Monday, December 31, 2007

2007: The Year In Review

It's hard to believe this is the last day of 2007! It's been quite a year . . .

2007 started out with us involved in a hassle with AmerenIP over damage they caused us after hooking our power up wrong after the ice storm in December 2006. We were sending packets of information to Ameren, their Claims company, the Lt. Governor, and every legislator I could think of. Eventually, thanks to pressure from the right legislative offices, they paid our claim.

March found me in a new job at the College, in a completely different type of work than I had ever done before. After nearly 30 years in the Administrative Clerical field, I went into Information Technology. My job now consists of supervising a Help Desk for online students, presenting Orientations and workshops for online students and faculty, and many, many other things involved with online learning. Quite challenging, to say the least.

Other things at work (aside from my new job) became very challenging, to the point where I actually found myself considering submitting my resignation. Yes, things got that bad. But instead, I decided to step back, take a deep breath, and stand up for myself. Part of the situation has been resolved, but a lot has not. My stance at the moment is just to "wait and see" what develops, in part because I have nearly 20 years built up in my retirement, and don't want to have to start over at "square one" going somewhere. Time will tell . . .

Our nephew, Travis, got married this summer. Dear Hubby and I got to travel to the Northern part of the state to attend the wedding. While up there, we had the chance to spend a lot of time with friends of ours who made the trip from St. Louis. It was fun being able to connect with them again. In fact, 2007 gave us many opportunities to spend time with dear friends. They are dear, true friends, and we have developed a support network in which we are there for each other. Steve and I are truly blessed with having some really special people in our lives.

In October, I made a 'road trip' to Peoria to the Women's Lifestyle Show, where I was able to meet a person who is a wonderful writer, and one of my personal favorite bloggers, Laurie Perry (Crazy Aunt Purl). She was on a book tour, promoting her book "Drunk, Divorced and Covered in Cat Hair" - - a fabulous read. The book tells her story about how she survived her husband leaving her, and her transition into single life and dating. Knitting was her salvation, and she attacked it with a vengeance; in fact, I'm surprised one of her four cats didn't get caught up in one of her projects!

Near the end of the year, we lost our dear little fur-baby, Callie. I cannot say any more about this; every time I try to talk about her, or think about her, the tears start up again. So enough about this . . .

Throughout the year we have been trying to get our other house sold (see my other blog here). With the market being in such bad shape, it's been difficult. But Dear Hubby and I will keep trying to do our best and try to remain positive.

Here's to 2007 - - and may 2008 be a happy and healthy year for all of us.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Party Time

We hosted our annual Holiday Party for the gang yesterday evening, and as usual, it was a success!

Jerry came over from Springfield, Curt and Judy, Cindy, and Paul came also. Jan had a conflict, so could not be there this year (and YES, she does know what she was missing!).

Since I am on Holiday Break this week and most of the others were working, I had supper all ready when then came over - - homemade Veggie Beef Soup, Sweet-n-Sour Meatballs (I used Chili Sauce and Cranberry Sauce to flavor them), and a new recipe - - Brie filled with seedless raspberry preserves, wrapped in a sheet of puff pastry and baked. I also had lots of leftover Key Lime Fudge and Peanut Butter Fudge. Cindy brought her "World Famous Chocolate Chip Cookies, and Curt and Judy brought goodies also. But the kicker was - - Paul's Bourbon Balls, made by him and his sister, with some really fine Kentucky Bourbon in the mix. (They make your eyes water, but - - YUM!).

After food and good conversation and our gift exchange (including Jerry's "Mess With Your Heads" gift game!), we opened a bottle of wine and toasted the upcoming New Year.

It was a good time with good friends. Steve and I are so lucky to be blessed with friends such as they - - very blessed indeed.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

We Survived Christmas! *Whew*

The Holidays were hectic, but it was worth it!

There was lots of fun, good food, good people, and the kids were wild!

The Orange Sour Cream Cake was a hit, as were the Key Lime Fudge and Peanut Butter Fudge at Dear Hubby's family gathering. I also made a pan of browning with Marshmallow Creme topping for the kids (they almost taste like a S'More).

The Lasagna was a big hit with my family on Monday! I left a couple of containers with Dad for meals this week, and sent the rest of it home with my son and his family.

The kids got lots of neat presents, and they were wound up beyond belief; but the Holidays do that to little ones, don't they?

