Monday, December 31, 2007

vacation is over -- a dose of reality! :)

Well, I am back home in the great north. It seems like vacation was over before it even began. And that is never a good thing. We were so busy the whole time we were away, and I think that contributed to it seemingly going by so quickly. But I got to spend Christmas with my family and see everyone and that is the most important thing!! I love my family so much -- everyone is unique, and yet there are so many similarities among us all. I am incredibly thankful to have a great relationship with each of my siblings and with my parents as well.

We spent Christmas morning at my older brother Andrew's house -- my parents were there, Andrew and Grace, Olivia, Matthew, and James and me, of course. A cozy family Christmas. I'm not even sure what everyone all got since there was such a frenzy of handing out gifts and a flurry of wrapping paper as the gifts were torn into. :) Later in the afternoon, we all trekked to my aunt's house for Christmas dinner, which was amazingly yummy. It was actually kind of an odd thing to be spending time with them at all, since we never really have much at all in the past. But it was really good that we went -- it was very important to be there for them since my aunt and uncle are in the midst of divorcing after almost 30 years married. None of them are Christians, and it is a really sad thing. My dad had the opportunity to witness a lot, as this time of hurt in her life has made my aunt so much more open to these things. We are praying for all of them!!

We had to do without the craziness of Boxing Day this year since we weren't in Canada!! I didn't miss it too much....

The rest of the time was spent in church, at various Christmas programs, hanging out, eating good PA food (which I miss so much!), shopping, playing games, dropping off or picking up people at the airport, trying to find our way around the new town my parents live in now, and being together. I can't wait until the next time.

We both did end up getting a cold while we were there, mainly toward the end. Both of us were pretty miserable by the time we got home, but fortunately, we both had a day off, which we used to sleep and recuperate. Today, I am feeling a lot better!!

And now the craziness of the week begins. James went back to school for his last week, and I am working a lot of shifts and trying to get up the energy to do things around here. Tomorrow is the Christmas get-together at my in-laws -- I will have to represent both myself and James, seeing as he can't come. Everyone has drawn a name and purchased or made a gift -- I can't wait to find out who has my name!! Even with my begging and pleading and prodding, I haven't figured it out, although I have it narrowed down quite a bit. :) James' grad is on Friday, and then he can come home for good. I say it's about time! I was starting to feel like I was single again. :)

Lots of things happening this week, but for now, I'm not going to think about it, and go ring in the New Year with some friends. I probably shouldn't stay up too late, seeing as I have to be at work by 7am, but I have been known to do foolish things in the past. :-D Ah well, sleep is overrated. Happy 2008, everybody!!!

Friday, December 21, 2007

an awesome recipe for Christmas or anytime!

Since I have been making so much of this lately, I thought I would share the recipe. It's super easy and super yummy and super addicting......everything a good recipe should be! :) I hope you enjoy it if you try it. I have grown up eating this at almost all church functions and dessert feasts, thanks to an old family friend from church. Now I make it for myself and others.

Mock Peanut Brittle

Ingredients needed:
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 sticks butter (3/4 cup)
plain soda crackers, about 1 1/2 sleeves
1 bag peanut butter morsels (milk chocolate or butterscotch work too)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Line a shallow baking pan/cookie sheet with edges with aluminum foil. Spray evenly with non-stick cooking spray. Line the pan with crackers, fill to edges. It's all right if they overlap.

In a medium saucepan, melt butter and brown sugar together over low heat. Stir frequently until smooth. Bring just to a boil and then remove from heat. Pour evenly over crackers. Spread over crackers until all are coated.

Bake in preheated oven for 5 minutes.

Remove from oven. Immediately sprinkle morsels liberally all over the crackers, as evenly as possible. After 2-3 minutes, when the morsels have started to melt, completely spread them out over the brown sugar mixture.

When the pan is no longer hot to the touch, place in refrigerator until completely cool, about 20-30 minutes. Remove from pan and break into bite-size pieces. Store in covered airtight container.

Lastly, enjoy!!!

Let me know if you try it. It seriously is yummy!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

the finishing touches

I'll be home for Christmas this year and not only in my dreams! I haven't been officially home for Christmas since before I was married, so I am particularly excited to be able to go this year. I am even more excited that Jamie is going to be able to go too -- shockingly enough, the OPP decided to give him a week off from school. (They aren't known for their generosity in this area....)

