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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Scenes of Snow

I think the whole country has had some snow, ice, or just a plain old blizzard in the last week.  Right now, the temperature here is climbing towards 40, and we have major fog and rain to make everything super messy.  Friday night, we're expecting temperatures to plunge to the teens, which means all the water sitting around will turn to ice, making for a delightful New Year's Eve.  Bud and I will probably stay home and safe with a movie, some champagne, and a great meal to end the year.  

Earlier this week, it was stunningly beautiful around town, so I took some photos of the trees.  They were amazing, and the steady snow on Christmas Eve was beautiful, even if it did create some extra shoveling!

Christmas Eve at 8 AM

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

One More Post For The Year

Image courtesy of:"
Folks, I'm taking a well needed rest for a few days, so I can concentrate all my powers on baking cookies, sipping limoncello, and working my last two days before Christmas!
Thanks to everyone for being so welcoming in the blogging world; thanks to all of my "Caboobles", who follow, comment, and always have such entertaining blogs themselves.  You're all such dears, and I am so happy to have met you this year!  And yes, I have decided my followers are Caboobles.  See, I said boob on my blog.  He he.  

I'll be back next week, after surviving another retail Christmas and looking forward to a whole new year full of new beginnings.  I'm pretty sure I'll win the lottery in 2011, so that will probably keep me busy for a bit.  
Oh, and also, I'll miraculously drop 20 pounds, learn to cook gourmet meals,  and run a 9 minute mile.  All in the first few months of 2011.  Yep, I can do that.  And I haven't forgotten my Pom-Pom friends, either.  

Merry Christmas, everyone!  Hugs and kisses to all!


Three Days Left-Tick Tock Tick Tock

Three days left.  Three more days of "I can help the next customer!" shouted at the top of my lungs.  Three more days of people standing in line, muttering "Oh my God!  This line is so long!" and then being amazed at how fast said line moves.  People see 6 registers, and one line, and freak out.  What they don't realize is that it actually moves much faster than cruising the lanes in Target, trying to guess which line will go faster.  I always lose on that one.  I get the person in front of me who has a price check, or five million items, or writes a check painfully  slow.  

I'm a fast cashier.  I don't mess around.  I smile, say "Hi, did you find everything okay?"  And then unleash the rapid register operator.  Rung up, bagged, and payment received quickly.  This is, of course, while other booksellers are asking me questions, the phone is ringing, and it's so loud I can't even hear the customer in front of me.  I'm in the Zone!  I wish I could capture that "Zone" when I'm running.  Crap, I would be the quickest runner around! 

I have to say, people haven't been too bad this year.  Coupons and extra sales in the store have brought out the happy in people, who are thrilled to save even more.  And for those people who suck all the information out of us and then decide to "look somewhere else", well, see ya.  There is no where else in Cedar Rapids.  We're the only bookstore in town that sells new books.  Sure, go to Target, and Walmart, and even Sams, and get your basic top ten books for a bit less.  But if you want someone to give you advice, talk about books, and show you stuff you've never even though about, come to our store.  It's what we do.  And we're good at it.

Saying that, I did notice a distinct shift in shoppers yesterday around 1 pm.  The atmosphere changed to one of dogged determination and "this isn't fun" anymore.  People have run out of steam, and are staggering around, grabbing what they can.  This is the fun part of Christmas, because there's no way we can order a book/DVD/CD for a customer and get it before Christmas.  No way.  So it cuts our stress dramatically.   But customers still try!  We are on the downward slope of the mountain, and only require sugar and coffee to keep going until 6pm on Christmas Eve. 

Well, I've put off getting ready for work as long as I can.  I think I'll stop and fortify myself with carbs before I go to work, and put on my game face.  

By the way, I made homemade limoncello.  Can I say just one shot of that perks you right up?  Then it puts you to sleep.  A good way to end the day.  Recipe to follow in another post.  I also made chocolate vodka, but I haven't tried it yet--I'm afraid it will kick my tushy.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Done Shopping

I decided today, after working and watching people go nuts, that I am done Christmas shopping.  No last minute gifts, no trying to pick up a little something somewhere.  I am done.  No more.  Nada.  Zippo.  Zilch.  I just cannot face the traffic, the people (who have been nice to me, so far--except for the dude who hung up on me cause he didn't like my offer to return his product for a refund), or the thoughts of trying to coherently make a decision on what else to buy.

