The First of the Season


Sunday the 4th of December was the day set for our annual Mennonite Girls Can Cook Christmas dinner. This year Kathy and her hubby hosted us in their newly renovated home. The sad thing was that Dear was sicker than a dog so I grabbed my passport and drove myself up to Canada and back. I got to Scot and Kathy’s before the rest of the crew and was able to snap some photos .


As the rest of the girls and their hubbies arrived the platters of appetizers took over Kathy’s beautiful new island.


Not only did appetizers appear as the girls arrived but Lovella’s Showstopper dessert came through the door and all cameras were poised to capture it. Lovella made a single gluten free serving for Julie, too.


We all sat down at the table and started the meal with Bev’s Spinach Salad. Scot cooked an amazing pork tenderloin on his Green Egg, paired with Kathy’s delicious Blackberry Balsamic sauce, mashed potatoes, and green beans. We all enjoyed this delicious meal. The recipe for Kathy’s Pork Tenderloin with Blackberry Balsamic Sauce can be found in our Celebrations Cookbook on page 222.


img_9185Judy and me enjoying being color coordinated and collar coordinated! Thanks Marg for sharing your photo.

We took a break from the table to do a gift exchange amongst the girls before we moved on to dessert. We each brought one tea towel wrapped or in a gift bag and then played a guessing game to determine the order of choosing the package to open and see what variety of tea towel we would take home. There were a few towels that changed owners over the course of this game.


We switched places with the guys to enjoy our dessert and some “business” together at the table.


Marg, Judy, Bev, and Kathy.


Lovella, Anneliese and Julie. We were all thrilled that Julie could join us for a few hours. She is spending many hours with her mother who is living her last days in Hospice. Thank you dear Kathy and Scot for your wonderful hospitality!

My drive home from British Columbia was a varied mix of driving conditions and hazards. My border crossings were both quick and as usual for me an enjoyable exchange with the Border agents. I had clear skies and great road conditions until I hit Burlington where a deluge of hail had hit the roadway with a thick layer of slush on the road. Things slowed way down and my car didn’t want to keep on track. After that steering wheel gripping experience (I did not dare to touch my brakes) it was clear sailing ahead for a few miles and then a warning of flashing lights so I slowed way down before I hit another very slushy icy part of the interstate. Hallelujah’s were exclaimed when I got through that stretch and things sailed along nicely for more miles before there was a freeway warning sign of a collision ahead with the southbound freeway stopped completely and suggestions to take alternate routes. Thankfully I was in the right lane and there was an exit that looked somewhat familiar in Everett. I took it and avoided sitting on the freeway until the collision was cleared. Once through Everett I was able to get back on the freeway and continue home on relatively empty interstates. I thanked the Lord as I took my exit off the freeway and then I thanked the Lord again as I drove into my garage, safe and sound.

Today I’m enjoying sitting in my robe doing nothing but relaxing and writing this post, remembering all the fun moments last night and watching some occasional snowflakes fall, melting as they hit the ground. (Hope I got my commas correct in that long sentence). I write all these details for myself to document what happened and to keep different events from getting mixed up in my head.

Linking up to Mosaic Monday with Maggie at Normandy Life. Thank you Maggie!

Raclette and the Mennonite Girls…

ra·clette (rä-klĕt’) noun

1.a dish, of Swiss origin, similar to a fondue, consisting of melted cheese traditionally served on boiled potatoes and accompanied with pickles

Raclette is a Swiss Cheese dish that has been popular for centuries. There are different opinions about who started it. Some say shepherds in the mountains, other say it was the grape harvesters in the vineyards of the Valais region of Switzerland. No matter who, the fact is that after a hard days work, they gathered around a campfire and enjoyed a Raclette.

Everybody agrees, that it took place in the Valais region of Switzerland and that the original cheese was made there.

Raclette has more than one definition. Raclette is a Swiss cheese dish, a cultural land mark, the name of a cheese, a table top appliance, a dining experience, a great time!


This past Friday Dear and I joined the British Columbia Mennonite Girls for an early Christmas Raclette party at Bev and Harv’s beautiful home in Chilliwack. For most of us it was our first experience enjoying this type of meal where meat, cheese, vegetables, and pickled accompaniments are provided but each individual is responsible to cook and melt their choices for themselves on an electric Raclette grill.


