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Friday, December 26, 2014

Boxing Day

I always knew that the day after Christmas was called, "Boxing Day". ( Catholics celebrate the feast of St. Stephen on Dec. 26th as a minor holiday and not an obligatory day)

I mistakenly thought it was the day you  boxed up all the items that you hadn't used for a year or items that were still usable, but had been replaced with new Christmas gifts, were boxed up or bagged up and donated to a charitable organization. Whoa. Just read that, "Boxing Day" is the day that the servants got their gifts.
No servants in this house!

Anyhow, the day after Christmas has always been the other kind of Boxing Day in the Laughlin household. I went through every single drawer, closet and cabinet in the entire house- including all the boxes in the garage- and collected all the items that we really don't use. Bridget the Yorkie and I packed them all into the car and drove them over to the Salvation Army (which is about a 20 minute drive away) . This is a little nod to my friend, Rosita, who pointed out to me earlier this month that Salvation Army gives a higher percentage of the proceeds to the poor, as opposed to Goodwill (which is only 5 minutes away). Since gas is so cheap, I felt like I could drive the extra 17 minutes to take my donations to a place that will be better stewards of the donated dollar.

On the way, home, Bridget was whining for something yummy for lunch, and she cannot handle anything at Del Taco, so we drove through In N Out. She got a burger patty with no salt, and I got a protein style, extra pickles, mustard fried, no onion burger. YUM. She also got a couple of pets and exclamations "LOOK at this CUTE puppy!!! (she's 12) She is so ADORBS!" Well, yes, in her little plaid jacket and her cute little Christmas bow, she is exceptionally cute. The manager yelled at them to not pet her since they were handling food...well, my life has been covered in dog I can sort of sympathize. I don't enjoy dog hair in my food, and I supposed no one else would like it, either.

 We scarfed it down in the parking lot of Home Depot.

After sharing the french fries, we waddled into Home Depot to be stopped by pretty much every employee with a dog cookie, a pet, and other high-pitched exclamations of love for a darling Yorkie...and even some pets from some really surly-looking dudes pushing full carts of wood and paint products. Not me, of course, Bridget got all the petting! Ha ha ha!

Anyhow, we got home and decided it was time to plan for tonight's cocktail.

Oh, I forgot to tell you about the delicious cocktails from Christmas Day...

I made a wonderful drink for us called, French 75".

Last year, our son Chris, gave me a wonderful book called, "The Craft of the Cocktail". I LOVE this book! I have it on my kindle and the recipes, stories and photos really make this a great resource.

The French 75 was named after a French artillery piece. Rumor has it that Captain Harry S Truman told his men, just minutes before their French 75 guns rattled 75-millimeter shells at the Germans, " I'd rather be right here than be president of the United States!"

I had all the ingredients so I decided to try it as an afternoon cocktail on Christmas Day- between the breakfast Bloody Mary and the wine at dinner.

It's delicious!

In a cocktail shaker filled with ice:

1 shot of brandy
1/2 shot of fresh lemon juice
1/2 shot of simple syrup

and shake well.

Pour over ice, and top with Prosecco. STIR gently. Drink two or three of these before dinner.

Today, I decided on a 'Whisky Sour' for, l'heure de l'apéro or les happy hours" .  Oops, sorry, I've been reading my new cookbook, My Paris Kitchen. I am in love, once again, with all things French...well, except this cocktail- which is also amazing.

To a cocktail shaker full of ice add...

2 shots of whisky
1 shot of simple syrup
1 shot of fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons of cherry liquor (from either the maraschino cherry juice or Trader Joe's dark Morello Cherries, which is what I used)

Shake, shake, shake and pour over ice into a glass. Garnish with a lemon slice and a cherry- or not.

You will drink several of these! Quite good!

Anyhow, Boxing Day is over and we are happy that Christmas was a lovely day. Quiet, but lovely. We missed Pat and Chris and their wives, but I suspect that this will be the only quiet Christmas we will have for a while!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

O, Holy Night

Time for a Christmas Eve cocktail here at the Laughlin home!
The presents are wrapped, the meals planned for the next couple of days, and the house is clean and ready for Christmas!
We miss the family this year, but we are hoping to get in some skiing on Christmas morning. We'll get to the gifts and the Bloody Marys later in the day!
We are expecting snow tonight, which will be a lovely thing for our Christmas Day wake-up!
Here's wishing you a Holy Night tonight, and a blessed Christmas Day.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Two More Sleeps 'til Christmas

I know, I already wrote about how much I love the Muppets Christmas Carol, but I just can't help myself!
I love the song that Kermit (Bob Cratchit) sings to his family on Christmas paraphrase...

We are only, 'two more sleeps 'til Christmas' right now!

I told you that I've been trying to make a different cocktail each night of Advent- well, tonight, we had a fabulous cocktail I just had to share with you!

It is called, Planter's Punch and it's very easy to make...and dangerous to drink!

Here's the recipe...

3 ounces of spiced rum
1 ounce of lime juice
1 ounce of simple syrup
3 shakes of Angustura bitters

Mix together and serve over ice.


There magic in the air this evening
Magic in the air
The world is at her best, you know
When people love and care
The promise of excitement is one the night will keep
After all, there's only one more sleep til Christmas

The world has got a smile today
The world has got a glow
There's no such thing as strangers when
A stranger says "hello"
And everyone is family, we're having so much fun
After all, there's only one more sleep til Christmas

Tis the season to be jolly and joyous
With a burst of pleasure, we feel it all right
Tis the season when the saints can employ us
To spread the news about peace and to keep love alive

There's something in the wind today
That's good for everyone
Yes, faith is in our hearts today
We're shining like the sun
And everyone can feel it, the feeling's running deep
After all, there's only one more sleep til Christmas

Monday, December 22, 2014

The Way We Were

Light the corners of my mind
Misty watercolor memories
Of the way we were
Scattered pictures
Of the smiles we left behind
Smiles we gave to one another
For the way we were
Can it be that it was all so simple then?
Or has time rewritten every line?
If we had the chance to do it all again
Tell me, would we, could we?
May be beautiful and yet
What's too painful to remember
We simply choose to forget
So it's the laughter
We will remember
Whenever we remember
The way we were
The way we were

These past few days have been so much fun, filled with laughter, joy and blessings.
We have been so happy to host Teri, Kelli and Brenna as our guests at our home and to show them our little slice of paradise here in Nevada! 

