Tuesday, December 31, 2013

What?? How can it be the end of the year??

I know it is the end of 2013, but it really doesn't seem like it should be.  It is astonishing to think that the school year is only 3 weeks from being half over.  Without trying to be too over sentimental, let's take a quick peek...


Happy New Years
Eve!


Unlike what a lot of people here and there scattered across the country and the blog-iverse say, 2013 hasn't been a bad year at all for me.  It is nice to be able to say that.

The best thing about the year was the arrival of my little grand girl Ella and the next best thing about the year is the fact that we found out next year will give us another grandchild.  THAT is the most awesome thing - the joy this brings is indescribable.

Other highlights:

Well I HAVE to say that the ongoing renovations of my house are a JOYFUL part of my year.  The total gut and rebuild of my living room was spectacular and finished with a painting orgy over the weekend of the school play which is where the Mad Art Teacher found out she teaches her children well and that she is indeed dispensable with a less than spectacular bout of the flu on dress rehearsal day.  The Thursday of the play weekend was my day down and out and then Friday night, Saturday and Sunday were dedicated to painting....  and of course the actual play performances.

Following on the heels of that, later in August came the application of new siding on my new garden shed and also my house.  I can't tell you how amazing it is to see that beautiful grey contrasting against the snow right now.

Related to all of this, that I haven't actually blogged about is the total disarray parts of my house was in because of those two events.  This was distressing to me, but I never really had the time, energy or ambition to do much about it until Christmas break here.  Let's just say the upstairs is many boxes lighter than it had been and that there is more to come.  I'm making excellent inroads into reorganizing closets that NEED it- badly.  And when the upstairs is done, the downstairs will fall into line.  And hopefully there will not have to be anymore "chocolate pie incidents".

I did a bit of traveling here and there during this year, the best of the best was a weekend I spent in Janesville, then Chicago and then Janesville again.  I met a person who was an online friend but has turned into a true best buddy and confidant and I can not wait until I can meet up with again next summer.

Being the person I am, a lot of things that I think of as 2013 big items are not things I discussed on this blog.  Either too busy, or it was too personal, or it involved someone who wouldn't want to be discussed.  (this doesn't happen too often, but once in a while I leave a bit of my life unexplored.)  I have things I am working on, and at this point aren't really shareable, and I may have travel plans coming this spring.  We shall see how that comes out.

So what do I want to think of when I might choose to remember 2013?  Well Ella's birth is the prime thing, along with a really long winter and weird northern Wisconsin weather.  A healthy weight, a better attitude about life and eating and exercise.  Not expecting perfection, but not giving up or giving in.  Finding joy.  Giving myself a break, but pushing myself along.  Accepting that I don't have to do it all, but doing the things I choose to well.  Really well.

And I'm looking forward to 2014 and the adventures to come.

And always looking forward to joy- both in the giving and receiving.


Sunday, December 29, 2013

Vegetarian recipe WIN-WIN!

After 2 nights of not a lot of sleep, I decided that today had to be a good workout day.  While I like getting all of this cleaning done upstairs, it is not conducive to calorie burns or even relaxing.  Too much going on in the mind, dust that infested every nook and cranny of my body, and tired but not apparently tired enough.

Beans and kale with the peanut sauced tofu
Today, I went back to the cabin with the MA and I merrily built a fire in the fireplace.  Once you are forced to have to start those things to keep your house warm (which I did for many years) you become an expert.  I am SO GLAD I don't have to do that any more. Once I began my full time job, it was necessary for us to ditch that damn wood stove and put in a gas furnce.  Lp or whatever it is.  Lol. But that is neither here nor there!  It was fun to play around with the fire and it brought me back to the Boundary Waters and making a 1 match campfire.  Ah the good memories....

So after lunch, I went to the gym and kicked my own tail feathers doing a fabulous chest workout.  I am refocusing on my weightlifting - not that I haven't been doing it, but I lost some of my drive.  No wonder I have to rest my arms every so often here.  Then, because I do want to be exhausted tonight, I went for a snowshoe when I got back from the gym.... that ought to do it!

After all that, I decided to do a little cooking.  I had scoped out a few recipes and bought a couple ingredients.  I really didn't know if this actually "goes" together, and it certainly didn't photograph pretty.  But the flavors are divine.

Alright, the 2 things I made were Smoky Maple Black Beans and Kale  and Spicy Vegan Peanut Butter Tofu with Sriracha 

They are both somewhat spicy, but completely adjustable as far as the heat factor.  The flavors are wonderful, especially if you like the combo of spicy/savory/sweet.  What is not to like, right?


