December 31st, 2019
Oh My Goodness! It's almost here. Am I ready? Are you ready?
I know we actually had the same amount of time we always do to prepare for a new year, but when it's a decade marker year, I'm never ready. It feels bigger. It has more weight to it. More gravitas if you will.
It seems as if there is something I should be doing to prepare. Batten down the hatches? Take the tents down? Clean the cages? Something.......
And 2020? Man, that's science fiction grade stuff. Like something thought up by Robert Heinlein or Isaac Asimov. Maybe something out of Star Trek. Or at least the Jetsons. It doesn't feel quite real.
I wonder how long it will take me to start writing the correct date this year? Days? Weeks? Months?
Remember back when we went from 1999 to 2000? There was all that anxiety. People wondered: Are the computers going to go crazy? Is the world as we know it coming to an end? Does it bring us to our knees? Annnnnnnddddd, it turned out to be a tempest in a teapot.
Tim was so incredibly ho-hum about it all that I, too, was as calm as could be. I figured that he knows computers and if he says it'll all be fine, then it'll all be fine. What's the hubbub about? And of course, he was right. And the kerfuffle was for naught.
This change from 2019 to 2020 doesn't feel like that to me. Not the gloom and doom that the media predicted way back then twenty years ago (!) but it does feel important. It seems as if something really "BIG" is doing to go down this year. Personally? Globally? I don't know. I guess I'll find out.
A friend of mine told me that her yoga instructor said that the year 2020 would be a year of great vision. (teehee) That's awesome and hilarious. I suppose we all wonder what the new year will bring. I hope it does bring great vision to all of the leaders of the world. A little peace would be nice.
And meanwhile, people around the world will be celebrating tonight. And I take that to mean that we all have faith that this coming year, will be a good one. The we all believe we will do what we can to make the world a better place. We celebrate having another opportunity to do it right. Let's make 2020 the very best year ever!
However you celebrate it, I wish you all a safe, healthy, happy and prosperous New Year!
Happy New Year!
December 30th, 2019
You know how some people say that when you've been in a relationship for a long time, there is no longer any "mystery"? Have you ever heard that? The premise is that when two people have been together for awhile, they know everything there is to know about each other. And from there are two camps: One is liking the comfort zone of being that familiar with another person and the other is feeling bored by no more surprises.
First of all, I do not believe that it's possible to know EVERYTHING about another person. You might know a lot. You might know them better than most people. But I do not believe that anyone knows everything about someone else. Heck, I'm still learning things about me. Seriously, I surprise myself on a regular basis.
I will admit to liking a comfort zone of dependability. Knowing that Tim is a person I can always count upon, no matter what brings me great joy and a wonderful feeling of security. . But I also enjoy the occasional surprise and Tim never lets me down there either. He loves to surprise me and often does. But recently I was surprised by him an entirely different way.
Up until recently, if you had asked me what Tim's favourite cake was, I would have said with supreme confidence and no hesitation whatsoever, "Chocolate!" Whenever I make a chocolate cake he is one happy guy. And too, if we happen to order a dessert in a restaurant, it's not unusual for him to request the chocolate cake. Seems like a reasonable assumption on my part right? I mean it's not as if we each filled out a questionnaire on each other at any point and then committed the responses to memory. Yeesh.
It turns out that if you had asked me that question and I had given that answer I would have been wrong.
I was more than a little gobsmacked when, during a conversation with other people the subject came up. And when asked what his favourite cake flavour was his answer was NOT chocolate, it was carrot cake. Say what?
An aside here: I do not have a poker face. Whatever I am feeling I am showing on my face. I might manage to not say what I'm thinking out loud, but if you have any degree of perception and understanding in interpreting facial expression and body language, my feelings are not a mystery. So I am quite certain than everyone present was amused by my surprise.
So there you go. After all these years of marriage I learned something new. Carrot Cake eh? Okay then. I decided that I was going to make a carrot cake for Tim for our Anniversary. Poor man. Twenty-six years together and never once have I made a carrot cake for him. In fact, I had never before made a carrot cake.
Why? I dunno. Just somehow, I never did. I've made white cakes, yellow cakes, apple cakes, banana cakes, blueberry cakes, angel food cakes, coffee cakes and lord knows how many Chocolate cakes, but never once a carrot cake.
Well, actually carrot cake as an anniversary treat didn't happen because we were travelling the two days before and I had to work the day of, but the following day, Carrot Cake happened. Since this was brand new to me,of course, I did some reading.
I think I read through at least a dozen different recipes to get the general idea, made up my grocery list and off I went. I actually decided to make carrot cake as cupcakes because I kind of like the idea of the single serving thing. And cupcakes are inherently adorable.
I assembled all of my ingredients, I had several cookbooks open and at the ready, my cupcake tins were ready, the oven was pre-heated and I could not find my grater. I searched every cupboard, every shelf, every corner of the pantry and nothing. Then I remembered that the last time I used it, it broke. Just old age I reckon. Dang. And I never replaced it. Double Dang.
I ended up using a cheese grater. Any idea how long it took me to grate 3 cups of carrots with a cheese grater? The better part of a half hour of constant grating, switching hands when one got tired and continuing on to the end. What a PIA! But eventually the carrots got grated dammit! Taadaa! I don't blink at obstacles. They might slow me down but they never stop me from my goal!
Anyway, batter got made, the cupcakes got baked and once they cooled I made a cream cheese frosting of course.
I presented one to Tim with great flourish and he really enjoyed it.
But then we were up to our earlobes in cupcakes! I don't know about you but I sure as heck do not need to eat that many cupcakes! So I texted my neighbor, 'Would you be interested in some Carrot Cake cupcakes?" Instead of texting back, she showed up a few minutes later at my door with a dish for cupcakes :) LOL
I guess Tim isn't the only person who likes them. YAY!
Personally, as it turns out, I am not a fan of them. Nope. I didn't eat a single solitary one. But I did freeze what was left in little batches of four. Carefully wrapped and then zippybagged and now in the freezer.
I am not the only person this sort of thing happens to by the way. I remember my mother telling me one day, shortly after my parent's 50th anniversary that she had just learned that my father didn't like...some vegetable, I don't recall which one. And she felt terrible because she had been serving it to him for 50 years. He never once complained, never said he didn't like it, just ate it and stayed quiet until 50 years down the line when, presumably, he just couldn't tolerate it one more time. Too funny.
The things we learn. About ourselves. About each other. I wonder what other surprises Tim has in store for me?
December 27th, 2019
It was a lovely Christmas of course. A Beautiful Christmas in fact. And everything looked so festive and so pretty. But let's face it, Christmas is now over for this year and it won't roll around for another 365 days. So the next question is: When do we undecorate?
I actually read an article about this yesterday. There is one very strong belief that says the tree can absolutely positively NOT be taken down until after New Years Day because that would be bad luck. And then there is another equally strong feeling that says the tree absolutely positively MUST be taken down before the New Year because otherwise, that would be bad luck. Yikes! Hard to find a middle ground there. Unless perhaps the tree is taken down during the strokes of midnight between one year and the next!
If January 1st (or 2nd if you are nursing a hangover) feels kind of late to be dealing with packing away Christmas, it might interest you to know that some folks would prefer to leave the tree up longer actually. According to the Catholic religion, the tree needs to stay decorated until January 7th. It's true! There are some hardliners who feel that the 12-days of Christmas do not actually begin until December 25 which means it rolls on to Epiphany 12 days later. Which was a surprise to me. I honestly thought the 12 days of Christmas ended on Christmas Day. I had that completely backwards.
Regardless of which school of thought you lean toward, I think we can all agree that a tree should come down before it becomes a fire hazard, right? But with the advent of much prettier and more affordable faux trees, I suppose it doesn't really matter how long the tree stays up.
I actually know people who leave their artificial trees up year 'round. They redecorate according to each holiday and/or season. I have to ask though. If your Tree is up year 'round, no matter how it is decorated month to month, would it feel less special at Christmas time? I think it would to me. Part of the magic of Christmas decorations is that it's different than usual, unique and distinctly "Christmas". And truthfully, if you leave a tree up year 'round, I have to assume that either they have a very small tree or a very big house.
It's one of my biggest Christmas Tree issues. As much as I love the tree all pretty and lit up and decorated, it takes up a considerable amount of space! And the smaller the house, the bigger the tree feels (regardless of it's actual size). In fact, now that I think about it, in my life, the tree absolutely came down earlier when we lived in smaller places than larger ones. Hmmm interesting. A room size/undecorate date correlation.
