Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Monthly Links

December Links

This is a list of all of my blog posts for the month of December. Just an easy way to find what you are looking for - and for me to find what I'm looking for!

December Links
The Class Photo
The Takeaways
My Movie
The story of my snowman stocking
Funny & interesting
Secret Scrolls
Secret Stocking Swap
Magic of the Season
Guests for Dinner
Formal Night photos
Towel animals
Fun Day at Sea
Nassau, Bahamas
Freeport, Bahamas
I got a Goat for Christmas
Happy Happy Happy
Triangle Cat
It's Here!! My SSS gift arrived!
Dr. Visit
Keys in Trees
Twelve Giveaways
Photo Challenge
The Ornament Swap part II
Technology & kids
Eye Exam
Fried and Toast
Paying a toll
Stella and Zora
Make Me Cocoa
Gift Ideas - again
Stocking Swap
Secret Ornament Swap
Christmas Paper and Tags
Vacation wrap up
Snow falls in Michigan
Working on photos
Sweet 16
Gifts in the Mail!


I did it.

I purchased a journal at the end of last year. I think I mentioned it here once or twice (here) - this journal is just so cool because it only has 4 lines per day to fill in. If you need more space there are extras available you just go to the Extras section and write to your hearts content & then write down the page number at the end of your 4 lines. (There's a special little spot just for that page number, too

This journal was a big committment. It wasn't just a year, it is an 11 year journal. 2008 - 2018, which looks like ten years, but it's actually 11 written years. This is one of the things that used to screw me up when it came to math. How can it be both 10 and 11??? but I digress.

I have to be honest and tell you that I didn't always write in the journal each day - sometimes I saved up a few days and filled them in all at once. When I went on vacations I didn't take the journal with me, but I always kept a little post-it with some fun facts to put in the journal for when I returned. However, I have something written in every single day of 2008. It was one of my 101 Things To Do in 1001 Days projects.

I do say so myself, I am so proud of me. I have such a short attention span sometimes that when I wrote down #41 - write in my journal every day - I just assumed that I was not going to finish that task. Then again, I wasn't sure I'd still be blogging daily, either! But I did have hope that writing down the task would create some sort of desire to finish the task.

So this last day in December 2008 I have two successes for sure and that makes me smile so big...I wrote in my journal all year and I continue to write and enjoy blogging. As a matter of fact, I've now successfully completed 2 months of NaBloPoMo, which is a group dedicated to blogging every day. I've joined for January as well.

So have a Very Very Happy New Year! and may you have the best year yet.

I'd like to also at this time wish my dear friend Bob (AKA Jennifer, J.B. and Mrs. Parsont) a very Happy Birthday. I sent her off a little gift...shhhh don't tell her. She never reads my blog anyway lol But still. I hope it arrived today.

Happy New Year!

See you in 2009!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Class Photo

I am on Facebook.

I've been on Facebook for a few years now. I was first introduced to it when I was doing a lot of internet marketing. I was told to get on Facebook, twitter, Second Life, and several other million places. I never got into Second Life. I enjoy twitter, but rarely update it. I mostly look at it and read what others are doing.

Facebook on the other hand has gotten to be a lot of fun the past month or so. I started a Facebook page for my High School graduating class. For quite some time I was about the only member. I think we had over 350 in our graduating class, so having just two or three members was kind of a joke.

and I started it.

I thought it was going to be a great idea and it wasn't looking that way.


Then all of a sudden people started popping up. One person was telling another person and then they would tell three or four others and my list of friends was no longer people I'd never met before, but they were real life people I'd met, hung out with - or more likely - they were forced to have me as a classmate. I was adding people as fast as Dianne was finding them.

Dianne is a former classmate who has a knack for finding classmates. I just keep searching her friends list to find people I know, too. I found a whole bunch of people on my own today, I was so proud. Dianne was close behind me in added them as friends, so I know she's combing my friends list, too!

So my High School Facebook page is closing in on about 35 members. We've nearly doubled in two weeks. I'm so excited. However, no one is talking in the group page - which is fine -they are updating their profiles, loading in pictures and doing a lot of one on one talking. We are all having fun - but still, I wanted some group discussions.

So I posted the class photos of my 2nd, 3rd & 4th grade classes.

Now that has started some talking!

I mean, who could resist talking about these tiny faces! We are just so cute. I'm in this photo. :)

My kindergarten photo is the top photo. It is my favorite school picture ever.

My grandmother had the large size - what would that be? 8 x 10? Well, she had it in this huge frame and it was on her wall in the living room for as long as I can remember. I now have the photo that was my grandmothers. I really need to get it hung on the wall since it makes me smile.

The class photos started some conversations, but mostly we all got some laughs. It was a good idea.

We have our 25th reunion coming up in 09. No one seems to know who is in charge of it. My hope is that whoever is in charge of it will get on Facebook soon and let us all know!

If you haven't tried Facebook, go ahead and do it. You don't have to check in every day - or even every week. But I reconnected with my best friend from High School and that by far was the best day since I joined. I'd missed her...and now I've got a new way to connect with her.

Can you figure out which kid is me in the class photo?

Have a Wonderful New Year!

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Takeaways

Have you seen this video?

It is so funny!

It's just a link to YouTube - go. look. be sure and turn your sound on.

Click Here to learn about the takeaways.

