We’re spending the holidays with my best friend this year, so not much entertaining will occur at our house. It felt weird to not decorate, but with a whole lot happening at work , I wasn’t up to full on Christmas decor. So we picked up a small Christmas tree from the grocery store, and added a small string of battery operated LED lights. There’s a little Christmas spirit. Simple, colorful, neat, right?
Earlier in the week, I purchased several sets of vintage German and Polish Christmas ornaments on eBay to augment the ones I inherited from my parents. One set was scheduled for delivery today, and these would get scattered around other parts of the house in keeping with the simple and neat decorating theme. The colors were a good match for the hot pink, gold, silver and blue that came from my mother’s 1960′s Christmas decor. The image on eBay just showed a general overview of the lot, not a whole lot of detail, and since I paid next to nothing for them, the individual ornaments weren’t of great consequence.
The parcel arrived early in the day, and I began unwrapping the lovingly packaged ornaments. As you can see from the above photo, you really only get a general impression of the ornaments, not a lot of detail. So I was completely unprepared when I removed the tissue paper surrounding the first ornament – it was a simple metallic red orb, nothing spectacular. You can see it on the far right side of the eBay picture. What was it that took that humble little red orb from commonplace, to staggering? It was the neatly embossed, silvery white glitter writing on the ornament that stole my breath away — it was my mother’s name – Florence.
What you many not know is Christmas is a bittersweet time for me, I sometimes struggle to find the joy and wonder the season is supposed to bring. I lost both my parents early in life, and the memories of Christmas with them are the best, but also the hardest for me to remember. No matter how old I am, I still feel this lack of them, and it is especially true during the Christmas season. This little ornament was the equivalent of a big emotional walloping upside my head today, and I’m not too proud to admit that I shed a good deal of tears as I held it in my hand. I was speechless for several minutes as I tried to understand what the universe — or rather, what my mother — 20 + years gone from this earth, was trying to say to me.
So this is it: She answered a long standing prayer today, by sending me a sign – literally a sign, she’s still watching over me. I take it as her kick in the pants that I should remember her, and her love for this most happy of holidays. I’m reminded to celebrate the reason for the season, and the coming together with the ones you love.
I hope you and yours have a very Merry Christmas, wherever you are.
What was new to me was the California Downtown Disney. I know, Orlando has one of those, too, but I’ve been gone long enough that whatever was there, isn’t any longer. So when my cousins and I went through Downtown Disney to get to the park entrance we walked past Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen and then we stopped in for lunch. I’m a sucker for all things NOLA, and since one of the venerated restaurant families of NOLA agreed to put their name on a Disney restaurant, I had to try it. Expectations were high (A Brennan’s restaurant at Disney!) and low (we weren’t in NOLA, we were in Southern California). Anyway, I had a very traditional NOLA recipe – Barbequed Shrimp and Grits. Let me be perfectly clear: I . WAS . NOT . DISAPPOINTED. I was so not disappointed that I searched high and low for the recipe, and finally found it on the Downtown Disney website. I’ve made the grits a number of times, and this has to be one of the easiest recipes ever. They are good as a side dish for many other meals — to be perfectly frank, we love these grits so much, sometimes, a bowl of these ARE dinner with a bit of french bread. Those on a diet should opt for a small portion, as there is a full stick of butter, heavy whipping cream and Parmesan cheese in this side dish. The recipe for both Shrimp and Grits are below. I hope you enjoy them as much as we do.
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 medium onion, diced
- 1/4 pound andouille sausage, diced
- 3 cups low-sodium chicken stock
- 1 cup grits
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan cheese * I add 1/4 cup cos I love Parmesan Cheese!
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
- Coarse salt, to taste
Combine butter, onion, and andouille sausage in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Sauté until onion is soft and translucent. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Whisk in grits and reduce heat to low. Cover and cook, stirring frequently, until thickened, about 10 to 12 minutes. Whisk in cream and cook, uncovered, 3 to 5 minutes more. Remove pan from heat and stir in Parmesan and parsley. Add salt to taste.
- 1 pound medium shrimp (about 30 shrimp), peeled and deveined
- 1/4 cup shrimp stock (may substitute chicken stock)
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 1/2 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon Creole seasoning
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 stick (1/4 pound) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley, garnish
Combine shrimp, stock, lemon juice, Worcestershire, pepper, Creole seasoning, and garlic in a large, deep-sided sauté pan over high heat. Simmer, turning shrimp over, until shrimp are just firm and opaque, about 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and add butter to the pan, swirling butter into sauce. Scoop grits into a shallow serving bowl. Top with shrimp and sauce. Garnish with parsley and serve immediately.
