Merry Christmas - Saturday - December 25, 2010

On Thursday morning we packed up the Tahoe with food (tons of it) and Christmas presents. Then we picked up Nancy’s Mom and drove to our daughter’s home in Raleigh, N.C. to celebrate Christmas with the family. Our son Brian and his wife Chris drove up from Columbia, S.C. and got there just shortly ahead of us. Our “Official” Christmas has always been any day that we’re all going to be together during the holidays. Sometimes it’s the 25th, but most times it’s not. This year our Christmas is Friday, December 24th.

Nancy had prepared all the food in advance. That way we could have meals without all the fuss and have more time to enjoy each others company. We had our "Christmas Dinner" on Friday evening. 
Lots of Good Food!
While waiting for dinner to be served, it was fun to see four generations playing an intense game of Bingo!

It has been Nancy and my custom to buy PEZ dispensers and candy for everyone.  Samantha really thought they were the greatest thing going!!
Samantha admiring her collection.

Couple the PEZ with all the cookies, pies, pretzels and other goodies and the kids get a sugar high that lasts all day! Not to mention what it does to the adults.
Brian, Steve and Chris hitting the cookie table!

Christmas just wouldn’t be the same without the organized chaos of the four Grandchildren getting up early eager to rip open all those gifts under the tree.
Daniel, Emily and Andrew trying to wait for everyone to get UP!!

First, our Breakfast Sugar!!

It is always fun to watch them get so excited as they parade about showing off all of their new “stuff”.

As usual on Christmas Day, we spend most of our day playing with the Grandchildren. The kids got plenty of toys, from remote battery racing cars to Nerf guns to Lego’s to various games for the boys to tea sets, doll clothes, princess dresses and bead sets for the girls. And that doesn’t include the “some assembly required” stuff.
Ninja Emily!!

Tea Party!

Daniel's Lego Spaceship

Beading Buddies!

Andrew's Car made it over the RAMP!!

Shrinky Dinks!!

Brian --  I'll Never Grow Up!!

Watch out Kids -- Mom's got her OWN Nerf Gun!!

Whenever our clan is together it is truly a special time. 
We really enjoyed our family time together.
Christmas Jam Session!!

Our initial plan was to spend a couple of days in Raleigh and drive home on Christmas day the 25th. Unfortunately, Nancy was feeling a bit under the weather so our plans changed and we decided to drive home yesterday.

So, from our family to yours, Merry Christmas!
May the spirit of giving stay alive the whole year round.
Have a great holiday season!
Bill and Nancy

One "SWEEEEEET" Day - Tuesday - December 14, 2010

Nancy here.......
Today I was off and spent the day getting the rest of the Christmas cooking done. 

WARNING....the pictures that follow could be hazardous to you health ;o)

Each Christmas, I make Candied Pecans and give them to all the family.  I thought I'd share the recipe, which is quite easy!

(Be sure to click on photo to enlarge and see ALL THE SUGAR!!)
Candied Pecans
1 egg white
1 Tbl. water
1 Tbl. vanilla
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 Lb. pecans

Preheat Oven to 250 degrees
Grease a Jelly Roll Pan

STEP ONE...........
 Whip egg white, water and vanilla until frothy.

STEP TWO.......
 Put pecans into egg white mixture and stir to coat pecans.

Mix sugar and salt in a seperate bowl.

 Pour eggwashed pecans into sugar mixture and stir to coat.

STEP FIVE.......
 Spread coated pecans onto greased jelly roll pan.
Baked in preheated oven for 1 hour, stiring every 15 minutes.


I also made a large batch of Snickerdoodle Cookies.  Traditionally, the cookie dough is rolled in cinnamon-sugar before it is baked. 
While I made some in the traditional way, I rolled the rest in colored sugar.  
 The Grandchildren really like the colored sugar cookies!!
Afterall, that's the only reason I am baking cookies...
It's all about the Grandchildren ;o)))

I also had a pot of lentil soup going in the crockpot and a loaf of whole wheat pumpkin seed bread going in the bread machine.   When I looked around the kitchen, I realized I am going to have to be a little more organized in the kitchen once we started full-timing.  I tend to get everything dirty and then clean up. 
Don't think I will have room for all this mess!!

A Night of A Thousand Candles - Friday - December 10, 2010

Our good friends, Bill and Chris, purchased 4 tickets for “A Night of A Thousand Candles”, the Christmas light display at Brookgreen Gardens.
Statue at the entrance to Brookgreen Gardens

They were kind enough to invite us to go with them on Friday night. Brookgreen Gardens contains the largest outdoor display of sculptures in the world. Yes – in the WORLD and we have it right here in Murrells Inlet!!

The temperature was in the low 40’s, but there was no wind, so it was comfortable enough if you dressed warmly.
We did just that.

First we stopped to pick up Bill and Chris.  Their home is decorated for Christmas and it looked beautiful.
The Stockings were HUNG!!

Waiting for SANTA!!

Next stop, a small restaurant named Salad Creations where we had our dinner. From there it was off to Brookgreen Gardens. It was just magical with all the lights, candles and statues reflecting in the pools throughout the gardens.
Reflections.....lights, candles and statue

In addition, there were indoor Christmas displays and also live entertainment.
Carousel Horse and Poinsettia Tree

We watched a string trio, a bell choir and a gospel singer.
String Trio......trying to stay warm and still play!

The evening stroll gave Nancy an opportunity to use her new camera and experiment with the night settings on the camera. She took a lot of pictures, some good and some not so good…. Here are some of the better ones.
Snowflakes lighting the entryway

Lights in the reflecting pond

Huge Live Oak Tree draped in lights!

Statue at the entrance to the Children's Garden

Colorful Fort in the Children's Garden

Lollipop Walkway in the Children's Garden

Christmas Cactus Tree

Succulent Christmas Tree

Gingerbread House

Christmas Morning Display


Bill and Chris making a NEW friend!!

Nancy here…
Taking picture of lights at night is very difficult. You have to hold the camera VERY steady as the exposure time is very slow. This picture shows you what happens when you do not hold the camera steady.
Interesting affect !?!?!?

It was a beautiful night and really got us in the holiday spirit!!
Thanks Bill and Chris for treating us to such a nice event.

We have had an interesting week. I only have a few weeks until my job will end. As of January 1st, I will be retired. This will obviously reduce our income significantly. I actually heard back from Social Security and my former company about my benefits this week. Both SS and my pension, will start in January. However, we need to get the house sold to get rid of the expenses that go with home ownership. But we are moving closer to going full-time!!

On Saturday, Nancy and I drove to Fort Moultrie on Sullivans Island, SC to buy my America The Beautiful - The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Senior Pass for $10.00.
What a terrific deal that is—if you’re 62 or older, a pass for all the National Parks can be purchased and it's good forever!! For anyone who travels the US and enjoys our National Park System, this pass is a must. Of course, we also purchased a National Parks Passport which allows you to get it “stamped” whenever you go to a National Park.
I was excited to get my first stamp!!

We are beginning to experience a lot of changes in our life. This coming week will be interesting as well. I hope to purchase a laptop with help from our son-in-law, Steve. Steve is a real hi-tech guru. He’ll have his hands full trying to explain to me what we need. Once we get the computer…we will have to get our wireless Internet setup as well. Should be tons of fun. 4G – 3G – MIFI – Tethering – Satellite – etc., etc., etc.  I’ll let you know how we make out.