Welcome to my coffee shop in the cyber neighborhood!

Yes, I’ve been gone a while…a long while. I’ve had some other physical and subsequent mental issues. I don’t really want to talk about them. It enhances the stress and potential depression. I read an article that explains the MIA from blogging probably better than I could.

Isolation: When Our Disease Makes Us Withdraw

So whether it’s starting over or
just continuing like I was never gone…

Welcome to my coffee shop in Cyber Space
Try the pumpkin spice scones!

Contact Nani at

Monday, December 31, 2012

366th Day

Welcome to the last day of this leap year! I’ll be back with my 2013 projects and goals later, but for now I’m joining Heather from Acting Balanced and Wayne for Touristic for one last Monday Quiz About Me in 2012!

1. What New Year’s resolution could you make that you know would break in less than a week.

If I was ever silly enough to think I’d give up chocolate as part of my January detox figuring it would be better for my health and wellness. I prefer to set a small daily chocolate requirement. I can portion control with will power, but give it up? NEVER! I wouldn’t last a day if I made giving up chocolate a resolution.

2. How many of the lyrics of Auld Lang Syne do you actually know?


“Should old acquaintance be forgot…”

I make it a point to be too busy kissing at midnight to sing. (And I mean happy kisses, even with strangers at a party, not a romantic kiss; although when it’s a quiet New Year’s Eve with my Hubby, those are okay too.) :)

3. How much should a babysitter be paid for working New Year’s Eve?

The only time I ever babysat on New Year’s Eve it was for the family I usually babysat for and they paid me double what I usually made. I think holiday pay for babysitters is completely acceptable.

4. What are you most looking forward to in 2013?

I hope I have a power chair, job and a van in my not too distant future. They all work together, need the chair to get the job, need the job to get the van. Since it needs to be in that order, the job will have to be in the bus area!

And don't forget to add a 5th Question on your own blog so we can answer as we hop around!

5. So many people include diet and exercise in their resolutions/goals for the New Year. How is your December related to that? Do you just eat everything in sight, eat healthy during the week only, try and fail to remain healthy?

I am usually pretty good until the last two weeks of December. I even do a good job of limiting extras for Thanksgiving But for the past two weeks, I’ve eaten like I was a skinny teenage boy and haven’t exercised nearly enough. I’ve said before I am an emotional eater. I’ve said before I am an emotional eater. That means I eat when I’m really sad and I eat when I’m really in a celebratory mood. Now I can be just as happy making smart choices, it just means I eat a LOT of veggies, but part of enjoying the holidays is the rich and somewhat sinful food. I love baking, and do it pretty well, but holiday baking is full of sugar and only REAL butter. I also find that while there aren’t a lot of them, I enjoy the fried foods I like at this time of the year too. So by the time January 2 comes along and the beginning of January detox, I’m good and ready. I’ve packed on a few pounds, because I am NOT a skinny teenage boy, and the abundance of fats and sugar have made me feel sluggish and fatigued as well as it’s made my complexion a little blotchy. By the end of the first week of January I’ll feel much better, my face will look better. By the end of the month, I’ll feel great and be well on the way to the weight I was in November, with healthy hair and the complexion of which I’ve always been proud. I don’t consider this a weakness; my typical January means that I CAN enjoy my typical last 2 weeks of December.

Friday, December 28, 2012

The Final Friday

It’s the final Friday of 2012. If you are reading this and expected a Christmas card from us this year, you will be receiving it, maybe even before 2013! Christmas cards, cleaning and tree will part of 2013’s goals list. David agrees with the idea of the cards being printed by Thanksgiving and sent, with annual letter, by a week later. I didn’t really get a response when I suggested putting up the tree about that time too, but I really want a few weeks of lights in the living room. We’ll have to discuss that one further.

Credits: Life Captured: December by Pixelily Designs

I just finished the layout for week 51 of my Journal 366! I’m gonna make it! I’ll have the whole year done. Considering that I’ve started and failed twice, I’m pretty happy! I’m in the idea-building process of deciding what my annual project will be for 2013, but I have a little wind in my sails right now.

One last time this year, let’s visit our Friday meme-hosts!

First, let’s see what fun there is with Hilary at Feeling Beachie…

This week’s statements:
1. without fail, whenever I fly__
2. I used to be___
3. When I ___ I ___
4. My greatest fear is ______.

My Answers:

1. without fail, whenever I fly I sleep.

2. I used to be able to clean the living room and put up the tree by myself.

3. When I know it's snowing I try not to look out the windows.

4. My greatest fear is falling lately.

Now let’s see what this week’s 5 Questions are from Mama M at My Little Life

1. If you had to give 1 million dollars to just one person (not your spouse), who would it be and why?

I’d give the million to a local person who does a lot of charity work and helping neighbors and the community. They’d be the best at using the money for the best reasons.

2. What bathroom stall do you typically go to FIRST?

If I’m choosing a stall it’s because there isn’t a Family/Handicap bathroom available; that’s always my first choice because I’ve seen too many handicap stalls that don’t actually have enough room for a person and a wheelchair. Of course, if I’m in a regular women’s room my only choice is the handicap stall.

