Thursday, December 27, 2018

Christmas Snapshots

I spy a hedgehog, a soccer ball, and Big Ben-

So this was the situation here earlier today. Ugh. I'm not a fan of taking it all down and putting it all away and the sweeping and the dusting and the sawing that needs to happen. Yup you read that right. Without his future son-in-law here to help get the tree outside and down the stairs hubs got creative and sawed it in thirds. Job well done! 

Normally the week between Christmas and New Year is my favorite because everything is bought and wrapped and cooked and done. It's when I like to exhale, sip my tea beside the twinkling tree lights, and savor the small things. Except we're traveling early in the new year and I could not face the idea of coming home to a house still decked out in all her Christmas finery. 

So how was your holiday? Take any blurry pictures? We always seem to have a couple, but what's Christmas without some out of focus photographs?

Hubs mom was with us for Christmas this year, and his sister and her family also made the trek south from several states away.

Lest anyone's confused, they did not come by kayak-ha! My mother-in-law has been here several times, but this was my sister-in-law's first trip to the lake.

It might be December and the air might be cool, and they might have jumped in anyway.

I think this will be a new tradition, our own version of a Polar Bear Plunge. I volunteered to wear my winter coat and take the picture because somebody had to.

Along with new traditions there were also some of the tried and true. Like too many cookies, new board games played around the dining room table, stockings filled to overflowing, and your mom waking you up way too early because she doesn't want you to miss the gift of a Christmas morning sky-

This girl might be getting married in 120 days, but a daughter is never too old to snuggle up next to her Daddy for the annual reading of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas...

120 days!!

I know!! 

photo cred: my sister-in-law

Hope your Christmas was merry and bright!

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

A Christmas Medley

Joining in with the Wednesday Medley today, hosted by Terri over at Your Friend From Florida. Everyone's invited to play along. Here we go-

1. Wednesday, December 19, 2018 is National Hard Candy Day! So the first question today is to ask if you enjoy hard candy, especially the kind we usually see during this festive time of year? What is your favorite? Which hard candy brings up the best memories for you if any?

I do like hard candy, but it's not something I buy on a regular basis. My mom used to always have a bowl of the Brach's hard candy Christmas mix this time of year, and usually some ribbon candy too which I think looks better than it tastes. 

As far as a memory goes though I'm going to say Reeds lifesavers. You don't see them very often, but whenever I see them I think of my dad and Sunday mornings. He always had a roll of Reeds lifesavers and would give us one before church if we caught him opening the roll. Butter Rum, Rootbeer, and my favorite-cinnamon. 

2. Holiday shopping! Are you finished? If you could spend an entire day in just one store, which one would it be and why?

I think I'm finished, other than the groceries of course. I don't feel quite as organized in the gift department this year, but I think we're good. 

Spend all day in a store? I guess maybe Barnes and Noble because I love to read or Nordstroms because I could try on shoes all day and I always enjoy lunch in their cafe. That being said I do not enjoy all day shopping. I am good for a couple of hours then I lose steam and focus. 

3. What holiday dessert describes you and why?

I was stumped but it's the 21st century which means there's a quiz for that. (here)  Turns out I'm a cookie-easygoing, happy anywhere, good with all age groups. Not sure how that makes me a cookie, but I think the descriptor fits. 

4. What is your least favorite holiday side dish? there a side dish I don't like? Can't think of a thing, but I suppose I could pass on a green bean casserole. I'd rather have my green beans sauteed and a bit crisp. 

5. Now be real! There is one on almost every tree. What is the ugliest tree ornament you have ever seen?

No ugly ornaments on my tree. 

6. Tell us something random about your week.

It's all about Christmas round here...

Merry Christmas to all you Hodgepodgers turned Medley-ers! 

"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." 
Isaiah 9:6

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

'Twas The Week Before Christmas

So what's everybody up to? Ha! There's only about a hundred things I should be doing, but I'm sipping coffee in a Christmas mug and blogging instead. Obviously you're here reading so I'm not the only one avoiding my to-dos. It all gets done, right?

We had my sister and brother-in-law out for a mini early Christmas dinner this past weekend. My niece and her boyfriend came too and Daughter2 minus her fiance who was in another city. Hubs got up at the crack of dawn (actually before the crack of dawn) to start the cooking so I got up at the pre-crack of dawn too.

