Wednesday, December 31, 2008

David Drinkhouse

Some David pictures - we've been scanning/pulling pictures today.

Donations, in lieu of flowers, are to go to St. Jude's. David said in his last days that the only thing worse would be if this had been happening to a child.

David Drinkhouse

Our next door neighbor, David Drinkhouse (Andrea's dad), died Monday. He'd been diagnoised with lung cancer a few months ago (never smoked a day in his life), but it was already really advanced before they caught it. Still we all thought he'd have a long fight as he was in great shape/health overall, but he went down really fast. Definitely a huge shock for everyone, especially my father who is retiring in the spring and had lots of plans with David (his best buddy) for retirement (David retired a few years ago). The funeral will be on Friday.


It's definitely cold here. Coming home from Anchorage we saw -25 and its -20 here now. At the warmest part of the day, we are usually seeing about zero. Although since we saw -50 in ND, definitely could be worse (it has been -35 to -50 in Fairbanks this week). We are hoping it will warm up a bit.

Computer Woes

Right before we left, my desktop broke (the motherboard), but we decided that we could put off replacement for awhile (tax return as that's when usually buy a computer anyway) since I have my laptop plus we have Ray's desktop (as a note, we have four computers, but since I work on the computer this isn't as bad as it sounds). But then the space bar on my laptop quits working - just that! But still an important thing, so I'm really worried we are going to have to replace it even though nothing is really wrong with it. BUT my brother saved me. He jury-rigged my laptop keyboard so it works and then we can buy a new keyboard later for it. I didn't know you could replace laptop keyboards, but I'm glad.:) Right now I just have to smash the space bar hard and it works, but that's all that matters.

Adam's Outside Fun

Adam playing outside!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Adam's Keyboard

Uncle Billy gave Adam an old keyboard to play with!

Adam's Playdate

Adam's playdate with Billy's friend's son, Blake Parker (Ben and Chelsea's son)

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Recipe Carnival

The newest recipe carnival is now up.

GPS Comedy

We are in Anchorage today and tonight. Adam is staying with his grandparents and we are having a bit of alone time. For us that mainly means we are hitting all the bookstores in Anchorage including Title Wave (the world's BEST bookstore).

Anyway, we borrowed Grandma and Grandpa's GPS to help with navigation. I know where some stuff in Anchorage is, but can't always find everything. First, the GPS is funny because it mispronounces stuff, like Knik (doesn't pronounce the k) and Dimond (which actually souns like diamond). It also doesn't know what to do with A and C St, which I find funny. So A St is "AST." This all had me cracking up. It also doesn't always have everything to search for. You can search for businesses - like Target. Well, Target is too new for it. Then we wanted to go to Title Wave, which I was pretty sure was on Northern Lights (it is), but we'd put it in and it was taking us to 5th Ave. We were confused, but got halfway down Northern Lights and decided maybe it was like some side way to get there and started following it. Well, there is a NEW Title Wave - a downtown location and the GPS has that one, but not the original one for some reason. We couldn't find the original one in the GPS to get back to it and so then tried to find REI (which we knew was next to Title Wave), but it couldn't find REI either! So we ended up going back to Northern Lights and just trying to drive further down it and then found it. The GPS worked really well for finding Nicole's place though. We also saved the Title Wave address in it! We are thinking we want a GPS, though, as they are cool and it recalculates for you if you miss a road and takes you around which is REALLY helpful with one way streets (like Anchorage).

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Third Tooth!

Adam's third tooth has finally poked through his gums and is now visible in his top gums. Must have been that singing of "all I want for Christmas is my two front teeth!"

Dad's YouTube Videos

Dad (he's katman1957 if you want to look him up) has started to put his animal videos up on YouTube. Here is one of the grizzly ones.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Pumpkin Fudge

I made this for everyone on Christmas Eve. I really like all the marshmallow creme fudge recipes because they are pretty creamy and not too rich. I find a lot of fudges way too heavy. I wanted something new and this really hit the spot. I also made cookies as well, of course (wouldn't want to be lynched).