Before I was in the wheelchair I would only use a handicap stall if all of the other ones were taken. I gave myself a pat on the back for that practice when one time I had to use the facilities, badly, and I sat in my chair holding my breath to control myself while three regular stalls that I couldn’t use were empty and an employee was on the phone in the handicap stall, not even using it, on the phone. If the handicap stall is the only one open, please use it, but if you have a choice and don’t need the handicap stall, keep in mind that you don’t know who will roll into the restroom after you.

(My soapbox has a ramp)

3. How do you prefer to shop: In-store or online?

I prefer to shop online because I can compare and get the best selection and best price. Yeah, it’s also more challenged-friendly. I’m hopeful to have a power chair in the next couple months. That might mean I can do some in-person shopping once in a while.

4. What's the weather like in your neck of the woods?

Cold and snowy. The snow is on the ground but not as much as they originally warned. The first forecast was 4-6” during the day yesterday and another 4-6 last night. We ended up with about 2 or 3 total. We dodged the bullet a lot of people to our west, south and north got!

5. Do you own a pair of Tom's and what do you think? Overrated, underrated or about right?

I had to look that one up. If the question is about Tom’s shoes… lol. Come on, you all know me; ANY shoe is overrated! Checking out their website, overpriced shoes and no socks. Totally overrated! :)

Finally, I’ll defrag a couple of things from my blog with a tip of the hat to Mrs. 4444 at Half Past Kissin Time for hosting Friday Fragments

**  One thing I will mention about the letters in our cards; when we said we doubted the world was going to end on the 21st, we were right! :D

**  I’m working on my goals and projects plan for 2013. One thing I’ve learned, perhaps the hard way, is that I just can’t be as ambitious as I once was. I’ve been fighting some serious depression demons since about August and I think, more than anything, I’m frustrated about what I can’t do and the list of goals that were destined to not be reached this year. It’s the first year that I’ve ever had more incomplete than complete annual goals.

**  I’ve been achier than usual lately and not feeling very energetic. I’m kinda looking forward to January detox! I think the fat and sugar intake has just been too high for the last week and a half and I need more water, more veggies and more fruit in addition to the better choices I make in January. I need to get some blood work done and I think I’ll wait until the second week in January so there’s less chance of the doctor calling to tell me I have diabetes, through the roof cholesterol and high blood pressure…and anything else holiday food can do to you!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Crunch Day

So, today is it, huh? End of the world. It’s gray and windy and 34 degrees, which is almost the predicted high for today, but it just doesn’t seem apocalypsy. So I am going to continue as if the world won’t end today. There’s just too much to cram in tomorrow if it doesn’t end.

Nothing makes me quite as crazy as things being behind and I am behind. After this post I’ll probably have another cup of coffee, no schnapps before noon, but by noon I might be tempted! Today will be crostadas and cleanup for tomorrow night. I’m not overly worried about that. I’ll get it done on time. Just right now out tree has half the lights on it and no ornaments. If the tree is only partially done, I’ll live with that. No one really sees anything but the glow of the lights while we’re enjoying each other’s company anyway. What’s making me unravel is that our Christmas Cards aren’t out yet and while they may get put in the mailbox before, they won’t get anywhere by Christmas. So, if you usually see a card from us, you still will, it’ll just be a “Hope you’re still enjoying the holidays” wish rather than a “Have a happy holiday.”

Still, I grumble inside for what I can’t do to help keep us on schedule for the holidays. I’m considering toning things down for next year. Oh, I’ll still bake and still do the fabulous dessert bar, but I’m pondering asking someone else to host the venue. Maybe do the party in Michigan next year instead of here. It’s the combination of baking and cleaning/getting the house ready for guests that’s making me nuts. So maybe I need to outsource the location.

Our Christmas Bat under the mistletoe

I have officially composed the Friendly Beasts verse for the Christmas Bat. I was mistaken about his eating mosquitos at the First Christmas. I created the story of the Christmas Bat; I can change it if it works better. This does!

I said the bat that flies at night.
I outstretched my wings so he could sleep tight
I shadowed his eyes ‘cause that star was so bright.
I said the bat that flies at night.

There ya go; the Christmas Bat got between the star and the Baby so he could sleep, but everyone else knew where he was.


I sent out some Davinities boxes in the mail this year. I promised that I’d tell about this year’s offerings on my blog, so here are the Davinities gift-box treats for 2012:

Krisp Kringles
The Original Davinity

This year’s Kringles are crunchy peanut butter and butterscotch rice squares. The compressed and cut preparation holds it shape better, therefore ships and travels better.
Mr. Goodcookies

This is the traveling Davinity and the one that I make for other occasions through the year, including that it’s the one I packaged for the Paws and Whiskers bake sale in September. They are crushed Mr. Goodbar, milk chocolate with peanuts, in a traditional tollhouse cookie base.

Chocolate Chunk Hazelnut Cookies

I created these especially for David. Well, you know, he’s going to put the Nani Bakery in his train layout, complete with a water tower! These are crushed hazelnuts and dark chocolate chunk cookies, each one garnished with a whole roasted hazelnut.

