It’s not that I haven’t been thankful since before Thanksgiving, but that holidays and other things have gotten in the way of making a public list. But, seeing as how it’s the last day of 2009, I thought I’d write up a little list of all the ways I’ve been blessed in 2009.
- We bought a house! We sold our townhouse! We love our house (even last night, as I vacuumed a millipede skeleton out of a door frame), and are so happy that it’s ours.
- I was caffeine-free for all of 2009. That seems like a major accomplishment. (Patting myself on the back now.)
- Good times, though they were few and far between, with friends. Lots of baking, some shopping, and a skosh of drinking.
- Two cats who are now friendly enough to snuggle together.
- Not one but two trips home to visit family in Chicago, and for the time spent and memories made with my grandparents. Also, I’m very thankful that grandpa, at 96, is still completely connected to reality and has most of his faculties.
- I had a few opportunities to do things for others that completely made their days, and I’m grateful for the opportunity (and the resources) to have been able to do so.
- A new sewing machine. Bliss!
- I didn’t gain any weight in 2009. I didn’t lose any, but I didn’t gain either, so I’ll be thankful for that.
- came into our lives in March, and he’s a totally different experience from his brother, . Both of my nephews have enriched my life in ways I can’t explain.
- My piano.
- Job security for both and myself, and all that it has enabled us to do. I’m thankful for the dishwasher, the wine cellar, the washer and dryer, the groceries, the random house projects….
- I read lots of good books this year.
- I was also able to participate in a few quilt swaps, and those were a lot of fun (and brought many pretty things into our house).
- An A in all four classes I took this year. I don’t think I stressed out too much about school, though at times it was quite busy and there was a lot to do. has really been wonderful at taking up the slack when I’m bogged down with school.
- I kept my allergies under control for most of 2009 (except for the addition of some sinus allergies in the spring, which my doctor quickly diagnosed and fixed). I like not itching.
- Social networking/media has been something I’ve gotten into this year as well. I’ve been blogging since 2003-ish, but never got more involved than that. I enjoy the new things that Twitter and blogs have opened up for me, and the people I’ve been able to reconnect with through Facebook.
- I’m actually (not at all modestly) quite thankful for my blog redesign, while we’re on the subject. I love the new look!
- I’m thankful for all of my friends, for my family, and the other people who make daily life better just by being in it.
- 2010 has a lot of potential, and that’s exciting.
It’s supposed to get very cold tonight. Boo, I say, boo! We will be staying in tonight, as usual. (Perhaps half a dozen times in my life have I had New Year’s Eve plans that took place out of the house. Four of those were youth group things.) I’m hoping to stay up all the way to midnight and share some sparkling wine with in my new champagne glasses (a stocking stuffer* from ), but who knows. The only way I managed to get out of bed this morning was to remind myself that I don’t have to wake up before noon tomorrow.
Of course, I will wake up before noon, but it certainly won’t be at 5:45. is supposed to come over and we’re baking cookies. Or perhaps just making cookie dough. Maybe some of both. I’m toying with the idea of making up a few different batches of cookie dough and freezing it for use later. Seems prudent.
Prudent is the word of the day, don’t you know. called earlier (from Ikea, no less – remember, it’s a 5 minute drive from our house) to check in on my color preference for some shelving/trim, and I said that white was prudent. (I actually meant it, you know, but it sounded funny.)
It was also prudent that I stop playing around in Access. Four hours is enough for one day, and I’ve hit a wall. You don’t even want to know what I’m trying to do, but let me say this: yesterday and today I have totally rocked Access.
We’ll see if I get motivated to come up with any 2010 goals. Right now I’m not even feeling up to wrapping up 2009, and it was a pretty darn good year. Playing in Access (whilst everyone else gallivants around town, because no one else has to work) is tiring. (In between those brief moments of the sheer exhilaration of success are long periods of staring at the computer, thinking, and Googling possible solutions, which is very draining.)
It’s only going to get colder here in Minnesota as we welcome in the New Year. And here I was hoping it’d bring sunshine and rainbows. Guess I should be living in southern California for that. Have a great [long] weekend!
*They’re from Ikea. He assures me that the set of 6 set him back just a couple of dollars. Didn’t want you thinking the wrong thing there.
The NYTimes had an article recently (which I just found in some roundabout way that I don’t even remember) about generic versus name brand prescriptions (go ahead, pop over and read it). I was only half-interested until I got halfway down the first page and saw that my name brand / generic (in the exact dosage) was specifically mentioned as one that people complain about.
