Friday, December 31, 2010

The End, The Beginning

It's the last day of 2010 - a great time to be thinking about the year - the changes, the fun, and the challenges.  We know where we've been - but what's in store for us?  What will 2011 offer us? The future is a great unknown.  But it's fun to know that whatever happens, we're ready for it.  God has blessed us during our entire lifetime, so I'm confident in His care as I look forward to stepping into 2011. 

Today seemed like a great day to do a bit of cooking, so I made a big pot of bean and ham soup.  The stock pot simmered while I chopped and added all sorts of great things.  I never am satisfied with plain soup, so I added herbs and other veggies.  I also baked a ham while the soup was simmering.  The house had such luscious smells all afternoon. Sweetz was having trouble staying out of the kitchen and checked out the steaming pots several times.

This afternoon I got sooooo sleepy, I just HAD to lie down for a nap.  Whew, and it was a looong one.  You know, the kind that satisfies the entire body.  Ahhhh.  I'm so thankful I am able to lie down in the middle of the afternoon and take a luscious snoozzzze.  That was impossible when I was a working gal. WhoooHooo, a nap is a pleasure when the need is there. Doesn't happen often, but today was that day.  

After my nap, we ate supper - yes, the delicious soup!! Yummmm.  About half the pot went into the freezer for later meals - yes, next year!!  I'm thinking it will be awesome to have some meals already prepared when we've been busy with other things and neither of us want to cook or go out.

It was in the 50s here today and more than a half of our snow melted - sure will be great to see the ground again.  Not quite as good as green grass, but spring will come again.  And I'll definitely be ready.

I fixed a cute little decoration for New Years.  It's just the two of us tonight so I don't have to impress anyone.  I must admit I did think of inviting some couples over, but then got lazy.  Yeah, lazy.  We'll just watch some of the fun on the TV and watch the ball drop at midnight and that will be that.  Mostly, we'll probably just chill, eat some snacks, and read until the big moment arrives.  Since we're not party animals, this is our speed.

Tomorrow we are invited to a friend's house for breakfast.  Now, that's a new twist to ushering in the new year!  A definite new experience for us.  So, here's to a Happy New Year for everyone everywhere.  Stay safe.   

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Everything Is White Everywhere I Look

And another day bites the dust.  But it's been a wonderful day.  Sure am loving this TGIR status: Thank Goodness I'm Retired.  We had about 4 inches of snow - some places were 5" but I'll be conservative in my guesstimate. 

Certainly was beautiful coming down - absolutely beautiful.  It's over now, and snow began to fall from the tree limbs, wires, railings, etc.  So, I was off and running outside this morning to capture a few shots. 

The temp made it to freezing but it was still getting slushy on the roads.  I think the chemicals the county throws out does a great job of melting the snow on the roads way before the plows come through. 

I shoveled mom's driveway and mom came out with my camera and took a picture of me not long after I started.  I think she did a great job with my digital camera.  I didn't get a picture of it when I finished. 

She had made a pot of veggie beef soup while I shoveled so that was a great way to warm the tummy. I also shoveled our own patio and steps and walk - so guess I got my exercise today. And it felt wonderful to be outside doing some physical. 

Just about sundown, the plow came through our neighborhood so it should be safe to be out tomorrow. 

Sweetz wants to head out shopping tomorrow.  Must be the gift cards and cash are burning a hole in his pocket!  He gave me a TV for Christmas but I don't like the quality of the picture, so we plan to return it for another brand with hopefully better picture quality.  Christmas was wonderful this year.  Family was close and extra special this year. 

We all have many memories to last us into the next year.  Talked to my son every day and it's been so nice to get closer to him. Tuesday is mom's 89th birthday, so we plan to meet for dinner at a nice restaurant to celebrate this milestone.  I'm thinking it would be nice to decorate the table a bit to make it extra special for her.  It's not every day someone lives to be 89.  And to make it even better...she's in excellent health.  Wow, wow, wow how blessed she is.  And how blessed we are to still have her in our lives.

