Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Bring It On!

Are you ready for a new year?

Are you ready to Get Organized ...
Looking for ways to Be Clutter Free ...
Maybe you need a little Waist Management ...
How about Keeping Your House Running Like Clockwork ...
or do you need Meal Solutions ...
A Closet Makeover ...
All Season Tips for Gardening ...
Can you spare 31 Days to a Healthier You ...
Need Tips for Saving Money All Year ...
or How to Make Changes to Last a Lifetime ...
or simply some Fresh Thinking ...


I love how all the January magazines entice you and promise that THIS year will be your best year yet.  If you just follow their simple little tips.  

Like this one:  to keep clutter from accumulating on kitchen counters, have a place for everything and put everything away when not in use.

Wow, like I never thought of that before.  However, what would really be useful is a tip on how to actually get the members in my house to realize that everything has a place and that they're perfectly capable of finding it.  Without my assistance!

Instead of suggesting that I get all organized with a chart and calendar system to let everyone in the family know when appointments are and who has what chore, how about a tip to remind them to actually LOOK at it?

I don't need suggestions on how to plan a week's worth of menus and make a shopping list.  I need someone to actually go to the grocery store for me.  That would make my life easier in '09.

I don't need a master plan for what to plant in my garden this spring.  I need someone to weed it for me!

And I don't care how many useful tips there are for cleaning a bathroom, it still never gets done unless someone is willing (or forced) to do it!

I fully understand that exercising daily, eating healthier, following a daily skin care routine, and a deep conditioning treatment on my hair once a week will make me look thinner, feel sexier and just glow with self-confidence.  But what I really want to know is when will my laundry get done, who's going to scoop the dog poop and why do we have yet another over-due library book?

I'm so glad I took the time to investigate some of these so-called time-saving, life-changing tips.  With all the magazines I've read, I figure I wasted probably an entire day and who knows how many trees, but now I'm armed and ready.  

All I have to say is ... 2009 ... bring it on!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Do I Know You?

Christine, over at Smiles and Trials, has a great idea.  It's a game to see who knows who in the blogging world.

I'll play!

Here are my friends from the blog list on my side bar ...

First, I have to start with Kristen:
She is the one that got me started blogging.  We have been best friends since our freshman year in high school.  We were both band geeks and exceptionally PE challenged, especially on the tennis courts.  Therefore, we were instant friends!
And is evident by this photo ... neither one of us has changed in the last 22 years!  If you've seen me lately, and disagree, just don't tell me.  I like to live in my delusional world.  And I know Kristen will support my delusions, she's that good of a friend.

I met Susan and Shawn, gosh I think it's been well over 10 years ago, in an online scrapbook loop.  We all bonded over our mutual scrapbooking obsession and became friends.  Shawn even hosted a get-together at her house several years ago.  That was so much fun!  I think it's amazing we've managed to stay in touch all these years.

Don was a really close friend in high school.  We were "neighbors", which in country living means we lived about a mile apart.  We could visit each other by riding our ATCs down the orchard, across the ditch and through a few more orchards.  I have so many great memories of hanging out with Don, his good buddy Mike, and Mike's sister, Marla, who was one of my friends.  Sadly, I am no longer friends with Marla, and I don't think Don and Mike keep in touch anymore either.  But I recently found Don through Facebook and it's been great to reconnect.  I have tons of photos of Don from high school that I'm sure he's grateful I did NOT post. 

I met Robynn and Reginia through our home school group.

Reginia was so kind to me when I was new to the group.  She made me feel so comfortable.  I love her willingness to listen and her offerings of prayer.  She has been a wonderful example for me over the years.  

Robynn is such a cool gal.  She is the one in the room you gravitate towards because she always has something interesting to say.  Her blog has some great observations on life.  And she's funny!  Robynn and I also bonded over our love of raw milk.

Speaking of raw milk ... one of the first blogs I began following was The Complete Patient.  David writes about the happenings in the real food world.  Raw milk is an always-going subject on the table.  And my own personal friend and dairy man, Mark McAfee, is a frequent contributor and topic of conversation.  If you're not interested in the real food, raw milk movement, this blog will probably bore you.  But how many of you can claim to have your own personal dairy man?

