Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Chili, everywhere

(I am using PW-style writing for this post.)
I made chili for dinner yesterday.  It had been in the crockpot all day long and the house smelled so good when we got home.  Josh wanted to get a few things done outside before it got too dark so our meal was delayed a bit and I was really hungry.  As I picked up our bowls of hot chili to take them to the dining room, I dropped one of the bowls.  Chili. Went. EVERYWHERE!  Of course Titus was at my feet so he had one entire side of his body covered as well.  I dropped the bowl right by the sink, and chili made it all the way across the room to the opposite wall.  Josh ate by himself as Titus and I cleaned the kitchen.  Yes, I let the dog help me clean.
Then I cleaned him.
Then I got my carpet cleaner out.
Then I realized just how much I hate the fact that we have carpet in our kitchen.
Then I ate.
Then I cleaned some more.
I was in a really bad mood all night long.  I thought a cookie dough truffle would help.  It was delicious, but I was still grumpy.
Then I went to bed.
Then I woke up and found even more chili on the wall that I missed last night.
Then I ate another cookie dough truffle.
Titus loves chili.
The end.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Yum, yum, and yum

If you don't have time to bake a ton of holiday goodies, these tasty little morsels will fill in just fine.
Nutter Butter Balls
Oreo truffles
Cookie dough truffles
(side note- I used almond bark to coat all 3 types)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

More holiday questions to answer

Time for you to answer some more questions about your holiday strategies.  By the way, if you did not read my Mom's 3 comments on the gift wrapping post, you need to go do that right now.  Her packages always look so pretty!  One little clarification on her comment- the stick-on tags she uses are not the plain little stickers that you buy by the sheet at Walmart.  They are the kind that fold in half and are decorated on the front.  They always coordinate with the rest of the package of course.  She also always puts a jingle bell on gifts for Titus.  He knows which boxes are his and I have saved all of his bells over the years.

Ok, here we go on round 2.  I want to know...
1.  Do you shop early or wait til the last minute?  Do you find gifts all year round and have a special place set aside for them in a closet?
2.  Do you participate in Black Friday shopping?
3.  Do you stick to a budget for your family or just buy a certain # of gifts?
4.  Do you shop in stores or mostly online?
5.  If you have kids, what are some of your favorite hiding spots for gifts?  (Don't worry, we won't tell them!)
6.  How do you open gifts?  Do you tear into them or try to unwrap with the paper perfectly intact?
7.  Do you save and reuse bows, tissue paper, wrapping paper, tags, etc.?
8.  How does your family open gifts?  Does each person get a gift and everyone opens at the same time?  Do you take turns?  Who passes out gifts?
9.  When do you put up and take down your Christmas tree?
10.  How/when did you discover the truth about Santa?

Here are my answers.
1.  I try to shop all year round, but I get most of my shopping done in November or early December.  I use my craft room closet to collect items bought early.  If I hid them, I would totally forget about them!
2.  Every year without fail.  It's much more fun if my Mom is with me, but I've done it alone too.  It's just tradition for us!  I could do a whole other post on Black Friday strategies!
3.  We have a budget with a little flexibility built in.
4.  This year I'd say 25% stores, 75% online.
5.  No kids, does not apply.
6.  I'm somewhere in between on this one.  Gifts from my Mom can slide perfectly out of their wrapping.  If you ever receive a gift from me, you don't have any options.  You must tear it off because of the amount of tape used.
7.  We definitely save bows (see my Mom's comment from yesterday's post.)  I like to reuse tissue paper if it's in good shape, and I will occasionally save paper if I really love it. 
8.  In general, we tend to each get a gift and then open them kind of together.  We're pretty flexible on this one.  Each year we pick one person that passes out gifts and plays "Santa."
9.  Tree goes up sometime after Thanksgiving and comes down around New Year's.
10.  I don't remember how old I was, but I remember my brother telling me, "I found our Santa gifts in the garage!"

Please comment here or on facebook.  I love learning about your holiday traditions!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

What kind of gift wrapper are you?