I’ve switched back and forth between the generic budeprioin/bupropion and the name brand Wellbutrin, as well as trying out different dosages and the one-a-day versus multiple doses a day over the last five or six years. The glory days back when we could mail-order name brands from Canada for free, but those days are long gone. I had no worries about switching from the name brand to the generic because I figured they were the same (and they are, if you put quotes around same). However, a while after the switch (depression medications take an incredibly long time to work properly, 6 weeks to 6 months – the brain is an amazing thing, but easily changeable it is not), I noticed that I was more tired than I used to be. It took me quite some time to trace it back to the switch to generic, but I did.
I was pretty certain that this wasn’t just a mind game, since I hadn’t thought there would be a difference between the two. But, doubt had crept in a bit about this. So imagine the feeling of validation I got when I got to this section:
Yet, after hundreds of consumers posted messages about problems with the generic drug Budeprion XL 300 on the People’s Pharmacy Web site, Mr. Graedon worked with an independent laboratory, ConsumerLab.com, to test the drug, which in other generic versions is typically known as bupropion.
The lab found that Budeprion XL 300 released the active drug at a different rate than the brand name Wellbutrin XL 300.
I’m not the only one! Well, of course I wasn’t, but I don’t have anyone to compare notes with. My doctor and I did figure out a decent solution (switching to the two a day instead of timed-release), but I have to say it’s still not as good as the name brand. Sigh. (As a sidenote, I take 150 2x a day, compared to 300 once a day. I’ve tried doing the 150 3x a day, and I actually end up more tired, because I sleep so lightly on that dosage that I don’t get a decent night’s sleep. Bummer.) However, it works well enough to not be tempted to pay the out-of-pocket price for name brand (which is… ouch! painful).
I’m super-cool with generics on most things. I like to be cheap. (I almost wrote that I like to save money, but I don’t think that’s as accurate a statement.) Some name brand items are preferred simply because that’s what I’m familiar with (like Frosted Mini Wheats), or it’s what works best (like Advil Liqui-Gels).
The NYTimes article ended rather abruptly, and awkwardly, just like this post will (most likely because in both instances, the author couldn’t figure out how to wrap things up nicely).
Christmas Eve was spent at Grandma and Grandpa's house, which is the only thing to do if you're in Illinois for the holiday. As is our new tradition, Grandma and Grandpa got all the gifts (the rest of us got $).
Grandpa gets bored sometimes and sorts through old photos. He passed around a box that held this gem in it. That's Dad there on the right, at the age of 4, with his big sister. Isn't it darling? Later Dad let me take some oldies that he had, and I'll share those sometime this week or next week.
Christmas day was spent with Dad and Candy (and Candy's mom, and the 4 dogs). Dad got a power cord, and was particularly thrilled about it.
Shimmer (I finally learned how to tell the two look-alike dogs apart!) made herself a next of wrapping paper.
Last night, we went to Mom's to exchange gifts. Upon walking in to the house, everyone realized that Alison and I were wearing the same sweater/scarf set, which we had received from Dad.
Grant liked his alphabet shirt (link below) so much that he ripped off his clothes to put it on. Then there was the obligatory picture-taking. Probably the only year that he'll think clothing is a cool gift, but I'll take it. (He had a hard time locating the "g" however, because it's in lower case on the shirt, and he only knows his upper case letters. Oops.)
The shirt is from my little deer (local to Minnesotans).
Joey fell asleep in Mom's arms while she was wearing her cuddly new robe. Her fiance, Jim, makes his first appearance here on this blog in this pic.
As cool as the matchbox cars, Batmobile, and all of Joey's toys were to Grant ("mine!"), he was greatly entertained by a box. He pulled the wrapping paper off of one present and shouted, "It's a box!" He was so happy. Who needs Toys R Us?
I’m not feeling particularly bloggy. Perhaps it’s because Google Reader has several hundred blog posts from Tuesday evening to present. Perhaps it’s because random things have made me a bit of a grouch today. Perhaps it’s because a headache is in my forecast. Or, perhaps it’s because I don’t have any Caramel Nut Clusters to help me cope with life. Whatever.
However, I did have an amazingly lovely and wonderful Christmas. We drove down to Chicago on Wednesday – it took nearly 10 hours, which included some longer stops, and while the weather slowed us down, it wasn’t actually all that bad. Just a few cars in the ditch (4, I think), which is pretty remarkable. Christmas Eve was perfect, as was Christmas Day. took pictures for me at both events, so maybe I’ll share. and were thrilled that we spent the holiday with them (seriously, we probably could have gotten away with not bringing a gift, though the one we brought was the best gift ever, and much loved). Grandma and Grandpa were both in great moods on Christmas Eve. We had to leave earlier than preferred on Saturday to try to outrun the storm (which had started overnight, so we didn’t get to say goodbye to because he was already out plowing parking lots), a task at which we were successful. After we hit Madison, the snow stopped and we even saw blue skies and sunlight for a while! We returned home expecting to spend the next hour or so shoveling out our driveway in order to even get my car near the house, but found instead that ‘s dad had shoveled for us! So instead, we loved up on the cats and exchanged gifts between the two of us.
