Welcome to my coffee shop in the cyber neighborhood!

The Chronicles of Nani On Video

I am overcoming my inability to type with my ability to talk (and talk and talk and talk) I'll be posting a video every week on my YouTube channel. I'll be posting those videos here too along with an occasional regular blog in the mix. (As long as my hands are up to doing the extra typing.)

You'll be able to watch the videos here, but I encourage you to stop by my channel at YouTube once I'm up and running to follow me and get my numbers started!

Welcome to my coffee shop in Cyber Space
Try the latte with a slice of black forest cake!

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Saturday, December 31, 2011

2012 Projects and Goals

It’s that time of year again. After a 2011 that saw many goals not obtained and many projects wanting for a slot in 2012, I’m really looking forward to the New Year and the opportunity to get back on track.

Now, in all fairness to 2011, it started with the MS symptoms getting worse and worse and me having no idea that my troubles were anything worse than needing to tweak my diet to improve the fatigue and probable back surgery to fix my mobility. My projects list centered on changing my food balance, recovery from surgery and more exercise. I had no idea that in May I still wouldn’t know what was wrong. I expected to be in recovery by then! As it worked out, the classes I’d planned to do in rehab were taken during the worst of the stress with all of this. I earned my first B and an incomplete that is now a D! It was not at all a time to try to learn a new computer language! I’ll be able to fix the D when I retake XML. It kinda sucks to not be on the Dean’s List for the first time since 1984!

All the medical and school stress had an adverse effect on my weight loss too. I lost 40 pounds in 2010 and felt ambitious about at least that much more in 2011. Humph. Did you know stress causes enzymes in your body to do weird things that actually hold on to fat? Imagine, the stress causes weight to fluctuate and even makes you gain despite a balanced, reduced calorie diet and exercise! Yeah and that causes more stress, which make weight loss even harder and you find yourself thinking seriously about a whole pint of Ben and Jerry’s with hot fudge and whipped cream but no cherry on top because you’ve decided that fruits and vegetables are mocking you.

No. I did NOT do that! But, maybe I thought about it once or twice this year!

The point is that while I was totally brain-muddled in a class I thought would be much easier for me, being shoved in an MRI tube three different times and tested for a possible brain tumor, my weight loss goals were not progressing. I lost 6 pounds in 2011, as of mid-December. I’ve probably gained that much back in the last 2 weeks of festiveness, but as is usually true with Januaries, I’ll shed that by the end of the month and start again, this year without the stress of the unknown or even school as I’ve taken the semester off.

So now, after getting myself organized with what’s wrong with me, what medications I need, a good diet and my physical therapy exercises. I’m ready to move forward…starting with looking back. I have some things from last year that were unfinished or left with alterations I have to put in place.

Updates from 2011 Projects and Goals

Medical Project

Last year the medical project was all about getting an MRI, surgery if needed, repairing myself physically. I wanted to get back to aquatic therapy!

Well, we know it wasn’t at all that simple! This year, now that I’m on a medication, checkup pending, that seems to really work for me, I’m medically concentrating on my therapy exercises, learning to use the AFO and shoring up some key places in our home with devices that will assist me. I’m specifically thinking of the hand shower David and I are installing in the shower in January, a wheeled cart for moving things around in the kitchen and boy, I’d love something secure to grab on at the top of the stairs. I know grabbing the window sill on the top stairs and the doorknob on the bottom ones is not really good for those pieces of hardware that aren’t made for lifting a person and if they give out that’s really unsafe for me.

In addition to the assistive devices and keeping up with my medications and vitamins, I want to do some research on other herbal and homeopathic things I can incorporate, like the turmeric and lemon tea, the taste of which I’ve really grown quite fond.

Weight Loss & Exercise Goal

My weight loss goal is pretty much the same as last year, but this year I WILL do it. I don’t blame myself for 2011 not being as successful as planned. I didn’t gain, I just didn’t lose much. Actually that’s okay. Remember I’d accepted that my face would hollow out and I’d look sick for a couple years. Well, losing as little as I did this year, my face has tightened back up from where it had been and I look better. (Score one for seeing the rainbow, not the rain there!)

So, I’m recommitting to my healthy diet after the holidays, just as last year, but knowing what challenges are before me and knowing what stress does helps me a ton! I’m going to incorporate meditation and relaxation time into my day, just a few minutes a day, but I’m going to reclaim essential mental balance. A lot of people will laugh at that because I work really hard to be mentally balanced, have since my early 20s! But the uncertainty prior to diagnosis was a fierce emotional toxin!

Exercise will be my therapy exercises and my stationary bike. It would be nice to think by late spring I’ll be able to either work on my upper body with the wheelchair or strong enough to walk short distance with the walker and AFO at the park. I’m going to let my physical therapist help me decide if and when that’s realistic.

Scrapbook Goals

Okay the goal last year was to keep up 2011 while finishing 2008 and keeping up on the project I was working on. The due date for the 2008 books was December 31, the 2011 books January 31 and I want that project done by February 29. 2008 is now the catch up goal for 2012. I got a good chunk of 2008 done, but only about half. I’m in June 2011. It’s not out of the question that I’ll finish by the end of January with a couple scrapping weekends, but I may realistically move that date back to the end of February. We’ll see where I am in a few weeks. The project is a gift and that is now the number one priority. I really can’t extend the finish date because it needs to be proofread and edited before it can be printed. Full disclosure and details on this MAJOR project will come after it’s given!

So 2012 scrapbook goals:

Priority Project complete and ready for proofreading February 29, 2012
2011 books completed with a flexible deadline of January 31, 2012
2008 books complete and ready to print December 31, 2012
2012 books completed January 31, 2013

House Uncluttered Project

This was an ambitious project to juggle in with classes and probable back surgery for just 2 rooms this year. It also ended up being an epic fail as a 2011 plan. The plan for 2012 is even bigger!

