Sunday, November 27, 2016

Here Comes Santa Claus!

It is hard to believe December starts this week and the craziness that Christmas has become begins.  We have our plane tickets to fly to Michigan Christmas Eve, eight of our gifts are already there wrapped and waiting.  The few others I should be able to pack but I do have one box to go to Florida.  Kristin and Larry will not be able to join us.  He must have a radiation treatment that will keep him home bound for a week following his recent thyroid surgery.  We are disappointed but are praying for and confident of a good result.
received an email saying our Christmas cards are shipping.  However they did not mention the return labels!  I will have plenty of time even if the labels take until 12/13, the original promise date.  I may put a few decorations out since I have so much done already.

Saturday night we attended Mass then went to Landry's for dinner with Terry and Carol.  I had terrific mahi mahi.  We all enjoyed our dinner and because they were not too crowded, we were able to sit and visit for a long time.

Sunday I did get out a few Christmas things.  I haven't been doing any decorating in recent years unless the kids come for the holidays.  But I just felt like doing a little, but mind you very little, this year!

The tree is up!  This is my Texas tree adorned with Longhorns, the Alamo, bluebonnets, peppers, yellow roses, the state Capitol, etc.  Santa is one of my holiday Beanie Babies that ride my planter bicycle throughout the year.  The turkey just gave up the seat!

I do usually put up the manger.  My grandfather made the stable from a Werks Tag Soap box before I was born.  I have tried to pinpoint the date they merged with Procter & Gamble to at least have a "made before date" but so far no luck.  I know the Werks family lived in the Westwood area (where I attended high school) in 1840.  

 This is the new swag I bought this year for the front door.  Mr. Snowman has been around for awhile.

I didn't do too much Monday and Tuesday.  It gave me a chance to pay some bills, wrap some gifts and work on plans for a cruise next fall.  For our 73rd and 72nd birthdays, we are taking a repositioning cruise from Vancouver to Honolulu.  It took a bit of working things out because our granddaughter is getting married 9/29 in Michigan and we sail 10/3.  So I had to research the deck plans and cabins to choose where I wanted to be, look for flights from Houston to Detroit, on to Vancouver and then home from Honolulu.  I didn't know if we should jump ship the last night in Maui, stay in Honolulu when we disembark or fly over to Kauai.  We have been there numerous times so no particular place beckoned.  We finally settled on Honolulu.  I will be choosing a hotel in Vancouver for overnight before we sail but Kara and Kristin and families are sailing to Alaska from there in July so they can scout a convenient hotel.  

Wednesday I did my ironing that had piled up.  It included the linens from our Thanksgiving dinner but was still only four other pieces besides that.  I did some more investigating concerning our flights, hotel, car rental. Pearl Harbor visit and day at the Polynesian Cultural Center.  So much to dig through.  I gathered some boxes and wrapped  more gifts but I need to make a list of the last places I need to go to finish up.

Ted and I went to the gun club on Thursday for me to see all that has been done to the place.  The first  Five Stands are done and one Sporting Clay course is complete and the second one half finished.  They are pretty courses through the woods.  Ted talked to Mike about a gun and ordered a new one for me.  My Beretta is fine for competition but too large to carry for protection.  The new Sig Sauer will be just right I think.  Merry Christmas to me!

We went to lunch, bought some gift cards, stopped at Academy for another gift and then headed home.  We spent a quiet evening at home.

Friday I wrote checks, lots and lots of checks to go inside the kids and grandkids Christmas cards along with gift cards for some.  And I wrapped.  Thank goodness the church gift and Forum gift do not have to be wrapped.  I think I am finished except for Kara's that I have to take on the plane.  I have seen too many folks unwrapping gifts at TSA to waste my time.  I will stick them in unwrapped with a gift bag ready.

We met Gerre and Barry for dinner then went to our community theater to see The Little Mermaid.  I have to admit I have never seen the Disney movie though I did see the Daryl Hannah movie about her as a mermaid.  Not to worry!  The little girl behind us told us what happens next.  The costuming was inventive and creative.  To mimic gliding through water they wore those shoes that have wheels that click down so they glided across the floor.  Ariel and Eric both had wonderful voices.  Flounder, Sebastian and the seagull turned in great performances.  All in all, an enjoyable performance.

It is raining today so I am staying in until time for church.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Nailed It!

With my table all set and the extra dishes and things I would eventually need pulled from their hiding places, I was in good shape Thursday morning.  All would be fine if my calculations and planning held.

