12/25/17 Chronicles



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  Saturday 12/23

 I can't believe it's been 2 months since I posted my blog.  School and everything just really kept me busy. Swamped, really. I'm not exaggerating.

Happy Holidays! Merry Christmas! Happy Hannukah (a little late)! Season's Greetings! Happy Kwanzaa! Happy New Year! I hope you're having a good holiday season.

animated snowman GIF saying Happy Holidays

I was just getting caught up on midterms when I had a lot more work to handle, and then finals. I don't know where the time went. I just took one too many classes this past semester, and it kept me too busy. I couldn't even put up the rest of my Halloween decorations, and then it took me a long time to put them away, and then put up my Thanksgiving decorations (I have a lot fewer of those), and then get ready for Christmas.

Me!I did poorly on my photography exam, so I made sure to study more for my final in that class and work really hard to make sure I did better on all of my projects in that class. There was a lot of extra credit, so I got an A in the end. In fact, I got A's on all of my classes, but it was harder than I thought it would be. I just had so little time. I had to stop posting in the blogs, work very little on my website, give up housework and doing much with the dog, and just let everything go except school work. It was kind of Hell, but I got through it. It's particularly hard at my age. My memory is not what it used to be, so studying is tough. Papers are a lot easier, but tests are harder.

I really didn't enjoy the photography class. Not only was it not easy, it was not that fun. You see, I really enjoy taking photos with my phone. Taking them with the expensive, heavy camera was not as fun. I don't like having to shoot photos in manual mode and figure out what settings to use. I like the automatic modes. I'm too lazy for all that other stuff, and I don't really see the point if I'm not going to be a professional photographer. Anyway, I sold my camera to our friend Beth, and I sent that to her today. I know she will get a lot more use out of it.  Don't get me wrong, the professor was very nice, and I liked the people in class, and I liked looking at photos. It's just not my thing. I enjoy taking photos, but I don't enjoy being graded on it or having people critique my work, or having to be artsy about it. I liked taking photos of the Fall leaves and that kind of thing. I enjoy nature and pretty flowers -- all that.

Later today, we're driving to Dallas for Christmas, like we did last year. That should be fun. This below is where I last posted, back in October, right before we went to Mountain Home back at the end of October. I will try to fill in the gaps after that, briefly, as to what I've done since.

  Monday 10/23

I had a lot of trouble sleeping last night, due to allergies (probably also because I slept so much on Sunday), so I called in sick to school. I'm very fortunate to have understanding professors. At least I'm getting pretty good grades so far. I went back to sleep and really needed it.

I did get a lot of work done, when I was done sleeping. Not only a lot of work on my site, but around the house. I straightened up most of the house. Brandy is at the vets' kennel until next week, so it makes it easier to get stuff done without her under foot. I got most of the house picked up, except for the kitchen.

Now that midterms are done, I'm caught up on most of my school work. I do have one project to do for my PR class, and a small paper coming up in the Mass Comm class.

I hate calling in sick if I don't have a cold, but sometimes these allergies or back problems make it just as bad. I hope I don't miss any more classes after this coming week. We're going out of town Thursday through Sunday, but they know about that already.

Our internet was down for maintenance about midnight, but it didn't really affect me. I was pretty much done with any work by then.Fall photo

Lately I've had to really watch what I eat because the Jardiance the doctor gave me brings my blood sugar way down. I want to eat healthier, but that makes it kind of difficult, too. I just have to make sure to eat lunch on time.

I'm very upset that I haven't put out all of my Halloween decorations yet. I hope to finish that up tomorrow if I can. It's way later than I usually put them up. Midterms really messed me up. I hope this is the only semester where I take four classes. It's just too much for me.

David brought home McDonald's for dinner. I don't eat much there because most of it isn't gluten free, and their salads are not too great.  Last week we had Wendy's, and I had one of their apple pecan salads. They are pretty good.  David likes the McD's chicken nuggets, though.  Regardless of where we go, I always like getting a new fountain soda.

I miss Brandy a lot, but it's also nice not having her to worry about. When she's home, I have to let her in and out (what I wouldn't give for a doggy door!), and make sure she has food, water and exercise, and play with her. Plus, she follows me around everywhere, even to the bathroom. And I have to make sure she's not getting into things she shouldn't. It's like kids - if you don't hear them, then you worry more about what mischief they're getting into!  She's getting fixed this weekend, while we're out of town, so I hope it calms her down a bit. Please!! (It didn't...)

I've been slowly getting caught up on TV shows...deleting them from my DVR. Now all I have on there are the soaps and whatever new shows air. I have "General Hospital" going back to June of 2016, so I'm watching those when I can spare the time. I have "The Young & The Restless" going back almost that far, too. Some of those I have to watch and write summaries for, though.  The others I don't keep. I watch "The Bold & Beautiful" regularly and don't bother watching or keeping "Days of Our Lives."  There are just too many good shows to watch, to waste time on most of the soaps, which can be boring.  Plus, I have all the new shows and DVD's I to watch for my site.  Still, I need to watch those or delete them because my DVR is about 87% full. My DVR is massive, so that's a lot of shows!

