Friday, November 30, 2012

Do you use an Advent calendar?

I was on Pinterest yesterday looking at the create ways people count down to Christmas.  As a kid I remember my parents having an Advent calendar (store bought) for us with little doors to open each day, and a Bible verse was behind each door, each verse telling a bit of the pre-Christmas story.  I have seen some calendars for sale in stores with candy behind each door - although I'm not sure what that has to do with preparing.

This Sunday is the first day of Advent so I'm pondering how I want to prepare myself this season.  What can I do each day?  

Yes, Pinterest had some cute homemade ideas.  But, I'm also wondering what (and "if") you have a tradition during Advent.  I'd love to hear from you.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Only 4 Hodgepodge Question weeks til Christmas!

Blink.     Goodbye Thanksgiving...   and hello Christmas season.  Most of the Hodgepodge questions for this week have turned to preparing for Christmas. 

1.  Which do you prefer - a pretty gift wrap with a bow or a pretty gift bag without a bow? What percentage of your holiday gifts are currently (as in right this very minute) wrapped in some form or fashion?

I guess I prefer a gift bag filled with pretty colored tissue AND a bow!  I like the fact that bags can be recycled and used for many years.  Yes, I'm one of those people that go around after the frenzied gift opening has finished Christmas morning and collect the bags for using next year.  I usually wrap clothing items in boxes though, wth wrapping paper and a bow.  Often it's the gift that determines how it should be wrapped.    Second question:  0!! 

2. What is one item on your list this year?

I do not have a list.  I do not NEED anything.  I am of an age, and in a wonderful living situation, where when I need something I go buy it.  So, for me, Christmas is all about celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ and having family together.   Yes, some family members will be kind and have a gift for me - but I am not asking for anything in particular.  

3. What makes a home?

I have thought about this before because I know people who have to come home to a bad some form of abuse, or to expectations, or to formal rules.   Home SHOULD be a place where a person can totally relax, and feel contentment, and feel love.  

4. Motown founder Berry Gordy is celebrating his birthday this week.  Are you a fan of the Motown Sound?  If so, who's your favorite Motown arist and/or song?

I am absolutely a fan of the Motown Sound!  (The best thing to come out of Detroit!!)   I don't have one favorite, but when I think of Motown I certainly think of Smokey Robinson and Diana Ross.   They were two of Gordy's BIGGEST singers that came from his studio. 

5. Red or geen - which is prevalent in your closet?

I have more green for sure.  I have green eyes so I tend to wear green.  It's one of my favorite colors.

6. True or false - Bacon makes it better?  If you answered true, what's your favorite dish made with bacon?

True!!!  I think bacon is good on just about anything.  I don't use it in cooking at home (because I know it's not good for me) so when I go out it's a treat to get bacon.  I'm a big fan of a BLT in the summertime, and I love bacon crumbled on any salad!!

7. Share a favorite holiday memory.

Thinking back to my childhood, I remember how we were able to pick one gift to open on Christmas Eve.  My father was a Lutheran pastor and so Christmas Eve was always a BUSY night at our home, but he would come home between services for about an hour and that was when we kids got to open the gift.   I also remember that my mother made the BEST cheese cake, with a graham cracker crust - and we would put the canned cheery filling on top, and have it at Christmastime.   Yum!

8.  My random thought.

November came and went very quickly!!   We had a nice Thanksgiving at my sister's in Ohio!  No trip to that area is complete without seeing some snow, and once again we did.  Luckily it was just flurries as we drove south, back home.  That was enough snow for my liking!  

Now for my Christmas mantra:     don't stress....don't stress....don't stress....don't stress....

Have a good week everyone!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thankful for the Hodgepodge.

The Thanksgiving Hodgepodge has a couple of good questions about Thanksgiving and the day after.    It is funny how we can all stop, be calm, and be thankful for a few hours on the holiday and then many people go out and act like lunatics the next day in the stores.  

Are you one of those people?  

Joyce asks - and I answer below.   Feel free to tell me about your Thanksgiving too. I love reading the comments!

1.Turkey - love it or leave it?  White meat or dark?  What's your favorite thing to make using leftover turkey?

