Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Ultimate Comfort Food

I have been thinking about a nice pot of bean soup since I purchased a ham before Christmas.

I first rinsed beans (pintos and great northerns this time) and boiled them for about 
30 minutes and then let them sit for a while.

I took all of the nasty bits of the ham and the bone, tossed them in a pot and covered them 
in water and let them simmer for a couple of hours.
What I was left with was a pot full of nasty bits of the ham and the bone 
swimming in the most wonderful ham broth.

Then I combined the broth and beans and simmered until everything looked right 
and my house smelled wonderful.  

Add a piece of freshly made buttermilk cornbread 
and dinner was done!

Oh, and because I love my midwestern husband, I also made his favorite
split pea soup.  
It doesn't appeal much to me but he loves it.  

This was a wonderful, warming comfort dinner for this cold night.  

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Pill Packing Party!

Today our mission team had our second pill-packing party to get all of the medications 
that have been donated and purchased ready for distribution in Uganda.  

All hands were on deck to pack pills.  
Even my sweet momma came to join in the fun.  

There were lots of strategies for getting 30 pills into a little ziploc bag.  
There were those that counted to 10 three times.

There were those that counted by 3's.
Those that counted by 2's.
Those that counted by 5's. 
Anything worked as long as there were 30 tablets in the bag in the end.

The conversation was good, the music was pretty good too.  
John Denver Greatest Hits compliments of our fearless leader.
(Two hours of John Denver people!  Wow.)

But by the end of the morning all of the meds had been counted out and bagged.  

With all of the meds counted we realized that we still need about 
1000 patient packs of vitamins - so we will be pill-packing partying again really soon.  

Maybe we will play Michael Buble next time?

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Four-legged Child

 Christmas is a very happy time at our home, but Christmas gift exchange time
 ramps up the excitement and volume.
Peaches gets as excited as my two-legged kids when it comes to opening Christmas gifts.

Since she doesn't have opposable thumbs she relies on Allison to help her.

But once they are out of the wrapping it's game on!

Most of the pictures I have of her during the minute or two after opening her gift 
were just blurs of white and brown fur.  

Like this...

and this.  

Then she very patiently sits while everyone finishes opening their gifts, hoping that there might be something else tucked away for her.  

I wonder how long it will be before the Puppetmaster strikes again.  

Mmmmm, Bacon...and Chocolate

 It seems that Santa has a bit of a sense of humor.
Ben, aka Bacon Boy, loves bacon more than just about anyone I know with one exception. 
(I'm looking at you cousin Sam!)
He also loves chocolate.

But sometimes two good things don't necessarily go together well.

Enter: a large bar of Bacon-infused Chocolate.

It was kind of nasty.  
It had bacon bits in it so it had these gritty, greasy, almost jerky-tasting crunchy bits in it 
that gave the whole thing a weird texture.

He offered us all some of his chocolate (a rare occurrence) and kept eating bites of it in between professing it to be disgusting.

Does this look like someone enjoying their candy?  
I think not.  
I think he might have been thinking to himself, 
"It's chocolate.  It's bacon.  If I keep eating it it will have to get better, right?"

BTW, this morning the remainder of the chocolate/bacon bar was on the kitchen counter 
with a note asking folks to help themselves.

He has moved on to his more conventional Christmas candy now.  

I have to admit it was good for a laugh or two. 

The Christmas Eve services at our church last night were really special.

Beautiful message, beautiful music, candlelight, 

and the most beautifully decorated church.

Once again the flower guild outdid themselves.  

The church has been beautiful all of December but they stepped up 
the arrangements for Christmas Eve.

The Amaryllis that were just buds on stalks a few weeks ago are now in full bloom.

All of the arrangements were enhanced for Christmas Eve with the addition of red roses.

The apple wreaths had sprays of red berries added to them too.  

It was a lovely night in a most beautiful setting.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Any Excuse for a Party!

We here at the Peter's Ranch look for any excuse to throw a party.

This year's Christmas party was an open house - we started early and ended late 
so that folks could come and stay as long as they liked 
and still make their other Christmas obligations.  
Tis the season for holiday parties.

I wanted our guests to bring medications for our upcoming Uganda mission trip 
so I didn't ask anyone to bring goodies to share.  

We had plenty of food.

On the breakfast table we had buffalo chicken dip, artichoke dip, pico de gallo, 
guacamole, bleu cheese tartlets, two different cheeseballs, bacon-wrapped dates 
(oh my goodness, these are good) and ham rolls.