We watched our Sunday night shows and not much else before he went to bed. I stayed up until about 2am.

  Tuesday 10/24

I woke up about 5am, itching badly and having hot flashes. UGH.  I didn't get back to sleep until about 8 and then just slept a little more. I got caught up on last week's blog at least. Well, I should say, the last three week's blog! That's how far behind I fell...

It's supposed to be chilly today, in the 50's and 60's. That will be a nice change.  LATER: Well, the weather site was wrong. It was in the 70's and very windy. Also, the buildings at SAU still have way too much a/c. I was freezing! I even had coffee to try to warm up. Weird because in San Diego today it was over 100! Which is rare for them, especially this time of year.

Class was great today. We went over our landscape projects, and I got 50 out of 50 points on mine.  We also had a bonus project and only two of us turned it in, so we went over those.  He extended it to Thursday in case anyone else wanted to do it. I can't believe so many people turned down an extra 20 points for taking a photo! Silly. So easy. I mean, it's super easy quesadillasbecause this particular project was pretty open. You had to do very little. You would probably get the points just for showing an effort. I mean, I did mine in one night.

I went to the Blue and Gold cafeteria afterwards and had my gluten free meal. They gave me two quesadillas, some potatoes and veggies. I didn't eat the tortillas, and the veggies were mostly zucchini, so I just picked out the green beans (not too fond of squash). They had some kind of fried potatoes, too, so I just had a couple of those. I don't want to eat too many carbs. I wasn't that hungry, anyway. Normally I would have asked for more, otherwise. I had my sausage, egg and cheese casserole for breakfast. I broke it up into squares and froze most of it for next week. Yum!

After I got home, I took a nap...too long of a nap! I was so tired.Missy

I still need to do the dishes and put out the rest of the Halloween decorations. This is really the last day I can do it because we're going out of town on Thursday.

Christina, the lady who gives me a ride, had her cute little dog Missy in the car today. This little dog is ten years old but really tiny. So cute! It made me miss Brandy a little less.  She gave me a ride both ways today but can't give me a ride on Monday. Linda will be giving me a ride then, which is great. I miss her!

I put out more of the decorations, but I hope to find the energy to put out the rest tomorrow.. I did the dishes but still have another load to run.

I got quite a lot of work done, but there's always more! UGH.

  Wednesday 10/25

sad faceChristina had her dog again today, and he was very cute and playful. Unfortunately, she's had some very bad things happen to her, so she was very upset. I feel very bad for her and her kids. This is the second day where I got a gluten-free meal from the cafeteria. Yesterday was tostadas and today was a really good baked chicken. Kind of reminded me of the old Shake 'n Bake, but better.

Since I'm gone tomorrow, I had to bring by my project for tomorrow's photography class. The professor has a coffee can attached to his door for projects (they're always on flash drives). Very clever idea.

My two classes went fine... I didn't get my tests back yet, though. Hopefully I will get them next week! I have to remember to write up a presentation for Monday's class.

I've felt very lazy today. However, I did get some work done on my site during class. The Wi-Fi on campus is still not great, though.

That was as far as I got on writing the blog. I didn't put up all the rest of my Halloween decorations, which I was annoyed about, but I had no time or energy.

I got the info below from looking at my Instagram photos...you should look there because I post photosmenu every day and make comments about what I'm doing.

  Thursday 10/26

We drove to Mountain Home, Arkansas, which is about 6 hours north of Magnolia, in the Ozark mountains (very close to Missouri). David had some sort of work meeting up there. We'd never been there before. It's very pretty. It was a long drive, though, both ways. We stopped for lunch in Clinton, Arkansas.  The end of our trip was driving up a long, winding steep country road. We ended up having a new house being driven up there with a trailer, in front of us, very slowly, which made it even more annoying.  We Pocketwere very glad to arrive at our destination.

We passed some very funny named towns, like Yellville, Flippin, Gassville and Big Flat.

The Fall colors were up there before they got to Magnolia very much, so I enjoyed seeing all of those. Mountain Home is a nice little resort town. They only have a few thousand more people than we do, but they're up in the mountains and have lakes, so they get a lot of people up therYellville Quickstope to hunt, fish, vacation, etc.  They have a lot more restaurants and things to do.

We went to their university (it's really a two-year campus, but very nice) for a dinner they had. We didn't do all that much while we were up there, but it was a nice little visit.

We stayed at the Comfort Inn, which was fine. There was a cute little dog there named Pocket who hung out behind the desk. We stopped in the little restaurant/bar near our hotel later on and got some more food and drinks. It was all decorated for Halloween, so that was fun.

  Friday, 10/27

Halloween picWe just stayed one night there and then drove to Little Rock (to mostly break up the drive and have a nice, fun weekend).

We stayed at the Marriott, which is always nice. I didn't have an actual Halloween costume, but I did dress up in a Halloween shirt with weird make-up on.  We went to the sushi place we like there. I had the steak and veggies, and they have a delicious sauce that you can put on all of it, that I love. The waiter was pretty good about asking the chef things about gluten, when prodded.

