Random Saturdays – Christmas Treats

Christmas is not even here yet, but I have partaken in many a Christmas treat.  Allow me to share some of my favorite goodies that have helped me fatten up and stay warm this Christmas season.

Caramel Apple Praline Cookies – Central Market
Someone at work brought these to our team and they were so delicious!  Dried apple pieces, caramel, chopped almonds and pecans…If it weren’t for all the sugar, they’d be pretty healthy.

Chocolate Cherries – Marich
These are dried cherries covered in chocolate.  The cherries are soft and the chocolate is smooth.  They’re so rich that I can’t eat more than two at a time.  How crazy is that?!

Holiday Popcorn Tins
It doesn’t matter what brand it is, I love popcorn.  I love the holiday popcorn tins because they’re cute and they usually have flavors you don’t get the rest of the year either.  Oh, and they’re everywhere.  I went through two tins (almost entirely on my own) before I stopped because my gums were torn up and the only popcorn left was maple and bacon flavor.  Even Blackish shouted out to the wonderfulness that is multiple flavors of popcorn in one container.

Jacobsen’s Danish Butter Cookies – World Market
These cookies are everywhere are Christmastime.  My beloved husband turns his nose up at most brands because they only have one kind of cookie with the giant sugar crystals on them.  Jacobsen’s has three different kinds of cookies with the giant sugar crystals on them.  Eseentially, they’re all made of the same cookie dough, but in different shapes.  Something about the sugar crystals makes them feel more special, though.

I’m too hungry to continue this list now.  Let me know if I forgot anything particularly yummy so that I can eat it!

Random Saturdays -Christmas Songs

I LOVE CHRISTMAS SONGS!!!  I do not love listening to them before Thanksgiving.  The day after Thanksgiving, I listen to 90% Christmas music until the new year.  Here are some of my favorite versions of some of my favorite Christmas songs.

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas – Judy Garland.
Most of my Christmases growing up were a bit sad.  It was just my parents and me, and they were usually doing their own thing.  Other than opening presents, I was alone.  My grandfather passed away right before Christmas when I was finally old enough to earn money to buy him a Christmas gift.  I’ve spent many a Christmas day completely alone, with no family or friends.  Anytime I have been lucky enough to spend Christmas with my loved ones, I truly appreciate the time because I know how precious it is.  This song completely sums up all of my emotions about Christmas.  It is my absolute favorite Christmas song.

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/We Three Kings – Bare Naked Ladies & Sarah McLachlan
These were always solid Christmas songs, but it wasn’t until I heard this version of them that I really fell in love with them.

Santa Bring My Baby Back to Me – Elvis Presley
Elvis.  Christmas.  What’s not to love?  This song is just da jam and makes me wanna sing and dance.  It really gets me into a celebratory mood.

Carol of the Bells – Straight No Chaser
I was trying to figure out which version I should put on here because I also love the Vienna Boys Choir performing this.  Straight No Chaser does such a clean and pure version, though.  Since the song was originally meant to be acapella, it seemed like the best choice for this list.

That’s What Christmas Means to Me – Stevie Wonder
Have you ever worked retail at Christmastime? It’s not fun. Mostly, it’s the Christmas songs that drive you crazy, even if you love Christmas songs as much as I do, because they play the same 10 songs while being open longer hours than usual. I have had to work retail at Christmastime with this song on the playlist and it was the only song that I was happy to hear every single time it blared in the store.

Blue Christmas – Porky Pig
It’s hilarious!

Random Saturdays -Christmas Decorating

Oh man.  I have been such a procrastinating fool about decorating.  To be honest, since we moved into this house, it’s been a struggle to finish unpacking while keeping the house clean.  Decorating has been on the backest of the back burners for awhile.  Since we didn’t have the kids for Thanksgiving, though, I wanted to get Christmas decorations up for when we first got them in December.

At first, three plastic bins and a few smaller boxes seemed like alot of decorations.  I guess I was still thinking of my single days of living in small apartments with the cat because the more decorations I put up, the less decorations it looks like I have up.  How is that possible?  Is this house growing as quickly as the kids grow?  Did I move into the Tardis of Tardises?

Decorating for Christmas this year also reminded me, yet again, that I’m old.  I never used to understand how people could spend so much time looking over fake plants or getting excited over plastic flowers.  I’ve already bought 3 different kinds of fake greenery to go with the box of fake greenery that I already had.  What in the world is that?  I really don’t even understand why that makes me happy or how that makes it feel like Christmas, but it does.  I’ve used the real stuff and I actually do not prefer it because that crap has to be watered, sheds on the floor, makes me sneeze, and then I have to throw it all out anyway.  The fake stuff seems less wasteful.  It blends in well with the bonsais and bamboo that we keep the rest of the year too.

