Tuesday, December 31, 2019

"Bowl"ed Over with Snacks for Football and New Year's Eve

Eat 'em up! Eat 'em up! K-S-U!
Let's hope our signature K-State chant leads to victory over Navy at the AutoZone Liberty Bowl game today. We didn't make the trip to Memphis, but we'll be watching the 'Cats from the warmth of our living room.
And we just might be dipping into some tailgate-worthy snacks from the comfort of our own home. Whether you're cheering for the Wildcats or just looking for a quick appetizer to help welcome the New Year, this Cranberry Cream Cheese Dip is a contender.

I've made it for our family's Christmas Eve celebrating for several years now. My sister, Lisa, initially brought it to the gathering, but I liked it so well that it has become a permanent fixture. Jill also served it as an appetizer for our family's Thanksgiving gathering.

It's easy to put together. I find it makes less of a mess if you freeze your cranberries and then chop them in a blender or food processor. Just chop up the rest of the ingredients, stir together and let it marinate to blend the flavors. Then pour it over cream cheese and start dipping the crackers for a tangy taste treat.

There are some other K-State (or New Year's) snacks at the bottom of this post. They are easy to make for a last-minute football bowl or New Year's snack.

Happy New Year to you and yours from The County Line! And Go 'Cats!
Cranberry Cream Cheese Dip
Recipe from my sister, Lisa Bauer
1 8 oz. package of cream cheese
1 package (12 oz) fresh cranberries (Freeze and chop in the blender or food processor)
1/4 cup green onion, chopped
2 tbsp. minced fresh cilantro
1 tbsp. diced jalapeno (or more, if you like it hotter)
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 tsp. lemon juice
Dash salt

Combine all ingredients except cream cheese.  Mixture needs to sit for 4 hours or so. Garnish with additional chopped green onion and/or cilantro.

Spread cream cheese in bottom of serving plate. Top with cranberry mix. Serve with Wheat Thins or other crackers.
Try these other snacks for bowl games, tailgates or parties. You can always tailor the colors to fit your favorite high school, college or pro team. 

Friday, December 27, 2019

Tidings of Great Joy: Christmas Traditions

You don't have to be famous to have a stable of paparazzi clicking away trying to capture the perfect shot. My mom's birthday and our family's Christmas Eve gathering have a good share of "Smile!" "Look this way!" and "Wait! Just one more!"

My mom celebrated her 84th birthday on December 24.  Ever since the grandchildren were little, we've been taking a photo of the birthday girl with the troops.The first one with all seven of them was in 1994.
From left: Abby, Brian, Blake, Mom holding Madison, Jill, Brent & Paige
The grandchildren shot is easier these days.Wow! They're all looking the same direction.
From left: Abby, Mom, Brent, Madison, Paige, Brian, Jill and Blake
Grandpa gets in on the action in some of the photos, too.
These days, my parents' great-grandchildren are the little kids in the Christmas/birthday photos.
This year, we were missing one of the 10 great-grands. He was a sad little boy to miss the shenanigans with all the cousins, but the other mommies and daddies were glad he kept his stomach virus at home.
With the great-grands getting a little older, the yearly shot is getting somewhat easier.
Cake time! The troops disbursed. No more holding the pose.

Someone suggested an "outlaw" photo. So they got in on the photos this year, too.
We were missing one grandson-in-law who was home with the sick boy.
This was the entire gathering - minus my brother, Kent - who took the photo.
We've moved the evening meal to the shed to accommodate the crowd. 

The Moore "kids" have been the stars of Christmas photos for quite some time. Though my brother, Kent, was born in December 1966, he didn't make the Christmas card until 1967. This is the first photo card with all my siblings. I would have been 10, Lisa, 9, Darci, 6 and Kent was 1.
We haven't changed a bit.

We were glad to have some extra chore helpers around here last weekend. Kinley and Brooke helped Grandpa water the cows ...
 ... and feed hay and grain.
The cattle aren't the only ones growing this year. Kinley's 8th birthday is coming up soon, so it was time to add her height to the family growth chart.
Since Brooke's 5-year-old height hadn't yet been recorded, Grandpa measured her, too. Kinley is a bit shorter than her mommy was at the same age. Brooke is taller, but not as tall as Uncle Brent.
The girls helped light the Advent candle at their church in Topeka early in December. Then, on December 22, Kinley and I read the Advent devotional and Grandpa lit the candles at the Stafford United Methodist Church. It gave this Grandma a bit of deja vu, since it was something that their mommy and Brent did as children. They also got the candy bags that our church has been giving out at Christmas for 90 years now. This year, Randy and I got the candy and stuffed the bags, carrying on a tradition for one of our church's patriarchs who died this year.
And, of course, it wouldn't be Christmas without some presents. They might have gotten one or two.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Peace vs. Hatred

Advent wreath at Susanna Wesley UMC - Photo from their Facebook page
I sent this text to my family Sunday morning (December 8) after the girls and I arrived for worship at their Topeka church:
Irony of the morning: Peace candle is lit for Advent at church. Protestors from Westboro Baptist Church stand across the street as we arrive. Part of Advent litany talked about the hatred in the world. Thankful that Kinley didn't see them on the way into the church.
Jill says the protestors have been there before, though their presence is sporadic and had never coincided with one of my Sundays in Topeka.