My Movie

Your thoughts, feelings, and beliefs are creating the movie of your life. They are invisible forces that exist within you, and together they are creating your life movie, which is screening as your life experiences in the outside world. Your thoughts, feelings, and beliefs are under your direction, and you can change all of them. When you do, you will see the movie of your life change immediately.

As we begin another new year and another January through December and another round of the seasons passing this is of course a time to reflect. A time to wonder what we can do differently. A lot of people make New Years Resolutions. I don't think I have ever written out a list of resolutions that I meant to keep for even a day. I knew I'd never do it.

Last year, I did write out my 101 Things to Do in 1001 Days - I started that the middle of January - and that has been going real well. Several things that had a date in 2008 have come and gone and I didn't get to them. I will change the date on those items and get those accomplished this year. However, a Things To Do list doesn't seem as stressful to me as a Resolution list. I kind of think of a resolution as - "I'm resign myself to never having a piece of cake again...sigh" and that kind of talk just isn't positive enough for me.

So, this coming year I'm not going to make any resolutions. I'm going to continue on my quest to complete my list of 101 Things to Do in 1001 Days, because it was that list afterall, that inspired me to start blogging in earnest - and that my friends, has been one of the best things that I did this year.

The past few years I have really been monitoring my thoughts and the words I say. I attempt to be as positive as possible but I also know that the negative nellies tend to swish around inside my head and never really get verbalized - so those thoughts of mine are going to be my focus for this year. Keep the thoughts as positive as the spoken word.

I want my life to be a lot different than it is right now and if I'm in charge of the movie of my life, I guess I'm the one thats gonna have to right it! (I meant it as right -- as in correct it.)

I'm not going to resolve to live a better life, I'm just going to do it. What can it hurt? I'd like to have more friends, have more money, eat better, exercise more, get off of insulin, lose weight, have a clutter free home, take more vacations, work a little harder (yep, I would), help transplant patients, keep my condos rented and flip another house or two - but all of that will come about only if I make the movie of life include those things. If I don't get off the couch, none of those things will come true. I don't have to resolve to do those things - I just need the idea and the motion.

I love the concept of making the movie of your life and that you can change it instantly. That is just so wonderful! You don't have to do the same things day after day, you can do something different! To take a quote from a movie I love " dare to imagine that you could have a different life." (Jean Stapelton says to Meg Ryan in You've Got Mail)

I love my life, but I don't want to still have this exact same life in 10 years. Zora will be 14 by then and Stella will be 10. (My nieces) They will have changed tremendously, do I want to stay stagnant? Nope!

"The movie of your life will change instantly."

Gotta love a great movie!

*The two quotes were taken from "The Secret" page-a-day calendar.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The story of my snowman stocking

My mother commented in the Stocking swap post that she had forgotten that I still had my stocking. I got my stocking this particular Christmas - or so I thought! Here I am, that adorable little blonde headed girl standing on the fireplace hearth at my Grandparents house. I'm thinking that this is the Christmas of 1969 and I'm 3 years old.

I believe that I got the stocking after this event - we just took it home along with all of the gifts -- One of which being those awesome suitcases. I remember using those for years!

so back to the stocking.

This is a close up of the stocking in the photo above. This is the stocking I thought was mine.

This is a picture of the stocking I currently have. They are not the same! I had never noticed that before!

In the photo (the larger one) there is a faint line of red on the other side of the fireplace, so the stocking I have may have been on that side...but I always thought I had a picture of me and my stocking.

Here's another piece of the story.

The stocking I have says "Matt" on the inside. My Uncle Matthew has been married for quite awhile (three of their children have graduated from High School) and for most of those years, I have avoided telling him that I have his stocking. Every year I'd put the stocking up and feel just a tad guilty that I had it. I told his wife, my Aunt Marg and she told me not to worry about it, but I still thought I should ask Matthew. I think it was last year when I finally told him that I had his stocking and this is what he had to say about that!

He said that only three stocking were made. The girls, Judy (my mother), Jane and Gail were the ones who got those stockings. Matthew and his brother Alan had other stockings or shared with the girls - he couldn't quite remember. He said that when his sisters stopped living at home, he put his name in one of the stockings. He never really claimed any of the stockings - so he was more than happy to let me keep the stocking - especially since I've had the darned thing for about 39 years now!

When I look at the back of the stocking, I almost always just see a little weird green snowflake ladder . I rarely think much of it because the back side rarely shows.

Because I was taking pictures of it today, I had it turned sideways and that's when I noticed that the ladder wasn't a ladder at all. The snowflakes spell out the words Merry Christmas! Maybe I have noticed it before, but I forget each year (this is highly likely) but I doubt I will forget again, now that I have it written down and photographed.

I truly love this stocking. It is made from a piece of fabric that was preprinted in the shape of the stocking - it had cut lines and everything. So all someone had to do was cut out the two sides of the stocking and sew it together.

It is by far one of my favorite holiday decorations. It is even better now that I don't have any guilt in owning it! Thanks Matthew!

Have a wonderful week!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Funny & interesting

Here are just some random stuff that I thought of today or I did today.

I bent down to take a look at the dates on some packages of meat at the grocery store today. When I started to raise back up I realized that my hair had gotten caught in the "one at a time" plastic bag dispenser. It was fairly easy to get unattached, but I had to take out my barrette and finger comb my hair to get it somewhat normal. There were of course onlookers.

