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31 December 2011

Happy New Year England!

Just got off the phone with my Mum.  We always celebrate seeing the New Year in together.   She always turns up her telly and I do the same and we watch the fireworks over London and listen to Big Ben together.  We've done it for years now.  It's always so nice to be able to say 'see you later this year'. 

Now I have to see if I can stay up and see in the 'second' New Year, the one here.  I have to be at work at 5am so we'll see. 

30 December 2011

Feeling Lazy...and have a cold - sniff, sniff

Woke up yesterday with a cold, little bit of sore throat, my nose won't stop running and I keep sneezing!  Yesterday at work I sneezed, would blow my nose, wash my hands and wouldn't even get the paper in the bin before I started sneezing again!  Happened about 5 times in a row.  :(    Thankfully it did get better throughout the day.

Woke up again with same thing.  Not getting any worse thankfully. 

Feeling really lazy.  I did get up to go to work, put in my eight hours, came home and felt drained and really, really cold.  Turned up the heat, piled on the blankets, laid on the couch and fell asleep.  There is so much I should be doing, cleaning that just needs to be done, but I can't get up the energy. 

While I'm sitting with my computer I think I'll work on a 2012 list of goals - things I would like to accomplish in the upcoming year.  All this inbetween blowing my nose.

29 December 2011

Our Dog Ben

Ben is a Black Lab.  He is about 14 years old.  He has never shown an interest in presents or wrapping paper.  Suddenly this year round about DD's birthday he decided he wanted to play with the paper.  No, not just play with the paper, but open the presents.  Seems to have got worse by Christmas.  He was sitting beside one of us trying to get the presents out of our hands!!!!  We have never wrapped him up anything before (as he had never shown interest).  This year we did.  We wrapped up a large milk bone in paper.  It was so funny to see him opening it!

28 December 2011

Phew - I'm glad it's OVER!

I am glad it is finally over.  I was lucky enough to have Saturday, Sunday and Boxing Day (Monday) off.  I was so glad to have the Monday off.  It was nice to do absolutely nothing.  Well, I did vacuum, but other than that I sat in my chair in my lounging clothes and read.  It's the first time in weeks I've done a lot of nothing. 

Work was HORRIBLE last week.  Customers were grumpy and rude and it was crazy busy.  People were so impatient.  You would think some of them had been waiting for ages, but if they came up to the desk with a couple items and they had to wait (it is a Service Desk afterall and people are buying money orders, lottery, returning items etc) they would get really rude.  Duh, try the Express Lane - it might be quicker!  And if one more person would complain they were in a hurry on Christmas Eve I would have decked them.  Really?  And nobody else is in a hurry or has somewhere else to be?  Grrrr.....

We have a couple days reprieve before the New Year shopping frenzy begins.

Holiday Cooking


Jam and Almond Thumbprints

Just a couple of the things DD and I made.  I baked some for a potluck at school, more for our home movie night on the 24th and more to take over to MIL on Christmas Day.  

23 December 2011

Happy Solstice/Yule/Christmas/Hannukah/Kwanzaa

Whatever tradition you follow at this time of year I hope everyone has an enjoyable holiday season.

Sometimes I think we're all running around like crazy, trying to create the 'perfect' holiday and forgetting what is really important.  I see this time as a time to remember what is important in life- family and friends and taking time to enjoy them.

I really miss my Mum and family this time of year.  I haven't spent a Christmas season at home since I came to America.  I miss Christmas Pudding, Yorkshire Pudding, Crackers, a little drink, trifle and the Queen's Speech.  I try to incorporate a little of everything into our family celebration but it isn't the same.  I always talk to my Mum on Christmas Day and listen to the laughter in the background.  My hubby's family is more subdued, they don't indulge in drink of any kind.  There are no games, no charades, no silly jokes from crackers. 

