Sunday, December 31, 2017

December 2017

Where has this month gone? Actually, where has 2017 gone?  Surely I was just sitting here typing an end of the year post for 2016. What a busy month we've had! This post is probably only interesting to my sister(s) so my feelings won't be hurt if you move on :-).  We started out the month with a visit to Laura to see the new house that she and Scott purchased. On that same day, Mark and I went to see the Shakespeare Theater version of A Christmas Carol. The production was amazing!

We had a freaky snow storm the following week - I was home alone while Mark was hunting. We had deep snow for Alabama.

We saw a totally different version of A Christmas Carol by a local group. It was set in the Appalachian mountains and was delightful, as well.  Even Mark had a good time! When you are with good friends, everything is fun, right?

We attended our Sunday School Christmas party and had a great time. We always play dirty Santa and I brought home a deer head (not real) this year. Mark hung it on the screen porch and we may leave it out there year round.

We hosted the Young Professional Christmas party and really enjoyed spending time with those wonderful young adults.  We count that group as one of our largest blessings.

We played dirty Santa with that group, too, and the alcohol (bottles of wine, etc.) were the heavily traded items!  Mark ended the game with a box of Dominoes. The folks who have known us a long time know that Mark said to me when we were dating, "I don't play games." Of course, I wasn't sure how he meant that all those years ago (and I still don't!) but I do know he doesn't play games!  BUT . . .we have played Dominoes every night this week.  Lord Have Mercy! We must be getting really old.

We also had our office Christmas party and Santa came!
 Pat was an awesome Santa and I so appreciate his willingness to take time out of his day for all of us!

The month was not all parties. My friend, Inez, died this month.  She and my momma were friends. They even taught 3 year old Sunday School together - when I was that age! She and her husband took great care of me and put up with a whole lot. They dragged me on every vacation with them. They were indeed second parents to me for many, many years.  Karen (daughter of Inez), Kaye, Faye and I were inseparable for a large portion of our lives so our lives were interwoven. These pictures were taken YEARS ago on a cruise - Inez and Hub paid for a large chunk of a 7 day cruise so that I could go, too.  That is me - front left side of the table, then Hub, then Inez.  Inez is pictured below on one of the day cruises on that trip.  I think she was younger in that picture than I am now. She was a good woman.  I imagine that God said, "well done good and faithful servant" upon her arrival.

We attended one of the Christmas Eve Eve services at our church. Sitting with this sweetheart was extra special. Herdaddy (my handsome son) is beside her.
 In the middle of church, she insisted on putting on that pink bib!!

We attended Christmas Eve morning worship - packed house - and we stopped on the way into church to pick up deli trays, chips, etc. for the preachers and maintenance folks to eat that evening. We attended Christmas Eve service at 5:00 p.m. Our church had a children's service at 3:00 and three candlelight services at 5, 7, and 11. We broke all attendance records. How wonderful that so many people heard an amazing sermon that night about Hosea and Gomer.  Yes - Christmas Eve - Yes - Hosea and Gomer. Yes - we are like Gomer - God loves us so very much that he gave all he had - his son - as a tiny baby. He sent him into this world. No cost was too much.

There are things that happen when you work on staff at a church. You tend to pay attention to details during a worship service.  I noticed that our senior minister (remember - he is my boss) kept going out the side door taking empty communion trays and returning with full trays so I knew that people were frantically replenishing cups. I sneaked out of the sanctuary and went back to the sacristy to see if they needed help. They had an assembly line going and refilling of cups was covered. So I went around the corner and another faithful servant was frantically filling baskets with candles. I stopped and helped and gave him a head start for the next service.

This was taken through the glass door looking into the sanctuary. This is one of my favorite worship moments of the entire year - the lights are low - the congregation is singing Silent Night and everyone lifts their candle high into the air at the same moment.

When I rounded another corner to try to sneak back to my family, I walked into a sea of people. There were four rows of chairs set up in the narthex and people were sitting up the stairwells. It was an amazing sight to see. I do know that some people left because there was no room in the inn.

We went to George and Alice's house for pizza after church (tradition) and then Santa came during the night (actually before we went to bed - how did he manage that??). I love that we added another stocking this year - Scott!

After our immediate family opened our gifts, Mark's mother and brothers and sister-in-law and niece arrived. We ate breakfast together and opened gifts. Having a little one this year made everything so much fun. She loved her gifts and was so excited to play with those gifts.

We had to take a picture to text to the Delaware branch of the family. We weren't able to be together this year but we sent pictures!

Our day wasn't finished -- we headed to Mark's momma's house around 4:00 on Christmas day and prepared to have 40 people for dinner. She had people at the dining room table, the breakfast room table, and two tables in the den. Her theme this year was nutcrackers. I made the invitations for her and she mailed them out several weeks ago.

In the den, she also had a table for the little ones and didn't our little one look cute in her smocked dress? I bought it at the Junior League sale a few weeks ago.  I know that my daughter-in-law doesn't like smocked dresses but I am so thankful that she will let me buy her one every once in a while.

