Daybook: Christmas Season

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Outside my window::

Bright, sunny, and windy. Seasonal–so in the 30s. It was almost 60 degrees on Christmas Eve!

Wearing::

Jeans, grey flats, a blue tank top, a new cardigan (same as the photo below) , and sparkly earrings. It’s the holidays, it means party time in the clothes department. 🙂

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Reading::

Wow, what am I not reading? I got three books for Christmas: The Romanov Sisters, The Little French Kitchen, and Elizabeth of York, about Henry VII’s wife (and Henry VIII’s mother). I’ve finished The Romanov Sisters (good, but nothing really new in there), I’m marking up French Kitchen with stickies to mark recipes I want to try, and I’ve dipped into Elizabeth.

I also bought: In Cold Blood, The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla, and Mastering the Art of French Eating. I’m reading both French Eating and Cold Blood, and I finished Manzanilla earlier today. That one is part of the Pink Carnation series, which I’ve been reading since its inception. There are eleven books in the series and the last one comes out next year. Whenever there’s a new one it always makes me want to go back and read the older ones, so I see a reading of the series in my future. 🙂

Basically, I’m being a Christmas book glutton.

Oh, and I almost forgot! Lara Casey’s Make it Happen. People. Go get this. Now. It’s amazing.

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In the CD player::

The Christmas music. 🙂 I try to rotate through all of them as much as possible, so Renee Fleming’s is up next.

Movies::

I watched Babette’s Feast last night, and I loved it. It’s such a “me” movie–France, Food, Faith. The three Fs, if you will. 🙂 The feast! Oh my gosh. And the part at the end about art….really, it’s a gorgeous movie. It will make you hungry. watch it. Please. 🙂

Pondering::

Why there are tablets everywhere I go. I admit, I’m prone to checking my phone when I’m bored, but I am really good at leaving it in my bag, unnoticed and unused, when I’m in church, when I’m with people, when I’m at the movies, etc. It’s not an umbilical cord for me.
But lately I’ve seen more and more kids with it all the time–at Mass, at nice restaurants, everywherelike they can’t be without it, and it’s sort of ude. What are these kids learning? That they have to be constantly stimulated? That they can be rude to people? (Because it is rude, to ignore the waiter who’s waiting to take your order, if you’re trying to beat level 3067 on Candy Crush, or whatever and he’s waiting for your drink order.)

At Mass I see 8-9-10 year olds playing around instead of paying attention. Guys. Why is this happening? Why have we become so involved in our screens? Why are we not involved in the people around us? Also, why must we be “available” all the time? Really? ALL THE TIME?

Also, I’ve noticed that I’m a lot happier when I’m not on Facebook 24/7. It’s a great resource, and I do connect to people with it. There are things I like about it. But geez, I’ve been so much happier without living on it during the holidays. There’s a lesson there.

(Lara Casey’s new book Make it Happen is huge on this part. Absolutely huge.)

Around the house::

Decluttering, cleaning closets, mopping, vacuuming, putting things away. The general post-Christmas insanity and I’m trying to defeat it. 😛

Food::

Making chocolate gingerbread as a new year’s day dessert, and also the Guinness Cake for a party of sorts on Friday. Tomorrow is sweet and sour pork, because for some reason I eat Chinese on New Year’s Eve. Why is this?

family::

I had a great time with my family over Christmas–seeing all my aunts, uncles, cousins, and my sister, who was here from Houston (she leaves tomorrow) is always fun. Especially when there are cute little children that read books to me and cal my name and ask to sit in my lap. I love that part. 🙂

Daybook 76

Daybook 76

Outside my window::

Totally clouded over. It was really pretty but really humid yesterday, and I think it’s raining outside now. Not that I mind rain and clouds, because they’re good knitting/reading/tea days.

Wearing::

Jeans and an Oakland Zoo (Pitt) t-shirt. I’m being lazy right now.

Reading::

Jodi Picoult’s Leaving Time comes out today. I was very lucky to snatch up an ARC (advanced reading copy) at an event a few weeks ago, and I have to tell you, this book is amazing. Read it. I want to write more about this book but not until more peeps have read it, so….get on it. 🙂

Taking up Swann’s Way again as well. During Tech Week/Performance weeks I load up my bag with books I’ve been meaning to read, and this is on the top of the pile. I re-read The Joy Luck Club earlier this week and found I really didn’t like the book as much as the movie! Also re-reading Outlander, and I’m on An Echo In The Bone.

