Our house is all decked out for the holidays. It looks so beautiful. I have to thank Crystal who came home early for Thanksgiving for and really spear-headed the decorating this year.
My main job was putting the lights on the big tree in the conservatory. It is a pre-lit tree, but none of the pre-lit lights work anymore. Did you know you can only string three strands of 150 lights together before they blow a fuse? I know that now. Did you know that all 'clear' twinkle lights are not the same color? I also know that now. It only took me 4 hours to put the lights on this tree! Amanda and Crystal finished up with the decorations and ribbons.
Now it's time to start thinking about the shopping!
Amanda and I spent this morning at the hospital, where she had foot surgery for the third and, hopefully, final time! She had still been experiencing pain in her foot, but it wasn't completely unbearable. We decided to see an orthopedic surgeon this time, as the podiatrist had just recommended inserts for her inserts. The new doctor said the bone had not completely fused together and recommended a bone graft from her ankle. This meant 8 weeks off her foot! She was at first resistant, but we thought it would be better to get it done than spend the next 60 years wondering why she didn't get it done when she had the opportunity.
She won't be able to work for a while, but the bright side, is this gives her a little extra time to finish up her graduate school applications!
We had family band on Friday and Saturday mornings. We had a good time working out new arrangements and hammering out some of the difficult parts.
This is my favorite part of band, seeing who will sing and who will play what. I also like seeing how we'll start and end a song. The band really has some great ideas. So do I, but most of the time they veto my ideas! (Some of which, in retrospect might not have been stellar.)
In the evening we went to the National Zoo to see the lights. It was cold out, so we really bundled up!
We got to ride the animals at the zoo--on a carousel, which played 'Put On Your Old Gray Bonnet' and' Ma, He's Making Eyes at Me,' as well as "The Happy Farmer!"
We even got some kettle corn Our dieting has NOT gone well during the Thanksgiving holiday!
We had such a fun time with Brittany and John that we hated to take them back to the airport this morning so they could resume their real life! We look forward to the end of December when they come back.
We can't wait to play a few more hands of "Call for a Partner Rook" with them!
We have so much to be thankful for, number one of which is that our entire family was able to be here to celebrate Thanksgiving together! I had so much help in the kitchen that about the only thing I ended up doing was making bread in the morning!
Crystal was a lot of help in the kitchen, and made a pecan pie from scratch! In addition, she and Amanda helped me put up all the Christmas decorations this week!
Ed cooked the turkey in the BBQ again this year. We couldn't have had nicer weather for outdoor cooking--about 57 degrees outside.
Brittany and John flew out from Utah just in time for the fun and food! It was such a beautiful day that we ate our dessert outside on the deck!
Then, to try to work off some of the calories we spent the afternoon trying to get a good picture for this year's Christmas album. There were certain challenges in getting us all to jump at the same time with the camera on a tripod. Some of us (I'm not naming any names) were sore the next day!
So, I was complaining to Ed about a painful blister in my neck this afternoon. He took a look at it and said, "That's no blister. It's a tick!" That made me scream, "Take it out, take it out!" He said, "Where's Coda's little tick remover tool?"
So, with the help of the green plastic tick remover, he coaxed it out of my neck. You can see the little bugger on the tweezers, below, complete with all its little appendages!
So, once again, Ed has saved my life! You can see the hole in my neck the tick left behind. Strangely, if you look at my picture in yesterday's post, you can see the little hitchhiker also went out to dinner with us last night! I wish we had noticed earlier!
Ed and I celebrated our 31st wedding anniversary last night at the Outback Restaurant. Our anniversary isn't till Wednesday, but with Thanksgiving next week, Friday was our best opportunity.
And what better way to celebrate than taking Crystal and Amanda with us! It was nice having Amanda, as we got her employee discount. So, we went all out by ordering the Bloomin' Onion AND the Coconut Shrimp for starters! The filet steaks went down like butter. Somehow we even found room for the Chocolate Thunder from Down Under for dessert! When you let us off our diet for a day, we really take advantage of it!
Coda was so glad Crystal came home. Crystal loves that dog so much that she immediately got to work and crocheted her a little hat in Ravens colors. As you can see, Coda really likes it! She has left it on for up to 2 minutes before pawing it off! We think she looks cute.
Crystal joined Suzanne and I and the dogs for a walk this afternoon. We did about a 4 mile trip through the woods. This time our walk was extended a little because Coda wandered off in pursuit of a couple of deer. Harper tried to persuade her to come back, but finally gave up on her and came back alone. About 10 minutes later Coda came loping out of the woods with a happy smile on her face. We were not so happy. Harper took a little dip in the water, but Coda, as usual, would have nothing to do with that!
