Friday, November 26, 2010

Nothing Says Christmas Like... STAR WARS!

Before CT and I got married, we decided to sell his house.  As we went from room to room packing, I came across bags of Hallmark ornaments.  In one closet, a bag or two with a few ornmanets... in a cabinet, another bag with a few ornaments... in a drawer, a loose ornament.  Well, you get the point.  There were ornaments hidden everywhere in that house.  (CT was NOT the most organized bachelor.)  Here was our conversation:

Me:  What are these?

CT:  Oh.  Ornaments.

Me:  Ornaments?

CT:  Yes. 

Me:  How great!  (As I looked at the boxes of ornaments stacking up everywhere, and realized...) Oh.... ummmm... Star Wars?

CT:  Yeah, and I have a few Star Trek ornaments too.

Me:  Oh.  (Looks like these are NOT going to go on my very traditional Christmas Tree.)  Well... what an interesting Christmas tree you must have.

CT:  Oh, I don't have a Christmas tree.  I don't put these up.  I just collect them.

Me (Light bulb going on in my head)... Well, you have so many ornaments, why not have a Stars Wars and Star Trek Christmas Tree?

And the rest, as they say, is history.  Fast forward to today:  Here is storage bin #1 of 5.

CT is the proud owner of approximately 83 Star Wars and Star Trek Christmas Ornaments (which are tracked on an Excel spreadsheet, of course) and he has his very own Christmas Tree that sits proudly in our family room each December.  Blue lights for the sky and white lights that twinkle like stars in the sky.  It is one very cool Christmas Tree, complete with a YODA Tree Topper.  Here is today's finished product (and a couple of ornament photos):

Remember the story about CT's coins?  Well, now CT saves all his loose pocket change during the year, and every July when Hallmark debuts their new ornament product line, he cashes in the spare change to buy the new Star Wars and Star Trek ornaments.  This year, I think he saved about $225 in spare change, and had enough money for eight new ornaments.

See, nothing says Christmas like STAR WARS!!!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving Week

Thanksgiving week.  Here we are. 

Lots to do this week, as CT and I prepare to host Thanksgiving Dinner for 12 of our immediate family members.  My thoughts of Christmas and all that goes along with that are on hold until Friday, as my focus is on Thanksgiving.  House needs to be cleaned, Thanksgiving linens washed and ironed (I hate the ironing part), tables set, last minute grocery shopping, food prepared, etc., etc., etc.  I've feel like I've turned in to a regular Martha Stewart.  Just yesterday I was surfing the internet finding different ways to fold dinner napkins!  Sheeeesh - HOW PATHETIC!  When did my life change from conference calls, and meetings, and projects, and deadlines, to how to fold a perfect dinner napkin?  Well, if I put any more time into thinking about this one, then I'll get really depressed.  So let's move on.

Without further ado, here is our Thanksgiving menu:

Roasted Turkey with Savory Herb Stuffing and Giblet Gravy
Cranberry Relish with Candied Lemon Zest
Butternut Squash Bisque with Candied Pecans
Mashed Potatoes with Condiment Bar of Sour Cream, Bacon Bits, and Butter
Sweet Potatoes
Green Beans
Baby Carrots in Dill Butter
Deviled Eggs
Potatoe and Whole Wheat Dinner Rolls
Pumpkin Cheesecake
Apple-Cranberry Cobbler
Pumpkin Pie
Chocolate Brownies
Wine (Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and a nice California Red)
Coffee - regular and decaf
Milk (for Katie & Ella)

So, that is our menu.  Very traditional but very yummy.  No Jell-O, though, and now I'm having second thoughts about Jell-O.  You see, we are a Jell-O family and we grew up on Jell-O.  We ALWAYS had some kind of Jell-O mold at every holiday meal or family party.  There is the ribbon jello with six or seven thin layers of different jellos, or the strawberry pretzel jello, or the lime jello with cottage cheese and pineapple (I think), or the ice cream jello.  And at Christmas, it is the white jello decorated with candied red and green cherries to look like pointsettias.  So, my mom called me last week and said, "Are you having a Jell-O?  Do you want me to make a Jell-O?"  My response was, "Nah, I really don't think we need a Jell-O."  So, no Jell-O this year. 

Anyway, we are looking forward to Thanksgiving, where we will gather and reflect and count all our blessings and be truly grateful and thankful for each other, the wonderful feast, and all that we have in this life.  Hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving!    

