Last Weekend Wrap-up for 2012

I wasn't going to write a post today, but, I'm sitting here all alone, the house is quiet (for now), it's raining, the Christmas Lights are on, "The Family Stone" is playing, and the baking is done.  So, here we go!

I spent most of the day Friday and Saturday baking and making candy.  I got everything done except for Texas Millionaires and the Eggnog Rum Cake, so I did that on Sunday.  I was very, very pleased with the Mosaic Cookies:

I wish I had made more star cookies, but I chickened out because I wasn't sure if they were really going to turn out.  Definitely a recipe I'll save and use next year...with more cut-outs!
This is what my kitchen looked like for most of the weekend:
Yep, one big mess.  I ran across a recipe for Crinkle Cookies that uses cake mix, so I decided to use a spice mix.  They turned out so nice and fluffy:
Saturday, CH surprised me with a Christmas present:  a new droid phone!  Hooray!!!  I am loving it!

OS came home last night, with 4 kayaks in tow.  He put a picture on Instagram, but I didn't think to have him send it to me.  Trust me...he had 4 of them on the top of his car.  One of the benefits to where he works!  I think someone else was glad he was home:

I couldn't figure out what the white spot on his knees were, until I realized it was Laika's tail!

We had a couple that we met through camping over last night, along with their 3 kids.  CH made apple cobbler in the dutch oven, and they brought over ice cream.  The kids were pretty much glued to the tv...thank you the Family Channel!  The kids are very well behaved, and the daughter absolutely loves dogs, so she stayed occupied!

I'm looking forward to a low-key Christmas Eve.  The pork roast will go in the oven this evening, and I'll get the Eggnog Breakfast Casserole in the refrigerator for tomorrow morning.  Other than that, pretty low-key.

I will be taking a break until around Jan. 4th (Or the 7th.  Or somewhere in between.) to savor this time with the whole family + a girlfriend.
Have a safe, happy holiday season!

Hugs for the Holidays

I've been extremely fortunate this far in my life to not know the grieving process first hand.  Both of my parents, all of my siblings, their spouses, and their children, as well as my own children are still with us.  I do know the day will come when this will not be so.

I ran across the above link through Mrs. 4444.  If you click on the above picture, you will be taken to a blogger who suffered a devastating loss in 2011:  the unexpected loss of her 12 year old son in a drowning accident.  This is her 2nd Christmas without her son, but she said that this will be the first year with the shock worn off.  Her blog post is for anyone who has endured a loss, and she invites those to link up for support.

I spent yesterday baking, but those who have lost loved ones were on my mind the whole time.  CH asked me why I baked so much, and I told him that it was Christmas, and that's what you're suppose to do at Christmas.  But, I realized yesterday that there's an underlying purpose:  I reflect on people who have crossed my path throughout my life, remember those whom I haven't thought about in a long time, and remember those who have lost loved ones.  If you happen to be in the last category, please know that you were thought of.

My wish is for those who are grieving (for the loss of a parent, child, or other family member, a miscarriage, or for difficulty conceiving) to be at peace.
photo credit:  click on picture

Last Friday Fragments of 2012

Mommy's Idea

~  This is my last frag for 2012...I'm taking next week off to enjoy my family.  We'll be with all of the boys...all week long!  Plus a girlfriend.  I won't know how to act with a girl around for so long!

~  The shopping is done, the presents are wrapped.  I even put some under the tree.  I was afraid Laika would tear into them, but she's been an angel. She went over and sniffed them at first, but a firm "NO" was all it took.  She hasn't been around them since then.

~  CH asked me what I wanted for Christmas.  Besides a decent phone (I'm using a "dumb phone" right old droid kicked the bucket over Thanksgiving weekend.), I told him there isn't anything I want.  I'm a "giver" this time of year.  I love baking/making things and giving them away.  I'm perfectly content to sit back and watch the boys open their gifts.  I have all of my boys home for one more Christmas...what else could I want/need?

~  Cut-out cookies:  who makes them?  I have never been able to get mine to turn out right.  Either they get messed up going to the pan or coming out of the pan.  Or, they lose their shape while they're baking (I know...that's when I roll them out too thick.).  I used to make the spritz cookies from Pampered Chef and use the cookie press, but I think the press is broken.  I have enough junk to make on the agenda, so I don't think they'll be missed.

