Monday, December 31, 2007

We'll take a cup of kindness yet

Tonight we have plans to hang out with friends at their apartment, order pizza, talk and drink too much. We've hung out with them on NYE the past three years. I plan on drinking either Woodchuck Granny Smith or a concoction of champagne/pineapple juice/triple sec.

When I was younger time d r a g g e d on it seemed but as with everyone, the older you get the more quickly time passes. In January of this year Doug and I began the enormous task of house-hunting and by end of the month we had put in an offer. In February our stomachs were in knots waiting for the mortgage paperwork to process, we finally closed on the 23rd and we spent our 3rd wedding anniversary moving into the house.

In March and April we did a lot of small house repairs, including painting the master bedroom, doing some landscaping, etc. We bought a gas grill and had cookouts with friends. In May and June we bought new bicycles (that we have yet to ride, oops). Doug built an Adirondack chair for the patio, I planted some more flowers and we tried to avoid the impending heat.

In July Doug left for a month to work in Singapore and I stayed at home and kept the house running and tried to stay cool. In August he came back and the temperatures reached 106F degrees. In the middle of the month we took a short vacation to the beach in Florida. We also tried another IUI, which failed. In September we took another short trip to Chicago and also drove to Milwaukee to see a Brewer's game.

In October we decorated for Halloween and waited for cooler weather (it took awhile). In November we hosted Thanksgiving and in December we decorated for Christmas, shopped and I did a whole lot of baking.

We hope to have just as good a year in 2008 but hopefully a little bit better. Maybe this will finally be the year we become parents, Doug's book will get published and we'll pay off the credit cards. Maybe.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Ham, chocolate, ham, ham, chocolate......

Christmas seems to not only be a holiday for spending money you don't have on things you don't need but also for eating things you shouldn't. Last Saturday night I had a very small pre-Christmas gathering of about 4.5 people. I made a spiral sliced ham, as well as some other things. I sent ham home with people but at the end of the night we still wound up with a lot of leftover ham. Add this to the FLOOD of boxes of chocolates we've received as gifts and you have a lethal combination. I've eaten mostly ham and chocolate for five days now. This is most unhealthy.

As Christmas approached I did a bounty of gift-baking. Including these boxes of Cornmeal-Cherry Cookies, Chocolate/White Chocolate Fudge and Chocolate Shortbread. I put them in clear treat bags and then put those inside of .79 cent kraft boxes from Michael's with green ribbon (also bought at Michael's) and some Martha tags (again from Michael's). They were really pretty and well received. I also made Jam Thumbprints for my in-laws and Cream Cheese Meltaways for my grandmother. The best part was I got to use one of my early Christmas presents, a new Kitchen Aid hand mixer. It's not the pink Artisan stand mixer of my dreams but it's a complete upgrade from my old Proctor Silex hand mixer I've used since I moved out on my own (in July of 2001).

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Thrill is Gone and a Lesson in Butter

Why is it that as a child everything seems so much bigger, happier, fancier, more fun? Around the holidays I always think back to how exciting the Christmas was to me as a child. I grew up with a single-mom who never had a lot of money but we still had really nice holidays thanks to several generous aunts and uncles as well as grandparents. For years, my mom’s brother would go chop down a real Christmas tree for us. We’d decorate it with an assortment of Wal-Mart ornaments and things my brother and I made in school. My mom made lots of fudge and peanut butter balls and we ate way too much summer sausage and cheese. My grandparents would always take us to this church-sponsored Christmas light thing, where you could sit on Santa’s lap and ride around in a little train and look at the religious-themed light displays. There were Christmas concerts as school, velvet dresses, stockings at our house and our grandparents house, so much food and general excitement over the impending holiday. Because we were ‘children of divorce’ we had several different stops to make. Christmas Eve was spent at my absentee father’s parent’s home, were we ate with extended family and got to open presents. Christmas morning was spent at our house, waking up at the crack of dawn to tear into our gifts. Christmas day we went to our maternal grandparents and to our great-grandparent’s home until they passed away. My grandmother, Nannie, made tons of pies with names like “Millionaire Pie” and “Chess Pie”. My brother and I were the only grandchildren for 13 years so we had 13 years of pestering everyone to hurry up and eat so we could open our gifts.

These days my great-grandparents and both of my grandfathers have long since passed away. I’m married and live 45 minutes away, my brother and I gave up our ‘only grandchildren’ status to our twin cousins, now 13, and their sister, almost 10. I really love Christmas, and every year since I moved out on my own I’ve done my best to enjoy it. Tons of decorating, baking like there’s no tomorrow, faithfully watching my favorite Christmas movies and television specials, but nothing seems to recapture those same feelings I had as child. I hope that when I have children of my own I can create those memories with them and maybe recapture some of those old feelings.

Now, about the butter, I was craving some home-baked goodness last night and decided to bake a batch of chocolate-chip cookies with a recipe on the back of the Ghirardelli chocolate chip bag. Now I should have known I was in for trouble when the recipe called for 2 sticks of butter, yes 2 sticks! Instead I happily ignored it, mixed up the batter and ended up with a lovely batch of chocolate chips and pecans surrounded by a melted pool of buttery batter. I ate one and immediately felt my arteries clogging. Next time I’ll know, don’t use 2 sticks of butter no matter what the bag says.