Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Post-Christmas Grinch

Yep, that's me. Today is officially the "enough lying around enjoying your school break" day. I've confiscated the laptop and the iTouch and they'll not be allowed any electronics until they get some things done.

Too harsh? (I hear you cry). What a cruel mother! Ah well, I'd post the photos to prove it but I don't want the Environmental Protection Agency showing up with "CONDEMNED" signs for my basement or a certain teen girl's room.

Worse, we have dinner guests this evening who have a small child who is still VERY close to the floor, so I need to get the floors clean today. So I've imposed the same limit on me -- no more computer until I get the floors clean. Hopefully I'll be back on tomorrow!

Missing the visiting and blogging and especially, Microfiction Monday, but the kids learn a lot better from example than nagging. I hope.

C'yall!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Oh So Merry Christmas!

We've had a nice Christmas celebration.

Our Christmas always starts on Christmas Eve. It is m-in-law's birthday. She married into a family that celebrated the German way - on Christmas Eve - so her birthday was always a bit overlooked. Many years ago, her two d's-in-law and then granddaughters as well started taking her to high tea at the Ritz Carlton to make sure SHE felt celebrated. It's been over twenty years now! We've seen a definite change in the Christmas decor and attention to detail at the hotel. This year things were really tawdry (dishes not clean, service pretty marginal), but the guest of honor was happy, so we just paid the bill and smiled. My mother was with us and that was really nice for my daughter.

Later we went to Christmas Candlelight service at church.

Yesterday morning the kids stayed in bed as requested until 7 am (another thing that has changed!). I had prepared an overnight breakfast to pop in the oven. Here's the recipe:

French Toast Casserole
1 stick butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 Tbs Real maple syrup
1 loaf hearty white bread, crusts removed
5 eggs
1 1/2 cup Half-N-Half
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp Grand Marnier (optional)

Combine the butter, brown sugar and syrup in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk until smooth, then pour into a 9 x 13 baking dish. Layer the slices of bread across the top of the mixture, two slices high. Mix the remaining ingredients in a bowl, and then pour across the top of the bread slices. Try to make sure each piece gets a wetting. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate over night.

In the morning, take the dish out of the refrigerator and let it warm up while you warm the oven up to 350 degrees. Bake the dish for 35 to 40 minutes until puffy. Yum!

And then the gift-opening began. I will say for my family who reads the blog - everyone was very loving and generous!

Mom and I worked on the dinner and finally, around 1:30, we sat down to a family feast. Mom cooking her cornbread dressing was what made the difference! It was delicious! Thank goodness there are left-overs!

Later in the afternoon we went to the in-laws for more presents and dessert. A lovely day enjoyed by all.

When we returned home we ate popcorn and watched the movie "UP" on the new big HDTV.

Perfect day!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Silly Haiku Wednesday

Jenn from You Know . . . that Blog?, hosts Silly Haiku Wednesday.


This week's theme is Crunch Time.

In view of our recent blizzard, I went a slightly different direction.

Icy crust on snow

Birds frantically seek suet

Squirrels venture out


and my other one:

Little baby boy

Slips between the folds of time

Hope and salvation

Ta-Dah!


Finally, got the REAL chocolate truffles done! This photo isn't the best, but the truffles are!

Easy to make:

Chocolate Truffles

2 pkgs semi-sweetened chocolate, separated
1 8oz pkg cream cheese, room temperature

Sprinkles

Place cream cheese in mixer. Melt one package (8 squares) in sauce pan. Add to cream cheese. Mix until thoroughly combined. Chill for at least one hour.

Roll mixture in small 1" balls. Should make about 36. Put each ball on wax paper. Stick a toothpick in the top of each one. Freeze for 30 minutes to an hour.

Melt remaining chocolate. Using toothpick, swirl each ball in chocolate until it is covered. Sprinkle decorations on top. Remove toothpick. Chill.

Trust me, one of these is enough to last a WHOLE holiday!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Tradition

Will never say "YES" to sleepover during Christmas season again.




Discovered Fringe Benefits of Helping LONG AGO!

Getting close to the end.


Sample of finished work.

One of our traditions is to make decorated cookies. Another is to drag some poor unsuspecting soul into helping us. Yesterday evening it was my daughter's friend "A". As my daughter, like her mom, slapped icing on these hummers working towards a goal of GETTING FINISHED, "A" meticulously outlined exactly what she wanted to do on each cookie...with toothpicks. TWO hours later, they were finally all either finished, or part of the reserve without icing that we maintain for someone around here who likes them better that way.