Bud, bless his heart, continues to tell me all he wants is me for Christmas.  Well, that's not a gift I would give anyone, so I have bought him a few things.  I was going to try and pick up a few more, but I'm shutting it down!  What a relief to know I don't have to go to any stores anymore--except for groceries.  

Now, my big stressor is trying to actually deliver the gifts I've bought before Christmas to some family and friends.  I think probably Monday night will have to be my only chance.  I really can't just drive by, toss them out the window, and wish people a Merry Christmas.  That would look a bit odd, and with the snow on the ground, they'd soon be soggy.  Plus, we're getting more snow Sunday night, Monday, and maybe Tuesday, so I have to take that into consideration, too.  

So for tonight, I am safe and snug at home, doing laundry, sipping a glass of wine, and waiting for Bud so I can fall asleep in the middle of a movie.  My Christmas lights are on, and the pine scented candle is calming me down to an acceptable level of "OM".  

 And the ho-ho's I just snarfed down didn't hurt either.  

Empty calories that fill me with bliss

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Big Fat Duh!

Computers are a wonderful instrument to communicate, shop, stalk, and order stuff from online that you're too embarrassed to buy in a store.

My computer is also a potential instrument to showcase just how much I don't know what I'm doing with my blog.  Case in point:  I discovered I was following my own blog!  How did I do that?  And more importantly, how do I fix it?  Well, after much tooling around on my dashboard, and finding the help I needed, I am pleased to say I am down one more "follower"--that would be me.  Anyone else who has left my fledgling little blog--sorry we didn't hit it off.  No hard feelings-there will be more pretty pictures on my blog follower mosaic in the future.  (I remain optimistic people will find me in 2011!)  If not, I will keep blissfully blogging about my super exciting deluxe life that keeps even me on the edge of my seat!  :>}  Will she cook?  Will she run?  Will she read?  Hang on for a wild ride!  I really am tired, can you tell?

 I think I can safely say I need to get some sleep and possibly a manual for blogging purposes.  God knows what else I've done that I don't know about.  I'm pretty sure the Little Drummer Boy video I refer to in the previous post does not take you to a porn site--I did check it out before I posted it.  But just in case, put one hand over your face before you hit "play".  Proceed cautiously to look through your fingers until you see Will Farrell looking particularly odd in his bad wig and pancake makeup.  

Good night, all!

On My Christmas Song Hit List--But Made Oh So Much Better By Will Farrell!

For years I have been forced to listen to Bing Crosby and David Bowie sing "Little Drummer Boy" while I've been working.  There aren't many Christmas songs I loathe, but this is the top of my list.  I love other versions of this song, just not this one.   Now, Will Farrell has redone the 'classic' video of Bing and David with his Talladega cohort, John C. Reilly.  I find this one much more bearable, if only because Will makes a terrible David Bowie.

Hit this link and enjoy:  Little Drummer Boy  redux.  And then watch Elf.  Love that movie!

Sorry, I haven't figured out yet how to get a video actually on my blog.  More to learn in 2011!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Me And The Treadmill--I Remembered What I Forgot!

It was an earth-shattering moment today--I'm sure you felt the earth shift just a bit around 1:30 Central Time:  I went to the gym.  I had to confess to one of the personal trainers, (Wendy) that no, I hadn't been going early in the morning, I just hadn't been going at all.  Guilt times ten!

I've realized a few things from my visit to the gym today:
1.  I am pathetically out of shape.  Really bad.
2.  I can run again!  But, referring to the above statement, I can't run very far without wimping out.  I can't believe I ever trained and ran a marathon.  It seems like eons ago.  I have much work to do!
3.  The spinning classes, as explained by Wendy, are fun and not packed with people,  so I should go. 
4.  There's a mini-YMCA that opened near my house that has super cool new bikes that have screens so you can program a bike ride on paths around the world.  Sweet!  And the handles move, so you feel like you're really riding an actual bike.  I will be checking out this new mini-Y before everyone knows about it and it gets crowded.
5.  I inexplicably crave McDonald's after working out.  Have no clue why.  Just do.
6.  I don't enjoy running on a treadmill.  It's like parsley to me:  I think if I try it enough, I'll like it.  But no, I don't.  But I'll run on the treadmill through the winter months anyway.  However, no parsley, thank you.
7.  At home, the pumpkin bread I made had a huge hole in the middle, and wasn't baked all the way through. Now I know that adding a tablespoon of baking soda, instead of a teaspoon, will result in bread with no middle.  Into the trash after a taste--will try again later this week.  It tasted really good, just looked like someone put their fist in the middle of it.

