Saturday, December 29, 2018

Christmas 2018

Some of the 12 kinds of cookies I baked.
 All the usual things happened this Christmas.  I decorated the house, bought gifts, baked cookies, delivered cookies.  We spent Christmas Eve with our family, though some VIPs were missing this year.  Our family in St. Louis could not travel to be with us.  We visited on facetime, but they were surely missed.  We were so grateful to be together, greeting our family, preparing our dinner.  My dearest carving the turkey breasts, Jon slicing the homemade bread. We were content.
Then all of our joy was eclipsed by an announcement.

 Jon and Charlotte gave each grandmother, Charlotte's Mom Roseann and me, two boxes.  They represented the twins Charlotte and Jon are expecting this spring.  

 We opened them to reveal that our twins are girls!

 Two baby girls!  We laughed and cried.  We are all so very happy.  The little girls even have names.
Irene Kristen, for my Mom and Auntie Kristen, and there is Stevie Rose, for Charlotte's Dad and her Mom Roseann.  So beautiful to remember my Mom this way, and Charlotte's Dad Steven as they were both pivotal in Charlotte's and Jon's lives.  Irene and Steven's memory will live on in my sweet granddaughters. What a wonderful Christmas surprise. We are over the Moon happy!  Three granddaughters. Our hearts are full.

 Beautiful blooms from Elizabeth.

 Penny insisted that we needed a BIG tree so Santa could put all of her gifts under it.  I remembered this tall pine in the basement.  I propped it onto a old suitcase, added some cherished toys and she was satisfied.

 No fire on Christmas Eve.  I made things ahead of time while visiting with my dear SIL Elizabeth.  Mashed Potato Casserole, Baked Ziti, Stuffing with Wild Rice, Pierogi, Turkey, Broasted Chicken, Italian Beef.  I also made a new coleslaw with dried cranberries, pecans and some Harry and David pears.  Everyone, especially Kris and my dearest loved it. Something for everyone. 

We played the crazy Christmas Lottery and laughed so much.  My sweetheart even got into wrapping some things for the lottery.  They were wrapped in multiple plastic bags and were popular items to steal.  I still have a box with things left behind.  You have till the 15th of January to claim your prizes, or they get donated to the local thrift. We are so happy to carry on the tradition of Christmas Eve with our family.  I hope someday our children will bring the family together to celebrate, just like my Buscia did, my Mom and Dad did, and now we do.  I love my family so very much.
 If Christmas Eve is a party, Christmas Day is respite.  Quiet, simple, soothing.
The beef is in the crockpot and the chicken soup is on the stove all day/

 A big bowl of noodles and two pans of lasagna.  Everyone went home with leftovers for lunch the next day.  There is even some in the freezer for Jon who had to work Christmas Day.

 The sun came out in the morning, and as I walked around I enjoyed the sunlight bouncing off the decorations.

 It all goes by so quickly.

 The memories last forever.

 Our ballerina dancing with the snowflakes projected on the walls.

 This Christmas gets locked into our hearts.

 At this point in the evening a young photographer took my camera.

 Penny took these photos, of her new guitar,

 my new pillow,

 a sweet vignette,

 a sweeter selfie!

 The house got quiet,

 little did I know Penny was making art.

 Appreciating the ordinary,

 just like Grandma likes to do.

 Elizabeth found that little suitcase for me.

 One of Penny's LOL's posing.

 Penny's eye view of the mantle...

and the perfect sentiment to end this post. Peace on Earth.

Thank you for stopping by and for your friendship and love throughout the year.
Enjoy this beautiful day.
Love, Penny

Monday, December 17, 2018

A Cookie and a Kiss

 Almost down to the finish line.  So much to will all get done or it doesn't, that's life.
There is always time for a beautiful sunrise.  I always look out the window first thing in the morning. Sometimes it's still dark, or foggy.  This Saturday morning, it took my breath away.  

Another one of those moments.  Our Kristen's birthday.  Penny and I decorated the cake.  The cake was such a bother.  I accidentally used a brownie mix instead of a cake mix.  I realized my mistake as I poured the rather thin mixture into the pan. I went and looked in the recycling for the box.  BROWNIES!  My hubby insisted I bake it and see what happens. It looked OK.  Smaller than a cake would rise.  SO Penny and I decorated it gingerbread style.  Kristen loved it.  