I have to say, these do not live up to the artistic standards of one of my favorite food blogs, but you can tell that kids did them, and had fun doing so. And they taste good!



These cookies are so easy. Even Thom could make them because they do not require using the OVEN! They taste like rice krispie squares but they're festive! We call them Holly Cookies because that's what they're supposed to look like. "A" says they look like red-eye tree frogs. Um . . . yeah, I guess if red-eye tree frogs have multiple eyes! They most certainly TASTE better than red-eye tree frogs would. . . I think.

Holly Cookies

1 stick margarine (1/2 cup)
30 large marshmallows
1/2 tsp green food coloring
4 1/2 cups corn flakes
red hot candies

Melt margarine and marshmallows together over low heat, stirring frequently. Add food coloring. Add corn flakes. Once corn flakes are coated, drop by spoonfuls onto waxed paper. Add red hots before the lava cools. (It helps to spray the spoons and the waxed paper with non-stick spray)

As for me, I'm pretty sick of cookies and icing at this point. I am going to re-make those truffles though. Stay tuned for photos.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Microfiction Monday


For Micro-fiction Monday Susan at Stony River challenges us to write a story, based on an illustration she provides, in 140 characters or fewer. That count includes spaces and punctuation! (Definitely makes that 2-spaces after a period convention go away!). Here is this week's illustration. Be sure to visit the others who play!


The gift Dumbledore had for Voldemort would not be anything the evil one could understand. For Christmas meant love, which conquers all.

Prayers Answered

The most fervent prayers of 2009 have been answered. Because there's no way all this snow will melt by Friday, we'll have a white Christmas (and they're talking about more on Christmas day). And because of the way snowplows work, and bus stops are buried in 4 feet of snow, school has been cancelled for this week. That's two blessings at once!

At the same time, if one drives carefully, the major roads are clear and we can get out to pick up things we need...like more baking chocolate.

Last week I made some absolutely BEAUTIFUL Christmas truffles. I'd never tried this recipe before and it worked perfectly. The physics of how the chocolate draped and ran over the filling, the sprinkling of red and green on top. Stunning. That evening I proudly presented them to my family and .... BLECH! We couldn't figure out why they were so terrible. Then a thought occurred to me. I asked my husband to reach into the bag of recycling and pull out the orange packaging.

Yep. It says UNSWEETENED chocolate. So today we'll pick up semi-sweetened and try again. You'd think someone who loves to read as much as I do and bake as much as I do would have thought about it before melting the chocolate. Sigh.

In the meantime, we still have mint chocolate brownies, and I made some cream cheese cut-outs today that we'll decorate this afternoon. Stop by if you're feeling festive!

CREAM CHEESE CUTOUTS
½ cup margarine or butter, softened

1 3 oz package cream cheese, softened

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup sugar

1 egg

½ tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. vanilla Oven: 375°

In a mixing bowl beat margarine and cream cheese with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add about half of the flour, the sugar, egg, baking powder, and vanilla. Beat till thoroughly combined. Beat in remaining flour. Cover: Chill 1 hour or till easy to handle.

Divide the chilled dough in half. On a lightly floured surface roll half of the dough at a time ⅛ inch thick. Cut into desired shapes with a 2½ inch cookie cutter. Place 1 inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Baked in a 375° oven about 8 minutes or till edges are lightly browned. Cool cookies on a wire rack. Makes about 60.

POWDERED SUGAR ICING

1 cup sifted powdered sugar

¼ tsp. vanilla

Milk

food coloring

Mix powdered sugar, vanilla, and 1 Tbsp. milk. Stir in milk 1 tsp. at a time, till of spreading consistency. Divide into bowls, add color.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Snow Photos

Early this morning.


Enjoying each other's company!



Will work for cookies.

My own snow angels.

Snow Kidding!


I understand that the big snowstorm was horribly inconvenient yesterday for many people. Some were stranded traveling. Even the President had to hurry to get home from Copenhagen before it hit (imagine that -- if a US President had been unable to return to the Capital safely because of the weather. Just goes to show us that leader of the Free World isn't jack compared to Creator of the whole World!). And yes, we have another 12+ inches to shovel in our driveway today. That's in addition to the 12+ we shoveled yesterday.

