Saturday, December 7, 2013

Holidays - Thanksgiving Leads Way to Christmas

Vintage fabric printed in the traditional colors of fall  grounds the main dining table
Ten adults. Two maybes. One crawler. 4 little dogs under 20 lbs. Rain predicted- plan A to serve in the dining room, but eat on the patio was scratched. Preparing for Thanksgiving began with moving furniture.    

Elbow room was created from two leaves and a 40" round table created 

Three times. Thank you God that our mountain man son, Trevor, managed three days home from the oil fields.  To stay ahead of the weather front, he could not stay for Thanksgiving dinner. Yet, while he was here he put his back to helping his mother rearrange furniture until Her Craziness was satisfied.  

As he lifted one end of the dresser and I the other, he explained that when the temperature is 11 degrees below zero and the wind is howling 25 miles-an hour, the hairs in your nostrils flash-freeze. 

Layered is my signature look. 38 years of marriage has blessed us with a mountain of slowly accumulated treasure trove of goodies to set the table to the season and menu. Most of it,  not terribly expensive. Some pieces, downright cheap. Napkins and berry rings from Bed, Bath and Beyond. Chargers from Home Goods. The pumpkin tureen from Barbara Cheatley's. 

Ye old crock pot plugged in over the washing machine  may have made the garage smell delicious- but the silver punch bowl passed on from Aunt Wanda and punch cups from my tea-totaling mother  made a splendid presentation 

This year's splurge were covers for the folding chairs. Compared to the wood and caned chairs, their naked frames were the equivalent of second class steerage.  That visual discordance of unequal status is now gone.

Indian corn, pumpkin and gourds silently signal the holiday
The menu was planned, guests kicked in. 

To move traffic smoothly, stations for serving were set. 

The bar was stocked with wine, champagne, orange and cranberry juices. 

In the kitchen, slices of lemon and creamers waited on a chilled salt tray. Next to it were mugs and spoons.  On the corner opposite the coffee pot was a pot of hot water and a tray of  teas. 

Time for guest to arrive. 

Gerry set up the camera on a tripod. He developed some Arduino device so that he could both greet our guests- and have some pictures with himself in them.  

When Gerry was a little boy- he rocked in the chair now enjoyed by our granddaughter. 

God is good. The skies did not shed tears on the one day a Southern California gardener does not pray for rain. What poured on Thanksgiving were loved ones onto our patio 

Charley with Abigail.

My beloved sister, Gina, with my mother-in-love- Melva

Alden with Charley 

Kenny, Shannon and  Charley with 3 of 4 dogs

We've known Kenny's wife since she was 14.  Best thing our son ever did was form a family with Shannon- a girl as beautiful inside as she is on the outside.  

Great grandmother with great granddaughter
The patio was set with a chest filled with ice to keep Dos Equis beer and an assortment of regular and diet sodas chilled. 

 Melva is gluten intolerant- so our meal was nearly gluten free. The Blue Diamond Almond Thin Crackers are our go-to crispy for the cheese tray. With the salamis, the pecan crackers disappeared into thin air. 

Bite size quiches are always a favorite- until the main meal is served. Let the calories begin! 

Main Course
Glazed Boar's Head  Ham

Cranberry and Pineapple Sauces
Bread with Homemade Butter
Apple-Cornbread Dressing with chestnuts 
Mashed Potatoes with Gravy
Sweet Potato Casserole a la Shannon
Green Bean Casserole Revisited

Selection by Billie and Melva 

Alden's cake- Oh- my goodness good. 

People stuffed- the dogs tried to take advantage of our goodwill after the dinner- but only dog food for them. 

"Little Eric " and Billie somehow escaped being on-camera. Next holiday- will have to stalk them with the camera lens Trevor left for me to try-out. 

From my mother-in-law to all who could not be with us on Thanksgiving- a shout out for a Merry Christmas season. 

While I loved how the furniture arrangement worked for Thanksgiving, it had to be rearranged for Christmas. Why? The Christmas tree. 

Don't tell my husband- but what I think I really want for Christmas- is to put my feet up! 

Until we meet again- Thank YOU for all YOU do to make the world more beautiful 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Thanksgiving- Thanks Giving- Operation Christmas Child Comes to Diamond Bar

"I have found a paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love." 
~Mother Theresa

Giving the gift of time are volunteers (l-r) Cindy, Ashley and Alysa Van Vliet- Cathy Richardson, Sandy Hardin, Kathy Cosier.
Ann Lovell in the box- and Dick Clark representing the men.

