Monday, December 31, 2007

The Countdown Begins!!!

New Year's Eve Sparkling Punch

1 (23-ounce) bottle raspberry- or blackberry-flavored sparkling water, chilled
1 (750 ml) bottle sparkling white grape juice or sparkling apple cider, chilled
1 (10-ounce) bottle citrus- or tropical-flavored sparkling water, chilled

This is what we're having tonight for our Celebrate Recovey folks. Mmmmm good.

I'll triple the recipe to make 50 servings. [Using the sparkling white grape juice, because I've had enough apple cider for 2007]

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Notes on the New Year

I'm pretty excited about 2008. Even though it's just a new page on the calendar I like the idea of starting fresh. Doesn't everyone? This is the time of year I enjoy getting rid of all the clutter. When I get in this mood it scares John. He starts locking his old junior high school hockey jerseys in his car trunk so I won't toss them. Before we got married and I moved in his house we had a 30 cubic yards' (really big) trash trailer delivered to the house and we filled it--twice! I'm not kidding.

John likes to save ticket stubs, old envelopes, grocery lists, single socks, newspapers, cd cases, keys, empty boxes, hotel shampoo bottles, ketchup packets from fast food places, cell phone chargers to cell phones we no longer have, toothbrushes, stadium cups, towels, plastic utensils wrapped in cellophane, amazon shipment packing sheets, remote controls to electronic devices we don't have, old laptops, old printers, plastic water bottles, the little plastic measuring scoops that come in Tide boxes, pens that don't work, watches, soap slivers, single broccoli and cauliflower florets, expired medicine, printed mapquest directions, cool whip containers, aluminum foil baking pans, bathrobes (I've never seen him wear one), old plane tickets with the boarding passes and baggage claim tickets.

I'm not as much of a saver, but I tend to hold onto my books, shoes, notebooks, recipes, newspaper clippings, greeting cards, letters, shoes, artwork, and fabric remnants.

The problem with saving all this stuff is that when you need a phillips screwdriver or my special salad tongs you can't find them because they're buried.'s time to clean up and clear out.

I feel a New Year's Resolution being formulated.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Why is this so hard?

End of Year Review

Received this meme from a fellow blogger...

1. What did you do in 2007 that you’d never done before?
Got serious about golf. I played in college, but this year I took lessons and practiced a lot!

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I promised to read the Bible all the way through--and did.
I made a resolution to do more entertaining at our home, and we had six dinner parties, one big holiday party, a graduation party, and a women's meeting at our house.
I'll make more for 2008, but I haven't decided what they'll be.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Lots of people we know had babies, but no one in our family and no close friends.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Some of our friends lost family members, but no one in our immediate families.

5. What countries did you visit?
This was a domestic year.

6. What would you like to have in 2008 that you lacked in 2007?
A clean garage.

7. What dates from 2007 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
March 2007, our trip to Las Vegas...stayed at the Venetian and lived at the spa. Awesome!
Easter 2007, community Easter egg hunt we planned and organized. All the little kids were so excited and sweet, we had perfect weather, and the Easter Bunny showed up.
May 2007, James' graduation. We were all so proud! What a great party, too.
July 2007, Ribfest 2. We have the BEST friends.
September 2007, our trip to Searcy. Fun to be at Harding for the lectureship, also played golf with John and saw my aunts and uncles and grandmom.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Professionally--launched another newscast, ratings growth
Personally--more centered spiritually; our work with Celebrate Recovery

9. What was your biggest failure?
Whew--failure is a BIG word.
I didn't like how one of our flower gardens turned out.
We didn't do a very good job of weeding the mulch.
Our work with a local not-for-profit that didn't work out as planned.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Well, it's a toss up between our Cuisinart ice cream maker and the paper trimmer I bought at Michael's.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
James! I am so proud of him for graduating, finding a job, and being successful at it!

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Janet's. Enough said.

14. Where did most of your money go?
General living, I guess.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
James' college graduation, Easter, the ice cream social competition at church.

16. What song will always remind you of 2007?
I've tried to put it out of my mind, but Sanjaya performing "Bathwater" with that horrible ponyhawk hair keeps coming to mind.
Also, "Don't Stop Believin'" because of the Sopranos finale.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: a) happier or sadder? b) thinner or fatter? c) richer or poorer?
a) happier b) slightly fatter c) a little richer

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Worried. Complained.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
At home with family

21. What was your favorite TV program?
The Office

24. Do you dislike anyone now that you didn’t dislike this time last year?

25. What was the best book you read?
Snowflower and the Secret Fan.

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
I didn't make any. Is that bad?

