Monthly Archives: December 2015

KN, p. 160 “Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays for All”



2015 has been a year of challenges for most of the world, with violence at home and abroad in the news every day. If it’s not about international military and/or political power struggles, the media is probably telling us about government conflict or sadly, the latest shooting perpetrated by a disturbed individual. I can’t remember the last time when so many people were so angry about so many aspects of the world in which we live.


And yet, if you ask how they are, how the family is, nothing much has changed. Friends and family members may get sick, lose a loved one, have trouble at work or experience a bump in the financial road, but most would say they are happy overall – that they live a life that’s good.


We may not be able to control what happens outside our circle, but we can control our reaction to it. And we can certainly control our reaction to the events inside our personal world.

During this Christmas, and whatever your holiday season, let’s all promise to:

  • Be kinder to each other, including Uncle Tim who tells the same stories every holiday. You’ll miss those stories when he’s gone.
  • Be gentler in our responses to each other, even when Auntie May spills her coffee again. You’ll need help someday, too.
  • Be less critical of each other. Your way may not be the only way to get the job done.
  • Hug a friend. Hugs are full of comfort.
  • Smile. Often. You’ll feel better.
  • Call a relative or friend that doesn’t get out anymore. Five minutes. That’s all it takes to change a person’s day.
  • Give the gift of time. Stop texting and talk to your friends and family face-to-face. Memories are made when people laugh and giggle together.
  • Give the gift of forgiveness. Soften your heart and forget the small stuff before it gets to be the big stuff.
  • Write a letter and snail mail it to the older people in your life. Not everybody has email.
  • Make every day count. Volunteer, serve, donate. Make someone’s life easier.
  • Give the gift of love. It means the world.


Above all, have a wonderful Christmas/holiday season and a slam dunk great 2016!


The Kerrians will be back in January with Charlie’s New Year’s Resolutions. 🙂


*Photo by Patti Phillips – Notre Dame Basilica, Montreal, Canada


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KN, p. 159 “What IS that in your carry-on?”



Traveling during the holidays? We all try to stuff too much into the carry-ons, but there are special rules for what you can and can’t bring with you on the flight.


Just in case this is the first time you’re flying since 2001, when the regulations changed for everyone, here are two of the biggest no-no rules:


Don’t carry knives

Don’t carry guns


There are signs near every single U.S. security check area for carry-on luggage showing you the general list of what CANNOT be brought onto the plane, and some of the baggage check-in counters have physical examples of the no-nos. Here is a partial list of items that the TSA doesn’t want on the planes:


  • Aerosols
  • Blasting Caps
  • Dynamite
  • Fire Extinguishers
  • Fireworks
  • Flammable Paints
  • Gasoline
  • Grenades
  • Liquid Bleach
  • Explosives
  • Spray Paint
  • Tear Gas
  • Turpentine
  • Vehicle Air Bags


Why do you suppose people want to bring these items onto the plane? Because they are probably trying to avoid the extra baggage fee. Guess what? Nobody wants to sit next to a passenger that stows dynamite under the seat, no matter how much it is needed it for your business. Check with your airline for other no-fly items.


Click on the TSA link for their list:




The TSA has actually had to confiscate:


  • Lipstick holder that contained a knife instead of lipstick
  • A bag of exotic snakes
  • Pliers with a knife as one side of the tool
  • Loaded guns packed in a suitcase with stuffed toys
  • Knives in the form of an interlocking belt buckle
  • Grenades
  • Book with carved out inner section holding bullets
  • Anti-tank weapon
  • C4
  • Mace (the weapon seen in medieval jousts)


Click on the link below for other items that can’t be transported in the passenger section of a plane, and in some cases, not at all:




Suppose all your stuff is legal and you are good to get on the plane. All your shampoos and other liquids are stowed in your checked luggage. But, you still have a lot of carry-on paraphernalia – Laptop, book, coat, food for the plane, presents. Hmmm…


Space on a plane: It’s the time of year when people want to bring back the presents they have been given at their holiday gatherings. Unfortunately, most of them do NOT fit in the space below the seats or in the overhead storage. Those overhead spaces are SHARED space, meaning that you are allowed a space that is about the size of a weekender suitcase on a cross country plane with 100+ passengers.


If you are flying on a regional jet, there is barely enough room for a briefcase or a jacket up there, let alone packages or suitcases. Think kid’s backpack for overhead space size on a regional jet. You may be asked to keep your coat on, rather than stow it and in most cases, you will not be allowed to keep the presents/laptop/iPad in your lap during takeoff or landing. I’ve been on flights that have been delayed while extra items are taken off the passenger part of the plane and checked in with the baggage.


Your solution? Have your friends/family mail the packages to you. It’s cheaper than you think.


