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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

December Reflections

I missed 10 days of prompts because we took a quick vacation to visit family in Oregon.  It was a fun trip and nice to see my mother-in-law.  I'm going to do my best to catch up and end the year with one last post.  Here goes:

12/21:  Numbers:  I've finally admitted that I have diabetes so every morning I have started to check my blood sugar level.  Numbers are coming down, I'm happy to say. 

12/22:  Solstice Sunset:  It was raining and cloudy so I couldn't see the sunset.

12/23:  Delicious:  I've been making some really yummy meals from my Hungry Girl cookbook.  That has been helping me with lowering my blood sugar I'm sure. 

Strawberry Banana Pancakes

12/24:  One year ago:  Last year at this time we had a split Christmas as well since Bill was up visiting his mother.  

12/25:  Love is:  Family.  Good days and bad days, highs and lows, love keeps it all together.

12/26:  Real Life:  Five years ago the pipeline exploded in our little town.  We are a Wikipedia article now.  

12/27:  2015 taught me:  That no matter what happens, I need to take time for myself because I am no good to the rest of the family if my resources are depleted.  It also taught me that I am strong and I can survive whatever life wants to throw my way.

12/28:  A secret wish for 2016:  If I tell, it won't be a secret!

12/29:  Home:  Home is our castle in the sky.

12/30:  Thank you for:  Thank you for following along with my ramblings this year.  Thank you for commenting and sharing ideas.  

12/31:  My word for 2016:  FOCUS

In 2015 my word was Change.  There were definitely some changes made this year, both inside and out.  Now, in 2016, I need to Focus on some of those changes to make them sharper.  It's going to be a great year!  Hope you and your loved ones also have a most marvelous New Year.  Hope also that you will continue to take a minute and follow my little ramblings!  See you next year!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

2015 Reading Challenge - Book 17

Finished the Rolling Stones Interviews book.  It was not as interesting as I thought it might be and so it, too, took longer than I wanted.  I confess I skipped a few of the interviews of people I had really no interest in, but I'm still counting it because it was my "book of short stories."

I'm trying to get one more book in before the end of the year and I just might make it.  The book my daughter helped me find is...

This poor girl was kidnapped at age 11 and held captive for 18 years.  I started reading it on the plane coming home from our Christmas in Oregon and am already on page 101.  While I read it, I am thinking of my own two girls and how terrible it must have been for Jaycee's mother not to have known where she was for so long.  Not to mention the horrible feeling I get in the pit of my stomach reading what happened to Jaycee at the hands of her captors.  She is very strong to write this story.  I am counting it as my "book based on a true story."

I found at least two 2016 Book Challenge lists and am looking forward to giving it another go.  The first one is from Pop Sugar and that is where I found the list for this year.  Next year's list is:

There are only 40 books on this list, so if I choose this one and actually finish all 40, I'd pick some of the ones from the 2015 list that I didn't get to.  

But, I just found this list from Challies as well and now I am torn.  This list has four stages so you can pick how dedicated to reading you want to be.  This list has a lot of different types of books and includes religious ones, which the Pop Sugar one does not. However, there are enough other suggestions on the list so that if you are not interested in religious books, you'll still find plenty to choose from.  You don't have to stick within the four categories:  Light, Avid, Committed, Obsessed, you can just pick whichever ones you want.   

So there it is.  Whatever you decide, I'd love to hear about your books.  Feel free to leave me comments and/or find me on Goodreads (I am Scr4pl80).  Goodreads also has recommendations for books to read as part of a challenge.  

Happy reading!


Sunday, December 20, 2015

December Reflections

December 20  -- Warmth

I used to have to drive my daughter to school in the mornings.  It was sometimes VERY cold.  This is what I would look like:

Gloves, scarf around my head and neck and one of those blankets that zip up the front.  It was a wonder I was able to drive with all that stuff on.  Of course the heater would be on too but it takes a while for that to start working and we couldn't wait.

And now there is the cat to warm my feet at night while I am working on my scrapbooking.  Sometimes she climbs up on the bed and warms a spot there as well.  I don't mind!

