Tuesday, December 30, 2008

On the Cusp of 2009

I'm sitting quietly in the basement this evening, doing some work for Chamber Choir and putting some more music onto my iPod. I now have an iPod dock to take to work, so I want to make sure that I have lots of good stuff to listen to when I go back on the 5th! There will probably be nappage in the near future, as I think I'll be joining WH and his friends after their rehearsal tonight for a little bit of social time, and I need to be all peppy and ready to go.

I remember seeing the following on many blogs last year, so I thought I'd give it a shot. The basic premise is to go back and look at the first sentence posted on the blog in each month of the previous year. I think it tells a neat story!

January: Happy New Year Everybody!
February: Earlier this week, Episcopollyana was kind enough to nominate me for the Excellent Blog Award.
March: WH and I are just back from our big grocery store run of the month.
April: Hey folks ~ Once again, many thanks to all who have posted kind and thoughtful comments about Granddad.
May: I was very lucky to get a chance to witness a very special thing the other day.
June: "It's like goldy and silvery, only made of iron."
July: Reality being laundry, mostly, and work again on Monday...
August: From the Revgals today, a Friday Five about Locks and Blocks!
September: I think that Edmund Burke said that it was the most powerful law in nature?
October: I had a nice birthday. Thank you for all your kind messages!
November: I'm in City with Lots of Roses, and things are going well so far!
December: If I were to identify two services during the year that I love the most and would most regret missing, I would say Palm Sunday and the Advent Lessons and Carols Service.

So there's the year, in a few bloggy statements. It's always interesting to see where my mind was just a few short months ago. I'll probably post more about the past year and the coming year in the days to come, but that will do for now!

Happy New Year All!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas Review

We've had a lovely holiday here at chez The Wee House. Wonderful things to eat and drink, lovely things under the three, lots of games and laughter and fun. And we have spent the last couple of days watching seasons 3 and 4 of The Office, which were a gift to WH. And WH pulled off the surprise of the season and bought me diamond earrings and a diamond pendant. I'm very happy amongst all my sparkles.

I hope that you all had wonderful holidays!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Well, here we are...

... on Christmas Eve. I'm at work for a little more than a half day before heading home to get ready for the church run tonight. I'll assist WH with the music for the early family service - turning pages and whatnot - and get music ready for guest singers at the late service, and then we're all hands on deck at 11pm for the biggie. That baby is comin', and we have some celebrating to do!

I hope that wherever you are, this Christmas is a warm and loving one, with peace and goodwill and turkey (or tofurkey, if that's your thing). That you are close to those you love, either physically or in spirit. That you have a chance to sing. Or be sung to. And if nothing else, you laugh.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Gingerbread House

Our project this evening!

This 'n' That

Other than two performances of Messiah that went really, really well, we didn't do a whole lot this weekend! Let's see...
  • I got a grant application all but finished, which is great... just a couple of little details to finish up.
  • I made Chocolate Crinkles from the Company's Coming Cookies book... so yummy.
  • We went to the Church Choir Christmas Party, which is always a wonderful time, with lots of terrific food and SINGING!
  • We played Cribbage and Sorry.
  • I finished all my Christmas shopping on Saturday morning and came home and got everything wrapped that needed wrapping.
  • We slept in.
And that about covers it! It's so nice to be finished with the choral commitments, and to know that we're both actually going to be home on a weeknight, for once. Hurray!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Friday Five: To Do!

From the Revgals, today, a Friday Five about the last five days before Christmas!

There are only five full days before Christmas Day, and whether you use them for shopping, wrapping, preaching, worshiping, singing or traveling or even wishing the whole darn thing were over last Tuesday, there's a good chance they will be busy ones.

So let's make this easy, if we can: tell us five things you need to accomplish before Christmas Eve.

1. Shopping - I have just a few things left to get... something for The Boy (my nephew), one more thing for WH, and a couple of stocking stuffers for him. Then I'm done!

2. A little bit of house cleaning in preparation for Christmas dinner and a house guest that will be staying with us after Christmas until the New Year.

3. We still have a gingerbread house that we are planning to decorate. I think that will happen this weekend.

4. I have some business things to take care for Chamber Choir, namely, I have a grant application that needs finishing, and another one that needs starting.

5. Sing two concerts of Messiah, starting tonight!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Ugly, Horrible, Nasty Truth

I am in last place in the hockey pool.

Not only am I in last place, but I am THIRTY-SEVEN points behind the guy in second-last place.

My hockey team is a disaster of epic proportions.

I hate the hockey pool.


