Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Holiday Blog Takeover Part Deux - bwahahaha!!!

Testing! Testing! Can you hear me? Can you hear me? There we go! …and, I am taking over the blog once again! This time, I want to cover, dun-dun-dun – Windows Internet Browsers – sorry Mac users; I don’t have any experience with Safari.

You may or may not know this, but there are many internet browsers to choose from. The three most popular commercially available browsers are Internet Explorer (IE) from Microsoft, Firefox from Mozilla, and Chrome from Google.

I am a long-time IE user, so when the new Firefox came out, I thought I would give it a try. It lasted for about a week before I went back to my old IE browser. Firefox has some cool free plug-ins but it was always asking me to update something – the plug-ins, the browser, etc. I did not notice much of a speed difference between IE and Firefox (I know some of you are saying – What? You crazy?). And for what I used it for, I found myself having to go back to use the IE browser because of incompatibilities with certain sites. I know that Mozilla has corrected most of the incompatibilities and it now has an IE plug-in that allows you to view a site as if you were using an IE browser, but when I clicked on it the other day, I was in the middle of surfing when the dreaded popup saying there was a new version available (UGH!!!). I am sure if I decided to install the new version, it would ask me to update my plug-ins. I like the way IE updates the browser behind the scenes.

The Firefox browser navigation was very similar to IE. It had much the same tools and labels. There were some differences, but nothing radical. I would guess that you can doctor up a Firefox browser to look identical to IE browser.

They say that Firefox has a new Javascript engine which speeds it up quite a bit. Most sties on the net use Javascript in one form or another to deliver and manipulate content. When installing Firefox, it allows you to convert your “favorites” from your current IE settings. The only problem with the conversion is that I have my “favorites” in a specific order; the Firefox conversion sorts the addresses in alphabetical order with all folders on top. So, it’s a good browser and would be a good back up browser if IE gets another one of its viruses.

The next browser I wanted to try was Chrome. Chrome was developed by Google. I thought this was a plus because it may be geared more for surfing the web than the other browsers. Google said that Chrome has been in development for 6 years before it released it as a beta. The inside joke about Google is that it only launches betas. It doesn’t convert any of its software to production stable (for those that don’t understand the terminology, you can read up on this common concept here à .). Well, to the astonishment of technologist everywhere, one month after the beta release of Chrome, Google launched a production version (Gasp!). I can go on discussing the logic behind this move, but that would be off topic…and I’ve digressed enough.

So, on with my review of Chrome… I downloaded the beta version and was playing around with it when it first came out. It worked fine. Faster than IE or Firefox, but it was missing the parts that made IE and Firefox so familiar right out of the box! Chrome was missing the toolbars and navigational history that both IE and Firefox displayed. Accessing favorite sites was hard as well! It converted your IE favorites, but accessing it was not the familiar toolbar button on the top middle of the browser window. There was some other differences that just made me feel uncomfortable using Chrome.

Since the release of the production version of Chrome, I downloaded and installed it again; which, this time, it didn’t launch. I spent hours trying to find out why it wouldn’t launch – reconfiguring firewalls, turning off spy-ware detectors, turning off anti-virus, patching registry settings. Finally, I discovered that a piece of software (system mechanic) I installed was preventing it from launching. After uninstalling system mechanic, everything worked fine.

The new Chrome browser was just like the beta version, but it seemed faster. Even though history, favorites, and tools were still hard to access, the address bar seemed downright psychic! I would start typing a site and before I typed out many letters, the site address would appear in the drop-down list (even if I never visited the site before). Other features I am still getting accustomed to, but like are
The “most visited sites list on new browser windows”, and
On opening the browser for the first time, it opens all the tabs you had opened on the prior usage.

I still don’t think that Google Chrome is quite ready for primetime, but it has some great possibilities. I can’t seem to get Mrs. Sister or the Sister-kidlets to even try it. I installed it on my wife and kids computers and all-hell broke out. Even though, my son was making up the “Google Chrome” jingle and singing it all through the house (to the annoyance of his big sister), none of them would even try it. It is truly a sad-day at the Sister-house when I can’t get my family to try new technology!