I found Christine through my friend Kristen.  She is a wonderful mom with a blog documenting her life with a great hubby and 11 amazing kids!  I had the chance to meet Christine and her son, Dennis, in person just a couple of weeks ago.  Dennis had a surgery out at Children's Hospital and my son and I went to meet them.  Dennis is such a cutie.  And Christine is a great person.   I'm so glad we had a chance to meet.  And if you check out her blog, you'll want to be her friend too!

I haven't had a chance to meet, in person, the other bloggers on my list.  But I still feel like we're friends.  I've looked into their lives, I know what their houses, spouses and children look like, I've tried their recipes, I've entered some of their contests, and I've laughed and cried right along with them.  That's the cool part about blogging ... you really do get to know people.  

I look forward to "meeting" other bloggers out there soon and adding new "friends" to my list!

So ... who do you know?

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Day Photos ...

We had a great Christmas at our house.

I managed to get up early enough to make cinnamon rolls.  My parents were able to join us for brunch and opening presents which was really nice.  My husband and father-in-law insisted for the umpteenth year in a row that we include pickled herring in the Christmas breakfast menu.  It's some Swedish thing apparently.  Somehow they think this is a tradition.  But I don't argue.  I just cook some bacon to balance things out.  I wish I had some photos of breakfast to share with you, but pickled herring isn't exciting to look at.

My little one, however, was all about the excitement ...

My 3 year-old exclaimed ... this is my favorite thing! ... when she saw her new kitchen.

She immediately figured out how to turn on the oven and cook some pizza.

She also received a little digital camera, which is really nice since she's always trying to sneak mine away from me to take just one picture Mom!
How cute is the little chef's hat and apron?

My son is happy with his new RipStik.
If you can see outside behind him, it was too rainy to go out and ride it though.

My oldest is a huge Clue fan.  She was so excited to get the Harry Potter edition of the board game plus the movie Clue.  Which has several different endings I hear.  We managed to get in a game while I was preparing dinner.  Just for the record, I have never lost at the game of Clue.  So now at least my kids have a goal when they play ... 
beat Mom!

For our Christmas dinner I did a prime rib, with mashed potatoes and gravy.  I threw in a side dish of some assorted braised greens, just for fun.  Yes, I love greens ... chard, spinach, mustard ... I even used some beet tops.  It's super healthy.  I'm just passing along some nutritional FYI there.

 Then I made Pioneer Woman's Whiskey Glazed Carrots.  Let me just tell you this ... you HAVE to make these carrots!  Here's why ... 

I do not like cooked carrots.  I just don't.  I'm sorry.  
But ... we get carrots in our weekly produce box.  Like every week!  That's a lot of carrots.  I will juice them, but that's about it.  Well, after seeing Ree's recipe for these carrots ... I thought what the heck, it looked so easy and at least I'll have another side dish for Christmas dinner.  They were sooooooo yummy!  That glaze ... it just oozed delicious.  Seriously.  So needless to say, I will be excited to get carrots every week from now on.

I made a Christmas rum cake for dessert.  
Wait a minute ... whiskey glazed carrots, rum cake ... 
no wonder we had such a happy Christmas!

We ended the evening with a few hands of poker.  My son received a World Series of Poker set.  The kind where the chips click together with that nice chip-clicking sound when you play with them.

So there's a little glimpse into our apparently liquor-enhanced, friendly gambling, sort of Christmas celebration!  

There was more ... a lot more ...

 But look what my 2 girls end up playing with ...

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Candied Nuts and A Cool Thing-a-ma-jig

These are Penuche Nuts.

My mom has made these nuts for Christmas every year that I can remember.  Now I'm carrying on the tradition.  
She always used walnuts.  I was always using walnuts.  
This year I tried pecans.  
Equally as yummy!

