Monday, December 31, 2007

The End ~ 2007 Version

by Nancy Northcott

Well, here we are at the end of the year. Some people see December 31 as a time to look back on the previous 364 days, count successes and shortcomings, and devise a plan for what they hope to do in the next 365. Other people will shrug their shoulders, label this just another day, and move on into the New Year. Some people will stay up to watch the ball drop in Times Square while others will dive into bed early, pull the covers over their heads, and say, "Go on, already, 2007! You're outta here!" before they drop off to sleep.

December 31 wasn't always the last day of the year, of course. According to various books and websites I've checked, the new year once started on March 15 and then was set as March 25 to coincide with the date the Catholic Church commemorated as that of the Annunciation. The switch to the Julian (named after Caesar) calendar set the New Year as beginninng on January 1, a change not accepted in England until the 18th century. Various religions still count their church years as beginning on particular dates not coinciding with January 1.

For me, the last day of the year is an occasion to look back, think of where I've been, and see where I am relative to where I'd like to go. This year saw a couple of difficult and interlocked family situations come to a close. I'm looking forward to starting a year with those receding in the rear view mirror instead of floating overhead. I've read some fabulous books but have a TBR pile that, well, teeters dangerously, so I hope to whittle it down this year. I used to read more. I'd like to slide back into that. There were some wonderful developments, not least being my association with the banditas and the renewal of ties with old writing buddies. Of course, there were also a couple of things I wish had turned out better. As my golfing cousin might say, however, "you play it where it lies," so I'll be shooting for more landings in favorable territory in 2008. As far as goals go, I'd like to write my first short story in about 15 years, whether or not it sells, write "The End" on book-length manuscripts twice, and build the content on my website. Of course I have the usual resolutions about exercise and better eating, but I prefer to think of all such things as plans. "Resolution" sounds so . . . fragile at times, despite the word's firm meaning.

Tonight is party time for a lot the world, some of whom won't be in the best shape tomorrow, depending on how enthusiastically they party. A lot of people will haul themselves out early to mop up the last of December and launch the new year. Many people will watch football games. I've included the dh's recipe for a great dish to take to buffets. It travels well, though its density means it doesn't reheat especially well in a microwave.

Are you a party-goer or a homebody on New Year's Eve? What do you like and dislike about the holiday? What are you most looking forward to in 2008? If you have resolutions or goals you'd like to share, feel free!

I'm giving away a $15.00 Borders gift card to one commenter chosen at random. I'd like to thank all our visitors, commenting and not, for stopping by and to wish each of you health, happiness and success in 2008!

Stuffed Shells Florentine


1 pkg. jumbo pasta shells (12 oz.)
2 cups pasta sauce (bought or made; can be with or without meat)
1 can sliced mushrooms (4 oz.)
1 pkg. chopped, frozen spinach (10 oz.)
1 pkg. ricotta cheese (15 oz.)
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 cup grated mozarella cheese
1 large egg
nutmeg, garlic powder or garlic salt, dried oregano, salt, pepper


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Boil pasta shells in large pot, stirring often so they don't stick to the bottom, for about 15 min.
Drain shells and set aside.
Beat the egg and mix with the ricotta cheese until well blended.
Add the parmesan cheese to the ricotta mixture and blend well.
Add 1/2 cup of the grated mozzarella (reserve the other 1/2 cup) to the ricotta combination and mix well.
Prepare frozen spinach according to package directions; drain any excess moisture.
Add spinach to the cheese mixture and blend well.
Drain mushrooms and mix into the cheeses.
Season mixture with dash of nutmeg, 1/2 tsp. garlic powder, and 1 tsp. dried oregano.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Cover the bottom of a 13"x9" baking dish with pasta sauce (about 1 cup).
Fill each pasta shell with 1 tablespoon of ricotta mixture and arrange shells in dish.
Pour remaining sauce over shells.
Sprinkle remaining grated mozzarella cheese over shells.
Bake at 350 degrees for 1/2 hour.

Makes 7-8 servings as an entree. As a buffet side dish, serves about twice as many.


p226 said...

I'm a homebody on New Years. I watch the ball drop on TV with the family and have a few cold beers. But this year, I have the whole week off. So, I'm going to spend a bunch of the week in the woods or on the range.

p226 said...

