Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve day found all of us.....waiting for Christmas. We had a big breakfast, Dad helped make the homemade gravy....we had biscuits, sausage, bacon and eggs. Ashley and Brittany were next door making hash brown casserole and pancakes. Penelope and Cooper were dressed for the festivities and excited about what may be in their stockings the next morning.
Brittany made special pancakes, using cookie cutters to add to the holiday cheer!

Justin, Benny and Cooper were waiting patiently for breakfast to be served.

Brittany didn't have time to decorate cookies at home, so I made her some cutout cookies and on Christmas Eve day she decorated them.
Grandma enjoyed a few games of wii bowling with her Grandson-in-laws....and she beat them both....she is good at bowling and was doing a little trash talk to get them motivated!
Ashley and Jose spend the evening at his family's house and the rest of us went out for a little last minute shopping. Most of the stores closed early, but Brittany was able to find a few things that I could buy for her. We took Grandma home to settle in for the evening and Grandpa went with us to see a movie. The first time back in a movie theater for him since the mid-nineties when we took him to see Father of the Bride 2. This time we went to see Little Fockers and none of us were very impressed. The first two were much funnier.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

My Neighbor and a Visitor

This is my neighbor Aaliyah. She wanted to do something special for Christmas this year, so her mother asked if I had any ideas or connections that she could get involved with. I told her about the need for blankets for the homeless on cold nights in New Orleans. Right away, she started collecting blankets. She passed out notices in the neighborhood, asked people in her church and where her mother works. Last night Ashley and I took Aaliyah and her bags and bags of blankets to the New Orleans Mission. We enjoyed a worship service and then passed some blankets out to those who were not able to secure a bed at the mission for the evening.

We have several freeze nights forecasted for the upcoming week, so the extra blankets will come in handy.
Some of the Mission clients helping Aaliyah unload the blankets.

See this window? I have to wipe it out often, as it seems to attract little bugs, spiders and their small webs. I guess they come in around the window. I started wiping it out the other day and noticed it was clean - no bugs! But when I lifted the white vase on the end.....a friend popped out!
He is the reason there are no bugs......he has been keeping it clean for me. I thanked him and then tried to catch him and put him outside, where he could enjoy more bugs and be reunited with his family. So, I was running around the kitchen with the dustpan, yelling at Cooper to get back and then the phone was my Dad. He said, awe, let him go...we will eat him for Christmas when I get there! And....we just might, he ran under my stove and I haven't seen him since!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Finished Project and More Baking!

I finished my Dog Treat project. I purchased these jars at different thrift stores. I painted them with chalkboard paint, added the ribbon with a piece of chalk and finally added the homemade dog treats.
I love them! I think they are so cute. Cooper saw them and he loves it too! I have them out in the garage on a table with my other baked goods and every time I open the door, he runs to the table, hoping for a treat. Brittany...don't show Benny this pictures, I want him to be surprised on Christmas morning!

This is one type of cookie I baked on Saturday. These cute Reindeer. Ashley made a tray and I made a tray. They are just a fun, easy, yummy treat that makes the cookie trays a give away a little more festive.

I also made spritz, pecan brittle, Mexican wedding cookies, a fudge wreath, peanut butter kisses, and whippersnappers. I still have to find time to make banana bread, pumpkin bread, pretzel treats, and cut out cookies.

I'm very excited about having everyone at our house for Christmas. Mom and Dad will be here on Thursday afternoon and Brittany and Justin will get in late Thursday night.

The stockings are ready to be filled. Mom and Dad's stocking are hanging in their guest room...I need a bigger fireplace or smaller stockings!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Baking barking treats!

I have bought all my ingredients for baking this season. I am making my usual Christmas treats that everyone will expect and I am trying a few new ones. Dog treats is one of my new ones! I have my dog and three grand-doggers, so I thought homemade treats would be fun to try.
I found these cute dog bone cutters at a kitchen store at Tanger Outlets. The recipe was easy, but I ran a little low on the whole wheat flour, so I had to stiffen the dough up a bit with regular flour, but not much.

They bake for 35 minutes, so I knew it would be a long night if I only baked one tray at a time. Cooper was excited and somehow knew that these where for him....well, maybe because I kept telling him and he sat and watched me the whole time.

Oh my goodness, he is so cute!

