Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

A Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year

December 31, 2016
All 4 of us

From all 14 of us and another on the way

Nothing could make me happier than to have all of our family together to celebrate any time of the year. They have all rallied around me during this year of unknown health issues. We still don’t know what 2017 will bring for my MDS treatment. December was all about Christmas, our family and togetherness.img_2200

For those who ask, I feel fine. The 27 days of isolation at MD Anderson did not show any instant improvement, but my oncologist is hopeful. I will see him again next week and we’ll know more.img_2536-002December 22, 2016 found all 14 of us in our home in Missouri City, Texas. We all are wearing crowns from the poppers we enjoy at our turkey dinner.img_2224It’s all hands on deck preparing for dinner. Julie helps me prepare the turkey, Troy is our tester and carver, Todd is the potato peeler and masher, and Tommy and Michelle prepare the green bean bundles, Madison helped me with the pies, Holly, Lindsey and Sydney got the table set and then Scott led the clean-up after dinner. Tyler and Ashton kept Thompson occupied while everyone else was busy.11gfccjufvcuhlzhql361nlcofhzzpolrjvz_c7csrtcxrnoq3i-wj4udce3gwlca74shnkezffvtaandhk1cgapwqeq30dmsrhhpjmjzg_pyy203jyihseljncqpo-7clrhr18w1043-h782-no-002My three grandsons. Tyler soon to turn 17, Ashton soon to turn 9, and Thompson is 18 months old. He is expecting a brother in early April 2017. We will then have 4 grandsons and 3 granddaughters. Oh, how blessed can we be?img_0886

And our granddaughters helping to make my mom’s Ginger Cookie recipe. They are Lindsey, 13 years old, Madison, 19 years old and Sydney 11 years old. They all love to cook and sew. Oh, lucky me.img_0896-002

With the exclusion of Tyler, here we all are in the new hammock Tommy bought me. We have always had a lot of fun in hammocks with our grandchildren. I’m not sure Thompson has caught on to the fun and thrills.img_2140-002

And here’s my man. I have loved him since I was in high school. What would I do without him with all the trips to MDA. He spends endless hours there with me waiting, waiting, waiting. Through thick and thin, sickness and health, we have been married for 50 years.img_2216

Our girls love him, too. Holly and Julie have been a great support to both of us during the last two years of cancer treatment.img_2177

And our older son, Todd, comes from Dallas often to be with us for hospital and doctor visits.

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Our younger son, Troy, and family come from Long Beach, California often to love and care for us.

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And even my only son-in-law visits me in the hospital and checks on how I’m doing. As I’ve said so often, “Family is the best.”image1-002

And it keeps growing. Tyler is Todd and Julie’s son, but he has always aspired to being as tall as his Uncle Troy. I think he has just about made it this year. He has passed his dad in height, but will he pass Troy in 2017? There’s so much to look forward to.

My wish to you is many happy days this coming year. Just look for those times. They are there even amongst the trying times. Happy New Year everyone. I love you all, Judyimg_4452

Day 14 of 28 in Isolation

November 19, 2016

 

Yes, my isolation at MD Anderson Hospital is half over. Before I could enter my room I had to take a shower with a product that is used before surgery. Then I covered-up with a disposable robe, mask, head and shoe covering. Once I entered my isolation room I could throw away all the outer coverings and be in my normal clothes with slippers or non-skid socks. I haven’t left my room since.

I don’t have a shower or a flushable toilet in my room. Each day I bathe with warm, disposable moist cloths. I wash my hair in the sink. I feel clean. I have never cared for camping, but several people have told me it’s much like camping.img_3413

Family and friends are not allowed to enter my room unless they are on staff here at MD Anderson. I have had plenty of family and friends visit through a double paned window in the family room that connects to my room. I love their visits.

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Hi from me.

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Hello back from Holly.

For those who do not know my situation, here’s an explanation. In 2006 I was diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS). This is cancer of the bone marrow and a precursor to Leukemia. To date I still am diagnosed with MDS.

Until March 2015, my MDS was not advanced enough to require treatment. I was under the infrequent care at MD Anderson, but my internist monitored my blood counts in between those visits. Bone marrow produces white blood cells which controls your immune system, red blood cells, which produces your oxygen, and platelets, which coagulates your blood and keeps you from bleeding internally as well as externally.

My first chemo treatment was part of a clinical trial taking Decitabine by tablet. After four months of treatment the drug  started working. Then I had seven months without transfusions. Unfortunately, we came to a dead-end. What a disappointment. It was back to frequent platelets transfusions again. Then I started a low dose of Decitabine given intravenously along with Promacta by tablet to try to raise my Platelet count. It didn’t work.