~  It's 7:30 a.m.  I love this time of day.  It's quiet, the sun hasn't come up yet, and I have the tree lights on.  And, I'm the only one up after taking the dogs out.  Very peaceful.

~  I hope everybody has a very Merry Christmas!  Stay safe, and enjoy the season! See you next year!

Busy, Busy, Busy

I'm in the middle of a busy day, and it's only 11:00 in the morning!  I've already taken Pepper to the Vet for her check-up & shots, made a grocery list, and checked coupons.  Now it's off to the store for the last of the  shopping for the boys and then to the grocery store.  After that, it'll be cleaning the house.  I've promised CH that I'll make one more batch of Eggnog Bread with Rum Glaze just for us.  I think I've got the technique down so they come out just about perfect.  I saw a friend last night who said it was really good, so I'm glad it turned out right.  I feel bad that I gave that first batch out.  We ate one mini loaf, and it was still good, it just wasn't as pretty as the others!  I gave out a total of 3 batches (minus the one we ate).  I made one batch with "imitation" rum glaze for those I wasn't sure if they would appreciate the real thing.

Tomorrow the merriment will begin.  I'll probably do the baking tomorrow and the candy making on Saturday.  I turn on the Christmas music and have at it!  On the agenda for tomorrow:
Cake mix Crinkle Cookies (this is a new recipe that I ran across on google+ yesterday)
Mosaic Glazed Sugar Cookies (another recipe I ran across yesterday)
Candy Cane Cookies
Peanut Butter Blossoms
Red Velvet Cookies

And on Saturday:
Peanut Butter Cups
Chocolate Covered Cherries
Texas Millionaires
Peanut Butter fudge
(These were all "Christmas Staples" when I was growing up!)
Slow cooker chocolate Candy (new one...saw it on FoodNetwork with Trisha Yearwood!)
Bourbon Balls
Red Velvet Truffles

Please don't think we'll eat all of it:  I make a plate for my next door neighbor.  She graciously supplies me with pecans...the Texas Millionaires are her favorite!

Hope everybody's preparations are going smoothly!

Last Wednesday Hodgepodge of 2012

Wow.  The last Hodgepodge of the year!  Joyce is taking next week off for family time; I'm sure she's not the only one!

1. How will you spend 'the night before Christmas'?
In the Danish tradition, we always have a late, big dinner.  Even though the boys are grown, they still beg to open at least one present after dinner.  Then, Midnight Mass.

2.  What is one thing you are not?
A snob.

3.  Fudge-are you a fan?  Your favorite flavor?
 I love fudge!  Over Thanksgiving, YS went into this little sweet shop and bought some fudge.  I had a little taste of  amaretto...Delicious!  I can honestly say that I haven't eaten a fudge I didn't like! 

4. Did you attend any craft/vendor fairs in the month of December?  Do you prefer homemade goodies or the more professional stalls? Are you giving any homemade gifts this year?
If there are any in the area, I don't know about them.

5. What's your favorite type of holiday gathering?
The kind where we get together to talk, drink, and eat.  No pressure with gifts.

6.  We're approaching a new year...what's going to be different in 2013?
Well, MS will begin his senior year in college and YS will begin his college career.  It's going to be very quiet around the house.

7. Share a favorite scripture, quote, saying, or song lyric relating to peace.
"Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me."

8.  Insert your own random thought here.
We had  a lockdown drill at school yesterday.  It really, really bothered me.  I sat in my room (I didn't have students at the time) and prayed for Newtown, and thought about what I would do.  I have no cabinets or closets in my room.  I think what would save me is that I'm off by myself, and most people don't know where I am, or that the room is even there.
After one of my sessions, I was walking a group to P.E. (the gym is not attached to the school)  Someone had propped the door open with a book, and then gone to take a walk during a free period.  I took the book out, and suggested to Ms. Principal that we be reminded not to prop the door open.   I'm guilty of propping it open if I have to run out to my car real quick, but it's only for a couple of minutes.  I'd really hesitate to do that now.  The thing that gets me is that the person who did it should know better, plus I had even told her not to do it earlier in the year (or maybe it was last year) because of safety. I don't think she was too happy with me, but...REALLY?

