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 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, 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!


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'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! 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 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.