Frankly, I wish my record of not seeing them had stayed intact. However, I've continued to think about the juxtaposition of hate vs. love and peace. So maybe it was an Advent message I was meant to ponder.

The Advent candle litany said, in part:
Because hatred is still so strong, because so many swords have not yet been beaten into plowshares, we light a candle of peace. May the light from this candle overwhelm the world. May the light from this candle say to all that God's peace is coming on earth as it already is in heaven! 
In his sermon that morning, Pastor Andrew talked about the preparations they, as a young family, made to get their home ready for Christmas. He talked about shuffling furniture to make room for the tree and then unwrapping the ornaments.
When I think about the tree, I also think about our lives - reflecting back on the things past or looking forward to the things to come ahead. What will be unexpectedly beautiful? What will break by accident? What events will occur in which we need to find our place?
His reference to shattered ornaments took me back to our own Hanging of the Greens at Stafford UMC in late November. As I made my way through the church foyer that day, a dad was sweeping up the remnants of a glass ornament. I smiled and asked him how many had succumbed this year. Only the one, he told me.
Children's tree at Stafford UMC - Children made the nativity ornaments this year in Sunday School
One broken bulb (or even two or three) is a small price to pay for involving young children in the Advent preparations - whether that's at home or at church.
Jon and Bryson shared their love of Christmas bulbs during our Hanging of the Greens event.
 Besides, sometimes, we need to be broken for Christ's light to shine through:

Blessed are the broken and cracked 
for they allow God's light 
to shine through them.

Yes, we are broken. The world is broken. Even if there aren't protestors standing on a street corner, there are plenty of disagreements and differences in opinion. Just take a stroll through Facebook or Twitter and the hatred isn't hard to find.
On that Sunday, the Advent choir anthem said, in part:

Soon a tiny child will come
A gift from God above
To teach us all to live in peace
And fill our lives with love.
He will teach us how to love.
May that be more than just a sentiment in a Christmas anthem or a saying hung from the Christmas tree.

Advent is when we name and remember our longing for and need of forgiveness, restoration and redemption in the present day, while we wait for Christ to come again in final victory. While we wait, Jesus calls us into the world to participate in acts of compassion, preparing the way for God’s love to be known by all who need to hear the good news, having their sight restored and experiencing freedom. During this season, we prepare our own lives for one of the most transformative understandings of Jesus’ coming - his mission to set us free.
From Susanna Wesley UMC's Facebook page

I will take a short hiatus from blogging as Christmas approaches. Adding to an already-packed schedule as CEO of Christmas preparations around here, we are selling feeder calves this week. That adds cattle sorting and loading to the holiday mix this week.Wish us luck!

Wishing you and yours PEACE on earth and tidings of great JOY!

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Building Memories

Here's the Christmas-card-worthy version of gingerbread house building. 
And here's how it was behind the scenes! (Don't worry. No one but Brooke will eat her gingerbread house!)
Somehow, they didn't turn out quite like the cover on the box. However, we were building memories - not picture-perfect cottages.
My logic for purchasing that particular brand was the advertised "link and lock" building feature. Any help with construction is a bonus, so Mommy and Daddy helped put them together the first night to give the "mortar" plenty of time to set up. Then our interior (well ... more accurately, exterior) decorators completed the project the next morning.
While there were some candies in the box, we supplemented with sugar snowflakes I purchased separately, along with Jill's stash of sprinkles and a few packages of Halloween treats.
Sometimes, you have to hold your mouth just right to get everything in place.
They may not have been ready for their closeup when it comes to perfectly-appointed snow drips and strategically-placed candies to entice buyers on a store shelf. 
But that's what made them special, don't you think?
Perfection is overrated (or so I hear).
Kinley was ready for a close-up of each side of her creation. (She had the same request after last year's build.)
I've been watching the Holiday Gingerbread competition on Food Network this month. I don't think we're quite ready for that. But the girls were happy. And that made this Grandma happy.
House construction wasn't our only building project.
Kinley and Brooke also made several Christmas ornaments. Their tree got some additional bling and I brought some home for mine, too.
Kudos to Hobby Lobby kits! We put together ornaments and stockings. The girls will share the extras with their cousins when they come for Christmas.
We also made a couple of gifts for their mommy and daddy. But we can't be giving any previews of those. Secrets are part of Christmas, you know! (We'll see whether Brooke can keep from sharing before Christmas morning.)
The day ended with Frozen Junior, a musical at Topeka Civic Theater.
It was the perfect length for young audience members, even though Kinley did say they left out some key elements of the movie version. And I got a scene-by-scene synopsis of Frozen 2 on the way back to their house. Eric says I won't have to see the actual movie.

As they used to say in the newspaper society columns, "A good time was had by all" (including their parents who got away for the day for Christmas shopping and time with friends).

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Path to Success

Check out a project our son, Brent, has been working on for the K-State College of Business Administration. His first interview is with K-State football legend turned entrepreneur Kevin Lockett.

A podcast interview series that asks successful Kansas State University College of Business alumni about the twists and turns in their career paths and what they’ve learned along the way.

Episode one of Path to Success features an interview with K-State football legend Kevin Lockett. In it, he discusses his time playing for Bill Snyder, his transition from the NFL into a decade helping entrepreneurs grow their businesses with the Kauffman Foundation, and his current role as a partner and CFO with Fulcrum Global Capital - a venture capital fund focused on investments in the agriculture and animal health sectors.
Listen here: