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Sunday, December 30, 2012

It's Like that Movie, Groundhog Day

We're puppy sitting. My sister's smaller, older dog injured her back playing in the snow after I took the photos of the dogs in their Santa suits. The vet says she should be fine, as long as she is kept confined and gets lots of rest. Well, the younger dog does not understand that and keeps bugging her sister. So she has been banished to our house until Baizie gets better. Normally, this dog will not leave my side. Not sure if Walker loaded his pockets with jerky or something, but check out these two piles of lazy bones.   They are going on about 19 hours parked in this chair.

8pm Saturday night ~

Midnight ~
3pm Sunday ~

4:30 Sunday ~
Seriously, I take the puppy out for potty breaks, and every so often she goes to her toy box for a new toy, but for the most part, they have been parked there since we got home a little after 7 last night.  In the meantime, I have taken down the Christmas tree, balanced my checkbook, cleaned the bathroom, finished two loads of laundry, and organized all the paperwork for my taxes. It's a good thing Walker has to work tonight.  If he doesn't get out of that chair soon, his butt will meld with it.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Monday, December 24, 2012

Why, Thank You, Proctor & Gamble!

Each October, Proctor & Gamble partners with ShopKo stores to raise money for the Susan G Komen
foundation for breast cancer research.  This year, we had to send in receipts for $35 in Proctor & Gamble products to receive a free gift.  There was a long list of products, many of which I buy regularly anyway.  So I made my list, bought my stuff, mailed in the receipt, and forgot about it.  Until Friday, when a brown box landed on my doorstep.

Hmmm, what have we here? Pretty pink tissue is hiding............

Pretty pink kitchen ware.  Wow, now this is a nice gift.  A frying pan, silicone tongs, a cutting board, and a heat resistant spatula.  They even included a $10 Visa gift card.  Gotta love that! And just in time for my cancer-versary.   Thank you, Proctor & Gamble!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Minneapolis, Part 3

Are y'all tired of hearing about our Minneapolis weekend yet? I promise this will be the last post.  :)  On Saturday, my family converged on the Hyatt.  My aunt even flew in from Colorado.  The only ones missing were my sister and her boys, but we found a way to include them, as you will see later.

First item on the agenda was for Miss Diva.  She has been begging to go for fondue at the Melting Pot, and we were all happy to indulge her.  Since it was mid-afternoon, we ordered there "bookends," a cheese fondue and chocolate fondue combo, instead of a full meal.  We were seated at adjoining booths, and I hopped back and forth making sure everyone had a good time.  Cubs only agreed to join us after I told him they would set the chocolate fondue on fire.

The Man Table - Walker, Bro, Cubs, and Squeak

A very excited Miss Diva waits for fondue

The Newlyweds

Chocolate on fire - WOOT!

After the Melting Pot we had to hustle back to the Hyatt to round up the rest of the family.  We also had some surprises to hand out, in the form of glow necklaces, Mardi Gras beads, and flashing pins.  We also picked up Swensons on a Stick, photo heads of the missing family members.  Then we went off to the Hot Seats tent to await the Holidazzle parade.  Because my mom and my aunt have limited mobility, we were permitted to enter the tent early.

Waiting for the parade

Looking for Sugar Daddies

The kids each had one stick person to entertain ~ we put stocking caps on them so they didn't get cold.
The parade was beautiful, as always.  Inside the tent, it's a little hard to hear the choir float but we lucked out - Saturday's choir was a lively group, singling loud and proud.  My sister stood outside the tent to get her photos, as they don't turn out well through the plexi wall of the tent.   It started to drizzle while the parade was going on, a fine, light rain, that just made everything more beautiful with the reflections of the lights.

After the parade we returned to the Hyatt and our fabulous Taj Mahal suite.  We had pre-ordered gourmet pizza from Pizza Luce.  They showed up right on time with fresh salad and the best pizza ever.  My mom brought homemade Christmas cookies and we all sat around noshing on yummy food and visiting and having just a really, really nice gathering.  I was a little sad when the festivities came to an end.  We haven't all been together like that since my dad died seven years ago.  I hope we don't wait so long to do this again.