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Christmas Story

So, one of the things that I bought my husband for Christmas this year is a pair of gloves. And the reason I bought him a pair of gloves is that the only hand-warmers he has are very large heavy-duty mittens, which are great in the cold, but don't afford a lot of flexibility for finicky things like getting your keys into your car, changing the radio station in the car, etc. So I thought (rightly or wrongly... possibly both) that what he needed was a nice pair of thinsulate gloves that he could wear whenever the big mittens were too cumbersome. I wrapped them yesterday and tucked them away with the rest of his Christmas presents.

Cue the following conversation in the car on the way to choir practice last night:

WH: I don't know what's more annoying... wearing these mittens or just having cold hands.
Chorus: Oh yes?
WH: But at least they're not gloves. I HATE GLOVES.
Chorus: What? You hate gloves?
WH: Yes, I HATE GLOVES. I hate having my fingers separated, and I can never find gloves that fit... I HATE GLOVES.
(long awkward silence)
Chorus: Well... I guess I'll just take them back then.
WH: Take what back?
Chorus: The gloves I bought you for Christmas.
WH: Ha ha... wait. Are you serious?
Chorus: Yes.
WH: Oh. ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... I bet I'll like them!

(much hilarity ensues)

Cue the following conversation on the way home from choir practice when we stopped to put gas in WH's car. If you've never pumped gas when it's -25, it's a miserable task.

WH: Boy it's cold out here.
Chorus: Do you have your mittens?
WH: Yes. I sure wish I had gloves though. (sheepish grin)

Monday, December 15, 2008

All We Like Sheep...

...are singing Messiah this week!

Tonight is our last rehearsal with WH, tomorrow night is piano rehearsal with the guest conductor, Wednesday night is orchestra rehearsal, Thursday night is dress rehearsal and then two performances, one each on Friday and Saturday night!

It will be a long week, and I wish that my Christmas shopping was finished, but I do love Messiah, and am grateful for another opportunity to sing it!

Friday, December 12, 2008

A Christmas Meme

I got this Christmas meme from I'm Still Me. Let me know in the comments if you play!

Wrapping paper or gift bags? Both... I use gift bags for presents that have lots of different little things in them, and wrap for bigger things.

2. Real tree or Artificial? Well, you see, that is the question, isn't it? In fact, it's going to be a real tree again this year.

3. When do you put up the tree? When I was growing up, the tree never went up until December 24th, but WH has talked me into an earlier timeline. The tree will go up this weekend, I think.

4. When do you take the tree down? Again, when I was growing up, the tree stayed up for 12 days and then came down on January 5th or 6th. We will probably take the tree down in the first week of January, in plenty of time to vacuum up all the pine needles before we both have to go back to work.

5. Do you like eggnog? I like it in small quantities.

6. Favorite gift received as a child? I know that I got many lovely gifts as a child, but the one that stands out most clearly in my memory is the year that my parents bought me a new 'big girl' bed. Secretly, I think the new bed was a ploy to keep me from climbing into their bed in the middle of the night (I kicked), and... it worked!

7. Hardest person to buy for? I find it difficult to buy for children, because I'm not always comfortable with what toys and games are appropriate for what ages. I rely heavily on the recommended ages!

8. Easiest person to buy for? WH is never too difficult because he's usually pretty good about giving hints about what he wants.

9. Do you have a nativity scene? Not yet... we don't really have room for one in the wee house that wouldn't be tormented by the cats. When we get a bigger house, I'd like to get one of the beautiful Aboriginal nativity scenes from South America.

10. Mail or email Christmas cards? Neither this year... I just ran out of time. But usually Mail.

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? A friend of mine in high school bought me a star fish one year. A real one (dead, though). It would have been neat, except that it smelled atrocious. Like dead fish, appropriately.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? A Christmas Story

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? Usually not until December... sigh.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? I'm sure that I have, but I can't think of a specific example at this point.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? White chocolate brittle with candy cane chunks in it.

16. Lights on the tree? Absolutely! This is WH's job... he's very good at it!

17. Favorite Christmas song? Once in Royal David's City

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? This year we're staying home. We've sort of alternated back and forth between Prairie City and Big City in the East where WH's family lives, but travel at Christmas is tricky because of WH's church responsibilities.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer's? Heavens, no. Well, probably, but only if given time, and a pen and paper.

20. Angel on the tree top or a star? Star. Ours is fibre-optic.

21. Open presents Christmas Eve or morning? We used to open one present on Christmas Eve and then the rest on Christmas Day. Fundamentally, Christmas present opening happens on the 25th

22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? White elephant gift exchanges and atrociously bad pop versions of traditional Christmas carols.

23. Favorite ornament theme or color? WH and I buy each other an ornament every year... the tackier the better!

24. Favorite for Christmas dinner? I like the traditional fare - turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, gravy... you know...