So, to finish, I am not going to cover the other browsers (…and there are quite a few !!!), but of the three I mentioned, I would still say that IE eeks out as my favorite, followed very closely by Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. I will bet that by next Christmas, We will be using a different browser and IE will eventually fade away like the HD DVD, VHS-VCR, BetaMax VCR, and the 8-track tape.

I now return control back, once again, to Mrs. Sister. I hope everyone enjoyed this voyage into technology. Join me next time when I review Video over the web (is blockbuster in trouble?)!

The Next Best Christmas Gift (If You're a Teenage Girl)

Text messaging. Need I say more?

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Best Christmas Gift

10 year old boys riding things that go 15 mph probably not such a good idea. Unfortunately, Santa didn't get the memo. That is why our dear son had an extraordinary Christmas this year.

14 Years Ago

14 not so very long years ago a new life was brought into this world. What a precious baby she was. So beautiful and so sweet. Our lives were changed for the better with her birth. What did we do for her on her special day? Embarrass the heck out of her, of course!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

One of my Signature Dishes

(Okay, not technically truly Greek but we love the flavor of this sauce!)


1 cup plain yogurt
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon white vinegar
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded and finely chopped
1 large green onion (or 2-3 small) finely chopped
1-3 minced garlic cloves (according to taste)
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano (or 1/2-1 tsp. dried)
1/4-1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
Salt and pepper to taste


Stir together the yogurt, sour cream, vinegar, lemon juice, cucumber, green onion, garlic, feta cheese, oregano, lemon zest, salt, and pepper in a bowl .Cover and chill before serving to allow flavors to meld (4-8 hours) Serve with grilled chicken or lamb (marinated in olive oil, lemon juice, fresh oregano and rosemary, salt and pepper), pita bread or fresh veggies. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Glory to God in the Highest!

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria. So all went to be enrolled, each to his own town. And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. While they were there,the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields and keeping the night watch over their flock. The angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were struck with great fear. The angel said to them,“Do not be afraid;for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Christ and Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel,praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

Luke 2:1-14

The Nativity by Duccio di Buon Insegna, 1308-11

National Gallery, Washington

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Good St. Joseph

Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit. Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly. Such was his intention when, behold,the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfillwhat the Lord had said through the prophet: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means “God is with us.” When Joseph awoke,he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home. He had no relations with her until she bore a son, and he named him Jesus.

Matthew 1:18-25

St. Joseph and the Christ Child

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Mom Talks About Angel and Miracle

When I received this story, in an email from work, I knew I had my blog entry for today. Enjoy and feel free to leave your comments.

Written by Sarah Batista

CHARLOTTE,NC (WBTV) - An image caught on a security camera at Presbyterian Hospital has everyone talking.

It was taken by the mother of a 14-year-old patient who wasn't expected to survive. She says the image is an angel who brought a miracle into her family.

Chelsea Banton was born 5 weeks premature and has endured chronic health problems her entire life. But this past September, a battle with pneumonia almost ended her life. Doctors at Presbyterian Hospital gave her mom, Colleen, devastating news.

"He said we've done all we can do," said Colleen Banton.

So Colleen made the heart-breaking decision to take her daughter of off life support. An hour later, something caught the hospital staff's attention.

"I was in the waiting room, my sister was inside and she says, you have to come and look," said Banton.

What she wanted her to see was a image on the security camera near Chelsea's hospital room. It shows a bright light in the shape of an angel just outside of the doorway.

"I said oh wow, that's an angel and the nurse practitioner she's standing there and she said I've been working here for 15 years and I've never seen anything like this," said Banton.

While doctors and nurses crowded around the monitor, something else was happening--Chelsea was getting better. "About an hour later, we took the mask off and her stats were higher then they'd ever been, doctors and nurses were amazed," said Banton.

Three months after she arrived at the hospital, Chelsea got to go home. She'll live to see her 15th birthday on Christmas day and Colleen has no doubt what she saw on that monitor saved her daughter's life.

"I've never seen anything so bright, so beautiful," said Banton. "I don't think I would have brought Chelsea home from the hospital if the angel had not appeared."

To see more about "The Angel" click here

Monday, December 22, 2008

Free at Last! Now Time for Reflection

I am now free to take back my blog! Did you all enjoy Mr. Sister's post? He took his mission very seriously, I see.

