Friday, December 07, 2018

Happy birthday

...to me!  Yes, today is my birthday.  Although I do have to work today, I had Wed off for our NYC day trip and I had yesterday off because Thurs is my regular day off, so I don't mind working today.

Tonight Spouse is taking me to dinner somewhere so you can believe I will enjoy a birthday cosmo or two.

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

New York, New York!!

Today Spouse & I are in NYC for the day with our friend Joey.  

Our local realtor group charters a bus every year, giving us an easy opportunity to get in and out of the city.

Last year we saw the Christmas Spectacular with the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall.  This year I'm super-excited that we're going to see Torch Song!
This is based on one of my favorite films Torch Song Trilogy.  If you've never seen the film, find a way!  It was one of the earliest films portraying gay men with both tenderness and strength.  I'm hoping Spouse & Joey enjoy it too.

Monday, December 03, 2018

Whirlwind weekend

I had a whirlwind weekend for sure!

In anticipation of everything happening this past weekend, I took Sat off work.  Sat morning Spouse & I met Steven for breakfast, then went to the grocery store to buy the ingredients for the food we'll serve at our tree trimming party.  Once we'd put away the food, I finished decorating the inside of the house.  I'd started the decorating last weekend but finished it on Sat. 

As Spouse began making the party food, I went on a Christmas home tour.  There were 9 local homes on the tour, including a couple homes I'd toured when they were for sale.  The tour was very well attended and several of the homes were quite lovely, all decked out in their Christmas regalia.

After the tour I helped Spouse clean up the kitchen a bit, and then we met Steven for dinner.  (Thad was out of town.)  After dinner I performed as Elton John in the Blue Moon's holiday Legends show.

Whew!

Sun morning we met Steven & Thad for breakfast, then returned home where Spouse began warming the food he'd made the day before and I began setting the tables and getting the platters, bowls, and serving pieces out. Shortly before our friends began to arrive we plated the food and put the drinks out on the beverage table.  

Thanks to Spouse's cooking the day before and my planning an organization, we got everything set up with a little time to spare (let's take a selfie!) and with no yelling.  I consider this a definite "win".

Our friends arrived and we had drinks and conversation for a little while, then had dinner.  Spouse made meatballs in Italian gravy (tomato sauce), Italian sausage with peppers and onions, rolls, and a roasted vegetable pasta salad.

Then we migrated to the living room and began trimming the Christmas tree.  

Occasionally folks paused from the decorating to enjoy some sweets (brownies, chocolate chip cookies, anis pizzelles, and chocolate covered pretzels).

The tree went from this:

to this:
Yes, the tree isn't straight, and neither are we.  :-)

Everyone kept joking that we surely HAD to be nearing the end of the ornaments as the tree became colorful, but I assured them there were plenty MORE ornaments to fill in.  "I like just a little bit of green to show through" I told them.

I really love this tradition of having friends help decorate the tree.  Its a fun way to get together during the holiday season and it makes the tree look different every year.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Shopping

Yesterday I joined several of my fellow realtors and some mortgage company employees to shop for needy children in our area. 

Our county is rather diverse in that there are large multi-million dollar beachfront homes only occupied a few weeks each summer, as well as tiny old trailer homes occupied year round by entire families.  There's both wealth and poverty here.

That's why our realtor association has a foundation that raises money in the fall so that these needy children can have clothing and toys for Christmas.  Yesterday's shopping trip was how those items are obtained.

We were given an information sheet with the childrens' names, ages, sizes, and preferred colors.  Additionally the sheet indicates whether or not the child needs a winter coat.  I shopped for 6 children yesterday and all of them needed coats and shoes.

Bargain shopping has been my hobby for years, having furnished apartments and homes on a budget many times, as well as finding mid-century modern furniture and decor as low as possible.  So stretching the budget for these children is right in my wheelhouse, and I really enjoy getting the closest match to what they want/need and spending the least possible.

While the childrens' stories are sad (some living with elderly grandparents because their parents are in prison) the shopping project is actually happy and fun because we're accomplishing our goal of helping these needy kids who aren't responsible for their situations.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Thanksgiving highlights

We had a great Thanksgiving meal and visit with the family.  Spouse made his famous dressing (with Granny Smith apples, Craisins, pecans, celery and onion) which was off the chain delicious.  We've somehow lost the origin of this much-loved recipe.  I believe I suggested the ingredients to Spouse for our 1st Thanksgiving together, but he says he'd been making this dressing before he met me.  I don't think either of us would bet our paychecks on it, but our ongoing claims make for a funny conversation every year.
Corn casserole in the oven

This year he also made a cannoli cheesecake which was also very good.  I made corn casserole which is also a family favorite.  I've taken it to work for our office Thanksgiving meal several times and everyone loves it so I'm not allowed to bring anything else.

When we arrived at Spouse's sister's house she explained that we'd be having an unexpected visitor for Thanksgiving this year; the cashier from CVS.  Spouse's sister frequents this store because its close to her home so she's familiar with many of the employees.  As she was checking out she'd engaged in a little casual small talk and asked the young woman if she was having Thanksgiving with family or friends.  She explained that her family is from Bangladesh and her parents have not adopted American holidays like Thanksgiving.  She further shared that her older sister (a physician) had a baby recently so their parents were fully consumed with their 1st grandchild.  She said she'd just go home when her shift ended at 6:00.  She's in college but her roommates were all away, spending Thanksgiving with their families.