So I feel good after hitting the gym, but my performance was sub-par.  Just getting down there, and putting on my work out clothes made me feel less sluggish and happier.  Will I get down to the gym before Christmas?  Who knows.  If I plan it, I will certainly not do it.  I will be one of those people in January who make a huge effort to kick start the year by setting a new habit--and that habit will not be eating my weight in food!  Spin classes will be on my list for sure.  My only hope is that I don't fall off the bike.  

Monday, December 13, 2010

Organizing and Reorganizing and then Organizing Again

I went to bed last night firm in the plans I'd made for today before I go to work tonight:  get up, go to the gym, and attempt to run on the treadmill and do a bit of biking.  Come home, eat, get cleaned up, and take a nap.  

I woke up this morning and rearranged my plans while laying in bed, with "2 o'clock!" flashing in my head.  That's the time I have to be at work.  I'm not a huge fan of relaxing, then working.  I guess I'm one of those  Americans that would much rather get up early, get the work over with, then relax.  But when I work a 2nd shift, it throws off my day.  I will wake up early, because I don't sleep in.  I just can't.  So I get up early, putter around, and then get sleepy because I realize I'll be up until 11:30 or so tonight.  I have to take a short cat nap, or my energy fades by 6pm, just when I really need to be awake to manage the store!  It's not good when the Manager working the store that night can't stay awake.  Makes my response time very slow...

I decided to skip the gym this morning, and try and get as much done around the house this morning as I can, so when I have my day off tomorrow, I can spend more time at the gym and not feel anxious to get moving and cut my workout short.  I haven't been to the gym in two weeks.  This Christmas season started much sooner than last year, and for the first time in about 4 years, I am not running every week.  I think it's made a big difference in how I feel everyday.  I have a distinct lack of sustained energy, and when I get home, it's all I can do to stay awake until 9 pm.  It can be a pain to take time to go to the gym, but it really helps burn off stress and give me endurance.  I'm so out of shape now, it will take me a while to get back into shape.  January cannot come soon enough to help me kick myself into gear.  I have plans to run races in 2011!

Today's plans are to finish up making my chocolate vodka (Christmas gift for friends), wrap all my presents, and make date bread.  If I can get all of this done before noon, I can take a short cat nap, then get ready for work.  Tomorrow is my last day off before Christmas day, and I have to make it count.  A friend said "I would just sleep all day", but not only is that not physically possible for me, but what a waste of a day!  It will be a day of gym work, cleaning up the house, and delivering presents.  And reading my book.  I haven't been reading much at all, and it's getting me depressed!  So I will get my "chores" done and block out the afternoon for a reading marathon.

How are you doing the week before Christmas?  Is everyone finally in the Christmas mood? Cookie dough I have frozen will be pulled out next week and baked,  so Bud and I will have fresh cookies for Christmas.  I must feed the man something other than Christmas candy from a bowl!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Being The Hostess Saved Me From A Hangover

God Bless Bud for preparing enough pomegranate martinis for 8 adults to have at least two each.
They're all gone.  Nothing left.  And some people had beer along with the martinis.  
I was busy playing hostess, which is a blessing in disguise.  It keeps me from just sitting and noshing all night.    I enjoy having people over, puttering in the kitchen, and making sure everyone has enough to eat and drink.  I had the Christmas Fire DVD on my TV, Christmas music on my computer playing in the background, and the whole house was ablaze with lights and candles.  
You could move around, but just barely.  Baked spaghetti, cheese ravioli, garlic bread, and salad fed them all.  My sister made a scrumptious appetizer of toasted bread, olive oil, tomatoes, and basil cheese. 
I can say the party was a hit, and I didn't eat too much, or drink too much.  I did enjoy a few drinks, but didn't catch a buzz--phew. Even after a last minute addition of Apple Pie (a potent concoction of everclear and apple cider) I was still on my feet, monitoring the steadily increasing noise.  My God, my family is very noisy.  Especially when they've all have a few drinks, and then gift exchanges happen. I think my sisters and I talk so fast and loud that our voices  can only be heard by dogs. They really do reach a pitch that makes me stop and think, Lord, we sound really annoying.  But we had so much fun!  And I was so glad my sister Debbie and niece Kelli drove from Illinois to spend a few hours at my place.  Although I missed Amber.  She'll be back in January.  And even though my camera was charged and ready to go, I forgot to take any pictures. 

So here I am, up early, ready to go to work with just a teeny tiny bit of foggy brain.  I've had a few cups of coffee, and french onion dip with pretzels for breakfast.  What can I say?  Oatmeal just didn't sound very good.    Sometimes a girl needs french onion dip.

