Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Christmas Morning + Recipes for a Harvest Braid & Cherry and Brie Braid

Instead of doing our usual routine on Christmas morning, we packed everything up and had it all at Grandpa Don's house since Larr and Ethan were there. I wanted to preserve as much of Christmas as possible since I was not sure where we would all be next year and at that point I did not know how much longer Don would need such intensive care. I also know that Don would have wanted us to have our Christmas.

Kohlton spent Christmas with us since his mother was in Alaska with her brother. He has also been providing comfort for both Ellie and Ethan during our difficult journey with Don. It just made sense to include him in our holiday.

Normally, the kid's come down stairs to fine the stockings that Santa had filled while I begin breakfast. This time, I made the special breakfast at Grandpa Don's house. I set the table with my Christmas dishes and special candles. We had a harvest breakfast braid, a cherry and brie braid, scrambled eggs, sausage and orange juice.

Then we did stockings. They were a hit.

Even Remmie and the cats got stockings. Remmie had a bit of fun getting his bone out of the stocking.

Santa had personalized the stocking stuffers, of course. But, some of the stuff was also the same.

We also opened our gifts. The gifts I made for my family were not done, but everyone understood. (I will write more about them later.)

For Ethan I made a tiny, waterproof cook book and a drawing of some of the gear that Ethan carries with him. He had mentioned that he would like something personal that did not include his face. I am pleased with how this turned out. I will add more detail to the pouch.

I did two scrathboard drawings for Ellie. She had asked for a drawing of Remmie. I don't think she actually knew that I was doing some artwork for her. Her reaction was really wonderful and gratifying for me. It is the kind of response an artist always hopes for.

I also made her a drawing of feathers.

I knit a hat for Larr and Ellie gave him a special, weird bottle opener.

The family gave me a new, shiny and larger food processor. The one I have been using was a gift from Don and Eleanor about 20 years ago. I use it several times a week. It exciting to have a new one.

That joy was short, but lovely. We soon went back to being by Don's bedside. I am thankful that Doug and other family members were in the living room with Grandpa Don. This allowed us a short bit of time together as a family to celebrate Christmas.

That afternoon Ellie and Kohlton went up to his grandmother's house for Christmas lunch and gifts. They spent the evening and part of the next day up in Nederland at Mark's and Martine's house celebrating Christmas, supporting Ellie through the death of her grandfather and some cookie decorating that took place the next morning. Ellie struggled with whether she should go up to Nederland, or stay at Grandpa's house. She did not want Grandpa to think that she did not love him and she feared that he would die alone. We assured her that he knew how much she loves him and that he would be surrounded with love even after his end. His last words were a Christmas greeting to her. There is no doubt that he knew how much he was loved.

Harvest Breakfast Braid
modified from the one found on

1 Sheet of Puff Pastry ( or 1 can Pillsbury™ refrigerated Classic Pizza Crust)
2/3 cup orange marmalade
1 small Granny Smith apple, cored, sliced 1/8-inch thick
6 slices Havarti cheese, cut in 1/4-inch slices
1 lb sausage, cooked and crumbled
1/3 cup chopped pecans
1/3 cup sweetened dried cranberries

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line 15×10-inch baking pan with parchment paper.

2. Unroll dough in pan. Spread 1/3 cup of marmalade down center of dough. Top with apple slices, half of the cheese, the sausage, the remaining cheese, half the pecans, and half the cranberries.

3. Make cuts 1 inch apart on long sides of dough to within 1/2 inch of filling. Fold strips of dough diagonally over filling, alternating from side to side, stretching dough as needed. Bake 15 minutes.

4. Spread the remaining 1/2 cup marmalade over the top and sides of the partially baked braid. Bake an additional 10 to 15 minutes longer until golden brown. Serve warm.

Cherry and Brie Braid

1 sheet of Puff Pastry
Brie, with the rind removed and cut into thinish slices
Spiced Cherry Jam (the recipe can be found in a previous post)
(Chopped Pecans - I forgot these, but they would have been nice to include in the recipe.)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line 15×10-inch baking pan with parchment paper.

2. Unroll dough in pan. Spread 1/3 cup of cherry jam down center of dough. Top with cheese slices. Spread 1/3 cup of cherry jam on top of the cheese. Add the chopped pecans, if using.

