New traditions…

Change. It’s never easy.

christmas tree lot

(photo credit: Steven Dipolo/Flickr)

Today a BIG change in our Christmas tradition happened.

My family will probably think I’m silly and overreacting about such a seemingly minor change. But I don’t care. I’m mourning the change…despite the fact that it’s medically necessary. Yes…I’m still bummed.

Here’s the deal…we’ve always had a REAL Christmas tree. For 32 years. Beginning with the “charlie brown” Christmas tree we had for our very first Christmas in New Orleans. Seriously, it was pitiful…but it was beautiful to me. We were far away from family…in our new home and simply couldn’t afford a big beautiful tree. My sweet husband had to work Christmas Eve; he stopped on the way home and picked up a free, leftover tree. It was small with bare branches. We didn’t even decorate it. It was perfect!

Shopping for our Christmas tree came to symbolize (for me) the beginning of our Christmas celebration. Through the years we shopped at various tree lots, Boy Scout lots, commercially owned lots, “whoever has the best price” lots. We’ve shopped in in the warm and cold, rain and snow, daylight and dark. We used to be a family of 4 scouring the lot for the perfect tree. We’ve had flocked and evergreen. As the kids have grown into adulthood, we’ve transitioned back to just hubby and I on the hunt. Memories of the anticipation, excitement, temperature, sights, smells, sounds, lights, fires in metal drums, sawdust mixed with evergreen boughs on the ground hold a special place in my memory and heart.

Last year we discovered a new reality. Within just a couple of hours of bringing the chosen tree into our home, my hubby came down with what would become a raging sinus infection. He was perfectly healthy prior to the tree entering our home. He has a history of some pretty nasty, seasonal sinus infections often progressing to bronchitis. We had just never noticed it in relation to the Christmas tree before….but it was crystal clear. The tree was definitely a trigger. So out it went! Immediately!

This weekend, after some supportive, comparison shopping with my daughter…we finally decided on an artificial tree. Purchasing it in a big box…bringing it home to the garage…just didn’t have the same “holiday feel” as picking out the perfect tree on a tree lot. My son helped get it out of the jeep and into the garage; so technically, we ALL were involved in picking THIS tree and bringing it into our home.



New traditions. I sense there are memorable new traditions yet to develop. And hopefully, my husband will NOT be sick over the holidays this year or into the future. Healthy holidays are the plan!

Disclaimer: Christmas is clearly NOT about the tree. I know that. I value that the celebration of Christmas is about the birth of Christ. The Christmas tree in our home is merely a seasonal symbol. I value the traditions which encourage us to focus on the true meaning of Christmas.

Thanks for “listening”…I’m feeling better already! That was a fun trip down memory lane. Perhaps some new ornaments and holiday decor will help with the transition…








He’s the Birthday Boy…

…and he’s my Dad!

With my Dad on his birthday last year

With my Dad on his birthday last year

Dad…on this day I want to especially thank you for the foundation of strength, wisdom and hope you provide for our family. I’m forever grateful that God chose YOU to be MY dad.

May God bless you richly in this new year of YOU.

I love you,


Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.


Grass-Fed Beef, Black Bean Chili – Recipe

This is the chili recipe that I made for my family last night. It received RAVE reviews…in fact, my husband said it was my best chili recipe yet!

I served it with grated raw white cheddar cheese, avocado, roasted jalapeno’s (roasted them whole until blackened on the grill and then sliced) and some organic classic round crackers.


  • 2 lbs grass-fed beef
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 3 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 – 15 oz cans organic black beans, with liquid
  • 2 – 15 oz cans organic tomato sauce
  • 1 – 28 oz can organic diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup diced green chilis
  • diced jalapeno’s to taste
  • 2 tsp cumin powder
  • 3 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 – 12oz beer (I used Yuengling, light lager – you could just substitute water but I like the flavor the beer imparts)

Brown the ground beef; drain off the fat. Saute the onions and celery in the pan drippings just to begin to soften. In a large pot, combine meat and all the remaining ingredients. Bring to a simmer over low heat. Stir every 15 minutes for 2-3 hours. Enjoy!

