Monthly Archives: November 2010

Feeling Sentimental

The older I get, the more I realize how traditional I am. That became quite apparent to me this year as I hosted my first Thanksgiving in a few years. I long for the days where cooking began at 7AM with seeing my Grandmother and Aunt Kelly putting their magic on the dinner with homemade stuffing, mashed potatoes, creamed cauliflower (my favorite), yams and several other sides. We would all say a traditional Norwegian Prayer (I can say it, but I have no idea the translation). Thanksgiving wasn’t complete until Jennifer and I fought over the wishbone, and everyone was under someone’s feet, tripping over each other in the kitchen. We also used to watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas (the cartoon, on TBS, every Thanksgiving night)

After 1996, Thanksgiving quickly became one of those holidays I detested – that was the first time I felt that the family was drifting apart. Jennifer had married, Kelly was dating, Bernie was doing whatever Bernie did. It seemed easier for us to drift rather than be together. I have since accepted its fate, as I usually went out to dinner with Eddie and my Grandfather (he passed in 2007), so I have started to recreate my own Thanksgiving this year and celebrated with my in-laws and my sister Jennifer. I hope to one day incorporate the rest of the family, but I think we are all kind of set in our ways.

Christmas is another story. Here are some of my traditions:

** Cleaning/decorating the house on Black Friday (including the Christmas Tree)

** Going to Wheaton Village for new ornaments (the handcrafted glass ornaments remind me of my Grandmother’s ornaments from overseas)

** Hosting a Christmas party for our friends

** Spending a day in NYC

** Wrapping gifts by the fireplace with a glass of wine and singing Christmas music

** Food shopping on Christmas Eve @ 5:30 AM (yes, I’m that crazy, but I’m not dealing with crowds)

** Having a quiet dinner out with Eddie on Christmas Eve

** Hosting our families on Christmas Day

Clearly the last one is my favorite. I have come to realize that after my Grandmother passed in 1996, she really was the glue that held us all together. I’ve always felt some sort of need to hold on to the old days, so each year we all get together and celebrate in my home and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Jennifer comes with her children, Dana and Riley, Kelly and her husband Paul come with Makenzie and Colton (every other year), Bernie and his fiancé Linda join in (sometimes her twin sons Justin and Matt too), Eddie’s parents, and of course Ed’s sister Paula. Nothing makes me happier than everyone gathering in the kitchen, helping me put the finishing touches on dinner, sharing stories and making fun of each other, seeing the joy in the kid’s faces when they open their gifts, Ed’s face when the Lakers win (lets beat Miami this year). Even the dogs get decked out in their own Christmas gear and have their own stockings too.

So I’m a bit on the sentimental side, but there’s something about the holidays that bring that ‘soft’ side out of me. Share your traditions, who knows, you could inspire me to do something new (and I can hear Eddie giving me a ‘Yo Shan’ at that comment – as sentimental as I get around the holidays, I make him equally as crazy – love you babes!!)

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Week 6 Update

Hello friends.  I’m back for my weekly installment of my 101 in 1001 challenge.  There isn’t too much going on, I’ve been crazy busy cleaning and prepping for Thanksgiving that I haven’t had much time for anything else.  I should be back on track in no time!  Here’s the latest updates:

#13 Keep a swear jar for 2 weeks.  Every time I curse, I deposit$.25 and will donate the amount to a charity of my choosing (I’m thinking if I do this @ Christmas, I will buy toys for the ‘Toys for Tots’ program) – well, this has been the 2nd most interesting challenge so far (after the sarcasm challenge).  I’ve been very creative in my terminology and so have my co-workers .  At the end of the task, we raised a total of $30.25.  I’m excited to go shopping for the Toys for Tots program.  I lost track on how much I personally cursed (I’m guessing about half).  Special thanks to Chrissy, Karen, Jen, Rebecca, and Dawn for participating as well.  Maybe we’ll make a go of it next year!

