Sunday, December 28, 2008

Snow, Snow, Snow






















Saturday, December 27, 2008

Preventing Slips, Trips and Falls

I plan to post more snow and Christmas pictures, but in the meantime, I had to get this one up. It cracks me up every time. The snow this year had layers of snow, ice, snow, ice - which made it very difficult for all of us to walk across (including our furry friends).

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Fav Holiday Recipes: Autumn Punch & Cranberry Bliss Bars

Here are two often-requested and well-loved recipes you might like to try this holiday. The first is from my friend, Jessica. She served this punch at a recent party here and it was a huge hit. I have to tell you, I have NEVER enjoyed anything attributed to wine, but I really enjoyed this! It is called Autumn Punch, but we won't tell if you want to call it Christmas Punch or New Year's Punch or... Enjoy!

Autumn Punch

Prep: 20 minutes
Chill: 4 hours

2 tsp. whole cloves (ground cloves OK too or just put whole cloves in directly and strain them)
½ of a vanilla bean, split lengthwise (or 1 tsp. of vanilla extract instead)
1 64 –oz. bottle apple-cranberry juice (you can also use plain apple juice)
4 medium purple and/or green plums, pitted and sliced (or apples or pears)
1 750 – ml bottle Gewurztraminer or other fruity wine

Place cloves and vanilla bean in center of a 6-in square of cheesecloth. Bring corners of cloth together; tie closed with clean string. Pour apple-cranberry juice into a large container or pitcher. Add plums and spice bag. Cover and chill for 4 to 24 hours. (For easy preparation just add a tsp of vanilla and ground cloves to the mix). Remove and discard cheesecloth bag. Stir in Gewurztraminer. Serve beverage and plum slices over ice. (Or omit the ice and heat the juice mixture and wine in a 4-quart Dutch oven until hot. Serve in heat proof mugs.)


* * *

This next recipe is adapted from a holiday favorite served at our favorite coffeehouse that ends in "Bucks". Many of you have already requested this recipe of me and taken one look at it and said, "Never mind, can I just eat the ones you make?" The answer is - SURE! I will not stop making them for all of you, but wanted to share the recipe if you wanted to give them a whirl.

Cranberry Bliss Bars

Cookie/Cake Bottom:

1 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cups light brown sugar, packed
3 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup diced dried cranberries (Craisins work just fine!)
6 ounces white chocolate, cut into chunks (I use chips)

Frosting:

4 ounces cream cheese, softened (I use light cream cheese/neufchatel)
3 cups powdered sugar
4 Teaspoons fresh lemon juice (about one regular sized lemon)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup diced dried cranberries

Drizzled Icing (Optional):

(This is to get the __Bucks full effect. I omit this step because it is more time consuming and I think it makes them too sweet).

1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk
2 teaspoons vegetable shortening

Makes 16 servings - 1 hour 20 minutes / 40 mins prep
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.


Make cake bottom by beating butter and brown sugar together with an electric mixer until smooth. Add eggs, vanilla, ginger, and salt and beat well. Gradually mix in flour until smooth.
Mix 3/4 cup diced dried cranberries and white chocolate into the batter by hand. Pour batter into a well-greased 9x13-inch baking pan. Use a spatula to spread the batter evenly across the pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until cake is light brown on the edges. (Watch it in the oven - you do not want to over-bake! This was my mistake the first time making this recipe). Allow cake to cool.

Make frosting by combining softened cream cheese, 3 cups powdered sugar, lemon juice and vanilla extract in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until smooth. When the cake has cooled, use a spatula to spread frosting over the top of the cake. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of diced cranberries over the frosting on the cake.

(Optional Icing Step): Whisk together 1/2 cup powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon milk, and shortening. Drizzle icing over the cranberries in a sweeping motion or use a pastry bag with a fine tip to drizzle frosting across the top of the cake.

Allow cake to sit for several hours (I stick in fridge until entirely cool), then slice the cake lengthwise (the long way) through the middle. Slice the cake across the width three times making a total of eight rectangular slices. Slice each of those rectangles diagonally creating 16 triangular slices.

Serve and watch your friends and families scarf these babies up!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Libster

So, I found these lighted reindeer/santa hat antlers at PetSmart and just couldn't resist. I attempted to pose Libby in front of the Christmas tree, but she kept turning around and looking under the tree.

Then, I found out why!




Wilson is getting braver and braver!









These pictures are just because. Just because she is too darn cute to stop taking pictures of.

And because she has been so good! We went for a walk tonight she did SO WELL on the leash! And - no accidents in the house!











Oh, and I finally decorated the Christmas tree. Thus, all the needles you see on the carpet in all the puppy pics!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Our Christmas Present

I did it. I'm in the Christmas spirit now... Here are the lights Bill put up. Aren't they lovely?

It does help to come home to these every day. And look - we even got snow!

Then, we went to look at these. Can you believe it?

We felt it was time to get a dog now while we still have Annie - so she can teach her good doggie lessons. So, we just went to look (yeah right). Ten puppies! Can you even stand it?

