Saturday, December 31, 2016

My Standard New Year's Eve Post: What to Eat OR Not on the Eve of the New Year.

Back in 2012 when I was looking for new dishes to serve for New Year's Eve, 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’ve had better years (financially), NO, I did not get rich nor was I ever hit with a huge windfall, but I didn’t feel overly strapped for cash each week.  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 2017?  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.

No matter what your plans, or menu, have a wonderful, safe and blessed New Year's Eve!!!!

Friday, December 30, 2016


2016 - it was an okay year.  More peaceful than a few prior years though it still had its moments of drama.

Elliot has been a constant source of joy.  There is nothing that compares to seeing the world through a child's eyes.  A very happy child's eyes.  He astounds us everyday.  He is sooo, sooo loved.

A personal favorite from this past year was our STAYCATION.  I loved that week,  and it was a HOT week.  Kayla is a trooper and hung in there for everything (even when I went the wrong way - more than once).  I have no sense of all!

We did not get rich - not by a long shot, but we had ENOUGH.  Food, clothes, entertainment.

2016 has had me thinking more and wanting more and I don't mean more STUFF.  We are still working on getting rid of STUFF, going a bit minimalist.  Learning that less really is more.  I mean, I have realized goals I want to meet, changes I want to make and know I will have to work very hard to accomplish so much in 2017.  I've conferenced with K and A and we have agreed on "No more talking about it, now it's time to start DOING".

I met my GoodReads 2016 Reading Challenge.  I only chose 24 books and believe it or not, with my schedule, sometimes that was a stretch.  I will be upping that number this year. You can see the books I chose to read here.

My favorite TEDTalks for 2016 is Amy Tan's "Where Does Creativity Hide?"  You can see that here.

The catalytic converter fell out of my car last Friday night.  Thank goodness we hadn't driven too far and were able to get the car home safely (after picking its parts up off the street).

Last night we paid last respects to my Great Aunt Dee.  She was 89 and I will always remember her humor, and kindness and how she just loved the babies.  Rest in peace.

There have been many changes this past year at my workplace, but its all been good and I still love what I do and the people I work with.

My favorite movie seen in 2016 is Bridget Jones' Baby.  I saw this with my Mom and my daughter-in-law.

Oh, my fabulous 1950+ Kenmore Stove was red-tagged (leaking gas) and I've been without since summer.  I MISS MY OVEN.  A new one has been added to the very long list of things we need to replace and/or fix in 2017.

Speaking of 2017, I am ready and excited and will work to make change.

How was YOUR 2016?

Wednesday, December 21, 2016


Along with last minute Christmas shopping, and wrapping, and cooking, I have been thinking about 2017 and how I am going to make the most of it.  For keeping me on track and somewhat organized through the end of this year and the new year, I am using a calendar and a notebook.  Let me say right here that even Kayla has realized how much more we accomplish when we make a list.  I am currently using a 2017, 17-Month Weekly Planner (Aug. 2016 – Dec. 2017).  The calendar is an Orange Circle Studio, Paris themed and the illustrations are lovely, the quotes inspirational, and the calendar blocks roomy enough for entering appointments and notes.  Orange Circle Studio uses soy-based ink and cotton canvas covers, and the calendars are recyclable, too.  Check them out on-line here or in person at your local Barnes & Noble.

Of course, 2017 has not yet arrived and the little book is already filling up with events and memorabilia.  Accompanying the calendar is a Moleskine pink, lined notebook, wherein I keep my lists, quotes, recipes and more, using the bullet journal method.  Moleskine is my favorite type of notebook – any size! 
My current favorite pen to jot my thoughts, appointments and lists with is the Sharpie, fine point pen, in black, red and blue.
My favorite Post-Its are the 4 x 4 Super Sticky, lined, in any color collection.  Even though the whole back is sticky, they are still removable.  I use the post-its for lists, such as my daily to-do lists, groceries to pick up, books to look for at the library, bills that need paid, etc.  I stick them to the calendar, to the back of my wallet, even to the front door.
The first thing I did when I bought the planner was filled in family and close friends’ birthdays.  Then, upcoming events, such as birthday parties, members’ nights at the Zoo, and doctor and dentist appointments.  I paperclip and/or staple appointment cards (for quick phone/address info); movie theater stubs, party invites, VA pick-up reminders, paint chip cards, oh, and all sorts of ephemera that will be fun to look back on in years to come.

Have you gotten your new planner/notebook/calendar for the upcoming New Year????  If not, what are you waiting for???

Tuesday, December 20, 2016


Speaking of Christmas traditions, on the first day of Christmas we watched…
Along with my love for Christmas themed books, is my adoration  of  Christmas themed movies.  Below is a list of a few (just a few) of my all-time favorites.  In no particular order, they are:

1) Jack Frost (1998)
2) It's a Wonderful Life
3) Christmas With the Kranks; 
4) The Family Stone
5) Christmas in Connecticut
6) Frosty the Snowman
7) The Santa Clause
8) The Grinch
9) The Family Man
10) Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
11) Little Women (1994)
12) Holiday Inn
13) White Christmas
14) The Polar Express
15) Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
16) Love Actually
17) Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas
18) This Christmas
19) The Bishop’s Wife
20) Surviving Christmas
21) National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
22) Emmet Otter’s Jugband Christmas
23) A Christmas Story
24) A Charlie Brown Christmas; and 

25) Disney’s A Christmas Carol.