Despite Coda's independent ways, Crystal still loves her. She made her some special dog treats from a Martha Stewart recipe tonight. You can find the recipe at: http://www.marthastewart.com/264802/homemade-dog-biscuits. Coda liked them very much and said she was sorry and promised she would never run off alone into the woods again.
Amanda and Crystal won the family diet challenge for October (in a tie), so I treated them both to a pedicure today. We brought Miss Carol along, as well, for her first pedicure ever! I love Tammy nails, as they have enough room for all four of us at once! We all got some sparkly polish for the holidays. We all felt so festive till we had to put our shoes on again!
Last night we had a small group of the Relief Society Sisters over for a demonstration on how to make meals in 30 minutes. Colette was nice enough to cook us a ham and cheese casserole and give us a lot of good suggestions. My favorite one was to buy orange sauce in the Chinese section of the grocery store and put it on chicken and veggies. She apologized for not having much time to put her demonstration together, but she had put together a website with some recipes for us. It is http://fastandfuriousmeals.blogspot.com/. I thought 19 recipes posted on a brand new website was quite a bit of work for a few days notice!
P.S. Notice who I picked up at the airport yesterday afternoon--Crystal! Yea! Crystal is home for two weeks!
About 6 months ago I got rid of the last pair of 'skinnier' jeans in my closet. I said, "Who are you kidding? You'll never fit into those again!" But, after 2 months of dieting I had to go to the store and buy a smaller pair of jeans! I don't want this to be a diet blog, because then it will also be about getting fatter if I stop dieting, but it's been so much fun to notice small changes as I diet. We've been doing a family diet, which has been very motivating. Doing it together has kept us on target.
While Ed and I have both lost 15-18 pounds, I have been more enthusiastic about it. I love looking better and feeling better. Ed doesn't mind being thinner, but he misses the 'old days' where we used to eat everything in sight whenever we felt like it. He's afraid those days are gone forever. I'm afraid they might not be!
Tuesday was my last day to take care of the horses. Lenny is recovered from his surgery and back on the job. And just in time, I might add! Look at the frost on the ground! Bamby looks like she wants to say, "It's bad enough that there is only an inch of grass out there, now you have to cover it with a layer of ice!"
Mr. Genes waited in the barn while I took our picture together. He had finished his oats and couldn't wait to get out the the hay rack before the other horses ate his share!
Mr. Genes, Coco and Bali were happily munching away as I left. Bamby, the "grande dame" of the farm, enjoys her spot alone on the other side of the rack. That way the hoi polloi (me) is not treated to the privilege of watching her eat.
I took Miss Carol over to the polling place this morning, where we both voted. We're proudly wearing our "I Voted" stickers. Early voting in MD is no picnic. There is only one polling place in the county, which made the lines hours long. We were happy that the line at the school today was short. I guess everyone else voting early helped us out!
Now I have to go home and not turn on the TV. I get too nervous about the outcome. Hopefully, it will all be over tomorrow. The worst outcome could be another month of vote counting like we had in 2000! I hope never to have to live through that again!
Our friends, Cindy and Glen, hosted a house concert Friday night for singer-songwriter, Dave Nachmanhoff. It was a terrific evening. Dave is a terrific guitarist, who travels with Al Stewart. He also writes and records a lot of his own music. His songs tell stories, and his introductions to them were just as entertaining. My favorite song was about the day his house was broken into and they stole all his instruments except the banjo and the accordion. He promises he was not making this up! Thanks to my friend, Kaylene, for remembering a camera and taking my picture!
Friday Suzanne and I took the dogs out walking on the fire trail. Harper hadn't been out for an entire week. Coda had been lucky to get out to the farm twice a day even during the hurricane, so I didn't feel too sorry for her. There were several trees that had fallen down during the storm, right across the trail. Suzanne laughs when I tell her I'm afraid of getting killed by a falling tree. I thought this was just more proof of that danger. She suggested that as long as I don't go hiking during a hurricane the odds are still in my favor!
Notice my nice, bright new vest. I'm also hedging my bets, as hunting season has started, and I don't want any bow hunters mistaking me for a deer!
I went to Amanda's vocal lesson with her today and got to share the couch with her teacher's cat. It was a very friendly cat named Atticus. He's a Snow Leopard Bengal. You have to actually pay money to get a cat with that kind of pedigree. But, if you could be guaranteed it would have such a nice personality it might be worth the cost!