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Friday, December 19, 2014

Blog Break

Because of a family health issue and the need to travel out of state, we are taking an extended blog break. Comments are off as we know that your well wishes go with us and we appreciate all of them. 

In return, we wish everyone a wonderful holiday season filled with joy, love, family and friends, however and wherever you will celebrate.

Dorothy & Pat (aka Beatrice & Grenville)

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Holiday Films

We watch holiday films this time of year . . . 


Our collection includes about 50 holiday films and/or classic TV shows on DVD (we upgraded from VHS). We view them from Thanksgiving to New Year's and try to average one per night, but sometimes miss a night so double up other nights.

With some classics, we watch the original and the remake. For example, 1947 The Bishop's Wife (Cary Grant, David Niven, Loretta Young) was re-made and re-titled in 1996 as The Preacher's Wife (Denzel Washington, Whitney Houston, Courtney B. Vance). Another example is the 1947 and then 1994 versions of Miracle on 34th Street. Our preference is for the vintage B&W film. 
Then, there are the weekend movie marathons when we watch several films in sequence, notably the series of Santa comedies with Tim Allen: Santa Clause (1994), Santa Clause 2: The Mrs Clause (2002), Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause (2006). A second marathon is 1990 Home Alone and the 1992 sequel Home Alone 2: Lost in New York

Of course, there's numerous versions of the Dickens classic, A Christmas Carol of which we have several: 1984 version with George C. Scott, 1998 comedy Scrooged with Bill Murray, 2009 animated film with Jim Carrey, and the 1992 Muppets animation.

Then, there are the "unusual" holiday films, like the 1994 Mixed Nuts, with Steve Martin (named one of the worst films ever made). 
The 1950 The Great Rupert (re-titled A Christmas Wishwith Jimmy Durante featured a dancing squirrel. A 1940 film, Beyond Tomorrow (re-titled Beyond Christmas) is a sentimental tear-jerker.

There's also the classic films, we watch every year: White Christmas, Holiday Inn, It's a Wonderful Life. Our favorites also include these more recent seasonal romantic-comedies:  Love Actually (2003) and The Holiday (2006).

How about YOU . . .

If you enjoy holiday films, which ones and do you watch them every holiday season?

Happy Holiday viewing !

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Fairies in the Yard

Have fairies danced in your yard? — they have in ours and in neighborhood yards too.

According to legend, fairies or pixies often gather at night. Dancing in a circle, wearing down the grass and leaving a trampled ring of brown or dead grass. A day later, mushrooms spring up encircling the dance ring. It's been said that since toads sat on the mushrooms, they became referred to as “toadstools.”

Many believed fairies caused this phenomena and called the circles fairy rings, fairy circles, or pixie rings.
A mushroom ring provides the most obvious evidence of these rings. When "fairy" ring mushrooms first appear, there are numerous fruiting bodies (mushrooms) that look like small bulbs on top of long stalks. 

When mature, mushrooms are large and the bulb expands. The circles are the result of a pattern of mycelium growth. 

Mycelium is the vegetative part of a fungus and is the underground organism that produces the reproductive fruit bodies known as mushrooms. The circular growth pattern is a factor of soil type,condition, soil nutrients, obstructions underground, and dirt composition. The ground needs to be even and well composed, which is why the rings appear on lawns.

The organic matter that fairy rings break down is often tree stumps, roots, logs, and pieces of organic material in soil below the lawn. As these depletes, the fairy ring(s) disappear.

Several fairy rings may look together on lawns that were wooded. Yet, they don’t cross each other; fungal activity stops when fungi from different rings contact each other. (It seems mushrooms are not as social as they look.)
You can only notice these rings once mushrooms crop up on grassy lawn areas. However, the circular mycelium underground is always present and growing.

Yes, I believe that fairies dance in the rings on our lawn.

And, just wondering . . .

Do you believe it too? ('tis the season for believing)

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Modified Chicken Florentine

IF you were wondering about the post title it's because this recipe from the Kraft Foods website underwent some minor major modifications.

WHY?

Because I didn't fully read the recipe and check that we had all the listed ingredients before actually starting dinner preparations.

SO, there were some substitutions made, but the recipe listed below IS the original one from the website should you ever want to try it -- BUT substitutions are always good (especially when you've already started dinner and there's no time to get to the store). The asterisk (*) denotes substituted ingredients, which are noted below. 