Knowing my limitations and requirements now, I’m a little more capable. That is lots of chairs, walkers and a telescoping feather duster will allow me to do more. Taking the semester off from school is Multigoaling! I’m going to start with the atrium off the kitchen where many of my boxes from Grandma's house are still stacked. I have a vision of at least one shelving unit for easy access of the modern kitchen appliances that were never that abundant in the 1950s. David and I were also discussing baskets for the K-Cups instead of stacked open boxes on top of the bread box.

From that room I’ll move out to finish the main level of the house, including some handicap access updates. I’m hoping that can be completed by the end of February. Remember I can’t do a physical 8 hours a day and anything that includes moving big things or heavy boxes will wait until David comes home.

It’s a lot, yet I don’t think I’m setting up any unrealistic ideas for myself. And for the physical work, the psychological rewards will be huge on many levels!

New Goals for 2012

Blog Goals

The big goal for the Chronicles of Nani has already started. I wanted to commit more to my regular blog features and add a few. I wanted to commit some time every day I post a blog to reading blogs and commenting. Call it corporate citizenship. I want to really appreciate those who stop by my cyber coffee shop. I’ve been doing well at keeping The Chronicles up and I’ve really been enjoying making friends and being a bigger part of the cyber community. I guess my blog goal is to continue what I’ve been doing, try to offer at least one digital scrapbook freebie a month and encourage everyone to get me those Friday By Request ideas!

Employment Goal

This is a biggie! I need to get back to work, but it’s still an awful job market and now I am officially physically disabled. It’s without a doubt scary. The New York chapter of the National MS Society is hosting a series of teleconferences in the beginning of 2012 about looking for work and having MS. I’ve registered for all 6 teleconferences/webinars.

I hope to be newly resume-ed and ready to get back to applying by fall. But I truly have a lot to learn. For instance, and this is the scariest question for me, when do I disclose my disability? Should I be upfront about needing assistance or do I walk in “Surprise!” for an interview with the walker when they can’t legally throw me out and try to impress them to the point of forgetting about it? I will attend the conferences with my questions in hand!

So there are my personal projects and goals for 2012. As always, this or something better. Ambitious? Sure, but if I made it through 2011 and I can still smile, I can do ANYTHING!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Follow Friday Four Fill-In

This is a blog meme I did for the first time a couple weeks ago, really enjoyed it and enjoyed reading the other bloggers’ answers. It’s a quick way to check in with the regulars and meet the new readers at my Coffee Shop on the Information Superhighway. I follow Feeling Beachie so even on a busy Friday where I don’t necessarily have time to participate, I can still read along!

Definitely stop by and take a look at the many carried answers to the sometimes fun, sometimes thought provoking lines to complete.

This week’s statements:
1. Lately, I have been feeling a little___________

2. I am usually a ______
3. ________________________is always the best feeling at the end of the day
4. _________________________is the first thing I do in the morning

My answers:

Lately I’ve been feeling a little sluggish and excited. That’s this time of year for me. From the time baking starts to the end of the year I feel a little of that holiday stress. It’s the good kind of stress, exciting stress, but while I’m hustling and bustling to get things ready and get all the baking done, I’d have to say I eat poorly. I sample the baked goods, enjoy holiday candies and skip meals. Not the best way to feel full speed. Hard as I work to lose the other over 11 months, I gain a little and honestly, by the week in between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, I’m eating more veggies again and looking forward to getting back on track and tackling my new goals.

I am usually a planner. I was successful as a producer/project manager because I’ve always planned every detail from having my school clothes picked out before bed to my daily and hourly baking schedules for the holidays. The scariest thing in my married life is that I travel with my husband without an itinerary. I’d NEVER done that before I met David!

Snuggling under the quilts with David and the cats is always the best feeling at the end of the day.

Take my pills and vitamins and go downstairs for a cup of coffee is the first thing I do in the morning.

Come on and join the fun!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Well Hello Old Friend!

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Slim-Fast for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.
I’ll be posting my goals for 2012 soon and of course, reaffirming my weight loss goals will be among them, as always. I was checking out the Slim-Fast website. I used Slim Fast back round 1990, successfully; I dropped 15 pounds over the summer before trade school, including a week’s vacation! Back then it was a few flavors of powdered mix that you put in a shaker with water and ice to make the shakes. I tried the vanilla, but I pretty much got the chocolate most of the time. It was filling and tasty for 2 meals a day with healthy dinner. Boy Slim-Fast has grown while its customers have shrunk!
Now the plan has evolved to 6 meals a day, the Slim-Fast 3-2-1 plan. The plan is 3 healthy snacks which include fruits or veggies, nuts or a delicious 100-calorie Slim-Fast snack bar, tasty and new since I last tried Slim-Fast. The 2 is a shake, which comes in the powdered type and ready to drink shakes in vanilla and two chocolate flavors plus cappuccino and strawberry! And you’re not limited to drinking your meal replacement now. The 2 in 3-2-1 can be a meal replacement bar in any of several varieties of chocolate, sweet and salty and Fruit and Yogurt. The one is a balanced meal with meat or a vegetarian protein vegetables and a whole grain for about 500 calories.
Get your Slim-Fast meal replacements and snack bars the same places I used to get them, like Kroger or Target, but updating with the times, you can order online at Amazon or The Drug Store. Also moving with the convenience of the times and being part of social networking, you can follow Slim-Fast on Facebook and get information and support from fellow dieters who have had and are having success with the 3-2-1 program. I liked them and you should too if you want to be notified every time something wonderful, a new success happens!
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Vintage Thingie Thursday

As the year nears its end and we’ll soon be counting down the seconds until 2012, I thought it might be neat to share a beloved vintage timepiece!

This was one of the pieces I really liked from my great-grandmother’s treasures. I believe the watch-necklace is costume jewelry. I’ve seen very similar watch pendants from the late 20s and that does fit my great-grandmother’s style! Mums was always a bit of a fashionista, from her flapper-influenced look in the 20s to her 80s animal prints. She’s the one who told me, from my Sweet 16 on, numerous times, that I needed to leave the top couple buttons unbuttoned to “give the boys just a little something to think about.” So a young Opal answering “what time is it?” with “oh, I have the time right here” kinda fits. She was always a lady, but always a bit of a flirt too!

