Saturday, December 14, 2019

My favorite Christmas card

My 6 year old friend Little P. made me a Christmas card yesterday afternoon, and it's my favorite, hands down.

His momma laughed and laughed at the fact that he made Santa black like him. :) I think it's awesome!

I just love that kid.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

So busy....

I'd like to apologize to you, my blogger friends, for not being around much or commenting very often lately. I've been busy giving the house a thorough, top to bottom cleaning, as well as decorating and shopping for the upcoming holidays. Here are a few photos.

My book club Christmas party is only a week and a half away, so I'm also finalizing the menu for that. I'm excited to host for the first time, but I'll also be glad when it's all over. I'm nervous about having a dozen guests at once. That's a first for me.

How are your holiday plans shaping up? Are you excited, or dreading it all, or somewhere in between (like me)?

Having a nice glass of wine at the end of a busy Sunday.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Thank you, karma!

Remember the crazy old man who lives behind us and harassed us endlessly whenever one of our dogs barked? He started banging on our door and acting out the first weekend we lived in this house, and he kept up the harassment until Gregg finally had to threaten him with the police to get him to leave us alone. If we so much as got in the shower and left the dogs outside to do their business, and George barked at the back door to be let back in, the crazy man would be banging on our front door demanding we stop him barking before we had even dried off and put on our clothes! That's a true story. The man might be a bit demented, or maybe he's just an asshole. Either way, once Gregg got in his face and threatened him with legal action for trespassing and harassment, he backed off and left us alone. I'm sure he still hates it when Ginger and George go outside and bark, though.

Over Thanksgiving the new owner of the house next door moved in. Since we're eager to be on good terms with the rest of our neighbors, we made them up a little care package with a note that said, "Welcome to the neighborhood! From, the Barlows: Gregg, Jennifer, Ginger (black dog) and George (tan dog)." For the people I got two dozen assorted cookies from a local bakery. For the dogs (we knew there were dogs because I'd glimpsed a couple of small ones on leashes during the move-in) Gregg had brought home fancy treats from the pet store where he works. No one was home when I walked over to deliver the gifts, so I left them at the front door.

Today Gregg finally met our new neighbor! She's a single, middle aged woman with....wait for it......


Not only does she have five dogs, but she also fosters rescue dogs. So there should also be a steady stream of temporary dogs living there, too!

Take that, jerk!!! Hahahahahahahahahaha!

You have no idea how this information made my day!

Tuesday, December 3, 2019


My life feels awfully small sometimes, but even so, it's a comfortable, cozy kind of life.

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Sweet Ginger stayed close by while we put up the Christmas tree Sunday night.

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The Christmas tree this year. It makes me so happy.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Thanksgiving 2019

Yesterday was quiet and calm, with gorgeous fall weather and near-perfect temperatures. It's been one of the nicest Thanksgivings I can remember.

We had lots of good food.  I worked on it at a relaxed pace throughout the day, cleaning up after myself as I went. It barely felt like work. I even took a nap while the turkey roasted.

The dogs got plenty of warm roast turkey with their supper, and we all went for a good walk after eating.

There's a ton of leftovers. I had a turkey sandwich for breakfast and we'll be eating the same exact meal as last night for dinner tonight. My homemade cornbread dressing was SO GOOD. Grandma would have been proud of me.

Today should be nice. The doctors' offices where Gregg is due to go service aquariums today are closed for the holiday so he gets a second day a row, no less! That's highly unusual for him and I'm glad he has some free time to spend at home for once.

Enjoy the day, my friends!

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

First day of fall break

I woke up at 6:45am this morning with pink light streaming in my bedroom window. The sky looked so pretty that I immediately got out of bed and snapped a photo from the front porch.

It's good to be on fall break, finally. Thanksgiving falls really late this year. Once we go back to school on Monday there's just three weeks left until Christmas break will be upon us.

Today has been nice. I drank several cups of coffee on the porch first thing and watched the progress next door. The house beside us that's been for sale for some months now has finally been sold and the new owners are moving in. I saw a (probably) young woman out back with two dogs on leashes, but I haven't been able to get a real sense of what these new neighbors are like yet. I went out to do some shopping today and picked up a box of assorted cookies from one of the local bakeries, and Gregg brought home a package of dog treats from the pet store. I plan to take them over tomorrow as a little "welcome to the neighborhood" gift. I do hope they're decent people; we're doing what we can to get off on the right foot with them. The jerk behind us is plenty as far as bad neighbors go! Wish us luck.

While I was out today I stopped at a garden center/gift shop to have a look at their year-round Christmas items for sale. Nothing I saw inside was of much interest to me but I enjoyed walking around the outside and looking at the plants for sale.

We still have a lot of color left in the trees around here, as you can see.

Oh! And Gregg's birthday picture is framed and hanging on our wall. I picked it up last night on my way home from work:

Tonight he's working late like he usually does on Wednesdays, but once he gets home it will offically be a holiday! I'm having wine while beginning to prep some of the food for tomorrow's meal. We'll be having roast turkey, gravy, cornbread dressing, cranberry mandarin orange walnut salad (the recipe I invented years ago), deviled eggs (I cheated and bought the pre-boiled eggs for convenience sake!) and canned corn and green beans. For dessert I'll be making some sort of apple dessert from scratch, most likely a crisp. Tonight I'll salt and season the turkey, make the cranberry salad, and bake a batch of cornbread for the dressing so that tomorrow our meal will be fairly easy to pull together. With a 16 pound bird we'll probably be eating turkey until Christmas....I'll have to be creative with leftovers!