The pix I have are not terrific, they are just taken with my phone, as I decided during the making of this that it might be enjoyable to blog about it if I like the way it tasted.  Well let me tell you, totally glad I at least took a pic with the phone.  This is not beautiful stuff, folks, but who cares when it's in your mouth?? 


In my usual way, I substituted like a fiend in these recipes.  I have no problem messing around with the ingredients if the integrity of the taste is intact.  One thing called for agave and I subbed in honey.... you get the idea.  I didn't even realize that this was vegan until I was putting it on Instagram and decided I could use that hashtag!

Smoky Maple Black Beans and Kale
Calorie count is approximately 200 for 1/2 - 2/3 cup of awesomeness
adapted from a recipe by This Dish is Vegetarian


Ingredients
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium-size onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
6 cups coarsely chopped kale
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 cups cooked black beans or 2 (15-ounce) cans beans, rinsed and drained
3 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons tamari (which is a low salt soy sauce)
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon cider vinegar (apple cider vinegar)
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 chipotle chile in adobo (optional), minced (I used smoked jalapeno chili powder)

Instructions
1. Heat the oil or water in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, cover, and cook on low until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic and heat until you can smell it, about 30 sec. Add the kale and season to taste with salt and pepper, add a bit of water if necessary. Cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes.
2. Stir in the beans, then add the remaining ingredients, stirring to combine. Simmer for 10 minutes longer to blend the flavors.

The maple, though there is only 2 Tablespoons of it is really forefront in this dish.  Divine!!  If I make this again, I will add additional veggies, maybe carrots and celery with the onion and garlic. 

Not the prettiest of pictures, but definitely tasty

Spicy Peanut Butter Tofu with Sriracha sauce
I am guessing the calories is about 175 for 3 pieces.  And a BUNCH of protein!!
adapted from a recipe by Kalyn's Kitchen 

Ingredients:
14-16 oz. firm or extra firm tofu
1 T olive oil

2 cloves peeled and lightly crushed garlic

Sauce Ingredients:
3 T soy sauce (reduced sodium is fine) I used Bragg's Aminos
3 T rice vinegar (I used seasoned rice vinegar)
2 T smooth natural peanut butter
1 T honey
2 T vegetable stock or water
1/2 T Sriracha Rooster Sauce (more or less to taste)

Instructions:

Drain the tofu well in a colander placed in the sink.  Then put tofu pieces between a double layer of paper towels and press down with your hand so the liquid in the tofu is absorbed by the towel. (I use a cotton flour sack clean dishtowel, so I don't waste all that paper towel.)  Cut tofu into lengthwise strips about 1 inch wide.  

Whisk together the soy sauce, rice vinegar, peanut butter, honey, stock or water, and then add the Sriracha Sauce.  (I would start with a smaller amount of Sriracha, taste, and decide when it is hot enough.)  Cut the pieces of garlic.

Heat a heavy pan (I used a cast iron frying pan) over high heat for one minute.  Then add the olive oil and heat about 30 seconds more.  Add the sliced pieces of garlic and cook just until they are fragrant (about 30 seconds); then remove and discard.  Add tofu pieces, lower heat to medium high and cook, turning often, until the tofu is nicely browned on all sides, about 7-8 minutes. The website where I got this has a nice picture tutorial if you need that.

When all the tofu pieces are browned, add the sauce, turn heat to low, and cook just until the sauce thickens slightly and coats the tofu.  Remove from heat and eat!

So the cool thing is that BOTH of these were made in under 30 minutes and I managed to multitask them finished in about 45.  That is a definite YAY- plus left overs and I will freeze some of the beans in containers for school.  

This was a great way to end the day!  And definitely gave me some joy.  




Saturday, December 28, 2013

Cherry and White chocolate scones

So it was a tough night for sleeping last night.  It is always a mystery why in the world this happens, but it does.  So attempt sleep in several locations, get in a solid 4 hours,  then go ahead and get up and make scones makes total sense, right??   When I woke up I didn't even know where I was, so I am not sure why I thought baking was a good idea.  I'm glad I didn't fall down the stairs in my stupor.  Sheesh.

The scone, taken with the iPhone camera with cheesy cute coffee mug full of Snowplow blend coffee.  

Well, one really should not attempt to bake when one is bleary.  Actually the results were really good, but there was one weird thing after another that I either did or discovered in the recipe, or thought I discovered in the recipe but in reality I just needed the caffeine to kick in.

