Monday, December 30, 2013

Eat for Good Luck? A Rerun.

When planning my New Year's Eve 2012 menu, I came across an excellent article on what to eat and what
not to eat on the Eve.  I served only what was on the "to eat" list and ate plenty of it.  I must say (and this may be coincidental), I had a better year (financially).  I may change up a few dishes this year, but I will be including plenty of green food!  Here is the original post:

What are you eating this New Year that may bring you good luck throughout 2012?  When I sat down to plan my New Year’s menu and typed in “foods for New Year’s”, I was led to this.  An excellent little article on traditions and what are believed to be lucky foods.  There are six major categories: grapes, greens, fish, pork, legumes, and cakes.  I also found it interesting that the amount of greens that are eaten may predict one’s fortune.  That could explain why I am so poor.  Our tradition was to eat a spoonful of sauerkraut at midnight.  This year I am eating tons of sauerkraut.  I’ll also be serving pork (it signifies wealth and prosperity) and I’m thinking of trying my hand at baking a dessert from Holland: the ollie bollen, a puffy, donut-like pastries filled with apples, raisins, and currants.
There is also a list of What Not to Eat.  “Lobster is a bad idea because they move backwards and could therefore lead to setbacks. Chicken is also discouraged because the bird scratches backwards, which could cause regret or dwelling on the past. Another theory warns against eating any winged fowl because good luck could fly away.”
I'm thinking of following with the German custom (or superstition) of leaving a little bit of each food on your plate past midnight to guarantee a stocked pantry in the New Year.  Nothing wrong with cleaning up in the morning.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Here's What's On My Mind

Looking Forward

I’ve been thinking about the New Year and making lists, lists and lists.  Don’t get me wrong, I am fully loving and enjoying this month, the hustle, the bustle, the wrapping, the caroling and the beauty of a fresh snowfall, but when 2014 gets here, I want to hit the ground running.  I am excited for the New Year, the chance to do it all again, only better.
I am looking forward to living with a new OLW, mine having come to me when I was gathering items (once loved, outgrown, and/or no longer needed) for donating to the VVA.  My word has nothing to do with donating or the VVA, but with learning. I’ve also decided to shake things up a bit by choosing a new sub- word to focus on each month.  So, my year of word(s) will look something like this:

                             I..      LEARN (word for all 12 months)
                                      A.      January – Create
                                      B.      February – Save
                                      C.      March – Change
                                      D.      April - Finish

and so on.  I’m looking forward to trying this process, hoping it keeps me focused and on track so I’ll “stay with it” til year’s end.  And  that's what's on my mind. 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Countdown to Christmas, Week 8

            1.         Review your menus and supplies once more. Any last minutes shopping needed?
            2.         Keep a list of each gift as it is opened for writing those thank you notes later.
            3.         Be sure to leave a snack for Santa and his reindeer.
            4.         Stuff the stockings.

            5.         Have yourself a very Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Countdown to Christmas, Week 7

 Countdown to Christmas, Week 7 Holiday To-Do List
This is it. The final week (with a few days just before) to get it all together.  Will you be ready???
            1.         Make your lists and check them twice! Are all catalog and on-line orders received?  (I have a few outstanding and fingers crossed they all arrive before Tuesday).
2.         Buy (or create) thank-you notes.  As gifts are received, or parties attended, you can begin writing out and addressing the cards to be sent on the 26th.
3.         Christmas Eve and Christmas Day menus finalized? Non-perishables purchased?  
4.         Cookies baked? Food gifts assembled? Presents wrapped?
5.         Purchase any supplies needed, such as batteries (in abundance!).
6.         Charge the camera(s).
7.         Tree up and decorated? Cards sent?
I’m feeling a bit frantic as I write this post.  AM I READY?  OMGosh, I HOPE SO!!!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Countdown, Week 6

Countdown to Christmas, Week 6 Holiday To-Do List
1. Christmas menu finalized.  Begin purchasing everything needed except fresh produce.
2. Trim the tree.  Hang lights around window. Decorate.
3. Check list of gifts ordered.  Everything received?
4. Complete gift wrapping.