I also know people (I am related to some of them) who, while they adore their Christmas decorations, take the tree and related decorations down the day after Christmas. Some people even take it down late Christmas day. Christmas is over, we are moving on. And that's fine too. To each his or her own. We all do what we do.
There is no one right answer here, only the answer that is right for you.
It's the same thing with putting the tree up. I know people who put their tree up the day after Thanksgiving. Others who wait until Christmas Eve. Most people fall somewhere in the middle. But I wonder if the families who put their decorations up early also take it down early? Just curious.
I found several articles claiming that people who put up decorations early for the holidays are happier (in general) than those who do not. Seriously? The same articles suggest that people who do outside Christmas decorations are seen as friendlier and more neighborly then those who do not. I think I am guilty of being judgy of people who do not put lights up outside at Christmas. And this year, I am guilty too.
While I did decorate the bejeebers out of the inside of the house, I hung zero lights outside for a change. The wreath went on the door of course, but if you recall, I was sick for most of December and somehow I just couldn't pull together enough energy to climb up and down (and up and down and up and down...) the ladder to put up lights. By the time I was healthy and rested again it was so close to the 25th that it seemed silly to go to all that effort for just a few days. Which sounds like a lazybutt excuse doesn't it? Guilty as charged.
Yesterday, emtionally, I was ready to take down the tree. It just kind of was bothering me. Taking up space. Looking untidy. Things out of order in the house. I'm not sure why I was feeling that way, but I was ready. And then the mail came and we got two more Christmas cards. And all those other feelings went away. So I decided that was an indication that technically it was still the Christmas Season and I needed to get over myself. I decided that I could deal with the decor for a few more days.
Today on the other hand, it's gloomy and grey and breezy and a little chilly and I suspect rain is on it's way. The family room (where the tree is) feels kind of dark and dreary. So a few minutes ago I turned on the tree lights and it made me smile and now I'm glad I didn't give in and pack it all up yesterday.
But it will come down. Eventually. Maybe one day next week. Maybe even New Years Day. Start out 2020 by packing away the Christmas of 2019. Yeah, that sounds about right.
December 26th, 2019
Happy Day after Christmas to all of you! Did you have a terrific Christmas? Did Santa bring you something unexpected and wonderful? Did you eat yummy treats and spend time with people you love? We did!~
First of all, we are extra fortunate because every year we get to celebrate Christmas twice. Once on Christmas Eve and the other one Christmas day! Woohoo! The only thing better than a great Christmas is two great Christmas's!
Ever since we moved here to Florida we get together with Joy and Bob on Christmas Eve. So of course that's how it went down again this year. We went out to eat first then came back to our house to regroup a bit. Then headed over to the arboretum to see the lights.
I did a post a few days ago about the decorations in the arboretum. But it looks completely different at night and that's why we have to go twice every year (at least). We wandered through ooooo-ing and ahhhhh-ing for quite some time. There was a choir singing in a different park a few blocks away and it was kind of extra special to hear that music in the background.
Most of the lights were different from previous years but Joy and I were tickled to see that the angels wings were still there
And the best exhibit was one specific to Joy. Really it was obviously created just for her!
Eventually though, we had seen everything at least once, chatted with total strangers also walking through, and flinging wishes for a Merry Christmas in every direction, so it was time to go home and have dessert. There were cupcakes and two kinds of pie. Everyone had at least one of something! Gotta have the necessary energy to move on the next part of the evening. Presents!
We only exchange stocking gifts so everybody has one stocking chockful of silly, fun, clever and sometimes tasty things to open. We take turns, one gift at a time, 'round and 'round the circle. We talk, we exclaim, we question (what on earth it this? - to be fair that is usually me), we thank each other and more than anything we laugh. We laugh until our face hurts, we laugh until our sides hurt. Here is a snippet. (Wish I could do a flipbook)
It was a wonderful Christmas Eve. Every single year, at some point, Bob says that it was the best Christmas ever and by golly, I think he is right.
The next day was the actual real Christmas Day and that day is completely different. We sleep late, get up and get out act together slowly. We have a special Christmas breakfast, read the newspaper and eventually open our gifts to each other and anything that came to us from the kids.
We make phone calls to the boys (and their girls of course) and send text messages and emails galore! At some point one of us decided that it would be a great day to take a walk so Tim and I headed out. We walked through town and through neighborhoods and eventually, as we always do, we ended up at the beach.
It was a gorgeous beach day, sunny and warm but not humid and hot. Perfect! And a lot of other good folk clearly at the same great idea because there were quite of few others there. Somebody even brought a tiny fake Christmas tree and stuff it in the sand. Awesome! There were sandcastles all over the place and even the dolphin statue was sporting decor. Hard to go wrong with Christmas on the beach.
We got home in time for me to make a special Christmas dinner followed by more of that pie. And then we settled in to play with our new toys and watch a little Christmas TV.
So there you have it, the two Humphreys Christmas's extravaganza! We hope your Christmas was the very best ever !!!
December 24th, 2019
'Twas the day before Christmas
and throughout the state
it was sunny and warm
all and all, pretty great
(with apologies to Clement Moore)
Whatever your weather, however you celebrate and whoever you share the day with, please
have a wonderful Christmas, my friends. Enjoy every minute of your holiday and make lots of
new memories. Laugh a lot, eat too much, watch some football and open your gifts.
I wish each and everyone of you a Very Merry Christmas!
December 23rd, 2019
Over the weekend, Tim and I took a walk through the arbortetum. It's a lovely big park right across the street from the Museum where I work and it's always a beautiful place to walk. At Christmas time it's down right magical.
Various groups, organizations and families sign up to decorate an assigned tree and then pretty much anything goes. It's prettiest at night of course, all lit up, but it's perfectly lovely during the day as well.
I am always surprised (and pleased) to see that no two trees are decorated the same way. In face, not only is every tree gussied up differently, but every year there are a lot of new things to see. Now to be fair, we have been having a bit of windy weather so some of the decorations are looking a bit wind blown (and some literally blown onto the ground) so please bear that in mind but we enjoyed it all just the same.
There were some familiar faces of course. The ones you always expect to see in a Christmas display.
Various depictions of wild and not so wild life were here and there, some perhaps more traditional than others :
This being a beach town, I know you are not surprised to find representation of that as well:
Naturally, there were regular ornament type ornaments too. I am such a sucker for anything sparkly.
And even though this is Florida and it's never EVER snows down this far south, there is absolutely always something to remind us of the good old fashioned white Christmas' of other places.
And honestly, it's not Christmas without a few wreaths and gifts and candy canes, right?
Lights? Of course there are lights. Lots and Lots and Lots of lights. We have lights for days! Not as easy to see in the daylight of course, but here are just a few
There were just a few nods to some folks' faith:
And quite honestly, there were a few decorations that simply defy description
A few trees came with their own built in decorations. Remember this is Florida, people. Yes it's true. Things really do here bloom year 'round.
As I said somewhere at the beginning of all this, it's been a stormy weekend. Just wind and rain, nothing remotely snow or ice like, but yes, some decorations lay on the ground that I'm pretty sure were supposed to be in the trees. Decor Down!!! I assume that today, now that the storms are over, someone will come along and tidy it all up.
So I guess that's it! Thank you for coming along with me on a nice little stroll through my Christmas decorated arboretum. Hope you had fun!
We will be returning there tomorrow night to see it again, in all it's illuminated glory, with Joy and Bob, and it will look completely different. Just as wonderful, but in an electric kind of way.
Hope you are getting the maximum enjoyment out of these last few days until Christmas! I'll be back here tomorrow. If you are having way too much Christmas fun to join me, that's okay. I wish you a Very Merry Christmas anyway :)
December 20th, 2019
So in case you were wondering why I wasn't around posting blogs willynilly Monday and Tuesday of this week is because Tim and I were on a road trip. ROADTRIP!
It turned out that Tim had a business meeting Tuesday morning in Destin Florida. In case you never heard of the place, Destin is in the panhandle of Florida. Roughly 7 hours away. North, West and then South is the general direction from where we started. It's so far west that Destin is actually in another time zone! (learn something every day! How many states have more than one time zone in them? Turns out it's 13!!!)
Tim actually did look into flying but it not only cost a lot more than driving, it actually would take longer between arriving early, waiting, going through security, waiting more, flying to Atlanta, waiting for the connecting flight, flying to Destin, renting a car and driving to the hotel. Whew! And that's assuming everything was on time and flying as scheduled.
