Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Christmas Tidings

Christmas fun!  We spent this week going to the Nutcracker, decorating cookies, hiking in snow and Christmas shopping.  I bought myself something (horrors!) that I've wanted for a couple years: a down duvet.  It was on super-sale and I love it.  I also tried to buy the cover, thinking that was on sale, and it was ringing up as more than the blanket!  So I put it back and ordered one online.  Sorry UPS.  Another package.

I decided against moving to Africa.  Well, I prayed about it and I think it's not the thing for me.  I am still going for a week in the fall to hike Kilimanjaro.  Just not to live on a ship for 2 years.  What was I thinking?  I guess that I wanted to help someone.

I found a (probably) better option right here at home.  I applied for the Big Brothers Big Sisters program.  In one week I have been interviewed, gone to training, had a background check and met my little sister for the next year.  It sounds like a lot of fun and will take a real commitment: 6-10 hours a month.  I'm excited and praying that we bond and help each other however God Wills!

Hoping everyone is finding meaning in Advent this year.  May God bless and fill you with peace!

Friday, December 15, 2017

Soup day

Do you guys think this is enough kale?

Making Ree Drummond's Sausage, Potato and Kale soup.  I halved the amount of potatoes and have no idea what I did to the kale.  It said 2 bunches...and I bought two bags.  This is just one bag.  I think a bag is more than a bunch...but not sure...waiting to see if it cooks down. 

The kale in this soup has to cancel out the sausage, potato and cream, right?  I might have ruined the recipe because I changed the 2 cups of whole milk and 4 cups half and half to...well...the opposite of that.  On the positive side: It smells good!

I am in an experimental cooking phase.  I made a chicken taco soup with quinoa last week.  It was great!  Except the quinoa expanded so much it was more like quinoa than soup.  But yummy just the same!

I have a stretch of time off before night shift starts.  All kinds of Christmas things planned!  Tomorrow is the Nutcracker and then cookie decorating and Christmas shopping!  This is my most favorite time of year...preparing for the birth of Christ!

Happy Advent!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Sometimes we need a little reboot in life

Back from an AMAZING trip to Switzerland and Germany (with a small peppering of Liechtenstein and Austria thrown in for fun)!  Definitely came at the right time!  I spent the first week with my dear friend from Texas and the second with my fellow volunteers from NPH.  From city to mountains, we covered so much ground, always laughing and enjoying our time together.  God has blessed me!

My first night, if you remember from my last post, I arrived somewhat cranky. My bff and I were swimming on the rooftop of the hotel we had in Zurich and I was telling her all about my dog's death, some changes and stress at work and just feeling down in general when it hit me: my attitude wasn't going to change for me if I didn't commit to improving my complaining.  So in that exact moment we made a gratitude pact and committed to finding the three things of each day we were most grateful for.  It turned out to be so fun and we found so many things that narrowing it down to three was almost impossible.  Praise God!

So, in pictures, here is a run through on our trip:

Soooo... what is a picture of Ireland doing here? It's because I'm crazy.  I had a 12 hour layover in Dublin so I rented a car and drove, by myself, on the left side of the road, during my normal sleeping hours, to Giant's Causeway, so I could see the sunrise.  Yep, it was worth it.

Barely anybody there!  God is such an artist. Seriously.

These somehow posted out of order (again) and I'm too lazy to figure them out and move them (sorry)!  This is Hohenschwangau Castle which is near Neuschwanstein where we also went.

Hot chestnuts on Lake Konstanz.  This lake is bordered by Austria and Switzerland.

Gluewein and kinderpunch!Again at Lake Konstanz.

Overlooking Freiburg from Schloss Hill

Black Forest hike only half hour from Freiberg.

You can see the alps in the distance!  Or maybe it was to the left.

Kebaps are the thing in southern Germany!

Cuckoo clocks in Triberg, home of the cuckoo clock

These are not called beer steins as I thought.  I don't remember what they are called.

Rhine Falls!  On the Rhine river.

Famous lion monument in Lucerne, Switzerland.

Surprise mountain chapel we found while hiking on Rigi Mountain in the Swiss alps!