27. What did you want and get?
My new laptop

28. What did you want and not get?
A Coach bag.

Now I tag Jennifer...

Angels? A definite maybe...

Unfortunately, the poll on angels didn't yield any clear answers. 50% of the voters said they've been visited by an angel and 50% said they hadn't been visited by an angel.


The 1st Annual St. Louis Chicken Scratch Dominos Christmas Invitational was held last night. The competition was fierce, but we had a clear winner. Bragging rights go to team Hansen:

Invite These People To Your House!

If you want the perfect houseguests these are the folks to invite.

In the world of aunts and uncles G & S are the best! They were in town visiting my cousins, and spent two nights with us. During the day they were busy helping us on some projects.

Gary hardwired a couple of ceiling lights...

Installed a new outlet in a closet...

Laughed at our jokes...

Shirley Ann bandaged my hand after a kitchen accident...

And raved about my lasagna!

After dinner my uncle even leveled a vent...

They left early, early this quiet we didn't even hear them go.

Some people don't want to invite their relatives to visit, we look forward to having them every time they're in town!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Quite a Leap

Dorothy Hamill is a special guest star on Paula Deen's Party show on The Food Network. Don't know about you but when I think of food, Dorothy Hamill doing a flying sit spin doesn't spring to mind. I still like her hair, though [Dorothy's]. Very spunky.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

How dumb do we look?

One of our Christmas presents was a new printer. I told John to be sure to read the directions before putting it together. Step 1 on the directions (in a bag, inside the box) was "Open the box." Alrighty, then.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas Movies

We've been watching a marathon of Christmas movies the last couple of days. We have one more DVD to watch, "A Christmas Memory." It's 10:00pm now, but I say we have to watch it tonight, because tomorrow will be too late to watch a Christmas movie. I'm getting the `you're a little crazy' look. What do you think? Do you watch Christmas movies after Christmas? Just wondering how far off base I am on this one.

It's A Wonderful Life

'bout near perfect day here on the lane. We had a grand time with mom, James, Barry, and Kelly, opening gifts, eating, playing Scrabble and dominos, and watching (off and on)the marathon showing of A Christmas Story on TBS. Check out the flickr pictures on the sidebar. No snow, but it was cold and felt good to have fires in both the fireplaces. James' puppy Gracie loved her first Christmas! Heard from my brother Steve and sister Suzan, John's brothers Bob and Tom, and James' grandpa Art and his wife Lorraine. It was a special day to remember all the meanings of Christmas--love, family, giving and receiving, the birth of our Savior. Enjoy!

P.S. I won at Scrabble, but let Avis beat me at the bones.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas to All!

They grow 'em big in the country

Does Good Housekeeping's cover photo of Brad and Kimberly Paisley and their baby "Huck" make the baby's head look huge, or what?

Sunday, December 23, 2007

T'was the night before the night before Christmas

Colder than (fill in the blank)here in the Loo, and I'm glad we're all snuggled in at home. My little weather pixie says 30 degrees, but it feels a lot colder. Spent the night wrapping presents and watching The Bishop's Wife and It's A Wonderful Life. [Potter was really an evil man, keeping Uncle Billy's deposit after he accidentally dropped the money which caused the whole mess in the first place...]
By the way, due to popular demand and a bird in the freezer, we're having turkey for Christmas dinner. Probably round out the meal with the best holiday roasted vegetables, the best Christmas salad, and some hot apple cider (see below).
Hoping for snow tomorrow night, but I don't think it's going to happen.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The BEST Holiday Vegetables

These are sooooooo good and soooooo easy! You can use any root vegetable you like, but try the parsnips--they're really good.

Roasted Vegetables
1 pound parsnips, peeled and cut into 1" cubes (not too small!)
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1" cubes
1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 1" chunks
1 butternut squash peeled, seeded, and cut into 1" cubes
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
Pepper to taste
Chopped parsley

Put all the cut vegetables in a single layer on two sheet pans (I line them with aluminum foil so it's easy to clean up). Drizzle vegetables with oil, salt and pepper and toss well with your hands. Bake for 25-35 minutes at 425 degrees, until vegetables are tender (turn once halfway through cooking).

Sprinkle with parsley, taste and add salt and/or pepper if necessary.

Pretty, pretty packages

All lined up, ready to go to their respective recipients...

