Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Stress Reliever

The kids are all here, and Sweetie Pie is keeping us all very busy. I'm getting ready for Christmas, as I'm sure you are as well.

I came across this video, and if you haven't seen it, well, it's quite funny! If you need a little stress-break, take a few minutes for a good laugh!

Merry Christmas and Have a Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Cartoon Blog Hop!

I had to put on my thinking cap to come with my favorite cartoons of my childhood. I know some of my choices will show a generation gap, but here goes, in no particular order:

Those are my picks. Head over to Cheap Therapy and join the fun.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Decking the halls...but not with holly

My Christimas shopping is done, which is nothing short of a miracle! My house is somewhat, sorta, kinda decorated. And, by decorated, I mean that I have my Santa collection out in public.

I collected Santas for about 15 years, and then I decided that I had more than enough. I might still be tempted to add some new Santas, but they will have to be pretty darn unique.

My Santas have been in storage for about two years, while Hubby and I try to decide where and when we are going to settle. Two years ago, we were busy driving from North Carolina to Indiana, doing some work for our brother-in-law. We spent Christmas "house sitting" for our niece in Ohio. Then, after we sold our house (in NC) a mere year after we bought it, we moved back to Ohio, and rented from Hubby's sister. She had planned to sell her house, so we knew we would not be staying very long, so we didn't unpack "unnecessary" items. 

But, here we are, still here. The house has been taken off the market for now, and we have somewhat settled in. And, since we're somewhat settled, I decided to unpack the Christmas stuff.

Did you know that the American version of Santa Claus is due to Clement C. Moore, and Coca-Cola? Clement C. Moore, author of        " 'Twas the Night before Christmas" described Santa as being jolly and round, with twinkling eyes and rosy cheeks. But,it was Haddon Sundblom, a commercial illustrator for Coke, who gave Santa his red clothes. Before 1931, Santa could be tall, thin, short, or fat, and wearing a variety of colors. From 1931 to 1964, Sundblom gave us the Santa that we know today. And, aren't we glad he did?

Coca-Cola Santa, 1943
So here are some of my Santas.

My pretty plate toppled over and broke into a million pieces. 
It made me sad.

The one that started it all!

Some favorites

My blue Santa

"Rover" (named by our granddaughter) is also joining
 the festivities!
The Christmas tree will be coming once our granddaughter, Sweetie Pie, arrives. After that, we should be all set for Santa to arrive.
This has been a staple since 1983!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Face it Friday

Today is the day we are to face up to how we are doing with our goals. You can check over at Jennee and Karen and see how they are doing. 

I have never been one to make goals--because I lack follow-through, but this year Jennee forced me encouraged me to make some goals. So, I reluctantly happily made a list of goals I thought I could attain.

Actually, I have surprised myself on what I have accomplished. I guess there is something to writing down goals and having to face them. So, thanks to Jennee and Karen for Face it Fridays.

One goal that I have failed miserably at is Goal #5 - Lose 10 pounds. I didn't really have a plan. Just thought I would "cut down" on portions. (I gave up pop and junk food years ago, but never experienced having weight just fall off because I was no longer eating bad stuff.) If I cut down enough, and lost only one pound a month, I would reach my goal by now. However, that did not happen. No, no, no. I have actually gained 10 pounds this year! CURSES!

I have alternately been in denial or blamed it on menopause. But, I was slapped into reality recently. I'm in a Community Choral Union, and we had our Christmas concert. Our standard costume is "black pants, white shirt, tucked in!"  An hour before the concert, I started getting ready. I put on my black pants. Whoa! What has happened? Did these pants shrink? It was all I could do to get them zipped up...without the added bulk of the white shirt! And, then I put on my white blouse. Yikes! Pull and stretch and pull some more. I could barely get it buttoned. The "girls" are growing as well. I fear that  my blouse looked as if it would explode open at any minute. I was afraid  "the girls" would "bust" out singing a duet at any moment. I did not have a  very comfortable concert.

And so, because I detest counting calories, I found a website that will count my calories for me.

The only thing more depressing than counting calories through the holiday season, is being squeezed like a sausage into your clothes for the holidays. YEESH!

