Sunday, November 28, 2010

the end of the long weekEND.

It's crazy how going into a 5 day weekend it seems like such a long time off from school, but now that it's Sunday evening already, it's crazy how fast it flew by!
Not only was Thanksgiving restful and enjoyable with the fam, but also the days after it were quite wonderful, despite fighting off a cold.
Friday I was actually productive- I managed to venture up into the attic and start to pull stuff down for the big move!... which isn't for a few weeks, but I want to get stuff ready and see what I need to buy/ ask Santa for so I am ready to go on my own again :)
I managed to spend about an hour going up and down from the garage to the attic taking down boxes of things, from plates to pots to linens! I also got school work and grad school work done and managed to carve out some time to watch Elf :)
Saturday's main event was the 10 year high school reunion... which I was in charge of. My friend and I were class officers so we had to plan it. We had it at a local Irish pub in the city, which worked out well. I was most worried that the money I had to put up wouldn't get paid back, but it did and then some, so we were in the clear! Only about a third of our graduating class came, but according to the feedback we've received, a good time was had! It was good to see people... interesting to see others; it's kind of true I guess that some people don't change much... we'll leave it at that.
As for today, I started it up with a morning run at the gym... longest one yet- 8.1 miles in 60:00! Although I have to say my legs are a little sore right now, since I ran just over 6 yesterday too. But I don't think it's anything a little ice and heat won't cure. I went out to lunch today too at Qdoba and was excited to see that a Panera is being built in the Millbury plaza! I am not a huge fan of food chains, but love Panera.
It's back to the grind tomorrow, which means I probably should get some more work done tonight and look over the week's plans so I am ready to go! How crazy is it too that it will be December this week... and there's less than 4 weeks until Christmas! (And I haven't done any shopping!!)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

dinner time

the table is set!


my wheat bread stuffing... with some butternut squash on the side!


time to dig in!... mom and kelster are starting to get some food! even though I love my huge family, it was nice to have a big dinner with just my immediate family and a couple of family friends!



Happy Thanksgiving! :)

thankful

Not very original, but seeing how today is Thanksgiving... it's really a day to realize just how thankful I am. Truly I am blessed in so many aspects of my life; sometimes life just gets so busy that I forget to stop and realize just how lucky I am.

I am thankful for a healthy, happy family. Sure I may argue with my siblings every now and then and I may not always agree with everything my parents always say... but I love them and wouldn't trade them for the world.

I am thankful to have always had a nice home to grow in, sleep in, live in, never having to worry that I would ever be hungry or have some of my needs left unmet.

I am thankful to have a secure job where I can truly influence 19 8 year olds lives on a daily basis, where I can be having a bad morning or not feel well, only to see at the end of the day a homemade card by one of my students saying that I'm the best teacher in the world. (that may be an overstatement.)

I am thankful for a strong small group of friends who I know I could turn to if and when I need them... love them like sisters.

I am thankful for my body. I may sometimes try to push it to its limits, but it usually lets me know when enough is enough. I am thankful that I was able to use it this morning to get a nice 6 miler in.

I am thankful that I will have the opportunity to be moving in a month. I have been thankful for living in this house with the parents, but know that it's time again to have a place of my own.

I am thankful to be able to wake up every morning and know that I am free to do whatever I want. I am lucky that so many men and women have given up their lives or put their lives on the line on a daily basis, just so I can have the privilege to live freely in this country.

I am thankful to be able to share this day with my parents, brother, and sister. Yes, there will be a lot of good food (I made the stuffing this morning!), yes there will be a lot of football watching, yes there may or may not be a post meal nap, but those are the small things. Today is about taking time to stop the craziness of the hustle and bustle of the busy work days and sit around the table with those you love. Enjoy your meals and family time everyone!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

easy as pie (crust)