Saturday, December 17, 2016


Last week I got caught up in Christmas tradition memories and never got around to listing a few of my favorite traditions – new and old.  So without further ado…
Ten of my favorite Christmas traditions.
1. Receiving mail from Santa. Elliot just received a letter from Santa and was mightily impressed.  Over the years I have penned the letters sent to my grandchildren (and now my great grandchild).  They were and are too young to think of looking at the postmark.  If you want a North Pole postmark, there are a few good choices.  Visit the United States Postal Service website here for instructions.  Or you can purchase a letter from Santa and have it mailed from the North Pole.  Visit Santa’s Official North Pole Mail website here.

2. Christmas books. I love Christmas themed books – for adults and children.  When my children were young, I would gather the Christmas books into a basket and we would read one every night.  I did this with my Granddaughter, and recently introduced this tradition to my Great-grandson.  His current favorite is Little Blue Truck’s Christmas.
3. Our Annual Ornament Exchange Party. I have hosted this party for quite a few years now.  We started out with a hand few of guests, then graduated to at least 30.  Over the years, we have seen a few pass on, babies being born, children graduating.  It’s been a wonderful way to get together and keep the families together, and everyone goes home with a new ornament.  
4. Another Ornament tradition.  Buying an ornament for each child every Christmas.  I love this tradition as when the children grow up and go out on their own, they will have a box of Christmas memories to hang on their own tree.  From there they can build new traditions and make new memories.  Ornaments make great gifts, too (especially for those “hard to buy for” family members).

5. New Pajamas. This is one of my favorite memories/traditions.  When my siblings and I were young, and my Mom was bathing us, our doorbell would ring and Dad would go answer.  Santa’s Elf would deliver to each of us new pajamas.  My folks carried on this tradition for quite some time and it was years later that we learned it was our neighbor who would ring our doorbell and deliver the gifts.  This is one tradition I have kept and loved.  I am looking forward to Elliot’s reaction when one of Santa’s Elve’s delivers new p.j.s to him.
6. Baking Christmas Cookies.  This time honored tradition is an absolute favorite.  While my sister made the best chocolate chip cookies, my forte is cut out cookies – frosted.  I have a lovely collection of cookies cutters and a recipe for sugar cookies that was given to me when I lived below my parents with my two little boys – we be talking a long time ago.  The children love helping from the cutting out to frosting and decorating with sprinkles.  And we all love to eat them!  
7. Another favorite tradition – setting out a plate of cookies and milk for Santa.  The thrill of waking Christmas morning to find only crumbs and an empty glass.  Santa was here!!!  In later years, a carrot was added for the reindeer.
8. Sending Christmas cards.  I remember growing up, my Mom would mail out upwards of 200 Christmas cards each year.  The cards we received, she would tape around the living room door and on the outside of the coat closet.  The cards would eventually be hung down the living room walls, there were so many!!!!  Nowadays, people just don’t send cards.  I don’t understand this.  Surely, it’s worth the cost of a postage stamp (under 50 cents) to send holiday wishes and messages of good tidings through the new year.  I send a sheer fraction of what my Mom would send, and although we get very few back, this is a tradition I am not giving up on.  
9. A walk or drive through the neighborhood to admire Christmas lights. Elliot is so enjoying evening drives to look at decorated and brightly lit homes.  He especially likes the “rainbow” lights (assorted colors) while K and I especially admire the homes with one lit candle in each window and big, green wreaths hanging on the doors.  So pretty!