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Rushing It

It's not even Thanksgiving yet, but just look around - it's beginning to look A LOT like Christmas everywhere.  Go into any store, and you'll find the reds, the greens, the golds in abundance.  You'll hear the Christmas tunes and smell the cinnamon scented pine cones in the air.  You see the sparkle of the Christmas lights and trees and decorations.  And one of the Chicago-area radio stations has already changed their format to all-Christmas.  Heck, my blog design was changed to a Christmas theme two weeks ago (compliments of Leanne - thanks, Sis!) and CT and I even started working on our outside house decorations, which we hope to finish those today.  (Side comment:  we do NOT turn on the outside Christmas lights until the day AFTER Thanksgiving.)

Anyway, while surfing the TV this morning, CT stumbled upon a commercial for one of our favorite Christmas movies.  The first airing of this movie is scheduled for TONIGHT on USA network, and the station is running the moving twice - back to back.

"Elf" is one of those movies that we will probably watch at least a half dozen times between now and Christmas.  When I can't find it on TV, I pop in the DVD.  It's one of those movies that I really don't have to WATCH - I can just LISTEN to the movie and do other things (like wrap presents, write out Christmas cards, bake Christmas cookies, etc.) and still really enjoy the movie.

There are a few other Christmas movies that I will probably watch/listen to as much as "Elf".  These classic movies are truly the best of the best of all Christmas movies.

Everyone knows "It's a Wonderful Life" and "White Christmas".  But the lesser known movie, "The Bishop's Wife", with Cary Grant (big sigh.....), Loretta Young, and David Niven, is also one of THE BEST Christmas movies of all time.  If you've never seen this movie before, I strongly encourage you to check it out, as I know it will become one of your favorites too.

Yes, it is not even Thanksgiving, yet the world is just rushing towards Christmas.  And while I can't help myself, I'm rushing it too - and I'm lovin' it!  So, if YOU are rushing it, just enjoy it!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I See Dumb, I See Dumb

"I See Dumb" is one of my favorite expressions that PK and I used when we worked together.  We would use this expression (only between ourselves) when we saw or found something that someone did that just truly defied common sense and logic -- ok, well, our logic anyway.  (I originally came across this expression on a coffee mug in a magazine.  PK and I contemplated buying two mugs to use at work -- then I decided that given our positions at the company, it would NOT be appropriate!)

Google Image Search found at

This past weekend, I found myself in need of saying this expression out loud over something I witnessed.

CT and I stopped by our local gas station to fill up our car.   As CT was pumping gas, I looked over to the mini-van at the next gas pump.  A woman was sitting in the driver's seat and her passenger was out pumping gas.  She looked like she was cleaning out her purse or something else in the car, and proceeded to throw stuff out the window.  Now mind you, we are in a gas station and there are garbage containers RIGHT NEXT to the gas pumps.  I was half-tempted to get out of the car, pick up the crap she was throwing on the ground, tap on her window and say, "Excuse me, I think you dropped this."  But with my wobbly knee, I figured I couldn't make a run for it, should she decide to chase me.  So, "I See Dumb" #1 was in order.  Well, maybe not dumb, but lazy and ignorant definitely works here.
Next, the woman proceeded to light a cigarette, and then proceeded to flick her cigarette ashes out the window - all the while she waited for her passenger to finish pumping gas and go inside to pay for said gasoline.  I don't know about you, but I've had my fair share (and CT too) of getting out of my car to pump gasoline, only to find myself stepping in gasoline that was recently spilled.  The smell gets on your shoes, and then in your car when you return to your vehicle.  It takes a while to evaporate.

So, as this woman sat there smoking her cigarette and flicking ashes our her window, I had visions of an amber or the tip of the cigarette cracking off and hitting some recently spilled gasoline, blowing up the place into pieces.  Maybe that would never happen.  Would the amber blow out before it hit the ground?  I don't know, and I guess I don't want to test it to find out either.  Still, I thought this act was so completely stupid, I mean, WE ARE AT A GAS STATION!   "I See Dumb" #2 was in order. 

It still amazes me how dumb people can be sometimes.  Have you seen "Dumb" lately?

Friday, November 12, 2010

What Makes Me Smile

It's been a week since my last post.  I really haven't had much to say.   The week hasn't been the best for me...  I went through some unemployment blues and am frustrated about the continued poor job market.  Additionally, I am battling a bad knee and I can't get in to see my doc until Monday.  The knee has forced me to hobble around a bit, and I hate it when my mobility is limited.  I'm just used to being active and going and doing.  Still, I do have so much for which to be thankful and grateful, and I still think I'm one of the luckiest people around.  Yes, I remain really happy.  (Big sigh and deep breath....)  And today I had one thing that really made me smile.  Here it is:

