Saturday, December 29, 2007

Recipes

The oatmeal cake was good, even though it looked so sad (so that's a good thing).

I cooked for New Year's today - Fantasy Fudge and Sausage Cheese Dip. The cheese dip is a new recipe that I got from a lady at Ray's work. It is REALLY yummy, I think.

One more recipe I tried this week was Potato-Leek Soup, which we really enjoyed. Ray doesn't like cream soups, so has never liked Cream of Potato (which I love), but this variation he doesn't mind. It is a nice change and I offer a suggestion to liven it up (the book has like 4, but most I don't think sound good).

Boston's Big Dig FINISHED

I never thought this would happen - the "Big Dig" is finally finished! It started in 1959!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas Cooking

Ray and I both did some of the Christmas cooking.

Me cooking breakfast (and don't I look pregnant....).


Ray cooking dinner (I had already did most of the prep work, but he grilled the steaks and potatoes). I made rolls yesterday (and the cake we are going to try in a bit) and just threw a salad together to go with this. We went for easy this year.

Christmas Present

I'm quite proud of this one...I found Ray a Wright Brothers tie. He'll be the hit of the airport! Actually, Ray had seen one at a museum awhile ago, but it was outrageous (and ties aren't normally cheap, but this was above ridiculous) so he didn't buy it. I found the same one (or very close) online for the price of a regular tie!

Olga's Christmas

Olga playing in the paper - I figure this will be Adam next year!
Olga got a new catnip mouse...and oh, was she STONED! I had wrapped it, so she could try to figure it out, but I forgot and left out an old catnip mouse...she was confused between the two of them! So Ray opened it and got it out for her and then she batty for it.

Christmas Eve

After Mass, Ray and I came home and just vegged for the night (as you can see, so did the cat).
Me cross stitching
Ray putting together little men

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Mass

Ray and I went to Christmas Eve mass tonight and are planning to stay home all day tomorrow. I'm making a big breakfast and then we are doing steaks for dinner. That way, Ray gets to help cook as well. Anyway, I was sitting at Mass and thinking that next year, Adam will be with us and he'll probably be WALKING. It is just shocking to think how fast he'll grow from the little baby who is currently making my side hurt from his kicking to rearrange my organs. Kind of made me sad inside.

Ornament 2007

Finally finished my cross stitch Christmas tree ornament for this year. Came out nice though.

Sad Cake

I made an oatmeal cake for tomorrow, but it decided it would only come out of the pan in pieces...very sad looking cake. But hopefully it will taste nice. I haven't put the recipe on my website yet...have to see if it is any good, but here it is:

My Best Oatmeal Cake
from Cooking for 2 (I wanted a smaller recipe since it is just Ray and me for dinner)

1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
3/4 cup boiling water
1/4 cup shortening
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
2/3 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
confectioner's sugar (optional...I didn't use it because my cake was too sad)

Put oats in boiling water and let sit for 20 minutes.

Cream shortening and sugars. Add oat mixture and egg and mix well. Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; add to creamed mixture and beat until combined.

Pour into 8 inch fluted tube pan (I used a bundt pan), coated with cooking spray (and hope this works...didn't for me!). Bake at 350 for 22-27 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 15 minutes (and I DID this) before putting on a wire rack to cool completely. Dust with sugar if you want.

Makes 6 servings.

NO SNOW...SO SAD

We might get some yet...I keep hoping!

New Shelf

I found this shelf at Lowe's...will help keep my lids and stuff in order. Ray installed it for me today.

Adam's Crib

We set up Adam's crib yesterday and rearranged our room. He's going to start there until he is moreorless sleeping through the night before we move him upstairs. It is more for my convenience than anything. Once he is sleeping about 1/2 way through the night we'll move him upstairs to his own room and just use monitors.


Ray setting up the crib
Me also...I helped! (Held what Ray said to hold and screwed in things as told)
Crib all pretty with Winnie-the-Pooh sheets
Our mobile...oh, yes, I found AIRPLANES for Ray.

Crib with mobile and that end of the room all set up (my rocking chair for middle of the night feedings adn there is a little set of drawers by it with a low lamp).

