Hello!  I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas with family and friends and that you weren't among the stranded due to the snow storms that hit last week.  We were very lucky here in Latrobe.  The leading edge of the storm system stalled just to the west of us and while places just

about 100 miles from here were dealing with over a foot of snow, we had sunshine and 60 degree temperatures!  That sure didn't last long, though.  We haven't gotten the snow (just an inch or so on the ground), but it sure is cold.  The high the last couple of days has been in the teens.  We've had a fire going every day to help cut down on propane use.
    School wrapped up for the holidays last Wednesday and with Christmas falling on a Saturday, Tim had both Thursday and Friday off from work.  It was nice to have the extra help around to get ready.  We went shopping Wednesday evening by ourselves to finish up the kids' gifts.  The crowds and lines in the stores really weren't too bad and we accomplished a lot.  We also ran into a bit of "excitement" in Sears.  An elderly man had a heart attack in the restroom and while they were waiting for the paramedics, a nurse started CPR.  She couldn't maintain it herself and security called for anyone who knew it to help.  Tim was the only one to respond and he and the nurse kept it going for over half an hour!  Sadly, the gentleman didn't survive.
    Thursday, we took the kids to do their shopping.  The crowds and lines were horrible!  After a few hours of rest and supper, Tim and I went back out to do the grocery shopping for Christmas Day.  Friday we spent the day cleaning, wrapping and cooking.  In the evening we went to church.  We went back to the one we had left earlier this year.  Enough time has passed to heal wounds and it was nice to be there.  They always have the most beautiful candlelight service.  The church is decked out with poinsettias, greens and decorations of red and white.  We always used to gather with some church friends for Christmas Eve and they invited us to join them.  It was wonderful to be back among them and everyone had a good time till the party mood was cut short by one man getting a phone call that his father had passed away.  So sad.  The man had just gotten home from visiting his dad in Chicago at 6:00 that evening and the call came around 10:30.  He was going to have to head back on Christmas morning.
    The kids slept a bit later than usual on Christmas morning, but we were still up and opening gifts at 7:30.  Tim and I were on a similar wavelength this year as I got him a new wedding band to replace the one he smashed at work 10 years ago and he got me a beautiful ring with some blue stones I don't recognize.  I have to have it sized so will ask what they are then.  The kids were thrilled with their gifts, too.  Mom and John joined us for dinner and later in the afternoon our friends, Helen, Dave and their daughter, stopped by.  We spent the evening playing cards and the new games the kids got.  Little Megan beat everyone at Texas Hold'em poker and ended up with all the chips.  Oh, how we laughed.  It was so much fun!
    Yesterday we ended up skipping church because at the last minute, Christmas with Tim's family was moved to our house.  The reason for that being we are only a couple of minutes from the hospital.  Tim's dad has been in intensive care since Dec. 17.  He went in because he was bleeding internally.  They've never isolated the cause of the bleeding because it stopped and also because they've had more to worry about.  Seems the blood loss caused his blood oxygen levels to drop and that in turn triggered a heart attack.  He needs a catheterization but has to be stable for them to do it and they just can't get him there.  His sugar has been spiking very high, then falling.  His sodium levels are through the roof.  At one point he was on a ventilator.  He is off that, but is now on a feeding tube and he isn't responsive at all.  They thought he might have had a stroke, but a CTscan yesterday came back negative.  Anyway, that's why Christmas was moved here.  Intensive care visiting is only at 9AM, 12PM, 3PM, 6PM and 9PM for 30 minutes at a time.  By coming here everyone could use the house as a base to come and go from.
    This should be a nice relaxing week (unless, of course, anything changes with Tim's dad) since the house is clean and the refrigerator is stuffed full of leftover goodies.  I'm looking forward to spending just a little bit of time not doing much of anything.  I've been fighting a cold for several days and a rest will be good for it.
    I do want to share a recipe with you that I found in Comfort & Joy, this year's Gooseberry Patch Christmas cookbook.  It's for a breakfast casserole and it uses lots of eggs, which is something I'd been looking for.  What's really nice is that you can make it up the night before and just slide it in the oven in the morning.  We had it Christmas morning and it was delicious!
Holiday Brunch Casserole
2-1/2 c. seasoned croutons
2 c. shredded Cheddar cheese, divided
1-1/2 lb. ground sausage, browned
6 to 8 eggs
2-3/4 c. milk, divided
3/4 t. dry mustard
1/2 t. salt
1/8 t. pepper
10-3/4 oz. can cream of mushroom soup
Arrange croutons in a greased 13"x9" baking pan.  Top with 1-1/2 cups shredded cheese, then with sausage.  Blend together eggs and 2-1/4 cups milk in a large bowl; add mustard, salt and pepper and mix well.  Pour egg mixture over sausage; cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate overnight.  Just before baking, blend together remaining milk and soup and pour over egg mixture; sprinkle with remaining cheese.  Bake at 350 degrees for one to 1-1/2 hours.  Serves 8.
A Happy and Prosperous New Year to all!!