construct in our linear way of seeing time. But however we got to it, and whatever you think about resolutions and diets and exercise and all that, it really is a time when you can start anew. A little rebirth, given to you every year, so you can evaluate and change and redirect if necessary. Sometimes life just takes hold and we start veering off onto paths unintended. No worries - you have the perfect time for a course correction this weekend!

Do you do "resolutions?" I don't. Not really. I do tweak things in my life. I do try to reestablish anything that got swept away by things like NaNoWriMo or the holidays or illness or life. I look at the things I am doing and decide if they're working. I look at the things I'm not doing, and decide if I need to start them. As an introspective person by nature, I find all this really cathartic.

But what if you're an extrovert and not at all introspective? Well... You should still do it. It's just harder. I find that extroverts are often telling those of us who are introverts that we should get out and do things with people... So think of this as getting in and doing things with yourself.

Spend some time being quiet, or journaling, or just gazing out at the lovely blue winter sky. You can celebrate tomorrow night. For today and tomorrow, just be still for a bit. Be quiet. Listen. Look back. Look forward. Ask God what He thinks. (He'll tell you, you know!)

Happy New Year! I hope you all have the best year of your lives in 2012.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The spirit of Christmas - in a cocktail

The other day I commented on Facebook that I needed a dose of the spirit of Christmas. One friend said I needed a cocktail. *lightbulb* Is there a cocktail called the spirit of Christmas? Because hello! Play on words extraordinaire! So I Googled. I Binged. I Yahooed. And shockingly, I couldn't find a Christmas cocktail with that name. How is that possible?!

Now, our Christmas tradition, because I'm a fifth generation Floridian, is to have key lime pie for Christmas. Cranberries... also Christmasy. Vanilla? Yes please! And rum.. well. 'Nuf said. So last night I set out to create the Spirit of Christmas in a glass. And I have to say, it is tasty!

Here's the recipe:

makes 1 drink

2 oz Zaya rum (it must be Zaya to get that vanilla undertone!)
1 1/2 oz simple syrup (preferably homemade)
1/2 oz key lime juice
1/2 oz 100% cranberry juice (NOT cranberry juice cocktail)
small lime wedge or lime twist for garnish

Put the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with plenty of fresh ice. Shake 30 seconds. Pour into a martini glass and garnish with lime. Enjoy!!

(Please don't get PC with me on the play on words - God does have a sense of humor!)

Friday, December 23, 2011

Age doesn't matter - especially at Christmas!

40 is the new 30. 50 is the new 40. Brown is the new black. Or was that purple this year? Pretty soon 5 will be the new answer to 2+2!

Some of you know that my grandmother just turned 98. She lives alone, walks her dog, drives to get her hair done. Other than some blood pressure issues, she's in great health and mentally sharp as a tack. Her mother lived to be 92... with diabetes. HER parents both lived to 96. So at 46, I could conceivably argue that I'm not "middle-aged" yet. I've obviously got a serious advantage when it comes to the gene pool!

But really, what does that matter? We're not guaranteed another day, ever. I might get hit by a bus, a condition that my genes won't be able to influence. What matters is this day. Those days that led up to this day - let's see, that would be 16,902 of them - have made me who I am. I can't change a single one of them, and regret only steals life from today. Worrying about tomorrow won't get me to it, or through it, more easily. It will just rob me of today.

Christmas is a time of indescribable joy for Christians, because without it, we don't get Easter. Without Easter, we aren't saved. Without salvation, we are eternally separated from God. So every single Christmas should be approached and celebrated with eternal gratitude and thanksgiving. Gifts don't matter. Age doesn't matter. Finances don't matter. The state of the world doesn't matter. All those things will pass away, but the promise brought by that baby will never pass away.

It's almost a new year. Time for evaluation and new beginnings. Time for reflection on the previous year. Time to be thankful for the maturity and freedom your age has brought, and to look forward to growing older only in body in 2012. Have you made bad choices about your diet, exercise, relationship? Start over. Have you gotten stuck in a rut because you've believed that you are "middle aged" and that comes with certain expectations? Start over!