On another note, I am feeling some "breathing room" now. We are on break from our home school duties and responsibilities, there is one last choir performance, just a gift or two left to wrap and a dinner to plan. Easy. I can now focus on the true meaning of Christmas.

With that said, this week's focus will be on the biblical teachings about the birth of Jesus. Today's scripture is from Luke 1:26-38...The Annunciation.

In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the House of David, and the virgin's name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, "Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you." But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end." But Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?" And the angel said to her in reply, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God." Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word." Then the angel departed from her.

Image courtesy of St. Peter Canisius Apostolate at

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Holiday Blog Takeover - bwahaha!!!

5thsister is tied up (insert evil laugh here) and cannot post today. This is Mr. Sister and I will be your holiday substitute blogger today. Since I don't know anything about cooking, I will continue on with 5thsister's holiday serenades.

But, first, let me blog about one of the electronic items I've been testing this year.... I usually don't buy infomercial items and I actually purchased this before they came out with a bunch of infomercials. I bought a Magic Jack. You ask what a Magic Jack is? This is a dongle that you plug into a USB jack and allows you to make and receive phone calls (with a standard phone) anywhere you have high-speed internet. To test this, I asked a friend who was going over to India, to bring this with him so that he can make calls to his family without paying exorbitant long distance rates. He tried using the company's WAN, but the firewalls blocked that port. So, when he was in the hotel at night, he tried and was able to communicate affectively with his love ones in the US.

There are a number of reasons why I like the Magic Jack..

  1. The price --- $39.95 for the first YEAR (Not Month) and $20 for each additional year!

  2. You get a local telephone number. Meaning people can call you and you can be anywhere in the world!

  3. You use an ordinary telephone to plug into the dongle! No special headsets such as with Skype (which is also quite cool!).

  4. It comes with call forwarding, three-way calling, and voicemail. How great is that!

Now, before you say, "I'm going to buy one and replace my home telephone!", there are a few things to take into account...

  1. You can only call to US and Canadian numbers for free from anywhere in the world. International calling (that is calling a number in another country) is an extra charge

  2. The call quality is just as good as your internet connection. If you have a constant 4-5 mb/s rate for your internet connection or better (which I'm jealous!!!), then this should be ok, but sound quality goes down from any traffic that the packets hit.

  3. You get a lot of places to choose from for your local number, but they may not have a local number available in your area. My first number was based in Cleveland Ohio because they didn't have a local number for where we live (we don't live in Ohio). But, later they acquired local numbers and you are allowed to switch numbers once for free.

  4. You have to keep the computer on and connected to the internet in order to talk and receive calls. This could be a pain if you lose internet connection; you've lost the use of the Magic Jack.

So, with all that information, it is a fun and somewhat useful toy. Hope it was useful to you!

Hopefully, in future episodes, I can take over the blog again and give some nice technology advice. Afterall, nothing says Christmas like Consumer Electronics!!!

And now, back to the task that my wife put me up to.... Here is our daughter doing a selection from Wicked...

I now release...err... return control of the 5thsister blog back to Mrs. Sister. If you liked my rantings above, please comment and maybe I can arrange to come back.

Merry Christmas

Mr. Sister.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

For Your Listening Pleasure - Part 3

My dear son would like to now serenade you with his "rocking" version of Jingle Bell Rock. Rock on little dude!

Friday, December 19, 2008

For Your Listening Pleasure - Part 2

Today you will be treated to a piano version of Oh Holy Night, as interpreted by my daughter. Someone please get this girl a hair clip!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

For Your Listening Pleasure-Part 1

I must earn my keep over the next several days. Therefore I will use this opportunity to update this blog with music videos, 5th Sister style. Hopefully, I will have a different one, each day, until my return next week. I will begin with my very favorite Claymation Christmas song: We Three Kings. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Another Deck Update

I was hoping for a sunny day to photograph the progress of our deck. No such luck. I will share the updated photos taken on this foggy, sunless day.

1st, I'd like to show you the view from the porch. We will wait to put on the screening until after we stain the wood. This will probably occur sometime in March when the weather improves. That is also when we'll install our ceiling fans and lay the outdoor carpeting.