Friday, December 24, 2010

A Memorable Christmas Eve

Here it is - nearly the tail end of another Christmas Eve.  This was very special although I know I say that every year.  We changed our recent routine and gathered at our son and family's house this year.  Oops, I got Wendy with her eyes closed. 

We had some of Wendy's delicious homemade chili with lots of goodies on the side.  I made a batch of chicken salad and deviled eggs.  My mom made some candy and we also took several drinks, including apple cider and some soft drinks.  There was a cheese and cracker tray, another with slices of ham.  All was delicious.

After we finished the meal, we gathered in the living room while Brian read the Christmas story from Luke 2.  I played Santa and distributed the gifts to everyone. The boys were getting really excited at this point. 

Our son seemed thrilled with his Appalachian State photo frame.  He asked me to make him one way back in the fall but he said he had forgotten all about it.  So it was a bit hit.  He wanted each letter of Appalachian to be a photo in of itself to spell out the school's name.  He said it was awesome and couldn't wait to hang it. Wendy told him he couldn't take it to work - it had to stay home.  Nice compliments to warm a mom's heart.

Here's one of the finished project.  The last photo is one taken at an App football game from the stadium seats. Another oops...I didn't notice the stuff leaning against the wall behind it. 
I ordered three calendars from Vistaprint (new company for me) using 13 of my own photos, one for each month plus the cover.  Wow, I was thrilled with them, great quality for a reasonable price!  I also ordered one for mom and, of course, we needed to have one too!  They opened that box in the kitchen so as not ruin the surprise for mom when she opens hers tomorrow. Yep, they went on and on with praise for that gift too.  Whew, love it when a plan comes together. Oops, I forgot to take a picture of them.  Hopefully, I will remember to take a shot or two of a few of the pages to post at a later time.  Bear with me - I'm not perfect...yet.   

More snacks and then it was game time.  Wendy, the boys, and I played a new game for me (forgot the name) but since I was playing I didn't get any pictures of that time.  Sweetz and Brian played a computer hunting game. Grandma cheered us all on. 

It was a day of much laughter, fun, teasing, food, and then it was time for the oldies to load up for the road home.  It was a wonderful day with lots of love shared with family.  The memories will endure a long time especially when I look at the pictures of the evening. Ahhh. 

While the photos for today's posting were uploading, I wrapped the last stocking gifts for Sweetz so they will be ready.  Whew, talk about waiting till the last minute... 

I'm hoping Santa lets me sleep late in the morning.  Gotta remember to leave the door unlocked so the big jolly guy in the red suit can get in.  No fireplace here.  Shoot, I bet he has the latest GPS technology to keep him on track. It's mind-boggling what that man gets done in one night!!     

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Crunch Time

OK, the time is getting closer.  Santa's on his way and things aren't finished.  Will I have time to get cookies on a plate so he'll have a snack at my house? 

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Guess Who Showed Up?

Our son, his family, mom, and I celebrated Sweetz birthday at Bravo in Greensboro. It's worth the drive to enjoy their scrumptious lasagna.  Everyone seemed to have a good time.  Our favorite waiter (Markus) is no longer working there  :(   but we were assigned to Brandon for the evening.  Believe me, he's not on the same playing field as Markus, but what can you do?  Well, we might pass on going there again - there are many other places to choose. 

I gave Sweetz a Lowes gift card in the most darling teeny tool box. 

It's hanging on the tree now - decided to use it as an ornament until I need it again.

I made Sweetz a Paula Deen red velvet cake for his birthday.  Lots of work but worth it to have such a delicious cake.

Here it is before we cut into it today.  It has melted marshmallows, nuts, and coconut in the icing.  As well as a lb of conf sugar, a stick of butter, etc.  The cake is rich but he's worth it - well, at least once a year.

We've been invited to a friend's surprise birthday party Wednesday night.  Ralph was born on Dec 25.  His family always celebrate it on a day other than Christmas Day.  Sounds like a good plan.  This year it will be a Shhhhhprise. 

