Wednesday, December 31, 2014


Sunset on a farm near West Galena Township, Jo Daviess County, Illinois

Goodbye December.  And goodbye 2014.  You have been a good year and are going out on a high note for me.

Thank you for sharing my sunsets all year with me.  And thank you for being a reader of my blog.  I appreciate each of you and each comment you make.  Here's to another great year in 2015!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014


Only three books this month.  It was a busy month so I didn't get a lot done.

NEEDLED TO DEATH:  A Knitting Mystery by Maggie Sefton
Published 2006

Now that she's been knitting up a storm with the help of her new friends at House of Lambspun, Kelly Flynn can't imagine ever leaving Fort Connor, Colorado.  But there's trouble in her adopted hometown.  When Kelly volunteers to take a group of tourists to visit Vickie Claymore's alpaca farm, she discovers Fort Connor isn't as sedate as it seems.  Instead of a warm welcome, they find Vickie splayed out on her original hand-woven rug, her blood seeping into the design.  The police jump on the case, but Kelly can't resist doing a little investigative work of her own -- even if it means taking a break from the sweater she's been knitting in the round.

This is the second book in the Kelly Flynn knitting mystery series.  I loved the first book and so looked forward to reading this one.  I wasn't disappointed.  The characters are so real.  I can see these books being made into a series of movies.  I really could not figure out "who dun it" and was surprised to find out who it was.  There were plenty of clues, but I just didn't catch on.  Maybe I'm dense?  Being an avid knitter, I really get into the stories.  Besides which there are knitting instructions and a recipe at the end.  What more could you want?

THINGS WILL NEVER BE THE SAME (A 26 Fairmount Avenue Book) by Tomie De Paola
Published:  2003

Tomie is thrilled.  He has his own diary with a lock and key.  Now he can write down all his secrets and no one can read them.

All through the year exciting things happen and Tomie shares them with his diary -- racing down the steep snowy hill on his Junior Flexible Flyer; seeing Mr. Walt Disney's new movie, Fantasia; celebrating Easter at Nan Fall River's; being a pirate with an eyepatch in Miss Leah's Dance Recital; going to an amusement park with his grandfather, Tom; and starting second grade with real art lessons at last!

Then it is almost Christmas when one Sunday the family hears news on the radio that changes everything.  Tomie's mom tells him that "Things will never be the same."

And they weren't after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.  The book is set in 1941 and ends on December 7th.  Yes, it's another Tomie book and we are thoroughly enjoying them.  So glad I accidentally discovered them.  Now on to the next one.

KILT DEAD (A Liss Mac Crimmon Mystery) by Kaitlyn Dunnett
Published:  2007

As a professional Scottish dancer, Liss Mac Crimmon has performed strathspeys and reels, jigs and Highland flings until a knee injury cuts her career short.  Returning to her hometown of Moosetookalook, Maine, she decides to help her aunt run her Scottish emporium.  But when murder rears its ugly head in the idyllic, quiet village, Liss will have to add sleuthing to her repertoire.

Liss hasn't been in Moosetookalook in over ten years, but the quaint little town, nestled in the hilly terrain of western Maine, looks exactly as she remembers it.  Only home a day before her aunt takes off on a tour of Scotland, Liss mans the emporium's  booth at the annual Western Maine Highland Games.  There she gets reacquainted with some old friends and new local characters, including an obnoxious real estate agent and his spoiled girlfriend who insists on ordering a custom made kilt sewn from a plaid called the Flower of Scotland.

Liss knows a sale is a sale and returns to the emporium that night exhausted yet happy.  But her bliss soon turns to dread when she finds the dead body of her aunt's nosy neighbor, Amanda Norris, under a bolt of the Flower of Scotland fabric in the stockroom.  And if things weren't bad enough, the state police hone in on Liss as the prime suspect.

With the help of Dan Ruskin, a neighbor and former high school classmate, Liss begins her own investigation that uncovers secrets about the residents of Moosetookalook -- secrets she wished had stayed buried.  Now Liss will have to do some fancy footwork to prove she's innocent while avoiding becoming the killer's next victim.

This is a new author to me.  I saw one of her books come in and was intrigued with it since I am part Scottish and proud of my heritage.  Instead of reading the third book in the series, I went back to the beginning and got the first book out of the library.  I really like the characters.  I had my suspicions about the murderer, but I was entirely wrong.  Surprise!  I liked it enough that I am going to read the rest of the series.

Monday, December 29, 2014


Today is my birthday.  I took off from work and decided to sleep in.  Joe was going to make breakfast for me but instead I ate the left over Chinese food from last night.  It was good!

