December 31, 2009

time to lock it up ...

Just wanted to share some holiday photos from Christmas 2009 before we leap into 2010 in just a matter of hours.

On Christmas Eve we hosted about 25 people - just for snacks and drinks - here are a few shots... (I don't want to add pictures of the guests just in case they aren't in love with that idea). I made peanut butter cookies, Nutter Butter snowmen, sugar cookies, chocolate-covered pound-cake bites, cupcakes and zucchini bread. Lotsa goodies ...


On Christmas Day we split time between my parents home and Gregg's sister's home. I look forward to that Christmas meal every year. It is normally LASAGNA but this year my mom opted for stuffed shells instead. Just as yummy. And we always have meatballs, Eggplant Parmesan (my favorite) and antipasto. Mmm mmm mmm. The leftovers are just as good. At my sister-in-law's house they have turkey, ham, potatoes, rice, noodles, veggies etc. TONS of options. There are always too many desserts to choose from as well. YUM.

Gregg and I had a wonderful Christmas. One of our favorite parts is Christmas morning when we sit in the living room and open our gifts from each other. Since it only happens once a year it really makes those rare moments that much more special. We appreciate every second of it and love to see the looks on each others faces when we open our "little surprises". Gregg is very thoughtful and always manages to find something that I adore. We don't spend a lot of money anymore since we have our important priorities - but we don't notice the difference. I just enjoy that time that we spend together.

Hope you all had a lovely holiday and since it is New Year's Eve - Happy New Year, everyone! I wish you all health, wealth and happiness in 2010! Cheers!! 

December 22, 2009

ho ho ho-ly mackerel...

Twas three days before Christmas
And much to my cheer
I am ready to welcome it
I've waited all year

The house is quite festive
Red and green off the hook
And Santas and snowmen
Adorn every nook

For each ornament, a place
On the big Christmas tree
Which has now been de-skirted
For my sanity

As cute as it was
In the trash it will sit
When it's covered in bug pods
I don't give a shit

The presents are wrapped
Some disguised as a test
PS3 games and movies
Are too easily guessed

The cards hang on ribbons
On the back of the door
And I've baked up some cookies
Just a few dozen more

Outside on the bushes
Gregg strung up the lights
While I watched from the window
On the coldest of nights

The snow has been shoveled
Right down to the brick
So our Christmas Eve guests
Won't break bones if it's slick

I bought some supplies
at Ye Olde Liquor Store
I had some White Russians
Now I have to buy more

We are ready to host
About twenty-five guests
With seating for twelve
Should be awkward, at best

I hope that you all 
Are enjoying your season
For all of the rushing
Is for quite a good reason

So hold onto your family
and keep your friends dear
Merry Christmas to all
and a Happy New Year


December 21, 2009

blizz o'nine ...

This past weekend the forecast called for a blizzard and to our surprise - the forecast was right. I have always enjoyed the snow- when I don't have to drive in it, that is. Shoveling isn't my favorite thing to do but, to me, the good outweighs the bad in any snowstorm... especially when it falls on a weekend and people can stay off the roads and at home to enjoy it.

It started around 8:45 on Saturday night. Gregg and I were watching A Christmas Story with our tree lit and our heat crankin'... all cozied up.

Within an hour the winds had started picking up and the "white-out conditions" began...

During the night it obviously continued pretty heavily and Brody could not WAIT to get outside to enjoy it. He actually woke us up at 6:30 so he could start running around - just like a little kid. He barely managed to sit still while we put his collar on and opened the slider to the deck ...

Shoveling was no easy feat. We had to lift the snow in three sections due to its height. I believe we got 15" in our area. I had a lot of trouble trying to brush the snow off of Gregg's Jeep just because it was piled so high. We each had our own section of the circular driveway to take care of ... and the city plows did nothing to lighten the load. Don't ya just love that giant packed pile at the ends of your driveway?? That took a while to chip away at.

When the shoveling was finally finished, we got into our super warm clothes, lit a fire and had hot chocolate. That is one cliché that I don't mind at all.  

December 17, 2009

sheri vs wild...

Well, I guess I had it comin'. Shoving my happy, festive, holiday spirit in the face of the world for months now. I knew it wouldn't be long before someone had to shit right on my smiley parade. Or on my Christmas tree skirt... whichever.