First off, in my glee to find a CRANBERRY white chocolate scone,  I didn't manage to read the part that said dried cranberries. I have some frozen cranberries that I wanted to use- guess I will make the cranberry chutney! Anyway, I didn't notice that until I had the recipe partially put together.  FFS.  Fortunately, I did have dried cherries, which worked really well.

The recipe itself called for coating the formed mega-scone, which was placed on a sheet of parchment, with egg-white and sprinkle with sugar.  I read it as coat the parchment with egg-white.  Yeah.  Fortunately I had decided there was no way I was going to separate an egg to put it on the parchment.  For pity's sakes.  Then I reread it later and noticed they said to put it on the scone- you know to hold on the sugar.  ugh.  Oh well, didn't matter because I sprinkled that beast with turbinado sugar and it stayed in place, as I had moistened the top with water anyway.

The other thing that is a bit misleading is the fact that they say (in the original recipe) that this is lower calorie, but when one cuts ANYTHING into 12 pieces it is going to be lower calorie.  We all know that we are eating 2 of them.  That is a decent sized breakfast.  Let's be serious here people.  And you really don't care about the calories if you are having a scone.

You'd think this would be a disaster, but you would be wrong!  :) I did all sorts of thing differently, so I'll just write out my recipe, but the original link is above.

Disorganization at 6 am

Notice that the coffee creamer is close by and my coffee cup must be within reach somewhere!

Ah there is my coffee- onto the dry ingredients
So it is a simple mix the wet and dry ingredients in bowls separately and then cut in the butter with 2 knives.  That always cracks me up.  Who does that??  I have a pastry blender that I can use like nobody's business- I have strange conversations with myself at 6:15. I'm sure I need more coffee.
It was right after this I discovered the whole dried cranberries thing.....  eye roll.



I see I only cut it into 10  HAHAHA!! oh well

So mix the whole thing together and pat it out and sprinkle with turbinado sugar or like they said, a mix of sugar and brown sugar. (Dirty little secret- these were meant to not be overly sweet- YOUKNOWWHO thought they needed frosting and so I melted a few white chocolate chips and made cheaters frosting that I artfully drizzled.  Yeah there are no pictures of that.)  So it was really good- either way.  I didn't need the drizzles, but that didn't stop me from having a piece and then promptly getting a tummy ache from it.  Oh well.

Cherry White Chocolate Scones
Oven- 375
Use parchment on a baking sheet for scones or grease baking sheet

3/4 cup buttermilk (HA I actually bought it for this, at least I had that one odd ingredient on hand!!)
1 egg
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla

1 cup flour
1 cup whole wheat flout
1/4 cup oatmeal
1 TBSP baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt

3 TBSP butter- softened
1/3 - 1/2 cup dried cranberries or cherries or even raisins
1/2 c. white chocolate chips

turbinado sugar OR 1/4 cup white chocolate chips melted for later

Mix wet ingredients together in a big bowl.  Mix the dry ingredients in a smaller bowl. Cut the butter into the flour and for heavens sakes use a pastry cutter.  Mix the fruit and chips into the dry ingredients. Dump the flour stuff into the wet stuff and mix just until together.  Place on parchment on baking sheet, form into a disk.  Moisten hand with water and pat the scone so it gets damp and sprinkle on sugar.  OR just wait until the thing is done and frost with a little melted white chocolate mixed with a tsp or two of milk.
Cut dough into 12 pieces and bake for 22 - 25 minutes.  Don't separate the wedges, just bake it precut.

**NOTE- scones really taste best the same day that you make them.  So eat them or else put the extra in the freezer.  I mean, you can eat them the next day, but they are seriously best eaten about 1/2 hour out of the oven.

So onto a day full of cleaning and reorganizing.!

And that will eventually give me some joy!



Thursday, December 26, 2013

Baked Cranberry French Toast



After all that cooking for our Christmas the weekend before actual Christmas, I really had no intention of doing too much for a while.  Enough already.  But as is my habit, I was checking out the blogs I follow on my feedly and there popped up a really good looking recipe for Baked Cranberry French Toast.


And since I had most of the ingredients, I decided to get the couple things I was missing- well the only thing- which were eggs, and make it for breakfast for the MA and I on Christmas morning.  

The original link is here-  http://www.kristendukephotography.com/almond-cranberry-french-toast-casserole/

I changed a lot of things.  First of all, I did NOT let this soak all night long as I totally spaced putting it together the night before.  Besides I know that for a strata like this, you really don't have to let it sit for more than a half hour or so. I also used halved cranberries. Next,  the recipe called for a cream cheese icing, but I thought that was totally unnecessary....  and I was right.  I also cut the recipe in half, except I used 4 eggs instead of 3.  So yeah, I really made it Debi friendly.  I added some walnuts later to mine as the DH doesn't like nuts.....  doesn't that figure!  :)

SO!