For my birthday Joe gave me a beautiful silver cross (this is in addition to the one he gave me for Christmas) and a tablet.  I am reading the directions and will try to power it up tomorrow.

This afternoon Joe and I met Walt and Carole and we went to the Hibachi Grill for a late lunch/early dinner.


It is this super buffet.  Although most of the food is Chinese, they also have Japanese, Polish, Middle Eastern, American, pizza and a steak bar.  This is only the second time I have been there.  They have six rows of buffet items.  I never get past the third one.  And dessert?  Forget it.  Who has room for dessert?  It was so much fun to go there.

Walt and Carole gave us a $25 gift certificate to Cracker Barrel for Christmas.  It was funny because we gave them a $25 gift certificate for Cracker Barrel.  We laughed and said we would have to go together sometime soon.  They also gave me a gift card to Wawa.  So I have lunch for the next week at work on them!

After we ate we went to the jeweler's to get a battery for my watch and to get my silver cross fixed that Joe had given me for Christmas.  When I went to take it out of the box, the loop holding the cross onto the chain broke and went flying.  I never did find it.  They were able to fix it and it is even better than it was originally.

Then we went a couple of stores down to the Hallmark store.  They are going out of business and everything was 50% off!  I am so sorry to see them go.  I will have to find someplace else to buy my Hallmark.  I got three Yankee candles in scents that I like and a 2014 Christmas ornament.  It's a cute little snowman that I really liked.  And at 50% off how could I resist?

When we got home I was so tired I laid down and took a nap.  I woke up with my sister calling me to wish me a happy birthday.  Then my brother called.  As I was talking to him my neighbor Chrissy came over.  She had a birthday gift for me.  Isn't this cute?  It's a Happy Birthday glass and a little bottle of sparkling cider.  So sweet!

She stayed to have a piece of birthday cake with us.  I talked her into taking my picture.

So another year down.  One more year and I'm retirement age.  I'm really looking forward to that.  And the years pass by so quickly that it will be here before I know it.

It's been a wonderful couple of days celebrating my birthday.  Tomorrow it's back to work.

Monday's weather
Partly cloudy
High:  46 degrees
Low:  37 degrees
Sunrise:  7:22 a.m.
Sunset:  4:44 p.m.
9 hours and 21 minutes of daylight
The days are getting longer.    

Sunday, December 28, 2014


It has been a long time since I went to the ballet.  I love going at Christmas to see "The Nutcracker".  I like other ballets too, but this is my favorite.  Even though this is the fourth time I have seen it, every time it is a little different.  The sets and costumes this year were astounding.  You really felt transported looking at them.

Our friends Bud and Karen took Joe and I to see it.  I wasn't allowed to take any pictures, so I am sharing some from Google and the Pennsylvania Ballet with you.

The ballet is always performed at the Academy of Music.  We went to the 5:00 p.m. show.

The Academy is based on the Paris Opera House.  It is magnificent inside.
We were sitting in the second balcony.  We were in the second row.  The only problem we had seeing was the railing right in front of us that cut the stage in two.
The carvings and the chandelier are magnificent.

I love going there.  It's just wonderful.
 The ballet was just marvelous.  It seemed much shorter than I remembered it.  I could have watched it for another hour.  The dancers were so good!  There is no way I could ever stand on my toes as long as they did.  And there were some funny parts too, like when the King Mouse died he went through all these death throes.

The fight between the Nutcracker and the Mouse King.
Dance of the snowflakes.
Chinese dance
Candy cane dance
The Dewdrop and the Dance of the Flowers
As always the best part was the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier.  They were magnificent.  There is just no other word for it.
 After the show we went to Chinatown for dinner.  We drove around for about half an hour looking for parking.  Finally we went into a parking lot and right across the street was a place where Karen and Bud had been before called Sang Kee Peking Duck House.  They said it was good so we went there.  They were right.  The food was wonderful.  And so much!  We all brought home food for later.  We got another whole meal out of it.

Bud and Joe split a duck for two dinner.  Karen had some noodles with veggies and ginger and I had chicken and vegetables.  Karen and I split some fried dumplings and Joe and Bud split vegetable won ton soup unlike any I have ever seen.  Joe and I are thinking of going back there again soon.

We got home around 10:00 p.m.  It has been a wonderful day!



I John 4:9-10
This is how the love of God is revealed to us:  God has sent his only Son into the world so that we can live through him.  This is love;  it is not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son as the sacrifice that deals with our sins.

