Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve

I have my Christmas Eve bread rising and a sink full of dirty dishes. I have the fish out in the fridge to thaw. I need to make 7 layer dip for Scott's office party. I need to get showered, dressed and head to Target to buy a few essentials like toothpaste, because I keep forgetting to pick that up at the store. It is a rainy, gray and very blustery day.

And....I'm happy. This morning when I checked my email, I had a note from Anne. She is home, weak, but back online and writing. Yeah!!

No blogging from me for a week or so as we enjoy Christmas and then head out to visit family.

So, Merry Christmas to all!!!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

good news

My friend Anne is being released from the hospital today!!! Yeah!!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

lots of reading

The middle kid and I stopped at the library yesterday and brought home several books to enjoy.
Found the third Frank Beddor's book for the oldest; his take on the Alice in Wonderland story. She snuggled up under a quilt and read the day away...finished it in 6.5 hours. I found the Sookie Stackhouse short story collection. I sat across for the oldest and read that book then started a new one called "The Fruit of her Hands, the story of Shira of Ashkenaz" about a Jewess in the Middle Ages. The youngest is reading the first Harry Potter and at last check was half way through it. The middle kid seems to have a sinus off to the doctor we go today. She couldn't read yesterday due to a headache that hit about mid-afternoon, but does have two books to enjoy when she is feeling better.

So, for today, other than a trip to see the nurse practitioner and then a trip to the pharmacy to get her antibiotic prescription filled....not sure what we are doing. Maybe reading?!

Monday, December 21, 2009

egg nog and such

We attended our oldest kid's soccer team Christmas Party yesterday and one very fun thing was that we were able to try Puerto Rican egg nog. Yep. Never knew there was such a thing, but boy is it delicious!! I've asked for the recipe, but may have to see if I can google it. I know the ingredients, it would just be getting the proportions.

Had a really good time at the party. So nice to see all those soccer girls having fun and enjoying each other's company off the field. We had plenty of food and everyone left smiling.

I should make a grocery store run today and pick up the last few things we need for the week. I really don't want to have to be anywhere near the store as the week winds down towards Christmas. The kids are asking what we had planned for the next few days, and I really have no plans.

I do need to run by Goodwill and drop off a few bags of donations. I finally cleaned out our two linen closets and culled several sets of sheets and towels that have seen better days. The closets look so much better after my efforts. You can actually see what is there! Amazing!

A stop at the Library may also be in order. I'd like to read Anne Rice's latest book. This one is on angels. She had an article in the Parade magazine in Sunday's paper. Nice essay and the contrast/comparison she drew between the fascination we have with vampires and angels was really intriguing. I'd like to read her autobiography as well; her journey from Catholicism to Atheism then back to the Church would probably be very interesting.

Well, I guess Midnight Mass is out....hubby got a call that ushers are desperately needed at the 7:00 Mass, so that is when we will attend. Probably for the best. We'd all be so tired on Christmas Day and grumpy from lack of sleep!!

Speaking of sleep, my house is quiet and still. No hustle. No bustle. Just the dog snoring and the furnace running. What a peaceful way to start the week.

Friday, December 18, 2009

christmas past

As I've been putting together recipes and ingredients for the cookies and candies we will make this year for Christmas, I've been thinking about my Grandma Hillsman who passed away this past January. She was an amazing baker and at Christmas time she would fill the top of a picnic table with nut rolls, breads, and other assorted goodies for the holiday. I could so go for a slice of her apricot roll or one of her apricot filled cookies right now.

We went to Pennsylvania several times for Christmas. My earliest memory, and this one may be enhanced by the retellings I've heard, is of when my grandfather wrestled Santa for more presents. He came out of the basement, pants torn and dishevelled after taking down the jolly old elf to make sure we got our fair share.

I also remember singing in the choir loft with him and my cousins Andria and Cindy at one Midnight Mass. I remember lots of people crowded into their small house, adults clustered around the dining room table and cousins playing on the floors hoping not to be stepped on.