Oh man, twice in a row.

You should all be aware that I've plucked the rooster, painted him in glowing green phosphorescent paint, and placed him on the runway threshold at CRW.

I have a scanner tuned to the ATC freqs so I can listen to the confused pilots asking about him. Hopefully he won't be detained for too long by the TSA or ANG security forces.

flchen1 said...

Thanks for a lovely post, Nancy! Another homebody here--not sure whether we'll even stay up till midnight ;) (We have the kids as an excuse to stay home for now, but even pre-kids, we weren't much for the late nights out...)

Congrats on the GR again, p226!

Carol Burge said...

I'm definitely a New Years Eve homebody. Didn't used to be, though! Phew, I used bring the New Year in with a bang! LOL

I plan to spend New Years Eve at home, with the dh and three of my grandchildren (ages 3,5 & 7). We're going to watch the ball drop (if they don't fall asleep before then), have pop corn an hot chocolate and pizza, and whatever else I can dream up. Should be fun! :)

Happy Holidays!

Anna Campbell said...

Great post, Nancy. Congratulations, P226. Clearly the rooster wants some male bonding time ;-)

Hey, where are all the party animals? I'm a homebody on NYE too. Hate crowds and the weather here is awful anyway (a cyclone has set up off the coast and it's blowing a gale so they've cancelled all the fireworks). Probably won't even see the new year in. Bah! Humbug!

Happy New Year, everyone! And may all your dreams come true!

Jane said...

New Year's gives me an excuse to indulge in champagne. Even though I live in NYC, I've never ventured to Times Square to watch the ball drop because of the huge crowd. I don't relish being shoved around. I do hope that I will one day brave the crowds and see the ball drop live. Hope everyone has a healthy and happy new year.

Tawny said...

Happy New Year!!!

P226, you and the GR are having quite a bonding time, huh?

I'm a combination partier and homebody for the New Year. We stay home, but we have the party here. Usually friends and family who live in walking distance so as to not have to worry about driving ;-) Then on the 1st we restore the house to normal (aka, put away the decorations) and have a big, fancy dinner to welcome the new year.

I hope everyone has a safe, fabulous celebration, however they ring in 2008!

Helen said...

Lovely post Nancy
Congrats on the GR p226 he must like it at your place.
I am a home body as well I have to work tomorrow morning so I will be watching the fireworks on Sydney Harbour on the TV while trying to keep one of our dogs calm she is very scared of loud noises and every man and his dog somehow get hold of fireworks and let them of all night so I don't think hubby and I will be getting much sleep.Two of our daughters are going into the city to watch the fireworks should be a good night very warm here in Sydney.
But to everyone I wish you all a fantastic New Year filled with love and hapiness and everything you wish for.
Have Fun

Helen said...

Nancy I love that receipe
Have Fun

Gillian Layne said...

Another vote for home! We'll go see National Treasure II with the girls in the afternoon, then be back home by early evening for games, TV, snacks.

I'll need a nap to make it to midnight, party animal that I am :)

Happy New Years, Bandits!

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

My BF and I will probably be going out, it is our anniversary. We met two years ago on New Year's Eve, neither of us had planned on going out but a mutual friend bullied both of us to get off our backsides and do something. I got to the party place and was talking and then he came in later and worked his way over to where I was sitting, hugging women all the way...LOL Our friend was on the dance floor and we started talking, by the time she got back to the table we were enjoying ourselves and she just about swallowed her teeth. That wasn't her plan, she had never pictured me and him as a couple. They (the whole group) didn't give us two weeks, it has now been two years and they are all still in shock. Even I have to admit it is a bit of a strange pairing. :-)

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

P226, you know since you plucked him he is going to be disinclined to go to the colder climates now. You may have guaranteed GR going back to the Aussies and staying until his feathers grow back. I am sure green is not his color either. I sure hope none of those jets hit him while they are still in shock from seeing him in the first place.

Caren Crane said...

P226, I would congratulate you, but feel it would be immoral. I may have to contact PETA. Really, I think Dianna has it right. The jets are going to blow (or scare) the feathers off him. Is this some male rite of passage we don't know about?