The kids had their Christmas plays this evening at church.  The littlest ones portrayed the Christmas story complete with costumes and memorized lines.  Wow, they did real well.  Several even sang and I didn't notice any stage fright.  The older youth also did a play  with costumes but no lines - all done in pantomime with a few signs.  I thought the church was decorated beautifully this morning but it had to be rearranged for the youth plays.  I still captured a few pictures even in the dim light after everyone left the sanctuary for the party in the Fellowship Hall. 

And guess who showed up???

Even the secretary's office door had a unique wreath decorated with tape, scissors, staple remover, pencil, calculator, paper clips, etc.  Toooo cute!

Merry Christmas to all my readers.

Friday, December 17, 2010

8 Days Till Christmas

We finished the puzzle...

and the next day I returned it to its box and started another one.  I organized the pieces into colors.  Since the pieces don't lock together very well, so it's not fulfilling my idea of fun.  Oh well, keeps us out of trouble I suppose.  

Today I had lunch with a group of friends at a beautiful home transformed into a restaurant.  The food was....just ok, but spending time with friends was great.  It was wonderful to see each one and hear each one's Christmas plans. 

I made bookmarks using some of my photos and gave each lady one.  Now, I KNOW every one of them will be reading lots of books after Christmas so they can use them.  LOL 

One of the other ladies gave each of us a little bag of goodies, one of which is a "Friend" tree ornament.  Of course, it's already hanging on our tree!  I still need more ornaments.  Am thinking of making some to fill in my empty boughs. 
Martha Stewart website ---> here I come!

After the lunch, I made a stop for a few essentials at the grocery store and to pick up the rest of the ingredients for a Paula Deen Red Velvet Cake.  Sweetz will be celebrating his birthday on Sunday so I'll make this as a special treat. Sweetz, mom, and I will meet our son and family in Greensboro on Sat for a birthday lunch.  He's chosen Bravo as the location and I'm hoping the shopping center isn't bulging with last-minute Christmas shoppers.  If so, I'll be thankful I have completed my shopping. 

I went to Tractor Supply this afternoon after our lunch to see if I could find a final Christmas gift for Sweetz.  We don't need anything so am having trouble coming up with interesting gifts without spending a fortune.  He's not into the techno items, latest gaming units, fancy phones, laptops, etc. so it requires me to be creative. 

Since I was already out, I took the opportunity to drive around the area and see the remnants of our latest snowfall.  It was foggy when I left at 12:45 to meet the ladies...

but by the time I left the restaurant, the fog had lifted and the snow/ice was melting on all the trees.  It sure was nice to meander the roads and not have to worry about the time.  I could get so I LOVE this retirement gig.  

Monday, December 13, 2010

...And The Fire Is Sooooo Delightful

Our house is toasty and the fire is so delightful. 

Sure am glad we have a wood stove to supplement our gas heat. Sweetz loves to chop down trees, cut them up, split the logs and do all that stacking, hauling, etc.  He really enjoys all that labor and loves to be outdoors.  I enjoy watching - well, sometimes I help. 

Really...well, sometimes...for awhile...

It's been cold here this month, much lower than the normal highs.  Today was a moist windy cold that curls under your hood, down your neck, and freezes the skin it touches while it delights in taking your breath away. 

I had lunch with a friend today and we each chose a pinini sandwich and hot soup.  Warmed us up quickly.  Then we sat at the table awhile and enjoyed chatting in the warm room.  We then went shopping for about an hour but decided that it just wasn't fun being out in that cold weather.  So, we'll wait for a warmer day to get out again and we waved to each other as we headed home in opposite directions. 

Since I've finished my shopping, it was nice to mostly browse but I did get a few things that we could use this winter at home, plus a package of Christmas tissue and 2 rolls of wrapping paper so I can finish wrapping the last gifts.  You know some items seem to come in unnecessarily huge packages so that eats up of a roll of wrapping paper real fast.  Also, the gift for our son is rather large and I need something big to put it in.  I found a big bag for it - you know, the kind that will hold a huge toy for a child.  Better to be too big than too small.

