Thursday, December 31, 2015

2016 and Lots of Joy

Wow! Here we are at the end of 2015. Reminiscing over what's happened isn't nearly as exciting as thinking of what's ahead. We all have the power to make our future brighter and better. 

 This year we'll welcome 2016 with a small party at home. The roads are icy, the snow is falling, and it is a good time to stay put. It won't be anywhere as festive as the decor from last year's affair in Sparks, Nevada.

I'm thankful for Wikimedia Commons, where priceless images are available at no cost. The 1923 New Year's Card from Engle Bros. is a great reminder why tasteful, cheery advertising is a wonderful way to reinforce a brand and establish a niche! Those clever savings weren't the rage in 1923 (I have only heard; I was not there). Business owners wanted customers to feel valued, and this wish for a prosperous new year certainly did the trick.

Children as well as adults were likely tickled to see happy elves carving a greeting in the old log. The delightful card is a hundred years old. We're privileged to share memories like this through the Internet.

Lovely paperwhites deliver greenery and a delicately scented bloom in the deep of winter. The plant doesn't question its ability to thrive.

I intend to make the New Year better with better:

I cherish the writers who share thoughts, recipes, and life through their blogs. It's a good part of my day. 

Here's to a wonderful 2016!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Sammy has Mail

It is amazing what cats know. They can identify a treat bag from a distance. Leaping with great bounds, they travel through yards and across fences when they hear the can opener or a tab being pulled on a lid.

Ever since Sammy got mail with a delicious sample of Friskies Sevens in the envelope, he keeps an eye out for the mail truck. There's a big, furry cat watching my every move as I sort through the mail to decide which order it should be opened. (Did you ever notice it is more fun to open bills on payday when there are $$ to pay them?)

Maybe the envelopes are scented with Eau de Friskies. Samson knew right away there was an envelope for him. He gave my arm a headbutt and pawed the item, frantically encouraging me to open it. Greedy cat was hoping for a treat, but it was even better.

Honestly, he flipped to see a pinup of another kitty and a beautiful BOGO coupon for Friskies Saucesations. He knows mom gets him a can of wet food for special occasions, and thought it would be a good idea to go to the store and buy a couple of cans RIGHT NOW!

I checked the local stores, but Saucesations are not in stock yet. I am quite pleased that Friskies put a one-year expiration date on the coupon (that is the mark of a niche company). We should be able to find it on the shelf by 12-31-16. He's looking forward to a tasty meal and the opportunity to write another review. 

Happy New Year to everyone from our house to yours!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Believing Without Thinking

It's amazing how we accept some things without a thought. Daylight follows darkness. Nightfall encourages rest and sleep. Special days and holidays promise the possibility of a letter, card, call, or email from friends, family, acquaintances, and businesses. The purpose is to send greetings that acknowledge your existence, even though each of us believes we exist.

There's even a good feeling about thinking of changes for the New Year. What do you have in mind for 2016? Some suggestions may have taken root without pausing to think them over. Just accepting them may interfere with what actually needs done. A trip to Europe would certainly wipe out my budget, although I'd love to visit this year.

I know there will be yard sales and farmers markets nearby starting in the spring. There's no need to think about driving a few miles from home to chat with customers at the event. It's just fun to do, even if I'm not looking for something in particular. 

Picture from WMC by famartin

You've probably heard the expression "When one door closes, another opens." We believe without thinking that the next door offers hope. Smiling, we embrace whatever opportunity awaits. 

I'm looking forward to the new year and the ability to discover better and different things. Sometimes a new recipe from one of the blogs I read is a cheerful way to celebrate the day.

What good thing do you believe happens even when you don't stop to think about it?

Monday, December 14, 2015

Holiday Bounce House

Winter break is just around the corner, bringing a change to the family routine. The kids still have a lot of energy to use. Since it’s their vacation, why not make it special with a holiday bounce house?

I’ve always enjoyed the bouncing around and wonderful feeling of temporary flight as I soar into the air before falling back to the surface before lifting off again. Treat the grownups to their own special session. Rules are the same as for the kids – shoes and jewelry off, no sharp objects, and no roughhousing.

The play area encourages the kids to leave the TV and video games. Happy laughter, encouraged by bouncing and the sheer job of freedom to move, makes the holidays special. 

You’ll find the kids communicating with one another as they announce which direction they intend to go. “I’m going to fly really high!” They learn to judge distances and use their muscles to help balance their moves. 

Talk with the other parents in your area to see if they’d like to share in the cost of setup and rental. It may even become a holiday tradition that carries on for years. 

