Sunday, December 31, 2006

a very special tradition

For today's journal page, I wrote about the special tradition Ken and I created several years ago. We have an annual journal that we look at only on the 31st of December. We look back at what we thought would happen this year, write about our thoughts on what DID happen (planned and unplanned), and then write about our expectations for the year to come. It's tremendous fun & gives us the chance to really examine our lives!

Prize is in the offing ...

I'm offering up the prize of an acrylic stamp, a flower image, by random drawing to anyone who meets the challenge I've just posted on House of Paper. Check it out, participate, and maybe it'll be you who wins! *smile*

rubbing the sleep from my eyes

I had kind of fitful sleep last night, just couldn't get comfortable, so I was up at 4:00 am, but was able to go back to sleep at 7 for another 3 1/2 hours. I think my body is still kind of confused. I've had breakfast, though, and taken care of my friends' kitty-cats while they're away, and I've managed to get my scrapbooking space in order so I can continue to work on the challenges over at House of Paper. I expect we'll be taking down some decorations & doing a bit of cleaning. Later tonight, we'll write in our annual journal, and somewhere along the line, I'll do my page for my Christmas album!

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Taking Count

I decided to document some tallies from this Christmas, including how many bows wound up on heads, cat and human. *smile* A nice kind of "season in review" page. I expect tomorrow I'll focus more on New Year's ... but for now, this is a nice way for me to round out my Christmas memories!

Cloudy, with no chance of snow

It's supposed to CONTINUE to be warm enough for the next 10 days that snow is a virtual impossibility. I'm bummed. Despite that, I'm going to curl up in my robe & continue working on challenges and hope for inspiration. If it were snowing, I guarantee I'd be inspired. It's almost January, for crying out loud! Where is my snow? I think the people in Denver are hoarding it.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Farewell lovely pine scented giant cat toy

It is time to bid farewell to our tree...and it has managed to survive, despite being sniffed, chewed on, scratched, and possibly (although not to our knowledge) climbed in! So, I documented that portion of "Christmas" today!

Auld Lang Syne Crop is starting

I am so geeked! The challenges have been posted ... but I have to work & then Ken and I are going to take down ornaments tonight. I will try to squeeze in one or two tonight after that, though!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

It doesn't get much better than this

My honey & I sat in the living room this evening, chatting, listening to music on the iPod docking station thingy. Just a great way to relax & connect...and listen to a bizarre mix of music: Weird Al Yankovic, Sarah McLachlan, The Matrix Soundtrack, and Crystal Method. LOL. Life is good.

From the lover of all things chocolate

Only once a year will I forego chocolate in favor of peppermint and sugar cookies. And my decorating style takes a 180 this time of year, too ... usually I prefer more subdued types of decorations in solid, rich colors ... but when December rolls around, the super shiny stuff all comes out! :) The photos are photo-stickers from Pebbles Inc, so I can't take credit for them!


Thing's fully charged, but not fully loaded. Apparently I had more than 2 gigs of music on my computer, which it tried to transfer, unsuccessfully. So, I'm picking-and-choosing, but now have 30 songs I'll take with me to the gym for a spin. *big smile*

Happiness Is...

a stack of brand-new books all just waiting for me to read them! Don't they look super juicy and fun? I am so excited! This is one of the best parts of Christmas for me! I love being able to curl up with a book and just lose myself in the story.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Getting Sleep...

You can tell today was busy, because I have only a single entry in my blog! This has got to be an all time first, folks. And I'd better make sure to make up for it tomorrow. LOL. Part of the reason my day sped by was that I had just enough time to get up, get to the gym, get showered & changed, and get to work! I just now got home. Lots of getting and gotting, I know, but that's what happens when a girl gets 11 hours of sleep! The extra hours have to come from somewhere. I don't feel too bad (other than for the persons glued to my blog...LOL), because my body really needed that sleep & I'd rather be well-rested & resistant to germs than be sick in a few days! That being said, I'm going to try to catch up on a few things tonight & then GET to bed!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Making space for the new stuff

We don't have Boxing Day here in the States...but interestingly enough, I heard not one but TWO commercials today about "As you know, we Brits celebrate Boxing Day, so we're offering you ..." One was for a Bentley dealership & the other was for some high-end boutique type shop. Too funny. In any event, I took the traditions of Boxing Day to heart & decided to use some leftover wrapping paper & focus on how we bring in the new and pass along the old. My handwriting is a bit squirrely, but I really wanted to use that piece of paper & had to figure out how to work around the circle tag & the sticker, so there you have it. *smile*

