Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Househusband to the Rescue

Tonight, I literally walked in the house from work to this:
That's right, my own personal chef ready to serve me dinner (with wine) the second I walked in the door. Salad, sauteed squash and shepherds pie. Careful or I'm going to start expecting this everyday!

This is another short work week for me. We get Thursday off for New Year's since it falls on a Friday (and we don't work Fridays anymore). I have a lunch and shopping date with Mum at 1:00 on Thursday for our postponed girls day. Then that night Chris and I are going to the wedding of one of my co-workers. It's a wedding/New Year's party all in one. Should be fun.

We didn't get much accomplished over our 4 day Christmas weekend. Pretty much sat around, watched TV and drank beer (at least the Canadian did). I did get a birthday card made for a co-worker though.
And another page in my scrapbook. It was for the bridal party my co-workers threw for somebody you don't know, blah, blah, blah..
I see, it's going to be one of "those" nights where all my photos want to merge in sideways. Whatever.

Mom, never one to stop exploring strange new liquor stores in the pursuit of beer, came by my work on Monday and dropped off another six pack of adventure for the Canadian to sink his teeth into.
I think he had the Shipyard IPA last night, which he'd had as part of his advent calendar, but I'm sure he'll be delving into the rest of the beertopia soon.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Candlemas

Rousing from our slumber at the wee hours of the morning, around 8:30 am, we pattered out to the Christmas tree to see what Santa had left us. The theme of the Canadian's gifts seemed to be beer and meat.
While mine were candles.
Everybody got me candles. Everybody. It was actually kind of funny.

There were other gifts too, like cookbooks and food goodies. We got so much food that we decided not to make our crockpot dinner and just snack on our Christmas goodies instead. We made a plate of cheese, sausage and pretzels and washed it down with the raspberry lambic (super fruity beer/malt beverage) from Wilson.

Mom came over this morning and had a breakfast of gingerbread waffles and bacon with us while showering us with more gifts. One of the candle sets Mom got me was called Frankincense and Myrrh and I've been burning some this morning. It smells delightful. Very spicy and reminds me of the holidays.

I love that it's only Friday. We have another whole two days to sit on our butts and eat cookies and sausage! I think we may try to make it over to the movies this weekend. Watch a little Sherlock Holmes. It looks like a good one to see in the theater. Lots of action. Just like our life!

Hope everybody enjoys their Christmas weekend!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve

Mum did not disappoint with dinner tonight. Delicious open faced crab sandwich, fresh pineapple and a green salad.
After dinner we played Santa and passed our gifts around. I got a black cashmere turtleneck and Chris got a plaid shirt from Mum.
A great surprise from Mr. A. was the hand drawn/colored drawing of the Vee.
We're putting it up on the wall to the left of the beer shelves in the dining room.

We also got a nice bag of food goodies from Harry & David. Flavored coffee, chicken noodle soup mix, cheese dip, olive salsa, dip (spinach, dill & sun dried tomato) mixes, scone mix and flavored coffee sprinkles. Mum loved her new calendar and the mugs/wine glasses I got that matched the color and theme of their house.

After presents Mum plated up some homemade banana cream pie and ice cream. She even made us some decaf in the new mugs I got her.
Now we're just winding down, watching a little Samantha Brown on the travel channel. Gotta get to bed at a decent time so that Santa can come leave the rest of my presents and so that we don't sleep through Christmas. Don't laugh, without children to wake you up, it's totally possible!

Christmas with C.

Chris and I went up to visit C. and the boys today to bring them all the gifts their little hearts desired. Susan called me at the crack o' dawn this morning (i.e. 9:00 a.m.) with a last minute plea for us to come an hour early, at noon, to watch the boys while she served lunch downstairs because her babysitter couldn't come. So, to entertain ourselves, Andrew and Connor challenged us to a Cars board game which ended in Andrew being a sore loser over getting bad rolls and refusing to give the dice to Uncle Chris. Good times.
We were also introduced to the newest member of the Smith family, Big Boy. A ginormous cat given to them by one of the elderly residents downstairs. Big Boy's numerous talents include sleeping, purring and inhaling unhealthy amounts of food. The boys demonstrated how tolerant Big Boy was of their prodding, poking and kicking of him which only caused Uncle Chris to sweep (heft) him up into his protective arms to keep him away from over zealous little hands and feet.
"Can we keep him?"
(C.)"I think he wants to go home with you"

We let the boys open our gifts before we left much to their excitement.
We got Connor a 12 piece puzzle of construction equipment and Andrew an activity book with a erasable pen. As soon as Andrew opened his present he asked "can I open the other one now?" I told him that was his present. He was not impressed, but Uncle Chris took it and showed him how to do the puzzles and how he could erase the pen marks when he was done. That caught his attention.

