Sunday, December 13, 2009

12 of 12: The Frantically Preparing for Cookie Party Edition

'Twas the day before my cookie party, and all through the house...
All of these pictures were taking in my kitchen and entry way, in Thetford/England. 

0750- Christmas tunes on the iPod. I decided to kick off my baking day with Kristin Chenoweth singing Christmas Island. Her album, "A Lovely Way to Spend Christmas" is my newest favorite. I just love Broadway voices...KC is the original "Galinda with a gah" from Wicked.  With the music on, I'm ready to get my holiday spirit on and start TONS of baking!

0800-Can't bake without an apron! Today I chose the Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville... I was wishing that I had a Christmas apron to wear :(  But I'm very very proud of myself for not deciding to postpone the cookies in favor of making myself a new Christmas apron! Ha!

0900-First batch(es) of the day: Pumpkin-Cranberry Oatmeal cookies. (Recipe here) Made these earlier in the fall and loved them SO much that I decided these would be my cookie party recipe this year! That means I need 6 dozen of 'em!

0945- Too many doughs in the kitchen! I started baking the PCO cookies last night, and due to an oven malfunction, only ended up with 3 dozen that I felt were an adequate representation of my baking! So I needed to make another batch today. And, since I had a cookie party cancellation, I decided to make a second set of 6 dozen cookies: Orange Infused Snowballs. I started on that dough while I was working on the PCO dough and that was *not* a good idea. I ended up dumping a teaspoon of baking soda into the wrong dough. It's really hard to tell baking soda from powdered sugar, so I tried my best to take it out! Then I moved the OIS dough to the other side of the kitchen and focused on the PCOs!

1245- Three oven errors this morning totally blew my theory that my oven just likes to act rebellious after 11pm. I think this is an overheating error, so I had to change my cookie strategy (can't wait for the landlord to fix this when I have 17 dozen cookies to bake!). So, I baked 2 sheets (about 30 minutes), then turned the oven off for an hour. Then baked 2 sheets, then turned the oven off. Not the most efficient strategy, but better than ending up with half-baked cookies!

1300-During my oven's break, I decided to package up the PCO cookies that are done. I lined them up, wrapped them in clear cellophane, and tied some burgundy and gold bows on the ends. I think they looked so pretty!

1430-Here they are, all wrapped up and ready to go home and get eaten by their new owners! I had to store them on my stepstool in the entry way (where my basket of mittens usually is) because all of the kitchen surfaces were taken!

1600-My first batch of Orange Infused Snowballs are out of the oven. These bake at a lower temp, and don't spread, so I think I was able to get them all baked without having to switch the oven off! Almost 8 dozen!  Recipe here.

1700-Another break...for the oven and for me. I went to Wilkinson & Pound Stretcher to pick up some ball ornaments to use as vase filler, and to drool over the white Christmas tree and lavender garland. I didn't buy it...yet. I might go back tomorrow. I love that white tree! The black ball ornaments are for the baby shower I'm planning.

2000- I saw this cute cookie packaging idea here. I just used a 2.25" strip of patterned paper instead of fabric scraps. I think these are so cute! A dozen snowball cookies were a perfect fit!

2350-Here's my tiny fridge...eggnog, gingerbread eggnog, milk, hot broccoli dip, fudge, Buster bars & Buckeyes ready for tomorrow.
2359- It's midnight...and still TONS on my to-do list! I stayed up until 2:30 or 3, then got up at 7 to finish getting ready for my party! *Almost* everything was done in time, but I didn't sit down until everyone left at about 4:30. Well, I take that back...what kind of hostess would I be if I didn't sit and enjoy a nice chat with my guests?
But that's why I'm late in getting my 12 of 12 posted. Now all I want to do is sit and relax...but I have the party aftermath to tend to! :(

Check out other 12s here

Friday, December 11, 2009

Thursday 13: Christmas Movies I Love

Thirteen Christmas movies I love:

1. Elf. Elf just makes me smile. And smiling's my favorite.  I watched it in May and wanted to decorate my house right then! Watched it again in July and once again had to fight the urge to put the tree up! And the last time I was in an elevator, I was very tempted to push all the buttons like Buddy the Elf and say, "It looks like a Christmas tree!"

2. A Christmas Story. I miss having TBS so I can watch this for 24 hours on Christmas Eve. But I have the DVD, so I can watch it for 24 hours any day of the year!

3. A Charlie Brown Christmas. I love the Peanuts gang. I love Christmas. So, what's not to love?

4. Miracle on 34th Street. Old or new version.  I love Maureen O'Hara, but that little Susan in the new version is too too cute!

5. Snowglobe! I loooooove this one! I wish I had ABC Family so I could be watching their 25 days of Chrsitmas right now! Snowglobe is so cute!!!