Boxing Day races past

Here it is, after 5 pm, and I've accomplished only a few items on my to-do list. It took me almost 2 hours to sort & to select photos for printing for this weekend's upcoming online crop over at House of Paper. I meant to get to more stuff, but by the time I had breakfast, dressed, and finished my email, it was time to head out the door! I will hit the gym after dinner ... and after I do my page for today. I've been collecting random scraps of wrapping paper. I decided I wanted to use some on today's page after Ken took it out to recycle and it got picked up at 6 am by the recycling people. I found some wrapping paper in the parking lot of Hobby Lobby ... and garnered some from my friend Chris, when we exchanged gifts today. *smile* Mind you, I haven't fully figured out what I am going to do with the wrapping paper ... but I will have it on my page somehow.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Reflections on Christmas 2006

I decided I wanted to use pictures from today ... but my photo ink cartridge is low enough that the colors are coming out wonky ... including a black & white print! So, rather than see us in hues of yellow and aqua, I decided to print out 2 pics on a transparency. It isn't quite this dark in real life, thank goodness! I thought about doing the page over from scratch, but hey, it's done, and it's now part of my book, no matter how thrilled I am with it. I chose to reflect on what gifts we received & what some of the highlights were, so it's documented for years to come. It's almost midnight here, and my thank-you notes are written & ready to mail tomorrow, the kitchen is cleaned, and the gift wrappings put in the recycling bin, so I'll say "Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!"

A bit of a lull...

I got up at 8:30 and started making cinnamon crumb cake & cleaning up some more from last night, and setting out luncheon stuff so we wouldn't have to worry about it later. Ken woke up at 10 am & we put presents around the tree (we'd both prefer to have them out the night before, but I worry about the cats choking on ribbon & going berserk in the rustling papers), and by the time his parents arrived a little after noon, we had JUST finished opening our gifts & doing a bit of clean up (translation: throwing all of our wrapping paper into a corner). We exchanged gifts with them & snacked & played a Christmas trivia game. We all decided some of the questions were just impossible, so we modified the rules a bit. They had to get going at 3 pm, and I have been cleaning the kitchen and getting dinner stuff ready while Ken naps. Photos will be shared in later posts & I will work on my Christmas journal page tonight! *smile*

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Fine dining

We set an elaborate table, resplen- dent in white, gold, and silver, with a splash of blue. The food turned out wonderfully, all around. Our conversation was meaningful and yet punctuated by laughter. What a delight to be able to connect with my mom-and-dad-in-law on Christmas Eve. We will see them again tomorrow, too!

'Twas the Night Before Christmas...

...and my page is all done! Oh, and pay no attention to that orange-y red color in the upper left hand corner. The shades look fine in daylight -- but somehow it scans as being very orange-red and the waffle paper looks very burgundy red. Go figure. Anyway, I wanted to make use of that giant sticker & my 'Cookies Milk Santa' acrylic piece. Doesn't everyone leave milk and cookies out for Santa? We will!

The table is all set for dinner. I am going to start working on appetizers soon.

Teeny tiny cinnamon apples

Well, they were totally out of cinnamon apple rings at the store, but right next to the empty space, made by the same company, were these tiny apples, soaked in the same cinnamony juice. So we're gonna give those a whirl with the rest of our meal: basil & bacon wrapped pork tenderloin, green beans almondine, rolls, cranberry sauce, pomegranate seeds, cranberry lime punch, ... and Ken's parents are bringing potatoes Anna and a salad. We've also got some nice cheeses & crackers & grapes & almonds to put out for munchies before the meal. It's all coming together. And it's gonna be pretty.

Relaxation, relaxation, relaxation

Had a relaxed breakfast (pancakes & sausage) and put the finishing touches on six pages that were in varying stages of production. You can look here if you want to see them. We need some grapes, cinnamon rings, and lettuce so I will head to the grocery store in a little bit. And probably sneak in an errand for more stocking stuffers. *smile*

Happy Christmas Eve Day, everyone!

I hope that you all are wrapping up preparations (pun totally intended) for your Christmas celebrations and will be able to sit back and relax a bit today. I hope to do some scrapbooking & other fun stuff!

Saturday, December 23, 2006


Create your own friendquiz here

I've been tagged???! This is a first!

A - Available or single: married
B - Best Friend: Jason
C - Cake or Pie: cake, chocolate cake

D - Drink of choice: .....Shh....part of my quiz!
E - Essential Item you use everyday: my contact lenses

F- Favorite Color: Blue
G - Gummy Bears or worms: Bears
H - Hometown: Champaign, IL
I- Indulgence: jewelry
J - January or February: January, because it has a better chance for snow
K - Kids & Names: do cats count?
L - Life is incomplete without: serenity
M - Marriage Date: Aug 2 N - Number of Siblings: 1
O - Oranges or Apples: apples
P - Phobias or Fears: Hm. Hm. Being boring.
Q - Fave Quote: If you cannot be a good example, be a good warning. Something like that.
R - Reason to Smile: I am in love.
S - Season: Shh....part of my quiz
T - Tag three or four people: Karen, Karen, Mandy, Chiara
U - Unknown Fact about Me: I used to DJ in college
V - Vegetable You Don't Like: TOMATOES ARE HORRID
W - Worst Habit: skipping tai chi in the morning X - Xrays: dental only

Y - Your Fave Food: pizza
Z - Zodiac Sign: Gemini

Stockings are hung by the chimney with care ... or propped up on a table, if there's no chimney to spare.

