Thursday, December 18, 2014

Spin Cycle--The Christmas Newsletter

I an awful about getting Christmas cards into the mail. I have done it and I love getting the newsy letters that come from other people, but just can't get myself in gear to get our own out.  So I thought I'd put one out here, not that my friends and family (other than bloggy friends) read this, but it would be nice to throw out a review of the last year.  Or maybe more update on where we are now.  So here goes:
Dear friends and family,
2014 has been an interesting year for all of us.  Shall I sart with the youngest and move on from there, sure why not?
Bruiser has had a wonderful year.  He completed preschool and started Kindergarten.  He loves school and is doing well.  He also learned to ride a bike this year, no training wheels.  He needs to get just a bit bigger so he can learn to start the bike on his own, but he's riding like a champ once he gets that first push off. We are so proud of him!  He is also getting a new bedroom, well new to him as he is getting Turbo's old room. Bruiser is excited to have both the room and the loft bed.
Turbo has had a good year too.  He started sixth grade and is settling in, with only a few bumps and adjustments.  He is currently on the cross country ski team and is enjoying the experience of practicing and after Christmas he will get to compete. Turbo will be moving into his new room this weekend.  He will be living in the attic where we have finished out a very nice room for him.  At 11, it was time to give him a bit of a retreat.

Both boys are looking forward to Christmas and the Christmas break with much anticipation. In truth, so are Nick and I.
In news of Nick, there were some shake ups at work this year and the result is that Nick is the current Technical Lead.  He's pretty much in charge of the technical side of things at work.  He is up to the challenge and is growing into the role nicely.  He tried very hard to archery hunt this year, but the weather was just too nice.  The animals stayed high and hard to find in the mountains.
I myself have had a pretty good year too.  Work is still interesting and I do like going there.  I have found that even with Bruiser's picky eating, we can still have a decent variety for dinner menus.  I have tried to get more active.  This is a more come and go activity, but I'm trying.
As for the fun things we did this year, we had a whirlwind tour of Wyoming with the boys in early summer.  We headed up to Sheridan and then over the Bighorns. A second night in Thermopolis with a visit to the hot springs and the dinosaur museum.  Then we were headed home.  The boys got to see some of Wyoming and they loved the hot springs.

Just before school started, we took the boys for a few days in the Black Hills.  We camped in a campground outside Custer SD.  The boys named it Bunny campground for all the rabbits running semi wild.  It was a very fun trip with a visit to Jewel Cave, The Cosmos Mystery Spot, Bear Town and Reptile Gardens.  We will definitely be heading back up there to visit again.

Once school got started, we settled into a sort of routine.  We did a round of swim lessons, Bruiser is very close to advancing to level 4.  Turbo is at level 8 and truthfully could move on to  the swim team, but he is busy with ski team at the present. Halloween held it's usual fun and candy getting and Thanksgiving was wonderful this year, spent with family and friends.
I wish you all a fabulous 2015, and hope the new year brings health and love.
Vandy, Nick, Turbo and Bruiser!
What would your holiday letter be? Or would you write a letter to Santa?  Spin it up and join up.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Holiday Hodgepodge

Here we go:

1. Time magazine has selected The Ebola Fighters as their person of the year for 2014. Do you agree, and if so who would you say is a close second? If you disagree with their choice, who do you think should have been chosen? I can agree with this choice.  They are after all risking contracting Ebola, but they are also helping to stop the epidemic.

2. This question comes to you courtesy of Susan who blogs over at Stew Mama Says. She knows we have a wedding happening any minute now, and she asks, 'What's your favorite-something old? something new? something borrowed? something blue in your home?  Be sure you hop over and say hi to Susan today!  My favorite something old is an antique kerosine lamp.  As for something new, I have to go with the new living room furniture we have.  I don't have anything that is really borrowed right now, maybe a book or two. My favorite something blue is the blue down throw that Bruiser has appropiated for his own, especially when he is snuggled up next to me with it.
3. Fudge-yay or nay? Your favorite flavor? Do you make it yourself? With nuts or without?  Not a fudge fan.  It's far too sweet for me.
4. December 17th is Wright Brothers Day, commemorating the first successful flights made by Orville and Wilbur Wright in 1903 in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.  How old were you when you made your first flight? Do you like to fly? Have you ever been to Kitty Hawk or other parts of the North Carolina Outer Banks? My mom took me to England when I was 13 months old.  I do believe that was my first flight. I don't mind flying, but the planes can be uncomfortable.  I haven't been to kitty Hawk, but Nick has.