So, I was about to do the dishes (crap, I still haven't done them) when I saw my makeshift tree-watering device, a.k.a. a Poland Spring bottle, sitting there as a nagging reminder. I filled it up and went to do one of my least favorite chores. I crawled under the veil of falling needles- that are so sharp they actually draw blood sometimes- and fulfilled my duty as Blackthumb, The Thirst Quencher.

Now, those of you who know me can attest to my fear of many, many living creatures. We have discussed spiders, centipedes and moths just to name a few. But the fear goes way deeper. I find dead lady bugs in the  upstairs bedrooms and I want to board the place up and move. I also LOATHE anything in large quantities. Swarms make me want to cut my eyeballs out. Big groups of insects, dead or alive, horrify me. It may sound childish and irrational but it's sort of out of my hands at this point.

Anyway, there I was, on my hands and knees pouring the last drop into the tree stand, when I saw them. When I tell you I gasped and my eyes became as wide as saucers I am NOT exaggerating. Not a stitch. Hundreds of 'black dots' peppering the white edges of the tree skirt and lining the floor at the baseboard. I was petrified. I did triple and quadruple takes. Panic was leaking into my system. My first hurried thought was 'mice droppings'. We have a controlled mice issue in our house but I had never seen any crime scene like THIS before. Taking a closer look, and holding my breath the entire time, I tossed out my initial guess. 'Holy shit, it's spider pods'. Remembering the day we brought the tree home when I saw a spider crawling on the wall, and another on the ceiling, and four total that day - I was now convinced. Millions of thoughts began to speed through my mind ... What the FFFFFF??? So basically our tree is infested with spiderlings?? I will DIE right this second. Oh my God I have to get this tree outside. Wait! I have to UNdecorate it first. All of our little, adorable ornaments TAINTED with crawled upon horror. And when I drag it outside all of the PODS will fall on me and all over the floor. I cannot touch this tree!! I will SPRAY it!! I will spray the tree with bug killer!! Wait, then everything will just fall to the ground and I will die all over again. WHAT will I DO?? ... That was just the first few moments upon realizing the nature of the situation.

I immediately dialed Gregg's cell phone number. In every "crisis" I call him instinctively, knowing full well that there is no way he can just leave work to sweep up a bug situation for me. I left the voice mail anyway. It's always worth a shot, right?? I then collected myself, somewhat, and made a dash for the trashcan, a broom, paper towels, bug killer and a dustpan. Just carrying these items together made me want to vomit.

I set up shop a few feet from the tree and planned my attack. First mission: Operation Tree Skirt Disposal. It took all of the courage I have inside me to gently un-Velcro those four openings. WHY is this Velcro so effing secure?? Is this super strength heavy duty Velcro made specifically for tightly fastening a frigging tree skirt?? With each slight pull I could see the 'dots' bouncing on the fabric. Vomit. Death. Fury. Panic. I finally managed to undo the damn thing and I gathered it up and marched it right outside into the big, black trash container of death. Dusting off my hands, I walked back into that living room more like a soldier than a shrieking housewife. I had my game face on. I doused those paper towels with tree water, mopped up some pods and threw the sopping mess in the trashcan. I swept up the remaining pellets of terror into a dustpan and disposed of them quickly. I even swept my broom and brush with each other to make sure that there were no lingering 'dots' to be hatched. Oh my God the word "hatched" is unacceptable. Feeling pretty intrepid about my cleanup I gave the area a quick once over to make sure all was secure. Ummm WHAT is that?? My eyes focused on a frightening sight. A god damned web. Right next to the 'back of the tree gold ball' was a creepy web o' disgust. What now?? I really don't have much experience in web-demolition. I am the girl who will ask an obvious serial killer to do things like that rather than ever attempt it myself. I began fumbling around for an item that was both long and something that I wouldn't mind tossing into a tar pit afterward. Unfortunately, not many items fit the bill. Tinfoil!!! I twisted up a tinfoil web-destroyer double quick! Back at the tree, hands shaking, I swirled that foil sword around and around, up and down the tree, taking down more than one web!! I hadn't even seen the others until now. And then, rounding a corner, a raisin-sized scumbag spider jerk was making his way out front to see what all the commotion was about. My heart stopped. Faced with the evil demon himself, I knew I had to keep my brave boots on and fight this mutha until his scary, little breaths were silenced. Well, I lost him in the tree. Apparently it's not that easy to balance on unstable tinfoil. It was at this moment that I decided to spray the  tree, the wall, window and floor with good old fashioned Hot Shots Bug Killer.

