Saturday, December 31, 2011

December Book List

Books Read in December

178 - 01 Plain Truth, by Jodi Picoult (12/4) 
179 - 02 Tenth Anniversary, by James Patterson (12/6)
180 - 03 Jigs & Reels, by Joanne Harris (12/8)
181 - 04 A Thread of Truth, by Marie Bostwick (12/9) AUDIOBOOK
182 - 05 The Help, by Kathryn Stockett (12/10)
183 - 06 The Cat Whisperer,  by Claire Bessant (12/12)
184 - 07 The Body in the Gazebo, by Katherine Hall Page (12/16)
185 - 08 Spin a Wicked Web, by Cricket McRae (12/18)
186 - 09 Cat Sitter Among the Pigeons, by Blaize Clement (12/19)
187 - 10 An O'Brien Family Christmas, by Sherryl Woods (12/20)
188 - 11 June Bug, by Chris Fabry (12/24)
189 - 12 Black Sheep, by Georgette Heyer (12/26)
190 - 13 Beauty and the Werewolf, by Mercedes Lackey (12/29)
191 - 14 Cousin Kate, by Georgette Heyer (12/31)

SInce it's the 31st of December, my official book count for the year is 191 books read. Not a bad number, even if a majority of those were "junk" fiction. But not everything I read is junk.

My friend Winnie recommended The Help, and she was absolutely right that it is a Must-Read book. I loved it. I think it's one of my favorite books for the year. My daughter read it, and she loved it. Becka brought home the movie, even though we were both convinced it wasn't going to be nearly as good as the book. And we were right; the book is definitely better. But the movie is very, very good. 

I also enjoyed June Bug, by Chris Fabry, a lot more than I expected to. I picked it up purely on impulse at the library. The Lantana branch, which is the library I've been haunting since my move, has the New and Popular shelves alongside the checkout line. Which means that as I'm standing in line, I have the opportunity to grab a couple more books. The book started out slowly, and seemed to have a very predictable plot. And while the plot may have been (somewhat) predictable, the characters and relationships surprised me. I need to look to see what else Chris Fabry has written.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Organization is the key to a happy office


I've been at the church for three months (or close to it), and I finally feel like I have a handle on the job. It's a wonderful place to work. I still love the people I work and interact with. I have enough variety and creativity to keep the job fun. And there's never anyone throwing tantrums or making derogatory and/or political statements.

I've probably said all that before. But really, except for the fact that I miss my students and I don't make nearly as much money, this is a much better job for me.

Now that we've made it through Christmas, and before the financial report obligations of the new year start, I had a little bit of extra time. I decided to use it to rearrange my office. It's a big office, but everything seems to end up being stored in it. And really, there's no need for me to work in a storage closet anymore.

So I took a day, and with Rose's help (one of my wonderful volunteers), we cleaned out all of junk. Some of it was stored in the actual storage rooms. And some of it (four huge trash bags) was thrown out. Then we rearranged the furniture. I still want to get a small table with better chairs for meetings. Otherwise, I'm really happy with the new arrangement. The room seems so much brighter now!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Flowers in the Neighborhood

I have a funny story.

Yesterday, during dinner, the kids kept trying to get rid of mom and me (or so I thought). I don't have a dining room table, so we were sitting in the living room eating. The kids kept suggesting that mom and I go out on the patio to eat, since there is a table with two chairs out there. I didn't want our family dinner to be broken up into two groups, so I refused. After dinner, the kids suggested that mom and I sit outside and chat while we knitted, with them staying inside to play one of the games PJ had gotten. Again, I didn't want to break up our family time so I refused. There were a few more attempts to get me to sit outside without the kids, and I was starting to get annoyed. We have so little family time, why would I want to waste any of it?

When PJ was getting ready to leave, he mentioned the patio lights. I had asked him to come over the week before to help me hang lights on the patio, but time ran out before he could get down to me. I never did get the lights up, and there he was, offering to help take them down. Sigh.

Then, to make matters worse, he brings up the flowers. I've been wanting hanging plants for the patio ever since I moved in. I've been hinting, and trying to find the money to buy them myself, but I just haven't gotten any flower yet. My ever-so-subtle son asks me how I like the flowers. "I don't have flowers yet," I grumble (or I would have grumbled, if it hadn't been Christmas - okay, I grumbled even though it was Christmas).
"Then those must be the neighbors' flowers I see," he tells me. How annoying can a boy be, not to tell whether something is on my patio or across the parking lot. But I went over to kiss him goodbye anyway, because after all it was Christmas.

And that's when I saw the flowers hanging on my patio. It seems my daughter conspired with my mother, and they managed to sneak two hanging plants onto my patio.

