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Monday, November 30, 2009

Happy 98th Birthday, Mawmaw!

Happy 98th birthday to my grandmother Zula! 

She has 2 daughters
 2 grandsons & 2 granddaughters
2 great-grandsons and 3 great-granddaughters!

Here we are at Christmas last year

Decked out for our St. Patrick's Day 2009 party

And Thomas and Brennan with BOTH of my grandmothers!

I am so fortunate to have both of my grandmothers still, and am thrilled that the boys get to spend a good amount of time with both.

Happy Birthday, Mawmaw!  We love you!

Happy 40th Ginger!

Ginger (in the pink) turned 40 on Wednesday!  She celebrated her day with an office full of over the hill balloons and a night out with friends.

First up, The Fork, for drinks with girlfriends.

Then Lora and I joined Ginger and the hubbies for a wonderful dinner at Tre Bicchieri.  It was a ton of fun!  Happy Birthday, Ginger!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Who can take a sunrise, sprinkle it with dew?

Cover it in chocolate and a miracle or two?
The candy man can 'cause he mixes it with love
And makes the world taste good.

Brennan and I went to see "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" today at our local independent theater.  It was the original version, made the year I was born - 1971 - so the really old one as Brennan says.

Bren loves this movie.  It brings back great memories because I first learned about this book in the 6th grade.  Mr. O'Donnell read the book to us while we ate our lunch in the classroom each day in Ansbach, Germany.  A few years later I saw the movie and have always liked it.

Us as the lights were dimming

I have never liked the fact that Grandpa Joe was bedridden for 20 years but once Charlie won the golden ticket, he just hopped out of bed and danced a jig.  Hmmm......

And how fortunate that Grandpa Joe and Charlie didn't get shipped home when they decide not to follow the rules and drank the fizzy drinks, floating up to the ceiling.  The other 4 kids weren't so lucky - they broke the rules and were out of there.

The Oompa Loompas were great.

I read awhile back that Charlie (Peter Ostrum is his name I think) retired from the movie business after this movie.  He's a vet in New England I believe.

Hard to imagine anyone other than Gene Wilder playing Willy Wonka.  While I like Johnny Depp, his Willy Wonka was just strange.

Brennan has a thing for musicals made in the 1965-1971 range.  I'm not sure what it is.  But among his favorites are "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang", "Mary Poppins", and "Sound of Music" and of course, Willy Wonka.  I have to admit - they are pretty great.

Brennan loved it so I am glad I was able to join him.  It was a lot of fun to see it on the big screen!


I let my boss know last week that in 2010 I would be resigning, after almost 15 years with the company.  It was a surprise, of course, and it led to a really good discussion.  It's hard to explain why it feels important to make this change, but it does feel right. 

Above are some of the things I want to focus on instead.  David, the boys, MYSELF, the house, and family things we love like cooking, bike riding, tennis, traveling, and spending time with our family.  Of course, all of those things have been part of our lives all along.  But life feels so rushed, chaotic, and focused on what's coming up next.  I want to enjoy what's right in front of me instead.

I've already felt a sense of calm in just knowing that I'm transitioning to a simpler way of living.  I'm still working, but it's much more enjoyable this week, knowing what changes are ahead in 2010.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Christmas in Indy

We headed to downtown Indy last night to see the Christmas lights! Monument Circle always looks great this time of year.

After driving around to see the lights, we had a wonderful meal at Buca di Beppo. The boys had fettucine alfredo, Italian sodas, and gelato. David and I shared the linguine frutti di mare (topped with lots of seafood) and tiramisu. I had a really yummy basil-lemon mojito.

The Statehouse

Slippery Noodle Inn. We didn't take the boys in, but I would love to spend a little more time with David in downtown Indy sometime. There are so many great shops and places to hear music and have a drink.

Easy Ornament Christmas Wreath

I have seen these wreaths on several blogs recently and really wanted to try one myself. Thanks to all of David's help with the pliers, it was pretty easy!

Step 1.
Find a cheap, thin, easy to bend wire hanger. While still twisted at the top, form into somewhat of a circle shape.

Step 2. Using the pliers, cut off the rounded hook portion of at the top of the hanger (the part that hangs on the rod). Untwist the twisted part so that the hanger opens up.

Step 3. Using a hot glue gun, glue the ornament hangers onto the ornaments themselves. I didn't remove the toppers, just ran some glue around them to keep them in place.

Step 4. Slide the ornaments on the wire. Twist the twisted part closed again and bend the twisted part down.

Step 5. Hang with a coordinated ribbon.