5. Do the people in your family tend to follow a particular career path, and if so what's the path? Nope.  In my mother's family there were several who pursued and recieved advanced degrees in the sciences, but no one particular career path.

6. What is one thing you absolutely, positively must accomplish today? I have to get my hair cut.  I should wrap some presents up. 

7. This Christmas I hope___________________________________.  ...That we stay healthy and have a wonderful time with family.

8. Insert your own random thought here.It seems that this Christmas season is rushing by at about mach 5.  We only got our tree up last Saturday.  Next Thursday is Christmas. Someone stop the merry-go-round, I want off.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Holiday Randoms

So here we are at Tuesday.  Have to admit that I'm feeling sort of out of sync.  It's better now that we have a Christmas tree up, but I still feel a bit off.  Oh, well, perhaps the holiday will help.  Now on to the randoms:
  • This coming weekend is the great bedroom shuffle.  As soon as we get the heater and furniture up to Turbo's new attic bedroom, Bruiser gets to move to Turbo's old room.  They are both pretty stoked about the whole thing.  I think we have a handle on Clothes storage for Turbo.  There will be some further work in Bruiser's new room.  We need to add some electrical outlets and then put up bead board and repaint. This will give the room a whole new look.  Hopefully we can have it done by the end of Christmas break.  Oh, so lucky Nick is so handy!
  • I get to tackle laundry this weekend.  Goody.  It will give me a chance to shift clothes around for the kiddos.
  • I think next year nick might need one of these:
  • We have yet to watch A Christmas Story.  It might be on the agenda for this weekend, or early next week. Nick loves that movie, it's his favorite Christmas movie.
  • I still have to have a major wrapping party.  Not sure if the boys are nervous or not.  We don't have very many presents under the tree presently.  I really need to get on that one...
So, I hope everyone has a productive week and you get all you need to get done, done!

Random it up with Stacy.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Back to Normal?

OK, so we might be back to normal operations at our house.  Last week was the weirdest week ever.  Kind of sick kids.  Sort of sick hubby.  Feeling better and then down again. I managed two days in the office.  Craziness.  But, everyone is where they are supposed to be this morning.  Now to see if it lasts.
On the up side we were able to go get our Christmas tree on Saturday.
Nick was finally able to fill a permit.  Yes, we went and got a wild Christmas tree.  THen we brought it home and decorated it.

All in all, It was a pretty great weekend.  It snowed on Sunday so after a trip to the grocery store we spent the rest of the day being lazy. Since next weekend promises to be busy, we are planning to move boys to new bedrooms, and Christmas is coming (ack!!!), it was nice to have this weekend be pretty quite.

And now on to MMMM.  Christmas themed of course.
Elvis Presley and Martina McBride with Blue Christmas:

Bing Crosby with White Christmas:
Martina McBride with Silver Bells:
Have a wonderful week!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Spin Cycle--Holiday Recipes

We are pretty big on certain holiday traditions.  One big one for us is having Christmas Breakfast at our house with the grandparents.  Most years this has meant that Nick and I (mostly Nick)spend time in the kitchen making breakfast and not with the grandparents and the boys.  Last year I changed it up a bit and made a delicious breakfast casserole the night before and all we had to do was throw it in the oven and bake it in the morning.  So good!
Here is the recipe I used: (It came from

