New Years Day and Back to Work

No sooner had I left the office Monday night, then it was New Years day and back to work.  Like right back to work.  It felt more like an abbreviated weekend than a holiday, but we made the best of it.  New Years Eve we headed to my brothers for snacks, games and of course champagne.  We even snuck in some shots of Salmiakki.  My mom made some pickle rolls ups, aka Minnesota Sushi, which brought back some great memories of the holidays of my youth.  I haven’t had them since we moved south of the Mason Dixon thirteen years ago! We rushed home after midnight, so as to try to beat the traffic.

The next morning we were going to head down to Fort Lauderdale for brunch, but that ended up being moved to Boca.  This made is a lot easier for us although I love Fort Lauderdale.   My sister-in-law Brandi and her cooking partner Phil made yet again an amazing meal.  They always partner up on Thanksgiving to make a fantastic dinner, so getting to enjoy twice this year was quite nice.  Fortunately, I didn’t include anything about food in my New Year’s resolutions or I would have broken all of them at brunch!

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After brunch, we headed out to South County Park in Boca to go jet skiing.  There is a nice lake behind the amphitheater that is deceivingly large.   There’s not a ton of room by the docks, which keeps it from getting too crowded.  Fortunately, the weather was absolutely sublime lows 80s and some cloud cover to keep it cool.

Our younger two, Goalielocks and the Mayor, were hooked after their first rides.  Once they got on, they didn’t want to get off the jet skis.  Eventually, they had to get off so other people could ride, but they were keen to get back on the water.   Fortunately, both Grandma and Grandpa got a chance to ride the jet skis.   Both of the boys got to drive the jet skis, which they absolutely loved.  Goalielocks is a little more sensible, while the Mayor’s driving style can only be described as “balls to the wall.” I can already sense how much fun we’re going to have teaching him to drive.

After several hours of jet skis and Cornhole, we headed home to get ready for our inevitable return to work on Wednesday.   Shortly thereafter, the Mayor convinced my husband to make Caribbean jerk chicken with black beans and rice.   The kid ate two full plates.  Unquestionably, he has a hollow leg – or so we thought.

He left dinner to take a shower having been on the lake all day.  After about fifteen minutes, he came back out to the family room and announced “I threw up all over the bathroom and I missed both the sink and the toilet.”  Now that my friends takes talent.   Immediately, the hubby and I got up to check him out.  He insisted he was fine having thrown up only because he ate too much too fast with too much milk.

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After making sure he was fine, we headed to the bathroom.  His assessment was spot on. He had in fact thrown up all over our bathroom effectively missing both the toilet and the sink.   I’m not quite sure what happened, but I was relieved he missed the rugs and the dirty clothes he left strewn about the floor.   Thankfully, he was okay and not harboring some insidious stomach bug.   Since I wasn’t feeling well, he cleaned up the projectile mess.  He’s the real hero!

And just like that in the blink of an eye,  we went to bed and got up for work like nothing had changed……. Our Tuesday holiday was quickly over and it was back to reality.

 

 

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Holiday Baking

Holiday baking is one of my favorite parts of the holiday season.   It’s steeped in tradition, heritage and reminds me of my childhood.  Growing up we made mint cookies and molasses cookies every year.  Christmas morning my mom would serve her Christmas tea ring.   The memories of making Christmas cookies with my family are some of my fondest.    I’ve carried on many of these traditions making the mint cookies every year.   Over the years, we’ve stopped making the molasses cookies in Florida as they take too much flour to make them manageable.  In lieu of the tea ring, I’ve made my caramel rolls to serve at brunch for over a decade.

I had an amazing time exploring Scandinavia this fall with my son, brother and sister-in-law.  It definitely strengthened the connection I feel to our family’s heritage. As a result, I wanted to infuse some traditional Norwegian and Finnish cookies into our holiday baking.  My aunt, a lefse baking pro, provided us with the recipe for lefse.  I found the recipes for the Norwegian cookies in Norwegian heritage groups on Facebook.  Finally, I was able to find Finnish recipes via google.