Spouse's sister suggested that she stop over after her shift and pick up a plate to go, since we would have already finished our meal by 6pm.  The young woman was very appreciative and they exchanged phone numbers.  A few hours later the young woman called to say there'd been a schedule mix-up and her shift was ending at 2pm, not 6pm, and asked if she could come over then.  So, the invitation for a plate to go turned into another seat at the table!  
My plate

But it worked out fine.  The young woman was very nice.  She loved all of the food, but needed explanations as to the ingredients since she'd never eaten some of these dishes/combinations.  

I could see the wheels turning in her head as she struggled to figure out how these diverse people were related, so Spouse's sister introduced us all and explained the connections.  "This is my brother and this is his husband Mark, and this is Mark's aunt Mary, and this is my daughter Anna and this is her husband Randy and their daughter Gabby..."  Anna is white/Italian, Randy is African American, and their daughter is biracial.  Honestly I felt a little proud of our diverse family and everyone's willingness to have a stranger join us for Thanksgiving dinner.  

Later, after we'd all had desert and were relaxing and talking, our nephew Eric was talked into playing his guitar and singing.  Baby Gabby quickly joined in by blowing on a recorder, creating a clash of chords and chaos.  It was a very nice day!

We left on Fri around noon and got home about 2:30.  I put away the pots/pans we'd taken with us, ran the dishwasher, and then began decorating for Christmas.  First the wreaths were placed on the doors, then I removed all the photos from the mantel and put up the candles, garland, dried flowers and fruit.

Later that evening Spouse & I joined Steven & Thad for carol singing and the lighting of the Rehoboth Beach Christmas tree.  
Thad opted not to be in the selfie


It was really cold that night but the turn-out was big and we had fun.  Despite having lived here for nearly 12 years and having visited here prior, we'd never attended this tree lighting and carol singing event.  Then we had dinner at a nearby spot. 

Friday, November 23, 2018

Attitude

In keeping with yesterday's day of thankfulness and gratitude, I thought I'd follow up with a post about positive attitude.

Dale Carnegie said "Happiness doesn't depend on any external conditions; it is governed by our mental attitude".  I believe this to be true.  Your attitude is the biggest contributor to happiness AND your biggest tool against stress.

"Attitude is everything".

"Change your attitude and change your life".

"Its not about the hand you're dealt, but rather, they way you play it".

These may sound like cliches but they can really be helpful in making a better life.
What you're given versus what you make of it.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Thanksgiving

Today is Thanksgiving in America, a day where people try to be mindful and thankful for all they have, including a big turkey dinner.
For many people, Thanksgiving is a time for family members to come together.  More people travel for Thanksgiving than for Christmas.  But not everyone can spend Thanksgiving with their family.  Some are rejected by their family for being GLBTQ.  Some are not welcome in their family homes due to old family drama or arguments.  Some do not live close to their family and can't travel to be with them.  For all of these, Thanksgiving can be a lonely day.  

One year Spouse & I were aware that several of our friends had no plans for Thanksgiving so we asked them to join us and our family.  We ended up with 23 people for a sit-down meal.  We were a little concerned if we'd have enough food, but everyone brought something to add to what we'd prepared and we all had plenty to eat and a really great day together.

Others have adopted a Thanksgiving tradition called Friendsgiving where they intentionally seek out friends who have no plans and/or no family with which to spend Thanksgiving.  In this way they create a 'chosen family' with whom to spend the holiday.

Whatever your Thanksgiving plans, I wish you a day of thankfulness, gratitude, friendship, love, and delicious food.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Don't rush the holidays

I'm a firm believer in not rushing the holidays.  I do not want to see (and will not buy) Christmas decorations in stores in Sept.  Even more specifically, I don't put up Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving.  The day after Thanksgiving?  Fair game.

But yesterday I made a small exception... we put up our outdoor Christmas lights. 

It was sunny and in the low 50s so the weather was perfect for it.  Plus, the weekend after Thanksgiving I am scheduled to work both Sat & Sun.  Regardless of whether it rains or is cold in the coming days, we've already got our lights up and ready.  But we vowed NOT to turn them on until after Thanksgiving.

We will spend Thanksgiving and some of Fri in VA with our family, as usual.  When we get back home Fri afternoon or evening, I'll probably put the wreaths on the doors and start putting out our interior decorations.  Then (hopefully) on Sun after work I'll put up the Christmas tree and string the lights on it.  The following Sun we're having our annual Christmas tree trimming party where our friends help us hang all the ornaments, and in exchange we provide food and drinks.  Its always a good time and one of my favorite holidays traditions.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Palm Springs wrap up

After the fabulous car show, we returned the rental car and went inside the airport to find our gate.  We got some snacks for the plane, then I went through many of my photos on my phone to kill time while we waited for boarding time.  Fortunately the flight wasn't full and the window seat next to me was empty, so I moved over to it, giving Spouse some much needed shoulder room.
I'm leaning over from the window seat and Spouse is in the isle seat
Our flights were fine and we were picked up by our nephew and taken back to Spouse's sister's house. We stayed overnight, then had a late breakfast with several family members before heading home to DE.  I was really eager to see Marvin & Walter!

It was a really fun trip!  Carl was a terrific traveling companion and was open to just about any suggestion or request we came up with.  We had lots of great food, saw lots of beautiful homes, cars, scenery, and reconnected with old friends.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Palm Springs: day 7, car show

After checking out of the house we went to a vintage car show which was part of the Moderism Fall Preview event schedule.  It was INCREDIBLE!!  There were so many beautiful cars, some I'd never seen in person before.  It was a little overwhelming!

Feast your eyes on all of this automotive glory...