When December rolls around, you know what I’ll be doing.
Yes… time to make another Christmas jewel box.
I loved putting holidays pins, old watches, and snowy old ear clips on this tree to be auctioned at the Holiday Happening. I know the money raised will bless people in our community, and I hope the new owner will enjoy the box for years to come.
Not sure why we call them fried apples. They’re not fried. They’re sautéed in butter, actually. Nevertheless, I stick with the catchy name.
I made these one crisp and beautiful fall morning for the ladies who were coming over to the barn for Bible study. I was so surprised when half the group had never eaten apples this way. Oh my goodness! And of course, they loved them.
So! If you’ve never done this, you simply must. Anytime of the day, with any meal, especially grand with bacon and eggs, and absolutely perfect during the fall and winter… please have fried apples!
These were honey crisps. I use any kind of apple I find.
Cut them into bit sized pieces.
Put them in a skillet with a mighty hunk of butter.
A little salt. Cinnamon and sugar to suit your fancy.
Cook them on medium heat without a lid as much as you’d like. Leave them a little crunchy, or keep cooking that fabulous apple juice syrup down. You can’t go wrong.
Serve them piping hot and enjoy!
Post Script: Last week I only had one apple, so I sliced up a sweet potato and ‘fried’ them together in butter and brown sugar. Wonderful! Just wonderful! A new favorite.
On a very hot and steamy August day in Houston, my sister and my niece had a Christmas craft planned for our family reunion.
So it was a special treat to sit around the table folding those little magazines – laughing at old advertisements, enjoying 50 year old articles – working to create a new generation of Santas.
After that weekend the jolly Santa bellies headed east and west, and mine ended up in my craft closet where it waited months… just hoping for an icy cold day. And with snow covering the ground the week of Thanksgiving, it was time for me to finish my Santa.
I wanted him to be very much like Nana’s because I love it so much. (And guess what… you, my kind readers, love him too. His little article and his photo get clicked on almost daily, all year round. And he’s the number one image for Reader’s Digest Santas on Google and Bing. Nana would have been overwhelmed!)
Cutting away at old fabric, crochet remnants and ribbon… and having a ball with the glue gun and some old jewels, my morning was delightful, and I happily add this Santa to my collection.
Have you made one? Do you own one? Please leave a comment and tell us all about it!
I have this coffee making machine. I reach for a miniature container of coffee, with “Sumatra” printed on the foil top, place it in the contraption, push a button, and out comes a fabulous cup of dark liquid. I add a generous helping of heavy cream. It comes from a bright carton in my refrigerator. It was easy to purchase. I didn’t have to milk a cow.
While the gadget is taking care of filling my coffee cup, I open a new bag of dates. Their pretty labeling tells me they’re from Tunisia. It takes me a few seconds to find this place on the world map hanging on the wall behind my desk. I wonder if I’ll ever go there, or to Morocco or Turkey.
I begin to think of this amazing feat… getting this wonderful morning treat into my kitchen. Beginning with the date palm growers in Africa and the coffee bean farmers in Indonesia, I try to imagine all the links in the chain. Transporters, factory workers, marketers, store owners, cashiers – everyone doing their part to give me a 50 cent cup of coffee and a handful of delicious dates.
It’s astonishing. I’m spoiled. I’m thankful.
Before we left home, I was thinking about the boot photo… you know… where we put our feet in the picture and capture the view. I could imagine the photo with Everest in the distance, and a caption popped into my mind. “Sharing horizons that are new to us”.
Once we got there, it became a happy goal to take photos for that entire song. Thanks to “the team” for snapping our pictures along the way.
We’ve only just begun to live
Before the rising sun, we fly
Sharing horizons that are new to us
And when the evening comes, we smile
The final day on the trail. For over two weeks it had been my home. It was harder than I could have imagined. Far more gorgeous as well.
And after 15 long days, the morning arrived. We were leaving Monju – where we’d feasted on fresh apple juice from Didi Doma’s orchard, and delicious pumpkin soup from her garden.
Miles to go to finish this 80 mile trek. None of them easy. Massive stone steps to go up and down and around. But this day was as beautiful as the others. We were back in the “low lands”, around 9000 feet. Brilliant flowers, terraced fields.
We were exhausted. We were coughing and blowing our noses. We were exhilarated. Proud of our accomplishment. Anxious to get back to Lukla, where we would catch a plane the next morning… which meant only two or three days until we’d be catching planes to our own warm and comfortable homes.
Still… I wanted this day to crawl by. I was leaving rural Nepal – quite sure that I would never return. So I soaked in every little moment.
It was Divali – and in these Buddhist mountain villages, the Hindu holiday had spilled over to spread its cheer. Children were singing and dancing along the way – all dressed up for the festive holiday.
Weather had kept planes from landing in Lukla for the past two or three days, so the trail was packed with new arrivals. People, people, people, donkeys, donkeys, donkeys, yaks, yaks, yaks… leaving Lukla and heading north.
