March 2017

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Friday, November 30, 2012

Never Say Never

It's tough to get detailed
shots of a Christmas tree,
but at least you can see
how thick it is with lights.
If you read or reread yesterday's post, you'll find I didn't say I would never get a big tree, again.  I've lived long enough to know better than to ever use 'never' or 'always'.

Last night, hubby brought home the Light Keeper Pro.  The good news is it works.  The bad news is it confirmed there's a wiring problem with our little five-foot tree, which is why the bottom lights no longer work.  So, after dinner, we went shopping for a new Christmas tree for the second year in a row.
There used to be a wet bar
where the tree sits.  We ripped
it out years ago.

We were both attracted to the 7.5-foot Martha Stewart Paley tree at Home Depot.  It's possibly the biggest tree we've every had, but it fits our Christmas tree spot and looks very nice.  And, after replacing two smaller trees in two years, I think we were both ready to try something new.

I spent most of today dressing the new tree and cleaning up afterward.  But I was home for the second day this week, anyway, taking care of my sick 6-year-old grandson.

However, I'm now more than ready to move on to a new project. But, without a doubt, I'll be praying daily from now through the holidays that our newest tree has no lighting problems!


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Christmas Tree Frustration

Sometime yesterday afternoon, the bottom string of lights on our pre-lit tree went out.  To say I'm annoyed is an understatement. Last year, after fully decorating our 5-year-old tree, the lights went out and we ended up having to buy a new tree.  That means I dressed, undressed, and dressed a Christmas tree all in one week.  Not my idea of fun and something I definitely don't want to do, again, this year.

When hubby got home, we replaced fuses and several bulbs and all the lights worked again, for a few minutes.  I finally just went to bed thoroughly disgusted.  But, since I couldn't fall asleep right away, I did some web research and found the Light Keeper Pro. The reviews on Amazon are fantastic and, for just $20, we figure it's worth a try.

Because our cat is now living in the basement (another story), I had thought about getting a taller tree this year.  But then I remembered how much easier it is to decorate a five-foot tree.  Now I'm even more sold on smaller trees.  If I was facing the possibility of having to undress and dress an eight-footer all within a week, I would be in tears right now!


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

New Food Plan

Today was a disturbing and enlightening day.  It began with the freezer in the refrigerator downstairs and ended with the kitchen pantry.  I'm embarrassed to say I uncovered three pounds of ground beef, a whole turkey, three pounds of brown sugar, and two boxes of cake mix that had to be trashed.  The meat and cake mix were well past their expire dates, and the brown sugar was rock solid.

From this day forward, I'm going to stop stockpiling food.  I don't care how tempting the sale, it obviously doesn't save money if I end up throwing food away.  Plus, without excess inventory, I'll be able to more easily see what I have.  With this new commitment, I'm feeling much better.


Sunday, November 25, 2012

Movie Review

Bravo, Ben Affleck!
This afternoon we saw Affleck's latest film, Argo, based on a true story. Affleck directed and played the lead character.  He still may be just an average actor, but Affleck has definitely become an accomplished director, proving himself with Town, Gone Baby Gone, and now Argo.

Argo was excellent and the third film in a row I highly recommend, along with Skyfall and Lincoln.  Best of all, none included gory bloody scenes or unnecessary profanity.  And each gave me what I want most from a film, a two-to-three hour escape from reality.

Next up, Life of Pi, which I've been eagerly waiting to see on the big screen since reading the book several years ago.  Entertainment Weekly gives it 4.5 stars out of five, so my hopes are high that our streak will continue!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Remembering Thanksgiving 2012

Yesterday was possibly the best Thanksgiving I've ever had.  I refused to get stressed about anything, especially the food.  Trimming the menu down to just six items really helped.  Every dish turned out perfect, including the gravy, which is always my biggest concern.

I still find it sad that Thanksgiving gets less attention every year.  So, before I'm fully consumed with Christmas preparations, here are some of my favorite memories from yesterday.

A tradition Elliott started two years ago, building the entire
Lego Advent Calendar on Thanksgiving day.
Jonah helping grandma make whipped cream
for the pumpkin pies.
Jonah talking to Uncle Dan and Aunt Ann,
using FaceTime on Grandma's phone.
The perfect end to a perfect Thanksgiving,
watching monster truck videos with Papa.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Our Cub Scout

Love that face!
Elliott recently completed the Bobcat Trail as the first step on his Cub Scouting adventure.  Making it official, he received the Bobcat Badge at last Friday's ceremony.