Pecan Pie Cookies

Back when my friend, Marie, had her baking business, Celebration Generation, up and running, I ordered cookies to augment my Davinities at Christmastime for the parties. When she closed Celebration Generation, she posted the recipes to her cookies on her Celebration Generation blog over time and I’ve been adding a different Celebration Generation recipe as one of the Davinities each year. Last Year it was the Black Forest Cookies and this Year it’s Pecan Pie cookies. They were one of my favorites of her cookies and I’m with the way they turned out from my oven too! There’s really not much to say that isn’t in the name. They are pecan pie filling in a brown sugar-based crust.

Ginger Bats and Bells (and Birds)

These ones are my favorite! I tried many different gingerbread recipes and finally found the right one. This is a semi-soft gingerbread cookie with cream cheese frosting. My opinion, it’s just the right balance of sweet and spicy and crunch and chewy. The ones that break between cooling and frosting get frosted too. I have to be able to taste to be sure they’re good right? Gingerbread is my favorite holiday cookie and while I pretty much like all gingerbread, I wanted mine to be my favorite; I succeeded.

Loaded Loaf

Back again from last year, loaded loaf is a great breakfast cake. The loaf is pumpkin-based with chocolate chips, walnuts and raisins. Experience from Christmas morning last year – a slice of loaf given a little time to toast up in a toaster oven with cinnamon butter is heaven!

And there’s the 2012 Davinities gift-box lineup. You can see the Celebration Generation Pecan Pie Cookie recipe here: Pecan Pie Cookies. Recipes for many of the regular Davinities are available at Simply Davlicious. Simply Davlicious will be getting an update with pictures and new recipes in 2013.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Twas The Hodge Podge Before Christmas

I’m still here! We’ve just been busy with the party coming Saturday and all. I’m bummed that I skipped out on the Monday Quiz About Me again this week. I like the interaction with my fellow bloggers and when I take my afternoon break, I might still get back to answer some of those Monday questions!

The squirrels have been all over this morning! We’re expecting rain changing to snow tonight; I wonder if that’s what all the squirrel-action is about? It doesn’t matter. I love active squirrel days and I’m enjoying seeing one or two busy ones out every window of the house!

Today will be another day that my wedding ring spends in the 1/3 cup measuring cup in the kitchen drawer and it will probably stay there until Friday. That’s where it stays when I’m doing stuff with dough that I don’t want caked in the setting. The next at least two days are the final Davinities baking days before Christmas. Today will be 2 small and a few mini Loaded Loaves. I like a loaf for munching on Christmas morning and so we have some for the party. That Loaded Loaf is one I made for the first time last year and I hope everyone who gets to taste it likes it as much as I do! (Rina loved it last year) The loaf is pumpkin-based with spices, raisins, chocolate chips and walnuts. It’s very good!! Tomorrow will be dough-day for the crostadas we’ll have for Saturday and the ones that will go to Michigan with me on Christmas Eve. I also have wrapping to finish up and we need a couple of little gifts for my brother’s present.

But, for now, I’m joining Joyce at From This Side Of The Pond for Wednesday Hodge Podge!

1. How will you spend 'the night before Christmas'?

Christmas Eve is my family’s Christmas dinner at my cousin’s. It’s been, all of my life, a bounty of mostly fried fish, although last year there were some tasty non-fried options. As I’ve said before, I don’t go for the food, I go to be with my family, but I just might chance fate that there will be un-fried options again and pass on my traditional Christmas Eve burger on the way.

David will meet us back at Pop’s house after he gets off work. The family meal is an early dinner and dinner starts about the time he gets out of work…an hour and a half away! Pop says we’ll bring him a doggy-bag. LOL Then we exchange gifts between our sibling families. My cousins don’t exchange gifts amongst the adults, so we have our gift exchanging at Pop’s. We did that before dinner last year, but this year David won’t be there until later and besides, Dave didn’t like it earlier, so both of the “Dav Men” will be happy..

2. What is one thing you are not?


3. Fudge-are you a fan? Your favorite flavor?

I do like fudge, although oddly enough, I don’t care for the smell of it cooking. Yes, I’m odd. Give me something that tastes like fudge and smells like a steak cooking and I’m all set, but if it smells like fudge cooking or tastes like steak, keep it away from me!

I won’t eat Rocky Road fudge or anything with cookie dough I it. Other than that I pretty much like it all! The favorites I’ve tried have been plain old chocolate, black forest and pistachio.

4. Did you attend any craft/vendor fairs in the month of December? Do you prefer homemade goodies or the more professional stalls? Are you giving any homemade gifts this year? 

No, I didn’t attend any events.

I do give cookie boxes as gifts and have also done hand-made gifts over the years. I did wool-capes for both my Mom and SIL years back as well as wool scarves and one year everyone got a cross stitch ornament. Most recently is the silk-screened pillows I had done for my Aunt with photo art I had done of both of her dogs.

This year, I bought a couple of hand-made gifts from Etsy shops and I’m a very satisfied customer. That may be a regular place I look for gifts going forward.

5. What's your favorite type of holiday gathering?

My favorite type of gathering is coming up! I like small groups, fewer than ten people, where everyone can be part of the same conversation and enjoy each other’s company together.

6. We're approaching a new year...what's going to be different in 2013?

Well, as 2012 is ending, I am an official TARPS rider and have available paratransit services curb to curb. I’m also in the process of getting a power chair. Hopefully that means that 2013 will see me get out of the house more and hopefully, find employment. Golly, I miss the 3 P’s that make working worthwhile; People, Productivity and Paycheck!

