Thursday, December 31, 2015

New Years Eve

Tonight we are meeting friends at Dos Locos for a late dinner (9:00).  This will be our 3rd year in a row spending New Year's Eve there.  Unlike many restaurants that have special menus, a live band, and 'free' champagne toast for $100 per person, we like being able to order off the regular menu (at regular prices) and ringing in the new year with a champagne toast, noise makers, party hats, and good friends.  This year it will be Steven & Thad and Marty & John joining us.
Thanks to Sean for this adorable photo!

Here is a re-post of what I believe to be a helpful observation regarding new year's resolutions.  Enjoy!

A common New Years Eve custom (in the US at least) is to make New Years resolutions.  Many people find New Year's resolutions to be worthless, since most are not resolutions at all, but rather, wishful intentions that are forgotten within a week. Here are the top 10 most frequent New Year's resolutions:

  1. Diet
  2. Quit smoking
  3. Exercise
  4. Quit drinking
  5. Quit procrastinating
  6. Save money
  7. Go to church
  8. Wake up early
  9. Quit cursing
  10. Read the newspaper
I, on the other hand, like to make a few resolutions each year that I really work to achieve. For any chance at success one's resolutions must be realistic and measurable.  How else will you know for sure that you've accomplished them?

"Diet" is not a good resolution because there is no way to measure it.  If you loose 1 lb have you accomplished your resolution?  Technically, perhaps but "Loose 15 lbs" is a better resolution because its realistic and measurable.   

"Stop procrastinating" is not a good resolution, as there is no real way to measure whether or not you've done this.  Being more specific such as "do laundry every Sunday" or "clean the fridge on the 1st of each month" are examples of how you will stop procrastinating that you can measure.

"Save money" is not specific enough.  If you want to have $5K more in your savings account, make that your resolution.  If you want to go to Hawaii on vacation and you think it will cost you $5K, your resolution should be "Save $5K for Hawaii vacation".

One year my resolution was to entertain on a regular basis. Spouse & I picked a weekend in every month and invited friends over for dinner both Fri and Sat nights. The dinners were often simple but we had a LOT of fun. 

Another year my resolution was to sort, throw away, organize and file several bags/boxes of paperwork (ie: bank statements, paystubs, real estate documents, insurance documents, etc.) before April 15 when tax filings were due. What a relief it was to finally accomplish this!

So while you wait for the clock to strike midnight tonight and you ring in the new year with a toast, give some thought to a few realistic, measurable, new years resolutions and then work to accomplish them.

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Holiday highlights

All things considered we had a great Christmas.  In some ways it was the best Christmas because it felt the most relaxed due to our early online shopping, early tree trimming, and wrapping done a week in advance.  It was kind of a weird Christmas because of the weather.  While it rarely snows here on Christmas, its usually in the 30s or 40s.  This year Christmas eve and Christmas day it was in the 70s!!  Unfortunately it also rained so we couldn't really enjoy being outside during the warmer than usual temps.

Since "a picture is worth a thousand words" I'll recap my holiday mostly with pictures.

Wed morning we packed up the dogs and gifts and headed to Spouse's mom's house in Northern VA.  It rained the entire way.  We visited with her; Spouse's sister Mary came over for a while, and then we met up with our dear friends for our annual Christmas gathering.
George, Spouse's mom, Spouse
Hugh, Kelly, Kerry modeling their new hats
Carl and Lisa, modeling her new hat with the gloves still attached!
Me and Carl

Our wacky group photo
We had our traditional menu of pizza and hippie rolls, of course.  We had such a good time that the 2 hours just seemed to fly by!

Thurs morning after we had a light breakfast with Spouse's mom and then drove west about an hour to visit my cousin, Inez.  She and her husband Steve live in a 230 year old stone house that's just as cozy as can be.  Typically we love to visit them on Christmas eve and sit by the fire with Christmas music in the background and talk.  This year there was no fire since it was 70+ degrees, but we still enjoyed lunch with them and 2 of their kids who stopped in.  I can't believe I didn't take any pictures.