Final approval - Olga checking it out. We are getting a crib tent, which is just mesh and will keep Olga out so we don't have to worry about her trying to sleep with Adam (she probably wouldn't, but this way we don't have to worry about it at all).

What's different about our cat?

Oh, yes...she decided to divest herself of her collar! She'll have to be collared again after Christmas, but until we get out to buy a new flea collar, she is going naked and is quite proud of herself.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Oldest US WWI vet dies

The oldest US veteran of WWI died yesterday. This leaves only two US WWI veterans. Now I'm not a big fan of Wikipedia, but it says there are 20 (so now 19) veterans left world-wide, which is probably fairly close.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Spring Courses Done!

I just finished editing all my courses for spring! YEAH!!! While I can roll over all my courses so I don't have to build them from scratch, I always have to check all the links, update any readings I want to changes, fix dates, etc. For the most part, it is just tedium, but tedium that must be endured. But I am all ready spring - even have a cheat sheet for Ray in case he has to post a note for me that I went into labor so the students will know not to expect to hear from me for a day or two. As long as I don't just drop into labor and start really close together (like Ray's motehr did), I'll probably have enough time to do it myself...or at least sit back and tell Ray what to do. But I feel good that the classes are finally done! I meant to have them done before my parents got here at Thanksgiving, but then got sidetracked during all that and just got back to them a few days ago and then, of course, I had to figure out where I left off! But it is DONE!!!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Freezing Pork Chops

I tried a recipe for sweet barbecused pork chops awhile ago. It turned out really well and Ray just loved it, so I made it again this week, this time making extra to freeze as directed by the instructions (I'm trying to get lots in the freezer before I have this baby). Last time I just made two in case we didn't like them. One cavaet here on freezing them, though...for some reason, I got it into my head to freeze them in Ziplocs....don't do that! Use regular tupperware...why, you ask? With the sauce, getting them into baggies is a HUGE MESS.

Kitty Stories

Ray called yesterday to say that he saw a cat walking around the bed a truck on the highway! I guess the cat was safe, under the wind and all, but still...strange!

Now my cat....Ray was out of town last night and I had to set the alarm to meet with a student. The alarm is on Ray's side of the bed, so I just got in there last night - seemed easy enough. Enter my cat. So Olga stares at me for awhile...kind of staring around, wondering where Ray is, too....then finally she settles in to stare at me. Now this doesn't work and I'm about to fall asleep and she starts batting at me...in other words, telling me I was on the wrong side of the bed and I needed to move NOW since staring hadn't gotten her message across. As soon as I moved, she curled up and went to sleep. What a creature of habit! I didn't know she cared which side of the bed I slept on, but I guess I was wrong!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Jury Duty

So I've been called THREE times for jury duty by THREE different states. But each one has always managed to pick the most inappropriate time possible. Honestly, I wouldn't find serving jury duty if they'd just pick better times! So Alaska calls me while I was in college in North Dakota - that commute wouldn't have worked too well! Then North Dakota calls me for the month that Ray and I were moving to Ohio - again really can't commute back! Now Ohio has called me for next month - right about the time Adam is due! So I had to go get a doctor's note today and write a letter and send it off so they will hopefully excuse me. It isn't that I don't want to serve, it is just that if I go into labor early, it'll be pretty near impossible for me to check to see if I'm needed or appear in court!

Christmas Lights

Our outdoor lights finally up and on at night!

Ray's version of wrapping paper

Ray discovered in college that wrapping paper was an unnecessary expense - he'd just use all his expired approach plates instead! The tradition still continues even though I had laid out holiday wrapping paper for him upstairs. It is a fun tradition in some ways and our kids will probably get a kick out of it someday!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Tool Chest

After the kitchen remodel, Ray realized he had too many tools not to have a tool chest, so we got a great deal at Target yesterday on one (it also even came with tools - a lot of wrenches - which he needed!). Olga is vetting it for us.

Christmas Lights

We were really late with Christmas decorations this year because of the kitchen, but Ray did put a few outdoor lights this morning.