Our son just called and we chatted on the phone to finalize the get-togethers for both Sweetz' birthday this weekend and also for Christmas Eve.  Seems he needed to consult the home activity calendar to make sure the time is available for his dad's birthday dinner at Bravo's in Greensboro on Sunday.  One of the boys might have a conflict but we'll figure out something when he calls back this evening.

Sweetz set up the card table in the living room this afternoon so he could work on a puzzle. And he's already accomplished quite a bit.  Well, he admitted it only had 550 pieces and was rather a simple picture.

We will definitely be buying another one or two puzzles so we can stay out of trouble this winter.  Gotta have something compelling to do when the weather is cold outdoors. I have a stack of mending to do, plus some organizing yet to be completed, even a hall and trim to paint. Some of our winter will be spent studying maps and campground directories not to mention determining some sights to visit along the Western Ho trip we are planning when it warms up.  Come on spring!!!! 

Our SS class had a catered dinner at one the the couple's home.  They have a lovely new home and the food and fun with the members was a treat during this Christmas season. There were about 30 of us and we settled all over their large home where there was plenty of room for everyone. 

Our church choir presented a Christmas cantata last night.  They did a great job and I know it was lots of practice and required many hours to get it to come together so well.  The church was decorated beautifully in classic red and green: candles, ribbons, wreaths, garlands, and of course a beautiful tree in the narthex.  After the cantata, there was a church-wide social so I spent the afternoon baking molasses/spice cookies and a batch of brownies to add to the spread.

My laptop has decided to not allow me to open CD/DVDs. It's been showing the signs, but tonight it said NO MORE.  So, I can't save pictures from the memory card.  Yipes, sounds like a trip to the computer geek.  How slowly the money comes in and how quickly it sifts through the fingers.  I need a lock box!! 

I'll close this with my wish for everyone to have a
Merry Christmas
and a Happy New Year.

Friday, December 10, 2010

I Think I'm Done

Well, I certainly hope so, finish my Christmas shopping, that is.  Wonderful feeling.  Now, I need to get everything wrapped and tagged.  I've checked my list and it seems that everyone has something appropriate.  Hope everyone is happy with my choices.  Well, I tried to please and that's the best I can do.

Before I headed out, I stopped to check out some areas near home looking for some interesting photos.  Been there many times before but found a couple of things that made me pause for a few pictures. 

Then off for the gas station for a fill-up. The drive into town today was nice and I listened to cheery Christmas music to get in the mood to do the rest of the shopping. I had ideas for each person, so it wasn't as difficult as it could have been. Actually, everything was done in one shopping center! Even was able to fit in a tasty sandwich and soup combo at a corner eatery. I stopped at a park or two to enjoy the views and to do a bit of walking.

Of course, there was another reason - and that was to photograph the last two "letters" for the photo project for our son.  Got them - and NOW I think I can relax.  These will be printed tonight and since the others are good, I feel it will be a wrap soon.  Even had Sweetz look at everything and he thought it was great just the way I was doing it.  Always nice to have a second opinion, especially if it's a good one.

We had leftovers for supper, but jazzed up a bit with a dash of this and a pinch of that so we didn't even realize it was leftover night.  Sure is nice to rustle up supper in a flash.  A Christmas Carol is on tonight.  Think I'll go fix us a cup of hot cocoa and get comfy and watch this classic. 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Rush of the Season

After a bit of a struggle this morning, I finally headed off to run some errands and get a handle on my Christmas shopping.  It's coming together and soon I will be finished. 

I found some neat decorated boxes which I intend to be the extent of most of my giftwrapping.  I plan to wrap a ribbon around each one and put a tag on a simple bow and that will be that!  I got a Lowes gift card for Sweetz and found the cutest tiny black toolbox which makes a perfect home for the gift card.  He will love that.  Since his birthday is also this month, another gift is needed so off I plan to go tomorrow to get something he mentioned several weeks ago.  Also I need to get a few stocking gifts for him. Yep, we still get a big kick out of that tradition. 