When I was older I remember driving there with my folks, but I flew home as I had to be at work so soon after the holiday. The trip to the airport was treacherous, but my Dad got me there safe and sound then had to take that nasty drive on the turnpike back to Nemacolin.

I remember Christmas at home, going to St. Jude for Mass, having our Christmas Eve fish dinner, our version of the wigilia meal. I ordered my oplatke and have it ready for next week. I'll be thinking of my brother a world away and wishing he was at home with his wife and kids having his wigilia dinner.

We are going to stay awake and attend Midnight Mass tonight. The kids have never been to one and there is something so beautiful and special about that Mass in particular. If it takes naps, coffee or as the middle kid is planning, energy drinks, we are going to do that this year.

Because that is how you make those memories that stay with you....long after the last apricot roll is eaten.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


The girls start their final exams for the semester today. Hope they are ready....going to be a long day for them. Then they get to take more tomorrow, but are done very early.

I actually slept today to a decent time. I made it to 6:00. I took a melatonin pill I had from our trip to Europe and it seemed to help, or at least it convinced my brain that it helped! Placebo or not, I feel very human this morning instead of some night creeping creature with bloodshot eyes and a bad attitude.

I made it to Aldi's yesterday and yet again am so excited that one is coming to our town and I won't have to drive 20 minutes to shop there. So many good things at such cheap prices. I bought two bags of their Christmas blend coffee and it is just as good as the stuff at TFM and way less expensive. Score!

Do need to make a couple of stops today, Library, Target and Schnucks for a few more things.

Happy Thursday!!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

at 4:00 in the morning

Not much goes on at 4:00 in the morning at my house. I made the coffee, let the Dukie dog out, wiped his paws and then played a game on facebook. The paper hasn't been delivered yet and everyone else is still off in the Land of Nod. This is the second morning this week that I've been awake so darn early. I will most likely require a nap later this afternoon, time permitting, or else I will be quite grumpy by early evening.

I managed to get my Christmas cards out to those who sent to me thus far plus a few extras. I need to purchase more stamps, but can accomplish that task at the grocery store today. I also finished, I hope, the rest of the holiday gift shopping. I had the nieces and nephew to buy for yesterday, and was able to complete that mission without too many problems. The parking lot at our mall was a bit treacherous. The pedestrian friendly design leaves a bit to be desired when the weather is cold and the place is busy with cars far out numbering walkers. The roundabout in the center continues to boggle the minds of several shoppers making for some interesting moments as people couldn't quite decide which exit they really wanted. I hope I don't have to return to that shopping mecca until 2010.

My friend Anne continues to improve. Her hubby said in his latest update that she has enough tubes and such attached to her that she reminds him of an old horror movie character, but that her coloring is much improved and her spirits continue to be good. I wrote her a rather lengthy post on her Caring Bridge site. I'm so used to chatting with her via the internet each day, I really miss that connection.

Started a new book by an author I've never heard of before, MLN Hanover, "Unclean Spirits." So far so good.

Well, it is now almost 5:30 and the girls will start to swing into action. I best make my shopping list. The second cup of coffee isn't quite clearing my head and if the fogginess persists, the pantry stocking trip could be an exercise in futility as I will forget half of what I need and buy things that will go unused.

Happy Wednesday!!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

a rash of stuff

Looks like after I pick up the cake for the Library Christmas party and deliver it I will be heading out to shopping central, otherwise known as the mall, to finish what I wasn't able to do yesterday.

Youngest kid was home with some weird rash. Almost looks like Fifth's, but I thought he had it already and you aren't supposed to be able to get it twice. Well, once he wakes up, I will need to check his legs and see what is happening. He feels fine other than a very fine, bumpy rash...who knows, we may be off to the doc today.

But, until I can diagnose and decide, the plan is to hit three stores and be home right after. No dilly dallying allowed. I know what I need to purchase and I know that I need to get out of there quick.