The weight on my driver's license is 30 pounds less (how did that happen?) than reality. So, my new goal is to get down to that weight before I have to renew my license in 2012. (Which will be a month before the supposed end of the world. Hmmmm. Maybe I shouldn't be so concerned. Just kidding.)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Happy Birthday, Daughter

The year was 1982. I was expecting my third bundle of joy. Bundle Number 1 and Number 2 were both boys, born in 1980 and 1981. (Yes, it is possible, and yes, they were all planned. Well, Number 1 came a little earlier than we had planned, but, he got the ball rolling.)

My plan was to have two boys, and a girl. So far, so good. All my pregnancies went quite well, and most days I felt so good that I would have to remind myself that I was expecting.

Back then, ultra sounds were not common practice. We had other scientific ways of determining the baby's sex. Like, the Drano test. Mix Drano and urine, and it would turn blue for a boy, but, maybe black, for a girl. (I can't quite remember the actual color, but, I don't think it was pink. That would be ridiculous.)

And, comparing the heartbeats. A slow heartbeat meant a boy, a fast heartbeat meant a girl. Also, the way they were carried, high for a boy, low for a girl. 

My due date was December 6. I was very happy with that date because it was also my sister's birthday, and my Grandma's birthday. How cool would it be to have three generations born on the same day?

If I remember correctly, we were having a relatively warm December. I don't think we had had any snow yet.

Everything was progressing quite well.  But, December 6 came and went, and no baby. I went to the doctor on December 7. He said, "When do you want to have this baby?" I truthfully said, "Yesterday." He said, "How about tomorrow?"
Yep, that was fine with me. Then he said, "When can you be here?" 

I told him that Hubby didn't get home from work until about noon. I think he may have asked how close we lived to the hospital. "Oh, we just live about 15 minutes outside of town", I told him non-chalantly.

I think he may have been a little nervous, because Bundles 1 and 2 came pretty quickly. My longest labor was 6 hours.

When I got home, I told Hubby that "Tomorrow is the day".  

We had finally decided that her name would be Jennifer Darlene. Hubby really liked Jolene, but I told him it would sound silly with Darlene. He would always go around singing Jo-lene, Jo-lene. I don't know who sings it, and that's the only part he knew. I also went through a phase when I thought I liked the names "Bobbie Jean" and "Laura Louise". I was influenced by General Hospital for those names. (Jennee has told me that she is soooooo glad we did not give her one of those names!)

So, on that December 8, 1982 (also a Wednesday), Hubby and I took Bundles 1 and 2 to Aunt Sue's house, then we were on our way to the hospital. The doctor met us there, we did all the prep stuff, then took me to my room. At 1:00, they broke my water. As the nurses came in to listen to the heartbeat, they would say, "It sounds like a boy to me." I told them, "No, it's a girl."  They didn't argue with me, but they doubted me.

Not much was happening, so at 2:00, they checked me again. It turns out, I had a double bag of water, so they broke the second one. After that, things started happening right quick!

At 3:05, our daughter entered the world. The doctor let Hubby cut the umbilical cord, which he thought was pretty neat. 

She has been a blessing in our lives. Our lives would be truly dull without her, and I can't imagine life without her! She is quite amazing, and if you hop over to her blog, she will tell you! (In a nice way, of course.) She has also informed me that she is glad she wasn't born on the 6th. She wanted her day all to herself. She is a little upset that she had to be born in December, but, maybe someday, she'll accept it!

Happy Birthday, Jennee! We love you! 

And, tomorrow, I can decorate for Christmas!!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Yay for Me!

There are few words that I enjoy hearing more than when Hubby says "You're right!" It doesn't happen all that often, so I truly relish those words when I hear them. I usually make him say it twice!

Saturday was just such an occasion. Hubby is extremely hard on work shoes. If he gets more than six months out of them, he's happy. If more than a year, he's ecstatic. The time had finally come for him to replace his work shoes. They had a hole in sole, for crying out loud.

I went with him to the local Tractor Supply Store. He found the shoes he wanted, and bought them. As we were leaving the store, I said, "Didn't you buy some kind of warranty on your original shoes? Like, they had to last so long, or you'd get a free pair?"

