wwcitizen: (Uuuuuuh)

Matthew did a fantastic job again this year with the Christmas Eve Feast of the Seven Fishes.  It's an Italian, Catholic, Christmas Eve tradition. I'm not Catholic. I'm not Italian. But I LOVE this tradition!!  Matthew is holding to most of his mother's recipes and has added a couple of things (or tried out a couple of new things) for a bit of a flare to keep the interest in the affair going. There's nothing difficult about picking out fish - truly. We all love seafood.  But, to prepare them in such a way that there are different dishes with at least 7 different fishes, that's the ultimate challenge.

For example, we made an octopus salad with roasted potatoes and onions. Matthew slow-cooked the octopus overnight in red wine vinegar and white wine with spices, pulled off the suckers, and marinated the octopus meat for 2-3 days. Then I roasted the potatoes and pearl onions and mixed in the octopus, which warmed up the octopus and olive oil marinade. YUM!!

Then we made the standard (and VERY scrumptious) seafood salad with squid (calamari), shrimp, cuttlefish, scallops, and baby octopus. Matthew made a lemon/olive oil marinade for the mixture and they sat in the fridge for about 2 days. I chopped up red, yellow, and orange peppers, celery, two garlic cloves, and parsley and mixed it all together on Christmas Eve. DELICIOUS!! And so fresh.

Matthew worked extra hard on battering and sauteeing soft shell crabs. I never liked soft shell crabs that much until I met Matthew. Also, his prep is by far the tastiest I've ever had. I could not stop eating these this year - and we were able to glean about 10 for leftovers.  He also made stuffed calamari, which might fall off the list next year.  Also, he did the shrimp with lemon and basil and I learned how to chiffonade basil for the preparation!

That's 6 fishes so far (yes, arthropods (crustacea), mollusks, and cephalopods are included as fish since squid, octopus, mussels, and shrimp are all from the sea). Then, we got lobsters steamed and removed the meat from the shell for a "raw bar", which included mussels, lump crab meat, and snow crab claws. He also added a beurre blanc sauce and a minuet, of course, for dipping.  On Christmas day, Matthew's brother-in-law steamed clams (littlenecks). YUM!! 

As for actual fish, Matthew prepped smelts, which I always love. Smelts are similar to sardines. Matthew rolls them in a flour/salt & pepper covering mixture, I sprayed them with olive oil, and then we baked them.  Once they're out, they get tossed in a lemon/olive oil sauce to bring out the flavor of the fish. On Christmas Eve, Matthew grilled Chilean sea bass steaks, which he had carefully tied into round filet "mignons" of fish. Typically, there's a Baccala salad (salt cod), which is a smelly, disgusting, but ultimately tasty (albeit kinda dry) dish, but this year, the Baccala didn't happen - no one likes it that much and the prep is such a PITA, that it's just not worth making.

Matthew really wanted to make quenelles escoffier (Jacques Pépin) - a French fish preparation of one or two fishes blended into a mouse, poached, and baked with a white cream sauce. We made a haddock-based "test run" for ourselves about 6 days early, which turned out wonderful. THAT dish would have been an amazing addition to the array of fishes dishes, but the blend we made with turbot and cod for the Christmas Eve feast bombed for some reason - maybe because the fishes weren't as fresh as the haddock we had used earlier.  :-( 

Of course, he made broccoli rabe and green beans for veg, and with leftover stuffing from the stuffed calamari, he stuffed some PEI green shell mussels.  For dessert, everyone whipped out chocolates, store-bought cream puffs and sfogliatelles, but the biggest hit were Matthew's cookies, which he finished baking about 2 weeks before Christmas.  He made two kinds of biscottis, rainbow cookies, and pignoli nut cookies. Those are the basic standards and about all he could muster with all the other stuff going on throughout the holiday season.

