Sunday, December 31, 2017

Life: It Goes On - December 31

Well, this has been quite a year, filled with the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. I'm tired of getting angry every time I turn on the television or open the internet. I'm tired of reading slumps and I miss blogging but I can't make myself focus on it. In 2018, I want to take my life back. I want to make time for things that are important, I want to find a way to fight that doesn't overwhelm everything else in my life, I want to have time to count my blessings. Christmas time is always a good time to remind myself about all of the blessings in my life. I have enjoyed having a lot of time off work lately to recharge and relax. Now I'm ready to say goodbye to 2017 and look forward to a new year!

This Week I'm:

Listening To: I've been listening to a lot of NPR lately. Even though it means hearing the news, it also means I'm learning a lot and hearing a lot of interesting stories. I think, though, it's time to start a new audiobook. Not sure which one yet, though.

Watching: Football, "Elf," "You've Got Mail," "Kate and Leopold." Why, yes, The Big Guy humored me and watched not one but two "girlie" movies with me this week!

Reading: Guys! I am loving the writing in Far From The Madding Crowd! I'm not going to get it finished by the end of the year but I'm so glad the Classics Club gave me the push I needed to get back  to the classics.

Making: We have seriously been eating a lot of leftovers this week. We made a ham for Christmas and had several meals off of that, including cooking the bone into ham and bean soup.

Planning: Forty Bags In Forty Days starts again February 14 and I am already formulating a plan of attack for this year. BG has agreed that he is really going to work on getting rid of things this year so I may be able to tackle some areas that I haven't been able to do much about in the past.

Thinking About: What I'm going to do in the coming year politically. I need to become more active in a more productive way.

Enjoying: Another long weekend.

Feeling: Like I need to schedule a few days off in the next few months to help me make it through the winter.

Looking forward to: The Fourth of July. Yes, you read that right. I've got another great-niece or great-nephew due that day and I already can hardly wait to meet this new little person!

Question of the week: Are you choosing a word of the year for 2018? Have you given any thought to what your first book of the year will be?

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Life: It Goes On - December 24

In an effort to try to get back on track, I'm writing again, even though it's only been a few days since I've done one of these posts.  I've absolutely loved having these past few days off work. I've had time to help the kids finish up their shopping, make some yummy meals, put my house in order and catch up laundry, and find lots of "me" time. I even got lucky and missed the first wintery weather commute!

This Week I'm:

Listening To: I'm still adding new Christmas music to my playlist. And taking some off as well, because I tried some newer versions of old favorites that I really did not love.

Watching: The Nightmare Before Christmas as I type this. I've mostly had the television off while I've been off work but when it's on, I've been trying to watch things that put me in the mood for the holidays. Pretty cranky that I haven't been able to find The Family Stone yet.

Reading: I'm finishing Pachinko today and am glad I won't have any time to start something new for a day or so so that I can just roll it around in my brain for a bit.

Making: Lasagna, pizzas, taco soup; we've dipped pretzels and then I used the rest of those ingredients to make pretzel/peppermint almond bark and peppermint almond bark.

Planning: A New Year's Eve potluck dinner and game night.
Grandma Shep and Miss H

Thinking About: The Big Guy's mom, the originally Mama Shep. I always miss her even more this time of year.

Enjoying: Being relaxed, for a change, at Christmas.

Feeling: Ready for 2018. We've had the highest of highs this year but also some pretty deep lows and I'm ready to put those behind us and look to the future.

Looking forward to: Going to Christmas Eve services tonight and hearing "Silent Night" sung in German during the candlelight portion of the service.

Question of the week: What is your favorite thing about Christmas (if you celebrate)?

Friday, December 22, 2017

A Month of Faves: Reppin' The Holidays

I've come to dread bringing out the Christmas decorations. It's so much work and no matter how much I think I'm cutting back, it can still seem overwhelming. And it never looks like one of the lovely homes in magazines or even on Pinterest.

