Thursday, December 31, 2015

Year End Round-Up

Such a quick year! Where did it go?  There were many travels: to the Everglades in February, to San Augustine, Florida in March, to Utah in May, to England in August and twice to Memphis, Tennessee.  Pack, unpack and pack again.  Less travel planned for 2016, but  some very exciting trips---Japan and Cambodia.

Some crocheting, my Halloween throw and 2 gifts for our daughter, a scarf and boot toppers and a Christmas throw that if I don't get too distracted that should be ready by next Christmas, lol.

Puzzles made by me and unmade by Miss Kitty.

And reading, I read more than 160 books this year.  My top ten, in no particular order:

1.  The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaimen

2.  Station Eleven  by Emily St. John Mandel

3.  The Last Samurai by Helen DeWitt

4.  The Sense of An Ending by Julian Barnes

5.  I Know This Much to Be True   by Wally Lamb

6.  Angle of Repose  by Wallace Stegner

7.  Wolf Hall  by Hillary Mantel

8.  Bring Up the Bodies  by Hillary Mantel

9.  Gilead  by Marilynn Robinson

10.  Career of Evil  by Robert Galbraith

We watched few movies this year, the last one was Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation and it was just so-so.  We did enjoy Kingsman a funny British spy movie with Colin Firth and Michael Caine. The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel was a waste and we couldn't finish either Guardians of the Galaxy or Spy.
We will start the new year with the Sherlock special, so glad we get it at the same time as England and don't have to wait.  No Downton Abbey, I gave up on it before the end of last season.
TV wise we've worked our way through most of The Big Bang Series, got a Roku stick and started watching Acorn TV.  We love the Detectorists and  QI.  Also discovered Would I Lie to You?when we were in England and we've been watching DVDs of that.

I'm making no resolutions, just enjoying each day.  Happy New Year to all of you.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Lazy Week

The week between Christmas and New Year's is always a slow, easy week.  Time for reflection, planning, a bit of cleaning.
Our daughter is safely back in Japan, with no particular help from United from whom she'd bought her ticket.  As I last reported they cancelled her flight, set it up for her to fly to Washington D.C. and catch a flight with ANA.  Well when we got her to the airport Saturday night they would only book her bags to D.C., this did not bode well, but we'd booked her a room at the Westin and she'd get a night's sleep before the next leg.  Of course she'd have to lug all of her bags around.
Next morning bright and early she was at the ANA counter, of course they had no idea what was going on.  But she was polite, showed them the itinerary from United, they called United and got it straightened out.  Fourteen hours later she was home in Fukuoka.  Bless her heart for making that journey for us, it wouldn't be Christmas without her.
Since then we've frozen the left overs and gone to the commissary to load up on lighter meals.
Today I tackled the room where everyone did their package wrapping.  I got all the bags put up, threw out the unusable ones, threw out the broken candles, put up the glitter and threw out a ton of trash.
In addition I did something sad, I packed up some of my bears, it was time, there are just too many of them and I'm passing them on in hopes they find another home.  They're in bags and I told Mac not to look at them, it would be too sad.
Soon I'll start packing up Christmas itself.  I've ordered a load of plastic boxes and I swear I'm going to be much more organized about this, but not till after New Years.
The sun is shining, the temperature is 83º and I'm ready for winter, please.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas and After

Christmas was wonderful, too much food, lots of gifts and much laughter.  Dinner was roast leg of lamb, roasted potatoes, carrots, brussel sprouts, mushrooms, cranberry sauce, deviled eggs and home made pumpkin pie.  My stomach is still groaning.
So many interesting gifts!!!  Mac made me a carousel, and April made us each a Japanese house.  One full of food for Mac and mine has cats.

In addition Miss Kitty appropriated every basket she could fit herself into.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Good News and Bad News

The bad news is that at 3am this morning our daughter found out that her flight home scheduled for 6:30 am  had been cancelled.   She was able to reschedule  her flight which was good news.  The bad news is that she'll get home a day late, but the good news is that we get to keep her for one more day.  The bad news is that she'll miss a day of work, but the good news is that when she e-mailed her boss in China he said he totally understood because his flight to Japan had been cancelled and instead of going through Singapore he'd be going through Bangkok and he'd be a day late for work.
But it all works out.  In fact rather than flying United from here to Houston and then on to Tokyo.  She'll now be going from here on United to Washington D.C. and then she'll fly ANA (her favorite airline) and on to Tokyo.
So all in all, not too bad.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas

A very Merry Christmas to all our friends and family, both near and far.  The cookies have been baked (many times), eggs are boiled and waiting to be deviled, the leg of lamb is marinating, the packages are under the tree and there is mulled wine to share tonight.
May the blessings of Christmas find all of you, having our family together is the biggest blessing of all.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Sunday on the River

Sunday was an absolutely beautiful day here and we spent it in Savannah.  Our daughter had asked to go to Huey's for beignets and of course we said yes, it's one of our favorite places.  We also asked a friend to join us to round out the table.
We all had beignets and coffee to start with.  Beignets are a New Orleans treat and are basically fried sweet dough with powdered sugar; they melt in your mouth.
It was a good brunch with eggs and potatoes for most of us, Mac added an andouille sausage, April had a seafood omelette and our friend had Jambalaya.  If you get the hint the Hueys is a Cajun place you'd be right.  All meals were delicious and made for a great brunch.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Five on Friday

A very quick Five on Friday.  The week has gone so quickly and I'm trying to stretch each minute out to have more time with our daughter.

So, First, our daughter April arrived on time Monday night, I cried and she couldn't figure out why.
Right now she is ensconced on the couch armed with a Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato sandwich on toast and a cup of tea.  She said I shouldn't take her picture as she's eating and is wearing no make-up, but I think she looks just fine

Second is this great bear band.  We made a run to a local mall to pick up craft supplies and to Target so she could stock up on items she can't get in Japan.  Plus friends had asked for York Peppermint Patties.  

Third Mac is out in the garage Geppettoing.    That means he's busy making Christmas gifts.  He burned out his drill yesterday, but good old Amazon promises that a new one will be here tomorrow.

Fourth I've been busy cooking.  We had schnitzel as promised, with noodles, there were ribs and potato salad yesterday and there will be leftovers today.  I also baked more cookies as we were running low.

Fifth almost everything I've ordered has shown up, waiting on one more order from Macy's.  It should get here, but if not, she'll get a picture of what it is.

Hope everyone has as good a weekend as I'm going to have.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Christmas Comes This Evening.

She's due to land in Washington D.C. about 3:20 this afternoon and be down here early this evening.  So I've been cleaning, wrapping more presents and counting minutes.  When asked what she'd like to eat she  asked me to make her some pasta salad, it's made and waiting in the refrigerator, and a roast for sandwiches is cooking.  Other things she asked for are sour cream, a large tub awaits her, barbecued ribs, a slab is in the freezer, and bacon.  She can get bacon in Japan, but it's more like Canadian bacon.  She wants good old fashioned American streaky bacon.  Bought 2 packages, one's in the freezer and the other in the cold cut drawer.
I'm trying to plan menus of food that she wouldn't normally get in Japan, though she loves Japanese food.  So we'll be having Schnitzel, Gumbo, Shrimp and Rice, Bacon and Eggs and of course lamb for Christmas, it's waiting in the freezer.
So we'll soon all be fatter and happier.
Time to exercise.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Cat Among

Well, not among the pigeons, but rather the Christmas cacti.  My big cactus has not done well this year and we made the decision to repot it.  We figured that it probably wouldn't bloom after that, but it has put out a few blossoms.  To inspire it Mac gave me an early Christmas present, a new cactus.  It's doing well and the one in the laundry room is getting ready to blossom too.
Finally finished crocheting a small project and if I were not so ADD it would have been done weeks ago.
Beautiful weather, near 80º, not very Christmasy, but rather nice anyway.
Starting to count the hours till our daughter gets here, it's a long way from Japan, bless her for making the journey.
Amy at Love Made My Home wrote about JOY today and I told her that having our daughter come home for Christmas is what brings JOY to us, that's all we need to make our Christmas complete.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Just Some Thoughts on Saturday

A bit of cleaning, a bit of crocheting, a bit of trying to find  a gift I'd lost ( Mac found it in a box I'd put to throw out), a bit piano playing---no I haven't mastered Pachelbel yet--, some exercising, some fighting with the cat who wants to go outside and won't take no for an answer.

I'm unhappy with auto-correct right now, well, I'm never completely happy with it, but it really ticked me off this time.  I tried to send a message to Amy at Love Made My Home telling her I appreciate our bloggy friendship and auto-correct kept changing it to bloody.  It'll probably change it again in this piece too.

