Facets of Lucy

Looking at the various side of a life


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Immortalizing a Family Tradition

I remember so well that when my first child was in college,  how she dreaded the last six weeks of the semester.  She knew that in those weeks were papers due and exams to study for and to take.  And all the while she did the hardest work of the term, we were home shopping, decorating the house, making Christmas cookies and generally cranking up the excitement. As I cranked up the AOL, I tried to think of a way for her to feel closer to home.

I hit upon the idea of an Advent basket, a variation of an advent calendar, with one item to be opened and enjoyed for each day from the day she returned after Thanksgiving until the day she came home.  The gifts, mostly quite modest, were a hit.  The basket idea stuck with us, through the next 3 children as well.  But now, youngest child is about to graduate, and I have made my last basket.    I’m writing this last, probably maybe, post to immortalize what was 13 years of holiday fun for all of us.

Advent Basket 2914

A list of some of the items that have made it into the Advent Baskets.

Room decorations (window stickers, Advent Calendars)

Christmas ornaments

Small Nativity scene

Christmas fuzzy socks

Christmas tie (for boys)

Christmas music (CD)

Classic Christmas video

Hot Chocolate, Apple Cider mix

Starbucks gift card

Cute small Christmas-themed book

Christmas boxers (for boys)

Christmas print undies (for girls)

Christmas themed earrings, bracelet
Cookies
Candy

Harry and David’s Moose Munch
Any other food you can think of

Holiday coffee mug
Package of cute Christmas cards and stamps
Warm gloves
Soft winter scarf
Holiday shaped or scented bath soaps, hand creams
Framed holiday pictures from childhood
Empty holiday-themed frames
Santa or elf hat

I don’t include candles because most dorms don’t allow them.

What has gone in the basket has changed over time.  Early baskets held VHS Christmas movies.  Later ones had DVDs.  This year’s featured no movies.  Why?  Digital streaming.  Netflix replaces the need for videos.  The same for Christmas music.  We went from CDs to I-Tunes cards to… no music.  Thank music streaming apps for that. But I’ve also learned to get some of the little treats at after Christmas sales each year (not food or drink).

The packages also look fancier now than in the beginning thanks to adopting the clear wrap like that used for Easter Baskets, and using treat bags for the various items. Let me know or post pictures of your basket if you are inspired to make  an Advent Basket.

 

 


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Thank-snow-giving 2014

Its lovely, its peaceful but the timing is all wrong for gathering the family together.  These beautiful images were taken by a family member whose home backs up to the Skyline Drive in Virginia (and may still be checking this semi-retired blog (Thanks!)).  Enjoy, unless you’re from an area that just had 7 feet of snow or more.  You’ve had enough, I’m sure.

photo 2-4

 

photo 3-2photo 1-6


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Good-bye and Thanks

This is my final post.  I started blogging in 2012, spelling out the experiences of my step-father as he served in World War II ( onemansjourneythruww2.wordpress.com ). Once that was complete, I wanted to try my hand at a more personal blog.  I’ve posted over 100 times and I’ve learned some things:

  • I’m not as funny as I think I am.
  • I don’t have a voice which moves other bloggers online.
  • I’m more private than I thought I was.

Sisters Dad

I love the blogging world and will be checking in now and then.  But after looking at how many drafts I’ve started that I’ve not published because of my privacy or someone else’s, I decided I’m more of a journal keeper than a blogger.  Believe me, the audience of my journal finds me funny, and is fascinated with what I have to say.  And I have no privacy concerns with keeping a journal.  So thanks for dropping by and giving me a try.

Last bit of housekeeping:  To my most constant blog follower:  I love you.  Thanks for your faithful support.  A sister is a special gift in a crazy world.


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Smooches: Love that Lasts

Making a life-long commitment to another is not for chickens.  The good times can be marvelous.  A new job, a raise, a promotion, a new baby, new house- all are reasons to celebrate and its wonderful to have a partner to share it with.  But life isn’t always like that we know.  Jobs are lost, money can be tight, children come with issues or don’t come at all, a spouse is deployed to a combat zone – there are so many challenges that you can face in a lifetime.  I’ve truly found that, for me, having my partner beside me has made the bad times easier to face even if not easier overall.  When good things happen, he’s still the first person I want to tell or share it with.  We made a commitment and because we both were sure of it, we’ve held strong even when it was the hardest thing to do.

But we’ve been together a little over 30 years.  This couple has been together for over 60 years.  Life has given them the sweet but also the bitter.  They remind  me of a quote I once heard.  An older man was asked what the secret of his marriage was.  He replied, ” I never considered divorce.  Not once.  Murder a few times but never divorce.” After the photo was taken, they enjoyed a shared laugh.   Who wouldn’t be envious for a life led together like that?

M and M Kiss


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Smooches

Heart

There is something about young love, the early fascination with each other, the magnetism you can almost touch between them.  But there’s something even more special about couples who have been together for years, who have layered the early fascination with a deep, shared history and strengthened the magnetism with an abiding trust in each other.  They have, in most cases, passed by the stage of the PDA (public displays of affection).  That does not mean that the affection is gone.

