Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Panama City Beach

Our Thanksgiving getaway.
Ocean Towers II
Panama City Beach, FL

Oh, Christmas Tree!
Oh, Christmas Tree!
How lovely are thy branches!

The view from our bed room.

The view from our Living Room.

A camel by the beach!

Monday, December 29, 2008

MSC Orchestra

7 Nights 24 Jan 2009 - 31 Jan 2009
Florida, Key West, Mexico, Grand Cayman, Cayo Levantado - 2009

Travel on board of the MSC Orchestra. Departing from Fort Lauderdale,Florida and calls to Key West,Florida, Cozumel,Mexico, Georgetown,Grand Cayman, Cayo Levantado (SamanĂ  - D.R.), Fort Lauderdale,Florida .

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas 2008

This is our beloved Poppett on
Christmas morning!
She was 9 1/2 years old this month.
She doesn't really like Christmas
except for her gifts from Santa.

Our gift list was smaller this year,
but we did get a wonderful
Caribbean Cruise
that leaves in 3 weeks.

We'll be using an Italian line this trip
called MSC.
It's fairly new to our shores,
but is said to be very good.
Our only objection is that the ship is so big!
3000 guests and about that many crew.
We prefer much smaller ships
with the number of guest being less than 500.
There are almost none available now.
All the cruise lines are building ever bigger ships,
so we will soon go back to doing
all land travel on our own.
We just grab a tour book
and a map
and take off into part unknown.
How lovely!

We have spent most of this past week with family.
We have 2 more dinners this weekend,
a New Year's Eve party,
and 2 birthday parties next week.
Ray was off all this week and will be off next week, as well,
but it seems that we have very little
time to spend together.

I hope that all of your Christmases were lovely
I wish you a very happy and prosperous new year!

Ruth Ann

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

99 Things

I found this little game on Lori Anderson's blog. Since I'm putting off wrapping Christmas gifts, I thought I'd play along.

Things you've already done: bold
Things you want to do: italicize
Things you haven't done and don't want to - leave in plain font

1. Started your own blog.

2. Slept under the stars. Many times. In our younger days, we couldn't afford hotel bills, but still wanted to see wonderful places, so we camped. But, my, oh, my, that trip to the bath house several times a night!

3. Played in a band - or musical. I played clarinet and oboe in elementary and high school, was in several plays, and sang with the Chattanooga Opera until I lost my singing voice due to a serious car accident.

4. Visited Hawaii. We have been to Hawaii several times. We can't get enough of its beauty. An incredible place that no one should miss.

5. Watched a meteor shower. Several times at home, occasionally at sea which was far more spectacular.

6. Given more than you can afford to charity.

7. Been to Disneyland. We've been to Disney World several times and love it!

8. Climbed a mountain. Climbed Mauna Kea in Hawaii. Did you know that they have snow on Mauna Kea? Amazing!

9. Held a praying mantis.

10. Sang a solo.

11. Bungee jumped.

12. Visited Paris. We've been to France several times, but there never seems to be time for Paris.

13. Watched a lightning storm at sea. Spectacular! We've also been at sea during a couple of hurricanes. Loved it!

14. Taught yourself an art from scratch. (nearly every art/craft I've learned from scratch)

15. Adopted a child.

16. Had food poisoning.

17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty. We've seen it several times, but never had time to climb.

18. Grown your own vegetables.

19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France.

20. Slept on an overnight train. A wonderful, calming experience.

21. Had a pillow fight.

22. Hitchhiked.

23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill.

24. Built a snow fort. Where can you find enough snow?

25. Held a lamb.

26. Gone skinny dipping.

27. Run a Marathon. No, and don't want to.

28. Ridden a Gondola in Venice. No, but we did take a water taxi several times to Murano and Burano. There's just never enough time in Venice.

29. Seen a total eclipse.

30. Watched a sunrise or sunset.

31. Hit a home run. Why in the world would a lady want to do a man's job?

32. Been on a cruise. Many, many times. We try to do at least 2 a year. Sometimes we manage to fit in 4.

33. Seen Niagara Falls in person. A beautiful sight. Then take the road that runs in front of the falls to the left and visit Niagara By The Sea. A charming town!

