Saturday, December 31, 2011

the year in review

Of course, my kids and hubby achieved a variety of amazing things this past year, but I'm going to be 'self centered' and focus on the big things that impacted me in 2011 as we edge closer to a new year.

The biggest thing was my return to the paid workforce in April. After a brief and soul numbing stint at a regional bank, I landed a sweet job with a national science nonprofit. Thank goodness for that Big Ten degree, which, according to my boss, sealed the deal. I have perfect hours, a nice office, friendly coworkers and a boss who gets my Yankee humor and can talk basketball with the best of them. I. Lucked. Out. BIG TIME. Being thankful doesn't even begin to cover how I feel.

I wrapped up my two year role as president of the Friends of the Library. As a group, we continued to make money and supported our mission to have the best Library in the region. I've never been happier and so sad to have a 'job' end. It was time to move on, but what a wonderful experience the Friends were for me. And, I can still help them, in my own way, by doing their electronic newsletter and organizing the publicity for the book sales.

Even with my return to the workforce, I still managed to read over 50 books in 2011. No where near my high total of 100 titles, but a respectable number considering my obligations.  And I'm entering the new year with a brand new Nook Tablet, thanks to my sweet hubby.

The year ahead will bring new challenges and adventures; opportunities for growth and learning. But, I'm in a good place as are the kids and hubby. 2011 is almost one for the books and 2012 is itching to roll on into our lives.

Time to begin anew. A new chance to get it, or at least most of it, right!

Monday, December 26, 2011

welcome to the world of the e-reader

Hubby shocked me with a brand new, shiny, spiffy, totally cool Nook Tablet for Christmas. Sooooo excited. Updates on my adventures with this new gadget as we move along. I've already downloaded two free YA books. Very cool. Very grateful.

Happy Boxing Day!!

Friday, December 23, 2011

the never ending to do list

Some to do lists truly never end. I woke yesterday way too early considering I had stayed up keeping and ear and an occasional eye on the dozen teenagers here for the oldest kid's Christmas/Dirty Santa party. I ventured to the dreaded grocery store by 9:00 and was in a total Scrooge like mood by the time I was home at 10:00. Sigh.

I managed to get the laundry under control, although I still have bedding to wash today. I managed to get muffins, coffee cake, dinner, Christmas Eve bread and assorted other things baked, made and put away. I cleaned and organized the fridge so I'd have places for all this stuff. Today I have some white chicken chili to make as well as a queso dip for the hubby's office lunch. I also have the pick up the middle kid from a sleepover/party and get her to the mall to purchase one last item. My reward for that is a trip to B&N as they sent me a lovely 25% off anything coupon....I need to 'save' some money!!

Oh, yes, lots to do and not enough time to do it. Don't we just love the holidays?? I fell asleep last night at 8:30 and woke today at 4:30.

On the bright side...I finished the Sharon Kay Penman book, "Lionheart".  Gosh, nobody does the Angevins like she does. I loved her characterization of Richard. Up next is a Phillipa Gregory novel, another wonderful historical fiction writer. I think the title is "The Lady of the Rivers." I'm being to lazy at the moment to double check that.

This might be my last blog post until after Christmas and our house guests depart....and in that event, I wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

the elves, day three

Socks. Yep.  I always give them socks in their little Christmas joke with them. This year, I didn't like the selection of holiday themed socks at Target, so I opted for some really soft pastel knee highs for the girls and a nice pair of dress socks for the boy.  He usually manages, at least  two out of four Sundays, to come down for church with a nice pair of pants, a nice shirt and white athletic socks on his feet. I hope that adding one more pair of dark colored dress socks will even the odds a bit. Boys!

Work is going to go slow today. We have cleared our plates of the bulk of the work we wanted to do and are down to fine tuning, which, can move along at a snail's pace. I'm so sick of anurans (frogs), their habitats, distribution, calls, photos etc that I can hardly stand to open the authoring software we are using to convert this course's content. My boss is right along with me in the "NO MORE FREAKING FROGS" boat. Ha ha.

But yesterday was okay, and I learned something too, which is always a bonus. My friends over in the Communications Dept were enjoying some Dunkin Donuts and offered me one. I selected a classic glazed donut and was not impressed. Either I remember DDs to be better than they ever were, or they've changed their recipe. I'd rather not waste the calories on another one of their pastries. But, donut quality aside, it was fun to be included.....I'm a lone wolf at work as we are a department of two and half of us works in Wisconsin.