I'm really happy with the way mine turned out. I'm not going to mention how many ornaments we lost because I neglected to glue a couple of the ornament toppers to the ornaments and because the ribbon was slippery (David felt soooo bad). But it's easy to just add a few more ornaments and finish her up.

Total Time: About an hour and a half.

I'm really happy with it and had planned to make another two for the other windows (which was the plan all along). But last night we were pulling up to the house and David said, "Wow! That looks great!" I think it makes a big enough statement on its own.

Thanksgiving 2009

It was a really fun Thanksgiving day. David and I got up to get old Tom in the oven and fix the rest of the dishes we were preparing. Our friends were going to arrive around 11:30 for a late lunch. The boys were sooooo excited! They love this tradition each year. As do we!

David and I followed the Barefoot Contessa's turkey recipe this year. Herbed butter between the skin and meat, vegetables in the cavity to provide flavor. Lots of salt and pepper. It turned out really well - very moist. We've brined before, and tried a few other cooking methods too. This one was one of our better efforts.

In addition to the turkey, we made 2 appetizers - beer bread/cheesy chive dip (courtesy of Tastefully Simple)and sausage balls, pilgrim hats, cranberry sauce, and Mai Tai's (I was trying to get rid of the Orgeat Syrup in the fridge).

Leslee and Candy brought pumpkin pies, homemade roles, appetizers, green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, potatoes au gratin, and 2 types of dressing. It was all really delicious!

The kids had a ton of fun playing together. We made use of the pilgrim attire bought for another purpose earlier this year! We are truly thankful for our many local friends who make up our family in Indiana since our family is so far away.

Now, on to Christmas!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Headless Horseman

Thomas's 4th grade class is putting on two plays this week for their school and another elementary school in town. Yesterday I was able to attend their first performances before the big production today.

Thomas plays The Messenger/Party Guest in "The Headless Horseman", delivering some critical lines. He is also co-responsible for sound effects. He did a great job and I was so proud of all of the students. They've been working hard on the plays. David is attending today's performance and is looking forward to seeing T on the big stage.

The Messenger and Ichabod Crane

Party at the Van Tassel home

Cast photo op

The other half of the class put on "A Christmas Carol". Ebenezer Scrooge hiding from the Ghost of Christmas Past.

Chistmas with the Cratchits. God Bless Us, Every One!

God Bless Butterball

I cook the turkey for our large Thanksgiving gathering at our house each year. I love to do it. We've tried a number of ways to cook the turkey and this time we're following The Barefoot Contessa's advice.

But I would be lost without this site - The Butterball website. It helps me figure out how large a bird I need, when to start thawing him, and how long to cook Old Tom. I'd be calling my mom everyday in November without it. I've got it bookmarked for Thursday a.m. when I can't remember if it's 325 or 350.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Wrapping Paper Coasters

Last year at Thanksgiving I discovered the blog world and it put me in a craft sort of mood. Last Christmas I attempted to paint ornaments, and they turned out OK, but it's so obvious I'm a novice. Not like so many other ladies whose blogs I look at each week. So here it is again, the holidays are upon us and I'm really loving all the great holiday craft blog posts. I took on one that Traci assured her readers was easy. Hers are adorable and I couldn't wait to try them out.

Wrapping paper coasters. I'm happy with the way mine turned out!

I first tried out the monogram coasters, but David wasn't that excited. He got the tiles and cork and was interested in this project. But my monograms weren't all that cute. I think a large monogram stamp might work out better. Although I might have done something wrong because Traci's were cute. Our paper was too white and the contrast with the white tile just didn't work for David.

So, after church I went in search of Christmas napkins like those coasters I've seen online, when David came up with an ingenious thought - why not use wrapping paper instead of napkins? Wow - I have (tons of) wrapping paper. It's worth a shot. What a GREAT idea - it worked very, very well.

I first used my scrapbooking cutter to cut images that would fit on the 4x4 tiles. This cutter has come in handy over the years. I find so many uses for it.

Once I assembled my tools, the tiles were very easy to assemble.

I put a layer of Mod Podge on the tiles and then placed a wrapping paper image in the center. Another coat of Mod Podge and 30 minutes or so to dry.

It's amazing when they dry. I then take the time to try to flatten any wrinkles. I think some wrinkles give them character though. Mod Podge is pretty cool.

Final steps: hot glue cork to the bottom of the tiles and spray well with adhesive. David found these cork cut-outs at Hobby Lobby and they worked really well. Much easier than having to cut cork the right size. I made the mistake of spraying the first set of coasters with the adhesive spray IN THE KITCHEN. An hour and a headache later, the smell finally cleared. I'll be doing the others outside.

Tie them up with cute ribbon and they are ready for a great hostess gift. I'm just so pleased with the fact that I could do these!