December 31, 2006
Rest In Peace
My Great-Grandma would have turned 95 years old today. Mercifully, she left this earth yesterday morning.
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She was a woman who gambled with her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She loved us all, but she'd take our money without guilt. She taught us all how to play cards and moved to Reno to spend the rest of her days in beautiful western weather, with coffee in one hand and cards or a Keno card in the other.
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I don't think she imagined when she moved that she would last this long, that she would slowly and completely lose her mind. That she would require around-the-clock care and eventually be too much for her daughter and son-in-law to care for. I know she wouldn't have wanted to last to 95 under the circumstances she did.
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Tonight, I toast with the rest of our family across the country, remembering the fun we had and the things we learned from our beloved Grandma Ruth.
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I pray you are on your way to heaven and will be welcomed quickly into the arms of Jesus. I love you, Grandma.
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Happy New Year.
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December 20, 2006
A Merry Christmas to You
The girls and I are off to Atlanta for a couple days to visit friends. We're actually not going until tonight, but I have a lot to do, since when we come home late Friday night, we'll have Husband and my mom with us.
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We are going to lunch tomorrow with a friend and then spending the afternoon with Becca. I hope she'll forgive me and allow me to get some crafts done at her house. :) I can still visit with her, but if these things don't get done, they're not going to before Christmas.
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Friday, we'll enjoy a lazy morning (with Becca and Rach). And in the afternoon, I'll be taking the girls to see The Nutcracker. We actually used some of their Christmas money from my grandma to buy their tickets, so it is a special treat from a beloved (Thanks, Grandma S!). And then, later Friday, we head to the airport to pick up my mom and Husband!!!
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We have a busy weekend, just like every other family. But we'll be at church three times and then of course, the Christmas Pageant, where we will have one lamb and one angel participating.
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I pray you have a blessed Christmas and if your family throws a birthday party for Jesus, have a blast. For all of you who are traveling, be safe and I'll be praying for safe arrivals for you and your loved ones.
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December 18, 2006
A Red Letter Day


I spent the best money of the season today. Or maybe it was a very close second to the iPod we got for my father-in-law. Anyway, it was money very well spent. I've been a bit overwhelmed with the holiday preparation and I suggested to Husband that it'd be nice to pay someone to come in and scrub the bathrooms and dust and do the floors so I can get everything else done. Thankfully, I have a rockin' husband and he heartily agreed [though it's possible he agreed because he is 800 miles away and he suckered me into making trays of cookies to take to his former employees].

So, today, thanks to Sandi's reference, three women appeared on my doorstep, rags and brooms in hand and they set to work. I was working along as well, clearing the clutter from my desk and kitchen (which I promptly messed up again after they left and I started round three of the cooking-making marathon). I even tackled most of the laundry room, which looked like a bomb went off since Bookworm decided to step on a shelf in the school cabinet and three shelves of items came tumbling out and scattered on the floor - this was weeks ago).

Anyway, it is great! The house is clean, I even put away all my laundry (yes, Husband, I really did) and all I have now is to wrap everything and finish up some sewing and some other crafts and I'm ready. Except at some point in the next day and half I must go grocery shopping, which means tonight is list night. I am not sure what I should make for Christmas dinner this year (I have only done the meal once and that was three years ago, when noone had dietary restrictions and we had ham and all the trimmings). I looked at a beautiful roast yesterday and nearly choked when I saw the $45 price tag. So, I'm back at square one. We don't really have a traditional meal, other than you know, basically repeating Thanksgiving, which I am not really interested in doing.

I'm also feeding other people for most of a week and would like to serve them culinary delights and am trying to come up with an interesting menu for both lunch and dinner for about 5 days. I'd like as little time in the kitchen as possible, but am willing to put in some major prep work ahead of time. Any ideas?

Above are a few pictures of my kitchen and the explosion of cookie-making supplies on the countertops, with the end result being rather delicious and I think the platters look great. I have made quite an assortment of cookies:

  • Meringues
  • "No-Fuss" bar cookies, one batch made with added butterscotch chips, so they taste like 7 layer bars
  • Almond snowballs
  • Nutmeg Log Cookies
  • Cinnamon Star Cookies
  • Almond Spritz Cookies, which I used only half the recommended almond extract and the other half used vanilla extract
  • Kris Kringle Cookies, but I subbed almonds for the pecans and 12 oz. white chocolate chips instead of the baking squares
  • Fudge Brownies and Dark Chocolate Brownies with crushed peppermint
  • Pretzel Rods dipped in milk chocolate and sprinkles

Okay, now that it's all typed out, I find it all rather excessive. I guess I don't have any excuse for hiring someone to clean after all. I could have just made a pan of brownies and some chocolate chip cookies and called it a day. But don't my platters look so festive and wonderful?

Have a blessed week of last-minute preparations. I'm done! Yippee! I just have to assemble some stuff and wrap everything and get ready for houseguests, but other than that, you know, we're ready. Bring on the presents!

God Bless you.

