Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011: A Year in Review: Part I

I feel like 2011 was an okay year for me. My first thoughts were that nothing really major happened. No one in my family died, I didn’t date or travel overseas…2012 should be interesting!

In January, I went skiing for the first time in 20+ years, joined a bowling league, enjoyed snowy parks, hung out with old friends and coworkers on football Sundays, began taking pottery classes, visited the zoo in 10* weather, took my sisters sledding…

Jan 2011

February brought an ice storm, rainbow cookies, chocolate making with the kids I nanny for, a visit to my best friend in Pennsylvania, the birthday celebration of a stuffed dog, a trip to Toledo to visit my friend Sharon’s new baby Cillian, my 26th birthday…

February 20111February 2011

March was full of fun. I played Michael Jackson dance Wii at Stacy’s house, celebrated my birthday with my family, kicked my family’s butt in bowling,  visited Cincinnati, went to Lake Erie with two college friends, saw Tangled in 3D, watched many scary movies, welcomed Ladybug, and dog sat even though I don’t like dogs.

March 2011March 20111

My new car arrived in April, along with warmer weather, flowers popping up, resetting a car radio, bison, tie dyeing, a visit to the piano bar, lots of time outside, getting pulled over in my new car, dyeing Easter eggs, and Cillian’s baptism.

 April 2011April 20111

May is usually my favorite month. I turned the Santa Maria, discovered the show “Bones”, watched my sister fall into a creek, rope swung, and visited Hocking Hills with friends.

May 2011May 20111

Part II coming soon! Smile

Friday, December 30, 2011

My House on the Lake

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When I went to the lake this fall with Bug and Ladybug, I had some free time. We were there because their parents are looking to buy a lake house, so I found one I could afford to have some fun up there, too!

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What do you think of my new pad? Winking smile

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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Where Oranges Grow

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The boys and I took a trip to the conservatory to check out some original Grinch drawings and gingerbread houses. While we were there, we went to the Palm House. Little Ohio boy that he is, Derek spotted this tree and had some questions. 

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Derek- Hey! Hey- what’s that orange thing growing on the tree?
Me- Uh, that’s an orange, Derek.
Derek- (very confused) What?
Me- It’s an orange. Where did you think an orange came from?
Derek- Oh. The ground…

Poor little Ohioan.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Unwrapping Christmas Traditions

I love hearing about everyone’s Christmas traditions. How does your family celebrate?
 
- My family has an annual Christmas party. I haven’t been able to attend for a few years now, but there are usually around 100 people (or were back in the day...)
 
- I have the job of hanging the Christmas stockings, or did when I lived in my parents’ house.
 
- On Christmas Eve, we have our family dinner of ham, au gratin potatoes, rolls, etc.
 
- On Thanksgiving, we each pick a name of one of our siblings to buy a gift for. This started years ago when we were really young and didn’t have money to buy 6 siblings & 2 parents a gift, but it’s continued to this day. On Christmas Eve, we exchange our “Secret Santa” gifts.
 
- After SS gifts and dinner, we attend Christmas Eve Mass.
 
- In past years, I have enjoyed the quiet of my parents’ house after Mass, as the rest of my family goes to a party until early morning. Last I heard, this may be changing- and that’s sad to me. After a few full family days, I usually enjoy the quiet, still house, twinkling tree, Christmas movies, hot cocoa and pizza.Lol…
 
- On Christmas morning (er, afternoon, depending on how late my family is out the night before) all of us wake up to a candy cane at the foot of our bed.
 
- Before we go downstairs to catch sight of the tree, a frumpy picture is taken of all of us on the stairs.
 
- Once we are downstairs, we can open our stockings and the little gifts inside, but nothing else.
 
- When it is time to open gifts, we go one at a time. With 9 people, gift opening literally takes most of the day. Open-mouthed smile
 
- During the gift opening, we snack on bishop’s bread and coffeecake. Later in the day, there are meatballs and/or leftovers ready and waiting in the kitchen.
 
That’s my Christmas, what is yours like?
Merry Christmas everyone!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Guatemala!

I was going to write about this before, but didn’t want to say anything until it was planned out a little more. Over Thanksgiving break, my sister Lyd and I signed up and recently got word that we were accepted-

We will be spending a week in Guatemala  in June!

We will be going with a Christian group that our family has supported for over 20 years. CFCA stands for Christian Foundation for Children and Aging. By sending monthly payments, we help support children in third world countries. Occasionally, we receive letters and photos from the children and it’s exciting to watch them grow as we support them for multiple years. Smile

I personally support a teenage girl named Joy, who lives in the Philippines, but two of the young girls my family currently sponsors live in Guatemala, so hopefully we will be able to meet them!

Lyd and I would love your prayers and support as we prepare over the next few months for this trip. It will be Lyd’s first mission trip as well as her first time out of the US.! Smile

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Pen Pals



When I was 8, I was matched up to write a thank you letter for my school to a nice couple living in Pennsylvania. I believe they had contributed money towards something- maybe our diocese at the time? It was a privilege to be chosen to write the thank yous, as only children in my school with readable writing were able to participate.

After sending my thank you, I received a letter back from the couple.

I sent one back.

And so it began! Over the years I was excited to get mail from Leland and Mary Ann. I heard about their children, and they saw my journey switch from attending Catholic school to public school to homeschooling and later college. While they told tales of winters in Florida, I longed to travel, and eventually did. I sent them a postcard from Europe while studying there, and they sent me one from Key West, a place that still remains on my "to see bucket list".