I’ve been collecting photos of couples who have been together for years .  Each was asked if they would let me take two photos, one of each kissing the other on the cheek.   This is not the raciest of PDAs and the results  showed some embarrassment, as their eyes met in shared humor at the request. The results, while not stunning photography, were humorous and warm insight into  relationships that have lasted.

To be fair, I’ll start with my better half and I.  Obviously, someone else took this picture but the result is what gave me the idea to collect these smooches shots. So, in time to look forward to Valentine’s Day, I hope you enjoy the Smooches.


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Targeted!

I am one of approximately 110,000,000 people in the US “Targeted” this Christmas season.  That is, hackers installed malware and were able to get card information and more personal information such as addresses and such.  Anyone who shopped at Target roughly between November 15 and December 15 was violated the same way unless they paid cash.

Bullseye

This isn’t the first time its happened to me.  Years ago, BJ’s Warehouse was hit and then more recently, the chain that owns TJ Max, Marshalls and Home Goods was hit.  Both made me leery of those particular stores for awhile but I gradually came back.

It feels different this time.  The fact that I’m one of so many makes it worse not better.  We’ve also heard that customers at Neiman Marcus were “Marked” as well.  Large companies are not the ones I expect to have insufficient security on their systems.  I hold them responsible.  I have heard that there are class action suits filed already and I wish them well.  Its not that Target hasn’t tried to make amends.  They had discount days, they’ve offered account protection services, lots of emails and website postings have appeared.  Everything short of the CEO calling me to apologize has been tried.

I feel very vulnerable. One swipe of a credit or debit card to make any purchase puts my whole identity at risk.  Anywhere possible, I’ve been using cash since this happened.  I have found two pluses from using cash.  One, there are less receipts that I need to enter in Quicken to balance my checkbook (yeah, I still do that).  And, two, I spend less because I’m aware of how much money is in my wallet.  There are far less impulse buys or purchase of things  that I “will” need.  For now, I’m content to get them when they’re really needed.

Maybe the US will change credit cards to be more like the EU with the digital chips encoded in them.  Of course, by then hackers may have figured a way around those, too.

In the meantime, there’s a dichotomy between businesses and government who want us to do everything online and a nation that can’t protect us when we do.

I may be the only one in America who was shaken by this security breach.  I may, in time, break down and go back to trusting my cards.  Maybe I’ll even go back to Target (someone pointed out that they may be the safest place to shop at this point).  But for now, my greenbacks and I are making do.


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Let Them Eat Cake! Or, Why I Don’t Have a Cooking Blog

Sometimes the simplest things can trip us up.

To celebrate a family birthday tomorrow, I planned to bake a cake.  You know, a birthday cake, a basic requirement to celebrate such an event.  The only request was for homemade chocolate frosting. Even the flavor of the cake was up to me. This is something I’ve done for decades.  Not a big deal.

Pulling out the available cake mixes, I looked at what flavors we had.  Luckily, there was deep chocolate, devils food and white.  I opted for the white mix, a nice contrast to the chocolate frosting.  Now, these days the mixes are fairly uniform in what needs to be added.  Directions were followed, batter was split between the two 9″ round pans and baked. The layers baked beautifully, they were taken out once the toothpick came out of the cake clean.  I set them aside to let them rest for 10 minutes, as per the directions before turning them out to cool.

Cake2

But when I turned them out, one broke in half.  Great. I took the broken layer with a fork to my husband and he helped me get rid of it.

I was still upbeat as I washed all the utensils and bowls and prepared them to be used again.  This time I went with the deep chocolate mix.  I cracked eggs, measured liquids, added mix and beat exactly according to the directions.  The two 9″ pans went back into the oven filled with lovely batter.  With a sense of satisfaction, I began to clean up.  I reached for the coffee maker to wash the pot, and at the same time, spotted the measuring cup of oil, a critical ingredient sitting beside it.  I rushed to the oven, but it was 10 minutes in already and had begun to set. Groaning, I realized my good humor was slipping away. Time for the reinforcements.

While I let the oil-less cake finish cooking, my husband and I finished clean-up and turned our attention to the devil’s food box.  I measured; my husband double-checked. He verified the oven temperature for me. Before I put it in the oven, we made sure all the ingredients were included.  We set the timer.  What could go wrong?  I sat in the kitchen to mind the oven.  When the timer went off, I opened the oven and looked at…..two pans of batter.  What??? Guess who accidentally turned off the oven when he went to verify the temperature.  The digital buttons are easy to hit if you aren’t paying attention?  We turned on the oven and tried re-baking or to finish baking the cake.  It came out looking pretty normal but who know how dry it’ll be.

Cake1

It’s someone I loves birthday.  All they want is chocolate frosting.  At this point, I was thinking maybe I’d just serve frosting, no cake.  Luckily, our mutual sense of humor wasn’t lost so after a quick run to the store for supplies ( having gone through a dozen eggs).  Once home, we measured, mixed, stirred, double-checked, made sure the oven was on.  No problem.  Twenty-seven minutes later, we had two lovely chocolate layers. Tomorrow, I’ll add delicious home-made frosting.  The family will come over to eat, celebrate and enjoy cake.  Let them eat cake!  Let them laugh at the cake-making trials.  Let them enjoy seeing our exhibits from the failures.  I’m grateful to have been given a sense of humor .  We’ll all laugh together.

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