Hello Newcomer & Friends,
The holiday season is upon us again. Personally, I cannot believe how fast this year has gone. Do you feel the same way? During the month of November, we celebrate Thanksgiving. As I reflect upon my favorite holiday, I am reminded of sources and importance of gratitude. I am also mindful of the benefits of giving of ourselves to our family and friends.
Thanks = Gratitude
In a 2021 article from Harvard Health Publishing, we gain helpful insight into gratitude. “The word gratitude is derived from the Latin word gratia, which means grace, graciousness, or gratefulness (depending on the context). In some ways, gratitude encompasses all of these meanings. Gratitude is a thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible. With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives. In the process, people usually recognize that the source of that goodness lies at least partially outside themselves. As a result, being grateful also helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals — whether to other people, nature, or a higher power.”
Giving = Investing in Others
It is my personal belief and value that giving of time, simply investing in others, is the most impactful act of kindness. “Devoting time to others is a gesture of kindness and love that can not only make us feel good but also make others feel good and deepen our relationships. And because each social interaction is different, we have countless opportunities for new positive experiences.”
The Gift of Time – How to Do It
Source: Greater Good in Action
- Think of a person whom you care about.
- What might you be able to do for this person that entails nothing more than the giving of your time? Certain acts of kindness involve gifts of money or goods, but, in this exercise, your mere presence is the gift.
- Plan a gift of time for this person and give it, whether it means doing something with them (in person or virtually) or doing something special for them on your own. Try to set aside enough time to really connect with this person. You can spend a few hours or even a few minutes of your time, as long as your goal is to show your love.
- As you dedicate your time to that person, try to avoid any shortcuts or distractions. You might even consider taking off your watch or putting away your mobile device. Remember that the quality of your time is more important than the amount of time you spend with that person.
- If you did something for them on your own, do not tell the recipient of your gift how much time you spent. Let the gift speak for itself.
With gratitude, I am thankful and honored to serve as your president for this year. Thank you for the wonderful and memorable opportunity.
A sincere thank you to Karen Towles for all her hard work coordinating and hosting the Game Day event. Feedback from the 15 attendee members was very positive as they shared their enjoyment of learning new games, eating yummy snacks and making of new friends. A special shout-out and heartfelt thank you to the volunteer trainers. Without them, the day of fun and learning would not be possible. The six teachers and their game mastery are:
- Mexican Train: Brenda McCullough
- Hand, Knee and Foot: Carol Yanez and Donna Cerna
- Mah Jongg: Joyce Brady, Carol Costin and Nalini Amin
What are the benefits of attending a Newcomers and Friends Coffee Corner?
- Sit at an informal setting while making new connections and reestablish or strengthening existing relationships
- Enjoy good food
- Gain needed support for life’s struggles
- Celebrate life joys and events with others
The remaining Coffee Corner dates for 2023 and their locations are:
- November 16 at Telly’s
- December 21 at Egg Plantation
Attendance at the Coffee Corners are increasing. To ensure we plan on enough seating, please reserve your spot by contacting Kathy Valis. Kathy can be reached at 661.753.3108 or email
Are you interested in learning more about the monthly tea gatherings? Now is the time to sign up or to reach out to Janice Weiner with your questions. Janice, the monthly tea coordinator is currently taking sign-ups for 2024. She can be reach by calling, texting, or emailing. The Tuesday dates for 2024 are as follows:
- January 9th
- February 13th
- March 12th
- April 9th
- May 14th
- June 11th
- July 9th
- August 13th
- September 10th
- October 8th
- November 12th
- December 10th
Signing Up to Attend a Tea: How Does it Work?
Feel free to sign up for as many as you would like. The number of guests each month is determined by the individual hostesses and if guest lists are full, Janice places the names of the ladies who wish to attend on a wait list.
When you contact Janice to sign up, she would prefer an email, and if you don’t hear from her within 24 hours, she probably didn’t get your request, so please follow up with Janice.
Tea Wait List
If you are on a waiting list, mark the day on your calendar, as scheduling conflicts come up, and you are more than likely to be eventually included on the attendee guest List. Those scheduled to attend an upcoming tea, will receive an email from Janice 10 days before with the location information and what food item to bring.
If You Don’t Volunteer to Host a Tea, Can you Still Sign Up to Attend a Tea?
There is no requirement that you must host to be able to attend a tea. Janice shared these important related comments: “We would always love more people to volunteer to host, but some people just don’t have the room, and that’s fine.”
HOLIDAY COOKIE EXCHANGE: Saturday, December 9th – 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm – Lunch Will Be Served!
What are your favorite holiday cookies? Here are some of the cookies we make as a family each holiday. I plan to share a few yummy, sweet recipes next month.
- Chocolate Glazed Shortbread Cookies (either topped with coconut, walnuts, or crushed peppermint candy)
- Apricot Thumb Print Cookies
- Magic Cookie Bars
- Almond Snowball Cookies
- Oatmeal Cookies with White Chocolate & Dried Cranberries
Now that I made you hungry and hankering for a delicious treat, consider reserving your spot at the Annual Cookie Exchange hosted by Janice Weiner. Thank you, Janice for putting this popular event together!!
Please reach out to Janice by either phone (661.714.1117) or email by Saturday, December 2nd to let her know that you plan to attend.