That evening Spouse & I met up with much of his family at his sister's house to celebrate his mom's 86th birthday.  Then menu consisted of roasted pulled pork with rolls, artichoke dip, queso dip, homemade crab egg rolls, carrots and hummus, barbecued meatballs, and assorted cookies, pies, and brownies.  Oh, and a birthday cake.
The birthday cake (made my our sister-in-law Karen) has "16" instead of "86" because Spouse's mom is a little vain.
Spouse's mom, Gabriella, Randy, Anna
Nephew Eric's clothing illustrates the weirdly warm weather
The dessert table.  The peanut blossom cookies are my favorite!
Nephew David taking a break from all the excitement
Christmas morning I made a breakfast casserole.  It was very easy and tasty.  Combine frozen hash browns and pre-cooked sausage links (cut into pieces) in a greased baking dish.  Sprinkle with grated cheese.  Whip 10 eggs and 1/2 cup of milk together and season with salt and pepper, then pour over the hash brown mixture and bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes.
breakfast casserole
Around noon Spouse's sister Mary and nephews David & Eric came over for a short visit and to pick up some items.  Then I picked up my aunt Mary and brought her back to Spouse's mom's house where we exchanged gifts with her and visited until it was time for Christmas dinner.  Then we all met up at Spouse's sister Mary's house.  The menu consisted of stuffed shells, chicken parmigiana, rigatoni with meatballs and sausage, salad, baked chicken, brussel sprouts, green beans, and sweet potato shuffle.
Selfie in front of sister Mary's Christmas tree
Nephews David and Eric with Spouse
Aunt Mary being silly and me
Sister Mary with granddaughter Gabriella
David, Gabriella and Eric on the floor experimenting with the new selfie stick
Aunt Mary's famous hummingbird cake - my all time favorite cake
Sat morning after breakfast casserole leftovers Spouse & I packed up our stuff and headed home to DE.  We had dinner at Steven & Thad's house (Christmas day leftovers) and then I went to the Blue Moon for the final Christmas Legends performance.

Sun we had breakfast and took Big Ella out for some exercise.  It was almost 70 degrees again so we went for an extra long drive with all 4 windows down.  It was a great way to finish up a long holiday weekend.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas, Darling

I post this song here each year on Christmas eve.  Its my all-time favorite Christmas song, and this year more than most its lyrics about everything being done by Christmas eve really resonates with me. 

Greeting cards have all been sent, the Christmas rush is through
But I still have one wish to make, a special one for you.
Merry Christmas Darling, we're apart that's true
But I can dream and in my dreams I'm Christmasing with you.
Holidays are joyful, there's always something new
But everyday's a holiday when I'm near to you.
The lights on my tree, I wish you could see, I wish it every day.
Logs on the fire fill me with desire to see you and to say
That I wish you Merry Christmas, Happy New Year too
I've just one wish on this Christmas eve:  I wish I were with you.
The logs on the fire fill me with desire to see you and to say
That I wish you Merry Christmas.  Happy New Year too
I've just one wish on this Christmas eve:  I wish I were with you.
I wish I were with you.

I wish you all a wonderful holiday, however you celebrate it.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Beardy boy

Is this guy perfection or what?!?!  Great muscles, nice chest hair, handsome face, neatly trimmed beard, great hair cut - he's the whole package in my opinion.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Weekend highlights

So Sat I went back to work, after being home sick for 2 days.  Things at work are pretty quiet now so it was an easy day.  That evening Spouse & I went to Joe P's big holiday party which was a lot of fun.
As I was chatting with folks I began to notice that my voice was starting to sound hoarse.  I left the party early in order to perform in the Christmas Legends show and by the time I changed into my costume I could hear my voice getting weaker.  I made a real effort to stop talking in order to conserve what was left of my voice, and sucked on a cough drop.  I struggled through "Candle in the Wind" and "Step Into Christmas" with a few cracks but it sounded okay.  After the show I met up with Spouse and Steven & Thad who had just left the party, and I had very little voice left.  Sun morning I had no voice at all - complete laryngitis.

We had breakfast with Steven & Thad and Joe P on Sun, and after returning home Spouse did some laundry while I spread all the Christmas gifts on the dining room table and started matching up the gifts with appropriately sized bags and boxes.  We did something this year we've never done before:  used only gift bags and decorated boxes.  I didn't wrap a single gift this year.  

The decorated boxes were re-used containers in which we'd gotten chocolates or candy or something.  As long as the boxes are in good shape I save them for future use.  Some of the gift bags were re-used from gifts we'd received in years passed, while others were purchased 2-for-$1 at the Dollar Tree.
I don't care for the tissue paper sprouting up out of the bags, so I fold it neatly over the top of the gift and tuck the sides down inside the bag.  I think it gives a neater look, and it give us the ability to stack the bags.  Since we will be transporting all the gifts to VA along with our duffle bag, the 2 dog carriers, and assorted stuff for the dogs, we need the ability stack things.  All the gifts were boxed, bagged and labeled in under an hour.
That evening we met up with Steven & Thad to eat "bar food" at the Frogg Pond.  Steven & Thad made fun of me for having no voice.  "What's that?  I can't hear you..."  They have a special menu on Sundays while football games are played on big screen TVs there.  I got a plate of tater tots with a ladle of sloppy Joe meat on top, drizzled with cheese sauce.  I know - probably 10,000 calories in it, but hey!  Its the holidays!  Time to eat, drink, and be merry!  