Tonight is the last of the scheduled Christmas celebrations, with and & Co. The decorations are staying up for a bit longer, and I might see how many batches of cookies I can make up this week. I got new cookie sheets from and am excited to use them.
The afore-mentioned headache has finally arrived, so I will bid you adieu until I am in a better frame of mind.
I’m going to be honest. The thought of not going home to Chicago for Christmas this year makes me want to cry. There is a “huge” weather system on its way here, though reports vary wildly as to when and where and how much. All I’m asking for is that it not hit the Twin Cities until Wednesday afternoon (because we’re leaving before lunch).
That's a reasonable request, right?
I know, we were just there in September, and if I get my Christmas wish there will be many more years of celebrating with my grandparents. We would do just fine to stay at home and exchange gifts and laze about, if need be (though we’d have to brave the weather to buy some food, or risk eating frozen pizza for days on end). I would rather not, though. Also, I would rather not ship the gifts we’ve bought (including the previously mentioned one to and that weighs a ton).
Ornaments. I'll ship ornaments.
My first winter living in Minnesota (2001, I moved here on December 1), there was a huge snowstorm the day I drove home to Illinois for Christmas (back then, both my parents were living there, and was still in college, so she was probably home too). It took forever, driving slowly down the highway behind a snow plow, trying very hard to be patient and not scoot around (because my car would not have handled that well). says that when we went home two years ago for Christmas we had bad weather, but I can’t remember that, and have no blog references to it.
I'm sure he's right. I just don't remember it.
I’m staging a protest.
How about, "every time a bell rings, someone arrives safely at their holiday destination." Ring on!
Maybe Santa could leave some snow tires under the tree for us (I don’t even care which car – I think has most of a set for his), or a transporter so we can avoid the snow altogether. (Not being a Minnesota native, I don’t actually know anything about snow tires, nor have I ever really given them a second thought. I’m not really asking for them. The transporter would be nice, though.)
We have enough firewood to last through the long weekend, if necessary.
OK. I didn’t intend to be so whiny. Christmas will be wonderful, wherever we end up spending it, regardless of what we eat or who we’re with or what we receive. I love Christmas, I really do, and one little snowstorm can’t change that.
from me... to you. Merry Christmas!
(What this blog post has to do with the pictures I’ve included.)
I’m not sure if this is a universal reaction or not (because I respond strangely to cold medication), but you know that feeling you get after taking a dose of OTC cold/cough/flu medicine, that strong compulsion to go to sleep? I’m totally experiencing that right now (thankfully without the fuzzy/lightheadedness that usually accompanies it). The thing is, I haven’t taken anything today. And I didn’t really stay up that late last night, so I’m not sure what’s going on. I am thankful that it’s my last day of work this week. We’re supposed to drive down to Chicago tomorrow. There is a snowstorm that is threatening those plans, so who knows what will end up happening.
Here's what we're giving Dad and Candy this year. They are dog people, and even though their dogs aren't white, I thought they'd think these were cute. I avoided getting the matching place mats and napkins and substituted the snowmen, you know, for variety. Table setting for 6 (desert pates and mugs, place mats and napkins), an ornament, and some kitchen stuff.
The weekend before last, we went to Sam's Club and bought a whole bunch of stuff that we can actually store now that we have a freezer. For example, this 10 pound tube of hamburger. Prince Charming divided it up into 1/4 pound segments and pressed them into patties, which we then froze in 4-patty sets. Very convenient. (There was also an 8-pound hunk of rib eye that I cut up into a roast and four very large steaks.)
Also at Sam's, this container of mixed greens, my favorite kind of blend. Do you see how big that container is? Our plates/bowls are huge, so I kept the light switch in for perspective. We're never going to finish this before it goes bad, even though I've been eating a lot of salad. I think we're going to bring it with us to Chicago, because we're only halfway through and we'll be gone for four days. Still, even if we don't eat all of it, it was a fabulous deal on what is normally pretty expensive.
