Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve

The long awaited day is here....Christmas Eve.  I believe we are ready for the festivities to begin. I've enjoyed a lovely week of baking, spending time with the kids and relishing in a slower pace. We attended hubby's office carry in lunch yesterday and enjoyed good food and good conversation. Today everyone is home and we will have our traditional meal before attending Mass tonight. The gifts are ready to be opened. The food is purchases and ready to be cooked. The camera is ready for its work. We are as prepared as we can possibly be!

I did manage to read another book this week. I snapped up Lili St. Crow's third Strange Angels novel, "Jealousy" and plowed through it. The oldest is now set to read it.  St. Crow is awesome as always. Gosh, can that woman write one mean story. Up next is "Beautiful Darkness" the second book from the duo of  Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. I had the pleasure of meeting these two gals when the visited our library last year. Fun ladies and great presenters. The book starts off quickly and given more time, I'd be tearing through this one at a fast clip also.

I returned and then checked back out the Judith Rock novel, "Rhetoric of Death" and plan on reading it next weekend after our company departs. We are looking forward to my brother and his family visiting for a few days.

Merry Christmas to all!  May Love fill your hearts all year long and may tonight and tomorrow remind us all how important Love is.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

let the countdown begin

We had a very busy and productive day yesterday for the very first week day of Christmas break. The kids cleaned the house for me, I did the laundry, and we made another batch of Christmas cookies. Success!!

I'm off to the library this morning with the middle kid in tow to stock the bookstore. It has been doing great business the last several days and I've been told it has some 'holes' on the shelves. Well, we can take care of that in short order. Then we will reward ourselves with some Starbucks and then off to the grocery store we will go to get some things we need for the next several days.

I. Have. A. Plan.

I began reading "The Rhetoric of Death" but it is due back at the library now, so I have to return it unfinished. I will need to check it out again as I'm enjoying the story. Another amateur sleuth mystery, but this time set in Paris in the 1600's. to do what needs doing.  Posting may be sporadic over the next two weeks as I enjoy a more relaxed routine.

Friday, December 17, 2010

jingle bells

Just a few hours and the kids will officially be on Christmas break. Yeah! They are very excited, which makes me excited. The girls seem to be surviving their finals and the boy has parties all day today in middle school. No big tests to study for in his world.....yet.

I have a couple of errands to run this morning and some groceries to purchase. We have a weekend of baking planned and not much else scheduled.

All is well.....I hear the bells jingling off in the distance....Christmas time is coming!!!!!

Happy Friday.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


I stayed home all day yesterday and loved every minute of it. I think I'm turning into a hermit. It was so nice not to have to rush somewhere, squeeze things in and watch the clock. I made a delicious pot of vegetable beef soup. I baked a really yummy winter spice cake. The Christmas music was on and the good smells of cooking food filled the house. The dog was snoring away in his comfy chair. It was pure bliss. It will be the last quiet day like that until the New Year.

Today won't be so laid back. I have several appointments to keep and the evening concludes with the youngest kid's first ever band concert. Sixth grade band concerts are interesting events. The bad notes, squeaks, squeals and snorts make for some rough moments, but the progress you can hear when the Spring concert rolls around makes this winter time endeavor worthwhile.

My homebody self will be put away as we enter into the three weeks of holiday frenzy. I will bring her back out in January.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

baking up an event

I've decided to do some big holiday baking this year. When we traveled two years in a row, to Indiana one year and to Europe the next, I didn't do much baking. I think I might have made two holiday favorites and that is it. I did a little more last year, but with visiting my folks after Christmas, I curtailed the cooking then as well. I knew my mom would have plenty of yummy treats and by the time we got home, I'd be ready to scale back on the fun food consumption.

This year we are keeping our happy bums at home and I'm baking/cooking up a storm. Made some fudge yesterday. Think I will try some Dickens Christmas cakes today. A slew of other yummy treats are also scheduled to be made once the kiddoes are finished with exams. Skillet cookies. Apricot cookies. Cutout cookies. Kieflies. The list goes on and on.

I enjoy making these holiday treats when I have the time to enjoy the process. Like many things in life, doing something is often more fun when you aren't on a major timetable or have to rush through it. The activity moves from being a chore to being an event. 

I like events. I don't like chores. So, we will be baking up an event starting on Saturday. The ingredients are purchased and ready. The rolling pin is waiting. I've even dug out all of my Christmas CDs and put them in one pile so we can be inspired as we create.

Let the 2010 Baking Event begin!!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

the joy of netflix

Netflix is my guilty pleasure. It streams right to my TV through our Wii system. I also get movies in the mail from them. Yesterday, after I ran more errands than I had planned on running, I sat down to fold laundry and watch a movie called 'Winter's Bone.'  This film won the Grand Jury award at a recent Sundance Festival and was on some movie critic's list last year. I took note of it, added it to my Netflix queue and waited. It was worth the wait. Good flick. Subtle, intense, heartbreaking, interesting. Really well done.

On the other end of the spectrum, we've been watching 30 Rock, from the beginning, episode after episode. Definitely not subtle, but laugh out loud funny. Tina Fey is a genius and when you watch this show, it is pretty darn obvious why it swept the Emmy's year after year.