We set the turkey out to come to room temperature before putting it in a hot oven for 30 minutes then turned it down to 325.  I set the timer to baste it a few times and eventually removed the foil so it would brown.  When done, we  wrapped it in foil and put it in our Yeti cooler.  It gave me time to wash the roasting pan and put it away.  In the meantime I had prepared the dressing and put it with the two potato dishes that were ready to go.  Our company arrived laden with wine, pies, cranberry salads, shrimp plus cheese and crackers.  Once the dressing and potatoes were done I put them in the electric roaster sitting on the washer to stay warm while I had Barry carve the turkey that had stayed hot and Ted roasted the red, yellow, orange and green peppers with onions.  I cheated on the green beans deciding at the last minute to get a Bob Evans container that only needed to be popped in the microwave and frozen rolls that just needed to be heated through.  Terry was getting everyone's wine glasses filled and Ted had poured the water.  It all came together on time!  Yeah!  

Everything turned out really well and the Tribute to Texas Peppers (my name for them) were a hit!  After my hot red pepper jam cream cheese spread and pico de gallo quiche at bunco, we are turning into a true Texan household.  

We cleared the tables, loaded the dishwasher and proceeded to play cards, girls in the kitchen, men in the dining room.  I didn't win!  It was going on 10:00 when everyone left.  I emptied the dishwasher and reloaded it.  Then I sat down totally whipped.

I had lots to do on Friday morning.  First up, empty the dishwasher one more time and put the stray items in.  Take one leaf out of the dining room table and put it and the pads away.  Replace all the china in the china cabinet, fill the silverware chest and return it to its hiding place and put the wine glasses up on the high shelves where Ted can reach but I can't without a stepladder.  Eventually everything was back to normal.  

Ted met Randy at the gun club to show him all that the new owners have done and I went out to get the last gifts I needed.  I ran into no crowds where I went, neither of which were a big retailer or mall and then came home.  Not bad at all out there at 1:00.  I imagine the diehards were back home sleeping on the couch by then.  We had leftovers for dinner, took the mail and a plate of food next door to Marina who had just arrived home and then took a ride to Academy because the boots Ted wanted were on sale.  I also bought two packs of children's socks for Gerre's church mission, Sock It To Me Sunday.  

Remember the little boy with the brain tumor that had a fund raiser and I won all those gift cards?  His father works for UPS and look what they gave Luke!  What a great gift for him and his twin brother to share.

When I was a little girl, in the early 50s, we always gathered at my great-grandmas at Christmas.  We each received $1 from Grandpa and 50 cents from Grandma.  They had a huge nativity set with the kings and camels a foot tall.  I always wondered what happened to it and my cousin just sent out a family letter saying his father inherited it and then it passed to him.  Due to its size they never displayed it beyond 1991, the year my Uncle Ted died, until this year.  It was brought to America by my great-great-great grandfather Henry Linfert who was born in Prussia in 1832.  I was so happy to learn it has been passed down.  

Here is the trunk I inherited from my great-grandfather on the other family side.  He came to America from Germany around 1870 or so, using this trunk to bring his belongings.  Such wonderful keepsakes from the past.  I recently took the Ancestry DNA test and there were no surprises there, I am 98% Western European.  

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving

This has been a weird week.  With Dan and Sue not coming at the last minute, but Niles still making the trip, my organization was turned upside down.  I found myself with some free time and used it to get a few things taken care of before I get back into my normal chaos.

A lot had piled up on my desk and hopefully I have taken care of it all with nothing falling through the cracks.  I have our Christmas card designed but not ordered.  For all our traveling this year we had very few good photos of us to choose from!

My closet is getting very crowded with my Christmas purchases despite leaving eight packages in Michigan.  But the shopping portion of the holidays is pretty much under control.

Saturday was a quiet day around the house doing a little laundry, going to church and then out to dinner with Terry and Carol.  Though we were with them Friday night, the seating arrangement was such that we never really talked.  We sat for a long time doing just that after dinner.

Ted had a big shoot again on Sunday morning and was gone by 7:30.  I updated all my work hours for Forum and will be ahead in required hours before we leave 1/1 for Mission.  I sent my Thanksgiving cards and wrote out my grocery list.  Now Ted does most of the grocery shopping but I on occasion run across the road to Randall's.  He wanted a fresh turkey from HEB so I went there.  I roamed around, backtracked, asked, read my list and hunted for bunco snacks and Thanksgiving dinner for two hours!  I finally found everything on my list and made it home.

He fixed some chili for dinner and I prepared my tables and dishes for bunco on Monday.  I made a quiche using pico de gallo instead of broccoli in it. The gals loved it. I bought a package of apple slices that turned out to be very tasty.  I coupled it with a carmel dip.  A block of cream cheese covered in hot red pepper jam was served with crackers and mini muffins (from HEB) rounded out the menu.  There were candies and peanuts on the tables.  Coffee, iced tea, fresh squeezed OJ, soft drinks and water were drinks.  Having all that done made my Monday morning easy.