But something very cool has happened. We live on a cul-de-sac with only 11 houses. Our newest neighbors sent out an e-mail yesterday saying "impromptu snow emergency party - come at 7 and bring treats if you want!" Out of the 10 families who were in town, 8 came! There was fun, fellowship, lots of treats and mulled wine. The kids ran around and played. There were are four teens in the neighborhood and they all came and smiled!

So when I read this in the news this morning, I smiled to myself. "With near white-out conditions forcing many residents to stay home and shopping malls shuttered or closing early, the extreme conditions also looked likely to take a bite out of retail sales on "Super Saturday." The major shopping day usually accounts for some 15 billion dollars of all nationwide sales on the last weekend before Christmas."

Perhaps God has a way of getting our attention onto something other than shopping this year. Overspending and shopping without boundaries is part of what got us into this economic mess. So...no shopping the Saturday before Christmas? Perhaps He wants us to reflect on the Glory that He is. Okay God, GOT IT!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

NOW it looks like Christmas

I couldn't help it - my body woke me up before 6 a.m. I knew the
snow had been falling all night, but this is amazing. And it's not finished yet! I am SO grateful for heat!

Susan at Stony River won the prize for the license plates. The prize is a 2009 White House Historical Association tree ornament. This year's features Grover Cleveland. Do you think someone named Grover could get elected today? I think too much association with Sesame Street's Grover...not exactly a Presidential figure.

Anyway, here is what the ornament looks like. We get one each year for our tree, and also purchase one for my mom's tree. This year she's going to be here with us! She flies in on Tuesday. I'm so happy - she's the BEST!
UPDATE: They'e changed it to a blizzard warning now...even MORE grateful for heat, and electricity, and running water and the internet!

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Sky Is Falling!



News Alert
-- MAJOR winter storm headed our way. All non-sentient beings must rush to the grocery store and denude the shelves of important things like milk, bottled water, and toilet paper.

I'm happy that we have plenty of flour, sugar, brown sugar, eggs, butter . . . you see where this is going, right?

Son is disappointed that it won't be on Monday. What's the point of having a BIG SNOW unless it's on a school day? It just doesn't feel as festive. He's right. So now he's hoping it is SUCH a BIG SNOW that they powers-that-be will cancel school for Monday. Dream On! If they miss Monday, and Wednesday is a half-day...ha ha ha ha...teachers will be insane on Tuesday!

At any rate, here is our forecast for the next several days. Quite exciting! Oh wait...I wonder if we have enough wine.

Tonight: Snow, mainly after midnight. Low around 27. East wind between 7 and 16 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. Total nighttime snow accumulation of 1 to 3 inches possible.

Saturday: Snow. The snow could be heavy at times. High near 30. North wind between 16 and 18 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New snow accumulation of 8 to 12 inches possible.

Saturday Night: Snow, mainly before 4am. Low around 27. North wind between 14 and 16 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%. New snow accumulation of 2 to 4 inches possible.

Sunday: A chance of snow, mainly before 10am. Cloudy, then gradually becoming mostly sunny, with a high near 33. Northwest wind around 16 mph. Chance of precipitation is 40%.

Breaking the Code

I can't say I'm SURE of these . . .you all often come up with better answers than I.

SEACHL Sea Shell works, as does Sea Chill -- polar divers?
LUVEALL Love All
NDLARTS Needle Arts -- this lady does counted cross stitch
LDYEBNY Lady Ebony
KARPEDM Carpe Diem (Seize the Day)
XIBITA Exhibit A -- a trial lawyer
GR8APE Great Ape -- who knows why?
CMPASHN Compassion
SOLM8TZ Soul Mates
FN4FM Fun For Family (on a cute mini-cooper)

Now here are some that you can e-mail me the answers. The most right answers will get a prize. (I know these people so I know the right answers) The prize WILL NOT be chocolate mint brownies -- sorry Thom. In the event of a tie, the first e-mail in will prevail. Ready?

IMPRSNT
O2GO2OZ
LYLDVL

and this one is just funny. On a Honda Odyssey Van: ILLIAD

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Happy Wright Brothers' Day


One hundred and six years ago today, man achieved controlled powered flight. The two bicycle mechanics pushed their ideas in the air and a new age for man was born.

Their first flights were really short, and at first read don't seem like much. Twelve seconds? Alert the Media? But try to jump up in the air and stay up longer than a split second. Yeah. Doesn't work.

