Friday, December 29, 2017

I Have to Admit...

I love getting presents! Really, who doesn't?

I had a great Christmas! Santa brought just about everything on my list---plus many surprises from the whole family.

I had already put my gifts away so had to go back and snap a few pictures. I'm sure I've left a few out, but couldn't think of everything after the fact!
I got this casserole dish from Margarita. I've used it twice already---once for the potato casserole on Christmas Eve and then again for the dressing on Christmas Day. I never realized that I have a "thing" about colored casseroles. Maybe I've never had a colored casserole before. Anyway, I can't just put anything in it. I don't want anything that would clash with the red---like the carrot casserole. The green beans would have been okay since it's Christmas, but not any other time! A little OCD, I know.
I got this bottle of Baileys from Butch. It's sort of a joke. I'm not a big drinker. He's in charge of ALL beverages---alcoholic or not. At Thanksgiving, I decided I wanted to have a cup of hot chocolate with Bailey's. I was searching amidst dozens of bottles of stuff. I asked him and he said we didn't have any. The next day, I was looking for a diet Coke. We didn't have any. I said, "are you kidding me? The two things I ask for and we don't have it?" So, he got the Bailey's and then searched for something with my name on it so he could label the bottle! He even went to Cracker Barrel. Apparently, Barbara is not a popular name these days.
 Stephanie had told me about this floor cleaner that she says is amazing. I'm excited to see what difference it makes on my floors.
 I got this Corkcickle wine cup from Sandy. It keeps your wine or other drink icy cold for hours. It will be great for the pool. And, it's PINK!
Butch got me a couple candles from Bath and Bodyworks. Sandy got me one from Vera Bradley. It smells amazing! We light the candle every morning. Every morning! I look forward to Christmas to replenish my supply.
Mitchell always gives me a dvd. The plan is that we watch it together. This is the first year that we didn't have time to do it. There's just not enough time for everything.
 I got this book from Mindy and Justin along with this Starbucks mug.
When we were in Washington, DC, we went to a mall in Virginia. I lamented the fact that I had forgotten to pick up a mug for my collection. I was happy to get it for Christmas! The Echo was a combined gift from Jordan, Morgan and the boys. They have promised me that they are going to help me set it up and figure it out. They like to make sure that I'm up-to-date with technology!
 I always want new slippers for Christmas---Butch got me these. I wear slippers in the house exclusively. Used to wear socks all the time, but now I don't want to risk the slip factor.
This adorable glass tree and ornaments is from Elizabeth. I just love little things. Victoria gave me some holiday hand towels. I've already used them, so they are in the wash.
Stephanie gave me this set of bracelets and watch in rose gold. I love to wear a bunch of bracelets, so she knew this would be right up my alley.
She also gave me a box of chocolates and a mini Starbucks mug ornament--so cute. The box---tiny, so darn cute!
I realized that you couldn't see the perspective, so snapped this shot of the boxes side by side.
Butch got me this memory foam travel pillow. Mindy let me try hers on our trip to Charleston this summer. It is so awesome! I'm looking forward to trying it out on our international flights this year.
And then, my customary box of Russell Stovers chocolates---my favorite. Sandy gave me another box which I already ate! Don't judge me. It was a little smaller! I'm pretty disciplined--one piece a day. At this rate, between this and the box Stephanie gave me, I'll have candy well in to February!
These were an unexpected surprise from Mindy. I put them on right away. I found out the next day as Butch was going through the trash (he pulls out all the paperwork, instruction books and warranty cards that everyone tries to throw away) that they actually light up in the dark! Shoes with REAL Christmas lights!
Here's the secret santa gift I got from Andrew that I've already mentioned. See the polar bears swimming? So cute.

I got some other things too, but just can't remember it all. I need to take a picture before I put everything away!

Did you get everything on your santa list!

Monday, December 25, 2017

A Glimpse of Our Christmas

It all began on Saturday with the movie---The Greatest Showman. OMGosh! It was fabulous---maybe the best movie I've seen this year---and I've seen a lot of movies! I love Hugh Jackman. He can do it all---sing, dance, act. Go see it! Stephanie, Mindy, Morgan, Jordan and her friend Paige all loved it too. As soon as I got home, I did this:
I put the soundtrack on so I could listen to the music again. I loved it so much that I'm going to see it again with Connie next week. It's the story of P.T. Barnum and how he started his circus. I love period pieces to begin with. This one was great.