#54 Try 10 new recipes – last week I tried Val’s Feel Better Soup.  This week I went for something different. I remember we used to have dumplings, but for the life of me I can’t remember what they were pared with (I’m thinking bean soup and ham – ewwww), nor did I know how to make them.  So I made chicken and dumplings from The Fannie Farmer Cookbook. I used 1 can of chicken broth and water to cover the chicken for more flavor (I had never made it and Eddie said it sounded “too plain”) and it was surprisingly good.  I seemed to like the dumplings the best (yes, I carb-overloaded) and Eddie enjoyed it (along with my renewed committment of cooking).

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Week 5 Update

Hi Friends!  I’m back with my 5th update for my 101 in 1001 Challenge.  I have to admit that it’s been a little tough over the last two weeks, and I hope to get more accomplished before the holidays, but I tend to get so wrapped up in Christmas, that everything is secondary (anyone else have this problem?)  Here’s the updated standings:

#13 Keep a swear jar for 2 weeks; every time I curse, I deposit $.25 and will donate the amount to a charity of my choosing (I am thinking if I do this @ Christmas, I will buy toys for the Toys for Tots Program) – This has been surprisingly fun.  My co-workers have also joined in on it (some when I have caught them, others have volunteered and threw in money for the ‘heck’ of it), but their donations have been paltry compared to mine.  As of 11/15, we’ve raised $16.75.  (I think about 65% of it is mine though – ouch)

#16 Refinish a piece of used furniture for the spare bedroom – shelved until after the new year; with the holidays coming up, I don’t have much time for this (who knows, I may change my mind if the mood strikes…or if I decide I want to park in the garage!!!)

#54 Try 10 new recipes – I tried my first of my 10 new recipes by making my best friend Val’s Feel Better Soup. I didn’t have turkey or stewed tomatoes so I used chicken and a 1/2 can of crushed tomatoes, and threw all the ingredients into a crock pot to cook all day (I was multi-tasking by painting the dining room).  The soup smelled  and tasted fabulous (given by Eddie’s repeat trips to the kitchen for more) and the recipe made a lot of soup!

#60 Paint Dining Room – I swore I’d never paint another wall in this house.  I guess the old phrase of “never say never” applies.  It went from a dark Peanut Butter Color to a bright hue of yellow-beige.  It looks fabulous.  Here’s a before and after picture (yes, I know it’s difficult to see the color in the before, but if you look close enough you can see it’s peanut butter-y and yes, I need to hang my wall art from my cousin Steph and my sconces I purchased from Kohls).  For anyone who is interested, the wall color is called Churchill Hotel Wheat in Eggshell Finish by Valspar.  I love it!!! 

#62 Give up Social Networking for 1 week – completed 11/10/10.  It was a bit tough and at points I wanted to log in (I guess I’m nosy) but I’m glad I completed it. I was able to relax, read, and catch up on the DVR.  I may cycle this again, just for fun (but maybe for an unplugged weekend – no computer/cell phone (barring family emergencies)/e-mail – which will help me also complete #53 Go a full day without text/e-mail/internet).

Hope you all have a great week!  Anyone else doing home projects/renovations?  I’d love to hear about them!

Week 4 Update

Hello friends!  I can’t believe this is the 4th update.  On Friday 11/12, I’ll be a month into this challenge.  I feel pretty good about what I’ve already accomplished and surprisingly I thought that I would dread the blog, but it’s what I’m enjoying the most.  So grab a glass of wine and let’s talk some business, shall we (seriously, if I had my own business, instead of serving coffee and pastries, we’d have wine and cheese!)

#8 Spend a day volunteering at either Gloucester County/Camden County Animal Shelter – so I never heard back from the Camden County Animal Shelter 😦 With the holidays coming up, I don’t have a lot of time available, so I’m going to shelve this project until after the New Year.  For anyone who is interested in volunteering, click these  links:  Animal Welfare Association, Camden County Animal Shelter, Gloucester County Animal Shelter

#13 Keep a swear jar for 2 weeks.  Every time I curse, I deposit$.25 and will donate the amount to a charity of my choosing (I’m thinking if I do this @ Christmas, I will buy toys for the ‘Toys for Tots’ program) – my company recently contacted Marine Toys for Tots program.  I started this on Monday 11/8/10 and I decided that this would be an appropriate time. I hope to raise some money  and I’m encouraging my co-workers to join in as well (I’m not actually proud of my foul-mouthed ways, but at least I’m putting my money where my mouth is…ok, bad cliché).