As I was wrapping some Christmas gifts last weekend I began to wonder what all of my friends thought of gift wrapping.  So this is your time to shine or confess, maybe a little of both.  Here's what I want to know:
1.  Do you love or hate wrapping gifts?
2.  What kind of wrapping do you use?  Do you like regular paper, foil gift wrap, kraft paper, fabric, newspaper, etc?
3.  Do you coordinate the gifts under your tree (use all the same wrapping paper or a few that coordinate) or is everything just mixed?
4.  Do you love ribbons and bows?  Do you make your own?
5.  What about gift tags?  Do you use the stick-on ones, use a scrap piece of wrapping paper, make your own?
6.  How much tape does it take for you to wrap a gift?  Do you use tons or can you wrap an entire box with only 3 pieces?  Do you use stickers as tape sometimes?
7.  How do you feel about gift bags?
8.  What do you do for the gifts you have to ship?
9.  Are you a skilled wrapper or do your gifts look like a 2 year old wrapped them?
10.  How do you prep the gift inside the box?  Do you use fancy tissue paper to pre-wrap the item or do you just stick it in there and call it good?

I'm really very curious about how each of you wrap.  I guess I should confess my techniques as well.  Please don't think less of me after this post.
1.  I do not particularly enjoy wrapping gifts, but I don't hate it either.  It's just something that has to be done.
2.  I usually buy my wrapping paper on clearance after Christmas.  I have way too much and could probably last 10 more years without buying more.  I can't pass up a bargain.  Foil wrap frustrates me even though it is so pretty.  I should confess that I sometimes use those boxes that have pictures on them and don't use any wrapping.  Yes, I'm that lazy.  For small items, I like those pretty little boxes that are printed on the outside and inside.  I think they're cute.  I would like to use something more creative like fabric but I never have.  Maybe someday...
3.  My gifts are totally uncoordinated.  I do however try to use more masculine paper for the guys and girly stuff for the girls. 
4.  Please don't hate me... I kinda gave up on ribbons and bows years ago.  I have a big box of bows, but I rarely use them (except for kids' gifts because sometimes the bow is better than the gift.)  We usually travel for Christmas and it is just too much trouble to deal with squashed bows.  Presents stack better in the car and under the tree if you don't have to worry about bows.  Without bows, ribbon seems silly to me.  There is one exception to this- see #5.
5.  Gift tags- I can go 2 ways on this one.  I like to cut up Christmas cards and use them as gift tags.  If I do this, I punch a hole in the top and then use curly ribbon on the present to attach the tag.  My other option (again, don't hate me) is the stick-on kind.  They're cheap and easy.
6.  I probably use a lot more tape than the average person.  I'd say about 8 pieces per box.  I don't tape the boxes shut unless they are busting open (due to me choosing a box that is too small.)  If the box requires packing tape to stay shut, I try to remember to fold one end of the tape as a "courtesy tab" so it can be easily opened.  
7.  I use bags for odd shaped gifts mostly.  I'm not the best with making tissue paper look pretty and again, they don't travel very well.
8.  Gifts that ship are pretty much like all my other gifts.
9.  My gifts probably look like a 12 year old wrapped them.  It could be worse, but it could definitely be better.  I did not inherit my Mom's skills at making packages look beautiful.  I hope she comments and tells you all about how she wraps (hint, hint.) 
10.  I usually pre-wrap the item in tissue paper.  If the tissue paper is patterned or colored, it's probably been recycled from a gift that we received.  Occasionally I will buy colored tissue paper, but only if it's a good deal.

So that's my confession for the day.  Basically I'm cheap and lazy when it comes to wrapping gifts.  Thank you to those of you who get gifts from me and love me anyway.  Please share your approach to gift wrapping.  If you don't comment for yourself, I may feel compelled to do a separate post on how you wrap based on gifts we receive.   
Stay tuned for confessions on Christmas shopping and gift OPENING.  

Friday, December 10, 2010

"Honor thy Father..."