We were talking about this today on our way up the Kingsbury Grade..."remember, when you say things like, 'someday, I'm gonna live near a ski resort, someday I'm gonna live in the mountains, someday, I'm gonna live near a lake...well, we did it!" 

We laughed today when there were 8 million people at Heavenly Mountain and we could say, " a crappy crowded day of skiing is better than the BEST day at work!" 

We are so happy that they could stay with us! It was beautiful,,,

We wish Jeff could have been here with us.

But...we remember. 

Friday, December 19, 2014

Simple Holiday Decor

Since we have moved to this much smaller home in Carson City, we've had to scale back on lots of 'stuff' for the house- which is not a bad thing. Goodwill has certainly benefited from our bounty!

I just have a couple of displays for the Santa collection....

The China hutch/bar....

The Hoosier cabinet with Nativity scene...(the Baby Jesus is in hiding until Christmas Eve!)

and a new one...the front door!

I saw this idea on a decor blog and loved it! I gave away my vintage Christmas tree card holder, since we didn't have room for it in this house. I was wondering where I could put the Christmas I have the perfect space! And, they add a little holiday cheer to the front door!

I finally decorated the tree. I usually wait a little longer, but I saw this fabulous gauzy fabric at Costco for an incredibly good price, so I decided to just make the tree look pretty.

I usually decorate the tree  with pretty and sparkly ribbons. I am usually partial to red, but I went with a light green fabric this year and I think it turned out just beautiful! All the ornaments are either handmade by the kids, friends and family or are gifts that we have been given over the years.

It is fun to look at the ornaments and remember who made them for us or gave them to us. We have one that our nieces Erin, Colleen and Tricia made as a fundraiser for soccer; one from an au pair, Claudia, who embroidered it our first Christmas in our house in Rancho Santa Margarita; one from my Aunt Loretta who died years ago and one from my sister-in-law, Carla. We have one that is the footprint of my godson, Michel; several from my former supervisor Mary Ann, and several from our friends Dan and Kathie. We have blue ones that say, "Baby's First Christmas 1982" and "Baby's First Christmas 1986". We have "First Christmas Together 1980". We have a whole hockey themed section that were all gifts. We have several from St. Cecilia's School and San Francisco Solano parish that say, 'thanks for being a great volunteer". And of course, we have quite a few made by Pat and Chris when they were children in school.

It is especially nice to look at all of the ornaments and get a little teary-eyed this's our first Christmas with just the two of us.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Wednesday's Post- Cocktail Hour

I've been trying to make more cocktails lately.

We tend to get into a rut and just have beer, or wine with dinner. Or, we have a shot and a beer after does get routine and it's boring!

On Wednesday, I decided to make cocktails!

I found this great recipe for Bourbon Apple Cider.

We both like bourbon- we both like apple cider- how could this not be perfect?

I didn't have any oranges, but we have lots of clementines, or 'cuties'. We like that they are small, sweet and easy to peel, so I buy them as fruit for snacking quite often.

I cut one in half and juiced the heck out of it. I got quite a good puddle of juice! I also mixed 2 tablespoons of sugar with 1 teaspoon of cinnamon together to make the sugar rim for the drink. Next time, I'll add 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon to 2 tablespoons of sugar...the cinnamon was a little too much this time.

Also, just a note- when you dip the glass into the orange juice/clementine juice, make sure you let it all drip off of the glass before dipping in the sugar/cinnamon. Also, very carefully lower the glass into the sugar/cinnamon mixture- or you will get that fine crap all over everything! JUST like this...

Since I have lots of mason jars for canning hanging around the house, I decided to use them for these cocktails. Charming, no?

Anyhow, I also used a little more bourbon in the shaker than the recipe called for...3 ounces of bourbon to 4 ounces of Trader Joe's Spiced Cider. It's only at Trader Joe's in the fall and winter, so I usually buy a lot of it and keep it in the pantry. Yes, it's that good.

Shake, shake, shake, shake your, your cocktail shaker, and pour over ice. I didn't have any rosemary (and Kevin really hates rosemary) so I used lemon thyme as a garnish.

So, it's kinda pretty, but VERY tasty.

Yes, please, I'll have another.

I totally love cocktail shots from the top!!!

Thursday's Post- Pasta Dinner

Once in a while, Kevin has something else to do and I end up eating dinner alone. It's not bad for me- I spend most of the time he's gone reading- and I make a meal that he doesn't like!

Last night was one of those nights...he didn't get home until quite late. I decided that I would make my favorite pasta dish in the entire world!

I love radiatore pasta. They are squat, thick little pasta that look like, well, little radiators, which is what radiatore means in Italian! Trader Joe's carries them this time of year...they are tri-colored for the holiday season!  Kevin is an 'angelhair' type of pasta guy- that's his favorite. He will tolerate linguini, spaghetti, and sometimes, penne, but he prefers thin pasta. Well, except for lasagna...

Anyhow, this dish is made with radiatore.

After I cooked the pasta, I added about 1 cup of frozen artichoke hearts to the hot pasta water to defrost.
After cooking the pasta and arti hearts, I took out a large pan. I used a teflon fry pan- it works really well for this dish.I added a tablespoon of olive oil, about 1 teaspoon of anchovy paste, 1 teaspoon of garlic paste and 1/2 teaspoon of hot red pepper flakes. Yep, I like it spicy!

 I know that many people 'think' they don't like anchovy paste, but let me tell you, it adds a special depth of flavor to food. It's not fishy-tasting at all. I sneak it into a lot of dishes! I also received this awesome garlic paste as part of a gift from my sister and brother in law, Darl & Jim...and I use it a lot!! Not sure where they found it- but it is a fantastic and deeply rich paste of garlic.  It is a heck of a lot easier than smashing garlic cloves and does not taste like raw garlic, either! YUM!

When the spicy mix was fragrant, I added 2 tablespoons of capers. I LOVE capers. They are salty and delicious little burst of savory flavor in any dish!

After adding the capers, I drained the pasta and artichokes and added them to the pan. I cooked them until everything was hot, and served dinner! It was SO delicious! Hot, spicy, salty, pasta with a little salad and a was so tasty and just hit the spot!

Kevin would have liked the salad...ha ha ha!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

It's the Little Things...

Kevin and I shared a moment of absolute hilarity yesterday.

Last year, I had lots of time on my hands after retiring in August I made all kinds of cool crafty things to keep me busy before we started skiing, camping and kayaking.

I have thought about a weekly menu for a long time, but while I was working at the church it never seemed to work out for us. I worked late many nights and on the weekends, I decided on the spur of the moment to make something for dinner that sounded good. I've never been that organized with menus, so I thought it was just a passing fancy.