How Firm a Foundation

Saturday, December 27, 2014


It was back to work today.  Not much else going on though.  So I thought I would show you the pictures I took of tree ornaments at my sister's house (and a couple from mine).  I loved how the first picture turned out, so tried to get some more.  Hope you enjoy them.

This is the star I got this year in Lancaster.

The candy canes are new this year also.

The rest of the pictures are from Elaine's tree.  I love the candy cane striped NOEL.

She has several reindeer on the tree.  I love the way this one turned out.

A crystal angel

Another reindeer

She got this Christmas tree ornament when we were in high school.
Another crystal ornament

I love those crystal ornaments.  She has tons of Lenox on the tree also.  Next year I will have to take pictures of them.

Enjoy your weekend.  Tomorrow some friends are taking me (and Joe, of course) to the ballet to see The Nutcracker for my birthday.  My actual birthday is Monday.  I'm drawing this out for as long as I can!


Friday, December 26, 2014


Merry Christmas everyone!  I hope you all had a wonderful day yesterday.

Mine began with wrapping gifts.  I had wanted to get everything done earlier, but you know how that is. I had fallen asleep on the sofa.  I woke up at 3:00 a.m. and kept right on wrapping.  I finished around 7:30 a.m.  Then it was breakfast, shower, dress, pack, and Joe and I opening gifts from each other.  Joe gave me a beautiful sterling silver locket and a beautiful sterling silver cross.  I love them!  I gave Joe a homeowner's tool kit with 51 tools and a bag and adjustable wrench.  He was surprised and so pleased.

We wanted to leave for my sister's about 10:00 a.m., but didn't get on the road until 2:00 p.m.  That's about par for us.  So we got up there around 4:00 p.m.  MUCH later than we wanted to.

My sister's house is magical at Christmas.  You would think you had entered the North Pole.  I love going there.  Look at her beautiful tree!

We started opening our gifts.  I got the new Martha Stewart cookbook, "One Pot."  It was one I had asked for and was really happy to get it.

Joe got Fleetwood Mac's "Rumours" album.

Elaine had asked for this cool clock and Joe got it for her.

My brother, Larry, had sent our gift to my sister's house.  He had two of his photographs framed for us.  Now I just have to decide where to put them.  I think I know.  You can see his work on his blog, "Exploration Photography".  It's listed on my sidebar.  Check it out!

Joe got Elaine a cocker spaniel garden stone when we were in Lancaster in September.

We got a breakfast sandwich maker.  I can't wait to try it out.

Elaine also gave me a hair dryer which I desperately need since mine broke and to Joe a scarf and gloves.  I got Elaine a sweatshirt that she had asked for.

I put a little bottle of sparkling cider in Joe's stocking.  I'm hoping he shares it with me.  (I know he will.)

I love Elaine's new wreath.  Her girlfriend was going to throw it out.  She took it and refurbished it.  It's beautiful now.

Elaine's house is always beautiful with things to look at no matter where you are.  This is one of my favorite things in her bookcase, a little Hummel nativity.

A little Santa doggie.

The top of her desk.

Little elves hang from her kitchen cabinets.

We always have Christmas crackers at dinner time.  When you pull on the ends they bang and pull apart.  Inside is a paper crown, a groaner joke and some kind of toy.  Elaine couldn't get the ones from England this year so all of these had fake mustaches in them.

Joe held his fake mustache over his real one.

I like his real one better.
For dinner we had crab cakes, green beans, mashed potatoes and crescent rolls.  Everything was wonderful!

Later in the evening we had cookies and tea.  It was a lovely way to end the day.

We stayed overnight since I had off from work today.  I wore the locket that Joe had given me.

Elaine celebrated my birthday today.  She gave me two gifts.  One was a teddy bear cookie jar from England with cookies made in Spain.  The other was a "table topper" that my mom had started to make for me before she died.  Elaine had finished it and gave it to me.  In this picture I'm trying to smile through my tears.

Little Cody is so cute.  So is Spike the cockatiel.

After lunch Elaine surprised me with a birthday cake.

Elaine and Joe sang to me and I blew out the candles.

Well, I thought I did, but they were still lit, so I blew again.

Again, they relit and then I realized they were the trick candles.  I gave them a pouty/sad face.

The cake was delicious.  She gave me half the cake to take home.

Joe took some pictures of Elaine and me, but none of them turned out.  But the one Elaine took of me and Joe was really good.

After this picture was taken we left and got home around 5:00 p.m.  It's been a lovely holiday.  Back to work tomorrow.