Sunday, December 27, 2015

Happy New Year! Be Back Soon!

We had a beautiful Christmas! On both Christmas Eve and Day, there was a light snowfall, which made everything look so pretty and festive. On Christmas Day, my husband and I were enjoying s a cup of coffee in our kitchen when we noticed a big, handsome mule deer buck enter our backyard.  I opened the door and stepped outside to take a video of him, which you can see on my facebook link here.  The deer saw me and actually walked right over to me and stood in front of me, just about three feet away!  I took another video of him for a few more seconds, which you can watch on this facebook link, and then I stepped back inside. It was a very special encounter with this beautiful animal, and one I will never forget! (All photos will enlarge for easier viewing if clicked on)

We had a wonderful feast on Christmas Eve with my family.  I made both fish and meat for dinner, as some of my guests prefer one over the other, and dessert was Christmas cookies as well as a trifle.  We ate and ate and laughed and had a good time

Our grandchildren enjoyed opening their gifts ....both at our house on the eve and theirs on the day.

They are the light of our lives and bring us so much joy!

I will be taking a short blog break again, as I will be having eye surgery this week. Please keep me in your prayers for a good outcome and a complication-free recovery. If you missed my posts about the surgeries I will be having, you can catch up here and here. As soon as I am able to see my computer screen again I'll let you know how everything went.  In the meantime, have a very Happy and Healthy New Year! May 2016 bring only wonderful blessings to your life, and peace to our world. I look forward to "seeing" you all again in the new year.

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Sunday, December 20, 2015

Comfort and Joy for a Merry Christmas!

We have had many dreamy white snowy days in the month of December in our area of Colorado this year.  We are guaranteed to have a "white Christmas" this year as more snow is predicted for Christmas Eve. (All photos in this post will enlarge if clicked on)

One snowfall was almost 15 inches accumulation, which broke a record for snowfall in the Denver area for that date.

Even our local deer had a hard time navigating through that snowfall!

This snowy season was the perfect weather to stay inside and be cozy. I was able to do some decorating for Christmas, although I've had some ups and downs post op after eye surgery in early December.  It has been a challenge, as I was not able to bend or lift anything heavy, but my husband and I managed to put up a lovely Fraser Fir tree and bake some traditional cookies together. I did not want to disappoint my grandchildren who look forward to enjoying a part of the holiday with us!

I made a visit to the annual Denver Christkindl German Market on opening day to enjoy the food, music and to shop at the vendors. This has also become an annual tradition for me. Although I am not of German descent, I enjoy the festivities very much. You can click here and here and here to read past blog posts I wrote about the market.

Ms. Lily Goetz was this year Christkindl --she represents the Christ child who in German tradition brings gifts to the children on Christmas Day in Germany. The large heated tent on the grounds of the market was full of happy revelers who enjoyed the free entertainment, music, and dancing.

As always, there were many wonderful vendors at the market that had many gifts, decorations, and food available for purchase.  I always find something charming to buy!

I was also able to make my annual visit to the Colorado Governor's Residence at the Boettcher Mansion. You can see past years visits here and here.  Every year there is a new theme and a new group of designers who decorate the mansion.  This year's theme was "Colorful Colorado."

The drawing room was done in "5280 Shades of Blue."  5280 measures in feet of being a mile high and that is what Denver's altitude is. The team of Eva Puterbaugh and Lynn Williamson decorated the room using blue ornaments on the trees, bluestocking hung on the fireplace mantel, all embroidered with the names of a few of Colorado's 54 total 14,000 + foot mountains. As a touch of humor, a big blue stuffed bear sat on the Steinway piano bench--an obvious reference to the big blue bear statue that peeks into Denver's Convention Center.

The library's theme, designed by Colleen Heldt, was "Powder Days" and was decorated in cozy white throws and pillows and white ornaments on the tree

The main dining room was decorated as "Purple Mountain Majesty" by Carol Moore. The fireplace in the room was wrapped in purple lights and the dining table had many touches of purple. As a bit of whimsy, a portrait of Queen Elizabeth was hung in the room as another example of "majesty" beside the paintings of Colorado mountains and waterfalls.