This ordeal lasted for close to an hour. Once I tossed the disgusting waste, I reached for the phone number to Arrest-A-Pest. That's right. You know I have them on speed dial. I realize that I brought a TREE into my living room. I get it. I'm not an idiot. But I have every right to consider them intruders anyway. They are unwelcome guests at best. My service man will be here tomorrow with his trusty spray (I should have asked for a tank of that for Christmas) and hopefully everything will be salvageable. If not, guess who's getting a new tree this weekend?

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go light myself on fire.

December 15, 2009

stop the press!!!

I truly have nothing exciting to report ... as usual, but thought I would note what I have been busy with.

I have spent most of my time over the past few weeks doing my Christmas shopping. Got a whole lot done and now its just a few teeny things standing in the way of my being completely finished. I wrap everything the day I buy it or the day that it is delivered to my house, that way there is no huge four hour wrap session.

I have also spent a good chunk of the weekends decorating for Christmas. It's a bit like the North Pole in here. I love Christmas decorations. I think our tree is perfect again this year - we really enjoyed continuing our tradition of putting it up on our anniversary. Hmm I should upload some pics as a matter of fact ...

This is Fred!! 
Fred is the first ornament on the tree each year.
He is my favorite and has been in the family since before my parents were married.
I hang him in our bedroom all year long until his big holiday debut!! Haha. 
Also, I sometimes apologize to him for the hook that I stuck in his head.


And that's that. It's pretty festive in here these days. Some nights I light about 15 tealight candles, each glowing red or green or burning a chocolate peppermint scented wax tart. Mmmm ... North Poley.

Recently, we decided to have our 2nd annual Christmas Eve party. Last year we invited both of our families over for snacks and drinks and it went very well. It is the only time during the year where our families are together and we all had a nice ol' holiday time. I am now trying to figure out what cookies to bake and what cake or pie to serve and just how I shall decorate my cupcakes. Fun stuff, but I seem to obsess over it nonetheless. More importantly I am concerned with the chair situation. Twenty five people invited and I think we have seating for ten or twelve. HA! Oh well. Maybe I should tell them there's a dancing contest! Sitters lose.

I have been watching or DVRing every holiday special on television. From Rudolph to the Grinch, Charlie Brown to "the little mice with the clock one" hahaha. I thrive on tradition when it comes to the holidays and these shows make me more nostalgic than anything else. I can picture watching them with my mom from when I was a little girl until the year that I moved out of her house. She still watches them too. :o)

My sister-in-law had a Christmas party last weekend for my nephews and the family/extended family. Santa and Mrs. Claus were to show up at 7 p.m. All of the kiddies were running around with their big, bright smiles. Excitement. It was pretty adorable to say the least. Watching the kids climb up on Santa's lap, telling him just what they would like this year. Each received their own little gift bag (courtesy of my mother-in-law who organized the meeting with her friends - the Clauses). There were so many cookies and snacks, not to mention a slammin punch that was made for the kids but ended up in glasses of blackberry vodka instead. Hence my sister-in-law's hangover the following day. But MAN was that a good drink.

What else what else?? We celebrated my grandmother's 88th birthday on December 9th. She is in wonderful health and other than some yucky arthritis she's going quite strong. We got together for her favorite chocolate cake and some laughs.


And I guess that about does it. I am really looking forward to Christmas with Gregg and our families and just trying to finish up all of the running around and "prep work".

I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday this year. Soon, it will be in the past so let's all take the time to enjoy it. Happy Holidays! Eat, drink and be merry and safe!!

December 10, 2009

all shined up ...

I would like to share my thoughts with you all on what is most important to me.

First, a little history ...

I started babysitting at age 11. I watched my at-the-time neighbor's two daughters three days a week until I was a Sophomore in high school. I had two other babysitting jobs besides that. I starting working part time at Rocky Point as a hostess in the Shore Dinner Hall when I was 14. From age 16 - 18 I worked 25 - 30 hours a week at Almacs as a cashier. I would get home from school, do my homework and head out for a 5 or 6 hour shift. After high school I worked full time for 14 years. I never took any time off in between jobs. I was out of work for two and a half months after having major surgery. I had a two week break for our wedding and honeymoon. And I had 5 weeks off after having a cyst removed from my dominant hand. I have never called out of work without a legitimate illness.