My buddy Kim asked what cookies I make. Well, I make a variety but every year a few are special requests. I make rocky road candy and I make skillet cookies then I make whatever else sounds good. I may make peanut blossoms this year and we are talking about making kieflies too, but only if i can recruit helpers on that project. Too labor intensive for just one Mommy.

Being gone, I haven't done any major baking for the past two holidays. I'm sort of out of the groove. I also need to get those darn cards out! I am dragging my feet on that for the first time ever. I usually have them mailed the day after Thanksgiving and this year I have zero interest in sitting down and doing that. Not quite sure what my problem is, but I need to mail at least a few to family and close friends.

Just a rash of stuff to do, so let's hope the rash on the youngest has subsided so I can get busy.

Monday, December 14, 2009

let the mad rush begin

I do not enjoy shopping at the last minute and the things I need to take care of today will, I hope, avoid that phenomena from happening. I need to pick up things from a variety of stores and really have only two hours to accomplish those tasks. Then I need to hightail it back home so I can prepare 24 maids of honor tarts for the oldest to take to her English class, yep, they are doing a Twelfth night celebration as they are reading Twelfth Night by old Willie S. I wanted to simmer up some wassail for her to take, but she vetoed that idea. So, tarts it is!

The big kids have finals this week, so I hope for them it is a light homework week and more of a study and review week.

The youngest kid will just be on pins and needles until school is finished. I don't imagine they will be doing anything important this week and their Christmas party is Friday afternoon.

I've done zero baking of yet. I really need to clean my house. I did no laundry this weekend unless you count washing the oldest kid's soccer gear twice after just one game! Oh, the mud, the mud, the mud. She was covered from head to toe and that was before the game started. We actually hosed down her cleats and had to prerinse every single item she had on BEFORE we started the washer and I still had to wash them again!!

The latest House of Night book is firmly in my rear view window now. Ugh. It was most definitely a solid 5 on a 10 scale. On the other hand, I picked up Lili St. Crow's latest Dru Anderson book and am LOVING IT. Gosh can that woman write.

Let the mad rush begin, only 11 days until Christmas. It truly is the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.

Friday, December 11, 2009


I returned all the borrowed Harry Dresden books yesterday and heartily wish a new one was on the horizon. Some authors just get better and better with each book and Jim Butcher is one of them. The stories, the characters, the whole thing is just so much fun! On the other hand, I started the latest House of Night book by the mom and daughter writing team of P.C. and Kristin Cast and am less than entertained. Only about a third of the way through and I'm disappointed in the the story, the characters, the writing in general. Oldest kid has read it and agreed, not as good as some of the earlier novels in the series. She did say it gets better towards the end. I sure hope so.

I have quite a bit of work to do today with this laptop. I have two genealogy packets to put together, one for my grandfather and one for a great aunt. I also have a bunch of Friends stuff to resolve, organize and handle. I want to put all that 'to bed' before next week.

Making pizza for supper tonight and that won't involve dialing for delivery. Going to watch the first four episodes from season one of Supernatural with my oldest. The DVD came from Netflix earlier in the week, but we put off enjoying the shows so she could work on The Fountainhead paper from HELL!! I've never read Ayn Rand's tome starting her devotion to Objectivism and after helping the kid with the mechanics of her paper, have no desire to do so.

Soccer, soccer, soccer this weekend. Three games and I hope three wins for the kid. Have some Christmas shopping to do for the nephew and nieces in Florida.

Ho, ho, ho....away we go!!!!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

almost done

I forgot to blog on Wednesday! Yikes. I've been sleeping oddly of late. Twice this week I've over slept and that messes up my whole schedule.

Managed to get most of my to do list finished yesterday, of course, the press release wasn't written. Guess I will need to tackle that today after I get home from the Library. Need some face time with the sorting and store crew.

