Saturday, December 25, 2010

{Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree}

While sitting in your home eating with friends and family and spending time together this holiday, this song comes to mind. I have a few Christmas songs that I absolutely love and this is one of them. I remember it was in the movie "Home Alone" and that might be where it is recently famous for. Enjoy!

Another great song, and this one is probably my favorite of all time. Not sure why. I remember when I was younger watching the "Very Brady Christmas" almost every year. Where the dad gets stuck in the mine on Christmas eve. This is the song that played and they all sang it and then everyone was rescued. Not sure why, but this has stuck with me ever since. It has some sort of deep meaning, I have yet to understand why. This video is one someone put together with lights on a house, but the band, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, is amazing. I was able to finally see them in person in November here in Phoenix, and wow was it great live!

Christmas photos from us to follow :)

Friday, December 24, 2010

Party like its 1993

Sitting and remembering great memories with family....think back to Christmas 1993.

I was 8 years old and my brother was 5. If I remember right what our plans were for Christmas, on Christmas eve we were headed over to Aunt Sandi & Uncle Gary's house where Grandma and Grandpa would meet us over there too. We would get there and I would find Alexa and we would play and Jimmy would head off with D'anne to roam around the house. Before long it was dinner time and the 4 of us kids would sit at the kid's table and eat. Not to worry, my food still didn't touch on the plate then. I remember hearing all the adults out in the other room talking and laughing at the dinner table as us kids talked about what we thought was in those presents. Dinner would be over and it was goodie time. We grabbed a few treats and there even might have been Aunt Sandi's Rum cake...mmmm...I want to try to make that someday. Soon it would be time to open gifts. This has long been a tradition in my mom's side of the family, probably long before I was around, the way the gifts are to be opened. We start youngest to oldest and open them one at a time, not forgetting to read the card who it's from. I think this made the whole process a lot of fun. You really focused on who got what from who. There were a few years when Uncle Chuck & Aunt Tracy came out from Texas, but we always would get a phone call from them or we would call them as soon as we were finished to thank them and tell them what we got.

Christmas Day was usually spent half at my Dad's house, we would go over Christmas eve and stay the night, and then later that morning we would go back to Mom's house and see what Santa brought us there. We would have another meal with Grams & Gramps and just enjoy the day together.

Now that I'm married and have a whole other family to think about, things get a bit more complicated. But I love that. I love having a big family and lots of people to see over the holidays. Yes, it can get complicated trying to organize with 15 different people but being able to see everyone is so worth it. 

I wish I had some pictures from way back then...

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Time Goodies & Sugar Rush

I absolutely love making cookies at Christmas time. I can remember lots of years baking with my mom, putting all those wonderful cookies that I never remember until this time of year into tins with foil hiding them away. It's funny how talking about a snickerdoodle cookie any other time of the year makes me draw a blank as to what they taste like, but the minute we make them in December I recall exactly how they taste--and I love them!

The last few years I've been able to bake with my sister (in law, but she's just sister to me!) Steph and we've made a list of all the goodies we want to make and make a day of it. I think that will be a new tradition for us...except this year since she's in CO and I'm in AZ. Baking from a distance though, right?!

I look up to my mom and grandma when baking, since most of my recipes come from these two lovely baker ladies. Just last night I was making peanut butter fudge, having never made fudge before in my life, I called them and asked some questions. I pretended that the whole time I was baking they were in the kitchen with me, helping me taste test. This year I made some goodies all by myself, way to go! I made fudge, first timer, some haystacks that Steph and I made last year, some new Swedish Spritz cookies with the recipe from Taste of Home but I made a huge twist on it (as you could usually guess), and some chocolate chip blondies. Can you feel the weight gain yet?! I might have to dish some of these out so the hubster and I don't gain 50 lbs from all the sugar.

Chocolate Chip Blondies

Haystacks or Butterscotchie's--Next time I'll use more chow mein noodles and not so many marshmellows.

These started to not work using the cookie press, but I switched to the "frosting" setting. So I made my own shapes!

Swedish Spritz Cookies--Vanilla-Maple flavored shortbread cookie!

Peanut Butter Fudge--with a handfull of chocolate chips thrown in to give it a slight hint of chocolate!
 I had a blast baking and cooking all this up. There is one more thing I want to make and will likely make it tomorrow on Christmas eve, since I got that day off, woot! Josh and I will spend our Christmas just the two of us this year. We were both lucky enough to get Christmas eve off so we're going to spend the day together. The gifts under our tree are growing and Lucy even has her stocking full. She can't wait to open her gift from Grandma!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Monday Meatloaf & Christmas Decor

It is really hard to believe it will be Christmas in just 5 short days when it has been gorgeous outside here lately. I mean really gorgeous. 75 degrees gorgeous. Flip flop weather gorgeous and blues skies. Yep, this is winter in Arizona. While I do miss having snow on the ground in December and seeing my breath outside in the cool crisp air and the silence it brings with a crunch on the ground as the snow compacts beneath your shoes, wearing flip flops and capri's and being able to go swim in December is also a nice choice to have.