The large and sunny palm room was decorated with the theme "Golden Waves of Grain" by Julie Kass and Michelle Alleman. There were paintings of the golden plains filled with growing grains, white lights and golden reindeer, bunches of grain sheaves in vases, and ornaments made of wheat

Another portion of the large Palm room contains an ancient well imported from Italy and was decorated in the theme "Ever Green" by Annie Huston and Stephanie Tardiff with extra greenery and ornaments.

Finally, the mansion parlor and bar area were decorated with the theme "Red on the Rocks" by David J Rote. There were musical instruments on display and the tree was decorated with red ribbon and framed portraits of jazz legends.

Every year I like to point out the magnificent Waterford crystal chandelier that hangs in the Colorado Governor's residence drawing room that once hung in the White House ballroom during President Grant's administration in 1876. It was a gift for Colorado's entrance into statehood that year.  We were told on the tour that recently the first lady Michele Obama asked for its return to the White House, as did First Lady Jackie Kennedy, years ago.  Both times Colorado declined to surrender the chandelier, as it has become a treasured memento.

Click on to enlarge this photo collage to see more beautiful holiday decorations in the mansion.

All in all, I have been enjoying this joyous season.  The beautiful "Trail of Lights" at the Chatfield division of the Denver Botanic Garden, visiting Santa Claus with the grandchildren, seeing the holidays lights and decorations in Denver, seeing Santa Claus arrive in Littleton.

Of course, the real reason for this season of joy is the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  May all who believe allow His love and peace to enter our hearts and homes this Christmas.

Wishing you all a very Merry and Blessed Christmas! 

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Monday, December 14, 2015

A Merry and Bright Birthday!

I hope everyone is having a very joyful holiday season! I am very behind on all my usual Christmas preparations, because of recovering from eye surgery, but our Colorado weather makes me feel as if I am living in a virtual Christmas card! Our neighborhood has received a few inches of snow on and off for the past two weeks and everything looks so beautiful. (All photos will enlarge if clicked on)

My oldest grandson was turning seven this past weekend, so to celebrate we all went to White Fence Farm -- a family-style restaurant.  *I am sad to update this post in 2020 to say that White Fence Farm restaurant closed in 2018 due to labor shortages and loss of revenue, so this post is now a delightful memory of what was a wonderful part of Colorado history for 45 years.

I took these photos last summer of the beautiful grounds and animals on the restaurant's grounds.

The placemats show a map of all the White Fence Farm features--please click on to enlarge. 

They serve unlimited appetizers with their dinner menu of hot corn fritters, pickled red beets, creamy coleslaw, red kidney bean salad, and a special blend cottage cheese. They have a full dinner menu but are famous for their fried chicken.  It's very unique and very mid-western!

There are many charming places and displays inside the buildings. My granddaughter enjoyed the play farmhouse and the talking chickens...

...while my grandsons enjoyed the "pig chute" indoor slide 

Every nook and cranny of White Fence Farm was beautifully decorated for Christmas!

It was fun to see all the fun and festive touches. I even took my Christmas card photo of our grandchildren in one section.

The restaurant gift shop had many beautiful Christmas items for sale.

There is even a room that has year-round decorations that are for sale called the "Colorado Christmas Room."

We gathered early so the children could play but it was now time for dinner and we entered the main dining room.

As we were checking our menus Santa Claus came to our table and surprised us all!

Santa sat down and spent quite a nice time talking to all the grandchildren. They were thrilled!

After dinner, my grandson was surprised again with an ice cream sundae brought by the wait staff, who were also singing "Happy Birthday" to him!

It was a very Merry and Bright 7th Birthday celebration for our dear grandson "L"!  He brings a lot of love and joy to our lives.....he's a wonderful big brother, soccer player, karate champ, cub scout and future scientist!

I hope you are also having a Merry and Bright day!

I also wanted to thank my friend, Linda, of the blog Chow Ciao Linda, for surprising me with a tin of her homemade anginetti cookies. You can get the recipe for these light and flavorful cookies on her blog here.  Everything Linda makes is so delicious!  She really brightened my day while I was recovering from the first phase of my eye surgery. Thank you all for your prayers and good wishes!