Today my friend Anne has her surgery. Praying for steady surgeon hands, good nurses and good fortune for her. I just don't know how either of us will cope without her steady emails, facebook posts etc!

Our rainy and balmy weather has blown away and been replaced by frigid temps. Well, frigid for is in the 20's. Brrrrrr.

I finally finished the final Dresden book I had borrowed and plan on returning them today. Up next is the latest from mother-daughter writing duo P.C and Kristin Cast. Yeah!

The week is almost more week of school for the kiddoes and then we can enjoy the final days before the Santa-man arrives.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

the final push

I remember how difficult it was to stay focused the last few weeks of school before Christmas break. I feel sorry for my two oldest kiddoes as they try and finish up papers, projects and take tests plus begin to study for semester exams. Not fun at all.....

That final push, those last few yards to the shore is the hardest thing. Such a good life lesson. Of course, they don't see any of that now, but maybe some day they will. Reaching the realization that when you are almost 'there' it takes only a bit more effort to finish strong. It is also the time when the temptation to quit looms largest. Hubby and I spent a few moments yesterday cheering them on, encouraging them to focus and work hard for the next two weeks.

Quite a bit going on this week. My grandmother is home from rehab and has a slew of accompanying issues. Plus, my friend has surgery. Hoping and praying for the best for both of them.

I worked on the 2010 calender for the Friends of the Library group. It was a bit surreal to type out all those months and begin to add in the events and activities for the upcoming twelve months. If this past year is any indication, those days will fly by.

It is very hard to believe that one year ago we started to make our packing list for our trip to Europe. I can't believe sometimes that we actually were able to take the entire family and go to Germany and France. Even now, those memories make me so incredibly happy and so incredibly proud that we were able to take that trip with our children. It was a stretch and a sacrifice, but one that I would make again in an instant.

The final push towards the end of 2009 is here...and we are all pulling for the shore.

Monday, December 7, 2009


I woke at an ungodly hour and decided that I wasn't getting up, so I wound up falling back asleep and then overslept! On top of that, the girls' alarms didn't go off, or did so and they turned them off and didn't remember doing it. Needless to say, the morning is not off to a leisurely pace.

They made it out of the door on time, whew. I now have to make the coffee and get the paper.

And try to recapture the last two hours!!

I hate when this happens.

Up this week, meeting this morning. Meeting on Wednesday morning. Soccer on Tues/Thurs. Soccer all weekend. Cub Scouts tonight. Plus whatever rolls our way.

Still reading Harry Dresden, but very close to finishing.

Went to the Matthew Kelly program last night at church. Nice program, good music and some food for thought. Even the kids enjoyed it.

Happy Monday....where is that coffee???

Friday, December 4, 2009


First, I can hardly believe today is Friday. This week went so fast, it truly will be Christmas before I know it.

I need to gather my cookie recipes and make my ingredient list after I check the pantry to see what we have on hand. I'm sure I will need an extra bag of flour and maybe sugar. I haven't done a big Christmas cookie bake in two years, so the kids are clamoring for bins and bins of the yummy stuff. Since they have the whole week off before Christmas, at least they will be on hand to eat it all.

I'm steadily moving through the second of my four borrowed Harry Dresden books. Hope to finish that today. Of course my stop at the bookstore yesterday saw me leaving with two more books for my TBR pile. That pile is starting to look a bit tree like! Maybe I should stick an angel on top.

The shopping excursion went off without a problem yesterday and after a quick stop at Costco on Saturday morning, my three kids will be done. Yeah!! I even wrapped what I had already gathered and stuck those boxes under the tree, no name tags on them, my special identification system is in place instead.

When the two oldest arrived home from high school, they were on the floor and wiggling under that tree to see who had what box. HA HA. We all had a good laugh at my trick and all attempts to force the secret out of me were swiftly shut down. Being the Mama is such a good thing!!

And of course they know that the size of the box may not have one thing to do with the size of the gift inside....we are well known for putting tiny gifts in huge boxes and for breaking down big gifts into smaller components and wrapping several small boxes. Such Fun.