Let's look up, shall we. This is what my pergola, looks like. This will be one of my favorite features.

Finally, here's the almost finished project. Unfortunately, it rained all last week that I now have a mud moat surrounding the deck. I am not looking forward to the clean up process. That will have to wait until after the holidays.

My next project will be to update the paint in my kitchen. But that's for another blog entry.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

What I Did This Past Weekend

I don't bake. Don't get me wrong...I LOVE to cook. It's just that my talents don't cover the realm of pastries, pies, cakes and cookies. With that in mind I decided to test out some snowflake cookie cutters I purchased last year for next to nothing during the after Christmas sales. 1st I had to decide upon a recipe. I am a frequent purveyor of and came upon The Best Rolled Sugar Cookie recipe. It has an average 4.5 out of 5 star rating with almost 2000 reviews. So I plunged in. Took me an hour to get everything mixed on Friday afternoon and into the fridge the dough went to chill.

Since I am off so very few weekends I had to figure out when I'd have the time to roll out and bake these cookies. I decided Saturday morning was best. I started working the dough and cutting cookies at 9:00a.m. 3 and 1/2 hours later I'm still at it. These snowflakes were driving me nuts. The small ones kept tearing and the large ones were obviously time consuming. The dough wasn't very cooperative either. Finally I just rolled a few and put them in the oven while I rolled a few more. They expanded a touch during the baking process so some of my intricate designs were no longer that intricate. Oh well, at least this part was over.

Christmas shopping, a choir concert and a sleepover took up the rest of the day. Mass, packaging gifts, more Christmas shopping and a Carolina Panther game was on the agenda for Sunday. Sunday evening around 8:00p.m. was the only time slot available to ice these snowflakes.

Icing the cookies was another battle. I, again, went to trusted Allrecipes and found one that I had all the ingredients for called Butter Icing for Cookies. It included confectioner's sugar, butter, cream and vanilla. Simple, right? After following directions EXACTLY what I had was a mess. The icing hardened up really quickly, wouldn't spread.I even tried "piping" the icing but again, just a crumbly mess. HELP! I went back to Allrecipes and posted my plea on the Recipe Exchange board. Within minutes I had many suggestions: some suggested adding a little more cream while others instructed me to keep the icing over low heat and to stir continuously between cookies. I still had rotten luck. I ended up adding a LOT more cream and using the icing as a "glaze" into which I dipped the cookies. When the icing ran low, I drizzled the rest over the remaining snowflakes. I was finally finished 3 hours after I began.

The snowflake cookies actually turned out quite pretty and tasted yummy. Would I do this again? NO WAY! I do not have the patience for this type of cookie baking. If you all have a simple cookie recipe to send my way I'm game! Feel free to share in my comments section.

I'm off to deal with more deck issues. An update will be given sometime this week, I promise!

Friday, December 12, 2008

This Just In...


ACLU Announces Lawsuit against Santa Claus
by David Bibb

CHICAGO - The American Civil Liberties Union announced today that it was bringing a lawsuit against Santa Claus for violations of the civil rights of children. An ACLU spokesman, Mr. E. Scrooge stated that, "Mr. Claus has been violating children's right to privacy and has been putting that information in a vast database. The information is then used by the law enforcement arm of Mr. Claus organization to determine which children are considered naughty or nice. It is obvious Mr. Clause has violated the children's rights, as we have alleged in our suit, because of the memos and other company information we have obtained. In addition, we believe Mr. Claus has been engaging in mind control experiments designed to prevent the free expression of beliefs."

Among the documents presented to the courts today was a memo in which reads, in part:

You better watch out.
You better not cry.
You better not pout.
I'm telling you why.
Santa Claus is coming to town.
He sees you when you are sleeping
He knows when you're awake,
He knows when you've been bad or good
So be good for goodness' sake.

Mr. Scrooge claimed the document, was obtained from one of the workers in the distribution department of Mr. Claus' organization, "...clearly shows a concerted attempt to restrict the rights of children to free expression and free thought. In addition, there are concerns about the security of the information. What would be the result of such a database being made available to other law enforcement agencies around the world?"

