31 December 2009

Things I Love Thursday: New Years Eve Edition

Oh, New Years Eve, one of my favorites! Nothing screams New Years Eve like a nice cocktail. Forget the wine, never mind the beer – you need a nicely made, stiff drink to enjoy and fight that winter chill. This year I may not be enjoying such pleasures (jeez thanks a lot, baby). So I’m living vicariously through a list of my favorites:

Dirty Martini. Gin only, my friends (don’t mess with that vodka garbage). Extra dirty too, pretty please. Dear hubs has a special way of making them, chilling the glass with ice and then giving it a splash of vermouth, twirling the glass to get the interior coated, then dumping out the excess vermouth with the ice before filling with that lovely olive juice/gin goodness. Yeah, he makes a mean dirty martini. The gin and olive are such perfect companions. In my younger years I was quite the Sweet Cocktail sort of girl (sling, isn’t that the more appropriate term?). Not anymore – that pine-salty flavor, mmmm.

Gin and Tonic. Another simple one: tonic water, good gin, a squeeze of lime. My dear friend Anna shares my enjoyment of the Gin and Tonic. I know this fizzy thing is more a summer drink, but I have no problem drinking them year-round: it is a nice foil to all those heavy winter appetizers you’ll be snacking on New Years Eve.

Cucumber Dill Martini. I have no photo of this actual concoction to share, which is too bad. It is not always available, but on the rare occasion that it is on their cocktail menu you MUST order this drink at Pachamamas. They use a cucumber-infused vodka, poured over a large dill sprig, and garnish with a cucumber slice (rimming the glass with salt). It is AMAZING, salty and cucumber-y and a hint of dill. It sounds summery but the taste is surprisingly hefty. Good stuff.

Manhattan. Everyone has their favorite version, and I must admit I’m more of a bourbon girl when it comes to my Manhattans. Blame it on this charming boyfriend I once had, who introduced me to the fine world of bourbons: he taught me take it neat in a glass, and sip the amber liquid slowly to fully appreciate the flavor. Thanks for being such a great tutor Hubs darling, thanks to you the Manhattan is now truly my absolute favorite cocktail (the beauty of a Manhattan is that it highlights the whiskey rather than masks the flavor).

A mix of whisky, sweet vermouth, and bitters – while you could mix it up in a hot water bottle, I admit I prefer it over ice in a short glass. It’s sharp and bitter but has a very subtle sweetness thanks to the bourbon and maraschino garnish. And as an added bonus - I usually get a double-take from the bartender for ordering such a stiff drink.

Champagne. The quintessential New Years quaff. Toast in the New Year with a nice glass of bubbly. Yeah yeah yeah, not a cocktail blah blah: it’s a nice (light!) change from the alcohol-heavy cocktails, so there ;)

A safe and happy New Year to all! See ya next decade.

27 December 2009

Weekly Update 12.27.09

As like every other Jesus-lover on the planet, we had a busy busy busy week going into Christmas. And then, finally, blessedly, the holiday. Pictures of our days can be seen here.

And then there was the blizzard.

No, really! People: I have lived in Kansas for many, many, many moons by now. My days of Wisconsin blizzards are long past. In this state, I had yet to see such a thing. That is, until Christmas Eve. Lawrence was in a Blizzard Warning for the holidays, believe it or not. It started icing late Thursday morning, so we hit the road a little earlier than planned. Just south of KC it turned back to rain (woohoo!), so the trip to Southeast KS was thankfully uneventful.

We had our fun Kemmeter holiday, Pittsburg got sleet and about 4 inches of snow on top of that. Christmas morning Mass was a bit empty, but we were still able to get there. Barely.

We drove back to Lawrence on the 26th, driving was a bit hairy in spots but we made it. And man, but did they get the snow and drifting while we were away. And we missed it! The whole thing! My first blizzard in Kansas, and we are south of it. Phooey.

Peter did get his introduction to snow when we got back. He had the indignity of wearing a pretty white and bear-eared snowsuit. On the scale of embarrassment, Peter seemed to find it just a tad beneath Ralphie's pink bunny PJs. Just barely.

Also Scott refused to put the dear child anywhere near the white stuff but instead elected to hold him tight, so I have no fun snow pictures to share. Blame the man.

We also did our own little Christmas present-opening time with Peter, he hardly noticed (figures).