Have you experienced the joy of hopping around a bounce house?

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Traveling Tuesdays - California Snow Country

We can always depend on the mountains surrounding our Northern Nevada home to treat us to a beautiful winter snowscape. No matter which way we travel, wintertime means snow in any direction. Some of my favorite California snow country is less than a daytrip away.

Driving to Sacramento means a lovely view of Donner Pass, California. It’s an entirely different scene than its summer appearance. 

Donner Pass in the Summer, overlooking Donner Lake

near the top of Sugar Bowl

Sugar Bowl Ski Resort is located in Norden along Donner Pass. The resort is 76 years old this month! You’ll see snowboarders as well as skiers enjoying the fluffy white stuff that covers the area.

Wheeler Crest, also known as Wheeler Ridge, extends about eight miles between Inyo and Mono Counties, California. Part of it lies within the John Muir Wilderness.  Nearby areas include the town of Mammoth Lakes and city of Bishop.  It’s a picturesque way to head to Palmdale and the San Fernando Valley when the roads are open.

Bighorn ram munching snow at Wheeler Crest

Bass Lake is located on the western slope of the High Sierras, several miles from Yosemite Forks in Madera County. We’ve camped and fished in the area, taking time out to enjoy the farmer’s markets and boat show. 
Bass Lake in the wintertime.

Even a day trip requires a backup plan. I carry extra blankets, emergency rations, water, and flashlights with good batteries. Wireless service is nonexistent in much of the area. We let a friend or relative know our route and plans and establish check-in times in case they have to alert the authorities. I also carry toys, books, and games to while away the time. 

I’m glad to see and enjoy so much of this natural beauty throughout the seasons.What's your favorite place to visit?

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Offers are Only as Good as the Paper They're Written On

One thing I’ve noticed in my snail mailbox and email box lately is offers for preapproved credit cards and loans. Oh, yeah, the typical you can buy a new car/truck/motorcycle/RV for nothing down and zero percent interest with five years or so to pay it off OAC.
Golly sakes, my days of OAC have passed me by. I wonder if manufacturers realize how many sales they don’t have because a lot of people are tired of getting meaningless offers that make them feel badly because the grand old days of having more than they need are gone.

I laughed so hard when my brother Dave posted a comment on FB about the situation, and how so many lenders are ready to “give” us a loan. Really! Just go online and fill out some papers and find out right away if you’re approved. 
Come on down to get money for the things you need!
Then come down to the office with the kids and neighbors and anyone else you want to bring along, sit down with the friendly person behind the desk that flashes a megawatt smile and happy greeting to everyone. Show your ID, sign for real, and walk out the door counting your cash. Couldn’t be easier.
The loan, if you get it, is not a gift. It has to be repaid, usually with high interest rates and larger payments than you are comfortable with paying. Trouble may be waiting just around the corner. But the loan companies will go broke if they don’t convince as many people as possible that the extra money is a wonderful way to make the holiday season brighter and more impressive. 
Diamonds would be nice!

Paper offers are great for starting the kindling in the wood stove. That’s a gift of sorts. Lenders have their place in today’s world. That’s a fact of life, and someone has to do it. Meanwhile, I’d appreciate a better screening of who they send offers to and ask that they leave me “aloan”.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

It’s Time for Turkey

Ever since I was a kid, Thanksgiving meant leftovers. Creative dishes using the turkey inspired creative meals, such as turkey hash and turkey sandwiches. 

Lettuce, cranberry sauce, and a touch of salt and pepper delivered a flavorful variation of Thanksgiving dinner. Mom always made lots of yeast rolls (yummy), so we’d use the extras for sandwiches instead of ordinary bread. Thinly sliced turkey not only made the leftovers last longer, it made us kids think it was a special treat.

 By the time Sunday after Thanksgiving rolled around, we were gearing up for turkey soup. Besides potatoes and other vegetables, barley and tapioca was tossed into the liquid to add nutrition and substance to the soup. There was always enough soup to give to the elderly relatives nearby and to freeze up for use throughout the following year.

Maybe all that reminiscing affected my shopping habits last week. If I bought $25 of qualifying products, I could get a 12 pound turkey for $10 or a 22 pound turkey for $13. Big turkey in the basket, lickety-split. There’s going to be a lot of frozen soup and extra meat in the freezer come next Saturday, but that’s okay. There’s a large assortment of recipes to make with the extras. Turkey pot pie is a deliciously warm meal on a cold winter’s night.

Remember the pumpkin pie!

Do you have a favorite leftover turkey recipe you enjoy making?