This past summer in Bible class, our church studied the 10 commandments.  Josh volunteered to teach command #5 on June 20th.  Significance?  "Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you."  Ex. 20:12  and June 20th was Father's Day.
So why do I bring this up nearly 6 months later?  Well, tomorrow marks 2 years since my sweet Daddy passed away.  When Josh was preparing to teach back in June, it really made me think about this verse in a whole new way.  I think it's safe to say that God expects us to honor our parents regardless of whether or not they are still living.  Honoring those who are still living seems pretty easy and straightforward to me.  Bringing honor to those who have left us is not quite the same.  I guess I'm at the stage where keeping Dad's memory alive is the best way I can find to honor him.  Here are some examples:
1.  Using Dad's stuff- On Father's Day weekend, we set up Dad's horseshoe set in our yard in honor of him.  Josh has many of Dad's clothes and wears them regularly.  Sometimes I cry when doing the laundry because I miss seeing Dad in those clothes so much.  In the near future I plan on using some of Dad's other clothes for some sentimental craft projects.  Mom has given us a few of Dad's tools to use at our house too.
2.  Enjoy activities that Dad enjoyed- working on the cars, playing horseshoes, watching old TV shows like Little House on the Prairie and Andy Griffith, yard work, etc.
3.  Cooking recipes that were Dad's specialties or favorites- I had this great plan to fix several of Dad's recipes this week for dinner, but holiday parties and other activities got in the way.  I'll try again next week.  I did manage to make his waffles last night (recipe to follow).  I also have great memories of Dad's meatloaf, taco night, "Dad's stuff" sandwiches (I'll share that one soon too), and egg and bacon sandwiches.  Some of Dad's favorite foods included Grandma's cinnamon rolls, homemade ice cream, chicken and dumplings, and DQ blizzards.  His favorite restaurants were Cracker Barrel and Papa Felipe's (in ABQ). 
4.  Photos- of course we keep pictures of Dad around.  Here is the one that I keep in my office.  I think it's from Christmas 1997.

My Dad was truly a wonderful man deserving of all the honor I can possibly give him.  I miss him terribly and still cry nearly every time I think of him.  I know that he would prefer that we all laugh every time we think of him, but I'm just not to that point yet.  I rarely make it through a Sunday church service without crying because of some song or scripture that is used.  If there is a prayer for someone with cancer or mention of someone passing away, I can't hold back the tears.  Dad is still in my dreams quite often and so many little things throughout my day remind me of him.  I can't even drive to work without thinking about him because back in 1999 he installed that great little cruise control in my car that we still use everyday.  He really did have a gift for fixing anything and everything. 
For those of you who have lost one or both of your parents, what do you do to bring them honor? 
For those of you who have not experienced this kind of loss, please cherish every minute you have with your parents and give them as much honor as you possibly can.

Here's Dad's waffle recipe as promised.  Make it in honor of my Dad tomorrow morning if you don't already have breakfast plans.  Remember, you MUST eat them with peanut butter if you want to do it right! 

2 1/2 c. flour
3 T. sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
4 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
Sift these ingredients together

2 cups of milk
1/2 c. vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
Mix these ingredients together in a separate bowl.
Combine the wet and dry ingredients together and mix well with a hand mixer.  Cook in a lightly greased waffle iron.  Serve with butter, peanut butter, and maple syrup. 

Friday, December 3, 2010

Random leftover pictures

Just a quick post with a few fall pictures that don't really deserve an entire post of their own.
Back in October, Titus (which by default also includes me) was asked to walk in the ACU homecoming parade alongside the Chemistry Club float.  This was Titus' second ever parade appearance- his first was a St. Patrick's Day parade in WA (pictures here).  He really thought the whole crowd was there to see him.  Several faculty and students cheered for him as we passed by, other dogs barked at him, and he tried to eat candy off the ground that the kids missed.  It was hilarious.  For those of you who care, the chemistry float was a huge benzene ring made of PVC pipe and a hula hoop.  It fell apart 10 minutes before the parade began, but the students managed to fix it well enough to make it through the end.  Notice the lab coats and goggles- love it!  The theme was "Connecting across the long purple line."  The Chemistry Club signs read "Bonded together."  So nerdy!

These are just a few pictures from around our property as the oak trees welcome fall.  The colors are much better in person, but you get the idea.

That's it.  Hope you have a wonderful weekend!