Sunday, November 30, 2008

Post Turkey Talk

Thanksgiving is over and as holidays go, it was a fairly quiet one. Our small gathering included Kevin and myself, my parent's and my mother in law. Debbie, Bill, P and D couldn't make it this year as three of the four were down with strep throat. OUCH! Though it was quiet, it was very enjoyable - and the food was delicious! Kevin took a photo of the table before the food was added...
Thanksgiving night my mother in law spent the night at our house. We had a great time! We drank hot tea and played Scattergories. It was a nice way to end a wonderful day.

The next day, mom and I got together and made peanut brittle -- a longstanding Maxwell family tradition. It was fun making the candy in mom and dad's newly remodeled kitchen. Here are a few photos to share...

All in all, it was a pretty successful day of candy making. We ended up with 25 cellophane bags that each contain about a half pound of peanut brittle. Were we tired? Uh...YES!

The rest of the weekend Kevin and I have been preparing for Christmas. Kevin took down our Christmas boxes from the garage while I was gone on Friday. So Saturday and today we've been busily working inside and out putting up Christmas decorations. Those photos will come a bit later in the week. For now ... homemade turkey soup!! I took the turkey carcass home on Thanksgiving and made a huge pot of turkey stock yesterday while we were decorating. Mmmmm ... the house smelled delicious! The final tally was a BIG pot of turkey soup, plus 3 2-cup containers of turkey stock for the freezer. Lots of winter soups headed our way! The final product was delicious. Kevin and I each had a bowlful for lunch. YUM!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

"Thanksgiving is the holiday of peace, the celebration of work and the simple life... a true folk-festival that speaks the poetry of the turn of the seasons, the beauty of seedtime and harvest, the ripe product of the year - and the deep, deep connection of all these things with God." ~Ray Stannard Baker

Wishes to you all for a wonderful Thanksgiving. I hope you all enjoy a peaceful, relaxing time with your family.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thanksgiving Hot Drink Bar

So, since it's our last day of school before the Thanksgiving holiday, I thought it would be fun to host a hot drink bar for the staff at breaktime. Jeff, Rod, and Linda thought it sounded like a fun idea, too, so that's what we did.

Pumpkin spiced latte, anyone?
How about a hot chocolate?
Cranberry apple cider?
If one of those isn't your ideal hot beverage, how about just a plain 'ol cuppa coffee?
Whatever your choice, Happy Thanksgiving!

The staff loved this! It was such a huge hit I think we'll need to make it a new tradition.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Take me out to the...STADIUM!

Wow, what a week it's been! It started off with both of us having a nasty bout of stomach flu at the beginning of the week. UGH! I highly recommend that you avoid it at all costs! We slowly recovered throughout the week just in time to enjoy Kevin's birthday on Friday.

What was Kevin's birthday gift? Oh nuthin' really ... just Dodger Stadium! Well, to be a bit more specific, LA Under the Lights at Dodger Stadium. It was an amazing event where participants could take batting practice on the field; pitch; shag balls in the outfield; play catch on the field; run the bases; tour the locker room; sit in the dugouts, meet Russell Martin & Andre Ethier; have dinner; listen to music; have a professional photograph taken... All in all, it was a pretty amazing night. Kevin and I both thoroughly enjoyed every single moment. Here are a few photos:

Our name in lights...

"Am I really HERE?"

Me in the Dodger dugout...

Kevin and Russell Martin...

Me holding up my 1988 World Series program and ticket against the backdrop of the 1988 World Series trophy!

Kevin, ever the umpire, throwing me outta the game...

It was a fantastic night - one we'll both remember for the rest of our lives. We had a blast! Happy birthday my dearest, darling Kevin. I love you with all of my heart and am so thankful that you're my husband.

Thirty nine things I love about you...

1. your smile; 2. your wicked sense of humor; 3. your compassion; 4. your snore (though I'll deny it!); 5. your sense of pride in all you do; 6. your sensitive side; 7. your gentle nature; 8.'re a DRUMMER!; 9. we share a love of baseball; 10. your sense of adventure; 11. the fact that you fret; 12. the fact that you get excited and nervous before every game you umpire; 13. ice cream Lieutenant Dan!; 14. you tuck me in bed every night; 15. your love of family; 16. your willingness to do whatever it takes to get the job done; 17. you love my cooking; 18. the warmth of your hand in mine; 19. our carpet picnics; 20. you are so kind to everyone; 21. your big, beautiful brown eyes; 22. your crazy clues when you're trying to get me to guess something; 23. haircuts... every two weeks whether you need them or not; 24. taking me to 'play with puppies'; 25. feetsie rubs; 26. sharing snowman soup; 27. emails... and lots of 'em; 28. sharing stories with me that you've read; 29. encouraging me and being my biggest fan; 30. your willingness to share kitchen duties; 31. PYRENEES!; 32. listening to my crazy ideas and not thinking I'm crazy; 33. loving me even though I am crazy; 34. Moron...idiot!; 35. dude, love the sentiment ... lose the clothes!; 36. taking me to the Apple Farm; 37. your warmth - inside and out; 38. knowing that, no matter what else is going on, we're always exactly where we should be...together!; 39. I love the fact that I'm married to my best friend - now and always.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Variation on a Theme

I've been thinking about making these for a while and just haven't gotten around to doing it. Well, tonight was the night I did it - I finally (!) put them all together. Tomorrow we will see my parents in the morning for an investment club meeting that will be held in their home, and then in the evening, we'll be heading over to my mother in law's home to have dinner and celebrate her birthday. Since I wanted to make one for each of them, I figured this would be the perfect time.