And so, we leave on Saturday! Before that, however, there is much to be done!!! I have a to-do list the length of my left arm, but I am slowly being able to cross things off. Yesterday, I worked on baking and wrapping presents. Today, I am focusing on cleaning the house and doing laundry and dishes and such so that the house is presentable while we are gone and when we come back. Tomorrow, I will finish up any last-minute things and do the packing. I am glad to have a plan -- it has been somewhat of a challenge finishing everything and working overnights at the same time.

And tomorrow night, I get to do one of my favorite things of the Christmas season -- caroling!!! I am going with a bunch of people from my church. There is just something about standing out in the cold, decked out in toques, mittens, and scarves, singing about the birth of our dear Lord. It makes me very emotional and very happy and very thankful that God loved us so much to send us His very own Son. I love Christmas!

Ok, gotta get back to the list......

Friday, December 14, 2007

a feeling of emptiness...

I juggled an armful of packages and a huge stack of Christmas cards as I maneuvered my way up the icy steps of the post office. My arms were full of joy and cheer, ready to make its way around the world. I sent out two boxes and about 35-40 cards, half to Canada and half to the good old USA. The lady at the post office hardly seemed to notice the pretty wrapping paper I had used, and the cute Christmas stickers I had put on the envelopes. She shrugged in annoyance when I asked if I could have Christmas stamps to put on the cards. And then said "your total is $54.46." Yikes. For that price I could buy a tank and a half of gas and hand-deliver most of them. :)

So, I handed over the money after holding a quick funeral for my diminishing bank account, and smiled brightly at the postal workers. They rolled their eyes and did not even so much as wish me a happy holiday. I got in the car with nothing in my hands, a gaping hole in my checking account, and not even the sound of "Merry Christmas" in my ears.

I felt.....empty. The post office for sure will take the Christmas spirit out of you! :)

P.S. Just kidding, I love Christmas and sending cards, just wish it didn't cost so much!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

I wish.....

....I was the kind of person who could just sign our names to a Christmas card, address the plain white envelope, and drop it in the mailbox with a Canadian flag stamp. But nooooo.

I have to write a personal message in each card. I tell myself this is b/c I care so much about the people I'm sending the cards to, but it's really probably half a "I-don't-want-them-to-think-I'm-a-jerk-and-just-sign-my-name" thing. :) That being said, after the card is safely in the envelope, I have to make sure it is very neatly addressed. I also like to add Christmas stickers and whatever "holiday" stamp they happen to be selling.

I really don't have OCD or any other disorder like that. If you saw the state of my kitchen, you would immediately agree. :) I'm just a perfectionist in SOME areas of life. Usually it's in silly areas that don't really matter.

My sister and I were talking about this a couple weeks ago (she and I are a lot alike). Both of us like to have things clean and neat, but neither of us likes the actually "doing it" part. :) Therefore, it gets put off a Anyways, we determined that is just how we're wired. Because, believe me, I (and she) have sat down and said steadfastly that I was going to be a neat freak and keep everything in the house amazingly clean, etc etc etc. And that resolution lasted all of 38 seconds, b/c, well, there's just so much other stuff in life to enjoy.

I am a firm believer in organized confusion. :) Neat clutter. As long as my house looks presentable to the human eye, I'm not going to worry if there is a dust bunny behind the sofa or an unwashed dish in the sink. But when it comes to Christmas cards, well, they'd just better be perfect! :)

Sunday, December 9, 2007

in heaven....

Well.....not really......but......

I am drinking savoring a cup of Tim Horton's apple cinnamon tea.......and it is one of the yummiest things I have ever tasted. As soon as I get a spare dollar, I'm right there in the drive-thru, ordering a cup of hot steamy goodness. I'm more of a Starbucks girl myself, but this stuff is unbeatable. :) Sitting here drinking my Tim Horton's and wearing a winter toque, one might almost think I was (gasp) Canadian!! :)

Except, well.......I'm not! But I sure enjoy their tea. :D

pics from my trip to Oregon :)

a pic from the Singing Christmas Tree performance we went to
my niece Gabi (22 months)
my one and only nephew David (7 months)
me and my (older) sister Jeanette :)

Thursday, December 6, 2007

new winner!!!

Since my original winner of the giveaway did not respond in the allotted time, and I had no way of contacting her, I have picked a new name out of the hat!!! Second chances, second chances......

The new winner of the Christmas package is -- Chyrll!!