Dear Hubby went back to work today, and I am off work until January 2nd. But, it's not like I don't have anything to do - - there is cooking and cleaning the house for our Annual Holiday Party with the gang this Friday. Since everyone else is working and I'm off, I'm treating them to homemade Beef Veggie Soup, Sweet-n-Sour Meatballs, Baked Brie with Seedless Raspberry Preserves in Puff Pastry, Summer Sausage and crackers, and of course Key Lime Fudge and Peanut Butter Fudge! I'm looking forward to getting together with the gang - - we don't see each other enough, and have so much fun when we finally get the chance.

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Countdown To the Holidays

Today has been a crazy one, and it's not looking to slow down anytime soon!

Dear Hubby's family Christmas get-together is tomorrow evening (Sunday), and my family gathering is Monday evening. Lots of things to prepare for each . . .

I am bringing dessert items to Steve's family tomorrow - - the Orange Sour Cream Cake is baked and cooling, and tomorrow it will get its Vanilla Pudding/Cool Whip/Mandarin Orange topping. The Key Lime Fudge is made and cooling, and will be cut up tomorrow. Next on the list is Peanut Butter Fudge, which will also cool overnight and get cut into squares tomorrow morning.

The Key Lime Fudge is YUMMY, by the way . . . I got the recipe from a coworker, after she brought it into work and I absolutely raved about it! (The Peanut Butter Fudge is awesome also . . . YUM!)

Tomorrow morning I also need to prepare a large pot of spaghetti sauce, and prepare meat filling with Italian seasonings. I have decided to follow our family's Holiday tradition and make my Dad Lasagna! I'm using my Mom's sauce recipe, so of course it has to cook slowly all day, and then cool overnight to let the flavors blend. Monday morning I will build the lasagna and have it ready to take down to Dad's and bake in his oven. We will also have Sweet Italian Garlic Bread, and salad. My son and his family are bringing a cake, and Dad has a pumpkin pie for us to bake. It's been ages since I've made Lasagna, and I'm looking forward to it.

Tuesday I plan to SLEEP . . . as if the kitty-babies will let that happen? We'll see . . .

I hope everyone has a wonderful, blessed Holiday! Spend time with your loved ones. Give your sweetie an extra kiss under the mistletoe (Hubby and I are about to wear our mistletoe out! ) Enjoy the season and all that it means - - love, togetherness, peace.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Finally - - Stage Three!

The presents are all wrapped and under the tree, which, by the way, is STILL STANDING! After just a couple of minor incidents, the furbabies have decided they have better things to do than mess with the tree. In fact, Dear Squeak has decided she likes laying under the tree, where the heat vent points out towards the tree, and take a nap. I do believe we could put a bow on her and she would just blend right in with the rest of the packages!

So here we are - - Stage Three:

Photobucket

Nothing left to do now but sit there in the loveseat, hot mug of tea in hand, nice warm kittycat on my lap, and snuggle up with Dear Hubby and enjoy! And with my Holiday Break starting after work tomorrow, and not having to go back until January 2nd, there will be plenty of time to do just that!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Christmas Tree, Stage Two: Uh-Ohhhhh . . .

I was home all weekend.

Furbabies never ever paid a bit of attention to the tree. All day long, they acted as if there was nothing out of the ordinary in that corner of the sunroom.

"Nope, Mom, we don't see anything over there in that corner. Not a thing. You can relax!"

Uh-huh.

Today we go to work . . .

Instead of coming home at lunchtime as I usually do, we had a Holiday luncheon in my Division, so I stayed on Campus.

When Dear Hubby got home this afternoon, this is what he found:


The best we can figure is that the new little girl, who LOVES to be up high, and who LOVES to jump, launched herself from either the loveseat or the window bench into the tree.

Steve reprimanded both of them (oh yeah, I am SO sure they listened to him, and they have learned their lesson) and put the branches back in where they belonged.

I am determined to have my tree up this year, in spite of the little furry terrorists roaming the rooms of my home.

However, in the spirit of compromise, we have decided that the tree will have lights and garland (up from the bottom row of branches, of course!) but no ornaments except for some jingle bells along the bottom branches (that's our 'alarm system'!).

We also moved the loveseat back, and removed the bench from in front of the window . . . at least we have taken care of TWO of her launching points!

