Sunday, December 31, 2023

The Last Day of the Year 2023


Yesterday I entered important dates in a new 2024 calendar, ready to be hung in the kitchen on January 1st.  

Early this morning I chose the book I'll use for my daily quiet time in 2024, God willing. I rotate between a few, this past year being one of C.S. Lewis's writings. All of December I've been using an Advent devotional of C. K. Chesterton's writings and will continue it through Twelfth Night. Some days the entries in this Advent book haven't seemed very relevant to me but others remind me of why I love Chesterton's pithy wisdom.

This year I'm putting this one on my desk, my beloved Richardson Wright's little A Book of Days for Christians, one I used in 2020. 

Wright, a cradle Episcopalian, editor in chief of House & Garden for umpteenth decades in the 1900s and author of a stack of my favorite books, keeps it short, a paragraph or two, leaving time for scripture reading.

After I hit publish on this post I've managed to squeeze in before 2023 ends, I will go to the kitchen and begin cooking the pastry cream for a dream recipe I've wanted to make for ages, Boston Cream Pie. 

Then I'll make and bake the two cake layers and next comes the chocolate glaze and into the fridge to chill for three hours, which may mean we'll be eating this pie/cake when the ball drops in NYC, as slow as I am.

My main dish for the evening will be easy, the salmon recipe I use half the time I cook salmon.

Starting with a beautiful side of wild caught Alaskan salmon...

and a scrumptious lemon/garlic/butter sauce...

I end up with my easiest favorite salmon recipe...

But tonight I'm going back to the first fantastic salmon recipe I tried decades ago from a Mediterranean cookbook for Braised Salmon with Caramelized Onions. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Yesterday I spent hours (I told you I'm slow) making a big bowl of potato salad loaded with celery, onions, olives, and eggs dressed mainly with apple cider vinegar/olive oil that soaks in the fridge with only a little mayo added in the end.

To me, salmon and potato salad with a little champagne is THE perfect meal and ending that meal with a sliver of Boston Cream Pie is a perfect end to New Year's Eve. 

So time to snap to it. If you happen to read this, please feel free to only say "Happy New Year," or nothing at all because with all honesty I have to say it may be Tuesday and Wednesday January 2nd and 3rd before I give myself the gift of two days off to catch up on my blog world buddies. 

Because there is that Boston Cream Pie to make today and a pork loin, collard greens, and black-eyed peas to cook on New Year's Day. 

This was my view from the kitchen window this morning before I sat down to write this post...

I do so love pink clouds!

A very happy and healthy and safe New Year's to all of you,



"There now, we have reached the end of our year's eating and drinking. For 1,095 times we have sat down to refuel our bodies and cheer our spirits. Fats cannot harm us. We are ready for whatever the next year brings. Allons!" 

      Richardson Wright

Friday, December 8, 2023

I Love the Music of Christmas!


Here I am, 15 years old, sitting on the floor in front of the new stereo Daddy bought for our family. I think this was earlier than Christmas as my sister Deb reminded me that the first albums bought for the new stereo were South Pacific and Flower Drum song as Daddy and Mama had seen the Broadway shows in Chicago recently. 

But as my sisters and I were discussing on FaceBook, come December after the new stereo came to our home, our parents took us, as always, to downtown Nashville after dinner out to view all the store windows, especially to the beautiful Christmas ones at Cain-Sloans Department Store.

We went to the record department where you were allowed to play the albums in sound booths before purchasing them. And there we each got to choose a Christmas album. 

Friends, this was a really big deal! Our parents were not extravagant but music was important to them and so they bought a piano when I was about ten years old and began piano lessons for us, beginning with me, the eldest. 

By the way, that piano, a Gulbransen spinet, that came back to me after my little sisters grew up, was with us at our previous home, Valley View....

And now belongs to our granddaughters! 

I must also include a picture of another tradition in Nashville as my sisters and I were growing up. Our parents always took us to the large Nativity Scene that was sculpted by Italian sculptor Guido Rebechini and displayed in front of Nashville's Parthenon, the world's only life sized replica of the Parthenon, built in 1897 as Nashville was called The Athens of the South. Inside the Parthenon is a 42 foot gilded sculpture of Athena. As you can imagine, Nashville's Athena has sometimes caused controversy in this city of a church every block or so. 

But outside, from 1953 to 1967 was this glorious Nativity Scene that enthralled us as children when we joined the quiet crowds that went to experience its solemn beauty telling of the night of Christ's birth, Christmas carols playing softly on loudspeakers.

I begin listening to Christmas music the first day of November and don't pack my albums away until February. I'm old school and like to handle my albums. I tried music via Pandora a decade ago when my kids set me up with it but after a few weeks went back to my CD albums, wishing that we had never gotten rid of our stereo and LPs a long time ago.

I love it that two of our kids have now gone back to collecting and playing LPs. How about you? How do you get your music now? Those of you who celebrate Christmas, when do you start listenting to it?

Thursday, December 7, 2023

I Love the Lights of Christmas!


Ever since my Uncle Jack and Aunt Etta drove me and my little sisters around at night when we were very small to look at neighborhoods that had the prettiest Christmas lights, that has been a favorite Christmas activity. 

But now that RH's night vision is not the best, I am so thankful that one neighbor across the street from us, high on a hill, has had a beautiful display every December for me to enjoy the last two years since their house was completed. I simply step out on either porches and let my phone capture pictures. 

When I took pictures of it last December I didn't realize someone was photo bombing them. 

Look who was in our yard!

 Herds of deer visit our yard all the time but it is only the males who seem to come at night. Our other nighttime visitors are possums, raccoons, a fox family, and one beautiful skunk with a white topknot. There's also a groundhog who lives in the old barn and comes out in the mornings. 

And that's about it for this December post, dear friends, but at least I've made a start. For two months now I've waited for Mohs surgery on my forehead where squamous cells were found and the surgery was Tuesday. All the bad cells were removed in the first cut and they didn't have to go deeper, very welcome news for me as I had been told it was likely advanced. 

I've spent the last two months, after our experience with RH's heart conversion was safely past, getting ready for the surgery and the downtime after. My house was completely decorated for Christmas, meals were in the freezer, my fruitcake made, BreeBree and James Mason taken for their spa day. 

So now for 7-10 days RH will take care of the house while I obey the no lifting, no bending over orders. I go back in mid December to have a small bad spot taken off my knee but it should be a simple procedure. 

With some downtime ahead I hope to post here because I think it will keep my spirits high during a time when I'll be quite homebound. I'll try to faithfully visit blog friends, especially once I get rid of this headache. One eye is black today and I still feel like I want to yank my eyeballs out and wrinkling my forehead accidentally is excruciating but that should get better as soon as I can take the pressure dressing off and the stitches are gone. 

Meanwhile I am so very thankful for all the prayers. I am looking forward so much to enjoying every single day of the Christmas season, in a quiet way, with the promise of family coming in from out of town nearer Christmas.

May your own December be blessed and Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah to all who celebrate them! 

With love,


(I don't think I'm responsible for all the different sizes the print turned out to be here but who knows?)