Hash Brown and Egg Casserole
recipe image
Rated: rating
Photo By: amandak23k
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 1 Hour 20 Minutes
Ready In: 1 Hour 40 Minutes
Servings: 6
"Classic breakfast favorites come together in this layered hash brown casserole with eggs, cheese, and sausage."
1 (2 pound) package frozen hash brown
potatoes, thawed
1 pound pork sausage
1 small onion, diced
5 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and ground black pepper to taste
12 ounces shredded Cheddar cheese
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 2 quart baking dish. Place the hash brown potatoes in the bottom of the baking dish.
2. Heat a skillet over medium heat and cook and stir the sausage and onion until the sausage is crumbly, evenly browned, and no longer pink; drain. Meanwhile, whisk together the eggs, milk, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper, and pour over the potatoes. Layer with half the Cheddar cheese, the sausage mixture, and the remaining Cheddar cheese. Cover with aluminum foil.
3. Bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour. Remove cover; return casserole to the oven and bake until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean, about 10 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED © 2014 Printed from 12/11/2014

I made a few minor modifications: I added 1/2 teaspoon of ground mustard, 1 extra egg to the egg mixture, and we fried bacon and crumbled it to add with the sausage.  Once the casserole was assembled we covered it and refrigerated it over night.  We pulled the casserole out of the fridge about a half hour before we baked it and the whole thing was lovely.  You can serve it with ketchup or salsa, it's good either way. 
The best thing about this was that not only was it good, but both Nick and I could spend time with the grandparents and the boys instead of cooking like mad fools and barely seeing them. This casserole will be making the rounds again Christmas morning at our house.  It was just so very good.
What are your holiday recipe favorites?

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Wednesday Hodgepodge

Well, Turbo is back among the living.  We had a run of something through the house.  The only one who didn't get it was me.  Knock on wood. Nick started the ball rolling Friday morning with the stomach flu.  Brusier came home with a fever and sore throat Friday after noon from school.  Turbo came down with the yucks on Monday.  I got two extra days at home with him.  Fun times around here, fun times, I tell you.  But now we are mostly back up and running.  We still don't have a Christmas tree up, but we do have some lights. Anyway on to the HodgePodge:

1. What is one new holiday tradition you'd like to establish, or one you've established recently, say in the last year or two? For us it's putting up outdoor lights.  Nick's dad loves decorating for Christmas.  We have been less enthusiastic about having Christmas throw up on our lawn. But a couple years ago, Nick decided that doing a bit of outdoor lights wasn't that bad.  We do white lights and not bunches.  It works for us.

2. It's the second week of December. Have you sipped a cup of eggnog yet this month? Wrapped a gift? Opened a gift? Kissed someone under the mistletoe? Lit a candle? Eaten a Christmas cookie? Seen Santa in person? Watched a Christmas movie or special? Read scripture relating to the birth of Jesus? We have not wrapped any gifts yet (no tree to put them under yet), we have not even managed to get any egg nog yet.
But we have been watching Christmas movies with the boys.  So far we have managed to watch The Santa Clause, Polar Express, Rudolph, Santa Claus is Coming To Town, Merry Madagascar, Merry Shrekmas, and The Santa Clause 2.  I also watched the CMT Country Christmas Special with a friend.  It was pretty good.
Christmas cookies will be made the Monday before Christmas.  We have Ninjabread cookies to make, sugar cookies and chocolate chip cookies. At least those.

3. Do you think it's better to be an adult or a child at Christmastime? Explain. There is magic in both.  I love giving the perfect present and knowing the the recipient will absolutely love the item given. I love watching the glee that our boys take in the holidays. And I remeber the anticipation and the feeling that the best day of the year would never get here. In some ways, even though the days go by so fast, the anticipation is still there, but for slightly different reasons as a grown up.

4. It's often said, 'Good things come to those who wait'...agree or disagree? Why? They say patience is a virtue.  I guess it means taht not rushing into things is a good thing.  Not diving in head first, but waiting and testing the waters can make things better.

5. What's the last sweet thing you baked? Did you keep it, take it to a party/event, or give it away? The last sweet thing I baked was Pumpkin Pie bread.  THe recipe makes two loaves and it tastes like pumpkin pie only in bread form. So good.  It was mostly for us.  One loaf is still in the freezer.

