Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Out With The Old

This time of year can be especially difficult with all the extras.  There are extra goodies and candy, extra parties with adult beverages, and extra rich food in general.  Somewhere along the line, and I'm not even sure when, I made up my mind I would not let those things control me this year.  I think it had something to do with realizing that I feel so much better physically when I don't overdo it on any one of those things.

So, even though all of the above mentioned, plus more, has been around, I've been doing fine.  I have been able to allow myself two chocolate covered cherries  or one piece of peppermint bark, and then let them go.  Maybe it's knowing that I can and will have them anytime I choose again?  I'm not sure but it has been working out very well for me up to the point where I've had a couple days with no extras at all.

Christmas Day went very well, even with the extra people.  I even figured out how to get everyone seated in my tiny "dining room." It's sort of funny to me that I was so super stressed in the days leading up to this.  The seating was really worrying me a lot and out of nowhere on my drive home from work Christmas Eve, I figured out what to do.  If I have this same group next year, I'm sure I won't feel stressed in the least.

Getting everyone a seat meant I was able to use my beloved Christmas china (rather than paper plates), except for 1 plate.  I planned to use the non-matching, but still pretty plate myself but sweet, independent Gracie claimed that plate as soon as she saw it.  She was actually proud that she had the only peacock plate lol!

We had our usual meal of a tenderloin roast with gorgonzola sauce, brown sugar cured spiral ham, our special holiday potatoes, spoon bread, rolls, green beans almondine, Caesar salad, and blueberry salad.  To say we dined sufficiently would be an understatement.   I also made my usual champagne cocktail that several of us enjoyed.

This year, for the first time in forever, I did not receive one piece of jewelry or new bottle of perfume. That was a bit my doing though.  About 2 months ago, my food processor didn't want to work unless you pushed down on the bowl while it was on.  Something broke in the mechanism that was created as a safety feature so it didn't think the bowl was seated properly.  I found the receipt for it while cleaning files and turns out, it was 20 years old!  I'd say I got my money's worth.  So, I had put that on my list, along with a new product called the Ninja Coffee Concierge.  It's a machine that will either brew a pot of coffee or a travel cup or a smaller cup. This appealed to me because sometimes I just want one cup of coffee after dinner or on a cold Saturday afternoon. I know a lot of people have gone to Keurig but we drink too much coffee to make that cost effective.  I had also asked for new running shoes, and a new led nail light as I've been doing my own gel nails for a few years now. Well, between Mr. Helen and Little Helen, I got them all!   Plus I received a bunch of other smaller items and the aforementioned seasonal candies I love.  While it might have been the year of practical, I was every bit as happy as if I'd been given a diamond.

This week has been a week of getting back to somewhat normal - at least the mall is closing at regular hours again, though it's full of teenagers at night since there is no school this week.  It's very quiet at my regular job as well, which always makes me wish I'd taken time off.  On the other hand, why take time off when the weather is so-so? I'd rather save it for summer.

We have no plans for New Year's Eve so that usually means we fall asleep on the sofa trying to make it to the ball drop at midnight.  I still need to take down the Christmas tree and de-holiday the house, so maybe I'll do that in an effort to stay up later!  

This new year looming feels very different than our last year filled with big events. Though Christmas seemed to be themed "out with the old," there are no specific plans or goals towards that in 2016. In fact, the older I get, the less I seem to like resolutions or very specific goals.  I think I've learned you never know what life will throw your way. So, for the Helen household, we'll just plan on a continuation of seeking our best happy, healthy life.  I wish that for all my friends too.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Light Running

I love Christmas and I have truly sucked at it this year.  I didn't send out cards or make any goodies or anything I normally would do.  I feel like I've just been trying to survive from day to day.  So, please accept my apologies if you usually get a card from me and know it doesn't mean anything other than over-busyness on my part.

Last night was my last shift at the mall until next week.  The shifts this week have been madness made worse by the fact that the mall's credit card pin pads completely died last Saturday so we've only been able to take cash sales for the gift cards.  By the time I left my 9 hour shift on Sunday I considered it a victory that I'd only been sworn at twice and yelled at twice.  Most people realized it wasn't my personal fault, and I am happy to say that I let the swearing and yelling roll right off me because I knew it wasn't my fault either lol!

Very glad the holiday madness is behind me!  Now I'm just on to my personal holiday madness of trying to figure out how to set everything up for Christmas day.  One area of relief is the parking. Our neighbor is gone for a week and told me we should use her driveway for the extra guests and cars. That's a relief in and of itself.

Little Helen and husband are arriving tonight but we'll be sleeping by the time they get here.  Poor thing is going to be shocked when she walks in and there is nary a Christmas cookie in sight! As usual the entire time they are here is filled with family get togethers and activity.  One good thing about all the get togethers is that I don't have to do any cooking other than Christmas day itself.

While it's looking quite a lot like Christmas, it certainly isn't feeling like it around here.  No complaints from me as far as the temperatures go, but I sure do wish it would stop being rainy and grey and foggy every time the temperatures get around 50.  In other words, sun please!