Still, bringing out the Christmas decorations is also bringing out memories. Here are a few of the ornaments on our tree that make me happy.

From left to right, top to bottom:
One of the first decorations my parents had on their Christmas trees which was given to me as part of a shower present when we got married; the bride and groom were given to us by dear family friends the first Christmas after we were married; the Empire State building commemorates our honeymoon that included a stop in New York City; Mr. Jeremy Fisher who is one of the hundreds of frogs I've collected in my life; a Danish paper ornament represents my Danish heritage; one of the Santa collection my boys have been given over the years; one of the angel ornaments Miss H has been given at Christmas's past; and, finally, each of the kids has a wooden candy cane which are always some of the first ornaments on the tree.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Life: It Goes On - December 21

Apparently life is going on to such an extent that I can't even find time to blog right now. Or read much, for that matter. I have a few days off this week to finish up shopping, get last-minute shipping done, wrap and get food ready. When I scheduled these days off, way back in January, I did it to make sure I had time for just those kinds of things. It was also with the hope that I would have enough time to get things caught up around the house and to have some "me" time. Surprisingly, I have found that I have time for both of those things. I will finally finish a book this week!

This Week I'm:

Listening To: Christmas music, of course! I've spent some time the past couple of weeks making a playlist that includes classics, new versions of classic songs, and new music. With over 3 hours of music on it, I'm still surprised by how often certain songs appear when it's on shuffle play. Even thought it's on my playlist, I still can't listen to Andy Williams' "It's The Most Wonderful Time of the Year" without thinking of the SNL skit with Will Farrell on the turntable!

Watching: Last weekend was all about volleyball and the Nebraska women's team surprising everyone, except themselves, by winning the national championship. We went out to watch the championship match so we could celebrate with like-minded people. Also, this week watched the finale of this season's The Voice. Can't argue with the winner but I thought, in the finals, Brooke was the winner.

Reading: Ti, of Book Chatter, posted about what she'll be reading for her final book of 2017. We bloggers like to focus on what we'll read to start a new year; but Ti suggests that how we end the year is just as important. I still need to read Thomas Hardy's Far From The Madding Crowd for the Classics Club by the end of the year and it actually seems like the perfect choice as my last book of the year, as it will point me in the direction of reading more classics again in the coming year.

Making: The Big Guy, Mini-him, Miss H and I Facetime'd with Mini-me and Mrs. S. on Sunday to frost Christmas cookies "together." It's not the same as having everyone around the table together but it's not a bad alternative. Today I'll be making taco soup to take to my parents' for Christmas Eve supper; we have our big meal at noon and then do soups at supper so it's easier to work supper around church services. I also spent a lot of hours the past week putting together Christmas presents but I can't talk about that just yet because, ya know, they're presents.

Planning: Working on plans for New Year's Eve; but, other than that, I'm trying not to plan too much just now so that I can live in the moment through the holidays.

Thinking About: How much we're going to miss having all of the family together this year. On my side, we've been very lucky for a long time and been able to have almost everyone together at Christmas. This year, there will only be about half of us. There will be no chaos, which is both a good and bad thing.

Enjoying: These few days before the holiday weekend to relax, have some quiet time, and finish things up without racing around. For the first time in a long time (maybe ever?), I think I'll head into the celebrations rested.

My actual laundry baskets are not
this nice!
Feeling: Accomplished. I don't know how I got so far behind on laundry but it took me all day yesterday to wash, dry, fold and hang what I swear must have been every clothing item the three of us own. It's the little joys in life, isn't it?

Looking forward to: Being with family! And finding out what's in the giant box Mini-me and Mrs. S sent for me. Seriously, I've been like a little kid wondering about that box!

Question of the week: If you don't celebrate Christmas, how do you enjoy having some time off this time of year while the rest of us are running ourselves ragged? For those of you who celebrate Christmas but won't get to be with family, how do you make it still feel special?