Somber Christmas Post

I had tears in my eyes watching the Kindergarten students recite the Pledge yesterday morning...thinking about how it could've happened anywhere...what would I do in that situation...would I do the right thing...would I lay my own life on the line for students.  It's a scary world, and these innocent children have no business being thrust into it.  One of my coworkers had an excellent post yesterday; she put into words what (I think) most of us are feeling.  You can read it here.
Yesterday wasn't the easiest day for educators.  Here is a note that was sent to Mr. Principal from a parent of a second grader (who is the same age as some of the victims):

I know that you and all of the staff at ______  have a tough job every day, but today must be much more difficult than usual due to the events of last Friday.  As a parent, it sure was tough turning my only child over this morning.  But I want you to know that I trust that you, the staff at ______, and ________ Schools have done and will continue to do everything possible to keep all of the children in a safe environment while they learn.  All of you are in my prayers that you will have the wisdom and courage to do what needs to be done for the safety of the children.  I appreciate you!

And then I think of parents who have lost children way before their time.  Not only the students of Newtown, but children who have passed away due to illness or accidents.  I know parents who are having to endure their first Christmas without their children, and parents who have children who past away 2 or more  years ago.  Does it ever get any easier for them?  I can't even begin to imagine.  Then there are friends whose parents are no longer with them.

As I get older, I  can't help but start thinking about what the holidays will be like when my parents are no longer with us. With both of them being in their 80's, I know that time is coming, ready or not.  Even though we don't spend all holidays with them, I know they are there if we need them.
With 9 siblings, I wonder how the holidays will be. Will we still get together the weekend before Christmas, or will we all just go our separate ways? Thanksgivings have changed since our own families are older and some of our kids have kids of their own. We used to switch between having Thanksgiving & Christmas with our family & our in-laws. Mama was insistent that the grandkids have Christmas in their own house,  and that Santa comes to their own homes,so we would have our Christmas get-together the weekend before the big day. Since she & Daddy moved to Tennessee when they got married and weren't able to go home for Christmas, they were forced to start their own traditions. So, she was a firm believer that we do the same.
The Christmas get-togethers have happened pretty much every year. We've switched the location from my parents' to a sister's, and have switched from exchanging presents to just enjoying each other's company. I would like to think that these will continue, that this legacy that my parents have made will continue to be as strong as it is now.

Partied Out Weekend Wrapup

WHEW!  I'm really glad this week is a short week, because I'm going to need some rest after this weekend!

I have to address the horrific event in Newtown, Connecticut:  As I listened to reports (some wrong, some right), I just kept seeing the faces of the students in my schools.  Those sweet, innocent faces who are getting so excited for Christmas.  What happened there could have happened anywhere.  CH & I talked about the security in my schools.  Even though the doors are locked (except for the front doors), are we really and truly safe?  I can see the glass doors becoming a thing of the past.  School is the one place where kids are suppose to be safe.  The sad reality is that some kids don't feel safe at home, but at school they're suppose to feel safe.  School is a happy place, filled with laughter, learning, and little faces that have amazement and wonder.  One of my sisters asked how they kept the news out of the schools on Friday, and I told her I had no idea anything had happened until a teacher showed me a text she had received from somebody.  The heroes, the teachers, in that school went above and beyond their job description.  They showed that teaching isn't just a's a calling.  It seems very strange that as chaos erupted in that school, the 1st graders in one of my schools was on stage, performing "The Polar Express" for parents.

Friday night, I made 4 miniloaves of these:

 Eggnog Bread with Rum Glaze.  I was a bit worried about how they were going turn out, because the recipe says not to overmix when you mix in the dry ingredients.  It seemed like it was all of a sudden that it overmixed.  You're suppose to "pour" the batter into the pans, but I ended up having to spoon it.  Next time I'll hand mix it (instead of using the mixer) and see if it does better.  Oh...the recipe is here.  And it's good...especially the glaze!

