Friday, January 17, 2014

Furry Friday

Welcome to Furry Friday- one of my new ideas for a recurring post 

Dan, bookended by our cats, Yoshi and Patches

Our pets are a big part of our lives. Their sweet faces and the things they do bring me so much joy. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so I don't intend for these to be wordy posts - just a furry photo or two.

Lily Rosemary, basking in the sun

And the snuggle master, the endearing Jack of Hearts

Well, maybe a few words too :)

Monday, January 13, 2014

14 Books in 2014

So, I've seen lots of people signing up for all kinds of challenges since the new year is upon us. Most of them have to do with fitness but not all.  One friend I have has christened this the year she will make more art.  That's a good one.  Other friends are trying to lose x amount of pounds or walk x amount of miles or run their first 5K.  Also admirable.  It got me to thinking.  Then I saw a few days ago:

Makes me think of a song lyric, "64 percent of all statistics are made up right there on the spot."
But seriously, that's a little scary.  And my challenge clicked into place in my mind.

I am a reader, but I will admit, I've slacked off in the last few years. Between a full time job and my family, I don't have the time for it that I used to.  Pinterest, blog reading, and other internet carousing have snuck into my limited free time as well.  I know, I know.  That can be counted as reading too.  But it's not the same as reading a book.  Most of my book reading gets done in the summer unless something comes out that I just can't wait to read and for which I am willing to sacrifice sleep.(Doctor Sleep, I am looking in your general direction.) This year I want to change that. 

My challenge is going to be to keep a list and see how long it takes me to read 14 books this year.  I picked 14 because it's 2014.  Get it?  You know you love a good gimmick.  I have never kept track of how many books I have read in a year.  The number was never really important to me.  Plus I was a repeat reader of numerous books in adolescence and young adulthood and even now sometimes in not-so-young adulthood.  I don't know if it counts if I read The Outsiders or To Kill a Mockingbird five or six times in a year. I don't really care. However, 2014 will be different.  This means no repeats (or at least if I do repeat, they don't count towards my 14) and keep a list of each book I've read this year.  I'm sure I've read more than 14 in some years of my life (I was an English major until I was a senior in college for crying out loud), but I'm wondering how long it will take me to get to this number now that I'm a little strapped for free time.  I'm also wondering how far past this number I can get.  Ah, now there's an interesting notion.

I'd like to warmly invite you to accompany me in this challenge.  I'll set up a Facebook Group and ask you to join.  If you're reading this and we're not Facebook friends but want to join, just like my blog on Facebook.  I even have a button for you to click on for this!  No need to race, no prize for first place.  Just post the title of the book you're reading or have finished and what number it is for you.  Tell us if you enjoyed what you read, if you feel like it.   Let us all know when you get to 14.  Let us know when you keep going how high your number is.  Just make the time to read, damn it!  Use that library card or Kindle!  Maybe it'll be a good place to get suggestions if you see what others are reading.  Maybe it will lead you out of your normal literary fare.  No judgments.  Read what you want.  Read what you enjoy.  I can honestly say that when I look back at my taste in my teens, I learned something from just about every book I ever read, no matter how decadent or frivolous. 

Okay, so I'm excited.  #1 for me this year is Black Heels to Tractor Wheels by Ree Drummond, courtesy of my local library. Loved it.  It was a very enjoyable read and a better love story than I've read in some time.   And I learned stuff about horses and ranches.  Bonus!  I've already started #2, What the Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell (Again, thank you public libraries!)  What will be your #1 in 2014?  I need to stop writing this and get back to reading.  Good-bye.


Monday, January 6, 2014

Snow Day

On Sunday we were hit by a winter storm.  Everyone knew it was coming for days.  Snow, wind, extreme cold.  We were scheduled to get it all.  And we did.  Sunday morning the snow began and didn't stop until about 9:00 at night. 

I took this picture in the late morning.  It kept coming down all day.
I had stocked up on everything we needed on my regular Friday shopping trip.  We had our generator and gas to run it.  My husband brought in firewood.  We made it to Saturday mass and then hit one of our favorite local restaurants for one last outing before Snowmageddon hit on Sunday.

This is at one of our local restaurants, The Wharf.  They have some seriously delicious food plus an awesome atmosphere for a cold night.
 The only thing left to do was sit out a bowl to catch snow for some snow ice cream.
I seriously was so looking forward to a day snowed in with my family.  We had extended family time while my husband and I were off for Christmas break, but there's something about knowing you'll all be together, cozy and relaxed, while the storm rages outside.  That's the definition of what a home should be for me.  It's a place of respite from the crazy world we live in, a place where you have total acceptance, a place where you can indulge in your favorite pastimes.  This is especially true on a snow day because you can't be tempted to run out to do errands or take care of other distractions outside the home.  We need more of this in the world today.  At least I do.
This Sunday consisted of  blankets, a Scooby Doo movie, pajamas, the kids playing together with a Christmas present my daughter had yet to open, roasted chicken, lots of Pinterest, and a rescreening of past seasons of Justified.  We did make snow ice cream.  Super easy.  A bowl of clean snow, a can of condensed milk, a little vanilla.  Oh, and it doesn't hurt to have some toppings on hand.

Technically it wasn't a Snow Day, because it was a Sunday.  School was not called off.  But how great would it be if all Sundays were like this?  I'm often stressed out on Sunday night thinking about Monday, getting lesson plans and lunches ready, looking at the schedule for the coming week.  But lucky me, I wasn't scheduled to be back at work until Wednesday, and my kids did get an official Snow Day from school on Monday.  So no stress, just reveling in Sunday at home - the perfect Snow Day.

New Year

We had a wonderful Christmas.  We host Christmas Eve at our house.  It's a lot of work: the cooking, cleaning, arranging, last minute prep.  Add in that we always attend 4:00 Mass because our daughter sings in the choir.  We have to be there at 3:30 if we want to sit down.  And I prefer sitting down.   Apparently there are three times as many Catholics on Christmas Eve and Easter.  But it's worth it.  On Christmas Day, we open Santa's presents, eat cinnamon rolls for breakfast, and warm up leftovers for lunch. The kids spend the morning playing with their new toys.  No one comes over, and we don't go anywhere.

It's heaven.

Later in the evening, we went to see Frozen.  We all loved it.  We also went to the movies on Christmas evening last year (Rise of the Guardians).  I'm thinking this is going to become a tradition.

New Year's Eve is spent at home with our kids.  I like to make it a little special, so we have an all appetizer dinner.  Shrimp cocktail, vegetable pizza, sour dough bread with dill dip, and Shirley Temples.  Now you're talking.

We played about ten games of Uno too.  We like to live dangerously around here.  The kids got to stay up until midnight.

I've been thinking a lot about the New Year.  My mind is all over the place lately.  I don't make resolutions anymore.  I do need to write down some ideas about the direction I'm going to try to travel in for 2014.  The roads you take can lead to some interesting places, some intended and some not.  Either way, if you don't occasionally look at the map and your route on it, you're probably not going to end up anywhere near where you wanted to be.  You end up looking around in confusion thinking, "How did this happen?"  Here's to planning the trip and the intended destinations and unexpected detours along the way.