Creativity:

A lot on this front. Dolly opens on Friday–gulp gulp double gulp. NaNoWriMo 2014 is live, so I’ve been drafting out my novel for that–thus far it involves opera and Italians (a good combination, of course!). And I’ve also been knitting. I can purl fine when I do an entire row of purl, but when I start with a knit stitch border it all goes to hell. Ideas? I really want to start a basket weave scarf but I can’t if I can’t manage to knit and purl in the same row!

Cooking::

Well I have lots of plans but this week is a mess with the cooking…so busy. Trying valiantly and possibly failing to get it under control!

Family::

my sister is in town! She moved to Texas over the summer and this is her first trip back since then. Her birthday is on Friday so we celebrated early on Sunday at a local restaurant. Yesterday we had lunch and coffee together before I had to run to a doctor’s appointment. It’s been great to see her!

Theater::

Well, Dolly, really, all the time. We’re in dress rehearsals now. I’m hoping on of the lovely ladies in the cast can do something with my ridiculous hair….I am so hair impaired it’s not even funny.

Health::

I went to the dermatologist yesterday. Part of post-transplant life is making sure that you take care of your skin with sun protection, because we are super photosensitive (meaning we can burn a lot faster than other people due to the meds), and getting regular skin checks. I go about every six months. Nothing out of the ordinary at this appointment so that’s a good thing. We have a much higher risk of cancer compared to the general population, and skin cancer in particular, so it’s very important to stay on top of these things. Fortunately I’ve never been much of a sun bunny.

Around the house::

Today is a house day, meaning I’m going to clean and tackle some projects here (filing, bill paying, etc.) that I need to do. This gets super important during tech week because otherwise the house can become a monster of utterly terrifying proportions due to neglect. 😛

From the iPhone:

chalk ohio

During a local shopping district’s chalk art festival–isn’t this great?

Seven Quick Takes Vol. 30

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I.

First snow of the season yesterday. And by “snow” I mean there were some flakes falling that sort of stuck to the wood pile at my parents’ house. So no real accumulation, although the kids at the bus stop in the morning were trying to eat the snowflakes, which I have to say is one of the fun things about snowflakes, even if it does make me think of Lucy in Charlie Brown Christmas.

(She says January snowflakes are better than December snowflakes. Maybe they’re like wine and they improve as winter goes on? No idea.)

If you’re new here, this is how I feel about snow: I like it from now until Jan. 1. Then the holidays are over, and I’m done with snow.

II.

So this morning the State Highway Patrol had “training exercises” at work. Good thing there were lots of signs, otherwise I would’ve had a heart attack upon seeing five heavily armed and armored men entering my office. It was like the FBI raid scene in ET + The Hurt Locker all in one. Crazy.

III.

Tonight is the opening of the last weekend for And Then There Were None. I am sad, because I really like this cast, but at least we have three shows and a cast party left! I’m hoping I can finish my grandma’s Christmas scarf while I sit backstage tonight. 🙂

IV.

Speaking of Christmas gifts, here are a few suggestions: Soap and/or candles from these nuns, and rosaries from these sisters. Affordable and Holy! 🙂 Reason for the season! All that stuff!

V.

In terms of cute: This picture of Baby Prince George and his parents. I mean, too cute.

“Yes, I am awesome! I am fourth in line to the throne! I want cake! Hurray!” 

And this one:

“Yeah, whatever, I’m clearly the cutest thing here. Where is cake. (Yeah, I don’t have teeth. What does that have to do with anything?)” 

VI.

The Pope on confession: It’s not a torture chamber.

VII.

PS: Note about the queen’s outfit, above. Someone must make her hats and coats together, because that degree of fabric match is pretty incredible. And what will that person do when the queen dies? Because I can’t see Charles going about in hats and coats like these. And I really don’t want to, either.

Catholic Women’s Almanac No. 40

Outside my window: 

Clouds moving in. We’re supposed to get a cold front that’ll bring frost/freeze weather. Yeah Ohio in October. I mean I don’t like snow, but I don’t like the 80s in October, either. This is fine with me. 🙂

Reading::

Finished House Like a Lotus, so re-reading Mother Teresa and Me. Also trying to finish A Feast for Crows.

Wearing::

Nutmeg colored cashmere V-neck sweater and a rust/cream/brown skirt. I had on boots that matched the sweater earlier, but I’m home so they’re off. 🙂

Praying::

For pregnant friends

For Thomas Peters

for Elizabeth D., blog friend. 🙂

For friends who are sick/going through medical procedures.

Pondering::

Do we really think that eliminating suffering is what makes life worth living? Do people actually think it’s possible to eliminate it? Because it’s not…

From the kitchen::

Just sandwiches tonight. It’s the first week post-show, so I’m not up to much more than that.

In the CD player::

the Original Broadway Cast of Aida. But might change it to Loreena McKennit soon here.