The moderate temps have made for a nice fall/early winter running season (except for the rainy mornings).  When my running is going like this I day dream about maybe committing to training for another race.  Then I really start thinking about what that would take and I realize that nope, I really don't want to.  Maybe if there was a regular running group around here and I could find a great running partner like my former buddy Pete.

Speaking of Pete, he just turned 90 and he's still running races!!!  I ran into him at our local Greek Food Festival and he looks terrific.  It's those good Greek genes combined with having taken care of himself.  I did get him to agree to let me come and do a long walk with him some time after the holidays.  I hope the weather cooperates so we can do that.

The other morning while out running, I took some photos of light displays that are left on all night. Sometimes I purposely route myself along these streets - it's nice to see the displays and it's pretty peaceful at 5 am.

I'll share these with you and sign off for now - Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Bad Blogger

I have just been so overwhelmed lately that the thought of writing a blog at the end of what have been very long days didn't even cross my mind really.  There's nothing special to report and I'm not sure what I have to say except. "busy" is my middle name.

December is a super busy month at my full time job.  Lots of holiday cards sent out from the various companies, plus we have to get the invitations out for our annual Winter Gala.  Then there's shopping and wrapping corporate gifts and of course, all my regular work as well.

Plus, I have my part time job at the mall. Four more shifts and the holiday frenzy will be over at the mall for me. That's how I get through December lol.   I chose to work 2 Sundays because this time of year we split the shifts.  I asked for the opening shift so that I could be home by 5 p.m. or so.  By working the Sundays, I only do one weeknight shift and I'm glad for that as the hours have now extended to 10:30 p.m. which means I'm not home until 11.  My hardest shift will be the one on December 22 because I will be alone and it will be super busy.  That last week people begin to frantically buy gift cards for anyone they couldn't find a real gift for. Four more shifts.

This past weekend we went and got our tree.  We still go to a tree farm and cut one down.  Every year Mr. Helen says no more fresh trees, let's get an artificial one.  Then I find one and tell him how much it costs and he says, ok one more fresh tree.  Anyway, it has been a crazy mild fall here and Saturday was no exception.  We were cutting a tree and it was 55 degrees.  I told Mr. Helen had we stayed out there any longer, I might have gotten a sunburn on my face.

He put the lights on Saturday night and as usual, we watched A Charlie Brown Christmas while he did that. Sunday morning, I got up, had coffee, and got to decorating.  Had to, as this was my last "free" weekend until after Christmas.  Mr. Helen works on Sundays so I'm alone and I have to say I really enjoyed my day.  I had pressed myself during the week so that Sunday was completely free with no obligatory chores except to decorate the tree.  As usual, I put Elf in the dvd and watched/listened to that while I decorated. And as usual, just about the time Elf was done, I had finished the tree.  I need to use my real camera to take a photo of it, but here's an iPhone shot

And here's my favorite ornament ever for both Mr. Helen and me.  Little Helen made it when she was in second grade and brought it home.  That's when Mr. Helen and I met so this is really how he remembers her as a little girl.  When we got a bit serious he told me he wanted to buy her a new coat.  I was a single parent working 3 jobs and I'm sure the coat she had probably wasn't the greatest and he was trying so hard not to hurt my feelings because he knew I was doing the best I could.  So, he took us shopping and let her pick out any coat she wanted.  She chose a purple coat (because that was her favorite color) with a fur-lined hood.  It was so much nicer than the one she had, and that's the coat she's wearing in this photo.  Not to mention her missing teeth.  Wonderful memories that we relive every Christmas!

As you can see from the photo above, as soon as I had that tree decorated, I wrapped gifts.  I actually managed to wrap everything I'd purchased so far. As usual, I watched Santa Claus is Coming to Town and Miracle on 34th Street while I did that.  Let me tell you what, I have to be organized between now and Christmas or I will drown!

As it turns out, everyone except 1 brother and his wife are coming to my house Christmas Day for dinner.  This will be the biggest crowd we've ever had and my house is small, unless we're doing a casual thing.  So, we're trying to figure out if we can actually seat everyone or if we're just going to go more casual.  Doesn't matter, I'm sure it will work out just the way it should.

I'm struggling with exercise right now.  It happens every December.  I should clarify that by struggling I mean I'm managing about 3 workouts a week vs. the 6 I normally do.  I just need my time in the evenings for shopping or wrapping or other obligations (i.e. working at the mall), which means I do not get to bed in the right time frame I need to in order to get up at 4 am.  Oh well, experience tells me this too shall pass.

One good thing about the busy-ness is that I'm eating normally.  I haven't been a bit tempted by extra goodies.When I realized this the other day I made up my mind that I would not casually partake of any holiday extras unless it was homemade and fabulous.  I haven't run across that yet so I'm good (so far!).  Honestly, I think I almost struggle more with wanting a glass of wine every single day than I do with the food extras.  But I'm not partaking of that either because the few days I can get up and workout, I want to feel ok and not dragged down by the alcohol.

So, that's all the news that's fit to print -  nothing special and life just going on at Doing A 180.  Which is perfectly fine.