It is hard to believe that in under 100 years we went from Kitty Hawk to the moon. And now, a little over 100 years after the first flight, we can travel in space and glide back down. Did you realize that the space shuttle is simply a glider?

Thank you Wilbur and Orville for being persistent. Thank you for all of those who came after them to build on their ideas and designs.

Three Word Thursday


Quilly hosts this great meme. The idea is to resurrect old words into interesting (we hope) stories. It seems that taking the week off was exactly what I needed. The conclusion to my story dropped into place. So, with apologies to the dragons because it's a little bit long, here is the end. And Thom, I guess you'll just have to imagine the rest of the romance!

Alice pulled the car into the parking lot in front of a gray industrial building. “Um, Alice?” Luke began cautiously. “The sign says we need a parking pass.” She flashed him a grin. “Well, that’s why you’re deaf and have two enormous dogs with you.” As Luke counted to 100 inside his mind, Alice got out of the car and headed into the building.

Inside, the building no longer looked industrial. The corridors were softly lighted, and on the walls were displays of interesting projects in science. Alice paused at one, examining what was labeled as a water piddler. She pushed a button to activate a strobe light, watching how the water moved as it adimpleated the bucket. By turning the knob she made the droplets freeze in mid-air. It was all an optical illusion but she was fascinated by the science behind the project.

“Enjoying our display?” asked a familiar voice. Alice turned to see Adam’s father, Trent Tradoch, smiling behind her. It was a weird smile and he had a strange gleam in his eyes. “Actually, yes,” answered Alice. “I’m pamphagous – I receive great lubency from the law, but I’m fascinated by science as well,” she continued.

Tradoch didn’t engage. “What are you doing here? Why are you interfering in something that doesn’t concern you? I could have you arrested for just being in this building without permission.”

Alice took a deep breath. “Look, I know that Adam has disappeared after exhibiting some pretty hostile behavior. I also know that you have been working on microchips for humans for almost your entire career. And while this great institution helps fund you, they’ve repeatedly refused you permission to try your experiments on human subjects. My guess is that you decided you could use your son for that.”

Tradoch’s face became enraged as he hissed, “even here, at Rensselaer, where the most brilliant minds in the country gather, they don’t understand that the next step MUST be implanting these chips into biological subjects! We’ll never know how well they work if we don’t start somewhere.”

Alice started backing up and spoke softly, “Dr. Tradoch, it is apparent from being around Adam that the chips aren’t working perfectly. You need to free him from this and let him be a little boy.”

The scientist snarled, “he is MY son and I can choose what will happen to him! The problems with his chip are due to his age. If we implant them into young adult males we can control entire armies! Now turn around and walk down this hallway before I hurt you.” Alice saw that he had a taser in his hand. Because of where they were, she wasn’t sure whether it was just an ordinary taser or something that might hurt her much worse.

She moved slowly, trying to think. All of a sudden she heard an explosion of shouts.

“Get them out of here!”

“No dogs allowed in a lab area!”

“What are those, ponies?”

She turned to see two giant wolfhounds bounding down the corridor towards her. Before he could even react, Cicero had Tradoch pinned to the floor. He extended his giant body across the man, carefully putting one paw across each bicep. Cassius very delicately mouthed the device out of Tradoch’s hand and brought it over to drop it at Alice’s feet. As she sank to the floor in relief, she buried her head and arms in Cassius’ fur.

Luke came running up with several irate scientists trailing him. Alice handed him her iTouch. “Touch the microphone button. I got it all. You can take it to the authorities. I think it will give them what they need to build a case with international implications.”

She looked at the most unassuming of the scientists. “Are you Dr. Soza?” He assented. “In Dr. Tradoch’s lab you’ll find a small boy. He’s very frightened. Please take Cassius with you. The boy’s name is Adam.”

“It is highly irregular to take a dog into a lab…” he began. Seeing the look on Alice’s face – or maybe it was the look on the dog’s face, the scientist continued, “…but perhaps we can make an exception.”

It was a long ride back to the farm, and a little cramped with the two dogs, Adam, Luke and Alice, but it was a very comfortable silence. While Luke drove, Alice searched for the right words for Adam. Finally she gave up and just looked back at him in the rear seat. He was totally engulfed by wolfhounds and was sound asleep. Alice smiled.