7. Share a favorite scripture, quote, saying, or song lyric relating to peace.

I’ve always loved the hymn “Let There Be Peace On Earth.”

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Kaline has a vet appointment tomorrow. We think she has a sore tooth/teeth. She sniffed at treats and struggled to eat them yesterday, this morning I gave the kids treats and she acted like she wanted it, lacking her chops and it and sniffing, but didn’t eat it. She did the same thing with breakfast; acted like she wanted it, but ate one kibble and walked away. She’s not acting otherwise sick, which is why we think it might be teeth. Poor baby-girl! :(

Friday, December 14, 2012

Happy Lunchtime!

Busy, Busy day today! That’s lunch. David laughed because I sent him a text yesterday asking him to pick up salad on the way home. We’d just opened a new bag on Wednesday, but after lunch. He asked if I “went all rabbit” on the salad. The truth is, and it’s been the truth for many years, baking makes me crave salad. Dough on my hands, pinch a taste to make sure the seasoning is right, taste the “test cookie” to make sure the taste is acceptable to be a Davinities treat, I baked 8 dozen cookies yesterday morning; my veggie crave was off the chart!

So now I’m relaxing with my crunchy veggies; celery, carrots, radishes and red bell pepper, protein: a sliced string cheese and Omega-3 fat; 6 Kalamata olives with lettuce shaken in 2 TBS Newman’s light Balsamic vinaigrette; a feast fit for January.

So, now I’ll tip my cap to Mrs. 4444 at Half Past Kissin' Time and thank her for hosting Friday Fragments! Here are the rest of my tid-bits:

**  So far I made the batter for the loaded loaves and have two small ones done. I’m waiting for them to cool so I can remove them from the pans to reuse. My new pans are the perfect size for gift trays. The ones last year were the entire gift. I like to give variety.

**  I’ll be finishing the Oreo Truffles before David gets in from work and the Pecan Pie Cookies will be after dinner. They don’t take an awful long time to bake..

Once you taste them you forget what they look like!

**  After considering the lines at the post office on a Saturday before Christmas, David and I decided to do our mail drop on Monday, his Sunday. We’ll still, I hope, have time to get the tree up.

**  I have the most awesome husband in the world!

I’m late in saying that, but I ate the last of the support material that goes with that declaration for breakfast.

David got these for me when he was combing grocery stores looking for my “solo uvetta” (only raisins) panettone before we left New Jersey Monday. He didn’t find only raisin panettone, but he found pumpkin cupcakes with Rudolph decorations! AWESOME!

**  I don’t care for the traditional panettone and Noni always had the only raisins bread for Mom and me. David found one that was just raisins and candied orange peel and I said I’d give it a try because the citron is what I didn’t like. Well, it turns out that what I always thought was the reason I didn't care for it, the same reason Mom didn’t like the traditional panettone, was not the reason I didn’t care for it. It’s the candied orange-peel. I tasted on piece off the top and didn’t cut it, so I’m taking it to Dad’s on Christmas Eve. I ordered a raisins-only one for me…at 4 times the cost of the one I didn’t like!

**  They discontinued offering the bracelet I had my eye on at Swag Bucks just before I got enough points for it. But they did start offering the one you see below. So I cashed in part of my Swag Bucks for it. I was wondering if they’d charge me for the shipping. They didn’t! Then I expected to see my bracelet sometime in January. It took a week before there was a package in my mailbox! Wow! It kinda makes me want to watch some more videos.

My Swag

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Spoiled: Thank You Secret Santa!

I’m sorry if the drama was mean, leaving essentially a cliff hanger.

When last I blogged, our hero, Secret Santa, had sent a large box that was precariously clinging to the bottom step of Nani’s side door…

Back to our story...

David got home after work and a grocery stop and brought the box in around 9. I am not the “wait until Christmas” type at all with gifts. When I give a gift, please open it. If I’m there I want to see you open it because that’s part of the joy of giving. The same with that phone call or email when I can’t be there when you open it. It’s not that I need to hear a thank you; I just need to know you got it and enjoyed it. And the needing to know the “thinking of you” got the intended smile goes with receiving too. I am 46 years old and I still get excited and want to know what’s in a package for me. I’ve said before and it’s my gift creed; “Receiving makes you feel loved. Giving makes you feel worth loving.” It’s true, a whole package. It doesn’t ever have to be give and receive from the same person, but in the greater world I guess I need both.

Now that box!

It was a box that seemed to never empty! All kinds of packages, each tied with a polka dot ribbon. My Santa knows about my thing with polka dots! Those ribbons will, among other uses, definitely be used as Smash book accents!

It started with a Peppermint Mocha. :) I mean it started with Boyd’s Bear bearing an Arch Card that will definitely buy a couple of Peppermint Mochas!

I smiled as the "loot" reminded me of the stockings Mom made with all kinds of gifts, fun and sweet, useful and spoiling. But Mom didn’t knit and I didn’t open hand-made items!

Isn’t it beautiful? I’ve been more and more attracted to the orange and pink combinations lately and of course purple has long been a color that I love alongside other colors.  I have a set of Pandora-style beads that I wear on my bracelet that goes with it and it’s a perfect pairing for my pink winter coat! It’s soft and warm; I know this because I immediately put it on after I opened it. And did I say it’s beautiful? Oh, guess I did, but it deserves to be said again; it’s beautiful!