But, today is my Friday....and I'm looking forward to 5 days off. I may blog, I may not, so just in case, here's wishing you a very Merry Christmas full of peace, joy and love.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

the elves, day two

So, I'm a sucker for holiday packaging. I love to wrap boxes and put beautiful ribbon on them. I very seldom use gift bags.....yes, I'm a packaging snob.  I know the paper and the ribbon winds up in the trash, but for me, the LOOK of the gift provides a certain thrill. My main wrapping paper this year came from Hobby Lobby. It is a nice quality paper, complete with cutting guidelines on the reverse side. I chose a red background with white snowflakes. Lovely. Looks great with red, white or even green ribbon. I opted for curling ribbon this year as I had plenty of black fabric ribbon from last year. I do need to replenish my plaid wire edged and red or white tulle ribbon this week.

See. It is sort of an addiction. Tee Hee!

In other Christmas news....the elves did their work and provided the kids with Limited Edition Christmas Oreos for today. Yum. That minty-chocolatey goodness was difficult to resist, but I managed to get all the cookies into baggies and into the stockings.

The food treats end today and we move on to other 'prezzies' for the kids.

Feeling quite accomplished this morning as I managed to get in and out of the dreaded, hated, grocery store yesterday in just under an hour. It would have been a shorter visit, but I saw one of my kids' favorite teachers and had to stop and chat with her. Her daughter is the same age as my oldest and they played soccer together back in elementary school. She went on to teach the middle kid science and now teaches the youngest kid reading. Fabulous teacher!

I also made a trip to the library to donate some books. I ventured to Chick-fil-a and negotiated a swap on an auction item we purchased (a child's b-day party) for trays of food we can serve at the oldest's Dirty Santa party this week. Booya!  I also ran several other errands and was home by 4:00! I cooked dinner, made cookie dough and then enjoyed an icy, cold Newcastle while playing some mindless game on facebook.

Yep. All in a days work. This Elf is on a roll!!  Enjoy your Tuesday.

Monday, December 19, 2011

the elves arrive today

Day One: two packets of Starbucks hot cocoa mix...the good stuff baby that requires milk, not water, to make. Rich, velvety cocoa with decadent bits of real dark chocolate blended right in.....yummmmmm.

The kids were a hoot yesterday, all three of them excited for the stockings to be visited by the Head Elf in Charge.

I have a three day work week ahead of me. Plus, I need to manage to get everything else done by Friday that needs doing. The kids have lists of chores to do for me. I have grocery lists made out to help keep me on track. Think I' ready. I think I can get it all done.

And if not, well, the world won't end!

Happy Monday.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

christmas in c'ville

I love our town square and at Christmas it is such  a magical place. Our parks department does an incredible job of stringing lights thru the square and transforms the small park into a Christmas scene worthy of any Hallmark card.

Last night the oldest accompanied me to a Mistletoe Mixer that our Main Street association held. It was lovely; great food and good conversation. I even put a bid in on an item in the silent auction. I hope I win, but one of the local radio deejays was also interested in this snowman painting and could have outbid me at the last. I had to leave before the auction closed.

Tonight, hubby and I are headed to another event on the square. It is a dinner to raise funds for the museum they are creating in a restored church at the entrance to the 'downtown' area.  I had planned on taking the other daughter as the hubby was supposed to be out of town for work still. But, he drove home last night! Excited we can attend together

Hope your Christmas gatherings are joyful and fun......ours sure are shaping up to be just that this year!

Oh, and my Library Board Term.......three years!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

the board

So......years ago the Friends had a very able and dynamic representative on our Town Library Board. However, after many years of dedicated service as a Friends officer and a Library Board member, this lovely lady decided to retire.

And we went for almost 3 years without representation on this governing body.

We will now have a voice: mine.

Yep, I applied and was appointed to the Town's Library Board.  This could be a case of out of the frying pan and into the fire......but, I don't think it will be.  Although my first order of business is going to GUILT the other board members into joining the Friends. Not a single one is a member and I seriously doubt they even know what we do each year: like donate thousands of hours and thousands of dollars.

I'm on a mission. Again.  Life is GOOD!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

the elves

Back when my kiddoes were very little, I began to put small items into their stockings on the days leading up to Christmas. Only one item each day and they items were usually inexpensive, practical things. They were always so excited when the 'elves' came early and it gave them something to soothe the excitement as the build up to the Santa-man continued.

The elves have continued to deliver, although now they ask me when the Elf will start bringing gifts! This year it is the Monday before Christmas.