This was fun & brought back memories of making stockings with my mom. I now wish I had my childhood stocking & will have to remember to ask my parents for it so I'll have it for next year. Our glamorous store-bought stockings are lovely ... but just not the same as the red-and-white fake fur ones from days gone by.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Please....don't hate me!

I have been organized for as long as I can remember, and I seem to get better at it all the time. It’s still 3 days until Christmas, and I have nothing left to do to prepare for the holiday. Today’s “to do” list is purely maintenance related stuff: do dishes, pay bills, clean litter box, things like that. I feel the tug to do something extra for the holidays, maybe make some stocking stuffers, but I am at a loss as to what to do. I am rarely frenzied, mind you, but usually I’m just slowly checking things off my list. It feels really weird to have nothing left to check off. I can’t speak about it, either, because I’m surrounded by people who are systematically going insane, tackling lists that are impossibly long. It just seems really weird to feel so relaxed this time of year.

The Chill and The Damp

It's raining outside. I am colossally disappointed. If only it'd get a few degrees colder, we'd have some lovely snow. Instead, I have to put up with this gunk. It certainly dampens the spirit, but I am trying to just accept it for what it is, and move along through my day. Hey ... is that sunshine I see???

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Okay ... I've officially lost it.

I mean we just did Cookie Day! But my friend brought over a whole bunch of sugar cookies, unfrosted, on Sunday, and we already had leftover frosting, so I told her I'd frost them. Now that things have died down a little bit, I figured I'd bust out the frosting and get to work. She had some tiny trees, similar to the ones I frosted on Saturday, snowflakes, ornaments, bells, candy canes, and angels. The trees and ornaments were the most fun to decorate! Speaking of cookies, I've got to go out in the rain to deliver some more.

Down with clutter! Up with festivity!

Today's challenge was to take a picture of our home as it is TODAY ... so I did! And I have to say, I think our space looks pretty damned festive & neat! I despise clutter -- it weighs on me something awful -- so the house is rarely cluttered, but currently, our home is in tip top shape, on the heels of Cookie Day, for which we cleaned and decorated for a couple of days, and it still shows! I don't think I have any photos of our home is decked out for the holidays, so this is a very cool thing for me to document! Thanks, Shimelle!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

I love getting mail!!!!

Oooo! A chance to talk about how much I love getting mail! *smile* And I knew I was tearing off all those postage stamps from the envelopes for a good reason! I used every single one of them on this page, after grabbing the mod podge. It's simple: I love getting holiday cards, letters, and photos!!

Cats learn healthy respect for paper bags...

This is the scene of the crime. While I was downstairs, I heard a fierce rustling coming from the main level of our house. Serendipity had gotten caught in the handles of a large shopping bag & was racing around, trying to escape it. She managed to drag a wicker chair (lower left), knock over a chair (top center), and move the coffee table before I could get up there. In her struggling, she pulled the table covering off, knocking up against the underside of the table hard enough to knock the candle off our wooden trivet! She hissed and spat trying to free herself...if I hadn't been there to tear the paper away, she might have strangled herself! Comet was looking on impassively -- he'd done something similar a couple of years ago, but by getting it caught under his front legs, NOT around his neck. I am very very glad I was home. Sere raced off with one of the handles still around her neck, attached to only a scrap of paper. I think she's learned to respect paper bags now. At least for a while.

Absolutely nothing going on over here...

Comet says "Nothing going on over here. No, absolutely nothing. I know you heard jingle bells and those two ornaments over my head have jingle bells in them, but I've just been sitting right here. Must have been someone else. Not me. No, I'm compleeeeetely innocent. Really. I'm just guarding the tree. Honest! Why don't you believe me?"

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Naughty or Nice??

It's been a long time since I've written Santa. I started off with thanking him for the wonderful gifts over the years & then reflected on what Christmas wishes I'd like for him to make come true! It was fun to think about what would truly be a wonderful Christmas gift this year! I am hoping I made Santa's "nice" list!

Surprise, surprise .. NOT!

You Belong in Winter

Quiet, calm, and totally at peace...
You're happy to be at home, wrapped in a blanket, completely snowed in
Whether you're lighting a fire or having a snowball fight, you always feel best in the winter.

