Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

With 2008 coming to a quick close, it's time to reflect a little. (Doesn't it drive you crazy when people say that?)

It's been a very good year for our family, a great year for me, a so-so year for some friends.

I don't make resolutions, because then I feel bad when I don't keep them.

Anyway, I wish all of you and yours a very HAPPY and HEALTHY New Year!

Glitter Graphics

Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas 2008, Parts 2 and 3

This has been a great holiday!

Saturday afternoon, we had friends stop by from Virginia. Terre (a commenter here) and I first met back in June 1975 when we were at Buckeye Girls State together. We were in the same city, in rooms across the hall from one another. We found out that we lived only about 45 minutes away from each other. We wrote letters back and forth when time permitted (WAY before email!) but lost touch. A newspaper article in our local paper brought us back together over a year and a half ago and we've stayed in touch ever since. She had married and had four children in five years! Ironically, she had her first child THE SAME DAY I had my first child! Although she and her husband have lived all over the place (he was in the Navy) they have been in Virginia for quite a while now.

Terre, her husband Rus, along with her oldest and youngest children, were coming to visit her family and stopped by to see us. We had such a nice visit! I can't believe I didn't get out my camera though.

** Note to Terre: next time you're here, please remind me to take pictures!!!!

Although this is only the second time we've met Rus, he is one of the easiest people in the world to talk to! It's like we've known him forever. He's so interesting too. Terre married a great guy! Rus is fortunate too, because he married Terre...she is a wonderful wife and mother. Together they've raised terrific children and it's so evident that the kids all respect, love and admire their parents. That's not easy in this day and age, but it's so clear that the whole family has a fantastic relationship!

We talked and talked and talked (gee, that's a shock) and before we knew it, several hours had gone by. It really only seemed like minutes, I swear. Terre is a teacher, so there are always school stories to share, and Rus works for the Navy now and has great stories. Alexa is in her senior year in college and is such a strong woman (it comes from her mom), and Trevyn has this knack of being able to say exactly what we're all thinking, in addition to a great sense of humor.

We had such a nice time, and can't wait to see them again!

On Sunday we got together with Ted's family to celebrate the holiday. I found my camera, buried in the bottom of my purse.

Alex, the big AC/DC fan, has had an influence on his young cousin Michael.

Alex can't seem to be anywhere near a guitar without picking it up, and strumming a few bars of some rock and roll song floating around in his head. Joe doesn't quite appreciate music in the same way.

Ted's brother, Tim (affectionately referred to as U.T. - for Uncle Tim) always liked Burger Chef when he was younger. Unfortunately Burger Chef met its demise, much to Tim's chagrin. When Patty (A.P.), his wife, and daughter Holly, were going through some stuff in their attic, they came across an item that just screamed Tim's name. They wrapped it and gave it to him yesterday. He was thrilled, to say the least.

No one can recall where this hat originally came from, but we all got such a hoot out of it....even Michael!

Ted's sister, Peg, found it much more amusing than Joe. He was just thinking, "It sure doesn't take much to amuse this older generation, does it?"

It's so entertaining to watch a child open gifts...obviously Michael liked this stuffed bear. The book Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See? came with it. Hey, what do you expect from a reading teacher?? Relax, we also got him other things.

Our niece Holly was there. She lives and works in the Cleveland area, but always makes it "home" for things. Isn't she gorgeous??

It's always nice to see family and friends during the holidays!

Friday, December 26, 2008

A Great Day

We had a wonderful Christmas this year! I hope that you and your family did too.

There were gifts.

My dear husband got me a gold bracelet, among other things. He's so thoughtful!

One of the gifts that I got for him was a book, Big Chuck!, that's about a Cleveland television personality. Ted used to watch him quite often when he was young, and I knew this would remind him of his happy childhood.
It was also a day of family.