So the decision was made to drive up Monday, have the meeting Tuesday morning and then driving back Tuesday afternoon. He asked if wanted to come along. Sure! Why not?
So Monday morning found us at the rental car place (no way we are putting those kind of miles on any of our own vehicles!), loading up and hitting the asphalt. I brought magazines, car games, my camera (of course), the morning newspaper and essentials like cough drops and water. I was ready.
The rental car we ended up with was a range rover. And oddly, the GPS/NAV system had a very posh British woman's voice. It said things like, "Stay the course" and "Keep on the motorway". It was like being guided by Mary Poppins.
It wasn't bad driving. Not a lot of traffic although, I did notice far more car carriers than I have ever seen before! Wow! I lost count after awhile. It took us the entire trip to finish the auto bingo game. But in between finding the Bridge and the Hospital, I read aloud from the newspaper, we chatted, I read some of one of the magazines, occasionally out loud and I took photos out the window of the car.
After a few hours, my butt was already falling asleep from all that forced sittage and we pulled into a Rest Area. It felt good to get up and move around. The bathrooms were very clean, there was a big map just to make sure the car's Nav system was accurate and they had vending machines.
Neither of us had eaten so we each chose a few snacks from the vending machines. Tip: Never buy snacks from a Rest Area Vending Machine. They were terrible and we threw them out. All we could figure is that those snacks had been in the machine since the day it was installed. Gack. We drove on and saw bulletin boards for fascinating things like the Florida Drag Racing Museum and the Sasquatch Museum (which is actually in Georgia)
As we got further and further north, the topography changed from very flat with lots of palm trees to actually kind of hilly with mostly pine and oak and other deciduous trees! We listened to (and sang along with) a lot of Christmas radio and drove over more curiously named rivers than I ever knew existed. By the way, the Swannee River from the song, "Way Down Upon the Swanee River" is actually the Suwanee River and we drove over it's bridge. Just an interesting tidbit. Tim took quite a few hands-free business calls. Sometimes technology is fascinating!
Eventually we took another break at a much better place and got some much better food. Tim had some real actual food and bought more water. I chose one of my favourite car snacks. Bears. You thought I was going to say M&M's didn't you?
As the 500 and something miles flew by, we pointed out interesting things like the worlds smallest rainbow., the exit for Tallahassee (the state capital), a lot of farm related things and some restaurant that has a giant chicken in front of it! Never a dull moment with us.
By the time our butts were completely numb, we finally saw ocean again and we knew that we were close to our destination. Hurrah!
The sun had set by the time we checked into our hotel and wandered around looking for any restaurant that would offer something resembling dinner. To our surprise, very close by was a Jim'N'Nick's BBQ, a place we adored in Colorado. Afterwards, back we went to our hotel.
We had a cute little balcony with adirondack chairs off of our room and we could see that across the street (the street being six lanes of highway) there was a park and then the ocean. Right there. So Close! So my plan was that while Tim was at his meeting I would walk across the street, through the park to the ocean with my camera and wile away my time, doing one of my favourite things. Taking pictures!
Neither of us ever sleeps well the first night in a new place and that goes for Hotel Rooms too. Nothing feels right, it's too warm, too stuffy, too much light from weird places, too much noise from the hallway or outside. But eventually we dosed off sometime well after midnight Only to wake up around 4 am to the weather alert on our phones telling us to take cover from the impending tornado.
Well nobody is going back to sleep after that. So we watched TV for awhile, waiting for a non-existent tornado and eventually Tim showered, dressed, had breakfast and left for his meeting. I got ready to head across the street with my camera but, but, but.......
Rain. Lots and lots and lots of rain. And wind. And Cold. Bah! So I stayed inside, packed and watched Christmas movies instead. Plan B.
When Tim's meeting was over, we headed up the car and prepared for the return trip. The rain let up just enough that we drove to the beach. I took pictures until my hands were too cold to press the button anymore and the rain started up again. It was a truly beautiful white sand beach with not a soul on it but us. Worth the small detour.
It rained the entire trip home. Sometimes just sprinkley, sometimes absolute downpours. There was far more traffic too, just for fun. And multiple different accidents which always slows things down. Lots and lots of big old 18 wheelers, one of which was down for the count. Not sure exactly what happened but we drove by it, laying there on it's side like a big old dinosaur. Always scary and sad.
As we passed Tampa the sky began to flash lateral lightening, which illuminated the sky in shades of lavender and purple. It was very pretty but definitely upped the degree of difficulty.
So there you have it. Roughly a thousand miles in two days, a beautiful ocean, a tornado warning, a business meeting, lots of rain, BBQ dinner, traffic and sore butts from sitting too long.
That is why I didn't write the blog Monday and Tuesday. I was kinda busy.
Have a wonderful last weekend before Santa Comes! Makes the most of it!
Hugs all 'round.
December 19th, 2019
This past weekend was a big performance weekend for Tim and I. On Friday night we went to Oasis High School to see the show, "Who's Crazy Now?" and then on Sunday we drove up to Tampa to see Transiberian Orchestra. Wow! What a weekend!
And I was thinking about these two fine performances and while, yes there are a lot of differences between them, there were a lot of similarities too. They each had their strengths but also areas that perhaps could use a wee bit of improvement.
So yeah, here I go with some audaciousness. I have some nerve eh? I am about to compare and contrast a Charter High School production with Trans Siberian Orchestra, world reknowned preformers who have been doing their show for 33 years. Yup. Here we go.
Obviously the Trans Siberian Orchestra has more finesse. But then, they should. They are all professional musicians who have been doing this show, working with this troupe for YEARS! On the other side of the coin, Oasis Charter High School has only been around for 18 years. And the kiddos, well, they have only been High School Students for 4 years or less.
Trans Siberian Orchestra (TSO) has the money for their elaborate (and amazing) stage shows. They come up with new ideas, new lighting, new music and new special effects every single year. The charter school is, well, a charter school. They don't even have an auditorium. The play was performed in the gymnasium with a cleverly rigged backdrop that allowed for a front "stage" and a back "stage area.
Artistry and Special effects? Well TSO offers tremendous musicianship and their special effects are second to none. The special effects at the high school largely consisted of the incredibly complicated light switch situation and the person in charge of turning lights on and off between acts ended up kind of being a light show.
Let's see what else, Professionalism? Well TSO consists of professional musicians, professional special effects people, professional managers and professional set designers. The only professional at the high school would be our niece, Carrie, who is their director and their teacher. She is amazing! FYI She also does the music programs and the kids who participate in those programs win competitions. They win A LOT. The drama program at this school is new. It will grow. Even a mighty oak tree started as a tiny acorn, remember.
Entertainment value. Well TSO was, and always is, amazingly entertaining. Every single time they hit the stage, it feels as if this is what they were born to do. The high school play? Also incredibly entertaining. These kids are very new at performing but they hit that pseudo-stage as if their life depended on it. They were earnest, they were funny, they were delightful and they, every once in awhile, made mistakes. Well that is how you learn. By making mistakes. They will get better. You think the TSO musicians never made mistakes? HAH! Think again.
Was it funny? Funny is always entertaining. TSO is not funny. It is awesome. It is amazing. It is incredible. But it's not funny. The High School play was funny. Sometimes unintentionally, but damn it, funny is funny. In fact, one of the most unexpected funny parts was the sound check. Carrie's boyfriend Russ did a mighty fine stand up routine during the pre-performance sound-check that had Tim totally cracking up. TSO did NOT have humour, intentional or unintentional.
How about the Audience, what were they like? Well the High School play audience was great. They were quiet, they were attentive, they were supportive and encouraging and kind and considerate. They even giggled at all of the funny parts. The TSO audience was mystifying to me. While yes, a large percentage of the people there were just enjoying the absolute heck out of the show, there was far too much moving around. By that I mean, people walking out during the show to get another drink and come back. Half hour later, doing the same thing. Half hour later, again.. Did you go to drink? Or to see one Helluva great show? Pick One Please. Every time they stood up and walked in front of people, they were disrupting someone's view.
And speaking of disruption, may I please complain about the people sitting behind us who didn't shut up for one second during the entire performance!!!!! Some of what they said was actually about the show, but most of it was not. It was maddening! NOBODY did that during the high school play. Just sayin'.
The thing they mostly had in common was heart. BIG heart. Every single person on both of those stages was there because they wanted to be. And they gave 200%. And they wanted us to have at least as good a time as they were having. And they succeeded.
All in all, we just had the best weekend and ultimately we were Very Entertained.