This year, I was determined to have a weekly plan. It's made life much easier for me. One of the crafts that I created last year (and I have to say, it is my favorite) is a canvas chalk board that I keep in the kitchen. It has the days of the week and I make a menu on Mondays. I really like to see what is up for dinner- and it helps with weekly shopping. If we put something on the menu Monday that isn't in the freezer or fridge, I have to get to the store in time for the scheduled dinner. Sometimes, I scan the freezer and pantry for dinner ideas and other times I look through my many cookbooks for ideas. It makes for an interesting and internationally inspired week of dinners!

Kevin suggested last week that we reserve a day to smoke a hunk of meat. We have had a Bradley smoker for a few years now and we just love to experiment with different cuts of meat, poultry and fish or vegetables in the smoker. He wanted to try using a 'flavor injector' that is sold at Sportsman's Warehouse. I agreed, and we did some research. We decided to smoke a chuck roast and inject it with Cajun Butter. I also decided to rub the roast with a nice dry rub of seasoning, since we like a flavorful crust with a smoked meat.

It seemed simple enough to 'inject' the beef...load up the little syringe and pump away. Uh, huh. Not so easy. It might have been a little easier if either of us had read the directions.

I carefully poured enough of the sauce into the syringe and tightened the head on the needle. I poked it into the meat and promptly squirted Cajun Butter all over the counter. Kevin almost spilled his beer because he was laughing so hard. I was getting more and more frustrated as the brown gooey stuff dribbled all over the pan, the counters and my hands. He decided he could do a better job than I could do, so he took over the injection duties.

He stuck the needle into the jar of Cajun Butter to try and draw more up into the needle. I said that I thought that didn't look like a good idea, because he would be introducing bacteria from raw beef into the GIANT jar of Cajun Butter. He said, "Oh, I didn't think about that." Great. Now we had to use the whole jar.  He said very smugly that his friend told him that there were two holes in the injector needle and  you had to very carefully and slowly inject the sauce into the beef. As he said that, he slowly pushed the plunger into a section of the beef and promptly let a giant squirt of Cajun Butter onto his shirt, the counter, me and about 3 feet of the kitchen floor. I laughed so hard I was crying!

Anyhow, we eventually read the directions on how to use the thing and got the beef injected, rubbed and into the smoker.

It was delicious!!

Now, why am I telling you about this?

In Advent, it is difficult to wait. Sometimes we think we know that Christmas is coming, and it will be the same as it's always been, and we have our plans...and then, the beauty of the season and unexpected treasures of the season pop out in all the wrong places and make us laugh.
So, be prepared...but also, be prepared to be surprised.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Sebastian Temple and me

Today, in 1997, Sebastian Temple was buried.

You may not know who he was, but he was one of the greatest influences on my life.

I was reminded of this today after reading my daily reflection from The Little Blue Book.

I remember when I was about 10 years old and was in 4th grade at St. Irenaeus in Cypress, CA. My teacher was Sister Mary Elizabeth. She was an Irish Presentation Sister and was a little homely, but she could sing like an angel and played the guitar like no one else!

I wanted to be just like her.

I sang in the choir, because, I loved singing and I actually had a good voice. (Still do!) I really wanted to get a guitar so I could accompany myself. OK, so I have always been a little vain :)

I prayed and prayed for a guitar for Christmas that year. I REALLY wanted a guitar.

On Christmas that day, I knew that there was a Santa. I got my guitar. I also got guitar lessons.
That was so important but I didn't think so at the time. I just wanted to learn to play...chords.
My parents insisted that I learned how to read notes and music and my teacher taught me classical guitar and flamenco. I can still play the etude in A minor :) I practiced and practiced..with the metronome, that drove my sister crazy. She hated that toc-toc-toc while I learned to keep correct time. Sorry, Darl!

Anyhow, back to Sebastian Temple. He wrote a song that really resonated with me and I still know all the words to this day without looking it up on the internet.

Now, I have never claimed to be a perfect person, and I have strayed. I am working on my faith, "in fear and trembling" as St. Paul says in Phillipians 2:12. But this song has been in the background of my life for a long time.

Those of you from San Francisco Solano Church in Rancho Santa Margarita CA and Sacred Heart in Klamath Falls OR will recognize this song, since I often sang it or used it as a reference.

Yes, I always wept when I sang this one...but, really, it is a song worthy of tears.

Anyhow, Sebastian Temple wrote many hymns that I loved and this is the one I loved the most...

Take My Hands by Sebastian Temple

Take my hands and make them as your own, and use them for your kingdom
here on earth.

Consecrate them to your care, anoint them for your service where you
may need your gospel to be sown.

Take my hands, take my hands, O Lord.
Take my hands, they speak now for my heart, and by their actions they
will show their love.

Guard them on their daily course, be their strength and guiding force
to ever serve the Trinity above.

Take my hands, take my hands, O Lord.
Take my hands, I give them to you, Lord. Prepare them for the
service of your name.

Open them to human need and by their love they'll sow your seed so all
may know the love and hope you gave.

Take my hands, take my hands, O Lord.

Here's the link to a youtube of Take My Hands if you want to hear the music...

Happy Advent!

Sunday, December 14, 2014


Two things today-

#1- today is the third Sunday in Advent, also known as 'Gaudete Sunday'. The celebrant wears 'rose' or 'pink' colored vestments at Mass, and we light the pink candle on the Advent Wreath. I heard a wonderful explanation for the reason why 'rose' or 'pink' is the liturgical color for this week while listening to the Catholic Channel. I've heard lots of reasons but this one was so striking that I wanted to share it with you.

They say that the night is always darkest before the dawn. At dawn, the sky is a deep rose and gradually becomes pink, and then, we see the light of the sun.
This imagery reminds us that we waited in darkness for the promised Savior, Jesus. His coming was the fulfillment of the promise of the Father--dawn and light that triumphed over darkness.

In Advent, it is a time of waiting...but when we get to the third Sunday of Advent, it is almost Christmas- and the readings at Mass repeat, "Rejoice!". So, we rejoice at the dawn because it points us to the light that will overtake the dark very soon! Isn't that a great image?

#2- I had to share with you an amazing book that I just finished reading. It is called, How Dogs Love Us. This was a fascinating experiment by a neuroscientist  to decode the brain of dogs. There is a lot of science in this book, but the story itself is incredible. If you click on the link you can go to the Amazon link.