Susan gave us a really cool set of picture frames that match nicely to the ones in the living room of the motorcycles. We've been wanting to put some pictures up in the hallway between the craft room and our bedroom.

We're heading to the 'rents this evening for crab sammiches and a present swap. Chris put his money on used tools and clothes, while my gifts should prove fashionable and more expensive compared to his...and that's all that matters!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Cookie Swap

Tonight was bible study at my house. I made a baked penne pasta with roasted veggies that was a huge hit. I think it was the melted fontina and smoked mozzarella cheese in it. Thank you, Giada, for a recipe winner. For dessert we had a Kahlua cream cheese pie from Marie Callenders that I got with mom's free pie coupon from work.
It was as good as it sounds and looks.

After the study we brought out our dozens and dozens of cookies and swapped all around. Lulu even made a special plate of nut-free cookies for Chris. How spoiled!
I ended up with quite a haul of goodies.
That's not even all of it. We made a separate plate for Chris to take to work to share and I pulled some out for the 'rents, too. Plus there's two bags full of the wafer cones and the brown butterflies (both Swedish cookies from Kari) and a baggie of caramel corn from Steve, Kari's husband. That's in addition to our keepers from my weekend baking. We need to arrange cookie exchanges more often!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Professional Wrap Job

I can't believe I forgot to mention that I was actually treated to lunch by my baby sis on Friday after Mum called off our shopping/lunch date at the last minute due to a mysterious virus (Chris said she just doesn't like me). We went to Olive Garden for soup, salad and breadsticks and I actually had to capture this historic moment on film lest no one believed me.
Throwing down her plastic, just like a big girl. She's growing up so fast...*sniff, sniff*.

Today I made the last batch of cookies for our bible study exchange. They were Sugar & Spice Espresso Cookies. Instant espresso powder in the batter and in the sugar and spice sprinkling, each topped with a chocolate covered espresso bean. Buzz, buzz.
Then I spent the better part of the afternoon putting together gift bags of cookies (with the extras not needed for bible study) to pass out during the week. One for Susan, the 'rents, some co-workers, our janitor at work, Mom, Wilson, and my other daughter Raquel. I did manage to hold on to two or three of each kind for us, too.

In our church programs this morning there was a list of all the poinsettias in the sanctuary that had been purchased by congregation members in memory of someone.
I got one for Grandma. See, it's fourth from the bottom. When Christmas is over, they'll be donated to care homes.

While I was at church this morning Chris did his Christmas present wrapping. Can you guess which one he did?
I guess my mistake was leaving all the wrapping paper sitting on top of the Sunday paper on the couch. I can see how you'd get easily confused....??

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas Countdown

This week was our Christmas potluck at work. Slightly downgraded from last year's catered lunch, but still delicious. I like potlucks because I like to try everybody's crazy recipes.

For my bible study we're doing a cookie exchange so I spent some time today making some of my cookies. We're only supposed to make 2 dozen of one kind, but I couldn't make up my mind so I'm bring 2 dozen of three different cookies. Today I made Chai Snickerdoodles and Chocolate Gingersnap cookies.
To pacify the Canadian, since I'm giving all these away, I made us our own batch of cookies. They're espresso shortbread cookies. They're topped with crushed chocolate covered espresso beans. You look like a dirty hobo after you eat them because they leave your teeth full of coffee sediment. Sexy.

The heater didn't have to come on today because I kept the house so toasty from all my kitchen escapades which felt great when we got back from our chilly winter walk where I managed to find, and walk through, the only piece of dog poo in the whole neighborhood.

Tomorrow is my Sunday to sing and I get to sing lots of Christmas songs. I'm dusting off my fancy oriental jacket from Jessica to sing and dance in. It's such a memorable piece that I can only wear it once or twice a year.

Time to go, the Canadian has suddenly discovered he's starving and must be fed. Burritos and Spanish rice here we come!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Canadians hate coconut

I spent this afternoon whipping up another bar recipe from the Baking Bites website. Today was the Samoa bars (like the girl scout cookies). A shortbread base topped with a mixture of caramel and toasted coconut, then the bars are dipped in chocolate and drizzled on top with more chocolate. After all was said, done, and cooled, they really did taste like Samoa cookies.
The Canadian had a super sad face on though because he hates flaked coconut. I made him one little corner with just shortbread, caramel and chocolate, but in the face of 23 other bars his seemed so paltry to him. And, because he doesn't like to share, he is a sad puppy because I'm taking all the peppermint brownies and Samoas to work.

