Friday, December 19, 2008

Free Things to Do Over the Holidays

For those of us economically challenged this year, I compiled a list of cost-free activities you can enjoy - depending, of course, on your weather, location, and resources. If you have some other suggestions, or location-specific additions, please Comment below!

Fun and Free - for a Holly Jolly

1. Sing Christmas carols. If you don't remember the words, look them up here.

2. Take a walk while holding the hand of a friend (or spouse or niece or the leash of a puppy). Hold hands while crossing the street - no, you are not too old to do it.

3. Play "catch the snowball" with your dog - hours of fun!

4. Write a family Gratefulness list to hang on the wall. Add things as they pop into your mind three days later.

5. Put some of your photos into's time. Or if you have three bazillion digital photos stored in your computer, print some of those bad boys.

6. Tell the children funny stories about when their parents were growing up. Try explaining the concept of Atari (and don't worry - they will think you are totally lame, but we know you are wicked cool). Give them the old "we walked to school uphill both ways, barefoot" story. It's time they heard it again.

7. Play board games like Taboo, Balderdash, Scrabble, Life, and Stratego, or card games like Hearts, Gin Rummy, SlapJack, Euchre or Spades.

8. Make a fort in the living room out of chairs and blankets, with rationed goodies inside (Cheezits, Cheerios, chocolate chips, cookies - apparently foods that start with "C").

9. Put on your favorite album that you forgot about. Play it loud. Lie next to the speaker and listen for incredible harmonic undertones. Marvel at the genius of Dave Matthews...or Dave Brubeck. Or any other Dave you happen to like.

10. Practice putting on makeup. You never quite learned it right the first time, did you? Me neither.

11. Soap up everyone's hair and see who can make the most funny hair sculpture. YouTube it, Baby!

12. Get big pieces of paper and make your "Map of the World," including anything important in your world. Share it with a friend.

13. Write in your journal. I know you have some thoughts just waiting to spill out. Or if not, try your hand at a Haiku (5-7-5). Poetry always cheers the soul.

14. Play in the snow! Try building an igloo. You're gonna need a bucket of water and some good warm gloves. If it's the first snowfall of the season, get your boots on and stomp a message in a big open field!

15. Clean out your closets [for the dear Capricorns who have to do something useful before they can be frivolous]; then rip apart the panty hose that always strangle you. Life is too short for that kind of pain.

16. Make hard boiled eggs. You do have time.

17. If you are somewhere warm, go swimming on behalf of those of us freezing in New England!

18. Tell your dad you love him. Do it.

19. Do a favor for your neighbor: get groceries, shovel a walkway, wash the car, take out the trash barrels, or walk the dog (who will become instantly devoted to you).

20. Decorate the house with crazy stuff you found in the yard (thinking more along the lines of pine boughs, berries, sticks, and grapevines than of grass clippings and dog knew that, right?).

Have fun, dears! There is no reason we have to go broke just because it's Christmas, or Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa, or Santa's Time, or just winter. Or summer, for those of you south of the border. Today is a day you can enjoy. Tell me how you'll spend yours! I am going to a free Christmas concert (in which Mom is singing!) with the fam, the kiddies, and the porkiest, cutest baby you ever saw. Yay.

Love, Ally xo

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I'm doing what I like to do best

...and that is writing. Today at work I finally have the opportunity to do some writing, editing and proofreading. I can't tell you how much I love doing this type of work. I am only taking a brief break right at the moment for my brain to recharge so I can edit 6 or 7 more pages of the company newspaper. This is the work I was truly meant to do, just like my mother.

She found her first satisfying career in her early 30's, editing an education magazine, no less. She reviewed curriculum and new books and materials for children. She loved it. Here I am working in education, reviewing and copy editing material for publications to teachers and school district administrators (and for the last two years to school board members). What a lovely life. Wish I could do it full time.

Looking forward to some time off after Friday, for the next two weeks. We picked up Lauren and Co. last night in Boston and thus begins our big, festive holiday celebration. Lauren's three children are so dear, I could just spend every waking minute with them. Chubby Bubby, the new baby, is so fat and sweet and delicious - I could just eat him up with a spoon! Anna and Emma are as beautiful and interesting as ever and I love them so. Aunty Ally (and soon, Grandma Honey, as the other children call me) is revived. I am looking forward to lots of Christmas cheer.

But for now, back to the words, my other love.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Obama on writing

(photo not by me)

Check out this page of, and scroll down to 20 Second Interview, to read a quick Q&A with Barack Obama on his writing process and ideas. This is located under the description of his book, The Audacity of Hope. I found the interview v interesting and you may too.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


(photo not by me)
is the Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread Cookie, by Martha Stewart.

Uh, yep. These are THE cookies to top all Christmas cookies. They are a bit time intensive, but the effort is worth it. Make sure to take them out before they are too done, and once cooled, to wrap them or store them right away - don't want these babies drying out. If they do, just start dipping 'em in milk or coffee or hot cocoa and you'll have a whole new level of delights. Mmmmmm.

Recipe is on Martha's website, here.