In the meantime we had an orientation at MD Anderson and Methodist Hospital for a stem cell transplant. A search went on to find a match for me for a stem cell donor. Several potential donors were found with a 10 out of 10 match. However, after two different bone marrow aspirations and a biopsy, it was determined I am not a candidate at this time for a transplant.

Instead I was put in the hospital in isolation to receive two different kinds of chemo that completely wiped out my bone marrow. So on Day 14 I have no bone marrow which means no immune system. Everyone who enters my room is covered from head to toe with disposable gown, head, and shoe coverings and a mask. I have to recognize people by their eyes, stature and voice.

staff

My nurses today. The nursing staff is kind and caring.

Amazingly, the first two weeks have not been bad. I am an introvert so I get my energy by being alone. I love being with people and out and about, but like a true introvert have to retreat to solitude to be energized again. I get plenty of people contact from 5 AM until 11 PM each day. Nurses, doctor, room service, vital sign taker, and housekeeping are in and out of my room all day long.

My room, #1272, is great. It’s one of two very large rooms with a double window on the twelfth floor . There is a stationary bike, lounge chair, desk chair with desk, a rocking chair, bedside table, and bed in my room. I have made it as much like home as possible.

I stay busy with Quilts, Inc. office work through deliveries and via the internet, crafting projects, watching “The Crown” on Netflix, FaceTime with my younger grandchildren, text messaging, journaling and all the hospital stuff. The time has gone by swiftly.

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Embroidery I finished while in isolation.

 

Mail delivery and visitors have been a highlight during the day. I love the cards and fun things that have been delivered to my room.

 

I receive platelets and/or blood transfusions almost daily now. I am attached to a pump by a PICC line in my arm 24/7 that administers the transfusions and constant fluids. It doesn’t hurt. I just go about my day and night with “Tagalong” always by my side.

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Tagalong

 

Today I missed a second A & M game in College Station with my husband. It made me a little weepy the first one I missed, but today my son-in-law came to visit during the game time.

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My husband at the A&M game without me.

 

 

Our daughter and our older son’s wife will decorate our house for Christmas before I get home on December 3. They have pictures to follow in each of the boxes for each vignette. If you go back to my blog post on December 2014, you’ll get a preview of how it will look. I do the same thing every year with only a few minor changes.

From Our House to Yours

From Our House to Yours

 

I look forward to all our family being together and celebrating Christmas on December 22. Here they are all gathered at our home the day before I came into the hospital. What a wonderful family. Troy, our younger son, comes from Long Beach, California again tomorrow for a visit. Todd, our older son, who lives in Dallas, will be back again on Tuesday.img_3355-002

As I’ve said so many times, “Family is the best!” My prayer is that this treatment will work and I can be in remission to spend time with them and you, too, my friends. Much love and good wishes to you and yours. God is good. Judy

 

 

 

 

Merry Christmas, Dear Friends

December 25, 2015
family

Our Family Christmas Celebration on December 22

From left to right are as follows:

Julie, Todd, Tyler and Madison Murrah

Scott, Lindsey, Holly, and below her are Sydney and Ashton Huebner

Troy, Michelle, and Thompson Murrah

Judy and Tommy

What could be better than having all of our family together for a Christmas celebration. Troy, Michelle and Thompson came in from Long Beach a week before we celebrated Christmas in our home.

thom

Grammy and Thompson

I held Thompson every chance I got before the rest of our family arrived. Michelle and Troy are very generous with letting Thompson be held by everyone. If he was awake, we were playing with him, holding him, and enjoying his chatter, smiles, and laughter.

granddaughters

Granddaughters in the Kitchen

Everyone, except Thompson, helped out in the kitchen. As my mom always said, “Many hands make light work.” All thirteen of us had a hand in preparing or cleaning-up. It seemed a little hectic at times, but I enjoy having everyone doing their part and being together.

pies

Requested Pies

We had the traditional turkey dinner topped off with the requested pies. Troy, Holly, and I like Chocolate Meringue. Julie, Todd and Tyler like Apple, and Lindsey requested Lemon Meringue pie. None of it went to waste. Ginger cookies and Sugar cookies are also a must. Troy took the last of the Ginger cookies when he left to go to the airport. He and Julie said they were the best batch I had ever made.

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Julie and Todd with Stockings

Even though we celebrate our Christmas a few days before December 25th, we still have our traditions. The first thing, after we hear Santa’s sleigh bells, is to see what’s in our stockings.

Thompson

Thompson’s First Christmas

It was so special to have Thompson with us for his first Christmas. I made his stocking as I have all the other thirteen. I spent one day enjoying every design element and stitch for our youngest grandchild. The block T is prevalent as we called him “Baby T” before he was born.

grandchildren

Our Six Grandchildren

Nothing could make me happier than to have been blessed with these six grandchildren. Each one is so special. From left to right they are:

Lindsey Huebner, Madison Murrah, Tyler Murrah, Sydney Huebner, Thompson Murrah, and Ashton Huebner. They range in age from 18 years to 6 months. What a great bunch. After picture-taking time, it was time to open gifts under the tree.

