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As expected, the total number of days in December, measured in “actual time”, was 15.  Yes, I swear to you, December is half as long as other months.  The good news is that January and February generally run about 35 and 40 days, respectively.

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1. Finish knitting project before Christmas.  Partially – I worked on it and now have until next weekend to finish.

2. Winterize my garden and flower beds.  Partially – They’re cleaned up, but the ground froze before I could completely winterize everything.  I’m just waiting for a thaw so I can finish up. 

3. Complete 5 items on our home improvement “to do” list.  Done – We de-cluttered our office and basement (a huge project, really), cleaned bathroom fixtures, painted over nail holes, installed clover plates on outlets/switches, and installed smoke detectors.

4. Finish reading DuneNot happening – I just can’t get into this book, which frustrates me because I really, really wanted to like it.

5. Move more sand into the arena.  No – due to the aforementioned frozen ground.  Stupid Ohio winters! 

6. Give blood.  Done – First week in December. 

7. Write and send Christmas letters & Christmas cards.  Done – Sort of.  I ended up consolidating this into an e-letter.

8. Make cool, fun, interesting plans for New Year’s Eve…and send 2009 out in style!  Partially – We made fun plans to hang out with friends, but ended up getting lazy and staying home on the couch instead.  Which, by the way, I was totally OK with.

9. Come up with a super cool, super unique New Year’s resolution.  Done – Although I didn’t come up with anything super unique.

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One of my goals for this month and my 101 in 1001 was to write a Christmas Letter.  It’s done (yes, it’s late–it’s going out as an e-letter this year), so here it is:

Happy New Year from Our House to Yours!

Dear Family & Friends,

We hope this finds you in the best of health and enjoying the holiday season!  As we look forward to the New Year and reflect on 2009, we thought it would be nice to let friends and family know what’s been going on in our world. 

On May 19th, we celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary by visiting The Wilds, a 10,000 acre wildlife conservation center in Cumberland, Ohio.  Besides that it was FREEZING COLD and—of course—we chose the open air tour bus to see the animals better, we had a great time.  In August, we spent a week on Bald Head Island, NC with Tim’s parents, brother, and sister-in-law.  It was an absolute blast (despite the millions—literally—of stinging jellyfish) and we dream about a repeat trip.  On our way home from NC, we took a detour through Richmond, VA to visit a long lost friend of Alverna’s.  It was a VERY happy reunion and the guys got acquainted in the way grown men prefer: playing video games.     

Tim has become quite the handyman this year.  He replaced our hot water heater after our old one went kaput in the middle of the winter (brrr!) and, at the same time, he installed the almost brand new, high end water softener system we were generously gifted with.  The combination of the two new systems has made a huge difference in our ultra-hard well water situation.  Tim also built a new door for our chicken house, built porch steps, and installed a tile floor in our formerly carpeted kitchen.  (Seriously, who carpets a kitchen!?)  He also worked on his golf game, but unfortunately the weather prevented him from showing off his mad skills at the Bugh Family Reunion.  Instead, we mingled with the rest of the family on the Inn’s porch and generally goofed off.

Alverna has now been working at Twin Maples Veterinary Hospital as a veterinary assistant for a year.  Although it doesn’t offer her a career path, she enjoys the work and the people, feels blessed to have a job during these tough economic times, and LOVES the shorter commute.  Alverna’s also been trying to keep up a regular reading habit, and in the process has been bitten by the Twilight bug.  (Well, she IS in the over 25 demographic after all.)  Other books she’s found especially enjoyable this year are The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan (in fact, she still can’t stop talking about it) and the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris.  Alverna also keeps a blog (www.AlvernaH.wordpress.com), which keeps her writing, if on an admittedly irregular basis.  

Life on the farm continues.  The horses are ornery as ever and the dogs love their yard just as much as always.  Karli (the Border collie mutt) managed to get her paws on a squirrel.  We’re still not sure if she caught it herself or found it already dead.  Of course, she’s convinced that she caught it herself and is about to catch another at any moment.  Kori (the Pembroke Welsh Corgi) has decided that our new horse farm neighbors across the street have four-legged aliens which must be watched (and barked at) at all times.  In June, our meager flock of 3 hens was joined by a brood of baby chicks which arrived in the mail all the way from Webster City, Iowa.  The “baby” hens are now laying eggs along with the “big” girls, which means we collect upwards of 6 eggs a day.  (Anyone need some eggs!?)  Tim was instrumental in the garden expansion project we undertook this year.  We were able to enjoy fresh fruits & veggies for most of the summer and are fortunate enough to have some veggies in the freezer to eat over the winter.  The highlight of our garden was our first watermelon EVER!  Tim waited SO long for it to ripen, but it was worth the wait. 

Basically, life is very, very good.  As we look ahead to 2010, we wish you a healthy and prosperous New Year!

Happy Holidays,

Alverna & Tim

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I caught myself coming and going both ways this month.  It was absolutely crazy!  The sad part is, December is bound to be just as bad, if  not worse.

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1. Write Christmas lists.  Yes – here.

2. Read 3 books.  Partially – I finished The Good Guy by Dean Koontz and am in the middle of Dune by Frank Herbert.  Dune has taken me a loooong time to get into, but I’m starting to like it.

3. Winterize my garden and flower beds.  No.

4. Find & purchase a soap dish.  Yes! – Exactly what I wanted for 99 cents!

5. Make mulled wine.  No.

6. Complete my barely started knitting project.  No.

7. Get a group together to go see ”The Twilight Saga: New Moon”.  Yes! – So much fun!  I’ll post about it sometime soon.

8. Try a new type of wine.  Yes – had a glass of Valley Vineyards Vidal Blanc tonight.  I want to try more Ohio-grown wines.

9. Make dish(es) for Thanksgiving dinner!  Yes – I made Cranberry Fluff, Cranberry Muffins, Coconut Macaroons, Pancakes (for the morning after), and Mashed Potatoes.  The only thing that didn’t turn out was my Cappuccino Pie–it never set up.  Bummer!

10. Buy at least two Christmas presents.  Yes – two down, many more to go!

11. Pick up manure in arena & haul at least 10 loads of sand into the arena.  Yes – I thought my back was going to crack in two the day afterwards! 

12. Ride my horse at least 3 times per week.  Yes – except when the weather was bad and over Thanksgiving week, but that was a given.

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I’m not really sure why, but October was a bit of a crazy month for me.  Goals were a good thing, even if they didn’t all get completed!  And I already started my list for November!

Here’s the post-month report:

1. Find & purchase at least one bookcase.  No – I located one on Craigslist, but then got the flu and it was gone by the time I was up to trying to go get it.

2. Look for a new dining room table.  Yes – I looked.  Didn’t find anything though. 

3. Find & purchase a photo album for our wedding photos.  Yes, love it!  Also ordered the first 100 pictures & they’re ready for their new home. 

4. Winterize my garden, front flower bed, and both side beds.  No. 

5. Place a ”for sale” ad for my horse.  Yes. 

6. Update boarding ad(s).  Yes. 

7. Complete my barely started knitting project.  No.

8. Mail care package.  Yes.

9. Buy at least one Christmas present.  No. 

10. Figure out our holiday plans.  Partially – hubby’s family knows what they’re doing, but my family likes to procrastinate 😦 

11. Pick up manure in arena & haul at least 10 loads of sand into the arena.  Partially – I’ve hauled 3 wheelbarrows full of poop out, but have a LONG way to go. 

12. Take hubby to Columbus for his now belated birthday weekend.  Yes – and it was awesome.  See pics here

13. Meet up with some old friends at the Circleville Pumpkin Show October 21-24.  No – it rained all day…and have I mentioned that I’m a fair-weather-only kinda person?  I was very bummed we didn’t make it though.

14. Donate to a charity.  Yes – I donated to Robyn’s Nest, a non-profit animal rescue and adoption organization.

15. Read at least 3 books.  Yes – 4, actually.

16. Request absentee ballot for Nov. 3 election.  Yes – voted AND convinced hubby to vote, too!

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#26-#50 for my list of 100 things that make me happy (#26):

  1. A successful grocery shopping trip.  To me, successful means I’ve gotten some awesome deals and have an interesting menu for the week.
  2. Free photos from Shutterfly.
  3. A good haircut.  (Which is rare for me!)
  4. Finding deals & steals on Craigslist.
  5. Babies.  Baby people, baby kittens, baby puppies, baby horses, baby anything!
  6. Planting things in my garden.
  7. Picking veggies from my garden.
  8. Horse movies!
  9. Homemade chili & cornbread.
  10. Going to the library.
  11. Finding new clothes/shoes that I love.  (Doesn’t happen very often.)
  12. Traveling to new places.
  13. Finding new favorite websites on the internet.
  14. Making–and then crossing things off–my to-do lists.
  15. Bookstores.
  16. Campfires/bonfires, especially with marshmallows.
  17. Finding a new favorite author.
  18. Weddings.
  19. Comments/messages/friend requests from Facebook and WordPress.
  20. Hot tea in the morning on my way in to work.
  21. Getting my stocking at Christmas.  It makes me feel like a kid again.
  22. Victoria’s Secret.
  23. House shopping, even though we’re NOT looking.
  24. Waking up early, getting lots done, and then taking a nap.
  25. Ice cream in general, Coldstone and Graeter’s ice cream in particular.

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Breaking things down so I actually get stuff done sounds like a good idea, right?  So, I’m going to give it a try this month.

1. Find & purchase at least one bookcase for my currently semi-homeless book collection.

2. Look for a new dining room table.  (I don’t want to rush this process, so I won’t corner us by saying “purchase”, but perhaps looking will be a step in the right direction.)

3. Find & purchase a photo album for our wedding photos.  (Confession time: our wedding was 5.19.07 .  We have yet to put everything together in a photo album.  Eeek!)

4. Winterize my garden, front flower bed, and both side beds.

5. Place a “for sale” ad for my horse.  (Sadness, but really Pea has so much more potential–currently wasted–as a sporthorse than I ever will have as a rider.  She needs to be ridden and shown regularly and I haven’t been able to give her that.)

6. Update boarding ad(s).

7. Complete my barely-started knitting project.

8. Mail care package.

9. Buy at least one Christmas present.

10. Figure out our holiday plans.

11. Pick up manure in arena & hual at least 10 loads of sand into the arena.

12. Take hubby to Columbus for his now belated birthday weekend.  (Scheduled for Oct. 11th.  The weather got in the way last weekend.) 

13. Meet up with some old friends at the Circleville Pumpkin Show October 21-24.

14. Donate to a charity.

15.  Read at least 3 books.

16. Request absentee ballot for Nov. 3 election.

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Today’s conversation topic of the day (at least here at work) has been gardening.  I think we’re all feeling the effects of the lengthening daylight hours, (slightly) warmer weather, and re-emerged songbirds.  I love talking about gardening almost as much as I love gardening itself.  Not only do I get get to share my success stories, I get to pick others’ brains and glean new ideas from them. 

I’m planning on planting spinach, beets, carrots, and perhaps some lettuce this weekend.  I need to get started–I have three times as much garden space this year as we had last year!  I am definitely going to be kept busy all spring and summer.  I also need to start preparing the small strip of lawn that we’re converting to space for raspberry canes and a larger strawberry bed.  (Those strawberries are always trying to take over new space!  I started with 4 spindly plants less than two years ago; now they’re running amuck!)

So, who else has started planting (or at least planning)?

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I thought I’d share.  They’re totally random.
(CAUTION: graphic photo not for the weak stomach about 1/2 way down.)
Also, the dates on the pics are totally off, ignore them.
A Valentine's Day gift from my hubby.
A Valentine’s Day gift from my hubby.

 

 

Chocolate Mint Torte made by yours truely

Chocolate Mint Torte made by yours truely. Unfortunately, I didn't have a pretty plate to put under it.

 

Home 'grown' eggs are the best

Home 'grown' eggs are the best.

Really.  I promise.

Really. I promise.

 

I love Bare Minerals!  Mark #44 off my 101 list.

I love Bare Minerals! Mark #44 off my 101 list.

And I found sunglasses I love.  Cross #39 off, too.