Another busy week! In addition to the above, I hope to meet Amanda and take her out for a new outfit; make list of what presents are still needed and wrap that up, cancel insurance on the Pontiac, clean my room and do laundry. Ugh! But not Bah Humbug!  I’m still loving this Season.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Countdown to Christmas, Week 5

Countdown to Christmas, Week 5 Holiday To-Do List   
Ben, Christmas 2008
1. Christmas parties are coming up. What will you wear? Do clothes need dry-cleaned, pressed, repaired. Or will you be buying something new? What accessories will you wear? Shoes?
2. Schedule time for a hair appointment and/or manicure.
3. Mail Christmas cards.
4. Try to finish up with on-line and catalog shopping so that the ordered items arrive in plenty of time to be wrapped and put under the tree.
3. Start collecting boxes and gift bags to use for gift wrapping.
4. Continue wrapping gifts as they are bought.
5. Plan the Christmas Eve and Christmas Day menus. Order fresh turkeys, hams or goose now.

6. Get plenty of rest, drink plenty of water. RELAX and ENJOY!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

1.  Celebrate Brendan’s 7th birthday and my, um, oh, 29th (again)!
2.  Put up the tree and decorate it.
3.  Document each day (i.e., December Daily and Journal Your Christmas).
4.  Bake cookies.
5.  Make Cinnamon Applesauce ornaments.
6.  Sing Christmas Songs.
7.  Wrap presents.
8.  Spend an evening driving around to look at Christmas lights.
9.  Write letters to Santa.
10.   Watch holiday movies.
11.   Read holiday books.
12.   Hang Candy Canes.
13.   Host an Ornament Exchange party.
14.   Send Christmas Cards.
15.   Hang Stockings.
16.   Celebrate the Winter Solstice.
17.   Make gifts  
18.   Bake red wine cake (as gifts) (recipe here)
19.   Make a list of New Year’s Resolutions 
Keep Calm and Be Merry!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Going Shopping??

I wasn't planning on it, but we are celebrating Brendan's 6th birthday this afternoon and I need a gift. And then Kayla saw something on sale at Walmart that she would like. And I am on a train tomorrow for holiday and I need a few things.  Soooooooooo, I am going shopping and working at the office this a.m. and packing for my trip and doing loads of laundry and I'd really like the house to be in ship shape and...I have to let go of some of this.  I KNOW!  Jeez.
Do you agree that this season is just going by too fast?! And yesterday, inspired by Elise, between getting the turkey in the oven and the baby a bath, I walked a mile.  But never got my photo loaded to #mileaday.  I will after today's one mile walk.
Driving into the office this morning I put on the station that only plays Christmas music.  LOVE IT!
I am so excited for this season.  I love December Daily and Journal Your Christmas.  I love the Christmas music, the Christmas shows, the decorating, the family get-togethers, the hustle, the bustle.  I just want it to s-l-o-w down a little.  Alas, that's not gonna happen.
Dinner yesterday was fabulous, I have photos but left my phone at home, DUH!, so I'll save it all for a later post.
I've been staying up with my Countdown. Here's my Countdown for the Fourth Week of November:
1. Be thankful for all you have, and all that you've accomplished to this point.
2. Enjoy you Thanksgiving! You deserve it.
3. Send out invitations for the Christmas Ornament Exchange.
4. Pick up those Advent candles.  Advent begins Sunday.
5. Begin addressing Christmas cards.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today is this little man's first Thanksgiving.
Sadly, (for him) at 7 months and only two teeth, he will not be partaking of any of the turkey, yummy mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, the STUFFING and more.  No, his Thanksgiving dinner will be Gerber's Chicken and Apples and a bottle of Similac.  And he'll love it.  Until he learns better.