Oh, don't get me wrong.  We get along well together and everyone has a good time, but it just isn't the same as I remember from childhood.  The hubby, kids and I have started new traditions of our own - we always have movie night on the 24th.  Not sure how long it will last.  They are all getting older and will soon start traditions of their own, with families of their own.

So on Christmas Eve Eve I am going to take a deep breath and try to enjoy what is really important in life - family!

20 December 2011

My Baby turned 18

Yesterday my baby turned 18.  A milestone for her and for me.  I now officially have no more 'children'.  They are all considered adults.  How old does that make me?  Yikes. 

I remember the day she was born.  She had been a surprise baby, unplanned, but welcomed all the same.  After the last one I wasn't sure I wanted any more.  The labour had not been good and when I found out I was pregnant with DD I was scared.  I left it a long time before going to the hospital - the last time the hospital had been the worst of it.  I almost left it too late! 

She was born while I was still wearing my winter coat - it's cold here in Michigan.  We made it to the hospital and up to the labour room but there it stopped.  We had chosen not to find out whether the baby would be a boy or a girl and she was a great surprise as we already had two boys. 

She was the best surprise I have ever received.  She's a great young woman, smart and confident.  Come June she will graduate from High School and in the Autumn she will be heading out on her own to Uni. 

Happy Birthday DD!

17 December 2011

Ahead of the Game...

I have actually wrapped presents!  I am usually such a procrastinator and am finally ahead of the game! 

It always seems as though I leave Yule/Christmas things to the last minute.  This year I tried to organise a little better and seem to have things in hand.  I had some holiday hours left and have been taking an extra day off for a couple weeks. It certainly seems to help.  I have a couple more things to buy tomorrow and I should be about done.

Speedy Postal Service

Wow!  What quick service!  Last Saturday I posted my Mum's package off to her.  I was very proud of myself as I actually got things done in time.  Post Office said it might not make it there in time for Christmas (it was sent priority but they couldn't guarantee it).  I had told Mum I'd email her to let her know when I'd posted it so she could keep an eye out for it.  I was going to talk to her Wednesday so figured I'd tell her then.

When I rang she said the package had already arrived - on TUESDAY!  How is that for good service?  All the way from America to England!  We both were stunned.  Great job Post Office!

16 December 2011

15 December 2011

I'm feeling like a ....

...hamster running around on one of those wheels.  I feel like I'm going a mile a minute and getting nowhere! 

At work I seem to be running around like crazy and I'm still behind!

At home things are piling up and nothing seems to be happening.  I take stuff from the table to the bed and back to the table again.  The living room is a mess, so is the kitchen, recycle out of hand and DD has friends coming over this weekend.  I feel like our house is waaaayyy too small and we're bursting at the seams. I have the whole weekend off (DD's birthday is on Monday) so hopefully I'll catch up with something. 

We have to go shopping for a Yule Tree and then I can get the gifts beneath it. 

11 December 2011

New Favourite Christmas Song

Here this one of the Scott Mill's show.  I LOVE Tim Minchin!

10 December 2011

Good Day

I got up early - though later for me as my day usually begins at around 2.40am.  I was the first one up so had a little peace and quiet to greet the day.  Quiet in this house isn't easy - there are five of us living here.  My youngest will turn eighteen on Dec 19th. 

I packed up my Mum's box and got my sisters' cards ready and took them to the Post Office.  Hubby ended up driving me.  We went to a smaller PO and there was no-one in there when I arrived.   Unfortunately the clerk was having problems with the computer, luckily it didn't take long to fix.  Mum's package is now on its way - priority service and my purse is $45 lighter - ouch!  I am happy it is on its way.  Usually I am such a procrastinator and any gifts I usually get her arrive after Christmas.  I'm hoping this one makes it in time and things arrive in one peice.

Thought about shopping - spent too much money this week so stayed in.  YEAH for me!  Actual spending (after the PO) $0.  I did finish Peppermint Patties - my family LOVE these!