These are so simple to make.  And if you wrap them up in a cellophane or a pretty tin they made excellent gifts.  This might not help you at this stage of the game, but you can file it away for next Christmas.  Or make them for New Year's.
You'll be glad you did!

Here's the amazingly easy recipe:

Penuche Nuts

1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 cups nuts

Cook the sugars and sour cream until the temp reads 246* on a candy thermometer.  Remove from heat, stir in vanilla and nuts.  Spread on waxed paper to cool.  Break up into chunks.


And here's another fun thing to do ...
This could be a great project during the remaining winter break when your kids are bored.

Make a Treasure Bottle!

You'll need a label-free, empty, clean and dry water or soda bottle.

Fill it with several "treasures" ...
we used buttons, beads, tiny toys, marbles, coins, shells ... 
and some star confetti ...
the possibilities are endless, as long as it fits into the bottle.

Can you see the Monopoly hotel and the green turtle?

Then fill the bottle with sand, leaving about an inch of empty space so you have some room to move things around.  Did you know you can get a 50 pound bag of sand at the hardware store for less than $5?  This totally made my day!

If you're worried about little ones removing the cap, you can hot glue it on.

Then hunt for the treasures inside the bottle.
You can make a game out of it.
This is so cute, and it's really a lot of fun.

Finally ...
Merry Christmas to all my blogging buddies.
Hope you create wonderful memories with your families this Christmas ...
Wishing you all many blessings.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Pop Pop Pop

So we went to hubby's office party last Saturday night.  It was quite an amazing evening.  I might share more details in a later post.

But for now, here was the gift I came home with ...

A new popcorn popper!  Now how many of you get a gift from your husband's boss?  I was quite surprised.  So today I decided to put it to use and make some caramel and nut popcorn.

Look how clean the inside of my oven is!  I hope hubby notices that.

Then I started thinking ... what do you give the boss who gave you a popcorn popper?  Um, some of that caramel corn of course!

I wish you could smell this!

Now I'm off to make Penuche Nuts.  Stay tuned ...

Monday, December 22, 2008

Wicked Good ...

I made these ...
My son said they are "wicked good!"

They're called Port Balls.
I found the recipe at Noble Pig.
If you haven't checked out this blog ... you must!
I have found so many great recipes there.
Thank you Cathy!

If I don't eat them all, I will wrap them up and give them away as a gift.

Tonight for dinner we're having Alton Brown's Christmas Soup, potato latkes and kugel.
The kugel recipe, once again, comes from Cathy over at Nobel Pig.
Did I mention how much I love that site?

We're also watching a Christmas movie tonight.  Haven't decided if it's going to be A Christmas StoryIt's a Wonderful Life, The Santa Clause, or A Christmas Carol.

What's your favorite Christmas movie?

Friday, December 19, 2008

Wake Up to This ...

Several posts back I talked about how I love my morning Latte.

And how I love it in this mug ...
I had it down to a science with the perfect amount of milk and sugar.  It was the perfect mug.  And then last Sunday hubby took it out of the dishwasher and the handle fell off.  
These things happen.  Oh well.  
So all week I've had to have my coffee in a Scooby-Doo cup.  As much I love good ol' Scooby, it just wasn't the same as my Salt Lake City mug.  

Well it just so happens that hubby had a business trip to Houston this week.  He had to change planes in Salt Lake City.  
And being the thoughtful hubby that he is ... he found another, almost identical ... mug for me.

This one has a logo on BOTH sides ...

"Honey, when I saw this mug I immediately thought of you!"

Gosh, I love that man!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Chocolaty Pretzel Thingies

These Chocolaty Pretzel Thingies are so yummy and so super easy to make.  
We made these a few Christmases ago and gave them out at gifts to all our neighbors.  
I think I found the recipe in Family Fun Magazine, but I can't really recall.  
Nevertheless, I think whoever thought of it is brilliant.

You can make them too!

Here are the ingredients:

You'll need some those square waffle-looking pretzels.  This brand calls them Snaps.
And some M&Ms.  Get all festive and pick the red and green ones.
Some Kisses or Hugs.  We used both.
I even threw in some Caramel Kisses.  They all work, they're all good.

