I like to take a little time and look back on the year that is coming to an end. I like to think of it as not something that has ended, but that I have reached a new beginning. This past year was a fairly decent year; we had some sad times - my father-in-law's
passing the end of April after a battle with cancer being the biggest blow. We also had many good times spent with family and friends filled with much laughter.
I made a resolution last year to spend more time in my kitchen. The year prior I had started to notice I was spending less and less time there, and my kitchen is a happy place for me. I needed to get back to that place. I feel I accomplished that goal!
In fact I spent so much time there that my oven blew up! :) I got a new oven in October. It entered my kitchen as a stranger, but already it is a friend. I have only one complaint about this new friend - one of its features was the "new" aqua-lift technology
cleaning feature. I was assured that this oven would come clean in so much shorter of a time and with such ease. I feel I was greatly misled. I don't consider this feature to be a self-cleaning feature. It sounds simple enough; pour 2 cups of water (purified)
into the bottom of the oven and set to clean. Forty minutes later the buzzer sounds and then the real work begins. First you have to soak up all the excess water (about 2 cups) with a sponge. Then I squirt a little of the cleaner used to clean the glass
top and start scrubbing with a scotch brite pad. The directions caution you to not let any spill remain in your oven as it will then bake on and not come off as easily. After the first time I had to practically stand on my head to clean a small spill from
something I had baked, I will never allow a spill to sit - it was almost impossible to get that spill out and I cleaned it immediately! I guess you could say my new friend is a "dirty little friend"; or at least wants to be - but I won't let it.
I tried some new recipes this past year and most of them were well worth it. My favorite one is the turtle cheesecake. I've made it twice and it came out perfectly both times.
I had to work as a server one night at the restaurant. I learned that night that I am not cut out for that sort of work and I will try to avoid it from here on out. In the summer we have a car cruise-in with a DJ at the restaurant. Our DJ, Mike, was diagnosed
with ALS in April. His doctors have said he is one of the fastest progressing cases they have ever seen. In June we noticed there was something not quite right with him. By August he could hardly walk or talk. We held a benefit night for him to help him
and his family with some of his medical costs. While we were in the planning stages of that, we met and talked with another DJ who we will have run our shows next summer. He did not know Mike, but he called us and said he'd like to put together a car show
benefit for Mike. This man put out notice he was going to volunteer his DJ services and have a show to honor Mike. In less than a week he got the word out to everyone and it was amazing to see this "car community" come together. They were able to raise
over $500 just from the car crowd that came to the show! Then, a few weeks later we hosted our benefit in the restaurant. We were donating 25% of our sales between 5-9 pm to his family. The place was packed and our help was needed. We put our son-in-law
in the kitchen running the dishwasher; daughter, hubby and myself got to work clearing tables and bringing chips and salsa and drinks to the customers. I don't know how people can do that work for hours on end. I did it for four hours and was totally exhausted!
It was well worth it, though, as we were able to donate over $700 to his family.
My son got to come home for a nice visit in July. He was here for 10 days and those 10 days were some of my happiest of the year! To have the family together day after day was pure heaven. The day he left it was a rainy, cloudy day - exactly how I felt
inside. He pulled out of the driveway in his big truck, packed to the gills with all of the stuff he did not take with him when he left originally; including Paulie the Iguana. Paulie traveled 1500 miles and it didn't seem to bother him at all. He has adjusted
nicely to his new home with Steve. Sometimes I miss having that ol' lizard around. I'm looking forward to this summer when we make the trek to South Dakota to see him. I am so thankful we have cell phones, texting, Facebook, and all the other modern communication
technologies. At least it's easy to keep in touch.
My daughter and son-in-law are in the process of purchasing a home. Right around the corner from me - about a half mile away! It will be so nice to have them close by - not that they're that far now.
We had some fun times with friends this year as well. We managed to visit a number of wineries, breweries, and a few of our favorite restaurants. It's so nice to share these places with friends and family.
All in all - I have to say that if 2014 can be just as good as 2013 than it will be a pretty decent year. My prayer for the upcoming year is to keep my family and friends healthy and safe. Please give us time to spend together to share a laugh or two.
I want to keep in mind that every day should be treated as a blessing as if it were Christmas. There is no reason that we should only think of kindness, togetherness, and well-being to fellow mankind on just one day a year. In closing - I want to wish each
and every one of you a Happy and Healthy New Year filled with time enjoyed with family, friends, and good food!