December 18th, 2019
Happy Anniversary to us! Yup 26 years ago today, we stood in front of the Christmas tree in my teensy apartment in Connecticut and in front of 11 other people we both said that "we do".
And we do! We still do.
My how things have changed since then. The kids grew up, established careers and found the perfect women to be their life partners. In the past 26 years Tim and I have bought 3 houses, lived in three different states and had adventures that took us thousands of miles in every direction. We have both changed jobs several times, always for the better. We have painted and reno'd and landscaped our hearts (and wallets) out. We have purchased furniture and cars. We have have made friends and lost beloved family members.
We have been through good times and bad, experienced the heights of happiness and the depths of despair. There were times that we were annoyed and times that we were downright angry. But never once, in all that time, did we stop loving and respecting each other.
I think maybe that's the key. We were friends first. So we had already established a good strong foundation to our relationship. And then we built on that. Every single day that passes, I love him more. I love us as a unit more. And I'm pretty darned sure that he feels the same way. That's nice.
So there it is. Twenty-six years ago today we promised to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part.
And we do.
December 13th, 2019
Like the little elf that I am, and since I've been relatively home bound with this rotten cold, (grrrr) I've applied myself to decorating the house. Nothing gets in me in a holiday mood quite like the proper decor.
And since the only time of the year that I bother to do any decorating is Christmas tide, I go all out. Very few corners of our home remain undecorated at this point.
In our house, the stockings are hung from the drawer handles of the large display case. Since we have no mantel it will have to do. And it took me only a moment to solve to "how to hang the stockings from the drawer pulls" question. The answer...ribbon. Santa will have to literally cut the ribbon to unhang them in order to fill them. But if he can squeeze his chubby old self down non-existant chimneys I'm sure he can manage to simple pair of scissors.
The bright pink reindeer with the fur collars live on the kitchen table where everyone can enjoy them :) And don't you dare say a word against them because they were a gift from my sister years ago and I adore them. I actually found the sleigh on a discount table at Michael's in an after Christmas sale a few years later. I filled them with non-traditionally coloured baubles and personally I think it looks fabulous as a little tabletop vignette.
The little silver tree, (also a gift from Joy) is on the coffee table. The two little light up snowmen that holly jolly sit beside it were stocking gifts from Tim one year. Surprisingly, the original batteries still work! Another Christmas Miracle!
What is left of my humongous snowman collection (the majority of the collection sold quickly at our yardsale before we moved here) sit on the receiving table in the entry on either side of that tree in a lantern thingie. The tree in the latern is relatively new. I don't know why I love it but I do. We were at Michael's last year up in Sarasota buying the decorations for the Museum and I saw that tree in a lantern and involuntarily did a little gasp. I saw Tim's eyebrows go up and then I saw the tree in a lantern go into the cart. I remember very weakly protesting that I didn't actually NEED the tree in a lantern, I just liked it. He absolutely ignored my protests and now it's mine ;) He knows me so well :)
This is the first year that my Nativity has been set out. Many years ago, perhaps even before we got married, I wistfully mentioned to Tim while Christmas shopping for the boys, that I always wished for a pretty nativity to set out. It was just one of those things said idly in passing. At the time we didn't have any extra money for things that were not necessities. This nativity set was my gift from Tim that year. Wow! A man who listens! Yes he is pretty awesome :) I set it out year after year until we moved here.
We sold most of our ornaments and all of our trees (we had three!) before we moved here from Colorado, but I just could not bring myself to sell the creche. Our first Christmas here, I wasn't sure we could fit a tree into this ittybitty house. But we did. And that was kind of the beginning and the end of it. The second year, I found ways to fit more decorations in and then this year....tadaa, I realized that an end table in the family room stripped of everything else would work perfectly. And now, the Nativity has it's place.
The wreath is the same wreath I've had on the door the since we first moved here. But I did replace the ribbon this year. That old one was looking pretty ratty. I intended to buy some new ribbon but felt too crummy to go out shopping for it. Once I started decorating, lo and behold, there was an entire roll of this pretty gold ribbon in the decorations bin. No idea where it came from or why it was in there but now some of it is on the wreath. And it looks just fine to me!
The little glass tree of course, is something I bought for myself two Christmas' ago. I don't normally buy gifts for myself but that was one of those unusual moments where I fell madly in love with it instantly, bought it, brought it home and then felt guilty for days. When I confessed to Tim what I did, he laughed it off. "Nothing to feel guilty about. You love it, you bought it. Done". I still love it :) The cute little Santa beside it is one of those sun activated bobbles. It was in Tim's stocking last year I believe. The "Christmas is Love" Sign behind it all is a gift from a long time ago. From when we lived in Connecticut, in fact, which is at minimum about 15 years. The Woodworth girls gave it to me. I believe their mom made it. And I love it to bits and pieces. It was another of the few Christmas decorations I couldn't bring myself to sell.
The tree of course is over loaded with Christmas cheer. You know my Christmas Tree policy.... too much is just enough. I have scads of decorations collected over the years and every single solitary one of them was a gift. And I know who gave me which ones. And every year, as I decorate, I think about the people who gifted me each piece, I smile and my heart sings. Our tree is decorated with memories and lots of love.
And so it's finished. It took me the better part of two days but it's done. Our Christmas decor is far from designer perfect but it's perfect for us. And that's all that really matters.
FYI Taking a few days off next week so I probably won't be posting 'til mid-week in case you notice an absence of blog posts and wonder where the heck I am. Meanwhile, have a wonderful weekend and please enjoy every minute of the season.
Hugs all 'round til we meet again next week!
December 12th, 2019
I am in gift wrapping mode. Don't get in my way or you too will be swathed in colourful paper, tied up with brightly coloured ribbons and perhaps sporting a pretty bow on top your head. Maybe the tip of your nose. Depends on my mood at the moment.
I actually really enjoy gift wrapping. Honest, I do! Even when I was a kid I loved it. I was the designated gift wrapper in our house. My mom would have every gift already boxed (or bagged depending on what it was of course) and labeled who it was to and who it was from and then it was up to me to wrap it and make out the little gift tag. I even wrapped the gifts to me! And what's more, I never peeked. Not once! Not because I'm That Good, but rather because I wanted to be surprised. The delight of surprise outweighed the desire to know what was in the box.
I know that using real gift wrap and ribbon is considered a bad thing right now. And I'm sure that ecologically speaking, it is. Well the paper is most likely biodegradable. Maybe it's the ribbon that's a bad thing? All I know is, I keep hearing and reading ideas for using other things besides actual holiday appropriate wrapping paper. And there is nothing wrong with that.
For years, to save money, (since I had none) I wrapped gifts in newspaper, paper bags, sometimes pages out of magazines (for small gifts) or even aluminum foil. I tied them up with yarn, cotton twine, hair scrunchies or whatever else I had on hand. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. But it doesn't look very festive to me. And now that I can afford paper, I buy it. And I use it. And I love it!
To be fair, all year long I save scraps of this and that. I save ribbon from other gifts, boxes, gift bags, tissue paper, that bit of fluff that comes inside boxes to protect delicate things (I don't know what's it's called) and yes, even gift wrap that isn't totally wrecked. So I do re-use and that surely counts in my favour. Yes?
I have a bin that slides under my bed that holds all these goodies. As I come across things worth saving and re-using, I slide the bin out and add it to the collection. Bows in particular are easily reused and reused and re-re-re-used. Boxes on the other hand, don't really fit in the bin, so I have a large box in the utility room that holds boxes. A box of boxes as it were. Everything from shoe boxes to small kitchen appliance boxes to tiny jewelry gift boxes and everything in between is somewhere in that box of boxes. So whenever a box is needed, I know just where to look.
Yesterday I decided to begin my Christmas gift wrapping. All of the components start on the kitchen table. I just plop it all there amoungst the decor I already had out. It looks.....cheerful :) But the kitchen peninsula countertop is my gift wrap work station.
I consider each gift carefully. How to disguise it? Does it require a box? Does it need soundproofing? Is it breakable? Who is it for? Is it being shipped? Is it a stocking present? So many considerations before I even begin.
Finally, it begins. This year most everything I am wrapping is a stocking gift. Which means multiple small things for each person. Bearing that in mind, I try to not wrap any two the same way. I like to use lots of different papers and colours of ribbon. Even if those colours are not strictly Christmas colours. Like oh say, purple, or turquoise. Why not!
I do love Christmas stockings and in our house every single stocking gift is wrapped. It takes FOREVER to open stocking gifts. One person at a time, one gift at a time, 'round and 'round the circle we go. I guess that makes me evil Santa. Or Samta.