Also in Target. A fun song came on the overhead sound system and I realized that I was singing quite loudly to the music.

I put the milk in the cupboard. I tried to, I should say. The milk was too tall, but I spent a good 10 seconds trying to make it fit!

I read this on Facebook the other day: "I'm currently living in a snow globe that someone keeps shaking!"

I want so badly to like "Everyday with Rachel Ray" magazine. I've purchased 3 or 4 of the magazines and I don't like anything in it. That's just sad. I will quit buying them now, I've learned my lesson. I'm taking the ones that I have purchased (and of course saved!) to my rental condo and if they don't want it, they can take them to the Mayo Clinic waiting room.

Happiness, being a dessert so sweet, May life give you more than you can ever eat.

Click on each horse - Nothing bad will happen - totally G rated. It's funny in a weird way.

We've all heard these things before (when it comes to the state you live in -- but I still find them funny every time!) Here's some of my favorites about my birthplace, Michigan

I was told that this next section was from Jeff Foxworthy - but I have no idea if that is indeed true...but it sounds like him.

If you're proud that your region makes the national news 96 nights each year because Pellston is the coldest spot in the nation, you might live in Michigan.

If your local Dairy Queen is closed from November through March, you might live in Michigan.

If you instinctively walk like a penguin for five months out of the year, you might live in Michigan.

If someone in a store offers you assistance, and they don't work there, you might live in Michigan.

If your dad's suntan stops at a line curving around the middle of his forehead, you might live in Michigan.

If you have worn shorts and a coat at the same time, you might live in Michigan.

If your town has an equal number of bars and churches, you might live in Michigan.

If you have had a lengthy telephone conversation with someone who dialed a wrong number, you might live in Michigan.

(I don't think this next part is from Jeff Foxworthy)
You know you're a true MICHIGANIAN/MICHIGANDER when...

1. "Vacation" means going up north on I-75.

2. Going "Up North" means going North of Clare.

3. You know several people who have hit a deer more than once.

4. You often switch from "heat" to "A/C" in the same day.

5. You can drive 65 mph through 2 feet of snow during a raging blizzard, without flinching.

6. You see people wearing camouflage at social events (including weddings).

7. You install security lights on your house and garage and leave both unlocked.

8. You carry jumper cables in your car and your girlfriend knows how to use them.

9. You design your kid's Halloween costume to fit over a snowsuit.

10. Driving is better in the winter because the potholes are filled with snow.

11. You know all 4 seasons: almost winter, winter, still winter and road construction.

12. You can identify a southern or eastern accent.

13. Your idea of creative landscaping is a statue of a deer next to your blue spruce.

14. You were unaware that there is a legal drinking age.

15. Down South to you means Ohio.

16. A brat is something you eat.

17. Your neighbor throws a party to celebrate his new pole barn.

18. You go out to fish fry every Friday.

19. Your 4th of July picnic was moved indoors due to frost.

20. You have more miles on your snow blower than your car.

21. You find 0 degrees "a little chilly."

22. You drink pop and bake with soda.

23. Your doctor tells you to drink Vernors and you know it's not medicine.

24. You can actually drink Vernors without coughing

25. You know what a Yooper, a Fudgie and a Troll are...

26. You think owning a Honda is Un-American.

27. You know that UP is a place, not a direction.

28. You know it's possible to live in a thumb.

29. You show people where you live by pointing at your hand.

30. You actually understand these jokes!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Secret Scrolls

December was a busy month, as most of you can relate to. I was a bit behind in reading my Page-a-day Secret Scrolls calendar and in going through a few weeks of thoughts of the day made me want to write them all down and share with you. There was just so much good information, inspiration and great thoughts, but I decided to just give you a few for today. No need to overwhelm.

You can learn more about The Secret at their website I have searched all over for another year of this page-a-day and it doesn't seem to exist. I saved nearly every one of the inspirations - I blogged about it here - so thankfully, I can still have my daily dose!

Here is a brand new installment of the Secret Scrolls. Enjoy!

It is impossible to bring more into your life if you are feeling ungrateful about what you have. Why? Because the thoughts and feelings you emit as you feel ungrateful are all negative emotions. Whether it is jealousy, resentment, dissatisfaction, or feelings of "not enough," those feelings cannot bring you what you want. They can only return to you more of what you do not want. Those negative emotions are blocking your own good coming to you. If you want a new car but you are not grateful for the car you have, that will be the dominant frequency you are sending out.

Visualize checks in the mail.

With all that I have read and with all that I have experienced in my own life using The Secret, the power of gratitude stands above everything else. If you do only one thing with the knowledge of The Secret, use gratitude until it becomes your way of life.

You don't have to fight to get rid of disease. Just the simple process of letting go of negative thoughts will allow your natural state of health to emerge within you. And your body will heal itself.

Praise and Bless everything in the world, and you will dissolve negativity and discord and align yourself with the highest frequency - love.

I'm really thinking positive thoughts about that "getting rid of disease" quote. My body really needs to get back to its natural state of health and I'm making incredibly positive changes. I don't think I can lose 50 pounds in a week, but the universe likes speed - so this is just wonderful incentive to think positive, release the negative, lose the weight, do it at a natural (quick) pace and get back to great health.