Make and bring 3 dozen of your favorite holiday cookies to share. Containers will be provided for you to take home tasty goodies from your Newcomer friends.
DIG (Dining In Group) & DOG (Dining Out Group)
The next DIG is gathering is in December. One of the DIG members and her husband are hosting a holiday open house on a Sunday afternoon. DIG members are invited and are asked to bring one of their favorite holiday or traditional savory or sweet treats. Lively conversation and the making of great memories are sure to occur!
In November, my husband and I attended a Sunday brunch DOG gathering at Olive Terrace with seven other members. The food was delicious and the company tons of fun. What I enjoyed about this gathering was the group mix. We had couples and single ladies enjoying time together. The inclusiveness of DOG and DIG is something I believe is important and valued by many in our club.
LUNCHEONS & PROGRAMS: NOVEMBER, DECEMBER, AND JANUARY
Our November luncheon at BJs Restaurant was memorable. During the luncheon, we honored those who served or are currently serving in the military by providing a table for display of photos, military metals and ribbons and military burial flags. The ladies attending the luncheon stood in respect as we faced the American flag while citing the Pledge of Allegiance as led by Kathy Valis. Our guest speaker, Ed Littleton of Santa Clarita shared interesting stories of his years of military service and his post-enlistment for ministering to veterans experiencing PTSD. Ed and his lovely wife joined us for lunch and the ladies thanked him for the time spent with us and his years of service.
A great holiday program is planned for the December 14th luncheon located at Rattler’s restaurant. For a festive afternoon, we will enjoy a holiday sing-along led by two professional artists: singer, Madeline Vargari Newman and keyboard player, John Pramick. Please plan to attend the festivities and join into the holiday good cheer.
The January luncheon rings in the new year and the return of the ever-popular White Elephant.
- What is a White Elephant? It is a fun group activity of gift exchange. In New England, where I am from, we would refer to the White Elephant as a Yankee Swap. I just heard of a new name; the Dirty Santa…lol. What name do you prefer?
- What is the goal of a White Elephant? The goal is to laugh and have fun opening interesting, unique, or entertaining gifts rather than acquiring a gift of value.
2024 Board Positions
Looking ahead, we are beginning our planning process of filling 2024 board positions (starting in May) and have opportunities for you to serve on the board.
Why join the board? For me personally, it has enriched my life, deepened my relationships with Newcomer friends, provided wonderful memories and tons of laughs and most importantly as I mentioned in my opening to this month’s message, it has afforded me a way to give to others. My heart is full!
If you are interested in learning more, please reach out to me. We can chat on the phone or grab a cup of coffee together. My phone number is 661.233.6515.
Warm regards and hugs,
President of Newcomers and Friends
Friendship is a Thousand Kindnesses
Cheese Meltaways Recipe (An Old Time Appetizer Favorite)
These easy cheese meltaways made with Kraft Old English Spread are a crowd favorite. Made with just four ingredients, you can prep them ahead and serve after 15 to 18 minutes in the oven.
- 1 (5 oz) jar of Kraft Old English Spread
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
- 6 English muffins, halved
- Add Kraft Old English Spread, mayonnaise and seasoned salt to a mixing bowl.
- Use a hand mixer or whisk to mix everything up until smooth, well combined and creamy
- Spread the cheese mixture across the top of halved English muffins. If you use approximately 1-1/2 tablespoons per half of English muffin, you should have enough to top all twelve halves from a standard package of six English muffins.
- Bake on a baking sheet, with or without parchment paper, at 350° until bubbly and slightly browned on top, about 15 to 18 minutes.
- Remove from the oven, cool for 2 to 3 minutes, then cut into quarters. Serve on a platter
To make crab and cheese meltaways, add one can of drained crab meat before mixing together the Kraft Old English Spread, mayonnaise and seasoned salt. Be sure to check for shells in the crab meat before adding to the other ingredients.
ACORN SQUASH STUFFED WITH WILD RICE, PECANS AND CRANSBERRIES
- 3 acorn squashes, cut in half and seeded
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 2 medium yellow onions, diced
- 3 stalks of celery, diced
- ½ teaspoon dried sage
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 cups of brown or wild rice (we prefer wild)
- 3 cups of low-sodium vegetable stock
- ¾ cup of pecans, toasted and roughly chopped
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- 1 cup scallion greens, thinly sliced on a bias
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Brush acorn squash halves with two tablespoons of the olive oil and place cut-side down on parchment-lined baking sheet and set aside.
- Heat the remaining one tablespoon of olive oil in a medium saucepan (oven proof). Add the onions, celery, sage, and salt. Cook over medium-high heat for several minutes, stirring frequently, until onions are translucent. Add the rice and toast for a few minutes. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Cover and place saucepan in the oven. Put the sheet of squash halves in the oven as well.
- Bake rice for 45 – 50 minutes, until moisture is absorbed. Roast acorn squash halves for 45 minutes, until squash flesh is soft, and surface is browned.
- Remove both rice and squash halves from the oven. Let rice sit, covered for 10 minutes. Uncover and toss rice with pecans, dried cranberries, and scallion greens. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
- Stuff each squash half with a ½ to ¾ cup of rice mixture and serve. Yields: 6 servings.