He said, "You know, I THINK YOU'RE RIGHT!"  (Emphasis mine!) So, as soon as  we got home, he started searching through his warranty folder. (He's so organized, it's a bit annoying.) "Look! Here it is! Right here. If they don't last two years, I get a free pair. Now, how long have I had these?" 

With our luck, we expected that we would be one week over.

We checked the dates, and, he had those shoes for 14 months! So, he packed up the old shoes and the warranty, and while he was at it, he also took the receipt for the new shoes so he could sign up again. 

It wasn't long until he was back home with a second pair of new work shoes. Unfortunately, the program was discontinued. Guys that are really hard on their shoes were signing up for the warranty left and right. It didn't take the shoe company long to realize that if they didn't stop it, they would soon go broke.

It doesn't take long to lose that "new shoe" look!

You're welcome, honey. You can say those three little words that I love to hear anytime you want to.  You. Are. Right.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Christmas is coming, but the decorations are not going up yet!

December has finally arrived. We received our first snowfall of the season--and it is still too early for me! The skies are gray, and the wind is blowing the snow helter-skelter everywhere. I would much prefer blue skies, sunshine, and warm weather, but, that's not happening in northeastern Ohio at this time of year.

We have a very out-spoken rule at our house: No displays of Christmas, not even Christmas music, until after December 8.  The reason? Amazing Daughter's birthday is December 8, and she does not want to see anything Christmas-y, until after her birthday. She was quite young when she announced that this would be the new rule. Apparently, December babies feel like they've been gypped somehow, by being born in December. Sometimes, certain December babies can get quite cranky about it.

I mentioned something to her yesterday that I needed to locate all the Christmas stuff. She gave me the Evil Eye. (I was just messin' with her, and I wanted to see if the "rule" still applies.  It does!) So, we will be waiting until December 9 to put up our decorations.

However, one thing that she does not have control over, is my Christmas Cactus.  I'm very excited to see the buds forming, and I hope to have lots of blooms by Christmas.

My Christmas Cactus was given to me four years ago by a friend. She was moving to Florida, and did not want to take it with her. But, since I've had it, we have lived in five different places, from Ohio to North Carolina to Ohio. At one point, I wasn't sure if my Christmas Cactus would survive--it was touch and go for a while.

But, I've learned that it is a pretty hardy plant, and it seems to be thriving in its new spot.

I did a little checking to see what makes Christmas Cactus happy.
They don't like to be over-watered. When the soil feels dry, water throughly, but make sure there is good drainage. They also like to be hydrated. I have mine sitting in two pots, one that is shorter than the other. That way, the water drains out, but can evaporate back up into it. They also do not like direct sunlight. And, to get the most abundant blooms, they like to have total darkness for 12-14 hours everynight, starting in October. They also like cooler temperatures, around 50 degrees F. Mine seems to be doing OK at about 63 degrees.

I'm glad I discovered this information, because I was doing everything wrong!  Now, I hope to have lots of beautiful blooms at Christmas. 

Monday, November 29, 2010

Christmas Card Time

I'm almost on schedule for my Christmas cards. I finished making my cards, and now I just have to write the "dreaded" newsletter. I have the rough draft written, but I need to find a way to spice it up a bit. I have an idea or two, but haven't settled on anything definite. I have a few more days before I start to panic!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving Day Eve

I was debating with myself if I should blog today or not. As soon as I sit down at the computer, it seems like my derriere is super-glued to my chair. The next thing I know, the day is half gone. I'm sure you have never experienced anything like that. But, today I have promised myself that I will only blog--no reading other blogs (even though I deperately want to! I hope you understand.) --no checking email, no checking facebook. I refuse to get involved in Twitter.

Today I will be busy baking for tomorrow. Thanksgiving will be at my niece's house, so I don't have to worry about the house being in order, Thank Goodness!

I'm making Butternut Squash Rolls, Coconut Cream Pie, a new recipe that I'm trying for the first time. I hope it turns out! (The picture looks pretty.) I also have a "secret recipe" to make Cheesecake Factory's Carrot Cake Cheesecake. (Another first timer!) And, a mint chocolate pie, which, believe or not, I have made before.

Also on the menu is a mushroom sausage stuffing. I fell in love with this recipe ten years ago (yikes!!) when I was trying the low-carb diet. This is a low carb recipe, but delicious. I'm still eating it, and I'm not on a low-carb diet anymore.

