Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Sun and the Umbrella Plant

See the shadow design there in the middle?

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Whad'ya Get?!

How was your Christmas? Or Hanukkah? Or Solstice? Or Kwanzaa? Or day off work?
Mine was lovely, thanks.
Christmas Eve the girls and I met my parents at Crossroads for their big Awaited program. It was as amazing as I expected, even better than last year. Ziva gave us the gift of sleeping through the whole show. The girls and I got our pictures in the photo booth and the girls really enjoyed the train display and the Kid City playground. Last year they were both bored with the program but this year Elliet was on the edge of her seat the whole time. She's one step closer to going to the Over the Rhine Christmas show with us! That night, the children all went to bed on time with no fussing. Jt put together Elliet's bike and finished wrapping gifts while I made tags and watched Lost.
Christmas morning we opened gifts (I was surprised with a KitchenAid mixer!) and I made monkey bread. It was thoroughly cooked this year so that's a step up, but I'm still looking for the perfect recipe. Then we threw our stuff together and headed up to Dayton to gather with my family. We opened more gifts and ate the best dinner of the year and had a great time. More relatives came by and it was great to see everyone. Jt and I scurried out around 9:30 to see Sherlock Holmes. Great movie, Robert Downey, Jr. was perfect and is wow, kinda hot with the older, scruffy thing he has going on. We came back and crashed on an air mattress in the living room. My mom made bacon and eggs for breakfast and we played a few rounds of Monopoly Deal before heading back home.
At home, we cleaned and cleaned and cleaned until it was time to go next door for pizza and a movie. The kids had fun with their friends and we watched Four Christmases (pretty funny!). I made drinks with the shit-ton of liquor I picked up Christmas Eve. Over ice I poured equal parts Stoli vodka, Godiva liqueur and Frangelico then added milk to the top. SO yummy!
Sunday afternoon my brother and sister in-law's family came over. I adore them and was so glad we could spend a couple of hours together. We had chili and the kids played in the little bit of snow that was falling. Later that night we exchanged gifts with Flipper and Jayden. Jt and I finished off our holiday watching the latest Harry Potter movie.
I can't think of a better way to spend the holiday...except for maybe seeing even MORE family! Okay, and maybe avoiding awkward attempts by my parents at converting my sister's boyfriend and convincing us all that Fox News is TEH AWESOME.
What did you do? By which I mean What Did You Get???

Monday, December 21, 2009

JUST What You Wanted, A Christmas Meme!

(Lifted from Swistle who lifted it from someone else. Which I guess is what makes it a meme.)

Eggnog or hot chocolate?
I like both, but I don't drink either one very often. (I lifted this answer from Swistle as well, I don't REALLY need to re-word that do I?)

Does Santa wrap the presents or leave them open under the tree? We wrap everything but the stocking stuffers. We are still piecing together the whole Santa thing. When Elliet was very small I decided to tell them that Santa is a game we play. But then they really wanted to believe and people told me that they were't screwed up by this lie so I relented and now there IS a Santa but I'm not sure what he does. Does he give them ONE gift? The one big one? Just the stockings? I have NO IDEA.
The last time Elliet asked me ,"Is he REALLY real?" I was caught off-guard. She wants to believe but doesn't want to be fooled. I told her that nobody knows if Santa's real and I think she's decided that he is.

Colored lights on a tree or white? As long as Jt is the one do put the lights on, they will be white. I like both.

Do you hang mistletoe? No but only because I hadn't thought of it.

When do you put your decorations up? The first weekend after we get home from Thanksgiving in North Carolina.

What is your favorite holiday dish? My mother makes prime rib and Yorkshire pudding and rutabagas. Dangit, now I have to clean drool off my keyboard!

Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? The girls are both getting slippers this year so I think we'll do those.

How do you decorate your Christmas tree? Jt puts a whole mess of white lights inside the tree and then we all put on the ragtag bunch of ornaments. I try to see that they are spread out but we keep the bottom third of the tree empty anyway because of the baby.

Snow: love it or hate it? Love it, so pretty, so quiet, so fun! HATE it, so slippery, so wet, so cold.

Can you ice skate? No way, haven't tried since I was a kid but we'll take the girls next year.

What is your favorite holiday dessert? Hungarian Butter Cookies

What is your favorite holiday tradition? Presents. I don't know, we get up and do presents here and then spend the rest of the day in Dayton with my parents and sisters and Nana. It's a great day.

Candy canes: yum or yuck? Love them. I don't care for other peppermints at all but I LOVE candy canes.

Favorite Christmas show? The original Grinch.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

And Because I'm a Winner...

I spotted this ad in the business section of the New York Times. It took me a full 60 seconds to realize that it was not targeting Homeless people with it's cheap, soup kitchen meals.



Monday, December 14, 2009

I'm a Winner

It's true, I win things. I remember the very first thing I ever won. It was a pack of sprees I won on the inside of a sprees wrapper. I was 16 and had just moved from Kansas City to Dayton and I was missing my best friend. So I sent her the wrapper. It was a very special gift, see. I was giving her the only thing I had ever won and I was giving her what would be my FREE CANDY. For reference, she sent me marshmallows from her Lucky Charms. All smashed up in the envelope. What I'm saying is I like candy.
My husband won a very large television a few years ago. It was entirely too big for our house so I ebayed it. What an ordeal that turned out to be. But we had money and paid our bills so that was good. Then I won a trip to Hawaii. For real.
I still don't remember entering the drawing but I usually enter whatever comes my way if it's not a big hassle (hence all the winning). A lady called me and told me I had won and I didn't know what to say. "I don't remember entering that but I do shop at Bigg's so I guess maybe I did?" I think I let her down with my lack of enthusiasm. So there was some papers and some notarizing and then we just had to go. The kids were little so Jedd's mom came and stayed here with them. We had $500 to last the whole week so the fanciest thing we ate was Cheesecake Factory. We watched Law and Order reruns (we didn't have cable at home, it was exciting!) we ate a lot of McDonald's. They have rice as a side dish there and packets of soy sauce right by the ketchup. We walked the beach a lot but only swam once. We walked by the zoo and peeked through the fences. We hiked a big ass hill.



