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Life: It Goes On - December 10

What a quiet week it's been. I wasn't feeling well for much of the week; just a cold and it wasn't the worst cold I've ever had by any means, but I just felt out of it much of the week. I did have dinner with a friend Tuesday night that ended with me getting home at 10:30!

I finished the Christmas decorating on Monday; the Christmas cards are, finally, ordered and will go out in the mail this week; and the shopping is almost finished. Still, I can hardly believe that it will be Christmas Eve two weeks from today!

This Week I'm:

Listening To: Mostly music, a lot of which is from my Spotify play list. It's helping me to be in the holiday mood.

Watching: I stayed up until after two last night (this morning?!) just so I could watch It's A Wonderful Life. It doesn't feel like Christmas until I've watched it and I haven't caught it the past couple of years.

Reading: Not much, I'm afraid to say. Hence, no book reviews this past week. I'll finish The Wife, The Maid, And The Mistress for book club this week and then I'll finally finish Pachinko. Then it's on to The Revolution of Marina M by Janet Fitch which I'm reading with a friend. At 800+ pages, it'll likely be the last book I read of 2017.

Making: I have a pork roast in the oven and will later make chicken noodle soup for later this week. The Christmas baking is in full swing - yesterday was Oreo truffles, today is Bavarian mints and puppy chow. I'll bake cookies in a couple of days so we can FaceTime frost cookies next weekend with Mini-me and Mrs. S. That was so much fun last year; it almost felt like they were with us. Except I couldn't send Mini-me to the steps to calm down which is a tradition that goes back to the years when his brother could get him so wound up he couldn't stop laughing.

Planning: On getting the Christmas cards mailed this week, finishing the the Christmas goodies (spritz cookies and dipped pretzels are yet to be done), and finishing up the shopping for those I need to get gifts shipped of to so those can get mailed this week.

Thinking About: It's all Christmas all of the time for the next couple of weeks around here.

Enjoying: Feeling like I may have won a argument with BG. May have. It will all hinge on whether or not we can find a new rug for our family room. If we can, I get furniture rearranged that I've been wanting done for months. Marriage is all about the negotiations!

Feeling: Like I nailed it at BG's Christmas party on Friday night. It was my first party with the company he's at now and I always stress before hand about what to wear, being in a room full of people I don't know, and having to meet the boss. I wish we'd gotten a picture of the two of us - we looked good!

Looking forward to: Book club on Tuesday.

Question of the week: What are your must-have's for the holidays?

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

#AMONTHOF FAVES - This is how we read

What with the reading slump(s) and the crazy year, I haven't kept a very good record of what I've read  so far this year. Fortunately, that reading slump also means there aren't as many books to keep track of this year so I've taken a quick run through of my blog calendar to grab some quick statistics.

Total Books Read: 55
Written By Women: 43
Written By Men: 12
Fiction: 38
Nonfiction: 17
Diversity: 8
Set In Other Countries: 8
Audiobooks: 8
DNF: 3
Feminist: 4
Mystery: 7

I'm pretty happy with my fiction-to-nonfiction ratio (if I could have finished Grant, I'd be even happier with that ratio). I'm a little surprised by my female author-to-male author ratio; I know I always read a lot of books by women, but I don't think it's ever been this lopsided before. I'm down on audiobooks this year since I've spent the past several months listening to podcasts and music instead of books. Three DNFs is really big for me. Although I'm disappointed that I didn't enjoy those books more, I'm proud of myself for not pushing through them when I wasn't enjoying them. I read well more mysteries this year than I usually do; they were real saviors during my reading slump. I would like to see my diversity reading at a higher number, as well as my feminist reading (although, to be honest, I'm not entirely clear on how I'm defining a feminist book yet).

I'll finish at least four more books this year but that final number will still be well below my usual number of books read in a year. I'm pretty sure I've bought more books this year than I've read!