Pumpkin Fudge
Modified from Southern Living

3 cups sugar
3/4 cup melted butter
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
2 tablespoons corn syrup
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 (12-ounce) package white chocolate morsels [Nestle Tollhouse sells white chocolate chips]
1 (7-ounce) jar marshmallow crème
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted [I didn't use these since I don't like nuts, but I'm sure they'd work fine if you like them]
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Stir together first 6 ingredients in a heavy pan over medium-high heat, and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Cook, stirring constantly, until a candy thermometer registers 234° [it always seems like it takes forever to get from about 220 to 234, but you'll get there eventually].

Remove pan from heat; stir in remaining ingredients until well blended. Pour into an aluminum foil-lined 9-inch square pan. Let stand 2 hours or until completely cool; cut fudge into squares.


Adam was out to try out the snowmachine today. He wasn't so sure about it - fairly noisy, but did okay. I'm sure we'll try again. He loves being outside, so hopefully the weather will stay decent so he can go out a little.
Grandpa and Adam
Daddy and Adam

Adam outside with Grandma's Christmas cows (which Grandpa calls hippos)

Adam outside

Cooking with Grandpa

Tubbie Time

Adam in Grandma's Tub

Adam having fun in Grandma's tubbie!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Adam's First Christmas

Adam had a great first Christmas (he is currently collapsed in his crib from his exciting day). He got up and played with the toys from the stockings as well everyone's candy. He loved the candy canes with kisses because they make great swords. He got Cheerios and pretzels in his stocking rather than candy!

He didn't really get the idea of ripping open the presents, but enjoyed the spectacle of it all. Grandpa helped him get his toys out of the packages - he got tools! He got his own little toolbag like Grandpa's and a toolbench. I'm really excited because Ray and I got tickets to the 2009 figure skating championships which are in Cleveland this year. We are going to pairs finals! We got some movies that we've been wanting to see and hopefully we'll watch them before we leave. I actually did Dad's Christmas shopping for Mom in Ohio (clothes from Christopher and Banks, her favorite store), so she had some surprises. Dad also had some of her rings combined/rearranged, so she had a great surprise there as well. That actually just came in yesterday! Dad got a new shop vac - his is 30 years old! Billy got some gifts cards to put towards materials for his house, which hopefully will get built this summer. So that's the highlights there.

We had Christmas Eve dinner here last night (which is the norm) and then Ray, Adam and I went to Mass with Grandma and Grandpa. This morning after we opened presents here, we went to my aunt and uncle's for Christmas breakfast (which we always do). Derek had to work in Fairbanks today (he's in the fire department there and going to school for fire science), but Kelsey and Vincent are still in high school, so were there. We then moved on to Grandma and Grandpa's (Adam's greats) for lunch and the rest of the day (again tradition). Adam took a nap at Grandpa and Grandma's, which I was really glad about. I was afraid it would just be too exciting and he would miss the nap and then be crabby all day, but he took a really good nap and so had a great day playing. We all ate way too much food, but it was a great day - it even snowed most of the day, which is a perfect Christmas to us. I hope you all had a great Christmas as well!

Christmas Morning

Christmas morning was a lot of fun with Adam. He didn't quite get the idea of ripping open the packages, but enjoyed the paper, the boxes and eventually the toys.

Adam with some small toys from his stocking
Uncle Billy got Adam a light saber (I specifically said no guns yet) - Uncle Billy had to show Adam how it worked!
Everyone opening presents

Mommy helping Adam open a present

Height Difference?

Adam and his cousin Kelsey (she's only 15 by the way)

Dressed up for Christmas Eve Mass

We went to the 9 PM Mass at Sacred Heart - Adam actually did really well and Great Grandpa got up with him once and let him explore the dining area a bit. Great Grandpa had been waiting for an excuse all night! Though Mass was only an about an hour, which was really nice.

I've got the button!

Adam also is still obsessed with the TV buttons!

Adam and his grandparents

I'm escaping with it!

Adam loves the phone and is always trying to take it (this isn't new - he does it at home as well). Well, Grandpa decided that Adam should have one, so he took the batteries out of one of the headset's so he could play with it - he was so happy as he thought was really getting away with something! As you can see, he wouldn't give that phone up for anything for hours!
I've escaped!
Grandma and this bear are cool, but I'm not giving up the phone!