Friday, December 16, 2016


Note - my intent was to write a list of some of my favorite traditions.  Instead it became a short memoir.  Tomorrow, I'll share my list of favorites.  Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy a short walk down my Memory Lane.
Tradition - Visiting the Santas
from around the World
In our family, Christmas is steeped with tradition.  It’s what memories are made of.  We keep up with the old, and add a few new ones as our families grow.  
Growing up, my sister, brother and I, spent Christmas Day visiting other family members.  Once awake and after our presents were opened, and breakfast eaten, the car would be loaded with gifts and off we’d go.  Our first stop would be Grandma’s (paternal) house.  Grandma always had ice cream, a bowl of orange circus peanuts and green spearmint jelly leaves.  She always wore a dress and an apron.  I don’t believe I have ever seen her in a pair of slacks. 
After Grandma’s, we headed on over to Nana’s house.  There we would meet up with my Aunt Polly, Uncle Fred and their three children.  Nana always served lunch.  She always had tons of gifts for us.  She mostly wore slacks and an apron. 
See a pattern here?  The apron.  Essential.  Traditional.  I carry on this tradition – I love a good apron.
The evening was spent at Pap Pap and Aunt Lillian’s house.  (Aunt Lillian – technically step-grandma).  Aunt Polly, Uncle Fred and cousins would meet us there.  At Pap Pap’s we always had homemade pasta.  Our gifts were usually pantsuits, or jumpsuits or dresses, which we three girls would then try on and trade among ourselves. 
It was late evening by the time we returned home.  We rarely got to play with our gifts on Christmas Day. 
When I married and started a family, we carried on with the traditions of my youth, although we now visited my folks at their house and then Grandma, Nana, Pap.  Another tradition was added– a Christmas Eve party at my spouse’s parents’ home.  Santa would make an appearance (he still does) and give out gifts.  There was food and drink and over a dozen little ones running around. 
Fast forward to the year my daughter was about ten and asked if we could just stay home.  Bless this child.  Yes, let’s make our own traditions.  And we did.  That was at least, dare I say it, 25 years ago.  Grandma, Nana, Pap Pap and Aunt Lillian are no longer with us.  My daughter and two sons now have families of their own.  New traditions have been made.  I host a family party on Christmas Eve.  There are about 25 of us.  It’s wonderful to see all the kiddies together.  
I’ve encouraged my children to stay home on Christmas Day, if possible, and make new memories with their loved ones.  I serve ham and side dishes around noon if anyone wants to come over (these days, it's just Kayla, Elliot and I, and my son, Joey).  Later, K goes to Doug's and Elliot and I visit my parents.

What traditions have you kept alive. What's new?  What have you let go of?

Keeping Calm and Being Merry,

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Looking Forward To ...

... Cleaning up this yard.  Look at all those leaves! And is that Halloween tape around the column???? Jeez, the things I walk by everyday yet fail to see.  Not good.
Elliot enjoys the first snowfall of the season.
Besides cleaning the yard, I am looking forward to doing a little thrift shopping.  Kayla repainted the fireplace/mantel downstairs and mauvy color, we could use a new picture more in sync with the color for hanging over the mantel.  I am also on the lookout for a few sturdy kitchen/dining room chairs.
I have a few gift cards to buy and I need to stop at Dick's Sporting Goods and Yankee Candle.  And then I am done with Christmas gift shopping!
Next up is shopping for our Christmas Eve family party, and Christmas dinner.
Saturday evening, Amanda's two boys will be staying over. We have a line up of games to play, and gifts to make.  Later, we will settle in with a big bowl of popcorn to watch "The Secret Life of Pets".
Sunday morning, I will be picking up my eldest and he is going to help me move a few big pieces of furniture around (getting ready for the New Year - we have big changes ahead).

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Our December 2016 To Do List

1.         Celebrate December birthdays!
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 small gifts for stuffing stockings
18.       Bake red wine cake (as gifts) (recipe here
19.       Make a list of New Year’s Resolutions 
20.       Keep Calm and Be Merry!

Friday, December 2, 2016

Looking Forward To...

... another super busy weekend coming up.  WAIT! Because of my never-ending head cold/cough/yuckiness, I never posted the outcome of Kayla and Doug's gender reveal party.  The baby is a GIRL!!!!!!!!  Oh Happy Day!

Now, onto today's post.

Tonight is our firm's Christmas Party.  Good food, good company, good atmosphere.

Tomorrow, the kiddies and I go shopping for our Christmas trees, which we will then decorate, along with the rest of the house.  We also need to pick up a birthday present for an upcoming party.

Elliot is so taken with the lit up houses we drive past that we must put our own around the windows and along the front porch.

We have cleaning to do as we will be hosting our annual ornament exchange party the following week.

I still have a ton of laundry and some patchwork on a hall wall to do.

Christmas cards need signed and sent, and presents need made and wrapped.  Elliot will be painting 5 x 7 art canvases as gifts for his grandparents.

The weather is turning colder, we need to weather strip a few doors and windows.  Lots to be done.

Last night took Elliot out to buy new tennis shoes.  He wanted blue (his current favorite color).  Then we had dinner at Rose's Tea Room - different.  Good.

I still can't believe we are this close to Christmas.  No matter how prepared I think I am, I am not. Hrumph!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

December │ Welcome

Thanksgiving was a quiet affair, good food, afternoon naps (too much taxiing), but quiet, peaceful.

Unfortunately, we have been suffering from virus/cold/flu for weeks! I am behind on my Countdown to Christmas, my blogging, shopping, gift-making and cleaning. However, this is a special month, filled with warmth, treats, good tidings and holiday joy.  We shall enjoy!

We saw our first "snowfall" on November 20th. Little E was so excited!  Here he is catching snowflakes on his tongue.  I have to tell you, children give a whole new meaning to each new season.  Celebrating Christmas this year is going to be totally awesome now that Little E is so much more aware of what to expect.

Last night we did a little more shopping.  Then we drove through the neighborhood to look at the lovely, lit-up houses.  Tonight, little E will get new shoes.  This weekend we plan to buy a tree, hang lights and decorate.

Cheers to this Holiday season!!!