Peeps, today is a special day for me.  Two years ago today I rang the bell in the cancer center, signalling an end to my treatment.  I was declared officially cancer free.  It was the best Christmas gift I have ever gotten, the best I ever will get.  Merry Christmas to all of you, your families and loved ones.  Thank you for your friendship.  It means so much to me ~

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Dazzle Date

I'm experimenting with a Flickr account for my photos, and so far, it's not working. I can't figure out how to post normal sized photos in a group. So please bear with me while I figure it out. In the meantime, you can follow the link "Dazzle Date" below to see the photos full sized.

So we had just checked into our fabulous suite and brought in our luggage when a bellman  knocked on our door with a tray of Heineken on ice for Walker.  As he set it up, he asked what we were celebrating and I told him it was Walker's birthday.  He offered sincere greetings - everyone was so, so friendly.  We enjoyed a cold beer while we got ready for the Holidazzle parade.

This year, for the first time, we bought Hot Seats.  Hot Seats are bleacher seats in a heated tent along the parade route.  Having never used these before, we didn't know the process, so I had my purchase receipt tucked into my coat pocket and we got to the tent early. I have to say, the Hot Seats are a mixed blessing.  First of all, they sell out fast, so I bought the tickets in November.  It was pretty warm in Minneapolis while we were there, so it turns out that we didn't really need the heated tent.  It was hard to get good photos through the plexiglass, so after a couple attempts I put the camera away and just enjoyed the show.

After the parade, Walker and I walked up to Murray's where we enjoyed a fabulous steak dinner.  It's such a treat for us to sit down and enjoy a leisurely meal in a fine restaurant.  Murray's serves up such large portions, we ended up taking half our food home.  As we wandered through downtown, it started to drizzle.  I took a couple photos of the church across from the Hyatt.  I just love the way they light it at night.  And then, another surprise: we returned to our room to find the bellman had left us a place of absolutely decadent chocolate cake, chocolate covered strawberries, and sliced strawberries with basil anglaise.  Walker said it was his best birthday ever ~

Dazzle Date, a set on Flickr.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Suite Life ~

So, my Walker had a birthday this past weekend.  As usual, we decided to celebrate in Minneapolis.  What wasn't so usual was, most of my family came along with us.

Walker and I left town on Friday, driving up to the Twin Cities in the early afternoon.  We had a beautiful day for the drive, sunny and warm, and made excellent time getting to our destination.  This year, we decided to stay at the Hyatt Regency for the first time.  Can I tell you?  I wish we had been staying here all along.  The hotel itself is beautiful.  The staff is wonderful, friendly & helpful, and everyone went out of their way to make sure we all had a great experience.  The first surprise?  Walker and I were on the standby list for a junior suite.  You can reserve a suite right off the bat, or you can gamble on the standby list, which means that if there is a junior suite available when you check in, you can have it at a significantly reduced price.  If there is no suite available, you still have your standard room.  Now, Walker and I are of the same mind when it comes to hotel reservations.  Typically if a room is clean and quiet, we don't care for the extras.  We go for value every time.  After all, we don't go out of town to hang out in a hotel room.

Our annual Minneapolis trip is the exception to that rule.  Why?  The weather, for one thing.  We do spend more time in the hotel when we travel in December.  Also, these are weekend trips.  Y'all know I work the night shift.  A two day trip is not long enough for me to completely switch my sleep schedule from days to nights.  So I'm up late and I sleep in in the morning.  Walker, on the other hand, has no trouble adjusting.  A suite with a separate sleeping area is helpful when we are on different schedules.  So we took the standby upgrade.

Then the Hyatt did us one better:  they upgraded our upgrade.  Instead of a junior suite, we were given the VIP suite, a one bedroom, two bath apartment on the top floor of the hotel.  It is beautiful. My first house wasn't that big.  It was quite a treat, and a timely one, as the suite had a dining room and we were expecting eleven family members.  Take a look: 

Comfy king sized bed ~

Sitting area in the bedroom

Living room ~

Dining area and the kitchenette ~

The kitchenette with seating for four ~

The view from the dining room ~

This was easily the nicest hotel room we have ever had the pleasure of staying in.  It was ours for Friday and Saturday nights, and on Sunday morning we hated to leave.  I was happy to leave a positive review on Trip Advisor and I sent an email thank you to the manager of the hotel, but I still feel like we owe the hotel staff a big, huge thank you for making our weekend so special. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Teaser ~