[I added some photos to the slideshow below - not many, but rather than repeats, you get a few new shots]


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December 15, 2006
Welcome to My Humble Home
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Light Craze
I now know why I should have maintained contentment with not decorating with lights outside my house.
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One triple strand, triple swag set of lights above the entryway has turned into the swag set plus 4 strands of lights on bushes. Plus, I'm really considering putting some lights into the pots of poinsettias. And I'd reeeally like to buy another set of the swags, to finish the front.... And wouldn't a [fill in the blank] look great, too?
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This is the way it happened:
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The neighbors all have beautifully lit houses, varying degrees of fanciness. Many of the houses in the neighborhood have wreaths of greenery adorned with bright red velvet bows in all the windows. I never thought to do that, but on the brick houses, it's simply lovely.
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I thought that since my house essentially looks like a black hole at night, I should put up some sort of lights, thus a trip to T*rget to look at the selection. I picked something that I thought would look good all on its own, something that I could just slap up there and be done with it. I also bought two strands of lights (100 mini lights ea.), thinking one strand on the bush on the left and one strand on the bushes on the right; and bought a small box of the clips to hang the lights to the house.
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The girls and I arrive home and I pull out the step ladder. Only it's not a step ladder - it's Cara's two step thingy that helps you get about 15 inches off the ground. Clearly this is not going to help me reach the 15 foot eaves. I begin to hyperventilate, thinking my children are going to consider me a failure. I send Bookworm next door to beg for a ladder, though I am certain sending a 6 year-old to ask such a question really wasn't so smart. But, since she is smart, a few minutes later, the neighbor and a friend come over, bearing a huge step ladder. This sucker reaches clear to the roof of the house. We set it up and fold a light box and put it under one of the feet to steady the wobbling (the sidewalk isn't level right there). The neighbor offers to stay and hold the ladder for me while I work. I insist that he go on home, as I know this is going to be ugly and the less witnesses, the better.
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I place my cell phone on the puny step ladder and remind Bookworm who to call in case there's blood when I fall. I make her recite our address and phone number, just to be sure she's clear on it. Then, I ascend the ladder. Have I mentioned before that I am terrified of heights? What in goodness name possessed me to hang lights on the outside of my house while my husband is in another state? I get to the top of the ladder, the lights dangling beside me as I fumble and realize that the gutters have guards on them, so the clip won't just slide on there, I've got to work it under a shingle - but I can't. quite. reeeach where I want to clip it, due to the placement of the ladder. Oh crap, this'll have to do, because I am not going up and down this damn ladder more than necessary.
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I slowly step down the ladder, clutching the sides until skin is pulling off my finger pads and the palms of my hands. I move the ladder over a few feet and climb back up, attaching the next clip under a shingle. I repeat the process for the last time and realize I've got to go back up at the beginning and plug the stupid lights in. Which means I have to figure out a way to string the extension cord up there safely. What have I gotten myself into?
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After the lights are plugged in (it's dark by now), I realize they are way off center, by nearly 8 inches. I go back up and try to move them, but then realize I will have to move each clip, which means 6 more trips up and down the ladder. eh, they look okay.
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I start to wrap the strand of lights on the bush to the left and realize that one hundred lights really aren't that many. And they don't really cover a large bush. Oh, well, I'll use both strands for this bush. But then, the house looks lopsided - lights only on one bush? On one side of the door? Well, it does kind of balance the lopsided swag above the doorway, you know, giving weight to the unbalanced side. Right?
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Oh, but I can't plug those lights in - they are on the opposite side of the entryway from the outlet and I used the extension cord to plug in the stupid lopsided swag. So, now what do I do? That's right, I have to go back to the store, but not for a couple days because I know if I go tonight I will buy another swag to hang along the rest of the front section of the house and I will buy at least 6 more strands of lights for the bushes outside in an attempt to make things look more festive.
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One squid, 2 extension cords and a couple strands of lights (that I took from the christmas tree box) later, this is what we have:
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I have already begged Husband to find us a place in Baltimore where people don't put up lights outside and if at all possible, I'd like no yard so I won't be tempted to do this crap again.
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But it was pretty cool when my kids ran over to me and hugged me, exclaiming, "Mommy, you're so great at that - it looks so beautiful! Thank you!!"
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December 13, 2006
I'm Like Tanya
I gotta get that negative post off the top of my blog. I was in a rotten mood yesterday. I'm sorry for moaning. It does not become me. At least not when I moan like that. wahaha!
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Anyway, I did realize that part of my problem is the hormones. I am taking synthetic hormones, which make me completely crazy. I have actually sent in a question to consult with a different doctor to see if this is something I really need to take, I detest it so much.
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The other part of my problem is I am tired. I don't sleep well when Husband is not with me (though the absence of snoring is definitely a plus). And, well, I'm not really looking forward to moving a second time in 6 months.
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So, today, I have a better attitude and I actually hung a few Christmas lights outside. And I totally understand how the manic desire to hang lots of lights gets started. I bought a triple strand three section swag, thinking it would be perfect over our entryway. Only I didn't realize that once I had it up there, I'd really think it would look so much better with swags across the entire flat front section of the house. And the 200 lights I bought to put on the bushes? Yeah, that was only enough for one bush. And then the front of the house looks lopsided and we need more on the other side and wouldn't it look so nice if I wrapped the crepe myrtles?