Crafting::

Hoping to finish grandma’s Christmas scarf this week. Then on to a scarf for me. 🙂

Fitness: 

Back to the Pure Barre classes, since I missed them last week due to Tech Week insanity.

Plans for the week::

Workout tomorrow and W; clean up rehearsal tentatively scheduled for Thursday. Show Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and CCD on Sunday morning.

 

Captured::

 

Seven Quick Takes Friday Vol. 29

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I.

So last night was Opening Night for “And Then There Were None.” Here are some pictures from Tech Week, with me and my lovely stage husband. We had a great crowd, including my parents, last night, and everyone did a wonderful job onstage. So I think we’re all quite pleased. Backstage we had a rousing discussion of literature (one of my favorite kinds of rousing discussions!) and travel. It was much fun. I get some reading in while the others are finishing Act I, because no one else disappears until the end of the act.

The show has five more performances–two this weekend and three next weekend–so if you’re local, come on out!

II.

Books: I’ve read Emily Freeman’s Million Little Ways, which I really liked, and now I’m into Madeline L’Engle’s “O’Keefe Family  trilogy”, which deals with Calvin and Meg from the Wrinkle Quintet and their kids, especially Poly (who’s name is really Polyhymnia–egads!). I finished The Arm of the Starfish and am about 1/2 through Dragons in the Waters. I’m also almost done with A Feast for Crows. One nice thing about dying early–reading time! 🙂

III.

The Christmas scarves near completion. I think that may be tomorrow’s project backstage–finishing the Christmas scarf. Then I want to start a sort of scarf/wrap for me, because it’s definitely getting colder here. I think it’ll be like 45 today and it’s raining. Not that I mind–that’s great stay in weather, and my fireplace is going, and I have coffee–but it does mean scarf for Emily time. I’ve got some lovely Quince and Co. yarn that I can’t wait to knit up for me.

IV.

I missed my pure barre classes this week because of tech week, but I’m back at it on Monday. I’ve actually missed going to class. This is weird. Fortunately I’ve gone to enough classes now that I have an idea of things I can do at home, so I don’t want to be totally lost when I’m back on Monday.

V.

In CCD this week, we’re talking about Adam and Eve. This is actually week one of two weeks on Adam and Eve. I guess we want to make sure the kids really get the story. The Fall is next week, so this week is about how great Eden was, and what God gave Adam and Eve to do, and so forth. Have I mentioned I love my class? Because I do. They are a bunch of great kids.

VI.

One of the “hot spots” (as the FlyLady says) in my house is my kitchen table. It tends to just be a mess. So this week I decided that maybe if I have flowers there, it will look better? As in, I can keep the table clear? So far it’s working. I’ve got golden chrysanthemums, some snap dragons, tiger lilies, and two roses in a green mason jar for a vase.

VII.

A huge pet peeve of mine is stores other than grocery stores that are open on Thanksgiving. Really, guys?

I live in a section off a street that has a Target, Best Buy, Wal-Mart, etc. on it. And every Thanksgiving I see people skipping time with their families to buy cheap video games and washers and dryers and TV sets. This really gets my goat.

These stores should not be open. The employees are going to have to get up at the crack of dawn anyway for Black Friday. They should have a day–a few hours–with their families before the commercial madness.

And the consumers in line? SHAME ON YOU. Really. You “need” an item so badly that you’re going to wait in (what is usually) crappy Ohio weather for it? ARE YOU INSANE?

Yes. The answer is yes. And every year, I hate this.

Today I read an article that said JCPenney is opening at 8 PM on Thanksgiving. This is wrong. So, so wrong.

People: please. Don’t shop on Thanksgiving, unless it’s to buy a new turkey to replace the one you ruined. Please.

And Then There Were None pictures

from first dress rehearsal on Monday; my apron is being taken up, thanks. 🙂

I did not invite a disembodied voice for dinner.....

I did not invite a disembodied voice for dinner…..

Because drinking brandy solves everything in this show

Because drinking brandy solves everything in this show

Me and my husband, Tom.

Me and my husband, Tom.

A four course dinner on my hands and no one to help me.

A four course dinner on my hands and no one to help me.

My husband is a slacker

My husband is a slacker

Disney Journal No. 9–the last day :(

Friday

I really didn’t want to leave. Really, really, really didn’t want to leave.

The Beach Club was so homey, so Downton Abbey in the awesome staff, and with the pool and the fireworks and the food…it was truly a great place. Every day the flowers were replaced in the lobby, which always smelled of orchids. I loved the solarium, the cheerful lifeguards who talked to every kid in their section, the awesome families, and the beautiful architecture.