Totally out of order!  This is the castle of Vaduz in Liechtenstein.

Looking down from St. Peter's at the glockenspiel.

Feeding squirrel while hiking in Triberg.

Looking down from a tower in Zurich.  Had no idea the Protestant Reformation left such a strong mark!

One of our surprises: upgrade to a suite overlooking Opera house and Christmas markets in Zurich.

View from the train on our way to Lucerne from Zurich, Switzerland.

Half way up Mount Rigi (don't worry, we took a trolley to the top)

Top of Mount Rigi!  Swiss Alps.

This is a shrine in Switzerland called Einsiedeln.  So beautiful and felt like we were off the beaten path.  No pictures allowed inside but gorgeous!

Statue of Our Lady out front.

Overlook of Liechtenstein while hiking up to the castle in Vaduz.

This is a nutcracker!

This is the overlook from the castle gardens in Heidelberg, Germany.  Yes, I like high spots.

Looking out on Heidelberg from within the castle walls.

I don't know what that pipe signifies, but my german friend says it is very traditional.

Zurich Christmas Markets

Had dinner with a Swiss couple after they gave us a tour of Lucerne: raclette and fondue!  So special!  I had met them in Morocco and they were so kind and hospitable.  What an amazing time!

Famous bridge in Lucerne with mountains in distance.

View from Mount Rigi...hiking down.

Lucerne at sunrise as we make our way to our rental car: leaving for Liechtenstein

Candle from Einsiedeln.  We were able to go to Mass and met one of the Benedictine Monks who lives in the Abbey.  He said he had lived in the US for a while!

We had dinner in Innsbruck, Austria on our way to meet up the rest of the group in Munich...of course found a tower to climb.

This is Tollwood Markets in Munich, different vibe and so busy!

Lake Konstanz near where our friend lives...if you hop in a boat and cross the water.

Fell in love with this place...our hike in the Black Forest and I still don't know the name...a friend took us...

This is the waterfall in Triberg.  We hiked A LOT to get this close to the top and it was ICY!  But so fun.  

In between all these pictures were stops to drink coffee and tea, plenty of sweets and lots of bratwurst.  Staying warm was a big part of our day!  So beautiful and magical.  I can see how fairytales arose from these woods.  I kept expecting gnomes and talking animals to pop out at any time!

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Sometimes sad

Not gonna lie...losing Clarence has been unexpectedly hard.  I just miss him.  And his death was messy so I keep remembering it and crying.  This week I am house sitting for four adorable canine terrors (Clarence was supposed to come with me) and that makes me cry at random times...when they remind me of him and maybe it's the weather and maybe compounded with my grandma dying last month and working too much.  I don't know.  I'll be glad to lose the sadness!  And the headache...I've had one for four days now and maybe it's sugar or caffeine or allergy related but it's still here... and of course since my job is to find out the worst medical condition that can cause a symptom, I call it my brain tumor.  Life is so short!

I guess that's why we have to live it to the full.  I went for a walk in the woods yesterday with two of the dogs and basked in the freezing but beautiful foliage.  Winter is almost upon us!  And last night we had my nephew and niece's birthday party.  First time in a long time we had all the New England contingency of our family together.  My short story is being published this week in an anthology by Cozy Cat that's good.  My second book has made headway and I hope to have it out by the spring.  My upcoming trip to Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Germany is going to be pretty there is that.  Plus I booked a trip to Africa to hike Kilimanjaro next fall...because I apparently make crazy decisions when sad and stressed.  Oh dear.  This better pass quickly before I find myself doing something really out there!

My life is awesome but I think sometimes that makes me feel guilty when I am sad or discontent.  Sometimes I need to hear: It's okay to be sad.  It's okay to grieve. It's okay to eat too much sometimes and gain weight and not exercise (which has been the story since Clare died) and not be happy.  

Off to Mass.  As my pastor often says, stay in the sacraments...they are the barometer of our spiritual life.  We know we are NOT okay when we stay away from Mass, Confession....even when we don't feel so good.  So glad our feelings aren't the measure!