Sometimes, the kids are really, really wonderful. (Mom is really wonderful all the time.)

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

It was a very nice, although a little strange, Christmas. I'm used to being woken up early by the kids and unwrapping our gifts in our pajamas. It was hard learning to have Christmas with one of the children missing. (I hate that my oldest lives so far away). But this year, ALL the kids are grown.And Christmas changed completely.

Mom had to go to church (she counts the collection, so she had to be there), so we decided to have an early Christmas dinner at my place. PJ decided that he would wait to come over in the afternoon, with his grandmother. That left just Becka and me (my oldest still being in NYC). So Christmas didn't start in the morning, in our pajamas. Instead, we had time to sleep in a bit and to get dressed, keeping the holiday festivities waiting until the others arrived. It was still Christmas, with family and stockings and gifts and lots of food. Just calmed down a bit.

I'm not sure I approve of the children growing up.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The first step is always the hardest.

My apartment complex has an exercise trail. Actually, it's more of a sidewalk that runs along the outer edges of the complex. There are two picnic areas along the way. (I'm not sure how that fits in with the exercise theme, but it's nice to know the grills and picnic tables are available.) There is also three spots with traditional exercise trail equipment: a chin up bar, a slanted sit-up bench, and these:

I imagine if I spent more time in a gym, I'd know what they're called. You stand on them and swing your legs, mimicking skiing. While I found it a lot of fun to do, I really don't understand why they're on a walking trail. I mean, you're already getting in the aerobics by walking. What other benefits can swinging your legs in this machine give you?

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

I'm carrying around an elephant

This is knitting up relatively quickly. If I actually concentrated, I'd probably be done by now. I probably should be honest and admit that I've slowed down because as soon as I finish the other half of the under-gusset, the ears and tail, I'll have to sew it all up.

* ~ * ~ *
Blanket Update:
216 squares in 319 days

(Status: I've now knit more blocks this year than I did last year.)

Monday, December 05, 2011

Sheffield Tawny Port

I like port. So when I needed a sweet red wine for my Thanksgiving cranberry relish, naturally I looked for a bottle of port. I found one from Sheffield Cellars that wasn’t too expensive, so I decided to try it.
This is a Tawny Port, which means it’s been aged in a wooden barrel (in this particular brand, an oak barrel). As it ages, the wood gradually turns the red wine a more brownish, or tawny, color. (This is, of course, a very simplified explanation, based on my simplified understanding. You should probably go google it if you want a better, more detailed explanation.)

The aroma was heavily oak and prune. Sometimes I have trouble distinguishing the subtleties in an aroma, but there was nothing subtle about these. I also found a faint mustiness that made me think of the Regency Romances I indulge in, where the men always seem to retire at the end of a meal to enjoy their port while the women go off to gossip together. This is definitely a man’s port (compared to the sweet port that remains my favorite).

The taste was sweet without being cloying, with black licorice and something that made me think of my PopPop’s pipe. It tasted like Thanksgiving, which is very weird considering (1) we don’t drink port on Thanksgiving because (2) we don’t really drink any wine on Thanksgiving.

I definitely liked this port, and I’ll probably treat myself to it again. I'm giving it three stars.
  • 1 star = It was okay but nothing special
  • 2 stars = It was good and I liked it
  • 3 stars = It was good and I'd buy it again
  • 4 stars = I really, really like it, enough to call it a favorite
  • 5 stars = It's mine, all mine! And I don't want to share.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

It's not Christmas without Cookies!

I ended up not spending the day the way I expected to spend the day. (And for the record, the way I expected to spend the day was not how I had originally planned to spend the day.) But despite the way things twisted and turned, it turned out to be a pretty good day.

Part of that was because I gave into the impulse to bake. I made chocolate chip cookies. I ended up with 7 dozen cookies, so if anyone wants to bring the milk I’ve got cookies to share!

Friday, December 02, 2011

A Sugar Sand Moonstone

It was a beautiful day today. We’ve passed most of that hot, humid weather and it’s now cool enough to spend time outside comfortably. So after work, I decided to go letterboxing.

According to both Atlas Quest and LBNA (the two main letterboxing websites), there was a letterbox planted at Sugar Sand Park – which just happens to be near my job. It’s also one of my favorite parks in Palm Beach County. So that’s where I went.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find the box, even though I followed the clues carefully. One of the landmarks listed has changed, and I suspect the box disappeared around the same time the trail was altered. (I mean, that just makes sense.) I did check possible locations based on where the missing landmark probably was, but despite poking around every Palmetto bush in the vicinity, I was not able to record a find.

I don’t really mind that I didn’t find the Moonstone. I still had a beautiful afternoon walking along a really nice nature trail.