The baking started off by baking the mint cookie dough.  I planned to bake several dozen since these cookies were a sure bet.  Unfortunately, dough vultures (a.k.a my kids) thwarted my first attempt.  My next attempt had to be more covert.  Indeed, my mom and I ended up baking three more batches.  We had to hide the dough in one of our three refrigerators to ensure we’d have enough to bake cookies.

My holiday baking this year was more special since my mom was here.  It made our culinary adventure through Scandinavian traditions more meaningful.  Our first task was to make the dough for the kringlas (Norwegian) and juolutorttu (Finnish.) Each of these doughs was quite easy to make.  The kringla is a sour cream dough, while the juolutorttu dough is more of a pastry dough.  Normally, the doughs would need to rest for an hour or two. However, we left them rest overnight due to the climate in Florida.

Cloudberry juolutorrtu
Lingonberry juolutorrtu
Blueberry juolutorrtu

The next morning we started by making the dough for the pulla, a Finnish sweet bread.  Since the bread had to rise for 90 minutes, it was the perfect place to start.  While it raised, we were able to make the juolutorttu and the kringlas.  Traditionally, the juolutorttu is made with prunes, but I didn’t have any and I don’t really like prune.  Consequently, we made ours with lingonberry, blueberry and cloudberry jam that I had purchased on my recent travels.  Both of the cookies were a bit fussy to make, but they were much easier to make than I had to anticipated.   The pulla was relatively easy to make and smelled divine.

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Pulla

As the pulla baked, I headed to the gym for a quick workout before we undertook making lefse.  Once it was completed, we fired up the lefse griddle.  (Naturally, I had bought an entire lefse baking kit.- get it here.)  The lefse would be, by far, the most difficult thing we made that day.  While I was at work the Friday before, my mom mixed up the dough since it had to sit overnight.  Nonetheless, the lefse was still difficult to handle.  Our first attempt was an utter failure, but we improved with each lefse.  By the end of it, we were professionals.

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Our first attempt

In the end, we worse ourselves out will all of our holiday baking.  On Christmas, we had a plenty of sweet Scandinavian treats to last til next Christmas.   We had great beginner’s luck on all of our Scandinavian treats and I can’t wait to make them again next year.   Below you’ll find the links to the Scandinavian recipes we used this Christmas.

Krumkake with cloudberry and blueberry jams

 

Recipes:

Juolutorrtu (also called juolutorts or north stars)

Kringla

Pulla

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve is here and almost gone.  Today was hectic and we rushed to finish our last minute shopping and preparations for Christmas day.  I think the boys will be happy with what they’re getting, but we’ll see.  Truthfully, I had hope to spend more money on experiences or even a trip than gifts.  Oh well, there’s always next year.  Its probably a shift that’s easier to make gradually than in one fell swoop.

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In addition to last minute errands, I had (and still have) a lot of baking today.  I made another round of mint cookies today in addition to krumkakes and toffee candies.  Fortunately, all three of the items turned out really good.  As I write this, I’m starting to make the main star of tomorrow’s brunch — the caramel rolls.  Ah yes, no less than 1,000,000 grams of carbs and sugar in these beauties, but they’re completely worth it.   Honestly, all calories on Christmas should be free, I think Santa would totally agree.

Krumkakes are a traditional Norwegian cookie that I was excited to try making this year.  After all, I have both cloud berry and blueberry jam from Norway to pair with the cookie, so now is the perfect time.  In order to bake said cookies, however, I had to order a krumkake iron.  I opted for a new school plug and play model versus the old school iron you heat up over a burner.  I think we can all agree that nothing good would come from me using an old school iron.

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The dough is quite simple to make.  You can use either vanilla or almond extract to flavor the cookie  Today I used vanilla as that is what I had on hand.  Once the dough has been mixed up, you bake one cookie at a time on the iron.  These cookies cook quite quickly albeit individually.  Moreover, once they come of the iron, you need to shape them around the cone to get their famed conical shape.