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Thursday, December 10, 2015

True Colors After Eye Surgery

Hello!  I'm back online for a few weeks!  Thank you all very kindly for your prayers and well wishes on round #1 of my glaucoma and cataract eye surgery. ( If you missed that blog post click here to read)

All went well during surgery on my right eye, and I am now looking forward to having the same surgery on my left eye at the end of the month. I'll admit my vision is a little confused right now.  I am still healing from surgery and remain on physical restrictions, such as no lifting or bending. So far the vision in my corrected right eye is 20/40--better than I expected!  I had to take the lens out of my glasses on the right side, otherwise, my old prescription would be overwhelming.  So for now, one eye is corrected by an external glass lens and the other internally by a new lens inserted in my eye to replace the cataract affected lens. It can be a challenge focusing, because of the differences in perception I have presently.   I find I have to close my eyes often and rest them.   I will also eventually have to be fitted for reading glasses, as my corrected lenses will be corrected for distance vision only.

To correct my glaucoma condition,  the surgeon did a trabeculectomy -- which means he made a small "bleb" on the top of my sclera which allows the extra fluid to build up in my eye to seep out inside and be absorbed by my body.  I do not feel any discomfort from this and I'm totally unaware of any drainage. My eye pressure went down drastically to a normal reading post-op, so my doctor is very pleased. I was not responding to pressure-lowering glaucoma medication any longer so this surgery was really imperative for me to have.  My doctor told me that in 25% of cases the bleb will scar over and stop working, however, so future surgery might be needed.  I am hoping and praying that I'll be in the other 75% category!

One dramatic difference I've noticed after surgery is that I see colors brighter and more natural.  My left untreated eye sees things with a yellowish-brown cast and the post-op right eye sees bright whites and blues--all colors, in general, are true colors.  It really is amazing! You can read about cataracts, and why this occurs, on this link. My major symptom pre-op was glare and loss of visual detail. I did not even know I wasn't seeing colors correctly any longer.  It was hard to see individual leaves on trees, for instance. I would see more of a blur of leaves.  When my other eye is corrected I am going to enjoy seeing the detail and true colors again!

What a miracle it is to come out of the fog and to see more clearly!

My husband has been wonderful, helping me this past week by doing all chores that require lifting or bending, and reminding me of when to use my antibiotic and steroid eyes drops that I'll need to use for a short while post-op.  We have a good laugh every morning as he helps me to put on socks.

We bought a smaller Christmas tree this week so that he could carry into the house unaided, and we are slowly decorating the house for Christmas. I will probably cut back this year on all my usual preparations, but that's OK--it is nice not feeling pressured.  My granddaughter, that we babysit for most days, has been a little confused why "Pop-Pop," as she calls her grandfather, has to do all my lifting and bending, but we are still able to have fun together.  She was very excited to see she was taller than our Santa Claus decoration this year!

I hope to get back to a regular blog schedule until my next eye surgery at the end of December.  At that time I will again be unable to use a computer, read or watch TV for five days post-op, so I will be taking another break for a week at that time.   

Please keep me in your prayers, as I continue on this journey towards better vision.  I truly appreciate all your encouragement and I hope my experiences will help others facing the same surgery one day.

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Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Taking a Break for the Gift of Sight

As the Christmas approaches, and we begin to think about buying gifts for loved ones, I have to tell you about the ultimate gift I received last November, from someone I do not know and will never meet.  I carry a piece of them forever, however, as this person had agreed to be an organ donor upon death and I am the recipient of one of their corneas, that was transplanted onto my eye early last November

