28 November, 2010

Christmas Is Getting Closer

I wasn't sure we were going to decorate for Christmas this year, but Greg surprised me by bringing up the decorations on Thanksgiving.  We waited to put them up until today, since part of our tradition is to put in Christmas music and have some eggnog while we're putting up the tree.  I've been thoroughly enjoying the music and am *so* happy to have my decorations up.  I'm excited for our "Twelve Movies of Christmas" - that starts on the 12th, so we watch the last one on Christmas Eve.  It's a new tradition and we're still working out the finer points, but I'm excited nonetheless. 
We have some of my all-time-favorite CDs in rotation right now: Trans-Siberian Orchestra - Christmas Eve and Other Stories; Jimmy Buffet - Christmas Island; Garth Brooks - Beyond the Season; Big Bad Voodoo Daddy - Everything You Want for Christmas; Chris Isaak - Christmas; and a new album: The Brian Setzer Orchestra - Christmas Comes Alive.  There's nothing like some good tunes to get me in the Christmas spirit!  If you care to contribute (the few out there reading this), I'd be interested to know what some of your favorite Christmas artists/albums are.
Now to sit back, enjoy the lights, listen to some good music, and enjoy the eggnog.  Oh!  And try to keep the cats out of the tree (always a losing proposition, but we've got to try)...

25 November, 2010

I'm Thankful

Thanksgiving was a low-key, laid back affair for us this year.  Greg cooked breakfast while we watched the Macy's parade; talked to family; read the paper.  For dinner, we picked up a pre-done chicken breast stuffed with ham, bacon, and cheese (mmmmmmm, bacon!).  Cooked that up and had green beans and salad - tasty and no mess.  And after dinner we shoveled more than a foot of wet, heavy snow that had accumulated throughout the day, then went to visit friends for a bit.
Greg even pulled out the Christmas decorations - but I refused to put them up today (except for the door wreath), since I don't want to mix holidays.  I wasn't sure we were going to decorate this year, since the entryway to the storage was blocked and it's so much work to get everything done, only to take it all down again in a few weeks.  But I find that now I'm excited to have the Christmas music playing and get our house decked out for Christmas.  (We'll be breaking out the eggnog Sunday for the tree decorating party!!)  It will definitely be worth the effort!
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I am posting five things that I am thankful for:

1. My job.  This last year has been particularly tough and busy, but I made it through with a little help from my friends and family.  I am glad to have a job that has good benefits and is relatively stable (if I can get past the office politics and keep sane).

2. My family.  We recently took a trip Outside to see family.  It was extremely rewarding and rejuvenating for me.  I love my family, and these new memories we made are like a warming fire - a homing beacon, if you will - that will help get me through the dark, cold days.

3. My husband (although he counts in the family section too, he deserves special mention). Greg is full of enthusiasm for everything.  And when I need something special, he figures out how to give it to me.  He worked hard to help remodel my mom's house, and spent his vacation traveling with me to various locations to see my family and friends.  He's supportive of any endeavor I choose to pursue.

4. My friends.  I consider my close friends as family, since I'm so far from my own.  They offer love and support, interspersed with fun and laughter.

5. My freedom.  There are those that have paid dearly for the freedoms that I enjoy today.  I appreciate my ability to speak freely and have the means to protect myself, should the need arise.  And I'm grateful for those that have given so much so that I can enjoy these benefits.
May your holidays be filled with laughter and peace, and may you be held tight in the arms of those you love.

21 November, 2010

Life Lesson #247: It's All About Perspective

Is the glass half empty, or half full?  This is a question often asked to denote perspective.  If you answer half empty, the indication is negative - no cloud has a silver lining, doom and gloom are impending (if they haven't already arrived).  If your glass is half full, you apparently live in a bed of roses, wear rose colored glasses, find the silver lining in every cloud, and skip to work with a song on your lips.