When it’s wound it keeps time for a few minutes, but it stops and starts with certain movements that I haven’t figured out why they make it start and stop again, but it’s still a beautiful pendant to wear. I wore the necklace to dinner for our anniversary this year and David noticed it and asked about it. That gave me a little chuckle. Mums was right. I married the boy and it still gives him something to think about!

See more vintage treasures at Vintage Thingie Thursday!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Photoblog Wednesday

The Lights Before Christmas
Toledo Zoo

Anthony Wayne Trail Entrance to the Main Zoo

These were actually the lights after Christmas
Wednesday night, December 28, 2011, David, Rina and Nani.
It was cold, gorgeous and fun!

Fantasy Football

Article written by guest blogger, Victor Flowers

My husband loves fantasy football. We have clear internet through http://clearwirelessinternetservice.com, and every Sunday he spends the whole day online, checking his fantasy football scores. While I give him a hard time about how much time he spends on fantasy football, I actually think it is pretty cool how close he and his high school buddies have stayed over the years. He still keeps in touch with the same group of seven guys that he went to high school with. Even in their mid-thirties, the guys get together every year for holiday parties and the fantasy football draft. Even though they are spread out all over the country, they will meet in a central location to have a guys’ weekend every year or two. It is really amazing the friendships that they have created over the years. Several of his close friends are in the military, but they guys will work around everyone’s schedule to make sure everyone can be there when they get together. I can honestly say that they are some of the closest friends I have ever seen. The wives have even become close over the years. It is a true blessing to have the lasting friendships that my husband has developed, even if it is aided by fantasy football.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas For The Record

First sleet, then snow, it’s a little foggy, slushy and there is slippy slush in the driveway and we were out in it. Winter, bleh.

But we’re home now and all is good! I have homemade peppermint mocha in a SpongeBob mug and Rina has a peppermint tea. It’s relax and play on the computer time. We braved the slush to go to our favorite Toledo Middle Eastern restaurant, Ya Halla and to ship a package she was sending to a friend.

Contrary to what this week’s Mug Shot may lead you to believe, this Christmas was not just about coffee! Since I had everything I’d want from the Eastern Market already, except hard candy peanuts, for which Tori and Rina searched but couldn’t find, I opted out of the trip thus year so I could finish some preparations at home. Rina was coming home with us after Christmas Eve dinner at, my cousin, Lisa’s place.

David and I met up with everyone at Dad’s first. We decided that, wince Lisa and her family had moved to closer to us instead of farther out from Dad, that we’d exchange our family gifts there first so we could leave for Toledo right from Lisa’s.

The highlight for me was Tori and Rina getting their ornaments. I grumble at myself because this year I didn’t get pictures. I need to start photographing everything before I wrap it so I can at least journal about it! In that pic above, taken by David, Tori is looking at me saying, “Oh Nana, thank you!” with a glassy eyes and a warm smile. I had ornaments done in their respective favorite colors with their names on them from Bronners, just like my Mom had done for them when they were born. They’d lost those ornaments in moving and really missed them. They came with ornament stands for four ornaments. I figured they can have them for their dorm desks next year with those ornaments from me with a special memory of their Grams with room for the ornaments I gave them last year and a couple of other special ones. Hopefully they’ll be inspiring reminders of how great they are while studying for exams before they come home for Christmas! David and I gave Dave and Laura a neon Tiki Bar sign for their entertainment room. I was happy to receive am electric cake pop maker! Rina and I had talked about trying it out this week, bu9t there are still so many8 sweets in the house! Cake pops together may be on a future visit.

Christmas morning was fun! It’s been just David and me as long as we’ve been together and this is our seventh Christmas. This year Rina was with us and it was so cool! I set up the breakfast tray and the fruit spears I made with chop sticks. Rina got a chuckle out of that. Then we opened stockings. It was fun putting stockings together for Rina and David!

Rina’s very warm fleece scarf

She also got a Wolf pendant that she’s worn every day since she got it. (Proud of herself auntie!) David had a very digital Christmas as he courageously embarks on the journey from film to digital!

Of course he’ll need flash drives to bring his “slides” to railfan gatherings!

This one is the first of his 12 steps. Understanding where his film went! The flash drives made with old film canisters were so cool

The flash drives as well as a cup that looks enough like a Cannon lens to be confusing, were all from Photo Jojo. They have a plethora of useful and whimsical gadgets for photographers. I loved shopping that site for him. (Edna, if you haven’t been. you should check out the site! He also got a card for his digital camera and a card reader so his computer can talk with the cards.

For his big present he got the slide scanner he’d asked for. Now is time to start scanning a couple decades of slides! I see, for my holiday efforts, a number of nights in the near future of frustration helping him learn all the new toys, but I’m confident that it’ll be totally worth it when he produces his first digital train sound and photo show!

I hope you all had as Merry a Christmas as we did!

Barn Charm

I’m not leaving you all on a Tuesday without a barn!

This pic was taken on December 18, just north of Dexter Michigan the way to a Christmas party. I saw it and said, “Ooo, gray barn! Stop!” The sun was hitting it just right and in addition to “gray barn” I like the stone base. It’s just a sweet shot!

Okay, games time with David and Rina starts soon, so I’m off to continue to enjoy my Sweetie’s visit!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Monday Mug Shot

SpongeBob Squarepants

It was a very coffee Christmas in Naniland! My surprise gifts from my cousin were just the start of something…something truly inspired and caffeinated!

Okay, technically, the SpongeBob mugs aren’t coffee mugs. They came with packets of hot chocolate. Believe it or not, they are marketed for kids! I’m a SpongeBob fan. I even watch it when there are no kids around. I credit Tori and Rina for introducing me when they were little. Much in the Bugs Bunny spirit, SpongeBob Squarepants is written on 2 levels, for the kids and their parents. There are so many references and musical moments tipping their hats to the 80s that a parent of kids in the 90s can’t help but laugh along. That includes an actively participating aunt of kids born in 1994! So when David saw the SpongeBob mug set sitting next to the Disney Princess set he picked out for JP, he picked it up for me. I’m guessing that he bought them at the same time because going back to a store a second time is so NOT a guy thing.

A week after my surprise K-Cups from my Cuz, we hosted UNO and the Fabulous Dessert Bar. Sheri brought me the sweetest gift basket! Now, she had not read my blog about the difference between a coffee gift from a man and a coffee gift from a woman, but she gave me a half pound bag of Starbucks Christmas Blend with a few packages of cookies to go with, which included a Caramel Macchiato Biscotti that was heavenly, and a wonderfully aromatic rosemary “tree.”

Sheri apologized because she’d forgotten about me having the Keurig Brewer, but I’d told her it was fine because Starbucks Christmas Blend is a holiday favorite of mine that doesn’t come in K-Cups and I could use my My K-Cup adapter to make Christmas Blend cups. When I posted pictures from UNO on Facebook, she apologized again about not getting K-Cups, an unnecessary apology because I am SO glad to have my Starbucks Holiday Blend, but even more unnecessary with the reply I gave to her comment. “And then the Keurig died, so you kinda saved Christmas. ”

It’s true! On December 19, the Keurig was acting up. It was only brewing a half a cup of coffee. I went to the help page to troubleshoot. I descaled it, running undiluted vinegar through it, a few times, still a half cup of vinegar. Then I went through the steps for unclogging the spout where the coffee comes out. Now it wouldn’t stay closed. When I did coax it to staying closed, the first time it still only brewed a half cup. I brushed the exit spout again. This time it stayed closed but as the water was heating, it popped open with a force that made me jump. The coffee pot that I considered our best wedding gift died less than 4 days before our third anniversary.

I was looking for a new Keurig maker as soon as the final drip fell from the old maker. I mean, never having stale coffee, a great variety, not overdoing the caffeine and the fact that from when we got it, the maker lived 2-1/2 years of everyday use with moving parts that are moved quite a bit by human hands for every cup, it really was quite durable and the coffee that wasn’t wasted alone paid for the extra cost of the portion packs. I chose the Keurig Elite, which is a small upgrade from what we had. The old pot was a B30, a single cup at a time pot that required a water refill for each cup. The elite was a little more expensive than the original price on the old brewer, but not much and it has a water reservoir so you can make one cup right after another without adding water. The reviews on it are great. I don’t buy for myself at this time of year, well maybe now after Christmas, but I figured I’d be able to use my coffee bucks, that is the coffee fund I save from my blog sponsor earnings, to buy the Elite by the end of January. I haven’t made an 11th Street Coffee purchase in a few months, so I’m not far from affording the Elite!

A friend suggested on Twitter that I could “ask Santa Dave” for the coffee maker. But I’d already asked for a wand scanner for scrapbooking and truth be told, I wouldn’t buy myself the wand scanner, not right away, because it’s a want not a need. Yeah, coffee is a NEED! I told David that too.

Working my way up to Christmas Eve I’d made a pot of coffee on Wednesday and kept it in the thermos carafe. The second day it was warm and I nuked a cup to get it hot. Friday it was cold and I nuked the last cup. Dilemma: Christmas Eve morning coffee. I can make a pot of the Christmas Blend, but then we’re reheating day old coffee on Christmas morning, or I can go without and make fresh for Christmas. David’s answer? “This is too big to wrap, so you get it early.” MY new Keurig Elite! On Christmas morning, I got my bag of Verona and 2 boxes of K-Cups from “Santa Dave” too! It was a Joyously Java Christmas indeed!

By the way, David and I are going out to pick out the rest of the main gift, probably in January my wand scanner! Remember what I said about giving and receiving? I’m spoiled generous!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Davinities Bakery is Closed

Crostada Due

With 2-1/2 dozen Chocolate Chunk Hazelnut cookies and 6 crostadas yesterday, the baking is done. I did all 6 crostadas as “Crostada Due” (pronounced /DOO-ay/) Due is Italian for the number 2. Each crostada has 2 flavors of jam, including two Simply Fruit crostadas that are black cherry-apricot.

The last of David’s gifts got here today and I can’t wait for him to open them. They are TOO COOL! I’ll post pictures some time after Christmas. I regret that I couldn’t link up the place for shopping, but they are backordered on almost everything, so I didn’t hurt their business. We all have other gift-giving occasions that a link later will still be handy!

While we’re talking about gift, I want to give Edna a warm thank you at The Chronicles of Nani! Edna sent the sweetest steam train salt and pepper shakers and one of her calendars. The salt and pepper shakers are from Ludington, Michigan, they say so on top.

Thank you, Edna!

I never thought I’d get one of the calendars Edna was talking about on her blog. I don’t hide the fact that I love her photography. She does incredible wildlife and nature photos and her signature shot is catching the rain or dewdrops on flowers, just stunning work!

Vintage Thingie Thursday

Time to make Krisp Kringles again!

I have a couple of kitchen items today. Now these are “in my lifetime” and I’m not quite vintage yet, but they are appropriate for the last Vintage Thingy Thursday before Christmas.

First is this Christmas tray. It’s from the late 70’s. I remember that we got a few trays like this just after we moved to Northville.

The second item is actually just a tad older than me.

The double boiler is part of the pots and pans set my parents received as a wedding gift. It’s also the double boiler that melted the peanut butter and butterscotch for the very first Davinity in 1973, when I was 7. In the recipe book, they were then called Scotch Krispies. They got their renaming at the same time I created the first Davinities logo, in my early 20s.

When Mom got her first set of non-stick pots, in the 80s some time, she was going to get rid of the double boiler. It had that dent in it then and the new pans had a double boiler. I asked her if I could have the old double boiler. It was the double boiler I always made Dad’s candy in. The double boiler had a spot in the pantry and from then on came out only once a year to make Krisp Kringles. It lives in the back of our pots and pans cupboard under the range now and it still makes the candies I made for Pop, the very first Davinity. When the doubleboiler comes out, Christmas season is official!

See more cool vintage treasures at Colorado Lady’s Vintage Thingie Thursday

Wishing everyone a very happy holiday season and A Merry Christmas to everyone who will be celebrating with me this weekend.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Photoblog Wednesday

Tori, Christmas Eve 2000

This is the other half of last week's Photoblog. I'm telling ya, they really are twins. Tori's just always been older than her age!

Tori wanted "something different" for her hair. She's always been on top of trends, yes, even at six years old. She wanted the Topsy Tail style like she'd seen on TV. I didn't have a Topsy Tail but that didn't matter. She had a "Nana can make it work" attitude when she wanted something fashionable we didn't have. She often gave me challenges, but this one wasn't so bad. I got pipe cleaners out of the craft cabinet and made our own Topsy Tail!

She screeched a couple times because it pulled and I told her if it hurts we can do a different style, but she insisted that it would be worth it. After getting the tail right, we curled a few wispy tendrils and our young diva was ready for her shoot in front of the family tree.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Tuesday Editions

Yesterday was a very busy. Remember I said some time last week that that was the busy week and I’d be able to take it a bit easier this week? Yeah, right who am I kidding?

Part of it is my own greatness. Hehehe… This has been just a bumper-crop year at the Davinities cookie farm! When the cookie trays came out Saturday they went fast! I had to refill from the trays of extras in the kitchen! And I have to agree that the cookies did turn out really tasty this year. I had made “favors,” cookie bags to take home, for everyone and they were all were quite eager to make sure they grabbed their bag before they left. That makes me so happy!

I was a little shy on my normal amount of fine chocolates for the party this year, but the cookies actually went in more abundance. After restocking the party trays, it leaves me a little shy for Christmas, so I’m fortifying my resources! The Chewy Black Forest was a large batch, so I don’t need to make more of those, same with the Almond Sugar Cookies, but the Mr. Goodcookies and especially the Chocolate Chunk Hazelnut and Gingerbread are completely gone.

Now I will make a point of making sure it’s known that David ate the last Chocolate Chunk Hazelnut and I ate the last Gingerbread cookie yesterday. So, I did NOT run out of anything at the party. My Noni would be sitting next to me with that tilted hand accenting every word, half in Italian. It would not be a friendly Heavenly visit! A host running out of something their guests are enjoying is a mortal sin!

So today’s original schedule, which was one Loaded Loaf and finish the wrapping, is now a Loaded Loaf and Gingerbread cookies and finish wrapping. The Chocolate Chunk Hazelnuts are added to Crostadas tomorrow. I still have about 8 Mr. Goodcookies left and I’ll use half on the tray for home and the rest on the tray I take to Pop’s Christmas Eve. I’m still trying to not have any baking left on Thursday. We’ll see what happens there. David is working Friday night, our anniversary, so we’re doing dinner the night before. No gripes about him working that night. He worked the night shift the day we got married too, so it’s kinda romantic that he’s working!

Meet Me On Monday on Tuesday

Yesterday's busy was just enough that I didn’t get all my regular Monday blogging stuff done. It happens sometimes and by the time I got groceries and couple more little stocking things done and, well, I was beat! David and I went out and got our ham for Christmas last night and the scooters at the Andersons were all charging. I know from shopping earlier that yesterday was a busy grocery day. So we took out the wheelchair and used that. Even with David pushing a good part of the time, my arms were in the “falling off” mode!

But, a day late and a candy cane short (because I ate it) here’s Meet Me On Monday!

Every Monday Java at Never Growing Old gives us 5 questions to get to know each other better. Well, since the next two Mondays will not have MMOM questions because of the holidays the next 2 Sundays, we have 15 questions, to fill in for those weeks. The theme is Christmas Prep!

This Week’s Questions:

1.Wrapping paper or gift bags? I like gift bags, but I usually don’t have tissue paper, so most of the time I wrap.

2. Real or artificial tree? Artificial.

3. When do you put your tree up? I used to do all my decorating the day after Thanksgiving or the day after I got home when we started going to Grandma’s. Now it's when David and I can coordinate schedules.

4. When do you take your tree down? After Epiphany, January 6. David and I were both raised recognizing when the Wise Men got there. My Mom set up her Nativity with the Wise Men far away from the stable and after Christmas Day began to move them a little closer every day

5. Do you like eggnog? Yes I do and so does Rina, so I made sure to get some when I did the groceries yesterday.

6. Do you have a nativity scene?
I got the stable and holy family in my Nativity when I was 21. It’s Fontanini and I love the Old Italian look. I’ve collected other pieces bit by bit. In addition to Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus, I have the animals, Wise Men, several shepherds and shepherdesses with sheep and a sheep dog, villagers, musicians and barn cats. A certain orange house cat has gotten much better about staying out of the Nativity.

Baby Kaline just wanted to nap with Baby Jesus?

7. Favorite Christmas Movie? Early in the season, Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer, and near or on Christmas, It’s A Wonderful Life

8. Favorite Christmas cookie? This year, all of them! (very proud!) But I most pleased with having found and tweaked the perfect gingerbread recipe for which I’ve been searching about ten years! I’ve always bought gingerbread because mine just wasn’t good enough. This year, I’m making more gingerbread!

9. Where will you eat Christmas dinner? David, Rina and I will have Honey Baked Ham in Toledo. Our big family dinner is Christmas Eve at my cousin’s. It’s a traditional fish dinner, mostly fried. I’ll enjoy the family at that meal, the food at home on Christmas.

10. Angel, bow or star on top of your tree? Angel. I bought that angel when I bought the first Fontanini pieces.

11. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? That fried fish dinner?

12. Do you like Fruitcake? Traditional fruit cake, no. I have tried some variations that have been good and I loved the Celebration Generation fruit cake cookies! I have the recipe for those too!

13. What are you most excited about the holidays? This year, I’m totally geeked that Rina will be with us on Christmas Day. David is fine with some of the traditions that I keep, but Rina "gets" them because she grew up with them too.

14. Do you open presents Christmas Eve or Christmas Morning? Christmas morning. As a kid it was always after church, which meant the first place Dave and I went after midnight mass was to see if Santa had stopped while we were in church. He never did. We figured maybe he went in alphabetical order and Southgate was pretty far down on the list.

15. Will you still be wrapping presents on Christmas Eve? I want to say “I hope not,” but if something jumps out at me and says, “Just one more, I’d be a great stocking topper,” I’ll end up wrapping Christmas Eve.

