Sunday, December 27, 2020

Sunday Stealing--For Those Who Celebrate Christmas #2

Wanna Play?  Join us here.

Star or Angel?  Sort of a star.  It’s a star with a spinning wire that has Santa in a bi-plane at the end of it.  His plane has a streamer out behind it that says “Believe”.  My Mom got it for me at Cracker Barrel a few years ago.

White Lights or Colored Lights?  I was always a white light kind of gal, but this year, we added colored lights to our outside display, and I’m digging it.  The inside tree is still white though.  I love anything that sparkles!

Blinking Lights or Still Lights?  Still.  The blinking thing gives me a headache.

When do you open your gifts?  Well, my entire childhood we celebrated the holiday on Christmas Eve.  My mother is German, and it was her tradition.  As an adult it was more “open one thing on Christmas Eve, the rest Christmas morning”.  This year, Mom wanted to change things up, so we opened our gifts Christmas afternoon, before dinner.

Do you buy gifts for your pet?  No, they get treats every day, lol. 

Be honest: What's the worst gift you've ever gotten?  Nothing really stands out. 

Have you ever traveled for the holiday?  Like traveled to a family gathering, or traveled to some exotic locale?  I’ve traveled plenty to see family.  But never somewhere exotic.  Most of my career I worked the actual holidays, so, we generally traveled before or after Christmas.  Getting Christmas off when you are a nurse is like winning the lottery.

Did you see Santa as a child?  At the mall, sure.

Can you name all the reindeer?  Not without my friend Google.  Let’s see what I can do on my own.  Dasher, Prancer, Donner, Cupid, Blitzen, Rudolph.  That’s all I got.  I missed Dancer, Vixen, and Comet.  And the google machine doesn’t even name Rudolph…what’s up with that!?

Have you ever gone caroling?  Nope.

Do you drive around and look at the Christmas lights?  We used to drive around the subdivision and check out the lights.  Our subdivision is huge, about 3600 homes, sort of divided into various neighborhoods.  We have a facebook page, and a Christmas lights contest.  So a lot of people go all out.  This year, lots of people in our little neighborhood decorated, so we just walked around and looked.    

Have you ever left Santa cookies?  Yes, when my daughter was little, and we left the reindeer carrots as well.

Have you ever had a white Christmas?  The years I lived in Colorado, Montana, and Alaska (1992-2000) they were all white.  It’s a crapshoot here in New Mexico.

Have you ever made a gingerbread house from scratch? From a kit?  Neither.  I’ve made gingerbread men, but never a house.

Be honest: Do you think the season is too commercial?  I don’t know.  Probably.  I wish it didn’t start so early, that would be my only complaint.  I mean, Christmas right after Halloween was a little much this year.  It sort of took away from Thanksgiving. 

Imagine you were going to create the quintessential holiday soundtrack -- which song(s) absolutely must be included?  I’m not a huge fan of Christmas music.  I would want the traditional stuff, nothing new or kitschy.  I hate the “Grandma got run over by a reindeer” genre.  Just give me a good We Three Kings, Away in a Manger, that sort of stuff.

What are your Christmas pet peeves?  The holidays starting right after Halloween.  Christmas music on a loop in every store.  Black Friday.  The “frantic-ness” of it all. 

This ended on sort of a negative note, so I want to share a super nice thing that happened yesterday.  We have neighbors across the street, a young couple with 2 kids, maybe 6 and 8.  We say Hi, wave, always put our Christmas lights up Thanksgiving weekend, that sort of thing, but we don't really "know" them.  Yesterday, there was a knock at the door, and I opened it to a plate of home-made cookies (gluten and dairy free to boot!), and this lovely family at the end of my driveway, wishing me Merry Christmas and waving.  The kids had smiles a mile wide.  Then they went on to the house next to theirs, to deliver another plate.  It really warmed my heart.  My Christmas resolution is to get to know this lovely family this year.  Perhaps I'll make a pot of green chile stew and take it over there, and leave it at their doorstep.

We're too far apart in this world right now, and we need to be reaching out.  Like they did.  What a good lesson for their beautiful children.