Jesus came - at Christmas - to give you life, and give it abundantly. There's no age limit. Keep your mind and spirit young and free! There's work to do in the Kingdom until the day you die... Start this Christmas.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Blue nail polish, belt, and high heels. It's date night!

Today, I applied blue nail polish to my fingernails. This is somewhat epic, because a) I almost never wear fingernail polish (but almost always wear toenail polish), and b) I've never, ever worn blue, green, candy colored, or seriously purple polish before. I'm not sure if one's nail polish should match one's jewelry or not, but mine currently matches my sapphires... and I actually like it a lot.
I'm also wearing a belt in a weird location - over my shirt and somewhere between my waist and my hips. I am unclear on why this actually works with this outfit, which is a loose sort of sheer top with a cami underneath, jeans, and a long black sweater, but it does. I tried on 4 belts, all on different parts of my torso, before stumbling on this combination, and I think it might be considered... untraditional. But hey, at 46, whatever works, right?

And I'm also wearing platform heels. Which I love love love! I have these shoes in two different colors and I like them because they're cool, because I'm much closer to my tall husband's face with them on, and because my short legs look long. OK, longish. But longish is better than shortish, which is their usual condition.

So all this is because my husband and I are going on a date! Yippee! We haven't been on a date in awhile, between life, bad backs, busy schedules, and all that. And I didn't think we'd get on one before Christmas, for sure. Happy happy!

PS. What is the deal with those times when you suddenly are feeling 20 lbs heavier?  Not over a couple of weeks... I mean over a couple of hours! I was minding my own business this afternoon, and suddenly I felt like I'd eaten some kind of gigantic smorgabord. Hormones? Humidity? Too much baking (which I didn't even eat!)? What's up with that?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Lovely blueberry muffins

I made these this morning. Some of it was accidental - I've made them before with a swirl of homemade blueberry jam, but I forgot to put the swirl on this morning. BUT, I liked them better! They rose higher, and the topping was more pronounced. So there ya go... Don't despise the inadvertent mistakes.

made 15 regular sized muffins

1/2 cup sugar
zest from 1 lemon

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
2 whole large eggs
1 cup sugar
2 tbsp butter olive oil -OR- 4 tbsp butter melted
1/4 cup canola oil
1 1/8 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
10 oz (1 small bag frozen) blueberries, semi-thawed -OR- equivalent fresh
1 tsp flour

Preheat oven to 375 for dark pans, 400 for light pans. Spray muffin tins with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.

In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar and olive oil (or butter) for about 1 minute. Whisk in the canola, buttermilk and vanilla until mixed. Pour into the dry ingredients and stir til just combined.

In a small bowl, toss the blueberries with the flour. (This will keep the blueberries from sinking to the bottom of the muffins.) Pour into the batter, and fold gently until the blueberries are dispersed.

Using a 1/4c scoop, place batter in muffin pans. (Or fill 2/3 full using a dry measuring cup.) Top with the sugar-lemon mixture.

Bake 15-20 min, until a toothpick comes out clean and the muffins are golden brown on the sides. Cool in the pans for 5 min, then cool on racks (or eat warm!).

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Don't forget your pants! (And other rules...)

We have rules in our family. I don't mean the "don't eat mashed potatoes with your fingers" and "don't poke your sister in the eye" kind of rules... I mean life rules. Even before we knew Leroy Jethro Gibbs had rules, we had rules. Our first three rules were:

1. Never push the red button.
2. Never take a shower in an abandoned house.
3. Never walk down a dark alley at night.

More important rules have been added over the years, but none more important (and let me stress that again - NONE more important - than "don't forget your pants."

I know what you're thinking. Those first three rules were life and death. Nothing good ever comes from pushing the red button. The psycho serial killer is always waiting in abandoned houses for teenagers to come and take a shower. And the dark alley at night... well, does that even need explanation?

But really, it all starts with a pretty new but VERY IMPORTANT rule: Please, for the love of God, don't forget your pants! (There is a subsection A to this rule, which is "don't forget your undergarments, especially if you're forgetting your pants"...)