Please comment on this post or email me through my profile. :) Congratulations!! (I'll email you or comment you tomorrow, I just don't have the time right now.....)

Julie, I will send yours out as soon as I receive Chyrll's mailing information.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

winner, where are you?

Pwwbear, you have one more day to respond to let me know your address so I can send your goodies! Your profile is blank, and there is no way to contact you on there. So, I am begging you, please log on and check my blog and see that you have WON!!!

Sadly, if I do not hear from you by 7pm EST on December 6 (that's tomorrow), I will have to pick another name to be the winner. I still have a hatful of names......

All the rest of you who entered and didn't win, you might get a second chance!!! Cross your fingers.....

Pwwbear, where are you?


What? It's 7:15 in the morning and I'm happy? What's going on here? :)

I just got home from work (I work overnights) and picked up the mail from yesterday. In it was our new car insurance policy. And let me just say, hallelujah for my husband turning 25 this year, b/c it has made a HUGE difference in what we are paying to insure the car!!

And that is definitely something to be happy about, even though it's early and cold and snowy and slippery.......

Now the question is......what shall I do with the money we'll be saving? LOL!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Christmas music!!

I stayed up late last night working on loading up my iPod with Christmas tunes!!! Well, loading it was definitely the shortest part -- before that, I was importing lots of CDs and other music from my hard drive and even downloading a few new tunes for the season. I got a couple CDs when I was in Oregon too -- we went to an awesome live performance called the Singing Christmas Tree.

All this to say that I now have my tiny iPod filled with 164 Christmas carols and songs for hours and hours of great listening!! I think the iPod is the most amazing invention -- now I don't have to carry CDs around with me everywhere. I can even plug it into the tape deck in the car and listen that way. There are very few places I go without my shuffle.

One of my very favorite Christmas carols that you don't hear too often is "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day." I was just researching it a little bit the other day and found the amazing story behind the writing of it. You can read about it here. I have three versions of it in my music library -- Steven Curtis Chapman, MercyMe, and Jars of Clay -- and they are all so amazing I can't decide which one is the best. :)

There is so much amazing Christmas music out there!! Go buy yourself a couple of CDs or download some of your favorites. I think the music of Christmas is definitely my favorite part of the season.

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is NOT DEAD; nor doth He sleep!
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!"
---words by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow---

So what's your favorite Christmas carol or song? :)

Monday, December 3, 2007

my new year's resolution -- a bit early :)

I don't even generally make New Year's resolutions -- probably b/c I am not an overly ambitious person and get discouraged and depressed when it is July and I haven't even started on something I resolved to do. Haha, okay, so maybe I'm just lazy.

Anyways, there is something I am planning on doing sometime early in the New Year of 2008. I have wanted to do this for a long time; however, there has always been something getting in the way. But....there shouldn't be this time. resolution is......I am going to cut my hair short and donate it to a charitable organization like Locks of Love!! I am so excited about it. Before, my hair was either too short, or I had colored it or put highlights in it or whatever. But now I should have enough and I can go back to short, wash-and-wear hair.

So stay posted for news of the haircut. I'm thinking January or February sometime -- I need a few of my layers to grow a little longer. Yay -- I am getting excited just thinking about it!!!

P.S. -- I am still waiting to hear from the winner of my Christmas giveaway -- so if you go by the name of PWWBEAR, give me a shout. I have heard from the runner-up so far. :)

Saturday, December 1, 2007

and the winner is.....

The long-awaited post is here, for those of you who have been checking every hour......haha, just kidding. :)

I have decided to pick TWO winners. Aren't I great? There will be one winner who wins the original package of stuff, and then one runner-up who will receive a smaller package -- just cuz I feel like it! :D Christmas certainly puts one in the spirit of giving.

Okay, here ya go -- congrats to those who won, and sorry to those who didn't. I hope everyone will come back and visit my blog again, and I shall visit all of yours. I put all the entries in my husband's police hat, shook them up, and pulled out these two lucky names.

Winner of the big original Christmas package is pwwbear.

Second winner/runner-up/consolation prize/whatever is jewelshud.

So, here's what ya gotta do if you're a winner -- leave a comment on this post, and tell me a way to get in touch with you. Or you can message me -- click the link on my profile page. Whatever you do, make sure to contact me within the next 5 days -- deadline is December 6 at 7pm EST. If I have not heard from you by that time, I will draw another winner(s).

Thanks for entering, everyone!! I hope to do something similar to this again soon!!!