Sunday, January 27, 2008

Greeting Cards

I've been thinking about, and planning, a greeting card making day for about two years now. I've been gathering and collecting papers and embellishments for a long time. I also happened on some greeting card kits and purchased a few of them to add to the mix. was the day! I gathered up all of the goodies and headed up to mom and dad's where mom and I began this fun - but somewhat overwhelming! - project. All told, I made 30 cards and mom made 12. Deb couldn't be there for this round, but there are still PLENTY of cards to be made. They turned out so cute! I can hardly wait for a special occassion to roll around to pop one of these gems in the mail.

Orange-Cranberry Bundt Cake

I've been meaning to post this recipe for about two weeks and I just keep forgetting. Shortly after Christmas I had about three quarters of a container of orange-cranberry relish left over. I didn't want it to go to waste, but wasn't quite sure what I should do with it. We tried it by itself and on biscuits, but it was a bit too tart for our taste. Well as luck would have it, I was thumbing through the December issue of Woman's Day magazine one last time before I passed it along, and I found this recipe on the last page!

I changed it a bit -- added a bit more of this, a bit less of that -- and I made a substitution so that I could use the cranberry relish instead of regular cranberries. I also made my own glaze topping instead of the one they had printed in the article. It was fantastic! I was so pleased - and surprised! - at how well it turned out. Try it as is, or dream up some substitutions of your own. Either way, it's a delicous afternoon pick-me-up with a nice, hot cup of tea.

Orange Cranberry Bundt Cake

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons grated orange zest
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 container (about 10 ounces) orange-cranberry relish

2 cups confectioners' sugar
2-3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon grated orange zest

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter and flour a bundt pan, shaking out excess flour; set aside. Cake: Combine butter and sugar in a mixing bowl; cream until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and mix well, scraping the sides of the bowl after each addition. Add vanilla and orange zest. Mix well. Combine the flour, salt and baking powder on a large sheet of wax paper. Add half to the butter mixture in the bowl, stir; then the cranberr relish, stir; then the remaining flour mixture. Mix well to combine. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake at 350 for about 45 minutes. Reduce temperature to 325 degrees and bake another 15-20 minutes until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove to a wire rack to cool. Glaze: In a medium sized bowl, blend confectioners' sugar, orange juice and zest. Stir until smooth. When cake is cool, spoon glaze over cake allowing it to drip down the sides. YUM!!

...the gang's all here

Hail! Hail!!

It's been a wet, wild and wacky weather week here in southern California. During just this past weekend we had far more rain than we had all season last year. We're drenched! The pipes in the front and back yards are still being worked on so the trenches are filling up with water. Who knows when it will be dry enough for them to complete the new pipes...

...and on Wednesday...HAIL! Now that's a true rarity here. Not to mention all of the snow that topped the San Gabriel mountains. It is just beautiful!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Off to a good start

Well, we're a little more than three weeks in to January - a little less than three weeks after we found out the landlord is going to sell our house - and so far, we're doing quite well! We've set a goal of how much money we'd like to have saved by the end of this calendar year to put towards our house. We are thinking that we will start looking for a house around March or April of 2009, so we'll have several months next year to save for this goal as well. As it stands, we have so far accumulated 6.8% of our goal!

Additionally, we've been educating ourselves about buying a home. We're finding information at every turn - the business section of the newspaper, our credit union, real estate magazines, online articles. Every time we turn around we find another piece of interesting and useful information. We have a lot to learn before we make our purchase -- thankfully, we've got the time to learn. Everything we read indicates that the housing market will fall even more this year and well in to next year. That's a benefit to us.

Patience is the hard part.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

A burst of color

It was so nice to see this burst of color on the front porch Saturday morning in an otherwise gloomy front yard. As you could see in the photos (see other post), we're having a bit of a plumbing problem - or rather, I should say our neighbor is having a bit of a plumbing problem. Since our water pipes are connected somewhere, the plumber is digging up our yard to find the connection. Not fun - and certainly not attractive. Something about that yellow caution tape is a bit off-putting - don't you think? Anyway, it was nice to see this beautiful fuschia color glimmering in the sunlight.

Who's the handsome man behind that drum kit...

Kevin had a gig this past Thursday night at a small venue called 'The Bulldog Pub'. It was with a 'new' band made up of old friends and former bandmates from various bands. They were fantastic! ...especially that drummer ;0)

Giant moles?

...or an over zealous plumber. You decide.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

General Thoughts

Well it's hard to believe, but we're already in week two of 2008. A new year brings new opportunities, and we're so looking forward to them! Last Wednesday we found out that our landlord is putting our house up for sale. While not a complete surprise (it's a very old house that has not seen it's share of required structural maintenance -- and is now making up for lost time), it's still a bit of a shock. We were offered the first opportunity to purchase the property; however, in light of the many maintenance issues pending, declined the offer. Because there are two units on this property, it's listed as investment property so, according to the realtor, in all likelihood, we'll be able to stay on as tenants in the home we currently occupy. That's good news! And, while we do plan to stay on for a while (about a year and a half, God willing), we will be squirreling away as much money as possible to take the plunge -- buy a house of our own!

With these changes on the horizon, we are looking forward to a year filled with creative opportunities to save money and enrich our lives. God is good and I know He will be with us every step of the way guiding us on our journey. Your good wishes and prayers for our journey are greatly appreciated! We're keeping our eyes on the prize...