Other than that, the rest of the weekend was spent unpacking and cleaning and getting our dear child back on a regular schedule. On Sunday we attempted to go grocery shopping. It was a serious effort. On top of the usual work-around-naps and spend-an-extra-30-minutes-getting-a-child-ready-to-leave-the-house, we had to shovel a bit and get the car warmed up. Finally ready, everyone's in boots and winter wear, and we brave the elements to head out.

And the car, it is stuck in the driveway. Scott spun the wheels for a good 5 minutes until we decided it was best to get the baby back in the house and have Scott shovel some more under the car...

Ten minutes later, and we're actually really ready. Peter and I get back into our winter garb, and... he has a dirty diaper. Um, we can smell it. So off with outerwear yet again, and I troop up to his bedroom to change him. And only after I get the dirty diaper off do I realize we have 3 wipes left in the container. So I make do as best I can, get him cleaned up, then when wrapping things up I accidentally drag my knuckles through the dirty diaper.

Um, yeah - g.r.o.s.s. So I stand there holding Peter with the good hand and waving around my other dirty hand while squealing, which caused my White Knight Scott (still downstairs waiting by the front door) to also peel off his coat/hat/gloves/boots and sprint upstairs to my rescue, and blah-bitty blah blah yeah. It took longer than we thought to get going is my point. Curse the weather and dirty diapers.

Maybe not the best choice to end that story with a picture of the child in his highchair...

On the boy-child front: oh, he is breaking my heart, the rate at which he grows. He scoots along the floor so, so well now. He makes a ton of new noises, clicking his tongue and squeals and shouts. The shouts and squeals I can do without, to be honest. He has also been very independent about his feedings, guiding the spoon to his mouth when you feed him and grabbing baby Cheetos out of your hand to feed himself.

He has two pearly whites poking just above the surface of his bottom gums, not just one as originally suspected. Yikes. Makes sense, especially given the split personality of the poor darling, the giggles dissolving into sobs and hands mashing into his gums. Duh, mama. Such a sad affair; hopefully they finish coming in quickly and we get our sweet all-happy-all-the-time baby back. And soon.

Speaking of changing insanely quickly: He has also, as of today, become quite the comedian. He makes funny noises and laughs and laughs, he plays peek-a-boo. During bedtime, he was done eating but not sleepy in the least. I tried the Technique-Of-Last-Resort (aka the pacifier, which works every once in a blue moon), and after taking it in his mouth he blew raspberries through it, giving me a sly look and then dissolving into giggles. Oh, my boy. The next Seinfeld, I tell you.

26 December 2009

Christmas 2009

Christmas 2009, baby! Photo Parade below. I hope that all my readers had a safe and wonderful holiday season this year!

The Christmas Eve table, set and ready for us to nosh:

This to me was just the cutest little decorated corner of my parents' house:

After a dinner of soup and sandwiches it was time to open gifts!

The obligatory "Leah and I take pictures of each other taking pictures on Christmas Eve" shot.

Peter liked Dylan's cars as much as Dylan.

Mahni and her personalized American Doll!

Someone got a pony from his grandparents for Christmas...

Cowboy doots!

Mahni painted my toes while I opened my gifts. Talk about pampering.

Scott had it reallllllly rough while at my parents' house (watching the nice big plasma TV in the den, in his lounge-y clothes and slippers. Drinking beer...).

All dressed up for Christmas Mass! We made it, barely. Streets were a little hairy at 6:30am (Pittsburg got sleet and snow the night before).

Jeannie sighting!

Peter and Mahni fit in some quality bonding time. Peter looooooves all her attention, which is good because my dear darling Mahni is a bit baby-obsessed.

Christmas dinner. Yay!

Peter enjoyed some of my hair while everyone else enjoyed some dinner.

Dessert! Cookies and gingerbread and ice cream, mmmm.

The dinner aftermath.

After Kemmeter time, we headed to Nik's for a few hours to exchange gifts and gab. Then it was off back to Lawrence. A good time all around!

24 December 2009

Things I Love Thursday: Cookies

I think Christmas Eve is appropriate to highlight Holiday Baking, weeeee! Merry Christmas everyone, have a safe and happy holidays. See you when we return.

Let the cookie parade begin...

Ambrosia Macaroons - I made these for the first time last year but I truly think they are going to be on regular rotation. They are easy, pretty, and I love the flavors: like eating a Mounds bar with a hint of orange. YUM.