And I found sunglasses I love. Cross #39 off, too.

 

************WARNING: photos below are graphic************
Hubby's horse decided to attempt slicing his eyelid OFF.  This was after the vet sewed it back on.

Hubby's horse decided to attempt cutting his eyelid off. This is after the vet sewed it back on. (Don't worry, that's not blood, just good ol' disinfectant.)

Hubby learned that drugged horses are funny...except not as much when you get the bill.

Hubby learned that drugged horses are funny...except not as much when you get the bill.

 

#11 on my 101 list has been fulfilled.  As you can tell, #10 has not.

#11 on my 101 list has been fulfilled. As you can tell, #10 has not. The new section of fence looks AWESOME though!

 

(--for the 4th.

My fam, all together--minus my two youngest brothers :(--for the 4th.

Mom's festivity coming out.

Mom's cute food.

 

From my garden.

From my garden.

)

My carrots. 9 inches isn't too shabby 🙂

Hubs & I out with friends.

Hubs & I out with friends. (Yes, I'm wearing a shirt...it was a tube top.)

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My New Best Friend

My New Best Friend

 

Except I don’t like cherry ice cream (or anything cherry, for that matter).  But yeah, meet my new favorite splurge.  It’s cheaper than my old standby, Breyers, and almost as good.

My Old Standby

My Old Standby

 

Can you tell I really love my comfort food?  Popsicles, ice cream, and popcorn.  Yep, that’s what keeps me going.

Of course I buy mine only from the Boy Scouts

Of course I buy mine only from the Boy Scouts

When the Boy Scouts of America start raising money, I get hit up at least three times–both of my brothers are Boy Scouts, as is our boss’s son.  Last ‘popcorn selling season’, I also got hit up by the cutest kid as I was coming out of the grocery store.  He was obviously getting a lot of cold shoulders, so he looked pretty pathetic by the time I walked by his table.  I felt so bad not buying from him…and really, I would have if I thought I could manage to eat my way through three huge boxes of popcorn by the time the next popcorn selling season rolled around.  There’s no way.  But, I did stop to explain myself to him (silly, I know, but I felt too guilty!).  After I told him that I’d already ordered as much popcorn as I could consume, he gave me the sweetest, most understanding (but still sad!) smile.  His mom thanked me, making me feel even worse, and I almost caved.  Honestly, if this keeps up, next time anyone sees me I’ll be looking like this:

~

My garden is actually coming along very nicely this year.  I must say, I’m impressed with myself!  I have to post some pics as soon as I take them. 

That said, I’ve been battling green caterpillars (from the white cabbage moth) on everything.  Brassicas, radishes, and even watercress–my pride & joy.

This is what my watercress looked like before the caterpillars came:

Happy Watercress

Happy Watercress

This is what it looks like now (post-caterpillars):

Unhappy Watercress

Unhappy Watercress

*sigh*

However, my mom came to the rescue, as usual! She gave me a little of her secret weapon, which I like to refer to Bottled Death to All Caterpillars in My Garden.  This stuff (correctly called Bacillus thuringiensis, or BT) is great!!  To the naked eye, it actually looks like it rots the nasty caterpillars from the inside out!  What it actually does is a little more involved.  It’s a harmless bacteria (except to caterpillars) that renders the little beasties unable to digest their food.  The best part is can actually work as quickly as 20 minutes after the caterpillar eats a leaf sprayed or sprinkled with BT.  Bye, bye caterpillar.

Maybe I’ll try watercress again another year, though I’m all out of seed so I’ll have to find some more.  Meanwhile, the other plants are thoroughly sprayed with BT twice a week & are back to normal.

Right now I’m reading up on how to keep Squash Bugs away.  I. Hate. Them.  Talk about nasty bugs!  And, unfortunately, there’s no BT equivalent to take them out.  I saw one a few days ago–which I crushed.  Even though I haven’t seen more since then (and, believe me, I’ve checked) I’m worried that it’s just a matter of time.  I was out there this morning and saw three cucumber beetles.  I squished two, but the third one got away from me (twice).  So, the war against the viney plant killers is ON!

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