I have my items all sorted by day, each stocking stuffer building up to the ultimate stuffer for Christmas morning. I love finding just the right things for those three stockings.

Along with my coded gift wrapping system, it is one of my favorite Christmas traditions!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas in Nemacolin

As we are having company for Christmas this year, I've been noodling (no pun intended) over what we will be serving those 4-5 days. I like to have the menu planned out...all three meals and snacks. Works better for me and I will not apologize for my OCD nature when it comes to my kitchen, pantry, fridge or freezer!

These thoughts stirred up memories of Christmas food from years gone by. It seems my friend Kim has also been walking down a version of holiday food memory lane too as her blog just began to 'discuss' the same topic.

Writing Space has a great entry on chess pie, one of our favorites as my son adores pie and will request two pies instead of birthday cake.

My food memory for today involves my Grandma H. She lived in the coal country region of Pennsylvania and could bake like no other woman I've ever known. She would fill the top of an entire picnic table with nut rolls, cookies, apricot rolls, poppy seed rolls (we grew up calling them kolach) as well as kieflies and other Eastern-European delicacies. Yum.  I swear I could gain 5 pounds just thinking about those treats.

The only part I hated was when I was sent to the basement to get things to refill the platters upstairs. I hated her was dark and old and creepy. Even as an adult I had a totally irrational fear that the 'bogey-man' lived in the bottom of that house!

I think the only time I felt safe down there was if she was down there with me!

My Grandma H has been gone for several years now, but Christmas in her home was one of the highlights of my childhood. Being with my cousins, a group of my aunts and uncles gathered around her dining room table in her little home, going to midnight Mass all dressed up in a fancy dress, tights and patten leather shoes....fantastic memories. I also have stories, things I've been told that happened when I was so little I don't have a true memory. Like when my Grandfather 'wrestled' Santa for more presents for me!

Christmas in Nemacolin.......I think we probably only spent, at most, 6 of them there, but what wonderful memories I have!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

fond farewells

I conducted my final meeting yesterday as President of our Friends of the Library group. All was well until I began to thank my officers. I got choked up, teary eyed and could hardly speak! I stumbled through and after the meeting was hugged by just about each of the 23 folks in attendance.

The past four years were filled with such good times, lots of hard work, and so many laughs. As bookstore manager then as President, volunteering with this group was never dull!!

But, a chapter has closed and I know I'm leaving the reins in great hands. Time to move on down the road.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

the perfect snow.....a few days early

We have snow this morning. Beautiful white fluffy snow covering everything but the streets and walks. Mother Nature filled my order a few days early as this would be such a treat for Christmas morning. But, we will take what we can get and enjoy the snowflakes while they are falling.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow............

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

books into movies

Just saw where Anne Rice posted that her book, Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt, will be made into a movie. She seems thrilled with the husband and wife team who have adapted the novel into a screenplay and just as excited about the fact that Christopher Columbus is directing it.

I've never gotten over the fact Hollywood cast Tom Cruise as Lestat. Blech. Even though Interview with the Vampire was a much better movie than Queen of the Damned, I thought Stewart Townsend did a wonderful job as Lestat.

The Hunger Games will be coming to the big screen soon and I'm anxious to see how that book translates into a movie. I was pleased with the choice of actress for Katniss.

Books into movies.....I was never a fan until they brought the Harry Potter ones to life on the big screen. It can be done, and it can be done well.

Here's wishing Anne Rice good luck with this transformation!

Monday, December 5, 2011

wasted week

After I blogged last, I headed off for work. Once there, I felt progressively worse, but made it through the day and came home to learn I had a 101.9 fever going. I climbed into bed and stayed there except for a brief foray to the doctor's office ( hubby had to take me) to learn I had caught one very nasty virus. I lost the whole week and the weekend to this bad-boy of a bug. I don't think I've ever been that ill as an adult. Ever.

But, I hope I've turned the corner for good and am able to function at 50% of my normal pace for today. That would be a start. I'm going to work. I don't want to lose any more of my PTO days to illness. I'd much rather take them when I'm healthy and can do something besides sleep.

The middle daughter assembled the tree yesterday and with the help of her sibs, got it decorated. The house is somewhat decked out for Christmas. Hubby did the grocery shopping yesterday. So, all in all, we are in decent shape for the week.

Wednesday is my last Friends meeting as president. Yippee!!  I will be glad to have those duties behind me. Time to move on and all that.

Happy Monday