Decorating our condo has made it feel more like Christmas for us here. We got our tree up and decorated and some things around the house to look like the holidays. I've also made a few cookies and treats. It will just be Josh and I this year for Christmas eve. We both were lucky to get Christmas eve off to spend together, but I will be back at work on Christmas Day.

Some pictures of our decorating. And some of my baking today. I'll share more when I'm done baking so I can share all the goodness I've been whipping up this week.

Now onto the Meatloaf I made tonight. Yum! I've never made a meatloaf before, thought I better give it a go and try it out. It really is a must-have in our house. Both Josh and I grew up having some great homemade dishes by our mom's and we can both remember having some good meatloaf. Nothing makes it feel like home like having some good meatloaf. I didn't have a recipe for this, so I looked a few up and this one was so easy and had great flavor!

Monday Meatloaf

1 1/2 lbs ground beef (I used a 2 lb chunk I had)

1 cup cracker crumb ( I used italian bread crumbs)
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 large egg, beaten
1 medium onion, chopped (As most always, I use half the onion)
1/2 cup tomato sauce
3/4 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup water
2 tablespoons mustard
2 tablespoons vinegar
In a large bowl combine all ingredients (not the topping) and form into a loaf shape. I used a cookie sheet and put it on that. I made it more flat than tall that way it would bake all the way through. It cooked and was falling apart, so great! Cook in 350 degrees for 1 hour 15 minutes. Before putting in the oven combines all the topping ingredients and drizzle over the top. I only used about half to top with, then towards the end of baking I used more to drizzle on top. It turned out great and we have left overs!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Blog Award

It looks like my blog won an award, sweet! My friend Amy at Eating with My Mouth Open kindly gave me the Stylish Blogger Award. I wouldn't have guessed stylish to be a descriptor for my blog, but I greatly appreciate it! Amy is such a sweetheart and she's always cooking up something delish.

To accept this award, there are 4 rules:
1. Thank the person who gave you the award.
2. Share seven things about yourself.
3. Pass the award on to bloggers you have recently discovered and who you think are fantastic.
4. Contact the bloggers you picked and let them know about the award.

So here are my seven things:

1. I look at the weather daily. Plus it's my job!
2. I love surprises.
3. I signed my marriage license wrong when I got married.
4. I could eat pasta every day for the rest of my life. I'm addicted.
5. I wear flip flops year round, and I grew up in Colorado.
6. I can do a pretty good Irish accent.
7. I like to go grocery shopping.

Just some random facts about me :)

And now to pass this lovely award on to some other fav blogs I like to read almost daily. In no particular order:

Ria at Life as a Wife!
Laura at word for word
Jessie at I'm a Wife Now?

{Red Toe Nails & Harvey Wallbanger}

I learned last week how to make a Harvey Wallbanger, how and by who my Grandma and Grandpa met before they got married, only some of the many places Grams lived, that she used to paint her toe nails red in the 1940's and I was able to bring back some great memories, that my Grandpa is a scrooge at Christmas time and hates all decorations, I learned where I get my "keep-everything" trait from.

I learned that it is never too late to tell someone everything you've always wanted to say, never a bad time to ask questions about family history, the past, and how things came about. Because "you never know".

Life doesn't wait for you to lose weight, for you to save up enough money, for you to get the perfect job, for you to be in a relationship, be done with school  or have time off work. Life happens. Simply put. And sometimes life sucks, that is part of life. Life has so many journey's and adventures, and sadly death is a part of life. I personally hate to think about death, whether talking about myself, my friends or family, I hate it. I am pretty emotional when it comes to those things, but I do understand it is a part of life. I have a tendency to focus on the more happy parts and usually do something to take my mind off of things: like painting toe nails red.

