Tuesday, November 30

The Holidays Are Here!

Turkey Day
Another Thanksgiving has come and gone.  I hope it went well for all of you!  We spent the holiday with my husband's family, and a good time was had, and delicious food was eaten.  A new vehicle was purchased.  A brother-in-law is healing.  Just your typical holiday.  Right now, it seems so busy.  I feel like I have no time at all to get things done!  I truly miss my housewife days.  I really enjoyed it, and I felt like I was good at it...probably the first time I felt that way about anything.  I miss having time to do my typical holiday baking, which I love to do so much.  Sigh.  Such is the life of a working woman...just have to trudge through the days and try to get to retirement, when I'll be happy again!  Really, though, there is much for which to thank the Lord, including our jobs.  We both have relatively good health, all of our family is still with us, we have a roof over our head, food on the table and in the pantry, and even the occasional toy.  Most importantly, I'm thankful for what God has given us all, if we choose to accept such a gift.  That's the biggest thing to be thankful for--the promise of an eternity spent with the One who created us! 

Date Night
We are seeing our first snows tonight.  I doubt it will accumulate, but it is still pretty.  The air holds that fresh snow scent, and it is refreshingly cold.  We went to a viewing of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, pt. 1, tonight, and when we came out of the theater it was sleeting pretty heavily.  It was a pretty good adaptation of the book, according to hubby--I have read all of the books, but it was a while ago and I don't really remember anymore!  Oh well.  It is not a movie I would recommend for younger children, but I think that teens and older would be fine.  Overall, it was an enjoyable movie date for us, and the second half of the movie should be the best half. 

Christmas Is Coming
We have our tree up, finally.  I used to look forward to putting up the tree on Thanksgiving, or the day after, but since we've been married I don't think we've ever done that, usually because we are gone visiting family for the holiday and don't come home for a few days afterward.  This year, we opted for a real tree--the first time for us as a couple.  We went to see what a Christmas tree farm had to offer about 20 minutes south of town, but the trees were waaay too expensive for us.  Instead, we visited with the reindeer, donkeys, calf and turkeys that they had for petting, and visited the gift shop where I purchased a front door decoration.  We stopped at a tree lot in town to check their prices, which weren't any better than the farm, but they had a huge tree on display, about fourteen feet tall, and I couldn't help but think of how fun it would be to have a house that would be able to accommodate such a large tree.  And it would be fun to decorate!  But we moved on to Lowe's to return something, and while we were there we found our Frasier fir.  It smells so nice in our living room, and it was half the price of the other trees we looked at.  I can't wait to decorate it!  I'll try to post some current pictures. 

Obviously, we think of what we are thankful for this time of year, and look forward to celebrating the Christmas in a few more weeks.  I try to give thanks to the Lord every day for what He has provided, because it can all be gone in a flash.  Psalm 100 is a psalm of thanksgiving: "1Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.  2Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.  3Know that the LORD is God.  It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.  4Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.  5For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations."

Thursday, November 11

Here Come the Holidays!

Things Slowing Down 
Well, for the time being, things are slow here.  That will change soon, with the holidays fast approaching.  I'm very much looking forward to Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's--I'm ready for the turkey, Christmas tree, Christmas music, and all of the other fun things that come around at this time of the year.  It's always been my favorite!  There's always something to do, whether it's shopping or baking or visiting, and I look forward to it all year long.  I have great memories of Christmas from when I was younger, and me and my family would go downtown to the annual nighttime light festival, where there would be a visit from Santa, Christmas music and carols that everyone there would sing, and then at the end of the festival, the switch would be thrown, illuminating a big city Christmas tree and dozens of other trees decorated with lights all throughout the park.  My mom would always decorate the house with all sorts of decorations, from strings of lights to bells, wax candle figurines, a Nativity that someone hand-painted for her, and so on.  There were always Christmas sugar cookies to eat and decorate, and I swear that there was more snow back then!  The tree would be assembled, and it seemed to just drip with all of the ornaments and decorations that we had.  A few presents were always under the tree a little early, just to tease us, and I admit that I would shake one or two when I thought no one was looking.  Christmas is such fun when you are a child.  We counted down the days to Christmas break, and we looked forward to playing in the snow with our friends.  I don't wish to be that young again, but I do wish that I could have that innocent view again.  Ah, the commercialization of Christmastime!  I really long for a Christmas devoid of material focus for a change.  I was in Kohl's last week (among other retail chain stores), and many of these places were already playing Christmas music!  While I don't mind it, it does seem to be a bit early for it.  I am guessing that the current economic state is prompting stores to try and get people in a spending mood earlier so that they can make their season goals this year.  But, regardless of what the stores want us to focus on at this time of the year, Jesus is and always will be the focus of my Christmas season (and all the rest of the year)!

