Category Archives: Gifts

It’s still Christmas, for Christ’s sake!

Christmas ain’t over. Any woman who just gave birth knows that. This is just the beginning.

I don’t get why you shut down, turned off and boxed up Christmas. I choose to keep Christmas just a little longer. It’s now time for the 12 days of Christmas.

If you go to a Catholic church, you know Christmas is really the beginning. It’s the Grand Opening of the holiday, not the grand finale. Christmas hymns, we are just getting started.

It took days, weeks, maybe even months, of wrapping, baking and planning. There were wishes to grant, ornaments to polish, and prayer lists to be prayed. Think of all those gifts to be made, ordered, mailed, hidden, wrapped, returned, eaten.

I’m still looking for that one perfect Christmas gift that I hid somewhere I would never forget and Jeff would never find it.

You don’t just box up the nativity set, blow out the candles, fold up the tree and walk away. The star of the show just arrived. It’s still Christmas, for Christ’s sake!

If you are one of those Keep Christ in Christmas folks, do that now. Charities are still accepting donations, folks are still homeless, hungry, cold, and someone you know is thinking about committing suicide tonight.

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Do you see what I see?

A Bright Christmas Story

He might not have seen this Christmas.

Jeff woke up concerned about his rapidly failing vision. He was seeing visions of white streaks and flurries of black rain.

This was the third day of these troublesome visions and he called the ophthalmologist. The entire Eye Center was out for the holidays until after the new year. But the receptionist could make an appointment for the following week. Would you like for me to make an appointment for January 6th for you?

Since he thought he was loosing his sight, waiting two weeks for an appointment, seemed too long. He went to Immediate Care because today the situation is very much worse. We can’t help you with that kind of thing, they said.

Neither of us said it out loud, but because we both have multiple sclerosis, we thought about the very real possibility of sudden blindness. Since he has sight in only one eye, we always worry about that. They could call the eye specialist who is on call… if you think we need to….

Yeah, why don’t you call, Jeff said. And we waited for a call. Finally, the “on call” doctor called back and said come in right now.

Jeff had one of the most thorough eye exams. Then, Doctor Tatyana I. Metelitsina came in, did some more exams, asked a number of questions and listened to Jeff’s every word. Retinal detachment is an emergency we learned.

By the time she had diagnosed the problem, the surgery room and equipment was ready and waiting. The doctor explained the problem. She told him what he was going to do, what to expect and asked if he had any questions.

Dr Metelitsina completed the laser surgery in a matter of minutes. It was her fourth surgery of the day. For four families, this Christmas really will be much more merry and bright.

Not every Christmas story ends wrapped up with a bow. But this one did.

After story:

The longer retinal detachment goes untreated, the greater your risk that you will go blind. The warning signs of retinal detachment include the sudden appearance of floaters and flashes and reduced vision. Contacting an eye specialist (ophthalmologist) right away can help save your sight.

Or, in other words, go with your gut. If you feel like you need medical care before the doctor’s office Christmas party, Get It. If your wife thinks you should quickly follow-up on a health care matter, do it before she tears of the head of the cute little receptionist who thinks you should wait two weeks.

May all your Christmases be bright.

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Happy New Year

Sunrise salute 2015

Sunrise over Saint Louis Photo PBH

Sunrise over Saint Louis
Photo PBH

January 2015 – Cape Girardeau, MO USA

How to celebrate the New Year.

Instead of trying to squeeze out every last moment of 2014, the celebration starts at sunrise January 1, 2015.

I’d rather be there at the beginning of the new year to greet the day and welcome the sun. Jeff and I will be in downtown Cape Girardeau by the Mississippi River. Bring a lawn chair and a thermos of steamy coffee, cappuccino, or hot chocolate. There are always a few folks who have braved the frozen morning to see the sun rise over the Mississippi.

If I weren’t bundled up like the Michelin Man, I might try the yoga version of the Sunrise Salutation. (Saving this idea for Maui.)

Just standing there, huddling in a blanket is OK. The sun rises precisely as predicted. In Cape Girardeau, sunrise is 7:12 a.m. It’s a pretty short day, only 9 hours and 38 minutes long, if you care to salute the day at the beginning and the end.

