Thursday, December 29, 2011

Week 52 - Christmas Back East

I’m writing this very late so it seems like ancient history. It was a huge week in so many ways but I’ll try to recall it all now. The week started out with prepping for Christmas in between work and cramming in social engagements and ended with Christmas in RI. Here goes.

I spent Monday morning catching up from being out Friday afternoon. How can that much email pile up from just half a day? Darla and I went to Trader Joe’s over lunch, where I got a few more stocking stuffers and goodies for work. I knitted after work and then stopped at Anne Marie’s, where I got to hold little Gina, who at 7 pounds something is outweighed by every one of my cats. She was SO tiny.

The next few days flew by. We were interviewing six people for our open positions so every couple of hours, we had another interview. Between that and my lunch dates – Tuesday with Anne and Kate, Wednesday with Darla after sexual harassment training and Thursday with Dodie – the work days flew by. And my nights were filled with finishing wrapping and packing for my trip. I left work at 4:00 on Thursday to drive directly to the airport. The cats were all set and the plants watered so I called it good and flew east for Christmas at Carolyn’s.

I got in Thursday after midnight and slept like a rock that night. It was a good thing because Friday was a busy day. We started baking first thing with cookies – mint chocolate, Scandinavian almond and gingersnaps. We stopped at lunch time to meet John at the Crow’s Nest, where I enjoyed fried clams, clam cakes and clam chowder. I’m sensing a trend. Yum! Then it was back home for more baking. Other than stopping for dinner and sleep, we didn’t finish until the final stuff – cardamom bread, pecan pie, lemon tart and Christmas pudding with hard sauce – until 3:00 on Saturday. Sheesh!

Bob couldn't come to Monday's open house so he stopped in on Saturday morning with his daughter, Daisy. It was wonderful to see her again and as a walking, talking kid (I had last seen her 2 years ago, when she was only just 1.) After he left, I put on the Christmas pudding, which I dumped out of tis mold at 3:00 and I left for my cousin’s for my family’s Christmas. We had our traditional lasagna meal with yummy antipasto salad and my Christmas pudding. All good. Then it was on to John’s mom’s house for Brian’s skate (a fish that looks like corduroy) in browned butter caper sauce. Delicious! I enjoyed the company and conversation, getting home ~11:00. After filling stockings, we didn’t get to bed until 1:00 a.m.

Christmas day was wonderful. We opened presents and ate cardamom bread for breakfast. Carolyn and I were working on the prime rib by 9:30 to get it in the oven by 10:00 so we could eat on schedule. Jen, Carolyn’s neighbor, and her parents were coming to dinner. We had roasted potatoes, Brussels sprouts and rolls along with the beef. The best part is we were all in our sweats – comfy and cozy while eating yummy food and chatting. Isn’t that the best? It was a wonderful holiday and it felt good to relax after so much getting ready. A very merry Christmas indeed.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Week 51 - Counting the Days

Like the rest of the planet, this week was all about crossing things off my Christmas to do list. Everything was organized based on wanting to mail Ginny’s package on Wednesday. Once that was done, the heat would be off. Let the Christmas prep begin!

On Monday, I picked up the pictures for the calendars and did a bit of shopping over lunch. After work I hit the super market before knitting at the library, after which Andrea opened her shop for me so I could buy the replacement yarn for my last Christmas project. I say Christmas but I’d already resigned myself to not having them done until after I get back from RI. Life goes on. Anyway, when I got home at 8:30, I wrapped all Ginny’s presents and went to bed tired. I wonder why.

The goal for Tuesday was to get the calendars done. I had lunch with Dodie then picked up some replacement pics for some I’d picked up Monday (badly cropped by Walgreens.) I stopped for a few groceries and egg nog on the way home since I’d have a night of scrapbooking ahead of me. Well, I got home and found that they hadn’t given me all my bags at the market so no egg nog. Since they’d screwed up at the other market on Monday, I’d have to go back to both markets. Just what I need to add to my list! Oh well. The calendars took 2.5 hours (longer than I’d thought) but at least they were done. I went to bed hoping I’d sleep better than the night before. Could it be stress disturbing my sleep? Hmmmm….

I didn’t sleep better and was wide awake super early so decided to get up and do something so baked banana bread. I had a dentist appointment at 8:00 to have my permanent crown put in, which was a good thing because I’d been biting my tongue because of the huge temp one for two weeks. I took my packages and a warm loaf of the banana bread for the dentist and left for another packed day. After a stop at the post office, I got to work ~10:00. It’s amazing how fast a day goes when it starts that late. I had a Husker Cats meeting after work, stopped at Super Saver to pick up my egg nog and flew home for Survivor. With the packages mailed, the heat was off so I was taking a night for myself to veg. It was wonderful.