Black Friday 
Well, now that you know how anti-materialistic I feel about Christmas, I thought I'd share with you a few websites that offer sneak peeks at Black Friday ads.  I don't--won't--go shopping on the day after Thanksgiving.  It's an unbending rule of mine.  Why on earth would I want to get up at the buttcrack of dawn--nay, before the buttcrack of dawn--to go and fight with a whole bunch of (fill in the expletive) women who have no concern for anyone around them, but just have to get the (fill in the hot toy/gadget/electronic fad) before you do, because if they don't, the world as they know it will end and the person for whom the gift is intended will, in fact, die if they don't receive it.  There is nothing that will get me out of bed that early to deal with that.  Ahem.  But for those who do enjoy the shopping experience, there are a few websites that post ads for many chain retailers weeks in advance:
Black Friday Ads-- they update their list whenever something new comes out.
Black Friday Info-- they offer several national chain store ads.
Black Friday--again, many chain stores. 
Black Friday 2010-- I think you get the idea.
Black Friday @ Gotta Deal--same as above. 
So, if early morning shopping is your preference, you can start planning now.  Hope this helps!  I'll be sound asleep, digesting waaaay too much turkey and stuffing.

White Fluffy Stuff
Well, I saw the first flurries last Friday.  What a thrill!  I was so excited.  I love snow, and I enjoy wintertime (for a while), and always eagerly anticipate the first significant snowfall of the year.  I love to have white Christmases and New Years.  It just seems to wipe clean the slate of the new year, and for many, a new start at accomplishing goals not attained the year before.  I don't really make resolutions at the beginning of the year; it seems too daunting.  If there is something I want to try and do, I just try to do it.  But others make resolutions every year, and that's fine!  Anyway, there's something great about watching the snow falling silently outside, while I am wrapped up nice and cozy in a big quilt drinking hot chocolate with a giant marshmallow on the top watching a movie with my best friend.  It's relaxing and a perfect way to spend a snowy day!

Where Did All of the Craft Shows Go?
I remember when I was younger that my mother, my sister and I would spend our Saturday mornings running around town to all sorts of holiday craft shows/bazaars.  You could find the neatest little handmade gifts at those things!  I loved to go to them.  I even sold something once, and did really well.  I have been going to a few craft shows in the area here, and what has happened??  There is nothing really to choose from, nothing original.  As someone who values hand-made crafts, as I am a crafty person myself, this makes me sad.  There is not the interest anymore that there used to be.  Everything is mass-produced and made in China as cheaply as possible, so no one is willing to pay for something made with quality and craftsmanship.  Half of the items for sale came from the Oriental Trading Company magazine!  So, I guess that if I want to give hand-made crafts this year, it looks as though I will have to make them myself.  Has anyone else noticed this?  Or am I the only dork that still goes to these things?