Saturday was a family get-together at my sister's house.  I took her one of the mini-loaves as a 'thank you for hosting' gift.  In one of my posts last week, I asked for some appetizer ideas.  I got a recipe in my email that seemed perfect enough:  Garlic Chicken Puffs.  Chicken, garlic, cream cheese, crescent rolls:  these are a few of my favorite things!
I cheated a little bit and used the Perdue Short Cut Chicken-Southwestern Style, and used my Pampered Chef manual food processor to "shred" the chicken.  Super easy and super good!
I won't bore you with all of the pictures, but here is the hostess with a present from my brother & his wife:
 (She & her husband ride Harleys.)
My sweet niece who just got back from a swim meet (and placed FIRST in one of the events!):
She's growing up way too fast!
And, she made all of the aunts a keychain.  She put in a lot of thought to everybody's; they were all personalized.  Her twin brothers made cookie mix for everybody:

 After we left my sister's, I ran by the store to get a couple more cans of crescent rolls to make more garlic chicken puffs to take to a friend's party.  (They were that good!)  Then, we went to party #2 for the day.  I had never been to the friend's house before.  She is the band booster president and has the kids over all the time.  Their house sits on top of a gigantic hill, and they have this amazing view.  Her house is just amazing.  I really, really wish I had taken my camera, because their main Christmas tree was huge...and beautiful.  I said "main" because I think she had a tree in every room except the bathrooms.  She has 2 girls, and their bedrooms look like princess rooms.
The party was a conglomeration of their friends, neighbors, and band parents.  One of my brothers went to school with a couple of her neighbors, and there were a couple of other band parents there, so we knew a few people.  At one point, CH & I were standing near the kitchen talking, and the hostess whistled (this loud, piercing whistle) and introduced us.  There are no strangers in her house!  It was a good time, I just wish that I had taken my camera.  I asked her daughter how long it took them to get the tree up, and said a few weeks. She said that she & her sister were told they couldn't go anywhere or do anything until the last 2 rows were done, so she said those took a couple of hours.  The tree was that big, y'all!  Her home was so nicely & tastefully decorated.
It was a good day, topped off by a surprise!  (Well, I knew it was coming, but I didn't know when it would be here.)  April at Straight from the Heart had a giveaway a few weeks ago, and I won!  I don't win stuff very often, so it's so exciting when I do!  The bounty was a "May Book".  They sell books, cards, notes, etc.  I was able to choose the design I wanted on the outside, as well as the inside.  You can choose between lines (notebook), agenda, dots, etc.  The books have a sewn binding, you know, like the "old" days!  I chose a book with lines, and this pattern:
(The picture is from their website...I couldn't get a decent picture of it.)
So, you can see why I was excited when I saw this in the mail:
 Last night, CH & I went to a friend's husband's business holiday drop in.    It was at this little place called "The Market".  They sell a lot of local/regional goods, fresh goods, and organic goods.  AND, they have an excellent beer selection.  This was another party with a mixture of people there.  It was a good way to cap off a busy, but wonderful, weekend.
Last Thursday, one of my schools had "Hoops for Heart".  There is a small college in the Rival Town, and some members of their basketball teams come up and help out.  I'm not real sure about the whole details, but I did manage to sneak in for a few minutes and watch the kids getting all rowdy dancing to the music.  The PE teacher shared this picture with me:
That would be me, Ms. Principal, and a teacher (who just happened to go to high school with my youngest brother...small town, small county!).  The little bit of time I was in there was a lot of fun!
Have a Marvelous Monday!

Friday Fragments

Mommy's Idea

~  Does anybody else think it's a bit weird to hear Barry Manilow singing Christmas songs?  Especially since he's Jewish?  Or, maybe he converted.  It still isn't as creepy as hearing Karen Carpenter singing "I'll Be Home for Christmas".

~  As I was wiping down my door handle, one of my 3rd graders asked me if I was "a germaphobia".

~  I've been listening to Christmas music via Songza.  The categories that I've been listening to have "Fairytale of New York" by The Pogues.  Every time I hear that song, I picture the look on Kathy Bates' face when part of the song is played in "P.S., I Love You".  A friend who is married to a Brit said it's a big-time song in Great Britain.