6.  This question comes to us courtesy of Jhona who blogs over at The Red House at the End of the Lane. Everyone hop over and say hi to Jhona this week!  Here is her question... "I heard an actor talk about how he makes a conscious choice to talk to people in elevators.  He chooses to connect, make eye contact, and converse. Do you talk to people/strangers when you're in an elevator or any other place where you might have to wait together? Why or why not?" I most certainly do not.  It comes from my being an introvert.  I just don't do well with connecting to strangers.  Nick on the other hand has no problem with striking up conversations in elevators, on airplanes, in lines.  In those situations, being and extrovert really makes a difference.

7. Are you on the naughty or nice list this year? What put you there? I'm hoping I'm on the nice list. I don;t think I've done anything that would put me on the naughty list.

8. Insert your own random thought here.With the yucks running thought our house, one thing that has surprised us is the empathy that Thullee, our younger dog, has expressed.  He has snuggled up to those who are sick and been wonderful at being comforting.
Of course he's not completely grown up yet:
We do love our Thullee dog!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Friday five--Confessionish

And there's only three weeks til Christmas.  Nervous yet? Or as Turbo put it this morning-20 days.  Tick tick tick...time is rushing away.  So let's get on to the Friday 5.  This week it's a bit more confession like than random.
  1. I haven't vacuumed for over a week.  The dust dinos are charging across the floor with alarming regularity. Going to have to find my inner domestic goddess to remedy the problem.
  2. It's also laundry weekend.  The mountain of laundry must be conquered.  I have to start with towels. They are kind of left over from last laundry weekend...
  3. We are going to get our Christmas tree this weekend.  Time to throw some Christmas around the house. I think I might have to spend Saturday tidying and putting stuff away.  THings are getting cluttered.  
  4. I wish it would snow.  Like lots of snow.  Maybe not Buffalo amounts of snow, but snow.  It would help me feel Christmasy. For now, we are watching Christmas movies and mostly just letting that feed the Christmas feeling.
  5. We have been trying to get Christmas ideas from the boys though.  Not having tons of success with Turbo.  He wants a PS4 and the Lego Star Wars AT-AT. That's it.  Not so helpful there. Bruiser has ideas, but still not a ton of variety there. We'll think of something. I have a few things figured out for Nick, but not much.  Of course he doesn't have a ton of ideas for me either. Sigh, this is the more stressful side of Christmas for us.  Giving ideas for gifts.  Such problems to have...
So here are some Christmases of yesteryear for us:
Getting the tree Turbo's first year, 2003

Christmas 2005 in Vermont.

Getting the bounty, Christmas 2006

Tree hunting, gotta build a snowman, 2007

Monster snowshoes, tree hunting 2008.
Go join the lovely Emmy Mom for more Friday 5.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Spin Cycle--Preparation

Preparation is the topic of the spin Cycle this week.  How do you prepare for things like tests, dinner, life?  I must say, I truly don't think I prepare as much as I should for things.  But I do prepare.
When we are having some one over to the house there are certain things that we do to prepare.  There is the planning of what to eat, prep work for that food, the cleaning of the house, then the actual prep work I need to do to be social. 
As an introvert, there is a preparation that needs to be done for me to be comfortable in a group.  A lot of it is mental.  It helps when the group is going to be good friends, but I still need time to prepare myself for having the public me on.
I never really realized that I was an introvert until I saw some posts about it on some blogs I follow. But once I looked into it, I found that the description of an introvert fit me perfectly.  What makes things interesting is that Nick is an extrovert. He thrives on interaction with people.  Me, not so much.  So that takes some preparation on my part for when we have to go do the public thing.

Once I found out about introverts, I realized that it explained so much about myself.  I not socially awkward, I'm just better at observing than participating in large groups. I find I do better throughout the day if I get my 15-20 minutes in the morning for myself.  I'm also better if I do the social thing in spurts, or set it up so I have recharge time.  Being on all the time is exhausting.
So, I really do prepare for times when I have to be social.  But I really enjoy getting together with the select few who I consider really good friends.  And once you make the cut to really good friend, I have a tendency to be able to talk and talk.  However, it's really only about three or four friends at a time. That really all I can handle.

What do you do for preparation?  Have certain rituals?  Or do you just wing it?

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Hodgepodge for Wednesday--#200!