The sun hasn't even begun to think about rising, but here we are out on the patio making BBQ magic happen. Hubs cooked a 10+ pound brisket on the Green Egg because when it comes to barbecuing he's a 'go big or go home' kind of chef.

It was out of this world good with a peppery crust outside and so tender you could cut it with a fork on the inside.

Did you come here to see what we ate this weekend?
I thought so.

Daughter2 made this scrumptious English Trifle for dessert which involved a home made almond pound cake, pears poached in honey and vanilla, fresh raspberries, creme anglaise, and whipped cream. It sounds heavy but was so light and delicious.

She and I enjoy hanging out in the kitchen together and while I've known for quite some time she is getting married in 129 days (not that anyone is counting) it kind of hit me this weekend how much I'll miss having my baker bride at home.

Not just because she bakes.

And technically she doesn't live with us, but she's been secretly moving in since October and I'm okay with that. Brides need their mommas y'all, and mommas need their baby girls.

Dads do too-

Speaking of sweet things...

Oh my stars! The little mancub was not too sure about Santa Claus this year. Eventually he settled in and as long as Santa didn't touch him or sit too close everything was a-ok. I'm pretty sure this is the real Santa because he knew just what to do-

And on that happy note I will leave you. The reason everything gets done is because someone does it. I mean those presents aren't going to wrap themselves so I guess that someone is me.

Merry week before Christmas everyone!

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Feels Like Christmas

Some years our hearts are bursting with Christmas spirit and some years it all feels a bit more elusive. I've been on the hunt for mine this season, which is partly how we ended up in a little town called Dahlonaga.

I read Southern Living Magazine and for several years now around Christmas time they've mentioned this small Georgia town, telling readers they should see it if they get the chance.

We got the chance.

While making plans a couple of weekends ago to see friends near Atlanta, I googled Dahlonaga and discovered it was less than an hour from our weekend destination. Hubs and I decided to go a day early and spend the night before moving on to our friends house Friday afternoon.

The charming little town of Dahlonaga sits in the mountains of northwest Georgia.  The area has loads of wineries, some of which are quite good, and the little town of Dahlonaga is built around a village square.

Let's just say they know how to do Christmas lights here.

We stayed in a small hotel just off the square which made it all easy peasy. We parked, checked in to our room, then spent some time walking around the square, browsing the shops, and dodging raindrops. The weather wasn't stellar, but Christmas lights made it all easier to bear.

Also key lime truffles from this candy shop.

We thought about a horse drawn carriage ride, but the queue was long and we didn't think we'd get to the front before our dinner reservation. We ate in a little Irish pub that had good reviews online, but I thought was just okay.

Actually the food was good, but initially they seated us at a table with a heater beating down on top of our heads so we asked to be moved. Of course it was crowded so they moved us to an awkward table in the bar with low stools for seating which are not my favorite.

The bar is covered in bills people have tacked up, mostly ones but a few larger and a few foreign, and that was fun to see. If the weather were nice and I could eat outside, maybe I'd give it one more try.

Except really I think one night in town was just enough. I'm happy we made the stop, but don't feel the need to go back. An overnight visit was just the right dose of Christmas magic.

Friday morning we had breakfast at 'a little dive bar in Dahlonaga'. If you don't know country music you won't get the reference, but the live music venue made more famous by the song, also serves food. The story behind the song is a good one which is something I like about country music.

After breakfast we stopped to see the gold museum, and while I expected 'cheesy' it was actually pretty interesting.

The museum is housed in a beautiful old building, one of the oldest standing courthouse buildings in the state, and I love old buildings. I don't remember hearing about the GA gold rush in my NJ elementary school, but it happened twenty years prior to the more famous California rush, so technically first in the U.S.

It was a cold cloudy day and it occurred to me I was missing the pretty pre-Christmas snows we had in N.J. Yeah, yeah, I know they're a pain in the neck on so many levels, but there is something about the quiet stillness that comes along with softly falling snow that helps a person hit pause.

Doesn't everybody need to hit pause this time of year?

Since the rain had tapered off we decided to take a peek at some nearby waterfalls we'd read were spectacular-

They were-

Just gorgeous! This is Amicalola Falls, the highest falls in the state of Georgia.

You can hike in, but we weren't prepared for that so we drove up and parked in a lot that sits about midpoint of the falling water.