Luke cleared his throat, "Alice, what were all those things you gathered up? And what was in the rainstick?" Her smile became a grin. "The things were to distract whoever tried to follow me, like the sheriff. Inside the rainstick I had stuck a copy of the code." She yawned.

"Code? What code?" he asked.

But Alice was asleep.

~The End~

That’s all folks! The astute among you will realize that the Corridor Lab is at MIT, but the setting is Rensselaer. I wanted to highlight the MIT projects, but Trent Tradoch is an AI/computer guy. So I transplanted the lab. Sorry if it bothers the purists. This Corridor Lab project really does exist at MIT – it is a display area where they use science as artwork. Or maybe it’s the other way around. You can see this one here.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Chocolate Mint Results


The good news is that 16 oz was exactly enough chocolate to make these things awesome! Wow. Just finished them tonight.

Funny story about these brownies. We used to frequent a favorite Thai restaurant where our favorite waiter was a man named Tiwa. One year I made Christmas goodies for the staff there and invited them to the Candlelight service at our church. None of them came, but Tiwa was enraptured over these brownies, and mentioned them OFTEN.

So for ever after, I made them for him for special occasions. In February I made him some with pink filling (Valentines). At Easter I made them with white filling. When he flew back to Thailand for vacation, I made him a half batch to take with him. The idea was that they would last him a while on the plane.

He told us later he ate them all before he ever got on the plane! Alas, the restaurant closed, and we have no way to get ahold of him. He has our number and I hope he calls because someone has to take a bunch of these off our hands!

Here's the recipe:

Chocolate Mint Brownies

Base Layer:

1 cup sugar

½ cup butter

4 eggs

1 cup flour

½ tsp salt

16 oz. chocolate syrup

1 tsp vanilla

Mid Layer:

4 cups confectioner’s sugar

1 cup room temperature butter

4 Tbsp Crème de menthe (can substitute peppermint flavoring instead)

3 drops green food coloring

Top Layer:

6 oz chocolate chips

6 Tbsp butter

Instructions:

Base Layer:

Cream room temperature butter with sugar. Add other ingredients and mix in an electric mixer. Spread into a large cookie sheet with sides (a jelly roll pan works best). Bake at 350⁰ F for 18-24 minutes. Brownies should start to pull away from the sides of the pan and toothpick should come out clean. Cool completely.

Mid Layer:

Cream ingredients together in electric mixer. Spread over cooled layer. Chill

Top Layer:

Melt ingredients together in a double boiler, stirring often. Pour on top of other 2 layers. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Cut into VERY SMALL brownies because these things are VERY RICH!

12 Questions of Christmas


Linda at 2nd Cup of Coffee has given us a Random Dozen of Christmas questions this time. I'm guessing these will get people blogging! Join us if you'd like by clicking on Linda's name and following the instructions at her site.

1. Gingerbread: For or against? Discuss. FOR the eating kind, cut into shapes and decorated. Not so much for the building a completely inedible house that attracts bugs and rodents kind. I've always wondered about people who make huge ones as 'fundraisers'. Sorry, but that's a lottery I'm NOT buying a ticket for.

2. Is it important to you to always stay (live) close to family? As a military family that was a luxury we never had. Now that we're no longer moving, um... let's just say the reality doesn't live up to the fantasy.

3. Which holiday pretend character do you wish really existed? The Bumble (Abominable Snowman)

4. Which holiday movie best represents how you feel about Christmas or life? It's a Wonderful Life

5. Is there a particular Christmas song that you're enjoying now? Any that you're tired of? I love the Messiah -- and lately "A Trumpet Shall Sound" has been my favorite part. I just love the high brass in this. Tired of? "I'll be home for Christmas". They use it as a promo for messages from servicemen overseas and while I appreciate the messages and the thought (especially having spent MANY Christmases away from loved ones), I'm very tired of hearing just that snippet.

6. What is your favorite way to remember those less fortunate at Christmastime? Donating to Angel Tree.

7. Does it upset you to see "Xmas" instead of Christmas? How about "Happy Holidays" etc., instead of "Merry Christmas?" Xmas only bothers me when people I know who are anti-Christianity use it (and I know they do it for that very reason). Happy Holidays bothers me because it's so politically correct. I just answer "Merry Christmas".

8. How many Christmas programs are you attending this month? Two, both are already finished. Yay! Unless you count Christmas Eve candlelight service. Then it's three.

