Friday, December 28, 2007

Feeling a bit squeezed

As another year comes to an end, I'm beginning to feel a bit of a squeeze. I'm at a storage crossroads. I do a lot of "big" cooking and therefore require lots of dishes and serving pieces. I however live in a house that was not built for storage. The cabinets were chosen because you have to put something on the wall. That's it. No actual thought of what might be stored in them and if those items would fit? A 12 inch cabinet over the dishwasher??? Are you kidding me?? Anyway, let's just say my stash of dishes and such are scattered all over the house. This makes it a complete pain to put things away. A couple of months ago, I got a big burst of energy and completely organized my cabinets. Bree would have been proud. However, it was not to last. In order to "maximize" my storage, incredible amounts of stacking had to occur. Now every time I need to get, or worse put back, a dish it is like a big game of Jenga.
So now the question: am I brutal and purge, purge, purge? or start stashing away money for my new kitchen cabinets? I know I should purge, but it is sooooo hard. I have nice things and it is hard to let them go. I suppose I can start with easier pieces I have picked up while thrifting, but that will only go so far. I have more stuff than room. Bummer.
I guess I will take the plunge and purge. It always feels so good when it is done. With New Year Resolutions just around the corner now is as good of time as any. On Christmas Eve, I took 6 large trash bags full of house stuff to the goodwill. I'm sure there is another 5 or 6 lurking. Okay, I've talked myself into it. Let the purging begin :0)

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

We had ourselves a merry little Christmas

Well, another Christmas is in the books. Although it was off to a bit of shaky start (everyone but me was hit by the flu bug) I think it turned out pretty well.
Before the plague hit our family, my mom and I were able to bake up a bunch of cookies. The plan was to put together some cookie trays for friends, but that just didn't happen. So here we were on Christmas Eve with tins full of naked cookies.
Sammie and I decided we would frost the cookies, since we had to leave some for Santa anyway, and it turned out to be a very fun time. In fact, I think this will be come a new little tradition. We had "It's a Wonderful Life" on in the background, we frosted cookies and after leaving a few for Santa we drove around and looked at lights. It was a nice way to wind down Christmas Eve and then kids were almost asleep by the time we got back which made bedtime a snap.
Christmas morning Ben came in very early and wanted to go check out his stocking. I told him he had to wait for Sammie, who was still sleeping, and he actually did. Poor Ben, Sammie slept in until 9. There is a running joke in our family as to the contents of stockings. When I was in Jr. High, my brother took my Journey tape and used it to document his Christmas Eve. At one point he goes and does a little recon on his stocking contents. He states he had received an orange, a candy cane of M&M's and 2 lottery tickets, both losers. He signs off with "wish me luck under the tree". Of course at the time, it was not funny but now I wish I still had the tape. So now Santa always leaves oranges, candy canes full of M&M's and 2 lottery tickets. Santa also leaves on ornament which reflects the interest of each kid. It is kind of fun to see the progression of interest from Elmo to Clifford to super heroes and now Star Wars. Ben got the "Death Star" ornament which lights up and talks. Sammie's ornaments have gone from Jojo to Dora and now princesses. I'm trying to avoid the whole Disney princess thing, so I found a marshmallow princess. It is very cute.

Once the stocking were done, the wait began. We were having everyone for dinner around 5 and then we would open presents after that. Ben and Sam were such troopers. They didn't beg to open presents too much and kept themselves busy. Everyone was coming to our house for dinner. We decided to keep the menu easy: Prime rib, potatoes, asparagus, salad, rolls and cheesecake. I had never done a prime rib before and besides forgetting to season the meat (ugh), I think it turned out well.
Present time was fun and everyone got good stuff. Even though we don't really go overboard with gifts, there was quite a big pile.
Ben had asked for an electric blanket, gotta love a kid with a practical side, and Sammie asked for a fishing pole.
I love the fact that our kids asked for simple things. In an age of "I'll text you a link for my gift registry", it makes me happy that my kids are still unjaded. Our family wants for nothing and they seem to get that.
Today will be spent cleaning up the aftermath. I thought I did more last night, but oh well, at least I got a load of dishes through the dishwasher. Joji is at work and Ben is off at a friend's house so it is just me and Sammie. I think a little mommy/daughter bonding time cleaning the kitchen is in order, lucky Sam :0)

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Ben is 9

Yesterday was Ben's 9th birthday. Hard to believe. It has flown by. It is kind of funny that his birthday is right before Christmas. Ben's original due date was January 9th. I was happy to hear this because I always wished my birthday was "during school" so my mom could bring cupcakes. At least now I would have a kids with a "school" birthday, I was happy. However, my body and pregnancy didn't get along and Ben ended up being induced a couple of weeks early. So Ben came into the the world on December 21st at 7:51 pm.
He was so small. I was expecting a big baby, but he was only 6 lb 6oz. He had no fat and his poor little skin just hung on him. Since he was early he had trouble eating and dropped down to 5 lbs. Needless to say it was a very scary and tiring first few weeks, but soon Ben caught on and he hasn't stopped growing. He is tipping the scales at 115 and is almost 5 feet tall. Folks who meet him for the first time think he is middle school. But fortunately, Ben is still super sweet and a total mama's boy (in the good way) He still wants to be tucked in at night and likes to snuggle on the weekends. I hope he stays this way for a long time.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Rain, rain, go away already