This is the 200th edition of the Hodgepodge.  I haven't participated in that many, but it's cool that it has lasted that long.  Now on to the questions:

1. What is something in your life right now that feels a little 'hodgepodge'? Our routine.  Turbo is getting involved in atcivities at school--he is a tween and those things start coming up about that age. I have been low on motivation and the dark and cold are just making me want to curl up and snuggle in and read.  Not so conducive to getting things done. I feel I have been phoning it in recently.

2. What does 'peace on earth, goodwill to men' mean to you? If you ahve goodwill toward men, there will be peace on earth.  Sadly, the goodwill is hard to have toward everybody.  People personalities are so diverse that some people, you just can't get along with.

3. Which edible treat you are most looking forward to sampling this December? Dark Chocolate Turtles.  I love them and they are a treat that I know I get for Christmas, it's a tradition!

4. It's that most wonderful time of the you agree, and if so why is it so wonderful?  If not, what would you say is the most wonderful time of the year? I find that this time of year is pretty good.  We get two weeks off for Christmas--the perk of working at a university. I'm looking forward to skiing and working on the boys' rooms and not having to get up at o'dark thirty.

5. What was the last word you looked up in a dictionary (actual or online) and why? I can't remeber the last word I looked up, but I know it was to figure out how to spell it, not so much for the meaning.  I read a lot, so I have a pretty good grasp on vocabulary.  Nick is always asking me for spelling and meanings.

6. Besides a Christmas tree, what is your favorite thing to decorate this time of year? I like putting up decorations in our front window.  Nick puts lights up out side and I help, but we keep the decorations low key.  Nick's dad is the one for huge decorating displays ala Christmas Vacation.

7. Share one thing you've learned (about yourself, people, or anything at all) in the Wednesday Hodgepodge, or through blogging in general. I have a far better time "meeting" people online than in person.  I an introvert and this medium lets me meet without the uncomfortable face to face stuff I don't do so well.

8.  Insert your own random thought here. With this being the 200th edition of the Hodgepodge, I went and looked up the first time I participated in the Hodgepodge.  Come to find out it was way back when it first started up in November of 2010.  I had been blogging for a year and found this fun meme and since I liked answering questions, I joined in.  Left for a while and now I'm back.  So nice to have this for the middle of the week.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Tuesday Randomness

Trying to get back in the swing of things.  After a holiday off it's hard to get back in the mode.  But here we are at Tuesday and time to random:
  • Just three short weeks until our Christmas vacation.  Two whole weeks off at home with the kids.  Not scary at all.  With luck there will be snow and we can go skiing or sledding.
  • We also have project boys bedroom shift that we are hoping to complete by New years.  For one boy at least, most probably both.  My crafty/scrapbook room may take a bit longer.
  • I discovered what I want for Christmas:
  • Hopefully we can get our Christmas tree this weekend. I did get the countdown calendar down yesterday morning.  The boys are quite excited about that.
  • In honor of the season:
  • If only it were that easy...
Have a great week.
Random it up with Stacy.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Whoa, December!

Blink.  I missed October.  Blink, there goes November.  I swear I'm not blinking away December. It seems to be whizzing by so fast. But we did have a great Thanksgiving. Lots of laughing, great food, and good times.
For us, it all started Wednesday.  We do a light meal Wednesday night of cheese, summer sausage adn cracker with a veggie tray with dip.  Keeps it light and easy with all the traditional stuff to come the next day.
We spent the day with our family by choice.  Some good friends adn family that are good friends made up our family for the holiday.  Ultimately, there were seven adults, seven kids and 10 dogs running around the house.

We did do something else with our long weekend.  We started work on the attic bedroom for Turbo.  Turbo helped to texture the walls, and then they painted and we got carpet down.

Once we get trim up, a heater and then the furniture up there, he will have a pretty cool bedroom.
We will hopefully have it done by New years. 

And now on to MMMM.  Christmas theme for the month and here we go:
LAdy Antebellum with Baby, It's Cold Outside:

Brad Paisley with Santa Looked A Lot Like Daddy

Kenny Chesney with All I Want For Christmas Is a Real Good Tan:
Enjoy the holidays!


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