What have I learned from taking a look at these numbers? First of all, I HOPE I've learned to accept fewer books for review so that I can read what I'm in the mood for instead of having to read on a schedule. Secondly, I want to listen to more books; I'm thinking the library will be helpful with this (time to renew my card). Third, read more of my own damn books. Finally, read more diversely and more feminist book, and continue to increase the number of nonfiction books I read each year.

What did your reading look like this year?

Monday, December 4, 2017

#AMONTHOFFAVES - These are a few of our favorite things

Any one here surprised that on the 4th, I'm already behind on A Month of Faves? I won't keep up anyway; I never do because that requires I spend a lot of time writing posts and we all know that's not going to happen. On the other hand, I'm not going to get a lot of book reviews posted this month, either. So I might as well have something to post!

For the first, our hosts have asked that we post about some of our favorite things in 2017.

In no particular order, here are a few of mine:

Two Dots: I don't actually play that many games but this one has me addicted. To the point where it has cut into my reading. It may be time to take it off my phone.

My bullet journal: I haven't done as much creatively with it this year but I love having a planner that allows me to be entirely freestyle without boxes that I have to try to fit into. To-do lists, calendars, gift lists, party planning, some drawing, and even actual journaling. Now that I've moved to a permanent book, I'm going to be keeping these so be able to look back on in the future.

Gold Bond Healing Foot Cream; My current favorite foot cream. I had my first ever pedicure this summer and it took a whole lot of this stuff to help my heels after that.

Grace and Frankie: My favorite series this year. It's funny, touching, sad. Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin are so good. I can hardly stand the wait for the next season.

The wedding: Of course, my very favorite thing of the entire year was Mini-me's and Miss S's wedding. It was a crazy busy week, I got a little cranky sometimes, not everything went exactly as planned, and was exhausted when it was over. But it was everything the two of them wanted which is all that this mom wanted from the day they announced they were engaged.

What were some of your favorite things this year?

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Life: It Goes On - December 3

We went down to see this year's version of the above. There will be the obligatory of it later in this post. It was a beautiful evening, especially considering that it's December and I only had to wear a jacket, and the lights are beautiful so it was well worth doing. But one of the main reasons I wanted to go downtown was to help me get in the Christmas mood. It's been tough, given that it hasn't been in the least wintery...yet. I don't know who you do it in places that don't really have winter. Anyway, instead of a lovely brass ensemble playing Christmas music or even Santa with his music grinder (I kid you not, we've seen that), they had a old-time rock band playing. And not acoustically. It was very disconcerting and disappointing. So I'm just going to have to create my own festive mood as I finish decorating today. Eggnog and Nat King Cole to the rescue!

This Week I'm:

Listening To: I've been turning on my Spotify songs and just letting them shuffle play. There have been some strange juxtapositions!

Watching: Volleyball, football, The Voice, and, last night, I stayed up late to watch About A Boy.

Reading: See sidebar. Which will probably not change all week. Seems I'm in another reading slump. Or too distracted to focus on reading and too busy spending time writing, calling, and faxing my Senators and Congressman.

Making: I haven't really made anything this week. The Big  Guy's been making dinner or we've been eating out. The only meal I think I made this week was breakfast for dinner one night, including egg clouds.

Planning: On finishing the decorating and ordering Christmas cards today and getting as much shopping finished up this week as possible.

Thinking About: My week's been spent thinking about Miss H has she's been on her trip this week. I'm so knocked out by her fearlessness. She'll be home later today and I will be able to relax; but, I've enjoyed getting to travel along with her via phone and social media. She's had quite a great time.

Enjoying: The stroll through the mall in downtown Omaha and drinks with friends on Friday.

Feeling: Happy to have added a new stocking to my mantel this year for Mrs. S. I'm still trying to find a stocking hook that I like, though!

Looking forward to: Dinner and drinks with a former coworker/friend on Tuesday. NOT looking forward to BG's company's holiday party. I HATE those things!

Question of the week: What are your favorite holiday season activities?