Ted left for Dallas so after bunco I had the day to myself,  I put the tables back in order taking the card table and chairs back out to the garage.  I added the extra leaf to the dining room table and put the freshly laundered tablecloth on.  Since Ted was gone I had to put both the recycling and garbage out.   I ran the dishwasher, did a load of laundry and once it was put away, I put my feet up for the rest of the day.

Wednesday I set the table for Thanksgiving using my pumpkin arrangement as a centerpiece.  Then Carol stopped by with a cornucopia of flowers for the table so I moved the pumpkin to the kitchen table.  When Ted came home he said Kara was sending flowers!  She was able to change the order to be delivered in December as a Christmas arrangement.  By then I had everything in order, the last load of laundry done and all the dishes out I would need on Wednesday when I started cooking.

We had dinner and watched the DWTS finale.  I was so happy the gymnast won but the race driver was equally deserving.  

On Wedneaday Ted got up earlier than usual to put the turkey in brine.  I had set the table and once he got out of the kitchen I made the mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes, ready for the oven on Thursday.  We didn't do much else for the evening but eat a bit of dinner and watch TV.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

A Texas Win!

Ted went shooting early Sunday and I made the individual cherry cheesecakes for the tailgating party.  We made it to Gerre's way before half time so Ted was able to see almost the whole game.  I, on the other hand, did more visiting than anything else.  

Food, food and more food.  There were remnants of lots of appetizers and at half time there was baked ziti, salad and garlic bread.  There were two cakes, a plate of cookies and my cheesecakes for dessert.  No one went home hungry.  And the Texans won!

As soon as the game is over, everyone picks up their stuff and heads out.  We stayed an extra hour since we really didn't get to visit with Barry and Gerre.  I informed Barry he had been nominated and elected to once again carve our Thanksgiving turkey.  I hope mine is at least half as good as his was last year.

We arrived home and Marina came over from next door to give us her garage opener so we can put her garbage can away.  She picked up the mail we had for her and gave us her next return date.  She sure is traveling a lot for her job but we love helping her out.

On Monday nothing happened.  Really!

Tuesday, after Isabelle cleaned (whew!), Niles arrived.  We visited for a bit, then took a ride around the area and eventually went to dinner.  When we returned I prepared a French toast casserole for breakfast the next morning.  By 10:00 Niles and I each retired for the evening but Ted came to bed later.  I fell right to sleep and got a goodnight's sleep.  

I was up early since I went to bed so early and I was dressed and ready to start breakfast when the fellows were ready.  We had a nice meal and Ted gathered his clothes, guns, coolers, etc. to get ready.  At 1:00 they took off.  They were stopping in Huntsville before heading to somewhere around Madisonville.

I just whiled away the day since I had no idea when they would return.  It was about 2 a.m. when they rolled in.  I had been in bed for several hours.  Niles shot a 120# pig and it was cleaned and quartered at the ranch.  We lent him our old Coleman cooler to take it home.  Ted didn't see a hog while sitting in the blind but almost hit one on the road when they left.

I made breakfast again and Niles headed back to the valley.  He eventually sent an email that he had arrived home safely.  Since I needed to be at Avril's to play cards at 12:30 I immediately started getting ready.  I came in 3rd due to Linda's constantly having 2-3 wild cards in every hand!  There was just no stopping her.  Ted had defrosted the meatballs and sauce for dinner and besides eating and going through the mail I didn't do much else.  

I was up very early Friday to bake a quiche to take to a Forum meeting and used the time to strip the guest room bed and get that laundry started.  I enjoyed the meeting and found out I was nominated for Volunteer of the Month for an "act of kindness" I did at the Thrift Shop.  I was flattered.  It is such a great group of women and I enjoy working and socializing with them immensely.  

For dinner we met old friends who moved to Atlanta six years ago but returned for a memorial service for a friend of theirs.  

There were six couples and we had such a great time catching up on family and life in general.  

It was great to see them but hate the reason they came back.  Unfortunately we are heading into that time of life where illness and death are going to rear their ugly heads more than we care to admit.

Next week will be busy again.  I have bunco here Monday, Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday.  There are lots of other things for the holidays I need to get started on soon.  As the old TV. show used to say "Like grains of sand through the hourglass, these are the days of our lives,"

Friday, November 4, 2016

Planning For Our Visitors - NOT

I started this blog a few days ago and since that time my brother has developed shingles and they are unable to come.  Niles is still coming.  ☹️

My brother and his wife will be here next weekend!  We have lived here 15+ years and they have never made it down.  What is the draw this time?  New guns and a scheduled hog hunt.  We have huge, ugly wild pigs that there is open season on all year and no tag needed because they are so destructive.  Niles, from Retama, is coming up from the valley and they all three are really looking forward to it.

