Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!
May the old year go out in peace and the new year enter with joy!

Here is a review of my year in photos.
As always, there was quite a lot of stitching taking place.
2011 Stitching
The big finish was the cream/white crazy quilt!  I only participated in one round robin on an Autumn theme this year.  Most of the other projects were fairly small, though there were a number of things that got finished that aren't included in this mosaic.

There were a few trips as well, though not so many as previous years.
2011 Travels
The big highlights were the trip to Yosemite and surrounding areas and the trip to South Dakota as well as Rocky Mountain National Park, which is always a favorite destination of mine and Saguaro National Park.

I love taking photos of the flora and fauna as a way to capture the details of a time and place!
2011 Flora & Fauna
This year, one of these photos, the Mesquite in Bloom, second photo down from the upper left corner, was published in Natural History Magazine and has been contracted to publish in another magazine this coming spring!

Each year, I mark a few photos as being the "best" of the year ~ here are the ones I like this year.
2011 Best Pics
The center photo of Palisade State Park in South Dakota was featured on their Facebook promo site!

But there was more than lovely trips and stitching this year that will forever mark 2011 in my memory.

2011 is the year that I had bariatric surgery.  I started off weighing a peak of 278 pounds with several weight related health issues.  Here is a before shot (when I'd already lost about 35 pounds due to pre-surgery efforts)
Lisa 24April2011
And an after shot, taken just a few days ago, down 95+ pounds (every single one of the weight related health issues has been resolved!) and feeling great!!!

2011 is also the year that my Dad passed away.  He had Alzheimer's for the past decade and while he remained a gentle and kind man throughout, it was still difficult to watch the man we knew disappear. The whole family is grateful that his passing was relatively easy and peaceful.  For me, it is still hard to get used to the idea of a world without my Dad in it.  This mosaic captures glimpses of his life.    The music clip following is the one we played at his memorial service of him singing the aria, "If With All Your Heart from the Oratorio, "Elijah".  It was recorded in 1983. The recording was rather quiet, so you may need to adjust the volume.  (once again, please pardon the brief advertisement prior to the music)
My Dad - Myron Plooster

We were so happy to celebrate Stephen and Amanda's wedding in September!  They chose to celebrate it on what would have been my parent's 56th wedding anniversary!  (Stephen also got a promotion to Sergeant this year!)
Stephen and Amanda 3Sept2011

So, 2011 is filled with memories of all sorts.  The first half of the year was difficult, with everything from frozen pipes/flooded apartment to my being extremely ill in March, then the unexpected passing of Amanda's mother, also in March, my surgery in April (good, but still difficult!) and then my Dad's passing in May.  The second half of the year has been truly blessed.  There have been lovely trips, Stephen and Amanda's wedding, my weight loss and improved health, achieving a couple of professional milestones, namely getting both my IBCLC and RNC-MNN certifications, and now foster son Gary and his recent engagement to Marcy (we are looking forward to a June wedding!) !   

So as I try to think of what to end this yearly review with, I can think of nothing better than to use the Psalm that has been the center of my devotions this year.  This Psalm has been the rock I leaned on when times were difficult;  as a family we recited it at my Dad's passing; and it has been the promise I have looked towards through all things throughout the year.  Truly, here at the end of the year I can say, my cup overflows and goodness and mercy have abounded throughout this year!

Psalm 23 (my paraphrase)

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. 
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside the still waters. 
He restores my soul. 
He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. 

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for 
   You are with me.  
Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.  

You prepare a table before me, in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil.
My cup overflows!
Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life,
And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever and ever.

     *  *  *  

For you shall go out in joy,
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
shall break forth into singing,
and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress;
instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle;
and it shall be to the Lord for a memorial,
for an everlasting sign which shall not be cut off.
Isaiah 55:12-13


A Flibberti Gibbet

Do you remember those words from the song "Maria" in the Sound of Music when the nuns are trying to describe Maria?  They call her a flibberti gibbet, a willo' the wisp, meaning someone who flits from thing to thing.  That's sort of how I feel right now.  With Christmas past, I flit between projects, not getting anything finished, but changing from this to that on a whim!  So here are a few of the things I've been working on.  
Field of Flowers Afghan WIP
A while back I saw a wonderful flower afghan and I searched and searched for the pattern to no avail. Then, I saw a flower motif and recognized it as being very similar.  So I did my best to copy the flower and have started my own flower afghan!  I knew I wanted something quiet to go with my white and green decor and settled at last on these white flowers with green centers!  I can't decide if I like this side best or the other side, which I'll show at some point in the future.