I believe I've mentioned that we live in a swamp and as a consequence our house can be damp at times even when it's not raining.  This year has been particularly bad so we broke down and bought a dehumidifier.  It has sucked gallons of water out of our bedroom over the last week or so, amazing.
I thought we might have to run it in the kitchen too, the pantry door was swollen and a bugger to open and shut.  But Mac planed it down and it's better.
I was also having trouble with the salt shaker, the dampness made it clog up.  I tried putting rice in it to absorb some of the moisture, but it didn't help.
Mac was using a wooden toothpick to unclog the holes in the shaker and the toothpick fell in.  Since then the salt has been fine.  How weird is that?
It's a beautiful day here, well up in the 70's and more of the same forecast for tomorrow, hope you're having a good weekend.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Five on Friday

I'm joining in with Amy at Love Made My Home as always.  It's been a busy week decorating so of course that's what my five will be.

First is my tree, it pretty much looks the same every year, the only thing new I add is a new string of lights.  My color theme is red and gold.

This is a close-up of the cardinals made of resin and the gold icicles instead of the shimmery icicles
that your pet, or at least one of ours, might eat.

Second is my kitchen table.  I'm amazed how Miss Kitty walks around it without knocking anything over.  

Third is the table behind the couch.  Note the bag of coal, it could be yours if you've been naughty.

Fourth is my dining room table where no meal has ever been eaten and the wine table.  We don't drink wine, but I do cook with it.

Fifth is the table in the entry way.  I always put a watercolor painting that I did of Santa Claus.

That's my five, it's time to make cookies now.  Have a great weekend.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Time For a Break

Now that I've caught up on the gift wrapping it was time to catch up on the house cleaning.  You'd think it would have had the courtesy to stay clean while I was holed up in one one room working, but no, it all went to pieces, but I've beat it back into submission.  Floors have been swept and swiffered, and actually shine again.
The linens on our daughter's bed have been changed, the bed itself has been polished, the stairs to upstairs have been vacuumed, the bathroom up there has been sorted, now we just need her.  And she'll be in Monday night.  I'm counting hours.
Tomorrow is sugar cookie time, my favorite.  I'm afraid Miss Kitty was not much help with the cleaning, she says that's not her area of expertise.  So she found a puddle of sunshine and napped, not even the vacuum could move her.
Now it's time to go fight with Pachebel, I fear he has defeated me for another year.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Busy, Busy, Busy

The tree is done, the house is decorated, packages have been wrapped, more cookies have been made and the cat says thank you, she was glad to be of service.  Everything has felt very disorganized, the house is a mess and looks woeful.
  Part of the problem was that when I undecorated the house last Christmas nothing was put away in any kind of order.  Found the tree lights, but only one color of ornaments, spent forever looking for the rest of them and found them in some weird place.  So the tree took 2 days to get done.  And then it was finding where everything else was.  Mac says that when we undecorate this year that we need to get rid of some stuff and I agree, as well as packing the rest of it up in a more orderly manner instead of just tossing it into boxes.
The gift wrapping was interesting, for the first 2 hours Miss Kitty lay on my legs flicking a paw at things, then she fell asleep with her head on my leg and I couldn't move, so I wrapped whatever I could reach.  There was a litter of Amazon boxes  around me.  I do 95% of my shopping online, hate crowds, hate malls and you see the same thing in every store.  Today I got the rest of things wrapped, well I say wrapped, most of it was put in Christmas bags I've collected over the years.  Half-way through Mac brought me a tub that had all my ribbons and other finishing touches, so part of the packages are decorated and half aren't.
He carried loads of them down to the tree, oh, didn't I say, the wrapping takes place upstairs.  Each year I swear I'll do it down stairs, but there just isn't any place to do it.  Though I think that if I wrapped things as they came in it would be better.
Then I kicked or threwempty boxes down the stairs.  You know I just thought, maybe we ought to put the Christmas tree upstairs, um.
After that I made more cookies and didn't forget they were in the over, so they're the right color.  While I was doing that I had gingerbread dough chilling in the refrigerator.  Tried to cut out gingerbread men, but they kept falling apart, so we have gingerbread snowmen.  They have a nice round shape, not unlike my own, and know how not to fall apart.
While this was all going on Mac was decorating out front, he made me a snowman and a Santa Claus, put wreaths on the windows and fence and decorated the front porch.  I think we're about ready.
So I'll share the photos of the work Mac has done.
The Lantana should have lost its leaves by now, but hasn't

Mac made a a wooden Santa, he's next to my Narnia lamppost. 

He also made me a snowman to go with my deer.

Looking up the front steps

A closer look at my tin soldier and a small reindeer.