On the dining room table there was veggies and dip, barbeque meatballs, 
relish tray, three kinds of cookies, fudge, pralines, Mom's pumpkin bread 
and fruitcake, fresh apple cake, and cheesecake with sweet cranberry topping.

In the decanter is friend Chantell's fresh-squeezed Presbyterian Punch.
Yep, that's the name.
It is to die for!
(especially with a splash of vodka - Presbyterians don't mind.)

Speaking of adult beverages, we went through many bottles of wine.
Many.  Lots.  I got many new labels and corks from this party.

BTW, this is the family room Christmas tree.  
I love the old fashioned tinsel.  It makes the tree sparkle and it reminds 
me of my childhood Christmas trees.  

And as usual, there were friends congregating in the kitchen.

Friends in the dining room.

Friends in the family room. 

Even friends in the laundry room!  
To be honest, the bar was set up in this room.  
There was a steady flow through this room.  Just saying.  
I also had some Apparent Project jewelry for sale in here.
For those last minute gift needs. 

Hey, I am a full-service party hostess.

All of the girlfriends were under one roof!  
This is quite an accomplishment these days.  
We are all so busy.  
Now we have photographic evidence that this actually happened.

As much fun as the evening was, this was the best part!  
My generous friends brought so much acetaminophen, ibuprophen, 
and Tums, and vitamins for our Uganda trip.  
This was a huge help.  

Partying is always more fun when there is a good cause to support.  
Thanks friends!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Spirit Come

Once a month our church has a contemporary service known as "Spirit Come".  

There is a small group of musicians who lead the music in this service.
I am privileged to be one of these musicians.  

Katy is the bubbly one in the group - even though she is sporting an orthopedic boot for a broken foot.

Gann runs the sound system and plays drums for the group.

Toby takes a moment to get her guitar in tune before our rehearsal.  

Jeff and Frances on the left fill out the current group. 

Tonight's service was our Christmas service.  
We sang some favorite Christmas songs and a few folks shared their 
favorite Christmas memories. 
It was a wonderful service to get us all in the Christmas spirit.  

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Uganda Prep Underway!

I am going to the Gulu Region of Uganda the end of January with a mission team from 
my church and a couple from Mobile from our pastor's previous church.

We have been talking about it for months now, but it has just begun to feel real.
Our trunks for the trip have arrived!  
We each get a black one in which to pack our personal gear.
That would be all of our clothing, toiletries, bedding, towels, lights, and a chair.
(Yep, we are going so far off the grid that there will not only be 
no internet or cell service, there won't be electricity.)
The red trunks are for medications and other supplies that we will take.

Mary, my friend and nurse partner, and I placed our medication order for the trip today.  

Our friends and church families are bringing in 
Tylenol, Ibuprophen and vitamins by the bucket loads.

Airline tickets have been purchased.

Yep, this trip is quickly becoming a reality.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Ugly Side of Christmas Decorating

This stack of boxes makes me tired.
These are the boxes of Christmas decorations that we just pulled down out of the attic.
I will love it when these boxes are empty and my home is decorated.  
I usually decorate on Thanksgiving weekend or during the week after Thanksgiving.  
Is it weird that I am feeling like I am running behind because it is the first weekend of December and my home isn't decorated?

Thankful for Family

Over Thanksgiving weekend my family had something extra for which to be thankful.  

Santa, General Robert E Lee, er, Dad's family has a tradition of getting together 
every other Thanksgiving for a reunion.  
This tradition was started a couple of decades ago by my grandmother, Ava Hester.
We are usually traveling elsewhere for the reunion but this year it was my turn 
to coordinate the reunion.  
That meant one thing: reunion in Huntsville!

Other than lots of time to sit, talk, and reminisce,

there was time to go through family artifacts (a suitcase of items that belonged to my grandfather).  There were some really interesting items in this suitcase.  

A big yellow school bus picked us up at the hotel so that we 
could go on a Twickenham Tour 
with my friend, and tour guide extraordinaire, Jacque Procter Reeves.

And of course there has to be a group picture.  
Unfortunately we didn't get everyone together before the light was too far gone outside 
so this was the best that we could do for a group picture.  
There were 53 of us together this weekend.  
I do believe that this is the largest group that has ever come together for our reunion.  
The only ones missing were the ones living in Osaka, Japan, Paris, France and deployed to Kuwait.  
I guess that they had a good enough excuse.  

Some years are more enjoyable than others, but I am relieved to report that I think that everyone had a very nice time.  

I know I did.