A bridge spans the rushing water and you can walk out on it for a better look.
It's high. Just sayin'.

And there are steps up and steps down but we just hung out here in the middle until we were ready to move on. We drove further up the mountain because we'd heard the view there was also incredible- 

It was.

My heart grew three sizes on the patio that day.

Because more than the hustle and bustle of a town dressed in twinkle lights what I long for this time of year is the quiet beauty of creation. Let me stand on a mountaintop and be amazed. Let me remember the miracle of Christmas and let that miracle fill me with awe and wonder.

'And the word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father,  full of grace and truth.' John 1:14

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

OH! Christmas Tree

Your Christmas tree...white lights or colored? One tree or more than one tree? Live, real, or artificial? Argue with your husband about that last bit or everyone on the same page? Ha! I kid! Sort of.

We have not had a 'real' tree in over fifteen years, but hubs got it in his head that this would be the year of the real tree. In hindsight it should have been the year of the live tree because we need several more trees on one side of our property. Sadly that idea didn't occur to me until after the tree was already trimmed but maybe next year.

Also, hubs did not want just any real tree. He wanted a GINORMOUS! real tree. Our family room ceiling is about eighteen feet high so that sort of ginormous. And fat. No chic skinny tree would do. The tree he had in mind must be fat and it must be tall. As fat as the room can tolerate (fatter in fact) and as tall as the ceiling will allow.

Let's just say that initially I wasn't 100% on board with this plan but I came around.

We've done artificial trees the last several years because we're normally not at home for the Christmas holiday. I feel like you need to be home if you have a real tree so you can water it everyday. For the first time in a long time we're celebrating Christmas in our own house, so we went with a real tree.

And it's ginormous.

We drove up into the North Carolina Mountains to the cutest little place called Tom Sawyer's Tree Farm. I think the trip there is what changed my mind, because it all felt very festive and Hallmark Christmas movie-ish.

The people who own the farm are so nice and when hubs described what he wanted they directed us to a particular side of the hill. They said to watch for baby deer scampering about and I mean how can you not love a real tree when there are baby deer scampering about?

We did not see baby deer, but I like knowing they were there somewhere.

The tree farmers gave us a big pole painted in various colors which you could hold up next to your tree to determine it's height and then it's cost. Hubs was not sure this pole would be tall enough for what he had in mind, but it did the trick.

The tree guys came out and chopped the winning tree down, wrapped it up, and tied it to the top of the truck for the trip back down the mountain.

The plan was to set the tree in a bucket of water for a few days before bringing her in the house. I won't mention here that the tree trunk was so heavy it crushed said bucket because alls well that ends well, right?

Hubs realized pretty quickly he was going to need some manpower to get the tree in the house and fortunately our future son-in-law was coming to town for the weekend. This is why you have daughters-so they can grow up and marry boys who help you carry heavy stuff.

And we had to move all kinds of furniture and I kept asking where are all the people going to go???,
but hubs made it work and she's a beauty.

Our Christmas spirit still intact.

Monday, December 3, 2018

About Last Night Month

I had a title in mind, but before I got back here the calendar turned. Bother. So much to catch up on and so little time. Let's talk Thanksgiving because while it feels like eons ago in reality it's only been about ten days.

Which I realize is an eon in the blog world, but still I'm gonna talk Thanksgiving.

The bride-to remember Daughter2 and her groom, right?

Well her future in-laws invited us to spend the Thanksgiving holiday in their home so hubs and I road tripped to the Buckeye State. We left later in the day Tuesday because hubs had a guitar lesson (I know!!!). We had the soon-to-be marrieds dog with us because we had the bigger vehicle and it's important the dog is comfortable.

Yes of course we took a picture.

In America Wednesday is designated 'prep for the meal day' so that's what we did. And while we prepped we talked all things wedding because we love to talk all things wedding. Just ask the hubs. Hi hubs! In our defense the grooms mama wants to hear details and I feel like grooms are not always good about sharing every single little detail.

Thursday was spent in the way Thanksgiving Thursdays are always spent-parade watching, eating, napping, football watching and more eating. Probably a lot like yours which is something I love about Thanksgiving.

