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Monday, March 2, 2015
Christmas Prep and 2013-Todd's Brisket-When The Crayon's Quit-Ohio in October
It is 5:59 Central Standard Time and all is well! I am inside my house with Christmas lights around the room and 7 foot slenderized Christmas tree with all the toppings. My daughter and I put up the lights around the room on Sunday evening. I know it is late for most people but this is usually the way it goes in my house. When I was growing up, my mom would have us all decorate and put up the tree on my sister's birthday every year. My sister's birthday falls on December 21st and it was close enough for Christmas. I remember enjoying putting up the Christmas tree, which was a real tree, every year. My mom would patiently untangle all the different Christmas tree lights that she had accumulated for many years. I especially like the big multicolored bulbs and others that looked like they were bubbling up some kind of concoction. Blinking lights were a must. My mom always put on the lights and we put on the ornaments, icicles and the pretty garland. Then my dear mother would put down some type of white sheet and put sparkly cotton to decorate underneath the Christmas tree. She had these little Christmas villages that she would create with houses, a church and a frozen pond with Santa Clause gliding over it. Next to the village was the reason for the season-Jesus in the manger. This Nativity scene was so serene with the Blessed Mother and Saint Joseph. Jesus was laying in the manger with little farm animals close by and the Three Kings of Orient are. There was an angel above this with a light shining on it all. I loved to gaze at the lights and look down beneath the tree. My imagination would take hold as everything below was enacted.
Now, I do the same thing. I take the time to put up the tree. Now it is artificial due to my allergies. I have, for many years, taken the hard task of untangling the Christmas tree lights. Now that my beautiful daughter is older, she has taken the reign of putting up the tree, with my assistance and untangling the lights. We work together as a team to do this. We then decorate the tree with the ornaments, garland and then top it with a Christmas round star. The Nativity Scene is place on another table because my cats like batting around the three wise men and have broken off the heads of some camels. I also have included the little village from the dollar store. I wish I could replicate the Santa scene but haven't found a Santa that would work. It is quite fun doing this with my daughter. She always gets me up to do it when I would rather just procrastinate a little longer. But hey, we got it done this year before Christmas Eve.
Here are some photos of the scenes in my house. These were taken before we opened up our presents. Another tradition. We always open up our presents on Christmas Eve, right after it gets dark. Then we go to Christmas Mass on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. I prefer Midnight Mass but sometimes it gets a little too cold for me to venture out that late. I love the memories associated with Midnight Mass, as that is what my family would do every Christmas. We would open our presents around 9ish and then go to Midnight Mass. My cousins and aunts and uncles would also go and then join up at my house to celebrate together into the wee hours of the morning. I remember my house being full of Christmas joy, baked ham, scalloped potatoes, baked beans and pickles. We played and played and played with our games and toys until we fell asleep. That was Christmas to me. I try to replicate that somewhat with my daughter and my sister's family. I cherish the memories made and shared every year.
Notice Sandy ready to wreak some havoc on the presents.
Sammy loves Christmas too!
I hope that everyone has a very Merry Christmas, however your family celebrates it or not. To me, Christmas is about the Christ Child and family. So have a very Merry Feliz Navidad from Texas y'all!
I am officially, well almost, officially ready for the holidays. I did most of my shopping online this year and all of the presents are accounted for. I still, though, have an itching to buy more, now that I have time to actually go out and do so, and not have to worry about work. I get this way every year. Now that I have the time and energy to get "into the Christmas spirit", there's not much left at Target or Walmart to write home about. My tree is still in the garage. Every year I dream of buying a new artificial one. The one I have is too thin and I need a more robust tree so I can use the blinky and multicolored lights and bulbs that I have collected, throughout the years. But since most people bought up the good ones, during black Friday, the only trees left are the short stubby kind. Target has had the number 24 trees on sale for 4 weeks now. There are no other trees above 4 and 1/2 feet tall number 24's. I guess I won't have any hopes of buying a nice one after Christmas, since the good ones have been long gone.
I would have loved to have bought a 7 1/2 footer with some width. I don't go out on black Friday until most people have called it a day. I hate huge crowds and hoards of people. I can't stand to wait in line for more than seven minutes. So now is when I like to pop in the stores and see the last minute people, my kinda people shop and shop some more. Like I said, I prefer to do my shopping on line and Amazon tends to be my best friend. There are no crowds and people coughing from all directions. There are no children crying at the tops of their lungs either or crazed lunatics fighting over X boxes and tripping over dvds players and laptops. Nope. That is not my kinda scene. I like to go into Target or JCPenny's and actually walk down the isles without saying, "Excuse me ma'am, sir. Oops! I am sorry. I didn't mean to hit you in the ribs with my purse!" Not my kind of scene at all. I like to have some personal space and breathing room. That is what I find in the late evenings. The lines aren't that bad. Five minutes tops is what I had to wait today. Not too shabby at all. Easy breezy.