My aunt collects Annalee ornaments and figures. She received one from one of my cousins as a gift. She was very happy with it.
It was definitely a day of food. (We're still stuffed!) I have a fabulous cousin who stepped right in to rinse dishes while his fiancee put them in the dishwasher. He told me to not even THINK about doing any dishes, as I had cooked everything. (He's going to make a great husband!) Then he washed everything that didn't fit while his sister and fiancee dried them.

They make such a cute couple, don't they?

Another cousin and her husband were here too.

As were my parents. I'm so lucky to have such great parents. What I'm really lucky about, though, is that my dad actually stopped for a second so I could take a picture of the two of them. His comment was very simply, "Well if you're going to take a picture, you better hurry up." So I did.

It was a great day, filled with food, gifts, and family.

And today? Well, it was a day of REST!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

Isn't there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?

I wish you all a wonderful holiday!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I Love My Husband and Sons

Given the ages of our sons (18 and 21), it's rare that we all spend an entire evening together. The boys usually have things to do, Ted will watch TV in the living room, and I will be doing "stuff" around the house.

But tonight....tonight was different.

First, we made little teeny tiny meatballs for wedding soup. It took the four of us only about 45 minutes to get SIX pounds of meat rolled. I should have counted the meatballs, but I didn't. Then I boiled them for just about two minutes so that they will be ready to go for the soup on Thursday.

Then...we rolled cookies. I only made a few kinds (Snickerdoodles, Peanut Butter, Peanut Blossoms, and Snowballs) but they all required being rolled into balls. I had made the dough for each kind this afternoon, then tonight, I decided to take advantage of having all the guys together sitting around the kitchen table.

I am moving right along with things, in preparation for the holiday. I'm only about two days behind now! (Which isn't bad, considering I was about a week behind yesterday.)

Tomorrow will just involve:

  • making more Chex Party Mix (we ate what I had made a couple of weeks ago)
  • cleaning the house
  • wrapping the last of the gifts that just arrived today
  • making some pretzel/Rollos/pecan things
  • making chocolate covered peanuts
  • baking a couple of pecan pies
  • accompanying Alex to the orthodontist (long story there...I'll fill you in later)
  • going to church
  • then to my folks' house
  • driving through Story Book Lane
  • looking at some holiday lighting displays
  • coming home
  • getting the gifts put under the tree
  • going to bed

Yes, my dear friends, I am going to make it through this holiday preparation.

As you know, Christmas is coming Thursday, whether we're ready or not.

It's difficult being a wife/mother/daughter who happens to work full-time and still tries to please everyone.

I probably need to just lower my expectations and enjoy the holiday season!

Still Way Behind

If you are totally ready for Christmas, please do not share that information with me. I'll only get jealous and then get mad and I guarantee that it will not be pretty.

Yesterday I made chocolate peanut butter cups. These are delicious and so simple you can't believe it. The hardest part is putting the little cups out. Well, this year, FINDING the cups was the hard part. Our local craft store did not have them and told me that the company they buy from doesn't make them anymore.

Yeah, right.

I came home and found the company online and then ordered about 500 of them. I don't like the bigger cups because then each one is more than a mouthful. I like the smaller cups.

Take 2.5 pounds of chocolate (I use coating chocolate from Wal*Mart.) Melt it in the microwave on 50% power. That takes about 10 minutes total, based on the wattage of your microwave.

Stir in an 18 oz. jar of peanut butter. I always use plain, but you can use crunchy if you prefer.

Once it's all stirred together, put it in a squeeze bottle of some type and fill the cups. Refrigerate them until they're hard (about 20 minutes) and then put them in a container. They freeze really well. I was able to get 98 cups filled.

Then I took more chocolate and melted it in the microwave. I tossed in sourdough pretzel nuggets, stirred them in, then put them on the parchment paper to set up.

I still have some chocolate, so I may melt it and mix in peanuts. I'll have to see how things go.

This morning I cleaned out the refrigerator. I have a chicken cooking on the stove right now because I need good chicken stock for wedding soup that we'll be having on Christmas Day. We're also having roast beef, mashed potatoes, gravy, etc. I'll be cooking that, in addition to baking a couple of pecan pies.