~  This morning, I noticed one of the 3rd grade teachers looking in the mirror.  I stopped and said, "You look beautiful!"  She told me that she didn't put makeup on that morning, and that last time she didn't wear any, one of her students asked her what was on her chin, and she proceeded to explain to him that it was zits/pimples.  He told her she needed to cover it up because it was distracting him.

~  I got this in an email from my sister.  A co-worker passed it to her. Apparently this is going viral:

My mother and I had braved the mall (on a Saturday in December of all days) in hopes of capturing a picture of my 8 month old son, Kiptyn "meeting" Santa. We stood in line for over 30 minutes waiting for our turn. Of course, 5 mins before our turn to meet Santa, Kiptyn fell asleep!! Part of me thought we should just get out of line & avoid wasting anyone else's time that busy Saturday, but as we went to leave Santa gestured us over. I handed Kiptyn to my Mom & grabbed my camera. I was escorted outside of the fenced area in order to snap my own shots. What happened next will be one of my all time favorite memories of Christmas... Santa grabbed his book & slowly laid back into his oversized chair. He then silently motioned for my Mom to lay Kiptyn on his stomach. Kiptyn stirred for a moment and I thought he'd wake for sure. Santa hushed him & Kiptyn's little arms fell into such a peaceful position. After we finished taking pictures we heard a round of applause from the crowd that had gathered around below & above in the rotunda. I just wish this jolly ol' man could know how truly special he is. I can honestly say that I believe in Santa and the magic of the holiday season again. I'd just like for everyone to see how special the Santa at the Boise Towne Square mall really is. Happy Holidays to all!

Christmas Spirit

The Christmas Spirit is all around!  Now that Mother Nature is cooperating a bit, it's starting to feel like Christmas!
This Youtube clip is making the rounds; someone posted it on Facebook the other day.  I was going to look at it real quick; I had no plans to watch the whole thing, but I was mesmerized.  I couldn't turn it off, and, at the end, had tears in my eyes.

Wednesday Hodgepodge

1.  So, when did you last take a walk in the woods? A stroll along the beach? A drive going nowhere in particular in the car? 
Last walk in the woods was on one of our camping trips.

2.  Are you sending Christmas cards this year?  About how many do you send?  Photo card or something more traditional?  How do you display the cards you receive?
I quit sending Christmas cards a long time ago.  When I get cards, I hang them onto the door frame to the living room.

3. What's a word you've heard too much of in the past week?
Flu.  Or Strep.  Or stomach bug.  (oops, that's 2.)

4. December 13th is National Cocoa Day-are you a fan?  Plain or flavored?  Marshmallows or no marshmallows?
That's good to know...I'll have to make sure I have some!  We've started making hot cocoa using steamed milk from my espresso machine.  Pure marshmallows needed.

5. What is something you do to help alleviate the hectic pace of the Christmas season?
Hectic?  Is it hectic?  Gee, I wouldn't know since I haven't even gotten started yet.  

6. Besides jewelry, what's a favorite sparkly-glittery item in your home or closet?
I don't know of anything glittery or sparkly item in my house.  I'm just not a glittery or sparkly kind of person.

7. Share a favorite line or two from any Christmas carol.
Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas
Let your heart be light
From now on our troubles will be out of sight.

Edited @ 7:36 a.m.:  On my way into work, it hit me that it's supposed to be a couple of lines from a CAROL, not just a song!
Joy to the World! The Lord is come.
Let  earth receive her King.
Let every heart prepare Him room!
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and Heaven and nature sing!

8.  Insert your own random thought here.
Since we're all in the Christmas spirit, I saw this commercial for the first time over Thanksgiving weekend.  I think it perfectly captures the anticipation, excitement, and wonderment of Christmas!

Busy Weekend Wrapup

The weekend started off calmly enough:  YS went to a jazz concert with a friend, so it was just CH & me for supper.  After we ate, we watched a Christmas show on tv; I promptly fell asleep and missed most of it.