I LOVE the smell of the turkey cooking in the oven on Thanksgiving!  I think that's my favorite part.  I like to eat white meat, but it has to have gravy on it.  I have always felt turkey is pretty "mild" flavored so it's not something I eat at other times of the year.  But, on Thanksgiving, with all the good sides and smothered in gravy - now that's yummy!  Leftovers?  We usually are at my sister's for the holiday so I don't have leftovers.  If I did, then I suppose I'd put it on a salad since I'd be trying to eat healthy after pigging out on the holiday.

2. Gotta burn off all those carbs the day after a holiday feast so which would you rather do - run a 10k or climb a mountain?

Definitely climb a mountain!  I prefer exercise that doesn't seem like exercise!   Climbing a mountain is a good workout but also a great way to enjoy nature and vista views.  (Just watch out for black bears, right Joyce?)

3. Do you feel like social networking has made your relationships better or worse?  Explain.

I love social networking!  Facebook has reconnected me with friends from my past, and has put me in contact with family members I don't see often.  Only once (that I know of) have I accidently hurt someone and they "de-friended" me and it still really bothers me.  But, for the most part, it's been a delight to share pictures, and jokes, and updates.  I have even "met" wonderful people, including my blogger friends, online. 

4. How do you find and express gratitude for the hard things in life?

I pondered this question for a little while. Why?  Because I am so blessed and have few "hard things" in life.  Again, why?  Because I put God as the center of my life, followed by family, and then everything else.  How do I express my gratitude?  By thanking God everyday for ALL things!  I pray, I attend church, I give back in His name. 

5.  In the US, the day after Thanksgiving has been dubbed "Black Friday."  Is most of your holiday shopping done live and in person, or is it done now through the magic of the internet?  How do you feel about stores opening at midnight on Friday?  Will you be out amongst the masses on Friday?

I order some gifts online, but I still do most of my shopping "live" in stores so I try to get it done early to avoid the holiday crowds and a feeling of pressure to buy "something, anything."  I will NOT NOT NOT be out on "Black Friday" shopping.  I do not like frantic people rushing around, grabbing at special deals, etc.   What a HEADACHE that would give me!!   And, I feel the stores are trying so hard to beat out the other stores for the shoppers that it won't be long til stores open at 6pm on Thanksgiving.  It's not fair to employees.  Wondering... Do they get paid double time?  Do they have an "option" for working on a holiday?    

6. Speaking of the color black - which black item in your wardrobe would you say is your favorite?

I have a black top that goes with everything.  It can be dressy when worn with a skirt - or I can wear it with jeans.  It is comfortable and flattering. It has a 3/4 sleeve so can be worn year-round...alone, or under jackets.  It was a good buy!

7. What do you appreciate about your life today?

Joyce, are you asking for only ONE thing?  I suppose you mean what do I appreciate at this point in my life that I didn't have or experience earlier on in my life.  If so, I have to say I REALLY appreciate who my daughters have turned out to be!   Both of them are loving, caring, and fun people.  They are a joy to be around!

8. My random thought.

If you are traveling over Thanksgiving, be patient and kind to your fellow traveler!  It's going to be busy out there.    Be thankful to arrive alive, and to able to share a meal with family and friends!  
H A P PY     T H A N K S G I V I N G     ! ! !

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Hodgepodge 101

After taking off a week,"just" because she was without power (small problem...), Joyce is back at the Hodgepodge this week.  This is Hodgepodge #101 and here's the 101 on how to play:   Read my answers and respond with your comments, or better yet, post your own set of answers and keep the Hodgepodge a rollin'! 

Seriously, thank you Joyce!!  I am happy to report her power is finally back on, along with just about everyone else in the NJ town I used to live in. BUT, it took a LONG LONG time!  Some friends were without power for 13 days there!  Here's my "extra Hodgepodge question":  Would you stay in a cold, dark house for that long - or go visit relatives or find a hotel with electricity?   Remember, gas was scarce too!  I think when the next big storm is predicted not only will people be stocking up on bread, water, flashlights and batteries, but they will be buying gas cans and filling them up too!

Here are Joyce's questions, and my answers:

1. What rule of life should never be broken?

The rule of respect for your fellowman.  You don't have to agree with everyone, or like them, but you need to give everyone the same respect that you would like.  

