John and I spent Christmas in Indiana with his lovely family. We kept very busy between visits with family and friends, last minute Christmas shopping, and even a Christmas Eve hike with the neighbor children. It was a very blessed, refreshing, and special visit.
The 2009 Christmas holiday was full of firsts and new developments:
1. This was John's and my first Christmas as a married couple, and my first Christmas as part of a new family.
2. I wasn't the only new family member. John's sister Sarah married Jason (in the red striped sweater) in September.
3. John's brother and sister-in law are expecting their first child in late February.
4. Anna, John's youngest sister, received news that she had been accepted into her first-choice college! We were with Anna when she received the good news.
2009 was certainly a year of unexpected blessing. One year ago I never would have guessed I would be living in New York City, married to the most wonderful man I could imagine, and have a new godly, loving family.
My entrance into a new family, through my husband John, reminds me of our adoption as sons and dauthers through Jesus Christ. Through no merit of own, Christ as made a way for us to be made right with God. Though we were once enemies of God, Christ has reconciled us to God as His sons and daughters. My new status as John's wife brings with it a new name, a new family, and a new calling. Much the same, acceptance of Christ changes our status and calling- we are no longer slaves but sons and daughters- heirs through Christ!
"But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying 'Abba! Father!' So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God." Galations 4:4-7
My aunt recently mailed me copies of a few old family photos. Hidden among the photos was this treasure:
That's me holding an overgrown rabbit, and my sister with a blanket on her head- she always did have a flair for the dramatic. I have no idea what we were doing when this photo was taken. If you come up with a witty title for this photo and I'll give you a prize.
For those of you who don't know, Hello Kitty is a fictional character created in 1974 by the Japanese company, Sanrio. Hello Kitty first appeared on coin purses. After gaining international fame, Hello Kitty is now depicted on a wide variety of consumer products, ranging from greeting cards to clothing to home appliances. Hello Kitty is unusual in that the white kitten with a pink hair bow equally appeals to both children and adults.
I don't pretend to be a stranger to the odd popularity of Hello Kitty. Last year, I received a Hello Kitty toaster as a Christmas present.
Granted, the toaster is a little weird, but it made great kitty-faced toast.
Whenever I go to Target, I expect to see some new Hello Kitty product. However, I believe the Hello Kitty licensing program has hit a new low (or weird high). While at Target today I found this treasure:
For only $19.99 you can now have your own minature Hello Kitty water dispenser, guaranteed to quench the thirst of seven-year-old girls everywhere.
On Sunday afternoon, John and I embarked on a 6.5 mile hike from our apartment near the Financial District to Rockefeller Center. The point of this journey was to see the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. It was a cold, crisp afternoon. We left just as the sun was setting.
We started our trip by walking along the Hudson River.
In the photo below, the Empire State Building can be seen. The Empire State Building is at 34th Street.
We saw this lovely Church near 10th Street, barely 1/3 of the way through our journey.
At Union Square, we took a short detour to walk through a Holiday Fair.
Nearly at our destination, we saw these oversized Christmas ornaments (near Times Square).
Pushing our way through the crowds, we finally saw the Tree. It was beautiful and very large.
Having completed our mission, we worked our way over to 3rd Avenue for a delicious dinner of pancakes and an egg sandwich. Four hours after starting on our journey, we arrived home- very cold and tired. It was a lovely hike, and we hope to do it again soon!
I love ginger, so when I saw a recipe for Triple Ginger Cookies in Bon Appetit Magazine, I knew I had to make it. These cookies are similar to a molasses cookie, but include three types of ginger: ground ginger, fresh ginger, and crystallized ginger (I used dehydraded sweetened ginger found at a Chinese grocery store). The flavor was delightful and not too intense; the texture was just how I like it: firm edges, soft and chewey in the center. If you like a spicy ginger cookie, I would increase the amount of crystallized ginger. My husband loved these cookies. He is carefully rationing them so that he can have one in his lunch each day.
Triple Ginger Cookies (courtesy of Bon Appetit)
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup minced crystallized ginger
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1/2 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1/4 cup light (mild-flavored) molasses
1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated fresh peeled ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/3 cup (about) sugar
Position 1 rack in top third and 1 rack in bottom third of oven; preheat to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour, crystallized ginger, baking soda, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until creamy and light, about 2 minutes. Gradually beat in both brown sugars. Beat on medium-high speed until creamy, about 3 minutes. Add egg, molasses, fresh ginger, ground ginger, cinnamon, and cloves. Beat to blend. Add flour mixture in 2 additions, beating on low speed just to blend between additions.
Place 1/3 cup sugar in small bowl. Measure 1 tablespoon dough. Roll into ball between palms of hands, then roll in sugar in bowl to coat; place on baking sheet. Repeat with remaining cookie dough, spacing cookies 1 1/2 to 2 inches apart.
Bake cookies until surfaces crack and cookies are firm around edges but still slightly soft in center. The recipe suggested baking cookies for 15 minutes; however, I only left mine in for 13 minutes. I prefer a softer cookie.
Only in New York City would you find a bustling establishment solely devoted to the sale of rice pudding. Last Saturday night we entered this other-worldly portal...
Despite its futuristic appearance, Rice to Riches serves up some amazingly delicious, good ole fashioned rice pudding. After entering, we were amazed by the hordes of people jostling their way up to the counter to marvel at the buckets of rice pudding. After we overcame our initial wonder, we pushed our way the front, eager to sample as many flavors of rice pudding as possible.
The flavors were seemingly endless: coconut, rum raisin, eggnogg, chocolate hazelnut, cinnamon, peanut butter, pumpkin spice, chocolate chip, chocolate chip cookie dough, pineapple... John and I finally settled on a combo of rum raisin and eggnogg, served up in one of these funky containers shown below.
Let me tell you, the pudding was DELICIOUS! And expensive. The red container we shared set us back about $8. Pudding is pricey!
Perhaps the most entertaining part of our rice pudding adventure was the establishment's decor: very blunt statements regarding rice pudding and health.
My personal favorite was a sign just over the cash register which said "Eat all you want! You're already fat." Wow. I think the signs were intended to liberate people and make them feel better for buying an $8 container of rice pudding...If you spend that much money on dessert, you better eat every last morsel! Especially when it's this tasty. (Note: John and I were able to eat in moderation. We did not eat our entire container of rice pudding in one seating.)
The photo below isn't from Rice to Riches, but I thought it was nice. So, I'm posting it anyway.