25. What do you want for Christmas this year? Oh, peace and goodwill and all of that excellent stuff. And also an iPod dock.

26. What do you like most about Christmas? I enjoy the undeniable spirit of the season. And also the Church Choir Christmas Party.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Status Update

On Christmas Plans:
  • The decision about the tree has not yet been made, but we're going shopping this afternoon just to look.
  • Plans for family dinner are pretty much secure. We will do appetizers and presents in the afternoon at our place while the turkey roasts, and then we'll march the food across the alley to MB's house to eat it, because he has the bigger dining room table. We have bought the bird; we just need odds and ends of ingredients to finish it off.
  • House cleaning and decorating is on the list for this weekend, as we're having friends over for dinner on Sunday night and would like to have the house all gussied up in time for them.
  • Shopping... aie aie aie. I've got a few things, but I'm nowhere near done. Oh well.
  • The Gingerbread house kit has been purchased but we haven't put it together yet.
In other news, we did actually get our paint touch-ups done last weekend, a project that we've been NOT doing for the better part of two years. Hurray! This is the first on a list of a projects we want to get done around the house before we put the house on the market. We have more painting to do, in the bathroom and the basement, and some new lino that needs to be put down on the stairs and in the bathroom. I think that we will also replace the sink in the bathroom with a slightly bigger model.

And so it goes!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Trader Tuesday: Steamed Artichoke

I'm a bit short of ideas today, so I'll post this treat that WH and I enjoyed last night.

Purchase a whole artichoke. Cut the tips off the outer leaves, and then cut the top off the artichoke. In a pot, place water, a clove of garlic, lemon juice and a bay leaf if you have one. Put the artichoke in a steaming basket and put it in the pot. Boil the water, and then reduce to simmer for anywhere between 20 and 45 minutes. You'll know that the artichoke is done because the leaves will relax a little bit and pull away from the core.

I know of two options for condiments... melted butter or aioli. For the latter, mix a cup of mayonnaise, a minced clove of garlic, salt and pepper and a little bit of lemon juice.

To eat: Pull a leaf off the artichoke. The edible portion is the white bit on the inside bottom of the leaf. Put the leaf in your mouth and drag it through your teeth to free the "meat." (After dipping, of course!) Once you get down into the heart, there are all kinds of edible bits in there, and the bigger mess that you've made, the more successful you've been at enjoying this treat!

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Tannenbaum Quandry

Sounds like the title of the next Bond movie...

Anyhow, both WH and I grew up in homes where real Christmas trees were a staple of the holiday experience. When my brothers and I were very young, our father used to take us out into the bush to cut down our tree. As we got older, and that errand became more difficult to manage, we would get our tree from one of the local tree farm sales lots, or from Big Chain Grocery Store, or from Colourful University's forestry students, or wherever was most convenient. What was important was that the tree was always real. (We did have one year when we took the whole tree thing in an entirely different direction, but that's a story for another day. So is the story of the year that MU and I stole the Christmas tree...)

In the three Christmases that WH and I have spent together, we have put up a real tree, much to the great delight of our cats, and much to the distress of WH's allergies. We would never have considered an artificial tree; it just ran against every idea either of us have of what Christmas should look like in our home.

But a number of things have come to light in the last couple of years:
  • WH's parents, and his sister and brother-in-law, made the switch to artificial.
  • Middle Brother made the switch to artificial.
  • Friends of ours bought an aritifical tree this year that looks FANTASTIC (and very real!) at a really reasonable price.
  • I got more than normally annoyed at how many pine needles I was still finding all over the house in July and August.
So now we are in a quandry in our little wee house. I think that we both still feel emotionally pulled towards the real tree and what it meant for us growing up. And we are both aware of the environmental reasons why real trees are desirable. And having allergies didn't stop us from getting cats...

But you know, I just have this feeling that we're going to make the switch. Maybe, when we're in a bigger house and have children, we'll switch back, and maybe we won't. We'll have to see how this first year goes...

I think that we both know that real or fake isn't actually that important, and didn't actually play as big a role in our childhood Christmas traditions as we think that it did. And we'll inevitably discover that our Christmas is as wonderful and memorable with an artificial tree.

But isn't it funny the things that you hold on to?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

More from Funny Felines

I think this video is hilarious. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Trader Tuesday: Teriyaki Chicken Salad

This is a great meal if you're cooking for that special someone for the first time. It came to me via my friend, S. The recipe is easy, uncomplicated, and totally impressive. Serves 4 as side salads or 2 as full meal.

Pre-heat oven to 350F.