Thursday, December 20, 2007

My New Sitting Room

Isn't it beautiful?? I love my newly remodeled sitting room. The fabrics are all so beautiful and rich. I couldn't wait to get up this morning and have coffee with John in there. Very civilized.
Our bedroom leads into this room.

The Best Christmas Salad!

Maple Dressing
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup pure maple syrup*
3 tablespoons Champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 5-ounce bag mixed baby greens
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, cut into matchstick-size strips (I use a mandoline, so they're nice and uniform)
1/2 cup dried tart cherries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

Whisk mayonnaise, maple syrup, vinegar, and sugar in a medium bowl until blended. Gradually whisk in oil until mixture thickens slightly. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Dressing can be prepared 3 days in advance.) Cover and refrigerate. Rewhisk before serving.

Toss greens, apples, cherries, and 1/4 cup walnuts in large bowl to combine. Toss with enough dressing to coat. Divide salad equally among plates. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup walnuts and serve.

Makes six servings.
* Please, please, please use real maple syrup of good quality

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

REAL Sign In A Local Grocery Store

You can probably pick up some Great A Eggs while you're there, too.

Pay It Forward--Win a Gift

I'm joining in a challenge listed on Nesting Notes to "pay it forward".

Leave a comment on my blog requesting to join this PIF exchange by 12/31. On the last day of the year I'll draw 3 names and send the winners a handmade gift. Don’t know what that gift will be yet, but you'll receive it within 30 days, that's my promise! The only thing you have to do in return is pay it forward by making the same promise on your blog.

Paper or Plastic? Turkey or Beef?

It's time for the annual debate. What to have for Christmas Eve dinner? The last two years we've had beef...beef tenderloin in 2005 and prime rib in 2006. Which I might add was ordered from my friends at Omaha Steak and was excellent! There's a contingent in the family who always votes for turkey. Said contingent has not been accommodated for a couple of years, so maybe it's time. My mom votes to skip the big meal and just have snacks on Christmas Day. I think that's a throwback from when we were little kids and didn't want to stop Christmasing for preparing and eating a big meal.

What do you think? What's on your menu? Do you have a big meal on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day or one or the other or not at all? Inspire me.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The BEST Hot Holiday Cider

1 gallon apple cider
1 qt. cranberry juice
1 qt. orange juice
1/2 cup brown sugar
Put a couple teaspoons of whole cloves, a teaspoon or so of whole allspice, and 3 or 4 whole sticks of cinnamon in cheesecloth and tie. Heat it all up.

Mmmmmmmmmmm. Plus it makes the house smell soooooooo good.

Loved by kids and adults alike. Not tested on animals.

Sometimes It's Better to Just Keep Your Mouth Shut

I love The Food Network and I like Giada, but I think this Redbook cover photo is NOT attractive in any way. It looks like a caricature. Really, girl, the smile is just too big.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Home Again

We're home after two long days driving our big UHaul from South Carolina to Missouri. So many stories, so little time.

We stopped at the Flying J truck stops along the way, because they have wifi and we could check our email. John is contemplating chucking it all and becoming a cross country truck driver. He likes the idea of not shaving, wearing flannel shirts, having lots of good buddies, and eating fried eggs and hash browns any time of day.

Many, many photos to post tomorrow. Stay tuned.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Is There A Pilot On Board???

Airline Crew Sick After Flight

POSTED: 10:51 am EST December 16, 2007
UPDATED: 11:13 am EST December 16, 2007

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- An American Airlines crew was treated by paramedics after they became sick when their plane landed Saturday at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

Broward Sheriff's authorities say fuel from a generator may have leaked into the aircraft's cabin and the fumes may have made the crew sick.

The eight-person crew complained of nausea and dizziness when the plane landed. Paramedics gave them oxygen and interviewed them. It was unclear if anyone was taken to the hospital.

None of the passengers complained of sickness.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Critter Alert


We're now at mom's house packing up some of her stuff to bring back to St. Louis since she's living with us.

My cousins and aunt were helping me in her sitting room when I saw some fur behind the love seat. I was hoping it was just a dust bunny or something. NOOOOOOOOO!!! It was an actual squirrel. Dead so long that 1) it didn't smell and 2) it left an imprint on the carpet.

[I have a picture of the dead squirrel, but I don't want to offend any friends of PETA. If you'd like to see the picture, give me your email address and I'll send it to you privately.]

