Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Not a Creature Was Stirring.....Not Even a Mouse!

You know what they say, don't you?

It's either feast or famine.

The famine has begun....in more ways than one.

We're contemplating joining J on her next ship assignment, so I need to fit into a bathing suit. How can you spend 7 days in the Caribbean, with a cabin that has a balcony and not sunbathe at least a little? So, in that regard, the fasting begins!

It's very quiet here on New Year's Eve Day. So, the famine of sound is occurring in our home today!

We're going to have the traditional pork roast dinner with all the trimmings on New Year's Day. Dad's coming over and we'll just kick back and enjoy the day. I have to work Friday, so the quieter the better I suppose. I've preposted these past few posts so that I could catch up....so, I'll be back in a few days.

Happy New Year to all my family. I love you more than you know, really.

And to my friends; old and new......thanks for being in my life. You provide me happiness and balance; love and companionship. And for that, I am truly thankful.


White and Wintery, Wordless Wednesday............


Reading More

I've been reading a lot more lately and not just book discussion titles either!

For the holiday season, I read "The Gift" by Richard Paul Evans and I also read "The Handmaid and the Carpenter" by Elizabeth Berg. I enjoyed that one very much.

I read "Girl With a Pearl Earring" by Tracy Chevalier in High School and I recently re-read it. We're doing it at book discussion next month and I think that I'll take the movie also for them to see - they might like that.

If you like Top Chef the reality show on Bravo, you'll love the "Top Chef Cookbook". Not only does it have the recipes (that you'll never make because they have about a thousand ingredients in each recipe) but it has all the stats and bios for the chefs for all but this last season. It's interesting.

I put a couple of the titles I've recently read on the shelf.

Try one..............

Guess Who's Coming, But Not For Dinner???

It's true.......our friend Paula is coming in a couple of days.....YEA. She and Kim are driving from Michigan back to New Jersey after a holiday visit home.

Can't wait to give her a big squeeze.........

This was last spring on a beach somewhere in the Bahamas !

Wordless Wednesday......


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

And So it Continued....Both Day and Night....

Irish Dancing, that is!!!


My "GRAND NIECE" took first place at the Southern Region Oireachtas in her Ceili. How lucky for her that the Oireachtas was held in Orlando this year.......


The trophy is bigger than they are.


But, her teacher looks mighty pleased, doesn't she?


That's my niece in the middle (with the medal on) - the gorgeous one!


Congratulations

Fa La La La Lovely.............

Well, I'm behind and so I have a lot to catch up with........I've been neglecting my blog which I regret and I'm glad that so many of you mentioned that you missed it! We have been busy here, though. The holidays are a consuming time, aren't they? Once you start shopping for the Thanksgiving Turkey, you can count on not getting any rest until New Year's Day.


It's been a great holiday season and we have much to be thankful for at our house. We're working and healthy and want for little. Both girls have been home and they have been especially happy to be reunited and catch up. I can hardly believe it's time, but tomorrow, kClare returns to ISU to spend the New Year with her friends and have a few days to rest up and prepare for her next semester.



But, it's been an adjustment having four adults in the house again. There's so much STUFF! The washer and dryer are screaming at me...."HEY, what's going on here? I thought we had an agreement to only work one day a week now that we're semi-retired!!" We've also bonded once again with the people at the grocery store.......they wondered where we'd been.



I am mostly glad that the girls are getting some time to rest from their busy lives. kClare's schedule is stressfully demanding and I'm glad that she had this short time to regroup. She had a very good semester academically - there's a lot of technical work that goes along with her program, so it's challenging. She's taking classes in areas that she's never had any training or previous schooling and she's doing great.



Dad's doing great - he got through the Christmas holiday with gusto. Christmas Day is Mom's birthday and he had a little trouble at the cemetery on Christmas Day, but it's okay....it's what's supposed to happen. It will happen to all of us and he's a good teacher; a good example of how we handle these things. The grandchildren helped him out by decorating his tree with him. I think they had a good time and I know he appreciated it and is very proud of them all.