#16 Refinish a piece of used furniture for the spare bedroom  – still in process. This just reminds me of the ghost of home improvement projects of the past – I love the demolition part, but I struggle to finish…maybe it’s because I thrive on deadlines (see #60 below) – anyone else like that?

#60 Paint Dining Room – I tend to stress myself out around the holidays and almost always have a need to paint or do home improvement projects with a very limited time frame (which drives Eddie nuts).  I have 3 colors on my dining room wall which I’m studying to see in different light, etc. This is on the slate for completion next weekend and is a “high priority item” since I’m hosting a small Thanksgiving this year.

#62 Give up social networking for 1 week – I have not been on Facebook since Wednesday 11/3/10 @ 12:00pm.  The only peep you have heard out of me is a blog post, since it’s auto linked to my profile (so I’m not counting that).  My self-imposed facebook ban hasn’t been that bad and I actually did some reading and caught up on my DVR!

Hope you have a fantastic week!  Xoxo!

So tonight, I’m cleaning out my closet…..

…Literally, not figuratively like my rapper pal Eminem.  However, as passionate as Eminem is about his rapping, I’m equally as passionate about home organization (and would love to get my professional organization license).  I hate clutter, especially in my walk-in closet .  Twice a year, I switch out my clothes packing up summer and hanging up winter (vice versa) as many of you do.  I thought I’d share a quick organizing tip for you to help with closet clutter:

When you swap out your clothes for the first time in a season, hang your hanger opposite as you normally would.  After you wear an item and return it to the closet, hang it the normal way.  At the end of the season, anything that has a reverse hanger(or has not been worn), discard or donate.  This way you have less to put away for a season and you are doing something good-by donating what you don’t wear to people who are less fortunate. 

Here’s a picture of my closet after (and yes, I’m saving $$ so I can incorporate a little more functionality/style here):

After the clean-out, I threw out one large trash bag of worn clothes and I also have one large bag to donate. 

Please feel free to  share any organizing tricks you have! I love good ideas!!!

Week 3 Update

Hey everyone!  I’m back with my week 3 update on my 101 in 1001 challenge. Here’s the latest standings:

8 Spend a day volunteering at either Gloucester County/Camden County Animal Shelter – I started researching this.  I sent an e-mail over to CC Animal Shelter because the Gloucester County website didn’t mention anything about volunteering. I’m pretty excited (because I love animals)  but also scared at the same time.  I’m borderline terrified to find out what actually happens at the shelters (I’ve heard too many horror stories). I hope they accept me for a day (who knows, maybe I’ll enjoy it and turn it into something a little more permanent).  If anyone knows of any local no-kill shelters in the Camden/Gloucester/Burlington County areas, let me know. 

16 Refinish a piece of used furniture for the spare bedroom – didn’t get to this, but I intend on priming (and hopefully painting) the dresser before the week is out.  Work/Halloween sucked the life out of me!

62 Give up social networking for 1 week  – so I’m starting this on Wednesday @ 12:00pm.  With the exception of a possible blog post (it’s auto linked through network blogs), you won’t hear a Facebook peep out of me for a whole week.  I think I spend entirely too much time on it (especially now that it’s cold out, I don’t want to do much of anything but sit around and be lazy), so I think we can be like Ross and Rachel from Friends and be “on a break” – (minus the cheating with the skank from the copy shop)! Plus, it will give me time to work on some of my other tasks I want to complete (#35 – paring down the magazines in my hall closet or #73 – start getting the office organized or even #60 – painting the dining room)

77 Write a letter to myself early in this challenge and don’t open it until the last day – done.  It’s interesting.  I feel like I gave myself a pep talk.  Guess we’ll find out how much my life has changed on July 13, 2013 (that seems so far from now!!)

Has anyone else jumped on board?  For those of you who have started your list, how are you doing with it?  I’d love to hear your updates too!