Holy crow, y'all!  We just got back from the BEST weekend in Minneapolis.  I have to figure out how to use an alternative photo cache so I can post lots of pictures and tell you all about it.  The short version is, thirteen of us converged on Downtown Minneapolis for dining, Holidazzling, visiting, shopping, and celebrating.  The hotel treated us very, very well, we had some fabulous food, and a great time was had by all.  Please stop back and hopefully I'll have gotten my full post done ~

Happy Birthday, Walker!!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Woot! Vacation Begins ~

The oncology appointment went great yesterday.  The tech that drew my blood was a lovely German woman named Heidie.  I just love her accent.  She has worked with me before, and she remembered me, which....I don't know....they see so many people, she must have a great memory, because I didn't have any problems that day and it was over a year ago.  I wonder why I stuck in her memory.  Probably should not ponder that question, LOL.  Anyway, she went straight for the butterfly needle and got a good draw right away, no messing around with hot packs and heated blankets and big bottles of water.  I do not have a bruise or anything.  Then I saw a new doctor, as my "official" oncologist is being treated for cancer, too.  This doctor is temporary.  He told me there will be a new, permanent oncologist at my next six month check.  I had no problems but when he asked me if I am sleeping well, I told him I often have hot flashes at night so he gave me a new prescription to try.  I also have a small brown spot in the part in my hair that he wants me to get checked.  He made an appointment with a dermatologist in January, but he thinks it's just a large freckle.  I have a family history of skin cancer so they are being extra careful.  I hope I don't come home with a big bare spot in the middle of my head, but if I do, well, I have a hat.  A cute one with a pink cancer ribbon on it, left over from when I was supposed to have chemo.  Or I could get that spray on hair they sell on QVC.....

After the appointment, Walker and I went to Walgreens for my prescriptions but they only had one, the refill of Tamoxofen.  The new meds didn't show up in their system.  Back to the cancer center, talk to the nurse, submit the paperwork to Walgreens again.  Back to Walgreens, wait for the meds. Walker was getting impatient. I was glad to finally get out of there with everything I needed.

The fabulous bakery next door to the cancer center is closing in January, so we stopped there next.  The owners of the bakery want out of the business, so they are just closing it, which is sad for so many reasons.  For one, it's the best bakery in town.  And so many jobs lost, in a fairly small community.  Some customers are trying to help the employees work a deal where they sell the business to the employees, but the owners don't seem too interested in keeping it going.  They just want out of the business.  I bought a box of my favorite cookies - oatmeal made with rice krispies and drizzled with white chocolate - cause this is probably the last time I will be able to get them.  I don't get to that part of town often, and their goods sell out pretty early in the day. Too early for me, unless I'm already in the 'hood for an appointment.  Time to start trolling the internet for the recipe.

By this time it was getting dark, so we drove around looking at the Christmas lights before heading to our favorite little bistro for dinner.  Apparently Thursday is not a busy night about town.  The owners stopped by our table to chat, then dropped off some samples of their upcoming menu items along with a take-home dessert for Walker's birthday.  It was a really, really nice dinner.  And the new menu items?  Delish!  Can't wait for them to be available. 

I have four more days off from the office.  I'm looking forward to a good night's sleep (hope these new pills  work!) and getting all my Christmas shopping done.  I sent the last batch of cards out this morning.  Right now, I think it's time for one of those fabulous cookies ~

Thursday, December 13, 2012

One More Hurdle

I've finished work for the week - LOVE December - but today I have my checkup with the oncologist to get through before I can do anything else.  Walker has the rest of this weekend off, too, so I'm anxious to just "get on with it".  The doctor portion of the visit is fine; my doctor is nice, the appointment goes quickly, it's not a big deal.  It's the blood draw that has my stomach in knots.

If you've been visiting me for a while, you have probably heard me whine about these appointments.  I am told I have "bad veins", and now that they are limited to only using one arm, the problem is compounded.  It has taken up to an hour, and several needle sticks, for the phlebotomists to get the blood they need for the tests.  I'm not afraid of needles and I don't care that it hurts.  What gets me is, when they can't get a vein and they start to get nervous.  Then I get nervous, which makes it worse, and I start thinking that if they don't get it soon I'm going to end up on the floor which has only happened twice but was twice too often, in my opinion....

