Tuesday, November 29, 2011

My favorite way to use up the last bits of turkey

I love this post Thanksgiving recipe. Enjoy.

Turkey and Wild Rice Casserole

1 package (6 ounce) long grain and wild rice mix
1/2 pound bulk sausage
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
1/2 cup celery
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon worchestershire sauce
3 cups cooked turkey, chopped
1 cup dried cranberries

Prepare rice. Set aside.

Cook sausage, mushrooms and celery. Drain grease, leaving 1 tablespoon. Set mixture aside.

Add corn starch to drippings. Stir and cook one minute. Add milk and worchestershire sauce. Cook until thick.

Combine all ingredients in a greased casserole. Bake uncovered at 375 degrees for 45 minutes.

image credit: recipe card

Sunday, November 27, 2011

5 Reasons I Decorate for Christmas on Thanksgiving Weekend

1. I, by nature, temperament and life experience, am a forward moving person. Once an event (Thanksgiving) is over, I have quickly moved on and am already living in the next event. (Christmas) So, I just want to decorate for Christmas NOW.

2. My family firmly refuses to carry my Christmas boxes up all those flights of stairs on Thanksgiving evening. (imagine!) But Friday morning, I have willing slaves, I mean, helpers.

3. I cannot wait any longer to open and listen to my new Michael Buble Christmas cd. I buy a new cd each holiday season.

4. The minute Christmas is over (see #1), I am ready to take everything down, and begin to enjoy the post Christmas simplicity. So putting up my decorations early, gives us plenty of time to truly enjoy their beauty.

5.  If I have not convinced you yet, I have saved the best reason for last. Because of all the delicious Thanksgiving dinner leftovers . . . I can decorate all weekend, eat yummy food and NOT DO ANY COOKING.

Whenever you decorate and however you celebrate, I wish you an early Merry Christmas. This morning at church, we lit the first Advent candle . . . the candle of HOPE. "And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in YOU." Psalm 39:7

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thankful for Thanksgiving Memories

In a few weeks, I am turning 59. (wow) That means that I have enjoyed many Thanksgivings. Because of a complication in my recent oral surgery and more time to rest, I have had lots of time to reminisce.

pumpkin pie with nut topping . . . yum.

Random Thanksgiving Memories

*During college, I was always invited to the home of my friend, Nadine, in Lodi, California, where her family always welcomed me with such kindness.

*The big Johnson Thanksgivings were wonderful, when dad was pastoring in Spokane and we all still lived there. A huge and loud crowd around dad and mom's table . . . with lots of babies. (my girls have 14 Johnson cousins)

*My brother, Tim, lived with us while he was engaged to the lovely Holly. That  Thankgsiving, we invited her family over.

*One Thanksgiving, dad and mom, flew from the hot and humid Philippines to spend the holiday with us in Minneapolis. We took them to the Holidazzle parade. My dad thought he might just freeze to death, as it was 5 degrees. (There was not enough Starbucks in the world to make up for that temperature difference.) 

The first Thanksgiving after my mom died was, of course, so hard. We wanted to still be together, but wanted it to be a little different, so everyone came to our house in Seattle. Early Thanksgiving morning, we received a call that my 30 year old nephew, Dax, had died. It was a difficult time for our family.

*We all remember the Thanksgiving visit from Tim and Holly and their kids. On Thanksgiving day we had an early lunch feast, took them to the airport and we were so sad, we four went to see a movie.

*Of course, all the Thanksgivings when the girls were little made for great memories. Reading books, making projects and always on Thanksgiving morning, making an apple turkey. (with raisins and toothpicks) As a family, we memorized Psalm 100, and still love listening to the tape of Jenny reciting it when she was two. (Shout to the "lod" all ye "erth".)

Yesterday, was another wonderful day, and we have so many reasons to give thanks to the Lord. We ended our day with a lovely long chat with Christy, via skype.

How was your Thanksgiving?

Monday, November 21, 2011

My Get-Well Strategy

I like some strange things . . . like cleaning my house, packing and moving and recovering from surgery. I know, weird.

Friday I had oral surgery (again) and while I do not enjoy the actual process, I do enjoy the recovery. I plan for it and I look forward to it.