I made a double batch....I thought one would not be enough with 4 dogs. Boy, was I wrong! After three full trays of treats, I had more that half of the dough left. It was getting late, so I put the rest of the dough in the frig and will finish baking them tonight. I plan on putting them in treat jars that I am going to jazz up with chalkboard paint and ribbon. I will post the final presentation.
So, dog treats were the only thing that got baked last night.....about 11:15 I put Ruby to bed, tucked her all in with Christmas hot pads and a towel. I hope she rested well, I will be working her tonight!
Wanted to share this little treat that I put under the tree last night. I found these blocks at a thrift store that I go to about once a week. They are the really nice, bigger, heavier blocks. They were in great condition. I wiped them all down with a Clorox wipe and put them in the Christmas basket. Ashley saw them and asked if they would be going to her house.....I said, "no" these are toys that will stay at Grandma's house!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

This was our announcement!

When we came home from a cruise on November 20th, this was waiting for us on our kitchen counter. The Saints tickets were attached to the gift bag. The tickets were for the game the next day. Inside the gift bag was this onsie. I thought it was cute, and I thought it was for Cooper - our dog!! Jose said..."It's a onsie", I said "I know...for cooper", then Ashley said "no, for your grandbaby!" I screamed and Terry cried. It was all very exciting.

Ashley and Jose had found out a couple days before that she was pregnant. They wanted to wait until they found an OB/GYN that they were comfortable with and until they heard the baby's heartbeat before they announced to everyone. That happened yesterday and we are now shouting it from the rooftops.

What a great Christmas present this is for our whole family. We are thankful and praying for a healthy pregnancy for Ashley and a healthy baby on or about August 5, 2011.

Monday, December 13, 2010

I'm going to have a Grandbaby!!

Our baby is due August 5, 2011. Ashley and Jose heard the heartbeat today. We are all so excited! This will be a memorable Christmas and I am already looking forward to Christmas 2011!!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

O Christmas Tree!

Our first Flocked Tree! I love it! Don't know if I will have one next year, but this one has been different. I didn't use any of my other ornaments, these are all new ( bought last year after Christmas - on sale.) I had this vision last year and followed through. We took our 9ft artificial tree to church and used it there. The great thing about a live, flocked tree, is that it comes on a stand, you don't have to water it and it doesn't shed. They guarantee that it will last through Mardi Gras - many people take down their Christmas decorations and then decorate the tree for Mardi Gras. I don't think I will be doing that!! I love decorations, but by the first week of January, I am ready to put them back in the attic and return to a less cluttered house.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Great Time!

Jose & Sandra Ramirez, Jose & Ashley Ramirez, me and Terry

Jose enjoying a little shrimp cocktail at our Thanksgiving Dinner

Red Fish Grill - Thanksgiving Buffet

I suppose I will conclude our Cruise Tour by saying we had a great time! Looking forward to our next cruise with our kids or maybe some couples.

On the day we came back to New Orleans, I woke up with a little bit of a sore throat and didn't feel well. That feeling turned into a full blown, severe cold. It lasted about a week and just drove me crazy. I work on a schedule and a "to do" list....believe me, the days between Thanksgiving and Christmas are full. That cold put me way behind schedule and I just now feel like I am catching up.

We decided to go out to dinner for Thanksgiving, thankfully since New Orleans is full of great restaurants and a lot of tourist during the holidays, there are always many restaurants to choose. We made reservations for a Thanksgiving Buffet at Ralph Brennan's Red Fish Grill. It was very good....what I could taste and had the desire to eat. I was not feeling well, so I didn't get my monies worth, but Jose and Terry did! After dinner, we went home and enjoyed watching the Saints beat the Cowboys! Normally, I would have been working on my Christmas decorations and putting up my tree, but again, I wasn't feeling well.

Finally, later than usual, I have all my decorations out and my tree is up. Terry has not yet put out his outdoor lights yet, maybe this weekend when it warms up a little.

Last Friday, we attended our State Minister's Christmas Banquet. We enjoyed time with friends and family, as Jose and Ashley joined us. This weekend we will attend another Christmas Party in Baton Rouge and then on Saturday, a graduation party on the North Shore.

We are looking forward to my parents and Brittany and Justin coming to our house for Christmas.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Key West - The Conch Republic

Key West, FL was by the far the most interesting place of all of our ports. It would have been nice to have another day to explore and tour. Key West has some great history attached to it and some beautiful homes. The gates above are called the Presidential Gates and are only opened for Presidents. Behind those gates is the vacation home of President Truman. He spent many days during his Presidency there, as much as 150 days at a time. These gates have only been opened for four Presidents. You can tour the home, but we did not have time. I heard it was lovely, from a couple we met that took the tour.
Key West is also the Southernmost point of the United States. There are all sorts of establishments with the name "Southernmost" the Southernmost House, the Southernmost Coffee Shop, etc. They also have a Sunset party everyday at Mallory Square. Ken West is known as the Conch Republic and this link gives you history on that. Back in 1982, the United States put up Border Patrol on Highway 1 because of drug running. This did not sit well with the Key West residence because it made them feel less than citizens of the U.S. They had to prove their residency to travel in and out of the Key. The Mayor, who is still currently the mayor announced that Key West was going to secede from the U.S. Of course everything was resolved quickly, but they do have their own flag, passport, and motto. "We Seceded Where Others Failed."