Buttery Jam Cookies - also something I made for the first time last year, these pretty little things come from Dorie’s Bible. They don’t sound especially delicious when reading the recipe, and there isn’t a picture in the cookbook to go with the recipe, so they can be easily overlooked. But oh! I love them so much. They are slightly sticky/crisp on the outside and soft in the center, and the hint of ginger works so well with the jam.

Molasses - my all-time favorite, hands down. I like the recipe I have because they are spicy and crispy but also chewy. I roll mine in turbano sugar for some extra crunch.

Chocolate Mint Brownie - these are like poofy, soft Girl Scout Thin Mints. Only much easier on the pocketbook.

Peanut Butter “Blossoms” - who doesn’t love peanut butter and chocolate, right? This is my mommy’s recipe and they are the best. Using Hershey’s bars instead of Hershey’s kisses is a brilliant move on her part, in my estimation: much better cookie-to-chocolate ratio when you eat them :)

Spritz - another favorite from home, although I can’t link our family recipe. Because it hasn’t ever been posted. I’m not hiding it from anyone, however: instead I have lost the magic art of making these. When I was a kid and helped my mom and sisters, I could do it with my eyes closed. But these days my dough is always too firm, won’t go through my cookie press. I’ve tried them a million times and always give up in frustration. Some year, I’ll get it right. My mom uses almond extract in hers, by the way, which gives them the flavor I love.

20 December 2009

Weekly Update: 12.20.09

Off to look at Christmas lights...


Hiya ho! Ho ho ho. Ho. Oh my gawd, I'm ready for Christmas to already just GET HERE so we can stop going crazy with all the rushing and blah blah blah all that crap. Blah. Ho ho ho.


Another busy week, yes I'm sure you're all surprised! I had our Book Club Christmas Get-Together, and was also feeling a wee bit under the weather, and was finishing cards and shopping (yes, I say this every week. And yes, I mean it every week. It is the Never-ending Gift of the Holiday Season). Got together with Ms Anna for our usual weekly workout, only we changed things up this week and did drinks at The Pig rather than a workout. Believe me, it was needed.

Weekend was spent... wait for it... finishing up cards and shopping (hee!), wrapping stuff, and playing with Peter. He earned all the loving affection from me he could ever want, ladies and gents, because guess what: the kid's got a tooth. Like, a real honest-to-god, in-the-flesh tooth.

So, in the past? He's had fussy episodes. He's drooled so much it was like a faucet. He's run a low-grade fever and had... tummy problems? That's the wording I was looking for. And all the little things you hear happen when a baby is teething. Only, he was never teething. This went on for weeks and finally I was like dude, I'm not falling for your attention-seeking Fake Outs any longer.

Fast forward several weeks, to this week. Peter is clingy and all-around moan-y in the evenings. He's drooling like a rabid hamster. He's chewing on the bottom of the furniture with relish. He's feverish and isn't sleeping well and is having stomach problems - and me? I totally spaced all of it. I chalked it up to a "phase", a cold, I don't know maybe he chewed on the potted fern and gave himself a stomach ache or something. Until Saturday morning when I was absolutely shocked to find that razor-sharp tooth when goofing around with him. Oof. So, we officially have teeth. Yay. Now I get to worry about biting.

On the renovation front, I am proud to say that Scott has installed house numbers back onto the house. When Scott and Tim worked on the front porch, rebuilding most of it, they neglected to re-install house numbers. This was not something that concerned either Scott or I, until we discovered hey whaddaya know - at certain moments? It is very important to have house numbers prominently displayed on your house (i.e. whenever anyone new came to visit, like professional photographers or family members or new friends or I don't know, ALL THE DELIVERY PEOPLE CARRYING IMPORTANT PACKAGES). So, anyway. We didn't want the boring-old numbers that everybody else bought from Lowes, and instead Scott found these super-modern brushed steel house numbers. That are set out from the wall rather than flush. And, surprisingly, they match up nicely with our 70-year-old home. Rock on!

Yeah. Even more interesting updates to come next week, I am not kidding. We've got the holidays! And I'm baking! Peter will wear a tie! It will blow all your minds. I may even tell you about the one time (today) when he took a nose dive out of our bed when completely away from adult supervision. Yup.

Advent blessings (as my Beah would say).