After David saw all the packages on the table in front of my computer he took it on to make dinner, since I was acting like a kid on Christmas morning. About half-way through opening, he suggested a break so I could eat.

Some of the other wonderful things from my box included a set of mini pitchers, perfect for cream, gravies, sauces, and they match the dream kitchen that is in boxes right now, but will come to life in the next kitchen!

I also got a bag of Godiva Gems Milk Chocolate. YUM! We have bags of candies that we bought for the Christmas party that we won’t open because we are both better disciplined if they are put away in the buffet unopened until next week. David is the other gender’s equivalent of me when it comes to chocoholics, which means he is a chocovore but can eat key lime pie without feeling like he’s cheating on chocolate; me, notsomuch. But if we’re sharing dessert it always chocolate! So when I opened the Gems after dinner while I finished opening gifts and offered him one the answer was a happy “yes, please!”

The next packages were some paper things. There is a magnetic-backed pad with a green bow with various kitchen gadgets in green and gray on the background. For a kitchen gadget nut with a green dream kitchen, well, awesome! There’s also a set of fifty-two 2013 calendar pages with the whole year calendar on the left and the days of the week and space for notes or appointments on the right. That might be something for the woman cave.

These things I can definitely use for my new Smash book obsession. It’s not a full addiction yet, but I catch myself wishing I could do a Smash page in between cookies or grumbling about cleaning when I could be playing with the Smash book. We’ll see how crazy I get in January when I have more free time. (I’ll be counting points instead of baking calories again!) There are a dozen packs of tags, borders and flat and dimensional stickers.  (Can't wait to play!)

The frame is on an easel, a very classy look. I think it’s begging for a nice photo of David and me. The couple already there is cute, but we're cuter.

If you’ve read any of the Monday Mug Shots you know that I collect mugs and every mug has a story. This one tells me to dream big. Every day, Secret Santa, every day. Now this mug will have the always hopeful thoughts that naturally go with it, most notably I have a “try and stop me” attitude about continuing to do my holiday baking every year and this package came in while I was doing said baking. But the main story about this mug is the generosity of my awesome Secret Santa 2012!

There was also a pair of bag clips, which we used a ton, in green, shampoo, shower gel and bubble bath in Peppermint Bark scent and a cupcake-shaped key-cover with lots of frosting polka dotted with sprinkles. It’s very cute and will be great for my backpack when I need my house key but not all the other things on my key ring when I take transit for appointments.

The last gift I opened made me happy-squeal. I got socks! What I lack in usually woman-common shoe-love I make up for in socks-love. 2 pairs representing my favorite colors. There are the blue ones with the purple circle-dots and the cream-colored ones with a beautiful flourish design at the top in green. David was especially interested in seeing the socks since he never considered socks a decent gift and it makes me happy as a house elf* when someone gives me socks!

From the gorgeous scarf that I’d still be wearing right now if I wasn’t blogging between trays in the oven to the totally Nani socks and every gift in between, I am totally spoiled by my sweet, sweet Secret Santa! Here’s a big {{{thank you hug}}} from me!

I know my Santee enjoyed her gifts from me; she already posted that they arrived. It was a great Soiree for me on both the giving and receiving ends!  Now off to read some more blogs and see if I can figure out who my Santa is so I can thank her on her blog! The box came from Texas, but then again the box I sent didn’t come from Ohio and Suzanne said there were a few gifts sent from other than the Santa’s place of origin. If you’re here looking for possible clues, read back a few posts; I’ve been to a few states over the past week or so. Hehehe…

*It’s always a good time for a Harry Potter reference  House Elf

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


Remember me complaining about the post office leaving packages on the steps where I can’t pick them up? Remember when I said they didn’t even make an attempt at waiting for someone to answer the door? Remember that I called the post office and they said they were making a note on our address to leave the packages on the front porch?
I was ten feet away from the door when they knocked. I yelled “Just a minute!” When I got to the door the delivery guy was still outside getting into his truck and I yelled “Hey, I need help!” He drove away.

My Secret Santa package is still sitting on the step waiting for David to get home. It’s been since 12:30. :(

Wednesday Hodge Podge

Joiniung Joyce at From This Side of the Pond for Hodge Podge

1. So, when did you last take a walk in the woods? A stroll along the beach? A drive going nowhere in particular in the car?

When David and I train-chase, it often starts as a drive to nowhere in particular. I used to go to the park to walk every day when it was nice and no snow. Yes, even in the cold as long as there wasn’t ice and snow to slip on I walked about a mile or so daily. I think now I might consider going to the park for a “walk” for the mental relaxation, but after the power chair is okayed and here.

2. Are you sending Christmas cards this year? About how many do you send? Photo card or something more traditional? How do you display the cards you receive?

We send cards, either our family cards or train cards every year. I always sent family cards and David always sent train cards, so now we send them both. They are photo cards that I created using Digital Scrapbooking and I write the verse on the card.

3. What's a word you've heard too much of in the past week?

“Grrr.” ?? I audibly “grrr” when I get frustrated, like getting in and out of the car on long rides or the lifting and moving necessary for baking. I don’t like to be grouchy, but a temporary “grrr” and some minor grunting helps me get what I need done. Think of the grunts you hear in a tennis match; it really does help!