Either way, I have a lot more wrapping to do so I'd best get to it!
So, I guess that's a wrap on this post. teehee
December 11th, 2019
Lucky me. This is my world right now. I have the cold that will not die.
Ricola cough drops are my new best friend. Probably any cough drop would work but most of them are so sickeningly sweet (and that's coming from me, the sweets fiend!) that it's easy to get sick of them in a relatively short time. The ricola drops still have a sweetness but it's not overwhelmingly so.
I think I understand why cough drops are so sweet. Right now the only "flavour" I can detect at all is either salt or sweet. That's it. And worse, it's generic salt or sweet. Not, "Oh lemony sweet" or "Chocolately sweet". Nope just sweet. So you would think that flavour would not matter. Turns out that it does.
Which brings me to cough & cold medicines. I had Mucinex on hand. Ok. Considering the amount of congestion I am dealing with, Mucinex - as gross as the name implies - seems reasonable as a choice. Right up until I took the first dose. Yuck...cherry. Of all the flavours in the flavour spectrum, why cherry? While I am grateful that I was not able to smell or taste the full fake cherry flavour, I got enough of it to make me gag. Of all of the fake flavours available, there is only one worse than fake cherry and that is fake banana. I am delighted beyond measure that it wasn't fake banana. But still. The taste is just nasty. I had to eat a cookie to cancel it out. And honestly I cannot taste anything in the cookie beyond sweet. But it's enough to get rid of the fake cherry. Horrors.
Even as a kid I didn't like cherry flavouring. When I had the oppportunity to select a lollypop or a popsicles, I never EVER choose the red ones. I think anything of it at the time. But as an adult, I did question it. Turns out, I like cherries. I don't like fake cherry flavouring.
So fine, I cowgirled up. Despite it's revolting flavour, I am taking my Mucinex with a cookie chaser during the day. Followed by copious amounts of water and liberal Ricola cough drops throughout the day. Soup has been administered as well. which merely tastes of hot liquid salt. But hey, it's not fake cherry so that's fine. And the hot liquid salt feels soooo gooood. Sooothing on my poor ravaged throat.
My days have been filled with chores done very very slowly and lots of breaks and occasional naps. Mostly they have been passing in a fog. Day? What day? But I still got up, took a shower, and at least attempted to function every day. Any amount of exertion on my part, up to and including folding the clean laundry set off coughing spasms. Fun! Any attempt to talk was just plain silly. Not only did it, again, trigger coughing fits but my voice is...well...ridiculous. So silence is key. (for the most part. Sometimes there are things I absolutely have to say like...please come kill the monster bug I just found!)
So the days are covered. While I haven't exactly been a ball of fire, I'm still very very slowly getting things done.
But nights, on the other hand, nights are awful. I cannot breathe lying down. So I tried to prop myself up. Which is a huge fail though because I always end up sliding down the pillows until I'm lying down again which of course begins the coughcoughcough. Because I am a considerate person and despite Tim's insistence that my coughing and sneezing and incessant nose blowing (and, I'm sure, snoring) is not bothering him, I am absolutely certain that it is. So eventually I made my way to the family room, and propped myself up out there, dosing between coughing fits, watching terrible late night TV and/or the Hallmark channel. I spent several nights coughing, sneezing, blowing my nose and crying at Hallmark Movies. What a mess! So after a few nights of that I am not only tired because I'm sick, I am also tired because I'm not sleeping. Not Good.
Finally, Tim took pity of me and brought home some Robitussin PM to try. Naturally, it too, is flavoured with fake cherry (gag) But gamely, I swigged it down and to my surprise, I actually did sleep a little bit. It's not so much that this PM specific medicine calmed symptoms down enough that it allowed me to sleep. It's more that it rendered me unconscious. I went from awake to asleep in about the amount of time it took me to say, "This stuff tastes gross" Aaaannnnddd...out!
But at that point I didn't care. It somehow wasn't alarming. It was awesome.
Sleep is a wonderful thing. Especially when sick. That's when your body heals.
Having a cold that is bad enough to stop me in my tracks hasn't happened since I was a child. This wasn't so much a cold as it was an 18-wheeler. It was bad enough that I actually napped during the day! Bad enough that I didn't go to Pilates! Bad enough that I called out sick from work! (gasp!) I never do that! But I did.
I can tell that I am slowly, way way tooo slowly for my liking, beginning to improve. Thank goodness!
For anyone else out there who is getting this nasty germie I say, Mucinex, Ricola cough drops, lots of soup and water, rest and most especially that Robitussin PM. Man that stuff was amazing!
Try to stay healthy!
December 10th, 2019
This will be a very brief blogpost. Just wanted to share these photos.
The other night we went down to the jetty around dinner time. I am learning to grab my camera before leaving the house ! And I'm so glad I did. Caught these photos and I am so very pleased with them.
Hope you enjoy.
AND have a wonderful day!
Hugs all 'round
December 09th, 2019
Every year since we've moved to Florida, somewhere during the Christmas Season, Tim and I get together with Joy and Bob and do some sort of Christmas Event. It might be a play, or a movie or a trolley ride to see the lights. This year it was something called, 'Enchant' up in Tampa and it was Enchanted indeed.
Joy is the one who came up with the idea. We got the tickets in early November and it's a good thing we did too because it was a completely sold out event. Yikes! We had an assigned time to arrive and roughly and hour to explore. They had rules y'see. I don't generally do well with arbitrary rules but it turns out that they were pretty much spot on. One hour was perfect.
Enchant is a Light Maze (never heard of such a thing before myself) and it was held in the Tropicana Field Arena. And may I just say wow. No wait, more like WOW! It was pretty dang amazing.
Of course we had no idea what it was all about. We just did what they told us. Showed up at the right time, parked in the right place, walked in the correct door and followed the crowd down a hall way that seemed to go on forever and then suddenly we turned a corner and, and, and....we were immediately transported back in time about 60 years.
Before us lay a wonderland of lights. We were temporarily stunned with the enormity of it's awesomeness.
It wasn't enough to just have this incredible maze of lights to wander through. Nope. We were given a mission immediately upon enterring. Adorably attired Christmas eleves handed out cards labeled "The Great Search". After a few moments of pondering we got it. There were 9 little scratch offs, one for each reindeer. Ah! So the goal is to find each of Santa's reindeer. Ok. Mission accepted! I felt confident, after all, I know the names of all of Santa's reindeer. You doubt me? Ok then, Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Coment, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen and Rudolph. See!
The maze was filled with, not just the aforementioned reindeer, but HUGE reindeer. They were each hidden within the maze. Well hidden as well as 9 ginormous lighted up Reindeer actually can be hidden. They were tucked here and there throughout the maze. It took some sleuthing to find them all but we did!~ Here are a few of them:
There were also trees of every shape and size:
There were snowflakes and mirrored icicles and snowmen!
We never knew what might be around the next curve or corner. It might be a tunnel of lights or a walkway that changes colours as you step
One of our favourite things was the ice skating rink. We stood and watched the skaters for awhile. Some either were born with the knack, they have skated before or were quick studies. Others were more of the Sam school of skating...down more than up. My favourites were the children who had never had the opportunity be on skates before. They were so tickled with themselves. (Please note that none of us donned ice skates ourselves and got out there).
Through some sort of magic, occasionally it was snowing inside! I was trying to get a photo of the Tropicana field sign which came out terrible, BUT you can see the snow coming down.
Here and there were phrases of inspiration and/or identification. And yes all around the perimeter booths of different kinds of foods to buy. It smelled so good in there. The cinnamon rolls were tempting but I was strong and resisted.
The staff were wonderful. Very helpful, very happy and dressed to the occasion. There were even Carolers!
We were mesmerized! Everywhere we looked there was more to see. We found ourselves just gazing in wonder exactly like all the kids. In fact, everyone in attendance was suddenly a child again for just another hour. That is a Christmas Miracle in itself.
We had a wonderful time. It was a delightful. It was charming. It was fun. It was Enchanting!
December 06th, 2019
This blob of white is actually a bed skirt.
I've had this particular bedskirt for a long time. It was on our bed in our Connecticut house. Then it was on a bed in the guest room in our Colorado house. Up until this week it was on our bed here in Florida. I took it off to wash it and now I wondering if I should bother putting it back on. Obviously I would have to iron it first. Hmmmmm.