Everyone truly enjoyed all the preparations and were fully amazed - again - at Matthew's cooking and gourmet cheffing of the Feast.  Enjoy the pictures!!

wwcitizen: (Uuuuuuh)
I'm helping Matthew with Christmas Eve preparations. He gave me a plate of mussels to taste and some of them just fell open, exposing the little feet. Don't they look delicious?!And they are tasty. A little fishy, but you can really taste the salt water there.
wwcitizen: (TV Watching)
<a href="http://www.hallmark.com/online/hoopsandyoyo/ruin-christmas/" target="_blank">This looks like it could be cute</a>. 

I mostly cannot STAND the Hallmark Channel during the holidays.  They have the absolute worst run-down of movies - and who's ever heard of all these 2-hour movies??  I guess up and coming actors have to start somewhere and Hallmark affords some of them that place.  :-|
wwcitizen: (S&M In Ptown)
Today, I got out of bed all industrious-minded and got to work on a new project stemming from a Christmas present that Matt gave me. I'm sometimes astounded at home much he listens to me and the things I mention. For instance, when we go to hotels and the showers have the rain forest shower heads, I always exclaim about them:

"That shower's fantastic! It's like a waterfall!"
"I love that shower head! It really soaks me all over and makes my whole body tingle!"
"Wow, I don't know if I could get one of these at home, but I bet I'd stay in the shower a little longer each time cuz these are fun!" And things like that.

He got me one for Christmas and I couldn't wait to install it. During the process, we decided to get an extension arm for it, so it would shower from a little higher and I wouldn't have to stoop to get under the shower head anymore! Here's the progress and I'm trying it out tonight!

ALL DONE!! This is me using the shower:
wwcitizen: (Santa Steve)
Boxing Day 2010. Day started at 3:30 AM checking on our flight to NC. Flight's still on time for departure at 6AM. Cab comes at 4:15AM to cart us to LaGuardia and we had carry-on luggage. In NY, they were asking for two people who were willing to give up their seats for a $300 voucher apiece. We almost opted for that, but realized we might not get into Raleigh if we did that. We gave up $600 of airfare in order to make it to the Lambeth Christmas gathering!

We flew to NC from LaGuardia Airport (NY) The entire flight to NC, we saw only white outside our window. Typically, as we're landing at RDU, you can see miles of trees and green and neighborhoods. That day, this is what we saw:

Once we landed in Raleigh on the "plowed" runway, we got to our gate about 5 minutes later, while another plane was getting deiced (above). This is the video I took of our smooth landing out my window:

Inside the airport before we got our coffee, we looked at the board (top left). Our later reshuffled flight with $600 of vouchers would totally have been canceled. We wouldn't have made it to NC at all!

Our Alamo car was waiting for us and we had "pick of the litter" from about 4 cars. For some stupid reason, I picked the Dodge Charger (rear-wheel drive) instead of any Toyota or Honda (front-wheel drive). None of the cars available had all-weather tires anyway, but it would have been smarter to get a front-wheel drive for the snow. We were tired and it was 8:30AM, after 4 hours of sleep.

This is the car - pretty and red, huh? It looks really good in the snow.

Unfortunately, for this trip, "looks good in the snow" meant "lodged in a ditch on the side of some arbitrary road in south Raleigh"!! That's where I landed us, thinking I was turning into a driveway that ended up being a massive, deep ditch. I couldn't see the front of the hood at first because of the snow drift.

Asshole rednecks in the neighborhood walked by us without stopping to help or asking if we needed help - even after I beeped! One angelic good ol' boy stopped to try to get us out to no avail, so we called AAA. 3 minutes later, Matt jostled us out of the hole and back onto the road. AAA was looking for us within about 5 minutes!!! We passed the tow truck on the way to the hotel while we were canceling the call and told them thanks for getting there so quickly. Hopefully, they got out to help the 30+ abandoned cars we passed on the highways from the airport.

Our hotel room was pretty and the beds were really comfortable! We took a nice 2.5-hour nap before heading to my youngest sister's house for lunch, games, dinner, and games.

We made it to my sister's house and it was a beautiful wintry wonderland!! We spent two and a half days going back and forth from our hotel to my sister's house for family festivities. In the end, we all had a great time (mixing in some dramatic moments where family members lost their holiday cool). Got some really fun gifts and had lots of good food and laughs.