Not sure what I will watch today, or if I will watch anything, but Happy Tuesday!!

Monday, December 13, 2010

grave goods

I have such a book crush on the Ariana Franklin series featuring medieval lady doctor Adelia Aguilar. I love these books. In the third story, "Grave Goods", Adelia is traveling with her friend Emma and is summoned by Henry II to examine the bones from two skeletons found in a crevasse near Glastonbury. Rumor has it that they might be the bones of Arthur and Guinevere. Henry wants an answer and Adelia is soon wrapped up in not only a mystery involving the legendary king, but also several other unexplained events.

This was book number 96 for me this year. Yeah!! 

Not sure what this week will bring. I have a hair cut scheduled for today. A lunch scheduled for Thursday. A beginning band concert to attend that same day. No soccer for the girls as it is finals week and the coaches took pity on them. Plus, the weather is supposed to be brutally cold here....nightly lows in the teens just isn't normal for this region. Brrrrr.

We watched a good portion of 30 Rock's first season last night via Netflix. Hilarious. Had us all laughing.
So, as we slide into the Christmas holidays.....lots of random things going on. Sounds good to me!

Friday, December 10, 2010

all caught up

I made a to do list at the beginning of the week and I'm happy to say, it is all checked off and I'm caught up. I had a variety of small rather boring housekeeping tasks to accomplish. I'd put them off for months, but finally, as the year is coming to a close, I managed to get them started and finished. Yeah!

It feels good to know that my desk is purged of papers that are no longer needed or wanted. It feels good to know that the check book is balanced, and no I didn't let that go all year, just a few weeks. It feels wonderful to have compiled a fresh list of my wallet contents. The house is relatively clean. The laundry is under control. Bags of old clothes have been donated to Goodwill. Things are in their proper places and in good order.

My dearest friend and I were talking the other day and she said she recently told her husband that they needed to move. Why, he asked. Well, she said she needed the motivation to purge the house. Yep. We all tend to accumulate things, even the most diligently organized person winds up with cupboards that are filled with things that are no longer used or needed. It just happens.  We talked about "Toss it Tuesday" and "Throw Away Thursday". That is a concept a friend from high school uses to keep her home under control. One drawer, one closet, one bin at a time.  Slow and steady. A constant vigil.

I need to tackle two cupboards today as the plastic cups and containers that find their way there have seem to multiplied to the point where they spill out if the doors aren't properly closed. Into the recycle bin they will go. I have no need for 24 Booya's cups and 18 lunchmeat containers. Nope.

Next week is the mad dash to the end of the semester for the girls. The boy has an easier time, one speech to deliver and then party time for him.  I have a lunch scheduled with the library director. It will be what it will be. Then we will be on holiday and begin the Christmas baking. I'm looking forward to that and am going to coerce the kids into helping.

It is good to have a plan. It is even better to see the plan fall into place.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

wrapping it up

I'm a sucker for pretty paper, nice bows and beautiful gift tags. Heck, I'm a sucker for pretty boxes, packages, gift bags etc.  Those folks who work to make containers look good...I'm their audience. Sometimes it doesn't matter what is inside the package. How the package looks is what is most important. Crazy, right? 

I bought the most gorgeous wrapping paper last year for this Christmas. It is a beautiful cranberry red with white snowflakes and elegant black script. Simple, classic, so pretty.  I also bought red, black and white ribbon to use.  I've wrapped all the kid's presents thus far and haven't tagged one of them. I've color coded the ribbon so I know which gift goes to which kid.  It is our most recent holiday game.  The presents look stunning under the tree. Love it.

Today I will finish shopping for them as well as for my two nieces and nephew. Very fun stuff indeed.  More presents to wrap and make pretty.

The latest read, as I wrap up this year's books, is "Ghost in Trouble". This is the third Bailey Ruth Raeburn book by Carolyn Hart. Bailey Ruth is at it again, helping to solve another murder in her beloved Adelaide, Texas. Hart is an accomplished and experienced writer.....comfort food for the mind. I enjoyed the story.

Up next is another  mystery, but this is a more historical piece, and I think it might be a debut book.

Happy Thursday.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

yippy skippy

My to do list has now been all crossed off. Yeah!!  I have a few things to do tomorrow, but today will be an 'at home' day as I have a few small things to do as well as finish the book I'm reading and make a big pot of chicken and dumplings for supper tonight.

My current book is the latest Bailey Ruth story from Carolyn Hart. Bailey Ruth is a ghost, or as she puts it, a heavenly emissary.  She is sent earthside by the Dept. of Good Intentions to help solve mysteries.  My friend, Anne, suggested these books to me, and I've enjoyed them. I'm going to miss chatting about this latest adventure with her. In fact, Anne would be a great heavenly emissary and I'm sure she'd be a great candidate for the Dept. of Good Intentions.

I got an email and a phone call from B&N yesterday. The big book order for the Anne Babin Book Club in a Bag program is on its way. I really hope we can make a go of this endeavor. Once the library gives me the green light to go public, I am going to put a huge effort into this. Huge. Whatever it takes. 

