February 27th, 2014
Visiting Bellevue University
Doug & Kathy on campus
Doug & I visited Kara in Nashville a couple of weeks ago. She is attending Bellevue University, and is working towards her doctorate as an occupational therapist. The last time that we headed south to see her was when we moved her in August of 2012. It was “drip sweat” hot during that trip!
We landed in Tennessee on Friday afternoon to 55 degree weather. It was fabulous! And, before the afternoon was over, it was raining. It seemed like forever since we had seen rain! The best part was seeing Kara! We toured the Bellevue campus when she first moved to Nashville, but now that she has been attending for a year and a half, she could show us the actual classrooms where she’s learning about all sorts of body parts and what they do.
Last November, when Doug had his knee surgery, when Kara was home for Thanksgiving, she explained to him what they had done and what he should do to speed up his recovery. While we visited this time, I told her about my sore fingers, and she told me what was wrong and gave me an exercise to stretch out something in my fingers (that I don’t remember the name) to help ease the pain.
Me & Jack Daniel
Chase, Jack Daniel & Kara
On Saturday, we headed to Lynchburg, Tennessee to visit the Jack Daniels distillery. It was a little chilly, but Kara said that was a good thing when it came time to head inside the actual plant. She had visited earlier in the summer, and the smell of the fermenting mash and whiskey were pretty strong inside when it was so hot outside. It was a fun and interesting tour.
Stay tuned, and I’ll give you a tour of the Opryland Hotel in my next post!
January 16th, 2014
After visiting Doug’s brother and wife in Grand Island Sunday night, we drove east on Charles Street on our way to Locust. I could not believe the number of houses that were still glowing with Christmas lights! Sunday was January 12. Now I LOVE Christmas, but give the decorations a week after the festivities end, and they should be down, or at least not on.
I suppose that there are families still celebrating for one reason or another, family members can’t make it home until January, a new baby was born during Christmas, a soldier just arrived home from Afghanistan, etc. But are there really that many folks still celebrating? Or do they just love the lights so much that they can’t bear to take them down? Maybe they are just making Christmas last. This year I felt like I had just put everything up when it was time to take it down.
The bitterly cold weather the week after New Year’s may have stopped folks from bundling up and doing the dreaded deed of taking down the lights. Who am I to judge, as I set a personal record this year by NOT taking my own decorations down until January 6! Depending on the day that Christmas falls on, I usually have everything packed up and back in the basement by the weekend after Christmas. This year, we traveled to Denver to babysit the weekend after Christmas, so I didn’t get it done until a week later.
I do have to admit that I looked at the houses that were still festively lit a little longer than I would have had it been in the middle of December. I guess these special houses should serve as a message to all of us to “make Christmas last” all year long. It wouldn’t hurt to have the Christmas spirit even in the middle of summer, now would it? Guess I’ll just enjoy the glow!
January 8th, 2014
I needed to bring dessert to a friend’s house for dinner over the holidays and wanted to try something new, so I searched my old standby, www.kraftrecipes.com and found this elegant, yet simple to make chocolate cake. It turned out great, was delicious, and was not nearly as hard to make as it looks! The only mistake I made was forgetting to take a picture before we ate it! So, I’ve included the photo from Kraft so that you get an idea of what it should look like. Mine wasn’t quite so perfect, but still pretty impressive for a “cake mix” cake! Give it a try, and you’ll not only impress yourself, but your guests!
1 pkg. (2-layer size) devil’s food cake mix
1 pkg. (3.9 oz.) JELL-O Chocolate Instant Pudding
1 -1/2 pkg. (8 oz. each) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
3 oz. BAKER’S Semi-Sweet Chocolate, divided
1 oz. BAKER’S White Chocolate
1/2 of 8-oz. tub COOL WHIP Whipped Topping (Do not thaw.)
HEAT oven to 350 degrees.
Prepare cake batter and bake as directed on package for 2- (9-inch) round cake layers, blending dry pudding mix and milk into batter before pouring into prepared pans. (Batter will be thick.) Cool cakes 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.
Meanwhile, beat cream cheese, butter and vanilla in large bowl with mixer until blended. Gradually beat in sugar. Make chocolate curls from 1 0z. each semi-sweet and white chocolates*; refrigerate until ready to use.
Cut each cake layer horizontally in half. Stack on plate, spreading 3/4 cup cream cheese frosting between each layer. Spread remaining frosting onto top and side of cake.
Microwave Cool Whip and remaining semi-sweet chocolate in microwaveable bowl on high 1-1/2 minutes, stirring after 1 minute; stir until chocolate is completely melted and mixture is well blended. Cool 5 minutes. Pour over cake, letting excess drip down side. Garnish with chocolate curls. Keep refrigerated.
*To make chocolate curls, microwave chocolate on high for a few seconds to warm it slightly. Run a vegetable peeler slowly over the flat bottom of each chocolate piece to form thin curls.
January 7th, 2014
Collins’ First Christmas
Collins & Great Grandma JoAnn & Great Grandpa Max sharing a laugh
Brooke, Matt & Collins
Chase & Kara
What a great Christmas and New Year it was this year! I’ve always loved Christmas, but this year, a new little sweet pea made it even more special! Our precious 5 month old granddaughter, Collins joined her parents at our house for Christmas. With Collins and Matt & Brooke in Denver, and our daughter Kara and her boyfriend Chase living in Tennessee, it was nice to have all of them under one roof for a few days.
We all commented on the fact that the dogs were our entertainment last year, but this year everyone sat and watched Collins kick and coo in the middle of the floor. I have to say that this was much less stressful than having a 150 pound Newfoundland and a 75 pound yellow lab in the middle of the living room playing tug of war with a chew toy!
Not only did we get to share Collins’ first Christmas with her, but also her first New Year’s. Matt & Brooke asked Doug and I to babysit for Collins in Denver while they went to Breckenridge skiing with friends. Scary stuff for a new mom, leaving your baby overnight for the first time. And, also a little scary for these first time grandparents since it had been 28 years since our youngest was a baby! Luckily, it’s just like riding a bike. It all comes back to you! The best part was that Collins is a MUCH better baby than her dad Matt was! Lucky for us! Matt didn’t sleep all night until he was 18 months old. Little Collins went to bed each night and didn’t make a peep until 6am! What a doll!
Funny when I think back to when our kids were babies. I don’t remember ever worrying about if we were were doing something wrong while taking care of them, or worrying about something happening to them. Not so while taking care of a precious grandchild! Everything you do is measured and done more carefully.
Not wanting to take any chances, we did not drive anywhere with Collins in the car. Doug claimed that he wouldn’t know how to get back to the house if he drove anywhere in Denver, so I would make a grocery run. (And also a little after Christmas shopping at Target!) : ) This meant that Doug did not leave the house for 3 days! We did take Collins for a walk the first day that we were there when the temperature climbed to 56 degrees. Doug took his confinement way better than I thought he would, but was ready to not breath “used air” as he put it, by the time the kids came home.
All in all, it was a great experience, and a wonderful chance to bond with our new little princess. Being a grandparent is the best gig in town!