6. Holiday Inn.

7. It's a Wonderful Life.

8. The Polar Express. The bells still jingle for me!

9. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.

10. Mickey's Christmas Carol. I used to watch this one every Christmas Eve with one of my very best friends & neighbors.

11. Home Alone.

12. Meet Me In St. Louis. Judy Garland singing I'll Be Home For Christmas gets me every time!

13. The Christmas Raccoons. We had this cartoon special taped from tv and I loved watching it. Two kids and their dog cut down a Christmas tree that belongs to a raccoon family. And there's a weird pink villain.

14... I'm adding on here, because I'm having a flashback of another Chiristmas movie from my childhood but I can't remember 1--if I liked it and 2--what it was called! It might be Santa Claus: The Movie. Or Prancer. I remember there being a reindeer. (So that narrows it down...*eyeroll). But the logo I'm picturing looks a lot like the Santa Claus: The Movie one.

What are your favorite Christmas movies?
Check out other lists of 13 here

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

My most favoritest thing about Dublin...

was this:

This is This is Knit.
And it is the very best place in Dublin.
This is Knit is in the cutest mall in the world. Or at least in Dublin.(Powerscourt Townhouse)
It is full of colorful yarn.
And nice people.
Very nice people who say wonderful things like, "Your Clapotis is lovely, by the way."
The nicest people are the ones who can look at your hand-knit scarf and call it by its pattern name.
Very nice people who understand how clever it was to knit a Knitty pattern with yarn in a limited edition colorway inspired by the Knitty editor.
These are my people.
I could've spent all day there.

But I was with some other people.
And, although they were good sports about finding the yarn shop, they just didn't get it.

Australia: The Complete Travelogues

Easy access to all of my posts about my 2008 trip to Gold Coast & Sydney Australia:

Interesting Blog Posts Coming Soon
Australia Day 1: China
Australia Day 2: Part 1-Location, Location, Location
Australia Day 2: Part 2- It's Root, Root, Root for the Home Team!
Australia Day 3: A Rainy Day at the Fair

Australia Day 4: Part 1-Great Expectations
Australia Day 4: Part 2-Room Service
Australia Day 5: No Rest for the Weary-Crikey!
Australia Day 6: Location, Location, Location (II)
Australia Day 7: Blue Mountains Part 1-Fauna
Australia Day 7: Part 2-Leura
Australia Day 7: Part 3-Thrill Rides
Australia Day 8: Part 1-Divide and Conquer
Australia Day 8: Part 2-Family Reunion
Australia Day 9: A Manly Morning and a Royal Afternoon
Australia Day 10: Part 1-To Market, To Market
Australia Day 10: Part 2-Starring David
Australia Day 11: The State of Our Passports


I wanted to post a Christmas card here today, because it's SITSmas!! SITS is a fun community of bloggers who love to comment & get comments (and find "new" blogs to read!)...if you're one of those bloggers but don't know about SITS, head on over and check it out!

Our trip to Australia seems SOOOOOOOOOOOO long ago! I guess it was almost a year and a half ago, but so much has changed since then! And who knows what will change between this year's Christmas card (which I'm not posting here since I haven't mailed them out yet!) and next year's!?!

Since last year's card:
We left Okinawa :(
We spent a month (D) or two (me) in the states
D moved to Greenland
I moved to England

Before next year's card:
I'll send out this year's card
D's moving to England
We'll have to buy a car
I hope I'll get a job
Maybe we'll have some visitors
And who knows what else 2010 will bring?

If you want to read more about 2008's trip to Australia, click here!

Sunday, December 06, 2009

December Goals

Better late than never:

1. Run. It's becoming harder & harder to get motivated to run. The sun is stubborn. The rain and wind are persistent. I never know what to wear... long sleeves over long sleeves or long sleeves over short sleeves? Jacket or no jacket? Lightweight long sleeves or something more substantial? Shorts, tights or windpants? Headband/earwarmer, stocking cap or baseball-style hat? Usually by the time I've figured out what to wear, the weather has changed and I have to start over. 

2. Knit. Yay, I should have quite a bit of time for knitting this month! I'm going to visit David and he says I'm going to be really bored. So that means that before I go, I need to choose a couple of projects to take with me. Maybe one big project and one small? Or one big and two small? Even before that, though, I need to make 4 more pairs of mini-mittens as favors for my cookie exchange.

3. Stay up-to-date with my baby shower planning time line. I have it all planned out in a huge Excel file. So as long as I keep meeting the deadlines, the shower will be a success! Oh, and one of the things on the list happens to be a knitting I can knock out two goals with one stone!

4. Clean the house. I'm having company on Sunday! And since I leave shortly thereafter, I shouldn't have too much time to make the house messy before my trip, so it will be nice and clean when I get back too.

5. Finalize travel plans. Good thing I'm writing this goal post... because I just realized that I haven't booked the final leg of my return flight yet!