And tonight makes 12 years that we've had our sweet girl, our Gingerbread. She showed up on our back porch the night before Thanksgiving in 2007.

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Puppy Ginger....Thanksgiving Day 2007.
 My sweet girl!

Happy Thanksgiving to all my blog friends here in the USA! I hope you all are surrounded by good food, good company, and lots of love tomorrow.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Busy Sunday

It's Sunday night again. Today was pretty standard: household chores, laundry, shopping. I tried to do a little extra this weekend because it's almost a holiday! My upcoming work week is only two days long and I want to go into it with a (mostly) clean house.

Thanksgiving is going to be a double anniversary in this house. First, Ginger showed up on our back porch the night before Thanksgiving 12 years ago. That's the anniversary of her adopting us! Then last year we moved into the new house on Thanksgiving was the first night we spent here. So Thanksgiving is a double homecoming in this family!

I bought the smallest whole turkey I could find at Food Lion. It's just over 16 pounds, which is a lot for two people, but the dogs will get their share. Plus, I can make turkey pot pie and turkey noodle soup with leftovers. Gregg's favorite way to eat it is in sandwiches. I prefer it in slices, served over cornbread dressing with a generous pool of gravy on top and a dollop of homemade cranberry sauce on the side. I'm planning to attempt cornbread dressing the way I remember my grandma making it. If it turns out well I'll share the recipe here.

(And yes, where I come from we call it "dressing" and not "stuffing". We bake it in a pan rather than stuffing it in the bird. It's my favorite Thanksgiving recipe).

I made a list of everything I'll be serving at the Christmas book club party and, in an effort to be frugal, started shopping the Thanksgiving sales for non perishable food items. So now I have a jump start on that, too. I've been busy this weekend.

Speaking of being busy, I always think about Ms. Moon cleaning her house and it smelling like "Fabuloso and vinegar" when she's done. I've wondered what that smells like, and then yesterday at the grocery store I found this:

Yay! I was looking for something to mop the kitchen with so I bought it. So now MY house smells of Fabuloso (without the vinegar)!  :)  I didn't realize until I mixed it with water that it's lavender scented. I don't care much for the scent of lavender and I doubt that's the kind Mary uses. Oh well. It smells okay.

I'm off to start our dinner (pork chops) and dessert (apple crisp). Have a good evening or morning, my friends!

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Ready for a break

Thanksgiving break can't get here fast enough. We haven't had an extra day off from school since Labor Day and everyone's nerves seem to be frazzled. Even the kids.

My friend little P. woke up on Monday morning thinking that this was the week we get out for the holiday. His mama told him no, there's a full week of school left before that. She reports that at first he got mad, and she had to pull out a calendar to show him he was wrong...…..and then when he saw it was true he was so disappointed he cried. Poor little guy.

I know just how he feels.

The days start to drag right before a break. The discipline referrals have spiked sharply since last week, and there seem to be multiple tearful trips to the guidance counselors' offices by students each day. This morning, two 12 year old girls got in such a vicious fight that it took the principal, one of the assistant principals, the security guard, and a teacher to break it  up, and even when they dragged them apart the girls were still throwing punches and cursing. The teacher got hit in the head, and the assistant principal told me later, "If I'm going to break up fights like that, I need to start going to the gym again! I nearly got kicked in the head!" Later on another two girls got in a fight at lunch. Right now I'm averaging about 15-20 discipline referrals a day which is crazy high.

I don't know if it's the colder weather, or the approaching holidays, or what, but I've noticed a lot of acting out among our poorer kids these days. A handful of them are in foster care (getting shuffled around constantly) or living in residential group homes, and a sizeable percentage of our students get regular welfare checks by DSS caseworkers, which means they've lived with abuse or neglect. It's no wonder that some of them act out so much, but it seems to always get worse as any break approaches. I imagine lots of these kids aren't looking forward to the break (if their home situations are bad) but it should cool things down some.

We'll be staying home for Thanksgiving. We talked a little about the possibility of going camping, but neither of us got too excited at the idea. Since I'll be hosting my book club's Christmas party just over two weeks later I plan to put up the Christmas tree and decorate the house that weekend. One less thing to worry about as I prepare for the party, you know? My mom invited us to eat Thanksgiving dinner with her and my dad, but my cousin and her husband will be there and I don't like them very much. I feel guilty about that, because my parents have become very close to this branch of the family in the last decade or so, but I just can't stand anything other than the very minimum of contact with them. My mom knows this. We keep up the polite fiction that I'm always "busy" when they invite us to do things that include my cousins.....which these days, means pretty much all holidays and special occasions. My parents make plans with them first and then invite us as an afterthought. Which is why I don't feel but so guilty turning them down. I'll cook something Gregg and I will enjoy and we'll simply spend the day at home together, stress free. That's something to be thankful for!

And the 5 day break from school is going to be wonderful!