The Beauty Around Us

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Christmas 2018

We celebrated Christmas three times.

Christmas celebration #1 was held on Sunday at my brother and sister-in-law’s home.  We left our home in Warren PA at 10:30 am en route Jim and Judy’s house. Jim and Judy live about an hour’s drive north of Pittsburgh. We arrived at Jim and Judy’s house at 1:00 pm.  We thought we were the last to arrive.  But that was not the case.  While we were filling our plates, Judy’s brother Donald and his wife Gina arrived.  Others who came to Christmas dinner, in addition to Jim and Judy, Donald and Gina and Bob and I, were our nephew Michael, his wife Kailey and their three children; our nephew Jared, his wife Sara and their two children; Sara’s parents; and Judy’s mother.  Our niece Emily and her husband Dan and their daughter, who live in Minnesota, were not able to join us this year.  Christmas dinner included turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, noodles, sweet potatoes, pickled eggs, and corn.  Dessert included pumpkin pie, chocolate dream pie, cookies and a gingerbread cake.  We departed Jim and Judy’s house at 3:30 pm, as gifts were being opened.  Bob and I did not participate in the gift exchange; however, Judy made sure I didn’t leave empty handed. 

Judy made this wooden sign for me. Great job, Judy, and THANK YOU!

We returned home at 6:00 pm.  It was good to see my brother and his family and the others.  We had a very good visit with everyone.

Christmas celebration #2 was held on Monday at Stacey’s house.  We left home at 1:30 pm and arrived at Stacey’s house about 15 minutes later.  Chris (Stacey’s mother) and Jay arrived a short time later.  Our dinner included roasted turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing and, for dessert, apple pie, ambrosia, and brownies.  Harper and Juniper received a surprise visit from Santa Claus.

Santa Claus is showing our granddaughters that their names are on his nice list.

Santa Claus brought the girls early Christmas presents.

Harper and Juniper with Santa Claus

Stacey, Chris, Jay and I knew Santa Claus would be stopping by.  Nevertheless Santa Claus took Stacey and me by surprise.  We expected Santa to come to the front door.  Instead he came to the back door.  We heard bells and “ho-ho-ho” a short while before he made an appearance.  At first we didn’t know what we were hearing.  To me the noise sounded like it was coming from a radio.  Stacey and I got up from the table (we were finishing up dinner) and walked into the kitchen.  We were looking out the kitchen window, when Santa’s face appeared.  He startled us!

After dinner we opened gifts.  Everyone was happy with their gifts.

I took a few pictures, after we opened our gifts.

“Big Grandma” Chris and her granddaughters

“Big Grandma” Chris, Grandma Linda, and our granddaughters

Stacey and her daughters

While we were at Stacey’s house, it snowed. 

Snow fell on Christmas Eve!

It stayed cold through Christmas Day, so we had a white Christmas.

Christmas celebration #3 was at our home on Christmas Day, with only Bob and I in attendance.  Bob and I opened our Christmas gifts to each other in the morning.  We are happy with our respective gifts.  I prepared Christmas dinner, which we ate around 2:00 pm.  Christmas dinner included baked ham, baked potato, whole berry cranberry sauce, cauliflower and broccoli medley and, for dessert, pumpkin pie.  The ham was a spiral ham.  We have lots of ham leftovers!

’Twas a very merry Christmas for Bob and me. We spent the Christmas holiday with the people who mean the most to us.  We are so blessed!





Merry Christmas!

Bob and I celebrated Christmas with Stacey and our granddaughters this morning.  Stacey, Harper and Juniper arrived around 8:45 am. I prepared Belgian waffles for breakfast. For toppings we had a choice of strawberries, apples, whipped topping, butter, and maple syrup. After breakfast, we opened Christmas gifts.  Everyone was happy with the gifts received.  What made me the most happy, though, was to spend the beginning of this holiday season with family.  I enjoyed our time together very much.

_LG25383Merry Christmas from our family to your family.

Our Christmas

Our Christmas began on Wednesday, December 23.  We celebrated Christmas with my stepdaughter and two granddaughters on that day.  Stacey and the girls arrived at 2:00 pm. We ate Christmas dinner: turkey with stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, carrots, green bean casserole, dinner rolls, cranberry sauce and for dessert pumpkin pie, chocolate pudding and chocolate chip cookies.  After dinner, and after the kitchen had been cleaned up, we exchanged Christmas gifts.  Our granddaughters left around 4:15 pm, when their paternal grandmother picked up the girls to take them to church.  Stacey left about an hour later.

