Holiday “Creep” and Keeping it Real

Give Thanks

What is it with everyone this year?

Christmas began to creep into stores early October and now it’s full-blown Christmas everywhere you go. I used to love waking up the day after Thanksgiving and seeing the stores transformed into a Christmas wonderland. It signaled the arrival of Christmas and it was so exciting!

This year, I am struggling with it. I love Christmas for a lot of reasons but I love Thanksgiving too and I feel as if it’s getting the shaft big time this year. How do you avoid the holiday “creep”? Or do you? Maybe you just give into it. I feel pressured to start my shopping but you  know what happens when I shop early? I forget how much I’ve gotten and I end up with a lot of extra stuff and really, none of it is needed. Sometimes, I even forget to wrap stuff and find it later! That has happened to me at least three times.

This whole holiday thing has really been on my mind lately. Has it been on yours? When I get  like this, it helps to jot stuff down that makes me happy and I invite you all to join me. I’m grateful for so many things and taking a moment to focus on Thanksgiving keeps it real.

Things to look forward to between now and Thanksgiving:

  • Slowly planning the holiday meal. Usually I make the same things but there are a couple of new dishes that I add to mix it up a little. This recipe, was a new dish that I tried when I went gluten-free and it became a staple.
  • Time off! I am taking the week of Thanksgiving off. I try to every year, but this year with all of the job changes at work, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to. I’m looking forward to the time off.
  • Coming up with my Thanksgiving reading list. I’ve got the week off, I must have stuff to read. I don’t always stick to the list but it’s fun to make one.
  • Sitting down with my December calendar and having a come to Jesus moment. Mapping out December can be a little stressful for some, but I take comfort in knowing what I’ve got coming up. I geek out when it comes to my planner.
  • If the weather cools down, it will be nice to take some walks with the Otter Pup. It’s been warm so I’ve left that job to The Hub but as the decorations go up, it’s fun to walk around the neighborhood.
  • Coming up with my holiday playlist. For both Thanksgiving and Christmas. I tend to not listen to music all that often. Weird, but around the holidays I really like it.
  • Movie watching! I watch a lot of movies this time of year. A must-watch movie: A Miracle on 34th Street (1947). It puts me in the mood for Christmas. We usually watch it on Thanksgiving day.
  • Spending Thanksgiving day with my immediate family which is just the four of us and the pup. We lounge around in our pajamas, eat and eat and just enjoy each other’s company. I cherish this time together.

Your turn! What are you looking forward to between now and Thanksgiving?

 

Sunday Matters: Countdown to Thanksgiving (I think)

Sunday Matters

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I love it so. I’ve been thinking about the meal and our day-long pajama party. What could be better? The fact that Christmas has been pushed upon us so soon, really gets to me! Just a few years ago, you’d wake up the day after Thanksgiving and everything would be transformed and you’d be anxious for Christmas. Not now. Sigh.

Of course, time seems to be flying by too. Tuesday, The Teen takes his first in-car driving lesson. He’s also looking at colleges. I think The Girl has skipped over the Tween stage and gone right into Teen. She’s been a real treasure lately. Smirk.

Last night we hit the ice rink. Everyone was bundled up in coats and scarves which was funny given it was close to ninety degrees yesterday. Us West Coasters try really hard to create seasons for ourselves but it’s not working out that great.

The first shot is The Teen and his girlfriend. The second is The Girl and her friend, The Girl is on the right.

Ice Rink

Right Now:

Sitting here with a cup of coffee as the rest of the house sleeps. It’s a beautiful day and yes…sunny!

This Week:

Driving lessons, Annie rehearsals and some doctor stuff.

Reading:

  • Driftwood by Elizabeth Sutton (REALLY enjoying this one)
  • The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas (at a suburban BBQ a man slaps a child who is not his own. Drama!)

Watching:

The same two shows that I always watch, American Horror Story and The Walking Dead. Both happen to be really good this season. I saw that Snowpiercer is on Netflix instant view. I’d love to sneak that one in today,

Making:

Even though it’s warm out, I am craving chicken noodle soup. Yes. NOODLES. I’ll use gluten-free ones which won’t quite be the same but so be it. When you’ve got a craving, you gotta satisfy it. I think biscuits are called for as well. Mmmmm.

MS soup

Grateful for:

I am grateful that I am able to take a good chunk of time off for the holidays. I’ve got Tuesday off for Veteran’s Day but I will be taking Thanksgiving week off and a couple of weeks around Christmas. I LOVE and need this time off.

Happy Thought For the Week:

Stephen King’s new book comes out on Tuesday. Revival is said to be his return to TRUE horror and of course I am hosting a read along for it. If you want to read it with us, you can check out the details here:

ReviveMe 2014

 

What are you grateful for today?

Sunday Matters: Finally, a Fall Weekend with Clouds and Everything!

Sunday Matters

How was everyone’s Halloween? Ours was great. We had quite a bit of candy left over because guess what…it rained! Yes! Not much, but it was cold and breezy and a little wet out there so I think a lot of families opted to stay home. The Girl had her friend over and The Teen had his girlfriend over and it was a really nice time. We watched The Tingler and The Teen and his girlfriend watched Psycho. Pumpkins were carved, seeds were roasted and plenty of candy was munched. All in all, a good night.