CQ in progress
Then there are the crazy quilted pockets for a pincushion caddy to go over the arm of my chair/sofa.  All in shades of green, white and natural linen.

KidLin Knitting
There is the green Louet KidLin (lovely mix of mohair and linen that is so soft and light!) shawl that I've been working on for ages.  It's a simple garter stitch so it shouldn't take too long, but it is BORING knitting!  I'd sure like to have it finished to use this summer over a nice linen summer dress!

crocheted lace motif
Then I got to playing among my basket of old cutter linens as I've been thinking about making a very simple white pincushion with this piece of old crochet for the sole decoration.

basket of cutter linens
There's just something so delightful in playing around with old linens and lace!

old linens and lace
Even when some pieces such as this lovely old dresser scarf are too badly damaged to use as is.  It just means I can cut it up to use it for something else!  So many possibilities!

Garter Stitch Scarf
I did finish one more project before Christmas, which I couldn't share until now!  This is the scarf I knit for my soon to be new daughter-in-law who is engaged to my foster son!  We're looking forward to a June wedding!


Meditation for Christmas ~ December 25

Nativity in White

Christmas Day
When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph and the baby lying in a manger.  And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child.  And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.
Luke 2: 15-18

O Come, All Ye Faithful

O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem;
Come and behold Him, born the King of angels;
         O come, let us adore Him,
         O come, let us adore Him,
         O come, let us adore Him,
         Christ, the Lord!

Sing, choirs of angels, sing in exultation,
O sing, all ye citizens of heaven above!
Glory to God, all glory in the highest’

Yea, Lord, we greet Thee, born this happy morning,
Jesus, to Thee be all glory given;
Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing;
Latin Hymn (18th Century)
Attributed to John Francis Wade (1711-1786)

Christmas Bunny

May the gift of God's grace 
and the gentleness of His peace 
bless you this Christmas season.

Merry Christmas!  


Meditations for Advent ~ December 24

     Christmas Eve
Madonna and Child

For to us a child is born,
To us a son is given;
And the government shall be upon his shoulder;
And his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 
Isaiah 9:6

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear.  And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  And this will be a sign for you; you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
            "Glory to God in the highest,
            And on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
Luke 2:8-14

Snowflake lights
Silent Night

Silent night, holy night
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon virgin mother and Child.
Holy Infant so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace,
Sleep in heavenly peace. 

Silent night, holy night,
Shepherds quake at the sight.
Glories stream from heaven afar,
Heavenly hosts sing alleluia;
Christ the Savior is born!
Christ the Savior is born!

Silent night, holy night,
Son of God, love’s pure light
Radiant beams from Thy holy face,
With the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord ,at Thy birth,
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth.
Joseph Mohr (1792-1848) Translated by John Freeman Young (1820-1885)

Christmas tree and light


Christmas Tradition ~ Pigs in the Blanket

The Daily Meditation is below this post! 
Dough Covered & Rising
Pigs in the Blankets or SAUCIJZENBROODJES as they are known in Dutch, have been a Christmas tradition in my family for generations.  I can remember as a little girl, coming in from playing outside in the snow with my cousins, to my Grandma's blissfully warm kitchen with the smell of freshly made Pigs in the Blankets permeating the air!  What a treat to sit down around the kitchen table with a bit of that wonderful goodness!  Years later, I can remember how disappointed I was the first time someone handed me an "American" pig in the blanket and it was just a hot dog wrapped in biscuit dough!  For me, nothing beats the real thing! In the recent past, when we used to hold a large Christmas Caroling Party every year, we made a double batch of these and they were always a favorite of everyones and one of the first things to be eaten up!
The recipe has evolved over the years. My Grandmother made them with all pork sausage. As times have changed, the amount of pork sausage has decreased and the amount of lean ground meat has increased and now many family members make them with either lean ground beef or even ground turkey! Each family also seems to change the spices to suit their own preferences.  It seems that not too many people make the bread dough anymore either (other than me!) and so using frozen bread or roll dough has made the process simpler for some. 
I photographed the making of Pigs in the Blankets  this year for posterity and so that the coming generations will still know how to make them!  I thought I'd share the recipe with you!  
Rising dough
First make the bread dough.  My recipe comes from the "More with Less" Cookbook by Doris Janzen Longacre.  I've been using it for decades and find it to be a great white bread recipe.  Note that you will probably only need three loaves worth of dough, so you can either make a loaf of bread or some rolls in addition to the Pigs in the Blankets!