The St. Clarence Choir got together at the Morgan's for our annual Christmas party and it was a fun evening with friends and good food, although I missed Pat and Gerry....they couldn't be there. This is a picture of L and I at the party and J took this one of my choir on Christmas Eve.


The Choir on Christmas Eve.



L's brother, Nick came to town to celebrate some December birthdays and we got together for dinner. kClare was coming home from school that day and met us at the Red Lobster on a Sunday afternoon before Christmas. I was really hoping to get the family together for Christmas Eve, but everyone is so busy and they have their own families to celebrate with. So, we get together when we can. Happy Birthday C & M.........



Christmas Eve came quickly after that.....all the preparations and cooking provided a meal that is very anticipated and well worth all the time. Getting the pyrohy for our Christmas Eve feast gets more and more challenging each year. We try to talk ourselves in to making our own, but quickly relent to the "studda-bubba's" who diligently mold the pyrohy at the Ukrainian Youth Home. They are like the little Santa elves at the North Pole (I do believe, I do believe, I do believe) - you arrive at the place and there are dozens of older Grandma type ladies, in their hairnets making pyrohies for the many Yankees coming to pick them up.


With the pyrohy, we have fish, barley, lima beans, sauer kraut and a flat bread. This year, L decided to make individual little breads for each person and it was a well received idea - especially by McKeely. She dove into her little bread like crazy. Last year, she ate as many pyrohy as her father and I'm not so sure she was as excited by the pyrohy this time. I think she was rather looking for some chicken mc nuggets. And then, the desserts were a big hit as always followed by the very coveted gift giving segment of the evening. The evening seems to go so fast - really. Christmas is more about the traditions of Christmas Eve for our children than anything else. If we did nothing on Christmas Day, they would still feel that their Christmas was complete. So, we're happy to provide such deep rooted traditions. I often wish that I'd paid more attention to some of the food cooking techniques that L's mother used. For instance, she always put a couple of potatoes in with the sauer kraut when she cooked it.....but I don't know why (other than maybe the starch of the potato might thicken the water). And, I do it, but it doesn't seem to make a difference AND, the potato never cooks up. I could cook that sauer kraut for 2 hours and the potato pieces would still be hard. What's up with that?


And, of course, we've modernized things a bit over the years. Christmas Eve, in the Ukrainian Catholic Church was (or, I'm not sure, maybe still is) a "Black Fast" day - so no meat or dairy. ALL day! That was a strange one for this Roman Catholic, Irish girl. No cream in my morning coffee. No butter on my toast....no toast! Because it was made with butter in it. And, everything led up to the meal. Afterwards, all holy heck broke loose. The coffee creamer came out; the chocolates and the butter for the nut rolls! YUM. L made the most luscious nut rolls this year. I do believe they are better than his mother's if that's possible. And now, we don't follow the black fast and we also have added some things to our feast table that were previously a no-no....sour cream and ketchup for the pyrohy, tartar sauce for the fish and butter for the bread.


Preparing the Feast:

J's boyfriend stopped by on Christmas Eve......







McKeely shares a story with kClare and Cam shows his newest Nascar addition

Dad came for breakfast on Christmas Day. I made a french toast casserole which turned out great and the girls finally got up around 9:30. We opened our gifts and then I took Dad out to the cemetery while L prepared the clover rolls for dinner. We had a wonderful dinner at Marty and Cindy's - the whole family was there. This is a picture of the girls with their cousin's dog. And, NO, I am not giving into the whole dog thing again.....I did that once and it's over. Boo-Hoo, get over it.





As part of her birthday gift, I treated J to a full day of scrapbooking at the Archivers in town. Both girls are working on albums of their trips, so it was a very productive day. We were there about six hours at the store and then the girls continued at home and got lots done. J looks a little overwhelmed by all the "stuff" and pictures.