Not to be taken lightly though, the weather and air traffic didn't cooperate with us. Our flight on Tuesday to return to LGA was canceled and we're getting a refund from our trip. Alamo, the car rental place who gave us the Dodge Charger (feh), wanted to charge us $450 on top of a day's rental ($120) to drive up to NJ; i.e. $570!! We switched to Budget instead and got a nice Malibu for the trip for a mere $248 total with an XM/Sirius radio to boot! The trip was quite uneventful, thankfully, and the main roads were completely clear. We ordered a cab to pick us up from the airport and drive us home from Budget at Newark airport - YAY - and got home at about 2AM. We are exhausted and really glad to be home!!

Here are some pictures of the snow and the holidays with my family:

wwcitizen: (Santa Steve)
Well, Christmas 2010 is done. We're starting to pack things away and make room for all the new stuff. Let me correct that statement: I am starting to pack things away. Matt's still asleep, as well he should be. We both had a very busy holiday season and he did a lot of work on food.

We spent Christmas eve and day at Matt's sister's house. Christmas Eve was the traditional feast of the seven fishes, which went off without a hitch. Matt blames it on my help, but I don't know that I did all that much. He said it would have been a race to the "finish line" without me and my support. Again, don't know how I helped that much, but I guess I kept him going at times. Christmas day was fun. Matt and I had our gift exchange at home.

Our Yule Log:

Then we went traipsing up to Mahwah again (about 30 minutes up north) to spend the day with his sister's family and his aunt and cousin. It was fun and the kids were soooo excited. The day ended with his aunt and nephew getting a stomach bug from something. Not sure what cuz we all ate the same things. Hmmm...

I got Matt a peacoat, two jackets, an audio book (David Sedaris), and a leather executive office chair that matches mine. He got me/us a whole bunch of geeky things for the Xbox and our diet plan for 2011. I'm really glad he got us those things cuz I really didn't need anything at all!

Matt's Leather Executive Chair (I'd already purchased it and he was already using it, but I had to wrap a gift with it, you know?)

The NJ Christmastime was fun and pretty easy. Here's our geekwares:
wwcitizen: (Santa Steve)
Here's hoping that this post backfires in a positive way! Given positive outcomes in other holiday goings-on, this issue might be resolved today! Here's hoping!

On Dec. 13, I sent out a package priority mail with the USPS (with a 2-3 day turnaround), who we always use for any of our packages - domestically or internationally. Usually, their delivery windows are the best for the price point. In contrast, FexEx, DHL, and UPS are terrible. The package was destined for Brooklyn. Another package I sent out on the same day got to NC within 3 business days. I fully expected the same with the package to Brooklyn because, after all, it's basically just over a couple of bridges.

Using Track & Confirm, the last update status after "Sorting Complete, December 17, 2010, 10:29 am, BROOKLYN, NY 11217" was, "Delivery status not updated as of December 18, 2010, 12:39 am".

I was shocked! I'd never seen any update like that on the USPS tracking site. I contacted customer service on Monday, Dec. 20, after 9AM. Even they said they'd never seen anything like this either! Let me reiterate: The USPS Customer Service said they'd never seen an update like that either!

A little later our local NJ PO contacted me about the package. I'd been trying to call the Brooklyn PO all day and got a constant busy signal. Our local PO had no further information and was also having trouble getting through to Brooklyn. Although I fully expected to hear on the news, "The Brooklyn Post Office at zip code 11217 was blown up today in a terrorist plot initiated by postal workers who were denied their pensions...", I kept trying to get through to the Brooklyn PO.

On Tuesday, Dec. 21, I got through to the Brooklyn PO after lunch! The guy I spoke with was fully 1) trying to get me off the phone, 2) did not want to help me, 3) couldn't have cared less about my problem, 4) came up with all sorts of excuses about why the package hadn't been delivered, and 5) took about a full 10 minutes to locate a pencil to take down my information. He still hasn't called me back and now my friend, for whom the package was intended has gone over - on Christmas Eve - to hopefully retrieve the package. He just called and the post office in Brooklyn couldn't locate the package.

