Friday, December 21, 2007

Best of Intentions for Christmas

I've had the best of intentions about posting here on the blog... and sending out Christmas cards... and having my presents wrapped early... and making my house spotless so I can return to a neat and clean place after being with my family. But, no. None of that has been accomplished. And, I sure have a lot to do in the next 20 hours before heading home!

You see, I've tried to be ambitious in other ways this year, and I have made many of my gifts. So, I've had my very own little Christmas workshop going on. But, here and there, there have been little snags, and the domino effect set in to cause me to be a little (and then a lottle) behind in other parts of my life.

Unfortunately, I can't post any pictures of the gifts here. Not yet! Because I wouldn't want any of the Christmas surprises to be ruined. But, maybe I will be able to post a few after the new year. I know some of you are on the edge of your seat. :)

Please forgive me for the lack of posts lately and the lack of Christmas card in your mailbox. I have given my notice at my 2nd job, and I will end my work there by the end of January. So, I have high hopes some things will get back to normal soon (namely, sleep), and I have high hopes you will receive a Christmas card from me next Christmas. (I just might need all twelve months to prepare.)

Thank you, blog friends, for being so wonderful. It has been a blessing to share notes and emails and to learn more about your life. Even though our communication is almost 100% electronic, your kind words, humor and encouragement mean so much to me, and they brighten my days.

And, thank you family and friends who continue to read my crazy posts and try to keep up with me. There hasn't been anything very fascinating that has been happening lately, but I'm "hopeful for the future" and excited to see what God brings in this new year. Even if nothing knock-your-socks-off fabulous does happen, I pray for contentment and peace for all of us who are trying to seek the Lord's will in our lives... that we may walk more closely with Him each and every day and know we are exactly where He would have us to be.

I hope to post more next week if my computer connections work. However, if my intentions about that don't come to fruition, I want to wish each of you a very merry Christmas and the happiest of new years!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas...

Too bad I couldn't see it this morning.

Today, the drive in to work took almost one and one half hours... much longer than usual. It was because of the terrible fog. For the majority of the ride, I could see the distance of only two and three car lengths in front of me. There were some very scary moments with lots of folks slamming on their brakes at various points, and I saw one wreck occur. Nothing serious, thankfully. What I can't understand is how someone can be out in a situation like that... merging in and out of traffic on a highway with that low of visibility... and not turn on their lights!!! It's been a law for a while now to have lights on when one has turned on their windshield wipers, and seeing cars in the rain is difficult enough. This fog situation is ten times worse. I think some people don't get the point as they think the lights are a waste because it doesn't help them see any better in the fog. The point isn't for them to see better. The point is for all of us to better see them!

By the time I reached work, I had gone pretty far west, and the fog was disappearing in the sunlight here on the Missouri side of the river. And, now, I can see what arrived on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The sections of the St. Louis metro received between 6 and 8 inches of snow over the weekend. The plows have been busy at work. The snow is too dry and won't pack very well for anything bigger than a softball size snowball. So, no snowman for me yet. Wish I had a water hose. :)

Sadly, church services could not be held. And, two churches farther north in Illinois where my family attend also had to call off services because of the ice and drifting snow. But, thankfully, by this morning, many more roads were cleared, and we pray for safety as the snow will surely melt and refreeze back and forth in the upcoming days.

While some of the readers of this blog are not big fans of the snow or "winter cheer", I have to admit that I would love for the snow to stick around a little while. Going home for Christmas while there is snow on the ground always makes the trip seem extra special. Of course, I can't be satisfied, and I have to be picky... as I don't want there to be TOO MUCH snow. I can't help recall two Christmas trips which were quite "interesting", to say the least. Let's see... there was the time in 2002 when it took me almost 7 hours to get home (usually less than a 3 hour drive) through the snow storm (12 inches) on Christmas eve... and I ended up in the ditch out in the country where my cell phone wouldn't work. (I thank God there are good Samaritans.) And then there was the time back in 1999 when I was returning to work on New Years Day after being home for Christmas, became trapped in a blizzard (result of 14 inches), and was snowed in at a hotel in Hannibal, MO for two days before I could be plowed out. (Was thankful for receiving the absolute last delivery of the weekend by Domino's Pizza on Friday the first night, Hardee's being open for a short while the next morning, and the hotel owner's stash of change for the vending machines for the rest of the stay.)

So, yes, a little goes a long way, but it would be great to have just a little snow for Christmas. Just a little.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

"8 Seconds Is All You Need"

As I mentioned before, I have recently become a student of an entertainment phenomenon: the infomercial. Some seem to go on and on. Some are entertaining. Some make me question, "Who in their right mind would want that product?"

The one infomercial product that has most caught my eye - for some reason - is Tater Mitts. (You may see the infomercial on the official web site.) It may be because the commercial for Tater Mitts is the most frequently run advertisement between 12 midnight at 5 a.m. on the weekends here in our area. And, it may be because I've inherited the family fascination with kitchen gadgets. (Yes, we are one of those families who had the food dehydrator... among other curiosities.)

The point of the Tater Mitts? To avoid peeling potatoes: the risk of cutting a finger while carrying out the task, the waste sometimes created when peeling, and the torturous, I-must-sit-down-and-rest-between-spuds hard work.

"8 Seconds Is All You Need." That's what the infomercial and web site claim. And, with an 8 second rub-a-dub-dub with the Tater Mitts, your potato is supposed to become skinless.

I must admit I have been pre-occupied with the thought of this product and have wondered what crazy creation is glued on those rubber gloves to make the potato skins come off so easily. (Yes, I have even had a dream about it.)

Today, the mystery vanished. I saw behind the curtain. And, after viewing the lower right hand side of the web site home page, I have felt tricked. Betrayed. Disappointed.

*Potatoes must be blanched prior to peeling with Tater Mitts

WHAT?!?!?!?!? BLANCHED?!?!?!?!? That isn't advertised in the infomercial. There isn't one single mention of this fact. The ad should state "8 seconds plus 20 - 30 minutes is all you need." Tater Mitt Makers, do you know how long it takes for me to boil water??? (That's probably because I'm always watching the pot.) And, what if I am making a big batch of potatoes for something? I'm sure most of you could imagine it... me there in the kitchen with a full load of slippery hot potatoes. Some would be on the floor. I'd find some new way of burning myself, I am sure. It wouldn't be pretty.

In short, it seems it would be a ton of extra trouble to use the Tater Mitts with the blanching step compared to the regular way. I think I could probably just get down to work and get the entire bag peeled before my water was ready. I guess I might order a set if I were a person prone to cutting herself - Wait! I am that exact kind of person! I should probably get on the phone and order some Tater Mitts right away.

What do you think? Have any favor kitchen gadgets that you wouldn't want to live without?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Beautiful Snowflakes, Part Two

I'm not one to waste a lunch hour, so I did it! I went ahead and made a 3-D paper snowflake. It took less than 20 minutes. Mind you, my huge snowflake has 6 branches instead of 8, but I like it. It is now hanging on the office door of my friend Laurie. Maybe we can sneak them in and hang them up in covert missions so that a little winter cheer can be brought into the office.
I can just imagine a gorgeous winter dance being decorated with these... hung from different lengths of sparkly string from the ceiling. Or, if I had children, it would be fun to spend one day making their room a winter wonderland. One co-worker even thought they'd be great for baby showers if made in light pink or light blue paper. Tracy and I thought maybe we were way out of the loop because we had never seen these. (We probably are!) Have you seen or made these?

Beautiful Snowflakes

Last night, I attended Tressa, Abi and Rian's pre-school program, and the three girls were the most adorable little snowflakes. I was distracted by the pouring rain, so I accidentally left my camera in the car. But, I hope to have some pictures I took with Jeff and Tracy's camera very soon. Stay tuned.

The programs are always entertaining, and the evening focuses on literacy. Besides the musical story presentation, they have special reading/teaching tips for parents, story time for the children, and yummy cookies. The night ends with the opportunity for the families to pick out books from tables and tables and tables of them. All FREE! Even I was allowed to pick out a couple so that some good books could stay at Auntie Em's house for the girls.

Throughout the halls of the school were these lovely snowflakes. The teachers gave me a couple, and I brought them to work to decorate my office. I had never seen homemade snowflakes like these before. Tracy is going to learn the process from the teachers this next week, but I think I found similar directions on the internet here. I always loved cutting out traditional paper snowflakes, and I've found that coffee filters are perfect for that. Even though I won't have a lot of time this week to make either kind of snowflake, look out next year!

Birthday Girl: ABIGAIL!

Time has sure flown lately. It seems Christmas is coming way too quickly - even though Thanksgiving was early this year. I guess that is a sure sign I'm getting older. The moments and hours and days and weeks are zooming past me.

Little Abigail is just another reminder. She is now two... and has been two for over two weeks. But, with time moving so quickly, the HR Manager visit, several meetings and all of the holiday festivities, I've failed to make a post about Abi's excellent party. It's hard to believe that two years have passed since we first saw her. She really celebrated the occasion, and, as usual, her mom and dad included the finishing touches that made the party wonderful - Blue's Clues style. Here are some more of Tracy's wonderful cakes which feature Blue and Magenta, some fun blue jello jigglers and punch (with Shovel and Pail in the background), and Mrs. Pepper and Mr. Salt who were holding balloons in the middle of each table.

Around the room, we could also see Tickety Tock, Mailbox, and Periwinkle, Blue's cat friend. (I'm learning more about Blue's Clues than I ever thought I would.)

When Tracy started painting Blue's paw print on the cheek of each of Abi's friends, Auntie Em couldn't help but join in the fun. I finally convinced Isaac to do the same... and gradually, everyone else joined in. Some needed more coersion than others.

Here, Sister Barb and Brother Chris escort each other to the painting station to see who (between the two of them) would get their face painted first (rather, last. You go first! No, you go first!)

Brother Dale got a special stamp of approval. Below, the table full of reluctant gentlemen show off their paw prints. Even if their faces tell a different story, our group sure likes to have fun! :)

Tracy gave Abi a little lift to help her blow out her two candles before the guests enjoyed cake and Abi opened her gifts.

At the end of the party, the girls gathered in the big red Thinking Chair. As you can see, it had been a long day, and a nap was long overdue for each of them. But, we had a fun time celebrating Abi's birthday. Before I know it, it will be time to celebrate Rian's first birthday, and once again, I'll wonder where the time went.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Word Sweep Answers

Warning: If you didn't see the puzzle clues here, you may want to check them out before viewing the answers below.

Sweep One

Sweep Two

Sweep Three

Sweep Four
killing (as in 'I made a killing')

Sweep Five

Sweep Six

Sweep Seven

Sweep Eight