I knew all my life that my dogs loved me-and they knew how much I loved them. I really like the recent story that Pope Francis supposedly said that we will see our beloved pets in heaven. I know the Church has always taught that animals have inanimate souls- but that didn't mean they wouldn't be in heaven, right? Although, apparently, the quote attributed to Pope Francis is not quite correct- but a guy named Pope FRANCIS ...hello! He took the name of the Saint who is the patron saint of animals and the environment! Zillions of churches have the annual, "blessing of the animals" all over the world! How is this not understood- that our precious pets are waiting for us in heaven?

Anyhow, about the book- the experiment proves that dogs have, "theory of mind" which means that they have an extraordinary empathy with human emotions; that they do love us and that they share a most unique relationship of friendship and love with humans among all of the animal kingdom.

Now, you will cry when you read the chapter, "Lyra". I bawled my eyes out. So, be prepared. But by the end of the book, you will, "Rejoice".

And that is what Gaudete Sunday is all about.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Getting Ready...

Usually, I try to not stress out during Advent.

If I don't get the Christmas cards out on time, well, they become New Year's cards.

I usually have all the Christmas gifts and donations prepared a couple of weeks before Christmas.
I decorate over the Thanksgiving weekend, and then slowly add more decorations throughout the month.

This year, I am trying to focus a little more on the season of Advent by reading 2 daily reflections.
I usually read the Little Blue Book in the morning, and Fr. Robert Barron's reflection on the internet in the evening. It gives me both a morning and evening perspective.

I don't do much baking since we don't really eat any sweets...well, we WOULD eat them if I baked them, but we don't miss them...much - ha ha!

The one thing I really missed this year (and last year, too!) was the Advent by Candlelight event. It's not done in this area.  My friend, Debbie, told me about this event a few years ago and I decided to introduce it to Klamath Falls. I am very proud that this event continues to be a wonderful gathering for women from both Sacred Heart and St. Pius X and their family and friends. At Advent by Candlelight, you hear an inspirational message, share a dessert and have a relaxing evening early in Advent. It is a lot of fun! Each table is sponsored by a hostess. She decorates the table, provides the dessert and drinks and invites female family and friends. At Sacred Heart, we asked each hostess to save a seat at the table for someone who is new to the community, or someone who is alone- or someone who would not be invited otherwise. We invited them to come to the event and meet new friends and have a lovely evening!

I loved seeing all the photos on Facebook of the Advent by Candlelight tables. It reminded me that I need to step up and stop feeling sorry for myself. Just because I haven't been needed in other areas of ministry doesn't mean I can suggest a new, once a year ministry that helps women to focus on the joy, peace and love of the season leading up to Christmas.

So, I am getting ready for this Advent...and next Advent.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Make It Work

It took us several years of research to finally figure out where we wanted to live when we retired. We wanted to be in an area with a lower cost-of-living than Southern California, close to good skiing, fishing, hiking and golf, and a place with a a good hospital and airport. We also wanted to be a reasonable driving distance from our parents. We wanted it to be a safe area with good emergency services, like fire and police.

We visited Durango, Colorado. We loved the proximity to Purgatory ski resort, Mesa Verde National Park and the Silverton Railroad. There's a hospital and an airport and the Animas River in Durango is known for world-class fly fishing. There were a couple of good golf courses. The downside was the very high housing and living costs; although it was only about a 12 hour drive from Orange County. 

We spent quite a bit of time in Laughlin, Nevada/Bullhead City, AZ. We loved spending time on the Colorado River and Lake Mojave boating, jet-skiing and fishing. We had friends who lived in the area. There's a good hospital in Bullhead City and the cost of living and housing isn't too expensive; plus Nevada has no state income tax. There are a couple of good golf courses nearby. We were only about a 4 hour drive from Orange County and only 2 hours from Las Vegas airport. But- the summers are VERY hot and dry and utility costs were very expensive. We would be about 7 hours from Mammoth Mountain to ski. It's almost impossible to golf in the summer. 

We spent a lot of time in Klamath Falls, Oregon. We fell in love with the beautiful lakes and mountains. We dreamed of building a log home someday and Oregon seemed the perfect fit. We had friends who had moved there and hosted us many times. There was a decent airport, a big hospital, lots of great golf courses and we were only about 3 hours from Mt. Bachelor in Bend. The cost of living was great and no sales tax was a good benefit. Camping, fishing, hiking and outdoor activities abound in the area. It was only a 12 hour drive to Orange County and best of all, it snowed all winter! 

We sold everything in Orange County when Kevin retired in 2006 and moved to Klamath Falls, Oregon. We bought a piece of property in a beautiful resort area and planned to build our log home. When we realized that it would take quite a while to build, we decided to buy a home and sell it in a couple of years since the housing market was so strong at the time. Little did we know what would happen with the housing market...and the economy. 

Fast forward about 7 years...we needed a change. The skiing in Bend never materialized because we were so far away. The airport stopped commercial service. The housing market took a huge hit. Lincoln Logs went into bankruptcy and after 6 years, we got a check for $200 and lost the rest of our $10K deposit. We do own some beautiful blueprints, though! Lots of things in our lives changed- but our passion for skiing did not. I retired in August 2013 after 17 years in pastoral ministry. We decided to start looking- again.

We thought about Reno, NV because it was so close to the Lake Tahoe ski resorts. We'd skied there often when we lived in Orange County. It had a big airport, great hospitals and lots of golf courses. There is no income tax in Nevada. We visited many times and found lots of beautiful communities in Reno- but it didn't seem like a good fit. We went a little further south and found that Carson City was just what we wanted. 

Carson City reminds us a lot of the good things we really enjoyed in Klamath Falls- the small-town feel; a little rural and a little cowboy. We especially love the close proximity to fantastic skiing, camping and fishing. We love taking the kayaks out for a spin! Lake Tahoe is such a treasure as an outdoor playground! Most importantly, we researched the infrastructure of the area. Carson City and Douglas County are in great shape. We like the philosophy of living 5% under budget every month that is espoused by the local government. We especially love hopping in the car and getting to the mountain to ski in 35 minutes. And, it's only an 8 hour drive or a short flight to the OC. 

It's been a life-changing move for us.  We took a chance and trusted that it would all work out. Sometimes, it doesn't work out the way you hope it will...and sometimes, it does. We will see if Carson City works out for us. We really like it here and have great hopes for the best. 