I am a week away from Christmas. Ben came home from school sick, my house could use a good cleaning and my Christmas card list is getting shorter and shorter. Every year I kind of "hit the Christmas wall". We joke that one of our family traditions is the annual throwing out of the cookie dough. This year, it just might happen again :0)
December is usually grey and rainy around here. It can be a big Christmas buzzkill. The thought of leaving the house is not a pleasant one. One of my favorite scenes in Forrest Gump is when he is in Viet Nam and talking about the different kinds of rain. (I think he was actually in Seattle) He talks about the "big, fat rain". Today I was driving around and the raindrops were the size of nickles. It almost looked like snow, but it was 45 degrees. These are the kind of raindrops that soak you instantly. There is no defense. They aways find the back of your neck. It is so not fun. At least with snow, it is pretty. Rain, not so much. Everywhere has snow, but us. Just a light dusting to help motivate me, isn't too much to ask, is it?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Cookie Exchange: Hungarian Kifiles

The is a recipe for a Hungarian Kifiles (KEE-flees). We have them every year and only at Christmas. My grandma used to them very tiny, but my mom and I haven't been able to master that so ours tend to be more of a "two biter". They are light, flaky and not overly sweet. We make them with both prune or apricot lukvar, but I like the prune the best. These are the kind of cookies that will cause folks to hover in the kitchen and risk a burned mouth to eat them hot out of the oven. Consider yourself warned :0)

Hungarian Kifiles
2 C Butter
4 C Flour
4 Egg Yokes
1 C Sour Cream
Prune or Apricot Lukvar (located in the store with pie fillings)
Combine ingredients, divide into 5 balls of dough and chill overnight. (If you are not going to make the cookies up the next day, put the dough in the fridge as it will turn gray if left in the fridge too long)

Roll the dough out thinly and then cut into squares (the more even the squares, the easier to roll them)

Put a small dollop of filling and roll up like a crescent roll.
Brush with egg white and bake 20 minutes at 350.
As soon as they come out of the oven dust with powdered sugar and let cool. Once cooled, sprinkle again.

Be sure to stop by Jessica's, Jenny's, Marie's, Kate's and Meg's kitchens to see what goodies they have to share :0)

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Hustle and Bustle

You Are a Gingerbread House

A little spicy and a little sweet, anyone would like to be lost in the woods with you.
Today is a busy one, but of course it will be lots of fun. Akiko and I are in shopping mode. We are hitting the stores for goodies for the party, hitting the local thrift stores for some waiting holiday treasures and of course grabbing a bite to eat. On my "don't stress and get stuff done early list" for the party today is supposed to be my "deep clean" day. Yeah, somehow shopping seems more fun :0)

Monday, December 3, 2007

Holiday Fun

The carpets are cleaned and the tree is up. Holiday buzz is in the air. We have begun the prep for our party. We still have 20 folks who have not RSVP'd yet. I doubt that most of them will come, but it would be nice to know either way. Wednesday is the deadline, so I'm curious to see if I hear from anyone. One of the nice features of "evite" is that it will remind you if you have not RSVP'd.
We were going over the menu tonight. It takes a lot of thought to make up a party menu. I'm kind of a picky eater, so I really try and be sensitive to other picky eaters out there and have something for everyone.
Here is what is on the menu so far:
Sushi (California rolls, unagi maki, ebi sushi and some type of cucumber roll ~ Akiko and BaChan make amazing sushi it is the star of the show)
Beef Satay
Hot Wings
Sweet and Sour Meatballs
Egg Rolls
Baked Spinach Dip
Cantaloupe and Prosciutto
Veggie Tray
Deviled Eggs
Meat and Cheese Platter
Bacon Wrapped Dates
Pigs in a Blanket
Chocolate Fountain with various dippers
Sugar and Gingerbread Cookies
As for spirits, we keep it simple. Big bucket of ice with beers and "mikes". Usually we have Cosmopolitan Jello Shots. Kind of cheesy, but very tasty. However, I'm in a slight panic due to the fact that NO ONE has cranberry Jello. Hopefully, I can find some. If not, we will just have to make due with a Cosmo punch :0)

Thanks to the folks who signed up for the cookie swap (hopefully, we will get some more) I'm thinking our official post day can be the 12th. That way folks can get to see the recipes and still have some time to try them out. If you know anyone who might want to join us, send on over. The more the merrier!!
And speaking of merry... check this out. Too fun :0)