I didn't grow up in a family that used bedskirts by the way. The entire concept of bedskirts was kind of high falutin' for the household I grew up in. So it wasn't on my radar for YEARS!
But somewhere along the line, when I was a single mom, I was given a subscription to a magazine called, Victoria. It was such a lovely, romantic publication. I feel in love immediately. Swoon. Being the only female in a household filled with boys, I was craving something delicate and feminine and well, just, pretty. So once a month, after the boys were long abed, I would read every single page in that magazine, lingering over the beautiful photographs and dreaming girly dreams.
After Tim and I got married and we bought a house, during the big move, he noted that one of the heavy boxes he lugged in was filled with my Victoria magazines because I never threw one away. Not one. I read them, and re-read them etc. I chattered away about how lovely the magazine was and why I enjoyed it so much. He listened, as he does, and nodnodnodded and when I finally shut up, he pointed out that if I wanted or needed something pretty/girlie/schmancy in our bedroom to go right ahead. He was man enough to sleep in a girlie bedroom if that made me happy. Awwwwwww. What a nice man ;)
Well, I didn't want to make him totally uncomfortable, but perhaps I could come up with one girlie romantic touch. What I decided upon was the bedskirt. Some people call it a dust ruffle. Regardless of what you call it, if you are unfamiliar with the concept it is fabric that sits between the box spring and the mattress. It has long extended sides that go down almost to the floor completely covering the bedframe and obscuring any view of what, if anything, is under the bed.
So we went shopping and finally I found this one. It's white, so it goes with almost anything. It wasn't too ruffley and while it has a wee bit of cutwork along the bottom it's only a tiny bit girlie. I was so excited to wash and iron it and get it on the bed. It took both of us to remove the top mattress, get the bedskirt placed and centered just perfectly and then to replace the mattress and get pillows and bedspread all sorted out. I loved the look. It softened the rather spartan look of the room just enough for me but not too feminine for Tim. Balance.
Then, when we moved to Colorado we had a much larger house with much larger bedrooms and we decided to splurge and buy ourselves a new bed. We looked for a very long time and finally settled on this monster sleigh bed. It was a lovely heavy cherry wood piece with the massive head and foot boards and, something new to me, side rails.
The side rails look awesome. As they are a full 15 inches wide, they completely cover the box spring and actually more since there remains only about 2 inches of clearance from the bottom of the side rail to the floor. Which means nothing fits underneath. The side rails were absolutely perfect for breaking nails while changing sheets and corralling dust bunnies.
It also eliminated the need for the bedskirt. So rather than waste it, I put it on the bed in one of the guest rooms. And it looked perfect in there! So for ten years, in Colorado that was it's use.
Then when we moved here, we found that our bedroom felt too small, too crowded with that monster sleigh bed in it so once again, we bought another bed. This one an rather old fashioned metal work bed with big wooden legs. Which means that once again, the box spring was just hanging out there and the underbed storage box was completely visible. And I really didn't like that look. Soooo the bedskirt was once again put to use on our bed. OK that should be fine.
Maybe because it's kind of old now but I am finding that the darned skirt constantly needs to be re-adjusted now. It doesn't hang evenly and every day when I make up the bed, I am making adjustment. Pulling it down here, tucking it up there, and occasionally having to take it off the bed completely and putting it back on, correctly just to keep it looking good. I don't like fussy. Never have. High maintenance households irritate me. Ordinary maintenance I am fine with but forever having to adjust something? Nope.
So about two weeks ago I took the bedskirt completely off the bed to wash and ironing it, fully intending to put it back on and yet...I have not. I'm debating if I even should.
Here are some photos. The first is without the bedskirt. I do not like how I can see the box spring. It's not horrible. It's not torn up or stained or broken of course, it's just not pretty. Also the bedrame legs are visible. Also not pretty. AND I can see the underbed storage box. Hey! It's a small house. Gotta get creative with storage. That's where I keep wrapping paper, small boxes, ribbon things like that.
And then this photo is with the bedskirt on.
It feels as if it looks more ...I don't know...more finished? Like putting curtains or drapes at a window. Also, once again, I cannot see the frame the box spring or the storage box.
On the other hand, without the bedskirt, I don't have to fuss with it every day and I will never have to wash and iron it again.
What do you guys think? Bedskirt yes? Bedskirt no.
Waiting for your votes :)
December 05th, 2019
For the life of me I cannot recall which fast food restaurant is touting their faux burger currently. It's some plant based thing that "tastes exactly like a real burger". Or so they say.
I have so many issues with this, I'm not sure where to start.
Right off the bat I have to tell you that I have absolutely nothing against a veggie "burger". Personally I've never eaten one that I liked the taste of, but if you do like them...that's awesome. So please understand, right up front, that this is not coming from some weird psychotic hatred of veggie burgers, ok?
But let's start with the fact that we are calling any hot 'pattie' or facsimile thereof a "burger". It's not a burger. "Burger" is short for Hamburger. It is. I looked it to be sure that I was correct. Over the years it has come to mean anything sort of like a hamburger that is hot and between two slices of bread buns or something representing buns.
Ok I will admit that the word hamburger is deceptive at best. The word implies that the sandwich is made out of ham and it isn't. A proper Hamburger is made out of beef. As it turns out the original Hamburger was a "Hamburg style steak" which was actually raw chopped beef as eaten in Hamburg Germany. It wasn't even put on bread until the late 1880's in New Haven Connecticut when Louis Lassen put cooked ground beef steak between two pieces of bread. Voila! The beginnings our what we call a Hamburger.
And sure, I understand how that morphed into chicken burgers, portobello burgers, and whatever constitutes a proper veggie burger. Something hot and pattie-like between two pieces of bread obviously equals a something-burger. Okay. I will conceded that.
But this new plant-based "burger" that tastes exactly like a real burger - and I'm not the one who made that distinction, I am quoting them...real burger - is crazy.
Do you know how they made something plant based taste like a "real" burger? With chemical additives. Yummmy! So it's really not a plant based burger it's a chemical additive burger. Just whets the appetite doesn't it?
And the thing that really gets me shaking my head about this is how much more attentive so many of us have become to eating more healthfully. Less fat, fewer carbs, more veggies (I do love my veggies) and - here is the truly nutty part - paying significantly higher prices for organic foods. Ok let me get this straight. We are paying more for organic food because it has no chemicals, no additives, nothing synthetic right? But it's ok to morph a veggie concoction into a "burger" flavoured presentation via chemical additives. And that's ok because it's veggie based and not beef. And we all know how bad beef is for us, right? And we know that because we are told that over and over and over ad nauseum.
Sooooooo do you eat this chemical-laden plant based burger on organic bread with organic lettuce and a slice of organic tomato on top? And if you do that, do the organic veggie cancel out the chemical additives? I'm just curious how that works.
See now, I don't usually buy organic anything. Why? Because I'm cheap. That really and truly is the only reason. I have no bias against organic foods otherwise. Remember now, I used to live on a farm. Everything we ate was organic because it was grown right there on our property and we absolutely didn't use chemicals . Why? Because chemicals are expensive! As I've already stated, I'm tight with a buck. But if a food being organic is important to you for whatever reason, then go for it! We all make our choices.
Here is the other thing that kind of bugs me about this fakeyfake plant based burger. Every single solitary time in my life that someone offers me a healthy alternative to something, they swear to me that it tastes exactly like.....whatever the thing I liked was. I have been hearing this line for too many years to count. "Carob tastes just like chocolate", "Frozen yogurt (which I happen to like) tastes just like ice cream" "Splenda tastes just like sugar". Ummmmm no. No it does not. Never once in my entire experience has a substitute anything tasted "exactly" like whatever it is subbing for. Never.
Cauliflower pizza doesn't taste like regular pizza. Nor does mashed cauliflower taste like mashed potatoes. Cauliflower tastes like cauliflower. Period. Smells like it too. And I have nothing against cauliflower. I especially like it raw. But the only thing it tastes like is cauliflower. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Why the Lie?
I actually CAN believe that's it's not butter. And the substitute ice creams - fat free, lactose free, sugar free, taste nothing like real full fat, real sugar, real lactose ice creams. They just do not. They do not smell the same. They do not have the same mouth-feel. They do not taste the same. Period.
I get that there are folks with real medical issues that necessitate utilizing substitute this's and that's in the foods world. And that's fine. I'm glad there are replacement foods for them. And if they happen to like the replacements, even better! Yay! BUT it does not taste the same. it just does not. Like to yourself all you like. Just don't like to me.