I loved Flounder and Sebastian on my rug!

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But, sadly, we had to leave. But not without some last minute pin trading and Beaches and Cream.

(And I grabbed a few more Mickey Rice Krispy treats for the road. I ate the last one earlier this week. SO GOOD.)

Cape May Cafe  put up a pin trading board every day after they closed post-breakfast. There was a two pin limit (meaning you could trade two of your pins for two on the board, at a maximum. You didn’t have to trade two, if there weren’t two pins you wanted.) (And yes, I’m posting more on pin trading later!). So I had to get in one last trading session, and got an Iago and Cinderella pin for my collection, swapping two Star Wars pins.

Then I met Dad at Beaches and Cream, for our farewell burgers and chocolate Cokes. It was the only time we ate there that we got a booth, so huzzah!

Beaches and Cream entrance

Beaches and Cream entrance

Dad hadn’t had the burger yet, so I told him he must have it before we left. In total, we had the hot dog, the falafel, the soup and grilled cheese, the burger, and the Turkey sandwich. And the Milky Way Sundae. Dad also enjoyed the Orange Dream a few times as his beverage of choice (I loved the little candied orange pieces on the whipped cream topping.)  We finished our meal with two scoops of Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream. So we did a pretty good job on the menu front.

Beaches and Cream theming

Beaches and Cream theming

mmmmmmm. The buns and pickles are made on-site.

mmmmmmm. The buns and pickles are made on-site.

After the meal we took some last photos of the pool, hotel, and solarium.

In the Solarium

In the Solarium

View from the Solarium

View from the Solarium

The orchids all over the Beach Club.

The orchids all over the Beach Club.

Beach Club as seen from the lake walkway

Beach Club as seen from the lake walkway

And then, it was time to head north. 😦

Dad had filled up the car at the local Hess station, so we were ready to go. He brought the car around to the front and we were heading to Atlanta.

Au revoir, Beach Club!

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Disney Journal No. 8–batten down the hatches!

Thursday

So it rained part of every day I was at Disney. But on Thursday, we had a tropical storm. At first I just thought it was more rain; neither of us were reading the paper or really checking news sites, and we weren’t watching any TV (except hockey, sigh).

So I couldn’t do my normal morning swim, so I headed to the Solarium.

The solarium

The solarium

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main room of the solarium

main room of the solarium

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Custom art

Custom art

Hidden mickeys!

Hidden mickeys!

not really hidden. :)

not really hidden. 🙂

but this one was!

but this one was!

 

I loved the solarium. There was a TV on with Disney Chanel (natch) and Disney movies, and a lot of people were in and out since it was raining outside. I took my journals and books down there and did some reading and writing.

Dad joined me around 10:30, since the last conference session  ended early that morning, and we headed over to the Yacht Club to look for souvenirs for us and for mom and the siblings. Here I got a few more pins and my pin trading book (there is a whole post coming about pin collecting, folks), and a WDW Hoodie I’d been desiring. 😉 Then we headed back to the Beach Club where I did some pin trading, we headed up to the room and dropped our purchases, and had lunch at Beaches and Cream. We really liked Beaches and Cream. I had the tomato bisque and the six cheese grilled cheese and Dad had the falafel. I also taught him the wonders of Chocolate Diet Coke. (Trust me. It’s awesome.)

We went to the Solarium for a bit and then it stopped raining! So we could swim! Yay! I as especially keen to show Dad the whirpool I’d discovered inside Stormalong Bay.

whirpool lurking

whirpool lurking

It totally took me by surprise the first time I ended up inside, unawares! But it was a lot of fun. Really, everything about that pool was fun. We also conquered the lazy river although Dad wanted it to be faster (Dad. It’s a lazy river, I tell him…)….

Dinner was–where else?–Beaches and Cream.

We had an awesome waiter from Ohio and sat at the counter next to a dad and his three boys from Dublin.

My favorite photo from the trip.

My favorite photo from the trip.

 

(That sundae is a Milky Way Sundae. It’s really, really good.)

After dinner we headed over to the Boardwalk where–what else?–it started to rain. We bought a Mickey umbrella. And some more pins. 🙂

We ended our last full Day in Orlando with another viewing of the EPCOT fireworks show from our balcony.

 

 

Disney Journal No. 7: EPCOT!

or: Apres moi, le deluge–Louis XV

(That’ll make sense in a minute. Trust me.)