Oven: 350 degrees F
30 to 35 minutes

            2 pkg. dry yeast in
            ½ c. warm water
            1 ½ tsp sugar
Combine in large mixer bowl:
            ½ c. sugar
            1 TBLS salt
            1/4 c. lard or shortening
            3 c. warm water
            yeast mixture
            5 c. flour
Beat with electric mixer 3 minutes.
Stir in by hand:
            6 c. flour
Turn onto floured board and knead 5 minutes.  Place in greased bowl, turning once, cover and let rise ½ hour.  Punch down, turn over and let rise again until double.  
While the bread is rising, you can mix the meat! 
Ground meat with spices
In a large mixing bowl, combine:
            2 lbs. ground beef
            1 lb. pork sausage
            1 tsp. Salt
            ½ tsp. Pepper
            1 tsp. Cinnamon
            1 tsp. Nutmeg
            1/4 tsp. Cloves
Mix well using hands to evenly mix spices throughout meat.Shaping Dough step 1
Divide bread dough into four balls.  Divide each ball into thirds as they are needed.  
Shaping Dough step 2
With hands, roll one third of ball into a long thin roll 
Shaping Dough step 3
and then roll with rolling pin into long flat rectangle about 3" wide and 3/8" thick.  
Placing meat on dough
Form meat into a long thin roll about ½" in diameter down center of dough.  
Dampening edges of dough
Brush edges of dough with water.  (I usually use my fingers dipped in a small bowl of water to do this.)
Pinching dough closed
Bring edges of dough together around meat and pinch to seal.  
Rolled dough with meat filling

Cut into 1 1/2" to 2" segments 
On the Baking Pan
and place seam side down, 1" apart on a cookie sheet with sides. 
Covering while rising
Cover and let rise for ½ hour in a warm place.  
Risen rolls ready for the oven

Brushing with milk
Brush tops with:
            1/4 c. milk
Bake at 350 F for 20 minutes.  (use the middle rack)
Brushing with drippings
Using a pastry brush, brush drippings from bottom of pan onto tops of Pigs in the Blankets.  
Bake another 5 to 10 minutes or until nicely browned.  
Note: if they don’t seem to brown in this amount of time, increase temp to 375 degrees F. 
Pigs in the Blankets
Remove to plates.  Serve warm.
This usually makes about 2 1/2 pans full for me, enough for a family plus a few leftovers to warm up later!  
An alternate version: 


3 – 4 loaves “Rhodes” frozen bread, thawed and raised as on label.
Eliminate Nutmeg (but keep other spices) and instead add:
            1/4 tsp. Ground ginger
            ½ tsp. Poultry seasoning

Happy Baking!  I'd love to know what family traditions you have that have been passed down through the generations!  

Meditations for Advent ~ December 23

Christmas Shelf

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.  This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria.  And all went to be registered, each to his own town.  And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.  And while they were the, the time came for her to give birth.  And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. 
Luke 2:1-7


Meditation for Christmas ~ Music from the Messiah sung by my Dad

Myron Plooster Canadian Rockies
As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet,
The voice of one crying in the wilderness

“Prepare the way of the Lord, Make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, And every mountain and hill shall be made low,And the crooked shall become straight, And the rough places shall become level ways, And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”
Luke 3: 4-6

It is my deepest pleasure to be able to share this music clip of my Dad, Myron N. Plooster, singing "Every Valley Shall be Exalted" from the Messiah in 1988 at the height of his singing career.  Take a few minutes, click on the "play" arrow on the media bar above (please pardon the brief ad that plays in front of the music) and listen to the sound of a his voice lifted in praise to God as you enjoy the images of the mountains and valleys of Colorado, which he loved.  The photo at the top of this post was taken in the Canadian Rockies on a backpacking trip he took, probably within a year or two of the recording.  

Moraine Park

View from Vail Pass 2

Horseshoe Park

View from Loveland Pass

Longs Peak Sunset Jun04

Horseshoe Park, Sheep Lakes

Flatirons Boulder Colorado

Longs Peak

Sunset over Boulder

(being new to posting clips of music, I inadvertently got off schedule for the meditations, so this posted a couple of days early instead of on the 22nd as it was intended)