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THIS is why Husband needs to come home. I am going to spend all our money on lights and decorations for the outside of our house. Haha.
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Okay, I'm not really going to do that, but I'm thinking our simple way of only decorating the inside of the house really was better for us.
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Thank goodness when we move, we probably won't have a yard, so I can't even want to go all out next year. :)
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December 12, 2006
Overwhelmed after 30 days
30 days of daily posting and here I've offered nothing this month. What a loser I am. Actually, the truth is that we went back to Florida last week (after being home, um, 4 days) and I've just in the last hour returned. I didn't have much screen time over the weekend and I was enjoying a beautiful couple of days with my sweetheart.
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We had a commitment on Friday, so Husband flew in Thursday night (after only 3 1/2 days at his new job). I drove all day, with a brief lunch stop to visit my grandparents-in-law. Fate would have it that Husband was over an hour late, since I was simply wiped out and wanted to go to bed, instead of drive to the airport at 11 PM, but whatever.
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Friday was an incredible day, we were much honored by our reception into a group we've been in the process of joining for over three years. I've been a little worried that our level of commitment to the group might be questioned, since we don't live there anymore, but it turns out I'm the only one worried about it. Which is a relief.
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That night, we had dinner with some friends who have a beautiful new baby girl and a brilliant little son. It was nice to actually get to spend some time with them after being cut off during our October visit.
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Saturday was a crazy birthday party day - one party at noon at Build*Be*r and then a simple family celebration for Husband's birthday that evening. It blows that he will be in Baltimore alone on his birthday next week.
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Sunday was the local art and craft show and we had lunch with friends too. The day went quickly, ending sadly as I dropped Husband at the airport to go back to hell, er, I mean Baltimore. I shouldn't badmouth the city. For all I know I am going to love it there, but for now, that city is my nemesis and I feel entitled to vent just a little bit about how I feel right now (particularly since I have a pretty good attitude about all this moving crap).
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Yesterday turned from a simple, nice day to pure chaos when my great aunt, the one with alzheimer's, was brought to see us at my mother's place of employment. Instead of taking the girls to see a movie, we were obliged to spend some time with someone who has no idea who we are. Ah well, it's a good lesson about life - and she seems to enjoy being with the girls while we're together. We spent the afternoon with my cousin's daughter, after picking her up from school - what a treat! Last evening, I drove north again, stopping for the night with the aforementioned grandparents. And we enjoyed a short morning and breakfast with them today before getting back in the car.
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In the past three weeks, I've put almost 2500 miles on my van and here I sit, at home, surrounded by piles of laundry and Christmas gifts to prepare and wrap. Plus, my house needs cleaned. Anyone know a good cleaning lady?
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Happy December. I promise to write more often than I've been. Maybe it'll help get me out of this funk.
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Until next time, God Bless you.
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December 06, 2006
WFMW: Restaurant Gift Cards
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I've been missing from WFMW for a number of weeks, particularly since I've been missing from home for the last two.
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My tip this week is not something that I've used yet, but a friend of mine told me about the other day and I thought it was rather clever - and useful.
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This time of year many restaurants have promotions when you purchase a gift card. My friend's family goes every Friday night for pizza at a local place and during the months of November & December, if you purchase a $20 gift certificate, you also get a coupon for a FREE pizza during the month of January. So each Friday, as her husband takes a seat with the kids, my friend goes to the cashier or hostess and purchases a gift certificate. When the bill comes, they use the certificate to pay for their meal and in January, they will have a month of free pizza.
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She said she's done this at nearly every restaurant they frequent that offers special promotions with gift card/certificate purchases. Her theory is that they were going to spend the money anyway and if they get a free appetizer or future meal from spending something they were going to spend anyway.... Well, you get the idea.
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Thrifty restaurant visits - Works for Me!
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Idea by my friend Michelle - a clever one, she is.
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For more clever ideas, visit Shannon at Rocks in My Dryer.
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December 03, 2006
I can't change my font color so you can read my posts... What's up with Blogger?
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Home Sweet Home
Father-in-Law made it through his surgery well Friday evening (postponed a few times throughout the day, due to other, more emergent cases). He was released Saturday morning from the hospital and enjoyed a "real meal".
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We drove home yesterday and were astounded as we pulled into our driveway. Everything looks strange here, almost like I didn't remember it. Until I realized that I could see straight through to the back yard on one side of the house. I couldn't figure out what was wrong and was puzzled as I glanced round the neighborhood. Husband pointed out that in our absence, all the leaves had vacated the trees. And hey, he's right.
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It is at once beautiful and hideous. One of the things we've loved in this neighborhood was the towering pecan trees that spread their branches and gift us with their cool(er) shade. This fall, the trees gave us another gift - an array of rich foliage, colors fit for framing. And thinking I'd have more time, another fall to enjoy it, I didn't pull my camera out and capture the beauty.
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Perhaps this is one way I will not miss this home so acutely? That as I prepare to move away after so brief a time, our grass is dormant, the trees are bare, everything dull and lifeless. These points of beauty, of lush life in the South.... they will be a dear memory.
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