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Annual Football Game Team

When our children were growing-up we celebrated Christmas Day at Tommy’s parents home. His sister and her husband and three children were there, too.  There was always a football game in their front yard no matter your age or your gender. We love tradition. So true to memory-making, a football game was organized in front of our house. Several of us were spectators as others cleaned-up the kitchen.

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Basketball Team

Since we have a basketball court in our back yard, there is always a game between Tyler and Troy. Each year I take a picture of them next to each other to watch Tyler grow. He would love to make it to over 6 feet tall, like his uncle. Ashton and Thompson joined the fun this year.

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Grammy and Grandchildren Tea Party

When Madison was a tiny girl we had many pretend tea parties. When she was three years old I bought a Spode Christmas Tree child’s tea set. That Christmas we had a real tea party to learn tea manners. When Tyler was about that same age, he wanted to join us because he liked the idea of sugar cubes in his tea. Since then each of the grandchildren have participated. Thompson joined us this year with a little help from his daddy. Besides tea, we have poppers and enjoy the crowns, trivia questions and Charades game inside.

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Star Wars Movie

Troy, Michelle, and Thompson left on December 23. The rest of the family stayed until Christmas Eve morning. After Troy and family left for the airport, the big kids wanted to play Laser Tag, go to dinner and then to the movies to see Star Wars. It was a great ending to another Christmas celebration.

Warm holiday wishes from my heart to yours with love, Judy

 

Saturday’s Simple Recipe Page 17 Pecan Pie

November 28, 2015

My husband and I started our Thanksgiving dinner preparations at 6:30 AM on Thursday. We were ready to sit down to dinner at 1:30, shortly after our  daughter and her family arrived. As a friend of mine said, “You still have to prepare everything no matter if your group is large or small.” We were happy to have one of our families with us. It was extra nice to have Lindsey, Sydney, and Ashton stay with us for a couple of days when their mommy and daddy left after dinner.

huebners

The Huebners with Grammy and Granddaddy

We served a Honey Baked Ham, Cheesy Potatoes, Green Bean Bundles, Jello Salad, and Sister Shubert rolls. We didn’t make the traditional turkey or pumpkin pie. I made Pecan Pie and Lemon Meringue Pie, which are more popular with this group.

Pecan Pie

My sister, Suzanne, comes for a treasured visit each summer, and we sew and cook. She usually brings a new recipe for us to try. She’s a great cook, and I love her Pecan Pie recipe. It’s so easy.

Ingredients

Ingredients

Ingredients

¾ cup sugar

2 tablespoons flour

1 cup white Karo

2 eggs

2 tablespoons of butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup whole pecans

Instructions

Blend sugar and flour in a bowl. Add other ingredients one at a time, mixing with a spoon. Pour into unbaked pie shell and bake for 50 minutes at 350 degrees. It should be done when a knife inserted comes out clean. Be careful not to over bake.

Pecan Pie

Pecan Pie ready to serve

If you plan to enter my Christmas recipe and/or project contest, please note the deadline is December 1. I will post the winners that day. Two lucky winners will receive a pack of 24 Christmas fat quarters. Good luck.

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Stack of 24 Fat Quarters

Good luck with your Christmas shopping and decorating, too. All our Christmas lights went up and on today. I love Christmas lights.

From Our Home to Yours

From Our Home to Yours

Tomorrow, after church, we have a friend from the Quilts, Inc. office coming to help us with putting up decorations in our house. We have a group of 44 people from church coming for a sit-down dinner next Saturday. Should start off the Christmas season for us in a special way.

Make your week special. Hugs, Judy

 

A Prize Awaits You!

November 23, 2015

We are completing our trip to Long Beach today, and it will be full steam ahead tomorrow. I have an appointment at MD Anderson at 8 tomorrow morning, and then I’ll go to the Quilts, Inc. office for the remainder of the day.

We’ve had a great time with our son and his little family at Disneyland, the Long Beach Aquarium, and Rancho Los Alamitos and lots and lots of eating at great restaurants.

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Troy, Michelle, and Thompson Murrah

My thoughts are turning to Thanksgiving and then Christmas decorating to start next Monday. We have a big, sit-down dinner for 40 Sunday school members at our home on December 5. Our other son’s wife, Julie, is coming to help us decorate early next week.

Table Next to Sofa

Table Next to Sofa

I’m thinking of the contest challenge I gave you a week ago to send your best Christmas project or recipe. I’ve heard from a few of you. Some have sent their entry to my email address as they did not want it to show-up on my blog. If you’d like to use my email for your project or recipe, feel free to do so. My address is judym@quilts.com. Remember there’s a prize for our favorite. It’s a bundle of fat quarters for each category.