This past Saturday was the annual Mangan family Christmas Party. It's our 12th year, I think, and our family continues to grow. Not everyone attends, but most do and the group photo is the younger ones of the family and then my own family with Dad. And, that about does it for now. kClare returns to school tomorrow. One of the cast from J's NCL Jade show is passing through town tomorrow on her way to Chicago and will stop for the night. She and J will be in Chicago for New Year's Eve - how fun is that?












L & I ?


We'll be enjoying the peace and quiet of home.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Blogging - vs - Facebook..............

My girls are always talking about all their friends on "facebook" and pictures, weddings, graduations, parties etc. They would often say "Mom, you should see so-n-so's wedding pictures on facebook".....then, we'd get busy and they'd leave home and not show me anything (I'm also waiting for Clare to rethread my serger, too!).

Hence, I started on facebook. I actually started on facebook incognito - the kids laugh at me for that....until I realized I couldn't see any pictures that way. I didn't really think I belonged on facebook and I didn't want to be there for any other reason than to see these pictures the girls were always talking about. So, I had to come clean - stop hiding out - show my face on facebook. I always felt out of place on facebook anyway...I'm not making any business connections and other than a few family members, I don't know anyone else on facebook.

But, it was especially beneficial having the facebook account when Clare went to school and I could see her costume designs and accomplishments on facebook. And, with J on the boat I got to see some of the most beautiful countryside in the world through her facebook.

However, I began to neglect my blog, which I love playing with and people say they miss. I wondered why I wasn't finding the time to blog. I haven't posted since the beginning of December and everyday that went by, it bothered me a little. Then I figured out it was a combination of holiday AND facebook. So, I'm giving up facebook (obviously, I'm not giving up the presents and the whole holiday thing!). I've removed my face from facebook, or it will be down shortly because I really only have time for the blog.

I've directed people on facebook to my blog, so if you are a new visitor, welcome - come back often - tell me that you've been here and leave a comment.

Bloggers live for the comments!

I have a lot to catch up on, but right now, it's time for bed.........




Monday, December 8, 2008

Costumes by kClare.........

Just one of the shows that kClare designed and built costumes for..........


Cute........I'm so proud!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Girly Gathering........

Wine and Kitchen Gadgets...........would could be more fun?

Friday, I hosted a Pampered Chef/Wine & Cheese party. It worked out really well.....I got a bunch of women drunk and they bought all kinds of kitchen tools!
Really......we all had a wonderfully fun time.
We sampled several wines: Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Grigio, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and a Merlot. For the most part, from vineyards that I'd never tried....all economically priced and readily available. Nothing exotic or extravagant.
Diane (who is a friend of one of my sister-in-laws) sells Pampered Chef and so we coupled together to throw the first party of the holiday month. Party attendees were very generous with their orders......and I'm embarrassingly grateful. I mean, really, I don't need another kitchen gadget....L might, but not me :) I've wanted to have a wine and cheese party for a long time and it just never happened and I figured this might be the perfect opportunity

Here's a couple pictures from Friday night:






And, on Saturday evening, I attended a benefit for a family in the parish. The 42 year old Dad passed away after suffering a heart attack and left his wife and 5 small children. All under 12. They were in attendance at the benefit; she came around to each table to thank everyone and share some time with each table. The kids actually had a ball......it was an Irish Hoolie of epic proportions. A couple of Irish bands, raffles galore, Irish Dancers, set dancing, side bar drawings and an Irish tea shop. Hopefully, it will provide the family with the funds to enjoy a bright moment or two during this holiday season.

Here's a picture of one of the bands............


And, Dad with his friend, John.............

Some of the dancers......the little boys are SOOOO cute.......



kClare will be home at the end of the week which is good because jJoy is getting terribly bored without towel animals and room service! Also, her boyfriend is in California on business, so she's doubly bored!


I know that kClare will be happy to have this semester behind her. She's in the "drama" department, afterall.


We've begun the ceremonial baking of the cookies....the ones we say we're "just not going to bake or eat" EVERY SINGLE year. But, it's time, and it doesn't feel right if we don't make them.


And, there's just enough snow to make it pretty. So......carry on, as we watch and wait for the glorious coming.

J (No Longer) on the Jade..............

On the last cruise that jJoy did, she was invited to sing a cabaret show.

Most of what she's been doing with Second City on the ship was improv comedy and some singing. But, this was a chance to highlight her singing. Here is one of the "YouTube" videos from that show. There are several more, so if you're interested, you can navigate around on YouTube, and you'll find them.

We're a pretty musical family....the girls are always singing or playing music....they always have. And, when jJoy was a freshman her music teacher sorta "discovered" her voice, describing her as her "first student to ever have such perfect pitch". J had a solo in the final program of that year and L was out of town at the time, but I was there, with our trusty 500 lb VHS video camera! to capture it. I had to come home and call L at his hotel and play it for him.....neither of us had any idea. This was a voice that we'd not heard before then.

This is that song she sang that night of her freshman year.........she's come a long way.

It's wonderful getting to hear her sing once again - it's been awhile and I've missed it.
I hope you enjoy it.


Saturday, December 6, 2008

Then There's This One................

One of J's new, bestest, boat friends: EVAN.....................

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Well, She's Finally Home............

After several flight delays, jJoy has arrived back in town safe and sound around 2 AM on Monday. They misdirected a piece of her luggage, but it too arrived safe and sound the next morning. It was a very long day for her, she'd been up 24 hours by the time we saw her. She had a good night's sleep and she's been on the go ever since, catching up with friends and family and foods she missed.




jJoy's friend from High School, Holly came over with her son, Jacob for a visit.
It was so great to see her and her son is a delight - she's a great Mom.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Turkey Leftovers...........

are put away............

kClare is safely back at ISU after her 8 hour drive.........yikes. It was so fun having her here for the week even though she worked on school projects.

we are right now, "tracking" jJoy's flight from London.....she arrives here around midnight.........(I wonder what time her BODY will think it is?) We haven't seen her since March 17th!

we're just about finished with the holiday decorating......

and, once again, we have so much to be thankful for.

Back in February, I found this video on YouTube and posted it just because it was fun.....now it's very seasonal. It's a group called "Straight, No Chaser", a male a capella group out of Indiana University....they're delightful and fun......enjoy.



Today, is the first Sunday in Advent and tomorrow is December 1st, so, let the merriment commence.

Friday, November 28, 2008

It Was a Thankful, Thanksgiving, Thursday.......

On Wednesday, we spent most of the day cleaning and preparing food for the Turkey Feast on Thursday. We tried a few new recipes: Wild Mushroom Soup (which was a keeper); Mushroom Stuffing (not Mom's traditional and definitely NOT a keeper); and a Weight Watcher roasted brussel sprouts recipe (which was good, but not worth all the prep hassle). We had many helpers at our feast and we're very thankful for the help and the chance to gather once again as a family. Some helpers: I especially enjoy seeing the cousins; it's exciting for them and they always seem to have a great time together. Some of the cousins:
Later in the day, we "i-chatted" with J aboard her ship. I think she said she had nachos for dinner......that is so not right on Thanksgiving. But it was fun and she got to see Papa who she misses. She's SO ready to come home....she showed us her packed suitcases on the bed. Everyone gathered around the computer to "chat" with jJoy:


While we were waiting for more family to arrive, L brought out really old slides (ancient, according to my nephew Owen....just wait, Owen, you'll see!).
We enjoyed desserts and coffee before everyone headed home.
It was a relatively early night and we did the last of the clean up quickly and then kClare and I sat down and started going through the "Black Friday" ads and on the computer when all of a sudden, the power went out. Not to the whole house, but just to the zone where the kitchen, the loft and the master bathroom are. Very odd. So, down they went to reset circuit breakers without luck. We finally ended up calling our electric buddie, Joe and he gave us a few options and if those failed we should call the electric company. I guess there are two lines coming into the house and one could be damaged.
We appreciated that the electric company was at the house within an hour and after some serious banging around, the electric was back on.
Although we were able to run a long extension cord from the refrigerator to another outlet, it was worrisome that there might be something more serious wrong.

We got out and did some shopping this morning and now we're all supposed to be taking a nap before we begin the task of putting the tree up. I'll be happy if the tree is "standing" by nightfall.
We are enjoying having kClare home and although she has a paper to write, she's enjoying being home and being taken care of.
Here's kClare perusing the ads and getting up a plan for Friday:
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Hey There Girlfriend.............

Let us know when you get the old "thumbs up" for traveling.

Have a wonderfully, warm Thanksgiving. I'm thankful for your friendship and wish you good health and happiness. Give John a squeeze for us, too!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Today.............

is WORLD HELLO DAY.

So, HELLO, to you and yours

Check it out at http://www.worldhelloday.org/

Monday, November 17, 2008

This is a very exciting time of year....we are approaching Thanksgiving and the thought of cooking all the traditional foods is exciting. And around the corner will come Christmas. I'm so ready for Christmas this year, I feel a little embarrassed to be a part of all the retail hoopla! But, as soon as the leftover turkey is wrapped and in the refrigerator, that monster of a tree is going up! I've never felt the urge to move forward on Christmas quite so early as this year.

In less than a week, our K will be home from school for a week. Neither of my kids has had such an extended Thanksgiving break from school before - so it's great. She's feeling that "end of the semester" pressure and crunch. So the week home will do her good. She hasn't been home since August and she hasn't seen her sister since July.

And, in less than two weeks, our J will be home from her tour of duty on the Jade. We haven't seen J since St Patrick's Day! and it will be great to see her. She's going to stay with us for about two and a half months until she takes her next ship assignment on the Norwegian Dawn.

The girls will be like "ships passing" on Sunday however....K will leave to go back to school in the morning and J arrives around eleven PM that night. But, never fear.....K will return in two weeks for a month-long stay at home.....let the sibling bickering commence!

How can I help but be excited?

It's hard to believe that I've been at my new job for over a month now. The library is so fabulous and the staff is very dynamic. The branch manager is very professional and my supervisor is incredibly wonderful. I told L yesterday that I have YET to see her not smiling. And, not just smiling, but with one of those fabulous grins that just makes your day! You can tell just by looking at her that she is happy just being. She's been with the library for 25 years and to celebrate, we went out to eat and imbibe last Friday. It was nice to get together with the staff in such a social setting.....

My new boss, C.....doesn't she have a great smile?
And, A, works in my department also.

Some of the girls in the department............

I went to high school with one of the girls who works at my new branch, J on the left. And my good buddie, K...she used to work with me at my old branch so it's very fun having her at the new place.




J has been sailing this week with her cousin Kara. They left Istanbul, Turkey on November 6th and have been to Izmir (also in Turkey), Piraeus near Athens, Greece, Dubrovnik in Croatia, Venice, Italy for two days!, Naples in Italy and Civitavecchia in Italy. Civitavecchia is the "Rome" port. They spent today all day at sea and I guess it was rough - J emailed me that she just might get sea sick for the first time, the waves are that rough. So, we'll see how they make out. They end up in Barcelona tomorrow......what a trip, eh?




OH, and guess who said J's mass on Sunday????

That's right.......the POPE.
Man, she's living right!

YEP, that's the Papal Papa in the window.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

It's Turkey Month..........

Turkey and Thankfulness......

Thankful for my wonderful L.....Lanky, Leggy, Liberal, Loving, Lawfully wedded L....

Thankful that my brother M's surgery went well and that he'll soon be home and recovering with his family all around him.....