This whole thing is soooo frustrating!! Most likely, the package was lost and no one wants to claim responsibility. Other stuff has made it to Queens and Brooklyn (other POs), but not this one little package.

Here's what's in the package along with a card:

We had missed their tree-trimming party, the first one we would have ever been to, because Matt was pretty sick with a cold. We were both so very sad to miss it. I had made these ornaments especially to give them for their tree. They are inscribed on the back of each ornament for 2010. UGH!

Well, here's hoping that at some point during the year, someone finds the package and actually delivers it to them. I've heard about packages that are lost around the holidays might not turn up for years. Years. So, here's hoping that someone finds it soon! This is really the only sad thing that's happened for us around the holidays this year, and I hope it stays that way!
wwcitizen: (At Puter)
Got this note from the bookstore in Greenville in response to my email to them about the shipping costs vs. the shipping time. I hedged my bets in contacting the guy and expected nothing more from him. But, this came along!


I am sorry you were unsatisfied with your experience with us. I have issued a refund of $3.99 for the shipping price on one book.

I ship all my orders via USPS Media Mail. All my book listings show this in checkout: my standard shipping period is from 4 to 14 days. For standard shipping Amazon.com automatically charges a flat rate of $3.99 per book.

Again, my apologies and I hope you have a happy holiday.

DE Books

YIPPEE!! It does pay to speak out! If not for your own personal vindication, but in the hopes that others do the right thing. Now this guy gets positive feedback.

The guy didn't go to school with me, though. I removed his name "to protect the innocent."

Happy holidays, indeed!
wwcitizen: (Face-Serious)
We've programmed out Tivo to collect as many holiday programs throughout the season as possible. We always start this up just around Halloween after we've (sadly) discovered that we missed It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown! Along with the Thanksgiving specials, food shows, and odd HGTV holiday decorating episodes, we also happily find things we've forgotten about or don't see too often, like The Wizard of Oz, It Happened on 5th Ave, etc.

Then there are all the religious shows, the arias, operas, musical extravaganzas, plays, and other things they show during the entire holiday season. There's a show with Joanna Bogle, a Brit who's a die-hard Catholic. She writes a weekly column for the Catholic Times, has authored a few books, and has been providing humanitarian aid to people in Africa.

Her show, Feasts & Seasons, comes on around the holidays. I watched her show briefly last year and did the same today, but I can't watch the whole thing; it's kind of a train wreck and I find Joanna Bogle tremendously condescending. She actually leans on her counter for most of her show, supposedly making you feel comfortable to listen her spew her religious hypotheses.

The show is horribly produced and her creations are left wanting. Left wanting for more talent and creativity for sure! Even though her show lasts for 30 minutes, I have to turn it off after about 10 minutes or just fast-forward to see what other atrocities she makes or find other postulations she asserts, such as there being a sort of "Summer Christmas" based on the birthday of John The Baptist. I find it all a bit strange. Not foreign, but strange.

Here's a perfect example of a wreath she made a few years ago, which she finds "wonderful" and "exciting". She goes into explaining how the circle/wreath represents eternity as well as the cycle of a year.

Apparently, this is a straw wreath that's held together by red, shiny, plastic ribbon. The ornaments she "changes from year to year" are horribly placed around the circle. The ornaments aren't placed very aesthetically, either.

She mixes in the pagan timing of the Christmas celebration with "biblical time lines", so that John The Baptist's "Summer Christmas" is opposite Jesus' Christmas in the winter. John The Baptist (JTB) said, "As he increases, so must I diminish." Bogle's explanation of the passing of the summer solstice (in terms of JTB and Jesus - and their two "Christmases) the days get shorter (JTB diminishes). Then after the passing of the winter solstice, the days get longer (Christ increases). And this cycle repeats itself annually. She finds that analogy very instructive, while the audience might tend to find it all very convenient to her interpretation.