I took some days off this past week and one afternoon, Mark and I went over to see Emma and she loved playing with her pretend food and kitchen and grocery cart and baby doll.

Mark and I also ventured out shopping one day.  This is unheard of in the Elliott household :-). We bought a new mattress - woo hoo! You really wanted to know about that mattress, right? While we were out, he wandered into Joseph A. Banks and picked up some shirts at awesome day-after-Christmas-sale prices!

On Thursday, Laura came to Birmingham and we went shopping for her wedding dress and she said "YES" to the dress!

We enjoyed spending the day with family and friends (who are like family!). Aunt Alice treated all of us to lunch (Lauren had to go back to work). Laura has been such an easy bride-to-be. Now if I can just lose 20 more pounds, I'm going to go and buy a dress for ME  to wear to the wedding!!

Here we are on the last day of 2017. We are having friends over in a little while for steaks grilled outside (Mark is going to freeze while he cooks those steaks!). I'm sitting upstairs in my craft room wishing I could keep on these comfy clothes for the evening (I may keep on my furry slippers!!). Our friends probably wouldn't care if  I still was wearing yoga pants, a very old t-shirt, a sweatshirt jacket, striped socks, and slippers with deer on them . . would they?  I think I'll freshen up to welcome in the new year (we may have to move the clock forward so that we can say we made it until midnight!)

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Winter Wonderland HodgePodge

From this Side of the Pond

Join up with Joyce over at From This Side of the Pond - copy her questions into your blog and answer . . . and link up!

1. 'Hurry less, worry less'...what's your strategy for making that happen this holiday season? How's it going so far?
Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! I so wish this could be true!  I will say that the snow last Friday definitely slowed me down. We don't get a lot of snow in Alabama and we especially don't get between four and five inches. We did last Friday. Mark was out of town and I watched a million Hallmark movies - back to back and made Christmas ornaments.

horrible picture of me - keeping it real!
I don't even have the right kind of clothes to
wear - hoodie under a wool coat!

I was out in the street with all of the neighbors
it was so beautiful!

2. Do you have a list of to-dos that need accomplishing in order to prepare your home and/or property for the winter season? What are some of the jobs on your list? Are you a do-it-yourselfer or do you hire someone to accomplish these tasks?
Isn't that what my husband is for? Just kidding - sort of! Actually, we don't have to do a lot of winterizing here. We have some faucet covers that we put over the outside faucets if we have freezing weather. Just FYI, I have lists for everything. I have lists for my lists!

3. According to dietitians surveyed, the most popular health foods for 2018 will be -turmeric, sprouted foods (bean sprouts, breads with sprouted grains, etc), veggies in place of grains, dairy free milk, and pulses (lentils, chickpeas, etc).  What's the first thought that ran through your head when you read this list? Of the foods listed which one might you add to your regular diet? Also, can milk really be dairy free? Is it still milk?
I've replaced a lot of my grains with veggies this year (I type those words as I sit at the island in the kitchen munching on a fake chip!) I don't drink milk very often so that won't affect me. I love lentils and chickpeas and already eat those quite often.

4. The Pantone Color of the Year for 2018 is Ultra Violet. According to the Pantone site 'Ultra Violet communicates originality, ingenuity, and visionary thinking pointing us to the future.' What say you? Do you like the color purple? Did you see the movie or read the book-ha!?  Is purple a color you wear often? Describe for us one purple item in your home without using the word purple.  If you were in charge of such things what color would you select for 2018?
really? Ultra violet? Purple is the favorite of one of my sister-in-laws so she should be happy. I don't think I have anything purple in my house!

5. Favorite book read this year?
I've read lots of good books this year - Boys in the Boat was excellent. I also reread The Nightingale earlier this year - good book, too!. My Kindle Fire died a few weeks ago and I ordered a new Kindle Paperwhite. I couldn't wait until Christmas. A day without reading is torture! I read while I ride the stationary bike every night. I've read a ton of James Patterson and at least 40 cozy mysteries (my secret pleasure that you now know about). In addition to pleasure reading, I also read so that I can teach adult Sunday School each week - one of my favorite books this year was:

6.  Insert your own random thought here.
We had our church staff Christmas party yesterday and it was so much fun. We had pot luck lunch and everyone ate together. We each had a stocking that our co-workers had filled with notes of encouragement and tiny gifts (candy, cookie cutters & recipes, clever treats). Santa ate lunch with us and then handed out stockings and the senior pastor was Santa's trusty sidekick.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Wednesday Hodgepodge

1. What title would you give this current chapter of your life?
Workin' Hard?
Living the Good Life?
Another one bites the dust? (just kidding)
Mother of the bride?
The Empty Nest?
Eat More Chicken and Give Up Desserts?
I have no idea what this chapter would be called.

2. December 6 is National Microwave Oven Day. Who knew? Besides popcorn and coffee reheats, what's the most common thing you microwave? Could you get along without a microwave?
Really? There is such a thing as National Microwave Oven Day? Who knew? I sure didn't. I love to heat left-over soup in the microwave. I heat my lunch in the microwave at work almost every day - either left-overs or something I've meal prepped on Sunday afternoon. I guess I could live without one but I would have to change my habits - especially my lunch habit.  I really don't like to microwave meat (like left-over pork tenderloin or hamburger patties). It does something weird to the meat. I would almost rather eat left-over meat cold.

