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Christmas Is Coming!

As of the day this column appears, there will be only 94 days until Christmas.

Whenever I make these sorts of pronouncements, I’m greeted with groans and negative comments. But here’s the truth. Christmas will be here soon. I’m not the cause of this, just the messenger.

One of the reasons people groan when I remind them how soon Christmas will arrive is that they’re thinking about all they’ll need to do before Christmas arrives. I have a few suggestions.

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Baked Oatmeal

September is National Breakfast Month. We’re a couple who enjoys oatmeal. As a matter of fact, most mornings I make The Furry Guy oatmeal with raisins and dried cranberries for breakfast. I’m up long before he is, so I make it and, when he’s ready, he heats it up and adds blueberries. That’s his preferred breakfast.

Every once in awhile, especially as the weather cools, I make baked oatmeal. He calls it oatmeal cookie breakfast. It’s a recipe I adapted from one I got years ago. It’s changed enough that it bears little resemblance to the original recipe. I hope you enjoy it.

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The Wedding

It’s been two months since our son, Shawn, and his lovely bride, Esmeralda, got married. I promised to write a bit about the wedding. I have the pictures. As you can see, they make a lovely couple. Esmeralda is as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside. She has a wonderful laugh and uses it often. Our son chose well.

The wedding took place in Cedar Hill, Texas—a suburb of Dallas. We arrived a week early and were just in time to attend the evening service at Church on the Hill, the church at which Shawn is an assistant pastor. He was speaking that night. There’s nothing like watching your son bring the Word of God to a receptive group of people.

During the week we had a chance to spend some time with Shawn and Esmeralda, help a bit with last-minute wedding details, and do a little sightseeing. We picked up one of the groomsmen and my mother at the airport. Our goal was to help in whatever way we could, and Shawn assured us that we had been helpful.

The rehearsal was fun. Shawn’s senior pastor, Adam, is funny. We went through the details of the service twice, and then enjoyed food from Buca di Beppo and cookies from Tiff’s Treats.

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Tell Us How We Did

Do you fill out company surveys? You know the ones I’m talking about. You’ve done business with some sort of business. At the bottom of your receipt, or through email, you are invited to fill out a survey to help with their customer service. If you fill those out, I have some interesting information for you.

These surveys usually ask you to evaluate things on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 usually being bad and 10 being excellent. Here’s what I’ve been told by several people whose jobs/bonuses/performance evaluations rely on the results of those surveys. If you answer 9 or 10, they get good marks. If you give them an 8, you might as well have given them a 1. That’s right. For them it’s essentially pass/fail. So, 9 or 10 is passing; 1 through 8 is failing. Crazy. Right?

You would think that 5-7 would be an acceptable, average rating, with 8-10 being above and beyond. As a matter of fact, The Furry Guy insisted that this is the way it should work. I agreed, but what we think doesn’t matter. That’s not the way it works in a lot of businesses.

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Wedding Etiquette

It’s been over a month (almost two months) since our son’s wedding. I love weddings. Our son and daughter-in-law’s wedding was beautiful, the reception fun, and the whole experience wonderful. I’ve heard some horror stories, though, from friends as they’ve talked about weddings they’ve attended recently. So, I thought I’d go over some basic wedding etiquette.

First, if a name is not listed on the invitation, that person is not invited to the wedding. If it says [your name] and guest, you are welcome to bring a friend. If not, you are expected to attend alone. Trust me, you’ll have plenty of people to talk to. If your children are not listed on the invitation, they are not invited. If the invitation is addressed to The [Whatever] Family, everyone living in your home is invited. If it’s only addressed to Mr. & Mrs. [Whatever], and the children aren’t listed on an internal envelope, leave the kids at home. By the way, it is considered a breach of etiquette to contact the bride and/or groom to ask if you can bring someone not specifically invited. Who to invite is one of the most difficult issues a bridal couple must deal with. Don’t make it more difficult.

Happy Birthday!

My husband, The Furry Guy, has a birthday this month. It got me thinking about birthday traditions. They’re wide-ranging here in the US, since so many of us have traditions that go back to the countries our ancestors came from.

At the Bates Bungalow, birthdays are somewhat simple. You get the food of your choice for the day. We may go out for dinner, with the birthday boy or girl choosing the place. You may receive a small gift or two. Like I said, simple.

We work with the children at church, so birthdays are important there. The birthday celebrant is brought up to the front of the group, and everyone sings Happy Birthday to them. They then get to choose which song we’ll sing as a group. If anyone (besides me, of course) remembers The Furry Guy’s birthday, he’ll be honored in the same way. Since he’s not fond of being in front of everyone, one of my gifts to him is to not mention his birthday.

Caprese Salad

It’s summer. Summer means tomatoes … Lots of tomatoes.

One of my favorite summer flavors (and a good use for all those tomatoes) is Caprese Salad. It’s tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, and balsamic vinegar. It’s fresh and light. Here’s a good recipe. Consider the measurements to be ballpark suggestions. You can substitute good extra virgin olive oil for the balsamic vinegar if you’re not a fan of balsamic vinegar.

May your week ahead be filled with sunshine.

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Clear It Out

I must confess, I’m a bit of a packrat. I’ve been known to save stuff far beyond its usefulness. But I occasionally clear things out. Here’s a list of places you should think about giving a good clear-out.

Your Refrigerator

It’s likely that most of the items in your refrigerator are fine, since we tend to use up the perishable items we’re likely to store there. However, condiments are notorious for sitting there for years beyond the point at which they taste their best. It’s a good idea to take stock every once in a while of what’s there and what’s been there too long.