January is for dieting.

Now its Mon and I still have laryngitis.  I sure hope this doesn't last much longer.

Friday, December 18, 2015


Ugh - I hate being sick.  Not that anyone actually enjoys being sick, but I really hate it.  Fortunately I'm not sick very often, so when I do get sick I find it terribly inconvenient.  In my brain it would seem that people who are sick more often are less inconvenienced because they're more used to being sick.  Does that make sense to anyone besides me?

I've got acute sinusitis.  The symptoms are similar to a sinus infection only there's no
infection, so there's no point in taking antibiotics.  I'm taking Clariton-D for the sinus congestion, 800mg Ibuprofen for the sinus pain, effervescent immune support (a tablet of several vitamins and magnesium that disolves in water) to hopefully shorten the duration, cough drops when necessary for sore throat.  Just before bed I also take ZzzQuil which contains a sleep aid because the sinus congestion is causing breathing problems which make it hard for me to sleep.  I'm taking everything I possibly can to treat the symptoms and feel better as soon as possible.

In addition to feeling crappy, I also hate being sick at this time of year because it causes me to miss fun holiday events.  I missed my company's holiday party on Wed night, and missed the Blue Moon's employees and performers party on Thurs night.

I'm hoping to feel well enough tomorrow to go to my friend Joe P's big Christmas soiree AND perform in the Legends Christmas show that night.  

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Going to the dogs

At this time of year there are lots of opportunities to help those less fortunate.  I shy away from 'national' charity organizations as I'm never sure how much of the money goes to the actual 'cause' and how much pays for CEO salaries, so I try to give and act locally.

I usually reserve some time to shop and wrap Christmas gifts for the needy, donate canned and dry goods to the local food bank, and purchase a few toys for the local Toys for Tots drive.  In addition to those things, I tried something new and different this year.

When inviting friends to our tree trimming party, I shared that we would be accepting donations for the Delware SPCA.  I suggested that my friends take this opportunity to de-clutter their linen closets and donate unneeded towels, blankets, etc.  I also included a link to the SPCA's "wish list".  I came up with this idea when I realized that our local shelter receives NO federal funding and that it provides its rescue, care, and adoption services primarily from local donations.  Our wonderful Marvin came from this very shelter, so I decided to help give back.

My friends really came through!  We collected cash, lots of towels, blankets, brushes, toys, bathroom rugs, bags of food and treats, food/water bowls, and even a plastic kiddie pool.  I was so pleased with the response!  It really warmed my heart.

Next it was my turn.  I went through the laundry room and gathered 24 towels, 2 blankets, 4 bathroom rugs, and 6 bed sheets I could live without.  (Most were from when we used to have a beach house.)  The donations filled the cargo area AND back seat area of my SUV!  When I asked the shelter volunteers for some help unloading they were amazed at the volume of useful items which would serve a much greater purpose at the shelter than in our laundry rooms and linen closets.

This cost me literally nothing but the time to sort, pack and deliver the items that were just taking up space in our home, but I felt so good when I experienced the gratitude of the volunteers for the donations.  So I encourage all of you to consider doing something similar.  The next time you host a birthday party, suggest that party guests bring donations for the local charity of your choice.  A small effort and cost for us can have a huge impact on those less fortunate.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Weekend fun

I started my weekend by going with Joe P to see "A Christmas Story" at our local community theatre.  It was a musical based on the movie, and we both enjoyed it a lot.  (Spouse doesn't care for community theatre or musicals so I always go with Joe P.) 
Spouse heard that his mom was having some health issues, so he decided to leave Fri evening and go visit her.  He stayed overnight and spent some time with his sister too.  Fortunately his mom's follow-up on Sat went very well.  I had Sat off work so I went to breakfast with Steven & Thad, took Marvin & Walter for 2 nice walks since it was in the mid-60s, and then put on some Christmas CDs and began writing/addressing my holiday cards.  This is an activity I enjoy every year.  That evening I had a light dinner and then performed as Elton John in the Christmas Legends show. When I got home, Spouse was back.