I misplaced my NIMA gluten sensor for a while, and then I got out of the habit of testing food for gluten. After dinner, we went over to the karaoke place and I had a blast. There were a ton of people there this year for Halloween (last year we only had about 5 people) and many fun costumes. I got to sing a bit, and we had a great time.Halloween cookies

I felt like I was coming down with a cold, so that was the only down side. I was sneezing a lot, and it felt much worse than allergies. It didn't last more than a few days, thankfully.

We did our usual other things there as well, like stop at Dempsey's bakery so I could stock up on gluten free yummy things.  We stopped at Hardee's for lunch on the way back, and I had a burger wrapped in lettuce.

Harley QuinnIt was still pretty warm, even though it was almost November. It was in the 80's. Then it got cooler on Halloween and was in the 50's and rained.

  Tuesday, 10/31

I missed school on that Monday because of my cold. I was feeling a little better Tuesday, for Halloween. A lot of the students on campus dressed up on Halloween, so that was fun. I just wore my glittery pumpkin shirt. I felt crummy in the afternoon, though...I should have stayed in bed. I had a nap and then got dressed to get ready for the kids.

I ordered a Harley Quinn costume from Amazon and wore that for Halloween night. We hadBrandy back home about 50 trick-or-treaters, I think? It was fun.

  Wednesday, 11/1

Brandy came back from the vet. She'd been gone two weeks, but it felt like a month! She got fixed and was still healing. Apparently she forgot everything she learned about potty training. Well, she still poops outside and still scratches when she goes out, but otherwise she's started peeing inside on the rugs again! So I've been having to go back to the basics - watch her carefully, keep her on a schedule and make sure she goes out regularly. It's taken a while but finally started working at the end of December. The main problem was that I was so busy with school that I didn't have much time to work with her.

  Thursday, 11/2 and beyondFall choir

We went to the SAU Fall choir concert at the Baptist church. It's a very beautiful church and the choirs always do a wonderful job.

I started putting Brandy on my lap in the recliner at home. She really likes it and we sometimes have a nice little nap like that, until my legs fall asleep! :)

We still had plenty of warm weather through November. We had a very warm and dry Fall.

It took me months to find shoes that fit and were comfortable (I get orthopedic shoes), and then Brandy chewed them up a bit...I still wear them, though.Brandy curled up in my lap

When I was doing my vocal warm-ups and working on my songs for my voice lessons, Brandy would howl when I hit the high notes! It's quite funny.

I didn't do a great job of watching my carbs and eating right, but somehow I did manage to lose a few pounds. Probably from all of the walking I've been doing with Brandy.

They start putting up the Christmas decorations on campus in early November, since school finishes for the semester fairly soon after Thanksgiving.

  Thursday, 11/9

I've been having pain in my right leg, so I went to the doctor. She gave me a steroid shot in my leg and it helped a lot. She says it's from bursitis. That doesn't surprise me because I've had that off and on for awhile.

  Saturday, 11/11

football selfieThis was our final SAU football game of the year. It took me this long to put all my Halloween decorations away, too.

  Monday, 11/13

My voice teacher's other students (the ones who are majors) had their recital this evening around 5, so I went to it. I really enjoyed it. So fun!recital program There were some other students there, too, who played marimba and vibraphone. That was great to watch. They don't seem to really publicize their student recitals here for some reason. Maybe the students don't want them to...? Or maybe they think no one would want to come. I don't know...

  Wednesday, 11/15

All of November and part of December was very stressful.  Today I had gluten free low carb pastriesthe house cleaned. It really needed it.

I found this great site https://www.paleobakehouse.com that sells gluten free and sugar free/low carb cookies, donuts etc. I got the box this week. So yummy!

  Friday, 11/17

I finally put up my Thanksgiving decorations...

  Saturday, 11/18 Brandy and me right after walking on trail

I got my hair cut. It had been a long while!

We took Brandy to the SAU Trail for the first time. She really enjoys it every time.

  Sunday, 11/19

I've been testing more with my NIMA. Unfortunately, that means I find gluten sometimes in the food, even when they say it's gluten free. Like my favorite tamales at our local Mexican restaurant. :(

MadagasgarWe went to SAU for their play. They did Madagascar. It was really fun!  The kids in the audience loved it, but you could tell the college kids also had a great time.Thanksgiving decor

  Monday, 11/20

Today was the day I got steroid shots in my shoulders. I had terrible muscle spasms.  The shots really helped. I wonder why none of my previous doctors ever suggested getting shots?

  Tuesday, 11/21

We put Brandy in the kennel again before we went away for Thanksgiving.

  Wednesday, 11/22

We drove to Shreveport. We stayed at Diamond Jack's, which is their video pokercheapest little casino. We had a lot of fun. I won $700 on video poker in one great roll, so that was great.

  Thursday, 11/23

We had lots of great food there, including the Margaritaville buffet, which had gluten free cornbread stuffing and wonderful desserts.Thanksgiving dinner

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!!