¼ c. Soy sauce
1 tsp. Sugar
½ tsp. Prepared mustard
¼ tsp. Ginger
1/8 tsp. Garlic powder
2 boneless Chicken breasts

Stir first 5 ingredients into a bowl.
Add chicken, turning to coat. Marinate for 20 minutes.
Remove chicken and lay on foil-lined baking tray.
Bake uncovered @ 350F for ~ 30 minutes.
Brush with marinade every 10 minutes, turning once
6)Cool, cut into bite-sized pieces.

Note: I've used this Chicken recipe for other things as well, like stirfry. It makes really nice, moist, teriyaki chicken.

8 oz. (250g) Rotini
1 tbsp. Cooking oil

Bring salted water to a boil.
Cook pasta until tender, but firm. (10-12 minutes)
Drain and rinse with cold water.

2 tbsp. Vinegar
¼ c. Cooking oil
3 tbsp. Sugar
¼ tsp. Garlic powder
1/8 tsp. Pepper

Combine ingredients in a small container (use one with a lid so you can shake to dissolve sugar). Stir well.
Pour over pasta to coat.

Final Touches
½ c. crumbled Feta
1/3 c. sliced pitted Black Olives

2-4 tbsp. chopped Pimiento

Divide pasta among your plates, place chicken on top, and sprinkle with olives, feta and pimiento.

*Note: Pimientos can be purchased by jar at any grocery store.
I didn’t know that the first time I made this recipe, and spent about 45 minutes pulling pimientos one at a time out of a jar of green olives.

Monday, December 1, 2008

A Looooooooooong First Sunday

If I were to identify two services during the year that I love the most and would most regret missing, I would say Palm Sunday and the Advent Lessons and Carols Service. The latter was held yesterday, and it was lovely, but it was sandwiched in the middle of the First Sunday of Advent that WOULD NOT END.

0730: Up, out of bed, into shower, into clothes, into makeup, under hairdryer, etc.

0845: Into Flora (sexy red car) with WH and MB, off to Tim Horton's drive-thru for weekly Sunday breakfast order (Exra large triple triple, large double cream, medium double cream, fruit explosion muffin, banana nut muffin, toasted honey wheat bagel with plain cream cheese)

915: Church Choir Practice for Advent One service

1030: Advent One Service

1200: Quick lunch at WH's desk while he puts finishing touches on Lessons and Carols (L&C) bulletin

1230: Print bulletins. Engage in 1 1/2 hour long fight with photocopier from h*ll. When we had the upper hand on the fight, we folded and stapled. The whole thing took about twice as long as it should have.

1500: Rehearsal for L&C

1600: Sing L&C service, including brief solo-stint as Second Boy. Music includes three carols, the Advent Prose, Mattins Responsory, and four (or five?) hymns.

1700: Look longingly at post L&C potluck supper but dash away to grab quick sandwich from Subway and then head to Big Concert Hall in downtown Prairie City for gig with local military band in support of local branch of Awesome Charity.

1730: Rejoice in discovering that WH has a dressing room for this gig. Trust me, when 60 women from the choir and 25 women from the band are all competing for two washroom stalls at intermission, a husband with his own dressing room (and bathroom) is wonderful.

1735: Watch as WH attempts to register the massive pipe organ at BCH while various members of the band rehearse various pieces of music in various keys and various volumes. Curse self for not bringing Advil.

1830: After arrival of other members of Orchestral Choir, rehearse opening and closing of the program.

1900: Participate in requisite pre-concert reorganization of the choir into more balanced seating arrangement. Remark with fellow alto on similarities between choir reorganization and herding cats.

1920: Without usual member of Orchestral Choir who gets us lined up before concerts, pre-concert lining up takes much longer than usual, and considerable confusion results about how we walk into the BCH. Miraculously, we end up in the right places in the choir loft.

1930: Sing concert, consisting of four traditional Christmas carols, an arrangement of Do You Hear What I Hear (hear Chorus gag), and a song called I'm Dreaming of Home, commissioned a number of years ago to recognize those soldiers who fought at Vimy Ridge and used often now to commemorate those soldiers who are serving overseas and are thinking about home. Dry tears.

1940: Watch member of bass section from Orchestral Choir throw up (in the choir loft).

2020: Intermission. Go use spouse's bathroom (first in line!). Have similar trouble lining up choir. Return to choir loft for second half.

2200: Finish concert

2205: Dash upstairs to post-concert reception, eat three appetizers and a square, shake hands with band leader.

2210: Go home.

2230: Photocopy sections of grant application for Chamber Choir that is due today. Put grant application into envelope and clearly mark with address so that WH can drop it off on Monday (today!).

2300: Attempt to go to sleep.

2300 - 0615: Toss and turn.