Free to a good home!

Oh, dear. We are in trouble. We've been trying to give away our cookies ... but the pile of cookies seems to stay the same size. I think they are breeding overnight. I think I may need to take out an advertisement in the classified section: Free to a good home! I gave some to our mail carrier, our insurance agent, the folks at the gym (payback's a b*tch, isn't it? *evil grin*), my friend (who came, but needed more pecan bars), my friend's personal trainer (again ... payback!), the veterinarian's office that's in the same spot as the cat shelter, and I have one kind soul (you know who you are), who said she'd adopt some if I mailed them to her in Oregon. They're all packed up & I'll get them to the post office just as fast as I can. Anyone else want some? *grin*


This morning, a chill is in the air, and the conditions are just right for frost! The blades of grass are covered in rime, glittering in the sunlight that will rapidly cause the ice to transform into droplets and then evaporate so quickly, it appears as if the frost has sublimated.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Christmas dinner? What Christmas dinner??

Shimelle prompted us to write about Christmas dinner, which is interesting, because I don't really have much to say on the topic -- it's not a tradition that my family upholds, nor one that Ken's does, either! So, I wrote instead about Christmas Eve meal traditions, and I included some of the "table confetti" from yesterday's celebrations. Let no supply be wasted! :)

I am The Star!

Eleni posted this on her blog, so I had to give it a whirl, too.

You are The Star

Hope, expectation, Bright promises.

The Star is one of the great cards of faith, dreams realised

The Star is a card that looks to the future. It does not predict any immediate or powerful change, but it does predict hope and healing. This card suggests clarity of vision, spiritual insight. And, most importantly, that unexpected help will be coming, with water to quench your thirst, with a guiding light to the future. They might say you're a dreamer, but you're not the only one.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

What's a scrapbooker to do with those scraps?

Remember those paper chains we made as kids, created out of red and green construction paper and lots of paste? Well, this is the same principle, except it's made of a huge assortment of leftover scrapbook paper! I had many "skinny" stripes, varying in length from 6" to 12", and in width from 1" to 2". I got out a small stapler and just started making loop after loop after loop. The thing is about 110 feet long, and I don't expect it to last, so I was very happy to be able to put it outside yesterday, shortly before our guests arrived. It's a mish-mash of color, simple & silly -- and I love it! I hope we don't get heavy rains, at least for a few days, so I can enjoy it. It's extra-pretty with the lights on ... but I haven't been able to capture that picture, yet.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

I'm forever seeing things and thinking of people!

I am tickled pink that I was able to get this page done tonight. In the wake of Cookie Day, my energy is very low & my body is begging for sleep. I tried to keep it simple, with hidden journaling about the gifts I purchased THIS year that I think will be special for the recipients. So, friends and family, the journaling is hidden because I don't want YOU to see it! You all know how I love surprises, so I wouldn't want to ruin yours! I am heading to bed shortly & will see you all on my blog tomorrow! May you all dream of sugar plums ... I know I will!

Cookie Day was (in this hostess's opinion) a raving success!!

Cookie Day is over....and was it ever FUN!!! At least it was for me ... you'll have to ask our guests if they agree! I always feel a bit guilty-slash-frustrated because we have so many people & it's hard for me to balance out time to talk to all of them, plus I'm always running to answer the door or field a question or make some more tea. This year, the Northwest Pecan Treats were the first to go, which was a surprise ... but shhhh *looking around furtively* I have a few more hidden away! We had extras of every cookie we made, so I had stuff ready to restock, but we never had the ROOM. Our long dining room table (something like 108 or 120 inches long) was overflowing, so we put more cookies on my desk downstairs! A big shout-out to all of our attendees: Mike, Kaye & Dave, Julie, Mary Lou & Bob, Heather & Sarah & Bryan, Kim & Seldon, Mom & Dad, Wendy, Todd & Nadeen & Danielle & Elena, Sue & Bob, Mele & Tim, Kim Z, Jeff & Jessie, Barb & Larry, Traudi, Jason & Elizabeth, Janet, Tom, Marilynn, Matt & Eric! How many is that, anyway? THIRTY-FIVE! It's a new Cookie Day record for us, folks! I'm astonished! So, that begs the question .... what are we going to do with the leftovers? Yes, the above pictures shows the CURRENT state of our table...and there's a few ziploc bags & plates that didn't fit on there, plus I still have 3 containers of cookies from our own stash that didn't fit on the table. If you live in the greater Chicagoland area and want cookies, contact me. *smile* If you want me to try to mail cookies to you, send a self-addressed, stamped box ... just kidding! Seriously, if anyone wants cookies, let me know! *grin*


'nuff said. ;)

Warp number 9, Mr. Sulu

We are in high-preparation gear, now. Time to put out all of the supplies, cookies, and related stuff (small tables, etc.)...also have to get the table set & decorated, but that'll be after breakfast. The tree is looking good: no cat damage. So far. I still need to decorate some glasses and scoop the cat box, and get the peppermint bark made. The rest has to wait until after we've all eaten breakfast.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

How much can we fit into 7 hours?