I was not planning to sing karaoke, but we found this place near the casinos, Fully Stacked, that had it, so we went for a little while. It was a nice, small group. It was lots of fun!

It was just a great trip. The weather was really nice (mostly in the 70's) and the food was good, and we just had a really fun time.

  Sunday, 11/26

photo of one of the neighbor's housesI took a lot of photos for my class around the neighborhood...

Brandy came back after being gone another week!

  Tuesday, 11/28

I started testing all the food I'm eating, so I discovered that the gluten free food they've been serving me at the school cafeteria is not really gluten-free. I spoke with the cook, and apparentlycafeteria chicken they've only been going by whether the package says "contains wheat" or not. There are lots of hidden sources of gluten in food, and you have to look every brand up online to see if they're really gluten free or not. I sent the woman in charge, Yolanda, a list I found online, of which commercial seasonings are gluten free because I'm fairly sure that it's the seasonings that are the culprit.  I feel bad for the other students they've been giving the food to that have no idea that it's not safe.

  Wednesday, 11/29

I made some gluten free, low carb pumpkin cupcakes. They're more like muffins, but anyway...they were pretty good. I need to make some more. 

  Thursday, 11/30

new phoneMy phone (the Samsung Galaxy 7 Edge) has been going through battery life pretty quickly. I'd had it for quite a while, so it was time for a new one. I ordered it online and received it today. It's very large. I had to take it in to the localChristmas theme Verizon store and have them show me how to put the sim card in from my older phone, get a cover etc.  I downloaded a Christmas theme for it, which made me wonder where it put all my icons. I also put "Carol of the Bells" (my favorite Christmas song!) as my ringtone.

I was so swamped with work, school and everything, that I hired the cleaning lady Yolanda, and her daughter, to come over and help me with the dishes, laundry and putting away the Thanksgiving decorations, and getting out the boxes of Christmas decorations. It really helped me a lot. She could only come in the morning, though, so I had to get up pretty early.  Then she stayed until about 11:30 when I had to leave for school.  I've never done that before. I was just so overwhelmed.

I was really exhausted from all of the school work today, so I had a nap when I went home. This was the same day that they had the big Christmas parade and the lights ceremony, etc. I really wanted to see it, but I was just too tired to even function. I wish I had seen it, though...  David went and he said they did a good job.

I signed Brandy up for this Barkbox. They send a box of goodies every month: dog toys and treats. Brandy loves them, of course.

  Friday, 12/1

I had to spend the weekend studying for finals and writing some papers. Monday is my birthday, so it's not great timing.

  Saturday, 12/2

madrigalsWe went to the Madrigal dinner that the choir always puts on. We missed it last year. It's a lot of fun. You buy tickets, so they have assigned seating. It's kind of a medieval dinner. They announce you when you walk in, and then they have a big meal. The choir members all dressed up in medieval costumes and put on a funny show. It was very cute. They also sang some Christmas songs. It reminded me a bit of the SCA that I used to go to... (Click on the photo to the left and see the much larger photo)

The Christmas lights around the campus at night are also very pretty!

  Sunday, 12/3

Today was my birthday! There are no fancy restaurants here, so David took me to Larry'schocolate birthday cake Pizza, which I asked him to do. They have good gluten free pizza.  We walked Brandy on the SAU Trail as well. It was very warm for December. 

I made a great chocolate cake for my birthday...it was both gluten free and low carb/sugar free. It's called Love At First Sight and you can find the recipes on Modern Honey.  The original recipe is just a regular cake, but I made substitutions so it would be gluten free and low carb. It was surprisingly moist!

 He gave me some nice presents, too. There were some DVD's, a bear, and a pretty shirt.  I got some nice cards and other presents from my sisters-in-law, too. I don't get too many from anyone else.

I spent a lot of time studying for my finals. I didn't want to mess up the final exam for photography the way I did for the midterm.  I had three exams and three papers due this week.

  Monday, 12/4

It's finals week, but there was still class today.  No voice lessons today, though. I guess the music major voice students had their juries instead this week. I did drop some cake off with my voice teacher and her husband. She likes to eat low carb and gluten free as well, so she appreciated it. It's a big cake, so I had to share it!

Last semester was my first semester at school (well, in 30 years), so I baked cookies for my class for finals. So I did that again this semester, only they were Christmas cookies. For photography, I made these Chocolate Chip Candy Cane Cookies.   However, I also dipped them in melted chocolate chips, so they were even yummier.

We had a term paper due today, but it was fairly easy to write...

  Tuesday, 12/5

The photography final went pretty well.  When I took the midterm back in early October, I felt a bit lost and I guessed Christmas cookieson a lot of the questions. I got a D, which got bumped up to a C, only because he made an error on one of the questions and gave everyone an extra 20 points.  For the final, I felt like I knew a lot of the answers, although I wasn't sure if I had mixed a few things up. It turned out I got an A on the exam (5th highest grade in the class) and an A in the class. Whew! I was just glad to pass, quite honestly. It was a much more difficult class than I thought it would be. Luckily he does give more points for the final portfolio than anything else, and I did fine on that.