And...I haven't started baking any cookies yet.

Twelve people on Christmas Day with no cookies. That wouldn't be good.

There are a bunch of decorations on the kitchen table and they need to be dispersed. The den (wrapping headquarters) is a mess and needs cleaned. By tomorrow night, the kitchen floor will need to be mopped...and that means not only the kitchen, but the dining area, the mudroom, the half bath, and the hallway that leads back to the pantry and laundry room.

Not to mention that all the bathrooms need to be cleaned tomorrow evening too. (I live with three men, and at least one of them has poor aim. Need I say more?)

BUT...the gifts are all wrapped and the cards were sent out last week, so at least a couple of things are done.

That's good...right?


Saturday, December 20, 2008

Story Book Lane

Our community has traditions, as does every town across the country.

One of our most noted traditions occurs throughout the month of December. We have something called Story Book Lane.

Story Book Lane began many years ago along one of the main streets in town. The neighbors had wooden cut-outs of nursery rhymes and they put them out during the holiday season. They were extremely popular and people would stop their vehicles along the street to look at the cut-outs, but it caused some traffic issues.

Now Storybook Lane is set up along one side of the pond of our city park. While it's up, the city makes the street one-way. No matter what time of the day or night you go by, you can always see vehicles driving through Story Book Lane. It's very popular.
We used to live about a block from the park and would drive the kids through anytime we left the house. It became part of our routine. Even though the boys are adults, we still go through. In fact, we went through last night.
Not only did we go through last night, but we will also go through on Christmas Eve. We always do.

Story Book Lane, like all things that are exposed to the weather, suffered a little.
For quite a few years I would always comment that refurbishing Story Book Lane would be a great Eagle Scout project for someone. Of course I don't know what the requirements are for an Eagle Scout project, so I might be totally off base.
Then the Rotarians stepped in.
Many of the cut-outs have a movable part, so the electrical aspect of each of those needed to be addressed. Most had stopped working over the years.

The Rotary took care of that.
In addition to refurbishing each cut-out, they also added a feature.

They made a sign that posted the actual nursery rhyme that went with each cut-out.

Adding the sign and fixing everything up was expensive. The Rotarians didn't want to take away the funds they use for other projects, so they needed to raise some money for Story Book Lane.

So various businesses and families sponsored the signs/cut-outs. I was very pleased to see that the sponsorships were acknowledged in a tasteful way.

The acknowledgment was at the bottom of each sign, in smaller print than the nursery rhyme.

However, in order to protect the privacy of those businesses and families, I erased them from these photos. (Hey, I'm trying to be responsible here.)

Story Book Lane is so popular that not all the businesses and families who wanted to sponsor a nursery rhyme were able to.

Isn't that amazing?

Before the signs were up, we would always try to say each nursery rhyme. Of course the kids were better at it than Ted and me.

Now keep in mind that these pictures were taken at night and I am NOT a very good photographer. That's why you can see things in the background, like a Pepsi machine, a small building, a bocce court, etc.

There's music playing as you drive through too. Yes, they play Christmas carols.

In this day and age of fiscal responsibility, the money that the Rotary raises for this project is also used to pay for the electricity of running the lights and playing the music.

The Rotarians are the ones who get the cut-outs put up each year too, so no city funded man power is used.

I also need to add that Ted was very patient as I kept telling him to move up just a wee little bit, or stop for an extra second so I could try to get a better shot.

Another really good thing came out of taking these photos. I also had to open up Photo Shop for the first time. I had them install it when I ordered this computer last May. But I never got into it. Sad, isn't it? I couldn't find any other way to block out the names on the rhymes, so I delved into it for the first time. There sure is a lot to it. I need to spend some quality time with it really soon.

At the end of Story Book Lane, they have this sign that you see above, in addition to another one that is also tastefully done, listing the "Friends of Story Book Lane." The people who wanted to donate funds to this project but couldn't sponsor a nursery rhyme could still donate and be listed as a friend.

That's what we did. It was the least we could do after all the pleasure it's given us over the years.