Some of the decorations in the collection were made with the help of the chillrens over the past few years.  Other parts were just Ben and me going, I’m an adult with a job, so I can finally go into debt buying the crap I wanted as a kid!”

Decorations I’ve bought:
Ceramic Tree – I couldn’t find it online, but we bought it at Cracker Barrel.  Ben and I both got stupid excited over this tree.  It had a train that drove through it, played different Christmas songs, and had changing lights.  Oh yeah, the kids love it too.  It looks kinda like this one, but was not nearly as expensive.
Fake Berries – I don’t know why I think this stuff is so pretty, but I do.  It’s honestly hard for me not to eat these.  They just look so pretty and delicious.  I wish I had enough to fill the whole house with them, like some kinda Christmas candy forest!

Decorations I’ve made:
Ho Ho Ho banner – This was pretty quick, but not quite as easy as I thought.  I decided to write the letters myself instead of printing them out, which is why my banner isn’t as pretty as the one I pinned.  I still think it’s cute, just not cute enough to put up on Pinterest.
Snow Man Door – Lego helped me make ours a few years ago.  He also named it, “Shuger”.  He’s a better speller now, mostly.  This was another one that looked quick and easy, but was not quick and was only mostly easy.  That’s Pinterest for ya.

Decorations I’d like to buy or make:
Snowflake Table Runner – I remember learning to make paper snowflakes in the 1st grade.  I got very sick the weeks of Christmas and New Year’s, but I spent alot of time in December and January making paper snowflakes, wetting them, and sticking them to the windows.  This seems like a version of my snowflaked youth.
Elaborate Wreath – Of course, it would only be complete with an elaborate porch.  See how the red reindeer looks upon the grand wreaths with awe!  Gaze upon the door that is too pretty for a mortal hand to knock!  Be gone with ye, but return when you are bearing gifts of cookies!

I buy most of my holiday stuff after each holiday, when it’s all on clearance (at least 50% off, but preferable >75% off).  I’m still discovering the sale goodies that I found last year.  Hopefully, we’ll be done decorating the house by the end of this weekend and I can go back to focusing on keeping the floors, countertops, and dishes clean.

 

 

Random Saturdays – Welcome Holidays!

The holiday season is here!  If you’re old like me, you find yourself saying, once again, “I can’t believe it’s already November.  Where did the year go?”  If you love the holiday season like me, you are also excited that the holiday season is here.  Canada has already celebrated Thanksgiving, and Halloween and Election Day have just passed in the U.S.  The next big U.S. holiday is, of course, Thanksgiving.

The holiday season is also the birthday season in my world.  From October – March it’s a non-stop birthday celebration.  I used to be one of the few summer birthday people that I knew.  Now that I’m married, half of the family have birthdays during birthday season, and the other half of the family has birthdays in the summer.  I’ve always felt sorry for people who had birthdays around the holidays because their birthdays are overshadowed by the big holidays, especially if you’re born around Christmastime.  That’s why I try to make a point of giving separate Christmas and birthday presents to Christmas babies.  Plus, there are so many great sales during the holiday season that it should be easier to shop for holiday season babies.

Oh and shopping.  There’s the neverending fight between shopping vs. meaningful holidays.  I really don’t think that they are mutually exclusive.  I believe you just have to be aware of the meaning in holidays and you have to try to share that meaning with others when you are giving gifts.  This is especially tricky with kids because they are naturally inclined to just want stuff, lots and lots of stuff.  If we don’t teach them to be grateful for what they have and to think about what they can give and do for others, then they turn into ungrateful adults who have the nerve to think they can actually criticize gifts given to them and favors done for them.  That is the type of attitude that kills the holiday spirit and turns everything into a debate about the “true” meaning of any given holiday in a bad way.

This was our first holiday season together. The kids are about twice the size as they were then. My stomach is about twice the size s it was then. (From left to right: Dora, Lego, Ben, Minecraft)


I am American and I celebrate Thanksgiving.  I love the food.  I love time off from work.  I love spending time with my family and friends. When I plan Thanksgiving at my house, I always try to do it as low key as possible, but then find myself stressing myself out by trying to cook everything perfectly and make the house look immaculate.  I do it to myself.  Not once has anyone ever criticized me for not having enough food, the right food, a dirty home, ugly decorations, etc.  It’s all in my head.  With the kids, I’m trying to be more aware of that and remember that if I stress myself out over this crap that doesn’t matter, then they will learn to stress themselves out over crap that doesn’t matter as well.  Just as bad, they may start stressing others out about crap that doesn’t matter and think they are entitled to criticize the cooking and entertaining abilities of others.  So, I’m trying not to pass stress and judgement on to my kids.

Then there’s Christmas.  Let me say now that I am not Crhstian but I do celebrate Christmas.  I grew up Christian, spent many years in a crisis of faith, and have finally found myself in a good spiritual place, the details of which I am not going to delve into during this post.  I celebrate Christmas because it’s what I grew up with and it represents a time of giving and spending time with loved ones for me.  When I had the Great Santa Claus Crisis around the age of 10, my mother told me that she believed in Santa Claus because he was the spirit of giving.  So, no matter how old you were, you should always believe in Santa Claus.  No matter how much or how little you got in your stocking, you should always believe in Santa Claus.  I decided to adopt that belief as my own.

We just had the kids write their letters to Santa because we won’t see them much in November and we wanted to make sure that Santa had plenty of time to get their letters.  They asked for some surprising gifts, but also had interesting conversations with Santa.  Dora was concerned that Santa might not like the milk and cookies she wants to leave for him.  Minecraft told Santa that if he were lucky, he would get cookies and milk.  Lego just wanted to know if Santa and Mrs. Claus were doing okay up in the North Pole.  They all decorated their letters with colorful pictures and included phrases like, “Santa’s #1!”  Three years ago, their letters to Santa just told Santa what they wanted.  It might not seem like much, but to see their thought processes go from “Here’s what I want,” to “How are you. Here’s what I might do for you.  I think you’re great!” is pretty cool.  They also helped each other write their letters, with no help from Ben or me.  We did have to get onto them once for arguing over marker colors, but they worked together well otherwise.  Now, I can add cooperation, mental growth, and emotional growth to the great things that Santa represents for me.

As I typed this, it was about 6:30 AM and I had been awake for three hours with a terrible headache.  The kids were just picked up for school by their bio-mom and Ben had just left for work.  The cat was running circles around the house, chasing invisible toys.  The Excedrin has moved from making my head a bit numb to making me rather dizzy and the cat has begun her grooming routine, signaling that she is ready to curl up with me for her morning nap.  I’m going to take the cat’s advice to end this post and get some rest.  I hope that you are as excited about the holiday season as I am and that it holds as much meaningful promise for you as it does for me.  Happy Holidays!

Random Saturdays – Plan, Plan Plan

It’s barely the end of January and my calendar is filled through the end of June.  How is that possible?!  As I move through the days, I can’t figure it out, and yet, I keep packing more stuff onto the calendar.  It’s no wonder I keep having nightmares about people being mad at me for missing the ball on something that I either promised to do and never did or something that they volunteered me to do without my input.

Christmas was fun,  though.  Ben and I made the most of the time that we did have with the kids, our families, and our friends.  I was on call the week of New Year’s, but it was actually quiet enough that I was able to get out of the house without having to bust out my laptop and work.  It was a belated Christmas miracle!

Since then, I’ve had difficulty getting motivated to do any of the things I need to do, and I finally realized that it was because I was depressed…even though I’m on anti-depressants.  When I went to the doctor a week ago for a med check, she found that I had been doing well in alot of areas (cholesterol, blood pressure, asthma), but could tell right away that my depression had worsened since she last saw me.  After talking about my options, she encouraged me to see a psychiatrist who could monitor my depression more closely, but I told her that I don’t have the time or money for that.  She upped my meds a little (since I was taking the bare minimum anyway).  I will see her again in a week and am feeling much better.

It’s a difficult thing to stay on top of brain meds.  You have to keep track of where you are, what you think might have led to that, and know where you want to go.  Then, you have to keep track of your progress as well as any regression that occurs.  If you’re at the point where you need brain meds, this can be especially difficult to do.  I’m an old pro at this, though, so I like to think that I’m a bit self-aware in that aspect.

Since increasing my dosage, I am a bit more motivated to get things done.  I haven’t gotten into a regular workout plan yet, but I do work out while I brush my teeth and while I watch tv.  It’s just short spurts, but I suppose it adds up.  I’ve gotten worse at portion control since increasing my meds, but have been eating healthier in general.  So, I still haven’t found the best route for me yet, but I’ll keep trying.  Ben got a Bowflex this month and has been doing the 20-minute exercises three times a week.  It’s helped remind me that if he can find one hour a week to workout, I can too.  The cat has also been sick and we are on the second round of liver meds to try and get her better.  Having to make time to care for her reminds me that even though I may not want to workout or always eat well, it’s important to take care of myself.  At least, this is what I’m telling myself.

Plus, I need to get healthy to gear up for all of the stuff going on in the coming months.  Right now, we’re planning on getting our finances aligned to buy a house, we have a wedding to go to in February, Minecraft’s birthday, Spring Break with the kids, we’re getting married, other family members’ birthdays, the reception, tons of work, being on call, finding and buying a house once the financial stuff is good, and (hopefully) packing and moving.  Those are the highlights, but plenty of smaller events are sprinkled in throughout the weeks and weekends.