Mushroom Sausage Stuffing
4 onions, thinly sliced
2 - 4 TBSP olive oil
4 cups coarsely chopped mushrooms (about 1 lb.)
Salt and Pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 TBSP. butter
2 lbs. spicey sausage (I use 1 lb. regular, and 1 lb. spicey)
1 bunch fresh tarragon, leaves only

Saute the onions in olive oil over medium-low heat until caramelized, about 30 minutes. Turn the heat up to medium-high and add the mushrooms. Saute the mushrooms until crisp on the edge, about 10 - 15 min. (I've recently learned that the trick to crisping mushrooms is not to crowd the mushrooms in the pan.) Season with salt and pepper. Turn the heat to high and add the wine. Let the wine cook off for a couple of minutes, then lower the heat and simmer with the mushrooms for another 10 minutes. Stir in the butter 1 TBSP. at a time until combined. Remove from heat and set aside.

In large skillet, brown the sausage. When cooked through, about 5 - 7 minutes, add to the mushroom mixture along with the tarragon and combine thoroughly.

Well, there you have it.

I'm going to take a break from reality, keep the radio turned off (I'm addicted to talk radio), and let my three favorite men - Michael Buble, Rod Stewart (the Great American Songbook) and Barry Manilow (Singin' with the Big Bands) serenade me while I busy myself in the kitchen.

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day celebration, as we remember all the blessings the Lord has showered down on us.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Try it, You'll like it! Tuesday - Sweet Potato Rolls

Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and maybe you're looking for a new roll recipe to try.  This recipe is originally for Butternut Squash, but I had some leftover sweet potato, so I used it. This is good with butternut squash, but the sweet potato made the rolls a little sweeter. Either way, they are yummy.

Sweet Potato Rolls

1 pkg. (1.4 oz.) active dry yeast
1 cup warm milk (110 - 115 degrees)
1/4 cup warm water (110 - 115 degrees)
3 TBSP. butter, softened
2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup cooked, mashed sweet potato OR butternut squash
5 to 5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in milk and water. Add the butter, salt, sugar, sweet potato or squash, and 3 cups flour; beat until smooth. Add enough remaining flour to form a soft dough. Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6 to 8 min. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

Punch dough down. Form into rolls; place in two greased 10-in. cast-iron skillets or 9-in. round baking pans. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 min. Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes.
Yield: about 2 dozen.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Try it, You'll like it! Tuesday - Bunko Food

I'm a Bunko Babe. If you want to know the ins and outs of Bunko, click here. Tonight is Bunko, but I'm not hosting. I hosted back in June, but never got around to blogging about it, and since I'm sure you are dying to know the details, here they are!

The host is responsible for the food (most important detail) and the prizes (the second most important detail - although, depending on who you talk to, these could be reversed!)

Salad from my garden

This is embarrassing, but I have no idea what I made!

Lemon Herb Chicken Ring

Raspberry Pretzel Dessert

The Tables

The Prizes: Aprons made by Amazing Daughter

Here's the recipe for Lemon Herb Chicken Ring. If you have a Pampered Chef cook book, you will find it there, as well.

2 cups coarsley chopped, cooked chicken
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
1 lemon
3 TBSP. chopped, fresh parsley, divided
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp. Intalian seasoning
1/2 cup grated, fresh Parmesan cheese, divided
2 pkgs. refrigerated crescent rolls

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In large bowl, combine chicken, bell pepper, 1 tsp. lemon zest from lemon, 2 TBSP. parsley, pressed garlic, mozzarella cheese, mayo and seasoning, mixing well. Grate Parmesan cheese. Reserve 2 TBSP, add remaining cheese to chicken mixture. Mix well.

Unroll crescent dough; separate into triangles. Arrange triangles in a circle on a large round pizza stone with wide ends overlapping in center and points toward outside. (There should be a 5 inch diameter opening in center.)

Spoon chicken mixture evenly onto widest end of each triangle. Bring points of triangles up over filling and tuck under wide ends of dough at center of ring. (Filling will not be completely covered.) Springle remaining Parmesan cheese over ring. Backe 28-30 min. or until golden brown. Garnish with remaining chopped parsley and lemon slices.

