Saturday, November 29, 2008

Trying to Find a Tree

We made our traditional trip to the tree farm with the girls. This year we found the most aromatic tree ever - the Carolina Sapphire. The tree smells heavenly, is silvery and soft both to look at and to touch. Our tree farm is about 8 miles away from our house and is really in the country but only 12 miles or so from the Atlanta city limits. The girls had fun helping make the tree selection and then playing hide and seek in the Christmas tree forest. This was the final selection. More pictures on the way once we get the decorations hung.

Friday, November 28, 2008

A New Christmas Dress

During the time when I grew up getting a new Christmas dress meant that we went to the fabric store and picked out a new pattern. There were 3 girls in my family so one fabric would be selected and cut for all three girls so that all of our dresses, while not exactly alike, were in the same fabric. My oldest sister or my mom got to pick the fabric - I don't recall getting a voice in the selection process. One year I do recall that instead of picking patterns, we all had off-white felt skirts with a Christmas tree appliqued on the skirt. We almost never got a store-bought dress so I consider shopping for a Christmas dress a luxury.

This morning I got up really early so that my granddaughter and I could go and get a Christmas dress for she and her sister and she made the selection. The six year old did a fantastic job if I do say so myself. Here she is in the fitting room.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Cooking Tomorrow

After our puppet show and Thanksgiving deliveries tomorrow, the grandgirls and I will be coming home and preparing our traditional pumpkin cheesecake with a maple-bourbon sauce. Our family has been enjoying this delectable dessert since the recipe first appeared in New York Magazine back in 1991. Even if you have already planned your menu for Thursday, this is one recipe that you might want to put on file for a later date. Once the final product is complete, I will add a photo.

1 1/2 cups Gingersnap cookie crumbs, (about 1/2 lb. gingersnaps)
3/4 cup Chopped pecans, or walnuts
6 tablespoons Unsalted butter, melted
1/2 pound Cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup Sugar
1/2 cup Brown sugar, lightly packed
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon Ginger
1/2 teaspoon Ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg, freshly grated
1 cup Pumpkin puree, unsweetened
5 large Eggs
1/2 cup Heavy Cream
1/4 cup Maple syrup
3 tablespoons Bourbon
1 cup Light cream
1/4 Vanilla bean, split lengthwise
3 large Egg yolks
1/4 cup Sugar
3/4 teaspoon Cornstarch
1/3 cup Heavy cream, whipped

1. Crust: Lightly butter a 10x2 inch round cake pan. Combine gingersnap crumbs, nut, and butter in a bowl, and mix well. Press mixture firmly into prepared pan, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Make Filling: In a bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Add sugars and spices, beat until light in texture, 3-4 min. Add pumpkin puree and mix until just blended. Stir in eggs one at a time, scraping sides of bowl after each addition. Stir in cream. Pour batter into crust, and put cake pan in a roasting pan. Add hot water to roasting pan halfway up sides of cake pan. Bake in center of oven until cheesecake is firm to touch and slightly puffed, about 50 minutes. Let cheesecake cool on a wire rack for about 45 minutes. Cover, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. When cheesecake is completely chilled, lower pan into a hotwater bath for 2-3 min. to loosen the crust. Invert a large, flat plate on top of cheesecake; invert pan, and remove. Put a second plate on bottom of cheesecake, and turn it right side up. Cut with a hot knife, and serve with Maple-Bourbon Sauce. Cheesecake will keep for 4-5 days in refrigerator and 2 weeks in the freezer.

3. Maple-Bourbon Sauce Combine maple syrup and bourbon in a saucepan. Over medium heat, bring to a boil, and cook until reduced by 1/3, about 10 minutes; set aside to cool. Put light cream and vanilla bean in a large saucepan, and bring to a boil. Immediately remove from heat, and let bean infuse cream for about 10 minutes. Remove bean, and scrape pulp into cream. Whisk together egg yolks, sugar and cornstarch. Stir in 1/2 C. cream and return mixture to saucepan with rest of cream. Stirring continuously, cook over low heat until thickened enough to coat back of a wooden spoon, 5-8 minutes. Add reduced maple syrup and bourbon, and strain through a fine sieve into a bowl set in ice. Stire until completely chilled, then fold in whipped cream.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Grand Girls Are Coming!

There is one more work day before the girls come to visit for the holiday and I am so excited! We have tickets to Sam the Lovesick Snowman and of course we plan to go to the lighting of the tree. In addition I have lots of make and do activities which of course includes a Gingerbread House. If anyone has some suggestions please share your ideas. I still have 2 days to gather supplies if need be. The girls are 6 and 3. My girlfriend from work has made some special cookies as a surprise. Her baked goods and creations are amazing should you ever want something custom made. Stop by Dragonfly Custom Cakes - you really cannot imagine the artistry in sugar. (My favorite on this link is the Sweet 16 Computer).

