Wednesday, December 30, 2009

drink more champagne

So tomorrow night is New Years Eve. Countrymouse and I typically stay home and celebrate in a low key kinda way. I used to miss not doing something grand on New Years Eve, but really, I don't anymore. I prefer to spend it with the people I love, relaxing and enjoying some good food and wine.

That brings me to what I really wanted to write about... wine. Not just any wine, but the king of wines, Champagne. I adore Champagne. I drink it every opportunity I get. I think too many people save it for special occasions... weddings, holidays, other celebrations. Here in the mouse house, we have Champagne for breakfast on every holiday and whenever we have people over whose company we enjoy. I firmly believe you can add a little "shine" to any day to make it special. Champagne does that for me.

Life is way too short and filled with too many bumps not to enjoy something as simple and wonderful as Champagne.

I use the word Champagne here collectively. Champagne is exclusively from France. There's Prosecco from Italy, a lighter, fruitier (but not sweeter) wine than Champagne, and Cava from Spain, which is drier than Champagne and since land is cheaper in Spain, it tends to be a third of the cost. Both of these are delicious and I actually prefer them over Champagne.

I came across the following Champagne Challenge. I thought it was both fun and informative. Give it a whirl and let me know how you fare.

I thought the question about Marilyn Monroe was a hoot (and I got it wrong, I might add.)

On his deathbed, John Maynard Keynes, the economist who developed the Keynesian theory of Macroeconomics, said...

My only regret in life is that I did not drink more Champagne.

I leave you with that thought and my sincere hope that you enjoy life in all it's simple moments this coming year.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

good to the last drop

It's late here at the mouse house. Everyone is sleeping and I should be too, but I'm not. There's not much going on over at Facebook this time of night to keep me interested (unless you play one of those inane games like Farmville or Mafia Wars, I suppose). I could call Pup #2 because it's only 8:00 or so in the evening in Hawaii, but I've talked to him 3 times in 3 days and I'm only so good on the phone... That leaves me eBay or blogging and blogging is cheaper (especially since Christmas was only yesterday).

Actually, if I didn't think I'd wake up anyone (little sister is asleep on my couch), I'd go downstairs and grind some beans to make coffee. I've been blessed by the fact that caffeine late at night doesn't keep me awake (either that or I have burned out my capacity to register how much caffeine I've ingested). This was never so good when trying to pull all-nighters in college, but as an adult, it has it's benefits.

I came across an article recently. It's about coffee and it's wondrous properties. Now, I adore coffee pretty much in any form. Even when I was a little girl, before I had even had my first cup of coffee, I loved coffee flavored ice cream. The truth is I would drink coffee even if were God-awful for me because I just can't imagine my life without it. The good news is that according to the Archives of Internal Medicine, for each cup of coffee people drink, their likelihood of getting Type 2 diabetes drops by 7 percent. That's pretty awesome. I figure I probably drink at least 5 or 6 cups on a slow day, so my risk factor is plummeting as I write! Harvard has also linked copious amounts of coffee consumption to lower incidents of advanced prostrate cancer (not gonna help me, but still). Now to be fair, the diabetes research mentions you can drink decaf or tea and have the same effects. That's not for me. I enjoy all my vices in their full-fat, calorie-loaded, caffeine-laden glory. I really don't have any hang-ups about it either. However, it is nice to be able to have a jazzy comeback, when folks start asking me about CA (Coffee Anonymous) meetings and such.

I'll be up "officially" in 5 hours or so and can "officially" have my morning coffee then. I know it'll be good to the last drop. (Well, that is until the second pot is made!)

Update: Okay, so I did sleep-in (probably because I didn't go to bed until after 1:00 am). So, it's 7 and 1/2 hours later, but Countrymouse is on his way upstairs with the coffee as I write. Hmmmmmm.

Friday, December 25, 2009

christmas blessings

Dear Santa God,

You know this year has been a different kind of holiday for me. It’s taken some getting used to. This is the first year in 47 years I will not celebrate Christmas with my mother and the first time in 22 years that I have not had all my pups home at Christmas. I’ve learned that you can still enjoy the time together with those you love, even if it is different.

I wanted to write to say thank you for my Christmas gifts blessings this year. Thank you that Countrymouse is still in love with me and we still laugh and love every single day. Thank you that my little brother is well enough to enjoy the holiday and spend time with all of us. Thank you that I have seen a sparkle in my father’s eye as he celebrates his family and their love for him and one another. Thank you that all my pups are safe and well and loved. Thank you for every day I get to spend with those people I love and that they can know how much I do love them. Santa God, thank you for all my gifts blessings.

I am looking forward to enjoying my gifts blessings all year long. Thank you again.

Trying to be a good girl,


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

o christmas tree! o christmas tree!