Thursday was our office Christmas party so I grabbed my white elephant gift and headed to work. With a nice long lunch at Misty’s where I got a bolt of lace curtain material for my white elephant (not all bad), it was another fast day. After a stop at market #1 (4 days in a row of after work grocery shopping – sheesh!) to fix Monday’s problem, I went home for another night with no pressure. There is something to be said about having to ship giving earlier holiday deadlines.

I had taken Friday afternoon off, not because I was feeling pressured but because I hate having half days in my bank. I had a plumber coming at 3:00 to ream out the floor drain in the basement but otherwise didn’t have much on my list. I worked the morning then went to lunch with Layton. We ate at the Red Fox (a blue collar bar that does a quick lunch and so is one of our stand bys) and I couldn’t find my keys when we went to leave. While I searched my purse, Layton went out to the car and I’d LEFT IT RUNNING! Yes, I had a truly senior moment and because it was Lincoln, the car was still there. But I was so freaked out that I went straight home without stopping. It was troubling but I put it out of my mind and focused on the rest of the list. The plumber was done and I was vegging by 3:30. Yes, vegging. I took the afternoon off. Scandalous! I did manage to get my inside tree up and decorated that night but did nothing else productive.

I was up early and wrapping Saturday morning. Andrea had mentioned an Omaha run so I wanted to be done wrapping so that’d be a possibility. But when I heard how many places she was stopping, I declined to go figuring she wouldn’t be home until late. I had a nice afternoon at home. I got a lot done on my to do list and went to bed early.

Sunday was chore day since my Christmas to do list was down to packing and prepping to leave. I decided I should get my chores done in the morning and then head down to the craft room to work on quick project. Lorri stopped by after church so I gave her her mittens, which she loved. I got a big hug. By mid afternoon, when the sun streams into the basement, I was in the craft room neatizing it and starting the project. It felt great to have the spare time so close to Christmas. I finished the project and was cooking dinner in time to watch TV all night – the Survivor finale.

It was a busy week but I got everything done in the nick of time and ended the week with extra time on my hands. Nice! And just four days until I’ll fly east. Merry Christmas everyone!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Week 50 - Slammin' Christmas Prep

It was another busy week but this one had a focus – Christmas! (on the personal side anyway) Work was all about the F&A proposal. The consultant was here on Wednesday and Thursday so we were all slammin’ to get stuff done.

Monday was knitting and then I finished my entire to do list, something I can’t say very often. I swam Tuesday and then went home to knit. I was in the home stretch on a complicated pair of mittens that are a Christmas gift. I needed to finish them and another half done gift then make two from scratch so was feeling some Christmas knitting pressure. No matter how much I get done ahead of time, this is always my December. Sheesh!

Wednesday was not a good day. I woke up with my knee in pain, like hurting as much as it ever had. But the day flew and then went home to knit. I had gotten up early that morning to knit and so was determined to finish the mittens that night so went straight home and started. It took the entire night but there were finished when I went to bed. Yay!

F&A kicked my ass on Thursday! I started a new project that involved cleaning up a bunch of data then emailing departments to get corrections back. It started out fun but I was cranky as all get out by the end of the day. I didn’t help when Starbuck’s screwed up my order on a much anticipated peppermint mocha. I bolted out the door at 5:00 to swim, just being careful about my knee, which was already feeling better. I got a call at home from my boss when I get home, looking for an update on the project I was working on. She was in a panic, which is never good. Oh well, the work week was almost over.

I was in a much better mood on Friday and my knee was much better. Since I was only working until noon, there was nothing that could shake my good mood. I just managed to finish the project before Darla and I left for a fun afternoon. We went out for lunch then shopped all afternoon, finishing with a movie – Hugo in 3D. It was all wonderful! I pretty much finished my shopping (OK, there’ll be a bit more done this week but mostly done), loved the movie (finally a movie that was worth the extra money for 3D!) and I had the best yarn score ever to top it off. I found Patons wool, which is dyeable and normally sells for $5.99, in the clearance bin at Michael's for 59 cents each! I bought some before the movie then went back afterwards to clear out the bin. I also stopped at Trader Joe’s the headed home. What a wonderful day!

I had a hair appointment at 8:00 on Saturday and was thrilled that I managed to finish the 2nd half done gift before I left. When I got home, I slogged through photos to decide which ones to include in the 2012 calendar. I had them chosen, scanned and uploaded before lunch, which was yummy homemade pizza. Then I sat down to start gift #3, which I worked on all afternoon before making a yummy dinner of asparagus goat cheese pasta. Cooking twice in one day! That’s a rarity these days.

