Tag Archives: weather

Three Nights Before Christmas

Three nights before Christmas and all over town, there is much to be done and so many sounds…

1.  Christmas with my family is pretty loud.

Christmas at our house was like a Donny and Marie TV Special” (who said that?). 

That cracks me up because it is like that for us, too.  Rare is the quiet tree-lit silent night, or a room full of heavenly peace for pondering and reflecting.  Even now, as I write this (on Monday night to be posted on Tuesday), it is late.    And yet, the rooms are brightly shining and daughters have materials and supplies spread everywhere, working on Christmas projects and finishing last-minute gifts.  They tease and cajole.  They drink coffee and break out into song, filling the air with movie quotes and remembrances in a thoroughly unpredictable rhythm.  Just now they are singing selections from the musical “Oklahoma,” for what reason, I do not know.  I’d like to tell them to go to their rooms and get to sleep, but am reminded they are here now by choice, a gift to me, something I treasure.  Let the madness remain.

taras-dec-012 taras-dec-014

2.  I really do not like to shop.  But at this point, I have no choice.

I power-shopped for more than 10 hours Monday.  {sigh} I organized each person’s list according to every different retail establishment I would need to hit.  I mapped out a plan, gathered coupons and those “free money” cards I have collected from said establishments (like $10 off a $25 purchase at JCP, $10 off any purchase at Kohls!) into a folder.  I made sure to have my Starbucks giftcards for needed strength (did you know there is a company-wide shortage of caramel due to the popularity of the new Caramel Brulee Latte??!?) and most importantly, dedicated myself to having a good hair day because when you are going from morning to night, not having to worry about hair in imperative.  Then I told Dave: this isn’t a pleasure trip, you know.  The objective is to cross things off my list: quickly.

Several of my girls have asked for vintage/antique-type things so I added 3 thrift stores to my list, all within a short get-it-done radius.  When we arrived at the first one and I leapt from the car with notebook and pen in hand and started bounding toward the door at break-neck speed, Dave commented, “There.  See, honey?  This store was created just for you.”  For the big sign at the entrance read:  ARC Thrift Store ~ Shopping with a Purpose. 

Yes, I am a purpose-driven shopper. 

taras-dec-015 taras-dec-019

3.  I will continue to complain about the weather.

It was too stinking hot.  It didn’t feel  like Christmas with the weather in the 50’s, which is seriously impeding my glorious songs of old.  But today, the temp has dropped!  Here is what I want:  Maybe the low 40’s with some big pretty snowflakes falling, but not on the streets-just along the sides so everything looks pretty and children can build men…and women.  And just cool enough so you can wear the cute hat and adorable scarf set some one has given you (along with the coordinating fingerless gloves), but you don’t really need bulky coats.  You know-cool enough that you’d look all New-England-wintry and Christmas-card-ish if you made a quick stop and took a few spins around the ice-skating rink while you were bustling about shopping, but not so cold no one can recognize you due to the outerwear overkill when, if you should fall, you would not, in fact, be able to get back up.  Is this really too much to ask for???

taras-dec-018 taras-dec-021

Three movies that are not usually considered Christmas movies, but have great Christmas scenes in them:

[1] Funny Farm with Chevy Chase. [2]  About a Boy with Hugh Grant and [3] While You Were Sleeping with Sandra Bullock (omygosh, I LOVE this movie!).

taras-dec-020 taras-dec-024

Three nights before Christmas, 3 French Hens, Three Wise Men, and three wishes from me to you:  peace, joy and love!

pictured: DP, Tara and Hunter’s tree farm adventure a couple of weeks ago. 

Half Baked

It was Christmas baking day!  It was a mad flurry of flour and sugar, creamery butter and sprinkles. 


We had sent 63+ e-mails back and forth over the past two weeks (this may or may not be an exaggeration) in anticipation of Baking Day.  This is why I now know that approximately half of our concoctions are actually not baked at all.  It is amazing how many of the things we like are dipped in melted chocolate or blended and rolled into balls or cooked on a stove top before adding a certain snap, crackle and pop ingredient to a non-bake cookie.

