Thursday, December 25, 2008

My Christmas Baby

Well, we added a new addition to the family! We have a new Maltese puppy and he is an absolute doll! He is unbelievably tiny and sweet. Henry, Cara's Maltese, loves him and is very protective of him. It's been a great Christmas, having everyone together, including the dogs and Bob, the cat. We opened gifts this morning and have thoroughly enjoyed taking it easy, eating, taking naps and playing with the puppy. Matt and Ben got new golf drivers and went outside to try them out. Larry played with his new Nintendo DS and I got lots of goodies, including a Barefoot Contessa cookbook. Cara has been reading Twilight and Katie has been practicing sketching, using her new sketch book. It's been a wonderful Christmas, having Ben in our family and also the addition of Henry, Bob, and the puppy, which still doesn't have a name.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Missing Clarke

Clarke, my sweet teacup poodle, died on Thursday. Clarke was adopted from an animal shelter last year in January, after I found him on an animal website. He had been dumped in the cold rain and had to be completely shaved due to being so matted. He was skin and bones and had to have his teeth removed because of abscesses. He vision and hearing were poor and the vet guessed that his age was at least 15 years old. So why did Katie and I drive almost two hours and pay to adopt him? He looked so pitiful on the website and we just knew that he would probably not be adopted. We were stunned at how pitiful he was when he was removed from the cage. Clarke was scared and shaking and wouldn't eat anything for quite a while. We could only get him to eat smoked turkey at first and he eventually got stronger and could eat canned dog food. He was the sweetest dog I have ever had and was so devoted to me. He gained weight and eventually looked like a real poodle. I carried him with me all the time and kept him tucked inside my chenille robe when it was cold. He went on vacations with us. I even sneaked him into a hotel room because I couldn't stand to leave him! We found out that he had a malignant tumor inside his mouth that was fast growing and painful last week. The vet recommended that we not keep him alive after she anesthetized him for surgery and found out what was wrong. I know that it was probably the humane thing to do but it has been so difficult letting him go. Larry buried him in the back yard in his snowman sweater. I think that he taught me a lot about life. He wasn't valued by many because of his looks, his disabilities and his age but he was such a sweet and gentle little thing. People made fun of him and were shocked that I would pay to adopt him. I just don't believe that there could be a dog more loving and devoted than Clarke was. He was so appreciative to be given a good, loving home and to be treated with kindness. He knew that I loved him and that I thought he was special, even if he wasn't the most beautiful thing around. I have always said that pets and people that are the most difficult to love are the ones that need us the most and Clarke was proof of that. I will never regret that his last year was spent being pampered and loved because he deserved it. I miss him terribly.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Blessing: The Gift of Unconditional Love

No matter how old we are, we all desire the approval of our parents. The approval of our parents affects how we view ourselves and also affects our ability to pass on that approval to our own children. Many of us spend a lifetime searching for approval and acceptance. John Trent and Gary Smalley have written the book about what the Bible calls "The Blessing" that outlines the five essential components of the blessing. This is a very powerful book that every parent should read. The components include:

Meaningful Touch
The Spoken Message
Attaching High Value
Picturing A Special Future
An Active Commitment

Children that do not receive these things from their parents will seek them throughout their adult lives in different ways. All children want to feel cherished by their parents. The book is a must read for all parents with children of all ages and can be ordered at The

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Decorating on a Dime

I love to go junking! It's great therapy for me to spend time going to estate sales, antique stores and junk stores. I try to get a good look without spending a lot of money. It's almost a challenge to see how much I can do on a small amount of money. This picture is the window section of my living room. The chairs in this picture came from a yard sale I passed on the way to work one morning. I paid $25 for the two chairs and polished the wood and recovered the seats. The needlepoint pillows came from an estate sale and cost $20 each. I dried the hydrangeas from my bushes in my yard and bought the urn at TJ Maxx for around $15. The table came from a flea market years ago and I can't remember the price. The drapes came from Linens n Things and are probably the most expensive thing in the picture. They were around $70.00 each, I think. You would pay much more than that for custom made, lined, Duponi silk drapes. The seagrass rug came from Home Goods and was only $40. I really love a look that has history behind each piece and not a furniture showroom look. I actually don't like to buy anything new if I can find something to recover or paint. The blue books on the table are Matt's baby picture portfolios. We recently repainted the living room and we used "Deer Path" from Benjamin Moore. It's amazing how much a coat of paint can change a room!

New Recipes for the Dinner Party

I recently had a Christmas and retirement party for the school system counselors. One our the counselors is retiring and I wanted to prepare a nice dinner for her. Since I love looking through cookbooks and recipe websites, I decided to try a couple of new dishes. Here's the menu:

Appetizers: Roasted Cashews with Rosemary
Cream Cheese Pineapple Ball with crackers
Blue Cheese Crisps
Hot Apple Cider

Dinner: Teriayke Pork Tenderloin
Cream Cheese Mashed Potatoes
Roasted Asparagus with Herbs de Provence
Sweet Broccoli Salad
Yeast Rolls with Honey Butter

Dessert: Too Much Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Fudge Buttercream Frosting

I really liked the pork tenderloin! I have tried other recipes and I think this might be a favorite. The cashews were really good and quite easy to prepare. But the best thing was the chocolate cake!!! I found two different recipes for the cake and the frosting and the combination is terrific if you love chocolate like I do. I'll try to post all of the recipes but forgot to take pictures!

Teriyake Pork Tenderloin (12 servings)
1/2 cup and 2 T. Soy Sauce
1/4 cup olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 T and 1 t brown sugar
2 t ground ginger
2 t freshly ground pepper
3 lbs. pork tenderloin
Combine the first four ingredients and place in resealable plastic bags along with the pork tenderloins, after removing fat. ( I used 2 gallon size bags ) Seal bags and turn to coat the tenderloins. Refrigerate overnight or at least 8 hours.
Drain and discard the marinade. Place tenderloins in a 11 x 7 baking pan sprayed with Pam. Bake uncovered at 425 degrees for 23 to 35 minutes or till meat thermometer reaches 160 degrees. Let stand 5 minutes and serve with the drippings from the pan.
Roasted Cashews with Rosemary
2 -9 0z cans roasted whole cashews
2 T unsalted butter
1 1/2 T brown sugar
3 T chopped fresh rosemary
1 t kosher salt
1/2 t cayenne pepper
Preheat over to 375 degrees. Spread cashews in a single layer on a lightly greased baking pan and heat for 5 minutes. Maintain the oven temperature. Melt the butter and brown sugar in a large stockpot over medium heat, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and stir in the rosemary, salt and cayenne pepper.
Add the cashews to the stockpot and toss to coat. Spread the cashews in a single layer on the baking sheet and roast for 5 to 10 minutes or until light brown, stirring occasionally.

Bob the Cat

A few weeks ago, I found a kitten that was up under the hood of a car. Long story short, I still have him. I really did try to find a home for him but it didn't take long at all to get attached to him. He has special needs and I'm sure that's why God sent him my way. He walks in a very crooked kind of way and his head bobs up and down when he drinks or eats. Of course, that's how he acquired the name of Bob. He is most unusual besides walking crooked. He will lay on my shoulder just like a baby and lets me hold him as long as I want to. Last night he pulled an ornament off of the Christmas tree and for the next two hours he is rolling and galloping all over the house, batting the ornament around. He even went upstairs and banged around for a while. It's nice having a young and energetic pet around since our two dogs, Clarke and Prissy, are both 14 years old and sleep most of the time. Bob is going to have a play date with our neighbors cat that was also adopted recently and I suppose he'll need a new outfit!