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Stack of 24 Fat Quarters

I hope to hear from a few more of you. The deadline is Tuesday, December 1.

Happy Holidays to all. Love and hugs, Judy

Saturday’s Simple Recipe Page 15 Meringue

November 14, 2015

The party’s over, but my studio is still suffering from the projects before and after Quilt Market and International Quilt Festival. I’m embarrassed to say that I just move things over or onto the floor or another table to make room to create.

studio

Messy Studio

The shows were full of color, classes, shopping, events, and friends. Whenever I could, I spent time in classes taught by Julie Craig from Wichita, Kansas, where she has a dreamy Attic Heirlooms Needlework Shop. She never stops coming up with new ideas using patchwork, trinkets, trims, buttons, and lace. I love all her classes. I had the opportunity to take her big “Crazy Tomato Pincushion” class. Students love Julie’s classes. Everything you need is provided in a kit. Often the machine sewing is done for you before class, so you can start creating immediately.

tomato

Crazy Tomato Pincushion

Maria Shell, from Alaska, taught for International Quilt Festival for the first time this fall. I enjoyed spending Saturday in her “Blogging for Beginners” class. She taught us a few tricks for streamlining our blogs or starting one. I enjoyed the interaction with group discussion and one-on-one consultation with Maria.

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Class Catalog

My thoughts now are focusing on the holiday season. I put some new Christmas items in my etsy shop today including Christmas stockings. I hope you will take a look.

stockings

Stockings made from a Vintage Quilt

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Red and Green Patchwork Stockings

It’s time to get out my boxes of Christmas fabrics, trims, and ephemeral to create more. My sister wants me to make stockings out of this crazy quilt vest. Should be fun to do.

vest

Crazy Quilt Vest

What will you be creating for the Christmas holidays? Will it be a special recipe or a new project?

For Thanksgiving and Christmas, I always make two or three pies. Everyone has their favorite. At least one of them will be topped with meringue using my mother’s recipe.

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People told my mom she should make pies to sell because she was a superb pie maker. It took me many tries before I could make a good. tall meringue. 

Ingredients

3 egg whites

¼ tsp. cream of tartar

½ cup sugar

Instructions

Separate egg whites from yolks. Let set out at room temperature while you make pie. Beat egg whites on high speed with heavy mixer and blade. Add cream of tartar once you have started mixing. When egg whites are just starting to get thick, slowly add sugar as whites are beating.

Continue beating until soft peaks form. Stop beater when you think meringue is ready, and lift with spatula. If peaks remain for a couple of seconds, then it is ready. It’s hard to over beat, but very easy to under beat the egg whites.IMG_2051

Spread on pie filling all the way out to crust with spatula. Lift meringue with spatula to form peaks.

Place on middle rack in pre-heated oven set to 350 degrees. Check after 10 minutes that it is lightly brown all over. If not, bake up to 15 minutes total.

Try making meringue for your cream pie. Your family will be so impressed with the magic you create for their Christmas dinner.

Christmas Table

Christmas Table set for 14

I have an idea. I think it would be fun to share your favorite holiday recipe or Christmas project with our friends on my blog. What do you think?

I’ve created two stacks of 24 fat quarters of Christmas fabric. I made them from a variety of some of my collectible Christmas fabrics. Some I couldn’t part with because I didn’t have enough to share. There were many that I had plenty of yardage and could share with you.

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Stack of 24 Fat Quarters

ready

Ready for a Creation

Send me your favorite holiday recipe or Christmas project. I will have a small committee to choose one of each as our favorites. The winners will receive one of the fat quarter bundles. If it’s OK with you, I will post the winners on my blog with reference to you. I’ll let you know the results on December 1, 2015.

Soon my husband and I will be going to Long Beach to see our younger son and his family. We haven’t seen our new grandson for two months. I know he has changed and grown so much. Can’t wait to kiss those fat cheeks and get all that sugar in his neck.

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Thompson Murrah

We will go to Disneyland while we’re there. I can’t wait. I was 14 years old the first time I went to Disneyland. I loved it then and still do. The photo below is me in the hat holding my nephew Jimmy D. My sister, Joanie, is holding his brother, Timmy. They are now in their 50’s. My mom is in the center. Family get-togethers are the best.

disneyland

First Visit to Disneyland

Make plans for some family or friend time. What could be more special? Blessings and hugs to you all, Judy

 

 

Saturday’s Simple Recipe Page 10 Jello Fruit Salad

September 26, 2015

When Troy, Michelle, and Thompson were here for a visit recently, we went through old photographs of my family. It was interesting to see history repeat itself. My daddy was six feet tall. That was tall for a man born in 1912. My mom wasn’t quite five feet tall.

Mom and Dad

Mom and Dad in Love

Troy, our younger son, is 6’3″ tall. Michelle, his wife, is not quite five feet tall.