We had thinly sliced and marinated flank steak, shrimp, sausage, jack and cheddar cheese (instead of the raclette cheese), mushrooms, broccoli, peppers, scallions, dill pickles, baby gherkins, pickled onions and of course the boiled potatoes and fresh baked french bread.

But…first things first.


We all sat down in the Russian style with the men together on one end of the great huge table and the girls on the other end!


Instructions were given on how to use the grill and melt the cheese. We sang Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow for our Grace and the new culinary adventure began.


We started with a delicious salad that Bev put together for all of us, greens, pineapple, beets, goat cheese and nuts with a homemade dressing that was so bright and delicious.


Anneliese baked the bread for our evening.




My messy plate full before I scraped the cheese onto my bread.



There was lots of busy fun around the whole table.


We had to make room for two desserts, too. This one was a delicious gluten free caramel cake that Julie baked.


And Anneliese made a Beautiful Black Cherry chocolate trifle.


We ended the evening with our gift exchange. A wonderful variety of thoughtful gifts were opened and enjoyed.

The celebrations went late and Dear and I were happy that Judy and Elmer provided us with a room for the night. When we woke up on Saturday morning we were served a delicious breakfast before we hit the road for the U.S.A. on Saturday.  It was another hearty and hardy experience for us with our Mennonite friends!

As soon as we crossed the line from Canada into the U.S. I turned my phone back on and researched where we could buy a Raclette! We’re still celebrating at our house as today is our 41st Anniversary. I’ll share our anniversary celebrations later in the week…

Photobucket is holding all my photos from 2007-2015 hostage on their site. All my photos that I stored and uploaded from that site are now big ugly black and grey boxes with a message to pay big bucks to get them restored to my blog. It will take me a long time to restore thousands of posts.

Here and There…

Here on Friday night we had our nephew Caleb with his wife Marie with us for dinner and dessert and a little catch-up on what’s going on in our lives. Caleb and Marie live in Santa Barbara so we don’t get to see them often. It was fun to have these cousins together in Washington. This might have been the first time that Andrew met them in person.

On Sunday we went “there” to Tacoma to spend a few hours celebrating with our beautiful friends that include our family in many special occasions.

Wonderful food, drink and conversations with these treasured friends celebrating our Savior.

Lucy * Katie * Jamie * Bridget

It was great to see these four beauties together. It’s been a long time. Jamie has just gotten back from a two year trip around the world on her own. Lucy, Jamie and Bridget are sisters and Katie has pretty much grown up with them as her friends. Jamie was Katie’s maid of honor.

Just in case you missed our great news that I posted on Saturday, I’ll repeat it here. Our son Dan asked his girlfriend Jamie to marry him and she said yes. We are looking forward to a wedding in 2015 over there in Dan and Jamie’s neck of the woods.

Palisade 003I’m happy to report I’m headed to the post office on Monday to finally mail off our Christmas cards. We have a few free days until Christmas. We’ll have a quiet Christmas Eve attending a service at church. On Christmas day we’ll have a full day of celebrating. Josh, Laura, Katie and Andrew will spend the night here on Christmas Eve and wake up for stockings and breakfast. Dan and Jamie will arrive from Eastern Washington in time for dinner so we’ll wait to open gifts till after dinner. We are looking forward to seeing the ring in person and hearing about details and plans.

I’ll probably be scarce for a while. How are things coming along at your house?

Without the Guests…

…the preparations are in vain. It’s because of the long-awaited guests that the preparations were completed. This time of year as we remember our long awaited Savior who came to earth on that first Christmas, the preparations for my guests had more significance.  Most of my guest photos were taken by Anneliese and Lovella. Thank you for sharing girls!

Lovella brought this very cute flower arrangement as a hostess gift and I found the perfect spot for it next to my sign that Katie wrote on. It was time for the party to begin and for everyone to eat, drink and be merry!

Kathy and Lovella prepared an Antipasti Platter for us all to enjoy before we sat down to dinner.

Our daughter Katie came to help with the serving.

It was time to find our places at the table.

When everyone found their spot we sang Praise God from Whom all Blessings Flow. This has become a tradition for our gatherings.

Katie made sure the soup was hot before she served each person their cup.