A family is as strong as it's members. I am lucky to have many people who I consider family, along with the blood related ones. My definition of family are people who come together to help a person in need, is there through thick and thin, can joke and have a good time together, and would do almost anything for each other. While that may be a slightly different version of family, its one that comes to mind right now. I'm thankful to have many different families: parents, grandparents, in-laws, aunts & uncles, cousins, siblings, work family, friends

Saying "goodbye" to me is something I can't and won't do. I believe that by saying goodbye it means I won't see you again. When I moved from Colorado to Arizona I didn't tell anyone goodbye, instead I said my "see you laters" and "talk to you soon". And I did see people later and did talk to them again. Saying goodbye to me means something deeper than just leaving for vacation or moving or hanging up the phone. Especially when someone is ill or sick and possibly that next "see you later" or "goodbye" might be the last. Again, with the tears and emotion.

I have such a wonderul Grams. She has such a great sense of humor. To this day she still spells out bad words in front of me, and I don't dare say any bad words in front of her, ever. I don't think I've ever heard her actually say a bad word, at least not in front of me.

Time is short. Go get a tattoo. Go out to eat more often. Go workout. Go to a movie. Go travel to a place you've never been for longer than you should. Take a sick day at work to just lounge around the house and be lazy. Accept that job offer or promotion. Spend more time with one person than little time with lots of people. Call a friend just to talk. Life happens when you don't look around. I'm thankful every day for having a day to wake up to and for the people in my life. Every single one of you.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Munchkin Adventure

I realize this post is bad! Finally had some time to get caught up...

Well our weekend after Thanksgiving was our second round of Thanksgiving having Josh's parents coming to visit us. Our first Thanksgiving was back on Halloween when my parents came.

What we didn't know was that we had another visitor coming along. I came home from work that day and in walked Josh, his dad AND Kayden (our nephew, Steph's son). Oh my gosh I nearly cried with tears of joy as I was so excited to see him! We both had no idea. That was Kayden's first real airplane ride, that he will remember. We flew with him when he was only2 weeks old but he doesn't remember that.

We spent the weekend hanging out, sleeping in the tent in the living room, riding the light rail train to downtown Phoenix and going out to eat. I'm sure he had a blast and so did we. The joke the whole weekend was from comedian Jeff Dunham's skit where he call's Jeff "Jeff-fa-fa". So we called each other Jeff-fa-fa all weekend. I told Kayden to call his mom that when he got home, and he did :) 

When Kayden first got there he wanted to be right by his Auntie Char & Uncle Joshy's side the entire time. We played with anything and everything in sight and chased Lucy around the house. Lucy had a great time with him, not too overwhelmed like I thought she would be :) We miss you Kayden and can't wait for you to bring your mommy & daddy back with you!

Holding Hands

I'm back and getting back on track. Haven't had much time lately with work and family/personal stuff to blog or be on here, but I'm slowly coming back and just in time for the holidays too.

Josh and I have had a couple great nights spending time together, including a date night last night which we went to a movie. We saw TRON in 3D, it came out last night. Great movie! Josh wanted to see it and I told him I'd go with him, I always do anyways, and man was it good. I am not a huge fan of the 3D movies, some of them are too much 3D-ness but this was great. Just the right amount. Some parts were normal 2D and then flying things were in 3D so it really was like it was coming out at you. We made dinner together the last couple nights and have just enjoyed each other quite a bit, talking, holding hands, staying up too late, which isn't a good thing since we are both up at 3:30a-4a everyday (for him everyday, for me it changes weekly)!

While I was out of town last week I haven't done much cooking or taking any pictures, so I'll be planning some great meals coming up! I do need to start taking some more pictures. I'm working on training for a half marathon in February, but having had a change of plans last week, I'm way off track. Gotta get back in gear! Work has kept me busy. Training, training, training. Almost getting my "training wheels" off and "flying solo" (pun intended) for the aviation forecaster desk. Things are getting a bit more easy and I'm getting the hang of things, learning more of the "norm" of Arizona's weather. I can't believe it's almost been a year since we moved, almost.

Lucy is doing good, being as crazy as ever. She really is like a puppy though. She follows me around everywhere I go, everywhere, including the shower. That is right, the shower. She sits on the counter in the bathroom as I'm getting ready in the morning, I even share the sink with her when I brush my teeth, since she has to drink out of the faucet. She loves sleeping under the Christmas tree back in the corner. Pictures to come of our tree as well.

Josh has been working but having some shorter days, yay! The cooler weather is nicer to work outside in; 75 degrees compared to 110! He's looking forward to heading up to the high country soon to get some snow action on: snowshoe, snow camp, etc.

It worked out so we will get to spend Christmas Eve evening and Christmas Morning together, before I go to work on Christmas Day. The last 2 years we've both worked on Christmas, and this year we won't have any family down here with us and we won't be going home for Christmas so we'll have to make our own Christmas together, which sounds good to me!

