"You learn something every day if you pay attention."
|On the Caribbean Sea.|
(Photo from my mom's cruise in January 2011)
Every year my friend Amber has a Girls Night party celebrating the things we have learned and discovered in the past year. (Yes, this is the same Amber who only a few short months ago was in the hospital in a coma. Miracles do happen.) The idea is to come up with a Top Ten list of things you have recently learned or discovered such as: new beauty products, new websites, recipes, stores, books, gadgets, cleaning supplies, etc. We put together lists and print out enough to give one to each guest. And what is a party without some food? No worries. We all make and bring our favorite recipe from the last year. It always ends up that we have the perfect amount of main courses, sides, desserts, bread, etc. The recipe is included on your list, so that everyone gets a copy of it.
This year was special year because we all have learned so much in the last year. Our thoughts shared were rather poignant because they all included major learning experiences from almost losing Amber. I'm so grateful she's still around and that she chose to come back. I haven't written much about the thoughts that have been swirling around in my mind since last October when Amber came home, about what I learned each and every day she was in the hospital and from the overall experience, but I will sometime soon. I've struggled with how to put it all into words. Suffice it to say, I've learned that life is a blessing, God is good, and we are deeply, deeply loved by Him. But more on that later.
For now, here is my list of discoveries from 2010. (And in case you want to look back, here are my previous lists: Discoveries of 2009 and Discoveries of 2008)
Emery’s Discoveries of 2010
- Roasted Almonds w/Bragg™ Aminos from Whole Foods – I've always loved roasted almonds because it brings out the natural flavor of the nut, but these almonds are a special treat. They are infused with Bragg Liquid Aminos (soy proteins from soybeans, purified water)non hydranate canola oil.
- Dried Blueberries – I've always enjoyed dried cranberries tossed into a salad, but Costco's Kirkland brand of dried blueberries was a new discovery this year. Tossing a few on a bowl of cheerios (my favorite) adds a healthy kick.
- Rolo Pretzel Delights – Need an easy treat for any party or activity? These Rolo Pretzel Delights are the answer. Set Rolos on a cookie sheet covered in wax paper. Pop in the oven at 300°F for exactly two minutes. Pull them out and immediately begin pressing a small pretzel on top of each softened Rolo, until the chocolate begins to come through the holes of the pretzel. Let sit on the counter for an hour or speed up the hardening process by placing the cookie sheet in the fridge.
- The Knife Matters – There is nothing like one of these great big Chinese choppers for chopping vegetables or meat. No kitchen should be without this tool. (Also, if you give this to your husband, he will happily help you in the kitchen. Haaaaa-yah! Just watch out for your fingers.)
- Finger Puppets – Primary kids love finger puppets. You can also keep a couple in your purse and share them with tired kids at church or your own kids while you are waiting in line, in the car, or at the doctor. Instant theater.
- Pinterest – Pinterest is a social catalog service. Think of it as a virtual pinboard — a place where you can post collections of things you love, and "follow" collections created by people with great taste. It's a great place to keep ideas for Christmas gifts, or birthday party themes, or wedding ideas organized. Or simply use it to archive all the pretty, fun things you find online. Find my pinboards at www.pinterest.com/eclaires
- Groupon.com, LivingSocial.com, CityDeals.com – If you haven't checked out these sites and signed up for their daily deals, you are missing you. All deals are at least 50% of the regular price and definitely worth it!
- Monopoly Deal – Definitely better than the board game, Monopoly Deal is a fast-paced, totally addictive card game that you can play in minutes! Deal and steal your way to success - just collect 3 property sets to win. Sounds easy... but beware the dreaded Debt Collectors and Deal Breakers, which can flip your fortunes in the play of a card! Fast-dealing, card-stealing fun for family and friends! fast-paced, too! Play with as few as two players.
- “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” – One of the greatest of our hymns, which was inexplicably deleted in the 1985 version of our Mormon hymn book, is "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing." Mack Wilberg's arrangement of this hymn as sung by the combined BYU choirs in 1994 will bring tears to your eyes, and fill your soul with the spirit.
- Spray Bottles – I detest being hot. I simply cannot function when I am hot and feel overheated. Bring along a spray bottle on any hike, to a parade, to an outdoor picnic to keep cooled off. Such a simple idea that will make a world of difference.
One of my new favorite recipes this year comes from my mother’s cousin, Robin.
Robin’s Yankee Cranberry Cake
This cake is chock full of cranberries and reminds me of a really tasty blueberry muffin, with more fruit than cake. Even if you think you don’t like cranberries, try this. It’s simple and fabulous. The butter sauce really makes the cake.
1/2 teaspoon butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 cup flour
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups fresh cranberries (if you double the recipe, you can use a whole (small) bag of fresh cranberries.)
Mix ingredients together and fold in cranberries last. Bake in a 9x9" pan for 1/2 hour at 350 degrees. Cut in squares and serve warm with butter sauce spooned over each piece.
1 cube of butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup cream
A dash of vanilla
Melt butter and sugar in a small sauce pan until sugar dissolves in the butter. Add cream and vanilla and heat through.
2010 sure was a great year. Here’s to a happy 2011 with lots of new discoveries!