I was disappointed that Bryan, who sits in the desk next to me, wasn't there. I hope he took it at another time and didn't just skip it. He seemed very nice, but I think he was taking too many courses at once. Some of these students, from what I heard, their financial aid requires them to take more than just the regular 12 credits.  It's just not a good idea.  The woman behind me was very nice, and it was good to say bye to her.  Then the girl next to her, who seemed shy....I don't know, I kind of got the impression that she didn't like me, but it's hard to tell. She's a very quiet type and hard for me to hear, and she doesn't smile much.  I said something like "How are you doing?" when she came in, and she replied, "Same as you," which was a weird answer.  Maybe she was just stressed out, I don't know.  They're all art majors, so I may never see them again, unless I happen to run into them on campus. I might see them, because it's a small school, and also because the art and music classes are in the same building.

Anyway, the cookies were a hit. There were plenty left over, so the professor took many of them for his next small class.  Then I took the rest over to the cafeteria, where I was going anyway, and gave them to the cashier there to give out free to the students. They were gone quickly! :)

I dressed up for class with jingle bells in my hair and my Rudolph shirt. I was really starting to get into the Christmas spirit. After the exam was over, I was SO HAPPY! I had been worried about this test and this class for so long, and I just felt such tremendous relief when it was over.  Too bad you can't bottle emotions like that! I was practically jumping up and down with joy.

  Wednesday, 12/6

I had no class for these two days, so that was great! I would have liked to have slept in, butChristmas plant instead I got Christina to take me around to various places around town, so I could shop for Christmas and such.  We went to the post office first, so I could mail some gifts and most of my Christmas cards.  Then we went to two nurseries. I was looking for plants for the house. Usually I buy some flowers and plants at Wal-Mart, but apparently, this time of year, they clear out all of the plants and only sell Christmas trees and poinsettias!  The first nursery she took me to was a dinky little one. I just got pansies there. They didn't have much of a selection.

What's funny is that it's a gun store and also a nursery. Strange combination if you ask me!

Then we went over to this big one called Pittman Plants. They used to be in Magnolia (we pass their place all the time), but they've moved to the nearby town of McNeil. (Or as people here called it, MAC-neil).  They had a ton of nice stuff, and their prices were not bad at all. I got two little pine-tree looking plants to put outside our front door for only $20 apiece. They even decorated them for me, for free. They put a big red thing around the bottom, with a bow, and little tiny Christmas ornaments on it.  They look great on either side of our front door. I bought some other little plants there as well. They were super nice, too. They wrote down for me when to water the plants, and the guy there carried them out to the car for us. They took the time to decorate them, and also.... Christina bought a plant, and she wanted a different type of soil, so they did all that for us, while we went shopping elsewhere, and then we came back later to get it. Just really nice people.

We also went to Wal-Mart and did shopping there. I got quite a few Christmas things as well as more food and baking supplies.  She had to go pick up her daughter from school, so I had a lot of time to kill. It turned out to be a good thing. For one thing, I was using the restroom a lot. For another, I remembered to get my diabetic test strips from the pharmacy. Also, I had time to just look around and also to take photos of their many Christmas shirts.  I was getting pretty tired toward the end, though.

Then we went to Sonic after that for a late lunch, early dinner. She had gone to pick up her daughter, so I bought them food as well. They're such nice people and her little girl is very cute.  Such a sweetheart.

All those errands took a lot longer than I thought....we left there about noon, and I didn't get back until after 5. I barely had time to quickly take the dog on a little walk around the neighborhood before it got dark.

I spent most of the rest of the day resting and studying.

  Thursday, 12/7

I slept in, which was nice. I did a lot of studying today, too, as well as making more cookies for my other classes. For them, I made a few other Christmas cookies as well. We had three or four different types of cookies. I always think it's better to have a choice!

  Friday, 12/8

Almost every morning, I go to the little coffee place on campus, in Reynolds, called The Reynolds treeMulerider Cafe. The three women who work there are very nice. Two of them are diabetic and older like me.  So I made those two some low carb, low fat cookies (and kept some for myself as well), which they really appreciated, and gave the third the regular cookies that I made for my class.  They do such a good job and are not paid all that well. I wish I could have made cookies for the whole campus! I love doing it, and it's fun, and people are so nice and glad to get them.

I really do love Christmas, and part of it is that I love giving other people cookies or presents. It's just fun.  At finals especially, though, students are very appreciative to have extra snacks.

The cookies were a hit. I did fine on the finals. I wore my other reindeer shirt. I went home after that and took "a long Winter's nap!" I had one more paper to write, which was due by Sunday evening.

  Saturday, 12/9Gorton's Tilapia

I didn't do much of anything else over the weekend because I was just enjoying having free time for a change (well, I always work on my website, too).

I found that Gorton makes a frozen grilled tilapia that's pretty good. I'm trying to eat healthier.

Brandy is now big enough that she can jump up on the couch by herself! Much to our dismay ;) No, it's cute, but she can be annoying, so we just have to make sure that she only jumps up when we want her to.

