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Monday, December 31, 2007

At Year's End

Instead of greeting the new year by partying, we're spending a quiet evening at home. My husband is a little under the weather, so is resting on the sofa with Numa at his side. I've been in an appropriately reflective mood as 2008 draws near.

We've been blessed with good health and good friends in 2007. I have so many, many things for which I am grateful. Just a few of them are:

1. My family - the most precious thing in the world.

Ellen, Bill, Matthew, Suzie, Numa and Darby. Christmas 2006.

2. That we're all relatively healthy.

3. That the kids are so happy together.

Matthew and Suzie

4. That they have jobs, a pay check and benefits.

5. That Suzie's brother Rob arrived safely home from Afghanistan.

A very tired Rob arrived home in August.

6. For the three new babies in our families - Addison, Gideon and Wesley. Every baby is a gift from God.

7. That I have three amazingly supportive sisters who love me.

Sue, Sharon, Patty and Me - 1967

8. For the great good fortune of finding members of our family who have been separated from us for decades. Our lives have been so enriched by meeting and getting to know so many relatives who are such a rich part of our heritage.

9. Peace Moravian Church, our minister The Rev. Dr. James Doss and our amazing church family.

10. That we are so blessed in the things which really matter.

My greatest hope for the New Year is P E A C E!

Love and blessings to all.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Foster Parents' Report

I wrote last summer about Numa, the black Lab we are keeping temporarily for our son and daughter-in-law. Numa is still with us, but we haven't become attached at all. Just because she and I have started to dress alike doesn't mean a thing. We can give her up anytime she needs to go home. Really..... we can.

Christmas with the Kids

Sweet Basils - a favorite new restaurant in Greensboro NC.

Bill and I drove to Greensboro Wednesday to celebrate a delayed Christmas with our son Matthew and his wife Suzie. Suzie's brother Rob, safely home from Afghanistan, joined us.

Our first night we all enjoyed a lovely dinner at a new restaurant the kids wanted to try. Located in a transformed old house, the just opened Sweet Basils serves all organic food in an innovative New Orleans/Charleston style. We thought it was divine!

A dark bread with peppered goat cheese in olive oil was served prior to the first course of baby spinach salad with pecans and raspberry vinaigrette. As an entree, Suzie, Bill and I chose crab cakes with black bean mashed potatoes and creamed greens. Matthew and Robbie enjoyed shrimp and grits with sherry - a southern classic. Happily full to the brim, we declined even a peek at the dessert menu!

After a good night's sleep we awoke to find Matthew and Suzie preparing a gourmet breakfast of pecan waffles with banana butter syrup, ham, scrambled eggs, OJ and Cafe Du Monde. Oh My! Truly delicious. And it gave them a chance to try Matthew's new Cuisinart waffle iron!

We lounged and visited while the kids played on an ancient NES (Nintendo) Suzie's brothers had bestowed upon her. Suzie and I took a break to indulge our favorite passion, thrift store shopping. We were thrilled and yet disappointed (who knows what treasures we missed early in the day?) to find Carolina Thrift was having a 50% off sale. Suz scored a classic turntable for Matthew, who has a growing collection of vintage vinyl

For dinner (yes, we were eating again), we were treated to a very healthy dinner of baby spinach salad with pecorino cheese and pecans, couscous with tiny sweet peppers, whole steamed green beans and grilled salmon. Yummylicious!!!

Our lovely spinach salad.

Matthew serving up a plate.

A beautiful presentation.

Rob, Suzie and Matthew relax after a scrumptious dinner.
Black Lab Numa snuggles close to Rob.

We had a marvelous two days with the kids. Being around them is such a joy. As always, it was difficult to leave. I delay saying goodbye by watching those I'm leaving until they are out of sight and then holding the vision in my heart all the way home.

A Moravian Christmas

The many pointed Moravian Star is reflected in the window.

My husband's mother's family has been Moravian for hundreds of years. When we met, I had no concept of who and what the Moravians were, as there is just one Moravian church in my home state of Illinois. But I have come to love and embrace the beliefs of the oldest protestant faith: In essentials unity, in non-essentials charity, in all things love.

We spent Christmas Eve serving two of the three Lovefeasts at our church, Peace Moravian. There was no better place to be.

Dieners (the German word for one who serves) observe the service.

A Moravian Lovefeast is a shared meal, signifying union and equality, of a sweet bun and cocoa or coffee. The service concludes with worshipers being given a lovefeast candle - a beeswax taper wrapped in fluted red crepe paper. One by one the candles are lit as the church lights dim. As Joy to the World is sung, candles are raised high. It is a beautiful and moving sight.

Seen through an outside window, costumed Dieners stand ready to serve the Lovefeast buns.

The Moravian Lovefeasts are a popular Christmas Eve tradition in Charlotte.

A young boy, holding a Lovefeast candle, seems struck by the beauty of the service.

All photos: Bill Guerrant

A Tree at the Corner

The wonderful farmers' market at the bottom of our street becomes a Christmas tree lot in December. It is so great to have a source for fresh North Carolina frazier fir trees so near. My favorite image is the lighted Happy Holidays display. If you click on the photo and look closely, you can see the pointed top of the Bank of America building under the second P in happy. We are fortunate to live just 3 minutes from uptown.

Photo credit: Bill Guerrant

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Christmas at Our House

After 35 years in the same house, we've finally decided we like our Christmas tree best in the entryway. There is ample space for a tall, chubby tree with lots of room for many of our vintage ornaments including treasured German ones from my husband's grandmother's home in Old Salem. This year we added lots of American flags in honor of our daughter-in-law's baby brother who was serving with the 10th Mountain Division in Afghanistan.

Our little goose feather tree is authentic. I literally found it while hitting yard sales years ago. The young man who was cleaning out his grandmother's house had discarded it along with other old things he'd placed on the curb. He obviously thought only the newer things had value.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Big Bird on Steroids

This incredible Amish rug has served as a welcome mat for our home for 15 years.

I love the plethora of colors!

I found this amazing rug when my sister Patty and I traveled to the Pennsylvania Amish country several years ago. I fell in love with it instantly while my sister was incredulous, asking "Wait - you're actually BUYING that?!?"

Its presence on our front portico never fails to bring comments from visitors. Everyone wants to know where I found it. Most are surprised that it is Amish. My husband dubbed it "Big Bird on Steroids."

This detail shot gives a glimpse of how the rug was made. Dozens of band-aid shapes were cut from polyester double knit, overlapped and stitched in rows to a backing.

Photo credit: Bill Guerrant

Monday, December 3, 2007

Baking for a Good Cause

Our church, Peace Moravian, held its annual bazaar Saturday. Top selling items are always the hand-made Moravian chicken pies - dozens of which sold out early - and the famous Moravian cookies and sugar cake. I wanted to contribute something to the cause, so baked nearly ten dozen chocolate chip cookies. It was such a great feeling to deliver most of them to the bazaar.

A double batch of cookie dough mixed and ready to go.

Oh my - that's a lot of cookies!

Six plates of chocolate chip cookies packaged for delivery.