4. December 13th is National Cocoa Day-are you a fan? Plain or flavored? Marshmallows or no marshmallows?

I love cocoa! I like really good cocoa just in its chocolaty awesomeness, but I also LOVE cinnamon hot cocoa and I like it with a splash or two...or three, of peppermint schnapps!

I can do without the marshmallows although as long as they melt, I can deal with them.

5. What is something you do to help alleviate the hectic pace of the Christmas season?

Oh! The hectic pace of the Christmas season is what I do to alleviate the mundane day to day of every other season!

6. Besides jewelry, what's a favorite sparkly-glittery item in your home or closet?

Wow. I’ll think of something as soon as I hit “publish” but I can’t think of any sparklies that aren’t jewelry right now.

7. Share a favorite line or two from any Christmas carol.

“How do you measure the love of a mother, How do you write down a baby’s first cry?” From Candlelight Carol

That was the first song on the CD I listened to while meditating on Christmas Eve the year my Mom died and I cried for about a half hour. It still makes me tear up but they are happy remembrance tears now.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

I’m on break right now from Ginger Bats, Bells and Birds baking. When I can barely lift the tray from the hot pad on the chair to the counter to put the cookies on the cooling racks, it’s time to take a break! It takes me longer now, but I still get it done! (And I love it!)

Now you may have noticed that there are birds added to the mix in my Ginger Belles and Bats. It occurred to me, strange as it sounds to me, that some people may not appreciate the blessing of the Christmas Bat. I know, I know, how odd, huh?

Bronner’s, my favorite Christmas store makes up stories for some of their ornaments. I mean, “Legend of the Christmas Chile Pepper?” So, why not the “Legend of the Christmas Bat?” A cute furry bat with garland on its wings, right? Think about it; if God saw fit to make sure Noah put 2 bats on The Arc, I highly doubt they flushed the bats out of the stable. If “I said the dove” cooed that baby to sleep, couldn’t “I said the bat” have been the one keeping the mosquitos away from him? I think it’s perfectly okay to offer all of God’s creatures a place in the Christmas celebration.  (I have a dog and three cats in my Fontanini Nativity.) And before you bring up spiders to my arachnophobic self, there IS a story about a spider creating the first strands of tinsel on a Christmas tree, which is one of the reasons we don’t use tinsel, but I even respect that there is a place for a Christmas Spider; just that place is in someone else’s home. Ours has a Christmas Bat.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Home Again

We had a nice long weekend in Connecticut with David’s family; we always have a fun trip. Ben and Ellen are fabulous hosts. It always makes me feel extra special because after the MS diagnosis and with my mobility problems that have gotten worse in the past couple years, I can’t make it up the stairs in their gorgeous historic house. When we’ve gotten in last year and this, one of the twin bed’s from JP‘s room has been set up in the corner of the great room with a set of guest towels and a lamp. It’s a very welcoming guest space and it’s in JP’s play area by her 1950s play kitchen. It looks like a play studio apartment and not at all like it was set-up as a handicap accessible sleeping space. It was three nights on an incredibly comfy mattress and no stairs; I always feel spoiled when we visit!

While we were there we saw our nephew, Ben’s last of his preseason hockey tournament before his senior year and last high school varsity hockey season starts. Our older niece, a sophomore, had her first varsity girls’ hockey game last night, we had to miss it because we had to get home, but they won and she got a goal! Way to go, Emma!

We also took some family time out to visit with our friend Hilary who lives a short distance from Ben and Ellen. Hilary has a wonderful view through the huge window in her living room! She took us in and called it “the reason I bought this condo.” We had lunch and played with the cats and talked. It was wonderful to catch up! Facebook is wonderful for keeping in touch, but it will never replace actually seeing and physically hugging your people!

My way cool souvenir that I got me, well, okay, David picked up, was a brick of Café Caribe coffee. Ben made us espresso on Saturday morning and it to die for! I grew up with espresso from Italy, even a splash of espresso on a little bit of ice cream as a kid so we could have coffee with the grownups. The Café Caribe is as robust a flavor but smoother than any espresso roast I’ve tasted; fantastic!

Okay, now I’m going to do yesterday’s Monday Quiz About Me, hosted by Acting Balanced and Touristic. The Linky is up for 5 days, so since it’s my first day back, I’ll just pretend it’s Monday!

1. What is your favorite charity to donate to?

I am as much the charity as I am a supporter. The MS Society; I encourage, with a huge thank you, anyone who wants to, is able to, to donate to that charity and wear an orange ribbon for MS Awareness!

Ongoing MS research enables me to take a pill instead of shots to manage my symptoms. It enables me to understand the plethora of symptoms the deterioration of the myelin sheath that protects the nerves in the brain and spine do so I am able to seek the right help when a symptom is not MS and needs attention. The MS Society helps patients learn about their disease and helps them cope through getting the right supplies to manage everyday living, financial aid and planning and working with the insurance and Medicare system.

David and I are also passionate supporters locally of the Paws and Whiskers cat shelter, where Carla came to us from.

2. When was the last time you danced?

David and I danced at my brother’s wedding as far as conventional dancing goes. I still dance often with the kitchen counter for support.