Chicken Florentine Casserole
  • 1 tub (8 oz.) Philadelphia cream cheese spread *
  • ¾ C plus 2 tbsp. milk, divided *
  • ½ tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut in bite-size pieces
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 C farfalle (bow-tie pasta), cooked
  • 1 pkg (10 oz.) frozen chopped spinach, thawed & drained
  • 1 C shredded, part-skim Mozzarella cheese *
  • 4 slices bacon, cooked, crumbled *
  1. Heat oven to 375ºF.
  2. Mix cream cheese spread, 2 tbsp. milk and seasoning until blended.
  3. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet on medium heat. Add chicken and garlic; cook and stir 6 to 7 min. or until chicken is done. Stir in cream cheese mixture and all remaining ingredients except bacon. Spoon into 1-1/2-qt. casserole sprayed with cooking spray. Cover and bake 10 minutes.
  4. Uncover, top with bacon, bake uncovered for 15 minutes.
Modifications
* Used 1/2 Philadelphia cream cheese "brick" placed in microwave 30 sec. to soften
* Combined 2% milk and half &amp half
* Substituted 3-cheese Mexican blend 
* Used diced pepperoni (will have to buy more for homemade pizza)

Except for the ingredient substitutions, all the preparation and cooking steps were followed. Here's the resulting meal. Serve with a tossed salad (if you have any salad fixings available, which we did not) OR instead substitute a glass of wine, which I did.


Sunday, December 7, 2014

Eight is Great !

Grandson Bobby celebrated his 8th birthday this week. It doesn't seems so long ago that we boarded a plane in Norfolk, VA and headed to CA to await his early morning arrival. 
We will miss this weekend's party in RI, but sent gifts early — and watched them opened by way of a video chat this week. (Technology is wonderful.)


Happy Birthday, Bobby

Friday, December 5, 2014

Friday Funnies

Maybe I missed something, but when did a dachshund AND a pig become associated with Christmas decorations?




These yard decorations were on display in a local store. Have you seen any holiday oddities this year and what were they?

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Snowy Travels

Driving on interstate highways to spend Thanksgiving in our native NJ visiting with family and friend brought a number of wintry sights.


A winter storm hit the east coast on Wednesday just as many folks, like ourselves, were heading on the roads.
Luckily, we didn't experience any major backups or delays during our trip. Even though the day before Thanksgiving is predictably the "heaviest" travel day, traffic moved along smoothly.

Our only "delays" were when traffic slowed to let salt and plow truck drivers to do their job for which we were thankful.
And 2 days afterwards this was the scene as we traveled NJ roadways — what a difference in road and weather conditions.

We hope that all our U.S. blogger friends enjoyed a safe and wonderful holiday, as we certainly did.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Friday Funnies

This wild turkey "escaped" a Presidential pardon this week . . .

and flew away (after dining).

(A friend in Oregon "captured" this bird on his back porch using his cell phone.)

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving

We wish EVERYONE a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration, whether you're spending the day dining with family, friends or both.


At this special time, we are thankful for so many blessings — family, friends and YOU, our blogger friends. Thanks for your comments which we always appreciate.

If any of you will be traveling on the East Coast to visit family and friends, as we're doing, we hope that all our travels are safe. Wintry weather is predicted for many states, which could make this holiday even more memorable.

Happy Thanksgiving

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Holiday Treets

No, it's not a misspelling, but, a play on holiday "treats" because this is about decorated Christmas trees.


We've been in NH the past week and took a road trip to the Sticks and Stones Farm in Barnstead, NH, which was hosting its 4th annual Festival of Trees. This event takes place the weekend before Thanksgiving and is a fundraiser for several area organizations through an admission fee.


Farm owners invite local businesses, organizations and individuals to decorate trees that are displayed outdoors on the farm. Visitors vote for their favorites using pennies placed in containers near each tree. Previously, the festival has hosted 50 decorated trees, but far less this year. After judging and the festival's end, decorated trees are donated to families in need. 

We missed the Friday and Saturday choral groups since we visited on Sunday afternoon, the final day. Still, there was outdoor marshmallow roasting, cookies, cider and hot chocolate treats, and a wagon ride around the farm grounds. 
It was a nice way to spend time before Thanksgiving and to contribute towards a worthwhile event. 

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