One thing we knew- and have experienced a LOT-is that things change. Having a plan in place is good- but make sure you have wide parameters for that plan in the event of a change.  If you can roll with the change, it makes life more of an adventure. My motto has always been, "make it work". No matter how much things change, there is no reason not to more just won't look exactly as you planned, but you will accomplish your goal. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Skiing and Patience

Today began as a wonderful day- we were headed off an hour away to go to Northstar Ski resort. During the last storm they received the most snow of all the resorts- 13 inches. We got up early, packed up lunch, doubled checked that we had all the required equipment -skis, poles, boots, helmets, jackets, gloves, ski passes- and headed out the door, excited for a great day of skiing in the sunshine.
We parked in the lot near a shuttle stop and hurried to get ready before the shuttle arrived. When we boarded the shuttle we talked about how much vertical feet we would run...where we would stash out lunch in the lodge and wondered if the mountain photographers would be out on the hill on a Monday.
We FINALLY got to the Gondola and did a little live survey with a marketing employee on the ride up the hill. He was funny and made us laugh as we headed up the mountain.
I stashed the lunch in the lodge while everyone else buckled down their boots and stretched out a bit before we got on the lift.
We got up to the top of the mountain and skiied over for our first run. The snow looked really good and it looked like it would be a really fun run...until we hit some thick, sloppy snow. AKA Sierra Cement.
Now, I love to ski. I have really improved over the past year and I am at the point that I am ready to really move up a notch by making better turns on edge.
It was pretty much impossible in this thick, wet, heavy snow.
Then, the run was funneled into a narrow area where several runs intersected and there were so many people trying to get down the same narrow run with very little control due to the snow conditions.
My fun day of skiing quickly deteriorated into survival. I was nearly hit by some very careless snowboarders. I was very stressed out, my legs were burning with the effort of turning in thick, wet snow and I almost started crying. I was so upset!
I finally got to the group and told them that I was going to the lodge. I didn't want to impede their fun- they made it look easy to get down the hill through that slop. I was upset with myself because I just couldn't do what I know I needed to do to make good turns.
As it turned out, the rest of the group also were not very happy with the snow conditions and were not having much fun, either.
I felt kind of guilty that I wanted to quit so quickly, but I am no fun to ski with when I am miserable. I assumed that they rest of the group were just waiting for me.
We made a decision to leave the ski area and head over to Heavenly Mountain to ski, since the conditions there were much better.
Even though it was about an hour away, every one was in agreement that we didn't want to just stay and fight through the snow.
We went to Heavenly and had a great time.
I thought about my experience today in light of Advent.
I have this expectation sometimes of how things will be- usually because I have spent time preparing and have done some research and even have had some previous experience. If things don't work out the way I expected, I usually have a back up plan. Sometimes, the outcome is so unexpected that I get really upset because, although I know what I can and should do, it just is so much effort and is painful and I don't want to face it.
During Advent, we are supposed to be preparing our hearts and souls for the celebration of the Incarnation of Christ- when God became man...not just the birthday of Jesus. We also are supposed to be preparing for the time when Christ comes again. I think we forget about the second part because it is so much effort than getting ready for the fun of Christmas. It's painful to reflect on our lives and realize that we haven't done what we know we should-and can- do.
I pray that I can really look within and do the spiritual work that needs to be done to be prepared for Christmas- and for when He comes again.
And I REALLY hope that we get some decent snow so I won't have to fight the Sierra Cement unprepared anytime soon!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Connection between Advent and Shabbat

Kevin and I are hosting our friends this weekend for a little ski adventure. At dinner tonight, as I lit the second Advent candle, I started to sing, "Sunrise, Sunset" from the musical, "Fiddler on the Roof". It was kind of a funny moment, before we said the blessing before meals. It made me think of the connection between Advent and Shabbat...the Jewish day of rest or 'seventh day' in the week.

I think it was the lighting of the candle and the blessing before the meal that really hit me- where did we get the tradition of lighting a candle before our meal during Advent? I know it's been a tradition for the four weeks before Christmas- but why a candle? I know that the pink candle represents 'joy' ...from the antiphon on the third Sunday of Advent, which begins with the word, "Rejoice"...but why do we light a candle? And is it somehow related to the tradition of the Jewish people of lighting the candles.

In the Jewish home, it is the tradition that a woman lights the candles before the day of rest begins. The woman is the foundation of the home and the one who brings peace and harmony to the home. The candles are very significant, because they not only bring light, and warmth, but represent fire. Fire is a metaphor for God's relationship with man- the flame is a single entity, yet it appears to undergo a constant change. The flame adheres to, relies on and appears to emanate from the candle, yet it is a distinct and separate entity. The interior of the flame is constant, but the exterior is always in motion and constantly changes color.  It represents light in our dark world.

I thought about this and realized that this is exactly what Advent is all about. Today's readings reflect this perfectly..."A voice cries out in the desert- prepare the way of the Lord" . In Advent, we are waiting for the coming of the babe in the manger, but also when he comes again.

We keep hearing the theme over and over again in Advent- a light shining in the darkness. Jesus is the light of the world. No wonder we light candles to mark the time until we celebrate His birth!

I hope that as I light the candles each week, I remember that I am called to bring harmony and peace to my home...and that I am lighting the candles as a reminder that God's relationship with us is always the same and always new...and that Jesus is the Light of the World.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Muppet Christmas Carol

We watched the, 'Muppet Christmas Carol' the other night.
It is one of our favorite Christmas movies! This version of Dicken's, "A Christmas Carol" is so well done and campy and fun that you can't help but fall in love with the characters, and sing along with all the songs!

It's really not a religious based book, or movie. It's more about the idea of Christmas- that we live the spirit of giving and caring for our fellow man year round.
I like that- it appeals to everyone, no matter what you believe. We all believe that we should care for others, right?

My favorite song, by far, is Thankful Heart, which is sung by Michael Caine, who plays Ebenezer Scrooge in the movie. By the way, do you know what an 'Ebenezer' is? It is referenced in the old time song, "Come Thou, Font of Every Blessing' and it refers to 1 Samuel 7.

The prophet Samuel and the Israelites found themselves under attack by the Philistines. Fearing for their lives, the Israelites begged Samuel to pray for them in their impending battle against the Philistines. Samuel offered a sacrifice to God and prayed for His protection. God listened to Samuel, causing the Philistines to lose the battle and retreat back to their own territory. After the Israelite victory, Scripture records: “Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen, and called its name Ebenezer, saying, ‘Thus far the Lord has helped us’ ” (1 Samuel 7:12).