Saturday night, Stephanie, Nicky, Mindy and Justin moved in. We played poker all evening. They stayed up way later than me. I called it a night around 11:15---AND after losing $12.50. It wasn't my night.

Christmas Eve begins with a big breakfast---bacon, eggs, biscuits, gravy, hash brown casserole and fruit salad. Jordan brought her friend Paige. Andrew (Jordan's boyfriend) was there too. After breakfast, we had our secret santa exchange. Stephanie arranges it. We are all informed of our person and the theme via a website. It's all secret---no one---not even Stephanie knows who has who. Last year was the first year. The theme was that you had to purchase a gift that began with the first initial of your secret person. We have a $15 limit. I drew Butch and gave him a case of Bush's Best Barbecue Beans and Beer!

This year, the theme was "It's a snow day!" There were so many creative gifts. I drew Nicky and gave him a sherpa throw ($5.00 at Target) and a Movie magazine of all the 1980's movies. I thought he would have fun checking off all the movies he saw during the 80's while snuggled under the throw!

Andrew drew me. He gave me the cutest mug---clear with polar bears around the top. He included some premium hot chocolate. When you have your drink in the cup, the polar bears appear to be swimming! I'll have to post a photo when I use it for the first time. The gifts were so creative. Jordan got a Christmas Pokemon sweatshirt from Nicky (yes, she's 23 and still in to Pokemon!) I already have forgotten the others, but they were good!

After breakfast, we did our food prep for Christmas Eve and Christmas dinner.
Here are Morgan and Butch on Christmas eve---before gift opening. Some family members put on Christmas jammies. Butch disappeared and came out with his! I didn't even know he had any Christmas clothes! I didn't have anything. But then Mindy gave me some Toms that had Christmas lights on them. I put them on right away. I found out the next day that the shoes actually light up! An added bonus. So cute.
Mindy and Justin in their Christmas finery. They even had Mickey mouse flannel pajama bottoms that they put on later.

We do pick up foods while we open gifts. We had: boiled shrimp, beef tenderloin sandwiches on Sister Shubert rolls with homemade horseradish cream, meatballs in bbq sauce, mushroom crustades, spinach balls, the Donnellan family cheese ball, crab spread, green onion dip, sausage balls, cheese  cubes and summer sausage.

And then there is the dessert tray. Mindy was in charge of keeping it replenished this year.
The only things I made were the pecan balls and chocolate chip cookies in the center. Mindy made the peanut butter kisses. The little sugar cookies came from our realtor. My friend, Nancy made the pralines (I look forward to them every year--they are awesome), Sara, my garden girl dropped off the homemade chocolates and frosted cookies and Christy, my interior designer sent some gourmet chocolates. Besides this, I had ordered "bundtinis" from Everything Bundt Cake. I forgot to snap a picture.

Stephanie, Jordan,  her friend, Paige, Morgan and I drank champagne---
mostly so we can use my fancy glasses! I've collected 2 every year for a number of years now. Personally, I think water can seem fancy if you put it in a fancy glass!
 Butch arranges the gifts under the tree. I love how he makes it look so nice.
Notice the tree skirt that my mom made for all of us girls (Janet, Janice, Jennifer, Jeanne, Sharon and Joyce) in the 1970's. I made a quilted tree skirt myself in the 1980's, so this one was packed away for about 20 years or more. After mom died, I got it out and passed the one I made on to one of the girls. I don't know who will eventually get this one. It's about 44 years old now.

When it comes to the gifts, we each take turns opening. But first, we move all the furniture up against the wall. It's quite an ordeal and I didn't want to do it this year since we were only going to have 9 for gift opening. I was quickly overruled by Stephanie and Mindy with, "MOM! You can't just change the traditions!" I stayed out of it and let them have at it. Jordan declared herself the MC of gifts (just like last week at Sandy's). She likes handing out the presents. We started with the family gifts and then moved on to our gifts to everyone.. Butch collects the wrappings right away---no mess of wrapping paper and boxes everywhere. We're very neat and organized about the whole procedure. We have to be with this many people! You can hardly move as it is.