When my twin cousins were born in Rhode Island in late 1997, my sister and I went to "help" for two weeks. While there, a package came from Leland & Mary Ann for me- a Christmas gift box full of card games, a tamagotchi (remember those!?), candy and other goodies.

Over the years, our correspondence has become more spotty- mainly birthday and Christmas cards. They grew older and frailer, and I moved, changed jobs and addresses probably too much for them to keep up! Either last Christmas or the year before, I remember a Christmas card from them, saying that Leland had had a stroke but was doing okay.

 This year as I was writing Christmas cards, I saw their address and sent a card off- honestly not knowing if they were still alive or living in their former home. Less than a week later, I got a card back! They are both doing well, still trucking along. It was my favorite Christmas card to receive, hands down.

Although I have countless cards and letters from the couple, I've never met Leland and Mary Ann in person. It's likely I never will, at least in this world-- but it's amazing to have been a part of this long-distance connection for almost 20 years!

Do you have any long-term penpals? I'd love to hear your story!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Our Pet Mouse

We don’t really have a pet mouse- but we do/did have a mouse in the house!

I was babysitting the other night and received a text from my roommate – “Are you afraid of mice?” Surprised smile

Nah, being a sure fire country girl, I’m not afraid of mice. After a few more texts were exchanged, I learned that there was a little mouse scurrying around our living room. My roommate managed to get Mousey under a bowl and when I arrived home, he was waiting for me under the bowl in between our living room and kitchen. I grabbed a Toys R’Us ad I had no use for anyway (their toys are way wicked expensive) and deposited Mousey out by the fence in our parking lot.

Farewell, pal. I’d honestly take you over a shedding cat or dog any day…

Monday, December 12, 2011

Organization

There are a million posts in my head- but I have literally had a non-stop schedule. A few more months and this absolute crazy work schedule should be over…

As a former teacher, my life was overflowing with leftover gift cards. Add to that library cards, store membership cards, ice cream punch cards…it was driving me batty. The cards were hiding, it seemed, all over my house.

So here is my simple solution. I bought a cheap clip-shut box at Target. It measure about 3 inches in height, maybe 6”x10”.

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It’s not perfect, but it’s better than the hot mess I had going before. Besides, when I went Christmas shopping with my sisters and mom, they were all impressed by the box. Haha… Smile The plastic box stays in my car, since 99% of the time I am in need of a card, I’m arriving at the restaurant or store via my car.

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What are your tips for organizing gift cards?

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(Now, if I had a bigger budget for storing gift cards, this is cute!)

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Pinterest Inspired

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A couple weeks ago, I read a blog and saw what looked like a fun craft- melting crayons! My younger sisters and I tried it over Thanksgiving and here’s what I have to say about it:

-it’s very cool
- it is also very time consuming to line up all the crayons and glue them on
- it takes a while to melt the crayons, especially with a super old hairdryer
- I’m pretty sure you can’t really mess up!

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Now, we don’t like to do things the easy way, so I wasn’t really prepared. Our first task was rummaging around my parents’ basement for a suitable canvas to use. We settled on a piece of wood, uncovered old white paint, and began.

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Gluing the crayons on was actually kind of fun!

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We used just a normal ROYGBIV rainbow lineup, but sometime I’d like to try a sunset and beachy-themed picture. I think that would look cool! Smile

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We did two over the course of the weekend- here they are!

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Saturday, December 03, 2011

Celebration Day!

Yesterday was a long, long day. I had two midnight-lasting babysitting jobs throughout the week, as well as a 10 pm one (that one was my fault, I had a work meeting that went until 8 pm and then I ended up visiting some friends that live nearby…) Basically, not much sleep had been had this week.

I worked late Friday night as well, something that was not communicated and by 6pm I was just in a bad mood, ready to put my feet up for multiple hours and just zone out.

As I walked out the door, I was handed my bonus, and magically my spirits rose. The bonus coupled with the money I’ve been saving through babysitting (minus what I had to use for more car repairs last week, that is), I only have about $1200 left to pay off my car. Hopefully, if I keep putting in 60+ hour weeks and exhausting myself Winking smile my car will be paid off by June at the absolute latest! This is a huge, huge deal to me —a car (used, of course, paid off within 14 months? If I can do it, I will be proud of myself).

So to celebrate?

I sat down with a couple of Capri Suns and a 49 cent large pizza from Papa John’s- enough to feed me for three meals!

Sometimes my life is just so exciting.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Ginger Cookies!

Now that I have survived NaBloPoMo, it’s time to get into the Christmas mood! I would show you a picture of my bedroom already full of Christmas gifts for my family and the kids I watch, but my mom reads here Winking smile 

Instead, I urge you to add this cookie recipe to your holiday goody list. A mom at the school I used to work for made them and I loved them so much I asked for the recipe. Smile 

Ingredients:
2 1/4 cup flour
1 TBSP and 1/2 tsp ginger
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt (optional)
3/4 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses
additional sugar
Combine flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and salt. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl beat butter to soften. Gradually add 1 cup sugar, beat until fluffy. Add egg and molasses, beat well. Stir dry ingredients into beaten mixture.
Shape dough into 1 1/2 inch balls. Roll in sugar and place on ungreased cookie sheet about 2 1/2 inches apart.
Bake at 350* for about 10 min or until light brown and still puffed. Enjoy!!! :D

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