Last night, with a few exceptions, we got all of our Christmas presents wrapped up. (We didn’t wrap our gifts to each other, and I think there’s one more thing I want to get .) New rules for next year: 1) No spending an hour and a half sitting on the floor wrapping gifts. My back hurts. 2) Since I live by two of the most horrendous (read: gigantic) malls in the metro area (Southdale and the MOA), I really need to get presents purchased long before having to deal with those crowds. It was not fun.
That aside, I feel like Christmas is coming along just fine. Oh, sure, I don’t have gifts for and just yet, but they don’t seem to mind doing Christmas in January. And yes, weatherpeople are not sure if there’s going to be a big snowstorm on Wednesday while we drive to Chicago. Oh, and I keep forgetting to get a Christmas gift for my grandparents. BUT, still, I’m feeling good about things. It probably helps that we don’t have kids*, but between and myself we have four sets of parents to arrange. I started thinking this weekend that the person who wrote “The Twelve Days of Christmas” had a huge extended family and lots of Christmas gatherings, because that’s how it starts to go. (I’m not complaining, really. I love all of our family, and have had a wonderful time so far, and am really not stressed about any of it.) Thursday we had Christmas lunch with ‘s dad. Saturday evening we had ‘s mom and her husband over for Christmas dinner. Wednesday we leave for Chicago to celebrate with and , which includes Christmas Eve dinner at my grandparents’ house. We return on Saturday, and will probably exchange gifts then (because we’re certainly not taking them to Chicago with us). Then on Monday night, we’re doing Christmas with and & Co. And then, of course, there’s the as-of-yet unscheduled gift exchange with and .
I did complain on Facebook earlier today that I haven’t made any Christmas cookies yet. I am bummed about that. I’m also bummed that while I have a bunch of Christmas fabric that I bought last year, this year, or found in storage, I have yet to make a single thing with any of it. That makes me sad. Who wants to bet that, despite my best intentions, I will have no desire to make a new tree skirt on January 3rd? Yeah. And then I won’t remember it until next November. It’s times like this that I wish I didn’t have to “waste the day away” at work. I mean, who wants to answer phones and doctor up Word files when I could be at home baking cookies and sewing? Not me, that’s for sure. But, I don’t actually want to burn all of my vacation over Christmas.
Question for the comments: if you had enough time to bake exactly one batch of [Christmas] cookies, what kind would you make? I’m leaning toward something gingerbread-y.
*Sidenote: I gave blood today. The experience re-inforced, and perhaps strengthened, my fear of childbirth.
- Interest :: Piqued
- Chase :: Car
- Itch :: Scratch
- Soothe :: Lotion
- Lamp :: Shade
- Tutor :: Student
- Nicole :: Anna
- Sloth :: -ful
- Burn :: Victim
- Bug :: Virus
I’m thinking about taking up drinking.
The following is probably not something I should say on a blog that could potentially be seen by my employer, but I don’t think I care at this exact moment (perhaps I’m experiencing a lapse in judgment right now): Drinking would make my current project much more enjoyable. Wait, no. Would make it tolerable. Might make it so that I don’t mouth off to the next manager who comes by. I’d have to make sure I drink something that doesn’t give me loose lips, though (like wine does).
In related news, I still have heard absolutely nothing from my advisor regarding my application to the program, and cannot register for classes. I would like to be done with all of it, please (“it” being this “temporary” job of mine and the education I am pursuing), and start the next phase of life.
I am, temporarily, incredibly jealous of , who finished up nursing school today. Way to go!
- No, we will NOT be having an enjoyable day.
- We don’t have an at the old kitchen table.
- I watched the steam rising from the hot cup of coffee (or tea) and thought: wouldn’t it be nice to stay in bed, warm, snuggly, and relaxed?.
- People keep telling me it going to be okay. I’m hesitant to believe them.
- I’ll take one of everything, thanks.
- Yesterday was quite productive, at least from my point of view.
- And as for the weekend, tonight I’m looking forward to congratulating on graduating (and welcoming her into a new decade of life), tomorrow my plans include making Christmas dinner and Sunday, I want to be done with Christmas shopping (too much to ask for?)!
I’m home sick today, and thanks to technology, I’m lying in bed, writing from my iPhone. I’m not terribly sick – just an annoying cold – but very tired, and had a headache this morning. It’s always a hard decision fore to stay home sick, but today it came down to the fact that in similar situations, when I’ve chosen to go to work, I always end up regretting it (though it does mean I have almost three months of sick leave built up). And so here I am. I think it’s time for breakfast. And then maybe a nap.