I'd seen a version of these last year in the December issue of Better Homes and Gardens, and thought they were so cute and clever...and EASY! Then, just before we left for winter break last year, I received this one from our PTA president as a Christmas gift. When I started thinking about them, I knew the possibilities were endless and I began thinking of all of the different things I could do when making them. Well, here's the first round:

I bought a ton of Christmas ornaments last year at Michael's after Christmas, so I already had these in my stash. Then, last weekend I went to my favorite thrift store to see what I could find. Jackpot! (I just love that store - I can find nearly anything I'm looking for there...and lots of things I'm not looking for, too!) I found these wonderful Chinese lacquered trays - the perfect shade of rust for a fall arrangement - for just fifty cents each. Then, I spied the tiny little Chinese tea cups on another counter and went to check them out. Score! They, too, were just fifty cents each. One set of the tea cups was the perfect size for a pair of tapers, while the other set was just right to hold a pair of tea lights. The fall flowers and (unusual) hibiscus pods I picked up at Trader Joe's this afternoon.

They're phenomenally easy to put together: remove the cap and hanging wire from the ornament; hot glue the ornament to your chosen surface. Fill the ornament three-quarters full of water and add your flowers, arranging as you wish. When finished, hot glue candle holders as desired. Add candles.

I think they turned out well. One thing I can say, though, is buy more flowers for the arrangement than you think you'll need. Why? Because you're trying to force a fair amount of flowers into the very small opening at the top of the bulb, the flowers heads tend to break off as you push the stems in.

Go ahead. Ask me how I know.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Holiday Mania!

I'm just finishing the last of a four-day weekend and I've been the busiest little bee getting ready for the holidays! I've got lots of little projects in the works and I took this opportunity to finish up as many as I could. Actually, I did quite well and I'm so pleased with the progress! Many things were finished in their entirety and others progressed nicely, but still have a few things to do before being completed.

Yesterday I made three big batches of cookie dough and stashed it in the freezer for the annual Holiday Cookie Bake-Off with Deb which will be here before we know it. WHEW! When I say big batches of cookie dough, I'm not kidding! I began mixing at 12:15 yesterday afternoon and finally finished at 4:00...when I promptly plopped myself down on the couch and refused to move for the next hour. No matter - I'm glad it's done, and I'm grateful that I had the time to finish up this project before things became too hectic and crazy - as it always does around the holidays!

Here are the chocolate chip cookies (yes dad, they've got LOTS of walnuts in them!).
I find it a huge time saver to freeze the cookie dough once it's been scooped into individual cookies. That way you can just take the bag out of the freezer and place each scoop of cookie dough on the baking sheet and bake them off; no worries about waiting for it to thaw before you can scoop the dough into cookies. I also made a big batch of chocolate crinkles and a big batch of molasses crinkles. YUM! Just the smell of all of that cookie dough gave me a wonderful sugar rush!

Sunday, November 09, 2008


Today was a perfect fall Sunday afternoon. It rained last night so everything was nice and fresh this morning when we went out for our walk. But it was cold (!) and later turned quite blustery. We lazed around the house this morning just relaxing and reading the paper. This afternoon we decided to go look at a few houses. We're not quite ready to make the move to purchase anything yet, but it's getting closer and there were a few houses that have just recently listed so we thought we'd go take a look. Not bad, but...we're definitely glad we're still waiting! The cutest house was actually in an area that we like, but that particular house is much to close to the freeway and there was way too much noise. Oh well, time is still on our side.

When we got home, I wanted to make something for dessert that matched my fall mood - and also isn't drowning in fat calories. What fits the bill? Gingerbread! I haven't had any for a long time and it sounded wonderful. So there you have it - tonight after dinner, we'll have a nice warm square of gingerbread and a dollop of light whipped cream. Mmmmm...I can hardly wait for dessert!!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Voting Day

So today is the day - finally! After nearly two (LONG) years of campaigning, today is decision day. I don't know about you, but I'll be so glad to not have to listen to political commercials!

No matter who you choose to cast your ballot for, please do remember to get out there and vote today. It's both an honor and a priviledge. Besides, how can you NOT feel patriotic standing there in line with your fellow citizens to cast your vote? Just thinking about it almost sends a shiver down my spine!

God bless America, indeed.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Turning 50

Today we celebrated Debbie's 50th birthday. Fifty? How did that happen??
We had a wonderful celebration! Just the family and a party at mom and dad's house and a yummy dinner. Thanks, mom and dad, for hosting ... and cooking! Every thing was delicious.

Mom and I had fun decorating the house before the LaLa's arrived... ...and we all had a great time watching Deb open her gifts.

As some of you may know (mostly because I was looking for help with ideas!), the gift that Kevin and I gave Deb was somewhat out of the ordinary. We figured that, since you only turn 50 once, and because it is a monstrously significant birthday, you really should have fifty ... gifts ... of fifty different things ... in the amount of ... fifty. Right? Yep, that's right: fifty pennies, fifty (Hershey's) kisses, fifty stickers, fifty feathers, fifty fortune cookies, fifty - well, you get the idea...

I'm not sure who enjoyed going through the box of gifts more: Deb, or P and D...
Why is it that, once taken from the box, you can never get anything to go back in quite the same way?
Mom made a photo album filled with of pictures of Deb from the time she was a baby through today. It was a huge hit! I don't think the boys have ever seen any of the older family photographs and they were having a blast looking on with Deb as she explained what was going on in each of the pictures, how old she was, where the photo was taken, etc.

It was a very special day for a very special person. We love you Deb! And hope that the next fifty years are as wonderful as the past fifty have been. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!