Upon arriving back home, I tucked the girls in for their naps. Thankfully, there was no gymnastics class to wake them up early for, so I was able to engage in the art of making dinner on a Monday night! This is a big deal. I have not felt much like cooking lately. Shepherd's pie called to me and I just made it up as I went. Must say, it turned out delicious. If you'd like to know, I simply browned a pound of ground beef, keeping the lid on the pan, so as to not let too much of the juices evaporate. You may want to add a little oil or butter as you go. Then, I chopped four or five medium potatoes into large chunks and put them into water to boil. As the beef browned and taters boiled, I chopped two celery and two carrots, along with about a half cup of onion. I then salted and garlicked (added garlic powder to) the nearly browned beef, adding in the veggies. When the veggies softened, I added half a small can of tomato paste and about a cup (or more) of water. I let simmer for about 10 minutes. In the meantime, the potatoes were ready to mash, just added butter and milk. I then placed the beef mixture into the bottom of a 9x13 pan, and spread the potatoes over that. I then placed the whole pan in the oven at 350 for 20 minutes. Lastly, I sprinkled grated cheddar over the whole thing. Wa-la! Shepherd's pie. If you are going for less dairy, you could just sprinkle the top of the taters with sweet paprika versus cheese.
It was a hit with my husband especially. He loves his beef.
We also said good-bye to our Christmas tree last night. While I was cooking away, my man took it down and the girls helped put away the ornaments. There is now an incredible amount of space in our living room. I must confess, I like it. My job will be to complete the tear down, putting away all the wreaths, sweet Christmas candles, and cheery stockings. I love Christmas, but I also love clearing out for a brand new year!
We are unsure what we are doing to ring in 2014. We may head to Bellevue for the last day of Celebration Lane, where fake snow pours down and for 20 minutes we enjoy a time of dancing to music and licking lollipops with a myriad of winter characters who beat drums and entertain us with their antics.
Either that, or stay inside, make a fire, watch a family movie and sip hot chocolate. And hail in the New Year with NYC at 9pm. Not a bad option.
In other (sad) news, my husbands's Uncle Tom has passed away. Yes, the one I had mentioned in my previous Thanksgiving post. The cancer took him quickly. God called his name and he went peacefully. Tom loved his family dearly, and loved to serve in his position as a pilot with Mission Aviation Fellowship. I have not had a close relationship with Tom, but I have been close with his wife. She is a good friend of mine, and she and her sons (Mike's cousins) were able to be with us over the holidays. They seem to be doing well, but I know their hearts are aching. It is so hard to communicate grief when one is going through it. Grief is funny. It ebbs and flows without warning. It causes us to feel volatile one moment, bringing us to our knees in tears the next, and stranger still, allows us to laugh when we feel joy because sometimes those moments help us to forget the pain we feel inside.
The best thing to do for someone who is grieving is to pray for them. If you reach out, and don't feel a response, just give space and time. Or drop of an anonymous gift or meal to them. Some people enjoy being surrounded by others, while some enjoy solace and privacy. Each are normal.
I remember when we lost Amelia, a dear sister at Bible study handmade a beautiful bracelet for me, with Brilla and Amelia's names stringed together in sterling silver blocks. When she handed it to me, she said she woke up to the gorgeous sunrise and felt prompted to pray for me, and could almost imagine Amelia sitting on our Lord's lap enjoying the light of God. This woman may never know how much her gift and words lifted me, but she was an incredible blessing.