My parents arrived at 3 pm ... and we've spent the last 7 hours doing the following:
(1) picking up supplies at the grocery store
(2) making frosting
(3) chatting in the living room
(4) frosting sugar cookies (see above -- all 4 of us took part!)
(5) cleaning the kitchen
(6) going out for dinner at Las Palmas
(7) roasting chestnuts (no dad brought chestnuts!)
(8) decorating the Christmas tree
(9) storing away boxes now emptied of decorations
(10) putting up miscellaneous decorations
(11) showing my mom & dad the first 16 days of Journal Your Christmas!
(12) listening to holiday music
(13) packing cookies away for tomorrow

I'm tired! Tomorrow we'll make a very nice breakfast, then work on getting everything set up for Cookie Day, which starts at 1 pm. If I don't blog before then, it's because I was busy having fun! :)

Grateful ... and gone!

The list of things for which I am grateful during the Christmas season is long. So, I decided to make my own patterned paper, allow the list to repeat so it'd all be visible even when not interrupted by the cut-out "grateful" and what looks super simple actually took me more than an hour to make! Sheesh! LOL. Time for me to hit the gym, then do a bit more cleaning, by which time my folks will have arrived. You won't see me on the blog again until much later this evening -- I'll be too busy chatting with my parents, frosting cookies, decorating the tree, and suchlike!

Cleaning and Frosting Frenzy

This is the life, at least for a cat. Basking in a brief burst of sunshine, under an interesting smelling climbable object. The vacuum cleaner is coming out, though, so we can get the house spic and span for our guests tomorrow - which means soon the cats will be running for cover. What is it about cats and vacuum cleaners? Does anyone own a cat that doesn't fear them? Our cats also freaked out recently at a vehicle making that backing-up-beeping sound in our driveway. Fat tails and all. Weirdos.

Ken frosted about 15 snowmen and 15 snowflakes last night. We still have the rest of the sugar cookies to frost. He was lamenting our decision to make tiny cookies. I bit my lip to bite back the words. You know what words I mean, don't you?

Sandi: Please contact me to collect your prize!

Sandi was the winner of a drawing to win a copy of my Holiday Music CD! Congratulations! Please email me at latharia at comcast dot net with your snail mail address & I will get this in the mail to you as soon as humanly possible, with hopes you'll have it before Christmas!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Sugar Cookies are born!

Again, we are making teeny tiny cookies -- this time, sugar cookies, in all kinds of lovely shapes and sizes. I think they're just going to have to stay naked for the night. We'll frost them tomorrow ... which will probably take the last "oomph" out of us, as we also have to put ornaments on the tree & clean house for our big party on Sunday. My parents arrive at 3 pm. They are ultra-cool & will pitch in if needed. I am blessed: My parents rock.

The challenge of "white" space!

As per Shimelle's instructions, I've kept today's page uber-simple! It was a challenge to do so! I kept wanting to put things in the "white" space. I settled for a tiny bit of inking & my trademark (for this journal, anyway) vellum tag. I had a lot to write, but I edited it severely just to focus on this single topic, this year, with little reflection on years past:

This year we will spend Christmas with Ken’s parents, who live about 20 minutes away from us. The last 2 years, we’d gotten into a tradition of seeing our families on Cookie Day, then spending Christmas Eve and Christmas Day just the 2 of us,. We had also tried splitting up Christmas celebrations before, on, and after Christmas Day, but it was tiring and not altogether satisfying, so we decided that each year we’d try to consolidate things into one central celebration. This year, Ken said he missed spending time with his family on Christmas; so, we are mixing things up a little bit. Who knows where we’ll spend Christmas 2007!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

What kind of Christmas Tree are you?

Found this on Georgia's blog, so had to try it for myself:
You Are a Cranberry and Popcorn Strung Tree

Christmas is all about showcasing your creative talents.
From cookies to nicely wrapped presents, your unique creations impress everyone.

Twinking Lights & Toberlone Experiments

Tonight, we put lights the star and our lights on our tree. Isn't it just too purty? Tomorrow we'll add a garland and some ornaments and by the end of the day on Saturday, it'll be completely decorated. Tomorrow morning we'll also be able to see if any of the cats have taken a fancy to climbing it. One year our largest cat climbed to the top!