Lawyers at the Justice also confirmed today that they were investigating the possibility that Mr. Claus was at the core of a vast conspiracy against children. Anonymous sources from inside the Justice Department stated that, "We believe a large number of parent, ministers and teachers are involved in this business and we expect several of them will testify for the State in return for a lighter sentence." In addition, the same sources indicated a parallel investigation by the Department and the FBI on possible charges of smuggling on the part of Mr. Claus, "our records do not show Mr. Claus, or any one else paying any import duties or taxes on any items he has delivered. Since Mr. Claus has representatives in all of the States of the Union we believe he should have to pay state and local taxes on all of the goods he delivers."

Lawyers for Mr. Claus stated, "The charges of the ACLU are absurd. Mr. Claus is a well known and highly respected figure. His supporters are from around the world and his message of love and respect can, in no way, be taken as a form of "mind control" or a violation of the civil rights of children."

The lawsuit is complicated by the fact that Mr. Claus is not a resident of the United States or any country which the United States currently has an extradition treaty. It is unknown where Mr. Claus is at the moment, but it is believed he is hiding out at his North Pole estate.

In a brief statement, read by his lawyer, Mr. Claus said, "I find the charges of the ACLU absurd and am confident they will be rejected by the courts. As for any criminal charges, I believe the Justice Department will discover they have no basis."

Experts are uncertain what possible effect the suit or possible pending charges might have on Mr. Claus' Christmas travels this year.

(The preceding information was unscrupulously lifted from an email currently making the rounds. Original source is unknown at this time)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

I've Been Tagged!

Pam, from tagged me! I guess that means I'm "it"!

With many apologies to Pam I most likely will not tag anyone else, but the idea is intriguing. I've racked my brain trying to come up with 7 things most people, currently in my life, do not know about me. it's actuallly a hard question. I came up with the following list (I'll get the shocker out of the way 1st):

  1. I used to smoke until I became wise and broke free from the bondage to nicotine. I quit that nasty, stinking, filthy habit many, many years ago. And this, coming from a Respiratory Therapist!
  2. I was in a beauty pageant when I was 17 years old.
  3. My secret "super-hero" power is my sense of smell.
  4. When I was a child I wanted to be a marine biologist, or an artist, when I grew up
  5. I've always wanted to travel to Greece.
  6. I am a convert to Catholicism
  7. My secret fantasy is to be able to belt out a song, in tune, without embarrassing those near and dear to me.

Are any of these the least bit surprising to you

So, what are some of things most people would not know about you? Feel free to leave a comment!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Deck Progress Continues

Saturday. Something's different about this photo. Oh, see the shadows and the light! The sun is out for the 1st time in over a week! The progress on our deck is looking very fine!

End of Tuesday: The roofing is finished and the pergola is about
done. The design is really taking shape. I am very pleased! You see the roof-line? How nice is that?!

Monday Night Madness

Are you ready for some football? A Monday night Party? Sit back and enjoy the sights of the night. Unfortunately, NFL copyright laws prohibit me from showing you any pictures of the actual game (and, believe me, it was a GOOD game!).

The stadium greets us upon our arrival.

Rowr! Be afraid, Bucs, be very afraid!

Awaiting the arrival, to the field, of our beloved Panthers.

First, let the fireworks begin.

Here they come! Go Panthers!

Bummer of a view. Guess we'll be standing most of the game.

Mascot Bowl! Our halftime entertainment. See Sir Purr and Mini-Mew? (Lame, I know, but WE love them!)

The game just wouldn't be the same without our seatmates in attendance. Hi guys!

Are we having fun yet? You bet! It's a tradition for my daughter and I to have "girl's night out" for all the home night games. We enjoy every minute of it!

We won! (Undefeated at home this year) Let the celebration begin!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Pam's Give Away!

My blogging friend, Pam, is holding a contest for her very 1st give away. She knitted a beautiful, long wool scarf with a lovely cable pattern. You can access this contest on her blog, Pam-Fried Family Life, from the blog list on the right hand side of this page or you can directly access her contest post by clicking on the following link: Good luck!

Photo courtesy of Pam-Fried Family Life

The Hat (in Haiku)

Old, tattered and stained.