3. Make cuts 1 inch apart on long sides of dough to within 1/2 inch of filling. Fold strips of dough diagonally over filling, alternating from side to side, stretching dough as needed. Bake 15 minutes, or until golden brown.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Grandpa Don's Last Day

Grandpa Don died on Christmas at 8:19 p.m. The end was all that we could have wished for, considering that he died. Don got to die at home, contented, surrounded by people who love him, in peace and with little, if any, pain.

The day started like so many of the other recent days, though the evening before had been a rough one with little sleep. Still, as much as Don had moods at that point, he was in a good one. Our family was at the house, as was Doug (Larr's middle brother). Don's brother, Glen and his wife Mary, would soon arrive along with Mark and Lilia. When Ellie sat down next to Grandpa Don she held his hand and wished him a Merry Christmas. He mouthed, "Merry Christmas" back to her and did the little eye wink that they often exchanged. I am pretty sure that those are the last intelligible words that he uttered. Through out the day Don was less and less conscious. By mid afternoon it looked like he could be in this state for many days, so we sent Ellie off with Kohlton to do Christmas at Kohlton's house in Nederland.

As the evening progressed, Don's breathing became less consistent. He would stop breathing for many seconds at a time. With each one we wondered if that was the last. Then he would start up again. Slowly his body began to cool. His fingertips turned blue. His lips took on a grey tinge and his color left his skin. He was peaceful, but his breathing was labored. Through out the last many days he seemed to like to have both of his hands held, so that is what we did. We made sure that two people were holding his hands at all times. Remmie would come in to check on him from time to time, looking at him from a respectful distance. Somehow Remmie seemed to understand that Grandpa Don's feet had become very sensitive and even the slightest brush caused extreme pain.

Towards the end Larr and Ethan took turns placing their hands on Don's neck and head in an attempt to make sure that Don felt warmth and comfort. We all told him that it was okay to go and that things were under control (one of Don's favorite things to say). Ethan kept a hand on a place on Don's arm where he could monitor his pulse. Once he died, we waited ten minutes to check for a heart beat. It was very hard to reconcile the fact that Don was really gone. I think we all sat there feeling grief, sadness, disbelief and relief. It did not seem possible that Don's end had actually come. We took turned saying good-bye and looking at him, trying to burn that image into our brains, perhaps. Once his spirit left, his body seemed so frail and small, not at all the man he had been.

Eventually we called the hospice people, expecting that they would rush over quickly. It actually took them a few hours to show up. In the mean time, we removed Grandpa's watch and lowered the bed. Grandpa Don had wanted to be sitting up and in charge until the very end. His mouth was agape, so Doug sat for a long time trying to get it to close. He was unsuccessful at getting it to cooperate.

We spent some of that evening calling family members and important friends to inform them of Don's passing.

The woman from hospice showed up at around 11:30 p.m. She offered her condolences, set up an appointment with the coroners and explained how to dispose the unused medications. (When a person enters the hospice program, the caregiver receives a package with a variety of pain management drugs that come in blue containers that are housed in a box.) She suggested that the medication could be mixed with kitty litter and then thrown away. She explained what would happen the next day and then departed.

Don's body stayed in the bed in the living room over night at the rest of us tried to deal with the reality of the situation and then pretended to sleep.

Two men from the coroner's office arrived promptly at 9 a.m. in a pair of matching white soccer mom type vans. The two men were dressed nicely in black suits with black overcoats. They were extremely respectful, offering us as much time as we needed before proceeding. They offered an explanation of what would happen and what we would need to do. One of us would have to witness them placing an identification band on Don's leg. They asked if we wanted his face covered, or uncovered. It was snowing outside and I could not bear the idea that snow would fall on his face without his being able to wipe it away, so we decided to cover his face. Then we would be excused as they placed his body on a gurney. We all waited outside as we did not want to hear any sounds that might escape due to air trapped in his body. The men were quick and efficient. I broke down once they drove away. Don's body would be placed in a refrigerated room for safe keeping.

Larr and Doug met with them on Monday to make arrangements. Don's body will be cremated and placed in a spot next to Eleanor's. It was a relief to know exactly what he wanted done. Since it was all pre-arranged and paid for, that part was pretty quick and easy.

The memorial will take place in February so that important people from outside of the US can attend the funeral.