After our lights were merrily twinkling, I started working on the recipe for Toberlone Brownies from Nat, another Journal Your Christmas participant. I think I may be missing an ingredient. I double checked the recipe ... and it turned out awfully thick and lumpy. I waited for them to cool (the smell was so tantalizing, the best solution was to vacate the premises for 3 hours to go watch Casino Royale....Mr. Craig ROWR!!) and tried one when I got home. It crumbled something terrible, tasted rich, but very grainy. I am waiting on Nat's feedback to find out what I may have done wrong. Unfortunately, I have no more baking chocolate or Toblerone to give it another try before Cookie Day. I think I'll still set them out & see if anyone likes them...but they are kinda weird!

My favorite Christmas songs

For today's Christmas Journal page, our assignment was to write about Christmas music. I figure if a picture is worth a thousand words, a CD is worth at least that, so I took the path of least resistance and burned a CD of my favorite songs! I have recently figured out how to make CD labels, so I tried for a rather picturesque one & then used some medieval musical background paper for the page ... then I ransacked all of my embellishments looking for things that doubled as song titles, and well, all of a sudden, there was no room on the page! Good news for you readers, I burned a copy of the CD as well. So, if you are so inclined to receive a copy of my favorite music, including hearing my dad read "Twas The Night Before Christmas" in grand holiday style, post a comment below & mention the word "prize" in your post. I'll draw a winner randomly after midnight tomorrow night!

Multitasking and warm fuzzies.

Half my list is half done. I am trying to actually get some items completed, crossed off, once and for all! No cookies have been made yet ... and although I've got an idea for today's journaling prompt for my Christmas Journal, I have not the time to put it into action. My work has been hampered by frustrating websites, not doing what they claim to do ... and the distractions of trying to get certain things in motion so they can whirr away while other things are attended to. Today is multitasking at its best. If all goes well, everything will get done ... it just doesn't feel like that right now. For you, gentle reader, my thanks for reading my blog. It gives me a warm fuzzy. :)

Is there any other way to do it?

Shimelle's prompt to think about how gifts are distributed was very interesting. I never really thought about it, because I haven't known anyone who didn't do a variation of how we do it. I am looking forward to cruising others' blogs in the next few days to see how their method varies from my own! I went with some different colors today, sparked by the note pad I had on hand when scribbling my thoughts down at work. I thought it looked holiday-ish, so I dressed up the paper with a few dots of glitter, and found a similar looking scrap of snowflake paper in my scrapbox, and away I went. Those tiny strips are the same Pebbles Inc ones that Shimelle has been using. I found that sticker set several weeks ago & just grabbed it...and I am loving it! It is way past my bedtime...and my back is aching from standing for so long rolling out dough and frosting cookies. Good night, all!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

If you're on Weight Watchers or going to Curves ... scroll down further at your own peril!!!

I'll admit it. I am just about ready to drop from exhaus- tion. Ken, my sweetie, came downstairs to help me with the dishes, because my lower back was protesting too much. "It takes a very steady hand..." You remember that from the game Operation, don't you? Well, the same holds true for these incredibly delicate cream wafer cookies. They are flaky & somewhat tempermental, especially when I am trying to spread a layer of buttery frosting to sandwich them together. And folks, the keyword here is butter. These babies have no nutritional value aside from carbohydrates and fat. Lots of both. The wafer part is flour, whipping cream, and butter, dredged in sugar. The filling? Butter and sugar...and food coloring. The food coloring may just be the most nutritious part. I broke one early on, and ate it (test kitchen chefs unite!) and my hands started shaking. It may have been the pure sugar rush (I think these things might kill a diabetic) or the fact they are scarily similar to my beloved saltine cracker-and-frosting delights that I was introduced to at one of my own birthday parties at a young age ... 4 years old or so, I believe. A tender age to be introduced to something so devilishly good. On the flip side, I will never feel bad about eating those cracker & frosting sandwiches, because I just know the saltines have a tenth of the fat of these babies. I can find a bright side to anything. I think I better add an hour to my gym workout tomorrow to make up for that 1.5 cookies I ate.


