Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year

We have been fully enjoying the "nothingness" of our time off. It has been so nice, I must remember to schedule more "nothing" this upcoming year.
We will be eating lots of good pasta tonight with our friends and then the boys will burn it off with various wii games. I'm sure the hens will sit around and chat while the kids run wild. The best part the festivities are not at my house and I am not cooking. Okay, well I am in the middle of making the more labor intensive cookies in my repotoire, but they are worth it.
So from our family to yours we wish you all the best for 2009.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

We will be celebrating a white Christmas. Even though in true Washington style it has started to rain, there will be enough snow for Santa to use his sleigh.
We are off to my mom's tonight and then everyone will be coming to our house tomorrow for dinner. The down pouring of snow forced us to cut back dramatically on our festivities and it was actually quite nice.
So here is wishing everyone a very merry and relaxing holiday. If you are in need of a great little holiday movie I strongly recommend Emmet Otter's Jug Band Christmas. Quintessential Muppets, pure joy.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Snowblast 2008

Up here in there Great Northwest, we have an awful secret. At the sight of the first snowflake, all of Western Washington shuts down and we are glued to our TV's to just how bad it is going to get. Seriously, I think the folks in Las Vegas freak out less at the sight of snow than we do. However, there is nothing better than a good dumping of snow.
Where we live we were actually spared some of the really heavy snow, but there was enough to close the schools. On Wednesday, the schools closed because they thought they would get snow, but now snow came. Our district was one of the only schools to be open on Thursday after a two hour delay. The snow hit about an hour in and they decided to close school early. Friday was a half day and they decided to bag it altogether. We probably have about 3 inches of snow and that is enough for me. It is pretty to look at, but not impossible to get around in. Which is a good thing, because I'm not done with my shopping and Ben's birthday is on Sunday. Yikes :0)

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Aftermath

Well, Saturday night will go down in the books as one of our best parties yet. We had the best time and I'm pretty sure our friends did as well. We had a bout 40 folks come over and make merry with us. It was the perfect blend of old and new friends, everyone was mingling and the party had the great party "buzz".

As usual, we were running behind when the first guests started to arrive. Even though I had spent the past two days prepping, I still was stuck in the kitchen for the first couple of hours. The lesson learned for next year is NO HOT WINGS!! Those buggers took FOREVER to cook and made the kitchen about a million degrees (which did wonders for the hairdo and make-up) By the time I emerged from the kitchen I looked like I had just rolled out of bed, oh well. I don't know if this is a good thing or not, but most of the folks at the party have all seen me "rockin' the bedhead" at some point, so it really wasn't a big deal (I love my friends).

The house looked great and the spread was divine, however in all of the craziness of getting the food out, I forgot to take pictures. Ugh!! I hate that. I was even thinking to myself what a great post this would be as I was setting out the food. Oh well, maybe next year. What I was able to capture was the aftermath.

I swear we must have used every dish, bowl, platter, pot and pan that I owned and they were all waiting for me. If only the Party Elves would have sent their cousins the Dish Elves to my house. A few runs of the dishwasher (one of the greatest machines ever invented) and it was gone. Now I can start to think about my Christmas to do list. My mom and I are planning to do our cookie baking this weekend. That should be fun. We make a lot of fun ones and I will post on those later. Sam wants to have a Christmas tea party for some friends. I'm trying to figure out when that will happen, but it sounds like fun. I figure I would make up some cookies for the girls to frost. The guest list keeps changing. I'm trying to keep it to kids I already know, but Sam wants to invite "unknown" girls from school. I must say that makes me a little nervous. If I invite them does that mean that the moms would want to come and hang out as well? If they do, that means a whole other level of stress, which I would really like to avoid. Does that make me a bad mom? I hope not. I just don't like being on "display" in front of people I don't know.

Other than the potential Stepford Wife invasion, the holidays should be pretty calm. The plan is to get Christmas cards done and out by next Monday. My card writing has been less than stellar the past few years and I'm sure some folks have probably assumed we have fallen off the earth. This year I will redeem myself (or at least that is the plan)
Hope everyone's holiday planning is going smoothly. We are off for pizza tonight with the Browns. Yay, no cooking for me!!
Happy Monday everyone!!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Party Elves

There seems to be the notion around here that the party elves come and do everything when we entertain.
Oh how I wish that was true.

Thursday, December 4, 2008


Of course, I seem to have a million things to do to get ready for Saturday. I still have to shop and prep and of course, clean. But I just can't get motivated. I seem to take one step forward and 2 steps back. We got all ready to do the tree yesterday and then we found out that after a good 10 plus years, our tree has died. Not completely dead we have about 5 lights that still work, but now it requires a decision: real tree or new fake one. One of the very few fights Joj and I have ever had took place in a Christmas tree lot, knee deep in mud in the pouring rain. It was then we made the switch to a fake tree. I guess I will pack the kids up and head over to Big Lots to see if there are any deals to be had. I should probably suck it up and make due and then buy my tree AFTER Christmas for the best deal, but I don't think I can wait. I want my umpa loompa NOW.