Baked Cranberry French Toast
This is the full recipe, I cut it all in half, except I used 4 eggs

1 loaf of french bread (consider using a grainy or fruit and nut rustic bread, also!)
6 eggs
3 cups of milk or almond milk
2/3 cup of sugar
1 T cinnamon
1 cup of cranberries- halved
1/2 cup brown sugar
walnuts or almonds (optional)

Whisk together the eggs, milk, sugar and cinnamon.  Tear up bread and place in a buttered13 x 9 pan.  Toss the cranberries with the bread. Pour egg mixture over top and sprinkle brown sugar over breakfast.  Let sit for at least 30 minutes.  Top with chopped nuts if desired.  

Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes or until the egg looks set.

Top with real maple syrup if desired.  But it is not necessary!  SO yummy.  What a nice Christmas breakfast!

**This was so easy to do, would be nice with many sorts of fruit instead of the cranberries.  But the tart cranberries were good!  
**I used 3 french bread rolls as there was no french bread to be found.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Merry Christmas!


To all of my favorite people in the world! 


Have a lovely, joyful day!!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Cleaning out and and going back...

So I had a bit of a "Christmas Vacation"moment today.  I went upstairs to do some cleaning, some long long needed weeding out of things that are no longer needed.  And part of the cleaning involved boxes in the upstairs closet.

Of course, I did not have on the turban! 

Because Ella was here this past weekend, I was thinking about the toys that used to litter the floor in years gone by and started looking for them. I found some over the weekend, but today I found more.  And along with the clothes and the stuffed animals came a whole lot of memories.

I know that a lot of them were stirred by Christmas and Ella and the potential little ones that are and will be coming.  The laughs, the smiles, the exasperation and irritation all comes as part of the job of being a parent.  And it all becomes part of your story, your family tale.

So I washed up some blankets and other things that my mom and my Grandma made and cleaned up some toys that have been in storage for many years and I will be ready for lil visitors and be able to give things for little ones to be!

I guess if I already had my allotted amount of family time for the season already, I will choose to indulge in some family time from the past.  Each thing that I saw today, discovered while Ella Bella was here, each item that was cleaned up from lack of use, made me think of those boys.  That baby fine hair, those little hands and feet-- the squealing voices, the toothless grins.  Everything has a memory attached and those memories flowed today.

I did not keep a lot, but it was just enough.  To make a joy giver happy when her babies have grown up and moved away.  It was enough for today.

Don't let anyone steal your joy- life is too short

Smile, Relax, Enjoy, Cherish, Remember


And this is why it's stuck in my head

Lol so I finally turn on the Christmas music and this was just starting!  




video





Baby it's cold, ah but it's cold,  outside!!! 


Baby it's cold outside... and a moment from the past

I am having a great time listening to Christmas music this year, much of it, as previously discussed, inside my head.  The song Baby It's Cold Outside seems to be my favorite right now.  I'm going to be piddling in the house a lot today, so I will have some nice Holiday music on whilst the piddling occurs. Maybe I'll have a new song tomorrow morning.

Since we have had our Christmas, I am not sure what I will do tomorrow.  I might have one more little gift for Mikey, since he will be over to the house for dinner at some point.  I also have some other things to send, but I will prep those for the day AFTER Christmas, because at this point it doesnt really matter, you know?

I got a little Christmas card in the mail yesterday from a person I haven't heard from in a few years.  Her name is Janet Johnson, but she was married, so she has another last name, of course.  There wasn't any letter or anything other than the wishing of a Merry Christmas.

A card from Janet always makes me smile.  I met Janet when I was in 5th grade.  My Grandma and Grandpa Oberley were foster parents to many children after their own children grew up and left home.  I imagine they were about my age when they began doing that, maybe even younger.... I am sure I could do the math and figure it out but, you know....... math.......  no.

Anyway, Janet is my age and she was one of the Native American children that they fostered.  Grandma and Grandpa lived in Walker, MN in the northern part of the state and was a place that we vacationed in every summer.  It was an AWESOME way to spend 2 weeks in the summer.  They lived across the street from Lake May and the beach was just a 100 feet down the road, and their dock was across the road.  It was a utopia for us four farm land kids from southern WI. We were in the lake like little fishes 3 times a day, unless they dragged us away to go visit some relative (God forbid we had to go to North Dakota a couple times) or some park somewhere.  REALLY, all we wanted to do was stay in the lake and get sunburned and go fishing.  But I digress.....