Have you noticed that this is, actually, a problem of epidemic proportions? You can't go anywhere without seeing someone in leggings and no pants. And even if that person is slim and toned (which most aren't), it just isn't pretty. You look at them and think, "Where are your pants?"

By far the most egregious example of this was an Italian woman we saw a number of times (sadly) at Murchison Falls in Uganda. She had on light gray... leggings. Work out pants. Something. They weren't thick, and I think the spandex was past it's prime. She also disobeyed subsection A of this rule, and was 40 pounds overweight. It wasn't pretty. It was scarier than the crocodiles and baboons, in fact.

I have seen leggings in a store with a label that says, "These are not pants!" True story. I figure it's like every other warning in the world, though, and people just tear it off and totally disregard it as some legal warning from a bevy of lawyers. Sadly.

There are twenty-something rules now. But really, if you only obey one, please make it this one. The rest of the world will thank you. Truly.

**NOTE: Fortunately, I have decided not to include any photos in this post. I didn't want to scare you. Go watch Halloween or the Texas Chainsaw Massacre so you'll feel better...

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Your Second Act (over 40)

I have been *sort of* reading a book called Staging Your Comeback: A Complete Beauty Revival for Women over 45 by Christopher Hitchens. Apparently he's been on Oprah and other shows, which I've never seen, but I read a quote by him last week that struck me as interesting, so I downloaded it for my Kindle.

There are some interesting questions that the whole concept of "your second act" in life brings up, and a lot of (I think) truisms that we women (and probably men, but that wouldn't be 'we men'!) struggle with as we get in our 40s, our kids get older, gravity takes effect... These are just some of my thoughts.

As much as we may feel like we're in our twenties and thirties, we aren't. Seems obvious, I know, but I don't think it really is. I feel, inside, much the same as I've always felt. I feel wiser, more mature, ever so slightly more patient while at the same time less patient with stupidity. But my body isn't 25.

My feet hurt most every morning because of my planters fasciitis (so I can't wear these shoes all that often!).
My lifelong back issues are still there but I seem to have less ability to ignore it and forge ahead with my day if it's hurting.
I get tired more easily, and don't bounce back as fast.
I wake up early, usually this time of year before it's light out... and can't seem to make it past 11:00 (and that's a stretch).
My hormones are whacked out.
I am not shaped exactly like I used to be, so clothes don't look the same.
The same make up I've always worn no longer works. (Actually, I didn't used to need makeup, except in mid-winter!)

Don't get me wrong, I don't feel old. I feel great most of the time, and love my life. I think that's where the inner confusion comes - when we feel solid and secure on the inside, we don't always seem to get that our body is doing what bodies do from the minute we're born: aging.

So I've realized I have to make some mental adjustments. And some physical adjustments. I tend to be introspective anyway, and winter and the new year always lead me down the road of "reassessment." Are there things I am doing I don't need to do? Things I'm not doing that I should? Things I should be grateful for and am taking for granted? I don't beat myself up, I just use the season to do an annual inventory. Here's what I'll be doing for 2012.

Writing. For sure. I had a blast doing NaNoWriMo, am very pleased with my book so far, and have already started pulling together a plot for the next novel.

Painting. This has been on the back burner since the summer, but I'm getting back to it after the Keys trip - hopefully with some new great photos to use as material.

Baking. I love to bake. It makes me happy. So while I'll be giving a lot away, and hopefully not eating too much, I'll be baking away on my new, wonderful baking station.

Walking. My feet issues have made this a real challenge this year, but I'm getting back to it one way or the other. When I walk outside I can feel the vitamin D restoring me, and I think and pray and hum and generally have a great time. The treadmill isn't quite so interesting, but I can catch up on my movies or DVR'd shows, and I still feel a lot more energetic for doing it.

Photography. I love photography, but I'd like to know more about it from a technical standpoint. This may or may not produce any results (esp since I'm an idiot with Photoshop, which, I believe, was created in the Devil's workshop... but that's just my suspicion, unconfirmed at this point). But I will enjoy it, and that's the main thing.