I suppose that is enough updates for now. I promise I'll get better with some pictures and be posting soon! Happy weekend all!

Monday, December 13, 2010 back later

I've been gone for a while from the blogger world, but I promise to be back soon! Thank you for your thoughts and prayers and support.

Have a wonderful week to you all!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Empty Kitchen

Well not completely :) I just haven't been cooking much lately, and not much that is exciting either. Also, haven't taken any pictures. Ah, life. That is just it, life. Life has been getting in the way, geez. I've been working a lot and working on a lot. We've had visitors this month and its been fun but I need to get things back on track. Oh and I'm training to run a half marathon in February. I'm pretty excited about that and I'm going to do my best at training for it. By no means am I going to compete for a great time, just to finish and hopefully run the entire thing without walking or minimal walking is my goal right now. 

With all of that said, I will work on cooking up some more goodness and awesomeness, edible that is, and get back on track. Thanks for checking in and reading about all the craziness. Have a great weekend all! 
not my kitchen, though i wish! googled it

Surfing, Reading & Jammin'

First off, Happy Weekend! Here's a great song that I quote often. So for your reading pleasure please tune in!

A while back I posted about going vegetarian for a week. That was a success and pretty simple for this chick. You see, I've never been a huge meat person. Ok, I take that back, when I was little I loved bologna and that was about the extent of my "meat", if you can call bologna meat, ha! 

Anyway, not that I don't like it, cause I love a good hamburger and some great grilled chicken. But when I cook, its usually not the center point of my dish or the first thing that comes to mind to focus the meal on. So going quasi-vegetarian is and always has been pretty simple for me. And since I have dairy problems, lactose intolerant, I've been in search of a way to eat and live like all you milk-drinking, ice cream-splurging, cheese-lovers. Personally I love ice cream and cheese and it kills me not to eat them, though I still splurge at times and pay for it later, let me tell you, no fun!

So while still in search, I've found a few things that are winners. For one, dairy free vegan butter: Earth Balance. What more can I say, its dairy free and pretty healthy for you as far as butter goes so I can use it while cooking. I'm not a butter person at all so I'll leave it there.

Soy milk. Not as bad as some people may think, though it may take an acquired taste. I've tried some organic brands and local store brands ( I like Fresh & Easy's brand) and have found some I don't like. I like the original flavor and not the vanilla. Word of advice: when cooking a meal that calls for a lot of milk, like biscuits and gravy, using soy milk will drastically change the flavor. While not bad, just a different flavor.

This is all I have found as far as dairy-free foods. I'm still looking for cheese, since I love cheese, to make some good old mac and cheese and just use it every day. I have found frozen yogurt instead of ice cream, but not all the flavors are there. 

pasta just sounds good right now! googled it, not my picture

Does anyone have any suggestions?

3 Layer Cheese Dip & Dairy Free

I found this recipe on another blog over here and was pretty excited to try it. While I was shopping for other items to make Thanksgiving last weekend I was looking really hard to find dairy free items that I could use in my cooking. I was pretty stoked when I came across dairy-free butter! I didn't use that in this recipe but was still excited to find it!

I thought this cheese dip would be a great idea for an appetizer at a party or holiday, I just made too much in my case!

8 oz cream cheese ( I used dairy free kind and didn't taste any different)
8 oz goat cheese (same thing)
1-2 garlic cloves smashed and made into a paste (I pressed the garlic clove through a garlic press and added a dab of olive oil)
1/2 cup basil pesto (also found dairy free kind in the store, or you can make your own)
1/3 cup sun dried tomato paste ( I used sun dried tomato pesto that I found!)

image found from other blog

In a large bowl combine goat cheese and cream cheese and mix together. FYI: Don't use a mixer, it will get stuck in the mixers and be useless. I used a spatula. Divide mixture evenly into 3 separate bowls. To one bowl add garlic paste and mix. To another add pesto and mix. To another add tomato paste/pesto and mix. In a taller, narrower bowl line with a damp cheese cloth towel and put in the tomato paste cheese mix, followed by the garlic cheese mix and top it off with the pesto cheese mix making sure to smooth out each layer before adding the next. Top with the rest/extra cloth and cover bowl with plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 2 hours, I did mine over night to get it ready early. Take it out and plop it onto a plate with some crackers! Yum!!

For mine I used a wider bowl so my layers weren't as pretty and my garlic layer was kind of lost in the appearance but tasted just as wonderful! Also my tomato pesto, instead of paste, was a bit darker and the basil pesto I used was a bit darker, otherwise mine looked like the picture. The goat cheese really give it some nice creamy flavor. Sweetness!!! It's dairy free!!