My first attempt at shaping a krumkake was lackluster, but I had also overcooked the cookie.  After the first couple of cookies, I got the process down pat.  You can definitely bake these cookies by yourself.  However, it would be easier to an assistant help shape the cookies once they come off the iron.

After all the baking, we headed to my brother’s house for some games, movies and appetizers.  Before though I had to make a pit stop at Walgreen’s for some whipped cream and dollar bills.  I had no cash on me and we needed singles, so we could play Left Right Center at Jon’s.  You can only imagine the look the clerk gave me when I asked for my change ($20) is singles, but I digress.

We quickly ate our appetizers once we got to Jon’s, so we could start playing Left Right Center.  Goalielocks didn’t want to spend any money (even though I was funding), so he manned the music tonight.  Per usual, the game was not mild.  Both the Mayor and Jake ended up winning two games, while both Brandi and I won a game.  Throughout the games, the Mayor was full of witty one-liners.

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Once the money dried up, it was time for krumkakes.  I served them with whipped cream and either blueberry or cloud berry jam.  They were absolutely heavenly.  Moreover, I forgotten how much I loved the Norwegian jam.  I have yet to find either cloud berry jam or a good blueberry jam stateside.  When my family goes in January, I hope they bring some more back for us. Hint, hint…..

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Now it’s off to finish wrapping presents and baking caramel rolls.  Tonight’s song performed by Mariah Carey  is “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.”

Come Fly With Me

Come Fly With Me

Come fly with me, no seriously, you’ve gotta try aerial yoga at least once.  Now that I’ve have several classes under my belt, I’m starting to feel much more comfortable in the silk.  After an rousing hockey game last night and kick arse circuit burn class this morning, aerial yoga with Monica was the perfect way to decompress mentally and physically.   Additionally, the communal atmosphere of the class is awesome.  Everyone is supportive, eager to try new things and happy to cheer others on.

I know you’re wondering, what’s so awesome about aerial yoga. So let me tell you.  First, aerial yoga is great for your back.  While you’re in the inversions, your spine is able to decompress and there’s minimal strain on your back.  If you’ve got back problems, an aerial yoga practice may provide relief.

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Since the silk supports you in the inversions, you’re able to get into inversions, like handstands, and hold them much longer.  Consequently, you build not only strength, but also muscle memory for the poses.  This will translate into your mat practice.   Moreover, there are parts of the aerial practice that are nearly identical to TRX.  You’re able to use your own weight as resistance to build strength and flexibility.

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Thankfully, I was able to decompress both my mind and my spine this morning otherwise I would have lost my mine at the mall.   The Hubby and I are way behind the eight ball when it comes to Christmas shopping.  Although to be fair, the boys just posted their Christmas wishlists on the fridge yesterday.  Consequently, I headed to Kohl’s to find a present, but left empty handed.  I could not believe how picked over the shelves were. Since Kohl’s didn’t have what I needed, we headed to Macy’s and Dick’s.

What should have been a five minute ride took nearly 20 in the snowbird laden mall traffic. Ugh, Christmas shopping is bad enough, but throw in winter traffic and it is insufferable.  We ran in to Dick’s first, but again came out empty handed.  Afterwards we made our way to Macy’s, were we finally found what we needed to buy.  Unfortunately, we spent more time trying to exit the mall parking lot than we spent in Kohl’s.  Road rules and traffic regulations are not strong suits of Florida drivers.

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Later the Mayor and I went to Target, so he could by his brothers some presents.  Fortunately, Target was better stocked and well staffed.  We were able to get our groceries, the presents and check out in less than an hour. This was amazing especially considering we made a detour to Starbucks as we shopped.

Tomorrow we’ll finish out last minute shopping after aerial yoga and then head to my brother’s tomorrow evening.  Of course, we’ll have to wrap all the presents and start preparing the dishes for Christmas brunch.  My family looks forward to Christmas brunch as its usually the only time I make caramel rolls.  You may recall that for hurricane Irma I made an exception.  Unfortunately, we were house bound so we couldn’t work off the calories.  Consequently, Jake and I are already planning a long run Christmas Day to counteract the thousands of calories and carbs we’ll consume at brunch.