I was raised to be responsible. When I wanted a car I saved the money for the down payment, paid for my insurance and financed the piece of shit for 3 years. When the car needed repairs it sat in my parents driveway until I saved up the money to get it fixed. This isn't to say that my parents NEVER helped me out. Of course they lent their hands along the way as all parents do. They just had sharp instincts and knew when to let me struggle and when to step in.

I am a very hard worker. I started with one company as a proofreader in their composing site and four years and three location changes later became the office manager of the sales department. Not that this is a magical title or anything but it was a lot of work under crazy deadlines with a lot of responsibility. Not to mention an hour commute. That's 44 miles each way. So after two years of that heinous commute, about a million oil changes and an absolutely disgruntled demeanor I decided I needed to make a move. I found a job that was 15 minutes from my home, nailed the interviews and started two weeks later.

At this point it is no secret that I am unemployed. To recap, I lost that job in January. I was completely blindsided. Up until that point I was led to believe that I had a "very bright future" with the company. I was immediately pissed off, bitter, upset, hurt, sick to my stomach and just felt like my pride had been shattered. I was scared to death that I would end up losing my house and not be able to pay my bills. I felt defeated and knew that I was going to have to start all over again after all of my hard work. The problem with that was the pay scale. I am not in any position to take what most employers are offering for starting pay. I have a lot of bills and a high mortgage payment. There is a minimum that I need to make and I can't seem to find it anywhere. By collecting unemployment I am still making over $200 less per month than when I was working. Making that adjustment alone has been no easy task. But as the months passed it became clear to me that I am not in a horrible situation at all. Sure, it is hard to manage our money and we struggle as any other does. And finding a job that fits is an enormous task with no guarantee. But I am HOME. And I am enjoying my home and taking time for myself that I didn't realize I needed until this happened. I was, at first, too busy freaking out about our financial situation to take that step back and see that this break is OKAY and we will be just fine.

The point I am trying to make with this tale is that I am finally enjoying my life. After losing that job I realized it wasn't a horrible turn of events ... it was actually a great blessing. I got back in touch with who I really am when you strip away the daily grind and the added stress that comes with any job. I have the freedom to sit in my pajamas and look out the window when the sun is first peeking through the blinds rather than cursing it while sitting in rush hour traffic. I have the luxury of sipping my coffee each morning rather than gulping it down while curling my eyelashes and straightening my hair. I have the liberty of taking my dog for a brisk morning walk rather than sitting in an office chair for 8 hours with excruciating back pain. I get to enjoy grocery shopping while the store is nearly empty rather than fighting a crowd of 14 people for that little, paper ticket at the deli. I can leisurely write out my Christmas cards with happy greetings that actually stem from a happy mood rather than forcing pleasant adjectives through a scowling pen. In fact, this entire Christmas season has been such a tremendous delight I almost feel as though I am 7 yrs old again, sitting in art class just bursting with excitement over creating my construction paper Santa! It feels damn good to be me right now. I have never felt this wonderful. I have never been this happy. I have been happy of course but not THIS happy. It is truly amazing to see how a job can slowly tarnish your spirit. I feel as though I have been shined back up this year. I am SO thankful for this experience. And whether people judge me or not I don't feel guilt about it, I don't feel as though I am undeserving. I wish for everyone to have the opportunity to peel away the grimy layers of stress and remember how it feels to be satisfied and joyful once again.

Moments like these don't last very long so I am cherishing every single second. One day soon I will be back to the old grind. I will be rushing around each morning having no time to enjoy the simple pleasures. I will spend my days answering to peoples calls and meeting others demands. This freedom and gracious spirit that I have dusted off will once again become somewhat stifled in the process. I dread it but I am not naive to it. I know its coming. Which is why I am so thankful for every second I can spend fully happy.

I love my life. I love my husband. I love our home. I love that we, together, love each other and our home. I love who I have become. No matter what happens down the line I am going to try my hardest to not lose myself ever again. No job is worth it. Life is love. The love you give and the love you receive. It doesn't matter who treats you like crap at work, if you make a mistake or if you sit in hours of traffic. I will do my best to remind myself of this every single day when I feel my spirit is crushed. I know I will be coming home to my real life ... and that is what matters most.