The tech I had last time didn't say too much to me.  I get in there and just keep talking, cause someone, sometime, told me that would keep me calm. I don't ask questions and I don't care if they even listen to me, but she must have been irritated because she went and got Walker to talk back to me.  She did a great job, though, got it on the first try and I didn't even bruise.  Fingers are crossed that I get another good one today ~

Monday, December 10, 2012

Today ~

We got our snow!  It's still falling, and boy is it pretty ~

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Welcome, Snow ~

Proving once again that I have no idea what's good for me, the eye doctor told me my eyes are actually better, not worse.  Since my contacts are now too strong, my vision is blurry.  He gave me a sample of new contacts, which I will try out as soon as I use up the two pair of disposable lenses I still have on hand.

On Friday, Walker and I took advantage of my night off to go out to eat - like normal people - for dinner.  Technically, this is not his birthday weekend, but we celebrated anyway with his mom and his sister and some nice, juicy steaks.  The Outback treated him to a hot fudge sundae, too.

On the way home, we toured the neighborhood looking for lights. Our neighborhood is pretty lit up, with different themes from house to house.  Some of our neighbors have quite a sense of humor.

Gotta admit, I love this little train ~

 We're supposed to get our first big snowstorm tonight.  I've been waiting for Christmas snow, though I'm sure I'm in the minority around town.  I hope it does not pass us by.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Eyes Have It

I'm off to the eye doctor today.  I wear contact lenses, so I have to go every year.  Usually, whatever day I have to go we have a huge blizzard and I have to drive home in flying snow with my eyes dilated.  No fun!  But this year, we have rain, not snow, and Walker will be driving me.  I don't have to go to work tonight, or tomorrow, so once I'm done at the doctor, I'm on a mini vacation.  Wahoo!  I'm taking my sweetie out to lunch to celebrate.

The company I work for gives us generous vacation time, but we have to use it as our sick time, too.  So I usually save a week or so, just in case.  If we don't use it up by the end of the year, we lose it, so I always end up with a lot of time off in December.  I have Thursday and Friday off next week, too.  I'm going to finish my holiday cards and get my Christmas gifts wrapped today.  And I'm going to make some treats to send to my nephew at college.  He has finals next week, and I know he'll appreciate the goodies.

This year, my vision has gotten noticeably worse.  Last year, the doctor told me I was on the border of needing bifocals.  Well, I can tell you without even having my appointment that I have crossed the border and moved deep into bifocal territory.  I can't see a flipping thing up close without my readers on.  I can't even read labels at the grocery store.  Unfortunately, my insurance will not pay for new glasses until 2014, so those will be coming out of my pocket. In the meantime, I'll keep using readers with my contacts. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Happy Birthday, Miss Diva!

Miss Diva turns 11 this week.  I can't believe how fast that kid is growing up.  This year, she asked her daddy to take her out to lunch somewhere that served batter fried cheese curds and would have the football game on.  There's a bar & grill up the road that met her requirements, so we made arrangements to head up there before the Vikings took on the Packers on Sunday.  Miss Diva found out that Aaron Rodgers, the quarterback for the Packers, was also celebrating his birthday on Sunday.  She was so excited that my sister bought her a Packer's jersey with his number on it.  The number even has sparkles in it.

The bar and grill is very family friendly, and it wasn't too busy for the big game.  We ordered Diva's cheese curds along with some pizza and jalapeno poppers and settled in. The game was good, the company was great, and at the end of the day, I was awarded a door prize - a gift certificate to the bar and grill. We all had a great time.  Happy Birthday, baby girl!

The restaurant treated Diva to a hot fudge sundae with mint chip ice cream.  YUM!!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Random Weekend Bits

It's raining.  Light, drizzly rain, and lots of fog.  We need moisture, but I was hoping for snow.  It just does not feel like Christmas to me until everything is covered in a sparkling white blanket. Then about mid January, I'm ready for it all to be gone. 

I filled up the bird feeders today.  They weren't empty, but two minutes after I filled them we had a wood pecker on the suet cake, cardinals on the pillar feeder,  and squirrels on the ground, cleaning up anything that dropped.  All afternoon, flocks of birds came to snack.  I'm not good at knowing their names, but I do recognize many of them.  Today, we had birds I don't recall seeing before.  Every time I went to the window, camera in hand, they scattered. 