34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors.

35. Seen an Amish community.

36. Taught yourself a new language. I know how to ask 'how much does it cost' in several languages. Ray knows how to say 'no' in the same number.

37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied. We have plenty enough to enjoy life to the fullest, but I want to own houses all over the world and acquire tons of diamonds.

38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person.

39. Gone rock climbing.

40. Seen Michelangelo's David.

41. Sung karaoke.

42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt.

43. Bought a stranger a meal in a restaurant.

44. Visited Africa. Loved it! We spent most of our time in Morocco and Kenya. When in a balloon, we almost drifted into Tanzania. There were men with big guns to discourage our progress.

45. Walked on a beach by moonlight.

46. Been transported in an ambulance. Also by Life Force and a hearse. (Our little town only had one ambulance in those days and it was out fetching someone else.)

47. Had your portrait painted. I dream of having a huge portrait to hang over the fireplace in the ball room.

48. Gone deep sea fishing. What fun! I hate fish so we give our catch away, but I'd love to catch a trophy sail fish.

49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person. But we didn't get to go in. The tour books didn't mention that the chapel closes at 2:00 in the afternoon. We took time for lunch and missed the chapel on our last day in Rome. Next time!

50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling. Have also gone swimming with those huge sting rays in the Caymans.

52. Kissed in the rain.

53. Played in the mud.

54. Gone to a drive-in theater.

55. Been in a movie.

56. Visited the Great Wall of China. Rode a camel. It was the end of May and the trees were in full bloom, but we had lots of snow. The camel didn't like me......

57. Started a business. http://www.r2swanger.etsy.com http://www.beadkits.etsy.com
Bead Kits is just getting started. I hope to be in full swing by February 2009. Ray and I did craft shows for about 30 years, but had to give it up because of my health. Hope to get back to it this year.

58. Taken a martial arts class. The one that was the most fun was a Tai Chi class that took place in front of our hotel every morning in Beijing. They kept saying 'You show us Jane Fonda'. I didn't speak much Chinese and they spoke less English, but what fun we had!

59. Visited Russia. Russia and Greece are 2 of my dream trips!

60. Served at a soup kitchen.

61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies. No Girl Scouts around here.

62. Gone whale watching. We went on commercial cruises several times in Hawaii. Sometimes we thought the whales would turn us over - they saw the boats as little toys to play with. Next month, we are going to an island off the coast of the Dominican Republic for birthing season. I can't wait! The most fun whale adventure we had was in Northern Ireland. This old seaman (just like the old salts in the pictures) took us out in his little fishing boat. It had a tiny cabin and a big ship's wheel (again, just like the ones in the pictures). It was just the 2 of us and the captain. It was June and we almost froze, but what a wonderful experience!

63. Gotten flowers for no reason.

64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma

65. Gone sky diving.

66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp. We were at the ausfart for Nuremberg, but we decided we didn't want to spoil our trip with something so depressing.

67. Bounced a check. But, thank goodness, all of the bankers are our neighbors, so it was caught before it went back.

68. Flown in a helicopter. Also in a small plane over Haleakala while it was erupting.

69. Saved a favorite childhood toy.

70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial.

71. Eaten Caviar. Attended a dinner once that was catered for the Moscow Ballet Company. They had dozens of kinds of caviar and a different vodka with each one. After the third or fourth vodka, the caviar wasn't half bad. I do love escargot, though.

72. Pieced a quilt. I can also quilt 22 stitches per inch. I would never consider machine quilting. Sacrilege!

73. Stood in Times Square. Picadilly Circus is much more fun!

74. Toured the Everglades. Very slowly. The gears went out on our car and we could only travel in first gear. I thought every alligator was eyeballing me for his dinner!

75. Been fired from a job. Have never had to work. Thank goodness!

76. Seen the Changing of the Guard in London.

77. Broken a bone. Many!

78. Been on a speeding motorcycle. No, and I hope I never am!

79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person.