Sun morning we met up with Steven & Thad and drove to Philly, about 2 hours from here.  Our 1st stop was the mid-century furniture sale.  We weren't planning to buy anything, but still enjoy looking at cool furniture and home accessories.  While there I saw this coffee table that is identical to the coffee table we had growing up.  Its by Lane and the style name is 'Acclaim'.  I think it was a wedding gift to my parents from my grandparents.  Seeing it brought back nice memories.  I wonder if my parents still have it?
Next we stopped at Joe's Pizza where you can get gourmet pizza by the slice.  It was really good!!  Then we went to see the huge video display at the Comcast Center, followed by meandering through not 1 but 2 Christmas markets.  It seemed strange to see people ice skating outdoors while it was 68 degrees.
Next we drove down Pine St and the Gayborhood but didn't get out since many places close early on Sundays.  Next we stopped in at Trader Joe's, and then had dinner at the famous Penrose Diner, a Philly institution.
Finally, we drove through a small south Philly neighborhood known for the excessive, over-the-top Christmas lights and decorating before hitting the highway.  We got home at 8:30, watched a little TV and went to bed early.

Friday, December 11, 2015


So, this arrived in the mail yesterday...
I burst into laughter!!

Inside was a message from our friends Ron & James, explaining that they'd seen this card while vacationing in Amsterdam and bought it just for me. I'm glad they explained that since I can't imagine finding this in a card store in the US.

Although a few days late, it was worth the wait.

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Promised pics

In a couple of my earlier posts I promised pics from the tree trimming party and my birthday.

The tree trimming party was a lot of fun!  About 15 friends came and had a little something to eat and drink and then helped us hang all the ornaments.  Spouse made (warm) artichoke dip, (warm) buffalo chicken dip, both served with crackers and carrots and celery.  Spouse also made mac 'n cheese and a crockpot of saucy meatballs, served with rolls.  I made milk chocolate chip brownies and white chocolate chip brownies, and we also served several types of cookies we bought.  And there was a decorated birthday cake as if we didn't have enough sweets.
2015 Christmas tree
Yes, I know the topper is crooked.  About 1/2 of those in attendance tried to straighten the topper but it always seemed to lean to the left, to the right, to the front, or to the back.  Imagine all the sophomoric jokes told about how even our Christmas tree wasn't straight!

While in Montreal in Oct we stopped in a Christmas store and bought a Chihuahua ornament for the tree.  I was excited to see it once it was placed on the tree by 1 of our friends.
Purchased in Montreal
A couple friends asked if I was going to rearrange the ornaments to my taste after everyone left.  Absolutely not!!  The whole idea of a tree trimming party is that the tree looks different every year because friends place the ornaments on it and I leave them alone.  Its a fun tradition for us.

Mon was my actual birthday but Spouse had his personal trainer appointment and my team at work had its Christmas cocktail party and secret Santa gift exchange, so Spouse & I planned to go out to dinner for my birthday on Tues.  I picked dinner at the award winning Blue Moon restaurant, which is adjacent to the bar/nightclub where I perform.  I had an AMAZING beef short rib with white cheddar grits and grilled veggies.  SOOO delicious.  Spouse had a wonderful butternut squash soup and rock fish.  Because it was my birthday we were treated to a complimentary wedge of Moon Pie.
Infamous (Blue) Moon Pie
Chocolate, coffee, caramel... INCREDIBLE!  This hunk of pie was so big that Spouse & I shared it and still couldn't finish the entire thing.  If you ever have the opportunity for a nice dinner in Rehoboth Beach, dine at Blue Moon.  Reservations recommended.  We had a lovely night out, just the 2 of us.

Friday, December 04, 2015

Friday fragments

Welcome to Friday fragments, my recap of topics too big to forget, yet too small to be their own post. 

One of my friends posted an idea he'd seen on facebook for getting some sensible gun control laws passed:

Speaking of facebook, a friend of mine posted this little ditty which gave me a chuckle:

Tomorrow is going to be a crazy/busy day for me!  I'm working from 9am-3pm, then running over to a friend's house for a holiday between 3:30-4:30, and driving Big Ella in a Christmas parade between 5:00-6:30, then grabbing a simple dinner between 6:30-8:00, then arriving at 8:30 at the Blue Moon to get dressed and perform in the Christmas Legends show.  I'm already exhausted just thinking about it!  I'll post some photos next week.

On Sun evening we're going to have some friends over to help us decorate our Christmas tree.  Spouse & I are making some snacks and desserts.  But of course this means we'll also need to be sure the house is picked up and presentable, so another busy day but it will culminate in a fun evening with friends and a lovely Christmas tree.

Speaking of Christmas, my friend Steven sent me this:
Here's wishing everyone a terrific weekend!!  What do YOU have planned?