Nancy, we are having our 3rd annual New Year's Eve party at my house tonight. My friends and I realized none of us ever does anything on NYE, so my BFF and I decided to change that. It's an open house, so people can drop in, visit, and toddle off home at 8:00 if they want. *g*

We will be up until midnight, then do some quick clean-up, say goodbyes and dive in bed. Sleep late. Get up and fix collard greens, black-eyed peas, sausage and sauer kraut and buttermilk cornbread. All our good luck foods! *g*

We will do as little as possible to make the house habitable, then ignore the decorations until Epiphany. Happy New Year, everyone!

Caren Crane said...

Dianna, one of the couples coming to our party tonight had their first official "date" at our party last New Year's Eve. They married in September. That was so cool!

Buffie said...

When it comes to NYE, I'm definitely a homebody. I don't like my two boys to be away from me that night (too many crazies on the road) -- I like to know my little ones are safe :) This year we are going just down the street to a friends and playing games and munching away on some yummies. The kids will be playing the wii, and maybe just maybe I'll play dance revolution. I have no dance skills so it will be a riot!

Buffie said...

p226 -- glowing green???? Here I thought it would be more hunting colors.

Gannon Carr said...

Caren, glad to see someone else will be having black-eyed peas on New Year's Day!

We usually stay home on NYE. Like Buffie, I don't like to be on the road with the crazies. I'd rather be with family and friends, drink a little bubbly, and ring in the New Year that way.

A few years ago, we lived in Naples, Italy, and they celebrate the New Year with a bang.... literally! Fireworks in every direction as far as the eye can see, for about 2 hours. We were on our roof with friends and it was like a Disney fireworks show times 20! I don't think I can ever top that!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Lovely post Nancy, and p226 we'll be sending in a Bandita SWAT team to rescue the GR just as soon as Cassondra teaches us how to fire the weapons!

For almost every New Year's Eve over the past 20 years I've been delivering babies! I like to help bring in the first baby of the new year for whatever county I live in. Have actually done it once or twice!

This year I managed to get both NYE and New Years Day off, so dh and I will be joining my local writing friends at another friend's house for a party. Then on NYD we'll watch football until our heads hurt! We used to always watch whichever bowl game THE Ohio State University was playing on NYD, but this year we'll be waiting until Jan 7th to see if we can hold our own against LSU!

Christie Kelley said...

Usually we stay home. My husband was in various bands when he was younger and has learned to hate going out on New Year's Eve. This year, we're walking across the street to my neighbor's house for a Mexican themed party (her husband received a margarita maker for xmas). Since the kids are invited too, it should be a fun time.

p226 said...

Lovely post Nancy, and p226 we'll be sending in a Bandita SWAT team to rescue the GR just as soon as Cassondra teaches us how to fire the weapons!

Uh oh. If Cassondra's leading a SAR team to recover the rooster.... It might just be in my interest to surrender him peacefully....

doglady said...

Step away from the GR, p226! Sign me up for the SWAT team. I will definitely be spending NYE at home. I have had lots of years to ring it in in strange, loud, exotic places. Home sounds really nice. I am actually off for NYD ! So I may actually stay up until midnight, get a smooch from my Chihuahua and then go to sleep! Boring, I know, but it works for me. My goals for 2008? Write two more books and GET PUBLISHED!!

Kate Carlisle said...

Oh dear, I thought the green glow was kinda sexy ...

I like the idea of a margarita maker, Christie. Please report back on that!

Actually, I've got my own margarita maker at home -- my husband, the bartender. ;-)

We've always stayed home on New Years Eve, made a nice dinner and drank champagne. I love doing that, but this year we've been lured over to our friends' house for dinner. He's a chef and is doing all the cooking. And that's the only way you'll get us out of the house on New Years Eve, LOL

Happy New Year to all!!

MsHellion said...

I'm a stay-at-homer. *LOL* My goals are to : write more, eat less, get more exercise, and laugh more. Laugh more is actually right behind "write more"--it's that important.

CrystalGB said...

I am definitely a homebody on New Years. I am always fearful of being on the roads due to drunk drivers.

Maureen said...

We usually stay home on New Years Eve. Once we had kids we stayed put for the most part over the years. We'll have a nice dinner and watch the ball drop. I am just starting to make some plans as to what I want to accomplish in 2008. Happy New Year to everyone.

jo robertson said...

Wow, p226, again??!! Congrats!

Gallo pobre!

I'm a homebody too. There are too many crazy drunks out on the road for my comfort. I usually try to watch the ball drop, tee hee, and then todder off to bed.

I really like the clean, fresh feeling of the start of a new year. We always dressed our youngest child in a diaper and a draped banner with the year on it.

Nancy, that recipe sounds to die for! Yummmy!

Nathalie said...

I will be watching TV with my family... and eating!

I never understand how people stand on Time Square, freezing for hours!

Happy New Year!

Lily said...

I am also a homebody... I still never have gone on New Year's Eve... I stay with my small family and we celebrate together!

catslady said...

For the last 4 or 5 years we get together with friends and family and have a fancy dinner and go to the movies. Some go to as many as four movies but we usually elect to see 2. Then we have a glass of the bubbly to toast in the new year. Happy New Years everyone.

Jennifer Y. said...

I am definitely a homebody on New Year's Eve and have always been.

Now New Year's Eve has taken on a different meaning. Today marks the two-year anniversary of when we unexpectedly lost my grandaddy in an auto accident (due to fog). Last year we spent it with my granny so she wouldn't be alone, but this year we are going to be at our house.

In a way though I wish I did have a party to go to. I have always wanted to go to a New Year's Eve party, but have never been to one.

Aunty Cindy said...

Yes, I too will be home and have a bottle of bubbly cooling in the fridge in anticipation of midnight.

Christie, do report back on the margarita maker! YUM! Jo-Mama bought me a delish cranberry margarita yesterday at Chevy's. We were having our own lil New Year's Eve Eve luncheon.

Okay, I know all about black-eyed peas on New Year's Day. My Gramma who was from Oklahoma insisted on that good luck charm. But sauer kraut and sausage, Caren? That's a new one on me!

I know in Brazil they have a beans and rice dish and leave a bit along with some liquor for the good spirits. Anyone else have good-luck foods or rituals?


Nancy said...

Congratulations, p226! Looks like you're on a lucky streak. Or at least you were, until the rescue squad formed. These are not women to be messed with. I'd back carefully away from the rooster if I were you. *g*

I'm glad y'all like the recipe. One word of advice, though, the dh gave me serving #s for using the whole box of shells, which he didn't do. So making the whole box might require more filling and a larger pan. That just occurred to me, and he's not here to be asked about it. I'll post something about it tonight, just to be sure.

Homebodies seem to rule the day. It looks as if most of us are going to be home or in the neighborhood. If I count it right and didn't miss anyone, that's p226, flchen1, Carol, Anna C. (doubtless scheming to recapture the rooster for herself), Tawny, Helen, Gillian, Caren, Buffie, Suz, Maureen, Gannon, mshellion, doglady, catslady, Jo, Lily, Nathalie, crystalgb, and jennifer y. I hope I didn't miss anyone.

We used to go to parties, but we became increasingly uneasy about the state of other drivers on the road after midnight, and then we had babysitter shortages, so we just developed the habit of watching the ball drop and having champagne with cheese and crackers at midnight. The boy, of course, has soda.

I think it's just easier to stay in or close to home when you have kids. We like seeing the new year in with our son. Of course, we always enjoyed parties. Caren, Christie and Tawny, I hope yours go well and everyone rings the new year in happily. Kate and Suz, those dinners sound fabulous!

hrdwrkdmom, congratulations on your anniversary! It's great that you have a huge party night for it.

Jane, I'm with you and Anna Campbell on crowds. Never liked 'em. My mom and I were in London for new year's in 1986/7 and saw the Trafalgar Square chaos on TV. There were reports of all kinds of wild behavior on the tube, too. We weren't sorry to be tucked up in our hotel room. We even splurged on room service!

Gannon, Italy sounds like great fun, if you like fireworks. I do, but our dogs never did. I see where Helen's coming from on that. We have a lab now, and she just finds them annoying. Our golden retrievers, however, were thunder-phobic to varying degrees and found the boom of holiday fireworks alarming. So we also made a point of being in by midnight for the dogs.