To Do or Not To Do

It’s hard to be at work with not quite enough to do, when you have so many, many things on your own To Do List. I would like to be home finishing up bankruptcy cases, getting them filed, and getting paid. I would like to clean the house, put up the Xmas tree, decorate said tree, and deal with the enormous heap of laundry that threatens to completely overtake the hallway. I would like to bake some Xmas cookies, and have time to share my recipes with Marie and the rest of the blog kingdom. I would like to…nap.

Oh, sweet bliss of a cozy bed on a grey, chilly afternoon. Maybe a Judy Cat would curl up on my chest (after the obligatory face-bumping-greeting session). Maybe I could watch one of my “Christmas Movies,” since I have had NO TIME to even rent them, much less watch them this year.

But, from the couch I would turn, ever-so-slowly, and see THEM…the unsigned, unstuffed, unstickered, and unmailed Christmas letters. I think I wrote a decent one this year, all things considered. The paper isn’t pretty, but the words are from the heart. And I think people will give me a little leeway this once. But those letters ain't gonna mail themselves.

Needless to say, sitting here and begging for work – and even that I gave up on for the moment – is tiring in an irritating sort of way. Oh! And the shopping…I still need to finish the shopping! The wrapping. Oh dear, and…(trailing off into infinity)


And what are you doing this afternoon?

Daily delights from

From 12/12/08...


“If it’s been said many times, many ways, isn’t it time to shut up?” - Bill

[That one's for Scroogey Poo, and you know who you are.]


Grandma’s Nog

Cream (optional)

Sugar (optional)

Egg (optional)


*Serve in festive cups and enjoy!

FUNNY, BUT NO - card slogans that luckily didn't make it to print

Front of card: My cat would like to wish you a merry Christmas.

C’mon…c’mon kitty…go…

Inside: Actually, my cat needs about another 20 minutes to lick her butt,

then she’ll be ready.

[a ha ha ha - that one was for Judy]

From 12/15/08


“Whoever came up with wassail must not have heard about a little thing called hot cocoa with peppermint schnapps.” – Mark

[so true, so true; and a special shout out to Uncle Fred for this little discovery]


Monday, December 15, 2008

Honesty is the best policy (and it could win you stuff)

THANK YOU, KRISTIN, for this great award! Since my name means "truthful," I take the Honest Scrap (or honest crap) award as a high compliment. XO

10 Honest Things About Myself:

1. I have become neurotically afraid of bees in the last few years, reverting to my childhood fear of bees.

2. I hate being fat.

3. I miss smoking every single day. In my nighttime dreams, I always smoke.

4. I have a false tooth.

5. I have desperately wanted to bear children for the last twelve years. I am wondering if that desire has begun to run its course.

6. I was too afraid to enter competitive gymnastics, and thus ended my gymnastics career at age 12. I have always regretted that.

7. I wish I had more sex.

8. I have fibromyalgia. No, it is not a myth. It is not a psychological disorder. It is a possibly-degenerative, chronic physical condition. And it hurts.

9. I secretly don't believe my father is dead. He is probably just on a long fishing vacation. Let me think this. Just let me.

10. I am secretive. (Okay, Laurel? I admit it.) Though I am very honest and open, I always have control over what spills out...and some things hopefully never will.

My favorite honest bloggers, to whom I give this award:

1. Kristin at Jilli Java and the Garden of Eden - she is truthful and realistic, with a dash of hopeful; she tells a brave story of recovering from drowning in alcohol. You go girl.

2. Marie at A Year From Oak Cottage - in her cooking, love of family and friends, acceptance of all walks of life, and spiritual side, she does not mince words. But she does mince garlic, and you gotta love a girl for that.

3. Scott (my dear husband) at Rock, Water and Light, for he conveys truth through his photographs, capturing the beauty of this harsh and wonderful world.

4. Mama Zen at The Zen of Motherhood, for she is hysterically funny, irreverent and joyful. And she loves her family.

5. Bella at Beyond the Map, and though she stopped writing, you can still read previous pages of her inner struggles - she is painful, thoughtful, and searching through her lyrical prose.

6. Steve at Virginia Journal, who explores the world with photography; he has exquisitely beautiful macro work, as well as delightful photos of children and animals.

7. Karen at Cheerio Road - a Zen practitioner and published author, she is a great writer. I appreciate her willingness to share imperfect moments - that is priceless, and it enables me to receive her spiritual guidance.

Good people. Check them out.

Rules for the recipients:
♥ list 10 honest things about yourself
♥ pass the award onto 7 blogs that you find brilliant in their content or design
♥ link to the blogger who gave you this prize
♥ link to the blogs receiving the prize
♥ notify the recipients

Duck, Duck, Bush

In this image from APTN video, a man throws a shoe at President George W. Bush during a news conference with Iraq Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Sunday, Dec. 14, 2008, in Baghdad. The man threw two shoes at Bush, one after another. Bush ducked both throws, and neither man was hit.(AP Photo/APTN)
Well now, that's just beautiful. And about time. And patriotic - no single man has done more to harm this country than he. I hope the shoes weren't hurt in the process.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A ha ha

Those crazy kids at Shoeboxblog have done it again! I am stifling laughter here at my desk...(as soon as I got to "Hide and Molt," I was done for).