There are chickens and roosters everywhere, just roaming around. When I asked about it, I was told that Key West is a Bird Sanctuary - chickens are welcome!
When we arrived at the Key, we took a Trolley Ride/Tour. It lasted about 1 1/2 hours, but you could also get off and on at the 14 or so different stops. I had read about and someone had told me about a gravestone at an old cemetery, so I looked on the map and decided we were going to find it. It was hot, and we walked up hill and through a neighborhood until we found the cemetery. Once we got in the cemetery, I found out the gravestone I was looking for was at the far corner, opposite of where we were. I was ready to turn back, but Terry said, we came this far, we are going to find it......and we did!
This isn't it.....but I thought it was cute. "Just resting my eyes"
This is it! The story goes that Bertha was the town hypocondriac, she would walk through town telling everyone how sick she was and no one believed her. Obviously, she was right - only 50 years old!
The cemetery reminded me of the ones here in New Orleans, above ground. Not because they are below sea level like we are, but because the Key is built on a Coral Reef and it is too hard to dig into. Many of the family plots had these "Car Ports", as I called them built over their burial sites.
The only Highway in and out of the Key's is Highway 1. Highway 1 runs along the coast all the way to Maine. This is the end/or beginning of the Highway.
Why did the chicken cross the road?
Of course who could go to Key West and not get Key Lime Pie?? I DO NOT like Lemon anything, but I do enjoy a slice of Key Lime Pie...and I really enjoyed this slice, it was dipped in CHOCOLATE!!! Oh my goodness.
There are several...."Famous" Key Lime places, factories, stores, etc....but supposedly Kermit's Key Lime Pie is the best. I don't know, since I only had one piece - but it was really, really good. This is Kermit - who stands outside his store and taunts those going by with his fresh pie.

Sloppy Joe's is a popular eatery....and yes, they serve Sloppy Joe's. We shared Fish and Chips!! Sloppy Joe's are okay, but I certainly didn't want to pay $10.00 for one! When I eat out, I want something that I can't or don't usually make at home.
This is the Audubon House, where John Audubon wrote the bird watching book. Ernest Hemmingway's house is also on the Key and I don't know how I missed a picture of it. You can tour his house as well. I heard it is overrun with Cats...some of the cats of decendants of Hemmingway's cats. I'm not a fan of the cat!

Before we got back on the Ship, we were just hanging around Mallory Square, near the docks and enjoying the weather. Then one of the boat captains that was getting ready to take a group parasailing, said hey - there is a manatee! I was so excited. For years I have looked for Manatee's when we have visited Florida. I was on the upper deck of the dock and shot some pictures and he wasn't going anywhere fast, so I went down to the dock and took several more shots.
It was amazing! He was very gentle, slow and ugly. He was all nicked up on his body and tail from boat propellers. One of the captains pulled out a water hose and the manatee put it in his mouth and enjoyed the fresh water. I was thrilled to have finally gotten to see a manatee in the wild.

I would love to go back to Key West someday. Maybe a trip to Miami and then drive down Highway 1 and hit all of the Keys.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Freeport, Bahamas

On Wednesday of our Cruise, we stopped in Freeport, Bahamas. I said in the last post that Nassau was on the Grand Bahama Island. I was mistaken, Nassau is on the New Providence Island - Freeport is on the Grand Bahama Island. There was not a whole lot to do in Freeport and the port was in an industrial area, not very pretty. We had to take a cab (van) that was not very well air conditioned to the Lucaya beach area. It was a very hot day and very humid. There was a shopping area, but most of the stuff they were selling was the same stuff that we had seen the day before in Nassau and it was more expensive.

We only stayed in Lucaya for an hour or so and were ready to get back on the Ship. The ships must have some sort of deal with the government in which they agree to stop in these less than desirable ports to help with their revenue. The same thing happens on cruises to Mexico. I do feel sorry for the people that live on these small Islands, but at the same time, when you are on vacation, it would be nice to have some enjoyable attractions.

Some tourist helping a local musician.

This is the hotel/casino that we went in for a cold soda to get out of the heat.
The Beach at Lucaya.

Being on the Cruise Ship, you always have a great view of Sunsets and Sunrises. I never saw a sunrise, but did enjoy the sunsets.