6. Read. I still haven't finished The Know-It-All, just about 20 pages to go. I also checked out a Joyce Carol Oates book, Little Bird of Heaven. And I have The Summer Kitchen on loan from a friend so I need to read that too. Plus, I still haven't read Dewey, which I bought over the summer! I'll get some reading done on my trip as well though.

7. Mail stuff. I think my Christmas cards & presents (very few presents!) are going to be late. But, better late than never!

Reminder: 'Tis Better to Give Than to Receive

I'm going to visit David for Christmas, partly so we can continue our "streak" of spending every Christmas together (we've missed every other holiday at least once) and partly so I will be the closest I will ever be to Santa's Workshop (unless Santa makes all my dreams come true and invites me to intern as an elf at the North Pole!).

The people on D's floor decided to do a Secret Santa gift exchange, and I was included in the drawing. Secret Santa gift exchanges always make me nervous. I really put in some good effort to give great gifts, but don't always get the luck of the draw. But...the gift is in the giving, right? 'Tis better to give than to receive.

(My best Secret Santa ever was "Backpack" at Camp Lawrence Christmas in July. She spoiled me with all kinds of scrapbooking goodies. I think that year, I was buying for my camp director, Batty. He loves cashews, so he got some variety of cashews every day. I may have cured him of his cashew habit that summer.)

The instructions were to list "three likes and three dislikes". And that's what your Secret Santa has to work with. The Secret Santa who has never met me. This assignment was very difficult for me. How specific should I get? I don't want to sound picky, but I want to give this person some guidance, you know? I like a lot of things... but if I put "reading" on the list, how does that really help my SS? If I list "reading-fiction", that's still pretty darn vague. But if I get more specific and say, "reading-Jodi Picoult books," then what if I end up getting the ones that I've already read? I didn't really feel comfortable putting "knitting" on the list, because a non-knitter really probably has no idea what a knitter would want, where to get it, etc. Same issue with "scrapbooking"... what if my SS doesn't know a thing about scrapbooking and I end up with a pack of construction paper and some Hallmark stickers, which are great for putting on envelopes, but not exactly my scrapping-style, kwim? So I reminded myself that 'tis better to give than to receive, and tried to give my SS a little guidance with a good price-range. The likes I decided upon? Cooking & Baking, Christmas Decorations, and Flavored Lip Gloss. If I got this list, I'd be pretty good... maybe some kitchen gadgets, a cookbook or magazine, fun cookie cutters, pot holder or an apron, a cute Christmas ornament, candle holder, candy dish, or table-topper, and round it off with an assortment of LipSmackers. And probably a Burt's Bees for when you really need your chapped lips to feel good instead of just smell good.  Worst case scenario, I end up with $25 worth of plain colored ball ornaments. But... the gift is in the giving. 
Oh, I listed my dislikes as coffee, black licorice, and things that taste or smell like cinnamon candy.

So, when D came here to visit, he brought 2 slips of paper and I got to choose one. He assured me that I would be happy with either one. And, I ended up buying the gifts for both of them anyway. The one I picked listed (I am fairly certain he doesn't read my blog and so I can say here without spoiling the secret) "Ohio State T-Shirts, Ohio State Sweatshirts, Ohio State Sweatpants, Ohio State Slippers." So....a Michigan fan! Ha ha... I was happy enough to buy for this guy, because a---it was one-stop shopping! and b---I like Ohio State! As my "almost alma mater", the school I would've gone to had I not gone to Carthage, that's my fan school. Because Carthage football isn't even something I subjected myself to when I was in school there.
D's list had only one like, "Chicago Bears". So I had fun shopping for that one too!

Well, last night, I talked to David and he said he had some bad news. Of the dozen people participating in the gift exchange, guess whose Secret Santa had to leave unexpectedly and won't be back for Christmas? Mine. Of course. Good thing the gift is in the giving, because that will be the only Secret Santa gift I'm getting (until my SS returns after Christmas and has David mail me my presents). Except for the gift I bought for myself, just in case something like this were to happen. Yes, 'tis better to give than to receive... but you've got to remember to give to yourself too!

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Thursday Thunks

Because I really should be folding laundry or washing dishes or making delicious Buster Bars, I decided to participate in this week's Thursday Thunks. And also because it says "egg nog". I love egg nog. 
1. Sometimes when you are sitting around doing nothing, a thought randomly pops into your head. How many measuring cups do you own?
ummm....liquid ones? Maybe 5? Dry ones... who knows! However many will fit in the bowl full of measuring cups!

2. What is your favorite ice cream topping?
Maraschino Cherries. Hold the ice cream.

3. Egg nog - is it digestible?
Yes, and in mass quantities. I loooooooove egg nog.

4. Were you one of the insane humans who went to a store last Friday?
Yep, the yarn store in Dublin! I need to write more about my Dublin trip. But Black Friday isn't exactly "celebrated" there. 