There are other things I'll be doing, and things I have to do barring winning the lottery (and since I've never bought a ticket, that's fairly unlikely). But living this life as God lays it out, following the passions He puts in us, advancing the Kingdom by living in freedom... How can you beat that?

So how about you? What will 2012 bring for you? And what do you think about this Second Act thing? We're older, wiser, and still smokin' hot, right??

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Coffee Biscoff Cheesecake

This was soooo delicious! We served it with whipped cream, but it's pretty darn good without it. Enjoy!


1 pkg Biscoff cookies, crumbed in food processor
1 stick salted butter, melted

3 packages lite cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 egg yolks
1 large egg
1/2 cup 1% milk
1/4 cup Kahlua coffee liqueur
1/4 water
1 tbsp instant espresso granules

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Process the Biscoff crumbs with the melted butter in the food processor until combined. Pour into a spring form pan and press into the bottom and up the sides with a flat bottom glass. Bake for 8 minutes. Remove from oven.

In the large bowl of a stand mixer, combine the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and flour with the paddle attachment on medium low until just blended. Lightly beat the egg yolks and whole egg, and add to bowl.  Mix on medium low until just blended. Combine the water and espresso granules until coffee dissolves. Add milk, Kahlua and espresso to bowl and mix on medium low until well combined. It will be very liquid - don't worry, it'll set up!

Pour onto crust. Reduce the oven temp to 300 degrees and place cheesecake into the oven on a jelly roll pan. Bake approximately 1 hr and 20 min, or until the middle doesn't jiggle when you shake the pan.

Remove to a rack and cool completely. Serve with whipped cream if desired!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Cornbread muffins... delicious!

Night before last I made some cornbread muffins, modifying a Pioneer Woman recipe to make it less bad for you (she uses shortening!) and removing some nuts and cranberries. They were SO good, and made a great breakfast the next day, too. Here's the recipe:


1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tbsp baking powder
2 tbsp sugar
1 cup lowfat buttermilk
1/2 cup 1% milk
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 large egg
2 tbsp butter olive oil **
1/2 tsp vanilla

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Combine first 5 ingredients in a bowl and stir with a whisk to get out any lumps.

In a separate bowl combine the buttermilk, milk, egg and baking soda.

Isn't' that heart shaped reflection cool?

Stir to combine. Pour wet ingredients into the dry, and stir to combine.

Add olive oil and vanilla and stir some more, just to combine.

Spray a muffin tin or min-loaf pan with cooking spray and fill 2/3 full. Bake 15-20 min depending on the size of your pans. (I used this nifty Nordicware mini-bundt pan, and then mini-muffin tins for the remaining batter.)

If your recipe makes 14 muffins, the nutrition is 136 calories for 2, which is awesome! As you can see, there's just one egg, and the olive oil, so nutritionally speaking it's a great deal.

I also made a cinnamon honey butter to spread on by combining 1/4 cup room temperature salted butter with about 1/8 cup creamed cinnamon honey butter from a local bee keeper. You could use regular honey and some cinnamon, but watch the consistency - the "creaming" of the honey makes it thick (there's no cream, it's basically whipped), so the honey butter was still spreadable.

**We have an olive oil store here called the Midtown Olive Press. They sell a butter flavored (organic) olive oil that is one of the best products ever. You can use it for all baking except cookies, and you use 1/2 of the amount vs regular butter. I also use it to pop popcorn, and sauté fish... Anything you want butter flavor but no saturated fat. You can order from them if you don't live here. I give it my highest recommendation!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Those delicious cinnamon rolls!

Ok, here it is! I tempted you on Facebook and on this blog with a photo of these delicious cinnamon rolls (which I will once again post as an "after" on this post, because really, you can't see it too many times!). A lot of you asked for the recipe, and here it is.

(Please note, this recipe, while not difficult, takes about 3 1/2 hours because of the double rising of the dough... so don't promise these for a 7am breakfast to your kids, or it will be an EARLY morning for you! And they are absolutely fabulous hot - think hot Krispy Kreme fabulous - so you want to keep that in mind, too.)

