Marriage is Not a 50/50 Proposition – Neither is Brunch!

Breakfast 022013

This morning as I was eating my yummy breakfast parfait, I was mulling over the idea of gratitude and all the things for which I am grateful.  I wish I could say I start every day that way, but if I told you I do it would be a lie.  Not that I am not grateful every day, but most mornings begin with me in a somewhat grumpy mood – especially if you catch me before coffee. I am not a “morning person.”

One of the things that came first to mind this morning when I was thinking about gratitude was that Jeff made breakfast (actually it was more like brunch) for me on Sunday morning. And this act of kindness was completely unexpected!

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I Get By With a Little Help from My Friends…..

…..and family!

Good Friday Morning (possibly afternoon by the time this finally gets published)! The sky is blue, the clouds are puffy and I’m feeling good! On Wednesday I had outpatient surgery and I cannot tell you how completely blessed I feel by the people who offered prayers and support – both emotional and physical.

The surgery I had is fairly routine and aside from what is probably typical apprehension about any surgery, I was not particularly worried.  Even so, it was so comforting to know that there were so many friends and family members praying for me and Jeff.  The phone calls and text messages and email messages you sent (and continue to send) were (are) greatly appreciated.  A kind word from a friend or just knowing that someone is thinking of you goes a long, long way!

We appreciate all the offers we had for meals – more than we could possibly have ever accepted!  How fortunate we are to know so many generous, thoughtful people.  The two meals we received – from my mom & dad and from our friends Alicia & Jason – will last us a long while, as it’s just the two of us most nights! And not only were the meals abundant, they were both downright comforting!

Meatloaf and Mashed Potatoes

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S.A.T.U.R.D.A.Y. Night

Yesterday was a wonderful day. To recap, we found a new spot for breakfast because our favorite spot, The Franklin Spa, is closed until February 1st.  The original plan was to do the Cliff Walk yesterday; however it was very cold and windy. So we put it off. Instead we walked around town and shopped and had some drinks and shopped and had some drinks.

We got hungry around 2:30, but didn’t want to eat too much because we were going to see some friends from church who moved to Newport last year and we were having dinner with them.  So we decided on bloody Marys and soup at the Brick Alley Pub in downtown Newport.

The wait was long, but that did not deter us.  We ordered 6 bloody Marys and settled in for our 45 minute wait. Fortunately, a bar table became available and we decided to have our soup shoulder to shoulder.  While we waited we looked at all the interesting things on the walls and, of course, talked and laughed and laughed and talked.

My Kind of Six Pack

My Kind of Six Pack

Words to Live By

Words to Live By (see center)

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Reflections and Resolutions

Every year, thousands, if not millions, of people make New Year’s resolutions.  For most – including me on more than one occasion – the resolutions are abandoned by mid-February.  In fact, one study suggests that only 12% of people stick to their resolutions.

I wonder if we don’t stick to many of our resolutions because we make them without an appropriate amount of reflection…I know I don’t give a lot of thought throughout the year to resolutions; but then somewhere after the full feeling of holiday eating begins to fade and someone asks me what my resolutions are, I think quickly about them and make a declaration that I am going to give something up or start doing something or make some monumental change.

So today, on the first day of a new year, I resolve to reflect.  In fact, I’ve been doing quite a bit of reflection over the last several days.

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The Best of Bread!

A 70’s rock band, a colloquialism for money, or a sandwich platform – any way you slice it, it’s delicious!

And it turns out bread is also a great vehicle for getting to know people better! Friday Jeff and I had the pleasure of spending the day at the beautiful home of a great couple – Darrell and Donna – that we know from church.  They invited us to their home to learn Darrell’s techniques for no-knead bread making after hearing me bemoan the fact that I don’t have the best luck baking bread.

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Merry Christmas Darling

Oh what fun it is…..to sleep late and have a luxurious morning!  That’s what I did this morning.  I woke up late – truthfully not even sure of the exact time , but I think it was close to 10:00 and spent some time in God’s word.  If I accomplish nothing else today, I have already received a great gift!

But….lo and behold, I’ve already accomplished more.

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It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas – Friday

Ooohhhhh, what a fun and productive day we had yesterday!

My friend Holly, who has a Costco membership, was gracious enough to accompany me and my Mom, Mimi, there so that we could buy some things for our Feast of the Seven Fishes on Christmas Eve.

The day began at my house at 9:00 am……my mom met me there for a quick bowl of savory oatmeal and a cup-a-joe.  Next we met Holly at her house at 10:00 and the day was officially under way.

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Lies, Lies, Lies, Yeah

Well tonight was the last night of the 13-week Bible study I started with some amazing women back in September.  We had a spectacular final evening of fun, food and fellowship with one another.

We also shared what we learned throughout the study. And I must say it was a remarkable journey.  To have a place where you can be completely transparent and find love and support rather than hate and criticism is a truly rare thing.  I appreciate all the women who walked with me and with whom I walked on this road.

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Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving dinner is my niece Ashley’s favorite meal of the year and my second-favorite meal of the year.  Enjoying it yesterday was an excellent reminder of why we love this meal so much.

My sister – Laura – offered to host Thanksgiving dinner this year.  An interesting choice for someone who gets so stressed out about entertaining, but she did an amazing job!  The food was wonderful, the ambiance was festive yet relaxed, and the company couldn’t have been better!

As most families do, we have some family traditions when it comes to Thanksgiving foods – and they never disappoint; but we also try new things each year, which keeps the meal fresh and exciting.  This year was the perfect mix of standards and new introductions.

The standards:

  • Turkey & Gravy – It’s not always made by the same person every year.  This year, since my sister’s family hosted the meal, she (Laura) made the turkey.  It was really good….please understand, I do not really like turkey very much – I love chicken, but turkey doesn’t thrill me.  If I were a turkey lover, which I am not, I would probably say it was fantastic; but a rating of ‘really good’ from me when it comes to turkey is like a perfect score from someone else.  It was golden and juicy and flavorful – not a bit dry!

  • Mashed Potatoes – Laura’s Thanksgiving mashed potatoes do not fall into the low-fat category by any stretch of the imagination.  But they do fall into the delicious category!  If I could describe them with only three words, I would choose smooth, rich and decadent!
  • Stuffing – Or is it filling?  Or is it dressing?  I can’t tell you which category it officially falls into (I truly don’t think there is a formal distinction), but Laura’s Sausage & Cranberry Stuffing is out of sight!  It is moist and flavorful in the center of the pan and toward the edges of the pan it gets crispy and golden….what could be better than that?

  • Corn Pie – The recipe goes back quite a ways into our childhood and it is one of my favorite things about the Thanksgiving meal.  This year, in addition to the corn pie I also tried a new corn recipe (see below).  It was truly delicious, but I think – perhaps it’s tradition – I still like corn pie for this meal.

  • Laura’s Cranberry Sauce – My sister’s recipe – which I have never seen – is just the perfect cranberry sauce.  It’s quite tart and refreshing – in my opinion, it is just the right complement to all the heavy, fat laden side dishes that are typically served on Thanksgiving!
  • Jeff’s Cranberry Applesauce – Even though we have Laura’s Cranberry Sauce, Jeff makes this applesauce each year as a labor of love for Ashley. Each year he remembers how much she likes it, so he starts with fresh apples and lovingly turns them into a yummy side dish that is equally as good served warm or cold.  It is another light and refreshing offering that balances nicely with the other flavors in the meal.
  • Pumpkin Pie – My dad is not someone who bakes a lot.  In fact – unless I am mistaken – the only time he bakes during the year is Thanksgiving.  But based solely on his pumpkin pie you would swear he is a world-class baker!  The nut crust is absolutely incredible – flaky and rich…..mmm mmm mmm.  The filling is luscious – the perfect balance of pumpkin and spice with a hint of sweetness.  He makes one pie “with” and one ” without” every year. The with and without refers to the bourbon.  I usually have the “without,” but everyone who eats the “with” usually raves about it!

The New Introductions:

  • Gulliver’s Corn – I know it’s overkill with the Corn Pie, but I one of the Kitchen Shoppe visiting instructors, Diane Phillips, was telling me about the recipe and I was so intrigued I just had to give it a whirl.  She makes something called Gulliver’s Corn, which is quite rich and which my nieces agreed tasted kind of like macaroni and cheese. Although the more traditional part of me thinks Corn Pie belongs at Thanksgiving, this dish was delicious and I will definitely make Gulliver’s Corn for other meals.

  • Salad du jour – I’m not sure how salad fits into the Thanksgiving meal for other families, but for our family it’s usually a marginal player; however this year it was one of my favorite things!  My mom made a terrific salad – lettuce was the base, but it was topped with a huge array of fresh fruits, some cranberry chipotle cheese cubes, and toasted pepitas.  It had a light vinaigrette and was a great accompaniment to everything else on the buffet.

I think over the years my sister has convinced herself that she’s not good at entertaining, but she actually is!  We had a great tasting and great looking meal, a nice selection of drinks – from wine and beer to a new chocolate bourbon, lively conversation, a break between dinner and dessert, some family game time, a chance to spend time catching up with family, and even a little Big Bang Theory!  If you ask me Laura was only missing one thing yesterday – confidence in her own ability!  Remember, entertaining is not a competition – if it is you are hosting the wrong people – and in my Entertaining Survival Guide I recommend that as the entertainer you should do the best YOU can do!

Grateful

I spent the majority of the afternoon sitting in waiting rooms of doctors’ offices in central PA with Jeff, my husband who is not very good at telling me something is wrong until days after it begins!

Apparently he’s been seeing flashes of light in both eyes for “a few weeks” and has had a shadow on his left eye “for a few days.”  Mind you, he drove home most of the way from North Carolina on Saturday.  Of course, when he called his eye doctor today they wanted him to come in right away…enter me.  Fortunately, I was only a few blocks from his office when he called me to ask for a ride so that he wouldn’t have to drive with dilated pupils.

After the initial exam, the regular eye doctor sent Jeff to a retinal specialist across town.  So we got Jeff into his sunglasses, drove ALL THE WAY OVER THE RIVER, and waited for his next appointment.

Why am I writing about this on my food blog?  Well, as I was passing time in the waiting rooms I was reading a book by a friend of ours.  The book is entitled ‘Never Fall Down’ and was written by Patricia (Patty) McCormick.  The book is based on a true story of a boy in Cambodia in the 1970’s who survived the Killing Fields of the Khmer Rouge. Over and over the book details the starvation of the children [and adults] in the camps – how they had so little to eat and scrounged for food – eating dirt and bugs and poisonous spiders and plants and, in some instances, the flesh and organs of recently killed humans.

No, I am not suggesting that we start scrounging for our food.  What I want to do is express my gratitude that I DO NOT HAVE TO.  I live in a country of abundance.  Most of the people I know never go hungry, unless it’s due to poor planning on their own part and even then I don’t think most people in America know what HUNGRY really is.

I am so grateful to God for providing for me and the people I know.  He has provided a terrific spouse, the means to make a good living, a beautiful home, wonderfully generous friends, and enough food for us to cook, eat and even entertain!  I feel so incredibly blessed not to have gone through any of the harrowing experiences that the characters in ‘Never Fall Down’ had to endure or unfortunately were unable to endure.  I’ve never wondered where my family is for extended periods of time, how we’ll survive, IF we’ll survive, or if we’ll be safe.

I am embarrassed to live in a culture that is full of people who have it SO good yet complain so much.  I am certainly not blameless when it comes to complaining that I don’t have enough; however when I look at things in a realistic light, I am fully aware of how richly blessed I have been.

I would encourage you, if you too are grateful to NOT know first hand what hungry really is to make a donation to your local food bank.  If you are in central PA, New Hope Ministries and Stop the Violence Ministry are excellent choices, but certainly not the only ones.

I am grateful to Patty for writing this story and for educating me and others about these historic events.  She is such a talented writer of young adult fiction and has met so many fascinating people who share their stories with her and trust her to tell them well.  She does not let them down.  If you get a chance to read this book, I would highly recommend it. One of Patty’s earlier books – Sold – is being made into a movie. In fact, filming began in Nepal just last week.  I haven’t yet had the chance to read that book, but as soon as I take ‘Never Fall Down’ back to the library I will be bringing home ‘Sold.’

The outcome of Jeff’s appointments?  He apparently recently suffered a vitreous hemorrhage in his left eye and shows evidence of one in his right eye from some time ago.  The retinal specialist wants to see him again in three weeks to make sure he has no retinal tearing or detachment as a result of the hemorrhage.  But for now he’s on the mend.

Just one of MANY things for which I am grateful!!!!