EDITED 12/27/08 3:09pm Eastern Time - I went to Target today and found "The Secret Daily Teachings" in a page-a-day format. It isn't a calendar, but it is 365 days of things to think about. It was the last one on the shelf! (and it was half off) So at least I have something each day from The Secret. It's a great day!

Oh, the daily teachings start with Monday, so I think I'm going to start it this coming Monday (No dates, just days of the week for 365 days) instead of waiting until after the first of the year.

Have a wonderful Holiday season.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Secret Stocking Swap

Here is my Christmas gift story...

It's a good one.

Jennie at An Experimental Mommy Life was my Secret Stocking Stuffer Santa, much to my husbands delight! This meant that he was not obligated to fill my stocking. He could still do it, I wouldn't mind at all, but he was under no obligation. I have to say, this is his least favorite thing (or so he thinks) because usually on Christmas Eve I was would say -- "do you have anything to put in my stocking?" He'd almost always say no and then say "I'm sorry, you won't have a stocking this year." This is where I tell him that he's still got time and I expect him to make some sort of an effort.

Then he goes to Target and comes home with several bags of goodies for me and for him! He is usually smiling from ear to ear and has really enjoyed himself. He picks out fun stuff, too - Glues, stickers, funny ornaments, pens and paper --- just stuff that we can use & have fun with. Nothing extravagant, just fun.

Well, in order to not have to go through that ordeal again of forcing my husband to go out into the wide world of Target and actually enjoy himself - I signed up for my third and final swap.

The Well Rounded Woman hosted a Stocking Swap. Every participant was supposed to already have their own stocking, but the secret santa was to provide a few fun things for them to put in their stocking on Christmas Eve. I had my husband take the unopened package and fill my stocking last night. I didn't want to have any hints or anything as to what was inside. Thankfully I listened and had my husband fill the stocking because the outside of each little package was written on. I have to say - this drove my husband nuts! He wanted to know what was inside. heee heee He'd have to wait.

So this morning...we get up. He says - "Will you open your stocking?" I said no, not first. I want to be sure to take pictures, so we need to do it last.

I hand him his gifts & his stocking. He hands me mine. I have him look through his stocking - I gave him an egg slicer, a pair of tongs and a spatula (Romantic, huh?) Then I opened my gift. A watch. My real gift was the cruise we went on over the weekend. Then I had him open his other two items. A Mandolin (the slicer, not the instrument) and a book about the Big Lebowski. (He LOVED the book and has hardly put it down today.)

Now to my stocking. He is dying - he can just hardly wait.

I take everything out and he says - "she wrote on each package, do you see?"

"Yes I can!"

"Which one are you going to open first?"

"I think the one that says flower."

"That's the one I wanted to see first, too"

and it went on like that for each package.

The flower was a necklace is beautiful! The neat thing is that I just bought this green jacket and it needs to have a necklace with it. I've already tested it with the jacket and it's perfect!!! This alone made the swap!

However, my secret santa must have been with me the other day when I was looking at the foot creams in the store. I ended up not getting anything because I just couldn't make up my mind. Now I don't have to! How perfect is that?!! This was in the "Enjoy a Massage" package.

The next gift I opened was the World Traveler. This contained chocolate coins with famous world landmarks - the Taj Mahal, the Eiffel Tower, & the Sidney Oprah house just to name a few.

The "write gift" was a four pack of Sharpies! I think my love of Sharpies is becoming legendary. Thank You Thank You Thank You!! (In a few days look for another post from me on Sharpies.)

Last but not least, I opened up the one marked indulgence. Oh My Goodness! It was Sugar Free Dove Chocolates. I hadn't tried those yet, until today lol Oh Secret Santa, Thank You!!!

This was so much fun. I didn't know if I could handle having gifts arrive that I couldn't open right away, but I made it. I think the most fun was watching my husband because he put the goodies into the stocking. He had all night to think about what was written on the packages. So thanks Santa for driving him bonkers!

Please visit Jennie when you have a chance - An Experimental Mommy Life, she's been a lot of fun.

Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas.
I know I did.


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Magic of the Season

My Mother wrote this piece for the Lansing State Journal a few years ago. I have it framed and hanging on my wall. I stand and read it every so often and it chokes me up every time.

In this home, Santa, magic of season still thrive
by Judith (Bommer) Bridger

I believe in Santa Clause, in reindeer on the rooftop, in a wish list and a plate of cookies beside the fireplace. I believe in stockings filled with oranges and nuts and a candy cane crammed in the top. I believe in unwrapped toys made by elves decorated with ribbons and bows: a book or two, a pair of mittens, a baby doll (that I can hardly resist buying for my granddaughter this year) a coloring book and socks, always socks.

Mostly I believe in the wonder of a small child standing before the blazing tinsel-decked tree on Christmas morning, amazed that Santa did actually come during the night, ate the cookies and left a note that read, "Some little gifts for my special girls, with love, Santa."

The small child was mine of course. And one became three. The wonderful daughters. Years of Christmas mornings when they stood huddled together peering with delight, laughing and giggling over what Santa had brought them.

As they grew older, their laughter became whispers and serious conversations as they waited by the tree for their dad and me to make our way down the stairs in our bathrobes. Christmas morning became a tradition of nibbling on poppy seed bread and blueberry bars, admiring packages, the wrapping paper and the bows.