Janet had a sister and brother as well and they lived in my Grandparents home. Grandma and Grandpa had a few families of children over the years, and this bunch were awesome kiddos. They had a tough upbringing, obviously, and Janet and I got along famously.  She was/is so beautiful with her dark hair and olive toned skin. And had the kindest heart.  We began writing to each other after I went home and it has continued until this day!  We almost lost touch a few times, but through a few events have managed to keep track of each other.  The main thing these days is of course I haven't moved since 1982.  That helps people out if there is someone who is relatively stable in their living accommodations.  Janet was adopted after a while and they moved to an even farther north town.

Janet lived in a few places, mostly in Minnesota, but when she got married she moved to Alaska. They lived in Juneau for a long time, and she had her two boys while there.  Things didn't work out so well apparently with her husband and there is a lot of tragedy and sorrow that I don't think is my business to share.  But I am always amazed when I get a card from Janet.  It brings me back to my childhood, to my Grandparents house and to a carefree time of the  year, where we were allowed to come and go as we please, as long as we told where we were going and we were back by meal times and we waited an hour after eating before swimming.  Oh the ways they tortured us.

Janet came to visit me in Janesville when I was at home for Christmas from college I believe.  Or maybe it was when I was in HS.  I can't remember that clearly- but I do know that I had NO IDEA she was coming.  She came in on the greyhound bus and called from the bus station. I thought this was incredibly brave and a little crazy.  She appeared in my life unannounced and I had a nice time with her.  I do not recall what we did, I don't remember what my mom said, or too much about it.  I remember driving to the bus station in Janesville, which was a place I had never been. I never in my life could imagine just hopping on a bus - going at least 500 miles and hoping for the best. I really did admire her gumption.

I will absolutely be sending her a Christmas card today, and it won't make it to Alaska for a while (yes, she still lives there) and I will tell her my email address and maybe she has facebook. That would be grand!  I have a suspicion that she does not, though.  I think she lives a very simple life.  Which is not a bad thing at all.

I will always remember her as her 10 year old self, the girl that I went to a Pow Wow with in Walker, and walked around town, and went swimming with and hung out in her bedroom and talked and laughed and spent time with one summer.  And those little connections come back to say hello every so often.  And they can many relived moments of joy!

I will post a pic of Janet when I find one later today.  So if you are interested, watch for an edit/update.  I am pretty sure I have one.  I really should go through and edit this whole thing, as rereading it I notice that my stream of consciousness today is quite random and not linear at all in a way that would make this somewhat more enjoyable to read.  Oh well.

Until next time, send some joy.  Christmas cards might not be as popular anymore, but they are worth the time and effort in ways you might not realize.



Saturday, December 21, 2013

Oh the Weather outside is frightful....

And the fire is so delightful.....

I love Christmas music, but man can they do a number on me.  There are a few of them that always make me cry.  Plus there are the ones that instantly shoot me to a specific place and time, and there are others that just need to be sung along with!  I played all sorts of Christmas music over my projector system at school (thank you Pandora) which was met with a lot of yays this week and I suspect a lot of eye rolls, too.  It was nice and festive and it actually soothes the savage HS beasties.  The elementary school is quite the other story. NOTHING soothes those kids..... NOTHING!!  They are pretty darn cute tho, those noisy little demons.

I feel like a gigantic weight has been lifted from my shoulders.  School is on a 12 day hiatus and all my kids have arrived in spite of some dicey weather.  I have to go to the grocery store (again) but really I am pretty much ready for "Christmas".  Our Christmas will be today!  And what a wonderful thing that should be.  Now, I have to say that this will make me feel really funny on Christmas Day when no one is here, but I shall survive and go snow shoeing or something.  This just needs to be done.

The Mad oldest son and family arrived at 12:15 last night after a somewhat stressful drive on marginally slick roads most of the way.  It was discussed to wait until this morning to come, but they pressed on.  The roads, once you get off the freeway system, (which is a long way from here, let me tell you) are indeed only driveable at 45 mph.  We have had some wicked winter weather.  A compilation of wicked, not one nasty storm.  And seriously, like I mentioned on my facebook page, Santa, we are not joking. We would LOVE to be able to drive the speed limit at some point before May.  This is beginning to be scarily unlikely!!  Oh well.  Anywho, My bella Ella is here, along with all those doggies and boysies and their girlsies and it is fab-you-lus.