The word Ebenezer comes from the Hebrew words ’Eben hà-ezer'which simply mean “stone of help”.  Ebenezer, then, is simply a monumental stone set up to signify the great help that God granted the one raising the stone.

Anyhow, I always think of the season of Advent when I hear that song. 

My 'stone of help' in Advent are the songs of joy and hope that permeate this season! What is your 'Ebenezer' ? 

Friday, December 5, 2014

Hope and Love

I woke up a little grouchy this morning. Let me explain...The central heat in our house is either on 'blowtorch' or off, regardless of the setting on the thermostat. There is no middle ground. The vents are in the ceiling and conveniently blow directly on me, no matter where I am standing, sitting or sleeping. It just works out that way. I have even closed the vents and covered some of them with those little magnetic covers, to no avail. The hot, dry heat seeks me out.

Kevin and I lived in Rancho Santa Margarita CA for 20+ years and used the heat in the house twice, as I recall. We did have a wood-burning fireplace in the family room, which we used frequently, but there was sufficient heat from the fireplace that wafted upstairs to keep us warm at night all winter.

While living in Klamath Falls OR it was a necessity to run the heater during the late fall, winter and early spring. We usually had our first snowfall in mid-September and it ALWAYS snowed on Memorial Day. The vents were located on the floor in that house, which made much more sense and kept the house very comfortable.

It's been a little chilly at night here in Carson City, so I have been setting the thermostat to 64 degrees at night. Personally, I'd leave the heat completely off, but Kevin and Bridget the Yorkie do get a little cold when the outside temps drop into the 20s and 30s, in spite of the electric blanket on the bed. I don't use the electric blanket- thank goodness for dual controls!

OK that's the back, Kevin got up at the ungodly hour of 5:30AM. He's an, "early-to-bed, early-to-rise" kind of guy. I'm a, "stay-up-late-reading, sleep-in-as-long-as-I-can-get-away-with-it" kind of girl. Hey, it's worked for 34 years...anyhow, apparently, it was extremely cold this morning when Kevin got up, so naturally, he turned the thermostat up. By the time 5:50AM rolled around, I couldn't stand it anymore, so I stormed out to the kitchen, with sweat dripping down my brow, to get a cup of coffee. I probably should have gone to bed before 1AM, but I was reading.

I opened the newspaper and because I was in a very grouchy mood, I immediately got tears in my eyes when I saw the daily 'cartoon'. It wasn't funny at all. It depicted a police officer, all in black, in riot gear and a body camera on his jacket, with a billy club raised over a person who was cowering in his grasp. The officer said, "Say Cheese!" The title of the cartoon was, "How body cameras will make a difference'.

 I am getting very tired of the police being characterized as jack booted thugs who beat and kill innocent people for no reason. The overwhelming majority of those who work in law enforcement want to make our world a better place. They want to protect us and keep us safe.

I realize that recent events in our country have stirred up strong emotions about racism, the justice system and police tactics. I get it. Yes, you have the right to protest. I don't think that burning police cars, shooting guns, and looting stores are the way to get your point across to the nation. Yes, there are those who work in law enforcement who commit crimes and need to be held accountable for those crimes. There are some things that need to change. Tarring all law enforcement with the brush of thuggery and the glee of the media in doing so is not the way to change the system. Why would anyone in their right mind want to go into law enforcement? Is that the point of all this? NO law enforcement? Where would that leave us? Hopeless?

I thought about the hashtags that are plastered all over social media. I wish they said, "all lives matter."
As tears of frustration and sadness gather in my eyes, I am not ready to give in to anger. I must continue to believe in the inherent goodness of man. We are made in the likeness and image of God, after all. God is goodness and love- and love never ends.

The season of Advent is a time of great hope. We wait to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ and we wait for when He will come again. This Advent season, I pray that the national conversation will change from anger to calm.  Like my thermostat, we have to turn down the heat a little and re-direct the vents. Let's not continue judge any group of people by race, political party OR profession. I know some of us run hotter than others, but I pray that we will move forward as people of hope...and love.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

O, Tannenbaum

Tonight, we put up the tree.

No lights, no decorations.

It is truly Advent...we are waiting.

The lyrics ( English translation) truly give meaning to the season.

O Christmas tree, o Christmas tree
How loyal are your leaves/needles!
You're green not only
  in the summertime,
No, also in winter when it snows.
O Christmas tree, o Christmas tree
How loyal are your leaves/needles!

O Christmas tree, o Christmas tree
You can please me very much!
How often has not at Christmastime
A tree like you given me such joy!
O Christmas tree, o Christmas tree,
You can please me very much!

O Christmas tree, o Christmas tree
Your dress wants to
  teach me something:
Your hope and durability
Provide comfort and strength
  at any time.
O Christmas tree, o Christmas tree,
That's what your dress should
  teach me.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Pasta e Fagioli

When I was growing up, my Mother made a delicious concoction that tasted like Italian soup. She would say the name so fast that I always though the name of it was, 'fazool." My mom grew up in an Italian neighborhood in Providence, Rhode Island, she she is an amazing cook...I like pretty much anything she makes, but the soup was one of my favorites.

I saw a recipe on Facebook a couple of days ago for the Olive Garden version of Pasta e Fagioli...which is the soup that my mom made! I've never made it before, so I decided to give it a go. We had a pretty decent snowfall all day yesterday, and I thought a chunky soup would just be perfect for dinner.

Here's the snow around 11AM...

And here's the snow about 4PM...

Here's the recipe I followed...Top Secret Recipes Pasta e Fagioli ...for the most part. I did add one chopped green bell pepper to the vegetable mix, and I added 1 teaspoon of hot pepper flakes to the mix- we do like it spicy!!

I also cooked the pasta separately. I put the warmed pasta in the bottom of the bowl and ladled the saucy soup over the top. I also stored the pasta separately for future servings...or else the soup would be too thick.

It was delicious...but we have enough leftover for an army!

It reminded me so much of the soup that my mom made...a wonderful memory on a snowy night. Love you, Mom :) Thanks for the cooking skills you passed on to me!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014


When Kevin and I lived in Rancho Santa Margarita, we were introduced to the "Little Books" series of seasonal reflections from the Diocese of Saginaw, Michigan.We had a visiting 'snowbird' priest, Fr. Jim, who persuaded the Pastor to give the booklets out to all parishioners during Lent.
When we lived in Klamath Falls, a generous parishioner donated the booklets for parishioners in both Advent and Lent...and I really grew to like them very much.
The Pastor at our current parish, Fr. Jim, handed out the Little Blue Book as we exited from the Church on the first Sunday of Advent.  I've been praying with the selection for each day since Sunday.