Elliott absolutely loves everything about scouting, especially the uniform!  It's wonderful seeing his excitement and passion about something that doesn't involve a screen.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

"Bunches and Bunches!"

"How much does grandma love you?"

"Bunches and bunches!"

I taught Elliott the above when he was around three and a half.  Because Jonah is an above-average 32-month-old, however, I decided to see if he would catch on sooner. 

So, last Tuesday, I started teaching Jonah the "grandma code."  As I fully expected, he caught on quickly.  When I put Jonah down for his nap today, he responded to, "How much does grandma love you?" with a clear "Bunches and bunches!"  It absolutely warmed my heart.  I love being a grandma!



Monday, November 19, 2012

Thanksgiving Simplified

I'm simplifying Thanksgiving this year.  We're having turkey breast, dressing with butternut squash and leeks, cranberry conserve, store-bought dinner rolls, French string beans, and pumpkin pie with whipped cream.  I've eliminated pumpkin soup, creamed corn, and mashed potatoes.  And I've replaced a whole turkey with an 8-pound turkey breast, which will be much easier to handle and quicker to cook.

I started this year determined to not take on more than I could easily handle.  That turned out to be a good goal, because things out of my control have tested my sanity and patience all year long!

But I am in control of our Thanksgiving meal and see no reason to overdo it.  This year, it just will be my daughter's family of four, which includes a six-year-old and two-year-old, and hubby and me.  My daughter's on a special diet and her husband's a picky eater. Neither of them are big eaters.  And the boys will only be interested in the dinner rolls and pie.

While this year's menu will be smaller, however, I have no doubt the food will be good and no one will leave hungry.  Best of all, cleanup will be a snap!


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Movie Review

Speilberg does it again.  Lincoln is an excellent movie with several outstanding performances.

In an interview, Speilberg said he would not have made Lincoln without Daniel Day-Lewis.  I completely understand.  I can't think of any other seasoned actor who could have done the job Day-Lewis did.

Other notable performances were Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln and James Spader as W. N. Bilbo.  There were several scenes where Field stole the show.  Hard to believe she once played a flying nun!

Spader also keeps improving with age.  It's probably maturity and experience, but I enjoy Spader more since he gained weight.  Reminds me of Philip Seymour Hoffman.  It seems Spader and Hoffman both have done their best work at their heaviest.

Before last weekend, we hadn't been to the movie theater in many months.  After Skyfall last weekend and Lincoln today, however, I'm hooked again.  Next up, Argo.


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Room by Room

I spent most of yesterday and this morning cleaning out the home office.  It started with moving all the business 2012 papers into a banker's box.  From there, one thing quickly led to another and, before I knew it, I had shredded enough papers to fill five tall kitchen trash bags!

I still have a few files to go through, but they'll have to wait until after the holidays.  But the home office is now clutter free and looks so nice.

This afternoon I'm cleaning and setting up the dining room for Thanksgiving.  I never look forward to cleaning, but, once I get started, I do enjoy the adrenaline rush!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Preparing for Thanksgiving

I just can't wrap my brain around the fact Thanksgiving is next week.  I know we've been busy, but I think the main problem is there's only three weeks between Halloween and Thanksgiving this year.  That tight schedule on top of retailers extending the Christmas shopping season into most of November has really given Thanksgiving the "short end of the stick" this year.

But today I found out dad is having Thanksgiving with my brother's family this year.  That takes the stress of preparing and serving our meal down a notch.  I now only have to work with two schedules, ours and my daughter's.

In Jim's new position with St. Louis County Parks, he'll be driving the County float in the Ameren Missouri Thanksgiving Parade in downtown St. Louis this year.  The grandsons, of course, are extremely excited about this new addition to our holiday.  The parade starts at 8:45 A.M. and I have no idea when it's over.  But I feel certain Jonah will be ready for a nap afterward.

Therefore, instead of our regular 1:00 P.M. Thanksgiving meal, I think this year we're looking at 3:00 P.M.  But, since I cook everything the day before, I only need an hour's notice to put the meal on the table, so I can be flexible.

But I do need to finalize the menu and get the shopping done before next Tuesday.  Time to watch a lot of FoodNetwork to get me in the mood!


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Movie Review

Today we saw the latest James Bond movie, Skyfall.  In my opinion, it's the best 007 movie to date.

Because hubby's a big James Bond fan, I've sat through many of the films in the franchise more than once.  And, each time, the only thing I really enjoy is seeing the location.