Troy

Troy & Michelle in Love

I love family photographs and family traditions. For many years everyone in the family came to Mom’s house for Thanksgiving Day. It was not unusual for her to welcome thirty-six people in her home. My husband’s parents joined us the years they did not go to College Station for the A & M vs. Texas game.

Mom’s Red Jello Fruit Salad was always on the menu for Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve. Our children grew to expect it for holiday dinners. When Mom moved from her home to independent living, we no longer celebrated in her home. It was time for me to make these holiday dinners for our family.

It’s rare now that we have Thanksgiving dinner in our home, as none of our family is here. Everyone does come together for a few days before Christmas for our Christmas dinner. Red Jello Fruit Salad is on the menu. One or more of our grandchildren is usually on hand to help me make it. Julie, Lindsey, and Tommy are the biggest fans of Red Jello Fruit Salad. They always have more than one helping.

Red Jello Fruit Salad

Ingredients

Following ingredients can be doubled easily to serve more than 8 people.

1  six oz. pkg. of strawberry Jello

1 can 15 oz. fruit cocktail (drained)

1 yellow banana (firm)

Cool Whip for topping

jello

Jello Ingredients

Instructions

Use the following speed method for making jello in a mixing bowl that is heat-resistant.

Dissolve gelatin mix in 1 1/2 cups of boiling water. Add 3 cups of ice cubes. Stir into jello until slightly thickened. Remove any  ice pieces that didn’t melt.

Fold-in drained fruit cocktail and sliced bananas. Pour into a pretty bowl.

Put  in refrigerator to congeal completely. When ready to serve, top with Whipped Cream. Mom made the real thing. My family is just as happy with Cool Whip added to their own helping.

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Jello Fruit Salad

I made jello fruit salad for our dinner last night. Tommy grilled steaks and fixed everything else. He takes good care of me. I am so thankful to have him. He brought this heart home as a surprise for me recently. I hung it in my studio and look at it every day.

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Brave Girl

Tomorrow will be a month since my last blood transfusion. In the last 6 months this is the longest I’ve gone without a transfusion. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that when I’m at MD Anderson for my weekly appointment on Tuesday, the news will continue to be good. When I saw my oncologist, Dr. Garcia-Manero, this month he said the chemo is working on my MDS. I see him again on October 12. I should start the sixth round of chemo that day.

The good news is I won’t be on chemo when I move downtown for Quilt Market and Quilt Festival on October 23. Will you be there? I would love to see you. I usually can be found on the third floor of the George Brown Convention Center. That’s where the classes, lectures, luncheons, and special events take place. Come by for a hug and a chat. Until we meet again, blessings to you and your family, Judy

 

Saturday’s Simple Recipe Page 6 French Toast

August 29, 2015

It’s Saturday evening and I haven’t sent your recipe for this week. But it’s still coming. My goal today was to finish one of the three garments I need to make for the Houston Quilt shows.

We have many fabulous fabric manufacturers who are exhibitors at Quilt Market. Two or three of them donate fabrics each year for the members of the Education team to make garments to wear on the same days. This all began when my first book, Jacket Jazz, was published. For many years, I wore garments from my books, and many of our staff did the same. When I finished writing this series of books and teaching, I quit making garments until last year. It has been fun to create these show garments again. The one I finished today is made from a jelly roll of fabric strips by Robert Kaufman. Jennifer Sampou is the designer. A pattern company,  Indygo Junction by Amy Barickman, donated our patterns of choice from her line. I chose the Gathered Back Top & Tunic pattern for this fabric. I’ll wear it with black tights.

Strip Pieced Tunic

Strip Pieced Tunic

Now that my first show garment is complete, it’s time to give you the recipe for this week. A book of family requested recipes could not be complete without my French Toast. I learned how to make it while watching my mother as I grew-up. There are much fancier ways to create French Toast, but most everyone in our family loves Grammy’s the best.

Holly and Julie getting a Lesson

Holly and Julie Getting a Lesson at Christmas

Once, Troy ate 8 pieces at one time when he was home from college. I think that’s the record. Madison has loved Grammy’s French Toast passionately since the first time I made it for her. Now Lindsey is just as great a fan. Ashton, Tyler, and Sydney get caught-up in the excitement, but they aren’t fans like Madison and Lindsey. They all enjoyed French Toast during our “children only” Christmas Tea last December

Christmas Tea

Christmas Tea

Grammy’s French Toast

Ingredients

White bread from the grocery store

2 eggs

1/3-1/2 cup milk

Dash of salt

1 teaspoon Vanilla (The secret ingredient)

Butter

White sugar

This will make 5-6 pieces. Just double it for more.

Instructions

I make mine in an electric skillet. I can use other skillets, if necessary, but really prefer my electric skillet.