Tonight, between coming down off the fun of last night, and the horrible weather that is predicted, I will be lounging on the couch and watching a movie.  And eating leftovers from last night.  That baked spaghetti was pretty tasty.  

If you're still not in the Christmas mood, have a few people over. Make a special drinky, have some easy appetizers,  and you'll soon find yourself in the spirit and ready for Christmas!

Friday, December 10, 2010

A Whirlwind And A Sweet Man

I have to say, this holiday retail season is gangbusters compared to last year.  We've been busy since the middle of November, and people are buying!  So either everyone has a lot of extra cash, or they just don't give a damn and are contributing to their credit card debt.  Either way, I've had many customers tell me they are trying to shop local--and even though I work for a national company, we are all local employees who live and spend money in Cedar Rapids.  So, yes, "buying local" helps us buy local in our personal purchases, too.  So thank you to those who are thinking before they hit "buy" on the internet.

So much has been moving through this week!  I've finally got my little red truck Fritz back, after many months of Bud working on the brakes, the Toyota guys working on other stuff, and the muffler place fixing my exhaust.  Today was the first day since September that I got to drive it, and I was so happy!  Bud replaced my wipers--and they are the coolest wipers I've ever had on a car/truck.  He also changed my oil, put sand bags in the bed of my truck, filled my gas tank, and put on my studded back tires.  I am ready for the snow/sleet/ice combo we're getting Saturday.  All I can say is that Bud is more than I deserve and I am a very lucky chick to have him.  I picked a good one!  I'm pretty sure he can fix anything, or figure it out.  Waaaay smarter than me.  After eight years together, I'm still in awe of all he does for me.  Every time I think I can't possibly love him more, my heart grows just a bit bigger and fits more in.  How's that for cheese factor?:)
My man of many talents--he puts in patios, too.

Last night Bud came over and helped me prepare for my holiday gathering tonight.  My sisters and older nieces (except Amber--she lives too far away!) are coming over for dinner and pomegranate  martinis.  We plan on having a good time!  Bud, bless his muscles, squeezed fresh lemon juice from 11 lemons for the drinks.  I just stood there and watched.  And then he hit me with a squirt of lemon juice, right in the face.  So I moved.  Lemon juice hurts when you wear contacts.

Today I've scrubbed floors, vacuumed (yeah new vacuum!), dusted, and cooked.  I am pooped.  Just waiting for folks to come over in a few hours.  Work at 8 am tomorrow will come way too soon; I will wake up looking forward to the day being over, and relaxing after a hectic week.  And dive into the new Kate Morton book, 
The Distant Hours.  I only got about 3 pages in last night before falling asleep, but it was enough to fire up my enthusiasm--it's gonna be good!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Chicken With Herbed Goat Cheese And Sun Dried Tomatoes

The Barefoot Contessa has, once again, created a delicious dish that's perfect for two, or for a dinner party.  I made this last night for supper, and I loved it.  Bud ate everything but the sun dried tomatoes--he called them 'tomato skins' and picked them off.  I inhaled mine.  It's very easy to make.  Here's my chicken before it goes into the oven:

Boneless Chicken Breast W/Skin stuffed with cheese, basil, and sun dried tomatoes
The recipe online neglected to add basil leaves to the chicken.  On her show, she adds the basil.  Feel free to add it, or use a different herb.  Just make sure to salt & pepper the chicken inside and out.  Here's the finished product!  

A glass of wine, some greens and rice and you've got an easy, fancy-ish dinner in under 45 minutes.  

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Vacuuming Bliss

I'm not the kind of woman who wants jewelry, or obsesses over shoes and handbags.  I like nice things, but I'd rather buy a book than clothes.  

But I got a new vacuum, and let me tell ya, I am one happy camper!  It's silly to get excited over a new vacuum, but I am.  I somehow managed to kill my old one last week.  I started her up, and either ran over something harsh, or it just decided to act like it wanted to blow up.  I "attempted" to fix it, then decided that after 16 years, it was time to part ways.  I quickly moved it to the basement, and didn't tell Bud about the broken vacuum because I didn't want him to try and fix it, and I didn't want him to get the impression that he should run out and buy me one for Christmas.  A woman must buy her own vacuum!  Plus, I really needed to use it pronto.  