Children: This is why you shouldn't do drugs

Picture #1 Flying under the influences of Xanax...a lot of xanax

Picture #2 High on Life

Friday, December 14, 2007

Panera Bread Company is my new favorite place

We're in South Carolina on a mission of mercy for my mother. Naturally there's no wireless in her house because she hasn't lived in here since getting sick more than two years ago and moving in with us.

We came to Panera's Bread company for lunch mainly because the have free wifi. Then we came back for dinner...again because they have wifi. The really cool thing is they have a Coldstone Creamery next door and they told us to go ahead and get ice cream over there and bring it back and eat it here, while we do our net stuff. Perfect customer service.

I told them I'll probably be back at 6:30am when they open.

We survived

Thanks to your prayers to the big guy, copious amounts of stress relieving drugs, and pilots who decided to forgo a little holiday cheer in the airport bar, we survived our flights to Charlotte and Greenville. I'm pleased to announce I remember very little about either flight. One thing weird was neither airport had the jetways working. That meant we had to use the downstairs to get out of the airport and the upstairs to the plane. I was lucid enough to see that as a really bad sign. On the puddle jumper from Charlotte to Greenville I rode with my coat over my head because the flight attendant bawled me out for shutting the window thing. On the first leg of the trip I got in trouble for having my I Pod on during takeoff. I'm sure they would have preferred me screaming bloody murder. LET ME OFF OF THIS FREAKING' THING.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Help Me! I don't want to do it!

I have a fear of flying. Not just a little jittery. Petrified. On the brink of throwing up fear. So now my doctor gives me xanax. He tells me to take a couple before the flight. I end up taking a lot more than a couple. Well my normally sweet, sweet husband has booked us on a regular flight to Charlotte tomorrow, normal type of plane--which is bad enough. But HORRIBLE NEWS!!! He's FORCING ME to take one of those little, bitty, 60 passenger or so dangerous puddle jumpers from Charlotte to Greenville.

Pray for us. I'm not kidding. I'm terrified to get on those planes.

So, I love you all. It's been a great ride (up til tomorrow morning). See you on the other side if it doesn't work out.

If it all does work out, we'll be back Monday sometime.

Things I Don't Understand

1) The Sonic commercials.
Are these funny?

2) Hockey.
I watch at least two games a week on television and probably attend another 10 each year. Still I don't understand basic things like the "give and go", why penalties are called sometimes and why they're sometimes ignored. Why or when a referee calls a faceoff.

3)Why natural brunettes bleach their hair blonde. I'm a natural blonde, so am I missing something? I really don't even understand highlights. And I'm totally baffled about the two tone dark on bottom, light on top hair. I'm thinking about going brunette just to see what I'm missing, but I'm petrified. Not to mention that my mother would be furious.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Hot or Not?

Uggs. Do you like them? Are they still cool or are they over? I need some warm boots, but I don't know.

I kind of like the dark brown ones, but they're like $250.

Let me know what you think.

Christmas Present

I decided to turn my attitude into one of gratitude. Ponder this:

"I am not alone at all, I thought. I was never alone at all. And that, of course, is the message of Christmas. We are never alone. Not when the night is darkest, the wind coldest, the word seemingly most indifferent. For this is still the time God chooses."
~ Taylor Caldwell

Can't Miss Christmas Flicks

1) It's A Wonderful Life
2) A Christmas Story
3) White Christmas
4) A Charlie Brown Christmas
5) Miracle on 34th Street
6) Scrooge/A Christmas Carol (Alastair Sim, George C. Scott, or Albert Finney versions)
7) The Bells of St. Mary's
8) Elf
9) Christmas Vacation
10) How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Tuesday Tirade or "Ho, ho,"

Okay, let me assure everyone I love Christmas. I love the meaning of Christmas, I love the gifts (giving and receiving), I love being around family, decorating, cooking, planning, the lights, the cold weather. Everything. I am not Scrooge. But indulge me...this is my two-week warning meltdown.

Right now I'd be in pretty good shape, except for a few things. First, most of my family and John's family live out of town. That means everything has to be bought, wrapped, and shipped in time to make it under their respective trees December 25th. My family never gives a clue what anyone wants, what the kids' sizes are, the books they've already read, the games they have, their hobbies, their favorite colors, etc. etc. Every year it's a hunting and gathering shot in the dark. On the other hand, John's family gives copious lists of exactly what they want: "Page 16, #6B, of the October Hunting and Fishing Journal, size Medium, red plaid first choice, blue plaid second choice, on sale through December 18th, free shipping if ordered before midnight." Sounds easy, but it poses its own unique problems. So far, I've bought them all some small things, but I haven't received their lists so I've held off on any major shopping for them. Now I'm late on buying, which makes me late on wrapping, and late on shipping. One year I went off the reservation and bought things not on the lists. After opening gifts from me, one person asked if I'd read his list before shopping. Obviously, thinking was a bad choice on my part. Last year they all wanted my list, so I wrote down the names of 3 medium priced stores and "I love everything they sell." I got 3 gift cards, all from the same place--the one at the top of the list.