See more Meet Me On Mondays and maybe even join in on the fun!

Barn Charm

In honor of the Christmas holiday, which will be past us by the next Barn Charm, I’m going a little off the strict interpretation of a barn because when I saw this I loved it!

These guys were hard at work on top of the entertainment center last weekend at a friend’s Christmas party.

The party was hosted by a friend of David’s, the host for train operating sessions with the group of guys he does model railroading with in Michigan. It was my first time meeting Mike, the host, and the rest of the guys. I was not the only wife there, but I may very well be the only wife who drooled over the CTC system he has in a control room upstairs. It's a vintage real deal that he has wired for his layout in the basement. The operating sessions are SO authentic. I told David I want one for our layout with a mug rack over it. Dispatching is a perfect job for someone who can’t do the standing. But I’d want less authentic video so I can see the trains too

For the barn purists, I also offer this one that we shot on the way to hockey last weekend in Connecticut:

There are lots of barns in the neighborhoods near Ben’s place. Some have been converted to garages or out buildings of that type, but a lot of the barns are kept up and are part of the beautiful antique homes.

See more barns this week at Tricia’s Barn Charm at Bluff Area Daily.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Monday Mug Shot

It’s Crunch Time!

Doesn’t Christmas on the weekend make more stress? I don’t think it’s bad stress, it’s more that It energizes me and makes me relapse in my type-A-ness. But I’ve learned how to channel my type-A and just garb those reins when there is a project to be done. It took a long time to make myself learn that discipline!

This mug was Grandma’s. While she usually came to our house about two weeks before Christmas and stayed until New Year’s Day, going home after the`- celebrating in the new year, she drank her coffee from a Christmas cup all of December. I think that’s where Mom got the need for appropriate Christmas glassware and mugs from. I got it from both of them!

I inherited the type-A thing from Grandma too, to an extent. Grandma was one of the first women in management positions at the Kresge Corporation. She’d been the store manager at 2 different Kresges. Every year on Christmas Day, she had to take a break from the festivities to go check on the store, make sure all looked good and safe and the closed store was having a quiet Christmas. That’s dedication. But what I failed to realize, or to remember anyway, when I started my professional days was that when she did her store-check on Christmas, Papa always went with her and when she came back, she was all smiles and picked right up where she left off in bubbly conversations, games and nibbles. Her standard answer when someone asked her how the store was, “It’s still there,” and that was all she said about it. She was dedicated, but knew how to separate what you do for a living and what you do for a life. It took me a decade to figure that out and I never asked, maybe it did for her too, maybe that’s why she was offered the management positions first. The thing is she was great at balancing work, family and parenting before it was even a thought of being necessary for anyone! She could also in 2 hours every Wednesday, her day off and one that I spent with her in the summer a few times when I was little, she could vacuum and dust the house, do dishes and scrub things that needed scrubbed. She was the Energizer Bunny before anyone knew there was one too. Maybe she was the model for the advertising icon?

2009 was the last Christmas I had with Grandma. She was in assisted living, in the memory care wing. She was still very Grandma in that she seemed to forget the unpleasant things, but remembered the better things. She didn’t remember that Papa and my Mom had already gone. At Thanksgiving she asked if they were coming to dinner. Thankfully, she also thought we shouldn’t let dinner get cold and they could eat when they got there.

That last Christmas she asked me to bring her checkbook and buy her some Christmas cards so she could write her gift checks. I had closed her checking account and opened one local to me for her so I could pay her bills, I kept the old checks and kept the register up including the Social Security and pension deposits so she could see that the bills were paid and write the Christmas checks. I rewrote the checks from the actual account before giving them. She was mentally okay in remembering to whom she gave gifts and where she kept the record of how much. By about half way through her cards she began to get tired. That’s when she stated getting confused and we decided to finish the cards another day.

I tried to time my visits so I could spend a couple hours with her before the time of day where she got tired, but doing the Christmas cards tired her out quicker than when just talked. I still have the Christmas card that she made out for me. It’s signed on the wrong side of the card and her handwriting had gotten pretty sloppy, but it’s still a special treasure to me. That card, perhaps more than her mug, but the mug brings me back to the card, lets me relive the precious moments of my last Christmas as a granddaughter. It reminds me of how blessed I am to have started my life as a beloved granddaughter to four and held that title, beloved granddaughter, for 43 years. It’s through the holiday traditions and memories that the ones we love never really leave us, they’re never really far away.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Receiving – Almost As Good As Giving!

I don’t mean that title in a corny or sarcastic way. I mean it quite sincerely. Receiving makes you feel loved. Giving makes you feel worth loving.

There is a way cool trend this holiday season at K-Mart stores all over. Strangers are paying off layaways! I think that is so cool! The USA story in links starts with a man with his three kids looking to pay a little on a layaway that he won’t be able to pay off and take home before Christmas. The assistant manager told him he couldn’t pay anything because she was paying it. The man was in tears when he realized she wasn’t joking. Anonymous donors are paying off layaways at K-Mart stores all over the country. How awesome!

I loved preparing my gift for the Secret Santa Soiree and the fun in sending it. I love sending gifts to friends I won’t see in person and I love baking my dozens of cookies for gifts and parties. Those are the things that make me feel truly happy. This past week has been the other side of that. This week, I’ve been the receiver!

Last night when David came in, he brought a box that was on the steps. It was from my Secret Santa!

Inside the box, there was another box, a beautiful box with a ribbon and a sparkly snowflake!

And inside that box was a box from Avon!

There was eau de partum spray, shower gel and lotion, a very nice set! I recall that I mentioned that nobody ever gives me things like that, so it was a very nice treat. I’m not familiar with the fragrance and burning the candle at both ends at this time of year gets me a little run down. My sense of smell, stuffed up, is the first thing to go, so it’ll be a few days before I get to truly appreciate that!

This was the real Secret Santa gift. At the end of last week, the day we left for Connecticut, I thought my Secret Santa Soirée gift had come in. There was a box, with my own address as the return address. Pretty sneaky! It also was addressed to Nani. I use my full name, so it matches the credit card, on orders that I buy for other people. If it’s addressed to Nani, it’s a gift for me rather than from me!