Happy Friday, Happy Weekend.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

it is the little things

Had a lovely time at our meeting yesterday. The poinsettias the new board gave the exiting officers were well received and our retiring president gave lovely gift bags full of coffee, candy and small homemade spice bread to her stalwart crew of volunteer managers.

I came home and made a cup of tea and enjoyed too many slices of the bread. Luckily the youngest arrived home in time to finish the loaf off.

But the highlight of the day, by far, was being online at just the right time. My brother was just finishing his shift at work and was able to Skype me all the way from around the world. His voice came through perfectly, although the video would pixelate and freeze at odd times. It was so good to chat with him 'face to face' and to know that he will be back 'here' in about 37 days.

I'm off to the mall today to finish the Christmas shopping. We've pared back quite a bit this year, and the few things I have left to purchase won't take much time at all. I'm in the holiday mode now, especially after driving through our amazing Town Square last night and being able to enjoy the lights, garland and ribbon. Enchanting.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

ahhhh fudge

Once it got dark enough outside last night, I stepped onto the front porch to plug in our lights. No lights. Yep. Not one strand came on. I plugged in the garland and our new snowman, they burst into action and looked fabulous. I walked down to make sure the extension cord was still plugged into the first strand. Yes, it was. I shook a few of the strands. No luck. Ahhhhh, fudge.

Bummer!! I called hubby to give him the good news. He worked so hard to string those lights on Monday. Not much we can do about it at night, but guess I will be tinkering with them today if the rain stops. Today I have a Friends meeting, a bit of shopping to do and lunch to enjoy. The next Friends meeting will be my first as the president of the group. I'm excited and scared.

I finished the one Dresden files book I was reading and started the next one. I borrowed four from another library and need to get them finished. Once I do, I think I will jump genres and read something totally different for a while.

My Christmas cards, for the first time in years, are not out yet. I'm usually a get them mailed right after Thanksgiving sort of person. Just wasn't interested this year. I'm using up leftover cards from years past and that may be the problem. I'm sick of those cards! Why did I buy so many of them? Guess my taste has changed in the past four years. I have also decided to really pare down my list. Just doesn't make for an exciting card sending time. This is unlike my buddy's two sisters who I watched making cards by hand...yep, stamping, gluing, embellishing away the day after Thanksgiving. They were each going to make 50 of those cards, and I know I will get one from one of the two sisters. I was amazed by the amount of crafty stuff it takes to make a Christmas card. They are serious card makers, major money was spent on all those stamps, inks, glues, paper etc. My friend and I shook our heads and walked away from the invitation to join them in card crafting. SOOOO not my cup of tea!!

Speaking of tea, I made my Russian spice tea yesterday. Just the thing I will need to soothe my spirits as I tackle the icicle lights, my Christmas cards and to sip on while reading about Harry Dresden's latest adventures.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

deck the halls

The front porch has icicle lights all the way around. The shrubs have lights. The door is framed with lit garland and ribbon. The sled and skates are propped by the door. A new lit snowman has been added to the scene. The tree is up and decorated. The nutcrackers are placed. The ceramic Santas are on the mantel. The tapestries are hung. The greenery is draped and wrapped. My collection of Christmas books are in a basket and ready to be enjoyed.

Boy were we tired by 4:00 yesterday! Yes, we had to say farewell to a few things. Some ornaments and decor just didn't survive the long storage period. But, everything else weathered the long wait just fine.

The Halls are now officially DECKED!!

Now, onto the grocery list for the month and the all important cookie list. So far the family has requested sugar cookies, skillet cookies, rocky road and kieflies. I will probably add a new recipe to the old standbys just to shake things up a bit.

Still reading the Dresden Files books, my TBR pile is maintaining a decent height. Friends meeting tomorrow as we say thank you to the exiting officers and the new team takes the reins. Gulp!!

Happy Tuesday:)