I don't know how many of you are old enough to remember the cola challenge? Many moons ago, somebody got the bright idea to have people do blind taste tests of various brands of cola. It's all basically the same thing right? Cold, brown, fizzy liquid. Should taste the same yes? Well it turns out that it does not. Pepsi, Coke and RC (or Royal Crown) were the ones I remember. They were all tasty but they had their own separate distinctive and completely different taste. And almost everyone who did the challenges proved it.
My final word on the matter is that if you want a veggie burger then have one that tastes like a veggie burger. If you want a burger that tastes like beef, then for heaven's sakes, eat a beef burger! I cannot believe that ingesting all those chemical additives is a healthier alternative.
December 04th, 2019
In behalf of those of you who are keeping score, yes, I did accidentally post two different blog posts on Monday this week. That was me. I confess. I did it.
How does one make a mistake like that, you may be asking yourself. Hey, anybody can make a boo-boo. I know that I absolutely can. I may have majored in error in college. I only minored in boo-boo.
And if you assumed that the mistake happened because my memory is so far gone now that I completely forgot that I had already written a post Monday, I am happy to report that that is not at all what happened. I may not remember the name of the restaurant we ate at last week but I know when I post a blog!
Y'see, sometimes the ideas come to me in a pile. A laundry basket full of topics all at one time. Generally I just jot down the ideas in a little notebook I keep right here beside my keyboard for future reference. But every once in awhile, I get multiple ideas at the same time when I actually have some free time to write so, what the heck, I go ahead and write the blogposts and set them up to publish or "drop" at a later date.
This time it happened this past Sunday evening. The cookies were done, packed, boxed, labelled and ready to go. The kitchen was, once again, pristine and I had even caught up on all the laundry I hadn't done in about a week. There was absolutely nothing of interest to me on television so instead of hunkering down on the sofa with a book, instead I sat at the keyboard and began typing.
Once the posts were written, I then had to set them up to be published at a specific day at a specific time. Normally I would consult my desk calendar to be certain of the date in question. This time, I did not. And that's where it all went sideways. I was relying on my own questionable memory skills.
Since the day I was actually writing was December the first - a Sunday - then it logically follows that the very next day - a Monday - would be December the second, right? Yes! And so the first post was successfully (and correctly) set up. Then I stepped away to do.....something I don't remember what..... and returned to write the second post. I began to set up it's publication and was interrupted again. When I returned, I finished up thinking... "now when did I want this posted? Oh yeah, Tuesday, December the second" aaannnddd...you see what went wrong there, right? I suspect that if I hadn't been interrupted, or if I had been paying closer attention, this particularly mistake would not have been made.
I actually do this advance writing thing quite often. Whenever I have something busy going on in the morning, I will write that post a day or two (or more) ahead of time. Every once in awhile, when I look at my calendar I see that my only "free" day is Monday so I write the entire week's worth on one day and set them up to drop individually for the rest of the week. Which for me is so very cool!
AND it usually it works. This time it did not. This One Time! And now my secret is out.
Funny story about secrets. One of my dearest friends in college was a lovely woman from Denmark. She was smart and beautiful and classy and wonderful. Her command of English was impressive (she actually spoke many languages!!) but occasionally there was a colloquialism or idiom that she didn't get quite right. Once she was telling a small group of us about a surprise she was planning for a mutual friend. She made us promise to keep the secret. Her final statement to us that day was, "Don't let the cat out of the beans!" said very sternly. She meant business. Of course we all looked at each blankly....cat out of the beans? Then it dawned on me. She was combining idioms; Don't let the cat out of the bag and Don't spill the beans! (Come on...that was adorable!) Whenever I think about secrets I still warn myself to Not Let The Cat Out Of The Beans! teehee!
Back to the mistake at hand. You know, I used to faithfully wake up very early every single Monday through Friday, stumble out to my computer and si tin front of my computer still in my jammies, with bed head, typing like a madwoman so that no matter what else was going on that day, by golly, my blog would be published! I am kind of goal oriented. Then one day Tim showed me how to set up a scheduled drop and my life was ever so much better. So was my typing! Writing while fully awake has only improved the product, I assure you.
So anyway. That's how that happened. Never happened before. May never happen again. But, since a few people asked, that's how it all went down. And despite my error, the sun still rose in the east and set in the west. Life went on.
And as long as nobody lets the cat out of the beans, it will continue to do so.
Hugs all 'round.
December 03rd, 2019
Don't I look lovely today? Don't answer that question. I already know the answer. I look like crap. Which is fitting because that's exactly the way I feel.
I assume it's a cold. I haven't had a common ordinary run-of-the-mill cold in so many years now that I guess I've forgotten what they are like.
As per usual, I just ignored the tiny itty bitty truly insignificant indicators that I was getting a cold at the start. You know the ones. The very beginnings of some congestion. Easily dismissed. Perhaps there is something I'm allergic to in the air. It was simple enough to ignore. Then there was the occasional sneeze. Well people sneeze. It's nothing. Probably I need to dust was the thought in my head (And probably I do need to dust!)
Shortly thereafter, there was the tiniest bit of fatigue. Well that one is super simple to pretend isn't happening because I'm always tired. That's what happens when you are a chronic insomniac. Tired is my normal state of being so I honestly just do not think about it. I just keep going, doing what I do, living my life, without concerning myself with being tired. It is a non-issue. Except that suddenly I was actually noticing that I was tired. " That's odd", I thought to myself. But, I tucked it away in the back of my brain and kept going.
But yesterday morning when I woke up, Tim said "Good Morning' to me and instead of saying good morning back, I said, "Croak!" What? I cleared my throat. Ooooo tender throat. That's new! I tried again and I croaked again. "Sounds like you are losing your voice" Tim observed. I nodded. Yes it does! That is exactly what it sounded like! I shook my head and jumped into a nice hot shower. "That'll loosen things up", I said to myself. And it did too. Instead of a croak my voice sounded like I was gargling with gravel.
Well, nothing to do about it but let it run it's course really. So I went about my day doing the stuff I do and didn't talk. No matter how many things needed to be said, I kept my trap shut. The laundry got done, the sheets got changed, vaccuming doesn't require any talking, nor does blogging really except when I'm talking to myself out loud, which apparently I do with alarming frequency because I kept starting to say stuff aloud and...well...couldn't!
I took lots of breaks, drank endless cups of hot water, and then the coughing began. Now I am well aware that a cough is a good thing. It's breaking up with yuck in your lungs. The nasty sounded wet cough is actually the best kind. It's called a "productive cough". A tight dry cough - probably the least offensive sounding cough - is actually a far less healthy one. But the good cough, the productive one, sounds revolting. Nobody wants to hear that! It's gross!
The phone rang. Instinctively, I answered it. '' 'Lo " I croaked out. The person on the other end launched immediately into some sort of salespitch. I have to say here that I am usually very polite. Even when it's a telemarketer, I am polite. Usually I say, "No Thank you" and/or "we are not interested". And usually they accept that, thank me, and we both hang up. I know they are just doing their job. And an unpleasant job it is too. The least I can do is listen politely, Say no thank you, politely, and then hang up, again politely. But this time, when I opened my mouth to talk, nothing, literally not one syllable came out. Nada. Until the effort of attempting to push sound out initiated a coughing fit. I think they hung up before I did.
So now I'm making all sorts of unpleasant noises. Sneezing, coughing, wheezing and no doubt, if asleep at this point, snoring. The only sound I am NOT making is talking. Because when I open my mouth to speak, there isn't much coming out that is distinguishable as human speech.
And that is the hardest part for me. There are things I need to say sometimes. Like to Tim when he asks me a question! Or out loud to myself. Like when I stub my toe. Then I have lots of things to say. None of them pretty. And sometimes I have things to say to the TV. Of course those things are usually either pithy observations or snarky commentary. BUT they need to be said! And right now, they have to stay inside my head and it is just so frustrating!
I am verbal. No questions about that. Chatty Cathy has nothin' on me. I am a talker. I will talk to anyone and everyone. Bu I'm also a listener. Social discourse requires both. It's like a volley. They say something, I return, they come back, I respond and so forth. Someone I've met before can occupy me with good conversation for hours. Someone who is a total stranger is good for fifteen minutes minimum.
Right now, however, I can only smile and nod, smile and nod. That doesn't translate very well in a phone call. And it would be incredibly inconsiderate of me to share my germs with the world, so clearly I won't be attempting to converse with anyone outside this house. And sadly, it would only be an attempt anyway because, unless you are a skilled lip-reader, you wouldn't have the first clue what I am trying to say.