2. What's your favorite family recipe?

I have a "my side of the family" recipe and "my husband's side of the family" recipe.  For my side it's my mother's apple dumplings, made from scratch - and used as the entree for dinner.  Hot out of the oven with cold milk poured on top! Yum!   From my hubby's side the recipe is for a pineapple cheese side dish.  I know it sounds like an unusual combination but it's REALLY good together...with the other ingredients.  We have it at almost all family get-togethers.

3. Is the media manipulative?

A resounding YES!   Back in the day when there was only 3 major networks the news slot was considered an unbiased time, and it was there to inform and "report" the news, without emotion or without editorial.  But, once the cable station numbers exploded and the competition got fierce, most news outlets felt they needed to "attract" viewership (which equals ratings) and fill the endless hours of news.  CNN was proud of being 24 - 7 when they first went on air.  But, in reality, it's too much time to fill - for all stations.  So, they started adding in "talk shows" and "creating" events, and either by design, or accidently, had a hidden agenda. They learned if their news programming appealed to a type of viewer (conservative, liberal, rural, urban, etc.) they would win their viewership, which means ratings, which means advertising money.   So, yes, the media (news media) IS very manipulative today. 

PS: Do you remember when you would see the words "Breaking News" come across the TV screen and you knew it was something VERY serious?  Now, it's used all the time.  EVERYTHING is breaking news!

4. Hubs and I saw "Skyfall" last weekend...are you a fan of Bond films? If so, who's your favorite BOND?

I am not a fan of Bond movies.  I saw the first couple of them - but have not seen any since. Wondering...How many are there now?  My favorite Bond?  Pierce Bronson sure looked good in the tux, with his martini lightly shaken. 

5. What is one thing you hope people NEVER say about you?

Only one thing??   ha!  I guess I hope people never say I am uncaring.  In reality I care too much, and that has gotten me in trouble occasionally.  But, I'd rather be TOO caring than NOT caring at all.

6. What's a nearby tourist attraction you'd like to see but haven't gotten around to visiting?

I would like to go to the Magnolia Plantation, just outside of Charleston.  But, I need to go in springtime when the azaleas are in bloom.   Maybe I'll go THIS spring!

7. Where's your favorite tree?

When I first read this question I thought Joyce mistyped "What's your favorite tree?".   But I like the "where" question.  My favorite tree is in Brookgreen Gardens, near where I live. It's a HUGE Live Oak tree with spanish moss hanging off of it.  The gardens are acres and acres of land that once was an old plantation, and was turned intio a living & sculpture garden by the Huntington family.  It's a "must see" for anyone coming this way!  Now, besides the gardens, there is a walking zoo, a nature center, historical tours, etc.  It's slogan is "every changing, ever beautiful" - and it is!

8. My random thought.

There's SO much I could talk about...  Sandy and her aftermath, the election, how early Thanksgiving is this year, etc.  But, this time I will simply say I am THANKFUL for each day, each season, each year!     Have a great week blogger friends!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

An early start this year.

It's a chilly start to today. Of course, it IS November 10th. The day is going to be beautiful by afternoon, sunny and near 70 degrees.  Since it's Saturday, I am planning my day around the South Carolina football game at noon.  Go Gamecocks! 

In just a bit, once the temps rise more, I am going outside to plant some flats of winter pansies I bought yesterday.  That's one of the nice things about living here: year round flowers!   I also bought two small evergreen trees to place into planters at my front door. I plan on putting lights on them later, for the holiday season.  Then, after the new year (if I can keep them alive) I will plant them out at the "riva-side" place. 

I can't believe how I am already in the pre-holiday planning time!! Christmas cards have been ordered.   I've started buying some Christmas gifts.   Next Saturday our church is having a festival with crafts, baked goods, etc. and I have been decorating ornaments to sell there. It's a fundraiser for worthy charities and our church quilting group.  I have been letting the Christmas songs play on my ipod while I do my work.  

Last week hubby and I even put up an artifical tree at the"riva-side" home.  It's our first Christmas season there and I guess we got a bit anxious! ha!  It's not decorated yet, but it looks very pretty lit up in our entrance room.  I plan on making shell ornaments for it. I want mostly homemade and "beachy" looking decorations there. 

