Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Wrap up on my 2013 goals...

I didn't do very well on my list this year.  

The first half was fail after fail.  However, the second half showed more successes.

Among the successes:

We finished the most MAJOR thing on the list...the garage apartment!  YAY!

I managed to finish all the books on my reading challenge...

Opened and contributed to college funds for all of the fab five...

And I am especially proud of myself for completing another year (my third!) of the 52 Letters in 52 Weeks challenge successfully.  As of the end of November, I had 49 letters mailed.  I mailed 30 Christmas cards mid December, with a handwritten note on the back of each.  I think that definitely puts me over 52 for the year.  :)

I love to create the cards, but I used to be just terrible at actually gettting them in the mail.  This challenge is just the incentive I need to get it done, and it gets easier each time I repeat it.  However, I know I would just stop the effort without the accountability of actually doing the challenge, so I will be repeating it in 2014.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Time for some changes...

image credit: vintage image treasury


I gave two-weeks' notice at my job today.  Not without some sadness, because it has really been a great job with the best boss in the world.  However, it has taken a toll on me physically, working long hours with a long commute.  I have gained weight being so sedentary, and being too tired to shop/cook healthily.  I have lost a little of the weight gain since Kasey moved in and has been cooking for us, but I need to have the time and opportunity to work on it.  Exercise?  Fogeddaboutit.  It's dark when I leave in the morning, and dark when I get home at night.  

There are also some other considerations that are still under wraps for the moment.

I am reverting back to my previous on-call status, though I won't be working as much or as regularly as I did before going full time.  I equate the new status to substitute teaching...any branch in the vicinity can call me when they need somebody, and I fill in if I'm able.  That allows for a lot of flexibility (read: few work hours), while still being able to claim a current employer.

It's kind of scary.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Short catch up...

This year it was Chloe that missed out on getting her two front teeth for Christmas.  Last year was her sister's turn.

It has been a very laid-back month, what with all the time off I've had with the shingles and vacation that needed to be used by the end of the year.  Not much to blog about...or rather there is, but I can't really make it public yet...probably tomorrow... 

So instead of writing, I've done some consolidating, and neatening on my blog pages.  I moved all my annual reading lists into one.   Getting ready to do a final update on the 2013 goals.  ugh.

My keyboard is really acting up.  Cursor skipping all around, not fun or easy to type.  I wonder if I should see about getting it serviced.

Feeling antsy.  Making lists. Stocking up on hugs.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

What I'm reading Wednesday...

Whitethorn Woods by Maeve Binchy

I'm not sure, but I may have read this before.  Either that, or she had another similar one.  The book is about a community, and each chapter is told from the viewpoint of a different person.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Not so thrifty thrift stores...

The Non-Consumer Advocate  frequently posts under the title Goodwill, Badwill, Questionable-will which is always very entertaining, and shows the good, the bad, and the butt-ugly things that she finds at Goodwill thrift stores.

Since there is a Goodwill store in the shopping center where my office is located, I periodically pop in.  I'm never so much amused as stunned by the unbelievable prices they put on things. 

Exhibit A: this pretty little green bottle.  Tip to base it was maybe 10 inches high.  $15.99!

Exhibit B:  These little brown bottles used to contain snuff.   I live in Texas...if not THE location of the highest usage of smokeless tobacco per capita, then it is certainly way up there.  In his younger days, my husband dipped this particular brand of snuff.  We had tons of these little the kitchen window with wildflowers in my mother's house where she was sure she would find a good use for the trash (pre-recycling days).  I nearly choked when I saw these priced at $4.99...EACH!  I could have had a nice little nest egg had I been able to sell all the ones that passed through our house for that.

I left empty handed again today.  I just don't understand the business sense of overpricing at thrift stores.  You would think that they would have more turnover if they priced items to sell...they did receive all their merchandise as free donations after all. 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Hi-ho, hi-ho, it's back to work I go...

I'm heading back to work bright and early tomorrow morning.  Still can't really wear shoes, so I'll have to play that by ear.  

While I've been off I've done most of my Christmas shopping online.  I've taken care of some long-procrastinated bookkeeping chores.  I crocheted a set of hot pads with a nod to Hudson Bay.  I've read a lot.  I tried a new cookie recipe.

I've done a tiny bit of decorating, and pointed others toward the boxes of ornaments so they could deck the rest of the hall.

Most importantly, I survived shingles!  :)  I lucked out and had a really, REALLY light case.


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Cherry Shortbreads...

I have been meaning to try these for WAY too long...ever since I first saw Joolz post about them.  They are so pretty!  Joolz says it's a never-fail recipe, and I've seen her post about them several times, so I know they must be a favorite at her house.