Happy Thanksgiving Eve!
And a happy one it's been.. who wouldn't love the entire day off from school, that's right no school today, tomorrow, or Friday... we're talking 5 day weekend people, I could get used to this.
What to do on your day off? Sleep in. And by sleeping in, I mean sleep in until 7:45. That is sleeping in to me!
After a relaxing breakfast, and making breakfast for my brother too, I caught up on laundry and then hit up the grocery store for some last minute ingredients pre-Thanksgiving cooking/ baking.
Then it was gym time! It was so nice to be able to relax there, not a lot of people and I kind of lost track of time (is that possible on the elliptical?)... and wound up on it for an hour and a half! Then I did some abs to round out the workout. Didn't run today because I ran 5.15 miles yesterday and plan to run tomorrow! :)
This afternoon was slightly lazy, but I'm okay with that after nearly 2 hours spent at the gym. I watched tv (Rachael Ray) while having lunch... then it was pie time! (hence the title of today's post.)
My mom is no baker by any means, but this is one recipe she's taught me that's pretty fool proof and super easy... a pie crust with only 3 ingredients.
-2 cups flour
- 1/2 cup oil (I used canola)
- 1/4 cup milk
All you do is mix them together; then form it into two even balls with your hands and roll em out baby! So simple.
The filling is easy too...
macintosh apples, peeled and cut
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice
dash of nutmeg
cinnamon-- don't really know the amount, i just sprinkle and stir til all the apple pieces are coated.

Put the filling in the crust, pop it into the oven and voila- Thanksgiving dessert is done about an hour later. Unfortunately with a pie you can't really taste test it, but I've made this so many times, I know it will be good.
I put foil around the edges for the first 20 minutes so it doesn't burn!

The rest of the afternoon I spent helping my mom set up for tomorrow... we're having people to our house for Thanksgiving dinner, so the usually cleaning and prep had to be done! And yes, of course I had to go to the store again for yet something else we forgot... I really hope that's the last time, although seeing how the stores are pretty much closed tomorrow, I don't think we have a choice but to be ready!

This evening I am laying low... I still have no voice and feel so-so. This cold/ laryngitis isn't getting the best of me, but it's still making me a little more tired than usual; partially because I'm not sleeping well since I cough all night long! My body knows I'm on vacation so it figures, ok now you can get sick!

Looking forward to tomorrow... I am a sucker for watching the Macy's Day Parade- partially due to tradition, but will be watching part of it at the gym in the morning- my gym is open 7-11, so the plan is to get there by 9ish and get a solid workout in (with a run) and then come home to help cook!

Another great thing about today is I don't have class tonight; usually Wednesday evenings are spent sitting at a desk... bonus to be in my pj's instead! :)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

lucky 7

As I've said before... 7 is my favorite and therefore, lucky number.

This all started back when I was a freshman in high school and I had to pick my soccer number. Since I was a frosh and a low man on the totem pole, I kind of only had a choice of the "leftovers"... 7 looked good and it was lucky 7 ever since for me.
I was #7 for all four years of soccer in high school, then kept the streak of 7 alive and was #7 for four years of college soccer too!

Now I just like the number 7... even though I no longer wear it on a daily basis. 7 is pretty much the ideal number of miles I'd like to run daily, just for a fun run. Clearly it's not super far, but getting back into training due to the patellar tendonitis problems over the summer, 7 miles is another milestone in coming back. I am really trying to make a conscious effort not to increase my mileage too much too soon, but believe me it's hard. I've found a way to fix this wanting to go farther by setting the treadmill for a certain amount of minutes before I begin to run, then the belt will stop and I can't go more. (unless of course I reset it.)

Yesterday I managed to run just over 6 miles, so today I wanted to do a little more- Sunday is supposed to be the "long run day" isn't it? So I thought, if I had it in me, then I was going to top yesterday's mileage. I set the treadmill for 41 minutes... knowing that there would then be an added 5 minutes on there for a cool down, and knew I could bang out a little more than 6 in that 46 minutes... which I did: 6.16. Then the belt stopped. I thought I should do a better cool down, so I ran an 8 min mile to cool down... daily total: 7.16! My logged running miles was less this week than last; however, I only ran 3 days, so that's expected. I am fighting off getting/ being sick, so I am happy to have done what I did. ( I even added 30 minutes easy on the elliptical after running!)

Other good-ish news is that my voice is making a comeback today- sort of. Yesterday it sounded like I had laryngitis, which I very well may have; however, today the squeaks coming out of my mouth resemble more of a voice and I am able to hold a somewhat normal conversation.-- Let's just say I had a really hard time ordering at the deli yesterday!! I have tried to up the vitamin c and have had a lot of tea- this definitely seems to help; breathing in the steam seems to clear my head too!