Today I wrote out a loose plan for our time over the week and what I need to have in the house for meals.  We will be on the go so I will do some cooking and freezing for easy preparation while they are here.

Then I did errands and shopping and Ted decided to go with me.  Our first stop was the post office to mail the box containing the Christmas dresses.  Then on to Charming Charlie's with my latest coupon.  Armed with more coupons and some Kohl's dollars from my bath gift shopping in Michigan, we headed there.  I bought a gift that was originally $52, was on sale, then I received 10% plus $10 off using my Retail Me Not app plus $10 off with my Kohl's dollars.  Final cost $5.82!  I love bargains!  Ted decided we should eat lunch at Willie's Ice House.  Who am I to object?  So I didn't!

Saturday I drove to Gerre's so we could go to a holiday craft fair.  We didn't find anything to buy.  It was very, very crowded and strollers and wagons didn't help the matter.  So we went to lunch!  It was mid afternoon when I returned and I prepared our envelopes for church but not much else.

We visited with Terry and Carol for a bit after church and then we drove to Applebee's for dinner because we had a gift card with about $15 left on it.  We figured out the last time we used it was last December in Kingsville on our way to the valley.  We came home to watch Ohio State on TV. 

Sunday Ted had a huge Sporting Clays Tournament to help run.  There were over 100 shooters so he was gone all day.  I had another $25 from Kohl's (not sure why) so I did a little more bargain shopping. I bought gifts for our church giving tree and for the Forum Christmas giving tree.  I also got a gift for a family member and a decoration for the house.  Everything was on sale.  The clerk took off the $25 and the $10 plus 10% from my Retail Me Not app for a total of $46 due for four items!  I seldom shop at Kohl's except for linens and housewares but I can see why they draw the crowds.

Monday was laundry day and the cable guy came to program our new remotes.  They were here to update our boxes recently to HD because they said we had to.  But the remote wouldn't do anything except turn the TV off and on.  I needed our surround sound remote to turn the sound on and adjust volume.  I knew something was wrong.  This guy fixed it and helped us figure out how to play a DVD.  All this technology!  I went to the nail salon in the afternoon to get that out of the way.

We were up until 2.30 am Wednesday morning watching the election results.  I hope we can all come together and continue to make America a stronghold in the world with prosperity for all who pursue it.  

Wow!  Since I last wrote that on Wednesday our cities are being turned into war zones.  Where are the Democratic leaders who should be addressing these actions with their followers.  I was certainly unhappy in 2008 and 2012, as were many, but we didn't destroy anything.  

Wednesday Cindi turned me into a blonde!  She was just going to give me some highlights.  I will let you know if I have more fun.

Thursday was our neighborhood lunch.  The men had theirs the day before.  Gail was readmitted to MD Anderson because her leg surgery site became infected.  She sent cupcakes for the birthday celebrants and we wanted to send her a photo of our group getting ready to enjoy them.  I had been to the doctor for my six month bloodwork earlier.  He said I am in great shape for someone my age but if I get sick this winter to come right in.  Apparently my ability to fight off illness diminishes as I age!

I was out of the house at 7:30 on Friday to work the Children's Festival at our big entertainment venue.  Title One schools are bussed in before the weekend to enjoy what is offered.  I was partnered with two others and we were responsible for directing six bus loads of over 250 children along with their teachers.  First they went to a large building where the zoo, natural science museum, Microsoft and a few others had presentations.  We had two schools mixing and the teachers were freaking out trying to keep their classes together.  

The second time period was for a stage show in the pavilion.  I rolled my papers up and held them above my head so they could see to follow me.  There are about 3,000 kids in all so this isn't as easy as it sounds.  I showed the teachers on the diagram where they would be sitting.  I don't know why this info isn't shared with them.  I'm sure they feel helpless while being shuffled around.  One little boy asked if I was a policeman!!

This group was unable to stay for the third activity because their buses needed to get back for after school runs.  We spent a lot of stop and go movement while lines crisscrossed.  But we didn't lose a kid or put them on the wrong bus! 

I was exhausted when I got home. Ted had been helping with installing new throwers into the skeet houses at the gun club and he was equally bushed.  We baked a pizza for dinner then crashed on our couches.  We then received a text asking if we were OK and where were we.  We had received a party invitation when I was in Michigan.  I asked Ted to check the calendar, he said we were free, I RSVPd but Ted didn't write it on the calendar.  Ten days later when I came home it was nowhere on my radar.  I was planning for company for a week.  Oops!  I was terribly embarrassed but the hosts were understanding. 