So what I'm doing right now is drinking lots of fluids, resting, coughing, sneezing and NOT talking. Not because I don't want to talk you understand, but because I am incapable of speech. So frustrating.
Our house right now is filled with the sound of silence. Simon and Garfunkel levels of silence. I know that Tim is sympathetic to my germ-imposed quietude, still I can't help but believe that deep down inside some place he is probably enjoying the break from my constant chattering.
Eventually my voice will return, the cold will be gone and then, I will make up for lost time. Fair Warning!
I always have a lot to say, just right now I don't have the capability to actually say it. DANG!
December 02nd, 2019
I do not function well in chaos. Everyone who knows me well, knows this to be true.
It's the primary reason why I am so annoyingly tidy and organized. I am happier, less stressed, more productive and definitely more clear-minded when the environment around me is clean and neat.
With the exception of the Christmas Cooking Baking Marathon weekend. Then I am anything but tidy. The aftermath leaves the kitchen looking as if some sort of gluten war had been fought, a food-fight, as it were. If not a full out war, then at least a particularly ugly battle.
There is an organization of sorts going on in my mind at all times. And in truth I know where everything is. I could, if asked, tell you the location of every ingredient, every measuring spoon, every recipe, each zippy bag and marker pen at any given time. But if you were foolish enough to walk in our front door in the midst of bakathon, you would think that you had stepped into an insane asylum or an alternate reality. But one that smelled really good, of course.
There were literally stacks of butter blocks, cartons of eggs, opened bags of flour, various sorts of sugars and jar after jar of spices everywhere. Sprinkles and food colouring and spatulas of every shape and size surrounded me. Packages of walnuts and pecans, chips of every description, and cookie cutters galore.
Ours is a relatively small kitchen and most of the time that is a non-issue. But during the baking marathon, I don't bother to put away the things I require between uses. Of course not. Odds are really good that I am going to need that (insert product here) again later for a different batch. So I just leave it out on the counter. And I know exactly where I left it so I can grab it when I need it again. But of course, nobody else has a clue.
The - oh let's call it a type of loose organization - during the bakathon is absolutely present, it's just subtle. Ingredients not being used at the moment are to the right of the sink. Clean dishes are on the tea towel to the left of the sink (dirty dishes are obviously IN the sink). The products I need for the next batch are on the peninsula to the right of the giant pastry board. The mixer is on it's adorable little rollaway cart at the end of the peninsula. Cookies that are either awaiting further decoration or are cooling are on the kitchen table. Specialty ingredients (the ones I only need for a single batch) are on the counter top to the left of the stove. The zippy bags and marker pens are on the kitchen chair at the bay window. Extra newspapers (I make way too many cookies to bother with cooling racks...layers of newspaper work!) are on the other chair at the bay window.
The cookies that are already finished? Oh those are lined up, in carefully labelled zippy bags, on the bed in the guest room; one line of cookie bags per kiddo household. Extra cookies? Oh those bags are on the living room sofa. Why? Well I"m not using it for anything else at that particular moment, so why not?
In short, it looks crazy. And untidy. And frankly, not organized or tidy or neat or any other word that most people associate with me. And yet, during cookie making weekend, that's how I roll. And it stays that way until all of the cookies are baked. If it takes two days, then it remains that way for two days...a 3 day bakathon means the kitchen is a disaster area for three days. How on earth do I sleep knowing how messy my kitchen is?
In truth, for many years at the end of every baking marathon day, I would completely clean the kitchen and put everything away and then next day haul it all back out again. That's kind of crazy and a real time-suck. To make the best use of my time during this cookie making frenzy, I need to let go of the unimportant things and stay focused on the important stuff. In this case, the cookies.
Of course, the instant it's all done, I want to cleancleancleancleanclean. AND what's more, I usually do. But something has happened as I've gotten older, wiser, (and more tired). I've realized that the entire world will not come to a screeching halt if I wait and start the big sandblast worthy cleaning the next day. And so this year that is what I did.
Friday, we made 7 different kinds of cookies! On Saturday we made 8 different kinds! By end of day Saturday, after I loaded the dishwasher, I stood in the middle of the floor and looked at the kitchen. I made note of the sticky floor, the bottles and boxes and jars and bags of this, that and the other thing. I saw the stack of dirty cookie pans and the filthy counter tops, water spotted backsplash and crumb laden kitchen table. My head said, "Time to get cracking on cleaning!" Then I thought about how much my back hurt and my feet and legs ached (from standing on tile floors for eleven hours) and my hands were stiff and sore and my head hurt just from fatigue I think, and said to myself, " You know what? It'll keep."
And you know what? I was right. All of it was still right there waiting for me this morning. No elves came in the night to clean it up. No worries. I knocked it out today with a smile, fresh energy and a better attitude. The kitchen once again looks as it did before the baking began. The cookies are boxed and ready to go to UPS tomorrow. And the annual Christmas Cookie Baking Marathon was, once again, a success.
And I'm back to being obsessively tidy. It was just an intermission. Or perhaps, considering the mighty battle that was fought, we should just consider it, a truce ;)
December 02nd, 2019
Well this is us. Tim and I, then niece Carrie and her beau, Russ and of course, Joy and Bob Good lookin' group eh?
Our Thanksgiving here was a balmy 81 degrees with beautiful sunshine. Not the weather one might traditionally associate with Thanksgiving, granted, but at least nobody had to drive on snowy, icey roads!
I called "slacker" this year and suggested that we eat out at a restaurant instead of cooking. To my surprise (and delight) everyone was on board. From the great minds think alike collection. Joy always encourages me to, "Do something easy" She's right. It isn't necessary to fret and fuss over the meal! It's not a requirement.
Tim did some research and chose Seasons 52 as the restaurant and made reservations. It's a nice place and we were treated very well. There was a choice of the "traditional Thanksgiving Feast' or ordering off the standard menu. Four of the six of us opted for traditional.
I was one of the traditionalists which is funny because I've spent many many Thanksgivings eating very non-traditional foods. Spaghetti or PBJ sandwiches were just as apt to show up on our childhood Thanksgiving table as turkey. As an adult I've experimented with roast beef, seafood or ham as well as bird. But today, for me, I think it was all about the mashed potatoes. As I told my niece, "mashed potatoes are life". I do love mashed taters.
The traditional meal was turkey, of course, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce, stuffing, green beans, squash and yeast rolls. The rolls were a little herby which I am not a fan of. But most people seemed to like them. They had pumpkin butter to go with. Very festive. Everything else was very nice. Well to be absolutely honest the cranberry sauce was too sweet. But I suspect that is just a personal preference. I kind of like some tartness in my cranberry.
Dessert was a shot-glass sized dish with alternate layers of pumpkin mousse and spice cake. It was excellent. However, it wasn't pie. Dang. I really like pie. I especially like leftover pie for breakfast the next day.
Come to think of it, I also like turkey sandwiches the next day and we won't have that either. Double dang. So you see, when one opts for Thanksgiving at a restuarant (And dang it, that was my idea) there is a built-in compromise.
For all the convenience of eating out, there are no yummy leftovers for sandwich making and breakfast pie consuming. That's kind of disappointing. On the other hand, I didn't have to clean and cook for two days.
So let's weigh this up. Not having to do the "company cleaning" and make two or three pies the day before and then making turkey, biscuits, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, green peas, gravy the day of plus all the clean up versus a fridge full of leftovers for so many yummy meals in the days to come. Oooooo. That is a tough one.
You know what, it doesn't matter. It was a good day and a terrific meal with great company and that really is the only thing that matters.
It's actually not the first time that Tim and I have had Thanksgiving at a restaurant. The last few years that we lived in Colorado we drove up to Estes Park every year, had Thanksgiving dinner in a restaurant and stayed at the Stanley for a few days, hanging around town, enjoying Rocky Mountain State Park and the Illuminated Parade.
There was no leftover pie or roast turkey sandwiches then either. And I survived.
But this was the first time since we moved to Florida that we celebrated Turkey day at a restaurant. I'm not sure if this is going to become a "thing' or not yet. We shall see what the future brings.
In short, we already broke with our Florida Thanksgiving tradition this year because a) I didn't cook b) we didn't have a giant puzzle to work on c) we didn't walk to the beach BUT we did take the traditional Thanksgiving Day photo !!! We did eat together! Pumpkin and turkey were involved! And more importantly, there were mashed potatoes. Life is good.
Hope your Thanksgiving Day was something for which you are truly thankful.
Ours absolutely was!
Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.