Thursday, April 4, 2019

So That Was 2018

And the first quarter of 2019!  They say time flies, and I think they’re right.  I had intentions of posting lots of things long before now, but somehow that just didn’t happen.  It’s always a little daunting trying to figure out what to post when I haven’t posted for a long time.  I decided this time I’d go with 19 things that have happened since my last posts. 

1.  We had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  We took lunch to the hospice house, and had friends over to dinner at our house later that evening.  We’ve gotten fairly good at getting everything in and set up at the hospice house, and had everything done exactly on time.  As always, they were incredibly kind, and made me cry.  One year I’d like to make it out of there without turning into a sobbing mess in the parking lot.  Fortunately, the festivities at our house didn’t make me cry.  We had tons of food, and had a great time sitting around talking and playing games with everyone.  We seem to have a regular crowd now, too which I love.  I finally have Thanksgiving traditions! 

2.  We had a big (at least for us) snow storm the first weekend in December.  We were both off of work for a day because of it, and it took over a week for all of it to melt.  I’m never happy to see snow, but that was our biggest snow event of the winter, so at least it was over with early.

3.  We now own a generator.  We lost power during the early December snow storm in 2017, and were woefully unprepared.  The 2018 snow storm was predicted to be very much like the 2017 snow storm, down to the same dates and accumulation, so we decided it might be time to invest in a generator.  All of the stores locally were sold out, so we ended up going to South Carolina to buy one.  We searched Home Depot, and bought the closest one on-line, then went to pick it up.  We didn’t lose power, but are still glad we have the generator.  Between snow, ice, and rain/wind from hurricanes it seems like we’ll be using it eventually. 

4.  I did a lot of baking in December.  I toyed with the idea of trimming down my list, but people started talking about looking forward to certain desserts, so I baked for all of the usual people, and a few more.  I’m happy to do it as long as people are happy with the desserts.  My car smelled amazing the last few working days before Christmas when I was delivering all of the desserts.

5.  We took small gifts for everyone in both of our vet’s offices, and people seemed to like them.  Both of our vets sent us very nice cards, which we really appreciated.  I found some cute cat and dog wrapping paper on an after Christmas sale, and I’m really excited about using it for this year’s gifts.

6.  We had a great Christmas with my sister, Nick’s mom and step-dad, and our friend Alex.  My sister and I are pretty excited to finally have Christmas traditions.  We had lots of great food, watched Christmas movies, and everyone seemed very pleased with their gifts. 

7.  We went to our neighbors’ house for New Year’s Eve, and had a great time.  Everyone made appetizers, and we played Trivial Pursuit.  They have a really fun edition that lets you challenge other teams, and the competition was fierce, but fun.

8.  My car got hit at work.  Again.  For those of you keeping track, this is the fourth time in nine years.  It was a hit and run, and some of the security cameras weren’t working, so we ended up filing the claim with our insurance, and paying our deductible.  That’s all I’m going to say, because nothing else I have to say is very nice. 

9.  Actually, I do have one nice thing to say; it’s definitely a good idea to ask people who are car enthusiasts for recommendations when you need to choose a body shop.  We asked for recommendations the first time this car was hit, and have been very happy with the work the shop has done every time. 

10.  Our neighbors gave us a cat shaming calendar for Christmas.  And our cats destroyed it last month.  I can’t imagine why the neighbors thought of us when they saw a cat shaming calendar.

11.  Nick got his lifetime membership at the fire department.  You’re considered a lifetime member after 20 years of volunteering.  He received a plaque and a nice ring at the Christmas dinner. 

12.  2018 was the year of buying large appliances for us.  Our dishwasher died the week after Thanksgiving.  It had been hobbling along for quite a while, and it was used a lot the week of Thanksgiving, so it wasn’t that much of a surprise.  It’s never fun to replace something like that, but the new one is awesome.  It’s so quiet!  And there’s really no pre-rinsing required. 

13.  I’ve lost 40 pounds.  It’s slow going, but it’s finally the right direction.  I’m hoping the fact that it’s slow means it will last.  I still have a long way to go, but this is a pretty good start.

14.  Nick got his General Instructor certification.  As I understand it, he can teach anything he’s certified in at work now.  He worked really hard on it, and not everyone passed the class and state testing, but he did, and is looking forward to doing some teaching.

15.  February gave us false hope for spring again this year.  We had some warm days, great for reading in the hammock, but they didn’t last.  This week has been fairly cold, but I’m hoping that’s the last of the cold weather for us.  I’m ready to be warm.