Red Rover Send Vixen Over
Hide and Molt
Mutton, Mutton, Who’s Got the Mutton
Freeze Tag
Halo 3
Tether Penguin
Tug of Harness
Wii Elf Boxing

ha ha ha ha ha ha ha (there, that felt better) ;)

What are your favorites?

What are your favorite Christmas cookies? Maybe we can get Marie to bake something special that we love, for her family to enjoy in England.

My favs are:

Chocolate Crinkles
Martha Stewart's Ginger Chocolate Chunk
(ohhh, i found these last year and they added a whole new meaning to the word Cookie...)
Almond Crescents
Gingerbread People (with decorations of course)
Kahlua Bars
Rum Balls (yummm)
Anything in a pinwheel formation
Chocolate dipped peanut butter balls
Lemon Squares
Susan's Brownies (graham crackers, s. condensed milk, and chocolate - can't go wrong)
I love the look of Peanut Butter Blossoms, but am satisfied after one
Candied Pecans

mmmm...I better stop. Tell me some of yours. And if you need recipes, I will love to share!

Monday, December 8, 2008


(photo not by me)

Well, this weekend was full of pre-holiday activity. We celebrated Saint Nicholas' Day on Saturday (St. Nick brought us each a Christmas ornament), worked on signing and addressing the Xmas letters, did some preliminary baking - I have somewhat given up on the diet until January - and decorated the house for our holiday party this Saturday. I even finally plugged in a lamp I got two years ago (ahem). Progress.

Also did some bad bad bad girl shopping at Borders...damn those literature retailers! Was supposed to trade books at the used book store and therefore get basically free books for the kiddies. But was lured in by Borders' fancy coffees and holiday music, the sale items OUTSIDE the door, and those pesky Clearance stickers. Oy vey. But I did get some wonderful kids books (let me know if you want recommendations).

Mom and I made the super-grid of who's getting what for whom by when and from where (what Nanny gave Weenie, what Weenie gave Emily, and of course what they all gave me)! So instead of Black Friday, we will be having Black Wednesday, and ol' Wally World better look out! You may have heard, but WalMart is the only major retailer (supposedly) that had increased sales last quarter. And why do we think that is? Well, for the same reason, we will be shopping there on Wednesday. Morality be damned!

Hope your holidays are shaping up nicely. Any of you readers not celebrating Christmas? What do you like to do instead? Anyone want to share their December traditions, of any nature?


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Speaking of Pet Peeves

...or as Kristin says, "things that get under your skin," why don't we do a list of top 5 or 10 things that irritate you. And then top 5 or 10 things that take the edge off, or make you happier. Put a comment on this post if you are going to do the activity on your blog, so we can all check it out!

5 Pet Peeves:
  1. Drivers not using turn signals and then slamming on the brakes to turn.
  2. Telemarketers. Add to that, those completely automated telemarketers. You say, "Hello," and there's a silence and then the recording starts. You know the ones.
  3. Teachers who can't spell. Seriously, people!
  4. President Bush saying "nucular" - that drives me insane!!! Sarah Palin did it too! THE WORD IS NUCLEAR! Noo-clee-ur. Practice it, know it, and stop being an idiot.
  5. Hair clippings in the sink. Ickkkkk.

5 Things that Cheer Me Up:
  1. When people start singing along to the radio. (I especially love singing to that song "Chicken Fry.")
  2. Seeing a dog to pet in Petco. And a new favorite activity of hilarity - watching the mice cages at Petco. Hours of fun!
  3. Hearing a message from Anna, Emma, or Matthew (little children) on my answering machine.
  4. Finding a paycheck in the mailbox.
  5. Snow falling.
Now your turn.


Stepped in it again after work, in the evening. Same shoe. Is the universe trying to tell me something??


Tuesday, December 2, 2008


It's got to be Karma when you find yourself walking down the hall at work, first thing in the morning, and you realize you have somehow stepped in the world's biggest pile of dog poo on the way to work.

It took me about 10 minutes just to get it all off the shoe - and I am talking full sole coverage here. Niiice.

I just hope I "paid up" for whatever I had done to bring this on. Keeping my fingers crossed.


Monday, December 1, 2008

Five Natural Remedies for Colds

(photo not by me)
Check out this interesting article for new ideas on fighting cold and flu symptoms. I would also add ginger tea for all symptoms, including nausea and sore throat; and ginger powder (1-3 tbsp) in hot bath at the very first signs of sickness - this will make you sweat profusely for about 15 minutes, then get out and rest for the remainder of the evening; and peppermint tea for upset stomach and nausea.

My holistic doctor used to say you should always stay home for 24-48 hours when you are sick - that is when you are most contagious and also when you can control how long and hard the sickness overtakes you. Rest! The best medicine. And stay away from all caffeine, processed sugars and fats while sick. Drink LOTS of fluids, but nothing caffeinated.

Best of health to you this cold and flu season!