I hope your Thanksgiving is filled with good stuff! Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Countin' Down

So here we are pretty much down to the wire.  I am in awe of how time is just flying!!! This weekend, starting with tonight is going to be a whirl of activity.  Pittsburgh did not (yet) get that huge snowstorm that was threatened (thank goodness!), so we did not get snowed in and here I am at the office hoping, hoping, that we shut the doors early today.  I cook Thanksgiving dinner and I need all the prep time I can get.  I made a shopping list and bought all I needed last week but I have this nagging feeling that I need to go buy more potatoes.  I want to make these and I want to make them tonight.  Along with the pumpkin pie. And the cole slaw. And the cutting of the mushrooms and onions for the stuffing.  And I hope the turkey is defrosted.  Oh my.

Deep breath.  I will get it done. Oh, but what a joyous time.  I like Thanksgiving.  I like the food, the hustle, the bustle and then the quiet peace as we say grace over our meal and reveal what we are most thankful for that year.  I like packing up the leftovers for each child and sending them hope with goodie bags.  I especially like making this recipe and enjoying it all day Friday.

May your Day(s) be filled with Thanksgiving.


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Countdown to Christmas, Week 3

The Count carries on.  My Week 3 To-Do's.

You can see Week 1’s Holiday To-Do List here and Week 2 here

Week 3 Holiday To-Do List

1. Continue shopping for gifts.
2. Update Christmas card list.
3. Purchase or order Christmas cards.
4. Make and freeze a batch of baked goods (unfrosted cookies, bars, quick breads).
3. Start collecting boxes and gift bags to use for gift wrapping.
4. Start wrapping gifts as they are bought.
5. Finalize Thanksgiving dinner menu and entertainment plans.

Seen on Pinterest: acorns in glass jars ( Love this.  TO DO: take K and E out on an acorn hunt.  Fill glass jars with acorns, fall flowers or candlesticks.  

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


It's been a rough week and not even "A full course of antibiotic therapy in 5 daily doses," is helping.  I've added Cheratussin cough syrup, makes me loopy, not sure what it's doing for the cough, but I shall persevere.  Or go back to bed.  

Think I'll go back to bed.

Happy Hump Day to You.  Enjoy.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Prelude to the Weekend

I’ve been bit by a very nasty bug – a virus - headcold that is.  Kayla, too.  It’s been a rough week.  AND, I have a very busy Saturday, SO double the Vitamin C, throw back some Tussin and get on with it. 

Today I’ve been working on my grocery shopping list.  I don’t get paid again until the end of the month and after bills and another Christmas gift bought, there isn’t much left.  And there is Thanksgiving dinner to buy for.  I’ve finalized the menu.  It’s simple.  I’ve tried switching it up, my children aren’t too fond of that.  So, I’m back to our traditional which they love and look forward to every year.   
Kayla helping with the turkey.  2006
I’m trying to be frugal so we shall be clipping coupons later and looking for the best sales.  I plan on slow cooking most every meal from here to Thanksgiving.  That’s not as extreme as it sounds.  I really don’t cook much during the week.  I mostly cook on the weekends when the kiddies are here, but K has been staying lately and I have to have meals for her.  Tomorrow, I’ll be grocery shopping, and then the kiddies will be coming over to celebrate Ben’s 9th birthday.    

It’s warming up here in Pittsburgh.  Going to be a warmish weekend (in the 50’s). So not like the days of yore. 

Well, enough! I’ve got work to do. Oh, look, it’s time for lunch!

The Grocery List
Thanksgiving Dinner
Mashed potatoes                                          potatoes, milk, butter
Green Bean Casserole,                                 green beans, mushroom soup, onions
Turkey                                                             turkey
Cranberry sauce                                           cranberry sauce
Stuffing                                                            bread, mushrooms, onions, butter, milk
Cole Slaw                                                       cabbage, carrots, mayo
Crescent rolls                                                  rolls
Pumpkin pie                                                   canned pumpkin, condensed milk
Gravy                                                              gravy

Pulled Pork Barbecue                                    Pork Roast
(Make extra)
Cole Slaw
Buns (Buy extra)

Barbecue Pork Tacos                                                Taco Shells, Cheese

White Chicken Chili                                       Chicken, McCormick’s spice, White Beans
Salad                                                              lettuce, cheese

Spaghetti and Meatballs                             Pasta, ground meat, seasonings, cheese,
Make extra                                                      Sauce

Meatball Sandwiches

Swiss cheese
Pie crusts (in freezer)
Pancakes (frozen or Bisquik?)