It was just Bob and me for Christmas Day.   Bob and I decided not to exchange gifts this year, opting to make our Eureka Springs vacation in September our Christmas present to each other.  We didn’t have a white Christmas.  It wasn’t even a chilly Christmas, as the temperature rose into the 50s.  In the afternoon Bob and I went for a long walk at the Audubon Center and Sanctuary in Jamestown, NY.  We walked all three trails. The orange trail is 1 mile in length; the yellow trail is 2 miles in length; and the blue trail is .5 miles in length. We didn’t follow each trail individually, so we didn’t walk the entire 3 ½ miles in trail. It would be reasonable, though, to say we walked more than 2 miles, probably close to 3 miles!

20151225_175810329_iOSBob and I on one of the trails at the Audubon Center and Sanctuary
If you would like to see more pictures from our walk, you may do so by clicking here.

We ate Christmas dinner at Variety Buffet, a local Chinese restaurant that we have eaten at the past couple Christmases.
Bob and I celebrated Christmas with my brother and family at his house the day after Christmas.  We left Warren at 10:00 am and arrived in Cadogan around 12:30 pm. Our nephew, Jared, and his wife Sara and their daughter Kyla had arrived earlier in the day.  I had plenty of Kyla time (and time with Sara and Jared) before the arrival of Judy’s brother, Donald, and his wife Gina and Judy’s mother, Lois, and our nephew, Michael, and his wife Kailey and their children Kaleb and Anna.

We ate dinner at 3:00 pm.

_LG10060 4x6
Our Christmas dinner included ham, turkey, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes with gravy, Amish noodles, stuffing, green beans and cranberry sauce. For dessert we had a choice of pumpkin pie, pumpkin roll, and brownies. Dinner was served buffet style, with us taking our filled plates into the living room and den to eat. Dinner was delicious.

Gift opening commenced at 4:00 pm.

The last activity before we departed for home was a sock exchange, in which Judy, Gina, Lois, Sara, Kailey and I participated. Each of us filled a pair of fuzzy socks with stocking stuffers, the contents of which were not to exceed $20.00. We sat in a circle holding the socks that we brought. Jared read a Christmas story that I found on the Internet. Every time the word RIGHT was read, everyone passed her gift to the right. Every time the word LEFT was read, gifts were passed to the left. Each person kept the gift held at the end of the story. I give kudos to my sister-in-law, Judy, for suggesting the sock exchange.  We had the best time passing around our socks!

Bob and I left for home around 6:15 pm and returned home around 9:00 pm. It was an enjoyable day. Too bad that our niece, Emily, and her husband Dan and their daughter Elise couldn’t be there with us.  Emily, Dan and Elise live about a 1.000 miles away–a bit too far for a day’s drive!

I put together the following collage of some of the photographs that I took, while at my brother’s house.

 (top row) l-r: Lois and her great granddaughter; Michael and his family
(middle row) l-r: My brother and sister-in-law with their grandchildren; Donald and Gina
(bottom row) l-r: Emily and her family; Jared and his family

There is one picture included in the collage that I didn’t take. I downloaded one of Emily’s Facebook pictures. Dan, Emily and Elise were not with us in person. They were, though, with us in spirit!


It is now the last day of the year 2015.   Happy New Year to each and every one of you.  Here are my wishes for you in the new year:

“Great beginning for January…
Love for February…
Peace for March…
No worries for April…
Fun for May…
Joy for June and July…
Achievements for August…
Harmony for September…
Good fortune for October and November…
Happiness for December…”

~Author Unknown

A Visit from Santa’s Elf

On December 8th Bob’s sister, Cynthia, sent us a Facebook message.  Cynthia asked us where we would go if we could take the motorcycle and ride together to one of our favorite places to take photos.  Cynthia said that this was a VERY serious question.  We had to be sure we knew the answer we both agreed on, because once we decided, we could not change it!  After a few minutes of thought, Bob and I told Cynthia that we would go to the Finger Lakes Region, in particular Watkins Glen, New York.

Last night we received another Facebook message from Cynthia.  She wrote that we “must be on the “nice” list.. Santa sent me a message…’I could deliver it later tomorrow (Tues 12/23) or Wednesday 12/24.’ When will someone be home?” Bob told Cynthia that I would be here all day today, as well as Wednesday. Cynthia said that Santa would be at our house between 3 and 4 today.

Santa’s elf, not Santa, came to our house a little after 3:30 pm today. Now, IF Santa’s elf had been dressed as an elf, a photograph would have been in order. Santa’s elf, however, was dressed in civilian attire and arrived via a privately owned vehicle. Santa’s elf brought Bob and me a Christmas gift. Because the package did NOT say “do not open before Christmas”, we opened the package.


Inside the package was a lovely portrait of our cat, Patches, that
Cynthia commissioned Ellen Paquette to paint for us.