Skyfall is different.  It still includes several ridiculous stunts and scenarios typical of 007 movies.  But what sets it apart is how it shows Bond as more human than superhuman.  In Skyfall, we finally find out how Bond came to be and get a peek at his life before becoming a secret agent.

Overall, Skyfall is good entertainment.  And getting to watch Daniel Craig for 2.5 hours is just "icing on the cake!"

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Let the Holidays Begin!

Today we took our oldest grandson, Elliott, to the Peabody Opera House to see the Rockettes's Christmas Spectacular.  It was a rare treat.  I'm not aware the Rockettes, as we know them, have ever included St. Louis on any of their tours.  Even though, according to Wikipedia, the group was founded in St. Louis!

The last time I saw the Rockettes was in 1969 during my high school senior trip to New York City. However, I didn't really see them then because I fell asleep.  It was a fast-paced packed trip and I was a teenager who needed a lot of sleep.  I, along with many others, took advantage of the dark theater for a much needed nap.

But today I enjoyed the Rockettes's entire performance with eyes wide open. Professional dancers always amaze me, and each of the many different sets were, in a word, spectacular.  It was a great performance!

Elliott outside the St. Louis Peabody Opera House.

(FYI, more images have been added to DGPaperdesigns.)


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Will It Ever End?

Nearly two months ago, the city started installing sidewalks on our side of the street. Then, three weeks ago, they began the process of repaving our street.  The sidewalk work, which took place during the day, is nearly finished.  Primarily, all that's left is landscape repair.  But, honestly, it's probably too late in the year to lay sod.

The street work took place between 8:00 P.M. and 5:00 A.M.  The first step was shaving four inches off the existing pavement.  The sound was horrendous and, needless to say, a lot of sleep was lost.  This week, the new asphalt was poured and smoothed.  Again, this all took place late at night.  But this step was not only noisy, it shook the entire house!

It appears to me the only thing left to do is paint a center line.  And I fully expect that will also happen late at night.  I am beyond sick of it all and want my quiet neighborhood back.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Land of the Selfish and Clueless

For me, yesterday's election result confirmed that at least fifty percent of Americans are selfish and clueless.  Help me. . .take care of me. . .blah, blah, blah.  And, sadly, I encounter that mentality within my own family on a daily basis.

Today I'm feeling sad for my children and grandchildren.  Future generations will pay a hefty price for what unfolds during the next four years.  America will change drastically, and not for the better.

My children, however, should be feeling grateful we sold the business before B.O. increases the capital gains tax.  I suppose I should feel good about that, too.  But, for at least today, I just can't get past feeling extremely sad.



Tuesday, November 6, 2012

I Voted!

Voting in the United States is still so frustrating.  I arrived at our poll at 8:30 A.M. and found no line. That is until I moved to the touch-screen area where I joined an extremely slow-moving queue.  And that's when I noticed there were nine paper stations and only three touch-screen stations.  But that was only part of the problem.

It boggles the mind that most people show up at the polls not familiar with the ballot.  If everyone would simply familiarize themselves beforehand, we all could vote in relatively no time at all.

I stood in line for 20 minutes and, during that time, touch-screen voters were taking an average of five full minutes to cast their votes.  But, because I reviewed the online sample ballot over the weekend, it took me barely a minute.

It's so ridiculous that, in the future, I'll seriously consider submitting an absentee ballot well in advance of election day.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Hello Long Nights!

I know I'm in the minority, but I love it when it starts to get dark around 5:00 P.M.  To me, it means more cozy evening time in my home, and a good excuse to put on pajamas by 7:00 P.M.

Before motherhood, I was always a night person.  But I haven't been able to stay up until the early morning hours for years.   So, I love that, this time of year, I can get my long nights, again, between 5:00 P.M. and 11:00 P.M.

Whatever the reason, next to fall, this is one of my favorite times of year and I'm glad it's back :)



Friday, November 2, 2012

All's Well That Ends Well

Yesterday we signed the papers and today the money was wired to our checking account. After nearly 25 years, we are no longer small business owners.

I've been happy about the decision from the beginning, but I did experience a little anxiety just before the meeting at our lawyer's office yesterday afternoon.  It was similar to how I felt when each of my children went off to college, and when my son moved to South Korea.  It makes perfect sense.  After all, we have been growing a small business for the past 2.5 decades.  And, as with our children, we are proud of our success.

But, today, I'm feeling giddily happy.  Seeing the money in our account this morning was the turning point.  For the first time in our lives, retirement within just a few years is possible.