9. Are you dreaming of a white Christmas? Any chance of that dream becoming a reality? Yes and yes.
10. Tell me about a Christmas present you received as a child. Pics are always nice. One year I received a microscope. Man, I loved that thing. To me it meant my parents were taking me seriously. I can't find the photo right now. Rats. I know it is here somewhere.

11. How many Christmas parties are you attending this month? My husband's office party is on a Monday night...so none.

12. How do you keep yourself centered on the significance of Christmas? See this.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Measuring Fraud?

I was just working on a recipe. It calls for 16oz of Hershey's chocolate syrup. I asked my husband to pick up a bottle that had at least that much in it.

The bottle said 24 oz on the packaging. Since I only needed 16 oz, I poured it into a measuring cup. Two cups = 16 oz, right? Well...yes and no.

In this case, the bottle was empty once I hit the 2 cup mark on the measuring cup. So where did the other 8 oz go?

It turns out that we measure ounces by WEIGHT as well as VOLUME. And Hersheys, being really smart, knows that if they put the weight (24 oz) on the bottle, dummies like me who HATED math as it was and whose intellect was further insulted by the insane system of measurement in this country would be fooled into thinking they'd have enough for 1.5 batches of awesome chocolate mint brownies.

Oh well. It's not technically fraud, but it is very annoying. Makes one yearn for the metric system.

I'll post photos and recipe when they're done...it's a 3 stage process but oh so very worth it!

A New Take on the Nativity


This is what happens when you ask the 13 year old male to set up the Playmobil nativity. He recruits pieces from other Playmobil sets and pretty soon, the stable has a beer garden out back, and the wise men are toasting the event with a tankard of ale. Yes, those are soldiers. No, they're not Romans.

Sigh.

At least he agreed to help.

Is It A Code?

It's been a while since I've posted license plates, and since Thom and Quilly are finished with the 12+ days of Christmas, I figured our brains need to keep working...so here they are!

Go ahead and post the answers in the comments. I'll post mine on Friday:

SEACHL

LUVEALL

NDLARTS

LDYEBNY

KARPEDM

XIBITA

GR8APE

CMPASHN

SOLM8TZ

FN4FM


Monday, December 14, 2009

Finding the Son in Sunday

Yesterday, the two parents who live in this household received the "worst parents of the world" award. We did something so heinously evil that it should be made into a movie and shown at midnight wherever teens gather to trash parents. We...(gasp)...

TURNED OFF THE ROUTER

Yep, no internet. From about 2 p.m. until about 8 p.m. none of us were surfing, chatting, FBing, or you-tubing. Instead one went to the gym, one was reading and baking, one was working on models in the basement and one was fuming while doing non-internet-required homework. (We carefully asked that question before we made the big decision).

You see, the two adults in this household have discovered an uncanny ability to go heads-down with a computer with internet connection for hours...and to wake up with the entire day spent and not much accomplished. So we decided that in order to prepare for the work/school week, and to (hopefully) foster family time, we will do this each Sunday for a while so we can wean ALL of us of our addiction. Shamefully, I wish I could say this was only a teen problem in our house, but it isn't. It is just too easy to click 'one more thing'...

We will, of course, make exceptions if there is a school/work need that pops up. However, if you live in a country where you KNOW the electricity is going to be OFF for a certain time period each day, don't you figure out to do everything that requires electricity at some other time?

This is an evolving project...stay tuned...but don't read our child's Facebook page. Said child is really irked. LOL.

So, if any of you out there have more suggestions on how to make our teens miserable, let me know. They may get used to this and then we'll have to up the ante.

Of course, I did have a dream last night about someone running away from home. I think it was me.

Microfiction Monday


Susan at Stony River is being provocative again. No kidding, once a week she really lets her inhibitions down and CHALLENGES us to be . . . CREATIVE! Each week she gives us an illustration and forces us to cram our otherwise verbose blog entries into 140 characters. That includes spaces and punctuation. For the few, the proud, the humbled, we struggle on. If this sounds like humility you could benefit from, join us at Susan's place by clicking her name above! Here is this week's illustration, followed by my entry, with GRAVEST apologies to Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

Half a league half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the …
Oh hell, wrong poem!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Tis the Season


On Friday evening we held our Womens Ministry Christmas Event at our church, Reston Presbyterian. The night was traditionally a night of baking cookies together, but this year we decided (for a lot of reasons including Fire Marshal rules) to go a different direction.