I haven't gotten the grandsons anything yet, and it looks like I need to ask their dad and mom for some ideas.  I'm still working (ok, occasionally working) on the photo gift for our son and hopefully I can wrap that project up in a couple of days.  It's big - and it will require some creative wrapping.  Yes, I think he'll like it and it's something he requested.  It's nice to know he specifically asked me for this project using my own photos.  I'll take pictures of the finished project soon and post it.  

The high today wasn't too bad - mid 30s and I think tomorrow will be about the same.  And since today was sunny, it was deceiving how cold it actually felt.  One stop was the library to exchange books.  Now I have four more books and they look like good choices.  Can hardly wait to get involved in another book since it's always a good way to shut away the problems of the world.  

And I need to tackle my Christmas cards too.  So much to do, so little time.  Oh, but I'm retired so I should be able to get everything done and still have time left over.  I'm practicing.        

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Gloves and Scarf Weather

Today it was a battle between doing a bit of Christmas shopping and trying to stay warm.  Brrrrr, it was cold.  My gloves and scarf did a wonderful job. 
No, I didn't get to scratch anything off my Christmas list today: Sweetz was hanging around, even saw what I had hidden in the trunk.  At this rate, he will have no surprises on Christmas morning. I did see a lady I used to work with.  She's recently had surgery on her hand but since she was doing so well, she was out working her Christmas list.  She said she was ready to go back to work!  Ahhh, I'll give her a few more years to rethink that wish.  

I spent a few hours this morning working on a photographic project for my son.  Hopefully, it will be finished soon.  We will be at their house on Christmas Eve, so at least I have a few more days to get it done.  Will he like it?  Ummm, that remains to be seen.   

Sunday, December 5, 2010

On a Country Road

Just some scenes that greeted us this morning in our yard.

And a few shots on country roads on our way to church...

And our church...

We had two invitations for lunch today.  Bummer, wouldn't you know it would happen on the same day!  We ate with Pat and Wil and will spend the day Tuesday with Charles and Mary.  How's that for creative scheduling?  There will be lots of activities for a few more weeks and then life will settle down after Christmas.  I think I'll just enjoy the busyness while I can - since no one knows what's  around the next corner!! 

Saturday, December 4, 2010

First Snow

Today started out nicely - rolled out of bed about 7am.  With the morning duties completed, it was time to head out to run a few errands.  Mom wanted to go too, so off we headed.  I took a picture of Ronnie mowing mom's leaves in the front yard.  I had no idea the front yard would look differently when we returned!  

First, we attended an annual Moravian candle tea and bazaar.  It's always nice to experience this to begin the Christmas season.  I bought a few things and off we went for other stops. 

We found the church where the drive-through live Nativity would be held.  The plan was to return after 7pm to see it live. We ran into part of a small-town Christmas parade so we sat and watched it awhile.  Then off for more stops, ending at a Japanese restaurant.  This has always been one of my favorite places to eat.  The owner told me the economy was really hurting him and he was working through steps to keep the business open.  It's always sad news when I hear of the economy affecting so many small businesses in our area. 

As I looked out the restaurant door, I noticed it was snowing.  Off we headed to the car and on toward home trying to arrive before the snow started sticking to the roads.  The driving was uneventful so I took some side roads to check out the area.  It was nearly impossible to go directly home because of the beautiful scenes right in front of my eyes.  Such beauty - lovely, lovely, lovely. 

I unloaded Mom's purchases and went inside to enjoy some mom/daughter talk.  She gave me a fruitcake she made especially for me.  It's my grandma's recipe, and is one of the best I've ever tasted.  Even though Mom only has a few decorations, they are nice. I left the camera in my car so I don't have any pictures.  

A good day was had by all...

A few final shots of the day:  a wreath with red bow on the camper cover.  Uh Oh, I see my dear Sweetz has hung it upside down...ummmm... I'll change it one day...