Inside the box was two packages in blue Santa paper I photoed everything so I could post it on my blog.

There wasn’t a card or any indication whom it was from. I opened the first box. Caribou K-Cups! I had just commented to David that very morning that we were almost out of unflavored coffee and I’d probably need to get some more at the store since I wasn’t planning on making an 11th Street Coffee order before the end of the year.

Box number two was more K-Cups! These ones were Green Mountain Nantucket Blend. The truth here is that I was going to buy Caribou to replenish our supply! Nantucket is a blend I tried and liked with the starter-pack that came with our brewer.

Still, cool a gift as it was, there was something not quite right. It just didn’t seem like a gift from a woman. Not that a woman wouldn’t give coffee as a gift, but if it was a gift of coffee from another woman, I’d think it might be one box of K-Cups with a mug or cookies. A man gives generous amounts of GOOD COFFEE and a woman gives a coffee experience.

So, I checked the return address again. When I first noted it, I commented, “Wow, small world! I have a cousin from that town!” Hmm… that cousin also happens to be a male cousin! So I hopped onto the email before publishing that my Secret Santa gift was here, likely confusing the real SS. He tried to deny it, but that darned honesty thing is a family trait.

So, I had 2 Secret Santas, one was my cousin who gave me serious coffee in blends I really like and the other, who is still unknown, who gave Avon, definitely a woman-given gift! I don’t have a lot of clues, but maybe I‘ll get some time to do some sleuthing.

Thank you so much to both of my awesome Secret Santas!


K-Mart Secret Santas

See more Secret Santa reveals at Colorado Lady
Secret Santa Soirée *** means the reveal is postedLink

Friday, December 16, 2011

Friday By Fill-In

I didn’t get a request for Friday By Request this week, so there isn’t one, but if anyone has a request for next week, by all means, send it in! Email me a topic, anything you want me to write about. I’ve had some pretty neat challenges over the years. I’ve done poetry, I was asked to write about how David and I met, I was asked what I’d change if I could change one thing in my life, David asked me to Photoshop Kaline's and Baggle’s heads on each other’s bodies and I’ve even rewritten hit song lyrics from the other gender’s point of view. You see, there is very little I won’t try in the way of a challenge! As the one who challenges me, I can link to your blog or you can remain anonymous. Just let me know what you’d prefer.

I’m actually finishing the busy week today. I’ll finish the baking, Almond Sugar Cookies, Krisp Kringles and Gingerbread cut-outs and David will get the tree up and we’ll add ornaments before he leaves for work, night shift tonight. Hey, that gives me some wrap-up time with the baking and maybe even a little bit of scrapping time!

Another plus – David made hot breakfast this morning! Eggs and scrapple. He stocked up on the scrapple that was his favorite growing up when we were East last weekend. I was prepared for a treat! He was so happy that I liked scrapple when I tried it and often told me Parks was the best, better than any brand I’d tried. He was SO right!

Now I’m all breakfasted up and ready for more baking. I made 9 dozen cookies yesterday and will probably make more than that today. I grouped things on purpose – the Krisp Kringles are super easy and fairly quick to make. Remember this is the original Davinity and I made them with only supervision from my Mom when I was seven years old. They were a lot harder to make then!

Before I head back to the kitchen, I was invited to check out the Friday Four Fill-In at Feeling Beachie in the comments at The Chronicles of Nani. It’s a quick and fun blog and I’m going to try it out. Here we go:

This week’s fill-ins –

1. ____ is my ideal winter night.
2. I don’t remember the last time I ___ but, I really want to.
3. I will never turn down __________
4. To save money I like to ____________

____ is my ideal winter night.

I think I experienced my ideal winter night in 2005. David was meeting me on the night before Thanksgiving to drive up to Grandma’s after he finished work. Dad and Aunt Judy were already there and Dad called to tell me to come up in the morning because the snow was so bad. When David got to my house, we started a fire in the fireplace and had ravioli, with my homemade sauce, and red wine sitting by the fire with the snow falling outside.

I don’t remember the last time I ___ but, I really want to.

Curled up on the couch with a big bowl of popcorn and watched Gone With The Wind from open to end. It’s my favorite movie and every now and then, ya just gotta, ya know?

I will never turn down __________

I’ll never turn down an opportunity to go to a baseball game, or anything baseball for that matter. Ever since I was a kid, if you want to sell me something, put a baseball on it. Seriously, I chewed Home Run gumballs because they had baseball terms on them and when they did hand dipped ice cream at Lugnuts games, even though there was chocolate, I always got “Batter Pecan” because of the baseball name. Put a baseball on it and I have to have it!

To save money I like to ____________

Choose restaurants that don’t serve liquor when I go out to eat with friends. A simple salad doubles in price if you can have a glass of wine with it.

Want more? Want to join in? Head on over to Feeling Beachie!


Thursday, December 15, 2011


Those are the sounds of the day here. Beep is the timer on the oven, Poof is what the cocoa did to me when I was making the Black Forest Cookie dough and Woosh is what the wind is doing outside. Right now, Huhhhhhhhh is the sound of me sighing, tired. I need to rest a bit before I put the Black Forest Cookies on the sheets for baking.

I’m a little behind, just a little. I need to finish clearing off the dining room table. I've been clearing a little bit of the buffet every break today. Now everything I had that needed put away on the buffet is on the table, en route to its destination. I haven’t started putting our cards up yet. They’re in one pile, still on the buffet. We display cards in 2 places, just as there are 2 different cards we send. We do a family card with pictures of us and the “kids” and a card with our best snowy train for our railfan friends. We don’t credit the photos because we use a snow shot from someplace we were together. But, this year the photo is mine from the show day in Indiana the last day of November! David is changing over from slides to digital now. It’s been my photo one other time and I think I should just gaze upon the card this year in all my ego’s glory. I fear that when David, with a much better camera and a much more able body to get the shot, will likely be the photographer from 2012 on. But I’ll still be there for every Christmas card shot!

