Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Lights of Christmas

Last night I took a small group to The Lights of Christmas in Stanwood, an hour north of my home.  We were there for over 4 hours and still didn't see and do everything!  There are over a million lights on 15 walkable acres, plus live entertainment, activities for children, food, etc.
Here is our group.
"Peace On Earth"
In this lake scene (above and below), the lights changed to depict the cycle of the setting sun, 
and then the sunset..

This tree alone must have had several thousand lights!
Murtaja in front of the toy train depot.  (He took over half of the pictures I've posted.  He has an excellent camera and a good eye for composition.)
Kettle Korn for Sukinah and her daddy, Hussein.
DJ and Sue riding the Polor Express.
Dreauna and DJ in the candy cane tunnel.
Petting a little llama.
Listening to a local concert band perform.
Murtaja with acres of lights behind him.
I call this the gumball tree.
Fat penguins.
Not one bare branch on this tree!
Snow covered mountains and foothils made entirely of lights.
A model of a water wheel.
The Nativity
More mountains.
Acres and acres of lights.

This shows how the mountain lights are hung on the trees.

"Go in Peace, and the God of Peace go with you."

And this was just a fraction of the pictures we took!  As you can imagine, it is a hugely popular event --the largest of its kind in the Pacific Northwest.  An average of  50,000 people come to the 20-day event each year.  Over 800 volunteers donate more than 15,000 hours starting in September to get this event ready each year.  They also volunteer during and long after it is over taking down all those lights and carefully packing everything away for another year.  What a work of love!  

Still marveling over The Lights of Christmas,

Love, Homestay Mama

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

My Persian and American Friends

We are an informal group of local Persians and Americans who potluck together once a month at each other's homes.  What we have in common is first, a love of our Savior, Jesus Christ; secondly, a love of fellowship together; and last, but not least, a love of eating a delicious variety of healthy Persian, and American foods. Four of us are single, and the rest are married--and, I might add, to their first, and only, spouses.  That's quite an impressive record for married couples these days!  I'm next to the oldest in our group (our ages span from the early 40's to the mid 70's), but age doesn't make a difference to any of us.  My friends are such a blessing to me, it's like having a wonderful Christmas present all year long!
This month we met at Mitra and Esmaeil's home.  Mitra always puts on those extra special touches that make everything look so pretty.  I don't have her gift.  When it's my turn to host, I'm lucky if my house is clean!  Just look at all the beautiful Christmas touches Mitra added to her dining room.
She also froze pomegranate seeds in ice cubes and added them to a simple pitcher of water making it look so pretty and festive!  What a clever gal, she is!
Just look at this array of interesting (and beautiful) dishes.  Mitra made the bowl of yogurt in the front--it's a good accompaniment to the chicken.  Farzaneh made the bowl of tabbouleh in the back, one of my favorite salads.
Have you ever seen chicken drums this pretty?  Mitra removed the skin for all us cholesterol-conscious folks before seasoning and baking them. They were uber delicious!
Mavosh formed these cutlets with rice, onion and ground beef before dipping them in bread crumbs and frying them.  Mmmmmm--so tender and tasty!
Mitra made this fancy platter of rice--by adding lima beans, dill and saffron for flavor and color.
Mitra also experimented with quinoa--she added raisins, currants, and spices to give this dish a wonderful flavor.  If you haven't already guessed by now, Mitra is a gourmet cook!  She's been trying to teach me how to cook some of her culinary delights, but I'm a slow learner.
And what did I contribute?  Just a plain ol' platter of fresh vegetables and dip that weren't even worthy of a picture--trust me!

Grateful for my Persian and American friends,


Homestay Mama

Sunday, December 4, 2011

It's Starting to Look a Lot Like Christmas

Santa's helpers:  Ezra (Indonesia) and Tae (South Korea).  
First you feed them...

...then you get them to build the tree!  

In the past I'd take my students an hour north to Arlington where there's an excellent choice of Christmas tree farms, and we'd cut our own.  But every year little critters managed to hitch-hike home with us. Three years ago one of those critters spun its own Christmas decoration between the angel atop the tree and the ceiling, and that did it for me!  The very next year I switched from cut your own to build your own!

Ezra hangs the last decoration on the tree.

Then Tae exclaimed, "I've always wanted to hug a Christmas tree!"

Tae and Ezra even strung Christmas lights outside for me!

Santa's helpers were awarded chocolate brownies, ice-cream and sparkling cranberry juice
for all their labors.

Tae:  "Yes, Santa, I've been a good boy all year!" 

Oh, it's starting to look a lot like Christmas....


Homestay Mama