Between the courses we sang Christmas Carols. O Tannenbaum and Silent Night were the two chosen and sung in English and German. I wasn’t surprised by the choices my “German” guests made.

It was time to get the dessert plates ready.

After dessert we had fun popping our Christmas poppers and wearing our crowns.

Before the girls retreated to another room to open the little gifts purchased for each other, Judy handed the guys their gift for the evening.

They each got their very own apron…

I’ll add the shout out to the young man who makes these to sell once I get the information from Judy. Since we let him use our logo he gifted us with the aprons for our “boys”.

By this time my eyes were drooping but my heart was full. I’ll leave you with a few closeups and cameos…

I got a kick out of this wine bag that Bev and her guy brought us a bottle of wine in.

What a wonderful world God opened up to us “Girls” over these past several years. I’m so thankful that God brought us together and has deepened our “love for one another”.

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Philippians 2: 1-4)

More Xmas 006Praying you are feeling the Joy this Christmas!

The Preparations…

On Sunday December 14th our long awaited Christmas Party with the British Columbia Mennonite Girls and their husbands began at three in the afternoon. My preparations had been going on for a while.

2014-12-11 More XmasJoy was the theme and red and gold were the color choices I picked. I had red glassware but only had a total of 10 pieces so I was on the hunt for 6 more goblets or glasses to fill the 16 place settings we would need for our party. When we traveled to our son’s home in eastern Washington in early November we shopped at some thrift stores and found a set of 8 red goblets for a real good price. Yippee!

We do not have an open concept home by any means and to be able to fit 16 around tables we had to get creative. We decided to empty out some of the furniture from our living room so we could fit two round tables that would each be set with eight place settings.

Where there’s a will there’s a way. I saw a package of red and gold Christmas Crackers at Costco and knew they’d be a fun addition to the table. The red and gold sparkly chargers came from HomeGoods. I already had a stash of cloth napkins in red and gold tones and napkin rings that worked nicely with the color theme. I found flat Christmas wreaths and red candle holders for my center pieces.

Here’s a photo the day of our gathering with all the last minute touches added to the table. This photo was taken by Lovella. The next couple of  photos were taken by Anneliese.

Our front porch was transformed with a fake little Christmas tree that we had in our condo when we lived in Southern California for a few years. The vintage red step stool was a fun piece to put some of my lanterns on. The cedar branches and all the greenery with red berries, rosemary, and holly came from my yard. I had the large glass jars that I filled with the greenery and added a candle in to warm up the entry to our home.

I’m enjoying our new 3D star that we purchased this year that adds it’s light to welcome you to our front door.

My next post will show the people that made all these preparations worthwhile. Here’s the sneak peek of the girls and the guys.

More to come soon with some great photos from Anneliese and Lovella who clicked away while Dear and I worked on getting the food ready for everyone.

Since I finally set a table and took some photos I’m going to link this post to Cuisine Kathleen’s Let’s Dish for this week. If you’d like to see my guests seated at these tables click here.

Night at the Museum

P1050770On Wednesday night we drove downtown in the rain and wind to Dear’s company Christmas Party which of course they call a Holiday Event. For the next couple months Dear’s company is Dendreon Corporation. They are currently in Chapter 11 proceedings and the company will be auctioned off to the highest bidder on February 4th. In the meantime there are speculations flying around as to what large company might be interested in purchasing Dendreon. Dendreon has a treatment for Prostate Cancer. A very simple explanation about the treatment is that the patient’s own cells are treated to be able to fight the cancer.

10502129_10205489741431214_8961686982131276351_nWe were treated well with good food and drink. There were two signature drinks. Orange for Dendreon and Blue for Provenge, the name of the cancer treatment.

P1050757The party was at the MOHAI in Seattle, Museum of History and Industry. It was a great setting for a private event. Some of my favorite displays at the museum were the following.

P1050759“It is fitting that the Toe Truck will be included in the museum’s eclectic collection of local memorabilia. Built nearly 25 years ago, the Toe Truck became a local landmark for millions of motorists during the more than two decades it was displayed outside the Lincoln Towing yard at Fairview Avenue North and Mercer Street.”

P1050766The Rainier Beer R was a landmark for years just off the Interstate in Seattle. The original 12-foot-high Rainier sign graced the top of the Rainier Brewery from the 1950s until 2000, and now rests restored at MOHAI.