We laughed and poked fun over phrases like "Christmas Eve Day Morning" before eventually opening packages. It took hours.

Next came the Christmas breakfast of potatoes, onions and bacon all fried together with a scramble of eggs, a steaming bowl of freshly made applesauce and flaky croissants.

I miss waking to the sounds of their voices. I cannot recall Christmas and my children without tears. They are happy tears, yet mixed with that little longing, for what always seems like the good ol' days.

All my daughters are grown now and I'm gathering little stacks of Santa toys for the grandchildren. Two boys and one girl this time.

The welcome lights are in the windows and the tree is adorned; years of old decorations revived from their boxes, finding their longtime home or an exciting new one. Each ornament admired and placed in its perfect location, rearranged and considered. Tinsel's the final touch; strands hung carefully, as I consider how melting snow would make an icicle.

Under the tree, there's a collection of teddy bears. It looks like Santa has already been here.

How can I not believe in Santa? I am attached to the pleasure of this holiday ritual. Peace and joy and love. It overtakes me. I will cling to it as long as I can.

written for the Lansing State Journal and published on Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Thanks Mom!
Love, Kristin

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Guests for Dinner

My very very favorite part of any cruise is the dinner. It isn't because of the food, it's because of the people. There are a couple of commercials out there on TV where they show these people marching off to dinner at a certain time and marching out at a certain time. It says "they tell you when to eat" but on their cruise you don't have the unique opportunity to meet some incredibly interesting (and I've found) completely wonderful people. I would ABSOLUTELY hate to freestyle my way through all of my dinners. It's hard to strike up a meaningful conversation with people if you know you are only going to chat with them through the one meal. If you know you've got to see them all week, well then it becomes more important to get to know these folks. I've always had the late seating dining which is usually around 8:15pm. This pretty much takes care of all of the families with children, they tend to eat at the early time. This means that we've almost always had a table for ten that's filled with couples or friends traveling together.

This time was no exception.
I truly wish these pictures were better. The lights in the dining room wreaked havoc with my lens. These photos are only a close approximation of how lovely everyone was :)

This is Stephanie and her Father, George. (or is it Georg?) I never asked how to spell everyone names, so I'm guessing a bit. These two are hair stylists and if I ever get to their neck of the woods, I'm getting an appointment.

This is Cosmo and Ivilesse. There is absolutely no question in my mind that we are going to see these two again. Cosmo lives just a few miles from us and Ivilesse is the other side of us, just a few more miles. Cosmo really doesn't look this way - it's the weird camera lighting. He is quite handsome and she is a doll. Tom and Cosmo hit it off right away and chatted like they'd known each other for years.

This is Christy and Ann. They said that they had to approve all photos of them - but I'm going to have to post this until I get a better one. They had to be represented because I enjoyed their company so much. I predict I will see them again as well. Heck, I bet we'll all meet up again - this was one special group!

Here is Roy, our waiter. He's from Jamaica. He was so patient with us. We were a fun group, but picky food eaters! Roy just said "OK, I'll see what I can do" and the next thing you know, the food that we wanted arrived. Christy & Roy made great dance partners, too. Our whole waitstaff team was great.

Ivilesse ran out to go change her clothes and it was then we decided to get a group picture! I don't know why we didn't wait. So here is all of us, minus one.

Thanks everyone for being such great tablemates.

Oh, I forgot to mention. We had another couple.

They arrived after the third night. I'm not sure why they didn't make it to dinner, but she said that it was all his fault LOL The 8 of us who were there the previous two nights were talking like best friends. It was really difficult to get these new folks involved in the group conversations but we did try our best. Jeannette and Joe - They were a lovely couple. I totally blaked on her name but Stephanie commented that it was Jeannette. (Thanks Stephanie!) Once again - what a wonky photo. Please excuse.

The last night, they didn't show up again, but we did see them as we were leaving and it was so nice to visit with them a little. They would have been a great addition to our table, I could see that.

Another peek into my wonderful Christmas Cruise. Hope you are enjoying it.

Merry Merry,

Formal Night photos

Here are the pictures that were taken on formal night (also known as the Captain's Dinner.) There were stations all over the ship with backdrops of columns, libraries, beaches, the cruise ship exterior, creepy old spaces and a few Christmas themed areas. I chose the real backdrop of the Atrium and the decorated stairway of the ship.

Tom and I blend in a bit, but overall I think we took some nice pictures. This is a new dress that I bought just for the cruise. It was really comfortable and didn't wrinkle when I packed it. It's a keeper!

Tom had a full beard the day before but he went and got a Men's grooming spa treatment earlier in the day. He has been working real hard to get his skin cleared up. It's too bad he looks so red in these photos. We may need to get some help from a photoshop expert to alter these photos! He really loved the spa treatment he got - they massaged his scalp, neck and shoulders - they put on two facial masks to help clear up his skin. He got a shave and a haircut, too. It's the best haircut he's gotten in years!

This was our best photo, I think. We were sitting at dinner when the camera guy came around. The rest of the evenings I waved him off, but tonight I was prepared to get some good photos of Tom and I. I smiled all afternoon in the mirror as I was getting dressed to help make sure I didn't have a goofy smile lol

Hopefully I can get some more photos up today - but if not, these are a real good start.