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Our First Snowfall of the Season

I took this around 6:36 a.m. while I was waiting for the bus.  We did not get much; streets and sidewalks were clear, but enough to be pretty.

Countdown to Christmas, Week 2
Week 2 has officially begun.  You can see Week 1’s Holiday To-Do List here
Week 2 Holiday To-Do List
1. Continue shopping for gifts.
2. Begin buying nonperishable items for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners.
3. Inventory table linens and serving pieces (I bought a new “fall themed” tablecloth from Burlington’s this year).
4. Stock up on Holiday themed paper products, i.e., plates, cups, eating utensils, place mats.  K chose a classical Santa print, my Mom chose a whimsical snowman.
3. Decorate for Thanksgiving.
4. Send out invites for Thanksgiving dinner.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Weekend Recap

Friday night, Melissa dropped off Dylan for a few hours.  He is such a happy baby, SO GOOD!  Kaileen spent the night and I appreciated the help she and K gave in taking care of the boys.

Saturday morning, Mom, myself and Elliot went shopping for the groceries needed to make two types of chili.  At home, we pulled out the Christmas presents already purchased to make a list of what we had/what we needed and Kayla began wrapping.  Jayme stopped in for a quick visit.

Later, K baked brownies and lemon bars, and we had Stromboli’s for dinner. Afterwards, while K and E took a nap, I cleaned the kitchen and prepared the two chilis for slow cooking through the night.

Our evening ended with a run to our local Starbucks which K said warmed her heart.  Cute.

Sunday began with a quick trip to the store for last minute chili toppings and then the gang arrived and we loaded up the cars and headed off to Church.  The luncheon was a success wherein we only brought home a half loaf of Italian bread.  The chilis – gone. The brownies – gone. The cookies – gone.  The salad – gone.

Mister came over in the afternoon to watch some of the Steelers game (they won!) and the evening was spent playing on the floor with E, a trip to the yogurt place and a stop at Subway.   We ended the evening with baths and an episode of “The Walking Dead,” then off to bed we went.  

Another wonderful weekend with family and friends!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Prelude to the Weekend

It’s going to get busy around here. Tonight, I believe I will be watching my niece’s adorable son for a few hours.  Dylan is 6 months, same as Elliot, only Elliot is a week older.  Elliot and K came back on Wednesday and although it’s messier, it’s so wonderful to have them here.  The boys are adorable and they each exhibit totally different personalities.  Dylan is smiling all of the time; Elliot is more serious.  He furrows his brow, deep in thought, it’s so cute! 

Tomorrow, after some serious grocery shopping, K and I will be chopping onions, shredding chicken, and browning ground meat to make two types of chili for our Church’s Second Sunday Social.  On the second Sunday of each month, a parishioner volunteers to cook for the congregation (ours is small in members). We are making a red beef chili and a white chicken chili.  Served with a green salad and Italian bread w/ butter, and sour cream and shredded cheese for toppings, it’s sure to be a colorful and hearty meal.  Kayla is baking up the desserts, she chose to make frosted brownies and lemon bars.

I scheduled a VA pick up for Monday, so along with the cooking, the laundry and watching babies, we have to sort, sort and sort and donate.   Oh, and I’ve got to work on that album for Kathy’s granddaughter.  We’ve also got packages arriving at our front door pretty steady, so we can begin to get our wrap on…presents that is.  Tis the Season!

Elliot and Dylan sharing the crib but not much more

Thursday, November 7, 2013

My Favorite Thanksgiving Themed Films

This is my list of a few of my favorite Thanksgiving Day films.  These are the movies that scream Thanksgiving to me, that make me laugh, make me cry, make me grateful.  In no particular
order, they are:

Planes, Trains and Automobiles - John Candy, Steve Martin – What Thanksgiving is really all about.