Just now, as I was researching a little more about her before I posted, I discovered that she's got a totally different biography than I would have expected AND there's a YouTube video of her speaking out against the use of condoms in Africa as a means to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Here's the video. Please watch in amazement - the women are "Bogle" and "Baggaley" are on the show and disagree very much - Bogle, in particular, becomes "fierce"...):

wwcitizen: (Santa Steve)
Most of my Christmas gifts get ordered online anymore. Ordering online, as you know, lessens holiday stress, saves gasoline & mileage, and just makes the whole experience fun in my book.

Speaking of books, one of the presents I got is a book (not revealing which book or for whom because sometimes my family reads my public posts - knowing one of my sisters, though, she'll go filing through their books to see which one it might be. Good luck, Deborah!!). Because the book is now out of print, I looked on eBay and Amazon through their extra sellers.

Well!! This particular extra seller ((DE Books on Amazon)) is located in my hometown of Greenville, NC. I thought, "Wouldn't it be funny to find out that the seller is a high school friend of mine?"

I placed an order with DE Books on Amazon on Dec. 9 for standard shipping, which would mean that the item would arrive at a cost of $7.98. The shipping rates are typically inflated to cover the cost of shipping materials and the time it takes to package up the items. I understand this process because Matt and I do it for eBay items regularly. This time around, though, in comparing $7.98 to online USPS postage pricing, I thought, "The book should arrive by Dec. 16 at the latest!" It arrived yesterday, Dec. 18, which is a day after I'd already packaged up items to send out to NC in time for Christmas; and I didn't spend a lot of money, but everything in the package is wrapped!

I was so livid that the book arrived late and wasn't included in the shipment to NC. Granted, I will be carrying it with me, but as an online seller myself, I take umbrage with the fact that these guys charged me more than twice the media rate and the item arrived late!! If they'd spent a little more (of my money), but still making $1-2, the book would have arrived by Dec. 15!!

Amazon allows you to contact the seller, (DE Books on Amazon), which I've done:

"Hi, On this order, I requested standard shipping, which is (oddly) $7.98, and the item arrived on 12/18. Standard shipping* (3-5 business days) should have helped the package arrive by 12/16 at the latest. On the package, you selected USPS Media Mail for books. While I realize this is a good way to ship books because it's less expensive, Media Mail takes longer to arrive. If you want to make money on the shipping fee during the holidays, resulting in later arrivals of shipments, that is really bad business (and can be reflected in feedback).

However, if you had chosen USPS Priority Mail as the option, the items would have been here in 2 business days (i.e. 12/14 at the latest) instead of 7 at a cost of $5.95. I am writing to request a refund of $4, which I think is fair (and you still make money on your shipping): As a result of your choosing the later shipping, I will not be able to send the package wrapped to its destination by Christmas, which is VERY disappointing.

* Please refer to the posted Amazon Shipping Rates & Policies at the bottom of every page."

I think this is a fair request. I don't really care about $4. It's the principle of the thing. Online sellers try to make extra money on shipping, I get it. Like I said, I've done it, but within reason. If the actual price of shipping items comes to less than half of what the person has already paid, without question, we will refund a split. It might turn out to be $2-3, but it's the giving thing to do. Around the holidays, I like to think (against my better judgment) that people will have a little bigger heart; when they don't, I call them on it.

I doubt this will come to anything and the guy will hang onto that $4 for all it's worth - in this economy. I completely expect that. While writing this whole thing out, I felt it was kind of petty. But, dammit, it's not. My feedback will not be positive, but at least in this little exchange, my voice will have been heard, and ultimately THAT is what's important and what makes me American.
wwcitizen: (Elf Steve)
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I think about this from time to time because as a kid with no cable growing up (1970s), we had about 3 channels and no way to record the shows. We had set times to be in front of the TV and we rarely left our seats during commercial breaks (we didn't have a remote till about the 1980s). Holiday TV shows always usher in a homey feeling that sets the holiday spirit in motion.