(very slightly adapted from Cooking Light, don't know the issue date)

1 pkg dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (100-110 degrees)
1/2 cup warm 1% milk (100-110 degrees)
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 tsp salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour, divided
cooking spray

2/3 cup packed brown sugar (I used light brown)
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp butter, melted

1 cup powdered sugar
2 tbps 1% milk
1/2 tsp vanilla

To prepare dough, dissolve yeast in warm water in a large bowl (or in the bowl of your stand mixer if you have a dough hook). Let stand 5 min. Add 1/2 cup warm milk, sugar, butter, vanilla, salt and egg. Stir with a wooden spoon (batter will not be smooth).  Lightly spoon flour into measuring cups, level with a knife. Add 3 cups of flour to the yeast mixture and stir until a soft dough forms. (Reserve that 1/2 cup.) 

If you have a dough hook, mix, adding flour 1 tbsp at a time, until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 min. If kneading by hand, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured smooth surface and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 8 min. Dough will feel slightly sticky. (NOTE: I only used about 1/4 cup of the remaining 1/2 cup... add slowly!)

Place the dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray and turn to coat. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85 degrees), free from drafts, for an hour or until it's doubled in size. If you press your finger in the dough and the indentation remains, it's ready. (NOTE: I have a bread proofing setting on my oven, which is 100 degrees, and it took an hour.)

To prepare filling, coming the sugar and cinnamon in a bowl, mixing to get out the lumps and combine well.

Turn out the dough on a lightly floured surface and roll into a 15x10 rectangle (or the approximation of a rectangle!). Brush the dough with the 2 tbsp of melted butter, and spread the sugar cinnamon filling over all, leaving a 1/2" border. Beginning with the long side, roll the dough up jelly-roll fashion. Pinch or wet the seam so it will stick. Don't pinch the ends. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 20 minutes.

Unwrap the roll and cut into 20  1/2" slices (my roll made about 30  1/2" slices). Arrange the slices, cut side up, on a jelly roll pan sprayed with cooking spray. Cover and let rise 1 1/2 hours until double in size.

Preheat oven to 350. Uncover rolls and bake 15-20 minutes, until golden brown.

To prepare glaze, combine powdered sugar, milk and vanilla, stirring with a whisk until it's not lumpy. Drizzle over the warm (hot!) rolls. EAT HOT!!! (You can also microwave room temp ones for 12 seconds for gooey deliciousness!)
ok, here it is again. Can you really see this picture too many time?? I think no.

NUTRITION:  If your jelly-roll cuts into 20 slices, here's the nutritional info. Mine was more, but some were small (uneven jelly roll syndrome)...   200 cals per roll, 4g fat, 3.2g protein, 38.3 carbs

Friday, December 9, 2011

What a difference a pantry makes

In November (and a little of December) we did a redo on a big area of wasted space in our kitchen. This house, built in 1961, was designed by a family with 12 kids, and there are things that are... weird. Like the fact that there are no original closets in any bedroom except the master - all the rest were built out later. Another weird thing is a pretty small dining room, and a very small "eat in" area in the kitchen.

It's possible that both of these combined could seat 14 people for a meal, but I doubt it. I'm not sure if they ate in shifts, or what! But it was way too small for anything practical for us, and it had a strange built in desk (the space for your legs was taken up by a big air intake vent), and there was a teeny tiny pantry closet. All in all, a very strange set up!

We had built in some shelves behind the stove a couple of years ago to add some storage for dry goods, and I decided in September that the best use of the space was a real "butler's pantry." So that's what we did! The only thing we don't have in it is a sink (and dishwasher) but the kitchen isn't so large that going the whole 6 steps to the sink is a problem!

So here is the before, although it had been cleaned up and our old fridge removed before I thought to take pictures (not to mention they would be very embarrassing!).

Beautiful, huh? See how practical the desk is?

On this wall was the old extra fridge, sticking out 35". You see the teeny tiny pantry?

Our original pantry expansion. This little dorm fridge had been in the teeny tiny pantry for drinks.

And now the "after":

New smaller extra fridge in the enlarged teeny tiny pantry.

A place for everything!

Baking station and cookbooks... LOVE!
Ready to cook!