Get help to figure out sunrise at Sunrise and Sunset Calculator or Tomorrow’s Weather Forecast for Sunrise Or just Google it.

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Ice floating on the Mississippi. Photo PBH

It is a rare few that show up. The celebration is quiet. So quiet in fact, I can hear my husband’s teeth chattering.

No cheering or party horns here. Everyone is left alone to offer a welcome nod of the head or a silent prayer. Greeting the new year at sunrise is a peaceful event.

As a gardener, it just makes more sense to start the New Year on a sunny note. If I weren’t at the river, I think I might be outstanding in my field. Or, possibly in the healing herb garden.

It is also a good time to share your intentions for the year with the new sun. If you make resolutions, making the pact at the beginning of the day seems right. Tell that good old sun your resolutions. Or, even whisper them to that old Mississippi River.

Honestly, it’s over in a flash, I’m pretty sure no one has ever frozen to death in the few glorious moments of sunrise. There is a McDonald’s between our house and the river so the bribe of a breakfast sandwich and a cup of cocoa may be enough to get your partner out of bed. Or, in our case, the promise not to stop at McDonald’s is incentive enough.

That’s it. Jeff and I greet the New Year standing hand in hand at sunrise. Surely that’s Good Luck. Our year begins with gratitude. We pray for another blessed year.

The New Year’s launch party is complete. You can head home and put the black-eyed peas to soak. Or, go back to bed until the Rose Bowl Parade.

 

Print Rose Parade used to march right past the Hobson’s house in Pasadena, CA. All 11 Hobson kids got to see the parade from their own front yard years ago. In 2015, the parade begins at 8:00 a.m., PST. We watch it on TV and can almost spell the roses.

Access The 126th Rose Parade and the official ROSE PARADE PROGRAM or download the ROSE PARADE APP for mobile tablets in the Apples iTunes Store.

 

Black eyed peas for dinner

Our dinner is simple home cooked food and very nearly the same every year. Black eyed peas are the star of the table. Really, we’ll be having purple hulled peas from the local farmers market.

Ham is on the table, not chicken or turkey. We eat ham on New Years Day because a hog roots forward and a turkey or chicken scratches back. Learn why we eat this food every January 1st and why we feel lucky to have it. Just click below ↓.

Why black-eyed peas are good luck

These Black Eyes are purple hull peas grown locally

These Black Eyes are purple hull peas grown locally

cranberry relish

Thanksgiving day table was loaded with all the traditional fare. At each place setting was a mini vase filled tiny red roses. I never normally have roses for the table this late in the Fall. But this summer I brought home some miniature roses and tiny vases at each place setting.

cranberry relish

1 medium orange
12 oz. package fresh or frozen cranberries
1 cup good quality honey
½ cup water
2 apples, cored, not peeled and finely chopped

Zest the whole orange, then juice and remove the seeds. Bring all ingredients to a boil in a large covered sauce pan. Reduce heat and continue boiling for about 10 minutes. Cranberries will pop open. Remove from heat. Refrigerate. Mixture will thicken as it continues to cool. Serve cold.

Herb Vinegars

Make extra for gifts

Buy this at the store and it could cost you $20. Make it at home for pennies. Plus, your custom blend always tastes better.

Finally! It’s time to fill you salad bowl with home-grown greens. I love those little bitty butter lettuces, so tender and perfect. Place the whole head of butter lettuce in each salad bowl. Get a jump on spring with this selection of lettuces.

tarragon Begin adding layers of flavor in your herb vinegar by adding more herbs as they each become plentiful. Start with a good vinegar. If it doesn’t taste good now, it won’t get any better with the addition of herbs. Stock up on your own blends of herb vinegar.

Tarragon vinegar is a popular herb vinegar and so easy to make. Start with a white wine vinegar. Only two items are required: tarragon and vinegar. More instructions are here: Make Tarragon Vinegar

Tarragon is a low growing, disorderly bright green herb. It likes full sun, well-drained soil. Adding compost in the summer and leaf mulch in the winter is all the care, this little herb needs.

Once it is well established, you have a bonus in the garden traders plant exchange. You must have a starter plant, it does not grow from seed. Rarely does it bloom, but the seeds are sterile.

