Saturday, December 25, 2010

christmas eve

Well, techincally it's Christmas. But since I refuse to start the next day before I go to bed, it is still Christmas Eve.
My house is quiet. and dark, except the the tree and the mantle. I have Christmas Carols playing on Pandora. The snow is silently and magically falling. In the stillness there is peace.
I would be lying if I said this was the best Christmas ever. It isn't even close. Not by a long shot.  I think we (those at my house) are feeling the oppression of disease. Everette's mom is one and half weeks into her first chemo. She is feeling pretty ok now, but her white counts are low and I think we are all waiting, our breath caught in our chest.
A lovely women in our congregation, and I do mean lovely, quietly left her body yesterday. She passed away, in her home, next to her beloved husband. Just like that. Silently, without warning, and with no parting words. But she leaves a grieving husband, and a son, and grandchildren.

Today, somewhere across the country, someone I do not know, and does not know me, lost their sweet baby boy. His tiny body only days old could not fight any longer, and he too left a grieving family.

And now Christmas is here. And it seems unwelcome, an inconvenient nuisance.
And yet it is not. Because it is the beginning of hope.
I think it is great that Jesus came as a baby and this is the season we celebrate his birth.  but kind of.. who cares?
"A people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned." Isaiah 9:2

A light. A great light. A tiny flicker of light surrounded by deep darkness. A beacon of hope, and salvation shattering the darkness.  A source of comfort and peace. A lamp, and a torch.
I have been thinking a lot about Jesus being the light of the world. I think because, we are all familiar with darkness. It surrounds us.  And we all know what power the light holds.

John 1:4-5 "In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it."

John 1:14 "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth."
The Word of God became flesh.  I think an important thing to know, that before the birth of Christ, there had been 400 years of silence from God. There were no prophets. No one was speaking prophetic words. For 400 long years the Israelites as a people heard nothing from the Lord Almighty.
And then... the word... became flesh. And made his dwelling among the people.

praise God.
for the Light of the World, and the Living Word, in the form of a baby.
ok. my bed is calling me.
Mighty Christmas!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

I really am a grown up

One of the ways I mark just exactly how old I feel, since we all know age has nothing to do with adulthood, is by the items on my Christmas/Birthday List.
I used to define "gift" as something you really wanted, but it was totally impractical or completely frivolous. For example: any manner of shoes, hair accessories, makeup, clothing (non-essential), entertainment and jewelry.
Slowly, over a number of years, much like the English language, my definition has evolved.
Into: usable items. Items that benefit other members of my family.
Like a ceramic coated large cast iron dutch oven. Or a food processor. Or 1000 Thread Count bed sheets (best christmas gift ever!).

This year, I mark another notch on my growth chart.
Because this is the number one item on my Christmas list this year.
a mop.
A shark SteamPocket Mop to be exact. But still, a glorified mop.

I  am caught in a conflict of emotions.

My heart literally accelerates, when I think about this gift, but then my cheeks burn with shame that I could actually be excited about something as domestic and unexciting as a mop.

Every time I look at my grody floors, I quiver with anticipation. 
I don't know if you have seen the inside of my house, but I have a lot of floor to mop. And I hate mopping. Because... it either requires lugging a bucket, making frequent trips to the sink, dirty water, or 700 swiffer pads and still streaky floors.
But this mop. It is a wonder. It plugs in (no batteries-a big plus). And with two or three cups of water, and one or two WASHABLE pads, I can clean my whole floor.
No special floor cleaner, no buckets of dirty water sloshing all over. Just water.

I am officially 87 years old folks. 
And I really hope I get it this year!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Mocha Truffles (A.k.a. mocha balls)

I get several requests a year for my recipe for Mocha balls. It is a recipe from my grandmother. It isn't a secret and it isn't, I am pretty, sure even hers.
So I figured I would write it all here and from now on just refer people to this site. And so I can remember from one year to the next. If you aren't interested in ever making truffles, then you can just skip this post.
It all started one year when I was too poor/bad at saving money to buy Christmas gifts. Then it continued the next year when I had potential in-laws to impress. Now I am buying presents and making mocha balls. What is up with that? So I have been making them for almost 10 years and I, after several colossal failures, have figured out a pretty reliable system.

Before I go any further, the photo above is not of my actual mocha balls, because, I am way too lazy to photograph the operation. But I promise they will look just like this.

Here is the actual recipe:
1 pkg cream cheese (softened)
24 oz of semi-sweet chocolate chips (melted in a double boiler)
3 T instant coffee
2t hot water (am I the only one who prefers big "T" and little "t" when notating tablespoon and teaspoon,                              to me it is much more clear)
2 lb Dark chocolate candy coating
white chocolate

Dissolve the coffee in the water. In a mixer combine cream cheese and melted chocolate. Add coffee. Mix until smooth and combined.
Refrigerate the dough. Once it is solid roll into balls and place in freezer.
Melt dark chocolate, dip balls into chocolate, cool on wax paper. Refrigerate. Eat.