I have been battling an eye condition for many years that was slowly taking away the vision in my right eye.  When I would visit my ophthalmologist, every three months, in New York, I would hear a sharp intake of breath and a sigh as she looked at my eye in her microscope. She did not have to tell me that I was losing my vision.  Not even seeing the large "E" on the eye chart told me that.  I had corneal dystrophy--it was thinning and clouding--and I was prone to eye irritation, infection, and corneal abrasions. My New York ophthalmologist told me there was nothing that could be done, but when I moved to the Denver, Colorado area three years ago I was told that a cornea transplant would be the solution to this problem and the group of doctors I was seeing were among the best doctors in the state to do that procedure. My transplant cornea came from the Rocky Mountain Lions Eye Bank, an organization that yearly provides about 2,000 corneas for transplants in both Colorado and Wyoming, and to locales beyond if there is no local recipient on the waiting list. The Lions Clubs have long been active in service to the blind and visually impaired and began providing support for eye banks more than 60 years ago. Today there are over 60 Lions eye banks in nine countries that provided the "Gift of Sight" to thousands of men, women, and children.  If you are looking for an excellent charity to contribute to this holiday season, donate to your local Lions Club or the Lions Club International, to help them continue their work in alleviating blindness.

Thankfully, all went well with my surgery and the transplanted cornea healed. My vision improved to the point where I could actually read the eye chart to the third of the fourth line--better, but not perfect. It turns out that I had also developed cataracts and glaucoma in both eyes over the years, and both conditions have effected my vision to the point where all clarity and definition had been lost.  These conditions are most often age-related--especially cataracts, which is the stiffening and clouding of the inner lens of the eye. Glaucoma is often a hereditary condition, but there are many factors that can cause it, and being over 60, as I am, is one such factor.

To control glaucoma I've had to use quite a few eyedrops the past two years, plus I've had to use a steroid and antibiotic eye drops after my corneal transplant surgery. Keeping all the drops scheduling in line was a task.  I was able to manage them all without difficulty, but unfortunately, I developed a severe allergy to one of my glaucoma medication drops that severely irritated both eyes. The other eye drops were not working as well either, and my eye pressure continued to dangerously rise, impairing my vision. This lead to my doctor's decision that I need surgical correction in both eyes.  I'll be doing one eye soon, and a few weeks afterward I will have surgery in the other eye.  Recovery is slightly more complicated than the usual "do not bend or lift objects over 5 pounds for two weeks, or more," that most eye surgery entails. I will also not be able to read, watch TV, or use a computer or phone screen for a week to ten days, and it will take longer for me to reach full recovery and healing.

This means that this......

....will probably not be happening on such a grand scale in my home this year! If I am able to decorate it will be on a much smaller scale.  That's OK-- Christmas is much more than decorations, cookie making, and Christmas card writing, isn't it?

I have enjoyed Christmases in the past without any decorations in my home when I was traveling. Christmas is really about the love of family and welcoming Jesus into our heart again as our Lord and Savior,  The same Christmas Nativity that has graced my home since I was married 41 years ago will be on display again in my home, and that is really all the decorations that I need as a tribute and celebration of His birth.

Hopefully, the "Gift of Sight" will be one of my greatest gifts in the year 2016, after both my surgeries are completed.  I want to have many more years of watching my precious grandchildren grow! They are the best gifts of all!

I'm not sure how long it will take me to be back to blogging fully, but I will try to write a new post as soon as I am able and I'll let you know how my vision is progressing.  I have many photos to share of an amazing trip I recently took to SW Colorado where I saw the magnificent San Juan Mountain ranges and visited the charming towns of Ridgway, Ouray, and Telluride. This area of Colorado is called the "Switzerland of America" and it is truly a beautiful part of Colorado.

Look at the view of these mountains that we had from the house where we stayed for Thanksgiving week...

It was really a joy to be in such a beautiful place with my family and it was a wonderful way to help keep my mind off my impending surgeries. 

I have been truly blessed in my life and I am grateful for each and every day. I may not have the best, most perfect eyes, but they have shown me so much beauty throughout my life, and in all my travels. Please say a prayer for me that all will go well, that I will not suffer any complications, and that my vision will improve to the best that it can.

Please click on the highlighted links in this post to learn more about the eye conditions I wrote about, and please make a New Year's resolution to include a visit to an optometrist or ophthalmologist to have an eye check if you have not had one in recent years. 

Thank you, my readers, for your long and loyal following of my blog.  I fully plan to continue writing Mille Fiori Favoriti as long as I am able, as it has enriched my life in so many ways.  I began this blog in 2007 and it has brought me friendships from around the country and around the world!  To each and every one of you, I wish you a beautiful and blessed holiday season and a very Happy and healthy New Year.

I'll "see" you soon!

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