Tonight’s song performed by the Chairman of the Board Frank Sinatra is “Come Fly With Me.” This song is one of my absolute favorites.  Enjoy!

Foggy Friday

It was a foggy Friday as I drove to work this morning.  It was nothing short of miraculous that I saw no accidents during my drive.  Fortunately, by the time I made it to Boca the sun had burnt off most of the fog.  The remainder of my drive was fog free and relatively painless.

Fog forms when there is less than 4 degrees Fahrenheit between the dew point and air temperature.  Given that the temperature was 68 when I left my house this morning, I’d say it was a fairly humid morning.    According this is due to an injection of humidity comes courtesy of winds coming off the Gulf.

Admittedly, I’m not a super fan of humidity, but it does keep your skin moist.  I used to hate how dry and cracked my hands and feet would get during the Minnesota winter.  Here in Florida that’s just not a problem we have!

Winter Solstice

Winter Solstice

It’s the winter solstice today, well at least it was at 11:28 am this morning.  The shortest day of the year in the Northern hemisphere is also the harbinger of longer days to come.  Unequivocally, I hated the short days of a Minnesota winter.  There’s nothing more depressing than a sunset at 4:30 pm.

Here in Florida, the sunset was around 5:30 pm tonight and was gorgeous.   If it weren’t for the horribly short days, you would hardly know it is winter here. Piggie and I were out on our run enjoying the beautiful weather.  As we pushed to mile 3, Piggie recoiled with fright into my left knee.   My left leg is a veritable disaster with hip flexors and a IT band so tight if it snapped, it would poke your eye out.  What was the monster that frightened her so?  Perhaps another animal or a loud car?  Oh no, my Piggie was afraid of the orange cone.  If I wasn’t so out of breath, I would have ended up on the ground in a laughing fit.

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As you’ve probably gathered from reading my recent blog posts, things have been a bit stressful in our household.  It’s not always amazing to own your own business, but that’s the price you pay for autonomy.  In addition, we had a health scare with one of our boys, so we ended up at a specialists office this afternoon. Fortunately, his bladder and kidney looked good on the ultrasounds.  This gave him quick relief as he was worried they’d find something in his organs.

Nevertheless, he will have to undergo an outpatient surgery in early 2018.  This should be quite simple and result in minimal downtime.  However, if anything is discovered during the procedure it could result in a more protracted and complicated recovery.  Here’s hoping for an uneventful procedure and a miraculous (quick and uncomplicated) recovery.

Speaking of miracles, I’ll need to start and finish my Christmas shopping (food included) in the span of 72 hours.  Unfortunately, this means online shopping isn’t going to work.  Well, unless I want to spend $250 for Saturday shipping, which I don’t as that’s ridiculous.  Wish me luck as I hit the stores with the snow birds and all the glorious people South Florida has to offer.

Tonight’s song, performed by one of our hockey sister’s Julia and her classmate, is “The Prayer.”

 

 

Holiday Stress

Holiday Stress

I’m sure we can all relate to the pressures of holiday stress.  At this time in the year, the stress level is maxed out as we hurriedly try to finish our holiday preparations.  When you’re a small business owner, you can amp that stress level up 100X as you wait for contractors to act on invoices sent over a month ago.  While they’re are definitely benefits to owning your own business, the added stress is not one of them.

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I’ve written about missing home before, but some times in the course of doing business I really, truly miss the Northland.  It would be unthinkable up north for a reputable contractor to sit on invoices for over a month.  Whereas, here in S. Florida it is completely normal for a contractor to pay invoices on island time.  Admittedly, I’m new to this business and my hubby assures me this is normal, but I want to fucking throat punch this guy right now.