Oh oh oh...Today (December 23rd) is Tom's 3rd Anniversary of his Liver Transplant and it is also the 14th Anniversary of our first date. (14 years? I can hardly believe it.)

Have a great day!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Towel animals

The most unique part of a Carnival Ship is the tail. We were on this ship - The Carnival Fascination. It is one of their smaller ships, although it looks huge, it was dwarfed when we docked next to some of the other cruise ships. Our ship didn't have any balcony rooms either - but we had a large window in our stateroom. I was thankful for that - I was afraid we may just get a small porthole. It feels less like a small box if the window is bigger. My husband bought the cruise just a little over a week ago, so really we were buying what was leftover. We had a great leftover!

Our cabin Steward was so great. His name is Curtis. I never found out where he was from but I will say that he was one of the best cabin stewards we have ever had. One lady commented that she went to the bathroom twice in the middle of the night and when she came out the bed was made.

Our beds were made in the morning and the room/bathroom were cleaned. Pillows fluffed and water and ice replaced. Sometime in the afternoon/evening Tom and I would take a nap. We had the late dinner (8:15pm) so we were looking for something to do about 4pm - napping was always high on that list! If we left the room and came back before dinner, our bed was made again and the bathroom cleaned. When we returned from dinner, that is when the towel animals appeared on the bed.

Our last day at sea there was a towel animal folding tutorial in the Palace Lounge. It was during the time of something else, so I didn't attend, but I could have purchased a book that Carnival just happens to have on hand.

The towel animals are cute and I had to admit that I am always a bit excited to see what creature will be in our room each night.

I honestly don't know what this guy is - is it a seal? a walrus? Some sort of water animal I was thinking. No matter if I knew what it was or not - I was happy to see it. The little blue and red bits that make up the eyes and the mouth - those are just little bits of paper.

The yellow pillow is the one I brought with me but I didn't bring the dog. Especially not a dog that has its paws behind his head, lounging on my pillow!

I liked this animal best. I carefully moved it over to our little corner table so I could keep him all night.

I was very surprised at how comfortable the beds were on the ship. I was prepared to be disappointed (not much positive thinking going on there, now was there!) but the bed was very comfortable and the sheets were soft and they smelled like nothing. Ahhh, I love unscented sheets. The pillows were fabulous, too. I didn't even need to have my own pillow. I was very very comfortable in our room.

That's it for now.

I'll have more photos tomorrow.
and if I don't see you again before Christmas -
Merry Christmas!!


Sunday, December 21, 2008

Fun Day at Sea

Another day on the Fun Ship Carnival Fascination!

Last night was the formal dinner night where everyone gets dressed in their finest and there are photographers all over the place, with all kinds of backdrops and props to entice you to step in and get your picture taken. Tom and I have avoided the photographers as much as possible on this trip, but last night was the exception. I purposefully found the photographer station that I liked best and then watched how he posed others and then took Tom there when we were dressed. I chose the decorated stairway (not a canvas backdrop) on the Empress deck of the ship. The poses were a bit goofy, but a few of the pictures turned out real nice. So I bought them.

It’s funny though about the pictures, it is so hard to find yourself! There is this whole wall of photos and no one looks familiar. I must have looked at that picture of Tom and I five times before recognizing it!

Today there was a slot tournament in the casino. I entered. I didn’t get into the finals. So I entered again. I didn’t make the finals. So guess what?? Yeppers, I entered again! I made it into the finals with that round! Yippppeeeee!! I was so excited. I didn’t win the tournament, but I had a lot of fun.

I entered a slot tournament on one of the cruises we went on and I won that one… it was a $250 prize and a 24 Karat Gold Plastic Ship on a Stick! This tournament was for $500 and that old familiar gold plastic ship on a stick!

We went on a galley tour today, played BINGO, listened to a disembarkation lecture from our cruise director, took a nap and wandered around the ship. We also spent a while looking at the ocean.

We’ve had such a nice time. Looks like we will be getting off the ship between 8 & 9 am and that means we’ll be home by 10am. That’s just a hoot that we’re on vacation and then home in a matter of minutes. I love it. We may have to do this again sometime.

One last thing before I go – I was a little nervous about my diabetes and keeping it under control while eating all of my meals on the ship. I have to say, I’ve done an excellent job. I have ordered fish for dinner every night so far. I haven’t eaten a single morsel of bread or bread products. I have ordered an extra serving of veggies at each meal and I have resisted nearly all of the dessert. The past two nights I have order the sugar free ice cream after dinner and it didn’t raise my blood sugar at all. I have felt real well on the trip and have maintained my diet program – I am so pleased.

So that’s it for now. I’ll be back on dry land tomorrow and will be updating with pictures!

Hope you have a fabulous Sunday.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Nassau, Bahamas

We got into Nassau this morning and were docked before I even got out of bed. The weather is just fabulous (Wish you were here!) and the food on the islands has been great. Tom and I ate a place called Cafe Mattise and I ordered a lovely chicken and veggie dish - Tom ordered a lobster salad. My food was waaaaaay too spicy for me. Way too spicy! So I ended up eating the Lobster salad and Tom gladly ate the chicken and veggies. Good thing that worked out so well.