We looked into one another’s eyes… those of us coming down and those going up. We saw the anticipation in theirs. They saw the fulfillment in ours.
While the days at higher elevation were sometimes silent, this day was filled with joyous noise. The rushing river, music coming from the villages, constant bells from the animals. A surreal moment when we stopped for lunch… yak cheese sandwiches, potatoes, cabbage and carrots… Nepali music playing, then Celine singing “I’m Alive”. Yes, indeed!
The afternoon passed. I began to think of the evening when we would have our final meal with our porters… these amazing men who carried our loads. I knew I would cry.
So the tears that started flowing when I spotted the gate to Lukla caught me by surprise. Our team gathered just inside the memorial gate with congratulatory hugs. We had done it. We were back safely. Worn out! But safe.
Breathtaking beauty at every turn.
Nepal, you will always be in my heart.
Active Adventures, thank you.
Gary, your celebration plans for our 50th birthdays were grand.
I’m overwhelmed with happiness and contentment.
My soul sings and shall continue to.
My God… How great Thou art!
The day began with the alarm clock beeping in the dark. I was relieved. Sleep in such high altitude had been a bit labored. And I was excited. We were going to view the sunrise.
A cup of hot chocolate, many layers of down and wool, head lamps… we left our tea house in Gorak Shep to begin the climb up Kala Patthar.
We were racing the sun. It was behind the mountains, and we wanted to be high enough to see Everest – ever hiding behind the others. (Even the previous day when we’d hiked to Everest Base Camp, the top of that mountain continually tried to hide from us.)
But it’s incredibly difficult to race the sun when you’re on a steep incline, and the air contains only 50% of the oxygen you’re used to, and it’s in the teens with a wind chill making it extremely frigid. So, one slow step after another, six of us inched our way up the trail.
Surrounded by such massive peaks, Kala Patthar almost looks like a hill. (It’s the brown one in front of the white one.) We found the perfect ridge to sit and watch the Himalayas come to life at 18,000 feet.
It was the highest and coldest half hour of our trek in Nepal. And while I was ready to head back down for a hot breakfast and prepare for the nine mile descending hike for the day… I also wanted to stay there in that icy cold shadow of Mt. Everest. In every direction, the white beauties were changing colors, bright light hitting their steep sides. The rosy sky was turning soft blue.
I had not made it to the top of Kala Patthar, but that didn’t matter.
This was my hardest day. This was more gorgeous than I could have imagined.
Sitting there, staring at these incredible mountains. This was my summit.
You might be surprised at what you would label “luxury” after long hours on steep and rocky trails.
I give you the term for this… a Nepalese tea house.
There were no trucks bringing building supplies to these remote villages. If it’s there, it came on the back of a man or a yak (or a woman or a child).
And yet – here we slept in rooms with mattress pads, glass windows, slide bolts on the doors, huge and fluffy blankets.
Even more unbelievable, sometimes we had our own sink and toilet. Other times we still felt fortunate to share a toilet and sink with our fellow trekkers.
The small tea houses were my favorites, of course. A “bed and breakfast” really. Here a family would look after our team, cook us delicious meals, give us a fire in the wood & yak dung burning stove in the middle of our dining room.
Those dining rooms are charming. Views of almost indescribable beauty. Book cases with sweet accent pieces of lovely dishes. Cushioned seats along the walls with pretty little tables for our hot tea and meals.
Ginger tea, lemon tea, mint tea – these will forever remind me of my time on this journey. I am determined to plant mint in my rose beds next spring. Then I’ll pluck the fresh leaves, steep them in hot water, and I’ll be transported back to these high Himalayan villages and these wonderful tea houses.
Post Script – I wrote all that around 12,000 feet. Around 16,000 feet – as I was breaking ice out of a bucket with a rusty old can so I could “flush” the squatty potty, I changed the luxury status to “accommodating”.
We could not stop taking photos of the yaks. We could not stop taking photos of stupas and prayer flags, carved stone Mani walls, beautiful people, Himalayan mountains.
Please enjoy this trek with us. Double click the photos until you have them filling your screen... the quality is far better! Imagine the sound of yak bells, cold wind in your face, rushing rivers down below you.
Dhanyabad! Thank you for joining us.
(I’ve narrowed this down to fifty photos. They’re in the order they were taken. So… you begin in Kathmandu, work your way through valleys and mountains to Everest Base Camp, then back to Kathmandu.)
For 15 days we wound our way through the Himalayas – a fabulous trek from Lukla to Everest Base Camp near Gorak Shep, then back to Lukla.
We were eight Americans, from both coasts and in between. Our ages ranged over five decades… a happy band of pilgrims, traveling 80 miles together, and thousands of feet in elevation. (You have never – in all your living days – seen a group of people get so giddy over steaming hot towels served up on a platter just before dinner!)