On Sunday I finished gift #3 – yay! – and made a dent in chores. By mid-afternoon I was losing steam but I started gift #4 and worked on that while I watched TV that night after eating homemade chili and corn bread. Yes, I cooked again! Unfortunately I’m not liking how my last Christmas knitting project is looking so may have to rethink the yarn I’m using. But I’m feeling good about my Christmas prep so won’t be stressing about that with less than two weeks to go. I hope everyone is happy with holiday progress and can enjoy the season.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Week 49 - Starting Christmas Prep

It was a busy week, yet again. The pre-Christmas list seems huge and is stressing me out but I’ll get it done. One thing at a time.

The days flew by this week. After work Monday I scored a new Krups coffee pot at the thrift store, which was perfect timing because mine had died that morning. Then it was knitting as usual and I got tons done afterwards. I had lunch with Dodie on Tuesday then taught all afternoon, which made for a quick afternoon, then I swam after work.

I had a dentist appointment first thing Wednesday and I was not prepared for the 1-1/4 hours I was in the chair, 30 minutes of which was drilling to remove my old crown. Yikes! Now if the temporary crown will just stay in my mouth until the permanent one is ready. I went to the court house to register my car after the dentist only to find out when I got the window that my insurance card had expired the day before. So I headed home to find my new one, which I never did so had to call my insurance company to have them fax one to the court house. Sheesh! From there I headed to my mechanics, where I was dropping my car for a once over since it was hesitating. But when I picked up my purse to go in, it was too light. I checked inside and no wallet. I had taken it out at home to get my insurance phone number so figured I’d left it there. With no wallet, I had no credit card, no checks, no way to pay for my car repairs. So I went inside and explained that I couldn’t pay. When he grimaced, I decided to try to get cash at the credit union without my ID so I drove to the credit union but found my wallet on the floor behind the passenger seat before I had to beg at the CU. Relief! But after a pot luck at lunch (for a payroll clerk’s retirement) and teaching another afternoon, I got a call from the mechanic that I needed brakes, spark plugs and a bunch of other stuff to the tune of $670. Then it wasn’t ready at until 5:20 so I missed swimming. Oh well. At least my car is all set for winter and it was nice to have a free night at home.

Thursday was deans reports, another pot luck for lunch (this time it was the Vice Chancellor’s assistant) and then I had my third potluck in 2 days for a master gardener meeting in Fremont that night. I drove up there with Lorri and it was fun. The newsletter committee met afterwards so I didn’t get home until 9:30. Nora, Cheryl and I had talked about scrapbooking after work Friday but since I had no time to prep, I called to cancel and then when went straight to bed. What a long day!

Friday was day two of deans’ reports and lunch with Layton so flew by. When I left, I went to Menard’s and bought my Christmas trees – one for the deck and one for inside – then did a little Christmas shopping. Since it was supposed to start snowing overnight, I decorated the deck tree as soon as I got home and did some other outdoor decorating then ate my last plate of Thanksgiving leftovers with a glass of wine and watched some TV. I forgot about baking cookies for the library so didn’t put them in until almost 11:00, which made for a late night.

It was already snowing when I got up Saturday and I was tired after not enough sleep so was slow getting going. I made it to the library with my brownies just as Santa was arriving for story hour. It was cute to see the kids so excited. I ran a couple of errands, grabbed lunch at home and then headed to Christmas on the Prairie at the museum at 2:00. By then it was snowing hard and there was already about 3” on the ground so very few people came through. To top it all off, our table was right next to an old man playing something called a Q Chord that is such a lame instrument that a monkey could have played it. He had 2 cartridges – one of old 70’s songs and one of Christmas songs. After 3-1/2 hours, I was ready to scream! I did some shopping and then had to start shoveling in order to get up my driveway. I only did two strips for the tires and called it good for the night. I tried to watch The Informant but couldn’t keep my eyes open so turned it off and was in bed before 9:00.

I slept for more than 10 hours! Sunday was chores and calendar pages. I had grand hopes to get it all done. I made good progress on chores in the morning (got the kitchen done) and was scrapbooking by 1:00. It was slow going though so when Andrea dropped by at 3:00, I had only finished one of my four months and was working on my second. We had tea and cookies then I finished shoveling when she left. After a call from Deanne, I started in on the pages again and didn’t finish until almost 9:00. No more chores got done so I’ll be trying to fit them in after work this week. But at least I got the pages done – one less thing on my Christmas to do list. I’ll gladly wear B list undies this week, happy that I got one thing crossed off. When time gets short, it’s all about priorities. : )