Well, the tree is certainly a hit with the cats. I think they are enjoying chasing pine needles around on the floor. Every time I walk past the tree, I toe the blanket-treeskirt back into proper position. I do this many times a day. Thank goodness we have an ultra-heavy treestand. We have not yet put the lights on the tree...or any garland. The cats' behavior may change when that happens. I begin to wonder if I should've picked up a glue gun at Hobby Lobby to attach ornaments to the tree. Speaking of which, I had the misfortune of getting in line behind a woman with her shopping cart full of ornaments. She also didn't have her ID to use her credit card, so she ran out to her car while I helped the cashier unload her cart and, one by one, ring up each of her ornaments. She had duplicates of many, but hadn't put them next to one another, so this process took forever. Okay, so it took 12 minutes. Still...that's an awfully long time in my book. To make matters even more interesting, towards the end, she changed her mind on some things & just put them on another (unoccupied) cashier's counter. She explained as she sorted through the ornaments that she'd already selected that they were in the process of moving and their ornaments were packed up. My response was to laugh and say, "I'd just make a bunch of paper chains." Which sparked a whole new idea for me ... if I can pull it off, I'll show it on my blog in days to come! Anyway ... no cookies yet today ... and no Christmas journal entry. Just my workout, lunch with my sweetie, some miscellaneous work out of my way, and this rambling post. Onward, to work, to grocery shopping, to cookies, and to my Christmas journal entry!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


Mmmm.... COOKIE DOUGH!!! I mean, uh, look -- Cookies! *sheepish smile* I can't help it! The cookie dough tastes really good! I don't care if there's raw egg in there or not! Anyway, not only the cookie dough turned out (I only licked the bowl, okay? I didn't even cheat and eat any of the chips!), but the cookies are deliciously festive as well. See the little red and green white chocolate swirls? Christmas chocolate chip cookies! At Cookie Day, our friend Todd traditionally brings chocolate chip cookies. The slice and bake kind, to boot. And they're always the first cookies to disappear off the table. Just goes to show you how much people like something recognizable!

The important things don't really change

Today's journaling prompt, about Christmases past and present (and about how things have changed over the years) got me rummaging around in an old box of cards. This poinsettia card is from the mid-1960's and is addressed to my father in a curlique script (I tucked the envelope behind the card, and used old-style photo corners so it can be lifted out). I made good use of one of the Making Memories definition stickers, purchased when I thought they were just the coolest ever. I now have several sheets that have been neglected, so I used some tea on it to age it a bit ... and voila! My reflections on how the important things for me really haven't changed at all.

Here's the journaling:

For me, the most important elements of Christmas haven’t changed a single bit. As a child, I remember being with loved ones, having a Christmas tree, waking early to see what Santa has brought, and playing Christmas music (on LPs). As an adult, my circle of family and friends has expanded…we are responsible for getting our own tree…Santa still makes a stop at our house every year…and now we listen to Christmas music, on CDs!

Welcome to the 2006 Holiday Edition of Getting to Know Your Friends!

You know the drill. Don't be a scrooge!!!

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate?
Hot chocolate!!!!!!

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree? He wraps them...have people actually had experiences with Santa forgetting to wrap them??

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white
Depends on which strands of lights are operational. :)

4. Do you hang mistletoe? No

5. When do you put your decorations up? Usually they start going up the first week of December

6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)? Cookie Day!

7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child: Making our own Christmas stockings with my mom.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? What truth? I am confused.

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?

10. How do you decorate your Christmas Tree? Fresh cut, real tree with medium sized lights (very important to our marital harmony), some kind of garland, and an assortment of loved ornaments

11. Snow! Love it or Dread it? LOVE IT!

12. Do you know how to ice skate? Skate, yes ... stop, no. My nephew, the hockey goalie, has promised to teach me how to stop.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift? I remember many gifts ... but I couldn't tell you which ones were Christmas and which ones were birthday!

14. What's the most important thing about the Holidays for you? Spending time with the ones I love.

15. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert? Gumdrop cookies.

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition? giving gifts!

17. What tops your tree? a glittery star

18. Which do you prefer giving or receiving? Definitely love the process of selecting & giving gifts, but it is also awesome to receive gifts that are lovingly hand picked!

19. What is your favorite Christmas Song? Carol of the Bells. Oddly, I do not have this on CD or tape!

20. Candy Canes! Yuck or Yum? Yummy, in moderation. Also fun to stick a peppermint stick into an orange and suck the juice out. It works. Really.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Shimelle read my mind!

As we finished locking the tree into the treestand yesterday, I looked down at the floor and said to Ken, "You know, the only part of having a real tree that I don't like? The needles getting everywhere." So, when part of today's journaling directions was to include an element about something we hated, it was actually the first thing that came to mind -- a prompt about Christmas trees AND about something we hated about Christmas? EASY PEASY! Then, it was a matter of hunting down the photo I knew that I had of my elf ornaments...and the adhesive backed plastic envelope I remembered I'd stashed somewhere...and caving into buying a box transparencies. It's quarter to midnight ... and my entry for today is done. And I think it's in my top 3 of my pages thus far! *smile*

Got Milk?