After the gift opening, we played several games. Then we had a dance party!
 Doesn't everybody? I'm going to try this video thing again:
Okay, I have to admit, this was our first Christmas dance party. But we had great music playing and you just can't sit still then! I was dancing too until I decided to take the video---plus I was tuckered out (this wasn't our first dance)! Another tradition in the making. I hope you enjoy it!

It was another late night. Christmas morning, we had to get the house put back in order because I had invited my bridge partner, Joan and her husband, Sam to join us for dinner. I can't stand the idea of people being along on Christmas. I feel so blessed that our Christmases are so much fun---we need to share! Jordan's friend, Paige didn't have anywhere to go this year either. She said she had a great time with us. The more the merrier.

Christmas dinner was all the regular stuff: turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, corn pudding, carrot casserole, green bean casserole, peas and Sister Shuber rolls (leftover from Christmas Eve). We ate about noon and finished by 1:30. Joan brought a pecan pie, so we had that sweet to add to our desserts. After dinner, I sent everybody home with food. Joan and Sam seemed really happy to have shared our Christmas. I sent them home with plenty of food too.

Jordan and Morgan came by in the afternoon to gather their stuff. They go to their other grandparents for Christmas day. I sent food with them too---and still I have a lot. I'm going to freeze some things. We'll see how that goes.

Butch and I had most of the kitchen cleaned up by 2:30. I napped, he watched football. I finished the clean up after and then just chilled for the evening. As much as I love all the craziness, I have to admit, I am happy to have some peace and quiet when it's over. I'm always amazed that they all want to stay here for a few days. When I asked Mindy about it, she said it's like a vacation. I guess so. You get to sleep in and just hang out, eat and drink. Everyone pitches in so the work is spread out. But I do like getting everything back in order when they leave.

How was your Christmas?

Sunday, December 24, 2017

It's Official...

...I'm OLD!!! I know. I've said it before. But it's really true!

Okay, I'll admit, I've been resistant to going downtown for a long time now. Well, ever since Butch retired and I no longer have my free parking pass. Plus, when he knew I was going to be down there for something, he had someone meet me and save a prime spot. Yes, spoiled. I know it.

We've been downtown several times recently and have really enjoyed it. So when a business associate of Butch's called to offer us tickets to the Garth Brooks concert, we were all over it. Plus, the seats were in a suite. I didn't even know they had such a thing for concerts. Now, I think it's the only way to go! Anyway, we almost didn't make it!

It was pouring down rain the whole day---just yucky all the way around. The concert was to start at 7. Knowing there would be opening acts, we were in no rush. We left the house at 6:30---torrential downpour. We got downtown and the best parking lot was full (duh, I knew it would be by going so late). So we drove around for a bit before deciding to park at the Music City Center. I came very close to saying, "Let's just forget it!" We parked in the bowels of the garage. Did I ever tell you that I hate parking garages---never mind that they afforded our life!

We grabbed 2 small umbrellas and made the trek to the Bridgestone area. Okay, it was only two blocks--not so bad. Plus, it was warm. There's nothing worse than rain and cold!

We got to the suite. Let me just say, it was "sweet!" Free food and drinks! Of course, we didn't know anybody. The guy that offered the tickets wound up being sick and couldn't make it. So that meant, we had to do the small talk, socializing with a bunch of people we didn't know. Butch did fine because he talked business. I've never had problems in these situations because I can talk to anybody. But, you know, I'm tired of that. I didn't want to "turn it on!" Really, I'm over it! I did talk to a 40-something gal for a bit. OMGosh! She started using ALL the techniques I used to use when talking to someone I didn't know: "where do you live? Do you have kids? Where do they go to school?"

Let me tell you, when you are 60 something and someone asks if you have kids and their ages, it just feels stupid to say, "I have a 45 yr. old, 41 yr. old and 33 yr. old!" That leads to, "There's no way you look that old!" Then you have no choice but to start talking about how "old" the grands are! Luckily, another of the opening acts was starting up, so we could make a smooth exit. Sheesh!