The TV shows that tolled the seasons - especially the fall and the holidays - were of course, Charlie Brown specials (It's The Great Pumpkin CB and A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving), but also (and not necessarily in this order) for Thanksgiving in particular were:

Around Thanksgiving:
- Various Celebrity Specials
- The Wizard of Oz
- Gone with the Wind
- It's The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown
- A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

For Christmas, I frequently watched:
- Merry Christmas Charlie Brown
- The Grinch that Stole Christmas
- Here Comes Santa Claus
- Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer
- The Year Without a Santa Claus
- Jack Frost
- Oliver Twist

Once in a while, I'd watch:
- Miracle on 34th Street
- It's a Wonderful Life
- 'Twas the Night Before Christmas
- Frosty the Snowman
- The Little Drummer Boy
- The First Christmas: The Story of the First Christmas Snow
- Frosty's Winter Wonderland
- Nestor, the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey

Also in the 70s, I remember seeing:
- The Bob Hope Christmas Special
- The Bing Crosby White Christmas Special
- Bing Crosby's Merrie Olde Christmas with David Bowie

A couple of years ago, we did a swivel search / wish list on our Tivo for holiday specials. We recorded a few shows we'd never seen that were albeit well-done, but VERY strange. They both kind of left us with a cold feeling, not the warm, toasty feeling of normal holiday shows.
- The Leprechauns' Christmas Gold
- The Life & Adventures of Santa Claus
- Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July

With that same swivel search, we happened to record "A Very Barry Christmas", which is really cute. It's a story about an Australian, Barry, down on his luck in the outback. And he has friends, Nigel, a cantankerous crocodile with a fear of rejection, Lilly, a former boxing kangaroo, Walter the platypus, and a narcoleptic koala named Simon, all who really do love Barry. Barry ends up trading places with Santa for the season until Santa gets back to health in the outback. It's really fun.

wwcitizen: (Silly Steve)
The way to buy yourself a little holiday happiness is at Bed, Bath, and Beyond. I went there tonight on purpose to buy a couple of bath rugs. Our cleaning lady has been consistently and slowly bleaching little spots onto my black ones in my bathroom over the last 6 months because she's tired of them and because she wanted a different cleaning product than Clorox Cleanup. It's a slightly passive aggressive way of getting rid of the rugs without actually throwing them away, which she wouldn't do. The rugs aren't that bad, but now there's little red spots on the stark black. Those little red spots irritate the crap out of me. But, I can't really say anything because she's actually cleaning...

So, tonight I had a few errands and got this rug for in front of my sink:

Since we're hosting Matt's Fordham Thanksgiving Dinner again this year (YAY!), I wanted something extra. So, I got these little hand towels and this little guy for in front of the toilet. Aren't they adorably holiday - and not necessarily just Christmas? I love that.

My little gingerbread man makes me happy and smile each time I go to the bathroom. I can't wait till Saturday!
wwcitizen: (Elf Steve)
Earlier this year, [livejournal.com profile] durabear wrote a meme for people to respond to (there's one space left, btw) that he would make something for them by the end of the year.

Yesterday, when I got home from a busy, almost unproductive jaunt into the holiday & rush-hour traffic, when I was feeling quite put out by the hub-bub and irritated by more than one person from "The Beyond" at BB&B, we received a package from Darin!

I was so excited that I opened it right away - before the other two packages, even. The package contained COOKIES!! There were some traditional cookies in there that reminded me of home, like the peanut butter cookies (with the tic-tac-toe board on the face - made with a fork), chocolate chip cookies, and sugar cookies with red and green sugar on them. But what to our wandering eyes did appear, but a Sandra Lee snowman cookie and a gingerbread bear! So cute and tasty.

Thanks, Darin!!! These were a great surprise and certainly made my day yesterday. They'll be gone by this afternoon.

Here is a collage of cookie pictures... oh, and btw, I'm gonna post a FFYF later.

wwcitizen: (NJ - Greetings)
I've felt so disconnected recently because we've been so busy. Each week, I posted stuff on eBay, closed sales throughout the week and applied for jobs. Almost every Thursday (except for the two Thanksgiving weeks), we hosted Game Night, which is always fun. Here's a run-down of other things:

Week 0: Made cranberry sauce and canned it. Made gourmet white wine vinegars as party favors for our upcoming Thanksgiving Dinners.