Grandpa's Glasses

One of Adam's new obsessions - Grandpa's glasses!


Adam didn't approve of plowing the driveway with Grandpa! I think it was just too noisy for him.

Christmas Morning

Adam had fun with the candy from everyone's stockings!

Adam on the Stairs

Adam still isn't sure about the stairs, but we are working on getting DOWN the stairs. Going up is easy!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Alaskan Update

We made it to Alaska - only about 45 minutes late. We lost it sitting on the runway in Minneapolis. We think they combined two flights as we all got reassigned seats and junk. The flight was really crowded. Adam did awesome though and has been living it up with his grandparents today. We did have to go to Fred Meyer's today to get the rest of the food for Christmas Eve and that was scary. Wasilla Freddies was crazy - that store is always nuts and today was worse than ever. Not much else to report yet - its been snowing here today which is great and I'm off to make cookies for tomorrow.

Adam's New Cupboards

Adam's found a few new cupboards to play in! Grandma's tupperware cabinet!

Adam and the Fountain

Adam checking out McDuff's fountain

Adam Helping Grandpa Cook

Adam and Grandpa cooking breakfast this morning!

Adam and the Fountain

Adam found McDuff's fountain and had fun playing in the water!

Adam checking out Grandma's Cupboards

Adam and Grandpa

Adam helping Grandpa cook breakfast!

Adam's New Toy

Grandma just couldn't wait so Adam got something when he got to Alaska. He "helped" Grandpa put this together today!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Trip Update

We have been having fun at Ray's father's and take off for my parents' tomorrow. We talked to our kitty sitter today and so far Olga is behaving herself at home. Olga probably spent the first day sleeping and enjoying her Adam-free time! We also opened all the gates for her - I'm sure she has been super kitting around the house! Wish us luck flying tomorrow with Adam!

Adam Playing at PaPa's

Adam pulling out PaPa's pots to play with! He figured out that drawer pretty quick!

Adam and Uncle Brian

Adam had fun with Uncle Brian today - he actually hung out on his lap for awhile, which for Adam is really good as he usually never quits moving!

Adam and Great Gramma Weber

Adam had fun at Great-Gramma Weber's house today!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Adam Playing in PaPa's Sink

We had a pretty good drive to Michigan although there were a fair number of accidents for as good as the roads were. People were just being stupid. Adam has been having a blast playing with PaPa!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Noodles Romanoff

I'm in clean out the fridge mode, so I was looking for something to use up my sour cream and I found this recipe. It is a nice side, although somewhat bland. I plan on using real garlic and sauting it a bit next time to kick up the flavor. Or adding something in to give it a little more flavor, but still not bad as is.

Noodles Romanoff
Modified Cooking for 2

1 cup uncooked egg noodles [I actually used whatever I had in the cupboard, which was rotini]
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tbsp butter, softened
1 tbsp shredded Parmesan cheese [I went heavy on this]
1/4 tsp salt-free herb seasoning blend [I used Mrs. Dash]
1/8 tsp garlic powder [I went heavy on this as well]
dash pepper
1 tsp minced chives [I used dried parsley here]

Cook noodles as directed. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the sour cream, butter, Parmesan cheese, seasoning blend, garlic powder and pepper.

Drain noodles, return to pan. Add sour cream mixture and toss to coat; heat through. Sprinkle with chives (parsley).

Makes 1 serving.

New Series

Laura Childs has a new series out - the Cackleberry Club. She has two great series out - the teashop series and a scrapbooking series. I didn't find this one as good as the other two, but often series take a book or two to get going, so I'll probably try the next one. There are three owners of the Cackleberry Club, but Suzanne really lones guns it on the sleuthing aspect. In addition, while I love the idea of the Club - its has a bit of everything, I'm not sure that is a viable business - they just have too much! The sheriff also pretty much told Suzanne everything that was going on and I never could figure out why he would do that. It just was hard to swallow. I also spent half the book trying to figure out what state they were in - I think its Tennessee, but I'm still not sure. They aren't quite anything and the locale isn't playing the best. Anyway, based on her two other great series, I'll keep trying on this one and hope it improves.