There were three Kiwis with us – all guides with Active Adventures based in New Zealand, our two Nepalese guides, and our incredible group of five porters who carried our gear, our extra clothing, our battery chargers and alarm clocks. Always smiling under the heavy load.
So this is the daily routine —
Up early in the morning in a freezing cold room, switching out of sleeping clothes into hiking clothes, doing a little something with wet wipes to prepare for the day.
Stuff the sleeping bags and pillows, load the huge bag for the porters with toiletries, shoes, clothes, then set it out in the hall. This is harder than you might think when it’s 29 degrees in your room.
Off to the dining room for the breakfast (ordered the previous night after supper). Amazing menus! Truly! More variety than I could have dreamed. I ate plenty of boiled eggs… seemed to become my favorite staple.
Time to put on the backpacks and set off for the day. Either an acclimatization day-hike then back to our tea house for lunch, or making miles along the gorgeous, difficult, trekker, porter, yak, and donkey filled trail.
Two hours into the hike we stop for hot tea, always in a lovely place, always with a breathtaking view.
Along we go – listening to languages and accents from around the world, and the ever present yak bells.
Two hours later we stop for lunch, always in a lovely place, always with a breathtaking view.
After a rest, back to that trail. Our Nepalese guide leads us step by slow step along the way. Bistari, bistari… slowly, slowly. Even when our path was level with no rocks – a rare sight – we inched our way along. To climb ever higher into the thin air, we were in very safe hands. Lots of water breaks. Stopping to take photos anytime we wanted.
In the afternoons we arrived at our next tea house. Our porters had arrived much earlier, our quaint rooms were waiting, we gathered in the dining room to get instructions from our guide and place our supper order. More hot tea.
Buy some wifi if they have it, and do a little Facebook. (How unreal is that?)
To the rooms. Unpack. Do what you can with the wet wipes while you shiver out of your hiking clothes and into your sleeping clothes. Layer up, head to the dining room.
More hot tea, more delicious food, more instructions from our leader for the following day, then placing the breakfast order.
Off to bed, collapsing on the pillow… weary from the serious effort of the day, and thrilled with visions of majestic scenery while drifting off to sleep.
Well, I promised a report of the bridges, and a report I shall give.
What a silly girl I was to be nervous on my first crossing. Looking back, it was just a short little thing over a tiny stream.
At the time, it felt like I was high in the sky, crossing a raging river. And I was shaking while I involuntarily reached for the rail at each step… and I think I was also involuntarily whimpering out the words “yikes” or “oh my goodness” repeatedly.
Hee hee! How ridiculous. But how wonderful that my first day of bridge crossing on the trek gave me a couple of practice runs for the real thing.
Because the real bridges most certainly made their appearance the next day. Our guide told us we would cross the Dudh Kosi five times that day as we trekked to Namche. It means milky river, named for its beautiful glacier fed creamy color.
I lost track of the number of suspension bridges we traversed that day. We were crossing streams all along the way. (These streams are huge. If one of them ever flowed through New Mexico, songs would be written about it for decades!)
So I’m delighted to report that crossings grew easier and easier, and I was able to walk happily across, not feeling the urge to hang on for dear life, and without whining. But for some strange reason, I always had the realization when stepping back onto the firm earth on the other side that my heart was pounding. I believe it was just trying to keep pace with the thundering water hundreds of feet below.
By the end of the trek, I was thrilled with high bridges. The alternative meant hiking all the way down to the river, then all the way back up the other side of the river valley… both daunting tasks.
There is no way to capture the scene with a camera from my tea house bedroom window in Namche Bazaar this morning. I stood there doing my best to drink it all in, hoping I could describe it with words.
When we hiked in the afternoon before, the clouds were rolling in over the village. I wondered if there would be massive snow-capped peaks behind the layer upon layer of houses stacked on the steep hills.
The morning sunlight revealed – yes – there were.
Shall I start at the top, or at the bottom? Both places, equally beautiful!
I shall start with those white Himalayan beauties at the top of my view. They could be Everest – they are that huge. But they’re some other grand mountains, the highest in the world, and I cannot even remember their names.
They loom over and around this village, forever white, making the huge mountains in front of them almost seem small.
And then there are the stacks of quaint homes and tea houses perched on the valley walls of Namche. Our tea house is on the valley floor, right at the entrance to this enchanted place, and only a short walk to the shop lined streets.
So my view from my third floor room, I’m quite sure, truly must be the most special view of all.
I’m looking right down on the stupa, prayer flags in the bright colors of green, blue, red, white and yellow flowing in the morning breeze. I can hear the bells of the prayer wheels turning – or perhaps yak bells – I think a little of both.
Behind old rock walls, families are preparing for the day as the sun comes up.
I see a mother brushing her daughter’s hair. I see clothes, freshly washed in the freezing cold water of the stream, being laid out on tin roofs to dry.
Goats and yaks and donkeys are being fed as smoke rises from chimneys.
And I stand in my window, not wanting to move, overwhelmed at the privilege of watching this day unfold.