First off ... unwrap all the Kisses.  This is where kids come in handy.

Just don't try and keep score of how many they unwrap vs how many they eat.  Because they turn the tables on you and start counting how many you're eating.  They think they're so clever.

Next ... line some baking sheets with foil (just in case you have some chocolate leaks, you won't have to wash the baking sheets later).

Cover the foil-lined baking sheets with pretzels.

Heat your oven to 175 degrees.

Put one Kiss on top of each pretzel square.  
Then ... put in the oven for about 5 to 8 minutes.  You want the Kisses to get nice and soft.  You'll know they're ready when they get shiny looking.

Take them out of the oven and immediately start pressing one M&M down into the middle of each Kiss.  The Kiss will squish all nicely down into the cracks of the pretzel.

I forgot to take a photo of the squishing process.  But I'm sure you can visualize it.

Then let them cool completely until the Kiss firms back up nicely.  You can stick them in the fridge for several minutes if you want to speed up the process.
Then pack them up all nice and pretty.  That is, if you haven't eaten the majority of them already.  I got some Chinese take-out containers and lined them with silver tissue paper.

Now you have a practically instant homemade holiday gift that anyone would be thrilled to receive.  Yum!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Dead Mouse

My son's pet mouse died.  This time last year his hamster died.  It's something about the holiday season that causes our rodents to die.

After the hamster died I gave in and let him get another "pet".  
Well, actually two.
Two Mice.

The one on the left is Ginger.  The one on the right is Liquorish.
Liquorish is the one that is no longer with us.

About 3 nights ago my husband noticed that Liquorish was getting sort of fat.  Poor little thing was struggling to run on her mouse wheel.  
But bless her heart, she was still trying.

Next day ... well you know.  These things happen.
My poor son still got very emotional about it.
It's hard to lose a pet.  Even a mouse.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Happy St. Lucia Day!

Every year on December 13 we celebrate St. Lucia Day.  My husband has some Swedish blood in his family.  Funny thing though, he didn't even know what St. Lucia Day was until I told him about it when we were first married.  

I'm all about starting traditions and being cultural.  Someday my kids will thank me for it.
I think.
I'd love to give you the history of the holiday.  But it's bath night for my 3-year old, and I haven't fed the dog, and I don't even have the lights on the Christmas tree yet, and I have 40 Christmas card envelopes to address, and my kitchen is a mess ... and well, I'm just tired.  So you can Google it if really want to know more.

But I will tell you that the holiday involves baking these Lucia buns.
I made 4 dozen this year.  
(minus the one in the middle that was my "tester" bun.  Yeah, I ate it.)
It's a yeast dough flavored with cardamom and shaped into an "S" and studded with raisins.
If you could walk into my house right now ... you'd trip over 3 pairs of shoes, a box of ornaments and a large plastic horse ... but you'd also smell these wonderful buns.  Heavenly!

Now ... I have to go do all that stuff I mentioned above and then polish off at least 2 dozen of these yummy buns.

Happy St. Lucia Day!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Family Christmas Card

Finally ... 
A few days ago I finished our Christmas card ... and placed the order ... they should be here by tomorrow.

I love it when I learn something new.  And my husband informed me that I could make a Christmas card right in my iPhoto program.  Who knew?  You just choose your photos and click 'em into the cute little boxes.  Write a little somethin' if you want to.  The inside of our card is a nice letter highlighting the last year.  And viola ... instant Christmas card!  Another click and they're ordered.  All I have to do is address some envelopes.  Next year I resolve to get this done in November though.

I love the digital age, don't you?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Dear Santa ...

You already know that I am blessed with everything I want.  I have a wonderful family, great friends, a comfortable house, a decent car, plenty of food on the table.  Really, I have all I need, and then some.

So what could I possibly have on my Christmas wish list?  I don't know Santa, this one is probably asking way too much.  I feel guilty and selfish even putting it out there.