Thankful that I will see my J & K this month

Thankful for the over 50 years my Mom & Dad had together this month, even though she is no longer here

Thankful that family will be with us for our Turkey Feast

Thankful that I am enjoying my new post so well - they make it so EASY to love

Thankful that I have so much to be thankful for


This past weekend, we had dinner at the hands of Chef Martin. He's off to Florida this week to open a new Moxie restaurant in South Beach with the owners and a couple more chefs. He and fellow chef, Katie, treated us to lucious crab cakes, pork & pasta and lots of fabulous desserts.

Chefs Martin & Katie

Family......a bit blurry, but family all the same (I'm blaming it on the Guinness rather than the fact that I turned the flash off)

Younger generation of Diva Cousins.....

So, let the Thankful, Turkey month continue.........................

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Well, We're Back From the Mountains..............

It's been a crazy busy week........
My youngest has been devoured by Dracula........

My oldest is getting ready to welcome her cousin, Kara on her ship for a 13-day cruise.....

My new job is the best.............

We had dinner at Pat & Gerry's last weekend and it was very fun. We enjoy spending time with them and their home is lovely. Gerry's been working on their extra room - so he's very busy and we got to see all his progress.

I did two scrapbook workshops last weekend as well and they were fun and successful.

And, Dad gave up his car.....what a tough deal. He always said "whenever you kids think I should, you'll have no problems from me!" But still, it was a terrible ordeal going through the process. Is he virtually trapped now? Relying only on us. He still likes to keep busy, so, I guess we'll be keeping busy too.

So, but it gets me to my next point.....PJ came into town because he & J bought Dad's car and he came up to drive it back home. We had a fun but short weekend together.
Patrick Joseph and Patrick Joseph:


Papa and a few of his grandchildren.....I haven't been sleeping lately (which is how I started this blog in the first place!).....and it's lasting longer than usual. I haven't had a good night's sleep since last Wednesday. Sometimes I get only 4 hours of sleep which is not very many! I thought maybe I'd really catch up when we were in "the mountains" but, it didn't happen.

Speaking of our trip to "the mountains".....we went to Hocking Hills for a couple of days. For several years, we've wanted to go down there in the dead of winter when the snow is falling. (Of course, we wanted to drive down there in perfect weather, be there while it snowed for 48 hours straight and then drive back in perfect weather!!) But, a lot of the cabin places in the hills are unreachable in the winter unless you have 4-wheel drive. They don't want no city-slicker, lexus drivin people down there that can't git there stuff up the hill and then want their money back!!!! I understand.

We stayed at Bear Run Inn and Cabins on Bear Run Road in Logan, Ohio. There are hundreds and hundreds of cabin options in Hocking County and I can't believe our good fortune at picking one off the internet that was absolutely perfect in every way. We cannot wait to return. I'd forgotten what dark and quiet were all about. You can see the "Aspen Cabin" on their website at www.bearrun.com/aspen/cabin/htm. Of course, when we were picking out a place on the internet, we were wondering just HOW accurate the photos were. The pictures of this cabin on their website look like they could have been taken the morning we arrived. The cabin was perfect in every way.
While we were in Hocking, we wanted to go over to their park system and see some of the popular caves. But, we mostly wanted to be hermits and hang out the whole time, so, we picked one cave - the most popular, being "Old Man's Cave" and drove over. It was so beautiful that we decided to see whatever we could. We spent about 5 hours in the park hiking and climbing. If you ever, ever get the chance to go down there, it's very beautiful and worth seeing. The fall foliage made it even more beautiful.....just explosions of color everywhere we went.
The horses are on the cabin owners property.....640 acres......they give buggy, hay and sleigh rides throughout the year.

Cantwell Cliffs:

Beautiful color everywhere:

Cedar Falls:

Old Man's Cave:

But, we're home now, relaxed and with the energy to see us through the holiday season. And, it's time to replace the Halloween candy we ate for the little goblins on Friday. And, it's time to prepare the garden and the yard for winter.

My roses are blooming like crazy.....sort of screaming out "hey, don't forget me!"

As if !