A friend and I felt led to make the evening one of worship and joyful expectancy rather than people feeling they had 'one more thing' to accomplish on their calendar.

I am happy to say that the evening accomplished what we saw as our mission. There was a small turn-out, but enough to know that the Lord had done His work in many hearts to get these ladies there. I felt very blessed, and to be honest, no matter what else happens in this holiday season forward from here, I believe I can meet it with calm and peace.

If you need a "program" to read, to help you adjust or prepare your heart for truly enjoying the holiday season, feel free to read or download the program here.

Be blessed!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Spirit of Giving

Join the fun!

This week's theme: Spirit of Giving (Specifically, what are you doing to share the joy this season)

To love relatives
is the way to share Christmas;
joy and challenge both

Thanks Jenn at You Know . . . that Blog? for pushing us to be a little bit more creative.

Random Dozen of Christmas


Thank you once again to Lidna at 2nd Cup of Coffee because she hosts this fun meme. If you want to participate in this very elite and special group, go to Linda's blog by clicking above. Copy and paste the questions into your own blog. Answer them. Post. Link to Linda. Go visit the other people who have linked. Comment (nicely) on their answers. No stress!

1. Which physical trait do you now accept--maybe not love, but accept--and no longer feel extremely self-conscious about? My glasses. For years I wore contacts, but now, I'm perfectly content with the glasses. I can see, and that's the important part.

2. This week Meredith Baxter Birney, best known as the mom on the favorite 80s
sitcom "Family Ties" came out of the closet, which led me to formulate this question:
Who do you think is/was the best TV mom? Mrs. Cunningham on Happy Days.

3. Do you speak any foreign languages? Are there any you'd like to learn?
A smattering of Spanish and German, but only in the present tense. Yes, I'd like to be more proficient in both.

4. Who is your personal hero?
I don't really have personal hero
es. If I had to choose one, it might be the great airman, Billy Mitchell. Look him up Or maybe the British Flying Officer Douglas Bader. The Germans had to threaten to take away his artificial legs to stop him from escaping from the POW camps. No, really! See it here. I just admire people who persevere doing the right thing, sometimes at great personal cost.

5. What is one holiday food that you find extremely difficult to resist over-indulging in?
Cookies. Especially with icing on them. I just tried a new recipe of Cardamom cookies. Yum! Let me know in the comments if you want the recipe!

6. Tell me about a Christmas decoration that has special meaning or sentimental value.
In first grade, my son made a creche with little clothespin people, fancy beads for the gifts, and baby Jesus was a little peg doll wrapped in a cloth and lying in a manger made from a cardboard jewelry box. I get a lumpy throat each year when I take it out. Can you see the shepherds with their pipe cleaner hooks? There's an angel on top who was made with doily wings. The whole thing is just adorable. He's in 7th grade now so we've gotten a lot of mileage out of this thing!


7. How do you feel about snow?
Love it if we don't have to go anywhere!

8. On average, how many hours of sleep do you get each night? Not that I'm jealous of any number over three or anything.
Seven. I can't function otherwise.

9. Tell me about your first crush.
I was very aware very early that boys were to be sighed over, so I think the year I was the kindergarten princess, I probably had a crush on the prince...whoever he was. The first I can remember is a boy named Nestor. He was in my class in 3rd or 4th grade. He was from Brazil and was so very cool.

10. You're stuck in a room for 2 hours with only a chalkboard and chalk. What will you write/draw?
I think I'd fill the chalkboard with a mass of stick figures playing on a playground. I used to do that in the margins of my schoolwork.

11. Do you dress for the current temp or for the day's forecast?
I wear what's clean and goes together and I'm often surprised by the weather!

12. Favorite Christmas movie is?
Claymation Christmas. It's not really a movie, but it's great anyway. Who can resist the camels wearing tennis shoes and singing We Three Kings?


Monday, December 7, 2009

Microfiction Monday


Microfiction is a complete story, based on a photo she provides, but written in 140 characters or fewer. The count includes all spaces and punctuation. Susan at Stony River: A Writing Life hosts this challenging meme. For people like me, who are verbose, this is an irresistible challenge. Fortunately, the photos are provocative. If you'd like to try your hand, visit Susan!

This week's photo:


Even in the 21st century, Alice was certain that every hole contained a white rabbit. This time she’d be very clean, and not late at all.