3. How do you show someone you care about them?

So many ways. I listen, I support, I try to be there in person…and I bake them cookies!

4. Do you send holiday cards?

Holiday cards are so important to me. We order 75 each of our cards and train cards and write a special note about what’s gone on for the year. I design the cards and David writes the letter capitalizing on both of our strongest creative areas. When I send a card, even to an old friend I haven’t seen in years and really only communicate with that one time a year via exchanging greeting cards, it says I don’t forget and still acknowledge the important part of my world they influenced and that the influence is part of forming who I am today. People change and grow all the time and in my opinion, everyone who has touched my life in the past will always be part of my future. Christmas cards are how I say “I still know you’re part of who I am; thank you!”

Now my question 5, even though there may not be a lot of answers this week since I’m late.

5. Do you wrap gifts for someone all in one paper or in lots of different ones?

I used to hang a sign on the door of my living room at Mom and Pop’s that said “Elfen Sweatshop.” The Elfen Sweatshop is where everyone dropped in to wrap gifts and have a cup of coffee and a snack. The big Sweatshop event was when Grandma and Mom and I wrapped the gifts for under the tree and in stockings. The life of an Elfen Sweatshop roll of paper started as something for large gifts and boxes and moved down the line to smaller gifts and then teeny tiny stocking gifts. No paper was discarded. The scraps were rolled into an empty tube to be put away with the rest of the remaining paper for next year. That was not only frugal and ecological but the abundance of papers and designs makes the tree look so good! They were the ornaments at the bottom.

I still maintain that use of paper, in fact the paper carrier came with me from Michigan and there were gifts David and Rina opened in their stockings last year that were wrapped in paper my Mom bought; and Mom’s been and angel longer than 18-year-old Rina’s been an elf!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Wednesday Hodge Podge

Good Wednesday morning! Let's get right on to joining Joyce from From This Side of the Pond for Hodge Podge!

1. Share your traditions surrounding the Christmas stocking.

Christmas stockings were something everyone got; my brother and I had the really big ones that Mom made and everyone else got smaller ones. Mom filed the stockings with everything from lip balm and tic-tacs to socks ad scarves to perfume and nice jewelry. I filled hers and had so much fun working on duplicating that same style of contents but very personal for her, like she did for all of us.

The first Christmas without Mom was hard; she was the Christmas Spirit in our family. I tried to do her job, to fill the stockings, even my own because Tori and Rina weren’t elves yet and Santa had to be properly represented; I had NOT been bad, and create the over spilling tree. I think I did okay. I remember that my meditation time after putting Baby Jesus in the manger on my nativity was long that year with lots of tears. I think I let out everything I’d held in since September that year. But I finally felt closure and a great peace on Christmas morning.

2004 was a little easier because Rina and Tori had become elves. They transitioned from believing, to telling me that Santa didn’t really travel on Christmas Eve; he just told parents what to buy if the kids were good, to embracing that magic joy of giving when you grow up to be a Santa yourself. Alter having gone from kid to elf in one brutal day at school, I was so happy they had such a neat view on that transition!

David and I started with the rule that we only exchanged what fit in our stockings on Christmas morning, but somewhere between gifts that were too big that we really wanted to give and Mom’s influence showing as I put so many packages of candy and fun little things to fill the stocking that even a package of Ferrero Rochers didn’t fit and were under the tree one year, that we’ve opened that up and added a couple gifts when we find them. I like that a few gifts under the tree make the tree look better. Last year when Rina was with us on Christmas day was the best because I got to fill 2 stockings and do a lot of the other old family traditions.

2. How many hours of sleep do you average at night? Is it enough?

5-7 depending on the night. Yes, it’s usually enough. I learned self-hypnosis quite a few years ago, it’s a lot of why I am an EX smoker 22-1/2 years later. Being able to quickly get into a deep sleep was helpful when I finished my degree going to school full time and working 3 part time jobs!

3. If you had to give up one thing for the remainder of this year what would it be? 

Pain! The question didn’t say it had yo br something I liked I was giving up!

4. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (or Wills and Kate as I like to call them) have announced they're expecting a baby. Do you follow news of the Royals? 

Um, ahem… If I lived in Kansas City I’d probably follow the Royals, but Toledo is perfect for me because we get the FOX Sports channels for the Reds AND the Tigers!

5. For me, the sound of childhood is__________________.

It’s also one of my favorite springtime sounds; the sound of childhood is the sound of laughing outdoors when a group of kids are at the playground.

6. Fruit cake-yay or boo? What's your favorite dessert made with fruit?

Depends on the fruit cake. Ridley’s Café  in Rochester Michigan makes an awesome tea cake with fruit called “It’s A Wonderful Loaf.” Celebration Generation made the BEST Fruit Cake cookies. You can’t order them anymore, but the recipe is here:Fruitcake Cookies

7. What is one thing you want to accomplish before 2012 comes to an end?

Get my baking done. I’m physically having a hard time this year. Before next year I really need a taller kitchen work chair and a stand-up mixer. My arms are just not doing so well with the reaching up or the mixing anymore. The thing is my Christmas baking is my greatest joy at this time of the year and I’ll still do it even if it wears me totally out.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

I woke up with an ear-worm and I don’t know WHAT I was dreaming about to but it’s there. I can’t get the old Fritos jingle out of my head!

