Friday, December 19, 2014

Spot's First Christmas by Eric Hill

Today we read Spot's First Christmas to Hazel Nina. It was published the year her daddy was born, and the year her mummy was the same age as she is now. This is one of a series of the most terrific books for little ones. It offers that treat of reading treats, the little surprise when you lift the flap.

We have all of the Spot books and read them over and over to Margaret and Michael when they were young. Sadly, Mr. Hill died this year at the age of 86, but his books are timeless and I'm sure will be read by coming generations of children. 

Hazel Nina took her reading very seriously. As she gets older she'll see the humor and the warmth, but today she really concentrated on what she was doing. 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Today's poem by May Sarton

December Moon

Before going to bed
After a fall of snow
I look out on the field
Shining there in the moonlight
So calm, untouched and white
Snow silence fills my head
After I leave the window.

Hours later near dawn
When I look down again
The whole landscape has changed
The perfect surface gone
Criss-crossed and written on
Where the wild creatures ranged
While the moon rose and shone.

Why did my dog not bark?
Why did I hear no sound
There on the snow-locked ground
In the tumultuous dark?

How much can come, how much can go
When the December moon is bright,
What worlds of play we'll never know
Sleeping away the cold white night
After a fall of snow.

May Sarton (1912-1995)

Sunday, December 7, 2014


Yesterday Margaret and Matthew gave a party to celebrate Hazel Nina’s first birthday, and Tom’s sixty-fourth birthday. Margaret asked Tom to make his specialty, spanakopita, and it shall be today's contribution to Weekend Cooking at Beth Fish Reads.


1 box phyllo (from the dictionary - can be spelled 
filo pastry, phyllo, fillo) dough
This is what we always use
2 10-ounce packages of frozen chopped spinach
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1/2 pound feta cheese, crumbled
1 1/4 cups grated cheese. Tom used Cheddar, Parmesan, and Romano.
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup olive oil - more or less depending on how much you need to brush onto the phyllo dough

If your dough is in the freezer, remove it and put it in the refrigerator overnight. 
The next day unwrap and unroll the sheets so they are in a pile like a stack of paper.

Thaw spinach, and cook until tender. Drain and press to remove water.

Sauté onions in olive oil until tender, and then stir in cooked spinach until most of the moisture from the spinach has evaporated.

In a large bowl mix the cheeses. Add the spinach/onion mix. Add beaten eggs and mix well.

Grease 10-inch x 15-inch pan with olive oil.

Place 2 sheets of phyllo into the pan and using a pastry brush, brush lightly with olive oil. Repeat twice more until 6 sheets are on the bottom.

Put about a third of the cheese/spinach/egg mix on top, and spread it around. 

Then repeat whole process twice more.

Add two sheets of phyllo, brushed with oil, and then two more, brushed with oil for the very top.

Bake in preheated 375º F. oven until golden brown, about half an hour. 

This was a huge hit at the party!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Today's picture/When I'm Sixty-Four

Grandchild on his knee. Not 'Vera' but Hazel Nina! On December 5, Grampy turned 64 and Hazel Nina turned 1. Miracle of miracles.

Monday, December 1, 2014

A Year of Afternoon Gardens - December

I can't believe that a year has gone by, and this is the twelfth afternoon garden. I wanted to have Sadie in one of the photos and she and Tom finally made it today! She turned 10 in October, and though a little lame, she happily walks around outdoors and has a great appetite. Those of you who are longtime readers may recall that Sadie likes only four people, Tom and I, and Margaret and Michael. We all wondered how she would react to Margaret's baby - if she would think that Hazel Nina was an extension of her mother, but no. Sadie gets a look in her eye that is not at all friendly. Our solution is that she goes into the laundry room when we take care of Hazel. There's a really plush little rug that Tom's mum gave us, and we put on a fan to block noise, and she happily snoozes the hours away. When Hazel Nina naps upstairs in the crib, Sadie comes into the whole downstairs for that time. It has worked beautifully. We've always done this anyway when visitors come. All we say to her is 'quick, quick' and she heads right into the laundry room. She's so intelligent that I think she knows we are saving her from herself.

We had a little snow around Thanksgiving but nothing like the rest of the state had. Today was in the mid-thirties, and rather dark. But not dreary. There is no dreary weather now that we have our wonderful grandchildren.

Today Margaret and Hazel dropped in, and Hazel met the Santa that Tom's aunt gave us many years ago. She immediately started chattering away to him.

And then she 'helped' put the angel on the tree. It's not at all fancy - just something Tom and I picked up in a store a long time ago, but like so many familiar Christmas items, it is beloved by all of us. Michael and Margaret would alternate years of putting it on the tree. And now Hazel Nina and Campbell Walker can carry on the tradition.