I just tried a Yoplait Delights parfait and it was heavenly. I don’t particularly love yogurt, but I eat it because it’s vaguely healthy (or, at least, it can be healthy) – something about probiotics or whatever. I was at the grocery store this weekend picking up food for ‘s party, and saw a 4-pack in the refrigerated section, and thought I’d give them a try. I had the lemon one, and it is fabulous. And… only 100 calories. I don’t know how they did that last part. I think, really, that they’re lying about it. Must be 250 calories. There is very clearly the yummy taste of fat in there.
[Editor's note: I'm eating lunch right now, and hungry, and so, well, this whole post might be food related.]
The dish I made for ‘s birthday party (he turned 3) was a huge hit, so I’m going to share it with you. I got it off an iPhone app, but you really don’t need a recipe, per se.
Green Beans with Bacon
Chop up some bacon. Cook until crispy. Remove bacon from pan, and remove most of the grease (save a tablespoon or two). Add some garlic and red pepper flakes to the pan, and once they smell delicious, add frozen green beans. (I’m sure you could use regular green beans, but those are not to be found in these parts right now.) Stir-fry until crisp-tender. Add the bacon bits back in, stir together, and voila!
If you use thick-cut pepper bacon, you might want to ease up on the red pepper flakes. It was hot. But still yummy. Several people requested the recipe, including my brother-in-law, who does not eat vegetables.
So…. Got some sewing done this weekend. Did not clean house or take care of the fish tank, or even trade out my summer clothes for my winter ones. We did, however, go to Sam’s Club and now our freezer (and parts of our fridge) is full. I will have to take a picture of the log of ground beef in the fridge right now. It almost doesn’t fit.
had a very busy weekend, and I did not see him very much. That’s how it is sometimes. But that was quality time we spent at Sam’s.
I am desperately in need of some turtlenecks, which I despise (that being the reason I don’t own any normal turtlenecks – apparently sweater turtlenecks don’t bother me). However, I have at least one sweater that I need a turtleneck for – it’s one my made decades ago, and my skin is now irritated by the wool. One little layer would solve that. Is there any such thing as a non-nerdy turtleneck? They remind me of junior high, and I always feel so… prim and proper, but in a bad way, while wearing one.
To leave you with some more food thoughts, I have perfected my salad dressing of the moment. We got a huge container of mixed greens at Sam’s (really, very huge – we’ll have to eat salad every day, and even then some of it might go to waste, but it’s so much better than the crap we’ve been getting from our grocery delivery service). Lately, I’ve been doing an impromptu salad dressing, just pouring on some white wine vinegar and extra-virgin olive oil, sprinkling on some salt and fresh-cracked pepper.
A few weeks ago I had some roasted pecans left over from making fudge, and those were a tasty addition. However, the piece de resistance? Sweet roasted pecans. Chop, stir in melted butter and some sugar, and then roast (400* in the toaster oven for 4-6 minutes, but watch very carefully because they burn easily, and this I know from experience). Sprinkled on my salad, it is just… wonderful.
Of course, if the thought of a forkful of lettuce sprinkled with vinegar makes you gag, I suppose you could mix it all up in a little bowl with a whisk before pouring on the lettuce. Once I used our immersion blender, which made quick work of it.
So, there you go. A mostly food post. And now, I must finish this leftover pepperoni pizza.
I was hard at work last weekend and Monday through Wednesday evenings working on the ornaments for a swap (that should have been in the mail on Monday, of which I am not proud). They went off in the mail yesterday, and should be arriving at their destinations early next week (except for the two that went to Australia and New Zealand – those might take longer).
From top to bottom: Bell with garland, two bells, candy cane, and trumpet (or horn?)
From left to right: boy singing in choir, snowman, and girl angel
From left to right: stocking, holly and berries, and Christmas tree
That last one there is mine. I had to make up ten, and accidentally made up 11. (Yes, I know if you count up the pictures, there are only ten. I forgot to take a picture of one of them before sealing up the envelope. You’ll have to trust me.) The last one, the tree, was my favorite, and was much more detailed (and therefor took a lot more time) than any of the others.
I used some fabric that I’d salvaged from a pair of pants made me back when I worked in San Francisco (in 1999). I used 1 section, out of four, so I have lots left. The backing (a green Christmas print with horns, quite similar to #4 above) came from a stash of Christmas fabric I bought ages ago, before I knew that fabric could be cool. Maybe one of these days I’ll share my bad taste in fabric of the past. The ribbon, floss, and stuffing (bamboo filler) all came from stash, so I actually didn’t have to spend any money, just time. And time, they took.
My favorite part? The ones with white floss? It glows in the dark! So much fun!
Once I’ve received my ten I’ll have to share pictures of what I received in exchange.
Some things I’ve bookmarked recently:
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