Take a look at the photo at the beginning of this article. No matter how much Sheila wanted to bring the Santa, the books and the maracas onto the plane, they did not fit into her carry-on. The bag is the regulation size (12” ruler in front of the bag) that fits under the seat and will fit nicely next to a laptop case in that same space. BUT, it is not big enough for the Santa, etc. We had to ship them back to our house at a cost of about $25.


Connecting flights: Plan ahead for your trip. If you have connections, see if both planes are the same size. Generally, they are not. And the different sized planes have different overhead space and under the seat space. I flew on a plane that had NO overhead space at all. That’s where the life jackets and oxygen masks were kept. Ask ahead, so you won’t be surprised and can pack or ship accordingly.


True story: Back in the 90s, a guy tried to board a plane in the Caribbean with a car door in tow. He needed it as a replacement part. He was given the option to have it placed in the cargo hold. He wouldn’t agree, so he and the door stayed behind. The entire incident defied logic because the door didn’t fit into the seat rows and certainly not in the overhead compartments. Plus, it was heavy! LOL


Have a safe flight and be kind to your fellow passengers and flight attendants! 🙂 That way, the Air Marshals won’t have to get involved. (What does the TSA really do?)



*photo by Patti Phillips




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KN, p.158 “Shrimp Cream Cheese Baked Potatoes”



It’s holiday cooking time and that means special side dishes to go with your great entrees. Here’s one that Sheila and I really like because it goes with all kinds of poultry and beef. We’ve never tried it with ham, but I bet it would be a tasty alternate to the sweet potatoes we usually serve with the pork dishes. We often do Cream Cheese Bakes for our baked potatoes and we add the shrimp at the holidays.


I found a leftover shrimp baked potato in the frig and discovered that the addition of the shrimp makes the dish hearty enough to stand on its own as a lunch – add a salad and you’re good to go. Alone or with dinner, it’s a favorite at our house. This is also a make-ahead dish, so you can refrigerate the finished potatoes for a day until you are ready to reheat them for dinner.


No bodies were found anywhere in the vicinity, except those overstuffed folks taking naps while recovering. 😉

Shrimp Cream Cheese Baked Potatoes
Recipe type: side dish
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • Idaho or russet potatoes, 1 for each person
  • Milk, 1/2 to 1 tablespoon each potato
  • Margarine for rubbing on the skin of each potato (optional)
  • Margarine (or butter) 1 heaping Tablespoon each potato
  • Whipped cream cheese, (Temptee or Philadelphia) 1 heaping Tablespoon each potato
  • Sea Salt, ½ teaspoon each potato
  • Large cooked shrimp, 4 for each potato, deveined and shells removed
  • 1 Tablespoon butter or margarine
  • 1 teaspoon powdered garlic
  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Scrub potatoes, rub margarine on outside to create more tender, tasty skin (optional).
  3. Place skewers lengthwise through center of potato. Prick potatoes with a fork.
  4. If buttered, place sheet of aluminum foil on rack below where potatoes will sit, to catch the drippings.
  5. Place potatoes directly on oven racks and bake for 20 minutes.
  6. Set aside two whole shrimps for each potato. Cut the rest of the shrimp into 1/4 inch pieces and refrigerate all shrimp until ready to use.
  7. Flip potatoes in oven every 20 minutes and prick again. Cook until potatoes feel soft when squeezed (about 50-60 minutes total).
  8. Remove from oven and let cool 10 minutes on cooling rack (or cool enough to handle while scooping)
  9. Cut the fully baked potatoes in half lengthwise and scoop out insides (leaving the empty skins intact) and place pulp in mixing bowl. Set skins aside in baking dish, being careful not to tear them.
  10. Whip potatoes with electric mixer until smooth.
  11. Gradually add 1 heaping tablespoon margarine (or butter) for each potato until well blended.
  12. Gradually add 1 heaping tablespoon whipped cream cheese for each potato until well blended.
  13. Add milk only until fluffy (consistency of mashed potatoes).
  14. Add salt to taste (about ½ teaspoon each potato)
  15. Heat 1 Tablespoon butter or margarine in frying pan, add garlic powder and stir to mix. Immediately add all shrimp (whole and pieces) to the frying pan and lightly toss to coat.
  16. Add shrimp pieces only to potatoes and mix until just blended.
  17. Using large spoon, divide mixture evenly among potato empty skins. Smooth or texture surface with fork or back of spoon.
  18. Place one whole shrimp on top of each filled potato skin.
  19. Cover and refrigerate until ready to reheat.
  20. Just before placing in oven, insert a teaspoon of butter or margarine into each potato half and bake for 30 minutes to reheat.
  21. Test centers (should be hot to touch before serving).
Also need: potato skewers, aluminum foil, cooling rack, electric mixer and bowl, medium frying pan, shallow baking dish (big enough for all potato shell halves)

Enjoy!  🙂

*Photo by Patti Phillips



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