Better-than-Girl-Scout “Thin-mints”/chocolate-dipped pretzels/peanut-butter balls/caramel cookies (can you possibly go wrong with a cookie that encases a Rolo and is topped with bits of Heath Bar??)/caramel popcorn balls/cookies-on-sticks/butter cookies/raspberry ribbons/decorated sugar cookies/peanut brittle (we always and ever have to throw the first unsuccessful batch out-what is up with that??)/Strawberries (which actually aren’t at all – not even in flavor)/royal icing/butter-cream icing/peanut blossoms-with-kisses-instead/almond bark/chocolate chips of every persuasion/peppermint/vanilla/almond/mini-cheesecakes/brownie assortments – all these and more threaten to throw us all into sugar shock.


Sadly, it was a balmy 108-degrees outside Saturday (another possible exaggeration), so we were shedding layers and had the doors and windows opened wide, drinking ice water like the dog days of summer.


In the end, even though my grandfather was a baker extraordinaire and owned a bakery for many years, and even though my other grandpa’s last name was “Baker,”  I don’t think I am one and I believe only 1 1/2 of my girls actually are bakers.  Maybe next year, we’ll let the 1 1/2 of them have a pre-baking day to really bake and we’ll have a non-baking Baking Day to eat their stuff and roll our tidbits in chocolate and that will be better.


Ended the day with the guys and kiddos joining us for the biggest pot of chicken and dumplings I have ever made in my life, because you know, we needed more flour and eggs. ;>[

Cup of coffee and some cookies, anyone?…Jeanie

NOTE TO SELF:  Get more Rubbermaid-pronto!

PICTURED (all thumbnails, click to enlarge): Top row ~ raspberry ribbons and other cookies; second row ~ some of the cookies in front of the homemade ornanament “memory” tree, the kids and Grandpa decorating cookies; third row ~ Gemma, Averi and Hunter with the biggest Santa in my collection; fourth row ~ Gav with Santa, niece, Elise with Averi and Stormie konks out after a long day of baking and fun.

Baby, it’s cold outside

Woke up to 14-degrees below zero today, but it may make it all the way up to the 11-degrees promised because of the sunshine.

Meanwhile, some one stole my husband’s beloved and treasured snow shovel (it is like 12 years old, but it was a goodie!) and he is in mourning.  Left on our porch, the thief knew a good thing when he saw it!


Iowa Girl

My “home” state has had a hard summer.   Most recently it has been in a pretty severe heat wave.  

In June, though, much of Iowa was flooded and was declared to be in a state of emergency.   This photo was sent by my old junior high friend, Lorri.   It depicts a highway just south of Mount   Vernon.   The damage done throughout the state has made it hard on city commuters and farmers alike.

Iowa takes a hit with comedians as being a little podunk or backwards, but it is a beautiful state where things grow easily  in the rich, black soil and summers are sweet.   Kids enjoy a good educational system and  chase lightening bugs in warm weather.   Corn on the cob, in the self-proclaimed “Corn State” is the sweetest you’ll find and I have lots of wonderful relatives who live there,  all city folk!  

I was born in Des Moines and lived there until I was 10.   Then we moved to Davenport for about 3 years, then on to Cedar Rapids, where I spent 8th and 9th grades and a couple of months  of 10th grade.   After I married Dave, we lived in Sioux City for 2 years.   So even though less than 18 years of my life total were spent  in Iowa and my parents and siblings haven’t lived there for more than 30 years, they were important ones for me.   Does that make it my home?   I last passed through there on my way to somewhere else in 1997.  

I read an apt description in an Oprah-recommended novel once, that when you move a lot, “home” isn’t a place, it is a collection of experiences and stories and people.   Where I am “from” sort of changes each time my parents move.   Even though I have never been to Springfield, MO that I recall, they just retired there, so I guess that is “home” now in some ways.   But deep in my heart, I am an “Iowa girl.”

I  wholly and truly love corn on the cob, too…Jeanie

NOTE TO SELF: Plan a trip to go back to Iowa.   Explore roots.   Remember.   Understand.