Have a great Sunday, ya'll.  

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Saturday 9 -- Purple Snowflakes


Join us here.

Saturday 9: Purple Snowflakes (2018)

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

1) The lyrics ask where the snowflakes go. Sam can answer that: she shovels them! Do you shovel or use a snow blower? Or do you live in a warmer climate with no snow?

Shovel.  It only snows four or five times a year here, and generally, the sun is out the next day melting everything away.  We rarely have to even use the shovel. 

2) This week's artist, John Legend, recalls his Christmases growing up, singing carols with his family around the piano. Do you have a piano, or any other musical instruments, in your home?

My husband has 6 electric guitars, 1 acoustic guitar, and a ukulele.  I can’t play any of them.

3) This song is from John Legend's first Christmas album, A Legendary Christmas. It was a massive hit. Did you add any new music to your holiday collection this year?

I’m not a fan of holiday music for some reason.  I did, however, discover a new artist that I like.  Here, have a listen to Caitlin Canty.  This song is especially relevant in these times I think.

4) John and his wife Chrissy Teigen go caroling with friends. What's the last song that you sang?

Sang along to one of my favorites while housecleaning….  Shine on, You Crazy Diamond.

5) Chrissy's hobby is cooking. While she likes experimenting with new recipes, her young children prefer their familiar favorites, like mashed potatoes. She tosses a bay leaf into the water as the potatoes boil to add enhance the flavor. Do you have a dish that's considered your specialty?

Shrimp and Grits.  It’s not a traditional version—I got something similar with a Blue Apron box, and loved it so much that I adapted it a bit, and kept making it, long after we gave up Blue Apron.  Good grits are key—I buy mine from Palmetto Farms in SC, you can order online or find them at Whole Foods or Trader Joes.  The best stone-ground grits I’ve ever had.  Here’s the recipe….

For your grits:  1-1/2 cups chicken broth, 1-1/2 cups milk, 1/4 tsp salt (or more to taste), 3/4 cup grits, 1 cup shredded cheddar.  Bring chicken broth and milk to boil in a medium saucepan, stir in grits and salt, bring back to a boil, whisking frequently.  Cover and turn to low, cook 20-25 minutes, whisking every 5 or 10 minutes.  Just prior to serving, stir in the cheese and let it melt.

For your shrimp:  about 10 medium to large shrimp, 1 tbsp smoked paprika, salt, pepper, 3 cloves garlic, 1 scallion, 1 lemon, double handful grape tomatoes, 1 tbsp butter.   Pat shrimp dry, then toss in a bowl with paprika, salt, pepper.  Halve the grape tomatoes long ways.  Mince garlic, chop scallion, keeping white and green parts separate.  Zest lemon, then quarter.  Put olive oil in skillet on medium high, when it's shimmering, cook shrimp 2 minutes on a side, remove to a plate.  Wipe out skillet, put olive oil in, when its shimmering, toss in white parts of scallion, garlic, cook for about a minute.  Add tomatoes, cut side down, mash them with a spoon so the juices come out.  Cook until soft, add juice of 2 lemons quarters and the butter, stir.

Put grits in a wide bowl, add shrimp to sauce, stir once to coat, and put on top of grits.  Garnish with green onion and lemon zest.  Devour.

6) John prefers to unwind with a good book and loves comparing reading recommendations with friends. Did you discover any books in 2020 that you'd like to recommend to our Sat 9ers?

I finally finished Hugo-winner “A Memory Called Empire” by Arkady Martine.  If you like sci-fi, this one deserved the Hugo for sure.  Great story. 

7) This song was written by Motown powerhouse Marvin Gaye. Who is your favorite Motown artist?

Martha Reeves and the Vandellas

8) In 1972, Marvin wrote another Christmas song, "I Want to Come Home for Christmas." He dedicated it to the troops then serving in Vietnam. Do you know anyone who is protecting us this holiday season? Tell us about him or her. Whether they are in the armed forces, the police or fire department, or the ER, we want to say thank you!

To all my healthcare worker sisters and brothers—a heartfelt thank you for what you do.