The concert itself was IN CRED IBLE. Come on, it's Garth!
 Dustin Lynch was one of the opening acts. I didn't know the first one---one of Garth's back up singers who is also a songwriter. She was good.

 The arena was packed! Garth encouraged everyone to turn the lights on their phone.
 I've always loved Trisha Yearwood too. She didn't disappoint.

This is Butch showing his normal amount of concert excitement. Mindy refers to this look as the "resting "Butch" face!" (I just found out that she was doing a take-off of a resting "bitch" face---didn't know that).

I was so proud of myself---the very first video I've ever taken! I did it for your enjoyment! Turns out, I can't share it because there were 2 things wrong with it. 1. It's too large (I didn't know there was a limit---it was just one song) and 2. I turned the camera sideways, so the whole thing recorded sideways! Dang! Oh well. I'm sure I'll forget the next time I try to make a video.

On the way out, I decided to buy a t-shirt. It hit me, this could be my last concert! I hope not, but since I'm old...
Come on, it's pink. I had to!

Anyway, the best thing about watching a concert in a suite? You don't have to stand up all night! I watched the thousands rocking while standing the entire concert. I'm over that. I can rock just as well sitting down! And I did!

Yep, I'm old!

Merry Christmas y'all!

Saturday, December 23, 2017

A Little Christmas Share

On Wednesday night, we went to Jimmy Kelly's...
to celebrate Jordan's 23rd (yes!) birthday. I had iced tea. I didn't give it a thought. I guess that's what did it. I was awake most of the night. Or maybe it was the thought of all that I still needed to do to get ready for Christmas---which really wasn't much---I'm on top of things---usually. I hadn't baked any cookies or the banana muffins---I've been saving those black bananas in the freezer for weeks! And then there's the grocery shopping, errands and pick-ups---okay, still a lot to do! On with the story.

I got up at 4:15 to use the bathroom. I got back in bed because everything I needed to do would be a little too noisy at this early hour. Butch got up about 4:30. I jumped out of bed and said, "Great! I have things to do!" I'm sure he loved that. He likes to wake up slowly---where I'm "full on" right away!

I had a few last minute gifts to wrap and then started on the cookies.
This is what a little 5 a.m. baking yields. I finished the chocolate chip cookies later in the afternoon and the muffins in the evening. We're all set.

I delegated a few things this year. It was really nice to just tell this one and that one to do this and that! But the only problem with that is "some" family members still want to make it here. Now we're talking about interfering with my nap time! I just want them to show up with the dish already prepared. Okay, I get that they need to borrow stuff! And I am funny about taking stuff out of my house. You never know if you'll see it again! So I guess making it here is the best option. What the heck, I don't need a nap. (Who am I kidding---the downside of getting up early!)

Here's the recipe I promised. There's still time. This is Connie's recipe. We started making these together about 25 (or more) years ago. They so good and worth the work!

Mushroom Crustades
Stick of butter (4T. for sauce; 4T. for brushing)
2-4 oz. cans chopped mushrooms (drained well)
6 T. chopped onions
4 T. flour
2-8 oz. cartons heavy cream
3 T. chives
1 T. lemon juice
1/2-3/4 cup parmesan cheese
2 king size loaves sandwich bread

1. Cut 2 circles from each bread slice (I like to save the leftover bread for my holiday dressing)
2. Flatten each circle and place in mini muffin tins.
3. Brush with melted butter.
4. Bake at 400 for about 8 minutes until browned.
5. Cool.

1. Saute mushrooms and onions in butter for 10 minutes.
2. Stir in flour and cream.
3. Bring to a boil.
4. Remove from heat.
5. Stir in chives, lemon juice and parmesan cheese.
6. Spoon in to bread shells.
7. Put on cookie sheet. (can be frozen at this point. Once frozen, place in ziplock bag.)
8. Cover crusades and heat at 300 for 10 minutes.

That's is for the baking. I already have sausage balls and spinach balls in the freezer ready to go. Food--check. Grocery shopping---one trip down, two more to go. I always do three trips---1. Sam's 2. Non-perishables 3. Fresh foods and the turkey. I try to make it easier on myself. I can't maneuver more than one cart anyway!

Gifts wrapped and under the tree. Some lucky girl is going to get these cool "booties" for Christmas! A few family members are slow to check my blog, so I'm pretty safe in posting this!