Saturday morning, I ran to WalMart at 7:00 to get some pantyhose, thinking that it would be the perfect time to go before it got all crazy.  So...I get there, and it's "Shop with a Cop" day.  In case you don't have this in your area:  kids from disadvantaged families pair up with a police officer.  Police Officers from both towns in the county, plus the sheriff's dept. are involved.  The kids are given around $190 to buy things for Christmas.  Some of the kids buy for themselves, and some of them also use the money to buy for parents or siblings.  I couldn't help but over hear the boy who was in line behind me.  He said he couldn't wait to get home to play with his toys, to which the police officer replied that the toys are for Christmas, so after they paid, they were going to get the toys wrapped up for Christmas.  The little boy looked to be about 6 years old, and he didn't quite understand the whole concept.  I think Shop with a Cop is a good thing, but I felt for that child who had just gone shopping for toys, but had to watch as they were wrapped.

Later that morning, we went to the Christmas Parade to see YS.  I have to say:  I'm not a big fan of parades. While we were waiting for the parade to start, we saw this coming down the street:

And, there were 2 more behind him.  We didn't see any takers.
I saw the cutest little girl in her tights and tutu:
Her sister was dressed identically to her.
We saw interesting hats:
When I turned around, I saw this area decorated:
This is the "stage area" for an event called "Slim Fest" that raises money for "Shop with a Cop".  I've never gone because it's held in August, and it's just too hot to be sitting out in a parking lot with a LOT of people.

We saw a really cute float from a pediatric dentist in town...the employees were all dressed as tooth fairies:
The "Friends of the Library" float had someone reading "The Night Before Christmas" while riding down the street:
And, about halfway through the parade came the main event (for us, anyway):  The band.  A few years ago, the organizers of the parade decided to give out awards, and one of them was "Best Band".  3 awards were given, and 3 bands participated.  Since Small Town is the smallest band, guess who got 3rd?  The band directors got  together after that and decided to have 1 big band consisting of the 3 bands who participate.  It was really neat to see 3 of the 4 bands in our county marching as 1, with the different uniforms all mixed in together.

BUT, the neatest thing was seeing YS, along with the 4 drum majors from the other 2 schools, leading the band:
He had to have been hot; the temperature got up to around 70.  He'll possibly have one more official function that he'll direct in; the spring trip.

We had a quick lunch, then got ready for the flute choir concert.  As I said on Friday, the church is GORGEOUS.  It was dedicated in 1913, which is ancient as American Churches go.
The outside of the church (for credit, please click on the picture):
The inside of the worship area is actually quite small, but beautiful:  (I took these pictures)

Sorry for the darkness in the first picture.  In the last picture, the cross is at the Holy Water Font (I think that's what it is, anyway).  I had to google to see if Lutherans have Holy Water, and apparently they do, so that must be what it is!  Anyway, the holy water actually flows down the middle of the cross into the font.  Very cool.
I had a very nice surprise:  sitting in the front row was my brother and his 2 boys.  In the row behind them was his wife, their daughter, a friend of their daughter's, and the friend's little sister.  It was so nice to have a support system there!
After the concert, we stood together for a picture, although one of the members had already left:
You can get a glimpse of the contrabass flute in the back row.  (The picture is compliments of CH!)
Here's a sample of the concert:

At around the 2:11 mark, you can hear me play the lower part.  And again at around 3:25, I have the moving part for a couple of measures.

After the concert, we left and went down the road for CH's company Christmas Party.  There is a couple that we've hung out with the past few times:  she actually graduated from Rival High School, and her dad was the band director there.  AND, her brother did his internship in band at Small Town when I was in high school.  Very nice couple, and she mentioned that she's thought about starting a blog!  Wrong thing to say to me!  I offered to help her get started (so...if you're reading this:  DO IT!).  I know she'll do great if she decides to do it.  It looks like my SIL has decided not to start one, so fingers crossed on this one!

It was actually an early night:  the party was from 4-8, and we ended up leaving around 7:30.  They had a man drawing caricatures there.  Here's ours:

I don't think it looks too much like us, but everybody else seems to think it does.

To wrap this up, CH & I were in the living room when Laika & Pepper went to the window to have a look outside.  At first they were right beside each other, but they moved when I reached for my camera.  This is almost as cute, though:
We're 1 week closer to Christmas.  Now that concerts are over, I need to buckle down and get my list for my candy making/baking ready.  Is anybody else way behind with their preparations?

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