I am grateful for only a 2 day week coming up, especially since I am sort of sick, I know I can get through just two days! I am ready for this week as far as work goes, so I think the rest of the day is going to be some tv watching. Usually I am not so lethargic, but I think my body is in fight mode. I was even able to sit through a movie "The Holiday" and plan to watch "The Amazing Race" tonight, in addition to "The Next Iron Chef" marathon that's on now, with the finale this evening!

I'm going to play chef in the kitchen in about an hour; my mom brought home some fresh basil, so I am going to make a whole wheat veggie pizza! It's the chilly type of day when having a nice warm oven sounds like a plan. Plus homemade veggie pizzas are super delish and taste even better after getting a run in!

Time to check in on the Pats, then a little nap before mustering up the energy to get cooking in the kitchen!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

finally a run this week

I've been trying to get back on track... or on the treadmill, but only 3 or 4 times a week.
The plan was to run Tuesday and Thursday, but I just wasn't feeling it on Tuesday! I woke up with a sore throat and felt run down, so I thought an easy elliptical might be a better option. Not having a real training plan right now is allowing me to be more flexible in my workouts, I'd like to get back on track full time, but I'm taking it easy with my knee. The workouts have been decent this week nonetheless...
Monday: 75 minutes on the elliptical, upper body lift
Tuesday:75 minutes on the elliptical- easy
Wednesday: up before school for an early hour on the trainer (bike)
Thursday: run! 5.1 miles... 37 minutes, elliptical 40 minutes.

I don't consider myself slacking off by any means, in fact sometimes staying focused on the trainer or elliptical is harder than focusing on the treadmill.

I'm happy that I got through the week; Wednesdays are so long when I go non stop from 5 am until I return around pm. Squeezing grad school into the mix really stretches my time, but I know it will be worth it next fall when I have my CAGS and I'm a certified reading specialist! I really hope I am able to advance in my career and provide reading interventions to those kiddos who really need intensive instruction to learn/ improve reading skills!

Well I am calling it a lazy night, after my productive afternoon. I managed to get all my plans set for next week (thank you 2-day work week coming up!! woot woot!) It's time for some quality hgtv (I am so addicted to this... and may check in on Charlie Brown's Thanksgiving special on the side....something about quality, classic cartoons for the holidays that I watched as a child, it really brings me back to my childhood and makes me happy! :)
Maybe this time Charlie Brown won't miss the football?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

signed my lease!

Good news today- I'll officially be moving in about a month! I signed my lease this afternoon and will be moving in about a month! Technically the lease doesn't begin until January 1st; however, I should be able to move in the week of Christmas break. Can't wait to visit IKEA again and make the apartment fun and cozy!
I went over to look at the apartment this afternoon, which was good, although seeing how I lived in the same complex a couple of years ago there weren't any surprises, I knew my way around quite well! It comes with all appliances- still looking pretty new, they're from 2007 when the building was built- a washer and dryer right there in my unit (major selling point, I'm not about saving quarters!), a nice large bed room, then a living room/ dining area. I like the kitchen too because the main counter is kind of like an island with an overhang, so I can use my bar stools again. Another perk of this unit is that it is on the ground floor, two doors to the left, so it will be a lot easier moving! Last time I was on the third floor. While it was nice to be high up and have a good view, it was also a large haul when I was moving in. Fortunately there was an elevator, but I won't miss using it! While it's not a super-hip place downtown, I kind of enjoy the area because it is more quiet and peaceful. I used to wake up to wild turkeys when I was living there before. However, there is an airport nearby, but it's really never used, so I am not too worried about air traffic.
I guess location, location, location is true. I got this apartment because of it's location. I will now be 5.5 miles from where I teach, (estimated 12 minutes driving time), 5.5 miles from where I take classes- in the other direction though (about 13 minutes driving time), 5.6 miles (14 minutes driving time) from my parents' house, and 5.8 miles from my gym (14 minute drive). (Yes I google mapped them all.)
Aside from signing my paycheck away for the next year, I also went to the gym this morning. I was able to run again today, 5.95 miles in 43:00. Then I went on the elliptical for another 30 minutes. My knee is a teeny bit sore right now, so I am icing it; however, I don't think it's anything major, in fact it may just be because I am thinking about it.
Unfortunately, I now have to buckle down and get some work done; becoming a reading specialist takes a lot of work! I need to analyze some testing and do a case study, fun fun.
This week is looking like a busy one; 5 day week along with grad school. I am already looking forward to next week though, only a 2 day week of work and no grad school! Plus it will be Thanksgiving! Well time to get busy, have a good end to the weekend... go Pats! (Why are they on so late tonight? Yes, I have a 10 bedtime, so I probably won't see the whole game!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

broke 5!