If we apply this theory to food-related items, there are several foods that are on the fence.  My personal outlook determines whether or not I deem these foods healthy.  For example: Cheese.  Full of fat, but has protein and calcium.  And it tastes good.  Ice cream.  Full of fat and sugar, but also has calcium.  Chocolate.  An under-appreciated vegetable (the bean family) that provides many feel-good benefits when ingested.  (I just took a break from writing this blog entry to enjoy a lovely, fudgy, chocolate chip infused brownie.  Ahhh, sweet nectar!) And Bacon.  A good source of protein and energy, but oft lamented for it's high fat content.  But bacon is good with everything.  Crumble bacon in a salad; bacon and eggs; bacon and broccoli: BLT sammiches; the list goes on and on.
A while ago, I started thinking about adding bacon to my cookies.  An irregular combination to be sure, but it has potential.  The salty-sweet combination has always been a favorite of mine (chocolate covered pretzels come to mind) and bacon tastes good with everything.  It can't be too terrible, and might be fairly tasty.
A potluck at work cinched the deal.  What better arena to debut the new flavor?  I made three other flavors, just in case the bacon cookies didn't turn out, or there were people that aren't as fond of bacon as I am.  (Like dragons and unicorns, these people are mythical, but I also wanted options for the timid souls who wouldn't have courage enough to step out of the norm.)

These cookies are almost a health food.  Vegetables (the cocoa bean) with feel-good properties, TWO protein sources (eggs and bacon), dairy (butter has calcium, right?), and grain (what little nutrients there are from the unbleached flour).  How can I go wrong with a combination like that?  Of course, I made Greg try them first (since I'm one of those timid souls that often lacks courage) - and since he didn't die and even came back for more, I gave in and had one.  It's my new favorite cookie flavor - I suppose in part because of the odd looks that I get when people ask what flavor they are, but also because they are tasty!! I made my second batch of them this weekend for a friend's birthday party.  I believe the term is unqualified success.  Or something along those lines.
I choose to see my bacon glass half full of the yummy goodness that embodies bacon.  And I'll have a cookie to go with that!

Another Vending Machine

Found this one in the mall.  Will wonders never cease?

14 November, 2010

I'm So Glad...

...that there are people in the world who can do things that I can't.  I'd never make it as a construction worker - not enough patience and I don't "see" how it can be before there's anything but paper and pencil or raw materials; nor would I be a good salesman (of any kind) - I don't have the ability to walk up to people and find out what they need, then tailor something (a product offering or change their needs) to fit the bill; I especially would not succeed as an author - not enough patience to put my stories onto paper (and they only really sound good in my mind anyway).

But I am grateful that there are people in the world who are suited to do the things I am not.  I am glad that I have a well-built house to live in, and that my husband comes up with ideas for remodeling and does most of the work to make it happen.  It makes our house look nice and feel comfortable.  I appreciate a really good salesman (or woman) - the kind that's not pushy, but can help me better define what I'm looking for and then helps me get just that at the best value.  The kind of salesman that makes me feel like they're really interested in my concerns, and not just making a sale.  And I always enjoy curling up to read a book.  It's my escape from the grind and a way to recharge and be ready to tackle more real life.

I that vein, I present the medical field in general and my sister, the doctor, in particular.  No way in heaven would I be fit or able to be a nurse or doctor.  M has been a nurse and is now a doctor.  She has compassion combined with great integrity, and something else that's just part of who she is, and this combination creates something magical that I will most assuredly never attain.  But I'm glad it's there; I'm awestruck that there are people who can do what doctors and nurses do - and actually thrive in that environment; and I'm hopeful that should I ever be in need, I will find someone like that to help me.

An excerpt from a recent obituary (italics and bold are my own addition):  The family wished to express their gratitude to Dr. Tso, Dr. Breeden, and all the caring SJRMC 4th floor doctors and nursing staff for their kindness and care.  A special thank you to Dr. Amy Plagge for allowing our loved one to pass with grace, respect and dignity.
I know this post is not about me or happenings around me. I just wanted to share. I'm proud for M. I'm proud of M. And she would never post anything about this, but I'm glad she shared it with me. She's a damn fine doctor. I'm glad that there are people like her in the world, and I'm especially glad that M is part of my world.

01 November, 2010

Vacation - Wrap Up

We're home again.  To my dismay.  It's *cold* here.  And when it's sunny, it's even colder!  I find that I liked having warm weather in October.  And I definitely liked our road trip.  But the best part (I mean The.Best.Part.) of the trip was being able to spend time with so many friends and family.  It's going to be a tough adjustment for me to get used to being so far away and disconnected again.
We were able to stop at mom's house before heading to the airport.  Nice to see her and Dave one more time and as a side benefit, we got to see the finished remodel project.  Carpet's in and furniture is starting to re-populate the rooms.  I really, really like the end results.  The colors are beautiful, and it looks so comfortable.  I really hope mom and Dave enjoy the fruits of our family labor.  It was well worth it!
And now we've come to the end of another vacation.  It's lovely to sleep in my own bed.  But I already miss the nice weather and being around my family.  Maybe someday...