3. If you could insert yourself into any Christmas carol and experience the lyrics in real life, which Christmas carol lyric would you choose and why?
This question is almost as hard as question number 1!
I love "Away In a Manger" but I know that the idyllic version in my head is not what that stable/manger looked like. I'm sure it was a smelly place.
We Three Kings of Orient Are . . .that would be pretty cool - riding in on a majestic camel to see Jesus.
I know -- how about . . .
While shepherds watched their flocks by night, All seated on the ground, The angel of the Lord came down, And glory shone around. "Fear not," said he, for mighty dread Had seized their troubled minds; "Glad tidings of great joy I bring To you and all mankind.  To you, in David's town, this day, Is born of David's line A Savior, who is Christ the Lord; And this shall be the sign: The heavenly Babe you there shall find To human view displayed, All meanly wrapped in swaddling-clothes And in a manger laid. "
Can you imagine sitting out in the field - stars shining overhead and an angel appearing to tell you about the long awaited Messiah?? Oh my goodness.

borrowed from the internet - thank you!

4. Describe the most beautiful drive you've ever taken.
We've driven around the island of St. Martin and it was quite lovely. We've been on some pretty drives in Hawaii. One of my favorite drives is through Magnolia Springs, AL. It is truly a lovely place.

5. What's something on your Christmas list this year? (an actual list or figuratively speaking, either one)
new IPhone
gift certificates to my favorite places
peace on earth
politicians who are honest and good
good health
happy and healthy children and grandchild

6. Insert your own random thought here.
I've had a hard week - not sure why. It is getting dark so very early. I've been really busy. I royally screwed up something at work on Monday. You know - a typical week.  Today, I sneaked off from work just a few minutes early (thank you!) to see my grandbaby. I hadn't seen her in a week and a half which is just about the longest I've gone without seeing her (I apologize to those of you who live long distances from your grandbabies). She and Mark were playing with stickers and money in his truck when I got to her house. She immediately said "lap" and "help" and "sticker" and "GRAN!" Oh my goodness, I held her close and smelled her hair and soaked in some love and the world tilted back into the right place. Pure bliss, folks. I can't help but wonder if that is how God feels when we choose to spend time with him?

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

God Bless Us Everyone!

What's up with you and yours? Have you decorated your house? Christmas Tree in place? Presents purchased and wrapped?  Nope? Join my club! I've done a few things but not nearly enough yet.

I just thought these Christmas balls were so pretty that I snapped a photo - sorry!

On Saturday, Mark and I drove to the city where our daughter lives and visited with her and her future husband for a while.  She cooked her first meal in the new house and we were there to eat it - that was very special to this momma!

After lunch, we drove to the Shakespeare Theater to see A Christmas Carol. I must say that I THOROUGHLY enjoyed the production. I loved how Shakespeare was decked out for the holidays!

Before the production, carolers were singing from the balcony.

We were told that we couldn't take pictures of the production but I snapped one of the program and one of the main backdrop.  The scenery in this play was spectacular. I cannot imagine the hours of work that went into creating the scenery.  We had seats on the third row so we could see every detail clearly. The costumes were outstanding, too.

On Sunday night, our neighborhood had the annual "lighting of the tree." I signed up to bake cookies this year . . .because I have backed out of going the last couple of years.  If you have cookies to deliver and you've already walked to the townhall, you might as well stay.  Poor hubby - I dragged him to all sorts of things this past weekend!

We were headed to see the "lighting" of the tree but the moon put on a show all its own on Sunday night.  Here she is rising between the two house across the street from us.

My pictures of the actual event are not very good. It was too dark and I didn't figure out how to touch the screen to add more light until it was too late.  I know now! The Chamber Choir from our local high school performed as did an ensemble called "Ten Bucs Worth" (school mascot is Bucs).  They were all very good.

This was the moon still putting on a show when we arrived at the town hall (two blocks from our house).  She was really beautiful.

The tree is not a real tree but a ginormous pole with strands of lights that run to the ground. After the choir performance, everyone in the crowd counted down - ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one . . .and the light appeared. It is really quite lovely and my picture doesn't do it justice.

Since we were already out and about, we walked around our neighborhood a little. Almost everyone has participated in the white lights in our front trees this year and it is magical.

We finally put the decorations on the tree.

I finished decorating the mantle and I really like it this year.

I love our nativity - some Fontanini and some wooden pieces from Bethlehem.

I found a fun red and green plaid cloth at Bed, Bath, and Beyond last weekend and picked it up (and had a coupon!). I love the fun and casual look.

I pooped out after this little bit of decorating on Sunday afternoon. We need to do some work to the outside - wreaths and garland and bows. We hung beautiful garland up over our door on Sunday afternoon and it is hanging by one hook this afternoon.  It is way too tall for me to reach without a ladder so I'm hoping that Mark can fix it when he gets home.