So, this early "Christmas spirit" I am feeling this year is not my norm.  Believe me.  Oh yes, I usually start ordering & buying gifts in November because I don't like being in malls in December...but I have really gotten a jumpstart on much more already.  

Why?   I'm being postive in general, and I'm especially excited because this year both daughters are bringing the boyfriends for Christmas! We will have a houseful!   And, hubby's sisters will be here with their significant others too - for the special dinner. 

I hope this feeling continues.  I want to keep stress at a minimum and enjoy the season!    Stay tuned.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Why I am voting...

I have tried not to use my blogging space as a political mouthpiece the last few months.  But, this Tuesday is the election...  for president, and other local and statewide people and issues.  

I hope everyone who is eligible to vote WILL take the time Tuesday and do it.  I don't want to hear complaints after the election, whatever the outcome, if you didn't take the time to vote.

Now, I know it's easy to get cynical about the whole thing.  I certainly have had my moments.  We see/hear so much about the dirty campaigning, and the spins on everything said and every poll taken (and there sure have been a bunch of them!)  What un-nerves me right now is how the news media narrows the election down to just a couple of "key" states due to the electoral college system.  It makes me feel unimportant, and that my state has already been "decided".   In general, I blame the media for creating too many hot button issues for their ratings.

But... I will vote.  I have voted in just about every election, and I have certainly voted in every presidential election.   I will vote Tuesday.  It's my civic "duty" but also my "opportunity" to express myself, and to be a part of the democratic system.

For many who know me, they know I lean towards the Democrats in vision and in policy.  I usually vote for a Democrat.  I plan to again on Tuesday.   BUT...  and this is a big BUT...  I do NOT like being stereotyped as "that kind of a person" of someone living in a dream world.  I have heard it all.  Believe me. I have been told that I'm not real enough, I've got my head in the clouds, people will not behave how I want them to behave on their own, business makes the world go round, etc.  

I am 56 years old.  I have lived pretty long now, and I have listened, and learned...and I have come to a place in my HEART and HEAD (I do believe the two have to go together - even in politics) and I am happy with my beliefs.  What are they?

I believe that all Americans have the same right to everything that is offered in our great land.  We all come from different circumstances and backgrounds, but we are EQUAL under God.  (I am a Christian and I do believe in God, but I do believe in separation of church and state. I live my life as a Christian - and thankfully this country gives me that right.)    I believe that women and men have free minds and can make choices...including choices that have to do with their sexual identity, their own bodies, and their livelyhoods.

I believe in taking care of those who can not take care of themselves.  STOP!  Listen closely... I believe there are those who can not work and need assistance due to physical and mental limitations.  It is our duty to take care of them.  But, they should not be freeloaders.  They should be required to give back to society.  They should have responsibilities expected when getting help.  Volunteer!  Do something!  I believe our govt has the right to limit the kinds of foods and drinks those on assistance receive.  I believe they should be required to take drug and physical ability tests regularly.

I believe that human kindness and love can win.  I do not want our country to be perceived as the "big powerful mean ruler" of this world.  We should always help other countries with whatever we can give them, but we should not shoot at their innocent people, or bomb their lands.  I know that terrorists and evil is out there and it must be stopped.  But, I believe that we can eliminate those people without sacrificing others.   Technology today has created ways of fighting that we have never seen before, for the good and bad.  

I believe education should be a true number one priority in the United States.   There's been too much talk of it's importance but our high school dropout rates are embarrassing.  Education can bring on better research and jobs, and it can lower crime.  It must include the arts... I believe it is not up to the govt to decide what type of education is allowed and what is not. 

Oh - I can go on and on...    there are endless issues.  I believe no person can totally agree with everything in one party, and not the other.  As free thinkers, that's just impossible. 

Yes, I will vote for President Obama to have 4 more years to continue his work. I believe our economy is slowly improving. Real state is coming out of the hole it was in.   Certain job markets are seeing some growth.   We are in no new wars (thank goodness!) and we have eliminated some evil in the world.  I consider President Obama a thoughtful, intelligent man - a family man - and I think he deserves more time to continue on.  Now, if only we could get both sides of the aisle in Congress to try and compromise for the good of the American people.  Ok, yes, maybe I can dream...

Go vote Tuesday!