Munchabuncha munchabuncha munchabuncha munchabuncha Fritos go with lunch…

Monday, December 3, 2012

Hustle and Bustle

I was wondering about that term. Tomboy me totally gets the hustle part; move quick and don’t get called out. It makes sense in a Christmas context because there is a deadline and the rest of life doesn’t take a break so you can keep up. But the bustle part…

I had to look up bustle to make sure there wasn’t a definition other than the big butt of a Victorian skirt. Of course there is, but I wanted to know the origin of the word defined as energetic and busy activity. The best I got that wasn’t a dress was possibly from an obsolete Norse work buskle, also busk, which meant to prepare oneself. So, hustle and bustle is to quickly prepare oneself. Okay, that works for me!

I saw lots of video and photos for bustle, as in dress, including a how-to for “bustling a wedding dress.” There is so much I missed not doing the wedding thing. I had a very different definition of train for my marriage celebration. But bustling is what the maid of honor does so nobody steps on the train. Because the wedding was so expensive that one last fitting to adjust the hem on the dress would break the budget? Yes, I don’t understand wedding dresses and if there had been a wedding, I think the only train would have been the one we were photographed photographing in our wedding suits.

I suppose that’s one of my few regrets with not having a wedding. The shocking photographs we’d have had done of things you don’t do in a wedding dress and tux. Like the bride and groom trackside photographing a train or mini golfing in a wedding gown. You see a train on the putt-putt course would have messed up my game and let’s not even go there on what it would have done to my skill in the batting cage! No joke; when we talked about what we’d want to do if we were doing a real wedding, it was “take pictures early, because I’m planning to wreck the dress.” Old family tradition is to do something to the brides dress so it can’t be worn again. My mom’s aunt stomped the hen on her dress near the end of the reception because it hadn’t been torn yet. The reason is quite simple; One wedding, one marriage. It is a blessing and if something doesn’t happen to the dress on its own, someone had to ensure that blessing is made on the marriage. Can you imagine in this day and age where a wedding dress can be used several times by the same bride and few bat an eyelash?

I do understand the concept of passing the dress onto a daughter, but even that I question. Styles change so much and a beautiful dress a mother wears could be considered a major fashion mistake by the time the daughter marries. I like a concept Tori want to do much better. She asked if she could have my Mom’s dress. That id my Dad couldn’t send Mom’s dress to Good Will and he gave it to me. Tori asked for it before I had to think about where it should go. She wants to use part of it incorporated into a gown she has designed. Mind you Tori is an 18-year old college freshman, not currently dating. The Wedding Industrial Complex is always glad to see wedding plans on a Pinterest board for very young, very single women. But her idea is mushy wrapped in memories, totally the kind of thing I’m a sucker for. And I’ll happily go to hopefully her only wedding and at the end of the reception, unless she’s already spilled wine on it, like she always did with white shirts and fruit punch as a kid, I’ll stomp on the hem of the dress to wish her luck.

Okay…But bustle in hustle and bustle is only really related to the dress in that the maid of honor hustles to bustle the dress. MY bustle is baking. Er, my hustle is baking? Anyway, holiday baking wave one starts this afternoon.

Right now, why don’t I do the Monday Quiz About Me? Thanks to Heather at Acting Balanced and Wayne at Touristic for hosting again this week!

1. When was the last time you had your picture taken with Santa?

I don’t really remember. I’ve talked to Santa and hugged Santa, but not sure when I had my picture taken with him. The last photo we found in Grandma’s house, under her buffet, was a picture of Dave and me with Santa dated 1972. I was 6 and still believed. By 1973 I’d become an elf, way too young to be an elf already, but I’d become an elf, but I probably went anyway because Dave hadn’t become an elf yet.

In case you weren’t sure about the reference, an elf is what you become when you are no longer receiving the magic but have become part of making it happen; Santa never dies just because you grow up. I never stopped “believing” in the magic.

2. Which do you prefer - ham or turkey?

Ham, although this year we’re planning on turkey for Christmas Day dinner. We winded up not doing Thanksgiving dinner except for Cracker Barrel after all and I’m still craving my mom’s stuffing! But usually I prefer Honey Baked Ham for Christmas. It too makes awesome soup! But we don’t have a set traditional Christmas meal. On Christmas Day it’s usually just David and me, so we decide what special meal we’d like together.

3. Do you give more to charity in December?

No. I think I actually give more of what I can afford; money or time, during the less busy times for giving when it’s still needed.

4. Which US City would you most like to visit and why?

If you remember from Friday, there’s the whole “I saw this place in a dream” thing, so San Antonio, Texas, just to see the place I saw in dreams. It’s also close to Lulling to see the watermelon water tower!

And don't forget to add a 5th Question on your own blog so we can answer as we hop around!

5. My question for you I need 5 jars of preserves for my Crostadas. I have Apricot, Peach, Raspberry and Cherry. I’m not sure if I should get another flavor or double up on one of those four. So question #5 this week is what are your thoughts? Would you pick one of those four for an Italian cookie-cake or is there a different flavor you’d prefer?

For me, being a black forest gal, I’ll always pick the cherry. But I also know that for the crostadas we have for our party, I always make sure there is a raspberry for David too.