Diamond Bar has heart. When there is need, this community is generous. Back when I was an editor covering donations to the victims of Hurricane Katrina- the students of Diamond Bar High School pulled together over $70,000 for the American Red Cross over a single weekend in this solidly middle class community.

VHA is a  Diamond Bar company I had not heard of until yesterday, when local coordinator for Operation Christmas Child, Ann Lovell told me that they delivered 1315 boxes filled with gifts for children with over $9,000 to pay for their shipment to everywhere in the world Operation Christmas child serves. 

When the non-denominational Samaritan's Purse President Franklin Graham first founded this avenue of Christian outreach, he thought 1,000 shoe boxes was a nice goal.  But God blessed the program- people hunger for simple ways to give-  the 100 millionth shoe box gift handed out . The program now well on its way to distributing its second hundred million gift.

Angie Sielert and Katy Cosier joyfully load up a carton for shipment 
Best known for distributing gifts to children living in impoverished areas abroad, Operation Christmas Child is a project of Samaritan's Purse. This year,  500,000 boxes will go to the Philippines, where Typhoon Haiyan wrecked so much havoc.

Not as well known, "the shoe box project"  also reaches out to where national tragedies have disrupted family life here in the United States. From serving families from Hurricanes Katrina through Sandy; to where tornadoes wrecked the heartland of Oklahoma.

Libby Burgtorf of First Baptist in Walnut delivers 175 boxes on behalf of her home congregation in care of Ann Lovell at Mount Calvary Lutheran Church in Diamond Bar
The name of our national holiday is nuanced. The truest expression of thanks is to give of what we have, through any avenue available. Some joined this drive as individuals, some coordinated through churches, irrespective of denomination.

A truck with customer donations from the Chick-fil-A in the City of Industry is stacked and ready to sort by gender and appropriate age categories
Some businesses incentive  their customers. Most Chick-fil-A locations are giving diners who donate a box  a coupon for a free chicken sandwich.

Pastor John Scharlemann is so pleased at the opportunity for Mt Calvary Lutheran Church to host the community desire to serve "children who have very little in areas of great need."  It was at his invitation that I learned of this opportunity to serve others through my Christian faith.

Words of prayer, silent or said, are best when they are the beginning of a chain of action. 

The relay center for Operation Christmas Child will be open this week. No gift is to humble, Please feel free to drop by with a check, a shoe box filled with appropriate items or a bit of time. 

Nov 18-21 3 pm- 6 pm
Friday Nov 20 Noon - 8 pm
Saturday Nov 23 9 am - 6 pm
Sunday November 24 11 am to 1 pm
Monday, Nov 25 9 am-1 pm

Mount Calvary Lutheran Church is located at at 2330 Golden Springs Drive, Diamond Bar, California, 91765.  ( It shares a property line with Lorbeer Middle School) 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day (GBBD) November 2013 - Roses and friends

The early morning rewards an early rise with the sun's first yawn.  How can a day beginning sky echoing through  the petals of Betty Boop roses not hold promise? 

The season of planting and harvesting, of hope and fulfillment, Autumn is always busy. 

This German rose was slow to bloom, but that was long, long ago. Back before I forgot her name. Now she sends up these mini bouquets, a thank you that I gave her a chance to prove her worth.

 This common orange butterfly weed asclepias tuberosa popped up next to my husband's shed.  Spy, just below the flower head, the caterpillar costumed in green, black and yellow stripes, climbing up the stem.  In a day's time, the team of caterpillars will have denuded the stems of leaves. Cocoons will hang about the garden- reminding me to go easy on any chemicals so that in coming warm days we will be delighted by ever more butterflies.

Sexy Rexy- What fun story must lay behind that flirty name.

A passed along tuber from friend and colleague Gene Sasse, This deep purple iris made her debut in my front garden. What a joy that she shall be fruitful and multiply.

The Tamora rose refuses to go to bed early in the year.

Julia Child- The buttery yellow petals remind me to put cream on the grocery list. Before Thanksgiving, a fresh batch of butter needs to be churned.

2013 certainly marks the year our Mary Rose came into her own. 