We are all better now, but unfortunately now really behind, so its been crazy here. We are getting ready for the holidays, but just feel that we lost so much time while we were sick! I'm so behind on my Christmas craft list its not even funny. I really needed those few days as Ray is home and can help with so much.

Just an update that we are all improved. We are trying to catch up!

Grilling is MEN'S Work

Playing Game Boy with Daddy


Present from Aunt Maureen

Aunt Maureen sent Adam a toy nativity set. He likes eating the pieces and really enjoyed the box!

Eating Dinner with Us

Adam eating his chicken while we ate ours.

Recipe Carnival

The newest recipe carnival is up - Christmas cookie recipes this week!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

In the wake of the flu

Our household has been battered by the flu over the last few days (what I thought on Friday was a cold was actually the flu). Adam really didn't seem to get it - thank God for that flu shot we were so sure about! I'm finally on the mend today, but Ray is still pretty bad. It has been an ugly few days. Poor Adam - both parents sick! I'm at least mostly over it, which is allowing Ray to get some down time and hopefully be on the mend tomorrow. I hate the flu!

Friday, December 12, 2008


Yesterday was a yicky day. Nothing went right - I started out late and just couldn't mange to get it together. On top of that, I got home and got sick! I have a cold - I HATE having a cold. You aren't sick enough to get out of anything, just miserable. Plus I'm trying so hard not to give it to Adam, but I have a feeling that's fairly futile. Ray's already got it - I think that is where this started. Usually we are sick over the holidays - hopefully we'll get it out of the way BEFORE Christmas this year as we are travelling soon.

Christmas Cards are DONE

My Christmas cards are done and mailed - yeah! Adam really didn't help - I had them set up to do on the kitchen table so he could play while I did it, but whenever I got going, he'd be over, wanting picked up. Its like he knew that I was busy! Anyway, they were mailed yesterday and so that's one more thing done with for this year.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Hail to the Chef by Julie Hyzy

This is the second installment in this series and I was pretty happy with it. Ollie is now the executive White House chef (the first book was transition for that). I like how this book really added a focus on the First Lady and Ollie's relationship with her, but I didn't like that Tom, her Secret Service boyfriend, was barely involved. I think that is a definitely a weakness for this book as we really aren't devloping her personal relationships. You seem some with Cyan, in the kitchen, but again, she really is a "lone wolf" for most of this book, which really takes away some of the personality of the book. You see a relationship of respect develop with Gavin, who is in charge of the bomb squad, but that is a one book thing, so I think there needs to be more done with her kitchen staff and her boyfriend (this one or a different one).

I will say that while she "found" the bombs, I got it way before her. She seemed to stumble into them more than really notice them. I also didn't like how the connection to Agda's "broken" men never really got mentioned at the end as that was part of the bomb discovery. While this had an okay plot and some series development, I think it was weaker than the first book and there is lots of room for improvement with the next one.

The book is timely for season as the book happens right at Thanksgiving and after as the White House is gearing up for the holidays.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Devilish Sesame Chicken with Green Beans

I just tried this recipe last night and I was thrilled - it was very yummy! I can't wait to try this with fresh green beans out of my garden this summer! I saw this recipe when I was reading Everything Rachael Ray blog. While I get Everyday with Rachael Ray, this recipe must not have jumped out at me there, but definitely did here and I'm really glad it did! I was also really proud of myself because I didn't actually measure much - I'm definitely getting better at knowing what a tablespoon/teaspoon/etc is!

Devilish Sesame Chicken with Green Beans
Modified from Everyday with Rachael Ray

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup white rice
1/2 cups chicken broth [she used chicken broth with the rice, but I don't like rice cooked in chicken broth so I used 2 cups of water rather than her 1 1/2 cups of broth]
2 cups water
Salt and pepper
1/2 pound green beans [I used frozen since its the middle of winter, I'm cheap and I had frozen beans in the freezer already...I also used closer to 3/4 of a pound.]
1 pound chicken, thinly sliced [I used chicken breasts]
1 red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced [while I love red peppers, I'm cheap, so I used a green pepper.]
3 tablespoons tamari (dark soy sauce) [I was out of tamari, so I used soy sauce...tamari would be thicker and I probably will use it in the future, but the soy worked fine...and I misread the directions, I used 1/2 cup, not 3 tbsp...runny, but fine!]
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce [I just used a few dashes of hot sauce as I'm not a huge hot fan.]
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted

Cook rice in water, about 20 minutes. [You can use broth if you like.]

Cook the green beans to your taste. [Chefs have this need to undercook their veggies...I don't get that. Since I used frozen, I had to cook these longer in any case...when I use fresh, I plan to steam them. Rachael Ray recommends like 2 minutes in one inch of boiling water and then rinsing in cold water...I did rinse these a bit.]

In a large skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil, 2 turns of the pan, over high heat until rippling. Add the chicken and cook until golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the pepper and cook until just softened, 3 minutes. Add the green beans and cook, tossing, for 1 minute. Add in salt and pepper to taste.

In a bowl, mix together the tamari, honey, hot sauce, mustard, 1/2 cup chicken broth, and sesame oil (they put this on at the end...I just stuck it in here). Pour the sauce over the chicken and vegetables; toss. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Serve the chicken over the rice. (they put scallions in the can if you want...I didn't.)

Newest Carnival

The new recipe carnival is up at the Christmas Weblog.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Enjoying his Cheerios

Adam's Pan

A little big for him, but he got it out by himself!

Adam's Nutcracker Calendar

Great-Grandma Cottle sent this...eventually it will have candy in it, but for this year, it is just cool doors!

Adam's New Cupboard

Adam has found an interesting new cupboard!

Adam likes CHEERIOS!

Adam's new food!

Adam Playing

Adam having some fun!

Adam's Basket

Adam playing with his Christmas ornament basket.

Christmas Cookies

I make cookies for Ray's dispatchers every year at Christmas and this year Ray gave them out yesterday. I always make my sugar cookies and chocolate chip cookies. I don't ice the sugar cookies since I put them in baggies. I iced them the first year, but it was a mess. Next year, when Adam can help cut out the cookies, the sugar cookies will be much more fun.

Each year, I also do something new for the bags. This year it was Mint Fudge. I love the fantasy fudge recipe from the back of the marshmallow creme jar - most fudges are too sweet, to me, and this one is much mellower. I got the idea to make a mint version from Fleece Navidad by Maggie Sefton, which I reviewed here a few months ago. I didn't use her recipe, but rather the traditional recipe, with her variation of switching the vanilla for peppermint extract. By the way, peppermint extract, when it hits hot fudge is STRONG!!

Mint Fantasy Fudge
From back of marshmallow creme jar and Maggie Sefton

3/4 cup butter
3 cups sugar
2/3 cup evaporated milk [which is a 5 oz can if you can actually find that - I couldn't!]
1 pkg (12 oz) chocolate chips [they used squares you have to break up - way too much work!]
1 jar (7 oz) marshmallow creme
1 cups nuts (optional - this year I did one batch with and one without)
1 tsp peppermint extract (here's the variation)

Mix butter, 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 and marshmallow creme until melted. Add rest and mix. Put in pans, cool and then cut.

I haven't tried this yet, but I just saw a recipe for Pumpkin fudge, using marshmallow creme that will be my next experiment! I found the idea in this list of gifts under $3.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Adam and Santa

I took Adam to sit on Santa's lap today. As expected, he screamed (you can see he doesn't look so happy!), but he got over it and had a ball running around the mall.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Santa Is Definitely A Woman

I was looking through some old stuff on my computer and found this and thought I'd share!

Think about it. Christmas is a big, organized, warm, fuzzy, nurturing, social deal, and I have a tough time believing a guy could possibly pull it all off!

For starters, the vast majority of men don't even think about selecting gifts until Christmas Eve. Once at the mall, they always seem surprised to find only Ronco products, socket wrench sets, and mood rings left on the shelves. On this count alone, I'm convinced Santa is a woman.

Surely, if he were a she, no one in the universe would ever wake up Christmas morning to find a rotating musical Chia Pet under the tree, still in the shopping bag, with a "clearance sale" price tag still attached. Another problem for a he-Santa would be getting there. First of all, there would be no reindeer because they would all be dead, gutted and strapped on to the rear bumper of the sleigh amid wide-eyed, desperate claims that buck season had been extended to flying deer; and Blitzen's rack would already be on the way to the taxidermist to be wall-mounted.

Even if the male Santa DID still have reindeer, he'd have other transportation problems, because he would inevitably get lost up there in the snow and clouds and then refuse to stop and ask for directions.

Other reasons why Santa can't possibly be a man include:
  • Men can't pack a bag.
  • Men would rather be dead than caught wearing red velvet.
  • Men would feel their masculinity is threatened by having to be seen with all those elves in costume.
  • Men don't answer their mail.
  • Men would refuse to allow their physique to be described, even in jest, as anything remotely resembling a "bowl full of jelly."
  • Men aren't interested in stockings unless some TV or Hollywood starlet is wearing them.
  • Having to do the "Ho! Ho! Ho!" thing would seriously inhibit their ability to pick up women.
  • Finally, being responsible for Christmas would require a serious commitment.

The fact is that other mythical holiday characters have to be men:

  • Father Time shows up once a year unshaven and looking ominous.
  • Cupid flies around carrying weapons.
  • Uncle Sam is a politician who likes to point fingers.

Any one of these individuals could pass the male testosterone screening test, but not Santa, because it's clear he's a she with unique style.

Baby Food Makers are Crazy

Seriously, I was in the baby food aisle today (and buying baby food is worth the cost for the convenience to me) and while there are tons of fruit medley choices, there are very few vegetable ones. Why? This makes NO SENSE to me! I try to make sure Adam hits all the choices each day...some fruit, some vegetables and some meat (we are just doing chicken currently) and I like trying new types as I want him to explore lots of tastes. I want to encourage him to try new foods and not be a picky eater. But the baby food makers are NOT helping. I got out my books today - I'm just going to have to make his vegetables as I'm sick of this. I need some new vegetable choices and if they won't provide them, I will. We also bought Cheerios today for him!

Being a Girl

Most of the time, I don't mind being a girl. While labor isn't fun, the reward is definitely worth it. But I REALLY hate shaving my legs. It just seems so pointless and it is never ending. And because I hate it, I'm bad clear by the fact I have band-aids on my legs right'd think I'd improve, right? Not really....and I've tried other means, but still nothing seems to work well or make the process any better. I wish I lived somewhere where hairy legs were acceptable. I put it off as much as possible and just hide it (what's winter for if not long pants and hidden legs!), but I still eventually have to do it.


I love 7th Heaven (you might have noticed from some earlier can be cheesy, but I still love it - it actually tried to promote GOOD morals!) and I've been watching the 7th season (which just came out on DVD - how I watch all my TV) and there was an episode that was talking about how we've lost Sundays. Sunday used to be a day of rest, but now it is just another work day. Too many families don't take time to rest on Sunday. I know, especially in college, it was homework day. One thing we have been doing now with Adam is taking his nap time on Sunday for "us" time. It seems that when Ray's home from work, usually I have something to do that I need him to watch Adam for (like grading) or Adam wants "Daddy" time. Both undestandable, but that means we really don't spend much time together. So we've been trying to be better at night as we are doing Adam's last feeding and getting him to sleep (watching a little TV together or something), but that Sunday nap time really has been good for us - we even sometimes take a nap ourselves! But the point is, we make a point to spend a little quality time with each other versus just more catch up work - which we still sometimes do, but it is secondary. So join us, and try to take back some of your Sunday for actual rest!

By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.
-Genesis 2:2

Thanksgiving Leftovers

I'm finally starting to see the end of the Thanksgiving leftovers. I actually ran out of turkey pretty early - I usually get to freeze some and didn't do that this year. I'm done to things I've made with leftovers now, which is good as that means it is moreorless "new" for taste. I did have to throw out a little cheesecake, but it is just so hard to get through those desserts! I don't make them because of this, so I have to on the holidays. As Adam gets older, it will get better as he can help eat them as well.

I made my Wild Rice Casserole, that I love first. I also made the Chicken (or you can use turkey, but I was out of turkey at this point) Cornbread Casserole. You might remember that I suggested this would be good for leftover cornbread stuffing. So that's what I did. I took all my leftover cornbread stuffing and used that in place of the cornbread mixture and you could also use turkey rather than chicken. I then made the "sauce" (the chicken broth, sour cream, egg, red peppper, salt and butter) to use as the binder and baked it as instructed. I figure you'd need about 4-5 cups of leftover stuffing for the entire recipe. I halved it with what I had left. But really just cover the bottom, toss on turkey/chicken, pour on sauce and then cover again with more stuffing. It worked well and tasted good and helped get rid of all that extra stuffing in a "new" way.

I also had a ton of veggies left over from the crudite plate, so I made soup. This was an awesome soup and while we ate some of it, I froze most of it for later.

Savory Winter Soup
Modified from Slow Cooker Recipes (Taste of Home Ground Beef Cookbook)

***needs a crock pot****

2 lbs. ground beef
1 1/2 medium onions, chopped
1 1/2 medium green peppers, chopped [I added this because I didn't have enough onions and liked it this way]
1 garlic clove, minced
3 cans (10 1/2 oz. each) condensed beef broth, undiluted [I split this in half (as the entire recipe is a ton) and what I did so I didn't have to use half of a can of the beef broth, I just put 2 bouillon cubes in 1 cup of water (as usually it is one to one) to make it like condensed beef broth and then used 5 oz of that (which is about 1/2 of a can, which is 10.5 oz, and 5 oz is 2/3 of a cup).]
1 can (28 oz.) diced tomatoes, undrained [or 2 cans of 14 oz diced tomatoes....I don't like tomatoes, this is really added to the broth and by using small diced tomatoes, they really aren't annoying in the soup like the bunch chunks some recipes like.]
3 c. water
1 c. diced carrots
1 c. diced celery
1 c. fresh or frozen green beans [I used frozen]
1 c. cubed peeled potatoes [use up the rest of that big bag of potatoes!]
2 tsp. dried parsley flakes
1 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
Salt and pepper to taste

In a skillet, cook beef, onions, peppers and garlic over medium heat until the meat is no longer pink: drain. Transfer to a 5 qt. slow cooker. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well. Cover and cook on high for 8 hours or until heated through.

14 servings (3 1/2 qts.)

I plan on making beef stew with the rest of the veggies and potatoes next week.

Adam and the Boxes

I had a bunch of Christmas related stuff all I arrive today - Adam had fun with the boxes and packing materials!

New Tactic for Telemarketers

I hate telemarketers, but we get a ton of non-profit calls we can't get rid of it (as non profits don't have to abide by the no call list), so I have a new tactic - I let Adam answer and hit all the buttons he wants!

I don't mind giving to charities, but seriously - do they all have to call only at Christmas? I can't do them all at once, but I might do more if they'd SPREAD IT OUT!!! They drive me nuts in their one mindedness for "Christmas giving." So this year, I've decided (of the ones I actually answer) that I'm only doing ones that don't use paid services as if they have enough money for that, they don't need my money. I realize why some of them do it, but hey, they are big enough then for me to ignore.

Adam and the Christmas Plane

I recently bought this at Hallmark and Adam loves to play with it. I've got it so he's figured out to restart it!

Kleenex Attack!

Ohio and Friends

I don't mind Ohio most days, but Ray and I still have problems fitting in here. It is just most of the events around here aren't our style. We aren't wine people or the like. So it is hard to find someplace to hang out or make friends. I find it even harder since I work from home. I've met most of my friends through Ray's work. Ray hasn't been able to find a game store close enough and most of the bookstores are also pretty far. Adam is still too young for library hour, so while we have one in our town that doesn't help yet. We have a scrapbooking store in town, but not a crafts one (the nearest one is quite far again). While I only do a little scrapbooking (Adam's baby book which I'll finish at some point), I tried stopping there to see what they offer. First, I'd been there once and wasn't too impressed by what they carried, but thought I'd try again. While they do have open scrap times, the owner made it pretty clear that Adam wouldn't be welcome unless I was the only one in the store and since I want to make friends, this is pointless. I also again wasn't impressed by her stock. I also just am not interested in places where my kids aren't welcome. While I understand some moms are terrible about keeping their kids under control, I work really hard to do that, so I find it offensive when someone assumes I wouldn't or that my son would be a "problem." AGHH! In general, I've found small business around here to be rude and not too up on what is needed in the community. They also tend to be rude to anyone from the university. That's the main reason we don't live in Kent. My church community also isn't that great - I shouldn't have to BEG to volunteer - how stupid is that?

Okay, enough belly aching. Once Adam is old enough for playgrounds and some type of preschool, I'm sure I'll meet people that way, but for the moment, it is hard for me. I also think I have a tough time because I never had to - I grew up where I had tons of relatives and friends I'd known since elementary school.

Prints Charming

This book goes with the Sisters, Ink books I've been reading and while this is technically part of the series, it really isn't. This one is about a group of women who actually start the company, but then in Sisters, Ink they sell it to the four sisters the rest of the books are about (and there seems to be no connection between the two groups), so it really doesn't go with the rest, if you know what I mean. It was cute and entertaining, but I definitely like the other two better as I'm a big series fan.

Do DVD companies hate us?

Seriously, why is so hard to start a baby DVD? The whole point is you need to distract your child for a few minutes (like to finish eating lunch or something) and you don't want to spend 10 minutes starting it! You have go through all the "warnings" and stuff just to get to the menu and then once you start it, they have previews - it is for BABIES - they don't want previews! I know they are trying to sell to me, the mother, but seriously, it makes it NOT want to buy it!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Christmas Shopping

I'm almost done! I actually just have Ray left and am bidding on something on Ebay in secret (no, I'm not posting what as I know Ray checks this at times) and if I win, I'm done. I put a big order on Wal-Mart a few days ago to finish up. I ordered some photo gifts and believe me by the time I was done, I was SICK of Wal-Mart. I went to a lot of trouble to pick out good pictures, crop them, etc., first and then I get in there and they don't like some of them! Since I haven't done some of these gifts before I don't know if they are full of it, so I have to pick new took forever, but I did get them off. I also ordered my Christmas cards (I'm doing photo ones this year cause Adam is so cute) and just have to write the letter to copy now (my mother is against this, but I like it and I like reading other people's - it is my chance to catch up each year on everyone!). I ended with a regular photo order for some gifts I bought that I'm putting photos in myself. So wish me luck on Ebay so I'm done! I actually started my own Ebay account last year just so I can buy things there without Ray knowing (the same reason he always buys my gifts with cash) - I've used it once before - last year!

I have friends coming over tonight to work on crafts that I need to finish by Christmas. Have fun everyone and good luck this Christmas season!

Christmas Giving

We always do a few specific donations each Christmas. First, we always do a donation to Heifer International. I really like this charity because it is a gift that keeps giving and education on raising the animals go with it. We did a share of a water buffalo this year - hey, if some others also donate, we can get a whole one bought!

We also always do Toys for Tots. We always buy board games because we figure that is a gift that a family can all enjoy and has staying power. Wal-Mart actually had some great games on sale (Chutes and Ladders, Candy Land and Yahtzee!) so we bought three games and donated this year.

This year we are also doing our church's angel tree. We've done this in some years and decided to do it again this year. My one shock was that basic CD players are pretty expensive now, but I think that's because no one buys them anymore - always fancy stuff now!

We give throughout the year what we can, but at Christmas there is always more that needs to be done and I think the first two charities really do a lot of good in the world. I encourage everyone to pick something to do for someone else this Christmas!

Aria Allum

Congrats to our friends, Tye and Jill on their brith of their little girl - Aria!

Adam Hanging Out

Adam running around the parking lot
Adam and Uncle Adam