Fines herbes

Fines Herbes – parsley, tarragon, chervil, chives. A beautiful herb combination for a container garden near the kitchen door. photo by Patsy Bell Hobson.

Tarragon, (Artemisia dracunculus

You must have tarragon or you can’t make Béarnaise sauce, channel Julia Child, or cook like a French chef. Buy a starter plant. It’s lovely and fragrant. Say hi to Julia for me.

Becky’s Flowers*

Delivered Saturday, December 21, 2013

Common Name: Amaryllis Picotee, botanical name: Hippeastrum Picotee

Amaryllis picotee

Blooms are pure white with a slender red ribbon edge. Photo by Patsy Bell Hobson.

I’m sending Amaryllis to Becky. They are big, colorful and, not-to-be-ignored.The ones in my home are just thinking about blooming this December. The leaved are just peeking up about two inches tall. I am hoping for a Valentines day appearance. But these giant blooms are just for Becky.

The beautiful white bloom towers over other Amaryllis, growing to as much a 3″. Photo by Patsy Bell Hobson.

These big blooms top tall stalks, between 2 and 3 feet high.  Amaryllis can become top-heavy when the flowers begin to bloom, staking is helpful. Amaryllis are most successful when planted in heavy pots just a bit larger than the bulb.

The perfect spot for Amaryllis indoors is in bright light. Our zones 5 and 6  are too cold for growing Amaryllis as perennials. If this flower is meant to be an annual, simply keep the roots moist until finished flowering. Your Amaryllis does not need plant food.

Blooms are pure white with a slender red ribbon edge. Bloom season: flowers in 40-60 days indoors and mid spring outdoors. Becky I’m sending the giant flower in a light plastic container. It will grow in this container, or you can “double pot”, setting the container inside a heavier, more decorative  planter.

*Becky Funke is in a hospital that does not allow flowers in the rooms. So, not to be deterred, I’ll send them on Pinterest. You can stop by her CaringBridge site to leave well wishes and get updates. The girls, her 3 beautiful daughters, keep the site up to date.

Peaches and champagne preserves

English muffin peach preserves

Keep a supply of muffins in the freezer double wrapped in plastic. photo by PBH

Preserved peaches and champagne

Peach preserves with a hint of champagne make a chunky spread on toasty English muffins.

peaches are shipped across the country from this region. Photo by Patsy Bell Hobson

Peaches with champagne in a jam

4 cups peaches, peeled, pitted, and chopped
1 1/2 cups sugar*
3 T. Ball flex batch powdered pectin
2 T. bottled lemon juice
1 cup LBV Brut

Prepare 4 half pint jars. I put them in the dishwasher. Lids and rings can simmer in water on the stove top in a sauce pan.

Add chopped peaches to stainless steel or enamel cast iron pot. Cook on low stirring occasionally for about 20 minutes. Using a potato masher crush some of the peaches to desired consistency. Use an immersion blender to create a smoother consistency.  I like my preserves a little chunky with fruit bits.

Add the sugar and lemon juice. Bring the temperature to medium, stirring constantly to bring the mixture slowly to a boil. Note: The jam with splatter like a erupting volcano so, where an apron.

Once at a boil add champagne and stir for about one minute then add the pectin. Bring mixture back to a boil which will happen quickly and keep at a boil for one minute continuing to stir. Remove from heat.

Immediately ladle peach jam into jars leaving 1/4″ head space. Wipe rims and add hot lids/rings and process in water bath for 10 minutes at a full rolling boil.

LVB Brut –  Missouri made bubbly. Using primarily Vidal grapes gives the methode traditionale sparkling wine a refreshing aroma with a crisp effervescence and dry finish.

LVB Brut is the champagne I used in the jam.

* If you make flavored sugars, like vanilla or lavender sugar, this is an ideal time to use.

My recipe is adapted from the Canning Homemade  Many of my canning projects begin with recipes and instructions from this site.

peach jam Wolfermans English Muffins

Wolferman’s English muffins with peaches and champagne preserves.  Photo by Patsy Bell Hobson

I love Wolferman’s English muffins. We became acquainted when we were both living in Kansas City.  I order them now and then See Wolferman’s online.

champagne and peach preserves

Peaches and champagne are the perfect summer combination in Bellini’s. In the winter, our peaches and champagne become sweet preserves and summer memories. Photo by Patsy Bell Hobson

 

 

Relive our summer memories

It’s Peach (Bellini) Season!