My niece, Mara, came to spend the afternoon, too.  Walker brought us lunch, and Mara went through a box of clothes I had culled from my closet.  Mara is a sweet girl, but I worry about her.  She is twenty three, not working, not in school.  Everyone needs a sense of purpose, right?  I wonder what gets her going in the morning.  She says she's looking for work.  I hope she finds something soon.  It will get harder, as she gets older, to explain that big white space in her resume.  But what do you do?  She's an adult, she's in charge of her choices.  All I can do is offer support.

After that, we worked on some projects for our upcoming family reunion.  We've got some fun stuff planned, and I am super excited for the time to come and the family to gather.  I'm the event coordinator, cause, you know, I have all that free time to fill.  Honestly, I don't mind the planning.  I pretty much gave up trying to please everyone.  I just tell them, here's what we're doing each day, join us if you like.  There is just no way to get a large group to agree on everything.   

Monday, November 26, 2012


Walker, as we came home from the shopping district party:  Can I use the computer for a couple minutes before you get online?
Me:  Yes, but aren't you really tired?
Walker:  Yes, but I'll just be a couple minutes.
Me:  Okay, but please don't fall asleep in my chair.  If you do I'll have to wake you up and kick you out. I hate to have to do that but I really have a lot of work to do.
Walker:  I'm not going to fall asleep.  Geez!  I think I can stay awake for five minutes!  I'm not a kid, for Pete's sake!
Four minutes later......

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Ready, Set, Shop!

The local shopping district has a fun tradition for Black Friday weekend, one I knew very little about before this year.  It seems that a couple years ago, they started a little kick off celebration with food, music, and fireworks before the holiday shopping season commences.  It is colder than normal here, and the celebration is held outdoors, at night, so I probably would have skipped it, but Diva was performing, and Walker and I both had the night off work. Off we went.

The park was decorated with hundreds of colored Christmas lights, strung through the trees.  Diva's choir performed several songs, a lively Santa danced around the park shelter, local businesses passed out cookies, candy canes, hot dogs, and cocoa.  Outside, there were bonfires and s'mores.  The mayor gave a speech. The high school marching band trooped through, playing their hearts out.  Then the fireworks exploded overhead.  It was awesome.

Sometimes it seems more trouble than it's worth to don layer after layer of clothing, drive to the other end of town, and stomp around in the cold for a two hour party.  But you know, when we take the time to actually do it, we are always glad we did.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Aw, Really, Blogger? - Updated

I got an error when I tried to upload some blog photos today.  Apparently, I have used up all my free storage and can no longer upload photos unless I start paying for more space.  I'm not sure I want to do that. It's only a couple bucks a month, but, I don't know....they tell you Blogger is free then ask you to pay for your photos.  I already host ads on my page, which should generate a little revenue for Blogger. Do they really need me to pony up cash?

I have a couple options.  I looked at my online album and it had quite a few duplicate photos, which I deleted.  I also deleted the photos from the book reviews I did a long time ago.  That freed up a little space, but it won't be long before I get the error again.  Unless, of course, I just do posts without photos, but what fun would that be?

Looks like I misunderstood the problem.  Yes, my photo sharing is out of space and I will have to subscribe to a paid upgrade to keep using it.  But that is a Picasa problem, not Blogger.  And I do not have to use Picasa for my photos.  I can use Photobucket or Flickr......there are probably others, too.  Will have to look into these options.  And next time, I'll do my research before I start complaining. =)

Friday, November 23, 2012

Deck the Halls

Nephew Cubby decided to sleep over on Wednesday night, since he was on vacation from school and I had the night off work.  He packed a bag for the occasion:  

I don't even rate clean socks, LOL ~

Since I had the night off, Walker and I hosted a lasagna dinner for the family.  Before we ate, Cubby and Squeak decorated my Christmas tree.  It's a pretty sad looking Walmart clearance reject but after the boys show it some love, it's not too bad:

I'm glad the boys are still willing to do this, because I really don't care to.  We're not home in the evenings to light the tree, and with no little ones here, it's just not a priority to me.  I do like to have a tree up when someone else does the work, though.

After dinner the boys resurrected my Jib Jab account.   They had a good time making holiday greetings and posting them on Facebook.  This one is my favorite, so I'm sharing. Click Here and Enjoy!

Thursday, November 22, 2012