9) Random question: You go into the kitchen to make your perfect sandwich. What fixings do you need?

Toasted sourdough bread, Duke’s Mayo (it really is the best!), Dijon mustard.  Green leaf lettuce (I love that these huge leaves come all washed and ready to go now), honey-cured ham slices, pepperjack cheese, and roasted red peppers.  I am SERIOUS about my sandwiches.  Bread, mayo, lettuce, ham, peppers, cheese, lettuce, mustard, bread.  Cut in half, corner to corner, eat!  Yum!

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Three on Thursday


Uno.  It's Christmas Eve, and I'm actually off for the first time in .... well a long time.  I'm off Christmas too!  Huzzah!  Being off on Christmas is a big deal for an RN.  While I don't work at the bedside anymore, my department is still 365 days a year.  Hospitals never stop, and neither do we.  So what am I going to do with all this wonderful time?  Wellll....

Dos.  I'm getting really close to the end of the MBA in Healthcare Management.  I'm almost done with my final paper for Service Line Development, and then it's diving into the slog that is Global Economics.  I start my capstone project in March, and after that, I'll be truly done.  It will be weird--I've pretty much been in school nonstop for a few years now.  What WILL I do when I am done?

Tres.  Haven't a clue.  Well a little clue.  I really, really want to learn Excel.  Like deeply learn it.  I can do basic formulas, basic graphing, but the data functions elude me and pivot tables....fuhgeddaboudit.  There are some online courses out there, so that will probably be my project after school is over.  

Happy Christmas, folks.  Hubs and I are spending it home alone, Mom is participating in socially distanced activities at her apartment.  Tomorrow, she comes over and we feast on beef Osso Buco.  My idea--I love a good braised piece of beef.  Fa la la la!

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Sunday Stealing--For Those Who Celebrate Christmas #1

Play here.

What’s your favorite thing about the holidays?

The sparkly stuff.  I love, love, love putting up our outside and inside Christmas.  There’s a story there.  I did not celebrate Christmas for a decade after my divorce.  It reminded me too much of my daughter, and that was pretty painful.  Then one year, I realized that I was allowing my regrets and my shame to hold Christmas hostage, and I decided to take Christmas back.  We put up a small tree, and a few lights outside.  My Mom sent me ornaments from my childhood, the outside thing got bigger, and now it’s my favorite time of year.

Do you send out Christmas cards and if so how many do you send? 

I just send to my family.  So that would be Mom, my brother and his family, my daughter and her family, my one and only cousin, and my aunt and uncle.  We are a small family.  Since there are so few, I always get the “fancy” cards…I love them.

Be honest: holiday newsletters. Love ‘em or hate ‘em?

Depends who it’s coming from. 

Be honest: photo cards. Love ‘em or hate ‘em?

Again, depends who it’s coming from. 

How soon do you start shopping?

After Thanksgiving.  Amazon is my friend.

Real or fake tree?

Fake.  Pre-lit.  LOVE that tree. 

When do you put up your tree? 

Usually Thanksgiving weekend, along with the outdoor lights.  But, like a lot of people I think, in this year of the Pandemic, I started earlier.  It went up mid-November.

When do you take down your tree? 

Mid-January, usually.

Describe your typical tree (size, decorations, type)

7 foot pre-lit tree.  We go to our favorite Christmas store in Santa Fe every year and buy a new ornament or two.  There are also ornaments from my husband’s childhood, and handmade ornaments from my childhood.  Here are some examples….

Mom made this when I was in 11th grade

Hubs is a former Marine

Bought on our second trip to Puerto Rico

Love this little New Mexico ornament

One of my favorite from this year

What do you top your tree with?

This nifty star that my Mom bought me for my birthday a few years ago at Cracker Barrel.  It has a Santa in a bi-plane that flies around the tree.  Sadly this year something happened and it isn’t working.  I’m going to dissect it after the holidays and try to fix it.

Do you put Christmas lights outside your house?