Christmas Ready

My cards are done, my packages are sent (Ray went to the PO today, poor man) and my presents are wrapped! I'm feeling very good about myself!

My cooking making from last night for cookies to send and so this time Ray and I would have a few!
Writing cards last night (between cookie batches)

FINISHED and PO READY!
Also a holiday reminder (for this year and next year). St. Jude's uses old cards to make new ones (the kids do it), so you can send your old cards to them as well as purchase your new ones. This is a great cause to support!

Open House Edition

The newest recipe carnival is now up at Everything and Nothing.

White House Visitor Logs

It was ruled today that White House visitors logs are public domain. I thought that ws pretty neat!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Baby Shopping

We finished up baby shopping yesterday. At this point we just had a list of small things, but wanted to get it done as Ray is going to help me set up the nursery over break so that is everything is ready when he goes back to work in January.

The biggest problem was that this meant we were out with all the Christmas shopping crazies. We did get a few good deals, though, including a jigsaw for Ray on clearance at Wal-Mart. Now when we first started, it was just busy, but then it started snowing. Why do people get so STUPID when it snows? This is Ohio and we are dead in the snowbelt from Lake Erie. This is NOTHING NEW!!! But, oh my dear, people were IDIOTS, especially around the mall. The main issue to is go slow and steady, but people can't seem to do that! People get scared and stop when they don't need to and then the crazies go through lights they shouldn't and speed up. Ugh! Add in people who go through red lights because the person before them does...it is just a nightmare.

We ended up back out today as well - mainly because one thing I wanted was only at the Target in Streetsboro so we had to go get that (I'd called them last night to hold it). The roads today were worse because it is getting colder and all the slush is starting to freeze.

I still have one more thing to buy for the kitchen - a lazy susan for my spices, but I managed to find the lid pull out I wanted yesterday at Lowes.

Well, I'm off to make more cookies. I want to finish my Christmas cards and get them in the mail by tomorrow with the last of my packages, so I'd better get cracking!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Christmas Tree 2007

Up and Decorated - finally! I was pretty behind with the kitchen remodel and whatnot. Now Christmas cards and presents...I have all mine bought, just not sent.

Jennie's Update

Well, as I suspected, it was just stress and the doctor now agrees (meaning I passed all their tests). I do have to go in weekly now, but I was going to have to do that last month anyway and it is only like two weeks early, so I guess I can live with that. Last time, they did this non-stress test on the baby and it was funny! They hook you up so you can monitor the baby's heartbeat for awhile (like 20 minutes). Well, you are sitting there and you can kind of figure out what the baby is doing - Ray and I really had fun with that. Adam, first of all, was really hard to find - he likes to hide from the doctors. Once they found him, we think he kept trying to escape. You'd hear his heartbeat pick up a bit and then I'd feel him moving a bit - we think he was trying to figure out how to escape the monitor! At least, that's what we decided - we were cheering him on (if the doctor had heard us, she'd have probably thought we were nuts).

My Christmas decorations are now up and I'm trying to get my cards down. I'm writing baby shower thank yous first. But last night I had to make cookies for Ray's dispatchers. I always do around this time, but I was way behind and since the semester ends on Friday, I figured I'd better get that done so Ray had time to take them in.

Off to grade final exams (three more in today, just waiting on one more, then this semester is OVER for me!).

Fantasy Fudge

I decided on the desert I'm taking to Ray's parents for New Year's. I'm going to do my Fantasy Fudge. This is actually just the recipe from the back of the marshmellow creme jar, but what I like about it is that the marshmellow really mellows out the sweetness. I think most fudges are way too sweet, but this is a nice treat!

Fantasy Fudge
From back of marshmallow creme jar

1 1/2 cups margarine
6 cups sugar
1 1/3 cups evaporated milk
2 pkg (12 oz) chocolate chips
1 jar (13 oz) marshmallow creme
2 cups nuts (optional)
2 tsp vanilla

Mix margarine, sugar and milk in saucepan. Bring to full boil and then boil for 5 minutes on medium heat. You need your candy thermometer to read 234. Remove from heat. Gradually stir in chips until melted. Add rest and mix. Put in pans, cool and then cut.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Christmas Coookies

I hopefully am baking cookies tomorrow for Ray's dispatchers. I'm behind this year because of the kitchen remodel. I have my jar gifts done for Ray to take in for his co-workers, but need to get the cookies done. I always do chocolate chip cookies (finally updated this but margarine instead of butter...I never use butter in this recipe, but it always said butter in my mother's cookbook and I just never changed it and finally did it) and I've been doing sugar cookies for Ray's dispatchers because I have an airplane cookie cutter and can mix those in with the Christmas shapes. I love my sugar cookies because they are soft - I love soft cookies, although Ray likes hard, he loves these (he's a sugar cookie fanatic). I put up the recipe (with my website link) and included the link for the icing I like.

Sweet Cream Sugar Cookies

From Merry Cookie

1 cup butter
1 1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 cup whipping cream
5 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla

Cream butter and sugar; add eggs and vanilla and beat until blended. Combine dry ingredients and add alternatively with cream. Mix until smooth. Chill for 2 hours. Roll to desired thickness, and cut with Christmas cookie cutters. Bake on ungreased cookie sheets at 350, 10-12 minutes or until done but not brown. Cool, ice, and decorate.

Wish me luck in getting these done! But I have a beautiful new kitchen and dishwasher to help out!

Ranking Mistake

So US News & World Report published a list of top US high schools (which is a load of crap, but I can rant about that later...if they really want to get a true ranking they need to just look at PUBLIC HIGH SCHOOLS, not ones you have to apply to or pay for!!!) and it turns out the ranking organization can't add as they had a mistake in it! Should send THEM back to school!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Holiday Treats Update

I was watching one of Rachael Ray's holiday specials today (DVRed it last week....I LOVE DVR) and she had some great ideas for holiday give aways if you want something a little different:

Marinated Bocconcini

Spiced Nuts

Old Kitchen Comparsion

Old Dining Room
Old Kitchen (remember there was a wall to the left of this picture that separates the two rooms)
Old Kitchen

Finished Kitchen

New Dining Room
New Kitchen
Beautiful, isn't it? With a now working dishwasher!


New Shelf

I wanted a shelf like I had in my old kitchen...my father made one out of our flooring remnants so it matches perfectly. Cool, huh?


Kitchen Curtains

Pat is making me curtains (valances actually) for my new kitchen for Christmas - this is the fabric we picked out this weekend.

Final Kitchen Install

We had lots of help on Sunday to finish up our kitchen - the countertops.
Dave, Dennis and Ray putting in the counters
Working on the plumbing for the new sink and garbage disposal (and hooking up the dishwasher)
The gang...we had a lot of people over to help! We have great friends and family!

Pat with Adam's Toys

I think Grandma likes Adam's new toy!

Snowfall

This was last week - gorgeous, huh? But all gross now, as it rained all day yesterday and pretty much everything is gone now.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Carnival of Recipes: Holiday Gift Giving Edition

As the holidays near, it is time to think about gift giving. If you are like me, home-made gifts strike your fancy. I love being able to give gifts in a jar to all my neighbors and co-workers.

This year, I gave Chicken Soup in a Jar. (Last year, I did Potato Soup in a Jar). In a time of rampant commercialism, homemade gifts add thought and care back into holiday gifts and often help our bottom line (that checkbook!).

We also need more recipes as the number of parties we have to bring food to increase and we are looking for something new to impress our friends (or co-workers or bosses) with. Making your party offerings yourself often make the choices better and cheaper!

Enjoy all these holiday gift and recipe ideas from your blogging friends!

Packaged Gifts to Give Away
Like my own jar gifts, these are perfect gifts to make and give away!

Cookie and Treat Giveaways
We all know that everyone loves to give and receive cookies this time of year and it is always fun to add some new ones to your repertoire as you often have to bring things to the same parties and people and we can use a little variety!

Recipes to Share with Friends
Looking for a new recipe to share at that office party or to take to a friend’s house for Christmas? Sick of bringing the same thing – try some of these interesting recipes!

Add some ethnic diversity to your offering:

For some more traditional fare:

Other Topics and Recipes
A few other submissions I felt like including this week.

The Weight Loss Dude shares his homemade beef broth recipe and Disease Proof offers some great brunch recipes options.

Upcoming Editions

You can check out all the upcoming editions of the carnival of recipes at Everything and Nothing. Next week will at http://everythingandnothing.typepad.com/ and is themed "A Christmas Tea." The deadline is next Saturday night (December 15th) and you can submit your entries straight to recipe.carnival@gmail.com or you can use the blog carnival submission button.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Magna Carta

A copy of the Magna Carta (signed by Edward I in 1297) will go up for sale on December 18th. I hate to see precious artifacts like this auctioned to the highest bidder! Hopefully, a museum of some type will get it, not a private collector.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Life Catch Up

My parents left yesterday, so I spent today and yesterday doing catch up - all those things you ignore while you have company, like paperwork. Such fun. We got a bunch of snow here, which makes me REALLY happy. Hopefully, my countertops will be in by this weekend and then everyone will come over on Sunday and finish my kitchen! Wouldn't that be nice?

My blood pressure was up a little bit last check up so my doctors have me doing a billion tests, all of which are really annoying! It is just stress - kitchen remodel, duh! Now that it is mostly over, I'm sure my blood pressure is back to normal, but I still have to go through all their rigamoral. I obviously scheduled my check up for the wrong time! I have to go back tomorrow and if everything is normal, hopefully they will be done pestering me. I sometimes think they just like to run tests! I don't show any of the other signs they listed, so I think there is nothing to worry about, but I guess that's their job.

Oh, did I tell you UPS missed my house and left packages a few houses down a few weeks ago? A little old lady came by to tell me where they were and guess what - happened again today! So I called UPS...it is just that they have so many temp drivers right now, but I figured reporting it would solve it and they actually sounded happy I did (also the fact that I wasn't yelling or being annoying probably also helped!).

Ray is just trying to get through the last few weeks of school. He has a bunch of papers to write for his Ph.D classes, plus all his normal work, so he is really stressed and messed up. He just wants next week over with and vacation to start. He needs a break, poor guy.

Well, off to do some internet Christmas shopping - just one present left to go!

Chicken Noodle Soup in a Jar

I make gifts in a jar each year for all Ray's co-workers. I find it is a thoughtful gift while inexpensive (I buy my supplies in bulk with my mother-in-law and we make them together). This year we went back to the ever-popular Chicken Soup in a Jar.

Chicken Noodle Soup Mix
Modified from Gifts In A Jar

4 cups wide egg noodles
2 tbsp dried minced onion
2 tbsp chicken bouillon granules
2 tsp celery flakes
1 tsp pepper

Layer ingredients in the order given into a wide mouth 1 quart canning jar [The recipe does the noodles last, but we like the look of the spices running through the noodles]. Pack each layer in place before adding the next.


Attach gift tag with cooking directions.

Cooking Directions:

1 jar Chicken Noodle Soup Mix
2 (5 oz) cans chicken

Bring 10 cups of water to a boil in a large soup pot. Add the Chicken Noodle Soup Mix. Add chicken, breaking it up well with a fork. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer uncovered for 12-15 minutes or until noodles are tender.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Snow

We finally are getting some snow...this is Monday and we got more today. That's Mom in front of the store if you can tell.

Putting the Kitchen Back in Order


Mom in New Kitchen


Cabinent Installation

This is an old picture from Dad's camera, but I liked it so I thought I'd post it.

Mom and Me


Making Cookies in the New Kitchen


Heifer International

Every year Ray and I donate to Heifer International - we've been slowly going up and doing a bigger donation each year. This is a great charity to donate to because not only does it improve the life of someone, but it is a more permanent help as the livestock will continue to grow and produce for years.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Carnival of Recipes

This week's carnival of Recipes is now up. I will be hosting next week's here so make sure to send in your gift recipes!