Burning the Midnight Oil


~{So incredibly}Thankful for my brilliant and hard-working business partner and our last-minute client this evening wanting to make an offer on a new home!~

Peppering with thanks…

I can’t believe that today is the 30th of November.

It’s the last day of NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month), and more specifically, the last day of the Nano Poblano Challenge.

I participated in (and survived) NaBloPoMo for the first time last year.  I managed to write every day that November, but I continuously fought writer’s block and time constraints. Although there were a couple of posts I’m OK about, I don’t think it’s my best writing. Last year was all about honoring my commitment and cranking out that post each day, regardless.

This year, I had the tremendous opportunity to be a part of a group of writers called Team Pepper, participating in their own version of NaBloPoMo, Nano Poblano (Very Tiny Peppers).  They provided me with some great reading and the fun of different ideas and viewpoints. They helped me overcome my fear of “commenting.” They provided some wonderful writing challenges and some very helpful prompts.  Most importantly, they gave an incredible sense of community and support.

This year, the writing came easier. Maybe I was more inspired, or maybe I had more to say, or maybe it was that for once, someone was reading.

2907590248_f56d69b203_z

Some of those someones are my husband, David and my Mom-in-Law, Linda, who read every post, every single day and gave me such awesome feedback. I love you both.

I have much gratitude for our Captain Poblano, Mark Bialczak for sorting Peppers and herding cats and his support and encouragement.

And to all the Fabulous Peppers (and other Bloggers) who have stopped by, “liked,” made comments, asked questions and made me feel I had something worth writing about and could tell it in a worthwhile way:

Thank you, so very, very much. I am fortunate to have been a part of this.

Feelin’ the Burns

So far this NaBloPoMo, I’ve managed to write a fresh post every day without resorting to a re-post of one of my old favorites. However, I noticed a fun-sounding  Post-a-Day yesterday when I was scrolling through the Reader and realized I had written something years ago that would respond beautifully to the challenge.  It brings up some great memories, too, so I thought I would share again.

“What’s the most elaborate, complicated meal you’ve ever cooked? Was it a triumph for the ages, or a colossal fiasco? Give us the behind-the-scenes story (pictures are welcome, of course).”

This is a story from 2011, right after my husband and I met, about a very special dinner.

The Last (Burn’s) Supper

Just in case you’ve missed the clues, I am a Ferguson. For the uninitiated, uninformed or uncaring, that means I’m of Scottish heritage, something my family is insanely proud of; after all, we are descendants of the first kings of Scotland. Our royal pedigree made absolute sense when I found out – I’ve always felt I was a princess, my tiara is simply implied.

Clann Ferguson Badge

Imagine my delight when my fabulous new boyfriend, David, turns out to be of Scottish ancestry as well–Clann Douglass, to be exact. Visions of bagpipes and Caber Tosses dancing in my head, I turned to him one January night and asked him the question burning so long and lonely in my soul:

“Would you host a Burns Supper with me?”

So for those uninitiated, uninformed or uncaring (and for you now joining them) Burns Supper is one of the major Scottish Holidays (along with Tartan Day, Hogmanay and St. Andrew’s Day) celebrated by Scots around the world. Specifically, it’s the commemoration of the life and works of famous Scottish poet, Robert Burns, who was born in 1759, and has been known as the “Bard of Scotland.” Burns is revered for his egalitarian beliefs (rare for those days) and his works, most notably poems such as “To a Mouse,” which inspired the Steinbeck novel Of Mice and Men; and “My Heart’s in the Highlands;” and the traditional New Year’s anthem, “Auld Lang Syne,” a classic to this day. Typically Burns Night, or simply “Burns Supper” is held on the anniversary of his birthday, January 25th, and is celebrated by eating the customary supper of haggis, neeps and tatties, reading his poems, singing his songs and downing shots of Scotch Whiskey to toast his “immortal memory.”

Since eating, drinking and being of Scottish descent come somewhat naturally to me, I had always aspired to host a Burns Supper, but in the past had found myself overwhelmed by the proscribed ritual: the entire night is shaped around a complicated timeline of speeches, toasts and songs a little beyond my American-born and raised sensibilities. I was also intimidated (read: flat out terrified) at the thought of creating the traditional menu, as it stars not only “Neeps and Tatties” (mashed turnips-bleck! and potatoes) but features the dread Haggis as centerpiece of the entire event. To be honest, for me, organ meat steamed in sheep intestine doesn’t exactly pique any desire to chow.

The Dread Haggis

The Dread Haggis

Ahh, but now! A partner in crime! Not only Scottish, but an excellent chef and delightfully (and possibly foolishly) excited to do things with me. Let the (Highland) games begin!

We decided to stage the event at David’s house, since he would be doing most of the cooking. If you’ve been following along with my blogging adventures, you know by now that I’m not only not much of a chef, but neither do I possess the culinary infrastructure required for major meal production. The guest list was easy: my dear friend (and fellow Scottish-American) Dana McPherson, who I knew was not only familiar with Burns Supper, but culinarily adventurous, free that evening and and in possession of a formal dress kilt with no apprehension to wearing.

Me and my bonnie laddie in our Scottish finery

The next step was to convert the menu to something that, in my opinion, was actually edible. Judicious internet research revealed, ta dumm!, that others share my aversion to turnips and tripe, and have created alternatives to the classic offal and root veg offering. Armed with a “Neo-Scottish” menu and a sheath of recipes, David took over in the kitchen, leaving me to figure out my wardrobe for the evening. David, despite limited mobility due to a broken leg (fodder for another blog post) had managed to acquire a last-minute formal dress kilt, but I was scrappin’ for anything fancy-n-Ferguson, finally donning a royal blue velvet Betsy Johnson slip dress with my Ferguson scarf jauntily knotted over one shoulder and afixed with our Clann kilt pin. Not nearly as fabulous as the boys, but would have to do.

Due to a spectacular and incendiary incident with a can of compressed air and a faulty furnace (yes, also most likely another blog post) Dana arrived late, a little crispy around the edges, but properly bandaged and bearing our evening’s libations. He was primed with pain meds, but David and I had taken the precaution of blunting our trepidacious tummies with the contents of a bottle of champagne (a Nicolas Feuillatte Cuvee Palmes d’Or 1996, a gift from Dana and a really incredible bottle of wine, btw.), so we were all three buzzily excited when we finally sat down around 10 p.m. for our official celebration.

David and Dana

The first order of business, according to Tradition, is to say a blessing, called the Selkirk Grace or the Kircudbright Grace, made famous by Burns who recited it for the Earl of Selkirk near Kircudbright.

Some hae meat and canna eat
And some wad eat that want it
But we hae meat and we can eat
And sae the Lord be thankit

Next up: the grand event! David, bless his heart, had not only undertaken cooking the entire dinner (hey, I did make the salad) but had also spent weeks learning the infamous Burns’ poem, “Address to a Haggis.” According to ritual, after the salad (or first course), the haggis is born in triumphantly (ahem) on a platter, accompanied by bagpipe music. The host then lauds the haggis with Burns’ immortal tribute.

Me and Dana

David may have cheated a little by having the poem pulled up his Blackberry
(ahh, modern technology) but executed it with such zeal and such an admirable brogue, that Dana and I were stunned into silence. (Well, to be honest, we were mostly stunned from two bottles of excellent Chardonnay, a 2002 Darioush Reserve, and if you listen to the video we took of the night, the “silence” part is also a little questionable.) Needless to say, we were pretty impressed.

Address to a Haggis
Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o’ the puddin-race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy of a grace
As lang’s my arm.
The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hudies like a distant hill,
Your pin wad help to mend a mill
In time o’ need,
While thro’ your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead.
His knife see rustic Labour dight,
An’ cut ye up wi’ ready slight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
Like onie ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Warm-reeking, rich!
Then horn for horn, they stretch an’ strive:
Deil tak the hindmost, on they drive,
Till a’ their weel-swall’d kytes belyve
Are bent like drums;
Then auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
‘Bethankit!’ hums.
Is there that owre his French ragout,
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad mak her spew
Wi perfect scunner,
Looks down wi’ sneering, scornfu’ view
On sic a dinner?