Many friends have since brought us meals so that we can focus on processing Don's passing. That has been a gift.

The night before Don died, Larr and Doug set up a slide projector in the living room and watched some of the family slides.

It is hard to believe that he is gone. He was such an important person in our lives.

Friday, December 26, 2014

A Sad Farewell

It is with heavy hearts that we mark the passing of Donald Squire Welshon (1/13/25-12/25/14). He was a wonderful father, husband, friend, mentor and businessman. He was always a great gentleman who had great stories to tell.
His passing was peaceful. Don was surrounded by family and died at home. It was the best end that could have been hoped for.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

December Daily 21 & 22 ~ The Cures' Christmas Party + Candy Recipes

Sunday was a good day. Grandpa was okay and Doug is home, so Ethan had a day off. One of the things we did was to go to the Cure family Christmas party which included merriment of many kinds including making candy, eating yummy food, playing with trains and being silly. It was WONDERFUL and such a welcome break to what life is like for us right now. (I've included the recipes just past the recipes.)

Monday Grandpa Don took a turn for the worse. I was not sure that he would make it through yesterday. However, Rex was returning from his very brief holiday in Italy. I think that Grandpa Don may have been waiting for him so that all three boys were home. Thus, this will be brief, but still worth sharing.

Here are the recipes, all found at

Aunt Mabels Caramels

2 c. sugar
2 c. Karo syrup
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c. butter
2 c. thick cream

Boil sugar syrup and salt stirring occasionally. When syrup is very thick add butter and gradually add 2 c. cream dont stop boiling and stirring while adding cream or will curdle. Cook to firm ball stage add nuts and/or coconut. Pour in buttered 2 qt. pan to harden. When cool cut and wrap in plastic wrap.


Aunt Myrtles Cinnamon Candy

Combine in large heavy kettle
4 c. sugar
2 c. water
1 1/2 c. white corn syrup
Do NOT stir ever! Boil rapidly to hard crack stage, add 1 1/2 tsp red food color, 1 tsp cinnamon oil

Pour quickly onto greased cookie sheet.

For licorice use approx 1/2tsp. green color and 2 tsp anise oil (or a little more)


Cherry Chocolate Candy (a cherry mash copycat recipe)

2 c. sugar
2/3 c. evap milk
Dash salt
12 marshmallows
1/2 c. butter
6 oz. cherry chips
1 tsp vanilla
12 oz. chocolate chips
3/4 c. peanut butter

1 lg. pkg. salted peanuts crushed. Combine sugar milk salt marshmallows and butter in pan. Boil over med heat 5 minutes. Remove from heat add cherry chips and vanilla pour into 9x13 buttered pan. Melt chocolate chips add peanut butter and crushed peanuts. Spread over cherry mixture and chill.

Endstroms Almond Toffee

This is a famous recipe made in Grand Junction Colorado. They send millions of pounds around the world. Before the store began Mr. Endstrom taught a candy making class for the county and gave out this recipe.

2 c. sugar
1 c. water
1 lb butter
2 lg. Herseys choc bars
1 lb almonds (1/2 ground and 1/2 whole)

Melt chocolate in double boiler. Lightly butter 2 9x13 baking pans. Fill sinks with cold water. Unwrap butter. Place sugar & water in heavy pan at hottest heat until syrup spins a thread. Add 1 cube of butter and stir til melted. Add remaining sticks one at a time and melt each completely. Add whole almonds and continue stirring and cooking until almonds are toasted. Candy will be a dark tan and will pull away from the sides and bottom of the pan. ( If candy starts to smoke lift pan from burner rather than lowering the heat.) Pour into the two pans and set in cold water. Spread 1/2 of chocolate over each pan and sprinkle with 1/2 ground almonds. Using your fingers quickly flip over the candy (chocolate and almonds will now be on bottom of pan) - spread the remaining chocolate on the top of the candy and sprinkle with rest of ground almonds. Allow to mellow at room temp do (not refrigerate) for about 2-3 days.