Better organized, plus instant shredding for the mail.

So that's the new pantry, and I am having a blast! I love that there is room for everything without having things blocking each other or hidden. I love that it looks neat and organized and is soooo easy to keep that way. And I love cooking things like this:

Cinnamon rolls that were so amazing hot that I ate way too many of them...!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Cautiously optimistic!

Reviews have started to come in from the 10 or so people I have let read my NaNoWriMo novel, called Solomon's Throne. I don't think anyone is farther than Chapter 11 yet, so it might still crash and burn, but so far:

"I kept thinking about it all day at work today! What was going to happen next, who were those bad guys... Can't wait to read more! So when's the one?"

"I'm on chapter 10, and I love it! I was hooked after the first paragraph.  :)"

"Wow... the book is so good! I can see it as a great movie also! Why have you waited so long? It is good! Will finish this weekend but don't want to put it down!"

So... I'm cautiously optimistic. There are still a lot of people, and a lot of chapters left. Did I hold it together til the end? Did I tie it up adequately? I don't know! I guess that's the fun of it all. And I really have had a blast with it.

NaNoWriMo editing is kind of an out-of-body experience, if you do it the way it's intended with no editing until December or after. You know you wrote, but you have no idea WHAT you wrote! In a way it's like making up a recipe and tasting it for the first time. Since it came out of your head but you really had no idea how it was going to turn out, it's ok to say, "Hey! This is pretty darn good!" 

So that's where we are. The end.

My pets are enormously excited... don't forget to see the excited dogs at the end of the post!

Oh wait - except it's finally gotten cold here, so maybe I'll put up my Christmas tree. Which is vital information for you to carry on your day, I realize. Growing up in FL, you just threw the tree on up, no matter the weather. But here, where it's supposed to be cold, it's kind of hard to get in the mood when it's 75 degrees. But 34 degrees? Yep, it's time!

(Now, will someone get the tree out of the shed for me, please?!)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Who doesn't like pizza?

In October we spent a couple of days in New Bern, and happened to go in a store on Saturday morning. I had just made blueberry muffins for breakfast, and the owner of the store and I got to talking about baking. She said she used to make bread for a number of local restaurants, but doesn't anymore. And then she gave me an amazing recommendation: a book called Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day.

I ordered the book when I got home, and was making bread a few days later. Oh. My. Gosh. This bread is amazing. And it really does take 5 minutes a day! For fresh baked bread... No lie.


You can make pizza crust. From which you make homemade pizza. Like this! Pesto and fresh mozzarella. I made three that night - this one, a pepperoni and mushroom, and a tomato mozzarella. FABULOUS!

So that's today's (unpaid) recommendation. Get the book and become a fabulous baker overnight. (You might want to get a cooking stone, too, but I'll leave that up to you...)

Monday, December 5, 2011

How can it be that Christmas is less than 3 weeks away??

I realize that Christmas is Dec 25 every year. I do. But every year it sneaks up on me, and maybe never as much as 2011. I think it's because November was devoted to NaNoWriMo, and then we went out of town. But I just realized that I have 19 measly little days.

Now, I'm not a huge Christmas decorator. We do a tree. If I get around to it before too late in December I put out some lights on the porch. We hang stockings. There are a few nativity sets and Santas that go around the house. That's all.

We also don't do presents, except for stockings, because we give our family a trip instead.

So it's not like I have SO MUCH to do for Christmas. And yet in my heart I do... I don't feel like it's Christmas yet. I am still grouchy about Christmas music and stuff in the stores. I haven't slowed down, haven't thought about what it truly means...

I really love Christmas, although Easter is my favorite holiday. Because of Christmas and Easter (you have to have both in God's equation), I'm free. What better present does anyone need??

So starting tomorrow, I'm going to spend some time each day just pondering that a bit. I'll be decorating (eventually). I'll be baking. I'll be doing all the other stuff on my overly long to do list that has nothing to do with Christmas. But I'll also be pondering all that was done for me that's represented by those two holidays... and remembering to always be thankful.

This is our beach tree... I love the beach tree!