Week 1: Saw God of Carnage. Met all the actors (including James Gandolfini - SQUEEE! But our picture is crap.) after the show, which was good, but the play's dialog was a bit arduous and outdated. Had dinner at Nanking on 6th Ave - good enough. Oh, and we saw Daniel Craig and Hugh Jackman coming out of the neighboring theater, too!! BONUS! Then prepped for the annual Fordham Thanksgiving Dinner (Matt's fellow alumni from Fordham - this was year 19, I think).

Week 2: Redid the lighting in our hallways and closets ourselves. Fixed a lot of little bothersome things around the house in preparation for the Fordham and real Thanksgiving Dinners. Changed most all of the pictures in the house. Posted stuff on eBay and closed sales throughout the week and applied for jobs. Had dinner at Casa Lever off Park Ave., which was very tasty, but WAY, WAY, WAY overpriced. Moved furniture around for the Fordham Thanksgiving. We took a friend's mother out to dinner at McCormick & Schmick's since he was in Australia for a couple of weeks.

Week 3: Went grocery and home-accent shopping for the Thanksgiving Dinners. Redid my (the main) bathroom with lots of decor and changed things around - including the light feature above my and Matt's bathroom sinks - huge deal. We'd been talking about doing this for about 3 years, and finally did it!

Hosted the Fordham Thanksgiving at the house and it went off great!! Only hitch - Matt had to keep cooking the turkey till much later than he had planned. But it was all good. 16 people with two turkeys, appetizers, and dessert. The wine and Steve-made cocktails flowed and everyone was happy. I made doggie/gift bags for everyone, which still barely made a dent in the food Matt cooked. Awesome!

Week 4: Recuperated from the Fordham Thanksgiving dinner and moved furniture back to original spots. Prepped for the family Thanksgiving dinner. Redecorated fully for the family's meal. And by "family" I mean Matt's aunt and cousin; his sister's family went somewhere else and MISSED OUT! Real Thanksgiving went off wonderfully and his aunt and cousin loved everything. They loved all the food (of course - Matt's a fantastic cook!) and took time to notice all the decorative elements I put around, which made me feel so good. It was great.

Then we took off to Asbury Park, NJ, for the annual Santa Saturday fund raiser - always the Saturday after Thanksgiving. That was essentially 2.5 days. Had dinner at a great place in Asbury Park called Bellmonte's. The stuffed pepper app brought a tear to my eye it was so tasty. Santa Saturday was so much fun, and later than night there was an event at the Stone Pony (yes, the Bruce Springsteen Stone Pony). We coordinated a birthday dinner for a friend and the next morning a birthday brunch for the same friend at the Salt Water Cafe - great place for brunch.

Week 5: Recuperated from Thanksgiving and Santa Saturday. Cleaned the house - again. Went to see Ragtime after having dinner at Kellari Taverna on 44th. Took lots of pics around 6th Ave with all the festive lights and later around Time's Square. Ended up in the Village for drinks. Then on Saturday (WITH THE 1ST SNOW!!!), we attended the annual Bloomfield Holiday Pajama Party! That was so much fun. Started around 7:00 and ended around 3:00 AM the next morning.

After recuperating last Sunday, we went to see a cabaret - the Last Piece of Cake. Two friends of our, Tom and Vinnie, have been doing their "Cake" act in Manhattan for about 9 years, and they retired Monday. The Duplex was PACKED solid. At the end of the show, Tom proposed to his partner on stage. It was so sweet, and Brian (of course) said, "Yes!" On the way out of the show down the stairs, I ran into the lead singer from Ragtime and got a picture with him. Awesome guy, great smile, and HUGE biceps (yep, I squeezed them...).

And that brings us up to this week as I'm redecorating for Christmas. Started in the dining room already, and here's the Christmas chandelier I put together over the dining room table. Matt's started on the Christmas cookies and he's done one biscotti and the pecan tarts so far. YUM!!