We even had an elusive Michael visit last night, for dinner, which is always nice.  The mad-middle son and Sarah Jane had dinner ready (well almost ready) for me last night when I got home.  EARLY!  Because we were allowed to duck out of work a bit early (YAY) and I got me to the store to pick up a couple things (including a lil gift for the baby bean) and they had even fed the horse!  Already that was a Merry Christmas!  So while we were waiting for the last of the visitors, we played a hot game or three of cribbage.  In partners.  And guess who I was partnered with- and I didn't even have to yell at him all that much for doing a bone head thing- well only once when he pointed a possible run of 4 out during the play.  Geez. He just doesn't understand sometimes that this cribbage game is serious stuff.  One just does not instruct one's daughterinlaw how to get an extra 4 pegs during game play!!  Lol!  Now if we were playing Monopoly the MA would be all business and would own the entire board before I could come back from getting a bag of giant cashews to be snacking on!!

 I totally was channeling my dad during those games.  He was the one who taught me to play cribbage when I was about 10 years old.  He wanted to teach us a game where at least you learn something.  Like your math facts- I can spot a combination of cards to add up to 15 like nobody's business!  :)  Anyway, even though I haven't played for a long time, I find these things are  embedded in my brain and the fact that a double run of 4 is worth 10 points come spilling out of my mouth before I know where it came from.  It was such a nice way to think of my Dad.  He loved Christmas, when he wasn't depressed, loved Christmas lights, and the tree and when we got older he bought a TON of presents for my mom.  I usually ended up wrapping them for him.  My dad ALWAYS put the lights on the tree.  Well, maybe not always, but I remember him doing it a lot.  The first year he started buying presents in earnest for my mom, he took my sister and me with him to the Beloit mall.  We went to whatever the anchor store was- Weise's I think, and he bought her a bunch of clothes and perfume and jewelry and such.  THEN he took us to Walgreens and we had an actual old fashioned chocolate soda.  My sister might have had strawberry, I don't remember exactly.  It was not a Shake or malted but a soda- with the ice cream and a carbonated soda.  We made up a song for it, I wish I could sing it to you.  "I like the ice-cream, the whipped cream, the sooooooda, but I don't like the foam!"  Rosebud I know you are reading this, I know you remember that- right? My dad in a mall, plus buying stuff, plus going to Walgreens- so unusual, you have no idea.  VERY memorable.  Anyway, that was part of my journey last night.

Although I am still slightly worried that someone didn't get an equal amount of presents, I am ready for this event.  I definitely have come to the conclusion that it is the things that surround the presents that are far more important that the actual gifts.  The traditions that can occur on the 25th or on the 21st and the family, the friends and the feeling that surrounds you are far more important.  So I will let that whole equality thing go.  We were as children treated very "equal".  The girls and the boys all did all the chores.  The outside stuff was not for the boys and the inside stuff was not for the girls. We all took turns with the dishes, with the cleaning, and all participated in the yard work and the garden.  And they were pretty strict about trying to give everyone equal amounts of gifts.  I bet there was some addition going on and everything. (my little secret: I never add the money I spend up.  I just don't want to know.  But I am pretty sure it is equitable, but that is where the worry will come in).   I unfortunately have some left over hangups with gifts that still haunt me.  Childhood can unintentionally screw with your mind.  But it is good to recognize these things and move on with it.  And I will have you know, my boys can cook and clean and do laundry and garden and such like champs, too.  They weren't always happy to be forced to do it, but I think that they are glad they have that knowledge to be put to good use now!

I MUST get outside for a walk today. MUST. I can feel a few pounds on my tummy.  I do not like it. While I am no longer obsessing about what my weight is, I can tell from my littlest jeans that the lack of consistent walking has taken its toll and I will be very active the next 12 days.  But not so active that I miss much that goes on when the kids are here!

So as my brain sings Baby, It's cold outside to me, I am going to get going here.  I am looking forward to the day's events and am wishing you all a very Happy Saturday.  And if you are celebrating today, then Merry Christmas!  Be sure to find some joy and peace in the people that love you now and maybe some great memories of Christmases gone by.  Sending you all virtual hugs and internet smooches!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Life these days aka: my wish for you and me

I have not been writing much lately, and I was not sure why.  And I am still somewhat unclear about it.  But part of the reason is I do not want to blah blah blah about being stressed out over Christmas- again.  I just reviewed my December posts from last year, and I do recognize a pattern of feelings.  Like- overwhelmed, sad, feeling inadequate, etc.  It was quite enlightening to read, actually.

I saw someone in the grocery store the yesterday who demanded to know WHY I hadn't been sending pictures to Channel 9!!  I had to laugh, because if I go for a couple weeks without sending pix in, I do get these questions. I was actually just going to say that no one ever asks me why I haven't blogged lately, but oddly I had someone ask me THAT yesterday, as well.