Peanut Brittle

1 c. sugar
½ c. light corn syrup
1 c. roasted, salted peanuts
1 tsp. butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking soda

In 1 ½ quart casserole, combine sugar and syrup. Microwave on high for 3 minutes. Add peanuts. Microwave on high 4-5 minutes, until mixture is light brown, stirring every 2 minutes. Add butter and vanilla; stir well. Add baking soda and gently stir until light and foamy. Pour mixture onto lightly greased cookie sheet. Let cool 30 minutes to 1 hour. When cool, break into small pieces.

(may substitute almonds or cashews for the peanuts).

Sunday, December 21, 2014

December Daily 19 & 20 ~ Breaking Away for a Tiny Bit

Yesterday was a pretty rough day. It was the last day of the semester and I had to have my game face on at work while my heart was feeling very sad and anxious. The news that Don had been reclassified as a hospice patient began to sink in. Plus, I had not been able to get more than just an hour or two of sleep the night before. The kids were great, but I could not fake the excitement that most everyone else was feeling due to the winter break starting. I spent the evening trying to get my hands on a prescription medication that Don needed urgently. It took many phone calls about about 4 hours of waiting to finally procure what was needed.

Today was a much better day. Don was feeling a bit better and I had quick trip to Boulder with Natalie. We began our day by having brunch at the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse. We enjoy going to nice restaurants together. We started out with an order of Palatschinken (Austrian crepes, sweetened cheese, apple sauce, mint, candied walnuts) and house made Chai.
Natalie had a French Omelette and I had Honduran Beleada (tortilla, refried black beans, eggs (I had potatoes instead), cheese, plantains (I had them left out due to an allergy), avocado, crema, Aji red sauceO) which was fabulous. I saved a bit to bring home to the kids, both of whom enjoyed it.

Next stop was the Fjällräven store and the reason I needed to go to Boulder. Grandpa Don wants to give each of the grandchildren a special gift. Ethan has long wanted a Granfors Bruk Small Forest Axe, which are hand made in Sweden. It turns out that they are very hard to come by and they are also very desired. Larr and I contacted every single online dealer I could find. None of them had any and they were all back ordered until at least March. I had great conversations about the quality of the axe from abortionists, log home builder, tool collectors, etc. Then I recalled that Ethan had admired them at the Fjallraven store that is just down the street from Two Hands Paperie. I called them. They had been expecting their shipment to arrive for several days. I put a reserve hold and called them many days in a row. None had arrived. I explained the importance of the gift and they promised to help as best they could. One of them even called the stores in other states. In the end two axes were expedited to Boulder and I picked up mind today. Yeah and a great big shout out to those helpful folks!

And so since we were in Boulder, we had to stop by the Two Hands Paperie store, of course. I wanted to admire the Himmeli display that had been created at a community event that I missed due to conferences. They did a lovely job displaying them:

The display was really lovely. We spent some time in the shop and came out with some holiday gifts.

After that we headed back home. It was a short, sweet tonic to the stress of my life as it is right now. I am so thankful to have a wonderful friend to spend time with.

On an entirely different note, here is a little (expensive) silliness:

Friday, December 19, 2014

December Daily 18 ~ Being Thankful & Being Conscious

Yesterday the doctors decided to put Grandpa Don on home hospice. Even though his condition has been bad for a while, that label hit all of us pretty hard. At first I was in a place where the cheery holiday songs where a hard discord to the reality of our life right now. Then I sort of had a talk with myself and decided that I needed an attitude adjustment. Being upset and unhappy was not helpful to any of us, especially me. Instead, I stepped back, took a few deep breaths and decided that I needed to find the positives in our situation. And so I find myself thankful. I find that this difficult emotional place has also given me some gifts. It is a gift to witness the kindness, the nurturing and the genuine love my two children exhibit for their grandfather. Each of them doing it in their own equally important ways. What a gift it is to be able to stand back and witness who they are as adults, separate from ourselves and the many strings we have attached to each other. What a gift it is to be able to be truly conscious of the time we have left to be with Don, to take in who he is, how he has enriched our lives and how parts of him will live on in each of us. What a gift it is to have a chance to have so many of our friends and his friends come forth with their own stories of thanks for how he has enriched their lives. What a gift it is to have a chance at having closure. I don't know if we are near the end, but either way I am thankful for all of those things and more.

I have also made a point of slowing down enough to notice the small joys that are easy to miss. I went to Whole Foods yesterday and was enveloped in the smell of Rosemary as I went by the displays of little Rosemary trees they well this time of year in the produce department. They stacked them in such a way as to make them look like a larger tree. The fragrance lingered as I picked up what I needed.