Protected in the alleyway between my shed and the house, the Richmond Begonia, 'Begonia 'Richmondensis'  shows off her salmon-pink blossoms throughout the year. She'll be clipped back to fill a vase where her polished  dark green leaves with red undersides can be appreciated up-close.

The green zebra striped leaves are of the ubiquitous '70's hanging houseplant  going by different aliases from airplane to spider plant, Chorlophytum comosum. An excellent air filter who doesn't mind the low light levels inside a home- some will be potted up to bring in the house. 

An ancient clump of sea lavender- Limonium perezii  greets visitors at our front door - be they walk, hop or hover in for a visit.

2013 was an excellent year for bougainvillea.  After a well-deserved rest from a record breaking summer bloom, bracts of our specimen are bursting fresh in orange, then fading to pink before falling like tissue paper-like confetti.  

Valerian -Centranthus ruber 'Coccineus' - its hot-pink mop of a flower head cheers the garden from the most unlikely places. Not just where it was planted by the conventional route digging in with a spade- it pops up in driveway cracks and in pots, even  yards away from irrigation.

Graptopetalum paraguayense ‘Pinky’ was the first plant I ordered from Annie's Annuals. Its thick succulent leaves  of jade tinged with pink are sublime wherever they set anchor.  

Time to grab that next cup of coffee- link on over to Carol May's Garden Bloggers Bloom Day  

Until we meet again, thank you for all you do to make the world more beautiful. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Christmas Traditions Kick off at Barbara Cheatley's

Barbara Cheatley with daughter Kim

Barbara Cheatley's offers a touch of England to Southern California.   Its annual Christmas Open House is my kick-off to serious festivity planning. 

Whether the year's coffers overflowed or not, there is simply no place better to sugar and spice up an abundant holiday spirit. 

Barbara's specialty is inspiring customers to smile. Her decorating style- how can one go dour when there are mice and reindeer watching from on high?

Ms Modern Country would thoroughly appreciate Barbara's selection of Emma Bridgewater mugs.  I love their solid heft balanced with a bit of visual whimsy. 
Some people think romantic style is glamour and glitz. For me- it is a cup of hot creamy cocoa in front of a roaring fire. 

The shop is chock-full of collectibles full of meaning- like this simple bag of birdseed based on Scandinavian tradition of feeding birds on Christmas Day. How perfect is this for the bird-lovers on your Christmas list? 

Every inch of the store is filled with possibilities of future memories. 
Our personal Christmas tree, the primary theme is of our family history and hobbies. One of our sons once remarked- we are the only family he knows of with a hunting and fishing themed tree. Many of the ornaments, a special one for each family member each year, originated from this annual pilgrimage.

However, don't think of ornaments as only being for the tree or limited to our love of nature. Your holiday should be authentic to you.

Perhaps you love  The Wizard of Oz.  Warner Brothers is celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the film. Why not plan a party. Watch the film. Maybe do a little sing-a-long, then give ornaments of the characters as mementos. 

Have family who live by the sea- or dreams of waves lapping at their feet- a seashell ornament would be a lovely dangling with curled ribbon from their gift. 

For the gardener- imagine a rosemary tree loaded with accouterments of their passion-  watering cans, spades...maybe critters??? 

Context is everything. Certainly a glass grasshopper will bring a bigger smile to the face than any hopping by the rest of the year. 

This stitched owl reminds me of my granddaughter's nursery. Made of stitched fabric- a child can launch into flight- this ornament won't break. 

Having raised boys in a home their cousin Manny described as having " testosterone bouncing off the walls" I suggest the hosts of a celebration including budding ball-throwers plan accordingly. If your the nervous type, maybe take a Valium. 

A confectioner's tree would be lovely in place of flowers on a dessert buffet. Ringing in at zero calories- imagine satisfying the sweet tooth of some disciplined soul who manages to keep to a proper diet while the rest of us indulge like on our next visit all the scales in the doctor's office will pretend the holidays never happened.

If it takes a village... make mine gingerbread. 

If you have a holiday kick-off- whatever your faith- or no faith- please share!  Let the joy of the season join back together what politics puts asunder.

God bless you all!

Linking to Show and Tell Friday at My Romantic Home.

Barbara Cheatley Antiques is located at 215 Yale Ave., Claremont, CA 
Phone 909 621- 4161

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