The closet door at the base of the stairs is where we display the train cards and those ones stay up until the next Christmas, all train photos from our friends. It’s neat door wallpaper! The other non-train cards and photo cards go on the French doors in the dining room. They stay up until mid-January and are the last Christmas decoration to come down.

I LOVE cards! I keep them, thinking, remembering, the people who sent them. I have birthday cards, valentines, graduation cards and some sweet “just because” cards in my cedar chest along with all those Christmas cards. When all is said and done, those are my certificates for my stocks, the investments that have the greatest value in my world, the people who make it a great one to live in!

Chocolate Chunk Hazelnut Cookies

I’ve finished the Mr. Goodcookies and the Chocolate Chunk Hazelnut cookies. I know I was going to come up with a pretentious Euro-sounding name, but David said “Just call them Chocolate Chunk Hazelnut!” Since I created them for him, I guess I ought to go with what he wants to call them. Now there’s a bowl of Black Forest Cookie dough in the kitchen which I’ll bake as soon as I post this. I’d wanted, planned, to have the Loaded Loaf done by dinnertime too, but it looks like that will wait until after dinner. David worked early, so he may be home early and I want counter space for spaghetti making.

Kitchen Sink Cookies

It seems the Davinities Test Kitchen is always open. After I made a couple dozen Goodcookies I had about three, maybe four left in dough. I had about five left in the hazelnut. I already had 5 dozen cookies made, so rather than baking a half and half pan, I made half and half cookies! I mixed the 2 pieces of dough together and threw in some raisins. YUM! That’s not going to become a holiday Davinity. It made 8 cookies with semisweet and milk chocolate, hazelnuts, peanuts and raisins. It’s possible that’s combination only a Nani would love, but love it I do!

Okay, back to the kitchen. I have back forest cookies to bake, spaghetti to make and then a Loaded Loaf before the night is over. I also want my Nativity up before bed!

Vintage Cookies

Here is my, very personally topical, offering for Vintage Thingie Thursday.

These might be older than me. I don’t know if they were something my Mom had when she was younger or if it was something she bought after she got married. I suspect it was the former since I don’t ever remember them not being in the house I lived in. I also have no memory of them ever looking new. They are the card suits. I don’t know what happened to the club, but I do remember eating cookies shaped like clubs when I was little!

Now back to 2011 baking!

See more vintage things!

On Schedule So Far

I was up at 6:30 this morning. My alarm is set for 7:05, but I almost always wake up before it goes off. That’s not a bad thing since David sleeps later and it means the alarm, which is on my phone, leaves the room with me before it goes off and wakes him. Today he was out early for a work meeting anyway, but I do try to think of him!

The first thing I did was take the butter out of the fridge to soften. That was the first thing on my “to do” list. The second thing wasn’t as successful. I had a couple bakery calls to make. My Mom used to have fabulous breakfast trays on Christmas Morning that everyone munched on while we opened presents. Remember I told you about Mom and Christmas? Opening presents on Christmas morning was a few hours! Pop put the Yule Log in the fireplace and started the fire. I put the video fireplace on. The video fire was no competition for the real thing, but the music was great Christmas music and it set the mood well!

Then everyone else trickled in. At different point in my life it was a different cast. When Dave and I were the kids for whom the lion’s share of Mom’s Christmas Mountain was there, Grandma and Papa would drive in to Southgate from their home in Detroit. That included more huge sacks for Grandma’s only child, her spouse and her only 2 grandkids! After we moved to Northville, Grandma and Papa would stay at Mums’ house and the three of them came over. The traditions have changed, some slightly, some a lot. They grew and accommodated as our family changed.

Christmas for eight, Mom-style

When we had new twin girls in the family, Mom made a new stocking. Rina, who is 2 minutes older, got her Dad’s huge stocking and Tori had a new one made for her. The huge stockings really weren’t discernible from each other. Mom still did my huge stocking because I didn’t have kids of my own. Boy, she’d be buying LOTS of cat toys now! At the time when the girls came into our family, Papa had passed and Mums was in a senior assisted living apartment. So Grandma joined us from the downstairs bedroom.

Christmas 1996 - The first real excitement about Santa

In 1996, I worked for a company that did seminars for Fortune 1000 companies. I brought home leftovers from a fabulous breakfast sweets tray we’d had at the office from a company in Troy, Michigan, about an hour’s drive from us! Mom was so impressed she suggested taking a ride out on Saturday to see the bakery. 2 annual trips to Ridley's Café and Bakery became a new tradition. The first was just after Thanksgiving to have a wonderful lunch and order our breakfast for Christmas. The second was a stop on Christmas Eve afternoon to pick up that tray. We had a tray of mini muffins and pastries with small loaf slices and fruit-kabobs every year until 2003. Mom passed in 2003 and to be honest, I couldn’t afford to keep up the Ridley’s tradition.

Ridley’s Breakfast Tray

This year, Rina will be with us on Christmas Morning and I thought it would be neat to enjoy a tradition we both loved and be able to introduce it to David. The problem is that Ridley’s is just way too far now and I can’t find anyplace locally that does that kind of tray. One bakery does mini Danish, but not mini muffins, one has cookies and cupcakes, but not muffins. Since I have a much looser schedule next week, I think I’ll order the mini Danish, get the mini muffins from a different place and make a couple mini loaded loaves and assemble my own Christmas Morning breakfast tray. I’ll also go to the grocery Friday after David leaves for work and get the fruit to make fruit kabobs. I will make this work!

Okay, now break time is over! Mr. Goodcookies are done and the Hazelnut Chocolate Chunk cookies are waiting to be put in the oven! I’ll come back after lunch with my Vintage Baking Thingies and some cookie photos!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Photoblog Wednesday

Rina, Christmas Eve 2000

Rina told me she wanted to be "pretty, like a present" for Christmas Eve dinner at my cousin's house. What she meant was she wanted curly ribbon like the gifts I'd wrapped and on my tree. We did pony tails and matched ribbon to the decal on her jumper.

It was her idea to sit next to the tree for a picture. She was cuter than the presents she was sitting with!