It looks like Patches posed for the painting. The likeness is amazing.  Look closely at the painting.  Do you see the camera? the motorcycle? Watkins Glen Gorge?  What a WONDERFUL surprise!  Thank you, Cynthia, for such a perfect Christmas present!  Mrs. Paquette does extraordinary work!

Oh, who was Santa’s elf?  Santa’s elf was the artist herself, Ellen Paquette!

Hometown Christmas Parade

Bob and I attended Warren’s annual Christmas parade yesterday evening.  The parade route ran from the south end of Market Street, along Pennsylvania Avenue West, and disbanded north on Hickory Street.


Photograph obtained from Times Observer newspaper
(Please click on image for larger size)

There was a very good turnout for the parade.  Weather reports called for rain during the evening.  The “parade angels” must have been watching over us, as the rain held off until the end of the parade.  A very light rain began to fall shortly after the end of the parade.

We watched the parade at “the point”’ in front of the Heritage Fountain (Special Event #3 shown on map above).  We watched the parade with friends.

Some of our friends

I took both of these photographs, while we were waiting for the parade to begin.

More friends

The parade began at 6:30 pm and reached our location approximately 20 minutes later.

John Gertsch Memorial Post Color guard

Youth Connection

Warren Area High School Marching Band

Relay for Life parade float

Girl Scouts

Girl Scouts

Brett Fallon (dancer)

Here comes Santa Claus
and Mrs. Claus!

This year’s parade was sponsored and coordinated by the Warren County Chamber of Business and Industry (WCCBI) and the Warren Times Observer.  A big thank you to both organizations, as they did an excellent job with the parade.

As soon as the parade ended the Christmas tree was lit.  The Christmas tree stood in front of the Heritage Fountain, located near from where we watched the parade.  There was no tree lighting ceremony, as was expected.  The tree lights just came on, with no fanfare.  The Christmas tree was the only night’s disappointment, not only for the lack of a tree lighting ceremony.  I, along with others who were standing around me, felt that whomever decorated the tree could have done a better job.

the lit Christmas tree

Our friends dispersed after the tree lighting. We returned to our car and drove home.




Company Christmas Party

Bob and I attended his company Christmas party this past Saturday eveninbg.  The company Christmas party is a function that I look forward to.  The companionship of friends, the Christmas decorations, a festive atmosphere and entertainment go a long way toward getting me into the holiday spirit.

As we entered the company’s recreation center, we dropped off a bag of non-perishable food items in one of the collection boxes located inside the building. Bob’s company is having a food drive to help those less fortunate. The food collected will be given to the Salvation Army for distribution locally in time for Christmas.

We enjoyed the company of many friends, especially those who sat at our table. There were six seated at our table — Tom and Liz (Bob and Tom graduated high school together), Ron and his friend Angie, and Bob and I.

Tom and Liz

Angie and Ron

Bob and I
(Liz took this picture of the two of us.)

Of those sitting at our table, I knew only Ron and, of course, Bob.  Tom, Liz and Angie were friendly and sociable. We enjoyed a variety of conversation with those seated at our table. We socialized with friends at other tables as well.

Our dinner was prepared by Wells Hog Wild BBQ.  Appetizers were served at 6:00 PM and included veggie trays, smoked sausage and cheese platters and meatballs in BBQ sauce.   Shortly before dinner was served, the huge Christmas tree was lit and a word of prayer was said. Dinner was served shortly after 6:30 PM.  The banquet table was filled with delicious entrees of beef, chicken and pork as well as side dishes of mixed green salad & dressing, dinner rolls and butter, corn, baked beans, and red potatoes.   For dessert we had a selection of different flavored cupcakes from Fifth Avenue Cake Works.  The chocolate cupcake with peanut butter icing was delicious!  The bottom of the cupcake was a flat cookie, an Oreo I think.  Inside the cupcake was a miniature Reese’s peanut butter cup.

Christmas carols were provided by the Warren Area High School Madrigal Choir under the direction of Rob Pearce.

WAHS Madrigals Performance

After the Madrigal Choir’s performance, we were entertained by Stand-up Comedian Vic Henley.  Mr. Henley was funny; there was much laughter throughout his performance.

The show was followed by the music of Logan Black of Pitch Black DJ Service.  Everyone at our table left the party soon after the music started. Neither Bob nor I dance. We find it difficult to talk over the music, so we always leave the party soon after the music starts.

We received unexpected news during the party.  In addition to having Christmas Day off work, Bob and his coworkers will have the day after Christmas off, with pay, as well!  It is not unusual for the company for which Bob works to give its employees the day before or the day after Christmas off, when Christmas falls on a Tuesday or a Thursday.  I can’t remember employees having the day off after Christmas, when Christmas Day falls on a Wednesday!


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