Beat together eggs and milk in pie pan. Stir in salt and vanilla.

Melt butter in heated skillet. Quickly coat bread in batter on both sides. Place in skillet. When slightly brown on one side, turn and brown on other side. Add more butter if bread sticks to skillet. Remove to plate when brown on both sides. Butter one side and sprinkle with white sugar. Eat while hot.

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Waiting for French Toast

If you have a leisurely Sunday morning, you might want to try my recipe. Try topping it with plain white sugar before you pull out the powdered sugar or maple syrup. That’s the way we like it. Have a great day. Hugs and sugar, Judy

 

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And Baby T. Murrah Makes Fourteen

June 13, 2015

Family gatherings have always been important to Tommy and me. Our parents were fortunate that all of their children chose to live in Texas after they married and started their own families. Until my mother went into an assisted living facility she always had Thanksgiving at her home in San Antonio. We had as many as 38 people sit down to dinner in her home. We spent every Christmas Eve with my mother and Christmas Day was spent at Tommy’s parents’ home with his sister and family. It was a family tradition.

Christmas Day at Murrah's Home

Christmas Day at Murrah’s Home

We try to get our children and their families together at Christmas time at least for a few days. Most years, like the last two, we have had everyone in our home together for our family Christmas. We play card games, look at old family photos, have traditional turkey dinner lunch, tamales and chili another night,  put together the Christmas toys, play baseball in the backyard, reminisce about years gone by, etc. These are my happiest days all year-long. Last year was especially exciting with the anticipation of a new baby in the family. Troy and Michelle were expecting their first child in late May 2015. Ashton was our last baby, and he was soon to be 7 years old. So we were all ready for another baby.

Murrah Family 13 Strong

Murrah Family 13 Strong

Troy and Michelle live in Long Beach, California, so we had to rely on pictures, texts and emails letting us know about their baby to come. We started a group text with our family members when Troy was ready to take Michelle to the hospital on her due date.

Michelle Ready for Hospital

Michelle Ready for Hospital

We all waited for any kind of word or any pictures of Baby T. It was difficult not to be there as Tommy and I have been present at the birth of all of our other five grandchildren. Finally the word came that Michelle had delivered an 8 lb. 4 oz., 20″ long baby boy on June 1. She is only 5 feet tall so this was a big baby for her to carry and deliver.

Baby T. Is Here

Baby T. Is Here

Soon more pictures started coming in. We all wished we could actually be there in California and share in the joy of Troy’s first-born. He’s 40 years old so he’s waited a long time to hold a son in his arms. Thank you, Michelle.

Our First Glimpse of the New Murrah Family

Our First Glimpse of the New Murrah Family

It seemed like an impossibility for me to travel to California at this time as I was in my second cycle of chemo treatment for MDS. I was taking chemo by tablet, but under the supervision of hospital staff. I thought I’d have to be at MD Anderson for six days straight as I had been for the first cycle. Surprisingly, on day 3 I found out that the last three days of the cycle I could take the tablets on my own. I was free from the hospital Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. I started scheming. Holly, our daughter, said to count her in. So Tommy made hotel reservations and Holly flight reservations so we could fly to LA on Saturday morning, June 6, and get back home again at midnight on Monday, June 8. It was our little window of time. It wasn’t much time, but we wanted to be with our son, Michelle and Baby.

Our First Picture of Troy with Baby T.

Our First Picture of Troy with His Son

We thought we’d get to see the little family at their home in Long Beach, but then learned the baby wasn’t going to be released from the hospital for 5 days. Michelle had a fever during labor and as a precaution, they wanted to keep the baby in the hospital and give him antibiotics. He wouldn’t come home from the hospital until the day we were leaving. Troy asked us to please come out any way. So we did. How could we not see this little guy as a new-born?

Sweet Little Features

Sweet Little Features

T. was in ICU so only one of us could go in to see him at a time with either Troy or Michelle. Troy took me in first. I held him for an hour taking in all his precious features. Life was so good. Such happiness and love overwhelmed me. I wanted to take that feeling back to Texas with me. Our time with him was so short.

Such a Precious Time

Such a Precious Time

We set-up our own little area in the waiting room near a wall of windows anxiously waiting for the next chance to see and hold the baby. We played cards, read, talked, ate, walked around one at a time, etc. We didn’t want to miss any opportunity to have our turn with Baby T.

Waiting

Waiting Our Turn

Over those two days we each got a couple of turns to hold the baby.

Tommy

Tommy Gets a Turn

holly

Holly’s Turn

Our third and last day to be in California was the day T. was to go home. As the time went by, we didn’t think we would be able to see Troy and Michelle take their baby home. We had to be at the airport at 6:00 that evening. As we waited in the waiting room, Michelle and Troy did what was necessary to get their baby checked out of the hospital. It was 3:30. We’d just have a little bit of time to be with them at their home. It was an exciting time bringing baby home, and we were there.