Friday we went into the nearby city to see the tree and the view from our hosts downtown office. Also to enjoy a fabulous Italian meal in one of their favorite restaurants because we are all about the eating at the end of November. Hubs and I got on the road fairly early Saturday as we needed to start organizing Christmas at home. It felt a little early but blank calendar days are nearly non-existent round here in the month of December so we had to dive in.

As we were cruising homeward down the Interstate hubs noticed a sign for 'The Ark', and since we were in the neighborhood we decided to take a quick peek. Which is nearly impossible to do but we tried. If you're not familiar with 'The Ark' it's a reconstruction of Noah's ark sitting just off the highway in Williamstown Kentucky.

We were curious, but after reading about it online opted not to go inside. The tickets are pricey and most reviews said you needed several hours to really take it all in and ain't nobody got time for that Thanksgiving weekend. We were passing by just as it was opening for the day so we did drive into the parking lot to gawk. The Ark gets mixed reviews online, and I know a couple of folks who've been who also give it mixed reviews, but I have to say it was kind of cool to see it from afar.

We stopped for lunch in the little town of Berea because we're suckers for those little brown signs on the side of the highway that indicate some sort of historical and/or interesting something. In this case it was Boone Tavern which is a restaurant and hotel affiliated with Berea College, and we had a wonderful lunch (Kentucky Hot Brown anyone?) in their elegant dining room. We thought maybe the tavern had something to do with Daniel Boone, and it is named for the native son, but that's as far as the connection goes.

The Tavern was built in the early 1900's to house guests of the college. Apparently the President's wife decided they needed to build a guest house after she realized she'd welcomed over 300 guests of the university to her home one summer. I can kind of relate-ha!

We made it home in time to catch up with the neighbors whose grown children were in town, and now we're on to the next thing. Thanksgiving drew the short straw, but it's still my favorite holiday of the year.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Thursday Sorts Of Things

That's code for unimportant, only slightly interesting, random thoughts. And since it's Thursday I'll aim for thirteen -

1. I had to buy a new phone yesterday. I've been putting off a trip to the 'phone store' in much the same way I put off a trip to the dentist. Nearly as aggravating.

Here's how it went down-I called the day before and made an appointment. The gentleman confirmed my requested time and asked what I was interested in purchasing. He said I should ask for him by name when I came in (for the sake of this story we'll call him J) and he'd have the phone I wanted out and ready to go. Great! Yay! Perfect!

Also too good to be true.

When we arrived at the phone store nobody knew anything about a scheduled appointment and J wasn't even there. He'd gone home an hour earlier. I feel like this is par for the course when you go to purchase a new phone.

On the bright side, J's stand-in was super helpful and even managed to switch my plan to something less expensive with better service so I guess in the end I'm glad J was a slacker-ha!

2. On the less than bright side I spent an hour today trying to get my screen protector registered. It only required three live chats with the manufacturer and one call to Verizon.

3. Let's randomly change topic now because this is a list of completely unrelated stuff. I recently started an exercise class with some women in my neighborhood.

4. In case there's any confusion, I didn't start the class as in create the class. I started the class as in I attend the class. If you know me you weren't confused. ahem

5. In other activity related news, I've been playing Pickleball. Have you ever played Pickleball? I'm still learning and there are a lot of rules (I think you know how I feel about rules), but I'm enjoying the game a lot.

6. I guess you could say it's a cross between tennis and ping pong. For the record, I stink at tennis but I play a mean game of ping pong. The racket? paddle? is graphite, slightly larger than a ping pong paddle and the ball is similar to a Wiffle ball but its a Pickleball ball. We play on a tennis court with Pickleball markings which are slightly inside the tennis lines so less running. Whoohoo!

7. I still seem to end up running a lot.

8. When I told my Daughter2 I was playing Pickleball and that I really liked it she said, and I quote,

'That's great Mom because you're not, you know...' 

Not what? Coordinated? Ha-she's right! But I am getting a little bit better every week.

9. Course we didn't play this week because it was raining. I mean RAINING!! Again. Still?

10. Boating season is winding down but hubs and I did squeeze in a ride on a sunny 65 degree day a couple of weeks ago.

Yes I'm in jeans and a vest because even when it's sunny there's wind when you're moving. Hubs would want me to tell you he was wearing shorts and a t-shirt. 

11. Nothing nicer than leaf peeping from the water on a blue sky autumn day.

12.  I am a fan of the big blue heron.

13. And autumn in general.

"Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all." ~ Stanley Horowitz