Tuesday, December 29, 2009

One Year

I started this blog one year ago today.  I had plans to celebrate my one year anniversary with a fun post or a give away, but here's the problem.....I'm sick.  I've got a nasty case of the flu and I'm absolutely exhausted.   I'll have to postpone celebrating for a while.

Thank you so much to all of you who sent emails expressing concern about my absence.  I've been MIA for a while, but that was due to all of the decorating, shopping, wrapping, cooking and baking that I did for Christmas. I didn't get sick until the day after Christmas.

I'm looking forward to catching up with all of you when I'm feeling better!


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Do These Cookies Come With Instructions?

I have a simple question to ask you.  What is a Christmas cookie?  I've celebrated Christmas every year of my life, but today was the first time I ever thought about the what the term actually means (my son says I have too much time on my hands).   When I looked it up online, the definition read "A sugar cookie, usually cut in festive shapes, that is made and eaten at Christmas."  Really?  Could I have been doing it wrong all these years?

Does Christmas mean December 25th, or does it include the entire holiday season?  Would it still be a Christmas cookie if you ate it on Thanksgiving?  Or New Years Eve?  What about other types of cookies?  If I make Chocolate Truffle cookies, for example, can they technically be called Christmas cookies?   And should I wait until Christmas to serve them?   

Who are Christmas cookies for?  I know a lot of people, myself included,  make up platters of them for friends and neighbors or take them to Christmas parties.  Santa always gets a plate of them, too, of course.  But I know you must have heard of someone who hides the cookies they bake because "they're for Christmas".   Does that mean you can't bake Christmas cookies for your own household to enjoy?

I want to know what you think!


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Long Overdue And Christmas Cards

I've been given some awards by my fabulous blog friends.  I apologize for not taking the time to post them and pass them on sooner.   I adore my blog buddies and appreciate each and every award.  If you haven't visited these blogs, please do so.  Right now.  I'm not kidding!

Several of these awards have rules that state you must list a number of interesting or unknown facts about yourself.  Instead of making a different list for each one (you'd be bored out of your mind reading all that), I'm going to post one list of five things you may or may not know about me.

  1. My family and I were in a car accident while on vacation in North Carolina a few years ago.  We were rear ended repeatedly by a man who passed out while driving. 
  2. I was hired for a job that fell through at the last minute and ended up taking a job with a different company where I met my husband.  Must have been fate!
  3. I don't like salmon.  I wish I did, it always looks really good and I love most other varieties of fish, but salmon tastes funny to me.
  4. I have issues with personal space.  It makes me crazy when someone I don't know stands too close to me.
  5. I played the clarinet for a short time when I was younger.  I was terrible at it.

The other rules I'm going to follow are those that come with the THETA Tag Award.  The rules state that you must list 5 things that make you a true, authentic mom.  

  1. I spend one on one time with each of my kids every day.
  2. I'm not a super strict parent.  I'm willing to bend or change the rules if there is a good reason.
  3. I don't believe in forcing my kids to eat foods they don't like.  Dinner shouldn't feel like punishment.
  4. I try to remember what it was like to be their age(s) before dealing with a problem.
  5. I never forget how lucky I am to have these two amazing human beings in my life.
Thank you again to all of my friends who passed these awards on to me.  You guys are the best!  In the spirit of the season, I would like to pass them along to all of my blog friends (I know most of you have them already).  Please take as many as you would like.  An early holiday gift from me to you.  Enjoy!

Holiday Cards

I'd love to send Christmas cards to any/all of my followers (yes, L.B., I'm totally stealing your idea!!!).  If you would like to email your address to thisstopwilloughby@yahoo.com, I would love to send you a Christmas card.


Sunday, December 6, 2009

Willoughby's Donut Shop

Last week, I told you that Mr. Willoughby and I like to try new recipes together.  This morning, we decided to try making homemade donuts.  We prefer cake donuts to raised donuts, so we used this recipe.  They were easy and delicious and it didn't take much longer than a trip to the donut shop.  We got 13 donuts, or a baker's dozen,  plus a bunch of little donut holes out of one batch.  We did alter the recipe a bit by leaving out the cinnamon and nutmeg because we wanted to add a variety of toppings to the end product. 

As you can see, we coated some with cinnamon sugar, some with a chocolate glaze and left a few plain.   We used our deep fryer, but I'm sure you could improvise with a deep pan, a few inches of oil and a candy thermometer.