Oh YES.  Lots.  This year we added the Luminarias along the driveway and the colored lights into the branches of the tree.  Next year we are going to finish going up the tree with colored lights--we literally bought the last 4 reels of colored LEDs in NM, I swear.  LEDs are a must--otherwise fuses get blown and circuit breakers get flipped.  The big fluffy bush (it's a Chamisa, also known as Rabbit Brush) also needs something.  It's at the right corner of the house.  It's huge though, so I'm thinking two or three nets...I'm also thinking of moving the reindeer and sleigh display so it's not right in front of the tree.  It kind of gets lost......

Is there a wreath hanging on your door?

We have a beautiful rustic oversized door that I can’t bear to put a nail in, so no.  It hangs on the house.

Do you hang up stockings?

No, never been a thing for me.

Your favorite Christmas Movie(s)

Some are Christmas-adjacent….The original Grinch, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Die Hard, Trading Places, The Sound of Music, and Patrick Stewart’s A Christmas Carol

Be honest: A Christmas movie you hate

Elf.  I truly cannot stand Will Ferrell.  That whole man-boy schtick he’s got going on just does not do it for me.

Favorite Christmas Song(s)

We Three Kings. 

Be honest: If I hear this/these Christmas songs again I will throw up

Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer.

Give or Receive?


Eggnog or Mulled Cider?

Mulled Cider 

Ham or Turkey?

Turkey for sure.  I can’t stand ham.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Saturday 9--Happy Holidays

Join us here.

Saturday 9: Happy Holidays! (from the archives) 

1. As you can see, Sam loved giving her annual wish list to Santa. Yet some children are reluctant to climb into Jolly Old St. Nick's lap. Did you enjoy the tradition or were you shy? Or did you by pass it altogether -- either because you wrote him a letter or because your family didn't celebrate Christmas?

I honestly don’t recall.  There’s a picture of my brother and I with Santa—I look to be about 4, he’s around 1.  Neither of us look terribly happy, but he was bawling.  Kind of an odd tradition, handing your kids over to some stranger for a picture….

2. Are you currently on the Naughty or Nice list? How did you get there?

I’m not on a list that I’m aware of. 

3. Did you ship any gifts to friends and family this year? If so, which one traveled the farthest?

Since the only member of my family that lives near me is my Mom (yay!), I had everything sent (huzzah, Amazon!).  I bought a little something for the little guy from a local craftsman (a cute puzzle in the shape of a bear), so that, I took to the post office.  It went the farthest….according to the google-machine 3,523 miles (although I doubt it went by ground, but still—far.)

4. Did you buy yourself a gift this year?

Yes.  Odds and ends, but the main thing was a new headboard from Wayfair.  This pink is nice, but ours is a light gray.

Image Credit

5. What's your favorite holiday-themed movie? Have you seen it yet this year?

Christmas Vacation.  Our tradition is to watch it Christmas eve.  I’ve got the Grinch (the original of course!), the Sound of Music, Trading Places, and Die Hard to go yet.  It’s an eclectic group.

6. Thinking of movies, Christmas is lucrative for Hollywood. Have you ever gone to a movie theater on Christmas Day?

No, I usually work.  This is the first year I will be off for Christmas in probably 10 years.  Seriously.   I hate using PTO for a holiday and would rather just get paid.  I like taking my PTO in weeks, not a day here, day there.

7. Have you ever suffered an embarrassing moment at the company Christmas party?   

One year, when I was a Director of Nursing, hubs and I were having so much fun on the dance floor my shoe came off and went flying.  I was pretty hilarious—at least I didn’t fall down. 

8. What's your favorite beverage in cold weather?

I don’t really have a favorite.  The two beverages I drink regularly are good old water and iced cold-brew coffee with a splash of cream in the mornings.  I treat myself to a McDonalds fountain coke occasionally….they’re the best!

9. Share a memory from last Christmas.

We took Maddie to see Santa.  It was adorable, as you can see.

Friday, December 11, 2020

Five on Friday--Random Ramblings

Friday is my new Saturday, so it's nice to be blogging and not working.  I went on a Sunday-Thursday schedule a few weeks ago, and I love it!!  