We had a great time.
Then last year I won a CPR kit from Amazing Trips and last week I won an ornament from Haworth Handmade through Swistle's Review blog. I picked this one:

Cute, right? So, have you ever won anything?









Thursday, December 10, 2009

Christmas Cookies



So I'm curious, are you baking this year? What do you make and what do you do with the stuff you make? I think I'm just baking for family and the office staff at the girls' schools this year. I don't think I'll make a lot, maybe some mini pumpkin loaves and Hungarian Butter Cookies. The butter cookies are a family tradition and they are SO GOOD. I'm still looking for other recipes to try out so I am going to check out every link at The Mom Creative cookie recipe exchange for ideas.

Hungarian Butter Cookies
1# butter (that's how you know these are AWESOME)
1c sugar
6 egg yolks
4c flour
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking powder

After you mix these up you have to refrigerate them for a couple hours. Take out half the dough at a time and work quickly so it doesn't get warm. Roll them out using flour* and cut into large circles. Roll them thin, maybe 1/6 inch? They need to be thin but they are very fragile so if they are too thin they will break. On half of the circles, cut another circle out of the center.
Bake at 375° for 4-6 minutes. You don't want them brown, just done. When cool spread the circles with raspberry or apricot preserves and top with a cookie with a hole in it. On the raspberry ones we sprinkle a little powdered sugar. My mom puts chopped nuts on the apricot ones but I don't like nuts so I don't really know how she makes them stick.

*edited, these are actually rolled out in powdered sugar, not flour!

Monday, December 07, 2009

Stuff with Beans

I made two of the easiest dinners ever this past week. On Friday I found some loose andouille sausage on clearance at Jungle Jims. I browned it (about 1#) and added two cans of red beans and one can of light red kidney beans (these are what I keep on hand for chili). I added a little Chachere's Creole seasoning, onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper and cumin. then I added two cans of chicken broth. Let that cook down a little, I served it over brown rice. So easy and SO good.
Then last night we tried Shredded Chicken Tacos from Tasty Kitchen that I first saw at Suburban Bliss (I love her "Did They Eat It?" posts). This was so easy, my favorite way to cook, you just throw everything in the crock pot and you're done.

1 package frozen corn
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts - these can be frozen (even better!)
1 jar salsa
1 envelope taco seasoning

Layer corn, then beans, then seasoning, chicken and then salsa on top. 6-8 hours on high or 3-4 hours on low, shred chicken and mix with corn and beans. Fill taco shells or tortillas.

I used taco seasoning and some Mrs Dash Southwest Chipotle seasoning. I also don't like the texture of onions or cooked peppers so I pureed my salsa. We served these on tortillas with a little cheese and sour cream. My mom added chicken broth to the leftovers and made soup!

Fixed anything new lately? Extra points if it's easy!

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Dreaming Little

My friend Suzanne at List, Lust, Lost made a list recently, a sort of life list. Some people call it a bucket list. She had some little things, some bigger, things to learn, things to experience, places to go. I thought I would try this but I couldn't think of much. Then I did one of those surveys on Facebook and one question was "where would you visit if you had the chance?" and I said Alaska. No, really.
It was then that I realized I had stopped dreaming big. I have no idea what this means. Is it good? Is it part of learning how to be content where I am? I have felt very content lately, not wanting for much. An idea will come up and I think, "nah, I don't really need that" Or is it bad? Is it evidence I've contracted the sickness of mothers, the one where your dreams just don't matter anymore? I really don't know. I don't want to go through life always wanting for something. But I also don't want to go through life accomplishing nothing because I stopped trying.
So here's the list, I'll try and think big where I can:

SKILLS AND KNOWLEDGE

-Learn some basic Swahili - I just like it, it's a beautiful language

-Learn a craft, right now I'm leaning toward quilting. I have tried knitting a few times but I have tension issues, which is also why I didn't get anywhere with piano. I can't seem to make my hands and fingers do things gently.

-Learn enough Spanish to get by in a Spanish-speaking country for at least a few weeks

-Get enough medical training (probably RN) to do medical outreach here and abroad. This one is hard because I don't really want to be a nurse. Well, sometimes I do but usually I don't. But I want something important to offer the world.

TRAVEL
These are harder, these are the ones that have me wondering how driven I really am to include them on the list. Part of this is just wondering if I will ever come to a point in life that the expense for these trips is justified or even available.

-Travel to Africa, not sure where yet. See the wildlife.

-Travel to Australia, see the outback (that's a thing right?) and the reef.

EXPERIENCES

-Work in an orphanage in Romania for not longer than a month (unless Jt goes with me)

-Have a big dog

-Go to Burning Man at least one more time

-Keep chickens, just some laying hens. No more fretting over finding free range eggs.

-Switch to local, humane, clean meat

CAREER

-Have one. That really is as far as I've gone with this one.

RELATIONSHIPS AND FAMILY

-Find my half-brother, whether he wants a relationship or not. I just want to know who he is.

PHYSICAL FEATS

-Complete an XTERRA race

-Finish Burning Man tattoo (not exactly a feat, I know)

If you want to make your own list, start here:
Raptitude.com:
How to Make a Life List You’ll Actually Do: A Comprehensive Guide