Bill picked his girl - they called her Cici. They said she was very sweet and the most athletic.

I was learning about how to give shots... But, I think I'll find a friend willing to help. Neither Bill or I think we can do it!

We stopped at Lynn's house on the way home. Doesn't she look cute posing by her tree?

Her name is Libby. This was after bath - which she did NOT like by the way.
Annie already showing her the ropes on going outside to "potty". Good thing these pups were used to being outside. Training a puppy when there is snow on the ground is not exactly what I had in mind.

Molli brought the kids by when she heard the news. She just told them they were coming to Uncle Bill's and Aunt Courtney's to see something - they were so excited to find out what the surprise was. But, I think Maggie was a little disappointed when she was leaving empty-handed - she kept saying, "But, where's my present?" Tanner just kept saying, "But, where did you get the puppy?" and "I didn't see this dog the last time I was here."
Libby slept in the crate last night in the family room and it was a looooong night of puppy yelps and cries. Oh my goodness. We think we'll put the kennel in the bonus room tonight instead - hopefully making it a little easier to sleep.
So far, she's been a good girl. No accidents and she is pretty mellow. Please God, let this continue! More to come...

Sunday, December 7, 2008

NKOTB

My friend Heather and I reunited to do something we hadn't done in TWENTY YEARS! It just felt fun to say that! We're getting old. And before I tell you what (if you don't know what the headline means) you are not allowed to say, "Why did you do that?" You think I haven't heard that before!
At 14 years old, Heather and I were IN LOVE with Donnie, Dannie, Joey, Jordan, Jonathon... Yes, the New Kids on the Block or just NKOTB. I had remembered what huge fans we were and that we had went to their concert. She reminded me - we went to THREE of their concerts. She said my Mom took us to every single one of them.
So, NKOTB reunited and we went to see them as our own "reunion" of sorts. We expected to laugh and reminisce, but weren't expecting to enjoy ourselves as much as we did. They still had all the same dance moves to their old songs - and we just laughed and screamed with delight watching them! It is funny how you think you forget things like song lyrics from so long ago, but wow - how they come back to you and suddenly you feel like a kid again. We sang our hearts out and had a great time.

We were touched remembering Mom too - she was so great about taking us to those concerts and I know she was with us that night too. We were bummed we didn't dress up with side ponytails and flourescent legwarmers like many other gals did. That was a crack-up. So many women were there - groups of girls from all over the place re-living old memories just like us.


Oh, don't tell our husbands, but we thought our guys were still pretty cute. She always liked Jordan and I was a sucker for Joey. Oh, to be fourteen again.

If you were a fan, here is a little Please Don't Go Girl with my fav - little Joey. Oh, and Happy Birthday, Heather! You'll always be my BFF!


Oly Pioneer Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving this year was pretty quiet. It was just Bill and me, Sue and Scott (until they had to leave because Scott was sick), Corey, Keri & Carson and Tom, Molli, Tanner & Maggie.

I did almost all of my recipes from The Pioneer Woman. Have you been to her site? I adore her! She has great recipes that are easy to print out, but on her site has step-by-step instructions with photos for you to refer to if you have trouble. We had the Roasted Thanksgiving Turkey, Delicious, Creamy Mashed Potatoes, Whiskey Glazed Carrots, and the Scrumptious Caramel Apple Pie - among other things.

Here is Bill carving the turkey...
Gathered round "THE TABLE". Note who is "under" the table. Can you blame her?

The aftermath in the kitchen. Bill did great on clean-up!

Ugh... I had to take pictures. Our kitchen was such a mess!

Toys everywhere - the kids had fun!


Mr. Carson - he is getting so big! Tanner and Maggie were excited "Baby Carson" (as they call him) can walk now!
Magster - with her new haircut she did all by herself!

and Mr. Tanner.
Besides getting sick and being so stuffed up I couldn't smell anything - it all turned out really well and I think everyone had a good time. We certainly have a lot to be thankful for and it was good to spend time with everyone who came.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Only 20 More Days

I've been negligent of creating any new posts lately. Actually, I've been negligent about doing a lot of things.


I've gotten sick twice in November - like you think you are better and a week later - BAM! I think I've pretty much rounded the bend now, just a bit of annoying hacking.


Work has been very intense. I don't even have to tell you why - you know what I do for a living.


Family stuff has been difficult and stressful. I'll leave it at that.


My friend's husband's passing away - that has been tough. That was my first time seeing a military service with honors - Taps and the 21-gun salute is enough to shake anyone up.


I've tried to just bury my head in the sand a bit to deal with all of it. It is working for now. But, it is Christmas! Where have I been? I'm normally knee-deep in the flurry of the holiday by now. I've bought like one gift. We have our outdoor lights up (thanks, Bill), but still no decorations and certainly no tree. Ugh.


I'm going to get with it here soon. This post is to hold myself accountable. I hereby swear to get into the holiday spirit! Amen.

And here is just something funny. Wilson is incredibly obsessed with mealtimes. Here is the OCD cat in action.
video

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