We will be going to the tree farm and cutting down a small tree as I think the girls have always had an artificial tree. Just going to the tree farm has always been an experience for our family. This will be our Christmas celebration since they go to the other grandparents for Christmas.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Glad He's Back

My husband just got back from visiting his cousin in Dubai and he just can't stop talking about it! Dubai hasn't been on my travel destination wish list but I must say that dear husband continues to describe some really fun adventures for those interested in visiting there. One amazing site is the Burj Al Arab hotel. Here you can see it is a striking architectural structure and is especially beautiful when seen from the water at a distance. It appears almost like a sailboat in the desert.

Speaking of the desert, one can actually go camping in the desert. While Dubai may not be known for its outdoor activities, camping and deep sea fishing are fun things to experience while there. When the temperatures reach unbearable measure, perhaps skiing will cool you down after a little shopping. That's right - there is a ski slope in the mall.

And if your are interested in viewing an exquisite hand-blown glass Christmas tree, take a look at this incredible tree on display in the new Atlantis Hotel.

There are so many other places that I hope to visit but if the chance presents itself, I don't think I want to miss this interesting travel experience.

Friday, November 21, 2008

A Bed

If you have been reading my blog for a while you may remember that my husband and I sponsored a young girl from Africa who fled persecution and is seeking asylum in the U.S. She has been living in California with a young girl from church as she waits for her hearing date. She has been going to school and is working on her GED. Out of the blue the landlord where she has been staying must have discovered she was living with her friend and she was kicked out yesterday and left on the street where she spent the night. When the library opened this morning she was able to email me to tell me what had happened and I panicked. By 7:00 tonight we had found a place for her to stay but not without many phone calls and some very surprising and unkind responses along the way. It made me realize how thankful I am to have a warm bed. Tonight I will sleep well in my bed especially knowing that this young girl is safe and has a place to sleep.

Friday, November 14, 2008


I was catching up on my favorite blogs and while on Penny's website I read her posting about Stained Glass Cookies. It immediately reminded me of ZOOM - Z double O M, 350 Boston Mass 0-2-1-3-4. Out of curiousity I searched for ZOOM, the 70s television show on Youtube and it was there! I loved the show, never missing an episode. I spoke Ubbi Dubbi, made stained glass cookies and tried to do just about any other activity that was aired on the show. Just curious if there are any other ZOOM fans out there. I can't wait to email my sister and share the links.

Sunday, November 9, 2008


Last night The Enchanted Cottage was on TCM so I finally got to see the film. It was such a beautiful story in illustrating the power of love. The film also made me think about how important it is for each of us to find that "enchanted" place in our own lives. Wonderful.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas

This week I was working in New York for a few days and yesterday before heading to the airport I walked down 5th Avenue. The window dressers were out on the street, measuring, sizing and covering the windows as the work is underway for the holiday season. Of course I had already realized the holiday season was just around the corner by the price of hotels as they typically go up after November 1.

Last year I was lucky enough to have traveled to NY the day after the lighting of the tree at Rockefeller Center so I spent one night just walking around taking in the decorations, window displays, the Nativity at Saint Patrick's Cathedral and all the hustle & bustle.

Just seeing the window dressers got me so excited about the upcoming holiday season. But New York is not the only city getting ready for Christmas. My sister lives in middle Georgia and she just called from the Hallmark store where they are kicking off the Christmas shopping season. I am going to be buying these guys and singing this song.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

A Fence

Every time I see this fence, it reminds me of fall. Next to my office building is a day care center and for some reason the metal fence is topped with the beautiful amber leaves. It is such a beautiful fence topper. In the summer it always seems a bit out of place it's perfect for this time of year.

Last week I started thinking about holiday movies and it reminded me of a made for television special that came on when I was in high school. Do any of you remember A House Without A Christmas Tree? Growing up this was my favorite Christmas story and after thinking about it I was hoping that it would be on DVD. I got on Amazon and sure enough you can buy it! I ordered it last week and it arrived Friday so when I got home from church I watched it. During the holiday season all I want to do is watch Christmas movies. The ABC Family channel typically runs 25 Days of Christmas which is always fun to watch but I like having a good collection of holiday favorites on hand too. What are some of your holiday favorites?

Saturday, November 1, 2008

It Has Been a Crazy Month!!!

Hopefully things will go back to being "normal" whatever that is but there were times this month I was feeling like my hair stood on end. My granddaughter's photo illustrates the way I felt during some of the hectic days of October.

It is hard to recap all the exciting and exhausting activities but I will try. We spent a great weekend in South Carolina taking our grandgirls to the South Carolina State Fair. As many of you know, I work with our firm's pro bono and community service programs so there are always exciting things happening. The month of October is when we hold our workplace United Way Campaign which brings with it many activities including our own production of the Idol Show. This year's show was terrific and our campaign always raises a lot of money but it also brings with it a flurry of activity. We also run our AIDS Walk and our fall Habitat house build gets underway. In the middle of the month there was a work trip to Chicago (wish I could have stayed longer) and then, I got sick. Last weekend my daughter was back home to do a benefit for a Catholic School Fall Festival in my hometown so of course we went to home for the fun. Here is a link to a segment from her television appearance To top off events, Mimi put on an outdoor concert in our backyard last Sunday night. So much fun and so many great memories!

My apologies for not posting, responding to emails, etc. - I MISS MY BLOG FRIENDS!!!