Tonight is the formal night for dinner. Hopefully, if I remember, I'll take a picture of the dinner companions that we have this crusie, since we're all dressed up, it'll be nice. They have been a lot of fun. I'll talk more about them when I'm not paying for internet by the minute.

Over and out!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Freeport, Bahamas

Did I mention that I was going on a cruise?

We left yesterday and will be home bright and early Monday morning.

The Carnival Fascination is our ship and it leaves from Jacksonville, FL goes to the Bahamas and then back to Jacksonville. It's a ship that literally travels up and down the coast of Florida lol

It's real nice though. I like having the opportunity to sleep in, to meet new people and to have a hand at the slots in the casino. Yesterday I won $24.00. I put in $20 and cashed out with $44. Not a bad deal!

Tom and I got off the boat today at Freeport. There is a little market near where the cruise ships docks (handy huh?!) and we decided to wander around. I bought a pair of sunglasses (I lost mine about 5 minutes after I put them on today..which by the way is unheard of! I've had those glasses for about 5 years) so anyway, I bought a new pair of sunglasses. Tom bought a straw hat and we both ate BBQd ribs that were the best I've ever tasted in my entire life. I'd take this cruise again to get those ribs. The ribs also didn't spike my blood sugar so that was an added bonus.

I've been very careful about eating and not a drop of dessert has crossed my lips. That's pretty difficult on a cruise ship. Dessert is all around on every level, I swear. If I were a food addict, I might not be able to resist! lol

OK, at 40 cents a minute - I've used up a bunch.

See you tomorrow!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I got a Goat for Christmas

My blog is called The Goat because my Mother opened a coffeehouse named "The Dancing Goat Coffeehouse" but the customers just called it "The Goat." I worked there alongside my sisters and I loved it. It was open just a few years but it was a lot of fun. I love that I have titled my blog The Goat, because it just continues that same theme of enjoying the people who walk in the door and giving them great service (or at least some fun reading material!)

This book is just beautiful! The illustrations are gorgeous! The book is called "The Goat Lady" by Jane Bregoli. I highly recommend it for any of the people in your lives. It's a childrens book, but I really liked it. It was also the perfect tangible product to give with the gift below.

This year for Christmas (I had Christmas Nov 30th when I went to Michigan) my Mother gave us girls each a goat. It was a gift from Heifer International who gives the animals to families to help them better their lives.

This is just a section of the card that came with the gift. It says...

Heifer International is a non profit organization working to end hunger and poverty while caring for the earth. Heifer provides animals and training to help impoverished families become more self-reliant. Since 1944, Heifer has helped 8.5 million families in more than 125 countries. Each recipient agrees to "pass on the gift" of one or more of their animals to another family in need, creating an ever widening circle of hope.

Goats Are Great for Families

The gift of a dairy goat represents a lasting, meaningful way for you to help a little boy or girl on the other side of the world.

Goats can thrive in extreme climates and on poor, dry land by eating grass and leaves. The gift of a dairy goat can supply a family with up to several quarts of nutritious milk a day - a ton of milk a year. Extra milk can be sold or used to make cheese, butter or yogurt. Families learn to use goat manure to fertilize gardens.

And because goats often have two or three kids a year, Heifer partners can lift themselves out of poverty by starting small dairies that earn money for food, health care and education.

The nieces, or as my Mother would call them, her grandchildren, were given chickens. A few chicks for the little ones.

Chicks: A Good Choice

A flock of chicks can help families from Cameroon to the Caribbean add nourishing, life-sustaining eggs to their inadequate diets.

The protein in just one egg is a nutritious gift for a hungry child. Protein-packed eggs from even a single chicken can make a life-saving difference.

Heifer helps many hungry families with a starter flock of 10 to 50 chicks. A good hen can lay up to 200 eggs a year - plenty to eat, share or sell.

Because chickens require little space and can thrive on readily available food scraps, families can make money from the birds without spending much. And chickens help control insects and fertilize gardens.

If you should happen to be looking for a gift for that person who has everything - consider giving a Goat! or a chicken or a flock of geese or even a trio of rabbits.

Thanks Mom! It's a great gift.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Happy Happy Happy

The tree has been unpacked, the lights are lit, the ornaments are all on the tree, the stockings have been hung on the door handles of the entertainment center, a few strategically placed Santas have been placed and the house looks like a tornado hit it.

I just sent out the last swap package that I had. It's for the Stocking Swap hosted by Tara at The Well Rounded Woman. I have already received my package - it's the purple package under the tree. Tom will take out the goodies and put them in my stocking Christmas Eve.

This is what resides at the top of our tree. It is a Santa star fashioned out of an old tin ceiling tile. I love it.

This is one of the only Kristin crafted ornaments that has survived the years. He's kind of cool. He always tends to end up on the back of the tree, but this year the back of the tree faces the kitchen, so I get to see more of him this year.

This is my very favorite ornament ever. I've had it so long that I don't remember when it was given to me. It might have even been given to my parents, but my love for it made it easy for them to just put it in my ornament stash. I love that his mouth is painted crooked, that his hand is painted the same color as his hair, that his eyes are missing (I don't ever remember him having eyes,) I love his bowlegged stance and I adore those little black shoes. His crown is pretty cool, too!

So that's a mini look at my mini Christmas tree. (why is it that every Christmas tree picture I've ever taken is blurry?)