O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree
Much pleasure dost thou bring me!
For every year the Christmas tree,
Brings to us all both joy and glee.
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
Much pleasure dost though bring me!

This is the second stanza to the old German Christmas carol, "O Tannenbaum" or "O Christmas Tree", in English. It is believed to be an old folk tune, with the first Tannenbaum lyrics dating back to 1550. (A few states have actually borrowed this melody for their state songs. Maryland is one of them.) I first learned this song in German from my grandmother, who was born and raised in Germany. Although, to be fair, I never remembered more than, "Ach Tannenbaum, ach Tannenbaum, du bist ein edler Zweig! Du grĂ¼nest uns den Winter, die liebe Sommerzeit".

I love having our Christmas tree up. I actually enjoy just sitting here looking at it. (Of course that usually requires chasing all the pups upstairs and banning Monday Night Football.)

(Notice said football...)

Countrymouse has been harping for years about the virtues of artificial trees but I won't acquiesce. Not only do I want a live tree, I also want a ginormous tree. Since we live in an old Victorian house, our ceilings are pretty accommodating.

Over the years we've had some pretty amazing trees and some pretty Charlie Brownish trees. The wonderful thing about Christmas trees is once they have twinkly lights, some ornaments and some love, they all look good.

Over the past several years, I've begun collecting vintage ornaments. Some of them I leave out all year round. Like these...

But most of them I put away every year. Unwrapping and seeing them each year always makes me smile.

Some of my favorites are:

My mother gave me the Rudolph one years ago. It's always been special and went up high on the tree so no little mice would get it. This year it's even more so.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

cast of characters

I mentioned in an earlier post that 2 of my 4 siblings had moved. (The former West Coasters.) This really complicates things in my little blogosphere because I really can't refer to my brother as my West Coast brother anymore now that he lives across the street! (Besides, I live further West on our street than he does.) You get the picture.

So here are my peeps and their new and improved monikers:

Little Brother (aka LB)

Baby Brother (aka BB)

Little Sister (LS)

Baby Sister (BS)

I love these people. We aren't exactly the Waltons but we are family. After the past 5 months I've been through, I can tell you, I wouldn't trade them for anything.

These are from November 2007. It is the last time we were all together for a fun occasion. (We were all together in July when our mother died, but any photos of that week are all so sad.)

This was taken in my father's Biergarten.

In this one, we are trying to replicate the photo we posed for 25 years earlier for our parents 25th anniversary. I wasn't sure if I'd be able to get off the ground.
(Age and alcohol are not my friends.)

We think about family a lot during the holidays, but the truth is, I think about mine all the time. I pray for them and try to spend time with them and if nothing else, they are in my heart all the time. I am very thankful for each of them.

Monday, December 21, 2009

it's beginning to look a lot like christmas

Remember the snowy picture from one of my last posts? It was taken in March 2009... our one and only real storm from last winter. (When it comes to snow, we take what we can get in these parts.) Well, seems like I should have waited a few days... Here is a picture of the mouse house taken on Saturday! We had about a foot of snow here. That's a lot of snow, but to have that much snow in one storm is almost unheard of in Caroline County.

Yay! I don't remember the last time we had a White Christmas here. The truth is we have some rain in the forecast, so we might not really have a White Christmas, but having snow on the ground the week leading up to Christmas sure helps keep the Bah Humbugs at bay.

Last Monday my little town had their annual Christmas Parade. I love it! I think this is one of the nicest things about small town life. When I was a teenager living here, we had lots more parades... it's kinda sad that it's whittled down to just one, but I am thankful we still have one.

Our parade is about as small town as it comes. We have local groups on floats, fire trucks and beauty queens. And of course Santa, who always brings up the rear, riding on the fire department's ladder truck.

This year's parade sported three bands. My nephew got to march in the parade. I think this may have been his first parade. Made me think about my marching band days.

Uniforms have gotten so much snazzier since the late 70s. (Does anyone remember those God-awful Q-tip style hats we all wore back then?? Ours were red, just to make sure they really stood out.)

I like unabashedly celebrating our American traditions. Countymouse and I are such goobers... we wave to all the floats and talk to some of the parade participants. We have a ball.

(We are big fans of the Dave Attell syle self-photography.)

We've turned the parade into an excuse to have yet another holiday get-together. We keep it simple... cookies and cocoa. It's just a nice way to end the evening (and warm-up). This year I made the cocoa before the parade and put it in my Crockpot. Now I know you guys are probably not all that impressed, but at the time I thought it was genius. It definitely was awesome to be able to walk in the house and start serving. This is the recipe I used. We liked it so much, I'll be making it again.