In honor of my GRRRR Girls, who are just amazing, and most definitely a gift from God.
Its Spring, so that means its allergy season. I have my own allergies to worry about – but this Water Oak in my back yard has it bad.
Look at this stuff:
My allergies run to another tree group (Hickory, Mulberry) so this isn’t affecting my respiratory system, but it sure is ugly. Each evening after a full day of work, I come home to sweep off several newly snotted inches off the new back deck — (haven’t shown that to you yet). Its a running battle, but if I don’t keep up with it, the Grrr Girls, and their humans, will surely track these darlings into the house, making the mess, not only on the outside, but on the inside.
I think there might be a few more days of evening sweeping. And then we can actually begin to enjoy the new deck without sitting in oak snot. Are you experiencing anything like this in your area? What have you done to combat the annual snot-fest?
So winter wasn’t so terrible, a little snow, but days upon days of 40 degree bleary gray days have made the spring delay in the mid Atlantic more urgent. Here’s what the front of the house looks like in mid April.
Fall is in the air, truly, I’ve heard the temperature in the DC metro are only expected in the 50′s on Sunday – yikes, that pretty cool. What really makes it fall for me, is the month of Halloween and the work of one very special individual. He is a fellow blogger, whose work I admire – it is gorgeously decadent and macabre. He doesn’t know I exist, and what I fan I am of his work, but I will publicly gush now.
Below is the movie he made for last year’s Halloween Haunt, called Swamp Foetus. The tale is simple, but beautifully and wordlessly told. The imagery is stark, glorious in its rot and decay, the witch is amazingly scary and sympathetic. I’m in love with the natural settings, and the crypt (of course). BE ADVISED: This movie is not for everyone, so if you’re even a little spooked about being spooked, I wouldn’t watch. Its probably PG rated, but it is so masterfully creepy, that this could give impressionable ones nightmares. That’s not a bad thing, if you like this sort of nightmare, which I do.
I present, the work of Pumpkin Rot – long may he and his minions reign!
And Mr. P.R. — thank you for the gift of your work. You and your work makes it Halloween for me.
I found this on another of my favorite blogs, Pumpkin Rot, today, and just had to borrow the HP Lovecraft text. So, in honor of my favorite holiday:
The steeples are white in the wild moonlight,
And the trees have a silver glare;
Past the chimneys high see the vampires fly,
And the harpies of upper air,
That flutter and laugh and stare.
For the village dead to the moon outspread
Never shone in the sunset’s gleam,
But grew out of the deep that the dead years keep
Where the rivers of madness stream
Down the gulfs to a pit of dream.
A chill wind weaves thro’ the rows of sheaves
In the meadows that shimmer pale,
And comes to twine where the headstones shine
And the ghouls of the churchyard wail
For harvests that fly and fail.
Not a breath of the strange grey gods of change
That tore from the past its own
Can quicken this hour, when a spectral pow’r
Spreads sleep o’er the cosmic throne
And looses the vast unknown.
So here again stretch the vale and plain
That moons long-forgotten saw,
And the dead leap gay in the pallid ray,
Sprung out of the tomb’s black maw
To shake all the world with awe.
And all that the morn shall greet forlorn,
The ugliness and the pest
Of rows where thick rise the stones and brick,
Shall some day be with the rest,
And brood with the shades unblest.
Then wild in the dark let the lemurs bark,
And the leprous spires ascend;
For new and old alike in the fold
Of horror and death are penn’d,
For the hounds of Time to rend.
…in honor of the 1940 Census Records release this Monday, April 2, 2012.
1940 Census http://www.census.gov/1940census/sam/... Created in celebration of the 1940 Census records release, this app allows you to place your favorite face in our historic 1940 Census poster.Download your picture and share through your favorite social media outlets.
Like many folks out there in the blogisphere, I’ve fallen hard for Pinterest. My step daughter calls it a time suck, but she said it as one who has also fallen under its spell.
I’m in the grip of the “I want it to be spring…NOW!” Mother Nature has been kind enough to give us a fairly mild winter, excepting the impromptu snow last night on our way out to dinner in Fells Point. Since we moved in to our home in August of 2006, we’ve made some half-hearted attempts to spruce (ha! a tree pun, get it?!) up the backyard. Here’s hoping I get that deck I’ve been dreaming of for the last several years… its from whence all other design possibilities spring.
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