Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year's Eve

It is definitely not snowing here in South Texas! We've had some rain this week, but I think it got up to the mid 70s yesterday. Not really wintry weather. We may be in for some real winter next week, I understand. It's very rare here to get anything too cold. I have one winter coat which I sometimes go a year without wearing. I miss snow. I went to college in Lubbock, where we could count on several snow events each winter - often five or more inches at a time. We lived in Birmingham, Alabama, for three years and I was surprised at how much snow we saw there. The first year we lived there it even snowed on Halloween! Even in the Dallas area where we have lived most of our marriage we typically had a much colder winter than here, just 300 miles south. It was mostly ice and sleet, though, not so much snow.

It's New Year's Eve. I'm thinking about resolutions for 2011. I generally make a few New Year's resolutions. Some I keep, some (most?) I don't. I have heard that when making resolutions you should not make general statements like "lose weight" or "get organized." You should be specific and have an action plan - like "join Weight Watchers" or "lose five lbs. per month by cutting carbs." Or, "spend one hour every Friday morning cleaning desk."

This year I'm thinking about changing up my resolution routine a bit. I'm thinking instead of year-long resolutions, I'm going to set monthly goals. That way, I won't overload myself with a lot of impossible-to-achieve plans, most of which I'll forget in a few weeks. I'm going to take a short-range approach to self-improvement and I'm hopeful I'll see some long-term results.

So...for January, 2011, I want to work on these goals:

1. Finish the restoration of our friend's antique Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt. I'm embarrassed to think about how long I've procrastinated on this project, but, can I say, it's boring! I need to finish it and I plan to this month. I can spend an hour every morning before work (the benefit of being an early riser) and several hours on each weekend. I should be able to knock it out if I do that and then I can work on my own projects guilt-free.

2. Lose 10 lbs. by limiting carbs and not eating between meals. Of course, I have many more than 10 lbs. to lose! But I'm thinking seeing 10 lbs. fall off will be a great motivator for the rest of the year. This is going to be tough. I work in an office where breakfast tacos, doughnuts, candy and cakes are plentiful, not to mention the numerous luncheons and receptions that are my job to plan and organize which involve lots of food!

3. Be faithful to a daily devotional time. Since I'm not teaching or taking a formal Bible study right now, it's so easy to let myself fall away from the Word. I have so many good resources right at my fingertips (I have a pastor husband, for goodness sake!), I have no excuse not to. Even if it's just the Upper Room devotional for the day, at least I can center my day around what my day is supposed to be centered around!

Okay - three specific goals are a good start. After all, I have a full-time (and then some) job, husband, house, child (mostly grown, but still), dog, cats, laundry, cooking, cleaning (not too much of that thanks to Juliette and Sylvester every other Monday - something I'm soooo thankful for), church, choir, prayer life, etc. If I can achieve these three, I'll be quite satisfied and ready to add a few more in February!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

More cookies to share

Tomorrow is the last day - the Twelve Days of Cookies are history for another year. I've been thinking about making this an annual event. People have certainly enjoyed them at the college. People I haven't seen all year just "happen" to drop by. I've seen a lot of smiles. One of our deans told me he's just heard of a new tradition - the Twelve Days of Martin Luther King's Birthday, followed by the Twelve Days of Valentine's Day. It's been really fun. These are raspberry cake bars and the ones above are turtle graham bars. I haven't taken pictures of all of them.

I haven't done any sewing in forever. I developed optic neuritis last year. It went away after a few months, but recently I developed it in the other eye, which is my much stronger eye. Oy. I've gotten to the age where something is either falling apart on me, my house, or my spouse!

Anyway, I hope to get back to the machine soon. Although it's in my stronger eye, it's a much milder case than last year. That's a blessing.

Glad to be nearly out for the holiday. We've had a rough semester and will enjoy the time off.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Twelve Days of Cookies

It's December! Blessed Advent to all. I love the season. I think I like preparing for Christmas just as much (maybe more) than Christmas itself.

I always try to make some sort of gift for each member of our church staff. One year, when Dave served a medium-sized church with a staff of about 12, I made each person a cute cross-stitched small tote bag, like a gift bag size. For that same staff, the next year I assigned a different month in the next year to each staff member and on the first staff meeting of that month made a batch of muffins in their honor to share at the meeting.

Dave now serves a really enormous church with an equally enormous staff. In fact, I couldn't tell you the names of half his coworkers and that really bothers me. Any way, a couple of years ago I did those cute crisscross coasters Jenny B. Harris has on her blog and made a cute bag with a coaster, Christmasy mug and a couple of packets of hot chocolate mix or cider. I made an number more of them for the UMW craft sale and they sold really well. Another year we did cookie cutter fudge for everyone.

So this year, I was trying to think of what to do and at about that time the Food Network website started their Twelve Days of Cookies e-mails. I get those every year (you get a different cookie recipe every day for 12 days) but I don't think I've ever actually made any of the cookies! We decided that every night we would make a double batch of that day's recipe and each take half to work the next day as our co-worker Christmas gift. We are on day four. Day one was a Paula Deen recipe for Gooey Chocolate Butter Cookies. Didn't think to take a picture. Day two was Garam Masala Chocolate Gingerbread.

Today we took Coconut Macaroons (my favorite so far) and tonight we made Biscotti with toasted almonds and dried cherries. Also really delicious.

It's been a big hit at both workplaces so far. I work at a big college and we have a lot of people through our office everyday so a lot of people have gotten to share in the cookie-eating. Dave said when he got to work the second day there was a group of people in the breakroom just standing there waiting for him.

It's been a fun activity to do together, as well and Dave is learning all kinds of new skills! Yesterday he learned how to fold beaten egg whites into the other part of the recipe. And every night when we're cleaning up we try to guess what the next day's recipe is going to be. Doesn't take much to entertain us, I guess.