As part of the chocolate dipping process I had to place the bars on waxed paper and found that the wax paper in my drawer was actually out and needed to be replaced. This is the same waxed paper that Mom has had since we were kids. She brought it to me a couple of years ago when I needed some, but check out the package because you can't get anything that looks like this anymore! I'm kind of sad, it's practically family.

Today was Salvation Army Sunday so I was there serving dinner from 4-6:00 pm. We served open faced turkey sandwiches, potatoes, stuffing, lots of gravy and cranberry sauce. Everyone loved it. I was the gravy and cranberry girl so of course that was their favorite part. Or at least I like to think so. When I got home, I had my own kitchen worker hard at work whipping up our own Sunday feast.
His specialty of kielbasa and thinly sliced potatoes with a little bit of every spice in the cupboard.

I need to finish up the rest of our Christmas cards tonight. Of course after buying more photo paper the printer ran out of color ink. I can't win!! But now we're full of ink, paper, and adhesive so there's no stopping me now!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Adventures in Baking

Today was rainy, cold and dreary. That leads to two things; boredom and baking. The Canadian resorted to video games,
And I read old cooking magazines while I baked up a batch of brownies in the oven.
The brownies came out excellent. They're the Peppermint Cookies & Cream Brownies from the Baking Bites site that Jessica visits. They're basically brownies from scratch (i.e. lots of butter and chocolate) with chopped up peppermint oreos (from Trader Joe's) mixed in.
I put aside some for us and am taking the rest to work. Lord knows we don't need a whole 9x13 pan full (though Chris would disagree).

Since it never quit raining I made Chris brave the weather to check the mail. All for junk mail. Isn't that always the way!

I also spent a considerable amount of time locked away in my craft room pounding out our Christmas cards. I wanted them out in the mail on Monday which meant massive amounts of assembly this weekend, but I got it done.
Be on the lookout in your mailbox....

Friday, December 11, 2009

Christmas, Ceres Style

It has been wickedly cold all week with lows in the 20s and highs in the 40s. It makes it so hard to convince yourself to get out of bed in the morning when the thermostat reads like this:
And even though it's clear and sunny in the afternoon, it's only been maybe 40 degrees up in P-town. They even got snow on Monday while I was enjoying my day off at home. Brrr...

I went and got my hair trimmed up at Colleen's on Thursday and once I got north of Bille Rd there were still remnants of snow from Monday's storm all the way up to the driveway of the hairshop.

Since another storm was coming in last night it actually kept it "warm" enough to walk at 40 degrees. We've been meaning to get over to the cholo neighborhood down the street to see their Christmas splendor.
These are the same two houses that jointly decorate for Halloween, too.
Here I am in a long sleeve shirt, vest, fleece sweater, wool coat, leggings, jeans, two pairs of socks and of course a hat and scarf. I think I was waddling rather than walking with all those layers on.

Today I had the pleasure of grocery shopping in the rain. Who doesn't love that?! Thankfully I didn't fall in the parking lot while running in boots. One more stop later this afternoon to Safeway. An 8-piece fried chicken meal is the $5 Friday deal and the Canadian loves all things fried and meaty.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Another bad idea

The world needs these?? What am I saying, I'm just jealous I didn't think of it first!

Even though we didn't end up going to the last race of the season in Sonoma, I still had today off so I stayed home and enjoyed scorching 34 degree temps. I did run a couple of errands, hence the Snuggie photo, but I mainly hung out at home today watching TV and getting a little scrapbooking done. I finished a page about a pool party the girls at work had back in August.
The Canadian emailed me that he would probably be home early, coming straight from a job site, so I need to have the firemen out of here by then. Tonight's beer is called Midas Touch and it's some 2700 year old Turkish recipe dating back to the time of King Midas and their website said it goes good with baked fish or risotto so I picked up some breaded tilapia filets from S&S and a box of garlic and herb risotto mix with a side of asparagus. I've been scoping out the advent beers a week in advance so I can plan our dinners to compliment them. I should get some kind of gold wife star for that!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Thwarted by the Mormons

