Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year's Eve

I am spending the evening with my 12-year-old niece and nephew so that my sister and her husband can go out and celebrate. We're doing some simple things that 'tweens' love to do - pizza, soda, and a chocolate fondue with fruit, graham crackers, angel food cake and marshmallows for dipping. (As you can see, Bailey was also very interested in the fondue - she was limited to just a couple pieces of banana without chocolate, however.) For the kids, it's all about staying up late and watching the New Year's Eve music specials, MTV, etc. For me, I'm just counting the minutes until midnight so I can down my glass of sparkling cider and go to bed! When did I get so old?

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Home for the holidays! This was the 1st Christmas that I've spent with my family in 20 years and it met nearly every expectation that I had - crazy, chaotic, disorganized, hectic, loud, long; just what I had been missing all of these years. Santa and all of his helpers really came through and after all the wrapping paper was shredded, I had made out like a bandit! I got a bunch of really cool stuff and my brother-in-law came through with 2 really great sweatshirts, of which I had been in desperate need. Bailey scored too - a new bed, handmade bandana, new 'babies', special treats; her pile was almost as big as mine - she really is a spoiled little dog. We spent Christmas Day down at my brother, Jim's house with his wife's family as well. Good food, excellent company, a little crowded at times, but fun.

Back to work tomorrow - ugh! The holidays are almost over and a new year is on it's way! What will 2008 bring?

Monday, December 24, 2007

Happy Holidays!

Warmest thoughts for a wonderful Christmas and a happy, healthy New Year!
“And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”
- Dr. Seuss

Friday, December 21, 2007

Legends of the fall...

Well, you knew that it was just a matter of time; days, weeks, maybe even a month or so. You knew I'd get cocky and let my guard down, didn't you? Well, you were right, and it happened yesterday morning. I was walking out to the car and NOT taking my usual, cautious 'baby steps'. Why should I? The temperatures have been a little warmer and everything is melting into a sloppy slush. Then, WHAM! My feet flipped up in front of me and I suddenly had a fantastic view of the sky. It was almost like a cartoon. I laid on the ground, laughing for a second, but then jumped up in a panic, sure that the entire world had seen me fall, including all of the really cute firemen across the street. (No one was around, thank goodness.) Apparently, underneath all of that slush is a miniature ice skating rink of my very own! Luckily, my first ice 'wipe out' did not result in any serious injuries other than a major butt bruise, which I am still nursing today. It was probably a good thing that I was caught so off guard - otherwise I would have tried to save myself and you know that would have resulted in some catastrophic injury! So, there you have it. I've gotten that first fall out of the way - let's hope that they are few and far between...

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Lazy Weekend

With more snow in the forecast, I ran around like a madwoman on Friday night, trying to get all of my errands done. I squeezed in some Christmas shopping and a much needed trip to the grocery store. I was prepared to be 'snowbound' all weekend!

Saturday started with laundry and some quick housecleaning to get it out of the way and move on to the big project for the day - making Grandma Pete's version of Pfeffernuesse - small, hard, round cookies that have been a family favorite since before I was born. (The name translates into pepper nuts in German, Danish and Dutch, describing their spicy blend of cinnamon, cloves and anise.) The process involves bringing the wet ingredients to a boil, then cooling it off before adding the spices and flour. The, you have to chill the dough for a couple more hours before rolling it out into ropes, cutting and baking them. I finished making the dough at about noon, started baking about 2:00 and finished right around 5:30, just as the snow was starting to fall. Mary and the kids showed up shortly after that to collect their batch - Mary seemed pretty excited that I had revived this holiday tradition. I watched a little TV, but went to bed early; I could hardly keep my eyes open.
Sunday started with a trip outside to clean off the car and move it around so that the driveway could get plowed. I fixed some coffee with my favorite peppermint-mocha creamer and set about doing an at-home-pedicure while Bailey napped. Mom stopped by to pick up her batch of cookies and the afternoon was spent on the couch, watching Pirates of the Caribbean III and eating popcorn. I couldn't have asked for a more relaxing weekend!
Grandma Pete's Peppernuts:
1 cup molasses
1 cup dark Karo syrup
1 cup vegetable shortening
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon (not quite) ground cloves
1 teaspoon (a little more) cinnamon
2 tablespoons ground anise
1 teaspoon baking soda dissolved in 1 T. vinegar
6 cups flour (more or less)
Heat 1st four ingredients to boiling point, then chill to cool. When cool, add spices, the soda dissolved in vinegar and finally the flour. Mix together to make a real stiff cookie dough. Chill. Take pieces of the dough and roll into rope lengths. Slice ropes into 1/2 inch thick "peppernut" pieces. Spread pieces on cookie sheets and bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Cool.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Winter Wonderland - HA!

Whoever coined the phrase "Winter Wonderland" obviously never had to drive in this crap! We've had two snowstorms now in the past four days, the first of which had snow mixed with sleet and freezing rain, causing incredibly dangerous road conditions. The driving was treacherous; streets were simply sheets of ice! I white-knuckled it all the way home from work, remembering how much I loved Arizona, LOL.

Last night's snow brought back fonder winter memories - light, fluffy powder, about 4" in all, fell until the early hours. First thing this morning, I took Bailey out to play and she bounced all over the place, pawing at the snow and shoving her little face down into it. I think she truly enjoyed this new experience! After about 20 minutes of running around the yard and jumping in and out of snowdrifts, I was ready to come in but she wasn't (of course). Like always, she changed her mind when I played the 'treat card'. We came in and dried off. She's settled down for a nap now and I'm off to go dig my car out!