So, here we are - - Stage Two - - White Christmas Tree with blue lights and blue garland:

Stage Three will be adding the topper (I'm still looking for a blue one) and the tree skirt, and then piling packages underneath. We have also decided against putting bows on the packages until just before we take them somewhere - - Carmichael has a SERIOUS ribbon fetish, and our packages often arrive with bows filled with teeth marks . . . *sigh*


Sunday, December 09, 2007

Christmas Tree - Stage One

It's time - - actually, way PAST time for my liking - - to put up the Christmas Tree.

In past years, we have not had much problem with the fur-babies and the tree. We knew how each one of them would act - - Callie would just lay under the tree, among the packages, and nap. In fact, if we had stuck a bow on her head, she would have blended right in with the rest of the packages! Carmichael's main problem was that his tail is so long, he kept brushing it up along the bottom branches and knockin goff ornaments. That problem was solved by moving them all up to the nex layer of branches. (Actually, I have some jingle bells that we hang on the bottom branches - - just to mess with his little kitty-head . . . yes, we are five.)

However, now that Callie is gone and we have this new little kitty-girl Squeak (formerly named Destiny) in our lives, it is anybody's guess how she will react to the tree. So, we have decided to put it up in stages.

Stage One:
Yes, I have a white tree - - wanted one for years, and finally got it last year!

Stage One is just the tree itself, with no lights, garland, ornaments, anything. Squeak showed a bit of interest at first, and had to be reprimanded a couple of times, but she is now not evey paying any attention to it.

Stage Two will be next - - either this evening or tomorrow after work. We will attempt to string the lights and add some garland, and see how that goes!

Wish us luck . . .

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Great White Hunter

Well, another deer-hunting season is pretty well wrapped up for Dear Hubby and the rest of his hunting buddies. He had a very successful year - - had 3 tags, and filled them all. Yup, 3 deer.

Now I know a lot of people out there are totally against hunting, and under certain circumstances, I am also. I am totally against anyone who hunts strictly for the "trophy" head to hang on the wall, and lets the meat go to waste. But here are the facts for Hubby's situation:

He and his brother hunt every year on the same land that has been in their family for many generations. They spent a lot of time during their growing-up years on that land, and know every rock, tree, and shrub on it. His grandpa farmed it and raised cattle, and always had meat to feed the families.

Hubby's grandpa is gone now, but Hubby and brother still spend deer-hunting season on that same land 'grocery shopping' to feed their families. It has filled our freezers for the past 17 years with very good meat.

This year he got more deer than he usually does. Did we need 3 deer to feed the 2 of us? No. What did we do with the extra? Well, we donated A LOT of it to the Food Pantry of which my Dad is President of the Board. That will go a long way to help out some needy people who might be without otherwise.

Hubby feels really good about being able to continue to help feed his family from the same land that has done so for so many years, and we both feel good about being able to help others less fortunate.

I'm very proud of my "Great White Hunter" - - and I hope we can continue to eat good and also help out others for many more years.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

WHY I HATE WINTER . . .

Scenes from the 2006 Ice Storm, one year ago:













Any questions? (I didn't think so!)

"Deja Vu All Over Again" - - Hopefully NOT!

SO - - this morning around 9:00 AM, it started . . . sleet, mixed with some drizzle. I left campus about 9:15, and decided to get to Walmart to pick up a couple of items before heading home, in case the weather turned as nasty as they were predicting.

By the time I left Walmart and headed for the (usually) 5-minute drive home, their parking lot was an ice-skating rink. So were the streets.

Uh-oh - - this doesn't look good.

As all of crawled slowly down the streets, I saw quite a few accidents that had already occurred due to the slick conditions. People were sliding around like crazy . . . there was no traction to be had anywhere.

But if I thought THAT was bad - - I was totally unprepared for the condition of MY road! Since it is consider a country road, it is "crowned" in the middle, and drops off a bit on both sides for water drainage. This crown also made the Jeep want to keep sliding to the edge of the road, and was a VERY uncomfortable feeling! I was traveling around 25 MPH for the mile outside of town where we live. When I reached home, I slowed to almost a total stop, and slowly turned left into the drive. Even a near stop was too fast for these conditions, and I almost slid off the drive into the yard. Fortunately, I was able to stay on the asphalt, but was almost sideways as the Jeep slid down the drive towards the garage.

I am now inside, with a hot mug of tea by my side and a nice warm cat in my lap . . . and I intend to stay here for the duration!

I hate winter . . . :-(