Here are my notes:
I use Starbucks Via (Italian roast) 3-4 sleeves per batch. It is expensive, but SOOOO much better.
Frequently, I melt one 12 oz pkg of semi-sweet chocolate with one 12oz pkg of Ande's mint baking chips.
Try it. You won't regret it. This makes them Peppermint Mocha Truffles

Some procedure hints:
I HATE to get my hands all dirty so I pour the dough into a large rectangular tupperware container and freeze it.
Then I get a melon baller and some hot water and scoop the dough out into little balls.
It is important to get a melon baller like this one. (USE THE SMALL END and you can get more bang for your buck)

Not like this one:
I can't really explain it, but the latter just doesn't work.  The baller needs to be able to rotate completely around to cut out a perfect circle.

Here is the method:
Dip (in warm water)
scoop (really it is more like "Cut")
tap (on the side of storage container, and perfectly round chocolate ball drops into container--ok sometimes it isn't exactly perfectly round, but I have found, that no one complains and they all get eaten)
and repeat.
Once I have scooped the entire surface area, I stick the container in the microwave for a few seconds at a time to soften it. Once soften, I re-smooth the dough and refreeze and repeat the whole process, a few hours/days later.
When they have all been scooped it is time to start dipping.
First..clear some space in your fridge for a baking sheet to rest. (It can tediously balanced on top of the milk)
Melt the dark chocolate in a double boiler. Melt the white chocolate in the microwave, and thin it with vegetable oil, until it drizzles pretty easily.
Line two baking sheets with wax paper (or aluminum foil, if you suddenly realize you are out of wax paper)
Get yourself a pickle grabber (and Christmas music-this is a critical part of the procedure)
 (or pickle pincher)

grab a few (not all) of the balls from the freezer
use the grabber to dip the balls into the chocolate and drop onto the wax paper. Once you have completed a row, use a fork to drizzle the white chocolate over the top of the balls. (I think it is helpful to do this row-by-row rather than tray-by-tray, because the white chocolate sticks better to the dark chocolate if you get it on there before the dark chocolate hardens).

Pop one tray into the fridge while you dip the other. Once they harden you can store them in an airtight container in the fridge, You can put them in the freezer but they will start to sweat. So I stick with the fridge, or the garage if it's cold outside.
And that is pretty much it.

If you follow my steps and use the small scoop you can get about 6 dozen balls from one batch.
ok one more tiny hint.. spend some time looking for bags to put them in (this is the hardest part for me) because one you start dividing them amongst your friends, you will see that one dozen doesn't look like very much and a half a dozen looks pretty measly, but any more than that and you will be making these on Labor Day. the trick is to find little bags so the bags look full, and it doesn't look so skimpy.

A Vocabulary Lesson

Note: This is a post I started a few weeks ago, and couldn't add pictures. So I abandoned ship.

Sorry, I've been gone so long ( I know, I know, what else is new). But this time I really have a good excuse. My left wrist is all out-of-whack and it hurts. Especially to do activities like type. My chiropractor has been working on it and it has been getting better. So I will suffer through for you. Jonathan has been pretty chatty these days and I would say he is about 90% intelligible to me 85% intelligible to Everette and 70-75% intelligible to the rest of the general population. He can master most words if you break them up, and repeat them for him, but he is slow to make these corrections into his everyday vocabulary. So we still have some pretty adorable words.





Friday, December 17, 2010


I figured it was December and I should probably say something here or hang the whole thing up.
Which I don't want to do, but since I am a mother and this blog is like my second child I have mother guilt due to blog neglect.
Actually, I started a post several weeks ago but stupid blogger wouldn't let me add pictures. So I got cheesed and left in protest.
But as it turns out... someone actually reads this thing, so I shall forge ahead.
November flew by at warp speed. There is much I could say, but I will just give you the highlights.

1. During our trip to NYC we learned that a biopsy Everette's mom had before we left had returned cancerous.
2. We returned home to find out she had breast cancer and the surgeon was recommending a mastectomy.
3. A few days later her surgery was scheduled. and Everette's brother (the one we just visited in NYC) flew back here for a whopping 9 days! (a new record)
4. The surgery revealed that the cancer was no longer confined to the breast.. just barely. And she would require Chemo.
5. In the midst of all this we had some dear friends stay with us. Which was lovely.
6. Spent several days, almost literally passing each other on our way in and out the door.
7. We drove to Alabama for Thanksgiving, with a three-year-old potty-in-training.
8. We got home from Alabama and had a colossal fight.
9. Spent several days barely speaking to each other.
10.Tried to "get in the Christmas Spirit"
11. As a GIANT act of love, Everette bundled up and drove across the county to the tree farm, trudged to the very back of the lot with Jonathan on his shoulders carrying a hacksaw to pick out the very best White Pine Tree. In the beginning of last Sunday's blizzard.
12. Tuesday Everette's mom had her first Chemo treatment.

That brings us to today.

So upon further review this list seems like a total downer. More like "lowlights".

Here are some good things that happened:
Jonathan and I made Christmas cookies!
Jonathan and I have been working on super secret Christmas projects.
I have made12 dozen mocha balls. (sadly those have all been eaten)
Jonathan still after all these weeks, absolutely LOVES to see Christmas lights as we drive.
And... we got to watch Auburn come from behind to thoroughly stomp Alabama the day after Thanksgiving. War Eagle! (this qualifies as one of those things I NEVER thought I would be excited about-never. not in a million years).
Oh... and just one more thing: caramel cake. I am thankful for caramel cake.