Jack and Jill – Adam Sandler. 

Home for the Holidays  - Anne Bancroft, Charles Durning, Holly Hunter, Robert Downey, Jr.  This file is one of my absolute favorites.  Going home for the Holidays has never been more fun.

Pieces of April – Katie Holmes.
What’s Cooking?– Mercedes Ruehl

The Big Chill – Star studded cast including, Glenn Close, JoBeth Williams, Tom Berenger…

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving – The Peanuts Gang – it’s not a holiday without them.

Holiday Treasure – Jason Robards.  This one and The House Without a Christmas Tree, and Mr. Sycamore, I enjoyed these as a teen and watching them with my children when they were little.    
Unless the last one is shown on television or I can find it on Netflix, I will not be watching it as I believe its only in VHS form (have to do a bit of research) and I do not have a VHS player.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


Last year I purchased ScrapScription’s December Daily album kit with the intention of using it for 2012.  That didn’t happen and the kit sat in its box with the pile of other boxed kits waiting to be scrapped.  This year, however, I am going to use this album.  I am determined and I am ready.  Yea Me!  Anyway, this past weekend, I pulled out that box and for two evenings and through many On Demand Free Movies, I scrapped that book until it was done.  Ta Da!  Bring on December! I am ready (just a year late, but ready!!!).

Monday, November 4, 2013


The weekend was super busy. Lots of unplanned gift shopping (hit some sales I couldn’t resist!)  Saturday’s Thanksgiving Dinner at Church was fabulous!  Good turnout, good food, good time!!! Sunday bingo with Mom, we both won a few $$!!  The weekend was fabulous, spent with family and friends.  I couldn’t ask for much more.
Gary, Our Chef (and choir director)

The Gym, transformed

Kitchen duty


Sunday, November 3, 2013


I loved this idea of Elsie Larsen of A Beautiful Mess.
You can read the original post here.
After careful reflection, these are my four goals.
This weekend has been a whirlwind of activity.  Yesterday was our Church's Annual Thanksgiving Dinner.  My family, meaning my Mom, myself, my daughter Amanda, her daughter Kayla, her sons, Brendan and Jake and Kayla's son, Elliot were there.  My niece, Melissa, her husband Brian and their son, Dylan, and Brian's Mom Janet were there.  My nephew, Michael and his wife Jolene were there. Plus Kelly the Pastor and Gary (the choir director) and a whole bunch of lovely folks from our congregation and their families were there.  It was quite a turnout and the food...oh, the food!!! Cooked by Gary (owner of Big Jim's (also featured on Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives) was oh! so! delicious!  We helped prep, we helped clean up, we helped eat!
Today, Church and then I am going to Bingo with my Mom.  I haven't been there since before summer and although I will miss the kiddies, it's time for some adult interaction.  So, I'm off.  Enjoy your Sunday!

In Church, with Elliot

He likes to help.

Good page turner.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

My November To Do List (the fun list)

Today promises to be one of my busiest of this month.  There is a visit to Sam's Club this morning, general shopping in the afternoon and late afternoon I am reporting to our Church for KP duty.  Tonight is our Church sponsored Thanksgiving Dinner and I am proud to say that most of my family will be there.  Fun!!!! Oh, before I get sidetracked onto a million other things (I'm famous for sidetracking!), here is My November To Do List (the fun list):
1.  Rake Leaves
2.  Make Butternut Squash Soup – share with friends
3.  Crochet a sweater
4.  Bake a pie
5.  Send Happy Thanksgiving Day cards
6.  Watch Thanksgiving themed movies
7.  Make leaf art with the kiddies
8.  Celebrate Joey and Ben’s birthdays
9.  Go to Light Up Night
10.   Read a book
11.   Buy Indian corn and gourds – make a centerpiece
12.   Make homemade cranberry sauce
13.   Start shopping for gifts!
14.   Go for an evening walk around the neighborhood
15.   Start a gratitude journal

16.   Relax, Enjoy, Be Thankful!