We celebrate Christmas in December of each year.  How this came about, who knows?  There is no evidence that Jesus was actually born this time of year; this is just when someone decided to make it a holiday.  Regardless, six weeks before the date of the Christ's birth, Mary must have been anxiously awaiting this event and His arrival.  Can you imagine what that must have been like?  What incredible excitement, and what a blessing, to be chosen to be the mother of the One who would die for our sins?  I can't!  Mary was indeed special for the Lord to choose her.  Joseph knew this as well: "21She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."  (Matthew 1:21)  This is the true reason for why we celebrate Christmas every year.  I pray that you will keep that in your hearts, not only now when the holidays approach, but all year 'round.

Monday, November 1

Birthday goodies!

Well, what's new?  I am a pretty boring person, I guess, because not a whole lot has happened lately.  I am enjoying that, though.  We have yet to carve our pumpkins, and so there probably won't be any pumpkin carving to come.  There will still be seeds, though, and some fresh pumpkin puree to freeze, so all is not lost.  

We just came back from a family visit in Michigan.  I got to meet my dog-niece, Ninja!  What a sweet doggie.  It was a short, but good, time while we were there.  We attended a benefit Halloween party for my sister's work, where we ate delicious food and saw all sorts of funny costumes.  I have to say, the most impressive costume was a group of three people all dressed like the cast of Dog the Bounty Hunter.  It was classic!  Poor hubby has been sick with a cold, or sinus problems, for a few weeks now, and I haven't been feeling 100%, and we were both party poopers.  We were so tired that we left around 11 that night, before the prize drawings ended and the costume contest winners were announced.  Too much excitement for this old bird! 

Jobs are still going well.  Thanks for asking.

It's That Time of Year Again
Well, another year has almost come to a close for me.  My birthday is a few days away, and my husband always dubs the week of my birthday as "Birthday Weekapalooza".  It's always an enjoyable time, even though I don't feel like celebrating is necessary.  I am old enough that I have to stop and remember my age!  Yikes!  Oh well.  I have to tell you about all of the birthday freebies that I get though!  There are so many restaurants that send you e-mail certificates for free birthday goodies that you must sign up for:

Texas Roadhouse is a great one (and my favorite restaurant!).  Sign up as a "VIP Roadie" and you will not only receive free appetizers for your birthday, but you will also receive freebies for your wedding anniversary, sign-up anniversary, and other events.

Cold Stone Creamery will e-mail you a certificate for a free Like-It size with one mix in for free if you sign up on their website.  Yummy!

Auntie Anne's Pretzels will send you a buy one, get one free certificate for signing up for their e-mails.  Great if you are near a franchise!

Dairy Queen will send you a buy one, get one free Blizzard coupon through e-mail if you sign up on their website.

Baskin-Robbins, if you are fortunate enough to still have one in your neighborhood, offers free ice cream on your birthday, just click on the name link and sign up for it.

El Chico, a Tex-Mex restaurant, will give you a free dessert on your special day, just ask.

Famous Dave's Barbecue offers a special birthday treat (rumor has it that it's a free meal) for signing up to be a PIG club member.  Check it out if you have one nearby!

Outback Steakhouse will give you a free dessert (I think a piece of cake) and embarrass you with a song, but you don't have to sign up for anything to get it--just go in and tell them it's your birthday!

Red Lobster will also honor your special day with cake and a tune.  Just mention it's your day.

Click here for a list of other places that might offer birthday treats.

Granted, not every restaurant will have these birthday surprises, so you should always check first before going.  Well worth it!  There are many more than this short list, it just depends on what restaurants you have nearby.  You won't go hungry around your birthday if you just do a little checking around.  Others celebrating with you will sometimes get to enjoy the benefits of your special day, too!

Celebrating birthdays is something that tends to lose appeal as we get older.  Maybe we look at aging the wrong way--we could be celebrating the fact that God Himself created us, and allowed each of us to be born on this day to serve His purpose.  Psalm 139:13-14 reminds us of God's hand in our earliest existence: "13For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.  14I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." Perhaps instead of grumbling about getting older, and complaining about the new parts of our bodies that don't seem to work the way they used to, we should give thanks to the Lord for creating us and loving us every day of every year!