Outside the Allegro Coffee Company had its Flxbus parked out front. The festive crew was handing out free beverages and Christmas stockings they purchased to support a coop in Kenya. There cheer was genuine and warming both inside and out.

Perhaps you can find them in your area.

Once I was back home I made a nice, simple meal for Ethan. He was so exhausted from having been at the hospital until about 4 a.m. He just needed some time to relax and soak in some of the love you can only get at home. I made a lovely grilled cheese sandwich and paired it with really lovely tomato soup. I used a fresh sourdough boulle and cotswold cheese (similar to cheddar, but more smooth, embedded with chives). I also served up his favorite rootbeer. He was so hungry that he had two large sandwiches. Tummy satisfied, we watched a bit of television together befor he had to return home to Grandpa Don's house since he was going home.
I buttere

Thursday, December 18, 2014

December Daily 17 ~ A Little Bit of Color

Even though I still have wrapping to do, I took the evening to enjoy a less hurried pace and I worked on a necklace that I have been commissioned to create since it was really just the pets and I at home last night.

Ellie and Kohlton spent most of the evening with Don playing card games. It was a nice distraction from his pain, even if just for a short while. Later in the evening, at around 11:00 p.m. Ethan noticed that Don was experiencing more trouble, so off to the hospital they went. Grandpa Don stayed the night. Larr and Ethan stayed as long as they could. It is really beginning to take a toll on both of them, the lack of sleep and worry. I feel at a loss as to what I can do to help. I keep my head in the game and a smile on my face at work, but I am distracted and unable to focus on planning for next semester when I have time to do that right now. After Friday I will have more time. Who knows whether I can add anything of benefit, or if I can relieve some of the stress by taking some shifts. This end of life stuff is just so hard.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

December Daily 16 ~ Special (or at least fun) Delivery

It seems amazing to me that we are about a week out from Christmas. This month has flown by. Larr was home last night (most of the evenings he has spent his time with his father) and so we sat at the dinning room table and talked. I also addressed our Christmas cards. This year we actually have two different designs. I used to make them all by hand, but this year I knew I would not have time and Shutterfly had some amazing deals on cards right after Thanksgiving.
I had a blast making these fancy cards. They are full color, thick and lovely. I think they will be fun to receive.

I also ordered a set from Tinyprints, a sister company to Shutterfly. Many of their designs tend to be a bit more trendy or modern. I love this card, too. I am thinking about making a hand carved rubber stamp of the flourish image.They had an amazing deal, too. In fact, many of my gifts this year are coming from either Shutterfly or Tinyprints. I think those are fun things to receive.

It was nice to sit, talk and do a bit of fancy lettering. Surely these envelopes will bring a smile to those who receive them.

I also spent part of the evening cleaning and decorating Ellie's room. She usually decorates it right after Thanksgiving, but she had not done so. I think she was feeling overwhelmed by laundry. I wanted a little special Christmas cheer for her and this was just the ticket.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

December Daily 15 ~ Sweets and Spice and Everything Nice + Chicken Bellagio Recipes

Grandpa Don is home and settled in. We have hired a person to watch over him as he sleeps (or attempts to sleep) so that we can make sure he is okay all night. Unfortunately, the pain medication that he is on effects the part of the brain that reminds you to breathe. This way we can make sure he is as safe as he can be 24/7 and Ethan can get some rest.

My help was not needed, so I spent the evening with Ellie. She loved the Chicken Bellagio that she had at the Cheesecake Factory on Saturday, so we tried out a copy cat recipe. The Parmesan Chicken was wonderful, but the creamy pesto pasta was not exactly what we were looking for. I've included the recipe we tried out below, as well as another one that might have a better pasta recipe.

I also finished up the gifts that I am giving to the people on my team at school. I am giving them a Christmas Potpourri and a jar of Spiced Cherry Jam. I think the presentation of both is lovely and they were fun to make.

Thanks to Pinterest, I was also able to find some nice labels. Here and here are the chalkboard style labels that I used on the top of the jars (as well as coordinating gift wrap, too). Here are the tags that I used to label the jam and the labels for the Christmas Potpourri.