16.  We went bowling for the first time in a VERY long time in February.  We had been talking about going, but just never did.  Someone from another department was moving away, and invited us to his going away party, which was dinner and bowling.

17.  We were able to get back in touch with someone who retired from our vet’s office.  She retired very quickly due to medical reasons, and we were disappointed not to see her anymore, or to have had the opportunity to at least wish her well.  At Christmas we asked the office about forwarding a card and gift to her, which they were happy to do.  We included our phone numbers, and she called us.  We’re working on plans for dinner. 

18.  We’ve been watching Tidying Up With Marie Kondo on Netflix, and have been working on organizing the house.  More detailed posts are coming.

19.  The vast majority of my time seems to be taken up with mundane day to day tasks.  I cannot think of an especially interesting 19th thing to share, but it also feels like I’ve been almost non-stop busy since my last post.  I’d love to know where the time goes.

So that’s pretty much it for me for the time since I blogged last.  How have things been with you?  I’m looking forward to catching up with everyone, and I’m definitely planning to get back into posting at least semi-regularly. 

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Throw Back Thursday - Frankie’s First Christmas

There’s just something about kittens and Christmas trees.  They don’t seem to be able to resist them. 

We got Frankie the weekend before Thanksgiving in 2009.  We put our Christmas tree up on Thanksgiving weekend, so he was fairly certain it was a special toy for him.

Fortunately, he was a tiny little guy at the time, and didn’t damage the tree. 

Do you have any kittens climbing your Christmas tree? 

Monday, December 3, 2018

Music Monday: Gayla Peevey - I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas

Now that it’s December, I think it’s officially alright to start posting Christmas songs for Music Monday.

This is my absolute favorite Christmas song.  It’s so cute and happy.  I think it’s impossible not to smile when you hear it. 

We’ve also dubbed it Howard’s official Christmas song.  We just change it to Howard-potamus.  I think he’s pretty happy having his own Christmas song.    

Friday, November 30, 2018

Lavender Bath Salt

I’m not usually one for making many homemade gifts, other than food, but last year I started experimenting with making bath salts.  I don’t think it gets much more relaxing than a nice long soak in a hot bath after a stressful day.  Lavender oil is known for promoting relaxation and restful sleep, so lavender bath salts can really enhance the experience.

This comes together relatively quickly and easily, and makes for a practical gift.  The recipe I use has Young Living Essential Oil.  If you’re using a different brand you may need to use more or less oil, depending on the strength and quality of the oil.

Lavender Bath Salt:

12 cups Epsom salt
35 drops lavender essential oil

Place the Epsom salt in a large glass or metal mixing bowl.  Don’t use plastic because it can absorb the essential oil.  Break up any chunks of Epsom salt.  Add the essential oil, and mix well.

Spoon into jars, and close them tightly. 

Now you can get as creative as you’d like.  I kept it relatively simple with just a ribbon and printed labels that I hole punched to get the ribbon through.  If you’re more into crafts than I am, I’m sure you can do all kinds of fun things with different ribbons and labels. 

This recipe makes seven pint size jars of bath salts, so it works well if you’re making gifts for multiple people.  The bath salts are really nice, though, so make sure you keep a jar for yourself as well. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Black Bean Soup

As much as I love Thanksgiving, and all of the food that comes with it, it’s nice to change things up a little the week after.  After all of the rich food and dessert last week, something simple is just right this week. 

This also seems to be the time of year when things just keep getting busier, so easy meals are very welcome.  A Crock Pot meal that’s ready and waiting when I get home is perfect. 

I love this recipe for so many reasons.  First of all, it’s delicious.  It’s also very simple to put together in the morning before work, especially if you do the chopping the night before.  The beans don’t have to soak, so that’s one less step.  I think it’s reasonably healthy since it’s vegetarian, and doesn’t have packaged ingredients. 

Black Bean Soup:

16 oz. (1 pound) dried black beans
2 onions, chopped
2 bell peppers, chopped
½ cup firmly packed fresh cilantro leaves
1 Tbsp salt
1 ½ tsp chili powder
1 ½ tsp cumin
½ tsp pepper
4 cloves garlic, pressed
10 cups water

Rinse beans, and place all ingredients in a large slow cooker.  Cover and cook on Low 9 - 10 hours. 

The soup is great on it’s own, but it’s also really good topped with diced onion, avocado, or salsa.  And it pairs well with cornbread.