Sunday, December 6, 2015

Why I Shouldn't Multi-Task

Busy Sunday, Skyping with our daughter first thing in the morning (hate the 14 hour time difference). 2 mile walk and finally a cup of coffee, YEAH!
Load of laundry done and out on the line, loaf of bread in the bread maker  and then because Marty at Welcome Words  says we should drag our silver out of their plastic bags and start using them every day, I got my silver out and cleaned it up and started using it.  Mac then took all my brass candlestick holders outside and polished them.
I finished decorating the house and if it ain't covered in red and green it's not because I didn't try.
These were all single tasks and they went without a hitch.
Next it was time to start the Gumbo.  Gumbo takes quite a while  to make so I wanted to get an early start on it.
Making the roux takes forever and while doing that I thought why don't I mix up a bowl of chocolate chip cookies and throw them in the oven, I mean I'll be standing over this stove stirring FOREVER so it'll be no problem keeping an eye on the oven.
Well the first load went without a hitch, but I got distracted with the second go around and almost forgot them completely.  So the first ones are soft and light, the next ones are darker and crispier, not burned, but not quite right either.
I'm definitely a one-track lady.

 The Gumbo though was to die for, the picture isn't fuzzy, that's steam coming off the bowl.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Five on Friday

Missed last week's Five on Friday, we were in Memphis and this one's going to be a bit of a mess.  Mac has dragged down all my Christmas tubs and I have more or less dumped them on the living room floor.  It looks like a Christmas explosion.
But I'm joining in with Amy at Love Made My Home and hoping for the best.

The  First is that we got our family Christmas presents mailed yesterday.  It cost so much I'm assuming they'll be hand delivered by a messenger,  dressed in 24kt. gold, driving a solid gold cadillac.

The Second is that we got our Christmas tree yesterday.  We always get a real one, I love the smell of it in the house.  We use to get huge ones, but as I've shrunk so have my trees.  Miss Kitty and I have been trimming it, but it's still not done, maybe by tomorrow.  I don't use glass ornaments, all of mine are of resin, so it they break at least they don't shatter.  Mac always ties the tree to the wall.  Miss Kitty has never climbed our tree, though she was up the ladder today looking at it longingly, but in the past we've had cats who felt honor bound to climb it, play with the ornaments and nestle in the branches.

The Third   is that most of the Christmas critters have made it out of the closet and are in front of the fireplace.  We almost never have a fire in this one, we only use this room at Christmas time and it's usually too warm for a fire.  But the Christmas critters like it, so that's fine with them.

The Fourth is that all the supplies for making  cookies and gingerbread people have been purchased. I don't make a lot of cookies, Mac calls them fat pills and limits my output.  I've also gotten the ingredients to  make our pumpkin pie; use  to just buy them, but a couple of years ago my inner Martha Stewart talked  me into baking my own.

The Fifth  is that I haven't gotten my Christmas cards made out yet and that's my job for this afternoon.

That's my Five, hope you all have a great weekend.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Wednesday Thoughts

Wrapping Christmas presents for shipping, takes forever. Destroyed one roll of shipping tape; never, never, buy cheap tape, you'll curse it in the end.  As I sat there wrapping random thoughts ran through my head.
Would you believe we had a passenger behind us on one of our flights who used their cell phone during our flight twice?  He did it when the flight attendants had to take their seats.  Were his calls important?  No!  As all the people around him can attest to that, they were boring.  Should have reported him, but hey, it was Thanksgiving, so I didn't.
In August on a flight the lady in front of us asked for 2 blankets, unwrapped them and put them in her purse.  Not much of a LADY and certainly old enough to know better.
Loads of kids on our flights, most really well behaved, God bless their parents.  But on one  flight we had a screamer.  It was so loud and piercing it actually hurt my ears.  I got my MP3 player out and played it as loud as I could and still heard them.
Note to parents, you have a choice about flying, your kids don't, and frequently they don't like it at all.  So ask yourself, "Do I really need to make this trip?" Sometimes we just have to give things up when we become parents.
When we have time between flights we always go to the Delta Clubs at the airport, they're a nice quiet place to pass time.  The one in Memphis was gorgeous!  We had bagels, orange juice and coffee, all complimentary.  The drinks were complimentary too, but it was 7 am, I don't drink in the morning.
Very damp here today and the rain has finally started.  My old back is a moaning, does not appreciate this kind of weather at all, so it has been liberally spread with Ben Gay and I'll sleep with a heating pad this afternoon.  It felt better after I exercised, but sometimes I have to sit down and get some work done and it doesn't like that.
Mac's guitar is due in today, yeah.
And we'll be getting our Christmas tree tomorrow.  We always get a real one, but each year it has gotten smaller and smaller.  Mac has brought my tubs of Christmas decorations down and hopefully I'll get started soon.

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