I also worked on the gifts that I am creating for the kids. I'd love to share them, but I cannot at this time, of course.

Tonight I think I will try to find time to create a necklace for a person who has asked me to do a custom job for her. I need to get it done in time for Christmas. It will be nice to shift gears for that project. Perhaps I will get to the Christmas cards, too.


We tried this for dinner. The chicken was great, but the pasta with pesto cream sauce was just a little off.

Copycat Chicken Bellagio
via: Confessions of a Foodie Bride

A copycat recipe for the Cheesecake Factory's Chicken Bellagio. Make it at home and skimp on the calories, not the flavor.


For the pasta:
8 oz uncooked thin spaghetti
1/3 cup pesto
1/4 - 1/2 cup cream, optional*
For the chicken:
1/4 cup olive oil
2 chicken breasts
1/2 cup flour
1 egg whisked with 1 Tbsp water
1 cup panko
2 tsp Italian seasoning
2 Tbsp Parmesan cheese
For the salad:
4 slices prosciutto
Your favorite dark salad greens (I had a baby spinach-kale mix on hand)
Olive oil
Lemon wedges
*I was looking to lighten the dish and didn't want anything as heavy as cream in the recipe. The restaurant obviously uses a cream-based sauce - so if you want to go big, stir in a bit of heavy cream.
Make Loaded Ranch Potato Skins for Gameday


Bring water to boil in a large pot.
Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat.
Whisk egg with 1 Tbsp water and pour into a plate or small pan (I used an 8-inch sq baking dish).
Mix together the panko, Italian seasoning, a generous pinch of salt, pepper, and cheese in another plate or small pan (I used a dinner plate).
Slice the chicken breasts in half horizontally and place in a large zipper bag (or between sheets of plastic wrap) and lightly pound a few times to even and thin them out (thin enough so that they cook quickly but not thin enough that you can see through them).
Add flour to the zipper bag and shake to coat the chicken.
Shake off the excess flour and dip the chicken into the egg mixture, flipping to coat.
Press the chicken into the panko mixture and flip and press again. Transfer to another plate or pan and set aside, repeat for the remaining 3 pieces of chicken.
Put the pasta into the boiling water at the same time you start the first two pieces of chicken in the frying pan.
Cook the chicken two pieces at a time, for 2-3 minutes on each side, decreasing the heat a little if it browns too quickly.
Before draining the pasta, pull out ~1 cup of the pasta water and set aside.
Drain the pasta and return to the pan with half of the pasta water and the pesto. Toss until a creamy sauce forms, adding additional pasta water, as necessary.
Divide the pasta between 4 plates and top with the chicken cutlets as they come out of the pan. Season with additional salt and pepper.
Top each piece of chicken with a slice of prosciutto.
In a medium bowl, toss 4 handfuls of salad greens with a drizzle of olive oil, a pinch of salt, a squeeze of 2 lemon wedges, and a small handful of grated parmesan.
Divide between the 4 plates and enjoy. Without mascara. Pants also optional.


Perhaps this one is worth trying for the pasta pesto cream recipe:

Chicken Bellagio ~ Cheesecake Factory
via: Oh So Deliciouso blog
Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Serving Size: 5-6 Adults

Pasta and Sauce
1 Cup Heavy Cream
1 tsp Minced Garlic
1/2 C Fresh Grated Parmesan Cheese
5-6 Fresh Basil Leaves Minced
Juice from 1 lemon
salt and pepper
1 pkg. Spaghettini (thin spaghetti)

3-4 Chicken Breast
1 C Flour
2 Eggs
1 C Italian Seasoned Bread Crumbs
1 C Parmesan Cheese
Oil {Vegetable oil works great, but olive or grape seed oil is a nice alternative}
Prosciutto at room temp.
Arugula Lettuce washed and dried (Pictured is baby Arugula)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1-2 Lemons