John and I have also scheduled a trip to Greenville to pick up some of Mom's things (every day she adds more stuff to the list of things she can't live without--even though she's lived without them for 2 1/2 years). We fly to Greenville Friday, pick up a giant U-Haul Truck, load it up Saturday, and then start the 700 mile trek Sunday through the mountains back to St. Louis. Whose stupid idea was this anyway? I told John I'm turning my IPod on when we get in the truck and covering both of our mouths with duct tape. I'm not kidding. This is like trying to wallpaper with your husband. Definitely not recommended. I'll post pictures when we get back.

By the time we're home, the remodeling should be finished. Yes, we're remodeling three rooms in our house. The painters are finished, the carpet and tile people come tomorrow. Again, I ask, "Whose stupid idea was this anyway??!!!???"

Now, my mom is sick. Not her fault, but she needs to go to the doctor. She's my mom, she lives with us, so I'll take off from work and make sure she gets there.

Tonight is my book club. I would skip it, but I read the *&^$ book, so I'm going. On my way home I need to stop at the grocery store and pick up the two turkeys I volunteered to bake and bring to our office luncheon Thursday.

Yep. It's the hap, happiest time of the year!

Okay, now I feel better. Off to the book club.

Monday, December 10, 2007

"Polly Want Some Kenny G?"

Parrot Forces Man to Keep Changing His Ringtone
Huddersfield: 54-year-old Stuart McNae has had to change the ringtone on his phone five times and will probably soon have to change it a sixth time because his blue-fronted Amazon parrot has learned to mimic them.

The parrot has already learnt the BBC Match of the Day tune, Lou Bega's Mambo Number 5, Soul Limbo by Booker T, the Nokia theme, and Bob Marley's No Woman No Cry. He chooses to mimic the current ringtone when McNae is out of the room.

"I now have the theme from A Fistful of Dollars. Won't be long before he's got that, too. He waits for me to leave the room before he does it. I'll rush downstairs to find it's Billy," said McNae.


Sunday, December 9, 2007

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Save Some Time, Avoid These Christmas Movies

Nothing's better that watching a great Christmas movie with the fam. Nothing's worse than wasting 2 1/2 hours watching a ripoff like `Fred Claus' with Vince Vaughn. Here's a few other less than spectacular holiday movies you can avoid this year:

* Any remake of Miracle on 34th Street. Stick with the original, the one with Maureen O'Hara and Natalie Wood.
* Any made for TV rendition of It's a Wonderful Life starring the likes of Susan Lucci,Tori Spelling, or Lindsay Wagner. [Actually probably good idea to skip anything with Tori Spelling.]
* Deck the Halls with Danny DeVito and Matthew Broderick. Do not put this on your Netflix list.
* This is truly, truly bad. Run, don't walk, if Surviving Christmas is ever on TBS. Ben Affleck should be ashamed. I'm embarrassed for him.
* You may not agree, but I wish they would have stopped with Home Alone. Home Alone 2? fuggedaboudit. What's wrong with this family anyway that they couldn't keep up with their kids?
* I'm not a fan of any of the Tim Allen Santa Clause classics, but a couple of scenes of Santa Clause III will turn you off the whole franchise...past, present, and future. See above comments about remakes of It's a Wonderful Life if you're tempted to watch this.
* Christmas With the Kranks. No, I didnt like it. Not funny. Enough said.
* Babes in Toyland with Drew Barrymore, Pat Morita, and Keanu Reeves...yes, Keanu Reeves. I made the mistake of buying this on VHS when my son was little. Big, big, big mistake all the way around.
* Stay away from The Family Stone. The concept is bad. The script is bad. Sarah Jessica Parker is bad. Much as I like her, Diane Keaton is bad. Claire Danes is bad. Dermot Mulroney is bad. Luke Wilson is bad. I can't warn you enough that 1) this movie isn't for kids and 2)this movie isn't for adults.

Those are the `off the top of my head' 10 holiday movies you should definitely avoid this year. Let me know what's on your list.

ACTS Christmas Party