Trusted running companion.

Together always.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Beginning to Take Shape

Here's where we stand at the end of day 3. Notice the risers that are in place for wrap around steps? How cool is that?!

Easy Shrimp in Creamy Basil Sauce


4 tablespoons butter, divided
1 lb. frozen shrimp, thawed, shelled and deveined
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper
3 cloves (or more if you like) minced garlic
1 1/2 to 2 cups half and half
2 tomatoes coarsely chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1 lb. your favorite pasta, prepared al-dente
Basil leaves for garnish


Prepare pasta according to package instructions for al-dente.
Meanwhile, in large non stick pan melt 2 tbsp. butter over medium-high heat.
When butter is sizzling, add the shrimp, sauteeing until almost done.
Remove shrimp from pan and set aside.
Add the rest of the butter to the pan, along with the garlic.
When melted, add flour, salt and pepper forming a roux.
Add 1 1/2 cups half and half stirring constantly. If sauce becomes too thick, you may add an additional 1/2 cup half and half
When thickened to desired consistancy, stir in tomatoes and basil.
Return shrimp to pan and allow to finish cooking (another 2-3 minutes)
Serve over warm pasta and garnish with basil leaves.
Eat and enjoy!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Deconstruction Done...Construction Begins

The "flooring" is down! I believe, tomorrow will be the framing of the enclosed porch.

Too Many Ornaments?

I showed restraint this year. I only used about 3/4 of our Christmas ornaments, decided against the red bows and left off the golden beads. All in all, it's still, a pretty "full" tree.

It is one of our family traditions for the kids to decorate their own tree. Normally, they've used a small, 3 foot tree. I was able to find a 6 foot tree for under $25 at Target this year. They had access to their own ornaments and to my "leftovers" in addition to the spare bows and strings of beads. They didn't use my leftover ornaments, nor my bows but they did partake to one strand
of golden beads for their garland. Their tree is beautiful in it's simplicity.

Animated plush ice skating Peanuts characters and Storytime Bear (The Night Before Christmas) courtesy of the kids' Great Aunts Mary and Irene. :)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Bye Bye Deck!

D-day has arrived. My dear old deck is going down! It's 24 degrees outside with a high expected in the 40's. I think I'll go make them some hot chocolate.

This is Tom Stanford (on the far right). He is my contractor and owner of Precision Framing, Inc. He does both commercial and residential framing. If you live in North or South Carolina and are needing some work done, he comes highly recommended:

Mobile: 704-400-0517
Nextel: 20517

I Love This Woman!

Note the cleaning cloth in her hands. Please also notice that she is standing in my kitchen. That is my stove she is cleaning! She visits me once a week to do my deep cleaning. She mops floors. She scrubs toilets. She even does windows! She keeps me sane. Her name is Joette. Did I mention I love this woman!

Monday, December 1, 2008


Our Lady of the New Advent
Courtesy of

From EWTN...

Advent: A time of preparation

The word Advent is from the Latin adventus for "coming" and is associated with the four weeks of preparation for Christmas. Advent always contains four Sundays, beginning on the Sunday nearest the feast of St. Andrew the Apostle, (November 30) and continuing until December 24. It blends together a penitential spirit, very similar to Lent, a liturgical theme of preparation for the Second and Final Coming of the Lord, called the Parousia, and a joyful theme of getting ready for the Bethlehem event.

Since the 900s Advent has been considered the beginning of the Church year. This does not mean that Advent is the most important time of the year. Easter has always had this honor.
The traditional color of Advent is purple or violet which symbolizes the penitential spirit. Religious traditions associated with Advent express all these themes.

Project Porch!

Today is the beginning of a major project on our home. We are having an addition of a 16x22 foot screened porch with an attached 10x16 deck installed. I've designed this addition myself and am really looking forward to seeing it come to reality. I plan to chronicle the process on these blog pages over the coming weeks. Meanwhile let us pause, for a few moments, in remembrance of our old deck. This farewell is bittersweet as this cramped backyard porch served us very well over the past 10 years. It is a sturdy old guy that remains very good shape. However, families grow and now is the time to move on to a larger, more usable, outdoor living space. Goodbye, little friend.


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