Pasta and Sauce
Whisk heavy cream and garlic in sauce pan over medium-high heat until it begins to thicken.
Lower heat to medium-low careful not to scorch.
Add in Parmesan cheese and whisk til incorporated.
Add in basil, lemon juice and salt and pepper.
Whisk thoroughly and reduce to a low heat to keep warm. When ready to serve toss with Spaghettini that has been cooked at pkg directs.
You will need 3 bowls. In first bowl place flour. The second whisk the eggs and third combine bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese. Set aside.
If chicken is frozen, allow to thaw completely.
Butterfly the cutlets, or cut them in half by cutting through the middle of the meat so you have 2 thinner pieces.
Then place in a large sturdy zip-lock bag and with a meat mallet gently hammer chicken so that the piece is an even and thickness.
About this time, begin to heat your oil in a large skillet over medium -medium/high heat. You will want to fill your skillet about 3/4 inch deep with oil. You will know when ready if you flick a few drops of water on the oil and it crackles.
Take each piece of chicken and first coat them with flour, then dip in the egg, then last coat with bread crumb mixture. Do this to each piece.
Then place 2-3 pieces of chicken at a time in skillet. This will depend on how big your skillet is. Don't over crowd.
Allow to cook a few minutes, sides will start to turn a golden brown. Then flip and cook the other side. When finished remove and place on paper towels to drain excess oil. Repeat with remaining pieces.
To assemble this dish in true Cheesecake Factory Style..
Place generous serving of pasta in middle of plate.
Layer with two pieces of chicken side by side.
Ribbon 1-2 pieces of Prosciutto over top of chicken.
Then place a generous handful of arugula over prosciutto.
Drizzle a little evoo over arugula followed by juice of a lemon half.
Oh lovely lemons. Can't get enough!

Monday, December 15, 2014

December Daily 14 ~ Taking Care

Yesterday was a jumble of a day. Ethan and I had a nice breakfast together. I thought that we would have the entire day, but as we all know, plans often go awry. We all thought that Grandpa Don would stay in the hospital for a few days, but that was not the case. I spent a bit of the day doing some Christmas shopping for Grandpa Don. Some of my purchases were out of my usual realm, and so I tried to get advice from people I thought would have knowledge on the subject, but alas, I was unsuccessful at getting that advice. I had to go with my gut instinct.

I also started to prepare the small gifts that I will give to some of the people that I work with. I want to offer them lovely jars of Christmas Potpourri and containers of Spiced Cherry Jam. I am switching up the recipe for the Christmas Potpourri a bit. It contains an orange, Cranberries, some stick cinnamon, some whole cloves, ground nutmeg, star anise and small bits of juniper or pine. The sample that I am working from features a lovely presentation in a canning jar, of which I have many. However, my oranges will not fit in the jars like the ones I am inspired by, so I am thinking about cutting them up and putting them in a baggie in the jar. I could just layer them at the bottom, too.

In the afternoon it was announced that insurance would not allow for Don to be transferred to a skilled nursing home, so he would be discharged to home. Doug is in town, thankfully, so he went on Craigslist and purchased a hospital bed. Ethan borrowed a big truck and they got the bed taken care of. I cleaned up a bit. Larr arrived home with a very weary Don in the front seat. I wheeled out the wheelchair that Doug had gotten earlier in the day. I held it steady while Larr helped his father out of the car. Don cannot stand on his own right now so Larr had him put his arms around his neck while Larr maneuvered him gently as possible from the car seat to the wheelchair. All the while, Don cried and cringed as every movement causes new pains. The neighbors, Jill and Dustin, came over to help. Dustin and Larr managed to get Don and the chair up the two steps and into the house. While they got Don settled, I went to the pharmacy to pick up his medications. They are very controlled substances, so I had to wait for more than an hour for the paperwork to clear.

I had a chance to talk with Ethan about his role in caring for his grandfather. Ethan is newly 21 and he has a life to live. Being a full time care giver is very difficult. I told him that I am deeply proud of the young man that he is, that it warms my heart to see Ethan holding Grandpa's hand and helping him talk through the most difficult pains. I told him that we do not want him to feel like he has to do this for a long time, that he has a life to live. Ethan's reply was direct and honest. He said that he is living his life and that this is where he needs to be, that there is no other place he would rather be than with Grandpa. He says that helping him is his life's purpose for now, that he does not want anyone else taking care of Grandpa. He said this is his life, that he is not putting it on hold, he is embracing it fully.

I feel lucky to have such an opportunity to see the love, kindness and humanity that my son and daughter both exhibit. They are truly wonderful people.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

December Daily 13 ~ A Special Dinner

This weekend has been a tempered one. I've worked presents while Larr had to take Grandpa Don back to the hospital.I would have been with them, but too many people waiting in the emergency room waiting and observation rooms is not helpful.