So why?  Well to start, I recently tried to download a boat load of pictures (that I save in RAW format, which are HUGE files) and it told me that I didn't have enough disk space.  OH CRAP.  NOW what.  I had a techy friend tell me to get a separate external hard drive and one of the Mad-sons is going to help me figure out how to save my entire file of photos there.  this makes me a little nervous, but I do have my whole computer backed up on one, so I should be fine.  Obviously (to me at least) this has bummed me out a bit.  And when I am bummed out, I tend to shut down.  So I haven't touched my pictures really since the Madrigal dinner- which was the group of photos I was trying to download.  Please don't make fun of me for this- I'm really good figuring some stuff out on the computer, but hardware type of things throw me.  I really want to thrust the whole mess at someone and say, here do this.  Oh and btw, while you are at it, upgrade me to the latest versions of everything since lately my internet has been pretty doggy and I haven't upgraded my phone to IOS 7 either.  ugh.

There is one thing!

Why haven't I blogged lately?  Well, there is always like a badillion and one things going on in the land of the Mad-Art teacher.  And between weekly school meetings (booooooooo-unnecessary and tedious and could/should be taken care of in more expedient manners), the gym, really WINTERY weather, lists and lists of things to do......  and a super short time between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I have been coming home and collapsing on the couch. Yes, this is denial and avoidance, don't judge me. :P

I'm also going through some big alterations in the way I am living my eating life (good lord, why should I even have an eating life?? This will be a subject of discussion soon) and dealing with major carpal tunnel problems (typing makes my hands numb) and various other things- so I haven't wanted to necessarily discuss it.  But I will!

I recently attended a conference in Minneapolis on Technology for Educators and it was way awesome.  and I want to blog about that and the fantastic ethnic food that we had!  I think I have pix of most of the food and I do remember the name of all the different places that we went!  It was AWESOME!! But again, I have a mental block with the whole pictures thing....

Anyway, that is an update for now.  The Mad second son and his lovely Sarah will be arriving with the doggies tonight and The Mad oldest son will be arriving with his lovely Sarah and my grand-girl tomorrow, so the Oswalds will again celebrate Christmas early.  As long as we are all together, this is a good thing.  I just have to think about what Christmas will be like this year (Ella is just starting to become mobile) and next (we will have 2 mobile babies then) and I realize I have to get a whole lot of outlet covers before then!  :)

So onto my last 2 days of school and then none until 2014.  It will be really good to have a week plus off.  I have plans to do some walking, snowshoeing, weightlifting and some upstairs cleaning. And a little wine drinking.  Plus a moment or two of joy-giving!

Take the time to enjoy your day, and let those Christmas gremlins go. (Debi, someone is talking to you here) Let the season happen, don't expect anything and sometimes you will be pleasantly surprised!! :)  Because really, the very best gift you can give is yourself.  Whether that comes in the form of sharing yourself through your pictures, your blog, your text and email messages, your presence and concern for the people in your life who need you or making yourself and your home open and welcoming to those who visit in person.  I hope that my friends, students, and family find peace and love with me, in whatever form that takes.  And that they can find peace and love in their own life.  The very best way to pay things forward.  Happy Happy Holidays to you!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

What to do first and other wanderings..

TODAY is finally Saturday, the best day of the whole week for most of us.  I have so much to accomplish today, as I am going to be gone for a few days starting tomorrow.  I am going to the TIES convention in Minneapolis (can we have a hallelujah and a few major fist pumps in the air, baby!!) which is a tech conference for teachers.  My life is good.  I am going with some of my absolute FAVORITE people in the world- The Mad-English teacher friend, the Mad-chemistry teacher friend, the wanting to always be anonymous next door neighbor and partner in crime, fellow vegetarian girl, plus finally- my mentee, the Mad-Math Teacher friend.  We are leaving early tomorrow so we can get to the cities and walk to the museum in the afternoon before it closes. Before the vikings game lets out..... YES!!!  Anywho, I have a few things I want to accomplish before I leave.

Most of them involve errands, but I also want to get to the gym, go for a walk, wrap Christmas presents, put up one more string of really cool lights..... OH, I want to send out my calendars this week, but idk if I will get that done before tomorrow.  Yeah, I should be doing that right now so I can take them to the post office, and yet here I am writing a blog post.  Priorities, right??