Joolz' recipe is here.  I had to do a little web research to convert some of the measurements and ingredients, so I'm not 100% sure I got it exactly like hers, but they look the same, and they taste yummy!  :)

My conversion:
12 Tbsp of softened butter (not margarine!)
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup corn starch
1 cup flour + a bit
candied cherries, halved

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Using an electric mixer, cream butter, vanilla & powdered sugar together until pale and creamy.  Stir in flour and corn starch to make a soft dough.  Add a touch extra flour if you need to.  Put dough in a piping bag, and pipe the cookies onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  Add a cherry to the center, and bake for approximately 12 to 15 minutes until just golden.  Watch that they don't brown too much.  

Since we have a couple of kidlets here that don't like cherries, I made some with cherries and some without.  They melt in your mouth!  I think they will be an oft-baked favorite at our house too!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

What I'm reading Wednesday...

The First Phone Call From Heaven by Mitch Albom

I just this minute finished this book.  It's the first book by Mitch Albom I've read.  It was okay, but I don't think it lives up to his reputation.  I'll have to try one of his non-fiction books one of these days.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Crocheted hot pad...

I used to do a lot of crochet from about my mid teens to mid twenties: a couple of afghans, at least one pillow, some filet crochet to frame, some doilies, a miniature granny-square afghan for a dollhouse (that took as much work and time as a full sized one...Oi!), some baby bonnets and booties, lots of snowflakes and other Christmas ornaments...I even designed a toy and submitted the pattern and sample to a national company's contest and won an honorable mention.  Eventually other interests and responsibilities took priority.

This hot pad pattern from Miss Abigail's Hope Chest caught my eye the other day.  After cooking Thanksgiving dinner last week, I remembered that the hot pads I have just don't suit me.  Some are too stiff, one has a clunky wooden ring that it's supposed to hang from, one has a funny filling.  Basically I have only one that I like.  It is terry cloth, I have had it for decades, and my daughter makes fun of how ragged it is, but I've never been able to find another to replace it adequately.  

My mother had knit me several hot pads once, but she used an acrylic yarn, and they were only one thickness, so they didn't really block heat adequately.  So when I saw this crochet pattern that called for 100% cotton yarn and would be denser than a single thickness, I thought I would give it a try.

The technique all came right back to me.  This made up beautifully.  It stays very square, and it is VERY dense.  I have stretched and prodded, and I could not ever see space through the stitches.  I would say that once you get the hang of the pattern, it is a very simple pattern.  By that, I don't mean that it is exactly easy.  I found starting each row a little difficult, and had to hold my work at funny angles.   And I tend to work with a pretty tight tension, so I found the denseness difficult to work through at times.  My thumb is even a little tender from holding the crochet hook.  Perhaps I need to relax a little.  :)
        edit:  looser tension worked great...I'm on my fifth one!

I do look forward to using this new hot pad, and I hope that maybe it will become a favorite.  I have even started a second one in another color.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The mother of invention...

Necessity may be the mother of invention, but PAIN must be the mother of action.  Here's my story in pictures.

12/05/13 = $$$ for overnight delivery

And she's mobile again!  

Not venturing out and about, but at least I can now maneuver around the house much more easily and comfortably.

Shingle shoes...very-expensive cheapy flipflops...but they're now special orthotics, don't you know!  :)

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Shingle bells, shingle bells...

So the shingles outbreak on my foot is keeping me pretty much immobilized, but other than that I'm not feeling too bad.  However, I think I will have to get busy doing my Christmas shopping online this year.  So far all I have accomplished is signing up for Amazon Prime for the free two-day shipping (but the free unlimited streaming of movies/tv shows and borrowing 1 Kindle book a month is nice too).  

Good thing I put a Christmas twist on a couple of decorations at work last week, since I won't be back for awhile.  I showed you my Recycled Rudolph before, and here he is in his holiday finery.

And at the suggestion of my co-worker, I turned our spooky Halloween Mice into Christmas Mice.  I guess they have been recycled now too.  :)

What I'm reading Wednesday...

Ordinary Grace: A Novel by William Kent Krueger

Coming-of-age story told by a 13-year-old boy about events in 1961 Minnesota.  Good writing.  Interesting characters.  

Monday, December 2, 2013

Just a spoonful of sugar...

So, it's definitely shingles.  Got in to see the doc this morning, and started the antiviral medication, so I'm sincerely hoping that it will kick in and my case will be a light one.  This is the horsepill three times a day.

I snapped the photos to email to my co-worker.  She has a rather severe aversion to large pills, and I wanted her sympathy.  :)  I put in the small binder clip for comparison, because I knew it would be familiar as we use them in the office all the time.  She gagged and promptly deleted the email.

The large size doesn't bother me in the least...another thing that I thank my sweet Aunt Ruth for.  We didn't take much medicine around our house, so when I was visiting her and would see how many pills she had to take (oh how she suffered with arthritis), I was amazed.  I asked her about it one time, and she said it was easier to take them all at the same time then one at a time, and proceeded to show me...pop...gulp...gone.  She made it look so easy that I thought that was the norm, and never blink an eye over just one big one.  Heck, I take five in varying sizes every night...pop...gulp...gone!  :)

My co-worker insists that her throat is too small to do this.  Or maybe that her tonsils are too big.  And that very well could be, I suppose.  I have no tonsils...not due to surgical means, mind you.  I told you, no medicine (or doctors) at our house growing up.  I was once told that if I was sure they hadn't been removed, then they must have ruptured due to severe infection at some point, and healed into the weird little stumpy things that remain.  Yep, that sounds about right.  If it doesn't kill you, it makes you stronger.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

A picnic it ain't...