So Wednesday was the last full conference day for dad, so we headed to EPCOT (which was, not kidding, right next door to our hotel) around 3:50. A fellow Ohioan (a woman from Dayton) was our ticket taker (although they really are no “ticket takers”, anymore. It’s all electronic: you hold your card over the Mickey Mouse head and it lights up when it’s accepted, then you put your finger on a scanner so that no one else can use your ticket if you lose it. ONLY YOU. This is more helpful for multi-day passes, not so much for us, because once we were in, we weren’t using those particular tickets again. The tickets are like credit cards–plastic, about that size, with Disney characters on them.)

I wanted to see the World Showcase first, because that’s the part I was most interested in. As we came in, the UK Pavilion was to our left, so we headed there first.

Mary Poppins in the UK Pavilion

Mary Poppins in the UK Pavilion

UK Pavilion

UK Pavilion

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Rose and Crown pub

Rose and Crown pub

The one place I really wanted to go? Here.

Twinings!! AKA Jane Austen's tea.

Twinings!! AKA Jane Austen’s tea.

I love tea, especially Twinings, and I did love it before I found out it was what Jane drank (there are references in her letters to trips to Twining’s in London for tea). The store is technically called “The Tea Caddy”, but I just called it the Twinings Place. 🙂 Here I bought a tin of Coronation Tea and a cookbook called Eating Royally, which was written by Princess Diana’s former chef. He also cooked for the Queen and the rest of the royal family. (And yes, the book has Prince William and Duchess Catherine’s wedding cake in it.)

Remember the deluge part? YEah. This is where it started.

It was a true deluge. Pouring, pouring rain. Fortunately Dad had brought out Disney ponchos, so some of us was dry (not my feet. Oh, so totally, not my feet.). We tried waiting it out in The Tea Caddy but eventually decided to soldier on to France.

La Belle France

La Belle France

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Even in the rain, France is gorgeous. We decided to take shelter in their theater and watch the film Impressions de France, which was truly amazing. I’m sort of glad for the rain because otherwise I don’t know if we would have done this! I highly recommend it.

Impressions de France theater

Impressions de France theater

Le chefs de France

Le chefs de France

I loved these pillars in France

I loved these pillars in France

French fountains. C'est magnifique!

French fountains. C’est magnifique!

c'est le mieux

c’est le mieux

After the video, we continued our trek around the World Showcase. Our end point would be Mexico on the other side of the lagoon. We had dinner reservations for 6:30 at La Hacienda San Angel. From point to point, the World Showcase is a mile long, so we were definitely going to get some walking in.

Norway: A stave

Norway: A stave

Vikings!

Vikings!

Norway

Norway

Germany shops

Germany shops

Werther's shop display in Germany

Werther’s shop display in Germany

The popcorn we bought here was amazing–covered in Werther’s caramel and dark chocolate. Holy. Moly.

delicious

delicious

anything with Dopey on it, I love.

anything with Dopey on it, I love.

German glass art

German glass art

"A symbol of thy royalty" (name that movie)

“A symbol of thy royalty” (name that movie)

Germany pavilion

Germany pavilion

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Oktoberfest!

Oktoberfest!

We reached Mexico earlier than we planned, and fortunately, they took us early!

View from La Hacienda

View from La Hacienda

Love those lamps

Love those lamps

celebratory dessert

celebratory dessert

La Hacienda dining room

La Hacienda dining room

We both ordered the fish tacos, and I had a wonderful rose margarita, which came topped with actual rose petals and was rimmed in Hyacinth flavored sea salt. It was like drinking the best perfume. I loved it. Dad, not so much. (I know a took a picture….it’s hiding somewhere. I’ll try to post it at some point.) And yes, even without the button, we got a celebratory dessert, because Dad told our waitress, Fatima (from Mexico City) about our celebration. You can see that above. It’s AMAZING.

Something strange happened here–two parties were seated, one after the other, and both got up and left before they even ordered anything! And the first couple had ADR, as seen by their print out that were were carrying in the restaurant. Weirdest thing I’d ever seen. Who does that?

Fortified by dinner and a strong cocktail (well, on my part) we went back around the showcase. It had stopped raining, thankfully. (This is when I took most of my pictures.)

At Snow White's wishing well in Germany

At Snow White’s wishing well in Germany

China

China

In Italy, I bought a necklace with Venetian glass pieces.

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Fountains in Morocco

Fountains in Morocco

Bella Italia

Bella Italia

At this point, we had seen all we wanted to see and it was about 8:30ish. Our feet were not super happy with us, so we decided to head back to the hotel and be back in our room so we could see the fireworks by 9:00. We made one stop on the way out so I could buy a t-shirt for my friend Mary.

Originally bought at Bonjour Village in the Magic Kingdom, I found one at Epcot for a friend back home.

Originally bought at Bonjour Village in the Magic Kingdom, I found one at Epcot for a friend back home.