In the evening Kohlton picked up Ellie to take her out to the Cheesecake Factory for a nice dinner.
We took a few photos together, too, Ellie and I.
With 12 days until Christmas, I am worried that I will not get everything done in time. Right now our focus is on hoping that Grandpa Don will stop being in pain.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

December Daily 12 ~ The Staff Christmas Party

After crazy week at school, we ended the work week with a staff party at the home of one of the administrators. It was a lot more fun that I had expected it to be. Our building is large and spread out. I don't even know the names of everyone on the staff. Last night I got to see a fun side of those who came out for the party.

We had an ugly sweater contest and some of the women in the Special Education department put in special efforts to have great, ugly sweaters. They made everyone laugh!
They took Steve under their wing and he took the grand prize, a stocking hanger with a photo of Deeble, one of the administrators. It is quite fun. I was amazed that Deeble was a good enough sport to allow that kind of silliness to happen.
We also did a white elephant gift exchange. The socks that I brought to the party were a hit and traded many times.

It was a great way to end the week. Here's a bit more fun, silly merriment for you:

Thursday, December 11, 2014

December Daily 10 ~ Small, Wonderful and Gratifying

During this time of year it is so easy to get sucked into the comparison game of who has more decorations, better presents, more presents, bigger parties, and so on. It is so easy to get so focused on checking everything off of the list, adding more and more to that list. It is so much easier to stress yourself out. However, I am making a conscious choice to try and step back, slow down and be grateful for the smaller pleasures. Here are a few of them:

* Last weekend I put the flannel pillow cases on the pillows. They are soft and warm. And one of them even has colorful snowflakes.

* Driving home from the dog park, Remmie and notice the brilliant colors of the sunset. It is glorious that we still have those colors (though falling snow is lovely, too.)

* Driving home from the dog park, we go through a neighborhood that is undergoing a big transformation where there are old Craftsman style bungalows next to very modern, geometric houses next to each other. On the corner there is a brand new modern home that is clearly loved. In each of the windows of the tall, thin three story house there are white wreaths with digital LED lights that blink in patterns that suggest a song. Each one is buffeted on each side by thin, tall, white, lit up triangles that are suggestive of Christmas trees. There are icicle lights that look like water is falling - lovely in a very fashioned, digital way. Next to it is one of those old homes with the crooked patio festooned with the old Christmas lights with bulbs that are almost the size of eggs. The lights are warm, inviting and old, their colors shifted to new tones over time. The red has settled into a rosey pink. The yellow has become a golden rod, mustard yellow. The blues have deepened so that they are almost black. It is a stark contrast between the two homes, each one inviting and lovely in their own ways. I doubt that Remmie notices those lights. I think about the comfort and joy that the lights from long ago bring each year, threading together memories. I think about the joy that must be in decorating a new home and the fun of fresh, bright, new decorations.

* I enjoy the lights on our own tree and take in the scent of the tree. I am thankful that Ellie made an effort to get it up and decorated.

* The lovely sent of using the Balsam Fir scented foaming soap - a silly thing to enjoy, but I enjoy it all the same.

Ellie spent the evening with friends exchanging gifts and watching holiday movies. I think they might have watched "Elf" and had some spaghetti with maple syrup and Pop Tarts, like he does in the movie.

I spent the evening watching, "Catching Fire" (the second book in the Hunger Games series) with Ethan who is home because he has a really yucky case of the flue. I am thankful that I had some relaxing time with him.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

December Daily 9 ~ Christmas Fun with Aurora May Rose

Ever since my kids were little, we've been going to the Echter's Greenhouse at Christmas. They have such lovely trees, decorations, etc. I wanted to begin that tradition with Aurora May Rose, my tiny niece.
My mother and I both wanted to buy her special ornaments. Most of them were too breakable to consider, but we managed to find some fun ones. I gave her a blue, glittered snowflake. My mother gave her a few special ornaments including a few with colored babbles and a small wreath made of spools. I loved the one that looked like a plastic egg bird house.
We also took some photos of Aurora with her mother in the red sleigh. She also wanted to check things out for her self. Who knew toddling could be so cute!
And oh yeah, there were a few other fun things at the garden center.