Hey can I make an observation that is slightly annoying to me this morning.  I just looked up at the TV, as I have the Today show on, with the sound pretty low, and the headline is: 21 States expecting snow or rain today.........  Um yeah- this is WINTER people.  IT IS DECEMBER!!!  WHAT do we expect???  I also find it more than mildly annoying how the Weather Channel names their winter storms.  I seriously want to smack them upside the head.  We who endure these winter storms do not need them named.  We call them- "daily life" or  "oh I better wear my boots today" weather and "I suppose I better remote start my car" sort of a day.  We SCOFF at you weather channel.  Life is dramatic enough,  just tell us how many inches to expect and we will decide if it is "get some bread and milk" time.  I am done now.  :)

Yeah, so I need to prioritize my wants and needs for the day or I will be so worked up by the time night comes I won't sleep.  And since I am the apparent "expert" in Twin cities driving (silly silly people) I have to be on my A game tomorrow, as I am chief navigator!  (I have Siri and I know how to use her)

Just a week from now my house will be full of people and dogs and a baby and it will be good!  All the kids will be here the weekend before Christmas, as their places of work are rude enough to make some of them go to their jobs next week.  I mean just because Christmas is on a Wednesday, effectively cutting the week in two and just kind of messing things up, doesn't mean they should goof up my Christmas celebrations, right? Oh well, Christmas is when everyone is here, so what evs.  I am trying to get all these little loose ends tied up, as I think at least part of the posse will be here on Thursday, so after I get home, there isn't much time.  So lights and wrapping is top priority, as well as a little last minute shopping and deciding on a grocery list.  Oh man, I'm going to be up late.  Lol.

So, maybe I should package up a couple calendars right now to get to my far-est flung friends on the coasts, and then make a fast stop at the PO after while.  That would make me feel better.  I have a gift to send off too, so that might be a good idea, too.  Yep, a list has already started.

Until next time, have a joyful day- enjoy your Saturday.  It goes waaaay too fast.

Ho Ho Ho!!


Monday, December 9, 2013

A sadly neglected blog

Well, hasn't it been a while since you have seen me here!  

I have been occupied with a madrigal dress, cleaning up after myself and the Madrigal dress, going to see the Madrigal dinner and then school started up again.  It is SO COLD again tonight and I am sleepy as can be.  At least I have been able to fall asleep the last few nights and not end up going upstairs to toss and turn.






I have to say that once again I am stressing out a bit over this whole Christmas season. The whole weekend was dedicated to decorating, some exercise and cleaning/straightening from the decorating.  And from the Madrigal dress making.  AND making my calendars.  That is a whole lot more fun when you aren't totally thrown off by the odd Thanksgiving/Christmas timing this year and discovering that the 50% off sale at Shutterfly ends Sunday night..... and you throw those things together like lightening. Oy.  So, kids, if you are a past recipient of my calendar, rest assured it IS COMING, but it might be slightly later than Christmas, but it will be there by New Years!

One REALLY nice thing that is coming up here is the 2 day tech conference that I get to go to next week.  IN MINNEAPOLIS!!!!  WOOOOOT!  Can you say coffee/bakery/ethnicfood?  Why yes I can!!  And we are going to fit in a quick visit to the Minneapolis Museum of Art as well.  After THAT, then I have just a few days and the kids will be home for Christmas the weekend before the 25th.  It will be a nice break.

I have a few blog posts in me when I am more awake.  I think.  Or else I could just babble on about nothing, which is nothing new.  But there are things lurking about the brain.

I think the reason I was compelled to write this is to admit that I once again am feeling like I am not doing a good enough job at ... well life.  Today that means that I am not fulfilling my perfect (in my brain) Christmas preseason work.  I rushed to do the calendars.  I rushed to get my decorations done.  I am panicking about having spent the right amount of money on all the people in my life or that the gifts are just ok or that someone will be unhappy.  And at this rate I am going to be depressed when Christmas Day comes and my kids will not be here.  But that is what they have to do this year, and it really is ok.  But I will be a little sad, but I don't think I should be over thinking all of this.  So I am going to kick back and enjoy the Christmas tree and get my presents wrapped a little at a time and possibly find my Christmas cards that are here in the house somewhere and have gotten misplaced in my shuffling. We have to stop being so hard on ourselves for things like this (she's talking to you, Debi) and we have to quit thinking that there is something magic about Dec. 25- because really Christmas is when the kids get here, or when we get there, or any other combination of family and friends that we can come up with.  So, if you get a Christmas card or calendar from me late, know that I am just relaxing into the season and spreading the joy when I can!

So until next time, relax and enjoy the little things.  I am going to make that my goal for the month!  As pretty much everything is a little thing.