This is the chandelier.
wwcitizen: (Elf Steve)
I'm still in Burlington, heading to Raleigh for Christmas at my homophobic brother's house. Matthew's probably still in bed in NJ, so I'll let him sleep.

Next year, this whole scenario will be different. I don't want to spend next Christmas without my husband, and I've laid the seeds for the ensuing conversations and discussions and twists and turns my family's "famous" for. Matthew could never leave his family for Christmas down here, as he caters his family's Christmas Eve dinner, which we in NC don't really celebrate. I miss Matthew so much and I hate being away from him this much (6-7 days - though we tell each other it's 5, just so it doesn't seem as long, but it is).

After all, Christmas is really a season and not a day. Jesus was born in July, not December, so what does it matter which day we actually celebrate? Except for days off from work and such, but next year will be easy to deal with.

So, we're off to exchange gifts and then to my youngest sister's house for the next two days. Then I'll drive back home to NJ so that Matthew and I can have our Christmas - delayed. Then the diet starts again!!! Yippee!!
wwcitizen: (Elf Steve)
Psyched about the 5th Ave windows, but maybe I'll wait till Matt & I can do that together on Friday.
wwcitizen: (Default)

Posted: Today at 8:28 p.m.
Updated: 15 minutes ago

Wilmington, N.C. ­ "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" caused a stir at a New Hanover County school. A parent complained about the song's religious reference and got it pulled from her child's kindergarten Christmas show at Murrayville Elementary School.

The song was pulled “because it had the word Christmas in it,” said Rick Holliday, assistant school superintendent.

A Jewish mother, who didn't want her name published, objected to what she called "religious overtones" in the song. So the principal agreed to pull it from the program.

School administrators said they were then flooded with complaints from other angry parents.

“I would say it's not a very religious song. It's about Santa Claus,” parent Anne Vanslyke said.

School board members, administrators and attorneys listened closely to the song's lyrics and decided the song was secular.

“Rudolph is a secular song. It was about a flying reindeer, not a religious symbol,” Holliday said.

Many parents shouted out with glee when they heard the song was back in the program.

“I think it's great that they let the kids sing because all the kids love that song,” Vanslyke said.

Any student who objects to singing a Christmas song or attending a program can decline participation and will not be penalized, according to school administrators.

“We do try to be cognizant of everyone's feelings,” Holliday said.

School administrations also decided that for future concerts, religious songs can be included, as long as other faiths are represented as well.
wwcitizen: (Oktoberfest Steve)
I was looking EVERYWHERE for the advent calendar we bought in Germany - Rothenburg. I'm very excited that we found it. We started opening it today together, and then put it in our living room to open each day (before I leave to visit the family later this month). Our advent calendar has little teddy bears all over it and the windows are opening up to littler teddy bears doing different little things. Very cute.
wwcitizen: (Default)
Read up on this movement! Very cool. It was apparently "born" in my birth year - 1968. Read about this through an LJ friend also on Facebook, and like what I see and read.


(I really like their CafePress notation about no price increase for their own profit.
Haven't donated or bought a shirt, but I like the sentiment.)
wwcitizen: (Elf Steve)
Here's an idea that a friend of mine sent around today. Thought it was a good idea, since we're starting on our Christmas cards next week and I wanted to pass it along. When doing your Christmas cards this year, take one card and send it to the address below. I don't agree with the war and wish the troops had been able to exit much sooner than on Obama's timeline. Still, the soldiers who have fought and got injured so that I've been able to stay here and continue on in my life shouldn't be forgotten.

Just think of how many cards these wonderful, special people who have sacrificed so much would get.

Changing from:
A Recovering American Soldier
c/o Walter Reed Army Medical Center
6900 Georgia Avenue,NW
Washington , D.C. 20307-5001

Holiday Mail for Heroes
(American Red Cross Site)
PO Box 5456
Capital Heights MD 20791-5456


wwcitizen: (Default)
Stephen Lambeth

May 2017

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