Anna, I hope the cyclone misses you

Jennifer, I'm sorry about your grandfather. My father died between Thanksgiving and Christmas in 2000, and that memory still adds a bit of sorrow to the holiday season for us.

FilmPhan said...

Oh yeah, I'm having a party. I have called all my friends and hopefully there will be a good turnout. We play games and talk but we might try to fit in a midnight game of ultimate frisbee. I know it's freezing outside but it would be so much fun. We've played it before from about midnight until 2 am. We use glow sticks. It's a great time but very painful because you really have a hard time seeing other people.

Wendy said...

Hi, everyone!

Nancy, I'm definitely a homebody, I'd rather stay home with family and friends than go out. I dislike how much emphasis its put on gifts, it's not that I'm a cheapstake, I love giving out gifts but it just seems like that's the no. 1 thing people focus on.

For 2008, my main goal is graduating and becoming a fantastic nurse! *g*

shannon said...

I vacilate between being a partier on New Years Eve and wanting to just crawl into bed. Honestly it has much to do with whether or not I have something smokin' to wear. I got a sitter in November for tonight and just kept waiting for one of my friends to throw a party. Nothing came in the mail so I was reduced to calling up my closest friend and asking if we could all party at her house. Not too exciting since most of my friends were NOT planaheaders and dont have sitters for tonight. So likely the adult conversation and card games will be interspersed with crying, fighting and drooling. Our kids might act up too. HA! :)

I LOVE the New Year. I love any opportunity to "formally" set new goals for myself and my family and to reorganize closets and drawers. I like to start out the new year with a clean house and a family schedule posted for all to see. So far my house still is in shambles from Christmas and I ran out of poster board for the schedule. So I may make next monday my official "new year"... but it is the effort that counts, right? I am particularly excited about THIS new year because for once I am thin enough to NOT have to add "lose weight" or "tone up" to my list of goals. Yahooooo!!!!

Anna Sugden said...

Popping in briefly to wish everyone a Happy New Year and all great things for 2008.

We've been homebodies in the past - but since we've been in NJ, we've headed into NYC for a splashy dinner. We don't brave the crowds for the Times Square thing (did that as a kid once - very cool) - too crazy.

As this is likely to be our last new year over here, we've gone all out and will be dining at Morimoto's. Yes - he of Food Network/Iron Chef fame).

P226 - LOL on your rooster exploits - let us know if the Verizon van appears!

Nancy - great post as always - I learn so much from your posts (and love the sound of the recipe!)

Gerri Russell said...

Happy New Year, everyone!

Nancy, here's to 2008 being your year to shine!!

On New Year's eve, we invite friends over and celebrate all the time changes from the East coast to the West. Which means every hour there's a new glass of champagne. :-)

diane said...

Happy New Year to the special Banditas who make my days brighter. We will be spending New Years with friends at their home. A yummy homemade dinner, and a movie or lovely photos from a trip.

ellie said...

On New Years this year I will be spending it at home with a good friend whose husband died earlier this year. We have much to be thankful for and will welcome a new year with new hopes.
Best wishes for a wonderful 2008.

ruth said...

My New Years will be a quiet celebration with my neighbors whose home is filled with love and joy. Their support and help this past year has enabled me to overcome difficulties. We will toast to another healthy and better New yeaar.

pearl said...

I will be at home for New Years. Much prefer a quiet evening with family. My daughter will prepare a culinary delight and we will enjoy this repast.

Kirsten said...

Here's to all the Banditas and Bandita Buddies! Thanks for ringing in the New Year with us! :-) To those of you I've gotten to know this year, thanks for sharing your stories and thoughts with us. And for those of you I am just getting to know, please stop by often and say hello!

p226, you are a bad bad man. Thank goodness we've got Cassondra around to keep you in line.

Shannon, I think I might hate you. I mean, I love you, 'cause you tell great stories and all, but I might also hate you. ;-) Seriously, enjoy your thinness in 2008!

I'm with all the homebodies, though my husband is more of a partier, so I try to get out a little for his sake. *g* We're having an early dinner and a movie tonight and then maybe celebrating an east coast New Year here on the west coast.