Ok so a few months ago 5 miles was a wicked easy day; 15 miles was more like a good run. However, coming back from an injury can be tough and breaking the 5 mile mark today was a big success, especially because it felt good.
First things first... I could really get used to having Thursdays off; going to school Friday was a breeze knowing the weekend was almost here again! Woohoo!
Today has panned out to be a beautiful day, in more ways than one. I was able to get a good night's sleep, then got some errands done this morning.
Then it was gym time. I was able to run 5.3 miles in 39:00! Not only is that a decent pace for my 2nd week back, the fact I was able to break the 5 mile mark today was a good accomplishment. I am about to ice my knee, it's not bothering me, but plan on doing so more as a preventative measure. The new shoes are feeling good too; love my asics. While it would have been an awesome day for a run out in the sunshine, at least I had the sun shining on my back while I ran on the treadmill! :) After being a rat on the mill, I shot over to the elliptical for another 41 minutes... total of 80 minutes of cardio today, not too shabby! Then it was lots of stretching and abs before calling it a day at the gym.
This afternoon is going to be filled with icing, work, and church. Not too exciting; however, what is exciting is that I may be signing a lease tomorrow! I am planning on moving and have been searching around... and may end up moving back to where I used to live! I have an appointment to see the exact unit tomorrow; however, probably won't be able to move in until the last week of December, as someone is moving out, then they paint and clean it, etc. Still, it's exciting to think about, although I'm not going to lie, I will miss being able to save mucho dolares each month! But... I think I need to face the music- I'm 28 years old and really don't want to be living with the rents any more! It's time to be a big girl again! Fortunately I still have most of my furniture from before and will just need to pick up a few minor things to furnish the apartment- but this means I need to think about collecting all of my belongings which are being stored here, there, and everywhere!
Well it's ice time kids, have a great second half of the sunny Saturday! :)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

happy veterans' day

Today has been a happy day. I am thankful for those that have served or are currently serving!
Here's a quick recap of my good day :)
-Slept in until 8:00 am.
-Breakfast along with the paper/ crossword puzzle.
-2+hours of work report cards= DONE.
-GYM!... Run 4.68 miles in 35 minutes- no knee pain :) Elliptical 40 minutes- 5.1 miles, feeling goooooood.
-Made lunch for the rents... grilled cheese and tomato soup, I know nothing gourmet, but it was their request after being outside in the chilly fall air!
-Read for nearly 2 hours... got a good chunk of this week's text read for grad school!
-Going out to dinner soon with some of my best girlfriends!
It is a good day! :)
And tomorrow is already Friday... which will feel like a 1 day workweek at school! Almost the weekend again, during which I am super busy with work, but that's okay! :)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

mid week blog? whoa.