I will not share how old our girl is but it's almost impossible to think how quickly time has flown.  We love this girl so.  She is a great wife and mother, a sweet sister and amazing daughter.  She was and is my dream come true.  She made me a mother for the first time, and has been my sweetie ever since.  We had a small celebration as Kris and her little family spent her actual birthday seeing Emmett Otter's Jug Band Christmas at a special showing.  A very Kristen thing to do.
 These little disco ball ornaments send little spots of light all over the room in the morning.

 Makes me happy.

 Here are the first of the cookies. 
 Finished three kinds while my sweetheart watched our 
Bears beat the Green Bay Packers!

 Just wanted to show you cookie central.  

 My workhorse.  I so often think of my Mom who just had a hand mixer.  She made the most delicious cookies and baked goods, and in quantities I can never duplicate.

 I have a great setup.  Everything I need at easy reach.

 My Tupperware canisters.  Still my favorite, though they go in the cabinet, not on display.

 The tools of the trade.  I wash as I go. Then all the utensils end up in the dishwasher, ready for day two...sometimes day three and four.

 The secret to uniform cookies, the cookie scoops.

 Keeping my cookie recipes in one place helps too.

 Parchment paper is a must.  You never have to wash a cookie sheet. 
Good quality cookie sheets make a big difference too.  No burnt cookies!

 Here's the cooling table.  Then, they are packed in storage containers
 until I make platters for family and friends.

 Here's one great recipe.  Grandma Rhode's Butter Cookies.  
Try using almond extract instead of vanilla.  Delicious.  
A sweet way to remember a lovely woman.

 Then you need a handsome guy to taste test your cookie creations.
 My very own Santa!

Thanks for stopping by and for your kindness and friendship.
Enjoy this beautiful day.
Love, Penny

Monday, December 10, 2018

Hat Trick

Notice her fancy bag.  Guess who had to carry it all day...
 A Hat Trick in hockey is when a player makes three goals in a game.  For me, it's when I get to see all of my kids in one day.  Unfortunately rare, but oh so wonderful for this old Mom and Dad.  We started the weekend with our girl.  The Wonderland Express is a display of trains that travel through a romantic and much smaller version of Chicagoland.  Chicagoland is a local term for Chicago and the suburbs surrounding the city.   What we surprised our girl with this time, was a concert at the garden with the Chicago Brass Band, before we saw the trains. 

 A perfectly sunny, crisp and cold winter's day. 

 Grandpa enjoyed being out and about with his two favorite girls.

 Our snow bunny.

 My dearest took a photo of a lovely couple who were having trouble taking a selfie, 
but we didn't remember to ask someone to photograph us.

 This is the entrance to the theater. So beautifully decorated with it's own train.

 We weren't sure of this six year old girl's response to the concert, but she loved it.  We had a sweet snuggle to the music.  It was a variety of music, from Hanukkah to Christmas and at just an hour was just the right amount of musical holiday cheer.

 Then off to another building for the Wonderland Express. The halls are lined with beautiful wreaths and decorations.

 Then into Wonderland!

 This is our third time, so Penny was ready with the sheet of certain places to look for and mark with a sticker. Woo Hoo! This year we found them all.

 The famous "Bean".

 An Engineer handed Penny a train car to pose with.  
Poor Grandpa, I accidentally chopped off this head.

 Chicago is really a beautiful city, in miniature and in actual size.

 The very best part for me is when it snows INSIDE!

 It's magical.

 Such a great day, making more memories for our girl and for us.

 My sweethearts.

 On Sunday we received a visit from Willoughby Drone Works, AKA son Jon. You can find some of his amazing work on his Facebook page.  Penny was very excited to actually see the drone.  We all were fascinated. 

 We all came to the deck to watch a demo.  That little drone can really travel.

 This little one loved watching Uncle Jon fly over the house.
It was up so high it was just a speck in the sky.
 Even our beautiful expectant Momma Charlotte came out for the fun.

Kris and Doug came to pick up Penny and bring some of the baby
 things they used for Penny to Jon and Charlotte..
Here Kris is demonstrating how to use a baby carrier using a slightly older than usual baby. 
How quickly time flies, seems like yesterday when Penny was just a tater tot.

So when everyone went home, Mikey dropped by after work.  There was my hat trick.  Everyone went home with meatballs and sauce for lunch today, and a tired but grateful Grandpa and Grandma went to bed happy for seeing all of our wonderful kids on a December Sunday. 

 Thanks for stopping by and for your friendship.
Enjoy this beautiful day.
Love, Penny