Oh, and we hit the rock gym today with the kids. Incredibly fun--maybe a new tradition. The kids got to climb around like monkeys while I got to ogle the man-candy. I mean, er, watch the skilled climbers perfect their craft. ;-)

Have a happy new year everyone!! Here's to more contracts, more LAUGHTER (I love that Ms Hellion!) and lots and lots of time with good friends. CHEERS!

Nancy said...

filmphan, enjoy your party! It sounds like fun.

Wendy, good luck with your goal of becoming a nurse! The nurses I know are all fabulous.

Shannon, our house is a shambles, too. If only we could blame it on Christmas. I admire your resolve to start with a tidy house, and we're working on that. Continually, it seems. Congrats on the weight thing. That's wonderful!

Anna and Pearl, it sounds as if you'll roll quietly into the new year. We aspire to do that, but lots of our neighbors like fireworks. We'll probably be up until about 2. Just before "their" New Year's Day reaches Gerri's party and Kirsten's house!

Ellie, it's sweet of you to hang with your friend. Holidays can be really lonely times when you're used to having company and don't anymore.

I hope all you party people have a great time. I'll think about you when we lift our glasses at midnight (eastern)!

Still have to pin the dh down about his recipe. As y'all can probably tell, he's the cook in the family. Will post something about it for those interested.

Nancy said...

Ruth, I'm sorry this year had rough spots but happy that you have supportive friends. May 2008 be smooth sailing for you!

Diane, I hope you and your friends have a delicious dinner and a fun evening!

The dh is back and says that the filling recipe makes plenty for all the shells in the box, some of which will disintegrate in cooking. He says those who like lots of sauce might want more than 2 cups, but he finds 2 cups fine for his sparing application. So the recipe is good to go as posted. Whew!

By chance, we found an unopened bottle of champagne in the bottom of the refrigerator. He came home with cheese and fancy crackers, so we are now well supplied.

Kimberly L said...

WOOHOO!!!!!! I hope everyone has a great Happy New Years.
We went to see I Am Legend last night. A great movie. Tonight we're just going to stay home with family and friends and play cards.

KimW said...

Yum! Those shells look delicious. Thanks for the recipe.

I'm staying in tonight where it' safe and just watching the celebrations on TV curled up on the couch with my husband by my side.

doglady said...

Happy New Year Banditas and Bandita Buddies! For everyone who is going out please drive safely! More laughter is definitely a great New Year's Resolution and I can guarantee if you stop by here you will accomplish that goal in spades!

Laura J. said...

For me...well I've been out with a couple of friends for some margaritts but now I'm home and will be heading off to bed soon.

It's starting to rain here and the wind is really fierce as we are having a cold front move through. So the roads will be pretty nasty later tonight. Not something I like to contend with. They are even saying we can see some snow tomorrow! Yay, rah what a way to start the new year.

We have gone out in the past and were invited to a party this year, but it is a 30 mile drive and I don't really want to risk me or my kids (a family party) with some of the others who don't realize they had a bit too much.

Everyone have a very HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Nancy said...

Laura J., Kim W. and Kimberly L., I hope you have nice, quiet evenings. Laura J., we had rain yesterday, for which we were grateful, and would love to have snow. I hate to drive in it, though!

Doglady, thanks for the kind words. We're glad you like it here. Much as we banditas enjoy talking to each other, what makes the blog for us is comments from our visitors.

AC, I hope that bubbly is good and cold by now!

I'd like to second doglady's advice about driving carefully, one and all. Look out for lunatics and drunks who aren't looking out for you--not just tonight but always.

Joan said...

Jane, you're like me and the Kentucky Derby. I live 4 miles from Churchill Downs and have NEVER been to the Derby! I would LOVE to be in Times Square though. I think Manhattan is AWESOME!

I've never been much of a party goer on NYE although the past two years I did get invited to a family style one...with a half dozen "wee ones" who literally screamed the new year in.

But spent the last day of 2007 in work h*ll and they say...too pooped to pop!

I didn't have margharitas but a refreshing glass of V8 Frusion.(BUT I stayed on my WW ALL day!)

I will eat ONE black eye pea for good luck.

Oh, and p226 do NOT take the GR into the woods...

Happy New Year, everyone!

Amy S. said...

I stayed at home and watched the ball drop on tv. Happy New Years!