Here we go--

1.  I gave blood yesterday.  For all the years I was at the bedside, I always gave blood, because I know how much of it we used in my area (cardiovascular ICU).  For a couple of years, I even gave platelets, which is a tedious 4 hour process.  But, after I left hospital nursing, I never really got back to it.  Then, I spent a couple of years on a blood thinner, so no donating there.  But with Covid and all, I decided to get back to it.  Bonus--they test you for Covid antibodies, and if you have them, you can donate convalescent plasma.  So off to the bus in a driving snowstorm, and zip zap, 1 pint of blood donated.

2.  We are known for our sunsets here in New Mexico, but the last couple of mornings we've had some spectacular sunrises.  I'm sitting here in my office and the light coming through the window is literally pink.  I knew something was special when the light coming down through my skylights was pink too.  I ran outside with my phone and these are the results.  No filters....just the Land of Enchantment saying good morning.

3.  Christmas is done, I mean decorating for it.  We added some color to the outside this year.  And the inside just makes me feel warm and cozy.

4.  I love getting up early (4ish) and getting school work done in the morning before I start work at 6.  Maddie is the cutest co-worker.  She curls up on the futon in my office and sleeps the day away whilst I work.  What a life!

5.  Today, I'm going with Mom to get her New Mexico drivers license, and her car registered.  After, we're going to go on a hunt for some potting soil and pots so she can start rebuilding her plant collection.  I found the MOST beautiful Christmas cactus yesterday and dropped it by--her house just didn't look right without a plant in it.  We had to leave two beautiful Christmas cacti behind in SC because we just didn't have one more bit of space in the car.  So it was fitting.  This one is about to bust out in deep fuschia blooms....I can't wait.  We're going here....I've never been and can't wait!

Happy Friday!

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Sunday Stealing--Best Things to Talk About

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1. What is the craziest, most outrageous thing you want to achieve?

I want to someday meet my daughter, her husband, and my grandson.  I haven’t seen my daughter since she was 6.  Long story.  We text, but our relationship is just a superficial one.  I don’t even know if I want it to be more than that—it’s pretty terrifying.  But you said crazy and outrageous, so that’s it.  It’s the most out there thing I could think of happening in my life, considering she lives a gazillion miles away, and all the water under the bridge.

2. Have your parents influenced what goals you have?

OMG, yes.  My parents had the most intense work ethic.  My father worked until he was in his late 70s.  He was wildly successful, until his cancer finally made it so he wasn’t able any more.  My mom gave me the gift of not having to be my Dad.  Not everyone has to be the CEO, she made it possible for me to be happy with success.  Dad was never happy, was always pushing me to get promoted, etc. etc. 

3. What is a fashion trend you’re glad went away.

Padded shoulders.  Those power suits from the 80s.  I actually wore that stuff back in the day when I was just starting out as a temp, before I became a nurse.  No-one needs to look like a linebacker in heels, lol.

4. What word or saying from the past do you think should come back?

That’s so fetch!

(Ok, not really, but it was the first thing that popped in my head, and I can’t even remember the movie…)

5. What do you bring with you everywhere you go?

Wallet and phone

6. Is there such a thing as a soul?

I like to think so.  I’m a woman of science, so I can’t be positive they exist, but I sure feel like I have one.

7. Is there life after death?

I never used to think so.  Then I spent the night sitting with my Dad, hearing him talk to people who weren’t there.  Like the veil was being pulled away.  So now, I’m not so sure.

8. Do you think there will ever be a third world war?

I pray not.  It will be the end of us, I think.

9. What smell brings back great memories?

Gardenias.  Shrimp boil.  Magnolias.  Takes me right back to my childhood in Mississippi.

10. How would you like to be remembered?

As a good person who did the best she could.

11. What kind of music are you into?

American roots, Bluegrass, Southern Rock, Classic Rock, Blues

12. What is the biggest surprise of your life?

When my Mom said “I’m ready to move to New Mexico”.  The happiest surprise too.

13. If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Green chile cheesburgers from Laguna Burger.

14. Where is the most awe inspiring place you have been?

Arches National Park in Utah. 