Michelle, Troy, and T. in front of their Long Beach House

Michelle, Troy, and T. in front of their Long Beach House

Michelle and Troy could hold their baby without any monitors or IV’s attached. Michelle was so happy to have her baby home. Sweet Mommy and baby.

home

Michelle and Baby T at Home

Shortly after we got home, Michelle’s mom and dad and brothers, sister-in-laws and nephews arrived. It was a busy welcome home for T.

grandparents

Grandparents with the 3 Family Murrahs

I held T. until the last possible second. With tears and good-byes, I had to hand him off to Michelle’s mom. I will hold his precious face and gentle soul in my heart until we meet again.

bye

Bye-bye Baby

We hope they will come to our home in Houston for Christmas 2015. Then we will have 14 Murrah family. Oh, happiest of days for Grammy and Granddaddy.

 

 

A Christmas Home Tour From Our Home to Yours

December 18, 2014
From Our Home to Yours

From Our Home to Yours

Since the first year my husband and I married, I have decorated for Christmas. Like most newlyweds in 1966, we were barely into our twenties and lived in a one-bedroom apartment.

I grew-up with a Daddy who loved Christmas as much as I do and was the chief decorator. He made a big production of buying our live tree and letting it set in water in the garage until the limbs had opened sufficiently. Then he’d untangle all those big, colorful bulbs and test them all until he had many brightly lit strings of lights to put on the tree. Naturally I assumed all husbands came equipped this same way.

I think that December 1966 was a rude awakening for this 23 year-old woman. My new husband did not have a clue how to properly put lights on a tree or how to prepare them before starting the task. And further more he really wasn’t interested. As our family grew it became a family tradition to decorate the tree together. We eventually bought an artificial tree with lights attached.

Fast forward many years and now my husband has assumed the task of getting the tree out and up and decorated. I hang a few ornaments here and there, but he meticulously decorates for days before it’s complete. I add the finishing touches and eventually all the empty ornament boxes go back to the attic. I love the Christmas tree.

Christmas Tree 2014

Christmas Tree 2014

And this year my husband bought a taller ladder so he could put an additional lighted tree on the inside ledge above our front door. He was determined to get it up there and positioned without calling an electrician to finish the job. He loves our house decorated and prepared for the kids to come home for Christmas as much as I do.

Tree Above Front Door

Tree Above Front Door

We did manage to get that first tree together and place a small, pretty angel at the top. She graced our tree through the birth of three children and through their college graduations. We retired her to a lower branch on the tree when we added a much larger and colorful angel. We still love our first tree top angel. We wouldn’t have Christmas without her on our tree.

Our First Christmas Angel

Our First Tree Top Christmas Angel

When I was 12 years old I received my last doll for Christmas. She was a Madam Alexander Crissy doll. I spotted her in the department store with my little brother on a Friday night. My mom and daddy were grocery shopping next door, and I could hardly wait to show them this glamorous doll. She was expensive for our family, and I wished with all my heart for her. I also had an older brother and two older sisters who were married with children. When I looked for the doll the next Friday night, she was gone. I was one sad little girl. I still wished and hoped for her.

On Christmas Eve, when we gathered around the Olafson Christmas tree, I spotted her red high heel shoes hanging on our Christmas tree. Can you imagine my excitement? My daddy made me wait until all the gifts were opened before he’d let me have those shoes. Then I had to follow a map he had created to find the doll that went with the shoes. My daddy died when he was only 51 years old, so this memory is very special to me. I still have the doll, and her shoes grace our tree every Christmas.

Crissy's Red High Heels

Crissy’s Red High Heels

For several years our dear, sweet friend Claudia Joines, came from Victoria for a couple of days to help us decorate for Christmas. She worked for an independent furniture store there where we bought a lot of items for our home. Claudia knew how to place everything in just the right spot. Sadly she died three years ago, and we weren’t sure how we could even get into the Christmas spirit without Claudia to bring in the season with us. We still miss her all through the year.

Judy and Claudia Decorating

Judy and Claudia decorating 2011

Thankfully, Kim DeCoste, my assistant at Quilts, Inc., came to the rescue as he often does. Now each year he comes for a day to work with us. He starts with the banister at the front entrance following exactly what Claudia had done when she was here. We are so grateful to Kim.

Welcome. Please Come in.

Welcome. Please Come in.

From the front entrance, Kim  goes to the dining room and decorates the light fixture over the table.  My joy is setting and dressing the table in a slightly different way each year. This year I extended the table so all 13 of us can sit at the same table. No one wants to be at the “kids’ table” any longer. Note the “poppers” at each place setting. Before we start eating our Christmas dinner everyone pops theirs simultaneously and then wears their paper crown throughout dinner.