I have cleaned up the house - I started this post about 10 hours ago and now, the house looks pretty respectable. My neighbors will be coming over every day for the next 4 days, so I had to get the place tidy.

Why is my neighbor coming over? To feed my Mocha. and water her. and clean the litter box. Tom and I will be on a Cruise! I'll tell you all about that later. We should have internet access, so I expect to be able to update each day.

You all have a fabulous day!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Triangle Cat

This is Mocha.

She loves to lay in a triangle.

She puts all of her paws together and sleeps.

When I took this picture this morning, she was sleeping so soundly that she didn't even flinch when I turned on the camera and took several pictures.

Usually when I turn on the camera she opens her eyes and gives me a dirty look.

I love it when Mocha is so comfortable with her surroundings that she can go into deep sleep mode.

It makes me feel like a great Mom. (If one can be a mom to a cat LOL)

Monday, December 15, 2008

It's Here!! My SSS gift arrived!

This month is all about giving and I'll tell ya, I've been doing real well on the giving part. I've also been on the receiving end of that giving time of year, too.

I joined in three Santa Swaps and as of yesterday at 6pm, all of my Secret Santas have come through.

Georgie over at Decisionally Challenged started this whole Secret Santa Soiree (SSS) thing. She had an elf helper by the name of Amy Amy Bo Bamey who helped keep us all on track. I was totally sucked right into it. I think there were 70+ people in the swap - that's a lot of new blogs! If you get a chance, go check out some of the SSS bloggers.

So we were all given a little form to fill out - I filled out my form with as much information I could possibly think of, so that my Secret Santa would have no trouble at all getting to know me. Also so that they wouldn't send scented candles, lotions, potions and the like. I'm terribly allergic to that kind of stuff. I also made sure that every so often I'd actually talk about my likes and dislikes in my blog, so if my Secret Santa was reading - they'd be able to figure out that liked a wide variety of things.

My gift arrived around 6pm Eastern time. The UPS man rang the doorbell and I went running for the door! It had arrived, I just knew it. It had to be here.

It was!! It was here!!!

This was what I saw when I opened the box. It's festive! and I see a kitty cat peering out --- with my name on something --- and my name is spelled correctly! (that's a real bonus!)

Once I unloaded the box, this is what I found. My Secret Santa went all out!

Rochere chocolates, something in red tissue, a wrapped box, a DVD, a note pad, some weird Texas thing, travel tissues, the cat that I saw earlier, a box with snowmen on it and note cards.


Now to open everything.

Oh! this weird Texas thing is a post card. I am betting my Secret Santa lives in Texas! (I'm just messing with you, Texas!!!!) The lined note pad has my initial at the top and a magnet on the back. The note cards are also monogrammed with my initial. Very cool!!

This is the little package of travel tissues. It's got a kitten on it. A kitten with a Santa hat, standing on a Christmas ornament. Awwwww. I love these little travel tissues.

This is just the most adorable thing! What a clever idea! The note says "Remove Me!" So what's behind the note????

It's a picture of my kitty cat Mocha!! Do you see the little frame part? It's a paw! The little boings at the top are the little kitty pads. This is just too cute for words. My Secret Santa must have gotten the picture of my Mocha from this blog. She's a sneaky Santa!

Let's see -- We've got some Chocolates, that the note enclosed said that this was my Secret Santa's favorite chocolates and I'd have to say, I can tell! Look, there's one missing!!! I bet that was my Secret Santa. Another note was on top of this DVD of Footloose! She said that when she thinks of the 80's she thinks of this movie - I couldn't agree more. I love this movie and I do NOT own it. Perfect!!!

Aw heck, I ate the chocolate. It wasn't my Secret Santa. :o)

This little kitty held one of my favorite things - Clickable Sharpies!! Oh thank you Secret Santa, Thank You!!! I think I'll keep the Sharpies in the Kitty holder - it's just puuuurrrrfect!

The next thing I opened was this Snowman box. Now this is where I was starting to get reaaaaallly suspicious. I was getting the feeling that I knew who my Secret Santa was...Texas, Snowmen, my love of Sharpies... There was just one person...It just HAD to be...

Post-Its! Now I was SURE I knew who it was. My love of post-its is legendary (as is my love of writing with Sharpies on Post-its!) This had to be someone who reads my blog regularly. I'm thinking she tried real hard not to write out exclamation marks when she wrote her notes to me! That would have been a dead give-away.

This last gift was the clincher. It was Jeannie or J as she is known in the comments section. She is a snowman addict! She knows about my Michigan roots, my love of snow pictures (just not having to personally be in the snow!) so this was all the handiwork of Jeannie. I was positive now.

Not to mention, this was just over the top when it comes to Secret Santa swapping!! She really went all out and it was a blast to open it all.

She had been emailing me the past few weeks talking about picking up just one more thing for her swap person and I recall telling her to just send it out already! LOL I was also thinking that I couldn't wait to see who got her gift because she was having a ball buying for her. I was totally clueless that it was me.

After I'd already decided that Jeannie was my Secret Santa, I went to the box and found the town where the box was mailed and it was right near where I thought she lived. I figured it out!

What a great swap!!!

Please go check out Musings from Left Field - J's blog. Say Hi to her. Tell her she is awesome! Aw heck, I'll tell her...

Jeannie - You are Awesome!! Thanks so much.