The booklet has a quote from the Gospel reading of the day, a story, and a reflection on that reading for each day of Advent.

Today's Scripture is Luke:10-21-24. "No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him." The reflection was about balancing our relationship with Jesus between intimacy and reverence. I thought about my relationship with Jesus a lot this morning.

It occurred to me that when I am praying, I usually turn to the Father in prayer. My thanks and gratitude, my petitions, my praise, worship and contrition are usually directed to God the Father. I think that my relationship with God the Father is reverent. He's not my buddy or my friend, He is the Lord God Almighty!

  I usually turn to Jesus by name either at the end of a prayer, "in Jesus's name I pray" or in panic mode, "Help us, Jesus!!". I always add the Fatima prayer at the end of each decade of the Rosary, "Oh my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell; lead all souls to heaven, especially those most in need of thy mercy." But- I don't feel as if I have the intimate relationship with Jesus that I should.

The one I turn to most often in prayer, though, is the Blessed Mother, Mary, the Mother of God. I ask for her intercession frequently. I pray the Rosary to fall asleep at night when my mind won't stop. I pray the Rosary on the treadmill, or on a walk, or while driving. I pray the Rosary when the plane is taking off, or when it's bumpy in the air. I pray the Rosary when I am afraid, or worried, or sad. I feel as if I have a more intimate relationship with Mary. She was a daughter, mother, wife and cousin and understands my little fears and worries for my children and family. Scripture tells us that she faced moments of great joy, but also of great suffering and sorrow. I know that if anyone in Heaven can intercede with the Father and the Son for help, She is the one to do it! And so, I readily ask for her help to ask God the Father and Jesus the Son to hear my prayers and petitions.

Mary is my connection to the intimate relationship with both God the Father, and Jesus. Everything she does points to Jesus. Even her feast days this month- The Feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8 and the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe on December 12- point to Jesus, and through Jesus, to the Father.

Although I am always working on my spiritual life, I guess I do have both an intimate and reverent relationship with God the Father and Jesus. Thanks, Mary. It just took a little reflection to see that you point the way to the Father and the Son in my own life, in both and intimate and reverent way.

See you tomorrow! Amen.

Monday, December 1, 2014

It's Advent

It's Advent, and I am going to try and blog daily for the season. I didn't reach my goal last year, but I am hoping I can do it this year! Thanks to Greg and Rebecca, who inspire me in this season!

Advent is a season of, well, patience, for lack of a better word. I am not  patient person. I want it now, I want to do it now, and I want to check off my list of stuff to do NOW. I remember as a very young patrol deputy sheriff, I was constantly being told to slow down. I was told that I had 20 years to do what I wanted to do...or I could do 1 year over and over. Thanks, PJ. You inspired me to do something different every year...even after I left law enforcement as a deputy.

I really still like to challenge myself to do something different each year. This past year, I had to challenge myself to get in better shape. A brief explanation- I worked in a very sedentary job from 2006-2013 as a Pastoral Associate at Sacred Heart Catholic Church. With my crazy schedule, I went skiing exactly once in all that time! I also gained a LOT of weight. This past year, I have really been watching both my health and weight and have reached a good goal- but I need to keep going to get to my goal!

I also wanted to grow spiritually this year. I have had a little bit of a spiritual crisis this past year- it's very difficult to just sit in the pew at Mass on Sunday and be part of the congregation. I decided to let it wash over me, pray the readings each week and do what I can, on my own. It KILLS me to not be the teacher, leader or director of classes, events and programs. It's been very humbling...but it's been a good experience. I began to re-examine just what I believe and why I believe it...especially in light of the death of my brother in law at age 52. I'm still working through all that, but I've made good progress.

At this point in my life, I am  sort of content...but still impatient.

I pray for my sons and their wives. I think that we gave Pat and Chris the best foundation possible based in Catholicism. We will see what the future brings for them. It's their choice. I hope they think about what they were given and how it has been a blessing for me and Kevin in our lives.

I pray for my family. It's hard to see us all getting older- especially our parents. Can't even go there right now...

I pray for my friends. We all have challenges in our lives and none of it is ever easy.

I pray for me and Kevin. We have a pretty good set up here in Nevada, but we are a little lonely. We haven't made friends yet, in spite of Church and work. Oh, some good acquaintances who have the potential to be friends...but it's mostly just the two of us.

So, for this Advent, we are waiting for...something. Yes, the commemoration of the Incarnation of Jesus...yes, for the time when He comes again, but also, for something new.

See you all tomorrow!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Thanksgiving, Nevada Style

This year, it's just me and Kevin for Turkey Day, Christmas and New Year's Day. I guess I should have expected that this would happen, eventually. It's still difficult. We were hoping to alleviate the loneliness by skiing on Thanksgiving, but the 'wind hold' at the local ski areas put that idea to rest. Oh, well, we were fine for Thanksgiving...we ended up slowly putting up the Christmas decorations throughout the day and took a walk after dinner.

I have to say, the table looked stunning with my Spode China plates, our Rogers 1849 silver and gold wedding silverware, antique candle sticks and the lovely Tiffany wine glasses and fall gourd salt and pepper shakers and name placeholders that my daughter in law, Eleni, gave me for Christmas last year.... along with some beautiful Trader Joe's flowers...

We planned a quick dinner for Thanksgiving, since we 'thought' we would be skiing!

I did buy a beautiful fully cooked turkey breast from Trader Joe's...but I added a dry brine 24 hours in's the mix...

1 tablespoon each of dried thyme, basil and lavender, 1 teaspoon each of crushed fennel seeds and black peppercorns,1 teaspoon of tarragon and 1 teaspoon of kosher salt. Mix together well and use as a dry brine 24-48 hours ahead of time on the turkey. Leave uncovered in the fridge to dry out the skin. Then, rub some bacon fat on the turkey skin and cook as usual.

I also prepared the creamed corn in the crockpot on Wednesday using this incredible recipe
and reheated it in the oven for 35 minutes before dinner.

and of course, made the Laughlin Family Holiday Cole Slaw on Wednesday!

Here's the recipe for the slaw...