Yield: 10 servings

Raspberry or Strawberry Pretzel Dessert

Mix together and put into a 9 x 13 pan; bake 10 min. at 350 degrees:
2 cups crushed pretzels 
3/4 cup softened butter
3 TBSP brown sugar

Mix together and put on cooled crust:
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
8 oz. cool whip

Stir together, refrigerate until partly set, then put on top of cream cheese mixture:
1 - 3 oz. box stawberry or raspberry jello
1 cup boiling water
10 oz. frozen strawberries or raspberries

Refrigerate for several hours until set.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Breaking and Entering to Feed a Cat

My parents recently took a vacation to Lily's home state of North Carolina. But, Lily was not invited to come along. (How Lily got from North Carolina to Ohio is for another blog.) I live only a few minutes away, so I would be keeping Lily fed, collecting their mail, and stuff like that.

Mom left the key on the dining room table for me, leaving their back door unlocked until I could get there, later that day. A good plan. Except that my Dad didn't know about the plan. He locked the door. 

Mom has been trying (unsuccessfully) for years to make sure all us kids  (there are five of us) have a key to their house. I don't have one.  So, I started calling around. Bro 3 does not have a key.  Bro 2 does not have a key. Bro 1 has a key! Yay! I'm amazed at how quickly and easily this problem has been resolved. Things never happen that easily. But, wait. I ask Bro 1 if the key is for the front door or the back door.  (Hubby has been doing some work on their house, and recently replaced the back door. Of course, Bro 1's key is for the back door. I'm not surprised. My last hope is for Sis to have a key. Yes, she does. For the back door! ACK! 

The house is locked up tight, and we certainly don't want to break anything. 
Hubby has one last hope, before we have to do anything drastic. Last year, he replaced some windows on the 2-story side (in the back, thankfully!) Mom likes to keep those windows open. Maybe, just maybe they are not locked. 

Hubby pulls out the laddder and climbs up to see. They are not locked. Happiness! So, he begins the painstaking work of inching this way, prying that way. I really don't know how he did it. I was busy looking in the grass for an earring that fell out. (Amazingly, I found it!)

He was able to get in without breaking anything, got the key, and I was able to keep Lily from starving to death. 

Later, I called Mom to tell her about the fiasco and how we averted disaster. I told her that Bro 1 and Sis have keys, but to the back door.

Her words? The back door and the front door...wait for it....use the same key!!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Double Nickel Today!

Today is my birthday, and I've hit the "double nickel" as Hubby and I have been calling it. Hubby hit the double nickel in January. So, we are both, officially, Senior Citizens. It was bad enough getting that first letter from AARP, a month before I turned 50. That happened way before I was ready. Now, I'm trying to wrap my arms around the fact that I'm a S.C.  But, I guess now I can look forward to getting my Ohio Buckeye card. I can flash that everywhere I go and get a 10 % discount on coffee, meals...whatever. (To tell the truth, I don't even know where to go to get my Buckeye card! Come to think of it, Hubby doesn't even have his Buckeye card. Guess I'll have to do some investigating.)

We celebrated my birthday on Sunday. Hubby started the day by making me breakfast. 

That Hubby of mine can make some pretty good breakfasts. This is our version of Egg McMuffins. I think you'll agree, that ours is superior! Yep, that was a very tasty breakfast.

After church, Amazing Daughter and Son went with us to the best Mexican restaurant in the state! It is almost an hour's drive, but worth every minute. It's called Nuevo Acapulco, in North Olmstead, Ohio. Ever since we discovered this place, this is where I request to go for my birthday!
 This was my plate of deliciousness. Tacos el Carbon. I order this almost everytime, but, it is just so yummy that I can't order anything else. There is some kind of spice that is so distinctly different, and I absolutely love it.  

 BD ordered the gigantic burrito. I wonder how they came up with that name? Yes, he ate the whole thing!

 Hubby ordered the super mucho burrito. He ate the whole thing!

 Jennee also got the Taco el Carbon! She may kill me for using this picture, but, I think she's too busy with NaNoWriMo to be reading my blog!

 And, here's me and Hubby. Try as he might, he kept closing his eyes for every picture!

If only son, JT, and granddaughter, Sweetie Pie, could have been there, the day would have been complete!
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