80. Published a book. Two, actually.

81. Visited the Vatican. Twice and saw the pope preach once. (Do they call it preaching when it's a pope?)

82. Bought a brand new car.

83. Walked in Jerusalem.

84. Had your picture in the newspaper.

85. Read the entire Bible.

86. Visited the White House.

87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating. We killed a fresh turkey one year for Thanksgiving. I read the directions in one of the Fox Fire books and Ray tried to kill the bird. Finally after a bunch of old farmers showed up, they managed to kill the bird, but we couldn't bring ourselves to eat him. Give me a Butterball!

88. Had chickenpox.

89. Saved someone’s life.

90. Sat on a jury.

91. Met someone famous. Patricia Routledge - the thrill of a lifetime. The guys from ShaNa Na. Al Gore - both junior and senior. Senior was friends with my daddy. Al just came along for the ride. He was about 15 and so cute! David Copperfield and Webster, the duck. (Webster has much more personality than his owner!)

92. Joined a book club.

93. Lost a loved one. Too many to count.

94. Had a baby. No! I really don't like children. But that is usually the fault of the parents, not the child. I have a great niece who was named after me. I love her dearly, but I prefer to visit with her at her mom's house. I can't imagine having dirty diapers in my home!

95. Seen the Alamo in person. It would look a whole lot better if there wasn't a Dillard's store slammed up next to it. I picture the Alamo as being out in the country, not smack in the middle of town. A great disappointment!

96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake.

97. Been involved in a law suit.

98. Owned a cell phone. I have one, but almost never turn it on. Why pay to make calls when you can do it for free?

99. Been stung by a bee.

So if you have a blog and want to do this list, leave a comment so I can take a look!

Happy Christmas Adam!

Christmas Adam is the day before Christmas Eve. Since Adam was created before Eve, and the need to be equitable in the holiday season, Christmas Adam creates further anticipation of Christmas Day.

Merry Christmas Adam to you all!
Ruth Ann

Friday, December 19, 2008

Merry Christmoose!

from Ruth Ann

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Beki's Beads

While making the rounds of my favorite blogs this morning,
I ran across these marvelous
Christmas tree ornaments

The wooden beads are from the Dollar Tree and they are
strung on big fluffy pipe cleaners.

She did this as a project for her children,
but I think that even us adults
could do it!

Beki's tree and decorations are
all in bright, primary colors
this year and are wonderful,
as always!

Do visit Beki's blog and
her Etsy store.
I'm the proud owner of
several of her items.
You will
love them, too!

Merry Christmas!
Ruth Ann

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Peanut Brittle Recipe

2 cups sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup water
2 cups raw Spanish peanuts
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. butter
2 tsp. baking soda

Heat and stir sugar, syrup and water in a heavy 3-quart saucepan until the sugar dissolves. Add salt. Cook over medium heat to soft ball stage (234 degrees). Add peanuts at 250 degrees. Cook to hard crack stage (290 degrees), stirring often. Remove from heat.

Quickly, stir in butter and soda. Beat to a froth for a few seconds. Pour at once onto 2 well-buttered 15-1/2x10-1/2x1-inch pans, spreading with spatula. If desired, cool slightly and pull with forks to stretch thin. Break up when cold.

Yield: About 1-1/2 pounds of peanut brittle.

I usually use the specified
Spanish peanuts
for this delectable recipe.
For special gifts,
I use mixed nut.
And if I'm feeling really extravagant,
I use cashews.

Experiment and enjoy!
But don't blame me for all those extra calories that you consume!

Ruth Ann

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

the voices
of the Earth's
choirs were raised
in praise... there was
a silent night. Before the
strings of lights were wound
around the world, and tinsel
strung... there was a single star.
Before the wide eyed wonder of a
child on Christmas morn... Before
the gifts... there was a child, born in
Bethlehem, who showed the world
the greatest
gift of all is

Warmest wishes to one and all for
the happiest of holidays and a
prosperous new year.

Ruth Ann

Christmas Dinner

W.C. Fields once said, “I cook with wine. Sometimes I even add it to the food.”

Muddle headiness and laziness has lead me to spend the morning
learning about wines to serve with
Christmas dinner.
Christmas dinner being the semi-private dinner that
Ray and I host for just a few close friends.
The dinner is rarely on Christmas Day.
(On Christmas Day, we tend to goof off,
playing with the new toys that Santa brought!)