15. Describe your life in six words

What. The. Actual. FUCK. Is. THIS shit.  Oops.  That's seven.  

Saturday, December 5, 2020

Saturday 9 -- The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)

Saturday 9: The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy) 1966

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

1) The bridge that inspired this song is The Queensboro Bridge in New York City. Are you near a bridge right now as you answer these 9 questions?

Image Credit

Well, sorta.  I live in a smallish city on the northwest side of the Albuquerque Metro area.  Albuquerque is on both sides of the Rio Grande river, and in order to get lots of places, you have to cross a bridge. Which can be a pain, because there are a limited amount of them.  Those are always the most crowded roads in the morning and afternoon (the ones that cross the river).  Good thing I’m working from home now.  I hated that commute.  This is one of my favorite bridges….it’s the Montano  crossing. 

2) Paul Simon says he "loathes" this song and only performs it because fans want to hear it. What's your favorite Paul Simon song?

Pretty much everything on Graceland—it’s one of my favorite albums, period.  If I had to pick, I’d say Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes.  This clip is from his concert in Hyde Park.

3) "Groovy" is such a 1960s word. What common word/phrase from 2020 do you predict will sound just as silly and quaint some day?

I pray that it will be “the rona” or “mask up”.  

4) Paul is a lifelong Yankees fan and was thrilled to meet his all-time idol, Joe DiMaggio. Mr. DiMaggio was, at first, less than thrilled to meet Paul because he thought the song "Mrs. Robinson" made fun of him. Once Simon convinced him it was an homage, the men got along fine. Do you have a celebrity encounter to tell us about?

I’ve never met a celebrity.

5) Art Garfunkel was the other half of Simon and Garfunkel. Art and Paul met in sixth grade, when were both in a school production of Alice in Wonderland. Tell us about one of your school theatrical appearances.

I hated drama, and being on stage.  I’m sure I was in some play at some time, but I don’t remember it.

6) "Artie" used to love needling Paul about his height -- or lack thereof. He maintained he was trying to be funny, but Paul thought is was mean and says the constant digs hurt. Is there anyone in your life who similarly enjoys teasing?

My late Father was a bully.  That’s what teasing is—just another kind of bullying.  He loved to needle me about my politics (I’m a liberal, he was a died in the wool Trumper), the way I spoke (too loud he said, which was the pot surely calling the kettle black), and my weight (coming from a man who was overweight all his life).  It hurt.  A lot.  

Until I figured out that I could just stop playing his silly games.  That was the most freeing experience, and it allowed me to learn who he was and how he got that way—I just stopped engaging, and it took the wind right out of his sails.  Mind you, I endured 54 years of this before I figured it out. 

Just after Trump was elected, I went home to visit.  I went into the room I always used, and he had very carefully laid out a MAGA hat and T-shirt on my bed.  I picked them up, went and found him, and very calmly told him that I wasn’t putting up with this shit anymore and that politics was off the table for my visit.  I told him if he couldn’t deal with that, he could carry my ass right back to the airport.  He apologized and we had a lovely visit.  I won’t say he didn’t try to poke at me, but everytime, I just got up and walked away.

Wish I had figured that out a lot earlier in my life. 

7) Paul told NPR that his impulse to write new music has always come "in bursts." He'll go years without composing, and then he'll write every day for months. Do you often feel creative?


8) In 1966, when this song was popular, First Daughter Luci Johnson married Patrick Nugent. Their reception was held at the East Room of the White House. The couple had an 8 ft. tall wedding cake and when the bride threw her bouquet, it was caught by her sister, Lynda. Sure enough, Lynda married a year later. Tell us about a wedding you attended (or your own).

We got married at the county courthouse on a rainy February day and went to Universal in Orlando for the weekend.  We stayed in a crappy hotel, because the nice one we wanted to stay in was completely booked.  We had unwittingly chosen the weekend of the Daytona 500 to get married.  For years after we would put off our anniversary night out, because you literally couldn’t get a table anywhere.  We don’t have that problem now that we’ve left that part of Florida, yay!!

9) Random question: Which do you regret more -- the times you were cautious or the times your were reckless?

Definitely reckless.