This time of year, after I have brought in a number of gifts from the UPS or FedEx deliveries, I still have an itching to buy more. I know I have enough but I still want to go out and see what is left over and see if there are a few good deals that might be alive and well. I found a few today and want to venture out until Christmas Eve. I will do this little by little. Making these little trips makes me want to go to lunch at the Egg and I and IHOP (not at the same time.) Visiting Starbucks a few times for the holiday Peppermint Mochas and holiday cake pops will also be on my list of to do's. After spending this semester running around like a chicken with severe neck wounds, I want to pace this-- my way. Slow and steady does it for me. Slow, slow and rather steady. Sip some Peppermint Mocha and then shop. Eat some ranch potatoes with toast and some iced tea and then shop a little more. My kind of pace-slow and steady does it every time-this time of year. Got to love it!
So now I must ponder where I am going to put up my tree. I have to make some moves in the living room and get out my Rubbermaid tub of lights and bulbs from Christmases' past. Then the extra icicles lights go up and around the walls of my living room, into the hallway and into my other rooms. I love to look at the lights at night. My cats will act all crazy when they see the bulbs and the potential disaster that they long to create. My youngest cat, The Orange Terror, as my daughter lovingly calls her, has been known to knock off the beautiful glass ornaments, as she slowly climbs up the center of the tree. She has knocked down the tree the last three Christmases. Hence that is another reason to get a more robust tree. I would think that the lower center of gravity would help stabilize the Terror's assaults and leave it standing up for at least one Christmas.
So this is the time of year that I love the most. It just takes me some time to get there. Time to get enough energy and Christmas spirit to decorate and make final preps for December 24th and 25th. It is the most wonderful time of year, in case you didn't know. Andy Williams got it right, for sure!
I have to declare that every December I get to eat the world's best brisket. I am not using any such thing as hyperbole. After sampling Todd Lee's December luncheon brisket, that my friend Alana always blesses us with, I won't eat at any other establishment. Nope! I prefer to wait a whole year, to savor Todd's best brisket ever. When I walk in the room, the aroma lifts me to the moon and back. Then Alana always allows me try a little, before the crowd arrives. It is just enough to hold me over, until I get to fill my plate with Todd's tantalizingly exceptional brisket. No one would really need to bring anything else to accompany this delicious delight. I could just eat the brisket and be happy for 364 more days. I kid you not! It is to die for and to slap your mama upside the head.(Don't try this at home or any where for that matter!) But you could try some of Todd's finest. Everyone who comes to the luncheon always asks about the brisket. That is the first thing on everyone's minds. " Is Alana bringing the brisket again?" is the first question out of everyone's mouth, when the date is established for the luncheon. I begged the organizer to make sure I got on the invited list this year. I switched departments and couldn't fathom December without the brisket. The sole reason for that? The company? Yes. The conversaton? Yes. The brisket? The only reason that matters! Todd's brisket is, by far, the best in Houston. You can book it! No other can and will compare. Below are some photos of his masterpiece! If only you could just taste it from this blog and try it for yourself! Enjoy!
I had participated in a "Secret Santa" project with my wonderful colleagues. We do this every year and give out our presents during a nice luncheon. I chose the name of one of my colleagues that I had chosen the previous year. Last year she wanted Ishand this year she wanted another book. One of her requests is that another colleague read this book aloud to her, since that same colleague introduced this cute and adorable book. So I thought about how I could honor her request, but with a slight twist. I thought that I would have multiple people from the department read it to her, but digitally. Yesterday I was able to ask some really willing individuals to come forward and lend me their voice, expression and wonderful interpretation of each page. It turned out spectacularly well, if I don't say so my self. I wanted to use Camtasia so that I could play around with some new tools. I wanted to use the little video clips, along with photos of the pages of the book simultaneously. This is my first attempt at doing this and has opened up many new ideas for future projects. I am proud of this production. As I went through this, I thought of new ways to do this by adding voices as the end and maybe so music to future projects. Camtasia is so much fun to use now. Who would have thought that I would have learned some of it's features by now. I remember trying it out on 30 day trial last Feb/March and feeling terribly overwhelmed by it all. Watching the tutorials that they provided was of no help. It only re-emphasized the fact that this was so above my head and pay scale. After having had a private tutorials with a friend and then another a little while later, I have ventured out totally into this domain with lots of confidence! That is why I am so convinced that learning is such a social act. Claudia and Karen helped me actually be empowered to use this tool! I love the Zoom and Pan tool abd adding more media in different spots. Love the transitions too! Thanks ladies!