Brandy on couchYou know, I've had these shoes for a while, and when they're lying around in the bedroom, Brandy ignores them completely. So I took them off in the living room and suddenly she decided they were chew toys...She started chewing on them before I even got a chance to notice. She just chewed off part of the tongue of one of the shoes. :(  Still, they looked nice until then.  They're not cheap shoes!

We ordered Domino's Pizza...the gluten free pizzas came very burned (black!) and all of the toppings were in the middle of the pizza, which was cut in squares for some reason!  Usually they're very quick, too, but they took a long time. Well, at least the driver forgot to bring the credit card receipt, too, so I couldn't tip him. His loss!

  Sunday, 12/10

We walked again on the SAU Trail. We'll probably keep doing this every weekend.new chairs

Our neighbors were getting rid of some of their furniture, including two really nice chairs with footstools. I've wanted a chair in our bedroom for a long time, so we bought their chairs for a good price. They are in excellent condition, too. Now we just have to keep Brandy from chewing on them! :) I bought more baby gates to put around them, so she won't be able to chew on them if I leave her in there.

Brandy's still been quite annoying because while I was in school, I never had time to train her any further. She will follow me all over the house, but sometimes it's hard to get her to come back out of the room when I want her to (especially the bedroom and the kitchen).  And at night, she doesn't always settle down and sleep the way I want her to any more. So lately, if she's being too annoying, I put the chain leash on her and tether her to the couch for a while.  At night, I tether her to the treadmill. I put her on the chain leash if I need her to go somewhere in the house and come back out again. Also, since I got extra baby gates, I just block her from going to other rooms with me now because she can just be too annoying. I used to always bring her into the bathroom with me because I wanted to keep an eye on her, but now I really don't have to as much, so I just go without her. She's gotten very clingy, so she whines or even barks if I go into another room without her.  She does the same thing if David leaves without us.  She's found new ways of being annoying! LOL!  It's just easier to go into rooms without her than to have her tagging along and then have to drag her back out again.  After Christmas, I need to start training her again.

Now that Brandy can jump up on the couch, she likes to jump up there next to David, and he pets her.  She can't do it to me so much because mine is between two other recliners. He sits in the area of the sectional that's more like a couch.  She will definitely jump up on my lap, or try to, if I have moved my laptop desk out of the way, and especially if I lean back in the recliner.

  Monday, December 11

I started putting up the Christmas decorations, finally! I just barely started, though.

Here's something that's really cool about living in this century. I got all of my grades back already! That's so cool. I got all A's. What a relief!

  Wednesday, December 13

bridge plant areaI took a lot of photos around the neighborhood, of the neighbors' decorations.

I have to say, I don't think I would ever get any of those inflatable Christmas characters. They seem like way too much trouble. They deflate too easily or fall over.

One thing I noticed in our neighborhood... A month ago (?) I wastree with hole taking photos of the Fall foliage for my photography class.  Now that I took more photos, I noticed two areas that had changed COMPLETELY because leaves had disappeared. What I mean is this. One forest area has a tree in it with a big hole at the bottom, just like you see in cartoons, drawings, or paintings. That was not visible before because of all of the leaves being in the way. Another forest area has this little path with a big old log across it. Again, it was not visible a month ago because of all the leaves! I think that's so cool.

  Thursday, December 14

I finally started taking all of the Christmas decorations and ornaments out of their boxes so I could put them up. This was way too late! Next year I vow to start earlier, like I usually do.

Again I hired someone to help me out. The backyard was a real mess. I hadn't picked up the dog poop for a while, and Brandy had torn up the place a lot.  There is this netting under many of the plants, and she likes to dig it up and drag it all over the place.  There were a lot of weeds, sticks, and other debris back there. I found this nice couple on Facebook (one of our local groups where people buy and sell stuff) to come over and clean it all up for me. They did a great job! I also pulled some of the dead plants in the front yard, too, and they threw those out for me.  Most of those flowers that were planted last Spring were dead. I mean, the plants were rotted away and looked bad. I need to pay someone to plant more pretty flowers there.

  Friday, December 15

I called Richard, the handyman, to come over and look at our back door. I want to put a doggy door in it. He went to the local hardware store to get an estimate on replacing the door and putting a doggy door in it (we can't use the same door because it has a big glass thing in it, with blinds, and there's no room there for the doggy door).  Sounds like it will cost about $300.  We'll see if we can afford it after the holidays.

Brandy is so funny because when Richard came in, she was tethered to the sectional. She jumped up on the couch, so excited! It was very funny.  He was surprised by how big she's gotten.

Wendy'sI started using my NIMA gluten sensor to test all the food I eat, even food that was supposedly safe.  We don't have a lot of restaurants here, just mostly fast food.  I found out last year that I could no longer eat at Subway because their meat is not safe, even though their site says it is.  Now I've found out that I can no longer eat the burgers at Burger King, Wendy's, or Sonic, either. I can still eat the fries and bacon at these places, but...it's very disappointing. McDonald's is the only one I can eat the burgers. I still haven't tested Flying Burger, the only other one I think we go to. I just wish these places would be honest about their food on their websites.Christmas tree

I finally put up my Christmas tree, decorated it, and got up most of the other decorations! Yay!

