Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Word of the Year: Connection

As I look forward to the new year -- and back at the old -- a few words come to mind.

Health. Travel. Connection.


-- Well, we started out with that as an issue with Greg's second surgery (and he's doing fine) in February, followed by my shoulder surgery in March.

Things seemed to go well until near the end of the year until Rick's bike crash and my own issues.

The good news? All of us seem to be doing much better!


Well, if you read The Marmelade Gypsy in June and July, you know I loved every minute of my first trip to France.

I discovered so many new, fascinating things. But most of all, I just enjoyed being there, not at a hotel or on a tour bus, but at an apartment where I could go buy bread at the local boulangerie or walk to the nearby Metro or bus.

Visiting Giverny was beautiful...

... and Normandy was most moving.

Flea markets were filled with new discoveries!

And hearing a Vivaldi concert in Sainte Chappelle was simply awe-inspiring.

Tres bon!

But I also got to Tampa in January for a conference...

And to London (Ontario) in October to enjoy theatre!

Myrtle Beach is a summer tradition -- and always fun!

And of course there were some good times at the lake.

Yes, travel was grand.

But really, the word of the year is Connection.

This was the year that connections seemed to be absolutely everywhere.

Certainly I re-connected with several, including my Paris host, Jerry -- a wonderful college friend.

And I visited Suzanne, whom I met when I was 16. Along with her husband, Jim, we enjoyed great theatre in Statford and Niagara-on-the-Lake.

I made new connections with public television friends...... and met many of Rick's biking buddies during his ride north this summer.

I enjoyed connecting with the cousins I see more frequently several times this year -- including when cousins David and Bonnie were in "Fiddler" in Cleveland...

...up at the lake with cousin Mutty...

...and again, when we said farewell to my aunt Iris and I was able to spend time with John from Arizona (the redhead in back) and Jack and Anne (at left) -- both of whom live in Michigan. It was delightful to get to know both of them better and I know we will see each other more frequently.

I connected often with our wine group (the women are below) and made new friends in my book club and a new art group.

The connection with my "at home" friends was never greater when I experienced their kindness and generosity during my surgery and following Rick's crash. I will always be grateful to them -- not only for that, but for all the fun we have together. These are a few of them...

We were able to meet our friend Yuka from Japan, who was staying in Windsor. It was a delightful reunion and we made new friends, too!

And, I will always be grateful for the connections made and developed on The Marmelade Gypsy. They evolve in beautiful ways -- through kindness during our maladies (so many of you were so "there" with thoughtful gifts and such powerful wishes; I was overwhelmed).

It was a pleasure to meet Tara (who didn't want the photo here!) in Paris and Joanne and Karen when Joanne hosted an art day in Kalamazoo last May.

And, after more than a year of "knowing" Anno, it was a treat to finally meet in Ann Arbor earlier this week. We live maybe 30 miles apart! And an extra treat was also meeting Jen, who lives in Ann Arbor. I have to say that it was like meeting long-time friends you just hadn't seen in a very long while -- but you pick up right where you left off! It was incredibly special to me.

And, while "Oh" and I didn't meet (I ended up not traveling over Thanksgiving weekend), we did enjoy a long phone conversation and promise to connect in 2010!

And one day in 2010, I will meet Ruth -- whose office is only 20 minutes by foot!

Thanks to e-mail, I'm able to stay in better touch with those who live far away.

Yes, the word of the year is "Connection." And to be honest, I wouldn't mind if it ended up being the word for 2010, too!

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 28, 2009

A Look Back at Our Christmas

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas! We sure did! Here are a few moments from our holiday...

Christmas Eve dinner at Rick's with Kevin, his friend Molly, Rick and Greg.

Our three stooges!

Cookie decorating after dinner!

Rick with the pillow I had made for him. The Samurai is his former bicycle jersey -- worn in the crash. He bought it while in Japan and they had to cut him out of it. The side you can see has the pocket where he keeps energy bars (and perhaps now, the remotes!); the back side is a patchwork. It was a hit! Thanks, Nell -- ace seamstress!

Rick and Greg, post presents.

Muffins for Christmas morning breakfast (along with a sausage/cheese strata!)

Reindeer games. Played after presents and breakfast, it's a dice game -- you have presents and get to pick one when you roll doubles. You can choose from the pile in the center (one for each player) or steal. This year's presents came from the good dollar store (where everything actually IS a dollar) and they were all hits!

Time for family photos!

The Young 'uns...

The Whole Gang...

Guess who!

Back home at my house for Christmas dinner...

Someone got a serious talking to after being spotted in this position (well, after I took the photo!) Punishment was in order and so I made him pose for more photos...

In antlers. Because a cat mom has to do what a cat mom has to do!

Safe to say, a good time was had by all. Except maybe Gypsy with the antlers!

I hope your holiday was wonderful, too!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Let Angels Sing!

Angels we have heard on high,

Sweetly singing o'er the plains.And the mountains in reply

Echoing their joyous strains!


In excelsis Deo!

May you have a lovely Christmas --

And if you do not celebrate Christmas, may your days be merry, bright and filled with angels, no matter what you celebrate!

Peace on Earth.

Images of carvings from The Whimsical Whittler.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas in Bits and Pieces!

A few moments from our holidays -- so far!

Cookie time -- not a lot of time to back so I went back to the easy things -- Peanut butter bars (like Reeses -- yum!), a new one -- white chocolate crispies (recipe below -- you can do this in 15 minutes).

And, the brainstorm. Chocolate covered pretzels -- buy rods and sprinkles. Coat end with 1 large pkg. chocolate chips mixed with about 1 stick of butter; roll in sprinkles (or chopped pecans!) And pretty, too!

The tree -- few left when Rick went to get his tree.

But we had a great time putting it up.

Except when it fell down!

But it got back up again, and Rick put on the angel his mom made. It looks good!

We enjoyed a holiday play on Sunday afternoon. Then we took a ride through downtown, noticing the new "balls" display...

And the display in a now-defunct store window by the MSU Museum focusing on Santas in advertising! Lots of fun here!

I finally got something new created for the holidays -- this feather boa wreath (it's cute on the wall, too!).

It was supposed to have balls, which I have lost somewhere in my house, but the stars from Ikea gave it some pop! It's pretty as a candle wreath, as well as a centerpiece with Mr. Santa!

And, I got a good deal of decorating done, too.

The "white tree"...

The Solstice tree...

The big tree...

And some of my favorite ornaments!

I love the Santa in the center here...

And this magical white one is another favorite.

Finally got some wrapping done.

Executive assistant is not much help!

Our Christmas Eve with the kids is the 23rd, with presents on the 24th this year. Then we get to do it over again -- just us, and whomever we round up!

I'll have a few more "Whimsical Whittler" carvings on Christmas Day here on the Gypsy. And there's a new post on White Christmas (movie and play) and Chopsticks and String -- check it out, if you're a fan!

Meanwhile, a Merry Christmas and Beautiful New Year to you all!

Snow Banks

Melt 2 c. white chocolate chips
2 T. peanut butter

Remove from heat. Mix in:
1 c. mini-marshmallows
1 c. unsalted (or salted) peanuts
1 c. Rice Crispies

Form into balls or haystacks on wax paper. Let cool. Done!

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