Monday, December 29, 2008

Mmmm...Prime Rib!

So Kevin and I hosted Christmas eve dinner this year. It was FUN!! We had a great time setting everything up during the day and 'fancifying' the table.
We took a 'before' dinner photo: As you can see, everyone is looking very proper and 'photo worthy'. Then ... we opened our Christmas crackers and all bets were off:
Well yes, those are paper crowns we're wearing on our heads - why do you ask? What followed the paper crowns? Everyone telling the joke that was in their cracker, playing with the toys we each received - parachute men, whistles, frogs, click-clackers and other noisemakers. Oh yes, and we ate a fine and delicious dinner, too!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas Eve!

Merry Christmas eve, everyone!! Kevin and I have been very busy getting ready for the dinner we're hosting this evening. I'll post some photos later, but for now, I just wanted to stop in and wish everyone a very Merry Christmas! I hope you're all out there enjoying time spent with your families and loved ones.

~ Christmas Eve Dinner Menu ~

Baby Mixed Greens Salad

Prime Rib (with au jus and horseradish)

Stuffed Baked Potatoes

Creamed Spinach

Green Beans Almondine

Chocolate, Lemon and/or Tropical Sorbet

Sliced Lemon Pound Cake

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas Party 2008

Last night we hosted our annual Christmas caroling party. It was a blast! However, for the second year in a row, it was the caroling party at which we did not go out caroling. No matter - we stayed inside by the fire where it was nice and warm, visited, ate homemade chili and cornbread (thanks mom and dad!), constructed gingerbread houses ... and listened to other people sing Christmas carols on the holiday music station. All in all, it was a perfect night.

Let the building commence!

Team LaLa: Pat and Drew work out the ins and outs of construction Deb lends a helping hand Drew and Pat inspect the final results

Team Weir: Gram and Lill create a foundation
Brian helps with the finer points of construction Next comes cottage beautification Lilly shows off the final product - so proud!
Team Goegebuer: Bryn, Ian and Tracy work together to stabilize the roof Tracy works on structural issues while Bryn carefully contemplates the next decoration Bryn: next Design Star
Maybe next year we should bill the party as a Gingerbread House party ... and, who knows? We might go caroling!


You know, baking cookies always sounds like so much fun! So ... warm and comforting. And it is! ... in moderation, of course. However, moderation is not exactly what the cookie bake entails. What does it entail, you ask? Cookies - and LOTS of them.

Last Sunday Kevin and I baked cookies - and LOTS of them. I'd already made up batches of three different kinds of cookie dough a few weeks ago, scooped them into cookie dough balls and frozen them. Kevin pulled them out of the freezer last Sunday morning and decided that we needed one more batch of cookie dough to round out the mix. He got busy and whipped up a batch of (delicious!) snickerdoodles while I went grocery shopping. When I arrived home, he was already baking cookies. Mmmmm ... the house smelled so sweet and delicious!

It always starts out innocently enough. Line the baking sheet with parchment; place cookie dough on the parchment and bake. Halfway through, turn the cookies so that they bake evenly. Sounds perfectly easy - and it is! - except when you happen to be baking batch after batch after batch of cookies! That darn timer went off every five minutes ... for THREE hours! WHEW! Now that's a LOT of cookies!!

It was fun, though, and quite productive. We had (more than) enough cookies to supply Kevin's cookie exchange at work, the goodie tray I took to work, a few miscellaneous nibbles of our own throughout the week, a HUGE cookie platter for our Christmas party, and still enough to make up cookie bags for our families to take home.

Kevin's Super Snickerdoodles

1 cup butter (softened)
1.5 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups AP flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoon salt

Heat oven to 350. Set aside 1/4 cup of the sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of the cinnamon in a dry cereal bowl.

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla, beat until smooth. In a separate bowl, mix flour, cinnamon, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt until combined. Add dry ingredients to wet in small batches, mixing until each scoop is combined.

Make 1 inch balls of dough by rolling between your palms. Roll lightly in sugar and cinnamon to coat. Place 2 inches apart on parchment paper on a baking sheet. Bake for 5 minutes, turn sheet around front to back, and bake another 4 to 5 minutes. Remove to cooling rack. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Date Night

Last night Kevin and I went out on a date. A real live, honest to goodness date - we got all fancy schmancy and everything! One of the teachers at Kevin's school offered the staff free tickets to a fabulous Christmas concert, so we decided to turn the night into a special occasion.

First we enjoyed a delicious dinner at the Derby (one of my all-time favorite restaurants!) I have such wonderful memories of the Derby. We would have dinner there from time to time when I was growing up and it's always held a special place in my heart. Lots of memories there. The food was just as delicious as I remembered, albeit a LOT more expensive!!

Then, we enjoyed a CalPhil Christmas at the Civic Center. It was wonderful!! We love the CalPhil. We've attended many of their concerts during the summer at the Arboretum. The music is always fantastic and the Maestro - well, always entertaining to say the least. Sometimes the entertainment comes in the form of his driving Kevin crazy with all of his long-winded stories, but Victor Vener is definitely a master at what he does. And the Phil? Well, they are just always incredible. What a talented group of musicians.

Thanks, Kevin, for taking me on a date. And thanks for getting us home before I turned into a pumpkin!