David’s Address to A Haggis

Poor devil! see him owre his trash,
As feckless as a wither’d rash,
His spindle shank a guid whip-lash,
His nieve a nit;
Tho’ bluidy flood or field to dash,
O how unfit.
But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread,
Clap in his walie nieve a blade,
He’ll make it whistle;
An’ legs, an’ arms, an’ heads will sned
Like taps o’ thrissle.
Ye pow’rs, wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o’ fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware,
That jaups in luggies;
But if ye wish her gratfu’ prayer,
Gie her a Haggis!

The poem ends with a dramatic (and somewhat violent) stabbing of the Haggis (I presume to let out the steam, but knowing what goes into traditional haggis, my thought is it probably originated as a precaution). I have to say, David did a spectacular job – the Neo-Haggis was really quite tasty and I went back for seconds of Neeps N Tatties!

We paired the entree with Dana’s contribution of a 2000 Darioush Reserve Cabernet –truly an exceptional wine (not that we were in any perceived danger of dehydration by then) which David broke up with shots of Johnny Walker Black Label Scotch for inspiration.

Enjoying an amazing meal

The evening’s framework cust0marily calls for more toasts and speeches, including a toast to Burns’ Immortal Memory and a “Toast to the Lassies” to which I had prepared the counter-toast, the “Reply to the Laddies,” (“Down with trousers! Up with kilts!”) but it was so late by the time we’d finished dinner that we decided to save them for next year. It was a truly lovely night, dare I say say intoxicating, in every way, with great companionship and wonderful food and wines. What a fun, fabulous and incredible ode to our heritage!

Now, on to Hogmanay!

The Nano Poblano Oddly Specific Gratitude Blog Hop

Thank you so much, Ann from The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally for tagging me (and the kind words)!  I sorta went rogue last week and began posting about odd and random things I am grateful for, so I should be warmed up and ready to go.

Here are the rules:

hop

 

  1. Add to the list with your own oddly specific bits of gratitude. Add as few or as many things as you’d like. Include a picture or two if you’d like… but you certainly don’t have to. Put your name at the top of the list to see where yours started and the next blogger’s begins.
  2. Tag the post with the usual pepper tags and oddly specific gratitude. 
  3. Tag another pepper to add to the list by linking to their About page, but there’s a catch! When you tag the next blogger, be sure to include a bit about why you’re grateful to be in the same blogging world with them.:) (Try not to tag anyone who has already been tagged that way more people get to join in the fun.) The List of Oddly Specific Gratitude

Nerd in the Brain:

1. the smell of wild onions when I mow the lawn
2. coffee makers (having the coffee already prepared in the mornings is magical)
3. the way my crazy dog barks likes a vicious beast at the horses across the road, but then cowers behind me like a needy wimp whenever a horse actually comes close
4. hearing my husband talk on the phone to the rest of his team at work… it reminds me that he’s not just my silly, sweet, awesome husband… he’s also my competent, responsible, highly skilled husband
5. opening a blank lesson plan book and imagining the possibilities to come
6. sausage balls
7. watching Grace’s enthusiasm for all things musical
8. the way I can hear a smile on Olivia’s face whenever we say hello or goodbye on the phone
9. knitting with really soft, squishy yarn

Not a Punk Rocker

10. Getting a random text when Matthew is in cell-signal range. (“Hi”)
11. Awesome stuff in the mail, including Legos and letters from friends, making me smile when I need it the most at the end of a long day.
12. Cherry chapstick.
13. Somebody found my blog by searching for “deadpool talks about political social issues” yesterday.
14. Skype and chat for keeping me in touch with friends in “real-time” when one or the other of us needs it the most.
15. Finding new blogs to read and follow through this challenge!

Jackie P (tobreathistowrite)

16. Having friends like I do here in the blogging world. You all make my days brighter.
17. My dog Sam. He loves me unconditionally, wish more people could love like that. Plus, he makes me laugh daily.
18.Coffee. Without it the world would be a much sadder and thirsty place. And I would be a much harder person to deal with.
19. All the bright and cheerful colors around. Something about bright colors makes me happy. The gold of the sun, the cerulean blue of the sky, the wonder of a rainbow, they never cease to make me glad I’m alive.
20. Books…… you all know what I mean.

Fish of Gold

21. Spell check. Even though it did just strangely try to correct my horribly botched spelling of “another” to “Antoine.” I don’t even know anyone named Antoine, spell check.
22. I’m grateful to myself for being the sucker who couldn’t walk away from my dog’s cage at the animal rescue. My failure to do so has converted 70 dog pounds into a metric ton of joy and unconditional love.
23. Male’s hilariously failed attempts at sexting.
24. My sense of humor. I wouldn’t have survived this long without it.
25. To the Peppers for continuing my harebrained Nano Poblano Blog Hop Story idea and turning it into something unexpectedly awesome. Go Team Pepper
26.I also second #18.

Knocked Over by a Feather

27. My aunts Oreo truffles. They are addictive.
28. Finding my comfy spot in bed.
29. Receiving a spontaneous real hug from my daughter, which rarely happens.
30. Watching stupid TV with my husband.
31. Hearing my mom call me sweetie or something similarly saccharine sweet on the phone

Mental Mama ( Mental in the Midwest)

32. the world’s best tiny mommy
33. Evie and Sissy Cats
34. lithium, depakote, and gabapentin
35. the world’s most amazing support network
36. good dark chocolate, preferably with cherries
37. the jumbo margaritas at Romeo’s – lime, on the rocks, extra salt

Mark Bialczak

38. My dear wife Karen for buying me two season tickets for Syracuse University football six years ago, going to every game with me (but one when she went on a cruise) since and turning home game Saturdays into Happy Happy days win or lose. 39. That Ellie B aka Dogamous Pyle usually looks like this on the end of the living room couch and her specially covered ottoman daily come 10 p.m. after a day of enthusiastically ruling our Syracuse city home we call Little Bitty

Ellie B

40. That Karen talked me into going to the Paws for the Cause rescue dog event that March day four years ago when we saw Ellie marching around in her orange “Adopt Me” vest.
41.That my daughter Elisabeth was smart enough and confident enough and brave enough to go back to school this fall to get her associate’s degree and New York State certificate to become a physical therapist’s assistant, 2 1/2 years after getting her bachelor’s in biology.
42. That writing every day on markbialczak.com since Oct. 27, 2013 has turned out to be so much fun.
43.That Sheena Not a Punk Rocker talked me into hosting Nano Poblano this year, allowing me to meet so many interesting new bloggers! Wait. I want to add two more exclamation points to this one!!

Coulddoworse (Rachel or Lundygirl)

44. The park that I walk through four mornings a week

2014-11-04 08.24.10

45. Iced fingers

2014-11-01 10.11.55

46. Crochet and blogging; though never at the same time

SAM_1463

47. making something beautiful

SAM_1329

48. flowers

SAM_1167

49. Hot toasted sandwiches with my family on a very rainy bank holiday.

toast

50. beauty that you see in the detail

SAM_0819

51. Great memories to mull over and enjoy.

SAM_0116

Notes Tied On The Sagebrush

52. I am grateful that I was able to copy this whole list with pictures and get it pasted on to my post without messing it up at all, I hope.
53. I am grateful for my kids xoxo, and my husband xoxo
54. I am grateful to read good books, and watch good films
55. Good food, good wine and good friends
56. That I live in the state of California, USA
57. Discussions with my blogger friends and getting their support for my writing

Linda G. Hill – Life in Progress

58. That moment when I’m not aware that I’m falling asleep.
59. The one Smartie (candy-coated chocolate) that tastes slightly different than every other one in the box.
60. #18 – on this list, not the number eighteen.
61. That my children are alive.
62. Whatever it is that compels me to write; specifically to tell stories.

Idiot Writer ~ Idiot Writing :

63. Poetry (obviously) – mostly my poetry – I need it – lots to say things I cannot say any other way.
64. The Sun – when it shines in the UK.
65. The cheap chocolate bars I found! (and so do not feel guilty buying)
66. The fire-place – though I hate the smoke it emits.
67. Figuring out how to pump the tyre on my car yesterday.
68. Internet – SPEcifiCALLY – finding WordPress.
69. Saturdays – Cos I do not drive on Saturdays. Usually.
70. The sound system in my car – and my teens choice of music…it COULD have been – so so – not good.
71. I nearly forgot about SALT. Salt has so many uses! I am eternally grateful that salt – AND potatoes exist.

Last but not least...or rather first

72. Last but not least…or rather first – EVER so, very grateful – that Linda has wine. 😛

Doobster418

I’m grateful for:

73. The 11 bloggers who came up with 72 oddly specific items for which they are grateful, leaving me to really stretch to come up with anything new or different.
74. That said, I wish to second, third, or fourth (I’ve lost count) #18. COFFEE!
75. God, the almighty creator of everything and everyone, for granting in me the wisdom to…oh damn, the devil made me write that. Never mind.
76. Those rare days when I’m able to sleep later than 6 a.m.
77. My wife, for being a wonderful mother who stayed home to raise two great kids while I was off doing my worky-thing.
78. San Francisco weather, because it never snows, never gets below freezing, and never gets really hot and muggy.
79. My health, except for my vertigo, tinnitus, and my current lameness due to plantar fisciitis. But otherwise, my health is pretty damn good.
80. My blog and the fellow bloggers I interact with on pretty much a daily basis.
81. iTunes
82. The Oxford comma and those who use it.

Lucy at the Excessive Gardener 

I am grateful for :

83. I am so grateful for Evernote. Those of us who use and cherish it know why life is so much better. I am really grateful that I spend the few dollars each month for the premium version.
84. Golden Retrievers. My Golden, Roger, died years ago and I still miss him. I live with a Golden, my roommate’s, and he is a joy and a pain to live with but he is proof that if you know one Golden Retriever, you know them all.
85. My new knee. How wonderful it is to walk without pain. I can hardly wait to have the other knee replaced.
86. The drug Avastin. The FDA withdrew approval of the chemo drug for breast cancer, which means insurance companies won’t cover it, and it is not cheap.  I was lucky and got in on clinical trials for Avastin. It saved my life.
87. That I live in Florida, right where I want to be: minutes from white, sandy beaches and warm Gulf waters and only 2 hours to Disney World.
88.  Better World Books.  If you know it, you know what I mean.
89. Quad Core.
90. Defensive gardening. There’s nothing more satisfying than out-smarting a bug or an animal.

Now my list:

91. I’ll start by saying what goes without saying but should be said anyway:  I’m grateful for my husband Mark, my family, and my friends.

92. I’m grateful that I live in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis-St. Paul) of Minnesota. We have an amazing combination of abundant cultural opportunities, a highly educated and literate population, PLUS endless amounts of parks, lakes, bike trails, you name it.  We need the horrific winters to keep out the riffraff.

93. I’m grateful for having a job that provides me opportunity for (partially) subsidized travel experiences.

94. As everyone else said, #18 (coffee!)

95. I’m grateful for books! So many books!  So many writers with so many words!  As long as I have the capacity to read, I’ll never be bored.

96. I’m grateful that my husband has the best hobby ever: in his spare time, he makes furniture out of wood in our garage.  He loves doing it and I love the furniture he makes for me.  Talk about win-win!

Mark made this for me!

97.  I am grateful for the internet, which provides me with the opportunity to blog and to meet all of you amazing bloggers. I’m particularly grateful for the Nano Poblano Peppers for the sense of community y’all have been providing this month.

98. Cats! I’m grateful for my kitties Tennessee and Zelda for being such cute and cuddly pains in the butt.

Tennessee and Zelda

Me – Who Am I

I’m grateful for:

99. Warmth! When it’s -10 outside, I’m grateful for a heater that works.
100. We made it to 100! I feel privileged to be the one who fills this one out.
101. My son. He shows me the world in a way that no one else can.
102. Fellow bloggers and the wonderful community we have here.
103. Today I’m grateful for today; a day that I may not have had.
104. Fruit. Fruit does a body good.
105. Sleep, finally! Insomnia is terrible.

Me Next – Chatter Master

106.  Not having a body temperature of 94 degrees.

107.  Fat baby cheeks that split in to super wide grins and smiles with various numbers of teeth-when they see me.

108.  That moment at the end of the day when I know I’m done “doing” all that I am going to do for the day and there are those peaceful few minutes of quiet and relaxing with my husband.

109.  Saying “I love you” at the end of phone calls and visits and not feeling awkward about it.  And knowing my kids don’t either because I raised them with it being easy to say “I love you”.

110.  Remembering a song from childhood and thinking no one else in the world knows it, only to Youtube it and there it is!

111.  People.   Good people.  I’m so very thankful for good people.

Pssst!  It’s me, Ann Koplow, from The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally, trying to let go of judgment and add my list of oddly specific gratitudes, starting with #112, which is a number I have no particular associations with:

112.  Numbers and other things I have no particular associations with, since I love seeing things in a new light, letting go of baggage from the past.

113. Numbers and other things that I do have particular associations with, since I love things that have been in my life, up to this point.

114. Even though #112 and #113 cover everything in the universe (at least the way I think), I am also oddly specifically grateful for the way I think.

115.  Everybody who had ever read my blog or anybody else’s blog, which may seem oddly general instead of oddly specific, at this point.  (I’ve been in a very feisty mood lately, so I would like to see ANYBODY give me a difficult time about how I’m choosing to participate here.)

116. My cats, including Oscar, shown here moments after he accidentally accessed Siri — the alleged “personal helper” on my iPhone —  having about as much luck getting help from her as I usually do:

IMG_2389

117. My keyboard (pictured) and my fingers (not pictured):

IMG_2390

118. Photos I take accidentally with my iPhone, like that one directly above.

119. People I meet during the day who are willing to engage in an authentic, open way, even if only for a moment, like Kenny

IMG_2391

who stands guardian at the parking lot where I get my medical care, where I’ve been needing to go to several appointments lately because nobody knows what the hell is going on with my health.

120.  My memory, which allows me to quote, accurately enough, dialogs I have with people like Kenny, such as:

Kenny (obviously using the memorized script he has to say to every driver who enters the parking lot since, apparently, people are parking there who shouldn’t be): Do you have an appointment here?  Are you a patient?

Me (making an exaggerated sad face, because I REALLY DON’T WANT TO BE GOING TO A MEDICAL APPOINTMENT and then nodding “yes” slowly, saying nothing).

Kenny: (after a brief pause) Oh.

Me:  Do you believe me?

Kenny: No.

… which cheered me up considerably and resulted in my Literally Laughing Out Loud.

121. My memory, which allows me to recall another thing Kenny said to me, after I Laughed Out Loud: “You have a good day, sweetie.” (Yes, I know this is supposed to be a list of Oddly Specific Gratitude, not Oddly Repetitive Gratitude, but please see #115, above.)

122. The room to have all my feelings, including sadness, humor, fear,  disappointment, annoyance, gratitude, etc. etc. etc.

123.  The opportunity to end lists (at least my portion of them)

_____________________________________

After I published this post, I realized I forgot to include something, for which I am NOT oddly specifically grateful:

Michael’s cooking. On what planet would it be odd to be grateful for that?

 

Kim at Drunk on Life

Not sure if I start with “123.” or “124.” if I include Ann’s postscript?
I’ll go “124.” so…

124. My warm, fuzzy Sasquatch slippers

20141125_180303_resized

 

 

 

 

 

125. Sunsets from the terrace at my loft.

531780_10151210973652561_563796738_n

126. A fire in the fireplace on chilly Sunday mornings, especially if accompanied by #127/#18

127. #18 (Coffee ) even more so with an upgrade (a little Bailey’s Irish Cream)

128. My sister-cousins Patti and Christa.  Let me be clear that “Sister-cousins” are not a weird Southern relationship like an “Uncle Daddy.”  It’s merely cousins that are more like sisters and mine are a wonderful part of my life.

129. Making jewelry.  I don’t do it much anymore, usually just for gifts around the holidays, but I like working with beautiful materials and the soothing feeling you get while working with your hands (and letting your brain go wander).

549222_401289146559098_523626606_n

130. That awesome feeling when you get “your hairs did” as we say in the South.  Going to the salon, getting a shampoo with a scalp massage, a glossy new cut and color and the fabulous super-shiny blowout that makes you feel like a rockstar for the rest of the day until you sleep on your glorious new “do” and wake up in the morning looking like a haystack (i.e. back to normal).

131. The good things about Christmas (not the commercial, mass media stuff). Christmas music, candles, Christmas trees and all the sparkly holiday decor, parties, party dresses, cookies, old movies, feeling festive…most of all being with friends and family and the stuff that’s all still a little magical.

20141125_180333_resized

132. Nano Poblano and Team Pepper.  The support and comments and community are wonderful and I have greatly appreciated being a part of it.

The List of Oddly Specific Bloggers

Nerd in the Brain
Not a Punk Rocker
To Breath is to Write
Fish of Gold
Knocked Over by a Feather
Mental in the Midwest
Markbialczak.com
Coulddoworse
Deborah at Notes Tied on the Sagebrush
Linda at Life In Progress
Idiot Writer
Mindful Digressions
The Excessive Gardener
Booking It

Me – Who Am I.

The Chatter Blog

The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally

Drunk on Life

I would like to nominate grandmalin of Breathing Space if she will do the honors.  I really enjoy seeing her art every day – she’s very talented!

Treasuring My Family

Today’s WP Photo Challenge asks you to post a photo that symbolizes something that is a particular treasure to you, not necessarily diamonds or gold, but a thing dear to your heart.

The "Stroh-gersons, both our families celebrating Christmas and the wedding together.

The “Stroh-gersons, both our families celebrating Christmas and the wedding together.

My treasure is my family, both old and new.

I had a very small family growing up. My Dad, my Mom and my sister, our grandparents, maybe a random but beloved cousin here and there. A particularly lovely Aunt comes to mind. Overall, a pretty small group.

My husband has a very large family.

When I married him two years ago, I acquired a most awesome Mom and Dad-in-Law, three Sister’s in Law, 11 nieces and nephews, 2 grandnieces and 1 grandnephew. Plus a fabulous cousin to add to the mix.

10255207_10152183337687561_3486426466798358344_n

The most wonderful thing is everyone not only gets along, but genuinely likes each other. We’ve had some amazing family vacations and I’m coming to cherish each of them as I would my own family.

It’s a treasure that was also a gift – I am grateful for all of them.

Every day I write the book

I just realized that I unwittingly (a somewhat normal condition) swiped my theme of “Odd Things to be Grateful For” from the lovely Nerd in the Brain’s “Oddly Specific Gratitude” Blog Hop.

My humble apologies, Nerd in the Brain – it’s just a really awesome idea and it somehow burrowed into my subconscious to fit the trend my writing was following. If you don’t mind, please, I’d like to keep it, since I fully believe that showing gratitude opens the door for more wonderful things to come into your life.

An excellent reminder of things I am thankful for can be found in our “KAVID, The Year in Pictures” photo books. (KAVID being my husband David’s and my “Celebrity Couple Nickname” in the tradition of Brangelina, TomCat and Bennifer- although hopefully without the accompanying ick factor.)

20141123_105546_resized

Each year, as a gift to David, I put together a Snapfish book composed of sequential pictures and memories from the previous Christmas all the way to Thanksgiving (which is about the time I have to order the book to get it in time to put under this year’s tree.)

20141123_113410_resized

I try to dedicate at least a page to every major occasion, vacation, special dinner or party we share with family and friends.

20141123_113515_resized

When I’ve had a particularly unfriendly day or am just a little down in the dumps, I like to browse through them, savoring memories of wonderful times and remembering how blessed I am to have these people in my life.

So today, I’d like to be notably grateful to have these journals of so much love and happiness.

And to be thankful that every day, in words, actions and interactions, we continue to write the book.