1/2 head of green cabbage, shaved
4 green onions, finely chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
2 large stalks of celery, finely diced
1 large peeled carrot, shredded
2 ounces of canola or vegetable oil
2 ounces of apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon of kosher salt
1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes (you can use less if you want-we like it spicy)
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 handful of finely chopped fresh parsley

Mix all the veggies together in a large bowl. 
In a separate bowl, whisk all the dressing ingredients together. When well combined, pour the dressing over the veggies. Toss the veggies together well with the dressing and cover the bowl with a lid or plastic wrap. Store overnight in the fridge. Serve cold or room temperature. 

I did submit this to the Reno-Gazette Journal for a Family Holiday Dish contest....I am hoping that others will love this as much as we do and I will will an $1800 gift card :)

I also made this delicious Mashed Potato Casserole on Wednesday and reheated it on Thursday for....35 minutes...just like the creamed corn!!

I added some roasted brussels sprouts with a homemade gremolata...simply take trimmed brussels sprouts, toss them with a little canola oil and toss them in a pan. Roast for 20 minutes at 400 degrees and toss with this gremolata...

1 teaspoon of lemon zest, 1 teaspoon of finely chopped fresh parsley, 1/4 teaspoon of dried tarragon, 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt and 1 garlic clove, finely minced. Mix together very well and sprinkle over the brussels sprouts. This is a recipe for about 0 brussels sprouts- enough for one person (um, I mean, me) Make more if you have more people. Just sayin'. OMG it was DELISH!

Oh, and I made my best 'dressing' for the turkey... 1 loaf of bread, cut into tiny chunks and dried overnight on a tray.,,1 lb. of sage flavored sausage (Jimmy Dean sage sausage is the best!) cooked with 1 chopped onion, 4 stalks of chopped celery, 1 /2 cup of fresh copped parsley and 1 teaspoon of hot pepper flakes and mixed with 1 tablespoon of poultry seasoning and 1 cup of turkey stock (made from the carcass last year...duh!) mixed together and baked for 40 minutes, covered..last 10 minutes uncovered to brown the top. YUM!

Here's the dinner on my plate...covered with homemade turkey gravy with lots of turkey chunks in the gravy...a la (my MIL- Rest in Peace, Mom!) Mom Lee Laughlin...

This is 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted, 1 tablespoon of canola oil, brought to a foam over medium heat- then add 6 teaspoons of flour mixed in well with a whisk, until it starts to brown a bit. Continually mixing, add 3 cups of warmed turkey broth (supplement with chicken broth if you must) until thickened. You might need more broth if you over did it with the flour. It's OK. It's easy. Keep the heat low, and the whisk going strong. Then, add at least 2 cups of chopped turkey meat and mix well.  The way I get turkey meat for this gravy is to buy a couple of 'smoked turkey wings and legs' a couple of days in advance and roast them, slowly. I pick off the meat, of course, saving the skin and bones in the freezer for a later batch of turkey broth. It will be delish. Trust me.

I also made my famous and easy homemade cranberry sauce...1 bag of cranberries mixed with the juice of 3 clementines (plentiful this time of year) and the rest water to make one cup...and 1/2 cup of sugar...boil until the cranberries pop and store in the fridge until time to eat. YUM!
Kevin, OF COURSE, only likes canned cranberry has to have the indentations of rings for it to be sauce for him...and my sons. Sigh. We had both.

It was delicious!

We went for a walk after dinner with Bridget the Pooh to look at all the other houses with Christmas lights....I still think ours was the best!

Later that night, we had a bite of a Trader Joe's pumpkin pie and pecan pie...let's face it, I'm not much of a baker when it comes to sweets, so store bought with some whipped cream was just...perfect.
Hope you enjoyed this post!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Pumpkin Gnocchi with Mushroom Cream Sauce

I have made gnocchi made from mashed potatoes served with tomato sauce and gnocchi made with butternut squash served with a browned butter sauce- but I thought I would try something different since I had 4 cans of pumpkin puree in the pantry...pumpkin gnocchi.

Did I mention that we love home made pasta??

The technique is very similar, but the flavor is all about Autumn!!

I did research quite a few recipes- I didn't want a recipe that required eggs, since I wanted a vegan option for this pasta- hey, I loved my fat free vegan (Engine 2) diet during the best recipe I found was actually from.....Martha Stewart's show!

She featured a great restaurateur, Frank DeCarlo, who made a wonderfully easy version of Pumpkin Gnocchi with Chanterelle Cream Sauce.

I did follow most of the directions, but chanterelles are not widely available here (and pretty spendy) , and we don't use cream or shallots too I made some adjustments.  I have to apologize- I didn't take any pictures of me making the gnocchi, but Frank DeCarlo does a great job explaining and showing the techniques in the video. Plus, he's a professional...I am a great home cook, but still an amateur!

I put 2 cups of unbleached King Arthur flour in a bowl. I added 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and 1 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg to the flour and stirred it all together with a whisk to make sure it was well incorporated. I added one 15 ounce can of organic pumpkin puree from Trader Joe's and one cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese (can be left out for a vegan recipe). I slowly incorporated the wet into the dry, then dumped it out onto the cutting board and gently kneaded it for a couple of minutes- just to barely bring it together. You want soft little pillows, not rubber chunks :)

I cut the dough into 6 pieces and then, rolled each piece into about a 1/2 inch roll. I then used my bench scraper to cut each roll into 1/2 inch pieces. Now, you can get a very cool board to roll your gnocchi  here Gnocchi Board or use a fork to put some ridges in the gnocchi, but hey, I'm lazy like that, so I just chopped it into little pillows. It's up to you!

I made about 100 little pumpkin pillows of pumpkin goodness in 15 minutes.

Then, I did a bit of a twist that I have done in the past- there is NO WAY that Kevin and I will eat 100 gnocchi in one sitting. So, I sprayed a couple of jelly roll pans with a little spray oil, and tossed the gnocchi onto the pans. Then, I put them into the freezer for a couple of hours, and then popped them into a freezer baggie.

To prepare for dinner, I brought about 6 quarts of water to a boil and tossed in the gnocchi. They are done when they float to the top.

I made the sauce by slow sauteing 1/4 chopped onion and 6 chopped stuffing mushrooms in a little butter with 1 tsp of rubbed sage (from my garden).

I added 1 cup of chicken stock and 1 cup of fat free half and half and reduced the sauce. When reduced by half, I tossed in the cooked gnocchi and topped with 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese. I served it with a little freshly grated nutmeg.

I served it with salad and Icky IPA....yum!

These can be served with any sauce you like....they have a very mild pumpkin flavor- but remember, a little of the gnocchi go a long way!! They are very filling!