How about you?  What's your warmth?

Saturday, December 19, 2015

December Reflections

December 18 and 19th

I missed posting yesterday.  I was so busy with work, I couldn't take the time.  That's a good thing.  My work is sporadic and I have to take what I get when I can get it.

The prompt had me a little stumped anyway.  It was "Circles."  Then, now, as I started to prepare for today's prompt I opened the pictures on my phone and this is what I saw:

I've been cooking with the Hungry Girl cookbook while my hubby has been gone.  They are mostly meals for one anyway, but they are usually of the low fat version that he is not a big fan of.  The above is a breakfast ham and eggs on 6 inch round corn tortillas.  Below is caesar salad on 6 inch round tortillas

And then we have strawberry banana pancakes!

So I guess "Circles" wasn't such a difficult prompt after all!

As for today's prompt, that really is a hard one, but for a different reason.  "I said good-bye to..."

I'm sure you read in an earlier post how I "said good-bye" to our car, the Journey.  If you didn't, click here.   

I said good-bye to my "50's" as I transitioned to 60 in March by walking across the Golden Gate Bridge for the first time:

But, we also had to say good-bye to our cat, Whisper.  

I had never had a pet before.  Didn't want the added responsibility.  Still, it was sad to see her go.  You can read the full story here.

So, what have you said good-bye to this year?  

Thursday, December 17, 2015

December Reflections

December 17 - My smile...

This is an easy one for me.  I am a big believer in the power of a smile.

This is what my sisters used to call "Funny Face."  When I was little they always used to say, "Make Funny Face, Janet!" 

It really is much easier to smile.  There may be days that you are not feeling quite so happy, things do go wrong after all, but I know that if you think really hard, you can probably find at least one thing to smile about.    

I have used the name "ASmile4UFromJanet" as my creative business name and titled my blog, "Janet's Smiles" because I truly believe that a smile is contagious and if you pass one along, it will travel quite far.  You don't necessarily have to go as far as a "Funny Face" smile, but I'll bet if you try using one more often, you'll get a pleasant reaction from the people you are dealing with.

So, here's A Smile 4 U From Janet!  Please share!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

December Reflections

December 16 - I said hello to...

This year I said hello to the Golden Gate Bridge, up close and personal.  I have, of course, driven over it many times but because I turned the big 6-0 in March, I decided that I wanted to walk across it for the first time.  I was fortunate enough to have some family and friends to keep me company and we had a great day, walking from the Sausalito side to the San Francisco side and back again.  Then we had a nice lunch in Sausalito.  Perfect way to celebrate getting older!

Then, in July, I said hello to lots of relatives that we had not seen in about 9 years!!  My husband's family has a reunion every 3 years but we are not able to attend them all, since the family is spread out all over the country.  It was great seeing how all the kids have grown into adults and to visit with Bill's aunts, uncles and cousins.  One of his cousins is a photographer and takes pictures at concerts!  We had lots to talk about.    

But I have to say that I was most excited to say hello to a very dear childhood friend.  Debbie and I had not seen each other in about 40 years!  We used to walk to school together every day.  She had not been able to make the reunion we had a couple of years ago, so I was really happy she decided to come to the picnic we had in October to celebrate all of our 60th birthdays.  It was such fun talking about old times and catching up with each other's lives now.   

Those are my big hello's for this year.  Who did you say hello to?  

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

December Reflections

December 15 - The soundtrack of 2015

Concerts have become my passion, my guilty pleasure.  I never went when I was younger and I know I missed a lot.  I'm trying to catch up.  We went to eight this year:

Bob Seger - Ride Out Tour

This is the second time we've seen him.  Both times were excellent.  He puts so much into his music.  His new album has a couple really good songs.  Interestingly, he did not do the title song, which is one of my favorites.

SAP Center 3/5/15

Bob Seger

Then we saw Rain, a Beatles Tribute Band.  We've seen another tribute band called the Fab Four as well.  I think I like the Rain ensemble better.  They really do a good job with changing costumes between sets to simulate the different stages of the Beatles.  From farther back (squinting your eyes), it almost looks like the Beatles.  At any rate, the whole place was singing along with every tune.

"The Beatles"

Neil Diamond was next.  This was an interesting adventure because Bill was suffering with his sciatica and we had to use a wheelchair or he would not have made it.  Neil Diamond definitely looks older but he can still get the crowd into it.  It was a great show, and the staff at SAP Center were very accommodating with our "handicapped" status.


Neil Diamond

The Mountain Winery concerts started with Pat Benatar and we were lucky to see John Waite as the opening act.  We had front row, side seats.  It was a terrific show.  The Winery is such a pretty place.

John Waite

Neil Giraldo and Pat Benatar


Another Winery event was Huey Lewis and the News.  This was a fun concert because we went with some very good friends but the actual performance was less than we expected.  Huey wanted to sing some new songs, always a risky thing to do because most of the time it's the oldies we want to hear.  In addition, for the first time in all the concerts we've been to at the Winery, it started to rain.  They had to stop the concert in the middle and as there was a time limit, the concert was cut short.  Instead of finishing up with his more well known songs, Huey decided to add some more new songs.  We were less than impressed.


Huey Lewis

The last of the Mountain Winery concerts for this year was Heart.  I went with my daughter, Amanda, because it was right after Bill's surgery and he was not able to travel yet.  The Wilson sisters were fantastic.


Ann and Nancy Wilson

September brought ACDC to AT&T Park.  We had General Admission tickets, which meant there were no seats, just standing by the stage.  We were able to get reasonably close to the stage, but once the band came out, we were being pushed together like sardines.  We decided to go toward the back of the lawn and still had a great view because of the huge screens.  Such a great show.  For those about to Rock!


Angus Young

Last, but certainly not least, Scorpions at SAP Center.  Again, we had great seats, next to the runway and the band certainly kept coming down to play close to us.

Such energy!!  Absolutely marvelous way to end the concert season for this year.

In addition to these marvelous shows, we also saw the comedians, Roseanne Barr and Ron White.

That's the soundtrack of our 2015.  I am really excited because the soundtrack of 2016 is going to include Adele!!

What was your soundtrack like?

Monday, December 14, 2015

December Reflections

December 14 - The space in between...

At least four hours by plane, with a layover in Portland...eight hours, 19 minutes by car...517.52 driving distance of today, December 14, nine days.  That is the space in between my husband and I right now as he is in Oregon with his mother while I am here at home.

Bill's mom is 90 this year and he is taking his turn, as the good son he is, helping her out since she is alone up there and not able to navigate the snow and take care of all the things you need to do around the house by herself. 

We will have an interrupted Christmas this year since our youngest has to work so she won't be able to go up with the rest of us.  She'll go up in January and then we'll have a complete Christmas later in January when everyone is together.  

We, Bill and I, have never been apart this long in all the years we have been married.  The last time he went up was in October and he stayed a month.  This time it is going to be almost a month and a half.  Considering the fact that I work from home and he has not been working for almost two years because of his back, not having him around 24/7 has been quite different.  I rarely turn the TV on and when he is home it's on all day and night.  The house is very quiet, except when I am done working.  Then the music goes on and I am crafting away.   In the beginning, I was enjoying the quiet and the ability to do/eat/go wherever I wanted, after all, the kids are gone too.  It was almost like when I was single and living in the apartment by myself.  But, after a week or so, it was not such a new sensation.

We talk every day.  Sometimes it's just a quick text to say "Hello, I love you."  Sometimes it's longer if we have important news to share.  

He sends me snow:                                                          I send him rain.

He sends me pictures of he and his mother:

I send him pictures of me and the kids:

We are glad to be able to have the opportunity for him to help his mom out in this way.  If he had still been working, it would have been much more difficult for him to take the time off to be up there for such an extended period.  

They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder.  I am not sure I could be any fonder of this great guy but I definitely miss him and will be happy to have him home again! 

That's my take on "The space in between."  What would yours be?

Sunday, December 13, 2015

December Reflections

December 13 - A is for...

I did a blog post earlier this year for the April Love Project.  Our eldest daughter's name is Amanda, so she was the subject of that installment.  You can read about that here.

For this "A is for..." I decided to use this word:  Abecedarian.  It means arranged alphabetically.

I first heard of abecedarian through Deborah Weber at Temenos of the Blessing Light.   She did an Abecedarian blog during the month of April while I was doing April Love.  Since it was April, she based her alphabet on the Fool.  It was quite entertaining.

In planning for next year, I've decided to do an abecedarian during the month of February.  Twenty six letters in the alphabet and this year is a Leap year so February has 29 days.  That gives me just a little cushion in case I miss a day.  I haven't quite decided the exact theme, although since it's February, it would make sense  for it to be about love and romance, don't you think?  I'll have to do some research and see if I can make that work.

Gives you something to look forward to, doesn't it!  Hope you are enjoying this December Reflection and that you are having a wonderful holiday season.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

December Reflections

December 12 - Best decision of 2015.

Daily Decisions Determine Destiny.  So very true.  Each day we have to decide many things, some as simple as what to have for breakfast.  Others more complicated such as what to have for dinner...but I jest, sort of.

This year we have had to make many rather important decisions.  We decided to have a new fence put up (although that decision was helped along by the fact that the old fence literally fell apart and we were running out of plywood planks to hold it up).

Out with the old

In with the new

We had the decision of whether or not Bill should have back surgery, although that was helped along by the fact that he was in so much discomfort and there really wasn't anything else to do at this point.

We had the decision of which concerts to attend.  Definitely a tricky one because sometimes our favorites are playing conflicting dates!  We managed to make 8 this year!

But, I would have to say that hands down, the BEST decision we made this year was to trade in our 2009 Dodge Journey for a 2015 Honda CRV.  It literally was a clear cut case of black and white.

The Journey


I will admit that the Journey was a mistake.  I will admit that I wanted it because Journey is one of my favorite groups (the old Journey with Steve Perry, not so much the new one).  I will admit that it had some really neat features such as coolers under the floor boards in the back seat and lots of hidden compartments and storage areas.  But, it also had problems such as sometimes it just wouldn't start and I would have to wait until it was ready to go.  The tires were some really unusual size and cost a lot of money to replace.  But the WORST, the absolute worst, was the gas mileage which was like 13 miles per gallon in the city and maybe 17 on the freeway with a good tail wind pushing us. When we were looking to buy a new car we actually test drove a used CRV, but I had that stupid Journey in my mind and couldn't let it go (you know, you're in the car on a is a journey not a destination...sometimes I think I am too much of a dreamer...not!)

This year there was a recall on the particular model Journey we had.  Apparently the electronic key fob was defective and there was a possibility that the car could actually put itself in "accessory" mode and shut down while being driven.  That was a little too much for me and after we had the recall fixed (it was free, why not?), we decided to get the CRV.

It is the!  It has a moonroof so I can gaze at the stars (there's that dreamer again!)  It has hands free connectivity to my phone so I won't have to worry about talking while driving (not that I do that, but in case of emergency).  It has a rear camera so I can see what I am NOT hitting when I back up (the fire hydrant incident in Bill's truck).  It has a side camera so I can see when changing lanes to the right (not left, I wonder why that is?).  But the BEST, the absolute best, is the 23 to 28 miles per gallon I get now.  I even got it up to 33 once!  That in itself will practically pay for the car the way the gas prices go up and down!

I would say the only bad part about this decision was that we got it up in Santa Rosa while we were "visiting" Rachel at school.  She had to sit in the dealers with us for four hours while we did the buying the car dance and that really wasn't a "visit" to her.  But, now that the gas mileage is so much better, maybe we'll really "visit" her more often!

About the only thing that isn't different between these two vehicles is the fact that Bill still loves Jan :).

In the Journey

In the CRV

That was another good decision but it was 30+ years ago so it doesn't count for this year!

What about you?  Your best decision from 2015?  Please share.