 Here is my get-well strategy:

1. Spruce my house up.

2. Put clean sheets on our bed.

3. Launder my favorite comfy pajamas.

4. Stock up on snacks and favorite beverages. (in this case, easy to chew and lots of protein)

5. Borrow good movies from Jenny. (The Holiday, Julie and Julia, Dan in Real Life and No Reservations) 

6. Save a stack of great magazines to read. (December issue of Life:Beautiful, Country Living and Better Homes and Garden)

7. Enjoy resting.

8. Make sure you marry a guy that takes good care of you. (Thanks, Dave)

PS. Do take your Christmas card picture . . . before oral surgery.

image credit: cozy bedroom

Friday, November 18, 2011

Dear Jeanne, Welcome to Viet Nam (part two)

Dear Jeanne,

Welcome to Viet Nam.

I cannot believe that you and your family are moving to Viet Nam. I have been reflecting on my years there. Of course, it was ages ago and it was during the war years . . . so much will have changed . . . but the culture will still be the same.

Here are some random thoughts . . .

1. Vietnamese food is awesome. We ate it several times a week in our home. You will love it.

2. Southeast Asia has amazing fruit. Fresh papaya with lime was a regular breakfast treat. We enjoyed so many other fruits I had never even heard of before, that became favorites.

3. You will enjoy the French influence (not exactly Paris, but a strong presence.) We had a tradition of picking up fresh baguettes every Sunday evening, which we ate with peanut butter (that we ground ourselves.) The beauty salons and photography shops also had a French flair.

4. Get use to sweat (glow) and a lot of it. It is oh so, HOT. That Southeast Asian heat and humidity is something else. (This will be an adjustment from England.)

5. The Vietnamese people are so lovely and friendly. They loved being in our home and often invited us into theirs. They are very hospitable.

6. The holiday of Tet is very fun and all about visiting in homes, gifts, really good food and candied coconut. (yum)

7. Whenever you have "had it" with the heat and noise of the city, you can escape upcountry to the beautiful highland city of Dalat.  (which is were we lived for four years.) It is 70 degrees year round, pine trees, wonderful hotels and restaurants, fun open markets and gigantic strawberries. A great holiday location.

8. The open markets are wonderful . . . flowers, fruits and veggies, clothes etc. You will enjoy shopping there.

7. The traffic is wild and crazy. I understand that what was thousands of bicycles are now thousands of motorbikes. (and yes, I would take your bike)

8. The language is both hard and fun. There are six tones . . . so every word has six meanings, depending on the tone you use. It makes the language very musical but hard to learn. It also makes for great stories. You may think you are giving a proper hello to an older honored woman, but you are really saying "hello cow," or "hello number three." But you will have some fun trying.

Well, I could go on and on . . . Vietnamese coffee, the tea plantations, the beautiful national dress for women, the wonderful tailor shops, etc. but I do not want to overwhelm you.

I am excited for you, Jeanne. This will be a very interesting expat experience and I am praying for your family in the transition.


Ps. You will be glad if you know how to use chopsticks.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Dear Jeanne, Welcome to Viet Nam (part one)

The blogging world is so ridiculously interesting and fun. I met the lovely Jeanne, of Collage of Life while we were still in Seattle. So, a fun Seattle to England connection.

When we moved to Chicago, I brought all my blogging friends along. So now a fun Chicago to England connection.

Jeanne and her husband have led a fascinating expat life. Their latest posting was a few years in England. So, when our oldest daughter, Christy, moved to England three months ago, Jeanne wrote an amazing post welcoming Christy to her new life in England. A wonderful England to England connection.

Jeanne and her husband have led an amazing expat life. Recently they have been awaiting news for the location of their next assignment/post. Image my surprise to read that their next expat home will be VIET NAM, where I grew up. So now I get to return the favor. A Chicago to Viet Nam connection.

Come back tomorrow for, "Dear Jeanne, Welcome to Viet Nam (part two)."

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Year "in the city"

In Chicago, you live "in the city" or you live "in the suburbs." People are always surprised when we say that we live "in the city." Well . . . it is because we are not young, like most of our many neighbors.

We have just celebrated our one year anniversary of our move to Chicago and our move into our fun city/vintage apartment.

one year later

While we miss Seattle, we really love it here.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Dear blogging friends

Dear blogging friends,

My life has been a tad on the busy/crazy side the past two months. (90% really good stuff)

But, I have not had time to read any blogs or make comments, which I really love to do.

Just wanted you to know that ~ I MISS YOU.


PS. Please do not forget me.

image credit: vintage typewriter

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

HGTV comes to our house

Have you ever wished for some of your favorite design stars to pop over to your home for a cup of coffee and a little advice?