Right Now:

At this moment, I am looking forward to my first cup of coffee. A little dash of cinnamon and nutmeg and I am good. Oh, can’t forget the cream. After coffee and a quick bite, we are off to church which I am really looking forward to. The series we are in right now is on family and how it’s not always perfect. The timing of this series could not be better. The holidays are coming up and there are some issues with my side of the family that tend to bring me down. They are out of my control but I can’t help it.

This Week:

Not much going on this week. There are a few rehearsals and book club but I think that’s it. I went to the mall yesterday and it FELT like the holidays were right around the corner. Honestly, if the kids were not with me I would have picked up a few gifts but they were, so I didn’t. This week, I am going to think about my strategy for this holiday season. I really want to tone down the commercial aspect and focus on family.

Reading:

I haven’t started anything new. I am still in the middle of several books. I really want to start The Rosie Effect though. I may, but only if I can make a little more progress in my one reading club book, Five Days at Memorial. My club meets to discuss it this week so I really need to finish it.

Watching:

As I mentioned above, I finally watched The Tingler, a classic horror movie starring Vincent Price. It was good and campy. With the weather the way it’s been, cloudy and cool, I’ve been getting my Lucy fix and watching back-to-back episodes. I DID manage to watch Halloween and Halloween II as well, I love those movies.

The Walking Dead is on tonight so I will for sure be watching that. A word about last week’s episode of American Horror Story, so sad. I almost shed a tear!

Making:

Not sure yet. The Teen made pumpkin bread. Yep, The Teen! He really gets into Fall. Last night I made a chicken stir-fry for dinner but tonight? I really don’t know what we are in the mood for yet.

Grateful for:

This week, I am really grateful that my immediate family is healthy. I battle health issues related to Lupus but I have been pretty good lately. Recently, The Teen heard about a friend with some health issues and my parents have a lot of health issues and it’s just scary to think how fragile we are. You don’t think about it often and honestly, who wants to dwell on it? But as I get older, so does everyone around me. So for today, I am grateful for the health of my family.

Happy Thought For the Week:

My happy thought has to do with a book that will be out soon. Sign-up to read it with me!

ReviveMe 2014
What are you up to today?

 

Sunday Matters: Rest, Regroup, Reflect

Sunday Matters

Sundays are special. They’ve really become my favorite day of the week. Friday IS hard to beat. I mean, at the end of the week I am so drained that Friday is like a breath of fresh air, but Sunday is special. Usually my errands are taken care of. Usually I get to go to church and usually, we get together as a family, at least in the evening to spend some time together.

That said, I’ve re-structured my Sunday post a little bit. My goal is put the past week to rest and focus on what makes me happy.

Right Now:

Right now, I am enjoying my first cup of coffee and let me tell you, it is gooood. I’m also enjoying coconut Greek yogurt with sliced almonds, dark chocolate shavings and toasted coconut on top. It’s my new favorite breakfast. I love it. I will hit church and then it’s me on the couch with a book.

This Week:

Nothing much going on this week. The Teen’s drama competition is over so those rehearsals end and the ones for The 39 Steps pick-up again. Annie rehearsals continue as well. I really do love that my kids are involved in theater. It’s a lot of work but it always pays off.

Friday is Halloween and The Girl has a friend coming over for trick-or-treating and possible a sleep-over. She’s supposed to spend the night but there is talk of a cross-country meet the next day so I need to confirm. The Teen and his girlfriend may come over to carve pumpkins and watch a movie. Hasn’t been confirmed though.

Reading:

  • Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
    • For a read-along and we are almost done!
  • Five Days at Memorial by Sheri Fink
    • For book club. All about a hospital and how it managed during Hurricane Katrina.
  • Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
    • Really, really different from what I thought it would be. It’s kind of good.
  • Driftwood by Elizabeth Dutton
    • Also very good. It grabbed me just a few pages in.
  • The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell
    • Took a break from it but I am back to it now.

Watching:

I finally got The Hub hooked on The Walking Dead. Still working on The Teen. He watches it, but claims that he is not into it. Yeah. Okay. Movie wise, I am lining up my horror flicks and trying to get them in but with The Girl around, it’s difficult.

Making:

I made meatloaf and mashed potatoes last night which will be enjoyed in lunches this week as well. Tonight, we will probably have turkey tacos.

Grateful for:

I am grateful for a lot these days. The roof over my head, my family, and that I was able to finally find a church that fits me.

Happy Thought For the Week:

This Friday I am announcing the details for #ReviveMe2014. Can you guess what it’s all about? REALLY looking forward to this.

The Sunday Salon: Gorgeous Weather

Sunday Salon

It’s a gorgeous day!! The sky is a bright blue, not a cloud to be seen and the sunlight is working its magic. The Girl took all the Halloween stuff out and put it up yesterday. I think there are only five houses in the neighborhood that put anything up this year. Now, I just need to get the candy!