Friday, December 11, 2009

everything you ever wanted to know about a citymouse christmas (but were afraid to ask)

I have to give credit for this meme to fritzfacts. I thought it was fun and it is the holiday season, afterall. If you decide to participate, let me know... I'd love to see your responses.

(A snowy picture taken of the mouse house, not at Christmas, but last March... just to set the mood.)

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate? Lewes Dairy Egg Nog (the adult beverage kind, of course)

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree? What kind of Grinch doesn’t at least use gift bags? Each and every one is wrapped, although the names may be written on with a Sharpie.

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white? White. I love the sparkliness of the white lights.

4. Do you hang mistletoe? No… but I still give kisses.

5. When do you put your decorations up? I can’t do anything Christmas related while the calendar still says November. We put up a live tree, so I have to be judicious about how early it can go up. I’d say definitely by the 2-week count down things are looking festive.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish? I’m not sure I have one. I love all the sweets. My mom always did the Christmas cookies. I’ll miss that, especially her oatmeal ones.

7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child? Going to my grandparents apartment in Manhattan every year for Christmas Eve and my mother telling us the red lights on the poles on top of the skyscrapers was Santa and Rudolph following us home and how we’d better go right to sleep when we got there so Santa could visit our house.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? I don’t remember but I do remember once I did know, I thought I held the secret to the universe.

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? When we were kids, we always opened a gift at my grandparents house (see #7). When my kids were little my mother always had something little for them to open at her house on Christmas Eve.

10. How do you decorate your Christmas tree? I always think themed trees are so pretty, but our tree is a true reflection of our family. It’s a little bit of everything collected over the years.

11. Snow! Love it or Dread it? Love it!

12. Can you ice skate? Once upon a time… Countrymouse and I actually went ice-skating on our first date.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift? Ever? No. I actually have more memories about gifts I’ve given than gifts I’ve received.

14. What’s the most important thing about the Holidays for you? Family (food and drink rank pretty high, too).

15. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert? Trifle.

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition? This doesn’t sound like much, but I love hosting people over the holidays and opening our home for fun and laughter. My favorite Christmas memories revolve around the people I’ve spent them with. I love getting to see all my brothers and sisters and their spouses and kids. We always have an open house the Saturday before Christmas and I host a few other get-togethers over the Holidays.

17. What tops your tree? A red, tin cardinal. (Although, to be totally transparent… we used to have a star and my kids ask me every year to get another one.)

18. Which do you prefer giving or receiving? Giving. It’s what Christmas is about. (Will anyone answering this actually say "receiving”??? Even if it’s true? (Although, “giving” really is my true answer.))

19. Candy Canes: Yuck or Yum? I’m neutral.

20. Favorite Christmas show? Cartoon: The Year Without a Santa Claus (you know, with Heat Miser and Snow Miser) and movie: White Christmas or A Christmas Story.

21. Saddest Christmas Song? I think William Fitzsimmons new Christmas song, Covered in Snow, is incredibly sad.

22. What is your favorite Christmas song? When I was a little girl, it was We Three Kings. In college, it was Christmas Wrappings. As an adult, it’s Carol of the Bells or if I’m feeling cheeky, It’s a Marshmallow World, by the wonderful Darlene Love.

Here's hoping your Christmas is filled with joy and many warm memories.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

why is the sky blue?

Okay... a short and sweet little post to try to jump start my blogging juices. Things haven't changed much since I last posted. I think about blogging all the time, especially those impossible to blog times like while I am driving or, even better, at work!! So, I've begun to think a post is a post... it doesn't need to be a tome; just my thoughts. That brings me here early this morning. It's raining cats and dogs and it's still dark outside. All the mice are snug in their beds except me. I'm doing what I love to do... puttering around the house in all it's glorious silence. I've done dishes and two loads of laundry, started dinner and watered the plants. If only this momentum could stay with me all day. We'll see.

I'm also thinking about Pup #2. We shipped him off last Friday to his first duty station. He's in Hawaii, which might as well be another country compared to Maryland. Remember how happy I was when my WC brother and WC sister moved closer?? Yeah... Hawaii. That's like 5 hours earlier than we are. He's going to sleep when I'm getting up. It's crazy to be so out of sync with him. He'll deploy in June, although there's still some talk about whether it will be Iraq or Afghanistan. I guess I should be thankful he's safe and sound in Hawaii.... all 4902 miles away from me.

Countrymouse and I are very proud of the Pup. Wanting to serve your country is always an admirable thing, but choosing to do so during wartime is especially so. We keep him in our prayers and also pray for the country and all our leaders. It would be awesome for our current administration to really back the war so we could get things accomplished. I'm pretty sure Pup #2 has more courage and conviction than a lot of those guys in DC.

Oh. Why is the sky blue? Because God loves the Infantry.