But what I really want ... what I crave ... desire ... yearn for ...

One, just one ...
... complete, uninterrupted, satisfying, restorative ...

night of SLEEP!

(key word: uninterrupted!)

Seriously, it's been almost 4 years since I've had such a fulfilling experience.
(do the math, I have 3-year old who will be 4 in April, see what I'm saying?)

I would also like to be able to wake ON MY OWN!  No alarm, or hubby's shower and shaver and hair dryer.  No little voice saying, "mommy I need to go potty!"  No cat scratching at the door.  No dog whining in the hall.  No Von's grocery truck screaming down the street at an obnoxiously early hour.

One night of uninterrupted sleep with a morning of waking on my own.

There, that's my Christmas wish.

I would be tempted to also ask for a 5 minutes of uninterrupted bathroom time, but I know that's pushing it.  I'll save that for next Christmas. 

Monday, December 8, 2008

Things are Rosy

Hubby gave me these beautiful roses for my birthday.  

They are at that perfect moment of opening up ...

Now all I have is a simple point and shoot digital camera.  But I started playing around with some of the settings and was quite pleased with the results.

Aren't they gorgeous?

Friday, December 5, 2008

Friday Flashback ... Alive and Kicking

This is what my day was looking like ...

In case you're wondering ... it was a 3-year old's game of bowling on the kitchen table.  Involving a jar of popcorn, a head of lettuce, and an "oops, I forgot my bowl was full of yogurt!"

The above photo is the result.

The dog thought it was a great game!

I won't even tell you where all that yogurt landed.  But suffice it to say, I couldn't fit it all in the photo.  I spent a half an hour and an entire roll of paper towels to correct the mishap.
I also won't tell you about how the yogurt was seeping into the track of the window frame.  And how I also found some petrified fried rice in there too.  Obviously I'm not paying enough attention to cleaning my window sills.

And I also won't mention what happens to a bulldog's digestive system when they eat yogurt.  Let's just be thankful you don't have aroma-enhanced access to my blog!


But I did find something that cheered me up after the yogurt adventure.  I tend to get a little sentimental this time of year.  I pull out the photo albums.  I sort through the years of Christmas ornaments, all which have a story.  I do the "remember when ..." conversations with family and friends.

And nothing stirs up a memory quite like music.  Here's a blast from the past.  And here's a little story to go along with it.

My best friend, Kris, and I went to see Simple Minds in concert our senior year of high school.  I was hopelessly in love with the lead singer, Jim Kerr.  Truth be told, I still am, just a little bit.  Don't worry, my husband knows.  He's cool with it.  

So I think Kris and I concocted a story about how we were going to spend the night at her grandma's house, which we did.  But the part we neglected to tell our parents was that we were going to a concert.  

That was a big deal and oh so daring for us.  2 country girls venturing into the wild world of rock and roll.  Yeah, we lived on the edge.

That concert was awesome!  We were pretty close to the stage too.  I distinctly remember Jim making eye contact with me.  Several times.  I know Kris will back me up on that.  She's very good at feeding my delusions.  Isn't that what a good friend is for?  I think I was floating for weeks after that.

Anyhow ... I have YouTubed Simple Minds and watched all those old MTV videos again.  Sigh.  There's some great concert videos too.  It takes me right back.  And then there's some current videos ... like Simple Minds in concert in 2008!  Yes ... they're still ALIVE AND KICKING!  If you have time to waste, as I obviously do, go check out some fun video blasts from the past.

And tell me ... which band or singer from your past still makes you swoon?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

And the Winner is ...


I'm packing a box, let's see what's gonna be in it ...

A cute scrapbook, with some festive paper and stickers
A Fiestaware mug
Some Earl Grey tea
A box of See's Candy
Those cool Tri-Write Pencils
Fun Flip-Flops
A Year in Provence
DVD, Sense and Sensibility
(I know, it's not Pride and Prejudice, but it's really good too, Target was sold out of P&P)
A one-year subscription to Martha Stewart Living Magazine

So there ya go ... Hope you love it!