A fresh,  juicy taste of summer

Spiced peach cobbler

It doesn’t matter where the bouquet comes from

the neighbors hydrangea. My May day gift from the LBND,

The neighbor’s hydrangea. It was my May Day gift from the LBND.

So many neighbors unknowingly donate flowers to teachers. Walking to school creates all manner of good character and thoughtfulness. For example during the peak of bloom season, Mrs Adams recieved bouquests from me all the time.

It didn’t improve my grades, although I had high hopes. Mrs Adams was well prepared to receive fistfulls of roses. And she had a variety of coffee mugs in her desk drawer. Each mug could hold a number of roses at various heights.

Lilacs came and went to quickly, I barely got a sniff. But now, the roses are about to explode into bloom. For a little while, they will be lovely. Then the Japanese Beetles will move in.

I have a trap to try this year. A trap laced with beetle pheremones. You will get the report as so as I know if it is worth it.

BE PREPARED

When cutting Hydrangeas. Follow a few simple guides.

Spontaneous gift: When you are presented with a bouquet, from the LBND (the Little Boy Next Door) Recut the stem under running water and trim at a 45 degee angle. Remove all greenery that would be under water,

Cutting your own bouguet.

Take sharp scissors or pruners out to the garden when you plan to cut Hydrangeas. Also bring a bucket of cool water to plunge your flowers in as soon as they have been cut. Cut stems at a 45 degree angle.

Remove any greenery that will be underwater. Change to water every few days. Your Hydrangeas will last up to 2 weeks.

And remember Never waste a day of May.

 

 

Gardeners solution to dry hands

Working in garden soil sucks the moisture out of my hands. Frequent hand washing only dries my hands even more. I tried Udder Ointment to soothe the dryness. I like Dr. Hess Udder Ointment in the 4 ounce tube. I keep a tube in my garden tool box.

Owner Polly Tribe also sent a sample of the Udder Stick, a Lip Balm with SPF 15. I was happy indeed to discover the flavored lip balm in Original Vanilla, Mango, Pomegranate and Vanilla Mint. I think it lasts longer than the usual over the counter brand of lip balm I used to buy. The Udder Stick is my new everyday spf 15 lip balm.

The Great Grand Daughter, Polly Tribe now owns Dr Hess Products. Read the story of udder ointment on their website. Originally developed in 1893 for treating chapped teats and udders of dairy cattle, farmers were soon remarking as to the healing effect it had on their own hands.

I use Udder Ointment on my hands and feet at night before bed. Magic happens overnight.

Go to the website to learn where you get your hands on Dr Hess Products.

Dr. Hess Products, LLC, 23 N Scenic Hills Circle, North Salt Lake, UT 84054, Fax – 801.295.7313

Dairy farmers discovered this ointment helped their dry hands.

La Chamba Cookware

Handmade the same way for 700 years.

La Chamba cookware is handmade in Columbia from clay that contains mica which allows it to withstand heat. It can be used in the oven, microwave and on the stove top. I didn’t believe that, so I tried it myself.

ham and beans with fresh cilantro added before serving

I like this cookware because it’s pretty enough to go from the stove to the able as servingware. That keeps food hot and moist longer.

 

There are no toxins in the La Chamba because no glazes are used (the pieces are hand-burnished) and there is no lead in the clay. Care is easy: a quick soak and wipe down with a sponge is all that is needed.

New to me, La Chamba‘s origins can be traced back at least 700 years to the vases and pitchers found in pre-Columbian archaeological sites. It is still made in the traditional manner, by families in the village of La Chamba, on the banks of the Magdalena River in Central Colombia.

It’s not cheap, but it is beautiful and handmade. So, I plan to add a piece now and then to my collection.

La Chamba email info@mytoque.com

vegetable soup in La Chamba

Winter food at my house is a lot of slow cooked soups and stews. It’s rare that I serve a meal with out herbs.

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