Friday, December 12, 2008


How crazy am I? I’m already starting to think of things I can make for NEXT Christmas! It’s just that, at this time of year, I see so many fun creative things that others do that it makes me want to start now on new projects for next year!

One of the things I have on my mind is vintage Christmas fabric. Anyone know where I might be able to find any? I’ve got a bit in my stash, but I’d love more. If any of you are out and about in your travels happen to find a source, please let me know!

You know what really irritates me? (Well okay…a lot, but that’s another post.) What really irritates me is when I go along minding my own business and, lo and behold!, I find something fun and funky so I buy it. And because it’s a bit … er … obscure, it’s inexpensive (okay, cheap!). Then, all of a sudden I see it in a magazine somewhere and … BAM! … my affordable resources for said fun and funky item have dried up! Now, because it’s hip and trendy, I’m out priced when a year or so ago, no one would have looked twice at said fun and funky item. Hrmph. I hate it went that happens!

Anyway – off to find more fun and funky!

Monday, December 08, 2008

Sixteen pounds down ... and I'm not telling you how many more to go!

Yep, that's right...I'm sixteen pounds down. Or rather, I should say, I was until this morning's weigh in! I was really, reallllly good today so I'm sure that tomorrow morning I'll be back down at the 16 pound mark. What made my weight go up over the weekend? Oh nuthin' - just my birthday! Well technically the 'birthday' part had nothing to do with it - it was the 'what I ate over my birthday weekend' part that did me in.

It started Friday at work with the lemon tart. Mmmmm - delish! Then we all went out to lunch. Souplantation, so it wasn't tooooo bad, but still... Then it continued on Saturday. Meatloaf (thanks Dad!), mashed potatoes (thanks Deb!) and cabbage salads ala Northwoods Inn (they were SO yummy - thanks Mom!). And, of course, since we were having a Northwoods Inn type dinner, we had to have the cheese bread! Gotta love that Clearman's cheese spread! And, it was on THE BEST sourdough bread I've ever tasted (thanks to Vicky for bringing it, and thanks to Brian and Amanda for supplying it!). Oh, yeah and then the finale...carrot cake with homemade cream cheese frosting (thanks Mom!!!). Man! What a feast we had. It was wonderful! Then yesterday, Kevin and I had meatloaf sandwiches for lunch (YUM!) on grilled sourdough bread (again, YUM!) I swear those were the best sandwiches! We were in some sort of food Heaven ...until I went to weigh in this morning. YIKERS Oh well, birthdays only come once a year, right? And we should enjoy them! ...and I did, I did!

So to compensate, it was back to a hard Wii Fit workout. WHEW! I even broke down and tried boxing. Yeah, I know - we've had the Wii Fit since September (no rush, right?) and I've been too chicken to try the boxing. It always looks so complicated when Kevin does it, so I've just never tried it. Well - it is complicated! But it's also fun, not to mention a great work out. I can really feel it in my shoulders -- already! I can only imagine what they'll feel like in the morning. But...I just keep thinking about summertime and how good those Wii Fit boxing shoulders will look in a smart little sundress!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

I love it when a project comes together!

I started this project over the summer for my co-workers. I sort of put it on the shelf for a while, but now that it's getting a bit closer to Christmas, I figured I'd better get them finished up. I just love the way they turned out! I made five of them all together - they're all similar, but just a bit different ... just like the people who will receive them!

I took a plain photo album and covered it in Christmas fabric. I bought small wooden frames and painted them to match my Christmas fabric. Then I asked each recipient for a favorite family photo (not telling them why, of course!). Kevin scanned the photos into our computer, cropped them to the correct size to fit the frame and then we printed them on photo paper. I used hot glue to attach the photo to the back of the frame, then hot glued the frame onto the front of the photo album. I added a few paper poinsettia brads that I found at Michael's on either side of the frame. Inside the album I hot glued a vintage Christmas postcard (I found a wonderful stash of them on ebay!) and added another paper poinsettia for embellishment. Viola! A personalized family Christmas photo album. I hope the recipients enjoy them as much as I enjoyed making them!!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Decking the Halls

Kevin and I spent a good portion of this past weekend decorating our home for Christmas. I think I can finally say it's finished. I'd still like to get a few fresh garlands for doorways and a poinsettia here or there, but other than that ... done!

Sunday night we were both remarking how much we love our house all dressed up for Christmas. Everything just feels so warm and cozy. We just want to curl up in front of a warm fire and sip hot chocolate while listening to Christmas carols - or better yet, having Kevin read to me. Now that's a perfect night in!

Our every day living room colors are cranberry and gold, which we love, so we just carry this color scheme throughout the Christmas decorations. Here are a few examples:

The piano ... just waiting for someone to play "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas" (yeah, fat chance here in southern California!)
A simple centerpiece on the table - just a mercury glass bowl filled with ornaments and candlesticks on either side. A cranberry tablecloth makes a warm background...
The antique hutch and mirror that belonged to my grandmother...
The tree and just a few of my favorite decorations...
The sweet little gold and burgundy birds are a new addition this year - I just love them! I have eight of them on the tree
I love these sparkly acorns...
And these adorable little garden ornaments from Hallmark a few years back are among my favorites, too...

Kevin will be out tomorrow night so I think I'll start wrapping some gifts. Just me, a cup of hot cocoa, a little Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney in 'White Christmas' and I'll be a happy girl. I just love Christmas!