On Thursday my co-worker, Wendy, gave me a printout with some information about a free exhibit her church was having over the weekend. Her church being.....wait for it....the Mormon church. It's called the Creche Festival and is an exhibit of over 1000 Nativity scenes. The part that sold me was that it was at the Mormon church down the street from me by Safeway on East Ave. Oh, and that it was free. Since we were heading up to Magalia this afternoon for a funeral service for my dear friend, and bunko buddy Mary, I asked Chris to leave a little early so we could stop and look at the nativities first. After carefully reading the handout for the days and times we headed over there at about 2:40 pm. I saw some handwritten signs up so that I knew we were at the right church. We parked and cautiously went inside the lobby where I asked the gentlemen standing around where the nativities were. They pointed to a set of closed double doors and said they thought there were in there. Without hesitation I started off for the doors to check out the exhibit. That's when I heard Chris say,"sweetheart".... "sweetheart".... "SWEETHEART". "What??" as I turned around. Apparently somebody else had whispered in a voice only audible to dogs that they thought the exhibit didn't start until 4:30 pm and the room was closed until then. What? Um, you're little announcement printout specifically said Sunday 1-7 pm which was two hours shorter than the other three days it was open. They totally lied. Lied, lied, lied, lied. They could tell there was a Canadian in their presence and wouldn't let us in. Bah! But I did sneak a photo in front of the building otherwise nobody would believe me when I said I went to a Mormon church.
I'm smiling on the outside, but shooting lightening bolts at their little exhibit on the inside.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Thrift Store Finds

I told the Canadian today that come hell or high water we were going out today to finish shopping for props for this year's Christmas card photo. Our first stop was at the thrift store that's in the old Holiday Market store on Esplanade (just south of the Esplanade/East Ave intersection). We had some specific items on our shopping list, but got easily distracted at the myriad of awesomeness the store had to offer.
Sweet! Instead I settled on these two super cute and practically new pairs of sandals.
See those labels, Jessica?? Yeah, Mervyn's! $3.99 each with 30% off because it was Saturday. I don't remember Mervyn's ever having a sale like that.

Chris found his own piece of heaven there, too.
"You got to know when to hold 'em...know when to fold 'em....know when to walk away, know when to run.." Remember when Kenny Rogers did that song on the Muppets? They were in a train car playing cards singing it.

After the thrift store we went downtown to go to Bird in Hand. When we left out of the back door
to put our stuff in the car, we were so enticed by the delicious smells of food wafting from Johnnie's (right next door to Bird in Hand) that we decided to go there for lunch. I had a chicken spinach pizza and Chris had the fish and chips.
It was fabulously delicious, as per usual. I even took home half my pizza to enjoy later.

We spent the afternoon doing odd jobs around the house. Chris did some work on Tango and I finished up Kari's clock. We modge podged the front and back together and it's sitting on table with a pile o' books weighing it down while it dries. I'm so ready to be done with it.

Recently we picked up a Wine for Dummies book from B&N in our attempt to become conessieurs of wine. We try one new bottle a week and have a little wine journal that rates them. Our wine for this week was an Italian Lambrusco. It's a red wine that surprisingly had an almost sparkling wine fizziness to it. I'm not a red wine fan, but this stuff was fabulous. We enjoyed some glasses of it this afternoon with a little cheese and veggie plate.
If you see any, pick some up, I'm sure that you'll like it. Same with sweet Rieslings (white wine). Next week it's back to a white wine choice. I'm thinking a Pinot Grigio....

Friday, December 4, 2009

Santa's Little Wrapper

Wednesday was the blood drive in P-town at the Vet's hall. Last minute I decided to go over during my lunch. I think the temptation of the free holiday shirt was too much for me to pass up. My blood was so full of iron it sunk in the blink of an eye and tried to bust out the bottom of the jar. Thank you vitamin muffins I eat everyday (insert photo of me flexing my iron filled pythons).
Unfortunately the smallest size they brought was Large (??), but I refused to leave without my shirt, even if I have to belt it. We also got free Baskin Robbins coupons, like usual. I went and redeemed mine today for what else....daiquiri ice.

Even though it's my day off I convinced myself to get up relatively early at 8:00 am so that I could get crackin' on the grocery shopping and get a couple of errands done before the unclean masses descending upon me in their holiday shopping frenzy. I managed to stop at Old Navy, Target, Wally World, Cost Plus and CholoMaxx all before noon. I'm pretty impressed. I spent most of the afternoon wrapping presents. Ugh. After much deliberation and careful consideration I've come to the conclusion that I HATE wrapping presents. I can't cut a straight line of wrapping paper to save my life and I never seem to be able to find the tape dispenser once I've wrangled the paper into the perfect position. But once all is said and done I do like the festive way they hang out under the tree.
I'm cracking out one of my Cuisine cookbooks from Mum (translation: Cuisine=fancy) for dinner tonight. A spicy seafood pasta to go with today's beer, an IPA, which according to various websites goes well with seafood. Here's me crossing my fingers that I don't overcook the seafood!