By the time you are reading this, my friends and I will have already had our annual holiday lunch. This year, we had a private room at Mere Bulles. We included daughters last year and extended it to our older granddaughters this year. I love it when we all get together. Seeing the girls laughing and reminiscing just reminds me of how important our friends are!

Also, we'll be going to the Garth Brooks concert tonight. Yes, it involves going downtown! We can do it! Especially for free tickets. In a box! Great seats. Perks of knowing people! Thanks Premier Parking for the invite!

Merry Christmas to all! I hope you have a chance to relax and enjoy the holidays with your family and friends!

This might be my last post until we come up for air next week!

Friday, December 22, 2017

Festive Idea for the Office

Every year, Mindy tries to do something festive for her coworkers. This year she had this idea to play a little game. She designed it and then shared it with Stephanie so she could use it too.
 If you look at closely, it's pretty funny---the exact things people say while on a conference call. I suggested they call it conference call "lingo"! But I guess it was too late.
 Stephanie provided a little bag of candy to use as markers. Mindy did too, but she didn't send a picture.
Stephanie also made this cute little poem to get everyone in the spirit. She said her "team" was really excited. She offered a prize for the winner.

Mindy, who thought it up---was a little disappointed in her team. But, as it turns out, it's all guys. I just reminded her that guys don't act all excited like girls do! Still, she said that one guy pinned it up so she knew for a fact that at least one did not wind up in the trash!

Can you tell my girls love Christmas too?

Thursday, December 21, 2017

It's All About Family--Part 2

Everybody slept in. We had a big breakfast around 11:30 a.m. And, of course, Sandy had a fun little activity planned for us.
Remember the old "Cootie" game---where you had to roll the dice to make your "cootie?" Well, she did the same thing with reindeer! You can bet I'm going to plan something next year and do the same thing! 

We spent the day just chilling out. The guys watched football while we girls played the game that the winner of the "Reindeer" game won. I can't remember who the winner was, but the game was "Hum and Strum."
The game came with these tiny guitars. The picks had the song on one side that you had to play and hum.
I insisted that we actually play the guitar as the game suggested! We had so much fun and lots of laughs. I guess it must have sounded like we were having too much fun as Mitchell strolled through a couple times to see what was happening. Still, he was lured back to football and didn't want to play.
 We had dinner reservations at a new German restaurant that Sandy and Greg discovered this summer. 
 Of course, I wanted a few pictures before we left.

We are always on the lookout for a really good German restaurant. This one didn't disappoint.
The schnitzel was fabulous! Butch was really excited to see knurdles on the menu. That was something his mom made when he was a kid. Basically, it's a baseball sized dumpling. It wasn't as good as his mom's---but he still liked it. I thought it was okay, but between the spaetzle and red cabbage and German potato salad (my favorites), it was too much food! We're excited to have a place to go when we visit. The only German restaurant here in Nashville is The Gerst House, but they don't do schnitzel---more of a beer and brats place.

More games when we got home. 

On Monday, we girls went to the movie to see The Disaster Artist. It's a true story and was so good and interesting. James Franco and his brother played the leads. James was amazing! He deserves an academy award for sure!

We went out for sushi for dinner. It was Jordan's 23rd birthday--can you believe it? She loves sushi.

On the way home, we looked at Christmas lights.

We didn't even have to leave the neighborhood! If I were guessing, I'd say 75% of the homes were decorated and I'd say 50% of those were really great! Let's put it this way, we spent an hour going down every street.

Once we got home, Sandy surprised Jordan with a few birthday presents and a cake. We played a few games of Heads Up, but everyone was pretty tired. The "kids" stayed up late again. But we had to wrap it up as we flew out on Tuesday morning. 

It was so much fun---just being together. It's also exhausting and a lot of work in terms of food. The house also takes a toll with that many people. 

Seeing things like this is more the norm with this many people in the house--Mitchell's jeans, left inside out on the bathroom floor. He walked past them for a day until Sandy got him to pick them up! The girls---too had their stuff scattered all around. It'll be a miracle if they made it home with all their stuff!

Thanks to Sandy and Greg for putting up with the chaos!