I've made these for years.  They are easy to make and taste just as good - if not better - than anything store bought.  Have included recipe below.


•1 pound confectioners' sugar

•3 Tablespoons butter or margarine, softened

•2 to 3 teaspoons peppermint extract

•1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

•1/4 cup evaporated milk

•2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

•2 Tablespoons shortening


In a bowl, combine confectioners' sugar, butter or margarine, peppermint extract, and vanilla extract. Add evaporated milk and mix well.

Roll into 1-inch balls and place on a waxed paper-lined cookie sheet. Chill for 20 minutes. Flatten with a glass to 1/4-inch thickness. Chill for 30 minutes.

In a double-boiler or microwave-safe bowl, melt chocolate chips and shortening. Dip patties and place on waxed paper to harden.

08 December 2011

Talk about waste...

Guess what each one of these boxes contained? 

1 book and 1 calendar.

How ridiculous is that?  Both came from Barnes & Noble.

My DD holding up all the plastic inside the boxes.

Cat hiding inside one of the boxes.

Dog playing with plastic - we didn't let him play for long and we watched him carefully.  He was so funny.  He's a really old dog - 14 years old - and today was the liveliest I've seen him for a long time. 

05 December 2011


Sometimes I just get in the mood to read blogs.  There are a couple I like to check in with and more that I tend to travel around.  It's so interesting to read about people's travels and lives.  I tend to look for frugal blogs - hoping to be inspired - and espeically those situated in England - helps alleviate the homesickness.  Usually at this time of year I get a little down.  Everyone is going on about how important it is to spend time with family and most of mine is so far away and I miss them.  I call Mum on Christmas Day.  She usually spends the day at my middle sister's house.  When I ring them they have already had their Christmas Dinner, the wine has been flowing and they are usually taking a break before eating the Christmas Pud.  I can hear the laughter in the background and wish that I was there.  My family is quite large, they laugh a lot (and tend to drink quite a bit!).  My Hubby's family is smaller, quieter and drink rarely flows.  I haven't spent a Christmas home in twenty years. 

I try to keep things upbeat for my 'kids'.  When they were little I tried to keep busy and tried not to cry in front of them when I got really homesick.  I hate the song I'll be Home for Christmas.  I won't be.  Oh I love my kids and hubby dearly and wouldn't spend a Christmas away from them, but I have hopes that when they move on with their lives I can at least spend one more Christmas home with my Mum and sisters and their families.

Deep breath. Anyway on an upbeat note, here are a couple of the blogs I absolutely LOVE

This is a GREAT blog about a woman in her sixties who retired early and about the travels she goes on.  I envy her.  She goes on travels around her part of England, taking pictures and walking the hills and valleys.  There are some FANTASTIC pictures on her blog.

Living a Frugal life.  I enjoy reading this one.

No, this isn't a link to my own blog, but a link to another Ex-Pat though I think she's made it back to England!

03 December 2011

DECEMBER already?

This year feels like it's flown by!  I can't belief it's the beginning of December already. This is not one of my most favourite times of the year.  I am not a snow person yet I moved to a place that gets a LOT of snow.  I usually wish away the weeks and count the days until the time between snowfalls get longer and longer.

I've been doing some more stitching to give away as gifts.  I hope people appreciate the thought and time that went into a project but most people don't realise the time it takes to make a homemade gift.  I'm sure others who are crafty/creative encounter the same thing.  I haven't made gifts for a while partially because of that fact.  There are some people I woudn't give a handmade gift to even though IMO a handmade gift usually has a lot more thought put into it.  I have picked out patterns to stitch that match the person I am stitching them, I have spent precious time stitching the items and I hope people appreciate them.  Sometimes it takes another crafty person to appreciate a handmade gift. 

This is from a STITCHY KITTY free design.  For a while now my mother-in-law has been inviting an older woman from their community to spend the holiday with us.  She loves dogs and I think she'll really like this.

I've finished stitching this one but have yet to make it into anything.