5. There are 12 months in a year, anywhere from 28 - 31 days in a month, depending on the year, of course. Each day holds a special meaning for someone, some days hold a special meaning for everybody. Do you have a 2010 calendar yet? 
Nope. Well, just the school-year one that my alma mater sent me. I need to get a day planner...should've put that on my Christmas list!

6. Kids are funny sometimes and say the darndest things, but it's ok because they are kids and they are so adorable. A two year old is cute when they say a swear word. Admit it, they are. What was your favorite nursery rhyme growing up? Hey - if you don't have a favorite, just work with me here and pick the first one that fell off the wall and broke like an egg or came out of the sky like a cow who just jumped over the moon.
I don't know!

7. Most of us have some type of machine that people like to call 'vehicles'. Some are blue, some are yellow, some are red. Some have trunks, some have beds and some even can't decide if they are a car or a truck. We put gas in them, check the oil and drive them all over the place and stop them in places called parking spots. Picture in your mind the machine you currently own and if you own more than one, picture the one you last drove - when was the last time you had a new tire on it?
Before I owned it. But I've been told to put "new tires & wheel alignment" on my to-do list.

8. For those of us on Facebook, do you wish to share your Facebook identity with us?
Those of you who I want to know it already do.  :) As for the rest of you, I'm far more interesting here, trust me.

9. Santa's coming! Where's the best place to hide presents? Any clever little tricks for keeping those nosey people from ruining the surprise?
Doesn't matter where they're hidden. I WILL find them.

10. Have you heard that the world is going to end in 2012? Some people think that the world isn't actually going to go BOOM! and be no more, they think that the "end of the world" is actually going to be a worldwide takeover by a certain country and/or religion, which all has to do with the current president of the USA. Do you agree?
Ummm...hadn't really thought of it. But no. 

11. Butterly, butterfly fluttering through the air, please don't land on my freshly washed hair. What brand of shampoo did you use this morning? (and for those of you who still stink.. think of yesterday morning... and if that still doesn't apply to you - go get your stinky butt in the shower!)
Aussie. I love the smell.

Thursday 13: 13 Things on my Christmas List

I can't believe I didn't make my Christmas list back in October like I usually do. Maybe that's because I got my big Christmas gift in October...a piano! Well, a digital piano/keyboard. But it sounds *just* like a real piano and fits in my laundry/office/gym/and-now-music multipurpose room.
But now it's December and the year just wouldn't feel complete without a Christmas list, so here goes:

1. Glee: The Music, Volume 1 Have you not watched Glee yet? I absolutely love it. And that's why I'm dedicating 3 of the 13 slots on my Christmas list to it. I'm sad that I looked this up too late (I think) to get the Target exclusive edition that has 3 extra songs that you can't get anywhere else. I don't know how I'll be able to go on.
2. Glee: The Music, Volume 2  This one comes out on December 8. Eeeeee!  So that means you can catch the last episode until "winter break" on December 9, fall in love with the show and go out and buy this CD without having to wait! And listen to it over and over until you just can't stop smiling!
3. Glee: Music from the FOX Television Show  How perfect is it that I now have a piano in my house, and there is a book full of Glee sheet music? Very perfect.
4. Scarf Style  I put this book on my list every year. I look for it every time I'm in a bookstore or knitting store. I don't know why I haven't just ordered it online already!
5. Official Book Club Selection: A Memoir According to Kathy Griffin  Because she is hilarious.
6. Make Mine Music This DVD has one of my most favoritest things from childhood on it... Johnny Fedora and Alice Blue Bonnet. You can watch it here on YouTube. Or, I can get this for Christmas and you can come watch it on my big tv.
7. A cute box bag to carry around some little knitting stuff or small projects like fingerless mitts or teeny tiny sweater ornaments. So it makes it even more sensible and cute to choose one with Grazing Sheep on it!
8. Vera Bradley Coin Purse I have one already and I quite like it. The only problem is that I also have 2 other little accessories in the same pattern, so when I need to dig in my bag for my American money, I'm always pulling out the coin purse full of British money. Life would be so much easier if I had a coin purse in a different color/pattern, like maybe Purple Punch, Mod Floral Pink, or Java Blue.
9. Running Headband because ears get much colder in England than they do in Okinawa.
10. Dance 'Til Dawn  Love this movie! I want to watch it at my birthday party. And I want it to be a slumber party.
11. A fleece beanie for running when it's too cold for just an ear warmer.
12. The Runner's Rule Book: Everything a Runner Needs to Know and Then Some
13. And, because I can't think of anything else, but I know that if I go upstairs and get the Stampin' Up catalog my list will be longer than 13, a Survivor Buff!
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