It’s been a busy week but it’s over now. The Teen took the PSAT, The Girl got to cheer at the high school game, they both had rehearsals for both Annie and the drama competition next week in Temecula. Not to mention doctor’s appointments and flu shots and the Title 1 meeting I had to attend. Mid-week, something bit me and my entire body itched and burned (which is weird) for two days!! Yes, it might have been the flu shot but more likely, the bug bite. I have no idea really but I never want to experience it again.

To all of you who gave me some insight into Title 1, you were all correct and in our case, the program does not follow her into middle school. Our school is a target-based Title 1 participant which means that the students who need addition help, had to be determined within the first 30 days of school. To err on the safe side, she was added to the program. This means she gets one-on-one math assistance four times a week. A good thing, right?

What am I reading?

Along with other books, including our read along book, Something Wicked This Way Comes, I started this one:

Driftwood

 

It is really good so far. After just a few pages, I was hooked.

What am I cooking?

The dreaded question. At the moment, I am making lemon scones but later? Who knows? I sort of want The Hub to pick-up some stuff from the Mexican market (rotisserie chickens, fresh tortillas, etc.).  I haven’t told him this yet.

What am I watching?

Tonight, The Walking Dead. Today? I have a number of movies to choose from. Moonrise Kingdom? Notting Hill? The Abyss? I need to catch-up with some of the newer releases but when I have time, I tend to want to re-visit my favorite movies. Did you know that they already posted ABCs 25 Days of Christmas schedule? I am almost in the mood to pull out Christmas Vacation.

No one wants to hit church with me today. I took a look at one of the online services to see what I’d be missing and it looks like our normal pastor is not there today. Not sure if I will attend by myself. I do like to go as often as I can. I feel as if it prepares me for the week but I like people to go with me too. The Girl got home late from a birthday party last night and we were up past midnight waiting for The Teen to return from Fright Fest so we are all exhausted.

I know many of you feel the same way today! I saw a lot of read-a-thon posts yesterday. I hope you all had fun. What do you all have planned for today?

The Sunday Salon: The Walkers Return

Sunday Salon

It was a short week for me since I had Monday and Tuesday off and yet…it still felt incredibly long.

We had some fun stuff going on. The Teen’s choir Cabaret concert was on Wednesday and Thursday. It was a fun show. And…The Teen DID get the part he wanted in Annie (Rooster), Ms. Hannigan’s good-for-nothing con-man brother. The Girl did not get what she wanted but she ended up with a featured dance part.

The Teen was invited to USC for a singing workshop which he unfortunately had to leave early for since he had a lead acting workshop scheduled later in the day but I think it was a good experience for him. Being on a large college campus and getting to hang out with the music director? Very cool.

In other news…

I thought The Girl’s cheer clinic was yesterday, but it’s TODAY. This morning, to be exact which means if we go to church, it’s going to have to be an evening service. Might not be a bad thing as I’ve been wanting to try an evening service.

But, who am I kidding? This weekend is ALL about the return of The Walking Dead. Yes! It’s back! I think tonight’s episode is going to be rough. I fear for the characters. I will be off social media from 6pm on to avoid spoilers.

What am I reading?

I am listening to Stephen King’s Big Driver and reading Garth Stein’s A Sudden Light. I am liking both, quite a bit. I did not know that Big Driver was coming to Lifetime though later this week. I am also reading Something Wicked This Way Comes for the read along I am hosting with Sandy.

What am I cooking?

I made all sorts of stuff yesterday. Chicken Taco/Enchilada soup and chili and corn bread. The chili and corn bread will be enjoyed later. I didn’t want anything to distract me from The Walking Dead so that stuff is cooked and ready to go Just needs warming.

Just now, I made myself a bowl of coconut Chobani Greek yogurt, added some gluten-free raw oats, some dark chocolate shavings, sliced raw almonds and sprinkled the top with toasted coconut. Divine.

What am I watching?

Later I will be balled up on the couch cringing, while watching The Walking Dead hoping with all hope to not lose a major character in the season opening. Will you be watching tonight?

It’s a Birthday Kind of Day!

Birthday Girl - Then/Now 2014

It’s been a little quiet on the blog. I took the last couple of days off because my kids are on Fall break AND because today happens to be The Girl’s birthday! She is now an eleven-year-old, phone-toting, gal. Yep! I finally caved and got her a phone.

Yesterday, we tooled around town, had lunch and then came back to watch a movie. Today, The Teen was supposed to have an all-day rehearsal for The 39 Steps but the drama teacher’s kid is not feeling well so he is off today as well. I just made blueberry scones. The Girl just opened up her presents and now we are about to make her cake!

She saw this cake on the Real Girl’s Kitchen:

http://www.cookingchanneltv.com/recipes/haylie-duff/black-bean-chocolate-cake-with-buttercream-frosting.html

This cake just happens to be gluten-free. We are putting it together now. Later, we are heading out to a steak house for dinner because that is what The Girl wants, and then we will come home to eat the cake! Click on the photo if you’d like the recipe.

That is my day. There might be more movie watching and reading in there too and of course later, the final cast list for Annie comes out. I sure hope she gets a part and that The Teen gets what he wants as well.

Have a good day!

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