I checked some websites, and once again, Hoover is still on top.  Yes, I would love a Dyson, but really-- I cannot spend that kind of money on a vacuum for a house that's less than 700 square feet!  I could spend that much on a plane ticket for a vacation!  Way more fun.  I don't care about vacuums when I'm in Vegas.

Kohl's had the vacuum I wanted.  It was on sale, and I had a coupon for another 15% off, but not until two days later.  Yes, I went to Kohl's at 7 AM that day to buy my vacuum before I went to work.  I got a good price and even better, that new vacuum smell came with it!

So I've just put my vacuum together, and 'hoovered' my house.  I even used the fabulous little upholstery brush to vacuum my couch.  Oh, the thrill of it!  The simple things that make me happy.

I guess I am one of those women who would be super duper happy to get a mixer, a blender, or a snow blower.  Hmm... Santa, are you listening?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Celebrating 100 Reads This Year On Bookalicious Babe

I am having a giveaway on my other blog, Bookalicious Babe Book Reviews to celebrate hitting my goal of reading 100 books before the end of this year.  100 books seems like a lot to me, but I realize that there are probably hundreds more I passed up in my continual quest to read every book on the planet.  Well, there is always 2011!  Maybe my goal next year will be 125 books.  I think I've crossed the line into crazy land.  But, I guess it's better than making a goal to eat 125 pounds of chocolate.  I could do that, but then I'd have to just run 24/7 to burn all that off.  Because, trust me, I could eat 125 pounds of dark chocolate.  

Anyway, if you're interested in the book giveaway, click on the Bookalicious Babe link above and read the post and enter the giveaway.   Good luck!  Winner will be announced December 15th.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Running In The Cold-Not

I'm chatting with a co-worker today in between helping  customers and he mentions that his partner had purchased running gloves for the both of them so they could run "sometime" in the cold.  I realized that I don't run in the cold, and there are a few reasons:

1.  I'm a big weenie
2.  I have no running clothes for cold weather.  I have shorts, tanks and a few long sleeve shirts from my half and full marathons.  No hats, gloves, leggings, nothing! I think I can only afford spring and summer running gear.  Gifts would be appreciated :) Plus, I think I would look like a stuffed sausage.  Is it all so tight and clingy?
3.  I'm terrified of falling.  I'm pretty sure I'd be so tense running that there would be no enjoyment for even a nano-second.  And then I would fall in front of the only other person out at the park that day.  And, I'd probably fall into dog poop.
4.  People in Iowa have the common sense to not hold races after the Turkey Trot in the beginning of November.  We're too busy shoveling and sitting on the interstate while another accident is cleaned up to plan races in the cold temps.  
5.  It's fun to run on the treadmill at the YMCA, and be amazed that I could sweat such ginormous amounts of water while staring out a window at below zero temps.  The key is to get home and in the tub before my body goes into shock from sweating, to freezing until the heater kicks in, to cold again, to ahhh a hot bath!
6.  I would prefer to read a good book, with a cup of tea or coffee on the table, and a warm blanket wrapped around me.

So there.  Those are my excuses.  I just don't wanna do it.  It may be an issue, if I ever want to run the half marathon at Disney in February.  I have to figure out the training for that before I even think of sending money to register for 2012.  And I have to start running again!  Starting over at zero.  Sigh.

First half-marathon, 2006. Ignorance really is bliss!  And, it makes for a good PR.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

It's National Cookie Day!

I'm watching the morning news, and what do you know?  It's National Cookie Day in the US.  Leave it to Americans to designate a day for cookies.  I guess I'm not alone in my love of the sweet stuff.  And, just to make you feel better, it is also National Egg Nog Month, too.  Now I can go to the grocery store and buy my egg nog and sip without guilt.

Bake some cookies today.  Sip some Nog, with or without a bit o'whiskey  ( I prefer mine straight).  I will certainly bake some cookies when I get home from work.  Me want cookies!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Keeping Christmas

I finally got all of my Christmas decorations up, and I'm pretty happy with the results.  I didn't  put out much of anything I've got in boxes in the basement, because I wanted to do things a bit simpler and more of a pine tree/ribbon/natural motif.  Anyway, there are always a few items I put out every year, and one of them my Dad made for each of his eight kids a long time ago.  My Dad made each of us a nativity set, and I love it still  even after over  twenty years.  I plan on always having this and never replacing it with another set.   I'm sure he found the pattern in a woodworking magazine, and I'm glad he went with the one he found.  It's very simple, but beautiful and reminds me of my Dad every Christmas when I set it up.  So this, lights around the living room, and lots of red bows are my Christmas extravaganza for this year: