Monday, December 24, 2012

Holiday Traditions -  old and new - that's what keeps the season special.  This Christmas is full of firsts for us this year, many fun and exciting like celebrating with our new son-in-law and his extended family.  Some strange and different, such as not much in the way of decorations around the house.  The good news is I can enjoy some of my favorites like this quilt by going back through old blog posts.
This is one of my most favorite quilts, Christmas or not.  I took a class at Fat Quarters Quilt Shop with Cheri Payne with two of my quilt pals.  It was an all day class and I remember being SO excited about this quilt that I came home and stitched on it until beyond midnight  so I could get it finished and hung on the wall right away.
Traditions around our home also tend to revolve around foods - things we only enjoy during the holidays and usually decadent.  Those decadent foods have had to go by the wayside, but I can see no reason we should be left eating gruel  while huddled in the corner.  Instead I am working to recreate some of our favorites in a 'heart healthy' way.
Breakfast on Christmas morning is always a strata - so easy to prepare ahead of time and then *pop* in the oven while the family is opening gifts.  Check out this recipe that I have always used and you will quickly see why it shouldn't be part of our festivities any longer.  I just couldn't let strata go.  So I came up with this alternative recipe:
4 slices whole grain low sodium bread 
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1 can diced green chiles
a splash of non-fat half and half
2 whole eggs
4 egg whites
shredded sharp cheddar cheese and fresh cilantro for garnish
Spray three individual oven-proof dishes with Pam.  Cube the bread slices and distribute evenly among the dishes.  In a small mixing bowl combine the eggs, egg whites, dry mustard, half and half and green chiles.  Pour the mixture over cubed bread.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour up to over night.  Pre-heat oven to 350, remove plastic wrap and bake strata for 30 minutes until eggs are set and the edges of the bread is browning and crunchy.  Sprinkle with cheese and cilantro just before serving.  Some sliced fresh fruits and maybe even some turkey bacon will round out your breakfast.
(photo before baking)
 Okay, time to get off the computer and get back in the kitchen.  I'm going to try out a chocolate cake recipe that will be topped with 7-minute frosting (always a favorite for me)
Merry Christmas everyone!  I hope you and yours make lots of merry!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Okay, so where was I?  Oh yeah . . . . going off the grid.  Well, I didn't really intend to be off the grid for quite so long.  But what's a girl to do?  On November 15, Hubby had heart surgery.  It is a rather long and involved story.  To sum it up:  He had a congenital heart problem that has been well documented and monitored.  We have known for a good long time that this surgery would be necessary and were not surprised when it did, but maybe not fully prepared for everything that was going to associated with fixing him up just right.  The good news is that the time was right in every way.  We were in the right place with the right people and just the best possible care.  And now we are back in the business of the rest of our lives.
Starting with a whole new way of life when it comes to diet.  Hubby's troubles were not lifestyle born, but we certainly don't want lifestyle to become an issue down the road.  Let me introduce you to my new, best friend -
I ordered it from Amazon on the day we got home from the hospital, one month ago today. So far everything I have made has turned out to be quite yummy.  I find myself leafing through the pages every day for ideas and inspiration.
The other thing we are doing is walking.  Walking and walking and walking.  The prescription was for Hubby to start with short walks of 10 to 15 minutes each, three to four times per day, slowly building toward walking continuously for one hour every day.  And we are doing just that now including taking on the hills in our neighborhood.  *whew* It can wear me out.  I have teased that he's going to have me running wind sprints in the soft sand at the beach before we know it.
What this does not leave time for is all of the prep work I did before going off the grid.  I have not touched Folk Art Gathering nor taken a single quilting stitch in the hexagon stars.  I finished knitting the bag that was on the knitting needles and it has been felted.
But it has not been lined, nor have the handles been applied.
I took a few stabs at one of the punch needle projects.
There is still a way to go before it can go in the finished column.
Hubby selected fabric to make a thank-you quilt for his surgeon.
It's been washed and ironed and there it sits.
Now let's talk about pre-washing.  I don't like it and I normally just don't do it.  But look at all of those reds - with the intent of making a gift, I knew that pre-washing was the right thing to do.  Still this just irks me  . . . .
That represents wasted fabric to me.  And it is only the ball of *yuck* I pulled off when I ironed, it is not what I scraped out of the washer or the second wad that came out of the dryer.  I just don't like it and will go back to my non-washing ways immediately!
The holidays have gotten away from us this year, too.  Precious little decorating has gone around here.  I artfully tossed a couple of Christmas quilts across the banister and stapled a few more on a blank wall.  That was going to be it.  But we live in a neighborhood that is quite festive.  Not competitive, but festive.  And I am nothing if not a girl who likes to participate.  A quick trip to Home Depot and *voila*
We have a fully decorated and lighted tree smack in the middle of our front yard.  Bonus - we can enjoy it from the living room.  I may be onto something here - I don't have to worry about keeping the stand filled with water, the rains have taken care of that.  And I don't have to vacuum up any needles from the floor.  This is how a new tradition is born.
Back in November, I thought about Christmas cards.  Even tried a few test photos of Larkin.
This is the best of the bunch and she looks rather like an evil elf.  The little hat is really for a cat.  She has grown to the point that it won't fit anymore.  Today I tried getting a decent picture with a Santa hat.
She was skeptical.
Then she shot me a *raspberry*
 And finally just laid down in surrender.
I have an idea for a New Years card instead.  I know that I will need to take her on a good, long walk before hand in order to garner a little cooperation in the way of being tired.  Stay tuned I know we can do it.
Well  . . .  that was a really long post.  Congratulations if you made it to the end.  I hope you and yours have a wonderful Christmas.  Ours will be a quiet one, but filled with joy for sure.