Great nutrition and warmth for a chilly winter evening!





Skinny Crock Pot Zucchini/Squash Ziti

Since I had such a great response to the Skinny Crock Pot recipe for Healthy Chicken and Dumplings yesterday, I opted to embark on another crock pot recipe from their site again today. If you haven’t yet checked out the Skinny Crock Pot website – you MUST! Great recipes and swift responses to any posts.

Admittedly, my daughter, Meg, made this dish earlier this week…I can’t get it off my mind! I’m already looking forward to leftovers for lunch tomorrow…so…I hope it doesn’t get all eaten tonight!! (I’ll be serving leftover Chicken & Dumpling’s to prevent that from happening..haha!)

Here’s the recipe…

I made the following modifications:

*organic ricotta cheese instead of cottage cheese

*whole wheat penne pasta

*one zucchini, one yellow squash

It’s in the crock pot now…I’ll update this post with a review and let you know what we think!!

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Family LOVED the ziti recipe!! I can’t wait to have some as leftovers for lunch tomorrow…I bet it’s even better than tonight! Cooking notes: at the end of 2 hours cooking on low, I stirred the crock pot and found some of the ziti partially cooked. Since we were planning on eating soon, I turned the pot up to high for 30 minutes. Ziti cooked perfectly. It was a wonderful dish!

Let me know if you try the recipe and how it turns out!



Healthy Crock Pot Chicken And Dumplings

Thanks to my daughter, I’ve been exposed to a new website dedicated to healthy crock pot cooking…check out

Healthy Crock Pot Chicken And Dumplings is on our menu tonight…

Healthy Chicken & Dumplings

via Healthy Crock Pot Chicken And Dumplings.


  • Stew Ingredients
  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth (no sugar/dextrose added)
  • 1 tbsp. marjoram
  • 1 tbsp.. garlic powder
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts – cut into small chunks
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large onion – peeled and diced
  • 4 large carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 4 stalks celery, cleaned and sliced
  • Dumpling Ingredients
  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tbsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 cup milk (any milk you typically use is fine. I currently use unsweetened almond milk.)


  2. Step 1 – Pour the broth into your crock pot.
  3. Step 2 – Add the marjoram and garlic powder to the broth and turn the crock pot to high.
  4. Step 3 – In a pan, combine the olive oil, onion, carrots and celery. Saute until the onions are translucent.
  5. Step 4 – Add the veggies and cut up chicken to the crock pot.
  7. Step 1 – In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt. Whisk to blend well.
  8. Step 2 – Pour in the oil and milk and mix with a wooden spoon.
  9. Step 3 – (Be sure the broth is hot before adding the dumplings to the pot) Using two teaspoons, scoop up and round off your dumplings and scrape into your pot. (Just like making drop cookies)
  10. I cooked this on high for about 3-1/2 hours. But if you need to cook it longer because you are leaving for the day (or cooking overnight), turn the crock pot to low and cook until the dumplings and chicken are cooked through. (My guess is about 4-6 hours). It’s important to know how your crock pot cooks here. Every crock pot is slightly different.
  11. Also, the dumplings will look a little odd after they have been cooking at the top of the stew all day. They create a sort of “crust-like” cover. Just break them up with a wooden spoon and stir them into the stew to finish cooking. Simply break one open to be sure it’s cooked all the way through.

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I followed the directions exactly, using organic ingredients and unsweetened almond milk. Stay tuned for our review!

Nutritional Content 1 serving – 1 cup

Calories: 145 Total Fat: 5 gm Saturated Fats: 1 gm Trans Fats: 0 gm Cholesterol: 27 mg Sodium: 269 mg Carbohydrates: 12 gm Dietary fiber: 2 gm Sugars: 2 gm Protein: 14 gm Estimated Glycemic Load: 5

Nutritional Information estimated at Data may not be accurate.