Anyway, rant over because that’s not what this post is about.  Believe it or not this post is about ways you can reduce your holiday stress.  Here are some of my favorite coping mechanisms:

  1. Run –  Runner’s high is real and it is amazing.  The world is a better place after a good long run.  f0c4c054288a64ccf399c4ef4b13cbf2--runners-quotes-funny-motivational-quotes-for-working-out
  2. Meet me at the mat!  There’s nothing like a good Vinyasa class to remove your from life’s craziness and put you in the moment.
  3. Come fly with me….  If you’re not inclined to hop on a mat and namaste, then come fly with me at Aerial yoga.
  4. Bake some holiday treats with your loved ones or friends.  If your family is anything like my boys, make sure they don’t steal any cookies from the cookie sheet.  FL Christmas 2006 487
  5. Spend time with good friends  24883571_10155106304447371_1492472535565284382_o
  6. Enjoy a nice drink (i.e. Ciroc and vodka.)  See 5.  tenor (2).gif
  7. Pay it forward.  There’s nothing more rewarding than helping those that are less fortunate.  IMG_1144
  8. Hang out with your four legged friends.  I love chilling with my puppies!  IMG_1291
  9. Spend time doing the things you love with the people you love.  There’s nothing I love more than watching my boys (even the big one) play hockey.  I was in hog heaven last night as three of the four took to the ice.

    Monday Night Mayhem
    Monday Night Mayhem
  10.   Drink more Dunkin’!  Just think soon it won’t just be coffee I’m talking about it will be beer too!

I hope my list of tricks and tools to alleviate the holiday stress was helpful to you.  Obviously, if you’re not in to running or yoga, you suck.. I’m only kidding.  In all seriousness, if they’re not your poison, make time for your favorite workout.  It will do you a world of good!

Tonight’s song is “Baby It’s Cold Outside.”

Blissful Moments

Blissful Moments

As crazy as our Saturday was, Sunday was divinely low key and full of blissful moments.  I spent the better part of my morning cuddling on the couch with my Mayor, which is hands down one of my favorite things. My hubby, who had run out to Home Depot was kind enough to return home with my coffee. Yay!

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I worked  on the living room getting it ready for the Christmas tree.  I’m happy to report that we’ll hit our goal of getting our Christmas tree up before Christmas.  It’s the small victories in life.  Now that it’s up, we’ll have to actually decorate it before the holiday.  Meanwhile, Goalielocks and the Mayor cleaned their animals cages and did their chores. Additionally, I finally got the photos of Maya and Athena from Petco!

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Sadly, we missed the Jingle Bell Jog in Delray this year.  Our hockey schedule made it impossible for us to make the race.  This race is one of my favorite 5ks in South Florida. Its fun to see all of the runners dressed as Santa Claus.  Morever, the course is a beautiful run up A1A along the ocean.  The view is absolutely incredible.  I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the mimosas and beer available post-race as it is a definite plus.  Unfortunately,  we’ll have to wait until next year’s event.

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Since we didn’t make it to the Jingle Bell jog, Goalielocks and I took the girls for a nice run this afternoon.  We logged 2.5 miles today and it was a good run.  As a fyi, I classify it as a good run when I don’t want to puke the entire run.  Nonetheless, nothing beats the bliss of the post run high or running with my boys.  I love that its another activity we can share together.  Much like hockey, they’re much better runners than me, but that’s okay.  Its just another way in which they amaze me.

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I’m thankful that I went in for the assisted stretch appointment yesterday.  My legs, including my left hip, were much looser than they were Saturday.  Additionally, my legs felt great on the run.  Where I was experiencing muscle pain or muscle cramps in my legs, I experienced none of that today.  After our run, I helped Goalielocks stretch his legs and then stretch mine.  I’ll be ready to run again tomorrow!

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Tonight I’m going to back up some of our mint cookies for Christmas.  After making the dough for the second time, I’m hoping to actually have some cookies to show for the dough I made.  If I delay baking these cookies, odds are they’ll never be made.  I’ll post some pictures for tomorrow’s blog if my boys don’t eat them!

Enjoy tonight’s song performed by Pentatonix is “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.”  I love this song!

Breakfast With Santa

Breakfast With Santa

Today was our annual Breakfast with Santa at work.  I know what you may be thinking.  We’re far too old to be eating with Santa, but you’d be wrong!  Importantly, our annual breakfast is the culmination of our Angel Tree drive. In fact, this year we adopted 363 angels for Christmas!