So with the house in mild deco chaos, Joj decided he wanted to take cookies with him to work today. I like to bake for him and his buddies, especially when they just approved the new contract so the Boeing engineers will NOT be striking this January. I did, however, start baking a little late in the evening. In doing so I forgot to put the egg in the batter. Ugh!! I hate that. Spend all that time, and more importantly those ingredients, all for nothing. I guess the cookies are okay, but not as good as the should be and when you know what they are supposed to taste like it is hard to go back to sub par cookies. We are cookie snobs, sad, but true. I may put them in the jar and see what happens. The kids might eat them, but at least I won't feel as guilty letting them get stale before I throw them out. Maybe I can crush them up and use them for crumb crusts. Hey, now there is an idea.

The kids have a half day today and I think we will hit the grocery store after lunch. They are almost actually helpful when we shop. However, the large bulk candy isle is what I think keeps them in line. Yes, I'm willing to spend a buck on bulk candy to bribe the kids. I'm not proud, but whatever works at this time of year. And speaking of this time of year, I'm totally stumped as to what to get the kids for Christmas. They need nothing. Ben did ask for new blinds and a fancy foam mattress. Gotta love a kid who can appreciate those practical gifts. Sam on the other hand, not so easy. Everything she sees, she wants. I do think I will put together a craft center type thing for her. She likes to color and cut and stuff like that. Other than that I'm pretty stumped. We usually keep things low key at Christmas since Ben's birthday is right before (big birthday, small Christmas) but it still doesn't make it easier.

Okay, I've twiddled away enough time. The kids will be home in 20 minutes and I should probably get something done other than get caught up on Top Chef. Hello, Fabio :0)
Happy Thursday Everyone :0)

Monday, December 1, 2008

T minus 5 days and counting...

This Saturday is our annual Christmas party.

Every year we invite everyone we know over for food and fun. One of the major draws is that my mother and sister-in-law makes a ton of sushi. Now, I am not a sushi person, but my friends sure are. Whenever the invites go out the first question is always, "Is Akiko making sushi?" I would like to think my friends would come even if she wasn't, but I'm a realist :0)

Every year the preparation routine is the same. On the Monday before, I get my carpets cleaned. I know some of you are thinking I'm crazy to clean the carpets before the party, but they REALLY need it and it just makes the house feel cleaner. It also forces me to deal with the piles of clutter that seem to accumulate in the corners. Once the carpets are cleaned, we set up the tree and start to decorate.
I don't have a ton of stuff, but I really like the things I have.
After the decorating, I go shopping for the food. Now I'm not a big "give everyone I know a gift" kind of girl, but I do love to entertain my friends, so I see this as my gift to them. I was smart last year and after the guests went home (around 3 am) Akiko and I sat down and made notes on what worked and what didn't. The biggest lesson from last year was let folks bring stuff.

Last year we killed ourselves and it was a lot of work. So this year when folks ask if they can bring stuff I say sure. That way they know there will be at least one thing they will like :0) Even though we are taking help we still have a pretty big menu. Appetizers are so fun to make and it seems like everyone has a favorite.

This year the tentative menu includes:
Various Sushi
Beef Satay w/ peanut sauce
Hot wings
Hot Artichoke and Crab dip
Bacon wrapped dates
Deviled Eggs
Piggies in a blanket
Sweat and Sour Meatballs.
Prosciutto wrapped cantaloupe
Baked Brie
Hummus and veggies
Random Christmas cookies
Chocolate Fountain and stuff to dip

Yup, it will be a lot of work, but I'm hoping to spend most of Friday prepping the food and that will Saturday for last minute cleaning. We are still waiting for the RSVP's to come in. I'm so greatful for those who have already done it, but I'm still waiting to hear from over 20 couples. I just want a good crowd. I hate that awkward silence at parties. At least we have some stuff for our guests to do. We have darts and Foosball downstairs and Joj is wanting to get Guitar Hero for the Wii. I don't know about that, but it might be fun later in the evening once everyone is a little more loosened up.

I hope everyone had a nice and relaxing Thanksgiving. We sure did, but it was go, go, go. As I look ahead at our calendar every weekend is full, but it is the good kind of full filled with lots of friends and family. My goal is not to stress this holiday. I'm trying to keep things simple and really only do the things that I WANT to do. We shall see how that goes.
Happy Monday everyone :0)