I used to rely on staying busy as a distraction from depression, but now, it just wears me out.  Ben has been great at trying to remind me that I need to rest when I need to rest.  I hate giving in and being lazy even when I know he’s right, but if I keep pushing myself, I know I’ll just end up burned out and on the couch for weeks or months.  Right now, our big project is getting the kids’ furniture set up in their rooms.  Santa gave them great gifts, but did not give us the time and energy it takes to put the furniture together.  This will really be the first weekend since Christmas that they’ll be at our house long enough to use any of it, though.  So, it’s important that we get everything set up so that they can enjoy the furniture before they outgrow it.

I’ve been meaning to write this post for awhile, but work, life, and laziness continued to distract me until I read this interesting article on non-dishware things that can be cleaned in the dishwasher.  Blew my mind!  Also, I don’t quite know how it inspired me to write this post, but, you know, such is life.  Either way, you can thank me when all your stuff is clean.

Random Saturdays – Last Minute Christmas Gifts

It’s the time of year when all I see on the internet, TV, and magazines are gift lists.  25 Gifts under $25! 42 Gifts for Geeks!  117 Gifts for the Elderly!  Since I love lists so much, I decided to offer up my own list of Christmas gift ideas. Since I procrastinated about it so much, it is a list of last minute ideas.  All of the items on this list are also featured on my Pinterest board, so mosey on over there to check it out!

ANGELA’S TOP TEN LAST MINUTE GIFT IDEAS FOR CHRISTMAS 2014

I hope you heard trumpets heralding in this list, because that’s what I’m hearing as I type it.  Then again, that could be the repercussions of growing up with a half-deaf guitar-playing dad.  Either way, let’s get to the list!

  1. Christmas Mix Tape – Or CD or USB drive…?  Don’t hate.  I love ’em.  I listen to Christmas songs after Thanksgiving and before New Years, and that’s it.  Keep the Christmas in Christmas Songs, right?
  2. Christmas Cookies – I love cookies all year long, but for some reason, it’s more acceptable for people to eat Christmas cookies.  Only humbugs don’t gorge on Christmas cookies.  Erica and I keep seeing all these recipes for peanut butter blossoms, which are good, but they’re not my favorite.  I actually have a cookie press that I have only ever used for frosting.  I’m thinking of busting it out this year for shortbread cookies, but there are also these exciting meringue cookies and cute reindeer cookies too.  I can’t decide!
  3. Keurig — They range widely in price, but I got a mini Keurig about 3 years ago from QVC for around $80 and I love it.  The cups can be expensive, but you can use one of those 20% off coupons from Bed, Bath & Beyond that we get in the mail, or get a reusable K-Cup for less than the cost of most things at Starbucks..
  4. Shaving Stuff for Dudes — Men deserve to be pampered too.  Considering their willingness to take knives to their faces on a regular basis, it’s always a nice gesture to give them some fancy shaving stuffs to tell them that you like their faces and hope they don’t chop off any chunks.
  5. Storage — I tend to buy Christmas ornaments and gift wrap after Christmas so that I don’t have to sell my non-existent first born child for some paper and plastic dolls.  I store my clearanced goods in organized bins of various types.  I’ve been storing my gift wrap in paper shopping bags for years, but I’m thinking of upping my game and seeing if I can find something like this for cheap after Christmas.  Then again, $13 is such a good price, I could buy it as a gift for myself right now…
  6. Socks- Or should I say, Socks!  They keep your toes nice and toasty, make your feet look adorable, and fun socks are always a conversation starter.
  7. Stationery – You can buy some classy stuff or some funny stuff.  Just know your audience, alrighty?
  8. Pajamas – We got all the kids pajamas this year.  I even got some for Ben and got some for me from him.  We both have holes in our PJs and there was a really good deal at Old Navy.  So, if you’re on a budget, go the Old Navy route.  If you can spare a bit more, hit up TJ Maxx.
  9. Wallets – Tell me that you know a guy who doesn’t have a busted up wallet that desperately needs replacing.  That’s what I thought.  There are some pretty cool geeky wallets out there, but also classic wallets for not much more money.
  10. Books – Yeah, you know those block-shaped things filled with pages and writing?  They’re still fun to read and make great gifts.  You might have to explain to younger readers that there is no power button and no place to enter a password, but they’ll get the hang of it soon enough.

I’m going to go wrap the presents that I’ve already bought for people.  Hope you all enjoy some time off with your family, friends, pets, good food, and warm blankets.  Merry Christmas!