Doesn't this photo I took on a Sunday drive today look drab and dreary?  This is the extent of our Autumn colors...brown...blah.  Matches my mood.  I haven't been feeling great...not super awful or anything...just... 

The sole of my left foot has been hurting.  I was afraid maybe I was getting a cyst or something.  I had Carey look at it Thursday, and he couldn't see anything.  I had him look at it today, and he said it is a circle of raised bumps.  Uh-oh.  Google search images.  Hmmm.  It does look somewhat like early shingles rash.

Camping out on doctor's doorstep bright and early tomorrow morning.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Friday's to-do list...


Med center for port flush...check.

Thanksgiving dinner menu and grocery list...check

Major grocery shop...check.

Beef stew in slow cooker...check.

Movie 'date' for one...check.

Pick up glasses for Diego...check.

Bake quadruple recipe of cornbread to have with stew and to make dressing on Thanksgiving...check.

Dinner with the family...check.

Roasted marshmallows in the fireplace...check.


Little girls to slumber with...check.

Full and satisfying day...check.

About Time...

Caroline recommended this movie a few months ago.  I tucked that away, as it hadn't yet released in the U.S.  When it was released here a few weeks ago, I didn't get around to going right away.  It has had a lot of mixed reviews, and I was afraid it was going to get pulled from theaters if I waited too long, so I went by myself this afternoon.  Thank goodness I went alone, because I would have embarrassed myself if I was with anyone.  I cried like a baby.

I loved this movie.  I feel sure it will be one of those that I will not be able to pass by when I see it on the satellite guide.  The characters were lovable, and the actors playing them were great.  It wasn't perfect...there were a few things that made me go, huh?  But overall, it was a great message and love story...and the love between father and son was as compelling as the love between boy an girl.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

What I'm reading Wednesday...

Cutting For Stone by Abraham Verghese

This is the last of my 2013 Reading Challenge books (not including the alternates).  I put it off till the very end, thinking that I would hate it and not get through it.  But I am pleasantly surprised to be totally engrossed in it.  It may be the best of all the Challenge selections.  

Monday, November 18, 2013

Moody Monday...

...getting in the mood for the holidays, that is.  On my way home tonight, this Chick-fil-A was all decked out.  Check out the giant inflatable Rudolph on the roof!  

Speaking of Rudolph, here's a Recycled Rudolph that I whipped up the other day.  I'll be adding some geegaws to make him even Christmas-y-er soon.

And something tells me I need to add 'a new watch' to my Christmas letter to Santa.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Today is Tuesday...

...and I am sending a thank you card for a great weekend.  My poor sister-in-law was contending with a couple of pretty serious maladies, a frozen shoulder and shingles, and still wanted to host seven houseguests!

I wonder if she will make the connection that the little house card opens (as for guests) and has shingles.  :)

It is a blustery day here. Soup weather is here at last!  

Friday, November 8, 2013

Freaky Friday...

We are off to visit the in-laws.  On the way, Carey wants to stop to eat. He picks this place...a breakfast-all-day chain.  Never been my thing.  I think they are over-priced dens of crummy food.  But there wasn't a lot of choices in Podunkville.  So we waited (and waited and waited) to be seated. First clue.

Waiter was very a big-dumb-slobbery puppy sort of way. A bit overly chatty. Kept asking if everything tasted okay. Like...those hotcakes tasting okay? How 'bout the eggs, they tasting okay? That burger tasting okay? And the fries...the fries taste okay too? (And this was all asked in just one of his many trips to our table.  I mean we were eating it, so...  Second clue.

Now here's the kicker. He made the round of the dining room to tell each of his tables that he was on his way to the restroom, so if we needed anything one of the other servers would be happy to help us, because he was on his way to use the restroom.  (His repetition, not mine.)  Picture a sparsely populated dining room...announcement made at each table...each time heard by the entire room.  I kinda wanted to ask just how long he was planning on being in there.  He left the dining room followed by quiet, unbelieving chuckles. Third clue.

Somebody tryin' to tell me, loosen up, girl.  It's gonna be a goofy day.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

What I'm reading Wednesday...

Possession by A. S. Byatt

This one is rough going...scholars researching Victorian poets...pah.    I seem to be getting into the rhythm of it now.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Today is Tuesday...

...and I am watching Gone With the Wind.  Again.  It's intermission.  It's 11:00 p.m.  I have to work tomorrow.  

I guess it will end the same way it always does, so I might as well call it a night.



Monday, November 4, 2013

Making it Monday...

Nothing like starting out a Monday morning with your computer system down.  

Update: 11:58 and still down.  Waiting on tech support, and I forgot my lunch this morning.

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