Sunday, December 22, 2013

Sunday Salon - December 22, 2013

It has been a long time since I have posted, but there is a bit of an explanation.  I have managed to contract the flu twice in one month (!) and had final exams to develop, proctor, and grade.  I am hoping that I can find a more regular blogging routine in 2014, but in the meantime, here is a bit of a catch up:

Today's Weather:  Finally... the first snow of the year!  Although we did not receive the predicted 3-6 inches of the fluffy stuff (more like one inch plus)... the white landscape does make it feel like Christmas.

What's on the menu:  Not sure what we will be eating today and tomorrow... but boy do I have two feasts to prepare for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Christmas Eve is the Italian Vigil - originally the "feast of seven fishes" that we have adapted to the feast of shellfish.  I serve the aioli pasta (olive oil and anchovy sauce... don't knock until you've tried it), shrimp, crab (this year we will do a taste comparison of snow crab and king crab), salmon and scallops (my first time to prepare scallops ... so if you have any foolproof recipes, I would love to hear).  Dessert is an assortment of Christmas cookies and the Italian Strufoli (little honey balls).

Christmas Day is celebrated American style with standing rib roast, mashed potatoes, and green bean casserole.  Dessert includes pumpkin as well as mincemeat pies.

I am always amazed how much time it takes to prepare these meals... and how quickly they are devoured.  But the joy around the dining room table - from the food and the fellowship - is worth the effort.

Highlights of the week:  Well, before the flu bug hit... there were actually several highlights.  On Tuesday students completed their final exams... and by Tuesday night all grades had been entered and my Christmas break officially began.

On Wednesday the girls and I went to see the Disney movie, Frozen, which was delightful.  And on Thursday afternoon the girls came over to help prepare Christmas cookies:  chocolate covered pretzels, M&M cookies, Pinwheel cookies, and Bishop's Bread (similar to fruitcake but with chocolate chips).

Teaching Overview:  Well, it is now official:  I will retire in May, 2014.

I actually made the decision in October, but waited to tell the students until the last day of class for the semester.  It is with mixed emotions for sure... but I do feel that it is the right time.  I have several ideas for ways to fill my time, most notably writing, photography, and as finances allow... a bit of travel.

In the meantime, I shall thoroughly enjoy second semester, knowing that it will be the last time that I will introduce the classics like Pride and Prejudice and Tale of Two Cities.  

Currently Reading:  Well.... not sure what I will be reading, but I can tell you that I will be reading it on my new Paperwhite Kindle!

My dear brother and sister-in-law give me amazon gift cards every year for my birthday and Christmas.  Typically I hold on to these for months before I finally decide what to purchase.  This year, however, I knew well in advance that the Paperwhite was going to be my treat and when the gift card arrived early, I did the unthinkable and actually opened it.  I ordered my Kindle on Tuesday and received it on Friday.  It is now fully charged, loaded with several books, and ready for reading.

Writing Progress:  In November I attended a breakout session at the writers' conference which  awarded a free "writing coach" session for anyone who set and completed a writing goal for the month.  Since I won the NaNoWriMo event ... I secured a session.

A week ago I met with the coach and really enjoyed our time together.  Not only will she be an accountability partner, but she will also help me to fine tune the direction that my writing should take.  I will probably meet with her about once every three weeks for the next few months and then hopefully I will be on my way to knowing what to write and how to make it a priority in my life.

Artist's Date: Hmmm.... not sure when was the last time I scheduled one of these.  That needs to be remedied after the Christmas festivities....

Craftiness:  Most creativity has taken the form of baking cookies ... but I have great plans to use my brand new Silhouette Portrait --- thanks in part to Catherine's post which inspired my daughter and I to trade in my cricut and take advantage of the holiday special:  essentially two machines for the price of one!

Megan has already made several beautiful holiday crafts, including a canvas painting for the wall and holiday gift bags.... and hopefully I will soon use mine for a few greeting card ideas.

Photography:  After reviewing my "failed" attempts at the 365 Project for the past three years (I always have great intentions...) I have decided that a 52 project is much more in line with my personality and photography routine.  I do take pictures several times a week... just not everyday.  And I like the idea of selecting one "best" photo of the week.  So, come January, this will be my new (more plausible) challenge.

And it should be a fun challenge as I use my new camera lens:  the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 (with image stabilization). This is the lens of my dreams... and if it weren't for being at the right place at the right time on Craigslist... it would still be on the list.  But I managed to find this powerhouse lens for half price - and since it was owned by a professional photographer, it is in super shape.

Needless to say, there will not be any gifts for me under the tree this year as I have received all of them early.... but I shall dearly love each and every one throughout the coming years.

What's on the Horizon:  Well, according to a text message time stamped 1:00am this morning... my son and his wife are now in Kansas City!  So, I am sure we will have the first of many "Totoro" gatherings today... perhaps for a late brunch.

As an early Christmas gift, my youngest gave us tickets to the Trans Siberian Orchestra concert tonight at the Sprint Center - and I am beyond thrilled!  I have had this item on my bucket list for years and while there was some concern whether my health or the weather would prevent me from attending... I can now guarantee that I will be there... with Jingle Bells on.

I know that the Totoros are looking forward to a wonderful celebration of our Savior's birth... and I wish you and your families blessings throughout this holiday season.


  1. Glad you're feeling better because you have so many wonderful things to enjoy. Congrats on making the plunge to retirement and lining up a writing coach!

    Joy's Book Blog

  2. That stomach flu is going around -- glad you're feeling better and so much to look forward to next year! And what great gifts you have -- a reader and a lens.