Our son liked them so much he thought we should go into business selling them.  Willoughby's Donut Shop?  I like the sound of that!


Friday, December 4, 2009

Clearing The Clutter And Customer Service

I haven't been around as much as I'd like lately because I've been really busy.  I got it in my head that I wanted to go through every closet, drawer and cabinet in the house and get rid of all of the unused or underused items taking up space.   It's been quite an undertaking, but I feel really good about it.

I went into this project telling myself to make decisions logically, not emotionally, but I still found it hard to part with some things.  I'm not really a pack rat by nature, but I am sentimental.  In the end, logic won out.  I reminded myself that stuff is just stuff.  Keeping items that remind me of when my kids were babies won't bring those days back.  On the flip side, parting with them won't erase cherished memories.

I still have a few cabinets to go through, and I didn't even start on the basement, but we donated more than 18 bags of toys, clothes and household items to charity.  If that's not worthwhile, I don't know what is.

Customer Service

On our way back from a trip to drop off some of our charitable donations, Mr. Willoughby and I decided to stop at a little store we had passed regularly but never been in.  From the outside, I thought it was a typical resale shop with the standard assortment of trash and treasures.  Once we were inside the door, I saw I had been wrong. 

This shop was filled with gorgeous vintage and antique furniture, glassware and home accessories.  There was holiday music playing and the whole store was decorated for Christmas.  Each vignette looked like a room in someone's home, all decked out and waiting for company to arrive.  From the Duncan Phyfe dining table with it's vintage bone china and delicate wine glasses to the tufted antique settee and inlay end tables, we were quite taken with this place.

We decided right away that this might be the perfect place to do some Christmas shopping.  Most of the adults on our list have similar taste to ours, so we were confindent that we could find a great gift.  When I looked at the price tags, however, I changed my mind a little.  This place was expensive!  They had a nice set of glass bar decanters labeled for Scotch, Whiskey, Gin and Rum that we liked, but they were priced at $55 dollars per bottle.  At least I think they were.

The price tags were incredibly difficult to read.  Many of the items in the store are on consignment, so each tag had multiple numbers to identify the vendor, the item, various dates and multiple prices.  We could only assume that the lowest price on each tag applied, but it wasn't clear.   An antique sideboard, for example, was labeled $1350, $1275 and $1250. 

When we passed from one room of the store to the other, we came across a woman setting out new merchandise.  She asked if we were looking for anything in particular, but when I told her we were just browsing, she abruptly turned away.  I started to tell her that we had passed the store many times, but that this was our first time coming in.  She cut me off in mid sentence to chat with a coworker.  I was hoping to ask her how the pricing worked, but she clearly didn't have time for "browsers".  The man running the cash register was no better.  He was talking with a woman who had brought in some items for consignment and never looked up.

This store is in a small town about 15 miles away from our town.  It's not an affluent area, so you would expect fabulous personal service if they are going to charge prices that are double what the local antique stores charge.  We would have been happy to have simply been treated as anything but annoying distractions.  One of our favorite sayings is "Vote with your feet" and that's exactly what we did.  We walked out without buying a thing.  And we won't be back anytime soon.


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Interesting And Unusual

Everyone is good at something, right?  I think so, anyway.  It's what makes you interesting.  Me, I'm a pretty good cook.  I'm also good at trivia.  Neither of those are very unique, though.  If you asked me to name my most interesting or unusual talent, I guess I would have to say my ability to use power tools (because I'm a woman, people always seem surprised).  When we installed the trim molding on our front porch, we set the chop saw up in the yard and took turns cutting the pieces.  No one seemed surprised to see Mr. Willoughby using it, but I got a few strange looks when I did.  When I tell people that I cut all of the trim for the back porch with a chop saw and installed it with a nail gun while Mr. Willoughby was at work, they always seem to think it's unusual.

I'd like to have one of those talents that entertain people at parties.  I'm always envious of people who can juggle or do card tricks.  I'm also impressed by those who can sit down at the piano and play Chopin perfectly or pick up a guitar and jam something other than Smoke On The Water.  

Mr. Willoughby has some cool, unique talents.  He can cut a deck of cards in one hand without setting them down.  He can also wiggle his ears.  He's tried to teach me how to do both, but my hands are too small to cut the cards and I can't wiggle my ears no matter how much I concentrate.  I am double jointed, though, so I can bend the tips of my fingers.

What is your most interesting or unusual talent?  I'd love to know!