Christmas Dinner includes a mix of friends.
Most don't drink, but don't object to a bottle of wine
being served.
Since we have a group of wonderful, religious friends,
our parties don't usually include alcohol,
so our private dinner is one we look forward to all year.

I will offer more notes and recipes for our
special Christmas Dinner
as time allows -
and when I find the camera!

Ruth Ann

Muddle Head

"My dear, if you could give me a cup of tea to clear my muddle of a head, I should better understand your affairs."

~ Charles Dickens ~

I had read this quote by Dickens before in

Mrs. Lirriper's Legacy

but was reminded of it this morning
while reading the blog from
La Tea Dah

It seems that it is my own head that is muddled this morning.
Too many hours with too many doctors
with too many tests yesterday.
The Albuterol that was required for one test has made me shaky.
Driving over the mountain twice and
walking from one office to another
has made me tired.

As for a muddled head,
most of you who know me
realize that I'm muddle headed
most of the time.

The camera with vacation pictures
is still missing.
Poor Ray is trying to do all of the laundry
and put everything up by himself.
How blessed I am to have that wonderful man!

I have made several custom jewelry orders this week
and had hoped to put up pictures,
but, alack and alas...................

The weather is a warm 53 degrees
and there are storm warnings out.

We plan to put up our Christmas tree tonight
without our cheerful fire.
Rain and strong winds are expected for the next several days.

I have more jewelry to make today,
which thrills me.
Maybe I'll do some embroidery, too.

But first, a cup of tea to, perhaps,
clear my own muddled head!

Ruth Ann

Monday, December 8, 2008

Herbed Batter Rolls

I'm sorry that I don't have a picture for this one, but it's on the menu for dinner tonight.
I'll let you know how it turns out!

Herbed Batter Rolls

1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1/2 teaspoon sage
1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg
2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
In a large mixing bowl dissolve yeast in warm water. Add the sage, tarragon, nutmeg, sugar, salt, egg, butter or margarine and 1 cup of the flour. Using a wire whisk, beat until smooth. Stir in remaining 1 1/4 cups flour with a wooden spoon and beat until smooth. Scrape batter from sides of the bowl, cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes or until doubled in volume.
Deflate batter by Stirring with a wooden spoon. Lightly grease one 8 cup muffin pan. Scoop batter into the prepared muffin pan. Fill each cup slightly more than 1/2 full; set aside in a warm place and let rise for about 15 to 20 minutes or until doubled. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
Bake in the preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden. Serve warm.

If the rolls live up to my expectations,
these will be on the menu for
Christmas Day!

Warmest Wishes!

Ruth Ann

Thanksgiving Day

Happy Thanksgiving!
A little late!!!!!

We spent Thanksgiving morning preparing our usual
'Sinful Mashed Potatoes'
to take to the family dinner.
For the last couple of years, dinner has been in the
'party room'
at the local funeral home,
because there are so many of us now.

I strongly dislike this new custom -
though, since there are
40 something of us,
it seems a necessity.

The meal is uncomfortably noisy
and we only have the opportunity
to speak to a few people.

Everyone grabs a paper plate,
piles it so high with food that the plate collapses,
eats, and leaves.

The leaving part suits us fine,
as we spend the evening visiting friends,
sampling desserts around town,
sipping eggnog,
and enjoying the comany
of dear friends.

We return home to
the first fire of the season -
even if we have to open the windows
to be cool enough -,
a bottle of champagne,
and special olives that I buy only once a year.

Then, the hassle is over until Christmas Eve
and the most special time of the holiday begins.
Ray is off work for two weeks,
returns to work for two weeks,
and is off another two weeks.

We spend our time decorating, shopping,
attending parties, and wrapping gifts by the fire.
Best of all, we are together for a full month
with few interuptions -
except for the dreaded dinner at
the funeral home on Christmas Eve.
There are very few changes in the menu
from Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve,
but it is a command performance
and we MUST attend.
Ah, well.....
I guess one must do things for family.
And I have a wonderful family,
it's just that they are very demanding.

The week following Thanksgiving was spent
on Panama City Beach in Florida.
Pictures will follow -
just as soon as I find the camera!

Wishing you all a blessed and happy
holiday season!

Ruth Ann