Off to enjoy the, a book, maybe a movie and a closet or two to bring under control.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

the art of making lists

Apparently I'm not alone when it comes to list making. I posted a comment on facebook about the simple joy I feel when I am able to cross a line item off my to do list. Ahhh. That sweet feeling of accomplishment. Nothing like it. Several of my friends agreed as they are list makers too.

A long time ago, Franklin planners used to be all the rage. Folks would go out and buy a special calendar book and then try to prioritize their day and their to do list with an ABC ranking system. Don't know what sort of business Franklin is doing this days. I'd imagine that the smart phone technology has put a major crimp in their business, but perhaps they've developed a Franklin app, and all is well in their world.

I never used the Franklin system, even though one of the banks I worked for at the time of its heyday offered a seminar on the concept.  I just stuck with plain notebook paper, a pencil and a plan.

You write down the stuff you need to do. Then you go and get it done. Cross the items off the list. Enjoy the feeling of satisfaction. Start it all over again as needed.

Now, granted, not every day needs a to do list. But, there is something very tangible about writing down what you need to accomplish and seeing those words stare back up at you from the paper. I feel more accountable when I have a list in hand.

My list yesterday had only two things left on it by the time my girls arrived home from high school. I should finish those two things today along with a few other things I need to do. And if all goes well, I can sit down and enjoy a cuppa tea, a cookie and a bit more of the latest Carolyn Hart mystery later today.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Serpent's Tale

I read the second book in the Ariana Frankling medieval mystery series over the weekend. It was every bit as good as the first one. Yay. One of the things I need to do today is put holds on books 3 and 4 and have them sent from our neighboring library. This story featured Queen Eleanor, and while I didn't particularly care for her personality in this novel, it was fun to see the author's take on one of my favorite queens.

Now a mother, Adelia is happy living in the Fens and is somewhat content being away from her lover, Rowley Picot, the current Bishop of St. Albans.  He is sent to summon her to yet another convent to investigate yet another murder, but this time it is the 'fair' Rosemund, Henry II's mistress.  She's been poisoned and all attempts made to make it look like this deed was done at Eleanor's behest.  But, all is not as it seems, and as winter sets in and the Thames freezes, the action heats up and the bodies pile up.

Good stuff.

On another note, I'm anxious to get a recipe for potato leek soup. We attended the Advent Lessons and Carols program last night at church and the soup supper afterwards. Another mom I know, made the soup from a recipe shared by the new associate priest, who happens to be a trained chef. It was delicious...even the kids loved it. Cream. White Wine. Potatoes, Leeks. What is not to love??

Okay off to begin a very busy week. I have a lot to do and am determined to accomplish a lot. Happy Monday.

Friday, December 3, 2010

100 books this year

I'm closing in fast on my goal of reading 100 books this year! The Anne Rice book is number 94. Yeah.  I've tried to read a  variety of genres and next year on one of the facebook pages I enjoy, a different genre a month will be a new goal for the participants. Sounds like a good plan to me.

The donations yesterday were marvelous. We have some books that were pulled from the library inventory and are less than six months old. Amazing. For example, we have four copies of the latest Janet Evanovich book to $2.50 each.

I'm going to lunch today with some of the gals, I'm sure we will have a good time. I also have lots of errands to run. I'm putting off cleaning my house as I need to get some cleaning gloves. My fingers, now that we are in drier weather, are starting to crack already. I've tried all sorts of lotion and cream, but keeping them out of water seems to be the first step. So, I have a legit excuse for my dusty house and less than sparkling bathrooms.

Happy Friday!!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

when every word matters or how Anne Rice writes

I picked up the latest Anne Rice book, "Of Love and Evil" at the library yesterday. This is the second title in the Songs of the Seraphim series. I was a bit surprised at the length of the book. Coming in at 177 pages, this is more of a novella than a novel. I've only read about 40 pages thus far and I now understand why the story is so much shorter than most of her other stories. Every word matters. Talk about a lesson in lean, but lush writing. We are talking a master's class in between the covers of this book.

She has packed so much power and insight into such few words. The word choice. The sentence structure. Incredible.  The only thing I can liken it to is dessert. Sometimes you have a dessert and you finish the slice or serving and think....hmmm, I could eat two more of those. Other times the dessert is so rich, dense, complex and heavy that you struggle to eat half of it.

That is this book. I'm going to read this one slowly and savor each and every word.

She is in New York right now doing the news shows, interviews and book signings. I caught her interview on GMA with George Stephanopoulos via a link she provided on her facebook page.  Great interview. Her faith 'journey' is very interesting to me, perhaps because she was kind enough to exchange emails with me several years back when her first Christ the Lord book came out.

Happy Thursday....the weekend is sneaking up on us.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

short and sweet

Lots and lots to do today starting with taking the dog to the vet bright and early. Hoping for a good report there as we've found two 'lumps' on his underbelly and I'm a bit concerned.

Then I have the Friends meeting.


It is going to be a long day.

******UPDATE****** Our dog is okay, just some fatty/tumor deposits and the vet is very sure they are nothing to worry about. No needle biopsy needed at this point. Yeah!!