Christmas Table set for 13

Christmas Table set for 13

We also do “poppers” at our Christmas Eve Day “children only” tea in the kitchen also. I started that tradition when our 17-year-old granddaughter was a year old to teach her tea manners. When her little brother came along, he wanted to join us because he liked the sugar cubes and other fancy treats. Now we have five grandchildren who participate. Next year we’ll have six. Oh, happy day!

Kim places decorative poinsettia and gold pine cones on top of the breakfront and the Spode Tea set on the lower shelf.

Breakfront Decorated

Breakfront in Dining Room

He decorates the buffet and mirror.

Buffet in Dining Room

Buffet in Dining Room

He places the Italian Crèche on top of my Mom’s china cabinet exactly as Claudia had done. Fortunately, we have photos to follow that we took when Claudia decorated. Each year, Tommy and I take pictures of all the vignettes around the house to follow for the next year. Some have stayed just as they were the last time Claudia decorated, but some have changes as I have retired many items and added some new.

Creche on Mom's China Cabinet

Crèche on Mom’s China Cabinet

We also decorate the living room, den, kitchen, great room upstairs and backyard. Following are some random shots of some highlights. It takes me the better part of a week to get everything the way I want it. Tweaking and handling special memories is my favorite part of Christmas decorating. So many things are gifts from friends which some they have made. You’ll note a repeating theme throughout of family pictures over the years, stockings, quilts, and nativity scenes.

Come on a little bird’s-eye tour. When we finish we’ll have sugar cookies and wassail which I make every Christmas. Just call me Martha Stewart.

Table in Entranceway

Table in Entryway

Corner Table in Living Room

Corner Table in Living Room

Washstand in Living Room

Washstand in Living Room

Pewter Creche in Living Room

Pewter Crèche in Living Room on Pie Safe

Coffee table in Living Room Waterford Creche

Coffee Table in Living Room Waterford Crèche

Entranceway to Den

Entry way Leads to Den

Thirteen Stockings Hanging with a tiny 14th one

Thirteen Stockings Hanging in Den

Bookcase Next to Mantel

Bookcase Next to Mantel

Den Coffee Table

Den Coffee Table

Wooden Santas Behind Sofa

Wooden Santas Behind Sofa

Table Next to Sofa

Table Next to Sofa

Toys at Window in Den

Toys at Window in Den

den

A Corner in the Den

Chilren's Desk in Den

Children’s Desk in Den which leads to Kitchen

In the Kitchen Island

In the Kitchen Island

Jim Shoar Creche at Kitchen Sink

Jim Shoar Crèche at Kitchen Sink

Butler's Pantry from Kitchen to Dining Room

Butler’s Pantry from Kitchen to Dining Room

Six years ago I made a recipe book of things I have made over the years that are family favorites. This year I  revised it with additional recipes the kids request and a new, updated cover. I have given you the recipe for the Sugar Cookies and Wassail I make each Christmas season.

Merry Christmas from Our Home to Yours

Family Favorites

Recipe Book of Our Family Favorites

Grammy’s Sugar Cookies

I make these cookies at least every Valentine’s Day and Christmas season. Our grandchildren love to participate, but it takes lots of time with their help.

This recipe is the one most people ask me to give to them. I got the recipe with some Tupperware cookie cutters when Tommy was a Lieutenant in the Army. We were stationed in Joliet, Illinois at the Army Ammunition Plant during the Viet Nam War. Lucky us he stayed at APSA for his whole tour of duty. Todd was born during this time…1967-1969.

Ingredients

Cream together:    1 cup margarine or butter

2 cups sugar

Blend in:                 2 whole eggs

Sift together and add to mixture:

1 tsp. salt

2 tsp. baking powder

4 C. flour

Add to mixture:    1 tablespoon vanilla

Instructions

Do not refrigerate. Divide into 3-4 balls. Roll one ball at a time. Use left-over dough from each rolling all together for last ball.

Roll out 1/8” thick on floured pastry cloth using a floured sock on rolling-pin. Cut with cookie cutters. Place on cookie sheet. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Cool on waxed paper.

Hot Wassail

I received this recipe in 1982 from the wife of the man Tommy replaced at First Victoria National Bank in Victoria. She served it to us in their home the first Christmas we were there. I’ve made it multiple times each Christmas since then. My son-in-law makes a joke about me offering it to everyone who comes in the house during the Christmas season. “Would you like some hot wassail?”

Ingredients

1 gallon apple cider

1 quart ginger ale

1 8 oz. package of cinnamon candies

8 cinnamon sticks

8 whole cloves

Instructions

Pour liquid into bottom of electric coffee maker. Combine remaining ingredients in the top basket.

Perk until ready.

Makes 30 cups.

wassail

Hot Wassail and Sugar Cookies for You

 

 


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