This morning I met Gerre and Rhonda for breakfast at Cracker Barrel and we then went to a Nutcracker Market.  I bought a Christmas swag for the front door and some pumpkins and things to put on the dining room table.  We went to church and then to the grocery.  We are invited to Gerre's for their neighborhood group Texas football TV watching.  I am taking a dessert because we won't get there until close to half time after Ted gets done shooting.  

We went to church then to the grocery to get things for my cheesecakes I am making for tomorrow.  We grabbed a sandwich and then came home for the evening.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Back in the Swing

Judy and I had a bit of difficulty on Tuesday!  We arranged to meet in the church parking lot not realizing the school children would be getting dropped off which sets up a one-way traffic pattern and the Seniors were gathering in the small parking area left open for their bus.  I have no idea where they were going on their day trip.  We finally got together after moving orange cones for me and Judy getting in the kids' line twice!  We proceeded south, talking all the way.  Eventually Judy said "where are we going?"  I thought for a moment and then realized I was on auto pilot and was heading to the CWJF office instead of Good Shepherd Episcopalian Church!  We backtracked a few minutes and were on the right road and arrived in time.

Once there we gathered up our grapes, bingo prizes and purses and Judy couldn't find her name tag. She had dropped a book when getting in the car and we thought maybe she had dropped it.  Later on she had her tag on and said it was in her pocket!  We had a good laugh.  She wanted to pay me for gas but I told her I might still be out there roaming around mindlessly if she wasn't along.

Tuesday's theme was "gone fishin'" and after bingo and entertainment, a box lunch was served.  

Table 20, my table.

Entertainment was the Sowell Family and they are one of the favorite acts.  They received a standing ovation.

My thought when I saw all these walkers lined up was "Gentlemen, start your engines."

Once we had everything all cleaned up, we headed home with no detours.  Ted came home from Beaumont right after me.  Our neighbor came over to get her mail and gave us instructions as to what she was waiting for since she was leaving again for her job.  

We decided to eat at Chik Fil A before church.  We ran into Gordon, our handyman, on the way in to the restaurant.  He is making a cover for our water main in the garage wall.  Mass was at 7 pm for All Saints Day and the parking lot was more crowded than on Saturday or Sunday.  We ran into Colleen on the way out.  I do enjoy meeting people we know about town.  

I didn't do much Wednesday except clear my desk of a few things and make lemon squares for a funeral on Thursday.  I can't help at the luncheon because I am scheduled to work at the Thrift Shop.  My volunteering is affecting my volunteering!

My betting pool person on Survivor got voted off!  She was a great player and won immunities for her team.  But they got paranoid because she would be a threat in individual immunities so out she went!  I am bummed!  We watched some of Game 7 of the World Series (Congratulations, Cubs) interspersed with song clips from the CMA awards.  I thought it a shame that BeyoncĂ© forgot to wear her slip.  The poor thing must have been terribly embarrassed.  NOT!  

I was up early Thursday to work at the Thrift Shop.  On my way there I dropped off the lemon squares at church.  The parking lot at the store was full and the store was jammed.  Wednesday night was Christmas Changeover and the folks were out in force shopping.  

Empty shelves awaiting their Christmas items on Wednesday night.

The crew that worked the Changeover

The finished results.

Our job Thursday was to empty the remaining bins that were locked in dressing room 4 because there was no place to put any more out Wednesday night.  The way things were flying off the shelf there was no problem for us to refill the empty spots. We had young men from a church group that brought the heavy containers to us and took the empty ones away to be stored.  All through the year, Christmas items are examined, priced and stored waiting for the Changeover.  

Everyone started a box for themselves because there were some real buys. I got a great present for my friend for her collection, but I can't say what.  I bought Ted two heavy duty extension cords just because they come in handy, I bought my daughter something she will flip over, a few Christmas picks to stick in my green plants as a little holiday touch and Christmas dresses and PJs for Lily and the twins.

I sent these photos to Sarah and she was pleased.  She is an OB nurse so when she is finished with the clothes they go to our other niece Jemma and then to anyone Sarah thinks can use them.  I buy all the new with tags baby clothes so she can offer them to new mothers that have little.  And the shop makes money to help those down on their luck in our own area.

I came home and ate the salad Ted made me.  He was shooting sporting clays in the afternoon so I boxed up the girls' things and will take it to the post office.  Then I plopped on the couch for a little rest.