  Saturday, December 16

I bought a new wreath at Amazon that is pretty big and lights up. It really looks nice.

We went to El Dorado to see the symphony there.  We stayed at the nice hotel in the downtown (the only one there), called Union Square Guest Quarters. It's almost like a B&B, but it's not someone's house or anything like that. It's a couple of buildings, and an old train caboose. You either check in at the office, or you call them and they give you a code to pick up your key in this lock box. Then most of the tamalesrooms are up some pretty steep stairs. The rooms are super nice, but all completely different and very homey. It doesn't look like a regular hotel room.  The caboose is the dining car and you can get free breakfast there.

We had lunch at the Mexican place, Laredo Grill. I had asked about the gluten, and they had a hard time with it. I got the tamales, which I'd gotten before. They were delicious the last time I had them, with a cheese sauce. Well, turns out the cheese sauce is not gluten free. Still, they were good tamales, even without the sauce.  Even their salsa has wheat in it. I know because I tested everything.Christmas train

El Dorado has a few thousand more people than Magnolia, and a lot more money. They really do try hard to make it look nice. The square has a lot of beautiful Christmas lights and decorations. They have a Christmas train that people ride.

Anyway, we walked over to try the new farm-to-table restaurant, Griffin. The food and service were disappointing.  It's not nearly as good as the other fine restaurant there, Faywray's. Unfortunately, that one is Christmas selfieclosed on Saturdays and Sundays.  I didn't test any of the food for gluten because they seemed like the kind of place that should know their ingredients. Also, there were just too many things to test...I would have had to use about a dozen different test capsules, and those things are $6 apiece. Each test takes 3 or 4 minutes.

We thought the symphony concert was right there, but we were wrong! We were going to take Lyft over to where it was, a little over a mile away, but no one was responding (not sure if they even have Lyft there), so we just walked. It's quite a walk, in the cold, but it wasn't too bad. It's in the Municipal Auditorium, which is pretty nice. We had plenty of time to walk there, thankfully.

The concert was just wonderful. They had two really good soloists, and a choir made up from students all over the area.  The songs were mostly really fun and not too slow or boring.  They even did the Grinch song! I just loved it. It was very festive and Christmassy.  Afterwards, we walked back to the Square area and to our hotel.Christmas cookies

  Sunday, December 17

We got up too late for the free breakfast, so we went to Applebee's instead. It was okay...

After we drove home, I had to do housework and make more cookies for some people at the university that work with David.

Mostly I've just been enjoying not having to get up early or have to be anywhere... doing housework, working on my site, and spending time with Brandy.  David's still been working. The university didn't really close until Wednesday, December 20th.

  Monday, December 18

We attempted to do a Skype call with our friend Barbara, which we do every year (for exchanging gifts), but Skype is apparently not free now and was asking for money, so we just did a Facebook video call instead.

It was fun and we got some nice gifts. We always have fun chatting with Barb. 

  Wednesday, December 20

Christmas photo 2017Our friend and financial advisor Beth came over to chat with us. I ordered pizza (they didn't burn it this time!). The financial stuff makes me want to nod off, but she and David seem to understand it. I always have a nice chat with her afterwards as David rushes off to his next meeting. Oh, she was kind enough to take some photos of us with Brandy, in front of the Christmas tree. We've been attempting to take a good photo for weeks now (just for fun, to post to social media), and between Brandy being squirmy, and David having limited time, it was very difficult. I have a timer on the camera, but it was much easier having Beth just taking multiple photos for us. We finally got a good one to use!  Next year I want to get a professional studio portrait done and make holiday cards out of it.

We also got some presents from my SIL Eileen and her husband Joe; and from my SIL Susan and her husband John; and from our friend Kathy. I think we're expecting two more.

Our front porch at night

  Friday, December 22

David did go into work the last two days, even though the school is closed and he's on vacation.  He works too much!

I took some videos of the Christmas decorations, cleaned the house a bit and worked on my site, mostly.

I had bought some eggnog over the past few weeks, in part to make cookies with, and some to drink. It's not good for me, but I love it. I don't like the Wal-Mart brand eggnog. It has a weird taste, to me. I did use it in the cookies, and they're fine. I had bought some other eggnog from Brookshire's, which tastes much better. However, it turns out that it's not gluten free :(  I really have to watch out for "natural flavors" and "artificial flavors" because those could be anything. I don't know why they still allow companies to even put those vague ingredients in there.

I had also bought some chorizo sausage to make an egg, cheese and sausage casserole. Turns out the chorizo is not gluten free, so I can't eat the casserole I made. Boo, hiss!Dallas skyline

We went to the II Brothers Italian Restaurant that David likes. It was all decorated for the holidays, so that was nice.

David took Brandy in to the kennel at the vet's. Good thing she likes it there!