P1050772I was happy to see items from my favorite team amongst the museum sport team memorabilia.

P1050774When we left and were waiting for our car I snapped some photos of the Space Needle. By this time the rain had stopped. We were very happy the company provided free valet parking for the event, too.

More Xmas 006We are choosing joy as we continue to make preparations for the most wonderful time of the year and for all the unknowns of next year!

Fortnum & Mason

I enjoy walking through this department store in London. It’s been on Piccadilly since 1707! The Queen and Duchesses made a special visit here.

2013-09-22 London Sunday4On 1 March 2012, with enormous joy and excitement, the refurbished St James’s restaurant was opened by HM the Queen accompanied by Their Royal Highnesses the Duchess of Cornwall and the Duchess of Cambridge, and renamed The Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon.

London Sunday 067

There are 6 floors of merchandise in the store.

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2013-09-22 London Sunday6

I suffer a lot from sticker shock in London so needless to say I wasn’t filling any shopping baskets!

London Sunday 071

London Sunday 072

London Sunday 064Before I got my hand slapped by a sales lady in the hat section of the store, I managed to get a photo of Laura in one of the hats! The sales lady said no photos but we could try on any hat we wished to…

2013-09-22 London Sunday7When we were done at Fortnum and Mason we walked over to Selfridge & Co. to meet Josh who had gone to an Arsenal Soccer game at Emirates Stadium. It was interesting to see the store after watching some of Mr. Selfridge but…this store was not my cup of tea. And to quote my dear daughter in law…”oh the humanity!”

London Sunday 085

We walked through one other shop that the younger duchess is said to enjoy and then headed to the underground dragging our tired feet. We picked up a take away pizza for dinner and enjoyed eating with our feet up in our flat. The next day we would spend our last few hours in London and we had a special destination for breakfast that will be my last post about our trip to England. Here are some views on our way back to the underground…

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I’m happy to report that our Christmas tree is decorated to the point that it is going to be decorated. Translation: I didn’t put all the ornaments on the tree cuz I just wasn’t up to it and it is what it is…

Thursday night is our Small Group Christmas dinner and White Elephant Exchange here at this old house so I’ll be busy doing a little clean up before our company arrives.

How are things progressing at your house?

Over the River…

…and across the line, to a Mennonite Girls Can Cook Christmas party we go!

We crossed the U.S./Canadian border at Sumas and the border agents didn’t confiscate my Smirntopf or my Antispasto platter so all was good. We arrived to Judy and Elmer’s home all decked out beautifully for Christmas.

Not all the girls could be there that night. Our eastern Canadian girls, Betty and Charlotte, got together in Manitoba for their own party this night.

We took care of some serious business first before we set out all the dishes of food. Judy put together a fun getting to know you game where we had to connect each of the guests to an obscure fact or experience that guest had in their life. It was not easy but before too very long Kathy was the first to  figure it all out. Having a sea lion visit visit him in his backyard, falling into a manure pit, kayaking the Cayes and jungles of Belize, assisting drunken hitchhikers, were just a few of the interesting experiences. We were sworn to secrecy for one of the experiences we heard about! Next was the White Elephant exchange where we behaved quite civilly except when it came to the basket of fresh eggs!

The guys headed upstairs to play the popular Canadian game called Crokinole while we girls warmed up and set out the dishes we brought to share.

Oh My!…

I wonder if there will be enough food!? We were chuckling about the fact that food abundance is never an issue when you invite the girls to bring a dish!

Judy created that cute Christmas tree cheese platter. I’m sure a duplicate will appear somewhere at another blogdom Christmas party!

So…do you think we’ll have enough? Don’t forget we still haven’t put out the desserts!!

We let our husbands go first and they enjoyed what they saw and dug in heartily.

The “Girls” got to sit around the table set perfectly for the 8 of us.

After our fill of the savories it was on to dessert, oh my!

Judy made this beautiful punch for us to enjoy and Lovella made some homemade Egg Nog.

Her recipe was on the MGCC blog yesterday if you’d like to try making your own nog!

We ended our time around the table exchanging gifts to one another. Such generous and sweet reminders of our love and friendship.

Another wonderful Celebration to tuck away in our hearts. Thank you Judy and Elmer for a beautiful evening and thank you girls for all your love and prayers and friendship and celebrations!!