And here's a shot of an oak branch in our back yard full of snow...

I have a supper date next week with some friends from where I used to work.  It will be good to have a girls' night out with much laughter and catch up stories.  Of course, one of them called me "old" today...ummm, guess I'll forgive her for that comment.

The rest of the errands have been postponed to next week. This snow won't last long since the high will be above freezing tomorrow.  But hopefully we will have at least one more nice snowfall this winter.  Only for the beauty - and pictures, of course!

And here's the same scene in mom's front yard about 4 hours later - quite a contrast!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Good, the Bad, and the Thin

A couple of days ago I called my scissored lady but she didn't call me back.  Hey, I don't have to go back if she doesn't feel obligated to return calls.  And she knows this well enough since I've moved out of range of her scissors several times.  Maybe she knows I'll be back. 
Anywhoo...I called a salon I frequented years ago and Kelly said, "Come on in" so off I went for a much-needed haircut.

Stopped first at the ATM for some $$ and arrived right on time.  Little skinny young cute vivacious Kelly was ready and waiting and knowledgeable with those scissors.  Wow, she did a great job. She cut out all my remaining perm so now I'm dependent on a curling iron for any kurlz that I want.  I was going to make a return appt but she didn't have her 2011 calendar, so I told her I'd call her - as she deftly placed her business card into my hand.   Sweetz seemed to like my hair, although he did comment that my hair seemed to be  Ouch!  He might need to stay far from me for a few hours. 

While I was out, I decided to get a flu shot - at a local drugstore.  Yipes.  It was a Walgreens and they were awful.  They had no idea I could see/or care what they were doing, but there was an older man who was in severe pain who was trying to get a Rx filled.  The pharmacist wasn't nice and the two techs weren't any better.  They actually rolled their eyes and giggled about him when he wasn't looking.  I plan to contact in the next day or two to complain.  The sharps container was nearly bulging with old needles and syringes, which isn't a good sign.  After working in a hospital/physician practice for most of working years, these issues were not acceptable.  The pharmacist gave me my flu shot, which she did effectively, but spoke down to me as if I was stupid.  Not a good sign to treat this senior as a dummy.  I do not plan to EVER give any Walgreens my business.

I ran a few errands while I was out and bought Sweetz a Christmas gift.  Or maybe it's his birthday gift...I haven't decided, both are this month.  I have a couple of other ideas so need to head out another day to get the rest.

The birds will be doing ok for a few months.  The birds will be enjoying this big bag of sunflower seeds.  And the suet will be enjoyed by the woodpeckers and cardinals.

My bathroom rug which was repaired with fabric glue a couple days ago held perfectly.  I was thrilled I didn't have to get out a big needle and heavy duty thread.  I enjoy sewing but that doesn't include mending.  Never cared for that aspect, but my mending stack is growing so that will have to be tackled one day soon or else we will have to add a room to the house.  Why soon?  I'm clueless.  Think I need to remind myself that I quit work six months ago and I schedule my own appointments since I'm now the BOSS.  OK, well, I will work on that project when I feel the urge - or whenever I want something bad enough from that stack.  I usually repair by color.  That way when I have enough items of one color, I use the same thread for those; and then change to the next colored thread (and yes, the bobbin requires the same color too).  That way I don't have to keep re-threading the machine and filling a bobbin too many times - plus it helps to have several bobbins pre-filled with common colors

Last night we ate at Sagebrush Steakhouse.  Wow, wow, wow - was it ever good. Waitress was great too!  We couldn't eat it all, so brought half home which we warmed for "lupper" today.  It's nice to have the last meal finished so now I work on something else. 

Last night, shortly before midnight, I finished the book I was reading.  There are two more remaining ones from the library in my basket so started one this afternoon.  I think it has promise to hold my attention.  If not...well, there's a fourth one.

This angel was glad to see me playing Christmas carols.  Maybe not as well as she hears in heaven, but I tried and she smiled.