If this doesn't make your mouth water, I don't know what will! We just put the finishing touches on the butterscotch sandwich cookies. The chocolate has to harden a bit more, then we can put them in the freezer to store for this Sunday. Don't they look delicious? It'll probably take an hour or so for them to cool down, during which time I'll be working on my page for Day #11 of my Christmas Journal. I have many ideas in my head ... just have to go see if I have the supplies and the manual dexterity to pull it off.

Edit 12/12/06 12:43 pm. Another cookie that has a request (or more) for the recipe, so here you go, cookie lovers:

Butterscotch Sandwiches
2 1/4 c flour
1 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
3/4 c unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 c brown sugar
1 egg
2 t vanilla
3/4 c toffee bits
10 oz semisweet chocolate
1 1/4 t shortening
1. Heat oven to 375 F.
2. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium sized bowl, set aside. Beat together butter, sugar, egg and vanilla until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in flour mixture until combined. Stir in toffee bits.
3. Roll 2 t dough into a ball and place on ungreased cookie sheet. With flat bottomed glass with bottom dipped in flour, press dough to form a 2" circle. Repeat with remaining dough, spacing cookies 1" apart.
4. Bake in 375 oven 7-10 minutes or until golden and set. Let cool on baking sheet 1 min, then transfer to rack to cool.
5. Melt chocolate and shortening in small saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly. Sandwich together 2 flat sides of cookies, using about 2 t chocolate each. Drizzle outsides if desired. Store airtight at room temperature for 1 week.

Horribly Wrong Weather

No!!! It's all gone horribly wrong! Temper- atures are in the low 40's, it's misty and foggy out ... and the snow is disappearing! *sob* It's supposed to be above freezing, even at NIGHT, for the next week! Oh, this has all gone just horribly pear shaped wrong! I loathe cold drippy rainy weather ... and that is what we'll have tonight and tomorrow. I'd rather have it be 15 below and snowing than raining and in the upper 30's. Somebody, please, send me some cold and some snow!!!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

It's a snap!

The ginger- snaps are fresh out of the oven, and the whole house smells divine. I think I will dream in ginger- snaps tonight, when I sleep. This makes cookie #8 on our list of 14 to have by next Sunday. If we can keep up the pace of making a cookie a day, life will be sweet, indeed. The reality, though, is that we could stop right now and have more than enough for our Cookie Day. So many people contribute their own cookies, we will definitely not be shorthanded. Well, except for that one gingersnap that took a nose dive off the edge of the cooling rack. He'll be missed.

Eat, Drink, and Be Merrye!

We attended a madrigal feast this evening, at the Morton Arboretum. It was so much fun! The performers, from the Ouroborus Theatre Company, did a splendid job. We were serenaded by song, dazzled by dancing, enthralled by theatre, and shocked by swordplay. There was a fun little plotline, involving Will Shakespeare & Edward deVere, and lots of classic Shakesperean lines tossed back and forth. I had to reach into dusty corners of my mind for old information from my Renaissance Culture minor to grasp some of it, but the ol' noggin delivered fairly well, forsooth. It was fun to get dressed up, dine on fine food (including mulled cider - YUM!), and enjoy some spectacular entertainment!


We lucked out again this year with finding The Perfect Tree. Last year, I told Ken we should just start the day off swearing, because that's usually how we wind up by the end. Maybe we'd get it out of our system, so we started cursing earlier in the day, it became quite ridiculous & light-hearted & we went searching for our tree ... and it worked! So, dirty words flying between the two of us, we went to the same tree lot as last year (one that funds a mission trip to Mexico at a local church), with high hopes. They had maybe 15 trees on display -- tall skinny ones like this one:

And lots of short, squat fat ones. You know the type. They look pretty short until you get them home & into the tree stand and then you say: "Holy cow! That tree is TALL!" We have a vaulted ceiling in our living room, so thank goodness, that's not an issue. It has been an issue in the past, in other homes, where the top of the tree hits the ceiling. It's not a pretty sight. I don't know if the same thing holds true for how wide a tree is. Maybe trees always look shorter and skinnier on the tree lot. In any event, we went with a tree that was a bit wider at the base and seemed a bit fuller, to accommodate our masses of ornaments.

So, we tried to fit the trunk of the tree into the trunk of the car, and somehow the angles just didn't work. Hm. So, we wound up lashing it across the back, kind of in and around the trunk. Hey, it worked! And the slightly bumpy ride over the railroad tracks knocked some of the crusty snow off!

Then, it was just a matter of putting water in the tree stand, corralling the cats in a bedroom while we had the front door wide open, and wrestling it inside. We got it locked into the treestand with no incidents, swept up the pine needles and released the cats. Serendipity & Comet were extraordinarily curious ... Isabelle's still sleeping on our bed, lazy animal. The best thing of all ... no swearing at all during the acquisition, transportation, and installation of said tree. :) and...the whole living room smells of pine ... divine!