Yes, I know I am surprised to have carved out a few minutes o' time mid-week to blog, but I am actually caught up with work (well minus the report cards I haven't started yet, but plan on doing that later and finishing them up on Thursday/ this weekend; gotta love the holiday in the week- Thank you veterans!!
Anyways, I wanted to update that I went to the orthopedic yesterday and he gave me the go ahead to get back into training, woohoo! I told him the update on my recent runs and he seems convinced that as long as I am diligent with icing and just slowly getting back into running, then I can go ahead and do it. I have totally kept in good shape throughout this multi-month running drought; so trying to run isn't a probably cardio-wise, but it's amazing how my body isn't used to the pounding and jostling! I love it, but I ran again today and my back is now a little sore and can feel some pain in my shins; after I fold some laundry I will be icing my legs- knees AND shins. Although the knee feels good, I am going to ice it regardless for a while, just in case there's an inflammation. I am also being good about wearing the strap; it seems to help! Today's run was nothing crazy, just 4 miles in 30:18... so around a 7:35 pace, but I started around 7:51 and got as low as 7ish at the end. I don't want to go too hard and mess up my legs, but at the same time cardio-wise my body is like "Julie, would you move it you slow poke!" Haha, but I am trying to be good and keep things under control. I followed it up with a half mile, wicked slow, around 9:22 pace just to let my legs slow down. Then I hit up the elliptical for 45 minutes! I probably wouldn't have done as long normally, but I am going to get back into Wednesday being my off day or really easy day, just to give my legs more of a rest and this is the day that I am booked solid, so it works out. The plan is just do an easy 45-60 min bike ride tomorrow am on my bike before school... of course then I have a full day at school and 4.5 hrs of class! BUT- I get to sleep in on Thursday! Again, thank you veterans!
Well nothing else special to report, but a funny story- one of my students today was working on a writing piece and came up to me to say..."I know my family went to Plymouth and we saw a special rock with a special name, but I can't remember what it's called," me- "Do you mean Plymouth Rock?" student- "Hahaha, oh yeah, I forgot!" too cute and funny; I wish some days I only had to worry about my own class and not the petty politics that goes on in the rest of the school; still frustrated with the lack of correspondence of my colleague and my other colleague was out today too, so once again I was the only third grade teacher in the building, so I was commanding the show and helping out 2 subs... makes for a long day!
Well I gotta get my laundry folded so I can get icing... and then treat myself to a full hour of a new episode of Glee! :)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

happy world run day!

Ok so usually Sunday is the day of the long run... but I'm happy to just say I was able to run on world run day! I may have only done 4.3 miles... but I RAN! Second day in a row. Hope you all took advantage of world run day, if you could and got out (or in at the gym) and spread the running love!
Wondering why I am so happy? Well, I've had a bout with patellar tendonitis, so I've had to basically take the summer and beginning of fall off from running, something I LOVE. But the good news is with the addition of a patella strap and lots of ice, it seems to not be flaring up right now.
In addition to the extra hour of sleep last night, I also am thrilled that my gym pushed the am spin class back an hour! So I was able to run, then do spin!
I haven't mounted the bike since my accident, so I figured just getting back into on the spin bike is a safe bet... really no way I can crash! My bike is fixed now though and plans are to try to put it on my trainer today so I can ride it during the week in a safe spot... aka my cellar.
After I'm done icing it's going to be a fun trip to Market Basket. I made my weekly stop at Trader Joe's yesterday, but find that some things are just cheaper at MB and I am all about saving a dollar or two!
Then it's going to be homework for the afternoon in addition to probably checking in on the Pats as well.
This week is only a four day week... Veterans' Day on Thursday!
Also, tomorrow is an orthopedic appointment... we'll see what he says, then I can kind of get in my head a better plan for where I'm headed with regards to my training program.
In other news, I can not wait to move again... I'm really hoping that even though my apartment should be repainted, etc. by Jan 1st, that it is ready by Christmas break week... I'd love to be able to move when I have the week off, otherwise, it's going to be busy squeezing it in with school, class, and life! (I'd also like to move in asap because even though I love my family, when everyone is here and home- like this weekend, plus my bro's gf... the house is just too full. AND too loud. I am not a greedy person, except when it comes to sleep... and when the house is noisy and I can't get my zzzzzs, I am not a happy camper! Looking forward to being able to go to bed at a decent hour... a quiet place where I can actually read/ research for class without having to wear headphones or turn my tv up really loud to drone out the noises around me... a refrigerator where I can stock it with good food that I know won't get eaten on me... and just my own space again!
Oh well, 7 more weeks... I can do it, I can do it, I can do it. (On the plus side, it's 7 more weeks of rent-free living?!) While it's definitely nice to not have to pay rent, I think I'm ready to make the sacrifice and not save a ton a month for the exchange of more of my own freedom!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