Recipe and Nutritional information shared from

8th Snow Event in Nashville?

It’s snowing…again.

I may have lost count but I think this is the 8th snow event for Nashville this winter season. I’ve lived here since 1986 and we’ve never before had this many winter events!

I really feel for the TDOT, Metro Police and Fire & Rescue workers. God bless them all…they must be exhausted!

I think I’m beginning to firmly grasp why some people become “snow birds” and move south for the winter. I do NOT think that historically this has been a trend from our area to move further south…but I’m willing to bet after THIS winter some people will begin considering it.

Somewhere in the Caribbean is calling my name…I may need to start visiting some locations to scout out a potential future winter home base. Suggestions?

Stay safe and warm Nashville!



What’s the nicest thing anyone has ever done for you?

I was inspired to ask this question after I saw my friend Beth post the very same question on her facebook wall. It was heartwarming to read all the responses.

Here’s mine:

About 10 years ago my father-in-law, who lived with us, suffered a massive heart attack and was not expected to survive overnight. All of my husband’s siblings (5 of them) lived in other states. We were able to get them mobilized and on flights quickly; unfortunately, Dad passed away before they got here.

Since we knew they were in flight, the hospital offered us the use of their chapel for the family to visit with Dad once they arrived. Rich and I were busy making phone calls and beginning arrangements waiting for them to arrive. We never left the hospital.

Two of my dearest friends, Lisa and Lucy, worked their magic and arranged for our family members to be picked up at the airport and brought to the hospital. Then, unbeknownst to us, these angels…went to our house…which trust me…was NOT company ready. They cleaned our house and stocked the kitchen with food for our guests.

I cannot begin to tell you what a blessing and comfort this was. Thank you doesn’t even begin to express our gratitude. Lisa and Lucy…Richard and I appreciate what you did for us more than you will ever know. May God bless you both richly!!

What’s the nicest thing anyone has ever done for you? Comment below – I can’t wait to read your stories.



Flip-flop Friday: Birthday Style

Today, January 14th, is my brother Stuart’s birthday.

I’d like to honor him today and wish him a very happy birthday! Stuart, I hope your birthday has been filled with FUN and that your family has spoiled you! I hope your “new year” is filled with everything you dream of.

I’d also like to honor our parents on the “birth”day of their only son. Since becoming a parent myself 25 years ago, I value my childrens’ birthdays much more than I do my own. I know this day holds very special memories for our parents. Congratulations Mom & Dad!

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It takes a long time to grow young.   ~Pablo Picasso

Happy Birthday, Stu!

May you continue your journey of growing young.

Yolo! We love you,

Jan & family

How do you stay entertained when you are snowed in?

Many people are snowed in today across the south and other parts of the country. I’m in Nashville and my yard has 3-4 inches of the white stuff depending on where you measure. I’m hearing reports of 3-10+ inches south of us, into Alabama and Mississippi. Another storm is due to come through tonight and will bring even more snow.

So…how do YOU stay entertained when you are snowed in at home…NOT at a vacation destination.

I’m sitting by the fireplace – reading, catching up on emails, checking facebook, writing this blog, etc. I’m also enjoying the view in our back patio area of the many birds flocking to the bird feeder my husband is keeping filled. My kids are going to “tease” me for being “old” by enjoying the birds…who cares! It’s fun watching them around the feeder and on the ground trying to find some food. The bright red cardinals are STUNNING against the white background of snow. It’s much more entertaining than watching the people flocking to Whole Foods and Kroger looking for food yesterday!

My husband and son are home as well; they are watching movies, Rich is doing some computer work; basically they are relaxing. Which is a good thing. They both deserve it.

I’d love to hear how YOU stay entertained when you are snowed in!

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