     *What color would you paint this cabinet?

     *Should I paint my oak dining chairs?

     *How can I best design my tiny guest room?

My list, like yours, would go on and on.

Well, here is the next best thing . . .


Did you know that HGTV just premiered their new magazine? I picked it up last week at Whole Foods. (Missing Borders . . . sniff, sniff.)

I am only half way through and I already love it. Lots of bits and pieces about the designers and loads of easy quick decorating ideas. My favorite article so far is an amazing tour of Sarah Richardson's farmhouse. (even inside her cupboards)

They are offering a great charter gift rate of 10 issues for $15. Pick a copy up. I think you will love it.

Monday, November 7, 2011

How to add three hours to your day

Yesterday was day light savings time, if you live in my part of the world. (In Bicester, England, where Christy lives, it was last week.)

My husband was out of town, so I woke up with determination. I might be creative and practical and intentional, but mechanical or mathematical, I AM NOT. So, I had my morning tea, put on my thinking cap and set out . . . and I changed all the clocks in our apartment. (feeling quite proud)

Jenny had spent the night and wanted to head back to her apartment around noon. We scurried around all morning, getting everything done on our list, to make sure she could return home on time.

Do you already know where this is going? Time sure was going fast . . .

Jenny and I had a huge laugh, just moments before she left, when we realised that I had set the clocks the wrong direction. Even saying, "in the fall, we fall back", means nothing in my head.

Ha, we had "gained" three hours. Jenny left at 10:00 and had a wonderful day at home.

image credit: vintage clock 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

How to teach your kids the real meaning of Christmas - The Dolls Party. 31 days of Christmas Wonder (day 31)

Phew. We have made it to 31 days. (finally)

Do you know the Biblical accout of Jesus turning the water into wine? The guests, not knowing what had happened, were so shocked and pleased that the host had saved the best wine for last.

Well, I have saved my favorite idea for last. Did the title get you a little curious? This idea is a little weird, but we loved this tradition.

Let me give you a little background. I have a large family and holidays were getting a little complicated trying to fit in the Johnson family Christmas, personal family Christmas and in.laws etc. So our extended family made some changes.

On Christmas Day, everyone stayed home. That gave you Christmas Eve to be with in.laws. And the big traditional Johnson family Christmas . . . we did on January 1. Everyone had it off. We just got up that morning and acted like it was another Christmas morning. (brilliant, eh?) And we did not have to cross the nasty pass, the same day the rest of Seattle was.

My husband's family was far away . . . so we were always just the four of us for Christmas. I wanted each part to still be special. This is how our Doll's Birthday Party for Jesus began.

We read a lot of Tasha Tudor. Becky's Christmas is one of our all time favorite books. Sadly, it is not in print and we do not own a copy. We read a library copy every year. Tasha was a very creative mom and created a magical time for her kids each year. She had a dolls and animals party with her kids and neighbors every year.

The Doll's Christmas tells about it and it is in print. So we adapted her idea to work for us. (but no animals allowed)

On Christmas Eve afternoon. The girls and I threw a little birthday party for Jesus and invited their American Girl dolls.  Their dolls are very generous and always brought a present for the girls. And the girls spent hours making a present for their dolls. (One year they created a magazine for them.)

Since Christmas is a busy time in our kitchen (No family around, so I cooked all the food), we ordered a simple small round, single layer cake from our bakery. Of course, it said HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JESUS.

It was a simple event, we had cake, talked about the day of Jesus' birth, and the girls exchanged gifts with their dolls.

We. had. a. lovely. time.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

It is RED CUP day in Chicago. 31 days of Christmas Wonder (day 30)

It is RED CUP day in Chicago. This year I had my first drink (tall decaf) of the season alone. Dave and Jenny were working and Christy is in England where RED CUP day is Thursday.

I was running errands at Target when I realised, so I rushed right over to get one. The new decaf is delicious, but it takes a minute, as they hand pour the hot water over the coffee.

The barista handed me a cup with the sleve already on it. As I stepped over to add some milk, I realized they had given me the regular old white cup.

One cannot drink their coffee out of a white cup on RED CUP day. So, I asked the girl at the end of the counter if I could please have a RED CUP. She said, "No, you did not buy that coffee here. We only serve red cups."

We went back and forth, until the first barista finally came over and rescued me. Then she got yelled at for serving a white cup. (Let me clarify, it was not me yelling.) 

But, everyone does know that you do not serve coffee in a white cup on RED CUP day, right?

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