what a difference a day makes

Ok so it's a good think I didn't write yesterday, because this would have been very negative; however, after sleeping it off and waking up feeling refreshed, I've had a much better day today than yesterday.
I've had a major stress-filled week at school, not with my class, but with my grade. Here's the thing, one of my colleagues has been calling in sick, and didn't come to school at all this week. Now she's apparently taking a leave of absence for who knows how long; I really hope she's okay, but I am incredibly frustrated because her plan book has been EMPTY! So I've had to copy, plan, help the sub (her room is adjoining to mine, so the subs just pop in and ask questions). I really don't mind helping out, but I've tried to contact my colleague and still am in the dark with what's up... so basically I've been running two classrooms- now report cards are coming up too which adds to the mess and parents are starting to talk.... That's it in a nutshell, but I met with my principal and assistant about it yesterday, leaving school in a wicked fury. End of rant for now I woke up and was able to forget it all....
I started my day with breakfast and enjoying the crossword in the paper, perfect start to the day.
Then I started the productivity.
I first went to the bank... it's nice to see my account growing, although that will be put to a halt when I move out again... but it will be worth it!
Then it was off to get gas... and then to borders. I had to buy this book:


We're starting a new unit in writers' workshop and I'm going to be modeling it after Cynthia Rylant. A lot of the beginning lessons deal with this book. In the past I went to the library, but figured I should just buy it.
While I was there, I saw this book too and figured I could also work it in, so I bought it as well. I already have a lot of the "Henry and Mudge" series she writes, so I didn't get any of those.


Then I stopped at Trader Joe's for a few essentials, and finally went to pr running in Westboro for new shoes.

Then it was gym time!
I have orders to try to run this weekend... so I RAN today!
Nothing crazy... but I did run for 25 minutes... 3.3 miles. And the good news is my knee really didn't bother me, although I'm not sure if this was long enough to judge, but still I was happy to run! :) Although my foot is sore?? I think I've just been on them a lot, so I am currently icing my knee and my foot too just to be on the safe side.
Well, it's only 2:30 and I feel like I've already had a full day... but time to get a little work done before church at 4.
Today is a much better day and hope the weekend only continues to get better! :)

Monday, November 1, 2010

hello novembrrrrrr

And yes, I do mean brrrr.... the first day of November came in as a chilly one!
So once again I feel like I am falling off the blogging bandwagon... but it seems as the year gets going I have to prioritize and sometimes that means putting this on the back burner so I can teach a full day of school, get in a good workout, go to class or do work to prepare for grad class, attend mentor meetings and pt appointments, and try to have something of a social life if there is any time left. Easier said than done.
Let's recap... I'm still ellipticalling daily; however, at the end of this week I need to run, and yes NEED, as in the doctor has ordered it. I go back to the orthopedic on Monday, so I need to have a couple of short runs done so I can report to him on how the knee is feeling.
In other news... when I last wrote I was thinking of moving; well I've also taken on house/ apartment hunting more aggressively. I love my family dearly, but it's time for me to be on my own again. I've called/ looked at places in Auburn, Holden, and Worcester, but realize that for location purposes and in order to try to limit the amount of driving I'd have to do to get to school, gym, grad school, etc. it makes sense to stick to the Worcester- tatnuck area. This is a really nice part of Worcester AND it's close to one of the best places to eat in the area... CORNER GRILLE! So after searching around and thinking, I realized I think I may decide to move back into the old complex I was living in 2 years ago. Although, I have decided to get a smaller apartment, since I know it's just going to be me living there, which I don't mind, in fact I like being on my own... although in the future I would like to have someone to spend life with!
So there's a picture of the kitchen... before I moved in last time (although I won't be in the same apartment, it will look the same without the loft above it.
Here's another view of the kitchen... although with some teammates during our new years party in 08... I'm looking forward to being able to have people over again; it's kind of strange/ hard to have company when it's at your parents' house! I still haven't signed a lease or given a deposit; but since the owner knows me and knows I am good tenant he welcomed me back... unfortunately the apartment size that I want (855 ft) isn't available at the moment... someone is going to be moving out at the end of the month and into a larger unit, then my unit will have to be cleaned, painted, etc.... so he said at the very latest the apartment for me will be ready on Jan. 1st. Ideally, I'd love for it to be ready the last week of December so I can move in during my Christmas break... either way it will be a nice Christmas gift to me!

Also, I got my bike fixed, so now I am able to ride her again! Too bad the weather is getting chilly... but at least I can still put her on the trainer and not have to worry about crashing and falling off!
Well, even though I have a professional development day tomorrow, I still have some work I need to get done. At least I wrote something though... perhaps a new year's resolution will be to increase my blogging? Even though I really don't have anything of much value for others to read here, it's a nice outlet for me! :)