Here is the video that I made yesterday. It was a blast making this video with Alana, Donna H, Martha, Donna B, Lynette, Marquita, Ann, Keith, and Cathy! Thank you so much! The video stands out because of all of you. Fun! Fun! Fun! I was overjoyed when I saw the look on Ro's face! She loved it and said it was a special Christmas present. Mission accomplished!
I am sharing this video in hopes that it might inspire more ideas for future endeavors in the creativity of teachers and children. I know for me, ideas are popping everywhere right now! Trust the process baby!
I saw that I need 11 more posts to reach a goal of 400. I expected to surpass that number by now, but that is not my reality, at this moment. Nope, I have been an unwilling participant in some dastardly drama in my life. This drama has taken away my focus from writing on this blog to other uninvited pursuits. I went to the dentist to get my temporary crown adjusted and learned that my constant and burdensome tooth pain is related to my poor, poor, root canalled molar. It seems that the other teeth, close to molar #31, are "sympathetic" to the molar's traumatic experiences last week. Thus, the dentist proceeded to let me know, that the additional pain that I have been feeling, is due to molar sympathies. So much to learn! Who would have thought that molars could be so understanding and empathetic to other molar pain? Believe it or not, that is exactly the torturous nightmare that I have endured, these past three weeks. Molar pain accompanied by molar condolences. Crazy, right? Sympathies.
I tried to drink some coffee from McDonalds this very morning. I didn't drink it right out of the drive through. I waited about 40 minutes, to let it cool down. When I sipped my first sip of coffee, those sympathetic teeth started wailing and moaning and boy did I feel it. I thought, "No, not now! One root canal and crown is enough! Right before Christmas? Really?" The root canal and subsequent crown are quite expensive, even with insurance. I heard we only get an allowance of 1,500 for the year. If that would be the case, then I am hoping that the other molars will be sympathetic to my pocket book and leave me alone!
So I walked into the dentist office wondering how I was going to afford another crown and root canal. I had accepted the fact that this holiday would cost me quite a lot of money. I nervously sat in the white observation chair, waiting to hear the worst. The old, grey haired, and soft spoken dentist took x-rays of my upper sympathetic molars and didn't find any evidence that they had any serious problems. Thank the Good Lord! He asked me to bite down on this blue paper, then watched my bite and then used the mirrored instrument to check out the back molar. He then drilled on the tooth that held the temporary molar. I thought it would hurt and braced for impact by pinching my fingers together, to try to numb the pain in my mouth. I know. Yes, I know. It doesn't make much sense, but that is what I do when I have to get a shot or give blood. I also use the technique of biting my lip, until it almost bleeds, on those needle-ey occasions. It seems to calm me down some. Well, this time there was no pain! I knew there couldn't be since the endontist (I hope I spelled that correctly) told me he was going to cut the nerve during the root canal. He doesn't lie. Ever since the root canal, I haven't had that horrible pain from drinking iced tea. I have yet to even try any ice cream though. I cringe at the thought. Maybe after I get my permanent crown, everything has gone as it is supposed to, and my other nosy teeth stop acting so, so, pathetic, then I might try some yogurt or even ice creme. Right now, I am not eating Gerber's baby food or living off Ensure, like my mom has suggested. No, I am eating sandwiches with no complicated lettuce, bell peppers, pickles or even cucumbers. These great veggies tend to be cold, too stinking cold. I now go for the Plain Jane menu. When I go to Murphy's or Subway, I go for the melts of tuna or the BMT. It is easy now. Mayo with black olives and a side of broccoli and cheese soup.
We will see how tonight and tomorrow goes. I have noticed more comfort in my jaw, now that the dentist drilled the temporary crown. I hope tomorrow it will be perfect. My upper molar has calmed down some too, but not entirely. This molar hurt a little when I breathed in some cold Houston air. It will take time. If it's not better by tomorrow, then off to the dentist I must go, for more drilling.
I have been rudely adjusted this December. My bank account has been unjustly overhauled, just in time for Christmas. Now all I want for Christmas is my two back teeth....my two back teeth.. my two back teeth to behave! I only wish the guy from up North ( I don't mean Michigan) but Santa Clause, A.K.A. Saint Nick, is actually listening. Ya know, I have been pretty good this year. Hey, Santa, if you are listening, can give this poor girl a break? Calm down my emotional teeth! I don't want new teeth, just quiet, pacific teeth! Sympathic indeed!