Google Image Search found at

Yes, Play-Doh makes me smile.  Why?  Because playing with Play-Doh is one of Ella's favorite activities.  Yesterday, Ella and I broke out 12 new containers of Play-Doh, and because Uncle (aka, CT) was off from work yesterday, he joined us.  Here are my two Play-Doh colleagues:

There is nothing like new Play-Doh to brighten one's day.  Fresh, new, bright colors, and that new Play-Doh scent.  (We tossed out all the old "gray" Play-Doh that Ella has mixed together over the last six months.)  Together, Ella and I make all kinds of amazing things with our Play-Doh, but more importantly, we TALK.  Yesterday, we talked about about mommy, about Katie being in school, about Santa Claus, about daddy, about why Uncle should NOT put too much Play-Doh cheese on his Play-Doh pizza (because we all know what too much cheese does to Uncle), about Ellie's new friend Allison, about my knee hurting.  We talked about our trip to Disney and Ella asked CT, "Uncle, what was your favorite part?"  We sang all the latest songs Ella has learned in pre-school (the "Days Of The Week" song, "When You're Happy and You Know It", and of course, the macaroni song, a cute little song that my mom composed.

What started out to be a not-so-good week actually turned out pretty good, because it ended with a smile -- all because of a little Play-Doh.  Something so simple as Play-Doh... and Ella, of course.  Anyway, I hope you find smiles in some of the simplest things too.


Friday, November 5, 2010

Happy Anniversary!

Five years ago today, CT and I got married.

Neither one of us was looking to get married.  We were both young 40-somethings living pretty full, single, happy lives.  I had absolutely no interest in getting married, so I think it came as a complete shock to our families when we got engaged after four months of dating.  12 months later we were married.
CT and I had a typical Midwest wedding... church (Catholic), bridesmaids, groomsmen, reception with dinner/dance/drink.  CT looked sooooo handsome in his tux, and I loved my dress (although no veil - PLEEEEZE, I was 42 years old, and as I told my mom at the time, I was too old to be wearing a veil and I would look and feel absolutely STUPID.  My mom thought that all first-time brides should wear veils, including me.  Eventually, though, she came around and agreed with me.)

I don't have very many photos to share, because most of my wedding photos are from the wedding photographer, and I don't own a scanner to scan the photos.  (Now, a scanner would make a GREAT anniversary gift!  Oh Honey.....)  Anyway,  I did the next best thing and called Leanne this morning to see what photos she had from the wedding.  Again, most of what she had were professional photos and no scanner to scan the photos.  She managed to find two photos.  Here's what I got:

1) Our feet.  Actually, the feet belong to me, CT, Katie, Phil Guy and Leanne.  And yes, white gym shoes.  For the record, I did wear a lovely pair of high heels during the ceremony, but I wisely changed into brand new gym shoes after the ceremony.  We took this photo right after the ceremony as we were leaving the church.  It is a classic, classic photo.

2) Me and CT (others cropped out of the photo.)  Not the most flattering photo of me with my neck turned, so I took a picture of the cover of our wedding album... here it is

We've had the best five years together, and I've never been happier.  It's so very hard to remember my life pre-CT.  It seems like he's always been part of my life.  CT is truly a good man, with the best heart of anyone I know.  I'm one very lucky gal.  Everyone should have their own CT, and I hope you found yours.  

So, to my beloved CT... Happy Anniversary Honey, I love you!  I hope we have at least 50 more!  Now, about that scanner...

Monday, November 1, 2010

Our Protector

Yesterday we had another great Halloween, spent with family and friends at Leanne's house.  Here are just a few family photos (CT, Katie, Ella, me, and Leanne).  Unfortunately, I did not take very many pictures yesterday, but here goes:

Since we were gone from our house during trick-or-treating hours, we left a big bowl of candy on a table by the front door, with a note inviting the visitors to take some candy.   We've done this the last several years, and I must say that the trick-or-treaters that come to our house are very polite - we've never had a problem with pumpkins being smashed outside, or the candy bowl being taken, etc.  In fact, there are always a few pieces of candy remaining in the bowl when we return (not many pieces, but still a few).  This year was no exception, but for some reason, CT thought we needed a "protector" to watch over our house while we were gone yesterday.  Here is a photo of our protector for the evening:

Yes, this is a picture of the outside of our living room window, and yes, that would be Captain Jean-Luc Picard from the television series "Star Trek".  CT inherited Jean-Luc from Leanne's father-in-law, RW.  Over the summer, RW had a big garage sale and when we stopped by his house, CT stumbled upon Jean-Luc.  RW was all too happy to give Jean-Luc a good home, and said to CT, "Take it - it's yours!"  CT thought he just won the lottery.

So, not only did Jean-Luc come to a good home, he was put to good use as our protector.  And all was well at our house on Halloween.