  Saturday, December 23

We drove to Dallas. It was kind of cold today. I think it was in the 40's. Brrr!Lorenzo Hotel

We stopped at McDonald's for lunch on the way because it was the only place I knew I could eat!  I slept most of the way. Normally I try to stay awake for his sake, but he wanted to leave in the morning, so that was our compromise.

We're staying at a hotel called the Lorenzo. It's downtown and kind of nice, but it's a weird sort of artsy place. The decor is all very strange. You have to see the photos to know what I mean.  We had a snack at the hotel restauranthockey selfie and then rested a bit. David discovered that there was a hockey game, so we went to that. The Nashville Predators were playing the Dallas Stars. We used to live near Nashville, so we're very familiar with both teams.  The seats very excellent, very close.  We didn't really root for either one, but we had a good time. The Stars won. It was a very exciting game. I spent most of the time texting and taking photos, but I was happy. It was kind of cold there. Hockey is always cold, so I wore my long hockey gameunderwear, jeans, thick socks, a sweatshirt, a winter hat and scarf. I couldn't find my gloves (I may have left them in the car). I can't find my NIMA gluten sensor, either. We both saw me pick it up to pack it, but I don't know where I put it.

Anyway, I bought some other gloves at the arena. These gloves allow you to text and use your phone, so that's cool.  I was still very cold, though, especially my feet.. I was verywedge salad tired, too.  We stopped after the game in a little place called Shooters (we did last year, too) to have some more food. I had a good salad there. Then we came back to the room. We took a cab instead of Lyft because it was right outside.

All caught up now! Yay!!!

Later I will add photos in, finish whatever happens on Sunday and proofread this. We're here until Wednesday. I'm going to try to find karaoke for Sunday if possible. Then Monday is Christmas, and we have dinner reservations at a nice place called Lark on the Park.  I hope to see a movie one of these days as well.  I think he plans to go to a basketball game on Tuesday. Busy busy busy! Dallas is a nice city with lots to do, good restaurants, fun bars, etc. We used to come here a lot when we lived in Lubbock, too, since it's a short plane ride from there.

My nephew Alex lives in College Station, which is only 2 1/2 hours from here. I had no idea he was that close! Too far for us to drive this time, but perhaps some other time..

  Sunday, December 24

Christmas Eve! We wanted to go to this Irish pub we liked last time, but we couldn't remember the name. We took a Lyft over to the oneTrinity Hall we thought it was, but it was closed (it was not the right one, but both are closed today).  So we went over to this other place called Trinity Hall. It's upstairs in a mall place called Twin Peaks.  It was very nice, and the waiter was great, but alas, the food was not very good, so I doubt we'll be back. 

This happened to me twice this trip: I asked about gluten, and the waiter says: "everything on the menu is gluten-free except for such-and-such."  And I'm like, wow, really? This guy even said that the fish and chips were gluten free. Now, I've only had that at one place, Legal Seafoods, so I said, "I'll have that!" Even though it's not very healthy or low carb.  Of course, he was wrong, and after he checked with his manager, he came back and said it's not gluten-free. Boo!salad in Westin

Later on, we went to the Westin hotel, which we've been to many times before. They have a great restaurant and bar. I just had a salad, but it was really good. It was also one of the few places we could find nearby that was open on Christmas Eve.

I wanted to go to karaoke, and I found a nearby place called Gator's. However, it turns out that they weren't open today. I called about 5 different places, looking on the map of possible karaoke places nearby, until I found one open called The Goat. It was not that close, so we took Lyft over there. We took Lyft a lot this trip, and it's very helpful. It's so nice that you can just put in where you are, where you're going, and then someone picks you up karaokewithin 5 minutes. You never have to mess with money or get a driver who doesn't know where he's going. Every Lift car we've seen has been clean, and not one of the drivers was rude. We were reluctant before to use any kind of service like this (especially Uber), but the pluses really do outweigh the minuses, from what we've seen. Lyft is a way better company than Uber, too.

Anyway, The Goat is a bit of a dive, but not unsafe at all, from what we could see. There weren't many people there when we came in, but it did get full pretty quickly. There were lots of singers, but I did get to sing three songs within the two hours we were there. As always, I would have stayed longer, but David was too tired. The karaoke didn't start until 10, and that's late for him.

I sang all Christmas songs, but so did almost everyone, so it was a lot of fun and very festive. People were very nice, and friendly. The KJ was great fun. I sang "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" by Patsy Cline and then "Last Christmas" by Taylor Swift. I was going to sing "Mele Kaikimaka," but the KJ had trouble with the spelling, so I said, you know what, how about I just do "All I Want For Christmas Is You" by Mariah Carey. I sang this one, once before, years ago, and I didn't know it very well, so I bombed.  I've been working on it in voice lessons, though, so I just decided to go for it, and it went very well! I was pleased.  You can hear it here: Clip   This is a live recording with my phone, so don't expect much! :)

Hopefully, next week the blog will be back to normal and I can keep it up again each week. If you read all this, THANK YOU!!!

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This page updated 12/29/17

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