Our Angels come courtesy of ARC Broward, which is an incredible organization that provides people with disabilities and other life challenges the opportunity to fulfill their potential.  Raising children in modern times is incredibly expensive.  Unfortunately, for parents of special needs children, the costs can be exponentially higher, which is where we come in.

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This event started over seven years ago when my CRO and his wife adopted their daughter’s classroom having seen the need first hand.  Thankfully, my CRO shared this opportunity with our military team and we took up the challenge.  Excitedly, this is my second year leading the event with my partner in crime MK.  By comparison to years past, our team is bigger, more diverse and incredible this year.  We made a concerted effort to expand the team outside of our unit, so it would encompass representation from units across the company.

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First, we started off our morning staging the gifts downstairs.  As a result, our employees could get their pictures taken in front of the gifts with Santa.  The sight was beyond impressive with gifts for over 300 people including 20 bikes staged in reception! What struck me as I looked at the gifts, was the amazing generosity of my colleagues.  In that moment, I felt truly blessed and proud.  Blessed and proud to be a part of an organization where community involvement and philanthropy are prized and encouraged.

Importantly, current employee engagement theory has shown that engaged employees happier and more productive.  Since I had the pleasure of taking the pictures with Santa, I got to witness our employees reaction to the event first hand. Without fail, our collective generosity blew away my colleagues.  Time and after time, people made comments about how awesome it is to work with such great people and at a great place.  Undoubtedly, for me, witnessing both their pride and their joy was a profoundly rewarding experience.  As a result, I have no doubt that today’s event was an employee engagement win!

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Afterwards, I headed back up to meetings.  Meanwhile, the team loaded the gifts up for delivery.  I simply cannot wait to go hand out the gifts later this week.  Last year, it was such an amazing, life affirming experience.  Unquestionably, the joy on the children’s face coupled with the gratitude of the teachers and parents is indescribable.  Meanwhile I’m filled with the joy and gratitude for today’s experience.

Tonight’s song performed by  music legends David Bowie and Bing Crosby   is “Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth.” 

A Sartorial Emergency

A Sartorial Emergency

This morning’s cooler than normal temps, led to a sartorial emergency as I struggled to find my black leggings.  After all, how could I rock a great flannel shirt dress without leggings in these temps?  Admittedly, getting out of bed this morning was tough since it was so cold.  For a moment, it brought me back to when we lived in Minny and would have to get out of bed in the sub zero weather.  I can’t tell you how happy I am to not have to deal with those temperatures on the regular anymore.

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Fortunately, after a hurried and hurricane like search, I found my coveted black leggings.  As a Minnesotan, even though I’ve been in Florida 12 years now, I can’t bring myself to wear a jacket when temps are in the 50s.  Years ago, although not too many, when I was a kid we’d wear shorts as soon as the temperature hit the 40s and 50s again.  Truly, there would be no jacket in sight (sorry mom.)  Now, it’s bitter cold.  Honestly, a jacket would have wrecked the elegance of the outfit anyway. download (10)

In a twist of irony, now that the mercury has dropped into the 50s, the stores here have turned on the heat.  Consequently, you no longer need a sweater or jacket to shop at Target.  Rather, you’re better off shopping in a tank top and shorts.  It was downright balmy in Target tonight.  Unfortunately, the forced air heat does nothing for the skin, but I can’t complain too much since we only have like 5 cold days every year.

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Tomorrow we will be back in the low 70s (at least for the day), so dressing won’t be so complicated.  It’s always a sartorial emergency finding an outfit right for both the  indoor and outdoor climates.  Excitingly, we’re having our Breakfast with Santa tomorrow where we thank all of our colleagues that participated in our annual Angel Tree Toy drive.   This event is by far one of my favorite events of the year.  Unquestionably, every year I am blown away by the generosity of my co-workers. They’re truly amazing people.  Lastly, I had hope to share the pictures of Santa with you, but for some reason PetCo doesn’t like my email address.  Hopefully, I can get them before the end of the week!

Tonight’s song is “Happy Xmas (War if Over)” performed by John Lennon.